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Culture

Dr. Gil has cure for the Wintel monopoly

I cut a deal with my son this weekend: if he cleaned up his bedroom, I'd clean up my email box.

I cut a deal with my son this weekend: if he cleaned up his bedroom, I'd clean up my email box. The first to finish buys the other a cheeseburger. Simply put, his room and my mailbox were both sties. Electronic slovenliness is infinitely worse than physical slovenliness, even though it doesn't stink. You can ignore it longer. Vermel definitely got the better end of the deal as I ended up picking up the burger tab.

Unfortunately, the burger made me ill, which is how my spies at the Gartner Group conference in Orlando, Florida, last week were feeling after nauseating spins on Disney World death rides and gobs of cotton candy. My emissaries did spend a minute or two on the floors of the conference though. Depending on your sense of humor, Gil Amelio either took home Honorable Mention for Best Joke by a CEO or the John Foster Dulles Award for Most Atomic Business Strategy.

Asked how a company today could stop the Wintel juggernaut from world domination, Doc Amelio suggested nuclear action might do the trick. I knew times were desperate in Cupertino, but let's at least stick to conventional warfare, boys.

Some of O'Reilly and Associates WebSite users wouldn't mind lobbing a few nukes at the company about now. O'Reilly's WebSite mailing list is ablaze with furious users, ticked off about changes the company made to its technical support policy last week.

Previously, O'Reilly had offered 90 days of no-cost tech support (beginning after the first call, not registration) for users of its Web server, but decided to end the deal this month. Fair enough, but even users who've already purchased WebSite are losing their 90 days of support. O'Reilly is trying to appease current users with a support "grace period" that extends until November 15. Still, WebSite users are crying foul and demanding refunds.

Last February, users of a nearly forgotten Microsoft product, code-named Blackbird, cried foul when the Redmondians pulled the plug on the tool. The company has said that it would re-release Blackbird as a born-again Web design tool called Internet Studio, and I hear that may finally happen this month. Expect to see beta code later this month around the time of Microsoft's SiteBuilder Conference. Expect to see me eating nothing but fresh vegetables from now. No more meat; it's too hard to digest. Although I bet I can devour as many of your rumors as you send me though.