Y2K means 'why you pay'
Older readers may recall a schoolboy gag about constipated mathematicians, which ended with the punchline: "They work it out with a pencil and paper." Now there is a version of this joke available for the information age.
He is called Clive Grinyer, a director of Fitch Design Consultancy, and this is what he told trade magazine Information Week in a recent interview:
"I can't even go to the toilet without my Palm Pilot. I use it all the time and it means I don't have to carry bits of paper around with me.
It has been a tremendous solution to many of my problems ... Sitting down to do real work does require a real computer."
This wasn't the kind of convenience envisaged by 3Com's engineers as they laboured over the small but perfectly formed computer.
Also on the subject of toilet humour, Mole should have known better than to ask for David Beckham jokes. He has been inundated with offerings, many of them very funny but almost none of them printable. Among the best of the clean ones are the following. "What's the difference between an unmade Airfix model and David Beckham? One's a glueless kit ..."
"Beckham goes to a bar. Before he can speak the barman says, 'It wasn't your fault, have a pint on the house'. Beckham replies, 'Thanks, but just make it a half and I'll be off'."
Mole has also taken a little stick, though not perhaps quite as much as Mr Beckham, for the line "two cans stretched between a piece of string" in last week's column. What he meant to write, of course, was "a piece of string stretched between two cans". Mole has no excuse to offer for this slip - he must have been miles away - but knows he can rely on the compassion of readers not to kick a man when he's down.
Before we leave the subject of football behind us, earning the undying gratitude of those who thought PC Week was supposed to be about computers, Mole has stumbled upon the secret procedure by which FIFA selected this year's quarter-finalists (yes, it's a fix, you poor innocent fools). Spot the missing letter from this list:
Conclusive proof that England were cheated out of a place in the last eight.
As for the official fixer, a certain Danish referee, Mole has been sent the dastardly fellow's email address. Now it is by no means certain that the address is real and "test" messages aimed at it have so far had no response. If it is genuine, then it would be highly irresponsible of anyone to let this private address fall in to the wrong hands. Therefore, Mole can only urge readers not to send [email protected] abusive messages nor to divulge the address to anyone of a vindictive nature.
Microsoft (motto: Nothing is Our Fault) never usually owns up to anything, but the company's Lars Lindstedt, who glories in the mouth-watering title of finance sector systems engineer manager, made a rare admission of guilt at a seminar earlier this month, when he indulged the Nordic gift for understatement in acknowledging that Microsoft had been "a little slow" to tackle the year 2000 problem. Some of the attendees were later contacted with invitations to join Microsoft's Office 2000 beta programme - and nothing very noteworthy about that, were it not for the fact that many of the invitations had been franked to the tune of a measly 2p, leaving the recipients to fork out a further 30p in postage charges. Have Microsoft's systems been afflicted by the well-known second-class stamp bug (the so-called S20p problem)? It appears not. A company spokesman, invented by Mole to avoid having to print some dreary official response, said: "It's to get customers used to the idea that whatever solution we arrive at, they'll end up paying for it anyway." Fair enough, really.
Two further examples of millennial muddleheadedness, the first from a young man who has just filled in a grant form for university. The form, titled Grant Application 1998, which rules out the possibility of leftover stock from previous years, requested start and end dates for the course in boxes with the first two digits of the year already supplied - both dates prefixed with 19. Either he has signed up for a very short course or the millennium problem, previously thought to be restricted to computers, also affects paper.
The second example is from notebook dealer Portables Direct, which ran an advert in a computer magazine recently offering "fully year 200 compliant" products. This may look like a simple typographical error, but it isn't.
A company spokesman explained that in the interests of space- and weight-saving, the extra zero has been omitted from many manufacturers' notebook computers.
Your hairy correspondent will be sniffing around as usual next week.
Send him something pungent, preferably by Email, and earn a place in the Mole Hall of Shame.
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