Swedish snakes out to conquer the world

The website for reptile fans is the biggest in Europe, and growing

Network firm sees college tender winly

If a campus has a network incorporating wireless technology, it is permissible in the ever-expanding English language to say it has been networked “wirelessly”. The word has been used at least 59 times in NZ Computerworld, so it must be right.

But if the network also relies partly on wires and fibres, is the computer population linked “wirelessly and wiredly”? It seems logical, but it’s asking for one of those spellchecker corrections that would have students communicating “weirdly” or “tiredly” (either is quite credible, but not the intended meaning).

Microsoft’s spellchecker also suggests “wieldy” (not a real word in our humble opinion, but presumably meaning “easy to manipulate”) and “winly”. We don’t know what that last one means and it’s not in any of our paper dictionaries. Dictionary.com also draws a blank, suggesting we may mean “wanly” (those tired students again) or, ingeniously, “vinyl”.

Cyber-space is ageless

Peter, 79-year-old retiree from Britain, is the latest star of interactive video website YouTube. His videos are in the Top Favourites category on the website.

Peter, aka “geriatric1927”, put his first video up in the beginning of August, and since then he has rocketed to stardom. He talks about his life, both the way it is now and how it used to be. He also talks about news items, motorcycling and lost Trilby hats, all in a way that is almost transfixing.

Up in the blue

Washington-based company LiftPort has been using helium-filled balloons as a method for raising fabric ribbons into the sky for the last year. Why? To send little robotic climbers up the ribbons. The company hopes to develop a tether-and-climber system — a space elevator concept — that could one day carry loads and people thousands of miles into orbit.

In the mean time, LiftPort has found a client in the wireless internet space. Lightspeed Broadband hopes to use balloon-lofted signal relays to provide wireless internet and voice-over-internet services to remote areas.

If the technology actually works and the FAA gives its assent for continuing operations, Lightspeed could offer broadband for US$20 a month to customers who currently can only get dialup service at a higher cost.

Here at E-tales we fondly remember the days when former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig told the world his company, Sky Station, would be using high-altitude blimps to offer wireless broadband services. Haig’s plan didn’t get off the ground — much like his other plan, to fight a limited nuclear war with the Soviet Union using Western Europe as his battlefield. Nice.

Toad, anyone?

A Swedish community website for reptile fans is growing fast. Repti.net is now the biggest reptile community site in Europe, with over 22,000 members and 8,000 unique visitors every day, and more than ten members joining every day. The site, which is available in the Nordic languages, English and German, contains reptile care instructions and tips, heaps of photos and a trading section that has about 100 new ads daily. The community aims to reach the 500,000 membership mark and become the biggest reptile fan website in the world.

Term of the day

Perfect storm: noun, a pointless addition to the lexicon of business-speak as popularised by headline writers and journalists for whom “tipping point” has become old hat. See also, The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post, The Independent Financial Review and oh, just about every other publication put out this month.

Tech-free taxis

“Satnav sucks” seems to be the motto of London cabbies, who are largely avoiding the high-tech navigational aid in favour of good old-fashioned memorised street knowledge. According to The Register, only 4–5% of the city’s taxi drivers have taken up satellite navigation since it became available to them earlier this year, though the figure is slightly higher on airport runs and trips to London’s outer suburbs.

Most prefer to rely on “The Knowledge”, the exacting process of learning off by heart some 320 routes and shortcuts (plus the location of many buildings) that cabbies have to pass before they get a licence. London Taxi Drivers’ Association secretary Bob Oddy told Reuters “regardless of the salesmen’s hype about these machines, they cannot match the knowledge and experience of a good cabbie”.

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