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Readers love mobiles in church; hate mobiles on planes

More from the Reg postbag

Letters Mobile phone etiquette dominates the letters bag today; from Mexican churches that have moved to jam phone signals, to a company that wants to enable mobile phone use on planes. Neither idea is particularly popular with readers of El Reg:

Nice idea - until passers-by can't get a signal because the jamming spills out of the church. Or until someone suffers a heart attack and no-one can call an ambulance. Or until hotels get these to try force you to use the hotel phone (priced to make a heroin habit seem cheap).

Thank God that in this rather more civilised country people who jam mobile phone signals will go to jail.


Quote: "Those readers who have ever sat in the quiet carriage of the Heathrow Express angrily eyeing the "please turn off your phone" sign while suits shout into their 3G handsets regardless"

You mean you don't just walk over to them and 1. Point at the no mobile signs 2. Tell them only semi politely to not talk on the phone in that car 3. Rip the phone out of their hands with a grin that tells them exactly where the phone will be inserted next if they decide to argue or dare to redial.




Short, sweet, and to the point.

Next, and the biggest pile by far, are the letters responding to the idea of allowing mobile phones on planes. :

Hi John, I couldn't help but notice that the article re mobiles on planes, says that "Telenor put out a survey showing that almost nearly half of the 1,200 people questioned would prefer to travel on airlines which allow mobile phone use."

Does this not translate into 'Over half of the 1200 people questioned would prefer not to be pestered by people nattering away on the ruddy phone while they are trying to sleep'? Prehaps the survey should have included both sides of the coin? Jon A

It seems that ARINC is now saying that mobile phone use on planes is not likely to lead to death and destruction. Given this, I wonder if all those people in the UK convicted of "endangering the safety of an aircraft" by using their phones will have their convictions overturned? Ken

"By enormous coincidence late last week Arinc and Telenor put out a survey showing that almost nearly half of the 1,200 people questioned would prefer to travel on airlines which allow mobile phone use." Well, that was bloody silly survey for them to put out, wasn't it?

Imagine we currently have Airline X and Airline Y; they're absolutely identical in every way and have 50% of the market each, accordingly.

Airline X spends untold millions on this shiny new mobile phone inflight service. Airline Y spends nothing and still doesn't let you use your mobile phone.

Airline X is, according to the survey, therefore now preferred by "almost half" of the market. It thus follows that Airline Y is preferred by "a little more than half" of the market.

Result? Airline X has spent untold millions and lost market share. It carries on making similar business decisions and rapidly goes down the shitter. Airline Y lives happily ever after...

Adam W

The flip side of the research being that over half of the 1200 people questioned would rather travel on planes that didn't allow mobile phones... Stuart

Hi, John,

One of my mates is head of In-Flight Services at a certain popular airline that had in-flight phones in 1994. The subsidised charge was USD10 per minute at the time.

He once showed me a usage graph and 99% of calls lasted less than two minutes. This big peak then dropped until it reached about 25 minutes and then it spiked again. The 25 minute plus calls were generally by execs that were usually making business deals that more than covered the charge.

The two minute calls were made by people who called their friends and did the HELLO...I'M ON A PLANE...YES...A PLANE!! thing but didn't hang up before the first minute was reached. I think he said these calls usually lasted one minute and five seconds...

Kindest regards, The Mahatma.

"The system is cheaper than other products because it uses the satellite system the plane already carries rather than providing its own."

Er, is this a spare satellite system that all planes happen to have or is this the one that the plane's systems use for communication, navigation, etc. and interface with even more important systems that keep the big planey thing up in the big bluey thing?

Sharing critical system resources so that people don't get bored - interesting. I also like the statement "technical problems have been solved", well that makes you feel better, a technology company telling you that they have got rid of all the problems that might cause any system craches (sorry couldn't resist).

I think I will be buying tickets for planes with the expensive telephone option. Chris

Is it just me (as an aircraft engineer) that thinks that if a plane's navigation system is so sensitive to interference from mobile phones I'd rather not be on that plane..... Rob

yeah. weeee. how wonderful. You nailed it with the title.

Meetings, theaters, lectures, restaraunts, subways, and now flights. At least in my own home and car I can make people shut them off. Disgusting.

Its tempting to go back to writing and posting paper letters just to force my little slice of the world to be quiet.


"survey showing that almost nearly half of the 1,200 people questioned would prefer to travel on airlines which allow mobile phone use"

So that would be a minority, then? There's a world of difference between people being able to make a phone call from somewhere on the plane, and the person sitting next to you exposing you to "secondary telephone conversation"

(see "secondary smoking") at close range. As your headline succinctly demonstrates. James

Nooo! Please no!! Get someone to kill this off ASAP! Can't we have at least one place free from mobile phones?! What could possibly be worse than constantly ringing mobiles on a 6,7,8...12 hour plane flight?!

