MP3 players are nothing but tarted-up mini hard drives

Also in E-tales: Mobile technology for losers

Geographically challenged I

Computerworld recently received a media release from a security software vendor. It read: “[Said vendor] today issued a stark warning to businesses across Europe about the dangers of deploying a single antivirus engine”.

So far, so sensible, but a couple of sentences later the release says: “We’d be grateful if you would include this news in Computerworld New Zealand.”

We can’t quite figure out the logic of using Computerworld New Zealand as a medium for issuing a warning to businesses across Europe. Is the vendor hoping ICT managers at European businesses will log on to Computerworld NZ at night and tell their bosses about the problem the next day?

Geographically challenged II

Here at E-tales headquarters we often receive gifts from companies who think our affections can be bought cheaply. They’re quite right, of course, but even we have limits.

Toll Holdings, owner of the trains but not the tracks (or is it the locomotives but not the tenders? Or the sleepers but not the gravel?) recently sent us a lovely invite to something or other, in the form of a squeezy ball, amusingly decorated to look like the Earth.

However, sendee Toll Holdings, being Australian, left New Zealand off the map. Well, most of it. There’s something that could, if you squint, be the South Island, but only on a good day with a tail wind.

We aren’t alone, either. Toll hasn’t bothered with Sweden, and the UK seems to consist of Scotland and not a lot else. It’s pretty odd, particularly when Madagascar, for example, is clearly represented.

It’s all a little worrying, coming from a company that specialises in transportation. But then, Toll did put its New Zealand headquarters on Auckland’s North Shore — about as far away from the train tracks as you can get and still be on dry land.

Loser tech

E-tales’ spoonerism of the week must go to the tech ideas-man who enthused about the latest tech device just a tad too much at a Wellington meeting last week.

Speaking of the newest thing in mobile technology, he came up with: “a loser yocation system”.

Just the right term, we think, for a device to get mobile-phone spam through the filter, and then advise the hapless phone-owner, loudly, of the supposed merits of the restaurant or supermarket he or she has just passed.

Dr Google

Now, aside from more popular uses of the internet, another favourite use of the medium is DIY doctoring. Down here at E-tales HQ we’re all in favour of googling for a second (or even first) medical opinion. Indeed, more enlightened GPs don’t mind either, as they can’t know everything and it saves them work. But now we have some feedback on google-doctoring.

A couple of Aussie doctors recently tried googling various medical symptoms, to help them diagnose 26 cases. The result: Google got it right 15 out of the 26 times. The doctors concerned think this is a good result. We’re not so sure. We still think googling helps, but the off-the-cuff test by two bored doctors on night-shift just proves seeing a doc, rather than going wiki-hunting, is still the best way to go.

But there is a rider: if you’re prepared to really trawl, you’ll start to find seriously useful information from about page 20 onwards of your Google search. It all argues for a better search-engine, really.

El cheapo iPods

The vending machine is not such a big thing here, but go to Tokyo and they spit out a virtual cornucopia of products. An Aussie entrepreneur, Gower Smith, wants to bring an updated version, featuring multiple touch-screen payment options, to Aussie-land. But the smart version, or robot shop, would stock glitzy items such as iPods and other high-value products from the likes of Motorola and Sony, as well as posh cosmetics.

We can see there is a good idea in here, especially the networking-back-to-HQ to check stocks, but the security aspect has us a bit worried. If isolated chocolate-bar vending machines get broken into, what’s going to happen when the prize is an iPod nano? But then, now that you can buy iPods at The Warehouse and cheapo hi-fis at the supermarket, maybe MP3 players are on their way to becoming McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. They are, after all, just tarted-up mini hard drives.

Storing up trouble

A most ingenious Google-substitution recommendation was reported by one of our E-talers this week. While searching for the date on which EMC acquired RSA, he typed in “EMC acquired RSA” and got a slew of pertinent references — but also a polite Google inquiry: “Did you mean ‘EMC acquired MRSA’?”

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is one of those nasty flesh-eating bugs.

It’s a fate we wouldn’t wish on anyone in the industry — or their products. Imagine having necrotising fasciitis (the medical term) afflicting your disks and tapes?

But don’t laugh — a speaker at a recent conference claimed, in all seriousness, that such bugs can breed in the dust that accumulates in PC innards and is then helpfully blown out into the room by the computer’s cooling fan.

Grubby keyboards have already been fingered as a major agent in spreading the nasty bug, so we reckon our man is right.

New BSoD coming real Zune now

E-tales hasn't seen the Zune yet, but we're already floored by an error messages produced by it:

Makes the iPod looks positively frumpy, doesn't it?

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