E-Tales: Marvellous Moz

He may no longer be the National Party's IT spokesman (the mantle has passed to Helensville MP John Key. Who?), but Maurice Williamson will surely continue to get invitations to the Computerworld Excellence Awards.

He may no longer be the National Party’s IT spokesman (the mantle has passed to Helensville MP John Key. Who?), but Maurice Williamson will surely continue to get invitations to the Computerworld Excellence Awards. In past years Williamson has provided more laughs than the paid entertainment. This year, with the awards being presented in the same week he was suspended from caucus, he had more material to work with than he could use. (Actually, he was under instructions from his lawyer not to use it.) Williamson -- presenter of the e-business of the year award -- more or less obeyed, allowing himself to loudly declare his love of winning (as opposed to his party’s tendency to come runner-up?). He then dramatically mock-signalled his surrender to the party hierarchy. But not very convincingly.

Riding high

The new president of the New Zealand Software Association, Wayne Hudson, is clearly an energetic individual. The Bell Gully lawyer is also president of Cycling New Zealand. He’s recently back from watching the Tour de France field slog its guts out through the Pyrenees (his sixth tour). Hudson still rides, winning the 50 to 54 age group race in the national road champs in April. He’s been putting his lawyerly skills to work for the cyclists in the past week or so, advising on the implications of the conviction of an event organiser charged over the death of a race participant killed in a collision with a car. Hudson’s unlikely to have to confront such issues at the NZSA; we’ve heard of no cases of developers who’ve met an untimely end through a software mishap.


Oracle’s support for Linux is regarded as legendary, but researchers from US IT analysts Forrester weren’t prepared for a visit to Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores at the far reaches of Silicon Valley. Occupying various points around the organisation's roads were yellow give-way signs manned (birded?) by happy Linux penguins. Perhaps bait for pot-shots from marauding Microsofties?

Stealing property

Speaking of flightless sea birds with ready-to-wear dinner suits, what was possibly a prescient comment on the relative security of Linux occurred during a (apparently unforgettable) 1970s TV show remembered by E-tales.

"I keep this penguin next to my window to guard against burglars."

"Oh yes, so when a burglar climbs through your window at night, a stuffed penguin’s going to wake you up, is it?"

"No, I’ll get woken up by a burglar saying ‘Blimey, a penguin!’"

Survey shenanigans

Microsoft has been surveying journalists about their perceptions of the company. An Australian market research company is undertaking the survey, which poses a number of questions, one of which is "What do you believe Microsoft stands for in New Zealand?" Well, Oracle has been said to stand for "One rich a**hole called Larry Ellison", so Microsoft might be said to stand for "Monopolistic, insecure, cash-rich operating system outfit fighting Torvalds". No? How about we show our loving side and suggest: "Many incredible, creative, rich operating system offerings for takers"? The company would doubtless point out that operating systems are but one string to its incredible bow.

It's a small parliament

Who is the MP responsible for some IT-related portfolios who can't work his new mobile phone? Answers in a text message please.

Oh what a tangled web ...

Faced recently with a pause in connection both to the company's server and to the internet, one reporter phoned Telecom's JetStream help line. Before keying through to the "status message", he was asked rhetorically by the recorded and ever-smiling voice: "Did you know you can find help on Xtra's website? There's no need to phone us ..." Think, Telecom. What is likely to be wrong with this advice?

Slack hat

Have you filters, Sam I am? You still could get Code Red and spam ... A talk by network intrusion specialist Brett Moore at the recent IT Security 2003 conference appeared on the programme as "What Dr Seuss forgot to tell you about the hacker community."

No, no verse, and it was pitched under the comparatively prosaic heading: "A step into the hacker underground".

Moore's reason for ditching the Seuss title? "I forgot my hat". We remember the distinctive red-and-white-striped one like that worn by Dr Seuss's Cat, though Moore is obviously a "white hat". But does this suggest that (when he remembers to bring it) he doubles as a Linux promoter?

(Trivia note: some sources credit Dr Seuss -- real name Theodore Geisel -- with inventing the term "nerd". The lines "And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo/ And bring back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo/ a Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!" are quoted by some in a "take back the nerd" campaign. The alternative -- and in our view rather more stretched -- explanation, is that "nerd" was originally spelt "knurd" and is backslang, describing the kind of strait-laced person who never gets drunk.)

Goodbye hello

Speaking of slang, MSN.co.uk commissioned TNS Research to survey 2000 adults and asked UK slangmeister Jonathon Green (The Big Book of Filth) to write up the report. He reckons that instant messaging will replace hello and goodbye with various terms. Hey, gidday and hola lead the list of online alternatives for hello. The number one piece of "globespeak" for goodbye is laters. For about a week.

A Microsoft release on the report can be read here.

Just deserts

Got a letter from a minister from the very-much-alleged Democratic Republic of Sahara (twice). No thanks, don't need any sand at this point. What, you're offering an investment in some gold someone discovered? Now you're talking! Bring it on! But seriously, if you've ever wondered why spammers continue long after most self-regarding people might give up, read this story on Wired.com about the people you can fool some of the time.

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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