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Letters Our report this week into the potato PC scam which left south London students clutching a very expensive laptop bag full of spuds provoked an angry response from some cash-strapped young 'uns. The outrage was caused by our reference to "grant cheque" - a term fondly remembered by we "old timers" who need to "get with the programme, grandpa", as two readers put it.

We now realise, of course, that students no longer get grants, they get loans which they apparently pay back over 1000 years at 89 per cent interest. Or something like that. Anyway, here's more on the subject:

A mate was caught by this one in the West End a couple of years back. Two blokes offered him a cheap laptop in a car boot, hinting that it was stolen. He was ferreting around for his cash when one of them allegedly spotted a bobby on patrol, and as he made himself look inconspicuous they swapped the laptop case for another. No potatoes this time, but he did get a few copies of the Sun. Try telling the police that you got ripped off buying a laptop you thought was stolen, and see how far you get.

Mike


The theives were also working Milton Keynes recently, my brother in law parted with £500 and all he got was an Argos cattalogue! didnt have the heart to tell him for another £50 he could have bought brand new from [shameless plug for UK PC retailer excised - ed] The characters had Irish accents and were driving old bangers, they were thought to be Travellers passing through the county, It was also well reported in the Milton Keynes local press, seems they stung a lot of people here too!

Steve Gott


How dare you refer to such entrepreneurial acumen as a 'scam'? Clearly these businessmen are selling the students the components of a high-powered server machine, such as the one that can be found here: http://d116.com/spud/

Adrian Jackson


Speed cameras. Ooooh, don't get us started. As expected, our examination of rogue radar readings got the steam venting from the ears...

Speed Cameras, Ooooh, don't get me started....

The fascists gave me a fine just the other month, on a dual carriage way, no pedestrian access, leaving the danger zone (traffic lights) and they did me doing 57 as I entered the 60 zone. Dirty dirty dirty fascists!

Then they have the gaul to send me a glossy pamphlet saying that the speeding ticket was not revenue generating, 60 quid of non revenue generation? Heck, if they thought I am a danger then don't fine me, just ban me from driving, give me 10 points, but don't try to 'spin' that it's not revenue generating. Dirty dirty dirty lying fascists!

Heck, if it truely is saving lives they are interested in then park their detector vans next to schools, or outside my house where kids cross the street. But no, they'd only catch one or two poeple that way, best to park hidden next to a tree on a dual carriageway with no pedestrian access then they'll rake in the money.

Anyone associated with speed cameras, from the designers to the opperators to the people who send out the bills have no honour, and due to karma they will probably all die in horiffic ways.

Have a nice day,

andy


Ah, the A610 speed cameras. Very well known round here. I know several people who've been caught. It's a tricky stretch, because it's two lanes all the way, so people assume the limit is 40 mph, but it's not. They also assume they only need to slow down near the actual camera, which is incorrect. Those cameras calculate your average speed between two points. I've always assumed, because the way the cameras are arranged, that the average is calculated between pairs of cameras on individual stretches of the road. So it doesn't work to factor in traffic lights. There's a camera just after each set of lights and just before the next set.

It's a fatal (and lucrative) combination of a clever set of cameras and a dimmer-than-average population. I think it's hilarious.

Rob McMinn


Greetings from Osaka,

Cameras are also very common here in Japan. All over the highways and on normal roads as well. There are several types, some are for speed, some are for monitoring cars and drivers -- for what reason I am not sure.

Anyway, from the sound of the article it seems like the cameras in the UK are fixed in place like they are here in Japan -- staying in the same place for years. Of course new ones are added and old ones sometimes removed, but they don't change that much.

So, a few years ago the radar detector makers here got wise. GPS receiver in the detector. Database in the detector. All camera locations known. I'm sure you see where this is going... :) The detector warns you 1km in advance that you are approaching a camera and tells you what type of camera it is! You slow down, pass the camera, and then return to a realistic speed.

The 2 year old model I have lets me add cameras if I notice new ones by pushing a button on the unit. The latest ones offer updates via Internet though... It must drive the cops insane!

I don't know if radar detectors are illegal in the UK or not, but I imagine databases and GPS receivers aren't. Some enterprising person could make quite a bit of cash selling such a unit...

Ian


Y'know what would be interesting, would be, how many serious accidents have there been recently where that monstrous revenue generating camera is?

Since if it's a low or zero figure, that would sort of point out that it's a revenue camera, not a safety one...

Euan Robertson


Simple response to the "you're just using the cameras to get more money" is either

1) A day in prison 2) A weeks' community service (two hours a day, for example) instead of fines.

Mark Hackett


V-girl, eh? Exciting virtual girlfriend for the "socially inadequate":

"Kisses? What about a shag? This is costing good money."

The socially inadequate eh? ;)

Tijl


Hi Lester,

I just read your article on the V-girl and thought I'd update you on the history of this invention.

I created the first "Virtual Woman" back in 1991 and still hold the trademark for the name "Girlfriend". She was artificially intelligent, had a synthesized voice, emotions, memory, and full-motion video. She was even better than this new Vivienne, because she was not made of 3D rendered wireframes, but rather from a real, live girl. We would shoot many many hours of video and then dissect it into individual clips so when she moved from her living room into her bedroom, it was nearly seamless. And, oh, yes, the bedroom. She WAS capable of virtual sex, unlike this new imposter. Each of the girls in the series, Lisa, Suzy, Teri, Tracy, and Donna, had her own sexual idiosyncracies. Some were easily multi-orgasmic, some liked it rough, and some preferred romance.

My company, AIVR Corporation, was unable to find someone with deep enough pockets to help Girlfriend compete against all the $8 XXX-rated porn CDs that emerged in the mid 90's, so we had to fold up shop. But Girlfriend has tens of thousands of loyal boyfriends all around the world who helped make her "the first virtual woman".

Dave Morris


re:v-girl

I reckon it'll be days before someone hacks it to

1) be naked 2) do virtual sex 3) look like Bill Gates all of a sudden part-way through e-sex

yours prophetically

joe whiteley


Finally, on the matter of Black Helicopters, as suitably celebrated in our new t-shirt, we have this chilling tale from Steve Graham:

Back in 1996, I was practising night take-offs and landings at Long Beach airport in California, and I was sharing the circuit with a genuine, unmarked Black Helicopter. With a callsign of "Thunder One" no less. However, the voice on the radio was definitley American, so perhaps he wasn't a stooge of the New World Order. Or maybe they just want us to believe that.

That's all, folks. Back next week, black helicopters permitting. ®

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