* Posts by Chris Fryer

37 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Battery firm: iPhone could melt your brain

Chris Fryer


The Department of Trade and Industry reports 11,111 accidents involving telephones in 2002, the most recent year for which figures are available. 1,415 accidents were caused by batteries that same year. This contrasts with 2,829 accidents involving ironing boards, 513 involving biscuits and a mere 103 where a pillow case was implicated. Only 21 were hurt by a "zoo or circus animal".

Still, using the telephone seems safer than tangling with vegetables, which claimed 15,437 victims that year alone.

Aliens responsible for Italian machine uprising

Chris Fryer
Black Helicopters


Someone's fired up an Italian copy of the Z Machine:


Queues start a day ahead of UK iPhone arrival

Chris Fryer


No 3G, no MMS yadda yadda.

But... Will it Blend?


Babbling net software sparks international incident

Chris Fryer
Black Helicopters

Re: Of course it seems childish to us

I presume the Minister of the Interior is the one on the right :-)

A picture paints a thousand words, eh? Can you imagine an Arab working for the Home Office, or the Department of Homeland Security? Maybe if they were chained up in a bathtub, listening to Jihadist chatter à la Minority Report...

Phoenix hijacks Windows boot with instant-on

Chris Fryer

Re: Hibernate...

As has been said, saving the contents of RAM to the HDD is a bit of a bore, and probably a security risk. What's more, if you Hibernate an XP box from your session, you've effectively made your machine single-user only.

A neat trick might be to log out, then hibernate from the login screen. You'd save all that time spent booting you to the login screen, and presto! the multi-user OS you paid for.

Paris Hilton exits missionary position to save Universe

Chris Fryer

Paris Hilton: "Sayonara, Tutsi tots: I'm Nippon off to Tokyo."

You like?

Google's gives the world (another) Linux phone OS

Chris Fryer

Never going to be truly "Open" source

FCC regulations prohibit user configuration of software radios in case they are modified to operate outside their approved power-levels and frequencies.


This is the reason your Linux laptop needs ndiswrapper to run your Broadcom-based wireless LAN adapter.


Lords debate airline liquids ban

Chris Fryer

You missed the best bit

"Lord Elton: My Lords, what damage can be done by 105 millilitres of liquid that cannot be done by 100 millilitres of liquid?"

"Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, my briefing does not extend to that extra 50 millilitres, but I suspect that this is based on science. "

His grasp of arithmetic isn't much stronger than his scientific understanding, it would seem.

El Reg deploys (extra) comment icons

Chris Fryer


... collaborate and listen

New euro coin stuffs Turkey

Chris Fryer

You should see their money

Have a look at the obverse of the 20 Yeni Turk Lirasi:


Anatolia is all but obscured by Mustafa Kemal's right ear. The globe depicted is pretty well centred on western Europe. Can anyone guess where Turkey thinks its future lies?

787 unsafe, claims former Boeing engineer

Chris Fryer

Boeing unsafe? Fugeddabaoudit!

A new plane can only be A Good Thing (unless you're worried about your carbon footprint). There are some dodgy crates floating about out there already.

The DC-10's been covered. But I remember a horrifying hour spent aboard a Kampuchea Airlines flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. We rattled across the border in a Royal Air Cambodge hand-me-down L1011 TriStar. I was convinced every mile that passed took me closer to becoming an FAA statistic.

And there was Cubana's antique Antonov AN-24, which shot a ten-foot flame out of the starboard engine during take-off. No one else aboard seemed bothered, so I downed a few Cuba Libres and went to sleep. On landing, I did a passable impersonation of John Paul II.

Chernobyl to get new steel lid

Chris Fryer

Re: Re: Built in the first place

You quote from http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php?navID=10 when saying the reactor power level dropped to less that one percent "for unknown reasons".

I believe the current consensus is that the experiment protocol called for a reduction in power output to ~20%. However, this was only supposed to take place after the output had already been reduced to 50%. This had not been possible due to an earlier shortfall in grid supply caused by the failure of a power station elsewhere. The reactor was therefore running at normal output when the experiment began.

Reducing the power from 100% to 20% resulted in an increase in the fission poison product xenon-135, which absorbs neutrons. The resulting unexpected drop in reactor output was counteracted by withdrawing the control rods beyond recommended limits.

Additional increases in coolant flow, as called for by the experiment protocol, further reduced the reactor's output, since water also absorbs neutrons. The technicians responded by removing manual control rods. Although the reactor's output was now restored to its expected level, fission was to a large degree controlled by factors outside the technicians' control, i.e. xenon-135, which was eventually expended, and water, which was removed from the core by the design of the experiment itself.

The disaster, from the start of the experiment, to the steam explosion and resulting ignition of the graphite moderator, took approximately 43 seconds.

Sod robots, send people into space: report

Chris Fryer

Re: Am I missing something?

"didn't the Voyager missions engage just about anyone with a brain?"

It was better than Deep Space Nine, I suppose.

Pinwheel galaxy boasts edgy star formation

Chris Fryer

Logical positivism

"Also reflect on the fact that the General Relativity is a very strong base principle, always proven right experimentally, and yeti size deduction is a set of ad-hoc rules, never proven right experimentally."

Actually, both methods are epistemologically equal, from a logical positivist perspective. Neither method can ever be "proven right experimentally". They continute to stand as valid hypotheses because they have not yet been proven _wrong_ experimentally.

In terms of empirical data, though, a black hole just about shades it (boom boom) when compared to a Yeti. I believe we have "observed" black holes more often that Yetis.

Fancy an invisible dog that dances on stilts?

Chris Fryer

2 cures for baldness

Why "two cures for baldness that really work"? Surely if one works, there's no need for the second.

Or maybe the second one reverses the invisibility spell you accidentally cast on your syrup.

Viking ship resurfaces under Merseyside boozer

Chris Fryer


'For God's sake cover it up. We don't want an archaeological dig to stop the build.'

Best thing that could've happened to it. Archaeologists in the 1930s would have made a pig's breakfast of the thing, missing loads of interesting remains. In fact, unless there's a pressing need to remove the ship, e.g. because it'll be destroyed by imminent building works, it's best to leave it alone until it needs shifting, simply because excavation & recovery techniques will have improved in the future. As any archaeologist will tell you, this is the best excuse you can have for being a shiftless layabout.

BBC cans Planet Relief special

Chris Fryer

Raise consciousness

@Elisha Sessions

Good spot. If they're being truthful about the reasons for canning it, I say good. I'd much prefer some well-made documentaries from BBC Bristol to some fool comedians trying to "'raise consciousness' about the science of climate change". How can they possibly raise consciousness? Consuming any media these days means you can think of little else.

On the other hand, the BBC's science documentaries have been a bit patchy of late. Horizon's standards seem to have slipped to a particularly low level.

Racist Reg hacks slammed for 'vitriolic hatred'

Chris Fryer

Three for the price of one

This bloke is obviously a Dai-d in the wool Welsh Nationalist (groan)

I remember a story about an American who shows up in a pub in Scotland with the immortal greeting "Hello sheepshaggers!" One of the company stands up at the back and yells "That's Wales!"

"Wow!" says the American. "You guys must be really strong swimmers."

Anyway, the English are much more suspect in the sheep-bothering stakes. Where else do you find people with surnames like "Ramsbottom" and "Woolcock"?

Moller touts flying-saucer hovercar, again

Chris Fryer



Lester Haines did a piece on the Caspian Sea Monster last September in this very publication:


Boy racer cuffed for 140mph YouTube jaunt

Chris Fryer


That's an odd charge. "On suspicion of posting a video of himself..." kind of suggests the advertisement of his misdemeanour is the crime, rather than the actual speeding offence.

