3334 posts • joined Wednesday 28th February 2007 21:13 GMT
If there's one thing I hate...
It's journos mixing up metric and Imperial (standard) measurements in one sentence. Such as:
'"BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring one metre long, 0.7 metres tall and 75kg weight...so far, BigDog has trotted at 3.3 mph, climbed a 35 degree slope and carried a 120 lb load," says Boston Dynamics.'
If you're trying to leave us all none the wiser please throw in a few measurements in fathoms, firkens, angstroms and Waleses for completeness.
The people who think the Saudis have got us over the metaphorical barrel are living in a different age.
Saudi Arabia is a country teetering on the edge of total economic collapse, living standards are in freefall, average income per capita is heading south, the number of extremely poor people continues to climb, unemployment is rampant and basic services are heading south. The vast majority of government spending goes on subsidies and servicing the ballooning national debt. The end-of-party fight has only been staved off temporarily by high oil prices.
In short, the country is a basketcase and even its oil reserves might be wildly overstated (the Saudis refuse to allow any external assessment of its oil fields). It's now quite widely believed that Saudi Arabia's largely fields are both overworked, damaged and in long-term decline. There have been no large discoveries in recent years and its hard to see how current figures of 9 million bpd can be maintained let alone expanded as the Saudis keep promising.
With oil making up something like 70% of Saudi income the ruling kleptocracy needs Western help - economic, technical and military if the party is to continue for any time. Our assistance should come with slightly less fawning and a lot more demands for Saudi Arabia to get out of the 16th Century and join the modern era. So far the Saudis have been very good at playing one Western power off against the other, perhaps its time for some joint thinking to restore some balance to the relationship.
Oh but what about the oil?
Its worth recalling that the 1973 OPEC boycott of the West did far more damage to the OPEC economies than those of the West. The majority of oil exporters rely on petroleum for the bulk of their incomes, when they turn off the taps their own people suffer badly - and quickly. If Saudi slows production its own economy would implode - and the playboys at the top would quickly find out what Wahabi justice is really like.
The degree of change to Earth's axial inclination is restricted by the relatively massive Moon. Earth's axis tilts between 21.5 degrees and 24.5 degrees to the normal of its orbit on a regular 41,000 year cycle. This is one of the so-called Milankovitch Cycles which have been linked to the regular glacial cycles since the Pleistocene. These cycles are included in the calculations for global climate, so no - changes in the tilt of Earth do not fully explain the current state of global warming.
Mars has no large moon and its axial tilt may change by anything between 45 and 60 degrees.
Don't forget this was done by Tessa 'Honestly, I've no clue who pays for my mortgage' Jowell, who managed to exclude the cost of potential overruns in the estimate, then forgot to include VAT and now we find out she didn't include any money for IT.
Just checking - did Tessa include some money for a stadium?
Police + cameras = YouTube!
Sorry being cynical there - the ability to have an on-the-spot recording will obviously be a major breakthrough in policing and Crimewatch viewing figures alike...
...unless of course during the struggle the defendent accidentally slips on a bar of soap whilst showering, falls down a flight of stone steps and repeatedly impales himself on a railing - wherupon (almost inevitably) the hard disk will be found to be corrupt.
Will these cameras have a little red light to tell you when they're recording?
Come back TiVo
I love my UK TiVo series 1 but I think I'd have almost indecent amounts of love for one of the newer models.
Is no UK media provider interested in licencing TiVo for their own set-top boxes? Sky is out - partly because it did such a crappy job on marketing the original box, but also because it wants to flog its (in many ways inferior) Sky+ box; but surely the likes of Branson need something to distinguish their own offerings.
Why are we using hydrogen as reaction mass, and not something that's easier to store/carry?
For chemical rockets hydrogen offers the greatest amount of energy per kilo when it combines with an oxidiser. Many large rockets use cheap kerosene liquid oxygen combinations for their lower stages then switch to liquid hydrogen oxygen for their upper stages that either insert payloads into orbit or send them on interplanetary trajectories.
A few experiments have been made with compounds involving fluorine and boron that potentially offer even greater amounts of energy, but they are notoriously corrosive and toxic.
