NOTES FROM THE FIELD: @Home digs a new hole

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: @Home digs a new hole

Randi says I must have been having a senior moment recently when I passed along a tip that Intel's Pentium IV didn't work with Java. I do know better. As many astute readers have pointed out, Java's a platform-independent language. It doesn't matter if it's Pentium IV or Amiga. If there's a compiler for it, it will run.

"Didn't you write that column right after we did the wine country tour in Sonoma, Bobby?" Randi asked. "Maybe visiting Rabbit Ridge was just one too many."

Microsoft recently threw around its weight - and its fat wallet - to squash an independent testing lab from publishing benchmark results that the lab ran for an IT publication. The test demonstrated that SQL Server 7 runs nearly twice as fast on Windows NT 4.0 than it does on Windows 2000.

The lab's director of research claims that when he discovered the performance crevasse, thinking it his own fault, he contacted Microsoft and worked with them for a week to figure out what went wrong. When neither company could fix the problem, MS shifted its sails, thereby changing the direction of the wind as well, and cited a SQL Server "no publication without authorisation" licence clause, indirectly threatening legal action.

"We used to be Microsoft fans," the lab director said. "Now, I just feel like I got run over by a train. When they realised they couldn't fix the problem, they, as my son would say from Toy Story, put on their angry eyes and came after us. We have been intimidated into not going forward with our results because we don't have the pockets to battle Microsoft in court." The results were on the lab's Web site Thursday evening but had disappeared by Friday morning.

Along the way, Microsoft pulled one of the tricks for which it has gained notoriety: blaming the hardware. The lab's director said that Microsoft declared a NIC (network interface card) to be at fault, which he added was a common Intel NIC - one on the hardware compatibility list Team Redmond points to so frequently.

Many readers have written to say that their @Home installations have been trouble-free. But an unconfirmed tip from an @Home tech may mean the salad days could soon be over.

Word is that @Home plans to consolidate its mail servers, moving from a couple dozen to just three nationwide. Along with all the e-mails from happy @Homers, several others arrived complaining about breakdowns in e-mail delivery services.

Perhaps to counter the publicity surrounding its first two rounds of layoffs, for its third-round RedSky summoned each victim individually to deliver the news.

"Next time, let's do the wine tour on a weekend, Bobby," Randi said. Oh, the sacrifices I make to be an industry icon.

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

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