Publisher demonstrates spin-doctor skills

A week of IT

Dark side discovery

E-tales recently reported on the discovery of governmentium. The heaviest element known to science, it features one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons and 111 assistant deputy neutrons. Further research has now revealed that, in addition, there is also a substantial amount of dark matter in governmentium. However, this does nothing but play with paste and scissors and break calculators. This dark matter has been tentatively estimated as having a mass equivalent to 113 neutrons, but calculation is difficult as interactions with the moron cloud make it seem heavier than it really is.

Bathroom tune-up

We’re heard of the Singing Nun, the Singing Detective and even Singing in the Rain (Google has the Singing Naked Boys, but we won’t go there). Anyway, what’s got E-tales into singing mode is a new Japanese gadget: the singing toilet, as reported by online news site The Register.

We’re big fans of the Japanese bathroom here: the mirrors with demisted ovals which make shaving or putting on make-up on, or both, after the shower easy; the warm toilet seats; the integral bidet … but we digress. The Japanese have surpassed themselves on the weird gadget front yet again with their newest device: the MP3 lav. The modified toilet features a little SD slot which allows the bathroom user to play, well, whatever he or she desires — a little rock, a little Brahms or maybe some Julie Andrews.

Gives ‘over-clocking’ a whole new spin

Road safety advertising campaigns would have us believe speed always kills. But, in the case of Computerworld publisher Doug Casement, it’s more a case of speed embarrasses.

It seems that during round three of the recent Ricoh Formula IT Challenge, held in Taupo, Casement managed to miss the entrance to the pit lane at the end of the first session. His excuse: “I didn’t see it — I was too busy trying to get through the hairpin!” But other competitors, posing as reliable sources, claim this was just a cheap trick to get in an extra practice lap. Casement’s performance didn’t improve as the day went on. During the warm-down lap of the final session he was yellow-flagged after he spun out with such violence that his car’s starter motor was KO’d and he had to be bump-started by the rescue crew. But the good news was he didn’t miss the entrance to the pit lane this time — he had to crawl back rather slowly instead because he was stuck in second gear. It seems his spin-handling technique was so refined that the steering wheel and gear-change control data cable were wrenched clean out of their socket.

The Computerworld editorial team suggests maybe Casement’s better off dealing with CPU speeds and PR spin-doctors than planning a new career in motor racing.

(No, you can’t claim a new starter motor on expenses — Ed)

Txting good 4 U

We’re not sure this is quite what we wanted to hear but, apparently, texting is good for teenagers, or so says a report in the UK’s Times newspaper.

According to a Cambridge University survey, those afflicted with the twitching thumbs have a bigger-than-ever vocabulary (doesn’t say if it’s louder, however) and can punctuate and spell better than last-century teens — despite the odd m8 for ‘mate’ and u for ‘you’ sneaking into exam essays.

Maybe it’s because texting means teens are actually writing more than they used to. After all, with free weekend texting in New Zealand, they’re doing it in the car, at the dinner table, while conversing (vaguely) with parents and even in bed. Telecom’s upper limit of 500 free texts over one weekend was easily reached by one teen we know. A similar state of affairs seems to prevail on that other misty island.

The things we do for money

It’s tough being a freelance journalist in New Zealand (or so we’re told). Not only do you have to put up with a low payment per word rate, rejections and sub-editors who don’t love your work, but when someone calls and asks you to write a book, you can’t say no.

Technical writer, sometime PC World and Computerworld contributor and consultant Juha Saarinen recently found himself in just such a situation.

We at E-tales imagine the conversation went something like this:

Them: You’re technical, right?

Him: Well, yes. Yes, I am.

Them: We need a technical writer. Are you available?

Him: Yes. Yes, I am.

Them: Great. We need you to write a book for us.

Him: Woohoo!

Them: It’s about how to use Trade Me.

Him: ...

And so E-tales is proud to present: Your ultimate guide to New Zealand’s biggest online auction site, by our very own Juha Saarinen, as authorised by Trade Me itself, with a foreword by founder Sam Morgan.

Handy tips include: “Start up your favourite web browser and type in: www.trademe.co.nz. This is the address where Trade Me lives.”

So, if you know anyone who needs their stockings stuffed for Christmas, do consider Juha’s book. We gather it’s the ultimate.

Speaking of Christmas …

Here at E-tales, we live in fear of the coming festive season. It’s not so much the thought of mall shopping that scares us, or the foreknowledge of the budgetary blow-out that inevitably follows. It’s not even the thought of the sinister winking Santa that adorns Whitcoulls’ downtown Auckland outlet every year; it’s the gluttony, debauchery and general bacchanalia that will attend the forthcoming Xmas PR lunch round.

Actually, it’s begun already. Christmas seems to come earlier each year — the Xmas invites certainly do. First off the blocks this year, received on October 31, was an invite to Network PR’s “exclusive and much vaunted annual media event”.

E-tales will keep you posted on how your hard-earned marketing dollar is being spent.

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

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