Rumour and Humour

With April Fool’s Day now safely behind us it’s worth mentioning that an entire nation may have been taken in by high-tech hi-jinx on April 1.

On the infamous day in question, Sweden’s largest newspaper reported that billions of dollars had been unnecessarily invested in next

generation mobile phone technology, since old mobiles aimed at TVs could show movies.

The joke in Dagens Nyheter quoted Hubert Hochsztapler, a researcher at Sweden’s top engineering school, KTH, as saying that he made the discovery by fluke. The article reported that Hochsztapler had accidentally pointed his mobile phone at his VCR (mistaking it for the remote control), and when he punched in a channel he discovered that he could see the film being shown on the display of the phone.

But that’s not all. An illustration accompanying the article showed that by shaking second-generation GSM phone hard enough you can access the new high-tech third-generation (3G) frequency, which is only supposed to be available to 3G phones. Special masts have been erected across the country to accommodate the arrival of the 3G technology, which is designed to provide e-mail, high-speed Web surfing and live sound and image broadcasts to compatible handsets.

If only all upgrades were that easy! There was no word on whether any Swedes were spotted shaking their phones in public.

Spring water

This next item must have seemed like a joke at the time, but unfortunately for one Mark Walters, it was anything but.

According to news reports, Waters, of Springfield, N.J., recently received a $2,500 (U.S.) monthly bill from his long-distance carrier, Denver-based Qwest. Waters assumed it was a mistake — and it was, but not by the phone company.

Eighteen-year-old Elissa Walters, Mark’s daughter, had come home, turned on the Waters’ new computer and called an America Online number in the 973 area code — the Walters’ home area. Figuring it was a free local call carried by their local carrier, Verizon Communications, she left the computer on for a rather long, and expensive, time. Note to self: Just because an area code is the same, it doesn’t mean a call is local.

Dad learned that the call wasn’t local when his bill arrived. After speaking with the phone company, and initially being told he would have to pay the full amount, Waters (and his daughter) was finally let off the hook, and is being charged a relatively paltry $375 (U.S.).

Still, that is one pricey dial-up trip.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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