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* Posts by Mike Richards

4228 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Bloodhound Super-Sonic-Car lacks Super-Sonic-Cashflow

Mike Richards
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Perhaps inevitably

This is the point in any British bleeding edge technological development when the Americans turn up with deep pockets, slap the stars and stripes on it and claim it for their own.

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Punkt: A minimalist Android for the paranoid

Mike Richards
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Do you have a Gemini - if so what's it like?

Any thoughts on the Gemini now its been out for a bit? Like how well its holding up and whether it is a useful day to day device.

Thanks.

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It's over 9,000! Boffin-baffling microquasar has power that makes the LHC look like a kid's toy

Mike Richards
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I can't believe no one has asked this vital scientific question

Can that much radiation cause superpowers?

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Remember that lost memory stick from Heathrow Airport? The terrorist's wet dream? So does the ICO

Mike Richards
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The Queen

Now has to be smuggled through Heathrow as part of a hen-do to Malaga until she can make an escape via a hidden door behind the giant bars of Toblerone in duty free.

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UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Mike Richards
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Re: RE: Mooseman

Countries trade disproportionately with their geographic neighbours. Which of the UK's neighbours are not in the EU or in the EEA?

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Blueprint of modern construction can be found in a tech cluster... of 19th century England

Mike Richards
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Re: Iron-framed buildings?

Great article - thanks!

Another building worth a visit is Oriel Chambers in Liverpool, finished in 1864 and is the world's first metal-framed building with a glass curtain wall - the direct ancestor of the modern skyscraper.

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Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

Mike Richards
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She's probably bought them for you using your Amazon account - thoughtful like that.

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Boffins ask for £338m to fund quantum research. UK.gov: Here's £80m

Mike Richards
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Funding based on historical precedent

Because Britain has a long and honourable tradition of beating the world through boffins tinkering at the bottom of the garden equipped with nothing more than bits of an old radio, some sealing wax, a garden shed and a bottomless supply of hot, sweet tea; government funding is proportional to the current cost of a shed and Morrisons own-brand teabags.

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First it was hashtags – now Amber Rudd gives us Brits knowledge on national ID cards

Mike Richards
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"nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

One word: Windrush.

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Mike Richards
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Re: "people already hand over masses of info to private firms"...

I wonder if she has just picked up a consultancy or directorship at a tech company wanting to sell crap to the Home Office. A path well-trod by the likes of Blunkett, Clarke and co.

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Mike Richards
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Can you imagine what would happen if a massive national biometric ID scheme was compromised?

No need - India's is completely broken - quoting from the article...

The patch lets a user bypass critical security features such as biometric authentication of enrolment operators to generate unauthorised Aadhaar numbers.

The patch disables the enrolment software's in-built GPS security feature (used to identify the physical location of every enrolment centre), which means anyone anywhere in the world — say, Beijing, Karachi or Kabul — can use the software to enrol users.

The patch reduces the sensitivity of the enrolment software's iris-recognition system, making it easier to spoof the software with a photograph of a registered operator, rather than requiring the operator to be present in person.

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/09/11/uidai-s-aadhaar-software-hacked-id-database-compromised-experts-confirm_a_23522472/

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Law firm seeking leak victims to launch £500m suit at British Airways

Mike Richards
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Re: A better way of effecting change

The ICO now has the GDPR powers of imposing penalties of 4% of turnover or €20 million. Add that to any legal costs awarded against BA as well as the expenses of fixing the problem and compensating victims; and shareholders might feel sufficiently poor to countenance a clearout at the top of BA and IAG.

Though it would be nice to see some senior executives finally taking a personal hit.

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Mike Richards
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Re: GPDR Strikes?

Well the DPA 2018 is in effect and the ICO was complaining how little power the previous regime allowed them to wield against Facebook. They might be tempted to throw the GDPR book at BA 'pour encourager les autres'.

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Russian volcanoes fingered for Earth's largest mass extinction

Mike Richards
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Alvarez was using the older K-Ar dating method for his research.

It's now clear that this is not reliable in the Deccan as many of the feldspars used for dating have either been chemically altered by hot groundwater after the lavas crystallised, fractured - allowing argon to escape, or weathered on the surface. This has the effect of producing abnormally young K-Ar ages for the lavas which are in conflict with the fossil data found in sediments between individual flows.

