Column: Bacchus, bathos feature at PC World awards

The PC World Awards were never intended as a boisterous bacchanalian bunfight--it just seems to happen that way every year. The folks in the industry make their own fun--and they rather outshone the hired comedy talent as they did so this year.

The PC World Awards were never intended as a boisterous bacchanalian bunfight--it just seems to happen that way every year. The folks in the industry make their own fun--and they rather outshone the hired comedy talent as they did so this year.

Who could match, for example, the bathos of the Microsoft contingent as they struggled to come to terms with the fact that they hadn't won absolutely everything? "What is this Eudora that won the email award?" one traumatised Microsoftie wailed, going all soft and squishy on the Router’s shoulder, "I've never heard of it!"

Ditto the efforts of the stalwart IDG employee who was sitting chanting the PC World mantra "Best read, most trusted," in the hope that that might make the room stop spinning, when a notably pneumatic employee of a certain vendor came and leaned over his table. In the face of such considerable cleavage, his reptile brain took over and he blurted out: "Breasts red, most busty!" to the bemusement of those around him. The Router will frankly never be able to think about the old rag in quite the same way again.

The Router understands that, at these affairs, decorum can go out the window (or even down the lavatory) but was, however, deeply shocked that unsavoury elements in the awards crowd should have jeered the announcement of Xtra's award as Best ISP. Can these narrow-minded folk not find it in themselves to forgive security glitches, unreachable support services, double billing, absence of hosting services and frankly treacherous set-up software and just look at how good the marketing is?

Look, the hour-long waits for Xtra phone support are not because Xtra doesn't care. It's because Xtra's new registration pack is a bomb. The Xtra installer writes to disk DNS and phone information to connect a new user's system to Xtra's registration server. Then it tries to make the user fill in a survey. Most users quite understandably hit the kill button on the survey--and find themselves unable to connect to anything but the registration server, which won't deal with them because it thinks they're already registered. The only solution is a minimum 20 minutes of being nursed by phone through renaming and deleting files. Brilliant!

As if that's not enough, the Xtra bundle with new PC Direct PCs is a bit of a disaster. The OEM version of Win95 used by PC Direct means that newbies can't register automatically with Xtra unless they have a registry patch done.

Restructuring blues at EDS. It has been whispered in my ear that, after a period of wheeling in various people from its overseas operations to supplement its in-house team, EDS couldn't come to any agreement in its dealings with Telecom. Like others before them, they found it just too hard. Strange, then, that with such naked telecommunications ambitions EDS never touched base with Clear, Bellsouth and Telstra.

This just in: current wait for Clear Net Registration packs--two weeks. Haven't we heard this somewhere before?

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