What's in name?

A week of IT

What's in name?

A Wellington who works in a very senior role for a large corporation — she runs one of the business units, in fact — received a surprising call from a headhunter recently. The recruitment firm had a great new job on their books she might be interested in, the recruiter enthused. The manager was quite interested to hear what was on offer, but was flabbergasted when she heard that the position reported to her!

It seems that, despite the exorbitant fees usually charged by such agencies, this particular agency had not updated its files for some time — at least 18 months or so. In the meantime, the "candidate" had divorced and reverted to her maiden name.


Heard muttered in the background after phoning a telecomms company and getting through to the receptionist: "How do you transfer calls?" The reply, also quite audible, "Don't do that. It cuts them off. Take a number and we'll get them to call him back."

If only it were so simple.

New way to gain resellers

There's a new twist on the "sue them for copyright infringement" game. HP and EMC have settled a dispute over storage patents that goes back several years by agreeing that HP will pay EMC $US325 million ($445 million). The twist comes in the way HP will compensate EMC — it will pay EMC $US65 million a year for five years, either in cash or by buying EMC hardware, software or services. HP is also free to resell the EMC gear if it doesn't need it in-house. Could this be the beginning of a trend? Maybe. But then again HP and EMC have been partners for a while and the dispute only arose in 2001 when HP bought StorageApps, a company which already had patent disputes with EMC.

Not so magical computers

Kids are experiencing what can only be described as mental bombardment in their indiscriminate use of computers, particularly the internet, according to a study cited by The Register.

Researchers at Germany's University of Munich surveyed 100,000 pupils in 31 countries and found too much computer use makes kids dumb, partly because they neglect their homework, but also because it means children don't get the hands-on experiences of yesteryear — the joy of taking things apart and putting them back together again. Without this, it seems technology becomes a mystery and leads to "magic consciousness" — a perversion of the magical enchantment of the child's world, as the US Alliance for Childhood terms it.

The solution? As above. It's called re-engineering when adults do it. Kids just call it, well, taking things apart and re-building 'em. Could we bear to allow this to be done with the family computer? Dunno. E-tales has fond memories to taking apart, for example, mum's sewing machine. It only took three attempts to reinstall it with all the bits.

Perhaps that's what we should do with those old computers we turf out on council clean-up days — give 'em to the kids to play with.

Spammers indulge

Those with an interest in the history of the Catholic Church may be amused to hear about the blizzard of spam that has followed the recent papal succession.

It seems spammers have taken note of the upsurge in interest in all things Catholic and have been blitzing the web with religious junk mail. Dubious offerings include everything from, allegedly, free biographies and audio books of the late Pope John Paul II to emails soliciting donations to build a cathedral in his honour.

Quite a neat turn of fate for the most ancient of the Christian Churches. The Catholic Church was once rather well known as a scam artist itself, its most well-honed scam being the selling of papal indulgences. These involved variations on, for example: "Say three 'Hail Marys', one 'Our Father', and leave six gold coins with the priest on the way out and a seat in heaven is yours" sort of thing. The sort of thing, in fact, that Martin Luther objected to and which led to the formation of the Protestant Church.

A case of the biter bit, really. Albeit several centuries late.

Get yer finger out!

E-tales has learnt of a neat little bit of technical wizardry that will warm the cockles of women's hearts. The Spanish have invented a washing machine that uses fingerprint recognition technology to subvert the humble laundry device and get the chaps to help out with the sheets and undies.

Spanish designer Pep Torres has programmed a washing machine to prevent the same person using it twice in a row. The aim is to get the Man of the House does his fair share of the smellies, reports the Guardian.

Spanish men — long known as the most macho in Europe — are changing, and Torres plans to help the domesticating process along with his housework-sharing washing machine. In fact, Spanish men are being chivvied along the domestic path by other means, too. Spain has recently introduced a law obliging its men to be more domestic; failure to share the burden of family work can now be taken into account in divorce proceedings.

The "Your Turn" washing machine is a little less drastic. It works by requiring both partners to register their fingerprint on a scanner while it is linked up to a home computer. Torres also suggests a small forfeit — such as finger — for recalcitrant laundrymen.

Originally a tongue-in-cheek idea suggested by Torres when asked by a white goods maker to design a Father's Day present, the "Your Turn" washing machine sounds more like a Mother's Day pressie to us.

Now, there's just the pink wash problem to solve.

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

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