November 16 – 22, 1997

from the Up-To-Date dept

Sponsored by the Technology Management Club of Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. And the “Just Say No To Comdex” Committee

                                The not always serious, 
                                not always weekly update
                                on the Hi-Tech Industry
                                November 16th - November 22nd
                Sponsored by the Technology Management Club of 
                Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management.
                And the "Just Say No To Comdex" Committee
Rare Letter from the Editor
First off, I would like to thank everyone who has been passing this
newsletter on to friends and colleagues.  The subscription rate, after a
slow October, has picked up to near September rates again.  I recently had
a question from a reader wondering if he was allowed to pass along copies
of Up-To-Date.  In fact, I encourage it, so long as it's not to someone who
is likely to accuse me of libel or anything else that might involve
lawsuits, threats, or the like.  I would appreciate it if you left the info
on how to subscribe etc. with whatever you pass on, but even that isn't
really a big deal.  It's not like I'm going to find out about it anyway.

I also continue to appreciate all of you who send me info, tidbits, jokes
or general nonsense for the newsletter, whether or not I use it.  The FAQ
(for those of you who asked, making it a FAQ in and of itself) is still
under development. 

Next week is Thanksgiving and I am not sure if I will be able to get a full 
"Up-To-Date" together in time for it to be sitting happily in your in-box 
Monday morning.  We'll see, but if it's late or short or missing entirely, 
I apologize ahead of time.

Finally, for those of you who have never checked out the Technology
Management Club's home page "Newsletter" section, I will put in a brief
plug for Brian Day's "Friends of the Revolution" newsletter.  Brian is a
Johnson alum and publishes that great newsletter on a semi-random basis
with his incredible insights.  He generally puts himself more on the line
than I would ever dare to do.  It's commentary... with an edge.  Check out
the web page: and go to the
newsletters section, or just send BD an email at and tell
him that I sent you...

Say that again...
"You don't go into attack with co-ax cable hanging out your rear end." 
- A Marine major brought on stage during the Comdex Keynote by Bill Gates,
expressing my exact thoughts on the need for wireless...

"If the Department of Justice is successful in keeping Internet Explorer 4
from being bundled in Windows 98, Microsoft could be put out of business."
- Bill Gates, not convincing anyone

"The PC is truly a device that only an engineer can love."
- Larry Ellison, winning over plenty of engineers for his Network Computer

"Our OEMs have been asking for a total solution that leverages full
functionality of our core technology with user automation and maintains a
minimal form factor."
- Joe Sipher, Palm Pilot product line manager, spewing computer double-talk

"The Internet, to me, is one big network."
- John Chambers, Cisco CEO.  Thanks for clearing that up, John.     

"In general, people who write on computers don't write nearly as well as
those who type or write longhand."
- Gore Vidal, famous novelist showing his incredible knowledge on writing
habits and abilities

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
------------------------------------------ warned this week that, well, they're still losing money.  More
than ever before, in fact... HP just misses earnings expectations causing
lots of people to shrug... Lycos actually made some money... Informix
restates their profits for the last *three* years, wiping away $236 million
in profits... S3's restated earnings 6 cents per share lower than
originally...  CompuServe losing money... Seagate and Western Digital warn
of "lower than expected" profits... Preview Travel's IPO opens down...
Mecklermedia made money!... Autodesk doing well??? ... Micron reports
"lower than expected" earnings... In the "no big surprise, there" category
goes the RealNetworks IPO: shooting up from $12.50 to $17.875 on Friday...
Dell to report earnings on Monday... Novell to report earnings on Tuesday... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Ralph Nader, who set up this huge anti-Microsoft conference does not use a
computer at all... CyberPartrol, the censoring program for the net
"accidentally" (yeah, sure) blocked out as offensive material
this week... DEC still "just about" to sell its networking division...
Ziff-Davis to go public? ... Wired Ventures for sale... 