For manned missions, hydrogen/oxygen is also used to power fuel cells because the waste (water) can then be used to keep the astronauts alive.
'Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills (DIUS)'???
Only because 'Department of odds and sods, watchamacallits and doohickies' would have looked lousy on a brass name plate.
'With expertise from an organisation that burnt down English holiday homes in Wales, the CNLA warned "incomers" that it would take direct action.'
Is Cornwall's education system now so bad that they have to import people to work a pack of firelighters?
Dear Mr. Brown,
For Christmas the coppers of Old England Town would like a pair of spring-loaded crime-busting boots; a group of groovy teenagers, their dog and a mystery-solving van; a searchlight that projects a bat symbol on to clouds and a time-travelling police box.
It'll be horrible
All the New Labour wonks and wired Cameroonees greasily showing just how au-fait they are with the Intertube. 'Is the Right Honourable Gentleman familiar with the Wikipedia article on...' or 'Does the Prime Minister realise that as of thirty seconds ago nearly seventy five million people have signed the Number 10 petitions asking...'
Faraday cage the entire place.
Then when you're done, brick up every door and window and pump the building full of formaldehyde.
'Great British institution'
Perhaps Byrne would have been more accurate if he'd ignored railways and electricity grids, and instead compared ID cards to other British institutions - such as income tax and John Reid.
Things well past their sell-by date, imposed on the population by government without consultation and that only exist to annoy.
Don't be too hard on Goose - his death in 'Top Gun' was a formative experience for me.
It revealed a great truth, that Tom Cruise is a TERRIBLE actor.
Could be worse...
...here's a name to freeze the blood - Amtrak.
If you've never had to deal with them, be glad - a company where 'guaranteed next day' means 'might be there in a week or so, presuming we can be bothered to deliver it and not just drop it on a random doorstep without taking a signature. Sounds broken you say? Must have been when we reversed the truck over it, the large hole in the side? Ventilation sir. And we took the opportunity to have a look at your parcel - nice computer you've got there and thanks for the memory, that'll go nicely in my own PC. Just sign there will you?'
Here in MK Amazon sometimes deliver with 'Home Delivery Network' - I'm not sure if they are national or what, but if I'm out and give them a call, more often than not they'll drop it round that evening, or first thing next morning - even on a Saturday. Oh and they're polite and friendly - it's almost disturbing.
What I find depressing is...
...that Rockstar presumably went through a business appraisal and thought that there was a large enough market for this game to invest a large six-figure sum.
Whether or not the game actually causes violence is almost immaterial, I just can't understand why anyone would want to play it. (And that's from reading the 'Edge' preview, not the 'Daily Mail').
19th Century railways
Byrne's ID cards will reflect 19th Century trains in many ways...
Everyday use of ID cards will be as smooth and seamless as transferring from Brunel's broad gauge Great Western to the remainder of the network. The unparalleled reliability of ID cards will be a delightful tribute to the atmospheric railway and the economic case for their introduction will stand as a lasting testament to 1837's 'Railway Mania'.
The end result of Byrne's delusion will be a lot of unpleasant crashes and a total inability to get from one side of London to the other without a great deal of inconvenience.
You know, there's something wrong about that - but I can't quite put my finger on it...
...oh yes! Wrong country you washed-up evil Marxist technocrat.
Anyone want to bet the next Home Secretary is somehow even more eye-swivellingly crazy than John Reid? I just can't think who it could be - short of David Blunkett and Hazel Blears performing some twisted Lovecraftian job-share.
From my experience PS3 compatibility with PS2 is pretty damn good - some minor sound issues on the games I've tried, nothing more.
A damn sight better than 360 -> XBox compatibility which is not only unavailable to anyone who bought the Core system, but which is patchy at best. Even those games that are supported seem to come with large numbers of graphical and sound glitches that render some of them practically unplayable (Star Wars : Knights of the Old Republic, I'm looking at you in particular)
Whatever Sony's problems with the PS3, backwards compatibility isn't one of them.
No bloody games and an online store seemingly held together with damp string - now those ARE problems.
'Granger is returning to the private sector and said he was considering a number of offers.'
