Satnav thriller as bank shows us the money
Downtime has never used satnav. We were put off by all the tales of people being directed off cliffs and suchlike. But being a disorganised lot, we do like the sound of satnav that includes the location of cash machines, which is what Bank of America is about to offer its customers.
It has teamed up with digital mapping firm Tele Atlas to put its branches and cashpoints on the map - all 17,000 of them. UK banks take note, and show us the money!
Further down the line, perhaps they might also consider following HSBC in tagging their cash machines with RFID chips. This could link up to GPS, and when the ram raiders make off with a bugged cashpoint, drivers could enjoy tracking the errant box from the comfort of their car.
Kind of like a real-life approximation of Grand Theft Auto, we fondly imagine.
Army blunder blamed on computer mix-up
Not all mailshots are created equal. Some you really should ensure you get right. Unfortunately, this is something the British army has just learned the hard way.
It has blamed a "computer mix-up" for the fact that it mistakenly sent out over the Christmas period recruitment letters to the families of 275 officers killed or wounded in action in Iraq.
"Every army leader is just sick that this happened," said general Richard Cody, the army's vice chief of staff. "This is an inexcusable mistake. Five years into this war, the army can do better than this - and we will."
Apparently, the problem arose when the army used an out-of-date database to generate a mass-mailing of letters to more than 5,000 army officers who had recently left the service.
But the mailout also went to the families of 75 officers killed in action - more than a third of all army officers who have died in Iraq since the war began - and 200 wounded in action.
Cody said the army immediately began contacting each family to offer a personal apology. "I cannot imagine how these soldiers and family members felt upon receiving those letters," he said.
"Army senior leaders also plan on personally contacting them in writing to apologise and let them know that the army is still a family made strong by caring leadership and strong army families."
Cody said the problem would not happen again. Here's hoping.
Digital diet aims to keep weight off pet-loving kids
Call us simple-minded if you like, but Downtime cannot help feeling that the answer to tackling the current "epidemic" of childhood obesity lies in more visits to the park and fewer to the sweet shop.
However, we are now reliably informed a more technological approach to the problem is to issue all the fatties with Fizzees.
Fizzees are digital pets that children can wear on their wrists. The neat trick here is that this electro-pet, designed by education innovation firm Futurelab, can only be nurtured and developed if the child who wears it takes plenty of exercise.
The device measures heart rate and motion, and uses a scoring system, based on recommended exercise levels for young people, to determine the health of the Fizzee. So the more exercise undertaken, the healthier the Fizzee.
Downtime knows from bitter experience that calorie-counting on a treadmill in a gym is no way to get fit and stay fit, and keeping a Fizzee happy sounds suspiciously like something that a child might keep up for a week at the most. But what do we know?
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This was first published in January 2007