Ratty pilots worry sci-fi fans

And cheap tinsel worries wifi fans

Letters If volume of letters is a reliable guide (and we are not saying it is) then the most important story of the last two week was the discovery that neural cells from a rat could fly a fighter jet. Naturally this news has alarmed many of you. Judgment Day is upon us, and it has whiskers:

Eh....hello....."Battlestar Galactica" anyone?? Am I the ONLY one who sees where this research is going?? I say we ban the proto-cylons now before it's too late!!


Oh great! As if we didn't have problems enough with machines (cyberloo's, talking trash bins, Italian villages going up in smoke), now they are hooking up rat brains to flight simulators. Next they'll have them flying Predator drones armed with missles. Just what I want in my neighborhood. Time to get the shotgun....

Cheers, John

Others were more worried by the zoological confusion that evidently overcame our picture desk: Greetings,

Yes, I still appreciate The Register's high standards in journalism. This is just a bit of a nitpick.

On your front page today, beside the leader for the story about the rat brain/jet simulator, is a tiny picture of a rodent. But looking closely (it's hard to tell with a 48x48 image...), it appears to be a Syrian hamster, not a rat. And a cute hamster, at that :).

If, in future, you need a photo of a rat, let me know -- I've got a site full of them :).

Cheers, Charles

WRT your article "Rat brain flies jet", although the prospect of a rat one day flying aircraft instead of humans fills me with wonder and awe, i believe that you may have mistaken one rodent for another...

In case you ever have a problem identifying rodents again, hamsters are cute and stuff food into their cheeks. Whereas rats are evil and viscious (and if cornered will go for your neck if my father is to believed).


Further to this very interesting field of research, I wonder if Reg readers could build a list of 'brain to job type' that the researchers may find useful in furthering their scientific study.

I'm sure these obvious and perhaps cliche' starters may help to set the ball rolling:

Accountant - weasel or stoat brain Human resources personal - dung beetle Manager - hmm amoeba proteus??


<manuel_mode> ¿Robin, por qué usted puso el animal incorrecto en el cuadro? No es una rata, él es un hámster.

Respeto, Gary </manuel_mode>

Conventional synthetic neural networks `train' responses to stimuli by back propagating errors (adjustments to weighted values for each individual neuron) by a mathmetical computation known as the back propagation of errors. Its filling in the gaps, mathematically, for a process we do biologically that we refer to as trial and error or learning. Our learning is the result of continued activity along neural pathways via the senses. I am intrigued how a mass of cells with no sensory input (or did I miss something) managed to translate binary code into ionic impuses along a neural network that trained resistance and flow for certain stimuli - perhaps you could fill in the gaps and athe whole issue of biologicla and artifical connectismn.

If you can I'll put the nobel prize in the post


There's always one, isn't there...

This should have them quaking in the Departmant of Homeland Paranoia. With the breakdown of basic services in Iraq, there must be an endless stream of rats ready to be signed up by Al Qaeda.

You can see the headlines coming: "Dead Rat flies jet into White House". Buy shares in warfarin...


We discovered last week that wifi broadband can be terminally disrupted by the wrong kind of tinsel. Much seasonal laughter ensued.

Further to your excellent Brighton wireless report

Each time my office florescent overhead lamp is turned on/off the Apple airport USB Canon printer resets and frequently our Mac losses printer capability. Curiously as you report. Remedy is to remove and reinsert the USB connector from the printer. Corrects the problem.

Thanks to you and The Register - my daily read in frozen but warm people - Canada. Happy tinsel time ;-) (But is it the reason for the season?)


I had spent all morning on the 'phone to BT and Plusnet. Other than increasing my bloodpressure not much was achieved in resolving my ADSL problem where, for the last two days, it had been going up and down more rapidly that a Government minister's bottom. The only thing they could agree on was that it was the other parties fault!

Having read your article I called my wife to try switching off the lights as a last resort - within 20 seconds all was working perfectly and has remained that way.

So I have learnt two things: 1) Believe everything you read on the Register 2) I am a cheapskate and only buy cheap decorations.

Duane Dibley

"It has come to BT's attention that an extremely small percentage of seasonal lighting, which can be used both internally and externally..." Mmmm. Kinky.


Ooo, behave...

You are a cynical lot you are. Microsoft's plans to deal with Nimda-style outbreaks have not impressed:

I wonder what NAP's default behavior is going to be when sniffing around the network it comes across a non-MS OS to talk to. Oooh, say Linux perhaps. The Microsoft of old would have used this 'opportunity' to do more than a little mischief.

"Sorry Mr Customer, but NAP only talks to secure Operating Systems running NAP, and we don't consider Linux to be one of those. How about we offer you a free copy of Windows to replace it with? For your security and peace of mind, of cause."


>> allows admins to restrict access to networks to machines without >> up-to-date OS patches <<

So it'll stop EDS trying to update Win2k machines with XP as well, will it ?

Regards, Mike

Suggestion to Microsoft :

Adding supplier support to Yet Another OS scheme is about as useful as putting bullet-proof windows and forgetting to replace the wooden latch on the door.

No amount of security measures will have any possible positive impact if Outlook continues to run any script from any source whatsoever without restraint, or if IE continues to accept any and all commands to do whatever just happens to be the attack flavor of the day.

I dare say you'd have less to do to secure the OS if you simply locked down Outlook and IE. Make it impossible to read the address book from external code, or to execute local code, and make it impossible for ActiveX to read/write the disk, and security will suddenly become a lot more real.

Such a simple thing to do, yet it will probably never be done. Oh well, continue piling the sandbags, Microsoft. It is not a total loss - at least you're giving work to thousands of anti-virus people.


More statistical griping, this time prompted by the survey that revealed women are more likely to keep one PIN for all their cards:

Hmmm 500 people, so 250 men & 250 women. Hardly to be called a statistical representative group. Unless Britons are more uniform than the Dutch.

I guess that when you make the split between people who are by their daily business more aware of security, you'll see the woman involved in the research are more likely to be in the unaware group. Like about double compared to men. That would explain the difference.

From my practice I've seen sys admins - who should be security minded if anyone - write down password and PINs and stick them in trivial places like the bottom of a keyboard or their wallet. And most sys admins are male.


As a man I am loath to give women credit over men but is it possible that women are the one who have worked out how to change their pin numbers and men just accept the numbers given to them?


When I saw the title "Women are crap with PIN numbers," I clicked the link to expecting to see something to confirm that women were lesser than us. Instead, I find you saying that "Two thirds of the women questioned used the same PIN for all their cards. Only one in three men adopted the same practice."

This is extremely disturbing because you see I do the same too. When you put a sexist title for an article please take care. Chauvinists like me deserve better. One-third is a significant majority. Many heads of state have been elected to position with less.

Moral Volcano

Is there any chance of organising a campaign to have all people who use the odious phrase 'PIN Number' taken outside, stripped naked, sprayed with ice-cold water and repeatedly beaten with a rubber hose until they get it through their heads that PIN means Personal Identification Number?


The OFT's plans to look into allegations of overcharging by British supermarkets did not go down well with one reader:

I have to scratch a bit of a personal itch here, as the 'items close to their sell-by date' rang a little bell in my head. I worked in a supermarket for several years and the most irritating customers, bar none, are the sods who go to the milk section, drag out all the bottles of milk at the front, dump them all over the cabinet, and take one at the back because it's got a later sell-by date. There's a bloody good reason the ones at the front have an earlier sell-by date, and it's called 'stock rotation'. If everyone did the same thing supermarkets would either a) never sell half their stock of milk and the price would shoot up, or b) they'd only put out batches with the same date on, which is a pain to manage and means the shelves would be empty half the time (cue sarcastic-voiced complaints from the same bloody customers). I hate to burst the bubbles of whichever picky gits are complaining, but a sell-by date is a sell-by date.

So long as it's not arrived yet, they've got no grounds to complain. If the sell-by date is 10 December and they get it on the 9th, then guess what? That's fine. Unofficial motto of supermarket workers the nation over - the customer's never bloody right.

Adam W

Well, Adam, there is no point buying milk today just for it to turn into cheese tomorrow. And please don't scratch in public. We don't want to see that...

A US survey found that musicians are rather less worried about illegal filesharing than their record company masters:

Is there any reason to look at musicians or record labels or governments concerning the future of music?

Besided farfetched ideas like taxing everyone for authors rights, or technically blocking filesharing, or a major government crackdown on filesharing, the story is basically dead as a dodo. So instead of reporting another round of lawsuits, or another opinion or bundling of opinions, why not report on the consequenses?

Christmas is coming, and I want to see suffering recently-fired record company employees. I want to see CEO's jumping off rooftops. I want to see starving musicians peddling their ass for designer drugs. Show me the internal memos. Show me the audits. show me the pain. Cause the industry that gave us the spice girls deserves to bleed


The article states:

"Selling material without the creator's permission is broadly regarded as wrong ..." I believe that there is a typographical error in that quote. The quote should probably read as "Selling material without The Creator's permission ... ".

The record labels and the RIAA surely would not accept the authority of any lesser power. If The Creator is willing to spend some time doing pro bono work in this field then this could be good news for mystics and psychic channelers. We might have a problem getting The Creator to show up in court when requested, though.


Lastly, a kind of thought for the day:

I noticed the following minor typo in today's John Leyden article, - I guess the following should read 'used extensively by'.

'have been used by extensively cyber-criminals this year'

Please don't think I'm in the habit of emailing people to point this kind of thing out. It just struck me that 'The Register. Extensively cyber' would go rather well on t-shirts.



We're not in the habit of running letters about typos, Tim, but we liked the idea of being extensively cyber, too. Not sure about the T-Shirts, but you never know. ®

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