I’m okay, you’re okay

Error messages, it seems, come in two flavours: cryptic and confusing. However, we have to admire the complacent, infuriating genius in this message which InfoWorld CTO Chad Dickerson found while trying to mount a new disk on a Solaris server...

Error messages, it seems, come in two flavours: cryptic and confusing. However, we have to admire the complacent, infuriating genius in this message which InfoWorld CTO Chad Dickerson found while trying to mount a new disk on a Solaris server.

mount: the state of /dev/dsk/c0t0d0s4 is not okay

The problem? A simple permissions error.

Seriously stable software

If you’re tired of bloated software crashing your expensive new computer, good news is at hand. NaDa is cross-platform, lightweight and -- the developers claim -- completely bug-free. Admittedly, it doesn’t do much, but that’s touted as a virtue too. NaDa is the Pet Rock of software — it does nothing. But hey, what do you expect for free? “NaDa does nothing for everybody,” boasts the website. While visiting, be sure to check out ze cube, a Mac Classic II stuffed into a 10” plexiglass cube. Steve Jobs, eat your heart out.

Broadband, broaderband, broadestband

Should a Japanese telco offer you a DSL connection, E-tales’ advice is to take it — quickly. Subscribers located close to the exchange can get a DSL service rated at 26Mbit/s — enough to download 60MB of data in less than 20 seconds (See here). Now that’s broadband.

Presumably, the Japanese aren’t restricted by feeble ADSL traffic caps like us. The JetStream Home 500 plan, for example, offers only 500MB of monthly traffic, which would last less than three minutes at 26Mbit/s. If 26Mbit/s isn’t enough, perhaps a 100Mbit/s fibre connection would be a better choice? One report says fibre is being advertised for only Y500 per month … about $7.50.

Server downtime

You'd have to be a pretty serious techie to have a few drinks after the passing of a line of servers, but a few hardcore past and present HP e3000 users did just that last Friday. The venerable e3000 is no longer on sale, having been dropped from production from October 31. The occasion sparked a worldwide wake for the product, which first went on sale in 1972. Users and administrators gathered in bars across the US, Europe and even at the El Rancho Hotel in North Ryde, Sydney, where HP Australia is based, to mourn the passing of the long-lived line. The e3000 ran on HP's proprietary MPE/IX operating system and when it first announced the axing, in 2001, HP cited "the rapid evolution of technology away from proprietary platforms" and "customer and partner decisions to move to other HP platforms" as reasons for the decision. While it is no longer possible to buy an e3000, existing users will get support until the end of 2006.

Spinning records

At a recent vendor presentation pitching software targeted at smaller firms, an audience member made the point that many small business owners aren't terrific record keepers, so how would they be able to use a product with meticulous record keeping facilities and a full audit trail? Besides, he added, many small business owners do the odd cash transaction here and there, so do they necessarily want excellent records?

Hmmm, the presenter answered, noting that the products being pitched were configured "according to industry best practice". With many enterprise software vendors now thinking "small" after large customers have become scarce, that could well be a point to note.

Quality time

The IT research house Meta Group has made Mary Ann Maxwell managing director of its Asia-Pacific operations. Maxwell reports to Fred Amoroso, CEO of the company. She replaces Paul Ventura, who will be leaving Meta "to spend more time with his family". There's a phrase we wish could apply to more of us.

Oh the ingenuity

Here's one for impatient drivers. A US company has invented a $US300 gadget that can change red traffic lights to green with the press of a button. The MIRT, for mobile infrared transmitter, emits a beam with a 500m range to a receiver at an intersection, a scheme normally intended to let fire trucks pass quickly. The MIRT, which plugs into the cigarette lighter, emits an infrared beam rather than a radio signal, so apparently doesn't run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission. Have a look here.

Falling star

You may not have caught the news, but if you use a GPS tracking system in your business or while out fishing you may want to quietly mourn the recent passing of one American nonagenarian. Dr Ivan Getting, who was a major force behind the development of the network of satellites that now grid global locations, died on October 11 at his home in California aged 91. Getting figured out GPS in the 1960s while president of Aerospace Corporation, a military R&D outfit. The system, which is now a constellation of 24 satellites, was originally known as Navstar GPS and controlled military aircraft and missiles during the cold war. In the late 1980s the current GPS satellites went into orbit. Getting went to MIT before gaining a doctorate from Oxford. When he came back to MIT in the 1940s he worked on anti-aircraft radar systems that helped defend the UK from German "flying bombs" during WWII. The Europeans are currently planning an alternative satellite tracking system, and have recently been joined by the Chinese.

Coffee froth

Forrester Research has gone a bit ape over Starbucks' fancy new card, the Duetto Visa: "Thanks A Latte! ... [it's] like a triple shot of espresso: a powerful new combo of credit card functionality, stored value card convenience, and some dandy perks for Starbucks loyalists -- who we expect will make room for the card in their wallets."

Apart from the observation that you'll need a triple espresso to get any kick from the coffee chain's overmilked creations, Forrester is keen on the card -- which will inevitably head downunder -- because it can capitalise on the (impressive) 16 million Starbucks cards in circulation. It combines convenience and reward benefits, and will reset the way retailers and other suppliers think about their existing loyalty programs, says Forrester.

"Grocers will figure out ways to make their programs more relevant by truly rewarding their high-value shoppers; high-frequency small-ticket retailers ... will offer frequent customer programmes tied to payment methods like RFID and stored value cards; and airlines will be forced to offer new kinds of merchandise and reward partners to retain existing cardholders who will demand more frequent thank-yous and rewards."

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