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back to article Survey outs Britain as nation of tech twits

One in 20 Britons think Steve Jobs is a Division II footballer, six per cent think a virtual hard disk (VHD) is a sexually transmitted disease, and 10 per cent believe a wireless dongle to be a sex toy. Perhaps that last bit is true in a pinch, but it's hard to fathom how Apple's CEO could be mistaken for the redoubtable Steve …

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Paris Hilton

Not surprising

That doesn't surprise me; the last time that i made an impromptu survey of the local pub, ID cards were thought to be a good idea.

It all depends where you do the survey. Online, you're bound to get a bunch with at least a little tech knowledge; those that know their mouse from their elbow.

In the middle of a street/pub/local fish market; the demographic can change.

Paris, because...well I'm sure she knows how to double click her mouse.

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Bill Gates

"Three per cent identified Bill Gates as an American comedian."

Well I always thought Windows was the tech industry's biggest joke. ;o)

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DJV
Happy

Three per cent ...

"Three per cent identified Bill Gates as an American comedian."

Well, I'm with them on that!! Though, arguably, his sidekick, Ballmer, is actually funnier.

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Gold badge
Joke

The root cause of all MS's problems.

I finally understand! Any good comedian needs a good straight man.

All they need to do is post an ad: "Wanted. Solid, sensible executive type to say boring, sensible things while the CEO makes bad jokes and hams it up for laughs. Must be able to keep a straight face when covered in custard. MBA preferred.".

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Sim
Coffee/keyboard

survey me

i will always lie in a manner that amuses me at that time.

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IT Angle

No seriously...

What the hell is a virtual hard disk?

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Silver badge

Agreed

If asked "what's a VHD", I'd struggle. Hell, I'd struggle if they asked me "what's a VMDK" and I use those day to day.

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Boffin

I'm British, so this probably isn't the right answer

...but if I had to guess, either storage space allocated to a user on a network, or a fancy term for a partition?

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Anonymous Coward

The title, woopdeewoop

Afaik it's the HD space you have allocated to a Virtual Machine, same as the vCPUs, the virtual CPUs in your VM

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FAIL

1000 people?

I don't understand how they can take 1000 people (which is a fractional percentage of the population) and draw such damning results from them.

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Sly
Coat

lies, damned lies, and stats

nuff said

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It's called statistics

You only need a small fraction as a sample to provide a relatively accurate result. The difference between 1000 and 10000 will be negligible but 100000 might provide a better result.

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Anonymous Coward

Surveys theory

There's supposed to be a set of classifications that they can use to classify everyone they survey and so x-ref them into a representative sample of the population. If they manage to get enough people stuffed into the appropriate categories, then they can claim that the sample is representative and so extrapolate the results to the general population.

Personally, I am of the opinion that this size of sample is way too small and that the classifications aren't up to the job these days. However, I've only got a First in Statistics, so what do I know?

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Silver badge

Sounds right

>Nine per cent of respondents believe Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the head of MI5.

Damn the secret is out.

>Another five per cent identified Sir Tim as the first British astronaut in space.

You're thinking of Sir Terrence Lambert-Simnel

http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/British_Moon-landing

>Six per cent think phishing is "an angling method used by Eskimos."

Obviously the eskimos moved to Nigeria because the ice melted

>Six per cent believe SaaS (software as a service) was an '80s pop band.

And Kraftwerk is a web framework

>Eleven per cent couldn't name a single social-networking website.

Good - thats a big vote for the inteligence of the British public,

>Three per cent identified Bill Gates as an American comedian.

It's just sysadmins don't get the joke.

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Alert

Who cares?

What does it matter if they don't know who Steve Jobs is? I bet they have heard of Apple though.

I don't buy a TV based on who the CEO of the company is and frankly don't give a toss as long as it is a good product

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And 50 percent of those questioned...

... identified themselves as jokers who lie humorously to stupid surveys.

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Thumb Up

erm

I suspect the survey actually means that roughly 10% of Brits have a sense of humour.

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Anonymous Coward

Good point, what is a virtual hard drive?

One can speculate I suppose, but it is made up and not technically accurate.

Right off to see what people think is a virtual hard drive: a ram disk, 'hard' should not be in there it should be a 'virtual drive', and haven't they heard of tmpfs.

The real problem is those asking the questions don't really know about technology themselves blundering through creating mayhem in their ill educated wake.

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Happy

And 39.67%...

..declined to take the survey seriously and gave the silliest answers they could think of.

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Thumb Up

Not all bad then

# Eleven per cent couldn't name a single social-networking website.

Some hope for the nation, then.

# Three per cent identified Bill Gates as an American comedian.

Three per cent were correct.

