Some of those who read the rather glowing article on outsourcing of British Airways' computer operations, penned by Bob Aylott of KPMG in the 3 February issue, felt compelled to write in and point out that only a fortnight earlier, on 20 January, travellers flying from Heathrow had suffered hours of disruption after BA's systems went into what one described as "total meltdown". As the grounded passenger put it: "Of course, all other airlines were running smoothly - could this be something to do with the fact that they rely on SITA systems? - but BA, of course, knows better."
While we are busy setting the record straight it may also be worth noting that IBM, taken to task in these pages a few weeks ago for frowning on intra-company relations, is not the only company actively trying to discourage so-called fraternisation among its employees. A source at Microsoft's Dublin software facility also fell foul of the corporate Sex Police, an unofficial but highly organised network of sneaks whose job it is to ensure that Microsoft remains a family firm in all but the biological sense of the word.
Mole can exclusively reveal that Microsoft's plans to move its UK headquarters from Winnersh to Thames Valley Park, a mere few minutes away, are a sham.
There has been no move. The company's disinformation machine broadcast the news partly to upset Oracle, whose staff were to face the prospect of sharing a gym, a bar and other facilities with their detestable new neighbours, and partly to avoid Department of Justice style problems with the British authorities. Of course, merely pretending to move is not enough, so Microsoft has taken a leaf out of Prince's book and dropped its name in favour of a purely visual identity.
Someone who drove past the old Microsoft building the other day noted that a new sign had been erected. It reads "Symbol", which stands, presumably, for "the company formerly known as Microsoft".
Whenever anyone in the computer industry reaches for a metaphor they almost invariably choose to compare whatever it is they are trying to illustrate with a motor car. In recent years, the connection between cars and computers is no longer just figurative as the vehicles we drive become more and more cluttered with microprocessors. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on plans by several companies to install yet more exotic devices in the family car.
A company called Clarion has announced that it is to offer a PC as an alternative to the factory-installed radio, but the newspaper failed to say what it would be used for, probably because the manufacturer's explanation was too ludicrous to entertain in a serious newspaper. There are of course some applications for an in-car computer that would be genuinely useful.
The ability to do remote reprogramming of traffic lights to ease one's journey into work is one example. Random number-plate generation - handy in the event of a high-speed chase involving the police - is another.
The applications foreseen by computer makers are more prosaic than this but also more terrifying. At the end of the article we learn that "Sun Microsystems is working on a PC that uses Java software to link all of a car's computer system, from braking to airbags to dashboard meters." Java - surely not? Picture the scene: there has been a terrible accident, the go-faster moron in the shiny suit steps unscathed from his crumpled BMW.
"Sorry officer, I saw the bloke pull out in front of me, but my brakes hadn't finished downloading when I ran into him."
Mole's disclosure last week that Bill Gates has acquired the rights to God has surprised no one - least of all God whose well-known omniscience makes Him a difficult chap to surprise. The news has however inspired some imaginative suggestions for MS God add-ons, most notably the Miracles suite of plug-ins for Internet Explorer. But will Microsoft be able to pull off the ultimate miracle and deliver bug-free versions of the product?
"The dead you are attempting to raise have stopped responding to the operating system," is typical of the sort of error message we can look forward to. And if five thousand friends suddenly descend on you expecting supper, don't rely on Excel to come to your aid. "The five loaves and two small fishes you tried to multiply have, due to an unexpected floating point error, become two small muffins and a jar of tuna paste."
Let he who is without sin cast the first muffin. It's still not too late to start praying.
As ever, Mole is on hand for spiritual guidance, personalised blessings and "quickie" exorcisms. Call him on 0171 316 9068 or put your faith in Email.
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