Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/04/letters_0407/

MySpace, kids today and the NHS

Floating beds

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Letters, 4th July 2006 16:08 GMT

Letters So, who is responsible for what, online? This is the question of the moment, thanks to the whole MySpace furore. Some argue that the parents should monitor their sprolings' use of the internet, others that companies need to do more to make their chat pages safer places to be. Falling into the former category was Scott Granneman, over at Security Focus, who argued that we are : in the midst of a mass hysteria.

Good article.

One interesting statistic (which we will never know) would be: what is the risk associated with MySpace/other social networking site compared with the risk associated with, say, crossing the road once a day? I bet the answer is `much lower'. --tim

This is something me and my mates have been rambling about for sometime, when I was a kid a mere 10 or so years ago I was taught simple things like "Don't take sweets from strangers, Don't go anywhere with strangers, Just becouse you've seen us talk to someone doesn't mean they arn't strangers" beyond that I and my friends had free reign.

Just coz someone has a cheesy grin and a packet of sweets don't mean their a good person to talk to. The internet is just an extension of the real world, especially if you allow the two to cross (sending people photos, meeting up, etc) and shouldn't be treated any different to sitting in a large park full of people. There are accepted rules to meeting people online don't meet alone, always meet in a public place, tell people where your going and what your doing, tell people when you'll be back, inform someone you'll ring them at x oclock. If someone has problems with the rules it should ring pretty big alarm bells.

I find that nowdays parents just refuse to take responsibility and think that other people should ensure their childrens safety be it the police, teachers, internet companies or drivers. We used to get taught how to cross roads safely too, I know, shocking. People in general don't take responsibility, it hacks me off.


Kids these days never had it so bad. FFS I set a 60-acre wood on fire when I was little (11 - count 'em - 11 fire engines!), never mind chatted up dirty old men (or other sex hungry teens) via the Instant Messager software running on the personal computer that was yet to be invented.

When I was little, girls were RL things, and you had to go somewhere in the first place to arrange to meet them elsewhere. I don't believe my mother was ever informed exactly where either of those places were - At least now they know the former is in your bedroom! The difference between a bike ride and the Internet is that "the media" (and so parents/general public) think that the Internet SHOULD be controllable (it's IT!); bike rides are not and never will be (so parents have banned bike rides altogether).

When I was little selling pr0n mags (or nuddy mags as we called 'em, bless us) were the best method of supplementing the 25p a week pocket money I got. However, there wasn't a campaign to scare parents about dumped bin-bags and their contents way back then.

So, you are applauded for your no nonsense approach to one more tabloid invented horror story (an attitude that is getting rarer and rarer on this esteemed publication* ... Many contributors should read the Official Tag Line - You obviously have) Andy

I think you make a mistake using the analogy of the phone to argue that controlling access to the internet is wrong. Your argument is based solely on the fact that both are relatively new (on the scale of human history) means of communication and that because access to one is not controlled, the other shouldn't be either.

That the phone and the internet are relative new technology is about the only thing they have in common. For the rest they are completely different.

The first difference is that posing as a different person is far more difficult on the phone than on the internet. As a 50+ paedofile, try selling yourself as a 14 year old girl on the phone. Second difference is efficiency. On the internet you can dredge for victims far, far more efficiently, maintaining several chats concurrently. Try doing that on the phone.

Third difference: the phone is more anonymous. On MySpace, people advertise themselves. Compare that to the phone book: only names, addresses and numbers. Good luck finding a potential victim!

The example you use is not quite convincing either. The girl started phoning random numbers. It was the victim that took the initiative, not the perpetrator.

The internet has enabled all sorts of bad people to hunt far more efficiently, to a level that it is becoming a problem and attracting attention.

I do agree with you on the general opinion you tried to convey in your article. Education, parental control and common sense should prevail. We should not lay our faith in all kinds of laws and control mechanisms. All they do is make you lazy and dumb. If there are sensible measures that can be taken to hamper the predators, I'm all for it. But as soon as they are perceived as waterproof, we're back in trouble.

There is no holy grail of online safety and anything suggesting otherwise, is a big danger.

Anne van der Bom

Okay, so how about shifting power into the hands of sites like MySpace? Pass a law that gives them a nice, big, hefty legal stick to sue the living snot out of anyone whom they can prove has lied about their age? I understand that it wouldn't do very much good in the short term, but it'd be a start and it'd give them a real financial incentive to come up with creative ways of evaluating ages.


This week also saw the NHS and its beleaguered IT system hitting the headlines once again:

Good to see that some of the truth about this crazy project is finally getting into the open. Some of the recent "revelations" pretty much match up with all of my experience on the programme. The cracks are all starting to show anyway. Great stuff - keep on chasing it. All the best, A.

Surely the issue isn't if the project was well managed considering how ambitious it is - its if such an ambitious project should have been started at all. We can't have the government starting random projectiles like the ID Cards and when it all inevitably goes wrong saying "well, we tried our best"...

>> "There's a shortage of capacity in the healthcare IT industry and we've had to bring in a lot of resources from abroad," said Granger. <<

Only in the sense that there's a shortage of food if 20 unexpected guests suddenly turn up on your doorstep.

If the piloting and consultation phases had been rolled out a few years ago, that might have given local UK businesses a chance to participate.

Regards, Mike

And yet more from the department of government getting IT horribly wrong, with news that the CSA is rubbish, and that all the money thrown at it has made not one iota of difference:

Most galling about the CSA debacle is that we already have a gov department adept at giving out cash, the DSS (or whatever it's called now), and one for collecting it, the Inland Rev.

So keep the decision making part of the CSA and scrap the rest, all sorted. Where can I send my invoice for £91m?


An interesting piece about the CSA IT failure. However, you seem to think that the privacy of Gateway reviews is a causative problem - a view I would humbly disagree with.

The purpose of Gateway reviews is to get a clear picture of project progress free from political pressures to gloss over difficulties. They are intended primarily to help the people undertaking the project and to catch difficulties in the project early. If these reviews were made public, you can bet that the quality and honesty of information in them would take a nose-dive. Essentially, they are a form of peer review (conducted by people outside the organisation). Of course, they are no guarantee of success, especially if their findings are ignored by the project's management.

I do agree though that audits should be performed whose results are publicly available - I think there is room for both, as they both serve different purposes.


91 million pounds on auditing services that all

came in with the same conclusion and NOBODY DID ANYTHING ABOUT IT !?! Which mindless bureaucrat rubber-stamped those reports without reading them ?

Which neuron-free assembly of morons approved audit after audit when they all came back saying the same thing? Were they looking for an auditor to tell them what they wanted to hear, or what?

91 million pounds. I'll bet there's a lot that such an amount of money could have done to help children. Instead, it was thrown to the wolves. The sad thing about all this is that people won't remember it when election time comes.

I wonder what the global IT cost in failed projects is since Blair came into power. Someone should add it all up and present each and every government official with the result - in front of a TV camera.


Hmm. All very depressing. Fun stuff starts on the next page.

Next up, to cheer us all up, we'll consider the fun things you can buy online. How about a free energy generator? No?

I wonder if the device in question is a radioisotope thermoelectric generator.

These are often powered by plutonium and are used for providing electrical power, particuarly useful for unmanned installation where you don't want to employ someone to keep the diesel generator topped up, like spacecraft and unmanned lighthouses. There's a lot of these gizmos unaccounted for in the former soviet union.

Regards, Jim

Looking at the pictures of the free energy generator I can see: An electric motor ( leftmost grey cilinder ) united by a shaft to a gearbox (rigthmost screwed grey lump) which is mechanically coupled to a turbine (green lump in the bottom middle ) which receives some kind of fluid by the yellow pipes, which is generated by the other green cilinder, in the upper part of the machine. As I can see, the trick of the thing resides in the upper green cylinder. In other pictures, I can see some kind of recirculation of the fluid done with the grey fat pipes (2), which return the fluid to the upper cilinder, possibly at a much lower pressuse.

I wanted to ask the seller how much heat the device wastes, but my e-mails got undelivered. I think that the device (if it works at all) is a termal engine, which possibly uses some kind of "unaccounted" way to generate the pressure to make the fluid flow. Inside the yellow pipes must be water or some kind of high pressure steam. On the other way, the amount of fluid needed to generate 100kw makes the use of air (at least at a pressure of less than 10bar) unlikely to work whith that pipes. The pics also show the procfess of building (and painting) the machine.

Good luck to the poor sod that buys it.


Great stuff! You must of course check out the recent Q&A's posted by eBay members on the subject. For example, the seller clearly gives away the secret to the magical device:

Q: Now i may not be some big city engineer. But it seems to me that theres some phisics rule thing, saying that you carnt get energy from nothing.

A: you are right We can not get energy from nothing and we get energy from gravity using tornado effect. Hmmmm... Sounds like these guys are getting the most out of their Dyson vacuum cleaner, but don't you still have to plug them in?

Cheers, Alex

Marvellous !

Actually the manufacturer of the generator has a US distributor already. It is the Acme Co. of America.

I believe their main customer is a Mr. W. E. Coyote.

Mark T. Professional Mechanical Engineer

My money is that it runs on compressed air from a modified wind turbine - but why they don't just stick a generator on the windmill like everybody else is anyone's guess... :-(

Or maybe it's just the scam it appears to be... :-)


Continuing with the silly stuff, we also brought you news of a floating bed. But there are problems with such a device that even we hadn't considered:

Does this mean that when you have to turn the matress the bed slams onto the floor never to be moved again? Adam

There is, of course, one fatal flaw with such a bed, which is where on earth does one tuck the sheets in? I don't know about you, but fitted sheets really get on my wick, wrinkling up the way they do. A proper sheet would have to just hang over the edges thereby hiding the legs the bed hasn't got, and be even more wrinkle prone than a fitted sheet as a result.