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Silver badge

That's terrible

This seems to imply that a large percentage of the rest of the people interviewed actually gave accurate replies to some idiot with a clipboard? What were they thinking of?

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Anyone who interacts with the "Great" British Public....

... will not be surprised.

It's amazing how some of them function socially and economically to be honest.

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IT Angle

A problem?

Does it really matter that a lot of people don't know the answers to these questions? Does it affect the life of an average person or have an impact on mainstream news? Probably not.

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FAIL

Oh come on...

It's a bloody PR agency puff piece. I know it's just a bit of fun but I used to expect more of El Reg...

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Happy

I Must be One Too!

and I thought Ada Lovelace was a porn star :-)

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Silver badge

and...

"One in 20 Britons think Steve Jobs is a Division II footballer, six per cent think a virtual hard disk (VHD) is a sexually transmitted disease, and 10 per cent believe a wireless dongle to be a sex toy."

and 9 out of 10 like messing with people asking them daft questions.

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This is a good thing

"Nine per cent of respondents believe Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the head of MI5."

Indicating that 91% knew who he was?

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Title goes here

I wish... Unfortunately, 20% will think he's something to do with IE, another 20% will think he's a writer for 'The Internet', and all but 4 will say 'Dont Know'

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FAIL

... mostly

According to a BBC story I read the othe day T B-L invented the internet.

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Don't feel too bad

After all, the knobs at Investors Business Daily labored long and furiously under the misapprehension that Stephen Hawking is American.

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Anonymous Coward

It's that machine voice of his, isn't it.

The problem is it doesn't make interjections like "Oh, I say!", compliments like "Good show!", or complete sentences with "What!" and "Don't yer know!" In the absence of all that, what else are they supposed to think? Hawking only has himself to blame, not even wearing a bowler hat!

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Is Steve Jobs really a footbaler?

Maybe I could search for Steve Jobs the plumber, or something.

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Joke

They've just identified that about 5% have sense of humour!

Bill Gates IS and American Comedian!

How did this survey control for people that deliberately put 'wrong' answers for fun in the full knowledge that it's not important at all? - So they can have a bit of fun. Lots of people do that in surveys all the time. It's good to know what they're surveying without giving any useful info. That means doing the survey and putting down a load of bollocks. The Phishing one is another joke. Unless they're interviewing people that don't use the web. Which would be somewhat pointless. Why would they need to know what a social networking site was? It's like expecting a non-phone user to know how to multi-touch a particular model (of phone).

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Who is..

Who is the CEO of:

Intel

IBM

HP

Samsung

Sony

Honda

BAE

Lego

Nokia

Ford

So far I'm 0/10! Some of the biggest companies in the world and no idea who their CEO's are, so a large percentage knowing the CEO's of two American companies is pretty decent.

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Anonymous Coward

I remember when...

...you used to play for Chelsea, then got into trouble for growing a beard! So, how is Pamela?

Anyway, the answer is "Gordon Brown". They all just asked him to do it!

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Big Brother

forthurst the Debianite

It would be helpful wouldn't it if the survey questioners knew the correct answers.

SaaS? That is what I have on my quarter pounder, Reggae Reggae SaaS.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee if you recall boldly went on the Enterprise meeting all sorts of new life forms with American accents..

A VHD is one that yo pay for but never in fact receive.

Bill Gates - wrong again; he became the richest man in the world by becoming irreplaceable as the voice of Kermit the Frog.

Anyhow what's this got to do with playing computer games or am I missing something here?

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Silver badge

Don't despair, Brits :-)

It's equally as bad on this side of the pond. And everywhere else on this dampish rock[1]. People, as a race, are for the most part ineducable.

And I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one who lies on surveys :-)

[1] Well, I haven't been to Antarctica (yet); somehow I suspect the education level and technical ability down there is a little different than a random sample anywhere else ...

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Paris Hilton

Oh dear God...

That said, I Googled "Closer" magazine and browsed the site. "Danielle Lloyd", who? I've heard of Holly Willoughby, but on the other hand, who do I want to leave the CBB house? What?

Oh, right, Celebrity Big Brother, yes? <clicky clicky - c4/bigbro site> Until now (evidently day 13) I had _no_ idea who was in the... what the f....? That's the bloke from Lock Stock &, yes? And hairpiece-Trump's Ex, yes? Haha! In the photo-mosiac, "Katia" looks sweet, but apart from Vinny/Ivana, who the hell are the rest of them?

