Northern California's recent cool snap forced me to dig out my heavy coat just when I thought summer was around the corner.

Of course Randi thinks I'm losing the plot again, trudging the streets of Silicon Valley with head down, sunglasses on, collar up and hat firmly wedged against the winds.

But it's not the onset of madness. I've rediscovered the passion of intrigue, gossip and true lies. I'll even entertain conspiracy theories. The US-China spy-plane incident has awakened my senses. The boys and girls might be coming home, but what about the plane? Are our secrets safe?

We're thinking . . .

One of my spies reports a curious anomaly at Randi's favourite software house in Redmond, Washington. (She's now decided geeks are cute.) The company is in the thick of developing a tablet PC, and one prototype carried the words Think With Ink on its surface. My spy was amused to remember many years ago IBM plastered its campus with the word think. When it comes to inspiration, why reinvent the wheel?

Speaking of software and things original, Windows Me is causing havoc for another spy still battling the April 1 daylight-saving change. Sure, the OS remembered the deadline and set the clock an hour ahead, but it's been doing it every day since. This might be no programming accident!


Meanwhile more disgruntled Red Sky employees, still confused by what this company actually does, have vented their spleens online regarding another round of layoffs. Yours truly has learned that Red Sky last week closed its Los Angeles creative office and a "substantial portion" of its California office.

The cost cutting also removed a number of vice president-level roles. An internal memo from the CEO blames economic conditions and the need to achieve profitability as the driver of these moves.

Most employees, angry at first learning of the layoff news from a chat board, beg to differ.

It's a plague!

Talking of conspiracy theories, e-mail newsletter readers reported the URL for the letter from Microsoft's Steve Murchie was wrong again! You can't help but recall that this is all about Microsoft's insistence on approving benchmarks - and working with test labs - before test results are published.

This time the URL is right, I promise. Try, http://www.infoworld. com/articles/op/xml/01/03/26/

"You'd better be more careful in the future," Randi warned when I came home shivering with cold and complaining bitterly. "I don't understand what's going on with you," she continued.

"Don't worry; I'm just going undercover for a while," I reassured her. "There are more secrets out there than you realise." Got some antipodean gossip? Send it on to

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