Presumably these offers are from companies tendering for NHS IT contracts?
It'd almost be news if Granger *didn't* get his nose in the trough sorting out some of the problems he's created.
Our only hope...
...is that the rampaging hordes of deadly processionary caterpillars will develop a taste for squirrel flesh. Then we can use equip Weta's robotic zombie lizards with flame-throwers and get them to destroy the lepidopteran menace.
How we stop the planet being overrun by necrogeckos is still in the R and D phase down at the pub, but laser guided armadillos look promising right about now.
Yep, they exist; usually their militant activities are usually limited to writing letters to the editor of 'The Cornishman' and painting over English Heritage signs. Perhaps the pair of them have moved on to bigger targets and are now threatening fiery armageddon to over-priced fish and chip shops.
Having said which, Cornwall does have real economic problems - outside of Chelsea it is the area of the country needing the greatest multiple of annual income to get a mortgage, many villages are 75% holiday homes, water rates and council tax are ruinous, industry's in the crapper and no one can build new homes thanks to the entire place being divided between Prince Charles and the National Trust. The government couldn't care less since there are no Labour seats in the region, and the Conservatives were no better when they were in power.
The only thing that's been really helping Cornwall is Objective One funding from the EU which has been used to rebuild infrastructure; but that money is running out now.
Two bald men fighting over a comb
Whoever is ahead, the sales figures for both formats are dismal. It must be sinking in at Toshiba, Sony and Microsoft that *neither* format is making an indent on the DVD market, and nor will they if the current situation continues.
I'm amazed by the appalling quality of the titles being offered on HD (especially here in the UK). There are almost no 'must-have' movies, and no sign of HD being released ahead of DVD - exclusivity does drive people to adopt new formats. Right now, DVD releases come before HD - if people want the movie are they really going to wait and wait and wait for it to turn up - and then in the wrong format?
At the moment, having seen both, I think HD-DVD is *SLIGHTLY* better. It feels more finished - the menuing, options and interactivity I've seen is a lot better than those on corresponding BluRay titles. Image quality and sound are indistinguishable between the two in newer releases (no matter what the spec says) But perhaps the deciding factor is that the current HD-DVDs come without region coding; BluRay is being region coded - and the regions are different to those on DVD.
Whether HD-DVD can beat the Sony PS3 juggernaut is another thing. Until Sony produce some games for the PS3, BluRay's all many people are going to use it for - ahhhhhh - perhaps *that's* the reason for the games famine on PS3.
'He cited speeches given by the outgoing Home Secretary John Reid that suggested a "competitive" security industry, yet one backed by government, would be equally vital as a source of wealth for the UK as it was a means of keeping borders safe.'
What they really want is an advert featuring Osama bin Laden and Barry Scott from Cillit Bang saying how the highly competitive British security industry always kept terrorists on their toes.
Don't you think 'Bang! and the problem's gone!' would make a terrific terrortackling jingle?
First the Register tells us the robots serve our lizard overlords; now you're telling that that it's possible the lizards are actually robots!
Still good luck to Weta and their necrogecko - I haven't seen a realistic dead lizard simulator since I upgraded from Windows ME.
eBay and piracy
eBay couldn't care less about piracy. I bought a boxed set of DVDs through eBay advertised as being originals in the original shrink wrap. The buyer had a several-thousand rating, was an eBay top-seller, his own shop - you name it. In short, I trusted the eBay system.
The disks were pirated DVD-Rs (very well printed). I contacted eBay straight away, but their answer was pretty much 'get stuffed'. I filed a dispute and made clear I was willing to provide the disks to eBay as evidence. They ruled against me. When I went to their pages that talk about piracy and tried to raise the issue as a case of breach of copyright I got the standard 'eBay takes all cases of breach of copyright extremely seriously' automatic response, then nothing.
Not that the original copyright holders were much more interested. So much for that F---ing annoying unskipable advert FACT puts on the front of every DVD.
Six months later I got scammed on Amazon when one of their resellers (again very high reputation, claiming original disks) shipped blatant fakes. To their credit Amazon did refund the money, but they have never closed the seller's account.
