E-tales: Olympic boys find ceiling’s the limit

The "IT Sistine Chapel ceiling" is the result of the lads down at Olympic Software NZ looking for a use for all their old MSDN CDs

Xtratrouble

Ever entered what seems like an infinite Kafkaesque loop? Well, if you haven’t, a little experience with Telecom should acquaint you with the unique feeling of frustration it imparts.

One of our e-talers was having trouble sending emails through Xtra last week, so he went to the Yahoo!Xtra help page. “Thank you for your email,” said the page. Our man then filled in all the necessary fields, only to have a reply come back saying he hadn’t filled in any of them!

A helpful message regarding queries then informed him that if he couldn’t get the answer he needed online he should email: broadband@xtra.co.nz. Of course, given the problem was he couldn’t send any emails… But, our resourceful chap did manage to send an email, via Google’s gmail. And, yes, you guessed it, he found himself back in the loop. “Thank you for your email. You have come through to an unattended mail box. For further information on Yahoo!Xtra Bubble please visit www.xtra.co.nz/updates.”

Fly me to the stars

Here’s one for the kids. If you are in Auckland, or passing through, this summer, then do pop in to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) and take a ride on Voyager 1. It’s a little bit cheesy at first, but then it kicks in and it’s plain brilliant, says one of our e-talers. Our man took an exhilarating ride across the Southern Alps, swooping in amongst the glaciers and lakes, and up some of the South Island’s best rivers, and came out shaking.

A stiff reminder

This e-tale is not terribly computer-oriented, apart from the implied suggestion that the Commerce Commission might want to re-design its emailing lists. Being interested in telecoms regulation and ICT issues, one of our e-talers was perusing said lists last week and was amazed at the amount of irrelevant stuff contained therein. One item caught his eye. It was a notice of the commission’s finding on cartel operation in the cardboard packaging industry. It was headed, rather eccentrically: “Cardboard media release”. Some might say a lot of publicity material could be so described.

Digital friends have a way to go

The Japanese have a thing about robots and a recent locally held showcase, by Japanese tech giant NEC, proved quite intriguing regarding where this might take us.

The robot showcased is called “PaPeRo”. It’s a sort of cross between R2-D2 — that’s the cute little Star Trek robot that squeaks in pseudo-binary — and a Tamagotchi (the tiny digital pets of the ’90s). Billed as a “home companion”, PaPeRo is quite cute but also flags some of the potential drawbacks of digital friends.

Science fiction has concentrated on the dangers from homicidal or “adulterous” robots, but PaPeRo is a rather more fragile beast. The NEC display stand bore the warning: “Do not take food or drink near PaPeRo”. Well, there goes the babysitting market, thought our e-taler. Clearly, a few more advances are needed before PaPeRo can function as a really useful digital pal.

And, what’s NEC focused on? An updated PaPe-jiro that can tell a joke. Cute, but again, not very useful.

Olympic boys find ceiling’s the limit

This little beauty arrived in E-tales’ email this week. Here at E-tales, we’re not quite sure if we would describe it as an “IT Sistine Chapel ceiling” but hey, it’s a fun idea. It’s also a recycling dream. It’s the result of the lads down at Olympic Software NZ looking for a use for all their old MSDN CDs.

“Our five-man IT department decided one day that we would put them to good use,” says Darrell Webster, who’s a technical services consultant at the firm.

“It can feel a bit cramped in our room, with all the computers, switches and repair/builds on the go. To create the perception of more space, we duplicated the supermarket ‘vegetable display’ effect. Some of our visiting suppliers/techos ask what the deal is with our ceiling. Our manager, Mal Bramley, replies, with his trademark and very serious poker face: ‘That’s our new PST and Leaving Staff archival system’.”

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