* Posts by Jonathan Richards

140 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Jan 2007


Japan claims latest long distance e-car record

Jonathan Richards


Wassat? I bet you meant 'gunwales', didn't you. Right noise, wrong spelling. Ask Leicester Haines for an opinion.

Honda develops motorised unicycle

Jonathan Richards

@Martin 19

El Reg he say: "A collection of small-diameter motorised wheels connected in-line to form a single large-diameter wheel allow the U3-X to make 360° movements, Honda said.".

I'll admit that that isn't up to patent drafting language standards, but it still sounds significantly different to the Mecanum wheel described in the Wikipedia article you cited. The Mecanum wheel has unpowered rollers attached at 45 deg to the bearing surface, so that one can obtain sideways movement by rotating front and back axles in opposite directions. No "small diameter motorised wheels" involved at all.

Unless you meant that the Mecanum wheel was the one used on Robot Wars, I suppose.

Belkin preps Wi-Fi gadget-sharer

Jonathan Richards

Missing port

That's no bloody good. My printer attaches to /dev/lp0 on a parallel port.

Nokia launches laptop

Jonathan Richards
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Not just phones

> the formerly phone-only firm

Not so. I'm still watching a Nokia television. Sure, they may have forgotten that they ever made such a thing, but it's still going.

BMW opens up to haptic car doors

Jonathan Richards

How does that work?

> a bar running through the centre of the door determines an opening restriction in relation to the distance of the potential danger

I was trying to imagine how this worked, in terms of the inertia of some bloody great lump of metal which moves relative to the hinge, and then I realized what it was on about.

If there's a bike coming, the bar is opened (less of an opening restriction, you see), and you're tempted to stay and have a glass of something instead of knocking some geezer under an oncoming bus. Sortid!

Seven Japanese poisoned by blowfish 'nads

Jonathan Richards


If I remember correctly, the pufferfish doesn't synthesize the tetrodotoxin itself, it acquires it from coral or algae that it eats. That being so, the toxicity of different individual pufferfish of this particular species varies enormously, and if you were to raise one in the absence of a supply of the toxin, it would be perfectly safe.

Disclaimer: experiment at your own risk, aquarium-owners. Skull & Crossbones, obviously.

Jaunty Jackalope alpha 3 spotted in wild

Jonathan Richards

@Wavey - sorting out the toons

<quote>Wasn't winblows code name once longhorn. like the rooster on loony toons? People should have know better than to trust a os that was codenamed after a darn loony toon.</quote>

The rooster was Foghorn Leghorn (Leghorn being a breed of chicken). The code name you're thinking of was Longhorn (Longhorn being a breed of bull...)

Man trademarks ;-) emoticon

Jonathan Richards

Ask your lawyer...

...for a quick five minutes on the differences between trademarks (used to mark items of trade, unsurprisingly), patents (to protect inventions) and copyright (to protect expressions).

Here's my IANAL summary: You can license patents and copyrights, but not trademarks, so the bloke is off his trolley. An emoticon is not patentable, nor yet copyrightable, so fuggedaboutit.

Telegraph.co.uk succumbs to typo irony

Jonathan Richards

At the risk of being Bee-stung...

...I'll point out that this article comes from the organ currently punting the Engelbart anniversary article with "The Mother of All Demos: 150 years ahead if its time".

There, there. You are not even remotely in the same league as the festive vegetation seller advertising with a sign on a fence (just outside Bath) which reads:

"EXMAS TREE'S Here Saturday"

Yes! It's the GPS game!

Jonathan Richards
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Old wine in new bottles.

Geocaching has been around for ages, and you don't need proprietary software for a tiny subset of GPS-equipped kit to take part. Virtual gold? Now that IS sad.

Roadpricing satnav spybox trials under way

Jonathan Richards

Slow down to go faster

> lowered speed limits at peak times, which enable a given number of motorway lanes to get a significant amount more traffic through in a given time.

Eh? How does that work? We are encouraged to follow behind the vehicle in front with a gap of no less than two seconds. That means a maximum of 30 vehicles per minute, no matter what their speed. 1800 vehicles per hour per lane, tops, unless you want to close it up and be held responsible in the event of a rear-end shunt.

The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

Jonathan Richards

@Flocke Kroes

<quote>To get the same 'out of the box' functionality as an XP or Vista machine from Linux, I recommend deleting most of the software, removing half the memory and posting your paypal account details on some news groups.</quote>

That's just made for a .sig block. May I?

Google UK honours Queen Liz 2.0

Jonathan Richards

@Edward Rose

> I suppose ... that 'Queen of England' is the main title

The Queen's title in the UK is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith".

Source: http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page5658.asp

@MGJ - don't argue, it ain't worth it.

MoD admits data loss bigger than thought

Jonathan Richards


El Reg babbled:

>"Ainsworth said the MoD holds data records for 200m people."

No he bloody didn't. You linked to the statement, I suppose you must have read it?

What he said was:

"We have undertaken a series of comprehensive reviews into our personal data holdings, looking wider than our personnel systems, and assess that we hold in excess of 200 million records."

If you take a wide enough view of what constitutes personal data, then it's not hard to see that one can accumulate 200 million records (the word 'record' has a specific meaning to people who understand databases) relevant to many fewer than 200 million people.

RIPA ruling closes encryption key loophole

Jonathan Richards

You bastards...

...you just put the phrase 'blowing up the Houses of Parliament' in my internet cache. Do you have any idea how many electrons will be inconvenienced in GCHQ by your loose language?

Asus offers replacement Eee Boxes after Japanese virus strike

Jonathan Richards

Japanese virus trike?

I'd be interested in who might ride a Japanese virus trike. Or maybe the wheel has come off your proofreader.

DARPA seeks Special Forces submersible aeroplane

Jonathan Richards
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Been waiting years for this...

I first used the US "Thesaurus of Engineering and Scientific Terms" in 1986. It's a big tome full of hierarchically-structured terms to be used for controlled vocabulary indexing. (Listen, this was before full-text indexing came along, promising to replace proper indexers, but failing to deliver. I'm looking at you, Google).

Anyway, there was a huge tree of terms under Aircraft, including the narrower term Submersible Aircraft. We never had to use that one, but I lived in hope.

Royal Navy won't fight pirates 'in case they claim asylum'

Jonathan Richards

Cranking up the Tw*t-O-Tron

At the risk of being identified as a tub-thumper, I have a question about modern naval training. It used to be a point of pride for a bosun's mate to be able to organize an efficient and humane hanging at a yard-arm. Is this skill missing from today's Navy?

[the only time this icon, or its late lamented forebear, has been geniunely useful]

Scientists study near-death sensations

Jonathan Richards

This way to your destination...

an AC wrote:

> Had enough of that on the Northern Line.

But this is apparently the Metropolitan Line, judging by the layout of the map posters on left and right. The bright light is probably wielded by somebody soliciting donations while playing a saxophone. Let's hope that this isn't Er's abiding impression of heaven.

Beauty contest judge canned for slamming 'munter' contestants

Jonathan Richards
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Tattoos and judgements

@Spang: latin quotes are one thing, and Chinese/Japanese ideograms are another. I wonder how many people are walking around with risible Chinese fragments permanently etched on their anatomy, or worse proudly displaying the Japanese for "Round-Eyed Idiot". (Reminds me of a guy who maintained he made a living at one time generating Latin mottoes for dozy people having faux coats of arms made. One that I semi-remember was the phrase that the wannabe aristos thought meant "I have made my luck" (felix), but actually meant "I've put the cat out").

@Mr Nonken

> Calling somebody ugly is a judgement (sic)

Judgments are exactly what judges are called upon to make.

Blame game over United Airlines stock crash rumbles on

Jonathan Richards

Check the source, Luke

WTF? Doesn't anybody check upstream on stories any more? I mean, none of us expect Slashdotters to RTFA, but surely if you're going to (a) punt a story about a bankruptcy out onto the Internets or (b) sell your investments, it might just be a good idea to see if you can verify? The bankruptcy court dockets would be a good place to start.

