And finds a Sterling example of how not to ditch a significant otherI'm glad to be back home after the hell that is Comdex, but I'm still without my better half. Rose is showing no signs of returning from New York, and I spent most of last week pleading with her to return. She's having a great time catching up with old friends in the Big Apple, and I'm scared that there's not enough for her here in the Bay area to bring her back.
At least she's being honest with me about how she feels, though, and is not planning to jilt me behind my back - which is exactly what I heard that Sterling Commerce has done. Apparently the company has unhitched its ConnectRemote remote systems management software from Computer Associates' ControlIT management package and is ready to hitch it to Symantec's pcAnywhere software. Computer Associates officials expressed no knowledge of the breakup and stressed plans to attempt a reconciliation.
There's no word on why Sterling is making the switch, but it's normally a sign that the vendor realises it has backed the wrong horse - which would make me very nervous if I was a ControlIT management customer.
Meanwhile, to return to a subject I wrote about last week, apparently the `runaway mouse' phenomenon, which I said affects Microsoft Excel running on Microsoft Windows 2000, also affects other platforms.
I heard from one reader who runs Windows 98 second edition with Microsoft Office 2000. He says that occasionally when he is online, the cursor takes on a mind of its own, opening and closing windows at will. It has even switched the machine off.
A second reader who runs Excel on Windows NT and experienced the same thing says he thought he was going crazy until he read about the problem here.
Another reader sent me a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that blames the problem on rapid mouse movement occurring while a notebook computer is recovering from standby state or is being docked or undocked. However, the reader says this is inaccurate and that it can also occur on a desktop that does not have standby enabled. I was also contacted about my Excel tip, the one where I said that Excel's Autosum button can mysteriously start totalling cells vertically, rather than by rows.
Two readers wrote in to say that this is not a bug but a feature, and a third - who re-created it on his desktop - accused me of being `unfair' for reporting it.
`[Excel] very clearly showed me what cells it expected to sum before I pressed Enter to confirm. That's hardly a problem, and I think it was poor sportsmanship for you to report it in that way,' he wrote.
I must admit that I am puzzled by this attitude. The reader seems to be saying that it doesn't matter if your software doesn't do what you want, as long as it warns you in advance.
What's next? Spell checkers that warn you, `I'll do my best, but I'm not too good on those long words'?
It seems I'm not the only one feeling Rose's absence. I went into the local liquor store to find the proprietor with his head in his hands - apparently he hasn't had such a bad month since before Rose moved into the neighbourhood.
Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld