Noone loves the ridiculous side of technology more than us, so when a weird story comes along it brightens up our whole day. In a flash of genius, we've saved you the effort of searching the net for the silliest stories of 2009, and brought them together in one mighty list to rule them all.
Enjoy, and let us know if you think we've missed your favourite out.
1. Mind control chips
Intel scientists hope that by 2020 we will all have chips in our brains that will allow us to harness our thoughts to operate computers, TVs and mobile phones. The man behind the idea Dean Pomerleau believes people may be willing to have brain implants. "Imagine being able to surf the web with the power of your thoughts." We think it sounds too much like a sci-fi plot from a Philip K. Dick novel. And they never have a happy ending.
2. Brains in computers
Meanwhile, IBM boffins claim to have gone in the opposite direction and put a brain in the computer, that is creating a computer that "thinks" like a living thing. Dharmendra Modha, manager of IBM's Cognitive Computing unit, said his team had been able to simulate the number of neurons and synapses present in a cat's brain. The project won itself the ACM Gordon Bell Prize in recognition of outstanding achievement in high-performance computing.
But Swiss neuroscientist Henry Markram denounced IBM's claim. "I am absolutely shocked at this announcement. Not because it is any kind of technical feat, but because of the mass deception to the public," Markam wrote in an open letter sent to IBM's technology chief, Bernard Meyerson, and members of the media. Markam claims the cat brain simulation is relatively easy to do, and the simulation only demonstrates that IBM's Cognitive Computing team has immense compute horsepower to play with.
3. Microsoft: It don't matter if you're black or white
Microsoft was forced to apologise for editing a photo to replace a black man's face with a white man for an online advertisement intended for use in Poland. The embarrassing gaffe, which was published around the world, appeared even more hackneyed as the photo editors failed to edit out the black man's hands. Other photoshop mistakes include the white MacBook in front of the edited person with the Apple logo brushed out, and the fact that the woman's LCD display isn't actually plugged in to anything.
4. Bing tries to buy the news
When media mogul Rupert Murdoch threatened to boycott Google from indexing WSJ.com and his other media sites in the News Corporation, Microsoft was quick to see an opportunity. The Financial Times reports that Microsoft was in discussions with Murdoch and other publishers about the possibility of paying them to remove their sites from Google’s search index and running them exclusively on Microsoft's search engine Bing. Microsoft may not be able to beat Google, but if it can somehow make Bing the only place that lists news results for News Corporation's content, then it could be enough for a profitable venture. Google, in the end, conceded to Murdoch's demands, making it easier for publishers to opt out of being indexed by Google News. But this could be the start of more exciting moves for search engines and media companies.
5. Man arrested for not tweeting
James Roppo has become the first man to be arrested for not sending a Twitter message when told to by authorities. The strange story involved Canadian internet teen star Justin Bieber and 3,000 screaming fans. When an event at Roosevelt Field mall became rowdy, police told the artist’s label to send a Tweet telling the crowd to disperse. When that allegedly didn’t happen, police arrested Roppo, a senior vice president of Island Def Jam Records, and claimed that the executive's refusal to intervene led to several people in the crowd sustaining minor injuries.
6. Smoke? Apple won't fix your Macs
Apple has refused to repair machines belonging to smokers because residue from cigarettes seeps into machines and creates a health risk for those fixing the Mac. According to a report in The Consumerist, one customer wrote: 'The Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, [the warranty has been voided] and they refuse to work on the machine "due to health risks of second hand smoke." Another said, 'When I asked for an explanation, she said [the owner of the iMac is] a smoker and it's contaminated with cigarette smoke, which they consider a bio-hazard! I checked my Applecare warranty and it says nothing about not honouring warranties if the owner is a smoker.'
7. Linus Torvalds: Nobel Prize winner 2011?
Fans of Linux think it is high time that its creator, Linus Tovalds was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Ridenbaugh Press was the first to suggest Torvalds for the accolade, but the flames soon spread thanks to Twitter, Slashdot and blogs. They say Torvalds should be rewarded for his work in developing the Linux kernel, which has subsequently formed the basis of many global projects such as the One Laptop Per Child effort and the Human Genome project. If Torvalds was to be awarded the the Nobel Peace prize he would join other worthy Laureates such as Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr.
8. Google Chrome OS fakes
Google's much-awaited Chrome operating system was released this year to incredible fanfare. But some couldn't wait for Google to launch the product before leaking 'screenshots', which later turned out to be fakes. The first batch of fake screenshots emerged in July, within days of Google's announcement that it was building an operating system. The blogger claimed to have seen a "private developer beta" at an Acer event. Within hours the fake screenshots made the rounds on blogs and news sites. It wasn't long before the blogger came clean that it was a hoax. Round two of fake shots arrived shortly after, and were reported on Engadget courtesy of an anonymous tipster. These alleged shots claimed to be part of the 'Chrome OS Alpha 1.01' build. But this time people were wary, and figured out the plot early. The images featured some odd user interface (UI) elements. The most ridiculous part of this story is the hype surrounding an operating system that is yet to prove itself.
9. Yahoo lap dances at Hack Day
You can almost imagine the brainstorming meeting at Yahoo: 'How can we entertain a bunch of developers at the Yahoo Open Hack Day in Taiwan?' 'I know, let's give them all lap dances!' 'What a stroke of brilliance. Champagne all round!' 'What's that? It demeans women? Nonsense, women can't be coders!' I'm sorry, have I time travelled into an episode of Mad Men?
Yahoo has since apologised when the images were made public all over the web. (It's worth checking out all the comments on this thread). But they haven't apologised for exposing us all to images of excited geeks being straddled by gyrating, day-glo wearing lap dancers. Where is the mind bleach, Yahoo?
10. Rick Astley iPhone hacker gets job
Australian hacker, 21-year old Ashley Towns, has become the first to hack Apple iPhones. Towns claims he's the writer of the Ikee worm, which changes the desktop wallpaper on some ‘jailbroken' or unlocked iPhones to display a picture of 1980's pop star Rick Astley. Now, Australian software company mogeneration has piggy-backed on Towns' infamy and offered him a paid job. Some people strongly oppose the idea of hiring a hacker. Sophos spoke out vehemently against the move: "The code was rubbish too." But for Apple iPhone application company mogeneration, it has brought worldwide publicity.
As this year draws to a close, we wan't wait for more crazy tech stories next year.
What are your favourite, offbeat tech stories of the year?
Find your next job with techworld jobs