_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk>
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- ERIC S RAYMOND, New York Times, 1999-03-25
...although I wouldn't like to say where it was inserted
*** STOP-PRESS TRIBUTE ISSUE: GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW JOB, jwz! ***
>> HARD NEWS <<
It was only a matter of time before requests to "whois
internic.net" met with the reply: "We're NETWORK SOLUTIONS.
Who the hell are you?". This week, NSI did the next best
thing. Visitors to the previously neutral (and useful)
Internic site were redirected to networksolutions.com, NSI's
commercial site - not at all the sort of thing that Eugene
Kashpureff faced 5 years' jail for [NTK 1997-11-07].
Remarkably, the usual locations for ftp'ing registration
forms, accessing the whois server, and generally doing
anything useful without paying for the nose for it, vanished.
Reactions from the sysadmins on NANOG list were predictably
withering: given that the Internic was a US government
trademark, suggested one, couldn't they sue NetSol for domain
squatting? And if this is what they do when they're being
public-spirited, imagine what they're going to be like when
their monopoly ends, and they're going to have to start
- careful what you say - whois knows where your office is...
- NANOG mumbles as loud as they can
We could probably grab some much needed kudos from *not* being
invited to Monday's closed-doors meeting between civil rights
campaigners and ISP orgs - given the LINX's rather pointed
comments in the invite about unhelpful muck-raking
journalists. Sadly, we *were* invited, but overslept. The
deliberations were covered by "Chatham House Rules"
(translation: we'd have to append "but I couldn't possibly
comment" to every quote people sent us), but we *can* report
that it seemed a darn sight friendlier than the next day's
SCRAMBLING FOR SAFETY. There, the annual DTI Spokesman Gets
Chewed Up And Spat Out competition smashed even previous
year's records, and various mauled civil servants broke with
tradition to say that it *wasn't* their fault that the crypto
proposals were late/wrong/deluded or mad. No, it was everyone
else's fault for whinging too much. And they're not late/
wrong/deluded/mad, they're just "under consultation", and thus
eminently fixable. Until next week, that is, when the April
1st deadline passes, and the government representatives begin
an entirely new phase of going "Wah Wah Wah! Not listening!"
- thank god TV's Chris has an alarm clock
Usually we'd be tempted to side with plucky Essex online girl
band AOL GIRLS - currently pursued by America Online for
inadvertently appropriating their subscribers' popular search
term (and clarion mating call?). After all, both The Guardian
and BBC Online were convinced that the Girls' $9.95 monthly
membership ("discreetly appears" on your credit-card statement
as "DMR") offers merely "Exclusive Pics" and "Saucy Secrets",
rather than, say, some dodgy porn scam. However: a quick visit
to "Dr whois" shows aol-girls.com is owned by obvious domain
speculators photoagency.com - also behind adolfhitler.com,
18andnew.com, nazigirl.com - while AltaVista reveals the
Stalin-esque "disappearance" of three previous members,
apparently after "animal sex", "big tits", and "nasa starcraft
movies" appeared in their <meta> tags.
- that guy who wrote moaning about our "adult links"...
- ...please don't "View Source" on these
- Did they test the $9.95 subscription? Did they hell.
- E17's Tony Mortimer was "head of music" at their school?
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
special IE5 edition
"Internet To Change The Face Of The PC World", reports
LYCOS... UK ONLINE goes free... IE5 "smart search" goes to
http://auto.search.msn.com/default.asp - NT4 Option Pack
default page... "One in Five US Households Is Convergent",
finds SHOWTIMEONLINE - that's "convergent" defined as
"simultaneously accessing the Internet and viewing
television"... DEMON compo discriminates against non-IE5
users: http://www.demon.net/win/ie5/ (well, only ones who
don't use "View Source")... THE EDITOR's favourite titlebar
typo: http://www.libertynet.org/artguide/new.html ... no, we
meant the resignation of Virgin Net MD DAVID CLARKE - not the
car crash guy... John Sculley uses PALMPILOT... (temporary)
MEDIA JUSTICE!: http://www.ntk.net/doh/pin990326.jpg ...
