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Rumour & Humour: There’s one born every minute

The reason free is so attractive and disturbing news with guest response system

If it’s touted as “free,” some people will sign up for just about anything – including a computer virus. According to news reports, a Finland-based IT specialist set up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a virus for people who were concerned that they did not have any. Surprisingly, he found that more than 400 people clicked on an ad saying “Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!” during a six-month advertising campaign on Google’s Adword.

Happily, there was no real virus involved – it was apparently an experiment aiming to show that these kinds of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent. Fact is, the Internet is an incredible resource for separating fools from their money. How else to explain the fact that people still send money to non-existent Nigerians?

Another fine example: Lo’ihi Development Co., a Hawaii-based real-estate firm, plans to start offering ocean-view lots on-line for an introductory price of $39.95 (U.S.). The catch? Speculators won’t even be able to stand on their land for many millennia. That’s because the lots are currently submerged more than 3,000 feet below sea level – on an underwater volcano called Lo’ihi, located about 20 miles southeast of the Big Island. The company’s website advertises, “Lo’ihi Seaview Estates: Real Estate for the Future. Grand Water View Front Lots.” A photo of the sales office is a raft in the middle of the ocean. Lo’ihi Development’s principals say the whole thing is a joke: They want to hold a “homeowners association” meeting – a boat ride over the volcano – every April Fool’s Day.

Guest Response Systems

Moving from one type of annoying pest to another, a major theatre company is offering a high-tech way to flag movie-goers who yak during a screening.

The Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group has been testing small hand-held devices called “Guest Response Systems,” which selected patrons can use anonymously to page management when there’s a problem. The system is currently in use in 13 U.S. theatres, where they’ve been since last summer. In the coming months, Regal plans to add them in 101 more locations.

The GRSs are wireless and have four buttons marked “picture,” “sound,” “piracy” and “other disturbance.”

According to company spokespeople, the devices have been used to report audio or video problems, or to tell on someone who is illegally taping a movie. But most complaints apparently have to do with loud talking and cell phone use. There was no word on whether a “this movie sucks” button would be added.

Comment: cdnedit@itbusiness.ca