* Posts by M Gale

3552 posts • joined 22 Apr 2007

Boffins baffled by mysterious Martian crater

M Gale

I'm sorry.

I can't see you. You're completely implausible.

M Gale

Very, very interesting theory..

..however, wouldn't both chunks be spinning like ricocheted bullets after an impact like that? Phobos' day is little longer than that of earth's.

Still, very very interesting theory.

Ubuntu 'Maverick Meerkat' erects own App Store

M Gale

Of course, to comply with the GPL..

..would mean making the source code available. How much does it cost for a server these days? At least, one with enough bandwidth for a few thousand people to be snarfing source code every month?

Even clubbing together with a few of your mates and using their cablemodems to seed the source via torrent could end up being a pointlessly complex exercise, once word gets around that you're selling software that is available for free.

'Jetpack' inventors: US military showing interest. Honest

M Gale

Yves Rossy

Been doing something much more spectacular for years, with model aircraft turbine engines and a folding Buzz Lightyear wing. Unlike this thing, it actually works, and well enough to be able to cross the English Channel in about 8 minutes.

Also contains a parachute just in case of a "whoops" moment. Unlike, it seems, this thing.


Angry Birds take wing on Android

M Gale


See title. I'm sure it'll be sorted by the time it's ready for "proper" release. If it's not, you can lay the blame at the feet of the developers, not the OS. And are you saying that the iToy, iToy2, iToy3, iToy3gs, iToy4 and iToy Super Large Edition are not disparate devices with wildly differing specs?

Just think. If it was still in development for the Jobsian touchtoys, nobody would be playing it yet.

And no, no downvote from me. Takes a little more than simple ignorance for me to make with the little red 1.

M Gale


Or do you think that DS games should be more expensive than PS3 or Xbox 360 games? They still need to be developed, regardless of the specs of the target system.

Judge Dredd returns to the silver screen

M Gale

But he does take his helmet off in the comic.

At least, in the comic adaptation of the film. Bit difficult to keep your uniform on when you've been dishonourably discharged and thrown in the clinker, eh?

Also yes, lots of interesting characters from 2000AD that need films making of them, and don't forget Starlord!

General Motors bitchslaps Tesla with Range Anxiety™

M Gale

Ever tried to pierce a compressed gas canister? You might need DU cannon rounds...

"3)Hydrogen cars? What a joke. Not only does it take electricity to produce hydrogen, it is wayyyy more flammable than gasoline. If it does catch on fire, you cant see the flame. That's why firefighters were trained to wave broomsticks in front of them in a suspected hydrogen fire. If you are too stupid to even learn this, well you will burn in an event your hydrogen car catches on fire(if you don't die in the explosion)No thanks"

Hang on, what? So you have a choice, in the event of a tank breach, of dying by hydrogen flame or dying by petroleum BLEVE. Well, what a choice that is.

Do you know how armoured the average compressed gas canister is? How about "enough that you can slam into a brick wall fast enough to reduce yourself to a stain on the crumpled bodywork"? By then I don't think the manner of your conflagration is going to matter.

Yes, hydrogen requires electricity to produce by electrolysis. It can also be produced anywhere, say in sunny countries where solar is feasible. Or by a nuclear power source. Petrol, on the other hand, can only feasibly be produced by the fractional distillation of rock juice. There are other ways of making usable liquid fuel, such as methanol, however they also tend to use boatloads of electricity. By the way, methanol also burns with a near-invisible flame (I've nearly burned myself playing about with the stuff on a nice summer day), so you're about as fucked with that as you are hydrogen. What I would suggest for both types of fire is "if it feels all burny hot, get away from it quickly".

Hydrogen and fuel cells are probably about the best way you're going to get kilowatts of instant-on 'leccy into your car in an easily rechargable form. At least, until someone invents batteries that have the charge cycle of a capacitor, and all fuelling stations have their own miniature power stations (possibly powered by a gas pipeline) to deal with the demand.

Superhuman Chinese monk does a bunk

M Gale

HeNe laser tube starter circuit

Works a bit like a CRT HV coil. About 15 kilovolts starting voltage, creating sparks long enough to reach from inside the laserdisk player to my hand. I tell you what: that shit hurts!

Though perhaps not as impressive as the 100KV or so that you might get touching a car door on a cold dry morning.

