Washington Redface

29 Jul 2014

wedding-married-couplesAs one of Microsoft's top 50 resellers in the outer east London area (take that, Chingford Charlie's Network Solutions!), I was, of course, in attendance at the software titan's recent partner shindig in Washington DC.
Thankfully, for a tittle-tattle merchant such as I, amid all the on-message corporate back-scratching there were several pleasing outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease. Not least the poor bigwig whose main-stage keynote speech featured repeated references to "Microsocks".
Then there was the Microsoft staffer who ran into an old reseller contact. The duo were ahead of me in the queue for the tea and coffee facilities, and after the usual ‘Hi-how-are-yas?', the Microsoftie ventured into the conversation proper with the following gambit.
"So, how's the wedding planning going...?"
"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, about that...," came the reply. "The wedding's off."
If it ever gets back on, something tells me the vendor friend might not be on the invite list.

Spread the love
As a business manager of many years' experience, I'm a big fan of the spreadsheet. In fact, so handy have I frequently found them in my working life, that over time I've deployed them in numerous areas of my personal life.
spreadsheet-excelI've got a spreadsheet to organise my monthly outgoings, to count my calorie intake - even one to manage the Orient awayday schedule. But even an Excelophile like me has never seen fit to keep track of my marital relations.
Which is more than can be said of the latest internet buffoon to achieve several seconds of notoriety, after he used a spreadsheet to record the excuses his better half trotted out for declining a bit of the other. The data reveals that the wannabe lothario suggested his partner join him in the boudoir 27 times in two months, with only three of the invitations being accepted.
Rather than discuss it with her as if she were a fellow human and his intellectual equal, the chap chose to email the spreadsheet to her, to illustrate the stagnation of the relationship. Now the document has been shared online, the frustrated fella has become the butt of the internet's collective joke. Well, they do say you can laugh a woman into bed...

Motivate to accumulate
I've never been a huge fan of motivational speakers. However, I understand from one of my vendor mates that his boss was put in the awkward position recently of having to cater for a particularly enthusiastic motivational speaker who insisted on rearranging the room to suit his presentational needs. Instead of a relaxed tables and chairs look, he wanted a more formal ‘horseshoe' shape.
"This room is quite large for the amount of people. Who decided it would look like this?" said the speaker.
"Er, I did," stammered the poor vendor boss. "I thought it'd be nice to have a relaxed feel where people can lean on tables and take notes."
Wrong, fella. Apparently the way to motivate staff is to sit them in a tight horseshoe shape, close together and with nothing to lean on, and stay that way for the next three hours. I wonder whether he accidentally hired an ‘interrogational speaker' by accident.

Robot chores
Regular reader(s) will be all too aware of how long I have waited for the imminent enslavement of humanity by shiny metal overlords.
Thankfully, that blessed day seemed to inch closer this week with news that G4S claims to have hired the first "autonomous robot... deployed in a working office environment, trobotso do a real job". (Although if it were that autonomous, I dare say the bot might have thought its awesome combination of artificial intelligence and reinforced steel qualified it for a higher-powered position than office admin.)
The security services company claimed that while the robot - named Bob - "carries out his duties, he will also be gathering information about his surroundings and learning about how the environment changes over time". Somewhat eerily.
Bob, from the University of Birmingham, "will learn how to act intelligently and independently in real-world environments", claimed G4S.
Sounds impressive. Maybe these robots could eventually take charge of overseeing a major project. Like the Olympics, perhaps?

The invisible manager

14 Jul 2014

The invisible manI met a fellow channel big hitter recently; he looked familiar so I asked where I might have seen his face before. The answer, much to my incredulity, was "nowhere".
The chap has been a fairly active figure on the M&A scene over the years, and has long been concerned that, if employees at a company saw his visage at their offices, they might jump to the conclusion that their employer was about to sell up. As a preventative measure, the secretive supremo has never supplied the media with a photo, and has warned prying journos not to seek a snap. The acquisitive exec has even gone so far as to move his company's HQ out of the City so as to minimise the risk of starting Chinese whispers merely by being seen in conversation with another member of the business community.
Naturally, I cannot say too much about what this chap looks like. And, in unrelated news, nor can I offer any comment on the growing rumour that Tupac is, in fact, alive and well and living undercover as a mid-market IT services specialist.

Hot potato
If you're an innovative and ambitious young tech firm, rich in ideas and potential but poor in funds, Kickstarter can be an invaluable tool in helping connect you with backers. It can also help wackily named chancers generate an obscene amount of money in the name of making potato salad. Right you are.
Potato saladSome character calling himself Zack Danger Brown recently posted on the site looking for a grand total of $10, with the explanation ‘I'm making potato salad'. His so-called stretch goal was to raise $35, for which he promised to make four times as much of the snack. If the money raised reached three figures, the budding entrepreneur (of sorts) promised to try his hand at more than one recipe.
As we go to press, Brown has raised almost $50,000 and counting. For some reason. The tuberphile is all set to hire an industrial-sized kitchen to hold a party, where all but the smallest investors will be offered a bite of the finished dish. Other rewards include a photo of the Danger man making the food, and a signed jar of mayonnaise.
Following the success of his initial foray into the business world (of sorts), rumour has it the budding chef is planning a bold Waldorf salad and coleslaw combo. Bidding rights start at $5m.

Thumbs up
As someone who has long accepted the inevitability of our enslavement by shiny metal overlords, imagine my delight to discover this week that car workers in Germany are one step closer to forming a robot-human master race, having gained so-called "super-thumbs".
Employees at the BMW plant in Munich have been equipped with 3D-printed thermoplastic polyurethane protectors to help alleviate the stress placed on their joints during the car assembly process.
The devices are designed to allow the thum7-thumbs-upb to move freely, until the digit straightens up, at which point the protectors go all stiff, allowing the connected human to press down hard without putting undue strain on their thumb joint. The über-thumbs are reportedly most useful in making it easier for people to fit rubber plugs to engines.
"These have to be pressed in with the thumb. Even for people with strong hand muscles, the movement requires a certain effort," said a BMW spokesperson, helpfully.
I think this sort of technology could really benefit my sales goons, given how much of my money they waste sitting around with their collective thumb lodged in their posterior.

Remotely interesting
I was intrigued to learn this week that Bill Gates has given his backing to a new contraceptive implant that can be managed by a remote control.
The small computer chip can be placed under a woman's skin to release a baby-preventing daily dose of levonorgestrel for up to 16 years. The device can be turned on and off by remote control, and it is set to undergo clinical testing in the US next year, ahead of potentially going on sale as early as 2018.
Yesterday I excitedly told Her Indoors about this incredible development.
"Does it come with a mute button?," she said.

Ask a silly question

30 Jun 2014

I was mildly appalled to see a selection of familiar channel names in rundowns - compiled by "career community" Glassdoor - of the 25 toughest and most odd questions asked at job interviews.
Apparently Gartner has asked applicants "how would you describe an atom to a child?" (job-interview-cvI wouldn't - I'd give them a fiver and tell them to run off and buy some sweets), while Rackspace wanted to know "how would you react if shot in the head with a Nerf gun?" (angrily, thanks for asking).
Trend Micro was interested in which Disney character potential staff would compare themselves to (dunno - is Scarface a Disney film?), while social media data-filtering firm DataSift enquired "everyone at DataSift is brilliant; why are you brilliant?" (perhaps because I've managed to accomplish my many successes without ever having heard of DataSift).
Apple asked job seekers "if you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" (I suppose I could trim bits off a meat feast that were small enough not to arouse suspicion), and Dell wondered "are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" (I see myself as more of a Saracen, with a bit of Rhino thrown in).
We don't mess about with any of this ridiculousness here. I have only two questions for wannabe Dodgiers: 1) you don't read the local press, do you?; and 2) will you waive your right to an employment tribunal?

