E-tales: Oy vey, schlemiel

The Public Relations Institute (PRINZ) invited senior IT media journalists to Auckland's Stamford Plaza hotel last week to see how they can best spread their marketing messages. But before the fireworks display got underway, two Australians did the soft sell for their PR "manual".

The Public Relations Institute (PRINZ) invited senior IT media journalists to Auckland’s Stamford Plaza hotel last week to see how they can best spread their marketing messages.

But before the fireworks display got underway, two Australians did the soft sell for their PR “manual”. The second speaker, whose name we have forgotten, obviously still has chapters to add to the book. We can perhaps forgive the lack of humour in the tale about Moses and the appalling Jewish (Sven?) accents, but to keep everyone bored for so many long minutes must surely break every rule they’ve written.

Weighty wireless

For those people who say broadband services in New Zealand are a bit lightweight, they would have a smidgen of proof looking at Econet Wireless’s website. The site reports that a consortium of technical and financial investors from New Zealand, South Africa and the UK are to spend more than $US500 million over the next three years to build a second-and-a-half generation mobile phone network across the country which will later evolve into a third-generation network. All good and proper, but the story is headed “Econet-led consortium to build 2.5kg network in New Zealand”.

Democratic phone fascism

Let’s hope Telecom NZ boss Teresa Gattung never suffers the same embarrassment as her Swedish counterpart Anders Igel. The mobile phone company he heads, Telia, cut off his cellphone claiming he owed them $600.

“Mr Igel’s phone has been cut. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you don’t pay your bill on time, your phone is cut off,” a company spokesman told the Aftonbladet newspaper (for Swedish speakers, Aftonbladet). However, the company later discovered Igel had in fact paid and blamed an accounting error.

Banks online

With our mayors about to earn as much as Paul Holmes or TV gameshow hosts, local councils may now seek to copy this idea from Colchester Borough Council. The Essex local body is planning to provide coverage of council meetings either on cable television or over the internet. The council believes such broadcasts will fuel interest in local politics if the public can watch their councillors in action. It claims several companies have approached the council to broadcast the meetings. We’re sure it will beat daytime infomercials and US soaps, especially as Auckland City’s meetings have got lively lately.

The war against scams

The “war against terrorism” has brought about a new version of the traditional Nigerian letter scam. An email doing the rounds purports to be from Dennis Longe, a “special forces Commando on covert search and destroy missions in the mountainous wastelands of Afghanistan — impenetrable domicile of the dreaded Taleban AlQeada [sic] terrorist network”.

The April 13 message claims his group of four agents successfully overran a hard drug-producing enclave and found $US36 million, which has since been deposited in a security luggage office in the capital, Kabul. Longe then seeks help from receivers of the letter to help him take the cash out of the country in return for a percentage.

Meanwhile, officials at the Internet Fraud Complaint Centre say Americans lost $800,000 to the email version of Nigerian letter fraud last year. Some 16 fell victim to the scam, with two losing $180,000 and $170,000 respectively, says the centre in West Virginia.

The Nigerian letter fraud is at least 20 years old and has received a new energy thanks to email. The online con requests the use of foreign bank accounts to deposit millions of dollars of untraceable money. Messages claim to be from dignitaries linked to the government and explain funds have been misappropriated by officials.

Uncharitable behaviour

More than a quarter of young people have been threatened via their mobile phone or computer. UK kids charity NCH has discovered 16% of 11 to 19-year-olds surveyed had received bullying or threatening text messages, with a further 7% harassed in internet chat rooms and 4% via email. The NCH survey forms part of a campaign to raise the issue of bullying and to push for young people to be taught methods on how to deal with it.

Nothing changes

There’s no escape from irritating behaviour using technology when you’re older. Mobile phone ring tones are said to be among the most irritating features of office life. Those with 1970s TV and film theme tunes are claimed the most irritating, says a UK survey by supply firm Officesmart. One in four hate mobile phone tunes, but the top office gripe for a third of staff is the sight of unclaimed documents on the fax machine and photocopier. Workmates who take long lunches, suck up to the boss, gossip loudly and fail to return borrowed staplers or sticky tape were also condemned.

Web of deceit

The internet is also getting the blame for wrecking many UK marriages. Marriage guidance service Relate says the web is cited by a tenth of those who visit them to discuss their marital problems. Chief executive Angela Gibson says people are spending so much time online they’re neglecting their partners. Temptation is also easier as people use the net to meet others. Ironically, this is not stopping Relate from offering online advice in the coming months following a rash of email to its website about internet-related problems.

The joy of text

Meanwhile, interactive TV station, the Dating Channel, says texting improves your sex life. Some three-quarters of Brits flirt using their mobiles and a quarter say it makes them confident and more witty. Half of text users talk dirty with their handheld and a third ask for dates using mobile messages. The station’s poll also discovered that people are so addicted to their mobile phones that some would rather give up chocolate and TV than lose the facility to text.

Armchair economists

It’s that time of the year when UK Chancellor Gordon Brown raises taxes for our British friends, and we can also have a go at running the UK economy thanks to BBC Online or the Guardian. Click on to BBC Budget Interactive and try setting your tax rates and spending policies, or to Guardian Budget Game. Last year several IDG journos took on the task, and despite being of various political persuasions, actually did quite well.

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Tags E-tales

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