back to article Whoa, someone actually texted you in 2020? Oh, nvm, it's just Boris Johnson, telling you to stay the f**k at home

Throughout the day (24th March), the British government is set to text UK mobiles to reinforce the prevailing advice amid the COVID-19 outbreak: stay home. Well, it's no longer advice. Not really. As of prime minister Boris Johnson's address to the nation last night, Britain is unquestionably a country on lockdown. Non- …

  1. David Gosnell

    Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

    Messages arrived over the course of at least 4 or 5 hours. Good thing it was just a deadly virus, not a nuclear missile winging its way - even a pretend one like Hawaii had.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

      Let's say in your lifetime you are going to have 50,000,000 shits, that's a lot of shits. Now tell me how do you think your arse would cope with those 50,000,000 shits all at once?

      Just to be clear once configured correctly an arsehole could deliver 50,000,000 shits but without that configuration you are going to clog up the toilet and won't be able to sit down for quite some time.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

        you are going to clog up the toilet and won't be able to sit down for quite some time.

        On the contrary, I don't think you'll be standing up for quite some time.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

          The good news being that a lack of loo roll won't be an issue --> (State of the arse)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

            That's why they invented wet wipes - a fire extinguisher for when/where powder would just add a whole level of problems..

            (obligatory note: they are rumoured to clog up sewers, so use sparingly).

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: Rumours

              They are proven to clog up the sewers, so don't flush them at all.

              FTFY

      2. tony2heads

        Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

        I think you would rise through the ceiling and possibly achieve lift-off

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

      A bit longer than that.

      I got the message on my Three phone at 7:38, and on my O2 at 17:54, so more than 10 hours.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Visions of a lackey tapping out 50,000,000 messages on his T9 keypad

      Good thing it was just a deadly virus, not a nuclear missile winging its way

      Sure, because knowing I'm about to get nuked and there's nothing I can do will be very helpful.

  2. osakajin Bronze badge

    Spam. I didnt consent to recieving this.

    1. Roopee

      I agree, spelling aside.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Headmaster

        '

        Not to mention the grandma.

    2. Jaspa

      Jim Briwning

      Just don't call the 0303 number offering a cure for a one off fee.

    3. Tom Chiverton 1

      I even got it twice, hours apart, from two different short codes.

      And it bounces replies.

      Useless

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Useless? How so?

        Do you feel an urgent need to reply to the sending number? Do you really think they are expecting replies, or would have the available staff to deal with potentially millions of near-simultaneous replies? Do you think someone contacted you, personally, instead of this being informativemass-messaging?

        It provided basic instruction and a resource for finding out more. Hardly call that useless.

  3. Roopee
    Facepalm

    Fake News

    I received it earlier today, but I assumed it was spam and possibly malicious - until I later saw an announcement on a trusted news site. What a silly thing for the government to do without telling people in advance that it was possible, and having some means of checking its validity! Cue a spate of fake announcements...

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Fake News

      I received it earlier today, but I assumed it was spam and possibly malicious

      My wife's mobile network (Three) actually flagged it up as probable spam.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Fake News

        I'm on Three and it was never flagged as spam for me but as it had a link in it, I assumed it was. And the fact was out of the daily exercise walk, thought, if legit, have they spotted me on the move so sent it? :)

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Fake News

        I'm on EE and it came up as spam!

        1. Kane Silver badge

          Re: Fake News

          "I'm on EE and it came up as spam!"

          Odd, I'm on EE and it came through with no problems.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Fake News

            Android on my phone flagged it as possible spam on my personal handset, not the network.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake News

      I just read Trumps twitter feed for all fake announcement needs.

  4. antman

    Phish

    I immediately thought it was a phishing attempt and deleted it. There was no indication who the sender was.

  5. Nellg

    Suspected Spam

    My phone marked the message as suspected spam...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's not clear why progress on this faltered"

    Probably something to do with "taxpayer value for money" which loosely translates to "no party donor will benefit from this public spending".

