"Negroponte is just like any ordinary rock star. He gets out
of the plane and when he walks down the stairs he still
doesn't know which country he is in."
- ex-DIGICASH employee on the bankrupt company's board member
...well, it's all atoms, right?
>> HARD NEWS <<
lack of clues
"Just give us your fokking MONNY!" pleaded this week's
rather more self-serving version of Live Aid, seemingly
daring Euro MEPs to see who could propose the craziest
online anti-piracy measure. International petitioners
including The Corrs (Ireland), Jean Michel Jarre (France),
and The Spice Girls (2 years ago) scored a rare hit with a
ban on unauthorised web cacheing (which surely wouldn't
affect those "secure" new distribution systems that the
music biz has so much faith in); next is a levy on blank
CDs, guaranteed to win the sympathy of everyone who uses
them as, say, the data storage they were originally designed
for. We're with Malcolm McLaren on why record sales are
really in decline: because punters can hear their favourite
genre, varying endlessly, on the multiplicity of FM radio
stations. As the Phonographic Industry's Frances Moore
pointed out, it's "like a music company giving away its most
precious asset" - only he was referring to MP3s appearing on
"an Internet bulletin board".
- they come up with all these cool amendments...
...then (natch) stick with the original
After this ear-bashing, the EC wouldn't do anything as stupid
again, would they? Hey, perhaps they *already are*. Last
month, during the ongoing privacy discussions between the US
and Europe, officials representing the EC began suggesting
that not only is caching illegal, but so is storing IP
numbers. Because IP quads can refer to an "identifiable
person" (well, no, they refer to identifiable machines, but
do carry on), even those logs that your Webserver holds
could be in breach of EC law. Thankfully, we're guessing
that the British Data Protection People wouldn't be so insane as to
implement this - but, it's still a sparkling demonstration
of the clue-vacuum at the heart of government. On the other
hand, this one's been fed to us third hand and via the US
authorities but when the second hand was Vint Cerf, who
exactly were they trying to fool?
- search for "privacy". ironic, since it's supposed to be a closed list
From four sources this week, we've had tales of woe
regarding WHICH ONLINE. How their marketing department has
gone rogue, how they're now flogging products from their
Website (legit, but not quite right, yes?), and - most
damnable of all, how if you want to escape from their free
trial offer without paying for the full month, you have to
*write* to them, begging to be taken off. And if we don't
investigate them, who will? Let us know if you've any
stories, and we'll entertain you with a Cook Report style
punch up involving plenty of white goods.
- ISP of the Consumers' Association? When do we get shares?
- not that cook report. idiot.
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
the Cringely on that free PC thang:
new king of Jordan appeared in Star Trek: Voyager once...
old king however no good at Web design deadlines:
http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo/day.html ... "Couples break up
because of decreased levels of satisfaction in the
relationship - not because they stop loving each other",
uncovers REUTERS ... best Tinky Winky site:
"Parents should be aware that the cards feature the same
impudent and vile language as the series" ... British Police
Unpopular, suggests poll... not even the HOME SHOPPING
NETWORK can flog HOTWIRED? ... ICA local funding halved - this
time not by PC thefts... Linus don't surf SLASHDOT... BT
considering postponing ADSL to "end of this year", the
*bastards*... trial MICROSOFT shows speed difference between
Windows 95 and 98 (by using different speed modems)... SF
restaurant offers free food to those tattooing themselves
with their logo... NZ to give Great Apes rights, Gibraltar
less enthusiastic - and Charlton Heston *furious*...
>> ANTI-NEWS OF THE YEAR <<
"Grateful Dead to release MP3s"
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Tech journo Wendy Grossman may lead a double-life as a folk
singer, but somehow we doubt she'll be kicking off her talk
MY LIFE AS A SKEPTIC with EMF's incredulity anthem,
"Unbelievable". Be cool though, wouldn't it? It's all part
of Skeptics In The Pub, believed to be Britain's only
regular skeptics event: 7.30 pm, usually the third Thursday
of each month (in this case 1999-02-18), upstairs in the
Florence Nightingale pub, London SE1. Skeptics and
non-skeptics are welcome to discuss science, pseudo-science,
the paranormal, alternative medicine and postmodernism, and
presumably to have huge arguments about whose turn it
*really* is to buy a round...
- "some British skeptics appear to have reservations about ASKE"
- that's the spirit!
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
We all know that net.artists are absinthe-swigging buffoons,
with not the wit to sponge their drool-stained chins as they
stare uncomprehendingly at Macromedia Lingo manuals;
half-lifes who spend their fat grant cheques in the
bawdy-houses of Hoxton and clog up the arteries of The Great
Work with their sclerotic Web pages clogged with feckless,
Photoschlocked mundanity. Bleating non-descripts, crowing at
their own uncommercial purity even as they lick the ass of
state and commerce with their manipulative talk of
Interactive TV and Educational Community Projects.
Stupid people who... who... smell of wee. Anyway,
the 12-HOUR ISBN JPEG PROJECT, we like. Firstly, it
does what it says on the TCP/IP packet: a brand new
monochrome JPEG to download every twelve hours.
Secondly, the creator, Brad Brace, has been doing it for
FOUR YEARS. Thirdly, he uses ftp and an alt newsgroup to
propagate it: protocolically correct and righteously old
skool. Fourthly, it has some hack value: cronjobbed with a
shell script, it makes a charming, low-bandwidth, desktop
wallpaper. And finally, he *really* pisses net.artists off
by spamming their mailing lists with ASCII art. Reeespect.
- hey, looks pretty geeky
- oh. oh, well
- cronjob for bash 'n' WindowMaker
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
DAVE WINER apparently unaware that killer app for
http://www.mailtothefuture.com/ is suicide notes... oh no!
*more* Heath Buntings! http://www.d-b.net/dti/ ... using
whois as a contact manager... Joe-Bob Briggs back from
grave: http://www.tnt-tv.com/monstervision/this_week.html ...
ORANGE going 14.4K?... "rock the deathstar" seems too easy
the Americans are "adapting" FAWLTY TOWERS... you know, we
preferred it when he was just eating our balls:
http://www.pcgamer.com/thl/ ... STARSHIP TROOPERS: ANIMATED
SERIES - yes to mobile infantry power armour, no to mixed
shower scenes... maybe it is all weather balloons:
http://www.accuweather.com/weatherf/ufo_qx01 ... Trip and
the 3DO guys get it in the -uh, neck at
http://www.gaminginsider.com/ ... bad handwriting = bad
person http://www.myhandwriting.com/analyze/hlltrt5.html ...
they *wish* http://www.tnt-tv.com/movies/tntoriginals/pirates/
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
may contain strongly-typed language
TV>> BBC2's Comedy Zone has never looked funnier:
unconvincing nostalgia rubbish DAYS LIKE THESE (8.30pm, Fri,
ITV) is literally Carsey-Warner's search-and-replace on the
US "That 70s Sh**" (s/Red Forman/Ron Forman/ s/Jackie
Burkhardt/Jackie Burget/)... presumably her involvement in
that dire Spice Girls "spoof" qualifies Kathy Burke to spoil
the flow of Mark Lamarr's gags in NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS
(9.30pm, Fri, BBC2)... and, in common with over 58 per cent
of her output from 1982 to 1992, there is either partial or
full Greta Scacchi nudity contributing to WHITE MISCHIEF
(10.25pm, Fri, BBC1)... Howard Stableford gazes enviously on
the Ballykissangel success of former colleague Kieran
Prendiville, while he is left probing the mind and brain on
OPEN SATURDAY (9.15pm, Sat, BBC2)... another WW2 weekend,
with apologetically titled ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING
(12.35pm, Sat, BBC2) and A BRIDGE TOO FAR (8.55pm, Sat, C4),
plus sci-fi's David McCallum in the plywood-framed MOSQUITO
SQUADRON (2.15pm, Sat, BBC2)... surprisingly, it's the same
Colin Wilson who wrote both "new existentialism" bible The
Outsider and the trash space opera Space Vampires,
inspiration for lively Dan "Alien" O'Bannon, Peter "Double
Deckers" Firth slash nonsense LIFEFORCE (10.50pm, Sat,
C5)... no wonder Peter Berg went mad and directed those Very
Bad Things, after the sex-toy treatment he gets in THE LAST
SEDUCTION (10pm, Sun, C4) - 18 months since last showing...
