back to article A smarter alternative to password recognition could be right in front of us: Unique, invisible, maybe even deadly

"Breathe into the tube, sir." Oh yes, dear reader, I am being breathalysed. I comply and watch the pretty LEDs dance back and forth in their traffic-light colours before settling on a crimson red. I win! I win! Actually, I am being économe avec la vérité (as nobody says down here) as it did not quite happen like that. For a …

  1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    On a related topic...

    On a related topic I'll be glad when we can stop wearing facemasks. Every time I put one on it smells terrible...

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: On a related topic...

      That might be the first time I've laughed at such a suggestion... even if only a chuckle (because of the number of people who will know suggest it in all seriousness)

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: On a related topic...

      Whoever invested the facemask never encountered someone in the street who has just broken wind in front of you, thus ensuring that you get the full benefit of his emission and it stays inside your facemask.

      No joke, I can assure you,

      1. EVP

        Re: On a related topic...

        Hahaa, covid-era version of ‘goes around like a fart inside lederhosen’ is ‘…inside your facemask’ now!

        Nextgen mask to fight Omicron —>

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: On a related topic...

          @EVP - "Nextgen mask to fight Omicron —>"

          I thought it was Omicron, you can clearly see the spike proteins.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Le Pétomane

        "It was a common misconception that Joseph Pujol passed intestinal gas as part of his stage performance. Rather, Pujol was allegedly able to "inhale" or move air into his rectum and then control the release of that air with his anal sphincter muscles."

    3. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: On a related topic...

      That reminds me, I need to fix my webcam software. When I'm on a call, it keeps streaming video of some ugly guy instead of showing my feed.

    4. whileI'mhere

      Re: On a related topic...

      You ARE supposed to bin them and put a new fresh one on from time to time, you know (or wash them if they are those cloth ones).

      1. Citizen99

        Re: On a related topic...

        I like mine to be comfortably 'run in'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On a related topic...

        > You ARE supposed to bin them and put a new fresh one on from time to time, you know


  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Lightbulb moment

    I'm going to rename my spam folder inbox, and my inbox will be renamed to spam! Job Done! Thanks Dabsy!

  3. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

    Black week season

    Which will presumable include the "pre BF" promotions that are appearing now that the marketing idiots have killed sales in the run up to BF...

    And the latest marketing tosh email I received ... "Celebrate Giving Tuesday with PayPal ❤️" Evidence of a B-Ark survivor amongst us.

    1. Andy A Bronze badge

      Re: Black week season

      Received an email, sent from a major DIY store.

      "Cyber Monday is here!"

      Sent on Tuesday 30/11/2021 at 01:36.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Black week season

        One particular company I know of kicked off with an "Autumn Sale" at a nominal percentage off. This gave way to the Black Friday sale at a slightly-increased percent off (thus pissing off anyone who fell for the Autumn Sale), then went into Cyber Monday (on the monday), then went into Cyber Monday - Extended for the next two days. Over this period, said company sent out something crazy like 11 emails inside of 5 days. Except that I appear to be in the list twice, so I actually got 22.

        Posted anonymously, as the company in question is my employer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Black week season

          Mountain Warehouse perchance?....

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: Black week season

          You work there and you cannot unsubscribe yourself from the spam list? That does not bode well for any other victims.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Black week season

            Spam is incurable.

            Once you get it, you'll have to live with it for the rest of your life.

      2. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Re: Black week season

        For the last two weeks, my email and SMS accounts have been going nuts. Anyone who I have previously purchased from - some well over a year ago - have been spamming me incessantly.

        My latest 'Cyber Monday' email was at 18.21 today (3 December). The first (which ID'd itself as 'Cyber Week') was on 18 November (just checked my trash folder). Hundreds of them.

        It's even more annoying that some of the spam comes from companies I have active products (including live subscriptions) with, trying to sell me the product I already own a licence for. And more annoying still is the sudden use of SMS from companies who've never SMS'd me before!

        Let's face it. They're all desperate as a result of the pandemic, so you know why they're doing it. But it's enough to put you off - and I don't think they've considered that.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Black week season

      Black Friday is just an American thing that's somehow ended up everywhere else. The Thanksgiving holiday spans two days with the actual holiday being on a Thursday leaving Friday empty. So the obvious thing is to go Christmas shopping. Twenty plus years ago. These days we spend a lot of that Friday trying not to eat leftovers, not fighting for stuff at mall stores that are probably out of stock anyway.

      So Black Friday gets exported. My daughter first noticed it was spreading like a stain when it appeared in Romania. In September. Now the curse appears to have spread to the UK (along with tacky malls and all the detritus of retail consumerism that's now a bit passe in the US proper). I suppose we should now get Boxing Day in exchange.

      1. david 12

        Re: Black week season

        "So Black Friday gets exported."

        It's an infectious disease caused by the bacterium yersinia pestis, transmitted by fleas.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: Black week season

          That's the Black Death (bubonic plague), not Black Friday.

          But you knew that... :D

        2. rskurat

          Re: Black week season

          Black Friday will always be a Steely Dan song to me . . .

