November 2009 Archives

Take a break from the IT department with IT Manager III

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Forget Championship Manager. If you really want to relax after a hard days work in the IT department you need IT manager III. This strategy game created by Intel could be bigger than World of Warcraft. It offers frustrated IT professionals the chance to escape into a fantasy world of, er, information technology. The aim of the game is  to keep on top of a never-ending stream of high-tech hiccups as servers go down, hapless users pour coffee into their lap top computers, and networks run out of bandwidth. If you do well you can rise through the ranks from an IT manager at a small business to become the CTO of a global enterprise. Just what you need after a hard day in the office.

Does my tum look big on this?

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In these troubled times, time itself is clearly at a premium for the busy health-conscious IT professional. But worry no more, for now you no longer need to waste precious seconds glancing down at your scales to find out how much you weigh.

Thanks to the Withings Wi-Fi Scale, simply step on board, eyes and mind fixed on your next destination, and your weight will be automatically transferred wirelessly to your computer or iPhone. This means you can then electronically schedule time to consider your fluctuating body shape in your packed schedule.

What's more, the technology even allows you to announce your new weight through Twitter - feeding the insatiable desire of your friends, family and contacts to keep up with progress on your weight-loss campaign in real time.

Downtime feels sure that its innovative readers can suggest other ways this important development in personal weight-monitoring technology can be put to creative and worthwhile use...

Home Tweet Home

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Everyone now everything seems to be sending messages via the Twitter microblogging service, including a 16th century cottage.

Isle of Wight resident Andy Stanford-Clark has installed hundreds of sensors in his home, each one capable of sending him alerts via Twitter.Anything unusual, from a light left on or a mouse being caught in a trap triggers a message or "tweet".

Most people find it difficult enough to keep up with messages from other people, without throwing there houses into the mix. Life on the Isle of Wight can't be all that dull, can it?

Mobile love gets husband into hot water

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Mobile phones make life a lot easier, but failure to end calls properly could turn out rather badly as a businessman in China found out.

Gao Meng called his wife, but did end the call properly before meeting up with a lady of the night. His wife recorded every moan and groan.

The businessman was jailed for indecency and sent on a moral re-education course by a court that heard the recording. You have to love technology.

Swiss stay on fence

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Two Swiss human rights organisations (HROs) have been monitoring computer war games to see if they flout international humanitarian law.


Games, including Modern Warfare: Call Of Duty and Conflict Desert Storm, were played by staff from Trial and Pro Juventute whilst human rights lawyers watched on, assessing if actions that could be carried out by players constituted war crimes or other human rights violations.

Unsurprisingly some games were indeed found to allow such behaviour. The HROs listed the wanton destruction of homes and religious sites, torture, the killing of civilians and execution as examples.


They even looked at how soldiers surrendering and citizens caught up in the conflict were treated and, get this, whether the level of destruction was proportionate.


The HROs have expressed concern that real soldiers' behaviour could be influenced by the games. Downtime wonders whether it was actually soldiers' behaviour that influenced the violence in the games.


Moreover, Downtime wonders why these HROs and their lawyers aren't pursuing real-life war criminals given so few of them seem to be prosecuted.


However, gamers can rest easy as, at the time of writing, there were no plans to prosecute them for breaking the law whilst playing the games - unless they illegally downloaded them.

You have been unfriended

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In a recent awards ceremony 'Unfriend' was named word-of-the-year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.


It is defined as the act of removing a 'friend' from your contact list on a social or networking site such as Facebook.


Downtime wonders how many of us wish we had the courage to use it.

Proof there should not be an iPhone app for everything

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iPhone makers Apple are keen to boast there is an iPhone app for everything, but two Texans have proved there should be exceptions to the rule.

They have developed an iPhone app that enables them to steer a modified Oldsmobile Delta 88 remotely.

This means the pair can literally drive and surf the web at the same time from the roof of the vehicle.

Although this app may appeal to some, it is doubtful health and safety would approve.

