News Schmooze: Budgeting for e-business

Small companies got cash to use the Internet, Gates boosted Bluetooth and the Apple 1 reappeared on the scene

While most people were paying attention to the NHS cash booster jab or the rise in National Insurance announced by Gordon Brown on Wednesday, some small firms were realising they finally have a sure-fire way of making money off the Internet. The government will pay eligible small firms a total of £40m to encourage them to file forms like tax returns online.
Budget 2002: Small firms get e-business cash boost On the other hand, if the small firms in question are contracting for bigger companies, and are deemed under the IR35 tax bill to be full-time employees, they may have bigger problems than figuring out how to use the Internal Revenue's online forms. By not mentioning IR35 Brown effectively gave it his support. The Conservatives noted that Brown hadn't mentioned IR35 when he introduced it, either.
Disappointment as chancellor fails to axe IR35 For his big speech at this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) Bill Gates took his cue from his old friend Steve Jobs and talked about the greatness of Bluetooth, probably a good sign for that cable-replacement wireless networking technology. Not long ago Jobs announced beta software for Bluetooth on the Mac, which must mean they've figured out a way to get those pesky discoveries and pairings to work properly. Gates went a step further into Jetsons-land, though, demonstrating how everybody is going to be using their remote-controlled PCs to make telephone calls and the like. It's a great idea, but they might have to ban normal phones before people will consider a crash-prone, whirring beige box for their weekly call to Grandma.
Gates touts vision of PC as hub
An even better idea: make those calls on your Pocket PC. Well, that's Microsoft's idea, anyway, though companies like Handspring and Pogo haven't managed to convince that many consumers yet. It might work better if Microsoft can figure out a way people can talk on their PDA without leaving facial grease smeared across the screen.
Microsoft shows off Pocket PC Phone Edition Sharp is getting back in on the PDA action, but has decided in typical idiosyncratic fashion to place its bets on Linux rather than Palm OS or Pocket PC. There are plenty of Linux developers around, but so far only a handful of applications for the new Zaurus. When the apps do arrive, one can only hope they go beyond the level of some of the Linux desktop software out there, which clearly wants to be user friendly but just doesn't have the social skills.
Sharp aims Linux-based PDA at UK corporations Not to belabour the PDA motif, but all these pocket operating systems might soon be obsolete if OQO has its way. The company is selling a Transmeta-based handheld running Windows XP -- and they promise it won't set your trouser pocket on fire.
Start-up shrinks PC to palm size In other odd technology news, there's an opportunity to buy a real Apple 1 coming up, albeit for $50,000. Let's hope the buyer doesn't have to wait to collect it, as many have had to after ordering the new flat-panel iMac.
Apple 1 goes up for auction The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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