On Microsoft's Web page is the following enticement for cash-starved scholars. "Microsoft is offering ten $1,000 awards to outstanding undergraduate students. Five are allocated for women and five are allocated for people of color." As a variously-challenged brown mammal Mole may just be able to qualify in the latter category. It all rather depends how generously Microsoft defines "people".
As an antidote to this and politically correct nonsense like it, Mole would like to offer the following gem, which is also to be found on the Web.
"Last year, my friend upgraded his GirlFriend 3.1 to GirlFriendPlus 1.0 (marketing name: Fiancee 1.0). Recently he upgraded Fiancee 3.1 to Wife 1.0 and it's a memory hogger, has taken all his space; and Wife 1.0 must be running before he can do anything.
"Some features I'd like to see in the upcoming GirlFriend 4.0: a 'don't remind me again' button; minimise button; shutdown feature; an install-shield feature so that GirlFriend 4.0 can be completely uninstalled if so desired (so you don't lose cache and other objects).
"Wife 1.0 has an undocumented bug. If you try to install Mistress 1.1 before uninstalling Wife 1.0, Wife 1.0 will delete MS Money files before doing the uninstall itself. Then Mistress 1.1 will refuse to install, claiming insufficient resources."
Having circulated this to his pals, Mole receives the following reply from a long-suffering beta tester (let's call him 'Roger' to protect his identity): "I'm in the process of downsizing to ExWife 1.0, but I think this requires a full system re-install, reconfiguring the hardware - I even lose my token ring investment. Should I switch to a multi-user environment?" The answer, in Mole's experience, is no, this will probably result in extra complications and more expense in the long run.
Readers whose memories have not been shot to pieces by years of hard drinking or drug abuse, may recall Compaq's notorious 'acid blotter' promotion, a seriously misguided mailshot that involved sending envelopes crammed with tiny squares of paper to customers. How we laughed as a shower of paper pixels descended on our coffee and keyboards and lodged in every crack and crevice. How we vowed never to buy anything from Compaq again as we went off in search of tweezers to extricate the last of the little devils. And how Compaq's marketing people scraped and grovelled when the flood of complaints broke over their silly heads. Stupidity lovers everywhere will be pleased to hear that some people never learn. One Sharon Roe at Epson has sent the company's dealers a Christmas card to remind them to flog more Epson consumables in 1997. Inside each card are hundreds of pine needles, which are every bit as good at jamming keyboards as Compaq's paper squares, with the added advantage that, in rare cases, they might find their way into the eyes of recipients, providing handy extra work for opticians at a traditionally slow time of year.
Because Mole is essentially an honourable creature, he cannot let the opportunity pass to set the record straight about Compaq's withdrawal of its benchmark result for the Proliant 5000 server, heralded as the first such machine to get the cost of tpc-C transactions down below $100 per whatsit. Not to mince words, Mole had suggested Compaq had been cheating, but unfortunately for those of us who enjoy a good story of chicanery, the irritatingly virtuous company withdrew the result after discovering an error in the test software. Sadly, in a re-run of the test, the smug little Proliant still managed nought to sixty in record-breaking time.
It's hard to remember that programming once had a certain cachet, but these days it's a distinctly dirty job. In fact, only rats need apply.
Witness the following advertisement for a database hack in the jobs section of the Hong Kong Standard: "Experience in SQL-database, especially Informix, MS SQL Sewer."
Because it's that time of year, here are the inevitable top 10 Christmas gift ideas.
For Bill Gates: an Internet of his own.
For IT managers: a millenium novelty calendar (1997, 1998, 1999, bang!)
For the management of Netscape Communications: a future.
For IBM: cranberry sauce to go with Lotus.
For Apple's chief executive Gil Amelio: an ounce of charisma.
For Novell: a signed copy of Bill Gates' new book The Node Ahead.
For Network Computer vendors: a customer.
For Larry Ellison: humility, sincerity, integrity, probity (pick any four).
For Scott McNealy: anything Larry can't use.
For himself: anything funny, scandalous, secret or controversial that any of the above would hate to see in print.
It only remains to wish readers the best for the festive season, especially those who contributed so generously to this column in 1996. Here's hoping for a Christmas of colour, as they say in Redmond.
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