LAB NOTES

As time goes by. Scene: Redmond, Wash., 1997. First
Microsoft Outlook programmer: “So when’s Columbus Day observed?” Second
Outlook programmer: “Oct. 12, I think.” First programmer: “Thanks.”


That was probably what happened during development of Microsoft Outlook 98, which has
the oddball notion that Columbus Day is observed on Oct. 12, instead of the proper one:
second Monday in October. Outlook lists the observed dates for holidays without listing
the true dates, which is an oversight.


And that’s not all. This year, Outlook claims
Memorial Day falls on May 24 when in fact it will occur a week later, on May 31. The
Microsoft Corp. programmers apparently decided that Memorial Day was the fourth Monday of
May. This May has five Mondays, however, and Memorial Day is supposed to fall on the last
Monday of May.


Could it be that the programmers’ ignorance of public holidays has anything to do
with the fact that the release date for Windows 2000 keeps slipping? Latest estimates put
the release of Beta 3 in April with final product shipment at year’s end. Let’s
hope Microsoft doesn’t celebrate April Fool’s Day.


Lotus rolls Domino. It was supposed to be a grand
unveiling at Lotus Development Corp.’s annual LotuSphere meet-and-greet event last
month in Orlando, Fla. The fifth full releases of the Lotus Notes client and Domino server
in Lotus’ successful groupware suite were set to launch and defend their market share
against Microsoft encroachment.


Problem was, the products turned out to be no-shows. Initially scheduled for shipment
late last year, Notes and Domino 5.0 won’t reach the distribution phase until
sometime this month. The company said it is not making further revisions, it is just being
careful to test thoroughly before release.


Lotus hopes to pass the 50-million-user mark this year with its new groupware releases.
That would represent almost 50 percent growth and would make Notes and Domino the most
popular software behind Microsoft’s 100-million-user Windows operating system.


Pagers on attack. No, it’s not a new Fox
television special. This story comes from the Ukraine, where a businessman reportedly
bought 50 new pagers, one for each of his employees. While he was driving back to his
office, all the pagers started going off. The chorus of beeps so surprised the man that he
let go of the steering wheel and crashed into a post.


He survived the crash without injury but was not amused to see the message on each
pager’s LED display: “Congratulations on a successful purchase.”  


—Jason Byrne
Internet: jbyrne@gcn.com



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