Hm, maybe I'm in the wrong line of employment. Maybe I should dress up in funky robes and persuade girls to have sex with me to cure their "spiritual ills". Yeah, that'll do it.

Ex-spook jailed for selling secrets

M Gale


Is that the thing that throws popups in front of full-screen apps and slows my computer to a crawl, while routinely forgetting which applications I've allowed access to the Internet?

Gets in my way all the damned time.

Spammers latch onto Ping to pump iPhone survey scams

M Gale

I'm sure Apple are checking for offensive content...

...just like they thoroughly check every app in their store. No chance of a flashlight app sneakily hiding a tethering app or something more nefarious under Apple's watchful gaze, oh no!

Energizer bunny hits iPhone, BlackBerry - wirelessly

M Gale


One half of a transformer goes into a mat, and the other half goes into your phone?

Be nice if it worked anywhere in the room, but somehow I can't see that happening. Now inductive cooking stoves.. they look quite funky.

Joy Division designer tackles England footie strip

M Gale

Do the shirts come with built-in air bags?

Just curious.

IT workers getting back to work - sort of

M Gale

UK _based_ site...

...international news.

Or had you not noticed yet?

Netgear launches next-gen powerline Ethernet kit

M Gale

Got to wonder..

..how far up the pipe the signal travels. Can a neighbour on the same phase snarf your packets? Everyone attached to the same line coming from the substation? What happens if your neighbour also has power line ethernet?

Wonder how long it'll be before WPA for power lines?

Diesels greener than electric cars, says Swiss gov report

M Gale

If you read my post...

...you'll see that I said the only thing wrong the electric vehicles is the batteries. I know they are bulky and limited, but fuel cells are vastly less so.

Still, not taking range into account, even with the bulk of a battery the electric motor puts out much better power:weight. You can see this on a small scale with the more recent RC aeroplanes out there. Sure, you can get a .40 methanol engine with an 8oz tank and it'll keep you flying at a sedate pace for maybe 15-20 minutes. Or you can put an electric motor in the same airframe and get 5 minutes of truly insane performance, even with that chunky 3-cell LiPo taking up weight. Think about it.. aircraft, especially little model aircraft, are somewhat sensitive to weight. In the last few years, brushless motors and lipo technology have made them not only the equal to methanol engines, but actually surpass them in power and responsiveness. Only disadvantage is.. as already mentioned.. the batteries, in this case taking an hour and a half to charge between 5 minute flights. Or maybe, for more ground-level endeavours, you can search youtube for the RC model car that, using a similar-sized motor and battery pack, gets over 140MPH. No, not a typo or "scale speed". One hundred and forty miles per hour. That little toy goes faster than some peoples' full sized sports cars!

Fuel cells will be the electric motor's saviour, and could transform personal transportation. There are already pipe networks travelling across many countries, and I'm sure some of them could be co-opted for hydrogen use. Even if not, building an infrastructure like that is an investment that should pay for itself once the government starts taxing the bejeesus out of electrolyzed water.

M Gale

Or discharged too deeply/too quickly.

Can you say "exothermic"?

I think the rule of thumb for most li* batteries is 1000 charge/discharge cycles. Much less if you're putting them under a high load. Either they need to get very cheap, or a hydrogen infrastructure needs to be built. As I mentioned above, electric vehicles can be incredibly high performance, but while battery tech has improved massively in the last few years it's still not going to get you 500 miles on one five-minute charge.

Fuel cells, however, can.

M Gale

The only thing shit about battery vehicles...

...is the range and refuelling arrangements. If performance is your main goal, an electric motor will give you far more power to weight than an equivalent internal combustion engine these days, with a much better response curve (as in, full torque all the way from 0 to 50,000 or more RPM).

Sort out hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure for them, and believe me you'll be loving that journey along the M40 right up until a traffic cop pulls you for doing 150mph in a 70mph zone. Smoother, quieter, and with comparatively more poke out of a power plant half the size of that chunk of metal you currently have under the bonnet? Yes please.


Google butterfingers slip jazz hands bug into Gmail

M Gale

When it hits non-beta...

...will it be opt-in or automatically enabled as a "cool new feature" that I have to hunt around deep in the options to be able to turn off, if I can turn it off?

OED goes the way of all flesh paper

M Gale

Only schools, libraries and serious bookworms buy the full OED anyway.

