* Posts by Malmesbury

69 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Oct 2011


Musk: 'Tesla's electric Model S cars will be less crap soon. I PROMISE'


The Tesla supercharger stations can "fill up" at a rate of 170 miles of range in 30 minutes - though topping off if you are at 80% charge will be slower.

Interestingly, electric cars become more efficient the slower you drive. Extra traffic would actually extend your range....

Paul Allen hunts down sunken Japanese WWII super-battleship


Re: Who trained the Japanese to torpedo bomb?

Blackburn Skua

RN doctrine for air power was a mess - read "They gave me a Seafire" to understand the gap between the plan and reality.


Re: unappreciated prophets

Billy Mitchell got court martialed because he screwed up the chance to do scientific tests of bomb damage to ships. It was well understood that an unmanned ship at anchor was easy to sink.

In fact, as a result of his grand standing, the US Army standardised on high level bombing against ships. A tactic that proved totally useless when the unsporting chaps on ships being attacked tried turning the steering wheel thingy when someone dropped a bomb....

Bad news: Robo-cars will make you work billions more hours. Good news: In 2040


Re: Job Creation

You can easily argue that paying your staff more, and keeping your prices below the maximum you can squeeze out of the purchaser builds "good will" (through quality, responsiveness, long term relationships with purchasers) - a very valuable item on the balance sheet of many business.

In fact a number of businesses operate in exactly that manner and for that exact reason.


Re: Job creation

No - they vote in a new elite. Which becomes exactly like the old elite. Examine the Labour Party closely, for example.

US Senators hope to crack down on the trade of private information


Re: Sounds interesting, but....

Actually, this is a cross party issue - just as in the UK. In both countries there is a substantial portion of the political establishment that believes that collecting lots and lots of data about every one is just great - especially when the government shares it for free.

Oh, and they get an exemption for them and their friends, contributors etc.

However, there is a growing segment on both sides of the political divide, in both countries, that disagrees.

Lobby them and then vote according to the actual record/views of the candidate.....

Bloke in Belgium tries to trademark Je Suis Charlie slogan



er... If you go to Iran, they have lots of picture of Mo about. Quite alot of reproductions of medieval icon style in the shops. Shops which are the gift shops (pretty much) of the mosques at major Islamic centers.

One of the weird thing about the Sunni vs Shia thing is that both sides often pretend the other doesn't exists, nor do their religious practices. Imagine Catholics saying that Protestants aren't Christians - no, heretic doesn't mean that....

SpaceX in ROCKET HOVERSHIP PRANG: 'Close – but no cigar,' says Musk


The first stage is 80-90% of the value of the whole rocket. If they can just gas-and-go.. well, ask your boss what would happen to the business if you could make 80% of the costs go away....

Yes this is very high compared to many other launchers. The Falcon 9 uses one modified version of the first stage engines, a copy of the same computers, tankage made on the same tooling etc.

Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point


Re: If only..

" so hydrogen fuel cells to power them instead of large batteries and you're good to go, you top up similar to petrol (ok, takes a little longer to fill the tank and you need to make sure you've got a positive lock on the nozzle, but hey, it's quicker than plugging in a battery)."

By the time you do a purge (O2 + Liquid H2 = Boom), chill the lines down (room temperature to absolute zero plus a smidge), load the H2, reseal the tank, the chap in the Tesla will have unplugged from the supercharger and left.

EU VAT law could kill thousands of online businesses


Re: Amazon Seller Account

Remember IR35?

You still get Guardianistas jeering at how this showed the evil big outsourcing firms what was what. Yes, they often seem believe that it was something to do with taxing big companies.

A law which was basically drawn up by Accenture and PWC to try and drive individual contractors out of the market.


Re: This is entirely UNreasonable

"watch the blighters order red wine with fish"

That always catches out the SMERSH assassin, old man.

Toyota to launch hydrogen (ie, NATURAL GAS) powered fuel cell hybrid


"At the moment, batteries aren't nearly as efficient enough to take the place of a fuel cell."

Have you actually examined a Tesla S?

The truth is that in the 80s, hydrogen fuel cells looked like the winner. Batteries would never be good enough - that was the conventional wisdom.

