From the far side

Online credit cards for small
Even if your business produces only small number of transactions you can still get into the big world of e-business without e-pain or e-fuss, via Clear’s PaySafe (with free starter-packs, forsooth!). It enables you to handle credit card orders online – up to 50 month for $nil. Then, when your business grows you can purchase ?increased functionality and greater volumes of transactions’.
PaySafe thus turns web browser into secure EFT terminal, giving you real-time authorisation of credit cards. Hardware and software maintenance costs are nil because the application is hosted at Clear.

Uniting call centres and the net
The marriage of call centres and the Internet has been powering ahead elsewhere, but Unity (formerly part of Manchester Unity) has claimed first here, using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). You click web button and Java application dials through to Unity’s call centre. You can then talk to it and still have normal online access.
To use VOIP you need an H323-compatible application – like the freeware Netmeeting, downloadable from Unity – plus sound card, speakers and microphone.
Unity plans to add escorted browsing, in which the call centre guides you through its website in real time, with mutual page-pushing. Such technology is expected to lift call centres from backroom nodes of telephony to front-line customer-interaction centres that use every aspect of modern technology, including, one day, interactive video.

Glorious competition?
The 19th-century father of the computer, Charles Babbage (see The Computer That Never Was in the last issue) studied British industry in great detail at the start of his R&D. Among his many discoveries are at least two that should give pause to the politically correct who believe that there is but one god, Competition, and More (aka Maw) is his prophet.
Babbage found that the more competition there is in durable goods the less durable they will become. Obvious really. The more bods who make them the more they will have to make them wear out quicker.
He also found that the harder it is to discover the means by which product or service comes to market the higher will be its price. You can have all the price-damping mechanisms, models, constructions, destructions and political flimflams you please, but if it is hard to figure out how the thing got to your door, the higher will be its price.
All you Machiavellis should see the main chance there. If you want to raise prices and get away with it, obscure the origins and supply-processes.
Thus if we say the electrons supplied to you originate from Waikikamukau, it is so. Electrons, you see, are all identically anonymous, unmarked, and unlabelled – so who can know?
As that great emblem of stability, Humpty Dumpty, said: “Words mean whatever I say.” But he ended up wearing egg, so to speak.
It is the old shell game. Confuse them good and take their money in handfuls.

Off the net: martian/venusian silicon
From the far side of mailing list on the far side of Planet E: language teacher told her class that French nouns, unlike English ones, are grammatically designed as masculine and feminine. Things like ?chalk’ or ?pencil’ have gender association.
One student raised his hand and asked, “What gender is computer?” The teacher did not know, so divided the class into two groups, one male and one female, who were to decide which gender it should be, and give four reasons.
The females decided that computers should be masculine, because:
1. To get their attention you have to switch them on.
2. They have lot of data but are still clueless.
3. They are supposed to help you solve your problems but half the time they ARE the problem.
4. As soon as you commit to one you realise that if you had waited just bit longer you could have new, better model.
The males decided that computers should definitely be feminine, because:
1. No one but their creators understand their internal logic.
2. The native language they use to communicate is incomprehensible to everyone else.
3. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
4. As soon as you make commitment to one you spend half your pay on accessories for it.

Nobilangelo Ceramalus: Writer, commentator, journalist, desktop publisher, graphics-designer, illustrator, webmaster, photographer.

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