Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/17/letters_1711/

Jedis use taser guns to shoot down the Queen's speech

And the spoof that spoofed you all

By Tracey Cooper

Posted in Letters, 17th November 2006 16:17 GMT

Letters Let's start the letters bag with something that got you really hot under the collar - the spoof Microsoft Firefox site. My, oh my, what a bunch of unhappy readers you were. Some of you even thought we thought it was real (how little credit you give us)...

As there's just too much abuse to post, we thought we'd give you the one of a million emails that actually appreciated the joke:

The microsoft Firefox spoof today has possibly been one of the best things I have seen in years, my entire office was almost in a fit of outcry, debates on whether or not anyone can just buy out thier competition rather than rivalling it and whether or not open source is really still open source has produced many a red face, but none more so than those who visited the website to download a copy of Internet Explorer 7.

Fantastic!!

Andy Parker

Why, thank you.


And now into the hard stuff. More on TV licences, if you can bear it. I suspect this one could run forever...

When I told my wife about this story, she boggled. "You need a license to watch TV?"

Small steps, people. Today TV. in 2084, the Home Minister will be licesning oxygen.

There are a lot of things wrong with the USA, but freedom to receive unscrambled broadcasts without paying anyone for the privelege still exists here.


The whole TV licencing fiasco could have been avoided if a simple decision had been made, a few years ago before the move to all-digital TV was approved, to require all digital TV receivers and recorders to include a smartcard-based decoder.

Then the licence fee would be replaced by the need to buy a smartcard to unscramble the broadcasts. The end result is nobody watching TV without a licence, because it's not even possible to do so anymore. Of course, the decoder would be upstream of the SCART socket; so pre-recorded videos, DVDs and any new recording technology to be invented could still be watched. Recordings made off-air would have required a viewing card in the recorder at the time of recording.

(This would have the slight disadvantage that the fee would be payable per receiver, not per home. However, in a house with more TV sets than people, it would be possible just to transfer one card from set to set when watching in a different room. This would make it easier for parents to prevent kids watching TV; simply pull the card out of their set. Maybe we could even see a pay-as-you-go card, which is topped-up with fixed amounts of viewing; this would certainly be better for occasional TV watchers. There are many other possibilities that could be explored.)

I find it incredible that, in the course of a lengthy discussion which must have involved experts from across the broadcasting and setmaking industries, such a simple solution would never have been mentioned; and am forced to conclude that the authorities actually so enjoy intimidating people with poison-pen letters and Spanish Inquisition-style tactics that they killed off a scheme which would have eliminated TV licence evasion altogether.

Let me close by saying that I fully support the way the BBC is funded. The alternatives would be far worse: either advertisements (which ultimately leads to advertisers dictating content; ad-funded TV companies are effectively pimping audiences out to advertisers) or Government funding (which ultimately leads to the government dictating content; 'nuff said).


I don't have a TV, and after a number of threatening letters from the TV police, I wrote back to them threatening to sue them for harassment and inviting them to come and check I didn't have any TV receiving equipment. I got a polite letter back apologising for the stream of letters, saying they had to do it because some people who have a TV don't admit it. Since then, I have not heard from them (in about a year...).

I recommend this approach which seems to work.


An approach that doesn't sit well with you, however, is the UCLA police tasering a student for not carrying the right ID.

This is what happens when psychotic fucking pricks are given too much power. I hope those cops lose their jobs, pensions and receive long hefty prison sentences, but it's unlikely they'll be punished if they were trained to perform their duties in this manner.

To think that a student can receive torture and abuse at the hands of police who should have been more professional in handling such a situation is deplorable. In a University, the majority of people attending are educated enough to accept rational criticism. But if this is what a student gets for hanging around just because he forgot or never had the right ID with him, then I think something is very wrong with how police are trained to do their jobs.

A rational approach would have been more acceptable, such as on seeing the student leave, make sure he gets out of the building and is escorted back to his residence in a civil means, and maybe get a small fine for not having his ID. But as it's 10 minutes from Friday and rationality has already gone out the window; and I'm in a good mood, I recommend that the student be allowed strap those police to their cars, taser them consistently until the batteries die (even if the cops die first), then have the rest of the students who were present assist in torching the cars and their unwilling passengers while their families are made to watch.

Thom


You also didn't seem to feel the force when two members of the Jedi religion turned up at UN's London HQ petitioning for recognition of their religion:

Jedi?? That's just sooooooo 2001. I'm now a fully committed, die-hard Pastafarian (www.venganza.org)... well, I will be until something better turns up. Tom

In other news, two people in London failed to GET A LIFE! IT'S JUST A FILM YOU SAD LOSERS.

And don't get me started on the people who actually thought they'd get Jedi listed as a genuine religion based on an urban myth from Australia.

Tossers.

Our sentiments exactly.


