Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

Grooming graves virtually

Every year around April, people in China celebrate the Qingming Festival, a public holiday where people go outside to enjoy the greenery of springtime and also to tend to the graves of departed ones. Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, people would pray, offer food and burn paper money at relatives’ graves. This year, some are also paying their respects virtually. Many cemeteries and funeral companies in China have established online memorial halls that promise access to relatives within seconds, 365 days a year. Shanghai Funeral Service Centre has claimed to have had 40 million visits from relatives since the service was introduced in 2001. This trend came about when Chinese authorities urged people to go online to honour their relatives as way to help protect the environment.

Bionic Man moves limbs with mind power

While working as a lineman for a power company back in May 2001, Jesse Sullivan came into contact with a live wire in the ground and had 7,200 volts of electricity course through his body — enough energy to power about 10,000 homes. Sullivan survived, but when he woke up from a month-long coma, he discovered both his arms were amputated. Now, the 59-year-old is part of a research project conducted by doctors at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago that will help him move his artifical limbs using his mind instead of his body. Sullivan underwent surgery where the live nerves that control arm and hand movements were re-directed to his pectoral muscles in his chest. When Sullivan tells himself to open his hand, his brain doesn’t know that his hand is gone but instead sends a message to the nerves in the pectoral muscle. So, when the muscle contracts, an electical signal is sent to the computerized arm and the robotic hand opens instantly.

Cell phones go kosher

The worlds of ultra-Othrodox Jews and mobile technology collide with the introduction of the first ever “kosher phone.” The handheld devices, which carry the seal of approval from Israel’s rabbinical authorities, are stripped down to its basic functions: making and receiving calls. These kosher phones will have no text messaging, no Internet access, no video options and no cameras. As well, the makers have blocked out 10,000 numbers for phone sex, dating services and other worldly temptations while a team of rabbinical overseers makes sure the list is up to date. The device was launched in March and already over 20,000 kosher phones have been sold. Later this year, the makers hope to expand their reach to Jewish communites in the United States and other nations.

Video comes to ringtones

Nokia Canada and Virgin Mobile have teamed up to bring the latest trend in mobile phones — the video ringtone. Available now on the Nokia 3155i handset, the device will be the first in Canada to support downloadable videotones from the Virgin Mobile Web site. Video content would include videotones, videoclips and video screensavers. These video screensavers range from ones featuring hang gliders to ones that feature clips from recently released movies and hit television shows. The handset has about 12MB of memory and also has an intergrated FM stereo radio. The cost to download a videotone ranges from $1.50 to $4.95. For more information, visit http://www.virginmobile.ca.

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