* Posts by Mike Richards

4314 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

It wasn't just a few credit cards: Entire travel itineraries were stolen by hackers, Easyjet now tells victims

Mike Richards

DPA 2018?

So, when did EasyJet inform the ICO?

From memory, under the DPA 2018 they have 72 hours to refer themselves after discovering the breach which doesn’t seem to fit with an announcement this week of a hack that occurred a couple of months ago and which left customers vulnerable to fraud.

Virgin Orbit at last ready to live up to its name: Branson's other space adventure set for maiden flight this weekend

Mike Richards

'We note in the company's press kit that its founder, beard aficionado Sir Richard Branson, is described as an "adventure" – which is also an apt term for a journey on one of his trains. '

Beardie doesn't operate trains any more - we've decided the Italians should have a go at running the West Coast; presumably someone in the DoT heard the aphorism about Mussolini getting the trains to run on time and thought that was good enough.

He's still leaching off the taxpayer though - right now trying to get Cornwall County Council to stop funding fripperies such as schools and public transport so money can be siphoned into his spaceport in Newquay.

India makes contact-tracing app mandatory for passengers as domestic flights resume

Mike Richards

Re: And so it begins...

The Home Office must have wanked itself into oblivion at the thought of being able to do the same over here.

Easyjet hacked: 9 million people's data accessed plus 2,200 folks' credit card details grabbed

Mike Richards

Re: Never store CC details

It's even more annoying when your password manager's formula falls foul of a site's rules (e.g. no non-alphabetic characters etc.) that they couldn't be arsed to tell you about beforehand.

Mike Richards

Re: Highly sophisticated

Wasn't the TalkTalk attack originally 'highly-sophisticated' - before it was revealed it was some script kiddies playing with freely-available tools on an unsecured Tiscali database?

Still, it's not like the then-management of TalkTalk are doing anything vital these days are they?


Worried about the magnetic North Pole sprinting towards Russia? Don't be, boffins say, it'll be back sooner or later

Mike Richards

Magnetic reversals aren't terribly regular so (like volcanoes) they can't be 'overdue'. They seem to follow a broad pattern of a gradual dwindling of the global magnetic field over a few thousand years with the appearance of several local magnetic poles around the globe, followed by a flip and a gradual strengthening of the global field.

The duration of the reversal itself isn't known with huge precision, but anything between 2000 and 12000 years seems to be the best fit; although at least one paper proposes the most recent Bruhnes-Matuyama reversal about 0.781My was complete within 200 years.


Though, just to make it more complex, the apparent duration of the reversal in any particular location is incredibly varied as it relies on issues such as the geomagnetic latitude and local non-dipole components of the Earth's magnetic field during the transition.

God I hated palaeomagnetism when I did my MSc - it's absolutely bloody brilliant - until it isn't. Though it was a damn sight more useful than the radioactive dates I was using which were very much 'pick a number between yesterday and a hundred million years ago' due to hydrothermal contamination. Ooops - I digress.

Psst... Wanna buy some stock in a spaceplane company? Virgin would like a word

Mike Richards

Re: Galactic?

Pretty sure it's just a way for various slabs to burn vast amounts of carbon in order that they can Instagram a photo of the Earth 'So fragile, so pretty, stop global warming' [sad face emoji] Buy my merch.

O2 be a fly on the wall during BT and Vodafone's video calls: Telefónica's UK biz, Virgin Media officially merge

Mike Richards

Re: And the losers are...

Nice of Virgin to bring all their debt to the party.

China successfully launches its biggest-ever space truck to fire up its space station ambitions

Mike Richards

Re: Important difference

Will anyone take a bet on the Long March 9 (140 tonnes to orbit) flying before the SLS? It's currently scheduled for 2030 so it seems likely.

UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for 'research' after crisis ends, MPs told

Mike Richards

Where's my Lumia?

Don't know why, but I've got a sudden urge to fire up my old Windows Phone. The security risk from an elderly, unsupported OS seems quite tractable compared to those from this government.

Mike Richards

Open source perhaps?

Is there any news if the code will be disclosed?

Mike Richards

Re: "please install the app, and use it"

The Australian PM said something similar this week about if people wanted the lockdown to end then they had to install the app. Expect something to come from our government soon in all ways from soothing to patriotic to threatening. They'll probably try linking it to VE Day for maximum scumminess.