Maybe markets work *too* quickly, and this degree of responsiveness is a Bad Thing. Ergo, we should take away their computers, and send them back to trading with paper. Who would suffer?

Academic wants to 'free up' English spelling

Jonathan Richards

'Free up' from what or whom?

The Prof. has got a long struggle on his hands; the OED doesn't have the force of law, and there is no central authority for spelling. So he can advocate what he likes, but what practical change does he propose? An Act of Parliament to Codify English Spelling? It would take longer than any single Parliament to draft it. An Act of Parliament to Forbid Spelling Corrections? Good luck with that one in the manifesto.

Oz cops call up phone records after car smashes

Jonathan Richards
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>The sooner this comes in force in the Uk the better.

According to a recent episode of "Traffic Cop" it's not uncommon already.

Home Office reaches half-way hash in secure data handling

Jonathan Richards
Black Helicopters

Symmetric keys

Hmmm. I wonder whether the decision not to go for end-to-end public key encryption has anything to do with the HO wanting to be able to keep an eye on transmissions *within* the government secure intranet. If civil servants could engage in secure communication within and beyond the department, goodness knows what might happen!

Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered

Jonathan Richards

Cut that out!

>Their graph appears to disagree with the maps by a factor of three (10 per cent vs. 30 per cent) - hardly a trivial discrepancy.

Oi, that's Math Abuse. You can't take ratios of ratios like that; fourth form error, sir.

I see the author has "no current university affiliation".

There's a surprise, then.

SQL attacks inject government sites in US, UK

Jonathan Richards

UK sites compromised

Amending the google searches offered in TFA:

~3860 @ .co.uk

~2720 @ .gov.uk

~8 @ .ac.uk

0 @ .mod.uk

Draw your own conclusions. I'd just like to say that from the web surfer's point of view, this is a very clear reason to have Firefox and the NoScript extension.

Suprise at spelling snafu sanctions

Jonathan Richards

@Martin Lyne

> Oh and less people that say "think" instead of "thing",

Fewer, dammit. FEWER people that say "think" instead of "thing".

We don't have this confusion with 'many' and 'much'. 'Many' and 'few' are for countable quantities. 'Much' and 'less' are for continuous quantities.

I thank you. I am getting fewer of these attacks, provided that I take my meds.

Sony to gather gadget gold

Jonathan Richards

The problem is the separation

While gadgets may contain more precious metals than the corresponding natural ores, they're combined with really unpleasant organic compounds in the plastics cases and PCBs, etc. that makes the separation process really fraught. There are reportedly reclamation sites in China where the effluents and pollutants are ignored to the great detriment of the workers and residents around them. I hope that the Japanese 'outsourcing' is not just feeding a dirty industry.

George Orwell joins blogging fray

Jonathan Richards
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> There has to be a word for that

The Meaning of Liff (http://folk.uio.no/alied/TMoL.html) is no help in this instance.

In that spirit, I suggest

Dorking (n), [from Dork (v.i.)]

To post a smart comment containining an elementary error to the entire Internet.

We've all done it. People on Slashdot do it all the time.

Toyota unveils Segway rivals

Jonathan Richards
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> electric lard chariot

Well played, sir! <polite applause>

Russians withdraw Lake Baikal record claim

Jonathan Richards

@Luther Blissett

> What's 331 feet out of 5510?

6.0072595281306715063520871143376%, apparently.

I'm not sure why you're asking, though, because the discrepancy is 330 feet if you're silly enough to do the arithmetic on the rounded conversions into archaic units, or 100m = 328 feet if you work with metres.

If 6% is piffling, perhaps you'd like to remit that proportion of your income to an educational charity of your choice?

