Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/17/letters/

Left-handed men are gay: official

But do they drink Guinness?

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 17th March 2006 12:56 GMT

Letters Since today is St Patrick's Day - which you may have noticed - it would be churlish of us not to publish a few thoughts on Guinness, or rather the stoutmonger's website. More on that later, but let's kick off today with some feedback on the shock revelation that RFID tags might be susceptible to virus infection:

No, RFID tags cannot be infected by a computer virus. Maybe those with a processor an memory can, but it would be very, very hard to get that done. RFID tags can be made to *contain* a virus which infects the terminal. Just like MP3's cannot be infected by virusses, as many online music stores want you to believe. Something that does not execute cannot be infected, it's that simple.

Maarten Bodewes

Although I suppose there is the vaguest of possibilites on this happening, its is not a problem with the RFID itself. These things just hold 64 or so bytes of data. It's the machine that interrogates them that causes the problem. Any tagging scheme that is read would be susceptable, but to be honest, the data coming off the tag should be encrypted (even we did that in a small test project), which immediately stuffs this sort of hack (unless the hacker knows the encryption system). The reading system, in order to make this hack work, must also be very badly written, which again is unlikely - the system needs to be able to recover from bad data in the tag, or reading of tags not intended for the application in hand,and this should again prevent this from happening.

One of the hacks relies on passing the data directly from the tag to a SQL query without checking for validity - VERY stupid code writing, and very unlikely to happen.

Another depends embedding Java on the tag. This is a bit more interesting, but again, simple checking on the tag can negate any issues.

The final hack relies on the middleware having a buffer overrun. Well, anything can do that......but again, not a problem with RFID tags but with the accompany software, easily fixable by writing it properlly in the first place.

A case of scaremongering to poison the world against RFID perhaps?

James Hughes

Good article but I was pondering why no-one has covered the potentially more disastrous side of RFID - the fact that the tags by the biggest vendor can be hacked?

See here: http://www.spychips.com/press-releases/verichip-hacked.html

Im guessing this is something that a) May have already been covered on Reg and I missed it? b) Bit of a news 'black-out' on it?

Anyway the proof is there.

All the best,


The British government is 110 per cent behind science. No, really...

I enjoy reading your website as it always makes me laugh. The above story elicited a particularly large guffaw when I came to the quote from the DTI's Alan Johnson:

"The government's committment to science is not in doubt."

Ah, dear, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes, and the cause of my paroxysms? The fact that it is now March 2006 and staff at the government's CCLRC laboratories still haven't had a pay rise which was due in July 2005. The DTI's commitment to UK scientists and engineers doesn't appear to extend to actually spending time dealing with such an inconvenience as sorting them out with a salary increase.

Is it any wonder that university admissions in science and engineering are falling when A-Level work experience students who are considering a career get wind of how much scientists and engineers, and all the other staff involved in work done there, are valued by government?

Thanks again for brightening my day, and enjoy National Science week!

Name withheld by request

SecurityFocus's Mark Rasch this week examined the balance between net censorship and protection, stating: "Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa have all been reported to use either state or monopoly ownership of ISP's to restrict access to information sites." South Africa? Not so, says Andrew Winks:

South Africa does NOT restrict access to information, even though Telkom has an effective primary carrier monopoly and does all the evil things that monopolies do. But that is a commercial matter and not one of personal liberty. (A second network operator has recently been licenced but has yet to bring any products to market, so Telkom continues to rape and pillage and we have the most expensive broadband in the world. Much more can be said about that.)

Your article cites the report at http://www.cjfe.org/specials/internet/ch1.html

That very report says "The decision was made to uphold South Africans' constitutional right to access to information; it was also seen as a victory for freedom of expression on the Internet, as it would ensure that as many people as possible would be able to hook up to the Internet easily."

Nothing there to support the inclusion of South Africa in the list of countries that limit what may be accessed, is there now?

Brit law says Sun "can patent an invention for a reduced set of Java Bytecode instructions – the form of instructions that a Java Virtual Machine will follow to execute a Java program". Hmmm...

> Notwithstanding their acceptance of this two stage test, the applicant has argued that it should be interpreted in the light of additional comments made by Mr Prescott QC in his judgment. They say that Mr Prescott attaches great weight to the fact that computer programs are mostly provided in binary and cannot be sensibly searched, and that this justifies their exclusion from patentability. But they go on to say that Mr Prescott clearly considered that the exclusion was only meant to relate to computer programs as such; not to other methods which happen to be implemented by a computer.

