* Posts by mike 32

70 posts • joined 15 Mar 2010


SpaceX billionaire claims Air Force official 'likely' made job-for-spy-sat-contract deal

mike 32

Those tweet timestamps...

are they Musks' local time, or Brid-Ain Parnells? Because nothing good comes from tweeting at 3am, no matter what it's about.

Truck-sized asteroid slips silently between Moon and Earth

mike 32

What about an inert intersection,

like how the US destroyed that satellite a few years ago? It wouldn't smash an asteroid into millions of tiny pieces, but each small piece would be much less likely to reach the ground, surely?

Grav waves: Moment when 'father of Big Bang inflation' learns he was RIGHT ALL ALONG

mike 32

Quite an innocuous opening statement...

but I guess they knew who the guy standing at the door was, and what he was researching.

Congratulations to them all!

RSA booked TV's Stephen Colbert to give the final speech. This is what happened next

mike 32

I know it's (largely) a free country and all, but...

it does take immense balls to skewer ones' hosts like he does (case in point, Bush at the White House Press dinner a couple years back).


Ground control? My space helmet is FILLING WITH WATER!

mike 32
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Re: It the Shuttle was still operative...

There should be space in the next dragon capsule returning to earth...

Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

mike 32

Re: SKA *isn't* in Australia (or NZ)

I'm well aware *part* of it is going to be in Australia - it's fortunate the engineering capabilities are such that the split isn't going to negatively affect the science aspect, otherwise it'd have all been in South Africa. The significant delay (and resultant "shared prize") was purely to avoid wasting the work done by and in Australia.

In the context of the article, however, it is extremely significant that the vast majority of the project is going to be in South Africa, with satellite posts throughout Southern Africa - a very large area, with very poor land-line internet access and a not-insignificant, relatively evenly distributed rural population, exactly the target demographic for Google Loon. With the to-and-fro over 20Mbps vs (up to) 1Gbps for the NBN, it would seem Australia is not much of a target for Loon, hence my initial point.

mike 32

SKA *isn't* in Australia (or NZ)

The primary site for SKA is in South Africa, part of sub-Saharan Africa, and the entire region is exactly the type of area Google Loon is intended to provide internet access for. I doubt NZ (or Australia) are one of the primary spots Google intends on deploying large numbers of these balloons - the pilot is probably being done there because of infrastructure and favourable legislation, etc.

The long baseline configuration of SKA in Africa has dishes planned far to the north, in exactly the areas Loons would be most useful. To examine this impact purely from an antipodean perspective is to ignore the main impact of the idea.

In fact, it's unlikely Google would be able to operate this anywhere near Carnarvon, where the primary site will be - the SA government enacted fairly stringent legislation to protect the investment being made in radio astronomy.

The press release (prior to passing in the legislature),


and the act itself:


Brit adventurer all set to assault ex-Reg haunt Rockall

mike 32
Black Helicopters

Re: Why not use a helicopter?

I believe the density of the air at that height is the limiting factor - helicopters just can't get enough lift to remain aloft. Flying into Everest Base Camp is pretty much as high as they can go.

Next Tidbinbilla deep space antenna ready for hoist

mike 32

1/20 billionths?

So....50 trillionths of a watt?

Can't be the pedant, as I'm too lazy to work out the SI prefix.

Outsourced space trucks battle for US middleweight lifting title

mike 32
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I know it's very small, but....

it looks like SpaceX still have their cowboy hitching a ride

Hydrogen on demand from silicon nanospheres - just add water

mike 32
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Good thing this is the Reg,

...as most other publications would leave off the energy cost to get to this point. And then you'd have the less-informed greenies heralding it as the energy cure-all.

Is there any use for the silicic acid produced?

Google denies smacking Botswanan ass

mike 32
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Re: Barbequeue time

Even better is that the local population tend to favour the tougher meat, often used in stewing, etc, making actual steak super cheap. We had rump and fillet daily for the two weeks we travelled around Bots and Zimbabwe.

Fatty French Kilogram needs a new-year diet, say Brit boffins

mike 32

Re: Post vanished into the ether.

One litre of water only weighs 1kg at 4deg C, the point at which it's most dense (IIRC). If it's cooler or warmer than that, it will still weigh 1kg, but no longer fill a volume of 1 litre.

Nipper's toy train enjoys journey to edge of SPAAAAACE

mike 32
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Awesome video!

Adding animations is a definite winner!

Sculpted 66-pound jubs survive lightning blast, 26ft drop

mike 32

In the natural threats to ones' life in Darwin, you seem to have overlooked the massive lizard in the photo in the article referenced.

Jubcropgate: El Reg in snake-fondling nude nipslip outrage

mike 32
Paris Hilton

To be fair...

her bronzed skin tone is possibly a little *too* even. I certainly didn't notice the issue in the cropped version.

mike 32
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Re: For the benefit of those under the age of 60

Ah, thank you. It had passed me by...

I'm 30.

Swollen SUPER-GIGANTO PLANET sighted in Andromeda

mike 32

Re: Where's the image?