More recently, geologists have moved to Ar-Ar dating on isolated, cleaned feldspar crystals which produce much more consistent dates. The new dates show the most prolific part of the Deccan all lie within the magnetic episode called C29r (66.398 - 65.688Ma) which straddles the K-Pg boundary (66.043 ± 0.043Ma) - although the position of the boundary inside the Deccan is not clear.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Antipodal shock

A link between the Chicxulub impact and a massive increase in the volume of the magma erupting from the Deccan has been proposed in:

Keller, G., 2014. Deccan volcanism, the Chicxulub impact, and the end-Cretaceous mass extinction: Coincidence? Cause and effect? Geological Society of America Special Papers 505, SPE505-03. https://doi.org/10.1130/2014.2505(03)

Keller proposes that the Mantle could be fractured by a massive impact allowing melt to migrate more rapidly to the surface and produce cataclysmic amounts of lava. It's an intriguing theory with a lot to commend it, though it is clear the Deccan was buggering the planet well before the impact. The biggest problem is dating the Deccan itself; many of the lavas have suffered low temperature metamorphism or chemical weathering which have altered the feldspars normally used for K-Ar and Ar-Ar dating.

Annoyingly, the KPg iridium anomaly is not found in the Deccan. A few localised iridium anomalies have been found in the West of the province, but it is generally thought they represent concentrations of the element from terrestrial weathering.

I still think we need a time machine.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Plumes

It's a plume-driven volcano and it will probably have major explosive eruptions in the future. On a historic scale, a repeat of one of the cataclysmic eruptions from Yellowstone (or indeed its more mysterious southern cousin, Long Valley) would be devastating and cause huge hardship for the Northern Hemisphere. However, chances are on a human timescale, future activity will be confined to the caldera; and on a geological timescale, even caldera eruptions pale in comparison to flood basalts.

Though, the fading plume that drives Yellowstone was responsible for the magnificent Columbia flood basalts of Washington and Idaho. I heartily recommend a trip to anyone who wants to be awed by a landscape. (And Yellowstone itself is simply jaw-dropping).

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Mike Richards
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Some rift valleys are found on spreading margins - such as that along the MidAtlantic Ridge; but most are intraplate features created by an upwelling of hot Mantle under a continent. A really good example is the East African Rift Valley which is pulling the African Plate apart; but doesn't seem to have quite enough umph to actually break the plate and create new ocean floor.

Closer to home, there are nice rift valleys in the German Rhine region; the Midland Valley in Scotland, the North Sea and a hidden one running north-south under the West Midlands.

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Mike Richards
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Plumes

The dynamic of these huge events is pretty well understood as being related to Mantle plumes which are superheated columns of rock (not magma) rising from close to the Core/Mantle interface. They rise through the Mantle as relatively narrow features, but as they reach shallower levels they form mushroom-cloud shaped bodies of rock. The reduction in pressure is enough to partially melt the head of the plume; meanwhile the impact of the plume on the lithosphere causes it to bulge upwards, thin and fracture allowing the magma to pour out as flood basalts.

As you say, the Deccan is probably linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs; a massive decline in biodiversity (especially in the oceans) and a wildly-changing climate and acidified rainfall were all occurring long before part of Mexico was turned into a crater. Right now, that plume is driving the volcano on Reunion in the Southern Indian Ocean - but the good news is that once the head of the plume has been exhausted, the long tail only provides a relative trickle of melt.

The most productive plume on the planet right now is the plume that created the Antrim Basalts in Northern Ireland is now driving most of the volcanism in Iceland (the MidAtlantic Ridge is a relatively small contributor to Icelandic activity); but the most impressive is the one under Afar in Ethiopia which is pushing the whole of East Africa more than a kilometre into the sky and driving the Africa Rift Valley - although it probably isn't strong enough to rift Africa into two.

In theory, we could see any emerging plumes long before they arrive on the surface through technologies such as seismic tomography and their effect on local gravitation; but the good news is that there is no obvious threat from a new plume for the immediate geological future.

The threat is from the tails of existing plumes, which although they only ten to produce a fraction of a cubic kilometre of melt each year, can occasionally produce monstrous volumes of magma - such as our old friend the Icelandic plume which produced 18km3 in the Eldgyá eruption of 939CE; depressed Northern Hemisphere temperatures by 2C and probably inspired the Viking idea of Ragnarok; and then vomited up a further 14km3 from nearby Lake during 1783-84; creating a famine that killed a quarter of Icelanders, poisoned more than 20,000 people in England and probably contributed to a complete collapse of the Indian and Chinese monsoons. If they were to happen today, the death toll across the World could be unimaginable.

Just to put those into context, after 65 million years of erosion, the Deccan contains more than one million km3 of lava. Magnetic evidence suggests most of it was erupted within a span of 20,000 years which included several prolonged episodes of inactivity. A Deccan-like eruption would be the end of us.

It would however be a beautiful way to go....

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ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed

Mike Richards
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This case is turning into a real Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

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Beam me up, PM: Digital secretary expected to give Tory conference speech as hologram

Mike Richards
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Re: Hologram you say?

It'll be obvious -holograms are three dimensional.

BTW. Kudos to whoever it was who rebranded Pepper's Ghost as a 'hologram'. Probably got a new patent for it by adding the magic words 'with a computer'.

