I love the flicks, but I don't go much these days. Why waste $8.50 when I can experience them vicariously through my own in-house critics?
By the time my 12-year-old son Vermel was through with Charlie's Angels, for example, I had decided that I would pass up watching Hollywood's first foray into the speech-recognition-software/kidnapping/girl-gumshoe genre.
"On top of everything else, the product placement was terrible," carped Vermel, concluding his scathing review.
"The product placement?" I asked.
"These high-tech private eyes were rewiring computers but couldn't even distinguish between handheld platforms," Vermel scoffed. "At one point they stumble upon a Pocket PC--and they call it a PalmPilot! Later they were toting Handspring Visors. Charlie's prop shop needs to get off the bong."
So, was Microsoft miffed by this bit of product displacement?
"Oh, those Angels," sighed one Microsoftie, who assured us the company hadn't shelled out for any product placement in the movie.
"We would have liked for our device to be called by the right name," conceded another, Derek Brown, Microsoft's chief mobility evangelist. "But we're glad the Pocket PC made it onto the big screen on its own merits."
Handspring also denies paying Angels producer Sony/Columbia for placement--in money, anyway.
"We worked with them...and provided them with a few Visors for that movie," a Handspring flack told the Rumor Mill.
Was it frustrating to have the Visors placed, but never mentioned?
"It's just one of those things," our Handspringer said philosophically. "It's like Kleenex. What's the most recognizable brand? Palm. The PalmPilot. They're trying to be hip and up on the times, so that's what they said. It is kind of ironic there wasn't one PalmPilot in there."
Not to mention that Palm officially dropped the "Pilot" moniker about two years ago.
Will someone give Microsoft a break? Not me--or at least not my correspondents. One recently wrote to me explaining how older versions of Internet Explorer can't access Microsoft upgrades on the Web, forcing people to resort to Netscape's browser to get the job done.
"So we're doing some software testing and needed to get in all sorts of different versions of Windows and browsers and so on. Obviously, we had to include Win/NT 4.0, which while it's not a current product is very *very* widely deployed out there. Turns out that NT4 ships with a version of IE so old that you can't access enough of the Microsoft site to get the latest IE or even the service packs you probably want to install. So you have to use the moldy old IE on NT to go to home.netscape.com and get Netscape going. Then you can go to Microsoft and get the latest IE. Then with the latest IE you can get the service packs. Snicker."
Microsoft didn't get back to me on this one. Meanwhile, what folks around here want to know is: Can you get Netscape 6 going?
Back on the PDA front, Salon ate the Queen of Spades in a new-media game of "Hearts" this week when it published a report of its own goof--one that informed AvantGo readers that they were all "sex-starved losers who can't get a blow job." Apparently the one-line missive, delivered to Salon subscribers innocently viewing their tech and culture news via PDA, had been a part of the magazine's roast of a geek-targeted, over-sexed ad in LinuxJournal.
"It's funny, actually. I couldn't have plotted a more absurd sentence to send out on its own," said Andrew Leonard, a Salon writer.
In response to the insult, the online magazine received one reader letter, suggesting that Salon should tone it down, but in no serious terms. After all, the readers who received the note were PDA-toting geeks themselves, "exactly the kind of people who were targeted by the ad in the first place," Leonard said.
Exactly what kind of people are targeted by that other Francophone high-tech rumor columnist? His weekly email newsletter is soliciting rumors with valuable incentives--for people with iron stomachs. Take--please!--the two-for-one coupon at everyone's favorite San Francisco eatery, Venture Frogs! You are what you eat, folks. Do yourself a favor and send your rumors right here.