It's only January, there's still a nip in the air and small woodland creatures have yet to re-emerge from their winter slumber. But it seems the world cannot wait for the year to pass and launch itself into the new millennium. PC Squealer's office floor is already awash with party invites to celebrate the New Year - honest - but Oracle appears to be a little more eager than most. Its 'millennium preparation party' will even incorporate extensive BBTs (that stands for beverage benchmarking tests, you know). We'd just like to make one tiny criticism. Please can we avoid the use of the slogan, 'Let's party like it's 1999'.
It is 1999 and it's not funny, not even in an ironic way.
We'd also appreciate it if the temptation to play the song in question was resisted. And while we're on the subject, ditto for Robbie Williams' Millennium and Pulp's Disco 2000.
It's going to be a long year, we think.
CHINA CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Talking of the millennium, did you hear the one about the Chinese government making all its senior staff take to the skies during the millennium changeover?
The idea behind it seems to be that because China's top bods are willing to be up in the air at this potentially hair-raising time, then the rest of the country will believe that nothing drastic is going to happen to the aeroplane's computers. As Zhao Bo, the man in charge of the Chinese ministry of Information Industries, explained: 'The bosses will be on the planes just to accompany the passengers, pilots and air crews to make them feel at ease and be sure of their safety.' Mmm, bet everyone feels a lot better about their flight into the unknown after hearing that.
PC Squealer appreciates that a company has to come up with a catchy name to separate itself from the crowd, but SolidWorks?
What does that say about the business to the outside world, Squealer pondered? That it has trouble with its U-bends? Incidentally, the funny firm in question is a US 3D CAD software vendor trying to build a bit of a presence over here. Not that you could tell from that misleading moniker. Whatever next? Fluid Flows, the workflow vendor? Or Nobbly Nodes, the networking reseller? Boggle on, mind.
FINNS AIN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE
For those resellers looking to escape the vagaries of the British winter, Kingston Technology is threatening to whisk 30 of its top dealer sales and account managers to the freezing wastelands of Finland. Whether the trip into the nether regions of the Arctic Circle is a punishment or part of an elaborate incentive scheme remains unclear, but as the press release says it will most certainly be 'an experience they will never forget'.
The 'lucky winners' will spend three fun-filled days in February larking around with the local wildlife and generally freezing their butts off.
Alison Heath, director of UK sales and marketing of Kingston, said: 'To help our resellers drive their sales as hard as possible, we wanted to offer a truly exciting and different incentive.' In the light of this, PC Squealer wondered whether next year's winners would be shipped to a Siberian penal colony to break up rocks. Any hot dealers who just missed out on making the grade should contact Squealer's travel department which - for a limited period only - is offering a weekend for two in our office fridge at the special knock-down price of #389 (air fare and mini-bar not included).
The University of Abertay in Dundee has appointed its first Professor of Games. Russell Kay, founder of Visual Sciences, which made Lemmings and Formula One 98, will become the university's visiting fellow in computer games. Naturally, this means when students put in a seven-hour shift on their PlayStations, or spend half their grants on games, it won't be slacking - it'll be working. There were also unsubstantiated rumours that this course would be followed by Studies in Contemporary Loafing, Advanced Boozing (theory and practical) and Kebab studies.
SITE FOR SORE EYES
You may well have read the saga of ex-Info'Products employees setting up a Website to keep in touch with each other in the pages of yours truly recently. What a novel idea. After all, why shouldn't you use the technology for your own devices when you sell the stuff every day? It is amazing how much interest has been expressed about the site and just how many people have signed onto it. When PC Squealer first discovered it on 18 January, there were just 88 ex-staff online. Three days later, the number stood at 118.
And there are probably more yet to come out of the woodwork. Also, note the skeleton that heads up the site's contacts directory. Looks like the diet at Info'Products works far better than the fat-free torture currently going on in the Squealer office. More interesting, though, is the logo on the unofficial site, which is tactfully labelled Info'Products Offline, in reflection of the company's 'real' site name, Info'Products Online.
It is at this point, of course, that you have to make clear that any similarities end there.
CASH IN HAND
When a copy of Computacenter's latest cost cutting guide for IT managers landed on PC Squealer's desk, it prompted us into thinking about how we could manage our own costs a little better. Although our proposals failed to achieve any significant cost reductions, we found that we had much more time to play the network version of Quake.
DILBERT ON TOP
Who would be your ideal manager? Given the state of most UK offices, PC Squealer feels sure the majority of staff would choose a boss who could manage at least a basket full of kittens with some degree of competence.
But apparently standards in the management consultancy business aren't as high. A recent survey by Druid has shown many consultants regard Dilbert, the over-worked cartoon character, as a top management guru. This is surprising, since Dilbert's dog has more sense. But even odder is the fact that Dilbert was pipped to the top spot by Sir John 'Troubleshooter' Harvey-Jones. Nuff said, we think.
Computacenter Relative usefulness of various cost reduction techniques: % Outsourcing 15 Zero-administration kit 13 Windows-based terminals 20 Net PCs 20 Network computers 22 Server consolidation 30 System management tools 45 Ruthless standardisation 82 PC Squealer Relative usefulness of various cost reduction techniques: % Outsourcing sandwich run 23 Refusing to acknowledge receipt of faxes 33 Trashing e-mail entitled 'urgent press release' 33 Blocking incoming calls from students 38 Ignoring death threats 43 Banning the consumption of alcohol 77 Blocking incoming calls from PR reps 89 Ignoring reports on cost reduction techniques 100
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