The thing is that the limits of hydrogen storage are at the hard physical limits. Batteries have a long way to go before they hit the theoretical limits. And they already can deliver a practical vehicle.

Hydrogen has many features the advocates forget - no, not the alarmist nonsense but : Slower filling time than petrol (don't agitate your deep crogens, they don't like it), boil off (go on holiday and your tank will be empty when you come back), total removal of air from the fuel system (no combinations of hydrogen and oxygen please)..... As to making a hydrogen vehicle safe to use - I think they can. At a cost

The truth is that a fuel cell car is an electric car. To get decent range it even needs a battery - to store energy from regenerative braking.

'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett


Michael Howard now stands out as an example of liberal mindness in Home Secretaries. Does that make you giggle, or weep?

His description of how, after every incident, a variety of civil servants would crawl out of the woodwork, bearing measures that were variously - insane, fascist or both......

Branson on Virgin Galactic fatal crash: 'Space is hard – but worth it'


Re: Untested engine? @ MD Rackham

Typo for 96F


The reason for the massive delays for this project were issues with the hybrid rocket motors.

Read http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/10/30/apollo-ansari-hobbling-effects-giant-leaps/

This was published *before* the accident by a guy who's followed this program for years.

The short version - the engine ran very, very rough. Also inefficiently - to the point there were doubts about getting to space.

They'd just changed to a nylon based fuel in the hopes of an improvement. Also added were systems to inject helium and methane to control the burn.

I believe that as part of the investment deal with Aabar Investments (Abu Dabi's government investment fund) they had to demonstrate a flight to space before the end of 2014. Or return a big chunk of money.


Re: Untested engine? @ MD Rackham


10,000 lbs of Nitrous Oxide. In a tank. In the sun. In the Mojave desert.

Fun fact - at 9F Nitrous liquid gets to it's critical point. Sneeze and.... well, it decomposes. Kind of rapidly.


Re: Untested engine?

It hadn't been thoroughly ground tested. They were still tweeking it for stability. Hence all the methane and Helium injector stuff.

Tested would be

a) stable version

b) many runs of that version - usually dozens in major rocketry.

c) satisfactory performance in all of them.

Hell, even back in the X1 days that's how they did it with the XLR-11. Mind you, they did miss the leather-sealing-in-the-lox-system thing.....


Re: The Right Stuff

The important thing to remember about the Right Stuff is

a) It was written with a lot of input from Chuck Yeager. Who strangely appears to be a demi god.

2) Anything it says about Gus Grissom is rubbish

Virgin's SpaceShipTwo crashes in Mojave Desert during test flight


A deeply flawed project

The reason for the massive delays for this project were issues with the hybrid rocket motors.

Read http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/10/30/apollo-ansari-hobbling-effects-giant-leaps/

This was published *before* the accident by a guy who's followed this program for years.

The short version - the engine ran very, very rough. Also inefficiently - to the point there were doubts about getting to space.

They'd just changed to a nylon based fuel in the hopes of an improvement. Also added were systems to inject helium and methane to control the burn.

I believe that as part of the investment deal with Aabar Investments (Abu Dabi's government investment fund) they had to demonstrate a flight to space before the end of 2014. Or return a big chunk of money.

Computing student jailed after failing to hand over crypto keys


Re: Arrests

"You know, for a club that sold itself as "socialists", New Labour have engaged in some serious mowing down of human rights when they were in power.. Makes you wonder what they had to hide that they were so enthusiastically expanding the surveillance state.."

You may remember that they were selling themselves as the "Third Way" - nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that one

Arthur Moeller van den Bruck was going to write a book entitled the "Third Way". But he changed it to a much snappier title in the end. Which inspired a generation. And how.....

Cold War spy aircraft CRASHED Los Angeles' air traffic control



The pertinent bit

"One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. 'Ninety knots,' ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. 'One-twenty on the ground,' was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was 'Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,' ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter's mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ' Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.' We did not hear another transmis sion on that frequency all the way to the coast."

Reports pump fuel into iCar gossip: Apple in 'talks' with Tesla


Hydrogen powered cars are actually electric cars....

They have a fuel cell instead of a battery - that is pretty much it. In fact Hydrogen powered cars may well have a small battery to smooth out power spikes and for storing power from regenerative braking.

