For a brief period last year, Dell and Apple went head-to-head in a battle for the American youth market. In one corner stood Steven the Dell guy, a goofy-looking scruffbag blown away by his friend's decision to buy a Dell. In the other was Ellen Feiss, a 15-year-old student whose PC ate her homework. Ellen's dazed eyes and inability to string together more than five words in a row without saying 'like' brought her instant cult stardom, with fan sites springing up all over the Web. She later blamed her state on the medication she had been taking for allergies. But it was too late for the Dell guy. The actor who played Steven, Benjamin Curtis, slid back into obscurity after Dell abandoned its campaign. Until last week, when he was arrested in New York for buying cannabis. Will his new-found rebel image give new life to Dell's maligned campaign? Or has he just blown its carefully honed conservative image? Either way, Dell no doubt now agree with Ellen's assessment of the Dell guy last year: 'That guy's a doofus.' Business associate editor Matthew Brooker retired from the South China Morning Post on Friday after 10 years on the job. Struggling to open his leaving gift of a Compaq iPaq, he was heard to complain: 'Technology was never my strong point.' His new job? Leader of Bloomberg's technology team. A writer for Forbes magazine, which ran a long feature on Microsoft's Long March into China last week, was shocked to be able to buy a pirate copy of Windows XP in Beijing for US$5.50 - and that was after some 'gentle bargaining'. No wonder she was shocked. US$5.50 for a pirate CD-ROM? Anyone else could have got it for less than half the price. Sunday Communications has stumbled upon a dubious new way to win column inches. It seems managing director Bruce Hicks has decided that if you can't dazzle them with technology, you can seduce them with skin. Mr Hicks turned up at the company's Lunar New Year media luncheon at The Peninsula last week dressed head to toe in black leather with a large Yamaha motorbike he planned to give away in a lucky draw. Our woman on the scene reported that, while she was much taken with the bike, all the other women in the room had eyes only for Mr Hicks. We shudder at the thought of what Li Ka-shing will have to do to top that. Opera Software, the small but perfectly formed browser developer from Norway, has a long history of scrapes with Microsoft. The troubles generally revolve around its giant Redmond rival's lack of regard for Web standards. But every now and then the problems become a little more personal - like when Opera browsers are booted from Microsoft Web sites. Two weeks ago, Opera announced that its users were being purposely fed broken Web pages when they visited Microsoft's MSN portal. So Opera has got a small taste of revenge (a very small taste - Opera has less than a 2 per cent market share) by releasing an updated version of its browser specifically designed to mess up MSN pages. The Opera Bork edition translates MSN's pages to read in the style of the Swedish chef from The Muppet Show . So Microsoft Corporation becomes Meecrusufft Curpureshun, and 'MSN - more useful everyday' becomes 'MSN - Mure-a Useffool Iferydey'. Opera product line manager Mary Lambert said: 'Hergee berger snooger bork. 'This is a joke,' she said, adding: 'The Bork edition illustrates how browsers could also distort content, as the Bork edition does. The real point here is that the success of the Web depends on software and Web site developers behaving well and rising above corporate rivalry.' Opera's chief technology officer, Hakon Wium Lie, said the assault on his browser was 'like putting a moose in the blender - a recipe for disaster'. Opera 7.01, or 7.02 for Windows in Bork, can be downloaded at www.opera.com . Neil Taylor is the editor of Technology Post.