NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Keep an eye on that CPU

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Keep an eye on that CPU

Cool nights and chilly mornings - fall has arrived in America, so we've invested in warmer bike gear. That's right, Amber and I took to the road again last weekend for a trip to Monterey. Enjoying freedom means staying on the bike, so to speak.

Processor wars

The Advanced Micro Devices and Intel debate has come to the fore after the launch of AMD's Athlon XP last week. With it comes the marketecture hype that outright processor speed isn't everything, and good luck to them if it proves to be the case.

Here's the controversy: one reader said his company compared one Intel and one AMD machine, each processing the same rendered image on a 3D graphics package. The disturbing result: noticeably different post-processed file sizes and slight shading differences. Sure, it may not be a conclusive test, and we must assume both configurations were the same. But as my friend observes, "Imagine missile projectiles or vehicle designs that are incorrectly represented across machines -- it could have devastating results."

Life after the slammer

I'm flooded daily with press releases, all of which get trashed. The rare exception was this one.

You remember famed hacker Kevin Mitnick, who emerged on probation from the slammer in January 2000? He's landed a gig on the new show Alias, airing in the US.

Now he's CIA agent Burnett, a computer expert. Yes, it's ironic, but the funny thing is the show's creators have "worked with probation officers to ensure they use only prop computers". Talk about teasing an addict.

Update department

Another spy, this time from within Dell, says he faced something similar to what GE employees were required to do to boost former CEO Jack Welch's book sales.

"My last performance plan at Dell required us to read Michael's [Dell] book, Direct from Dell. I deleted that line from my plan and told my manager, ‘I lived it. I don't have to read it.'"I'm still enjoying the interest generated from my recent comparison of Nortel stock performance versus cashing in empty Budweiser cans.

Another witty spy notes, "If you'd put the $1000 in Exodus shares, you'd have $2.40. That means you could have spent the $79 from the empty cans on more beer and taken those empties back, and still had more than the Exodus shares were worth. Perhaps we need a geometric scale of losses: Exodus is a ‘second-order beer can stock'."

"You're enjoying yourself again!" Amber shouted as we cruised Highway 1 on the Harley. She's right, it's been tough to digest recent events, but I think she was speaking for both of us.

Got any antipodean gossip? Send it on to

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