Tinsel takes out Wi-Fi Dalek


Letters Let's get right to it. This week, there was terrible news for sleepy people on rush hour trains: Mobile phones are safe to use.

Can't you somehow combine this story with http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/12/06/no_wifi_for_xmas/ to produce a seasonal scare story entitled "No 'evidence of risk' of cancer from Xmas decorations" and containing advice to stand at least n metres away from the Xmas tree, and that singing santas should only be operated remotely in a concrete bunker (if I had my way), and suchlike bah-humbuggery.


We're working on it.

Your last comment about the campaigners against stuff was spot on. However rather than suggesting the study doesn't prove there is no risk they have changed tack. It's now a conspiracy thing. However I do work in the industry and so I obviously want to cover up any problems.


Next, we brought you the shocking story that students, scurrilous little deviants that they are, cheat in their exams. We know you are as shocked (shocked!!) as we were.

I don't understand, all we were allowed on our desk during an exam was a couple of pens and a packet of sweets! If we'd reached into our bag to get anything after the exam started we would have been walked out of the exam hall and made to sit it again???

What's the problem with that???


Bill says: A boring old solution like more invigilators or smaller groups is a lot less exciting than mobile-phone jammers and fingerprint scanners.

Of course, I failed all my exams so at least no-one can accuse me of cheating.

But during an exam there's no logical need for a mobile phone, so any student caught using one during an exam could be failed automatically. I can't imagine that being all so difficult to monitor for Fred fiddling with his mobe when he should have his pencil on the paper.

What is more of a problem, and what I did over a decade ago, was put my notes into programs using comments on my TI-85 calculator. Physics, chemistry, calculus, etc. all need nice shiny calculators. In fact a graphing calculator was a flat out requirement of my calculus class. And putting your notes onto a calculator designed to run graphing programs is just oh so easy...

Plus you can play a Pong clone when you're done to waste time before handing the exam in so that you don't look like a rare genious by being done so early. No one cares that you're fiddling with your calculator when your exam requires you to use one. And no one is going to take it away from you either. That was my experience anyway.


Name withheld to protect the cheaty. Aren't we nice?

I enjoyed the cheating article. It reminded me of my university days. We sometimes took exams in an auditorium, using large sheets of particle board as a writing surface. During one such exam I noticed that, when the light struck that board "just right," some physics forumlas (from the previous day's exam) could be seen. Unfortunately, the forumulas were incorrect. I got a 100% on that exam (without cheating), I can only guess what the cheater received.


Vodafone's network made like Britney's undies and disappeared for a while last week. You noticed some handwaving in our story and rightly called us out:

"other black arts" seems to mean you don't know what the fook the thing does :-)

But that's fine cos I'm sure I was paid to learn it, yet I know I can't remember - despite working for a "major European Telco" and being told it's terribly important.

"Who cares what the blasted thing does" is what springs to the tip of my tongue, every time I'm asked about HLRs. "As long as ours work and theirs don't"...

Ta for spotting this,


Back to the pesky kids. Students again, and this time they're under attack. Yes, the fabulous dalek scarestudent. Not everyone is a fan:

As a student at York, I do rather take offence at the suggestion that we're somehow a noisy or disruptive bunch - especially coming from a man who derives his fun from hiding in a Dalek costume and scaring innocent passers-by!

In fact, a few short years ago York was the most boring university in the country, according to those well-known masters of accurate cultural polling, Siemens: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2502601.stm

Perhaps Mr. Simpson would have been better saving that £1000 towards a deposit on a new house? I suggest Wales...


Like tinsel? Like wifi? Too bad, you have to chose:

It's not just Wi-Fi.

You won't believe this (we didn't), but one year we were putting the office decoration up, and thought it'd be nice to put tinsel around our monitors. When we did, the monitors died. Removing the deocration restored the CRT to working condition. Unfortunately the boss worked it out before we could make BOFH-style advantage of the situation.


your article on the risk to WIFI of Christmas decorations rings true, in fact The Reg already ran a story on the problems suffered by one of our nodes a couple of years ago http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/10/tinsel_wifi_knockout/ rest assured piertopier.net will not be celebrating Christmas in any way shape or form but encourages all paid for providers such as T-mobile, BT and the cloud to go tinsel crazy :-)

down with paid for WIFI!!!


More daft uses for technology. Track your kids with GPS. Really. Because that'll work, right? No?

I don't imagine it'll work. The little darlings will leave the i-Kids at home, or in their school bag, where it'll get no GPS signal, and so offer no assistance in finding them when they go missing, or until the battery goes flat. Where's the motivation for the kids to use it - and keep it in line of sight of the GPS satelites - if they can only call mum & dad with it? They should have included an MP3 player in it. Or the ability to TXT with it.

What you really need is a bluetooth connected GPS antenna grafted to the top of their heads, a tiny speaker implanted in their ear to tell them to go outside every 10 minutes (assuming they are not at home so that their RFID implant is within range). Then you'll need the GSM part secreted in some body cavity against kidnap, and charging-via-USB cable through some convenient orifice.

Or just let 'em play on the railway line like we used to do.


BT lays out a big fat wedge of cash on a nice system-wide upgrade. You looked at the figures and noticed there were other projects around costing far more:

It's good to see that BT can replace the UK entire public switched telephone network for £2.4bn less than the government needs to spend to give the NHS a dodgy booking and records system.

Neil S

So BT's pstn network is "venerable"? I had colleagues working on "System X" as we used to call it when I commenced employment in the early nineteen eighties. So if System X is now "venerable", what does that make me?

Neil H

Er, also venerable? Oh wizened one.

Right. That's your lot. We're off down the pub. Well, it is nearly Christmas. ®

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