* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

5977 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Your emotionally absent pic-snapping partner's going to look you in the eye again

I ain't Spartacus
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Teal and Coral aren't real colours.

I'll accept black. But people in marketing have been getting away with making up new colours for years now. I'm not sure I can cope with more than about ten. Say the colours of felt tip pen I had as a kid, plus black and white...

I presume they've forgotten about the people who already wear glasses.

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Trident nuke subs are hackable, thunders Wikipedia-based report

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Re: Boom

In Soviet days it used to be 200 cities in the UK that were individually targeted. Doubt thats changed much.

No cities are supposed to be targetted. Assuming the Russians (and we) are sticking to our post Cold War agreements. That de-escalation was agreed with Yeltsin in the 90s. Along with the removal of tactical nuclear weapons from deployment into storage. This means that it takes an extra few minutes to launch, and supposedly gives more time to think - as well as reducing everyone's readiness state a little.

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Re: Boom

And that maintainance is only a contractual obligation. I'd be VERY surprised if the Navy didn't have people with the required skills available to do the work if needed.

According to Peter Hennessey's book on the RN submarine service since the Cold War (that I'm currently on the last chapter of) that wouldn't be so easy.

With Polaris we had a maintenance facility at Coulport. So we'd pull missiles from the joint pool held in the US, bring them over to the UK and maintain them for a while ourselves. Only sending them back for major refits - or more likely permanent replacement. Obviously that gave us stocks of spares and trained personnel.

The US offered to share the maintenance of Trident, which was accepted as it saved money. The reason for this appears to have been that Trident was newer, and so designed to need much less maintenance. Supposedly you could load a Trident missile into the sub, and leave it there in the silo for ten years, before it needed a total refit. Plus they're designed so that maintenance can be done on them in-silo. According to his RN sources, this meant we could carry on operations without US support for longer with Trident, even without maintenance facilities and spares stocks of our own. Which is where that 6 months to a couple of years figure comes from.

I'm sure we could reverse engineer physical parts, with sufficient applications of money. But the electronics would be much tougher. I'm also sure we've got maintenance experience, and several other solid rocket missile companies manufacture in the UK - so I suspect they could keep a diminishing number of missiles going for a while, by cannibalising the others for parts.

We also licensed MIRVs with Trident, rather than using our home-grown Chevaline. That has the star-trackers and countermeasures, but not as many, and though you get to hit more than one target with your warheads, I think they have to be reasonably close together. Given our satellite industry, I'd have thought MIRVs would be much easier and cheaper than they looked in the 70s.

We ought to be able to design a good-enough solid fuel missile in 5-10 years, given a crash program and lots of cash. I'm sure BAe would be delighted to help...

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Re: Single Point of Failure

Subs that don't float are unpopular with crew members.

Not for long though...

Wasn't it the USS (should that be CSS?) Hunley in the Civil War that sank 3 times. Killing 21 members of those 3 different crews. Only managed to get into one battle, won (just barely), but sank on the way back to port in water too deep to raise it. So no more Confederate crews had to suffer.

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Re: July Gold Boojum

NATO doctrine for most of the Cold War was to use nuclear weapons first, in certain circumstances. Mostly to wipe out large Soviet tank formations breaking through NATO lines. There was an awful lot of theorisiing about nuclear escalation paths, and the difference between tactical, theatre and strategic nuclear weapons. Not as much in reality as people hoped, I rather suspect...

Trident is accurate enough to use as a counter-force weapon. Though the UK hasn't ever held that nuclear posture, as it would have been too expensive. So our policy has always been limited but massive retaliatory strike as deterrent.

Where the enemy has liquid fuelled ICBMs (say North Korea), a first strike with your solid fuelled (quicker to launch) ones may be a possibility, if you're convinced they're about to fire.

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Re: Another Clueless Report, Eh?

Are you sure that he didn't mean there's been rapid improvement in AI written in BASIC?

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I thought Windows for Warships was based on Windows 2000, rather than XP?

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Re: The weakest point ... ?

Bligh also had an amazing record for keeping his sailors alive. I think both from illness/scurvy and accidents. Which was incredibly unusual at the time, where large numbers of your crew dying, was just considered part of the job. You could always get more...

On the other hand you have to shout at people even on well run sites nowadays to get them to comply with health and safety designed to keep them from gettting injured. And that was an era of pretty horriible discipline. So I'd imagine his crew probably didn't love him all that much for it, given the amount of floggings it probably took to achieve it.

