Review of '97, big TV, readers' efforts, Happy New Year!
Microsoft smacks back, OpenGL losses, Paarty!
Yahoo hacked, OpenGL victories, DOJ smack Microsoft
Cybersquatting blues, MSN puzzles, and the return of the FiReD
Bactel spurned, hackers liberated and the erotic olympics
Gates as Caligula, ISO Java and .NOT
FOOF bug, Easynet goofed, good food
E-on bust, Kashpureff nicked, Apple silly.
StrongARM tactics, laser ban,
Sci-Fi Con 2.0
Microsoft naughtiness, Quake II, Mark Leyner
Cassini, Survival Research Labs, SlashCon
Sun vs Gates, Pickering and the ZX Psion
Worldcom, IE4.0, and Negativland
Crypto weirdness, Easynet moneymaking and Win95 cracking.
Holiday Special #5
MiniNTK - by the seaside.
Holiday Special #4
MiniNTK - the nation mourns.
Holiday Special #3
MiniNTK - to "Di" for.
Holiday Special #2
MiniNTK - "the one with all the urls".
Holiday Special #1
MiniNTK - live from Mir.
HIP fallout, surveillance and kites.
Jobs & Gates, game.com and HIP '97.
Boys for the Jobs, Clan Negroponte and Sci-Fi Archaeologists.
LINX update, Virus wars, ECAL '97.
Internic spazzes, fibre slashes, and the dreaded Ecstacy
Amelio goes, NHS hate TTP, and Hard *ptuii* Wired.
Windows 98, Mars, and no "Independence Day" references.
CDA, Cousteau, Access All Areas the third.
Psion, Iridium, and Lee Harvey Oswald.
Comcast, Viewdata Revival Movement, Osmose.
Microsoft in Cambridge, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Earplugs
Sega/Bandai, Robert Anton Wilson, Perl Conference
Crypto, Ken Campbell, the Beeb. Michelle.
Final Beta - Rhapsody, MIDI Karaoke, Jimmy Hill.
Second Beta - BIB, The Hugos, Geek Golf.
First Beta - Brandname tattooing, bad Deep Blue predictions.
Appalling first efforts.
[Hi, Dave here. Dan's currently visiting the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert and, as he normally does all the cool technical stuff, I thought I'd make this a special "Reader's Responses" issue, kind of like an FAQ, but without the jokes. For the benefit of any new-ish readers, I guess I should emphasise that this still isn't the "real" weekly Need To Know, which is still on holiday till around mid-September. But you know, once you've got a taste for sending out this sort of thing on a weekly basis, it's hard to give up.] [Hi, Dave again. Sorry this is a bit late, but I realised - only at the very last minute - that I didn't know the email address that I needed to send the finished copy to. See what I mean about Danny being the technical one?] __ __ _29/08/97 _ _ _____ _ __ <Nasty, British and Short> | \/ (_)_ __ (_) \ | |_ _| |/ / o Join! Mail 'subscribe ntknow' | |\/| | | '_ \| | \| | | | | ' / o to email@example.com | | | | | | | | | |\ | | | | . \ o Website (+ archive) lives at: |_| |_|_|_| |_|_|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\ o www.spesh.com/cgi-bin/now "Has anyone else noticed how the answering machines in Babylon 5 sound like a super-futuristic version of BT's Call Minder service: 'You have... THREE... Messages, Message from, Mr Donald, Message from, Readers Digest, Message from,...'" - subscriber Russell Paterson, Milton Keynes >> MINI NEWS << big questions Q. What news would you have done this week then? A. Hmm, tricky. I quite liked the sound of the Texas company with the "theoretically unbreakable" private-key email encryption system - who are offering a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can crack a brief message in under a year ( www.ultimateprivacy.com ). Be good to see them go up against folks like http://rc5.distributed.net/ ... that controversial Basque/pro-ETA terrorist site is back again, this time on quite a cool Brit anti-Censorship/PICS site ( www.easynet.co.uk/cam/censorship/ehj/ehj.html )... then there was "Whitehouse Sues Matt Drudge For $30 Million" and "Netscape To Write All-Java Browser", though technically those are both borderline Anti-News (see below)... Danny was very keen on some nonsense about someone "patenting" the word "Swampy" but I reckoned that was probably a spoof - because, right, I can understand that you could register it as an official trademark (for loads of cool Swampy merchandise) but surely *patenting* would involve proving that you had invented the whole idea of a boldly tunnelling young man who captured the hearts of a nation... look, it's been a slow news