Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/10/letters_1011/

Alien pope abductors want open Wi-Fi access

Chewing the cud

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Bootnotes, 10th November 2006 16:31 GMT

Letters Let's start the letters bag with some good news from a couple of weeks ago. We've got masses of grumbling, papal madness and alien invasions to come, so we thought we'd start with an easy one. Hands up who wants some free money? Then get down to the west, where a cash machine in Bristol was handing out £20s instead of £10s. Nice.

Regarding your article on doubling the money on an ATM. A few years back I used to repair Diebold ATM machines and the most likely thing to have happened must have been the employees sticking 10 pound notes into the 20 pounds casset. I'm guessing one money casset would be carrying 20,000 pounds of 10 pound notes. There would probably be only 1 casset for 10 pound notes since normaly the ATM would dispense only 20 pound notes and put the 10 pound notes if the amount withdrawn is not devidable by 20.

It happend to a bank in bahrain once, but it was much worse, they had 50 Bahraini Dinar notes in the 10 Dinar casset. I'm sure that guy got fired with no prospects of ever working in a bank again. Thats 5 times the money per withdrawal!

Luckily, over hear in Oman, I havent heard of such stupid errors happening! There have been cases of fraud, but they were more to do with a bank insisting on using ATM machines that are more than 16 years old, cant expect good security from a machine that old. No need to name the bank, its got a bad enough reputation anyway.


Ofcom steers clear of involving itself in a net neutrality debate. Good idea? Bad idea? Don't say neutral...

"A content provider going to a service provider and asking for a guaranteed level of service was OK, he said. Access providers strong arming content providers into paying, was not."

And when the first of these becomes the default in order to get ANY service work speaking of ?

It's clear that Ofcom simply don't understand the problem and have a rather optimistic view of what competition law can do.

I personally think the net-neutrality debate has gone off the rails in the US, and I don't agree with the very pure "no traffic prioritisation whatsoever" stance taken by some of the pro-neutrality campaigners. However, I do agree that we need controls to ensure that any controls are done in a supplier independant manner - eg I have no problem applying prioritisation to ensure that voip works well, as long as it applies to all voip, not just traffic for suppliers/customers that pay extra.

As to getting a return on investment for the network suppliers, well isn't that what we pay access charges for ?


Some almost random thoughts on the bizarre nature of the world, when you have SkypeIn:

Skype In, when it works, is perhaps the most amusing of all modern communications methodologies to explain. I got a SkypeIn account when I was in the process of moving house but was stuck in the US for work. I'd told my solicitors, estate agents, vendors, etc. that I would be abroad, and the easiest way to contact me was email or dial my SkypeIn number, a London number.

Those who were reasonably tech savvy got the idea pretty quickly. For the rest it took a considerable explanation that yes I really was in California and not lying through my teeth hiding in London and therefore available for viewings, signings, etc. Being thought of as evasive is not good when you're moving house!


Take one cow oocyte. Add one part human DNA. Stir carefully and leave to mature for a few days:

The real sticky part is that not all the DNA in a cell comes from the nucleus. The mitochondria, which are the power generators of the cell, have their own DNA which codes for a portion of the proteins in use by those organelles. The mitochondria in a cell are only inherited from the mother - from the ones present in the egg. There are genetic defects that are traced to mitochondrial DNA, so they aren't merely identical units across members of one species, let alone multiple species.


Technically this is NOT a hybrid. It is a chimera. The resulting cells are human (period) with bovine mitochondria.

There would be no "techical" difference between the cells and human cells except for the some of the mechanics in the cell and the mitochondria. 99% human, 1%cow physically.

However, genetically, these would be human cells. The mitochondrial dna is housed in a small microbe like structure that divides and exists completely separately from nuclear dna which defines the creature that is formed.

So you'd have a person with a cow's cellular metabolism. These mitochondria are ancient bacteria, as are chloroplasts in plants, that learned to exist symbiotically with a host cell. We have no idea what will occur when you start swapping mitochondria.

I'm not thinking that's such a bright idea and I suspect that whoever put it forward realizes it's potential for calamity and is simply pulling a stunt to seek further definition of the boundaries of law.

There has been no long-term study on what would happen when you start mixing metabollically different self-perpetuating structures in what would be a symbiosis of cow mitochondria and human (at least in the very important nuclear sense) cells.

Until they run some primate trials I think this is a really bad idea.


How many cheerleaders does it take to change a light bulb? No? We haven't got a clue, either. But someone mentioned them in a discussion of the merits of having or ditching security on your wireless network:

Your article was complete bollocks. Congratulations..

If people can get out of copyright infringement allegations by saying their wirless network may have been unsecured, you can hardly advise them not to make that defence. Except YOU.

You confirm the public suspicion that all lawyers are bloodsucking leeches.


"The police don’t like anonymity breaking evidential chains. Will they push for new laws that make unsecured networks illegal, or grounds for a claim that the operator is aiding and abetting the commission of a crime?"

I wish they would. Requiring manufacturers to ship all wireless devices with security enabled will eliminate one point of attack for botnet operators, to begin with. It will also vastly reduce the number of absolute morons operating wi-fi systems; they'll have to ask a competent friend, or hire a competent tech, to set their networks up for them.


I don't agree with your article; I think it's complete FUD.

Only way to keep s.o. system secure is by convincing him that this is necessary eg. for avoiding phishing attacks, keyloggers, etc. People using PC banking are motivated to keep their system clear because they gain something. This works because the user has the choice to either trust or not the system to eg. do their payment over the Internet.

But asking novice users that they are compelled to keep their system secure otherwise they'll face legal prosecution for facilitating cybercrime, this is nonsense. If applied, everybody will be in a state of legal uncertainty since it's not possible to be 100% that so's system is secure. Moreover, let's not speak about botnets that do much more (and real) harm. Should people be sued because their virus definition are not up-to-date, or because their AV brand is not good enough?

