E-tales: Not a Whittaker's bar in sight

'One of the great things about this company is its honesty. I mean I'm in marketing and even I don't have to lie.' A genuine quote from a software demonstrator (we make all the other ones up).

"One of the great things about this company is its honesty. I mean I'm in marketing and even I don't have to lie."

A genuine quote from a software demonstrator (we make all the other ones up).

Post restante

Last Monday was a great day for Wellington (or so they say in certain quarters). Its “new” daily, the Dominion Post, hit the streets and the web. Sad to report, while there was a marginal change in the look of the printed product, the online side showed no sign of the melding of two sets of genes. Monday morning brought us the same old Stuff, with only a few Dominion Post catchlines (and a short self-adulatory story) to signal any evolution at all. To be fair, you could say the Stuff website has always effectively been the Dominion Post (with contributions from the regional nags in the INL stable). But surely in these days, when a periodic remake of the web livery is considered a vital ingredient of marketing, someone should have made an effort to signal the new era.

The Dompost, rhymes with “compost”. TV commentators on the previous night’s election debate were already calling it that.

It’s one of those contractions like “Wince” for Windows Consumer Edition, Microsoft’s first-generation handheld OS, where anyone who does even the occasional crossword puzzle has to wonder why apparently none of the bright sparks on the branding team saw it.

Or maybe they deliberately choose these lampoonable names on the "all publicity is good publicity" principle.

To add to the potential for ridicule (or "mindshare stickiness"), the paper has chosen “dompost.co.nz” as its domain name for emails (the web URL is naturally aliased to www.stuff.co.nz).

As recorded in last week’s E-tales, the "new" daily was beaten to “dominionpost.co.nz” by Waikanae’s Sovereignty Postal Company, which registered the name on June 24.

Upstanding media

Surely not. Visiting internet pioneer Paul Vixie was due to be interviewed by TVNZ morning business show and Radio NZ. He got up at 5am for a 5.30am recording, and TV didn't show up to collect him. Nor did Radio NZ (though they did speak to him later). Shameful.

Cracking up

If you've been sitting at your computer for a dozen hours at a trot and it's all getting much, we suggest you visit www.mamselle.ca/error.html.

Next slide, please

It's been around for a little while but it's a term that perfectly describes an irritating phenomenon we all encounter sooner or later: slideware. It's the PowerPoint equivalent to vapourware. Use it in a sentence, you ask. "On June 17, the IEEE unanimously approved the final 10-gigabit ethernet specification, paving the way for eager vendors to build products they could once only dream about in their slideware." (Forrester Research)

Speaking good

Want to help Dutch people speak clearer English? A Utrecht University researcher, Rias van den Dohl, is conducting a study into how English speakers from various parts of the world hear English sentences delivered by a Dutch speaker. Part of this is a website link, where you can click to hear a series of sentences read with various mispronunciations or, as one Computerworld staffer is fond of saying, “misplaced emPHAsis”.

The user marks each sentence as correct or containing mistakes, grades them as serious to trivial and can click on a transcription of the sentence to show where the mistake is. One appealing feature of the site is the way van den Doel ensures his users’ PC sound equipment is up to the task. A preliminary page has the caption “click on the following link to see if you can use your computer for this experiment”. Users with suitable PCs hear, with a theatrically heavy Dutch accent and overtones of Monty Python, “Ah! I see you have the machine that goes ‘ping’!”

Kidding a kidder

We can’t make up our minds whether a software company’s reply to an admittedly testy email from one of our staffers was a touch of return irritation and one-upmanship; a non-English speaker’s confusion over a rhetorical (or is it 'metaphorical'?) question; or maybe the respondent was just not thinking straight.

Our man mailed inquiring about the permanent version of a software product he had just purchased online. “You have said you are shipping the product to me on CD. However, you also promised ‘within the day’ to mail me a serial number to ‘unlock’ my expired free-trial version.

“It has now been two days since my purchase: where is the serial number?”

The reply, within a few hours, said. “The number is on the rear side of the box enclosing the CD”.

Before steam began to issue from our man’s ears, he fortunately scrolled down and found the vendor had let him off the hook.

“However, while you wait for this, here is another serial number you can use”.

Declining the naked horsemail

The naked horse got mail

The naked horse gets mail

The naked horse has got mail

The naked horse will be getting mail

The naked horse is getting mail

The naked horse does get mail

The naked horse had got mail

The naked horse would of got mail again if we hadn't of stopped it

A regular reader's take on "The naked horse came into the room" from Bill Manhire's Collected Poems (Victoria University Press, 2001). We thought we'd just introduce a bit of culcha to etales.

Naked justice

Singapore's law courts have started accepting legal evidence by videoconferencing for a wide range of civil and family court matters, according to the companies which developed the system for the city-state's judiciary, International Video Conferencing Centre (IVCC) and Bizibody Technology.

Lawyers can now use the Justice Online system, which uses 512kbit/s symmetric DSL broadband connections for the videoconferencing link, to make depositions from their own offices rather than turning up at the court in person, saving time and money for both them and the court system.

Law firms can set up a Justice Online station -- with the help of a government grant -- using a standard PC fitted with a PictureTel PT 550 video conferencing camera and attached to a broadband link. Lawyers can make video-depositions for civil law taxation and probate hearings, as well as family law pre-trial hearings, adoption hearings and consent ancillary matters. The scheme will extend to criminal matters soon, including pre-trial conferences, prisoner interviews, charging of accused persons and settlement conferences. Justice Online stations are planned to be set up in prisons to enable officers from the Attorney-General's chambers to interview prison inmates without them needing to be physically taken to the court building, the companies say.

Bad work habits

One in four UK companies has sacked employees for internet misuse, and porn sites were the most common reason, a survey for Personnel Today magazine has found.

The research showed 69% of those fired for abusing their internet connections were surfing for pornography. The next most common causes were web chatrooms and personal emails.

The research suggests that, if you feel the need to access porn on the company computer, you are best off doing it when none of your colleagues can see: 40% of all misuse complaints originated from co-workers.

Most human resources managers felt that 20 minutes a day of personal surfing time was acceptable, but they felt actual use was closer to 30 minutes a day, the survey found. Researchers also noted that employees with their own offices were most likely to abuse their internet connection.

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