* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

9722 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Data breach reveals distressing info: People who order pineapple on pizza

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Re: I don't understand...

Curry sauce as a condiment is the devil's spunk.K

Putting anything liquid on chips is an abomination. The things are deep fried in order to make them nice and crispy on the outside, while being fluffy in the middle. Even vinegar only works under precisely controlled conditions. Which is why chips shouldn't be served in boxes, or horrible polystyrene trays, they should be wrapped in paper! Like a beautiful Christmas present, but smelling of beef dripping and vinegar.

But a nice side of ketchup for dipping is also good, curry or otherwise. Curry sauce or gravy is not good at all.

Perhaps a little battered sausage as well? Or a lovely piece of battered haddock.

...Wanders off to happy place...

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Re: Pineapple on pizza...

It is absolutely bloody delicious.

But not a meal where you're under any illusions about the healthiness of your meal choices. Goes down rather nicely with a pint or two of ale.

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Re: Pineapple on pizza...

It's not the best. But I do like a bit of ham and pineapple sometimes. I think my favourite is Fiorentina. Which is a good, credible choice that establishes my pizza bona-fides. On the other hand it's spinach and egg - so plenty of people are disgusted by it.

However, I do have a shameful secret. Delicious but shameful. A local pub does a pizza cone.

Take one margerita pizza. Wrap it into a cone shape, like a paper cone. Fill said cone with chips, bacon and cheese sauce. Serve on a specially made conical metal holder thing that has two sauce bowls. One with bbq sauce to dip the chips, the other with garlic mayo for bits of crust.

I expect a crack team of Italian special forces to raid the pub any moment - and torture everyone involved, before returning them to Italy for life imprisonment or execution. And if they can get the customer list, I guess I'll never be allowed into Italy again. But it really is very nice.

And yes, I am appropriately ashamed.

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I have been made aware of a man who eats Marmite, peanut butter and jam mixed on his crumpets.

I like to think I'm a liberal, reasonable and tolerant man. But hangin's too good for 'im!

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Re: I don't understand...

Proper Brussels friteries have curry ketchup. Which is the condiment of the Gods.

Second preference would be proper salt and vinegar. But that only works if the chips are served in proper newsprint. Ink optional, it's the paper that means you can get enough vinegar on to flavour them, while there's still something absorbent there to stop them going disgusting and soggy.

Third choice ketchup.

Mayo isn't right. Too oily perhaps? If I'm doing that, then salad cream is way nicer, for the extra vinegar hit. Though to be fair, I haven't had salad cream since I was a teenager, so it could be the nostalgia speaking.

Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! I've not had salad cream this century! I might be getting just a teensy bit old!

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Re: Having grown up in Hawaii

Of course "real" pizza should only have tomato, mozzarella and basil....

I prefer pepperoni. Basil makes the pizza tastes a bit... Long-piggy.

Russian allegedly smuggled US weapons electronics to Moscow

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Re: Why bother?

I'm not sure calling Russians "Orcs" is racism, particularly if done by Ukrainians, a majority of whom are basically the same ethnic group. Had history turned out differently the capital of Russia might still have been Kyiv/Kiev. Although from the outside I don't claim to understand the culture. Belarus seems like it should be even more culturally similar to Russia, and yet that separated off after the end of the Soviet Union, and Belarussians don't seem eager to rejoin. Could there be a different version of history where a separate Ukrainian identity merged with a Russian one? Or is that just Soviet nostalgia and Russian wishful thinking?

I think calling Russians orcs is wrong. But the Russian army and government have certainly done a lot to deserve that reputation in the last 30 years. Since the Chechen wars the Russian army has done nothing wage brutal but incompetent wars with mass civilian casualties and allowed it's soldiers to commit mass rape. In the second Chechen war large numbers of the Russian army supplemented their terrible wages by kidnapping the locals and ransoming them back. When they didn't just murder them anyway. And that was in their off hours. When they weren't levelling whole towns and cities with mass artillery bombardment in their working hours. And those neighbours they haven't invaded, their government regularly threatens. Plus of course using their intelligence services for targetted murders and blowing up the odd arms warehouse. Supporting the Syrian government in slaughtering and gassing their own population, using both chemical and radiological weapons in the UK, kidnapping childern in Ukraine and sending them to Russia to be "re-educated". Plus the well-documented death-squads they sent to Ukraine. And invasion they planned utterly piss-poorly, and failed to tell some of their own troops they were due to invade, and yet had the death squads prepped and ready to go and murder Ukrainian local government and civic leaders in the bits they captured.

Russia is going to have to do a lot to live down its recent history. It might do well to learn from Germany in particular. OK their genocidal policies in Ukraine have been of the mild variety, the wholesale destruction of civilian targets, ethnic cleansing, targetted murders of local political leadership in order to further an occupation that they were unable to maintain militarily, a bit of light kidnapping of children and forcing children in occupied areas to only learn in Russian under threat of kidnapping. It's no holocaust. Although Stalin did of course kill millions of Ukrainians with a targetted famine in the 30s, and deported the Crimean Tartars en masse to Siberia in 1941, where about a third of them died - so that doesn't exactly help.

