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A week of IT

Conscientious objectors

A lot of nasty things have been said about object-oriented programmers and their love affair with complexity. Some people even say they were partly to blame for the collapse of the infamous Incis police project with their fussy-fussy approach.

Mobile expert Kai Rannenberg clearly has similar reservations about the OO fraternity. Speaking in Wellington last week, he described a certain security scheme for mobile phones written by the OO guys. “And you know what that’s like,” he said. “If we had let object-oriented programmers design the washing machine, it would have been a human-shaped robot scrubbing clothes on a washboard.”

Circuit bored

We reckon we’ve discovered the most boring new product of the year. Sure, it’s innovative — it won the Australian Telecommunications Users Group’s Innovation Award. But a cable product? And we thought storage servers were yawn-inducing. The product? The ADC Krone Leadframe jack whose unusual feature is that it uses stamped metal wires rather than the traditional printed circuit board. This allows for more network bandwidth.

Perhaps it just needs a sexier name? We can think of a few. Unfortunately, they’re not printable.

What’s in a name?

The rivalry between SAP and Oracle has taken an amusing twist, with SAP buying a company whose name is almost identical to that of a company Oracle recently bought. Earlier this month, SAP bought Callixa, a developer of EII (enterprise information integration) software. It wasn’t so long ago that Oracle bought Collaxa, which makes software relating to BPM (business process management) and BPEL (business process execution language).

Callixa, Collaxa — only two letters separate the companies, but with one owned by SAP and the other by Oracle, there’s a great gulf between them.

The alien point of view

Having chosen the “Alien Life Form” television character ALF as the mascot for its Application Lifecycle Framework, Serena Software asked its “ALF evangelist”, Kevin Parker, to get better acquainted with the character.

Accordingly, Parker immersed himself in the ALF shows, trying to find at least one remark appropriate to either IT development, integration or interoperability.

There must be some law that says that if one exposes oneself to enough random chatter at least one line that is germane to the topic at hand will emerge.

Parker says he found just one. ALF contemplates a jigsaw puzzle as his human companion explains: “You’re supposed to put the pieces together”. “Why?” ALF retorts. “I didn’t break it.”

Ug gets a family

This has got to be the geek toy of Christmas 2005, although actually it’s a sort of family — of robots. They even interact.

First there was Robosapien, the 2004 robot with attitude. He danced and talked “teenager”, you know, “grunt, urrgh, grunt”. Get out a DVD of Napoleon Dynamite and you’ll get the idea. One E-taler even christened his robosapien Ug.

Now, for 2005, there’s Robosapien V2 and Roboraptor and Robopet, too. Pet is … well, it’s not absolutely clear what he is, but he’s cute.

The real question is: what do they all do? Well, Roboraptor nuzzles your hand when in playful mode, but will snap when in hunting mode. Robosapien V2 also has sensory features. These allow him to recognise objects and interact with his surroundings — and even to control Robopet and Roboraptor.

All the guys need now is a little house, and maybe a Barbie sports car.

No sex please, we’re British

It smacks of the American Wild West, but the recently launched British Crimestoppers “Most Wanted” site is clearly a hit.

So much so that it crashed within hours as hundreds of thousands of web surfers attempted to access it. However, there was one small problem. One of the “wanted” web posters is for a flasher (Were you looking for flashers in particular? — Ed). Under “suspect description”, the alleged offender — who was caught on camera but is, mercifully, pictured from the waist up only — had his sex listed as “unknown”. We couldn’t possibly comment.

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