Many thanks to those of you who wrote in to inquire about my health, and competence, after the column didn't get posted last week, and the week before, and the week before. In fact, I was quite ill. It all started when my son Vermel and I hopped into an old school bus with a handful of News.com colleagues to spend a week frolicking in the Nevada desert at Burning Man. Half the team proved to be naturals in the desert, but I wound up in the medic's tent almost immediately and one of my fellow hacks was close behind. I was quite put out about my illness. When they told me the only way to survive in the desert was to drink constantly, they might have had the decency to specify that it was water we were supposed to be drinking.
I immediately started watering down my whiskey, but my condition did not improve. Ultimately I was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital in Reno, where I spent the rest of the week with an IV in my arm, waiting for the News.com school bus to pick me up. Just as I was leaving the desert, I saw an amazing thing from my stretcher: top Amazonian Jeff Bezos riding by on a camel. Great balls of burning billionaires! Was it a dehydration hallucination? The lovely ladies at Alexa Internet assure me it was not.
Meanwhile, the rumors (along with the threats, insults, and cancelled subscriptions) have been piling up in my in-box. The choicest of these concerns chip giant Intel, which, if our confident Skinformants are to be believed, is finally getting ready to throw off the software shackles long imposed on it by Microsoft. Microsoft has generally taken a dim view of Intel's software efforts, particularly those in the graphics department, and the chip giant testified in the software behemoth's antitrust trial that it scuttled work on graphics-related Native Signal Processing (NSP) technology in the face of Microsoft's threats.
But now that Janet Reno has clipped Microsoft's talons a bit, rumor has it that Intel geeks sequestered at its Hillsboro, Oregon, R&D facility are hard at work on a top-secret plan to introduce an alternative to Microsoft's dominant DirectX technology for 3D computer graphics. Especially interested in this technology are said to be famed Microsoft victim Netscape Communications and its buyer and Microsoft archrival America Online, rumored to want the technology for the Communicator browser.
AOL refused to comment, and Intel flaks flat-out deny the whole thing. But Skinformants, including one briefed by Intel, assure the Rumor Mill there are indeed some graphics APIs cooking in Hillsboro that will cause thunderclouds of discontent to rise over Redmond. Our own speculation is that since AOL is rumored to want them for Communicator, the APIs are an answer to Microsoft's bungled Chromeffects effort to bring advanced computer graphics from the PC to the Web.
Skeptical? Good. But we've been right before.
Speaking of software behemoths, Kevin McKay, chief of German software giant SAP's America division, spoke to News.com yesterday and tried to nip in the bud flowering Wall Street rumors concerning his exit from the company. This rumor even blossomed at SAP's annual user conference in Philadelphia, suggesting that top execs were soon to show McKay, who has run SAP America since last fall, the door.
"It's a done deal," said one financial analyst. "Today or tomorrow. He's out." Another analyst called McKay "Hasso's water boy" and reported tension between the two. Yet another said McKay had trouble closing big deals and "isn't a sales guy." Analysts say the American sales force has been less than thrilled with McKay, who has a background as a financial whiz and CFO, and that the German execs wanted to replace him with one of their own.
Not so, said McKay, who questioned whether an SAP rival was spreading tall tales on Wall Street to "take the wind out of SAP's sails" during the company's big Internet push. Could it be archrival Oracle taking a break from slamming favorite target Siebel? "I'm not going anywhere," McKay said. Asked whether he might head to Siebel, where former SAP America top execs Jeremy Coote, Paul Wahl, and others have landed, McKay quipped: "I can't go over there. There's too many of us going over there already."
Well all right then. What about Oracle? Kidding, kidding--
Speaking of job-hopping, Skinformants tell me San Jose Mercury News business editor Peter Hillen is trying to recruit writers to take over deposed columnist cum Net stock investor Chris Nolan's column while her case is still in arbitration. Our source, glass pressed firmly to door, overheard one flabbergasted journalist decline the generous offer (which was not, by the way, made to us!) in terms best left to the reader's imagination.
Job security is important to all of us. Help me out with mine by sending me some rumors.