Without wires

Wireless internet has been called many things -- insecure, intermittent -- but TelstraClear chief executive Rosemary Howard came up with an interesting description for the perceived shortcomings of wireless offerings such as Woosh and BCL's.

Wireless internet has been called many things -- insecure, intermittent -- but TelstraClear chief executive Rosemary Howard came up with an interesting description for the perceived shortcomings of wireless offerings such as Woosh and BCL's.

Speaking at a New Zealand Computer Society breakfast in Auckland last week, she described wireless as "emotionally unstable". That wasn't to deny its value as a niche service, but as a viable alternative to being able to rent space on Telecom's copper local loop it's got a few years to go yet, she told the audience. Howard was rewarded for her pro-unbundling talk with an NZCS T-shirt, presented on the basis that she and her husband had recently bought a yacht and she may need it for cruising Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. Howard was forthcoming on why she thinks the government should ask the Commerce Commission to revisit Telecoms Commissioner Douglas Webb's anti-LLU recommendation, but was less candid about rumours that TelstraClear, along with Telecom and HP, may be in the running to buy Gen-i. "No comment," was her response when a Computerworld reporter inquired as to the veracity of the rumours. Just like they tell you to do when you can't deny it.

Drop in the bucket

Bill Gates is to pay a $US800,000 fine for violating stock buying procedures when his private investment company bought voting shares in a drug company. The fine was levied because the Gates vehicle failed to comply with US antitrust notification requirements.

The managers of the company said: "We missed a filing but voluntarily notified the Federal Trade Commission of our mistake upon our discovery of this," adding that "at no time was Mr Gates personally involved in these matters."

The Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, the piece of legislation under which the Gates investment company was fined, imposes a notification and waiting period on certain transactions over $US50 million. The penalty for not complying is $US11,000 a day. The FTC alleges the Gates company was in violation from May 9 to August 26, 2002, bringing the fine to $800,000. The figure was reached after a settlement between the FTC and the company. Of course, it isn't the first time a company in which Bill Gates has an ownership stake has been fined for breaching antitrust laws. But of course, as US mag Network World puts it, "the case is not related to Gates' position in Microsoft or the Justice Department's antitrust litigation with the company."

Boil while you dial up

Telecom has been running a nice series of advertisements for its JetStream ADSL service, featuring customer case studies. These always make for interesting reading and showcase how a product or service is being used by real people in the real world. However, we were a bit tickled by one ad in the series, featuring Hawke's Bay livestock breeders Rissington Breedline. Jeremy Absolom, managing director of the company, is quoted praising the superior speed and service of JetStream compared with dial-up. Under dial-up, electronic data from the company's 13 breeding partners around the country would arrive painfully slowly. To quote Absolom: "The volume of data meant it took three to four hours to do this and staff used to go away and boil the jug while they waited." All we can say is that either jugs take a hell of a long time to boil in Hawke's Bay, or the staff must have boiled the jug hundreds of times to fill in the waiting time. Such treatment can't have been good for the jug, or the company's power bill.

Ace high

So, people (eventually) came out of the woodwork or wiring or boardroom or wherever IT people come out from, to try to win the caption competition. Quite a few favoured playing card-related quips. After much debate amongst

Computerworld's judges, it proved a close call between three entries.

Third was:

IT equal opportunity: One woman does all the work -- and four men critique it ...

Second was:

"How many more times ... two pairs doesn't beat three of a kind!"

And first, by less than the last mile, and which also give us a clear message that there may be only one more story entwined in the local loop (yeah, right):

"So whoever gets the short straw gets interviewed for this week's article on unbundling ... "

Mike Morris at EDS gets the T-shirt.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Sometimes they do

An IT journos mailing list heard apostasy, or at least some terrible blasphemy, this week: one had been misleading readers for years about the meaning of what he thought was an acronym. TWAIN, he thought, stood for Technology Without An Interesting Name. TWAIN, for those who don't know, is an image capture API that lets scanners talk to cameras and the like. This IT journo had written the definition so many times that it had become the truth, to him and his readers. But according to the FAQ at

Twain.org and The Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing, it comes from Kipling's The Ballad of East and West - "... and never the twain shall meet ..."

The theory is that it was hard back in the early 1990s to hook up scanners and personal computers, and it was put into uppercase for some unknown marketing reason.

According to

Acronymfinder.com it might also stand for Toolkit Without An Important Name. Or maybe Trying Won't Always Improve Nomenclature. Don't think that one'll catch on.

Flagging enthusiasm

If you're one of those people who doesn't see why we should change our national flag, pay a visit to

www.nzflag.com. The cause is endorsed by Richard Taylor of Weta and 36 other well-knowns, but probably opposed by the RSA and owners of cars with Keep-It-As-It-Is bumper stickers.

The kids at Limehills School in Southland produced a cute one (pictured right).

If you want to learn how to choose and look after your flag, by the way, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has screeds of advice.

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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