Notes From the Field: MS swoons, banker croons

Are terrorists using video games as recruiting tools? That's the claim by U.S. Department of Defense officials, who point to a video sequence ( from Electronic Arts' Battlefield 2 in which fighters dressed in Arab garb shoot at American soldiers. There's just one small problem: The video wasn't made by Al-Qaeda but by a Battlefield 2 fan ( called "SonicJihad," who mixed an 11-minute sequence ( from the game with sound bytes from President Bush and dialog from Team America: World Police. If the people who are supposed to protect us can't tell the difference between the mujahideen and marionettes, we're in more trouble than I thought.

A stock response: Last week Microsoft stock hit its lowest price since October 2002, and that was after Steve Ballmer sent an e-mail ( to reassure Microsofties that although the company's stock price is falling, the sky is not. Fortunately for the world's richest man, Bill Gates sold off US$500 million worth of stock ( in February when the price was still relatively high. Microsoft spokesfolk call it "prudent portfolio diversification," something Sir Bill does periodically. I do that too, only I call it "putting loose change in my piggy bank."

Jailbird or songbird?: A few celebrities showed up at the San Francisco Zoo to fete Silicon Valley venture capitalist Roger McNamee ( at a recent surprise birthday shindig. Bono was there, as well as former tech investment banker Frank Quattrone, who may face yet another trial on charges of trying to thwart a federal probe into some dicey IPOs. The Q man broke into a mean rendition of "Rocky Raccoon," but probably turned down requests to sing "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey." Quattrone's next singing gig? Either American Idol or Prison Break, depending on how his legal troubles play out.

Comparing Apples and Apples: Apple (the computer company) has won its latest legal wrangle ( with Apple (the record company), Jobs be praised. A London court has ruled that iTunes may keep its Apple-with-a-bite-missing logo. No word whether the Beatles' record company plans to sue Quattrone for murdering their music.

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