* Posts by Mike Richards

3596 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Osborne stumps up £20m of your cash for wiggly wonder stuff graphene

Mike Richards

Re: Break even

Where the UK has traditionally not done well is spinning off university discoveries in a sustainable manner All too often IP is sold off for a quick buck rather than the university continuing to benefit from the discovery either through a spin-off or a licensing agreement. Cambridge has done pretty damn well, but even that pales in comparison to the huge high tech developments you see in the US around places like Cambridge MA, Stanford and Raleigh-Durham NC.

And are we sure Osborne's largesse comes without strings? It's not uncommon for government funding to require matching money from other sources.

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Canadian man: I solved WWII WAR HERO pigeon code!

Mike Richards

Re: I think I cracked the code!

No, no, no, it's from a Mrs Obuja from Nigeria whose husband was shot down over Germany and now needs my help to recover THREE MILLION Reichsmarks.

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Wikipedia doesn't need your money - so why does it keep pestering you?

Mike Richards

Is Toby Young a journalist?

I thought he was one of the seemingly endless supply of right-wing columnists that newspapers use to fill the gap between stories we all read online yesterday.

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Cameron defends U-turn on web filth ban, leaves filtering to parents

Mike Richards

Sidebar of shame

Hello? Is that my ISP? Can you block my children from having access to the Daily Mail website because I'd like them to grow up as rational, decent human beings.

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North Korea's satellite a dud, say US astroboffins

Mike Richards

Re: Failure?

It was a satellite launch and always planned as such. The trajectory for a satellite to enter orbit is completely different from that for a ballistic missile (it's generally with a lower apogee) and the North Korean rocket performed a dog-leg manoeuvre to avoid overflying populated areas. We have to accept that NK has a satellite programme.

Where their ballistic missile programme might have benefitted is that the country now has much better experience of building large, powerful motors and flying rockets in hypersonic regimes.

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Frack me! UK shale gas bonanza 'bigger than North Sea oil'

Mike Richards

US prices

'The consequences for the energy market have been dramatic. US gas prices have fallen by two thirds, the country is now self-sufficient on gas - and the United States enjoyed the largest fall in CO2 emissions of any major country as its power generators switched from coal to gas.'

US prices are probably not sustainable. There's a huge bubble in the industry and its bringing enormous quantities of gas to market and depressing prices below the cost of production. Prices will have to rise otherwise the gas companies will all go broke:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/business/energy-environment/in-a-natural-gas-glut-big-winners-and-losers.html?pagewanted=all

There's a nice article here about how even in the US, where the geology is simpler, better understood and has been drilled for longer than here in the UK, there are big questions about the life and productivity of wells:

http://www.powermag.com/gas/Is-Shale-Gas-Shallow-or-the-Real-Deal_5188.html

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Mike Richards

Always take early figures with a Cheshire Basin of salt

'Cuadrilla initially estimated the UK has enough gas to make it self-sufficient for 15 years at current consumption rates - but this may be underestimated by a factor of four.'

Cuardrilla drilled two wells which is far too few to make a reasonable prediction of reserves in a basin as heterogeneous as the Bowland Shale. The figures that were issued were extraordinary - they were claiming approximately fifteen times the amount of gas in the well-understood, and much larger North Sea Basin. It would mean the Bowland was more productive than most American gas bearing shales. It's not impossible, it's just not very likely.

Last year's BGS survey, which is the best we have right now, (but is likely to be upped) is 150 billion cubic metres - about 18 months worth at current consumption. But the biggest number that we need, and which we don't have is how rapidly that gas can be extracted. Shale gas is hard to get out - even with fracking - and wells don't last very long before flows fall dramatically.

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LOHAN fabricates full-fat fantastical flying truss

Mike Richards

Re: To Our Playmonaut:

Could someone with a 3D printer possibly clone the intrepid Playmonaut?

It'd be like Jurassic Park - only in space - and without dinosaurs. But otherwise exactly the same.

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Review: Apple iMac 21.5in late 2012

Mike Richards

One thing I've never worked out

Why do Apple put headphone sockets (and now the bloody SD card slot) on the back? Couldn't they go in the side of the shell if Apple couldn't bear to disfigure the front of the iMac?

I suppose one upside of the new design is that I can no longer absent-mindedly push SD cards into the optical drive.

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YES! It's the TARDIS PC!

Mike Richards

Tsk! Youngsters...

Sarah Jane Smith.

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Mike Richards

Anyone else remember the Prime Computer ads with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=iJeu3LCo-6A

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North Korean rocket works, puts something into orbit

Mike Richards

Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?

'NK has achieved full and complete control over food, water, energy. '

About that control over energy.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/dprk-dark.htm

You also might want to Google 'North Korea' and 'famine' before claiming they've got control of their food supply.

