_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the UK>
| \ | |_ _| |/ / _ __ ____20/03/98_ o Join! Mail 'subscribe ntknow'
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|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\|_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/ o http://www.ntk.net/ "Douglas Rushkoff writes that watching his PalmPilot link
with his PC 'was like watching a mouse rape an elephant'.
Such casual use of a violent metaphor is a sad reminder of
the 'toys for the boys' attitude that is so common in the
computer industry, an industry that is still, apparently,
geared towards the satisfaction of male sexual fantasies."
- GUARDIAN ONLINE reader EZRI CARLEBACH
the sexual fantasies of male mice - or male elephants?
>> HARD NEWS <<
overly worthy views
Okay, this is getting *silly*. It's now over a month since
the UK government almost announced their policy on key
escrow. Following that flurry of cancelled meetings, DTI
officials said that an announcement would follow in "in
another two weeks". Then we got the strongest hint yet that
a statement would be made today in answer to a written
question in Parliament. But now the DTI are now saying that
it could happen - "within the next few days". Not that
we're complaining: the ideal solution would be no statement
at all. But we're curious as to the postponement. Could it
be to do with the fact that this week Janet Reno, of the US
Department of Justice, finally stated that they were not
pursuing the domestic control of strong encryption? Or that
this was the week when BT Labs cracked a weak version of a
relatively new crypto-system, demonstrating the importance
of strong protection? Or that this was the one week that
Whit Diffie, inventor of public-key encryption and vocal
opponent to key escrow, is over in the UK? Maybe not. It's
probably just the DTI trying to stop the Home Office
pushing through an old policy that not even its DTI
creators believe in any more. Gad, are we that cynical?
- cops say no to key escrow
- illegal under last week's proposed EC legislation, by the way
- stop us if we're getting too sincere here
Good rule of thumb for prospective Murdoch partners: if he
seems as pleased with the deal as you are, you're missing
something. Newscorp, until recently happy to file LINEONE
under "ingenious tax write-offs", have been having a shakey
time with their BT co-owners. Despite increased
subscriptions (taking the service to a respectable 70,000+
from a rubbish 30,000 six months ago), and a swift tie-in
with the BIB digital TV boxes, both sides seemed itchy for
some payback. Enter United News & Media, who, with the
enthusiasm of the Net newbie, fork over ten million UKP for
a 33% share and the dubious privilege of sinking all
*their* hot media assets (Meridian, HTV, Anglia, PR
Newswire, The Express, Daily Star) into the obscurity of
LineOne's walled garden. Meanwhile, down amongst the walled
garden gnomes, veteran "virtual community" CIX got a
management buy-in from a group backed by Legal & General
Ventures. Cix "mom and pop" Keith and Sylvia Thornley get
to hang around for three years. Their role is undefined,
but will no doubt involve a lot of - what's that CIX
- the "two-dimensional" United Media Website
-L&G after those CIX bikers' insurance premiums, we guess
- I think we've lost the American readers on this one
SIMON "www.scallywag.org" REGAN *is* a bit mad, what with
his Princess Diana murder conspiracies, his louche
obsessions regarding Pamplona bullfighting, and his dogged
pursuit of unlikely sleaze against prominent politicians.
So when he got done for "borrowing" the contents of ex-
minister of defence Michael Portillo's hard-drive via a guy
who was supposed to be "cleaning" it for the MP, we assumed
it would be another unhappy story of a eccentric hack
getting done for his fixations. Luckily for Regan, the case
just got thrown out. And luckily for everyone else, a legal
principle was thrown out too. The Criminal Prosecution
Service attempted to nab Regan on the dreaded Misuse of
Computers Act. If this case fell, any journalist who -
wittingly or not - received data on a digitally stored
medium could be prosecuted for "unauthorised access to
computer information" - even if receiving the same data on
a piece of paper would break no law. The judge ruled that
the guy clearing the disk was authorised to copy it. Good
to see the old "for backup purposes" excuse getting a legal
- wonder how this effects the Gary Glitter case?
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
C|NET scoops with IE bug story Yoz broke in October -
http://www.yoz.com/ie40/ ... LIVE AND KICKING gets "busty"
computer-generated presenter... YAHOO! execs sell stock...
