* Posts by Richard Scratcher

483 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Aug 2007


Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Richard Scratcher

To be sure, it's a grand paper from the CRU et al, et al, et al.

US aviation regulator issues safety bulletins over flaws in software updates for Boeing 747, 777, 787 airliners

Richard Scratcher


All they need is a system that automatically grounds the aircraft if it's affected by a serious software bug.

Considering the colonisation of Mars? Werner Herzog would like a word

Richard Scratcher

Why actually go to Mars...

...when you could take a virtual trip there? I heard that some tech company is working on a way to implant realistic memories of a visit IITRC.

Apple's global security boss accused of bribing cops with 200 free iPads in exchange for concealed gun permits

Richard Scratcher

"The briefs believe Moyer and Chadha were caught in the crossfire of a political fight between Smith and Rosen."

I thought it was Smith and Wesson.

We're not getting back with Galileo, UK govt tells The Reg, as question marks sprout above its BS*

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

GPS? What's wrong with just...

...stopping and asking for directions?

You E-diot! Formula E driver booted off Audi team after getting video game ace to take his place in online race

Richard Scratcher

Asking for a friend...

I've not heard of rFactor 2. Is the simulation real enough to check if you would be safe to drive a real car... if say you thought you had a virus or something, that had affected your eyesight?

Iran military manages to keep a straight face while waggling miracle widget that 'can detect coronavirus from 100m away'

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

ADE 651 - it's not just for detecting bombs!

From Wipikedia:

"The ADE 651 could detect items including guns, ammunition, drugs, truffles, human bodies, contraband ivory and bank notes at distances of up to 1 kilometre (0.62 mi), underground, through walls, underwater or even from aeroplanes at an altitude of up to 5 kilometres (3.1 mi). One promotional video claimed that the device could detect elephants from 48 kilometres (30 mi) away."

"It consisted of a hand unit on which a swinging antenna was mounted, linked to a box worn on the belt in which the cards were inserted to identify the "molecular frequency" of whatever the user wanted to detect. The cards were "programmed" by photocopying a Polaroid photograph of the target, cutting up the resulting copy and pasting the pieces between two squares of plastic."

So all that would be needed is a photo of the virus and then all those expensive ADE 651 devices lying around could be reprogrammed and put to good use.

Grab a towel and pour yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster because The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is 42

Richard Scratcher

I remember stumbling across the Radio Times magazine's listing (with accompanying illustration) for the show in 1978, when I was a schoolboy. I thought it was going to be some sort of documentary science programme about space. I listened to it in bed that evening and it was so amazingly funny, I just had to go and wake my brother for fear he would miss it.

Trying to explain the show to my school friends the next day was not easy.

No joy for all you Rover McRoverface fans: NASA's next Mars bot is christened Perseverance

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Marathon Mission

They should have named it Snickers - after the favourite horse of the Mars family.

How many times do we have to tell you? A Tesla isn't a self-driving car, say investigators after Apple man's fatal crash

Richard Scratcher

Re: Tesla never said it's driverless

It seems there may be some Tesla owners who aren't clear on this. I (nearly) watched this recent video from an owner of a model 3 Tesla.

About 2 minutes in he's talking about the various options on the car and says something like "...or pay an extra $7,000 for the full self-driving capability".

I stopped watching after that comment.

Is it a make-up mirror? Is it a tiny frisbee? No, it's the bonkers Cyrcle Phone, with its TWO headphone jacks

Richard Scratcher

Okay pilgrims, let's get these icons into a cyrcle

It could support a novel layout for the keypad display. With the digits laid out in a ring, you could touch the one you want and then swipe clockwise to dial it.

UK tax collectors warn contractors about being ripped-off – and not by HMRC for a change

Richard Scratcher

Taxed Adventure Games

Some of these fake websites are well crafted and very convincing. They employ the same hyperlink system of blind alleys and closed loops as the real HMRC web maze.