As I understand it Fletcher Christian's family were quite well-off and influential, so they got the propoganda going about Bligh at the time. As obviously there was his future court-martial to consider.

As someone's already said, his navigation with incredibly basic tools to find a tiny Pacific island in a very big Pacific Ocean, in a ridiculously small boat, was truly amazing.

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Re: Boom

The submarines use GPS to work out where they are. Or more accurately to calibrate their inertial navigation gear, as they only get GPS data when at periscope depth with an antenna up.

The warheads themselves use a star-tracker to get their position, so don't need GPS.

So you're incorrect. It's an independent deterrent until the US refuse to cooperate on maintenance. At which point the missiles have a ten year rated lifespan, and we usually have 2 or 3 boats loaded at any one time. So we could probably maintain a credible reduced deterrent for 6 months to a couple of years.

So not enough to get a replacement solution in place, but long enough that the US can't cut us off at the knees halfway through a crisis.

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NASA Sun probe named for solar wind boffin Eugene Parker

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Re: 1300c + continuously.

Why can't NASA launch another probe that has a built in swimming pool? Then the poor hot sun probe can go in for a dip, when its feeling a bit warm. Plus any passing astronauts can use it to get some exercise, instead of boring running on treadmills...

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Re: Sun Probe

It seems to have been one of the Thunderbirds favourite special effects. Getting them to sweat. They were always getting trapped somewhere very hot, and either being about to run out of air, cook, or both - counting down the time until being rescued at the last second.

Well that's when they weren't saving nuclear powered airliners from various fates.

I used to love the Thunderbirds. My favourite episode though is where Parker picks the lock of the vault of the Bank of England with one of Lady Penelope's hairpins.

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Pentagon trumpets successful mock-ICBM interception test

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Re: Now go to the Moon

The Russians had a somewhat effective ABM defence around Moscow deployed in the 1970s.

The Americans looked at nuclear-tipped Surface to Air missiles in the 1960s, designed to shoot down incoming ICBMs. They didn't ever deploy them, and I don't know if that was because they were planning to put them in Canada (and the Canadians objected), or if they just didn't work.

But technology has improved massively since then. The Israeli Iron Dome can shoot down mortar shells in flight, which is something that would have been considered impossible thirty years ago. As well as small homemade rockets, and the bigger military ones that Iran give to Hizbollah and Hamas.

Patriot could shoot down Scuds in the 90s, though not to much effect in defending cities. The standard US fleet SAM, the SM3 can shoot down satellites - I presume only the low-flying ones. And is designed for intercepting missiles, but slower ones than incoming ICBMs of course. But it's good at shooting ones on the way up, which is why Japan and the US deploy them off North Korea.

The joint British/French/Italian Aster missiles seem to have similar capabilities to the SM3, which are the ones deployed on our new Type 45 destroyers. Though they're newer and still developing capabilities, so less well proven.

We almost certainly now have the capability to intercept incoming warheads, as we've got good enough radars and communications as well as fast enough computers. Not that it'll ever be easy. But we still don't have the capability to deploy a shield that could deal with the thousands of warheads Russia has. Or even the smaller numbers the UK, France and China have. But those countries have all got small enough warheads that you can have several per missile, and MIRVs, plus decoys. So you could only shoot down some of them.

However North Korea is still making huge warheads, probably in the order of ten tonnes a piece. You can't even drop that from a normal sized bomber. Let alone get even one on a missile. Once they get them down to one-per-missile size, it's probably decades before they could work their way up to MIRVs. So for now they're probably making a handful of warheads a year, that need to go by sea or by truck to their target. So you're only looking at the capability to shoot down a few missiles, which makes it worth trying to do.

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Re: Just for the record ...

The Iraqi chemical weapons program was native. Organophosphates and mustard gas really aren't that hard to make. As I remember it from the UN reports a lot of the kit was actually German, but as you're basically making insecticide it's all dual-use stuff. And Iraq was only under weapons sales sanctions in the 1980s.

As it happens Iraq's sarin production was pretty poor anyway, so they had to rely on mustard a lot more, as that's even easier to make and store. A lot of the chemicals the UN destroyed in the 90s was contaminated, and they struggled to get munitions to deliver it well. Unfortunately for the Iranians, they had a tendency to send their troops into combat badly trained, and even more badly equipped. So they still suffered mass casualties.

As it happens, the US didn't sell much military equipment to Iraq at all. They bought that from The Soviet Union, China and France. That's why they used Russian artillery, Russian tanks, Russian and Chinese personal weapons, Russian helicopters, Russian missiles, Russian radars and a mix of French and Russian combat aircraft. Apparently Britain sold them non-lethal military kit, as for example I believe we sold them all our desert camouflage clothing, on the assumption the British army wouldn't be fighting outside Europe very much. Oops.

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I think that upsetting China is deliberate.

There's already an arms race in the region, because China has been on a huge military build-up for the last ten years. They're trying to create a genuine blue-water navy, though that's still years away, as they've been going quite slowly on the aircraft carrier development. But they have built a pretty huge amphibious capacity. For a country that's not got a blue-water navy, or much history of overseas deployment, that's basically a sword aimed directly at Taiwan. They're also massively militarising the South China Sea in competition with every other nation there (and much closer) for the oil resources.

I think that the US policy is to upset China enough to get them to reign in North Korea (which everyone believes China has some power to do), without upsetting them so much as to get them really pissed off. The Chinese have got to understand that the US, South Korea and Japan have legitimate concerns about North Korea, but they've been unwilling to do much about if of late. That does seem to have been changing in the last couple of years though.

Because the other bit that you missed out is the consequences of allowing North Korea to have a fully capable ICBM force. At present Japan and South Korea both operate civilian nuclear programs, and have advanced industry, but both are happy to shelter under the US nuclear umbrella. That may change. Trump can't look any more reliable to them as an ally than he does to Europe. They've been happy to accept China's nuclear forces, because China has kept them limited and acted mostly predictably. They may not choose to accept North Korea having that power over them. China would definitely not be happy with a nuclear armed Japan - and might wish to increase its nuclear resources.

So as you can see, doing nothing may be just as bad as doing something. Hence the complicated diplomatic fun-and-games.

This is the same situation with allowing Iran to get nuclear capability. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are quite unlikely to be happy about that. The Saudis have lots of cash, and can almost certainly get access to Pakistan's nuclear program. After all, Pakistan have already sold nuclear info to Libya, North Korea, Iraq, Syria and possibly others.

As I understand it, Pakistan got their nuclear helping hand from China, to help counterbalance India. And then promptly sold it to North Korea for help with missiles. As you say, arms-races are bad.

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Re: Next steps...

You could of course just surface one of your submarines in New York/San Francisco harbour and set the nuke off. Bit hard on the crew, admittedly.

But any delivery mechanism where you have to drive/sail the thing to its target creates many problems and uncertainties. Especially when you're a rogue state, that doesn't have normal access to global shipping routes, and so who's stuff is at high risk of getting inspected/found.

Plus you've got massive command and control problems. Once the warhead leaves its borders, the regime essentially has lost direct control of it. And paranoid family dictatorships aren't known for their high trust in subordinates.

Plus, where would they keep the thing in the meantime?

The North Korean airforce aren't expecting their planes to survive long enough to deliver these nukes, and I suspect the navy fare little better. So ICBMs are the most reliable means to work on. And North Korea has had a decent missile program for a while - it was missile tech that the Norks swapped with Pakistan to get their nuclear tech after all. So it's a natural fit. Plus it's also the scariest option, as well as making the regime look more poweful inside its borders. And propoganda is at least as important as reality, to a regime that only survives on fear and brainwashing.

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Re: Just for the record ...

The USS Vincennes, or at least part of its task group, was under attack from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy at the time of the missile strike on the airliner. Not that they handled the incident well, as they completely fucked up at all levels. But Iran don't get to play the innocent victim, given they were attacking a foreign navy's ships in international waters at the time - which meant that navy had every reason to also expect an incoming air attack.

A bit like Ukraine were criticised for continuing to allow an open air transport corridor over a battlespace where combat was happening involving SAMs (admittedly as far as Ukraine knew only low altitiude ones) - Iran perhaps shouldn't have been flying civilian airliners over areas where it was also attacking ships armed with surface to air missiles, and worried about air attack.

To be fair to Iran, I don't recall their airforce ever got involved in attacking neutral shipping in the Gulf. So it was quite possibly a bit of freelancing by the Revolutionary Guards, who're a law unto themselves, so quite hard to plan for, even for Iran. But what we have here is a fuck-up.

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It was heading for Florida, not the White House. Although I guess it could have been going for Mar-a-Lago.

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This isn't boost phase. I think it's coast phase. So hitting the warhead in space. Boost phase is covered by ship-based SM3s. Plus I guess the airborne laser, but didn't they kill that program? And supposedly some electronic warfare as well - which it's alleged may already have been used to bugger-up some Nork tests.

THAAD then deals with the incoming warheads near the target.

