A blooming marvellous appliance of technology

People & Business
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The Independent Online
David Potter, head of the Psion personal organiser group, is a man who lives and breathes his work. He is in fact, the ultimate "digit head". It has emerged that so keen is Mr Potter on technological matters that he has "put his garden on his home computer".

The boffin has developed a computer image of the garden at his stately pile near Oxford which maps out each square foot of the estate.

He uses this digitally rendered map to remind him what is planted where, what needs doing when and how quickly various blooms are forecast to grow. No doubt he can download this essential information on to his personal organiser so he can monitor the progress of the geraniums on his travels.

Proof positive also that Mr Potter is fighting fit after last December's heart by-pass surgery. He trounced his 15-year-old son at tennis over the weekend.

Professor George Bain, the genial Canadian who has been principal of London Business School for the last eight years, is looking forward to his new life following his decision to step down a year early. He is due to quit in July 1998, saying it is time for a new man to take the school forward.

"There is no surprise in this. I have moved jobs every seven or eight years throughout my career and my view is that more damage is done by people staying places too long than by moving on too often."

Now 44, Professor Bain is likely to spend more time on his new found love of horseriding. He has just signed up for his summer holiday riding trails in the Rocky Mountains in western Canada. "This is not namby-pamby English riding. This is Western riding - John Wayne-style," he tells me. Apparently, the difference is that Western riding involves controlling the horse with one hand leaving the other free to rope in a cow, or shoot people in John Wayne's case.

Professor Bain says he has no immediate plans for his career but may consider putting together a portfolio of activities rather than one big job. "At the moment I don't know what I am going to do. And that's a wonderful feeling."

Blackstone Business Communications, the new financial PR outfit headed by well-travelled journalist Tim Blackstone is clearly seeking to impress.

Faxes from the fledgling spin doctor feature the acronym BBC in a typeface remarkably similar to a broadcasting corporation of a not dissimilar name.

"It's nothing like it," protests an indignant Mr Blackstone. "There are no pretty colours and no lines underneath the letters."

The new communications guru has not stopped there.Mr Blackstone's business cards sport a salmon-pink stripe across the top, echoing the colour of the FT. Such chutzpa.

BZW has appointed a new head of human resources. Rod Taylor, 44, joins from Seagram Europe which is based in the Ark, the funny shaped building overlooking Hammersmith flyover.

Given that BZW is in the process of moving to Canary Wharf in London's Docklands, Mr Taylor will be have to get used to life on the other side of the capital. However, BZW denies that a key part of Mr Taylor's job will be to stop people leaving because they cannot face life in Docklands.

"We have no reason to believe the move to Canary Wharf will have an adverse impact," a spokesman insists.

Looking at Mr Taylor's CV he will probably arrange jogging tours of the Isle of Dogs to show how splendid it is. A keen tri-athlete he has represented Britain four times at the gruelling sport which is a marathon of running, cycling and swimming.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has had a lesson in the dangers of using the Internet. Paul Ashton, a sharp-eyed researcher at Liverpool University, spotted something funny happening on the IFS's popular "Be Your Own Chancellor" page on the World Wide Web. This allows wired members of the public to try out different changes to taxes and benefits for nine "typical" categories of people, and see what the effects would be. Mr Ashton said: "The 70-year-old pensioner couple was receiving child benefit and the two-earner couple on pounds 100,000 was getting unemployment benefit." Had old Labour taken over the welfare state?

An investigation revealed that improvements to the Web site nine days ago had resulted in the computer generating a load of gobbledegook. "This is obviously rather embarrassing," says think-tank director Andrew Dilnot.