Point is - the public, all 1000 of them (!), probably don't care who Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are. Given the odd thoughts of what "phishing" means, I'd be interested to know if this was a free-form quiz or a set of "tick the answer you think is most likely" (could El Reg find out?). As for VHDs (what, nobody thought it was a television music channel!?), I know a lot of geeks that call them "images", the VHD terminology being mostly absent. Myself included. Then you aren't tied to pointless restrictions. You can have CD images, disc images, DVD images, floppy images, ghostly images, p()rnographic images <smirk>, the list goes on...

Not able to name a social networking site? I bet a fair few people know *of* Twitter and FaceBook (et al) even if they aren't exactly certain what the point is, or that they are classified as "social networking". I never Twitter but I have a MySpace. I never think "I'm going to network socially". These are just buzz-terms.

Try some better questions:

How often do you check your mail? [every 10 mins, automated]

How often do you Twitter? [never]

How often do you blog? [when I feel like it!]

Your favourite website? [by time spent, this one! :-)]

You start asking "techie" questions, like "what sort of router to you have?" people will be all "WTF?" because we fellow geeks probably installed it ourselves. How many of Joe Public had a man turn up from BT/NTL, plug it in, it works, they've not touched it since or ever wondered what the blinky lights are for...

Seriously... VHD? Why does 99% of the population even _need_ to know what that is?

Paris, for if she was in the BB house, I suspect El Reg would be strangely silent...

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Black Helicopters

Sting

For a brief, paranoid moment i thought this was based on the results of the El Reg Reader

survery!

Then i noticed it was still on-going so they won't have analysed the results yet...

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FAIL

The El Reg reader survey

Tell us what you want from El Reg, they said. Except the questions were all about IT budgets and what you have authority to buy. So actually it was: tell us what ads we should flash at you while you're reading.

Is that what Phishing means?

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Deja vu

Surveys giving curious results? Doesn't anyone remember Peter Cook (may he rest in peace) in the film "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer'?

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WTF?

Oi, stop being so smug!

After 125 years of the automobile, how many of us can fix our own car from base to top? I know i can't! I can put stuff in the right holes, check the bits I am supposed to check, tyres, lights, etc, but other than that I pay someone else to do that.

I was going up the escalator at a well known tube station the other day and I overheard these two old dears, late 50s, shopping trolleys, the works, bother were talking about the wireless router one of them had just bought, talking about the difference between WEP and WPA, setting up MAC addresses and ensuring DHCP was off, all the good stuff. I was utterly engrossed in how much knowledge that had for people from a generation often written off as having no tech knowledge.

My old man, almost in his 70s, still fixes his own machines when required, so not everyone is a complete muppet, surveying 1,000 people out of 60 odd million is not that representative is it?

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Coat

Leisure Suit Larry?

Weren't those the questions you had to 'prove' your over-18 status?

"What is a hard disk?" fnar fnar

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Is it wrong...

...to lie to those asking the qustions in the survey?

Oh well.

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Stupid Stupid Stupid

This "survey" shows nothing useful at all. If you confront people with a multiple choice list and they either don't know or don't care about the answer, they will select one of the choices maybe at random. So if you neither know nor care who Tim B-L is then you just pick one of the alternatives - which may well be "Head of MI5". If you allowed a "don't know" alternative AND people took the survey seriously, I doubt if you would get so many silly headlines. But then the PR company wouldn't achieve its objectives and the thing wouldn't be done.

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Stop

Turn it around ...

... and it's not very impressive is it. 97% didn't think Bill Gates was an American Comedian etc.

So all we have is confirmation of the previously well known fact that a small minority of people get things laughably wrong, and often not unreasonably so, or deliberately. Give a ridiculous choice to select from on a subject which some people are unfamiliar with and someone will select that answer.

How many initially thought The Falklands was off Scotland's coast ? How many still do ?

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Ask a silly question

A VHD? Thats a Volumetric Haptic Display, I thought that would have been obvious, or did the researchers not realise that there is more than one answer to their questions?

I gather much of it was multi choice, given the unnerving silly answers. anyone filling out a technology survey with non tech answers is a joker

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and...?

Giant who cares, frankly. So the general public can't pick the names of CEOs and notable engineers from our industry out and don't know obscure acronyms; how would the IT crowd do at identifying famous people and technical terms from, say, the legal or road engineering.

Slow news day was it?

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FAIL

silly survey

I think we can safely assume that this was a multiple choice survey with ridiculous answers to ensure that those that; don't care, think its funny or occasionally don't know ,will pick them. Thus 1 in 20 believe Steve Jobs played division 2 football...no, they don't.

Still at least 25% of people did not recognise Sir Tim Berners Lee as the founder of the internet - because he wasn't. Shame on the other 75% though, but what can they do when there is no correct answer?

Surveys, bah!

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Eleven per cent couldn't name a single social-networking website.

I find that strangely reassuring!

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