Seeing (Code) Red

There are two ways to look at last week's largely uneventful Code Red fire drill.

          There are two ways to look at last week's largely uneventful Code Red fire drill.

          Either the episode was a sterling example of law enforcement joining hands with network professionals to ward off a worm that would otherwise have brought the internet to its knees. (Even if that's a stretch, those of you who heeded the call and took appropriate steps to protect your borders deserve kudos for being on the ball.)

          The other way to look at Code Red is that it was much ado about precious little. ... It was certainly much ado.

          Blaming the media is always easy, cheap and fun - but in this case it also appears to be appropriate. TV's talking heads - no doubt emboldened by alarming US Federal Bureau of Investigation pronouncements - were so hysterical I half expected to see survivalists scrambling into their cobweb-infested Y2K bunkers.

          Who's to say which characterisation more accurately reflects reality? After all, no one can prove there would have been hell to pay had the warnings and media coverage been more measured.

          This much appears certain, though: Dire warnings about imminent internet catastrophe far outnumber actual instances of internet catastrophe.

          In fact, we're still waiting for the first example of the latter, aren't we?

          Captains of the IT industry ought to be in good position to tell us when the worst of the economic downturn has passed.

          3Com CEO Bruce Claflin took a stab at this fortune-telling - albeit a tentative stab - when he stopped by for a chat with Network World editors last week.

          "I'm not sure I should say this because I'm not sure I believe it myself," Claflin said, glancing around the room conspiratorially. "I think we've found the bottom."

          He made this pronouncement with the kind of conviction that leads one to wonder why he even bothered to say it.

          The comment also brought to mind a recent quote attributed to Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy.

          "I see a bottom every time I change my one-year-old's diaper; that's the only sure bottom I know," McNealy was reported to have said in April.

          More recently he told the San Jose Mercury News: "There's just no way to predict. Nobody saw the cliff, so how can you say you see the bottom?"

          Do you ever suspect that everyone but you is using the internet to land terrific travel bargains?

          Well, maybe you're not missing all that much. A colleague received this real-life review of - the site that made William Shatner's singing career - in an email from a DC-area friend who's planning to attend the colleague's wedding in Massachusetts two weeks hence.

          "What are you guys doing this weekend? My lovely wife went to and, well, screwed it up. NEVER USE THIS WEB SITE, IT SUCKS. Anyway, we've got nonrefundable, nontransferable tickets for this weekend to fly up to Boston and before I throw them in the trash assuming you guys have a million things to do, I figured I'd check first."

          Feel better now?

          Granted, the "lovely wife" ordered these tickets for the wrong weekend, which isn't Priceline's fault. However, the anecdote drives home the potential hidden costs of buying cut-rate airline tickets from the likes of Priceline, which, by the way, posted its first-ever quarterly profit last week.

          And then there's this postscript: The colleague's DC friends still have to buy two more plane tickets if they want to make the wedding.

          So much for bargain hunting.

          Have a point to make, an idea to suggest or a tip to offer? The address is

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More about 3Com Australia3Com AustraliaFederal Bureau of InvestigationScott CorporationSun MicrosystemsUS Federal Bureau of Investigation

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