E-tales: Backward glances

A colleague speaking with an Auckland firm was amused to hear one of their techies describing its IT system as 'a bit agricultural'. When asked what that meant, he replied, 'Oh, you know, it's a bit backward, a bit old'.

A colleague speaking with an Auckland firm was amused to hear one of their techies describing its IT system as "a bit agricultural". When asked what that meant, he replied, "Oh, you know, it's a bit backward, a bit old".

Fonterra would doubtless be shocked, and no doubt remind us that farming is all high-tech these days and remains our number one export earner. One trusts the dairy giant has been tilling and tending its server farms a bit more assiduously.

Ding dong Dell

A reader was bemused he rang Dell's 0800 number for service. The voice message said that they were closed and he should call back during business hours. "It was four minutes past ten in the morning. Maybe they keep musicians' hours?" he asks.

Dah dah dah dah data

Technology is the new sex, if United Networks' website marketing of its fibre-optic service to businesses in the Auckland and Wellington CBDs is any indication: "Remember when all the world needed was love? Times have changed. Now it needs bandwidth too. Lots and lots of it."

Good example

We wish everyone was so apologetic about their spam. Monks at the St Trinity and St Nicholas monastery in Shmakovka, Russia, had their website shut down after allegedly spamming thousands of people with messages asking for donations. Website host Farpost temporarily closed the website following customer complaints.

Father Superior Feofan Ziborov was prostrate with embarrassment: "Dear brothers and sisters! 'Info Market' company has offered our monastery to inform about us to a plenty of people which electronic addresses are taken from official sources. We have taken advantage of this service, not assuming, that it appears 'spam', and that dispatch of messages about the monastery can cause negative reaction some people. We bring the apologies to everyone to whom our letter has delivered inconveniences."

Must try harder

Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry says bosses of computer services firms are the second most likely to be banned from running companies. Between March and September 2001, 75 directors of technology companies were disqualified, compared with 103 from the construction and demolition sector over the same period. And why IT? The IT industry attracts the most crooks, says UK venture capitalist Jon Moulton, because it is still a growth area. “They can get away with it because it’s still a highly rated area and ... there are opportunities to make money and get out before the facts surface,” he says.

In kind kindness

Should Fonterra become a rural telco/ISP, here’s one payment method they might want to consider. Indian mobile phone company Escotel is letting people on its cellular rural phone service pay for calls with milk, fruit and vegetables. Phone operators sell the produce and pay the phone company at the end of the month. They acknowledge it can be “difficult” for people phoning relations working in the Arabian Gulf to pay in cash. A kilo of cauliflowers will pay for a one-minute call from Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi, reports The Business Standard.

When the chips are down

US chipmaker Xilinx has developed a processor that lets cellphone owners disable their phone when it is stolen. The victim gives a code to a phone operator that makes their phone unusable to the thief. Should the phone be recovered, another code can reactivate the handset. Britain, reports BBC Online, suffers 700,000 cellphone thefts a year, causing such public frustration that one thief recently received a four-year jail term.

Keeping tabs

If you're worried about losing a pet, or a child, or even a forgetful senior citizen, Applied Digital Solutions claims an answer using global positioning satellite technology. While some companies sell embedded chips, users of the US service, called Digital Angel, wear a wristwatch and carry a device about as big as a cassette tape. The technology, which can monitor and transmit body functions such as temperature and pulse, has for years been used in western countries to keep tabs on criminals or hospital patients with a tendency to wander, or to identify pets. But now the Florida company is marketing the service to bosses and other potential victims in three Latin American countries, where the risk of kidnap is high. All very well until the kidnapper spots that it's not Kylie Minogue on that tape.

In and out

New Jersey company Business Layers has launched software that lets organisations instantly fire staff electronically. Using the eProvision Day One program, a single mouse click can not only "e-provision" a new employee with a security pass, email and phone account and salary, but freeze them all just as quickly. UK website Vnu.net says the software can even send an automated alert to support staff to collect the unlucky person’s laptop.

Hamster power

Tokyo’s Idea Olympics came up with some stunners in its 26th annual event last month. Dream Car winner was a car powered by hamsters running on a treadmill. Its motor amplified the electric power generated by the running rodents. Other exhibits in the Toyota-sponsored event include an egg-shaped people carrying robot and a stair-climbing wheelchair.

Model birth

British model Jordan has come under fire for her plans to give birth live on the internet. The well-built blonde wants it to be the first live webcast of a birth by a British woman. Some coverage will be free and some sold on a pay-per-view basis, reports the Daily Record. But Glasgow psychiatric consultant Dr Prem Misra says Jordan is just craving for public attention with the stunt. Jordan is due to give birth on May 16.

Stalks or stalkers?

And finally, for St Valentines Day, comes this story for romantic single guys everywhere. US investigators Coincidence Design promise to investigate the "perfect woman", the one you keep seeing but somehow never catch up with. They will discreetly probe her background, discover her likes and dislikes, then arrange for you both to be sitting on the same flight together or even trapped in the same elevator. Knowing what makes her tick, you can get to know each other.

“We don’t script love stories for movies," says Coincidence Design. "All we provide is the initial spark to make it all happen." Charges start at $US25,000. It doesn't do work for women, gay men, criminals, drug addicts, journalists, men who are "lazy in terms of making themselves attractive to the opposite sex" and those outside continental US. Damn.

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Tags E-tales

More about Applied Digital SolutionsBBC Worldwide AustralasiaDellDepartment of Trade and IndustryTechnologyToyota Motor Corp AustXilinx

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