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OS-9 suits Apple

Some Skintillating speculation wafted our way regarding our number-crunching friends in Cupertino. At the Macworld trade show, Steve Jobs referred to the upcoming version of the Mac OS, formerly code-named Sonata, as OS 9. Many were expecting to have it called 8.7. Numerological nonsense? Nope.

It's tough being a single dad sometimes, and a big part of the problem is that I am not a mom. If I were a mom, I would not forget basic information like that demanded of me by my 12-year-old son Vermel this week: his exact time of birth. Vermel's paramour Ammonia Blossom wanted to do Vermel's chart, but naturally I had no idea what time the kid was born. It's enough trying to remember the kid's birthday every year.

"You were born sometime between afternoon cocktails and midnight cigars," I offered. "I'd peg it between 9 and 11. It was dark."

Meanwhile, while Vermel stomped off to City Hall to dig up his birth certificate, some Skintillating speculation wafted our way regarding our number-crunching friends in Cupertino. At the Macworld trade show, Steve Jobs referred to the upcoming version of the Mac OS, formerly code-named Sonata, as OS 9. Many were expecting to have it called 8.7. Numerological nonsense? Nope.

A Des Moines outfit called Microware, a maker of operating systems for embedded devices, trademarked the name OS-9 a decade ago. Its product is widely used in devices such as networking and communications equipment, digital television, Internet equipment, industrial process and control applications. Anyone want to take bets on a lawsuit being filed once Apple ships Mac OS 9 come October or thereabouts?

Ironically enough, Microware makes a version of their OS for PowerPC chips in embedded applications, triggering just the type of scenario that puts red meat on the table for trademark infringement lawyers. A case could be made that Apple's OS 9 was creating "confusion in the marketplace."

"At this time, we are not making any statements in regards to Mac OS 9," said a Microware spokesperson.

Maybe they are waiting to see if they'll get renumeration--or is it remuneration?--before they have to file any suits.

More on the Mac front: Freemac.com, the start-up that plans to give away up to a million iMacs over the next two years, had one of the more unusual press conferences of recent memory, thanks to the presence of '60s pop art icon Peter Max, Chief Creativity Officer for the company.

Max's responsibilities as CCO aren't entirely clear. During the press conference, he explained, "I love media and the whole idea of using media as an art form and as I used to always say, 'The media is my canvas.'"

Max promised "something very, very special" for Freemac. The artist plans to paint a limited series of iMac "Collector's Edition" computers for the company to be auctioned for charity. One such computer was shown at the recent Macworld trade show, and was priced at $20,000, substantially more than the iMac's standard $1,199 price tag.

Max has been entrenched in technology for a while; he has been involved with Apple before on projects, and has met with people like Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, where Max paintings and such are among the more commonly sold items. While touring the eBay site with Whitman, Max saw a pair of painter's pants he had given to a friend on sale for $6,000. Evidently, the friend was going to give them as a gift to a girlfriend, but they later broke up. Max seemed pleased that his pants were worth so much.

A literary tech troika on tour--Po Bronson (The Nudist on the Late Shift), Gary Rivlin (The Plot to Get Bill Gates), and the WSJ's own Kara Swisher (AOL.com)--has been storming bookstores around the country and posting diary entries about it. A Skinside report: Following their conversation/debates, large crowds tend to form around the unusually handsome Bronson, leaving Swisher and Rivlin to make sense of it all. "We're like Charlie's Angels," reasons Swisher. "I'm the smart one, Po's the pretty one, and Gary's the one you keep forgetting."

My memory's not so great--but look, I've remembered to file the column two weeks in a row now. Let's make it three for three with some help from your rumors.