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Busting rhymes at Internet World with Beck

The news at Internet World was so dead last week that I hopped in my rental, bought a map to the stars' homes, and cruised through the Hollywood Hills snooping for celebrities.

CITY OF ANGELS--The news at Internet World was so dead last week that I hopped in my rental, bought a map to the stars' homes, and cruised through the Hollywood Hills snooping for celebrities. Alas, I never got to see Demi or Quentin, though I'm reasonably sure I got chased by Madonna's rottweiler. Later, I cooled off on Rodeo Drive with an $8 bottle of mineral water that gave me gas.

At least the Internet World parties had more pizzazz than the show did. The hottest ticket in town was Macromedia's bash near the Hollywood Bowl featuring Grammy-winner and hot-musician-of-the-moment Beck. The auditorium was packed, forcing the doormen to fend of an anxious queue of partygoers and endure empty threats ("Bud Colligan is going to be pissed when he hears you didn't let me in!") from nerds in T-shirts and sport coats.

Inside, Beck spazzed his way through a solid set of funky white-boy music while the audience temporarily forgot it was at a trade show party and went nuts. Marketing managers did the pogo, a programmer was tossed above people's heads, then dropped, and the pungent scent of marijuana ("Satan's vegetable," Grandma DuBaud calls it) spiced the hall.

Feeling a bit frisky, I shuffled over to the Hollywood Palace for the Intel/Oz Interactive rave. The techno music was so loud it made my kidneys ache, but others didn't seem to mind. One Oz programmer was overheard declaring, "By day, we code VRML. By night, we dance!"

By day, I stomped the trade show floor sleuthing for gossip. Unfortunately, most of my sources were put off by my poor hygiene and weren't talking to me. (Who knew that two T-shirts wouldn't be enough for the entire week?)

I wasn't the only one spying at Internet World. Several Microsoft spooks dropped in on a Netscape press conference to eavesdrop on Marc Andreessen. Andreessen was waxing technical on Netscape's next generation of "extranet" and "crossware" products. Can anybody guess what the next two words out of Microsoft's marketing megaphone will be?

And while we're on the subject of neologisms, Netscape's inventiveness with language is starting to outpace its technological creativity. "Extranet" is tolerable, but why must Netscape burden buzzword-weary customers with yet another meaningless expression like "crossware"? Maybe it's so the company can commission a study from IDC or another market researcher proclaiming Netscape to be the undisputed crossware champion. It remains to be seen how well Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange will fare against Netscape's home-brewed definition of crossware.

After a week in La-La Land, I was happy to return to the Rumor Mill in-box. Several users wrote in over the weekend to say that a Microsoft FTP site containing the next version of Windows--code-named Memphis--unexpectedly went public for a few hours. Normally, the site requires a password and a strict nondisclosure agreement from users. Word quickly spread throughout various Internet Relay Chat channels that the site was open, and people jammed the site until Microsoft shut it down Saturday afternoon.

The conspiracy theorist in me believes this was a covert attempt by Microsoft to seed more of the market with Windows 97 without having to provide technical support for the rascals who downloaded the software. On the other hand, maybe Microsoft doesn't know how to set up an FTP server. I learned my FTPs right after I learned my ABCs. Do you know the basics of good gossip mongering? Let me be the judge. Email me some juicy tips.