>> WHAT TH-? <<<<
It's okay! Calm, calm. It's me, Dan O'Brien, and I'm
conducting a small experiment on behalf of humanity.
About a fortnight ago, we were kicking around a few
ideas at Need To Know HQ, and decided that what we'd
love is a WEEKLY E-MAIL NEWSHEET that included a
summary of the more interesting of the weeks' tech
media, pointed up nodules of info that perhaps we
would have missed, kept us up to date with the
general UK net scene, and included a few cranky
selections of what we liked to call entertainment.
This is not that newsheet. However, it is an alpha
version of that newsheet. It's got all the bits that
I hope NTK-now could carry: certainly enough to give
you, dear reader, the idea. Now, all it needs is
your passive support. Would you want to receive this
newsletter? Do you think we should carry on? Would
you be interested in contributing titbits, even?
If your response to any of the above was 'Well, I
dunno', please read on. There's more idle chat at
the end of the 'sheet'.
>> HARD NEWS <<<<
All the news you need to know
APPLE'S WOES continued as it announced that 4,100
employees are to lose their jobs. This represents a
third of Apple's workforce and is only the latest in
a series of lay-offs by the company. Apple Chairman
GIL AMELIO also announced the cancellation of Mac
projects including OpenDoc, Open Transport, the
Cyberdog Web browser, and the MacOS development
tools. Amelio said "We're getting back to basics."
Heard *that* before.
ISPs and others running USENET NEWS SERVERS on their
machines were the victim of an ongoing HACKING
ATTEMPT, as rogue newsgroup control postings were
used to steal password files and other confidential
info. The control posts exploited a known security
hole in an old version of INN, the freely available
news server package. As the postings spread, they
attack more and more machines. CERT (the Computer
Emergency Response Team) report that over a hundred
machines have fallen victim so far.
Visitors to BT.NET and SUCK.COM got 'site not found'
this week, as NETWORK SOLUTIONS' crackdown on DOMAIN
REGISTRATION DEBTS got nasty. Network Solutions, who
run the Internet's central registry for .com, .edu,
.gov, .net and .org addresses, put 29,000 domains
names on hold, after final demand notices failed to
get a reaction. The sites effectively disappeared
from the Net. BRITISH TELECOM recorded pre-tax
profits of UKP3,000 million in 1996. Reserving a
domain name costs $100.
There's a new INTEL chip in town. The PENTIUM II,
due for release early in May, is essentially the
top-o'the-range Pentium Pro with the new MMX
multimedia extensions jammed in. Chips sampled so
far clock in at 266 Mhz, but will probably be
expensive for a while: PC designers will need to
revamp their motherboards to cope with its new
shape. AMD, Intel's rival, is due to release a
similarly specced chip called the K6 at the same
time: early speed comparisons are said to put the
chips neck and neck.
>> IN THE PAPERS <<<<
What "fair use" was invented for
INTER@CTIVE WEEK revealed that European software
developers are to license PHIL ZIMMERMAN'S PGP
trademark in order to create separately-developed,
international versions of the company's products.
This effectively bypasses any export restrictions
that would have been placed on the ultra-secure
RICHARD BELFIELD in the NEW STATESMAN (15/3/97)
investigated the Research Study Group, who study
Britain's cold-war defences. RSG is part of
SUBTERRANEA BRITANNICA, the (literally) underground
The NEW SCIENTIST (15/3/97) described the tech
background to the NEW 56KBPS MODEMS, as well as
looking forward to the future 6Mbps xDSL systems and
400Kbps satellite downlinks, in an article by HANK
THE FINANCIAL TIMES (18/3/97) reported that BT
Research labs have been testing QUANTUM CRYPTOGRAPHY
on optical links as long as 30km. Researchers at
John Hopkins University are researching QC systems
that use polarised photons in open air and in broad
Roger Walker of the DEFENCE RESEARCH AGENCY is
concerned about the clutter produced by LOW-ORBIT
SATELLITE NETWORKS (like Bill Gates' Teledesic),
according to THE TIMES (16/3/97). The effect of
launching the hundreds of satellite required could
lead to a 30% increase in space debris, he says.
KEVIN WARWICK, professor of cybernetics at Reading
University, reassured DAILY EXPRESS readers in his
op-ed "WILL THE MICROCHIP PROVE THE ULTIMATE MENACE
TO MAN?" (17/3/97) "In 2001 ... Hal turns against
its human masters and tries to kill them," Kevin
writes. "I fear that such a nightmare future is
terrifyingly close." Frightened Express readers can
send their PCs to our mailing address.
NEAL ASCHERSON in the INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
(16/3/97) compared the Albanian "mob rule" with a
flock of geese's hive-mind: "Like the wild geese,
the Albanian crowds are whirling about before they
find a common aim and head towards it."
In PETER COCHRANE's column in the DAILY TELEGRAPH
(20/3/97), he explained why newbies crash his
machine more than he does. Investigating, he
realised that while he thought his machine was
uncrashable, his own behaviour subtly avoided the
dangerspots. He had been "quietly tutored not to
touch the mouse when my browser was doing its stuff.
I had been subject to a subliminal process of
conditioning by my machines." Watch the Netscape 'N'
... you are feeling sleepy...
