Economy

Tracking GPS for sneaky spouses… Friendster follows Facebook into open developer territory… Child labour taint for GAP clothes… Farm sales to double… Easier being green

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GPS for sneaky spouses

All those satellites flying around in space must be expensive, so it’s good to finally see them being put to a really good use. The GPS Spouse Tracker is a pocket sized device that receives signals from satellites orbiting the earth, recording the Spouse Tracker’s location to within 2.5 metres every second.

All you need to do is slip the device into a handbag or attach it to a car (it has a built-in magnet for the purpose) and it will start doing its stuff. Then when you get the chance, schnaffle the device back, plug it into your computer, and out spits the recorded data.

You can display the data overlaid on a streetmap or satellite image display, giving you an accurate read on where the spouse/employee/business partner you have been tracking has been. Handy hey? Imagine the uses the high-tech bastard boss could come up with for it.

But keep in mind the hefty legal disclaimer the device has on its website – this could well be the sort of thing you want to get some legal advice on before using.

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Friendster launches developer platform

Friendster, a social networking site with 26.5 million active users worldwide, most of whom are in Asia, is following Facebook and throwing open its site to external developers, VentureBeat reports.

This means third parties can access user data and build applications within Friendster. Friendster is the first to follow Facebook after its huge success in bringing in outside developers, but giants such as MySpace and Google are planning similar moves.

Friendster is letting developers start building now, but not letting the applications go live until 30 November.

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GAP child labour scandal

US clothing maker GAP has been caught out for using child labour in its Indian factories in an investigation by Britain’s Observer newspaper. It’s not the first time the reputation of a global brand has been trashed for not complying with – or simply being unaware of – poor worker conditions in its supply chain.

In Britain, growing pressure on businesses in the 1990s to monitor the conditions of workers who made their products led to the Ethical Trading Initiative, an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations and trade union organisations promoting ethical consumerism.

ETI offers resources for companies including research on minimum labour standards suppliers should comply with, and ways to manage and implement an ethical sourcing strategy.

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The baby boomer farm exodus

Baby boomers are leaving the land in droves. Sales of farms in Australia’s eastern states will double in the next decade, says a forthcoming report by Charles Sturt University. It suggests the retirement of baby boomer farmers would double the number of farms sold in the next decade to 50% of all properties, up from an average of 25%, reports The Australian Financial Review.

Allan Curtis, of the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University, says that the drought, combined with strong demand for rural property and structural adjustments, would also encourage ageing cockies to sell-up, either to farm consolidators or for residential subdivision.

The survey, of a random sample of 1000 properties in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, found rural land prices were increasing as sharply as residential prices.

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Easier being green

Want to green your car fleet but the cost of hybrids putting you off? Norway’s new Think city electric car, about to hit the US market in the coming months, is revolutionising the auto industry by offering an owner financing package.

Manufacturers of the two-seat, electric-powered Think runaround are taking advantage of the auto industry’s transition to alternative fuel, in the face of oil-price hikes and consumer environmental concerns.

According to trend website Springwise, consumers will pay an estimated $US15,000 to $US17,000 for the vehicle, but the company plans to lease the Think’s battery for $US100 to $US200 a month. Smart idea, given the battery alone would cost around $US34,000 and would have a lifespan dependent on how the vehicle is used.

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