Hotel rooms under the hammer

Hoteliers don’t like empty rooms, which is why hotel businesses are using online auctions to bring in extra bookings

For many hotel chains, dynamic pricing has become standard, but back in 2002 auctioning rooms on eBay (and its defunct competitor QXL) was pretty smart. It was nice to see Blackpool hotels getting in the on the act, found simply by searches on the appropriate eBay category.
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Track your every move: using the Data Protection Act on supermarkets, ISPs, banks and telcos

In 2012, the government is considering telling companies to provide personal data in a machine readable format. But as long as you don’t mind getting wodges of paper you have been able to get this data for many years, under the Data Protection Act (something I also used to find the base stations used by my mobile phone).

This is what I found out for the Guardian about my own shopping and web-surfing habits in 2002: the costs and time limits still apply, and I have updated links and contact details. Freeserve no longer exists, but in general the following would remain my advice for anyone wishing to access their data, unless there’s very obvious information about subject access request processes on the organisation’s web site.
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You can ring, but you can’t hide: mobile phone tracking of user locations

This was the first of several articles I wrote on mobile phone tracking of users for Guardian Online, with later articles on services using the same technology to track children, and to let the emergency services locate callers.

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Smallest post office gets net

A new network could transform the fortunes of rural post offices. SA Mathieson visits Britain’s tiniest post office to find out more

Visiting the smallest post office in Britain, in a beautiful part of the Highlands, was great fun. This was in the days when Royal Mail was calling itself Consignia, a thankfully brief period in its history.
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Let me be your fantasy: virtual actors, Final Fantasy, Guinness squirrels and Eyes Wide Shut

This article, on the possibilities and problems with virtual actors, still holds good a decade later. It’s very difficult to produce realistic humans (and why bother when, as one of the Mill’s staff said, there are thousands outside the window) – they either have to be perfect, or they fall into the ‘uncanny valley’ of looking nearly, but not quite, right. Instead, virtual actors are either cartoon-like (the route taken by Pixar) or used to add digital extras in post-production.

I don’t suppose many more films have added naked figures to HELP a film get a lower certificate from US censors – as revealed in the box at the end on Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (a section published in the paper but missing from the version available on the Guardian website).

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