"It was a lark. We're a software company. This is our first
foray into hardware."
- Colin Smith, inventor of the iVase
...and not - phew - Larry Ellison on the "network computer"
*** SPECIAL "LINUXWORLD" EDITION - NO LINUX NEWS WHATSOEVER ***
>> HARD NEWS <<
mission to confuse
Quantum cryptography may be the hot new encryption topic, but
for real examples of spin, charm, and downright strangeness,
check out the UK state's ongoing crypto collapse. This week
Ian Taylor, the man behind the Tories' attempt to enforce
mandatory surrender of private crypto keys, appeared to be in
two different positions at once, claiming that he'd "changed
his mind" about the old policy, and now didn't want it at
all. In the alternate universe of Whitehall, radioactive
sources say Tony Blair countermanded Jack "having a few
problems with the 'colour force' myself" Straw, and has
stated that key seizure is to be a last resort: "Key escrow
is not the answer", he said. Instead, the Cabinet seems to
want a "Manhattan"-style thinktank - of the wisest minds that
Microsoft, BT, ICL and other *famously* clever dinosaurs can
muster - to invent an alternative to key escrow that will
"satisfy the requirements of law enforcement". A challenge
indeed, given that no-one in law enforcement has ever
explicitly stated what it is they want (apart from "your
private keys, please"). Oh, and to ensure a really great
technical solution, the group has only three weeks to
formulate their alternative (by April Fool's Day, natch),
else it's back to escrow again. Meanwhile, that infamous,
infinitely delayed DTI consultation document came out midday
today: *very* defensive and "welcoming suggestions" about the
whole business. So it's all gone a bit Heisenberg: you can
see how fast things are moving in government - but observers
still have no idea where they're at.
- reader's voice: didn't you do a physics analogy 2 weeks ago?
- shut up, we explain
- not quite the "alternative solution" we're hoping for
ITV's plan to replace News At Ten with Bond films has somehow
carried over into newsprint, with "Blackmail Hackers Take
Over Military Satellite" making the front page of last week's
SUNDAY BUSINESS instead of just the listings for GOLDENEYE
(8.35pm, Wed, ITV). Reuters retracted*, the Beeb said it was
impossible, the Telegraph printed a nice diagram, and the MOD
denied that there was anything wrong with the Skynet
satellite - "but they would say that, wouldn't they?", eager
hackers cried. But then *they* would say that, wouldn't they?
"Hackers control military satellites" was of course the US
media mis-information used to justify the heavy-handed
crackdowns in the '80s... so perhaps it's a coded warning. Or
maybe it's just the spirit of August 29 1997 all over again,
when one of NTK's dedicated staff ping-flooded any machine
with "skynet" in its domain name. Sure, the sysops were angry
but, when told it was a precaution against Skynet becoming
self-aware and deciding mankind's fate in a microsecond, many
seemed to understand.
- careful: too many of these and it's "Hackers Download...
...DIY Infowar Manual" headlines all over again
* reports of the retraction were then later retracted...
As connoisseurs of the low-budget cable-TV net show milieu,
we're as excited as anyone by the prospect of ".COM",
starting on Telewest around end of March - especially when it
at last confirms that appearing on these programmes costs you
not just time and credibility, but often hard cash as well.
Maybe we're reading this wrong, but the email to webmasters
leaked to us states: "The cost will be UKP350 inc VAT per
site to have [your site] reviewed in Surfers Paradise and
UKP29.95 inc VAT to have the URL and a 20 word description
placed in the Data Blast at the end of the show". Blimey,
those site reviewers are more expensive than we thought...
- can't even hack it so "other" sites win
- last rapped Telewest for 18-cert trails on Cartoon Network
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
DEMON MD observes that he employs "tossers" in company-wide e-
mail: http://www.ntk.net/demon/ ... PIRATES OF SILICON VALLEY
cast includes "Geeky Computer Scientist" (just the one?)...
"It's time to stop telling clients that they are clueless. That
may be true in Europe, but not here" - Chan Suh, CEO Agency.com
(purchaser of Online Magic), Silicon Alley Reporter 02/26...
INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS to introduce e-commerce
"kitemark" gif for websites... WHEN ROBOTS RULE at Tate
postponed due to "software failure"... "New design is pants"
threads disappear from CHANNEL 4 FORUM; complaining there's not
enough pics of Dan O'Brien?... INTERPOL still quoting Rimm
...*fucking* SCARY SPICE pic: http://www.ntk.net/doh/990305.gif
...KELLY? JOHNNY? "Links should be kept as simple as possible"?