The utter farce of this is that any tracing app is only as good as the testing regime behind it which can give the all-clear. And let's not forget, the UK still hasn't met Hancock's self-imposed testing target in a sustained manner.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Mike Richards

Re: Hanlon's razor

Hancock told people they had to ‘do your duty’ and download the app.

NASA's classic worm logo returns for first all-American trip to ISS in years: Are you a meatball or a squiggly fan?

Mike Richards

Re: Why not use neither?

NASA awarded Space X about $400 million for the development of The Falcon 9 and committed itself as the first customer for the rocket. So - quite a lot really.

Announcing the official Reg-approved measure of social distancing: The Osman

Mike Richards

Re: "two metres (six and a half feet)"

‘ Where I live we're being told 1.5 meters...’

We’re British so we need an extra 50 centimetres to accommodate our hardwired natural disdain for other people.

Thought you'd go online to buy better laptop for home working? Too bad, UK. So did everyone. Laptops, monitors and WLANs fly off shelves

Mike Richards

Re: and desks and chairs at IKEA

It certainly used to be the case that each category of good was named after a different aspect of Scandinavian life such as place names or plants. For instance, outdoor furniture were named after islands in the Stockholm archipelago and rugs are named after plants native to Denmark and Sweden.

The reason being that Ingvar Kamprad who founded the blue and yellow monster was dyslexic and struggled with product codes, so he chose unique product names.

Australian privacy watchdog sues Facebook for *checks notes* up to £266bn

Mike Richards

Re: Is this the new tax grab?

Here's one for GDPR experts...

People without Facebook accounts are still tracked by Facebook doohickies scattered over the Internet like dog turds over a pavement. Facebook can use these to build individual profiles of individuals. These people have not granted Facebook permission to store personal information and have no recourse to demand the data is deleted - since they do not have Facebook accounts. So is Facebook breaching GDPR by continuing to acquire this information?

Hello, support? What do I click if I want some cash?

Mike Richards

If you look carefully at the top-left of the ATM screen

You will see the default icon for Barclay's customer support.

Flat Earther and wannabe astronaut killed in homemade rocket

Mike Richards

Continents float in solid, plastic Mantle rather than molten rock. They float because they are less dense than the Upper Mantle. Practically none of the Mantle is molten and even Mantle plumes are effectively solid apart from at their very top where they undergo partial decompression melting.

London's top cop dismisses 'highly inaccurate or ill informed' facial-recognition critics, possibly ironically

Mike Richards

Training set and algorithm?

Anyone know if the image recognition system has been opened up to independent auditing? It'd be nice to know what training set was used and how well it performed. Then to see the program itself. But I suspect these will be all buried under 'commercially confidential' legalese and very scary lawyers.

This is your last chance, HP. There's no turning back. You take blue poison pill, the story ends. You take the red Xerox pill, you stay in Wonderland

Mike Richards

Re: @J. Keith

I would have recommended a little Samsung laser printer which are cheap as chips and utterly reliable, but I see they have been emborged by - oh - HP.

Don't use natwest.co.uk for online banking, Natwest bank tells baffled customer

Mike Richards

Re: The interns are early this year

'Their online complaints page doesn't recognise any UK address as a valid UK address, and even if you use the "International address" option to type in your address directly, the submit form has an error (so you can't submit any complaints)'

Pretty sure that's intentional.

Chrome deploys deep-linking tech in latest browser build despite privacy concerns

Mike Richards

Re: re: Wonder what the GDPR implications of this are?

Aren’t U.K. Google users still protected by the DPA 2018 which is the UK’s implementation of GDPR?

And they said IoT was trash: Sheffield 'smart' bins to start screaming when they haven't been emptied for a fortnight

Mike Richards

Dr Emu

And I thought we'd been warned about the perils of intelligent bins:


Oracle staff say Larry Ellison's fundraiser for Trump is against 'company ethics' – Oracle, ethics... what dimension have we fallen into?

Mike Richards

Re: God we're dumb

'Hoover just called from the 1950's....'

Tell him that hemlines are up this year and an off-the-shoulder look is always an eye-catcher.

Parks and recreation escalate efforts to take back control of field terrorised by thug geese

Mike Richards

Re: "Flying hellbastards"

It sounds like an awesome WW2 airforce unit.

Starliner snafu could've been worse: Software errors plague Boeing's Calamity Capsule

Mike Richards

Re: Capability Maturity Model ?

Didn't the management of Boeing decamp to Chicago so they could be closer to the money markets? And of course that management of Boeing came from McDonnell Douglas where they had done wonders for shareholders by cost-cutting even as they drove large parts of that company into irrelevancy.

