E-Mails Can Break Your Heart

Hopefully, this Valentine's Day sees more couples on the upswing than the downswing. However, for those on the rocks, watch what you say in any e-mails about your soon-to-be ex or any treasures you might be trying to insulate from the effects of divorce. An errant, telling e-mail can break your heart. It can also break your wallet.

This very un-Valentine-like sentiment is just one of the results of a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). In the survey, 88 percent of the divorce attorneys that comprise the AAML's membership have seen a dramatic increase in the number of divorce cases using electronic evidence. Most of that "electronic evidence" comes from e-mails, with 82 percent of the AAML members mentioning e-mails specifically as damaging evidence. Text messages and instant messages are tied for second place with Internet browsing history, at 7 percent each.

The survey also proved that soon-to-be ex-wives are far more likely to use electronic evidence during divorce proceedings than soon-to-be ex-husbands. Only 5 percent of the AAML members reported men using this evidence, while 22 percent said women would bring it into the proceedings.

"Many people still don't realize how much evidence can be gleaned from personal electronics ranging from computers to cell phones and GPS devices," said James Hennenhoefer, president of the AAML, in a prepared statement. "In the Internet age, there is often a very clear trail that has been left behind and can be easily traced."

The moral of the story is, if you're splitting up, watch your step -- literally, figuratively and electronically. My divorce was easy. I took the 10-year-old truck, she took the 10-year-old car and we get along just grand today.

Any horror stories of electronic evidence coming back to bite you -- whether during personal or business matters? Reveal the truth to me at llow@redmondmag.com, and have a delightful Valentine's Day.

Hell Hath No Fury...
It's true that the fury of a woman scorned is best avoided. How about if that fury is coming from a multibillion-dollar software company? Yes, by now we all know that Yahoo has apparently had the temerity to just say no to Microsoft's seemingly generous offer (a 62 percent premium over Yahoo's current flagging stock price). Think Microsoft is just going to sink into the corner and sulk? Think again.

In a statement released just hours after Yahoo's Monday morning rebuff, Microsoft suggested it wasn't willing to bump up the price, and it was ready to dig in its heels for a fight, using the ominous phrasing that it would consider "all necessary steps" to make sure it acquires its quarry. Microsoft top exec Steve Ballmer has previously described its original proposal as generous. After this latest ripple, Microsoft officials said the Yahoo refusal was "unfortunate."

While the initial offer was made with a friendly hand extended, Microsoft has the desire -- and the capital -- to see it through even if the going gets hostile. Microsoft's next step could include presenting its offer directly to Yahoo's shareholders, who are likely fairly nervous right about now and eager to emerge with a decent return on recently flagging investments.

Microsoft's original offer to purchase Yahoo, made more than a week ago, was valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 a share. The payment is structured to be a 50/50 split of cash and stock. Both sides would prefer a friendly deal, but Microsoft is clearly ready to do whatever it takes to become "Microhoo."

Hell hath no fury, eh? I think I'd still rather take my chances with Microsoft than a woman scorned. What's your take on the deal? (I mean the Microsoft/Yahoo deal, not the woman scorned deal.) Don't scorn me -- let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

The Shopping Spree Continues
Microsoft is also buying something far less dangerous. (Keep reading and you'll see why that's kind of funny.) While it tries to keep clicking on "Add to Cart" to get Yahoo into its fold, it has also scooped up mobile phone company Danger.

Since the middle of last year, Microsoft has held a series of talks with the consumer smartphone developer to convince it to sell out to Microsoft. It was ultimately successful after apparently bumping up the price on several occasions. As Danger was privately held, we don't know the final purchase price, but we can bet it's a wee bit less than the almost $45 billion hanging out there for Yahoo.

This acquisition gives Microsoft another platform in the rapidly proliferating sea of mobile devices with which users (consumers, executives and IT guys) can access and share information. Danger was originally founded in 2000 by engineers from Apple and several other companies. Danger's Sidekick phone, manufactured by Sharp and Motorola, had a unique fold-out screen, but widespread acceptance may have been limited by its exclusive deal with carrier T-Mobile.

Do we get to call the new company Microdanger? What do you think of Microsoft's many moves, including its drive into the consumer market for smartphones? Call me up (so to speak) at llow@redmondmag.com.

Mailbag: Thoughts on AMD-Based PCs, BlackBerry Outage
Readers share their thoughts on AMD-based Dells after news that Dell would be limiting their online availability:

I would like to see Dell showing more gaming or multimedia PCs similar to the XPS line with the AMD quad-core processors.
-Phillip

Over the last year or so, I have purchased approximately 24 AMD-powered Dell computers for my clients online. I have had NO problems with any of them. I have had one Intel-powered box which was DOA (out of approximately the same number), but this could have just been the luck of the draw. As we all know, things happen.

Out of all of these machines -- both AMD and Intel -- I have found that in general, the AMD machines seem to be "snappier" in their response, and this has been confirmed by feedback from my customers. They like them. And I will always try to provide what the customer likes. If Dell will not provide it, then I will find it somewhere else.
-Michael

And were you affected by the Great BlackBerry Outage of 2008? Here's what some of you experienced:

I was not seriously affected by the outage, but I've been affected by several unannounced BB outages. More than once, I've been down for a few days at a time. Talking with Verizon Wireless tech service and running through a series of tests has resulted in clearing them (VW) and the device itself of causing the problem. VW was not aware of any RIM problem/outage. I wasn't willing to wait on hold for over an hour for RIM tech service (once was enough). All of a sudden, a couple of days later, service resumed. Never read or heard any announcement that RIM had a problem.

Maybe the outage needs to affect huge numbers of customers before it's worth announcing?
-Tony

I noticed when I was unable to send e-mails or retrieve them. I did find it rather ironic that Dilbert already knew about this problem with the day's desk calendar stating, "Trust me, it doesn't look good" when Dilbert asks for a BlackBerry (see my photo).

I had to upgrade my BlackBerry to a different model as the service with 8703s is extremely unreliable with random reboots occurring at all times through the day. As each reboot could last 45 minutes, this means I am without e-mail, Internet and phone service for three out of the eight normal business hours. RIM finally admitted there was a problem with the 8703s but will not do anything about them apart from suggesting we purchase new phones -- at full price and with a new two-year contract. Sprint, our supplier, is not interested as it's a RIM problem.

Maybe you would like to write about this issue in your next newsletter and hopefully shed some light on it for fellow readers who might be having the same problem and possibly ask for a statement from RIM as a member of the press?
-Anonymous

Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to llow@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

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