E-tales: Language redundancy

Further proof this week of just how subtle the PR game is. When we asked IBM in October about imminent job losses in Petone through the sale of its ICMS billing system, we were resent the statement issued at the time of the sale in August.

Further proof this week of just how subtle the PR game is. When we asked IBM in October about imminent job losses in Petone through the sale of its ICMS billing system, we were resent the statement issued at the time of the sale in August: the only redundancies would be eight "dis-established" sales positions. Reading between the lines, however, it was clear that an axe hung over a further 140 jobs once development of a new version of ICMS was complete "by the end of 2002". Now the axe has fallen.

The good news, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald quoting managing director Nick Lambert, is that "These actions do not impact on the day-to-day operations of IBM in New Zealand." Phew, we’re sure those losing their jobs are relieved to hear that.


It’s common enough for people to turn to the Old Testament and other religious texts for clues to the fate of the planet. But who would have thought the Oxford Dictionary of English might serve a similar function? One of Computerworld’s scribes was consulting his trusty dictionary the other day and came across this entry. Wholesale: adjective, done on a large scale; extensive: the wholesale destruction of Iraqi communications. Should we bring this to the attention of Saddam?

The eternal battle continues

Those who do not frequent our IDGnet online news service (shame on you) may be unaware that Auckland-based publisher Profile Publishing - - associated with the launch of NZ Computerworld for a year or so way back in 1986 -- had its website hacked last week by the Church of Satan (CoS), as mentioned in IDGnet next day (see Publisher site gets hacked).

Profile's home page was replaced by a graphic showing CoS founder Anton LaVey in a rather comical-looking Devil suit, surrounded by disciples costumed, for some reason, as barnyard animals, and accompanied by some text in what looks like Portuguese.

Our pan-religious correspondent guesses that the second most "hacked off" party over the intrusion is likely to be the rival Temple of Satan (ToS). Their adherents are always hurling insults and accusations of heresy at one another through newsgroups like alt.satanism - distinctly reminiscent of some Christian sects in that respect - and the ToS-ers (to coin a word) will probably resent CoS's publicity coup.

In probing around the topic on the web, we notice a strike for the Light against clumsy-fingered aspiring Satanists (not to mention journalists) who miss a dot. The domain wwwchurchofsatan.com has been seized by the Abundant Bible Studies group. Nice one, JC.

I do not recall

Britain's Department of Trade and Industry is encouraging companies to boost public safety by posting their product recall notices on their websites, in addition to the usual drab notices often found in newspapers. A BBC Online survey found few corporates do this, and recall notices are usually the preserve of trading standards departments, consumer groups or government agencies. The survey, however, raises the Consumer's Institute of New Zealand and the Australian Treasury Product Recalls website as leading examples of this genre.

Stovepipes or flairs?

Be careful how you preserve your data. The 1986 BBC Domesday project, a multimedia snapshot of British life, has become accessible for the first time in years. It had been stored in now-obsolete video disk and Acorn Microcomputer systems. Fortunately, researchers at Leeds University in England and the US-based University of Michigan developed software that emulates the two systems, allowing the data to be read once more. BBC Online reports that the Domesday project highlights the problems of digital preservation. Databases recorded in old computer formats can no longer be acessed on new generation machines, while magnetic storage tapes and disks have physically decayed, ruining precious databases. "We must invest wisely in developing an infrastructure to preserve our digital records before it is too late. We must not make the mistake of thinking that recording on a long-lived medium gives us meaningful preservation," says project manager Paul Wheatley. Meanwhile, the original Domesday Book, an inventory of England in 1086, remains in fine condition in the Public Record Office in Kew, London.

Liquid launch

British bars have come up with a new way to draw in the punters -- broadband. UK company Wialess is installing Wi-Fi systems in pubs across St Albans in north London, allowing people to have a drink while they surf. If a patron has no laptop, the bar has a spare they can use. Wialess says the system pays for itself if the pub sells just an extra three pints a day. Barneys wine bar and restaurant told one online news site that offering wireless services is generating so much extra trade for its meals, particularly from tourists wanting to email pictures back home, that it has bought another laptop for customers to use.

Netting nuns

Even secluded nuns, whose simple ways date back 1500 years, are turning to the internet. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Benedictine nuns at Our Lady on the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island, Washington, who are mostly aged over 60, have launched a website to save (read: promote) their way of life. Named after 6th century Roman monk St Benedict, the nuns claim their site has led to three younger women showing an interest in joing their order.

Whether balloon or baloney

The truth may be out there, now that Britain's Ministry of Defence has published files concerning the UK's Roswell equivalent -- UFO sightings in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk in 1980. Eyewitnesses, including officers at a nearby US military base, said they saw a brilliantly lit spaceship land in the forest on two consecutive nights. Doubters say this was a nearby lighthouse, or possibly a weather balloon. Judge for yourself here.

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