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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 11/10/2004 Mun is hard at work in his new Australian life. He's hard at play too -- but if you want the skinny on that, you'll have to ask him yourselves.

Thursday 11/10/2004
Mun is hard at work in his new Australian life. He's hard at play too -- but if you want the skinny on that, you'll have to ask him yourselves. The work side's fun enough -- his brand of passion for reporting has already been mistaken for aggression by the local IT industry fauna, who may be more used to a more relaxed, laid back approach.

Mun's very good at laid back, just not when confronted with Microsoft executives. Like a leopard -- albeit with less fur and slightly browner -- it only takes a small noise in the bush to get his full attention, and he doesn't let up. Reports filter back that the startled antelope beneath the claws today was Steve Vamos, Microsoft Australia's MD, on yet another of these endless security round table discussions. The subject turned to virus bounties, where people are encouraged to finger their hacker friends in exchange for piles of Microsoft gelt. "This is working", said Vamos, "but we can't tell you about it because it's not a positive news story".

The journos present disagreed: "Look at the Sasser writer -- he got caught with a bounty and it was a big news story, very positive," said Mun. "Yeah, well, that was because the TV got hold of it," said Vamos. "That was because you sent out scads of press releases," said Mun, mercifully leaving off the "you plonker". "Errr…" said Vamos and the room erupted in laughter -- and not in a 'laughing with me not at me' way. A PR leapt in and changed the subject, just that little bit too late.

The rest of the day didn't go Microsoft's way either, with Vamos admitting he hadn't used a non-Microsoft browser since 1995 and Cisco saying that they had to use their own security package in conjunction with IE to make it safe. "But Netscape had tabbed browsing back in 1995", said Mun, "and you still haven't got it." "Nobody's brought it up as an issue," said Vamos. "Until now." My informant didn't say whether this was accompanied by a Paddington Bear-brand long, hard, stare, but even if it had it would have made as little impact on Mun as a lager bubble does on a beer mat.

They breed 'em hard in the killing fields of the London press launches -- a lesson I think is only just being learned on the Sydney veldt. We look forward to more of the same.