"Koko the gorilla will answer questions Monday on America
Online. Her tutor, Francine Patterson, will translate
questions between AOL users and Koko."
- AOL press release
I just had cybersex with a WHAT?
>> HARD NEWS <<
The week began with yet another Falco in the communal
morgue that is British Web design. Congratulations to
Andres Varela, who submitted his LOWE DIGITAL dead pool
prediction just minutes before being laid off from the
"reforming" Web house. To prevent NTK clogging up with more
bloated corpses anytime soon, we've taken up the kind offer
of those TeamManager folks and are have automated the whole
sick, morbid process. Rules are the same: choose the five
companies you expect to go Webmedia in our click-and-damn
Web page, and after the carnage, we hand out the spoils.
You *are* allowed to nominate your own company, but,
please, no individuals (apart from Nick Rosen who, by
popular demand, is a "special" case). Friends and relatives
of NTK may not enter. And neither can Paul McCartney, the
- Gentleman: stall your engines
- Andres' reward: a free job listing!
- sounds a little worried?
Blue scree- uh, skies ahead for Windows 98, as MICROSOFT's
latest meet with the US Department o' Justice played to
their side. Appeal court judges showed the requisite amount
of boredom when faced with the state department's case
against integrating Explorer with Windows 95, and noted for
the first time that this is all going to be moot when Win98
finally ships. Meanwhile, Jim Barksdale was upbeat about
Communicator's chances against 98, and poo-pooed the latest
buyout rumours. "We're a public company, so we're for sale
every day", he said. Hurry while stocks last!
- "he won't hit me in front of all these people, will he?"
- blue screens, and worse: Unix Fu arrives on the Win platform
PLAYBOY Enterprises continue to prove that big money from
the Net isn't *just* through porn, but also via America's
second-favourite hobby: litigation. The company's already
been awarded millions for "misuse" of its copyright online,
including suing one of their own models for describing
herself as "1981 Playmate Of The Year". And they've just
won $3million from AsiaFocus International for using the
word "playboy" in their meta-tags. Possible implications
for freedom of speech on the net are... ah, yadda yadda
yadda. What we want to know is: apart from their lawyers,
who's searching Altavista for Playboy, anyway? It's not
like the URL's that hard to guess...
- maybe Keith Teare's RealNames had a point
- still looking for a good bunting...
- OUP had better be careful out there
And well done to London's INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS,
who've had anti-elitist thieves liberate the bulk of their
workstations from their Sun-sponsored New Media Centre.
Sure, sticking the "Media Centre" in the middle of the bar
didn't strike us as a very smart move, especially after
spending an evening watching drinkers type aimlessly into a
root shell. The burglars worked at a less crowded time -
the middle of the day - and avoided capture by leaving all
the monitors, so no-one noticed anything was wrong. Maybe
they even turned up naked and pretended it was all part of
some ultra modern mime-ballet, or "de-installation" as we
think they're called. An E10000 server (worth around
250,000UKP) may have been among the loot: but as our
tipster writes, "with only about 15 manufactured so far,
it's going to be easy to spot it in a car boot sale."
- a lot faster now the server's gone
- police are looking for a Genet reader with an interest
in large scale e-commerce
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
WEBSPACE MAGAZINE profiles New Media Factory: "Business for
NMF is good", "The Factory also has an eye to the future":
NMF went Falco last week... FUTURE publishing sold - back
to founder Chris Anderson... "Microsoft PR Operates Openly
and Ethically," say MICROSOFT PR OFFICIALS... Game
journalists may be influenced by PR freebies, uncovers
SALON... NETSCAPE to offer free e-mail, inevitably...
IE4.0's Content Advisor won't let you see Microsoft
Europe's Website... TELETUBBIES site "educational", misses
apostrophe in "browsers"... 83% of British consumers "want
to visit local bank"... Times Interface's DR KEYBOARD
claims he *did* know how PGP worked. Wrong *again*...
DRAGON SYSTEMS claim copyright for phrase "say what you
see": somebody tell Roy Walker... Error message of the
week: "The Microsoft Exchange Information Store service
depends on the Microsoft Exchange Directory service which
failed to start because of the following error: The
operation completed successfully"...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
Freaks of nature, inexplicable appearances, alien behaviour
- and *that's just the delegates* to expect at THE FORTEAN
TIMES UNCONVENTION 98 this weekend [25-26/04/98]. Starts
10.30am Sat, at the University of London Union, Malet
Street, London; admission 25 of your Earth pounds for both
days, 15 per day separately; attractions include the US
editor of Strange Magazine, plus the world's worst sci-fi
writer, Lionel Fanthorpe, who'll - hopefully - be
reproducing Fortean TV's pioneering paranormal filk songs.