Websurfing no longer deadly for teenagers in China

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Teenage websurfers in China can now indulge their passions without fear of physical punishment, which has been banned as a form of "treatment" for internet addiction.

The ban comes after the death of a 15 year old undergoing this "treatment" which was prescribed to "encourage people to use the internet in a healthy way," said officials. 

Bruce Schneier gets dolled up

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Now you can own a life-like doll of security technologist and author, Bruce Schneier, from the website. The site says if you want to know how security really works, people turn to Schneier. If you want to know what he's really like, you can buy the 12'' action figure body with pre-fitted clothes. Bruce comes in three flavours - straight Schneier, Schneier the cyborg and Schneier with detachable pony tail.


Bruce Schneier cyborg doll

Dirty Den to return from Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

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Downtime saw the news that the Christmas scripts of soap opera EastEnders could get into the wrong hands. A laptop and the scripts were taken from a scriptwriter's home during a burglary. The BBC has asked for the exciting scripts to be returned. So that means Dirty Den is coming back after years on a farm in a place called Emmerdale on Coronation Street.

Computers don't smoke

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Downtime was shocked to read that a consumer in the US was told his computer warranty was void because it had been used in the company of smokers. When his computer overheated he was told by the suppliers support team that the fan was broken because people had been smoking near it. The support also refused to work on the machine, due to "health risks of second hand smoke". And they say an Apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Texting killed the reindeer star

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Well over half of people will dispense with Christmas card this year and send a text message instead. According to a survey carried out by  people only seem to bother sending cards to family members. Downtime thinks it's better to send neither because it is the thought that counts after all. Bah Humbug.

Lotteries pose business continuity risk

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News that a group of call centre workers won a staggering £91m in the lottery should come as a warning to businesses outsourcing or offshoring work. We wonder how many will continue to field calls from angry customers? Imagine if a syndicate at an Indian offshore location won that much money. That amount would go a long way. Entire offshore teams could tell their bosses what they really think of them on the same day. There goes you low cost software development.

Catholic Church asks Google how to connect to masses

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The Catholic Church is receiving tutoring from internet experts about how best to communicate in the modern world. Officials from the likes of Google, Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia are helping Catholic officials in Europe in a four day conference. Where God has failed technology will succeed they hope. Downtime thinks the Catholic church has more fundermental theological problems which will take more than a You Tube video to fix.

Barrichello gets consolation prize

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Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello has had a cash bonus. Despite losing this year's championship he is going to receive at least $500,000 from Google after a court ruled that damages should be paid to him after fake profile of him were hosted on the internet giant's Orkut website. Some people have all the luck. I wish a social networking site hosted a fake profile of me. That money would come in handy.

Virtually pointless non-fire night

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 As virtualisation of just about everything gains popularity due to cost saving in the enterprise world, health and safety red tape has succeeded in making bonfire night virtually pointless.


Organisers of a Guy Fawkes party in Devon say safety officials have forced them into a virtual bonfire.


Revellers will have to make do with projected image of a bonfire on a giant screen, electric heaters and bonfire sound effects because of the mountain of paperwork needed to organise the real thing.



Downtime goes error-free

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Downtime is indebted to Pulitzer prize winner Joseph Hallinan for writing the book on mistakes, why we make them and how to avoid them. It is called Erronomics, no doubt a tribute to the earlier Freakonomics, which showed why drug dealing is poorly paid, unless you are the boss. Downtime hopes that the title of Hallinan's book is not in itself a mistake.
But Downtime thought that readers would be more interested to know how to avoid mistakes. The rules are:
1. Make a list. And check that your heart surgeon uses one too, because it cuts their error rate 47%.
2. Guess twice; your second is likely to be better.
3.Write it down. The palest ink is more reliable that the strongest memory.
4. Get more sleep. Your decision-making capacity is better with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% than after 17 sleepless hours.(That does not mean what you hope it means.)
5. Do less. Multitasking is error-making.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2009 is the next archive.

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