* Posts by Andy 73

625 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jul 2009


America's ambitious Artemis III likely to miss 2025 Moon landing date, auditors sigh

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: No-one..

I would believe the "It's meant to do that, they're gathering data!" excuses a little bit more if SpaceX wasn't undertaking significant redesigns between flights... not small adjustments that would imply they're removing failure modes, but complete changes to the whole thing. They've yet to get anywhere near a "final design", and how many flights should that undertake before anyone is willing to trust it with serious cargo or human lives?

I've no doubt they will get there eventually - for all the billions of dollars and hundreds of highly skilled engineers working on it, you'd be shocked if they didn't - but any claims that this is cheaper or more efficient that the other options have to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. This has become a "too big to fail" project, so Elon's famously poor project planning and time estimates are going to be indulged simply because everyone involved cannot afford to loose face at this point.

..at which point we get finger pointing and "but look what the other guys are doing".. sure. Just because the other guys are incompetent doesn't make your mess any better, does it? This is not a new frontier of space exploration, it's the same old indulgent process of throwing cash at the person who makes the most noise. Except in previous programmes we all got some benefit and non-stick frying pans, whereas this time the only person benefitting from the US Government budgetary excess is Musk.

Andy 73 Silver badge


No-one seems willing to actually call Space-X out on this... the whole programme will lumber along until someone actually gets killed.

Musk tells advertisers to 'go f**k' themselves as $44B X gamble spirals into chaos

Andy 73 Silver badge

Delusional narcissist

"And the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company," he added ominously, "and we will document it in great detail."

When something goes well, it's Elon "I know more about manufacturing than any person on this planet" Musk who is personally responsible. When it goes badly, it's all the fault of those evil people who won't let the self-entitled man-child do whatever he wants without consequence.

Note that this is the man who told us they would land two Starships on Mars right around now, but has apparently just begun yet another significant redesign of their rather explodey rocket. The man who has been claiming self-driving cars were going to be generally available "next year" every year for the last ten years... and the man who announced he was buying Twitter to "stop the bots"... yeah, how is that going?

At what point do people start to realise he is a technical incompetent held up by spending other people's money on unfortunate workers smarter than he is?

AI offers some novel crystal materials that could form future chips, batteries, more

Andy 73 Silver badge


I'm not a materials scientist, but it does sound a bit like an over-enthusiastic comp-sci major has bounded up to Paul Hollywood and told him they've generated 380,000 recipes for cake by working out every possible combination of eggs, flour and water...

How useful is this? You've made the finest green(*), it's sitting there sparkling on the lab bench... now what? How do you figure out if it is remotely useful, and under what circumstances? A lot of our currently exciting materials are only useful when you apply specific materials to their surfaces, after you've sliced and diced them in a particular way, then kept them at a specific temperature whilst some combination of electricity, light, radiation, water, gasses, other chemicals are applied in a very precise manner.

Worse still, you've got 379,999 other crystals lined up to test..

(*) Oh go on, you've got to make the joke.

FTX crypto-villain Sam Bankman-Fried convicted on all charges

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Corporate incompetence? Or...

It seems to me to be a bit of a myth that regulations are magically the answer, or that these people are not subject to them. There are plenty of legal structures in place to deal with most of the fraud and dodgy practises in the crypto and other arenas. People do get found out and prosecuted.

The point to realise is that regulations, and laws are not "instant". They don't have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, and on the whole we don't want to prevent all new economic activity (or any economic activity at all) until we have absolute proof it's all going to end well.

It can take months, years or even decades before the protective systems you think will protect us to actually respond. No amount of additional 'red tape' will increase that speed. In fact it will probably reduce it. This isn't greed - it's just the fact that when something new happens, we can't just respond to our knee jerk impulses and ban it.

On the other hand, the wider community has a responsibility to approach such schemes with scepticism and a critical eye. The reason FTX is such a big deal is not that it was a particularly clever or novel fraud - SBF has been convicted of very normal conspiracy and wire fraud charges. The big thing was that FTX was allowed to grow and gain a veneer of legitimacy in incredibly short time - magazine covers, high profile actors and politicians, sponsorship deals, and a significant part of the tech industry cheering them on and desperately pumping the idea that blockchain, crypto and digital assets are somehow different.

