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Downtime: Your place in the sun is just a matter of chance

Your place in the sun is just a matter of chance

It is a well-known fact in IT circles that computers cannot generate random numbers. This poses security issues, as encryption keys are often generated from a computer-based random number generator which is not, strictly speaking, random.

However, one Downtime reader believes he has cracked the problem. He has divided a pie-chart into 64 sections and placed it on the plate of a solar-powered plant turner. When the sun comes up, it begins turning. If the sun goes in, it stops. When the sun finally goes behind the wall of the house, it stops for the day. At a random spot.

It is good enough for 128-bit encryption. Trouble is, it is a bit slow, and does not work on cloudy days, according to the inventor. Still, at least it is good for the plant.

For $1m I’d want it to open doors and shine my shoes

UK-based bespoke luxury goods creator Luvaglio has created the first $1m laptop. Although the complete spec has not been released, sources suggest it includes an integrated screen cleaning device and a rare coloured diamond that acts as the power button when placed into the laptop.

The news will strike fear into the hearts of long-suffering IT managers tired of meeting the demands of image-conscious executives who only use their laptops for Powerpoint and Patience.

Inspector Clouseau gets new job as network techie

A network technician in Alaska has managed to wipe the details for a £20bn residents’ oil and minerals fund. Nine months of records were accidentally deleted by the technician, who not only wiped the applicant information from the system, but somehow managed to reformat the backup drive too.

To crown the mother of all data losses, the backup tapes were unreadable too. Whoops.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was reduced to rescanning all the original paperwork after consultants from both Microsoft and Dell failed to find an alternative way to get the data back.

At least someone was able to locate the hundreds of cardboard boxes the original application documents were stored in. So much for the paperless office.

Computers better than guns, say Mexican mums

When it comes to promoting computer literacy, Downing Street could have a thing or two to learn from South America. Mexico City has begun an innovative scheme to donate a free computer to anyone who turns an illegal firearm over to the police.

The computers for guns program is proving a big hit. Emilia Reyes, a housewife who turned up with her young son to drop off a duelling pistol enthused about the scheme to Reuters, “It is better for him to have a computer in the house than a gun.” Downtime heartily agrees.

Far better for young people to spend their time on constructive activities, such as playing computer games, which, we all know are completely non-violent, than toying with guns. Grand Theft Auto, anyone?

How to make sure that no one moves your cheese

If the pundits are to be believed, Web 2.0 will transform our lives beyond recognition. Just to prove the point, take a look at the latest manifestation: a website that allows you to view cheese as it matures.

Apparently, watching Cheddar Vision is the coolest thing since, er, Internet Explorer. Extraordinarily, the site has had more than half a million visits since the cheese started on its path to maturation about 100 days ago.

Check it out on: http://lbx.cheddarvision.tv.

Tim Berners Lee would have been proud.

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This was first published in March 2007

 

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