Enraged readers pile into Reg hacks

Regarding what? Take your pick...

Letters The theme of this week's mailbag is definitely anger. Not all the letters below are from people with steam coming out of their ears, but quite a few are... As we have come to expect, the writings of Vance and Haines especially seem to have hit a special spot with the easily riled. Yes, we are talking about Segways. Again.

Ashlee Vance,

Although you seem to be focused on the joy of making verbal jabs about Segways users and seeing the rise you get out them, someone must know that you are on thin ice. A close reading reveals your words to be carefully crafted (or edited) to keep you in the clear regarding the criminal activity you refer to.

Your goading of idiots and sociopaths interests me both because I am disabled and use my Segway as an assistive mobility device, and, because I was attacked and injured by someone who was apparently inspired by the very kind of ìthinkingî you are promoting.

Give it further consideration, Ashlee. Who are attackers more likely to target? A group of strong young men? Or, an older disabled woman? And, even though disabled folks make easy targets, physical violence is something that no one should have to endure.

To respond to your reference to hate crimes - "We're checking on Segway hate-crime legislation" - when that "taunting" interferes with exercising civil rights granted under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is a problem.

I understand that your column is being published from the UK. No need to taunt me about geography. If your editors are permanently located in the UK, no skin off their noses regarding the ADA. (Although, I imagine ìpwd-bashingî to be frowned upon in the UK, tooÖ)

If you would like to discuss this further, get in touch.

Emily Wilcox

p.s. As a reporter, you will probably want to check on the hate crime issue. A good place to start is by searching ADA regulations for the keywords "threatening, intimidating, or interfering".

Readers who would like to add their two bits' worth to the Ashlee Vance debate can participate in our Ashlee Vance poll. Among the burning questions to be answered are what gender Ashlee is, whether he/she can write for toffee and to which Canadian rock outfit he/she plays air guitar. Rock on!

The next one is truly strange. We ran a humourous aside about the possibility that the crash of the computer system controlling Gloria Estefan's live show was down to the all-too-probable scenario that the machine became self-aware and developed an immediate IT-related preference for Rush.

This is what we got back:

You demonstrate what a biggot and general asshole you are in this article. What have you got against the Latina sound of Ms. Estefan? Well, it sounds like what you have against her is that she is not an inbread white m*therf*cker like you.

Now please go stick your head in a bucket.

John Haynes

Goodness. Technology has progressed beyond our wildest imaginings. It is, apparently, now possible to infer the colour of a person's skin from their typing. You heard it here first, kids.

Lester says he is particularly pleased to be called an inbread biggot.

But we don't feel too bad: we got this from another reader:

That article was mean-spirited, derogatory toward pop icons, and frightfully clever. Keep up the good work.


Continuing with the theme of ire, see the following which we received in reponse to our coverage of the X-Box murders in Florida:

Dear Sirs: The propagandist, Ashlee Vance, who parented your story on the murder of six individuals in Florida is typical of the vitreolic reporters that "The Register" deploys for reporting of U.S. events.

Even such a tragic story as the murder of six innocent people draws the narrow-mindedness of your tabloid towards debasing America. The story, entitled "Stolen Xbox blamed as motive for mass murder", offers no reason why law officials in Deltona, Florida would; "...struggle(d) to come up with a motive..." (2nd paragraph) or "...have offered up no better cause than...." (first paragraph) for this terrible crime. The vim of your story is to debase local authorities, rather than pronouce the terrible nature of , and report on, the crime.

An outside observer, upon reading the account, would have to assume that the criminals were the police officials charged with arresting the criminals, not the four men who beat six people to death with baseball bats.

Your bias is transparent and your partiality is complete. Perhaps a simile... "The Register", London, August 29, 1940: "Attempting to explain the more than 500 lives lost in London this month, the Birtish Prime Minister came up with no better cause than '...the unjust terms of the Treaty of Versailles' as reason for thousands of lives lost in Europe since Germany began it's 'Blitz' in 1939.