NZ judge saves girl from bloody silly name

Jonathan Richards

Goes back a long way

OK, not naming kids after their point of conception, maybe, but Florence Nightingale was named Florence after the city of her birth, the first to be so named, and that became popular. Her sister Parthenope didn't have quite the same impact, though.

Climate protestor claims glued self to UK Prime Minister

Jonathan Richards
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Not soapy water...

To separate nutcase from politico you need a number two scalpel, junior hacksaw, and a tourniquet (optional).

That should reduce the number of copycat instances. Sortid.

Quirky blank Qwerty keyboard goes on sale

Jonathan Richards

Good for learning

I learned to touch type on a typewriter (note for the experience-impaired: a mechanical device for squeezing ink in letter shapes from a ribbon onto paper) without key legends. It did have colour coded key caps, though, as a guide to which finger was meant to be used. A great learning aid - I've never looked back since. Or down. Much.

Consider yourself Moderatrixed

Jonathan Richards

Who moderates the Moderatrix?

> I myself used to quite literally feel your pain

Is this an example of colony collapse disorder? Surely the REAL Ms Bee would not split an infinitive so egregiously, and so soon after chiding a correspondent for a misplaced apostrophe?

Yes! It's the RC beer delivery system!

Jonathan Richards

Oh, that RC

I thought you meant that the Archbishop of Westminster was tooling up for the brewery trade.

AVG fake traffic spares Google AdWords

Jonathan Richards

@AC Marketing data and landing pages

> Most marketing execs use page counters and time on page and click through data to determine how successful their campaign is.

Which makes them a bunch of morons who'll be first against the wall, yadda yadda.

Marketing is about creating a demand for your service or product. If you run a campaign and demand increases, you did it right. If it didn't, you didn't. Click-through data and time on page are NOT GOOD MARKETING MEASURES, just because somebody can generate a pretty graph from the webserver logs. Sheesh.

Jonathan Richards

The computer done it...

At the moment, webmasters, the deluded web analytics bofflets and the Law all assume that web access is driven by humans, who are there to be { counted | exploited | prosecuted } as required.

I've been using the Fasterfox add-in to Firefox (2.0, doesn't work with 3.0 yet) which pre-fetches pages, and for years before that, when I was on dialup and Windows (I'm cured now) I used a little proxy tool, the name of which escapes me, which did much the same thing.

My conclusion is that I have been miscounted considerably, misexploited much less (because of Ad Block and Privoxy) and luckily not prosecuted at all. Many of my html GET requests are generated by my computer without my intervention. Am I a bad person?

MoD proposes Salisbury Plain spy-plane droid playground

Jonathan Richards
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@AC, missing things

> Maybe MoD(PE) should cancel Watchkeeper

There hasn't been a Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive for well over ten years. It became the Defence Procurement Agency, and now that too has dissolved and merged with the Defence Logistics Agency to form Defence Equipment and Support.

Org change. What we do best.

AVG scanner blasts internet with fake traffic

Jonathan Richards

Serves you all right...

... for trying to make money with the Internet. Bring back ARPANET, sez I.

Mine's the moth-eaten Afghan. Ta.

UK civil servant leaves Top Secret Iraq war intelligence documents on a train

Jonathan Richards

Parody or security marking

Her Britannic Majesty's Government is reluctant to share with the citizenry the precise meaning of its protective markings, but the New Zealand Government appears to be more open. http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/cabinet/circulars/co08/1.html might help if you ever pick something up on a train and think it might be a film prop., or maybe this document from ACPO which is getting elderly but still essentially correct: http://www.acpo.police.uk/asp/policies/Data/prot_marking_scheme_report_19feb01.doc

Jonathan Richards

@Steve Mann

> I doubt most people would think of the police as a proper place to hand in anything found on a railway carriage.

A sad reflection. Maybe people's first reaction is the playground "finders keepers", and their second reaction to calculate what's in it for them? If this document had been properly carried, it would have been in a folder clearly marked "This document is the property of Her Britannic Majesty's Government, yadda, yadda", and there would have been no doubt in a citizen's mind what he should do with it. Since it was not, I conclude that the finder must have looked at the content at least as far as the security marking before deciding to call the Beeb.

