Echoing Forth

McVeigh, a 17-year veteran, is slotted to be discharged, pending review, Wednesday for violating the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule, but has been trying to build an appeal. AOL allegedly dropped McVeigh's account because he was sending a "chain letter" (read: a petition in his defense), but AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose would not confirm it because "we don't comment on the status of our members' accounts." Prodigy immediately offered McVeigh an account free for life.

Many gay AOL users were unaware of the situation. In a circuit of six full gay chat rooms, this reporter did not encounter a single user who was familiar with McVeigh's case; on the other hand, I was welcomed with a barrage of Instant Message solicitations ("Click here for the Best Porn"), later followed by this: "I think half this room has AIDS."


Signal and Noise

What Was That About "Bundling"?: As rumors surfaced about Microsoft's withering support of Sidewalk, its 10-city guide (sidewalk.com), staffers were called into a meeting last week and told that press leaks "hurt all of us" and that the official word on scaling back will be coming soon. With dozens of different properties online, Microsoft finally added a pull-down menu to their sites to link from one to the other. A larger consolidation might be in the works...

Facelift: Meanwhile, Wired is undergoing its own reorg. Hotwired (hotwired.com) underwent a massive redesign last week, while Wired magazine and Wired Digital prepare to move back in together in SF. Word is ex-editor Louis Rossetto will move from the magazine to overseeing Wired Digital properties (like Wired News) this spring...

DIY: IndieWIRE, which runs a 6000-subscriber-strong newsletter for the independent film community, just launched its first autonomous Web site (www.indiewire.com), featuring personal accounts about getting distribution, and a lively discussion area. The debut article? "Independent Film Is Dead."... EShuffle Play: Streamlined music site cductive.com, launched this month, lets fans of techno, house, drum'n'bass, and acid jazz compile their own CD mixes for $7.99 for the first song and 99 cents for each additional one. Though a burgeoning business online (see N2K's own "e--mod" service or customdisc.com), the pickings can be slim: major labels are still very shy about contributing.

E-mail: abunn@villagevoice.com

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