The most unusual tech stories of 2012 (videos)

26 Dec 2012

Artist Bart Jansen's website, featuring a photo of the Orvillecopter

An artist who created an aircraft using his taxidermied cat, a Craigslist user willing to change his name for a WWDC ticket, and a father who fired bullets into his daughter’s laptop are just some of the more unusual tech news that had you talking this past year. We look back at these and other odd tech stories of 2012.

The Orvillecopter

In June, news emerged about artist Bart Jansen, who teamed up with a radio control helicopter expert to create the ‘Orvillecopter’, a flying machine that featured plastic propellers attached to each paw of Jansen’s taxidermied cat.

Orvillecopter debuted at the Kunstrai Art Festival in Amsterdam. Jansen told reporters the tribute to his cat, Orville, is fitting, as the tabby was named after aviation pioneer Orville Wright.

“He will receive more powerful engines and larger props for his birthday,” Jansen had said of further work to be done on the Orvillecopter.

Orville the cat died after being hit by a car.

Watch the Orvillecopter in action here:

‘I will legally change my name to yours for a WWDC ticket’

There are Apple fanbois, and then there are Apple fans, oh boy.

One individual so eager for a ticket to the consumer tech giant’s sold-out Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June posted an ad on Craigslist offering to legally change his name to that of the person who provided him with a ticket, as well as carry out various tasks on behalf of the ticket provider.

The headline on the ad read, ‘I will legally change my name to yours for a WWDC ticket – $1600 (San Francisco)’. (WWDC tickets are non-transferable).

In the ad, the individual said that in addition to the legal name change, he would also perform tasks on behalf of the ticket provider for one year. For example, jury duty, any court-ordered community service for up to 40 hours, looking after vehicle licence and registration at the department of motor vehicles, and visiting “your senile grandfather once a month.” If the ticket provider’s name happens to be Jebodiah, the poster of the ad offered a $500 bonus.

No word on whether anyone took up the ticket seeker on his offer.


Facebook parenting

A dad in the US state of North Carolina repeatedly shot his daughter’s laptop and posted a video of the shootout on YouTube after she ranted about her parents on Facebook.

Not only that, but Tommy Jordan also posted the video on his 15-year-old daughter Hannah’s Facebook page for all her friends to see.

In a post titled ‘Dear Parents’, Hannah bemoaned life at school, unpaid chores and nagging about getting a job. She even stated her folks shouldn’t count on her when they are elderly, as she won’t be there.

Before posting her missive on Facebook, Hannah filtered her privacy settings to prevent her parents from seeing the post. However, Tommy found Hannah’s post on the Facebook page set up as belonging to their dog – the pooch wasn’t included on Hannah’s ‘Family’ list.

Tommy’s video response, ‘Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen’, has drawn more than 35m views on YouTube. In it, Tommy reads Hannah’s rant, argues her logic and fires nine bullets into her laptop – one being from mom.

Watch ‘Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen’ here:


iPhone 4 case features stun gun and battery pack

An iPhone 4 case that comes with a built-in stun gun and battery pack is to let users help themselves instead of calling for help should they ever be faced with an attacker.

The US$139.99 case contains a 650,000-volt stun gun and is capable of fuelling a phone with up to 20 hours of additional standby battery, the company, Yellow Jacket, said.

“We have designed our iPhone 4 stun gun case to be easily deployable with one hand,” Yellow Jacket stated on its website in July.

To help ensure maximum safety, the Yellow Jacket iPhone stun gun case features a safety switch and a rotating electrode cap, both intended to prevent accidental discharge, the company said.

Yellow Jacket said it will also develop, produce and sell the stun gun with battery pack cases for HTC Evo, Samsung Galaxy, and the iPhone 5.

The company also advises potential customers to check local laws pertaining to the possession of stun guns before purchasing its device.

iPhone stun gun case

Yellow Jacket iPhone stun gun case. Image via Yellow Jacket

Restaurant offers discount to patrons who won’t use mobile phones at tables

Patrons have been eating up a Los Angeles, California, restaurant’s offer of a 5pc discount on their bills if they check their mobile phones at the door.

Besides the discount in exchange for not using their mobile phones at the tables, Eva Restaurant’s chef and owner Mark Gold told radio station KPCC-FM in August he hopes patrons will also receive more relaxation and enjoyment from their dining experiences.

 “Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again,” said Gold, who added that nearly half his patrons have taken up the offer.

Canadian enters US using his passport on iPad

In January, a Canadian man who had scanned his passport into his iPad had said he was able to enter the US using the digitised document as he had forgotten his hard-copy passport.

Montreal man Martin Reisch was on his way to Vermont to deliver Christmas gifts. He realised as he was nearing the Canadian border with the US that he did not have his passport and so presented the US border officer with his iPad and driver’s licence.

The officer took the iPad into the border hut for about five or six minutes and when he came out, admitted Reisch through.

Reisch successfully re-entered Canada the same day. While he said he won’t forget his passport again and knew the officer had made an exception, he hopes digital identification will one day become commonplace.

Since 2009, Canadian citizens require a passport, an enhanced driver’s licence or a Nexus pass for US land border crossings.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic