back to article Foil snack food bags make a decent Faraday cage, judge finds

An Australian electrician has failed in an effort to regain his job after a judge ruled he hid a work-issued GPS-equipped PDA in a foil snack food bag to avoid being tracked. Mr Tom Colella claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job as an electrician, after someone ratted him out to the boss for playing golf during working …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Joke

    Colella is now an Uber driver...

    Good luck putting a foil bag over the car !

    1. Tikimon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Colella is now an Uber driver...

      That sentence seems rather harsh.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Colella is now an Uber driver...

        Hey if you can't do the time then don't do the crime

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Works for Uber now'...

      In the well paid Greyball and Waymo intrusion section...

  2. jake Silver badge

    "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

    Something to be avoided, then? Ta for the advice.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

      Twisties? Cheetohs?

      Kneel before our Wotsits, Colonies!

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

        Sure, kneel before the Wotsits. But only in order to pray for thanksgiving that better snack foods are available - that don't turn your hands, mouth and insides radioactive yellow.

        Surely the Quaver is the better choice of crap "cheesy" crispy thing here? Although I think I'd prefer a pickled onion Monster Munch right now.

        So many yummy crisps, so little time.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

          Just avoid the Scampi Nik Nak's the smell doesn't leave your fingers for ages. Even after the first time you wash your hands it lingers on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

            @Scampi Nik Nak's

            Yeah that's what she said

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "They're a lot like Cheetohs. Only better."

            "the smell doesn't leave your fingers for ages. Even after the first time you wash your hands it lingers on."

            I used to have a girlfriend like that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's food for thought.

  4. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Faraday

    Being a surname Faraday should be capitalised. Have some respek

    1. John Arthur

      Re: Faraday

      and it should have three 'a's

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Faraday

        and it should have three 'a's

        Faaarady?

        No - that doesn't work..

      2. Gustavo Fring
        Coat

        Re: Faraday

        Aye, aye, ...aye (said in a Scottish accent)

  5. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Has anybody actually tested this?

    In theory it could work, but I'd be surprised if doing this would actually stop a cellular device working, particularly if you weren't going the extra mile and sealing the edges with conductive tape,

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

      Er... it'll work just fine.

      Just twist the top closed.

      Hell, you can try it yourself with your phone or any other device.

      A thin layer or metal in all but one direction will cut all the radio transmissions except in that direction. No GPS sats in that direction (i.e. pointing along the road)? No GPS triangulation. No cell tower? No cell signal.

      It's entirely feasible, easily tested, and quite effective.

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

        Hell, you can try it yourself with your phone or any other device.

        I would have, but I didn't have a crisp packet big enough to contain a 5.5 inch phone and twist the top shut.

        1. david bates

          Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

          A shiny anti-static bag will do just as well. Just fold the top over.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

            Or just use two foil crisp packets overlapped - one over the top, one over the bottom.

            1. Ledswinger Silver badge

              Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

              I'll let you mix your phone with the gease, salt and food particles....

              1. Steve K Silver badge

                Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

                mix your phone with the gease

                It would probably fly North for winter if you did that? That would confuse the GPS tracking until Spring.

                1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                  Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

                  It would probably fly North for winter if you did that?

                  Unless they are Canada Geese. They fly south for the winter (as their abundant presence in our local park can attest).

                  And they pretty quickly work out that people standing by the lake with plastic bags means food. I try and tell the geese that bread is bad for them but they don't seem to care.

              2. VinceH Silver badge

                Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

                "I'll let you mix your phone with the gease, salt and food particles...."

                Not a problem. Put the phone in something else before it goes in the crisp packets. A (clean) sandwich bag will do the trick.

              3. Glenturret Single Malt

                Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

                I'll let you mix your phone with the gease, salt and food particles....

                Turn the bags inside out!!

          2. Mage Silver badge

            anti-static bag will do just as well

            Some will block RF. Just as some energy saving coatings on windows do, or some flat screens have a transparent RF blocking layer, otherwise RF inference from them is dreadful.

