_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk>
| \ | |_ _| |/ / _ __ __1999-06-11_ o join! mail 'subscribe ntknow'
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| |\ | | | | . \ | | | | (_) \ v v / o website (+ archive) lives at:
|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\|_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/ o http://www.ntk.net/ "I guess it won't surprise anybody that because AT&T has put
my life at risk to this harassment organization, I will be
switching both Internet service providers and my long-distance
service from AT&T..."
- "Safe", the anti-scientology campaigner shopped by his telco
...every day, more and more people - under threat of death -
are coming back to BT...
>> HARD NEWS <<
In a post-Net Strike parliamentary debate on unmetered
telecoms, Ian Bruce MP rather smugly declared that certain
telecommunications companies had confided in his very
important ear that they were going to go unmetered in a
matter of weeks. Who could he mean? Well, fortunately we've
been in the position of having somebody swear us to secrecy
about this every twelve minutes for the last fortnight. And,
on the assumption that once an MP realises something, it
must be inches away from blindingly obvious, we might as well
blab. So, big secret: it's BT, it's ADSL, it's coming in
September, it's unmetered, it's always on and it'll cost
c.30UKP a month. More predictions: they won't have enough
installers so you'll have to wait ages, journalists will
write scary articles about "portscanners", even more
pisspoor TV people will enter the industry hoping to present
"high-bandwidth video documentaries" online, the newsgroups
will fill with people whinging that they only get 300Kb/s
and want their money back. But none of us will care,
because, you who want this *so* badly and have prayed for
so long, you will be happy.
- "someone leaked it, I'm afraid. Cancel the whole thing.."
- gurus will be amazed that this isn't in full motion video
"ISP casualties 'inevitable'", declared the BBC News site
this week, as another zillion free ISPs sprang out of the
telco woodwork, each adorned in its own freakish
Cambrian-explosion branding. Up popped Dellnet, FreeWeb,
TheMutual, ICLNet - and of course, "FreeBeeb", the BBC's own
cloying entry into the market. FREEBEEB is a co-venture by
Scottish "Demon" Telecom and BBC Worldwide. BBC Worldwide
is the bit of the BBC that's allowed to be commercial and
money-grubbing, in order to make money for the rest. Not
too much money, though: it was they who killed fledgling
ISP the BBC Networking Club back in December 1995. Why?
Because, they said, it was clear there was no money in the
- well, there isn't now
- hey, they got bbc.com back! A snip at a 100K!
- better scare a few more students into coughing up
Windows users faced a brand new threat this week, as a new
virus spread from machine to machine, claiming to be the
e-mail answer to a question nobody asked. But enough about
OFFICE 2000 - how's about that worm? Well, we're sure
everyone affected by the EXPLOREZIP trojan will extend their
sympathies to those hit hardest - MICROSOFT UK, where the MD
had his drive trashed as well as dozens of others at Reading
HQ. In Microsoft's defence, the trojan does not exploit any
security weakness in Windows: only users naive enough to
click on a mailed executable are zapped. Guess that learned
- some hidden clue here
- oh, and I think those zipped files you're looking for are here
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
VNU NET become MSN UK's exclusive IT news source - celebrate by
misspelling "Ballmer" throughout entire headline report:
http://webserv.vnunet.com/www_user/plsql/pkg_vnu_news.right_frame?p_story=84939http://www.carrera.co.uk launches new "recursive" range...
US MICHAEL MOORE show omits "Teen Sniper School" segment...
"moderated" forums on DOWNING STREET site: "not very"
reports METRO... MS buys 10% of Borland, freezes Philippe
Kahn in carbonite... that FSF's more viral than we thought:
http://www.min.net/~douglas/gfx/msfsf.gif ... clearly not a
BT front: http://members.tripod.com/vocaltel/ ... "There
will be no white knuckle rides at BLETCHLEY PARK" says press
release: ride the giant Colossus!... important personal message:
http://www.ntk.net/doh/19990611nick.gif ... "UK corporates
still failing to ensure their software is properly licensed",
moan FEDERATION AGAINST SOFTWARE THEFT - ooh, but BSD-style
or GPL?... ROMERO takes as long over his hair as over his
releases: http://www.planetquake.com/mynx/dearromero.shtm ...
