Seattle superlawyer Jim Ellis is known as a visionary. Fifty years ago he pushed to clean up Lake Washington, then he drove efforts to create...

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Seattle superlawyer Jim Ellis is known as a visionary. Fifty years ago he pushed to clean up Lake Washington, then he drove efforts to create parks and preserve green spaces before they were swallowed by development.

But last week, during a Washington News Council roast of Bill Gates Sr. and his wife, Mimi Gardner Gates, Ellis admitted to a missed prediction he made a little more than 30 years ago.

Ellis was serving on the University of Washington Board of Regents with Mary Gates, Gates’ late wife and the mother of the software guy. One day she leaned over and asked for parenting advice because her son wanted to drop out of Harvard “and play with his computers.”

His advice: “Let him go, Mary. He’ll be back in a year.”

Summit blogging

If you are looking for information on the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia, this week, a local company might be able to help.

Bruce Perens, vice president of Seattle-based SourceLabs, which develops open-source software, has been invited to speak at the summit on using open-source software in developing countries.

Ringing up sales

In the third quarter, 69 percent of cellphone ringtones were purchased by women.

Source: Telephia

Perens, who will speak Friday, will give a detailed look at the three-day event on his blog at:

At presstime, there was one message: “The opinions here are mine. I am a full-time employee of SourceLabs. They sponsor me to spend half of my work time being an Open Source leader, and they give me an essentially bottomless travel budget. The company has agreed not to attempt to set my agenda or control my speech.”

More on the summit can be found at

Do or die

Los Angeles-based Amp’d Mobile, an upstart mobile-phone company aiming for a young and hip market, is asking customers not to die before it sells service.

The company has started a marketing campaign asking consumers to hold off signing a new wireless contract until Amp’d launches later this year. The campaign, developed by Taxi New York, uses the tagline: “Try not to die — Amp’d Mobile is coming.”

There’s no word on exactly how long customers will have to wait, but if Amp’d thinks there’s a chance its target market might kick the bucket soon, it sounds less like it’s targeting the under-30 crowd and more that it’s aiming for the over-90 set.

Celebrity shopping

With Internet shopping expected to rise 25 percent this holiday season compared with last year, Microsoft said Friday it was gearing up for business.

MSN Shopping announced it was teaming with Shirley Jones of the 1970s TV series “The Partridge Family” to help consumers find perfect gifts for everyone on their list. “This is where Shirley and the new MSN MSN comes in,” the announcement said.

What does the fictitious mother of a family band that traveled by multicolored bus in the 1970s have to do with online shopping? We’re still trying to figure it out.

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