This isn't greed, it's just people being fearful of "not getting it", or being seen to be wrong when they point out the Emperor has no clothes. And sheer economic stupidity. When Musk claims that everyone owning a Tesla will be able to make back it's full cost in a year as a robotaxi, instead of pointing out that this is nonsense we have people breathlessly repeating that tech "changes everything".

If you want to ban something, ban stupidity. It's by far the biggest problem we're facing right now.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Not just corporate incompetence

Many people were involved with SBF and FTX - particularly tech and financial journalists in America, and some pretty high up figures in the 'more reputable' industries.

Those people failed to apply any serious critical analysis to FTX, or to Bankman-Fried's behaviour. In particular, behaviour on his part that showed a complete disregard for responsibility, professional behaviour or moderation. I'm the last one to insist on "professionalism", but in the case of a CEO handling tens of billions of dollars of other people's money.. it's kinda necessary.

The people who put him on the cover of Forbes, Fortune and the Financial Times yet apparently did no due-diligence should be seriously questioned. The signs were all there from the very earliest of days, yet all critical faculties were suspended "because rich". There are still "reputable" financial commentators who describe him as a genius, when all that is actually on display is a sociopathic frat boy bullshitting about technology. Astonishingly, the inability for those people to think rationally about technology and money is now being applied wholesale to the AI industry... here we go again.

The highlight of the trial for me was someone finally actually describing him in the way he appeared to be from the earliest days of FTX: "an evasive little dickhead".

X looks back at year of so-called 'engineering excellence' under Musk

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Give me the Elon excitement any day

He appears to be destroying the old service (and much of the reason for people to be on there at all) in order to build a completely new and different product that no-one has actually asked for, and that is unrelated to the reasons people were there in the first place.

I'd also question how many of these "product developments" are anything more than Friday afternoon brain-farts. "Great demo, Elmo, how about you fix the rampant bots that make posting a misery?"

The UK government? On the right track with its semiconductor strategy?

Andy 73 Silver badge

As some of us said at the time...

El Reg reported on the announcements in May and took the line shared with many commentators that not subsidising new fabs was a mistake.

At the time, some of us pointed out that it was a daft idea to try to compete, and that with many other countries throwing money at the problem, it would be a completely wasted investment for our government. It's not without historical precedence either, since the UK went down exactly that route in the 90's and ended up with nothing to show for it.

So it's nice to read that (at last) reports are coming out that vindicate this view. It might be that other countries are subsidising the sector heavily, but throwing money into companies to make them "competitive" is a cost, not a benefit, so though it might hurt the aspirations of some companies in the UK (who wouldn't want the government to create well paid jobs for them?), it's probably better to let those other countries spend billions on stuff that we'll (mainly) be able to buy cheaply from them later on, and spend our money strategically elsewhere.

Of course in the current environment nothing this government proposes is going to be well received. Unfortunately, it's a bit too easy to mistake politics for sound policy, so the biggest risk here is that Labour come in and make radical chances "because Tory" rather than through any rational analysis of what is needed and effective. We've already seen that intuition is not a good guide for how best to support a complex, rapidly changing and expensive industry - it's only taken six months for the initial objections to the government's plans to be re-evaluated and tempered.

First Brexit, now X-it: Musk 'considering' pulling platform from EU over probe

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Tesla's Q3 earnings call

Musk's desperation to be a funny guy is hilarious for all the wrong reasons :-)

The S and X sell in negligible numbers. The 3 and Y are essentially the same car - with most people buying the Y as an improvement on the earlier model. The platform is now over six years old, and Tesla have failed to produce another model in their line-up.

This is a big problem for a company that claimed to be years ahead of the mainstream manufacturers. By the time their great white hope (the Cybertruck) is fully on stream, their competition will have had nearly a full decade to catch up. It's insane how far they have lost their precious lead.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Tesla's Q3 earnings call

By the standards of a car company, a steady decline is "good" - car usage is dropping in most Western countries.