Virtual inanity: Solution to Irish border requires data and tech not yet available, MPs told

Richard Scratcher

Real inanity

Bojo never wanted Brexit. He led the Vote Leave campaign solely to boost his popularity - safe in the knowledge that he had no real chance of actually winning. That's why he looked so shocked and stunned and had no victory speech prepared when (against all predictions and bookies' odds) he did win. Both he and Gove then made themselves scarce until there was an opportunity for more fame. While they slunk away, the Maybot (who voted remain) stepped up to take the poisoned chalice of becoming Prime Minister following David Cameloon's resignation. After May had seriously buggered things up (as expected), it was time for Bojo to step forward and fulfil his impossible dream of becoming PM.

Sure, he knows he's going to fail but now he's got a long list of people to point the finger of blame at. He doesn't care about a successful Brexit or a no-deal disaster, because he's already achieved his impossible dream and anything that follows is of no consequence to him - because he is a self-serving sociopath.

Literally braking news: Two people hurt as not one but two self-driving space-age buses go awry

Richard Scratcher

Human error.

Replacing a human driver with an AI machine is only a partial solution, which is bound to fail. They need to replace the passengers and pedestrians too. That way the vehicle sensor data can be shared quickly and easily, using a simple short-range wireless data link, so that sudden stops can be anticipated and collisions avoided.

There would be many other potential advantages, such as pedestrians looking where they are going (rather than into their smartphones) and passengers avoiding turning up at the bus stop in groups larger than the capacity of the bus.

Apollo 11 @ 50: The long shadow of the flag

Richard Scratcher

Re: The most expensive dick swinging contest in history


America couldn't bare the thought of anyone else achieving this so decided to cross it off by any means necessary.

Which of those things is more realistic? Are people really still this thick?"

I see. So going to the moon was so impossible... that America decided to fake it... in case Russia achieved the impossible first.

That sort of logic requires a mind that's twisted like a Möbius strip!

Vulture gets claws on Lego's latest Apollo nostalgia-fest

Richard Scratcher

That flag looks a bit unrealistic.

Brexit: Digital border possible for Irish backstop woes, UK MPs told

Richard Scratcher

No problemo

The tech for managing border crossings has been readily available for decades.

The Quadro Tracker Positive Molecular Locator was produced way back in the 1990s, and its descendant - the British made ADE_651 - has been used in countries around the globe to detect explosives, drugs, ivory, cash, and a host of other substances.

Apple strips clips of WWDC devs booing that $999 monitor stand from the web using copyright claims. Fear not, you can listen again here...

Richard Scratcher


I didn't watch the live stream - but around that time I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out "What The Fsck!".

I feared something terrible had happened.

Japan on track to start testing Alfa-X, fastest train in the world with top speed of 400kph

Richard Scratcher

Top Gear

Railways (and other forms of public transport) have not been given the status and funding they deserve in the UK for many years.

In the 60s the Beeching cuts took away a third of the network. In the Thatcher years billions were spent on more roads whereas the railways were sold off into private hands. Now we have an expensive and complicated ticketing system that is so crazy you can actually get fined £50 for leaving a train before your planned destination! I can understand the problem with travelling more miles than I've paid for but less? I should be free to change my mind and leave a train if I feel like it.

The Chunnel brings European trains to UK cities. These fast trains had to slow down when they entered the tunnel... of course... but they had to slow down again as they exited the tunnel because our tracks are so crap.

I remember getting stuck in a huge tailback on the M6 motorway because a convoy of 3 low-loaders with a police escort was crawling along and spanning two lanes. The load they were moving was three new railway carriages being delivered from the factory. I later learned that it was too expensive to book time on the tracks to send them by rail!

Maglev and the linear induction motor were British inventions but it was left to other countries to do the research and development and create a product. We buy Pendolino tilting trains from the Italians having abandoned the active tilting mechanism on our own "Advanced Passenger Train".