Putin has ensured that Russians are going to suffer from collective abuse for a while. And like the Germans under Hitler, quite a few Russians actively support the crimes of the regime and the rest of the people are going to have to find a way to live that down.

As for your comparison of the MARS/M142 / HIMARS/M270 system to Grad, you're just being silly. I think the Russians invented multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) in World War II - the Allies used similar rocket artillery as part of amphibious invasions, but not in general operations. That was what the original NATO system was back in the 70s, when it was introduced. Unguided rockets with cluster munitions. And that seems to be what the Russian systems still are. With added incendiary warheads that Russia have made excellent use of in bombing cities, as well as sometimes even using them on military targets.

But NATO don't use them as the grid square removal company, like they used to - and the way Russia still does. Too many of the sub-munitions failed to go off, so the ammo was withdrawn. For mass-effect but inaccurate area bombardment NATO is more likely to use artillery. Although I think the US have a fragmentation warhead that nobody in Europe has bought for theirs yet. Even artillery is becoming a precision weapon, with laser-guided and GPS guided shells.

The updated GIMLRS guided missiles is how Ukraine were able to use HIMARS to make the bridges in Kherson unusable with precision strikes. You could measure the regular spacing between hits in some of the photos I saw. We didn't give Ukraine unguided rockets, but then they have their own ex-Soviet GRADs for that.

As for Challenger, we don't need to supply that to Ukraine. We only sent 14 because nobody else would do it. Once resistance was broken, the Leopards got sent in larger numbers, which is the better tank for Ukraine anyway. Being lighter and more plentiful. Abrams are also plentiful, but more expensive, heavier and with higher maintenance requirements. I don't think we need a large number of tanks, given they were most likely only going to be needed to defend Eastern Europe from Russia. And Russia is a tad short of tanks nowadays. Though we're currently building the Ajax, which is 40 tonnes, so if we need more than the 150-odd Challenger 3s we're making - building the hull is the easy bit. The upgrade already involves new power trains, new turrets, new electronics - and in fact new updated armour. From Chobbham / Dorchester to Epsom (IIRC) - the armour on Challenger is modular, weirdly. We couldn't build more in a hurry. But we don't need more in a hurry. If Ukraine desperately need new tanks, we'd just have to buy them Leopards or Abrams. Personally I think we need 5 more frigates, 5 more subs and and a couple more destroyers, more than we need more tanks. And it looks like that's how we'll spend our money. And if that's paid for, I'd say our next priority would be another batch of Typhoons and/or a few more F35s. NATO doesn't need us to produce more tank divisions. Poland has that covered.

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Re: "We are laser-focused on rooting out the procurement networks fueling the Russian war machine"

How telling the arms manufacturers they can donate to the Ukrainian conflict only they won't get paid.

The arms manufacturers are making very little out of the Ukraine war directly. Mostly the vast sums of cash attributed to our donations to Ukraine are government accounting. We're giving them old tanks and infantry vehicles and then couting the current purchase price of a new one as the value of the aid we've given Ukraine.

We've given them a few new bits of kit, e.g. NASAMS air defence systems, that have either been manufactured for the purpose or were new in service with us so we've given Ukraine ours and then immediately bought replacements. But mostly it's been stuff our forces had in long-term storage or were due for replacement anyway. Even with missiles we've been donating the stuff that's about to reach its use-by date - and so will either need to be fired off in exercises or expensively re-manufactured and brought up to the latest standards.

The only area where we're reallly paying out the cash is artillery ammunition. We've run our stocks to the bare minimum before our generals start crying and been scouring the world to buy whatever we can grab - particularly of the ex Soviet calibres that are only made in small-ish numbers in Eastern Europe - and the Russians aren't selling.

So having donated them some of our old spare artillery, as well as some of the new shinies - we're now paying out a few billion to upgrade our factories to the level they should have been at before in order to service our war stocks. However even that is only something like a couple of billion from the US and a billion in the EU - I think the UK has bunged half a billion to BAe to get the Geordies to knock us up a few more rounds as well.

Global arms manufacturers are doing well because stupid Western (read mostly stupid European) governments that have been refusing to update their forces' equipment or recognise the threats from Russia and China, have just woken up and smelled the coffee. They've had a fright and now they're doing their jobs properly again, at least for a while.

The reason this war is dragging on is because Putin is too pig-headed or too stupid to realise that he's already lost. Or because he's not actual a Russian patriot at all, and realises that the best thing for Russia is to make peace and leave Ukraine - but won't because he fears it'll be the end of his regime.

Admittedly if we'd flooded Ukraine with weapons in 2022 - maybe he'd have got that message earlier. But then people were genuinely worried that he might go nuclear, so I can understand why caution played out. Although of course the real thing to stop this war dragging on would have been to give Ukraine $5 billion of advanced weapons after 2014 - to make the point to Putin's regime that aggression has consequences - and to make Ukraine too scary a target to attack. But of course that might upset your stupid narrative that this war is somehow the fault of anyone except Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - who started it and continues it, despite it being a disaster for both his country and Ukraine.

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Re: Why bother?

I can't think of a single piece of current Russian military tech that is even on a par with current Western tech, if not several generations behind it. Which wasn't true in the days of the Soviet Union, where they were ahead in several areas - particularly in the 50s and 60s.