UnConvention 98 is presented "in association with Agfa
Digital Cameras and Scanners" which, given the ease of
Photoshop fakery nowadays, is surely taking the piss.
- but you clairvoyants knew all about this already, right?
Access... denied! Looks like Simon Gardner isn't putting
down his hard-earned cash (what is you do again, Simon?) to
sponsor an Access All Areas this year. So, at short notice,
the always-slightly-more-socialised northern phreaks have
thrown together a weekend of fun in BLACKPOOL, based around
the commonly held hacker principles: a) theme rides are
fun, b) trying to get into a contemporaneous proper
security conference is fun, c) eating chips is fun, d)
getting drunk is fun, and e) sleeping on a floor in a
specially-rented flat with a bunch of overexcited,
overinformed, grease-smeared layabouts like yourself is...
also a good idea. E-mail email@example.com for details of
accommodation; otherwise, check out the URL for the
"itinerary". Quick, quick: the weekend starts here.
- Blackpool crack rock
- said contemporaneosity
- and for you southerners, a London security conf [28/04-30/04]
>> TRACKING <<
thank god you found her
With the Kopyright Kops coming down hard on even MAME ROM
sites, lovers of retro games might be close to despair.
Hehehe. As if. For, tumbling out of the void, careening
wildly to save us all comes: the Originator, the Ur-
shoot'em-up, the Pride of '61, the only killer app the PDP-
1 ever needed, the reason why UNIX was written, the only
excuse we ever had: SPACEWAR! (Presented in living Java.)
- this article made me read EE "Doc" Smith at too early an age
- Stewart Brand presents type-in code in a 1972 Rolling Stone
"Spacewar serves Earthpeace."
Talking of copyright, we're interested in the moral
quandaries created by AmpRadio, the streaming MPEG3 server
that allows listeners to rebroadcast their choice of songs
to other clients. In an interview on mp3.com, its author,
Geoffrey Elliott, seems to suggest that because these DJs
don't need access to the MP3 file, legal microstations
could grow up. We're not so sure. For the meantime, it's
hanging out on a obscure port number near you.
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
SENSAR, company behind the new eye-scanning ATMs, has a
pyramid as a logo. fnord... http://dd.sh/ ... SUPERMAN
REBORN dead - time to resurrect the Kevin Smith script?...
www.undergroundlondon.com/bunny/ ...Catholic priest says
VATICAN in contact with extraterrestrials: well, we'd have
hoped so... http://www.drue.com/sleeplate/ ... current
frontrunners in Time's "Most Important People of the 20th
Century" include ROLF HARRIS and Dune's PAUL ATREIDES -
JOBS to appear on Letterman?... Bill Gates: REBOOT fan...
Next for Open Source list: IBM... best Web misspelling:
"Demonination"... nose leeches... hero for our times:
well, *this* looks familiar: www.techdirt.com/uptodate/
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
friends who don't answer back
TV>> no more Knight Rider or Street Hawk in the eco-
friendly '90s: PACIFIC BLUE (6pm, Sat, C5) presents beach
cops - on pedal-bikes!... the "get more ratings then get
the whole series cancelled" lesbian episode of ELLEN is the
main excuse for C4's COMING OUT NIGHT (9pm-5.40am, Sat,
C4), "a theme night exploring gay life and, specifically,
declaring oneself a homosexual" (thank-you, Radio Times).
Maybe it'll have a few surprises of its own, thanks to
"special guests" Alan Davies, Ulrika Jonsson, and Barbara
Windsor... it's before Thunderdome, but Mel Gibson's still
going downhill fast with MAD MAX 2 (10.55pm, Sat, ITV)...
similarly inspired, Bruce "Tron, Commander Sheridan"
Boxleitner sticks some WW2 fighter parts onto cars to
construct failed Glen A Larson pilot ROAD RAIDERS (3.10pm,
Sun, LWT + some regions)... Comic Strip director Stephen
Frears misses his chance to do a Brit version of BMX
Bandits in THE GRIFTERS (11pm, Sun, BBC2)... while Crichton
tech-thriller RISING SUN (10pm, Sun, C4) was widely
perceived as inflaming anti-Japanese feeling during
investigations into Nintendo's US business practices...
