E-tales: IM revolting

Despite reports to the contrary, not everyone in the world is switching on to instant messaging

Despite reports to the contrary, not everyone in the world is switching on to instant messaging. A certain senior Computerworld journalist, for example, refuses to get involved with it, protesting that s/he is already tyrannised by email. Apparently Microsoft marketer Jay Templeton feels likewise, despite Messenger making the company second only to AOL in encouraging IM’s spread. Templeton revealed his aversion to IM during the launch of the tablet PC. Fellow Microserf Nathan Mercer was attempting to demonstrate Messenger’s compatibility with Ink, the software that enables a tablet to behave like a piece of paper. “Are you online?” Nathan asked Jay, as he tried messaging from one side of the stage to the other. “No,” came the reply, “it keeps popping up.” Precisely.

Facing the enemy

Also at the tablet PC launch, Microsoft boss Ross Peat: “We have a lot of corridor.” Does this deserve to be the latest entry in the Book of Business Bollocks, along with “face time”? Microsoft is clearly hoping busy executives, aka “corridor warriors”, will be able to satisfy their face time quotas in the halls of power by arming themselves with tablet PCs.

Internet schminternet

Shock revelation from Walker Wireless boss Bob Smith at the Nelson broadband conference: it wasn’t until he started running his own small business that he appreciated the usefulness of the internet. And that was after he left the top job at Xtra, the country’s biggest ISP.

Help Help

A couple of helpful hints on the website for the Opera browser recently caught our eye.

The company is clearly conscious (unlike some of its prominent rivals) of the impenetrable thicket that alleged “help” databases can sometimes present.

“This is the fourth installation of the Opera Help,” says its site. “It contains a lot of information about the Opera browser. See ‘Help on Help’ to make the most of it.”

And one question in the FAQ deals with flicker experienced on some web pages with Opera and not with other browsers.

“This flickering comes from animated images and is avoided by going to ‘File/Preferences’, and selecting ‘Avoid flicker’ in the Windows category.” Which raises the question: why would you not want to avoid flicker? Fortunately, there is a sensible answer. Opera by default implements only single buffering, and this can cause flickering on animated pages. Double buffering, as implemented by other browsers, “can be a potential system resource drainer”, Opera says. If flicker makes you uneasy, you can turn on double buffering.

Visa vices

Having been on hold for 40 minutes one night trying to get some one at BNZ to answer their web helpline, one reader can understand their poor recent service rating. However, even that was beaten when he signed up of a new Visa card online at www.bnz.co.nz.

After being asked a number of seemingly irrelevant questions about his mother and what sort of relationship he had with his ex, he came to the question of how long he had lived at his current address. The options presented were less than a year, one to two years, three to four years, more than four years.

“Having lived in the same house for 2.5 years I assume I’m not allowed a Visa,” our reader writes, “or BNZ’s webmaster, lawyers, marketing staff and I assume everyone who checked this legal document needs to go back to school for a while? And I trust these people to keep count of my money ...”

Royal flush

Government jargon for the constituent parts of its operation is sometimes as obscure and liable to unfortunate mental associations as the jargon of the IT industry.

More than one of our (admittedly easily amused) staffers are tickled by the phrase “crown entity”. A familiar use of the latter word is as a politically correct term of the science-fiction future to describe any intelligent lifeform.

It raises images of aliens, or one alien in particular, a green, tentacled creature called Kang, who, with his assistant Kodos, makes occasional appearances in the long-running cartoon series The Simpsons. In one episode, the two aliens conquer Earth, and Kang appoints himself king of the planet in appropriate regalia. Unfortunately, we can’t find a picture of Kang so attired anywhere on the numerous websites devoted to Simpsons trivia.

But be prepared next time you see a government IT story. You’ll know we were either desperate for an illustration and/or the sub-editors weren’t paying attention.

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