NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Where's the meat?

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Where's the meat?

Randi went too far with her campaign to turn me into a carrot-chewing vegetarian last week. She cooked me one of those fake burgers that are actually made of tofu.

The whole concept of processing vegetable matter to make it resemble meat seems dumb to me: Anyone who gives up meat won't be satisfied by artificial attempts to re-create its texture and flavour.

Meanwhile, in the IT industry, the flavour of the month still seems to be Linux. I'm told there's a plan afoot for IBM to use Linux as lingua franca for unifying its Netfinity, RS/6000, AS/400, and mainframe servers. The products can already run Linux programs, and IBM is encouraging ISVs to write in Linux so their programs can be more easily ported across the platforms, my source says.

I've also heard that Compaq is developing a Linux-based version of its iPaq PocketPC handheld device. It won't be the first attempt to bring Linux to handhelds - speech recognition specialist Lernout & Hauspie has a Linux-based handheld called Nuk - but it will undoubtedly lend credence to the idea.

Still on the Linux front, I'm told that SAP is privately saying that Linux is the next strategic platform for it to target. SAP already has about 300 Linux-based implementations in Europe, but to date it has not actively pushed the platform for its products in the United States. That could change, I'm told, in the near future.

I'm still unclear, however, why the company sees Linux as being so strategic. I suspect that the company is just worried about missing an industry bandwagon, as it did a few years ago by recognising very late the impact that the Internet would have on its core businesses.

I've also heard a rumour that all is not well at vertical industry marketplace site I'm told that the company has been somewhat tardy in paying many of its bills, which has led to lawsuits being instigated against the company and to an exodus of many staff who are fearful that the whole company may soon go belly-up. Apparently, these resignations come in the wake of about one-third of the company being laid off in an effort to cut costs.

The prize for hype of the week goes to Contact Group International, which is attempting to auction the domain name (which, in my humble opinion, is pretty crappy anyway). The company sent an e-mail to the press saying that "experts" expect the auction to beat the $US8 million paid for earlier this year and referencing a "story" on Yahoo Financial News to support its claim. The "story" turned out to be a press release, and the only "experts" quoted were officers at the company.

I took one mouthful of Randi's fake burger and spent the rest of the day feeling sick. "Give it another chance, Bobby - you'll get used to it," Randi said. I wasn't sure if she meant the burger or the nausea.

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

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