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The Evaporating Allure of Free Snow -- By Bob Pretenderle
Monday, February 23 2004 @ 03:42 PM EST

Scott Lazar has gone parodic. You'll be glad he did. I believe you can figure out who he is parodying here, without me having to say the name.

*************************************************************

The Evaporating Allure of Free Snow
~ By Bob Pretenderle

I'll admit it, when it comes to winter weather, I definitely have my preferences.

For many years, particularly during my tenure at IBM (International Blizzard Makers) I've always questioned whether there is a better way to make and package snow. Since then I have spent considerable time researching the cold weather products of Microfrost (free snippets of these findings are available on my subscription website. A complete transcript is available in binary form for only $699). In a comparison between these purpose-built, well-engineered products, and those cobbled together by Mother Nature and other 'alternative' sources, the story becomes compelling.

The Free Lunch

The shrill calls of the Free/Open Source Snow community notwithstanding, in the snowmaking business, there is no free lunch.

F/OSS advocates would have you believe the now shopworn refrain 'Snow, made best by Mother Nature' somehow implies a level of quality that is only achievable in the visible, age-old open-air process of dropping rain from clouds in locations that are experiencing sub-freezing temperatures. This 'Thousand Cloud Monkeys' approach is both inefficient and unpredictable. You are forced to rely on the competence of unseen, unknown clouds, which most assuredly may or may not have other interests, some of which may be in conflict with yours.

While the cost of the physical snow supply may very well be free, in the final analysis this is the only category in a total cost of ownership comparison that favors taking this approach (free snippets of these comparisons are available on my subscription website. A complete transcript is available in binary form for only $699).

Unpredictable weather patterns, both in snow production volume variances and in outdoor temperatures greatly affect natural snow availability and shelf life. For many Fortune 500 companies, this risk to their supplies of snow for snowmen, igloos, and snowballs is just too great to be considered acceptable. Many CEO's have launched their companies down this F/OSS path, only to later regret these decisions.

Support in the Face of 'A Big Meltdown'

Imagine for a moment this situation: Your firm has over the past several years made a large infrastructure investment in Open Source igloo materials. Your factory is churning out brick after frigid brick of the frozen-snow home-building materials when suddenly the inevitable occurs: a glance at the thermometer reveals the impending catastrophe. It's now twenty nine degrees Fahrenheit and climbing. Your raw materials, the literal life- blood of your business, are swaying in the balance of a scant three degrees.

Whom do you call for support? That cold front now currently headed over Finland? The unseen, nameless tendrils of chilled precipitation currently descending over northern Idaho? (free sound bytes of my research into weather patterns are available on my subscription website. A complete transcript is available in binary form for only $699). The best you could probably ask for would be to post a request for help on the weather.com message board. Perhaps if you're lucky, some well-meaning Free Snow lover will offer suggestions on what to do with all the useless water after the inevitable occurs, the Big Meltdown.

One Source Versus 'Free'

As I have previously written in my past seventy-four articles, Microfrost has a single source solution that would be foolish to be overlooked. Their fully integrated product offerings include everything from custom slush to USB shovels and gloves. All products revolve around a common .ICE framework, making for scalable, freezable and thawable components. The snow is rigorously tested and being that it comes from a single source, is far more secure and less likely to contain bugs.

The merits of this solution are obvious. You will have a continuous flow of well-formed material that has been tested to withstand temperatures up to a sweltering zero degrees Celsius.

I have been told in no uncertain terms by the project managers that XFreeze.ICE platform, a 64- frostbit version of their flagship product will be able to withstand temperatures in excess of that of freezing. Pricing has not yet been announced, but surely the TCO will certainly make the offering very attractive in comparison to those of the SNO Group, Snovell, or even IBM.

The Evaporating Allure of Free Snow

Muddying the waters, so to speak, for companies considering adopting Open Source Snow is the current legal imbroglio between The SNO Group and International Blizzard Makers. According to SNO spokesman Flake Snowell, the value of their lawsuit goes up every time the skies get cloudy and the temperatures dip.

"As we have stated in the past, IBM's snow and snow-gathering methods are unauthorized derivatives of our frozen water products." Snowell said in a recent interview.

Now I have personally reviewed the hard, cold data for myself (free notes of my research into legal precedent are available on my subscription website. A complete transcript is available in binary form for only $699), and while surely this will be settled in a court of law, the lawsuit appears to be moving at a glacial speed through the court system.

The obvious choice for concerned CEOs would be to avoid this snowball fight altogether and stay with the one source of 'Trustworthy' snow, Microfrost. As Microfrost chairman Chill Gates told me recently over brandy and cigars, "We have a crystal clear contract with the SNO Group that allows us to use certain proprietary materials in the production of water."

I should think for IC (Ice Crystal) department managers everywhere, this peace of mind would be well worth abundant consideration.


Copyright 2004 Scott Lazar

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