E-tales: Girls just wannna have laptop fun

The pink-and-bling approach to sexing up tech products for women takes off

Phone home — but they don’t always answer

Honorary E-taler Fred Alvrez felt compelled to send us his tale of cellphone woe. He recently took a short 10-day trip to the US, he tells us. “I duly set my Vodafone mobile up for roaming over there, which, while costing two arms and a leg, worked fine until I tried to get my voicemail and couldn’t.

“I dug out the brochure the Vodafone guy had given me and found the New Zealand number which I could call ‘anytime’; [I] decided it was worth $3 a minute to get help, so I rang the number from Texas. After going through the prompts, I then got a voice-prompt telling me I was calling outside Vodafone’s hours and, please, could I call back?

“I guess you can call whenever you want, they just won’t answer...”

Girls just wannna have laptop fun

E-tales’ editor has long bemoaned the pink-and-bling approach to sexing up tech products for women. Accordingly, she was pleased to come across the colour Sony Vaio laptop range recently. We don’t know what’s driving it, but apparently Dell has gone all colourful as well. Anyway, although released last year, and featuring pink in the range — for the terminally feminine — there are a host of other hot Sony colours, too.

The more sophisticated marketing approach obviously works, too, if the E-tales editor’s teenage daughter’s reaction is anything to go by. Keen to acquire a pack-up-and-go slimline laptop for uni next year, she’s been exploring Auckland’s Sylvia Park Sony store and, yes, she likes the coloured Vaios.

She wants one in orange and she likes its portability, too, and the fact that it can take her iTunes library — something sadly beyond her present “old-school laptop”, as she dimissively refers to her ancient Toshiba Satellite. It was quite nifty for a cheapie laptop in its day, but no more.

Elephant poop or MS security — you choose

What’s the worst tech job in the world? How about sewage diving? Yeah, we wondered if it counted as a tech job, too, but Popular Science magazine thinks it does and dubs the foolhardy, but well-paid, chaps the “Jacques Cousteaus of the sewers”. The US magazine has just come out with its latest “Ten Worst Jobs in Science”. These include collecting elephant poop, being an elephant vasectomist (which entails wielding a four-foot-long fibre-optic laparoscope) and being a garbologist — think Indiana Jones in a dumpster. And, number six on the list, being a “Microsoft Security Grunt”.

These unfortunate guys have to deal with around 100,000 dings in their inbox every year and the hackers never give up either, seeing crippling Microsoft as “the geek equivalent of taking down the Death Star”. The punters don’t even like the products either — apparently, about 30% of CIOs have now ditched some Windows platforms.

So, sewage, ball-busting, poop-collecting or security-grunting — take your pick. We just hope the money’s good.

Google reaches boiling point

Surnames that are also words can be a handicap when it comes to Google searches. Looking for Sean Boiling’s blog, before a recent local interview with the BEA Sydney systems engineering manager, one of our E-talers came up with “Boiling it Down”, a blog by one Andrew Robertson; something obscure about frogs being gradually heated-up in water — as a metaphor for Intel — and an article about the effect of boiling on the anti-cancer properties of broccoli.

The problem is that Google finds a sort of search-page-cum-portal for things to do with boiling and blogs, and this contains a pointer to Sean Boiling’s blog, as well as all the other “boiling” links. Presumably it’s all really just a commercially motivated attempt to sidetrack the searcher. Ah, the internet — an eternal mystery...

Ring until the cows come home

Now here’s a novel cellphone use, courtesy of New Scientist. Gujariti villagers in India have got fed-up with wild leopards wandering into town. So a forest ranger has come to their aid, coming up with a novel way of capturing the wandering big cats — by playing animal ringtones through speakers mounted on a cage. It’s a humane trap, a variation on the chocolate mousetrap cage, but without the food — just the suggestion of food. And the leopard’s favourite dinner? Cow. Except, of course, they don’t get any. So far, five leopards have been caught.

PC potshot

MySpace was the cause of an argument that resulted in an American man shooting his wife’s computer. According to news site Ananova, Jason Griffith, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, fired a bullet into his wife’s PC after finding her chatting to other men on MySpace when he returned home in the early hours of the morning. Griffith has been charged with reckless endangerment and harassment, among other offences.

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