I get a lot of hell being a single dad. Most of the flak comes from Grandma DuBaud, who, devoted as she is to my 12-year-old son Vermel, is growing impatient for more great-grandchildren while Vermel takes his time growing up. So I try to get out, though I can never escape this terrible sense of obligation. Call it shotgun dating.
"You're pushing 40, Pop," Vermel reminded me with a withering tone of voice. "You're unmarried and you haven't taken your company public yet. The optics on this are terrible."
Optics! Where does the kid pick up this lingo? "Optics" is the new PRspeak currently bandied about by D.C. techwonks to describe public perception, reality being the province of another industry, perhaps another era. An example of cyberoptics at their most intriguing: tech tongues were wagging at the star-studded White House Correspondents' dinner last week when the first lady of high-tech hobnobbing Esther Dyson waltzed in with antitrust taskmaster and Microsoft nemesis Joel Klein.
Clearly this was a platonic encounter between the single Dyson and her married escort, but who could resist musing on the strangeness of the tablefellows? Did she pass along regards from buddy Bill Gates? Did he share tips on breaking up monopolies? It was probably as innocent as AOL CEO Steve Case schmoozing with AOL board member Colin Powell at the same affair. But the optics, the optics!
We're not the first to recirculate the rumor that Microsoft braniac billionaire Nathan Myrhvold is on his way out of Microsoft. Nathan himself has had to fend of queries from coworkers plugged into the rumor mill, whom he has told, "Reports of my departure are greatly exaggerated." Skinformants tell us that the root of Myrhvold's rumored problems in Redmond is company prez Steve Ballmer, said to be annoyed with Nathan's high-flying high-jinx, especially his notorious stint as a Gulfstream jet model.
Department of lame-brained domain name games: Dell's new Gigabuys.com site name was the product of neither desperation nor marketing genius. The site was developed internally for use by the one factory outlet in Austin that sells Dell refurbished PCs. An enterprising area resident--not a Dell employee--was the first to register "gigabuys.com." He received something in the area of "down payment for a car" for his efforts, said Richard Owen, VP of Dell online worldwide. Meanwhile, since the firm is terrably ambitious, it has also registered and trademarked "terrabuys.com" and variations thereof, although there are currently no plans to use the names.
And now, since our bag of tricks obviously has a hole in the bottom, it's time for a long overdue episode of Chewin' the Fat, where I shut up and you spout off:
"Half the time I am not sure what you are talking about," writes Linda Banks. "But that is only because I am not informed." Join the club, Linda, on both counts.
Brandi writes in with Y2K concerns:
"at my school we had 2 do a math report and a girl had computers. she said something about it coming un april 9,1999. and on september9,1999. my problem is that my birthday is on 4,9,1999. how is my parents going 2 do anything? is it really coming thar day? will i still go 2 school?"
Brandi, take it from us: Keep going to school.
Bohdan O. Szuprowicz writes in to say, "Hey. Will sell technorumors! How much are you paying?" What do you think this is, checkbook journalism? Worse, an e-commerce site?
Speaking of journalism, hats off to the diligent copyeditors over at Reuters, who published this correction regarding my own fine company:
"A corrected version follows:
SAN FRANCISCO, April 20 (Reuters) - Internet and media network CNET Inc. on Tuesday said signed a deal..."
Last morsel of fat for the day comes from Mark Steinlicht, who queries, "Can it be possible for anyone to control the language online?"
Everyone has to do his or her part where this important topic is concerned, Mark, and I made a special effort this week. I wrote the whole column in English. Your rumors are worth their weight in gold, folks, but can you imagine the optics if I shelled out for them?