We regret to inform you the massive asteroid NASA's all excited about probably won't hit Earth

Richard Scratcher

What's in a name?

If it's not that dangerous, then why give it the name Aphophis?

"Apep (Aapep, Apepi or Apophis) was the ancient Egyptian spirit of evil, darkness and destruction. As the arch enemy of the sun god, Ra, he was a malevolent force who could never be entirely be vanquished. Every night as the sun travelled though the underworld (or across the sky) his roar would fill the air and he would launch his attack."

Brit rocket boffins Reaction Engines notch up first supersonic precooler test

Richard Scratcher

420°C (~788°F)

That's gas mark 21.

Boffins baffled by planet nugget whizzing round white dwarf that should have killed it

Richard Scratcher

UK transport's 'ludicrous' robocar code may 'put lives at risk'

Richard Scratcher

You can't stand in the way of progress...

...you'll get run over.

Struggling with GDPR compliance? Don't waste money on legal advice: Buy a shredder

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

I booked a trip to Las Vegas that was fully GDPR compliant.

Oh Deer! Poacher sentenced to 12 months of regular Bambi screenings in the cooler

Richard Scratcher

Bambi vs Barney

This isn't a million miles* away from the t̶o̶r̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ punishment used in Guantamo bay, where prisioners were forced to listen to Barney the Dinosaur singing...


*(about 2,000 miles)

Here's 2018 in a nutshell for you... Russian super robot turns out to be man in robot suit

Richard Scratcher

Nothing new here.

The Japanese "robot" ASIMO was a similar deception, only that was a double bluff - a real robot passed off as a Japanese child in a plastic costume pretending to be a robot. Their major mistake was the clumsy way the legs were attached to the torso, which led observers to conclude that no real child could have worn that "robot suit". Also, as the years of "development" rolled by, any real child would have outgrown the suit.

In the UK schoolchildren were similarly deceived by Ken Dodd and his "Diddy Men", who were supposed to be a miniature race of people from Knotty Ash (actually a real place deliberately chosen for its daft sounding name) and were famously not the inspiration for Roald Dahl's Oompa Loompas. The Diddy Men all had convincing sounding names such as: Dicky Mint, Sid Short and Hamish McDiddy, and they danced around and sang in chipmunk style voices. But it eventually came to light that it was all a clever conspiracy perpetrated on the nation's school kids and that the "Diddy Men" were actually just children dressed up.

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Richard Scratcher

Re: Computer knows best?

They could be handy for spotting human errors...

"The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 took off from Belfast City Airport on January 11th, headed to Glasgow. When the plane hit 1,500 ft, autopilot engaged - however, the target altitude was mistakenly set to ZERO ft, so the plane immediately started to nosedive.

The aircraft fell around 500ft in just fifteen seconds before the pilot was able to regain control and bring it back to an appropriate altitude. During the dive, the plane was plummeting up to 4,300 ft per second - and if the pilots had been even a few moments slower to bring it back under control, there is little doubt that it would have crashed.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) found that the issue arose when the pilot chose a specific mode of autopilot, and the airline has introduced new policies including a different pre-flight checklist to make sure that this does not happen again."

Bedroom design outfit slapped with £160k fine for 1.6 million spam calls

Richard Scratcher

1.6 million nuisance calls?!

I don't know how they sleep at night.

The grand-plus iPhone is the new normal – this is no place for paupers

Richard Scratcher

Re: SE gone - so am I :-(

I'm still using my 5S. I was pleased when the similar sized SE was announced but never bothered to upgrade. I think all the >5 iphones are just too big. I want to be able to carry a phone in my pocket without looking like I'm pleased to see everyone... that shouldn't be hard.

Infrastructure wonks: Tear up Britain's copper phone networks by 2025

Richard Scratcher

That bloody woman!

