* Posts by Dave Jones

57 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Dec 2007


Branson mothership bottom smacked in 'touch & go' incident

Dave Jones

Oh Mother!

I always thought Branny's mother must have been called Mary.... So is he Abel, or Cain?

Google Street View hits UK streets

Dave Jones


In the fair and ancient city of York, StreetView came up against a one-way system that has flummoxed the best of us. Small wonder, then, that the trail goes cold halfway down some streets, or in one case does a funny kind of U-turn after turning onto a side street (Blake St. off Museum St. if you care).

I wouldn't be surprised if that camera rig had trouble with some of the old stone arches as well.

Funny though, two streets in York which have been pedestrianized forever have excellent coverage: Stonegate and the Shambles. So how the heck did they get those pix? The spymobile (quick while there's nobody about!) or some kind of handcart?

Dave Jones

Typical Brit effort

Looking at the StreetView of some of my old stomping grounds in York and London, it's pretty obvious that thoroughness was not on the agenda. Whole sections of streets are missing, as if the spymobilers decided they couldn't be arsed, and it was nearly opening time anyway.

Mines the one with 20 Woodbines in the pocket.

German Mickey Mouse radio snoops on cops

Dave Jones

Brits can be Teutonic too

If you read the fine print on the TV licence, it says quite clearly that you can't use it for anything else but watching permitted TV channels. But wait, there's more. It also says you are not allowed to tell anyone else if you inadvertently hear or see anything else on it.

Well that's what it said in 1980. I bet it says the same thing today. Living in darkest Berks. I used to hear Radio Lubljana on my little portable TV. Oops I wasn't supposed to tell anyone....

Congress re-mulls ban on wireless tax

Dave Jones

Its literally highway robbery....

There's more to this than you'd think. Having worked in the call rating industry, I've learned that any little municipality with a cell phone tower in its boundaries can pass taxes on calls that pass through that tower.

What really happens is that "Collection companies", no doubt having egged on the locals with the prospect of ready cash, trawl the call records of the various call carriers for taxable calls. They present the service providers with tax bills and pass on the proceeds to the municipalities, taking a hefty cut for themselves. The providers have to either (a) pay up and eat the cost or (b) employ more companies (who may be related to the collectors) to scan all the local yokel regulations across the USA for tax rates, and then work out how to charge the taxes on to the customer.

All this from people driving through Podunk by way of Boonsville, calling in for their voice mail along the way.


3D TV by Christmas, hints Sky

Dave Jones

One more way that TV won't stop being crap

Colour, High Definition, widescreen and now 3D. All lipstick on the proverbial pig.

Ten of the Best... laptop stands

Dave Jones

Laperal thinking....

My lap rest is a flat (no rim) cookie sheet. Got it for 3 bucks at Ollie's. 14 inches by 9 is a good size, but the next size up works too. Previous versions included an interesting flat sheet by Oneida, 6 bucks at Target, with one edge bent up into a handle. If you don't want it to slip and slide, or scratch tabletops, apply self-adhesive foam or felt sheet from the craft store: 99 cents.

Then have a good laugh at the bozos who pay $29.99.

Earthworm blamed for laptop crash

Dave Jones

So after the "real bug", and the "real worm"

God help the person who gets a "real Trojan".

Dave Jones

Actually it's more likely than I thought....

Over here in Merkinland, a Trojan is a condom. Getting a "real Trojan" in your machine might be an interesting experience.

NASA talks little green men with Vatican

Dave Jones

The difference between NASA and the Vatican....

...is that the Vatican actually has a policy on dealing with intelligent E.T.'s. See the foreword to James Blish's novel "A Case of Conscience".

Raygun jumbo: 'Long duration' ground blasts begin

Dave Jones

I'm melting!!!!!

"Dan Wildt said the laser could easily have kept blazing for longer, but this would have destroyed or melted the ground test equipment."

Classic problem with lasers. The energy of the light beam is a small percentage of the energy dissipated at the source. The very design of a laser ensures this: any light not on the lasing path is discarded.

Oh and by the way, as E.J. Thribb might put it:

A megawatt

Is not a lot

Your average artillery shell definitely produces megawatts

when it goes off. And is actually more efficient than a typical


Boffins ponder Geordies' lack of winter clothing

Dave Jones

Piano legs, anyone ?

Back in my day it seemed like the time spent wearing minis was directly related to the thickness of the thighs. You could have made a thousand Steinways from the legs on view between the Tyne and the Tees. And that was just the men (boom boom). More delicate figures favoured maxis.

NASA births cliff-hanging yo-yo bot

Dave Jones

Looks familiar...

Remember making "Moonmobiles" using only an empty bobbin, a bit of old candle, a stick and a "laggy band".....?

