technology

Down and dirty - battle on the QWERTY

Britain, for some strange reason, is due to host the Olympics in 2012. Hence now is the time to start dreaming up ridiculous sports that we might have a chance of winning a few medals at. For those whose mind immediately goes to the world of speed mobile phone "texting" (or as Neighbours recently termed it "ess-emm-ess-ing"), well it is a contender but there is already competition out there.

For, dear readers, a couple of days ago it was the US National Texting Championships.

Mystery men

Fourteen years ago or so, the New Yorker published a mini-cartoon with the tagline "On the Internet nobody know you're a dog". It is of course just as true today more often than not, and potentially greatly exacerbated in practical terms with the rise of all the chat, Instant Messaging and social networking type sites. Sure, most people are no doubt not too far away from who and what they say they are, but there is still going to be a bunch of people who make up their own new identities for the online world. Fine, if it's harmless japery, very much less so if its not.

Most notorious from the media are "chat rooms"; locations on the Internet where you can go type stuff, send pictures and so forth live. MSN Messenger and the like have that sort of facility, both one-to-one and in a more communal manner. But imagine people acted up this way in real life instead of a chat room. Funny? Weird? Disturbing? Well, watch the below short video scripted by Geoff Haley of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame and see what you reckon.

Chop off your brain...mind reading computers are here

It was already kind of scary, but potentially very useful, back in the good old days when computers could merely be controlled by the power of your mind. Mr Nagle, having been paralysed below the shoulders by a stabbing spent four days learning to play pong, do his email and draw pretty pictures using the power of his mind via a painless brain implant. To do this, he plugged his brain into a computer and imagined moving his arm to hit targets. The sensor read the associated electric brain signals and translated them into cursor movement.

He's not the only one. Four people elsewhere suffering epilepsy also managed to move a cursor by thinking about opening either their right or left hand. The technology is clearly progressing. In fact it recently got so far that not only could you control a computer via the mind, but the computer could look into the depths of your mind and read your future intentions. Yep, a mind-reading computer is now apparently reality.

Flatulence filtering

In a world where you can almost replace your eyes with robotics successfully (maybe) there are certain bodily problems one wonders why haven't been bred or technologised out of the human race yet.

Why is it, for instance, that now and then people will still inadvertently let rip with the socially embarrassing and nasally repulsive ejection of gas from their backside known as flatulence? Other, of course, than for comedic effect. Has no-one invented a solution?

Science to eradicate dirty knickers?

Incredulous news reached the ears of the Poorhouse as it turns out the US military is in danger of inventing something useful that doesn't necessarily wreck other countries; namely underwear that doesn't need to be washed for weeks on end.

Yes readers, it's news to the Poorhouse as well, but it turns out that modern day society apparently deems in somewhat inappropriate to continuously wear the same pair of knickers for 6 weeks in a row without at least some token effort at filth-removal.

Zap with a flash

Kids. Who wouldn't want the little darlings? They're ingenious little tykes. It's just a shame some of them put their creativity to slightly counterproductive tasks such as fashioning tasers out of all and sundry and taking them to school.

The neo-classic method of creating such a device is via a disposable camera. One you get hold of one of those it's mere hack-and-slash electric engineering to create a light-weight version of said electro-shock device. Basically you remove the camera's flash, charge it up and use the resulting bare wires to prong into whatever object you wish to zap.

Wii-lly expensive

(Please forgive the Poorhouse for the appalling attempt at a pun in the headline)

One of the great objects of desire last Christmas was of course the new games console from Nintendo called the Wii. The Poorhouse was no exception to the trend, and all the stories about how many injuries all this almost-not-virtual boxing creates were nothing but an added incentive to get one. As ever Christmas obsessive craziness, it opened the doors to plenty of top price eBay action. Even for its packaging materials, and, in one case, for their manifold child cruelty potentials.

No-effort surveillance

Forget any bugging of your wheelie bin - if the Government / police / identity thieves / blackmailers really want to track you and your life then there's something slightly more to be worried about. It's with you all the time, it knows where you are and what you're saying. It's often linked personally to sensitive identity and financial information about you. You even pay heavily for the privilege of having it.

Yes, of course, it's your mobile phone.

Sex tech

Traditionally when it comes to chemical birth-control, it's been entirely up to the woman to take the necessary pharmaceutical precautions via taking "the pill" - a tablet containing the hormones estrogen and progesterone that if taken regularly (mostly) prevent pregnancy. Equality and responsibility issues aside, the pill has plenty of side effects that prevent some women using it.

Of course there have been several attempts at making a male pill but whether through dodgy side effects, the need for long term use or just lack of demand no real breakthrough has been made.

When vote counts go wrong

Elections in America - one-time supposed the greatest democracy on Earth - are notoriously unfair. This especially applies of course to those involving George Bush. Pretty much everyone has, to put it mildly, at least some qualms about the results of the 2000 presidential elections where the Democrats undoubtedly won the popular vote but failed to get in. Bush's re-election in 2004 seems no less suspicious.

Much of the controversy in recent times surrounds the issue of electronic voting - whether the new computerised machines that records one's vote are reliable and tamper-free enough to put the destiny of the world into their hands. Many see problems with them and several groups (for example [1] or [2]) have been set up to educate and campaign about their problems.

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