Openreach also came in for implied criticism. "Without infrastructure competition, the existing provider has poor incentives to build new fibre networks, as this undermines its existing copper based services."

Back in the 1980s when BT was a world leader in fibre technology, Maggie Thatcher slapped a 10-year ban on BT delivering TV & video services in the hope that it would allow a break-up of its monopoly and encourage other telcos to step in. There was no internet then so video was the only reason to lay fibre in the "local loop". BT, with its massive network of underground cable ducts was still ripping out old lead-covered aluminium cables left o'er from t'war.

Wind the clock forward and all those cable TV companies that sprang up (and dug up all the streets) have now gone to the wall or become part of the monopoly that is Virgin Media.

Experts build AI joke machine that's about as funny as an Adam Sandler movie (that bad)

Richard Scratcher

Comedy versus tragedy

Instead of trying to build an artificially intelligent system to make people laugh, they should build one that makes people cry. Computers are already good at that. Who can forget the old classic that, even to this day, still brings a tear to my eye...

Not ready reading drive A

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Javid's in, Rudd's out: UK Home Sec quits over immigration targets scandal

Richard Scratcher

Re: So who's Javid?

From Wikipedia:

"a master of disguise, using various masks to try and discover the secrets of the Thunderbirds machines and carry out various missions. He also possesses strange hypnotic powers of unknown origin, although these abilities are apparently limited to making people carry out simple commands, such as to follow him or put them to sleep. He is also apparently unable to use these powers to acquire information; on one occasion he attempted to force Brains to tell him the location of a lost treasure by burying him up to his neck in sand and sunlight and depriving him of water rather than simply hypnotising him to learn the answer, suggesting that he cannot make people tell him information but simply make them carry out certain actions."

Fear the Reaper: Man hospitalised after eating red hot chilli pepper

Richard Scratcher

Always read the label.

I once accidentally sprinkled pepper onto my chips instead of salt. It made me sneeze....twice!

El Reg needs you – to help build an automated beer-transporting robot

Richard Scratcher

Just go out and buy an Asimo..

They're probably quite cheap.

Here's a video of one delivering coffee.

Why this woman wanted four cups of coffee is anybody's guess.

Holy helmets, Batman! Bane-like mask lets you 'talk' to computers without making a sound

Richard Scratcher


Place an order for a dozen gottles of Löwengräu geer, the one in the grown gottle with the glue lagel.

Not one, but 20,000 black holes hiding in Milky Way's heart

Richard Scratcher


That's enough black holes to fill the Albert Hall.

Please no Basic Instinct flashing, HPE legal eagles warn staffers

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

Keep your audience engaged with your presentation

Hand out some "bullshit bingo" game cards before you begin.

Brit regulator pats self on back over nuisance call reduction: It's just 4 billion now!

Richard Scratcher


I've set up a Raspberry Pi with a C program I found called jcblock. It has a blacklist and whitelist function and can block whole ranges of numbers. I use a USB voice modem to answer junk calls before they even ring the phone. I enhanced the program by adding a recorded message for withheld numbers and a time of day function because the NHS will insist on withholding its numbers.

That worked well until spammers started "spoofing" their CLI with numbers in ranges that have not yet been allocated by Ofcom. My answer to that was to download the entire UK allocation tables from Ofcom's website and grep for any well-known teclos such as BT, Sky, Vodaphone, etc. and leave out any protected or unallocated ranges. I also omitted any tinpot companies such as Voxbone SA, Gamma telecom, Magrathea, etc. who seem to specialise in extending their number ranges overseas to spam call centres. The file is 24,000 entries long but the Pi still skips through it fast enough for the phone not to ring.

This combination is almost perfect but the real answer would be for Ofcom to revoke the licences of these rogue telcos and the PSTN to block number spoofing.

Aut-doh!-pilot: Driver jams 65mph Tesla Model S under fire truck, walks away from crash

Richard Scratcher

Red sky at night...

