E-tales: jungle activity

A WEEK OF IT

And more jungle activity

E-tales’ editor’s recent telecomms story — in Open Circuit (Computerworld, July 21) — about the dairy industry got the competitive juices flowing, resulting in a media release from BayCity Communications. Apparently, said company has just released a “Rocket Broadband” service that is cheaper than the average of $200 a month that Dairy NZ general manager Eric Hillerton says most farmers get hit for if they go the satellite route — plus a $400 installation cost.

BayCity is boasting $50 a month plus $150 for installation price deal — GST comes on top of that. Of course, there are also leasing costs on top of that, so E-tales isn’t quite sure what the full price works out at — or whether buying a satellite dish is an option, which some people prefer to do — but, whatever, there seems to be a bit of competition happening, with the help of Thailand’s IPSTAR-1 satellite.

Pleased to meat you

One of our e-talers had the novel experience last week of meeting a contact-centre manager in the financial sector who said: “I used to be a butcher”.

Questioned about transferable skills between the two jobs, he conceded he’d started his contact-centre career on the front-line, which apparently isn’t too different to working in a butcher’s shop. It’s all about good customer relations and meeting the customer’s needs.

Contact-centre operators “upsell” to clients, which also isn’t very different to butchery. “Mrs Brown comes in for a few sausages and you persuade her she really wants a steak, too.”

Well, the human staff who sit behind the technology are sometimes referred to derogatorily as “meatware”. We knew there had to be a connection.

Follow the money — or not

All industries have their little buzz-phrases and E-tales heard a new one the other day — “fibre to the most economic point” as opposed to “fibre to the home”. It was coined (we think) by Alcatel-Lucent VP Ric Clark.

He was talking about how, until government and industry nut out who is going to pay for what — and if this is going to happen — when it comes to installing a national fibre-optic broadband network what you’re actually going to get is… fibre to the most economic point.

Nicely put, Ric.

Grid reference

“When we get going, the Access Grid will give you a kind of Brady Bunch effect... Brady Bunch? How about Celebrity Squares? Do we get that here?”

That was Impact ’08 seminar co-chair Don Hollander groping for a culturally meaningful reference to describe the mosaic of video-windows, showing people at various remote sites, which is the hallmark of the broadband Access Grid communication system.

On a good day, the Access Grid will give you sound too. But the day of the Impact ’08 conference was not a good day — not in Wellington, anyway. The KAREN network still has a way to go, it seems.

Robots ’R Us

And now for something seriously cute — and fun. Lego robots for the primary school set, called, appropriately, “WeDO”. E-tales’ editor can definitely see where that’s coming from, having had a once-was-toddler whose constant refrain was “I dood it!”

Now, the 7-11-year-olds that WeDo is aimed at can “dood it” with Lego’s soon-to-be-released junior Mindstorms, which is a step-up from Lego bricks but not as difficult Mindstorms, although it sounds pretty full-on.

There are gears and levers, a USB Hub that connects to a variety of computers, to allow junior to control his or her creation, and icon-based programming, and, of course, lots of bricks.

E-tales can feel Christmas coming on early this year. We can’t wait to play “Amazing Mechanisms”, “Wild Animals” and “Play Soccer”. Lego does say WeDo’s for beginners and experienced users (aka grown-ups) alike.

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