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Time to party like it's 2005! Palm is coming BAAAA-ACK

Mike Richards
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I'm considering a blockchain rolodex startup.

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ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

Mike Richards
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Re: What we need

I expect North Face and Superdry are two of those so-called popular music artistes that you might find on certain bands of the FM spectrum if you ever tune away from the Home Service.

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Bank on it: It's either legal to port-scan someone without consent or it's not, fumes researcher

Mike Richards
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Re: CMA is overzealous

The CPS has guidance for prosecutions under Section 3A of the CMA which covers the likelihood that software was being used to break the CMA. Amongst other things, prosecutors should consider:

• Was the software developed to obtain unauthorised access to a computer?

• Does the software have legitimate purposes, such as testing a device's security?

• What was the context in which the software was used to commit the offence compared with its original intended purpose?

I can't see how he has a case here. The CPS will point to their guidance.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/computer-misuse-act-1990

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Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

Mike Richards
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Re: what the fuck does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

You were dancing on the edge of the volcano there!

I trust you didn't risk driving home? That would have been the day the balance of the Universe would require that you were run off the road by a juggernaut filled with faulty printers.

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Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

Mike Richards
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Re: Something wrong

It's the second pyramid, that of Khafre which retains part of its casing.

Judging by the whacking great gouge in its side, the picture is of Menkaure's pyramid. The damage was done by workmen belonging to Saladin's son, al-Malet al-Aziz Othman ben Yusaf who wanted to quarry the pyramids for building stones. Such is the quality of the building, they did precious little damage apart from stripping the casings.

If you want to see a pyramid with casing nearly intact, a trip to the twin pyramids at Dahsur near Saqqara is recommended. One of the two - the Bent Pyramid - is in especially good condition (apart from not actually being a true pyramid).

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Mike Richards
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Re: "building material with the properties of an ordinary limestone is evenly distributed"

The sarcophagus, burial chamber, the relieving chambers above the burial chamber and the portcullises in the antechamber are all made of Aswan granite. The rest of the pyramid is constructed from local Giza limestone and was originally cased with Tura limestone from the eastern bank of the Nile.

[mine's the one with the Ark of the Covenant in the pocket]

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Think tank calls for post-Brexit national ID cards: The kids have phones so what's the difference?

Mike Richards
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Obvious really

The only way to stop a malicious and incompetent government department from misusing personal data held about citizens is to give more personal data to that malicious and incompetent government department.

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The Solar System's oldest minerals reveal the Sun's violent past

Mike Richards
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Re: Hibonite Gems

It's a rare mineral occasionally found in high-grade metamorphic rocks that have been subject to enormous pressures and temperatures, but not quite brought to melting point. Almost all of the samples mentioned in the books come from Madagascar.

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Oh boy: MPs prepare to probe UK.gov's digital prowess and tech savvy

Mike Richards
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Re: So...

'Thank-you for coming Minister, we'd like to ask you about your department's use of computer technologies...

'...I'm sorry will I repeat what? Oh - com-pu-ter - yes that's right, like the box on your desk with the funny cat videos - only bigger. Moving on...'

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How much do you think Cisco's paying erstwhile Brit PM David Cameron?

Mike Richards
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'How much do you think Cisco's paying erstwhile Brit PM David Cameron?'

Too fucking much.

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UK privacy watchdog to fine Facebook 18 mins of profit (£500,000) for Cambridge Analytica

Mike Richards
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Re: Conclusions?

This is a real issue with machine learning. How much of the stuff is replicable when algorithms are proprietary and data sets aren't published? A lot of news about data science shouldn't be considered 'science' because the results aren't replicable.

But it's being pushed as the next big thing even though no one really knows how it comes to its decisions and many of those decisions and insights are of only marginal statistical significance. Dredge enough data long enough and you'll find some correlation - chances are it's bollocks, but you might make a billion.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Conclusions?

With Facebook there are also all the 'shadow accounts' of people who haven't actively signed up with the service, but about which Facebook knows a lot from them being included in users' messages and photographs. Their personal data is at risk, but they don't have any way of deleting it from Facebook - because they don't have an account.

How these accounts can possibly be GDPR compliant is something of a mystery to me.

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Mike Richards
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It's a shame the ICO didn't demand that Facebook stops processing Brits' personal data until it can demonstrate to the satisfaction of an independent body that it is not abusing it.

And at least the ICO has done something, there's still no pressure in Parliament to reform our electoral laws to cope with social media and campaigning.

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You're indestructible, always believe in 'cause you are Go! Microsoft reinvents netbook with US$399 ‘Surface Go’

Mike Richards
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Re: A good windows ink device?

I don't think Remarkable does handwriting recognition - yet.

That would be the obvious next step (and have me buying one in a flash) - even if they went via a third party and used another service to do the heavy lifting. I'm thinking about how the rather lovely Livescribe smart pen integrates with Evernote's handwriting recognition to produce text.

