* Posts by Mike Richards

4397 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Engineers blame 'intentionally conservative' test parameters for premature end to Space Launch System hotfire

Mike Richards Silver badge

Back in the 1970s, Boeing - sniffing the air for delicious pork - came up with a plan to use the 747 to launch cruise missiles:


And here's a photo of a 747 ferrying a spare turbine - as you say, it looks strange:


Mike Richards Silver badge

I might be getting old

But NASA lowering safety thresholds gives me flashbacks.

Debut firing of NASA's Space Launch System core stage cut short following 'Major Component Failure'

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Not enough data to proceed

Which may be a bit of a problem.

They have already stacked the two SRBs at the Cape and they can only be left like that for about a year. Apparently if the Senate Launch System was going to fly this year, the core had to leave the test stand by February so it can be spruced up for flight. Unless the problem is something small (and the word 'Major' was used) that can be resolved by simply removing the faulty engine and plugging in another, I suspect it won't fly this year and yet more money will be poured down the SLS's throat as the SRBs are mothballed.

150,000 lost UK police records looking more like 400,000 as Home Office continues to blame 'human error'

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Did someone say Fujitsu?

And the Libra magistrates court system that was memorably described as 'one of the worst IT projects ever seen' by the Commons Public Accounts Committee:


Boeing confirms last 747 to roll off production line in 2022

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: So long!

Not many of them still in passenger service. No US airline flies them, Qantas has got rid of the 747, and even BA - the biggest recent user - has sent them off to the boneyard or breakers. Lufthansa and Korean are your best bet for a Jumbo flight these days as they both bought the 747-8 Intercontinental in relatively large numbers.

Singapore changes the rules and will now use COVID-19 contact-tracing app data in criminal cases

Mike Richards Silver badge


This news sure is going to moisten a lot of groins in the Home Office.

NHS awards £23m two-year deal to controversial Peter Thiel AI firm Palantir

Mike Richards Silver badge

'When the pandemic abates and the outbreak is contained, we will close the COVID-19 datastore.'

By the time the pandemic abates (which won't be any time soon given this government's performance), the datastore will escape deletion simply by having been relabelled for another purpose - flu vaccinations, dog fouling, Conservative-leaning voter engagement, post-Brexit dissident tracking...

'Best tech employer of the year' threatened trainee with £15k penalty fee for quitting to look after his sick mum

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Privacy campaigner flags concerns about Microsoft's creepy Productivity Score

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Design vs Use

Microsoft need to go and read 'IBM and the Holocaust' before they try absolving themselves from blame for how their technology is used.

How the US attacked Huawei: Former CEO of DocuSign and Ariba turned diplomat Keith Krach tells his tale

Mike Richards Silver badge

Boy is he in for a shock

‘ Krach’s evidence for that is Chinese laws that require all companies and individuals to provide authorities with intelligence or data on request as a reason Huawei cannot be trusted.’

Wait until Krach learns about RIPA 2000 and IPA 2016 in the UK.

Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: more than software

When this is all settled and Boeing adds up the redesigns needed, the delayed and lost sales and the moneys paid to the victims of their criminal behaviour; let alone the colossal damage to their reputation - I wonder if the MAX will have actually turned out to have been cheaper and quicker to deliver than a clean sheet design such as their abandoned Yellowstone Y1 proposal.

Ticketmaster: We're not liable for credit card badness because the hack straddled GDPR day

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Ticket master

If it's not Ticketmaster scalping the punter, it will be ATG and their endless charges that are only mentioned after you've queued and secured a ticket. Dreadful companies - and that's before you ever have to request a refund when they show their even less customer-friendly side.

EU says Boeing 737 Max won't fly over the Continent just yet: The US can make its own choices over pilot training

Mike Richards Silver badge

Boeing very nearly got their hands on Embraer, but the deal fell apart earlier this year in good part because of Boeing's deteriorating finances. At least part of the Brasilian government is talking about linking up with China instead - which would put the cat amongst the metaphorical business jets.