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Black week season

        "Black Friday" is the Friday that falls two days before Easter Day. Anything else is an irreligious, illiterate, innumerate, inconsiderate, inconsistent, inappropriate... err, misappropriation, which is exactly what you'd expect from those thugs in marketing.

  4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Black friday season for

    me runs all the way upto new year...

    Lets face it , on telly now its nothing but xmas adverts interspersed with "DIY cremation" and "over 50s pay for your DIY cremation" ads

    Hint: never watch daytime TV while depressed... especially after that failed breathe test has locked you out of your iShiney gadget(and house... and car)

    Anyway.. have a smiley for the music vid

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Never watch daytime TV

      Nothing worse than realizing you're now firmly in the demographic daytime TV adverts are aimed at....

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Never watch daytime TV

        Morning TV on France's major channel (TF1) is flipping telesales. Every bit as bad and hammily presented as QVC was a quarter century ago. I see it on the big TV at work, and I think to myself that no matter what one might think of BBC and/or ITV, it could always be worse.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Never watch daytime TV

        confused... UK daytime ads are incontinence wear, stairlifts, and free pens for insurance form completion. DE daytime ads are for dating agencies and sex toys...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never watch daytime TV

          Seems people age differently depending on where they live...

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Never watch daytime TV

          Depends what channel you watch I suppose. I had assumed that daytime satellite freeview channels were sustained by money from the Dormeo marketing budget.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Ah, frustratingly short

    The article was gathering steam and going strong and bam! The end.

    I would have gladly read more.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Ah, frustratingly short

      Yeah, but it ended on a high note… a Prodigy video (RIP Keith), from their Fat of the Land pomp no less! Who could ask for more, esp. as it’s POETS day now?

      Icon is very much a Firestarter —->

    2. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: Ah, frustratingly short

      I'm afraid I am a pay-as-you-go writer. I needed another 50p in the meter.

    3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Ah, frustratingly short

      > The article was gathering steam and going strong and bam! The end.

      Bit too much bromance showing through there, mate.

  6. Sam not the Viking

    Identity Verification

    We had a guy (obviously a guy...) who re-heated his lunch in the microwave. His favourite, and seemingly daily, evening meal was fish curry. His presence was detectable well before meeting him up close, and there was always a scramble to get through the kitchen before him.

    1. Coastal cutie

      Re: Identity Verification

      I think he's worked at one of our sites as well

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Identity Verification

        And ours.

        He was eventually banned from reheating food.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: Identity Verification

          I must have worked with a cousin. He liked microwaving tinned smoked mackerel. And then eating it at his desk. One row down from our very-OCD clean-freak manager.

          I think that lasted about two weeks before she finally cracked, took him aside and asked him very politely to knock it off.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Identity Verification

            Not the approach used on an ex-colleague, who basically couldn't be sacked because of the high position of his father... "Is that the drains, or one of your engineers?"

  7. Paul Herber Silver badge

    I have a new earworm ...

    Berlin's Take My Breathe Away

    Now you have too.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: I have a new earworm ...

      I think I'll stick to my regular progressive house/melodic techno mixes if it's all the same to you.

    2. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: I have a new earworm ...

      To be fair, it was in the article sub-head.

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: I have a new earworm ...

      Does there ever need to be an excuse to mention Kate Bush?

      Clever vid too.

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: I have a new earworm ...

        Go with me:

        Breathe in...


        Breathe out...


        Breathe in...


        Breathe out...


        Breathe in...


        There you go!

        You are now breathing manually!

        You are welcome!

    4. mstreet

      Re: I have a new earworm ...

      I always use the Muppet Show theme to get rid of ear worms.

      The residuals usually fade in a week or two.

  8. Russell Chapman Esq.

    Back when Mme D was still What!!!!!!

    My mind saw 'Mlle F' as something quite different. Had to double take.

  9. Flightmode

    How about combining the pillow with the speaker and the pillow with the SnoreScore app with your idea of competitive snoring and send one user's snores out the speakers of another user's?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      I'm sure someone has already done that with my pillow.

      I don't snore, despite what my missus pointedly tells me. Must be someone elses being broadcast into the pillow...

  10. Ali Dodd

    Been done

    Was used by the space station/research facility in Alien resurrection (4). and showed how to bypass it also. Obs this is the worst Alien movie but it still looks good as the design was great (apart from the alien baby screwup) . The script however, yeah needed MORE work than the legions who tried to polish that mess.

    1. eswan

      Re: Been done

      Alien: Resurrection is fine as long as you keep in mind it's the answer to "What would happen if Joss Wheden did an Alien movie?"

  11. Insert sadsack pun here

    You bastard, Dabbsy. You weren't such a good housemate yourself, you know. You never cleaned the bathroom, you stole everyone else's milk, and you left your clothes in the washing machine for days at a time.

    Drop dead.



    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "and you left your clothes in the washing machine for days at a time."

      Lucky you. He used the washing machine and not the dish washer!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        A dishwasher?

        Oooh, posh.