Prime Minister Chuchill's feeble excuses claim that Hitler, in his best-seller (sic), "Mein Kampf", claimed that "Britain and France '...stole the German spirit.' when it sentenced Germany to the unreasonable terms of the Treaty...".

After speaking with Hitler, Churchill stated that his 'hunch' was that Hitler was "...simply a bully bent on world domination...". ...does this tone sound familiar?

With a name like Ashlee (is that two E's or Three?) he/she (?) HAS to be a great reporter.

Best Regards and Have a Good Day, Dan Roehm Melbourne, Florida

Erm, right. Well, Ashlee wasn't actually having a go at the police in the article, but given what happened next, this may have been an oversight...

A small interlude of sanity. Give you all time to catch your breath.

News that the UK is awash with pre-pubescant pirates has not surprised many of you. Plenty of mail on this one, but the following are the most coherent of the lot:

Ok emailing this to the Register is like preaching to the choir but here we go anyway:

Maybe the surveys should ask WHY people feel that piracy is not much of a crime?

Maybe its because they feel the far greater crime is being commited by the record lables themselves, with falling manufactoring costs, lesser portions going to artists the margin on the ever price increasing CDs is going to label fat cats and their shareholders.

If you start off by ripping off and stealing from your customers how else do you expect them to respond - you trained them yourself.

Drop CDs to a sensible price Give a better share to the artists involved Stop trying to curtail fair use and cease crippling CDs with copy protection that has no real effect on piracy and is simply an annoyance to the rest of us.

And most importantly stop asuming everyone in the world is a criminal and a pirate until proven innocent (or settled out of court)

Here's hoping they eventually get a clue - however thats probably going to happen shortly after flights to the RIAA board meeting is provided by Swine Air


"...they would be put off buying counterfeit goods if they knew that the money was going to fund money launderers, drug smugglers or human traffickers."

I've been put off buying genuine music CDs - virtually completely - because I'm afraid that some small portion of the money might be going to fund the RIAA. My opinion of them isn't much different than those other 'career choices' listed in the article. Their PR certainly isn't much better. We used to buy a lot of music CDs (we've got hundreds), and we would like to buy some more, but not in the present climate.

It's basically a personal boycott of the whole damn industry. And I will NEVER purchase a music CDs with any form of copy protection.

Regards, Jeffy

Ready for some more silliness? Good. This is more common or garden variety silliness though, nothing too strenuous.

It's about that Wi-Fi aerial gun:

I know you only said it's "like" an M-16, but you've given half the internet the wrong impression, and I feel it's only fair to be specific. The rifle stock they used is from a Ruger Mini-14 Also, there's a write-up and a video of the project on Tom's Hardware here.


P.S. A Mini-14 is about as much a sniper rifle as my farts are a Weapon of Mass Destruction. They may bear a passing resemblance, but they are not in any way the same thing.

Someone commented that the WiFi Sniper Rifle is likely to get you thrown in jail. I consider that an optimistic outcome. If you're seen on a rooftop or street with it these days, you're likely to get shot.


Hello Sir, Where can I get the plans for the basic model? Are they for sell yet? I made something similar once using a mossberg shot-gun stock and a 4x12 tasco scope with a hi-gain 2GHZ yagi I had as a spare part.

In a previous life I worked in MIlitary Intelligence and had access to toys like that from a "professional aspect" so I could never use one for real unless it was to "test a theory" . Having the previous knowledge I do of how this technology works, and can be used to gain intelligence surrepititously, would make me one of those people the government would say, "you know better than to do that and why". However, I have never been able to get the electronic bug out of my system.

