* Posts by Tom Adair

29 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Sep 2007

Bill Gates chucks cash at climate cooling cloud creator

Tom Adair

Not thought through

I guess they didn't read the bit in their Dummies Guide to Climate Engineering about water actually being a greenhouse gas, so if you're increasing the amount of water vapour at lower altitudes, some will be forced up to higher altitudes where its less humid simply by natural equilibriums, and at these higher altitudes it will keep more heat inside the atmosphere.

Then there's the weather influences these actions will have, the most obvious detrimental effect would be flooding, perhaps even flash floods, and the legal repercussions of this once the damage is determined to be from a cloud formed by these machines. There's also the question of how much impact this will have on regional and global climate processes over the short term, will it affect crop growing seasons, will the increased cloud cause rain to fall before it reaches areas it used to reach, thus creating new arid regions.

IMO this seems as badly thought out as the idea several years ago of just dumping millions of tons of iron dust into the oceans to encourage algal blooms (consuming CO2, but using up nutrients and killing whole areas of the ocean ecosystem). Natural systems operate in a fine balance, they can counteract or stabilise changes over a long period (hence past climate change), but its far better for us to reduce our impact on the climate than to try and tinker with these systems even more in the hope that we fix something, and can carry on polluting without a care.

UK polling stations turn away 'hundreds' of voters

Tom Adair

Some people...

One of the complaining non-voters interviewed on the beeb was saying she'd gone past the polling station at 6, 7 and 8pm, and not joined the queue then, but only gone down at 9:15pm... so really it was her own fault for not realising that the queue was sizeable enough to require her to go down earlier!

On the other hand better communication between polling stations could have enabled election officials to ask some people to go to other nearby polling stations that were less busy, as you can vote at any polling station in your constituency, though you really need to take your voting card with you as only your local polling station may have you on their list. Perhaps the voting card should be a requirement considering the problems allegedly caused by a number of students in Sheffield turning up without theirs, so long as there is a provision in case you lose yours or it never turns up in the post.

Election 2010: The sillier options

Tom Adair

BBC time travel

It would appear that the BBC have figured out how to get results from polls carried out tomorrow!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8609989.stm - see the dates on the 'Show outcomes based on the latest polls', all 3 are dated 6th May at present (being the 5th of May)! Now if only we can trick the website into revealing the election results before the polls close...

Johnson: ID cards will pay for themselves

Tom Adair

pay through the nose

So either the general public pay for the scheme through their taxes, or the general public pay for the scheme by signing up themselves and 'volunteering' their life to the government? What a choice, and further indication that government ministers are so out of touch they think the Treasury prints its own money if they need it for a white elephant, rather than it actually having to come from ordinary people!

Old PS3s locked out of PlayStation Network

Tom Adair

Unaffected here

Seems my late model 80Gb (CECHL04) is working just fine, displaying 1st March date and connecting to PSN & the Store as normal.

Would be odd if this is a leap year calculation problem, because what makes this year different from last year, which also was not a leap year? Unless by a long shot 2010 produces some sort of DIV#0 error, while 2009/2011/etc will be fine...

Supersonic stealth jumpjet makes 'short landing'

Tom Adair
Big Brother

Old tech..

Short of the stealth technology, the RAF could've had a supersonic Harrier decades ago, the Hawker Siddeley P.1154. Unfortunately this project was killed by the Labour government of 1964, alongside the more famous TSR-2 (which would have replaced the Vulcan and Canberra fleets and quite possibly still be in service to this date). Instead the P.1127 Kestrel was developed into the current subsonic Harrier (the P.1154 was a further development of the P.1127, with a longer fuselage and more boxy engine intakes, and was also to have been given the Harrier name had it been produced and gone into service, instead of P.1127). On the subject of confusing names, the F-22 Raptor prototypes in the early 90's were also given the name of Lightning II.

Instead, with the cancellation of these two aircraft, the British aviation industry slowly died, and the various manufacturers were absorbed into one another to stay alive, eventually leaving only BAe (and Westland if you're counting helicopters). While the Harrier was a success, there can be no doubt that a supersonic version would have made moves into air forces/navys that instead purchased regular supersonic aircraft.

