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On MS, GeCAD, lead hats and perlite

Oh, and X-rays, too

Letters We never get letters about the things we expect letters about. But even we lowly hacks had a feeling this one would prompt a response. After all, it had all the ingredients: Microsoft, Linux, viruses and behavious that could, in low light, seem slightly suspicious. Yes, we mean the purchase of GeCAD.

Dear Mr Leyden:

In your "Register" article of May 7th, 2004, referring to Microsoft's acquisition and non-use of a Romanian anti-virus software firm, you wrote: "Now where the hell did I put my tin-foil hat?"

Indeed. Microsoft Research is the roach hotel of computer science: researchers check in, but no papers ever come out. After seeing many previously prolific (Benjamin Zorn, Todd Probsting, Dan Hanson, the list is nearly endless) researchers disappear, one might almost believe that MSFT is just paying researchers to have fun, and never advance the art on purpose.

You did miss one piece of the puzzle: GeCAD produced *linux* anti-virus software, software that ran on linux looking for Windows viruses, allowing a linux server to provide the same virus protection that a native Windows server might.

Suppressing this aspect of GeCAD was probably more important than adding a MSFT anti-virus product to a DLL in the Next Version of Windows.

I remain your most humble servant, Bruce Ediger

If Microsoft bought GeCAD for any purpose other than to take a reportedly decent Linux security product and shoot it in the head, that purpose has not yet been seen.

"There are plenty of vendors to pick up the baton and we don't see this as a major concern," someone commented at the time.

Robert Carnegie

It might be interesting to dig a little deeper on this subject. In early March I was in a meeting where systems engineers from Microsoft were getting information on our IT needs and briefing us on some of their efforts/upcoming software. I can't really vouch for the accuracy of this, but they mentioned that on the AV software front-- unofficially and on the hush-hush --that the reason they had no product was that nobody at GeCAD spoke English, and MS had difficulty communicating with them. They suggested that MS did not know what to do with them. It sounded just dumb enough to be true.

-- J. Stine

Hey John, How come everybody seems to have forgotten the deal Microsoft signed with McAfee last year/year before last, where Microsoft will integrate McAfee's scan engine into "the next consumer OS from Microsoft"?

This means son of XP, right?

That may be yet another reason why GeCAD is stuck in limbo, as they try to figure out the legal stuff...


We've been trying to persuade people of the benefits of tin foil protective headgear, especially when considering situation that could result in paranoia (see above). Now it seems some boffins are taking note. Super-cooled lead hats anyone?

Hi Lucy, It's with great interest that I read the article today about the recent developments in tin-hat technology. However, I'm sure I'm not alone in being slightly concerned that such a super-cooled lead hat might a) be a little on the heavy side, and b) be a little chilly for the occupier. And will there be a "New Yorkers" emblazoned version which can be worn backwards, for the fashion conscious among us? Thanks Jon

Sounds like the perfect upgrade to the standard El Reg tinfoil hat. Suitable for the truely paranoid out there...

Mike Plunkett

The line between stalking and spam got a bit fuzzy for some of you this week.

Subject: Are we still talking about spam?

Dear Tim

Until reading your article "Stalkers target victims with email" I had no idea that I was actually the innocent victim of several corporate serial stalkers persistently wanting to offer me exciting opportunities to give them my hard earned cash.

It all makes sense now. My name must be getting passed around the stalking community. That would explain why the distant relatives of deposed African despots want to give me money or women who I don't know want me to see them nude. Somewhere out there my photo must adorn a special place on the wall of many a home.

It must be these people who are trying to win my affections from afar by arranging me excellent rates on pre-approved credit or are concerned with my health and want me to use only wholesome herbal remedies

I shudder to think why they would be so insistent on me requiring so much Viagra but I can assure them that I have no need for such a product or all its "fully licenced" generic alternatives

Furthermore it must be them who phone me at home on an evening and well into the night and ask lots of personal questions and my opinions on consumer goods and services or just ring me and then remain silent. It must be their desire to remain anonymous that inspires them to use such a ridiculous Indian accent; after all they say they are calling from British companies, why would they be calling from India?