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Mike Richards

Does anyone else like the North Korean news presenter's style?

We should demand the BBC and Sky adopt the same style of terrifying enthusiasm when discussing the latest triumphs of the coalition:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/dec/12/north-korea-launches-rocket-video

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Patrick Moore: Lived with cats, accompanied Einstein on the piano

Mike Richards

Re: Good job he wasn't a diplomat

"I am ready to give von Braun a 'clean bill'. I do not believe that he was personally involved in atrocities, and it is also clear that he was in no position to prevent them. We will never know the full truth; I can only give my personal opinion"

The survivors of Nordhausen have testafied that von Braun was involved in atrocities (in and above the horror of Nordhausen). A lot of this came out after von Bruan's death, so it's entirely possible Moore saw the sanitised Disney-friendly von Braun NASA wanted to share.

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Mike Richards

Re: WTF?

He has an asteroid (2602 Moore), but it's a shame he didn't get a crater on the Moon. His charts of the lunar surface were the best we had until the space age.

Hmmm there isn't a crater on the Moon called Moore - yet...

Who's up to nuke the Moon in his honour?

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This is out of hand now: Apple attempts to trademark the LEAF

Mike Richards

And Orange have trademarked - erm - orange - which is a completely different shade from the trademark orange for EasyJet. But just to settle that, the company's did spend a fortune on lawyers fighting over a Pantone chart.

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Mike Richards

Re: To be fair...

'...they could be about to launch a new product or service, which they don't want to use the apple logo as its trade mark for, and therefore need to register a different trademark. '

Apple's getting into the audio cassette market?

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Kiwi archaeologists cook up a record of Earth’s magnetism

Mike Richards

Re: Rift zones, anyone?

'Isn't there a 180 million year[1] continuous record of the Earth's magnetic field in the North Atlantic? And a similar record in NZ's volcanic record? What's the point of this research? I smell graft ...'

The recent magnetic history of the Northern Hemisphere is well measured because there are huge numbers of industrial sites and pottery kilns going back thousands of years. The Southern Hemisphere is much less well understood because those technologies didn't develop nearly so much.

As for magnetic records, the North Atlantic is only about 50My, the oldest ocean floor is located in the Western Pacific off of Japan and the Philippines and is as you say about 180My.

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Mike Richards

Re: Ground Movement

You're bang on the mark. Any movement of the rocks could throw up errors in magnetic inclination and declination. Any signs of seismic disturbance of the site and you'd have to exclude it from your sample, so you have to be absolutely sure the rocks are in situ and haven't moved since the last moa was thrown on the barbie.

Where they could be really useful is plotting movements of different slices of New Zealand across fault zones. As the faults move the alignment of contemporary barbecues would differ allowing you to trace the movements of the fault through time.

And if you thought this was odd, I once met a biologist who was tracking the movement of the San Andreas fault through time by measuring differences in the genomes of weevil colonies.

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Apple: 27-inch iMac won't ship until next year

Mike Richards

Re: crap glossy screens

I agree, I'd love to have a matt screen on this iMac. When its not reflecting light it's magically attracting fingerprints.

According to Ars, the new iMacs have dramatically better glare reduction, but they're still not matt.

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/12/review-21-5-inch-2012-imac-takes-two-steps-forward-one-step-back/

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Behold ATLAS, the fastest computer of 50 years ago

Mike Richards

Soot?

I wonder which management genius thought it would be a good idea to build a precision machine in a locomotive factory?

Hard to remember how good Britain used to be at this sort of thing. Not just Atlas but the monster transistor computers built by the University of Manchester.

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The best e-readers for Christmas

Mike Richards

Re: any recommendations for a 70 year old with parkinsons?

They're not tablets, but the Sony Reader line has audio out and supports MP3 playback. If you dad likes reading it might make a good buy.

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Fred Flintstone may not have been real but his pet Dino WAS - boffins

Mike Richards

Re: Non-dinosaurs in the background

'I think those are suppose to be therapsids,'

I think they're actually rhynchosaurs which are more closely related to crocodiles, snakes and turtles than to dinosaurs.

One of the way of retaining a tiny amount of respect with the kids at the museum is being able to distinguish dinosaurs from all the other reptiles and mammal-like reptiles of the Triassic. Dinosaur legs were tucked under the body rather than being splayed out to the side.

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Home Sec: Let us have Snoop Charter or PEOPLE WILL DIE

Mike Richards

'I don't think it is the Home Secretary that is ever in charge, that is the problem.

'Civil servants come to whoever is the current incumbent with all sort of scary stuff which frightens them into making these decisions.'