> I think this is right, and at some point I will need to decide whether this invention is a method which happens to be implemented by a computer, or whether the invention is a computer program as such.

The distinction made by Mr. Probert isn't quite as distinct as he might seems to be indicating it is. A great many software products embody a particular process model that could be (and in many cases has been) implemented without a computer. Payroll processing, record-keeping and searching, and even email programs could be considered to be computer-based implementations of paper-based systems. In fact as far as modelling goes - the JVM just models what a computer does ... on a computer.

The problem is that a computer program is, well, ... a program ... on ... a computer, regardless of what it happens to do. Which means the Java VRM is a computer program, so is the operating system it runs under, the BIOS that supports that operating system, and any Java programs that run on the Java VRM on the OS on the BIOS. Doesn't matter what the program does - if it's a piece of software or hardware that causes a computer to do something then it's a computer program and that's that. Roping in the idea of 'computer programs as such' is simply misleading because it makes it seem as if there are computer-programs and computer-programs-that-are-just-pretending.

None of this would matter so much if Sun were keen to patent an idea which was truly original, but the idea of a virtual machine is as old as the hills, and Sun's virtual machine implementation is, to say the least, a bit cack-handed. In fact Java is fast becoming (if it's not already become) the Visual Basic of the lower-level programming languages complete with an ever-expanding standard library which seems to be in a perpetual state of review, with functions arriving and departing with each new version of the development kit and creating an ever expanding (=confusing) amount of someone else's code, none of which is under one's direct control, and thereby undermining the whole point of computer programming - to control the box of tricks that's happily humming away under your desk.


Right, that's enough IT. Let's have a shufti at the Guinness website - or not, as the case may be. ActiveX problems seem to be keeping a lot of thirsty punters from their pints as they cannot get past the company's age-checking landing page. There may be more:

Apparently it's a cookie thing too. I blocked a cookie coming down when initially visiting the site and it just returns me to the index page (which doesn't mention the site requiring the use of cookies)

Dungeon Dave

It also appears that 53 year old citizens of the United States are deemed unworthy of entering their site. At least if they're running Linux. I've tried entering their site using both Opera and Firefox (on SUSE 10 Linux) with no success.

This appears to be a text book example of either age or OS discrimination and a perfectly good reason to switch my preferred "evening coding beverage" to something less dark and discriminatory. Of course it would be a lot easier if the stuff didn't taste so darn good. But, I guess I'll be switching to Bass or maybe something more continental like Becks or Grolsch.

Before flaming me on my choice of evening coding beverages, "evening coding" is purely recreational and sloppiness and/or errors induced or enhanced by this choice are of little importance. In fact, on occasion they can be quite entertaining the next morning when discovering the real reason the darn thing just wouldn't compile the night before.

Anyway, whether they're discriminating against Americans, 53 year olds, or Linux users, Guinness has lost a customer. And to think that just last week, while my youngest daughter was on her spring break from college, she visited the Guinness brewery in Ireland and brought me back pictures and a souvenir bottle opener. If only we'd known the truth about them sooner.

Oh well, thanks for pointing their website out. Without your article I may never have had the incentive to visit it and learn of their prejudices.

Do you think they get many people born in 2005 visiting their site?

Tom Hartland

Only from certain housing estates in Manchester. They start 'em young up there.

Funny how the Guinness site is stricter about drinking age than law, portuguese law, at least. Well, in Portugal, you can buy a beer in a movie theatre, and I don't mean in a paper cup either, err... As I was saying, here it's legal to buy a pint from age 16 onwards, but Guiness only allows 18+ to go view their beer stuff. How uncommon, any youth can drink it, but can not know what he's drinking!


How many underage drinkers drink Guinness?

It's more expensive to buy from an off-license than the typical underage drinker's fare, is messy to drink out of cans thanks to the widget and tastes like muck compared to the real stuff that you get in pubs.

Why bar kids from the website?

You can't buy Guinness from it (as far as I could see during my brief visit) and even if you could the lack of a credit card would be a bigger stumbling block than some hypothetical inability to lie about your age to obtain booze.


Conor McDermottroe

How sad that Guinness is brown-nosing political correctness. This isn't about children's welfare, this is about the corporate public image. Their noses are browner than their beer. Do they actually believe that viewing a webpage is akin to drinking the beer? Is there one child on the planet who will possibly be influenced in a positive way by Guinness's stupid little age test? No Guinness-loving 14 yr old in his right mind would suffer himself to be sent packing to Google. Here in the states, one cannot legally drive until 16 years. Perhaps we should ban all children from viewing websites featuring muscle cars and motorcycles. Driving is, after all, dangerous and addictive too.