Refueling is an issue with Hydrogen. If you are using cryogenic hydrogen, then you can't pour it fast. If you do, lots of boil off. Then you have to cool the system down to take the hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen on room temperature metal - no no. Then you have to purge the lines of air.

It all can be done. But the idea you will slop the hydrogen in petrol style is sadly not true.

So the question is whether the inconveniences of hydrogen will outweigh the inconveniences of batteries.

IMHO it looks like there is more room inside the laws of physics to improve batteries...

Elon Musk scrubs lucrative MONEY RING debut again on Thanksgiving


Re: Whoops

If you want to bring stuff back from ISS, you use either Dragon or Soyuz. Those are the only options.


A very mangled version of what happened

NASA started by sole sourcing their cargo transport to the ISS to Kistler, who were developing a two stage reusable launcher.

Kistler by this stage consisted of a lot of ex-NASA people who outsourced all the actual rocket stuff to various giant aerospace companies. Costs escalated and delivery dates rolled to the right in traditional aerospace style.

SpaceX filed a protest about sole sourcing the contract - federal law mandates competitive bidding except in certain circumstances. After winning, their bid won - along with Kistler. So, a two horse race.

Then Kistler ran into a slight problem. They ran out of money before actually finishing anything. They couldn't find the half billion dollars they needed to actually build something. So they went bankrupt. Note that the extra money they needed to finish was far more SpaceX (or Orbital) spent in total on their systems.

So down to one bid. So NASA made some noises and Orbital came up with their bid to be the second supplier. And got a better deal (more money for less stuff) than SpaceX, by the way.

Both Orbital and SpaceX have only received money form NASA in competitive contracts based on actual work done.

To many (like me) the bankruptcy of Kistler was a sign of why the COTS program was a better way to go - I you fail, you fail. What a shame. Not.

The Ares I project collapsed due to the fact that the stupid design wasn't fixable - the vibration from the solid first stage ranged from I-cant-see-the-instruments (really!) to Ive-been-shaken-to-death (literally). By the end of the program, it couldn't lift an Orion capsule all the way to orbit because of the weight of the shock absorbing systems required to reduce the vibration. Not to mention an 18G escape tower system that used a rocket the size of an IRBM to... fail to escape the debris cloud if the first stage went boom...

Headmaster calls cops, tries to dash pupil's uni dreams - over a BLOG


Re: Twas ever thus

Ironically, the education establishment is up in arms over the Free Schools precisely because they aren't identikit sausage factories.

The dirty little secret about Comprehensives is this - the few that get their pupils into the top universities regularly use the "Evul Private School" examining board A levels.

Funny how no-one has noticed that.

We have Secondary Moderns right now. It's just that they don't label them that way.

PRISM leaks: WTF, you don't spy on your friends, splutters EU


Re: Sauce for the goose

Some years ago, a US trade delegation deliberately said some things in a location that they suspected was bugged.

The French government was actually upset when it turned out it was a deliberate setup to stuff a French company.

Tesla unveils battery-swapping tech for fast car charging


Re: Someone has has missed the plot

NIce try - but, no, I don't own one. Not an early adopter. I know a couple of people who do, though.

The battery on the Model S was designed to be swappable - not just replaceable - this was mentioned before and during the launch.

If you want to be able to swap a 1/2 ton in/out of a car by robot, it has to be designed for that. Doing it so that a mechanic can do it it in a couple of hours would be be a completely different problem in engineering terms.

The data on battery wear from the Roadster is interesting, by the way. Looks like a temperature controlled battery with decent charging control does some quite interesting stuff for battery life. Something on the order of 1.5% per annum degradation, apparently.


Someone has has missed the plot

Aside from there being a rather long waiting list to buy their cars, and they are increasing production....

I find it rather interesting that everyone on this thread has not noticed that the Model S was engineered from the start to have a swappable battery. Which was mentioned at the launch of the car....

Not even Comet crashing into Earth can keep Dixons out of the red


Re: Sit back and let the comments roll in

The staff (and their behavior) are largely a function of the company and it's policies. When Woolworth's was on the local high street, the staff looked appalling - like zombies. Must have been hell to work there.

