* Posts by lawndart

427 posts • joined 16 Dec 2009


US Navy invents 'Zero-Power Autonomous' ocean probe



If you fit some control fins, a bacteria-generated-hydrogen burning engine and a prop to the podule then get DARPA to teach the bacteria to drive...

Boffins brew up formula for consummate cuppa


</mug love>

Ouch ouch ouch.

Fifteen quid? FIFTEEN?

No sale. It isn't the same design anyway, logo too small.

Fifteen quid?



Want el Reg mug. Want NOW.

Marketing opportunity. You know you want to.

Microsoft warns on support scams


What do you mean, not called you?

I get called far, far too often; frequently two in the evening, for at least the last eighteen months.

I have tried blowing whistles, slamming big books shut, boiling the kettle and generally giving them a hard time but they still keep ringing.

I have "used" various different OS in this time, just to keep them on their toes, up to and including confusing a Sinclair programmable calculator with a computer (yes, it still works although the 9v battery cover has long since gone walkabout).

Regardless of the name they give me, if they sound Indian I call them Rani to wind them up.

I have a test rig for fixing computers and this is nomally booted from CD for whichever OS I need and has an empty hard drive. One day I may let one of the callers amok on it and see how much fun I can have as they dig about in a sandbox.

Student geeks build Rubik’s cube solving bot




Verity Stob and the super subjunction


Hang on

Is gerund a verb, now?

Boffins tail bees with tiny radio tags


Does anyone know

Does anyone know where Sarah has got to, exactly?

Yanks officially recognise the word 'boffin'



Well done El Reg.

Nice to see the Boffin definition is Registorial and not the derogatory Sun "idiot engaged in useless (because we can't see an immediate use for it) science" version.

I'm surprised the Merkins didn't pick up on Merkin though.

Brit expats aghast as Denmark bans Marmite



But it would have been EVEN BETTER with Marmite.

ESA: British Skylon spaceplane seems perfectly possible



@ Marketing Hack

Can we help it if some Merkin takes a perfectly good British word and applies a negative connotation to it? I suppose we should be used to playing the bad guys.

@ Anntoin

Forget Elite, try the Orbiter space sim: http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/

You can even download Skylon for it and try it out. Then use it to construct space stations...

Out of this World science fiction exhibition



A big thumbs up for the Keith Roberts mention. One of my favourite writers. I think Molly Zero is possibly the most sensual book I have ever read, and not one the reader will quickly forget.

If only he had a bigger portfolio...

US admiral reveals safety plan for Zombie Apocalypse


re: Roger Varley

Of course it's slated for a Saturday - that's the Sabbath.

If you're Jewish...

Apple seeks patent for keyboard that sucks



Day 1: New keyboard goes on sale.

Day 2: Tech-head disassembles keyboard, uprates the air compressor and fits a petrol engine - reveals a keyboard that can double as a self stabilizing hover-board when inverted.

Day 3: Massed rush to duplicate the hover-keyboard.

Day 4: First person arrives at work on hover-keyboard.

Day 5: First competition hover-keyboard typing contest where the contestants type documents by manoeuvring over a small bump in an otherwise flat surface.

Day 6: First death by hover-keyboard when rider flips in traffic.

Day 7: Government knee-jerk overreaction bans all keyboards of any ilk to protect the children.

Day 8: Unable to function because of the inability to use computers, society collapses.

It'll all end in tears.

US Navy produces smart, cheap 6kg fire+forget missile



Another risk - that they'll put the missile down somewhere and never be able to find it again.

Home Office appoints Brokenshire as security minister



Don't upset the man. He knows where you live and is probably deeply sniffing your packets as I type.

ACS:Law fined for data breach


The Biter Bit

Fair's fair. Just set the fine at the national debt.

It's a pity we have done away with debtors' prisons. I would love to see film of him winding the screw machine all day. I would probably download a copy via peer-to-peer.

Oz boffins in quantum computing breakthrough



I also went with Not Safe For Most People at first, before settling on No Sparticles For Miss Paris, which sounds like it could be a "Flowers For Algernon" style short story.

Vote now for the best sci-fi film never made


And now, Lester, we need:

The best SF short stories to be made into an episode in a series of half-hour TV programmes (Varley's "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" has already been done).

The best High Fantasy novels never filmed.

I must admit, my mouse hovered over Mote for an interminably long time before suddenly clicking on Titan.




