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Culture

CEOs shuffled, rumors muffled

Running your own Mill means you're constantly striking a particular balance between your sources and your audience, a lot like the balance one has toward a son who wants in on the family kitty.

Running your own Mill means you're constantly striking a particular balance between your sources and your audience, a lot like the balance one has toward a son who wants in on the family kitty. I did feel a bit unbalanced when after coaching Vermel in the art of the cold-call shakedown and source code sifting, he popped me an email that said, "Pop, I want you to buy me out."

High-tech travails can sure hit close to home! Just ask the people who bring you those nifty trade shows, who in continuing the spectacle of their ongoing reorganization may get displaced Softbank Forums prez and CEO Bill Lohse going off to PointCast, currently lacking a corporate head.

As a man named Bob, not Bill, once said: "Steal a little and they'll throw you in jail/Steal a lot and they'll make you king." Yeh, that means Softbank takes care of its honchos. The megacompany came up with a consolation prize for Lohse as the loser in a bruising internal power struggle because, after all, it is a PointCast investor.

So much for making nice. Conspiracy theorists are flooding my mailbox with an unseemly combination of paranoia and jouissance at the following coincidence: hours after posting word that Oracle (or was it the combined hit squad of Umax and Motorola?) was planning a not-very-nice takeover of Apple, the Mac OS Rumors page mysteriously vanished into the ether! It made my Skin crawl to imagine the dark forces at work out there mercilessly squelching the free flow of specious information.

Speaking of specious info, my concern for editorial ethics online is aroused once again on hearing that America Online has decided to sponsor a nationwide contest to scare up a new editor for its newsletter, dubbed "AOL Insider." The online behemoth is looking for, among other things, "commentary on hot topics in the news," but aspiring commentators might want to shop around before staining their resume with that ineffable whiff of PR. An alternate employment possibility (probably pro bono): AOL Watch is promising to compete with the official rag by publishing the work of "true" AOL insiders. Maybe the true insider can explain why AOL keeps getting hit by infinitely circulated emails about monster cookies, chat fees, and other products of hostile imaginations.

Something hostile is also hard at work at The Java Lobby, where a naughty prank is said to be brewing whereby Internet Explorer 4.0 users will find their Net travels interrupted by redirects to anti-Explorer screeds. Certainly there are plenty to choose from by now...

More Net travels: If you want to travel 500 miles with the click of a cookie, CNET can get you there in a Snap. Evidently, folks from Lubbock, Texas (zip code 79401), who sign into the geographically challenged new service are doomed forever to get Snap weather information about Pasadena, Texas (zip 77501), cities roughly as close in proximity as Bangor, Maine, and Newark, New Jersey. Reports of other geographical anomalies are trickling in. Hopefully the Snap crowd will get things mapped out properly before the weather gets much worse. What I really want is a foul-weather friend. Send me a rumor while I renegotiate with el niño of my own.