* Posts by Mike Richards

3873 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Reg reader offered £999,998 train ticket from Cambridge to Horley

Mike Richards
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I'm convinced

This is just a ploy by rail companies to make their other fares look more reasonable.

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Give 'bots a chance: Driverless cars to be trialled between London and Oxford

Mike Richards
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Re: There's a great deal

'Some may also wonder why the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority are piffling around with self driving cars. Perhaps they'd be be better off doing some serious work to provide us with cheap and secure electrical power?'

With us falling out of Euratom as a side-effect of Brexit, we won't be partners in ITER and many of the jobs at Culham will go overseas - perhaps UKAEA is going to set up a minicab business?

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Mike Richards
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Hopefully they can use at least part of the M25

To practice their parking skills.

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As you stare at the dead British Airways website, remember the hundreds of tech staff it laid off

Mike Richards
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Re: I realise it's simplistic but....

I'm waiting for British Airways to officially become just BA so it can lose that tedious 'British' bit - the same way that British Petroleum became plain old BP and British Telecom metamorphosed into BT.

That way they can get rid of all their expensive British workforce, headquarter somewhere sunny that just happens to have low taxes and rake in even more money for selling a third-rate service as a premium product.

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BT's spam blocker IDs accident claims as top nuisance call

Mike Richards
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Their call-blocking DECT phones are pretty good. My parents were targeted after the TalkTalk hack, I got them a BT8600, cancelled TalkTalk and their lives are much quieter.

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Boeing 737 turns 50

Mike Richards
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Clever design

Joe Sutter (who went on to design the 747) talks a bit about the 737 in his book.

Boeing wanted to avoid the stability problems associated with rear engines and high tails on planes like the Caravelle and BAC 1-11. So Sutter put the engines right under the wings rather that at the back or on pylons - which lightened the fuselage allowing for six across seating (the DC-9 only had five across), meant less noise and vibration in flight, more rear cabin space, shorter landing gear and easier maintenance at ground level.

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Aviation regulator flies in face of UK.gov ban, says electronics should be stowed in cabin. Duh

Mike Richards
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Why do you want to know - citizen?

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Mike Richards
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Re: Cabin security isn't about safety

Don't knock the giant Toblerone.

Buying them is my preflight ritual - safe in the knowledge that I will be able to eat something on the plane; and in the event of the plane crashing, use it to beat one of my fellow passengers to death if there's a fight for the last gin bottle.

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The beast is back: Reborn ekranoplan heads for the Arctic

Mike Richards
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Going round corners

How do you steer one of these beasts? I assume banking is out because you'll put your wingtip into the ocean, so do you change the thrust on some of the engines?

And if we can have these back, why not spring for the Gyrodyne?

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'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

Mike Richards
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Re: For Queen, Country and St George!

You're not meant to be thinking about Brexit today. Theresa has decided that the national conversation will be about [spins wheels] - Easter eggs.

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WWW daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee stands up for end-to-end crypto

Mike Richards
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Sir Tim versus Amber Rudd

Either a high-minded debate on BBC1 or a cage fight.

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Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging

Mike Richards
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Boeing: SEND MORE MONEY NOW STOP

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D'oh! Amber Rudd meant 'understand hashing', not 'hashtags'

Mike Richards
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Re: Can't Stop the Encryption

See Amber Rudd's speech. I mean I understand every word, but I don't have a fucking clue what she was talking about.

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Mike Richards
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Do you have a stack on buzzword-emblazoned Powerpoint slides on how cloud-based machine-learning big-data heuristics can blah... blah... blah..? Are your salesmen equipped with suitably expensive Swiss watches and lavish entertainment accounts? Are you related to any members of the Cabinet? Have you donated lots of money through back channels to the Conservatives?

If you've answered 'no' to any of the questions above then sorry, you don't have a government-sanctioned 'interest' in this issue.

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Mike Richards
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It's almost making me nostalgic for the days when Jack Straw would pipe up about the wonders of key escrow and all those wonderfully interchangeable Home Office ministers like Andy Burnham and Meg Hillier were never off our televisions explaining how biometric ID cards were completely unbeatable and not at all a privacy issue.

It's good to see the Home Office still hasn't the faintest.

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Boeing and Airbus fly new planes for first time

Mike Richards
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Re: 787

It's something I found surprising, but after all these years in which all of our airliner production disappeared and our companies were merged out of existence, Britain is still the second largest producer of aviation technology in the world.