The Japanese plane you are thinking about is the Mitsubishi MRJ SpaceJet which is currently awaiting certification.

UK's Space Command to be 'capable of launching our first rocket in 2022'

Mike Richards Silver badge

Most Earth observation and LEO satellites go into highly-inclined orbits that don't benefit from the extra kick you get from equatorial launch sites; so lugging everything to Ascension Island would just be an unnecessary expense. For instance many US national security payloads fly out of Vandenburg in California and Russian military satellites are launched out of Plesetsk in the Arctic.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Best of British Boffinry

I trust there is a shed just out of view with a couple of Brylcreemed boffins puffing approvingly on their pipes.

HP: That print-free-for-life deal we promised you? Well, now it's pay-per-month to continue using your printer ink

Mike Richards Silver badge

'We are now adjusting our offerings to enable customers to enjoy more flexibility and options.'

Wow! As a Mac user who runs Adobe software I thought I'd read the ultimate in the psychotic bollocks from Silicon Valley's finest marketers, but phrasing the introduction of compulsory charges as something to 'enjoy' takes things to a whole new level.

When sci-fact beats sci-fi: Echoes of exploding stars' final cries may be trapped in the rings of trees on Earth

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Sounds plausible

'So there is certainly data back almost that far. As to where it's from, I imagine bog-oaks and other preserved timbers provide a lot of the data.'

The older radio-carbon dates are calibrated against corals and foraminifera shells; as well as speleothems (limestone deposits formed in caves such as stalagmites) which can also be independently-dated using U-Th -> Pb.

Mike Richards Silver badge


This would be a useful technique to go alongside Be-10 anomalies which are associated with supernovae explosions. These are found in deep ocean sediment cores and ice cores. What's really nice about Be-10 is that it has a 1.4 million year half-life which pushes things far beyond C-14 dating.

Congrats, Meg Whitman, another multi-billion-dollar write-off for the CV: Her web vid upstart Quibi implodes

Mike Richards Silver badge

Meg Whitman drives another company into the ground

Finally, Dido Harding has some competition

Will there be no end to govt attempts to break encryption? Hand over your data or the kiddies get it, threaten Five Eyes spies

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Realism?

The one time pad is unbreakable provided you can secure the pad and never reuse it; but you still hit on the key distribution problem of getting the pad to the other user.

Fortunately, GCHQ discovered the solution to that issue back in the 1970s with public key encryption which - oh bugger - kind of gets in the way of authoritarians everywhere.

Since the EU won't share all its toys, UK Space Agency fires up fund to support more international collaboration

Mike Richards Silver badge

£5 million?

Well that's the swoopy logo and jingle sorted...

UK privacy watchdog confirms probe into NHS England COVID-19 app after complaints of spammy emails, texts

Mike Richards Silver badge

Head of the ICO

Is Elizabeth Denham still working from home (in Vancouver)?

NHS COVID-19 launch: Risk-scoring algorithm criticised, the downloads, plus public told to 'upgrade their phones'

Mike Richards Silver badge

'I can't see how it took this long to develop, considering the core functionality is provided by Google/Apple.'

Most of it spent by Harding and Hancock trying to work out how to shovel more public money to their friends.

England's COVID-tracking app finally goes live after 6 months of work – including backpedal on how to handle data

Mike Richards Silver badge

As the ORG point out, the government has still not provided the legally-required Data Protection Impact Assessment for Serco Test and Trace.


Ethernet failure on Swiss business jet prompted emergency descent, say aviation safety bods

Mike Richards Silver badge

Hydraulics were introduced to overcome aerodynamic forces - but they are big, heavy and complex systems. There is a lot of weight-saving and improved mechanical reliability to be had from fly-by-wire.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Back to the future

A nice old-fashioned entirely-mechanical VC-10 sounds rather appealing right now

Proposed US fix for Boeing 737 Max software woes does not address Ethiopian crash scenario, UK pilot union warns

Mike Richards Silver badge

Clean sheet design

Around 2009, Boeing announced they were working on the Y1 clean sheet design for a twin engined narrow body airliner to replace the 737. Planned entry into service was around 2020. Instead, they went for the cheap option of the MAX which has nearly destroyed the company’s reputation, cost billions and killed several hundred people.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Welcome aboard the all-new Boeing Sellafield.

