E-tales: Steampunk’s brassy beauty

Tech marries nostalgic Victoriana

Baby Boomers show Borat boys the way

What rides a Segway and wears a lime-green Borat G-string? A “Gen Y-er” starring in the recent Women in Technology leadership debate. The “Y” debate team, which also featured a young female “Y-er”, who we were pleased to note had her two Borat boys on trouser-belt leash, told the audience that although “we are said to be in love with ourselves” Y-ers now dictate 81% of consumer spending. Definitely a worry when the debate is about whether “Y-ers” or Baby Boomers are the most fit to lead.

The greyer Baby Boomers, who believe 50 is the new 30 and “death is just an option”, actually won the debate — based on audience applause — but E-tales is concerned about them, too. They sound a bit delusional. Still, it was a well-attended night — organiser Cheryl Horo was rapt that 200 turned up for the Auckland do, with 150 expected for the Wellington bash.

• Cautionary tale for those many young techie “Y-ers” who prefer caffeine to food: fit young Aussie Matthew Penbross, 28, recently managed to give himself a heart attack after consuming way too many Red Bulls. The formerly four-Red Bulls-a-day concreter is definitely changing his caffeine-binging ways after his heart-stopping shock.

Steampunk’s brassy beauty

Amid all the grot and porn and boring bits, the web is still home to some amazing stuff. This week, E-tales was seriously taken with the steampunk website, which shows users how to make marvellous things that marry tech with nostalgic Victoriana. For instance, check out this wonderful modified laptop, which has been encased in mahogany-stained pine and now also has brass feet.

It’s not quite the kind of garage inventiveness that led to the Mac and PC, as this was more concerned with engineering, but Apple has long been keen on elegant styling. Apparently, steampunk is a sci-fi idea that describes technology growing up in a Victorian gaslight age. Not very logical, but the site is still a joy. E-tales particularly liked the Stratocaster clockwork guitar. Musos will love it, find it at:

steampunkworkshop.com/

Watch for it

Janet Mazenier, the Ministry of Economic Development’s Digital Strategy programme manager, told the recent IDC "Government Insights" conference that progressive miniaturisation of electronics could soon see a terminal being “worn as a rich watch”. Of course she meant “wristwatch”, but judging by the prices charged for portable music players, we reckon it’s the right description.

One thing’s for sure, once the digital wrist-terminal arrives, the spam offering them at deep discount won’t be far behind — the logical follow-up to the fake Rolex and Patek Philippe, we think.

How not to Marshal your forces

Security specialist Marshal recently chose an odd way to promote itself — via a PR showing of the new Bruce Willis movie, Die Hard 4.0. But first, E-tales has to warn you: plot spoiler ahead. Mind you, as Willis’ hyper-active movies can be plot-challenged, knowing the plot in advance tends not to detract from the all-action fun.

Die Hard 4.0 involves hackers and crooks teaming up to steal billions. In the process, they bring down the US government’s computer system. So far, so predictable, but this could be great PR for the security tech industry should brain-power beat the cyber-crooks. But, no, fists win the day — as you’d expect with Willis.

But there’s possibly a second lesson here, in the crooks using open-source software for their nefarious purposes. The lesson being: if you come up with a clever piece of software, for heaven’s sake, lock it up under protection of a licence. The proprietary software merchants are the good guys, after all.

We’re still not sure how all this promotes the security software industry, though.

Sheep in space

Here’s a tale that appeals in a strange way as it concerns sheep — New Zealand still has a lot, even if milking the land, literally, is currently more profitable. Anyway, online tech tabloid The Registerasks: “What is the velocity of a sheep in a vacuum?” The weird question arises because El Rego recently opined that the red-giant star Mira was travelling at 150,000 times the average speed of a sheep.

So, how fast does a sheep travel in a vacuum, then? Well, apparently it travels at 5,995 km/sec.

This figure is arrived at by dividing the speed of light by the average wooldrag (Wd) of, say, a Cheviot, + Welshmen (Wm) — check out El Rego for why the presence of Welshmen, and possibly substitute Kiwis — and, hey presto, the standard velocity for a sheep in a vacuum is: c/(50+0).

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