How does a Microsoft employee get laughs in front of a Gnomedex audience? Insult Microsoft. Or maybe that's the way Dean Hachamovitch always...

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How does a Microsoft employee get laughs in front of a Gnomedex audience? Insult Microsoft. Or maybe that’s the way Dean Hachamovitch always is.

Hachamovitch began a speech at the technology convention in Seattle on Friday by showing people what Microsoft’s campus looks like. An image of the Death Star from “Star Wars” appeared on screen.

“It’s actually an artist’s rendering based on what some of you have written in your blogs,” Hachamovitch told the chuckling crowd before demonstrating new Microsoft technologies for news-feed distribution.

Later, some in the audience questioned Microsoft’s business motives in developing the tools.

“I believe personally that your heart is in the right place,” said one audience member to Hachamovitch. “I’m still curious about Microsoft’s heart.”

Hachamovitch quipped: “You’re assuming Microsoft has a heart.”

Under fire

Even Bill Gates is being criticized in the media hysteria over “25 to Life,” a game available this summer for the PC, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony‘s PlayStation 2. The game, by U.K. game developer Eidos is being deplored for allowing players to kill police officers.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to ban the “mature”-rated title. A panel discussion about it on CNN last week turned into a shouting match between lawyers.

“You have to ask Bill Gates, ‘What are you thinking?’ ” said a trial attorney, as recorded in a transcript of the show. “Here’s a philanthropist and a powerful man, the richest man in the world, and yet he’s making available to children around the world on Xbox a cop-killing game.”

When asked about the game, Microsoft responded with a statement saying “not every game is appropriate for every player.” Eidos isn’t commenting at all.

“Grand Theft Auto” all over again? Perhaps the creators hope so. The “GTA” games — which also allow players to shoot police officers — are blockbuster titles.

P2P shootout

BitTorrent creator and sometime Bellevue resident Bram Cohen, in his blog last week, called a paper on Microsoft’s file-sharing program Avalanche “pure garbage.”

Microsoft researchers working on Avalanche invited reporters to its U.K. lab earlier this month. The technology, the company said, is a peer-to-peer system designed to distribute legal content.

Red Herring magazine called Avalanche “Microsoft’s own BitTorrent,” and PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak suggested Microsoft was out to discredit Cohen’s popular file-sharing technology. Cohen declared that Avalanche was “vaporware.”

It was too much for Microsoft researcher Kevin Schofield, who posted that Avalanche was simply research.

“Let me get this straight,” he wrote on his site. “In six days, a research project went from some algorithms in a paper to Microsoft’s competitive answer to BitTorrent, to “vaporware,” to an evil conspiracy.”

To which we ask Schofield: What’s a week on the Web without a conspiracy?

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