CXO

The Weekly Round-Up: Do you pick Lassie or the laptop?

Plus computer black holes and Steve Jobs figurines...

Consider the dog. Man's best friend, the noble hound. Companion, playmate, protector. The dog has long held a fond place in the human heart.

Likewise the cat: snooty scratcher of children and depositor of dead birds on white living room carpets. Some people seem to like them, though.

Guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, terrapins and tarantulas, you name it, we Brits love our pets - or at least we claim to.

The grim reality appears that we're rather more attached to our gadgets than our beloved pets.

Research out this week asked 1,219 pet owners in the UK the simple question: "In the event of a house fire, what would be the first thing you would save?"

You just know it isn't going to be the hamster, don't you?

Yes, the study found that in the event of a house fire, 24 per cent of Brits would rescue their laptop or computer before anything else - including Tiddles or Mr Fluffy.

But surely the pet was next? No chance: if the homeowner risked rushing back into the conflagration it's more likely to be in response to hearing the Nokia ringtone from the hallway table, with 18 per cent opting to save their mobile first.

Pets came next, slightly ahead of the Playstation 3. It brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it?

What we're really saving from the flames is not the hardware itself of course - unless you happen to be a Mac user not willing to lose the best part of a grand's-worth of kit - but what the hardware contains, parts of ourselves. The Round-Up's not talking about physical parts, unless you happen to be a mad scientist, but memories.

As our lives become increasingly digital we tend to store all our treasured memories, such as photographs and home video, on hard drives rather than between the covers of photo albums. Just four per cent of respondents said rescuing the photo album would be their top priority in the event of a fire.

Mark Pearson, chairman of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, the company that commissioned the survey, had this to say: "These results are pretty shocking; however, I can see why people would instinctively grab their mobile phone, especially in an emergency."

He added: "I was surprised that more people would save their phone and laptop than their family pet; it just goes to show what a tech-obsessed nation we have become."

Alternatively, you could always keep a back-up of your data at an offsite location or invest in cloud-based storage and keep your memories - and your pets - safe and sound.

At least until someone works out how to deliver Lassie as a service...

Of course, Brits might not be so keen to save their hardware if they knew what it was really capable of.

Think back - what's the worst thing your computer's ever done? Lost that sales PowerPoint you spent all night working on? Developed a battery life shorter than a toddler's attention span? Turned connecting to the office VPN into the mental equivalent of completing a PhD in astrophysics?

Pah - small fry. According to an article on silicon.com this week, push your computer too fast and it could end up collapsing into a black hole.

With scientists experimenting with what could be computing's final frontier - quantum computing - all manner of interesting and scary phenomena could lie ahead.

Scott Aaronson, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told silicon.com: "There's a fundamental limit to how fast you could ever run any computer. If you tried to run a computer faster than that then what would actually happen is that you would be using so much energy that you would exceed what's called the Schwarzschild value - and that means your computer would actually collapse to a black hole."

And there was the Round-Up thinking that overclocking was just harmless geek fun. Just imagine filing a support ticket for that - it really could be the one IT problem that can't be solved just by turning it off and on again.

Earlier this month analyst firm Gartner told CEOs that the iPad was too important to ignore.

More recently, prominent IT director Nic Bellenberg and resident Apple fan Seb Janacek have written of how the iPad is a defining moment for the corporate world and computer haters alike.

But is having finally cracked the business market one of the greatest markers of success for Steve Jobs? When the Apple CEO looks back at his career, what will be the defining moment that signalled he'd made it into the highest echelons of the Silicon Valley greats?

  1. Turning the first billion in revenue?
  2. Turning Apple into a multi-billion dollar tech behemoth?
  3. Being turned into an action figure?

A select few have made the first two but to the Round-Up's mind only one has achieved the third level of CEO magnificence. It emerged this week that geek toy manufacturer MIC Gadget has created an iPhone-sized Jobs figurine, sporting the trademark black turtleneck, blue jeans and grey trainers.

Standing on a white Apple logo and brandishing an iPhone 4, with hand gripped defiantly on the troublesome aerial , it's an impressive monument to the Apple boss.

The figurine's glasses can even be removed and placed on top of his head. Pretty cool, huh?

Only there's one more thing...

The company selling the figure announced on its blog that the figure had prompted Apple's legal corps to swoop, citing Californian law which prohibits the use of any person's name, photograph or likeness in a product without that person's prior consent and requesting an end to the sale and marketing of the "Phenomenal SJ action figure".

Sad news for those hoping to get their hands on their very own mini Steve Jobs and more proof if it were needed that when they made the Apple CEO, they really did break the mould...

0 comments

Editor's Picks