My theory is there's something in the water supply at the Home Office which turns anyone into raving right-wing control freaks within six months of their appointment.

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Mike Richards

Does anyone know Labour's opinion on this

Part of me says they must be gagging for the opportunity to vote for greater state surveillance. But another part says they'll oppose it on the principled grounds of binning their actual policy for the sugar rush of trying to defeat the government (see recent EU vote).

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Ready for ANOTHER patent war? Apple 'invents' wireless charging

Mike Richards

Re: Prior art?

'But did he "applying power at a distance wirelessly - on a mobile device"?'

There are photos of Tesla holding lightbulbs that are lit without having wires attached so it depends on your definition of a mobile device.

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NASA: THE TRUTH about the END OF THE WORLD on 21 Dec

Mike Richards

Re: not the end

'Frankly if people want to find a reason to worry themselves to death, suicide or otherwise, then they should be left too it and not have NASA waste their time wet-nursing them. Good riddance to their stupidity!'

What if they're kids?

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Mike Richards

Re: @NomNomNom

'fair point - but then, being magical, it's probably invisible. stealthy like a ninja. so could be coming from any direction'

What if the planet's hiding in an invisible shed? We'd never see it - unless someone opened the shed door to pop out to the bathroom.

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Groupon chief Mason keeps his job - despite rubbish share price

Mike Richards

I'm waiting for Groupon and Zynga to form a gruesome murder/suicide pact, then I can buy popcorn and watch the two spiral down the drain together.

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Microsoft braces for Surface RT feedback storm

Mike Richards

Re: Not have had any hands on with the Surface RT I have no personal experience.......

Our office put in an order for an RT to evaluate its usefulness. It should have been shipped for release day. So far no Surface and Microsoft can't tell us where the order is - only that they took the money. And yes, dealing with the Microsoft Store is just as bad as you describe.

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Ten badass brainy computers from science fiction

Mike Richards

Wait a moment

They want to remake The Forbin Project with Will Smith (and doubtless one or all of his endlessly annoying children)?

Doesn't this constitute a crime against art and humanity?

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RETURN of the PLAYMONAUT: El Reg's space hero suits up again

Mike Richards

Re: says:

Now you've got me thinking (tragic - but it had to happen).

Aircraft pressurisation is lower than sea level which means the boiling point of water is lower than 100C - resulting in the tragic situation it is impossible to make a good cup of tea in a plane.

Unless we can invent a pressurised cockpit kettle/teapot.

Bugger the space race this is important!

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America planned to NUKE THE MOON

Mike Richards

Re: Note on Sagan

Speaking of Carl Sagan...

he was one of the investigators on Project A119.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_A119

Not sure why this is news, it was declassified more than 10 years ago.

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Amazon makes BEELLIONS from British customers, pays pennies in tax

Mike Richards

Re: Title here

Anyone know if Amazon warehouse workers are paid more than the upper limit for working tax credits from the government?

If Amazon workers are getting top-ups from the government then the taxpayer is helping subsidise the company's profits.

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New science upsets calculations on sea level rise, climate change

Mike Richards

Re: If this is true...

If anyone wants it, the draft paper is here:

http://www.princeton.edu/geosciences/people/simons/pdf/PNAS-2012.pdf

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Boffin claims Bigfoot DNA reveals BESTIAL BONKING

Mike Richards

Constitution

"Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a 'license' to hunt, trap, or kill them,"

I assume Sasquatch will also have the constitutional right to bear arms - which would make the hunting season interesting.

Let's not overlook the fact that once recognised as human the Big Foot community would be the sort of back-to-basics, small-government, proud American voters that the Republicans need. And don't you think a sasquatch running mate would add gravitas to any Gingrich campaign in 2016?

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Girlfriend 'tried to MURDER ME with her AMPLE BREASTS'

Mike Richards

One for our German speakers

"Treasure - I wanted your death to be as pleasurable as possible."

How romantic is that in the original German?

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Hefty beauty GAGA gets voluptuous new undercarriage

Mike Richards

And when will you be slinging this under a balloon?

Go on it has to be done - air-dropped autonomous lawnmowers.

It's an untapped market.

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Sandy Island does exist - on a 1908 chart

Mike Richards

Re: Tectonic activity?

'could the appearance and subsequent non-showing of this 'island' be somehow related to the local tectonics? The surrounding area is part of the 'ring of fire' for a reason so maybe the whole thing was formed, and destroyed by natural processes causing sand to rise and subsequently subside?'

Although the Coral Sea is adjacent to the Pacific 'Ring of Fire' it is a distinct geological body.

