Lotusphere, in Orlando, is not just another Mickey Mouse expo

The Rat has learned never to look a gift conference in the mouth, certainly not one
that's held in Orlando, Fla.

 So he raided the piggy bank, packed up the ratlings and his significant other, and
headed to Lotusphere at Disney World.

 There's something so surreal about a computer conference in the Magic Kingdom.
Bemused, the Rat kept pushing his Metro farecard into Epcot Center turnstiles and looking
for the Federal Triangle stop on the monorail.  


Just like last year, IBM Corp.'s marketeering dollars made Lotusphere even more
surreal. Avery Brooks-Cmdr. Sisko from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, out of uniform-came on
stage to introduce the Lotusians. The stage even had a waterfall, "but no sign of
Dennis Leary," the Rat groused.

 IBM chairman Lou Gerstner made anappearance, noting that he still was, a year after
IBM's purchase of Lotus, the only guy wearing a tie in the whole room. "I'm obviously
out of uniform," he joked. Gerstner then read from a report comparing Netscape
Communications Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to two emperors dueling naked.

 Shuddering at the thought of Bill Gates and Marc Andreessen in the buff, the Rat
decided it was time to leave and get his 25th cup of coffee before the rush started.

 The Lotusphere presentations matched Disney World for fantasy. With the Domino Web
server as the hammer, the Lotusians see the world as a bed of nails to be pounded. They
announced new clients for Notes, including Java components to access the groupware server,
and a Java-based desktop environment for network computers. 


They even announced Notes groupware for IBM AS/400s and System/390 mainframes.
"Hmm, a Notes server for 10,000 users," the Wired One reflected. Maybe he should
stop harassing the mainframers about hogging the computer room floor.

 Foremost on the Rat's agenda, however, was to find out more about Lotus' plans for
Notes DMS. The company rushed its Defense Message System module to completion to qualify
for the DMS shoot-out, so there wasn't time to integrate the gateway completely with the
Domino server engine itself.

 Meanwhile, the company's messaging group in Mountain View, Calif., is finishing the
commercial X.500 mail transfer agent for Notes, so the DMS folks are talking about using a
modified version of the module for the next Notes DMS release.

 The Cyberrodent also got down-and-techie with the Lotusians about integration with
ordinary Notes mail, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol mail and Fortezza cards.

 On a break, the Furry One stopped at one of the hundreds of info-kiosk PCs that
Lotus had wired up to a LAN and a T1.

 He wanted to check his e-mail but soon found that his mail server had crashed. He
called the office to find out what was going on, only to learn that his loyal staff didn't
even know.

 "But we haven't gotten any e-mail messages about the mail server being
down," cried the Rat's help desk lackey. The Wired One made a mental note of whom to
eviscerate on his return.

 The ratlings were rapidly dismantling the property of that other rodent, Mickey
Mouse. With only Mrs. Rat to keep them in line, they discovered the underground tunnel
system. Only a personal appeal from Mickey and a quantity of Disney merchandise prevented
them from locking down the whole park and defrosting Walt's head.

 "Next time," the Rat chided them, "hold out for a three-film
contract."  


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


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