I guess the hope being that if you have enough programs, some of them might work, and hopefully the ones you miss are the ones that don't work - given North Korea's production and quality control issues.

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Re: Next steps...

Shipping containers aren't a very reliable method. And take lots of advanced prep. So they're a good covert first-strike option, but of limited use as a second strike deterrent.

Particularly as North Korea isn't plugged into the global shipping network, and their ships get monitored, as they're often carrying weapons to places people might not want weapons sold to. So they might have to ship their container via land through China, which might annoy the Chinese government somewhat...

At times of high tension, that threat massively diminishes, as none of North Korea's ships are going to be going anywhere un-watched.

You could of course pre-position one in a third country, but that requires giving a lot of control of a precious national resource (a warhead) to an independent group you can no longer shoot. And has a high risk of getting discovered.

Whereas a working ICBM on a train or truck that can be hidden gives second strike capability, even if the regime has been destroyed.

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This is a mid-course interceptor. It's to hit the warhead in space, in mid-flight. I'd assume while it's coasting. They planned to put a site in Eastern Europe to counter Iran's missile program, but didn't in the end. Partly because the Russians cut up rough, but I suspect mostly because it wasn't working yet.

MIRVs are really hard, and North Korea are still struggling to shrink their warhead down to one per rocket size, as well as getting the rockets to work reliably. So I doubt they're worrying about them yet - it took the UK billions, and nearly a decade, to get Cheveline in the 70s, which is similar but cheaper tech to get multiple warheads through ABM defences but isn't fully independently targetable.

Current US strategy on missile defence is multi-layered. Obviously it's all still in various stages of development, so I doubt anyone really knows what will work, or how well.

So you've got THAAD which is already deployed in Alaska I think, and is being deployed in South Korea as we speak. That's the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System - aimed at hitting the incoming warhead/MIRV on final approach to the target. They're the last line of defence.

They've then got the early shot, which is the SM3. That's a naval SAM, carried by the US Arleigh Burke destroyers and their AEGIS cruisers. Japan also use them. And they're capable of hitting satellites, and missiles in flight. The US have a deal with Japan where there are always a couple of ships in the Sea of Japan to try and shoot down incoming missiles at an early stage, where they're obviously most vulnerable, as they're going slowly and can't manoeuvre. Japan obviously also maintain patrols to do this.

There are also apparently various electronic means of getting at rockets in the early stage of flight, and rumours the US have been actually using them to bugger up North Korean tests. I've no idea how much of that is true, wishful thinking or even possible.

Then you've got these mid-course ones.

There's also someting I can't remember the name of but is basically a land based AEGIS system. It's cheaper, and already proven to work using SM3 - but obviously not on a ship. And the US are talking about putting one of these bases in Romania, to replace the mid-course missiles that would have gone to Poland. But that was to counter the Iranian threat, which is much reduced, as a nice nuclear deal has been signed. It also annoys the Russians on principle, so may or may not happen. But would seem to make sense in South Korea.

However putting that near China might really annoy them, given they've already complained about THAAD - even though that's aimed at blocking warheads, and not Chinese missiles in flight.

Russia has many missiles, so shouldn't be too worried about ABM weapson taking out a small percentage. But China only operates a few hundred warheads, as it has a similar limited nuclear posture to the UK and France. We aren't aiming for global destruction, just to take out your top 10-30 cities.

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Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

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Re: Missing essentials?

Leaf tea is for when you make tea properly, in a pot. But most people choose not to equip themselves with a tea pot, tea cosy and strainer sadly.

Admittedly quite a few of my friends now own teapots, for some reason. But I've never persuaded any of them to the full enlightened postion of owning strainers and using proper tea. Perhaps they're all just anarchists? Who think that proper tea is theft...

Ahem!

[shuffles away embarrassed - though probably not as embarrassed as I ought to be]

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Re: Missing essentials?

I don't want a wind-up gramaphone, but why the hell isn't there a mobile phone that'll make my tea for me?

There's surely enough juice in the battery to boil a mug of water, I'm sure room could be found for a re-fillable tea compartment - and if not you could just have a teabag-holder in the case.

I take mine black, so the problem of milk doesn't concern me.

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The funny thing is, there's tons of room for innovation in the Android handset market. Not that this is it, obviously.

There's clearly still a large market for physical keyboards, a la Blackberry. But not served. Surely that's something that could use a clip-on technology - rather than a pointless sticky-out-camera-thingy.

