* Posts by Mike Richards

3980 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

'Fat boy' flies: ISRO's heavy rocket fails to blow up

Mike Richards
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Re: And the UK gives "aid" to this country.

The UK no longer gives traditional aid to India, DFiD now funds projects developing trade and security opportunities as well as joint funding of poverty reduction projects such as investing in small businesses.

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

Mike Richards
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Re: If it got interrupted...

They cost extra.

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Spacecraft spots possible signs of frozen water on the Moon

Mike Richards
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Re: Water, water everywhere...

I'm not a physicist, but I'd guess it'd be hard to circularise the Earth's orbit if it had once been in an elliptical orbit and crashed into a smaller Mars-sized object. It's much easier to explain the Earth-Moon system if you let an object about 10% the mass of the Earth do all the colliding.

Now I can go back to being a geologist... it's worth remembering the impact between Theia and the proto-Earth was just the last large impact we have evidence for here on Earth. All of the models of Solar System formation predict that the very early Solar System would have had several Mars-sized bodies blundering around the Inner Solar System waiting to crash into one another.

The Earth of course would have then gone through the literal hell of the Late Heavy Bombardment (4.1-3.8 Ga) in which there would have been several impacts carving out basins in excess of 5000km. This would have been enough to reduce a good part of the Crust to rubble and caused massive, shallow melting. But nearly all the evidence has been destroyed by nearly 4 billion years of tectonism and (in Wales nearly continuous) rain.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Water, water everywhere...

The deuterium/hydrogen ratio of the Earth's oceans does not resemble that of the comets we have examined, so cometary water is probably not a significant source of the Earth's water.

Instead, Earth's D/H ratio very close to that of minerals in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites which are thought to closely resemble the primordial material of the Solar System. It is also very similar to the D/H ratio found in the very small amounts of hydrogenous material included in lunar samples which suggests the Earth's water was mostly in place when the Moon was formed from the Earth.

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Elon to dump Trump over climate bump

Mike Richards
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Re: Whack-a do lobby

'Mass extinctions aren't going to happen due to temperature rises'

Your reading for tonight is to learn about the cause and effects of the carbon isotope excursion during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. If you have time, the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction is also available.

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Microsoft founder Paul Allen reveals world's biggest-ever plane

Mike Richards
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Re: Why air launch?

Launch when you want without worrying about rain and wind at the launch site. Get above the cloud, light the blue touch paper and you can have a small spy satellite over North Korea or replace part of a constellation in short order.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Advantages?

The Victor looks even more science fiction (albeit Buck Rogers SF). I'd love to know what they were smoking when they came up with that plane - it is a handsome villain.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Hang on...

Yep, me too - my second thought was the proposal from Vickers to make a jumbo jet from the VC10 - by having three fuselages flying in close formation:

http://www.airvectors.net/avvc10.html (near foot of page)

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BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

Mike Richards
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Re: Who should pay?

The very first pensions, introduced by Otto von Bismarck, actually started when you were 70.

Average life expectancy in Prussia at that time? 45. Although once you subtracted child mortality, average life expectancy soared to - 70.

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NASA boffins find an explanation for Saturn's wonky moon

Mike Richards
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Re: Astonishing. This would have been hit very hard indeed for that tipover

It would have looked amazing!

These big impacts might be responsible for some of the weirdness in the planets - Uranus is practically lying on its side and the best explanation is that it was hit by something about the size of the Earth early in its life.

And *something* - probably another huge impact, robbed Venus of its rotational energy giving it a day longer than its year and sunrise in the west.

Not to mention giving us our very own humungous Moon.

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Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

Mike Richards
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It looked like the Minuteman's engine was still burning because it was leaving a trail of exhaust, so presumably there was still a fairly chunky target.

Interesting summary - the threat of upsetting China is one that I really hope keeps the sane heads in the Pentagon awake. Not so much because of a risk of war with the US, but because China building up its arsenal is going to cause an arms race in the region with its historic rival, India which has already demonstrated impressive missile-building skills. And if India has more nukes, that means regional basket case Pakistan has got to build more...

