"We don't tell people America Online owns CompuServe, and
we don't want people to know."
- BOB PITTMAN, President of AOL
...those "forums" are more heavily moderated than we thought
>> HARD NEWS <<
Penny for the packet! As if Northern Ireland hadn't
suffered enough, BT announced a new bare-bones Internet
service to be trialled there this Summer. No e-mail, no
newsfeed, no Webspace, but no charges - apart from a measly
one pence extra on every minute you call; peanuts to a
light Net user like yourself. Charges will be billed to the
calling number's bill - so expect to see spammers armed
with acoustic couplers at your local phonebox. Stunned
"industry consultants" blustered about reporting BT to
Oftel for their devilishly monopolistic scheme - apparently
unaware that it was practically Oftel's idea in the first
place. The watchdog predicted this sort of service over a
year ago, giving it the nod on the understanding that the
smarter ISPs would grab a Telco license, and undercut it
with free IP provision when they started receiving telco-
ish revenues from the phonecall charges. ISPs like, say,
Easynet, who - just coincidentally - activated their
telephony system days before the BT announcement. Looks
like *somebody* made the connection.
- Geocities, Dejanews and Hotmail are in for a fun time
- sorry if we're repeating ourselves here...
- mind you, some people have had free Net access for months
AOL finally paid $287 million up front for MIRABILIS.
Hardcore ICQers protested that this meant they were now
AOLers - an effective demotion (in official Net pecking
hierarchy, ICQers are slightly above AOLers while still
below IRCers, MUDders, and Koko the signing Gorilla). AOL
was quick to deny a complete merger, saying that they
considered ICQ merely a "portal" to the Windows desktop.
Can't knock the theory, although with all the security
flaws in ICQ, it looks like it's *everybody's* portal to
your desktop. Our recommendation for the next AOL purchase
- ICKill, a ICQ script-kiddy exploit which purports to
allow users to spam other ICQers, but in fact installs a
permanent backdoor into the spammers' system, allowing it
to be remotely controlled by ICKill's programmer. 35,000
unwitting users so far, and growing every day!
- now that's what we call an online presence
- design straight out of AOL's free Webspace
More Brit buy-outs: in an intriguingly reversal of his
namesake's baby-splitting strategem, DR SOLOMON and his
cohorts have merged with Philistines NETWORK ASSOCIATES
(producers of the arch-enemy McAfee NetShield and
VirusScan) for a cool $640 million stock swappage. Not a
bad price for the company McAfee used to call "Dr
Dolittle". In another awkward fit - perhaps a fit of panic
at Amazon's imminent arrival here - WHSmiths bought out the
Internet Bookshop for UKP 9 million - less than the
recommended retail price, we'd say. And what are WHSmiths
going to do with it? If their real world shops are anything
to go by, they'll dump everything except the big cookery
hardbacks, stick all the interesting stuff in a corner
that's too crowded to browse comfortably, then put all the
batteries behind a secure firewall in case people try and
shoplift all the electricity.
- impossible to get service here, too
- includes unsolicited praise from one Mr Borg
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
LABOUR's pre-election crypto policy "disappears" from
Website... SKY quietly changes slogan from "we like coming
first" to "we like *being* first" ... US-based OLGA sheet
music archive shut down; hope the Eastern European mirrors
can take the traffic... DNS white paper "inconclusive"...
WRIGLEY'S trademark phrase "Won't Stick To Most Dental
Work"... TURK gets jail for insulting police in chat
room... heavy lifting "kills your back", UNIVERSITY OF
CALIFORNIA decide... this week's employer humiliation: The
INDUSTRY STANDARD - http://www.ntk.net/doh/ts980609.gif ...