Continuing with notions of reality, it emerged this week that phantom limb pain can be alleviated by creating a virtual universe where patients can see their missing limb restored - and move it. You had other suggestions:

Fixing phantom limbs with virtual reality

It's an interesting piece, but are you aware that a somewhat more low-tech version has been used for some time? It's a box with a mirror down its centre. VS Ramachandran discovered this method in the early 90s. There's a decent explanation of how it works here http://aig.cs.man.ac.uk/research/phantomlimb/phantomlimb.php

Although El Reg readers are probably going to prefer to read about how people experience orgasms in phantom limbs http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/mind/note_nf3.html

Simon

Awww, you know us so well.


And on the topic of orgasms, the Queen was expected to propose banning "extreme porn" in her annual speech this week. And while she didn't end up actually mentioning it, it still ruffled a few feathers among you.

Brace yourself for this one...

Dear Mr Ballard

I think your brother does a great job of sports reporting on the BBC. But this isn't an email sent in praise ...

"The law does not propose to ban the act of consensual sexual violence, only the possession of a depiction of it. It will require a jury to determine that something was produced only for the purpose of sexual arousal, that it featured BEASTIALITY, necrophilia, or acts of violence that would be life threatening or result in a disabling injury, and that it had to be realistic."

Now just a moment! At no time has 'my Dolly' ever become aggressive towards me. OK, on the odd occasion she bleets at bit, but it's nothing a handful of grass can't sort out afterwards. And, obviously, I am at my tenderest when I am in her company.

Sir; whilst I am all for the prevention of people looking at photographs of other persons handcuffed to bedposts (and the like ... apparently ...) I do not see why - the otherwise honourable - St Tony of Bliar, has suddenly got it in for my Dolly?

What harm has she ever done to anyone?

Now Sir, I know what you are thinking ... but I simply do not have the time to service all of Dolly's friends (there are only seven nights in a week you know, and the Cheshire countryside is positively covered in white fluffy mounds!); so Dolly had taken to the practice of placing the odd snap of our night time rendevous (does that have another "s" in the plural? ... anyway ...) on random gate posts, for the viewing pleasure of any "uncared for" friends who may pass that way.

Therefore; I would venture that the restrictions about to be imposed will impinge terribly on her civil liberties and Bovid-Rights. Incidentally I do hope the new "Animal Restrictions" will, at least, leave her methodone allowence as is? In our household, Cold-Turkey is only served after Christmas; and we shall have an awful time if she reverts back to the crack!

Further - as I hope I have illustrated - it is not just Dolly who will be affected. What is the world going to do with all those unfortunate sheep who (alas) remain "uncared for", and who will now also be unable to receive their gate-post pr0n-fix?! Sheep are nervous enough things as it is; from what will we make jumpers if they loose their coats from the stress of the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of postings!?

Does no one in this cruel and unthinking government give a damn?!

Something must be done - I shall fetch the old man's elephant hunting rifle from its berth on the library wall. Time for a stand. Are you behind me?

(if so; wait yer f'kin' turn!)


Ah, riiiiight. Onwards.

There was a Blogging for Backlash day and if this is in the Queens speech there will be a second day held when it is debated in the period after the Queens speech.

The master blog (pun not intended) is at http://bloggingforbacklash.blogspot.com/


"What do we think about this? We're not supposed to take sides, so we're sitting on the fence - and boy, does it feel good."

Obviously you have not got the fence adjusted correctly and/or you have not been forced to sit on it for long enough. Perhaps you need one of these:-

http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/BandC/furniture.html#furnipony


No need, but thanks anyway.

My late father used to tell me "hard cases make bad law". He wasn't a lawyer, but he got that from someone who was. The point being, don't try to draft law to prevent a recurrence of one particular case. You'll end up with a law that doesn't achieve the objective, which this won't, and will criminalise all sorts of other things you didn't intend, which this will.

If any party comes into the next election promising to repeal any legislation that resulted from a campaign in the Daily Mail or Daily Express, they'll get my vote.


Ours too.

The UK justice system came under fire again when a dating site hacker nimbly swerved a spell in chokey.

Pfffft.

Non custodial sentence? What kind of signal is that sending out then? He hacks into profiles in a dating site, tries to extort the site owner, and also authored 2 versions of a Virus (the initial version too it looks like) and basically gets off with it? WTF?

Overcrowded prisons I guess will be the answer eh, gee good answer.

And no mention of a court order banning him from using PCs.....

More good work from the UK justice system, while they release illegal alien killers back into society, they wont even jail people who are potential threats to business and home users alike. Not to mention the back-patting of the police, yeah great job guys, the hacker never encrypted his work, so you get the credit.

Woo what a world.


Next up, your views on Warwick University's premature email upgrade - trading in Groupwise for Microsoft Exchange.

That story is uncannily similar to a classic humorous internet text. I don't know if your familiar with the text, but the short synopsis is that an archaic DEC is being supported by a bank next to more modern (c. 1994) IBM machines, which are on a UPS with backup generator, while the DEC is not afforded the luxury. The power goes out, and a failure in the backup generator destroys the IBM machines as the power comes back. I suppose in this story, the ancient GroupWare box is the one that bites the big one, but I'm sure someone at The Reg may enjoy updating the story to fit. :)

Link: http://www.kgb.com/dcl/199411.txt

TJ Harrell


I'm disappointed that the people most aware of the the technical aspects of the problem were not able to provide their input. The problem was obviously unrelated to GroupWise, but a massive power failure. The only person quoted (anonymously, I might add) was someone that appeared to have his own personal reasons to slam the product, probably because he was required to use the University standard mail product.

