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MSN Jumps while VP tech chump stumps

I knew it was spring this morning when I arrived at work in a hail of hailstones.

"Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants."

--Dorothy Parker, as quoted in the Netcenter newsletter

I knew it was spring this morning when I arrived at work in a hail of hailstones. Now the clouds have parted and the sun is shining on Alcatraz and doing its best to penetrate the black-out curtains of the good and hung-over people at When.com, who spent last night at une petite Mission District fête celebrating their acquisition by America Online.

Ah, that sweet sensation of selling out in Silicon Valley, of exchanging Monopoly money for AOL stock! A relatively reliable rumor has it that anonymously sourced reports of When.com's $150 million purchase price were off--low--by nearly $100 million. That's a lot of clams, even around here, and all the more reason for When.comrades to be whooping it up last night.

The other rumor penciled into my book is that Microsoft is trying to schedule a calendaring acquisition announcement in the next week or so. Redmond hasn't made any secret about its desire to add calendaring to its MSN offerings, but now it looks like they're finally jumping on the bandwagon, courting Jump Networks of Mountain View, California, land of the acquirable.

Employees of Jump.com were seen hopping around the Redmond campus, say Skinformants there. And spies closer to home say their purchase price is rumored to be in the pathetic low 8 figures. Well, you know what they say, the first $20 million is always the hardest.

Because we're a responsible rumor mill, we hit up Microsoft and Jump Networks for comment. MSN doesn't comment on rumors, they reminded us for the 20 millionth time, and Jump CEO Bill Trenchard was only a little more forthcoming:

"There's a lot of interest in this space," he told a CNET News.com reporter. "There's a lot of activity, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment."

Speaking of inappropriate comments, we've been getting a lot of mail these days about VP Al Gore's claim that he helped invent the Internet and more recently about his declaring his campaign Web site an "open source" effort. Slashdot.org has a voluminous thread up on this, the most salient point of which is as follows:

"Gore tries to present himself as the technology candidate ready to lead us into the 21st century. What you should realize is that the only thing technological about Al Gore is the fact that he is a robot."

The tech world should be careful about throwing stones when it comes to emotive robotics. Netscape partisans were shocked--and outraged--when they found a Microsoft BackOffice proxy server tutori al that showed how to keep users from accessing certain Web sites. The example given? "www.netscape.com"--until the humorless heat got to be too much.

"We changed it last night because it was creating unintended controversy," said a Microsoft flak, who noted the page had been up since 1997. Microsoft changed it to "denysite.com," an odd choice since "example.com" is the NSI-approved choice for examples. "Denysite.com" is available as of this writing, for all you domain squatters and speculators out there with $75 to burn.

We at the Rumor Mill have been loath to give 3Com's Palm Computing any free publicity over their obnoxious new ads, the ones with the naked ladies, and so have steered clear of the parody industry that has sprung up around them. But the new Annoy.com postcard circulating is so dirty that we've decided to give that loathsome organization some play.

It's too dirty to link to, so you porno-parody lovers are on your own. But I can't understand why 3Com is so upset about it that they won't talk. They say they won't comment on "pending legal matters," but they had a whole lot to say earlier in the week when the parodies were a little more vanilla. Their reasoning on this is Greek to me. Every week, back comes my deadline, with nasty little gossips yapping their fool heads off and the wires all mucked up with your rumors.