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* Posts by Alan Brown

3110 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Toyota to launch hydrogen (ie, NATURAL GAS) powered fuel cell hybrid

Alan Brown
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"Hydrogen is generally made from natural gas"

Which is why it would make far more sense to make a fuel cell which can handle that.

And such things already exist.

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Alan Brown
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"No one ever seems to point out that most electricity is made by burning coal?"

That depends where you are

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/ shows that 80-85% of french power is nuke-sourced.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Hydrogen advocates forget to mention the obvious

"The obvious problem of hydrogen that is always over looked, intentionally, is the fact that hydrogen extremely inefficient to produce with electricity"

Steam cracking is probably the way forward and powering it with a LFTR nuke plant would be the obvious cheap energy source.

Hydrogen from electrolysis is never going to be efficient, the only way to make hydrogen cracking cheap is to use waste heat from another process - like the "cold" side of a power station powered by the above-mentioned LFTR

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Alan Brown
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Re: Dreaming

Binding the hydrogen makes it a lot easier to store and transport - metal hydrides being one solution with an energy density much higher than that of liquid hydrogen.

Binding it with carbon is even easier because you don't have to "recharge" the metal. There's a lot more hydrogen in a litre of diesel than in a litre of liquid hydrogen.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Fission is renewable.

There's enough thorium in mining tailings to do it for the next 1000 years and it's not as if those piles are getting smaller, given they're leftovers from rare earth extraction.

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Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

Alan Brown
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Re: Simples...

"Unfortunately if it is two transactions under the law, the CCA doesn't apply."

There's no lower limit for card-not-present transactions, therefore If it was two separate transactions then it's covered and the offence ends up compounded because it wasn't separately authorised by the cardholder.

Retaining credit card details is an explicit breach of Visa/Mastercard merchant agreements without jumping through a lot of hoops and I seriously doubt a fleapit hotel in Blackpool with cheap'n'nasty rooms is going to have the readies to invest into a fully compliant structure to Visa's satisfaction.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Simples...

"It's in their terms and conditions, so they can tell the credit card company that it's not unauthorized. "

The contract term is illegal, therefore the charge is unauthorised and the Credit Card companies are jointly and severally liable for any legal penalties.

Understandably, they take a very dim view of merchants who try these sorts of games.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Legal?

It's illegal anyway - unfair clauses in consumer contracts, etc.

I see the local Trading Standards office has weighed in on it.

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation - and the one from Visa threatening to revoke their merchant account for making bogus charges (Visa and Mastercard both stomp bloody hard on merchants who try this sort of shit)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Boohoo

> Just state "what the hell do you expect for 35 quid a night? The fucking Ritz?"

The average Travelodge is about this price and they're generally (some exceptions) clean and quiet.

Rising Damp was supposed to be a situation comedy, not a documentary.

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NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators

Alan Brown
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Re: PUBERS

It wasn't so long ago that the Republicans were the progressive party in the USA and it was the Democrats who were the conservatives.

The amazing tribalism of political party supporters is demonstrative proof that civil war is never very far away.

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Alan Brown
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Re: voting reasons?

" In most elections, for most races, the choices I'm faced with are between "ugh" and "oh, hell no". A bunch of explanations for past votes is not likely to change that."

Then go in and spoil your ballot paper, or vote for the greens, or write "NO CONFIDENCE IN ANY" across it.

"Not voting" is not an option. It's tacit acceptance of the status-quo and anyon dressing it up as a "protest" is leading you up the garden path.

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Alan Brown
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Re: voting reasons?

"Even if written by a staffer, it's still attributed "

The average politician will deny he wrote it, then when confronted with the evidence, deny the denial, ad nauseum.

There's a reason George Boole developed his special form of algebra - it was to analyse what policitians say and do.

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Alan Brown
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"Since Justin Amash is also the only member of Congress to explain every vote he makes on his Facebook page, I'll let him explain:"

Short version: What goes into committee from the floor usually bears almost no resemblance to what comes out.

Longer version: If an act says what it's going to do in the first paragraph, by the time you get to page 2 it usually turns out to be doing the exact opposite.