Slice of the action
I was horrified to learn this week that hackers had finagled their way into the databases of Domino's Pizza and made off with some of its customer records.
The Belgian and French operations of the popular dough-manipulators were recently compromised by a group calling itself Rex Mundi, although it is not yet clear whether this refers to the Latin for "king of the world", or the progressive Dutch trance musician of the same name (thanks, Wikipedia!). The naughty computer wonks claimed to have laid their hands on the customepizzar data of 592,000 Frenchian pizza-munchers, as well as 58,000 Belgists.
"That's over six hundred thousand records," pointed out Rex Mundi, helpfully, "which include the customers' full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and delivery instructions. (Oh, and their favorite pizza topping too, because why not)."
The hackers claimed that if they were not furnished with €30,000, they would publish the details and told anyone affected they would "have the right to sue" Domino's. As CRN went to press, the pizza hawker had not caved to the demands, and the stipulated deadline for releasing the records had come and gone.
This came as a huge relief to me; I'd never live it down with the boys at The Dog and Duck if they found out my regular order is a small, low-fat Veggie Surprise and a side salad (no dressing, please).

A model consumer
I was boggle-minded to learn this week that you will soon be able to purchase an unsettlingly accurate and detailed statuette of yourself when you do your weekly supermarket run.
Asda recently trialled its first 3D-printing scanner at the retail behemoth's store in the Trafford area of Manchester. The contraption takes a full-body scan in a reported 12 seconds, and the info gathered can be sent away to the supermarket's facility in Sheffield. Shoppers can then pick up a full-colour eight-inch model of themselves back in-store a week later.
The installation of the booths follows the rollout of less-sophisticated 3D printing services that work from photos of the desired print target. But before you get all excited, dear readAsda is trailing a 3d printing serviceer, the scanner was only in situ for the week commencing Monday 16 June as a trial run.
But don't be surprised to see the technology deployed on a much wider basis in the not-too-distant future, as Asda reckons Joe and Josephine Public have been crying out for miniature replicas of themselves. In an irritatingly matey and grammatically lax promotional release, the retailer claimed "there are loads of different reasons people have been getting lifelike 3D replica model made".
Narcissism being chief among them, I would imagine, followed by spite, hubris, boredom, excessive intoxicant consumption, stag/hen-do japery, and misguided and really rather creepy notions of romance.

Turing shroud

16 Jun 2014

robot-writerUnless you're not a human being at all, but in fact a not-particularly-convincing automaton, you can't have failed to notice that a computer has supposedly become the first device to pass the Turing test.
The chatbot, named Eugene Goostman, recently reportedly conned about a third of assessors into thinking it was the 13-year-old Ukrainian boy its creators had designed it to mimic. Some have poured a fairly high level of scorn on suggestions that the programme could actually have passed a test with any real rigour. And, having read some of the conversations Master Goostman has mustered up, it's easy to see their point.
I've had more convincing offers instructing me to send a cheque for $5,000, so as to liberate my $11m winnings from a Panamanian lottery I didn't know I'd entered. Even allowing for the fact that the bot is deliberately designed to have the spelling, vocabulary, syntax, and grammar of a 13-year-old non-English-speaker, his speech is peppered with non sequiturs that are, at best, a tad obtuse and, at worst, really ruddy weird. (Though, admittedly, none of this much distinguishes him from most of my sales team).
Though there is the odd pearl in among his automated witterings. "Be optimistic," he urged MIT computer science professor Scott Aaronson. "Artificial intelligence and natural stupidity, being combined, will lead this world to fantastic future!"