Google gags Facebook code leaker

Chris Fryer

Inconsistent line

"Facebook's spinners had taken the slightly inconsistent line that the code was useless and no security threat, but that posting it was super-illegal."

It's not really that inconsistent. They've just chosen to assert the rights afforded them by the DMCA, as the material is copyrighted and is not released under an Open-Source license.

The code itself is pretty innocuous. The developers have quite sensibly decided to abstract all their interesting stuff into lower-level functions, and the leaked code is just a bunch of API calls. Their "cease and desist" notices are probably prompted by the developers' equivalent of wondering whether they've left the iron on. Or maybe they're embarrassed by the comments:

"Holy shit, is this the cleanest fucking frontend file you've ever seen?!"

Yes, Mark. Yes it is.

AT&T censors Pearl Jam's anti-Bush sing-along

Chris Fryer


Late entry for FOTW from Alan Donaly.

Yangtze river dolphin is an ex-cetacean

Chris Fryer

Re: A disgrace

"The Yangtze River dolphin was an example of a creature that had been cut off from the rest of its kind (ie. cephalopods) for millions of years"

I'll say. The cephalopoda appeared in the fossil record around 550 million years ago, with the Nautiloids reaching their apogee during the Ordovician and Silurian periods. The cetacea, on the other hand, appeared in the Lower Eocene, some 500 million years later :-)

But I take your point. The Platanistidae (river dolphins) seem to have diverged from the rest of the toothed whales in the Lower Miocene, around 20 mya.

MIT in Matrix 'Crowd Farm' plan

Chris Fryer

Re: well...

@ crowd farmer

"We all know that you've got a lot of potential energy at the top and a good bit less at the bottom"

Seems to me this is where you got yourself in this particular pickle. The potential energy at the top of the staircase has been converted into, among other things, the kinetic energy used in getting to the bottom.

Let's rid ourselves of the inconvenient encumbrance of the staircase for the purposes of a thought experiment. You could use the potential energy of an individual at street level by putting them in a basket. This basket could be attached to a rope, with a pulley driving a flywheel. As the person descends to platform level, the flywheel drives a dynamo that powers the lights. That might be fun.

But then you have two problems:

- No way to get the basket back to the top, and

- A platform full of people who are trying to get out of the station.

Unless, of course, you decide to expend some energy getting the basket and the passengers back to street level.

Like lunch, there's no such thing as free energy, it seems.

Chris Fryer


"One of the most efficient ways for human beings to generate power by muscular effort is on stationary pedal cycles"

Why not cut out the middle man, and drop the "stationary" part? Apart from the energy used in the manufacture, assembly and initial transport of my bike, the only fuel it needs is Shreddies.

While we're talking efficiencies, my journey to work on public transport (tube or bus) is guaranteed to take at least 45 minutes. If I hop on the trusty steed, it takes me 25 minutes.

Unfortunately this kind of thinking doesn't win you any wanky architecture prizes. It might just lead to a sensible integrated transport policy, though.

Qantas spunks AU$100m on 'pterodactyl'

Chris Fryer

How many airlines in the universe begin with Q for F%$£'s sake!!?

Seven. Qantas, Qatar Airways, Qeshm Air, Qiantang Air, Quadrotour-Aero, Queensland Regional Airlines and Quick Airways Holland.

Qantas is a good acronym to know for pub quizzes. You'd be surprised how many people get it wrong.

Crazed NZ fanboy mows down churchgoer

Chris Fryer

Beware the man of one iBook

"Today also my complaint is bitter, his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would give heed to me. There an upright man could reason with him, and I should be acquitted for ever by my judge."

Job, Ch. 23, v i - vii

Burned by a MacBook

Chris Fryer

Play your cards right

I'm impressed you weren't tempted to play the "I'm a tech journalist, so sort this out sharpish or I'll write you up" card. If you did, and this was the result, heaven help us non-journo types.