One area where Russia was thought to be still in the top tier was their air defence tech. But that has not done very well during this war. Even 20 year old tech like Storm Shadow / SCALP appears to be able to attack well defended targets at will. It's a low level cruise missile - so only air defence at the target (or its unlucky enough to come across en route) is a threat to it. It's shaped to reduce its radar cross section, but doesn't have other stealth tech. We've also only shipped the early versions - because the later ones are longer ranged and we've signed treaties that we won't sell cruise missiles with more than 300km range. It's also not been terrible good at shooting down volleys of HIMARS rockets aimed at defended bridges. A faster target, but one not flying at low level, so there's loads of time to deal with it.

Now partly this has been Ukraine using decoy missiles and attacking search radars to blind Russia's air defences at crucial times. So it could be as much poor operation / training as poor technology. But these are the technologies designed to deal with the last of the Soviet systems still being highly effective against updates of those.

The one are Russia might still be a ahead in is electronic warfare. But as an amateur its even harder to work out what's going on there than in other military fields. And even there, they don't seem to have trained with their own kit, so that Russia was as hampered at the start of the Ukraine war by it's own EW as the Ukrainians were. Leading to them being forced to switch a lot of it off.

Meanwhile the Russian air force - which has had a lot of updated kit - has been incredibly ineffective. Despite being the bit of the Russian forces that has got the most recent combat experience in Syria - where it was quite effective. But I guess bombing hospitals against civilian rebels with no air defence is pretty easy - whereas bombing hospitals in Ukraine requires fighting ex Soviet air defence kit, so they've had to resort to lobbing drones and missiles from inside Russia. With seemingly poor to mixed results.

The Russian navy has probably had the most investment since Soviet times. And had some of the best air defence kit to start with. And yet seem to have lost a cruiser, a couple of amphibious landing ships and a submarine, plus a modern missile covette and destroyer damaged - to a country that doesn't have a navy.

We straight copied good ideas from the Soviets, like the BMP 1 infantry fighting vehicle, which caused us to develop the Bradley, Marder and Warrior IFVs and I believe the Soviets had helmet cued missile firing in planes decades before the West. I can't think of much we're trying to copy at the moment.

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Re: "We are laser-focused on rooting out the procurement networks fueling the Russian war machine"

If rats leave sinking ships, what leaves sinking aeroplanes?

BT confirms it's switching off 3G in UK from Jan next year

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Re: Just switch it off .... no one will notice .... :)

Without 3G, will granny be able to call you?

She might not be able to fix her own stuff. But if things like the TV don't work, or she loses her ability to communicate with the grandchildren, she'll find a way to contact me to get it fixed. Whatever it takes. She cannot be reasoned with, she cannon be bargained with, and she just will not stop.

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Re: Just switch it off .... no one will notice .... :)

My mother is a grandmother. So how come she doesn't take such a relaxed attitude to broken technology? I do get dinner and a chat out of it, so mustn't grumble. But if technology breaks I get a phonecall asking for help fixing it, and then the dinner invite to come up and actually fix it.

Maybe it's just the grandchildren that are never to be bothered? I notice they do far better in terms of puddings and sweets than we ever did. So perhaps they suffer less in terms of tech support as well?

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Re: Elderly and Vulnerable?

I can recommend the Unihertz Titan range. linky to website

Doing tech support for the olds (in their mid-80s) one's on an iPhone the other hates touch screens, partly due to arthritic hands - and is on the Titan slim. He found a ten year-old (brand new still in shrink) Blackberry for not as cheap as it should have been on Amazon. I had a look at setting it up for him, before sending it back. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the keyboard, even though I hate them, due to fat fingers. And can now understand why they cost so much back in the day, that was some impressive engineering. Andrew Orlowski was always singing BB's praises. Andrew O the Jonah of mobile phone technologies...

Anyway I was quite impressed with the Titan. The keyboard is nowhere near as nice/elegant as the Blackberry ones, but it's perfectly decent. And you seem to be able to mostly use the phone without being forced to use the touch screen, if you don't want to. They're still bodging a touch screen onto Android, so it's not as integrated or functional as the old Blackberry days, but then those days have passed. And he's still happily using it a year later, I've had no complaints - and he's not gone out and bought an upgrade - which he has a tendency to do. So he's obviously a happy camper.

The techy friend who put me onto Titan also has one. Another Jonah, like Orlowski. He's still soldiering on with his beloved Palm Pre, until they turn off 3G, and he's forced to stop. But he's played with it and declares himself satisfied.

I haven't seen any other keyboard types. And Titan are available on Amazon, so you can sent it back if you're not happy.

International Criminal Court hit in cyber-attack amid Russia war crimes probe

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Re: So who does recognise the international Cricket council (ahem) ICC


Well you say no-one upholds ICC warrants. But when Putin was going to go to the BRICS conference in South Africa - he cancelled at the last minute. Because the opposition challenged the government in the courts, that they would have to implement the ICC arrest warrant, and the courts ruled they would. So he had to address his own conference by video call, and stay home to avoid arrest. Embarrassing, but funny.

