_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk>
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'the most powerful woman on the Net' - on to me."
- Esther Dyson
...although it's mostly just Dyson/Gates slash fiction
>> HARD NEWS <<
free to use
If there's no such thing as a free lunch, how come everybody
wants in? FREESERVE continues to jerk the chain with Dixons'
announcement of 900,000 accounts - over half of which are being
used! - although Dixons chairman Stanley Kalms didn't say it
with the hugest of grins. Perhaps that deal with Energis
(you get the interconnect charges: we'll take the ad
revenue) wasn't the corker he imagined? AOL, who months ago
were boasting of their 500,000 figure, now say they've found
some hiding under the servers, and really have a million
customers, because after all, each household can have more
than one e-mail address, right? And that scary ghost-woman
off the telly ads, she counts too. AOL also sniped
that Freeserve's figures were "disingenuous", which implies
that they don't know what that word means. We couldn't
confirm several reports that AOL/COMPUSERVE are misleading
wavering users with "Freeserve about to announce charges"
claims - although our test unsubscriber seemed very pleased
with the *two* free months she was bribed with - free ISPs
everywhere! Unpleasantly needy BRITISH TELECOM, meanwhile,
are asking Oftel for a bigger cut of the interconnect
charges "to support the cost of the local loop". Ah, yes,
that publicly-subsidised wire into everyone's home - what
an albatross around the neck that must be. Of course, poor
as an orphan child and straddled with restrictive Oftel
controls as it is, BT would never co-operate on implementing
a free Internet service themselves - or would they, TESCO.NET?
- our prediction: everybody free by 2000
- followed by the xDSL apocalypse
- tips for cheapskates
Nice to see Librettos being put to better use than as
portable Quake-stations: last Monday, RODDY MANSFIELD and
his associates from the video newszine UNDERCURRENTS
barricaded themselves into Shell's London offices to protest
the company's mistreatment of the citizens of the Niger
Delta. Hours later they were forcibly expelled by police,
who smashed through partition walls to arrest them. Despite
Shell cutting off light and electricity, the team managed to
issue press releases and photos via the 133Mhz Tosh, a
cellular modem and digital camera. It's a hack that could
have wider applications. As previous Undercurrents docs have
shown, Police officers at protests have taken to arresting
legitimate videojournalists. After being released without
charge, their tapes are returned too late for mainstream
news programmes to use. In some cases, the police actively
erase footage. Now, hardware hacker that you are, you'll
realise that a handheld videocam feeding into a digitiser,
broadcasting via a line o' sight link (2500MHz? 1900MHz?) to
a mobile archive centre would provide these impromptu
censors - and us eager Max Headroom fans - with... well,
must-see TV. Think you'd like to help develop such a
monster? Give our operators a bleep.
- unconnected with undercurrents, we hasten to add
- but, you know, if we do come up with anything
And finally - a moment's silence, please for what must be
the Falco du Falco. As of this Thursday, ACORN COMPUTERS is
no more. In a statement to the press, the Acorn board
(Hermann Hauser, Lesley Judd, Ian Macnaught-Davies, and
Commander Jameson off of Elite) declared that "the brand
values associated with Acorn are no longer an accurate
reflection of the work that we are undertaking", and a new
name was needed. And here it is: Element 14. Brand values
associated with this new title are: confusion, discord,
Milla Jovovitch, and barely restrained giggling. Element 14
will concentrate on the Digital TV market. The symbolism,
you understand, is from Silicon, which is the fourteenth
element. The name does not derives from the fact that
Acorn's new boxes run like they're powered by fourteen Acorn
Electrons. Show some respect.
- but you can call me Si
- I know I keep asking this, but what's a Falco?
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
Web tips from the GUARDIAN EDUCATION SUPP 1999-01-12
"Warning: keep images small and only use 1 or 2 per
page."... number of images on new Guardian front page:
sixteen... PRINCESS DIANA's face patented (hope the plastic
surgeons got a royalty too)... PUBLIC ENEMY release new
single as "MP4" (one louder, we take it) - live up to name
by including virus in executable... ANSWER ME's Jim Goad
gets three years... shit hits the ION STORM:
Dublin band calls itself "Workstation"... ANNALS OF
IRREPRODUCIBLE RESULTS declares the official Y2K scapegoat
to be: Bill Gates (runners up Jesus and Pope Gregory) ...
it's grim up North - but not *that* grim
http://www.ntk.net/doh/bbc990113.html ... BUGNET withholds
1998 bug-free award, says all software is "abysmal",
especially Windows... JAMES CAMERON says films not making a
profit so they should double ticket prices... cypherpunks to
kidnap that Irish girl, shotgun-marry her to
(btw, mind you, at least she's onto something -
http://jya.com/flannery.htm for details)... SLATE classes
itself, as "office supplies" on credit card invoice -
http://www.ntk.net/doh/slate990115.gif - isn't that what
they put porn sites under?