Waitrose took the site. Some of the same people work there - now look like humans.

One reason that John Lewis is doing so well is not the employee ownership thing (directly). It's that their sales staff aren't on a commission structured to flog you stuff you don't want and they are encouraged to use their initiative to solve customer problems.

In Dixons, going off the required sales script is a "BAD THING". So you end up with a store full of people who aren't interested in what they are selling, just flogging guarantees etc. They are being paid to do this, recruited to do this, told to do this........

In John Lewis customer satisfaction is their company goal. So you end up with someone who tries to help you get what you want.

Elon Musk pledges transcontinental car juicers by end of year


Re: Fossil fuel isn't taxed?????

What you need to talk about is the "well-to-wheels" cycle. Petrol doesn't just appear in petrol stations after all.

When that is considered, electric vehicles are the equivalent of high miles-per-gallon vehicles - a Tesla Model S get 89 mpg (equivalent), according to the US EPA and the Leaf gets 112 mpg

That's for charging of the US grid....


Re: Half that number

Interestingly, Roadsters owners report a much lower degradation rate than the quotes spec.

Which is what you would expect - you would leave a considerable margin in a product.

The reason for this is that the Tesla battery system uses non-bleeding edge cells and is very nice to them - monitored, controlled charging, heating/cooling to keep the temperature stable etc.

Most peoples experience of Li batteries is in mobile phones and laptops. The car equivalent of how they treat the battery would be to empty your radiator and do doughnuts and smoke your tires every day.....

'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test


Re: When did?

Mind you, back then, when they made archery - with specified military grade arrows and bows - compulsory, they banned football.

Too dangerous, apparently..... Seriously, football was then a two sided riot for possession of the ball. Deaths were common. No, wait....

Wonder what happens when the first time someone uses a coil gun for Bad Things?

Better Place electric car outfit goes titsup


In wheel motors have a serious problem - they add massively to un-sprung weight.

Batteries suck as crunch zones - dense, solid.

The evidence on battery life seems to be that treat the battery decently - controlled charging to a profile, cooling to prevent temperature excursions etc - massively extends electric vehicle battery life compared to the lig=fe span of a laptop battery.

Thumb Up

Bingo - remember that Tesla had a problem with the crazy torque from a high power electric motor destroying the best gearboxes they could find....

The big issue for electric cars is battery capacity. Real world data from Tesla and others shows that battery life is much better than you might think - intelligent charging systems that don't brutally trash the battery, they way that your laptop or mobile does....

With battery capacity up to say 500 miles on a single charge (probable within the decade), the issue about charging time goes away.

So you are left with a mechanically simple vehicle that can a 911 at the lights....

Paul Allen buys lovingly restored vintage V-2 Nazi ballistic missile


Re: British Intelligence

Much of it was down to the fact that Admiral Canaris (head of the German Secret Service) was probably working for/with British Intelligence.

The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex


Re: good to be able to look on this so light-heartedly

Small towns in Germany are 20Kt apart....

Impoverished net user slams 'disgusting' quid-a-day hack


Re: Good Show ol' chap


I remember a visit to Nepal. A camp site that was literally in a shit state. Hip touristas managed to whine about it, but did nothing.

A British army group arrived - officer cadets in the charge of an RSM straight out of Zulu. Apparently they were touring round the country to actually learn about it. Said RSM looked around and said "Right". or something to that effect. And went to talk to the locals about what they reckoned was the solution.

24 hours later, when they left, a functional outhouse had been constructed from dry stone walling. Built by the cadets. And the er.... problem tidied up a bit.

The right out types were still hating on the evil military. While using the outhouse.

Your phone may not be spying on you now - but it soon will be


Re: Mass profiling

But a "Man in a suit" will show up to save you from crime. If you live in New York.

63 TRILLION maths ops a second - in 5 inches? Mm, show me


Re: You could cut quite a bit off the price...

Double precision support is the big difference for the commercial cards

I salute Lady THATCHER - Shoreditch's SILICON GODMOTHER


Re: Seen elsewhere

Incidentally the titans of the civil service "planning" wanted to discourage all this mucking about with "toy" computers. They wanted British industry to concentrate on the main frame market where all real computing is done.

