Aussies kick-off, but Kiwis score

Australians decide to kick-off on Waitangi Day

Aussies kick-off, but Kiwis score

IBM will hold its Australasian kick-off for 2007 in Melbourne in the first week in February, a date selected by the Australians. As one New Zealand employee remarked: “They just go ahead over there and do what suits them. No one thought to check whether New Zealand had any statutory holidays.”

Of course, Waitangi Day falls on February 6, which means payment at time-and-a-half, plus a day off in-lieu. The locals are laughing. But who pays?

Taking responsibility seriously

Computerworld was intrigued to see Vodafone’s “corporate responsibility manager”, Raphael Hilbron, being quoted recently on the subject of whether cellphone use in cars should be banned. Mr Hilbron’s job title raises a few questions — such as: “Is there such a high level of corporate irresponsbility at Vodafone that the company has to employ someone to tackle the problem?”.

Another question that arises from Hilbron’s employment is: “Does Vodafone also employ someone to make up bizarre job titles for employees?”

Brilliant myopia

The trouble with scientists is they often have a rather intense, narrow focus, which kind of explains a strange recent tech success story.

Canterbury University researchers are set to improve on the now 100-year-old, hard-to-read black, white and blurry x-ray machine, by using high-precision colour imaging instead. But the new technology is actually ten years old. It was developed by the rocket scientists at Cern — the European physics lab which also developed the World Wide Web — as an aid to its astronomy and physics work. But it never occurred to the boffins that their sophisticated x-ray detector might also be good for detecting cancers — especially breast cancers. But now, belatedly, Canterbury University is developing a better x-ray machine using the technology. Better late than never, we guess.

Bloggers’ poisoned gift

Ah, the brave new world of blogging. It seems bloggers have finally arrived, and the Redmond boys and girls — as well as those at Acer and AMD — are starting to shower them with freebies. In this case, a sleek black and red-trimmed Ferrari laptop, equipped with yet-to-be-released Vista software. Ah, the exquisite joy of it.

But, of course, that’s the point of freebies. Now, here at E-tales we feel we should to be up-front and say that we have long been subject to such blandishments. Dealing with such errr… bribes is an art in itself, so we applaud the robust discussion that has been raging across the blogosphere about the ethics of the lucky recipients keeping their sleek lappies — which arrived just before Christmas and the imminent consumer release of Vista. Hmmmm.

Kiwi bloggers Craig Pringle and Mauricio Frietas were both recipients of Microsoft’s dodgy generosity and ever since their blogs have been running hot about the ethics of accepting such gifts. Welcome to the big, wide world of tech publishing, boys.

Hamleys: toys at a price

It maybe late January, but this is the first post-Christmas E-tales, so we were interested to hear that not everyone had a good Christmas 2006. Prestigious London toy store Hamleys, for instance, got caught out when users of the HotUKDeals website got the idea that the shop was offering a cumulative 60% discount on toys bought online, reported the Guardian newspaper.

At first the store complied, but the shelves being swept bare before Christmas and the company, making no money on it, called a halt, saying the deal breached Hamley’s code of conduct. Instead, customers were offered a 25% discount as a goodwill gesture.

Red tape, black tape

In Britain, a seven million pound ($19 million) project is underway to place black tape on civil servants’ desks – to show them where their computer keyboard and pens should reside. Consulting firm Unipart is carrying out the project, which is part of “Lean”, a wider Civil Service efficiency initiative. Lean has also involved personal items being banned from government workers’ desks. The British Public and Commercial Services Union has come out against the black tape move. Union spokesman Kevin McHugh, who works at the National Insurance Office in Newcastle, commented, saying, “This office has been open for 60 years and people have managed to find their pens and staplers without consultants helping them in all that time.”

Amazon wears Prada

On a lighter note, the UK online news site The Registerreports that Amazon has branched out — into shoes and handbags. Just the thing for the girl in your life, or you too, if you find yourself coming over all girly. There are some boy shoes, too, although not the 250 brands available to girls. No Manolo Blahniks, mercifully — for those of you who have living under a rock (fashion-wise) for the past decade, Manolos go with the Prada frocks beloved of fashionista editor Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Pradafame.

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