October 2009 Archives

Party comes to an end as fugitive discovers policemen can read

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A fugitive from justice was arrested after alerting the US authorities to his whereabouts through Facebook.
Maxi Sopo, who was wanted for falsely obtaining more than $200,000 in credit, wrote a number of extravagant boasts on his Facebook profile after fleeing to Cancun, Mexico.
Status updates from Mr Sopo said he was "loving it", described himself as "living in paradise" and said he was "just here to have fun".
Not content with publicly disclosing the information on the internet, Sopo added a former justice department official to his friends list, who promptly tipped off his old employer.

Call centre automation takes macabre twist

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The Register brings news that Japanese programmers have developed an algorithm which can tell, just by listening to your voice, if you are about to die.


The software was developed by trawling through six months' telephone records from the Yokohama ambulance service, corelated with data filed by paramedics about how alive the caller was when they arrived.


Of course the program will be of literally life-saving value in helping ambulance services decide which emergency calls should take priority.


However, technologies have a habit of straying from their original application and, just as the space programme gave us the non-stick frying pan, Downtime can not shake the uneasy feeling we may be seeing the Japanese doomware pressed into the service of some gruesomely sadistic TV gameshow in the very near future.

Bloggers mob libel lawyers, restore free speech

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Just as starlings can mob predators like hawks, so too Twitterers and bloggers managed to drive off newspaper editors' most feared predator, libel specialist solicitors Carter Ruck.

Carter Ruck had stopped the Guardian from publishing a report about a parliamentary question. Normally, newspapers are allowed to publish all parliament's business.

Carter Ruck withdrew its opposition after the blogosphere rose up in the Guardian's defence, published the documents at the heart of the issue on Wikileaks, and parliament went on with its work.

Downtime now awaits a blog attack on Downing Street over its cancellation of the Serious Fraud Office's investigation of BAE Systems' Al-Yamamah deal.

Scandinavian sex tourism saga continues

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After Danish tourism bods pulled a promotional You Tube video that basically described the nation as a place to get your leg over without worrying about a problem  nine months later, the Swedes have a bigger problem.

 

Millions of Chinese men are trying to find the whereabouts of a town in Sweden which is 100% inhabited by women. It was apparently set up by a man hating widow in 1820. And these women are also desperate for men.

 

According to internet rumours, the women have turned to same-sex relationships to satisfy their desires. And any men attempting to gain entry risk being beaten by the blonde sentries at the gates. Scary

Single, dead female

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Proving that social networking can be murder, a jilted lover killed his partner in south Wales when she changed her status to single on Facebook.

Brian Lewis is to serve a minimum of 14 years in jail after strangling and stabbing his partner to death.

A strong warning to socials networking devotees everywhere to think twice before posting any provocative updates to personal profiles.

Smart phones, not users

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Twitter members are so addicted to the microblogging service that thousands are risking their lives to do it.

One in ten motorists are using mobile devices to send tweets while on the road say researchers, even though they are 23 more times likely to have an accident.

Smartphones are said to be fuelling the addiction and could be responsible for many of the set going from being "dead cool" to just plain dead.

Downtime notes that "smart" applies to the phones, not the necessarily the users.

MOD leaks plugged on Wikileaks

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Downtime didn't know whether to feel insulted or honoured by the inclusion of investigative journalists among the Ministry of Defence's list of people to defend the realm against.
The comment about us hacks appeared in Wikileaks' copy of a 2001 46Mb MoD file, which gave chapter and verse on how to avoid information leaks.
Nuisance people, according to the MoD, include parliamentarians, foreign agents, terrorists & criminals. The document tells squaddies how to deal with leaks, sexual entrapments in Russia and China, diplomatic pouches, allies, classified documents & codewords, compromising radio and audio emissions, even computer hackers.
The MoD seemed pretty sanguine about it, noting it was an old document, so posed no security threat, but Downtime is checking into who's guts have replaced garters in Saville Row.

Regulator speaks as it sees

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Cyril Connelly, a British critic, said that no-one over thirty-five is worth meeting who has not something to teach us - something more than we could learn for ourselves, from a book.

This is absolutely true. And so it is with the over-35s media experts at Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts.

On Monitor's website are the wisest words ever issued by the regulator. Downtime would go so far as to say that Monitor takes us to the extreme limits of wisdom.

Dictionary in hand, this is what we read on its website:

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

Ernest Marples

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When Downtime heard that the Royal Mail had shot down ernestmarples.com for allegedly infringing its rights to post codes, we did some checking. Wikipedia, that font of all wisdom, had quite an extensive referenced and footnoted entry on Mr Marples, a former Postmaster General and the man who hired Beeching to trim the rail network.
But when Downtime tried to get on the actual website, our trusty moral guardian Websense banned entry. Reason? Sex. Well, perhaps it was because it read on Wikipedia that McMillan had named Marples as one of two cabinet members tied up in the Profumo scandal, so to speak...
But no doubt Marples will be best remembered for introducing subscriber trunk dialling to what became BT, putting thousands of switchboard ladies out of work, and perhaps some into the oldest profession.

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