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Tuck a packet of Kleenex into your suit pocket, it's investor conference time.

You can count on hearing a few sob stories this week as the

Robertson Stephens Tech 2001 Conference

takes shape in San Francisco. In the natural progression of loss, last year's winter conference hit during the dizzy inebriation of the market before the Internet music died, as pricey companies led to shock, sticker and otherwise.

Midcorrection last fall, these sorts of conferences were a denial-fest, as investors tried to reassure themselves that the technology arena was full of bargains, not corpses. As the grieving process gets into full swing, this week's Robbie conference will provide tear-jerking renditions of a December and January gone sour, an economy that baffles even the best of businesses and a handful of stiff upper lips who say they are above the fray.

Don't believe them.

Robertson Stephens kicks things off with a harmless Monday, featuring capital-spending secure

Intel

(INTC)

, the recently

gutted

Terra Lycos

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and layoff-likely

WorldCom

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. If your delicate constitution can take it, sit through the financial woes of fiscally insecure private bandwidth provider

Digital Island

(ISLD)

, the headcount

reductions of Internet consulting firm

Razorfish

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, the

Dram-market grousing of

Micron Electronics

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and the

softer trading environment of

E*Trade

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.

Things get hot Tuesday as the once and future kings hold court. Everyone has a lot of explaining to do, and Tuesday will be a good day to get a handle on

AOL-Time Warner's

(AOL)

synergies,

Microsoft's

(MSFT)

Net direction,

Oracle's

(ORCL)

plans to maintain growth,

JDS Uniphase's

(JDSU)

ability to digest a few years of

hypergrowth,

Sun's

(SUNW)

money catching up to its mouth and

eBay's

(EBAY)

ability to move beyond "It" Girl status into a seasoned performer.

Take out your hankie for

SEC

-questioned

Lucent

(LU)

,

flattened

CMGI

(CMGI)

and

Herb Greenberg

fan club member

QLogic

(QLGC)

.

Wednesday offers

Cisco

(CSCO)

yet another opportunity to drown the market in

its sorrows, along with communications equipment and optical

sufferers

Nortel

(NT)

,

Juniper Networks

(JNPR)

,

Corning

(GLW)

and

ONI Systems

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.

Get in touch with your inner rubber-necker by checking out mobile communications application developer

InfoSpace

(INSP)

, recently relieved of

several top managers, and B2B player

PurchasePro

(PPRO)

, which is grappling with some

interesting connections at the moment.

Thursday, the conference wraps up with another chance for

Broadcom

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to go hang-gliding off a cliff

as it did last week at the

Banc of America Securities

conference when CEO Henry Nicholas talked about a sales slowdown. Luckily for other tech investors, Robbie's Tech 2001 features no CEO breakfast or lunch speeches, keeping extreme statements to a minimum.