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A sermon on modern safety

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Stob Before I start, please take a moment or two to identify your exits, in the unlikely event of the alarm sounding during this article. These are clearly marked with a blue underline like this (nb this is not an actual exit, but just a demonstration of what an exit would look like if this were an exit.

Do not click on this), and of course some of you may also be able to use your back button. At the first alarm, please click to escape immediately. Do not stop to gather your thoughts. Do not sit there gawping vaguely at the girl in the sidebar advertisement’s Flash animation.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that, having sniffed the prevailing wind of the current legal climate, The Register is instituting a new Health and Safety policy. I have been appointed Readership Safety Co-ordinator, and it is my happy privilege to explain to you, valued reader, just how you will be affected by the systems that we are putting in place.

By the time we have finished today, you will know how to get the most out of the Reg without putting yourself in unnecessary danger. We will cover everything from idle click-through on the latest Thomas C Greene to obtaining a Permit To Read for Andrew Orlowski’s forthcoming and groundbreaking new Reg series ‘Who is more evil: M Palin or D Attenborough?’

On with the fun. All safety courses begin with a brief wobbly video introduction. To view ours properly, you will need to have installed the RegVid plugin, a 2GB download from our temperamental server hosted in the Falkland Islands. In case you have not yet done this, we have made arrangements so everybody can follow the presentation using a simple, text-based interface.

A martial signature tune, with loads of trumpets, french horns, and that starring double act of analogue recordings: Wow and Flutter. This music plays over a title sequence of stock sub-‘Dallas’ helicopter shots of skyscrapers. Although superficially elaborate, the overall impression is of cheapness.

Caption:

Safety at The Register

Biting the hand that feeds IT
but without breaking its skin and potentially causing infection

Cut to an office interior. An Important Man in a suit sits behind a huge desk, pretending to correct reports with a fountain pen. After a while, he looks up.

Important Man: Hello, and welcome to Safety at The Register. You know, I bet that many of you think that we at the ‘Reg’ [chuckles at the abbreviation] are mostly concerned with attracting readers, or creating tip-top editorial, or turning away would be advertisers because their products just aren’t good enough for you.

Close up shot of Important Man’s face, being extra sincere.

Important Man: But nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, these other things are important. But what we care about most of all is your safety. Yes. That’s right.

Cut away to film sequence of happy Reg reading office workers, identified by prominent RegT-shirts, pointing at the CRT screen and laughing at something amusing; teenage girls cavorting on beach while occasionally pausing to read the Regon their brightly coloured, internet-enabled mobile phones; boiler-suited man putting down their Reg coffee mug, and closes safety visor to carry on using an oxyacetylene cutting torch. Jaws-style tension-inducing music in the background predicts imminent disaster.

Important Man, in voiceover: In the modern web-reading world, even the safest IT news website can be a dangerous place to be.

Film sequence: the CRT monitor explodes. The girls are abruptly swept out to sea by a wave. The boiler-suited man raises visor, puts cigarette in mouth and prepares to light it with his cutting torch. Soundtrack music switches to Gloomy Sunday.

Cut back to Important Man in office, with his sincerity now racked up to 11, like a CNN newsreader trying to be Walter Cronkite: That’s why, here at the ‘Reg’, we have become the first semi-satirical IT news portal to put in place a proper safety policy for all its readers. But we need help from you. Today we are asking you just to spend a few minutes familiarising yourself with our new safety policies.

Caption:

Safety at the Register:

Don’t be a thicky when you clicky.

So much for the film, although please don’t delete RegVid as I have a cartoon called PAT the tester that I will be showing later on in the course.

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Next page: Just common sense

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