Guinea-pigs terrorise motorists with cans of link spam

Are they in league with the machines?

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Letters Mobile phones really are determined to rub our species from the face of the Earth. If they aren't giving us tumours, they are making us drive like we are drunk, or like we are very, very old. But can we trust the research that tells us these things? Is this a problem, or are we all just getting paranoid. In ten years, will we be able to leave our houses without a government-issued protective coating of cotton wool? And should we really trust guinea pigs behind the wheel of a car?

I see you have published details of another study on the affect of using a mobile phone while driving.

Again this study appears to be poor science. The study compares the reaction times of drivers who are talking on a mobile phone (on hands-free) with those who are maintaining "a concentrated silence" and attributes the difference to using a phone. Come on! The control group should be "talking, but without using a mobile phone" (for example to a passenger).

I will start to take these studies seriously when they start conducting them properly. I would expect the same "discussion" to be held with the driver via a phone and with a passenger in either the front or rear seat. It is worth noting that to keep the tests repeatable the "discussions" often take the form of verbal-skills tests such as "please list 6 British cities starting with the letter 'R'".


When I read something like this, it makes me wonder... who really funded UU's "research" into this? I mean, they criticized the fact that people on mobile phones kept a greater distance between other cars, and drove slower. Maybe I'm just daft, but isn't that a good thing? Reaction times aside, the facts they reported indicate to me that the subjects were being more cautious when conversing. I know I slow down when talking on the phone, purposely, not because I'm oblivious. Just seems like an odd twist on the facts there.


"Guinea pigs were subjected to four 10-mile freeway trips lasting about 10 minutes each in a simulator. They talked with a researcher via a handsfree [mobile] for half of the trip and maintained a concentrated silence for the other half. "

I too have spoken hands-free to guinea pigs whilst tripping, and boy do those pesky rodents know how to natter. Fancy the little buggers losing his speed too - hope he checked their cute pouch cheeks - you'd be amazed what they can hide in there...


"any activity requiring a driver to actively be part of a conversation likely will impair driving abilities"

Indeed, so when is our nanny state going to ban passengers in cars? Especially wives and teenagers? How about banning listening to the radio as well (or music, it's well known that listening to loud music impairs concentration and causes drivers to drive faster)?


Heh. First thing that caught my eye was 'Guinea Pigs' and the thought of them driving while on a cell phone and wondering how they would reach the brakes kinda tickled me... little tiny simulators perhaps?

Which brings up another item that I saw just three days ago...

Q: What's scarier than an Old Fart in a white Cadillac driving down the road ten mph under the limit with his left turn signal on?

A: An Old Fart in a white Cadillac driving down the road ten mph under the limit with his left turn signal on WHILE ON A DAMN CELL PHONE!

No shit - I just pulled over to finish shuddering and let him get as far away from me as possible.

Scarred for life,


Another reader writes about the link spammer interview. He suggests that "Sam" is not quite so legal after all:

I believe that this person is under a false illusion of the Computer Misuse Act.

Reading Section 1, it looks very much like they are in breach of the act under the following.

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if

(a) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer;

(b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and

(c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

(2) The intent a person has to have to commit an offence under this section need not be directed at

(a) any particular program or data;

(b) a program or data of any particular kind; or

(c) a program or data held in any particular computer.

Plus abusing open proxies is a very low act and puts this person on par with a common "script kiddie"


The fabulous notion of pay-as-you-drive car insurance is back. Yippee, you say:

Ah, PAYD insurance. A brilliant idea! We go from insurance meaning, "Pay a fixed amount per month rather than risk a large payout at one time" to "Pay an amount that depends on the risk of your particular journey."

Well, it's not long before the geniuses at the insurance companies are going to have another epiphany - the black box can also tell if you've actually HAD an accident. Now that, my friend, is a dangerous journey indeed, and rates will obviously need to be very high for journeys on which you have accidents, whereas they can be quite low when you don't!

It's amazing! Brilliant! It's not insurance any more!

Well done, lads.


And, hopefully, we will also be able to look forward to having PAYD Road Fund License to go with our PAYD motor insurance. Because, after all, the RFL revenue gets spent improving the infrastructure for motorists, doesn't it? ;-)


Microsoft, anti-spyware. Use these words in a sentence today.

Isn't this a conflict of interests for Microsoft?

What's to stop them deliberately leaving security holes open, to promote the sale of the spyware app?


"The philosophy of protecting the boundaries of organisations at the perimeter is falling to pieces," said Eckert.

