Operator No. 9: January 29, 2001

The U.S. Constitution may have helped ensure the smooth transition of power from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration, but it can't do much about the transition of Webmasters.

Your Tax Dollars Not at Work

The U.S. Constitution may have helped ensure the smooth transition of power from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration, but it cant do much about the transition of Webmasters. Missing "W"s off of computer keyboards aside, the change in power over the cybergovernment doesnt seem to be a smooth one. A quick scan of the Web sites of the seven agencies whose bosses were confirmed by the Senate after George W. Bushs inauguration Saturday, Jan. 20, found only three had updated their sites to acknowledge their new chiefs. The Department of Agriculture,Department of Defense and Department of State had notes welcoming their new secretaries, Ann Veneman, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, respectively, by Monday morning. The sites for the Department of Education, Department of Energy and Department of Treasury still had Bill Clinton appointees mentioned in various places — though all three sites were updated by Tuesday, Jan. 23. As of midweek, though, the site for the Department of Commerce, which has been one of the lead agencies on e-commerce issues, still had William Daley listed as secretary in one place — even though Daley left last summer to become chairman of former Vice President Al Gores unsuccessful presidential campaign.


Who could have guessed the Internet would be the biggest catalyst for communism since the October Revolution? Consider the open source software movement. And then theres Napster, based on the idea that music belongs to all of us. Check out this excerpt from Project Noizs Napster Manifesto: "Ownership of capital property is the greatest segregation factor the world has ever known. The concept of private ownership led capitalists and communists to build arsenals of nuclear weapons so powerful that they could destroy 10 worlds." Maybe the Net contains the seeds of capitalisms demise.

With Friends Like That…

Oracle had egg all over its face earlier this month after hosting an all-day event with the media to showcase its business-to-business strategy. Oracle executives spent the day putting together an argument that the companys suite of e-commerce applications will ultimately be chosen by corporations over point solutions, because of the benefits to be gained from integration. They even hauled out a couple of marquee customers to back up their claims, including GlobalNetXchange, a marketplace for the retailing industry sponsored by such players as French retailer Carrefour, The Kroger Co. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. Heres the egg part: The day after the briefing, GlobalNetXchange announced it will use supply chain software from Manugistics, instead of Oracles supply chain offering. Analysts have been saying for some time that Oracles applications arent nearly as mature or full-featured as the point solutions, such as those offered by Ariba, i2 Technologies or Manugistics. Looks like even Oracles key customers seem to agree.

State of the Union

Layoffs are so common in telecom these days that Kinkos is open 26 hours per day to handle the extra demand for résumé printing. So it may have been pretty easy to overlook Verizon Communications decision to end its contract with TeleSpectrum Worldwide, effectively laying off the 300-plus third-party operators that provide customer service for Verizon Digital Subscriber Line customers. Could it be a consolidation move by Verizon, or could it be that TeleSpectrum employees are reportedly considering unionization? Verizon officials deny the claim that the decision had anything to do with unionization, but a TeleSpectrum employee reported to the Buffalo Alternative Press horrific working conditions: one employee being assaulted by a supervisor and managers abusing the system for monitoring restroom breaks. Verizon officials obviously got their fill of unions last August when their unionized technicians went on strike.

ET, Phone Home — Later

Mindful of the rap server farms and 24/7 PC operations are getting for worsening the power crisis in California, the folks at the University of California, Berkeley who run the [email protected] project have decided earthbound concerns trump the search for interstellar life. The projects Web site now carries a plea that "[email protected] users located in California shut off their computers during Stage 2 and Stage 3 emergency alerts," even though the screen saver/radiotelescope distributed data processor "represents a tiny fraction of the states power use." Still, lets give them a round of applause for making the effort.

"Growing demand is an indication of a growing business and a growing economy."

— EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS Chief Executive ELLEN HANCOCK, speaking about the California energy crisis during a meeting earlier this month with other executives and business leaders at Exodus headquarters. Hancock says her Silicon Valley-based Web hosting company consumes one-thirtieth of 1 percent of all the power in the San Francisco Bay area. Since most users have seen their electricity bills double and triple in recent months during the electricity shortages, I cant even imagine what Exodus bills looks like.

Let the Cameras Roll!

Qwest Communications International Chairman Philip Anschutz has only recently begun to enter the world of Hollywood in a meaningful way, but hes already starting to look like a modern-day Howard Hughes. A Delaware bankruptcy court judge last week OKd a deal that will give Anschutz control of United Artists Theatre Circuit, the sixth largest U.S. movie chain, and hes acquired about a third of the $1 billion in debt carried by the largest chain, Regal Cinemas. The objective, it would seem, is to deploy Qwests fast-pipe technologies in a digital distribution network that may span movies and e-learning. But pen hadnt even been put to paper on the UA deal before Variety magazine Editor Peter Bart had the reclusive Anschutz in his sights. Reviewing year 2000 in his column, "The Back Lot," Bart notes that by years end "every theater seemed about to be acquired by a mysterious figure named Philip Anschutz, who has never talked to a reporter, probably never seen a movie and, for that matter, has never been seen in public."

White House Unplugged

Technology doesnt seem too high on President George W. Bushs list of priorities. As of last week, the new prez had yet to name any technical advisers. Id say thats a bit odd, considering the importance of the Internet and technology in society and business today. Granted, G.W. is a little busy . Still, the site for the White House — www. whitehouse.gov; the ".com" address is a porn site — could use some tuning up. Reports about broken links at the site were fodder for lots of stories. The White House did not return calls for comment. Once the "W" keys are all replaced, Im hoping G.W.s team makes "www" visits a daily part of their routine. Even if the administration is not as knowledgeable about tech issues as those on the front lines, they can at least put up an entertaining Web site.