The sea appears to have been formed by crustal extension and subsidence of Eastern Australia during the fragmentation of an earlier continent (Zealandia). New Caledonia, (which is in the general region of where Sandy Island isn't) is another part of Zealandia and is depressingly geologically inert. Its north and eastern fringes are marked by the San Cristobal and Vanuatu trenches so volcanic and earthquake activity is concentrated in a sharp band along the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

There is a spreading centre in the middle of the sea but it is now extinct and my bumper map of all the world's geological wobblings shows no atolls or hot spots in that part of the ocean.

So IMHO, tectonism is out.

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Acid oceans DISSOLVING sea life

Mike Richards

Re: They'll evolve

'CO2 levels were quite a bit higher (4-8x or more) during the Cretaceous so presumably the oceans were acidic and yet large amounts of chalk and limestone were deposited. '

By plants and animals that had evolved to cope with gradually increasing concentrations of dissolved CO2, not the sudden increase we're seeing now. There's also plenty of geochemical evidence that calcium ion concentrations in ocean water in the Mesozoic were at least twice those of today, so in some respects, carbonate formation was easier.

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Dogs would say: SIZE is IMPORTANT, shape - not so much

Mike Richards

Re: I always wondered...

'Police dogs have been trained to do this since before anyone ran except criminals and people who were late for a bus. Seriously question. There are a lot more running people these days, often sweaty and smelling of nasty lycra. Doesn't that mess with the dogs?'

That sounds like an EPSRC grant application well worth pursuing. Your deliverables should be a paper, conference presentation, a lawsuit and YourTube video with laugh track.

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Just bought an Apple product? Need support NOW? Drop an F-BOMB

Mike Richards

Call me back

Apple UK now have a 'call me back' system (like Amazon) which gets you a human being within seconds.

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Pakistan bans 'immoral' late night mobe deals

Mike Richards

Re: Very sad

Sadly true.

Every sign of a failing state that is actively throwing itself into the abyss - with nuclear weapons.

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Why did Comet fail? Hint: It wasn't just the credit insurers

Mike Richards

Re: OpCapita didn't fail

'Who said Gordon Gecko was dead ?'

Didn't he just stand for the Republicans?

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Mike Richards

Re: "consumers stay away .. avoid dogged selling of extended and expensive warranties"

It's not just the extended warranties - it's the hard selling of peripherals, such as Monster cables that puts people off. My parents were conned into spending £80 on Monster HDMI cables by Comet staff. When they asked if cheaper cables were available they were told that cheaper cables would ruin the quality of the image on their new HDTV. Sadly, they didn't tell Comet where to stick their cables and walk out of the store. Instead they paid up.

When I found out I hit the roof and got on to Comet HQ - eventually getting to the then CEO. It was only his personal intervention that got a refund for the unwanted cable and an apology. Yet Comet continued to aggressively promote Monster over no-brand cables that were just as good.

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BRITISH BIGFOOT ON LOOSE in Tunbridge Wells

Mike Richards

Re: Hmmmm......

He's been getting noticeably less hirsute over the last few years.

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AARGH! We're ALL DOOMED, bellows UN - right on schedule

Mike Richards

'The issue here is resources - especially fossil fuels'

I suspect lack of phosphates and declining access to fresh water will do for us first.

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Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

Mike Richards

Sony Bravia

I've got a 2.5 year old Sony Bravia whose remote control also controls a Sony amplifier.

It's not meant to. It just happens to.

Changing to the Blu-Ray input shouldn't mute the sound, switching to teletext shouldn't start the test tones - but it does.

Sony's response - oh that problem was addressed in the updated firmware for your tv (which has never been pumped out to existing sets). But you really should know that amplifier is discontinued, you should get a new one. Have you thought about the Sony....[click]?

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Kobo Glo illuminated e-reader review

Mike Richards

Re: The review lost all credibility on line one

'From the photo it appears that the light on the Kobo Glo is less evenly distributed than on a PaperWhite, for example. Is that an artefact of the photography, or a genuine advantage of the Kindle technology ?'

I've got the Glo, a colleague has the Paperwhite, we put them side by side and displaywise they are very similar. Both have a slightly darker band running along the bottom of the screen and in the ones we examined the Kindle seemed to be slightly more even horizontally than the Glo - but it was marginal. The Glo was much brighter on maximum illumination than the Paperwhite, but the contrast suffered.

I've been very happy with my Glo and I can't fault either the construction or comfort in use. For £99 it's a bargain.

Oh and another thing in their favour, the Kobo developers are active participants on the various eBook forums.

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HP: AUTONOMY 'misrepresented' its value by $5 BILLION, calls in SEC

Mike Richards

Holy crap!

That's a shocker of a story. It's hard to believe companies like that still exist.

Tell me things have got better since.

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