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Notes from the field: Bobby ponders Compaq's alpha bet

Notes from the field: Bobby ponders Compaq's alpha bet

I'm feeling very guilty. It seems that when Rose was showing me vacation brochures a few weeks ago, it was because she was planning to surprise me with an all-expenses-paid vacation. I, of course, being hopelessly cynical, thought she expected me to do the paying.

So here I am, in Mazatlan, Mexico, writing my column from the poolside. Thanks to the Internet, voice mail, and a mobile phone I rented when I got here, I'm able to keep up to date, and I'm thinking of making this a permanent arrangement.

But while I just keep up to date, Compaq is trying to stay ahead of the curve - and if one source is believed, the company is desperately hoping that more success for the Alpha chip is just around the corner.

According to the source, we are about to see a concerted push from Compaq to emphasise the Alpha, and Compaq's Tru64 Unix. Intel machines will be sold, but the emphasis will be on Alpha, the story goes, and not much effort will be put into NT until the Merced IA64 chip hits the streets.

As part of this whole strategy, Compaq is purportedly hoping to push Linux to those companies that may not have Compaq equipment, but are not committed to any particular hardware vendor. The hope is that once Compaq can demonstrate how well Alpha performs with Linux, customers will be more willing to give Tru64 Unix a try.

Finally, while Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com slug it out on the Web, I was amused to read about Borders bookstores' different way of competing in the high-tech age. The company plans to use high-speed printers to publish out-of-print books on demand in its stores. Apparently, this intrigued IBM's CEO Lou Gerstner as well, and his first response was to call his company's PR department to find out if Borders is using IBM machines. At $1 million a pop for these printers, I can see why he'd be interested.

Rose has just come back with a love token for me, which she bought from a vendor on the beach: our names written on a single grain of rice, which has been put into a pendant. It was supposed to say "Bobby and Rose always", but actually says "Bobby and Rose all ways". Perversely, that seems even more appropriate.


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