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Cutting Edge

Flash: Toe-Tapping Ring Tones
Nokia and music publisher EMI think they know what you want, what you really really want: you want the Spice Girls to sing whenever you have a call on your mobile phone. Them or Janet Jackson, Sting, TLC, Blur or any number of other EMI artists whose tunes will soon be available as downloadable ring tones on Nokia phones. You'll be able to get them at for a song. Well, less than $1.50 anyway. Thousands of titles will eventually be available, and Motorola and Ericsson are planning to offer similar services soon. Trouble is, one man's music is another's mental torture. If you thought your colleague's tinny version of Beethoven's Fifth was annoying, imagine Aqua's "Barbie Girl" ringing out in all its fully-orchestrated glory, 20 times a day. Eek. Be on the lookout for a new wave of phone rage.

Internet: Surf's Up in the Lion City
In the race to be Asia's Net leader, it looks like Singapore has the lead. The Lion City has the highest Internet penetration anyway. A survey by French company NetValue found 46% of Singaporeans age 15 and over logged on to the Internet in August, followed by 42% of Koreans. Taiwan weighed in with 36.4% of its over-15 citizens, Hong Kong with 29.2% and China brought up the rear with 23% in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Singapore residents are even more wired than those in the birthplace of the Internet. Better than half of all Singapore homes - 53% - have Net access, compared with 50% in the U.S.

Medical: Capsule Explores Inner Space
Israel's Given Imaging has invented a tiny, swallowable video pill that can go where no camera has gone before — the human small intestines. It's not hard to believe claims that the one-inch-long M2A Swallowable Imaging Capsule is less painful than the diagnostic alternative: a probe. The patient simply swallows the pill and straps on a Walkman-sized receiver that transmits images to a computer. The capsule is able to reach the lower two-thirds of the intestines, which is off limits to probes. But it cannot be steered, and there are concerns it could get stuck if there is an intestinal block. The company is beginning clinical trials in hopes of marketing the pill in the U.S.

Mobile: The PLA's Cellphone Hang-up
Say what you will about the importance of keeping in touch with loved ones, China's People's Liberation Army thinks phoning home is dangerous. Seems the rank and file have been yacking too much on mobile phones, raising fears they'll blurt out military secrets. No more. The PLA is overriding Mom's orders to ring regularly. Soldiers are now banned from owning cellphones unless they get special approval. Coincidentally, the army had to give up its interests in commercial cellphone companies in July. Hmmm . . . maybe it isn't such a coincidence.

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