Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/12/letters_1201/

Gay sheep face neutral net censorship plot

iPhone, uPhone, we all phone together

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Letters, 12th January 2007 16:14 GMT

Letters It would be wrong to run letters without some kind of reference to that new phone thingey some company or other launched this week. As soon as Apple debuted the iPhone, Cisco unleashed the legal hounds to hunt down and retrieve a the name. To help Apple out, you thought up some alternative names for the handset. And told us why you love to love and hate it, all at the same time:

After a short discussion in the office, we decided it's not going to be a problem in the UK, if Apple are ok on choosing a different name...

The iDog&Bone!

or for ultimate cool and sexual innuendo conatations, just have

The iBone

Regards

JASR + Co


I can't understand the hype surrounding the iPhone?  I own an MDA Vario from T-Mobile and as far as I can tell it does everything the iPhone is meant to do and more. 

Sure its not as pretty but I bet it will be a shit load cheaper (£40 on a £15 a month contract).  I jammed a 2GB mini sd in it and have hours worth of porn and music, and that doesn't require any extra software. 

Just put the sd card in my computer, copy and paste and I'm done.  Plus when I'm bored in work I can play worms, and even a SNES emulator.  Now will the iPhone let me do that?!

Simon


> it does nothing my Nokia N93 can't do already...

Indeed, the N93 has a couple of extra tricks up its sleeve, including FM, a 3MP camera with a 3X optical zoom, and a few others.

But the N93 is a third heavier, over twice the size, offers half the viewable area (at a similar pixel density), requires you to spend another $100 or more to get 4GB of mini-SD memory and STILL lists, in a quick Google check, for $200 or so MORE than the iPhone, in an unlocked version.

So the iPhone will go places the N93 won't, be a few hundred dollars cheaper, offer features (such as usable? virtual keyboard, widgets etc) and usability that will appeal to millions of people, which the N93 never will.

There ARE still question marks such as ability to load 3rd-party scripts, widgets or apps, the usability of the virtual keyboard for real typing, etc. But I think that the iPhone qualifies as a first-class "paradigm shift" of a phone, rather than a pretty but troublesome toy. Why the petulance?

Walt


Even linking to copyrighted documents is now frowned upon by legal types. Not sure we can get our brains 'round that one, but there you go:

It doesn't even matter about free speech here: the public right to know this is IMMENSELY higher than the "right" copyright grants the "owner" of these documents.

The judge may be steering things in a bad direction: if the public are shown in a case like this that it is either

a) keep copyrights and you cannot know DAMN IMPORTANT stuff like this because copyrights say they belong to Eli and they can refuse to let you read them

or

b) drop copyrights and you will be allowed to read information that you NEED TO KNOW then they could decide that copyrights aren't wanted any more and refuse to have them. If the judge rules that the public's need to know copyrighted information trumps copyright then there will be fewer people needing to abolish them.

Mark


AT&T goes nettily neutral. You are not impressed:

As usual activists drink quite a bit more than they can handle when the slightest glimmer of hope shows itself. I'm all for Net Neutrality, but to hail AT&Ts reversal as a capitulation might be a tad premature. It is a setback for AT&T, but as Arnie said, they'll be back.

And as for the pompous "once and for all" line, please don't make me choke on my milk.

As long as there is no law, the issue is certainly not put to rest. And even if a law is passed, big money is on the balance and will try again, someday, somehow. This issue is far from closed, guys. Don't hang up your hat just yet.

Pascal.


Some concerns about the safety of voting electronic voting systems left to run on Windows kit:

No weakness is potential when it runs on Windows XP. When that is the case you have a bonafide liability.

Why would any organisation entrust the fabric of democracy itself [it does sound heavy, doesn't it?] to a system with a proven track record of devastating security failures? This sort of sensitive job should be given to the open source community to make sure there was no tampering. Actually: the Windows XP EULA says so itself: do not use this software in a mission critical environment like airplanes and nuclear power plants.

Defending the foundation of civil society should not be entrusted to a system that is equipped with insultingly weak defenses.

Hint: the best way is still to give the voter one ballot and a red pencil to make the vote. Eyeballs from all political fractions then have to look at the validity of the vote and tally the votes as they pass the box. It's easy albeit a tad time consuming. But you never have to worry whether someone tampered with the code. Democracy is too precious to give it to mere machines to decide. The current example in the US demonstrates quite adequately the abomination that ensues when the terminally unfit are given power over vast armies. It should be made into an allegorical lesson for humanity.

Compulsory vote paper ballot red pencil human eyeballs

There's your democracy right there.

Jorge


Got to love the taser, now that you can pick one up for less than the cost of a new shiny iPhone. Or at least, one reader thinks so:

If 220 people have indeed died from being Tasered by police, perhaps one should consider the alternative. I wonder, in that same period of time, how many people died of police beatings that could have been foregone if a Taser had been available.

On Taser's website the estimate that they have been used about half a million times. How many deaths do you think would be caused by half a million beatings?