And there you have it. This philosophy fell to pieces back in the 70s. Glad you caught up there Mr Eckert. MS's adoption of "you can trust everyone within these walls" is pretty much how they got themselves into the security nightmare they are up to their knees in (if you'll pardon my mixed metaphors!).


If the DOJ and EU let MS get away with charging for anti-virus and anti-spyware it will be a scandal. Why should we pay extra to make our computers safe? Ok so we already do this when we buy Norton AV or whatever but we aren't paying the manufacturer, that's a different matter entirely. It's like a builder selling you a house and charging extra to put locks on the doors. Windows security is a joke, MS should fix the problems or if they can't, provide tools that mitigate it (anti-virus, etc) for free.

As for excluding pirate copies of Windows, if they do that then they'll never solve the problems of bot-nets, spam, DDoS, etc. Most of the consumer copies of Windows are probably pirated, especially in poorer countries. I see hundreds of spam and virus emails from South America in the course of an average week and restricting security to consumers with plenty of cash will not help stop this. Thankfully I've never been infected because I don't use IE or Outlook and I've got a hardware firewall (and a tin-foil hat), the sooner others do the same the better.


But, if MS does bundle its spyware, plenty of people will accuse them of behaving anti-competitively, won't they?

Posh stereo maker Bang & Olufsen found itself in a bit of bother this week, when a glitch in Small Business Server meant its mailing list was deluged with promotional emails:

Between a handful and hundreds of messages?? Christ!! I stopped counting bloody messages after 6,000 (one company informed me that they had received over 60,000!) and, having read more than my fair share of them, I can reliably inform you that it consisted of 46 lines and that the distribution list was carbon copied, not blind carbon copied. I mean, how else could I possibly know that it included what looks intriguingly like the email address of the celebrity wife of a well known Northern Irish celebrity chef! I must dash--I'm going to drop her a line to see what her significant other recommends I do to spice up dinner this evening ;)

Name Withheld

The FBI had a pop at Yahoo! and Hotmail, saying that the companies used their UK presence as an excuse for not complying with the law:

I fail to understand why applying the UK RIPA act to US hosted companies would help the FBI? Surely if the ISP is US hosted, the FBI has all the powers it needs to do whatever it fancies on it's own home turf. And judging by the indymedia debacle, you'd think they pretty much have all the power to do whatever they want, wherever they want, no questions asked. Crikey martin! Who needs pesky laws and regulations getting in the way!


What else does the man expect? These companies' sole interest is profit. They have no concept of morality or ethics when it comes to content; 'give us the money' is their sole concern. They will use every dodge, every wheeze, anything they can get away with to avoid paying a single penny that they don't think they need to.

If ISP execs or shareholders were collared along with every crook, pedo or other miscreant who was caught using their network, then they might just do something. But then, they'd have the best legals to be able to buy themselves out of it anyway.

Capitalism. Dontcha just love it...


The Rise of the Machines continues, but cells of resistance are springing up all over the place:

RE: The Lizard Army invades Alaska

Those little Sword units look suspiciously like militant Skutters from Red Dwarf... You sure Grant and Naylor aren't vying for world domination too?

Just a thought. Seems the Daleks might be in for a tough fight after all ;O)


Dear El Reg,

It has come to my attention that there is still hope for the human resistance, even in these times with the self-proclaimed prophet Walker Bush at the big, red button of Armageddon. The Lizardfolk are surely making their final preparations, and I believe you folks have fetched the contracts between DARPA and Skynet. Could we only hope to fetch some sourcecode for the MicroSoft flying car, and we could be a step ahead (maybe the friendly RAZOR1911 could be of some assistance to the human resistance?).

The Lizardfolk have long ago infiltrated Norway, where I reside, erasing roads off the maps and diverting cash from the budget of defence. But the Norwegian resistance have come up with a cunning, little plan, in which we will blow the Lizard people's High Command to smithereens by the force of nuclear weaponry. All we ask our fellow resistance comrades, is they submit any spare smoke detectors to us per postage. Our mad scientists have found out we only need 2000 conventional smoke detectors to amass the required fissable Americanum for our nuclear weapon.

Your dear comrade in war, Rasmus Olsen, Norway

PS: Please erase any backups of this mail by the use of microwaves as soon as possible, and don't tip off the feds, or all this might be futile. PPS: We are in dire need of some new BoFH coffee mugs here at the Norwegian Resistance Headquarters.

Rasmus, old chum, the Central Resistance doesn't fund itself, you know. You can part with your cash here, safe in the knowledge that all the funds will go towards making our world a safer, less machine-ridden place. Or something quite like that anyway.

More next week. ®

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