"The Internet too often resembles a cocktail conversation
rather than a tool for effective health care communication
and decision making."
- From the Journal of the American Medical Association
yes, doctor, but how often is "too often"?
>> HARD NEWS <<
EXCITE emphasised the "secondary" in its title of "the
Net's secondary search engine" this week, by offering every
schoolchild in the UK a free e-mail account, supported by
"suitable" advertising. Lots of fun questions instantly
arise: given that Web e-mail is about as insecure as you
can get, which teen hacker will be the first to write a
password grabber that lets them read the rest of the
school's mail - including the teachers? And who exactly are
"suitable" advertisers for kids? Crayola? Mattel? And given
that every e-mail address takes the form
firstname.lastname@example.org, will all children with names
ending in "f" get a brand new nickname?
- The "@aol.com" of tomorrow
Already a strong candidate for Antinews of the Year,
WEBMEDIA's collapse - what's the cliche we're looking for
here? - sent shockwaves through the UK Web design
community. As if there wasn't enough Shockwave there as it
is. Damage was concentrated near the epicentre, which might
explain the tsunami of invective directed at investors
Megalomedia on Webmedia's ex-site over the weekend. Sources
at Webmedia indicated that the accusations contained in the
hacked site were wildly inaccurate, but sources went a bit
quiet about why, in that case, Megalomedia stomped so
heavily on any site that dared to copy the accusations ...
for reporting purposes, naturally. In the meantime, ex-
Webmedia partner Ivan Pope is sniggering his way to a
couple of big announcements in the near future. Can anti-
Pope Steve Bowbrick fight back? Now that he's got a
comfortable consultancy, does he even care?
http://www.webmedia.com/ - the hack has gone
news:alt.anonymous.messages - but hold! What's *this*?
(if you can't see it, try on Monday)
When DENNIS announced the "suspension" of Net 'n' Chicks
'n' Games 'n' Lager magazine ESCAPE this week, the board
said they felt that "the market was not yet ready". What
they didn't reveal was that the market in question was
eponymous company owner Felix Dennis. Best known for his
involvement in the Oz magazine trial, when he was charged
with corrupting youth, and the BLENDER CD-ROM magazine
trial, when he was charged with corrupting AUTOEXEC.BATs,
Felix was holidaying in Mustique when he received the
latest issue of the mag. Unfortunately for everyone, it was
raining, and Felix actually read it. One phone-call
later, and it was all over for the plucky - if occasionally
absentee - team. Concerned Dennis employees are now
wondering where the Felix finger of death will touch next.
Hint: he was last seen flicking through a mag whose design,
it is said, he feels to be "art wank shit".
- "look who's stalking" indeed
Microsoft's new "charm offensive" got off to a bad start
this week. As reported by the frankly great www.tbtf.com,
Microsoft's Chief of Operations Robert Herbold was asked in
one of their "friendly" interviews how small firms could
compete with his company. Herbold said they had three
options: fight a losing battle, sell out to Microsoft, or
they could "not go into business to begin with because,
hey, if you're a betting person, you know which way it's
going to go." Elsewhere, Microsoft continued to discover
that you can't bullshit a bullshitter - especially such a
distinguished veteran as the US government. In court,
Microsoft handwaved through the files on the Internet
Explorer CD-ROM, and explained how Windows 95 just couldn't
work without them. Readers who've never installed Explorer
are excused wondering how they ever managed without;
readers who have installed Explorer should now understand
that they are never *ever* going to get rid of it. Judge
Jackson looked suitably underwhelmed. Where do you want to
go today, Microsoft, he seemed to hiss - Sing Sing?
- and this is them being nice?
- also via TBTF - how Microsoft screwed the UK 3D engine scene
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
"Breathing could be fatal" says cautious BBC... BSkyB
digital boxes delayed until June... shock survey reveals UK
Net users to be mostly white males (*very* white, in our
experience)... IE Explorer security bug... after decade of
"high prices have nothing to do with piracy", Microsoft
lowers prices in Asia "to discourage piracy"... EMAP banner
ad team curiously quiet about appearance of "L. Ron Hubbard
- had the wisdom" ads on client sites... Internet Business
mag lists "100 net firms tipped for success in 1998",
includes Webmedia Ltd... .Net's mailing list hacked, "due
to administrative oversight"... Ian Hislop sells out to
MSN... Digital TV will make teletext services "more
sophisticated," FT predicts... Lord of Realm's son admits
to buying "Grand Theft Auto" demo, claims "not motivated to
go out and steal cars"...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
pointers to class behaviours
Our distant cousin MUTE magazine, which we continue to
believe is the "art" to our "wank shit", is hosting a
CYBER.SALON (love the dot!) at the Upper Bar, White Horse,
16 Newburgh Street, London at 7pm on Wed 21/01/98. The
topic is "The Digital Artisans", and stars opinionated loon
Richard Barbrook and Anj Medhurst, who is (it says here) a
Technowhore. The show is co-sponsored by the Hypermedia
Research Centre, which is not, we repeat, is not, a front
for the Moonies - nor the MIT Media Lab, neither.
