Quick Hits

Published: November 28th, 2003

Canadian charged in e-mail scam

While the majority of North Americans simply delete the myriad spam and scam e-mails that flood inboxes on a daily basis, one particular e-mail scam promising millions of dollars prompted a Bethel, Conn., woman to take some serious action. After receiving numerous e-mail messages supposedly from Nigeria, Heide Evans convinced the scammers that she was interested in taking part in the con, and actually set up a person-to-person meeting with the perpetrators. But, instead of meeting Evans, a 24-year-old Toronto man was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service and Bethel police. Nicholas Horvath-Howard has been charged with first-degree attempted larceny.

Exec creates the perfect pet

Jo Lernout, former director of Belgian speech recognition firm Lernout & Hauspie (L&H), has put his time in the big house to good use by inventing a robotic guinea pig. The executive said he got the idea while being held in custody as part of an international fraud investigation against L&H. After being released without charge, he proceeded with the robot’s development. Dubbed Gupi, the robot “has a memory of his own, can walk on a table without tumbling over the edge, makes sounds of approval when being cuddled and falls asleep when it’s getting dark,” Lernout told Gazet van Antwerpen. Lernout said he hopes to put Gupi into production and start selling the little critter soon for about $130.

Wireless Web surfing on Kashmir’s waters

In a bid to attract foreign tourists scared off by its separatist rebellion, Jammu Kashmir, which borders the north of India and Pakistan, has turned its Dal Lake into a Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) hotspot. According to reports, the new mobile connectivity access point will enable tourists to stay connected while drifting on the waters of the Dal from the houseboats and gondolas that occupy it. Kashmir tourism officials said they are counting on the technology to help bring back the economically vital tourism to the area, which waned significantly after the Muslim rebellion against Indian rule broke out in 1989.