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The Weekly Round-Up: How do you answer life's unanswerable questions?

And what will the office of the future look like?

It's that time of the year when the bespectacled geeks with loads of cash whip out their wodges to see who's got the biggest.

Forbes has published its annual 'Rich List of Americans who have so much money they don't know what to do with it'. The big surprise this year is... that there's absolutely no movement at the top whatsoever.

Somehow, despite having given up the day job years ago to start systematically and enthusiastically throwing billions of dollars at charitable causes, Bill Gates has clung on to the top spot.

Even though his desk is gathering dust and his charitable institute is in full swing, the former Microsoft supremo saw his personal fortune increase rather than decrease in 2010. Nice work if you can get it.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, meanwhile, remains the second richest man in technology although the top slot still eludes him by a fair margin, which has got to sting a bit. No matter, he has a vast Japanese mansion and $27bn to console him, having shifted a fair number of databases in the last 12 months. He's also something of a film star these days (alright, he had a walk on part in Iron Man 2) - a connection Oracle wasn't shy about shouting about at this year's Oracle OpenWorld conference.

Google's duo of Larry Page and Sergey Brin get a look-in at joint 11th place, just ahead of Michael Dell (15th) and current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (16th).

Despite heading up the most valuable technology company in the world, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is way down the list at number 42 with a meagre $6.1bn to his name, beaten by a man who wasn't even born when Jobs founded Apple.

Yes, the big mover on the Forbes list this year is Facebook's youthful CEO Mark Zuckerberg. His $6.9bn wodge eclipses the fortune of Jobs, as well as the cash-mountains of Rupert Murdoch and Eric Schmidt.

Zuckerberg's personal wealth increased $4bn in the last year, thanks to an incredible $33bn valuation of Facebook by financial analysts. Imagine all the Farmville cattle you could buy with that…

At the end of day the Round-Up isn't bitter. After all, money can't buy you happiness - only a better class of misery.

Neither can money buy you friends. Just because you're rich, it doesn't necessarily follow you'll be popular. Mind you, it doesn't seem to be hurting Zuckerberg. Last time the Round-Up checked, he had 500 million 'friends'.



Software billionaires might be used to conducting their daily business from the passenger seat of a private jet but for the rest of us, it's usually a cramped, overcrowded slog to a soulless, beige office.

This week, silicon.com got out its crystal ball to consider how the office of tomorrow might look. Obviously not literally the office of tomorrow - that would look much like the office of today, only with fewer people in, being as it's the weekend.

No, silicon.com used its future-gazing powers to contemplate how the workplace might evolve in years to come - see the story Six reasons you won't recognise the office of tomorrow.

Apparently, in the office of the future, we'll be ditching email for social networking (the Round-Up can only imagine the horror - scheduling a meeting with the sweaty fellow from sales is one thing but having to 'poke' him too? It doesn't bear thinking about).

But there is some good news: if you thought we'd all be controlling our computers by hand gestures, Minority Report-style, then think again. Yes, thankfully, you won't have to be sat next to your colleagues all waving their arms around like a break-dancing octopus - the cubicle set-up of tomorrow will look startlingly similar to the desks of today.

"I think we're going to see a mouse and keyboard and conventional stuff," Gartner analyst Steve Prentice told silicon.com.

How disappointing. The Round-Up is saddened to think that in the office of tomorrow we won't all have robots to do our every bidding. No, it turns out stuff like that will just be confined to the home.

Phew.



Finally this week, is there a god?

Yes, it's a tough one for a Friday afternoon but let's tackle these things head on. Normally, the Round-Up would ask an authority - in other words, the internet. But this is where the problem lies: it turns out even the intertubes don't know.

To celebrate its 10th birthday, venerable search engine Ask has listed the top 10 unanswered questions in an attempt to finally get to the bottom of the head-scratchers that have troubled humanity for so long.

(Ask of course was previously called Ask Jeeves but the search engine's management decided that having a balding, middle-aged man as the enduring image of your company is a bad idea, a home-truth that is apparently lost on the Microsoft board.)

Ask's 10 unanswered questions range from theological posers such as whether some type of higher power might exist, along with metaphysical queries about the nature of love, to more down to earth stuff such as 'Do blondes have more fun?' and 'Did Tony Soprano die?'.

It's 'no' and 'no' to the last two, by the way.

Ask's other questions include: 'What is the meaning of life?', 'Is there anybody out there?' and 'Who is the most famous person out there?'.

Thankfully, help is apparently at hand as Ask has employed the services of the great minds of our time - such as astrologer Russell Grant, TV presenter type Sarah Beeny and hairdresser Nicky Clarke.

And along with this veritable philosophical dream team, Joe Public is being asked to add his or her tuppence-worth on a special site dedicated to filling Ask's void.

There have already been some good responses to the top 10 puzzlers. Take 'Is there a god?' for example. "Yes. He is in my hearth!" answered one person. The Round-Up presumes she meant 'heart' not 'hearth' but either way it brings a warm glow.



Elsewhere on silicon.com this week, there was a plethora of gadget news... Wish your mobile was more like a credit card? Get thee to Spain and see how it's done.

Is it a netbook? Is a tablet? No, it's the Inspiron Duo and it looks like this.

And want to know what apps will be gracing Windows Phone 7 when it comes out? There's a sneaky peak right here.

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