NEAL STEPHENSON upgrades from EMACS - to pen...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Just a quick advisory that sci-fi musical RETURN TO THE
FORBIDDEN PLANET is stalking the land once more; the
overlong cod-Shakespeare rock-and-roll show is on national
tour for most of the year; see site for details. Expect
rather fewer toe-tapping tunes in Philip K Dick play FLOW MY
TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID (Oval House Theatre, 52 Kennington
Oval, London SE11, 7.45pm, 1999-06-11/19 not Mon or Tue),
adapted by Linda Hartinian who, says ANSIBLE, "appears in
PKD's autobiographical "The Dark Haired Girl". Tickets (0171
582 7680) are UKP7.50; since it depicts "a future where
people caught without official papers face years in labour
camps" (Time Out), we'd advise taking your NUS card if you
want the 4.50 concession.
- time for the "Rockabye Hamlet" revival?
- "Dick, Dick, Dick" "How many Dicks is that?" "A lot"
And a big shout goes out to the "Special Branch" posse,
already rumoured to be taking an interest in the
anti-corporate festivities of JUNE 18 (financial centres of
many major cities, all day next Fri, 1999-06-18; duh). Maybe
they're planning on partying along, Notting Hill
Carnival-style, with the Reclaim The Streets-crowd
revellers; maybe they'll be filming the participants purely
to help out with the global webcasting of the alternative
- or see the stickers on lamp-posts all over Brighton
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
Hey, if George Lucas doesn't want the world to pirate his
STAR WARS films, why's he keep putting that
camcorder-calibrating eyetest-chart at the beginning?
Research suggests that the 1.3 gig VCD Phantom Menace
currently circulating isn't full digital-to-digital
"zero-day" warez, but in fact a (fairly good)
cinema-camcorder job; near-identical to the knock-off copies
shifting at your local street market for a fiver. Hallmarks
include sudden improvement in sound quality at 0:30 mins;
intermittent audio drop-out (mike clipping?) during pod race
(1:00); and a "floating Z" at the edge of the screen. VCD
has minor MPEG artefacts, some VHS versions have Chinese
subtitles - handy for the ethnically stereotyped Trade
Federation - and we don't hold out too much hope for the 800
meg AVI. Still, with all that CGI and dodgy eyelines, maybe
the lower the resolution, the better.
- last seen on the server of a top UK university...
- c'mon, being in an "ate my balls" doesn't prove *nothing*
Overclocking your Palm. No, you're lying: you'd *never*
considered doing that. And even if you did consider it,
you'd certainly weren't planning on cranking an 80% clock
speed improvement for a standard IIIx or V. Oh, you did,
huh? Well, I bet you'd never envisaged doing it in
*software*, with a freeware Hackmaster mini-application, no
assembly required? You did? Then you are Jean-Paul Gabini and
I claim my five pounds.
- oh! oh! check out his other impossible software packages
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
ZX Spectrum the new techno: http://yoyo.org/levine/load_screen.mp3
... CLUETRAIN lands "phat book contract"... FREEMASONS sponsor
neuroelectronic implants... "SETI@home: the second-best way
to impress JODIE FOSTER"... show creator JOSS WHEDON
instructs fans to bootleg banned BUFFY... any top-secret
info that *isn't* online yet? http://jya.com/irish-war.htm
... taunting BOND fans by calling new film "Tomorrow's World
Never Says Die Enough - Again"... PLAYING FIELDS to set up
DREAMCAST network cafes (well, they should be able to get the
hardware cheap, anyway)... WITCHBLADE in TOMB RAIDER 4?...
