Letters Today's letters round-up is a rather airborne affair, containing as it does your feedback on the hyperdrive and the Google Earth Lancaster. We'll start off, though, with a quickie on the matter of EMC and its "rebalancing" of workers:
In July I was "selected for a resource action".
It took me quite a few minutes after my manager had called me in to talk to me to realise that this meant I was being made redundant.
The language used these days to get rid of employees is really offensively circumlocutory.
Yes it is. Try "selected for proscription" - an old RAF favourite.
Now, we often get letters asking us to put writers' bylines next to the headline. Here's a good example:
is there a way to ignore certain authors on the register? i typically get a good laugh from stuff at the register (bofh is probably the best). however, i can't believe this article - "Windows beats Linux / Unix on vulnerabilities - CERT" actually survived the editing process.
it's upsetting to see this kind of reporting... i'm not sure whether Gavin Clarke just hasn't done anything outside the world of microsoft or whether it was simply that he didn't take the time to actually troll through the data that's available at us-cert. most of the things in both lists have nothing to do with their respective core (kernel & gui - for unix/linux, pick 1 of the guis)... i.e. the "3Com 3CDaemon Multiple Remote Vulnerabilities" under the windows list is a 3Com issue, not a microsoft issue. the "Apple Mac OS X Multiple Vulnerabilities" listed under unix/linux is an issue with a unix clone, but i've never had any of those "apple mac os x" issues on my debian & mandrake linux servers running on x86 hardware (same with the freebsd, gentoo, hp-ux, ibm aix, netbsd, openbsd, sco, etc bugs - they don't apply).
normal users aren't even going to have to worry about half of non-microsoft bugs that show up (how many users use "aeNovo"?) as well as half the stuff on the unix/linux list. another issue is severity, but i won't bother going into that.
this article reminds me of something 1 of the local news stations (i'm from kansas city) did a couple years back as an 'investigative report' as to which state was better - kansas or missouri. the entire 'investigative report' was based on the opinions & snide remarks that 2 store owners who's businesses were diagonal from each other at an intersection along the state line. at the end they were tied 2-2 & so for the tie breaker they had the 2 of them arm wrestle... um yeah... as that's typical for their 'investigative reporting' i no longer watch that news station anymore.
For the record, we rejected the byline proposal, but not because it would allow readers to avoid their particular non-favourites. Rather, we were afraid that it would encourage the sort of mass worship of cult Reg writers at the expense of less celebrated - but equally worthy - colleagues. It also allows us to slap headlines like "Firefox browser vuln kills family of eleven" on perfectly innocent stories, thereby attracting unwitting readers who might otherwise have been alerted to the less-than-sensational content by the author's name.
And if you don't like any of that, sue us. You can serve writs by email, too:
Oh well, I suppose I'd better get ready for all my lawsuits to be awarded against me before I hear about them.
Has noone heard of whitelists (my spam filters all do their work silently - I'm not replying to spammers to tell them to try and work past my filters...)
I recall some years ago the approval of sending a writ by email by the High Court on the proviso that a read receipt was generated. Don't ask me to give the case number or any further details though!
Here's a cautionary tale: if you're a Reg hack and most of your material is funny (or supposed to be), then this is bound to happen eventually:
Previously you have featured letters from people who took lester haines seriously. I am aware that it is supposed to be funny but I can't see in what way. It's like my friend who claimed to be allergic to peanut butter but actually wasn't, why would you make this stuff up?
It's the rather weird and wonderful hyperdrive we're talking about here. You don't have to make this stuff up, cos it's all true. Doesn't make it impressive, though:
Great. We can get to Mars in three hours. Will my flying car be ready at the space port?
Happy New Year. The niceties over, I will bet a very small amount of purely notional money that this is total b*******cks and should be filed alongside coldfusion.
Well, let's stick with it a little longer, shall we?
If Heim and Dröscher are right, the math (insofar as I can follow it -- and man is it some tough math!) implies specific values for the speed of light in the parallel spaces. The "parallel spaces" that Heim-Dröscher postulates are called n-spaces where n is an integer, and c (the speed of light) in those spaces is multiplied by n.
So in the first parallel space, the speed of light is exactly twice that in the space we currently occupy.
It's not clear to me that this theory is correct, but it looks very promising -- it has correctly predicted (to a very fine tolerance -- much finer than we are able to measure) the masses and lifetimes of all the current fundamental particles. And it is the *only* theory currently known which does so. The odds of this happening by chance are vaninshingly small -- something like 1 in 10 raised to the 64th -- a number so close to 0 that only God could tell the difference.
With droeschers extensions, it encompasses quantum theory, General relativity, and maxwells equations also fall out of it.
That means it has alot going for it. And with that recent paper by Dröscher and Häuser, it appears that it will be possible to experimentally test it.
One problem I see with these parallel spaces is that while it seems that the math indicates that you will go into space n+1 with the correct energy input, it does not seem clear to me that you will come back to space n once the energy input is removed. This seems somewhat problematic to say the least :-) But then again, a significant portion of the math is flying above my head, through what little hair I have left :-)
I know many people will say something similar but I had this same idea about 4 years ago. I discarded it as practical because basically the coil HAS to be anchored to SOMETHING and push or pull, it will balance the effect of the whole thing thus leaving you stopped.
So, I went down another path. There actually IS a way of doing this and it is not so different from their paper but it is different in the only way I have thus thought up that could possibly make it work and not return the energy to the ship itself thus cancelling the coil's effect.
I want to thank you for printing this. I have put my idea to friends who I had thought may be far enough in to "out there thinking" to get the whole idea and the replies I have gotten have been negative to open eyed dismay because my friends just didnt understand what I was saying. So, I thought, I am either dead wrong and cant see it or there is no clear understanding of what I had though up. In the end your article pointed me in the right direction to find I WASNT crazy and there ARE others who believe what I do.
The problem with their idea is that the push/pull is evenly balanced in relation to where you are in space so you dont get any drive out of it at all. I actually overcame that but you have to have a rather devious mind to do it.
I know you'll think I'm a stark raving loony nutter but I honest to God wish I could put my ideas to the people mentioned in your article. They have been thinking what I have, for years, on my own. So I have no doubt they would understand it where physics professors I have put the same idea to didnt. I dont pretend to be a genius or anything so over the top. I just had an idea and I nutted it out. Thanks again. Oh and if you do happen to have contact email addresses for these people, if you would either forward them to me or forward mine to them, as your own thoughts decide, I would greatly appreciate it.
One of the most interesting things that appears to validate that Heim's stuff is not completely barking is that it appears to accurately predict the masses of particles with exacting accuracty, something that other (QM/GR/SR) are unable to do.
I really hope that this stuff proves to be right, because if it is then scifi just got a little bit closer to reality!
The faster-than-light stuff would require shifting into another universe with a different value of c, and the chances must be 50/50 that it's slower than ours rather than faster. ;-)
Oh, another thing - mars in 3 hours: how would anything survive the acceleration that would be necessary? This might be anti-grav, but I don't think it's anti-inertia.
A good point, and you're not the only one to point out the obvious pitfalls here...
"Scientists moot gravity-busting hyperdrive" left we wondering if anybody had worked out how the ship would slow down when it reached Mars in only 3 hours, or would it just carry on straight past?
I suspect there may be a problem here...
Pilots in aerobatic aircraft can stand around 5-6 G.. An Air Force pilot in a G suit might stay conscious to 10-12G. Maybe.
Given Mars' closest orbital locaton, 55x10^6km from Earth , the 3 hour transit time requires a constant acceleration for 1/2 of the trip and a constant deceleration for the other 1/2 of the trip of 192G.. 
The technology described involves accelerating not at a constant rate, but at an initial rate followed by a long cruise... Therefore the rate of acceleration will be FAR higher..
