* Posts by Mike Richards

4154 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

It could be you: National Lottery hands £16m to England's Jodrell Bank

Mike Richards
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Not wanting to be picky

But is that telescope in the photo actually at Jodrell Bank?

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Brit water firms, power plants with crap cyber security will pay up to £17m, peers told

Mike Richards
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There's a story today that security software is one of North Korea's successful exports. The country has been selling a range of security products under bland names and fake front companies to countries all around the world, including the US and Europe:

https://www.nonproliferation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/op36-the-shadow-sector.pdf

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Greenwich uni fined £120k: Hole in computing school site leaked 20k people's data

Mike Richards
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Re: Wow.

Though the ICO could only have ever fined TalkTalk £500k.

TalkTalk got a reduced fine because the regulator found them cooperative with the investigation and because they were themselves the victims of a crime.

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RAF Air Command to take on UK military space ops

Mike Richards
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Re: Why would airstrip one need a different GPS

Not just gas - look at America's new sanctions on Iran imposed because Tehran was sticking to an international treaty. They have the power to cripple European countries who continue to trade with Iran even though their governments have no problems with the nuclear treaty.

Actions like that strengthen the voices of those who would seek to weak ties with America, make new alliances with other, less democratic, countries, and who want their own shiny satellite programmes.

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Mike Richards
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'bears a distinct similarity to a number of UK politicians as well as being the architect of innumerable grandiose schemes (all of which failed).'

innumerable grandiose schemes - the similarity with UK politicians just gets stronger.

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Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

Mike Richards
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Re: Perfect for the job?

On a kind of related note about cutting corners affecting availability. Earlier this month, the Luftwaffe admitted of the 128 Eurofighters in service, the total number that were combat-ready was - 4; it is meant to be more than 80.

http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/192965/only-4-of-128-german-eurofighters-are-combat_ready-–-spiegel.html

The German navy's latest surface ships have been returned to the builder as they are currently not fit for service and Germany currently has no working submarines - it looks like the MoD has found a worthy rival.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/17185/the-german-navy-has-decided-to-return-their-new-frigate-to-the-ship-store-this-christmas

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America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Mike Richards
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Re: the whole setup was pretty crude

The Mercury astronauts repeatedly watched failures of the Atlas rockets that were going to carry them to orbit. Gus Grissom is on record as saying: "Are we really going to get on top of one of *THOSE* things?

And then they climbed on top of a tin balloon filled with explosives. There's not enough beer in the universe for people like that.

Footage of some early (unmanned) Atlas flights here:

https://youtu.be/_WP0wbeSce8

And maximum Michael Bayness of a Atlas Centaur not quite getting off the pad here:

https://youtu.be/HAPHhK654Ow

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You've been Zucked: Facebook boss refuses to face-off with Brit MPs

Mike Richards
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Re: So when are the politicians actually going to act?

Perhaps the committee can have a loud, public conversation with the people who oversee taxes and just happen to ask whether anyone in government is investigating Facebook's tax status?

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Govts should police... Google's algorithms, says News Corp chief

Mike Richards
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But...

News Corps logic dictates that governments must not legislate press freedom.

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Hacking train Wi-Fi may expose passenger data and control systems

Mike Richards
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Joke

Bloody northerners taking the credit for a Cornish invention.

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

Mike Richards
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Re: Solution: Morse code

Apple will fix this by the high-profile release of another set of Emoji which can only be accessed through the touchbar.

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You've got pr0n: Yes, smut by email is latest workaround for UK's looming cock block

Mike Richards
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Back to the futures

Type in listings and Uudecode.

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Oz Budget 2018: Cash for 3cm GPS resolution, federated IDs, payments reform and blockchain

Mike Richards
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3cm resolution

Should allow for accurate drone strikes on funnel web spiders.

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Commodore 64 owners rejoice: The 1541 is BACK

Mike Richards
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Floppy disks were for rich guys

How about an emulation of the Commodore Datasette cassette drive?

