E-tales: Playing games

Who is the Auckland-based Microsoft manager who has a Nintendo emulator and downloads free copies of Nintendo games? We doubt he'd be pleased if people started doing the same with Xbox games.

Who is the Auckland-based Microsoft manager who has a Nintendo emulator and downloads free copies of Nintendo games? We doubt he'd be pleased if people started doing the same with Xbox games.

Trojan horse

Microsoft’s Windows, described by Sun boss Scott McNealy in such colourful language as a "fur ball", appears nonetheless to have penetrated to the heart of Sun's headquarters.

Computerworld columnist Juha Saarinen emailed McNealy in annoyance at receiving some Sun spam, only to get a reply from Lew Tucker. Tucker, according to the Sun website, is chief spam officer -- at least, he’s vice-president of internet services, which presumably gives him responsibility for spamming activities. McNealy put him in charge of replying to Saarinen with a peremptory "Please handle".

Tucker promised Saarinen matters would be "checked out immediately" and offered an apology for any inconvenience. Nice, though the eagle-eyed Saarinen noticed that the message had been dispatched via Mozilla 5 running on Windows.

Digital doc

A press release (viewable in the April 8 New Zealand Herald business section) reached us last week from a company claiming to have come up with free software for GPs that will alert them to cases of SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome, if you’ve just emerged from a cave). The free software would pop a message on to the doc’s PC screen if a patient complained of SARS symptoms including coughing, breathlessness and fever. Frankly, if your GP isn’t already on the look out for such signs, we suggest you find another one.

Maacron maadness

Another press release, this one from Microsoft, should have been a bit more clever. It announced availability of (free) software for typing macrons to accurate represent Maori spellings. Trouble was, getting the point across relied on the receiver’s email software supporting macrons. Ours doesn’t, so the release was littered with dots where the letter a (with macron) was intended. You really had to be there to get the full effect.

Xbox-ed in

You may remember an Xbox competition that promised to send two lucky media types to the E3 electronic entertainment show in LA in May. The two winners were freelance Ian Knott and a guy from nzoom called Josh Chalmers. Problem is, they won't give him the prize because he's going to the UK. He said "I'll cover it freelance for Nzoom" and got his boss to sign the letter. They still won't give it to him. Apparently he's got to be with some media outlet, though of course it has nothing to do with encouraging ongoing coverage of a certain games platform.

Just the releases, ma'am

And while we're still on Microsoft (it's a big target, just ask the company), the Australian website of the Redmond-led antipiracy Business Software Alliance offers a choice for journalists: media releases or facts. Call us the cynics?

Star power

The Wellington Chapter of the worldwide Information System Audit and Control Association has won a prestigious prize, the Wayne Snipes Award, for being the best medium-sized ISACA chapter. The association has chapters in 100 countries, so a win for New Zealand is a source of great pride in the capital. Pity that the person at KPMG who emailed Computerworld about the win appears to be something of a movie buff: the attachment containing the press release was titled "Wesley Snipes Award.doc" .

Surveys, schmurveys

Distributed denial-of-service attacks make your website more "popular", at least as the Lycos search engine company measures it.

In spite of being frequently knocked offline through attacks, be they domain name interference, denial of service or political pressure on firms like Akamai, the website of Arabic satellite news network Al Jazeera was among the most sought-after on the internet, Lycos reports.

Search requests for "Al Jazeera" -- and variant spellings -- became its top search term early this month, with three times more searches than "sex", Lycos says.

We hate to spoil a good story, but if internet users look for something in a search engine and the site found fails to materialise, are they not likely to try the search again with different parameters? So DDoS activity of itself probably increases the search count. Variant spelling is also likely to multiply requests. That still doesn’t make the site more popular.

If survey organisations had been around in medieval times, they might have concluded, on the basis of searches, that the most popular pet was the unicorn. At times, Al-Jazeera's English site has appeared almost as mythical.

And, while many doubtless still search for sex on the internet, searching for "sex" (the word, we presume) garners a mass of stuff on animal and insect biology which probably doesn’t reflect many searchers’ aims. Search engine users, we suspect, are more sophisticated these days.

Bloggers one and all

As Iraqi war coverage fills the newspapers, so war-related comment is threatening to dominate the Usenet newsgroups increasingly inaccurately known as nz.general and nz.politics. The difference is, newsgroups don't have proofreaders.

Some group posters were so quick off the mark when the first shots were fired that control of their typing fingers obviously slipped. "Anto-aircraft fire heard" reported one contributor, reporting on that first unscheduled assault on a building allegedly housing Saddam Hussein and senior lieutenants.

"So it begans ...", typed another.

Last week a third fumble-fingered poster delivered the heading "Panci sweeps Baghdad".

"Ho yuss?" said one commentator. "I'm wondering who or what panci is."

"Lap-dancing" came a swift and inventive reply.

Now that would be a bloodless and original way of sapping morale.

The tsorry tstory

Thinking of the variability of Arabic names in English spelling, we did a Google search for "Usama bin Ladin", the spelling favoured by many scholarly commentators on Arabic affairs. The 12,700 results indicate searchers using "Osama bin Laden" might be missing some good stuff.