US ocelots on the brink

Chris Fryer

Re: Joke

That ocelot joke is partly responsible for Bill Clinton's election to the US presidency. Dan "Potatoe" Quayle reportedly passed George HW Bush a note bearing that joke during extremely delicate negotiations with some foreign power or other.

When Bush later yakked into Kiichi Miyazawa's lap, people began to realize that this clown Quayle would assume the presidency should the old man pop his clogs. One quick saxophone serenade later, Hillary was choosing the curtains for the Oval Office.

Google slapped with libel claim

Chris Fryer

It's worked


"In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org."

'al-Qaeda' puts on big shoes, red nose, takes custard pie

Chris Fryer

Silly Season

There's nothing newsworthy going on now that GB has ascended to the throne. This petrol-bombing caper is manna from heaven for the TV and papers. Another excuse for a pointless satellite link-up to a junior reporter "live at the scene".

Icebergs collect mini ecosystems, lock up carbon

Chris Fryer


So global warming can actually mitigate global warming. Weird.

Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking

Chris Fryer


A perfect balance between CO2 uptake and O2 release during photosynthesis, and CO2 release and O2 uptake during respiration, depends on the system being in equilibrium, i.e. it presupposes that organisms do not grow, do not reproduce faster than they die, and that carbon laid down in tissue is subsequently released in decomposition by other organisms.

Vast swamp forests thrived during the Carboniferous period (c. 300 mya). These trees had fairly rudimentary root systems, so had the tendency to fall over, and resisted decomposition due to the anaerobic conditions in the swamp water. The carbon locked up in the lignin and cellulose of the trees remained sequestered underground as coal.

There is evidence that by the Carboniferous/Permian boundary, global temperatures had declined by 10°C. It is likely that the reduction in atmospheric CO2 by the Carboniferous trees contributed to this decline. The fact that we're releasing all this ancient carbon back into the atmosphere without enormous tracts of wobbly swamp-forest to suck it back up again has resulted in the present panic. Why is this proving so difficult to understand?

NASA blows whistle on Antarctic Y2K (+5) meltdown

Chris Fryer

Read it and weep

I'm getting bored with these armchair climatologists who claim there's still "uncertainty" and "debate" on whether anthropogenic climate change is a reality. So are the publishers of popular-science journals:


Was Gerry Adams in the IRA? Don't ask Wikipedia

Chris Fryer

"B" for effort

The discussion pages are, almost without exception, light-years ahead of the main articles in terms of interest.

And they should do away with that silly quality scheme. "A serious student or researcher trying to use the material would have trouble doing so, or would risk error in derivative work" pretty much sums up the whole site.

Space shuttle crashes in Alabama

Chris Fryer

Not part of the Shuttle?

I love being pedantic. The SRBs are indeed "part of the shuttle". When people think of the Space Shuttle, they picture the black-and-white thingy that looks like a stubby aeroplane. However this, according to NASA, is the Orbiter. "The Shuttle" refers to the whole shebang: Solid Rocket Boosters, the External Tank and the Orbiter.


Because of this confusion, NASA has recently started referring to the vehicle as the "Space Shuttle system".

If Google kills penguins, is it doing evil?

Chris Fryer

DC for DCs?

More numbers for you to argue over: New Scientist quotes Digital Power Group, a Washington DC-based energy research firm, who claim 10% of electricity currently generated in the US is consumed by computers. Servers, specifically, use 14.8 TWH, according to 2004 figures from the Electric Power Research Institute in California.

A lot of this power is used on cooling, because every single server has its own rectifying power supply to provide direct current, and these generate heat. Even more ludicrously, the mains AC supply in a datacentre is usually rectified to charge the battery-backed UPS, and then converted back to AC for the servers. If all of these could be replaced by one rectification unit that supplies direct current to the entire datacentre, you'd slash cooling costs at a stroke. The trouble is, no-one is yet making DC power supplies for servers.


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