The feckless youth of today need to spend endless character-forming hours readjusting the device's wonky heads in order to realise the full potential of its geological read rate.

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UK Home Office tiptoes back from slurping immigrants' NHS files

Mike Richards
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Re: Do you have to be evil and incompetent?

No need for training, I believe there's something in the water supply at the Home Office.

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Exclusive to all press: Atari launches world's best ever games console

Mike Richards
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Re: I'll keep my upright arcade version of Space Invaders.

Pong Tank - OMG! I had forgotten about that little gem. Thanks for the flashback.

Though I'd say multiplayer Chu Chu Rocket on the Dreamcast comes close for drunken multiplayer brilliance.

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Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata

Mike Richards
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Re: Here comes the new boss.

That would be Blackwater/Xe/Academi run by Erik Prince who is also linked to Emerdata?

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RIP: Sinclair ZX Spectrum designer Rick Dickinson reaches STOP

Mike Richards
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Re: Raise a glass!

Thanks for the links - he designed the enclosure for the Z88? My first portable computer and a delight to use.

And looking back at the design language for the Spectrum - it really hasn't dated as badly as much of the stuff from the 1980s. The introductory manual with its clear graphics is a masterclass in how to do it properly.

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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Mike Richards
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Re: Not just for the rich and famous..

Snowmobile - for when you have to move a few exabytes to a new home:

https://aws.amazon.com/snowmobile/

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Mike Richards
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Re: Watch the Channel 5 documentary

The stroke of genius was to contact the executives directly, rather than their PAs who did the actual bookings (and therefore knew the price of a plane ticket). £5000 IIRC.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Supersonic flight

In West Cornwall, we'd get the boom from the Air France Concorde out of JFK around 9pm every night. Th-THUMP! and the windows would rattle.

Sound of childhood, gone forever.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Pressure?

The stretching also had to be factored into all the wiring and plumbing in the plane.

It's extraordinary that it was possible to design, build and fly this unearthly aircraft fly in the 1960s.

America, you went to the Moon, but we got Concorde.

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Apple grounds AirPort once and for all. It has departed. Not gonna fly any more. The baggage is dropped off...

Mike Richards
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Re: I miss the old Apple.

Time Machine is a great idea, but when it goes wrong - as it does from time to time - it is nigh on impossible to find out what has failed. The lack of feedback and error messages in what is a critical application is ridiculous; if a backup fails, you are told nothing about what happened and how to fix it.

I understand that Apple likes minimalism and doesn't want to bombard users with unnecessary information, but we're not psychic.

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Who will fix our Internal Banking Mess? TSB hires IBM amid online banking woes

Mike Richards
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Re: Want to be the new TSB Head of Infrastructure?

Well spotted - I love this bit from the ad:

'Hello, we're TSB, and we're different from other banks.’

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Mike Richards
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Re: Dread

Them and the front-line staff in branches and call centres.

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Mike Richards
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Second quarter financial results

Will be called: "We're putting things right (again)"

I'm uncertain if there will be a bank left by the time the third quarter ends.

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Windrush immigration papers scandal is a big fat GDPR fail for UK.gov

Mike Richards
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Channel 4 News did a panel session about Windrush earlier this week. One of the experts (sorry didn't get his name) said that this sort of thing could all be fixed if the government introduced ID cards. So don't be surprised if the Home Office attempts to recover from this fuck-up by reanimating the corpse of Blunkettcards and saying ID cards are needed to prevent further scandals - setting in motion a process that will create further fuck-ups.

What made the panel so odd, was that I found myself agreeing with Jacob Rees Mogg on the unBritishness of ID cards. At that point I thought it was time for the first gin of the evening.

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TSB outage, day 5: What do you mean you can't log in? Our systems are up and running. Up and running, we say!

Mike Richards
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Re: It's getting to the point where I hope this kills the company

It’d be a delight if Accenture (and their shitty little accent that fucks up linespacing) went with it, but I suspect it’s unkillable.