Next there's a desperate need for someone to design a phone that doesn't need a case. I've never seen a phone case that didn't make it harder to use, and the kinds of phones that are designed to be used on building sites are usually not very nice. So what about a happy medium? Some protection from water and some protection for the bloody screen! Or just an easily replaceable, sacrificial surface layer.

The essential problem with the smarphone is the screen. They're still bloody hard to read in daylight, consume most of the power, make text input horrible and are massively fragile. And yet the whole industry seems to just ignore these problems and keep iterating the same bloody design, as if it's the best they can do. Well I guess it is the best they can do, and that's why only two of the companies actually make any profits.

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At $600 that's a funny definition of "essential'...

For that money I can get a decent phone, a case, a tablet and still have change for a nice curry.

I find it bizarre that the price of top end smartphones has actually gone up, since they stopped improving rapidly 4-5 years ago. Completely at odds with how other tech goes.

I admit my £120 Microsoft Lumia 735 is totally rubbish for apps. If you need those, I'd spend up to double that to get a decent Android. I never got on with the iPhone, even though I like my iPad a lot. But I understand paying the Apple tax, if that's the ecosystem that suits you. But with Android you have a choice.

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India sets June 5 as the day it will join the heavy-lift rocket club

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Re: I'm impressed that we have 64 and 70 ton low earth orbit payload capability coming.

$160m for nearly 70 tonnes isn't too bad when the normal Falcon is supposedly about $60m to get 22 tonnes up. It's basically a slight volume discount.

Both those figures are also going to drop if/when SpaceX can get their recycled rockets working regularly.

Obviously though the best way to get decent tonnage into LEO is Project Orion. Admittedly the launch costs are going to be very large indeed, and you're going to struggle to find anywhere willing to let you use them as a launch site. Well I say that, but in reality someone in posession of a few hundred small nuclear devices shouldn't have trouble persuading people to do pretty much anything they tell them to...

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Sysadmin finds insecure printer, remotely prints 'Fix Me!' notice

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Re: Biggest surprise to me...

We got a new printer yesterday. Small office, small network. So last thing I set it up and it worked. Then I went home for some well-earned dinner.

This morning, it didn't work. But weirdly, though my PC couldn't see it, it could see my PC and so I could scan direct to my pooter.

So I then fixed it, and got the printer working again. Now I can print to it, but it can't see my PC to scan to it. I guess this is like the uncertainty principle. My PC can either know where the printer is, or the printer my PC, but not both - or the universe explodes...

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El Reg straps on the Huawei Watch 2

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Re: Does it do WiFi and tethering?

Given what WiFi hotspot does to my phone's battery, I can't see a watch being any use in that respect.

Not until it can leach power from the nanites in your bloodstream, which are hijacking the excess calories from the food you eat. At which point you won't need a fitness tracker anyway, as you can eat what you want without gaining weight. Until the programming bugs mean you are no longer able to absorb any calories at all, and so you starve to death...

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Attempt at building kinder, gentler Reddit downvoted off the Web

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You're right. They should have called it fluffi, or maybe cuddli?

Obviously the other thing you need in order to get web success is an inability to spell. Well to be fair it's a word deliberately spelled badly so you can trademark it - but I don't see why I should let sense get in the way of a good rant.

Anyway, I should stop reading this thread, as it's giving me an overwhelming urge to reply to everyone with gratuitous and childish insults, just to dispell this myth that El Reg is a civilised place...

Bum!

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Orbital boffins cut four years off NASA mission to shiniest object in the Solar System

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Re: 2024!!

Ah, but can you actually eat food that's designed to last that long?

I rememeber reading a few years ago that the US Department of Defense were dead chuffed with themselves for creating the MRE pizza. Yup that's a heat-in-the-bag pizza with a 3 year shelf-life. Yum!

I guess it's a bit like after your plane's crashed in a remote location. And you've run out of other passengers to eat and are forced to [the horror, the horror] eat the airline "food".

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.Science and .study: Domains of the bookish? More like domains of the JERKS!

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Re: Block all email from vanity TLD's

I used my first one last week. A new customer has a .plumbing domain. I work in the building services trade - though was a bit surprised as we're at the commercial end of things, and I'd have thought that TLD was more aimed at the bloke after a tradesmen to fix his boiler market.

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Could ICANN just do it properly, admit they're all about the money, and set up the following:

.scam

.phishing

.junkmail

.fakenews

That should make everyone's lives easier, and of course increase their bonus pot - which is far more important.

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Huawei Honor 8 Pro: Makes iPhone 7 Plus look a bit crap

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Re: Not sure why people moan about Androids interface...

