Friday fun: The filthy foundations of the IT industry

So, you've brought out a new broadband service and you want people to sign up with you. What do you do?

a) Advertise heavily
b) Undercut your competition
c) Talking about getting pubic hair stuck in keyboards.

Yup, "c" of course. That at least is the rather unusual tack taken by UK Online. And it worked. Well, it got a few sites writing about how disgusting your keyboard is and how you should be ashamed of yourself.

Of course, it's all typical PR nonsense. UK Online did a "survey" and found that people were eating meals at their computer. Then it did its own tests on "a selection of computer keyboards"- and hey presto! Keyboards are 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. Toilet seats as well! Would you really want to work at UK Online when your every movement (bowel and otherwise) is whisked away to a sterile lab for analysis?

But it gets weirder - the ISP then starts handing out health advice: "Despite continued warnings about obesity and unhealthy eating habits it appears that the vast majority of the UK's workforce and home surfers are still eating the wrong foods." And it tells you off if you don't wash your hands enough.

Do you get the feeling that UK Online has just hired someone from the health sector to head up their advertising? Just wait for the next campaign: "Do you *know* you don't have a sexually transmitted disease? Get our website hosting deal and find out."

Chips on the dancefloor

It's nearly Xmas again, and that can mean only one thing - yes, appalling office parties. But whether this year you will be the person that abuses the boss, shags the nymphomanic secretary or vomits on the buffet, you'll have nothing on the disco divas at Intel.

So dance-crazed are the company's engineers that they have built their own mirrorball for the Xmas party to give it the full ambience. And being engineers, they used whatever came to hand first. In this case, hundreds of projection-TV chips left hanging about after Intel's aborted efforts in the digital TV market.

Intel was mad-keen on digital TV last year. As was Microsoft. But then they both realised that no one in the TV industry could care less about them and their swamp-and-conquer approach to business failed miserably. Still, at least the staff get to enjoy the fruits of their wasted labour.

TV's dying - hopefully

But if TV has enough to blame for enough already [watching emotionally retarded ex-celebrities collapsing at the merest sight of an insect? - Ed], there may be a saviour in the wings - our old friend the Internet.

According to Jupiter (the company, not the planet), the Net is threatening TV with its very success. An incredible 27 percent of European Internet users are spending less time watching TV and more surfing the Web!

It gets worse - 40 percent of broadband users said they spend less time watching TV since using the Web. This is catastrophic. Whatever will the hordes of self-obsessed little Tristrams do if they can't bug the entire country with their meaningless drivel? Well, hopefully they will be put to good use as ambassadors of Western society in Iraq. Armed only with a customer survey clipboard and a Busted-style haircut, these brave pioneers will be driven into insurgents hotspots, pushed out the back and left to charm.

However, if TV does want to stop its impending doom thanks to the Web, it does have one easy solution: put something worth watching on the box.

One box worth having

But boxes are just for televisual entertainment - they can contain all sorts of things: CDs, tortoises, dead bodies, or even a WHOPPING HUGE 1.6TB HARD DRIVE!!!

Yep, Maxtor is offering a monster external USB drive for PCs that can contain, well, pretty much everything you've got in an electronic format twice over.
And all for just over £1,500 (in fact, 300,00 Yen).

But wait! Just before you get your credit card out, let's have a little look in that box shall we? And what do we find inside but four Maxtor 400GB drives made up to look like a 1.6TB drive. That's a pretty bloody sneaky if you ask us. What's to stop you sticking four drives in an USB expansion socket?

It's the size of a shoebox, apparently. And it probably costs the same as the pair of shoes your wife is going to buy for herself while Christmas shopping tomorrow, so why not treat yourself as well?

This story, "Friday fun: The filthy foundations of the IT industry" was originally published by

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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