Banning things, thought crimes, and dangerous guitarring

And the new airport etiquette

Perennial bad guy, the Business Software Alliance, has decided that people without the right software licenses should be fined. And tarred, feathered, stuck in the stocks, and pelted with rotten fruit. Oh, all right, just fined, but you get the idea:

But how can the software be proven licensed? According to a ruling against a reseller of unused licenses, the CoA isn't proof of ownership (otherwise the seller would be in the clear). So what is? Receipts? For how long?

What about out of service software. E.g. Windows95 or DOS, used for legacy applications or for hardware unable to run newer OS's or software from defunct companies? You cannot buy a license for this class of software, so how can you become compliant if there is no record of purchase suitable for this new requirement?

Lastly, if the government is to be the enforcer of copyrights and software license, then the Sony DRM fiasco would shut Sony down: the only reason they got away with "stealing" GPL code for their DRM virus is because the owners haven't asked for statutory damages and the government is not empowered to act on their behalf.


This would be the same BSA whose operating tenet seems to be "guilty until proven innocent"?

The BSA of which the letters pages of Computing often tell of their tactics to suggest that a BSA review of license usage is needed once they get a foot in the door, and if you decline then you obviously have something to hide? The same BSA that will then start escalating the "issue" of declining a review up your organisation's management chain?

The same BSA that, after receiving anonymous tip-offs, will instigate harassment of your organisation as described above? After all, no-one could possibly have any malicious reason for giving an anonymous tip off, would they, like a competitor, or disgruntled employee, or bored kid, or... Whilst the list is not endless, it's quite long.

So the BSA can take their ... approach and place it where the sun most definitely doesn't shine. They already operate beyond their remit, and further powers would just give them more reason to puff up their chests and berate every business - legal or otherwise. Perhaps we should give them little peaked caps too, as I'm sure they'd love the extra frisson of power that'd give them when menacing innocents.

They have a difficult and important job, for sure, but when you look at the BSA's members, it could be the very definition of "vested interest" when it comes to licensing enforcement.


The evolution of the language continued apace this week. We were berated by a reader for our use of the word "papped" in a headline this week (meaning snapped by the paparazzi), and we had the guns out for Orange's invention "mobification".

"...but we’ll put “mobification” into room 101: already home to “lappy” and “mobe”.®"

"Gah! You used the forbidden word! " "What word?" "Suffice it to say, it is the word that an El Reg Hack may not utter!" "What? 'lappy'?" "Well now, you can't get very far in life without saying 'lappy', can you? - Oh, I said it, I said 'lappy'! - Oh, I said 'lappy' again!..."

That calls for a pint, eh?


We all shed a tear for Pluto as it was demoted from planethood to the lesser status of dwarf planet. Although the resolution was passed democratically at the IAU, plenty of astronomers are in open revolt. As are you:

(2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape2 , (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

so with Cruithne and at least a couple of other bits of debris still floating about in Earth's orbit, is Earth suddenly a dwarf planet too?

I think Pluto being relegated just because it's in a bad neighbourhood sends a bad message. They'll be banning it from flying next.


I suggest we just call Pluto a "planot" from now on, planots being "solar system objects previously classified as planets but not anymore."


guess that not only do we have to be aware of the threats from black helicopters and the ROTM, but now a pending invasion from the Plutonians who are probably pissed that we don't consider their homeworld a planet. Lord help us if they join up with the Martians who are PO'd about us leaving tire tracks on their planet.


If I'm reading the IAU's definitions right, then they've given Neptune a status it doesn't deserve. See, Neptune hasn't cleared the area around its orbit. There's this annoying binary system consisting of bodies called Pluto and Charon which keeps on crossing Neptune's orbit.

I can't help but laugh at that one; the same criterion they've used to boot Pluto out (they've always kind of resented Pluto, since it was only discovered in the 20th century) also kicks out Neptune, which nobody wants to dispute the planetary status of...

I'll leave the making of bad jokes about "the furthest planet from the Sun is now officially Uranus" to the professionals at Vulture Central.


Ahem... "Pluto booted out of league of planets", that's not nearly reg enough. I'm thinking "Terrorists in Prague Destroy Planet". Much better huh?


And finally, we all learned what not to say to airport security staff when asked what that odd looking device is. "It's a bomb" comes top of that list, closely followed by "I don't know" and "Nothing offensive, but I look a bit foreign so why don't you arrest me anyway?":

'Regarding the offending device, he added: "It's normal. Half of America they use it."' That must be the women, then. I'm a man, and I've never even seen one, outside of blurry pictures in spam. And since no one with an IQ higher than room temperature in Celcius would buy anything from a spammer, that leaves me wondering if the Mad Penis Bomber might not have, in fact, been planning to blow up the plane with it.

I'll get me coat.


I'm sure you'll get lots of emails about how dangerous it is that security folk can say they heard one thing while what was actually said is different, yada yada. And that is a frightening concept because where is the proof? It's just one person's word against another's. But what fun is that conversation? Instead I'll get right to the 'head' of the matter.

"It's normal. Half of America they use it." - Amin

If Amin is right, that would mean every American male has one, and some women. (Since last I checked over half of the population is female.) Even if Amin meant something more like half of adult American males, that still seems like an awfully 'pumped-up' figure to me, that I'd imagine is just plain over-inflated.

Sincerely, Arah

Lester are you trying to scare people into not flying this story means just one thing the people at the airport don't know anything about security (not to mention sexual aids) or bombs, what is this? "oh it's a bomb" thats really fucking likely isn't it, how many ways can people be retarded and still get employed as airport security it's bad enough pilots have the shakes at least they can sort of be let off they never get to see the passengers and the waitresses they use as flight attendents are worthless for information.

This may seem funny but it's not it's typical for the kind of paint sniffing zombies they hire for minimum wage airport security. We tried to beef up security but those darn terrorists were just too darn clever well just have to attach your nuts to electrodes now to board the plane "will it make it safer" no , we just like doing that. We need to shut down all flights until they allocate enough money to get humans as security staff.


Until next time. Enjoy the weekend. ®

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