Money, money, money, must be funny, in a rich man's world. So claimed Swedish popsters Abba back in the 70s but alas, it seems to be a heavy weight on poor Mark Hunter's shoulders. The 36-year-old founder of computer services company Axon, based in Surrey, ruefully explained to the Daily Telegraph that he had no idea what to do with the #3 million he has earned in the past three to four years. His money troubles are set to be compounded further when Axon floats and he gets another #5 million to add to his personal kitty. 'I need to meet the right woman to spend it on,' he told the Telegraph. If that's the case, can PC Squealer suggest Hunter shell out some of his dough to enlist the services of a dating agency or even give PC Dealer a ring, rather than using the Telegraph's business section?
Ye olde end of the world
Apostles of Nostradamus have been preparing for Armageddon since it was trendy to wear a codpiece and the term manservant had altogether more innocent connotations. But the number of subscribers to the French prophet's notion that 2000 is the time to start hiding in concrete underground bunkers may snowball. It has emerged that the US government has offered to help the Russians set up an early warning centre to reduce the risk of an accident triggered by the year 2000 problem. It is believed that Russia's nuclear armament systems may not be entirely bug free and could become confused on the date change, resulting in ... geothermal nuclear war. It's reassuring to know that while the rest of us worry about whether our toast is going to pop up on 1 January, the powers that be have dedicated 10 whole months to ensure the survival of the world as we know it. Let's just hope that the only thing that strikes at midnight in London on New Year's Eve is Big Ben.
Why are we Norway-ting?
On a recent trip to Oslo with tape storage bods Tandberg Data, PC Squealer took the opportunity to marvel at the Norwegians' ability to keep trains running during weather that could only be described as inclement.
We know Scandinavia is renowned for being technologically advanced, but who would have thought trains could actually run while it was snowing, let alone experiencing the wrong type of leaves on the line? Unfortunately, the airport fared less well from the adverse weather conditions. Despite being brand new and very pleasing aesthetically (especially the cheese-effect flooring), severe delays were encountered on the way back to Blighty. At one point, it was mentioned that the airport may close for three days. We're sure Tandberg was desperately arranging a series of meetings for the weekend to add to the day-and-a-half of briefings it had already given. Luckily, the plane finally took off after sitting on the Tarmac for four hours - with no alcoholic refreshment - narrowly avoiding the first reported incident of runway rage.
Rage against the machine
Speaking of the stresses of modern life, Concord Communications has announced that following a comprehensive global survey of network managers, they have assigned a new buzzword to an age-old problem. 'Network rage' is when - yep, you've guessed it - computer users vent their anger on their PCs. In an attempt to lend some credibility to this rather pointless report, Concord has wheeled in psychologist Dr Will Calmas. According to the good doctor: 'When people are under a lot of pressure, they can become frustrated and lose control of their temper.' Give the man a round of applause. He continues: 'Instead of voicing their frustrations, some people choose to take out their aggression on inanimate objects - in this case, their monitor, keyboard or mouse.
This rage is often the result of pent-up hostility.' It left PC Squealer wondering whether network rage was more severe following close contact with Concord software.
It's a load of old pa(i)nts
It's a veritable relief to find a press release that is actually newsworthy. Take, for example, a recent one from Fired Earth, the well-known retailer of high-quality niche goods including natural flooring, paints and textiles. And what interest should readers of PC Dealer have in said company? Well, it's implemented some software from Strategix Solutions, to improve efficiency and accuracy in all areas of the business. And the result? Strategix Solution has supplied data to back up Fired Earth's gut feeling about the business. So you can rest assured that natural flooring, paints and textiles industry is in good hands.
Icicles killed the Radion star
Symantec was so pleased with its resellers last year that as a special treat, it whisked them off to the frozen wastes of northern Sweden for two days of snowy fun and frolics. PC Squealer didn't get an invite so we've left it to Symantec's regional director, Aled 'I used to appear in Radion commercials' Miles to spill the beans ...
Everything's gonna be all white
Well, talk about whiter than white - this beats any washing powder. Have been hurled by husky dogs through an arctic wilderness at -45 degC. Everything is frozen - even my nasal hair. It freezes when I breathe in and thaws when I breathe out.
We're in Jukkasjarvi, 100 miles inside the Arctic Circle. Landing was an experience. Everything is covered in snow - trees, fields, houses, lakes, runway ... RUNWAY? I've spun my car uncontrollably on frozen roads back home - what's the skid factor on a frozen runway of a 300 ton aeroplane travelling at 150mph?
It doesn't take us long to realise we're in a place where the sun don't shine. They've had no solar activity here for 17 weeks now. No wonder Nordic countries have the highest suicide rate in Europe after Aberystwyth.
The streets are paved with cold.
Ice down for a full house
We expected plush surroundings, but this is more like slush. The Ice Hotel pulls no punches with its name - everything is made from the cold, hard stuff - the chairs, tables, even the beds. We thought the Swedes were into their saunas but I think a heat chamber really would bring the house down. It's here that our frosty band of resellers find out the true meaning of seasonal business - but not before several have remarked they find the choice of decor a little cold.
When it comes to accommodation, it turns out we do have a choice. The wimps can have a nice warm cabin designed to avoid the freezing of vital assets, the inquisitive/stupid/mad can opt for a Nordic sleeping bag on an ice bed, in an ice room, with an icy en suite bathroom. Despite worries about waking up with our heads stuck to the pillow, of course we opt for the latter. We need the answer to that age-old question - what happens when the s**t hits the pan?
Donnelly the vampire sleigher
Next day, I find myself on the back of a snowmobile driven by Paul Donnelly, managing director of Gem Distribution. I'm frozen with fear - he's driving at 60mph. It's a dangerous ride - a bit like negotiating Gem's quarterly targets.
We return to the ice hotel to cool off with a drink. The bar turns out to be 17ft long and - you guessed it - carved in ice. In fact, even the glasses are ice. It's so cold the vodka has frozen. The hotel is as serene as a chapel, lit by candles against a backdrop of curved ceilings modelled exquisitely in - oh yes, ice and snow. We're so chilled we even laugh when the barman offers ice and lemon. Well, there's no business like snow business.
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