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No. 129: MAY-JUN 2000

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If you found the above message on your home-PC screen after returning with a cup of coffee, you have a cybercatastrophe on your hands. A feline friend has just ambled across your keyboard. In a worst-case scenario, cat curiosity may have caused your computer to crash. It is urgent and imperative that you install a program called "PawSense" that can detect pawprints -- and -- block further inputs. PawSense will also post the message: "Cat-Like Typing Detected." It will in addition generate sounds known to be very annoying to cats. You can regain control of events by typing the word "human."

Sure, this is all pretty funny, but just how does a computer distinguish between paw-generated input and the gibberish present in e-mail addresses and the like? The rationale behind PawSense recognizes that cat paws are so broad that they actuate groups of adjacent keys simultaneously.

(Mirsky, Steve; "C-A-T-T-T-T-T-T-T," Scientific American, 282:26, March 2000.)

Comment. Please note that we have refrained -- with some difficulty -- from introducing "cat-and-mouse" humor!

From Science Frontiers #129, MAY-JUNE 2000. 2000 William R. Corliss

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