HMV tweets, Xbox hoax top the week in off-beat tech stories


This week, we saw a brand new 128GB Apple iPad, a spate of major U.S. newspapers getting hacked by the Chineseand a whole lot of buzz about BlackBerry 10. But were also a host of off-beat tech stories making rounds.

SWAT team surround Florida home after Xbox hoax

Being woken up in the middle of the night is bad enough, but it's even worse when your bleary eyes are faced with armed police officers. That's what one Oviedo, Fla. family claims to have happened to them as part of a hoax that started on the Xbox, reports WFTV in Orlando.

The police were reportedly responding to a call claiming that someone was hiding in a house where a family member had been killed, and others were being held hostage. But after the confusion, police found that the teenager's Xbox account had been hacked. Those responsible were trying to extort information out of him. When the teenager refused, the hackers called in the threats.

Man kept alive on homemade dialysis machine for 13 years

If you thought medical insurance and hospital bills were bad, you could always take the unconventional routes to get better, like one Chinese man did, The Daily Mail reports.

He has so far survived 13 years on a homemade dialysis machine, made up from kitchen utensils and other household items, after his savings dried up and could no longer afford treatment. He says that the cost is about 12 percent of what the hospital charges. Hu was offered state aid for his medical costs, which would cost the same amount as his dialysis home-brew, but refused because the local hospital was too far away and too crowded, he said.

French government bans term "hashtag," coins own phrase

Au revoir, "hashtag." Bonjour, "mot-diese." That's exactly what the French government did this week when it banned the Twitter term and replaced it with its own Gallic replacement, Time reports. It's part of move by France's "language police" -- the Commission Generale de Terminologie et de Neologisme -- to preserve the dulcet tones and historical purity of the French language, in spite of a bevy of new words that continually add to the language.

In 2011, French authorities banned broadcasters from using trademarks and company names on air, such as Facebook, unless the terms were integral to the news story. Before you "email" your complaint to the Commission, that word has been banned, too.

German court: Internet access is "essential" to life

Food, water, clean air and freedom of speech -- all things that are integral to the lives of European citizens every single day. Add one more to the list: Internet access, ruled a German court this week.

One German citizen was reportedly unable to use his Internet connection, landline phone or fax for two months, but was given a replacement mobile phone by his Internet provider, Reuters reports. While he already received compensation for the loss of phone service, he wanted to be compensated for lack of Web access.

According to a court spokesperson speaking on German television, the loss of Internet use is "comparable to the loss of use of a car."

HMV employee tweets firing is a "mass execution" on Twitter

Companies and businesses, listen up. If you're going to fire a bunch of your employees, make sure you lock down the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts first. Otherwise, you might get your employees tweeting their sacking in to thousands of followers.

That's what happened to U.K.-based music retailer HMV after an employee used the official company Twitter account to live tweet the meeting with human resources, likening  the layoffs to a "mass execution." The company entered a form of bankruptcy protection earlier this month following financial troubles amid rival online stores.

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    Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET and CBS News. He is based in New York City.