Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer ... and Tony Stark? Welcome to Microsoft's CEO search

Can Iron Man save Microsoft? But doesn't he have an HTC gig? And what does 'HTC' stand for? Cringely has your answers

In just a couple of hours, I'm heading off to Berlin for IFA 2013, where the latest electronics announcements are served up amid the dulcet tones of oompah bands and accompanied by visions of frauleins hoisting overflowing beer steins. I'll be posting more from the road in the coming days, but in the meantime, let's see what you've all had to say in the last few weeks.

First up: Opposing views on Snowden continue to roll in from all sides.

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In "Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and the war on whistleblowers," I agreed with the increasingly common notion that our government is, well, waging a war on whistleblowers, to our nation's detriment.

As usual, frequent correspondent T. M. B. disagrees with me in the strongest (and longest) terms possible.

Sorry, I can't agree with your contention that there is a War on Whistleblowers. If Snowden wanted to tell the world that classified employees can get access to things they aren't supposed to, that's one thing. For years government agencies have assumed that people wouldn't peek into areas that aren't their concern, and for the most part they were right. My job is too important to me to jeopardize it just because I'm curious about what the Prez had for breakfast. Snowden represents a new breed - people who think that it's their supervisor's responsibility to stop them from accessing what they shouldn't, rather than a question of personal integrity and honor.

On the flip side, reader M. W. argues:

No, Snowden is not a traitor. He released information that was considered 'classified', but if he did not reveal the information, would anyone else? How many other security personnel have seen the same terrifying information, but have chosen to disregard it. I believe that I heard that there are over 800,000 contract security personnel that have the high security clearance. And no one considers that an issue? I give Snowden a big attaboy for his disclosure of NSA criminal activity, no matter what his reasons were. It is time that Americans stand up for liberty and freedom, or there will be chaos to follow. If the feds are out of line, they need to be prosecuted. Make an example of them.

I don't think we'll ever reach a consensus on this one. But it's still more interesting to talk about than whether the next iPhone will come with a gold cover.

In "See you, Steve: 5 could-be, would-be Ballmers to consider," I suggested a few possible candidates for replacing The Mad Ballmer as el jefe at Microsoft, then opened the floor for nominees to the Cringe faithful.

I got one vote for Scott Forstall, the senior VP who was unceremoniously booted from Apple Inc. last October. That suggestion came from a "M. W." using a .me email address. (Scott, was that really you? Come on, fess up.)

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