* Posts by Jonathan Richards

16 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Feb 2009

ISS re-wee tech triumph heralds golden showers in orbit

Jonathan Richards

Collecting from the rats

Given that you can't (probably) train a rat bouncing around in microgravity to use a miniature space-pisser, I suppose there must just be some way of extracting the moisture which appears in the murine environment (hopefully separated from the human environment). A worse possibility is my vision of six dozen pinioned and catheterized rodents doing their bit for recycling and the advancement of science, while wishing for a nice homely sewer somewhere.

Google throws secret auto-updater to open sorcerers

Jonathan Richards
Black Helicopters

Source is not enough

To be really sure that you know what Google Update is doing, you need to compile it yourself, and compare it to the binary that Google distributes. And, as is well known, you need to be able to trust the compiler, too. It all depends on how paranoid you want to be...

Helicopters: fwacka fwacka fwacka fwacka

Samsung phone named after northern city

Jonathan Richards

Not the town, the dog

I think the evil robo-dog in one of the Wallace and Grommit yarns was called Preston. That'll have been what was on Samsung's mind.

Arizona teen's mobile shops him to cops

Jonathan Richards
Black Helicopters

Re: Somebody then tipped off the local cops.

Dean H. wrote:

>If the phone (and perp) were located via the phone network, the cops had to be on to the call while it was in progress, not after.

No, I don't think so. While a mobile phone (cell phone) is switched on, it registers itself with surrounding cells. A call does not have to be in progress for this to be used to track the device by triangulation.


Linux on the desktop: cheap trick or pragmatist’s dream?

Jonathan Richards


Corrections: for Quite few options read Quite a few options.

For organisation's read organisations

For it does not lead read It does not lead

For way<space><comma> read way<comma>

For lead read led

For aplications read applications

For exersise read exercise.

For description of your contribution, delete all words between Quite and pointless.

Mormons demand ICANN plugs net smut hole

Jonathan Richards


<quote>Yarrow, who is also the chairman and largest shareholder of controversial Linux vendor SCO</quote>

Yarro, no dubya. But *Linux vendor*? Can it be that you don't know about SCO v IBM? SCO sells Unixware, and maintains that Linux 2.6 and beyond is a knockoff of their IP. They haven't sold/distributed Linux for bloody years. They're also in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the courts have ruled that they don't own the Unix copyrights. Sounds like a great company to be Chairman of.

Juror tweets could force retrial

Jonathan Richards
Thumb Up

Another victim of the spell chequer

<quote AC:>In the UK courts there are no "tests" to be on the jury. You just have to be on the Electoral Resistor. (I've done it four times. In one case one juror wanted to find innocent a Smack Head caught with with half a kilo of Smack! I was the Foreperson, so seance prevailed!)</quote>

The Electoral Resistor? Really? I thought it was the Voter's Variac.

As for having a seance to determine a verdict, that's just genius! I salute you, Foreperson!

Ofcom slaps Bristol radio for uncoolness

Jonathan Richards

'ere! City boy!

At least we'm capable of spelling "yokel", and putting an apostrophe in when we need un. You'm missing six of they little blighters by my count. Now bugger off.

Ice in fuel feed caused Heathrow 777 crash

Jonathan Richards


I wonder whether they've also registered G-YMMV?

BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers

Jonathan Richards

Making up the law

M'learned colleagues above, write:

... a defence of "preventing a crime"...


... precedent so that in future cases, could a defence of 'in the public interest' be used?...

FFS, people! Don't you know that Acts of Parliament have defences written into them, and "preventing a crime" isn't ever one of them? Don't you know that precedents are set by legal proceedings (trials, usually)? Who was asleep during General Studies, eh?

Commenting on stuff on the Interwebs is fun, but just having an opinion doesn't alter the law into something you think might be "fair".

Zhao 'C' - Chinese police computer says no

Jonathan Richards

@Jerome: undenary

"What's so special about checksumming in China...?"

A popular method of checksumming is to weight the digits by place value, and then compute the remainder modulo 11 to append as a check character. This technique reliably catches transposition errors.

If I remember correctly that's how the ISBN checksum is calculated, and it's certainly the way my employer handles my employee ID, although they go one further and map the check character to an alphabetic A-L (omitting I for obvious reasons).

US court urged to block warrantless GPS tracking

Jonathan Richards
Thumb Down

@AC: Goose and Gander

If... then...

No, I don't think so. Police forces exercise rights that the citizen doesn't have, e.g. the power of arrest [1], access to databases not open to the public, and so forth. The anserine symmetry you suggest just doesn't exist.

[1] The semi-mythical right of Citizen's Arrest is, in the UK at least, much more limited than lots of people believe. Use with care! IANAL, yadda yadda.

Three months on, you still can't get off the DNA database

Jonathan Richards

chmod -R u+rwx /

<quote>(8) The regulations may make provision amending, repealing, revoking or otherwise modifying any provision made by or under an Act (including this Act).


This is game over, if it's read literally. It's a rule making it possible for the Secretary of State to change any other rule. Repeat: ANY other rule. Think Data Protection Act, Official Secrets Act, Freedom of Information Act, oh, I don't know, Finance Act... "A regulation increasing income tax rates to 90%, amending the Finance Act 2009".

Who do they get to draft these things? Obviously, people who can't read what they're writing.

NASA talks little green men with Vatican

Jonathan Richards

Wonky maths

> "Suppose we took our 13.7 billion-year-old universe and condensed it to the age of a single year"

Ok, that works out to a scale speed of 434 years per second. The earliest dinosaurs were in the Triassic, 230 My, == 6 days ago, so Christmas [1] is right, but the oldest human remains are 195 ky, == 7.49 minutes, i.e 11:52 on New Year's Eve. Fr Coyne's God has been communicating since 11:59:50, rather than the last two seconds. So, useful analogy, but I think the maths is wonky. [2]

[1] That's unless you're Greek Orthodox, of course, but luckily for the experiment, Fr Coyne isn't.

[2] What do you mean, 'get out much'?

Dear Obama: Please consider open-source a waste of your time

Jonathan Richards
Thumb Up

Dear Dziuba

"Dear Obama", you wrote. How endearingly 19th century of you.

Satellites crash over Siberia: Iridium bird destroyed

Jonathan Richards

@Mark Willis - Newtonian mechanics

Weight is our interpretation of the gravitational attraction of masses towards the earth. Weight varies with distance from the planet, but mass is invariant (in Newtonian mechanics). Inertia is a property associated with mass, so the inertia, i.e. the tendency to continue in a straight line without change of velocity, is identical for a satellite in orbit and its twin at rest on the ground. Momentum is mass times velocity, and is a measure of energy, again independent of gravitational attractions.