BECKS "pull out half way through" sponsorship of QUEER
AS FOLK... IE5 mail filters NINFOMANIA as "junk", NTK as
valid - oh well... Brit ROYAL FAMILY still use Apache/1.2b7
http://www.netcraft.com/cgi-bin/Survey/whats?host=www.royal.gov.uk >> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
"3 solid days of LAN Quake gaming" is the Wireplay-sponsored
promise of bring-your-own-PC party INSOMNIA '99 (from 9am Fri
today, in an "old Army theatre" outside Bicester Army Base,
UKP40): not just Quake 2 but also Starcraft, Quake World, and
Total Annihilation - a bit like a Scandinavian demo party but
without all that late-night video projection and last-
minute coding nonsense. Speaking of which, Norway's THE
GATHERING (from Wed 1999-03-31, The Viking Ship, Hamar, NOK
425) is of course the real thing: 5 full days of Quake, Quake
2, Half Life and Starcraft leavened with the very cutting
edge of Amiga / Commodore 64 / BeBox apologists. Insomnia has
a bar, alcohol is forbidden at The Gathering ("We don't have
any minimum age requirements, but we expect attendees to be
able to feed themselves"); both ban "water boiling equipment"
so nor will you be able to survive on melted snow. Hell, go
to both and make an 10-day session of it.
- programme: "Bar opens", "Bar closes", "Bar opens" (repeat)
- Last year we tipped Amiga winners Nerve Axis UK. As a joke.
>> TRACKING <<
look what the mouse dragged in
"Yes, it's buggy and slow and awkward but IT'S JUST SO
COOL", gushes our favourite browserwatcher about the new
"dogfood-ready" Mozilla release, SeaMonkey. The work-in-
progress browser from Netscape is *just* about usable, and
beta-victims everywhere now have a smashing new opportunity
to crash their machines in the pursuit of open source quality
control. Is it worth it? Well, our correspondent writes: "It
took me five minutes to work out how to add a button with my
face on it to the main toolbar. I guess you can do a lot of
this customisation stuff with IE5 .hta's as well. BUT THEY'RE
NOT AS COOL." Further fun lies in writing informative yet
bitingly sarcastic bug reports to Bugzilla, especially when
you get e-mails back with Netscape's engineers equally bitchy
comments appended. Now *you* could "be" jwz!
- hope Microsoft don't subpoena these mails too
- hmm. plenty bitching fun over the IE5 codebase
- "eating your own dogfood": lovely imagination, those MS boys
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
http://www.rodhull.com/ ... ARMY (ever topical) to launch
"range of branded clothes"... GREG EGAN'S Teranesia... PLANCK
FROTH... PIRACY hurts fans as well as studios - just another
good reason for it: http://saginaw.simplenet.com/rrmvpira.htm
... PALMPILOT beam spamming... LINEONE moving from Wapping to
Covent Garden - literally *and* metaphorically?... WHEN
BASTARDS ATTACK, pt2: http://www.spacebastards.com/vote ...
WINSTAR snag 38GHz, plan wireless broadband rollout in London
this year... can ANYONE work http://www.smallfish.co.uk ?...
fake "Vonnegut" SUNSCREEN speech now a major US dance hit...
Clash tribute album BURNING LONDON... new, beard-free PR:
http://pringle.oaktree.co.uk/~jbaker/pics/0wn.jpg ... call
the COPS: http://warhammer.mcc.virginia.edu/cars/radio.html
... well, have *you* seen any official merch with THE PHANTOM
MENACE printed on it? Ahhhh... WATCHMEN coming true at last:
http://www.msss.com/mars/global_surveyor/camera/images/3_11_99_happy/ >> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> noted non-geek Janet Street-Porter pursues a totally un-
obsessive 350 mile walk in a (largely) straight line,
helpfully titled AS THE CROW FLIES (8pm, Fri, BBC2)... Steven
"Press Gang" Moffat wrote this MURDER MOST HORRID (9pm, Fri,
BBC2), which may make Dawn French's constant mugging more
tolerable... and following When Eagles Dare three weeks ago,
Friday is Eastwood WW2 night again with zany tank heist caper
KELLY'S HEROES (10.30pm, Fri, BBC1)... oh, cruel fate that
saw Kubrick die merely *weeks* before a major BBC2
retrospective of his work: in particular, DR STRANGELOVE
(10.35pm, Sat, BBC2) hasn't been on terrestrial since the far-
off days of last November... anyone who didn't get the
"SkyNet" gags in NTK 1999-03-05 is advised to pay attention
this time to THE TERMINATOR (9.05pm, Sat, ITV)... DEADLY
INVASION: THE KILLER BEE NIGHTMARE (9pm, Sat, C5) isn't a
sensational "When Insects Attack" docu but just the start of
many dreadful looking monster movies - culminating in non-
Alan-Moore Heather Locklear GMO parable THE RETURN OF SWAMP
THING (9.55pm, Sun, C5)... and no wonder Arlington Road's
Jeff Bridges is paranoid after Tommy Lee Jones's Mousetrap-
inspired IRA bombs leave him feeling BLOWN AWAY (12midnight,
Sat, ITV)... Sandra Bullock's THE NET (10pm, Sun, C4) creates
a more convincing sense of social isolation than it does of
lethal hacker-viruses - largely by not casting any other
characters... post-Reboot CGI romp SHADOW RAIDERS (nee "War
Planets") shows twice every day this week (10am; 4.30pm, Mon-
Fri, SkyOne)... and god, not the rubbish Abel Ferrara version
of BODY SNATCHERS *again* (10pm, Mon, C4)... psychic animals
rescue humans, redecorate each other's homes in predictable
cross-genre combination SUPERNATURAL (8.30pm, Tue, BBC1)...
