E-tales: Ring-in

It's Lord of the Rings bragging time again. Network Appliance was first off the mark. (That's if you don't count a long, confused phone conversation with someone from Industry New Zealand talking about Weta CIO Richard Taylor - or was it Ian Taylor?)

It’s Lord of the Rings bragging time again. Network Appliance was first off the mark. (That’s if you don’t count a long, confused phone conversation with someone from Industry New Zealand talking about Weta CIO Richard Taylor — or was it Ian Taylor? No, he’s of Animation Research fame — getting recognition from someone or other for his graphics genius. Recognition from whom? Sorry, I don’t know, but what’s your deadline and I’ll find out.) Network Appliance, of course, provides the gear that stores all the graphics.

Language barrier

So it looks like the country’s spies have been having success intercepting communications of Middle Eastern origin. That, at least, is the conclusion you might reach from a job that’s going at the Security Intelligence Service. The SIS is advertising for translators for a number of languages, including Middle Eastern, Asian and European ones. No sign of positions for Cobol or Fortran translators, unfortunately, for contractors looking for government employment.


If you miss those jaunty rounded-vowel English voices on the Pathe newsreels, miss them no longer. The biweekly films that kept Britain, er, informed and entertained through two world wars, the great depression and the swinging 60s — 1896 to 1970 — are now available online. Thanks to the UK lottery (and you said it was a waste of money), 3500 hours of low-quality footage featuring 100,000 individual stories can be viewed free of charge at www.britishpathe.com. High resolution clips for web publishing are £100 each. High resolution clips for PowerPoint presentations are £50 each.

Reflecting the UK regard during this time for New Zealand as an offshore farm, there are plenty of references to searches for sheep.

Chop chop

Anyone wonder what happened to Wang? You were? Well, apart from becoming Gen-i in this part of the world, a Chinese company of that name has produced a low-tech product of utility and versatility — namely, a pair of chopsticks, kindly sent in by John Webster, tutor at the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology.

Quick fix

If you were one of those who spotted the Adobe InDesign 2.0.2 update on its download site briefly on December 6, you might be wondering why its appearance was so brief. The technical explanation is that it needed “one more little fix”, in the words of an Adobe Australia person.

Telco bashing

As if their ongoing stoushes in the commercial arena weren’t enough, Telecom and TelstraClear seem to be clashing in the hospitality sphere. After both telcos held their Christmas media bashes on the same day, November 28, some IT hacks have now been invited to the Big Day Out on January 17, as a guest of (roll call) TelstraClear, Vodafone and Ericsson. Apart from the fact many of us feel we’re a bit advanced in years for such a youthful event (hey, there’s Underworld, PJ Harvey, Kraftwerk — Ed), it’s also the day Telecom is taking a few sailing to (possibly not) watch the Louis Vuitton Cup finals.

Mars rocks

The internet reaches just about every corner of the globe, and Intel is banking on plans to make money from its expansion into space. The chip giant is partnering with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to apply its”proactive computing” template to a trial that will involve creating an internet link from Earth to Mars. Remote sensors on Mars will gather data then transmit it, via an orbiting router, back to terra firma. As the data will take several minutes to travel the distance, it is likely to be cached. Intel is also looking at transmitting remote data under the sea.

Attack of the phones

Local councils like to make themselves accessible and Environment Bay of Plenty is taking a lead with its new automated phone system. A receptionist puts you through to a general automated attendant, rather than the voicemail of the person you ask for. The system then asks you to type in that person’s name, but what if your phone just has numbers and no letters? (Yes, there are some around.)

Fellow traveller

Following the interview with Intel fellow Steve Duvall (Intel ignites Wi-Fi hopes), we began speculating on a possible new attempt to make the thrilling world of integrated circuits into material for a movie.

We could get all past and present Intel fellows together and send them off on a quest for the perfect processor (or, more in the Tolkien tradition, a mission to destroy all remaining copies of one that went badly wrong) and call it The Fellowship of the Chip.

The sequel might be called The Two Heat-sinks — we remember Intel did have black ceramic towers on top of its Pentiums at one stage of their evolution, that were rather too squat to really deserve the name, but otherwise looked very sinister and Mordorian. Unfortunately, we can’t find a picture of them.

And the third movie? The Return of the Risc Chip, Cobol, the Systems Analyst ...? Take your pick.

He’d better be

US giants AT&T, Intel and IBM are teaming up to build Cometa, a US-wide wireless LAN network, and have appointed a CEO with a surname that obviously reflects their view of their plans. His name is Lawrence Brilliant.

Over awed

The US military allegedly planned to win the 1991 Gulf War by projecting over Iraq a giant hologram of Allah urging the faithful to overthrow Saddam Hussein. However, the plan faced a few practical snags, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The microwave transmissions needed for the voice would have been of poor quality and easily deflected by solid objects; images of Allah are forbidden in Islam, so people have no idea what he might look like; and even a decade ago fundamentalists would probably believe it was just technological trickery.

Bugger up

The vagaries of online recommendations were highlighted on Amazon.com recently. Christian televangelist Pat Robertson, something of a gay-unfriendly (to euphemise) fellow, apparently found his book, Six Steps to Spiritual Revival, linked to one called The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex. Amazon.com removed the link, not believing the juxtaposition was caused by customers going to the same items while shopping on the site.

However, net privacy expert Richard M Smith believes sales of the Robertson book wouldn’t have been exactly booming, and persons unknown will have persuaded friends to regularly visit the web pages for the two books and recommend the other publication.

Wrestling wretches

Some 46 wrestlers from various US colleges have won a court payout of $US11 million each ($1 billion in total) after they were videotaped nude in a locker room and the film sold over the internet. Florida-based Franco Productions did not defend the invasion of privacy suit. While lawyer Cindy Fluxgold doubts she will get all the money for her clients, she has vowed to go after the production company’s assets.

“The judgement is the court’s way of sending a clear message to the public out there, the bad guys, we are going to come at you. They are not going to allow people to go out there and use the internet as a cesspool and go unscathed.”

Paper trail

Anti-spammers are getting their own back on US bulk emailer Alan Ralsky. After Detroit Free Press columnist Mike Wendland wrote about his activities a few weeks ago, the spammer’s $US1.5 million home has since been inundated with ads, catalogues and brochures.

“They’ve signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is,” Ralsky complained. “These people are out of their minds. They’re harassing me.”

Indeed they are, reports Wendland. Some 300 anti-Ralksy posts were made on the Slashdot.org website, which reported his address, leading to the campaign.

“Several tons of snail mail spam every day might just annoy him as much as his spam annoys me,” wrote one of the anti-spammers. Ralsky is so annoyed that he plans to sue the anti-spammers.

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