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Ant Bytes — AA18

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LAWYERS FIND NEW WAYS TO MAKE MONEY

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The legal profession is not well known for innovation, but a new service by jdrlegal offers subscribers legal advice via SMS. Dubbed ‘txtlgl’, each week the service sends a summarised brief via text message and follows up with a full legal brief delivered to the subscriber’s email address. Subscribers seeking advice on a particular legal matter can also lodge a query via SMS. The service means users can get hold of targeted legal advice anywhere, anytime.

Qualified legal eagles in the US and Australia prepare the briefs, covering a range of topics, including anti-trust laws in the US, managing the patent process and private equity.

In a world of exorbitant hourly rates, the txtlgl service is offered at a fixed cost per year, with options to send SMS queries ranging from the two-query ‘txt LIGHT’ to the unlimited ‘ALL U CAN txt’. txtlgl complements jdrlegal’s existing services, IP Help Desk and the General Counsel Office.

www.jdrlegal.com.au

GIVE YOUR BOSS THE CHOP

GIVE YOUR BOSS THE CHOP

Ever wanted to throw a pie in the face of one of your colleagues? Or perhaps you’d like to show-off your prowess in the kitchen (a la ‘my julienne is much more uniform than yours’)? Here’s your opportunity, with a Cheeky Food Group team-building exercise or staff motivation event.

The Cheeky Food Group chefs lead your team on a culinary journey, where everyone gets a hand in preparing the (hopefully) gourmet meal. You can chop with Craig from Credit Control or sizzle with Suzy from HR, and the quality of the end result depends on how well your team communicates and interacts. After cooking up a storm, participants delight in their newfound skills and friendships, while sampling their handiwork accompanied by a glass of wine.

Catering (or should that be self-catering?) for groups between four and 400, anywhere in Australia, your venue or theirs, The Cheeky Food Group also offers a culinary Christmas party to beat the boredom and/or bedlam of the traditional office bash.

DROWSY DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY

It wasn’t so long ago that Australian drivers voiced their annoyance at being asked to wear a seat belt. In the nottoodistant future, motorists might be asked to wear sunshades. For Optalert, the future has never looked so bright. While seatbelts reduce the injury and death toll of car crashes, this new technology promises to prevent drowsiness-related accidents in the fi rst place.

A pair of high-tech glasses with built-in LED’s analyses eye and eyelid movement to determine the driver’s drowsiness continuously. Optalert alerts the driver, or the vehicle management system, when he or she is approaching a dangerous level of drowsiness.

Melbourne-based company Sleep Diagnostics is developing the technology pioneered by sleep scientist Dr Murray Johns. To help get the technology from the lab to the world market, another Melbourne company, Outerspace Design Group was engaged to design the prototype for a marketable commercial product.

CHINESE BAR BOPS TO A DIFFERENT BEAT

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Giving new meaning to the phrase “I got hit on at a bar”, a new bar in Eastern China allows patrons to vent their frustrations by beating up bar staff.

According to the China Daily, The Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing is a hit with customers, who pay to smash glasses, rant, rave and lay into specially-trained workers. The workers, well-built men aged in their 20s and 30s, are given protective gear and regular physical training for the job. Customers can even request their ‘victim’ dress up as a particular character.

The Rising Sun’s owner, 29-year-old Wu Gong, said most of his customers were women, especially those working in the service and entertainment sector, such as karaoke bars and massage parlours. There has been mixed response from Nanjing locals.

“Pressure in today’s society comes from just about anywhere, from family or from work, from your boss or your girlfriend. We get no place to vent anger,” said salesman Chen Liang.

“The idea of beating someone decorated as your boss seems attractive.”

Another local, Liu Yuanyuan, said violence was not the answer. “If people really feel angry, they should adjust their lifestyles or seek psychological treatment,” he told the daily.

For customers unable to meet their psychological needs through physical violence, Mr Wu also offers counselling from local psychology students.

Alcohol, violence and therapy – now there’s an holistic approach to corporate chicanery.

ROLLING WITH THE TIMES

The digital age is heralding the death of the bicycle courier, according to a report in The Age newspaper. As broadband increases in speed and take-up, the bicycle courier – the middleman of document, image and audio exchange – faces less work at lower rates of pay.

Gone are the days of the unwary pedestrian stumbling into a blur of wheels and the crackle of a two-way. Or the David and Goliath battles between motorist and cyclist, often ending with a rear-view mirror requiring replacement.

The legion of riders carving up the Sydney CBD has shrunk by almost 75 per cent since 2000, estimates Simon McKenzie from the Sydney Bicycle Messengers Association.

“Back then you had more than ten bicycle courier companies employing close to 250 riders. Now you’ve got seven businesses and about 70 riders, although the numbers fluctuate throughout the year,” he said.

Business might not be booming, but veteran bicycle courier Craig Otis believes there will always be a need for personal, hard-copy deliveries.

“Our biggest clients would be legal firms with original documents that need to be signed for, or investment banks or travel agencies sending tickets – wherever you have a document that can’t be reproduced there’s a need for us,” he said.

Despite the downturn, Sydney will host more than 500 competitors from dozens of countries at the Cycle Messenger World Championships later this month, proving that where there’s a wheel, there’s a way.

ANT BYTES

BAD CHEQUE SAVES DICKY TICKER

There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s easier to do now and explain later.” Indeed, sometimes you have to play the odds. Just ask 77-year-old Londoner, Roy Thayers. Faced with dying on the UK’s Nation Health Service waiting list because he could not afford a $16,000 heart operation, Thayers wrote a dud cheque and was rushed under the knife before the cheque had a chance to bounce. He now has a new lease on life – all for the low, low price of $2 a day for the rest of his life.

EASY SQUEEZE

Ever binned a photograph because it made you look frumpy? British digital camera company Comet has devised a $500 camera with a “slimcam” setting. Billed as female friendly, it works by squeezing the picture in the middle without distorting the peripheries. Just make sure you always take up a central position for staged group shots. And try and avoid being photographed while horizontal – it’s bound to be less than flattering. Comet has also devised a phone that tells a woman when she is about to ovulate.

PLAYTIME IN PIN STRIPES

Piggy banks are for chumps. Postbank, a Dutch subsidiary of the ING Group, has created an “Easy Blue” account for entrepreneurially-minded children. When pint-sized Trumps and Bransons join, they receive a briefcase containing letterhead, fliers, stickers, business cards and T-shirt printing material. Account holders are encouraged to launch a venture, such as lawn mowing, dog walking or car washing. And, of course, clients can transfer money straight into the young tycoon’s account.

GROUPIES WITH EQUITY

With the traditional music industry in disarray, some former music label executives have teamed up to launch an online service that returns bands and fans to the centre of the process. SellaBand.com encourages fans to sponsor a band for US$10. When the band has raised US$50,000, SellaBand.com sets up a professional recording, which is then made available as a free download. The income from online advertising is split between the band, the fans (dubbed “Believers”) and SellaBand.com. It’s just one hint of the possibilities opening up now that technology has loosened the record labels’ stranglehold on artists and consumers. Like a band? Buy a stake!

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