By the standards of Tesla, the results were a disaster.

Margin dropped 10% YoY

Expenses increased 44% YoY

Income from operations droped 52% YoY

These are some pretty terrible numbers. And remember: Tesla is meant to be growing 100% each year - that's the justification for the insane share price, so what happens when their stock has essentially been flat since December 2020? Worse still, Musk admitted in the earnings call that the Cybertruck is going to take 18 months to reach profiability (that's 18 Musk months, which could mean 10 years by past evidence). They're a car company that essentially has only one model.

More X subscription tiers could spell doom for free access as biz bleeds cash

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: I don't think you understand the point of "fediverses"

Mastodon doesn't have any intrinsic barrier to enshittification. The moment any platform provides an essentially free means to 'broadcast' to an arbitrarily large audience, then people who could benefit from access to a large audience will work out how to abuse that facility.

It's notable that BlueSky went through a phase of also believing it was immune to the "Twitter effect" - but it turns out that once the network begins to scale that the usual blowhards, fraudsters and self-promoters begin to make themselves known. Anecdotal evidence is that BlueSky is now providing a larger community than Mastodon.

Boris Johnson's mad hydrogen for homes bubble bursts

Andy 73 Silver badge

El Reg strikes again..

"The project was started under Theresa May..." - so why is this Johnson's mad plan?

The enthusiastic leap to heat pumps doesn't look to be any more sensible - the latest government report suggests that we'll need tens of billions per year of subsidies to make people switch. In which case, it's clearly not "cheaper" nor particularly efficient.

If the National Infrastructure Commision's report is to be believed, the current plan to switch to heat pumps will add around £1500 per year to our tax/bills. Why is it we only call the previous attempts at solving this "mad", when the new plans are no less insane? It's not really journalism to single out disgraced former PMs (we've got plenty of them) for criticism when current policy is so shoddy.

Sony, Honda tease EV that aims to be a lounge on wheels

Andy 73 Silver badge


True but... captive audience!

Bezos' engineers dream of Blue Ring space platform in orbit by 2025

Andy 73 Silver badge

Reality distortion field testing in progress.

This is a fertile ground for serious advancements in our access to space. Not that this specific concept will necessarily "win", but having a bunch of egotistical billionaires attempting to dominate the industry is a great way to try a lot of different ideas for viability. The only challenge is getting enough people to support your project, and that comes down to who can do the most convincing impression of a rocket scientist.

Twitter further restricts free tier with option to limit replies to verified accounts

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Not true..


When I say search has failed, I mean most people simply don't use it for discovery in the way they used to - you say "it worked well enough in the past".. and? Times have changed. Sure, technical users can still wring decent results out of it, but the vast majority of users find their daily content, communities, advice through other means. I see this in my kids and my parents, both of whom almost never use search. Want to go on holiday? You visit the last booking site that didn't screw you over too much. Want to buy a random thing? Amazon, check the reviews. Want to know how to do some task? YouTube. And for communities, and particularly discovery - head over to social media. Facebook Groups still are depressingly active. Twitter DM groups actually work.

You then go on to say that the algorithm blah blah - so what? It doesn't affect the fact that for many communities, groups coalesce on social media, and usually around some higher profile people (event organisers, content creators etc.). It doesn't matter that the system is flakey, it's still how people find their social groups. They look for people in the right space and do what AI can't do - take some judgement on whether that person is interesting and relatable in some way. Yes, by all means point out those people are gaming the system - but the fact remains that for most people online, that's their choice, and it's their choice because at present there aren't any better mechanisms. You might not like it, but that's the reality for a huge proportion of groups online.

This thread started with someone taking the position that "social media channels are unnecessary"... if that were the case, no-one would give a monkeys about Twitter going down the pan. Instead I see whole communities lifting themselves off Twitter and onto other social media platforms. People trade in BlueSky invites just to find their friends groups. Others start hosting Mastodon servers. And people are upset with Musk because his idiocy has seriously disrupted their community.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Not true..