Marc Andreessen sells stock... Space Station "may be
delayed", admits NASA... POLYDOR takes down
www.ianbrown.co.uk message board: users, they say, not
talking enough about Ian Brown... Pentagon hackers turn out
not to be British after all... COMPUTER ACTIVE sells barely
20% of its 650,000 print run... BMG INTERACTIVE -
publishers of Grand Theft Auto, You Don't Know Jack -
bought out by fellow controv-mongers TAKE 2 - publishers of
Lula The Sexy Empire, Postal... Marvel's X-FORCE go to
Burning Man... "ISPs say Internet Demand Exceeds
Technology", reveals INFORMATION WEEK... Gates "speaks with
pronunced nasal drawl", uncovers REUTERS... STEVE BOXER
claims that Sega's OUTRUN was made by Nintendo... REBECCA
EISENBERG comes third in Net Diva poll, after Kim Polese
and Pamela Anderson... NASA astronaut takes Pilot on Mir;
forgets hotsync cable... you get a $10 discount off GRAND
THEFT AUTO in Australia if you have a parking violation...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Can't make it to Hannover, Germany for CeBIT, the "the
world's biggest IT event" [19/03/98 - 25/03/98]? Put off by
ZDNet's descriptions of "heavy rain", "sleet or snow" and
the "four-storey" Siemens Nixdorf stand, which apparently
requires its own elevators? Console your Euro-techno
yearnings with the news that, on 06/04/98, the BBC will be
recording a special German edition of TOP OF THE POPS, and
are currently looking for audience members, aged 17-25, to
be both "extrovert" and "German speaking" - undermining the
common belief that the two might be mutually exclusive.
- then next week, it's "CeBIT Home"!
- Beethoven? Kraftwerk? Nena? Culture Beat? FALCO?
Meanwhile, friendly neighbours of Germany, the French, are
holding their FETE DE L'INTERNET [20/3/98 - 21/3/98]. The
festival will include over 500 events, none of which
travels well via Babelfish, and is aimed at encouraging the
tardy French republic to throw off its Minitel chains and
take to the Interactive Malls. The uniquely Gallic addition
to the (digital) revolution is a "show trial" of the Net,
held in a real Parisian Court. The Net is accused of
murdering time, space and liberty, dividing society and
spreading filth and English. "A young handcuffed actress
dressed with specially designed 'cyber-clothes' will play
the defendant's role," adds the NY Times, unnecessarily.
- about time we had a reign of terror
- ou sont les GIFs des personnes nues?
>> TRACKING <<
We admit that we haven't play-tested VOODOO EXTREME's
recent battery of Golden Oldies, reinterpreted for the 3D
accelerated lifestyle, because we're still typing this into
a Hercules monochrome card - but we've had enough mails to
suggest you check them out. If you too have a 3D
accelerator, that is. The programs were written over a
short time-frame by intense young people who, in a more
civilized age, would have been burned at the stake for
their Amiga demos. Reviews are mixed: humble NTK subscriber
Canis Lupus requests you take a look at his Braben Virus-
inspired work CHAGA, while outspoken cartoonist Charlie
Brooker says that many of them are "frankly, rubbish. But
what the hey."
- this isn't going to help your popularity one bit, Brooker
Continuing this week's "Not Tested On Animals" theme, NTK
is proud to report that SIGNUM 1100 DX *appears* to be a
beta software implementation of the Akai S1100 professional
sampler, although neither we (nor proper musician and
tipster Erich Wehmeyer) have the instructions or experience
to get it working properly yet. Erich also alerts us to the
imminent new version of TB303 soundalike REBIRTH (now with
"seamless Cubase interface", apparently), which we'll tie
in with our rumour that Rebirth distributors Steinberg may
soon do a similar deal with neat little Netherlands drum
- and you may ask yourself, "How do I work this?"
- no, not the ones with Shirley Bassey
- give the drummer some
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
GAMEBOY digital camera vs www.reality.demon.co.uk/tyco.htm
... imminent FALCO alert: www.teletubby.co.uk ... "DAVE
GREEN" bylines are tech journo equivalent of "Alan Smithee"
films, we hear... Amiga PREBOX... DILBERT TV show "next
season"... imaginative carbuncles at www.fat.co.uk ... ARM
floats... http://www.404notfound.com ... TIMES INTERACTIVE
present: http://found.cs.nyu.edu/dfox/monkey.htm ...
SPOILER ALERT: http://www.rhk.dk/users/neelix/st9full.html
... Acclaim to do SOUTH PARK videogame - will it be as good
as the www.enlightenment.org desktop?... LARA CROFT movie
to be produced by DIE HARD team... more euphemisms for
WANKER at www.pe.net/~scotta/digitalconcepts/wristpilot.htm
... WINDOWS DIANA... NETLINK techies leaving in droves...
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
why don't you turn in and do something less interesting?
TV >> yeah, this first series eventually runs out of ideas
and tonight's Trainspotting spoof is a bit predictable, but
the long-overdue repeats of THE ADAM AND JOE SHOW (11.05pm,
Fri, C4) are - predictably - bedsittingly brilliant...