Next from Apple: The Pocket iPad

Tom Adair

Maxi pad?

Sounds like a sanitary product, marketing genius if they go with that!

Modern Warfare 2 outsold Avatar, claims developer

Tom Adair

bad comparisons

On the one hand you have a film where sales (of 5-7 quid a ticket) over a short period are limited by availability of screens/seats, and availability of people's free time, and on the other you have a game selling for 25-45 quid (standard version), where big demand was expected and plenty of products produced and made available to be delivered and sold in stores, and most crucially, it is possible for everyone who wants it to buy it in the same day, assuming there's enough till staff in shops and postmen not on strike.

Designers detail the cars of 2030

Tom Adair


Sure, the shopping can be delivered etc, but where are my dogs going to fit into those cars? Or are they planning on pets being outlawed too?

Xbox 360 reverses plunging console sales trend

Tom Adair

last years sales

You have to consider these console sales in context with the game releases though, last year there were three big selling titles out in April through June: Wii Fit, GTA IV and MGS4... none of the three platforms have a comparably big title recently released at present.

People just not that into Blu-ray

Tom Adair

cost comparison

People have seen how both DVD and HD DVD prices have fallen in recent years, and are waiting for BluRay to follow suit, especially considering there's a recession going on, and spending on luxury goods is always the first to be cut. Many people probably don't see any need (or are financially unwilling) to replace their DVD version of many films.

Many BR discs are lacking on additional content compared to the DVDs even when released at the same time, and as seen from the DVD years, they will most likely get a later re-release with the extra additional content, so some people will be waiting for the re-release of their favourite films before they go for them on BR.

Then there's the issue of around half of earlier BR releases being in the inferior MPEG2 codec, and being squeezed onto single layer BD25 discs, neither of which make the picture look much better than an upscaled DVD. Inferior transfers are also a problem, some releases have clearly been taken from a master that was originally made several years ago for a DVD release, and doesn't look as good as it really should do. These will presumably be fixed by re-releases with a big 'Remastered' logo on them, but again its holding off anyone (who reads a review on the picture quality at any rate) from buying those films.

Also, several big name film series have yet to come to BR, such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, the original Indiana Jones films, and Alien, all of which will improve takeup as their fans want to see them in improved clarity.

Freesat gets Five

Tom Adair

Goes to show

I didnt even notice that five was missing from the freesat lineup!

Sony plans 2009 Euro OLED TV debut

Tom Adair


Has the lifespan of OLED screens been improved of late I wonder? Last I looked, they were notably inferior to LCD.

Farnborough Airshow goes public this weekend

Tom Adair
Black Helicopters


I'll be there on Sunday with my camera, was going to be at Fairford for the RIAT last weekend, but of course that was cancelled due to waterlogged carparks and airfield.

Black helicopter as I'm sure I'll get flagged as a terrorist for having a DSLR camera!

Available to buy: your own frakkin' 7ft Cylon

Tom Adair


Oops, may have double posted, hopefully the mods will catch the other one.

When I was studying chemistry a few years ago, one of my tutors informed us that Aluminium was now the internationally accepted form of the word, in exchange for the american Sulfur being used in place of Sulphur. However, since in general the americans were ignoring this, he said he was going to continue using Sulphur in protest :)

Nintendo Wii US sales 3x PS3, Xbox 360

Tom Adair


The jump in Wii sales wouldn't have anything to do with a supply increase, would it? In the UK, the 'Wii in stock' signs started appearing over the last few months, and staying in shop windows.

GTA IV PS3 fights off resolution woes in the UK

Tom Adair

Re: Gahh!

It will upscale to those resolutions for display on your telly, but the game itself is rendering at 640p (most games render at 720p on both 360 and PS3) before the upscaling.

Spyware targets frustrated GTA IV gamers

Tom Adair

Re: and for the rest of us.....