Most Exchange migrations that I have been associated with or aware of are not as a result of any technical or product capability issues,but because of the ability of an individual within an organization to hijack hundreds of thousands of dollars in budget to get their OutLook client at work like they do at home. Exchange has been proven time and again to be more expensive and less reliable than Exchange, so the idea that users have to be "rescued" from GroupWise by an Exchange system is ludicrous.

James


They're really hacked off with Groupwise? Wait 'til they discover the joys of Exchange, officially the world's worst email service. Thrill! as it bogs down every time you send a big email. Shock! as hundreds of vulnerabilities allow every skiddie on campus to knock the service over. Gasp! as a couple of thousand user SMTP server brings a huge dual core 4 Gbyte machine to its knees. I'm not normally a zealot in such things, but anyone who runs, of all things, a university mail service on Windows needs their head examining. -J.

Sticking with software Allchin backed away from his claims of an oh-so-secure Vista, causing some of you to laugh...

"Most users will use some form of anti-virus software, and that will be appropriate for their scenarios,"

...so let me get this right - MS are releasing a new version of their "OS" (I use the term in the loosest possible sense) and they are admitting that it contains exploitable security vulnerabilities that require the user to purchase additional software in order to make it viable for use in a networked environment?

....errr.... and people still buy this stuff??? errr... right!

By the way, that "ASLR" you talked of sounds somewhat like a very similar feature of OpenBSD, an OS that DOESN'T require the use of anti-visus / anti-spyware / anti-whatever software in order to use it effectively.


...And others to just rubbish the anti-virus industry...

I've used WFWG3.11, NT3.51, NT4.0, Win 95, Win 98 and Win XP at home and wife kids too since 1994 online. We never use AV products. We have never had a virus.

(Skeptics may ask how do I know? I check for extra processes, unusual disk or Internet activity, in the past via proxy server logs, also now we check occasionally with Silent Runners).

The AV industry is a scam. What is needed is education. Email servers that block any executable (like my home email server does) and Education. Things like double extension file names are likely evil. Or Zip files with VERY long spaces in name..

Anyone can dispense with adictive AV products that often give a false sense of security and often rdeuce reliability of PC.

They can do products that are effective and don't need updates but won't.

As an IT professional most of the PCs I have manually removed malware from actually had AV and/or Firewall products.

We don't use any firewall products on PC either. We used to use a Proxy and now use a NAT with very basic firewall. We never used Outlook or used default settings in email clients..

Using an EXTERNAL firewall in my experience stops about 90% of non-user click exploits. Switching off all un-needed services makes a big difference too.

I've also run IIS online with 1 DOS for 3 years up to 2004. Again combination of Firewall and removing all IIS services not needed.


A USwitch survey said punters are suffering in the broadband price war. And suffering you certainly are:

Sir,

When I read your piece on "free broadband" I did a double take at, "overall levels of satisfaction have sunk 9 per cent..." and went back to look for the missing "to" between "sunk" and "9".

Seeking to save myself a shedload of cash on my monthly broadband connection charges, I was recently persuaded to switch to the Orange "free broadband service". It wasn't really free, as I had to upgrade my mobile contract to get it, and it sure wasn't a service. After a fortnight of applying the "repair" option up to 60 times a day, of almost hourly re-booting, re-installing, spending huge amounts of time and cash on the Orange "helplines", I decided the "service" wasn't worth the pain any longer.

That's when I discovered Orange had taken over much of my registry, and it cost me over £50 to get their stuff off my laptop to allow me to revert to my full cost BB provider. "Free" broadband "service" from Orange"? They should be prosecuted under the trades description act.

George Edwards


Back to the Queen's speech, this time an analysis after the event, which some of you just didn't get:

Hi,

I have trouble understanding what your article is about.

The use of sarcasm and understatements makes it unintelligible to someone who isn't up to date with the story in the first place.

yours, Ferrie Bank


"This journalist thinks that's a fine example of the pot calling the kettle black", which is kinda funny in itself given how journalists have such a fine reputation for being trustworthy highly scrupulous!

(Meaning no disrespect to the fine articles produced by your goodself)

Hmmmm, this was the point...no?


Right, we're almost there. Let's finish with some fun stuff. And what's more fun than our good friend Bill accusing security rivals of trying to 'castrate' Vista?

Geldings (castrated male horses) are much better work horses than stallions. Far more manageable.

John,

perhaps Bill Gates believes that Defender and Kernel Protection are "the bollocks", i.e the bee's knees, of Vista.

I see a whole lot of punnery in the coming weeks over that one...

:)

Stefan

Punnery, as requested, to follow next week. Go nuts (sorry) and have a good weekend. ®