Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

Wig-wearing students caught cheating

How much would you pay to cheat on a test? For 20 students in Vietnam, apparently the price was right at US$3,125. That is how much these students paid to don elaborately wired wigs and shirts to cheat on their college entrance exams. The wigs and shirts the students wore were wired to mobile phones that let them call in to get test answers. During a weekend raid, police in Hanoi confiscated 50 mobile phones, 60 earphones, 150 SIM cards, 8 shirts and five wigs. The wigs were used for students whose hair was too short to cover the earphone. The case was discovered when two students were seen carrying cell phones during the entrance exams for Hanoi’s Banking Institute. College entrance exams are highly competitve in Hanoi with only about 10 per cent of students being admitted into universities.

Checking e-mail the hands-free way

Busy professionals who need to stay connected to the office even while driving now have a new device that can keep them safely informed while on the road. The iLane from Waterloo, Ont.-based Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) is a device that interacts directly with existing Bluetooth-enabled handheld devices and vehicle audio systems. The device claims to be the “world’s first hands-free and eyes-free e-mail solution for in-vehicle use.” When connected, iLane will read incoming messages and other important information out loud in a natural sounding voice. After listening to the message, the driver can either forward or compose a response and manage meeting requests using verbal instructions. iLane operates with wireless devices such as the BlackBerry and the Palm Treo. IMS is in talks with several car manufacturers to offer the iLane device to their customers.

Odour recorder captures special scents

Stopping to smell the roses just got a whole lot easier. A new gadget, from scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, lets people capture scents and take them away. The device analyzes smells through 15 sensors and records the odour’s recipe in digital format, then reproduces the scent by mixing 96 chemicals and vapourizing the result. The recorder has successfully captured a range of fruit smells that include oranges, apples, banana and lemons. Unfortunately, the gadget measures about one metre by 70 centimetres and the 96 odour-forming chemicals are contained in separate glass bottles, making portability of the device an issue.

I’ll buy that house for a paper clip

It began with one simple red paper clip that Montreal’s Kyle MacDonald turned into a house. How did this 26-year-old blogger do it? With the magic of the Internet. Macdonald had an idea about bartering one red paper clip for something and that something for something else over and over again until he had a house. He posted the paper clip on Craigslist on July 12, 2005. His first trade was for a fish-shaped pen. Then he traded the pen for a ceramic knob, and in turn: a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg, a Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract. By April of this year, Macdonald traded the recording contract for a year’s free rent in Phoenix and traded that for an afternoon with Alice Cooper, which he traded for a motorized KISS snowglobe. That snowglobe was traded for a role in a Corbin Bersen film and on July 5, 2006 that movie role led to a two-storey house in Kipling, Sask., which he and his girlfriend will move into in early September. Macdonald’s paper clip trading story is being turned into a movie by DreamWorks Pictures.

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