Fire truck!

Red sky in the morning...

Fire truck!

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Richard Scratcher

"Doctor! You're alive! But how did you escape?"

"Simple! I merely reversed the polarity of the accelerometer feedback flow."

What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?

Richard Scratcher

Traffic Flow

A flow battery (aka redox flow battery) might be the future answer for electric cars. These use two tanks of liquid electrolytes that produce electricity as they pass along a separating membrane. The battery can be recharged by pumping the liquids back along the membrane while electricity is applied. They have an extremely long life and can be rapidly recharged by replacing the “spent” electrolytes with some that has been “charged”

For example a car could charge at home overnight or pull into the equivalent of a petrol station to quickly swap out the electrolyte. The station could use its own flow battery to recharge the "spent" electrolyte and add it to its tanks ready for another customer.

The (main) problem with this technology is that it currently has a very low energy density and is better suited to large stationary back-up PSUs and not nippy little sports cars. However, new types of electrolytes are showing promise for future use in cars.

Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

Richard Scratcher

Shada Pure Face

Scenes from the Shada story were used for the feature-length episode "The Five Doctors" (1983). This was because Tom Baker didn't want to appear in that story.

A todger, a 2.5kg dumbbell, the fire brigade... and the inevitable angle grinder

Richard Scratcher

Angle grinder?

Surely just a quick clean and jerk would do the trick.

Giant frikkin' British laser turret to start zapping stuff next year

Richard Scratcher


I think LDEW is more catchy... as in: "How the L DEW expect to meet those five criteria?".

.. ..-. / -.-- --- ..- / -.-. .- -. / .-. . .- -.. / - .... .. ... then a US Navy fondleslab just put you out of a job

Richard Scratcher

Re: "are the seamen equipped with oars?"

..Inspector Morse. Can't help reading the letters when I hear it.

How do you get on with "Some mothers do have 'em"?

Security robot falls into pond after failing to spot stairs or water

Richard Scratcher

Stupid robot...

...thinks it can walk on water. Who the hell programmed this thing? I mean, Jesus!

Jodie Who-ttaker? The Doctor is in

Richard Scratcher

Er ... Dr. Who canon ????

'...because "it's a load of pants, Dad"'

It'll be a load of skirts from now on.

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Re: Rainbow

There are in fact 7 colours in the rainbow.. according to Arthur Hamilton:

Red and yellow and pink and green,

Purple and orange and blue,

I can sing a rainbow,

Sing a rainbow,

Sing a rainbow too

Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Richard Scratcher
Paris Hilton

Sorry, my computer is in the other room... hang on...

"Hello, my name is James and I'm calling from Microsoft support. We have detected a virus on your computer."

"Oh, dear!"

"Don't worry Mr Smith, we can fix it for you today over the phone. Is your computer switched on at the moment?"

"It's in the other room, hang on a moment."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]


"Hello. Is it switched on now?"

"No, I've had a look and it's not switched on at the moment. Would you like me to switch it on?"

"Yes Mr Smith, we need you to switch it on."

"OK, hang on a moment, I'll go and switch it on."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Hello? I've switched it on now"

"Can't you take your phone to the computer?"

"No, it's in the other room, the wire won't reach."

"Oh... OK I need you to open the Windows Event Viewer.."

"OK hang on a moment.:"

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Sorry, did you say Windows Event Viewer?"

"Yes please, Windows Event Viewer."

"OK got it, Windows Advert Viewer. Hang on a moment.:"

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

"Hello? Are you still there"

"Yes, I'm still here mr Smith."

"Right, It's all gone blue."

"All gone blue?"

"Yes all blue, and there's some writing. It says... it says... Oh damn! Hang on I'll go and read it again."

[Lay the phone down for a couple of minutes]

(And so on)

Boaty McBoatface sinks in South Atlantic on her maiden deployment

Richard Scratcher
Thumb Up

Re: second favourite