How much for a donkey?

Parasailing or non-parasailing?

Calling all commentards: Want some new icons?



A "We need a new icon" icon is clearly required (although this may create a self-referential feedback loop).

Also a "Playmobil reconstruction required" icon; however if we exclude the spectacular PARIS event it has been at least 18 months since the last one, so this may be a lost cause.

Finally a "You clearly haven't actually read the article so your foaming at the mouth about it only makes you look a fool" icon for the comment responders to use.

BBC 'would not kill off the internet even if it could'


As for me...

I also would not kill off the internet, even if I could.

Just for the record

So, what's the best sci-fi film never made?



Not too sure about Banks' Culture stuff - the only one I can really see working as a single shot movie is The Player of Games.

Niven & Pournelle; not Ringworld but The Mote In Gods Eye. TMIGE will need a Peter Jackson to mini-series it because I can't really conceive it coming all in one lump. Or two. That can be the trouble with SF - too much scope. The other question is will the audience cotton on to how dangerous the Moties are even with HH Bury's screaming about it?

If you want battles and cultural differences how about Alan Dean Foster's Icerigger? It is the opposite of Avatar, no human self loathing here.

Agree with the CJ Cherryh comments on Downbelow Station, but for choice would probably choose Merchanter's Luck.

What about John Varley's Titan trilogy? Superb stuff.

Ian McDonald's Desolation Road to weird people out completely.

The Godwhale by TJ Bass has a nice ecosystem collapse and rebirth story to it, but isn't an action fest by any means, and Schwarzenegger is too old to play the lead/s now.

Lets get Girl Genius made into a movie! Once the series is finished. I want five-mile-long airship castles.

I'm waiting for Michael Grade's influence to fade away so Brit TV can start making proper Science Fiction programmes again. Stuff the films, I want series and character development, and by that I don't mean the Doctor snogging the female sidekick.

No stranger to the moleskin trouser



Since it has been pointed out to me that the hash symbol is properly an "octothorpe" I have been mentally translating C# as "Coctothorpe", which sounds like a small hamlet to where Scottish incomprehensible-lyriced bands retire.

Are moleskin breeks common north of the border?

Robo-warship sub hunter: Free DARPA crowdsauce game



The Royal Navy used fake periscopes in the Mediterranean in WWII, just sticks painted grey and weighted at one end so they floated upright. These were dropped, normally by submarines, at choke points where enemy vessels commonly passed. They were not that successful as a periscope is hard to spot at the best of times and as they were immobile they produced no telltale feather or wake. I don't think the axis powers developed any cunning countermeasures.

Israel mulls creation of elite counter-cyberterrorist unit



Will they be calling the organization Jen-and-Roy-and-Moss-ad?

Yuri Gagarin in triumphant return to London


How about

A statue of Christopher Cockerill standing on/by a miniature SR.N1? That was about the same time during a period of post-war innovation and scientific advancement.

Australians can’t read or count



Yes, you would expect as many above as below, but my inferred point to the original poster was that 50% of the population would not be below 100, but fewer than that as they had not taken the proportion of the population that had a score of exactly 100 into account.

I have seen a few purported IQ tests and the amount of locale specific questions is astonishing, and

must hammer anyone who is not familiar with the tester's history/culture.

Having useless colour vision, I always suffer when "Orange is to Yellow as Purple is to ......." style questions pop up.


Here comes Ollie Octothorpe ->

If you find that half the population has an IQ lower than 100 then it probably means that the IQ test questions have not been worded clearly or possibly not applicable to the target demographic; e.g. questions on US presidential succession given to Australians. This will skew the results towards the low end.

Lindsay Lohan ditches her surname


Oo look it's a hash sign ->

Launch Inhibiting Non-entity Delays Space Attempt Years.

Judge to music industry: 'Worth trillions? Forget it'



75 trillion?

Some months ago I posted an opinion that, with absurd damages payouts, they might as well set the figure at the national debt, on the grounds that someone might just pay it.

I would like to apologize for my lack of vision.

Motorstorm Apocalypse



Whilst I wouldn't buy this game, I think I could be tempted to shell out to see a post-apocalyptic Captain Pugwash.

Blofeld's Japanese volcano base erupts



Shinmoe-Dake is part of the Kirishima volcano complex and was erupting as recently as last month, so this is probably more of a continuation of last month's activity. In Japan both Kirishima and Sakurajima have been erupting this year.

