Sway this way

Spotted at Big Boys' Toys in Auckland a week or so ago -- two Segway Human Transporters, carting a couple of demo drivers back and forth across a patch of carpet.

Spotted at Big Boys’ Toys in Auckland a week or so ago –- two Segway Human Transporters (one pictured left), carting a couple of demo drivers back and forth across a patch of carpet. Their importer and owner is hiring them out for business promotions and corporate or private functions. While they're not available to buy in New Zealand –- and at about $8000 a pop we can’t see a long line forming -– he’ll help arrange their importation. The Segways’ swaying, back and forth motion at the show attracted plenty of bemused onlookers.

Brand power

If you're launching a new product or service and can't afford a million bucks for a consultant to come up with a name, try

www.whatbrandareyou.com. For us it came up with such gems as Werld: Meeting the bull at the front door, and Tempero: Always ready for the challenge ...

Hoodoo guru

Do we need to ‘fess up to putting a curse on the All Blacks’ World Cup fortunes? A presentation by Computerworld’s editor to the GOVIS (government IT managers) conference in Wellington three days before our boys were bundled out of the contest included this spoof news story.

In the money

A speaker at research firm Gartner's recent symposium in Sydney has given rise to idle speculation that Gartner pays better than other analyst firms. Why? Because his parents called him Rich Mogull. Parental aspirations and semantic redundancy aside, Mr Mogull is Gartner's research director for information security and risk. The theme of his talk was that threats of cyber-terrorism have been overstated, as, he would doubtless add, have estimates of his wealth.

Up and over

Brilliant blather No 3564: "We think our deal will let Pivotal shareholders participate in the upside going forward or if they want to sell get more money for their shares," said Patrick Angelel, vice president of marketing and alliances for Onyx. (Pivotal has rejected Onyx's overtures but was last week considering an alluring offer from an unnamed suitor.)

Another term we note, and almost like, is "inch-stones" (as compared to milestones). Researcher Meta Group says while management expects good project managers to plan for all the variables in a complex project, nobody has a perfect crystal ball.

"CIOs should ensure that a variety of inch-stones are in mission-critical projects to provide proper visibility for just-in-time executive support or resources. Areas of typical weakness that executives should scrutinise include cross-function dependencies, architectural analysis and subsystem integration."

Inches and miles, pounds and stones, feet and yards; there's poetry in those imperial measures.

Not a dog

Keep an eye on ZigBee. This is the marketing name for 802.15.4, a developing specification for low-rate wireless personal area networks. Why, when we have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, do we need another short-distance standard? Say the pundits: "Sensors and controls don't need high bandwidth [for voice, video, etc] but they do need low latency and very low energy consumption for long battery lives and for large device arrays." ZigBee allows the transmission of data at 250kbit/s over about 30m. Motorola already well along with chips and software based on ZigBee. Proponents plan to build it into consumer electronics gear, PC peripherals, building automation systems, industrial controls, medical sensor applications, toys and games. In-Stat/MDR suggests it's a happening thing, and could finally bring about Jetsons-style devices meeting our every need.

Patent watch

In the latest in an occasional series, Microsoft has been ordered to pay $US62 million in compensatory damages for wilfully infringing on a technology patent held by a division of manufacturing and technology company SPX. Imagexpo sued Microsoft in October last year for infringing on its patent with a feature of Microsoft's NetMeeting conferencing product, Whiteboard. The court has yet to rule on other aspects of the case that could affect the final outcome, SPX said. Microsoft doesn't think it infringed and could appeal. Microsoft stopped offering the Whiteboard feature in version 3 of NetMeeting, according to information on its web site, but says the lawsuit had "no bearing" on Microsoft's decision to stop offering the feature.

Inhale, exhale

We shouldn't be hard on people faced with presenting their ideas to a large crowd without exhaustive public-speech training, but the Govis government IT management conference had its fair share of misphrasings and malapropisms. We particularly liked the speaker who, we're sure, meant to recommend "management buy-in" to computer projects, but instead found her mouth advocating "management buyout" -- an entirely different concept. Another good line on management-IT relations had them "breathing down the throat" of developers. A rather more intimate and more uncomfortable experience, we feel, than having them merely breathe down your neck.

The desert of the real

Either Bill Gates is truly hip to all this Linux stuff or the whole company really is an irony-free zone. Gates' keynote at Comdex last week parodied The Matrix, the Microsoft chairman playing Morpheus and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, playing Neo. As one of our correspondents who was there noted: "Some might think The Matrix is an odd choice for Microsoft to parody since the movie is about the human race being enslaved by malevolent cyberintelligence, basically software. Neo, a hacker, joins Morpheus and his group to destroy The Matrix." In Microsoft's version,The Matrix is a world filled with IT consultants working for IBM and selling Linux, while the world outside The Matrix is Windows, which "frees the IT masses", Gates says in the parody. "Take the Big Blue pill and this story ends."

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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