Downtime: safe-crackers, teenagers and the Compubeaver

The wacky world of IT

Safe-crackers get on-the-job Google training

Downtime usually refrains from giving endorsements, but it is fair to say that Google gets more useful with every passing nanosecond - especially if you are a safe-cracker.

After struggling to enter locked safes at a family holiday resort in the US, eagle-eyed robbers spotted a nearby PC in the office and Googled "safe-cracking".

The quick-thinking group of Pink Panthers found all the help they needed to crack safes at the Bigg City amusement centre.

However, their attempts to cover their identities from CCTV protection proved less successful after using WD-40 to black out the camera lenses. 

"All that did was clean off the lenses," a policeman told reporters, adding that the spirited gang had also sprayed a fire alarm, thinking it was a camera.

Data glitch delays teen drivers in Hawaii

Teenagers in Honolulu who have passed their driving test may have to find another way to travel thanks to a computer error.

A programming glitch has caused a driver licensing computer in Honolulu to fall victim to what can only be described as an "information roadblock".

A new state law requires juveniles who pass their driving test to show they have no criminal record before they are issued with a licence. However, the city is unable to gain access to the courts' database which holds the records.

Teens have to visit the court - on foot or by bus, presumably - to get a written letter to verify they have no violations. This problem could take up to six months to clear up, city officials said.

New Zealand computer eats violent man's porridge

A prisoner once described as "extremely violent" was released from a six-month prison sentence in a New Zealand jail after just 10 days, due to what authorities described as a "computer cock-up".

Faalilo Faalilo began his sentence on 22 June but was released after only 10 days. The warden called the prisoner at home to say he had to return to prison and explained in technical terms that the system "went spakka".

The prison manager said that the sentences were complex to calculate and that the prison dealt with more than 12,000 prisoners a year. "Unfortunately, from time to time we may get these calculations wrong," he told reporters.

Downtime feels it is a shame there is not some device out there on the market that can handle mass computations and calculations. Oh, wait a minute

Live Earth puts irony back into public consciousness

Downtime is aware that green IT is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and we can only support efforts to raise awareness.

But, when you consider that this month's Live Earth event was a 24-hour, seven-continent series of live concerts broadcast over television and the internet, well, you would think that promoting the concept of irony would be a more urgent requirement.

Smell the innovation as PCs infest dead beaver

Downtime recently suggested that rats could be used to power our nation's PCs and it seems our furry friends have found another route into the IT industry, with an innovation unlikely to trouble the inventor of sliced bread.

Kasey McMahon has "invented" a computer housed in a dead beaver. And he is not alone. Another budding Edison has chipped in with a computer mouse - you guessed it - clothed in a dead mouse.

The message is clear. If your bin is full of dead beavers and rotting mouse carcasses, then wise up and get recycling. We must all do our bit.

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk

This was last published in July 2007

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