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Bricks, mortar fire Inktomi civil war

With the garish neon of Vegas seeping into my room overlooking the Strip, I'm thankful that I prepared well for this year's Comdex.

With the garish neon of Vegas seeping into my room overlooking the Strip, I'm thankful that I prepared well for this year's Comdex. Friday night, I took my son Vermel and his girlfriend Ammonia Blossom to the Rolling Stones concert, where the sensory assault put anything here to shame. The video screens, light show, and thunderous pyrotechnics were undoubtedly designed to mask the fact that the Stones sounded no better than, well, a decent Stones cover band.

As Mick aerobicized and Keith smoked one Lucky Strike after another, Vermel and Ammonia couldn't stop giggling and making "Jurassic Park" jokes. Compared to Pearl Jam's down-to-earth opening act, the Stones traded mostly in Vegas-style schmaltz and nostalgia, giving people what they remembered. The reality didn't quite fit the illusion, as women tossed their bras onstage for these emaciated 50-year-old men in skintight trousers to hold in their teeth.

To show they weren't behind the times, the band at one point turned to the giant ovoid Jumbotron for a quick overview of the Bridges to Babylon tour Web site. Mick didn't even point-and-click his way to the polling page, he just narrated, prompting Vermel to snort, "Eddie Vedder would have done it himself."

The engineers at Inktomi know how to get

One silly prank...
One silly office prank...
things done themselves. In the latest installment of that company's ongoing prank war, engineering and sales-and-marketing exchanged mischievous blows. A dispute over a meeting room, according to my Inktomi informant, led the salesketeers to TP and saran-wrap the engineer cube farm, a banal frat prank if there ever were one.

Several steps ahead in the creative

...deserves another
...deserves another.
chaos department, the engineers came in on a Saturday night with bricks and mortar and built a doghouse around the cube of the TP-raid mastermind, forcing the person to crawl to work on hands and knees.

Not content with the physical victory, the engineers also rigged an ad to HotBot, the Wired search tool with an Inktomi engine, that popped up whenever someone from used the service. The ad read "Don't mess with the engineers!" and linked to a Web site with photos from the illustrious deed.

Once the drinks flow and the desert winds howl, I'm sure Comdex will see its share of silly behavior. All the preshow reports focus on the scramble to get a room or a cab this week, and how the hotels jack up the rates because their gambling revenues drop like a rock, but I'm amazed at the number of non-Comdexers in town. I took a quick poll at breakfast this morning--without revealing my identity, of course--and found that three out of five people in the Westward-Ho $2 buffet lounge recognized Java as "That stuff right there in your cup, dumb ass."

If you're looking to avoid techies on your next vacation, stay away from Hawaii in February. One sharp-as-a-saber source tells me that Compaq is flying a whopping 2,500 employees to Hawaii in February for meetings, pep talks, long moonlit walks on the beach, and all the vapid motivational images they can stuff into their duffel bags.

PC maker Dell might need a holiday after being in the spotlight of the DOJ's antitrust investigation of Microsoft. My fellow News.commies quoted Dell's William Morris as saying that the inclusion of IE in Windows doesn't "diminish our willingness to provide a different Web browser such as Netscape Navigator."

OK, so if I go to the Dell online store and treat myself to one of them fancy PCs y'all offer, I can get a heaping side order of Navigator, right? Wrong. The spec sheets for the available small business and home systems list "Windows 95 with Internet Explorer 4.0" as the default operating system with nary a Nav in sight, not even in the "nonfactory installed software" options.

Ah, so much promise, so little reward, just like the come-hither seduction of this most American of all towns, where the illusion of eternal riches and 24-hour fantasyland fun bumps up against waitresses with aching arches, illegal immigrants handing out porno flyers, and chain-smoking desperation at the quarter slots. Tune in Thursday for more double dealings and tawdry tattle, and don't forget to send me your own two cents.