I have never had the dubious pleasure of working in Reading or High Wycombe. I hope I never will, because when I leave work and go out at the weekend, I want to leave work and go out at the weekend ? I don?t want to go out and feel as if I?m still at work because I?m surrounded by IT people talking about IT.
Unfortunately, that?s not possible in Silly-con Valley. Every bar and every restaurant is infested with IT people. You can?t escape, and woe betide anyone who admits to being in the industry at a social gathering ? any non-IT conversation will suddenly become impossible.
All this was too much for me. I felt the need to have a couple of drinks and relax. I went to a party last week when two people arrived wearing Oracle polo shirts and began discussing Netscape. I felt the need to drink heavily and fall over.
The local lingo in Silly-con Valley is often based on the IT industry, because that is what everyone is in to. For example, the word cobweb is no longer used when discussing spiders. It refers to a World Wide Web site that never changes and so is not worth visiting. For an example of a cobweb, try Computer 2000?s press release site.
The problem is that lingo is getting out of control, and the use of terms like this makes it difficult to have a normal conversation. The Americans have set phrases that us aliens have to learn quickly to be understood. For example, the phrase used in any transaction to mean ?you?ve finished? is ?you?re all set?. If you try to say something different, they don?t understand.
Living here, with all this jargon, I have been forced to change some of my vocabulary. It would be futile to try talking about the Java blend of coffee or the Indonesian island of the same name. Nobody knows about the other Javas.
The option of communication via the internet has been hailed as one of the most pervasive reasons for businesses to use IT. The internet is cheap, ubiquitous and seems safe enough to base an entire business on. Some firms already use intranets so much you could say they rely on them to run their entire organisation.
But if I had the option to base my business on the internet, I would think twice. Industry figures like Sun CEO Scott McNealy have repeatedly extolled the virtues of a reliable, permanently available online dial tone. We don?t have that reliability yet, and the slowness is an accepted part of using the Net.
Last week, some of you may have noticed a certain slowness about the internet, but this was nothing to do with heavy traffic. The company with the contract to run the US registry of sites and all the .com extension servers allowed corrupted files to remain in its system during an update and some addresses simply disappeared for the best part of a day. Then a digger cut through a fibre optic cable to aggravate the problem.
If you were trying to get into Computer 2000?s rather dull site, the disappearances could have made you think: ?That?s a bonus.? If you needed some crucial company information, or needed to conduct some business with a partner, it could have made you think: ?There goes my bonus.? I know the best business people gamble by adopting technology early, but that gamble can fail. Anyone who decided to take the cheaper option of buying Commodore probably regrets that now.
I am amazed by the warfare in antivirus software ? the insults and law suits have spread like, well, a virus. McAfee has now been reduced to battling with personal insults and it has dubbed Symantec CEO Gordon Eubanks an ?accused felon?. A what? If I say all you readers are stealing, I presume that makes every one of you ?accused felons?. How silly.
I know it?s pathetic, but I must confess that I love all this rumpus. I wish more IT companies showed their true colours and got rid of the current trend for polite respect. If all CEOs were mickey-takers, like Scott McNealy, it would be good. If they were all prepared to hire and fire within minutes, like the permanently angry McAfee CEO Bill Larson, it would be great. If they all had Uzi guns behind their desks and were famed for shouting anything they wanted at anyone nearby, like (it is rumoured) Cabletron CEO Bob Levine, it would be fantastic. The days of fist fights at Comdex can?t be far off. As they scream here: ?Let?s get ready to rum-ble!?
Remember Merisel? The distributor still isn?t doing very well now that it only trades in North America, I?m afraid. One investment company sees some potential in the firm because it has spent $150 million on a 70 per cent share, but it is the exception. Few people have got much positive to say about Merisel. I think the whole Merisel experience is summed up by the name of its Microsoft training service ? the MSCE Boot Camp. Delightful. I can hear the trainers now: ?You worthless reseller scum! Give me another 20 ? users on that TCP/IP connection to NT, that is.?
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