Notes From the Field: Bobby grabs a bite

Some hapless flack has got me tied up on an obscure 3-D graphics mailing list and I've been getting 75 furious e-mails a day from people trying to unsubscribe. It's amazing how mad it's making my fellow spam victims. People who think nothing of walking up the stairs at home carrying two fistfuls of junk mail from the local supermarket go absolutely ballistic when it happens in digital rather than analog form, and as I'm getting RSI hitting the delete key, I can see why.

I remember the sinking feeling I had when I went to the launch of PointCast and realised that even my screen-saver was morphing into a digital marketing tool. I'm glad to say that after the initial babble about hockey stick curves (TM) and paradigm shifts (TM) the whole push thing has degenerated into another solution in search of a problem. Of all the vendors out there, the only one with any corporate credibility at the moment seems to be BackWeb, which is continuing to expand its moves into the enterprise space and is planning to add back-end server links to Enterprise Resource Planning packages from SAP AG and PeopleSoft later this year.

You may remember a while back some rumours about Microsoft planning its own universal virtual machine, as a counter to the Java virtual machine. Of course the kids in Redmond denied it every way from Sunday. Turns out they did actually try it, but abandoned the whole gimmick once they saw all the portability issues that the JVM was hitting. These are kids, but they're smart kids: when they saw the cross-platform vision was a Holy Grail that nobody was going to reach anytime soon, they did the smart thing and gave up. After all, it's not a platform, it's a language, right?

I hear Compaq has been using an old supermarket warehouse in Austin, Texas to interview engineers for a new project. The company has decided to return to manufacturing wide-screen monitors for the home user. There's obviously a big business opportunity in providing PC power as part of a really kick-ass home entertainment centre. At the touch of a remote control, a new generation of six-hundred-pound couch potatoes can channel surf between World Wide Wrestling and the World Wide Web. It makes sense that the company is looking into new markets now that the server gig is getting tough. Look out for a Compaq-sponsored monster truck event near you soon.

There is one benefit to this horrible spam business. I've struck up an e-mail acquaintance with a charming fellow spammee called Pixel. In her e-mail she says she's designing Web sites in Bellevue, and that she thinks I'm "kinda cute, in a double latte khaki 401(k) sorta way." I'm pretty sure she'll turn out to be an unemployed truck driver from Texas. In the meantime, we're planning to go real-time online -- soon.

(Give me a hot tip so I can impress Pixel with my inside dope. Send e-mail to me at

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