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
They say his hatred of Microsoft dates from the day Bill
Gates humiliated him at a developer conference after he
asked an innocent question from the floor. Now ERIC RAYMOND,
editor of The New Hacker's Dictionary, author of The
Cathedral And The Bazaar, Neo-Pagan, Anarchist Wacko and
Saint, will be taking *your* questions - and because of our
tyrannical gun laws, he'll be unarmed. Will Bill take this
brief window of opportunity to hit back? Or will Mr
Raymond's mastery of the ancient art of Tae Kwon Do protect
him? Find out, by not paying Netproject's 300UKP, and going
instead to the London Commonwealth Conference Centre in
Kensington, London, at 1915GMT, 1999-01-20, where the London
Unix User Group are exhibiting him for free.
- as in speech, not as in beer. well, unless you're buying
- get your company to pay. that's how free software works
Post-consumer sarcastic man-children LEE AND HERRING return
to our Sun am TV consciousness in March, but genuine stalker
obsessives can catch their live practice runs at the
Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London at 5pm Saturdays from
tomorrow (1999-01-16) - and yes, you even have to pay for
it. Further details are at the self-explanatory "Lee And
Herring Web Pages", along with 30 mins of exclusive
out-takes from the last series, including unseen editions of
"Pause For Thought For The Day", "When Insects Attack", "The
School", and "Histor's Eye" - the absence of which,
admittedly, was one of the highlights of the last live one
we went to.
- "quick before I'm told to take it down again!"
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
A couple of "not ready for prime time" tools for you this
week. We've mentioned Windows shell replacements before (in
the form of market leader LITESTEP), but for those of you
with a yen to sample, say, an OpenGL desktop that throws old
windows ten inches *behind* the screen, or - blasphemy of
blasphemies - a port of Enlightenment for Windows, Floach is
your place to visit. All beta code, all rather silly. Begone.
- the bigger the screenshot, the longer the time wasted
Not sure about this one, but it squeaks in by virtue of
being a Plucky British Startup. It's a Windows only GIF/JPEG
optimiser that operates in a sensible, backgroundy way
(automatically refreshing GIFs from changed Photoshop files,
semi-automatic cutting-up large images to form mosaics for
HTML tables, etc). The authors say they're keen for
suggestions: we'd humbly suggest losing the complex
crippleware registration, dropping the price big time,
porting it to the Mac, and perhaps including some actual
pictures on the perversely textual Website. Moan, moan, moan.
- "More GIFs" "Better off on the Mac" - what *are* we saying?
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
MOZILLA stumbles - http://www.mozilla.org/status/ ... BT
ADSL trial extended to July - AAARRGH! ... an ICQ->E-mail
gateway? How sick is that? ... PRODIGY users "used to stick
gaffer tape on monitors to mask the 'new' banner ads" -
allegedly... friendly new HSBC name for Midland stands for
Gibsonesque HONG-KONG SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATION... it's
an EC directive that cosmetic ingredients have to be listed
in LATIN... Swamp Thing artist JOE ORLANDO dead (but did
they find the body?)... "It takes approximately 25 min to
download the MPEG video demonstration" -
http://www.dog-diaper.com/ ... emote, Darwin, emote!
... what is Stephen Wolfram *up* to?... you know the joke
already http://www.specialeditioncigars.com/ ... inevitably,
http://www.studiocreations.com/trooperclerks/ ... GEORGE
COSTANZA to visit VOYAGER... "taking the guesswork out of
nuclear terrorism", writes our contributor:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/amex/bomb/sfeature/blastmap.html >> GEEK MEDIA <<
may contain strongly-typed language
TV>> if out-of-nowhere TOP OF THE POPS (7.30pm, Fri, BBC1)
presenter Kate Thornton looks vaguely familiar, it's 'cos
she also "presents" C4's nauseating cookery Blind Date clone
DISHES (6pm, Thu, C4), and appeared on LWT's yoof issues
show, Straight Up, with a looky-likey of Brit uber-hacker
Simon Gardner... giant computerised building goes mad,
imprisons Paul "Aliens / Mad About You" Reiser in derivative
'90s disaster sci-fi THE TOWER (12.35am, Fri, some ITV)...
