Readers' letters the best of the rest

Taking the piss

Eight miles high

Andrew Brown DarwinWars author writes:-

Mushrooms are more complicated than your Norwegian correspondent, thinks. Fly Agaric contains not one but two hallucinogens (atropine and butrophine, if my raddled memory serves) and the point is that each is poisonous if taken in large enough quantities to induce an interesting time, but both together tend to cancel each other out.

Yet the proportions vary between individual mushrooms, so you may end up with a handful that are lethally unbalanced towards one or the other poison.

The solution that the Lapps (not the Norwegians) came up with was to use their reindeer as an averaging mechanism. The reindeer eat a lot of these mushrooms from time to time, so many that their pee contains a roughly 50/50 mix. This makes it safer than the unprocessed raw mushrooms and probably not much more disgusting.

It's not just Lapps. So far as I know, the practice is also common among other Finno-Ugric tribes in Siberia.
Norwegians wouldn't do this because they have alternatives, like alcohol; and because there are very few reindeer south of the arctic circle. So far as I know, it wouldn't work with elk; at least I have
never heard of the experiment being made.


How useless is Java with just 10k of memory on a cell phone? Not as useless as you might think...

I share much if not all of your skepticism, but I should say that with restricted i/o and none of the huge crappy Java packages wasting space, you can fit a tidy little application in that much room. I played around with a Java iButton from Dallas Semiconductors a couple of years ago (ie the "Java Ring") and with no user interface at all, you can actually cram a modest little application into a fairly small amount of space. Of course the cell phones have a UI, but it's a dumb little one, so presumably the
support for it will be fairly compact.

On the other hand, I can't think up any great applications, either. But presumably in a few years, with vastly more memory and better interfaces including Bluetooth, such devices will really be useful -- for something anyhow.

I sure hope there is no telephony module for that Java, BTW, otherwise you could download a game which turns into a trojan horse, making some expensive toll call to a foreign country....

- Laurence R. Brothers

An AMD reprise

As a faithful reader of the Reg, I am disappointed by your absolutely horrible journalistic coverage of the alleged Athlon/DDR problem. This is especially true with regard to your feeble attempt to substantiate the existence of the problem in the article entitled "AMD 760 Problem Identified?" Come on, Tom's group was working with a pre-lease version of the Gigabyte board. For you to the draw conclusion that this review somehow justifies your earlier articles, I question both your logic and that of the Reg for allowing you to publish it.

Anyhow, I hope you'll able to rectify and/or clarify the Athlon/DDR problem. Until you do, I will read Reg articles with a great deal of skepticism.

Bill Luna

Sponsored: Designing and building an open ITOA architecture