    The fact that a competent government needs this facility seems to have been overlooked.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "It's not clear why progress on this faltered"

      The fact that a competent government needs this facility seems to have been overlooked.

      When was the last time we had a competent government?

      1. Dr. G. Freeman

        Re: "It's not clear why progress on this faltered"

        About 1214 in England, 1235 in Scotland, before parliaments were formed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spam spam spam spam

    Spam spam spam spam

    Spam, government spam.

    It comes to something when Jeremy Hunt points out to Hancock that they aren't using all the free ads to get the word out on social media and Hancock more or less blinks in the headlights and mutters something about MySpace*.

    And we have many millions of people with mobile phones and nobody in government seems to have considered using them constructively, to the extent that the Army is reduced to using Whatsapp.

    I don't understand the collective desire for self-harm that put Eton back in power in 2010 and then again in 2019, but it's high time we got a government that knows what century it is, and I don't mean the fruitbat.

    *All right, I made it up about MySpace. I doubt he knew what that was either.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Spam spam spam spam

      and I don't mean the fruitbat.

      What was the previous century called (you understand that I am not asking for a friend, just my MP)?

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        The previous century was called the Century of the Three Lice, currently we are in the Century of the Anchovy.

        We are currently in The Year of the Condescending Carp, last year was The Year of the Incontrovertible Skunk.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Spam spam spam spam

      I seen things on YouTube and Twitter. I don't use any of the others.

    3. Steve Foster

      Re: Spam spam spam spam

      Wasn't it Hancock who got himself an app built (essentially to promote himself to/with his constituents)?

      If I have remembered that correctly (and it's not guaranteed), then he's probably one of the more switched-on ministers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        That may well be the case. But that makes it little less worrying.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        Well, he bought a "your name here" one, neglected to ensure it provided any data protection, two years seems like a lifetime ago

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Spam spam spam spam

          It was a pile of carp of an app, worthy of a fly by night con artist.

          'two years' is what he should have gotten for distribution.

      3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        he's probably one of the more switched-on ministers

        Now THERE is a concept: could we fit some with an off switch?

    4. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Spam spam spam spam

      WTF is "Protect the NHS" even supposed to mean? What am I expected to do here? And aren't they there to protect us?

      "Stay at home. Don't spread the virus. Save lives." would make more sense.

      I gave up watching the live televised briefings as they were mostly waffle. Not just BoJo, the reporters asking questions sounded more they were making a speech themselves, so the good questions got subsumed in the rambling sound-bite responses.

      1. illiad

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        "Protect the NHS" IF you USE your noode, mean DO NOT phone up, waste the GPs precious time, if you only have the snuffles!!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        It means "We've already got enough on our hands. Don't be a covidiot and go making more work for us"

      3. Jon 37

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        > WTF is "Protect the NHS" even supposed to mean?

        The big concern is if COVID-19 patients overwhelm the NHS. Then it's not just the COVID-19 patients who will die: The people with medical emergencies and chronic conditions, who would normally be saved by the NHS, will die, because the NHS won't have enough resources to cater to them.

        You might have heard the phrase "flattening the curve"; that basically means "if a million people get sick with COVID-19, and it's spread out over a long enough period, we can cope, but if a million people get sick at the same time then we're utterly screwed and healthcare will collapse, so we need to slow down the rate the virus is spreading even if the same number of people get sick in total."

        So by taking measures to reduce the rate that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading, you help reduce the risk that the NHS collapses.

        (A note on the names: SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, in the same way that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS).

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Spam spam spam spam

          "it's not just the COVID-19 patients who will die"

          ^This. Definitely not a time to be climbing ladders in high winds in your slippers.

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: Spam spam spam spam

            Well, shit. That's my weekend plans in tatters.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        'Protect the NHS' means to say 'If the NHS buckles under the weight, it's your fault'.