Don't forget that there are around fifty volcanoes erupting on the Earth at any one time. For Japan the timing is rotten, but there you are.

A good source of volcano news is Erik Klemetti's Eruptions site:


Iran to attend Olympics, despite 'racist' logo



I was under the impression the logo spelled out "Open wide, Lisa".

Feeling heat from Macs, Microsoft sells PCs sans crapware



So they are roughly fifty-four million kilometres away, assuming sound at sea-level and STP. Oddly enough, that is about the same distance as Mars to Earth at closest approach.

Surrey nudists tossed out into the cold after lease expires



I wonder about the clubhouse and chalets. I hope the club members don't forget to demolish them and grub up all the power cables and plumbing they have laid.

Scientists tremble before 'thunder-thighs' sauropod



Ahh, if only McIntosh had been a MacDonald...

Who needs 600 friends when you're a bride of Christ?



Well those 88mm AA Nuns can make short work of a Priest.

Coming soon: Die Hard 5 - The Zimmer Frame



Lester has probably discovered the plot involves evil Brits dropping paper-packaged WMD on California from helium balloons hovering at the edge of space.

Wooden spaceship descends into Moscow sandpit


Yes, splinters.

Radioactive, exploding splinters.

Actually to me this looks pretty much like the middle-aged-man's refuge, the garden shed. All it needs is a few discarded tools, some plant seeds that won't actually grow and a pile of magazines on disparate subjects and it is pretty much home from home. Possibly the team psychologists are a lot more canny than people give them credit for. Or they are henpecked.

Boffins hope for dimensional portal event at LHC by 2013!



Hang on, if the event is so symmetrical it can be called supersymmetrical, how come most of the Sparticles are showing up on the upper-right side?

Sparticles. A new internet meme is born...

Blackadder style chemists transform gold into purest ... purple




This article has been up for some four and a half hours (as I type) and not one rant about Lewis being allowed to write a science article, nor any complaints of bias.

Is this a record?

Big new wind turbines too close together, says top boffin



What sort of local effects is the Horns Rev offshore wind farm producing?


All that cloud could be useful, or not.

Missile defence FAIL: US 'kill vehicle' space weapon flunks test


the saga continues

Boffin 2: "Doesn't it remind you of those security robots they were having trouble with in England? You know, the ones that seemed to sprout circular saws and other alarming bits of kit?"

Boffin 1: "Run for it lad. Run!"

UK Man cops to £500,000 iTunes royalty scam


If we are going to impose insanely high damage charges...

Why not just set the fine at the national debt?



Sounds straightforward enough to me

The SETI project is being wound up because Virgin has started throttling bandwith under their "Fair Use" clause.

YES! It's the twists-in-midair FALLING GECKO ROBOT!


Never mind Murphy

Which way up will it land if Veronica bitch-slaps it one with a power-fist?

New RAF transport plane is 'Euro-w*nking makework project'


Scared now

It would be nice, however, if you chose a figure somewhat further from the midpoint of the bell curve; at least two standard deviations away, possibly three. Yes, this restricts your pool of available subjects, but hopefully they will have sufficient agility to accommodate any role they acquire in a future cabinet. The major dangers of this scheme are that IQ tests are not infallible so you may end up with idiots savant making the grade, and the sneaking suspicion that The Dark Lord of the Sith will pop up in a position of power again.

You see, I don't WANT to be an MEP or MP.

Hmm. I suppose that makes me even more suitable for the job, according to Douglas Adams.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II


TIE Fighter -> Too Right!

Fabulous game - nothing like being in a one-hit-wonder for concentrating the mind.

Those Y-Wings were fairly easy, X-Wings not so, and when you fell afoul of the Imperial Secret Service TIE Interceptors it really had you sweating. I became rather good at the game; nearly called it a sim then; I would gather an audience of family and friends who complained I was cheating by using the force when I would spiral madly about the screen and perform single shot kills on opponents who were not even on screen when I hit the fire button but would swing into the sights just as the blaster bolt reached the right distance.

I may have to hunt the disk out now...

MYSTERY of vanished PARIS spaceplane, playmonaut


Keep back, Quatermass!

It's an ammoniac corrosive!

Actually was my first thought on hearing the ground crew was closing in on a weak signal.

Vulture 1 rolls out of fab bunker


Yes, we need a name

Chuck Glyder?


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