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There goes Netscape's neighborhood

As a wild Pacific storm pounded the windows in my drafty apartment last night, I tossed and turned in my bed, wondering how I might blame my late rent check on El Niño.

    As a wild Pacific storm pounded the windows in my drafty apartment last night, I tossed and turned in my bed, wondering how I might blame my late rent check on El Niño. The noises of the night kept me restless--the howling wind, the slash of rain on the pavement outside, the hurried knock on my door...at three in the morning? The hair on my knuckles stood on end. Tiptoeing across the foyer, I called out: "Yeah?"

    "Oh, Mr. DuBaud, I'm so glad you're home," responded a woman's husky voice from the hall. "You don't know what it's like to run out of sugar at this time of night. May I come in and borrow a cup?"

    I never refuse my neighbor a favor. Netscape might have a different attitude, considering who's moving in on its turf.

    It doesn't take a gumshoe to see the construction mess across from the Netscape campus, draped with a banner announcing the site as the future home of KPMG Peat Marwick, the Big Six accounting and consulting firm. KPMG dealt the Mozilla Thrillas a nasty blow this summer when it abruptly switched browsers on 18,000 desktops, as well as its back-end software and a whole lotta love from Netscape to Microsoft. Now Barksdale and company can watch the 'Softy consultants scurry in and out of the KPMG front doors.

    It could actually play into Netscape's hands, as it's doing its darndest to build up a professional services division, a difficult task given the few top-notch integration consultants out there. Once KPMG turns on the electricity at its new site, Netscape can simply stand outside with a megaphone and recruit.

    Or it can page potential employees with PDAs. That will be a possibility after New Year's, when certain Windows CE-based handhelds come out with built-in paging. As my esteemed colleague reported, the devices will try for a slice of the tasty PalmPilot market that U.S. 3 Robotics Com Park has swallowed whole. The launch will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the second time Microsoft has hyped CE there. What is Redmond trying to say about these products? All flash, no substance? A real gamble? To counter the CE-pager strategy, by the way, the PalmPilot will get its own paging device, a Motorola-made clip-on that should be out next quarter for $169.

    That reminds me to make a note in my PDA to pick up my share of the cookies that my neighbor, a third-grade teacher, ended up baking for her class. As I was pouring her a heaping helping of unrefined sweetness last night, she told me she wasn't sure how much longer her school will stick with Apple. Apparently, several school districts have been telling their Apple Computer resellers that the company needs to show a profit soon if it wants to keep their business. Some of my sources in the Apple education food chain say there's a lot of pressure from administrators who don't want to get stuck with products from a company gone sour. I guess educators haven't exactly been bowled over by the bad grammar of "Think Different." Pablo, Mahatma, what's on your PowerBooks?

    'Tis the season for parody sites, but one of my favorites is no longer. The PNut site, which poked fun at my own place d'emploi, was shut down this week because the site's owner, the oddly named Woody Stranieri, apparently appropriated a bit of source code. Tsk, tsk. The cease-and-desist warning, which the Woodman posted on his site, ran this way: "While we in one sense are flattered that you recognize the value of CNET's design and editorial, your reproduction of our pages, including graphics, color scheme, editorial content, and code, infringes our copyright and trademark rights."

    Next up? Woody's wonderfully juvenile "Excrete", which he unapologetically says you should visit because, uh, the end is near. My neighbor's coming over again tonight, this time to borrow some rumors. So don't leave the cake out in the rain; send me your hot stuff or I'll never have that recipe again.