There are three images at the end of the pdf referenced at the bottom of the article, but yes, a pic in the article would have been ideal.

NYU boffins demo tiny tractor beam

mike 32

Blown away...

I don't know if it's journalists keeping a closer watch on scientific papers/press releases, more scientists doing awesome stuff, or that we (science/society) are in a rich run of form for this type of thing, but on a weekly basis there is something new, totally mind-blowingly amazeballs being reported on.

This is one of those moments. The video of Curiosity's descent another. The analysis of Vesta. Pretty much anything Musk does.

I missed the moon landings by 11 years, but where we're going seems even more incredible.

US space programme in shock metric conversion

mike 32
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We noticed it when watching...

but then Musk is (originally) South African, and down here don't bother foot-pounds-per-square-inch no more.

Oakley: 'smart' sunglasses ready to shine

mike 32

"Video feed from a drone up above while in a combat (or paintball) scenario)"

My wallet REALLY wouldn't want to see that!

Zuckerberg blew $1bn on Instagram 'without telling Facebook board'

mike 32

Re: Say what you like about Zuckerberg...

Well, considering Systrom agreed for half the asking price, I'd rather have the Zuck.

New steganography technique relies on letter shapes

mike 32

Re: I'll answer that

Ternary is the correct term, trinary a misconception/mistake.

Dunno about quadrenery/etc.

Nuke clock incapable of losing time chimes with boffins

mike 32

Excuse my ignorance, but...

how do atomic clocks tie into high-bandwidth data transfer?

I seem to remember Stephen Fry being flamed here for his assertion regarding a (very) similar topic. Living in SA, "high bandwidth" means over 4Mbps, so have no experience re "high bandwidth".

Astrolabe backs off, timezone database safe

mike 32

It's a great pity...

that the deserved bitchslap was not administered to these muppets.

Backing off, admitting fault, and apologising like they have is rare, and the text of it just a little facetious/similar to my mind.

Revealed: Inside Apple-bothering Proview's crumbling factory

mike 32

Is that just sunlight...

or does that sleeping sleeper/worker have a medical eyepatch?

iPads seized from shelves by Chinese officials

mike 32

Do you feel dirty?

I know I would...

IT guy answers daughter's Facebook rant by shooting her laptop

mike 32

I think the eBay solution would have been better...

Sell it for $130. To anyone. Possibly even with the holes (I think there are some commenters above who'd appreciate such an item as "leverage").

It's just such a waste, otherwise.

N Korea mobile phone subscribers top 1 million

mike 32

Shirley the byline should be...

"No need to be ronery in hardrine communist state"

‘Oldest animals’ show up in Namibian dig

mike 32
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Go Dr Brain!

Dr Brain is the grandfather of a kid I was friends with at school - he's been working on this for years. I remember the setup they had outside the kitchen, where his wife would grind bits of stone into translucent wafers, in which they'd find these things. Diamond grinding wheels, lots of black grime that stained clothes. Awesome for a kid to investigate.

Actually got to see some blobs through a (normal) microscope the one time, but to the uneducated, they didn't look like much.

Tame the gas monster with sensors, suckers and a spiffy new fan

mike 32
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"Apparently, you can use it as an AC"

I really hope they do work as an aircon too - it's been 35-38C daily in Cape Town for the last few days, and a good number of days overall this summer.

With the missus determined to maintain a comfortable range between 22 and 28C when she sleeps during the day, the aircon in the bedroom is a major drain on power.

The Register Comments Guidelines

mike 32
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I thought posting on this article was disabled...

glad to see it isn't.

The changes to policy don't really affect me (I hope), but I like the "make writer aware of correction required" feature, sometimes commentards correcting in the comments was a littel tedious. Other times, of course, it led to some of the better comment-threads here...

Samsung reveals Advance-d Android ringer

mike 32

Well, yes...

But no, at the same time. Probably priced at those who can't afford the full-fat of the S2/S3?

The S2 is still a premium phone, and to be able to get handsets that look as good, and perform almost as well, into the hands of the less well off/kids likely to drop or destroy phones, then they've got a conveyor belt of premium upgraders in a few years...


Quad-core Samsung Galaxy S III set for April launch

mike 32

My contract expires in June/July...

hopefully enough time for them to get round to releasing it in SA!


Apple iPad 3 to sport LTE '4G'

mike 32

Apple-hype free edition?

Can we get The Register without apple hype/rumour?

Tiny frog claimed as smallest vertebrate ever

mike 32

Wow. Just wow.

Where normal frogs eat normal insects, tiny frogs eat tiny insects.

Reg hack cops a licking from the bosun's cat

mike 32

At first I thought "cast" was apt...

but now I'm not sure. I defn know "weigh anchor", would assume "cast anchor" would be to drop it, in general use.

Tsk. Pedants.

Hollywood siren invented key phone tech TRUE

mike 32

I only know of bluetooth that uses frequency hopping spread-spectrum, and I don't think it's really a solution for cellular tech.