Thank you so much for highlighting this very serious dilemma, I'm sure I am not the only one to suffer in silence

Paul C. Hartley

News that the UK's NHS is going to have digital X-Rays and will soon be able to share them electronically drew a mixed bag of letters. Seems that even when something seems like a good idea, it is hard to win people over:

As a doctor that used a pacs system (siemens + others) for the last 2 years i've got a few comments about the technology.

1) files on a computer are much more easily lost than physical objects so we lost up to 0.5% of x-rays taken before they could be reviewed by radiologists. May not seem a huge percentage but causes a *huge* medicolegal problem, unless u ignore it (as per standard operating procedures for the NHS)

2) the resolution of the pacs plates hasn't reached anywhere near that of the silver nitrate plates yet (and won't for quite a while yet). the general synopsis of my colleagues being that image quality was very poor. add to that the software interpolation causing possible fractures to disappear in front of your eyes as it smoothes everything out and u have a very second rate service.

3) as noone in the NHS IT seems to either know or care about security then patients images whizzing around by email may not be the best thing for confidentiality however chances are that the image will have auto-magically been erased before it crosses any gateways.

4) when will government realise that making a cost saving on getting rid of x-ray storage facilities is not worth the *MASSIVE* problems, decreased quality and the stunted functionality that comes with the PACS system.

Once again a case of poorly thought out tech for the sake of cost cutting which will backfire at huge expense. so situation normal for the NHS.

BTW has anyone else noticed the similarities between current government spending on NHS IT and the frenzied spending just prior to the dotcom bubble bursting?

Mike Simpson (Dr)

So, not a big hit with doctors, but the patients seem to like it:


I broke my foot this time last year and had experience of the system (maybe it was a trial?). What an Improvement. My X-ray was taken and by the time I got back from the X-ray department to the triage nurse my X-ray was on an ultra high res screen. As my foot was too swollen to be put in a cast I was asked to come back the next day to receive further treatment. When I arrived the doctor who was seeing me brought the image up on his screen from the database and made his decision on what treatment I’d receive. I only spent about an hour and 45 minutes in the hospital over the two visits. Including the initial 15 minute wait to be seen.

If this is the healthcare of the future then I’m all for it.



An offer we couldn't understand, let alone refuse, for reasonably priced Perlite caught our eye this week. But what is this mystery substance, and were they trying to sell it to us, or serenade us?

Subject: Re: Getting Perlite onto The Register

Everybody knows that the best use for Perlite is in making rice cakes to grow magic mushrooms on. Now if only there was a good way to tie that into an IT story...

David Burton

i don't know what else it would be used for, but in herpetology it is used for incubating reptile eggs.



Just read (with mirth) the article on the chinese spam for pe[a]rlite. It appears to be a product of our old friend, BabelFish - That is, badly translated at best. Might I suggest the following translation:

>It is a pearlite goods factory of Hebei province of China We are a factory in Hebei, China that produces Pearlite.

>, the main variety that the speciality produces: Our main product is:

>Pearl mere sands, pearlite( 2. 5 mm-7mm) Pure pearl crystals, forming pearlite of 2.5mm-7mm size <-- thats gotta be b*ll*cks

>it regulate explosives densities It becomes bigger

>because pharmaceutical( hate pearlite water), hate water keep pearlites warm board of because the substance reacts with hot water, which softens it.

>, The cement pearlite keeps the board warm, the pearlite is helped and strain the pharmaceutical. Solid perlite forms at a bigger size, and the hot water is drained from around it.

>The price is favourable , welcome old and new customers to consult the business, but process and made according to different needs, The price is reasonable (b*ll*cks), old and new customers are welcome to call us and enquires, but those with greater need will be served first.

> Hope to cooperate with you! I learned from a Nigerian called Mariam Abacha.

Don't know how correct that is, but that's my interpretation of it.

-- Richard Gellman

We'll accept that explanation. Full marks. We still don't really want to buy any, though. But thanks. ®

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