"Excuse me, I need to borrow your title. " That was "Grand Theft Auto IV" talking to "Halo 3" last week. "Halo 3" had been driving the title...

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“Excuse me, I need to borrow your title.”

That was “Grand Theft Auto IV” talking to “Halo 3” last week. “Halo 3” had been driving the title of biggest entertainment launch of all time since its debut last fall.

“GTA IV” jacked it with opening-week sales — April 29 to May 6 — topping $500 million globally. “Halo 3,” which was released only for the Microsoft Xbox 360, chalked up $310 million globally after its first week on the market.

We didn’t contribute to those first-week sales figures, only getting our “GTA IV” on Wednesday. We came into work a little bleary-eyed Thursday and Friday.

We also felt a twinge of apprehension when crossing the street on foot, remembering our own escapades from behind the virtual wheel the night before.

We were just over 10 percent through the game at the time of this writing. The weather for the weekend looked cloudy with a chance of rain. The lawn has to wait.

Another group that may not have contributed to those stellar first-week sales: unaccompanied minors.

The Federal Trade Commission released the results of its latest undercover shopper program.

The agency sends 13- to 16-year-old shoppers disguised like, well, 13- to 16-year-old shoppers, out to buy all the goods: R-rated movie tickets, CDs with the Parental Advisory Labels, unrated DVDs, and M-rated games.

Turns out the retailers selling M-rated games — suitable only for people 17 and over, according to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board — are doing a better job of carding would-be buyers.

Stores visited by the FTC’s secret shoppers sold M-rated games to children 20 percent of the time, down from 42 percent in 2006 and 85 percent in 2000.

We bought “GTA IV,” published by Take-Two Interactive, before reading the study. So we were a bit taken aback after we waded through the gaggle of sk8t kids congregating around the demo consoles in the Game Stop at Northgate Mall only to be carded by the store clerk.

Really? Not that we mind. But we got less scrutiny buying a bottle of bourbon for the Kentucky Derby.

We should not have been surprised, given the retailer. Game Stop / EB Games had the best performance of any retailer the FTC evaluated.

Shoppers hit up 66 Game Stop locations and were successful in buying M-rated titles only 6 percent of the time.

How did retailers in the other categories do? Not as well.

The FTC noted “roughly half of the undercover shoppers still were able to purchase R-rated and Unrated movie DVDs and [Parental Advisory Label] music CDs.”

Sip and talk

Coca-Cola has a way to get India to talk more.

The beverage giant is offering those who drink Sprite, the company’s lemon-lime soft drink, free cellphone talk time, according to a report in The Economic Times of India. The promotion, aimed at youth, involves dialing a nine-digit SMS code found under the caps of bottles of Sprite. That will send back a reply with a code that the drinker can use to possibly win free talk time, the report said

The company is said to have deals with Indian mobile-phone providers that enable it to reach 230 million mobile-phone users.

Virus attack

Surely, the subject of viruses comes up whenever Sun Microsystems holds a software conference. Unfortunately, the JavaOne event last week in San Francisco was hit by one.

Only this virus didn’t come in code and couldn’t be blocked by antivirus software. Instead, it was a medical one, as 70 people were afflicted by what officials believe was a norovirus, which is spread by touching dirty surfaces, according to a report in The Associated Press.

City officials warned people who thought they might be infected to stay home. The report said 67 of those affected were on the staff of the Moscone Center, site of the conference.

No one was hospitalized.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.