AT LARGE: Minor oversight

I was sent an e-mail a couple of weeks ago. Not the most uncommon of occurrences, especially given that this e-mail was from a PR type of person, and I get a lot of them.

The subject header said that the mail contained a "bill caricature", and the body text informed me that I would find the caricature "veerrrrre funnneeeee!!!" Most PR people, for all their other limitations, are more literate than that. I also don't know this particular PR person well enough to expect cartoons from him - our relationship is strictly professional.

You've probably worked out by now that the e-mail was a virus. I figured this out as well, and deleted it rather than try opening the attachment - I don't care how funnneeeee the thing might have been, I'm not an idiot. The reason I found the thing sufficiently amusing to tell you about it was that the PR person involved works for a company that produces a major antivirus application.

And the moral of the story is: technology sometimes lets us down. Probably the last person in the world who wants to get infected with a virus is someone who works for an antivirus company, and if they do get infected the last thing they want is to spread it to a bunch of journalists. Given that this is the worst-case scenario, it was bound to happen one day.

I have since heard of a Japanese company called "Eyeglasses Everywhere" (or whatever that is in Japanese), which is about to launch a Web site for people to order spectacles online. Apparently you'll be able to take a self-service eye test right there in your Web browser, and it will write up your prescription.

The one problem (and it is a minor one) that I can see with this system is that almost no-one outside of the graphic arts or publishing industries (and relatively few people within) has a correctly calibrated monitor.

Certainly my own CRT would be a wildly inaccurate instrument by which to measure my visual acuity. But I only needed the thing for text. My ancestors achieved the art of writing with leaves and henna on slabs of rock. A blunt instrument will do.

However, when it comes to eyeglasses, I like the measuring instruments to be somewhat more finely tuned. As it happens, I'm due for a new pair of glasses. I'm tempted to wait until May, when Eyeglasses Everywhere is due to begin operations. However, I think it's fair to say that if the glasses come back as well-calibrated as my monitor, I will be legally blind.

Matthew JC, Powell is squinting as he writes this. Lend him some focus on