No FT, no big deal
We kick off this week with a big well done to those hardworking hacks at the Financial Times. With some of the top news hounds in UK journalism, there's not much that happens in the big wide world of business without the good old FT getting a sniff of it first. Take the 25 January issue for example - a cracking expose on Inter X (or Ideal Hardware as we fondly know it), documenting the launch of its Web-based information service, the IT Network. The trouble is, the IT Network was first announced by Ideal Hardware last October.
Of course, you read it here in PC Dealer first - last October.
A big thumbs down to Peter Burlow, boss of Lincolnshire computer company Software (Europe) Ltd, after an employment tribunal awarded his secretary almost #40,000 following accusations that he had sexually harassed her. The secretary claimed Burlow made lewd comments and tried to lift up her skirt, with the excuse that he was 'just a dirty old pervert'. In a further attempt to prove his innocence, Burlow told the Daily Mail that he was just 'a fat old businessman with a beard'.
Our advice to Mr Burlow is to stop digging and quit while he's behind.
Now you see it ...
Question - when is a company's official statement not an official statement?
Answer - when it's been whipped off the Website sharpish, as soon as it starts to get queried by the likes of PC Squealer. At least that was what we were led to believe last week when we saw Aptec listed on CHS Electronic's Website as one of its four UK subsidiaries. There was even a hyperlink between the two Websites. Upon sight of this interesting nugget of information, we rang Peter Rigby, marketing communications director at CHS, to congratulate the company on its successful purchase. But Peter insisted that no such purchase had taken place - not in the UK at any rate. Ali Bagdhadi, who runs the Aptec unit along with the Middle Eastern subsidiaries that were bought by CHS last year, said the posting on the site 'was a mistake'. Strangely, moments later, the Web link had been airbrushed out of existence and flushed into the bowels of cyberspace. Who said the media can't alter the course of events, eh? It gives a whole new perspective to the phrase 'off the record'.
Bits out for the lads
If ogling Tomb Raider star Lara Croft to get your cheap thrills is becoming a bit of a bore, then consider hiring your own virtual girlfriend. Happy to oblige is Page Three 'stunna' Jo Guest, who is 'the world's first virtual girlfriend', says publisher Megastar (which runs the Daily Star's Website, surprise surprise). The company blurb adds that Love Bytes will put Jo at your fingertips, but only if you know how to please her, which, apparently, is harder than you might think. You see, our Jo isn't cheap to run and can be extremely demanding. But if you do manage to have your wicked way with her, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. One poor chap became so besotted with her that his real girlfriend got the hump and left him. You have been warned.
When a picture of this cheeky-looking chappie landed on PC Squealer's desk, with a note asking 'does this remind you of anyone?', there was a scratching of heads and furrowing of brows as the office pondered. We agreed that, at a push, Huw Jones, product marketing manager at Rockwell Electronic Commerce, does look a little like George Dawes, the romper-suited big baby-cum-drummer from Shooting Stars. But the likeness would hardly be a contender in a separated-at-birth competition. In the end, we were forced to ask the sender - who shall remain anonymous - who remained tight-lipped about the matter, but suggested it was someone a bit closer to home. PC Squealer's saying nothing, but feel free to let us know if he reminds you of anyone.
Weird Website of the Week
Due to overwhelming popular demand, this week marks the start of an occasional series where, at our own expense, we will dutifully trawl through the electronic feast of information that is the internet and bring direct to you the stuff that matters the most. Well, that was the idea until all the other stuff that inhabits cyberspace distracted us.
To get the ball rolling, where better to start than http://www.ambitweb.com/useless/useless.html, quite possibly the most useless net portal on the entire Web?
It's a veritable feast for those who have a passion for the meaningless, a burning desire to waste away their lives exploring ridiculous conspiracy theories, or for those who are, quite frankly, insane.
Ambitweb proudly offers links to '60 exquisite sites with no purpose',' taking in everything from 'how to repair a PC' (the unorthodox way), to '1001 uses for gaffer tape', stopping by 'Mr Cheese's world of cheese' en route. But if you want to get into the mind of the truly warped, click the Beard Research site and enter the world of a bloke who is clearly a couple of bits short of a byte. You see, to determine whether a beard really keeps you warm, Pete Hickey shaved half of his off (see picture) and went about his usual winter activities. Surprisingly, he found that the lagged half of his face was warmer, but admits that no in-depth analytical tests were done. 'A better test would be to shave half a person's beard off, but not tell them which half,' he helpfully suggests. More of the same next week.
Hasta Altavista, baby
Technology? Who needs it, eh? The recent phone conference to announce Compaq's spin off of Altavista was linked into the live press briefing which was being held in New York. As a bit of background for all you non-journalist types reading this, it's more than a tad frustrating to spend an hour of your working day with the phone handset cellotaped to the side of your head just to make sure you don't miss the slightest nuance in a voice. There are points , however, when irritation moves on from being a gentle simmer to a boiling geyser. One of these moments was when Rod 'Rocking' Schrock, president and chief executive of Altavista, was demonstrating some doo-dah. Now, Rocking Rod obviously held his audience in his thrall as he deftly clicked through all his brand new baby thingummies, but there were certain limitations for us poor buggers holding the phone back in Blighty. The limitations of the demo were further highlighted when the excrement really started its long and winding journey towards the fan. Something obviously wasn't working and Rocking Rod was gamely attempting to navigate his way through the choppy waters of potential embarrassment.
However, this failed to hold any interest whatsoever for those with their heads cellotaped to their phones thousands of miles away, who were forced to listen to such mutterings as: 'Errr, ohh, look at that, erm that's it, no, no, that's it, erm no, oh yes ... sorry about this, one moment.' Even a quick chorus of Greensleeves seemed more appealing at that point - always a true sign of approaching insanity. The upshot of it all was that fragments of telephone were sent spiralling away from the impact caused by a raging reporter hurling his phone - after, of course, detaching it from his head - at the wall. The reporter in question has now filled out the requisition forms to get a slightly more robust phone and a headset. [22
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