SAN FRANCISCO -- Consider the JPMorgan H&Q Tech Conference a kind of buffet of outlooks and opinions.

The past two days of presentations at the 29th annual meeting have served up something for almost any technology investor's appetite.

A little hungry for bear? You could try the outlook given by Applied Micro Circuits ( AMCC) -- it doesn't see tech turning around for up to half a year (although, to be fair, its CFO is hoping for a bottom in June).

For appetites that can't take anything that heavy, storage maker Network Appliance's ( NTAP) CEO Dan Warmenhoven acknowledged a dreary first half of 2001, but sees some daylight in the second half of the year.

Siebel Systems' ( SEBL) CEO Tom Siebel told lunch-goers that it was either cut jobs, or risk the make-it-or-else culture of his software firm. Software company i2 ( ITWO) joined in the general gnashing of teeth over a slow first half, but made soothing and hopeful noises about a possible second-half pickup.

Talking about the future, no matter how grim, is a task Computer Associates ( CA) would've preferred. Instead, the software company found itself on the defensive for the second day in a row after a scathing New York Times article questioned its accounting.

Some companies found novel ways to deal with not talking about bad news. PeopleSoft ( PSFT) decided it didn't have any. And Microsoft ( MSFT) took the opportunity to flog Office XP instead of make dull table talk about a possibly lackluster quarter.

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