"Here is the uncomfortable truth: almost all "social media" channels are unnecessary. "

Simply not true. For many use cases, particularly those around distributed communities, search has failed. Want to find "people who share my hobby"? Good luck with that on Google, which will dump you into a shop front or a deluge of AI and content farming. The same applies for poltical groups and many other functions that search worked for before it became essentially free to put up gigabytes of autogenerated content and game the search engines.

In those cases, the self-forming networks of people with shared common interests on social media actually turn out to have a function. Sure, you personally might not use that function, but rest assured others do. Of course, that's not always for good and honest reasons, but many communities rely on social media to function.

Note that is not the same as endorsing Twitter or any other platform. Nor does it deny other options. However, until discovery via other means improves, the best way to find "people like me" is to find one of the more visible commentators in that space, and explore their social network. It turns out the one thing that AI is really, really bad at (and by extension, search) is understanding human interest.

Elon Musk's ambitions for Starship soar high while reality waits on launchpad

Andy 73 Silver badge

Isn't the attendant problem very high numbers of points of failure, and very bad modes of failure? Saying N1 failed because "they just weren't trying hard enough" might be slightly missing the reason designs like the N1 are not common.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: At some point...

I think you missed the point of the letter. Putting things like that out in the public are how workers in a company try to build support for changing company policies - or even senior management. In other companies, this is how unions become organised.

Yes, this group lost the bet - but their bet was either change of behaviour or they didn't want to work there. Just because Musk "called their bluff" doesn't mean it wasn't ultimately the best choice for them.

Musk's great skill is selling a vision to people with money that is not entirely linked to reality - that does the companies he's bought no end of good, and allows them to spend their way to workable products. The danger for those companies is if his visions lead them on wild goose chases, or people eventually feel defrauded when they realise their money has not gone towards the vision they were sold, but building a distinctly less revolutionary business that ultimately only benefits Musk.

Andy 73 Silver badge

At some point...

People will realise that all of the real work is being done by engineers bought by Musk, and that his "direction" of those engineers does as much damage as it does good. In some cases, more.

The alternative to stopping climate change is untested carbon capture tech

Andy 73 Silver badge

Energy cost

We release energy when we put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - kinda the point really. Putting that CO2 back into a stable form means (a) a huge mass of carbon-based substance (remember we're ultimately trying to store Gigatons) and (b) pretty much as much energy as we got out in the first place.

I've no doubt Carbon capture schemes can be shown to capture carbon - but if we are essentially proposing to at least double our energy costs, and require several orders of magnitude more scale than even the most optimistic current scheme, there has to be a question as to whether this is a viable solution or a bit of a grift for "green entrepeneurs" to run pet projects.

Doom developer John Carmack thinks artificial general intelligence is doable by 2030

Andy 73 Silver badge

Not bigger... not monolithic.

That sounds dangerously like "if we just make it bigger, it will generalise". I don't think that's true, and I don't think that's what Carmack is doing.

Meanwhile, a lot of the AI hype companies are focussing purely on making it bigger - because that's a thing they can explain to investors, because it's a convenient moat around their business, and because large models do indeed produce "finer grained" output which looks like progress. I think they are making better tools, but that's not the same as AGI.

Mastodon makes a major move amid Musk's multiple messes

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Really?

If a social media site provides a genuinely useful, low cost way to talk to thousands of people, then it will be used by those who can profit from or abuse that ability. It doesn't need a billionaire owner to be a place that hosts disinformation, scams and high pressure commercial presences. Consider the vast quantities of spam that email handles - despite being truly federated and free from "billionaire owners".

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

Andy 73 Silver badge

Wait.. what?

So the guy who claims he has developed AI smart enough to safely drive your car through unpredictable traffic in the heart of American cities and beyond is also saying it's "too hard" to spot a Russian bot called Britney who has a link to a porn site in her bio and randomly likes obscure old posts with high view counts?

Does anyone else think there's something wrong with this picture?

Local governments aren't businesses – so why are they force-fed business software?

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Forced-fed???

"People in the private sector don't..."