Courtney Pine improvises a "Jazz Turing Test" at the climax
of TOMORROW'S WORLD MEGALAB (8pm, Fri, BBC1)... and,
disappointingly, John Grisham thriller THE CLIENT (9.30pm,
Fri, BBC1) isn't the Java-hearing courtroom drama we'd all
hoped for... if those aren't cosmetic contact lenses, then
they must be STARS IN THEIR EYES (7pm, Sat, ITV)... did
Carrie "Leia" Fisher get into script-doctoring (eg, Speed)
purely on the strength of the snappy dialogue in POSTCARDS
FROM THE EDGE (9pm, Sat, C4)?... after RUBY WAX MEETS
(9.55pm, Sun, BBC1), there's been almost enough to do a
whole Jerry Springer show on "We Interviewed Jerry And
Thought We Were Being Original And Cool"... and sticking
with the chat theme, THE ENTERTAINMENT BIZ (9pm, Sun, BBC2)
stalks the real-life Larry Sanders - Jay Leno, Conan
O'Brien, and (one hopes) David Letterman... tragically, the
UK won't be getting the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000'S
ACADEMY OF ROBOTS' CHOICE AWARDS SPECIAL on the Sci-Fi
Channel on Oscar night (with commentary on scenes from
Titanic, Good Will Hunting, Starship Troopers etc)... so we
say skip tedious luvvie-fest THE PLAYER (12midnight, Mon,
BBC1) for the warped notions about time travel espoused in
FOR THE LOVE OF (11.5pm, Mon, C4)... plus, continuing 7
days devoted to nature's very own polar solvent, the
maddest title of the BBC's whole Water Week has to be the
10-minute evolutionary psychologist musings in WET DREAMS
(10.20pm, Thu, BBC2)...
FILM >> some doubts about whether they really could extract
a DNA sample (mitochondrial or otherwise) from a single
eyelash, as they do in darkly arty futuristic thinker - and
A, C, T, G anagram - GATTACA (imdb: sci-fi / thriller /
drama / wheelchair / fraud / futuristic / mistaken-identity
/ swimming / paralysis / dance / vacuum-cleaner / blood /
space-travel / cellular-biology / gene-manipulation /
brothers / murder / police / detective). NTK forensic
experts say: ah, but what if it had *attached root or
sheath material*?... hours of fun for London cinemagoers
(the rest of the UK must wait 2 weeks), spotting
anachronisms from 1997 in the supposedly 1995-set
Tarantino-by-numbers effort JACKIE BROWN (imdb: crime /
comedy / heist / vulgarity / based-on-novel / gun / drama /
betrayal). Goofs include a '97 calendar, the video game 688
Hunter/Killer, oh and lots of slightly old, tired actors
wading through the usual Pulp Fiction-era dialogue...
subtler timeshifts betray THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (imdb:
action / romance / drama / father-son / twins /
swashbuckler / France / based-on-novel / royalty / prison /
french-revolution) - the DiCaprio cash-in claims to be set
in 1660, yet historical events suggest it's more like 1675.
Also, we somehow doubt that The Three Musketeers use the
word "tits" in the original novel..
FEEBDACK >> Our first real pledge for the anti-Microsoft
Bill-a-thon! Following Monday's NTK Live Show (all-too
unedited highlights at http://www.ntk.net/live/ ), MICHAEL
FUCHS - of Stanford medNET - promises "we will not purchase
a copy of FrontPage for each of our ten staff members.
Additionally, we pledge not to upgrade our copies of Word,
even as Internet Assistant for Word continues to develop
the most rudimentary capabilities." That's the spirit,
Michael; together we can beat that puny $30bn software
giant!... are you blind?, queries JAY: apparently,
Chieftain Tank Lasers aren't exclusive to Bull Electrical
["see" NTK 03/06/98], as the optic-friendly Army surplus
store in Nottingham's Cattle Market sells them as "5 mile
range, non-eye safe - would suit hobbyist." Begging the
question, writes Jay: *what kind of hobbyist*?!... LEON
BROCARD argues that our lame URLs so far haven't been
"silly or long enough", backing the claim with a list of
his top 50 - see http://www.ntk.net/longerthanthis/ -
including that megasyllabic Welsh village, plus the oxford-
behind... DAVE MURPHY was equally unimpressed by
www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk (for grunge-punk band
Therapy?) - those darn RFCs, hey?... after our last
magazine round-up [NTK 13/03/98], an, er, ANONYMOUS READER
gleefully spills the beans on a focus group he attended for
a new "digital imaging" mag, which he describes as looking
"like a bad cross between .net and Amateur Photographer."
It might be from Future, it might cost a fiver, and it
might be called "Image". It's like Ain't It Cool News
around here... finally, a couple of quick omissions/
corrections: JON PETERSON recks that Macromedia Fireworks
is just a "re-hash" of Fauve Matisse, which came with the
company when they bought Xres: sorry, Jon, we were
struggling with the less ancient PC beta... and second, BEN
MOOR points out that Tracey Ann Oberman, rather than Trevyn
McDowell (as we claimed), is the Comedy Nation actress
allegedly obsessed with science fiction (especially Dune).
NTK apologises unreservedly for any distress caused...
>> 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 "Linux enough for you?".
( http://www.eklektix.com/lwn/ )
NEED TO KNOW
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