Trying one on may be key to happiness in a world of quirky software

I am never drinking again. I know I've said it before, but this time I mean it. I guess there is a danger of hanging out in bars near major software companies. At first, it was a good place to hear things between co-workers unwinding after a long day. Of course, there's always been the questionable ethics of having some talkative techies buy me some beers, and knowing in the back of my mind I would be causing some drama within their department the following week.

Conflicts of interest are not only something journalists have to worry about, though. The Arthur Andersen consulting company is in the process of creating an analytical application that would hook into enterprise resource planning, or ERP, systems. This would compete with SAP's recently announced Strategic Enterprise Management suite, which models business plans, monitors corporate performance and answers what-if questions.

Andersen, however, is a major SAP implementer, so it could very well compete against its own partner. But the product is still in its early stages, and not even expected until 1999, so only time will tell.

Awkward situations come in all shapes and sizes, though. Just ask the technical director of Phillips' US Mobile Computing division. He might be looking for a new job after allegedly issuing veiled threats to an engineer who left the company two months ago. It turned out the engineer's father is the lead lawyer in California at the US Department of Labor.

Two aspirin won't do

Hopefully, once this headache goes away, I'll still realise I need to get my act together. But not having your act together doesn't always mean you can't be successful, just look at Adobe Systems. Its rivals at Quark have already announced they're planning to create a media asset-management system to track all of the elements used across its desktop publishing and editing systems.

Adobe, not to be outdone, is also planning such a product. It is code-named Stillson, but if you ask them about it, they say there is no such product underway, and it's just a rumour. Well, apparently, no one told Adobe's human resources department about it being a rumour, because they have a few job openings online and are looking for people to work on a new product for digital media asset management, especially with the ability to write "object-oriented Java-based asset management APIs".

If I had to think of which company I'd like to go drinking with, though (now, this is just an example, of course, because I'm quitting), it would have to be IBM. They've been doing the technological equivalent of buying drinks for the freeware guys and emerging standards a lot lately. First they buddied up to Apache, then bought a round for the XML table, and now Big Blue is planning to build some RAID drivers for Linux.

After throwing all of my bottles out of the freezer (although I left the caps on them so I can rescue them when I sober up), I noticed a frosty lump in the corner of the freezer. Underneath was another reminder of Pammy, a box of vegetarian burgers. Hmm, they take 3 minutes to cook, I guess I still have time for a smoke.