Yes, we do. Sabatticals, termination and re-hire (thanks IR-35), variable pay rates, pay from multiple sources...

As contractor scum working for many businesses over the years, I've come to learn that every organisation believes they are a unique snowflake, with unique compications that make them special. At some point, someone will always sidle across to me and say:

"I bet you've never seen it as bad as this"

Yes. Yes I have. Half of the complexity of organisation is that most people in organisations keep that complexity in their heads - as learned procedures, exceptions, people to talk to when needed, habits, rules and anecdotes of how odd situations were delt with five years ago. When you boil it down to what they are actually doing, it's far more mundane than they believe (read this comments section for the pretty unsurprising list of things people are having to deal with), but the belief that we are all special snowflakes persists, and most software houses perpetuate that by being extremely poor at asking simple questions and occasionally pointing out the blindingly obvious.

Of course Oracle and SAP take full advantage of that. You are paid big money for doing complicated things at the customers' request - not for helping them transform their practises, not for simplifying things, and certainly not for pointing out that the guy who obstinately tells you that only they understand the system is far from unique and certainly not any more special than their equivalent in a million other organisations around the globe.

Having read the room, Unity goes back to drawing board on runtime fee policy

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Too little, too late

"..open source is at least partially safe".

The word "Partially" is doing a lot of work there. If Nintendo, Windows or any of the other dozen platforms your game engine runs on introduce a breaking change in their next system update, who is going to help you? Given the long timescales of game development these days, it's hardly an unlikely event.

And the key problem here is that for many people the game they write is a commercial proposition - intended to make money. It won't be open source, at least not until some long tail has kicked in, yet you're sending the message that "Nah, don't want to pay for the engine I'm running on". Even if it means that people who've paid for your game suddenly find a feature stops working when they update their graphics card - and you have no means to fix it.

That's not to say there aren't good open source alternatives - but the screw up by Unity is to unconditionally and unexpectedly change the terms of their commercial license, not to have the temerity to want to charge for the vast amount of code and assets that go into their product. Devs can decide if the amount they charge is worth it - but if they can't trust that it won't randomly change at some point in the future, then yes, it does make almost any other option look better.

Meet Honda's latest electric vehicle: A rideable suitcase

Andy 73 Silver badge

How dare Honda have fun with an idea?!

Not quite sure what Honda has done to get so much ire. They do short runs of interesting ideas, and this is no different. God forbid someone not conform to the norms!

That nice flat side is begging for custom art as well..

UK rejoins the EU's €100B Horizon sci-tech funding program

Andy 73 Silver badge

I'm afraid rational discussion about this subject is not possible on here, since far too many people have already made up their minds that they know who is to blame, and who would have prevented it (but, as you point out, for some reason didn't).

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Indeed

That's two things they've got wrong then, isn't it? I've no love for Brexit, but I've no love for people making irrational decisions based on financial handouts.

Science and Reseach in the UK has been a disaster zone for decades now - long before Brexit. The Horizon program will not save it - the whole of Europe is behind the curve on investment and innovation, and the USA and China are eating our lunches.

And let's face it, if the case for Horizon was backed by rigorous evidence, no-one would have their backs put up when asked for it, would they?

Andy 73 Silver badge

This whole post is a complete non-sequitur. Who said anything about Brexit being good? It's been badly mishandled from the start and science and research have massively suffered from governmental incompetence at every level. However, that doesn't justify spreading disinformation about the state of the country - that's what we accused the Brexiteers of doing, so perhaps it's something we shouldn't ourselves perpetuate.

It's worth poiting out that the article you quote is nearly ten months out of date - relying on the nearly 2% incorrect GDP figures and prior to Germany entering recession.

Here's a more up to date assessment https://www.eiu.com/n/germanys-economy-records-a-third-quarter-without-growth/ (random Google link)

As for "woke lefties" - you're making some very wrong assumptions there.

Andy 73 Silver badge

England is not and never will be one of the "poorest regions", and I doubt the schools funding and regional development funds had any overlap - since this has been ongoing for years before we left and nothing was ever done, was it?

