bits & bytes

An @ by another name

Two weeks ago, Tim Nott asked what the @, the hub of the e-mail address, should be called. He noted that in France it was petit escargot, or little snail. Now we know what they call it elsewhere, thanks to a deluge of communications from all over Europe. Some of these found their way into the letters pages of the Independent, but here is Network's round-up.

Italy: chiocciolina - again, little snail (from Andrea Casalotti); Germany: Klammeraffe - spider monkey (Patrick Stevenson); the Netherlands: api - short for apestaart, meaning monkey's tail (Bas Buesink and Tim O'Donoghue); Norway: kanel-bolle - a spiral-shaped cinnamon bun (Per Hammer); Denmark: snabel a - an "a" with a trunk (Anne Mette Andreasen).

In the UK, Tim Gowens offered the highly logical "ampersat" and the art historian Frances Marks suggested "Van Gogh's ear". An anonymous reader raises another poser: "If @ is a little snail," he/she asks, "what then is 'snail mail'?"

Tangled up in the Web A survey by Sony Broadcast & Professional UK shows that many businesses swept along by Web fever have been disappointed by what they have found. Only 14 per cent of senior managers interviewed used the Web, against 35 per cent who used CD-Rom, and many of these are not convinced of its use. Stephen Jones, the company's corporate development manager, said that a significant number found the Web's effect negative because it wasted time and money. But he added that the survey took no account of likely improvements such as higher speed access. "I'm not knocking the Internet, it's just a matter of when it becomes useful," he said.

Cyberia branches out Cyberia, the Internet and cappuccino chain, has opened two new cafes, at 12 Oxford Street, Manchester, and 73 New Broadway, Ealing, west London. Cyberia's other hang-outs are in central London, Kingston upon Thames and Edinburgh. Tokyo opens next month. Call 0171-209 0982 or e-mail

A camera for the kids The Tyco VideoCam for six- to 12-year-olds is due for launch in the summer, at pounds 99. It will use technology developed by Edinburgh-based Vision, and provide black and white pictures, connecting either to a VCR or to a grown- up video camera by a 30ft lead.

Shattering Windows A letter: "I was glad to see you had published an anti-Windows item (David Lawson, 22 January). Like Mr Lawson, I too started out with the Amstrad PCW (still have it, in fact, because there is some stuff on it that I have never transferred). When I migrated to a PC a few years ago, I found Windows on it and for some months thought that you had to use that method of working. Then I explored DOS and found it far faster and pleasanter to use, at least once I discovered 4DOS. (Without 4DOS, DOS is blind.) Soon I deleted Windows and have never felt the need to reinstall it, let alone waste my time and money on W95. I have QEMM and Desqview (yes, you can still find it if you look); this gives me true multi-tasking, which, as far as I know, you do not get even with W95.

Anthony Campbell,"

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