A trash can that says “”thank you”” or “”mmm, tasty”” when you throw in garbage — now that’s technological advancement! According to news reports, Berlin city officials have tested a solar-powered paper receptacle that talks to its users. Next year, some 20 of them will reportedly be installed at strategic

locations around the capital. Do we smell a niche market for IT consultants?

Each bin can be programmed to speak in a different language, give off a throaty rumble or administer a short lesson on tidiness. At night, the bin is illuminated by a neon light pointing to the opening. But there’s no message, apparently because test groups were frightened by voices in the dark. To be honest, one would think people might be a little fearful of talking garbage cans at any hour. “The trash can just spoke to me. Time for my medication…”

Adsent-minded drivers

Here’s another humorous high-tech breakthrough: A Singapore-based company has developed a solution for absent-minded drivers who forget where they parked. Stratech Systems’ parking lot surveillance system pinpoints the location of a car after drivers key in their license plate number at a kiosk. After punching in the number upon returning to the lot, a map appears on a screen indicating the zone and lot where the car is parked. A display panel at the car park’s entrance even gives directions to the nearest vacant spot.

At what cost comes this convenience? The price of the system ranges from around $90 to $300 per parking spot, depending on the number of features. That’s a lot of cash for a lack of brain cells.

Web site in poor taste

Expecting dinner guests, but don’t know what to prepare? One source of morbid inspiration – the Texas prison system’s Web site – is no longer much help.

The final meals of executed prisoners have been removed from the site (www.tdcj.state.tx.us), which has long listed details of the dinners. According to a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the menus were removed during a redesign of the site because of complaints that the listings were in poor taste (so to speak).

The meals, which in Texas have to be made with what is available in the prison, range from the simple – John “”Jackie”” Elliott requested a cup of tea and chocolate chip cookies before his Feb. 4, 2003 execution – to the extravagant. That same month, Richard Head Williams asked for two chili cheese dogs, two cheeseburgers, two orders of onion rings with French dressing, a turkey salad with fries, egg rolls, chocolate cake, apple pie, butter pecan ice cream, one peach, three Dr. Pepper sodas, jalapenos, ketchup and mayonnaise. If the chair didn’t kill him, the cholesterol would have.

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