Social media notifications of the future: Ranger tagged you in a photo with Tessadora, Wrenlow, Faelina and Graylen

Mike Richards

Re: Ministry of names...

The same in Iceland. You can only have a name that uses letters in the Icelandic alphabet; it has to be able to accept the rules of Icelandic grammar which is terrifying and the product of far too many long winters' nights before the advent of electricity; *and* it shouldn't cause the child any embarrassment in the future.

Sounds sensible to me - and the list of acceptable names contains some serious awesome suggestions - who wouldn't want to be a Ragnar, Aðalvíkingur or Mjölnir?

There are already Chinese components in your pocket – so why fret about 5G gear?

Mike Richards

Re: Drugs

'a) What drugs some MPs were on'

No sure it was drugs so much as a handy retainer from the US Embassy. I would not be surprised if Pompeo and US Ambassador Woody Johnson were pulling the strings on the likes of IDS and Liam Fox. And the US will be doing all that it can to engineer a backbench rebellion when the necessary legislation comes to the Commons.

It's calculated Apple leak time: Cheaper iPhone, laptops with proper keyboards, and, oh, a Tile competitor

Mike Richards

Re: Tile ?

And it wouldn't be beyond Apple that following the release of 'Magic Cards' (or some such stupid name), Tile users will start to experience 'issues' with their kit.

Remember the Clipper chip? NSA's botched backdoor-for-Feds from 1993 still influences today's encryption debates

Mike Richards

Re: here we go again

I'd put good money on 99% of them never having heard of it.

And for the remaining 1% to say that technology has moved on so much that everything must have changed.

Remember that 2024 Moon thing? How about Mars in 2033? Authorization bill moots 2028 for more lunar footprints

Mike Richards

Re: Private money

Not if Lunar Industries can their hands on all that lovely He3 first - we're just waiting to clone Sam Rockwell a few times.

German scientists, Black Knights and the birthplace of British rocketry

Mike Richards

Re: German scientists, Black Knights and the birthplace of British rocketry

And of course, we scrapped it about a decade before people started giving serious thoughts to the commercial prospects of spaceflight - something ESA and the Ariane series were all too quick to adopt. At the time, space was just seen as a cost rather than an economic driver.

Black Arrow was almost the smallest rocket to carry a useful payload to orbit, so I wonder what a follow-on to Black Arrow would have looked like and whether the UK would have carried on with HTP - which although terrifying stuff, is much less horrifying than dealing with hypergolic fuels or the technical nightmares of cryogenic rocketry.

Mike Richards

Re: German scientists, Black Knights and the birthplace of British rocketry

Seconded. It's been a long time since Channel 4 made their 'Britain's Cold War Super Weapons' series and I don't think it is (legally) available.

BTW. If you haven't read it; 'Vertical Empire' by C.N. Hill is a good look at the Blue Streak, Black Knight, Black Arrow and ELDO programmes.

Mike Richards

Science Museum exhibit from a few years back

They had a Bloodhound missile helpfully labelled with its performance of going from zero to supersonic in its own bodylength. Not sure what sort of G forces it would have been pulling, but it must have been impressively loud.

You're not Boeing to believe this: Yet another show-stopping software bug found in ill-fated 737 Max airplanes

Mike Richards

Sunk costs

I wonder how much the MAX debacle has cost Boeing in comparison to the clean-sheet design that was originally proposed to replace the 737 NG? By the time the plane gets back into the sky it's possible that an all-new airliner with superior characteristics to the A320-neo would have been approaching completion. And Boeing would have avoided the deserved trashing of its reputation.

Tragically, much as the 737 MAX deserves to go the way of the Comet 1, Boeing will get away with it. The US won't allow it to go bust because it is the last US commercial airliner builder of any size; and with both Embraear and Bombardier falling into the hands of the big two there are simply no other aerospace companies that can step into the gap.

15 years on, Euroboffins finally work out what it took to send the Huygens Titan probe into such a spin

Mike Richards

Re: New Reg unit?

And in the end it turned out to be more like creme brûlée:


Halfords invents radio signals that don't travel at the speed of light

Mike Richards

Re: If DAB is faster than FM

Are you sure they're late and not actually tomorrow's pips arriving early?

50 years ago, someone decided it would be OK to fire Apollo 12 through a rain cloud. Awks, or just 'SCE to Aux'?

