As Mole scanned the job pages, an advert from Cap Gemini caught his eye. It features Cap consultant Maggie Driscoll and describes how she went for a swim with a school of basking sharks while on a diving trip off the coast of Cornwall. The point of the ad is to illustrate the courage of Cap employees, courage being one of the virtues to which the company aspires. Basking sharks, the ad informs us, "are 12m long and have huge gaping mouths", but they are also, it goes on to explain "completely harmless".
This, of course, rather destroys the point of the story, illustrating not so much Ms Driscoll's courage as her knowledge of sharks.
What next for the acquisitive Cable & Wireless? According to a press release that may or may not be satirical sent to Mole by a C&W insider, the company has negotiated a joint venture with McDonalds, purveyor of rapid comestibles.
Like many a C&W deal, this one has a logic it is hard to argue with: "1) C&W staff already spend much of their time in McDonald's and are familiar with the product range. 2) C&W has already successfully entered the litter market via phonecards."
It continues: "The alliance will be created through C&W taking a 0.2% stake in McDonald's at a cost of approximately $43 billion. C&W will have the right to appoint a manager to the St Paul's branch of McDonald's.
Ronald McDonald will join the C&W board. (C&W chairman) Dick Brown said, 'The deal may seem expensive, but McDonald's has the marketing skill to enable us to become a major force in world telecommunications. Ronald McDonald's experience and towering intellect will be an asset to the board.'"
That should be enough to satisfy prospective shareholders.
Another, rather more serious document seen by Mole might somewhat blunt their appetite for C&W shares. It contains statistics on international failure rates for a number of national telecoms administrations. During 1996, Mercury (now C&W Communications) enjoyed the third highest failure rate in the world - only France and Germany did worse. To add to the humiliation, countries with a reputation for truly awful telecommunications fared much better (India was fifth in the failure league and Italy seventh). Worse still, C&W's arch-enemy BT appears well down the table at number nine.
In an analysis of individual international routes, C&W also managed to make it into the losers' premier division. Last year, the company's wholly owned and very expensive PTAT transatlantic optical fibre voice/data link to the USA was the world's third most unreliable route.
Before C&W's lawyers get on the phone - assuming they can find one that works - Mole should point out that the statistics come from C&W's own staff.
In Europe it is common to blame the poor rate of development of electronic commerce on governments. It may be true that in some areas, such as Internet banking, state regulation is hindering progress, but in the wider sphere of electronic commerce the real villains are not our legislators, but IT suppliers who continue to be as backward as ever. By way of illustration, Mole would like to cite Viscount Chelmsford, who is singularly unimpressed by the failure of suppliers to practice what they preach. His lordship resorted to verse to make his point in the debate on the Lords' Science and Technology Committee report The Information Society: Agenda for Action in the UK:
Reducing paper is our aim,
We hear the IT men proclaim;
Yet when they put this into prose,
Their use of paper is verbose;
Instead of halving what is used,
The tree gets doubly abused,
Oh, for the skilful written brief
On two short pages - for relief!
As president of both the IDPM and the Electronic Commerce Association, Viscount Chelmsford definitely does know what he's talking about.
It doesn't always pay to think ahead. Someone who sent a message to a news group with his system clock accidentally set to 2096 discovered that the message crashed computers running Netscape Navigator under Windows 95. Further investigations reveal that any date beyond 2038 produces a slew of unwanted side-effects in Windows 95. This is extremely bad news for Mole and anyone else who plans to postpone the pain of an operating system upgrade for at least another 41 years.
Programming error messages continue to provide a rich source of nourishment for lovers of the absurd. The following delightful but fundamentally unhelpful tautology was produced by Javascipt: "undefined is not defined".
And finally, this week's gratuitous joke. What's the difference between a shark and a consultant? One is a vicious, flesh-eating scavenger, the other a fish.
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