Bull fight

Mention of Deloittes' Bullfighter in the Natural Resources management column this week encouraged us to check out the stories from the past three issues of Computerworld for waffle and jargon.

Mention of Deloittes' Bullfighter in the Natural Resources management column this week encouraged us to check out the stories from the past three issues of Computerworld for waffle and jargon. We're too embarrassed to tell you the specific results, as it appears we're getting more obscurist and full of bull by the week. The columns were a bit better, but we will try harder, we promise. What do you think? Let us know if we babble bull at the email address below.

Wit and wisdom

Dubious quote of the day on the local government info management (ALGIM) site last week: "A man is as young as the woman he feels." The fact of the day seemed more appropriate to IT managers, perhaps suggesting that you need to be a bit more bird-brained: "Owls have asymmetrical ears: one directed downward, the other upward."

No hols for CSC

The San Diego regional centre of consultant and outsourcer CSC has cancelled all employee holidays, pre-approved or not, between now and the end of the financial year, according to The Register. CSC's management has apparently taken that somewhat drastic step as the centre was looking increasingly unlikely to meet productivity forecasts. One CSC employee is alleged to have said "apparently, the San Diego centre have made a bad business forecast and we loyal worker bees are supposed to rescue them by foregoing vacation". CSC staff in Western Australia are more likely to get their holidays -- the services firm recently signed a $US50 million deal with the state's police force to manage its desktops, hardware, applications and network.

Comical coincidence

New Zealand has Linux provider Asterisk, while Sunnyvale in California has user identity software maker Oblix. Fans of the Asterix comics will no doubt be wondering if Oblix was to buy Asterisk -- or vice versa -- what the new entity would be called. Getafix? Vitalstatistix?


Or is that "Any business that uses Linux these days 'as ter risk a lawsuit"? Sorry about that.

Time sensitive

From an invitation received last week:

Management Breakfast: Date: 11 February, 2004, 07:30:00 - 09:00:00.

It would, of course, be inconsiderate to put a stopwatch on the organisers and claim a reduction in the price of admission if they didn't start and finish at precisely the moment indicated.

On the other hand, maybe it's a little worrying that we have people in the computer industry unfamiliar with the concept of a reasonable margin of error and an appropriate number of significant figures? Quick, find the person responsible and engage them on a development project.

Offensive material

Last month we pointed to a probable lag between the passing of amendments to the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, imposing increased penalties for trading illegal material such as child pornography, and the increase in sentences for serious sexual offences against children. This raised the possibility of the maximum sentence for the latter being three years' shorter than for the former, for at least a few weeks.

The order of the two bills, both in the name of Justice Minister Phil Goff, has changed, and the Crimes Act amendment has moved up to one place behind the image trading measure. If both are passed, however, it's still 10 years' maximum for either crime.

Pipe dreams

Oz journalists were last week complaining about being bombarded with an invite from Telstra to attend its results briefing this week. One longtime IT reporter, Angus Kidman (we can't remember if he is related to Nicole), joked that while he accepted Telstra makes money through bandwidth, the PR team didn't really need to send out an entire Word document twice -- to correct a single mistaken URL -- and to attach the corrected document twice, creating 776KB of largely pointless content.

Your name is Linux

Quite apart from the, er, boob at the NFL Superbowl, the game that only Americans understand has also been teaching its audiences about things IT. Network World in the US notes that those who watched the NFL playoffs may be familiar with Linux. IBM ads feature a towheaded child -- "think of a pre-adolescent Eminem, or an extra from Children of the Corn" -- who is meant to represent Linux. The boy, seen in a stark-white room, is confronted by a series of famous people -- like Muhammad Ali -- who impart their knowledge on him. "The boy Linux is meant to be impressionable, absorbing the knowledge of a world community (ie the open source community)." Those not in the know might think Linux is a new IBM product, but IBM is unapologetic about the ad's hip vagueness. "It takes a community to grow it, and that it's not a single company's product. We also want to show that IBM is associated with it."

Bad press

A survey on US consumers’ perceptions of RFID technology has shown that the majority of consumers are unaware of the technology and that the appeal of RFID lies not in changing their shopping experience but in recovery of stolen items, improving product safety and lowering the price of goods.

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and SmartRevenue polled 1000 US adults and found that just 23% of consumers had heard of RFID technology, and that among those who recognised the term, half didn’t know if it was good or bad or had no opinion about it, reports RFID Journal. They were often unaware of when they were using the technology.

The RFID-enabled benefits that consumers value are not necessarily the same ones determining RFID deployment by retailers and CPG manufacturers, such as combining individual consumer identification and purchasing history. Consumers want faster recovery of stolen items, savings stemming from reduced product costs, better security of prescription drugs and faster, more reliable product recalls. They least like the idea of RFIDs helping consumer data be used by a third party, more targeted direct marketing and tracking them via their product purchases.

Foxes and hens

As the next major ruling in Microsoft's antitrust case nears, a top lawyer from the company is set to head a legal committee that had significant influence in the level of oversight American courts have in antitrust settlements. Microsoft associate general counsel Richard Wallis takes over later this year as chairman of the American Bar Association's antitrust section. The panel has already begun organising opposition to a US congressional plan that would require more aggressive oversight by the courts of such antitrust settlements, says Canada.com, which notes that "Microsoft's effort in the legal community illustrates how the world's largest software company is moving to protect its interests in venues where it has found itself challenged. It also has increasingly participated in the political process in Washington and in technology standards organisations."

Real Martians

Trademark-infringing images of Marvin the Martian were secretly etched into the Mars rovers' image-sensor chips, says Boingboing.net. The duet of helmeted gladiators are on the surface of an image sensor used by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers sent to probe the red planet. The chip was loaned to BoingBoing by designer Mark Wadsworth who designed the image sensor for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory along with friendly rivalTom Elliot, who did the testing of the flight candidate imagers to select the 20 or so that actually made it on the two missions.

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