Bobby's right at home in the kennel

Bobby's right at home in the kennel

Bobby moves into the doghouse and checks his digital cable service.

With Rose still visiting her sister and not returning my phone calls, I've finally had the time to check out the TCI digital cable TV service we ordered some time back.

My first impressions were not good. For one, I hadn't realised that it isn't fully digital: most of the service is standard analog, but with a few digitally transmitted channels thrown in. And second, the digital channels kept freezing momentarily - normally during the best moments of whatever show I was watching. Think I'll go back to analog.

Talking of going back, I hear that Karl Jacob, the founder of Dimension X who outraged the Java community by agreeing to sell his company to Microsoft, has gone back to the Valley to look for his next startup after working for Microsoft for the past two years. There is still no word on whether Vizact - the Microsoft product that traces its roots back to Dimension X - will ship as a stand-alone product, or will be merely bundled into FrontPage and the rest of Microsoft Office 2000.

I hope that when Jacob left Microsoft it was on as good terms as senior vice president Marc Benioff's departure from Oracle seems to have been. Benioff is taking a bunch of his team at Oracle with him to his new startup at, and since Oracle never lets other employees take people with them when they leave, some sources think this venture has Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's blessing to help hurt Siebel.

I don't know whether to believe this or not, but I'm informed that among the domain names that Benioff has registered are and

I'm seeing a lot of bile from readers who are confused about Microsoft's Windows 98 pricing and shipping policy. One reader complained that the Microsoft Windows 98 Service Pack has been released by Microsoft, but is only available on CD and not as a Web download or TechNet CD. The CD is free, but costs $US5 for shipping. The Windows 98 Second Edition CD, however, costs $20, plus the $5 shipping.

Another reader complained that after ordering the Windows 98 Second Edition, he still has no idea how much Microsoft charged him. When ordering, he was quoted $26.51; when the CD shipped, the e-mail listed $21.20 (with no shipping charges), and the link for order status in that e-mail took him to a page which listed $25.26. The product is also referred to as Second Edition and Special Edition interchangeably in the process, he noted.

Finally, another reader questioned how to interpret the wording on a Microsoft Non-Disclosure Agreement that was recently received, whereby the address of the company read: "Once Microsoft Way." Perhaps Microsoft has learned its lesson from the DOJ case after all.

My final complaint about the digital cable service is that it takes much longer to flip channels, making surfing far less satisfying. I mean, if you can't toggle between WCW Wrestling and The Brady Bunch, what's the point in having cable?

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld. E-mail him at:

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