Add to that the obscene practice of "riders" - tacking sections onto an act which have nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation at hand and usually seek to further someone's personal ends

One could spend several lifetimes just unpicking the tangled incoherent mess of USA legislation passed in the last 50 years, let alone the 100 before that.

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Alan Brown
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"While people are still relatively wealthy, I suspect there will be little impetus for them to tear themselves away from the goggle-box and organise enough to swing the voting system."

Global wealth is increasing. It's just increasing faster in "poor countries" than in "rich ones"

Not that it's any consolation for Billy-Bob McTwat from Bumfuck Nowheresville, who's been laid off, can't afford a dentist for his rotting teeth and is just bright enough to hate who the media tells him to.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

If the USA was an actual democracy, the "electoral college" wouldn't exist.

"The People" could vote Hairy-Ass McCracken in on a 90% landslide, but the Electoral College still wouldn't appoint him to office.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

" but all it's done is to reduce our safety and cause death and destruction elsewhere. "

Damned right sparky.

The absolute best recruiting tool for turning mild-mannered family guys into hate-spewing enemies of the state is letting him see his wife and children blown up by a bomb launched by an jittery ampthetamine-crazed US Navy pilot who'd have trouble identifying the right target, let alone putting anything near it. It doesn't matter that the pilots were ordered not to attack. The fact remains that they did.

Yes, that's right. They really do feed amphetamines to navy pilots and the resulting carnage is fairly predictable.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do I care enough to comment???

"whilst us Americans try to deal with the political upheaval and constitutional upsets here at home, why don't we just leave all that pesky Middle East / Ukraine / ISIS terrorist business to you Brits & Europeans to handle, "

If it wasn't for american interference in foreign affairs, most of these current issues wouldn't have occured in the first place.

Bashir: put in place by an CIA-organised coup

Iran: Resah Palavi (The Shah) put in place by an CIA-organised coup

Iraq: Hussein put in place by a CIA-organised coup

Bin Laden: Former CIA operative, trained and financed by the CIA.

Israel (one of the biggest destabilising influences in the Middle East) - a state FOUNDED on terrorist practices (Every single type of attack seen in the middle east today was pioneered by Jewish Extremists) and propped up unilaterally by the USA.

Saudi Arabia: A repressive state, which has funded much global terrorism - but that's OK because the King is personal friends of the Bush family.

Starting to see a pattern here? Every single USA action in the middle east in the last 60 years has made things WORSE.

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Anonymous ‪hacks the Ku Klux Klan after Ferguson‬ threats

Alan Brown
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Re: Do any of you realize...

"A PD was disbanded because of problems. "

And the officer in question was from that disbanded PD, plus has a string of complaints about his actions already.

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Alan Brown
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Kind of interesting

Several of those outed KKK members are cops and civic officials.

I wonder how long they'll hold their positions.

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Philae healthier... beams CHEESE: Proud ESA shows off FIRST COMET SURFACE PIC

Alan Brown
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Re: Difficult to tell

"Perhaps it bounced along until it hit a rock?"

Microgravity doesn't mean no inertia. hitting a rock whilst going sideways is a bad thing.

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VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that

Alan Brown
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Re: how to give your Vinyl a "deep clean" using wood glue

"Lighter fluid & a soft cloth seems to work better."

Keith Monks still makes the best record cleaning machines. The only way to properly clean the grooves is to vacuum the liquid out.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

"(No, I do not know why 44.1 rather than 44.8 or some other number)"

Simple: it's mathematically related to BOTH the PAL and NTSC linerates used by u-matic derived digital mastering recorders of the time. More detail than you ever wanted to know at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44,100_Hz

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings - Laser Turntable

ELP turntables are a nice idea with a lot lacking in the execution.

A stylus melts the vinyl under it as it passes (like an ice skate melts water), resulting in high frequency bits flattening out with each play and dust being pressed into the material - but they tend to ride the same point of the groove (which is where Stereohedrons used to claim an advantage by riding a wider spot).

An old trick for recovering decent sound off rare records was to use a different size stylus to ride a different level of the groove. The laser systems could theoretically read the entire groove and average out dust/gouges, but the ELPs don't and they don't sound particularly good.

