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News Schmooze: WorldCom or WorldCon?

Another major accounting scandal was revealed, KPNQwest still refused to die, and executives took their work home with them

Now, no one could have seen this coming -- a major technology company, driven by its stock price growth in the dot-com era, revealing an "aggressive accounting" scandal of nearly $4bn (roughly £3bn). It's WorldCom this time, but the indications are that, with Enron-style accounting practices rife in corporate America, the company won't be the last. More jobs will go in the short term, but in the bigger picture, the business community will have to figure out whether the dazzling success of the late 1990s wasn't just a house of cards.
WorldCom shaken by missing $4bn In other cheerful telecoms news, the KPNQwest saga continued this week with AT&T mooting an offer to buy the entire network -- which carries a quarter of Europe's IP traffic -- and then pulling out at the last minute. With KPNQwest backer Qwest Communications under financial investigation, perhaps AT&T thought KPNQwest looked like a poisoned chalice.
KPNQwest set for break-up as AT&T pulls out You've heard of the refrigerator mountain, now here's the iMac mountain. Reports are that the clever machines are being stacked sky-high in retailers and distributors around the US, while the buyers go off in search of a tan. Unlike a laptop, the desk-lamp-like iMac can't be conveniently carried off on holiday... maybe that's why laptop sales are still growing.
Flat-screen iMacs starting to pile up The boom in laptops and other mobile gadgets may not have ended world hunger, but it has had one noticeable effect: most executives now continue working when on holiday. Why not, when all it takes to get connected to the company LAN is a couple of taps on your shiny new handheld computer? Psychologist Alan Cohen is one of the critics of this way of spending one's leisure time, arguing it leads to burnout and general misery. This cheerful chap's new book is called Why Your Life Sucks.
Gadgets keep execs working on holiday Intel and Microsoft had a bit of a public-relations situation on their hands this week with the introduction of new Pocket PCs running on Intel's XScale chip architecture. Intel, a company that has always emphasised the seductiveness of high clock speeds, found itself saying that users shouldn't attach too much importance to the 400MHz speed of its PXA250, which is nearly double the rate of the earlier StrongARM chip, but which delivers practically no speed imporvement. The new frontier, it seems, is power management.
XScale-Pocket PC marriage lacks oomph Lindows.com also seems to be trying to puncture high hopes for its LindowsOS software, before they get out of hand. When it was announced last year, the operating system's claim to fame was that it would run important Windows software, on a cheap Linux operating system. Nowadays, though, it's emphasising how easy it is to download and install LindowsOS applications, with nary a mention of Windows to be seen. It is, we are told, "the first broadband OS", which might turn out to be a problem for the majority of us who are still tethered to the phone line.
LindowsOS licences herald cheaper PCs It looks pretty nifty at first glance -- a crystal-ball shaped display that projects 3D colour images into real space before your eyes. The Perspecta display from a US start-up lets you walk around the image and see every detail up close. But there's something distinctly retro about Perspecta. Maybe it's the Robbie the Robot 1950s design, or the fact that the concept dates from the 1960s, or the presence of a spinning screen in the middle of the sphere. The company's first customer is the US military, but one thinks Dr Evil might also be interested.
Start-up gazes into crystal ball for 3D display Reports of a surge of interest in the controversial artificial insemination Web site for lesbians, Mannotincluded.com, were not altogether a surprise, as they followed a storming publicity campaign by conservative critics earlier this week. The critics' efforts have backfired, however, and the site reported a climactic response as the surfers just kept coming. The proprietors insisted this has never happened before
Man Not Included The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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