So while we wait for the world to turn a pleasant shade of Maralinga Orange - have an upvote.

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Seminal game 'Colossal Cave Adventure' released onto GitLab

Mike Richards
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Re: PC World

Microsoft has confirmed the Xbox One port requires a 14GB update to run.

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BA CEO blames messaging and networks for grounding

Mike Richards
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Re: As a 3rd party....

Are you saying they turned it off and on again?

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Mike Richards
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Re: "A modern airline is an IT business, one that just happens to fly aircraft. "

I wonder if the two are connected?

I ordered a pack of Sainsbury's own-brand lemons and I've ended up with a decidedly inorganic BA Boeing 747-400.

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Mike Richards
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Re: "millions of messages"

Three quarters of those messages were probably copies of the ones I get from BA advertising holidays and telling me my points are about to expire because I haven't sufficiently braced myself yet for another whirl of the unique BA customer experience.

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Mike Richards
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Cruz previously worked at Vueling which has a terrible record for cancellations, lost bookings and cruddy customer service - so he's clearly brought his experience over.

He was appointed to cut costs at BA which he's done by emulating RyanAir and EasyJet whilst keeping BA prices. He's allowed the airline to go downmarket just as the Turkish, the Gulf and Asian carriers are hitting their stride in offering world-wide routing and don't treat customers like crap. Comparing Emirates to BA in economy is like chalk and cheese.

BA's only hope is if the American carriers continue to be as dreadful as ever.

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Scientists are counting atoms to figure out when Mars last had volcanoes

Mike Richards
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Re: #DJO

It just has to be below the melting point of iron/nickel (with a pinch of sulfur to taste) under god-almighty pressure to kill the magnetic field. That could mean there is enough heat coming up through the Mantle to allow partial melting and volcanism. But without knowing how much heat is radiating out and how much water is slopping round in the Mantle, its very hard to work out just how much melting could take place.

NASA's next lander, InSight which will fly in 2018 is equipped with a drill and heat flow probe which will give us some idea of the former. It'll also have a seismometer which might mean we can get a glimpse of the planet's interior structure and its state - provided we are lucky enough to either experience a big 'quake or something from the asteroid belt the size of a large house decides to become friends with the Martian surface.

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Mike Richards
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We need to get this thing's ass to Mars

There are flows in Tharsis where crater-counting and the apparent lack of erosion suggest eruptions within the last few million years. If this is the case, Mars is warmer inside than we think and that means there's a greater chance of hydrothermal fluids bringing the goodies needed for life to the surface.

E. Hauber, P. Brož, F. Jagert, P. Jodłowski and T. Platz (17 May 2011). "Very recent and wide-spread basaltic volcanism on Mars". Geophysical Research Letters. 38 (10). Bibcode:2011GeoRL..3810201H. doi:10.1029/2011GL047310.

(It's a page turner and I won't spoil the ending)

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How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections

Mike Richards
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Re: If ad slinging

Are you suggesting Facebook ads are better than the age-old British interaction between candidates and innocent voters? Yes, you can switch off a Facebook ad but you can't get that warm glow you get after calling it a self-serving, hypocritical, mealy-mouthed, good-for-nothing drain on the taxpayer.

Mind you, where I am, I haven't had so much as a leaflet to pick up, sigh over, tear into small shreds and dispatch to the recycling bin. The election seems to be happening somewhere else entirely.

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US laptops-on-planes ban may extend to flights from ALL nations

Mike Richards
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Re: secure storage

And cameras.

So that's tourism buggered. The cave-dwelling nutters from the 13th Century must be hugging themselves with joy at what they've achieved - by not actually doing anything.

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Sergey Brin building humanitarian blimp for lifesaving leisure

Mike Richards
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Re: Techn billionaires floating around in giant dirigibles?

Has anyone seen Grace Jones recently?

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Juno's first data causing boffins to rewrite the text books on Jupiter

Mike Richards
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Don't forget JUNO's crew

Three LEGO Minifigs are right now orbiting Jupiter.