remember the '70s? weren't they *hilarious?* inquires hideous
New Romantic comedy HUNTING VENUS (9pm, Wed, ITV) - unlikely
to touch those excellent TOP TENS (9.30pm, Sat, C4)... while
mock-French restaurant chain Pierre Victoire's appearance on
TROUBLE AT THE TOP (9.30pm, Wed, BBC2) confirms suspicions of
diners who thought their "3 course meal for 5.95" offer was
slightly too good to be true...
FILM>> of course, cuddly monster movie MIGHTY JOE (MPAA:
Rated PG for some menacing action violence and mild language)
really does need a surname to avoid confusion with MEET JOE
[BLACK] - see NTK 1999-03-19 (the largely appalling CineZine
argues Joe shouldn't be forced to use the "slave name" of his
human "wife", Charlize "2 Days In The Valley" Theron)...
whatever the X stands for in vicious message-heavy Romper-
Stomper-inspired skinhead saga AMERICAN HISTORY X (imdb:
based-on-novel / neo-nazism / racism / white-supremacists),
it doesn't seem to be the removed credit of director Tony
Kaye (and no, you don't need to have seen American History I-
IX to understand it)... those who prefer their violence a
little more morally motivated should cheer Mel Gibson's semi-
comic table-turning Point Blank-remake PAYBACK (imdb: robbery
/ money / narrative / revenge / doublecross / based-on-novel
/ prostitution / black-comedy / twist-in-the-end / pickpocket
/ blood / s&m / drugs / crooked / organized-crime /
kidnapping / torture) - re-teams Mel with Conspiracy Theory/
LA Confidential writer Brian Helgeland (who Mel then fired),
plus Deborah Kara Unger from "The Game"... NTK's pre-school
readers will know that nappy-filling golden shower THE
RUGRATS MOVIE (imdb: based-on-tv-series / kids-and-family /
sequel) picks up from the end of season 7 cliffhanger to
extend many of the major plot arcs previously raised in the
Rugrats "mythos" - but is it showing with the "CatDog" short
as seen on US screens?... and no Oscars but plenty of
exposure for more gay, less camp version of "Ed Wood" GODS
AND MONSTERS (imdb: not to be confused with "The Crow 3:
World of Gods and Monsters") - a more sensitive look at
horror films and unrequited love than the same director's
"Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh"...
MUSICAL THEATRE [WITH YOUR HOST, THE "BUTCHER OF BROADBAND",
CHARLIE BROOKER] - Review of Virus The Musical, as requested
in NTK 1999-03-05: SAM FOX was "indisposed" and replaced by
her understudy. JACK WILD - Artful Dodger in the 1968 movie
of "Oliver!" - plays a mouse. He has to wear a costume with
two buttons on his chest. His arse is the rollerball. He does
a little jig and sings a song called "Double Click". There's
another song called "You're Going To Get Your Interface
Kicked In" and a touching sequence in which a 3.5" floppy
sings of her unrequited love for a hard drive... in one early
scene, a character explains the advantages of file
compression; adult dancers in silver catsuits ("files") climb
into a mysterious box-like machine, and reappear through a
hole in the base - as children. "FILE MANAGER" and his
cronies go on to sing about the joys of conserving hard disk
space. By this point I was slack-jawed with astonishment,
like someone watching the opening sequence of Saving Private
Ryan for the first time... the programme includes a glossary
of computer terms "for the unsure, the uninitiated, and
parents", and peppered with typos ("countrys", "Chernobyll",
"beetamax", "miniturized"). I sat in on a matinee and was
surrounded by schoolchildren who seemed to be enjoying
themselves. Still, they were probably all on crack or
something... to cap off the weirdness, it's all being backed
by LEE TAYLOR-RYAN, the guy who won 6.5m on the lottery, then
had to serve time for dealing in stolen cars. He was
apparently so impressed by the cast's "will to succeed" that
he agreed to save the show from financial apocalypse. There
is currently no news of their planned "national tour"...
[ Hear Charlie's audio report about 7 minutes in - plus our
other shared obsession, those sexy, sassy AOL Girls - at
[ This review appears in place of our scheduled Richard
Stallman report by NTK's full-time Katz-hater, which was so
darned heartfelt we couldn't bring ourselves to cut it:
>> 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 "like Wired in its early days"
(overheard in Guardian New Media Lab)
NEED TO KNOW
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