So in reality, what you should have said is that the ICC issues warrants that some people uphold. And it has brought some war crimials to justice. It is however not a perfect institution. Personally I'm not even sure it's a good idea. Sometimes it's better to end a conflict with a dirty deal and save lives, rather than get justice for the victims. That's what diplomacy is for. But on the other hand it's an institution that's done some good and ruined the lives of some truly evil people, and maybe put the fear into some others - while also getting open information out there about their crimes, that might make future conflicts less likely - or at least allow some people to find out an approximation of the truth in sectarian conflicts where there's little reliable information.

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Re: How International is international

Ah, but Ukraine do recognise it. And Putin chose to kidnap those children from Ukraine. Where the ICC has jurisdiction. Oops!

If anyone finds an $80M F-35 stealth fighter, please call the Pentagon

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Re: I could have understood not mentioning it if it was a Starfighter

Peter Gathercole,

The aim was never, so far as I was aware, to build an entire fleet of F35s. Stealth is more expensive, and imposes limitations on the physical design of the aircraft. Plus it's only needed in specific circumstances. Also the F35 is only stealthy with a light bomb load. Fill the wings with bombs and I'd imagine it's more stealthy than an F15E with a wingload of bombs, but probably not by enough to matter all that much. So for those ciircumstances, why not have the cheaper aircraft?

especially the latter, being 'upgraded' to give them the capabilities that were promised when they were built.

This is just a basic misunderstanding or military purchasing. Almost nothing is bought nowadays with its final abilities installed. Or even exisiting. Everything is designed with development in mind.

The Block 4 upgrade for F35 involved a new radar that was in development and had a requirement for new higher power levels, which required an engine upgrade. This meant it was late - should have come in a bit before 2020 I think - now isn't due until next year. Or the year after. The fact that it was called Block 4 should be a clue that it wasn't meant to be included in the original aircraft purchased.

This is the same thing that happened with Typhoon. The Tranche 1s were to be air-to-air only, with an "austere" air-to-ground capability. We're now up to Tranche 4, which Italy and Germany have just ordered a bunch of. Which has a new all-singing-all-dancing radar and all sorts of electronic warfare goodies.

I believe they call it spiral development. You keep improving the tech, and often are able to retrofit the new tech into at least some of the older models. For something like Typhoon, or F35, that are expected to have a 50 year service life, this is entirely unsurprising.

When the first F15s came along we were replacing whole classes of combat aircraft after 10-20 years. Nowadays we're building airframes that last a lot longer, and we're designing in space for upgrades, with plans to keep individual planes around for at least 20-30 years. Or if you're a B52 model H, built in the 70s, we're replacing your engines with the plan to keep you flying for the next 40 years.

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Re: I could have understood not mentioning it if it was a Starfighter

The F35 has been in operational service for almost ten years. There have been 7 crashes to date, out of 965 aircraft built.

Admittedly that's only from a quick Google, but seems about right from stuff I've read. And at least a couple of those crashes were test flights.

The problem with the F35 is cost and delays. The idea that it's either dangerous or crap is ridiculous.

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Serious Error in the Article

Dear El Reg,

You have made a major error in this article.

You stated that the F35 was worth $80m. Might I suggest that this is unlikely to be true anymore. And that after it comes to rest, either in the lake or on the ground, that the repair bill is going to be a considerable fraction of (if not more than) the original value.

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Re: May I patent a solution?

They normally are bright orange.

I think this was a tired deck crew on the run back from a 9 month long deployment, where they'd had almost no shore leave because of Covid. And so the way to deal with it will be better procedures. Or robot ground crew I suppose...

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Re: Harrier GR5 ZD325

I think there have been quite a few cases of pilots ejecting - only for the ejection to cause the plane to recover from the "unrecoverable" spin that caused them to pull the handle - and so the plane has merrily flown off into the distance as they float down on their parachutes feeling a bit silly.

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Re: Extinct Volcano?

Stealth isn't magic. It doesn't work in all directions, and it doesn't make you radar invisible. Just harder to detect. And you have to design your flight profile carefully to avoid getting spotted.

But the idea of air tactics is to get your shot off at the enemy, before they can shoot at you. And then they're hopefully dead before you can accidentally end up in a fair fight. The same is true for SEAD/DEAD (suppression / destruction of enemy air defences). Can you get in missile range of that SAM battery before it can fire one of its missiles at you.

If you get careless, like that F117 over Serbia, where they apparently flew the same route for at least a week - then your magic stealth I-Win button stops working. And then your life becomes increasingly interesting.

I think it's a big clue that European countries are still buying F35. Given that their air forces have been excercising against F35 equipped forces for a few years now. So they must have an idea that it's worth it. Although admittedly the alternatives aren't much cheaper. Cheaper to operate, but the sticker price is similar. A quick Google suggests a new F16 is $65m whereas a Typhoon, Rafale or F35 is probably $80-90m. These being extremely unreliable approximations. I'd imagine an F15X is going to be similar too.

But there are enough independent people buying into stealth to suggest that it's real, and that talk of it being rubbish is inspired by deliberate controversialists or in some cases directly by Russia, who don't have it and therefore want to rubbish it. There were a remarkable number of so-called Western "experts" who used to go on Russia Today to tell us all how shit the F35 is.

