Man scales new heights

An inflatable iceberg for the backyard pool is the next big thing

Untangling telecommunications

When the first telecommunications commissioner was appointed, in 2001 — with the hope of removing roadblocks to economical broadband internet — he was hailed in the press as the “appropriately named” Douglas Webb. Which makes us wonder: will his successor be nicknamed “Webb 2.0”?

Conversation in the text age

While demonstrating a voice-operated carphone to TUANZ members recently, Steve Shaw, of mobile ICT specialist Agile, said his son asked whether voice-operated texting is technically feasible. Shaw’s response: “Isn’t that called a conversation?”

Cost aside (texting being much cheaper than long-distance voice calls), there are advantages to voice-texting says a blind friend of our E-taler, who would love a voice-operated cellphone.

“In a lot of cases, I write more fluently than I speak,” he says. “But, after I’ve keyed something in, I want it read back to me so I can correct mistakes.”

While his is an unusual situation, he can appreciate that sighted people, too, might also value the opportunity to clean up errors. Spoken text isn’t nearly as odd an idea as it might appear at first, he says.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Microsoft tells us that Christchurch is New Zealand’s second-largest city — despite E-tales’ insistence it is the third-largest city.

You see, it all comes down to the fine print. Microsoft has decided that Auckland isn’t Auckland. It is, in fact, Auckland City, Manukau, the North Shore and some other place. And, it seems, Wellington is much smaller than we all suspected because it doesn’t include Lower Hutt, which means, therefore, that Christchurch is our second-largest city.

Fair enough, we thought. Actually, we didn’t. We thought, “No!” Never let a fact get in the way of an E-tale, we thought. Everyone knows Christchurch is New Zealand’s third-largest city.

Fortunately, it is. A quick look at Statistics New Zealand tells us that Auckland has 1.24 million people, Wellington has 370,000 and Christchurch has a mere 367,700.

Of course, if we took them by weight, instead, then it would be different again, but that’s probably splitting hairs.

The interconnectedness of things

This E-tale is brought to you by a Wellington-based newspaper that doesn’t like to attribute its leads to online publications, particularly when they’re blogs, despite almost everyone else including the New York Times doing so, and which then gets grumpy when said online publications, including blogs, write about the lack of attribution.

Actually, if you’re going to cover a story about a lack of attribution should you attribute any of your story to anyone?

Man scales new heights

This story is just for fun. One of our E-talers found this weird and wonderful object on BoingBoing and, well, spring is almost here, summer’s a-coming and a 14-foot inflatable iceberg is just the thing for the backyard pool. How's that for a stocking stuffer?

The pool-iceberg doubles as a climbing-wall, with ascents from easy to pro and is a cinch at US$9,000 (NZ$13,691).

Mobile manners

E-tales has an on-going interest in modern etiquette — it started with the whole, “No, you can’t text during dinner discussion.” So, we were interested to read the results of the UK’s Carphone Warehouse Mobile Life survey.

Apparently, 75% of people, including kids, think it is bad manners to chat on the phone during a family dinner. Does that extend to texting, too?

Here at E-tales we’re not sure about the morality of another popular use of texting though: 25% of under-25s surveyed said they had ended a relationship by text. Is this the modern equivalent of the “Dear John letter” or just plain callousness?

A significant number of young people are also running two phones so they can cheat on their partner.

We reckon they should be careful here, as some of them will be among those being unknowingly tracked by their partner. Well, it’s cheaper than a private investigator and if you’re hooked-up with a love cheat it’s fair game, surely?

For more on the survey, go to:

Diamonds now a guy’s best friend

And now for the guy who has everything, and is really troubled about what to spend his excess dosh on, there is the diamond-encrusted mobile phone. It is, despite its bling aspect, reasonably tasteful, featuring, as it does, diamond control buttons, rather than all-over large pointy encrustations.

The bling-phone hails from the Land of Banks, Switzerland, where they specialise in understated uber-consumption. It’s called the Black Diamond and, nice anti-bling touch this, it almost disappears when not in use, changing colour from silver to black.

According to online news site Ananova, only five are being made and there are already five possible takers: three Yanks, a Russki and the Sultan of Oman.

Mind you, it still reminds this E-taler of her daughter’s phone: the one with the little pointy plastic diamond stickers all over it. But it does cost a bit more at £200,000 (NZ$571,000).

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