Honestly if you resist arrest, guilty or otherwise, you should be well aware of the risks, particularly if you have a pacemaker. I think I'd rather be tasered than clubbed. Tasers don't leave marks.

Clayton

Someone told the W particle to lighten up. So it did, with implications for the elusive God particle. Heavy, man:

So the W particle has less mass than previously thought. I believe the loss occurred in the area of the gray matter.

Ross


A couple of years ago I went to an engineering forum focusing on FPGAs. Various people stood up and gave presentations on what they'd done with FPGAs, and these all had an air of being very proud of the fact they could handle gbytes/s, do quite a lot of sums, etc. etc. The last speaker was from CERN. He had a well deserved smugness given that where others had spoken of gbytes, he was talking terabytes, and where others used maybe 3 FPGAs, they were using thousands. There wasn't a category in FPGA top trumps that this system didn't win by many, many orders of magnitude.

The most impressive thing was the clock source. Most systems use a humble crystal oscillator soldered down in the corner of the board. This CERN system used a laser, a big one, for its clock and put a large amount of optical power down a big bundle of fiber optics to distribute the clock over the entire 27km long machine. It must count as the world's largest ever piece of synchronous electronics by a margin of several kilometers. Of course, given CERN's brilliant track record of turning their advances into something we all have in our homes, I expect to set one up in my back garden before the London olympics.

Cheers,

Matthew


Sod the potential risk of LEDs on roads prompting epileptic fits, you cry, what about the risk of letting people prone to such seizures behind the wheel:

I ask, should a person who is that sensitive and suffers from epilepsy really be allowed to drive on a road in a car at speeds up to 70MPH? Epileptic seizures can be caused by many thinigs, including nothing at all, and flashing lights.

On the roads there are possibly more flashing lights that anywhere else. Will we next investigate police, ambulance and fire engine lights, vehicle indicators, flashing bicycle rear lights, change the central reservation crash barriers so that they are solid and can't cause car's lights on the other side of the motorway to flash as they pass behind them, tunnel lights should now be ambient offering an overall lighting affect similar to your office so that as you drive through you do not experience that regular flash of light as your car passes under... the list goes on. If you are sensitive to strobing or flashing lights and know that you suffer from epilepsy, you should question whether you are safe on the roads - especially at night. I'd rather have high quality clearly visible cats eyes that epileptic drivers on the roads. Will my concerns be listened to by the highways agency and this nanny state that we live in?

Stuart


That's very interesting. I've been in correspondence with the Vehicle Certification Agency for nearly a year and a half on a similar issue - LED tail lights in new Peugeots (and more and more other cars recently).

These tail lights can disturb my vision very significantly as they seem to be set at a very low refresh rate. I have to admit that I'm pretty sensitive to flickering as I find it completely impossible to bear a monitor set at 60Hz while colleagues seem quite happy, so probably 95% of people wouldn't have a problem with these lights but that's a poor excuse for lax testing from the manufacturers.

So far, I've had very positive words from the VCA but no action has been taken and more and more of these devices are entering the roads.

Quite why an LCD array attached to a large battery and powerful alternator even _needs_ to flash is beyond me. I thought this was a power saving technique but there's surely no shortage of power on board a car? As usual, the car lobby sets the rules.

Jon


We used to have LED cat's eyes on the A590 leading into Barrow-in-Furness (of recent Thorntons fame) - until the local boy racers started using them to drive with their lights off, and regulalry exiting the highway via the nearest hedge.


Are epileptics even allowed to drive cars? Surely a fit (in this woman) could easily be triggered by headlights through crash railing posts or sunlight through evenly-spaced trees' trunks at the roadside ??

I'm not epileptic and I know how disconcerting and distracting pulsing light like this can be whilst driving. If this woman 'narrowly avoided a seizure' then surely her medication should be reviewed and she should stay away from flourescent lighting, nightclubs and TV's too?

However, I'm not a neurological consultant, what do I know.

Guy


This is either very unfortunate or complete scaremongering.

The peak sensitivity to flashing lights in photosensitive epilepsy is about 4 to 30Hz, way below the 100Hz produced by the LED cat's eyes. People who would be sensitive to 100Hz flashing lights would also be very sensitive to television and pretty much any form of artificial lighting as they operate at similar frequencies (50-100Hz) and this is quite rare.

They would be more at risk from the flashing effect produced from the sun shining between buildings and trees as they drive than this, so how has one anecdotal account of a "narrowly avoided seizure" stopped the installation of something that may well save many lives and serious injuries?

Martin


And it would be a shame to ignore the many (many) missives we have recieved on the subject of the moral rightness/wrongness of 'curing' a ram of homosexuality:

Good article, but ignores the simple fact that the more homosexuals there are, the better for others to pass on their genes. For that reason, homophobia is stupid. Curing homosexual sheep might be OK from a farmer's perspective, but to cure a person means that people like myself would have a smaller pool of women to choose from.