Artificial intoiletgence
Speaking of sophisticated computer-type stuff, you can't go five minutes these days without hearing news of some development in the field of smart technology. But I must confess, dear readMan on phone on toileter, that I'm largely indifferent to all the many much-vaunted examples to date; smartwatches, smart fridges, smart cars - they all leave me cold.
But this week brought word of a breakthrough that has really captured my imagination: smart khazis.
Heathrow Terminal 2 has recently put in sensors at loos across the building. The natty devices help cleaners keep track of when the facilities need a spruce-up by letting them know when a certain number of people have used them. Although, in my experience, the key factor here is not how many people have used a toilet before you, but rather which people have done so. (Shirl - I'm looking at you. Especially since you went on that Atkins diet...)
The technology can reportedly track which units are used more than others, and direct users to those that are empty. Over time, they can also track which bogs are typically over-subscribed, and which are being overlooked.
I'm loving this development, and am thinking of installing this gear at Dodgi Towers. I've always suspected that Gord uses my executive washroom whenever I'm away on business, and I've long wanted to bring him to justice. But I haven't been able to keep a log.

Template of doom
I discovered this week that Cisco has a set of dos and don'ts for ISVs wishing to issue a press release related to a progression in their partnership with the networking goliath.
The vendor asks that new members of its Solution Partner Programme fill in the blanks on a template provided and submit a draft to Cisco's PR team about 10 days before they wish to issue it to the fourth estate. So far, so stringent.
shutterstock-151042010And it gets worse: it turns out new partners have a list of words it is verboten to use in their ‘About Company X' shtick at the bottom of the release. These include: alliance; strategic alliance; leverage; dominate and dominance; certified; and first, best, first to market, best in class, only, approved, and authorised.
Phew. That's an awful lot of the IT channel's favourite words ruled out in one fell swoop. And partners are also warned that "forward-looking statements about what [their] solution will do in the future should be avoided".
Thankfully I'm not a Cisco partner, so can press on with my media release about my strategic alliance with the vendor which will see me leverage my dominance of the Barking and Dagenham area IT market to become certified as the first to market with the first, best, and only approved and authorised solution of its kind. A solution that, in the future, will be able to reverse man-made climate change, eliminate all corruption from world football, and clone Graham Gooch.

Terminal decline

02 Jun 2014

Like any right-thinking person, my general view is that the only thing worse than the use of the word "banter" is the use of the recently made-up word "branter" (a portmanteau describing the act of banter between two brands).
But surely the only thing worse than either of these isClown actual examples of (shudder) "branter", as recently exemplified by Microsoft and Samsung.
The Korean vendor caused quite the stir last month when it took over every available inch of Heathrow's terminal 5 to advertise its latest wowbox, even going so far as to rebrand it ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5' for two weeks.
Spying the chance of a cheap and cheeky PR win, Microsoft sent four so-called "Lumianauts" clad in astronaut gear who (ready your sides for splitting!) pretended to try to book a flight to "the galaxy" (geddit?), only to realise they'd just have to glumly drive off in their spacerover instead. What japes!
Thankfully the temporary rebrand ends today, but it does make you wonder who else might be tempted to cash in on the marketing synergies. Terminal Five Alive, perhaps?

Interviewing figures
I was nonplussed to discover this week that a reported seven per cent of UK job seekers have conducted a telephone job interview on a beMobile phone being used on holidayach.
This is according to an extremely unimpeachable "survey" from (VESTED INTEREST ALERT!) "online interview software firm Shortlister.com". The company quizzed 2,000 respondents, 29 per cent of whom claimed to have done a job interview in their living room (or "lounge", to give it its proper name), shortly ahead of the boudoir on 25 per cent.
A bewildering nine per cent said they have tried out for a job while in the bath, while both the beach and a car park scored seven per cent. Apparently. Among the more bizarre places candidates mentioned were behind a show court at Wimbledon, while on a tour of the Tower of London, and while riding a horse.
At time of going to press, it is not clear whether the interviewer was also on horseback.

From here to paternity
It gives me great pleasure to award the inaugural Diamond-Geezer Award for Creepy Marketing Stunt of the Century to Daddy Analytics.
The company, whose technology reportedly allows firms to "increase lead generation by tracking marketing ROI in Salesforce" (no, I don't know either), puDaddy Analytics models in 'Who's the Daddy' t shirtst together a novel
"visual stunt" by getting six pregnant women to pose in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘Who's the daddy?'.
I don't know what unsettles me more: the implication that these poor women can't say
for sure who impregnated them, or the implication that the father might be an enterprise software solution.
Impressively named CEO Stony Grunow hardly helped the general sense of weirdness when he said: "When else can you ask pregnant women to wear T-shirts suggesting they don't know who the father is and write this off as a legitimate business expense?"
I don't know Stony, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to find out.