week, OK? Microsoft, where were you? Q. What kind of news do you cover? A. [OK, Dave, I'll take this one - Dan] *Interesting* news. We cover a lot of technology/Net stuff (Microsoft vs Apple, Microsoft vs Netscape, Microsoft vs Your Mother) because our research indicates that NTK subscribers generally a) have a computer, b) use the Internet, c) aren't clueless newbies who think all of this stuff is "booring" and "unimportant". We cover it from a UK point of view because by doing so, as one reader described it, "[you] no longer need to get wound up checking over-serious west coast tech wank news sites". We do cover other news too - in the past, we've written on surveillance, direct action events, hacking law, Peter Snow's move to Tomorrow's World, censorship, and other geek issues. But mostly, we just bleat on about Microsoft. We try to avoid material that's covered in the mainstream press - partly because you'll have read it before, but mostly because it's completely wrong. Q. How do you support it? Why do you do it? Am very curious. (- Mike Butcher, News Editor, New Media Age) A. Well, we get some support (use of computers, server space etc) from our sponsors (see the end of the doc), but essentially we do it for the hell of it. We've got about 700 subscribers so far, and that's not too bad considering we haven't done much promotion yet, and are currently on holiday. We haven't yet figured out any good ways of making any money out of it, but at the moment that doesn't really matter - I reckon that because we don't have any charges or ads or lame registration systems, we can take on pretty much anyone. Like Kevin Spacey says in The Usual Suspects: "They realised that to be in power, you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the *will* to do what the other guy wouldn't." Q. Why do you hate Wired so much? A. Another one for you, I think, Dan. http://www.spesh.com/danny/wireduk/index.html >> TINY ANTI-NEWS << no surprises there Q. What are all these other sections about? A. OK, let's take it bit by bit. First up, Anti-News is supposed to be the antithesis of real news, and something we thought up once when some PR company sent us a press release touting the fact that The Shamen planned to put their new single on the Internet. "This isn't news," I exclaimed, incredulously. "This, in fact, is its diametric opposite. If the Shamen *weren't* releasing their new single on the Internet - now that would be news..." So, for instance, among this week's Anti-News would have been the remarkable revelation that US net mags are dying like flies, with Internet Underground, The Net, NetGuide, and "many, many more" either ceasing publication or going on indefinite holiday. The best excuse comes from the publisher of The Net, who shamefacedly confessed: "We were sort of in the position of educating our readership not to read the magazine. After 12 issues of the magazine they knew enough about the Net so they could get most of what they needed online." Damn those pesky readers, eh? http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9708/28/netly.news/index.html >> MICRO CULTURE << places to visit - pizzas to go Q. Pardon? A. Yeah, this is like stuff you might want to do that (for whatever reason) doesn't involve a computer. Personally, I'm hugely excited about this KLF gig at the Barbican on Tuesday, but if you can't make it along there, the mighty Namco have just opened their latest "fun centre" down in the old County Hall building in London (Westminster or Waterloo tube, next to the Aquarium), and featuring the still hard-to-find (and remarkably excellent) Sega Lost World coin-op. NTK says: check it out. Q We've seen what you put in - is there anything you leave out? A Hmm, how about this lively piece of sci-fi rock showbiz gossip: "My friend (struggling cartoonist, designer) has been commissioned by none other than Gary Numan's manager to make a customised loo-seat as a present for Gary Numan's forthcoming wedding. It depicts Gary in Star Trek gear shooting a Borg with a phaser, as his bride-to-be swoons on his arm, dressed in a leather catsuit." >> TEENY TRACKING << it's in the room with us Q. You really don't know anything about this bit, do you Dave? A. Well, no - as round-ups of the latest software/hardware upgrades go, it's really