I used to make wireless cameras and telephone bugs and wire tap equipment just to test it out and try new theories on the use and deployment of such equipment. Placing a certain type of radio transmitter near certain objects can enhance or degrade the signal and its operaional aspects. Just wanted to say thanks for the article and letting people know what is out there and how people can use it for good and evil:-)


Bill Branson

More wholesome, and wholesale, daftness thanks to the purpose the Japanese have given the Daleks:

I found this after responding to your article Japanese boffins build Dalek-style robot guards this morning:


The above link will lead you to a Chicago suburban newspaper story about Fermi Lab (government sub-atomic particle research lab 35 miles due west of Chicago). Scroll down about halfway until you get to the bit about the moving fire hydrants. This is strangely similar to the stories of robot guards and robot traffic barriers. I live near Fermi, and drive by it every day. I've seen deer, buffalo, and other wildlife, but no skulking robots. Just the same, the 12 gauge is loaded, and ready to repel boarders. (Get out the tinfoil hats....)

Thanks for all the chuckles, I'll have a pint (or two) for you.... Cheers, John

PS: Send Ashlee out to do some investigation...a trip out of the Windy City is good for the soul.

If only the Japanese boffins could improve their robots' speed, to say, 10mph.

Then we could put them to good use chasing those Segway gimps across America.


Hello mate.

I was interested in your robot x story so did a search for the beast and found this.

Perhaps if they painted it silver grey and put a couple of morris minor indicators on its head? ;-)


I'm guessing these robots are worth a fair bob. Who's guarding them?


Get out the 12 gauge and hand me that box of double ought buck. I'll blast the varmints. Demonically possessed appliances, robotic traffic barriers, cyberloos, Segways, and now robot guards, have the techno-science nimrods lost their minds? Hmmm...WTF, just more targets to shoot. Better than skeet. Off to the gun shop to stock up on ammo....

Cheers, John

The recent emergence of porno blog spam is, as ever with spam, just the teeniest tiniest tip of the iceberg:

That's been happening in Guestbooks (especially on the big guestbook-provider sites) for yonks!

Usually in the form of "Hey, Nice site - check out mine!" - I should think the ratio of postings>clicks is a hell of a lot higher than that of email-spam.

I'm waiting for an IM-spamming-bot that talks to you, that'd be quite fun! Steve

Good article but have you looked at Refer spam ? Lots of bloggers are using Refer scripts such as Dean Allen's "Refer 2.x" to see which other bloggers are linking to them but for a while now spammers have been "Refer Spamming" to blogs and other websites so that people will unwittingly go to the spammer's site thinking that a kind fellow blogger has linked them. Dean Allen also has his own little write up on Refer spammers deliberatly targetting installations of his script.


More spam, but this time about AOL's Mailblocks:

Oh no, please tell me this is a joke - challenge/response antispam systems are badly thought out and a complete PITA for anyone sending legitimate mail. The number of times I post to a mailing list and get a collection of challenges from various members of the mailing list...

I am *not* going to bother to authenticate myself to all the members of a mailing list I'm posting to - I have taken to telling SpamAssassin that the challenges are spam and happilly it now filters most of them so I don't have to bother with them - if people insist on implementing such broken antispam ideas they just plain won't be getting any email from me.

Not to mention that when someone gets joe-jobbed, in addition to all the usual bounces and complaints they're now going to be swamped with challenges. This idea is as badly thought out as all the virus scanners sending error messages back to the spoofed sender addresses when they see a virussed email.


Hi John, did anybody hit those challenge guys with the clue by four ? probably too hard: the cahllenge-thingie won't work with spam now being thrust out by compromised machines spoofing sender adresses. So any trusted member of the mailblock possee will get their almost usual dose of daily shopping suggestions....

nice idea, but.


Lastly, we knew someone would write in about this. Cultural incompatibilities still abound between our two nations:

Interesting story ! But WHY, oh WHY would someone name their company Vogon International ???? [Yes, a bunch of slugs, no doubt !]

Thanks for all your good work ! [Or is this a joke that I'm not caught up on ?]


No, no joke. It just doesn't mean the same stateside as is does here. ®

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