Downtime: Waiter, there's an RFID tag in my cannelloni

The wacky world of IT

Waiter, there's an RFID tag in my cannelloni

Downtime loves top-quality Parmesan. None of that pre-grated supermarket rubbish for us. Nevertheless, we are concerned at plans to use radio frequency identification tags to guarantee the authenticity of the products.

Apparently, blocks of Parmigiano Reggiano, which costs about £18 a kilo in the UK, will start shipping from the end of this year with an RFID tag inserted into the base of the cheese.

Members of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano are testing eight different types of tags in their cheese, including - worryingly - a glass tag, in a project to stop Parmesan pirates.

Embroidering the need for software protection

On the subject of piracy, we all know about the major software pirating operations based in Russia and China scooping millions, nay billions, from the impoverished accounts of software giants.

But it doesn't stop there - and the industry is hitting back. The Embroidery Software Protection Coalition is now at the forefront of safeguarding the intellectual property of the computer industry.

Its website declares, "Piracy is as old as the Barbary Coast [exactly as old, in geological time? Forgive Downtime's pedantry - let's continue], yet with the Internet Age, the illegal manufacture and distribution of pirated designs and software has become considerably easier in recent years, mostly due to computer technology developments and the low cost of replication materials and equipment."

The ESPC is now suing two Missouri women for copyright infringement and defamation.

Downtime thinks they may have been stitched up.

Washing line decisions are made a breeze

Computerised cross-stitching is nothing compared to the next example of the transformative power of IT - the killer mobile app for your laundry.

Website could become essential for all those who regularly hang their laundry outside to dry. As the summer nears its end, the big questions are when to put it out, how long to leave it and whether there is a likely to be a shower, which could put a bit of a damper on the whole experience.

So the stendibiancheria site sends users an SMS letting them know how long it will take for clothes to dry, the best time to put laundry out and whether it is going to rain. At the moment, the site runs in Italy, but Downtime expects world domination soon.

Blair scores a duck over bird-scaring devices

Downtime was considering a quick visit to this week's Labour Party Conference to witness the final speech from Tony Blair. He deserves a decent send-off.

His government, after all, has for almost a decade operated an outdoor relief policy for IT professionals and IT companies. Never has so much been paid by so many (taxpayers) for so little.

However, for all New Labour's talk about the transformational power of IT and e-enabling the UK, they really lost the plot last week and as a result we are considering boycotting the conference.

It appears some jumped-up bureaucrat at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called a public inquiry into the use of electronic bird-scaring devices around the Wash, a site of special scientific interest between Norfolk and Lincolnshire.

Local fishermen, stupidly swallowing the government's e-rhetoric, have been deploying electronic devices to scare the birds that were feeding on their mussel beds.

Amazingly, the eider ducks won. What happened to that brave new world we all embraced so eagerly in 1997?

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