So yay us! And let's hope Airbus doesn't decide to relocate in two years time.

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Mike Richards
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Re: So a 5 meter increase in lengths delivers 38 more passenger slots?

Don't forget, the aircraft builders don't stipulate the interior layouts (they don't even make the seats), the crunching of passengers behind the wing is all down to airliners racing to the bottom.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Yes, they look beautiful

So far they have $33 million which is probably enough to test that the paint doesn't come off.

I'd like to see something delta-shaped blast through the sky, but anything with Branson attached is nine parts hype to one part reality.

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Mike Richards
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If you're ever in the Seattle area

Do take a trip to Everett to visit the Boeing assembly plant. It is utterly jaw-dropping to go into a building and see three brand-new 747s at various stages of completion (all three for South Korea was I was there last month), then go a bit further along and see a line of 777s rolling slowly towards completion, and next to them, a seemingly endless line of ANA 787s.

Well worth a morning of anyone's time - and there's even a little gift shop.

Oh and you aren't allowed to take cameras or mobile phones into the building, which is a shame, but understandable.

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Mike Richards
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'five metres longer than the 787-9 and can therefore pack in about 38 extra passengers in Boeing's recommended configurations.'

Or about 70 in British Airways new 'densified' (yep, an actual word used in cold blood by BA) configurations. Anyone who has previously 'enjoyed' BA's 3-3-3 cattle class will doubtless be thrilled that the company is now refitting long-haul aircraft - beginning with 777s - to 3-4-3 at the back of the plane.

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Head of US military kit-testing slams F-35, says it's scarcely fit to fly

Mike Richards
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Re: There have been planes like this before.

The F35 is the white elephant by which all future white elephants will be measured.

Concorde looks like an economic whim by comparison. Hell, the Space Shuttle looks like good value for money.

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Mike Richards
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Boeing

I do rather wonder if we'd be in the same mess if the DoD had gone with Boeing's design, or if it is all the additional requirements added since the fly-off that are to blame for this fiasco.

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Lochs, rifle stocks and two EPIC sea gates: Thomas Telford's Highland waterway

Mike Richards
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Why Telford never used the eminently more sensible brontosauri is a mystery lost to time.

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How hard will it be to measure Planet Nine?

Mike Richards
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Re: That planet in the "artist's impression" (or expression) shows thunderstorms...

If it is a large planet, then internal heat would drive atmospheric convection, so thunderstorms could be a possibility.

Despite its distance from the Sun and cloudtop bollock-chilling temperature of 52K, Neptune has the fastest winds in the Solar System at 2200kmh and incredibly active storm systems. The role of internal heat in powering Neptune's weather is shown by the fact its near twin, Uranus, despite being much closer to the Sun, has a much calmer atmosphere. Uranus has no apparent internal heat source, and no one knows why.

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SpaceX wows world with a ho-hum launch of a reused rocket, landing it on a tiny boring barge

Mike Richards
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Re: ULA

The US used to do it almost routinely for CORONA spy satellite film capsules. Although they weighed a tiny fraction of what Vulcan will be returning to Earth.

Arianespace and Roscosmos have both looked at fitting wings to spent stages and have them swoop down to a runway landing. But I'd imagine the weight of undercarriage, hydraulics and wings would eat into the payload, not to mention the strengthening that would be required to stop it bending like a piece of wet spaghetti on touchdown.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Amazing

Don't forget the other billionaire, Paul Allen, who is building a humungous aircraft to haul a rocket to altitude and then dropping it (hopefully after lighting the blue touch paper). More stuff about his monstrous machine here (don't forget to hum the 'Thunderbirds' tune):

http://aerospace.vulcan.com

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Mike Richards
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Re: Amazing

I have a horrible feeling that the government will either a) insist that BAE take a stake in Reaction Engines and the project will die a long, lingering death; or b) vanish stateside like so much of Britain's aerospace expertise in the 1950s and 60s.

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Wet, wild Mars stripped off by hot young star, left barren and red faced

Mike Richards
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Interestingly, the lop-sided hydrogen isotope abundances on Venus show that it lost its hydrogen to space. The tiny amounts of hydrogen in the Venusian atmosphere are highly enriched in the heavier deuterium than regular hydrogen because it is harder for the Sun to strip deuterium than the lighter isotope. Same approach as the new Mars study, different element.

