Hardwire or headache

A week of IT

Hardwire or headache

Memo to Vodafone: Sometimes hard-wiring is a good idea.

A story currently doing the rounds at Telecom concerns a recent conference held by the telco in Auckland.

It just so happens, the story goes, that Vodafone had set up a temporary cell site at the venue. It wasn’t hard-wired and gossips claim the attendees took great delight in disconnecting the power as they walked past. No one is owning up, of course. Could this be related to Vodafone's recently 24-hour glitch in Auckland’s CBD?

Not so clear vision

Now we know some companies have a long-range vision, but in TelstraClear's case this seems to have got out of hand.

A reader tells us a rather curious tale involving her efforts to change her internet usage plan.

“I used TelstraClear's ‘Manage Account’ section online to change my internet usage plan from Home 150 (a flat-rate plan) to a usage one,” she says. “I then got an email from them to say I'd switched to another, more expensive, flat rate plan, so I checked my details again online and discovered the following ...”

Current Plan: Home 150

Pending change to: Usage based plan on 31/12/3999

Now that's forward planning.

Who's a hottie then?

National — the elect us and we will deliver you lots of your own money party — delivers rather less than it inadvertently promises on its election website. The party hacks in Brash-land have apparently never heard of Marshall McLuhan's "the medium is the message" or they would not have done the following:

Go to www.national.org.nz and, instead of the usual party political spam, you get a page inviting you to work out what you’ll save with National’s tax plan. “Go to www.taxcuts.co.nz,” comments the big pop-up assaulting your vision.

The trouble is such invitations are usually hot invites — either that or invites from dubious Nigerian scamsters who are hot for another reason.

Is there a subliminal message in here — is our Don more of a hot item than we all thought? Either that or the National party hacks who developed the website are too net-unsavvy — or perhaps savvy, having imbibed McLuhan in their PR infancy.

Real life catches up with online mugger

He foresaw it all and called it cyberspace. Now it's increasingly happening here and now — the real and cyber worlds are converging and, as so often happens, the crims have got in there quick smart.

It was the corporate shysters in William Gibson's seminal novel, Neuromancer.Now the virtual robbers have arrived here. The latest tale of online thievery concerns a Chinese exchange student arrested in Japan recently, after going on a virtual mugging spree using software “bots” to beat up and rob characters in the online computer game, Lineage II.

New Scientistreports that the thief then exchanged the stolen virtual possessions for real cash, after fencing them through a Japanese auction website.

Bots are used to perform tasks within a game very quickly, making them unbeatable against human players.

Security sage Bruce Schneier remarks that every form of real world theft is eventually duplicated in cyberspace.

Chat beats smoko

Not every parent is a fan of the teen addiction to mobile phones — all that irritating texting at the dinner table, for example, calls for an extension of the mobile manners protocol rules. However, there is some good news on the mobile front: paying for their mobile addiction is costing Japanese teenagers so much it's cutting into their smoking budget.

Japanese health officials made the connection while puzzling over the recent unprecedented drop in teen smoking. Around 80% of Japanese teens own a mobile phone but the country is also big on smoking.

We're not sure whether the same is happening here in NZ where there are fewer teen smokers and free weekend texting means at least some of the youth dollar isn't going straight to the phone companies.

Russians no donkeys

Why is that the best ideas have an elegant simplicity about them? As soon as you hear about 'em, the immediate response is: of course!

This is certainly the case with a new Russian invention E-tales has just learnt about — and we all thought Russian science died out with the rise of Mafia capitalism. Well, the Russian boffins have devised a cute keyboard where every key features its own tiny video screen. They're really just programmable shortcut keys, but they are also more than that. They remind us of the 1980s Apple graphics revolution which saw icons replace obscure glowing green written commands on black screens. Computers were never quite the same after that.

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

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