A winning tune

Possibly very appropriate on-hold music at the Intellectual Property Office: The Bee Gees You win again. Sample lyric: 'You win again/So little time/We do nothing but compete...

Possibly very appropriate on-hold music at the Intellectual Property Office: The Bee Gees' You win again. Sample lyric: "You win again/So little time/We do nothing but compete/There's no life on earth/No other could see me through/You win again/Some never try/But if anybody can, we can/And I'll be, I'll be/Following you."

Just the facts

Put "Bill Gates is a baby killer" into Google and guess who comes up? Sorry about that, and it reminds us that search engines don't yet know either when when you're inserting irony into something or ready to read irony in something else.

Totally spooky

Systems analysts who fancy a career change might like to consider taking up spying. The SIS is recruiting spooks who can think clearly and have strong analytical skills, among many other rare qualities. There’s a section in the application form where you have to describe on-the-job experiences that illustrate your ability to persevere and adapt to changed circumstances. You know – examples like the occasion (weekly, for us) when the lifts broke and you had to WALK down six flights of stairs for your outdoor fag break; and the time the watercooler ran dry and you filled your glass from the toilet bowl. With war stories like those, you'll be our man in Jakarta in no time (or is it Canberra we're focusing attention on these days?). One puzzle: the job ad stipulates applications must be completed in black ink. Why? Applications close on Friday.

Teen dispirited

Spare a thought this week for Jeffrey Lee Parsons, surely one of the less comfortable teenagers on the planet this week. Parsons is the gormless geek who made a modified version of the Blaster worm last month which linked to his website and even included his online name, t33kid.

Even the FBI couldn’t miss those clues, and so Parsons, as one website noted, is entering “a world of pain”. Parson’s worm, Blaster-B, never really took off, but he’ll be reaping some payback for the less gormless virus writer who originally wrote Blaster.

Who could be more stupid? The Register has a candidate, Michael Buen, who reputedly wrote a Word macro virus that tried to print his CV and then threatened retribution if he didn’t have a job by the end of the month.

(Etales says: L33t, anyone?)

Parsons’ website disappeared from the internet rather quickly, but can still be found in the Google cache.

Crossed lines

Unlike email, the phone system is something we just take for granted. So did our Australian brethren, at least until last week when Telstra’s mobile phone network went bonkers last month. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, thousands of Telstra mobile customers who tried to place calls instead found themselves listening in on other people’s conversations. The person they originally tried to call would also be party to the unwitting banter. Some lucky callers apparently even received other people’s voicemail messages.

Telstra still doesn’t know what went wrong, and after more than seven hours had elapsed finally decided to pull the plug — literally. In time-honoured fashion, the entire network was rebooted.

A Telstra rep said no complaints had been received from people who had their communications intercepted, although there was no word on exactly how the punters were supposed to know their privacy had been breached.

Logo a go-go

A media release from Telecom arrived in our inboxes last Tuesday afternoon. "Updated Telecom logo," it proclaimed. After 16 years with the same logo, the one that features three lines running through the O, Telecom announced it had decided to update its moniker. You will know what it looks like by now. The problem for Telecom was that abseilers weren't due until the end of Tuesday to remove the old logo from Telecom's headquarters on Wellington's Manners St, and could we wait until Wednesday to write anything? Being helpful types, we passed the time guessing what the new logo would be. A mouth sucking cash from customers wallets? A picture of Telecommunications Commissioner Douglas Webb with a target on his forehead?

From George W with love

Tony Blair finally has a personal email address. Well, a form-based one, anyway. The great story behind how his office was persuaded, after a year-long campaign by blogger Tim Ireland who had been getting the UK PM's mail because of a joke, to do this is here.

Sign language

Buying online could get more secure now that researchers have come up with a way to let you sign for goods using your mouse. E-tales suspects older people in particular might feel more comfortable shopping on the internet. The biometrics-based software, which learns your mouse signature before you sign for anything, was invented by Ross Everitt and Dr Peter McOwan from the Department of Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London.

Cash control

Shareholders fighting against huge remuneration for the bosses of public companies have had a win that may shift the balance of power. CRM software firm Siebel Systems, well-known for being very generous to its executives with stock options, is to change its practices after a lawsuit by a retirement fund. The settlement terms give shareholders more input into compensation and governance. Between 1996 and 2001, founder and CEO Thomas Siebel received options worth almost $US1 billion and during that time exercised enough options to realise gains of $US321 million (though in recent times he exercised more restraint as the company's shared lost most of the value they had gained in the past three years). It almost puts to shame the recent case of Richard Grasso, the top executive at the New York Stock Exchange, who is to be paid a lump sum of $140 million.

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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