British Expat Newsletter:
12 November 2003

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Press injunctions; viruses
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Unless you’ve been completely out of touch with the media over the last fortnight, you’ll know that the hot news in the UK is that some of Prince Charles’s former household staff have been alleging that he took part in what the media in England and Wales are describing as an “incident”.

Inevitably, the story’s become all the more heated as Clarence House staff and the ex-staff members concerned make accusations and counter-accusations about each other. Court injunctions have prevented the English and Welsh media from giving details of the alleged incident, and imported Italian papers carrying those details have been destroyed by order of the importing company. But Scotland’s Sunday Herald of last weekend was able to print some of the allegation at least, as the injunction wasn’t valid north of the Border – although it hasn’t reproduced the story online. Many people in the UK have nevertheless been able to get the news off foreign websites, raising the question of how relevant injunctions against the press are, now that so many of us get our news online.

Talking of being online: it’s twenty years ago this week that the first case of a computer virus was recorded. Apparently the first virus was created in 1983 as a demonstration of a potential security threat – the test was so successful that further tests were immediately banned. The first virus for a PC was written in 1986, apparently to track piracy of a particular program. But while these early viruses were mostly transmitted by floppy disks (remember them?), the real explosion of the problem came with the increasing popular use of the Internet for sending email, and the misuse of macros in MS Word. There are now reckoned to be over 60,000 viruses, trojans and worms doing the rounds, causing millions of pounds of damage to the global economy every year.

Mind you, the hoaxes can be just as bad. Particularly pernicious are the ones which claim that a virus – which none of the anti-virus applications can detect – has been placed on your system, tell you how to find the file and warn you to delete it. And since most people are well-intentioned, and many don’t know that much about computers (let alone viruses) they’re only too willing to forward the “warning” to all their friends. Unfortunately, the file’s almost invariably an essential system file and deletion causes your computer to crash.

Virtual Snacks

Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare: – a few facts about virus myths and hoaxes, intended to counteract some of the hysteria which sometimes surrounds virus alerts.

BBC News: Technology – some of the bizarre ways in which people have lost data from their computers, through carelessness, cussedness or just blind e-rage! – a poptastic collection of thousands of twisted lyrics from hundreds of recording artists, named after one of the most famous: Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”.

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • dose of the runs (4)
  • don’t throw those bloody spears at me (3)
  • far side cartoon tee shirts (3)
  • significance of little red riding hood (2)
  • what-a-mess dog (2)
  • malaysian rubber plantations (3)
  • monkey footprints (2)
  • foie gras food poisoning (2)

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.” [Charming!]
– Robert Wilensky, computer scientist


Apparently this is a true story.

A Microsoft user once got an especially helpful reply to a question he’d asked on Microsoft’s on-line tech support service.

He wrote back to thank them for a complete and concise reply, and said how much he appreciated it.

The next day he had a response: “We are looking into the problem and will contact you with a solution as soon as possible.”

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