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News Schmooze: Goodbye Segway, hello flying exoskeleton

The SoloTrek heli-pack took flight, the government increased its evil quotient, and Linux got more user-friendly
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Everybody's concerned about safety and security on the Internet. But just to put things in perspective, you might want to try strapping yourself into a mechanical exoskeleton with enormous helicopter blades whirring past your head as you fly along at 80 miles an hour... Segway, schmegway! And they'll probably even be able to buy this flying contraption, the SoloTrek XFV, in Japan. Maybe 2002 will be the year of futuristic inventions after all!

Inventor's dreams take (short) flight

Segway may face roadblock in Japan

Just don't ride your SoloTrek around in Finland, though -- the traffic fines there are based on income, so if you're earning enough to buy your own personal flying machine you could end up with a massive fine, like Nokia exec Anssi Vanjoki.

Nokia manager appeals record speeding fine

Of course, an ideal means of transportation would be to have a helicopter/jet pack AND a wearable computer, so that you could log onto the Big Brother 3 Web site while wafting your way above the gridlock on the morning commute. Unfortunately, in Europe at least, it looks like journalists are the only ones who think this would be cool.

Wearable PC nears commercial launch

Okay, so the government doesn't seem in too much of a rush to punish Microsoft for its misdeeds, after all there's a war on! And what about that Enron! But then they turn around and block Microsoft's private antitrust settlement, which was designed to conscript little kids into the global software wars. It warms the heart.

Judge throws out MS school deal

But not as much as the cuddly antics of Bill Gates. Here he is, the head of the world's richest company, and the richest individual on the planet, but he still feels our pain. He knows what we need and want in our heart of hearts. He wants to give us a hand! And what's really bothering us, Bill has finally realised, is "feature creep". From now on, there won't be any of those annoying new "features", like that stupid paper clip or Microsoft Bob. Instead, our software is going to get more and more secure, and if anybody finds any security holes, they will be hunted down and exterminated. That's because Bill is our friend, whom we trust, more and more every day. And in return all we have to do is pay Microsoft a monthly subscription fee, like we do for the gas and electric company, which aren't nearly as friendly.

Gates calls for new focus on security

.Net breakdown: More to come?

Gigger 'update' worm tries to reformat hard drive

It's official - the latest distributions of Linux are the most user-friendly ever. Unfortunately, this is like Microsoft saying that Windows XP is the most secure release of Windows ever.

Tests indicate Linux could be a desktop solution

Full marks to BT this week, which marked the launch of its self-installation broadband kit with a champagne reception on the top of BT Tower. Even though the Schmoozer did his bit to boost Moet and Chandon's first-quarter turnover, he won't allow his journalistic integrity to be compromised -- and BT would be wrong to expect favourable coverage in return. If they were to hurry up and offer him free home broadband on the other hand...

Rumour has it, though, that BT is far from flavour of the month in political circles -- especially now that one Tory MP has discovered that being a former cabinet minister counts for nothing if you're trying to get ADSL in your Hampshire home.

BT keeps insisting that it can't be expected to roll out ADSL to under-populated rural areas, but the Schmoozer wonders how this argument goes down in Westminster. The word from the DTI is that the e-envoy had a lot of trouble getting a broadband connection for his flat, which is situated in the barren wilds of, ummm, the Barbican.

Broadband enters the DIY age

Amazingly enough, BT was nowhere in sight in the nominees for this year's Internet Villain Award, having been displaced by the combined nastiness of the Home Office, the RadioCommunications Agency and Oftel. Surely it is an incredible feat to have made people forget to nominate the company that has made ADSL so unavailable and unattractive that people prefer to stick with their 56K modems and even ISDN. BT has even decided to spend millions on helping ADSL resellers advertise broadband, rather than cut prices to make the services worth paying for.

UK government scoops 'Internet Villain' nominations

BT warned to play fair over broadband advert blitz

BT's progeny, mmO2, may discover that Treo is a bunch of hot air. The PDA-telephone gizmo is launching in the UK next month, but some reviewers have pointed out that the whole idea of Treo is like a chocolate kettle - a nice idea, but kind of useless. What you get is an ugly mobile phone combined with a sub-standard handheld computer. And if you happen to have oily skin you might want to carry around a tissue to wipe the screen off after you've been talking on it. Pity Handspring is planning to ditch its reasonably successful handheld line in favour of Treo-like gadgets.

Handspring to launch Treo with mm02

Handspring warns of Treo holdup

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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