        Just a single sink, overflowing with a vigorously replicating community of fungi way beyond Mr. Pasteur's wildest nightmares, that would probably yield a few plates, pots and pans if someone would be brave enough to dress up in a hazmat suit and attack the pulsating mound with, oh, probably something featuring in "Things I Won't Work With".

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: A dishwasher?

          Sounds like my wife’s halls in Liverpool. Only open the fridge while armed.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Better than the roommates that left their plasticware in the oven.

    3. trindflo

      Poor blighter. I can't imagine what happened, but everywhere I go I hear people shouting the most terrible things about Hugh.

  12. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    Just back from Italy, where there were signs up for "Black Week" and "Black November"--in English.

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: black

      Same here in France. With asterisks to a footnote with a translation.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: black

        With asterisks to a footnote with a translation.

        Anthea Bell - RIP

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: black

          I don't recall her Asterix translations having literal explanatory footnotes.

          However the versions in Germany were littered with them. Couldn't decide if it was Teutonic lack of humour - or a conscious parody of same. They also stuck to one very plain, single size, balloon typeface - whereas other languages' translators used them imaginatively eg Gothic for Goths.

  13. Franco Silver badge

    I did actually buy quite a few things last Black Friday with the intention of going on a hiking trip this year. Between subsequent lockdowns and then injuries I still haven't been though, but of course it means for the last year I've had nothing but recommendations for camping and hiking gear, usually "convenient" ways to relieve yourself off the beaten track. Which now I've written it looks like a euphemism for something else....

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      You get spam adverts for bushes and trees to go behind?

      1. Franco Silver badge

        No, usually for bottles to go in or disposable bags that form a gel once used or equally stupid products.

        I'll stick with the tried and tested hi-tech solution. Behind a tree with a plastic trowel.

        1. Falmari Silver badge

          @Franco You need to see a doctor, as that is one serious case of constipation if you require a plastic trowel! :)

          1. Franco Silver badge

            I only worry when I have to get the ice axe out ;-)

  14. Sam Therapy

    "Last Christmas I gave you my farts..."

  15. Barry Rueger

    A worthy idea.

    Having survived - just - the twenty-seven steps, two passwords, multiple security codes, and a flurry of fingerprint readings on the mandated phone app that allow one the honour of accessing an HSBC France bank account on-line - but not using the bank card in a store - I can see the appeal of Smell-ID.

    Honestly, passwords may be fine, but the two, three, and five factor identification schemes are driving me insane.

    (Random thought: are military systems in the war theatre protected with equally byzantine and error prone schemes, and is that why we "lost" in Afghanistan?)

    We've been living in France for just shy of two months, and every Friday Dabbsey make me feel like yes, I do understand French life, and yes, it is worth being here.

    Any chance he can tell me where to find the bottle recycling bin in Montbrun, Charente?

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: A worthy idea.

      I dunno, you could try here.

      Might pass by your way at the end of January if the Angoulême BD festival still goes ahead.

      1. Barry Rueger

        Re: A worthy idea.

        Actually I discovered that the bins are right outside the InterMarché in Montbrun. the perfect place for them!

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: A worthy idea.

      "and yes, it is worth being here"

      Very much so. This coming May I'll be celebrating twenty years.

      I'm a little further north, in the frozen wasteland of pig farms that calls itself "Brittany"; but only just, so I get to see the sun in the upper Loire valley (the département that's a stone's throw away and has exactly zero connection to the Loire, but got tacked on to the Pays De La Loire because nobody else wanted it) even if the sun isn't over me. Because, you know, Brittany. Sky full o'flippin' dragons or something.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: A worthy idea.

        Ah! Breizh Tea! Proper soft drink with actual sugar in.

  16. John Hawkins

    I breathe in your general direction...

    Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.

    I am a little disturbed to see that even after a few hours there are no references to this quote, given the subject matter and M. Dabbs' country of residence - or perhaps I am just getting old.

    1. Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

      Re: I breathe in your general direction...

      "I empty my nose" is the original quote, I believe.

      1. CuChulainn Silver badge

        Re: I breathe in your general direction...

        Pedant Alert!

        Two separate quotes:

        You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.


        I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries

        1. Montreal Sean

          Re: I breathe in your general direction...

          Is it bad that I can hear those quotes and their inflections in my head as I read them? :)

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: I breathe in your general direction...

            You spelt k-nnnnnniggets! wrong.

            1. Sam Therapy

              Re: I breathe in your general direction...

              I wave my private parts at your Aunties.

  17. William Towle

    "vaguely sarcastic honorific of bland flattery"?

    "They called me sir", my Dad used to say, "but I think they were spelling it c-u-r"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the Prodigy

    I like to listen to that turned up ear-bleeding-internal-organ-shakingly loud - I don't know why, I'm a very boring 55 year old who has only ever been really drunk a few times and never done any drugs and it's not my normal kinda thing.

    Now, where is my stars and stripes jumper?

    1. X5-332960073452

      Re: Thanks for the Prodigy

      My favourite for that is Diesel Power

  19. Mage Silver badge

    I do mean "Inbox", not Spam

    Rename the folders?

  20. dithomas

    The Breeze and I

    As Tony Bennett didn't sing,

    I left my farts in San Francisco ...

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

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