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Richard Speed

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NASA tech inspects MOMA

Toaster oven-sized boffin box bound for Mars to search for life

A team from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center gathered last week to bid farewell to a mass spectrometer as it began its journey to the red planet via an assembly plant in Italy. The instrument is a key component of a toaster oven-sized lab, called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA), which will detect evidence of …
Richard Speed, 25 May 2018
Autophage Engine

You've heard that pop will eat itself. Boffins have unveiled a rocket that does the same

Scottish boffins, along with colleagues in Ukraine, have developed a "self-eating" rocket engine that could affordably fling a cubesat into orbit. The solid-fuel rocket does away with heavy tanks, with the propellant itself forming much of the launcher's structure. As the engine burns its way through that structure, the rocket …
Richard Speed, 25 May 2018
staff in business suits thrash each other with ring binders

Ongoing game of Galileo chicken goes up a notch as the UK talks refunds

The Galileo "Yo Momma"-style war of words got angrier today with the UK threatening to recover its investment in the EU's space satellite project if the nation is booted out post-Brexit. In a technical note, UK participation in Galileo (PDF), which is best read out loud in a high-pitched warbly voice, British officials again …
Richard Speed, 24 May 2018
Quick fix - worker running while carrying a wrench

Microsoft patches problematic OS to deal with SSD woes

A chink of light has appeared in the wall of Windows 10 update woes in the form of a patch that should address the SSD problems plaguing the OS. The patch, KB4100403, was emitted by the software giant yesterday and brings the version number of the troubled OS to 17134.81. Tucked away among minor tweaks for time zones and …
Richard Speed, 24 May 2018
kids drink milkshake

Microsoft gives users options for Office data slurpage – Basic or Full

Microsoft is rolling out an update to Office products to introduce Windows 10-style telemetry data slurping. Or rather the software business has made it very clear to users it is doing so and they cannot opt out. With a certain piece of European legislation around the corner concerning privacy, the timing is interesting to say …
Richard Speed, 24 May 2018

Swiss sausage sizzler 4.0 hits 200 bangers per hour

With a bank holiday looming (in the UK and US at least) thoughts are turning to barbecues and the traditional burning-of-the-meat. However, retired Swiss engineer Gabriel Strebel (a man with way too much time on his hands) has put his skills to good use by devising a vaguely terrifying sausage spinner to avoid a blackened …
Richard Speed, 23 May 2018

Boffins: Michael Jackson's tilt was a criminally smooth trick

New research from India into Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal tilt has concluded that, yes, it is physically impossible and dancers should really stop trying to recreate it because Achilles tendon and spinal injuries are not fun. The paper, "How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics?" published …
Richard Speed, 23 May 2018
Falcon 9 on the launchpad (pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Through many dangers, toils and snares.... SpaceX to send amazing GRACE to spaaaaace

Because ride-sharing is caring, SpaceX will send the next batch of Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit along with a pair of NASA gravity monitoring orbiters, GRACE-FO. The launch, scheduled for 1947 UTC (1247 PT) from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base today, will reuse the outdated Falcon block 4 rocket that flung mystery- …
Richard Speed, 22 May 2018
 staffer looks on in horror as update takes effect

About to install the Windows 10 April 2018 Update? You might want to wait a little bit longer

Updated The troubled Windows 10 April 2018 update is facing another issue, with some users losing access to their desktop after installing the new code. The problem, which first appeared in a posting on a Microsoft support forum on 14 May, has gained a bit of traction over the last two days with users taking to social media as they go …
Richard Speed, 22 May 2018
Dan Dare

RAF Air Command to take on UK military space ops

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is to take on command and control of UK military space operations, including a possible UK-based alternative to the EU's Galileo satellite constellation. The Defence Space Strategy (DSS), which remains somewhat light on detail until it is published in full over the summer, will bump numbers working in …
Richard Speed, 21 May 2018
Cygnus CRS-9 (pic: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Orbital ATK launches another Cygnus without anything blowing up

Orbital ATK's Cygnus freighter launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, this morning carrying supplies, spares and science to the International Space Station. While SpaceX tends to grab the headlines with its crowd-pleasing habit of landing rockets, Orbital ATK continues to plug away with its more traditional and expendable …
Richard Speed, 21 May 2018
Altair 8800 -

Now that's old-school cool: Microsoft techies slap Azure Sphere IoT chip in an Altair 8800

Hidden away among the interminably long keynote speeches at Microsoft's recent Build event was a project to delight the retro enthusiast. Observing that "Microsoft is all about backwards-compatibility", Mike Hall and the Azure Sphere bunch demonstrated how far they could take that theme by sticking one of Redmond's IoT …
Richard Speed, 21 May 2018
Tired IT worker rubs his eyes

