Radio Four?s Test Match Special is quite rightly revered in the UK. It is one of the few things that can justifiably be called an institution.
That?s why I was pleasantly surprised to find out it has its own Web site. Amazing. I am starved of cricket, and my American sporting substitute, baseball, has become a bit less fun since my team keeps losing.
Apparently, the programme?s presenter, Jonathan Agnew, recently got a case of food poisoning and asked listeners to email some remedies to him on his new-fangled notebook, which was perched on his lap as he sat on the toilet.
My only regret was that I was not online to hear the broadcast ? roll on the series in the West Indies. Aggers suddenly felt better when his inbox filled up straight away, providing some much needed, er, relief. Now that?s a productive, life-enriching online experience for you.
They say Silicon Valley never sleeps, but it?s a lie; the US has been on holiday. US employees may get paid an awful lot more than their UK counterparts, but they get about half as much holiday. The ?done thing? is to take a week off in August.
This leaves a choice: either have your week off with the kids in early or mid-August, or wait until the end of August when the little darlings are back at school or college. If you go anywhere before late August, you have to fight off plagues of kids ? screaming at the volume only Americans can generate and moving at 100 miles an hour around you, temptingly within stamping range. If you leave it until late August, you have to fight off convoys of fat old people, fat couples and fat sunbathers moving in slow motion around you, temptingly within running-over range.
Whatever type of holidaymaker you come across, they create queues of almighty proportions. There are queues on freeways, queues for theme park rides, queues on hotel waiting lists and queues to gawp at tourist attractions all over the country. Unfortunately, California is the number one destination for all of them.
All my colleagues are also on holiday, so while I am at work there is nothing happening. No news. No scandal. You would expect it means I?m happier because I don?t have to work quite as incredibly hard as I usually do during the summer. But I leave work, and it takes hours to get anywhere because the freeway is packed full of holidaymakers. I get home, and it takes hours to get anywhere because the pavements are packed full of tourists.
Despite my attempts to do what my eccentric, British instincts tell me, I have had to follow the locals in this case. I?m going on holiday next week. As they say in these parts: if you can?t beat ?em, join ?em.
Sun has started a TV ad in the US featuring Java as part of its bid to establish Sun as a brand name in the consumer market so Joe Public knows all about it. The tune sounds like Dem Bones, but the ad replaces bones with electronic devices. The pager?s connected to the TV, it says. The TV?s connected to the wristwatch, and the wristwatch?s connected to the smart card.
Great. So what does Joe Public think it means? I can imagine the problems Sun had trying to work out how to explain what it does. Risc-based servers running a type of Unix are hard to explain in simple terms to Joe Public; who, incidentally, calls himself F. Joseph Public Jr. in the US, to detract attention from his embarrassing first name beginning with F.
In the end, I reckon Sun decided not to bother explaining anything. The pager, TV, wristwatch and smart card are ?all connected by Java? the ad says. Now Joe assumes Java is either a cable or an electronics retailer. The mystery is over.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison decided last week?s Java Internet Business Expo in New York was not for him ? he pulled out at the last minute from making his keynote speech at the event.
There were no real excuses and that was that. From my vantage point in Sillycon Valley, I find this most amusing, and I think this kind of flagrant selfishness is top drawer. He would probably only repeat a speech he has given before anyway, and if he does not want to speak, he won?t. I say fine ? but that?s probably got a lot to with the fact that it meant I didn?t have to get out of bed early to fly to New York to hear him.
I have seen a US survey which tries to guess which companies are the best to work for ? assuming you are in IT or an IS department. Of the computer firms, US-distributor Tech Data was second, Computer Associates was fifth and Anixter came 26th. There were some surprises, with 3Com coming in at 46th.
So how was the survey done? Apparently, winning criteria included the companies? benefits, staff changes and salary increases ? with some attention paid to promotions, training and the percentage of minority staff employed. But one factor stood out for me ? women. The more women the computer company employs, the more points it got in the ratings. I think that sounds more like Loaded magazine?s guide to which IT company to join.
James Harding is US Editor of VNU Newswire, based in San Francisco. He can be reached at [email protected] or on 00 1 415 306 0879.
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