I like to think Lester would be proud of NASA for that reason alone:

http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-080411a.html

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DARPA orders spaceplane capable of 10 launches in 10 days

Mike Richards
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Re: Anyone else get the impression...

Well Boeing is going to need the cash if Space X and Blue Origin eat all the Delta and Atlas money.

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Industrial Light & Magic: 40 years of Lucas's pioneering FX-wing

Mike Richards
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Re: You forgot...

Apparently George Lucas toured the Anderson studios when they were on pre-production work for Space 1999 and was hugely influenced by the gritty look and feel of the models. Without Gerry Anderson's talent incubator we probably wouldn't have had the incredible model work in 2001, Star Wars or Alien.

I wish they'd bring back the models for some movies. I don't know what it is but they look more 'real' than almost all CG.

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

Mike Richards
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Re: Known to Authorities.

How many people are employed in Google and Facebook's shiny new London headquarters, and how many more will be in Apple's new Battersea mothership?

Does Amber Rudd think they're going to roll over for her when both Apple and Google have previously put their finger up to the FBI and to the Chinese Communist Party? If the government tries to force the issue these companies will move abroad taking their well-remunerated stars with them.

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Mike Richards
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Typical Home Office

They have a whole bunch of proposals waiting for the necessary atrocity so they can be rammed through the Commons 'to protect the kiddies'. No matter that there's zero evidence that encryption played any part in the Manchester atrocity.

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Britain's on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution

Mike Richards
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Re: £875 per household per year!

'If I could just observe, when satellite measurements support the received official wisdom of climate change, they are breathlessly quoted as proof of the matter. Funnily enough, if they don't support that position, then they can be explained away.'

I think the issue is that where research is republished especially for a popular audience, satellite = high tech = better has been assumed. What isn't explained is how satellites infer temperatures and that there are known issues with their records - some of which have only been discovered since the discrepancies in the satellite record have become obvious. What we should be saying is that the satellite record, although imprecise, gives us a truly global coverage which hasn't been the case so far.

'Climate change is happening, I accept that. But the correlation against CO2 is probably similar to the correlation with toothpaste consumption. Unlike the majority of the population and most climate change enthusiasts, I have actually studied climate science at degree level. And I'm unconvinced by the simplistic CO2=climate change.'

At a very simple level CO2 is causative on temperature change - John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius proved that in the 19th Century. The exact percentage of temperature change due to CO2 as opposed to other factors is the current question. But the weight of evidence is such that people proposing other methods are struggling to find suitable mechanisms for warming the planet whilst finding some way in which increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere don't do what they do in the lab. (And yes, climate change was a good part of my post-grad degree, so I've laboured through more forcing papers than is good for anyone's soul).

'You'd better mark me down as some racist Brexiteer climate change denying Daily Fail reading, 4x4 driving, reactionary idiot.'

Why on Earth would I want to do that? Twitter is there if I want to be horrible online.

Have an upvote for having a decent argument.

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Mike Richards
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Unfortunately the economics of the AGR were less excellent which is why the CEGB switched to the PWR.

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Mike Richards
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Quite right - at least in the UK.

The first two Magnox plants at Calder Hall and Chapelcross were essentially built to supply plutonium to the military. They were publicised as providing power to the grid, but their contribution was very small. The Magnox design was especially suited to plutonium since fuel elements could be removed from the core after a very short burn of 90 days or so which ensured there would be a high ratio of 'useful' 239Pu to 240Pu in the spent fuel. 240Pu is not wanted in weapons since it occasionally spits out a neutron which can cause predetonation of the bomb during implosion.

The later, much large Magnox stations were civilian and IIRC all of their spent fuel was put through a civilian reprocessing cycle.

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Mike Richards
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'This is what concerns me about climate change discussions. Set against the period of the post-glacial it's about 1% and yet all the arguments hang on this.'

That's why there are proxies for further back in the record such as oxygen isotope measurements in sediments, air bubbles in ice and organic carbonates.

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Mike Richards
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Re: £875 per household per year!

'The Antarctic ice-mass is increasing. It is at near record highs.'

That is not inconsistent with a warming planet. Warmer air and a weaker vortex allows moist air to blow over East Antarctica and fall as snow.