http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/hrc/ - "cyberbollocks"
It's the fifth anniversary of the most written-about MOO in
the whole darn MUDiverse. To celebrate, the "inhabitants"
of the MOO are having a costume parade (dresses designed by
Howard Rheingold - no, we're not making this up). It's
preceded by a jocular, fun-packed debate on "Virtual Worlds
for Business" with Adele Goldberg and Amy Bruckman, and a
roustabout discussion called "Who Sped Up The MOO?", which
covers technical improvements in the LambdaMOO
implementation. Be there or be a Gray_Guest! The show
starts at 11:30GMT on Tuesday 20/01/98. Sweetly, the
organisers "apologize to residents of Europe for the late
hour" - as if anyone who uses MUDs is up during the day.
http://www.ntk.net/mediamoo/invite.txt full details
And finally, music-biz tradefest MIDEM '98 hits Cannes
tomorrow (17/01/98) with seminars on digital radio, digital
distribution, digital techno, and (we suspect) a lot of
very scared record company suits denying that MP3 is a
problem. Among the exciting new talent entertaining the
execs are DJ Carl Cox, 80s rockers Daryl Hall & John Oates,
and - in a triumph of subverting from within - outspoken
- hey, even agit-proppers need a holiday
>> TRACKING SPECIAL <<
wavey davey where are you?
We'd have pursued our usual Tracking search for the best
new code and sites this week, but our bandwidth was wiped
out by helpful replies to our claim to have "lost track of"
net.pundit Wavey Davey W*****r.
It was Gary Taylor who first pointed us in the direction of
PC PRO magazine, where Davey apparently runs a regular
column under the byline "Dave Winder - author, freelance
journalist, broadcaster and consultant specialising in the
Internet and computer communications". Paul Agius reports
that one of Wavey's recent columns was "about a web page
called Davey Winder Haters." (That'll be us as well then -
in fact, it badly needs updating, but it's tough keeping up
with all the mail...) According to Paul, "He did not seem
to be amused." Hopefully, Davey offers a more cheery aspect
to his readers in top glamour title FIESTA, where Andy Stox
resolutely claimed not to have spotted another of his Net
We also received an e-mail about "a friend of a friend" who
worked with Wavey Davey on our previously featured video
GAMES ON THE .NET (still reduced to UKP1.99 at Virgin
Megastores). This FOAF claimed that Wavey Davey wore a
wooden leg throughout the filming. Well, that seems as good
a point as any to close the correspondence. We request that
any more sightings of Davey Winder - or any part thereof -
be sent to Davey directly at email@example.com,
where we understand he is always glad to receive your mail.
- we still have the unclaimed copy of micromachines, though
THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE: anyone got an MP3 or RA of Victor
Lewis-Smith's "never to be released" spoof call to Princess
Di, in which he pretends to be Stephen Hawking? Let's all
mail him at www.lewis-smith.com - the big coward.
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
Vertigo Comics hires Jack "Terraplane/ Elvissey" Womack?...
www.parascope.com ... Sony's smart video labels... Sega
president says sayonara?... www.rwalker.com/nscp.html ...
Is UK hacker Cyberjunky turning legit?... Yeltsin cameo in
"Weekend At Bernie's" sequel?... Richard Hamming, inwenuor
og tie Hamming Code, diee... ex-Wired ed John Battelle's
"Internet Industry Standard" out soon... Titanic F/X done
on Linux; UNIX roadmap based on Titanic's... Forget
www.dianabear.com (again), we want a "Leah Betts RIP"
ecstasy pill... Hey, JOHNNY RICO! How about the troopers
borrow A TANK?... Sonny Bono, Michael Kennedy and the "Lone
Tree" conspiracy... http://stomper.base.org/... new
videogame based on "Wargames"... next move for alcopops?
alconicotinopops!... http://observe.ivv.nasa.gov/ ...
