E-tales: The Borg is with us

The ministry calls it a "helmet-mounted display system"

Bring out your dead

We know this actually makes sense, given all the phishing etcetera that goes on nowadays, but one e-taler was still intrigued by the following supplement to an “expression of interest” request for the government’s planned identity verification service:

“During the service user-enrolment process some "identity data searching, matching and screening" may be required to:

(a) verify that the user is unique (has not been issued an [Identity Verification Credential] already)

(b) verify that the user is alive (death checking).”

Our e-taler had visions of a quick pulse check, but assumes the author means “verify that the person the user claims to be is actually still alive”.

Late… far too late

The NZ Telecom launch of the Okata Touch last week – it has already been dubbed the “faux iPhone” – proved underwhelming in more ways than one.

An e-taler turned up for the launch, on time, and, with a fellow journo, was asked to step outside for 15 minutes as “the Telecommies weren't ready yet – one the speakers hadn't learnt his stuff yet.”

Our man declined the invitation, “so the speaker went somewhere else (the stairwell I think) and we waited... forty minutes later, I had to head off, so missed the lot.”

Maybe the “Telecommie” was trying to come up with reasons why it would be good idea to shell out $800 for a device that seriously underperforms the iPhone. Although it has yet to reach our fair shores, the iPhone is much better featured, according to our hardware reviewer. Actually, the touch-screen Okta is quite nice, she says. But how good it is in terms of value-for-money will depend on the local price of the iPhone – when it eventually arrives here.

The twain shall meet – over a beer

One of our other e-talers is obviously in a whimsical mood. Writing about the handicaps afflicting the local ICT industry, he mistyped “silicon”, inserting an extra “o”. Up popped MS’s spellchecker, with the suggestion that he make two words – silo icon.

“There it was, the problem summarised in two words.” We silo our endeavours into two disciplines which neither co-operate nor see each other’s point of view.

“The hardware people in Silo Icon Valley don’t talk to the software people. The open source champions don’t talk to the purveyors of proprietary software – and none of them mixes with the potential investors and learns to talk money-speak.”

Actually, it’s not quite as bad as that. A speaker at the recent NZX “Tech and the Markets” forum said that the computer people and the money people do drink in the same bars and play squash together, says our whimsical e-taler.

Gutted for Xmas

Here at E-tales we hadn’t intended to get into the whole Christmas-pressie thing so early, but… we love witty toy, so couldn’t resist the weird and wonderful “I Heart Guts!” range of plush toys.

They may have been designed for the smallest child as they’re so cuddly and all, but they’re also humorous and scientific, too. They’d probably make a great pressie for the geek in your life — always hard to choose for. Girl geeks would probably really love ’em, given the cushion factor. (Strangely, this repels some guys.)

Choices include the cuddly, anatomically correct “ I Got the Beat” red heart; “Urine Love” is, of course, a plush kidney, while “I Lung You” is E-tales fave, as it’s vaguely pillow-shaped so is useful too — the girl factor coming into play here, I'm afraid. Find them at the iheartguts.com site.

The Borg is with us

This is the sort of thing E-tales thought was confined to bad dreams and that memorable but very scary “Borg” Star Trek double episode. But, no, it is now very real, courtesy of the UK Ministry of Defence. As Gizmodo says, this thing will “scare the bejeezus out of enemies”.

The ministry calls it a “helmet-mounted display system”. Yeah, right. And what’s it for? — “flying, navigating and fighting”… and, oh, seeing through the floor of the cockpit with the aid of infra-red imagery.

Oh well, at least the pilot might get a bit scared, too.

When not to make that service call

Here's a tip: if you steal a printer used to print driver's licences, don't call the manufacturer asking for driver software.

It's a lesson that one Timothy Scott Short learned all too well last month, when he got arrested after placing a couple of calls to Digimarc's tech support line. He now faces charges for possession of "document-making implements", in connection with the theft of a Digimarc printer used by the US state of Missouri to manufacture driver's licences.

The printer, along with a PC, was stolen from a revenue department contract office and could be used to produce licences, says the department. But the PC was locked with a key that was stored in a secure location, making it temporarily unusable. Which is where those calls to Digimarc came in…

Our man could face 10 years in the clink and a US$250,000 fine.

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