Not so hot line

A week of IT

Not so hot line

Everyone in New Zealand has a David Lange story, it would seem, and here at E-tales we're no exception.

Lange was keynote speaker at one of the early Computerworld Excellence Awards and he told the only techie story he knew, or so he said.

When the French Secret Service bombed the Rainbow Warrior, the PM's office realised it didn't have any way of quickly getting in touch with embassies around the world, so it ordered the Post Office to install a red phone on the PM's desk. The phone was installed but wouldn't work, despite various technicians being sent to diagnose the problem.

Many weeks later, a seasoned techie called in at the Prime Minister's office.

— The phone is working now, Mr Lange, he told a pleased premier.

— Excellent. What was the problem? boomed Lange, expecting a technical answer.

— That line had a toll bar on it."

An Apple a day ...

Ah, the youth of today and their technology. Here at E-tales we've discovered it's all about the branding. One younger team member (okay, a three-year-old daughter) was delighted when Dad brought home a new laptop to play with. She clearly identified it early on as "The Apple" and now won't go near the old Acer, even though it has Reader Rabbit pre-loaded. The PowerBook is silvery, glows in the dark and has a much funkier slide-show of photos of said three-year-old who is also, apparently, it's keeper.

More disconcertingly, when a new mouse arrived it was immediately recognised as an Apple mouse and carted off to be paired with the PowerBook. How do they know?

New twist on ankle-biters

Borland chief process officer Bill Curtis turned up in Wellington last week sporting an ankle injury that had necessitated a wheelchair when he got off the plane. He was apparently less than impressed when a fire drill was called at the Majestic Centre during a presentation there. The injured ankle got a good workout as Curtis traipsed down 28 flights of stairs.

In a further twist, it now turns out that the poor chap had not twisted his ankle, as he thought — unbeknownst to him, he had been bitten by a poisonous spider while sojourning in the US.

Don't shoot the (speed) camera

What should one do when approaching a speed camera — fast? The traditional Kiwi approach has been to shoot it down. Effective, but a bit drastic we feel. Given this, E-tales was amused to read about a new development across the ditch in New South Wales. It seems an Aussie speed merchant managed to get the case against him dismissed by arguing that the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) could not prove its vital photographic evidence was "secure".

He argued that the MD5 algorithm used to store such evidence can be tampered with — which is just what a group of Chinese boffins have done. The speed merchant won his case.

Lost boys

Lost: He's got a sweet grin and a nice glossy coat. Loves people so is inclined to wander. Last seen at the pub down the road.

A new website,, aimed at reducing the market for stolen goods in New Zealand, features a very comprehensive list of categories. Along with machinery, mobiles and pets, is the "people" category. E-tales wonders if home-challenged boyfriends count?

Please hold

We enjoyed this story from a journalists' mailing list, posted by a journo who accidentally hung up on a PR rep who was in the middle of a passionate rave about the superior qualities of a customer's product.

"I sat there feeling sheepish for a few moments and thought they'd call again," our correspondent reports. "After waiting perhaps 20 seconds I thought I should call them back. I pulled up the number from my address book and hit the button

to dial them.

"I hadn't lost them at all. In fact, they were still in the midst of their spiel on the other end of the phone — oblivious to my absence!"

The journo estimates the PR patter carried on for at least 45 seconds without even noticing no-one was on the line to listen.

E-tales is edited by Jo Bennett. Email your tales of wit and woe to

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