Breakfast Briefing: Post Office software probe, Google's donkey death denial, Catzilla benchmark

17 Jan 2013
Breakfast briefing

Today's top tech stories include Post Office software woes, Google's camera cars, Catzilla benchmarks, App store advice, and tech jobs

Today's top tech stories include the Post Office's potentially costly bean-counting software, Google's donkey that rises from the grave, Catzilla (the mutant ninja benchmark) and more.

Second-class Post Office system probed

When computers go wrong they have a very real world impact, as several members of staff at the Post Office can attest. Computer Weekly reports how bosses are investigating an accounting system called Horizon that was supposed to simplify the accounts. Instead, say employees, the software that dates back to 1996 has been error prone, spouting out mistakes that leave postmasters in the lurch.

"Over the years, dozens of postmasters have been charged and even jailed for accounting shortfalls, while others have had to make up cash discrepancies following prosecutions," Computer Weekly points out.

Google denies donkey hit-and-run

Google has been accused of many things recently - deliberately dumping rivals down its search results, over-friendliness to North Korea, donkey murder. Yes, you read that right: Google’s Street View cars have been accused of a hit-and-run attack on a helpless donkey in Botswana, after eagle-eyed members of the public spotted a prone animal lying prostrate in the road, seemingly after being passed by Google’s camera cars.

Google has leapt to its own defence on its Lat Long blog, providing photographic evidence that said donkey was merely enjoying a dust bath, and was back on its feet by the time the Google Street View car had set off down the road. We can all sleep easier tonight.

Catzilla: the benchmark to destroy all benchmarks

We use lots of tools to benchmark PCs, but we barely even scratch the surface of what's out there. As if to highlight that point, AllBenchmark has just released the full version of its latest graphics benchmark tool, Catzilla. Yes, Catzilla. It involves a giant mutant cat with lasers for eyes, and a whole lot of exploding things, and it's insanely entertaining. You can download the tool here, but to be honest we’re just enjoying watching the YouTube version.

Apple's App Store evangelism allergy

Venture Beat takes a look inside Apple's app policies with an interesting spin on what and why the company does and doesn't accept in its App Store. We all know there are guidelines on what is and isn't acceptable, but the piece teases out aspects of the ideology behind some of the issues. Apple thinks any kind of controversial discussion should be put down on paper or in songs – not played out as part of an app.

"If you want to criticise a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app," the company says. "It can get complicated, but we have decided to not allow certain kinds of content in the App Store."

Tech companies won’t replace manufacturing jobs

Tech companies are changing the way we work - but it might not mean more jobs. As Vice notes: "Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook combined account for over $1 trillion dollars of market capitalisation. Yet they only employ around 150,000 people total. That's less than half the number of people who work for GE. And it's roughly the number of people that enter the US job market every month. In other words, it’s a farce to believe that tech giants, internet startups, and app developers will ever be able to employ the same number of people that manufacturing once did."

Depressed? Vice suggests we should take advantage of robots doing the "heavy lifting" to reduce our work weeks. Good idea - we’ll be clocking off at noon.

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