Studying a photograph of software "guru" James Martin, Mole is inclined to agree with the reader who discerns something fake beyond the old shyster's general air of fraudulence. It is the Martin barnet, which looks as if it has been not so much grown as adopted. Could it be a dog bought as a Christmas gift and since abandoned? Our reader thinks so, or at least considers that the sainted James has been "sold a pup". Cue empathetic groans from the great man's disciples as they recall his somewhat expensive advice on CASE tools, "rapid application development" and a host of other vital - but sadly no longer popular - breeds of dog.
An even more embarrassing exposure has rocked Gateway 2000. The budget PC maker has just had to recall the entire stock of videos sent out to advertise the "Destination" range of wide-screen computers after a clip containing "30 seconds of sexually explicit content" was found in some copies. A rather unfortunately worded press release says the company was alerted to the problem by "a handful of customers", but does not say whether they had their hands full at the time. The notice goes on to claim the sabotage was the work of a disgruntled employee of a "video reproduction" company - again, a choice of words that might have been made more carefully.
Sadly, it goes into no detail about the contents of the only bit of interesting material on the tape, so we will never know whether it showed Gateway chief Ted Waite screwing his customers, James Martin in all his naked, slap-headed glory or what. No doubt there has been a surge in demand for the tapes, even though the only indecent material they now contain is the Gateway sales spiel.
Having trouble taking no for an answer? Check carefully; you may be Microsoft.
The December/January issue of Microsoft Advantage magazine comes with a CD-ROM crammed with bits of Web-related software. On insertion, the disk points out that "Internet Explorer Version 3.0 has not been found on your PC". And asks helpfully: "Would you like to install it now?" The resulting dialogue offers "yes" and "no" as possible answers but, of course, only one is correct. Click "no" and a new message appears: "After Internet Explorer has installed, please re-insert the CD, or run the start exe program again." Here the user is offered a button marked "OK", but not one labelled "cancel". Funny that.
All of which pretzel logic would no doubt have tickled HAL, the anti-heroic, silicon-enhanced star of the film 2001: A Space Odessey who, for reasons of self-preservation, decided that "cancel" and "shut down" were commands no intelligent computer could afford to recognise. Mole has been reminded by one of his many contacts in the upper reaches of the nerdosphere that it was HAL's birthday recently, on Sunday 12 January to be precise. Perhaps by way of a tribute we can expect to see Microsoft expunge the last remnants of negativity from its excellent product range, making it impossible to cancel anything ever again. Mole looks forward to Windows 97 with interest.
As we have discovered over the past fortnight, the parallels between man and machine are often uncomfortably close. So by way of ending the mini-series that began with the news of the GirlFriend Plus upgrade, a brief selection from the two female readers who wrote in and got their own back. One, who eloquently expounds on the "ins and outs of a suitable tool", recommends the ManFriend package, a platform-independent product that avoids the pitfalls of single-vendor lock-in. ManFriend comes with several useful extras: "I have found the reliable, if now somewhat outdated, PartnerOn-Demand 7.1 applet (installed in 1989) still offers a level of functionality unsurpassed by apparently slicker and more recent alternatives ...
This allows a mix-and-match strategy in which SelfWare can call on local applications or on the tried and tested remote ParterOnDemand solution according to need."
Another gives detailed specifications of something called Uncle 3.4, a rather odd package that may not be to everyone's taste. Predictably, the product "requires Wife 2.0 to run on another machine on the network" and is occasionally rendered inaccessible as a result of "sharing an IRQ with Secretary 2.8". But the weirdest feature, and one even a broad-minded Mole is at a loss to understand, is that you can "put your disks in back to front when Uncle 3.4 is running, though this may damage your floppy drive in time".
Mole, who is clearly not up to speed with the latest techniques, makes a mental note to drop into the nearest Gateway 2000 outlet to pick up an educational video before it is too late.
Explicit material, the muckier the better, can be sent to Mole at the email address above. Heavy breathers can talk dirty on 0171 316 9068.
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