And I imagine they'll continue to do so, what with being schools, libraries and serious bookworms. I can't see the print edition disappearing any time soon.

Apple Magic Trackpad

M Gale

Suggested price £59?

It does look like a pretty device and I can see the point of having a laptop-style track pad on a busy desk. Apple seem to have broken with tradition and allowed a "secondary click" function as well it seems, so plus points for that.

But £59? £14.99 or £19.99 is the sort of range I'll pay for that type of functionality in that sort of size. I've seen larger-than-A4 graphics tablets from Tevion being sold for £25. Not a multi-touch track-pad maybe, but a pretty snappy way of using a GUI with the mouse and pressure-sensitive pen.

Of course, if it came with bundled fully-functional (ie: plug it into your MIDI network) Chaos Pad-style software, it could be a bargain.

Sony Oz mod chip dongle ban hearing delayed

M Gale

PS3 is a toy, not a tool...

...and Sony are determined to keep it that way. If you don't want to be treated like children and get your wrists slapped any time you use your own device in a way that Sony doesn't like, then buy a tool and not a toy.

Not to say that I agree with this. Just that maybe when the only people using Playstations are children, and Sony's market begins to resemble Sega and Nintendo's circa 20 years ago (ie: nowhere near as big and powered by pocket money), they'll STFU.

Retired joint chiefs chairman dons a Red Hat

M Gale

Additive mixing fail

Red and green make yellow.

Though I double dare you to call him that to his face.

VW to eliminate worst road hazard: drivers

M Gale

Probably because when software DOES foul up..

...as it inevitably will, it will do so in the most hare-brained manner possible. You've probably seen the video of the passenger jet that, on a test flight, promptly ploughed into trees on the end of the runway and killed the crew on board. Know why it happened?

Someone had told the autopilot that if the aircraft is below 100 feet, to engage landing mode. The pilot was performing a low pass, and must have just edged below that 100 foot value. Autopilot promptly took over and performed a perfect landing in the middle of a forest.

So yes, computers might be all well and good but you need a manual override for when that lightning speed idiot of a CPU decides to plough you head-first into an oncoming artic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1FKAIrb0fQ - note what the narrator says.

M Gale


"And by that stage, collision avoidance had better be advanced enough, because the super-fast cars will need some way to avoid the remainder of the population who's fallen back to using horses and fucking bulls to do their towing."

You're suggesting we'll be fucking bulls to do our towing?

PC World, Currys to offer cash for clunkers

M Gale

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

Not be locked by a password? When it's going to get recycled anyway?

Or by "recycled" do they mean "sold to a 3rd world country for £100"?

Hm. Wondering if I can bodge an old 4x CD ROM into an external IDE box with a parallel port cable. Those two PPC640s could definitely be usable.. with, erm, DOS and MSCDEX. Two 720kb DD floppy drives and no hard drive? Pfft. :>

M Gale

hm, I have a Spectrum +2 in the shed.

And I'm pretty sure I could whack a 486 together out of bits. That said the Speccy might end up worth more as an antique in a few years!

Maybe the two Amstrad PPC640s I have, along with a few other bits and bobs.. might get myself a netbook for nowt? :>

Once-prolific Pushdo botnet crippled

M Gale

Browsing in Chrome...

"You attempted to reach anubis.iseclab.org, but the server presented a certificate issued by an entity that is not trusted by your computer's operating system. This may mean that the server has generated its own security credentials, which Google Chrome cannot rely on for identity information, or an attacker may be trying to intercept your communications. You should not proceed, especially if you have never seen this warning before for this site."

Dell Streak GPL snub enrages Android fans

M Gale

There's an XKCD for everything.


Undead Commodore 64 comes back for Christmas

M Gale

In Mode 7?

Yeah, that would look awful.

And yellow.

Mine's the one with the BBC reference manual in the pocket.

Vodafone volte-face on Galaxy S

This post has been deleted by a moderator

PARIS gets doped up

M Gale

Because it's plastic, not paper?

I'm going to guess that while the release mechanisms and tracking hardware can get away with not being made from dead trees, the covering is a significant part of the aircraft itself.

Plus it does tend to shrink to rather drum-tight levels, yes. And require perhaps rather more heat than a paper straw would like.

PARIS acquires visual tracking capability

M Gale

See, I can have good ideas sometimes.

