TV and Security

I don’t usually do the “letter from an angry reader” thing. However,  a few weeks ago the UK’s Radio Times (a TV and radio listings guide published by the BBC) printed a program listing that yanked several of my chains (as a writer/editor, but also as a security person), so I wrote to their letters page. I did get a response saying that someone else had pulled them up on the same issue. but they didn’t print it. So I’m taking up (and slightly modifying) a suggestion from Gadi Evron and blogging it. 🙂

‘I was surprised to read in the Radio Times that an NCIS episode screened on 16th February 2007 was about something called “highly secret de-incription software.” I did wonder whether this was a  typographical misreference to a new product for removing virtual inscriptions. However, when I saw the episode in question, it turned out to be a reference to cryptographic software. ‘ ‘Perhaps you could let your sub-editors know that the process for encoding or enciphering things is usually called encryption, not incription?  The process of deciphering or decoding is decryption, not  de-incription, or even de-encryption.’

‘In fact, perhaps the Radio Times could give programmes dealing with computer security some sort of “Grumpy Old Security Geek Health Alert” icon? That way, those of us who have to work with this stuff, and who get irritated by programmes misusing security concepts and jargon, can avoid raising our blood pressure by reading a historical novel instead.’

Since most of the people who publish and read my stuff are in the USA, maybe I should explain my ambiguous usage of the spellings “program” and “programme.” Like most vaguely techie people over here, I obstinately continue to use the UK English spelling “programme” for a TV or Radio broadcast, a printed concert brochure, and so on, but use the US spelling when referring to code.  (And yes, I do use disk for computer media and disc for everything else that requires me to refer to something flat and circular.)

Except that when I originally sent this mail to the Radio Times, I had some kind of a psychoneural blip and used both spellings in different places to refer to a broadcast. Well, as Emerson said, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” But perhaps RT were keeping me on the straight and narrow.  And those who live in glass houses should check their own spelling when writing grumpy letters about other people’s…


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