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Polis Report

Big Blue Balls

By Michael Learmonth

From the Pierre Salinger tip file: Metro editors received a detailed memo from a cyber-tipster addressed to IBM field engineers on the proper maintenance and replacement of the oft-neglected computer mouse ball. Verbatim excerpts from the alleged memo:

"[I]f a mouse fails to operate or performs erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Before proceeding, determine the type of the mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static-sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction."

But since when did a computer engineer ever need such detailed instructions on mouse maintenance or popping off?

Though he stopped short of denying the validity of the suggestively worded memo, Mike Ross of IBM's Almaden Research Center did his best to cover for what could be the adolescent humor of Big Blue's men in the field.

"It sounds like a hoax," he said. "Is that like the one about Microsoft buying the Catholic Church?"

A secretary at IBM Almaden said she, too, was left off the boys-club distribution list and had experienced no mouse ball maintenance problems.

To prove his point that most incriminating "internal memos" circulating on the Internet are prankster retreads, Ross suggested: "Try substituting the names of Metro editors in the memo." No, thanks, we've already got mouse ball maintenance in hand.

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From the March 13-19, 1997 issue of Metro

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