When users suddenly flood the helpdesk with complaints of lost network connections, IT quickly learns that two devices on the network seem to have the same IP address. But it takes hours of rebooting servers, power-cycling routers and pulling patch cables before he pinpoints the problem: a network patch cable is pinned under the leg of a desk. “The user said the cable kept getting in the way,” says IT, “so she wanted to keep it in one place by placing the desk on the cable.”


Looking for a soul mate or a business partner, but fed up with going to parties and conventions where you waste your time talking to strangers who induce no excitement, only yawns? The answer: intelligent tags. These are wearable computers which compare your personal data with those of others around you, tell you who would make an interesting match, advise you where that individual is located and whether he or she is available for a chat or just wants to swap contact details. Prototypes of the first tag were tested at a technology convention in which participants wore a small device, about the size of an electronic personal assistant, around their necks communicating by infrared link. The tag, compares employment history, professional interests and personal hobbies, and alerts their wearer whenever a good match is close by.


Callers put on hold to Parliament House in Canberra over the last few weeks could be forgiven for thinking they had been put through to a moonshine hoedown in the back hills of Kentucky judging by the current offering of hold muzak. Awaiting conversation with an operative of IT Minister Daryl Williams’ office, CW was greeted with a thoroughly thigh-slapping hillbilly banjo solo that filled the duration of the eight or so minutes. Over at Philip Ruddock’s office, it was line-dancing time with some progressive rockin’ country. Asked about the switch from more established hold tunes, an unnamed parliamentary receptionist told Computerworld that the new muzak was meant to be “a little more cheerful”, but confessed that it had been greeted with mixed results by callers. “It certainly gets a reaction, that’s for sure,” the strained but ever courteous receptionist said.

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