Appropriate answers

We couldn't help but note the irony when the IT manager of a meat company, asked if he thought a certain vendor would lay off any staff in the wake of a merger, used the expression 'There's not a lot of surplus fat to trim'.
  • Mark Broatch (Unknown Publication)
  • 09 November, 2003 22:00

We couldn't help but note the irony when the IT manager of a meat company, asked if he thought a certain vendor would lay off any staff in the wake of a merger, used the expression "There's not a lot of surplus fat to trim". Would the CIO of a forestry company have said "There aren't many branches to prune", or the IT manager at an oil company remark "There's not a lot of gas to be burned off"? Probably not, and anyway, what's wrong with a little fat? It's often the best bit.

Domes and dodos

Hotels are learning about modern business requirements, at least in Australia. On a brief stay in Sydney, one of our staffers was at first pleased to see a dome-shaped device on the hotel room desk with dial-up and ethernet-style sockets (and a third socket that was, strangely, sealed) to connect a guest laptop to the internet. Then he read the guide booklet and discovered hotel-provided internet was charged at 76 Australian cents per minute.

So he popped into a tourist information centre in the city, bought half an hour of internet access for 50c and joined cheap and (relentlessly) cheerful commercial provider Dodo (, and turn your speaker volume down; they sing their advertising jingle at you). Back to the hotel, unplug the ordinary phone, plug in the laptop and dial Dodo -- flat-rate 99c per call charged by the hotel, plus the $9.90 monthly ISP subscription. Anyone going to Oz and want three weeks of Dodo? The hotel's lobby was also advertised as a Wi-Fi zone, but there was no sign of a tariff. We didn't ask.

Grounded flight

The aforesaid jingle runs: "Dodo, Dodo, internet that flies ..." They must know that the dodo was a flightless bird, and is extinct to boot. It's what you call oxymoronic. Or possibly just ... never mind. Also, the cartoon dodo logo, like local online auction-house Trade Me's kiwi, is bright blue. A focus group somewhere obviously found this was the most impactful colour for ground-dwelling birds. Nature got it wrong. Or maybe nature never thought of birds as sales devices.

One-way ticket

Nothing to do with computing, but we must record the pole-mounted sign at the end of the security-check channel at Sydney airport. It says "No entry, Exit only" -- on both sides.

Hi hopes

Odd metaphor of the week came from HiGrowth project head Catherine Colarco, encouraging ICT companies to aspire to higher things: "If you aim at the moon and miss, you may reach the stars. But if you only aim at your back garden, you'll finish up on the porch."

Try, try, try again

Among the instantly available information for reporters through the Unisys-implemented system at the Rugby World Cup is the history of international games and players’ performances back to 1871 -- insofar as they are recorded or recalled. A number of the games of that early period are set down as 0-0 draws despite tries having been scored. In the early days a try was just that; only a goal was rated a "success" and earned points. Maybe the All Blacks could do with a dose of that regime to judge from their performance against Wales earlier this month. They missed three conversions.

Och, what's in a name

Computerworld received a media release quoting the "ebullient Scottish chief executive" of a software company. Nothing remarkable about that, except that the release mentioned, a few lines earlier, that the chief executive's surname was Zambonini. You might think well, if that's a Scottish name, Computerworld is a Rupert Murdoch publication, but Italians in fact have a long history in Scotland. Check out, or the ancestry of Sharleen Spiteri in the Scottish band Texas,

Birthday wishes

We don't know why, but this tickled our fancies:

Dear Ihug customer,

According to our records today is your birthday, and therefore a very

special day.

From all of your friends at IHUG we'd like to wish you a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!



Your Ihug team

Cheap at a fraction of the price

Days after Microsoft gave away copies of Office 2003, people were offering them for sale, then ending up on newsgroups. One bunch of friends managed to get six copies between them. They noted that the standard cost was about $900, and that the software was still in its box, pristine. What could it be worth, they wondered?

Aussies on the ball

Engineers at the University of Queensland are to trial a cricket ball fitted with electronics which can send wireless data. It's all about being a nation keen to retain its mantle as the world's premier cricket force. According to The Australian, the smart ball will yield information about exactly when bowlers release it, improving on other techniques such as video analysis and sensors on balls, which can inhibit a bowler's action. Dr Stephen Wilson, of the university's School of Human Movement Studies, told the paper that when watching video of a bowler in action, cricketers "cannot easily pinpoint the moment the ball is released, because a lot of spin bowlers deliberately try to hide what they're doing". When they know precisely when the ball was released, bowlers can work on their action, he says. Unsurprisingly, the School of Human Movement Studies will be part of Cricket Australia's planned Cricket Centre of Excellence.

Lighting the way to SAP

Lighting companies seem to be first movers when it comes to implementing SAP's small and medium-sized business applications. New Zealand chain Lighting Direct was one of the first to go live in this country with MySAP All-In-One. Last year in SAP's homeland, Germany, lamp manufacturer Osram was a pilot site for SAP's other SME product, Business One. More than a year after it was first released in Europe and five months after it was released in the US, New Zealand customers now have the chance to sample Business One. Any other lighting companies interested?

Edited by Mark Broatch.