While an interesting article, the likelihood of man or machine actually surviving the 3 hour transit are, well, remote... 8^)===
To minimise the acceleration you'd accellerate uniformly to half way, then decellerate uniformly to mars, so the average speed will be half the maximum speed. Average speed = 55e9 / (3x3600) = 5.09e6 m/s Well under the speed of light, so that's OK. Accelleration = 5.09e6x2/(1.5x3600) = 1886 m/s^2 That's about 192 G.
Hmmm, they may have a point. The Z-machine, though, we like the cut of its jib. Here's more:
[b]*Roger Lenard, a space propulsion researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico does think it might be possible, though, using an X-ray generator called the Z machine which "could probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".[/b]
Of course, the Z-machine only fires for 1/50000th of a second and then consumes staggering amounts of energy. So, you want to build a teensy one [the current one is rather hard to fit under the bonnet of the Space Shuttle] and give it enough juice to crank out the energy amounts required for 6+ hours flight [assuming the intrepid astronauts also want to come back]. It has to carry itself, the hyperdrive, the powerplant to drive it and its payload. That's going to be an interesting challenge.
If you can make this contraption work, you should allow Jonathan Ive, CBE, to design the thing. If it then doesn't go anywhere it will at least look good.
Look good? Try this:
If you haven't already, do a google image search for "z machine", or, here is a high-res picture: http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2004/images/jpg/z-machine.jpg
Those things look more capable of warping space, shifting dimensions, or creating gateways through time, than any such machine dreamed up by Hollywood. :-)
And concluding these reader musings on the hyperdrive, let's fire up a couple of black helicopters:
Not so new! The Germans worked on a similar device during WW II. Reputedly, it devoured the entire output of a local electricity sub-staion, so was used at night. The structure still exists. It was fed with power from underground caverns where top secret work was underway. The caverns, themselves, are now partially flooded. The work was abandoned, most of the researchers are dead (although a few locals have vague recollections). Details of the project are either lost or siting in CIA/MI5 super-top secret files. Our lovely politicians deny all knowledge (well, they would and they aren't scientists, anyway). Pictures of the site were shown on British TV within the last few months. No myth!
Ever heard of the TR-3B space ship? Apparently, it's built in Area 51. Here's a text that describes how it works:
The point is: do you see a striking resemblance? Somehow, I think the government is slowly starting to feel ready to release it's information to the public by having certain scientist disclose early tests / models of the TR-3B until they actually tell us what some of us have been knowing all along: the TR-3B exists and here's how it works.
The TR-3B exists at least since 1990. I know this for a fact : I saw one flying directly over me. When flying low, it doesn't make a sound and it has 3 rings at each of its ends which glow fiery orange when flying low, same as when you turn your stove top to high. It's a very large craft and I suspect that it's only visible if it flies directly above you. If you look at it at an angle, you probably won't see it, similar to privacy screens. The other thing I noticed by researching it, is that it flies only at night and it's black in colour. Pretty hard to notice something that doesn't have lights, that's black in colour and flies at night.
Hey, take this the way you want my friend, but in ten years from now, I'll be saying to myself: I TOLD YOU SO.
Yup, the black helicopters are airborne, make no mistake. Let's move on to the Google Earth Lancaster:
An Avro Lancaster?
Shows how old the images on Google Earth is :o)
I know Google Earth's pics are not always bang up-to-date, but you have to wonder what took the photo. A passing Messerschmitt, perhaps?
