NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Finding a new balance

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Finding a new balance

Randi wants me to get my life more in balance. Now my idea of balance has been avoiding wipeouts while test driving new Harleys, or stopping at just two martinis. But my new love has different ideas.

"If anyone needs an enlightening experience it's you, Bobby," Randi said as she paged through a new-age spa brochure.

Hackers may be seeking greater enlightenment too. A new joke circulating on the Internet claims to be an e-mail virus that relies on the honour system. It says: "The message you are now reading contains no hidden attachments or anything other than the text you see here. It is a computer virus sent to you on the Honor System. Please delete all files on your hard drive and then forward this message to everyone you know." Now that's what I call a kinder, gentler hacker.

A couple of you wrote in about Sun Microsystems' slogan "the dot in dot-com" after I unveiled Microsoft's plans to hijack the slogan by registering every imaginable variation of the phrase as domain names. A few astute readers noted that the reason Sun no longer uses that slogan is that on the Internet, Sun's root server has been replaced by an IBM S80. That means that IBM is now the dot in dot-com.

Meanwhile, at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Florida last week, the company had technical problems of its own. Its Commnet system that all TechEd registrants are supposed to use to print out slide presentations couldn't perform the simplest of tasks. Users said they couldn't log in and they couldn't load the intranet site. And then when users finally made it to the slides, they couldn't print.

Microsoft remade the images a half dozen times and blamed everything under the sun for the failures. Finally they just shut down half the computers so that the other half would work.

Some high-tech workers were having more serious problems last week. People at IBM Global Services, also known as Gerstner's Slaves (after Big Blue CEO Lou Gerstner), say that 1000 workers have been cut from the payroll.

Although IBM says fewer than 1 per cent of the workforce was affected, some units report numbers as high as 20 per cent.

At least one vendor is trying to make everyone just get along. Bluestone Software, maker of a suite of servers and technologies for e-business, will announce later this year a new business-to-business facility that's designed to integrate digital exchanges with one another.

"Quit changing the subject, Bobby," Randi said, pulling her long blond hair behind her ears and staring at me earnestly. "You need to change your attitude."Looking down at the brochure, she said, "While you're at the resort, there are all kinds of bodywork sessions too." Maybe I can strike some kind of compromise here.

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

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