        Because the alternative is that the general population realise that the very same people now telling us to 'Protect the NHS' have spent the past ten years weakening the NHS through constant cuts, resource starvation, outsourcing, and outright hostility, and therefore it's in far worse shape to cope with the tsunami of Covid cases than it could have been.

        And that realisation could get uncomfortable for the Eton Trifles, hmm?

        AC as health worker

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Spam spam spam spam

          Well said.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Spam spam spam spam

          What cuts? The NHS budget has gone up ahead of inflation every year for the last 10 years.

      5. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Spam spam spam spam

        Closing the pubs is possibly at least relieving the strain on A&E on evenings

  8. johnfbw

    Didn't get it

    My corporate phone didn't even receive it (Vodafone) - not sure if they don't care about workers!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Didn't get it

      No idea why you got downvoted for that. Same happened to me. My only mobile phone is my work supplied Vodophone based device and as of 23:30 tonight still didn't get the text message. My wifes personal phone got it about 17:00. It seems a perfectly reasonable supposition that one or more of the networks might be prioritising personal phone numbers against corporate ones. We'll probably only find out if others either confirm or deny from their own experience rather than some uselessly random downvote without comment.

      1. Gonzo_the_Geek

        Re: Didn't get it

        I got it on my work phone, on Vodafone. Was later than the rest of my family, but I did get it.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Didn't get it

          Yes, despite the downvoters above, it seems it has taken Vodaphone 2 days to get the SMS to all their users according to today's news. Mine finally arrived today.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Didn't get it

        My partner did not get the message, I and other household member did, so definitely a few foul ups on the messaging

    2. lesession

      Re: Didn't get it

      Still not arrived on either of our Vodafone devices as at 09:00 Wednesday

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Didn't get it

        Mine is a non-smartphone with Talkmobile [ unlimited calls for £5/month, which is not bad considering charges 10 years back... ], a sub of Vodafone.

        Still no text at 11.50 Wednesday.

  9. tin 2

    I don't get why we need a system

    Phone company - send this to all subscribers now cos we say. Job done. No (OK... not much of a) system required for that surely?

    1. the reluctant commentard

      Re: I don't get why we need a system

      The systems in use in South Korea, the US and The Netherlands (amongst others) don't use text messaging at all, but rather a feature built in to (I believe) 3G and up: cell towers can transmit these Alert messages to all phones within their range and they will then show these messages as Alerts and play an alarm sound (even if they are set to silent although that is up to the phone)

      This works better than SMS because you can reach *all* phones regardless of operators within a certain geographic area (including phones from abroad for instance) and the messages don't get lost, marked as spam, ignored, etc.

      The functionality is baked in to the mobile standards specifically to be able to alert all phones within the boundaries of whatever disaster is unfolding.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Alert messages

        And the first thing I do is root and uninstall the damn thing. What use is it other than to start mass panic?

        "In coming nuke!!! Keep calm" What fucking good is that?

        Can you imagine what state the roads would have been in during the 2004 tsunami, I bet the death toll would have been higher still as people drown in their cars stuck in traffic.

        Downvote away....

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Alert messages

          You can make your peace with the livin' Gawd that made you.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Alert messages

          In large areas of the US, these announcements are useful for warning about tornadoes, wildfires, and similar events which can surprise people in the area because they're relatively localized. Regions which are not so prone to natural disasters may have fewer good uses for them.

          In the US the system is also used for "Amber Alerts", which are intended to help track child abductions, though in my experience the police are terrible at selecting the Amber-Alert geographic area. I've received a couple of those alerts for events 100+ miles away. And they typically don't contain much useful information ("believed to be in a light-colored truck" - oh good, that narrows it down), and if you're driving they're rather shocking (the alarm is loud), and you can't see the contents unless you read your phone, which at least a few of us still decline to do if we're operating a vehicle. So I've found the Ambers pretty much useless.

