IT administrator to be new 'Noddy Holder'
An IT systems administrator is to be the replacement for Noddy Holder in next year's tour by Slade. Fifty-three year old Mal McNulty of Tertio Service Management Solutions earned the right to stand in for the West Midlands rock legend, who is concentrating on his acting career, during a nine-year stint fronting Sweet.
Tertio's IT department has been able to savour McNulty's stagecraft at first hand. He was lead singer for the firm's in-house band Inhuman Resources.
McNulty said, "There are similarities between singing for Slade and being an IT systems administrator. Most musicians are electronically minded and IT, like music, is a language for expression and creativity."
Downtime wonders what "expression and creativity" McNulty identified in Slade's best known work - the 1973 number one Merry Christmas Everybody.
Monster computing grid prepares to boldly go
The world's largest computing grid is being built in an effort to solve the mysteries of outer space. With its rather alarming monicker, the Large Hadron Collider is due to be completed in Geneva in 2007, when it will officially be the biggest scientific machine on the planet.
Once up and running, it will process 15 petabytes - that is 15 million gigabytes - of data a year, drawing on 150 different grid sites around the world.
According to a British researcher, one of the Large Hadron Collider's main tasks will be to "smash protons and ions in a bid to help scientists study dark matter." After trawling through our inbox, Downtime could tell them a thing or two about dark matter.
E-mail forges ahead with world domination
The insidious march of e-mail continues. After Bob Geldof's rant last month, exhorting us all to down our e-mail in favour of the phone or a face-to-face, research this week seems to confirm his worst fears.
According to Symantec, the volume of e-mail has grown by 47% in the past 12 months and for many office workers it is increasingly dominating the working day. For some people, it seems, nearly half their working lives are taken up with staring at e-mails.
That is not as implausible as it sounds. The research found that in extreme cases some staff are sending up to 350 e-mails a day and receiving 450.
So how about it, Mr Gates? Simple-to-use, idiot-proof e-mail filtering technology, please.
Student brings gift of sound to air guitars
Aspiring rock gods who are short of a guitar now have a friend in Finnish computer science student Aki Kanerva. He has developed a system that allows air guitarists the world over to see their excitable finger-waving transformed into "guitar music" with the help of a specially designed pair or gloves, a video camera and a home PC.
None of the reports mentioned whether the resulting music is worthy of that term. Downtime doubts it, somehow, particularly in the light of Kanerva's enthusiastic explanation, "I wasn't a guitarist before I started the project but I am now!"
His next project might involve state-of-the-art sound-proofing, Downtime humbly suggests.
Aliens threaten internet with rogue signals
Be afraid. Aliens could, it seems, bring the internet to a halt using a distributed denial of service attack, according to a physicist at the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Richard Carrigan has warned the University of California's Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti) project that any signals it discovers could cause havoc if distributed across the internet. Thousands of PCs around the world process signals from outer space, and if Seti ever finds an alien signal, it would have first distributed it across the internet.
OK, so it is not the stuff of sleepless nights but Downtime for one is a tad worried.
Microsoft develops teleportation device
After several years of failing to pioneer emerging technologies, Microsoft has developed the first device in an entirely new technology: teleportation.
An R&D manager at the firm's research facility at Cambridge was recently asked, jokingly, whether Microsoft could teleport people. Taking the question seriously, he said they could only teleport single atoms.
Downtime confidently expects things to develop quickly from here. Beam me up, Billy.
I can't believe it's not too difficult to spread
As we all know, technology is in the business of life enhancement, and here is a winner. The Butterwizard is a butter dish that boasts an integrated fan and chip, which allows it to heat or cool the butter for optimum spreadability.
For Downtime, which is well supplied with gadgetry but always looking to add to its collection, it sounds like £35 well spent. Roll on Christmas.