I was almost brainwashed into believing that seeing Janet's tit has destroyed my kids' psychological balance for the rest of their lives, and was preparing them for intense ongoing therapy in order to counteract the horrific experience of witnessing the ugliness of a human breast. Maybe I should be glad Guinness has saved my children from a darker fate.

What message are they trying to get across here? Perhaps they should allow the children to see the site and disallow adults. It is after all, adults who abuse Guinness and not children.

I'm sorry, but stopping a child at the gates of a beer website is not the same as declining them a pint of the beverage. That's something a child would intuitively understand.

I hope someday we wake up and realize that children aren't as stupid as adults are.

And I thought we only had Republicans here in the States.


The results of LoveHoney's online ejaculation pole were a bit of a revelation. Some of you even found time between participating in this vital scientific research to give us your thoughts on the matter:

You mean some men keep count? What if you forgot where you'd got to? Would you have to start all over again? And how come the number of people who came into warm apple pie were never mentioned?

That's the trouble with these surveys - never enough research.

Oh - and as for the question about getting the Middle Mouse Button to boot up? It's basically about three more strokes than you provided...


Followed the link from your story and was rather puzzled by the results....

Average Strokes To Cum - gay men: 54
Average Strokes To Cum - straight men: 62
Average Strokes To Cum - bisexual men: 54 Average Strokes To Cum - left-handers: 58
Average Strokes To Cum - straight men: 60 <-------
Average Strokes To Cum - ambidextrous: 55

So is this a typo that should read "right handers" or are they implying that left handed guys are gay? Sounds a bit dark ages to me...........

(Incidently I didn't take part in the poll - I dont have the time to indulge in that sort of thing :)


Regarding your article on the Ejaculation Pole, I mosey'd on over to the LoveHoney site to see the results. I didn't take part in the survey myself as trying to remember how many strokes it was taking really threw me off my stride!

Anyway, I noticed in the "Bare Facts" section the numbers for Gay, Straight and Bi were not dissimilar to the numbers for Left, Right and Ambidextrous! Does this imply that all Left handed men are Gay? Who's to say, certainly not I.. However, LoveHoney themselves don't seem nearly as shy about drawing such conclusions, because low ad behold in the section below "ASTC Index" the categories are marked out as Gay, Straight and Bisexual, then Left, STRAIGHT and Ambidextrous! A Freudian slip or did the survey reveal more than they are letting on?

I myself am Right handed... just wanted to clear that up.


Yes, this does seem a bit of a slur on left-handers. More hands-on research is clearly required to clarify the matter.

Right - the English language in all its glory. Or not, as the case may be:

Dear Mr. Williams:

On behalf of everyone who took offense to the term, "eggheads," you used to describe and label the geniuses who command the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, I say, "Shame on you!!" You owe them a sincere public apology.

If it were not for these men and women, who have such great intellect and gifted abilities, there would not be a space program. Not only was your poor choice of terminology offensive, but also counter productive to the President's effort to encourage American youth to study math and science.

One can only hope that you and your editors do not go around smashing all shinny things you do not understand ("Planet of the Apes"). Once again...shame on you and your editors.

Sincerely, John Bunnell

I don't like the term "Eggheads" being referred to people at NASA/JPL... I don't think you would call your son/daughter that after spending a great deal of money on their education. These achievements by this people should be noted by using better adjectives. Their heads bear no resemblance to eggs....


Eggheads, eh? They're lot touchier than boffins, aren't they?

More lingo-based fun. How do Melbournians abbreviate tarpaulin?

You're right - tarpaulin doesn't have a two-syllable abbreviation. Here in Melbourne (and other parts of this Great Brown Land) it's referred to universally as a tarp (note monosyllable).

Phil Burg

Fair enough - that's the UK abbreviation too. We like tarpie better, though.

> Blast - me and mate got lambasted for suggesting that - at a barbie in Melbourne while quaffing a coule of tinnies.

you were probably downing them not quaffing them :) and if they were tinnies, you were probably in Brisbane not Melbourne ;)

ahhh,..... the australian language in all it's complexity!

cheers Stuart Prescott

Lester, I can really empathise with the reader whose boss refered to spreadsheets as "spreadys". That sounds really sheety.

Andrew in Dublin


"Spready" an Oz-ism? No chance, it's far too mealy-mouthed, just like lappy.

