Another victim of globalization: flag-waving computer salesmen. A Dell sales rep is being punished after he warned a U.S. customer that buying IBM...

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Another victim of globalization: flag-waving computer salesmen.

A Dell sales rep is being punished after he warned a U.S. customer that buying IBM PCs puts money into the coffers of China’s communist government.

The insinuating e-mails were published by Chinese news outlets. On Thursday, Dell distanced itself from the salesman, known only as “Chris,” saying he would be disciplined for commenting specifically on a competitor, the Associated Press reported.

In one e-mail posted by the Xinhua news agency, Chris said, “… people must understand that every dollar they spend on these IBM systems is directly supporting/funding the Chinese government.”

Chris was partly right. IBM’s PC business was sold last year to Lenovo, a company partly owned by the Chinese government.

But it’s also true that the Dell PCs Chris sells could very well come from China, where Dell has a manufacturing center.

Chris’ pitch fell flat. The customer, in a reply posted by Xinhua, told Chris the approach made Dell look “sleazy” and pointed out that 95 percent of Dell notebooks’ initial manufacturing is done in China, and all notebook designs are done in Taiwan.

Inked deal

Speaking of Lenovo, Microsoft is announcing today that Lenovo is joining the list of companies producing Tablet PCs.

At 1.14 inches thick and 3.5 pounds, the X41 ThinkPad is the thinnest and lightest Tablet PC on the market.

A spokeswoman said last week that there would be an announcement about Lenovo and Tablet PC, but the news was embargoed until early this morning. It wasn’t too hard to connect the dots, even without a digitizer and a stylus.

Preaching to the choir?

A person dressed as an MSN butterfly was on Microsoft‘s campus Thursday handing out gift bags to employees and passers-by.

The bags contained a Web camera and a metal photo frame with a note that read, “Feel like your co-workers are ‘replacing’ your own family?”

The gifts promoted MSN’s new instant-messaging program, which allows people with Web cameras to have real-time video chats online. The program and camera are “the perfect combination for achieving that elusive life/work balance,” the note read.

If only it were that easy.

Texas two-step

The Dell dude wasn’t the only Texan to catch our attention. Former Enron boss Ken Lay appeared in a new version of the old Nigerian 419 e-mail scam that appeared in our inbox.

Usually these scams offer a cut of a deposed dictator’s fortune. All you have to do is send the scammer some cash upfront and millions will be yours.

According to the mail, Lay left $21 million with our new friend Michael Ramsey, who offered 40 percent of the stash.

What’s most surprising is that Ken Lay’s former lawyer is sending e-mail from the computer-science department at Ubon Rajathanee University in Thailand.

Store this

We were trying to figure out Sun Microsystems’ purchase of StorageTek when S.G. Cowen issued a report that summed it up in a headline: “STK Buy Drives Accretive Cash on Cash Return But Adds Mature Revenue Vector.” Now it’s crystal clear.

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