Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

L’amour is in the air with fashionable cell phones

Nokia’s high-end L’Amour Collection of stylized cell phones is now available in Canada, the firm reported last month. The 7380 handset is a lipstick-shaped phone that is small enough to fit in a handbag or pants pocket. It features a mirrored display for lipstick touch-ups and hairstyle checks. The mirror acts as the colour display screen once the phone is turned on. In addition, the phone is keyless and offers an iPod-like click wheel to call friends. The 7380 phone is designed for those who want to make a statement, Nokia says, and is not meant to be used for everyday use, but as an “evening phone.” The phone is priced at $775 and available at retailer Holt Renfrew. For more information on the Nokia 7380, visit www.nokia.ca.

Would you like some robotic cookware?

Vita Craft Corp., a cookware company based in Shawnee, Kan., has developed a set of pots and pans that feature embedded RFID chips. Dubbed “robotic cookware,” the chips in the cookware use a proprietary signal to communicate with chips in the cooktop and in special recipe cards that monitor each cooking step of a particular dish. The company says the line of cookware is designed to regulate the induction temperature throughout a dish’s cooking cycle to avoid burned or undercooked meals. A recipe card is dropped into boiling water which the system then reads. The system prompts the cook for the ingredients and also tells them when to pull stuff off the heat. Each tag can incorporate 23 separate recipe steps for such dishes as chili and mashed potatoes.

Gadget gives driver green lights and a fine

Recently, a man from Longmont, Col., was caught with a device that lets him change traffic stop lights from red to green — just so he wouldn’t be late for work. Jason Niccum bought the device, called an Opticon, two years ago on eBay for US$100. He received a US$50 fine for interfering with a traffic signal and had the gadget confiscated. The device is similar to ones that firefighters use to change lights when they respond to emergencies. It does so by emitting an infrared pulse that receivers on the traffic lights pick-up. Niccum was caught when city traffic engineers noticed repeated traffic disruptions at certain intersections everytime a Ford pickup passed by. The city of Longmont plans on upgradiing its Opticon system this year to block any unauthorized light changing signals.

Get a car despite bad credit

Is bad credit preventing you from owning a car? Worry no more, particularly if you live in Dallas. Credit-impaired drivers in that city can drive off the lot of North Texas Motorcars with a new car — but with some strings attached. On the dashboard of thesecars is a black box that starts flashing on the first day a car payment is late. After four days of non-payment the car won’t start. The box is called an On Time unit and is mostly installed at used car dealerships that provide financing to customers with bad credit. The On Time units are also being shipped to dealerships with a GPS system in order to track down cars that have missed payments. According to officials, the device has helped reduce late payments by 70 per cent and also improved customer satisfaction levels. The On Time device is complicated enough that customers cannot disable one. Once the car is fully paid for, the black box can be easily removed.

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