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Mike Richards
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Two possibilities:

1: the inability of the Venusian core to lose heat through Mantle convection. Here on Earth, the Mantle loses heat by vigorous convection, driving a temperature gradient within the Core.

Venus doesn't have plate tectonics and its crust appears to be highly rigid which suggests the Mantle also may not be convecting. Instead heat accumulates in the lower Mantle, reducing the ability of the Core to convect, so no magnetic field.

The lack of plate tectonics is one of the big mysteries on Venus, but the loss of water to space is probably involved. Here on Earth, water greatly reduces the melting point in the Mantle, drives processes such as serpentinisation which reduce the rigidity of the Crust and it reduces the viscosity of ductile rocks.

An absence of convection might explain the apparent catastrophic resurfacing of Venus between 0.6-0.3Ga when it looks like much of the Crust was reworked. If heat accumulates in the lower Mantle it will eventually undergo a burst of rapid convection to lose that heat, there would be enormous amounts of melting and - well it'd be spectacular.

The second possibility is that the Venusian core is deficient in lighter elements such as sulfur, oxygen and silicon which help reduce the melting point of the iron-nickel alloy in the Earth's Core. If Venus does lack these elements, its Core might have a similar temperature to Earth's but simply be unable to convect.

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Mike Richards
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Re: iron-nickel core

Mars almost certainly has an iron-nickel core to account for the difference in its bulk density to those surface rocks we have analysed. The best bet is that Mars's core is something like 1800km in diameter.

What is likely to be different is that no part of Mars's core is convecting to drive a dynamo and hence no magnetic field. Mars would have cooled faster than Earth due to its smaller size, so the interior is going to be hot - just not hot enough. We don't know the Martian geotherm exactly, but it is entirely possible the whole planet is solid, although there are some tantalisingly fresh-looking lava flows that suggest limited volcanism has occurred within the last 2 million years.

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What a time to be alive: drone pooper-scoopers are a thing now

Mike Richards
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Re: Terse remarks?

Or just equip the flying drone with a Hellfire missile and take out the mutt and its owner.

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Miss Misery on hacking Mr Robot and the Missing Sense of Fun

Mike Richards
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The writing team is clearly up-to-date on events and techniques in cybersecurity. And for that they deserve praise, compared to other TV and cinema outings which claim to have called in expert advice (looking at you 'Blackhat' - a Michael Mann movie too!).

Season 2 is definitely flakier than the near perfect Season 1, and I have no idea what the two scantily-clad Scandis are up to apart from looking very pretty indeed.

But looking forward to Season 3.

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UK digital minister Matt Hancock praises 'crucial role' of encryption

Mike Richards
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Re: Marconi, victim of 'scientific hooliganism'

The story is also a good warning about the power of overly-broad patents to suppress innovation.

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UK Home Sec: Give us a snoop-around for WhatApp encryption. Don't worry, we won't go into the cloud

Mike Richards
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Re: Here we go again. The 'Claire Perry Test'

Do you realise how hard it is not to find zinc in Peru? That takes a special skill.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Here we go again. The 'Claire Perry Test'

'Not just tech stuff : one has to wonder what this person is doing as home secretary. She's completely fucking useless from what I can tell.'

The point of a Home Secretary is to act as a plausibly deniable method by which Home Office mandarins can implement their pet schemes. They've had this sort of proposal on the books for years (see also ID cards and key disclosure), they've just been waiting for someone suitable stupid and craven to be appointed to the position.

There's also definitely something in the water supply to the Home Office that relatively sane people go in and come out raving like Daily Mail columnists on mescaline.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Colour me surprised

The FSB, Chinese State Security, CIA and any number of other organisations where people wear cheap suits and dark glasses will pour all their efforts into compromising the key holder organisation. Not to mention every hacker in the world.

The consequences of any breach would be to destroy or fatally undermine confidence in every transaction made by Britons. We could say goodbye to the City and much of our economy.

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Mike Richards
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If the interviewer had been on the ball

They would have mentioned that all of the necessary algorithms to build an end-to-end encrypted messaging app are in the wild and encoded into any number of libraries. If the government goes after Apple or Facebook and demands back doors (good luck on that by the way), the ink won't have dried on the legislation before an app is released with all the security afforded by strong encryption and no known owner.

