Downtime: Be hip and get in with the IT out crowd

IT is finally having its day in the sitcom sun with Channel 4’s latest Friday night offering, called The IT Crowd.

IT is finally having its day in the sitcom sun with Channel 4’s latest Friday night offering, called The IT Crowd.

Predictably enough, the show – which broadcasts on Channel 4 on 3 February and can be viewed a week earlier online – does not show the corporate IT department in the best of lights.

“The high-rise towers of Renham Industries are full of go-getters, success stories and winners… apart from in the basement,” goes the publicity blurb. You can see where this is heading.

“While their beautiful colleagues work upstairs in fantastic surroundings, the IT department – Jen, Roy and Moss – lurk below ground, scorned by their co-workers as geeky losers.”

The IT Crowd is written by Graham Linehan, who wrote Father Ted and Black Books, and Downtime was heard chuckling at a sneak preview, despite (or because of?) the cruel humour.

Andy Taylor, managing director of Channel 4’s new media division, said premiering the show online a week early was very suitable and called on corporate IT managers and systems administrators up and down the country to lap up The IT Crowd in the spirit in which it is intended.

“Unplug the phone, sit back and watch the show, safe in the knowledge that if anyone asks, you can say you were checking the functionality of a new streaming media technology!”

HSBC’s new way to keep track of its finances

Some objects are just that much more mobile than others. A mobile phone, say. Or a car. When satellite tracking technology was invented it is arguable that nobody could have foreseen that one day it would be used to track the movements of hefty, metal cash-dispensing boxes designed to sit permanently and securely in the fabric of a banking branch.

Believe it or not, the day is upon us. According to the Daily Mirror, HSBC is fitting selected cash machines with tracking devices and displaying signs next to the bugged cashpoints in an effort to deter those pesky ramraiders who, against all seeming logic, view ATMs as an easy target for ill-gotten cash.
HSBC has gone all shy about how many cashpoints have been fitted with the devices or how many ATMs have so far been lost to ramraiders. Presumably not all that many – or are there? Informed answers on a postcard, please.

One more thing. Apparently the Bank of Ireland’s extremely pragmatic response to ramraiding was to remove all the cash from ATMs when its branches were closed. Which rather defeats the object of a cashpoint, but there you have it.

Vent your spleen for £30 a pop at 100 Most Hated
Feeling seriously peeved at someone or something in the wider world? Well, now you can get it off your chest at the newly launched 100 Most Hated website.

For a mere £30 (not that Downtime has that kind of money, you understand) the site lets you nominate your particular bete noire and add a hyperlink to a website of your choice.

It is described by its founder as being for “all global citizens who are fed up with all of the scumbags in the public eye who are screwing up the planet, the cars that are polluting the planet, the most ridiculous websites and the crappiest products”.

The site only went live last week. Microsoft (quell surprise) was first in the virtual stocks.

Forget the ID cards, let’s have an iPod instead

A top IT man at the Department of Trade & Industry has floated a tantalising alternative to the government’s infamously expensive ID card plans – give everyone in the country an iPod equipped with a digital signature.

Patrick Cooper, who is head of applications and data services at the DTI, was speaking at a technology predictions event hosted by Adobe.

He made the point that, with network authentication and security such hot issues, one way to solve the problem would be to have a mobile phone or iPod equipped with a digital signature or digital certificate that you could dock with your PC.

While you were at it, Cooper reasoned, you might as well give everyone in the UK an iPod. Among other things, it would mean that there would be no reason for anyone to steal one because everyone would have one, he said. “You could do a lot with that, and we know it would be cheaper than the ID cards because the LSE told us so!”

The London School of Economics has calculated that the total cost of having a fully integrated national ID card scheme could be as high as £30bn – or £500 per person. iPod nanos, on the other hand, retail at about £140. You know it makes sense.

The Fab Four and Apple – the alternative version

Scott McNealy, Bill Joy, Andy Bechtolsheim, and Vinod Khosla – the “Fab Four” who founded Sun MicroSystems – were back together last week reminiscing about the good old days.

“As far as I know, we almost bought Apple once,” said Joy. “And we almost merged with Apple two other times.” Bet he wishes they had!

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