As the year 2000 draws to a close, it's interesting
to look back over happenings in the world of
technology. Here's a list of a few local tech tidbits that
make you go, "hmm."
Nothing in Life is Free
Where did all those ads for "free" PCs go?
According to the computer press, most of the companies
selling them thought better of the idea and stopped
because they had few takers and made no money. Some
companies waited too long and just folded instead.
Proof once again that if something sounds too good to
be true, it probably is.
Business Plan, What Business Plan?
Last year the numerous fledgeling "dot.com"
companies were the darlings of the business press.
Venture capital money flowed like champagne at a big
new year's blow out. But not all of the companies
had what might be called solid business plans or a
sense of fiscal responsibility. Oh what a difference a
year makes. Now with the rash of high-profile failures
like Pets.com, Furniture.com, and ToySmart, these
companies have a new moniker: "dot bombs." The
fall-out has affected local companies as well.
Medinex, which had raised $20 million and had shares
trading at $10, now has cut half its workforce and
recently reported stock at a mere .25/share.
Oh You Meant That One Too?
Last month, a Federal judge ordered
Spokane-based Alpine Computers to pay Microsoft $250,000
for selling pirated software. Acording to an article in
the Spokesman Review, the owner of Alpine
Computers stopped selling Windows 95 after he received a
warning from Microsoft, but continued to sell
counterfeit copies of Office 97 from the same supplier
because the warning letter didn't mention it by name.
Come on...did he really think Microsoft wouldn't
What Part of Illegal Didn't You Understand?
Along the same lines, the music trading Web
site Napster has been the source of a lot of ink and
lawsuits this year. Technically the courts say it's legal
to trade files. Everyone slams Napster, yet they
download MP3s anyway. It's like a president who
doesn't inhale. You gotta decide if it's illegal to distribute
intellectual property you don't own, or if it isn't.
Where You Aren't Going Today
Can you tell me the way to Millinocket?...
Come to think of it, you can't get there from here.
Robert Bryan and Marshall Dodge
"Bert and I... and Other Stories from Down East"
America Online continues to send me free CDs
even though there's no local access number for this
area. I've been getting CDs for 5 years now. These
days, AOL isn't content to send a simple CD in
cardboard. Nope. Now they encase my precious CD in an
elaborate plastic shell in the hopes that I will believe
my life is incomplete without AOL 6. America
Online probably has everyone in the United States in its
database. Don't you think they could use that
database to figure out which zip codes can't access AOL
dial- up services? They'd save a whole lot of money and
a lot less plastic would be gracing our local landfills.
Here's another one for the "you can't get there
from here" file. A few weeks ago, a couple of
Sandpoint-area secretaries gave their boss a Palm Pilot VII
for Christmas. The boss travels a lot and it seemed like
a great way for him to keep in touch, since the
new Palm Pilots include wireless communications
through a service called Palm.net. Too cool! But the
bad news for North Idahoans is that you have to be
in Spokane to be in the right "zone." One
secretary quipped, "maybe they think that in Idaho, a Palm
Pilot is just a spud with an antenna."