Operator No. 9: May 14, 2001

Pardon me while I wipe away a tear of sympathy for big tech company chieftains who can't get broadband service at home.

Broadband Lament

Pardon me while I wipe away a tear of sympathy for big tech company chieftains who cant get broadband service at home. It was nary two weeks ago that Qwest Communications International CEO Joe Nacchio, who splits time between his home in New Jersey and a hotel room near his companys Denver headquarters, lamented that he lives more than 22,000 feet from a central office and cant get DSL service. Hey Joe, why doncha do what Intel boss Craig Barrett did and move into Qwest territory? Alas, alls not well with that CEOs access either. While cheerleading for Qwests fiber-to-the-curb DSL service in suburban Phoenix at NetWorld+Interop last week, Barrett griped that he cant get broadband service at his Montana ranch. More tissues, please.


The number of days — as of May 14 — that President George W. Bush has been in office and without a technology adviser.

Political Fun

Rep. James Traficant, Jr., D-Ohio, may have broken a few laws, federal authorities claim, but no one can accuse the guy of not having a sense of humor. The eccentric Democrat, who was indicted in federal court May 4 on bribery and racketeering charges, is known for his wild dress, wild hair and wild speeches on the House floor. Visit his Web site at www.house.gov/traficant if you want to hear a sampling. Youll also find some of Traficants "One Minute Speeches." One of my favorites is from March about a 1998 Internal Revenue Service reform law. Traficant says: ". . . the IRS is now complaining the new law is too tough. Beam me up here. It is time to tell these crybaby IRS thieves that we are going to pass a 15 percent flat sales tax and abolish them altogether." Who says politics cant be fun?

Microsoft Sings the Body Electra

Apparently Microsoft thinks the killer app for interactive TV is . . . watching Carmen Electra take a shower. Microsofts recent print ad campaign for its Ultimate TV service features a glistening Ms. Electra — former Baywatch vamp, Playboy model and ex-wife of Dennis Rodman — wrapped in a towel, her arms clasped above her head. The ad reads, in part: "Ultimate TV pauses live TV, so you wont miss a minute of Carmen. Or instant replay live TV and savor her big, beautiful eyes over and over." Sounds to me like some Microsoft marketing men need to take cold showers.

BOSSed Out

The only thing worse than rolling blackouts is . . . well, wait a minute. Nothing is worse, except maybe the stress caused by the possibility of a rolling blackout. In the wake of the most recent California blackouts, public relations firms are looking for new ways to sell their clients products. Last week, one firm sent out a notice that included the results of a survey done by Britains The David Lewis Consultancy. The survey of 500 senior information technology managers discovered a chic new malady called "Brown-Out Stress Syndrome," or BOSS, that was "found to be commonplace — and 20 percent of those interviewed believed that BOSS posed a serious threat to their mental and physical health." Imagine the ailments if the lights actually go out and people start running into walls, tripping over extension cords, stubbing toes, breaking fingernails!

"The Anti-Globalization Term — Its An Oxymoron. as if You Could Be Anti-Tide or Anti-Weather."

— Bruno Lanvin, executive secretary at the Digital Opportunity Task Force of the Group of Eight, at a news conference called last week to release a new "e-readiness" report. The G8 is an organization made up of representatives of the eight major industrialized nations that meets annually. Lanvin was asked whether he thought the "anti-globalization forces" that have protested at international economic meetings would eventually target the information technology sector.

Math Is Not Our Thing

Who can you trust these days? Well, certainly not accountants. Consider this tidbit about an unnamed analyst at SG Cowen Securities, who noted that Computer Associates International inadvertently reported diluted earnings per share for the year ended March 31 of 40 cents rather than the actual 16 cents. It was not a "a big deal," the analyst said, because "anyone who bothered to calculate the fiscal year reported numbers would have seen the mistake." Like CAs investor relations department or its financial officers? CA subsequently acknowledged its mistake and sent out a revised press release with new — and one hopes, accurate — numbers.

Dial M for Income

Were all familiar with ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers), CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers), DLECs (data local exchange carriers) and BLECs (building local exchange carriers). But what the heck is an MLEC? "Thats a local exchange carrier with money," says Ed Cox, director of sales operations at Santera Systems in Plano, Texas. As an equipment supplier, Santera is particularly fond of the increasingly rare MLECs, Cox adds.

What Part of Free Dont You Understand?

A reader in Texas sings the broadband blues: "Verio, my Internet service provider who wholesaled NorthPoint [Communi-cations] DSL and, of course, dropped DSL completely now, keeps dunning me for a $500 installation charge from my original DSL installation well over a year ago. They persist, in spite of my sending them a copy of their own Web page offering Free Installation. Lets see — they dropped my service with a weeks warning, forced me to another ISP through a deal they made with EarthLink and now want me to pay $500 for old DSL that doesnt work, even though I signed up for the free installation promotion? Guess DSL providers arent the only crazies in the ISP business." Youd guess right.

Parched in Vegas

Youve gotta love Las Vegas — the only place in the world where you can face a $200 fine if youre caught bringing food and drink into your hotel. When I checked in, I was told to "initial" a clause acknowledging Id be subject to a $200 fine for bringing in off-premises food and drink — per incident. Given it was over a 100 degrees, I was tempted to rush back from the NetWorld+Interop show floor with a couple of Fudgsicles tucked under my shirt. But being a law-abiding citizen, I made do with barely chilled Snapple from the hotel gift shop. At 99 cents, it seemed like a bargain, compared to the $3.25 bottled water sold on the convention floor. The Snapple fortified me enough to continue listening to the trade-show talk of Qwest Communications International executives, who said they dont expect the market to improve for 18 months. Maybe they should consider diversifying into the high-margin bottled water business?