I can only conclude these companies make too much money from buyers prepared to accept pirated goods to go to the trouble of enforcing copyright.
'In the next few months, the America's Army Real Heroes action figures will be available at retail outlets. The action figures realistically portray our Real Heroes, from the weapons they use to the clothing they were wearing the day of the conflict in which they earned awards of valor.'
I can't help but wonder if they're immortal in the video game.
Actually BluRay does sell the console
My PS3 spends at least half of its time playing HD movies; whenever anyone's seen the output they've been stunning - so if nothing else, PS3 does show people the future of movies.
As a solution, its a lot better than the XBox 360 + HD-DVD player offered by Microsoft, which is ugly, relatively noisy and looks precisely what it is - a kludge. (But the output is good)
Where its been lacking, especially in the UK, is the shocking number of exclusive games. There've been few enough PS3 games anyway, but the number that are truly exclusive is minuscule.
I quite agree that either exclusivity, or exclusive for x months is the way Sony should have ensured content for their machine - so far, I think it's only Virtua Fighter 5 that has had an exclusive PS3 window.
The alternative of course is that Sony could simply have opened the chequebook and bought studios - the same way Microsoft have built their XBox 360 catalogue.
A Brit breaks the law abroad in a democratic country. The offender receives a sentence from a recognised court in accordance with national law; a sentence not dissimilar from that they could expect back home in the UK.
The Foreign Office promptly intervenes to get them released; but the same FO won't do anything to free British residents from Guantanamo Bay?
Jesus Wept (and promptly set about Margaret Beckett's caravan with a spray can)
When the Tornado was first mooted, there were suggestions that it would be cheaper, quicker and better if Britain dusted off the plans for its mid-1960s TSR-2 which was superior in every respect. And far, far more beautiful.
Clarkson said this years ago
He pointed out that not only was the diesel Golf a better car to drive, it was better built and was greener, not only in terms of fuel burned, but in that it didn't contain several hundred kilos of toxic waste.
Seriously, what's the fuss about?
No one seems to think twice about showing slow-motion footage of the Kennedy assassination in which you actually see a man die. Many of these programmes (and the associated books slaveringly serialised in the same tabloids currently foaming over the Diana documentary) go into grotesque detail about Kennedy's injuries along with some choice autopsy photos, and whatever else they can dig up.
Last time I checked all TVs still came with an off button. If people are so outraged, don't watch and see how that affects Channel 4's advertising revenue.
As for the princes, shouldn't they be off doing roughty-toughty army type things rather than sitting around watching Channel 4?
It's all so slooooowwwwwww...
I dont know about you but the 8 they are currently offering is more like 2 and a bit in reality.
More like 512kbs and falling rapidly. My connection is almost useless until 2am when it picks up to the dizzying speed of 1.5Mbps.
John McCain, a man whose temper tantrums are legendary is looking for a fellow playmate.
If he's elected I'd give the world 20 minutes before a 'developers! developers! developers!' chair-chucking tantrum went nuclear.
It's about prestige
America placing missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic is seen by Russia as yet another attempt to rub its nose in the dirt. To many Russians it will be portrayed as a further example of the West dictating the post-Cold War settlement. They lost their empire in Europe, saw NATO roll up to the frontiers and watched in horror as the Yeltsin-era economy was systematically ruined by Western economic reform that reduced millions of Russians to penury.
Now America is placing missiles right next door in an area that Russia regards as its hinterland. The gesture is every bit as provocative as if Russia placed its own interceptors in Canada. The Americans have never been too happy about anyone trying to level the strategic balance by placing missiles right next door. Remember what happened when the USSR placed missiles in Cuba, just as the US had placed its own missiles in the UK and Turkey.
As for not upsetting the balance of power - the answer is - it could. There have been repeated attempts to reduce the number of warheads on each missile. Combined with the knowledge that a sizeable proportion of the Russian missile fleet is still liquid fuelled and incapable of an instant response to any attack, it means that Moscow is very worried about anything that could further weaken their ability to launch a massive counterstrike. That's why the new missile has been tested - it's solid fuelled AND it can be MIRVed.