Magnets you say? Well, there's another flaw. Just imagine you accidently drop something made of steel, something that at that moment is critically important in one's life; a pair of stout handcuffs, for instance. Whang! They stick to the magnets. Now what? Release of the said item would mean switching off the magnets, assuming they're not permanents. So does one go find a suitable number of books to prop the bed up in the meantime, or deploy the legs the thing has folded away for this eventuality, let it fall to the floor with a bump, or what? Clearly, the vital moment would pass resulting in rows, derpression, additional nicotine consumption, prolongued discussion about the stupid bed he bought, etc.

And news that one's wallet was under the bed would cease to be a relief and would become a moment of credit card mourning. At least you wouldn't be able to buy another stupid bed.

Have you seen those naff exec. toys involving a pen magnetically levitated? In my limited experience one slight nudge and ping, the fields get all misaligned and the pen goes hurtling off. Scale that up to a bed, and who know what could happen should things get a bit rocky? The bed equivalent of pulling the table cloth off a set dinner table perhaps?

I'm sticking to legs. You know where you are with a good set of legs.


Yes, something for the wishlist. Also will prevent that annoying squeaking sound while actively improving your partner's condition. However, lateral movement of the floating top may be a problem when located next to a wall, making an even worse banging sound. I still want one though ;-)


In the picture, why does it look like the guy in the background is looking to jump? Does he, perhaps, want the floating sensation of free-fall, rather than just the floating bed?


Hi, sounds like a generous use of the word "demod". So they actually showed something a bit over a foot long and six inches wide hovering 8cm off the floor? I've got a rather nice magnetic pen thingy that hovers about 3cm up and it only cost me 4 quid. And my cat has a tiny little magnet around her neck to activate the cat flap, but the amount of time she spends wandering around with screws, pins, paperclips, even the odd kitchen fork dangling from her collar makes me think that the Uber geek's uber cat had better not be into ferrous accoutrements or it could have some nasty surprises.


From last week's letters, you had some more comments on a range of topics:

As much as I admire your valiant efforts in coining up various neo-colloquialisms, I should point out that your cousins down-under have you severely beat. I therefore postulate you should quit while you're behind.

Best Wishes, Bruce

P.S. I wrote this on my lappy via my mobe while having a barbie sporting my sunnies and swimmies and looking at some sheilas. (or not)

Chromoplasticity has been around for a while, as a quick Google would have told you, and is therefore not a recent El Reg coinage.

The best reference I found is: S. B?lan, S. R?utu, V. Petcu: Cromoplasticitatea, Editura Academiei Republicii Populare Romine, Bucharest, 1963 (in Romanian).


Hehe. Nice play on words, oh great hacks. '...a bunsen of German/UK boffins is about to fire up ...' 'A "bunsen", btw is the correct collective term for boffins.'

That makes El Reg a bunsen burner, doesn't it?


Your friend Ralph Williams is taking the piss. Not much uranium? Not enough to replace oil? Does he think you burn it in O2 like oil to make heat? Is he a politician or something? Maybe he works nights for the RIAA?

Hey Ralph! Its the main element that causes the heat in the earth baby! The earth will be a cold dark husk by the time you've managed to use it all. And it decays naturally! Which means use it or lose it! Limited? Yeah, by the imagination. Thankfully not yours for which it's clear if imagination was dynamite up your nose you wouldn't need a hanky.

Oz has around 1,142,000 TONNES of the stuff recoverable at around $80/kg according to the uranium information centre in melborne. At even at only 0.7% U235 that's a LOT of energy... And at a half life of 7x10^8 years that'll be lasting a LONG time. (Hell it lasted since it was created in the supernova that spewed out the earths particles, so it'll be round for a wee bit longer than the human race as well).

If we didn't have people like you we wouldn't still be stuck on this stupid ball of rock either. We'd be in space. With limitless energy from powersats etc. Go crawl back under your rock. If you want to live safe, move to antarctica.


Just a quibble about the letter posted by Ralph Williams (Amazing...I thought he was dead, too. Hosted a TV show in the US 50 years ago).

He wrote, "Current nuclear technology cannot be ramped up enough to replace oil as an energy source, because the world supply of uranium is limited as well"

Well, Ralphie, there's a lot more thorium than uranium, and it can be bred into fuel. I remember estimates in the ''70's that claimed there was enough thorium to run the planet for close to a thousand years.


Wow, you printed my botany letter! Does this give me a licence to take the following pot shot at the chap who says 'planes are the cleanest, safest way to travel - WTF?

The cigar-tube-and-two-hairdryers industry has been claiming safety based on the wrong measure for decades. Worse, the DoT and journalists let them get away with it. Deaths per million passenger kilometres is not a measure of a real risk. The correct measure is deaths per million passenger trips.

Nobody takes the 'plane to the corner shop for a pint of milk (except in Nebraska, maybe). There is a fundamental skew to make long journeys by 'plane, and short journeys on foot as a corollary. The correct question to ask before walking out the door is: what are my chances of being alive at the end of this trip? On that measure, 'planes are as dangerous, if not more so, than cars, and a *lot* more dangerous than trains or feet.

No doubt, if the same legerdemain is being used for pollution stats, this is where the "cleanest" claim comes from too. He's telling the truth about the incentives to improve efficiency, though.


That's all folks. More next time.