Dean Kamen may change the world with new project

Randi is all aflutter, wondering just what this secret project is that Dean Kamen is working on.

Randi is all aflutter, wondering just what this secret project is that Dean Kamen is working on. Kamen is the winner of the National Medal of Technology and most recently created the iBot, an off-road wheelchair.

Venture capitalist John Doerr has been quoted as saying that he didn't think he'd see any new invention in his lifetime as significant as the World Wide Web, until he saw Kamen's new project, known as IT and code-named Ginger.

According to the book proposal of a journalist writing about IT, Kamen's project will change the world.

"Maybe it's some kind of a teleportation device, Bobby," Randi said. "Something that would make cars and planes obsolete."

Redwood Shores-bound

The teleportation device won't come in time, though, for i2 Technologies president Greg Brady to make his big move, according to my spies. Those close to the situation say that Brady, the number 2 man at i2, is planning to defect to Oracle. Brady would take the place of Larry Ellison's former right-hand man, Ray Lane, who left the company last year after being edged out of the big decisions by Larry.

The question remains whether Larry will turn over any real power to Brady or anyone else.

You get what you pay for

With much recent fanfare, ISP AT&T's WorldNet announced that it would offer a basic dial-up service for $US4.95 a month, which includes 150 hours of access for those users who are willing to put up with those annoying pop-up advertisements. But users of the new low-price plan say it's not ready for prime time.

Apparently, each time an ad pops up, it becomes the foreground application, interrupting whatever typing you happen to be doing. And those who go to check out how many hours they've spent online - so they don't have to pay the 99 cents per hour for each hour over the basic 150 - are informed that this part of the application does not yet work. No word from AT&T on when this will be fixed.

Meanwhile in Hotmail land, users are reporting excruciatingly slow performance. On top of that, some Hotmail servers apparently crashed recently, and many users lost their stored email messages. Complaints about the service are answered with "pious apologies that seem to have been created by some sort of random sympathy generator," said one embattled user of Microsoft's free email service.

All the troubles lead one to wonder if Microsoft is trying to upgrade Hotmail from Unix to Windows.

Inauguration in natural language

Question: What do you get when you Ask Jeeves, "When is the president sworn in?"

Answer: "Where can I learn to give someone The Finger?"

Randi's hoping for the teleportation device.

"I could beam myself to the mall without having to worry about traffic or parking," she said. "Now that would change the world."

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