The intercom on my desk buzzed and the Long Island lilt of my assistant Trixie Pixel assaulted me. "Skinny, ain't it time you took a vacation?" She's right, I thought as I chewed on my stylish stylo and stared at a blank piece of paper; it's been a while since I've rested and recouped. Columns have been harder and harder to squeeze out recently, the writer's block heavier with each passing day. What I needed was a release, a way to get things moving again. Trixie called the Organic Wheat Germ Farm and High Colonic Spa, but it was booked solid for months. I had to settle for option No. 2: Guy Kawasaki's words of wisdom.
Speaking at the Web.Builder design conference this week, Kawasaki--the man who legitimized the concept of "technology evangelism"--regaled the designers and coders in the audience with his "rules for revolutionaries" but used the tattered security blanket of high-tech keynotes: the top ten list. Nonetheless, Guy Smiley drew more than a few chuckles, especially with this rule: "Eat like a bird, but shit like an elephant."
Un image vivant, to be sure, and inspirational too. I instantly regretted the double espresso I quaffed just before the speech. Guy's reasoning was that birds eat far more than their body weight, so one should be gobbling information from any and every source possible, he said. Then when you've digested it, spread your ideas and, uh, creations around. Ah, ideas are like bran flakes, oui? Unfortunately, Kawasaki's rah-rah revolutionary talk was, like all tech evangelism, high in carbohydrates but light on fiber, leaving me well short of a colonic. Someone should remind Guy that it's not a revolution until blood runs in the streets. Fortunately, Marc Andreessen was there to save the day.
Wisconsin Cheesehead that he is, the Midwest Mozilla decided to follow Guy with a little self-deprecating humor of his own. "Good morning, my name is Marc. I try hard to shit like an elephant," he deadpanned. "I don't succeed every day, but sometimes I do."
Microsoft was spreading product around earlier this week that was better used to line the bottom of a bird cage. In a press tour to show off Windows 98, the software giant left behind a CD with the almost-ready "release candidate" version. Two days later, a sheepish Redmondite--the one who sweeps up after the elephant--called to tell my Skintelligent agent not to load the beta software. Apparently, the CD was causing journalists' systems to crash upon installation. Microsoft blamed the problem on the process of burning the operating system onto the CD and is issuing a new disc next week.
Here's a strange twist: A security consulting firm is giving away the source code to encryption software libraries with the government's blessing. Under contract with the Defense Department, J.G. Van Dyke & Associates near D.C. is distributing the source code of its S/MIME 3 security protocol reference implementation, which allows a software program to use encryption. The implementation doesn't actually have a crypto "engine" in it--the software that actually scrambles data and hides it from prying eyes--so Van Dyke can spread it around with impunity. In fact, that's what the DoD wants, the S/MIME project's lead engineer told one Skinterviewer: "They're paying us by the hour to generate this software and encourage people to use S/MIME 3."
That way, the protocol--used to transfer encrypted email, Web content, and other document data over networks--gets into off-the-shelf applications that would then "meet DoD requirements," the engineer said. Sounds conspiratorial, but he claims that simply using S/MIME 3 products won't force you to use key recovery, which the FBI and others would love to mandate in order to "wiretap" people's email.
Speaking of conspiratorial, one wild-eyed reader had this theory to explain what those 3,000 Intel layoffs really meant:
"Could this not be a 'PR' story to shift the focus off a production problem of the Pentium II chips? Maybe to increase demand for a product that is not meeting expectations in sales?"
Nothing like a few thousand pink slips to spur positive headlines and boost chip sales, not to mention company morale! When my system is working, I can produce columns the way Intel pumps out chips. But I can't keep regular without roughage and crunchy rumors. Do my colon (and semicolons) a favor: Send me a tip today.