Bond girls secret honeys only

Britain's Secret Intelligence Service female employees will not be used as honey traps

Where am I?

A Computerworld journalist calls directory services to get the main switchboard number at Parliament. The 018 operator asks: “Is that in Wellington?”

Breaking-up in MySpace

A couple in their mid-twenties — friends of one of our E-talers — recently broke up, after having been together for nearly three years. They had “the talk” and moved out of their shared flat, but, as the guy put it, “It wasn’t until I saw that she had changed her status to single on MySpace that it really dawned on me that we had actually broken up.”

Sony puts the screws on

It’s long been the case, especially since electronics started to become commoditised, that companies have sought to rake in the dosh from smaller purchases. Quite understandable, but customers are, equally understandably, often less than impressed. Printer cartridges are an example here — their outlandish prices only dropped when rivals started to undercut them.

E-tales came across a spectacular example of accessories price-gouging this week, courtesy of the UK Guardian’s technology page. It seems Sony is charging a whopping 61.31 (NZ$110) for spare screws for its XS8303 loudspeakers. Actually that’s per screw — not, say, for a packet of a dozen, as one might expect, especially at that price. The usual price for similar in the hardware store is around 10 cents.

And, it seems, we’re not the only ones outraged. Geekzone is similarly incensed and sought to compare prices. One commentator said: “Odd, because I’m sure I saw an identical screw at Mitre 10 this morning for about 10 cents, or would that not be compatible with Sony’s SRM (Screw Rights Management).”

Legoless fun...

Let’s get Legoless. Here’s a bit of innocent fun, courtesy of New Scientist’s blog: a DIY 3D scanner made of Lego, a webcam and a saucer of milk, so to speak.

I know, what’s the point? But that is the point. The picture shows a webcam, held up by Lego, trained on a plastic box (ice cream container?). The object to be scanned is placed in the box which is then slowly filled with milk. This provides a high-contrast background as a series of outlines are layered on top of each other by the software, to produce a 3D model.

Curiously, the idea is neither as new nor as bizarre as it might seem. Apparently, Michelangelo did something similar when carving his David by first submerging a wax model of David in water, and then “scanning” the 3D model, transferring what he saw to the finished marble as the water level was lowered day-by-day.

Team tag

Every so often a voicemail message makes you pause and scratch your head. For example, one of our E-talers recently called a contact at a large Auckland firm and got a curious message: “You can try calling my mobile on [number] or, if you want a reply immediately, you can talk to my colleague [name] on…”

Well, thought our E-taler, I’ll have to dial another number either way and how will the colleague give me a more immediate response? After all, my contact and I have already done one round of “telephone tag” and at least she’ll know what I’m calling about.

Or was this really a discreet message indicating the person concerned hardly ever switches her cellphone on?

Bombs away

One of our E-talers has done his bit to put Wellington up there with New Plymouth and Auckland when it comes to interest in bomb-making — as measured by Google online search activity.

There was a recent story about this which said the residents of the latter two cities had shown the most interest in the topic. Checking it out, our

E-taler realised that in doing so he had inadvertently contributed to upping the windy city’s tally of bomb-making searches by two. This is how these things happen. But, he mused, wouldn’t genuine bomb-makers use a proxy server to conceal their whereabouts? On the other hand, we’re probably just dealing with bored and curious teenagers here.

Bond girls secret honeys only

Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, or M16 as it’s called in Bond movies, has recently gone all out to attract women to the service and added a section on careers for women to its website. And, interesting reading it makes too. It seems real-life Bond girls don’t have to be married to the service — they can have husbands and children too — and no, they will not be used as honey traps.

“Absolutely not. The Service does not use this or similar tactics,” says the website FAQ, which will probably lead to disappointment in some circles.

Boring but very, very safe

A virus notice on Symantec’s website carries the following warning: “Symantec... strongly urges users to be cautious of any unsolicited email that contains attachments that claim to be legitimate or interesting.”

Useful advice to those issuing media releases, perhaps: do not on any account suggest they might be interesting.

And virus-watchers? Be suspicious of any heading that sounds a little too interesting. Symantec gives examples associated with the virus under discussion. They include: “Fidel Castro dead”; “Saddam Hussein alive” and “Naked teens attack home director”.

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