The Zwally study you are probably referencing (https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-study-mass-gains-of-antarctic-ice-sheet-greater-than-losses) has issues highlighted by the author which are often lost in the noise. Zwally's data only covers part of Antarctica and it only goes up to 2008. Zwally found that ice was accumulating in East Antarctica as predicted, but Zwally also pointed out that loss of ice in the West and the Peninsula was accelerating and would outstrip accumulation within the next two decades.

Zwally's study also conflicts with other NASA data from the GRACE satellite which measures the mass of Antarctica. That shows a clear trend of mass loss at a rate of 125Gta. So far, Zwally is an outlier in the data which suggests Antarctica is net losing mass.

https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/land-ice/

'Polar bear numbers are increasing.'

Possibly, but it's probably due to the cessation of hunting of polar bears rather than purely natural causes. Even the people who study polar bears admit there are huge uncertainties over their numbers and the health of populations:

http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/status/population-map.html

http://www.sej.org/publications/alaska-and-hawaii/magic-number-a-sketchy-fact-about-polar-bears-keeps-goingand-going-an

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Mike Richards
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Re: £875 per household per year!

Actually it is you with the weak position. Satellite measurements are not the most accurate since satellites do not directly measure atmospheric temperature, rather they measure microwave radiation emitted by oxygen in a range of wavelengths which are then converted to temperature using various statistical methods.

There are multiple microwave temperature datasets obtained by multiple satellites with differing sensors and using multiple statistical methods upon which differing corrections have been applied. However, once the datasets are correlated the consensus is that there has been an overall warming of the troposphere since the mid-20th Century and a cooling of the lower stratosphere due to ozone depletion and an increase in water vapour due to higher temperatures in the underlying troposphere.

This satellite interpretation is supported by radiosonde data which is especially accurate for the Northern Hemisphere outside of the tropics. However, uncertainties in the correlation and lack of radiosonde data for the tropics and Southern Hemisphere mean that the rate of temperature change is uncertain. The best estimate is the lower troposphere is warming 0.12 - 0.135C per decade compared to 0.161C per decade for the surface.

Here are some links:

http://www.remss.com/measurements/upper-air-temperature

https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter02_FINAL.pdf

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/309/5740/1548

https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/tmlw0602.pdf

Tropospheric data here - go knock yourself out, but don't forget to write down your method:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/weather-balloon/radiosonde-atmospheric-temperature-products-accessing-climate

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Mike Richards
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But they can't be left too long 'in soak' because Magnox corrodes under water.

All spent fuel is initially cooled underwater before it is either sent for reprocessing (usually on flask trains which contain big steel tanks of water), or moved to permanent dry storage usually on site.

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Blighty's buying another 17 F-35s, confirms the American government

Mike Richards
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Upvote for the book recommendation (which was adapted into the BBC FOUR series 'Jet' which regularly haunts the schedules).

It's hard to work out if Sandys, Healey, BOAC or BEA did more damage to the British aerospace industries. The outright cancellation or crippling through malice and indecision of machines like the SR-177, TSR2, Britannia, V-1000, VC10 and DH-121 borders on the treasonous.

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Mike Richards
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Re: F-35A - the Widowmaker

IIRC - the Starfighter came equipped with a hefty payload of bribes to ensure the Luftwaffe didn't buy the Sanders Roe fighter.

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Julian Assange wins at hide-and-seek game against Sweden

Mike Richards
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Re: Slightly complicated...

You are bailed on charges, not on whether you actually committed the offence.

Assange jumped bail, he is alleged to broken the law and faces up to a year in prison followed by either extradition to the US if they want him, or forcible removal from the UK as his presence is not in the public interest.

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Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Mike Richards
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Not the Computer Misuse Act? (Trust me - you won't believe the twist).

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UK Tory party pledges 'digital' charter, wants Verify to back online gov

Mike Richards
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In related news

The government's secret public consultation on encryption ends tomorrow. You still have time to tell the Home Office where to stick its keys:

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/press/releases/2017/secret-consultations-have-no-place-in-open-government

You can mail the Home Office consultation at:

investigatorypowers@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

(They'd really rather you didn't - especially if you know more about encryption than the Home Secretary*)

* You know more about encryption than the Home Secretary.

