GPS saves baby Jesus

Call it a high-tech Christmas miracle. According to news reports, a baby Jesus stolen from a nativity scene in Wellington, Fla., was returned safely to its manger thanks to an attached GPS device.

News of the satellite-tracked figurine made headlines before Dec. 25 when residents of the town fitted Jesus, Mary and Joseph with GPS technology in response to previous thefts.

Perhaps sensing a challenge — the display was also protected with a Plexiglas screen — an unnamed suspect was arrested after attempting to steal baby Jesus on Boxing Day. Call it guts, call it stupidity, call it a very, very odd hobby. After all, there can’t be much of a black market for miniature baby Jesuses.

Unless, of course, the figurine is filled with chocolate or melted cheese or cashew nuts or something.Could there be a niche here for IT professionals? Remote Nativity security? Lawn gnome GPS? Stay tuned to find out.

Parking payment panic

If your wallet feels lighter following the holiday season, just think how dozens of Norwegians must have felt when some of them were erroneously charged nearly $150,000 for parking their cars.

According to news reports, at least 26 motorists were left baffled and broke when they used debit cards to pay for street parking in the central Norwegian city of Trondheim this past December.

A computer glitch (surprise, surprise) caused the machine dispensing windshield parking permits to multiply the amount of time purchased by 10,000, and automatically deducted the corresponding tariff from their bank accounts. The good news: Most of the permits were good until 2009 and beyond.

The bad: Motorists were charged between $37,000 and $148,000.

For many, withdrawal of the massive sums left their bank accounts overdrawn and their debit cards frozen. Apparently, banks were racing to correct the erroneous transaction so that those affected could afford to gift shop for Christmas.

The moral of this story: make sure you have at least $150,000 in change in your dashboard cup-holder.

Banned high-tech jargon

As is often the case, a high-tech expression has made it onto a U.S. university’s annual list of words and phrases that deserve to be banned.

The public relations department at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie sifted through more than 2,000 submissions before settling on 19 affronts to the English language.

The tech-related addition: “Webinar,” a marriage of “Web” and “seminar” that, according to the list-makers, “belongs in the same school of non-thought that brought us e-anything and i-anything.”

First prize went to the phrase “a perfect storm.” Other phrases included “post 9/11,” “Back in the day” and “it is what it is.”

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