Book Smart?

The Public Library System in Naperville, Ill., signed a contract in late May to install fingerprint scanners on 130 computers with Internet access or a time limit on usage.

The decision, according to the American Library Association, makes Naperville the second library system in the country to install fingerprint scanners. Library officials say the added security is necessary to ensure people who use the computers are who they say they are. Officials promise to protect the confidentiality of the fingerprint records. -- Chicago Tribune

Eat Right, Get iPod

Students in Glasgow, Scotland, happily play the role of guinea pigs in a new plan to reward secondary school pupils for eating healthily.

Glasgow's school meals service, Fuel Zone, rolled out its Fuel Zone Points rewards program to all 29 secondary schools in the city over the last 12 months. The program allows 30,000 pupils to earn points for eating healthy foods.

At the end of each term, students redeem the points they've accumulated by smart eating for rewards ranging from free books and movie tickets to the latest in gadgets like the iPod and Xbox. -- Glasgow City Council

California Quakes

It's nice to know when the big one is going to hit. A new Web site gives nervous Nellies a real-time map assessing the probability of a strong earthquake at any location in California within a 24-hour time frame.

Scientists with the Swiss Seismological Service and the Advanced National Seismic System developed a system that quantifies the increased likelihood of future shaking from earthquake clusters in California.

The system considers all earthquakes, large and small, recorded by the California Integrated Seismic Network, the California element of the Advanced National Seismic System. -- United States Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program

Space Tickets

Talk about an ambitious business plan -- Planetspace said in May that it intends to offer space flights to the public within the next two years.

Geoff Sheerin, president of Canadian Arrow -- a company that competed for the recent Ansari X-Prize to send a privately built and financed ship to space -- and Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria joined forces to create the company, which is constructing and testing its first suborbital rocket, called the Canadian Arrow.

Planetspace said it wants to fly almost 2,000 new astronauts in the first five years of service. Fares will start at USD $250,000 for a suborbital flight, including 14 days of training. -- Planetspace

Bare-Bones Phone

Vodafone got back to basics in May when it launched Vodafone Simply, a new mobile service designed for customers who only want a mobile phone with voice and text services.

The company surveyed customers to see what their ideal phone would look like, what services it should offer, how these services should be accessed and how the phone menus should be structured.

Customers choose between two phones, appropriately named the VS1 and VS2. Both sport large screens with legible text and symbols; three dedicated buttons for direct access to the main screen, contacts and messages; a button on the side to control ringer volume; and a switch to lock the keypad. -- Vodafone

IP Addresses

Facing a lawsuit over its practice of storing customers' dynamic IP addresses, Lycos, a German ISP, decided the best way to fight the suit is to quit storing the dynamic IP addresses entirely.

A Lycos customer, who also happens to be a lawyer, asked Lycos to tell him its practices concerning IP address data the company stores

Jessica Jones, Contributing Writer  |  Contributing Writer
Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor