As Hurricane Rita headed across the Gulf of Mexico last week, T-Mobile USA was ready for the potential impact. That included having teams...

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As Hurricane Rita headed across the Gulf of Mexico last week, T-Mobile USA was ready for the potential impact.


That included having teams of technicians ready to restore service to cellphone sites affected by the storm and plenty of equipment on hand, including 10,000 gallons of fuel and microwave technology that can replace failed T1 lines.


To help protect the core network, the Bellevue company also fortified its switch operations that serve Houston, which came in handy during Hurricane Katrina. The switch in New Orleans stayed up and running through the storm because of one employee willing to stay behind, spokesman Peter Dobrow said.


The company had known of the threat of flooding in New Orleans and so built its switch on a building’s seventh floor. Unfortunately, rain came in through the roof, Dobrow said, leaving the one employee to bail out the water.


Making plans for Nigel


So far, only British geeks are outraged, but apparently Apple Computer‘s censorship system is preventing fellows named Nigel from getting their names engraved on their iPods.


The problem was reported last week by a U.K. tech publication, The Register, which said Apple’s Web site rejects the word Nigel as “inappropriate.”


The Register’s reporter noted Apple is trying to block racist and sexual keywords, but it still lets users engrave their music players with racy terms. It also thanked reader Nigel Gamble for the tip.


BMGCCSE in SF


Ed Lazowska, who holds the University of Washington‘s Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, was at an unusual venue in San Francisco last week: a shindig for UW alumni working at Google.


Perhaps he’s adding the Sergey Brin sofa and the Larry Page armoire to his collection. Or the Steve Ballmer chair.


WinPalm 5.0


It’s connect-the-dots time.


This morning at the CTIA IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco, Bill Gates, whose company just released a new version of its mobile- device operating system, plans to announce a partnership with Palm, which separated from its operating-system group, and Verizon. Wonder what they’re up to?


For those who can’t wait, gadget blog Engadget has posted images of the Treo 700w, a Palm Smartphone running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0. It also had a Verizon logo and was reportedly a bit slimmer than the Treo 650.


Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by the Seattle Times technology staff. Staff members can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.