Oops! I claimed an iPod on expenses again

The wacky world of IT

Oops! I claimed an iPod on expenses again

It is good to know that the Department of Homeland Security is making sure that Americans can sleep easy in their beds - apparently it is all down to iPods. Last year 12 iPod Nanos and 42 iPod Shuffles were claimed on expenses for secret service "training and data storage".

Unfortunately, party poopers in Congress have raised suspicions that the iPods may not have been used for strictly professional purposes.

It is that kind of unwarranted cynicism that has undermined many a fine government project, but Downtime does acknowledge that it may not be best for the official defenders of freedom to miss a trick because they have their favourite Britney Spears track turned up too loud.

Oh, and by the way, if you have seen any of the 100 missing laptops or any of the 12 boats that have vanished, the department would be very grateful to hear from you.

Did you hear what that chicken just said?

For years speech recognition technology has promised that we would soon be yakking away to our computers like seasoned sci-fi actors. Undeterred by the fact that most of us are still content to jab away at a keyboard all day, speech technology is now moving on to the animal kingdom.

Dubbed the Dr Dolittle Project, scientists are building a database of animal sounds and accompanying behaviours.

By applying human speech technology to animal chatter, they have been recording animals such as African elephants, dogs, whales and chickens, in the hope that they can uncover the meaning of these noises.

Ironically, knowing the meaning behind every cackle, bark, growl, hiss and squawk may actually be more useful in your average office.

The ultimate reality TV show on your mobile

Here at Downtime we all scoffed at the tales of anxious mums setting up webcams to check up on the nanny from their work desktop.

Dysfunctional, anti-social people that we are, we are much more taken with a new offering from mobile security firm 3rd-i.

The company promises a mobile-based security system, where a small camera equipped with motion sensors and infrared is placed in your house. If the camera is triggered, the footage is beamed directly to your mobile phone.

You can either view live footage of your valuables being ripped off or be content with a text alert saying you have been burgled.

Wonderful thing, technology.

If you need your gadget fixed, ask a woman

We were told again last week that the number of women in IT is small and still shrinking - about one in five, at the latest count - but research from Canon puts this statistic in an even worse light.

Far from being technophobes, as the stereotype would have us believe, Canon's research found that women love their gadgets and are happier than men to try to fix them when they go wrong - 57% are prepared to give it a crack, against 44% of men.

Rather than reading the manual a second time more attentively, men are also more inclined to resort to violence if they cannot get their gadgets to work first time.

"We have all been there," said Canon UK's managing director Andy Vickers. "Something goes wrong with a device in the office and we tend to turn it on and off a few times before hitting it."

Downtime was also less than shocked to hear that microwaves and PCs were men's most-favoured bits of kit - and women love the telephone above all else. Quelle surprise.

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