Barney & Francis Finally Find Each Other Other

Francis Vale

Me and my new best pal, Interactive Barney (tm); created by the great-minds-with-nothing-better-to-do at Microsoft; were sitting down on the sofa the other day watching PBS, when something must have gone wacky with the specially encoded radio signal commands. My roboticized, purple plush dino suddenly began saying the craziest things. "The fix is in! The fix is in! Paul is my friend! Paul is my friend!"

Hmm. I wondered if my new bud was talking about Paul Allen, co-founder and second largest shareholder of Microsoft? At the time that Ticketmaster sued Microsoft for linking MS Sidewalk into Ticketmaster's web site, Paul was 55% owner of the ticket selling giant. Why would Paul sue best friend Bill for sending him business? Don't make no sense.

But could this lawsuit be somehow tied in with the new Cowles/Simba Information report about the on-line services business? This industry report stated that the recent huge drop in new registrations for The Microsoft Network actually managed to drag down the entire industry's growth.

I squeezed Barney's little interactive hand another time for more information. Instead of a straight answer, he said, "I like playing with you." Did he mean with me, or my head? For in an Oliver Stone/JFK kind of way, wouldn't it make perfect sense if Ticketmaster won the case because Microsoft "threw" the legal fight? If Gates went into the judicial tank, then Ticketmaster's charge that its web site was proprietary and off limits to link-interlopers would set a nasty, far reaching legal precedent.

Such a precedent would play right into Bill's hands, as he wants to promote the notion of "exclusive" content on MSN. But how can his content be exclusive if every other web site in the world can drop a link to it? However, if the courts ruled against MS Sidewalk, he can legitimately kick every foreign link off MSN. The value of MSN then goes way up, and Bill can begin attracting more new registrations. Plus, he gets to drive any other site out of business that doesn't have the big bucks to develop such high grade content.

Wow, now all those web site buttons, like Disney's, on IE 4.0 begin to make perfect sense: Bill and all his Goofy Hollywood friends secretly band together, and steal the Internet. But how come none of the other media has looked into this Allen/Gates connection? Why have they all looked the other way?

Oliver, get the camera's rolling! This makes the CIA's shenanigans with Oswald in New Orleans look like child's play -- a Barney specialty, after all.

But Barney wasn't through with me yet. Because then he said, "I hate Ralph! Bad, bad Ralph!" Huh? Barney mouthing off against someone? I though he was supposed to be all cute and nice, and teach good family values. Maybe the programmers at Microsoft had slipped a Mickey into Barney's' 256 KB of memory, so that when a particular signal sequence came in over the PBS airwaves, he had "Ralph fit." But who was Ralph?

Wait a minute. Didn't Ralph Nader meet recently with the three top officials in the Justice Department's Antitrust division, and try to convince them that Microsoft had to be broken up because its operating system stranglehold was bad for Americans? Indeed, James Love, director of Nader's lobbying group publicly said, "We think it's an outrage that the Justice Department hasn't taken action to stop Microsoft."

On a hunch, I leaned over and whispered "Nader" into Barney's ear. My animated friend's internal microchip must have locked up, for he suddenly froze and fell over. I had to remove his batteries, put them back in, and then reboot the special MS Windows 95 CD ROM for Barney, "Fun on Imagination Island." Well, maybe it was my imagination that was running away with me. I mean, could Bill G. be so cold blood and calculating as to use innocent three and four year olds as unwitting MS marketing propaganda tools?

Ashamed of myself at having such shameless thoughts, I squeezed Barney's hand for comforting reassurance. He immediately woke up, and said, "You're my special friend." Whew, I suddenly felt better. But then he suddenly said, "Java, Java, nyha, nyah, nyah, nyah" and also made a very rude noise through an opening I didn't know my Interactive Barney had.

I immediately shut him off, and poured myself four fingers of Wild Turkey 101 proof to calm my shaking hands.

The Bottom Line

Home Users:When your wee ones start squalling about too much Java being bad for you, you know it's not about all that caffeine you've been ingesting lately. Time to unplug Barney's IR remote.

Business Users: Forget about all those power leadership books, like "Business Strategy According to Attila the Hun." Instead, sneak an Interactive Barney into your corner office, and when in doubt about that upcoming billion dollar deal, just squeeze his little hand.

Power Users: Oh Boy! There's a new kid on the block who's going to steal all your wunderkind thunder if you're not careful. Better make sure those Barney batteries are ready to leak a little acid into his voice synth chip.

Copyright 1998, Francis Vale, All Rights Reserved

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