FWIW the contact pressure with 1 gram tracking force is several tons per square inch - and one should never leave a stylus sitting in a stationary groove as it melts a little dimple into the groove which results in a "pop" being there forevermore (although most pops are stuff like fly shit sitting on the surface and banging off the sides of the stylus as it rides by)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

"I've often wondered just how much the "warmth" of vinyl would change if you used a laser "needle" to play? "

A lot of the "warmth of vinyl" is acoustic feedback coupled into the tonearm. If you play a record with the lid up and the volume set high enough it can act as a sounding board and start howl-around.

There are lasertracking turntables but the prices are extremely high and they're not particularly reliable. Some wags have scanned LPs at 1000dpi and claimed to be able to decode stereo audio from the resulting image.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Vinyl introduces a lot of failings

" the length was due to the VP of Sony arbritarily setting the length of a CD to 74 minutes because that was the length of a specific version of Beethoven's 9th Symphony - although Philips seem to imply that may be urban legend"

Well it was certainly true that Sony drove the length (CDs were to be originally 60 min) and the size "Must fit in a (Japanese) shirt pocket"

Given that the first big market for CDs was classical music there's a lot of milage in them deciding that the longest common piece should play in its entirety without changing discs.

The dataset could have been _much_ smaller if the samples were defined as deltas rather than absolutes but the processing technology of the time simply wasn't up to it (original preproduction demonstrations used several racks of equipment and had noticeable artifacts in the playback)

I can still remember playing my first CD purchase in 1984 (Dire Straits "Making Movies") and nearly blowing the cones off a pair of Kef C60s when the guitar solo kicked in at the start of "Tunnel of Love" I instantly fell in love, because despite what the naysayers were putting about, the sound was clean and clear and lacking all that dust crackle + tracking distortion (no tonearm _ever_ tracks a groove tangentially from leadin to leadout) everyoine was used to. It wasn't so much listening to a recording as sitting in the studio whilst they were making it. (Many other discs since were badly made and sounded awful).

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Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'

Alan Brown
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"The ESA has a significant but small budget compared to NASA."

And NASA's budget is smaller than the amount the US military spent on air conditioning in Iraq.

The amazing thing about space exploration is that so much gets achieved on so little budget.

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Alan Brown
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"the practical difficulties with coping with tiny amounts of gravity should certainly give any asteroid hunters food for thought"

There's already been one asteroid landing. Unfortunately it was too late to inform philae development and it didn't have legs or perform sampling, so stability wasn't a consideration (it was flown on using ion engines)

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Alan Brown
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"It will be a great shame if after 10 years and 6 billion kilometres it only gets to party on the comet for 64 hours."

Huygens (the Titan probe) got less than 64 minutes before it froze to death.

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Elon Musk and ex-Google man mull flinging 700 internet satellites into orbit

Alan Brown
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Re: isn't there enough shrapnel orbiting this ball?

It doesn't need to be a "chute". A simple ribbon would be enough and have a nice effect of exponentially slowing the things down.

Then again an ion drive would have much the same effect and is a lot more compact.

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Printing Bad: Meth found in laser printer cartridges

Alan Brown
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Re: This doesn't make sense..

"Every time the regulatory bodies declare the current variety a control substance, it gets modified - "

Only in jurisdictions which legislate specific chemical combinations and don't have a "XYZ family" definition too.

The only reason this stuff is happening at all is simple: Profit.

Production costs are very low and sale prices are very high so no amount of interdiction will stem the trade. Paradoxically, the more interdiction that occurs, the more profit can be made. At some point this results in people pushing crack to schoolkids because they can make a few bucks by doing so, regardless of the possible consequences. It's interesting to note that Cannabis use amongst teenagers in Colorado has substantially decreased with legalisation, because it's a now a lot harder for them to obtain and it looks like the same thing is occuring in other areas where it's been legalised.

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Eye laser surgery campaigner burned by Facebook takedown

Alan Brown
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"Since https://www.facebook.com/OpticalExpressRuinedMyLife is reachable right now"

It's not from my facebook login - and a search on the name says "no such page"

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Alan Brown
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Re: Surprised nobody's mentioned

> If I say to you "You are a murderer" you can't sue me.

