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Location, location, location!

Here in California, everyone knows that a disaster is always around the corner.

Here in California, everyone knows that a disaster is always around the corner. You don't build your house on landfill because of earthquakes, or on denuded hillsides because of mudslides, or on riverbanks because of floods. A couple of years ago Internet software maker NetManage most likely thought it was safe to pitch its tent across the street from the Infinite Loopers in Cupertino. But now, it's like living in the front yard of the House of Usher. Apple's neighbor has major problems of its own, with stock prices tumbling like Malibu mansions and class-action lawsuits lobbed by irate investors. Exhaust from the eternal Silicon Valley traffic jams must be leaching into the water supply down there.

If you're part of the ozone problem, you've no doubt seen the high-tech billboards along U.S. 101, the clogged artery that connects San Francisco to San Jose and offers spectacular views of many a digerati HQ. Informix and Oracle used roadside placards to trade rabbit punches several months back, and it's now commonplace to see the likes of Cisco dangling job offers to the bumper-to-bumpers. One member of the Skinny Patrol reported this week that WebTV Networks has posted a "now hiring" sign in Redwood Shores, but the notice is dwarfed by the Samurai Larry Towers, home of Oracle and its thin-client software spin-off, NCI.

Speaking to an audience of newspaper editors Friday night, the Larry must have had freeways on his mind: "I never thought that the NC would replace all PCs, just as I never thought the Volkswagen would ever replace the Ferrari...some people buy cars to get themselves from A to B, and some buy cars to get better dates."

Guess which one Larry bought?

They might not be as exciting as what Ellison has hidden in his glove compartment, but rumors are revving up that the IE 4 Beta That Ate Mountain View is full of easter eggs. My lab rats tell me that you had to download from the right place at the right time, as some of the earlier copies have those wacky painted symbols of fertility while others are sans oeuf. Think of it as Willy Wonka and the Browser Factory. One reader instructed me to go into "options" and bring up the "Personal Information" and "Microsoft Profile Assistant." I didn't find anything; perhaps you'll have better luck.

One way to ensure yourself better luck is to warm your lips against the boss's backside by dissing his or her predecessor. Just ask Novell's chief scientist Drew Major, who spoke these words Friday at the Burton Group's Catalyst conference: "It's exciting to have someone at the top who understands what's going on again. That's been a challenge in the past."

Drew's new boss Eric Schmidt has rallied the Provos against those seeking to carve up their 32-bit homeland. But please, some public decorum, laddie. If you're a rumor, the right place to be is my in-box. Don't be an old sod--cough up the 411.