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Re: I could have understood not mentioning it if it was a Starfighter

Jellied Eel,

The US GAO is very open about the problems with the F35 program. But that doesn't mean it's been a failure. It just means it's been even more expensive than originally planned, and delayed. And the software is extremely hard to update. But you can now buy an F35 for somewhere around $85m - which is about what the most up-to-date Typhoon would cost. Both aircraft are very similar in their avionics capabilities, including sneaky radars that can do electronic attack / electronic warfare at the same time as being very good radars. However the F35 is even better at "sensor fusion" than the Typhoon - that's collating lots of intelligence into integrated and easily readable information for the pilot - and it's noticeable that the F35 is now selling like hot cakes. So it can't be all bad. It's also got stealth, unlike any other plane you can buy - F22 isn't in production and B21 isn't for sale (even if anyone else could afford them). However the F35 costs several times as much per flight hour - some of which is because the tech isn't mature (it was supposed to be cheaper) and some of which is the downsides of stealth coatings.

Supposedly the B21 has a super stealth coating that won't need regular (and expensive) maintenance. I'll believe that when I see it.

Also curious how current events will change aircraft development. So there's been much news about the F-16s recently, which have a reputation for being a bit delicate and need a lot of logistics. The F-35 seems to be all that and more, so if simpler, more rugged designs like Saab's Gripen will be the future.

I'd say that the war in Ukraine has shown the value of stealth tech even more starkly. The Russian air force is over ten times the size of Ukraine's, and yet has entirely failed to be able to operate over Ukrainian air space - or knock out such a small, mostly obsolete, force. Admittedly Ukraine have suffered losses and also have probably doubled the size of their force with loads of spares and whole jets from Eastern European NATO members.

But the Russian air force has been mostly reduced to patrolling and lobbing missiles (mostly at civilian targets) from inside Russia. And that's against Ukraine's integrated air defence, which has inferior equipment to Russia's, and smaller numbers. If you want to fight an air war, and NATO do - being far more reliant on air power than the artillery-heavy Russians, then you need to be dealing with those air defences. Something NATO train for, and the Russians supposedly don't. Germany and Italy are even buying the ECR version of the Typhoon - specifically designed for suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD). As well as F35s - which are designed for the same job. The UK were already in the middle of updating our existing Typhoons to a similar standard and operate F35.

Gripen was designed by Sweden to operate in austere conditions (from under specially strenghened road bridges), with small crews of reservists where only a couple of the maintainers needed to be fully trained. And with just basic tools. And that's because they were expecting to be fighting the Soviets - and heavily outnumbered. So it would be the ideal plane for Ukraine. The reason they're getting F16 is not because it's best for them, but because there are loads of spare ones.

But what you need for defending yourself at home, is different to what you might need if you're defending an ally overseas. And I think the ideal is to have a mix. Lots of affordable 4th generation stuff, and enough stealth jets to allow them to take apart the enemy's air defence network, and make the fight against the enemy air force as unfair as possible.

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Re: I could have understood not mentioning it if it was a Starfighter


Did the rolling landing for the 'C' variant (used by the Brits) solve the issue of maybe having to dump munitions before landing on the carrier in hot climates?


Not sure, but almost certainly yes. Although it's the B (STOVL) variant by the way. I've seen film of it done on a TV program - so it's obviously been done by test pilots. But the program to make sure it's viable in actual operations is only starting now. Prince of Wales is in the US for trials of this (SRVL), as well as various drone testing.

The F35 can I believe already carry more munitions back to the carrier than the Harrier, and at greater ranges - but it makes sense to learn the limits of what's possible. I'm sure you can always carry more. And of course if you're providing top-cover for troops on the ground, you need to be able to carry a wingload of bombs - but you might not have a target to drop them on, and it's a waste to chuck them into the sea. The more you carry, the more air-support you can give at short notice.

F35 is also a weird design. It can only carry a small weapons payload (in its internal weapons bay) and remain stealthy. Physical size is the limit here, not weight. So it's designed to be dropping small amounts of precision ordnance on the enemy's air defence network for the first part of any peer-level conflict. And only carry the big stick once that threat is dealt with. I'd imagine peer naval warfare is similar, given that everything I've read suggests that the best air defence kit available is deployed on warships.

Apple's iPhone 12 woes spread as Belgium, Germany, Netherlands weigh in

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Re: Testing is easy?

What, you can't fry an egg on an iPhone?

Sure you can! Just set fire to the battery, put your frying pan on top. Job's a good'un!

US Air Force wants $6B to build 2,000 AI-powered drones

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Re: They are getting part of a clue


The US have both. They’ve already deployed Switchblade in large numbers, and other small squad level drones. And lots of these have been gifted to Ukraine.

RUSI have done some excellent reporting on the drone war in Ukraine. The last thing I read suggested that Ukrainian frontline troops often preferred the el cheapo AliExpress drones, because they were used to them, and they were easier to use. This may be a training issue, or it may be that the NATO forces are over-complicating their requirements and are buying too many bells and whistles? Or a mix of both. Many lessons will be learned. However electronic warfare takes a heavy toll on drones, and sometimes whole sectors of the battlefield are denied to both sides drones. And that’s where spending the big bucks pays off.