If you say it loudly in a public space or in front of a number of witnesses, then you can be sued.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Depends on perspective

"if a grumpy moderator doesn't like you then tough."

Under US law in particular, once a moderator gets involved the company is liable for what it misses (Cubby vs Compuserve, Stratton Oakmont, Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co. ) - although there's a safe harbour provision written into the 1996 CDA

It's becoming _extremely_ common to have gripe pages taken down by making bogus "copyright infringement" claims. At some point there's going to be a reckoning - making a false DMCA complaint is a criminal offence but for some reason noone's ever been prosecuted for it.(*)

(*) DMCA complaints are the way these are usually taken down, even if all parties involved are outside the USA. There's a legislated dispute procedure but Facebook and Google don't bother with them.

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Virgin 'spaceship' pilot 'UNLOCKED tailbooms' going through SOUND BARRIER

Alan Brown
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Re: Why are these guys even in charge?

"The Comet, being a jet aircraft and sporting hydraulic controls, flew differently; perhaps the biggest problem a pilot faced was over-rotation on takeoff."

That, and the issues raised by hot-and-high airfields on low-chord wings wasn't fully appreciated by designers of the era. Reliable takeoff speed was around 20 knots higher at Karachi than at Heathrow as a f'instance, but the manuals didn't reflect that information until there was at least one runway overrun.

It's lessons specifically learned from those kinds of incidents which make aviation as safe as it is today and are the reason modern jetliners can extend such massive acreage of flaps/slots for extra lift at low speeds. (~30% extra wing area in the case of a 747)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Over-Speed lock

"The tail feathering is designed to operate at ludicrous speed,"

Mach 1 in thin air is going to have vastly higher aerodynamic pressures than mach 1.5 in "virtually no air at all" (At that altitude, the whole concept of "mach" is nebulous anyway. Sound doesn't travel because molecules aren't close enough to interact, so how does it have a speed?)

The question is why the feathering mechanism was unlocked _at all_ whilst thrust was still active. There's plenty of time to feather whilst the craft is travelling ballistically upwards after the rocket cuts out, so unlocking early makes no sense whatsoever as a procedural step.

I do have faith that the NTSB will get to the bottom of the problem and its root causes - as others have said the real issue isn't that "the tail feathered under thrust", it's how it happened and how designs allowed it to happen which are of more interest.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Governments won't get us into space to any degree that matters

"Hell, the US Govt. spent much more in IRAQ to run air conditioners than NASA operations. "

At the peak of NASA spending, the american public spent more on pizza deliveries than NASA got.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Right Direction?

"The real way to get mankind off the planet - "

Is to stop messing around with oversized firecrackers and concentrate on more practical systems.

Rockets are fine for what they do, but they have extremely limited payloads. You're firing something at the ground and riding the recoil to orbit. Better to fire bullets to orbit instead, or use a slingshot and launch the payload that way.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Right Direction?

"You do know the long term plan is to use the White Knight mothership to launch rockets that deploy satellites?"

The orbital payload for Pegasus rockets (air-launched from under a L-1011) is small and the payload for anything launched from White Knight would be similarly small.

The only advantage from air launching is ~20 seconds less in thicker air. The added speed is negligible compared with velocities necessary to attain/escape orbit.

The added complexity of air launching will make the whole exercise academic if/when SpaceX achieve routine first stage flyback/reuse (far larger payloads and lower per-kilo cost to orbit). SpaceX are reportedly aiming for second stage retrieval too and at that stage I'm fairly sure Pegasus and a bunch of other small launchers will be put out to pasture.

Aviation messed around with airlaunched systems in the 1930s heyday of flying boats but it proved much easier to make larger flying boats, for the same reasons. (The Short Mayo Composite)

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Why Comrade Cameron went all Russell Brand on the UK’s mobile networks

Alan Brown
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Meh

"No.10’s preferred solution isn’t better infrastructure, but giving consumers the ability to roam from network to network. "

Not going to help much if there's no signal to roam to. They do tend to co-site their antennas so coverage maps are very similar and that 20% of the landmass without coverage will still stay without coverage.