From the last installment:

"Last but not least, I hope you can get a couple of nice telescopes to film this thing through. That or let any commentards know where and when with enough notice that they can bring theirs. This is daftness on a scale of painting a Robin Reliant up as a radio-controlled space shuttle and sending it heavenward on the most powerful non-commercial rocket built in Europe. It'd be a shame to not have a video of the fun."

Thanks for listening. ;)

Apple eyes kill switch for jailbroken iPhones

M Gale

Think Different?

I tell you what, Jobs, how about you let me decide whether the phone has been stolen? How about by, say, providing a number to ring so I can get the IMEI locked out - LIKE EVERY OTHER PHONE IN THE UNIVERSE?

The worst part is, there's a hell of a lot of people who are either completely ignorant or downright apathetic about the consequences of these ever more ubiquitous computing devices being less and less under the control of their supposed "owners". The ignorant can at least be educated, but there's not much you can do about "I just don't give a shit" or worse, "I completely agree with Apple!"

Problem is, when the kill switches start being flipped, it's everyone else who gets caught up in it and not just the numpties. Well, enjoy your pretty brick. It was fun while it lasted.

Cops cuff armed white supremacist in banana costume

M Gale

And on a similar if less complex note...

..I've been fighting with Virgin Media lately because they seem to have completely ditched their subscription dialup service (a hangover from telewest/blueyonder days when it was called 'surfunlimited'). The 179 number exists and dials a POP, but username/password is refused and my VM webspace doesn't exist.

Oh, and they are still continuing to place a "subscription dialup" item on the bill, despite the service apparently not existing. According to the last-line engineer I spoke to, 179 doesn't exist either (uhm.. yes it does, try it from a cablephone). My account exists. My customer number exists, but for some reason the subscription dialup service has without any warning or reason that I know of, just completely disappeared and nobody at VM has a clue. He passed me back to some Indian customer services rep who wanted me to sign up to a whole new 12 month contract for broadband (plus a £35 installation charge) when I'm not going to be living here for the next 12 months and the household has been with Virgin ever since they were Telewest. I feel like finding the nearest VM offices and having a nice long shouting match with them but I've a feeling it'll be as much use as pissing into a hurricane.

Still, at least someone was brave enough to loan me a T Mobile 3G dongle, so I can still enjoy my Fridays.

M Gale

Friday already?

Paint me amused. I just hope some video shows up of the incidents.

Fear as motivator: why Intel acquired McAfee

M Gale

Just a quickie

"We also recently launched the Intel anti-theft technology, which will disable a computer if it's lost or stolen."

The smart thief knows that a computer is worth less on the black market than its component parts. Just like cars.. you can fit the best immobiliser in the world but it doesn't stop a professional from jacking it onto a pickup, taking it back to the workshop, ripping it apart and selling the bits.

PARIS pumps up a Mk 2 release mechanism

M Gale

How big a roll?

Bear in mind that the balloon won't go straight up. If you've ever played with or made your own sky lanterns, you'll know that the balloon could quickly find itself ten miles along the horizontal for every thousand feet of altitude, and that's before it gets to jetstream altitudes. Now think of how much a couple of hundred miles of wire will weigh and the probability of part of it snapping. Also, what's going to happen to a couple of hundred miles of released monofilament under the influence of gravity and wind?

Though the idea of holding a balloon and paper aeroplane on the end of a fantastically long fishing line like a perverse high-altitude kite does amuse.

M Gale

Here's a thought.

Do you even need the release mechanism to be inside the aircraft? That's a lot of weight saved if you were to, say, use an eye-hook or something on the back to pass a loop of thread through. Use some kind of double tubing to stop the string from tangling with itself as it goes down from the release mechanism, through the eye-hook and back up. On release, one end of the string is released/cut/burned through/whatever. You'd lose the release mechanism but have an aircraft that's a lot lighter.

Or alternately, attach a parachute and transponder to the release mechanism as well and have it find its own way down. Rubber Tubing Released Into Space doesn't have quite the same ring to it though.

M Gale

Dry ice

Last I heard it's not too pricey for a breeze-block-sized lump of the stuff. The problem is finding enough insulation that you still have enough dry ice left to cool the apparatus by the time it gets to the test chamber. Polystyrene foam would probably work.

