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Google trouble

(WORLD WISE) / 10 March 2012

You have got to give a man his privacy and some space to do what he wants to or be ready to face the consequences.

 A Frenchman, angry that Google Street View caught him with his pants down, urinating in his front yard, has dragged Google to court and asked for 10,000 euros in damages.

The 50-year-old resident of a northwestern French village insists the picture loaded online by Google Street View, has made him the laughing stock of his village of some 3,000 people. While Google Street View blurs faces in its uploads, the man is saying that his community recognised him even without a clear image of his face.

“Everyone has the right to a degree of secrecy,” his lawyer Jean-Noel Bouillard said recently. “In this particular case, it’s more amusing than serious. But if he’d been caught kissing a woman other than his wife, he would have had the same issue.”

Google Inc’s Street View currently covers some 30 countries and has been available in France since 2008. The service helps people navigate their way through streets of localities they are not familiar with, viewing photos of streets taken by its camera cars that are fitted with cameras on the roof. In the past, too, the service has been mired in controversy for intrusion into the privacy of people, in their own homes.

The Frenchman was urinating behind the closed gates of his house but the Google van caught its view from over the gate a couple of years ago.

The case is due for verdict next week.

Tarzan, looking for Jane

A 24-year old US resident, still enchanted with his childhood hero Tarzan, has given up his job in a supermarket to live in an African jungle.

DeWet Du Toit grew up in Namibia and was so fascinated with his father’s collection of Tarzan comics that he decided to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero. Over the last few years he has been doing exactly that — he has walked away from his security guard’s job in Manchester and spends his days swinging across trees and feasting on a variety of insects.

“I’m not the kind of guy who loves partying, I certainly never get drunk. I prefer eating fruits that I find in the jungle. I also know what insects to eat.”

“People might say I’m crazy, but I know this is what I was born to do. I’m like Tarzan in so many ways,” he said. “My best friend is an elephant called Shaka, and I spend more time with monkeys, zebras and crocodiles than I do with people.” When he is not doing that, he is filming his adventures in the wild and is secretly harbouring a fantasy that his life in the African bush will land him a Hollywood movie, playing Tarzan.

“It does get lonely — I would love to find a Jane to help me pass the time,” he added. We don’t know about the Hollywood movie but we are fairly sure there are not too many Janes out there who want to rough it out in the jungle.

Lost and found

Looking for your keys , glasses and the countless other things that you misplace around the house could well be a thing of the past if electronics firm Hitachi’s new robot, named EMIEW2, launches commercially.

The red-and-white-robot , which is the size of a six-year-old child and easy to carry, is power-packed with artificial intelligence to identify and locate objects from pre-loaded images in its database and to recognise human faces. “Emiew collects images of various objects from the internet and saves them on an external database,” said developer Takashi Sumiyoshi.

“Then, when you show it something, Emiew figures out what it is by comparing the colour and shape. If you name an object, Emiew searches for it and guides you to where it is located.” To do so, the robot communicates with a network of cameras mounted around the room.

Asked to find a watch at a demo recently, the robot said: “The watch is on Mr Tanaka’s desk. I’ll lead you to it.” It then glided towards the desk at a speed of 6km an hour, about the pace at which a human can follow with brisk steps.

“We developed this robot to mainly provide guidance services for people, so it has to be nimble in moving around without bumping into people, and light as well so it wouldn’t hurt anybody even if it accidentally hit them,” a company official said recently, adding that they hope that it can eventually be used in care homes for the elderly, hospitals, and ultimately, the home.

We are hoping the company also figures out a way to make it affordable so more people can avail of the benefits of such a product.


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