E-tales: Ditched

Cultural cringe? Trying to get Christchurch university lecturer Denis Dutton on his way to class to discuss the potential demise of his Arts & Letters Daily website, we were asked if we were from Australia. No, we said, Auckland. 'No time, call back!' he yelled.

Cultural cringe? Trying to get Christchurch university lecturer Denis Dutton on his way to class to discuss the potential demise of his Arts & Letters Daily website (see Dutton: Don't farewell Arts & Letters Daily yet), we were asked if we were from Australia. No, we said, Auckland. "No time, call back!" he yelled.

A broad focus

It must be confusing, sometimes, working at the world’s biggest software company. (We’d say schizophrenic, but have been told off so many times by readers for misusing the term that we’re learning to steer clear of it.) So to Microsoft’s confusion, then. We’ve been hearing for years how it wants to be taken seriously in the enterprise. So how does the Xbox fit into the picture? Integrally, apparently. When we were asking New Zealand boss Ross Peat about the likelihood of slippage in the release date for the next version of Windows, he said his mind was on more immediate product releases. Namely, tablet PCs, .Net Server … and the Xbox, that indispensable tool for measuring CIO reaction times.

Cultured answer

If you were wondering about your software vendor's commitment, Oracle's Larry Ellison goes a long way. Asked at one of his many press conferences if Fonterra head Craig Norgate had been out in his boat, in response he tacked away better than Dean Barker, along the lines of "Put it this way, I eat his yoghurt every morning."

Look and listen

What do you do when you're confronted with a billionaire with his back to you and you want to ask a question on behalf of Oracle users? Our reporter took to a quick tug on the jacket. Even quicker, a large hand took hold of the tugger's. For a second, it was like a tableau, says our reporter, where time stood still. "No" the voice behind the large hand said. Whether said bodyguard was Larry's own or from the diplomatic protection squad we didn't get a chance to find out. One is not permitted to touch the merchandise, apparently, so don't try it. Don't try it again, anyway, because it worked.

In black and white

A reader emails: "Have you received a notice to encourage you to get your entries into the WestpacTrust Hi Tech Awards? How significant is it that the conversation is between two penguins!!!!" We're not sure, but if your entry isn't already in at www.hitech.org.nz, you'll have to wait till next year.

Fresh off the boat

Just what is Southfresh founder Toby Warren up to now that he has sold his online perishable goods emarketplace to Foodstuffs? Last week Warren flew out to Queensland to spend eight days tuna fishing 400km out at sea with a former colleague who runs a fleet of longline tuna boats. The former chief fishmonger says some Japanese tuna can fetch $50,000. He hopes to use his digital experience to see if it is possible to give buyers more information, as the when and where a fish is caught can greatly improve its value. After trawling at sea Warren plans to check out the consultancy market and investigate how he can share his experiences of his e-marketplace with businesspeople.

A dog's show

Telecom's rather puzzling and slightly dubious "TM" (Telecom Mobile) series of advertisements continues.

After the almost-nude embracing couple (see E-tales October 7) we have an ad featuring a small hairy dog apparently attempting intimate congress with a human leg of indeterminate gender. The flared trouser-leg and the shoe style would seem to indicate it's a woman, but we can't be sure. The caption is headed \Thrill Me [sic] and subtitled "get your fun and games out". We think the embracing couple are male and female.

The third in the set, Theme Music, showing a parent yelling at an androgynous, oblivious child wearing headphones, is less potentially controversial.

Meanwhile, we notice Telecom is using the very desirable domain name tm.co.nz. Last week, www.tm.co.nz was simply aliasing to the company's regular home web page, but we guess there's a specific tie-in to the Telecom Mobile campaign coming. Telecom had not returned calls on the subject by press time. The official holder of the domain is esolutions, the progressively less visible joint venture of Telecom and Microsoft. Aha, another T-M! Maybe the Gates empire is linked in somewhere.

But we figure the (ambi)sexual overtones may simply have the intent of deliberately attracting shock and controversy. It's known in internet newsgroup parlance as a "troll".


An alert, German-speaking reader noticed that the online service that helped Germans decide how to vote featured in this space last week -- the Vote-O-Matic -- was slapped with a sign that said ... "Out of Order".

Noise works

Here's one we didn't know we were waiting for -- a concert performed using audience's mobile phones. Presented most recently at the Arteplage Mobile de Jura as a production of the Swiss National Exposition and Swisscom Mobile a CD of the effort will be available later this year.

Lick here

Fancy advertising your DNA on your T-shirt? A US company is offering to work out your DNA code from a hair or saliva sample and to print the code, classic design or mandala on a Beefy-T for about $100. Or, to illustrate you are what you eat, you can have it on your lunchbox. No? Ok.

Microsoft v Linux: the game

If you've ever wondered who would win out between Tux the Linux penguin or Clippy the Microsoft digital aide memoire, now's your chance. The free game runs on top of any Xbox that's been converted to run GNU/Linux.

CV: credence voluntary

It's not just Maori TV that has problems with bosses like Canadian John Davy "exaggerating" on their CV. US software company Veritas has just lost its chief financial officer, Ken Lochar, for falsely claiming to have an MBA from Stanford University. In the old days they might have promoted him.

Cunning stunt

Gaming company Acclaim Entertainment has earned a rebuke from the British government for a marketing scheme concerning the launch of its new PlayStation 2 driving game, "Burnout 2: Point of Impact". The company promised to refund the fines of any motorist caught speeding by a traffic camera on the game's launch date, October 11, saying it takes "the side of people who enjoy driving fast". The UK Department of Transport was not pleased, and offered its in-house programmers to write in a patrol car or two. Only kidding.

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