          There are actually four alert levels - Amber, Severe, Extreme, and Presidential. Phones are supposed to let you turn any or all of the first three off, without having to root, though finding the setting can take some work. You can't disable the Presidential alerts because the President never says anything that's not accurate, useful, and terribly important.

  10. Cederic Silver badge

    This wasn't the problem message

    The other message coming from NHS NO REPLY was the real issue. It was so badly worded that recipients could easily think it was notifying them that they were among the 1.5 million vulnerable people that should be being told this week to never leave the house until it's all over.

    A neighbour contacted me to ask if I could sort out some essentials for her and while I was getting that sorted I received the SMS myself. Ended up having to get clarification from the local health centre. The good news is that the neighbour can still look after herself, although she probably will be deemed vulnerable so it'll all repeat in a day or two anyway.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: This wasn't the problem message

      That bit about being vulnerable reminded me of this :

      A few years back, a fair few, Terry Wogan told the story on air of the time they were playing golf, he was just about to play a shot when a rare butterfly landed on his ball.

      Couple seconds later "ooooh look, it's even rarer now."

  11. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge
    Coat

    I'd just taken my coat off...

    I'd just taken my coat off from trying unsuccessfully to buy a loaf of bread this morning and Boris texts me to tell me to stay at home.

    Look: This Big Brother thing should be a two-way thing. If he'd told me there was no bread* I wouldn't have bothered going out in the first place.

    Ah well, at least I didn't need to do a two-way trip with a wheelbarrow of money to not pay for it.

    https://historydaily.org/germany-hyperinflation

    *Bit more complicated than that, but that's another story.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: I'd just taken my coat off...

      Did you get any cake?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'd just taken my coat off...

        Cake

        Had to do a very restricted wake recently (only close family members, social distancing) - only food we could get was cake, no bread to be had, guests limited to one cup of tea or coffee due to only being able to get a single small milk carton. Everyone very understanding, but its weird being at funeral with no hugs, handshakes etc at a time when people want hugs & close contact.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: I'd just taken my coat off...

      I'd just stepped outside to take my one permitted daily form of exercise when the phone pinged. If I were paranoid, I might have wondered if my movements were under surveillance. Actually, since I was the only person out walking by the river and police patrol boats were shuttling back and forward, I likely was under surveillance as they clearly had nothing else to do. Yet.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: I'd just taken my coat off...

        I understand that in some parts of the USA during normal times, if one walks to places eschewing an automobile one instantly becomes a person of interest to the police.

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I'd just taken my coat off...

      Finally got my bread today.

      The way the whole process of shopping is evolving now is:-

      (1) People are having to put a helluva lot more effort into doing their shopping - meaning coming into contact with a lot more shoppers than usual, nullifying the purpose of social distancing. This is because of the policy of allowing a maximum defined number of shoppers in the store at any given time means queuing for hours (no exaggeration) to get in... only to find they haven't got what you wanted anyway. Which means joining the queue outside another supermarket...

      (2) As a consequence I can see that people are going to give up buying from supermarkets and go back to buying from corner shops that don't have these restrictions which is, incidentally, where I got my bread from.

      No, I don't have an easy solution.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is the 'full guidance' so wrong?

    The govmint's "Full guidance on staying at home and away from others" starts of so well and then blows it in a single sentence:

    1. Staying at home

    excellent, well done so far ... then ...

    You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

    ah, not so good, in fact very confusing. What if I live in a flat rather than a house? Does that mean I can go out or not?

    And if I do live in a house, am I allowed to go into the garden or not?

    Why did they use the word 'house' exactly once? In that place? What were they thinking? Or smoking? Were they even awake?

    1. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

      Re: Why is the 'full guidance' so wrong?

      You are manufacturing outrage

      Here is the full text of the message, no usage of House at all:

      GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't receive anything

    I'm on Virgin Mobile, so EE?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Didn't receive anything

      Most virgins haven't received anything to be fair.

