Dreaming of a rad Christmas

Get some exercise and human interaction with Nintendo Wii

Dreaming of a rad Christmas

It’s small, it’s red and it epitomises radical cool: it’s the U2-sponsored, Santa-red special edition iPod. It’s also the nearest thing to the tech toy of Christmas 2006 we’ve got.

Here at E-tales we like it very much. And we like the US$10-an-iPod that will go to the Global Fund, which is helping fight AIDS in Africa. At $349 and $449 (for the 4Gb and 8Gb versions, respectively), we did wonder why not more charity dollars … but we won’t go there.

Last year was the Year of the Robot, with cute robot dinosaurs, etcetera. This year hasn’t produced a punchy tech toy, although we reckon the latest version of Buzz will hit the spot for family fun, as should SingStar’s Legends — for all those missed-out songsters and air guitarists.

And more fun again, especially as it gets players off the couch, will be the Nintendo Wii. Sort of gaming for the rest of us — ie, those who don’t want to spend hours in the bedroom honing their gaming trigger finger.

Games involve using the controller like a magic wand, to swing a sword or a racquet, or (inevitably) shoot a gun, but at least players are on their feet and, hopefully, in the living room interacting with the rest of the human race, and getting some exercise too.

When you’ve tired yourself out, there’s also a geeky book that might be worth a look: Think Like A Rocket Scientist. Most intriguing, we thought. New Scientist reports that it offers mental tricks of the trade.

But be warned, even eggheads make mistakes — as in the Mars Climate Orbiter which crashed because no one bothered to check who was working in imperial units and who was doing metric calculations. A case of boffin absent-mindedness no doubt.

Racy navel-gazing

How old is too old? Borland country manager Chris Gray may have an answer. At the Trentham races recently, while enjoying corporate hospitality, he got roped into a hen party in the same area. The bride-to-be was given a number of tasks, including finding an elderly gentleman and kissing him on the lips. Guess who got chosen?

Gray, who turned a sprightly 50 this year, played his part, but was a little miffed he wasn’t invited to participate in the follow-up. Said bride-to-be stretched herself out on a table and invited the young men present to sup a tequila shooter from her navel. After Mrs Gray stopped laughing, she took the “elderly gentleman” off to the formal celebration of their wedding anniversary.

Telcos play pass the customer

How many relationships have the telcos sundered this Christmas? Some text and voice messages, through both Telecom and Vodafone, are currently arriving hours late — sometimes the next day — and the aggrieved better halves are not buying the telcos’ lame excuses.

One industry identity tells us he rang Vodafone to complain and was told it was Telecom’s fault. Telecom, in turn, pointed the finger at Vodafone. It seems the worst delays occur when one party is a Telecom customer and the other a customer of Vodafone. Interconnection remains a contentious issue, it appears.

Grid your teeth

A recent survey of local attitudes to grid computing, carried out by a major company, asked IT and business respondents to say whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: our IT infrastructure is no more of a problem to us than the rest of the organisation’s business infrastructure.

Apparently, 16% of the IT respondents agreed with this statement (out of five alternatives). While this could be taken as meaning some IT managers view their department’s infrastructure rather negatively, some business respondents (less than 10%) agreed with this statement: our IT capabilities are a major hurdle to our competitiveness in the market.

But at least no business respondents agreed with the first statement, the one about their IT infrastructure being no more of a problem to us than the rest of the organisation's business infrastructure.

Fear and loathing in the blogosphere

Some people still don’t quite get the internet — or maybe it’s just fear. E-tales recently came across a comment from one Brian Williams, big NBC anchorman, who is not at all keen on blogging.

“It could destroy us,” he wails. “We are choosing cat-juggling videos over well-researched newscasts.”

What’s wrong with that, we ask? But seriously, we reckon Williams is more concerned about the democratic, voice-of the-people aspect of blogging, as he made the comment in a recent meeting with Arianna “Queen of the Blogosphere” Huffington. Check out the whole fascinating debate in the interview on The Observer’s website — it says Huffington Post (a two-year-old leftie website) is causing big political waves in the US. ’Nuff said.

How many Vista engineers…

Here’s a version of the old “How many … does it take to change a light bulb” joke, courtesy of The Guardian: How many … does it take to turn off a Vista PC? Answer: 43.

So says Moishe Lettvin, who spent a year working on one Vista feature which, he says, should have taken a week but took three teams of eight programmers plus six layers of managers, and a manager to manage them all, and 12 months to develop. All to devise a laptop “off” menu that gives users 15 different ways to shut down their laptop. What is they say about design by committee?

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