The Weekly Round-Up: 05.03.10

Check out the new girl in IT
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Check out the new girl in IT

Have you seen the new girl in the IT department? Long blonde hair, blue eyes, nice smile...

Oh, and she's just under a foot tall. And made of plastic.

A little while back the Round-Up brought you the exciting news that 'computer engineer' was one of the new careers being considered for Barbie. She's already had 125 other jobs, which means her CV must be the size of War and Peace.

But now the votes are in, and, after fighting off stiff competition from a number of other potential jobs, the Round-Up is pleased to reveal that the computer engineer option has got the nod from the public.

Computer engineer Barbie will, according to the doll's maker Mattel, inspire "a new generation of girls to explore this important high-tech industry, which continues to grow and need future female leaders".

And bravo to that.

But more importantly for fashion fans, what does she look like? There's nary a sandal or Star Wars T-shirt in sight: computer engineer Barbie is "geek chic", says the press release, which the Round-Up reckons is quite a different proposition to the freak chic which is all too often found shambling around the server room in most IT departments.

She comes clad in a T-shirt featuring binary code and gadgets including a smartphone and pink laptop (click here to see how the new computer engineer Barbie will look).

She's also comes with a Bluetooth headset, which is a little odd as she's meant to be a techie, not a mini-cab driver. Still, it's not a bad effort - let's just hope she doesn't get outsourced any time soon.

Pity the poor IT manager. Always the last to know.

They spend their working lives crafting an elegant and efficient network infrastructure so their organisation can respond at top speed to any business challenges - and then you lot pinch all that bandwidth to upload to Facebook pictures of your night out, or squander it on an iPlayer marathon, catching up on all the telly you missed while recovering from the hangover.

Meanwhile, the poor IT boss is left wondering why his network is running slower than a tortoise in high heels, unaware of all the antics hogging the bandwidth.

According to a survey out this week, social media and web 2.0 applications have been adopted by 99 per cent of end users, but a sizeable 38 per cent of IT professionals believe there is no social networking present on their networks.

The poor, innocent, unsuspecting lambs.

Web chat is also used in 95 per cent of organisations, the survey found, but is only recognised by 31 per cent of IT managers. The other 69 per cent of IT chiefs presumably still think this interweb thing is a flash in the pan.

FaceTime, which conducted the survey, said there are "vivid differences between IT estimates and reality". Yeah - probably similar to the "vivid differences" between estimate and reality that you get when you ask how long it will actually take the helpdesk to come and fix your broken PC.

Anyway, while 95 per cent of users said they now use social networking for business reasons (yeah, right) 61 per cent said they use public social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube every day. And 15 per cent said they use these sites "constantly throughout the day". The slackers. Unless, of course you are checking out the silicon.com Twitter feed or the silicon.com LinkedIn group, both of which are vital business tools. So there.

In a quick aside, another piece of research that crossed the Round-Up's desk claims women are twice as likely to ask someone to remove a photo of them from a social networking site that they weren't entirely pleased with (16 per cent compared to six per cent of men) or simply un-tag the offending picture themselves (21 per cent compared to nine per cent).

So there you have it - office workers are not only slacking secretly at their desks but vain with it too.

Social networking? Social not-working, more like.

Gadgets. We love 'em. Whether it's a fancy smartphone or a netbook, the British are a nation of gadget lovers with the average person owning more than £3,000 worth of electrical bits and pieces.

However, a so-called 'gadget gap' - the difference between the amount people spend on their gadgets versus the value of functions actually used - is opening up.

Apparently, the average consumer is only using half of the functions available on their gadgets, which the Sky HD-sponsored research reckons means we've all wasted £52bn on gadgets that we don't know how to work.

And before the IT gurus among you get too smug, you're not exempt from the shame: one in 10 IT professionals will just ignore a product's functions if they can't get them to work, and one in five will rip up the instruction manual in frustration when they get confused. Well, it's one step closer to a paperless office, the Round-Up supposes. . .

And a further one in 10 IT 'professionals' resorts to hitting a gadget to get it to work. That's just not nice. And, to be honest, the average IT professional is more likely to damage themselves than any badly behaving hardware, so save the kung fu for video games, please.

The survey also found that men are - of course - less likely to reach for a manual than women when in need of assistance, and far less likely to ask for help (only a quarter would ask a friend or family member compared to half of women).

Extrapolating from those figures, getting a man who - when faced with a recalcitrant sat-nav, say - would read the manual, then ask a friend and finally actually stop the car and ask for directions is about as likely as a Yeti standing for parliament in the forthcoming General Election - and winning.

In other news this week. What links Nintendo's Wii and Apple's iPad? More than just the silly names. For more, check out Minority Report.

We went so you don't have to - check out photos of the giant tech trade show that is CeBIT - and perhaps enjoy a stein of lager and a currywurst or two while you do it.

And take a tour of the town where the IT happens - Bangalore.

computer engineer barbie

Computer engineer Barbie complete with laptop and Bluetooth headset
(Photo credit: Mattel)

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