Lab Notes

Mouse and Gates. At Spring Comdex in Chicago this year,
Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates demonstrated Microsoft Windows 2000 without a repeat
of last year’s embarrassing crashes by Windows 98. The third beta version of Win 2000
will be out soon, and Microsoft still predicts an official launch at year’s end.

Gates also demonstrated a titanium-encased mouse that is a revival of the optical
mouse. With no ball to pick up desktop lint, the new mouse promises longer reliability. It
will likely be ready this fall.

While Gates was busy demonstrating the new mouse, he found time to discuss the limited
future he sees for the rival Linux open-source operating system. He likened it to the
browser market, pointing out that early browsers were free, but that only commercial
organizations could have developed the current crop of browsers. In view of the bloated
and proprietary nature of such browsers, I refrain from further comment.

Time for QuickTime. Speaking of open source, Apple
Computer Inc. has decided to make the source code of its QuickTime server software
available to foster third-party development. Publicizing source code is a way many
companies have found to increase interest in their software and get it ported to different

Information about all of Apple’s open-source projects appears on the Web at

Apple also announced that users can download a free beta version of QuickTime 4 from
the Web site at

What’s bugging Outlook? A couple of new bugs are
crawling around in Microsoft’s latest Internet Explorer 5 browser. One that affects
the browser’s mail client, Outlook Express 5, has been dubbed the Sorcerer’s
Apprentice bug, after the Disney movie “Fantasia” in which Mickey’s magic
makes brooms run amok.

The first of the Outlook Express bugs causes trouble for users with multiple Post
Office Protocol 3 accounts. If one account is set to delete e-mail messages after
retrieval but another saves mail on the server after retrieval, multiple copies of
messages keep getting downloaded in an endless loop.

No fix is available yet, but the best workarounds are to revert to Outlook Express 4 or
to set all POP3 accounts to handle deletions exactly the same.

The other bug involves Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol failures following Internet
Explorer 5 installations. The suggested workaround is to change the client VPN settings to
use the IP address instead of the name of the VPN server.


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