AIN'T IT COOL claims that 40% of Star Wars 1 rushes are
out-of-focus "probably exaggerated"... FLORIDA woman to
"give birth on Internet"...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
It's 50 years since MANCHESTER'S first "STORED PROGRAM
COMPUTER", though frankly we'd be more impressed had been
running the whole time - doing the accounts for the
Hacienda, programming drum loops for the Stone Roses,
automatically generating the Oasis catchphrase "Mad for it"
etc etc. To celebrate, the whole town will be going "Mad
for IT" (clever wording, we know) - from retro-emulator
fans reconstructing the original "Baby" (Hunt The Wumpus,
anyone?) to the cutting edge of modern low-computing-power
robotics: a 100-quid Micromouse face-off.
- "concert" features neither The Smiths nor Kraftwerk!
>> TRACKING <<
performing mime types
Do you demand cutting edge technology *and* frequent
reboots? For those with a blue screen of deathwish, we're
picking Real Network's Preview Release of RealPlayer G2
over Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 Developer Release.
IE 5.0 introduces nothing but a bunch of DHTML extensions
you'd never stoop to using, and yet more parochial
Microsoft dialects (Want to view pages without annoying
browser buttons? Just change all your .html files to .hma!
Will they never learn?) G2, on the other hand, is
chillingly good. The stereo audio sounds like - well, real
stereo audio. And the video? It's like having a tiny telly
on your monitor!
- a very tiny, badly tuned telly that keeps imploding
- Both are Windows only. Because they're used to it.
Didn't I used to have a Dungeons and Dragons berserker
character called "Brian Behlendorf"? Suppose it must be a
different one to *the* BB, herd-master of the Apache free
Webserver effort. Hope so. Anyway, he's just announced the
stablest Apache version yet, Apache 1.3.0. Incorporating
twelve months of tweaks and fixes - with a minimum of
feature creep *and* a Windows port - the Apache gang are
saying it's time to upgrade. And who are we to roll against
- Quick! Fetch me my Hammer of Serverload!
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
"STAY ALERT" caffeine gum... HotWired designers on more
drugs: http://www.absurd.org/ ... Shatner to rap Julius
Caesar speech in FREE ENTERPRISE... Quake DOCTOR WHO...
http://www.scn.org/newspeak/ ... should be a porn site, but
isn't, no.1: http://mobydicks.com ... DIFFERENTIAL POWER
ANALYSIS smartcard cracks... dare you return to MECCANO
PARK http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/3270/ ?
... Skeet "Scream" Ulrich to play Mitnick in TAKEDOWN
movie... FIGHT YO' MAMA - the beer that'll "make you square
off and hit somebody"... proof of an Apple/Nazi conspiracy:
http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/25/2518.html ... not
that it's the return of "stupid URL tricks", but host -t
ptr 18.104.22.168 ... shouldn't be a porn site, but is:
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
TV>> LOST IN SPACE (7.15pm, Fri, BBC2) concludes with
Blake's 7 fans, as does INVASION: EARTH (9.30pm, Fri, BBC1)
- with *about* 7 fans! [chortle]... John "Dark Star"
Carpenter takes a peek IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (10.25pm,
Fri, BBC1) and finds people going mad from reading books -
a human variant of the "Good Times" virus? - and part of a
new BBC Friday horror double-bill, unbelievably called
"Fright-day"... of all the movies the Beeb *should* be
showing in widescreen, why not Ridley Scott's postponed
BLACK RAIN (10.20pm, Sat, BBC1), rather than lame yuppie
"comedy" wallow CLUELESS (9pm, Sat, BBC2)?... "blah-blah-
Tarantino gritty-no-music failed-heister" was just what we
said about DOG DAY AFTERNOON (9.55pm, Sat, C5) when it was
last shown on C4 back in January... Sontaran-necked Mark
Kermode breathes heavily over 25 YEARS OF THE EXORCIST
(10.30pm, Sat, BBC2), then of course they're not allowed to
show it... FLASH GORDON's alive! (3.30pm, Sun, some ITV) -
more than can be said for many of those involved, like, er,
Freddie Mercury... those pesky asteroids are back in Arthur
C Clarke adaptation TRAPPED IN SPACE (8.55pm, Sun, BBC2)...