There is a hilarious minute of a meeting that was published a while back about how Maggie et al didn't understand that home use of computers was pointless fad that would obviously never go anywhere and that companies needed to be "redirected" in the "national interest"

Hold on! Degrees for all doesn't mean great jobs for all, say profs


Re: Where lawyers go to die - or at least smell bad

To be fair to layers (not something I do on a regular basis) a law degree will be seen as useful and work related in many jobs which are not actually being a layer. Essentially you will be seen as having studied something serious and potentially useful.

One part of this that doesn't get mentioned enough is this. The cry that "everyone must go to uni" was based on the idea that they is no industry in this country so everyone needs to get a white collar job. Ironically, there are very large numbers of "blue collar" jobs in the UK and many are now paid far better than crappy white collar jobs.

These "blue collar" jobs require skills and training. A degree from a second rate university in something bland isn't much help.

We are being trapped by a pre 1950 view that getting on in life means getting into an office. Otherwise you end up shoveling coal or something.

Model S selling better than expected, says Tesla


Re: Tesla: the ultimate in man Maths

Which is exactly the kind of investment required to design some cars and setup a car factory. Which can produce 10 of thousands of cars. *Per year*....

In fact that is pretty cheap by motor industry standards.


Re: Leccy? No!!

Fuel cell cars are, in fact, electric cars.

Electric motors. Check

Regenerative braking for decent range. Check

Battery to support regenerative braking. Check


Fuels cells are best thought of as an interesting kind of battery

SpaceX: 'We have control, it's just a glitch' Musk tells world+dog


Re: Secret payload

Besides, they duct taped him to the inside of the interstage....


Re: contingency plans

Have you seen some of the Funky Fun things that Soyuz and Progress do?

My favourite is the orbit module on Soyuz not detaching, so that Soyuz re-enters the wrong way round. Apparently the astronauts get to see the hatch seal starting to smoke, before the orbit module burns off and the Soyuz does an instant 180 at 15,000mph+. This has happened twice.

Progress has numerous incidents on the way to the station. Computers up and down like a merry go round...

As for NASA - the Shuttle program was full of near misses. Look up STS-27

Spanish cops cuff 11 for €1m-a-year ransomware scam


Some years ago the Economist crunched the numbers on gang members in LA.

Working at McDonalds would have doubled their take home pay.....

Spanish boffins increase GPS accuracy by 90%


Re: GPS technicalities

1) The Amerixcan military moved away from degrading the unencrypted signal on GPS years ago. The unencrypted accuracy is the same as the encrypted. The limit is pretty much physics now.

2) They have actually removed the degradation feature from new satellites added to the constellation - as the older satellites go out of use, this option becomes less and less possible.

3) The reason the Q code is encrypted is not secrecy. It was assumed when GPS was designed that the Russian equivalent would be up and running rapidly. The Q code is there to make it harder to jam (lock on the signal when jamming is actually louder than the signal - think listening for a known tune) and to make it very, very, very hard to spoof (you would have to know the code to broadcast a fake signal).

Assange takes refuge in Ecuadorian embassy


Re: extradition of an Australian citizen from th UK

None of the potential charges carry the death penalty in the US.

Shipping him to Gitmo can't happen either - the whole point of Gitmo is as an end run round the judicial process. If he gets extradited to the US he goes into the judicial system on landing.

There is not the slightest evidence that Sweden would extradite him to the US.

The suggestion that Swedish prisons are too awful to contemplate is hilarious. Prison reform movements around the world use Swedish prisons as an example of how it should be done.....

US military gives NASA two better-than-Hubble telescopes


JWST has eaten all the money. Bet you that the James Webb telescope management are trying to put these sets of optics on eBay as we speak.

Sky News admits two counts of computer hacking



So if there is no public interest defence, should the following be prosecuted?

1) Everyone involved in Wikileak?

2) The Telegraph be prosecuted for releasing details of the MPs expenses.

3) The Guardian - they admited phone hacking an Evul Oligarch a while back. They also released the Assad emails....

4) Any MP who has received leaked government documents?

5) Amnesty International often releases documents that aren't theirs.

All of the above have either carried out, encouraged or been complicit in technical breaches of these laws.