However, some Arabists’ favoured spelling of that other name, "Tsaddam Hussayn" -- that’s Ts as in "tsar" or "tsunami" (or, for that matter "Mitsubishi"), a sharper sound than an ordinary S -- turned up no references at all, and "Tsaddam" on its own only three.

The appeal of "Saddam" to his enemies -- George Bush senior always put the stress inaccurately (mischievously?) on the first syllable -- is understandable, says one such source; the word has connotations of sorrow or "sorriness" in both English and Arabic. "Tsaddam" means "one who strikes".

Edited by Mark Broatch.

E-tales special: Testing times

In the colour quiz, www.colorquiz.com, you select your colours in decreasing favouritism until all are eliminated. About one of us it decided:

Existing situation: Active, outgoing and restless. Feels frustrated by the slowness with which events develop along the desired lines. This leads to irritability, changeability and lack of persistence when pursuing a given objective.

Stress sources: Wishes to be independent, unhampered and free from any limitation or restriction, other than those which he imposes of himself or by his own choice and decision.

Restrained characteristics: Relationships rarely measure up to high emotional expectations and need to be made the centre of things, leading to disappointment. Always has mental reservations and tends to remain emotionally isolated and unattached. The situation is preventing him from establishing himself, but he feels he must make the best of things as they are.

Desired objective: Wishes to find his stimulation in a voluptuous atmosphere of sensuous luxury [eh?]

Actual problem: Seeks to avoid criticism and to prevent restriction of his freedom to act, and to decide for himself by the exercise of great personal charm in his dealings with others.

Quick and dirty

In certainly the quickest test we undertook, this one just made us choose our favourite picture and colour among nine graphics.

Result: You value a natural style and love that which is uncomplicated. People admire you because you have both feet planted firmly on the ground and they can depend on you. You give those who are close to you security and space. You are perceived as being warm and human. You reject everything that is garish and trite. You tend to be sceptical toward the whims of fashion trends. For you, clothing has to be practical and unobtrusively elegant.

The taste of power

More than 500,000 persons have allegedly taken this quiz since 1997. It was apparently developed in conjunction with two graduate students in psychology at the University of Wisconsin.

Two reporters scored around 68 , ranking us as a 6: "These people presumably like the feeling of power and will work hard to gain it, even though the quest doesn't entirely consume them. They would like to be at the top, want to lead, and are extremely disappointed when they don't succeed. They may accept failure, but only grudgingly. It rankles as punishing feelings such as anger, hostility, and resentment linger. As supervisors they may have their moments when they intimidate and abuse, but it isn't something they crave to do. Their aggressive and intimidating moments emerge in the heat of battle, as they pursue perfection or authority or to win a competition or a challenge and wonder in calmer moments, why they lost it and may feel guilt and remorse."

Getting medieval

One of us did the Medieval test and came out a wandering minstrel

In profile

"Most personality tests on the internet are not serious tests designed to help you: they provide little, if any, useful feedback, are not developed by psychologists, and are offered as "teasers" to sell someone's book or other products. We are different. We provide a real test that gives comprehensive feedback on your strengths and developmental needs."

The free summary of the test told us this:


DRIVE: Takes commitments and responsibilities seriously, though is not upset if things change. Able to set tasks aside. May occasionally struggle with follow-through. Can work hard when required to do so. Generally achievement oriented.

ORGANISATION: Careful and methodical. Usually well disciplined. Keeps things orderly.

Outgoing: Personable, active and high spirited. Enjoys some attention from others. Sometimes speaks before thinking. Prefers talking to listening.

SOCIABILITY: Enjoys some degree of socialising and being around people, but also values privacy.

Very Critical: Likely to be individualistic, competitive or skeptical. May be regarded as impersonal and emotionally aloof. Can stay objective when others' feelings are at stake. Might sometimes come across as harsh.

EMPATHY: May show little concern for the feelings and problems of others. Can be insensitive.

TRUST: Has a generally forgiving nature. Moderate trust in others.

Resilient: Regarded by others as cool, calm and collected. Not easily frustrated. Confident and able to effectively deal with adversity. Shows good self-composure.

ANXIETY: Occasionally has feelings of anxiety and insecurity.

MOOD: Not easily frustrated and generally even keeled.

Inquisitive: Open to new experiences. Broad interests. May see self as open minded and progressive. Seeks the aesthetic and has a need for variety. Enjoys intellectual debate. Considers various aspects of an issue.

CREATIVITY: Can be innovative, but is not unusually creative or imaginative.

Of IQ ...

One of our number scored a measly above average in the 15-minute IQ test at but it gave them a headache. Tip for wannabe geniuses: the timer starts as soon as you hit the page.

... And WQ

Apart from IQ and EQ, the so-called emotional intelligence, Scott Adams suggests in his latest book, The Way of the Weasel, that there is also WQ, weasel intelligence. Quite how it’s measured science hasn’t yet got its collective head around, but it’s sure to involve tests not unlike those seen on reality TV shows, except involving cubicles.

And we liked this one


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