When Microsoft chairman Bill Gates made his historic code-sharing deal with the mainland on Friday, staffers were quick to fire off a press release to announce the fact. A little too quick, perhaps. They forgot to remove the editing marks from their Word document. So the agreement, apparently signed at the tasty-sounding Sate Development & Planning Commission (SDPC), had various corrections, deletions and additions hidden waiting, like Easter Eggs, to be discovered. In the final release, the director of the China Information Technology Security Certification Centre, Wu Shizhong, was quoted praising Microsoft's Government Security Programme, which gives China controlled access to Windows' source code. 'Microsoft has taken a great step forward to let us understand its product security,' Dr Wu said. The original quote read: 'Microsoft has taken a great step forward to meet our demand for information technology security.' So was Microsoft helping out a befuddled China or was it made an offer it couldn't refuse? One can only wonder which quote was more accurate. Economist Brad DeLong wanted to know how Google became profitable, so he went to a talk by Google founder Larry Page. Mr Page's explanation makes as much sense as anyone else's: 'Google has been profitable since the first quarter of 2001. Why did we make becoming profitable such a priority? It's good that we did, because we might well be gone if we hadn't. The real reason is that we became profitable in the first quarter of 2001 because [Google co-founder] Sergey Brin made it a priority. You see, Sergey would try to go out on dates. He would call up women. And to impress them he would say: 'I'm the president of a money-losing dotcom.' 'But in Palo Alto in 2000, a huge number of people were presidents of money-losing dotcoms. And so they would not call him back. And he thought: 'If only I were president of a money-making dotcom, things would be very different. . .' ' I'm not sure whether the strategy worked. Search images.google.com for Sergey Brin and the closest thing to a woman you will find is a picture of Mr Brin himself - in a dress. When Tony Blair went off in search of Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction, he famously found all his evidence online. He may not have been impressed with this site: www.coxar.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk Speech recognition software is difficult for the best of us. If you don't have perfect Harvard diction, you might as well be talking to a newsgroup for all the sense you get. Things are even worse if you're a Scot. According to Scotland's Evening Times newspaper, experts at Birmingham University are investigating turning Glaswegians' 'mangled vowels and glottal stops' into legible English. The idea is to develop software that can translate speech into text messages for mobile phone users. Sounds like a slightly pointless invention, but then it is from Birmingham. The newspaper suggests the university start with these Glasgow phrases: 'Ma moose dis'nae work'; 'Ah cannae shut doon'; 'This screen's makin' ma heid nip'; and 'Ah'm gettin' right scunnered wi' Windaes 98'. Auction site eBay has what looks like a new Internet cult in the making. An orange-fingered Hawaiian recently auctioned a Huge Monster Cheeto on the site, describing it as an 'absolutely humungous Cheetos glob in a solid mass. This baby tips the scales at a whopping .60 ounces [17 grams], and is a real aberration.' Despite the description, he drew bids of as much as US$25 for the oversized snack. The owner claims to have withdrawn to donate the monster to the hungry but all manner of junk food merchandise has sprung up in its place. Up for auction as we went to press were a wardrobe full of Great Ebay Cheeto T-Shirts (US$9.95 to US$15); The Amazing Cheeto Original Picture (US$26.26); pictures of people or cats looking at pictures of the Great Ebay Cheeto (US$0.40 to US$15,100); Giant Cheeto wallpaper (US$1), a Campaign To Re-List the Amazing Cheeto (US$10); Cheeto photos on CD (US$1); and the eBayCheeto.com Internet domain (one US cent). Proving how quickly these things run out of steam, people are finding any excuse to add the words Giant Cheeto to their own auctions in the hope they will be noticed. With the flu season upon us, the final words for this week go to Raymond Muller of Compuware: 'I drink Corona because it's winter and I need to take vitamin C. And you can quote me on that.'