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Re: They are getting part of a clue

The lasers work. But don’t seem to have got out of the prototype stage. I wonder if they can’t get the rate of fire required? Or if it’s reliability problems?

We’ve still got radar controlled Gatling guns on ships. The UK, and I think the US also, took some and mounted them on trucks for base protection in Afghanistan. I think ours were given back to the Royal Navy. But the tech could easily be put on the battlefield. Germany mothballed their Gepards years ago. Then gave some to Ukraine. Which are doing admirable service on the frontline, and defending cities. But quick and dirty truck mounted units are easily possible. I suspect lasers are still a few years off. And may have too high power requirements. Unless there are anti-drone ones, too small to shoot down full-sized aircraft.

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Re: What could possibly...

How will they determine friend or foe?

The same way current fighter pilots do, probably. That is IFF transponders and aircraft recognition.

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Re: Not about Ukraine

What about Canada and mooses?

Such an un-gallant way to refer to Canadian womanhood...

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Re: They are getting part of a clue


$400 drones are incredibly limited. In Ukraine, these are used for very short range reconaissance and to drop a few grenades. They're also incredibly vulnerable to electronic warfare, and can be relatively easily shot down. Hence the average drone in Ukraine last less than a week. Which is fine, they're cheap - and there are loads of them.

They're not much of a threat to combat aircraft. I'd imagine the radar guided gatling gun is going to be making a return to many armies, as a way to deal with these.

For some long range strike missions we already use cruise missiles. Which are basically cheap (ish), single-use aircraft. But they're less useful for complex missions, and you only get to use them once.

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Re: $5.8 billion

However, before we start speculating about having an air force one million AI drones strong, we do need to consider some of the problems.

The self-flying aircraft bit is relatively easy. It's pretty much a solved problem, and unlike self-driving cars you don't have quite so many other road-users to deal with. Which is why self-driving cars aren't going to be in general use for years - but there are already various unmanned drones in operation that are remotely piloted for some (but not all) of the time.

Pilots cost a few million to train. So they're expensive, and hard to retain, since they then have valuable skills.

But if we're really only getting rid of pilots in order to avoid them getting killed and to allow the drone aircraft to make higher G turns, then we're still stuck with having to buy umpty-million dollar aircraft - to do all the fancy things that umpty-million dollar aircraft do. Sure there's a need for el-cheapo things like Bayraktar or Reaper, to just circle over the combat zone and observe, plus drop the odd missile. But as the war in Ukraine has shown, they're not very useful in peer-to-peer conflict. They're not even that useful in near-peer conflict. They're too easy to shoot down.

But the shiny fast jets that do long-range strike, air superiority or SEAD/DEAD suppression/destruction of enemy air defence - those will have to have stealth capabilites, long range, even higher G tolerance (hence composite materials), plus honking great gas-guzzling jet engines. All very expensive. All also requiring very expensive maintenance, also by highly-trained ground crews. And the more aircraft you need, the more maintenance crews you need, the more airfields you require, which need to be manned, guarded, and maintained.

Plus, even if we've totally removed any pilots from the equation, you'll still need people to run the communications. Troubleshoot the AIs. Command the operations. Plus plan the air operations, and do the intelligence work to know what air operations to plan etc.

I don't think any major air force is currently predicting the phasing out of human pilots. What they're planning for is cheaper aircraft to operate as force-multipliers for the expensive, manned stealth aircraft. Some of them may be as capable as the best manned aircraft, but others will be much more limited. The US Navy have a working prototype of a carrier based air-to-air refeulling drone, for example. Which saves airframe life of your expensive strike jets playing tanker if your carrier is out of range of land-based tanker assets.

Then you've got cheap and cheerful stuff like the Iranian Shahed (around $100k each I believe), that Russia are using so heavily in Ukraine. It's either a re-usable recon drone, or a missile. Up to the more expensive recon drones with optional missiles that NATO countries use, which are still prop-driven but have better sensors and cost a few million a pop.

Once you stick jets on your drones, and give them a few thousand miles of range, and the sensors and weapons required to do all the things that fast jets do, then they're suddenly going to cost what fast jets do. $40,000 per flight hour for an F35. I believe that's the cheapest stealth aircraft to operate, and supposedly the B21 will have fewer problems with maintaining the stealth coatings - so presumably this will come down in future. 4th gen aircraft are cheaper - but still ruinously expensive - to operate.

Silicon Valley billionaires secretly buy up land for new California city

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It's still better than Luton, or Bedford.

Also, I rather happen to like a good roundabout...

Infosys launches 'sonic identity' – an aural logo to 'reinforce brand purpose'

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Notes from a marketing meeting

Sack the writer! That music was far too interesting. We need something far blander.

What? Blander than Moby? I'm not sure that's possible sir! I'm worried that if we make the tune any less interesting we risk causing massive brain damage.

That's OK. We can test it to make sure it's safe.

...one week later...

Sir. We test new audio logo thingymajig on marketing department. Dey don't seem no stupider than dey was last week.

Cool! Then we're got for launchification on the new audio strategolio! Hit it daddio!

