It was only a matter of time before it happened and unfortunately for poor old Symantec, it was the victim this time. Yes, irony of ironies, the anti-virus specialist's website was hacked into last week and an apocalyptic message was pasted onto the vendor's home page by the fiendish crackers. Symantec claims its technicians were immediately on the case and removed the offending page within an hour of its detection. But PC Squealer was more impressed with the speed at which Aled Miles, UK and Ireland regional director at Symantec, managed to get himself onto the BBC's online news page to comment on the story it was running. Aled, quite correctly we thought, pointed out that just about any organisation was vulnerable to these attacks - including the FBI - and stressed that there was no effect on Symantec's servers as a result of the breach. Well said, Aled. With PR response times like that, damage limitation can be assured.
No holds at the bar
After hearing about the daring exploits undertaken by Software AG's most maverick UK employees, who were sponsored so generously by the vendor,
PC Squealer spotted an opportunity for a blag. Two employees received a helping hand from the firm to indulge more effectively in their favourite pastimes. Lisa Welbourn, education services coordinator at Software AG, likes nothing more than to be covered from head to foot in muck on a Saturday afternoon while bouncing through treacherous rural terrain on her mountain bike. The experience is all part of her involvement in the British mountain bike orienteering championship.
Her colleague Colin Arnold, product manager at Software AG, prefers the growl of a Formula 600 racing car and hurtling around Brands Hatch at 130mph to satisfy his extra-curricular urges. And of course, it all fits perfectly with the vendor's Accept No Limits tagline. Well, at PC Squealer, we don't have limits either, so we would like to take this opportunity to ask Software AG if it could sponsor our official drinking team. We've been practising for years and our stamina is second to none - we can keep going all night, or until the funds run out. Go on, we'll even accept sponsored T-shirts, beer glasses, bar towels, anything.
Following his decision to hang up his sheepskin after an illustrious football management career spanning three decades, Big Ron Atkinson - aka Champagne Charlie - has taken up a position as director of football at AOL UK. The former boss of West Bromwich Albion, Manchester United, Liga, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest has diversified his skills portfolio in the past few years in anticipation of his impending retirement, with varying degrees of success. Who could forget his hammy acting in Sky TV's footy soap, Dream Team? More recently, we've seen Big Ron - instantly recognisable due to his penchant for gold jewellery and thick shades - dress up in medieval costume for corny TV commercials. "The lure of getting involved with football on the internet was too hard to resist," said Atko, who is obviously a bit of a geek beneath that smooth-tanned, gold-encrusted exterior. It remains unclear whether Big Ron's role as head of AOL's online fantasy football game will leave any time for his soccer punditry, but his appointment could set a fascinating precedent for other sporting legends who know their number's up. Just think: sixties United star Georgie Best as chief taster with an online brewery; former Kop king John Barnes as head of an internet fashion store; or even ex-England boss Glen Hoddle as an online evangelist.
Doctor in the software house
Confusion reigned last week over the destination of Bill Gates' wealth.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Gates' father claimed Junior was poised to give away the majority of his hard-earned cash to good causes, with one of the main beneficiaries to be Aids research. Now this may have seemed like a PR masterstroke given that the case with the DoJ is not far from conclusion, but days later the real Microsoft PR machine rolled into action. It claimed that Bill and his wife had no imminent plans to give away the entirety of their wealth. So what's the beef, Bill? Will you or won't you? And while PC Squealer recognises the importance of medical research, isn't it time Gates gave something back to those who have had to suffer the unbearable pain of using Windows in the past decade? Research into Blue Screen Death Syndrome sounds like a worthy cause to us.
A sorry ale
The easiest decision of last week followed an invite to IBM's summer bash at the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) beer festival at Olympia. The prospect of spending an afternoon supping warm, watery ale, in a cracked plastic cup, with a bunch of bearded beer guzzlers and technicians was tempting, but in the end we decided we had far too much work to be getting on with, so we stayed in the office.
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