Web users try to live offline

What happens when Internet surfers go cold turkey?

Yahoo! and OMD, an advertising firm, asked the question in an "Internet Deprivation Study," according to The Register.

Participants in 13 households were deprived of the Web for 14 days. It was found that the people "forgot or lost the desire to use 'old-fashioned tools' like the phone book, newspapers and telephone-based customer service."

The second part of the study covered 1,000 Web searchers. Almost half, or 48 percent of respondents, couldn't go without the Internet for two weeks.

"It was incredibly difficult to recruit participants for this study, as people weren't willing to be without the Internet for two weeks," a Yahoo! representative said.

Bootlegging books

Students have started to learn from their music-piracy days by applying the same skills to their studies. In increasing numbers, college students are skirting the cost of textbooks by illegally downloading them from the Web, according to The Ottawa Citizen.

A report released by Envisional in 2001 said 17,000 copyrighted books were available on the Web. That number has grown to more than 25,000 today.

Book-industry critics say the numbers are exaggerated, with the industry using them to justify price increases.

The report also found that most of the books are science fiction and fantasy, reading "young geeky males" are into, the report author said. It figures that most of the textbooks are for math, engineering and computer science.

Top of their game

Three game players from Washington will represent the United States in the World Cyber Games Grand Final in San Francisco next month.

Ryan Erickson and Joe Anthony, both of Edmonds, competed in the "Need for Speed: Underground" PC game. Last weekend, Erickson finished first and Anthony second during finals held in Long Beach, Calif. Stephen Booth of Bothell came in third playing "Halo" on Xbox.

The three will compete in a five-day event starting Oct. 6 in San Francisco. More than 700 of the world's premier players from 64 countries will battle it out for several titles and a prize pool of more than $400,000.


Ditch the breath spray, guys.

Be confident that you smell as sweet as roses with the new mobile-phone sniffer being developed by Siemens Mobile.

The German electronics manufacturer said it was developing a phone that will alert users when their breath is bad, or if they are giving off any offensive smells, according to Reuters. The device uses a sensor measuring less than 1 millimeter.

"It examines the air in the immediate vicinity for anything from bad breath and alcohol to atmospheric gas levels," a spokeswoman said. "Some people take smelling good rather seriously."

On the record

New product: Seattle-based Speakeasy launched its new voice-over-Internet protocol product last week.

Expansion: Bellevue-based AccessLine Communications expanded its national network for advanced voice services.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com

Buying direct

In a recent survey, about 28 percent of those purchasing computer or consumer-electronics products in the past 12 months bought them directly from the manufacturer.

Source: NPD Group