Direct sequence CDMA is used much more, (ie WCDMA), which is also why 3G battery life is much less than 2G FD/TD multiplexing. Because everyone transmits simultaneously, the receiving tower needs all the incoming signals to be of equal strength, such that closer terminals don't drown out terminals further away. Leads to lots of fiddling with transmission power at the handset, hence reduced battery life.

From what I know, direct sequence CDMA also has it's origins in showbiz, although British, I think. Apparently Churchill and FDR used to chat over lines encrypted by playing a synchronised record over the voice - an inverted signal on the other side cancelled out the added LP, yielding clear speech to the listener, but no-one else.


I haven't done any work in this since final year elec eng, but I did get my old Bernard Sklar Digital Communications textbook out as a refresher. If there's any clarification on the invention of direct sequence, I'd be keen to follow any links provided.

Russia successfully launches Glonass-M

mike 32


The iPhone 4S uses the hybrid GPS/GLONASS system...

I don't have an iPhone 4S, and don't know anyone around here who does, so I can't verify without some googling.

Which I'm too lazy to do right now.

San Diego Baywatch rules out exploding dead whale

mike 32


Thank you for that HILARIOUS clip. Ah, the good old days, of apparently little forethought.

Atomic time boffins build better second-watcher

This post has been deleted by a moderator

World Solar Challenge: Why the winners were so good

mike 32

I wonder if reversing the aerofoil effect would work?

Since the cars aren't going to take massive corners at speed, altering the aerodynamics to make the car *lighter* at top end speeds could save energy...

I wonder to what degree savings could be made using this?

From a safety point of view though, I'd imagine passing those road trains with a lighter vehicle, and such a big surface area parallel to the road would make it quite susceptible to turbulence.

Bog builder pushes out poo-powered motorbike

mike 32
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I unilaterally...

declare this pun the winner.

Amazon fans order three Fires for every E Ink Kindle

mike 32

I dunno...

I love my kindle - it's a viable replacement for a book, in terms of easy-on-the-eye use.

I'm (only?) 29, but I find I hold my cellphone further away from my face when I look at it, compared to years ago, or younger (teens) extended family members. My eyes are knackered after a day on my laptop without my glasses. A fondleslab would just make all that worse.

I don't have a fondleslab because between my laptop and my bb, I don't have the need to play games, browse photos surf the net or do whatever else people who *still use their tablets six months after buying it* do.

The kindle is a *book* replacement, NOT a crap-screene tablet, and it's damn good at what it was designed to do. I don't see them going anywhere.

South Africa joins the call for BlackBerry messaging keys

mike 32

Details re the "London Conference"

The comments were made at SATNAC - the South African Telecommunications and Network Applications Conference, an annual conference hosted by Telkom, SA's monopolistic fixed-line operator, known for poor service, overcharging, poor broadband speeds (384kbps is still considered "broadband" here), hosted this year in East London, a city in the Eastern Cape.

RIM, please don't give up our privacy! The ANC has turned evil, and I'll bet this has nefarious intentions.

Further info here: http://www.satnac.org.za/

I presented a paper from my MSc at SATNAC a few years ago - seems a good party was had in general by all except me - hit by a strep throat right after I presented in the first breakout session.

Curved light drives boffin one-upmanship

mike 32
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That is of course, entirely correct.

My grasp of the correct terminology is clearly a bit rusty.

Vector = speed with a direction. Velocity is a vector.

Scalar = speed without a direction. Ones' respective economy/government/Republican Primaries is a scalar.

mike 32

Not sure about being too picky, but...

The term "acceleration" is used wrt vectors - the light has both velocity (c), and direction. The velocity remains the same around the obstacle, but the direction changes - and a change in the direction of a vector is termed acceleration, even if the velocity remains constant. A change in velocity without a change in direction is also termed acceleration.

A scalar is like a vector, but without a direction - hence a change in direction of a scalar does not result in acceleration.

I hope that's all correct. It's been along time since first-year physics, but I stumbled over "acceleration" being a change in direction of a vector at first.

I don't have an answer to the question about whether the outer edge of the beam travels faster than the inner edge, will be interesting to get clarity on that point. Maybe the beam velocity remains at c for all points on the curve, resulting in a beam with a slanted leading edge, instead of straight?

Sony S1 and S2 screenshots leaked

mike 32


A proprietary power connector? Are they serious?

If I had any possible, imaginable use for a tablet, Sony would have just removed their offering from ANY consideration with that proprietary connector.


RIM launches five BlackBerry smarties

mike 32

Will bb7 be ported to their existing line-up at some stage?

Because bb6 is alright at best, constantly getting complaints from the wife about bugs in her 9780. I'm not interested in getting bb6 on my 9700 after seeing it on the 9780.

Dawn creeps closer to Clanger homeworld Vesta

mike 32


I misread "shadow" at first - talk about a quickening of heart rate - an atmosphere!

The ridges/valleys remind me of Mars' two moons as well - very intriguing and exciting! I hope it's not something as boring as the gravitational tides as postulated above.



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