AOL May Be Forced to Slim Down

SAN MATEO (07/24/2000) - Hearkening back to the cyberclassic film The Matrix, the news is out about a new flesh-eating robot, or gastrobot, called Chew Chew that derives energy from organic matter -- flesh and vegetation.

The machine, which looks like a toy train, uses a microbial fuel cell containing the E. coli bacterium to convert food into electricity.

"I hope it's avoiding meat, Bobby," Randi said when I told her that I may go to see the beast at its debut next month at a robotics conference in Hawaii.

Much to the dismay of my vegetarian girlfriend, Chew Chew prefers meat because it can get more energy by eating flesh, says its inventor, Stuart Wilkinson, of the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Most Midwestern men (like me) would agree with Stuart, who told New Scientist magazine, "Vegetation is not nearly as nutritious."

However, practical applications for such machines are likely to come in the form of lawn-mowing capabilities, with grass clippings serving as the fuel for the mowing process -- a vegetarian diet after all.

Feed me!

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is checking out company-eating America Online Inc., feels that AOL may have taken things a little too far when it announced plans to merge with Time Warner Inc., according to insiders.

Sources say that two units within the Justice Department are internally recommending that Justice bring anti-competitive charges to bear on America Online with an eye toward breaking up the Time Warner merger.

Some sources say the force behind Justice's interest in the deal is Walt Disney Co., which is urging regulators to split the merged company into two as soon as the deal is complete.

Just do it

On the other side of the overeating vs. health consciousness continuum, Marc Andreessen's start-up company, Loudcloud Inc., has landed one of its first major customers. Sportswear giant Nike is turning over much of its Internet infrastructure to the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.

No cookies please, I'm dieting

Microsoft Corp. last week announced a new cookie management feature in the next version of its Internet Explorer Web browser, providing Web surfers with the ability to delete and manage cookies.

That announcement came only days after a report from Gibson Research about how NetZip's "Download Demon" is now part of Real Networks Inc.'s "Real Download" and Netscape Communications Corp.'s "Netscape Smart Download."

The software tags each user PC with a unique ID so that Download Demon can monitor where the user travels on the Net and what programs the user downloads, according to Gibson. The information is then sent back to the program source to create a profile of the user.

The next release of Gibson's Optout spyware detection software will test systems for the ID cookies.

"I'M COMING TO Hawaii with you, "Randi said. "I need to convert Chew Chew."

Bloated with tips? Send them to cringe@infoworld.com.

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More about America OnlineAOLContinuumDepartment of JusticeGibson ResearchLoudcloudMicrosoftNetscape Communications CorpNikeReal NetworksTime WarnerUniversity of South AustraliaWalt Disney

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