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Dunblane – the plot thickens

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Douglas Hayward, editor of Computing, writes:

I always enjoy reading Pete Warren's work, and never more so than when he really gets the bit between his teeth.

Still, Bunny's spirited defence of his mangled opus on Dunblane contains an uncharacteristic inaccuracy which I'd like to correct. Bunny reports me as quoting, in my now-infamous TechWeb despatch all those years ago, a British spook who supposedly said that "Herf guns" (which I referred to as "radio frequency" guns) didn't exist.

I've never reported that radio-frequency weapons don't exist, and the spook never said that. I remember sitting through a two-day conference in Brussels (someone had to) where a guy from the Swedish military talked about his experiments with these guns. I think he killed some farmyard animals and destroyed a car engine, or something like that. Apparently there isn't much else to do in Sweden.

The point I tried to relay was that radio-frequency weapons (which shouldn't be sold to children under the age of 12, by the way) capable of attacking banks were not yet in the hands of criminals and terrorists. Or teenage nightclubbers. In an understated nod towards rapprochement with Bunny, I even quoted the spook as saying that these weapons may well be a 'point of concern' in the future, even if they weren't actually worth bothering about then.

So, I'm not at all embarrassed that the US Navy 'had been testing Herf guns for a number of years' when my report was published. I'm just surprised the things are still so crappy that the US military has yet to deploy them in action. Or perhaps, as Esther would doubtless say, Bunny knows better?

Pete's done a lot of serious, sensible journalism in his time. I'd like to reassure him that that I certainly don't consider everything he does as being branded with the Dreaded Mark of Dunblane, as he seems to imply in his letter.

But whatever you do, kids, please don't use Herf guns at home: they can be dangerous.

Sincerely,

Douglas Hayward

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