CEE-NO-FAX: http://tvguardian.com/html/faq.html ... John
Cleese *is* GEORGE WASHINGTON... "guys, look at us, fighting
each other": http://www.attrition.org/negation/special/ ...
*five* MATRIX movies? We're living in the wrong reality!...
not quite the "affirmative action" they were hoping for:
... "I don't know about SPAMMERS, but they scare the
hell out of me": http://www.robertstech.com/gallery.htm ...
we want the Real DR EVIL as the Other Dr Evil (or maybe
Mini Me): http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue112/cool.html ...
... not sure we've ever seen "anus" on a Japanese game:
... c'mon, "JAR JAR ate my balls" doesn't prove anything:
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
the less rude http://www.ntk.net/tvgohome/ TV>> an over-done double helping of FRASIER (10pm, Fri, C4)
... a rerun of oddly similar variations on "Alan
Partridge" geekdom, in COOGAN'S RUN (10pm, Fri, BBC2)...
plus PERVERSIONS OF SCIENCE? (9.30pm, Fri, Sci-Fi) -
Perversions Of *Shatner*, more like, as Bill directs and
guest-stars in the first of a brief bunch of tackily
"erotic" space stories... a semi-cute cast almost pull
nooveau-pulp THE ROCKETEER (2.45pm, Sat, ITV) out of its
nosedive... Coogan's back, plus Lee And Herring, plus -
uh-oh - the cast of "Big Train" - trying to pay off the
Third World's overdraft on COMIC RELIEF: THE DEBT WISH SHOW
(10.40pm, Sat, BBC1)... and Angus Deayton retaliates for
ITV nicking his "Before They Were Famous" format by stealing
their Oscar out-takes idea with NOT ANOTHER AWARDS SHOW
(9.45pm, Sat, BBC1)... something of a theme-night on ITV,
with Michael Barrymore reporting that ANIMALS DO THE
FUNNIEST THINGS (6.50pm, Sat, ITV)... spreading lethal
monkey germs, for instance, as documented later by OUTBREAK
(9pm, Sat, ITV)... while inbetween, primates parade
elaborate mating displays in MAN O MAN (7.50pm, Sat, ITV) -
of course, they should do a more authentic, fighting-based
show and call it "MANO A MANO"... it's the last of this
series of THIS MORNING WITH RICHARD NOT JUDY (12.15pm, Sun,
BBC2)... the clear inspiration for the Star Wars "trench"
bit at the end of 633 SQUADRON (3pm, Sun, ITV)... and, again
on satellite, we're hoping that the spin-off series of THE
NET (10pm, Sun, Sci-Fi) sees the Sandra Bullock character
having a different aspect of her identity erased each week,
with hilarious consequences... C5's sensationalist
barrel-scraping hits inevitable paranormal hokum STRANGER
THAN FICTION (8pm, Mon, C5), then, yet more imaginatively,
hospital docusoap A & E (8pm, Tue, C5)... the "Scared To
Death" season aptly continues with BODY DOUBLE (10pm, Mon,
C4), an erotic thriller - with Melanie Griffith! Aiieeee!
