There have been some strange bedfellows in the chequered history of the IT industry, but Mole has discovered what may be the strangest yet, an informal marketing alliance between a maker of graphics cards and a company selling rather less glamourous products.
If you head for the Web site at www.ati.com expecting to find ATI you will find yourself at a site called Just Poop where, for only $7.95, you can buy a highly realistic piece of mock excrement fashioned from finest brown plastic.
A message on the Just Poop homepage cheerfully acknowledges the confusion caused by its address and kindly displays the official ATI logo together with a link to the company's Web site.
Quite why ATI continues to sully its good name by associating with a supplier of artificial faeces is unclear when Just Poop could almost certainly be persuaded to go away and give up the ati.com address for as little as a few thousand dollars. If there is an official explanation, Mole would love to hear it.
For reasons best known to himself, an elderly and rather barmy friend of Mole's recently wrote to Microsoft requesting the French language edition of Windows 98. Shortly afterwards he was pleased to get a letter from Microsoft, also in French, advising him of the availability date. In an English translation which came with the letter, Microsoft makes a far more interesting offer. It reads: "French Widows will be released and your consignment will be sent to you shortly." Mole's pal is barely able to contain his excitement.
As the millennium looms it is time once again to reflect on the many benefits delivered to humanity by the past four decades of technological development. Here is a message sent to regular PC Week contributor Brian Clegg from a Frenchman warning that the "cul" in the Web address of Brian's company has vulgar connations for native French speakers. Apologising for his non-existent English, the writer relies instead on translation software. Here's the result - and you have Mole's assurance that not a word has been changed:
"Please allow the transfer, I use a mechanical software because I very English of cannot. On the 14eme, in the porque one, I slap a search with the form returned www.cul.co.uk. Then to say to you, cul is a bad French word? It average rest-on the flesh of the rectum of anybody. Since this, cannot think you the need to want the nation French with the arrangement of creative. Thus I give to help in all fraternity, to think please for the change. Familiar the most pleasant, Henri."
Mole remarked the other week on the interesting reaction of Microsoft Word to the phrase "unable to follow directions", for which the very loose, not to say flaccid, translation offered by the thesaurus is "unable to have an erection". Amusing though it is, no one would claim this curiosity is terribly important or significant. No one except the terminally humourless Microsoft, which has taken the ill-judged step of issuing an official statement about it. A typical sample reads: "This is simply a coincidence; there is no bug in the thesaurus, nor is this some sly joke sneaked in by one of our developers!" Needless to say, the inevitable conclusion of anyone reading this desperate rubbish will be that there is either a bug in the thesaurus or that one of the developers has sneaked in a sly joke. The statement ends with a promise to fix the "problem", ostensibly to avoid offending sensitive customers, but actually designed to restore Microsoft's injured manly pride. A spokesman told Mole: "This has never happened to me before. It's just that I've been under a lot of strain recently ..."
The insurance industry has more to fear from the millennium than most, and the sound of hatches being furiously battened down is growing louder by the day. A contractor working on a millennium project at a large company wrote to Mole about the difficulties he was experiencing in obtaining cover against possible legal action arising from his work. Declining to issue the contractor with a policy, Royal SunAlliance wrote "In view of the anticipated millennium and associated IT problems, we are not looking to take on any new business in your field." Hardly a vote of confidence in the poor contractor, who is doing his level best to fix millennium problems at, er, Royal SunAlliance.
You may recall Mole grumbling about nuisance calls from a doggedly persistent firm that trades under the name City Financial Partners. Since he mentioned the company, which seems to specialise in annoying IT professionals, he has had numerous calls and messages from other sufferers, many of whom are intrigued to know where CFP gets its lists from. Pressed by one of Mole's colleagues to reveal where CFP had obtained his name, a salesman let slip: "You must have been at the Microsoft event, then". Is Microsoft flogging details of journalists who attend its press conferences or are CFP's unbearably pushy salespeople infiltrating the company's events?
Either way, being associated with this obnoxious organisation is going to do CFP no good at all.
Engineers at Sony have invented a robot dog capable of obeying simple commands such as "sit". So far, so pointless, but the so-called dogbot also features the ability to replace the head and various body parts - useful in cases of accidental damage or when the owner is keen to keep up with advances in robot dog head and body part technology. Lack of limb interchangeability is, if you think about it, the main drawback of conventional dogs, so Sony's latest brilliant invention could well catch on. If so, there is certain to be an aftermarket for dogbot add-ons. Mole calls his broker with instructions to buy every available share in Just Poop.
For further details of the investment opportunity of a lifetime write enclosing a cheque for #5,000 to Molesoft Financial Services (Cayman Islands) Ltd.
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