E-tales: Cutting face-time

Lotus reckons instant messaging reduces your use of the phone by 72%, voicemail 69%, email by 85%, pagers by 45% and face-to-face meetings by half.

Lotus reckons instant messaging reduces your use of the phone by 72%, voicemail 69%, email by 85%, pagers by 45% and face-to-face meetings by half. A straw poll conducted in the office suggested this is about right, though we tend not to use pagers as much as the yanks. As for IM being just another conduit for office gossip, Lotus exec Chris Crummey told Computerworld that the free instant message programs are more often used for gossip than the emerging corporate paid versions (well, he would do). And yes, Lotus reckons that its Sametime is the number one IM being sold into large enterprises. Sametime EveryPlace 3, you'll possibly be not very pleased to know, can track you down by SMS if you have a mobile phone. There really will be no escape.

Non sequitir

"That's a great question; I get asked that a lot" -- a US IBM exec wins a gold star for diplomacy.

Hard bargain

If you're ever lost in an Asian market somewhere, trying to escape the insistent local shopkeepers, you could do worse than give IBM NZ head Nick Lambert a call. On a recent trip to Shanghai, Lambert established himself as not only something of a gastronome, oenophile and caffeine addict but possibly the most expensive personal shopper in the Asia-Pacific region. Meaning he can bargain with the best. Be sure you have your best negotiators on hand when you're signing that outsourcing contract.

Outdated methods

A Computerworld staffer attending a talk by a health sector CIO listened intently as the CIO railed against the outdated practice of scribbling down prescriptions and patient notes. After all, he pointed out, there's lots of wonderful technology around that allows doctors to do it electronically. The reporter noted the CIO's comment -- not electronically, but by the old-fashioned, quaint method of writing it down in a notebook, by hand, with a pen. And that's how it'll be done until voice recognition software takes a quantum leap.

Outdated methods 2

For all the growing power and flexibility of information and communications technology, some things still have to be delivered physically -- like lunch.

Delegates to last week's conference on New Zealand civil society's input to United Nations "information society" deliberations were left waiting more than an hour for edibles to go with their mid-session break. The culprit: a traffic-snarling armed services march to welcome home our returning peacekeeping troops from East Timor. The conference was on one side of the parade and lunch was stuck on the other.

Maybe in that near or distant day when we all have a broadband connection allowing us to "telework", there will be a way of conducting parades online; each marcher's image will be picked up on camera from home or office and smoothly inserted among all the others for a grand virtual column and a flag-waving crowd.

(Some march resplendently uniformed; others just stand around watching: hence the expression "Pomp and Circumstance".)

You sneer? Well tell us what's likely to come first; virtual parades or online satisfaction of the digestive juices.

Centre of the universe

Should we still be in any doubt that the centre of TelstraClear's help service has moved to Auckland, consider the response to a help call made from home by one of our staffers last week.

"Where are you connecting from?" asked the helpdesker. Our man told him. "Karori," he commented hesitantly. "That's in Wellington isn't it?" Yes, only the largest suburb of that city.

And they say Americans need to go to war to learn geography.

(And by the way, should we be changing south of the Bombays to south of the Mumbais? Or how about two dial codes: one for Auckland and one for the rest of the country?)


Despite our dealing with up-to-the-minute technology all day, some of the journalists on our staff are, let's face it, of an "earlier" generation chronologically -- we could at least theoretically have children old enough to be in today's prime youth marketplace, if we don't actually have them.

It's a source of joy, therefore, to discover that the mobile phones we now use for sober work purposes have been officially labelled "funky" in a Vodafone campaign.

At least one of our staffers didn't need telling; arriving home the evening after being given his upgraded phone, he had it pounced on by his 15-year-old daughter, with cries of "You've got one of those! Can we swap?"

Yes, according to Vodafone, we share our mobile technology with kids in loose T-shirts, flared jeans and eyeshades (and some of us remember the days when only middle-aged journalists and typesetters wore the last); not to mention the bare-chested stud with the huge dollar-shaped "bling" (gold neck-pendant), and ... the purple Disney-style wolf with a bandaged head and one rolled-up trouser leg.

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