EULAs, RFID tagging and other Halloween horrors

It is a scary, scary world out there

...where we can get on with the rest of the week's news. Let's start with a frivolous patent application being turned down. No, not Macrossan, but a flying carpet:

I think the EPO got some spam and assumed it was a patent application.


'Among the claims: "The process of the elemination of the electric and gravitational fields characterized in that one eliminates (or almost eliminates) the electric or gravitational field in eliminating the electronic neutrinos and antineutrinos of the corresponding surrounding space with the help of the T-rays, transforming them into the electrons and positrons, easily eliminable/for, for instance, the Perpetual Motion Machine in separating the charges without the work and re-putting the field or for the 'Flying Carpets' of the transport/according to Claims 4 (6,7)."'

Well, how can anyone claim that's unclear? It's completely unambiguous. It says, in terms obviously designed by a lawyer, "the applicant is mad as cheese and would like to be kept under sedation for the protection of himself and of society as a whole, please."


Feathers are ruffled and fur flies as the passport office enforces its smiley travellers. Teeth are a definite no-no.

My despair level raises every day with stories of the bleeding idiots this country is now populated by.

If their plans are so important why didn't they check how much time they had left on their passports before, ooo 10 minutes before they are due to travel.

Idiots, bleeding idiots.


You have to admire these poor sods for not giving the puffed up tossers at the passport office a damned good slapping for that. I'm not sure I could be so restrained.


I happened to catch this story on GMTV this morning*. They had some travel journo on who spoke about what was and what was not acceptable for a passport photo, and several samples were shown on-screen.

I recognised these images straightaway because they are on the sheet provided with every passport application form and I studied them carefully when I renewed my daughters' passports earlier this year. My photos were not rejected (I even managed to get my 5 year old twins NOT to smile, which takes some doing, but wasn't even necessary).

This was clearly beyond the Edwards family, and also the presenter who didn't ask them why they hadn't bothered to follow the clear instructions; they just claimed that they "didn't know". I realise that there is a technology angle as well as the question of governments controlling even more aspects of our lives but really this comes down to not RTFM.

*This was a fluke. I do not normally watch breakfast TV.


Ex-Microsoft man joins the queue for a seat on a rocket. Plenty of people wrote in asking if we could persuade Bill to join him, but more important, was his claim to be the "first nerd" heading for space. As one Reg Editor said, aren't astronauts, almost by definition, nerds?

Surely Mark Shuttleworth has prior claim to first nerd in space!

Reassuring to know the MicroSoft policy, of claiming others pioneering work as there own, carries on into space and beyond!


We'll have chips with everything and in everyone, according to a report. RFID tags to track us, that is. Not the deep-fried potato kind. Which frankly, would be OK with us.

Thankfully this new system is foolproof and will finally allow undesirables* to be tracked at long last. These chips work everywhere, I understand, and are impossible to take out or replace. Thus acquiring a chip from someone and engaging in identity fraud is also unthinkable and consequently impossible. Maybe the Beeb ought to start showing 'The Prisoner' or possibly even 'Gattaca' or 'Logan's Run' again to drum up support for mandatory tagging.

Regards, Sean.

*And desirables too. I'm sure there's good money to be made in cyberstalking. It would be for their own good, to be sure.

Somewhere on The Register in the last couple of days was the suggestion that we could publish our fingerprints on the Web, ensuring that they would no longer be the reliable form of identification they are at present. Is there a site that already does this?


Not that we know of. Anyone volunteering to start one?

The inimitable Morely thinks he can detect a faint whiff of male bovine excrement around a certain mobile telco's company name:

I'm sorry, but "3" is positively the most idiotic name for a company ever conceived. It makes "Orange" look positively intelligent and inspired, by comparison.

Look at it this way: "British Telephone" is a name that gives the consumer an idea of what sort of business in which the company might engage (notwithstanding the people who say BT has no business in that business; that's another story altogether). "British Rail" is probably somehow involved with transportation, or possibly badger extermination. "The Royal Opera" may possibly be somehow connected with Italian singers.

"Orange" is obviously in the citrus fruits business.

But "3?" Do they run the numbers game, or calculate profits/losses percentages for Dawn French, or bloody WHAT do they do?

Whoever came up with that name is clearly an MBA, and should be deported to Romania in a minimum of 3 seperate crates. No amount of advertising can possibly make up for the complete lack of trademark/product connectivity. Only a deliberate saboteur, or a fresh-minted college Business major, could have ever decided that a good name for a company was a single-digit prime number.


More on RFID, this time the plans to tag people at airports:

"People will be told to wear radio tags round their necks when they get to the airport" Okay, now it's obvious that these people didn't do their homework. Animal trials have proven the best procedure for installing a radio collar:

1. Get the subject alone. You don't want to spook the other cattle --er, passengers.

2. Administer an anaesthetic. For safety's sake, this should be in dart form, shot from a high-powered air rifle.

3. Track the subject until the anaesthetic takes effect.

4. Take advantage of the sleep to install the radio collar, measure the subject, note any distinguishing marks, and give the subject a silly nickname like Frodo or Ling-Ling.

5. Hire a television personality (like Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin) to accompany you on a mission, to help raiseawareness of the plight of this magnificent beast(tm).


"One solution might be to require people to use their tags to get through gates placed throughout the airport, he said. Perhaps a little like a shepherd might gate off his pasture and check the tags on his sheep as they passed into this field"

There's a reason why the term "sheeple" came into being. This is only the ultimate use for years of training of the population by governments everywhere.


Tagging passengers at airports is a great idea. No longer will I sit frustrated on a plane waiting to leave the gate for an extra half an hour while staff try to find an idiot passenger who is sitting in the airport bar having forgotten the time. Staff will know where he is and bring him to the plane so it can leave on time.


What a complete waste of money !

Security benefits, well I remain to say the least 'sceptical' - after all, it's going to be trivially easy to remove/replace/swap the tags.

Another benefit I've read in another report is finding lost children - ahh teh old favourite "Pulease, think about the childrun" agument.

Lastly, finding passengers who've checked in and then gone awol - if it's such a big problem, why do we build airports that encourage this ? Friends tell me that they've been through foreign airports where you check in and are then restrained to a small area and can't wander off.

Of course the real reason is that we run our airports will long delays between check-in and boarding and the system is geared up to allowing us to spend the time emptying our wallets in the not so very cheap facilities - so really it's all about money, the other arguments are simply a diversion !


And finally, some help understanding the government's ideas about an almost ID card:

Translation :

"The government has learnt lessons from other programmes where technical details have been set in stone too early,"

= We are going to make the more common mistake of not defining what we want before we have the system built.

Indeed, the incremental ID plan will involve putting off decisions about what and how it will be done until later.

= We don't know what it will be or how it will work - but we are still going to buy it (sorry, make you buy it) anyway.

What really matters is how ID cards are sold to the people.

= The key component is the spin, if it doesn't spin right we'll be dead in the water.

The benefits for the citizen will include the way it is adopted by the private sector. So it'll be easier to buy a car or take out a loan. She also hinted that it might be used to buy alcohol or shop online.

= In spite of what we've said, every dom, dick, and harry will have access to the system.

The other big sell for the government is its role as benevolent protector from the identity demons – those unscrupulous people who would steal and sully your good name.

= As opposed to the government who avoid stealing it by making theft legal.

"The National Identity Register is not a super-database which holds all the information about individuals known to the government,"

= We haven't figured out how to do that bit YET.


And we'll leave the last word to a terrified beer drinker.

Well, it is Halloween, isn't it?

I am scared, very very scared


See you on Friday for more. ®

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