All I've got left is my sense of humour

A few weeks back, I tipped off the scam Microsoft has going with Best Buy, in which customers are automatically signed up and charged for MSN. AOL and CompUSA are practicing similar tactics.

After arguing with my editor, I have a lot of steam to work off, which is good since the marathon is fast approaching. Only three weeks left, and I am up to 18 miles -- in one run, that is. Everything going on these days is testing my sense of humour.

But to prove I’ve still got it, here’s a little programmer joke.

"The Tao is embodied in all software regardless of how insignificant, said the master.

"Is the Tao in a handheld calculator?" asked the novice.

"It is," came the reply.

"And, is the Tao in XP?"

The master coughed and shifted his position slightly. "The lesson is over for today," he said.

The Tao of Programming.

The joke’s on the consumer

Not so funny is the apparent collusion between service providers and chain stores. A few weeks back, I tipped off the scam Microsoft has going with Best Buy, in which customers are automatically signed up and charged for MSN. AOL and CompUSA are practicing similar tactics. One of my spies rushed in a pinch to buy an exec a PDA at CompUSA, learned of the arrangement between it and AOL, and spoke with a manager to get a special code to cancel AOL. Alas, a direct call to AOL was required.

"According to the salesman, an AOL account is established upon purchase of non-CPU devices as well, such as cameras and scanners," my mole murmured.

Whereas CompUSA and AOL seem to be getting along swimmingly, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers -- the former rival Big Blue recently acquired -- cannot say the same, according to a spy who worked in HR, first at PwC and then at IBM. PwC folks are not exactly under IBM’s control, and some of the leadership is running amok. IBM has let a number of PwC employees go, and there is a feeling among those left that they could be "released" any day now. On top of that, the severance packages are lousy.

Now that doesn’t exactly make me want to run out and rejoin the working world. But I have to think it creates opportunities for really good consultants. Who knows, perhaps I can make a nice piece of coin there -- after the marathon.

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