back to article Microsoft man saves drowning woman

The cries of a drowning woman were missed by headphone-sporting joggers, leaving her to be rescued by a Microsoft worker. Matt Drury, a security guard at Microsoft's Kings Meadow HQ was cycling home along the towpath when heard a woman's gasp followed by a splash. But the Microsoft man was beaten to the dive by a man called …


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  1. Steve Evans

    I know I'm going to sound really old...

    ...but the volume some of today's youth have their personal stereos (told you I was going to sound really old) set to is unbelievable.

    Often it is so loud that I can identify the track from several seats along in a moving train. If they're near me, and I recognise the tune, I will start silently mouthing the words. This has even succeeded in getting the volume turned down a few times.

    There was a girl the other day who couldn't have been out of her teens who was sitting next to me on the train. The volume sounded perfect if the ear buds had been in my ears, but they weren't, they were in hers! She's going to be deaf as a post before she's 30, if she's not already.

    Although the annoyance of loud headphones is nothing compared to those who sit on a train listening to music on their phone via the speaker! With all the frequencies from 500Hz to 3Khz rendered perfectly, and the others lost to the world! Is their hearing that bad that they can't hear how terrible music from an 8mm speaker sounds?

    And it's always complete crap too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Worst example I heard

      I was at one of the small London stations where you have just two railway lines alongside each other and a platform on either side. I could hear this guys music emanating from his headphones quite clearly from the opposite platform - it was pretty staggering.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Falling on deaf ears

        I see a fair few under 30s during the course of a normal ENT clinic and one of the questions I have to ask is "Have you ever been exposed to loud sound through work or leisure activities?" This is almost invariably met by a cheery "No", followed by "Except for going to nightclubs once week and using my iPod on full volume but that's normal, right?"

        It might be "normal" but I guarantee its doing your ears no favours at all. But on the plus side, it keeps me employed in future. My best advice would be to get some headphones which completely cover the ear or if you have to use earphones, use ones with a rubber tip on the end that completely fill the ear canal and shut out as much external noise as possible.

      2. George Nacht

        Just another example

        I can second that. Once, in a train, I had to ask a girl to turn the volume in her headphones down - and she was sitting in the next COMPARTMENT. I admit, I did it for her own protection, as well as mine, I am kinda weird this way. The fact, that she wondered, how could have I heard it, told me that the damage to her hearing has been done already.

        It is nothing new. The doctors warned us about hearing problems, occuring amongst young people, since eighties.

        I may be wrong, but sometimes I believe it does not stop with hearing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I could hear the noise coming from the earbuds in the paper boy's ears through the (single layer) glass window on the first (not ground) floor from across the street. That was some thirty metres or so away. This also was some score years or so back, at the height of the "gabber" craze over in the Netherlands.

        Not quite that long ago, had to work with someone who was both stone deaf, apparently from partying, and arrogant as in any requests for information were first hopelessly misunderstood and then countered with a "well if you don't know $obscure_technical_detail by heart you don't belong here" (for a yearly event run by volunteers lasting less than a week). That was doubly annoying.

        My grandmother is getting a bit older, losing hearing, and complained about family pushing her to go and get some "ears", hearing aids. I do sympathise with that sort of hearing loss but it's better to get those things early rather than becoming cut-off and lonely. She still doesn't like to admit missing things but at least I usually know when I have to restate things a bit louder before she has to ask. She does get my sympathy; that other guy, not so much.

        On another note, crashing helicopters might not make that much noise. Without motor that noise goes and without the power behind the flapping the chopping noise also diminishes. And one generally doesn't expect large, heavy objects to descend onto you while walking to the mailbox. I think that would've been easy to miss even without earbuds in, though it might equally well have been a factor--not enough information to say either way.

    2. Annihilator

      Not a sign of loudness

      How much you can hear of a person's music is seldom an indicator of how loud the headphones are turned up, but how crap/cheap the headphones (or, normally, earbuds) are. None of the last (I'd guess) 3 sets of headphones/buds leaked audio to the outside world.