Farage barrage
Anyone who's spent more than a few seconds immersed in the murky world of Twitter will be painfully aware of the havoc that can be wrought when a self-launched hashtag doesn't quite go thfarage-debatee way a company or individual had envisaged.
In the run-up to the recent elections, UKIP became the latest organisation to fall foul of an attempt to engage with fans on social media, when it encouraged users to tweet feedback on the hashtag #WhyImVotingUKIP. Among the pithier and more printable of the multitude of replies it received were: "Because I'm fed up of foreigners coming over and denying hard-working British people the right to be Nigel Farage's wife", and "Because I'm worried black people will start breeding with gay people and we'll create a master race of amazing dancers".
It's tempting to say the stunt backfired but, this being UKIP, it effectively turned into a canny marketing exercise. I'm pretty sure they could have tweeted a picture of nawtee Nige farting on the Queen's head while burning a Union Jack and simultaneously defaming Bobby Moore, Winston Churchill and Clare Balding and they still would've got a boost in the polls.

A follow victory

06 May 2014

I always feel somewhat nauseated whenTwitter I hear someone boasting about their number of Twitter followers, and I don't mind admitting that I did a little vom in my mouth when I saw a mid-ranking channel exec doing just that recently.
Taking far too much of a personal interest in a trivial matter that has no bearing on my life (is there any greater pleasure?), I decided to investigate further. The exec does indeed have a huge Twitter following, running well into five figures.
But looking at just who was following them, there were a huge amount of faceless egg accounts, mostly in surprisingly large clumps
of Russian and Spanish names. A cursory online internet web search tells me that this could be the hallmark of someone buying followers, who can be acquired for as little as £10 for a couple of thousand.
Or maybe our channel friend studied at the Moscow State University before beginning their career in IT managing the Peruvian channel?

Arresting developments
Sticking with Twitter shenanigans, the New York Police Department recently became the latest hapless addition to the file marked: Incredibly Ill-Thought-Out Attempts to Engage With People on Social Media.
The force uploaded a cheery snap of a civvie mugging happily with a couple of officers and urged the public to tweet in shots of them with a member of the NYPD under the hashtag #myNYPD.
occupy-wall-street-im-getting-arrestedThe trouble is, the only times the average person interacts with an officer of the law is when: a) they report a break-in or a missing loved one; b) they're urinating in a bin on Leytonstone High Road after one too many sherbets (I imagine); c) they're being kettled.
In each of those cases, I dare say most people don't feel like commemorating the occasion with a photo. A quick recce of the #myNYPD hashtag reveals an eclectic assortment of men, women, children - and even dogs - feeling the long arm of the law in the form of a jackboot in the ribs or a baton in the face.
It may not have worked out for the rozzers, but it's still given me a dynamite idea for my outfit. If you have a picture of yourself with a member of my team, why not tweet me under the hashtag #DodgiServiceDodgiCompany?

Mystery unloched
Loch Ness MonsterI was shocked to see the following headline on the Daily Mail website recently: "Have Apple Maps found the Loch Ness monster?"
More shocked still was I to find that the article below consisted of anything more than the single word ‘no'.
A glance at the images captured by the fruity vendor's satellite cameras does indeed reveal a large squiddy sort of shape appearing to float just beneath the surface of the loch. Apparently, after six months of intense study, it has been decided the form in the photo is "likely" to be the mythical beast. This is according to "experts at the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club", says a blithely oxymoronic chunk of the Mail story.
Fair enough. But I might take issue with the article's claim that the photo "is enough to send shockwaves through even the most cynical Nessie sceptic". I'm still as sure as sure can be that there's no such thing as the Loch Ness monster, and I'm not even in the top 1,000 cynical Nessie sceptics.

Wax on
He mmark-zuckerbergay have already created one of the world's most recognisable brands, which interacts with one in seven of the global population on a daily basis - and amassed a $27bn personal fortune in the process - but now we can confidently say that Facebook mainman Mark Zuckerberg has finally made it: he's got himself in Madame Tussauds.
San Francisco-based appreciators of eerily lifelike hunks of wax will now be able to get up close and personal with the 29-year-old tech guru, who is posed sitting cross-legged on a funky chair, wearing his familiar
uniform of jeans and a hoodie. And no shoes or socks.
Perched on his lap is his notebook, which we can only presume he's using to update his Facebook status: "I can't believe that British tourist thought I was Joe Swash."

What an idiom

22 Apr 2014

fishermanOver the years I've noted a predilection among channel executives for the kind of nuggets of homespun wisdom that might make really good Facebook wall posts if paired with a picture of a particularly resourceful otter.
The problem with these pearls of profundity is they're just so tricky to remember. What's that one about killing someone making you stronger? And the one that's something to do with a journey of a mile taking 1,000 steps?
But even by the occasionally metaphorically mixed standards of the IT industry, I was impressed by the syntactic gymnastics of one partner chief I met recently. The poor fella knew there was a saying concerning fish and food that spoke to the power of education - rather than simple charity - as a tool for emancipation. After chewing over the fish-man-food-teaching quandary for a few awkward seconds, he settled on the perfect wording.
"If you teach a fish to feed itself, then they don't wanna give you the food; it's all about empowerment."
Or put another way, if you can teach a fish to feed itself, then get out of the IT industry, create a variety act, and take your incredible intelligent fish on a world tour.

Sexual Ealing
In a move cribbed straight out of Reverse Psychology for Dummies, I was intrigued to see recently that Michael Gove wants ambitious young businesspeople to come to London for "a good time and loads of hot sex".
mgoveThe national press reports that the education secretary was speaking at a summit attended by government top brass and former Facebook exec Joanna Shields, who is leading David Cameron's Tech City task force. The improbably stretchy-faced Scot claimed he had been "talking to some young entrepreneurs recently [who] said the reason they love London so much is not so much the high-tech opportunities, but that it's a fantastic city with great opportunities to be successful, enjoy a great culture, have a good time - and loads of hot sex!".
Home secretary Theresa May reportedly "gasped", while Cameron also acted the square by allegedly saying: "make sure that does not appear in the minutes".
Completely made-up rumours that Gove then proceeded to chase Shields and May around the room to the strains of Yakety Sax remained thoroughly untrue as CRN went to press.

Fromage frayed
Working in the IT industry, I'm reminded daily of the awesome power of technology and the opportunities for social and economic progress afforded by the advent of things such as unified communications, immersive telepresence, and cloud computing. But just when you think the human race is progressing to a ubiquitously connected future of smart cities and intelligent objects, I remember that many among us haven't yet mastered their toaster.toast
The London Fire Brigade was recently called to an incident in Croydon caused by an inventive snack-assembler trying to make cheese on toast by flipping their toaster on its side. Press reports indicate that the owner's kitchen suffered minor damage, and the gambit "left the snack completely charred".
"Toasters are not designed to be put on their side," sighed an impressively deadpan crew manager Nick Morley. "I never thought I'd have to give this advice as it's painfully obvious, but if you want cheese on toast, use a grill, not a toaster."
Alternatively, reassess whether you really want melted cheese, and make a sandwich instead. Making sure to use plastic knives. As well as safety goggles and a full hazmat suit.

Ex-XP
Having exhausted literally several options in trying to get stubborn users to migrate from Windows XP, Microsoft has gone for a more fun approach to warn of the security dangers of staying on the ageiMicrosoft Windows XP screenng OS.
A side-scrolling shoot-em-up game dubbed Escape from XP casts a lonely developer as the last man standing in a world of vastly inferior software. Accompanied by an ear-violating soundtrack, our hero has to blast beloved icons like IE and the Recycle Bin while an evil version of that unbearably smug paperclip looks on.
Fair play to Microsoft - I've shown this to a number of my clients and they've all agreed it's time to move on. I've got four company-wide Linux rollouts scheduled for next week alone.

Shady deal

07 Apr 2014

I was almost as excited to learn this sunglassesweek that Google Glass is teaming up with the company behind fancy shades maker Ray-Ban as I was to discover that Google openly acknowledges the pejorative use of the term "glasshole" to characterise the creepier users of its technology.
In a bid to cool up a technology dubbed "cumbersome, weird-looking and generally a bit meh" by expert analysts I just invented, Google has signed a deal with Luxottica. The Italian designer, which is the brains behind Ray-Ban and Oakley, has promised to bring a touch of the "avant garde" to eye-based wearable technology.
Google certainly has a way to go to make its Glass product seen as mainstream, desirable and not at all completely odd, which it seemed to tacitly acknowledge with a recently published list of Glass etiquette rules.
One such suggestion encourages wearers to avoid being "creepy or rude (aka a ‘Glasshole')".
Though they probably did little to allay the fears of those thoroughly creeped out by the whole smart eyewear thing by stating: "If someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there."

Mail merge misery
I'm sure we've all received a missive greeting us as "Dear [insert name here]" or similar.
Unless you're memobile-emailrcilessly schadenfreudian, you can't help but feel an empathetic pang of terror on behalf of the poor marketing intern who will shortly be facing a tongue-lashing; it's not nice to savage people for honest - and clearly fairly minor - mistakes.
That said, if you pitch your organisation as being designed to "establish, uphold and advance high standards of statistical competence", and are emailing people to invite them to enter awards recognising high achievement in the use of "numbers and data", then all bets are off, I'm afraid.
I'm sure the "Statistical Excellence Awards" are very much the Oscars of the statistically excellent journalism industry, but the jury remains out on the rigour, prestige, and general unimpeachability of the Royal Statistical Society until they can send an email without addressing all recipients as "Mr Chris Munford".
"The Society stresses that entries don't have to be statistically complex," notes the message.
Probably just as well, eh?

Recipe for disaster?
Smashing into the lucrative market niche of people who hamenu89798ve about 90 per cent of the dedication required to make a meal from scratch comes Foodini, which claims to be "the first 3D food printer to print all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods".
Manufacturer Natural Machines has so far received almost half of its $100,000 funding target on Kickstarter in pursuit of getting the product to mass market. You may say "but I can't print an apple, you madman?!", or perhaps "if I still have to cook the ingredients beforehand or afterwards, what differentiates this expensive product from, say, a normal knife?".
Well, egg and your face will be very much in alignment when I reveal that the Foodini means you will no longer be "forced to buy pre-filled food capsules". Making this the perfect product for time-poor urbanites residing in some kind of steel-and-chrome Logan's Run-style dystopia.

Copy cats
I was intrigued to learn this week that changes to UK copyright laws will soon make it legal for you to copy music from your CDs and upload it onto your MP3 player, 15 years after the first such devices went on sale in the UK. And not just because (ahem) A pile of unmarked pirated CDssomeone I know has been doing precisely that for roughly the past decade and a half, in blithe ignorance of the fact it was technically against the law.
Alas, it "will still be illegal to make copies for friends or family" (I'm not looking forward to telling the wife she can no longer borrow my iPod when she goes jogging). Keeping hold of any files you've copied from a CD you've since sold is also still technically verboten (farewell, Sham 69 boxset - you shall be missed.)
"The law... is changing in a number of small but important ways, to make our copyright system better suited to the digital age," said the Intellectual Property Office. Great news - and only a year or two too late to see that particular digital age disappear into the horizon as everyone switches to streaming services instead.

The head honcho of Dagenham's top reseller (give or take a few) gives his insights on the quirkier and murkier side of the industry. Dave also keeps a keen eye on the world of robots, pointless research and social networking.

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