Monte Carlo - the playground of the rich and famous, the home to the Monaco Grand Prix and renowned worldwide for its cars, celebrities and casinos. A personal wealth of £10m is required before you can even think of living there, and a fair share of that is needed just to buy a drink in the place. The Xerox channel partners may have felt at home during their conference in the town, but PC Squealer found the traditions in the state slightly unusual. One by-law seems to segregate sexes during flights, which our reporter found out to his detriment while waiting for a helicopter. He was ushered out of one vehicle bursting with ladies and into an all-male one. He still claims he didn't touch anyone. Another strange custom of the area seems to be to ignore anyone who doesn't look rich enough. If spoken to by a poor person, shrug your shoulders, hold your palms upwards, emit the French grunt and walk away. Our reporter found this custom particularly hard to master, but with practice he was soon shunning with the best of them. But the heat and the strange land finally got the better of our man, who was found sitting in an English bar sucking on a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, mumbling to himself: "There's no place like home."
You've got to be kid(ney)ding
There have been many cases of hoax lots appearing on internet auction sites. One famous incident saw a 17-year-old man-boy offer up his virginity, which received a bid of $10m. But one recent item really did extract the urine, going so far as to break US law. The description of the offending lot on eBay's auction website read: 'Fully functioning kidney for sale: you can choose either kidney. Buyer pays all transplant and medical costs. Of course only one for sale, as I need the other one to live. Serious bids only.' The offer of the human kidney was ordered to be removed when it was found that selling your own organs was punishable in the US by up to five years in prison or a $50,000 fine. Bidding for the organ had reached $6m before the plug was pulled on the operation. While eBay officials believe the whole thing was a wind up, they were taking no chances. PC Squealer just hopes that the little boy who really needed that kidney was not too upset.
"You can get them much cheaper from Asia anyway," a spokesman for the National Fictional Association for Illegal Transplants said. Auction firm eBay has displayed many strange offers on its website, including these:
24 small children
A dead mouse
31 inches of toe nails
A used handkerchief
Read 'em and weep
So you thought employees of Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Intel and Oracle were complete computer anoraks. Well, think again. Contrary to popular belief, employees of the big IT firms don't spend all their time staring at computers, they also read books. According to a bestseller list recently published by Amazon, the most popular read on Microsoft's Seattle campus is ... surprise, surprise ... Business @ the Speed of Thought, by non other than Microsoft's very own superstar Bill Gates. The most thumbed through paperback by Hewlett Packard workers is David Packard's The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company, while Tom Shanley's Pentium Pro and Pentium II System Architecture hits the top of Intel's staff bestseller list. Surprisingly though, Oracle employees have to take the Nobel Prize for their bad taste in literature.
Their list is headed by The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation, followed by the Oracle Financials Handbook.
But the Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit: Expert Methods for Designing, Developing, and Deploying Data Warehouses, romps home at a distressing 10th place. As they say, there's nothing like a bit of light reading to help you kick back and relax.
In this business there are different kinds of companies that have very different views on what taking a risk is all about. This has been made very evident with the onset of ecommerce. First there was web pioneers such as Amazon and Audiostreet, then the more established players will come along such as HMV, with the clout to become an online success. But there are many successful businesses to be built by standing on the coat-tails of innovative entrepreneurs. If someone has had a good idea, why not copy it? Last month saw the launch of the Software Warehouse's Jungle.com. Now word has reached us that Dabs Direct is to launch PlayDirect.com to flog CDs, DVDs and games. Both companies are investing heavily, and PC Squealer wishes them the best of luck. Let's hope they haven't joined the happening ecommerce party that little bit too late.
I'll have the large spicy sausage
Tears of relief have been flowing at Mario's Pizzeria and The Peking Gardens in Surrey. The news has reached them that Graham Waddon - the genius mastermind behind a highly profitable offshore internet pornography site - has been given a suspended sentence, on account of his serious medical conditions - chronic thyroid complaint and severe leg pains. The court heard that Waddon squandered his share of the profits - one site was said to have been making as much as £30,000 a week - on takeaway pizzas and Chinese food. On hearing of the arrest, local restaurateurs had feared their plans to establish a private yachting club would have to be shelved. Thankfully, from the point of view of the local takeaway owners, police have been unable to trace the millions of pounds they believe him to have illegally made. It looks as if all is right with the world and projected business is bright. Another fine example of ecommerce benefiting the local economy.
Software, hard drugs
ERP vendor Marcam Solutions brought a whole new meaning to the term supplier when it signed a $1m deal with the world's largest opium manufacturer. The ERP transaction was finished last week and the substantial system will have up to 120 users - although it was not clear if the contract included any ecommerce or online access privileges. Marcam officials were said to be "as high as a kite" at the vendor's ability to win the deal.
However, representatives at the opium manufacturer claimed to know absolutely nothing about ERP software, and instead were said to be waiting for a consignment of ERP - Elephants Rampaging in Pink pyjamas.
Not just for the youngsters.com
Intel has found that the future of the games industry does not lie with teenagers, or with those in their early 20s, but with game-hungry walking-stick wielding grannies and grandads. The older generation, according to an NOP poll conducted over two days in August with 992 participants, are logging onto the internet like never before to battle with other pensioners around the world. The pension-collecting participants of the latest online generation believe that computer games help with general concentration. Intel did not confirm whether it will now be issuing games with a new warning label stuck alongside the parental guidance sticker: 'Do not play this game if you have been prescribed drugs for a weak heart or have had a pace maker fitted in the past year.'
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