and here's hoping for plenty of commercial breaks in
Italian arthouser THE ICICLE THIEF (12.50am, Sun, C4) -
about a director annoyed by irritating TV ads... a slightly
more haunting depiction of autism in kiddie drama HOUSE OF
CARDS (10.20pm, Sun, C4) than, say, cult radio adaptation
SPOONFACE STEINBERG (9.50pm, Tue, BBC2) - see also the
CHILDREN'S HEALTH (10.20pm, Thu, BBC2) series focusing
(briefly!) on Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (are
they deliberately taunting sufferers by regularly changing
the name?)... James Earl Jones does hilarious Darth Vader
cameo in cute historical courtroom romp SOMMERSBY (8pm,
Mon, BBC2)... new six-part series BEG TO DIFFER (11.30pm,
Mon, C4) promises to be both "irreverent" *and*
"satirical"... and over on satellite, the SLIDERS (9pm,
Mon, Sky1) arrive on "unused sets from Timecop" world...
while STAR COMMAND (10pm, Mon, SciFi) may be the "4th
bloodiest sci-fi film ever", with 1,200 confirmed kills
( http://magi.com/~rhdf/scms/scms.html )... reassuringly,
it's the original version of the best film ever, BLADE
RUNNER (11.10pm, Tue, most ITV) - according to my memory
implants, somehow even more authentic than the supposedly
authentic "Director's Cut", if you know what I mean...
FILM>> it's offbeat family saga time! Best (and longest) is
Robert Duvall producing, directing, writing and starring as
Jesus-filled preachin' machine THE APOSTLE (imdb: drama /
religion / minister / pentecostalism)... Pfeiffer, Lange
and Jason Leigh are sisters battling over King-Lear-alike
A THOUSAND ACRES (imdb: drama / based-on-novel / pulitzer-
prize-source / sibling-rivalry)... and it's African-
American clans "Waiting To Ingest" some of that tasty SOUL
FOOD (MPAA: rated R "for some strong sexuality and
language")... not a big Hollywood week elsewhere either:
somehow the fact that it's a Brit-made costume spoof
undermines STIFF UPPER LIPS (imdb: "co-produced by Isle of
Man Government")... check out the racy settings of multiple
partner-exchange fest THE BIG SWAP (imdb: "Locations:
Bristol, Clevedon, Weston-Super-Mare")... while Leicester-
set 1970s coming-of-age athleticism tries to keep up with
THE GIRL WITH BRAINS IN HER FEET (imdb: drama / comedy)...
so, our surprise recommendation: the witticism-packed
script of ungrammatically titled rom-com HOTEL DE LOVE
CORRIGENDA, ADDENDA, ETCETERA>> You'd think we'd get this
one right; in response to last week's bite-the-hand-that-
feeds-us VIRGIN NET piece [NTK 05/06/98], David Clarke
(Managing Director, Virgin Net - uh *oh*) writes to point
out that contrary to our snipe, Virgin Net's "three month
trial ended in February 1997!" and request that Danny now
be escorted from the building. Fortunately, the Chief
Financial Officer of the ISP steps in with this career-
saving justification: "If you did the free monthly trial,
and then switched to our annual package (12 months for the
price of 10) you would, indeed, still get three months
free." Exactly what we meant to say - and what great value,
eh, readers?... No such sparring from similarly-dissed
PIPEX, who in a weird synchronicity, cancelled Dave's e-
mail account a day after we ran a PIPEX bounces mail story.
Apologies for any errors accessing email@example.com at this
time... NORTEL deny their Digital Powerline generates
interference [NTK 15/05/98] - anyone in the trial area with
a SWR meter like to indulge us in some fact-checking?...
while the FUTUREVISION story gets stranger and stranger:
see http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~crypt/other/blitz.htm for
author Tom Maddox's take on more spooky coincidences
between the company's press release and his X-Files
episode... in NTK 08/05/98, we said that DOS browser
Arachne couldn't do frames. It can, and we've felt guilty
ever since... as we have over the numerous complaints from
Lynx users about our Website's illegibility - let us know
how the new format looks, kids!
>> 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 "30 days to sell out date"
NEED TO KNOW
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