Steven Levy

BILL GATES

As much as three quarters of the electronic mail sent over the Internet consists of unwanted and certainly unloved spam--everything from offers to buy Vicodin to shocking porn to messages with viruses embedded in them.

ADDICTED TO THE START-UP LIFE

Silicon Valley is buzzing again, as a new wave of start-ups exploit opportunities arising from the utter pervasiveness of the Internet. One of them is JotSpot, a company that's trying to transform the trend of "wikis" (Web pages that anyone can write to and edit) into a Web application tool for businesses.

CAN MR. BILL CLEAN UP YOUR IN BOX?

As much as three fourths of all mail sent on the Internet is spam--unwanted, often disgusting or fraudulent brickbats tossed in your in box. We waste hours deleting this stuff--or, if we have software to do the work for us, we worry about urgent missives mistakenly tossed into the garbage bin.

SEARCH: A GOOGLE OF ONE'S OWN

Web-search giant Google last week released a beta version of a program that uses the company's ferretlike technology to let you search your own computer. As you'd expect, the program uses the familiar interface and is lightning fast.

USING FREE AIRWAVES FOR DIRTY TRICKS

You might think it unlikely that a programming change from the relatively obscure Sinclair Broadcast Group would become a headline in its own right. But this was no ordinary announcement.

SONY GETS PERSONAL

For those whose thumbs don't feel at home unless pressed against an analog control--and those who make millions selling to that crowd--the Tokyo Game Show is paradise in pixels.

THE CREATOR: NOW HE'S PLAYING SONY'S GAME

What happens when a maverick is brought in from the cold? At the age of 54, Ken Kutaragi is finding out. For years he has reveled in his role as Sony's precocious bad boy--a visionary who pitched spitballs at the company's rulers from his own unassailable perch at Sony Computer Entertainment, the wildly profitable house that his PlayStation built.

FAREWELL, WEB 1.0! WE HARDLY KNEW YE.

Are you ready for the new Web? It's getting ready for you. It turns out that bidding on eBay, gathering with Meetup and Googling on, um, Google are only the opening scenes in a play whose running time will top "Mahabharata." While we've been happily browsing, buying and blogging, the tech set has been forging clever new tools and implementing powerful standards that boost the value of information stored on and generated by the Net.

NO NET? WE'D RATHER GO WITHOUT FOOD.

Your tech-stock portfolio might still be aching from a three-year hangover, but when it comes to the Internet's effect on our lives, the binge is just getting underway.

MEMO TO BLOGGERS: HEAL THYSELVES

Things are quiet on the Where Is Raed blog these days. Quite a contrast to the weeks preceding the Iraqi war, when self-described "accidental journalist" Salam Pax (a pseudonym) became an international celebrity by providing a view of what it was like to live in a country awaiting invasion.

SURVIVING THE IPO FROM HELL

Months ago, when the idea of Google's inevitable IPO could be discussed by its leaders only in hypothetical terms, cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were trying to explain to me (and perhaps themselves) why going public would not necessarily change the search-engine giant, or disrupt its mission. "I think there's always the opportunity to screw it up, be it private or public," said Brin. "Perhaps I'm naive."We all know what happened next.

IPOD WORLD

Steve Jobs noticed something earlier this year in New York City. "I was on Madison," says Apple's CEO, "and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, 'Oh, my God, it's starting to happen'." Jonathan Ive, the company's design guru, had a similar experience in London: "On the streets and coming out of the Tube, you'd see people fiddling with it." And Victor Katch, a 59-year-old professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan, saw it in Ann Arbor....

Airplane Reading: 'Memorial Day'

Vince Flynn didn't need a wakeup call on September 11, 2001. Since the mid-90s, the former Kraft corporation salesman (who was frustrated by a medical disqualification when he tried to join the Marines) has been banging out a series of increasingly hysterical thrillers focusing on the terrorist threat to America.

THE NEW IPOD

Veteran Podsters understand that at least once a year Apple performs a feat that at once infuses them with dread and delight: an iPod upgrade. The delight comes from a new look and new capabilities.

iPod Nation

In just three years, Apple's adorable mini music player has gone from gizmo to life-changing cultural icon

MEET THE EYE CAM

Our precious peepers are valued primarily for one crucial function: letting us see. But eyes can also be a source of information to those observing them, mostly by giving intuitive clues to emotions or intentions.

THE TROUBLE WITH E-BALLOTS

It's now official: Walden O'Dell is no longer raising funds for George W. Bush. Why should you care? That was Walden O'Dell's attitude last year, when he promised, in his role as rainmaker for Ohio's presidential re-election campaign, to deliver the state to the incumbent.

Airplane Reading: Intrigue at 35,000 Feet

What do you read on the airplane? For many of us, it's a well-paced, deftly plotted so-called thriller, ideally situated on the banks of genre fiction with one toe in the pond of literature.

MAKING THE ULTIMATE MAP

There it is, that good old pale blue dot in all its earthly glory, right there on your computer screen. It's a familiar sight, even from a sky-high perspective experienced only by astronauts and angels.

Something in the Air

HERE'S WHAT WE'RE LEARNING WITH OUR CELL PHONES, SENSORS AND WI-FI: LOSING THE WIRES IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IS UNPREDICTABLE, EMPOWERING AND SOMETIMES A BIT UNNERVING.

CUTTING LOOSE

In the '90s, people went bananas about wireless. Electronic communications once thought bound permanently to the world of cables and hard-wired connections suddenly were sprung free, and the possibilities seemed endless.

A FUTURE WITH NOWHERE TO HIDE?

We're all too familiar with the concept of technology as a double-edged sword, and wireless is no exception. In fact, the back edge of this rapier is sharp enough to draw blood.

Software: Need An Office?

If you're a Macintosh owner, you're probably using Microsoft Office for everyday apps. Should you spend $239 to upgrade to the newly released Office 2004 for Mac?

Still Standing, Pat

No surprise that Pat Mcgovern is big on brains. He's CEO of IDG, a privately held business launched back in 1964 that rakes in $2.4 billion a year from selling head food: more than 300 computer magazines (Computer World and Linux World, for example), over 170 tech conferences and the IDC market-research firm.

The Google Supercomputer

How many computers does Google have? The answer may interest you if you're considering a bid in the upcoming Dutch auction for shares in the firm's recently announced IPO.

A Very Public Offering

Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one." With those words, one of the chattiest, most idealistic and economically momentous "S-1" forms ever--the filing that announces a public stock offering--hit Wall Street with a wallop.

Itunes And Lawsuits

Last Wednesday brought two pieces of news in the ever evolving digital music wars. On the positive side, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was singing "The Anniversary Song" in celebration of the first birthday of his iTunes store, by far the biggest emporium of legal song downloads.

Grass-Roots Guide To Everything

Here's an encyclopedia that evokes a variation on the famous Groucho line: would you get your information from a reference work that accepts you as an author?

EXTREME MAKEOVER

After 12 years at the helm of Autodesk--the San Rafael, Calif., company that creates the computer-aided design applications that help create "everything God doesn't"--Carol Bartz has spiffed up her company and herself.

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