Looks like the Internet has finally spawned a killer-application: A system that enables people to stroke a chicken on-line.

According to news reports, the “Touchy Internet system” was created by researchers at the National University of Singapore. Users touch a chicken-shaped doll that duplicates

the actions of a real chicken through a webcam link.

Touch sensors on the doll send tactile information over the Internet to a second computer near the chicken. This machine triggers tiny vibration motors in a lightweight jacket worn by the chicken, meaning the chicken feels the user’s touch in the exact same place as the doll was stroked.

One small step for a man and a chicken, one giant leap for man- and chickenkind.

Everything starts with an idea

The tried-and-true “light bulb” joke is almost as common as its “chicken-crossing-road” and “knock-knock” counterparts. The IT industry, for its part, has provided ample fodder for the former. Here are a few of the leading examples. (Note: If you’ve already heard any of these, try inserting your least-favourite tech company into the mix.)

Question: How many tech-support staff does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Four: One to ask, “what is the registration number of the light bulb?” One to ask, “have you tried rebooting it?” Another to ask, “Have you tried reinstalling it?”” And the last one to say, “It must be your hardware because the light bulb in our office works fine…”

Question: How many IT testers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: We just determine that the room is dark; we don’t actually change the bulb. Since we have a dead-bulb result on file from a previous test, rest assured that development is working on a bug fix.

Question: How many IT shipping department personnel does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: We can change the bulb in seven to 10 working days. If you call before 2 p.m., and pay an extra $25, we can get the bulb changed overnight. Don’t forget to put your name in the upper right hand corner of the light bulb box.

Question: How many IT managers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: We’ve formed a task force to study the problem of why light bulbs burn out, and to determine what, exactly, we as supervisors can do to make the bulbs work smarter, not harder.

Question: How many IT executives does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: We can see no need for uninstallation and have therefore made no provision for light bulbs to be removed.

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