      1. Liam Johnson

        re: Not a sign of loudness

        Yes the quality of the headphone does make a difference to how much another person can hear.

        If I can't hear your headphones then that might be because you are listening to quiet music or because they are good headphones and don't emit much sound, in which case I can't tell how load they are for you.

        But if another person can hear it well from a distance then it is definitely too loud 1cm from you eardrum. Unless the headphones as so badly made that they emit much more sound to the outside than to the inside, which is unlikely.

        1. moonface

          Kids today!!

          Dangers of loud noise it's all "in one ear and out the other"

    3. SirDigalot

      I agree,

      When i was a wee nipper, i did not really think about it either, the louder the better, although things never seemed as loud in those days, i remember sony had their AVLS on the walkman and discman, i think most players have a similar thing these days to limit volume to "safe" levels, though buggered if i know where it is! My kids play their music way too loud, moreso the 14 yr old then the older one, though it annoys me they will be walking round the house with their earbuds in, even if the TV is on or they are doing something, always needing entertainment, very sad.

      Now i am older with constant tinitus and partial hearing loss in one ear, i realise how dumb i was ( of course working in a blues club for a few years as a sound guy really did not help, with SPL at 120dba+ @ the sound desk and NO ONE in the club! (and the musicians got annoyed when i told them to turn it down) but i do attribute hearing loss to stupidity in youth too, no matter what i tell my kid though she never listens, we all know better at that age!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I used to work in lighting in my 20s, constant exposure to loud noise with no ear protection (I was in my 20s, therefore invincible) has rendered my hearing knackered. I can hear people talking to me in a quiet environment, hell I can even hear a pin drop, but any background noise and it's almost impossible to hear what people are saying, even close up. This is apparently classic noise damage to hearing.

        I'd tell everyone using personal stereos, but I know that like me at that age, they're invincible...

    4. Arctic fox

      It is not always ones choice.

      Before I made a complete change in the direction of my life I spent twenty years as a tube-train driver. The stock we drove was from 1938 and 1959, the noise in the cab was unbelievable even thought the "authorities" at the time insisted at there was no problem. It is not simply that "the young" won't listen - employers and others turn a "deaf ear" as well. Fortunately my hearing is not *that* bad and my lady is reasonably kind in putting up with, "what? eh? four o'clock!"

    5. The Envoy

      Hear! Hear!

      (Message from the time of volume and hi-fi sensebility. I blame it all on mp3!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Radio 4

        You know you're getting old when you listen to Radio 4 on your phone instead of music.

        Yes, I do that.

  2. Andus McCoatover

    That's seriously good to read. Great outcome.

    Good folks.

    I see it here. Finns are supossed to be reticent, but they've always got a phone stuck to their ear. But, they can't multitask. Get hit by traffic. Distressing.

    (OK, it was a "Microsoft man". S'ppose if id have been a Linux man he'd just waddled over.. Nah, Andus - stoppit)

  3. Solomon Grundy


    The MS guy hates his Zune but he's not allowed to have an iPod. Otherwise he probably wouldn't have heard her either.

    1. Miek

      Some people ...

      ... really know how to spoil a Zune joke. There's supposed to be a punch-line Soloman!

      1. Bilgepipe

        How about...

        The guy has a Zune, but all his music was on PlaysForSure....

  4. Scott Broukell

    If .....

    it had been an Adobe employee to the rescue - he would have been there in a flash :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      And then the pan

      And then the pan

  5. Francis Fish

    The noise is from the iCrap headphones Apple supply

    Seriously, the noise you hear is because the 'phones Apple supply are really poor quality and not very good at actually sending the noise into the person's ear. I do agree some people have their music really loud - but if the phones weren't crap you wouldn't know - and they wouldn't need to have them set so loud either.

    Cue Fanboi rants ...