From a security point of view this is completely unenforceable. So I would say on the opposite that the wireless defence is actually a pretty good one. Moreover, you don't really have to open up your network all the time, but only when you're suspected. And they're probably 100s of other possible defenses. You can't fill all the gaps, the world is simply too open.

Of course, I agree to say that there will be a trend to put all the responsibility over the end user. They push the child porn or cybercrime argument, surfing on wave of fear, but we all know what it is about. It's marketing. They push the good side of the product so that you swallow the pill and pay the price. We used to say that the customer is the king; now we say that he is a terrorist and a cybercriminal. Hope the good days will come back soon.


ESA is planning to measure our gravity field and use the information to work out all kinds of cool stuff about how the world works. But you just think the boffins have funny names...tch:

Two thoughts.

First: Wait wait wait wait. The ESA head of Ocean Ice Unit is named Drinkwater and there wasn't a joke made about this? For shame! Drinkwater drinkwater everywhere, and not a pun to drink. Second: I think they originally wanted to use the phrase "apple of gravity missions" as a tip of the hat to Sir Isaac Newton, but them realized that computer pundits might think it would run too hot and loud before crashing spontaneously. Which, considering the low orbit and new propulsion could be a very real concern actually... Sincerely, Arah Leonard

The Pope calls for an end to alarmist predictions from scientists. You had a few thoughts on why that might have happened:

"Pope Benedict XVI has warned scientists to beware of making alarming predictions without having the proper science to back them up"....

Well that's basic job protection isn't it... If scientists start making wild claims and predictions with no evidence to back them up, what's the Pope going to have left to do?


Pot calling the kettle black I think. Surely religious leaders have an obligation to accuracy too. "...avoiding needlessly alarm predictions...", err like you are going to hell for example?

Surely he should also not say anything that is "not supported by sufficient data". Please provide the data that proves God's existence. Please provide the data that proves that us non-believers are going to hell. Then we might take what you say more seriously.


The Pope's hardly going to worry about the forecast depletion of fish stocks - all he needs is one (and possibly a loaf of bread) and he can repopulate the oceans.


If this was QI, there'd be a big word flashing on a screen right now, and Stephen Fry would steal some of your points...

Re the pope warning scientists about making alarming predictions without sufficient data, I must say that I am somewhat disappointed at the Pope's lack of faith in the scientist's results. Surely, the Pope has some experience (one might even say extensive) in taking certain concepts (both pleasant and otherwise) for granted, without concrete evidence to back them up....

Happy Friday, Chris

I have to regard Mike Hulme's comments in your article about the Pope warning against alarmist science as somewhat hypocritical. The recent Stern report, lambasted for using only the most extreme predictions to justify massive tax hikes, was largely informed by the Tyndall centre's researchers. For more information on this, perhaps you should follow this link http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/2006%20November.htm

There is a great deal of effort being expended by Climate Change scientists to promote the discussion as being one of calm, rational consensus. In fact this is anything but the case and a cynic might point out that having "Climate Change" in your job title rather makes you reliant on emphasising the 'Change' part to keep yourself in employment. The Climate has never, ever been stable and constant, and so far is anything but fully understood. Linking the sensationalist climate change crowd to the Pope's comments is highly misleading, and a bit of a PR coup on their behalf.


Aliens are coming, they probably don't like us, and we're all going to die. According to the man who used to hunt UFOs for a living. At the MoD. (We know...)

So my tax pounds are paying for some twonk to research UFOs? Good grief! What's next, Home Office Ghostbusters? Cheers Simon

Will the aliens need ID cards? How will they apply for visas if the normal channels are closed to them? Can they claim asylum? What if they have no fingers or eyes? The UK Government just hasn't thought this one through


You're correct: There is no point in "preparing" for alien invasion, because there's bugger-all we could do about it, at this stage in our evolution. And it doesn't matter whether or not they have "arm-mounted bazooka-death-ray-guns". All they need is the ability to travel freely through the solar system (which they would have demonstrated by the simple act of showing up here from elsewhere.) With that ability, they can make little side-trips to the asteroid belt, stock up on space-rocks, and keep dropping them on our heads until we surrender! And there's nothing we can do about it - we can barely get half-a-dozen people at a time into orbit! It's vanishingly unlikey that we will ever meet up with aliens, and if we do, we're toast. So there's no point in wasting our energy worrying about it, when there are lots of problems here on earth that we can do something about.


Any aliens making it here must have developed interstellar space travel. Which involves chucking around the kinds of energies that could vaporize the entire atmosphere off the planet, with enough left lying around to rip the crust into tiny pieces, smash the moon into us and quite possibly Mars for an impressive Mortal Kombat style finishing move.

I suggest a new strategy; let the Wookies win.


Britain wide open to alien invasion? I think not, we have 390,000 jedi living here, let see the vicious little green men take all of them on.


Finally, a complaint:

Any ISP whose performance or customer support is poor or way below standard is rightly brought to the publics attention.

If Sky are hard done to their opinion is brought to the publics attention.

Yet all complaints about Sky's own extremely poor customer service and extremely poor ISP service appears to have been covered up by the people that should count. I along with many many many others have written in complaint about Sky's abysmal ISP service as their new broadband launched and spectacularly did nothing for it to fall on deaf ears.

I refer mainly to Ofcom and Watchdog to whom myself and many many others have wrote, as stated in the complaints forum, I am also disappointed that theregister too also appears to be keeping quiet about sky unless it is sky complaining about others.

I have since cancelled after nearly 2 months of waiting.

A disappointed UK register reader.

So many ISPs and so little time. That's all for this week. Enjoy the weekend. ®