We’re always asking on your behalf if IT vendors will name customers of the products they’re telling us about. Sometimes they do but mostly they don’t. The usual excuse is "commercial sensitivity", leaving the sceptical journalist no alternative but to conclude that they haven’t sold any yet. Sometimes the vendor’s reticence is couched very elaborately. One told us the other day that his technology is so leading-edge that users don’t want to let on for fear of giving away their competitive advantage. To add spice to the story, he told of overhearing two of his customers discussing the said technology, each saying that it was too bleeding edge for them, with the clear intention of putting the other off. You believe him? We didn’t either.
No Shock and Awe on your Playstation
Sony has withdrawn its application, as reported in E-tales last week, for a trademark on the term "Shock and Awe". In a statement, the gaming giant admitted the idea was "an exercise of regrettable bad judgement". Last month The Guardian revealed that Sony had sought a trademark on the term for possible use in a future game.
The add-on tool marketed by a New Zealand health software company recently, one which alerts doctors to possible symptoms of SARS symptoms (but which are more likely to be those of the flu or a cold), was bad enough, but an Australian vendor has gone one, er, worser. The networking hardware outfit announced a broadband videophone that uses TV. The killer application, if you'll excuse the expression, is that it will allow anyone who has to travel Asia to avoid doing so by conducting their business over the phone. And then there's the worm that exploits the SARS virus -- a new email worm, W32/coronex-A (Coronex), a mass-mailer that uses Microsoft Outlook, arriving as an attachment carrying varying bogus alerts about SARS along the lines of sars.exe, Hongkong.exe and deaths.exe.
Asking for it
The Netsafe website, which usually concerns itself with the safety of children on the internet, has recently added a warning to adults about an online scam.
"You receive an email that looks like it comes from your bank (or airline, stockbroker etc). This email announces that the business has improved its security measures and all you need to do is click on the link provided to update your details. The link takes you to what looks like the familiar site of that business and there you are asked to enter details like your name, account number, password etc.
"The problem is that the original email was a fraud. The link actually takes people to a 'spoofed' website -- one made to look like the legitimate one. Once the details are typed in and the fraud concluded, these schemes can actually then link the scam victim to the real company site."
Maybe this specific brand of the scheme has not yet hit New Zealand, as Netsafe says, but two years ago there was a similar spoof website plan, which appeared to have been hatched by a gang of New Zealanders. The difference was it involved conning the victim to pay a subscription to a fake porn website.
A police spokesman said at the time that no effort would be made to investigate the fraud, because "there is very little public sympathy for victims of such a crime where they’ve given their credit card details to a porn site".
You wouldn’t have to be exactly a genius to see that, as with many developments, legitimate or otherwise, that begin in the lucrative porn business, this one would fetch up elsewhere in due course.
We’d like to think police feel a little guilty for having taken such a hands-off attitude to the earlier manifestation of this swindle. But we don’t suppose they do.
Some media and presentation suggestions doing the email rounds. We don't recommend No 7.
1. Don't wear stripes; they dance around on the screen and are distracting.
2. Don't lean back in your chair; you'll look short and fat.
3. Reporters don't have to ask your permission to quote you.
4. Don't audio or videotape an interview in front of a reporter unless you are 99% sure you are going to be mistreated.
5. If you are using a PowerPoint Presentation, speak directly to your audience for at least for three minutes before presenting your first slide.
6. Always carry an extra bulb for your PowerPoint projector.
7. Cliches work great with the media but make you sound unintelligent when delivering a speech.
8. Nothing is 100% off the record. Notes are made and reviewed by editors, publishers and lawyers.
9. Tough questions don't trip people up. Sloppy answers to easy questions are what do people in.
10. "I don't know, but I will find out and get back to you before deadline" is an infinitely better thing to say to a reporter than making up facts that doesn't turn out to be true.
Lock 'em up
If you thought the break-in at the Ministry of Defence in Wellington a few months back raised serious concerns about security, a similar break-in has taken place across the Tasman. Victoria's Office of Public Prosecutions was broken into over Easter and 13 notebooks stolen. The department says there was no sensitive data on the laptops but, still, it's a bit embarrassing. Nevertheless, the loss pales into comparison with a revelation last year that the US Navy's Pacific fleet was missing 600 laptops, 14 of which were known to have contained classified information at some time.
Little feathery brother
And speaking of our friends across the ditch, if the new version of Big Brother doesn't tug your cossie, a fellow in Norway has created a small-screen alternative, featuring birds. Magne Klann put a webcam into a bird house in a tree in Oslo. You can see all the torrid action -- eating, sleeping, tits (blue ones) -- at his wallpaper-backgrounded Piip-show (geddit?) website. Klann has said there will be no evictions.
In the dock
Watch where you take pictures with those snazzy mobile phones. One Gavin Hughes apparently got done in a regional court in south Wales for taking a snap of the defendent in the dock, which is an offence. Hughes was arrested, says Ananova, and brought before the judge on the same day as his subject. He was fined the equivalent of about $800.
Edited by Mark Broatch.