Bill Gates' birthday festivities last week included a turn on MTV in a 30-minute town hall-style forum. The cable-music channel had no problem...

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Bill Gates’ birthday festivities last week included a turn on MTV in a 30-minute town hall-style forum. The cable-music channel had no problem with manipulating the name of a dead hip-hop artist for the event and gave Microsoft‘s chairman a new nickname — “The Notorious B.G.”

Reaction to the forum, in which Gates spoke of his vision for the future, was light and fairly predictable. Microsoft employee John Carroll posted an opinion column to ZDNet saying that Gates “made some incredibly cogent points.” Another blogger called it “a scripted and rehearsed sham.” MTV message boards had very little discussion about the event.

Tech blogger Nathan Weinberg suggested that Gates next appear on the MTV show “Cribs,” where celebrities show off their homes. Now that’s a show we would watch.

A no-name company

Dwango Wireless said Friday it will rename the company, but that it hasn’t come up with a new name yet.

The Seattle company, which sells ringtones and other mobile content, said the change has to do with entering into a trademark- and technology-separation agreement with Japanese mobile-entertainment supplier Dwango Co.

Because of the separation, the Seattle Dwango will no longer have to pay the Japanese Dwango royalty or licensing fees.

Storing numbers

Driven by storage needs in consumer-electronic devices, shipments of hard-disk drives is expected to grow from 304 million in 2004 to 500 million 2009.

Source: In-Stat

The Seattle company said it will be largely unaffected by the change, other than that it will have no name and that the company will reveal its new identity by the end of the year.

Until then, let’s call it The Company Formerly Known as Dwango Wireless.

That loving feeling

During Nextel Partners‘ earnings call last week, an analyst asked whether the company’s bickering with Sprint Nextel would end by Valentine’s Day, returning the two to “the loving relationship” they once had.

The analyst was referring to the day an appraiser would set the final price Sprint Nextel would have to pay in acquiring Kirkland-based Nextel Partners.

The two companies have been fighting in court over how Nextel Partners should be valued, a dispute that has taken a toll on their close relationship. Nextel Partners builds and provides Nextel services in small and medium-size markets.

Nextel Partners Chief Executive John Chapple responded to the analyst by saying it was not Valentine’s Day, but close — Feb. 11. “It would be nice to spend the first Valentine’s Day in eight years with my wife,” he said. The idea for Nextel Partners was first spawned about that long ago.


Microsoft has recruited Japanese TV personality Thane Camus, the grandson of Albert Camus, to tout the Xbox 360 video-game console in Japan, according to gaming site Kotaku. … New York Post reports that Google is considering selling television advertising. … MP3 players top the “I’ll give” and “I want” consumer-electronics holiday lists, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or