Schools flock to the Net; Win95 gets stuck in a holding pattern

After sticking his head out of his burrow and detecting temperatures above absolute
zero for the first time in what seems like eons, the Rat picked up on a spring-fever mood
swing.


Maybe it was all the goodwill floating around in conjunction with NetDay '96, the
"Internet barn raising" that recently took place in California schools.


In a flurry of volunteerism inspired by a visit from Vice President Gore last year, and
promoted by teachers hoping to ride their way onto the information highway, computer and
networking companies contributed wiring, Net accounts and skilled installers to NetDay.


The installation kits contained 2,000 feet of Category 5 twisted-pair cable--the kind
that supports 100-megabit/sec Ethernet and copper-based FDDI.


Such corporate largesse is just the thing right now, what with federal and state budget
increases in limbo. The Rat hopes all this high-tech charity won't end in California.
Another 20 states have expressed interest in holding their own versions of NetDay.


The Rat's day was made more complete by the arrival of Borland International's
shrink-wrapped Delphi Client/Server Suite. Although the Rat isn't partial to Pascal, he's
always happy to wield another tool, especially one that makes Microsoft Visual Basic look
like a toy Erector set. Of course, Borland probably will count every box of Delphi sold as
another Interbase server, but then Interbase needs all the boosting it can get.


The Rat was further buoyed by a bevy of beta software that slipped into his burrow. The
first test version of Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 was atop the heap, complete with a Windows
95 look and feel. Perhaps the Rat can send his Windows 95 support tips flying out the
portal soon--that in itself would bring him several steps closer to nirvana.


Microsoft no doubt is hoping something will make Windows 95 fly--word is, it's
made a dismal showing outside the consumer market, as agencies and companies play
"wait and see" on migration. Many apparently have decided to hold out for NT
4.0.


So it's probably a good thing for all those software manufacturers that Bill made NT
compatibility part of the Win95 logo standard. At least that way they'll have a market to
sell the software to.


The Rat's good feelings were only slightly dampened by Symantec's latest entries in the
Java contest for the worst coffee-related product name. Added to the heaping pile of
grounds already dumped out of the filter basket were: Caffeine, a Java development tool
for the Macintosh environment, and CafE, a visual development environment for Windows.


Best chuckle of the day: Apple users who dial the company's 800-SOS-APPL support line
and mistakenly substitute a zero for the O have been reaching a phone sex number that
answers, "Hi, Sexy."


All this made the Rat's weekly network miseries almost tolerable, even if he did have
to reprogram a router or two.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace.



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