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Re: Next week: scratch'n'sniff for the Cisco Corporate Smell

iSmell Steve Jobs' farts

But I'm not sure the world is ready for the wafting aroma of Oracle...

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after 30 seconds I was half-expecting:

Never gonna give you up!

Never gonna let you down.

Never gonna...

[that's enough torture - Ed]

Pope goes fire and brimstone on the dangers of AI

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Re: AI is EVIL….

I thought the Weavers just got older and stopped making music. Was there some sort of bizarre on-stage loom re-enactment based accident? Is there footage?

...OK. I'm geting my coat...

We need to be first on the Moon, uh, again, says NASA

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That's some highly valuable space cheese you're talking about there!

And getting it back to Earth is dead easy. Getting things into orbit is expensive. But once you're on the Moon, with all the free solar electricity to you can eat - you can build a mass driver and just fire it back home. Obviously you're going to need some sort of ablative coating to cope with re-entry - but a lifting body created from Moon-cheese should do the job quite nicely. It'll even come with a nicely melted surface and extra burnt crispy bits. Yum!

Now build me a 100m long cracker for it to land on and get me a flagon of port!

Are global chutney supplies sufficient? Or will we need an international priority pickle project?

North Korean hackers had access to Russian missile maker for months, say researchers

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Re: So who has NOT hacked the Russians just yet?

Countries don't have friends, only have interests. Which I've seen attributed to Charles de Gaulle, but I think he was quoting someone else.

I don't know if the Chinese care about getting Vladivostok back - but they don't need to grab Siberia to get resources. With Russia under sanctions, China can buy the resources off them for cheap. Much safer than invading a nuclear power. Even though most of Russia's Siberian troops are still bogged down in Ukraine, and have considerably less equipment than they had back in February last year.

China has historically been pretty good at getting hold of the latest Russian/Soviet aircraft and copying any useful tech. But not with submarines. Sadly the Soviet Union made pretty good strides in catching up with Western sub tech - but since the Walker spy ring in the 70s/80s they've had some extremely good boats. And that isn't tech they've shared with anyone.

It's something that the US Navy see as a big risk, becaue China have a lot of subs - but they're generations behind. I get the impression their surfact fleet (or at least some of it) is a lot better. So if Russia were willing to share the crown jewels, then that would make defending Taiwan immeasurably harder. It's the sort of bargaining chip that might tempt China to risk sanctions and arm the Russians in their war with Ukraine as well.

However that tech does support Russia's nuclear deterrent. And given they've got very little army left at home facing China, NATO (or mutinying Wagner mercenaries come to think of it) - they may feel it's too strategically important? Stealing it's much cheaper...

Hide and seek in outer space highlights a battle here on Earth

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There's also a question of focus. The "out-far" missions are exciting, but are also expensive in an exchange for pure science results.

Something I should have added there. Probes sent out to the distant planets take ages to get there. So the budget is going to be higher, given that you're spreading your mission life over many more years - and also the return on your budget is over a much longer period. It took New Horizons 9 years to reach Pluto, funding was approved 2 years before that - obviously there will have been preliminary work for years before that and then it was another 4 years until it did its Kuiper Belt fly-by. I thought they had found it another target, but it's got budget until 2025 at least. The probe is expected to have power until at least 2040.

There's also a career issue. If you're a space scientist, you don't have many outer solar system missions in you before retirement. Especially if you want to see the results.

I went to a Register lecture many moons ago from Dr Geraint Jones. The thing he said was that in a career as a space scientist, you start by working on other people's missions. Then you work on missions that you get to study the results of. Then you get to a certain age and start to work on missions that you are unlikely to see the results of until you're in your 70s. I guess that depends on how much you enjoy the process of designing the mission and the spacecraft, and how much you love the pure science of poring over the results.

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What are we sending up now which scientists in fifty years will use in the way that current scientists use the Yoyagers?

We sent the New Horizons probe to Pluto, and that's travelling at similar speeds to the Voyagers. It's planned to do some Kuyper Belt fly-by's - and will also be gathering data on the edges of the solar system. When it reaches them.

But the problem with going fast is that you don't get to do as much science as you go zooming past things too quickly. So as we've got better, we've put orbiters round Saturn, and soon Jupiter. Rather than sending the Voyagers on past. Plus several round Mars and have sent one off to Mercury.

Space agencies have limited budgets, and lots of things to do with them.

Airbus to help with International Space Station replacement

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Re: 2001


Your argument seems rather unfair to NASA.

Firstly we didn't have the technology to launch a rotating habit to create its own gravity. At least not at anything other than insane cost. We may have it with Falcon Heavy, and soon Starship, where we've got affordable heavy-lift. But the only plausible way to do it before was Project Orion - which involved a few hundred atmospheric nuclear explosions. So even if not outlawed under the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - still wouldn't be all that cheap.

Secondly we didn't know if we'd be able to come up with regimes that would allow longer time spent in space, until we'd done the experimentation.

But the first point is still the most important.

Creating artificial gravity means building a space station strong enough to survive being spun up to create that gravity. Which means it's going to need to have extra stuctural strength, which means it's going to mass more. Plus it's got to be physically large in order to have usable space at a decent gravity. Extra mass = extra launches = extra budget = extra risk of a module blowing up on launch and needing to be replaced = extra construction/assembly time in space = extra risk to astronauts.

