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Marc goes mum as MS jabs Java

There I was, Fedora in hand, at the Steve Forbes/George Gilder Telecosm Conference in Palm Springs, California, wondering which of the two hosts would win the Stiff-Assed White Guy World Championship.

There I was, Fedora in hand, at the Steve Forbes/George Gilder Telecosm Conference in Palm Springs, California, wondering which of the two hosts would win the Stiff-Assed White Guy World Championship. In this capital of air conditioners and golf course oases, they probably wouldn't even qualify for the final round. It's a plastic, two-faced town; its only redeeming factors are the craggy desert mountains that rise in every direction around it. The spectacular scenery must have struck Marc Andreessen dumb, too.

Mozilla Marc was ensconsed in a panel discussion, entitled, "Does Java break Windows?" His fellow pundits were Marimba's Kim Polese, John Patrick of IBM, and Mark Ryland of Microsoft. During the discussion, moderated by Gilder himself, MS's Ryland heaped pound after pound of Microscorn on all things Java. Andreessen, who had given a Next Generation Internet speech a few minutes earlier, listened intently, taking notes like a young attorney relishing his chance at rebuttal. But when the time came to fire back, he took the Fifth, murmuring something about having nothing to say. The Javagator himself, rendered toothless!

Whatever the reason, the silence-is-golden approach definitely made Marc seem a less than ideal spokesman for a company whose flagship product is called "Communicator." As for the notepad, maybe he was trying to figure out how to spell Netscpae. Or is it Netsacpe?

Obviously, a letter or two can make all the difference in the world. The Skintelligensia was alerted to a hitherto unseen angle on Microsoft's campaign to trademark "NT." Does anyone else remember that Apple had been selling its LaserWriter NT printer for many years before Windows NT was even a gleam in Gates's eye? One pack rat I keep in my confidence has one such trusty dusty in his office, dated July 1990. Could this "NT" matter be one of the ongoing "disputes" that were supposedly smoothed over in the big Apple-Microsoft deal last month? Wonder if any of the $150 million went for those two tiny little letters? For the record, Microsoft's NT stands for...nothing. That's the official word if you ask around at Rancho Redmondo. Just "NT." How evocative.

Apple and MS may be playing kissy-face, but a whole subwayload of Noo Yawkas are hopping mad at MSNBC. For its site redesign party, the unholy combo company created an RSVP Web page for online registrants. One of my party girls says she saved a seat at the soiree more than a week before the event. Or so she thought: Yesterday's email brought MSNBC's disinvitation, with some lame excuse about "overwhelming response" to the online registration process.

Anyway, only people with analog invites got past the bouncer. My rave queen wasn't the only one who didn't make the cut. Among those of the 50 or so dissed were some of Silicon Alley's finest, including folks from analyst house Jupiter Communications, cyber-rights watchdog Voters Telecommunications Watch, and Web design firm Razorfish. Speaking of making the cut, I wonder if The Site's crew was able to attend. Maybe the gang was too busy cleaning out their lockers.

Speaking of eccentric party manners, I must mention last week's "Welcome to the Left Coast" party to honor ZDNet's move to San Francisco, purportedly "where the action is." What was supposed to be a chipper, gin & tonic schmoozing party quickly turned into, by all accounts, a wild vortex of hedonism. According to a professional party crasher, by 9 p.m. a gaggle of Ziffies had jumped into the club's swimming pool to try and kidnap the five-foot floating duck mascot. The would-be abductors, whose T-shirts were, um, quite soaked, were ultimately unsuccessful. What had been billed as a night of "top digital content" was...Well, let's just say that the content on top was not digital. The duck is reported to be in fair condition, with only slight molting. I'm exhausted from telling you such steamy stories. Send me your best rumors, and someday maybe we can go Skinny-Ziffing together.