Caring too much

Communications and IT minister Paul Swain met leaders of the Call for Change movement last week, but wouldn't say what his response would be to the Commerce Commission deciding not to unbundle the local phone loop.

Communications and IT minister Paul Swain met leaders of the Call for Change movement last week, but wouldn’t say what his response would be to the Commerce Commission deciding not to unbundle the local phone loop.

When Computerworld asked whether the Call for Change movement — which favours unbundling — was satisfied with a mere 60,000 petition responses out of millions of telecomms users, CallPlus’s Malcolm Dick responded that it was a respectable total for a petition. “After all, it’s something a lot of people don’t care about that much.” The question “Isn’t that rather the point?” went unanswered.

In a remark which some might see as double-edged, Swain reminded the protesters how lucky they were to be living in a democratic country where their argument would at least be heard peaceably. The implication might be, you’ve got democracy; you want competition too?

Still, Swain accepted a T-shirt with the Call for Change logo, a figure $84 crossed out — what the group says consumers are paying extra as a result of no unbundling.

Backup strategy

Another reason for open sourcers to hate Microsoft: Business Week says it has confirmed that Microsoft played matchmaker for hedge fund BayStar’s investment of $US50 million in SCO, though the software giant denies any “direct or indirect” financial relations. It was one of the first companies to buy into SCO’s licensing programme, taking two licences from SCO worth more than $US12 million, according to sources.

When coffee is not enough

It’s a given that the IT industry is a hotbed of caffeine consumption, but we wonder about the the lengths coders will go to. According to Network World, Canadian business and technology student Ben Robinson sometimes finds coffee, soda and ginseng unable to satisfy his caffeine cravings. What does he use instead? Caffeinated soap. Don’t worry, he doesn’t risk his life (or tastebuds) eating the stuff; he showers with it, on the basis that the caffeine will be absorbed through his skin, giving him a rush pep drinks can’t.

Booby trap

One for the ingenious (or groanworthy) newsletter title collection. Law firm Chapman Tripp’s periodic digest of news in employment law is called the Employment TrippWire.

We could see no similar titles dealing with other parts of the law on the firm’s website. Employment is perhaps considered a particularly tricky area.

IT relevance? Well, it does have an article discussing employer obligations to screen offensive incoming spam with a helpful pointer to Computerworld’s February 11 story).

He said, he said

Another indication of the influence the internet is having on US politics this year: a clever weblogger has set up a web page that lists news from the official weblogs of George W Bush and John Kerry, the Republican and Democratic candidates for the upcoming US presidential election, side by side on a single page.

Somehow after reading more than a couple of entries the identities of the respective candidates seem to blur; you could easily swap the names over and few would probably tell the difference (citizens of other countries might have great difficulty at the best of times).

The weblogger, Vivek, says he put the page together for “us middle-of-the-roaders” who wouldn’t normally read either candidate’s site. “They seem to really turn up the hate when addressing their core constituents — the kind of people that would read a Bush or Kerry blog,” he says. “I think it’s important that all of the non-core constituents be exposed to the activites of both parties.”

Immobile iPod

Apple’s new iPod mini is creating a lot of interest throughout New Zealand, say its local marketers, “and while we are not expecting initial shipments of this product until sometime in April, we have managed to get hold of an iPod mini for those media representative’s [sic] in Auckland who are interested in reviewing this”.

Great, music fiends and Apple geeks might think. But which lucky publication gets it?

Well ... all of them. Trouble is, the iPod mini is a pre-released product and so apparently can’t leave the distributor’s premises. Ah, but happily it set up one-hour periods for hands-on review, should you wish to make your way to Onehunga in Auckland. Even better, it set the times for two days last week — 9am-5pm but not at lunchtime.

Asked one wag around the Computerworld office: Why didn’t they just put GPS in it?

Drive to work

Word has it that a Mercedes-owning Telecom executive asked for a new carpark under Telecom’s Hopetoun St, Auckland office, because s/he feared the Merc would be dented by passing vehicles in the exposed, end-of-row space it had been allocated.

Telecom Advanced Solutions head Chris Quin doesn’t need to worry about such matters, however. He told the New Zealand Herald’s Canvas weekend magazine last year that he uses an aged, low-slung vehicle for commuting and everyday driving around Auckland and so isn’t too worried about the prospect of a dent or two. Quin saves his real cars, which include a 4WD, for weekend activities.

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