Scalability Day invests Rat with free proof of a reporter's suffering

Ostensibly, the purpose was to gather intelligence on Chairman Bill's latest plans to
crush Unix under his heel. Or perhaps it was punishment for one of the Rat's many
transgressions.


The cyberrodent isn't sure, but it felt like the latter. For three solid hours, he was
trapped like, well, a rat as Bill Gates, Microsoft veep Paul Maritz and a cast of dozens
droned about the glory of Windows NT Enterprise Edition and BackOffice.


Around him, members of the press, analysts and Microsoft customers struggled to sustain
their concentration and then their consciousness.


After the first hour, the Rat began squirming in his seat to restore circulation to his
hindquarters. After the second hour, he began to feel for weak spots in the flooring to
bore through and escape.


When the marketing VP of a large database company took the stage and promised he only
had 20 or so more PowerPoint slides, the Rat started fumbling through his pockets for the
cyanide pill he had stashed for just such an emergency.


The whole day's message could have been summed up like this: "We can do a billion
simulated transactions in a day. We can run on multiple processors. We can cluster. We're
just like Unix, only cheaper and easier. Trust us. Buy our products, or we'll keep you
locked here in this auditorium for eternity."


After an interminable question-and-answer session in which all the questions seemed to
come from shills, the Rat managed to corner some Microsofties with his own queries:


The response to all three was, "I'll have to get back to you on that."


Feeling the need to gnaw something of value out of the event, the Rat wandered into the
Partners Pavilion, where a host of hardware and software companies had scattered their
booths among tables laid out with smoked salmon


and sushi.


The Rat chatted with a few server vendors, scarfed a little fish bait, and tried to
find something he could take back to the Beltway to show the day hadn't been all mirrors
and slideware.


About to abandon hope, he remembered to turn in the yellow ticket to collect the binder
of slide printouts from the day's dronings.


As it turned out, the binder came with an official Microsoft Scalability Day zippered
sweatshirt vest.


Binder and vest in paw, the whiskered one bailed and headed for the Metroliner. Next
morning, he strode into his manager's office.


"And what did you get out of the Microsoft spiel?" his chief information
officer asked.


The vest-clad Rat turned around to show off his embroidery: I Went to Microsoft
Scalability Day, and All I Got Was This Lousy Vest.


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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