    2. JpChen

      Re: Didn't receive anything

      On virgin too and my text arrived just now. Wish I'd known, been banging on the pub door all day

  14. ibmalone Silver badge

    Reflection

    Nearly ( :( ) fifteen years ago I heard Sir Christopher Hum (former ambassador to China) talk about his time in the country (started his career in the late 60's and a lot of it in China). One thing that stuck with me (aside from the tiny village he'd first arrived in by land now being a city of millions), was an aside about government communications. "One of these things that only happens in China. They sent a text, to everyone."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had the unexpected opportunity and associated means to leave Blighty permanently a decade ago. Thank God that I did, family in tow too. The country has since descended into an utterly embarassing, totally mismanaged and uncoordinated mess.

    Why do you still keep choosing and voting for incompetent Tory Loons and Woke Marxists? Get some serious people in to govern, who have real world experience and know wtf actually needs doing, roll up their sleeves and just do it.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      If there's one thing the last decade tells us, it's that the UK electorate doesn't vote for woke Marxists.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Get some serious people in to govern, who have real world experience and know wtf actually needs doing, roll up their sleeves and just do it."

      Such people are rare enough in the private sector these days, let alone the public sector - it appears to have mostly been bred out of the general populace.

  16. Franco Silver badge

    I'm obviously special, I got the message twice. Thought it was a bit pointless to be honest, till I saw the queue outside the local pharmacy with less than half the people observing the 2m distance and then got home from the supermarket to read about idiots having barbecues.

  17. samkam
    Megaphone

    Use Singapore Way

    here, they use whatsapp to send messages 2 -3 times a day and everyone has the correct and latest information from Govt reducing the panic...

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Re: Use Singapore Way

      Ah, yes. WhatsApp. That authoritative source of knowledge. Can’t think of a better means to receive information from the Government...

      My WhatsApp got sent into the digital bin a couple of months ago and I’m starting to think it was a startlingly good decision.

    2. genghis_uk Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: Use Singapore Way

      WhatsApp = Facebook so not getting anywhere near my phone!

      Government emergency alerts should not rely on us installing 3rd party apps

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never got Gov message

    Never got message. Been with Vodafone Over 10 years as personal customer.

    Number was a transfer from another carrier.

    I have a Three phone number on which Message arrived yesterday (ie 24 hours ago).

    Am I low priority for Vodafone. Am I bottom of the list, of the select statement.

    Come on Vodafone.....

  19. clyde666

    Network overload

    Late yesterday morning I was trying to phone to arrange onsites for enabling work from home. The calls kept dropping, some before ringing, some after 1 ring. Same for incoming. That lasted for maybe an hour. Missed calls did show up.

    Later I figured it must have been network overload because of the volume of these texts that were flooding out.

    Also have a 1pMobile phone - it got the text around 5pm last night.

    After reading the message, saw the bit about "more info & exemptions at" so browsed to that, but couldn't find anything about exemptions.

    I know France allows exemptions for techies organising work-from-home (for others), so was trying to find any guidance on that.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm personally getting to the point of wanting to flatten the curve by flattening the idiots who STILL seem to be unable to curb their anti social tendencies.

    I'm presently in Belgium, and I have visited my local supermarket exactly twice since the shutdown (yes, we don't call it that, but I care about the effect, not the label) for a quick stock up. This shop has put proper plexi shields up for the staff, they all wear gloves and masks and customers are encouraged to do the same. Some do, some don't but also the social distancing is well observed.

    Yet, today I visited another supermarket and it was pretty much as if I had landed in a covid party. I'll have a word with the police in a minute - this has the potential to be a source of infection. Unbelievable.

  21. Blackjack Silver badge

    Welcome to quarantine

    If you run out of TP, use soap and a bucket full of water, it works!

    1. TheProf Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Welcome to quarantine

      "If you run out of TP, use soap and a bucket full of water, it works!"

      Not for blowing my nose it doesn't.

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to quarantine

        https://duckduckgo.com/?q=cloth+handkerchief

        Remember those?

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