No messages, no calls, no nothing. Life as a bachelor is a lonely experience. Randi's still on her spontaneous vacation to Australia with a "friend" - I'm still not sure if she's met another guy. Oh well, at least my local video store is open late. Maybe I should take up a new hobby, or just bury myself in work again.

Rumours central

Okay, so the AOL/Lucent merger rumours seem to have fizzled, but another spy has a different twist. Rumours suggest IBM is negotiating to acquire the consulting wing of Lucent Worldwide Service (LWS). The rumblings come after LWS recently laid off a bunch of consultants.

And there are more lay offs to come. Dell is shaping up for another swipe at its workforce after ejecting close to 2000 in February. Michael Dell might have promised that was enough, but my sources claim that in a few weeks Dell won't make its first-quarter revised numbers and the queue out the door will get a bit longer.

Microsoft, schmicrosoft

I just can't escape a single week without a Redmond reference. A brother in arms is having problems with his Windows Me machine. Microsoft, in its ultimate wisdom, has embedded code in the OS to make it impossible to make duplicates. After first burning a bunch of coasters, my spy reloaded Windows 98 and made the backup copy. There's a free tip for the anti-licensing lobby.

Another spy wrote in to rake Windows Me over the coals for its excruciatingly slow operating speed and difficulties connecting peripherals such as scanners.

I say users should stick with Windows 95 as long as possible, or else think about making the move to Linux for some serious reliability.

"Is anyone buying Me, other than

as preloaded software on new machines?" my spy wrote. That's a very good question.

Emotional support

My thanks to all of you who observed my error recently when I "incorrectly" described moving from NetWare 5.1 to Windows 2000 as an "upgrade" ([ARN, May 2, page 38). One reader wrote: "It seems the more iterations of Windows that Microsoft releases, the more incompatibilities occur." Yes, well, I don't know what came over me. Maybe it was a sympathy vote. With Randi gone, I'm getting sentimental all of a sudden.

And speaking of emotions, I received a mixed bunch of mail both for and against search engines. Google has as many supporters as enemies, whereas Alta Vista has mostly enemies.

But, of course, it's relationship advice I need now. "I'm worried about you and Randi," wrote one friend. "Although you are obviously incompatible TV viewers, you seem generally to be so good for each other."

Perhaps I really should have been more sympathetic to her solar-powered home idea.

What I need is a spy in Australia to do some detective work for me. Super sleuths never give up the chase.

Got some antipodean gossip? Send it on to

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