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Originally published Monday, September 25, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Microsoft snarls traffic, brings out readers' byte

Microsoft's company meeting got on the nerves of some Seattle area drivers Thursday. While the 14,000 employees at Safeco Field were well...

Microsoft's company meeting got on the nerves of some Seattle area drivers Thursday.

While the 14,000 employees at Safeco Field were well below the normal turnout for a Mariners game — and its associated afternoon and evening traffic snarls — the meeting started at 9:30 a.m., right when the morning commute should be ending.

One driver wrote to say she missed her meeting in Sodo because of the traffic.

Another writer, going by the name Gridlocked on the Floating Bridge, offered this suggestion: "Perhaps Microsoft could use some of the extra cash floating around to pay for buses to transport their employees to and from Safeco Field for their next [2007] annual meeting."

(In fact, Microsoft had 184 buses that carried 7,100 people to and from the meeting, according to a spokesman.)

The "extra cash" Gridlocked referenced is the $2.5 billion Microsoft and its employees have given to charity since 1983. That milestone was the big public announcement to come out of the super-secret meeting.

And just to make sure that's all that got out, Microsoft put butcher paper over windows looking in on the field and assigned a public-relations handler to stay at each reporter's hip for the brief time they were allowed inside.

Muni talk

Worldwide deployment of municipal wireless networks is expected to grow from 248 this year to more than 1,500 in 2010.

Source: In-Stat

Apparently, the anonymous blogger Mini-Microsoft leaked out something sensitive said at the meeting about the forthcoming Vista operating system. The offensive language had been removed by Friday after several comments were posted chastising the blogger for disclosing company secrets.

Here's what was left: "And the [[wow, holy crap, guess I shouldn't have mentioned that!]] for Vista was news to me."

Maybe it will be news to the rest of us soon.

That's rich

In case you missed it, Forbes is out with its new list of the richest richies in America, and Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $53 billion, is still on top. Warren Buffett is No. 2 with $46 billion.

No. 3 on the list, displacing Gates' high-school buddy and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is Sheldon Adelson, who, according to Forbes' calculations, made $1 million an hour over the past two years.

Before breaking into the really big bucks through casino and hotel development, Adelson started Comdex, the late computer-industry trade show, in the mid-1980s.

So the guy who sold space at a convention to Microsoft has surpassed one of the company's co-founders in wealth and, Forbes estimates, will pass Gates himself sometime in 2012.

Adelson, 73, heads Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino, the site of Gates' keynote speech at another big tech convention, the International Consumer Electronics Show in January 2007.

Managing money

As its own bank account swells, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has hired an expert who helped manage the purse strings of the World Bank. Geoff Lamb, a former World Bank vice president in charge of finances and partnerships, has joined the Gates Foundation as senior fellow for Global Development, based in Washington D.C.

Boomer calling

Verizon Wireless is pitching a songbook's worth of ringtones by Seattle's guitar legend Jimi Hendrix to baby boomers. They cost 99 cents to use for a month, or $1.99 for a year.

Paul, you might want to check this out.

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

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