back to article Stephen Fry security whoopsie leads to prank fart book order

Hoppity-skippety technology commentator of all our hearts Stephen Fry has made a regrettable security blunder. After filming in Oxford at the famous Bodleian Library yesterday, the enthusiastic luvvie was granted a reader's card – a rare privilege, as normally access to the archives is granted only to members of Oxford …


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  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    One day.....

    ...the net's gunna get ya..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...the net's gunna get ya.

      Oh no it isn't

      Just getting my panto practice in early.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Just lol

  3. Jim Hague

    Nitpick: Bodleian is not just for Oxford Uni

    I got a readers card off them once, and I'm not a University member. I do live in Oxford, and I did have a semi-plausible reason for wanting access to the library for research purposes.

    Coat. Acquire. Door.

    1. El Zed

      Too True

      I had/have one too,

      bear in mind Oxford is rather funny as to what it defines as a 'member' of the University...I was just a mere employee and managed to get it, only had to recite the oath twice (first time wasn't loud enough).

    2. Scorchio!!

      Re: Nitpick: Bodleian is not just for Oxford Uni

      <AOL>Me too</AOL> I moved though. Down the road. That's where my coats are, but I'm not there today. I'm not saying where for the same reason that I wouldn't put an imaged copy of my card online, for the same reason that I would not twitter about being away from home if I used twitter.

    3. Blue eyed boy

      Et in biblioteca Bodleiana ego

      I have had a quick conducted tour of some of the more ancient contents of the Bodleian, after I expressed an interest while installing some equipment there. Not many computer engineers would be drooling over the ancient books to an even greater extent than drooling over the pretty young lady escort.

      Flame icon as I wonder: did SF have to take the traditional oath, in the ancient tongue, not to kindle any fire etc. within the library precincts?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      about the coat

      All coats get the thumbs down for being an ass. This is OLD and stupid.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Stephen Fry...?

    I thought I'd tuned into Radio 4 for a second. Really, I struggle to have a day without Fry oozing smugly out of my radio. I don't need his coy whimsy smothering my keyboard as well :(

    Happy Christmas Stephen - see if you can find something else to occupy your time in the new year, eh?

    And take Grayson Perry with you - he's almost as bigger media whore as you are.

    1. Shakje

      You were doing so well

      at the condescending tone until the utter fail in the last sentence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If it was possible to go a week without one or other of them popping up to do an advert (Fry) or appear on a panel show for no very good reason apart from being a Radio 4 'favourite' (with who...?) I would be a bit more forgiving...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So you don't like Stephen Fry yet you chose to read an article about his lateset tecno antics. One can only conclude that you did so in order to reinforce your dislike of him and then tell the whole world about it.

      How sad.

      I cannot say whether I like or dislike him as a person as I don't actually know him,what I do know is that for me, his work as an author, actor and presenter is on the whole more enjoyable than many other peoples efforts. I also understand he is a self confessed technically ingorant gadget geek which for my money is the best sort of person to let others know of their experience with such toys.

      Merry Christmas Mr Fry

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Hey Stephen, can we have some quality rather quantity please?

        I like him but he's far to over exposed now its beyond the joke. When he's literally on four TV shows and a radio programme simultaneously plus the countless TV ads, news stories and you even see him on the train all on the same day - then yes, it really is beyond the joke.

        I'm not even exaggerating, all the above has happened in my experience. I don't watch QI any-more because I'm literally sick of him. I will go back and watch old episodes in a few years probably but right now I'm avoiding him. I do think its fair to say he's a sell out and when I hear him bang on about standards in the media its a bit two faced of him to act as if he's some sort of ambassador for quality programme making - we're talking about a man who dose advert voice overs for Argos and Direct Line and stared in the god awful Kingdom ffs!

        Hey Stephen, can we have some quality rather quantity please?

        I did not read this article because I hate him, I did so despite being a bit sick of his overexposure, to find out what silly thing he has done on Twitter - I'd do the same for any celeb who's messed up online - even those I've never heard of - which is most of them I'm sorry but that's what celebs are there for - for us to laugh at when they've smeged up!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward



          Now, write an apology and perhaps the PROPER people of El Reg will forgive us both...

  5. fixit_f

    Security blunder is on their side

    So they issue all new members with the same default password? Fail.

    1. Scripsit

      No security blunder, just pranking

      The Bodleian's readers' passwords are not a generic default but a format specific to the reader. If you know that and have the reader's number you can order books up - but why would you want to, as you could not access them without the specific reader's card? And if you do it for a prank, you need to get a life. So no 'failure' in security. Oh, and legitimate scholars outside the University are entitled to apply for a card - I've been a member of the Bodleian's 'Republic of Letters' for half my life and look forward to my research in their quiet rooms - a real Library.

      1. Grumble


        Far from the pranksters need to get a life, I think you need to get a sense of humour.

    2. Ball boy

      @ fixit_f

      Well, yes it is. Equally, the library has forever been frequented by educationalist-types and their reading lists aren't (no offence to anyone) the kinds of things anyone would normally care to play with.

      The problem comes when you give access to a household-name entertainer who then compounds the problem by bragging about his new-found love and posting pictures of his ID. Now, when said board-walker is one that seems to get up the noses of a decent number of people, errors like that are bound to be taken advantage of - and so they were. Amusingly, in my opinion (I'll bet the majority were fellow Bodleian users, too).

      Errors on both sides, I'd say. Bodleian need to tighten security on something most people didn't give two hoots about cracking, Mr. Fry's ego needs to be taken down a couple of decibels.

