Cross Talk

Hefty To The RescueFrom the comforts of my office in California, I was merely awed by the images of Hurricane Floyd colliding with the Florida coast. But the folks over at SportsLine USA had real worries, telling me they spent more time than ever checking Weather.

Hefty To The Rescue

From the comforts of my office in California, I was merely awed by the images of Hurricane Floyd colliding with the Florida coast. But the folks over at SportsLine USA had real worries, telling me they spent more time than ever checking Weather.com last week. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Web publisher - located about an hour and a half north of Miami on Florida's east coast - was for a while directly in the hurricane's path. Before the storm turned north, missing Fort Lauderdale, SportsLine shut down its offices for a day and had workers cover their computers with garbage bags - a preventive measure in case the hurricane blew out office windows. Yes, garbage bags; I guess boarding up computer screens is not practical. At least SportsLine didn't require the staff in its newsroom, which kept operating despite the office shutdown, to don Heftys as well.

Really Free . . .

On the Net, sooner or later, everything may be free. Rich McGinn, chief executive of Lucent Technologies, says that "within the next year" he expects "someone of substance" will begin offering stock trades for free . . . and make up the expense with revenue from other services. Who? He isn't saying. Christo Cotsakos, are you listening?

Call Of The Wild

News America Digital Publishing, the online unit of News Corp., became the latest traditional media heavyweight to lose a senior new media executive to the alluring call of Web entrepreneurship. Executive Vice President Matt Jacobson left the company to join a "sports-oriented" Web start-up, News Corpers tell me. Jacobson helped News America Digital Publishing craft its current focus on developing broadband-oriented content and services but may be best known for the deal he never made at News Corp. Back in 1996, Jacobson was part of the management team trying to engineer the $300 million-plus buyout of PointCast. Sometimes, the best deals are the deals you never make.

What The World Needs Now?

Forget technology wars between Internet Protocol and Asynchronous Transfer Mode. Fred Harris, chief technologist at Sprint, foresees the convergence of IP and ATM into a new protocol that has the quality-of-service attributes of ATM, with the anywhere, anytime attributes of IP. There's enough "bigotry" involved, Harris says, that the new converged protocol is likely to be called something like "IP Plus" since "IP is what's hot." Does this mean we'll have to call it the Internet Plus?

The Frame Blame Game

It seems last month's MCI WorldCom frame relay outage didn't strand just MCI WorldCom customers. GTE Internetworking, which contracts frame relay service from MCI WorldCom for some portions of its dial-up network of 800 access points, also was affected. According to a GTE Internetworking executive, MCI truly had no idea what was going on and could not even identify the source of the problem. So GTE Internetworking (the former BBN Planet) sent six of its top gearheads to Washington, D.C., to help troubleshoot the network. They ended up just rolling back the software on the Lucent Technologies frame relay switches to the previous version - and then MCI WorldCom blamed Lucent for its woes. "Lucent really took a bullet for those guys," the GTE Internetworking source said. Whatever happened to "the buck stops here"?

Relocation: Success Is A Killer

The only winds to hit Silicon Valley last week were the winds of change - and it wasn't a pleasant breeze. The Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group released Silicon Valley Projections '99, a 30-page, 10-year look at the impact high-tech success will have on the business climate, housing, transportation and the environment. Among the highlights: Between 1995 and 2010, some 400,000 jobs will have been created - but only 100,000 new (overpriced) homes. "Unless we expect people to crash in their cubicles at work, then we have to grapple with the housing problem," Carl Guardino, president of the group, told reporters. And all this time I thought crashing at work was part of the Valley way of life.

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