Notes from the Field

SAN MATEO (03/03/2000) - Lou may be ready for AARP, but our Bobby screams, 'I'm still young!'

MADISON ROARED into the InfoWorld parking lot on a Harley, right on time for her interview last week. I was the one who was late, leaving her checking her watch and wondering if the help wanted ad was some kind of scam.

Don't get me wrong. This intern search is very important to me, and I need to hire someone to help me with my research. I was just worn out from attending our corporate advisory board meeting and all the parties associated with it. It didn't help when Madison called me "sir" and told me I looked like her father.

I may not be in my 20s, but I'm not ready to retire yet either.

A few old men

Speaking of retiring, some shake-ups may happen soon at a certain enormous technology company. Rumor has it that IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, credited with turning Big Blue around in the 1990s, is getting ready to give up that title in favor of just being the chairman. Sources tell us that the leading candidate to replace him in the CEO job is a senior executive at Ernst & Young.

One of the first jobs of that new IBM CEO may be to figure out what is going on with the company's billing system. Heads may roll. One customer reports being billed on March 1 for monthly lease payments on a decommissioned AS/400 system that dated back to the early 1990s. A leap year problem associated with Y2K, perhaps? Nah, everyone knows there were no Y2K problems anywhere.

Tolly needs a cracker

For example, check out the Web site of the Tolly Group. This renowned consulting and testing company may need to fix its own systems. On its Web site, dated March 3, 100 (the company's typo), the group announces, "The Tolly Group alone is positioned to furnish vendors with objective evidence that their products perform as promised." Guess it's so busy with work for other companies it hasn't gotten around to fixing its own site yet.

Sometimes you just can't Win2K

Last week I said I would look into whether vendors were discontinuing sales of boxes with Windows NT and Windows 98 preinstalled. I may have jumped the gun a bit on that one. One reader wrote in to say that he could not buy a Windows 2000 box from either Dell or Gateway. Apparently the companies are "fixing some bugs in W2K" and sending out Windows NT instead with a coupon to upgrade when a good version of Win2000 becomes available.

Dell's Web site takes it one step further. Customers who try to buy a GX-300 learn that neither the CD-RW nor the TBU is compatible with Windows 2000.

See, we're no monopoly!

Maybe Windows 2000 is encountering problems because of a top secret initiative Microsoft is working on. My spies tell me that Redmond is looking to create a Linux version of Microsoft Office. Perhaps that version will meet the same fate as the legendary version of Office for OS/2 that never saw the light of day. Or maybe it would be a good way for Microsoft to get the Justice Department off its back.

I BADE FAREWELL to Madison after she told me I was too old to ride her Harley.

She didn't want me to get hurt, she said. That's what all the girls say. But don't cry for me. I'll find my mojo again, and hire an intern, too. Next week I interview Charles.

Know where the fountain of youth is? E-mail it to me at

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