Spring Comdex had little worth sinking your incisors into

This month's Spring Comdex, ousted from Atlanta by preparations for the Olympics, moved
to the Windy City. If there's one thing that the combination of Comdex and Chicago brings
to the Rat's mind, it's Spam.

Chicago's great meat-packing heritage was matched by the sheer volume of gelatinous
computer by-products presented to Comdex visitors.

One example of the techno-slime: A flier for a motion-sensitive input device called the
ZON, pronounced ""zone'' and marketed as a business tool, portrayed the average
user as a naked woman trapped in wiring and obviously pleading for a wireless alternative.

This is the same old socio-political incorrectness that was behind the Snap-On Tool
Girl calendars and their ilk, long banned from federal offices. It generally doesn't faze
the Rat, who, after all, survived the OS/2 Fiesta Bowl. But having just completed some
mandatory sensitivity training, the Cyberrodent decided to take time out of his busy
schedule to call the press contact for the ZON product and voice his revulsion.

Later, recalling that unfestive Fiesta Bowl, the Rat mulled over the latest piece of
software sausagery from IBM.

The next version of OS/2, code-named Merlin, will be packed with every piece of
technology that IBM has lying around the usability lab, including a voice recognition
system it's been tinkering with for 25 years.

The Rat can just see the marketing spam coming now. The "robust" and
"feature-rich" verbiage will drip like grease off hot salami.

Marketing spam comes in many forms. If you prefer virtual computer by-products of the
e-mail sort, look out. Alpha Software Corp. has something that should set the mail-filter
vendors across the land atremble with anticipation.

Alpha is beta testing NetMailer, an electronic mail-merge program for
"personalized" mass mailings over the Internet. Marketeers could generate
hundreds of thousands of junk e-mails and not give themselves away with lengthy
"to" and "cc" lists. The Rat shivers at the thought.

But e-mail spam is a problem the Rat can sink his teeth into. Even after filtering out
all the hate mail, he's still sifting through more than 100 messages a day.

Lately, most of it has been requests for tech support, tax questions about per-diem
rates and angry letters from readers named Fink.

But one reader, feeling that openly published e-mail addresses are an invitation to
e-mail bombings, dumped an electronic chain letter on the Packet Chewer, who did the only
thing he could do--forwarded it to conservative mailing lists with the reader's e-mail
address in the respond-to field.

Satisfied that he'd done his daily bit toward making the world once again safe for
intelligent life, the Rat sank back into his bunker and surfed the Web to the new
"Our Bodies, Ourselves" site. You can never be too much in touch with your
sensitive side.

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

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