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Culture

Intel pumps up the volume

There was lots of grumbling to be heard at the Intel Developers' Conference last week, where guests were subjected to Yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

There was lots of grumbling to be heard at the Intel Developers' Conference last week, where guests were subjected to Yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Quel horreur! This retrograde lapse in musical taste could only have helped foment revolutionary sentiments in the increasingly nervous graphics chip sector.

Under the din, much cocktail banter could be heard trying to drum up testimonial contributions for the FTC's multiple antitrust investigations. But if S3 wants to get serious about evidence gathering, it should hire a professional. Maybe they can get Kenneth Starr to do some moonlighting.

In other news from outside of the Microsoft-Intel empire, Apple, in a move straight out of the HRC playbook, is going after the Internet to plug its leaks. But while the first lady is suggesting that we "rethink" the Internet, the perhaps-no-longer-beleaguered computer maker is content to threaten legal action. MacInTouch informed its readers that three Power Mac G3 models were due for price cuts February 28, and it was rewarded with this little love note from the Cupertino legal department. Seems a little heavy-handed to moi. Anyone think different?

Legal remedies are continually proposed for spam but spamiopaths will find a way to get at us from solitary. As one of my colleagues recently reported, Computer Associates suffered involuntary spamming spasms as the names on one of its customer distribution lists were circulated numerous times, not only among list members but also somewhere off in Australia. More spam went out in the form of an emotionally worded reply: "It is with the deepest sincerity that we apologize...[for] an unintentional, yet inexcusable mistake. Our intentions were never, and are not now, to bombard you with unsolicited emails...Rest assured that this mistake has been dealt with in a manner that ensures your future privacy, and we hope that you can accept this apology."

Given a moment to wipe my tears away, I, for one, could accept such an appeal. But what followed is truly unforgivable. In dealing with the mistake in a manner so it could never happen again, the company must have executed the wrong guy. Next day, recipients found themselves bombarded with three copies of the apology. Will the company send an apology for the apology? Is Spamford Wallace on a secret payroll? Will he collaborate with CA and Kenneth Starr and spam Hillary Clinton with subpoenas?

Some of my favorite rumors are the very stupidest. They reassure me that innocence, however idiotic, has survived the dawn of the Information Age. Read the following letter and then take a test, gratis, of your own intelligence:

"Hello Everyone, And thank you for signing up for my Beta Email Tracking Application or (BETA) for short. My name is Bill Gates. Here at Microsoft we have just compiled an email-tracing program that tracks everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. It does this through an unique IP (Internet Protocol) address log book database. We are experimenting with this and need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on the list, you will receive $1,000 and a copy of Windows98 at my expense.

"Your friend,
"Bill Gates & the Microsoft Development Team"

Now that you've read the letter, try to answer the following question: Who wrote it?

a) Your friends Bill Gates & the Microsoft Development Team
b) The tooth fairy
c) Sanford Wallace
d) Scott McNealy
e) Vermel DuBaud

If you guessed Bill Gates & the Microsoft Development Team, it's time to cancel your Internet account and all your credit cards, then consider checking into a skepticism restoration program at your local mental health center or moving to New York City for a couple of years. If you guessed any of the others, you're doing OK.

Another stupid rumor, this one granted everlasting life by email, needs to be rethought. Here's the rumor: CNN set up a toll-free phone line at 1-800-TALK-CNN but inadvertently advertised it as 1-800-CNN-TALK. The severity of this alleged mistake may be verified by adults 18 years and older by calling the second number. But the truth of the story is that CNN never advertised the number, and it did try to buy it away from MCI to no avail. Poor CNN, stuck with its name on a dirty phone line. But in that respect, it's no worse off than "www.nytims.com."

Sometime last fall, an intrepid reporter here at NEWS.COM phoned up the thrifty marketing folks over at CitySearch, who had done a remarkable job of vandalizing the sidewalks of San Francisco with stencilled graffiti (cheaper than banner ads!) promoting its Web site. CitySearch vehemently assured NEWS.COM that the liquid-chalk graffiti was temporary and SFPD-approved, and that Mother Nature would clean up after the local guide in no time. Meanwhile, whole towns have washed into roaring rivers here in soggy California while the graffiti remain, however badly smudged. Send me your rumors, but send Starbucks back up to Seattle.