Incidentally, tarpaulin, gets abbreviated to tarp.

And we don't just work with two-syllable labour-saving abbreviations. We're also quite keen on two-syllable extensions: Dave becomes Davo, and John, Johnno; except for our beloved Prime Minister, John Howard. He's just known as "that little bastard".


We had a South-Africanner in our office who asked one day if anybody had a "stiffy". Apparently, that's what they called floppies in a previous job he had.

Martin Ballhatchet

Was he left-handed, by any chance?

Mr. Haines,

In your column today, the following item appeared:

' While your at it, could you please ban that bastard non-word in increasingly common usage across the atlantic: "webinar".

thanks, jon lawrence

Hideous. Mercifully, a quick search of our site reveals no results for this monstrous word.'

I gleefully offer the following wild sighting: "Register Today - VMware Government Webinar Series" was the subject heading of an email I just received!

Karl Anderson Computer Science Corp. under contract to U.S. EPA Corvallis, OR

Shocking. We suggest that all right-minded citizens gather after dark bearing torches and agricultural implements and we can storm the offices of the outfit responsible for the outrage while shouting "kill the monster!"

Reading "Readers indulge in lappy-slapping" I couldn't help but comment on this:

> I thinks "crims" should be added to the list of no-no words. > > http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/14/exploding_atm_attack/ > > Andy King > > And "blaggers"?

since "crims" is already an abbreviation for "criminy" - an exclamation of surprise - then it's misuse to refer to blaggers should probably be stamped on in the same way using the word "white" to refer to black things would be, so as to remove confusion... I've no objection to "blaggers" (nor to "mobe", as it happens, though "lappy" sounds too much like one of those annoying little yappie dogs whom I abhore (now there's a nice word*) with a venom that I reserve for little else.

Keep up the good work and feel free to invent new words/abbreviations, just avoid using the same words to mean different things, we've enouhg of those already! :)

Jo *<:@)

* You can blaim Frankie Howard for teaching me that particular word! :)

Dutch blaggers explode ATMs

Umm, instead of blagger, the proper term is Yegg, and the technique for blowing safes is old and much honored, just putty up seam around the door, drip in some nitroglycerine and detonate. Using fuel/air explosives to blow a safe may be a new innovation over the old nitroglycerine methods, but probably not. Yegg = safe cracker.

What is wrong with all these peeps? Mobe's gone, so is lappy, who's next? Mobo maybe.

I'm not a Brit but I just love spoken English. Some people must understand that this is the way a language evolves and this is the way "some" people communicate.

Maybe El Reg should consider banning phrases like "I didn't wanted it grassing me up to the old bill", or even "porkies in his CV". I bet some of the readers thought that the bloke had porks on his CV, at a first glance!

I absolutly agree that saying "Would you like a spot of Brandy, dear?" in a stiff-upper-lip manner is different to saying "Fancy some hair of the dog, luv?" in a Manc accent!

As for the fact that "lappy" means idiot in some language, those people in Austria didn't change their village name from "F*ck" to something more moderate.

Get real people and stop "authors" from being creative. At the end of the day you shouldn't be so "toit".

Regards, Stergios Zissakis

hi lester

surely, being an IT site, the best thing to do would be to give people a 'preferences' page so they could choose whether lappy, mobe or other colloquialisms were shown. darn, you could even set it up to autoreplace americanisms for the US audience...

my tuppence

tom davis

If my memory serves me correctly, The Register long, long ago had a glossary page explaining acronyms, British colloquialisms, and the like.

It would be good if that could be reinstated.

Thank you.

Daniel N. Strychalski

-- a Yank in Taiwan

Try this - The American-speaker's guide to Proper English. For further enlightenment, peruse our handy guide to acronyms and the aforementioned overview of Reg jargon.

Dyslexic version of "color" ... WOLB EM! Im surprixed you LImey dorks to spell it cheeurs -- you can't spell anything else! Allow me To poiint out that "el Reg" is a reference to Spanish -- and that the British are retarded. I swear, it's like you English had an over abundance of the letter 'U' and decided to stick it everywhere it doesn't belong. Allow me to tell you where to stick it. If you wHiney English can't start using our language correctly, we Yanks are going to revoke your license and youl'l be reduce to speaking Farsi

STick that in you 'lappy'


By the Lord Harry and St George! Are we going to take this lying down? Well no, we're going to take it standing up, at the bar, with a pint of Guinness. Sláinte.®