The Americans are playing a dangerous game, they are clearly driving the Russian federation to a new arms race (and with all that oil and gas money, the Russians can afford all the missiles they want); the Chinese will move to a submarine-based ICBM system with more warheads - which will mean that the Chinese fleet will start considering the Pacific IT'S ocean - bringing it into direct opposition to the aims of the US Pacific Fleet. And it's going to tell the borderline nuclear states (India, Pakistan, North Korea) that they need more warheads and better missiles to make sure they can protect THEIR assets.
Slight typo in the article - deuterium isn't heavy water, it's heavy hydrogen makes up part of heavy water (deuterium oxide).
And for any Reg readers planning on killing their boss - okay that's most of you then; you can sterilise or even kill someone if you make sure they only drink heavy water rather than the usual stuff. Magners cider has much the same effect and is only marginally cheaper.
Counting the hours...
Until the Home Office announces funding for British streets to be digitised on an hourly basis. Done properly this could be John Reid's wet dream - sorry for that imagery.
Amazon is a prominent member of the body who brought the complaint against CD WOW! Yes, the same Amazon who import CDs and DVDs from Jersey precisely so they can avoid paying UK sales taxes.
The BPI claims that I need to pay over the odds for CDs and DVDs in order to support the thriving monoculture of the high street - should I hold my breath waiting for the BPI to begin action against Amazon?
The New Labour answer to Campbell's concerns is going to be obvious.
Tweedledum lookalike Tony McNulty will pop up and say that yes, it *IS* wrong that blacks are being disproportionate entered on to the database and that these concerns will be addressed - by forcibly enrolling EVERYONE on to the database.
Which, McNulty will plumply smile, will be so much better for everyone - no more racial discrimination and the police can enjoy all the publicity of clearing up old cases.
'Oh why hasn't he been sacked yet?' McNulty won't mention the risk to justice posed by bad samples, cross-contamination in the lab, bad techniques and samples of completely innocent people's DNA taken from crime scenes. McNulty and his master in the Home Office won't pause to think of the inconvenience and distress caused as innocent people are forced to prove their innocence against the 'certainty' offered by DNA 'evidence'.
It'll be another step to the Home Office dream of a country-wide Panopticon with them as the masters sitting in the middle.
Before the creationists wake up
'which I’m sure a clearly intelligent and educated man such as yourself will be chuckling over just as much as I was. For the rest of you less enlightened folks the deliberate omission here is ‘Carbon Dating’. How we laughed eh Danny?'
Only in a very few circumstances is carbon dating useful on a geological timescale; the half-life of C14 at 5700 years is just too short for most samples - 2 half lives takes you back just as far as the end of the last glacial. Instead they use other isotopes - potassium 40 -> argon 40, rubidium 87 -> strontium 87 and about a dozen others.
The creationists have got it in for C14 in particular because of the unique way it is made (by radiation bombardment of nitrogen), and like to point out (as if it wasn't originally discovered by scientists working on radiodating) that the recent mass consumption of fossil fuels, and the atmospheric detonation of nuclear weapons have screwed up C14 ratios in modern samples. HOWEVER, this has all been resolved by pinning C14 ratios to known dates recovered from samples of timber, lake sediments and so on.
However, the wackos still have one trump card. Pointing out (like it was new to the scientists who actually discovered it), volcanic emissions are depleted in C14, they say that it was obvious the Biblical Flood must have been accompanied by massive eruptions which would have screwed up the ratios - so you can't rely on C14 at all.
See how believing in one bit of nonsense allows them to dismiss almost anything. Creationism is an intricately woven web of lies with just enough mention of science to make it sound credible to a Panorama producer (sorry separate rant), but with actually no credibility whatsoever.
As for this museum, it's like 'The Flintstones' the themepark isn't it?
Channel 4 has been trumped in the 'how low can you go?' TV turn-off competition!
There's only way they can recover their status of the World's premier round-the-clock tatfest.
Creepy Professor von Hagens must perform an autopsy on the grave-robbed body of Princess Diana in front of a celebrity audience of Mohammed al Fayed, Jade Goody and Jimmy Carr. The incessant 118 118 adverts will all feature Justin Lee Collins eating small puppies.
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