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Culture

The Time Warner bird beeps, but it doesn't fly

If there was a day when one could drink a steaming hot cup of coffee and read the paper in peace, my corner cafe has forgotten it. While the rest of my day bounces along to the steady tempo of key strokes and mouse clicks, I'd come to think of my local coffee shop as the last refuge from technology. Forget it.

    If there was a day when one could drink a steaming hot cup of coffee and read the paper in peace, my corner cafe has forgotten it. While the rest of my day bounces along to the steady tempo of key strokes and mouse clicks, I'd come to think of my local coffee shop as the last refuge from technology. Forget it.

    At my neighborhood java joint, it's considered unfashionable to read unless you're staring at an active matrix screen or reconfiguring your TCP/IP stack between bites of danish. Smudged editions of the Journal are out, and Metricom modems and dual-battery bays are in. Give me the simple life, at least until after I get my caffeine fix.

    Unless I have a shot of joe, you can barely get a pulse out of me. Time Warner's Road Runner cable Net access service could also use a shot of espresso or maybe a jolt from a pair of defribulators. Road Runner users say that access speeds for the service were initially faster than a hummingbird in heat, but that they have slowed to as low as 14 kilobaud in recent weeks. Of course, this violates DuBaud's second rule: Low baud is bad baud.

    Furthermore, some Road Runner users say that technical support for the service stinks. Maybe cable was meant to carry old reruns of the Dukes of Hazard and VH1 videos, not the bits and bytes of Web sites. Where's the remote?

    At next week's Macworld conference, Qualcomm will be at home watching the tube instead of working the show floor. The makers of Eudora are a "bit fried" from the assault of Internet trade shows last year and decided to forgo a trip to San Francisco. But they still really love the Mac. Honest.

    Speaking of the Mac, I hear that a particularly disturbing computer metaphor has found its way into the vocabularies of Apple marketing managers. At meetings, people have been heard to say "I'd like to double click on that issue" and then proceed with a detailed explanation of some topic. That's almost as bad, as "drilling down" or continuing a conversation "offline." Someone call the authorities. What's William Safire's email address?

    Hey, team. Let's double click on another issue: my spies tell me that CyberMedia's First Aid 97 product, the Lysol of Windows 95, causes Internet Explorer 3.01 to crash every time it loads a Java applet. The fix is simple: uninstall First Aid 97, and you'll be cooking with gas again. I crash without java. What are you addicted to? Email me with your weaknesses and rumors.