Have I told you? I'm currently shopping around a script of Let's Get Skinny: A Life in the Shadows. It's going to be the bio-pic to end all bio-pics, we're talking Crumb meets Donnie Brasco with a little Tron thrown in (I had to say that--it's my son Vermel's favorite movie). But to sell this baby, I have to head south, to the stinking pit of palm trees and plastic surgery. Guess what--I'm not the only one jetting to Los Angeles.
The tremendous trio of Worcester Polytechnic students who stuck their skinny fingers through the Internet Explorer security hole are also about to taste the smog of La-La Land. Lured no doubt by promises of Diet Coke and cold pepperoni pizza, the three lads are flying all-expenses-paid to L.A. to appear on an NBC talk show and discuss their geek sleuthing, which turned out to be the result of a homework lesson. And if immersion in Hollywood--well, OK--Burbank decadence isn't enough to rot the hearts of these doe-eyed techies in training, Microsoft (you know, the folks who put the 'MS' in MSNBC!) wants to put the holy trinity to work as IE 4.0 testers. Would they get to tell the press about their findings? Mmm, probably not.
While the Explorer exploders might soon be silenced, one man who will never shut his trap was at it again this week in San Francisco. Pretending to be a visionary at a "future vision" conference, Sun CEO Scott McNealy told dirty Microsoft jokes , insulted Corel, and questioned the wisdom of giving Internet access to those who can't afford it. One Skinny scholar fondly remembered a speech McNealy delivered a few years ago at SF's Commonwealth Club in which he scoffed at the very notion of everyone plugged into an information superhighway. "Give me a break!" he sneered.
Fellow visionary Larry Ellison did his part to amuse the crowd on Tuesday when he couldn't figure out which remote control device to use to advance his slides.
A few years ago, the visionaries were hailing the online services as the hot sweet honey of the info age. Since then, they've all taken quite a beating. Even queen bee AOL has had a bumpy ride, despite a constant upswing in subscribers. The company just recently hit the 8 million mark, according to its press releases. But look a little closer: In early February, the company said it had "over 8 million members worldwide." Later in the month, the wording was changed to "approximately 8 million." One U.K. Skinnyphile now tells me that a recent U.K. announcement said "nearly 7 million." That sounds like a typo to me, but the use of "approximately"? Is AOL hedging its numbers? Stay tuned. Don't forget to wish me luck in L.A. I'll be roaming the floor at Internet World next week and doing lunch with Kevin and Mel. Oh yes, I'll also be checking my email, so you better send me a rumor.