R. Fink | Trying to fill these gift lists could take another year

The Packet Rat'Commentary: Maybe it's because Microsoft has been naughty that Santa decided the whole software industry is getting coal this season

AS ANOTHER YEAR WINDS down, the Rat has spent the last few weeks trying to dig himself out of that age-old procurement dilemma ' what to get people for Christmas.

It seems everything for the family is computational-based this year.

The Rat's sons have become YouTube moguls, videotaping family schadenfreude, creating video blogs and performing comedy skits to grab the attention of tens of viewers. So, naturally, they're getting new video equipment and an upgraded laptop PC ' in exchange for never, ever, showing the state of the Rat's office on the Web again.

The whiskered one's wily daughter has been begging for her own computer since she was a toddler.

She would use the Rat's defunct Windows CE portable as a toy and play 'working on my Web site.'

So the Rat and his wife have decided to do the Give One Get One deal with One Laptop Per Child, paying $399 to get the child-size laptop from Nicholas Negroponte's nonprofit computer initiative while funding the delivery of one to a child in a developing country.

'Every kid should have a computer,' the cyberrodent smirked, as he showed his wife his sons' YouTube page. 'Look how well our older kids turned out.' Hey, what are they doing with that squirrel duct-taped to a skateboard?' While the list for his family was based on actual durable goods and pumping money into the retail economy, some of the things on his own list weren't on anyone's Web site.

'Dear Santa: I'd like Vista to run faster. Is that too much to ask?' Apparently, it is.

An outfit called Devil Mountain Software found that the release candidate for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 still ran slower than Windows XP ' and ran twice as slow as the final Windows XP service pack release candidate. In fact, in some cases, it was slower than the original Vista.

Maybe it's because Microsoft has been naughty that Santa decided the whole software industry is getting coal this season.

With the economy still shaky and the financial industry still smarting from the subprime mortgage fiasco, Goldman Sachs downgraded its expectations for software companies in 2008 from 'Irrational Exuberance' to 'Tepid' ' or, rather, from 'Attractive' to 'Neutral.'

In fact, the only thing really keeping the information technology market on its feet in the United States right now is the government market.

Cisco Systems managed to eke out a small amount of growth in its U.S. enterprise business last quarter mostly on the weight of sales to the federal government.

Of course, the one thing the Rat really wants for Christmas, only Congress can give him.

'I'd like a passed omnibus spending bill, please.' I've been really good.'

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