Downtime: Orange, rail enquiries, viruses, Web 2.0 and drafts

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Downtime: Orange, rail enquiries, viruses, Web 2.0 and drafts

Orange peels back the layers of ignorance

If television show the Sopranos has taught us nothing else, it is that business and killing people quite often go hand in hand.

So Downtime was somewhat surprised to discover that when mobile operator Orange surveyed 308 companies in March, 66% were not aware of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bills.

Did these executives think that pleading ignorance would save them from a life spent in fear of dropping the soap in prison?

Inexplicably, many had not even taken the rudimentary step of buying Orange's GPS location devices, which, the mobile operator said, would help companies comply with new legislation. Clearly.

And the most talked to man in the country is...

Whose opinion would you guess is the most sought-after in Britain? School-dinner hero Jamie Oliver? Super-boffin Stephen Hawking? Not quite.

The answer is probably actor Jeremy Hancock. As the voice of speech recognition rail enquiry service TrainTracker, Jeremy gives advice to more than 16,000 people a day. "We have just received our 10 millionth caller," says National Rail Enquiries chief executive Chris Scoggins. "We believe Jeremy must be the most talked-to man in the country."

Not the most sought-after acting gig perhaps.

Spam candles aplenty as the virus turns 25

The virus reaches its quarter-century this month, but so far it has not declared any intention of paying rent or getting a girlfriend.

Naïve users may think that viruses began with the introduction of the PC and unsecured internet connections. However, the first computer viruses appeared as far back as 1982, about a year after IBM unveiled its first PC on an unsuspecting public.

The first virus was Elk Cloner, apparently created by a high-school student from Pittsburgh, which was spread between Apple II computers via floppy discs.

Elk Cloner's destructive potential was limited to a couple of verses of poetry, probably bemoaning the difficulty of securing a girl's affection and the appalling unfairness of parents. In typically lackadaisical teenage fashion, however, the poem only appeared on every 50th booting.

Web 2.0 can't quite beat curative power of vodka

After suffering from hiccups for five months, musician Christopher Sands decided it was time to set up a MySpace blog in search of a cure, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Sands has tried every well-known remedy, such as drinking water from the opposite side of a glass and subjecting himself to shocks, but has not yet been able to shake the hiccups.

So far, the shining promise of Web 2.0 has been unable to help, and only alcohol seems to offer any relief. "I wonder if the doctors are just going to start prescribing me vodka?" Sands writes. "It probably did not cure them, I was just too drunk to care."

After 20 years, perfect draughts player arrives

A team of Canadian scientists has created a draughts-playing computer program which they say can win or draw any game, against any player.

Draughts may seem a simple game, but the scientists say it took an average of 50 computers nearly 20 years to sift through the 500 billion billion possible draughts positions.

Jonathan Schaeffer, lead author of the program, told the BBC, "This was a huge computational problem to solve - more than a million times bigger than anything that had ever been solved before."

Schaeffer said: "I think we've raised the bar - and raised it quite a bit - in terms of what can be achieved in computer technology and artificial intelligence."

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This was first published in July 2007

 

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