IT Business Elsewhere: Toner from heaven

Following the relocation of IncaGold, a computer games licensing and development company, to the Isle of Man, the local government aims to attract tech workers and software developers to the

Irish Sea outpost. The island’s director of e-business touts several reasons why technology companies should move there, including low corporate taxes, grants to companies that relocate and broadband coverage. But one stumbling block is companies tend to cluster in geographically advantageous locations like London.

Elsewhere in the UK, British Telecom has appealed a ruling ordering it to stop using “”dirty tricks”” to persuade customers from switching phone providers. Last November, telecoms regulator Oftel upheld a complaint from Thus and Broadsystem Ventures Ltd. preventing BT from using information about the transfer of customers to alternative telecoms suppliers such as One.Tel and Tele2. Oftel discovered that BT — in the habit of calling customers who had decided to move to rival operators — was using this information to convince people to stay with the UK’s No. 1 telco.

Finland’s mobile services watchdog forced a company to shut down a service promising to answer people’s prayers with a text message apparently sent by Jesus. The company, which has not been named, offered answers from Jesus in response to a text message prayer at the cost of US$1.52 per message. One Finnish tabloid testing the service before it was shut down received the answer: “”Remember: unless you follow God’s will much better than priests and pharaohs, you will not be allowed into the heavenly kingdom.””

Anyone who thinks they can successfully create an e-commerce venture today would need an extraordinary degree of faith, so perhaps it’s no wonder a group of monks based in the United States have gotten into the laser printer business. According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, LaserMonks has seen its gross revenue soar from about US$2,000 in 2002 to about US$500,000 in 2003. Projected 2004 sales are three to four times higher still. Their secret? A reputation for great customer service and a try-before-you-buy offer., you haven’t got a prayer.

Oracle boss Larry Ellison, married three times before, recently exchanged rings with a romance novelist 25 years his junior. Talk is swirling that some steamy plots dreamed up by his bride, Melanie Craft, mimic reality. Ellison is thought to resemble Ross Bradford, a character in Craft’s novel, A Hard Hearted Man. (“”Ross Bradford exuded wealth, power and sophisticated charm. He had a head for business and an eye for beauty.””) Another novel, Man Trouble, recounts the story of a historian by day (Craft studied archaeology) and romance novelist by night, who seduces a billionaire “”playboy.””

AOL is facing a lawsuit over possible trademark infringement from Playboy, which says the ISP is hurting the Playmates’ reputation by associating them with inferior products. Playboy objects to pop-up ads featuring adult material that emerged when Web users typed Playboy or Playmate in the Netscape browser. They imitated the Playboy style, but weren’t official Playboy merchandise.

Some of the brightest minds in IT have been looking at tiny nanotubes as a way of reconstructing the DNA inside today’s PCs. Researchers at Purdue University, Calif., however, are taking the idea one step further by developing a chip using strands of actual DNA. Using a process called “”dip-pen nanolithography,”” researchers lay down the lines of polymer with an atomic force microscope and a cantilever, according to Newsfactor Network. The results could lead to the creation of faster, more energy-efficient electronic chips than what is found today.

The original motto for Java was “”write once, run anywhere,”” but even James Gosling might be surprised the language has taken us to Mars. NASA is using software developed by Sun Microsystems to manage Spirit, the robotic rover that rolled onto the Red planet’s surface. NASA scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will spend the next three months plotting Spirit’s course with the Java-based Science Activity Planner, said P2Pnet.Net.

Torontonians were outraged this week when an woman suggested on a radio call-in show that homeless people fighting this week’s bitter cold be given a sock with a potato in it. Perhaps she should have been on hand to investigate the case of the German man who took back his PC because it was full of potatoes. Police became suspicious when the man came back to the same store a short-time later with a second computer casing filled with potatoes. Apparently the game of one potato, two potato doesn’t go over very well in the city of Kaiserslautem.

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