Lisa Simmons on New Media: The Mimi generation

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The Independent Online

One must pick up a lot of gossip while tweezing, painting and primping the rich and famous. Which might be why Kristy Madden and Louise Mancini have decided to turn their experience of running Time Agency, a 10-year-old company representing make-up artists and stylists for clients like Sky and Cosmo, into an online venture.

The women have created Mimi, a fictional IT-girl-style character, who will offload (or rather upload) on to Beautyandthedirt.co.uk all the fashion-industry gossip, beauty news and social tips that the two women pick up for us less-stylish peasants. "Think Carrie Bradshaw meets Holly Golightly," urge the pair.

Luckily, they don't see the site as a commercial venture, as they are unsure as to where it will all lead. In the long term, they want to launch Mimi as a "brand" and are using the website as a means to determine the best way to do this. They admit they are waiting for the offers to flood in. "It could be a book, a make-up range, a movie... anything," we're told.

A couple of Kristy's artists have been with her for 14 years, apparently. Not sure how long they'll stay once they find out in a year that their biggest secrets could be played out on the big screen.

Hotmail's face-lift

Talking of makeovers, Microsoft gave its free e-mail service, Hotmail, a lick of paint this week. A new version went live on Thursday morning (following a day of glitches). The result looks astonishingly like Microsoft Outlook only more "blue" (that is, in the colour sense), although it does apparently have a sharper spam filter than the previous version did.

New tools on the site include a thesaurus, a spell checker and the like, but my homepage refuses to load properly, leaving lots of taunting, gaping holes where new whizzy graphics should have been.

Rumours abound that Microsoft is trying to entice us with fancy extras only to turn round and start charging us for what used to be free. As an integral part of most people's lives, I don't think that it's outrageous to imagine paying for a swanky e-mail service if it really does deliver time-saving features. But please, no more promises of debt consolidation, elongated body parts or entry to a prize sodding draw in my inbox.

 

E-mail blunders

One woman probably unfazed by the Hotmail makeover is Claire Swire, the woman who unknowingly engaged in fruity e-mail banter with the entire world. Her misfortune made the world's e-mailers squirm, as we all know someone (or are someone) who has hit "reply all" by mistake, sent something sensitive to the boss, or engaged in office gossip over e-mail.

There must be a medical term for the panic felt the moment directly after you click "reply all" and before you run to the IT department begging them to stop the e-mail from leaving your machine. Symptoms include sweating, palpitations and the mistaken belief that e-mail is a toy.

Now the e-business news service Silicon.com has taken it upon itself to investigate just how cringe-inducingly bad things can get. Quite bad indeed, it seems, if 2,000 of its users who sent in their own digital blunders are to be believed. Examples can be found at www.silicon.com/goto-Digital-sta.

The report, although containing frightful tales of two-timing rats sending love notes to the wrong women and the shocking statistics on how much people use e-mail to communicate within one office, does not include the sorry tale of four hungry journalists working late one night, one of whom accidentally printed out an e-mail thread about 20 pages long detailing a two-hour cross-partition cyber conversation about what each was going to have for their tea that night. The boss wasn't amused but did pick up some good tips on how to make toasted cheese sandwiches.

MP3 auction

Pop old boys Genesis, Dire Straits and Jean-Michel Jarre have teamed up with auction site QXL.com and Creative Labs to auction off some specially designed DAP Jukeboxes. The jukeboxes include a back catalogue of their work and feature the design of their most famous album cover, an autograph and a mirrored collection on CD.

They also hold up to 150 CDs' worth of MP3 music. Punters started bidding a week ago, and the auction closes at 5pm 30 July. Go to www. europe.creative.com and follow the links if you fancy helping out a worthy cause.

lisa.simmons@haynet.com

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