Lost Packets

Thinking software piracy is the way to make a few quick bucks? Think again. It appears that at least the U.S. is cracking down hard on software pirates. Recently, a 52-year-old Taiwanese woman was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading no contest in what is being called one of the largest software piracy cases in U.S. history. Lisa Chen was arrested along with three associates after authorities seized hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated software, worth more than an estimated US$75 million. The pirated software included copies of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system, Office 2000 desktop software as well as Symantec’s Norton Antivirus software. In addition to her prison sentence, Chen has been ordered to pay US$11 million in additional damages to both Microsoft and Symantec.

Avoiding a jam en route

There is nothing worse than being stuck in a traffic jam with no end in sight. If you only knew ahead of time, you could have taken that detour 15 kilometres back. Now, according to Mapopolis.com Inc., you don’t have to possess psychic powers to avoid a traffic mess. The company recently announced a real-time navigation product that actively searches for accidents, slow downs and construction hold-ups on the user’s route and re-routes them if necessary to avoid them. The turnkey, PDA-based product builds on Mapopolis.com’s Navigator for Pocket PC and Platinum+GPS products and includes complete U.S. map coverage along with the real-time traffic data.

Not for the squeamish: man burned by laptop

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In November, a British news Web site reported that a 50-year-old, fully dressed scientist had suffered burns to his nether regions after placing his laptop on his lap for an hour. According to the man’s medical report, the man occasionally “had felt heat and a burning feeling on his lap and proximal thigh, a sensation that was relieved at least temporarily when the computer was moved slightly.” The unnamed laptop reportedly cautioned users to not operate with the base resting directly on exposed skin, and warned that with extended operation, heat can potentially build up in the base causing discomfort or eventually a burn.

No more late fees

While BlockBuster video earns almost 20 per cent of its revenue from late fees, a new technology could make those hurried trips to the drop-off box a thing of the past. Two companies have developed new self-destructing DVDs, which through chemical reaction once the disk is exposed to air renders it eventually unusable. Flexplay Technologies Inc. and SpectraDisc Corp. both have respective offerings. Flexplay discs turn darker and become opaque, no longer allowing the laser in the player to read the disc. SpectraDisc DVDs turn blue as they expire. MGM Studios has already used self-destructing DVDs with music videos and movie trailers, which self-destructed within 36 hours.