Microsoft scanning *entire* IP number space from Redmond
(check for "generic" in your logs)... www.scallywag.org
*still* going? ... http://people.netscape.com/jwz/dadadodo/
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
TV/RADIO>> when we met Father Lionel Fanthorpe, paranormal
presenter of FORTEAN TV (8pm, Fri, C4), we advised him to
"play up the musical bits", and - inexplicably - he appears
to have concurred... other strangeness in Aussie sci-fi AS
TIME GOES BY (12.45am, Fri, BBC1), Spike Lee's extended
Public Enemy video DO THE RIGHT THING (12.45am, Fri, BBC2),
and Armando Ianucci smug-a-thon FRIDAY NIGHT ARMISTICE,
which promises a visit to Rolf Harris's Psychiatric
Hospital... some original cast (the voice of Orac!) return
for a pre-Gauda Prime sequel to BLAKE'S 7 (2.30pm, Sat, R4)
- Blake's extra 7 stone, more like... sure, the critics
(and the public) hated it, but action movies got way more
ironic after Arnie played THE LAST ACTION HERO (8pm, Sat,
ITV)... then, in an unfortunate similar-titles clash, Wil
"Wesley Crusher" Wheaton lays in a course for THE LAST
PROSTITUTE (12.30am, Sat, LWT)... so what is it,
Schwarzenegger season? - BBC1 follows last week's Junior
with equally weird kid-pleaser KINDERGARTEN COP (7.15pm,
Sun, BBC1), and C4 peers into THE ABYSS (9pm, Sun, C4) in
the company of old Arnie-cronie Jim "Director's Cut"
Cameron... wannabe model Tessa is complimented on "looking
like an alien" in BABEWATCH (8.30pm, Mon, ITV), while new
construction-vehicle series CLASSIC PLANT (8.30pm, Mon, C4)
opens with "Diggers" and is narrated by (the almost-
obligatory) John Peel... author of let's-all-be-brothers
sci-fi hokum ENEMY MINE (10pm, Tue, C4) says it was the
studio that insisted on the subplot involving a mine,
claiming that the audience "would not realise that the
'Mine' in the title was a possessive rather than an
object"... forget firing guns on planes - the rocket crew
in partial Alien-inspiration IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND
SPACE (12.05am, Tue, C4) have no qualms about letting rip
with a bazooka... your statutory rights are not affected by
the new series of effortful satire THE MARK THOMAS COMEDY
PRODUCT (11pm, Wed, C4)... sinisterly, ITV follows
straight-talking docu THE TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN (9pm, Thu, ITV)
with - you've guessed it - FATAL ATTRACTION (10.40pm, Thu,
FILMS>> the only good thing about Brit showbiz spoof BRING
ME THE HEAD OF MAVIS DAVIS (imdb: "comedy") is that someone
might kill Rik Mayall and/or Jane Horrocks to try and
ensure its success... don't be misled by the disco
soundtrack, the universally acclaimed BOOGIE NIGHTS (imdb:
drama/ 1970s/ disco/ adultery/ prosthetic-body-part/
mother-figure/ child-custody/ porn-makers/ title-based-on-
song/ drugs/ sex/ vulgarity) appears to be about a
different kind of "boogieing" altogether... Pacino overacts
in lawyer=Satan antinews DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (imdb: action/
thriller/ crime/ mystery/ animals/ art/ black-comedy/
black-magic/ corruption/ lesbian-scene/ sexuality/
insanity/ endless-loop/ supernatural/ incest/
psychological/ law/ courtroom/ devil/ law-suits/ twist-in-
the-end/ father-son/ drama/ erotica/ family/ flashback/
intrigue/ murder/ based-on-novel/ mythological/ horror/
religion/ sexual/ subculture/ surreal/ voodoo/ satanism/
subway/ lucifer)... Icelanders underact on weirdie comedy
DEVIL'S ISLAND (imdb: drama/ post-wwii/ 1950s/ barracks/
based-on-true-story/ camp/ humor/ rock'n'roll/ based-on-
novel)... and a man plays videogames while a house blows up
(among other scenes) in Serbian-made limited-release PRETTY
VILLAGE, PRETTY FLAME (imdb: war/ former-yugoslavia/ comedy
/ drama/ ethnic-conflict)...
TO URL IS HUMAN>> It was http://www.uni-pen.co.uk , not
http://www.uni-ball.co.uk. It wasn't
http://www.gothicclassifieds.com, it was
http://www.gothic-classifieds.com . What can we say? Tim
Berners-Lee always said these things weren't supposed to be
comprehensible to humans.
>> SMALL PRINT <<
Need to Know is a useful and 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.
It is registered at the Post Office as "exploited".
( Thanks, Dennis J. )
NEED TO KNOW
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