Lab Notes

Lab Notes

We take it back. Recently GCN Lab director Michael Cheek lauded Gateway Inc. for its 5-pound Solo 3150 Fireant notebook with integrated network adapter and modem. He gave the powerful, lightweight portable a grade of A- [GCN, July 12, Page 1].

An anonymous caller then alerted Cheek that Gateway is discontinuing the Fireant, which weighs at least 2 pounds less than any other Solo.

Sure enough, the Fireant has vanished from Gateway's Web site, short of a few refurbished units, although Cheek and other reviewers highly praised it.

Apparently the only surviving Gateway notebook models are the heavy Solo 9300 and the bargain-basement Solo 2500.

So Cheek is withdrawing his proclamation that Gateway has finally taken the lead among notebook makers.

What's next, free servers? Everyone knows about free cell phones, free Internet service and free PCs you can pick up in exchange for dedicating part of the display to advertising or by signing up for a three-year Internet contract. Now we have another entrant into the free hardware craze.

Printer maker Tektronix Inc. of Wilsonville, Ore., has announced that its $2,499 Phaser 840 color printer can be had for free by committing to a certain volume of printing and to buying the color ink from Tektronix.

Some of the cost of giving away the printers will be recouped through three-year support contracts.

Qualifying recipients include U.S. businesses, government agencies, schools, universities and nonprofit organizations, which can receive one printer per office.

To find out more, point your Web browser to www.freecolorprinters.com.

One big, wet firecracker. In all the hype surrounding year 2000 computer problems, some doomsters predicted that Sept. 9 would trigger failures because of the way older computer systems handled a string of four 9s in a row. The date 9/9/99 supposedly was going to cause system failures galore.

It's one of those things that, though theoretically possible, turned out to be a tempest in a teapot. Most computers would read the date as 09/09/99 anyhow, nullifying the possibility of four 9s in a row.

Secondly, researcher GartnerGroup Inc. of Stamford, Conn., found only two instances where such a problem would even conceivably happen.

So if you were waiting in your bunker for the world to end on Sept. 9 and got to wondering why it didn't, now you know.

'Jason Byrne and Michael Cheek

Internet: jbyrne@gcnlab.com and

mcheek@gcnlab.com

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