It must have been an act of sabotage, but whose? About 200 delegates turned out to the Ramada hotel in Heathrow to hear Sun bang on about the deficiencies of Windows NT. The seminar, which asked the rather leading question "Windows NT: Myth or Reality?", was a propaganda exercise designed to prove that Unix is a jolly good thing and the alternative isn't. When the newly brainwashed emerged from the conference and went to collect their cars, they discovered that a minor disaster had struck - in the form of the total breakdown of the automatic ticketing system. On closer examination, the payment machines were found to be running an embedded version of a certain operating system not a million miles from Microsoft Windows. Mole has it on good authority that next time Sun goes in for a spot of propaganda, it will skip the costly and time-consuming seminar and move the proceedings straight to the car park.
Following Mole's revelation that Microsoft had trademarked the background colour white as part of its attempt to annex the World Wide Web, a PC Week reader has concocted a cunning plan to strike back. The reader claims to have secured rights to the concept "complete and utter tosser" on grounds that Bill Gates is almost certainly guilty of copyright infringement.
Mole can sense one of those complicated look and feel cases coming on.
If Sun wanted an answer to its myth or reality question, it should have sent a couple of representatives to the annual Microsoft team-building weekend, which took place this year in the Lake District. To judge by the activities laid on for the fresh-faced boys and girls of Winnersh, Microsoft is drifting further than ever into the "myth" camp. Among the ridiculously self-regarding tasks set for staff was to recover Excalibur from one of the lakes. They were to be assisted in this heroic venture by a machine designed to raise the sword with the help of a small explosive charge. But like many a piece of hardware powered by Microsoft, this one broke and Excalibur failed to appear. A frogman sent in to salvage King Bill's weapon failed to dislodge it, and in the end, with all concerned feeling less like Knights of the Round Table and more like a bunch of copyright infringers, an enterprising employee waded fully clothed into the lake to claim Excalibur for himself.
In fairness, the myth-building day did demonstrate that some members of the Microsoft management team have not entirely lost their grip on reality. Asked to put on a 10 minute cabaret, one group cruelly portrayed Internet product manager Jeremy Gittens as a shopping trolley, an idea they may have got from an item that appeared in this column a few weeks ago. Mole is not sure, but he believes this may constitute an infringement of copyright and makes a mental note to check with his lawyer.
Non-payment of bills is a serious problem that threatens to bring British business to its knees. This was a thought that struck Mole when BT last disconnected his telephone, cutting off not only his only means of communication with dear friends and relatives, but also his livelihood for several painful weeks. So it is with a certain grim satisfaction that Mole learns that BT has itself been sent the dreaded red bill - by InterNIC, the organisation that administers domain names on the Internet. Failure to pay the InterNIC bill can result in the disappearance of domains registered to the defaulter.
Last time anyone bothered to check, the domain names bt.net and bt.com were listed as "on hold", which has rather serious implications for BT's visibility in cyberspace unless someone deploys the corporate cheque-book soon. And is it coincidence that the near-catastrophic failure of BACS, which threatened to delay payment of thousands of salary cheques just before Easter, was blamed on BT. Another unpaid bill? Let's hope so.
Eradicating BT from the Internet is a relatively simple matter, erasing all trace of sex is proving more difficult. Concerned parents who rely on filtering packages to block access to sexually explicit sites may be guilty of stunting their offspring's intellectual growth. According to wire reports, a site dedicated to the work of the poet Ann Sexton has been filtered out by some of this simple-minded software, which simply scan sites for blacklisted keywords, one of which happens to be the first syllable of Ms Sexton's surname. Harder to understand is why one package also prevented a search on the name Sri Lanka. Former Ceylon or dubious sexual practice? Sadly, our children may never get the chance to find out.
Viewers of the popular US hospital drama series ER are having their enjoyment of the programme ruined by the sight of countless piebald cardboard boxes being carried across the screen episode after episode. The distinctive Gateway 2000 packaging is featured courtesy of many thousands of dollars worth of product placement. The commercial message that reaches Mole is: "If you like emergencies, you'll love these," though this is not perhaps quite what Gateway's marketing people had in mind.
Bored with the election? Then cheer yourself up with the results of Mole's specially commissioned survey of IT literacy in the major political parties.
Do our would-be rulers know what ISDN stands for? How many of them can tell you how many schools have an Internet connection? Which were able to recall the address of the Playboy Web site? Find out next week, when Mole reports live from Westminster.
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