Social skills netted

Kids do Facebook, while grown-ups do pubs

Surfing against the gender grain

As new parents discover, when trying out gender-bending toys on their offspring, boys do cars and girls do dolls. Well, it seems the same applies to the web. NZ Marketing magazine recently published a list the top local websites (courtesy of Neilsen//NetRatings) and, yes, big boys also go for cars…and computers, and sports and money.

Girls? Well, they go for girly stuff — fashion, fun, weddings and babies. So far so stereotypical… but then there is a significant minority who surf against the gender grain, which would be great if IT companies didn’t still think that “pinking-up” their products was the only way to a geek girl’s heart.

For the record, 77% of Computerworld’s online readers are boys, but a whopping 81% of sister (should it be brother?) publication Reseller News’ readers are of the male persuasion.

In whom we trust — still

HP and Sony may have a few trust issues, but it seems these are known only to the tech sector. Despite the 2005 scandal over its surreptitious distribution of rootkit software on CDs, Sony has just managed to score the No.9 spot in the 2007 Reader’s Digest Most Trusted People survey.

Hewlett-Packard came in as the most trusted computer brand — at number 41. The latter has been involved in a more recent scandal, involving pretexting, which saw company spies lie about their identities to gain access to reporters’ phone records.

On the telecoms front, mobile phone brand Nokia is the most trusted mobile — it shared 14th place with New Zealand Post as the most trusted retailer. It has no trust issues as far as E-tales knows.

From homey to hottie — and back again

Perhaps people’s approval of HP has something to do with its new line of cheap but cute PCs. It seems the HP bods have finally cottoned-on to the “design sells” idea.

According to The New York Times, the company looked at the market, figured out that to make money you had to be either stylish or super-cheap and that, as the market shifts from desktops to laptops, style matters.

The rest, as they say, is history. Or, as Current Analysis West’s Samir Bhavnami put it: “HP is like the plain girl from high school that you see three years later and she is a bombshell, while Dell is the hot girl from high school who has gained 30 pounds.”

Whatever. HP’s sleek new PCs have resulted in a 9% increase in PC sales in a flat market. Now, let’s see what Dell comes up with.

Apples, lies and videotape

On the subject of style and substance, or no substance, an interesting blog item has thrown up the fact that Strategic Analysis’ opinion that “90% of handset-owners rate Apple iPhone experience superior” is just that — an opinion. And a dodgy one at that.

It seems it’s based on 34 people watching a video about the iPhone and saying they liked it. As The Sydney Morning Herald’s blog, which checked out the so-called survey put it: “It’s just another case of Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field at work.”

Naked phishing

Oh, the poor lad. He just couldn’t help himself. It’s boy nature to zoom-in on any young lady flashing bare bazookas in a lad’s direction. Which is exactly what Mark Whitehorn, a journalist with online news site The Register did.

There he was, engaging in another typical lad pursuit, checking out eBay for car spare parts, and there she was, reclining half-naked in a Bentley. And, as any psychologist will tell you, the hand moving to the mouse, to click the link to facilitate a better look… well, the brain just switches off, testosterone takes over and the phishers are in. Which is obviously what the eBay bods should know too, except it apparently took them two hours to get onto the problem. It seems, they rely on user feedback to identify such fraudulent listings — see story below.

School’s out forever

Ebay’s obviously really got problems. It has had to pull yet another sale item down — this time for a British public school (think Auckland’s King’s College… for some reason, Britain’s private schools are called “public”).

Anyway, pupils at Stamford School, Lincolnshire, recently put their school up on eBay, on the cheap. Apparently, it’s not quite as good as it used to be, but when the bidding stands at a modest £125,100 (NZ$341, 266), for what’s described as “worthless old tat!” you can’t complain.

E-tales thinks, on balance, it’s not a bad way of venting those “I hate school” feelings.

Social skills netted

The thing about human communication is it’s so simple that sometimes the brightest just don’t get it. Originally, the internet was touted as a great way for the socially inept to communicate. Well, UK Guardian tech columnist Charlie Brooker has just proved what we always suspected: it’s possible to be socially inept online, too.

Charlie details his Facebook encounters in a recent column, in which he finds that Facebook is really just small talk online.

However, his column did generate lots of helpful suggestions: if you make the effort to get past the initial awkwardness most people have something interesting to say. There were also commiserations about Charlie’s possible mild asperger’s and the observation: kids do Facebook, while grown-ups do pubs.

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