Downtime: He may be rich, but he knows how to spend it

Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle, may be one of the world's richest men, but it appears he is as bad with money as the rest of us.

He may be rich, but he knows how to spend it

Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle, may be one of the world's richest men, but it appears he is as bad with money as the rest of us.

The San Francisco Chronicle reckons it has seen e-mails that show how Ellison's lavish lifestyle is giving his accountant sleepless nights. Believe it or not, Ellison is said by the paper to have routinely taken his personal credit close to its limit of more than £560m.

Downtime has been known to be financially reckless on occasion, but still thinks Ellison's financial right-hand man Philip Simon is a model of restraint when faced with spending on this scale.

"I am worried, Larry," he noted calmly. "I think it is imperative that we start to budget and plan." And he is not talking about getting £20 out of the cashpoint on a Monday and seeing if you can make it last until Friday.

In the past three years, Ellison has spent £110m on a new yacht and bought homes in Malibu thought to have set him back £100m, as well as a Japanese-style estate complete with a reproduction 17th century teahouse for another £110m. And then there was a further £10m frittered away by the big guy on "miscellaneous lifestyle expenses". Which Downtime would like to think is easily done - but how, exactly?

Alaska's happiest failure comes to a six-year close

You might have thought the Y2K bug was consigned to history when the clock struck midnight at the turn of the millennium, but in Alaska it has taken a little longer to put the issue to bed.

When the hype was at its peak, the state's authorities decided in their wisdom to bring in a law that granted local businesses limited immunity arising from Y2K-induced problems. It did this by blocking lawsuits against Alaskan firms if they could demonstrate having made a good-faith attempt to prepare for the bug.

Six years on, that law has only just expired - but in the intervening months and years there is not one instance of it being invoked.

"It is the happiest failure of a bill I have ever known," said local statesman Norman Rokeberg. "But if I recall the tenor of the discussions, no one could say with any certainty that it would not happen."

As Downtime recalls, the one certainty was that IT directors got the systems they wanted, when they wanted them - and for a golden year or two the board danced to the tune of the boys and girls in the basement. Happy days.

Now you can have your Windows and eat it too

Quite why someone felt inspired to create a Windows-themed bento box (pictured) is beyond us, but we have to say it is a sterling effort. One wag was heard to ask whether the rice-based Windows logo went down as well as the operating system.

ID card please, ma'am... or is that sir?

Home Office minister Lady Scotland of Asthal has revealed that transsexuals who have yet to have a sex change operation will be entitled to two ID cards under the terms of the government's ID Cards Bill.

One of the cards would be in the gender of their birth while the other would be in their legally acquired "gender of designation".

At first glance it might sound like a perk, but given the likely costs involved, it is a sizeable financial hit for anyone who thinks they might need both. Not surprisingly, there is no word yet on multi-buy discounts from the government.

Godly by name, and goodly by nature

David Godly, a blind man from Weston-super-Mare who specialises in adapted technology, has seen off the competition to scoop a national volunteering award.

At the CSV Year of the Volunteer awards held last month in London, Godly was named the top volunteer in the country in the Inspiration category for his work as a volunteer and trustee for the Woodspring Association for Blind People.

Godly combines volunteering with his interest in IT and computers by teaching visually impaired people how to use technical equipment such as specially adapted PCs, large-keyed telephones, and talking microwaves and watches.

Peer-to-peer action forces drastic measures

The music industry might like us to believe it is closing in on people who swap files via peer-to-peer, but here is conclusive evidence that the phenomenon is as ubiquitous as ever.

Downtime learned this week that file sharing is so popular at the University of Manchester, which has 11,500 student rooms on its one-site campus, that the university has been forced into radical action to manage its network. Nearly all the available bandwidth was being used by file-sharers, so the university has brought in software designed specifically to remove peer-to-peer traffic, and reports that since taking the step the network is performing fine.

It is safe to assume that the university's IT department is not the most well-loved on campus at the moment.

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