Downtime: The other person knows you are waiting...


Downtime: The other person knows you are waiting...

The other person knows you are waiting…

Heavens knows landing a timely booking for a phone engineer is sometimes tricky. But Computer Weekly reader Jon Steel was taken aback when his attempts to get an ADSL line moved not very far saw him offered a BT appointment in July 2026.

Steel is doing his best to stay sanguine about the proposed lead time. "I would hope that with 20 years to prepare, the work involved shouldn't take too long," was his admirably stoic response.

We're not skiving - just correcting the balance

A strong sense of déjà vu accompanied the latest HP-commissioned research to hit our inbox. The study - this time into the phenomenon of "cyber-socialising" - is just the latest volume in what must now be a library of reports throwing doubt on whether the IT revolution is really making us more productive, or just more distracted.

HP says more than 40% of office workers admit to spending more time "cyber-socialising" via e-mail and instant messaging than ensuring work is completed.

Similar numbers - mostly the same people, Downtime would boldly suggest - admit to prioritising personal tasks above business responsibilities while at work, and to being regularly distracted while recovering from nights out, or daydreaming about future social plans.

HP is not about to crack the whip on bosses' behalf, however. Chris Sopp, an HP data storage manager, says, "Workers are finding ways of correcting the work/life balance." Which is an unusually understanding way of putting it.

And workplace psychologist David Lewis weighed in by saying that socialising in business hours was used by workers to compensate for a reduction in face-to-face socialising due to long hours at work.

Downtime, of course, sincerely hopes you aren't catching up on all this touchy-feely nonsense while sat at your desk, you workshy layabout. Get back to work!

Support hardens behinda floppy sign of the times

Last month, reader Will McMeechan asked whether it was time for software developers to update the floppy disc "save" icon to something more current, but nearly all of you beg to differ.

Simon Harrowing says the bottom line is that old things are more recognisable than new.

"Think of road signs. They need to be universally recognisable, but the sign for a speed camera is for an old-fashioned concertina-type camera of the type most people under 50 would have only seen in museums and books. Equally the sign for a railway crossing shows a really old-style steam train."

If either of these signs were to be updated to reflect the look of current technology, drivers would really come unstuck, he says, being faced with "unidentifiable lozenge-shaped blobs".

Several of you said sticking with the current save icon would have the added benefit of affording older workers the opportunity to bore quizzical young upstarts with tales from yesteryear.

Osama will just have todo without his Oracle

It is heartening to know that Oracle stands squarely behind Bush and Blair in the war against terror.

The firm's licence agreement for the free version of its database for individual use asks that you confirm you are not a terrorist.

In the small print, you must agree you are not a citizen or resident of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and are not named on any of the US Treasury's lists of "specially designated nationals, specially designated terrorists, and specially designated narcotic traffickers".

So that's all right then.

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