Notes from the Field: Gates on the fence, Nokia makes scents

Notes from the Field: Gates on the fence, Nokia makes scents

An earthquake shook Redmond last week, Bill Gates announced plans to scale back his day-to-day duties at Microsoft starting in July 2008. Gates said he was leaving so he could spend more time with his money -- I mean, his charitable foundation. However, the company has so far refused to establish a timetable for Ballmer's withdrawal, saying that such a move would merely encourage open source terrorists. I must admit I'll miss having Sir Bill to kick around.

Cell Phone Meets Smell Phone: If you think your cell service stinks now, just wait. Nokia recently showed off a mobile prototype that lets you wirelessly waft a scent to another phone. The Scentsory phone sends a signal to a fragrance emitter inside the recipient's handset, which produces the desired aroma. I foresee a big business in downloadable smelltones: New Car, Gym Bag, Young Love, and Old Fart.

In Pod We Trust: The rumour mill is churning with news that Microsoft is developing an iPod Killer, as well as an iTunes-like download service. I understand Microsoft plans to provide a streamlined user experience. You'll only have to click through 17 screens, confirm all your selections six times, and have your hard drive scanned for pirated music before you can buy a song.

Broken Record: RIAA honcho, Mitch Bainwol, has declared that, despite evidence to the contrary, file-swapping is in its last throes. (Also: peace is at hand, mission accomplished, and he did not have business relations with that BitTorrent search firm.) The reason? Legal music download services -- you know, like the ones the record industry has fought for years -- are thriving. No word on whether Bainwol is secretly angling for a job as FEMA spokesbot.

Disco Dell Last week's item on Dell's missing OS discs contained a small error. The Round Rock renegades claim if your Dimension or Inspiron is hosed and you can't restore the OS from the files on the hard drive, they'll overnight you the discs for free. (Otherwise, it'll take a week and cost you a 10-spot.) Glad we got that settled.

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