What TV show is this? http://www.ntk.net/breakfast/ ...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
So we're searching for details of Nottingham University
Gilbert & Sullivan Society's Space: 1999 version of the
Pirates Of Penzance - I mean, what are the chances of there
being *two* TV-influenced sci-fi musical extravaganzas
debuting in Nottingham next week? But. Still. They. Come!
Independently of PIRATES '99 (7.30pm, Tue 1999-03-09, Thu 11,
Fri 12, Sat 13 with matinee; Great Hall, Trent Building,
nott.ac.uk), page 3 model turned god-bothering pop star Sam
Fox helms the yet more implausible VIRUS: THE CYBER MUSICAL,
believed to be the first rock show set entirely inside "a
NATO defence computer". The characters - "Hard Drive",
"Diskette", "Virus" and "Mouse" - haven't been nicked from
Reboot at all; the audience takes part via "laser guns around
the auditorium"; and the songs (two of which "seem destined
for the charts") are by Pink Floyd tribute band "Floydian
Slip", who cleverly combine rock, jazz, blues, soul, country,
pop and - of course - Pink Floyd to make the evening "a must
for any music lover". Adding to the suspense, the official
site even hints at last-minute financial crises, so if you
make it to either of these please tell us how it went. We're
terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
- no URL for Pirates '99; check local listings
- staggeringly, Virus: The Musical opens the same night
- possibly something in the local water supply
- still, not too late for this yet. Flee, my friends, flee!
>> TRACKING <<
look what the mouse dragged in
We don't usually trail products we haven't tried, but this
one's for Windows NT, and there are some places we just don't
go. In a nutshell, then, WAVE TO DISK is the same as that...
uh, other OS... sound device driver that lets you grab raw
audio from any source (including streamed RealAudio, one of
the three games that runs on NT, or - I dunno - one of those
hilarious new "secure" music distribution systems). By all
means try it out, but do understand that the authors do not
condone massive piracy and giggling at last-gasp attempts at
protecting intellectual property. Also, if you do download it
and it turns out to be a Trojan or HAPPY99.EXE - well, come
on, you're using NT. You deserve everything you get.
- apart from all that LinuxWorld coverage, which we wouldn't
wish on anyone
- Divx cracked too? IS *NOTHING* SACRED TO THESE PEOPLE?
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
not "that" POOH, thank God - http://www.planetx.com/pooh/ ...
ERICSSON deny Swedish secret service claims that they can bug
GSM phones "even if switched off"... "I *knew* we'd regret that
chip-id thing": http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/1999/8/ns-7186.html
... rogue AMAZON.COM reviews for Family Circus / Daddy's Cap Is
On Backwards... "Give me 49.7 days and I will rule the world":
start worrying when this goes 404: http://www.itulip.com/ ...
ZOOM UK buying HAYES UK?... make the REAL AUDIO "voices" go
away: http://www.futur.com/edu-info/schizo.stm or end up like:
http://www.timecube.com ... "PALMPILOT" a euphemism for?
http://www.mtco.com/~goettjp/PornPilot.html ... footy SLASH:
...Ben Folds Five meets SHATNER for return of TRANSFORMED MAN!
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> obviously no-one cares 'cos they're watching FRASIER
(10pm, Fri, C4), but THE YOUNG ONES (10pm, Fri, BBC2) has
skipped the "Sick" episode with Grange Hill/ The Good Life
for the penultimate "Time" one with Rik waking up with
Jennifer "Helen Mucus" Saunders... and Eastwood fans face a
tough choice with cracking WW2 Richard Burton cable car
cliffhanger WHERE EAGLES DARE (10.25pm, Fri, BBC1) vs Clint's
"comedy drama" PINK CADILLAC (11.10pm, Fri, LWT + some
regions) - Meridian get "They Live"!... sadly, BROKEN ARROW
(1.05pm, Sat, C4) isn't John Woo's stolen-nuke chaser but a
'50s Western - not to be confused with the similarly
impotence-themed RUN OF THE ARROW (2.50pm, Sat, BBC2) or
BROKEN LANCE (4.05pm, Sun, C4)... probably more Spinal-Tap-
style chuckles in HEAVY METAL TOP TEN (9.05pm, Sat, C4) than
lame sequel ACE VENTURA: WHEN NATURE CALLS (9.05pm, Sat, ITV)
- while Arnie's CONAN THE BARBARIAN (11pm, Sat, ITV) further
fuels those teen ubermensch fantasies... after last week's
soporific Kama Sutra, C4 reaffirms its commitment to "tedious
erotica" with Hugh Grant/ Elle Macpherson nudie SIRENS (10pm,
Sun, C4)... Prof Lewis Wolpert defends GM food on HEART OF