Who can be arsed to change it? How many different launchers would you have to try before finding the one that's stable and decently useable? How long would you waste? I can remember wasting an hour on the Android store just to get an app that actually worked to copy texts from one phone to another (the first three didn't actually work as advertised) - and I just can't be arsed.

For me at least, a phone is a very important tool for both work and personal life. And so I want one that works properly out of the box, doesn't need hours of tinkering, and in an ideal world can be set up and fully operational in an hour or two.

Other peoples' mileage may vary of course.

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Has AI gone too far? DeepTingle turns El Reg news into terrible erotica

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Devil

Dinosaur? More like Dino-Phwoar!

With apologies to Sir Phillip Flip-Top-Bin...

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

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I'm pretty sure he was a dead issue in the US as so much time had passed with not much happening. But then he started overtly interfering in the elections - he didn't just dump the Clinton emails on Wikileaks, he kept releasing new bunches at inconvenient times throughout the campaign - to make sure it got maximum and continuous coverage.

Of course it may be that he thought Clinton had a grudge against him. Or that the US are out to get him and so Trump might be grateful and save him. However Trump has the attention span of a gnat, doesn't appear to reward loyalty for very long and is totally self-obsessed. So nailing Assange might look to him to be a way of "proving" that it wasn't Russian influence that won him the election after all.

The only reason I don't automatically assume Assange is a rapist avoding his just deserts is that I think he might be genuinely paranoid enough to believe all the bollocks he spouts about the US being out to get him. Even though he was talking about becoming a Swedish citizen, and only fled their supposedly US corrupted system after the rape charges were about to be made. The very night before his appointment with the prosecutors in fact.

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Re: Sweden

Error 8008!

This device has performed an illegal operation.

Please reboot and re-insert floppy.

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Re: Actions == consequences

I don't believe the Aussies get a veto on where we send him to, if and when we eventually deport him somewhere. He's subject to UK law, as he's in the UK and came here legally and of his own choice. The usual procedure would be that we'd bung him back to Oz, because that's whose passport he came here on - although he could presumably be deported to Ecuador if they gave him citizenship (so far he only has asylum).

It is correct that the EAW gives our courts a veto on what Sweden can do with him though. They're not allowed to exradite to a third country without our permission.

As it happens the Swedish extradition treaties with the US are far tougher than ours, which was a pile of shit written by Blair's lot in a fit of stupidity, and sadly not yet repealed. In my opinion no extradition treaty should be in place that doesn't allow the Home Secretary a public interest veto over extradition, which neither the US or EAW do - hence I'd personally like to get rid of both, and replace them with the normal kind of extradition treaties that most other countries use, and that we use with everyone but the US and EU.

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The brave British boat men hoping to poke Larry Ellison's lads in the eye

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Re: Can't..

I think a better trick is to send the yacht as usual, and station a nice quiet submarine in the race area to subtly slow the other boats down. You only need torpedo them if it's obvious they're going to win.

The only problem is if the Americans have the same idea and our two subs crash into each other.

As an additional advantage, submarines have sails.

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Jimbo announces Team Wikipedia: 'Global News Police'

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Re: Other fact checkers exist already

Radio 4's More of Less is superb. It's a shame that BBC telly current affairs can't/won't do stuff like that.

If handled right, news doesn't need to be boring, depressing or without humour. I remember when Radio 5 started Vincent Hanna (of Blackadder the Third election fame) had a 2 hour show late in the evening. He covered news, but a lot of his show was done as long form interviews/discussions with people. Not the kind of Humphreys and Paxman showing off bollocks, but proper interviews where you allow the politicians the time and space to express themselves properly, before questioning them. From which you actually really learn about them and their beliefs and policies. I learnt a lot about Northern Irish politics from him. And there was always time for a bit of humour. As well as time to reflect and be a lot less partisan.

Andrew Neil's 'This Week' sometimes manages it, but mostly the show tries to do too much in too short a time, and too often becomes partisan - rather than taking a step back. You often need ex-politicians around to help with this - as they don't feel forced to resort to the approved soundbites - and also won't get jumped on by the press for any slip - which can be quoted wildly out of context.

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We know what you're thinking: Where the hell is all the antimatter?

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Happy

Re: The little man who wasn't there

Method:

1. For this experiment, we first manufactured a 1/2 lightyear cube of lead.

2. Then we sat and had a cup of tea, while waiting for some neutrinos to come along.

3. ...

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Re: Mexit, of course

It's nothting to do with physics at all.