TalkTalk ups the (dis)satisfaction ante as UK folk wake up to borked email

TalkTalk's customers woke up this morning to find the UK broadband provider's email service was still fast asleep. The Brit telco celebrated its terrible customer service scores in Ofcom's annual survey by removing the ability of customers to complain about it by email this morning. Customers took to social media to vent …
Richard Speed, 18 May 2018

Microsoft's Azure green-lit for use by US spies

Microsoft has rolled its tanks onto Amazon’s lawn thanks to a multi-million dollar deal to bring its Azure Government product into 17 US intelligence agencies. Microsoft already has a foothold thanks to Federal civilian government and Department of Defense partners using the platform, and the new deal will see the product move …
Richard Speed, 17 May 2018
High voltage power grid, in the sunset. Photo by SHutterstock

Great Scott! Bitcoin to consume half a per cent of the world's electricity by end of year

The energy required by the Bitcoin fad has been forecast to hit half a per cent of the world's entire electricity supply by the end of 2018. With the network estimated to already be consuming 2.55 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power most of Ireland (or send a couple of Deloreans back a few years to before the Bitcoin …
Richard Speed, 17 May 2018

Three-hour outage renders Nest-equipped smart homes very dumb

Google's Nest went TITSUP* early this morning, causing headaches for users who have equipped their home with the expensive smart devices. Owners of the kit were forced to manually adjust thermostats and unlock doors while the iOS, Android and web apps were inaccessible. The horror. We've received reports from Nest Secure and …
Richard Speed, 17 May 2018
Neon sign says 'Open'

I got 257 problems, and they're all open source: Report shines light on Wild West of software

A report on open-source security management and licence compliance may make uncomfortable reading for those who maintain codebases that use the stuff. The document – produced by Black Duck, which sells services to make sure users are on top of their estate and so has a vested interest here – looked at 1,100 commercial …
Richard Speed, 17 May 2018
Bloodhound SSC (pic: Flock and Siemens)

Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car aims to wake up Newquay: Rocket work restart in August

The team behind the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC) announced plans today to take a crack at the 1,228kmph (763mph) land-speed record at the end of 2019. It has been a tricky few months for the plucky Brit outfit. Two major suppliers, including URT Carbon Fibre, have gone into receivership and left the car missing some …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018
A spam sandwich

Tesla forums awash with spam as mods take an unscheduled holiday

Owners and fans of Tesla cars seeking support on the company's forums are instead being offered love in all the wrong places. "Where's the webmaster?" was the plaintive cry from user Larry as the Tesla community was hijacked last night by spammers selling a variety of products likely not approved by CEO Elon Musk. Tesla forum …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018
Surface Hub 2 (pic: Microsoft)

Surface Hub 2: Microsoft's pricey whiteboard gets a sequel

Microsoft confirmed a refresh for its Surface Hub line last night, with new hardware likely to ship sometime in 2019. In a video heavy on a dramatic orchestral music and hints of new Windows interfaces, but somewhat light on detail, Microsoft showed off the newest edition of the overpriced whiteboard business collaboration …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018
Skylab (pic: NASA)

America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Two NASA anniversaries rolled around this week, but you would be forgiven for missing them. The first was the 45th anniversary of the launch of the United States' only solo Space Station, Skylab, designed to host astronauts for months at a time. The second big day, yesterday, marked 55 years since the space agency launched the …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018

Kaspersky Lab's move from Russia to Switzerland fails to save it from Dutch oven

It has been a busy few days for beleaguered antivirus-flinger Kaspersky Lab. Today's confirmation of an infrastructure move to Switzerland comes hot on the heels of a comment from the Netherlands government that use of the Russian firm's software is a bit risky. Kaspersky is moving a number of its core processes from Russia to …
Richard Speed, 15 May 2018

German IKEA trip fracas assembles over trolley right of way

Weekend shoppers can now add trolley rage to the list of reasons to avoid their local IKEA store after an altercation in southeastern Germany ended up with a visit to hospital. The fracas in Eching, on the outskirts of Munich, reported in Bavarian local papers Echinger Zeitung and Merkur began with an argument over which …
Richard Speed, 14 May 2018
Push to turn off JET photo SA Mathieson

Delayed gratification for Musk's rocket fanciers

The launch of SpaceX’s updated Falcon 9, with Bangladesh’s first satellite perched on top, was halted at the 58 second mark. The infamously secretive rocketry boffins tweeted out a terse explanation blaming a “ground system auto abort” rather than anything to do with the booster itself. The launch had already been delayed …
Richard Speed, 11 May 2018

Wanted that Windows 10 update but have an Intel SSD? Computer says no

Updated The Windows 10 April 2018 Update is not proving to be the smoothest of installations for PCs containing certain Intel SSDs. Systems with Intel 600p and Pro 6000p SSDs are experiencing crashes and users are finding themselves staring at a UEFI screen after rebooting. Microsoft has recommended afflicted users reinstall the …
Richard Speed, 10 May 2018

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