Net Buzz

FRAMINGHAM (05/01/2000) - If the stock market nausea of the past few weeks has demonstrated anything lasting (a debatable point) it may be that technology investors have finally had their fill of fanciful business plans and amateurish execution. In other words, the screw-ups are being handed their walking papers, particularly among the dot-coms.

This topic was kicked around here last week when the folks from Segue Software Inc. dropped by for a chat. Segue makes a living load-testing Web sites and e-business applications for heavyweights such as America Online Inc., AT&T Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Lucent Technologies Inc., as well as a raft of lesser-known Internet entities. Segue sees the end of any e-commerce honeymoon as an opportunity to make hay because its products and services are designed to prevent the kinds of Web meltdowns that can ruin a young company's reputation and crimp its ability to raise life-sustaining capital.

"In order to become viable, you need to get to market quickly and you cannot have any downtime," says Tom Boyle, vice president of marketing at Segue. "And on one level, you'd like to see in your business plan some kind of definition as to what you're going to do to prove that your product scales."

Segue will be glad to help on that score, of course. Before the year is out the company intends to add real-time application monitoring and a hosted version of its products, both of which make sense given the continued explosion of e-commerce start-ups.

"I don't believe that somebody like Wal-Mart is going to come and log on to our hosted service and run a test," acknowledges Andy Sirois, Segue's vice president of product management. "But it's likely that a small company would do that."

And it's the small companies in particular that have to guard against swinging and missing. One strike may be all they get these days.

Before our paternalistic leaders in Washington trot out even one more poll-driven plan to protect us from the evils of the Internet, perhaps they should consider getting their own house in order first.

According to a report in Federal Computer Week, the U.S. Department of Defense has taken a rather novel approach to guarding some of the nation's military secrets: hiding them in plain sight on public Web sites. (Hey, what hacker or spy would ever think of looking there?)The situation came to light after a unit of reservists called the Web Risk Assessment Team surveyed 800 Defense Department public sites and found up to 1,300 so-called "discrepancies." Included were reports on computer system vulnerabilities, detailed maps of defense facilities, signals used to determine whether a military aircraft is "friend" or "foe," and - get this - more than 10 instances where honest-to-goodness war plans were posted.

I don't know about you, but this kind of thing concerns me more than the prospect of some e-commerce site tracking my buying habits without my knowledge.

Just when you think the Internet couldn't possibly get any sillier, here is "Yet Another Pointless Web Page" courtesy of Network World Fusion guru Adam Gaffin:

"Cable ties are those little serrated plastic strips with a loop at the end that you can use to tie together everything from electric wires to plastic tubing," Gaffin tells us. "In other words, they're completely boring, generally only coming to your attention when you need to open one up, only you don't happen to have a pair of scissors handy. But that hasn't stopped some German company from setting up an entire Web site about them." The site features photos, sound clips, a "1001 uses" page (you can add your own, naturally) and translations for "cable ties" into every language imaginable.

Don't lie. You're going to check it out: www.xx.net/cabletiefanpage.

You say you can top that one? Make my day. The address is buzz@nww.com.

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