not my speciality. Dan said I should plug MTU-Speed ("enables you to change the appropriate Windows 95 registry settings to maximize your speed on downloads... can speed page and file downloads by as much as 200 percent just by keeping packet size aligned with the transfer unit size"). Well there you have it. http://search.shareware.com/code/engine/Find?archive=cnet- win95&search=mtuspeed.exe&and=&orfile=on&name=&hits=25 Next Yoz Grahame chips in with "I've found a new web scripting language!" Apparently it's called Curl; Yoz excitedly adds that it "looks like LISP (what else do you expect from MIT?)" and that it may well turn out to be "incomprehensible bollocks". You decide. http://www.cag.lcs.mit.edu/curl/ Then I go and spoil it all with something lame like "apparently the Game Boy Pocket is now out in five different coloured cases, *including transparent*." Do Nintendo know a lot about flogging you the same product over and over again... or what? >> KIDDIES MEMEPOOL << hasta la altavista Q. What's Hawking/What's Dawkins? A. Alright, we got a bit carried away that time, but essentially this the latest buzzwords, cool sites and random jargon to drop into conversations (or AltaVista, whichever is more convenient). This week, among other things, I would certainly have plumped for the Teletubbies RPG ( www.mhairi.demon.co.uk/ttrpg.htm ), the news that many N64 games won't ship till after Christmas ("Analysts say Nintendo can still do well as long as its new Diddy Kong Racing game and other major titles do not flop") and, well, that MPEG3 clampdown clearly hasn't worked, has it? >> MO' MEDIA << less attitude [responding to NTK observation that the "Geek Like Me" episode of Sabrina - The Teenage Witch was shown twice in four days] I hate to say it, but the word "incompetence" springs to mind here. Remember that this is the channel which is showing Sabrina reruns when they haven't even finished showing the first run yet: there are still five unscreened episodes left over from the run which finished in April. They've also taken to censoring it: the "whammy fanny" song lyrics have been cut out. But for geekus ultimus you can't beat the authentic portrayal we get in the character of Brian Krakow in the series My So-Called Life (rerun of which has just finished on C4). - subscriber "Shez" NTK: Thanks for your input Shez, though you Sabrina fans should also look forward to for the eventual TV debut of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin-off series, which is almost exactly the same show, yet - incredibly - cuter and more terrifying BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. TV>> Sunday is BBC2 night, with STEPHEN HAWKING'S UNIVERSE (7.45pm) leading up to the often entertaining OUTER LIMITS (8.35pm), some stuff about bullying, then the wildly underrated Winona Ryder movie REALITY BITES (10.10pm) - tough competition for Tim Robbins as THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (10pm, Sun, C4)... funny TV ads from other countries form the highly original premise of RORY MCGRATH'S COMMERCIAL BREAKDOWN (9.30pm, Tue, BBC1)... yet another relaunch for clunky old TOMORROW'S WORLD (7.30pm, Wed, BBC1), now hosted Scully-and-Mulder-style by Philippa Forester and Peter Snow... still, the real X FILES are back (Wed, 9.30pm, BBC1) with really quite a dull bee-keeping cliffhanger; we prefer the repeats of SLIDERS (6.45pm, Wed/Thu, BBC2)... oh, and most people would surely rather spend 10 years in a futuristic prison than have to endure the similarly themed tedium of NO ESCAPE (11.15pm, Thu, BBC1)... MOVIES>> it's pretty much CONSPIRACY THEORY (action / thriller / conspiracy / computers) vs THE FULL MONTY (comedy / stripper)... Conspiracy Theory has Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick "Picard" Stewart, direction from Richard "Lethal Weapon" Donner, and some nice references, but ultimately a bit confused... The Full Monty is some unemployed blokes (including the guy off Hamish Macbeth) turning to erotic dancing; funnier than you'd think, but not exactly undermining the theory that British cinema now just means costume drama and smut comedies... >> GENERAL KNOWLEDGE << local anaesthesia Q. Why does the newsletter seem to have lots of different names? What's all this about a real magazine? A. For historical reasons, Need To Know is the new name for Need To Know (Now) - Britain's Most Sarcastic Weekly Technology News E-zine. Need To Know Review is the forthcoming spin-off print publication of Need To Know (previously known as Need To Know (Now)). In the (unlikely) event of another publication contesting our claim to be "Britain's Most Sarcastic Weekly Technology News E-zine", NTK will partially retract the statement by claiming that, the phrase, in itself, is intended to be sarcastic. Logically, this therefore makes us the most sarcastic again, and so on, to infinity. Q. Where did you learn to do HTML like that? Dachau? (- Stevan Keane, Managing Editor, Yahoo Internet Life) A. Cheers Stevan. The web page is in fact designed to operate efficiently with most browsers, and makes extensive use of bold courier as an act of solidarity with the legally troubled Drudge Report ( www.drudgereport.com/ ). We are painfully aware that the URL script doesn't parse tildes or terminating full stops correctly, and Danny will be endeavouring to correct this as soon as he gets back from having such a good time in the US, the bastard. Q. I'm thinking of doing my "own" NTK? Where should I start? A. [Hi - Dan here again, ingeniously anticipating your queries before I went away.] Well, obviously we don't recommend it, but if you're that determined, here are some of the sources that we use to liberate information, then claim it as our own: SITES: http://www.newshub.com/ - Great automated news links site http://www.teletext.co.uk/couk/new.htm - The Award-winning Teletext site http://www.bluesnews.com/ - Gossip and facts from the Quake Underground http://www.zdnet.com/uk - Rupert Goodwin's pad http://www.ditherati.com/ - Nice, snipy attitude. Where we would steal our quotes, if we could get away with it http://www.linkexchange.com/webnews.html - The News in Links http://www.leeds.ac.uk/law/pgs/yaman/yaman.htm - Yaman's Cyber-Rights Page http://www.pcpro.co.uk/ - Funny headlines http://www.wired.com/ - The Bit Of Wired Ventures That Will Survive http://browserwatch.internet.com/news/news-current.html - Tracking Aid http://www.gmsv.com/ - very American, but that's why we like it MAILING LISTS: http://www.computerwire.com - insanely great UK news service http://www.tipsworld.com - generic mailing list selector http://www.desk.nl/~nettime/ - mad Euro-artist rant zone http://www.tbtf.com/ - "Tasty Bits From The Technological Frontier": terrible name, great list http://www.apacheweek.com/ - News about Apache, the freeware UNIX Webserver http://www.blackdown.org/ - Home of 0xdeadbeef, the informative funny list http://www.fringeware.com/msg/sub.html - FringeWare News from Austin http://snyside.sunnyside.com/home/ - Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility http://www.btwebworld.com/communities/newsite/crn/note1.htm l - UK Communities Online http://www.dis.org - The DEFCON mailing list http://www.access.org.uk - The Access All Areas Mailing List http://www.educom.edu/web/pubs/pubHomeFrame.html - Edupage AND FINALLY... Q. What about Doug Hofstadter's research group in Indiana? He's into machine implementation of woolly, fluid concepts and stuff, only he uses very restricted domains so it often looks like his programs are doing trivial shit. I was just wondering whether he's taken seriously by the AI mainstream... - subscriber David Pape, via postcard, on holiday in Greece A. Anyone? Anyone? >> SMALL PRINT << Need to Know is (usually!) an interesting UK digest of things that happened last week or might happen next week. You can read it on Friday afternoon or print it out then take it home if you have nothing better to do. It is compiled by NTK from stuff they get sent. Registered at the Post Office as "not usually this self-referential". NEED TO KNOW THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK. Archive - http://www.spesh.com/cgi-bin/now Excuses - http://www.spesh.com/ntk Unsubscribe? Mail firstname.lastname@example.org with 'unsubscribe ntknow'. Subscribe? Mail email@example.com with 'subscribe ntknow'. NTK now is helped by VIRGIN MEDIA, VENUS INTERNET and UNFORTU.NET. They worry about us, but we don't worry about them. (K) 1997 Special Projects. Non-biz copying ok, but retain SMALL PRINT. Tips, news and gossip to firstname.lastname@example.org.