  6. Charles Calthrop

    why has he got his own wikipedia page open on teh screenshot?

    ..and what does that bad=error mean in the URL of the catalogue?

    1. advocate

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      One would assume that is a screen shot from the hack that wrote the article rather than from Mr Fry's computer - little bit o research from the all knowing Wiki for El Reg?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    A simple

    demonstration that intelligence does not equate to common-sense...

    Can also be applied to Mr J.Clarkson!!!

    1. Eeep !


      a demonstration that being a technophile celebrity does not equate to having common-sense.

      Can be applied to anyone who considers Mr Fry intelligent rather than knowledgable (with reseach staff)

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge


      the intelligent suppression of whatever common sense one may have tends to make good viewing.

      Exhibit #1: Mythbusters

    3. neil 15

      One I read earlier...

      Forget where I heard it, but someone described Stephen Fry as the simpletons idea of a clever person.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luvvie Twitter-flounce in 10... 9... 8...

    Luvvie Twitter-unflounce in...

  9. Mark Serlin


    What a dick.

    1. Jimbo 6

      @What a dick

      I've not actually seen his dick myself, so I'll have to take your word for how astounding it is.

  10. Jim 59
    Thumb Up


    Whatever you think of him, Fry owned a home computer in the 80's and actually programmed it, and that makes him one of the brethren. Like many among the Reg readership he was formally a Laskeys lurker, and is probably the only BBC talking head who could write a computer programme. Over exposure leads to annoyance, and I disagree with his world view in many ways, but hey - solidarity brothers.

    And what about another fellow enthusiast of ours, the Duke of Edinburgh - sending email in the early 80s, while you lot were watching Grange Hill and polishing your Polyvelts. Hero.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      The more I learn...

      ...about him the more respect I have for Phil the Greek. Turning the garden hose of the paparazzi, insisting on using the public dunnies at the MCG, etc.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just something to think about..

    How is this different (in the eyes of the law) than someone DDoS-ing a website? Which according to some people is worthy of thousands in charges, and perhaps even jail time.

    I agree with you that this is harmless fun, but I don't find the law would have as big a sense of humour as Mr. Fry.

  12. Inachu
    Thumb Up


    Reminds me the time when Mr. Wozniak turned on his internet enable private home printer.

    I ran my Windows add printer wizard and gave the ip addy of his printer and started printing like crazy. And wow he was not very happy so I printed more but this time different text exclaiming he is an internet god and he should start up another company of sorts......

    Oh well then he made it private.......DARNIT!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "By Obadiah Fizzle"

    I really hope that's not just a pen name. It's almost as awesome as "Dieter Quester" and "Szolt Baumgartner".

    In other news, who the hell is this Fry guy? I'm asking for real, not in the arrogant, "I'm too civilized to partake of his rubbish" way...

  14. AndrewH

    @David W.

    "In other news, who the hell is this Fry guy? I'm asking for real, not in the arrogant, "I'm too civilized to partake of his rubbish" way..."

    You realise you have access to the internet, right? It would have taken fewer keystrokes to access wikipedia and type in "Stephen Fry", you know.

  15. No, I will not fix your computer

    Over exposed?

    Maybe, but one has to remember that it's hardly his fault that people want to pay him lots of cash for appearances - what would you do?

    Q. Mr Fry, you are very popular at the moment would you like lots of employment for lots of cash?

    A1. Yes please, who knows when I'll be out of favour, and I would like a comfortable life please.

    A2. No, I don't need the cash, unemployment is far more respectable for a celebrity.

    So, those who might dislike his "over exposure" try and put yourself in his shoes, it's not really his fault, and turning things down could be career suicide, turn stuff down and they will stop asking (is he overexposed? perhaps you watch a bit too much TV? but I'm not one to judge, I don't have a TV).

    Another thing to remember, as a bipolar sufferer, external validation can be important to his state of mind, and feeling wanted (and accepting the jobs) might not just be about the cash.

    Personally I'm biased as I think he's a gem, British humour and intelect at it's best.

  16. M Gale

    Stephen Fry, lovely guy.

    Seriously. He seems like the sort of person who would be marvellous at a dinner party.

    However, due to more uncouth friends of mine taking every single word of his as gospel - it's true because Stephen Fry says it is - I have to afford myself a little snigger.

    Don't worry old bean, it's not you, it's them.

  17. skeptical i

    Trying to hold two almost-contradictory thoughts:

    1. Shilling for stuff in teevee adverts? Oh, Stephen, MUST you stoop so low to keep your mortgage paid?

    2. Good on ye, son -- ride that money wave until you crash the beach.

  18. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Douglas Adams

    The problem with Fry is that he's not really all that tech savvy and he's quite naive. The latter is quite endearing, the former annoying. If he didn't set himself up as some sort of arbiter of technical taste it wouldn't be so annoying, but he does so it is.

    The real issue, however, is that he seems to have decided to take up the role vacted by Douglas Adams. Adams went from being distrustful of computer technology to being one of it's strongest advocates, although with a strong Apple bias. The assumption made by Fry and others is that Adams would still be totally obsessed with Apple were he still alive today. I'm not sure that would be the case, Apple has changed a lot since Adams' death, However getting back to the point Adams was extraordinarilly tech savvy, Fry isn't he's just a big fan of technology. As such I trusted Adams' views on technology since he clearly knew more than me. OTOH, while I fully accept Fry is more intelligent than I, I don't believe his smarts extend to technical subjects.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Steven Fry?

    So I must assume this person who I've never heard of is some kind of idiot savant or something? Or just a simple idiot?

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