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Mike Richards
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Re: All code is written by offshore idiots to the lowest price

It’s quite extraordinary that neither Capita or Lockheed got their blundering tentacles into a fuck up of this magnitude.

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Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever

Mike Richards
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Re: EU friends apparantly

SpaceX only launches satellites with the permission of the US government. The US government already fucked Britain over once over access to space and we shouldn’t trust them again. When we still had a viable launcher, the US promised the U.K. free access to American rockets. The offer was withdrawn almost immediately once Black Arrow was scrapped.

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Mike Richards
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The new system

Will involve phoning a premium rate number, detailing your trip at least 14 days in advance of your planned date of travel, paying a booking fee by cheque or postal order and then receiving a printed sheet by second class post. Trips across international borders will be liable to additional charges.

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Russians poised to fire intercontinental ballistic missile... into space with Sentinel-3 sat on board

Mike Richards
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Re: Launch partner?

You can get it from Amazon in the UK - Kindle, paperback and an - ouch - hardback:

http://amzn.eu/7dqFFVd

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Mike Richards
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Re: Launch partner?

The QI 'fact' sounds a bit suspicious - like quite a lot of their 'facts'.

Early Soviet missiles, like the R1 and R2, used alcohol as fuel with liquid oxygen as the oxidiser. From the R7 onwards they briefly switched to kerosene and liquid oxygen. However, these rockets didn't fly from silos because the cryogenic oxidiser couldn't be stored in the rocket for extended periods.

The Soviets event settled on storable liquid rockets running on unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine fuel (which smells like rotten fish and is incredibly poisonous), and any of dinitrogen tetroxide (incredibly irritating to the lungs and throat), red fuming nitric acid (like nitric acid, but worse) or liquid oxygen (hard to keep in a glass). These rockets could be put in a silo, but have a nasty habit of poisoning their operators or spontaneously blowing up because someone coughed too hard.

Though I can think of one case where a rocket was filled with vodka. The massive Proton rocket was identified as the rocket that could carry cosmonauts around the Moon before Apollo could land on the Moon. The first mock-up was sent to Baikanor for testing during the middle of winter. Normally, this would have involved filling the rocket with water, but the temperatures were so low, that the Soviets used 40% ethanol - 15 rail tanker cars of the stuff. What happened to the alcohol afterwards is not recorded. As it happens, the Proton was delayed and there were problems with the planned Soyuz variant capsule, so the manned Moon missions never happened. A series of unmanned probes - Zonds 4 to 8 *were* flown between 1968 and 1970s with varying levels of success.

There were plenty of stories during the Cold War of Soviet troops drinking antifreeze which can contain alcohol.

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The tech you're reading these words on – you have two Dundee uni boffins to thank for that

Mike Richards
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Re: Another British invention making money for elsewhere

Public key encryption.

Another British invention (right down to discovering the algorithm that was later rediscovered as RSA). It is only officially commemorated by an IEEE plaque at GCHQ to James Ellis, Clifford Cocks and Malcolm Williamson. Ellis died before the plaque was unveiled, and indeed before the government agreed their contribution could be made public.

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Scratch Earth-killer asteroid off your list of existential threats

Mike Richards
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Objects in the Oort cloud aren't very close to one another - they're tens or even hundreds of millions of kilometres apart, so collisions aren't very likely. The biggest perturbations come from the approach and retreat of neighbouring stars as the Sun bobs its way around the galactic core.

The other good news is that the Oort cloud is a long way away - its inner edge is somewhere north of 2000 astronomical units from the Sun, which means objects out there move very slowly and take tens of thousands of years to travel into the Inner Solar system.

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UK consumer help bloke Martin Lewis is suing Facebook over fake ads

Mike Richards
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If it helps Martin Lewis

"I started Facebook. I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Mark Zuckerberg, testifying to Congress, April 2018.

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Brexit has shafted the UK's space sector, lord warns science minister

Mike Richards
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'Gyimah – who is Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation'

Studied PPE at Oxford.

