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Culture

Fast talkers and video game stalkers

I think some of my readers have been on downers.

    Romantic rejection is an ugly fact of life, especially if you have a passion for MOOs, MUDS, and other geek artifacts. Last week, Vermel finally mustered the courage to ask a girl to be his Valentine. Alas, the girl--a comely 14-year-old named Ammonia Blossom--frightened poor Vermel off with a Medusan stare before he ever got a chance to open his mouth. Heartbroken and delirious from the teen crush, the kid spent nearly 50 hours online last weekend, pretending alternately to be a postdoctoral candidate in philosophy and a weight lifter in various chat rooms. I'm afraid the kid has lost all faith in himself.

    Has Motorola lost faith in itself? Moles inside the company tell me that the company's semiconductor products division, the unit that makes the PowerPC chip, has decided to standardize on Windows NT running on Intel hardware. Weren't they getting a good enough deal on Macintoshes or did they get ants in their pants waiting for Rhapsody to materialize?

    In Cupertino, California, there's a different kind of anxiety. Rumors are flying at Apple that contractors are going to represent a hefty chunk of the layoffs expected to strike the company. Apple's interactive media group, which relies heavily on contractors, may be especially hard hit if the rumors are true. One IMG project, Quicktime TV, has already been relieved of 25 percent of its budget, according to sources.

    Speaking of layoffs, I hear that Virgin Interactive Entertainment's parent company, Viacom, is about to shake up the flailing video gamemaker. Apparently, Sumner Redstone and company are furious over a series of high-profile game flops, including Toonstruck. One title, Heart of Darkness, was four years in development until the programmer finally went AWOL.

    While we're on the subject of interactive media, Progressive Networks is hosting a developer conference in San Francisco in early March, at which Marc Andreessen and Progressive CEO Rob Glaser will be speaking. One Rumor Mill reader points out that Glaser and Andreessen have one thing in common: they are the two fastest motor mouths in the high-tech industry today. Maybe somebody should slip these guys a doggie downer in the green room prior to showtime so the audience can understand them. Does RealAudio let you slow down a recording?

    I think some of my readers have been on downers. I've been bombarded with email about how the FCC is accepting comments on a proposal to levy new charges on Internet service providers. Apparently a large numbers reader thought the proposal was a hoax, even though NEWS.COM has been covering this issue for over a week. Get the latest skinny on in news. You can email me the latest skinny and win my eternal gratitude along with some attitude. Do it now.