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Former wig-wearing Twitterphobe replaces Hancock as UK.gov's Secretary of Fun

Mike Richards
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Re: Some good news, at least

I'm really hoping they will send our new Foreign Secretary on a tour of Latin America:

a) it's a long way away from the NHS, but mostly;

b) the Spanish pronunciation of 'Hunt'.

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Galileo, here we go again. My my, the Brits are gonna miss EU

Mike Richards
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Re: Fgs

There's a Black Arrow rocket in the Science Museum and doesn't Leicester have a Blue Streak standing around doing nothing? By jove, we can have a space programme again!

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Mike Richards
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Re: NATO... And the German car industry.

Airbus was originally proposed by Hawker Siddeley, Breguet and Nord to rationalise construction of a single airliner rather than having three competing planes each taking an uneconomically small share of the market. The name itself came from Hawker Siddeley. In 1966, the three founding partners were Sud Aviation (now Aerospatiale), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus (Deutsche Airbus) and HS. The memo of understanding was signed by the UK, France and Germany in 1967.

The UK then had one of its usual fits of incompetence and withdrew in 1969, fortunately for the sake of UK aerospace, HS was allowed to continue wing design as a partner outside of the formal consortium. The UK rejoined as a formal partner in 1979 when British Aerospace bought a 20% share in the company.

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UK Minister of Fun Matt Hancock opens London infosec upstart creche

Mike Richards
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Re: Swansea 0 London 13 mil

Absolutely - it's not like there are plenty of places outside of London with top-notch universities teaching cybersecurity or with established security businesses that could help mentor startups.

Give it six months and this place will host one company spurting 'innovative' cybersecurity-related spam advertising on social media and the government will trumpet it as a success nearly as dizzying as Silicon Roundabout.

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Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

Mike Richards
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Someone should implement a date format starting at 'around 6 pm on 22 October 4004BCE'.

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Software changed the world, then died on the first of the month

Mike Richards
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Re: Wait a minute...

I have less of an edge on my rolling pin.

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Uber's London licence appeal off to flying start: No, you cannot do driver eye tests via video link

Mike Richards
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'Move fast and break things' and self-driving really don't go together.

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Outage? No, phones are playing silly buggers, insists Sainsbury's Bank

Mike Richards
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Re: Well that's odd

You got further than me. I was given the 'go away and come back later' message for most of Sunday and Monday.

On Tuesday I was able to pay my credit card bill - I think. The site said the money had been taken, but it hasn't left my current account and hasn't appeared on the credit card yet, nor have I had an email confirmation that the transaction has been made.

I blame Jamie Oliver - not just this, but in general.

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Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...

Mike Richards
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Re: Oh how the might have fallen...

Could have been worse - you might have had a Plus 4.

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Donald Trump trumped as US Senate votes to reinstate ZTE ban

Mike Richards
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Re: You call this a trade war?

'Pah! When I were a lad we had propertrade wars - gunboats off Iceland arguing about who owns the cod! But if you tell that to kids today...'

We lost that one... to a country with no navy, but one with a long history of being Vikings.

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Google-free Android kit tipped to sell buckets

Mike Richards
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Re: What do people want in a smartwatch?

Mondaine are the other company that comes to mind with their Swiss Railway watches. Looks good, tells the time, battery lasts ages.

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National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

Mike Richards
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Re: Of course National ID cards are the answer

Yes - you'd be so worried about the surveillance state that you'd never leave your home and in doing so massively cut transport emissions.

They could also be used to clean a frosted up windscreen.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Main issue I've always had with the ID Card schemes

Had ID cards been made real, the government would have breathlessly announced the scheme was now completely 'self-funding' thanks to innovative third-way stakeholder-engagement multiplatform linkups with Facebook and Google.

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Mike Richards
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It's their answer to everything

Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson, have popped up with their answer: identity cards.

Claiming benefits: ID card

Underage drinking: ID card

Buying tobacco: ID card

Terrorism (they're against it): ID card

It's a one-fuckup-fits-all policy.

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Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer nicked on suspicion of giving F-35 info to China

Mike Richards
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My understanding is that they're way behind in jet engine technology - so much so that they still buy them from the Russians.

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Mike Richards
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Re: Stupid... Just stupid...

I like the apocryphal story that French intelligence were aware the KGB was sniffing around Michelin at the time the tyres for Concorde were being designed. Because a very heavy plane landed at very high speed it needed special synthetic rubber - something Michelin had cracked, but the Soviets had not.

Rather than round up the spies, the story goes that the French instructed Michelin to come up with something the consistency of bubble gum and let the spies get their hands on that formula.

I've never seen an authoritative source, but I rather like the image of a TU-144 stuck to the runway whilst a lot of men in fur hats stand around wondering if their next trip is to Siberia.

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