Readers exorcise satanic BMW

A very German postbag

Letters To jump-start this Tuesday's foray into the rolling steppe where enlightening missives stand like welcoming peasant villages amid seemingly endless tracts of email buffoonery, let's have a quick butcher's at a couple of points regarding accessible websites.

Or more specifically, the snappily-titled PAS 78: Guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites from the British Standards Institution:

Interesting article, pity the report will probably be completely ignored - why? £30 a copy! If they want the proposals to be adopted they are much more likely to succeed if the report is available free on-line.

Nigel Callaghan

I realize that your article has mostly focussed on compliance (albeit voluntary) aspects of accessible web design, but I do wish you had stated a little more clearly that accessible design helps "normal" people as well. I'm over 50 and wear reading glasses, but few would call me blind. Alas, I also use a variety of browsers on a variety of computers and have long ago lost track of the number of sites I've simply abandoned because I wasn't using the exact same version of IE on the exact same version of Windows on the exact same screen size as the developer. I truly suspect that the average web-devloper came here on the C-ark. :-)

Also loved the bit about CMS. El Reg has gone through several periods where the only way to read it was with Lynx, due to various cock-ups in the ad service.

Mike Albaugh

A good point about the 30 quid there - you'll comply and you'll pay for the privilege. Charles Clarke would love it.

According to a BSA survey, most employees would grass up their bosses for illegal activity. Naturally, the BSA's main thrust was about unlicensed software - a crime generally ranked up there with treason, mutiny in the armed forces, piracy on the high seas and setting fire to arsenals and dockyards:

I don't suppose it occurs to these goons that any employee with a grievance (real or imagined) could make a huge amount of trouble just by suggesting that there was unlicenced software on the premises. Indeed, given the BSA's notion of what needs licensing (including all drivers, according to one their persuading letters), just about everyone would fail their tests, so perhaps they should also inspect the whistleblowers, most of whom are probably writing their outraged letters on the firm's copy of Word...

James Pickett

Yup, caveat employer, and no messing.

Ok, let's get down to what's really been setting the Reg email inboxes alight this week: That satanic BMW...

I might probabaly be unfamiliar with the specifics of BMWs UK-models, but all the others i have seen so far had a feature called "key". By turning this you can quite reliably deactivate a cars ignition system, which usually results in a drastic loss of speed. Maybe worth a try next time.

Christoph Hechl

Can't believe the BBC has published this nonsense!

There is no production car in the world where the brakes aren't powerful enough to overwhelm the engine when it is at full throttle, when the car is in the high gear necessary to achieve high speeds. Particularly with an R-reg 140bhp BMW 318.

Try it yourself sometime. Go into fifth, hit the accelerator and the brake simultaneously and you will find in *any* car that you will simply slow down and eventually stall.

I guess the only possible genuine explaination is that the chap had fitted an M3 motor under there, buggered up the wiring and kept the original 318 brakes. In which case he deserves to be weeded out for natural selection.

Makes for fun reading though!

Drew Wagar

Here's a possible explanation for the lack of ignition-killing action:

The driver reportedly didn't switch off the engine because he thought that he would lose the steering. Not true: no car is allowed on the road where the steering requires the engine running (although the power assist might be lost and the steering become heavier than normal).

For me this is a wholly positive story. This man chose to crash his car into a roundabout at full speed based on his belief about how a car works. It's an illustration of just what happens when you let your belief system go up against reality. I could now make a wider point about the slow motion train wreck resulting from the belief-based policies of the White House meeting up with the physics of Hurricanes and RPGs in Baghdad, but that would be crass.

Ken Tindell

And in case you don't believe that BMW really is now controlled by the Lizard Alliance, check out the following:

I pity the poor bloke. It makes my continual tales of woe to BMW service falling on deaf ears seem a little lame... I only ever had to put up with them saying it was my imagination for

Dashpanel failure... Complete... No instruments at all. Apparently I imaginged it because it wasn't logged. Radio dialling up full volume while driving... And sticking there... Drivers door locks that won't lock from the keyfob... But will from inside the car

Now since his BM'er obviously hasn't recorded anything I guess they'll blame him too...

