Pluto strikes back

Start calling Pluto an asteroid and it may start acting like one

Out-in-the-cold Pluto’s hot retort

You need to be very, very careful when you upset something as big as a planet — even a tinsy little one like Pluto, and even if it is, seemingly, no longer a real planet.

Said planetoid is out in the cold — it was recently reclassified as a “minor planet”, an asteroid, in fact, on account of its size. And, according to the Baltimore Sun, it is pretty miffed that, despite its icy demeanour, it is no longer considered cool enough to be a full planet, all on account of its size and tight relationship with Uranus, into whose backyard it occasionally strays.

“But I am a sphere,” it retorts — one of the definitions of a planet. Check out the cool planet’s witty response to its downgrading at baltimoresun.com/news.

E-tales reckons you need to be pretty careful around big guys like Pluto though, as the billboard poster below warns. Start calling Pluto an asteroid and it may start acting like one.

KK the Cooc

Whenever a new abbreviation comes up in this business there’s an irresistible urge to ponder how it might go over as an acronym.

A development of the ever-proliferating “CxO” genre is Kevin Kenrick’s role at Telecom: Chief Operating Officer Consumer. That’s chief operating officer for the consumer sector of the market. We don’t think he’s tasked with devouring the COO.

But E-tales can’t help wondering if Telecom staff call him “the cook” or “the kook” behind his back.

Re-colonising the CIO

Meanwhile, industry commentator George Colony suggested in a recent column that we should retire the CIO (Chief Information Officer) abbreviation and, in recognition of the fact that business needs should come before IT, call the person holding that office the Chief Business Technologist, or CBT.

Unfortunately, CBT is already something of an overloaded abbreviation. Its meanings include: computer-based training, computer-based testing, complete binary tree (a data structure), cognitive behavioural therapy, compulsory basic training (what you need in the UK to be licensed to ride a motorcycle) and something hair-raisingly painful that decency forbids us from reprinting.

Caught on film

Management at a large local systems integrator received an urgent request for more bandwidth. Usage was up to 85%. It turned out that staff were happily downloading old movies. A polite message went out to cease and desist, and usage subsequently fell to less than 50%.

Not so square Telecom

Here at E-tales, we’re not normally given to extolling the virtues of telcos, but we were quite taken with a witty wee freebie that arrived last week, courtesy of Telecom’s marketing boys and girls — although we’re willing to bet this one was a girl-idea.

What was it? Well, it came in the form of a square box, but it wasn’t a square idea, rather a slim black box which contained an equally slim chocolate brownie cake, whose top was scored so as to resemble a laptop keyboard with the “keys” being dusted with icing sugar. It tasted good, too. The aim: to advertise the telco’s Xtra wi-fi-in-the-home service.

The service isn’t new, so we’re not sure what’s going on here promotion-wise (too much downtime in marketing, maybe). But, hey, what we really liked was that it wasn’t an expensive bribe, and that it was more original than the usual cap/T-shirt/pen giftie-combo.

MS: We can be insultingly human, too

A pair of faux Microsoft corporate training videos that star the makers of that great comedy series, The Office— and have a dig at founder Bill Gates’ and Microsoft’s corporate culture — have become two of the most popular non-adult-oriented videos on Google’s video search engine.

The ostensible training videos feature David Brent, the giggly, arrogant, self-deluding middle-manager of a suburban London paper vendor, as a management consultant brought in to advise Microsoft’s British employees on how to better themselves.

Brent, played by The Office co-creator Ricky Gervais, ends up making inane suggestions, blithely insulting Microsoft employees by calling them “little nerds”, and riling a Microsoft “employee”, interviewing him to the point of physical violence. That character is played by the other Office co-creator, Stephen Merchant.

The existence of the videos has long been rumoured as they were first made in 2003 — just after The Office’s UK run ended. The show won an Emmy in the United States and has spawned a hit American version.

The first training video, Office Values, is now the 33rd most popular video on Google Video, behind an eclectic assortment of homemade spoofs and sexually themed video clips. Google Video competes with sites such as YouTube, iFilm and Yahoo Video, which all also host or have links to copies of the video.

A number of self-deprecating Microsoft-produced videos have come out of the company in the last year, softening its normally humourless public persona.

Last year, the TechNet team for Microsoft UK released a video called We Share Your Pain that showed Microsoft programmers being zapped with electrodes or jabbed with metal points whenever a software bug they were responsible for creating caused a customer’s computer to crash.

Earlier this year, a video entitled Microsoft designs the iPod package, commissioned by Microsoft’s own marketing team, showed how the company would have messed-up the music player’s alluring packaging by cluttering-up the box with dumbed-down jargon.

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