We're not getting back with Galileo, UK govt tells The Reg, as question marks sprout above its BS*

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: European Union

‘Yeah, I'm not just anti-Brexit, I'm actually European but I'm still amazed that after deciding to leave there wasn't some master plan on what to do next’

My goodness, the likes of Bernard Jenkin and Iain Duncan Smith have only had thirty years of railing against the EU - can you honestly expect them to come up with an alternative in so little time?

UK govt urged to bolt tough legal protections onto Arm and protect jobs – or simply veto Nvidia's £31bn acquisition

Mike Richards Silver badge

It’d be nice to not hand the US control of all major processor architectures. We’re already seeing with China that they are prepared to use their influence to strangle foreign rivals.

But this is the country that gave up its space programme on the strength of an American promise that we could launch payloads on their rockets - which was promptly withdrawn after Black Arrow as sent to the knacker’s yard, so I doubt anything will be done.

Huawei's supply chain squeeze tightens, as SK Hynix and Samsung set to stop selling chips to the Chinese bogeyman as of next week

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Counterproductive

Are there any estimates how far China is behind the US, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea in developing its own processors, memory, graphics doohickeys and the like?

Northrop Grumman wins $13.3bn contract with US Air Force to kick off Minuteman III ICBM replacement

Mike Richards Silver badge

BAE must be weeping

‘...Boeing selected as the prime contractor back in 1958. Full operational capability of the Minuteman III was declared in 1975,’

17 years of development cheques from the Pentagon that probably had to be printed on extra-wide paper to hold all the zeroes. Surely not even the masters at BAE have been able to take so long in delivering something.

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan

Mike Richards Silver badge

State aid

The US has no problem with state aid to tech industries if they can put it in the defence or 'national security' troughs.

Everything's falling apart. The Moon is slowly rusting up – and it's probably Earth's fault

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: "1.5x10^27 oxygen particles [..] annually"

(why didn't they say molecules ? Is the word not hip any more ?)

A lot of the oxygen will be delivered to the Moon as atomic oxygen.

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: How long before.....

The Moon isn't exempt - it falls under COSPAR (COmmittee on SPAce Research) planetary protection guidelines which are linked to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. COSPAR guidelines go from zero (essentially missions to the Sun) which require no special biological contamination protections through to Category V which is reserved for sample return missions to bodies where there is a serious risk of contamination by Earth microorganisms.

Since the Moon is blasted by UV, the Solar Wind, has a massive temperature range and no atmosphere, it is highly unlikely that any organisms or complex organic molecules will be found there. Under COSPAR, missions to the Moon are considered Category II - destinations which might contain information about the origin of life but where terrestrial contamination is unlikely to interfere with data.

As for the COSPAR II requirements - basically fill out a form saying what you plan to do and any potential risk of contamination; then another form if you should do anything bad when you were there. The probes themselves don't need any particular sterilisation before launch.

TLDR - crap on the Moon if you want, but fill out the paperwork afterwards.

Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck talks to The Reg about crap weather, reusing boosters, and taking a trip to Venus

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Venus is under appreciated

The Soviet Union included a couple of balloon probes in their two Vega landers. These explored the upper Venusian atmosphere for a couple of days before their batteries died. The two balloons were made of PTFE-coated plastic to protect them from sulfuric acid (and the hydrofluoric acid they discovered) and floated at just about the altitude you suggested, not just because it is a good pressure, but because it has the strongest winds. More info here:



A shame there haven't been any further missions along these lines; if only to try and pin down whether Venus has lightning and perhaps to listen for infrasound from any volcanoes that might be grumbling away down there.

Two out of four ain't bad: It's been a weekend of mixed emotions for rocket fanciers

Mike Richards Silver badge


'While planning approval has already been given, consent is needed since the facility will be on grazing land, meaning crofters with livestock would need to move their animals during the periods around launches.'

