NOTES FROM THE FIELD: A strict sugar cube diet

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: A strict sugar cube diet

Score another one for Randi. My vegetarian girlfriend had hoped that the gastrobot I wrote about last week eschewed meat dishes in favour of a more politically correct diet.

So she was pretty happy when I received an e-mail from the inventor of that robot that said, in all caps: "My robot does not eat meat. I have no intention of ever using meat."

Dr Stuart Wilkinson says his robot only works with carbohydrates (sugar and starches) and is currently eating only sugar cubes. Vegetation as a food source is possible, Wilkinson says, but only after many more years of research.

"You should follow that robot's lead, Bobby," Randi said as she leafed through my Atkins diet book. "You wouldn't need this anymore." Still, after my plate of bean sprouts and steamed broccoli, I just didn't feel satisfied.

Some Web hosting customers have also felt unsatiated lately by their providers' services. One reader returned from a business trip to find his Web site had reverted to an earlier, less attractive and less content-rich stage of development. Upon contacting, the Web hosting company, this reader was told that the site had never progressed beyond that stage. ValueWeb didn't have an answer, however, as to why the reader's log files showed hits for files that ValueWeb claimed were never on the site.

A company that provides consulting services to customers that are setting up Web sites reported that its Web hosting company,, also had proved to be less than satisfactory lately. "All my Interland sites are dead," an executive at the company said. Calls to Interland's tech support services didn't help either. According to Interland's tech support staff, the problem was caused by an issue with the company's DNS servers and they had no estimate as to when the problem could be fixed.

On the other side of the service provider spectrum, is hungrily doing deals. This application service provider (ASP), which runs service, is now negotiating with Oracle, the big database and enterprise resource planning (ERP) company that is trying to expand its ASP partnerships.

Another big company has realised that ASPs may be more than a passing trend. IBM's subsidiary Lotus Development is looking to create an ASP model for its Notes/Domino platform, sources say.

In addition, Lotus plans to drop a Mobile Service module for Domino into its ASP pack within a year.

One reader, however, says some software needs to slim down. Apparently, Intuit QuickBooks Pro includes a bunch of files that don't help the software work. They are photos of the development team trying to "hog my hard drive," the reader says.

"You'll get used to this new diet, Bobby," Randi told me as she nibbled on the end of a carrot stick.

Under the excuse of going out to buy more soy milk and other rabbit food, I went to the McDonald's drive-through. Ah, the smell of a Quarter Pounder and fries.

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

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