May 2009 Archives
Sat nav users could find themselves up several creeks without a paddle soon because it seems the satellite network that makes it all happen, could be falling to pieces.
Let's hope that the GPS network is too important for the
Online shopping is a bit of a lucky dip it seems, with nearly half of online grocery shoppers getting the wrong goods.
OK, 45% of those surveyed by Which? got more or less the right thing, but 15% ended up with the completely wrong goods.
Getting a can of vanilla air freshener instead of vanilla ice-cream could really put shoppers off doing it online.
Anyone who has tasted vanilla air freshener will tell you it's a poor substitute.
Wolfram Alpha, the world's latest search engine, uses clever maths to tell you things you don't already know. In the name of research, Downtime asked Wolfram Alpha about Satan. Apparently Satan can be represented by a mathematical formula.
A US teenager has been charged with attempted armed robbery at an internet café, but may also be charged with destroying evidence after he ate his "weapon".
All police were left to photograph was the empty peel of a banana the would-be robber held under his shirt when demanding money from staff at the internet café.
John Szwalla was overpowered by brave web surfers, but downed the banana before police arrived. Perhaps he was planning to a-peel the charge for lack of evidence.
Calls for an online system that puts all MP expenses claims on the web in real-time could be a money spinner for a government desperate for cash. This could be more popular than Google. They could call it Gravy Train. Imagine being able to see what MPs are spending your money on in real time.
They could sell adverts on a website with this sort of information on it.
Downtime was surprised to hear that pornography can threaten your online security indirectly. Apparently too many people use porn names for password. But because people are sharing these names, which are a combination of your first pets name and the name of the first street you lived on, criminals can work get hold of passwords. We are going to carry out an experiment using the name Buckingham Corgi.
Some (all?) of this may be no-one's business but yours, and the European Commission thinks so too. It has just passed a "strong recommendation" that consumers control what information goes onto the chips and how it is used. Anyone wanting to exploit the undoubted benefits of RFID should take note.
The full text is here.
Medical students at Imperial College London will get to train in a virtual hospital where it will not matter if they make mistakes and kill their patients. The college says the virtual hospital provides a way of learning from mistakes, but training without consequences could be a problem when students feel nothing about losing a patient when they start practising in the real world.
Shoppers at a hundred Tesco stores were forced to stand in long queues because, you guessed it, they were upgrading the software on the checkout tills in 100 locations. Tesco said the glitch affected only a minority of stores, but clearly that it not where its computer woes ended. Tesco was fined £31,000 for selling out-of-date food in three stores. Perhaps an upgrade of the company's stock tracking system would be in order.
Branding exercises can sometimes go wrong. Witness German pharmaceuticals firm Bayer and its revolutionary cough mixture, "Heroin"; and the public outrage at Woolworth's incomprehensible decision to market a bed range aimed at 6 year old girls under the name "Lolitta".
So it was with mixed feelings Downtime found his picture on a colleague's social networking account. The name? Twitpic.
The patience of a set of Monks has been pushed to the limit by a dodgy dial up internet connection. Trappist monks from Wales have now moved to a wireless broadband service. Downtime worries what this will mean to their fidelity to monastic life with all those virtual temptations. Mind you it might take their minds off killing wild animals. That's what Trappists do isn't it?
Downtime is wondering how long the government's attempts to appear groovy by getting involved in web 2.0 media are going to last. The petition calling on the prime minister to resign has now been signed by 53,544 concerned citizens. Downtime wonders how many were prompted by the PM's appearance on YouTube discussing MPs' expenses (46,760 views).
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