... and chubby DJ Carl Cox presides over no-doubt
vastly embarrassing dance music show ACETATE (11.15pm, Mon,
BBC2)... following "Holding The Baby", Sally Phillips'
http://www.w2s.net/sally-phillips/ sitcom choices haven't
improved, as she guests in KISS ME KATE (8.30pm, Tue,
BBC1)... and a brief spate of new shows on Thu, with
cookie-cutter Roddenberry alien nonsense EARTH: FINAL
CONFLICT (8.05pm, Thu, C5), Ben Miller/ Dennis Pennis
theatrecom COMING SOON (10.30pm, Thu, ITV), wacky barrister
style show SLAVE (11.30pm, Thu, C4) - and, most puzzlingly
of all, the new series of OZ (12midnight, Thu, C4),
inexplicably described by Radio Times as a "Sci-fi prison
FILM>> yes, it stars a hacker, and it's kind of about VR,
but get over it: Keanu Reeves' thermodynamics-defying
talk-heavy effects-lite trenchcoat shoot-em-up THE MATRIX
(imdb: alternate-earth / cyberspace / shootout / martial-
arts / slow-motion / training / artificial- intelligence /
computers / cyberpunk / men-in-black) takes the best bits
of The Terminator, Total Recall, and They Live and pisses
them up the wall - to the accompaniment of the soundtrack
from Spawn and, in one pivotal action scene, shameful Brit
techno-novelty act The Propellerheads... still, you're
probably going to ignore us and go see it anyway, considering
what it's up against: long-unawaited offbeat nomadic Pete
Postlethwaite pylon-painting love story AMONG GIANTS
(imdb: romance)... re-released elderly Michael Caine caper
GET CARTER (imdb: thriller) - from the director of "Flash
Gordon" and "Morons From Outer Space"... or Jimmy "Cracker"
McGovern's typically upbeat domestic violence transplant
horror HEART (imdb: UK) - not particularly based around the
1988 Pet Shop Boys song - or the Seattle '80s girl-rock band
- of the same name ( you know, the ones who had a hit with
HARD LIT [ "buy now" links at http://www.ntk.net/books/ ]>>
yes, even we couldn't be bothered to get into the online price-
slashing for HANNIBAL (RRP 16.99 - yeah, right, Amazon 8.33),
when branches of WH Smiths were serving it up for just
UKP9.99... probably our closest to a half-price bestseller was
latest cyber-romance nonsense SINGLE WHITE EMAIL (RRP 6.99,
Amazon 5.59) - written by an Australian, which doesn't really
explain why it's not nearly as bad as all the dire previous
efforts in this ever-expanding genre... this month's token
goatee-stroker is Steve Beard's inappropriately named
"transmissions from the edge of style culture" compilation
LOGIC BOMB (RRP 10.00, Amazon 8.00), which nonetheless has one
of the good, early UK "otaku" articles - from a 1991 i-D...
fighting it out in London's remainder bins are Mark Leyner's
MY DREAM DATE WITH DI (RRP 6.99, Amazon 5.59, now 2.99), David
Foster Wallace's INFINITE JEST (RRP 9.99, Amazon 7.99, now
4.99), and - pick of the bunch - Nicholson "Vox" Baker's
hardback THE SIZE OF THOUGHTS (RRP 7.99, Amazon 6.39, now
4.99); hyper-focussed musings on model aircraft, card
catalogues, and, on p232, the funniest ever "CD-ROM reviewed
by trying to play it in a CD player"... but our "literally
unputdownable" recommendation goes - no, not to Terry
Pratchett's THE SCIENCE OF DISCWORLD (RRP 14.99, Amazon 8.99)
- but to the "authors inbetween" who've said "Let's all meet
up" in CTHULHU 2000 (RRP $12.95, Amazon 7.27); Bruce Sterling,
Kim Newman, Harlan Ellison etc pay largely effective
contemporary tribute to HP Lovecraft's mythos, which, as
Jarvis Cocker feared, is indeed "strange" when they're all
"fully grown"... we close with NTK's resident Matrix apologist
pointing fans toward Neil Gaiman's spin-off story at
http://www.whatisthematrix.com/cmp/neil_g.html ... and our
admission that we haven't checked whether Neal Stephenson's
glaring attribution of Cap'n Crunch to General Mills from
"Disco 2000" http://www.scs.carleton.ca/~morin/misc/capn/ then
made it into the final draft of CRYPTONOMICON (RRP 12.99,
Amazon not in UK stock), when in fact Cap'n Crunch is, of
course, made by Quaker Oats. (Hey, Stephenson, crypto,
nitpicking and breakfast cereal - how could we resist?)...
>> 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
NEED TO KNOW
THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK.
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