  6. Brangdon

    The cries of a drowning woman

    From the rest of the account, it seems she didn't cry out as she was drowning. She merely gasped quietly as she fell in, and then her head was under water so she remained quiet. I mention it because many people don't know what drowning looks and sounds like. It's not like on TV. Even when they get their head above water they are usually too busy trying to breath to cry for help. Knowing the difference might matter one day.

  7. Rebajas
    Black Helicopters

    iPod users...

    I'm surprised iPod users actually hear any of their tunes, most of the sound seems to leak out :)

    1. johnnytruant

      drowning doesn't look like drowning

      I've been on loads of first-aid courses and this has never once been mentioned.

      Take five minutes to read the above page, you might save someone's life as a result.

    2. stu 4

      nope - I'm with you

      As a died in the wool fanboi (5 macs and counting) I agree - they should pull Jobs in front of the Hague for crimes against humanity - the ubiquitous iphone headphones are the scrurge of the last 5 years - personally I don't give a flying shit how loud some muppet wants to pump music into his ears - as long as I don't have to listen to it from 10 feet away. Unfortunately, even today when they could easily have rubber earbud earphones supplied they insist on the same shite open back crappy earplugs they've used for the last 10 years. nail him up.. thats what I say...

      1. Red Bren

        @ stu 4

        "As a died in the wool fanboi"

        My condolences. But I'm impressed that Apple products allow you to communicate from "the other side". It's good to know I'll be able to take my macbook with me when I shuffle off this mortal coil...

      2. Havin_it
        Thumb Up


        Wow, good info to know. I got into "aquatic distress" once as a child, and I'm damn glad that's as far as I got as I was still able to grab hold of a lilo passed by another swimmer. I'm still skittish around water and undergo a similar kind of reaction if I plunge into cold water, even wearing a lifejacket.

        That makes me a lot less likely to be an effective rescuer, but having read the above, at least I'll be a better pair of eyes. Well publicised, that man!

        PS - damn, could TV suck any more?

      3. 100113.1537
        Thumb Up

        Thanks for this

        Not quite what I expect from reading El Reg comments - but thank you for this information and the link.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple fans

        But surely that's the whole point of Apple products these days?

        It isn't so much the functionality, but displaying to *others*.

        "I am on a train and I have a MacBook. How trendy!"

        "Look at me pulling up trendy apps on my iPhone / iPad!"

        "Listen to the trendy music I listen to on my iPod!"

        Proper noise cancelling ear-canal buds are no use because then no-one will notice that you have white Apple headphones spewing Mr Scruff (or whatever the trendies listen to these days) into the audible spectrum of those surrounding.

        1. Dana W

          Not really, no.

          I've had iPods since gen 2, the first thing I generally do is throw the Apple earbuds away, and buy "blue" Sony Isolators. I used to buy higher end earbuds, but after you have caught your third pair of $100 earbuds on something and seen them ripped in half, subsidizing the insane prices of high end gets old.

          I've got three Macs, two iPods and and an iPhone. I have NO white earbuds! And I don't want to "share" my music with the passersby.

          I used to save the white Apple earbuds for an emergency, but one day my Sonys were lost and I was forced to USE them. I don't want that to accidentally happen again. Better no earbuds at all.

          And I see lots of non Apple devices being used publicly, why are there no diatribes about the "trendiness" of that?"

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            RE: Not really, no.

            Being more fo the (original) Sony Walkman generation, I have always shunned earbud headphones for proper full-cup headphones. I used to get some strange looks for wearing those full-size, noise-cancelling earphones many years ago when they weren't as common, but it did probably save my hearing from the ravages of too much rock metal. Problem is, I would have been just as unlikely to have heard the poor woman with my ear-saving headphones as the joggers using earbuds, so they're just as bad for general awareness, maybe even worse as they truly do block out all background noise. Instead of rubbishing earbuds, maybe we should do more to limit the habit of "isolating" ourselves from our surroundings in public with music devices.

      5. John 180


        A link of the highest quality.

        I really had no clue at all until I read that.

      6. sabba
        Thumb Up


        Good post. I wouldn't have recognised a drowning person.