The multinational caveat is entirely proper, btw. News stories about lost documents frequently headline them as "Top Secret..." when they aren't but this one, judging by the photograph, really was. To have it on the train was either premeditated criminality or mind-bogglingly stupid, umm, criminality.

Jonathan Richards

@Rich Bee

Do you really think that TOP SECRET is a marking used only in the movies? It exists so that we can clearly mark documents needing the top level of protection. Having a different code word every week would be a bit counter-productive. So yes, Top Secret documents are marked as such, (and in this case, according to the photograph, with its codeword and a multinational eyes caveat too.)

I understand that you believe you have a special insight that the rest of the sheeple lack, but try to keep a sense of the practical.

Jonathan Richards

@Man Outraged, and others on the Official Secrets Act

> What jury would convict a member of the public keen to see that the security of the security services is improved through press scrutiny?!

A judge would be correct in directing a guilty verdict on the facts. Here's the words from the OSA 1911 Section 1, as amended, and with bits irrelevant to this case elided:


1. Penalties for spying.— If any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State—

obtains, collects, records, or publishes or communicates to any other person ... any ... document or information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy; he shall be guilty of felony

On a prosecution under this section, it shall not be necessary to show that the accused person was guilty of any particular act tending to show a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, ... and if any ... document ... is ... collected, recorded, published, or communicated by any person other than a person acting under lawful authority, it shall be deemed to have been ... collected, recorded, published or communicated for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State unless the contrary is proved.


So, passing a TOP SECRET document on to anyone except the police is a felony, and you have to *prove that you are not* acting prejudicially to the interests of the State. I think this covers the guy who lost it, the guy who found it, the BBC photographer that took the pretty piccy on the website, Frank Gardner, and persons unknown within the BBC.

Linksys revamps WRT54G wireless router

Jonathan Richards

Operating System?

The earlier WRT54G routers were based on a Linux operating system and could be amended (DD-WRT or HyperWRT) as mentioned. I believe some later WRT54G's were NOT Linux based, and I can see no information about OS for the WRT54G2 on the Linksys site. Does anyone know the answer?

Phoenix eats dirt

Jonathan Richards

Mars composition

They penetrated the chocolate surface and scooped up a bit of the toffee. Of course it doesn't fall through a 1mm screen.

Dissolving the plastic bag problem

Jonathan Richards
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Pseudomonas spp

...typically smell, if I remember microbiology practicals correctly. Or as Dr Jonson would have pointed out, they stink. Unless this is a particularly atypical species, or the Sphingomonas/Pseudomonas combo somehow manages not to produce an odour, that in itself is going to limit the practical domestic use.

Furthermore, what does one do with the biomass?

Having tracked down the article on The Record, though, it seems to have been an excellent bit of student scientific investigation. Good work.

Sanyo camcorders turns to tracking technology

Jonathan Richards

Pistol grip...

"so it might even look like you're holding a speed camera"

Of course, it might even look like you're holding a pistol. Since this looks like a pistol much more than a chair leg looks like a shotgun, I'd be careful in case some busybody on a bus feels like calling SO19.

Virgin Media and BPI join forces to attack illegal filesharing

Jonathan Richards

@Mark re Hey, BPI

I don't think copyright licensing works the way that you think it does. Just because you obtained something once from a legal source doesn't give you the copyright permission to duplicate and send copies on to world+dog willy-nilly. Disclosure isn't like the GPL, you'd need a formal licence agreed between you and the copyright holder (or an authorised agent), so good luck with arguing in court that "they wanted me to share it".

IANAL, obviously.


French FNARRista speed-cam bomber scores own goal

Jonathan Richards
Black Helicopters

Getting back to the point...

...which is to discuss IED design :)

Could he have been putting explosives around ping-pong ball halves to make a sort of shaped charge?

(Don't try this at home, children, and make sure that a responsible adult helps you with the energetic materials).