        2. shedied

          Re: Has anybody actually tested this?

          I believe you have to munch on those thingies inside, before putting your phone in there. Or get a bag of those kettle-baked (and nongreasy) Lays potato chips.

  6. Huw D

    Cheetohs?

    a) I think it's Cheetos.

    b) Wotsits or GTFO.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Cheetohs?

      You beat me to it Huw, have a thumbs up.

      'A bit like Cheetos' indeed.

      1. PNGuinn Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Cheetohs? @Dabooka

        Don't you mean crumbs up?

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Cheetohs?

      @ Huw D

      Chester is grateful...

    3. elDog Silver badge

      Re: Cheetohs?

      In the fine ole USofA we spell it DrumpOs. Orange on the outside, grease and gook on the inside. Oh, so good - especially when you're starved for reality.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I converted a shed into a garden office, insulated with celotex (insulation with foil on both sides), then wondered why the wi-fi reception was bad then remembered Faraday. Installed a powerline hot-spot.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Wonder how that affected e.g. Grenfell?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Not "Grenfell the disaster" but "Grenfell" as in a large tower block that was suddenly covered in aluminium sheeting supported by a steel skeleton.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      D'oh!

      Years ago I lined my loft with a foil insulator, somehow completely ignoring the TV aerial strung between two beams.

      There have been very few days when I have felt more stupid.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yummy AC

      so now you've become a microwaved entree? viz. http://www.emfnews.org/Car-Radiation-Cell-Phones-Faraday-Cage-and-Cancer.html and https://www.electricsense.com/148/could-the-emfs-in-your-car-kill-you/ 'To deal with this issue you need to measure the EMFs in you car [shed'. A multi-function EMF meter will enable you to measure the magnetic fields and RF radiation in your car and indeed in your home.'

  8. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Colella is now an Uber driver.

    Seems like he's finally found a good fit for a Company - neither one of them likes playing by the rules, both of them do whatever they can to get around the rules, they both prefer going to Court/Tribunals instead of facing up to what they did, and then both get a good smack down from said Court/Tribunal when it all comes out in the wash..

    Maybe we're looking at Uber's next CEO. He's certainly got the work ethics right...

  9. philthane

    tags?

    Have any naughty boys tried wrapping their ankle tags in crisp packets yet?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: tags?

      If it was programmed with any kind of sensible logic, loss of signal would be the same as removal of the tag.

      Otherwise just running out of range would stop it working properly.

      Tags are only really used to constrain you to a certain area (e.g. your home), so they have the opportunity to make sure the signal is fine for that purpose and that any drops can only really be attributable to tampering or obscuring the signal.

    2. Olafthemighty

      Re: tags?

      Yup - crisp packets, cool bags, bathtubs - you name it! Signal loss does count as a possible violation and requires a visit from a bloke with a huge aerial on his company car.

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: tags?

      Have any naughty boys tried wrapping their ankle tags in crisp packets yet?

      You may find some of these posts of interest.

  10. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Phone in microwave oven

    If you put your phone in a microwave then dial the phone's number it will ring. Makes you wonder how good the oven shielding is. Should be obvious but warning anyway: if you try this yourself at home do not power on the microwave oven during your test.

    1. Andytug

      Re: Phone in microwave oven

      Think the oven shielding is tuned to match the frequency the oven uses, so any other frequency would probably get through.

      Most microwaves are a solid metal case on three sides anyway so you'd have to be lucky and the mast be facing the 4th side?

      Or....you're just trying to make people stick their phones in the microwave for the lulz, as a certain percentage may accidentally switch it on....

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Most microwaves are a solid metal case on three sides

        Shielded on SIX sides. There is a RF porous window that blocks damp that has the Magnetron cavity behind it. The shielding isn't tuned, but will have an upper limit.

        The holes at the lamp and the door screen will block 3GHz and lower frequencies at least, maybe as high as 5GHz.

        I've not tried a phone or a wifi device. The shielding is not perfect (I've tested leakage out), so perhaps if there is a very strong mobile signal it will work.

        1. shedied

          Re: Most microwaves are a solid metal case on three sides

          My co-workers said Put some gingko leaves around the microwave to keep little bugs out. We even have the leaves in a little plastic tray beside the oven, which is kept inside a kitchen cabinet. After several days, the bugs seemed oblivious of those leaves, which were very effective elsewhere.

          I've deduced that the shielding on the microwave works -- and the bugs have NOT found the hole with the lamp but they DID figure out that the hole where the spindle goes in can protect them effectively against Mother Nature's gingko-leaf deterrent. I told my co-workers that the bugs are PROOF that there is no radiation leak from the microwave to worry about -- and that the bugs are quite safe in their hidey-hole. Put as much leaves as you want, puny humans. We'll be here, all nice and warm and immune from those so-called 'death rays.'

      2. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Phone in microwave oven

        :you're just trying to make people stick their phones in the microwave for the lulz, as a certain percentage may accidentally switch it on...."

        The scary part would be the lot that would dial the phone number on the microwave buttons................

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Phone in microwave oven

          Did people REALLY drill holes in iPhones?

          1. Uffish

            Re: Phone in microwave oven

            The earlier commenter is right, the slight gap around the door on a kitchen microwave lets RF energy in and out with relatively little attenuation except at the operating frequency of the microwave. Wideband shielding would be too expensive and is not needed for safety.

            If you mangle the microwave door edges you risk microwaving your eyeballs and other parts but phone reception in the microwave will not be much affected..

  11. TRT Silver badge

    Problem not bunking off...

    He went playing golf. And THAT is an activity reserved for management. Inappropriate aspirations.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Problem not bunking off...

      Maybe he had presidential aspirations.

    2. The First Dave

      Re: Problem not bunking off...

      Does anyone know what the grounds of his appeal were?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Problem not bunking off...

        Does anyone know what the grounds of his appeal were?

        The local links?

  12. wolfetone Silver badge

    Monday Tuesday Faraday's

    Wednesday Thursday Faraday's

    Friday Saturday Faraday's

    The weekend comes, I didn't work

    Because I was too busy playing Golf

    These Faraday's are yours and miiiiiiiiiiiiiine

    Those Happy Faraday's

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Doubing down on stupid

    So he did a stupid thing, not being as clever as he thought he was and then doubled down on it when caught.

    Good riddance. Future Darwin Award candidate right there.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Doubing down on stupid

      "Doubling"

      Damn conference calls.

  14. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Stop

    golf

    I deeply offended two guys that I met who were wearing identical outdoor jackets. After looking at the jacket's logos I asked if it were a car dealership. Apparently these were top of the range golfing apparel. Oops!

    Anyway, I once heard golf described as "an abomination" by a comedienne, I agree with her.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: golf

      Golf is defined as a good walk spoiled by some piddling about with a ball.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: golf

      Golf: The designer sport.

      (I was going to say Golf: The Apple of sports but that seemed a bit mean even to Apple).

      1. AdamWill

        Re: golf

        Golf's a bit like skiing, in that the most expensive outfits and equipment either look a) extremely dull or b) hideous.

    3. WolfFan Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: golf

      Invented by Scotsmen so as to have something to do while waiting for a sheep to become available.

      Yes, the tweed one, there's a nice lass.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: golf

      Someone I know joined a golf club and after becoming a full member invited me for a drink in the club house. I turned up and called him because he was not waiting outside for me as promised. He said he was just finishing playing a round (although if he'd said playing around that would have been accurate too) and to go inside. I did so and was told off for using the (unmarked) Ladies doorway as opposed to the Men's. The atmosphere whilst having the drink was somewhat destroyed by the other people in the bar. The amount of tasteless clothing in the room was eye-watering and the number of objectionable people was very high. Also there weren't any women as they weren't allowed in this particular bar, only in certain bars, couldn't vote on all resolutions at the AGM.

