NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Dealing with power cuts

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Dealing with power cuts

After running out of vacation funds, Randi returned to power-strapped California last week from the spa retreat she took to escape the energy crisis.

"I can't believe they haven't solved this yet, Bobby," Randi said, no doubt fretting about the performance of her hair dryer and massage chair. As the state entered its third week of stage-three power alerts, no immediate solution appeared.

"I'm thinking about buying a house with solar panels, Bobby," Randi said. "I'll be sitting pretty when the power companies go out of business."

More power casualties?

My spies tell me that Cisco, which had planned a huge facility in Coyote Valley, just south of the heart of Silicon Valley, has put those plans on hold. Apparently the company told its builder to stand down for now. Perhaps the power crisis in the state and the scrapped plans for a new power plant in the Coyote Valley area has the company rethinking its commitment to California?

In what may be a sign of the times for the publishing industry, Adobe laid off its FrameMaker team. FrameMaker is the Adobe software designed for companies that publish content of a lengthy nature such as books to multiple channels like print, CD or the Web. Not only has the team been disbanded, but now sources close to the situation are saying that Adobe may not evensupport FrameMaker 6.0 with much enthusiasm.

Word on the street is that Compaq is teaming up with e-commerce-enabling technology company Bowstreet. The partnership calls for Compaq to embed Bowstreet's Web services software on the hardware maker's servers to create a managed service-provider platform.

Verizon customers thought they had it tough when the company recently double-billed thousands of them for DSL. But one customer of Bignet, a Covad reseller, has it even worse. The company triple-billed him for his services. Customer service said, "We will put a credit through immediately." But when he checked the next month's credit card bill, those charges had not been credited. Another call to customer service brought this explanation: "Well they must not have explained it correctly. We will credit against your service for upcoming months." But our reader reports that still hasn't happened.

Noble, but not smart

Anyone get a Barnes & Noble gift card as a holiday gift? In a case of squandering multichannel opportunities, the click-and-mortar retailer will accept the cards if you go into one of their stores. But don't try to spend that gift card online. The Barnes & Noble e-commerce site doesn't accept the company's gift cards.

"You'll be bringing your Tivo over to my new solar-powered house when the energy companies go out of business, Bobby," Randi told me. I wondered if that's been her master plan all along.

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

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