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Mike Richards
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ID for voting

There's also a mention in the manifesto of requiring ID to vote.

Bearing in mind there is the poorest people don't have driving licenses and many do not have passports - what is this ID going to be?

Am I being paranoid in thinking the Home Office has disinterred an ID card 'consultation' document from the same crypt where they keep former Home Secretaries and is bringing it lurching back to life?

Or is it a good old American-style disenfranchisement exercise where you make it practically impossible for the wrong sort of people to vote?

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Bloke charged under UK terror law for refusing to cough up passwords

Mike Richards
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Re: Device with multiple partitions

And in this context because the magic word 'terrorism' has been invoked, he could be charged under RIPA Subsection 5A which has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for each offence.

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Train station's giant screens showed web smut at peak hour

Mike Richards
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Re: No wonder Thomas is smiling.

Of course he is, he's got a man inside him working up quite a sweat.

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Do we need Windows patch legislation?

Mike Richards
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Re: Lawyers

18 months?

Bliss! If only Sony were nearly as diligent.

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Mike Richards
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So does GCHQ have zero days stockpiled?

Perhaps Omand could address the question of the morality of security services sitting on piles of zero days for critical software and allowing large parts of the world's economy to go unprotected - when they could fix it.

So long as security services know about critical weaknesses and don't inform software companies they can't claim to be keeping us safe.

But Omand won't say anything because we never comment on security matters - apart from when they want to comment on security matters.

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Japanese researchers spin up toilet paper gyroscopes for science

Mike Richards
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Another thing to worry about

Please wait, your toilet is being upgraded to the latest in defecation experiences...

Nearly there....

PLEASE WAIT, PLEASE - oh dear.

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UK hospital meltdown after ransomware worm uses NSA vuln to raid IT

Mike Richards
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It'll be The Computer Misuse Act 1990, Section 3ZA - 'Unauthorised acts causing, or creating risk of, serious damage.'

Punishments are up to 14 years in prison, or a fine, or both. Offenders can be sentenced to life imprisonment where their actions endanger human welfare or national security.

But first you have to catch the buggers.

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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Mike Richards
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Worth checking your insurance

If you do have to go to The Land of the FreeTM (terms and exceptions apply), and want to take a laptop, it might be worth looking at your insurance as many policies exclude items such as laptops or cameras which are checked in the hold, or they cap compensation at such a miserly amount it won't cover the costs of a new machine.

Throwing a cheap, still-in-the-shrinkwrap Chromebook into your checked bag might be the only way you can work Yankside nowadays.

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Mike Richards
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Re: It is 'that wall' in disguise

I... am... not... jealous...

Seriously, that sounds like an amazing trip. Have a blast (oops that probably tripped the terrorismometer).

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Mike Richards
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Fine

But we'd better reciprocate with a ban on flights to the UK to let Americans know just how inconvenient it is going to be.

And whilst we're about it, can we start mandatory fingerprinting of Americans on arrival and exposing them to intrusive questioning by hostile, barely-literate uniformed jobsworths at the border?

If it's good enough for us visiting their country, they can have a taste of it coming this way. IIRC they wailed and gnashed their teeth when Brasil imposed exactly the same entry procedures as were used in America.

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The radio environment is noisy – so use the noise as a carrier for signals

Mike Richards
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Re: Disney

But it will have a twerking Ursula the Sea Witch.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Disney

Disney is already heavily invested in RFID and the like through their 'MagicBands' which are issued at themeparks and can do things like act as tickets, help create an optimised itinerary and identify diners to waiters. This seems like an obvious next step into their cuddly Orwellian future.

https://www.wired.com/2015/03/disney-magicband/

Also, for anyone interested in CGI, display technologies or animatronics, Disney Research puts a lot of different cutting-edge stuff on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyResearchHub

(The virtual clown makeup is the stuff of nightmares):

https://youtu.be/Ilgu3aFCphs

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