GM feeling ticked off over gas guzzling ad

Downtime has tried but failed to summon up surprise that General Motors' latest viral marketing wheeze - launching a contest that lets visitors to its website create their own commercial for the gas-guzzling Chevy Tahoe "sports utility vehicle" - hasn't quite gone to plan.

Downtime has tried but failed to summon up surprise that General Motors' latest viral marketing wheeze - launching a contest that lets visitors to its website create their own commercial for the gas-guzzling Chevy Tahoe "sports utility vehicle" - hasn't quite gone to plan.

Rather than using the ad-making tool to extol the virtues of the vehicle, thousands of entries submitted at the site have charged General Motors with contributing to global warming with its oversized contribution to the US motoring scene.

One typical effort uses shots of the Tahoe zooming through snow, mountains and desert along with the words, "Global warming isn't a pretty SUV ad. It's a frightening reality."

With the less-than-complimentary entries rolling in fast, General Motors said it would screen the ads for "offensive and inflammatory" content but pledged not to remove material just for "negative tone" towards the firm.

Hoof dares wins as staff take a punt online

It looks like office workers up and down the country were a little distracted from their core duties last week, in the lead up to Saturday's Grand National.

According to ScanSafe, the excuse for an annual flutter that is the National was reflected in a huge increase in visits to gambling websites during office hours. One corporate customer of ScanSafe's web monitoring and security services had an employee who spent nearly two hours on one particular gambling site. And Downtime is guessing he or she isn't the only one.

One thing that did come up is that the horse most often searched for by straying employees was Hedgehunter, which was searched for 130 times in a single day by employees in just a single firm.

As Downtime went to press, Hedgehunter was still the favourite for the race, but, barring some unforeseen events, you will of course know by now whether or not you won that pound-a-go office sweepstake.

The devil makes work for systems analysts

An advert posted recently on the IT jobs boards of Computer People may have raised a few eyebrows.

The ad, for a systems analyst, specified that whoever took the job would be required to take "business requirements from business analysts and analyse them to a certain evil in conjunction with the technical architects".

The idea sounds a little wide of the mark - unless Satan himself is in the process of building up an IT team to do his dirty work.

If so, don't forget you heard it here first.

The life and times of a computer character

Not before time, the world's best-known computer game character, Lara Croft, has gone through a makeover in the latest Tomb Raider computer game.

For this outing, Lara's famously pneumatic breasts have gone down a size - from 36D to 36C - to be replaced by a more athletic and streamlined figure with a bit more about her than her improbable hourglass shape.

"People wanted to know more about who Lara is and what makes her tick, so we have answered a few questions, including a flashback to her youth," one of the game's helpfully explains.

But let's not get too carried away, we are still talking about a character in a computer game.

Obviously readers of Computer Weekly are far too busy for such frivolousness, but their younger, less time-starved relatives may be interested to know that Tomb Raider: Legend is now on sale.

Never mind the internet, we're cavemen at heart

Three universities have been handed £500,ooo between them to look at the whether the rise of technology is helping or hindering the creation of healthy social networks and communities.

Researchers at Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield Hallam universities will use the cash to fund a project based on the theories of evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, who reckons that human beings, from cave dwellers to the present day, naturally congregate in groups of about 150 as a by-product of our evolutionary history.

Downtime has to admit it isn't in a position to subject Dunbar's theories to the most rigorous critique, but will instead watch with interest from the sidelines at how that cool half million gets spent.

Alistair Sutcliffe, a professor from the School of Infomatics at the University of Manchester claims the research has "huge implications", and Downtime can only hope he is right.

Sutcliffe says that policymakers in particular are "hugely concerned" with the disintegration of social capital. On this basis, he and his cohorts plan to look at how "technology can form the glue for economic and social communities around the globe".

In Downtime's admittedly jaundiced view, this sounds like an excellent excuse for lots of interesting foreign travel.

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