All the anitmatter in the universe got used up making Antipopes.

Wikipedia (I know, I know, but I'm too lazy to do the research properly) lists 41 of them over the years.

Since we've not had an antipope since the 16th Century and we can't see any antimatter (except that we create ourselves), this proves that there's none left. QED.

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Goodbye, cruel world! NASA's Cassini preps for kamikaze Saturn dive

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Happy

Re: "Goodbye"?

"What's this thing rushing up towards me. So big, and flat and round it needs a sort of wide sounding name, like ow, row, grou, Ground. That's it! Ground! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"

Or possibly it'll just be thinking, "Oh no, not again."

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

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Re: For Queen, Country and St George!

Almost there ... no deal means the EU countries get you banking sector, your manufacturing sector that uses parts from the EU ... like Airbus, Ford, Vauxhaul, Honda ...thanks, close the door as you leave.

So, no deal is indeed better than a bad deal, but certainly NOT for the UK.

Hans 1,

Now who's being delusional...

Is the Eurozone in a position to survive another recession? And how will all the City jobs move to Frankfurt when there are more people working in Finance in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt? Some London jobs will move to New York if things go particularly pear-shaped, which the EU has even less chance of controlling. And if madness does defeat common sense and our supposed NATO allies gleefully destroy our economy, how will our government justify staying in NATO?

A deal may not happen, because it's very complicated and there's a very short timescale. And there are all sorts of very childish people jeering from the sidelines about "punishment". But a messy break-up with no deal will not be good for either party. And both sides will suffer for it. The EU is not exactly in the strongest of positions at the moment, which is admittedly one reason why some would like to see the UK do horribly badly outside - but that only works at defeating dissent if the EU (i.e. the Eurozone) can survive the fallout of creating that crisis. Italy's economy is smaller than it was when it joined the Euro 20 years ago, it has debt to GDP of 140% and could only muster €20bn in a fund to sort out its banks. Most of that is going to disappear into just bailing out Monte dei Paschi and Unicredit is currently trying to raise another €13bn without help. Not to mention the clusterfuck that is Greece.

If you read the draft negotiation document from Tusk and compare it to what May is saying, you'll see that there are an awful lot of areas or agreement there. On at least one subject I noticed that May and Tusk have used identical wording - which I very much doubt is a coincidence. So there's plenty of scope for things to go wrong, but there's easily the basis of a mutually beneficial agreement - if the will exists.

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Re: walk into a negotiation ...

Well, you try to maintain goodwill before you walk into the negotiations or you can make a lot of angry noises. Just be aware that the politicians on the other side also have to win elections and that their local Boulevard papers will match all belligerent statements word for word.

This works both ways. There's far too many people on this side of the Channel having a go at May, who's broadly said as little as possible. It was the Commission that bunged the €60 billion ludicrous-grenade into the press, not May. Merkel and Hollande have both shot their mouths off about making sure they're "tough" (Hollande will be out of office before anything's even started) - and that's why May has tried to say the less said the better. Of course she's got her own unruly backbenchers (and some front-benchers) too - plus the very level-headed (and not at all hysterical) British press...

But the biggest issue so far has been that €60bn. Which may not even be a bill. After all, we're leaving in 2019 already - most of it is committments as part of the 2014-2020 budget - so we only have to sign an transitional membership period of 1 year, and all but a few billions of that exit bill disappear.

I'd say one reason May has made the point about walking away is that I don't think her government could surive paying €60 upfront in order to leave. And who would be the next government were that to happen? Which is why the loud talk from Brussels about no deal before the money is agreed is not what it says in the draft negotiation agreement published by Donald Tusk. Because I don't see May being able to agree that huge a payout with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. So if the EU play the tough-guy they'll be the ones that nuke the negotiations. Which would be bad for everybody.

Who knows what Spain want. It could just be that they will only give up on Gibraltar if we give them continuing access to our very valuable fishing grounds. After all they did a lot of vetoing EEC agreements after they'd first joined in order to get the fishing access they wanted. Or it could be they want to knacker Gibraltar's financial services - as if their own tax evaders won't suddenly find somewhere else to park the cash.

Or they may try to push for negotiations on joint sovereignty. Which would be bloody stupid. Gibraltar voted to remain, all they needed to do was wait a few years, and maybe that might started to look attractive. If they try the blackmail approach, they don't exactly make themselves look like an inviting partner. A bit like with Argentina and the Falklands. A few years of being nice and constructive, might actually win some local support. It's only 5-10 years since Spain were last blocking the border, and making people wait 2-4 hours to cross.