More legal disputes... (maybe I should have gone to law school after all...)
Intel sues Silicon Storage for patent infringement... Silicon Storage,
attempting to flip the bird back at Intel, files a counter suit... Not to
be outdone, Intergraph Corp. has filed suit against Intel concerning patent
rights (using such wonderful words as "coerce" and "relinquish")... Sun has
filed for an injunction banning Microsoft from using the Java logo... File
under "oops":  Memos Microsoft handed over to the DOJ reveal that part of
their plan was to leverage their Windows market share to beat Netscape.
That certainly sounds like part of what they were denying, does it not?... 

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???)
Comdex, as per usual, was great for quotes, pointless news stories, but
little else... Sun delays Java station, again... AOL announces that it has
hit the 10 million user mark while simultaneously experiencing YAEO (Yet
Another Email Outage)... Pathfinder, in its never-ending search for some
plan that will cause it to *earn* instead of *lose* money is trying again;
this time the plan is to gain revenue through product sales... IBM, having
a busy week, announced plans to build a chip plant in upstate NY, and gave
Lou Gerstner quite a bit of dough to make him stick around 5 more years...
Consumer Reports goes to the web (but charges you for the good content)...
Wonder why SGI suddenly decided to continue its stock buyback program that
had been suspended for nearly a year and a half?  Could it have anything to
do with stock being at quite a low?  Nah... Sun does, indeed, win the votes
to become the standard bearer for Java, but before you get too excited
remember that C++ took nearly 18 years to finish going through its
standards process by ISO.... NT 5.0 to ship late (of course)... CompuServe
to revamp service... DRAM prices fall... Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer
predicts a PC in every room and every car as the PC industry struggles with
the fact that their sales growth may be slowing... Microsoft claims that
Exchange rivals Lotus Notes (hrmm, poorly designed interface, buggy
software, frequent crashes... why yes, I do see the similarities!)...
Mastercard and AT&T are going to build a private packet-switching
network... eToys to become AOL's "exclusive" retailer of children's toys...
Nielsen-I/Pro "claim" to have worked out a solution to the problem caused
by proxy server caching of web pages (for those of you who have no clue
what I'm talking about - well, further than normally, that is - when proxy
servers store copies of web pages it becomes rather difficult for the
original web server to figure out how many people are actually looking at
the web page - a fact that becomes extremely important when you're paying
advertisers based on "views")... Barnes & Noble cuts prices... Compaq cuts
prices... CUC International, quickly becoming king of all things internet
related has purchased 25% of NetGrocer... More folks laid off at Wired...
Cyrix once again claims the right to Pentium II's slot 1 architecture based
on National Semiconductor's cross-licensing agreement... HP to do
direct sales over the web... New transistor from Lucent one-fourth the size
of and five times faster than your "everyday" transistor... BellSouth to
offer wireless cable... PointCast to revamp... Paramount's Star Trek
website only viewable via MSIE 4.0 for Intel... Bill Clinton's personal fax
number "accidentally" put on web page by Republican group... What's a
spammer to do?  Sanford Wallace, banned from every internet backbone
imaginable does the logical "next move": starts his own backbone "just for

ClickOver and Focalink merge this week to fight off the competition of the
I/Pro and NetCount merger of last month... AMD convinced some big names to
use the K6 microprocessor.  Now let's see if they can actually produce
any... Borland snaps up Visigenic... Larry Ellison claims that Apple's
future is not with Rhapsody (which appears to have potential) but with
MacOS 8 (which appears to have none)... Vietnam actually licenses some
ISPs... Texas Board of Education thinks about replacing all textbooks with
notebook computers.  A great idea until little Johnny begins to experiment
with just how high that Toshiba Satellite really can orbit... Forget
standard software piracy: armed burglars broke into a Microsoft plant in
Scotland stealing CD-ROMs and authentication holograms... Texas Instruments
buys Amati Communications... Anyone else notice the lack of hype
surrounding the recent release of the new version of Windows CE?... Adobe
has shipped more than 5 million copies of PhotoDeluxe... AOL actually
purchased Extreme Fans Inc. rather than just declare yet another
"exclusive" agreement... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
Web auctions for dairy farmers (!?!) ... SGI's recent use of digital
photographs of lava lamps dumped into computers to generate random numbers
based on the patterns has received entirely too much press... A company in
Finland has created floors that "feel".  It apparently can sense when
someone is walking on it, and can even monitor breathing and pulse.  I
don't know how you feel about that, but it seems downright creepy to me...
A new computer from IBM uses both speech recognition and a camera that
tracks users position and movements to let a human input information via a
mixture of gestures and vocal commands.  Neat... 