but it whiles away the hours waiting for the repeated,
predictable but cute, birthday party episode of top geek
sitcom DWEEBS (4.40am, Fri, C4)... ANIMAL MINDS (6pm, Sat,
BBC2) presents a largely uncritical view of non-human
"intelligent" behaviour - not a million miles away from
BBC1's concurrent GENERATION GAME... but THE NATURAL WORLD
(5.55pm, Sun, BBC2) restores some balance by exposing the
darker side of those evilly grinning dolphins... caution:
PROJECT ALF (5.20pm, Sun, C5) is the feature-length ET-style
spin-off of the muppetty TV show... while this dedicated soul
saved you the trouble of watching Anna Friel's dark, erotic,
repeated drama THE TRIBE (11.05pm, Sun, BBC2)... the "Better
Than Life" episode of RED DWARF (9pm, Mon, BBC2) is not
based around what Craig Charles said when he got off on that
rape charge... "How Come I'm Appearing 'Naked' Again In GQ?"
is unlikely to be among Gail Porter's contributions to HOW
II (4.50pm, Tue, ITV)... and "no crypto system is completely
unbreakable" is the hidden message of four-part
Enigma-breaking Bletchley Park docu-drama STATION X (9pm,
Tue, C4)... SEINFELD / SANDERS (from 11.10pm, Tue, BBC2) pop
up unexpectedly: catch them before they're "disappeared"
again... a meek student visits a parallel universe where
Rutger Hauer is still making zany sci-fi trash in
CROSSWORLDS (9pm, Wed, C5)... mad (even by Chris Morris
standards) ambient sketch show BLUE JAM returns, boldy ahead
of the 2am watershed (12midnight, Radio 1, Wed)... and
fortunately BLOOD ON THE CARPET (9.50pm, Wed, BBC2) is the
story of how beardie-weirdie ice-creamers Ben & Jerry took
on Haagen-Dazs, and not the name of one of their new
FILM>> take up cinema's invitation to MEET JOE BLACK (imdb:
comedy / romance) and, after the first hour or two, you
really will be yearning for death's sweet embrace; it's yet
another overlong Brad Pitt vehicle where he plays the Grim
Reaper like Data out of Star Trek, and falls for Claire
Forlani, the girl who once asked Colin out in Press Gang...
so, worth tracking down THE OPPOSITE OF SEX (imdb: aids /
ashes / gay / road / sex) - The Opposite Of Widely
Distributed, more like - largely for Christina Ricci and
Lisa Kudrow punching up this patchily misanthropic designer
indie... else it's three films dealing variously with
improbability - appropriate given your chances of finding a
cinema showing them... Larry "Seinfeld" David's
mean-spirited fruit-machine payout-sharer SOUR GRAPES (imdb:
comedy)... interlinking Czech-made post-nuclear portmanteau
THE BUTTONERS (imdb: coincidence / episodic /
short-stories)... and Evil Dead-style over-grossing crime
thriller DOBERMANN (imdb: gangster) - not based around the
Sgt Bilko character of the same name...
MAGS>> double FALCOOOO! for superlame men's mag DELUXE (as
predicted NTK 1998-04-10, 1998-10-23) and - perhaps more
surprisingly - established gadget-pornster STUFF, leaving
Dennis Publishing's non-computer division with just MAXIM
and, er, HOME ENTERTAINMENT... our analyst blames "TV babe
tits fatigue", with Maxim, FHM and Loaded all losing
circulation here, which FHM and Loaded (and the resurrected
Stuff) hope to revitalise with upcoming US launches...
taking transatlantic inspiration the other way, EMAP's
foolhardy attempt to do a UK Entertainment Weekly will be
called HEAT (due Feb), prompting NTK contrib Lloyd Wood's
tagline: "Burn it for fuel"... meanwhile FRONTIERS
charitably puts "Tomorrow's World" in big letters on its
cover to both pay tribute to its deceased BBC Magazines
rival, and to con bemused mums into buying it by accident...
and no, that's not NTK ed Danny O'Brien posing with the
nekkid ladies on the latest DAZED & CONFUSED... newsgroup
gossip on the OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION MAGAZINE Rollcage compo
is that 23.10 is the time to beat; sources recommend a
"250kph start" and a "good line onto beach"... buying the
special Star Wars edition of VANITY FAIR reveals both the
identity of the mystery thing on George Lucas's knee, and
that the more you see of this new prequel, the worse it
looks... but mag of the month goes to HITS MONTHLY (UKP2.50)
who, in a bizarre double CGI-insect movie merchandising
coup, devote their Jan issue entirely to Antz *and* A Bug's
Life, with box-office battling stickers, posters, spotter's
guides to real insects, and cast list filmographies
obviously pasted (ahem) straight from the Internet Movie
Database, right down to the ordinal numbers and quotes
around TV shows: David Hyde-Pierce - 8."Frasier" (1993)
9.Sleepless In Seattle 10."Powers That Be, The" (1992)...
>> 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 "I think this means us"
NEED TO KNOW
THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK.
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