* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Oh, Sony, you big tease: Mystery PlayStation reveal date set

Mike Richards

Biggest question

Has to be 'what will Sony do to shoot itself in its foot this time round?'

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Space Shuttle Columbia disaster remembered 10 years on

Mike Richards

Re: Killed by numeric overflow?

CRATER was the wrong tool. It was designed to predict ice damage during the time between the main engines fired and take-off and for analysing post-flight damage. It was never intended to provide information about impacts in-flight. Unfortunately, NASA didn't have an in-flight tool to help them come to a decision, so CRATER was the best they had and it predicted serious damage to the wing.

However, CRATER's authors at Boeing recommended ignoring the program's results. The designers knew that CRATER predicted more damage from small ice impacts (which it was designed to calculate) than were found after the Shuttle returned to Earth. They extrapolated this to mean that the software would make even grievous errors when it was asked to predict the impact of an object six-hundred times larger and of a lower density.

Independently the designers of the tiles were confident the more dense inner surface of the tiles would be safe against the impact of a low-density piece of foam.

When these two opinions were combined it sounded almost rational that there wasn't a problem that couldn't be fixed between flights.

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Mike Richards

Re: Killed by numeric overflow?

Atlantis was almost destroyed in a similar foam-shedding incident on STS-27. In that case they got the Shuttle home, but they were very lucky that the damage hadn't hit the leading edge of the wing. But in places the tiles had been destroyed and it was bare metal.

It was kept very quiet for a long time because the mission was a DoD flight, but Astronaut Mike Mullane gives a huge amount of detail in the utterly brilliant "Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut".

More info and super scary photos of the damage here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-27

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LOHAN teases with quick flash of spaceplane

Mike Richards

Re: says

'Looks like someone has been channelling Chesley Bonestell.'

Or Wile E Coyote.

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The Oric-1 is 30

Mike Richards

Is it really 30 years ago

That I was being told to go outside and play in the sun when I'd rather be playing Level 9 adventures on an Oric 1?

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Climate shocker: Carry on as we are until 2050, planet will be FINE

Mike Richards

It'll be interesting to see the detailed reviews of this research, especially the validity of the modelling which the researchers admit is relatively simple. Any review might take some time as they have used a heavily statistical approach using Bayesian probabilities, the values of which are always open to argument - but hey this is computer modelling - what's new?

I think this is their key paper:

http://folk.uio.no/gunnarmy/paper/aldrin_env_2012.pdf

Maths fans will love it.

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Hackers on anti-Egypt spree bury Egyptology journal in the sand

Mike Richards

Re: Huh?

Generally Egyptians are incredibly proud of their heritage, but some Muslims have problems with it being an amazingly successful polytheistic civilisation that celebrated the human body. Sadly some of these people are senior politicians in the Salafist parties. So far none of them have called for the destruction of archaeological remains, but there have been calls for statues and inscriptions to be covered in wax. This is part of a general attack on Egyptian culture where writers and journalists are coming under increasing attack.

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Mobes, web filth 'PORNIFYING' our kids, warns top Labour MP

Mike Richards

Re: Open challenge to Diane Abbott

Abbott's speech might have ben prompted by a Channel 4 News investigation late last year which showed that one of the biggest problems is children using SMS and MMS to send inappropriate content or to bully one another. Some of the interviewees had pretty disturbing stories of being bombarded by unpleasant messages or photos of other kids genitals but were too scared or embarrassed to take the matter up with their phone company, parents or teachers.

The other point in the article about sexualised clothing is nothing to do with blaming women for dressing inappropriately when they're attacked; its to do with selling one body image and one way of behaving - one that is nothing to do with childhood. You have to wonder what goes through the minds of clothing designers and retailers who produce lines that might as well be called Little Miss Streetwalker. I'm pretty sure I'd want them nowhere near my children.

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Review: Infiniti M35h hybrid sports saloon

Mike Richards

Re: A pretty car...

It's not pretty - but it's a lot better looking than Nissan's other cars which all seem to have more than a bit of amphibian in their genome. The Juke in particular could be used to scare children.

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Greedy Sky admits: We crippled broadband with TOO MANY users

Mike Richards

'One user of the ADSL service went public to report that his or her download speeds dropped to 2Mbps:'

2Mbps? Where do I sign up?

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Game over for Atari? One life left as biz files for bankruptcy protection

Mike Richards

'Was this Atari even remotely anything to do with the old Atari? or was it just a brand purchased and slapped on substandard junk to sell it just like Commodore.'

Sadly there's little if anything left of the original Atari.

The company has been sliced and diced repeatedly by asset-strippers.

Up until 1984 it was a real pioneer with a huge research division doing things like high-speed networking, computer music and interactive learning environments. When Warner Bros sold it, they split Atari down the middle into a games division (Atari Games) and one for hardware (Atari Computer).

The games people did pretty well for a while and eventually ended up being taken up by NAMCO. Atari Computer was always underfunded and its ST computers couldn't keep up with the developing PC, and the consoles couldn't match Sega or Nintendo, so Atari Computer was eventually sold for a pittance to a joystick manufacturer. They in turn sold the brand and IP on to Hasbro for something like $5 million. Hasbro then got taken over by Infogrames Entertainment SA.

Inforgrames renamed their existing GT Interactive division as Infogrames Inc and then as Atari SA which they've used to publish both new games and old titles under the Atari name.

It's just a name, but it's sad to see Atari in this situation once again. I suspect the name will go to yet another owner who cares little or nothing for its history of innovation.

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Inside the new climate row as Mystic Met Office goes cool on warming

Mike Richards

Re: The meme that there has been no warming in 16 years is false

I assume Andrew has also read this peer-reviewed paper (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0375960112010389) which demonstrates that over 90% of the Earth's heat imbalance is being stored in the oceans rather than going to warm the surface. Surface temperatures might be rising only very slightly, but the Earth as a whole is warming strongly.

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'Doomsday' asteroid Apophis more massive than first thought

Mike Richards

Re: Bye Bruce...

I'm a bit worried by this news. Bruce is going to be (say it quietly) really old by the time this monster comes to wreak Michael Bay style havoc on Hollywood.

So shouldn't we pop him in the freezer to keep him fresh for the inevitable (and entirely logical) drill-a-hole-an-bung-in-a-nuke shuttle mission that will save mankind to the sound of Aerosmith? A quick spell alongside the oven chips will also have the beneficial side effect of stopping him making movies.

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Toy train company bids for West Coast Mainline

Mike Richards

Re: Well done

But what's the betting some senior joyless moneygrabbing sociopathic lizard from the Taxpayers' Alliance is even now trying to work out how to discipline Mark Reach for wasting scarce resources?

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Mike Richards

Shamefaced

Who else read it as BigJugs and was slightly disappointed to find out what they actually sold?

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Bletchley Park boffins start trailblazer EDSAC computer rebuild

Mike Richards

Video games

EDSAC ran a version of noughts and crosses displayed on a cathode ray tube. It might well have been the world's first video game console.

More seriously, the subroutine was also invented on EDSAC.

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Ever had to register to buy online - and been PELTED with SPAM?

Mike Richards

Re: @Peter Hoare

Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

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Tibetan monks lose their TVs as China's censors raid monasteries

Mike Richards

Re: My karma just ran over my dogma

'While Mao Dze Tung, was quite capable in some ways, in others he was a complete dick head.

But I do agree with him, "Religion is poison."'

Apparently he had no problem with the state religion of Maoism.

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

Mike Richards

Re: Errm...

' Why would one want a wearable computer.'

Flexible electronics has applications for implanted sensors, brain implants, pacemakers and the like.

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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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