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Indeed

Lots of thumbs down for the scientific process :)

Andy 73 Silver badge

Either your Masters degree was not in maths or economics, or you're being deliberately obtuse. As net contributors, any money you "got from the EU" essentially came from our pockets.

You can thank the UK taxpayers whenever you like.

Andy 73 Silver badge

I see all of the truth seekers are rushing to point out the factual errors in your post...

.. ah no, of course not. Just to help them, if Brexit hadn't happened, we would still have been a net contributor to the EU, so no, we would not have seen any money at all coming in to restore British schools.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Indeed

Perhaps we should have come up with a better metric to rationally evaluate the value of being in the Horizon program?

You know, something other than "we want to be in the club".

Musk's mighty missile is ready for launch once FAA says OK

Andy 73 Silver badge

Gotta keep the hype train running

..doesn't do any harm if the FAA now drag this out for a few months. Investors will be pleased that so much is being done - and no pesky testing to show how far they've actually got towards the fantasy goal of landing on Mars.

Largest local government body in Europe goes under amid Oracle disaster

Andy 73 Silver badge

Have to agree. There's an institutional myth that because you're large, you're somehow magically more complex.

What is usually true is that you have many more people clinging onto their jobs and somehow unable to describe what they actually do - instead you get a long conversation about how they deal with a large department of people all faffing around on the same job. In turn, most of that size (not complexity) is only there due to historical staffing increments, not the complexity of the job they perform.

Andy 73 Silver badge

For context

That's a little more than £8000 for each employee working for the authority.

Astonishing waste of resources - and no matter how sneaky Oracle may have been, it is beyond belief that a public body could spend more on an ERP system than many tech companies spend on their entire stack. Incompetence on the most industrial, shameful level.

Controversial Chinese drone maker DJI debuts a cargo carrier

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Controverisal?

They engaged in some incredibly aggressive tactics in the early days of the drone industry, with evidence that they paid workers to post claims of crashes for rival companies' drones amongst other manipualtion of reviews. Their size in the market has allowed them to pre-empt rival launches with model announcements in every market segment.

Since then, their drones have been accused of sending data back to China and of having known security holes that may benefit Chinese intelligence operations. Various of their apps have been shown to allow remote installation of arbitrary software on a user's phone without their consent.

They have also been accused of knowingly supplying kit for military operations and involvement with the Uyghur genocides. Inevitably, as the supplier of 4/5ths of the world's drones, their machines have been implicated in war and terrorist attacks, noteably both sides of the Ukraine war.

Yes, they are controversial.

This is not "being a target". A large number of organisations have come to rely on a near monopolistic supply of drones from a company that has had an inconsistent history when it comes to honesty and security. It would be ridiculous to pretend that this makes them "just a quadcopter manufacturer", or to avoid continued scruitiny in the future.

Want tech cred? Learn how to email like a pro

Andy 73 Silver badge


Since the people who dole out the jobs and the money tend not to be Linux greybeards, I'm not sure how useful this article is.

Now, if you're hoping to get your fix into the next release of <insert worthy distribution here>, then impressing Linux greybeards is probably a good idea.

As it is - context is king. If I get an email from someone in HTML, with a long slew of history attached, I'll top post and keep it simple. If it's someone discussing a technical subject in detail, I'll trim and reply inline.

As a famous aristocrat once said - the height of good manners isn't following etiquette, it's making the other fellow feel comfortable.

OpenAI's ChatGPT has a left wing bias – at times

Andy 73 Silver badge

Basic mistake

It's a basic mistake to confuse "more trained" with "more educated" - LLMs are not understanding anything, or increasing their education, they are just getting better at associating one set of words with another set of words, like a particularly annoying parrot.

You could, of course, argue the same about human beings.

Andy 73 Silver badge


Perhaps not so surprising - Metropolitan and academic communities tend to be more liberal than conservative and tend to write more about it (the rural conservative heartland in America not being known for it's extensive political literature, unless you count bumper stickers). There is probably a lot more liberal/left wing training data than right wing, so ChatGPT is likely to reflect that bias.