So I'm looking forward to his insights into science, research and innovation.

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If you guessed China’s heavy lifter failed due to a liquid hydrogen turbo engine fault, well done!

Mike Richards
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Re: Translation...

Thanks for that information.

Having said that, both ESA with the Vulcain, and Energia with the RD-0120, cracked large LH2 motors for their first stages.

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UK spy agency warns Brit telcos to flee from ZTE gear

Mike Richards
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Either that or the Chinese spyware is better and cheaper than the Lockheed McDonnell BAE Northrop equivalent.

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2018's Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop is a lovely lappie

Mike Richards
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Re: Pictures please

This needed a picture of the offending adaptor - with a giant KitKat alongside it for comparison.

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Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

Mike Richards
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Re: Perhaps?

Air launched second stages aren't new though - the Pegasus launcher has been doing it since 1990 from an old Tristar, and Paul Allen's Stratolaunch monster is rumbling around Mojave.

Now if Branson was offering to fire sublebrities into orbit - that's a project we could all get behind.

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My PC makes ‘negative energy waves’, said user, then demanded fix

Mike Richards
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Re: A solution

The same effect can be achieved by placing a small amethyst crystal that has been energised by the light of the waning moon one cubit above the computer.

*ADVERT*

Dedicated computer woo agents are in your area now! Because you are a very special person, we are offering this service which is normally only available to Hollywood celebrities for just £39.99 (monthly crystal recharging fee applies). Call now and you will receive this free - yes free - bottle of Atlantean Spiritual Dimension Alignment sparkling water that not only polishes your chakra but can be useful in combating the symptoms of dehydration.

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2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Mike Richards
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Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

https://typesetinthefuture.com/2014/12/01/alien/

And now I'm helplessly engrossed with that site - thank-you sir!

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Mike Richards
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The models

All smashed after production - including a 50 foot long model of Discovery 1.

IIRC the space station survived a bit longer and ended up being dumped in Stevenage.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Kubrick was first and formost a photographer

It's worth finding a copy of 'Barry Lyndon' if you haven't seen it. Some interior scenes were only lit by natural supplemented by candlelight so Kubrick had to get three f/0.7 lenses originally designed for the Moon missions.

The effect is extraordinary.

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2001: A Space Odyssey has haunted pop culture with anxiety about rogue AIs for half a century

Mike Richards
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Re: For more details....

The computer science people amongst the crowd might also want to pick up 'HAL's Legacy' by MIT Press which discusses some of the AI and computing issues raised in the movie. It's a bit old now, but the articles are good.

Also worth a read '2001: Filming the Future' by Piers Bizony which has lots of photos of the props that were all destroyed at the end of shooting, including the colossal model of the Discovery which is less of a model than a piece of architecture.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Ah well, back to my PowerPoint slides

Anyone know if a cinema re-release is planned for the anniversary?

I'd love to see it in the cinema, although I'm probably too old for hallucinogens.

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Mike Richards
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Re: > This groundbreaking film went into pre-production over half a century ago

They even had iPads in the movie - well IBM tablets. Arthur C Clarke predicted tablet computers in the novel round about the time Alan Kay was beginning to design his Dynabook computer.

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What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA

Mike Richards
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The boom caused by the Air France flight from JFK used to rattle the window frames about 9pm each night when I was growing up in Cornwall. It was one of those comforting noises that said everything was okay and the future would be faster and Gerry Andersonesque.

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Mike Richards
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Re: SIG!

'What really killed Concorde was its lack of range. Being able to reach london/Paris to Seattle/SFO/LAX or go transpacific in one hop LAX to Tokyo would have resulted in more sales.'

Surely it was the 1973-74 recession and the spike in oil prices that killed Concorde's sales? The plane was launched with a long line of customers signing on the dotted line between 1963 and 1967 including Pan Am, Continental, United, TWA, Qantas, Air India, JAL, Air Canada and Lufthansa. There were more than 100 orders for the plane, all cancelled within months of one another during 1973.

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