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A reporter's-eye view of the recent American Magazine Conference, held in Laguna Niguel, Calif.:

Giving Mac the knife: Barry Diller, former famed user and unofficial spokesman for the Apple Macintosh PowerBook, now uses a rival, but still trendy, IBM ThinkPad. Macs, he said, aren't really compatible with the IBM machines at his QVC cable network. Mr. Diller may be smart, but he acknowledged a higher power."One microprocessor," he said, "is going to run the world."

Pain remedy: Maybe it was the long-winded speeches. For whatever reason, many conference attendees passed over the piles of free magazines and newspapers to reach for another goodie. In one day, they snapped up 360 bottles of Arthritis Foundation Pain Reliever, a licensed product the foundation displayed next to copies of Arthritis Today.

Crying Wolfs: What happens when Tom Wolf of Hearst Magazines and Tom Wolf of Rodale Press show up in the same place at the same time? Well, let's just say the hotel not only accidentally canceled one reservation, but also repeatedly put the wrong faxes in the wrong mailboxes.

Faces in the crowd: Bob Petersen, chairman of Los Angeles-based Petersen Publishing and a regular on the Forbes list of richest Americans, attended but kept his customary low profile. After completing the purchase of Sassy from Dale Lang's Lang Communications, he said he plans to move the title to Los Angeles and make it a slightly older sister publication to the squeaky clean Petersen title, Teen. Expect some changes in its editorial. "It won't be the same magazine," he offered. No kidding.

Contributing to this story: Scott Donaton, Bradley Johnson and Keith J. Kelly.

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