US mulls clicks for cameraphones

Dave Jones

Congresscritters do this a lot

Ignore this. King is just trying to keep some constituents happy and not look "soft on pervs". This kind of thing happens a lot, since the individual representative is not beholden to his national party the way MP's are enslaved by the Parliamentary party. The bill will go into committee and never be seen again (unless it pops up as a clause in some Omnibus Keep The Bluenoses Happy bill later).

Arizona Super Bowl fans cop eyeful of todger

Dave Jones

Not a first by any means

There was the case of some guy in an apartment block who like to video himself in grumble mode, and piped it into the back of his TV from where it leaked back into the rest of the building's cable network, treating his neighbours to views of new and unknown places.

Breakthrough paint blocks top-end spectrum

Dave Jones

@"Radio Waves"

If 10GHz is 3cm wavelength, then 200 GHz is 0.15 cm, or 1500 microns, or 1,500,000 nanometers.

Visible light is 800 nm (red) to about 350 nm (edge of UV). IR is from 800 nm to about 5000 nm or 5 microns. So 182 GHz is nowhere near any kind of "light".

DARPA orders 'fridge-sized' laser energy cannon

Dave Jones

Self immolation

Given how inefficient lasers are, it's going to be fun how they figure out what to do with the 500+ kW of waste heat at the source.... Goodbye, enemy missi......oops.

Melamine, poisons and the misappliance of science

Dave Jones

It's not the melamine

Melamine by itself has a toxic dose of about the same value as table salt. So does a related compound called cyanuric acid. Together they make insoluble crystals that form stones in organs like the kidneys. That's what's sickening babies now, not any toxicity. Cyanuric acid is used in animal feed and is considered harmless for that use. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine_cyanurate

'I can see dinosaurs from my back porch'

Dave Jones

No generalizations, please

Forget about the "American Education System". There isn't one. This is the first mistake Brits make when dealing with US education. The Feds do nothing but throw money at people, whatever the press says about "Federal Education Policy". At the state level control of education is highly variable. Some states, South Carolina for one, I think, control centrally. Effectively the entire state is one "school district". Here in New York a school district can be as small as a town of a few tens of thousands of people, with its own policies AND (very important) ability to levy taxes. Sure the state govt. drops "mandates" on us and distributes "school aid" (basically a tax on small towns to feed big cities) but the bottom line is that no Prez or Veep can impose anything from Washington, and likewise even a Congress full of Creationists couldn't mandate its teaching.

Amanda Donohoe rides into Emmerdale

Dave Jones

Eee bah gum

Don't forget the lady's less-than-convincing northern accent in "Deep Secrets", that "not quite ready for Prime Suspect" drama with PS skin job Colin Salmon.

Ofcom steps up the power for unlicensed broadcasting

Dave Jones

What's so difficult about 10GHz?

I still remember playing with the "3 cm wave" box in Nuffield Physics. Maybe modulating it is the difficult part?

IBM gets hip with 'cool' Ubuntu PC deal

Dave Jones
Thumb Down

How to please Microsoft

The Redmondites must be cackling with glee. I can't think of anything more likely to put people off LInux than by packaging it with anything from Lotus, especially anything related to the hated Notes. This is classic suit-think: it doesn't matter if the product is crap, it just matters that we can sell it. Come to think of it, that's been IBM-think since forever.

Trashman arrested for YouTube threats

Dave Jones

There's a reason they say "assault and battery"

Assault is when you threaten to harm another person. Battery is when you actually do it. It's very old law and nothing to do with free speech on the Internet. Just because people frequently get away with saying "I'm going to come over there and kick your head in" it doesn't mean that it's legal to do so. All the threatened person has to do is complain to the police.

Click here to save Bletchley Park

Dave Jones

Who needs a bunch of huts ?

Face it, temporary huts are just that. Let them go the way of all such things. Shift all the technology to one of the museums equipped to handle it. Let the old house go back to being an old house. I'm tired of hearing that this brick or that paving stone deserves preservation just because something happened to happen in its general vicinity.

NZ judge saves girl from bloody silly name

Dave Jones
Thumb Down

Yes but....

It's only a small step from "persuasion" to where the happy slappers in govt. offices are telling people what they can and can't name their kids, right down to keeping lists of allowed names. American ex-pats find that they can't indulge in the customs of passing on parental names, or even grand-parental names, if their kids are born in the wrong country in Europe. As usual the Frogs are big offenders in this dept. Compared to the idiocy inflicted by bureaucracies in situations like this, a few bloody silly names are a small price to pay.

Grissom bows out of CSI

Dave Jones
Thumb Up

He's crying all the way to the bank

Haven't you all spotted the producer credits he gets? He's just going to stay behind the camera from now on. Smart man. Acting is for losers.

