Late last November, one of Intel's customers handed a journalist friend of Mole's a document containing intimate details of Klamath, Intel's next generation of microprocessor. The resulting story caused a great deal of huffing and puffing on Intel's part and dark threats of legal action. Most companies are sensitive about the publication of confidential information as a matter of principle. They also have more pragmatic concerns about the release of such information, which they argue may be of value to their competitors or may damage sales of existing products, though Mole suspects that corporate pique was at the root of Intel's objection this time.
It didn't help that shortly after the story appeared Dell was making a bold claim on its Web site and in sales literatureof the abilities of its Optiplex range to "support MMX processors when available". This, as Dell's rivals were quick to point out to Intel, is somewhat disingenuous given that the range is powered by the 430FX Triton chipset, which is rapidly heading for its second birthday. The reference to MMX processors, which none of us was supposed to know about until last week, was immediately expunged from Dell's Web site after Intel reminded Dell that the information was, to use the quaint language of the corporate lawyer, "under non disclosure". We can but dwell on the pleasing prospect of the rather smug and well-fed Mr Michael Dell getting kicked about a bit by the wiry, fit looking Mr Andrew Grove behind closed, heavily sound-proofed doors at Intel HQ.
How much worse a beating might poor Mr Dell have to suffer if Intel suspected that his company had been the source of the Klamath leak too? Of course only a scoundrel or professional mischief-maker would suggest such a thing.
Fearing that it would be left with warehouses full of unsold Pentium Pros if news of a successor broke too early, Intel took the unusual step of unloading a job lot in December. At least this was what Mole concluded when he read that the world's fastest supercomputer has been constructed from no less than 7,624 of the fiery little chips. The resulting microprocessing monster is apparently being employed to simulate nuclear explosions by the US Department of Energy. Given the power requirement of so many Pentiums, it may be argued that the Yanks will outstrip demand for electrical power even before they discover new ways of producing it. And in light of the incendiary potential of so many Pentiums in one place, the news also begs the question: why is this dangerous machine so close to home when, in the time-honoured tradition of French nuclear research, it could have been removed to the safety of a South Pacific island?
A more cautious approach has been taken by NATO, which clearly takes its Web site (http://www.nato.int) very seriously indeed. As is well-known, the Internet was originally developed as a highly redundant network that would allow the military to maintain communications in the event of a nuclear strike. This may be why the mirror server for the NATO site is sensibly located in Estonia, a non-NATO country. Hopefully Estonia would still be left standing in the event of any major dust-up involving the US, and the important business of keeping the public informed about NATO's efforts to keep them safe could continue unhindered.
Although the possibility of a nuclear attack in Mole's neighbourhood is fairly remote, Mole is resolved to move further into the country just to be sure. As a prospective house-buyer he has been able to witness at first hand the upturn in the market which punters assure us heralds the beginning of a new boom. A further sign of good times ahead was spotted by a reader of the last issue of PC Week who came across an advert for a support team leader with AAH Meditel at the inflation-proof salary of #245,000.
Not all the news from the world of recruitment is as good. A job ad in The Guardian suggests that the skills crisis has deepened, resulting in a severe downgrading in employers' expectations of prospective employees. Apparently there is a dreadful shortage of competent C and C++ hacks because the ad, placed by a desperate-sounding firm named Scavenger Ltd, asked for "coders fluent in C- and assembler programming".
Several readers have written in with further details of the forthcoming upgrade to the Wife 1.0 program, which Mole wrote about before Christmas. One wrote that Mole had failed to mention the drawback that "Wife 2.0 is definitely not backwards-compatible with with any previous versions and normally requires at least one change of wallpaper". A second also warned of compatibility problems and worse: "I agree that trying to install any other program such as Mistress 1.1, AuPair 1.3 (Blonde European Language version), or even prolonged use of a TV capture device such as Couch 2.2 can cause programming, resource, or relocation difficulties." Furthermore, all Wifeware releases to date have suffered from "an unpredictable facility to replicate. This can happen a random number of times, but the national average would appear to be 2.4 child programs per original...and it is impossible to remove these new programs. Even 'format c:/' does not appear to work".
Mole would like to thank his readers for sharing these insights. Perhaps their wives and children would now like to pass judgement on the pros and cons of the Husband and Father product ranges. (But remember, only tasteless, sexist stuff like the above will qualify for publication.) Finally, the usual reminder to send any gossip that has accumulated since Mole has been away to the Email address at the head of this column. Or phone 0171 316 9068 and dig the dirt in person.
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