Hmm... Also an R-Reg... Did the lizzards send some trial virus back in '98?

One thing I do want to know is how a '98 318 automatic made it all the way up to 135Mph... Those lizzards must really know their motors...



I own a 1984 BMW 323i E30. A bit older than the one in the story, but back when I first bought it it had a particular problem with the accelerator sticking when pushed to the floor. Turns out the throttle cable would get lodged up near an air pipe. Only way to save yourself was to (a) clutch in (b) kill the ignition or (c) hook your foot _under_ the accelerator and pull. Maybe I should have mentioned it to BMW so they'd have a 'precedent'.

This neo-luddite likes old cars because if all else fails, you can always kill the ignition and pull the handbrake.

Michael Pearson

BMW seem to have short memories. i recall a report of their motorcycles being affected by radar instalations and dumping a number of police riders on their duffs. and also recall a friend recounting how a BMW came through the wall of a pub he was in somewhere in germany , beside a military installation, and the driver saying that the throttle had just opened itself and he lost control.


John Durrant

Hi Lester, I had a similar incident in my BMW X5 last year, I managed to stop on the hard shoulder but when I rammed the gearbox into park and turned the key of the engine continued to rev so I got out and ran down the hard shoulder, it did cut our after about 30 seconds. I was recovered by BMW and know that they had problems finding the cause, it eventually turned out to be a faulty fuel pump which was pumping diesel to the sump and micxing with the engine oil.

Kind Regards

Grant Collins

They must been been testing this technology for awhile. In 1998 my Dodge(y) Neon decided to uncontrollably accelerate. I foiled it by shutting off the ignition via the key. Our scaly friends must have figured this trick out, hence the trend to have push-button electronic starters with no physical key switch. Since it was just the throttle cable that was jammed in my case (which I quickly fixed), it brings into question the new "Drive-by-wire" tech. Not only can they jam the throttle wide-open, they can take you for a unwanted leisurely cruise.

Matt Piechota

Regarding the Man servives satanic BMW crash-and-burn article, I can predate this one. This happened to me nearly ten years ago now in my first ever car - an original Leyland Mini 1000.

The problem in my case was that the throttle cable had stuck open. I was on the M1 in the outside lane at the time, and started accelerating to around 95mph (an impressive feat for a ~1977 S-reg Mini 1000).

My problem was that after putting on my hazard lights, no-one would believe I was broken down and no-one made any space to let me back to the hard shoulder. It seemed they thought because I was still travelling quickly, there couldn't be anything wrong. I had to bully my way into the middle and inside lanes, and again bullying capability is not that high in a Mini 1000.

Braking only did so much, and I had to let the thing rev itself to death by slowing down on the gears. When I finally reached the hard-shoulder I could put it into neutral and turn off the engine.

It wasn't a fun ride, I can tell you that. Didn't help that I was on my way to a job interview at the time, one that I arrived at hours late and covered in oil and blood (Minis aren't fun to work inside).

I didn't get offered that particular job. Can't think why.

Cheers, Ian McCall

To conclude this thread, there's always one, isn't there? as we are prone to exclaim:

Well its nice to know this kind of thing has happened to someone else, I experienced something similar when I was driving my E36 M3 late one night.

Luckily it was very late and the road was deserted, I had just finished an evening long sesh with a bunch of mates and was on my way home along the A38 from Exeter to Plymouth when I experienced what can only be described as an uncontrollable compulsion to bury the accelerator.

Let me tell you I really fought back despite being a bit tired and emotional but before I knew it I was doing 165mph, this carried on for about 20 miles before the entity (I can only presume it was of alien origin) released me and I was able to resume the usual 90 mph. Unfortunately there were no police about to help me, I can only suppose they were all scoffing donuts in a caff somewhere.


( I hope the boffins at BMW find this useful, feel free to forward it to them if you think its worth the effort)

Name supplied

Fair enough - your dossier has been made available to the relevant German authorities.

