Stories by Compiled by Darren Greenwood

E-tales: Standard bearer

Rather than randomly stringing words together, throwing them on a page and hoping others understand what we’re talking about, we at least try to stick to grammatical standards. The IT industry, it has to be said, seems intent on ignoring these standards, if a display at the Microsoft “partner summit” in Melbourne was anything to go by.

E-tales: IM revolting

Despite reports to the contrary, not everyone in the world is switching on to instant messaging. A certain senior Computerworld journalist, for example, refuses to get involved with it, protesting that s/he is already tyrannised by email. Apparently Microsoft marketer Jay Templeton feels likewise, despite Messenger making the company second only to AOL in encouraging IM’s spread. Templeton revealed his aversion to IM during the launch of the tablet PC. Fellow Microserf Nathan Mercer was attempting to demonstrate Messenger’s compatibility with Ink, the software that enables a tablet to behave like a piece of paper. “Are you online?” Nathan asked Jay, as he tried messaging from one side of the stage to the other. “No,” came the reply, “it keeps popping up.” Precisely.

E-tales: Mail fraud

We’ve been hearing a lot lately of declining opportunities for contractors. But with the kind of cunning programmers employ to make their apps unusable by ordinary mortals, they’ll never be without a job. Why so cynical? Because we spent the best part of 30 minutes trying to figure out how to change the browser that our email client uses when opening a web link embedded in a message. After admitting defeat and seeking the help of tech support, the answer came back: "Bottom right of your [mail] client click on ‘Office’ then ‘Edit Current’. A form should appear with an ‘Internet Browser’ tab in the middle. Navigate the tab and take your pick." Obvious, right? What sort of a mug would have imagined you’d look under User Preferences for such a setting? A Computerworld T-shirt to the first person to identify the mail client (answers to Mark Broatch with “Doh” in the subject field).

E-tales: Man trouble

Apparently HP NZ boss Russell Hewitt was keen to be on the board of technology of the newly formed group Women in Technology. His offer had to be declined. Despite fantastic credentials and experience in the IT industry, Russell lacked one vital requisite for inclusion.

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 (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.

E-tales: Round here

There was a time when America’s Cup graphics company Virtual Spectator had the IT press, er, virtually eating out of its hand. So it might have expected a good turnout for a press conference scheduled for the Sunday before racing began in the second New Zealand regatta. Yeah, right. In the end, rather than risk the embarrassment of having no one turn up, the press event was rescheduled for the Monday. At which it was revealed that a new release of the software would reach a “wider global audience”. Just how wide is the globe these days?

E-tales: A game of one half

Not only did the Xbox launch (sorry, no partners, passes essential for access to the “VIP” area) invite come in a form factor that almost nobody can open — it seems to need a particularly (peculiarly?) configured version of the Windows media player — but it may be all too late, if The Wall St Journal is on the money.

E-tales: Hitting the spot

This note we got from Microsoft's games PR company kills two birds with one missive. Gets journos on side and saves on the news clipping fees.

E-tales: Depleted energy

"Luckily Enron wasn't our customer -- maybe that's why they did what they did." Meta Group energy IT analyst Zarko Sumic, who says the failed energy giant has contributed to a fall in demand for energy trading and risk management functionality. The Seattle-based Sumic felt right at home in Auckland's wet weather last week, though he was off to sample Queenstown for a day and had business in sunny Sydney to look forward to.

E-tales: Power of the press

The power of the press amazes even us. The same day as the country’s biggest daily paper reported that TelstraClear was in the midst of a loan crisis, the telco fired off a press release saying the crisis was over. According to the New Zealand Herald, TelstraClear needed to find $600 million in a hurry and there was no sign Aussie parent Telstra would stump up with the money. Clearly, when Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski picked up his copy of the Herald in Sydney that morning he was galvanised into cheque-signing action: by mid-afternoon the crisis was over, with TelstraClear’s chief Rosemary Howard saying she had secured a five-year $600 million loan facility with Telstra. Could it have been there was no crisis to start with?

E-tales: Unmasking the Met Office

Overheard on the Wellington cable car one morning -- an IT staffer for the Met Office holding forth on his cellphone, merrily revealing log-on passwords and IP addresses to all and sundry including various uni students, any one of whom could have been a would-be hacker. Luckily, a screaming child provided a modicum of security by turning up the decibels each time crucial information was mentioned.