other Valentine's Day treats include MEN BEHAVING BADLY, a
god-awful documentary about Gretna Green, a rape trauma
episode of THE LAKES, and the "Noreen Sleeps With Warren
Show" of DWEEBS (2.25am, Sun, C4) - believed to be the CGI
Keanu Reeves episode, not shown as part of original US
run... we've got ANIMAL POLICE (9.30pm, Mon, BBC1) and
ANIMAL ER (8.30pm, Mon, C5) but oddly no-one's doing ANIMAL
FIRE-BRIGADE... a nervous RIAA would very much like to BLAME
IT ON RIO (10pm, Mon, C4) but Michael Caine and Demi Moore
have little on Keri "Felicity, Dead Man's Curve" Russell in
an early TVM role in THE BABYSITTER'S SEDUCTION (10.45pm,
Mon, BBC1)... BBC2 flagrantly interrupts its regular snooker
coverage for some of those occasional episodes of SEINFELD
(11.15pm, Tue, BBC2), LARRY SANDERS and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE
SLAYER (6.40pm, Wed, BBC2)... isn't it weird how Alan J
Pakula "died" after making conspiracy-revealing movies like
All The President's Men, tonight's similar THE PARALLAX VIEW
(11.50pm, Thu, BBC1), and, er, The Pelican Brief... and, in
a plot twist we've seen only 5 or 6 times before, nanobots
aboard RED DWARF VIII (9pm, Thu, BBC2) have built a tiny
version of the old ship from 10 years ago, complete with
crew - minus those who had too much self-respect to
FILM>> Londoners obviously have different expectations of
what makes a good Valentine's date movie, with the
ultra-bleak talk-heavy Ben Stiller sex games of YOUR FRIENDS
AND NEIGHBOURS (imdb: sauna / sex / adultery / art-gallery /
black-comedy / cruelty / dysfunction / infidelity / lesbian
/ mysogynists / relationship) - after this, Neil "The
Company Of Men" LaBute hopes to move to screwball slapstick
comedies... or Roberto Benigni's Italian-made sub-Chaplin
homage LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (imdb: holocaust / wwii), which is
either a charming triumph of clowning over adversity, or an
irresponsible Allo Allo-style attempt to make fun out of
concentration camps... fans of naming films after songs will
be pleased to see that the poster for mildly unusual
hypnosis love-story DON'T GO BREAKING MY HEART (imdb:
comedy/ romance) features the tagline "He couldn't if he
tried!" - clearly an improvement on the original title, the
motivational soundalike "Us Begins With You" (geddit? "U"!
oh, never mind)... and maybe it's half-term or something,
going by the frenzy of daft family films: least annoying
should be semi-Romanian Billy Crystal curio MY GIANT (imdb:
car-crash / monastry / monks / movies / sport / wrestling)-
Michael Lehmann's gone from Heathers, Meet The Applegates,
to The Truth About Cats And Dogs - and this... the naughty
8-year-old antics of MADELINE (imdb: based-on-novel / family
/ kids-and-family) sound silly, but not as dumb as bad dad
Michael Keaton coming back to life as a snowman in largely
pointless f/x weepie JACK FROST (imdb: MPAA: Rated PG for
mild language) - not to be confused with the similarly
themed straight-to-video horror release of the same name...
A PUNISHMENT YOU CAN TASTE>> the egg-spawning continues,
with the crazy paved Easter grenade fragmenting into CHEWITS
BUBBLE-EGGS (25p packet of 6) - hollow dino eggs, related
to the original Chewits genus in name only, much like other
Leaf bubblegums, but with fantastic "foaming" flavours. All
the fun of eating soap, without that unpleasant "soap"
taste... upcoming CADBURY'S YOWIE -
http://www.cadbury.com.au/yowie - is already usurped by
euro-Kinder-clone CRAZY ZOO (40p), also offering mutatable
animals for the junior geneticists of tomorrow... meanwhile
Cadbury's excellent MINI EGGS have jumped species to the
thriving ecosystem of chocolate "pudding corners" - not as
good as the MUNCHIES choc/toffee version, Mini Egg lids tend
to peel off in supermarkets and refrigerate rock-hard... the
"fat free" revelations continue, with FRY'S (ie CADBURY'S)
TURKISH DELIGHT relaunching as "92% fat free (and always has
been)", but it turns out that an ordinary Mars Bar is (and
always has been?) 82.4% fat free - presumably better for you
than a bag of GO AHEAD CRISPS - only 80% fat free ... reader
"recommendations" have flooded in for HARIBO MILLENNIUM BUGS
("repackaged Starmix gelatine gum sweets labelled 'Bugs,
Viren, Virus'" - seen in Sainsburys, anon), MACCORNS CHEESE,
CHOCOLATE AND BACON FLAVOURED POPCORN
(http://www.maccorns.co.uk - 99p, seen in Aberdeen Spar, Ali
Daniels), and Nestle's rapid response to the Crunchie
Explosion, the WONKA EXPLODER BAR ("Chocolate and space
dust: one of the more bizarre oral experiences" - Jane L
Trobridge)... most romantic Valentine's cash-in strangely
isn't TESCO'S "KISS KIND" GARLIC BREAD (95p - 10p more than
usual), nor MR LAZENBY'S SPECIAL SAUSAGE (59p, 4oz, contains
oysters, premium pork, ginger), but none other than KP SKIPS
stepping on Lovehearts territory with a "secret love
message" revealed to your beau when they vigorously rub your
packet (ho ho). Not sure that empty crisp bags have the
emotional impact of cards and flowers and chocolate, but it
couldn't hurt to try...
>> 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 "liking boiled food"
(http://www.multimap.com/uk/ still intact. phew.)
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