One of the more irritating things about the current setup is that you can't get a multinetwork femto/micro cell setup. To cover all the networks you have to get at least 3 sets. (EE/O2/Voda), which substantially increases setup costs.

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Dead pilot named in tragic Virgin Galactic spaceship crash

Alan Brown
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Re: Not Necessarily the Engine

" don't see evidence of an explosion (frequently cited), just escaping nitrous oxide. "

Ditto. Whilst the airframe was scattered widely there wasn't much evidence of anything catastrophic around the rocket part of the airframe.

The question becomes "why engage feather mode?".

Both pilots were highly experienced. There must have been a good reason.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Not untested

"this was apparently its first air test."

As such I'm surprised there weren't a bunch of telescopic lenses trained on it for analysis purposes.

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Japan tells operators: Put a SIM lock in a new mobe? You'd better UNLOCK it for FREE

Alan Brown
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Re: Yah!

If you're in a contract with a locked phone, unlocking doesn't remove the contract obligations.

What _really_ hoses me off is outfits charging £20 to unlock, or simply just taking forever to do it - to the point that they _never_ unlock.

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UK print peddler Annodata slips ring on Berkshire firm's finger

Alan Brown
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Not so much a fing on the finger

As a ring through the nose.

This little piggy went to market.....

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UN: Fossil fuels should be TERMINATED 86 years from now

Alan Brown
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Re: I hate to sound like a broken record...

"De-commission costs of Nuclear are astronomical and usually not included when costed against alternatives. "

Unlike USA plants, UK plants have to pay into a shutdown fund as they go.

The biggest problem isn't the end of life plant - it's the 98% wastage of fuel and incredibly energy-intensive enrichment of uranium to make it usable.

Uranium plants are effectively Newcomen Engines from a technology point of view.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I hate to sound like a broken record...

"There is no need to build any new nuclear power stations in Britain."

How do you propose to shove 35GW of demand down a 2GW interconnector?

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Alan Brown
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Re: I hate to sound like a broken record...

"It's also bloody expensive and dog slow if you go the PWR Areva route"

Any form of BWR/PWR reactor is inherently unsafe. High pressure hot water has a reputation as the universal solvent for damned good reasons and is therefore not the kind of thing you want circulating in a nuclear pile.

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Alan Brown
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Re: TL;DR

"Geesh, another few miles it would include downtown Manila..."

Don't give 'em ideas....

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Alan Brown
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Re: meaningless. how long?

"Petrol + diesel could be replaced by hydrogen"

No, they couldn't: Hydrogen is incredibly reactive and makes metals brittle. It's a bitch to handle too.

It may be an "ideal fuel" but only in the sense that the output is water.

On top of that there's at least double the number of hydrogen atoms in a litre of diesel than a litre of liquid hydrogen

Petrol + diesel could be replaced by petrol + diesel - once you're producing hydrogen from sustainable sources you may as well tack on some carbon (extracted from the atmosphere?) and make it shitloads easier to handle.

As for wind/solar/tidal/wave powers, they're mostly a boondoggle held up by subsidies.

They're great if you're off-grid, but they're never going to be economic unless we're relying on increasingly expensive oil for our power. That would need to be at least 10 times more expensive than it is now for them to _start_ start being commercially viable without subsidies and market distortions.

Given the backup power generation requirements, intermittent power sources would find that they'd get 1/4 to 1/10 the payouts they're currently receiving without govt diktats - and even with all the costs/risks/etc it's more than likely cheaper to build a huge fleet of PWR nuke plants than spend the same money on wind (Please don't build PWR/BWR plants, they're intrinsically unsafe).

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Oz gov lets slip: telco metadata might be available to civil courts

Alan Brown
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Re: So Sad

"In my lifetime Austrailia has gone from a country of opportunity and freedom to one of control and repression"

Non-WASP australians might point out that control and repression has been there all along. This just makes it more equal-opportunity.

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Pitchforks at dawn! UK gov's Verify ID service FAILS to verify ID

Alan Brown
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Experian are a clusterfuck, but callcredit will happily sell your details off to all and sundry - including your electoral roll data (they were involved up to their eyeballs in electors finding themselves punted from closed to open rolls at the start of the year)

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