      7. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        Thanks for that link.

        I would not actually exist were it not for the fact that my great-grandmother (a lady from a family of many generations of seafarers and coastal fishermen in North Norway) recognised the fact that my nine year old future mother was in trouble and pulled her out before anyone else in their beach party was aware that there was anything wrong.

        1. Thomas 4

          Nice Link

          I actually learned something useful today. Who'd have thought something good would have come out of an article with "Mircosoft" in the title?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft's Kings Meadow HQ?

    Not sure why you've referred to it as Microsoft's Kings Meadow HQ - I work next to Microsoft's Thames Valley Park HQ, and it's a good mile from Kings Meadow where the incident actually took place.

  9. George 24


    It had been a Google employee he would have placed an ad for personal floating devices.

  10. b166er

    She's lucky

    The security guy in question did what anyone would have I suppose, but most of the security at TVP put on this bouncer-like thuggish facade.

    I've wondered before, when visiting MS, how different the world would be if their platform was as secure as their security.

  11. Matt Bucknall

    Paying the price

    When I was a 'yoof', I too was guilty of listening to music with headphones way too loud, although not on public transport because back then portable CD players were way too expensive and I never really felt the desire for a cassette walkman.

    Now I'm in my early 30s, I can definitely tell my hearing is on the way out. It's not such a big deal right now, although my ability to isolate individual sounds in a noisy environment is alarmingly bad (I'm useless at conversations in the pub) and the high-end frequency response of my left ear is somewhat worse than my right ear. I expect by the time I'm in my 50s, I might need a hearing aid.

    Kids now listen to loud music way more than I did. Antisocial implications aside, I think we're going to have an awful lot of very deaf 40 year old men and women walking around in 20-25 years time. Thinking ahead, maybe I should consider developing a hearing-aid app for the iPhone....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Semi-deaf from baby

      I've been semi-deaf from a baby, and you become *very* concious of anything that can damage what little hearing fidelity you have left.

      Thus, my volume is never more than 50%, and I *always* combine earplugs and the quietest helmet on the market when motorbiking.

      If only the yoof would appreciate their own hearing more. The constant muffled, 'underwaterness' is bearable, but the tinitus is deafening (pun intended) when it's truly silent.

      Though being semi-deaf does have it's advantages - it means you don't hear that tinny, crappy toonz leaking out of *their* earphones...

      Megaphone - 'cos my wife needs one sometimes.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sounds like a Ballmer PR stunt to me

    are we sure SB wasn't visiting the uk and was so outraged to see joggers with iPods and not Zunes that he pushed the nearest one in the water and then called the press?

  13. Anonymous Coward


    ..they did hear her, just being normal ignorant southerners, they'd rather let her drown than have to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

    1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

      Re: Nah....

      Possibly, but if it had been a river oop north then she would have died of hypothermia long before drowning.

    2. Scott 19

      I'm a Southerner

      And I always rescue damsels in distress, generally by leaving the pub.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      That's a vile calumny on Southerners

      It's obvious what really happened: the joggers did see the woman, but also saw she wasn't using an iPod and so considered her not worth saving.

  14. Erroneous Howard

    Re:I know I'm going to sound really old...

    Sound leakage from headphones is more often a case of shit quality headphones than pure loudness in itself. A decent set of phones, particularly in-ear ones, would allow them to listen to music at deafening levels without being audible from the outside. They also have the advantage of allowing you to listen to the music at a quieter volume as they cancel out some of the background noise. Although I'm completely with you on the fact that it sounds shit anyway.

  15. Richard 41
    Thumb Up


    Nice nod to Fish and his chums there, thanks Bill!

    1. TBush

      Wrong phrase

      Shame you didn't use the 'aural contraceptive' phrase from the next line of the song though.

    2. Rob 5
      Thumb Up

      Yes indeedy!

      Brought back memories, that did!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Wrong title

    The text say that they guy named Chris who workd for Yell got there first....

    Lazy lazy lazy.....

