Notes from the Field: Gates wants to play host, AOL may soon be toast

Notes from the Field: Gates wants to play host, AOL may soon be toast

Bill Gates may soon be joining Leona Helmsley and Donald Trump among the world's elite hoteliers. Sir Bill's investment group is part of a consortium bidding to take over the Four Seasons Hotel chain. One can only imagine what may happen if the bid is successful. At the new 'Four Seasons Live', room service will be available for just $US35 per call, though all food deliveries will be routed through Bangalore. To combat rampant towel piracy, guests will be required to validate room keys within 15 minutes of checking in or get locked out; the toilets will ask three times if you're really sure you want to flush. Welcome to Hotel Microsoft: You can reboot any time you like, but you can never leave.

No place like ... AOL?: A Cringe fan who asked to remain nameless brought home his new Presario laptop and launched IE, only to find his home page was permanently stuck on a Compaq branded version of Each time he changed it, the page reverted back. Sixty days later, or right after the AOL promotion expired, he got his home page back. Lovely. That's one way to hang onto your dwindling customer base.

Internot Explorers: Add SonicWall firewall appliances,, QuickBooks 2004, and eBay to the list of things that don't go well with Internet Explorer 7. Various Cringesters report that each company has warned them off using IE7. eBay claims its site has problems with only the IE7 beta, but frequent Cringe correspondent, Ron E, begs to differ - and he gets plenty of backup on eBay's user forums. Do you suppose Microsoft tested IE7 with third-party apps before it launched its "ready or not, here it comes" upgrade? Me neither.

Pamela folding: Pam Anderson's online gambling site,, is shutting down, apparently a victim of recent anti-gambling legislation passed by Congress. Instead of the unsinkable Pam, visitors to the site are greeted by craggy cardsharp Doyle Brunson. More proof that sometimes you lose no matter how good a pair you're holding.

Got hot tips or busted flushes? Send them to and you may get a bag for holding your winnings.

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