Be the first millionaire on your block to go Tiltrotor

Dave Jones

Just a new improved dinosaur

The problem with VTOL is that it takes about 4 times as much power as a fixed wing plane. Compare the engines in light 'copters with those in light planes. So you have 75% excess power, with all the extra weight involved, for most of your flight. The longer the range, the worse it gets! And all for the sake of landing and taking off in restricted space. VTOL craft are notorious fuel guzzlers because of this.

The military have their reasons for wasting power and fuel. Civvies have to keep their eyes on the bottom line.

Rebellious BT computers refuse to take orders

Dave Jones


Eee, ah can remember when it'd take six months ter connect a phone an' it didn't work half the time an' yer couldn't reach Directory Enquiries an' even t'bloody 999 were a bit dodgy. An' we were grateful to 'ave that!

Boeing to build combo airship-copter flying cranes

Dave Jones

How many tons?

I find the claims of the airship heavy lift brigade underwhelming. The typical payload of most heavy lifters, whether floating, rotary or fixed-wing, is about the same as one (1) ordinary road-going lorry. Even the Hindenburg and its kin only had about a 55-ton payload capacity, which must have really inconvenienced all those rich cruising types. "What do you mean, I can't take Frou Frou's kennel?"

Hawkeye technology turns tennis into a cartoon

Dave Jones
Thumb Down

Baseball does it best

The umpire's word is law. Arguing gets you a red card.

All the other sports that allow replays, radar, sonar, odar etc. suffer from ever more focus on fine detail that detracts from the game. Was he 1 cm out, or 1 cm in? Who cares? If it wasn't clear to the spectators that the guy scored, or went out of bounds, why does it matter? TV people like to over-analyze everything, but the sports admins should just let them yap and get on with providing a good spectacle.

A bas la technologie!!

Malware infects Merriam-Webster

Dave Jones

Hendrix said it best....

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy!

North Carolina targets WTF licence plates

Dave Jones


Legend has it that here in NY USA, somebody got away with having SMEGMA as their vanity plate for some time before an alert minion spotted it at renewal time.

Dave Jones

Wrong TLA

I'd have expected North Carolina to go after OMG first. After all, isn't religion more important than obscenity down there?

ICANN approves customized top-level domains

Dave Jones
IT Angle

More cybersquatting

Unrestricted top-level domains will force big companies to rush for their own domains, having already been forced to grab .com, .biz, .net and .god knows what else versions of their domains so that no-one can impersonate them. You can see .ibm, .gm, .chrysler, .bt, .consignia, .ici, .nokia and all coming on fast. If they don't....they might wind up having to go cap in hand to somebody in China to redeem their names.

Beeb's online music stations get rewind button

Dave Jones

Not your Auntie's BBC....

Does this mean somebody at the Beeb is actually (gasp, choke) competent? Years of tradition (and some gongs) are at stake here. Only true ineptitude should prevail in the land of Reith. Bring back Prentice and McCabe!

DARPA awards 'Deep Green' battle-computer cash

Dave Jones

Old joke

General: Do we advance or retreat?

Battlebot: Yes.

General: Yes what?

Battlebot: Yes sir!

and a quote: "When we teach computers to think like people we will find that they're just as ornery and difficult as we are".

US bank loses unencrypted data on 4.5m people

Dave Jones

Not really a problem

After all, who's going to have mag tape equipment anyway. Only stodgy old banks and telcos.

Voter-befuddling tricks moving online

Dave Jones


Election officials over here have a special category, TSTV, reserved for those voters who display the kind of intelligence that will make them vulnerable to the kinds of "tricks" described in the article. It stands, you will be amazed to learn, for "Too Stupid to Vote". These are the voters who, fresh from map-assisted laying of hands on fundaments, have trouble poking holes in bits of paper, or pulling down levers, or whatever task is required of them to register their preference.

Of course our elections require slightly more than choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, as in the typical UK vote. For better or worse, a typical general election requires choices for President, House of Representatives, Senator (two elections out of three), State legislature members (usually both Houses) plus county and city officials. Some states elect judges, District Attorneys, State Comptrollers, the list goes on. And that's without including Ballot Initiatives (where allowed) etc. etc. etc. All in the name of providing power to the people, when some of the people can be fooled all of the time.

The UK manages democracy by limiting what you can vote for. Factions in the USA try to manage it by limiting who can vote, They've done it for reasons of racism, sexism, other-isms, or just plain holding on to power. The Feds can't do much about it. They have power from the post-Civil War amendments to the Constitution, but the transgressions have to be really blatant for them to step in. Forget HAVA: it's just another "here's a barrel of money if you do what we say" law.

