Battle of twits
Good to see one of the country's leading financial institutions taking a robustly realistic view of the problems of running networks. A recent issue of Network News carried a story about the Abbey National's decision to "upgrade" its networks. The reason for the inverted commas should become clear from the following quote: "Abbey National has decided not to bank on NetWare and is ... migrating to Microsoft Windows NT ... The bank, however, said its decision would result in increased network downtime." The usual fiver to the first Abbey National insider to slip Mole a copy of what must have been a fascinating cost/benefit analysis.
If, like Microsoft, you require the services of a creative accountant, you could do worse than turn to Fraser Williams, a software company that specialises in "e-business and paperless trading". In a press release announcing its latest financial results, the company boasts of "doubling" its operating profits from "£101,000 last year to £2 million in 1999".
Using this understated measure of its growth, the company presumably hopes to persuade the Inland Revenue to tax it accordingly.
Another example of a company leading by example is Network Associates (NAI), the anti-virus software company that has been keen to promote itself as international scourge of the virus writer. It was NAI that took out advertisements in the press characterising the recent Melissa virus as a snake, which it claimed to have "skinned" and turned into a belt. With almost equal pride the company has been boasting about the launch of its new Web site at www.nai.com, but a quick visit reveals that there is not much to boast about. Check out the very latest updates to the company's anti-virus products, the very latest of which appears to be dated early May - anyone that uses anything this old would be entirely unprotected from Melissa and her pernicious cousin the ExploreZip virus.
Also amusing is that when one tries to download any of NAI's elderly updates, all one gets is the notorious "Error 404 - file not found" message.
In a telling footnote to all this, Mole is the proud owner of an NAI Melissa belt. He could not understand why his trousers kept falling down whenever he wore it. Now we know.
Quite what the next item reveals about the character of Microsoft staff, Mole leaves it to readers to decide, but if we're searching for the right adjective it's a tough choice between insensitive and childish. Earlier this month a group of Microsoft staff descended on New York as part of an elaborate role-playing game. In what the celebrated US publication the Village Voice described as an "annual exercise in paranoia", the players in "the Game" drive around in black vans toting cell phones, laptop computers and other gadgetry conducive to what the Voice called with transparent irony "a battle of wits".
This silly event usually passes off without incident, but this year things got out of hand when the pre-pubescent Microsoft employees left vials of a greenish liquid labelled "radioactive waste" in their hotel rooms.
No less than four different emergency services and security agencies were called to the scene where the mysterious green substance was eventually identified as Palmolive detergent.
The venue was the World Trade Center Marriot - a rather tactless choice, as the World Trade Center's director pointed out in a letter of complaint to Bill Gates, where he reminded the great man of the facility's recent problems with real terrorists. Amply demonstrating its maturity and magnanimity, Microsoft's official response was a terse one-liner to the effect that whatever it was that its staff were doing, they were doing it on their own time. "Nothing is our fault", as they say in Redmond.
A notice on the Web site run by Admiral Insurance reads: "Due to an exceptionally busy period, we are having to send some quotes by Royal Mail and not e-mail. Please check your post. Apologies for any inconvenience." Tempting as it may be to scoff at Admiral's IT staff, we must also applaud the dexterity of the company's clerical officers whose envelope handling skills must be the stuff of legend.
Mole is always pleased to get letters, but call him old-fashioned, he finds e-mail quicker and more convenient.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago