High drama at Evesham, but the Yangtze Dolphin puts it all in perspective

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As far as the UK channel was concerned, the big story was the demise (or not) of Evesham Technology. At first, everything looked rosy with El Reg reporting that Tahir Mohsan, founder of TimeUK, was investing $22m in the company through a Dubai-based business called PCC Technology.

"By funding this restructuring, we intend to allow Evesham to continue delivering excellent products and services to its customers, so it's business as usual," Mohsan said in a statement. But things soon took on a more mushroomy hue and the definition of "business as usual" became a little bit stretched when Evesham laid off more than 100 staff and told them the firm was in administration. By Monday afternoon, Evesham's website was describing itself as GeeMore Technology Ltd t/a Evesham Technology.

Wait, there's more...

The next day, Evesham Technology's founder and chairman Richard Austin confirmed the company had entered administration and DTE Leonard Curtis had been appointed administrator of the firm's accounts.

Revealing 138 staff had been retained, Austin said in a statement: "Although we are all very sad that we have to continue trading without valuable, long standing Evesham staff, we will continue to trade in the UK."

Demonstrating the strength of feeling around the story, the Evesham saga generated masses of comment from (suddenly) former staff, not so suddenly former employees, and customers. It's probably fair to say that Austin will not be getting many Christmas cards from them this year.

Look back in anger

It was the kind of week where tempers flared, probably because the sun didn't. An angry email from the ousted boss of PlusNet branded its management liars and new owner BT deceitful.

Sacked in March after being accused of plotting to launch a rival business following its £67m acquisition by BT, Lee Stafford wrote he had "been hurt but not surprised by hearing about the way my reputation has been attacked since my departure".

He argued the principles the firm stood for have been "shat on" and that he had been "stitched up" by other executives. Could this be a good time to sell your shares in Christmas card manufacturers?

Sun to cut jobs again

If you're looking for signs of volatility in the Christmas card market, we suggest Sun could be a good place to start. Having laid off 3,700 workers since he became CEO in April 2006, Jonathan Schwartz may have noticed a significant reduction in his haul of cards last Yuletide, but it looks like there could be even fewer this Christmas after Sun announced it would cut more jobs by the end of the year.

According to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sun's board of directors approved a plan to "better align the company's resources with its strategic business objectives, including reducing its workforce". Mind you, Schwartz and the manufacturers could end up with a net Christmas card profit if happy shareholders send him one.

Lenovo to buy Acer

You can bet Packard Bell won't be getting a card from Acer after it decided to sell out to Lenovo. There had been rumours Taiwanese-based Acer was negotiating to purchase Packard Bell, although the latter's owner, John Hui, claimed he had "not entered into any agreements with Acer concerning Packard Bell". Hui added that by selling to Lenovo, Packard Bell would provide Lenovo with "a spearhead into Europe and a jump start into the PC consumer market".

Rambus CEO supporter unmasked

Someone who definitely deserves a card from the CEO of Rambus for sterling work in protecting his good name is clarissamehitable who posted 170 messages on the InvestorVillage site defending him.

"I'm constantly amazed at how many posters on this board know how Rambus management should run the company, all without ever having stepped inside the doors of he Rambus office building," Clarissamehitable wrote in one posting. "With 'loyal' shareholders like this, who needs - well - bashers?" An internal investigation by Rambus discovered that clarissamehitable was actually Nancy Hughes - wife of Harold Hughes. Harold just happens to be CEO of Rambus.

Judge gives Microsoft the gift of music

Microsoft might consider making the insignificant outlay for a small piece of cardboard with a tasteful painting of a Robin sitting on a fence outside a snow-covered cabin (and the stamp to post it) as small recompense for the decision by Judge Rudi Brewster to overturn a $1.5bn ruling against the software giant for patent infringement.

In January, a jury ruled Microsoft had infringed two patents owned by Alcatel-Lucent relating to MP3 standards, but Judge Rudi overturned the damages, describing the jury's decision as "against the weight of evidence". The case involved Microsoft's use of two patents relating to MP3 music formats. Judge Brewster ruled one of the patents was infringed by Microsoft and ownership of the second patent was questionable. Alcatel plans to appeal the decision.

Ex-Brocade CEO guilty of options fraud

Gregory Reyes faces an anxious wait before he knows what address to give people sending him Christmas cards. The former boss of Brocade was found guilty of securities fraud concerning backdated options by a San Francisco Jury. He could face a jail sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $5m. Reyes plans to appeal.

Arnie to appeal

While we're on the subject of appeals, California governor Arnie Schwarzenegger is the latest to head for the appeals court after a federal judge overturned a state law that required publishers to put an "18" label on games that were deemed to be violent.

In a 17-page ruling issued Monday, US District Judge Ronald Whyte permanently blocked the law, saying he had not found sufficient evidence supporting the state's contention that violent video games cause minors to behave violently.

Schwarzenegger, whose film career encompassed quite a bit of violence, was not impressed. "Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents," he said.

PC shipments up in the second quarter

As it's August, it may be a little premature to talk of Christmas card mailing lists, so let's move on to other stuff. Good news from market research company Gartner which reports a 9.3 per cent growth in PC shipments in Western Europe in the second quarter of 2007.

According to preliminary results from Gartner, 11.2 million units were shipped in the second quarter of 2007, with demand for laptops pushing up sales across the UK, France and Germany.

Not so good news for Dell which fell seven per cent year on year in the UK compared to the other top four vendors - HP, Acer, Toshiba and Lenovo - and did just as badly in France.

Linux gets thumbs up from Dell and Lenovo

Still, Dell did manage to endear itself to Linux users last week when it started shipping an Inspiron PC and laptop preloaded with the Ubuntu 7.04 Linux operating system in the UK, France, and Germany, three months or so after introducing them in the US.

Not to be outdone, Lenovo has announced it will pre-load ThinkPad laptops with Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 in the fourth quarter. The OpenOffice.org productivity suite, an email client, and a web browser are also bundled in with Linux pre-load options. A mouthpiece for Lenovo said the move was based on increased enterprise customer demand for notebooks featuring open source software, especially in the education, government, and enterprise sectors.

Wanted: Office 2000, one careful owner

A company in Staffordshire is offering a discount on new software to businesses that trade in their used versions. Discount Licensing has started a trading scheme because its business of selling used software licences is running out of licences to sell.

Discount Licensing has been trading for a year, selling used licences for older versions of Microsoft software and operating systems to companies that do not need brand new updates. The company, which typically sources licences from businesses that have gone into liquidation, claims to be able to offer discounts of up to 80 per cent on the list price of the software at its original launch.

25 million years gone in the blink of an eye

Although it's not strictly or even loosely IT-based, we couldn't go without referring to the sad news that the Yangtze river dolphin has been declared extinct. The demise of the Baiji marks the first large vertebrate species obliterated by human activity for 50 years and the first ever cetacean (whales, dolphins, and porpoises).

According to Wikipedia, the dolphin, which first appeared 25 million years ago, migrated to the Yangtze 20 million years ago. In Chinese folklore, it was believed to be the reincarnation of a princess drowned by her family "after refusing to marry a man she did not love". It was "regarded as a symbol of peace and prosperity" and nicknamed the 'Goddess of the Yangtze'. Wikipedia also records that the genus 'homo' to which all human beings belong is estimated to be between 1.5 million and 2.5 million years old... ®

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