There are no easy answers. It is rocket science.

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Re: BA2100?

Bigelow have got a pretty good history. They launched two test models of their inflatable space thingies into orbit 15 years ago. To see how well they stood up to orbit. They've since had their experimental habitat attached to the ISS since 2021. So I'd say they've got a decent track record.

On the other hand their units are designed for microgravity. Not to bear weight. I very much doubt that they're strong enough - because if they were, then Bigelow would have designed them badly for an enviroment where that strength isn't required and would increase launch costs.

Orkney islands look to drones to streamline mail deliveries

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Re: Yeah, bad weather is a problem


A submarine is just a boat. Unless you build a Bond-villain style underwater entrance into the bottom of a cliff, you've got the same problem of mooring (and getting smashed into the jetty) that you have with any other kind of boat. Plus the waves are still strong for tens of feet down, you've got to get relatively deep to not notice them anymore.

6kg of payload seems pretty small though. I'm sure you can get aerial drones for ten times that, which aren't too expensive. The Navy have been testing a quarter size helicopter for years that's not too expensive and would seem perfect for this job. They've also been testing drones to move stores between ships for replenishment at sea - which would seem ideal for this sort of work. Of course there is the chance that the Navy are using only the finest gold-plated military contractor spec super-drones. But they have been trying to use off-the-shelf stuff - the mini copter is.

What does Twitter's new logo really represent?

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Re: an arbitrary metric space

No Sir! It's the Germans you should be licking. The French are on our side.*

*This seems highly unlikely, Darling...

Germany raids climate piggy bank for €20B to bankroll chip fabs

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Re: Strategic investment

Chip fabs aren't normal factories. They tend to be insanely expensive to build, and so the chip companies run them constantly for as long as they can manage, to get back their investment. The article says Magdeburg is going to cost $30 billion. This means that it's a lot harder to just walk away when the subsidies end.

Not that I disagree that this subsidy doesn't just end up being a handout to Intel's shareholders. And I suspect not all that strategic. Tempting TSMC to build fabs outside Taiwan so we don't lose as much global capacity if China invades Taiwan makes a lot of sense. There's an argument Taiwan's government should try to stop it, to incentivise the rest of the world to help them deter China more effectively. Having an Intel fab in Germany, rather than say the US or Malaysia or even another EU country risks wasting subsidies for little gain.

But I wonder if it's because the German government has got these two massive off-budget funds for climate change & digital tranformation and for the Zeitenwende (foreign policy / military re-think). They have a constitutional balanced budget - and these are convenient ways to break it. But because they're not regular spending it's then hard to find things to spend them on effectively. Germany is struggling to spend it's military fund, and there's some suggestion that with Ukraine having fought Russia to a standstill, maybe it doesn't need to - and that cash can go to more popular (vote-winning) spending too?

Tokkers can Tok like Tweeters can Tweet – for now

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Re: Text is the latest addition to options for content creation

I hate it when you look for instructions for something and all you can find is a Youtube video. There are some cases where video instruction is genuinely better. A picture being worth 1,000 words, and all that. But when you need technical data or organised / complex information, a video doesn't cut it.


Ugg! This modern text thingy will never catch on! Just like I said about that fire thingy. "Ooh but it keeps us so warm." As next door used to go on-and-on about to everyone who'd listen. Which is all very well until you set fire to your bearskin leotard...

If you can't get your point across by shouting "Ugg!" and hitting people over the head with clubs, then you're not trying hard enough! It was good enough for Grandad, and it's good enough for us!

Now where did I put that wheel thingymajig? I've got to review it for 'What Cave Monthly' by next week or the editor says he's going to feed my to his sabretooth tiger.

Framework starts taking orders for 16-inch repairable, upgradeable laptop

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Re: On my radar

Wanted a recent AMD processor so my bollocks were not burned

Intel™ proudly announce our latest Testicular Toastiness™ range!

Social media is too much for most of us to handle

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This would explain why you could kill Cybermen with gold.

Ukraine busts bot farm spreading Russian infowar propaganda and fraud

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Re: 150,000 SIM cards.....

Are they laden, or unladen, SIM cards?

African or European?

Tech support scammers go analog, ask victims to mail bundles of cash

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Go and tidy your room!

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The thought of trying to talk my Mum through buying Crypto almost makes me want some scammer to try it on.

She's aware, but where technology is concerned she's still somewhat easy to confuse. Back a few years ago when TalkTalk got their engineering database hacked (or it was an inside job) they got talking to her because she was expecting a call from a TalkTalk engineer. But as soon as they asked for money she said, "you've already got a direct debit, so use that." And called me to de-louse her PC, as she'd worked out it was a scam. I knew about the scam from El Reg. Sadly she still already fallen for TalkTalk's sales pitch, despite my warnings. They're cheap for a reason.

The "TalkTalk engineer" had got her to downloaded Team Viewer. Fortunately a legit copy, so clean-up afterwards was easy. He used it to get her to the Western Union website to tranfer him some money. Which is how she knew it was a scam. I reckon if he'd tried to get her to buy some Bitcoin he'd still be on the call with her now.