What would be nice is if everybody calmed down, got a sense of proportion and waited to see what happened - rather than making shit up.

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Disney plotting 15 more years of Star Wars

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Re: Oh No

Star Wars has managed 4 decent films. Are you sure Star Trek has even managed that?

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Boeing details 'Deep Space Gateway' for Mars mission staging

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Happy

Would it be cheaper to just pile up loads of money outside Boeing HQ, until you can just walk to the Moon?

Mars is a bit more difficult. But surely once you've got to the Moon, you just burn a few more dollars that you've carried up there to fuel your rocket?

Dollar-fired steam powered rockets to Mars. Why not?

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Re: More USS Gravy Train than USS Enterprise

If the goal is a permanent foothold in space - i.e., colonization - then robots have yet to equal humanity at making babies. ;)

Haven't El Reg recently been advertising a seminar on this very subject?

Humans in space can clean the dust off the solar panels, and change the broken wheels, thus making science experiments work that might otherwise not. Of course they can't hang around as long (but do work quicker) and are much heavier (needing boring stuff like oxygen and food).

Humans can also do things like fixing the Hubble telescope (that robots can't) - and the only commercially viable thing I can currently see working in space is maintenance of our huge fleet of satellites. I'd have thought we're getting to the point where that's technologically and financially feasible, just about. Assuming something lilke the Bigelow habitat can get human-rating.

In general if you're unsure exactly what task you'll be carrying out, then you're likely to need humans to improvise. But robots are always going to be cheaper and safer - and capable of longer endurance.

Another thing you need humans for (sadly) is to get on the news. Robots don't make front page news in the way people do. And as they said in 'The Right Stuff', "it's funding that makes these birds go up. No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

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Devil

Or there's no court jurisdiction in orbit - so nobody can impeach you.

Plus the low stress on your heart means you could live until you're 150 (so long as you don't come back to Earth). Oh and the zero gravity sex is going to be amazing.

Come to our space hotels for Zero-Bumpy Trumpy-Wumpy Rumpy-Pumpy!

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Lee D,

Distance isn't all that important - at least when you're talking about the inner solar system. It's just a matter of how much weight of fuel you're willing to boost out of earth's atmosphere - and how much time you're willing to coast during your journey.

Long term presence in space is either going to mean a massively more efficient way of getting to orbit - or mining in space (asteroids or lunar surface I guess). Launching modules/ships isn't so much the problem as constantly launching consumables - but if you're in space and mine water/methane (plus solar power which is free) - then you have breathable air, rocket fuel, drinking water, stuff to grow plants etc.

The big problem is radiation. This is why we haven't ventured out of the Earth's magnetic shield, except for the few Apollo trips to the moon. And they were only gone for a few days at a time. Had a solar flare happened in those brief time periods - they'd have probably got lethal doses - if not immediately fatal.

Short of some miracle invention that gets our arses to Mars in a couple of days - radiation shielding is far more important than drive technology at this point. If there really is easily accessible water at the Moon's south pole, that would also be dead useful, but sadly I'm not sure anyone's seriously looking at that resource at the moment.

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Assange™ keeps his couch as Ecuador's president wins election

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Re: Immunity

It would have been hard to transfer him to another emabassy. South American countries generally recognise the convention of diplomatic asylum. However this isn't part of the Vienna Conventions, which are the global 'rules' covering diplomats and embassies - so it's something that only applies if both governments agree. And our government don't, along with most others.

In South America it's common practise for the outgoing government during a coup to hole up in various embassies, then (often delicate) negotiations over the next few months get them out of the country and into exile. Obviously you might really want to kill the ex el Presidente when you've just taken over, as that should make your new regime more secure. But, on the other hand, some ambitious colonel might soon be pitching you out on your ear, so having a way to get out suddenly looks a lot more attractive.

Hence in South America, Assange would have sat in the Ecuadorian embassy for a few months, and a deal would probably have been quietly done to get him to Ecuador. In this country the government can't do that, as there's a court order to send him to Sweden.

On a side note, if he stays there much longer, he might get his own clause in the Brexit deal. If we don't stay in the European Arrest Warrant system, then I don't know if the outstanding warrant would still apply (as the law was valid when it was issued), or if Sweden would have to apply for extradition. So there's something for him to look forward to...

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UK.gov confirms it won't be buying V-22 Ospreys for new aircraft carriers

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Re: . . . from Rosyth, where she was assembled . . .

Those "Lego blocks" were built in other UK shipyards.

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