Mike Richards

Re: Apollo 13

Good news - your memory is still working.

The explosion was caused by a fan used to stir the oxygen tanks. The tank that exploded was originally meant to fly on Apollo 10, but substituted late in the build and eventually ended up on Apollo 13.

The cables driving the fans were insulated with Teflon, but this had been damaged after completing a countdown test. At the end of the test, the tank couldn't be drained entirely through a drain line, so the decision was made to turn on heaters in the tank and let the residue boil off. A switch designed to prevent the tank heating beyond 27C failed and the temperature gauge could not go higher than 27C, so no one noticed when the tank became much hotter, melting part of the insulation.

When the switch was thrown to stir the tanks, a spark leapt across the exposed wiring and - well they didn't go to the Moon.

Boffins show the 2017 Nork nuke can move, move, move any mountain (by a meter)

Mike Richards

Re: what sort of nuke

I'm wondering that. It's the small end of a first hydrogen bomb test, so I'd predict they've found a way of boosting a fission bomb using a slug of deuterium and tritium. It would be comparable to Operation Greenhouse by the US (1951) which produced up to 225kT in the Greenhouse George explosion:

Obligatory 1950s 'What the hell were they thinking of' video: https://youtu.be/cRi9JxvFkPk

Either that or the North Koreans have recreated the Sloika layer cake design that the Soviets used to catch up with the Americans in the Joe-4 test. It isn't as efficient as the Ulam Teller design, but it does give you the option of megaton yields.

Mike Richards

Re: Not a big problem, IMO - until

Thanks to A.Q Khan and Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan exchanged nuclear know-how with North Korea in exchange for North Korean expertise in designing long-range missiles. So there's a good chance North Korea's warheads are much smaller than other country's first attempts at bringing about the end of the world.

NASA boffins tackle Nazi alien in space – with the help of Native American tribal elders

Mike Richards

Space 1999

The name change means that Ultima Thule is still available for use by Brian Blessed with an unfeasibly large (even for him) beard as the leader of a band of astronauts who crashed on an icy planet and who seem to live forever.

Commentards of a certain age will remember the trauma-inducing ending to *that* episode:


Facebook iOS app silently turns on your phone camera. Ah, relax – it's just a bug, lol!?

Mike Richards

Says something about a company

When they feel they need to have a ‘Vice President of Integrity’ rather than having it as a corporate ethos.

Boeing comes clean on parachute borkage as the ISS crew is set to shrink

Mike Richards

Re: "UK Space Agency showering Virgin Orbit UK with £7.35m"

Branson’s really good at getting taxpayers to cover his costs isn’t he? (See also Spaceport America in New Mexico - https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/03/new-mexicos-sad-bet-on-space-exploration/554243/)

USAF spaceplane back on Earth after mystery 2-year jaunt in orbit. Jeepers creepers, what has it been doing up here?

Mike Richards

James Webb Space Telescope

'Engineers used pulleys and weights to simulate the gravity environment of space, and now face the arduous task of folding the thing away again. '

This thing is 22m by 10m - as someone who struggles to fold a map, I salute their bravery.

Steve Bannon-backed flick attempts to expose evil lurking at heart of Huawei *cough* Huaxing

Mike Richards

Re: One America News Network

Put it like this - it makes Breitbart look sane.

RAF pilot seconded to Virgin Orbit for three years of launching rockets from a 747

Mike Richards

Newquay airport

Where it will soon be possible to get a direct flight to orbit, but not a direct bus to Truro.

US govt watchdog barks at FAA over 737 Max inspectors' lack of qualifications

Mike Richards

Re: Boeing needs to split

The decision to move Boeing HQ to Chicago away from the engineers in Seattle might also be a contributing factor to how the company sank so low.

Hinkley Point nuclear power station will be late and £2bn over budget

Mike Richards

And Finland

The EPR at Olkiluoto Unit 3 was due to come on stream in 2010. It is now scheduled to start next year. The lack of experience in building new reactors has been cited as a cause for the delay, but with that and Flamanville 3 so late and over budget, it might be worth asking if the EPR is just too complex?

Orford Ness: Military secrets and unique wildlife on the remote Suffolk coast

Mike Richards

Re: One Christmas when I was a lad

Oooooh that brings back memories of another book featuring the 'Ness' - children's book probably published in the early to mid 1970s. Group of kids see a UFO over Orford, then the action relocates to Dartmoor - can't remember the title, but I loved it when I was about 10 - anyone???


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