Think Cape Canaveral with cattle grids.

Facebook apologizes to users, businesses for Apple’s monstrous efforts to protect its customers' privacy

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: You mean Facebook has adverts?


Oh I remember that - then I blocked its domains on my Pi-Hole and life got better.

What would you prefer: Satellite-streamed cat GIFs – or a decent early warning of an asteroid apocalypse?

Mike Richards Silver badge

The Falcon 9 doesn’t have that big a payload fairing which limits its ability to throw telescopes into space. This is one reason why NASA is going to use an Ariane 5 to fire the James Webb into orbit - if and when it is ever finished. If you want an all-American rocket for your telescope either the Delta IV Heavy or the Atlas 5 are the ones for putting mirrors into space.

UK national debt hits 1.46 Apples – and weighs as much as 2 billion adult badgers

Mike Richards Silver badge

Lateral thinking

Does this mean badger culling is a debt-reduction strategy?

US govt proposes elephant showers for every American after Prez Trump says trickles dampen his haircare routine

Mike Richards Silver badge

Ah well...

...the Colorado River was overrated anyway - much better that all of its water ends up sluicing geriatrics in Phoenix than running wastefully to the ocean.

British Army does not Excel at spreadsheets: Soldiers' newly announced promotions are revoked after sorting snafu

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: "To err is human, to really fcuk things up requires a computer".

It would definitely have cost more and the system would still be processing battlefield promotions from the Falklands War.

Aviation regulator outlines fixes that will get the 737 MAX flying again

Mike Richards Silver badge

Good luck

Given the current political tensions, good luck to Boeing getting the MAX certified in China.

Doctor, doctor, got some sad news, there's been a bad case of hacking you: UK govt investigates email fail

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: There but for...

Good question.

Given there is an ongoing criminal investigation, I hope one of the lines of inquiry is whether Fox has broken the OSA?

Mike Richards Silver badge


Fox has spent decades demonstrating his unwavering loyalty to Washington and it turns out he was an asset for Russian intelligence.

Virgin Galactic pals up with Rolls-Royce to work on Mach 3 Concorde-style private jet that can carry up to 19 people

Mike Richards Silver badge


‘ The engine became unique as the only power plant in aviation history to use an afterburner on a civilian airliner.’

The Soviet Union’s Tu-144 used afterburners as well and needed them to maintain high speed flight unlike Concorde which could cruise without afterburners.

Mike Richards Silver badge

The point

So Hollywood celebrities can get to their destination faster and spend more time lecturing us on how to save the planet.

Boeing confirms it will finish building 747s in 2022, when last freighter flies off the production line

Mike Richards Silver badge

Re: Flying wings/bodies

A real problem with flying wings as passenger aircraft is that people sitting some distance from the central access will experience relatively large vertical accelerations and decelerations as the plane banks. Apparently those sorts of motion are linked to serious barfage - so I'm guessing we'll see them round about 'never' - unless the airlines take the next step in making air travel more 'efficient' by anaesthetising people at check-in and stacking them like cordwood.

Mike Richards Silver badge

That's all folks!

No more four-engined airliners.

It doesn't seem that long ago that the thought of crossing the Atlantic on only two engines was novel and a little bit scary.

UK intel committee on Russia: Social media firms should remove state disinformation. What was that, MI5? ████████?

Mike Richards Silver badge


'For example, the Foreign Secretary has responsibility for the National Cyber Security Centre, which is responsible for incident response, while the Home Secretary leads on the response to major cyber incidents. To add to the confusion, the Defence Secretary has overall responsibility for cyber techniques as "warfighting tools" and for the National Offensive Cyber Programme, while the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) leads on digital matters'

So that would be:

Foreign Secretary - Dominic Raab

Home Secretary - Priti Patel

Minister of Fun - Oliver Dowden

You'd be hard-pressed to find three less suitable people to oversee intelligence matters. Though Gavin Williamson probably comes close.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021