    There again, I'm sitting at a desk looking out over Kings Meadow from the... Yell offices.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Are you sure.......

    .... she wasn't hit by a flying chair and got knocked in?

  18. Paul_Murphy

    Noise-cancelling earphones.

    Since no one has mentioned these I can thoroughly recommend them as a way to hear music at a comfortable level and still miss little of what's going on outside.

    I currently have some Nokia 905i's and they are good, but would be better if they were over-the-ear rather than sitting on top.


    1. Cameron Colley

      If they're noise cancelling how come you don't miss what's going on?

      If you can still hear people shouting, tube announcements and the like then they're not doing a good job of noise cancelling are they?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Noise cancellation

        Technically, speech etc is not noise (though if you've heard a get-together of my wife and her cronies, you'd disagree).

        These noise cancellation 'phones only remove ambient constant frequency stuff...traffic noise, wind, sitting in a train/plane with engine & wind noise etc.

        Works by emitting a negative frequency to the frequency received; it's not clever enough to do anything more than that...yet.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I assume he wasn't MS support

    Lady: "Help! I'm having trouble with this canal!"

    Microsoft support: "OK. Have you tried getting out and then getting back in again?"

    1. Bilgepipe


      Hey, it looks like you're drowning. Would you like help with that?

      - Yes, I'd like to call for help

      - No, I'll drown

      - Explore more drowning options online

      If you choose Yes, you'll be prompted to upgrade your life jacket and fall in again.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You love Timmy's mallet

    I'm afraid Timmy Mallett already holds the patent to this, though is willing to exchange a licence for free use of DOS*:

    * If you don't know what DOS is, either look it up in a museum or use it and wait for Microsoft's lawyers to come and explain it to you...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @AC - wrong title

    Ah but where would the IT angle be in that?

  22. Andy Jones


    Did she catch a virus? If yes, then that was from the Microsoft man!

    /mines the one with the AV hanky in the pocket.


    On another note, the headline is wrong, or typical Microsoft history rewrite. The Microsoft man helped save her, he didn't do it by himself. As you state a Yell employee jumped in the water first.

    So, following on from the Yell employee jumping in the water first to rescue her, the Microsoft employee embraced the situation and also jumped in to rescue her. What next, how will he extend and extinguish the situation?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Was that a Blue Scream of Death ?

    "... Matt Drury, a security guard at Microsoft's Kings Meadow HQ was cycling home along the towpath when heard a woman's gasp followed by a splash..."

    Are you sure that he didn't hear a "Blue Scream of Death" (sic) ?

  24. Fugazi
    Thumb Up


    ..for the Marillion mention! Headphones, a great way to abort pregnant conversations...

  25. Brian 62

    No sound

    Drowning people don't make noise, since they generally have their mouths full of water and are using their arms to try to stay afloat instead of splashing.

    Don't let the facts get in the way of a good headline though.

  26. raving angry loony

    wrong title

    So, in fact, it was the guy from Yell who was there first and really did the rescue, but as usual the guy from Microsoft is getting the credit from the press because they got there eventually?

  27. Charles Manning

    I doubt he was a Microsoft Man

    He was a security guard. These functions are normally outsourced to security companies.

  28. Dick Emery


    I have chronic tinnitus and high frequency hearing loss since 2006 (Accompanied a friend to a nightclub which I did not normally do). Believe me you do NOT want that. I was suicidal for a while. Yes it can affect you that way especially when you are trying to get some sleep.


    Expect the 'yoof' to totally ignore the warning though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Luckily I've had mine since I was 2-3 years old (caused by surgery to - ironically - improve my hearing).

      40 years of adaptation I barely notice it anymore, until you see the massive dip in the hearing test chart (where the test frequency = tinnitus frequency). I can tune into it and listen when I want to, though it's hardly Radio 4 is it?

  29. moonface

    Microsoft Man

    When I first read the title I imagined an unfit, portly and suited John Hodgman diving in and doing the job, while a smart cool looking Justin Long stood around gormless.

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