>> CULTURE <<<<
Issue 15 of the cyber fanzine BOING-BOING is out.
Topics covered: Bruce Sterling on his Dead Media
Project, a lady's visit to a nudist colony and Web
cam voyeurism. Send six dollars to bOING bOING,
11288 Ventura Blvd #818, Studio City CA 91604 USA
That marvellous weekly anti-CJA rag, SCHNEWS, has a
new Web site. SchNEWS is based in Brighton and
covers all forms of direct action, from animal
rights to right-to-party, in its own cheery manner.
The Web site includes a diary, a news update page,
and a *very* good contacts list. Wake up!
Details are up on Hacking In Progress, the open-air
hacking conference to be held in Amsterdam in
August. (In fact, the details have been around for a
while, but they seem to be re-publicising the site).
Tents, techies, raves and that dutch can-do
>> TRACKING <<<<
Stuff our bots told us to tell you
Among YAHOO!'s new British sites is THE UK STREETMAP
PAGE, which produces complete map images for any
street or postcode in the Greater London area.
Images are taken from the Bartholomew road maps; the
service is provided by BTex Ltd.
Most popular download at SHAREWARE.COM (beating
WinZip and Quake even) is WebStereo, a standalone
utility pre-loaded with the RealAudio addresses of
over thirty Internet Radio stations. Registered
WebStereo sells for $19.95.
>> MEMEWATCH <<<<
Tired *and* Wired
"PUNCH 'EM UP" SHOCKWAVE APPS as SOCIAL COMMENTARY
... General election sites EQUAL UK Webvertising's
LAST CHANCE SALOON .. The new Microsoft development
package, Visual Studio, is Bill Gates' HEROIN FOR
CODERS... GLADIATORS VS ROBOT WARS: who wins in a
fight? ... ULTRALAB's "DAMAGED GENERATION" : PC
users whose intuition has been CRIPPLED by using old
user interfaces ... WINDOWS 3.11 retail prices now
greater than WIN 95 due to "scarcity value" ...
ACRONYMS that "don't stand for anything" (SUN, MIPS,
Windows CE) ... AND IT'S NET MAG RELAUNCH TIME!
>> ANTI-NEWS <<<<
Items that would be news if they hadn't happened
THE SUN reports IBM boffins have invented 'a
computer you can wear in your shoe' (18/3/97) ...
security flaws found in Netscape + Shockwave,
Explorer, FrontPage, The WELL, car stereos, front
doors ... EMAP says UK NET AD REVENUES booming,
expect rises of 6 million UKP a year - EMAP also own
Internet Sales, a sales house for Web ads ... NOP
reports that 10% of UK population have used the Net
in the last year - and 3% of users swear they'll
never use it again...
>> NEXT WEEK <<<<
Still working on the format for this...
11.15GMT (RA) NEIL INNES off of the Rutles gets
uncomfortably close to meta-parody at the
Beatlefest Web event.
14.00GMT (Live Webcam) ASPIRE II LIVE ROCKET launch
from NEC Birmingham. Britain's homemade
rocket enthusiasts sit you on the top of
20.00GMT (CH4 TV) TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH: THE
SECRET UNDERWORLD. Underwater, underground
exploration. Ecosystems based on sulphur!
10.30GMT (BBC1 TV) OMNIBUS. On George Lucas, Dark
Lord of the Sith.
19.30GMT (BBC2 TV) THE SCI FILES. This week:
Computer Hackers. Vanessa Collingridge fans
21.00GMT (CH4 TV) CUTTING EDGE. It's the one where a
group of Tory friends sit around, have a
dinner party, and say highly controversial
things that get them into newspapers.
02.00GMT (BBC2 TV) THE OSCARS. Trainspotting is up
for an award. They have to show clips. Pray
for the toilet sequence.
17.30GMT (Webchat/RA) Post-Oscar discussion with the
US TV Guide's film editor.
00.15GMT (BBC1 TV) ANNIE HALL. Kookiness and
INTERNET EXPO, WEB WORLD AND E-MAIL WORLD
Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
<<<<AND SO ON>>
Okay, I'm back. How was that? Frankly, I think that
'Next week' section needs another look; It's too
long, badly formatted, and what is this anyway The
TV Times? And "culture"? Mmm. Great name, guys -
The news stuff I'm happy with - is it useful? too
dull? Overall, it's more geeky than I imagined, but
I think that's due to me knocking this one out on
pretty much on my own (my cultural attache pal Dave
is currently dead with a disease). With other
people's suggestions, it should blend out a bit. It
certainly seems doable on a weekly basis.
Talking of missed deadlines, the original plan was
to release this on Friday morning. I may rejuggle
this to Friday 3PM allow us to review *next* week's
weekly mags (which generally arrive on Friday).
Well. I'm pleased I've managed to get this prop out
before my period of enforced net.isolation while I
do Oblomov. I'm going to take a long break, and
then come back to this. God will bless you
thricefold if you send us a quick mail telling me
what you think, and whether you'd be interested in
forwarding the odd scrap to NTK-now from time to
time. We'll do nothing with it until May, at which
point we hope to burst fully armoured from our own
heads. Or something.
Thanks for reading, and do let me know.
We need to know.
D. (and D)