NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Microsoft spreads joy, Cisco a hacker's toy

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Microsoft spreads joy, Cisco a hacker's toy

When I broke off a budding relationship because she voted for the wrong guy, some of the Cringe faithful were appalled that I'd let politics get in the way of my, umm, pursuit of happiness. They called me elitist, obnoxious and shallow. You'd think I'd dumped them instead of her. Jeez guys, I never knew you cared.

Bah Humbug: Just in time for the holidays, Microsoft and Intel are unwrapping a multimillion-dollar Digital Joy ad campaign to spread glad tidings about Windows Media Center PCs. These beasts let you control your home-entertainment gear from one oh-so-reliable Windows interface. And on December 26, when the picture freezes and you have to reboot your TV in the middle of Trading Spouses, you can blame the sugarplum fairies.

The Source Code Club for Men: For the second time this year, proprietary Cisco code has been made available for sale on the Net. For just $US24,000, a group of hackers calling themselves the Source Code Club will sell you code for Cisco's PIX 6.3.1 Firewall. Rumour has it, for another $US24 you can buy pictures of Cisco CEO, John Chambers, bursting a blood vessel.

Like William Safire for Geeks: Numerous readers wrote to say it was perfectly acceptable for InfoWorld to use "sceptic" (not "skeptic") in a recent headline. Yes, "sceptic" is how they spell it in the UK (and at IDG!) - just like "colour", "analyse," and "programme" - but that's not how we do things here in 'Murka.

Meanwhile, two Brit Cringesters were amused by my preference for "e-voting septics". That's because "septic" is short for "septic tank," which in Cockney rhyming slang stands for "yank" (kind of like "trouble and strife" equals "wife").

Hey, don't blame me, blame Tony Blair.

If These Pills Could Talk: Wizzard Software has announced Rex, the Talking Pill Bottle. Press a button on the bottle, and built-in text-to-speech software reads back the instructions on the label. It's aimed mainly at patients who are illiterate or have vision problems.

If it's successful, I understand the company may come out with a similar product: Uri, the Talking Specimen Jar.

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