But... meh. We already know that these LLMs are not thinking beings that can be relied upon - they're great at summarising other people's views, not synthesising a robust independent answer to a given question, whether it's coding or political decisions. The ridiculous leap that credulous commentators have made from "well written English" to "the computers know more than we do" should already be regarded as dangerous, regardless of how susceptable ChatGPT is to repeating other people's political viewpoints.

Tesla knew Autopilot weakness killed a driver – and didn't fix it, engineers claim

Andy 73 Silver badge

Owners hype their cars

Every single Autopilot update is followed by a slew of videos on YouTube where breathless owners claim that *this time* it's really made a huge leap forwards and is truly amazing and you can use it to drive right across town in difficult circumstances with total safety.

The need to prove that their faith in the brand is justified is dangerous in itself. You can't directly blame Tesla for this phenomenon, but it has always been encouraged by the company that has been telling us for over a decade that "Full Self Driving" was just a software release away.

Virgin Galactic sends oldest-ever Brit and first mother-daughter duo into space-ish

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: That's not space ...

Are you seriously suggesting that the only way someone can tell the difference between these people and Neil Amstrong is if we give them an approved title? I presume you call all women "Madam" before you're formally introduced, and stand to salute the King...

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: C'mon... Look at the wonder

And people wonder why STEM is often regarded as a socially inept boys club...

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: That's not space ...

I could have predicted the gatekeeping and snobbery on here, from a bunch of people I'm farily confident have absolutely zero likelihood of ever reaching space (by any of the availbale measures).

That it's taken years for Virgin Galactic to reach this stage speaks to the technical achievement and challenge of getting up there - good for them, and what a unique experience.

It hurts absolutely no-one to call them astronauts, and only the most thin skinned, insecure person would think that the experience they have gone through detracts in the slightest from the training that other astronauts (of various flavours) have undertaken.

Should civilization survive long enough to routinely send people up to orbit and beyond without years of training, the word astronaut will become meaningless. In the period before that, why not celebrate anyone who gets further than their armchair?

Larry Ellison a major contributor to Blair Institute vaccine database plan

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Given that

The guy that took us into an international war, initiated target culture that's destroying education and health systems, and launched crippling PFI deals?

I'm sure he wouldn't do anything stupid/nefarious...

Andy 73 Silver badge

Given that

Blair is reportedly a significant advisor to both the Labour party and some elements of the current government, his influence on current political choices should not be underestimated.

The Blair Institute is the nearest the UK has to an American style 'Policy Unit' - it employs more than 800 people worldwide, with offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Accra and it's own conference. These guys have impressively high salaries and impressive contact lists (like Ellison), so their advice carries a great deal of weight, despite being largely unknown by the public.

MIT boffins build battery alternative out of cement, carbon black, water

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Context is king

In the UK, it's still centigrade. Additionally since this is a measure of change rather than absolute temperature, only the units are needed.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Re: Context is king

For sure - but missing the point. 45 cubic meters of concrete is an incredibly inefficient way to store a relatively small 10kWh, especially given the current demonstrator is a few grammes of the stuff, and there is no obvious way to integrate a complicated 45 cubic meter electrical component into a sensible structural element.

There are simpler, cheaper, and massively smaller ways to store energy than this - yet the reporting doesn't put it in context, and we get breathless repetition of the PR that this is somehow game changing.

Andy 73 Silver badge

Context is king

From memory (may be wrong!) 1kWh of energy will heat a cubic meter of water very roughly 1 degree (centigrade, sorry Americans).

So if all you need is heat, you could replace 45 cubic meters of concrete (that is actually a lot of concrete) with 1 IBC (1000 litre water container) and heat it up by just 10 degrees above ambient. Add in a Stirling engine to get electricity out, and even with a fair amount of inefficiency you can store a good chunk of energy in a small, cheap space.

So.. um... I don't think this is terribly useful. In common with a lot of MIT (and a number of other high profile Universities) engineering Press Releases, the headline is *way* more exciting than the actual work being done. If you could extract energy out of their self-promotion you would probably get a better result.