Blind date

A tender document circulated by a major SOE urges potential bidders to 'note that the start date of 15 March 2004 is not necessarily the start date'.

A tender document circulated by a major SOE urges potential bidders to "note that the start date of 15 March 2004 is not necessarily the start date". We all know things can change during the timeframe of a project, but we thought the SOE showed remarkable candour and flexibility.

Dream commute

Just the thing for those in a hurry in Auckland traffic: a Japanese company is selling this diesel-powered "rescue-mecha". Ditch that lightweight 4x4 and get yourself a real man's vehicle


In the right mould

TelstraClear sent out a promo gift last year along with its plans to launch a 3G network in New Zealand. It was a nice gift to receive, even if the connection between putty and 3G networks is a bit hard to make. A

Computerworld staffer duly placed it on his desk and forgot about it for several months. By that time, the putty had grown a nice coating of mould. But there's no analogy to make, despite what Vodafone and Paul Budde might say.

Air guitar

CES 2004, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is the gadget industry's favourite show. Among the stars this year were the

Soniqcast Aireo, an MP3 player with built-in 802.11b wireless and an FM transmitter. Apple has reputedly had a wireless iPod for some time, but has kept it under wraps in order not to annoy its friends in the music industry, who might be concerned at the possibility of wholesale copying with wireless players. Soniqcast presumably doesn't feel so constrained. The built-in FM transmitter is just the thing for playing through a car radio without connecting any cables.

Alpine, the car audio manufacturer, has taken a different approach. It's introduced an interface box that allows iPod owners to connect their MP3 player to their car stereo, and even control the iPod from the Alpine head unit. While the stereo displays music playlists and song information, the Alpine interface will also recharge the iPod on the road. This could be a much better solution that the emerging trend of car stereos with built-in hard drives.

Clip around the ear

The BBC has started posting clips of its comedy series on its

website. Among the oldies-but-goodies are selections from The Young Ones, Absolutely Fabulous, various Blackadders, Fawlty Towers, The Fall And Rise of Reginald Perrin and -- praise be! -- I'm Alan Partridge. Last year the Beeb announced it would be making its back catalogue available for free on the net, so hopefully there's more where this came from.

Naming Novell-ty

ACC plans to migrate from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange and replace Novell NetWare with Microsoft Windows Server 2003. Big deal, it's a move made by a number of organisations recently, you might say. True, but the irony is that ACC's corporate office is on level 7, Novell House, Wellington. Does ACC plan to move to Microsoft house once the software migration is complete?

This cat is out of the bag

When Apple Computer decided to remove a feature of iTunes 4.0 that allowed sharing across the internet, a bunch of hacks, workarounds and replacements quickly hit the net. The latest alternative,

TunesAtWork, was released last week. TunesAtWork is an effort to provide a free, web-based, iTunes-style interface to play songs from a home computer on a remote system. The developers say the program will allow people to listen to their music collections at work -- they've even limited the number of computers that can receive streams to four, in an effort to discourage people from sharing music illegally. A Mac version is available now and a Windows version is being developed.

New Zealand has a couple of steps to take yet before you can groove to Dalvanius Prime at work yet, however. First our law still forbids copying music, even for personal use, so the very act of converting CD music to MP3 files is verboten. Secondly, the anaemic broadband connections available to most households would either be too slow for music streaming (such as Jetstream Starter) or too expensive (such as full-speed Jetstream). We're sure corporate IT departments will be relieved.

Boys will be boys

Some teenage boys at a Northland computer teaching lab decided to use their free time not so wisely ... by looking at porn sites while they were alone in the room. They even went as far as decided to print out some of the better pics to the local printer. Trouble was, the default printer was in the reception area -- downstairs. Needless to say the receptionist was a bit taken aback by what was coming out of the printer, but it didn't take long to figure out where it was coming from. Busted with a capital B.


At a computer security event late last year, one of our staffers was chatting with a longtime industry figure about citizens' increased expectation of surveillance and security checks in the post-9/11 era.

The latter called to mind the "Four Horsemen of the Cryptocalypse". Back in the early 90s these were the perceived great dangers which supposedly justified government agencies gaining access to private cryptography keys. As he remembered them, they were drugs, child pornography, money-laundering and organised crime. We could definitely add terrorism these days, our man suggested.

However, looking up the phrase through Google, we discover terrorism has long been on some commentators' "four horsemen" lists, substituted for one of the above candidates. Smuggling is also sometimes included, and the efforts of our own government a year ago suggest they thought global warming qualified for cryptocalyptic status.

The way government caution is developing, there could soon be more extra horsemen than there were "fifth Beatles".

Hanging Bill

Bill Gates has apparently gained a patent for the hanging of e-pictures, says In his huge house, near Seattle, Bill doesn't have pictures in frames hanging from his walls. Instead he has a number of screens displaying electronic pictures of artwork to suit his changing tastes.

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