Got a little time to help?

My spy inside the walls at Nortel observes that life is a little gloomy there right now in the wake of an additional 10,000 layoffs. Meanwhile, over at Sun's Colorado office, I hear things are similarly bleak.

If Amber is any indication, you can't keep a good nation down. She's joined the ranks of a community service organisation for part-time volunteer work, as so many are doing around the country in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Community service

Unfortunately, more than a few Nortel employees now have a lot of time available for community service in the wake of its latest financial results and an additional 10,000 layoffs.

Not surprisingly, my spy inside the walls at Nortel observes that life is a little gloomy right now. Curiously, he says layoff "winners" are presented with blue folders containing their respective layoff packages. The result is jokes and poems flying about via email about these folders, such as: "Roses are red, Folders are blue, There's no 'I' in TEAM, And now there's no 'U'."

"Childish, maybe, but anything to pass the time waiting for the axe to fall," my spy wrote.

Meanwhile, over at Sun's Colorado office I hear things are similarly bleak. Sun is apparently doing "redeployments" instead of layoffs, but the hitch is that only about four open positions exist elsewhere in the company for redeployment, my spy at Sun says. Talk about fighting for your job.

Jack Welch fan club

Another reader, in response to a recent column, has a theory about why former General Electric chief Jack Welch's book is a top seller on Amazon.com. It suggests that GE employees were instructed to put their copy in a conspicuous place in their home and, every time anyone came into the room, point to it and say, "Best damn book I ever read!" Nice theory, but all those employees could still not explain the high sales figures.

By the way, here's an update to my Budweiser investment tips. A reader in Michigan notes that if you had purchased $US1000 worth of Bud in that state, the return would be about $US148, based on a 10-cent deposit for each can. Arguably a better investment than a "junk" bond.

XP performance?

A reader told me last week that he's been using Windows XP release candidate 1 with a degree of success, but came unstuck with a different version he picked up at the System Builders RoadShow in Chicago.

When he entered the product code to activate the previously sealed software, a message said the code was already in use and "proceeded to delete everything on the hard drive".

By the way, one witty reader observes if you put "XP" in the mirror you get "9X." Is XP a reflection of Windows 9X?

"They're not going to stop me from flying," Amber said before jetting off for a quick trip to Colorado last week for her mum's birthday. Now there's strength of character.

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