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Downtime: pantomime, rats, life on Mars

Symantec pioneers the pantomime pitch

To say that a company "eats its own dog food" is to say that it uses the products that it makes. For many prospective customers it is the first and last endorsement an IT supplier should make.

However, some companies, such as Symantec, appear to have forgotten this mantra, creating in the process what Downtime has dubbed the pantomime pitch.

During a presentation to announce Symantec's latest product, a spokesman for the company delivered an enthusiastic pitch to a roomful of big name clients. Indeed, such was the emphasis on the "uniqueness" of his company's offering that attendees could have been forgiven for thinking that no one else made anti-virus software.

Thankfully, visual aids were on hand to gently remind all present that "unique" in the marketing world should generally be accompanied by a "quite", or more accurately a "not".

During the wrap-up to his presentation, the spokesman was forced to query collective laughs, and quite possibly shouts of "it's behind you", by turning to face his presentation screen.

He found the source of their amusement in the form of a prominent pop-up box, obscuring his Powerpoint presentation, stating that the rival Kaspersky anti-virus software loaded on the machine he was using to present had updated its definitions.

Oops.

Scientists point to better times for rat community

There is something furry lurking in the datacentre and it is not the network manager's sandwich that got lost behind the server rack five years ago.

US scientists, presumably the scientists with very little else to do, have discovered that the collective use of rodents running in wheels can be used to generate enough electricity to power the average desktop for at least 30 minutes.

Although not cause enough to throw away that "legacy" power cord just yet, it might have implications for IT in the future.

While not a practical option for your average multi-national, Downtime confidently predicts that rat-powered PCs will be the future for the home.

It would certainly make visiting your local PC World a more interesting experience. Downtime imagines a whole range of cute rat accessories. Rat running shoes anybody?

With a quick call to green activists Sheryl Crow, or possibly Al Gore, we could solve two major world problems.

First, cut energy consumption, second, raise the profile of the common rat, for too long unfairly stigmatised for its role in that rather regrettable business, the Black Death.

Surely it is time to forgive and forget.

Mars trip proves a tricky sell for travel agents

Given that last week's column highlighted the inherent dangers of space travel - namely, having your oxygen and water levels determined by the IT department safely on the ground - Downtime fears we may have put off any would-be astronauts at just the wrong time.

The European Space Agency is seeking volunteers for a simulated trip to Mars, where a crew of six will spend 17 months of unrelenting boredom in an isolation tank.

The tank will be manufactured to simulate the environment of Mars with its barren landscape, average temperature of -50C° and an atmosphere of 95% carbon dioxide. Travel agents have described it as fresh and unspoilt.

Reports that network administrators have been bombarding the space agency with pleas to get on board are, as yet, unconfirmed.

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