Saturday 15 May 2010

KITT is ready to hack your car's computer

Remember how Michael Knight's KITT could take control of other cars in Knight Rider by jamming their brakes with a 'Microlock'. Technology has now surpassed that.

CNET reports that a group of university researchers has managed to 'hack' a car, locking the brakes, the engine and the windows remotely. They were also able to change the speedometer display, turn on the radio and sound the horn.

So watch out if a 1982 Trans-Am pulls alongside you...

Tuesday 4 May 2010

An unnecessary 'thank you' from the Red Cross

As far as I'm concerned, the Red Cross does a great job. But I'd rather it didn't waste my donation on sending me 'thank you' gifts I don't want.

I've just received a letter from them that contains some cards, envelopes, address labels, gift tags, a bookmark, a sheet of wrapping paper and a ballpoint pen. Because that collection of tat will persuade me to make another donation, right?

Now, I'm sure there's evidence that this kind of thing works for many people. I'd like to think the British Red Cross isn't just sending stationery because it's run out of novelty gifts or jelly beans - and I'm sure it's not spending for fun, given that the world isn't crisis-free at the moment.

But today this seems like money-wasting nonsense. These gifts are of no real use to me. And yes, I know the Red Cross suggests that unwanted gifts could be passed "to friends, family or community groups to help spread awareness of our life-saving work". Probably not the address labels, though.

I'm also irritated that the gifts were - according to the letter - created as a tribute to Red Cross volunteers in the First and Second World Wars. Adhesive labels are hardly a fitting tribute, are they?

So now I feel guilty. Guilty that most of those gifts will be heading for the recycling bin. Guilty that I'm annoyed at the Red Cross. Guilty that I'm disinclined to donate to them again, given their tendency to buy ballpoint pens instead of bandages.

Perhaps it's just a question of demographic profiling. (Filter out the grumpy people from the free gift list). Or perhaps - as has been suggested more than once - it's time for charities to get back to basics.

Monday 3 May 2010

Did you mean...?

It's not just Microsoft Word that thinks it may know better than me. Asda's website also isn't sure. "You searched for irish. Did you mean finish, fresh, brush, wrist or crisp?