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NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Braving the horrors

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Braving the horrors

Microsoft's marriage to Intel may be headed for a nasty bust-upAgainst my better judgment, I went to Comdex again this year, braving the horrors of an exhibit floor as large as the Pacific Ocean and taxi lines the length of California's Highway 101. "Forget it, Bobby," Randi had said when I invited her to go with me. "I don't like New York and I really don't like Las Vegas, especially during Comdex."

So again she babysat my apartment, my digital cable, and my new TiVo personal TV service as I went off to the Nevada desert to see the latest in cool gadgets and to be a part of that technology carnival we call Comdex.

This year I again saw robot dogs, enormous flat panel displays, more PDAs (personal digital assistants), virtual reality goggles, and slim and light notebook computers.

Executives discussed Internet-enabled cars, new computer viruses, and the still undecided presidential election. It was enough to spin the heads of lesser technology journalists.

The Hard Rock Cafe was crawling with Microsoft code writers and handshake artists during the Advanced Micro Devices party. It made me wonder if the famous Microsoft/Intel marriage may be on the rocks.

Bill Gates' goons I spoke with were openly bad-mouthing the Pentium chip. The AMD chips are far superior as far as graphics go, they said. Ouch.

Also at Comdex, Intel itself was getting ready to move further away from the marriage. The company was preparing for its announcements early next year of alliances with several ISPs. Through the alliances, consumers will get free Intel Dot.Station Web appliances when they sign up for the ISP service. The Dot.Station devices are designed for those users who don't have computers or Internet access. And these devices don't run on Windows. They use a combination of Linux and Mozilla technology.

Acer America is looking to include iris recognition technology in the next generation of its notebooks. Using technology from Iridian, the new systems will scan a user's iris and compare it with the pattern that is already on file in the system. At Comdex, Iridian unveiled its Authenticam product, which functions as both a videoconferencing tool and an iris recognition security tool.

The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas plans to have its own 802.11 wireless network in place in time for Comdex 2001. That network will arrive courtesy of wireless server technology from mobile communications company Red-M. In fact, I've heard that the entire city of Las Vegas may very well be able to support wireless networking by then.

Maybe when Las Vegas is equipped with a wireless network Randi will come with me to Comdex.

"Don't bet on it Bobby," she said over the phone when I called from the hotel lobby. "But if you get us one of those suites at the Venetian, maybe we can talk about it."

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


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