Dataquest, in the overly hyped report that *everyone* picked up on, has
shown that Netscape's lead in the browser wars has diminished to 57.6% vs.
39.4%... A recent report has shown that Windows NT has surpassed Unix in
terms of unit sales.  While I agree with the fact that NT is rapidly
increasing in acceptance, the statistics are questionable.  Unix servers
can scale to more users, and so you don't *need* to purchase as many.
Furthermore, there are a number of Intel based machines that come with NT
or Win95 that quickly are converted to Linux or some other variant of Unix
that need not be purchased... Forrester predicts that e-commerce will be
strong this holiday season... Excite claims that it received 26% more
visitors last month... MSNBC claims that 14% of web users visited its site
in September (and just where did they get those population statistics?)...
The US has built 16 of the worlds 20 fastest computers (I can sense your
excitement)... More than 80% of the public are afraid that if their
personal and financial info was kept on the internet, it wouldn't be kept
private according to Taxsoft Inc (might help if better encryption were
used, but, oh yeah, that might let criminals do bad stuff, or something)...
The region with the fastest internet growth is Latin America, growing 788%
over the past 2 years... 40% of adults use the internet, according to
Chilton Research... DFC Intelligence predicts that interactive gaming will
be a $1.2 billion market by 2001... Best selling personal productivity
software: Quicken.  Best selling PC game: Myst...  

Microsoft has realized it can't create the content people want, so why not
just take all the good content and put it on a Microsoft site?  That 
appears to be the plan of MSN's Computing Central, complete with news
from Ziff-Davis and C-Net.  Is this a start of a trend of Microsoft being
the big bad content aggregator of the net? ... Disney has added email for
kids to its Daily Blast bit.  This is only going to create problems... NT
convergence.  Notice the lack of  hype at Comdex concerning Windows 98?
Expectations seem to be totally focused on NT...

Memes o' the week:
Donations.  Apple has donated "memorabilia and artifacts" to Stanford to
chronicle its history.  (I was tempted to add the word "short" prior to
"history", but held back)... Again with the "end of flat-rate pricing".
Andersen Consulting's John Wheeler shot down flat-rate pricing at Comdex
this week, blaming it for net congestion.  My problem with all these claims
is that they're based on the current situation and ignore standard economic
realities.  Generally, if there's a problem, such as congestion, that
presents a business opportunity to clear out the congestion, yes?
Customers seem to like flat-rate pricing.  Usually, it's a good thing to
listen to your customers.  Oh well... Microsoft sneaking into the
thin-client market quietly.  Comdex displayed Hydra, and folks began to
point out that they seem to really have a product there... 

Too much free time:
Are you, or have you ever dreamed of being, a Management Consultant?  Watch
out.  Dilbert's Scott Adams is encroaching on your territory.  Read all
about Scott Adams fooling senior executives from Logitech into believing
his consultant-speak (includes cool video clips of the event):

Up To Date is written by Mike Masnick from whatever news he hears from 
whatever sources they happen to come from.  It is not intended for any uses 
other than as one of many possible ways to follow what's going on in the 
hi-tech industry.  I certainly wouldn't rely on it as your only source of
info.  And, of course, my comments may not accurately reflect reality. 

If you would like to subscribe to the email version please send an email to with "Subscribe Up To Date" in the subject heading. 
Up To Date is also available on the web at 

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