* Posts by Andrew Alan McKenzie

42 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Sep 2008

Driverless cars swerve traffic tickets in California even if they break the law

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: If Corporations Are People

Well you could, but I think just ban the driver, so if one model of car x gets 12 points, then ban all models of car x, as its the software that was driving.

Rolls-Royce consortium shopping for factory sites to build mini-nuclear reactors

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Money for old rope

Whilst Corbyn was/is a prat, the magic money trees are thoroughly Tory. Amber Rudd and Teresa May suggested Jeremy wanted one and that they didn't exist, but actually it turned out they were growing in the Number 10 garden all along, just no one had noticed because they were behind the glass recycling bins.

Playing jigsaw on my roof: They can ID you from your hygiene habits

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Too careful might be tearing address labels in half and putting one half in the recycling, the other half in the normal bin, just in case the local scammers are jigsaw experts. Not that I would do that....

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair: British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Don't forget the calculators!

I still have my RPN Sinclair Scientific - gloriously quirky thing that saw me through science A levels and kickstarted an expensive addiction to RPN calculators....

Taikonauts complete seven-hour spacewalk, the first for China since 2008

Andrew Alan McKenzie

first to controlled powered flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft to be pedantic

When free and open source actually means £6k-£8k per package: Atos's £136m contract with NHS England

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: What is FREE?

packaging, testing, installing and supporting well i can bet that they didn't package it, install it or support it. They might have run a virus checker over it, but i wouldn't bet on it. Still I imagine there is a lovely paper trail of approvals so that must be worth something.

AI cleans up sat radar images so scientists can better spot warning signs before volcanoes go all Mount Doom

Andrew Alan McKenzie


From a geoscience perspective - landslides are an obvious candidate, as well as ground deformation caused by groundwater abstraction or mining, ice sheet/glacier movement, flood extents, changes in reservoir storage, volumes of material mined in open cast quarries.

Excel is for amateurs. To properly screw things up, those same amateurs need a copy of Access

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: < $100/year

So spend more than 72% of your budget on software...good plan

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at International Space Station

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

Well it's a little unfair. The Chinese Shenzou is Soyuz based, but larger, and was designed in the 1990s. Virgin's Spaceship 2 technically was the first post-shuttle manned space flight post-shuttle, albeit sub-orbital.

Dude, where's my laser?

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Laser scintillometers

Some of my colleagues now use laser scintillometers to make precise measurements of evaporation over landscapes. These scintillometers are essentially measuring how much the atmosphere is dispersing the beam and giving precise analysis of the turbulence, wind speed etc, so maybe the OP's work actually had some benefit in the long term!

Cloud, internet biz will take a Yellowhammer to the head in 'worst case' no-deal Brexit

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: just a scenario

I never quite understand why saying 'no deal is not an option' destroys are negotiating position but Boris and the ERG saying 'we want it on the table but of course we won't use it' is apparently Del by levels of brilliant negotiation.

And as for We can now only leave with the EU's permission, and on the EU's terms, which is a disastrous outcome O wow, welcome to the real world. The one we live in, the one of complicated international interactions with rules and consequences. Brexiteers, Fathers for Justice in a St George's flag moaning that it's unfair that their wife got the house the car and half their wages when they never bothered to turn up to the divorce hearing.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

Andrew Alan McKenzie

John Snow

My vote is for John Snow - an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology, in part because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, London, in 1854. If it wasn't for that era of medicine the probability is that we would be dead, not voting!

And a positive side effect - the unscientific will think 'Jon Snow, cool - game of thrones' and vote for my suggestion.

IBM Watson dishes out 'dodgy cancer advice', Google Translate isn't better than humans yet, and other AI tidbits

Andrew Alan McKenzie

I'd remain skeptical but open minded where Doctors have opinions on AI enabled software that could replace them. Turkeys may be well educated, but they also have serious college debts and crazy salaries, with a track record of failing to vote for Christmas.

I'd remain sceptical but open minded where IT companies have opinions on AI enabled software that could net them large profits. Hyenas may be well educated, but they also have serious costs buying yachts and private jets and crazy salaries, with a track record of telling the world that nirvana will be round the corner really soon, or definitely, probably, once the bug fixes to Version 11.5 are released.

Baywatch hero drone saves silly struggling swimmers Down Under from going down under

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: All sounds very good

A camera equipped helicopter is never going to be there when you want it is it? Receive report of distress. Phone airport. Pilot taps out his pipe, gets out of deck chair, pulls on cool leather jacket and mae west lifejacket, straps in, lights the fire, fiddles with the controls a bit, nods nonchalantly, calls up air traffic control, takes off, flies 10 minutes, takes photo of fat contented shark. Heads back to base and writes out a multi thousand pound invoice

Meanwhile in Baywatch hut, lifeguard shakes out their untamed blonde tresses, arms the drone and taps on a tablet to tell it to take off and fly to the point where trouble is reported, spots swimmer, drops flotation device. Drone returns to base. Lifeguard plugs drone into mins to recharge pence worth of electricity.

Chinese whispers: China shows off magnetic propulsion engine for ultra-silent subs, ships

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: It's old technology, so what's the big deal?

Clarke's First Law: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Otherwise helicopter design would have stopped with Leonardo, etc.

Lights, power, action! Smartplugs with a twist

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Dim or dimmer?

You all miss the point - this is apparently a great thing because it can dim a light and dimmers cost 'between $20 and $50'. Well Screwfix will flog me a dimmer for less than a £5, so is this the first ever known case of technology being cheaper in the UK than USA? (Of course the fact that the lamp you want to dim probably has a led or cfl plugged in, which can't be dimmed is beside the point).

British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

Andrew Alan McKenzie

No you don't actually recall at all - you read it somewhere and regurgitated it. Or maybe you remember too many lurid sci-fi book covers. I am fairly sure that 'they' predicted a nuclear war, and that never happened either, though i guess that sort of reinforces your point !

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Global Warming?

You do know they invented the Internet? It lets you look up stuff that in the past was hard to find - like 'did we really predict cooling in the 1960s?' - answer yes, but on much longer timescales and with the caveat that increased CO2 might disrupt things!

I'll just jump of this cliff - you say II'll fall? - nonsense you lost me when 'falling' became the mantra - gravity has always existed

The DIY spy-in-the-sky: From kites to octocopters

Andrew Alan McKenzie

living drones

100 years too late I am afraid.


Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

Andrew Alan McKenzie
Paris Hilton

SI units please, and sensible rounding to significant figures, i.e 70 degrees Fahrenheit = 0.1 Hiltons, not 0.1111 - after all it's not as if you are dealing with rocket science...

Reg hack uncovers perfect antidote to internet

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Abstaction licence

Not off the top of my head...

n the UK you can pump up to 20 m3/day without a licence - assuming that it's there to be had and that your pumping doesn't adversely effect your neigbours (although if it did that would be a civil issue).

If pumping less than 20 m3/day about the only requirement on you is to lodge a geological record if you go below 15 metres.

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: well no one got hurt?

John Bannister in 1799, discussing the profession of well sinking

'. . . These accidents render this profession extremely hazardous, but as the people who embark in it entertain but little thoughts of a future period, and since the chief end of their pursuits is the obtaining of a liberal supply of drink, if this end be answered they bestow little attention to the hazards of their profession . . . '

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Safer idea?

That's a fairly standard technique for constructing a well. How deep you would go would depend on the local geology, but assuming that the superficial deposits are reasonably stable, wells made with this technique are often carried down to bedrock.

If the caisson gets stuck you can just narrow the diameter and carry on....(assumes you have a ready supply of different diameter concrete rings)

Andrew Alan McKenzie
Thumb Down


Thumbs up for the hydrogeology - massive massive thumbs down for the actions in the photo at the bottom of page 1 - working in an unsupported excavation like that is basically typing out an application for a darwin award.

Asus CEO sounds netbook death knell

Andrew Alan McKenzie
Paris Hilton

Where is she?

Terrible news, but surely a story like this needs illustration, in case we have forgotten what a typical Asus netbook user might look like?

Scientists find safer way to store hydrogen

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: True Cost/Efficiency

Reread the earlier posters post.!

Just because it doesn't suit you, doesn't mean it doesn't suit anyone. Two car households are not exactly rare.

When I go on my handful of holiday journeys, i need a car that can cross seas and travel in excess of 500 mph, but as they aren't readily available (rotten scientists failing to design my personal jet-pack) i made a compromise and bought a petrol car that handles the normal run of journeys.

British Gas bets you'll pay £150 for heating remote control

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Why not/

Leaving aside the economics, both in terms of the cost and potential saving, I quite like the idea of a nice integrated system - my phone would notice that I've left the office and am heading home, and siri or her freinds would say 'do you want me to turn the heating on?' and I could say 'yes please' or 'no thanks, i'm off to the pub, not back till 11:00' .

Himalayan glaciers actually gaining ice, space scans show

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Do we need new scientists?

Never let facts get in the way of memes. There were some stories in the 1970s about a new ice age - but the bias towards a prediction of cooling was more a media artifact. A systematic survey of papers published at the time has about 10% of scientists predicting cooling, 60% warming and 30% neutral.

But even if scientists had predicted a new ice age 40 years ago, that wouldn't really invalidate modern day climate science, any more than Bill Gates saying '640K ought to be enough for anybody' means that all computer science is invalid (and yes - I know he didn't say it - just like the climate scientists didn't predict an ice age!)

Amount of ice in Bering Sea reaches all-time record

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Cherry picking?

So one year sea ice in one bit of the Artic was extensive - so everything is OK. Because obviously the whole edifice of climate science was predicated on that. We can thankfully ignore all the bits of the Arrtic where there was less ice, and obviously hypotheses linking sea ice extent to weather patterns are comprehensively disproven, so fire up the old coal stove and relax.

Amazon boss finds Apollo 11 engines on seabed

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: If you really have too much money ...

Well actually its not as if he's burning dollar bills. The money 'spent' will buy stuff and pay wages, and the people who sold the stuff or got the wages will pay taxes, and buy more stuff and pay more wages, and so the wheels of capitalism grind round.

if we are going to whinge about pointless expenditure I think there's quite a long list before you get to this - i would start at nuclear weapons and work down the list, through TV reality shows, past designer handbags and personalised number-plates before i carped at spending that celebrates heritage, arts and achievement.

Medieval warming was global – new science contradicts IPCC

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Seriously

Yes - remarkably well.



Andrew Alan McKenzie

Re: Here's my position for what it is worth...

OK -a downvote based simply enough on your first paragraph - the number might be up for grabs, but .3 degrees/century is based on what? Not observations, not models, not theory , 'intuition' maybe?

Just because something makes us uncomfortable, and we don't want to change our habits, doesn't mean it isn't happening. Doctors tell me red meat is bad for me, and eating it will shorten life expectancy. I don't like that message because I like eating steak. but that doesn't mean the doctor's are wrong, It means I am weak willed and think about short term gain (mmmm - steak!) rather than the long term (dying from bowel cancer). That makers me a typical human, but says absolutely zilch about the scientific facts of diet/life expectancy.

Andrew Alan McKenzie

One crystal!

This is how science works - lots of small bits of evidence (for the period in question and the antarctic measurement made on one ice crystal!) gradually clearing away layers of uncertainty - but it doesn't 'contradict the IPCC - the IPCC report basically said that there was a need for more evidence to be sure how Southern Hemisphere temperatures evolved over the last millenia. So research gets funded that shines a small light on this.

Unfortunately for naysayers, one line of thought is that if the MWP was warmer than we think, climate sensitivity iwould be greater than we think, so our releases of CO2 will have more effect, and we should be more alarmed, not less!

Supersonic silent biplane COMING SOON ...ish

Andrew Alan McKenzie

old news

Ha - this is old news - the Wright brothers were flying supersonic from Kitty hawk - there's clear evidence on film.


Toy Story: Mystic Met needs swanky new kit, swoon MPs

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Weather forecasting in the British Isles is easy, innit? you just need some damp seaweed because the weather is so predictable.

At least the Met Office actually collect data and forecast, and get it right pretty perfectly for the lead times that the inherent unpredictability of Atlantic weather allows. Comparing the Met Office to private forecasters is a bit like comparing a blogger to a journalist- 'why do we need journalists to report news - I can read talk to peoople down the pub and read news on Google and regurgitate it with my own opinion attached for free!'

Nissan Leaf electric car

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Two car households

Arguments against these cars on the basis of cost are fair enough, but arguments around range and the possibility of doing long journeys always seem to overlook the fact that lots of households (>30% in 2009 ) have access to more than one car, so having a short range electric for trips around town and a conventional motor for long trips is not so dumb.

'Free' laptop deals compared

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Really a bargain?

The O2 deal for an Asus UL30 looks a bit less of a bargain given that it was recently on sale for - £350 in car phone warehouse, where, although it is still listed on a home page at that price, it now seems to be a dead link. Still, had you bought at that price, the O2 deal would be costing £95 not saving £89. IMHO there is no such thing as a free lunch (or laptop).

Met Office: Global warming sceptics 'have heads in sand'

Andrew Alan McKenzie

Volcanoes are innocent

Don't blame the cuddly volcanoes - estimates for volcanic CO2 emissions are about 150 million tonnes per annum. Man's activity is responsible for 27 billion tonnes per annum. Sulphur aerosols from volcanoes can be shown to have a cooling effect, so I am drilling through the base of my hollowed out volcano to set off a super eruption and save the world!

Andrew Alan McKenzie
Paris Hilton

Qaulified to comment?

I agree with Pinkerton - why is climate change science an area where everyone can be their own expert? The science is complicated, and as befits complicated science most practitioners will have spent decades studying, in an environment where a questioning mind and innate scepticism are de-rigueur. But never mind - 10 minutes reading a tabloid newspaper or half an hour trawling the web will put you on a par!

Paris because I expect she is as well qualified in climatology as most commentators on these threads.