M Gale

I know you've probably planned everything already but...

...coil the tube up into a spring shape for space savings? It'll still expand inside whatever drum or coiled tube you put it in. Also I'll second Parax; that PVC tube can probably have more than 50% of its mass drilled out and still retain enough shape and strength to function. That's if you don't decide to go posh and use a glass or carbon fibre tube (or old fishing rod).

If you want something super-light and you think you can form it around something (dowel and some grease paper possibly), model shops will sell a kit of thin glass fibre sheets and resin that's designed for constructing helicopter bodies and suchlike. It'd take a bit of work and sandpaper, but you would end up with a very lightweight fibreglass tube that can be as thin as its task allows. It probably wouldn't blow the budget either - I think I remember it being a tenner or so for about 4 1m/sq sheets plus bottles of thin adhesive/hardener.

Last but not least, I hope you can get a couple of nice telescopes to film this thing through. That or let any commentards know where and when with enough notice that they can bring theirs. This is daftness on a scale of painting a Robin Reliant up as a radio-controlled space shuttle and sending it heavenward on the most powerful non-commercial rocket built in Europe. It'd be a shame to not have a video of the fun.

M Gale

Re: Bush Mounting

With such a subject line I believe the traditional response is "hehehehehe".

Hairy badgers because, uhm..

M Gale

Re: A real boffin would have tapped his own rod.

You're saying that real boffins are wankers?

Nude trampolinist bounces free from court

M Gale

Re: And, prsy tell me Sheriff, are Scotsmen ...

I suppose that when they are on a trampoline then yes, they would.

Just picture it. A freeze frame, just after the apex of the bounce, on the way back down again as the whole thing billows upward in a Monroe-esque manner.

Now I bet you wish you hadn't.

Polaroid 300 instant print camera

M Gale

Far too expensive per print for casual use

I'm sure there's a niche but.. spending a crapload on a 10 or 15 sheet cartridge was always the showstopper for Polaroids. Improve that, and Polaroid will improve their sales. Still, at least the flash is reusable these days. No spending even more money to get a pack of cubes or a 10-flashbulb disposable strip.

This article also reminds me of this: http://photooftheday.hughcrawford.com/

A polaroid every day until the day he died? Wonder how much that cost?

Cutbacks strip speed cameras from Blighty's roads

M Gale

Re: License to speed

An astoundingly good idea. Think about it for a minute.

You could have two tests available for a normal and advanced driving license. Yes I know, there is already an "advanced driving license", however this one would be a little different. You would learn how the car handles at speed and how to correct and control skids.. but more importantly, you would be taught both where it is safe, and completely bloody unsafe to speed. You would be taught how individual cars behave, as a 3 series BMW is going to take a corner in an entirely different way to a 1.3l Mark 1 Fiesta. Insert various other tests that you can think of here (off road? Ice and snow?)

The point is, that anybody who has passed this test can then treat the national speed limit as being "as fast as your car can safely handle for the condition of the road". Maybe a few other perks for people who've gone through the bother and financial outlay of the lessons and tests required. Lower insurance premium perhaps? As for how police can tell whether someone has passed the advanced test or not.. well how do they tell if you've passed the normal test?

One lovely incentive to learn how to drive better, perhaps?

M Gale

Walking to school

Oh, the moment I got into high school I was quite happy to walk there. However, you'll find some parents not very eager to let their darling 8 year olds out of their sight even on the way to primary school, understandably enough.

Ask.com embraces its inner Jeeves

M Gale

But does he still prefer the term "Jovial"?

See title.

UK.gov pledges licence fee 'rethink' over heavy catch-up use

M Gale

I have no television.

And I'm one of those last hold-outs who still have a dialup modem screeching away every time I connect. The BBC can go swivel, frankly. I gave up television precisely because of the TV license, and I'll never, ever pay it nor buy a television set. It's just like any other addiction.

Best thing about this is? I don't miss it one bit. Give it a try. A few weeks later and you'll be wondering why you ever bothered with TV.

Now feel free to start with the downvotes.

Android's UK phone sales quadruple

M Gale


Where? I want one! A dragonphone. With built-in flamethrower for those annoying people in your life. Could even ride the thing to work. Seeya later, traffic jams!

Dragonphone would be awesome. And probably run Android. 9001 hours of talktime per virgin, too!

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