William Gibson's X FILES (9pm, Sun, Sky1) is just like
season one episode, "Ghost In The Machine" - ie, rubbish...
in a possible AOL-appeasing move, they've now changed the
title of the net-based remake of SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (9pm,
Mon, ITV) from "You've Got Mail" to "You Have Mail"...
what, they thought he'd be so taken in by her chummy charms
that he'd just admit the whole thing? strangely, this
doesn't happen when RUBY WAX MEETS: OJ SIMPSON (10.15pm,
Wed, BBC1)... HORIZON (9.30pm, Thu, BBC2) focuses on movie
special effects in movies, some of which are apparently
*computer generated* nowadays... cartoon WAYNEHEAD (4.20pm,
Thu, ITV) is "drawn from the real-life experiences" of
Damon "Last Boy Scout" Wayans, and, let's hope, is like a
cross between Eraserhead and Wayne's World...
FILM>> it's essentially the Bill Murray/ Woody Harrelson
10-skittle gross-fest Kingpin, plus the usual aimlessly
rambling Coen brothers nonsense, and Jeff Bridges as (or
not as) THE BIG LEBOWSKI (imdb: comedy / crime / mystery /
thriller / rug / porn-makers / wheelchair / paraplegic /
hippies / police-brutality / paedophilia / dreams / bowling
/ kidnapping / nihilism / artist / vietnam)... in one of
those odd coincidences, it's a *different*Joel Cohen who
wrote lame multiracial buddy movie MONEY TALKS (imdb:
action / comedy / murder / media), starring the screaming
camp DJ from The Fifth Element... but it's the *same* Jon
Voight and Claire Danes both appearing in U TURN (imdb:
crime / incest / drama / rape / black-comedy) and THE
RAINMAKER (MPAA rated: PG-13 for "a strong beating and
elements of domestic abuse")... Rainmaker is another by-
the-book John Grisham adaptation, dull if you'd hoped Matt
Damon was going to do Good Will Hunting II: "Now the
hunting - has become *the hunted!*"... while U Turn is
Ollie Stone's typically incoherent rework of new noir like
Red Rock West... talking of which, the novelty of reuniting
Linda "Last Seduction" Fiorentino with David "NYPD Blue"
Caruso is the only promising facet of BODYCOUNT (imdb:
crime / art-theft / comedy / drama / heist / doublecross /
vulgarity / murder)... which is more than can be said for
the direct, Harrison-Ford-free remake of The Fugitive, US
MARSHALS, whose description (imdb: action / thriller /
falsely-accused / wrongly-convicted / murder / police /
plane-crash / escape / chase / fugitive / escaped-convict)
could surely *never* be mistaken for its predecessor...
EDIBLE>> reader Josh Roulston draws our attention to
Kellogg's BRAN FLAKES "changing their name to HEALTHWISE
<insert laxative joke about what they should change their
name to here>". Thanks Josh, though we suspect that this
may be another "Mini Eggs" case [see NTK 23/01/98] of a
company trying to differentiate a product whose original
name ("Bran Flakes") is too generic to be successfully
trademarked (compare the Kellogg's to the very similar blue
and white Tesco's BF box). BTW, at time of going to press,
the domain branflakes.co.uk remains unreserved, as does the
slightly similar-sounding billgates.co.uk ... this month's
taste sensation: Cross & Blackwell's oddly titled NEW WAVE
"Mediterranean Style Pork Sausages With Tomatoes And Herbs"
- largely identical to Herta frankfurters, but with a yummy
almost-exotic spicy flavour, and last seen on special offer
in some branches of Waitrose... product name of the month:
Jaffy's CHE PITTAS "Heat 'n' Eat Cheese Filled Pittas"
(seen in Tesco) - tragically, no relation to Che Guevara,
the South American freedom fighter, but a "super new
teatime/ anytime snack" that cleverly pre-packs the
"delicious melted Dutch Gouda cheese" into the pitta for
you... abomination of the century: Silver Spoon's FRUIT
SPOONERS, a range of individually potted, flavoured
"compotes" from the sugar manufacturer - presumably
targetting buyers who eat just the watery jam bit of "fruit
corner" yoghurts and then throw the rest away... new source
for tracking US consumer trends: http://www.brandweek.com/
- 'cos they always arrive here eventually. We're already
drooling over this one: "Counting on the broadbased appeal
of Nabisco's ubiquitous sandwich cookie, Kraft Foods'
cereal division is planning a $45 million-plus marketing
splash for OREO O'S CEREAL this August, hoping to create
excitement among Oreo lovers both young and old and bring
much-needed spice to the sluggish ready-to-eat cereal
>> 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 "Gary Numan on 3 cups of coffee".
NEED TO KNOW
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