With its controversial retail stores now open and competing for traditional channel sales, Compaq has started shifting its public relations attention away from damage control and onto raising some awareness of its brand.

This is of course essential if the whole exercise is going to be worth the pain it's causing resellers.

To achieve this, Compaq is focusing on millennium revelry rather than the millennium bug and, to get people talking about Q, it has revealed plans for sponsorship of a huge New Year's Eve celebration at the Sydney Opera House on December 31.

Ian Penman, MD of Compaq Australia, said recently that his company was going to give away thousands of tickets to "The House Party".

In line with the IT vendor's national plans for the Compaq-branded stores, all Australians will be given the chance to join the fun.

All Australian residents can enter the competition to win a pack of five tickets, as well as the chance to win one of three Compaq Presario computers valued at over $3000. If that is not enough of a lure, consolation prizes include tickets to the Starlight Pro Celebrity Tennis Championship in December.

What Compaq is not being so up-front about is the fact that offering such a "generous" prize is a great way to fast-track its assembling hundreds of thousands of names and addresses of mums and dads around Australia.

I can see it now. "All you need to do to be considered for this grand prize is tell us in 50 words or less what you want from your computer system," the entry form may say.

What Compaq will receive of course is an instant database of many of the customers it is trying to wrest from retailers like Harvey Norman and Coles Myer.

Of course, as the first civilised nation upon which the new millennium dawns, Sydney Harbour and the Opera House will have the whole world watching to see if any planes fall from the sky.

What's the bet Compaq logos will feature prominently at various sites that will make feel-good images for the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, in addition to offering families a chance to win some of the best seats on the Harbour for all this exciting government-funded entertainment, Compaq is also calling for nominations for a "Compaq Community Stars Event".

So in the unlikely event that you know any channel heavies deserving of nomination or you want to enter the competition and be on Compaq's CRM database, call 1900 123 226.

We at Tabloid are now officially over the shattering experience of losing Phil Sim (left), our former beloved leader, to IDG's new online business division.

To be perfectly honest, that recovery probably had more to do with the couple of cases of beer and the big bags of chippies his successor has laid on since arrival than any deep affection for any sort of leadership figure.

For those who knew our former fearless leader, this photo may not come as much as a shock. His reputation as a genuine hard-core party man precedes the publication of this image in the esteemed IT journal that is Tabloid's messenger.

However, for those who don't have the dirt, we thought it was crucial to credit more to this fabulous individual than just an incisive editorial column once a week.

Seeing as we no longer have to cater to the whims of THE DIM ONE, we thought it was only appropriate to show him at his fully irreverent best.

Here we see the channel's fallen champignon enjoying the fellowship of LAN System's Nick Verykios and some of his resellers as they coach their way across the US south east in what the network distributor called its LANmania 99 tour.

While LAN Systems' team were happy to reveal the identity of our boss, it seems they were a little less keen to identify his partner in crime.

Always at the cutting edge of a scandal, Tabloid is thrilled to be able to identify the man at right as Verykios himself. For the effort, we have appointed him as honorary editor of Tabloid and the honourable Minister of Fun at our next ChannelWorld party.


As the Crowe flies

Distributor MUA has appointed former Network Associates, Unisys, Cray Communications and Texlon channels man Damon Crowe as its new national sales manager, computer telephony integration.

Charged with launching the company's new SOX (small office exchange) CTI product and other channel programs, Crowe will be based in Sydney.

Thrilled with his new appointment, MUA staff are looking forward to Crowe's promise to get brother Russell along to the welcome party.

Gateway recalls holy cows

Tabloid was interested to note that Gateway was forced to engage in a recall of millions of units recently. Fortunately for the direct seller, it was not boxes they were requesting to be returned but soft "stress cows".

It seems that after several complaints of near misses, a US health regulater instructed Gateway to recall the toys as it is possible to bite or tear off parts of the cows. These parts would then pose a choking threat to small children.

The grape escape

ACA Pacific and Veritas have been conducting a competition over recent months for resellers who have been moving its NT back-up solution, BackUp Exec.

As a result, two sales stars from NSW-based reseller Software Spectrum are taking a luxury holi- day for two. Advanced Business Technologies, also from NSW, secured the second prize in the form of a $4500 Sony home entertainment package.

South Australia's Just IT Solutions secured the bronze medal of a HP home computer and printer.

In addition to these prizes each of the three sales teams received bottles of highly sought after and collectible Penfolds Grange wines.

Joke of the week:

One day little Timmy is in his back yard digging a hole. His neighbour, seeing him there, decides to investigate. "Whatcha doin Timmy?" he asks.

Timmy replies, "My goldfish died and I'm burying him."

"That's an awful big hole for a goldfish, ain't it?" asked the neighbour.

Timmy shouts back, "That's because he's inside your bloody cat!"

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