"Arinc and Telenor put out a survey showing that almost nearly half of the 1,200 people questioned would prefer to travel on airlines which allow mobile phone use". So MOST people would prefer to travel on an airline that does NOT allow mobile phone use then. My visceral loathing of marketing departments continues to grow unabated. Yours, Jonathan Keith

Is it just me or is having mobile phones working on aircraft a terrifying thing, and not just because of appalling ring tones ?

My main issue is the terrorist threat, look at the Madrid train bombings which were detonated via mobile phone. Ok, there are loads of other ways of blowing up a plane (recent suicide bombers in Russia are an illustration) but the mobile phone method is better than a timer since you can visually make sure a plane is airborne before detonation, rather than sat on a taxi- way, and you don't have to kill yourself either !


We published an interview with Professor Wendy Hall, in which she spoke about why she thinks there are so few women working in IT, and what an be done to even things out a bit. She also outlined her thoughts on how the computer business is going to change over the next ten years, and how that change will need input some of the more traditionally 'female' subject areas, like psychology or sociology.

Quote: But in the mid-eighties, the personal computer arrived, and with that, the culture changed beyond recognition.

"It became about playing and coding war games,"

Puuulleeeaaseee. Having been raised with pesonal computers in the '80s it had nothing to do with playing/coding war games. I played King's Quest and other adventure games all through the 80's, and other classics like Q-Bert, and doing "artsie" Logo creations on my TI-99/4A. None of the "war games" really started till the early 90's when Doom made such a huge splash, and the "war games" were made popular because it was the guys who were interested in computers. Does anyone remeber Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

I rest my case.


Just a couple of minor points;

Evolution is not a biological process, but is more closely related to mathematics in terms that it's a method of hunting for 'fitness' using semi-random changes. Beyond a couple of extremely specific mechanisms for biological organisms to endure minor mutation, there isn't a whole lot in the biology A-level that would benefit anyone moving into computers these days, 'evolution' notwithstanding.

"It became about playing and coding war games," she explains. "This really turned women off the subject, and we've never really recovered."

Women in general are being turned off pure science & engineering subjects across the board, let alone computer science. This has _nothing_ to do with coding or playing wargames, and it's disingenous to suggest that, given the absolutely enormous field that the professor is alledgedly part of. There was some interesting abstract work into Fractals that may have been missed, it being a bit of 'blip' on the computer sciences horizon.

I still don't quite understand this politically correct ideal that the spread of males and females within a given industry should be 50/50. People choose their careers on both desire, and one would hope, talent. The only time when careers should become the target of this kind of enquiry is when there are vast fractures between the amount earned by men and women in the same jobs. The publicity that surrounds this is what causes the majority of career choice, rather than the popular stereotypes as reinforced by the good Professor.

"Anyone transported from 1994 to the present day would probably be surprised by what they would find here."

Not really. In 1994 I was watching the Shoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter and thinking that this was the future on mosaic using a 2400 gandalf modem. In 1992 I was using the X.25 Janet network which linked universities. The exact technologies used may be quite novel, but we're still shifting characters around on links, and very little has actually changed. In fact, we've shifted backwards to concepts like google when the Gopher network was actually a lot more interesting, decentralised and largely evolutionary.


Why is it than all things good in this world are created or will be created by women? The article also seems to assume that all the men out there who happen to work IT just love war games and the pathetic user interfaces we currently have to work with! Two very poor assumptions! Mind you (prof?) Hall does at least seem to concede that men will have to 'bring' the technology to the level the women want to play with it too.

Every Semblance of Evil and General Badness

I believe a more fundamental principle is at work here than those alluded to by Prof Hall.

As professions and/or skilled industries become "commoditised", men move out and women move in.

There are some good examples from recent history. Just look at teaching as an example. As respect -- and relative pay levels -- have diminished amongst the teaching profession, so the proportion of male teachers has diminished.

As software development and support jobs are shipped overseas and respect for IT as a profession diminishes, so the same shall happen in IT.

If I remember correctly, I think Germaine Greer manages to describe the phenomenon much more eloquently in The Whole Woman.

Regards, James

This is a good point - we understand that even cheerleading was regarded as a sensible occupation until women got involved.

Finally, we have good news from Odeon Cinemas:

I just noticed today that the official Odeon site now has an alternative text-based interface - and also a page about their support for the Disability Discrimination Act. Good to see them get their act together. -Matthew.

Marvellous. That's all folks. ®

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