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June 9, 2000 VOL. 29 NO. 22 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

Asiaweek Pictures

Cutting Edge

Shocking Entertainment
As the judge prepares to rule in Microsoft's antitrust trial, Bill Gates is playing cute and dressing up as a fluffy ducky in a last-ditch effort to sway public opinion. Not the real Gates of course. But you can catch duck Bill on Like, News, an animated cartoon airing at Initially a place for Macromedia to plug its Flash software, has grown into a highly addictive showcase for the best in Netertainment. Alongside Like, News' topical weekly bulletins, with Gen-X newscaster Skeeter, there is cubicle warrior Dilbert and the foul-mouthed South Park kids -- as well as Web-only shows like Thugs on Film (starring lager-lout Siskel and Ebert wannabes Stubby and Cecil) and 7th Portal, a new series from Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. And if you get bored of cartoons, also offers classic arcade games and the chance to microwave a gerbil. (Again, not a real one.)

Holy Modems
Who should be the patron saint of the Internet? If you're frustrated by slow-loading Web pages, Saint Expedito might spring to mind. Alas, he's busy patronizing the procrastinators. But with the Catholic Church rumored to be searching for a cybersaint, suitable candidates are vying for the denomination. The favorite is Saint Isidore, left, author of a 20-volume store of knowledge called The Etymologies -- widely considered to be the Yahoo! of 6th century Spain. Then there's Saint Pedro Regalado, a great navigator (Netscape fans, rejoice) who bridged distances by appearing in two places at once. Last, and perhaps least, is Saint Tecla. Her qualifications? Tecla is Spanish for "key."

Driving In Japan Is A Gas
While Hong Kong struggles to convert its fleets of diesel-belching taxis over to liquid petroleum gas, Japan (which has had LPG buses for some years) is forging ahead with the next big thing in clean-burning fuels: hydrogen. The launch date for Japan's first hydrogen filling stations has been brought forward 18 months to fall 2001. Meanwhile a semi-governmental body is to speed studies with carmakers to develop vehicles that use fuel cells for power. Fuel cells fill up on hydrogen and power cars through a chemical reaction with oxygen -- leaving water as the only waste product. A wet and wild ride.

Computing in Tablet Form
After desktops, laptops and palmtops, the next wave in must-have computer hardware will be the Web tablet. The Qbe is one of the first to hit the shelves, a connected clipboard with the performance of a desktop, the portability of a laptop and the posing power of a Palm. The Qbe (www.qbenet. com)uses Intel processors, runs Windows and comes with a built-in color camera as well as handwriting, voice and face recognition capabilities (the latter for security). It comes with a price tag of $3,995-$5,395, meaning you can afford to wait for other players to enter the market. Expect to see Web pads from Compaq and a new AOL-Gateway alliance before the year is out.


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