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Notes from the field: Bobby's thinking about freedom of speech

Notes from the field: Bobby's thinking about freedom of speech

I took Rose to a wild rooftop party last week. Rose had a fabulous time, although I had to stop her from throwing the finger food at the passers-by below. It's a problem of my own creating, of course - since she's become a regular feature in my column, she's taken on the responsibility of doing something outrageous each week to give me something to write about.

Not that the high-tech industry is ever short of gossip. For example, rumours are flying around that Microsoft is doing its own bit to invalidate the First Amendment, by trying to prevent Amazon.com from stocking anti-Microsoft titles.

To make us more worried, the rumours say that Amazon.com is caving under the pressure - in some cases not stocking the titles, and in others just making them incredibly difficult to locate. I intend to submit my new book - Microsoft is crap and Bill Gates is a jerk - to see what reaction I get. If it doesn't make the Amazon.com front page straight away, I intend to refer the matter to the Department of Justice.

To be honest, though, I'm not sure I believe these rumours, just because it would be so easy to catch Microsoft in the act. But then, everyone wants to believe the worst about Microsoft.

For that reason, I'm sure that many people will read something sinister into the following tip, which I received from a reader this week.

It concerns the Extensible Markup Language (XML) - which is usually heralded as the answer to every industry woe imaginable - so it was a shock to find it causing problems. Apparently, in the final version of Internet Explorer 5, a file called msxml.dll enables the browser to support XML. Unfortunately, however, the DLL conflicts with Lernout & Hauspie's Voice Xpress speech recognition product.

Of course, Microsoft is a big fan of L&H, and has an investment in the company, so I'm sure it would not do anything to harm L&H's commercial chances. But the fact that MS also has its own speech lab, independent of its L&H relationship, may cause some to speculate otherwise.

Well, I've just received an invitation in the mail to The Industry Standard's first anniversary rooftop drinks party. The funny thing is, someone's written in black marker across the front: "Admit one only - no guest."


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