As always the last line of defense is the intelligence of the individual. And if that's not there, well maybe that voter really should stay home.

Oz driver sticks seatbelt on slab of beer

Dave Jones


Doesn't the Reg bitch about nannyism at home? How much freedom is not enough? How much regulation is too much? Discuss.

BTW you can't shoot anyone you want to in the US, though in Arizona it's OK to have a loaded gun on the dashboard in plain sight. Must give the traffic cops pause.

LG telly launch gulls Tinseltown stars

Dave Jones

A Party is a Party

Free booze, food, publicity. What star would miss it? So it wasn't about a TV series. Frankly my dear, they didn't give a damn.

Metal Storm reveals pocket bunker-buster test outcome

Dave Jones

How much bang are we talking about anyway?

One 40mm grenade = about half a cup of payload. Granted if you toss fuel rather than explosive you're upping the energy (no weight wasted on oxidizer) but you have to disperse it in air to get the bang.

Grenades are about creating havoc with shrapnel. These things seem to be about creating a lot of noise and pressure. Granted it'll ruin anybody's day, but no bunkers will be busted.

Dear ISP, I am not a target market

Dave Jones
Jobs Horns

When in doot, pollute!!

We should be happy that marketeers are such dullards. They never understand how easy it is to program our machines to outfox them. If they start cueing off IP packets, then machines will start sending HTTP packets to all manner of random addresses. It wouldn't take much to undermine their business model. If some percentage of Phorm's database is worthless, then their friends in advertising will drop them like a rock. Start polluting!

7000 Leap Year Babies attack Steve Ballmer

Dave Jones
Jobs Horns

Just to really confuse matters

Feb 29 is day 60 of a leap year. In any other year Mar 1 is day 60. Therefore "leapers" simply have their birthday on day 60. March 1 babies are welcome to

join in.


Everybody with a birthday after day 60 must celebrate their birthday one day earlier (in the calendric sense) in a leap year.

Which means that the poor bastards born on day 366 (Dec. 31) in a leap year really really don't get birthdays but once every four years (longer, if a century year intervenes)!!

Clear now?

DivX shutters also-ran cat piano video site

Dave Jones
Jobs Horns

Aha but....

...where else could you have gotten complete, commercial free episodes of <insert favorite out-of-print scifi series here>. I'm glad I got in while the goodies were still on the shelf.

Sarko verbal spat proves YouTube hit

Dave Jones

That's not what I heard

The French rag that originally posted the video alleged he said "Casse-toi alors, tu pauvre con", literally "break yourself then, you poor c*nt". "Casse-toi" is commonly used to mean "Get lost". Listening to the video, I did not hear "con". I only heard "tu pauvre", meaning "you poor [man]". So it seems the froggies have newspapers that are as "truthful" as newspapers everywhere else. And they do it without the Dirty Digger!

Larry Lessig for Congress?

Dave Jones

Call me old-fashioned but....

I thought the job of a Congressman was to represent his constituents. Of course the good citizens may not want to get value for all the money they send to DC, but somehow I doubt it.

If Lessig wants money out of politics, the best way is to keep politics out of money. Believe me, the money people don't like feeding the bears any more than anybody

else. However, it's the only way to keep said critters out of your pantry.

Murdoch could save Yahoo! from Microsoft!

Dave Jones

Today's slogan

Go! Home! Dirty! Digger!

Polaroid to close instant film plants

Dave Jones

Bit of irony....

Over here in 'merca there's a hair shampoo commercial running where bright young things with perfect hair enjoy a picnic, all the while shooting pics of each other with a Polaroid Swinger. Guess the producers didn't get the memo.

Straw: Police can bug MPs without asking Cabinet

Dave Jones

He's come a long way, baby

Remember this: Jack Straw was once president of the CIA-hating, anti-fascist, anti-apartheid, anti-everything-police-related, National Union of Students. Pity his younger self can't suddenly appear and shame him.

US Navy to test fire electric hypercannon

Dave Jones

A thousand off

Sorry, beg to disagree. I tonne is about 4.2 Gigajoules, or 4200 megajoules. 1 megatonne is about 4.2 Terajoules. For comparison, ordinary everyday bullets have energies in the kilojoule range.

This rail gun is basically an electric artillery piece. It's actually less efficient than a conventional cannon, but on the other hand you can accumulate energy over a long period and let it go in a fraction of a second. A cannon, being a heat engine, wastes at least 60% of the input energy. If you generate your electricity from a heat engine, you lose more due to conversion.

The real attraction of rail guns is for very long accelerators for shooting to orbit, or at least to sub-orbital speed so you don't need as much rocket. But those won't fit on ships.