Speaking of the Germans, our CeeBitch round-up provoked a small flurry of email activity. Dissapointingly, the author of this frippery described the thing as a "blog" - a word which is now seemingly applied to just about anything containing words formed into sentences. The word previously deployed to decribe this particular format was "diary", and we may soon subject the repulsive blog to a reader poll (see "lappy" polemic at the end of these letters) to see if we can't consign the webtastic buzzword to the dustbin of lexicographical history:

Dear Joe

I am sorry to have to highlight several mistakes in consecutive paragraphs of your report on CeBIT. You write :-

"Goethe go to the loo

"And what would a show blog [=report - Ed] be without reference to the toilets. Like the public spaces, Germany's semi-private spaces are usually pretty clean, and what they lack in cosiness, they make up for in functionality. But here, again, there seem to be outbreaks of anti-authoritarianism. German kharzis have a breadth of graffiti you rarely see in the UK, long treatises, often accompanied by website addresses, along with exquisitely drafted pictures. Much of it is in English, and often quite witty - eg, Why's the pope a German? He got his beach towel on the balcony first. And before you ask, I know this was all written by Germans, not itinerants Brits. For a start, the handwriting is legible, and the words is all spelt correct."

If there's one thing Germany is renowned for, its efficiency. You may be staying in Hamburg, an hour and a half's train journey away, but you can rely on the EIS train to get you to the show on time. There are even staff on the platforms, kitted out with laptops to help give information to confused passengers. I watched one, with his Thinkpad set on a wooden lectern, nicely setting off his shiny red cap with a big polished badge. He calmly directed passengers, switching seamlessly between German and English. And, when he was done, he folded down the lid of his laptop, ready to move along the platform. What I didn't expect was that he would do this by pushing the lectern on a set of concealed wheels. Efficient, perhaps, but kind of missing the point

(1) For a start, the handwriting is legible, and the words is all spelt correct. (and the words IS all spelt correctLY)

(2) rely on the EIS train (You are obviously referring to the magnificent ICE Trains, but sadly your attempt to translate 'ICE' into German (EIS = ICE) has failed badly as the letters ICE on the trains refers to Inter City Express !!!)

Mike Simmons

Hm.... As a Kraut i feel a bit offended :) Been 3 days in London to sample the pubs and clubs and what I really did miss was that british efficiency. Why must one press at every street a button to make a green man let me pass ?! Why do pubs close at 2300 and clubs at 0300 ?!

One of the reasons we so not cross streets when we could is because of the children. If they learn to cross a street when it is safe they wont get killed and thus can pay our retirement pension :) Germans don't like to gamble it seems, we want to play it quite secure. Most women around here don't go out to get picked up and laid, they really just want to have fun. Naked BBQ? Seems I have missed that somewhere :) And since births are more or less quite stagnant, I would even say we do not have much sex either :)

Andreas Wolter

Andreas may be right about the sex. Whatever happened to the CeBIT "peripheral services" industry?:

In other years, people would walk through the halls and hand out little business-cards with adds for local brothels for those who couldn't get enough party at the booth-parties. Of course, totally illegal, but difficult to control in such a vast space.

cheers, Rainer Duffner

And to wrap this one, a few dictionary worriers set us straight:

Hi Joe, as a German, I enjoyed reading your article very much. For "threat to civil liberties", you could say "Angriff auf die Grundrechte (or: Bürgerrechte)", meaning "attack on the basic (resp. civil) rights".

Christoph Lange

"For a start, the handwriting is legible, and the words is all spelt correct."

Should be

"For a start, the handwriting is legible, and the words are all spelt correctly."

Henry Schlarb

We don't know how to say "for the love of all that's Holy" in German, but if we did, that's what we'd be exclaiming right now.

Finally, more linguistic outrage regarding the term lappy:



Do Reg staff have some form of competition as to who can come up with the most offensive abbreviation/violation of the English language? This one beats "mobe" hands down!

Please don't ever use it again!

Stuart Van Onselen

Well, the readers must decide on this one. Click here to decide the fate of the decidely uneuphonious "lappy". ®

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