The only people affected by any legislation on back doors will be the law-abiding citizens that the likes of Rudd swear an oath to protect.

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Mike Richards
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The good news is that the people in Cheltenham who do understand encryption are probably holding their heads in their hands as this old chestnut comes around again. They know you can't have strong encryption with a backdoor and have probably explained it a dozen times before - not least when Cameron made the same proposal shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

This is probably more to do with getting the Mail off the government's backs. Dacre and chums have been merrily laying into Internet companies of late as assistants to terrorists (when its really that Google's eating all their ad money). The Tories never want to see an ideological wedge open up between them and the Mail.

If the government really wants to stop extremism they could consider attacking the various fear-mongering journalists employed by the tabloids who are paid huge amounts of money to tell people around the world that we should be afraid of our own shadows.

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Toshiba's nuclear power plant business runs out of steam

Mike Richards
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The problem seems to be with delays to construction of several American plants rather than anything wrong with their reactors. It would probably been better if the British state had held on to Westinghouse, then we could have ordered a common fleet of reactors for our new plants rather than the four different (incompatible) designs currently being lined up which means we have no economies of scale.

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Our Sun's been using facial scrub: No spots for two weeks

Mike Richards
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Re: What am I going to blame random outages on now?

Adverse tides.

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Boffins reveal how to pour a perfect glass of wine with no drips. First step, take a diamond...

Mike Richards
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It keeps alumni money coming in if former students think the university is still turning out great new ideas.

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Now UK bans carry-on lappies, phones, slabs on flights from six nations amid bomb fears

Mike Richards
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Re: Checked in luggage

'nd what about trains? Can we ride on them without further subjection to wildly inappropriate security theater measures? '

Don't laugh, New Labour proposed security theatre at railway stations more than once.

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Airplane bomb fears spark America's laptop, tablet carry-on ban

Mike Richards
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'Jeez guyz .... what do you think the BBC et al do when they go off to do their documentaries ? Take it with them in the cabin ? No ! They pack it securely and put it in the hold.'

Having worked with film crews - a bit of both. The real big stuff goes in big aluminium cases in the hold and is insured to buggery. The smaller stuff comes into the cabin so we could get some filming done even if the main camera went off on an exciting trip of its own.

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Mike Richards
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Re: or stowed in the hold

It's a hideous, volatile organomercury compound which is a potent neurotoxin. It's one of those compounds that can penetrate the skin, blood-brain barrier and latex gloves so combined with its high vapour pressure, it is far too dangerous for everyday use.

Relevance to this scenario - not sure, but horrible stuff.

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User jams up PC. Literally. No, we don't know which flavour

Mike Richards
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I've absent-mindedly pushed an SD card into the side-mounted optical drive on an iMac more than once.

Thankfully, Jonny Ive has made that problem a thing of the past by removing the optical drive entirely and hiding the SD slot somewhere round the back amongst a rat's nest of cables. Bloody genius that man.

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Google Maps' Street View can now lead you into a bubbling lava lake

Mike Richards
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If you've never seen the lava lake in action, it is hypnotically beautiful. Here's Geoff Mackley who got ridiculously close to something that is normally achieved by a lot of overtime at ILM:

https://youtu.be/VuQrUwFn6bU

(The descent begins about 1:20 in - after a fry up)

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What went up, Musk come down again: SpaceX to blast sat into orbit with used rocket

Mike Richards
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Re: Don't call it "re-used"

'Previously enjoyed' was how Mercedes used to sell used cars.

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Nokia 3310 'Supremo Putin' edition goes on sale in Russia

Mike Richards
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Re: Where's the Brexit one?

Doesn't Jacob have staff to do all that grubby telephony nonsense on his behalf? If he needs to send a message there is nothing wrong with a small handwritten note, sealed with wax and delivered by a consumptive orphan.

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Java? Nah, I do JavaScript, man. Wise up, hipster, to the money

Mike Richards
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Re: Java is great for outsourcing

That's an interesting theory, but I don't think it can be true.

If hyper specifying and lots of typing were important, the world would be running on Ada.

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Blighty floods with techies' tears as Capita boss Parker quits

Mike Richards
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The most bewildering thing about Capita

(and fellow taxpayer parasite Serco)

is that they are responsible for running such a diverse range of businesses that you'd think they'd be good at one of them - but apparently not.

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