THE MATTER (11.30pm, Sun, BBC1), then undermines his case
somewhat by presenting autobiographical depression docu A
LIVING HELL (11.20pm, Wed, BBC2)... new series of the post-
movie derivative monster tosh X FILES (9pm, Sun, SkyOne)
starts just as the terrestrial one ends (10.10pm, Wed,
BBC2)... and PANORAMA (10pm, Mon, BBC1) promises a long, hard
look at teen sex - in order to address parental concerns over
the return of DAWSON'S CREEK? (6pm, Wed, C4)... don't try
selling gold-disc MP3 compilations to the BPI Anti-Piracy
Unit profiled on INTERNAL AFFAIRS (7pm, Mon, BBC2)... Wes
Craven tries out for Scream in ingeniously self-referential
(though less funny) WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE (10pm, Mon,
C4)... and when Arnie says "I'll be back" in THE RUNNING MAN
(9pm, Tue, C5), who could have guessed he meant "in half-an-
hour's time on the other side", via Jim Cameron's typically
overlong misogynist Harrier ad TRUE LIES (9.35pm, Tue,
BBC1)... C4 always sound a little apologetic about the
"written, recorded, and seemed funnier on the day of
transmission" 11 O'CLOCK SHOW (11.10pm, Tue, C4) - with
largely new presenters, though they're keeping Ali G for
continuity with the following "I Wanna Be Black" edition of
FUSION (11.45pm, Tue, C4)... mild Helen Hunt nudity enlivens
THE WATERDANCE (12.50am, Tue, C4)... confusingly scheduled
after RED DWARF VIII (9pm, Thu, BBC2), HORIZON counts the
cost of the International Space Station... and let's hope C5
doesn't meet with any nasty "accidents" after STRANGER THAN
FICTION (8.30pm, Thu, C5) links the killings of JFK and John
Lennon to CIA mind-control - surely including that George
Bush was a friend of Reagan-shooter John Hinckley's dad?...
FILM>> it's not on anywhere (they've given up new movies for
lent or something) but FESTEN (imdb: Danish) is certainly the
year's most disturbing Scandanavian family dysfunction
catharsis filmed in hand-held keeping with "Dogma" manifesto
http://www.dogme95.dk/dogme/the_vow/vow.html (maybe they
should do something like that for websites)... anyway, sounds
like more fun (marginally) than Jonathan Demme, Oprah Winfrey
and Danny Glover's worthily overwhelming superlong box-office
flop BELOVED (imdb: based-on-novel / pulitzer-prize-source /
slavery) - incomprehensible if you don't know the book,
disappointing if you do... plus, as if the prospect of an
amorally ultraviolent psuedo-sequel to Wild At Heart weren't
bad enough, PERDITA DURANGO (imdb: kidnapping / las-vegas /
mafia / religious-fanatics / road / sacrifice / santer’a /
satanism / suicide / truck / violence / wild-at-heart / based-
on-novel / black-comedy / cannibalism) comes from the
director of disabled revolution sci-fi clunker Accion
Mutante, and its best bit - naked Rosie Perez being nuzzled
by a jaguar - comes and goes in the first 5 mins...
FEEBDACK>> considering how sarcastic we are about other
people's goofs, we empathise entirely with you gleefully
mailing in our dumb oversights - including, in recent weeks,
misprints of the NTK subscription details and our own URL...
we wouldn't normally disclose the identities of the UK's
strong crypto providers lest some future "e-commerce" bill
requires their internment in one of Jack Straw's holiday
camps, but so many of you helpfully pointed out that PUTTY
"even better than TeraTerm" for Windows SSHing [NTK 1999-02-
26] - it doesn't support forwarding though, so it's no good if
your satellite uses an X client... DODGER leapt to the defence
of the frankly erratic Mark Thomas Comedy Product [ibid]; OK,
so http://www.menwithhill.com *is* pretty funny... C M
MORRISON queried our claim [NTK 1999-02-12] that some Red
Dwarf cast had "too much self-respect to return": where's
Clare Grogan and Mark Williams then?... and Infoworld's DYLAN
TWENEY checked that we knew that "the" Cringely [ibid] was
just "a" Cringely - indeed we did, it's such a lovely story:
... it was Paul *Johnson*, not Paul Foot who nominated
RICHARD DAWKINS (or was it Stephen Hawking?) as "The Most
Dangerous Man In Britain Today" [NTK 1999-02-05]... and
finally, following the refreshing revelations of
BREMSTRAHLUNG X JONES [NTK 1999-01-29] that he "masturbates
at the slightly geeky one" in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, IAN
HARRIS writes to ask "could he check that the TV's on? I
suspect that's his reflection". NTK regrets that this
correspondence is now closed...
>> 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
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