PACKET RAT: Hustle and show

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

Virtual perspective doesn't improve CES view

Once again, all the really popular kids went to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month. With Comdex now a mere shadow of a memory, the digerati have made this glittering fusion of Hollywood, Toys 'R' Us, Radio Shack and Silicon Valley the new place to be seen.

Naturally, the Rat was nowhere near Vegas. He was down in his bunker writing XPath code to scrub his agency's content management system free of the ugly SmartTags that Microsoft Office documents had brought in. And he was using a lot of four-letter words'very few of them XSLT.

But the wonder of the 'digital lifestyle and digital workstyle,' as Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates called it in his keynote, is that you don't have to haul your carcass to Vegas to absorb the CES hype. The Rat could vicariously enjoy the tech-mania from the safety of his own cubicle.

For those who missed CES, here are the Rat's highlights:

Bill Gates says IBM Corp., not Google Inc., is Microsoft's competition. And Google is releasing Google Pack, a set of desktop applications that competes with Microsoft's. But since Microsoft isn't competing with Google, 'I guess Microsoft doesn't have anything to worry about,' the wire-biter smirked.

Google's Larry Page won't comment on plans to release a Google PC, thus setting the world on its ear. 'Inaction hasn't made so much news since Michael Brown resigned from FEMA,' the Rat remarked. Maybe Google has a one anti-Microsoft-play-per-trade-show limit. Then again, with Google going after everything from cell phones to TV set top boxes, who needs another PC?

Yahoo Inc. and Intel Corp. are partnering to move into television with a new media PC platform for Internet television. Intel has named the new system Viiv. Yahoo will offer a video store service, similar to Apple's iTunes video service, for on-demand viewing on TV'making that trip to Blockbuster look more and more futile. Big questions remain: How do you pronounce Viiv? Why would you try?

Yahoo is working its way deeper into the digital lifestyle, with plans to put software on cell phones. It's even planning to offer automatic sharing of phone cam photos'instantly publishing for worldwide consumption poorly cropped photos of celebrity look-alikes on street corners.

Intel also announced its new Centrino Duo chip set, a dual-core processor WiFi laptop platform designed as a portable media platform. Now, you can watch DTV broadcasts of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' from the nearest Starbucks, infect your system with spyware at the same time and not notice a performance degradation for months.

Gates announced that Microsoft will ship Windows Vista before the end of this year. 'Which can only mean one thing,' the whiskered one whispered. 'It's going to be a very long year.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets
in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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