Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2004 12:01 AM
To: eWEEK readers
Subject: Cola-teral damage in Redmond; Katt-a-tonic at Catalyst; talking out of their Red Hats
"Yuck, water!" exclaimed Spence, as he lapped at a fountain outside a conference room where Steve Ballmer, Microsofts CEO, was conducting a teleconference to announce his companys big shareholder dividend. While eavesdropping on the call, the Gleaner of Gossip was checking another buzz that had jolted many Microsofties: that their beloved free sodas may be provided through soda fountain dispensers instead of cans—a notion that Spences taste test showed was merely a suburban legend.
The fear of vanishing freebies has been gripping the Microsoft campus since management nixed the free towel service in campus locker rooms. Now, the $32 billion dividend makes clear the reason for the penurious practices, spawning a wave of hysterical speculation that free soda could fall under the cola-bean counters ax.
"Man, I hope Ziff Davis never removes the golden-cherub champagne fountain in my office," hissed His Hirsuteness as he piloted his rental Hummer to SeaTac for a flight to San Diego and the Burton Groups Catalyst conference. The Katt hadnt made the trip to the geeky gathering for some time for a simple reason: The memory of two nerds arguing tall and stringy directories versus short and bushy at a mid-90s conference in Colorado had stunted his emotional and intellectual development for years. As Spence settled in, he listened with dismay to the vendor presentations: Microsoft saying it wanted to work with everyone; IBM saying it would recommend only the best technology, not necessarily its own; and Computer Associates saying that its turmoil at the top hasnt stopped product development. Yawn. At days end, Spence eagerly headed to Croces for karaoke.
He needed the escape. Its not easy for someone as cynical as El Gato to become disillusioned, but news of Red Hats financial restatement for the last three years shattered his image of Red Hat as a virtuous David out to help the rest of us, and it prompted nasty Enron flashbacks.
As the Maven of Murmur searched for a laugh, his hyperactive BlackBerry didnt disappoint. Java junkies were still feeding him anecdotes from the recent JavaOne conference at the Moscone. There, Sun showed the latest in automotive electronics in a system soon to appear in BMWs. Microsofts newest automotive deal, however, is with Fiat to develop a telematics system for the European automaker. "Purrfect! The Ultimate Driving Machine chooses Java, but Microsoft is the choice of Fix It Again, Tony," cackled the Kitty.