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8/5/2005
06:25 PM
John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Big Fish, Small Ponds, And Web-Site Sexism

FOLLOW THE LEADER. Dell has a new CIO. She's actually the company's current CIO, Susan Sheskey, who took over on an interim basis for Randy Mott when he decided to move over to Hewlett-Packard last month for what was reported to be a very handsome (eight figures) compensation package. Like Mott, Sheskey will report to Dell CEO Kevin Rollins and become a member of the company's executive-management committee. "Susan has an exceptional understanding of our business model and the competitive advantages derived from a robust IT infrastructure," Rollins said in a statement. Sheskey is a 12-year veteran of Dell, most recently serving as VP of global sales, services, manufacturing, and fulfillment IT. Before that, she spent 20 years in telecom, at Ameritech and Ohio Bell.

BIG FISH, SMALL POND. Just to prove how small a pond we're swimming in, Microsoft's new chief operating officer, Kevin Turner, came to the software company from Wal-Mart, where he ran the discount retailer's big-box franchise, Sam's Club. Before that, Turner was the CIO of Wal-Mart, having taken over for Randy Mott when he left to become the CIO at Dell.

NO PEEKEE.Speaking of Microsoft, the software powerhouse published a free add-on to Word 2003 that lets users redact documents--that is, black out certain sections, like in the Kennedy assassination conspiracies--before printing or E-mailing. The Redaction Add-in is a 1-Mbyte download that adds a toolbar to Word 2003. Any text marked by the add-in is removed from that version of the document, and black bars appear in both the on-screen and printed versions. "Sensitive government documents, confidential legal documents, insurance contracts, and other sensitive documents are often redacted before being made available to the public," Microsoft said in a statement. Microsoft ought to know.

PAY TO PLAY. Scotland is offering its adult citizens $175 per year to develop their computer skills. The initiative expands on a campaign by the Scottish government that offered $350 to low-income individuals to take computer-training courses. The program was launched last December, and more than 9,000 Scots have participated.

THIS IS A MAN'S WORLD WIDE WEB. Men and women respond to the Internet differently, according to research done at the University of Glamorgan in Wales. That may not be all that surprising, but the research says men and women differ greatly in what appeals to them in terms of Web-site design. In almost every case, women preferred Web sites designed by women and men preferred those created by men. The problem, of course, is that the majority of Web sites are designed by men, including those--such as ones for cosmetics and beauty aids--meant to appeal to women. Not surprisingly, the University of Glamorgan has launched a consulting service for Web-site design.

What? Women want ribbons and bows on their Web sites, and men want snails and puppy-dog tails? Isn't that simplistic and condescending?--which is just how we like it on The News Show, video for the Tech Generation, at www.TheNewsShow.tv, or on informationweek.com. Don't forget to send your favorite stereotype, or an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326.

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