Last week the tip gods were not playing on my side. The river was running dry.
My usual sources were either on the road or had the fear of God put in them by meddling public relations types. So I had to give up my chaise by the pool to go to user group meetings and seminars, sniffing around for the dark underbelly of the technology industry.
Wasn't I surprised when I ran into my new friend Randi at a user group meeting.
It seems Randi works in the human resources department at one of the large technology companies out here and was scouting for some new talent. Brown eyes flashing, she scolded me for how I treated her in a recent column and asked what my women readers thought.
Well, I have to admit: not much. To make it up to her, I agreed to take her out to dinner at the destination of her choice this weekend.
There wasn't much sympathy for the press at Microsoft's recent CEO Summit, either. The company made sure that pesky reporters such as myself didn't have a chance to embarrass Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer by asking those annoying antitrust questions. Still, a CEO at the summit took care of that for us.
Compaq CEO Michael Capellas responded to a reporter's questions by saying it would be easier to "bundle" them together into one answer. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ballmer gulp and his eyes bulge out.
Another former antitrust target, IBM, recently flexed its muscle at some poor working stiff - actually an IT professional - from the Florida Department of Labor. Charged with choosing what enterprise storage servers the department would use in its 127 data centres (not a small-change deal), the IT pro had his choices narrowed down to EMC or IBM. Much to IBM's displeasure, he went with EMC. IBM's ire was only compounded when several neighbouring states followed suit, rejecting the IBM product in favour of EMC.
To punish him, IBM tried to get this Florida Labor Department guy fired, saying he was incompetent. To save his job, the IT pro showed his boss the results of tests he had performed that revealed EMC's offering was faster and more reliable. IBM took its complaint all the way up to the Secretary of Labor in Florida, but the test results spoke for themselves.
"You never get fired for choosing IBM" now has new meaning. Qwest Communications International was another company that bared its teeth last week. The broadband Internet communications company was none too pleased when i-TeleCo.com, a company too small even to have its own Web site yet, put out a press release talking about the strategic agreement it had just signed with Qwest.
The i-TeleCo.com release said the tiny subsidiary of i-incubator.com had plans to resell a whole slew of Qwest services. Upon reading the press release, Qwest officials terminated the contract with i-TeleCo.com, saying "i-TeleCo.com issued an inaccurate press release announcing a so-called strategic agreement'." Ouch.
Randi's choice for dinner this weekend? She's having me dish out the food at a homeless shelter. "If you do a good job, Bobby, I'll take you back to my place and rub your aching feet," she said, smiling.
Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld