E-tales: Wait for it

Not infrequently the nuttiness of the PR world demands the attention of this column and this week another example has surfaced.

Not infrequently the nuttiness of the PR world demands the attention of this column and this week another example has surfaced.

Embargoes are a phenomenon that journalists hate (only a little less than non-disclosure agreements) because information is put in our hands with a demand by the giver that it not be published before a specified time. This would be fine if we’d sought the information in the first place, but more often than not we haven’t. We hate it not only because our instinct is to spill the beans as quickly as we can, but also because an embargoed release is clearly part of someone’s grand marketing plan — and we try to resist participating in those.

The “strictly” (such stern language also gets up our noses) embargoed press release that triggered this rant must not go to print before the impossible date of April 22. So to make sure we don’t forget about it between now and then, we’ve noted a few points: it’s from Auckland outfit Keylogix, the “global innovator in productivity solutions for Microsoft Office”; it concerns the impending release (on April 22, perhaps?) of ActiveDocs 2002 Enterprise (V3.0); it will cost $US239.

“Enterprises that are serious about reducing costs and improving productivity are turning to ActiveDocs,” says Dot Johnstone, Keylogix’s technology boss, in the release.

Phew, we hope we didn’t give too much away.

Loop hole

Washington-based EDS law-enforcement expert Bill Bogart suggested last week that countries collaborate on closing down “bad” websites — violent or sexual material or sharp business practice. But US law’s precise definition of what constitutes, for example, child pornography is, well ... perversely giving support to web pornographers around the world.

The bugbear is a clause in the US legal code: Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 110, Section 2256 (see here, for example). This defines child pornography as limited to representations of subjects under 18 engaging or appearing to engage in “sexually explicit conduct”.

Pictures of unclothed children posing do not appear to breach the US statute. A number of websites, mostly appearing to be run from the nations of the old USSR, refer to the statute as justifying their material, which consists of children as young as seven posing nude or partly so. Many of these sites appear, from traceroutes, to be hosted in the US, with the town of Saginaw, Michigan figuring surprisingly often.

Unsolved

Virtual company esolutions could one day be left with just virtual staff and still feel it has something to celebrate.

Announcing 13 redundancies, a “realignment” that also created five new positions, general manager Sue McCarty says her company is “experiencing success in the market with a significantly higher turnover than our competitors”. With at least eight staff going and 41 full-timers left behind, we did wonder if she’s referring to staff turnover.

Keep taking the tablets

Perhaps a few pills might make everyone feel better. Auckland IT manager Terry Wall thinks he has the ones. Wall, of label specialist Circletech Systems, has been using himself as a guinea pig for tablets he’s developed over the past 20 years.

The former farm management consultant bases his theories on mineral supplements having better results on animals than vitamin supplements. He says his In-Sync organic tablets, taken from plant matter, contain many minerals and antioxidants not found in traditional tablets and enable him to look and feel younger than his 58 years. (We asked for a recent photo but it hasn’t been forthcoming, so we can’t verify that claim.)

The levels of some ingredients are boosted to offset “brain fade”, he says, something that we could all use. Wall has enlisted a Christchurch firm to make the tablets to his recipe.

Eezier spelin

An online campaign has been launched to make words easier to spell. Former TV producer Richard Wade says his site will boost communication and literacy. The site says spellings for yacht, lamb and cough are a “nonsense” and urges people to vote on new spellings for the first entries in an alternative dictionary. The first vote closes on June 30, with monthly polls after that.

Grave concerns

Archive of awfulness Rotten.Com reports a milder story from Britain’s Guardian newspaper about a computer gaming company wanting to advertise on gravestones.

US-based Acclaim Entertainment wants to pay relatives of the recently bereaved in return for placing small billboards on headstones, saying the offer might “particularly interest poorer families”.

Acclaim brands its latest game, Shadowman 2, a “journey to the Deathside” and “thought it was appropriate to raise advertising to a new level”. But the UK advertising industry warns such plans would break regulations and desecrate headstones. The Church of England says there is no way it will let churchyards be used this way. “There was enough fuss with plastic flowers in churchyards,” a spokesman added.

Deep impact

With news that a hunk of rock nearly hit us last week from out of our solar blind spot, you might want to know when to start stocking the bomb shelter. NASA is posting details of such threats on a “risks page”. The Sentry system constantly updates the orbits of known asteroids as new information comes in. One object, the third-of-a-kilometre-wide 2002 EY2, for instance, could potentially hit the earth at any of 22 times between 2010 and 2099. Or not.

Online love for real

Courtships beginning in cyberspace often thrive when both parties meet for real because they know each other so well, says UK psychologist Jeffrey Gavin. The Bath University lecturer told the British Psychological Society this month: “Chat rooms don’t lead to shallow and impersonal relationships. They lead to really close relationships because people express themselves more freely and are more open and honest on the internet.”

Gavin surveyed 42 regular chatroom users aged between 19 and 26. Of the volunteers, 29 reported close friendships or romantic relationships with people they had met online, with 21 progressing to face-to-face meetings and one couple became engaged. Online, he adds, men are more emotionally open and women more overtly sexual. Both parties also often tell little white lies, such as exaggerating their bust size or claiming to be blue-eyed blondes.

Trouble in store

A sexy text message job advert for supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has generated hundreds of complaints. The advert sent to people in Stockport said: “I wnt u, I need u, I can’t get enuff of u.”

Despite it continuing “Sainsbury’s is recruiting at a new store” and adding a job centre phone number for the 400 positions, some people thought their partners were having an affair, reported the Daily Mail. Sainsbury’s apologised to Stockport Job Centre, who received the complaints, and withdrew the ads. The retailer says it undertook the “lighthearted, fun approach” to attract young people and students for the store.

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