Bobby Looks for the Tip Jackpot in Sin City

SAN MATEO (05/15/2000) - Last week I took off for the lights, the tables, the women: the city of sin. And of course the chance to schmooze with the who's who of the big convergence at Networld+Interop in Las Vegas.

Walking the floor of such a big show, it's a given that my knee would start throbbing again. So I took a load off at the pressroom, only to be threatened by the new pressroom police. I had only sat down innocently at the table of phones -- available in every pressroom I've been to -- and unplugged the phone to plug in my modem.

More vigilant than the pit bosses in the casino of the Las Vegas Hilton, this enormous woman with big frizzy hair, dyed a shade of red not found in nature, started yelling at me, "You can't use that phone line for your laptop! It's only to be used for a phone! Get out of here, or I'm calling security."

So much for the great age of networking and convergence. Perhaps I could file my story by carrier pigeon.

If you build it they will come

Fortunately, the reactionaries in the pressroom did not contaminate everyone at the show. Many companies continue to work on creating the New Economy and building networks to make it run.

While party-hopping at the show, I heard whispers of a new interoperability specification for ASPs (application service providers) that serve the construction industry. The specification will come from Bidcom Inc., a business-to-business exchange for the industry that offers several services already.

You gotta know when to fold 'em

Many of the folks who have been working in IT at Hewlett-Packard Co. and other big companies will be looking for new worlds soon.

Since writing about the HP's new system of rating employees on a scale from one to five -- where the best are rated as fives and the worst are rated as ones and shown the door (if you're a one, you're done) -- I've heard from others who have experienced similar corporate motivation techniques. EDS, the company started by Ross Perot, employed a similar system last year.

At EDS the system involved only four levels, and it preceded the big corporate layoff announcement by a couple months. If HP follows a similar pattern, that big layoff announcement should be coming out early this summer in June or July.

Got a finger on security?

Companies looking for top-of-the-line security for their computer systems often look to cutting-edge fingerprint readers, eyeprint readers, and voiceprint readers; the super high-tech stuff that science fiction is made of.

But this newfangled security is not all it's cracked up to be. Compaq Computer Corp. fingerprint readers running Biologon Security Software have been cracked -- easily. When a user rests a hand on the scanner, he or she often leaves a print mark on the device. By just shining a flashlight on that print, anyone can log in to the system.

Compaq so far has denied that there is a problem with the device. So right now the work-around is Windex (not to be confused with Windows).

Madison ended up making big money playing blackjack, so she is going to take me out for a big night on the town.

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