Somehow i have a problem finding the shadow of this Lancaster. The Lancaster is a sufficient large Aircraft to cast a noticable shadow. The plane itself does not appear to be flying extremely high if we compare the visible size of it and the houses and cars underneath. What looks like a shadow on first look in the gardens of the houses beneath the plane are actually hedges and fences that cast a shadow. The angles of these shadows also do not correspond to the look of the Lancaster (Lancaster is almost straight, while the shadows would suggest some more angled wings. If the shadows of the cars, houses, fences etc. are clearly visible the shadow of the plane should be visible as well. The position of the sun is easy to determine if we look at surrounding shadows. The time i would nail to sometime past 12PM as the shadows are rather steep (steep shadows suggest a time close to 12PM, long shadows either more morning or evening. Also the direction (from almost the south) is a dead giveaway. So where is the shadow or is Google taking the mick with mock-up sat images?
The relative size of the Lancaster and the ground features make me wonder if that's a satellite picture at all.
The Lancaster was a large aircraft for its time, but I don't think it's wingspan was sufficient to cover several average suburban houses. Maybe it's a perspective effect and the aircraft is proportionally a lot closer to the photographer than would be expected if it was a real satellite image, because it's actually an image from a photogrammetic survey aircraft flying at a few thousand feet rather than a spacecraft at several tens of miles?
Just a thought ...
You think that's a conspiracy? Scroll down the fine coast of Blackpool (my home town) and you'll find that of the three piers, only scummy South Pier has survived a (no doubt) government clampdown on revealing the secrets of these key defence structures. To wit, both North Pier and Central Pier have been cut off, replaced by generic wavey bits. Compare these pics if you like...
Good lord, he's right. Strange things are afoot, make no mistake.
A couple of snippets to polish off this mailbag. First up, try this, which we think is about this story:
The sky is falling, long live the sky.
The events of last week took the varied chaotic elements that make up my thought processes and gave them an evil twist. Microsoft has a bug. (who wou'da thought.)
Now onto reporting and fuzzy, fuzzy logic in general.
This I read on the internet, so it all must be true. The bug is 2003 and XP only. . . But, 95, 98 ME and win 3.1 share the bug. But no, they don't But yes they do.
Microsoft isn't saying, but refused to release a patch until presumably the ghost of Billy Gates' ethics dragged from a forgotten desk-drawer and rattled some change. (I think I trust Mr Guilfanov's patch more though)
I was thinking buffer overrun, until I realized that it was very probably just one more stupid implementation of VBA; where do they come up with these ideas?
I don't think we have experts anymore, not for windows, everyone is claiming to be a Mac expert or knows open source.
To clarify the problem and scope.
It is a WMF hack. It is not a GIF or JPG hack, (this time) although you can still spoof the machine with JPG stuck on the end of a WMF file. (And who's bright idea was that?)
I have checked ME, and ME is not affected (but who besides me even has this OS running?) So, we will stop worrying about 98, 95, 3.11, DOS ect.
NT is affected. (NT 4 and up, we will try to forget that NT 3 whatever existed and for you people still using it, never mind, like the Amish you will never see this screed.)
In fact, NT 4 is where windows became a real OS, all grown up as it were. All of the DLLs were re-done, the API calls were moved around and evidently this is where the once and future bugs were inserted.
I would assume the visual basic for applications was even implemented for windows solitaire at this time; because, you know, why have stand alone software that does one thing and does that thing correctly?
I have to work with windows, and I oddly, I do like the product. Much as you really might have a fondness for that special child being raised by the inbred neighbors down the block. I mean, sure the kid tortures puppies and pulls the wings off of flies, but evil? Naw, just misunderstood and unloved.
Mr Gates, your kid is in trouble again.
And finally, hope for disgruntled customers everywhere in the form of the "Armenian Handshake":
Re' 'Government minister beats workers with pistol'. I hope this applies to us ordinary humans too. If so, the North Western Electricity Board had better get their crash helmets on!
Does he want to emigrate? We could do with more Immigrants like that coming over here. Might give British Gas and BT something to consider. As for your below-average builder I think it would do wonders.
Lovely. While readers spend the next few days at their desks idly daydreaming of pistol-whipping somebody from [insert name of company], we'll get back to preparing another dose of your wit and wisdom for Friday's round-up. Carry on. ®