Rockstar have said they have no plans to make a PC version:


Grand Theft Auto IV leaked online

Tom Adair

Re: meh

There's always the risk of Microsoft wiseing up to the latest way of altering the DVD drive firmware and issuing bans from xbox live anyway. I'm perfectly happy to pay for GTA, especially since my order was dispatched a few hours ago, so will be with me either tomorrow or Monday. I'm also managing to avoid any spoilers/videos resulting from this leaked copy, so as not to dilute my enjoyment of actually playing the game.

This DVD will self-destruct in 48 hours

Tom Adair


Considering you can get a lot of DVDs (that you can keep indefinately) for a few quid these days, I dont see the benefit? Let alone the environmental impact...

Tiscali boss faces board showdown as sell-off rumours swirl

Tom Adair

Rats leaving the sinking ship

I wonder if Tiscali are realising that their customer base is leaving them en masse, certainly the Pipex forums on thinkbroadband are full of people leaving, I for one left 2 weeks ago, and havent looked back since, gone from a lowly 512k (which at times had dropped to 160k in the weeks before I left) to a nice 1.7mb connection with sky (I'm quite far from the exchange, only got broadband when BT raised the adsl max distance limits in 2004).

Quake rocks Britain

Tom Adair

Didn't feel it here...

Though I am almost in the opposite end of the country, living in Devon.

I see that the BBC are misreporting the Dudley earthquake as a 5.0, when it was a 4.7, which is causing some of the confusion over whether last nights quake was bigger. They are also reporting this quake now as a 5.3, this is probably due to a confusion over the different magnitude scales, the BGS press release mentioning the earthquake was 5.2 (ml, or Richter scale), while the USGS and EMSC are giving the 4.7 and 4.9 values in the Moment Magnitude scale (mb). The Moment Magnitude scale is adjusted to approximately give similar values to the older Richter scale, and is more widely used by seismologists. The Richter scale doesn't give as good a spread in values on earthquakes above 6.8 in magnitude, so it is harder to differentiate between the severity of large earthquakes.

How much the earthquake is felt on the surface is basically a factor of depth, you can have a 8.0 earthquake at 600km and not feel it, or a 4.0 at 6km and feel it. The New Zealand posters are living over a subduction zone on the east coast, so the earthquakes there can be 100km or greater below the surface at times (the 6.8 mentioned was 40km deep, and offshore). The EMSC have evaluated this earthquake to a mere 2km depth. Another scale is used to measure the intensity of an earthquake, i.e. how much of an impact it had on humans and structures, the Modified Mercalli Scale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercalli_intensity_scale). Judging by the reports in the linked news article on stuff.co.nz, this earthquake was a V or VI in Gisbourne, and last nights earthquake would be rated as a V near the epicentre.

Everywhere in the world gets minor earthquakes on a daily or hourly basis, these are usually smaller than magnitude 2.0, which can't be felt at all. The UK is no less geologically active than other supposedly stable regions in the middle of continental plates, as these plates are not solid single objects, but a collection of smaller bodies that have joined together in the past.

One of these collisions was the Variscan orogeny (mountain building, though they've since been largely eroded - giving you the sedimentary beds mentioned by one poster). This was the most recent phase of the British Isles being formed, with a portion of Southern Ireland, South Wales, and all of South England being added. This join (not a narrow line, but a broad zone, as some beds have been pushed under others) runs approximately from Pembrokeshire, through Bristol, up to Leicester/Nottingham, then down to around London. As you can see, you don't have to go far from this to reach last nights earthquake.

Safety goggles icon both as a warning to the unwary of the geological details in the post, and as I have my geologist hat on, having finished a degree in the subject last summer.

Official: Toshiba discontinues HD DVD

Tom Adair

Cheap films ahoy

Well, I'm glad Toshiba have at least ended the uncertainty over it, though I suppose there'll be some recriminations from Universal/Paramount over their forthcoming releases on HD DVD.

Roll on the cheap films (not that I've spent more than about £10-11 a film so far anyway) on HD DVD as retailers try to clear their stock, I'll probably pick up a standalone player too, as insurance against my 360 HD DVD player going wrong at some point.

Its only because of this format war that we're getting the current prices anyway, give it a few months, and new BluRay releases won't come down in price from their extortionate £20-25, not for ages at least.

Oh, and FYI, I always intended to get a BluRay player of some description, didnt see BluRay losing, just HD DVD was a cheap option, with the 5 free films offer, not sure there's enough games exclusive to PS3 that I want to justify it though.

Mark: even with the figures you quote of BluRay having a faster average transfer rate, its still got to shift more data compared to DVD, hence why a number of PS3 games offer/require installation of some content to the HDD.

Tiscali executes stealth LLU migrations

Tom Adair
Thumb Down

Pipex broadband? not at narrowband speeds it isnt!

I appear to have been migrated over to the Tiscali equipment of late, first noticed it when my hostname was *.dsl.as9105.com instead of *.dsl.pipex.com, as9105.com is registered by tiscali.

At first speeds were 50% improved over my usual 512/256 speeds (usually connected at 576kbps, was then connected at 864kbps)... four hours later, they were 10% slower than they were originally (512kbps), and havent improved since.

The final straw was this evening, when I logged on, at the blistering speed of 160kbps, barely 3 times above the venerable 56k modem thats sitting in a box in the roof. I shall be asking for my MAC as soon as I have time to call them.

US HD DVD sales hit new low

Tom Adair

Just one week

Weekly sales will always vary based on all sorts of things, most notably what new releases were out on each format, and whether there were any new promotional discounts. I just hope both formats keep alive for a while, the competition leads to lower retail prices, which is great for the consumer, I've spent an average of £11 per film so far on my collection, how long did it take for DVDs to fall to that price range?

Batman logo manifests in tomato

Tom Adair

and superman too?

I'm waiting for a tomato with the batman and superman logos combined, as seen in 'I Am Legend' on a billboard :)

Virgin Media eases off bandwidth throttling

Tom Adair

stop whinging

You're lucky to have a decent speed connection in the first place. Out in the Devon countryside I have a 512/256k adsl connection, with no prospect of it ever getting faster. So when you get "throttled", you're still on a far faster connection than little old me!

Warner puts Blu-ray, HD DVD combo disc 'on hold'

Tom Adair

Dual disc?

Would it not be simpler for them to offer a version of films with two discs, one of each format, for less than the price of buying both formats separately? This would skip the need to have their own disc format and manufacturing line, both costly endeavours to set up.

Innocent 'terror techie' purges DNA records

Tom Adair

False positives

The commonly quoted chance of your DNA being confused with someone elses through the forensic tests is 1 in a billion. So this means that you could potentially have the same DNA markers as at least 5 other people in the world.

With the current situation you could be the only match on file, even if you are innocent, but once you start including everyone (I haven't done statistics since my A-Levels, but I'm sure with a sample set of 50-60 million, the chance of any two people matching at odds of 1 in 1 billion is feasible) you could have the police chasing multiple suspects for one sample (which could concievably destroy the faith of the court system in DNA evidence, or at the least have two expert witnesses arguing over the issue, confusing juries).

I've also watched Gattaca as mentioned by a previous poster, in summary, the plot revolves around genetic identity theft by a 'normal' to pass himself off as 'enhanced' in a world where pre-natal genetic enhancement (for the rich) and genetic discrimination are rife. The protagonist accomplishes this by leaving hair and skin cell samples of his accomplices DNA around his workstation (which is rigorously checked by the employer to root out these identity thieves), cleaning up his DNA, and having a false fingertip to give a blood sample when required.

While this would require a criminal to remain at a crime scene for some time to remove his/her DNA and leave samples of his target, it is possible. Looking on wikipedia, one person actually tried to fake DNA evidence in 1992, a Dr. John Schneeberger in Canada, who was able to give blood samples that were not his own through a surgically inserting a Penrose drain (a rubber tube normally used to drain fluids from a wound) into his arm.

Hopefully so long as DNA never achieves a perceived status of being superior to any contradictory evidence, such as non-DNA forensics, alibis/witnesses and CCTV, this won't be able to be pulled off, but I have little faith in that.