E-tales: Password ‘pron’

Beware of the SysAdmin

Password ‘pron’

E-tales heard a true industry confession last week in reference to international SysAdmin day. In another life, while still a bit green, said chap (who wishes to remain nameless) landed his very first job and immediately had his first interaction with the dreaded SA. It was day one on the job and he had to come up with his system password.

After much thought, presumably about making it something close to his heart and hard to guess, as well as something he wouldn’t mind typing in every day, said chap set his first-ever password.

A few minutes later he received his first work email — from the SysAdmin — saying: “I know what ‘poontang’ means”.

E-tales editor has obviously led a very sheltered life — she had to look the word up in the dictionary. If you, dear reader, are a sheltered soul too, just check out the Oxford.

Invisible girl

E-tales was checking out what’s on the agenda for the forthcoming Tech Ed New Zealand conference and was intrigued to see that WIT (Women in Technology) has a session, for the first time. But, try as we might, we couldn’t find any details. This has since improved, but it did leave us wondering: is this indicative of what Tech Work Girl complains about on her blog site, when she wrote recently that a fellow gamer (male) had said of women in IT: “They don’t exist”?

“It’s a rough industry, especially for working mothers,” added the self-described, 30-something network applications engineer, who doesn’t give her name. Given what has happened to some female bloggers we’re not surprised.

Our thoughts? The (female) editor of E-tales thinks the science and tech world really needs to lift its girl game. (See first E-tale for an indication of how far we still have to go.)

It is fast, aren’t they?

In researching the latest in technology, we have to plough through a lot of indifferent prose — and sometimes worse. For example, one would think that given the effort vendors put into making their websites attractive they might at least read over the text that goes between the pictures and logos to see it makes sense. Not always. This E-taler found a jewel of an example of singular-plural confusion last week on the site of the UK communications company O2.

“A few things you’ll notice when you use our cards are that it’s fast, allowing you to send and receive information,” says O2.

The cards referred to are “datacards”, credit-card-size modems that slot into the side of laptops. Our E-taler says he’s glad it (or they) allows the sending and receiving of information. A modem device (or devices) would be pretty useless without such capability.

Ducks ahoy!

Strictly speaking, this is not a techie tale, but E-tales felt sure it would appeal, given the enduring appeal of bath-time rubber ducks.

It seems that, after a mere 15 years at sea, a flotilla of 29,000 escaped rubber ducks is set to beach on Britain’s Cornish coast this northern summer. They fell off a Seattle-bound ship from China back in 1992, reports the BBC, and scientists have been following their around-the-world trip ever since — the ducks’ journey has provided a lot of new data about surface currents.

There have been breakaway ducks — which turned up as far afield as Hawaii, Indonesia, Australia and South America. These have become collectors’ items and are currently selling for £1,000 (NZ$2,562) on eBay. They’re identifiable by the words “First Years” stamped on them, as well as their bleached and battered appearance.

Dreaming of a right-on Xmas

E-tales reckons it may have found the Xmas gift of 2007 — it’s green, it’s cute and quite technically well-featured, too. It’s the “One laptop per child” (OLPC) machine. Developed by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC people plan to have the feel-good machines on sale for Xmas, but price may prove a problem.

The idea is to subsidise production, so the machines can be shipped out to needy African kids for just US$100. This means the OLPC makers need to subsidise manufacturing and hope to do just this with profits from Xmas consumer sales. The problem is the price tag could be a tad too high at, possibly, US$525 (NZ$652).

As Geekcorps’ Wayan Vota says, on olpcnews.com: “I wanna be the first geek on my block to own a One Laptop Per Child production-level laptop. Hell, I’d even buy an [OLPC] XO for every kid on my block, at US$176 or even US$350 dollars, but not $525 — 3x its current US$176 price.”

Baby, let me hug your car

Forget about teddy bears and I’m not sure exactly what size these plush cars are either, but I’ll bet there are little boys out there — and big ones too — who’d love to cuddle up with one of these in bed at night. Think anthropomorphic toys like Thomas the Tank Engine. (I remember my bro taking hard little dinky toy cars to bed — these would be much nicer.)

The cuddly cars are from Rocket Craft, which self-describes itself as “the stuffed animal end” of the car market and offers “stunning plush renditions of you car, bike, engine…” Found on the delightfully obsessive daddytypes.com “weblog for new dads” site.

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