Tchotchke mouse

A week of IT

A graphic Mr Tumnus

We couldn’t resist slipping in a picture from the forthcoming Narnia film, due for release on December 9. What is it about British fantasy writers that the settings for their books lend themselves so well to New Zealand? First, we had Lord of the Rings, now we have Narnia. Anyway, both films are also a tribute to Kiwi skills, as well as to our country’s natural beauty. With Narnia, Wellington’s Weta Workshops is believed to have surpassed its earlier work (remember the achievement that was Gollum?)

Obviously, we have yet to see him on-screen, but Mr Tumnus sounds like a particularly fine achievement, being half human and half computer generated — the bottom half.

Colour me word blind

Not quite sure about this one. We got a press release about three ex-IT types who, having get tired of the computer business, have moved into the restaurant business instead. The trouble is the press release detailing the career move, by Pete and Cherry Vanderbeke and Greg Sitters, describes them as “identities”.

Now, across the Great Big Ditch “identity” or “colourful character” is non-defamatory code for “villain”. This obviously isn’t the case with our Auckland foodie trio, who have recently taken over the Veranda Bar and Grill. But many Aucklanders have sojourned in sunny Sydney, home to a number of such identities, and have no doubt become acquainted with this special use of the word.

PR company Wordsense is going to have get up with the play if its press releases are to make real sense.

When the moon is in...

It can’t have escaped readers’ notice (well, some anyway; a few, surely) that Computerworld is nearing its 20th anniversary. It was launched in November 1986.

We wouldn’t have thought of it yet either except a guest at IBM’s recent 50th anniversary celebration last week asked one of our staffers if we’d missed our anniversary. He had the month right, but not the year.

Why should we limit celebrations to the decimal, our staffer mused next day? The November just passed marks, astronomically speaking (or is it astrologically?) the completion of our first Metonic cycle. This year as the sun rose on the anniversary of our founding the moon was in the same phase as it was on that day in 1986.

Just thought you’d like to know that.

Slow down, you’re moving too fast

It seems Navman’s model has learned her lesson and is no longer speeding along Queen Street at 100 km/h (see last week’s E-tales). Instead, she’s taking a sedate meander down Tooley Street, at a less thrilling 2 km/h. No way the police will be able to say speed was a factor in any accident she has. Except of course it will be.

But where is Tooley Street, and how do you get there from Queen Street?

Quote of the week

Here at E-tales, we do like to learn new things. The language of marketing, for instance, is a constant mystery to us, although we delight in learning about key performance indicators that substantiate the proposition going forward.

But this week marketing-speak took second place to our very own tech sector. Quote of the week must surely go to storage vendor Yotta Yotta’s CTO, Wayne Karpoff, who said:

“We are to WANFS what a SAN is to a NAS.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Tchotchke mouse

Call them what you will — knick-knacks, promotional souvenirs, marketing collateral etcetera. However, the most expressive term has got to be the Yiddish “tchotchkes”.

“All the spam and tchotchkes [the company] sends me,” a correspondent exclaimed in an email earlier this year.

You know, the sort of thing found at the bottom of the conference satchel or adorning exhibition stands. They include key rings, tension-releasing hand-squeegees and, occasionally, something relevant to the computer business. The latest of these is Hewlett-Packard’s mini-mouse.

A fully functional USB optical mouse, it’s about as long as a normal mouse is wide. Trouble is there’s a reason for making mice the size they are: they fit neatly under the palm. Working with it gave our staffer hand-cramp inside 15 minutes.

The CAT is back

Speaking of pointing devices, there must be some readers out there who can recall the first incarnation of the “pad”. You stroked with a finger so as to move the cursor around the screen. It was circular and sat at one end of the keyboard on the Xerox Alto series of desktops launched in 1980.

Since you stroked it and it was an alternative to the mouse, what else could it be called but CAT? This allegedly stood for Capacitance Activated Template.

The mouse won the battle and the CAT slunk away for 15 years but, when laptops needed an integral pointing device, it quietly snuck back — as cats do.

E-tales is edited by Jo Bennett. Send your tales of wit and woe to etales@computerworld.co.nz

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