E-Tales: Making Notes

Pavel Orlov of Baywater in Auckland won the T-shirt, correctly guessing Lotus Notes as the troublesome email client that has great difficulty changing its web browser. It was obviously too easy an identification parade, as quite a few got it right.

Pavel Orlov of Baywater in Auckland won the T-shirt, correctly guessing Lotus Notes as the troublesome email client that has great difficulty changing its web browser. It was obviously too easy an identification parade, as quite a few got it right.

One competition entrant says the real beauty of Notes is that there are 14 ways of doing anything, and none of them are intuitive. He recommends comedic relief here and notes (!) that even though R5 improved some problems, "there's plenty left".

Another writer defends the product: "It may have its drawbacks, but at least VB macro viruses do not worry it. Also, using internet browsing within Notes means that most web page viruses and trojans are also automatically stymied." However, he confesses he switched this function off, preferring to have web pages opening in IE directly.

The earlier correspondent has the answer to changing browsers. "Just click File, then Preferences, then Location preferences (assuming you're already on Office as your location), then select the Internet Browser tab to choose your weapon."

Larry's brain teaser

"Oracle's licensing took several weeks to figure out." Another user finds Larry's licences complicated. He added that half of his time was spent managing his several vendors. Surely there's a better way?

Who got scr___ed?

"They call it a merger, but as in all close relationships, there's always a f___er and a f___ee." An industry source's forthright way of countering the disinclination to use the word "takeover" in a commercial deal.

Finger food

Londoner Alex Nikitin has what must be the most valuable fingers in the world. The computer gamer had his fingers insured for £375,000 after qualifying for the World Cyber Games in Korea last week. His reasoning was that injury causing loss of or damage to his fingers would cause him to miss games and tournaments, thus losing him earnings. Those of us who use keyboards every day would surely be eligible for such a policy, though we wonder if each of our finger was worth more than $100,000.

Public information

Intentia has filed criminal charges against news service Reuters for obtaining an earnings report from a web page it considered private. The ERP software firm has asked Sweden's top cops to investigate whether Reuters broke the law by finding Intentia's third-quarter report on its website before its public release.

Thomas Ahlerup, a spokesman for the company, said the web page was not available through normal channels on the site, meaning it could be found if you knew, or could guess, the right URL. Intentia considered Reuters' action to be an IT property violation.

Reuters doesn't know what the fuss is about, having done similar things before, though Intentia is worried it could make everything on a site public. Well, yeah.

Saying nothing loudly

Doonesbury couldn't resist having a go at the humble (well, not really) weblog. In the October 21 strip, one coiffured dude says to another: "Wait, don't you have to have something to say?" "A common misconception," replies the other.

Kid's stuff

Excuse us if you've heard this before, but we still can't get over it. The original trippers' kids' show, Magic Roundabout is coming back, 37 years later, as a $40 million state of the art digital movie featuring Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue.

Robbie is to be the voice of sugar cube-obsessed Maltese terrier Dougal, while Kylie will be the girl Florence. Dylan, the spaced-out rabbit, will be unveiled at a later date, says The Guardian. Joanna Lumley will play Ermintrude the cow, while Richard O'Brien, creator of the Rocky Horror Show, will be the bizarre spring-propelled Zebedee. Jim Broadbent will play Brian the snail. Other famous people are said to be taking on new characters.


Created by Frenchman Serge Danot, the Magic Roundabout was scripted and voiced for English-speaking audiences by Eric Thompson, father of Emma, and shown by the BBC from 1965 until the late 1970s. Its chief appeal was its unpredictable weirdness, which led to rumours of drug influences. That's just crap, man.

The high-tech movie should be released in 2004.

Mail bomb

The ubiquity and speed of email is very much a double-edged sword, suggests Wired.com. It says that on July 17, a self-proclaimed expert in biochemistry composed an email message to Saddam Hussein. Sent from an MSN Hotmail account on a computer in China, it recommended the use of methyl bromide, an agricultural pesticide, as an effective chemical weapon against the US army.

"For weapon use, have function: no color, no smell, will let person dead in a few second," wrote the email's author, obviously with a poor American education, who provided the phone number and address of a distributor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from which the toxic chemical could be purchased "in cylinder or in can".

Whether Hussein, Iraq's leader since 1979, uses email or even knows how to operate a personal computer is another question. But scores of people for some odd reason apparently write to him each week (Bush is arguably shifty but Hussein's not a very nice guy at all ...) at press@uruklink.net, the email address listed on the official homepage of the Iraqi presidency.

An online bullfight

And speaking of taking protest to the streets, or at least the lanes of the information superhighway, hundreds of websites have gone offline to protest against a new internet law in Spain, reports Ananova.com. Any site that engages in commerce has to register with the government, according to a new law, and digital rights site Kriptopolis.com is co-ordinating the campaign to oppose the move. It lists more than 350 sites that have taken their pages down in symbolic protest.

The Spanish government wants companies operating online to be subject to the same tax and commerce laws as traditional firms, but opponents say it's trying to regulate cyberspace more strictly than real world commerce. Non-profit sites don't have to register, but do have to publish their webmaster's name, address and national identification number. Breaking the law carries a maximum fine northwards of $1 million.

Blow hard

Another story we found, with absolutely no applicability to IT, was one saying that the Pentagon is to test a British inventor's electronic bugle which can be played by non-musicians at military funerals. There are apparently fewer than 500 buglers in the US military and 100,000 military funerals each year. CDs at stereos have had to be used of late, as anyone who has worn American military uniform is entitled to a two-man honour guard, the folding and presenting of a US flag and the playing of Taps, the American version of the Last Post.

The electronic bugle is a battery-powered, push-button job (there's a RealAudio clip at the US Department of Defense that plays a digital version of Taps recorded at Arlington National Cemetery). Its 45-watt digital amplifier is said to produce the same as a real bugle in volume, while its user does the bugling equivalent of a lip-synch.

Another answer: don't get involved in so many wars. Just a thought.

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