Insensitive computer programmers with little knowledge of geography have cost the giant Microsoft company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and led hapless company employees to be arrested by offended governments. \nThe problem has damaged the company's reputation and the "trust rating," which is seen as key to keeping the company competitive, has dropped, a senior Microsoft executive revealed on Wednesday at the International Geographers Conference in Glasgow. \nIn a frank assessment of the company's problems in trying to be a global player without offending local sensibilities, Tom Edwards, its senior geopolitical strategist, said employees' lack of basic geography was to blame. \nThe company has now launched geography classes for its staff to avoid further bloomers which have caused embarrassment and cost money on a grand scale. He said that as a geographer himself it was depressing that Americans had a reputation for being particularly unaware of the rest of the world. \nThe annual National Geographic Survey had thrown up the sad fact that only 23 out of 56 young Americans knew the whereabouts of the Pacific Ocean. \n"It is therefore no surprise that some of our employees, however bright they may be, have only a hazy idea about the rest of the world," he said. "The repercussions on us can be very serious." \nAs an American company with a global reach, Microsoft had to try to foster trust for the reliability of its software and not cause offence. \nHe said in all cases the mistakes made were simply through ignorance but this was not how they were seen in the countries concerned. They were all seen as deliberate policy and so the offence taken was far greater as a result. \nPerhaps the best known, and one of the most expensive, errors was a color-coded world map showing time zones, which showed the disputed Jammu-Kashmir region as not being in India -- an offence under Indian law. The mistake led to the whole of the Windows 95 operating system being banned in the country, losing large sales. \nFor Microsoft Office 97, the firm removed the color coding and sold 100,000 copies in India. \nEdwards said the decisions on what to do about disputes arising over Microsoft products was taken entirely on commercial grounds. \nFor example when employees were arrested in Turkey because Kurdistan had been shown as a separate entity on maps of the country, a decision was taken to remove Kurdistan from all maps. \n"Of course we offended Kurds by doing this but we had offended the Turks more and they were a much more important market for our products. It was a hard commercial decision, not political," Edwards said. \nOne mistake that caused catastrophic offence was a game called Kakuto Chojin, a hand-to-hand fighting game. The fighting went on with rhythmic chanting in the background which in reviewing the game Edwards noticed appeared to be Arabic. \n"I checked with an Arabic speaker in the company who was also a Muslim about what the chant meant and it was from the Koran. He went ballistic. It was an incredible insult to Islam," Edwards said. \nHe asked for the game to be withdrawn but it was issued against his advice in the US in the belief that it would not be noticed. \nThree months later, the Saudi Arabian government made a formal protest. Microsoft withdrew the game worldwide. \nHis investigations showed the Japanese, who had developed the game for Microsoft, had added the chant to the tape because they liked the sound of it without checking its origins. \n"They were chastised and corrected," he said. \nEdwards said it was better to be honest and open about these mistakes. It was all part of rebuilding that vital trust in the product.
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the