'

News Schmooze: Pac-Man Linux gobbles Microsoft

Gates reverted to video-game metaphors, techies revolted, and the truth about the e-commerce minister...

The Linux operating system may pose many problems for competitors such as Microsoft, but it hadn't occurred to the Schmoozer that one of them was the GPL's resemblance to Pac-Man. Thanks to Bill Gates for bringing this one to our attention. It is, we assume, supposed to be a terrifying metaphor about how the GPL is set to take over the software industry, but we can't help picturing Gates, Ballmer and their cronies as Inky, Pinky and the other multicoloured ghosts.

Incidentally this has to be one of the few Linux disputes that has also raised a heated debate amongst the retro gaming crowd.

Speaking of retro gaming, it has apparently lost none of its appeal since the mid-1980s, with a software vendor using Atari classics as a selling point for new phones. I-Mode phones have been offering games like Pac-Man for a while, of course, and it hasn't hurt -- i-mode now says it has racked up 24.6 million users.

What the Schmoozer would like to know though, is do those fancy i-mode phones include a backlight? Because, like, if they don't, then maybe somebody should launch a massive international protest movement, the way Adam Curtis has done around the Game Boy Advance. I mean, how do honestly they expect us to pay $100 for this piece of advanced technology and not have a lightbulb included? What do they think we are, dot-com millionaires?

Just don't try complaining to the Consumer Association about it since, judging by recent events, there's a good chance you could find your credit card number distributed to millions of anonymous Internet users.

If you can't trust the publishers of Which?, you'd think you could at least turn to Douglas Alexander, the e-commerce minister, but he might have other things on his mind. It seems that he's responsible for a bunch of other things too, like Textiles, the Radio Authority, the Post Office and, a new one to us, jewellery.

AOL and Microsoft might be a long-term rivalry, or even AMD and Intel, or IBM and HP, but not Israel vs. Palestine, which has only been going on for a few thousand years. That's the world according to Intel's Craig Barrett, at least, who said he wasn't bothered by the Israel-Palestine issue in putting money into the region: "This is a long-term investment, we don't get bothered by short-term issues," he said.

Continuing in the "did I say that?" vein, we must turn to the German Web master who cheekily offered Madonna tickets in exchange for sex, and was instantly bombarded with all kinds of offers. "Some applicants had sent in detailed descriptions of what they planned to do if picked while others sent in pictures of various body parts. Obscene pictures were tossed out straight away," he said. Shocking!

The Schmoozer has always been a bit sceptical about the interplanetary Internet idea, since, as far as we know, there is nobody we want to get email from on Mars. Vint Cerf reassures us, however, that Internet Protocol "should work perfectly well on the surface of other planets or satellites, or even space vehicles that are out there in the solar system", and they've even made a start on the infrastructure with this week's Internet satellite launch. But more surprising must be Cerf's revelation that Einstein thought the strongest force in the universe to be compound interest... which sort of puts the whole dot-com implosion into perspective.

The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet news forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.