      I haven't ever been back despite the occasional invitation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: golf

        I do find that a lot of golf clubs (places not sporting equipment) are doing their damnedest to keep the Victorian era alive and the snobbery at some of them is palpable. I believe most exhibiting this behaviour though are the try-hards and wannabees. The reason for this belief is that I won a night's accommodation and spa treatment for myself and the missus at the Stoke Park Club (think Goldfinger on the 18th or the country club in Layer Cake) and one of the nicest, most polite people I've ever come across was a gentleman in his 60s who was a member who had a conversation with us whilst plenty were wondering who the "non-belongers were" (we were dressed tidily enough and did nothing knowingly to stand out). As we went from the main building to the spa we saw him climbing into his brand spanking new high end Bentley (non-footballer variety) to head home. I guess he wasn't as insecure as some of the others there. I've also noted similar behaviour in more down to earth regions as well where membership of the local course is seen by some as the pinnacle of societal standing.

  15. Milo Tsukroff
    Coat

    Any shoplifter knows Faraday

    Any shoplifter knows that a booster bag must be lined with foil, makes a great Faraday cage. Keeps those pesky security tags from going off when whisking the loot out the store entrance.

    I'll get my coat. Mine's the one with the foil-lined pockets.

  16. handleoclast Silver badge
    Coat

    New-fangled gimickry

    Wrap the phone in kitchen foil, like your grandfather did back in the old days. Aluminized plastic film is for hipsters.

  17. hatti

    Should have used a Wotsits bag, schoolboy error

  18. DougS Silver badge

    He could have easily avoided being caught

    Seems like they caught him because his access card wasn't used on the jobs he was supposed to be at, and his PDA was at the wrong place or incommunicado. Why didn't he use his card to access his work site, hide his PDA somewhere on site, play golf, then return to pick up his PDA? When he showed up in the morning he could call the office as required.

    Unless he needed the card to leave the work site, it would just show him entering at 8am or whatever, and then entering again after his round of golf - maybe around 1pm so he met a friend for lunch and that's when he returned.

    Apparently the fact he wasn't ever present on the work site he was supposed to be at wasn't a problem here, or that would have been what's noticed - i.e. "the tasks we assigned to you were never even started, let alone completed". If they decide someone is "working" just because they are on site, what's to stop them from finding a hidden closet and sleeping all day, or bringing a laptop and playing games?

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: He could have easily avoided being caught

      what's to stop them from finding a hidden closet and sleeping all day

      Story told by a mate who's been a sparky for many years, mostly on contract work for various large outfits. On one site there was a nice corner in the substation that was warm - but most importantly, impossible for the boss to find you without you hearing him coming first. I forget some of the details, but IIRC there was something about a paging system (aka Tannoy in the same way that vacuum cleaner are often called "hoovers") and being able to hear the announcements and call whoever wanted to speak to them using the phone conveniently located in the room - this was long before phone systems that told anyone the number that was calling !

      One day someone got caught out. They answered a page and informed the boss that they were in a certain part of the site - only to have the boss walk in through the door brandishing one of the new fangled cordless phones that were just appearing.

  19. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Playing golf during working hours

    Lately, that's become part of the job description for the U.S. president.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Playing golf during working hours

      Best one still has to be Stan O'Neal. Whilst Merrill Lynch was haemorrhaging billions he improved his handicap...

      https://seekingalpha.com/article/51415-while-merrill-was-writing-down-8-billion-stan-oneal-was-playing-golf

  20. Toni the terrible
    Joke

    foil

    It's a pity I have never seen a snack bag suitable to replace my tinfoil hat, there are some big ones; but they don't do well in the washing machine when I want to clear out the grease (not just from my hair). However, seems reasonable to keep my wallet or purse nice and RF protected.

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