John


This rehash of the Murdock (Times) sensationalization of an absurdly inaccurate PETA press release is crap. These guys have the clearly demonstrated the biological (not choice, not genetics) basis of sexual preference and have been hounded by the right wing homophobes for years because they undercut the rational for homophobia. Now the wack jobs at PETA, who care more about sheep than people, con Navrtalova into buying into their bullshit and pronouncing these folks sheep raping homophobes!! If it wasn't so dangerous and damaging, I'd laugh. Shame on you

The Bob


"The purpose behind these experiments is to "improve the productivity of herds" since "approximately one ram in 10 prefers to mount other rams rather than mate with ewes"."

Fair enough, because a gay ram is basically useless to a farmer. These days mutton, meat from a mature sheep, is virtually unseen in the butcher's shop or supermarket. The lamb we eat is from immature stock. Thus by the time a farmer discovers that his ram is homosexual it has a market value of nil if it isn't good breeding stock. Once "outed", the ram in question is quite likely to make an unceremonious exit from the world, with rearing costs written off by the farmer.

What will this new knowledge do for the farmer? Well that depends on the nature of ovine homosexuality, doesn't it? If it's genetic, artificially "straightening" the ram will bypass natural selection (which clearly favours the hetrosexual sheep), and the farmer is left with an even gayer herd who will need artificial "straightening" at cost to him (and profit to the biomedical industry). If homosexuality is environmental then this isn't a problem, but in the absence of any definitive answer to this question would any farmer want to risk devaluing his stock in this way?

So far, so controversial.

But what of the objections highlighted in the article?

To describe the expirement as "homophobic" strikes me as exceptionally short-sighted. Most rational people find it easier to reconcile themselves with a phenomenon for which there is an explanation than one for which there isn't -- this is one of the key principles of the modern scientific method. The discovery of the physiological mechanisms behind homosexuality would provide firm evidence that it is not a psychological illness, as some would claim.

But here's the most controversial point of all: in this age of choice, what of the numerous gay people today seeking a "cure"? Tatchell openly stands up for the rights of an individual to choose to have a sex-change operation to make their physical form match their internal sexuality, yet here he seeks to deny them the analogous right to choose to have their internal sexuality realigned to match their physical form. To me, that is nothing more than hypocrisy.

Anon


And finally, how do you like your internet access censored? By people who you know exist, or by a group of unappointed, unaccountable shadowy figures?

Ah, the infamous letter banning 133 newsgroups in the UK. Including a large number of gay and adult groups that could not be seen to have anything to do with child pornography. Yet, when pressed on this censorship of adult and gay material Stephen French would not comment. Why? Well, just look at the content of the letter where he states that this is just the beginning and mentions 'obscene' material. I switched ISPs at the time because Nildram immediately dropped all the gay newsgroups mentioned and when I asked why Adrian Mardlin said it was 'Easier to comply'. I suppose gay customers could just go to hell then? It's always easier to comply than to protect somebody's free speech and rights of association.

Andy


You write "[...] issues such as the IWF's accountability and the Home Office's desire for universal content blocking excite some controversy." No kidding! Adrian Mitchell of AAISP gets it entirely right when he says [...] "I can't see how any of the technical measures will stop one child from being abused – but it can provide a mechanism by which government can block content. It can expand as big as it likes once it's in place."

Vernon Coaker is already pushing the Government's plans to create a Thought Crime making it a criminal offence, punishable by three years in jail, simply to *possess* "extreme pornography" (something which seems to be defined according to what Mr Coaker doesn't like) just in case we might go out and do something nasty after viewing it, and he wants to block access to websites that host it.

This law will set an extremely dangerous precedent whereby the Nanny State can decide that "This isn't good for you" and forbid access (or threaten jail) for anyone who dares disagree. This is the sort of thing that China, Saudi Arabia and Iran (amongst others) are doing, should we really try to join such august company?

There is a petition on the Number 10 Downing Street website where people can sign up to object against these proposals at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Violent-Porn/ and more information about the "Dangerous Pictures Act" can be found at http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/ Cheers, Graham.


I am the Systems Architect for quite a large UK ISP. We implemented IWC content blocking for the grand sum of £800 plus about 4 days work for one person. It really is quite easy to implement using the open source Squid proxy server and a bit of thought.

The 800 quid was for a cheap DELL server. If we wanted to scale the solution up, we simply add more servers. Currently, we are at about 1-2% utilisation of the current server, because of the clever way in which we filter only traffic we know needs to be filtered. It's no big cost at all..

-- Leigh


" He [Robbins] adds: "I'm against censorship. I don't see us as a censorship body. We deal with illegal content and get it taken down where we can."

Sounds like spin to me.Defining content as illegal (rightly or wrongly) is surely censorship of that content. Therefore what they are doing is to implement that censorship. It looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. Mr Robbins, you have a member of the anatidae family...

Jim


That's all folks, enjoy the weekend. ®