2002 shows its silly side

From vibrating arms to security-busting jelly babies, 2002 has had its fair share of adventures on the weird side

Too much of a good thing truly can be more than enough, one young gamer discovered this year. His overuse of his PlayStation console earned him a bout of hand-arm vibration syndrome, more common to those working with pneumatic drills. Mind you, he'd been playing for up to seven hours a day, and had been suffering from painful hands for approximately two years thanks to his vibrating controller (honest). Sony recommended a fifteen-minute break every hour. An easier solution might be to get out more.

Seen that Fosters advert with the vacuum-loving robot? While that might not (yet) be a reality, humanoid robots that could serve a 'useful' (human job-threatening) purpose are developing rapidly. The Linux robot with the catchy name, HRP-2P, is being designed for the workplace as well as for entertainment. So if you already sit in an open-plan office where everyone IMs instead of talking, just think how much more fun it'll be when half of them are robots...

CeBIT 2002 lived up to its gadget-tastic reputation when the crack ZDUK reporting team stumbled upon the SoundBug. The little music player used any flat surface as a speaker -- bringing to mind a nightmare vision of a school bus being used as a massive boombox at way too early in the morning. Sadly, in a strictly unscientific test for ZDNet UK Reviews, it was found that the sound quality was just about equal to a home-made PlungeBug.

Beer -- now that's more like it. The fuel that sustains the creative brains of the ZDNet UK news team may soon be powering laptops and mobile phones thanks to a Smart Fuel Cell. The question is, will anyone really donate their spare beer to their phone so they can get a call to remind them to leave the pub? Much more sensible is the glass that alerts bar staff that your drink is getting low, which the Reviews team is eagerly awaiting.

Anyone who's seen Ocean's Eleven (or any Bond film) knows that all security devices can be cracked with the right mix of cunning, bravado and technology. Or maybe just jelly babies. A researcher in Japan discovered that fingerprint security -- biometrics being the holy grail of security to many people -- could be fooled using gelatin. Talk about a sticky wicket.

London drivers found themselves stuck in serious traffic in July (and they noticed the difference from the usual traffic jams somehow), sparking rumours of Ken-induced gridlock designed to inspire them to welcome congestion charging with open arms. The cause, sadly for tabloid headline-writers, was much more mundane. As mundane as software that crashed during an upload -- bringing to mind the old joke about it being a good job that Microsoft doesn't make cars. And if you were stuck in (road) traffic, perhaps you should've forked out several thousand pounds for an Internet Fridge so you could look up the traffic reports while supping on the first coffee of the day.

Never mind Greeks bearing gifts, in September it was those bearing Game Boys you had to look out for. Although resolved in the end, for a while there it looked like it really was going to be illegal to play on your own PlayStation (but not for too long...) in your own home.

Finally, in the autumn Levis proved what tech brains are really thinking of. Never mind protecting wireless networks from warspammers, or teaching computer users to stop clicking on attachments that say 'Honest, this isn't a virus, I really have sent you pictures of Ms Kournikova' -- the important thing is anti-radiation mobile phone pockets in trousers.

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