Bobby's future

Bobby's future

At last El Nino has subsided, so I took off on Highway 280 with the Mustang's top down to bring some colour to the ever-widening part in my hair. It's been a while since I gave the hot rod a burn, and I was bummed to find that I had to let out the seat belt a couple of inches.

Later, I sought comfort in a Big Mac at McDonald's, while I browsed through an in-depth analysis piece on Roller Girl in The Wall Street Journal.

I decided to pop down to the department store to score a copy of Dieting For Dummies only to find that Oracle sales folk are still under pressure to produce revenue. Tossed unceremoniously between Burt Bacharach and Loverboy in the bargain CD bin was a copy of the Oracle7 databaseÐmarked down to three bucks.

Always the industry boy scout, I told the staff that the real value of the award-winning database was in the region of $US50,000. But they were too busy mark- ing down Hitachi's VisionBook portable computers to listen.

Apparently the company has tried and failed to sell the notebook in the States and is pulling out of the market.

Speaking of fire sales, Net-scape's move to make its source code available for free may have jeopardised the company's marriage to IBM. I hear that Big Blue tried to add the company-in-search-of-a-revenue to its harem of incompatible software architectures. But it seems Netscape would prefer to give it away than end up with Big Blue.

I am glad to see that somebody's making money out of Java. Sun executives Ed Zander, Michael Spence, John Shoemaker, Janpieter Scheerder and the snakeskin-boot-wearing crown prince of Java himself, all sold $US50,000 worth of Sun stock recently. Boots is said to be doing such a fine job that he is being promoted and will get his own office without a telephone at Sun's Half Moon Bay Campus.

Others that have been awarded no contact with the outside world include productivity application vendor Coopers and Peters, a company bought by Microsoft in 1997.

Sadly, the products that could have been regarded in competition with Microsoft Office have not been released. Microsoft officials are describing this move as "a people acquisition, not a technology acquisition".

However, a call to Redmond will establish that the company's founders, Ken Cooper and Ted Peters, are unavailable, so a people acquisition must be an elegant way to kill a potential competitive technology.

Anything can happen in a big city

by Robert X. Cringely

After a flood of e-mail, voice, fax and bike messages, I feel painfully familiar with the distinction between freedom and a life of shared pleasure. If you ever need to point out a flaw, then please send your thoughts on any matter. Or better yet, pass on a tip.

Like the fact that a few weeks ago, the top Oracle Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sales executive quit. I hear he just changed his voice mail and booked out of there, while the company tried to negotiate a deal with Sherwin Williams worth between $US10 and $US20 million. This sudden departure raises several questions about Oracle's CPG effort, especially in the light of recent resignations by senior executives in other vertical application areas, such as George Van Ness in Oil and Gas.

Insiders tell me that one cause may be that sales people are under enormous pressure to close deals and make the numbers, and they're being "encouraged" to promise customers anything -- which means Oracle selling applications it's having trouble supporting. Apparently Kellogg, Oracle's CPG flagship customer, is furious over Oracle's shabby support.

If Compaq can buy Digital, anything's possible. I hear rumours from an NCR employee that Siemens Nixdorf Information Systems may buy NCR. This is an intriguing play.

My mole claims the deal would make Siemens the world's number one vendor of point-of-sale systems, and it would give Siemens some interesting systems technology as well as NCR's Teradata massively parallel database software, Top End transaction-processing technology, and some Intel expertise.

The Intel savvy will come in handy if, as my mole contends, SNI throws in the MIPS towel and moves to Merced.

Got some gossip? Send e-mail to me at

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