Bobby makes New Year's plans

Bobby makes New Year's plans

One Y2K problem often overlooked is IT staff wanting to take leaveRose and I celebrated our anniversary at a very nice French restaurant, but the talk was dominated by what we should do to celebrate the turn of the millennium. Rose thinks that Y2K will turn out to be a big fuss over nothing. I think it will be a bigger problem than that.

Y2K is definitely a problem for IT staff wanting to take a vacation over the period - I'm still hearing news of companies putting holiday-period restrictions on their staff. In my mind, the extent to which a company stops its IT staff from taking vacations over the holiday period is a much better indicator of its faith in its Y2K compliance than any public statements it makes.

But a source informs me that ABC News has taken a slightly different approach. It's not that the company is preventing its IT staff from taking vacation; it's just not letting the ones on duty leave the building. I've heard that those who are scheduled to work on December 31 have been told to stay until all necessary systems are tested and approved "even if that means days".

If that has caused a ruckus at ABC, it's nothing compared to the rancour I'm hearing about at IBM's Corepoint, the telemarketing subsidiary that Big Blue has absorbed into its software division.

One source says the real reason IBM made that move is that CEO Scott Webber (who came to Corepoint from its parent company Software Artistry, which IBM bought last year), didn't do things "the IBM way". Webber reportedly insisted to sceptical IBM officials that Corepoint would succeed as an independent company rather than an IBM subsidiary, but he went out on a lot of limbs, went over people's heads - a big no-no at Big Blue - even hired a separate legal team, and generally upset people. "He burned too many bridges," says my source. So, far from IBM reluctantly accepting his decision to leave, they apparently couldn't get rid of him fast enough. Corporate politics strike again.

I suspect that it was corporate profits rather than corporate politics that led Microsoft to remove its developer products from its support Web site. However, I have happier news for any developers who were ticked off by Microsoft's actions.

A reader informs me that it is still possible to get free online support by becoming a Microsoft Developer Network Online member. The reader assures me that the service is free (for now), and that it provides many free options for support, including all the KnowledgeBase articles.

Corporate secrecy is all the rage at Handspring, the company started by the founders of the PalmPilot, Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins, and no one from the company is talking about what product is in the works. So far, all we know is that it is a handheld device and that one analyst thinks it is "sexy" and "for Generation X-ers".

If one of my sources is to be believed, however, we may get more news about the product next January at the Consumer Electronics Show. Apparently, Handspring has just hired a show manager, and the speculation is that Handspring views this show as the perfect forum to make a big splash.

I, for one, will be watching for news of this new gizmo next January - but in light of the first tip in this week's column, it will be CNN rather than ABC News that I'll be watching.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld.

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