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Quotw This was the week in which Google tiptoed into the weird end of the news when it patented tracking your fridge - yes, your fridge. The designs describe registering the change of ownership of an appliance as well as storing info about its usage in a communications card.

You might have thought that the patent was just going to cover things that Google actually has an interest in, such as phones and TVs, but no, the paperwork also lists cars, photocopiers, home entertainment kit, fax, computers, printers, scanners, refrigerators, microwaves, washers, dryers, air conditioners, treadmills, PDAs and cameras.

The Chocolate Factory was also in the headlines when it dropped two unnamed contractors from its projects after OpenStreetMap claimed that someone using a Google IP address had vandalised its free map service. The online ad giant said:

The two people who made these changes were contractors acting on their own behalf while on the Google network. They are no longer working on Google projects.

And Google was one of the many web firms taking a stand against hated proposed US law Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Surfers were greeted with a number of websites that were wholly or partially blacked out in a 24-hour protest against the new law.

Opinions on the movement ranged from "What a bl**dy waste of time" to "How can I be a journalist without the gleaming truth of Wikipedia?" and "This shows the real power of the internet, involving the masses in political action, exposing governments to mass protests, etc, etc".

The Chocolate Factory had this to say of the protest:

Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the internet. So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.

Wikipedia announced its participation in the demonstration while founder Jimmy Wales tweeted to urge students to get their homework done before Wednesday. The site redirected to the following message on the day of the protest:

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopaedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.

Here in the UK, Virgin Media stirred up the wrath of an unknown number of its five million customers with a three-hour outage on Tuesday night. Having resolved the issue, the telco had this well-worn advice to those of its users still struggling to get access to iPlayer, Gmail, any .xxx site and whatever's left of the web after that:

If you have still not been able to reconnect – please try powering down your router for five minutes and then turn back on and this should re-establish your connection. Virgin Media apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Or, in words we all know well - "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

Speaking of people who can't live without the internet, one expert found by a tabloid newspaper claimed that British yoof is so addicted to the web, they won't even stop to take a pee break.

Clinical psychologist Prof Tanya Byron extrapolated from a couple of cases drew on her own experiences with youngsters to let the nation know that teenagers will pee in a bottle rather than miss a moment of online time:

I've worked with kids who will urinate in a bottle in their room, rather than leave the screen.

One can only hope she's talking about teenage boys.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a mobe for your technologically challenged mate or gran, the iPhone is the way to go, according to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Apparently, Android phones do a lot more than the Jesus-mobe can and its voice controls are better than Siri. In fact, the only people who should bother are existing Apple fanbois and the inept:

The people I recommend the iPhone 4S for are the ones who are already in the Mac world, because it’s so compatible, and people who are just scared of computers altogether and don’t want to use them. The iPhone is the least frightening thing. For that kind of person, who is scared of complexity, well, here’s a phone that is simple to use and does what you need it to do.

In space news, the Russians scrambled to explain the failure of their Martian moon probe Phobos-Grunt, which was supposed to fly to Mars and land on one of its two moons, collecting samples to bring back, but instead got caught in Earth's orbit.

One 'source in the space industry' said:

Experts do not dismiss the possibility that the probe could have accidentally come under the impact of emissions [from a U.S. radar stationed on the Marshall Islands], whose megawatt impulse triggered the malfunctioning of on-board electronics.

Which turned out to be not entirely accurate when experts later dismissed that very notion. Alexander Zakharov of the Russian Academy of Sciences Space Research Institute, which developed the probe's equipment and research programme, called the hypothesis "far-fetched", adding:

Consider the power of the impact. I don’t think the Americans have radars capable of ensuring such power at such an altitude [about 200 kilometers].

I simply think that is disingenuous. It is convenient to find the cause of the failure on the outside.

And speaking of space, George Lucas has promised he's not going to mess with the Star Wars movies anymore (after 3D-ing them, that is) and in fact might not even make any more films at all. He whined:

Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?

He also said he was planning to retire after he finishes his current blockbuster Red Tails, which is apparently "kind of like The Color Purple, only in airplanes" and "sort of like a Tyler Perry movie, only without jokes". This movie mishmash masterpiece hits US cinemas today. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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