"If we go into life-science companies, we find up to 70
packages; that means 70 kingdoms. When Europe had 70
kingdoms, it was a very unhappy time in history. Then
democracy came up and we integrated."
- Friedrich von Bohlen, LION BIOSCIENCE, AG
...not quite how everybody else saw it, Friedrich
>> HARD NEWS <<
up for a bruise
Good to see the DTI applauding the Consumer Association's
new E-Commerce Code of Practice - even if they're still
acting like the biggest cowboys around. That E-Commerce Bill
that was ordered months ago? Well, I've spoken to the
Ministry and they say it's definitely *definitely* in the
post, and should arrive next week. Yeah, they did say that
last week too. You do know it's not the same Bill as the one
you were expecting, right? Now it's called the Electronic
Communications Bill, which - given how much the consultation
paper was banging on about how it was exclusively to assist
e-commerce, should ring a few alarm bells. Although when you
do get it, don't be surprised if, once all the packaging is
removed, there's nothing there anyway. The DTI say that
tricky questions - such as whether key escrow is to be
supported - will now be deferred to a "joint forum" of
industry and government and implemented in secondary
legislation, away from all that awkward parliamentary
scrutiny business. Jesus. We heard that the DTI prefers
self-regulation, but this is ridiculous...
- oddly, we don't even remember ordering it the first place
- note prominent link to the Consumer Associations' online shop.
Still, if anyone's feeling short of some law, there's
plenty to explore in the new Interception of Communications
consultation document. The IOC paper, while vague to the
point of meaninglessness (anyone seeing a pattern here?),
seems to suggest establishing tapping capabilities directly
into ISPs' NOCs. ISPs, predictably, have expressed concern
about this - mainly because of the cost. Absolutely right:
we'll all be much happier if our ISPs get paid by the
government to monitor their own customers, rather than just
doing it for free. Tell you what: given that your customers
are going to end up paying for this either way, how about
opening up the description of how the tapping would take
place, so we can all ensure that it's not going to turn into
some general general surveillance spectacular?
- pdf to prevent "interception"
- html (and a tenth of the size)
- quote from Sinead O'Connor album "I do not need what I cannot smell"
When we heard that an NTK reader had been ejected from a Sky
Digital training session for "asking too many questions",
our sympathies went immediately to Sky. I mean, in a world
where every month you have to stand up and pursuade people
that the OpenTV system isn't a crock, and in a world where
uptake is so bad that you have to give away these "training
sessions" for free (even though every Web company is gagging
for iTV contracts), then surely the last thing you'd deserve
is some smart alec asking questions like "Isn't this just
glorified teletext?" or "say, does this tedious authoring
system get on your nerves, too?". These things should not
happen. To prevent them, from now on, NTK will be running a
"Sarcastic Bastard Name And Shame" campaign. Simply e-mail
in with the sarky question *you* asked at any developer
meeting (not just Sky: Microsoft, Oracle, or even Linux '99
will do). We'll pick the most cutting comments, and punish
the troublemaker with a plug in the issue. Extra points for
getting physically thrown out of the session. Because if you
keep pointing out the truth to these marketing people, how
are they supposed to do their job?
- mmmf. mmmmf mmmfff mmmff.
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
(this week's Antinews is dedicated to long-time AN superstar
SPYDER, whose Web "reviews" in London's TIME OUT not only
pioneered the innovative approach of clicking around a site
and writing down *exactly* what happens, but who also,
towards the end, veered into the exciting territory of
"thinking of things that don't seem to have a web presence
and clamouring for them to be put online" - culminating, in
this week's final column, with the plea "Oddly, Pot Noodles
don't have a website (so get pitching, people)." Presumably,
that would be apart from last September's ingeniously
misnomered http://www.potnoodle.co.uk ; goodbye, Spyder -
the Net never truly deserved you...)
VIRGIN not flying anywhere on 1999-12-31... BT CALL MINDER
upgrade delayed *again*... FALCO! http://www.angels-on-line.com
... giving whole new meaning to "AAAA-AHHHAAA-AHHAAAAAAA!"
http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,4924,00.html ... PETER
NORTON restores love letters to JD Salinger, reminds him to
take back-ups next time... DIXONS advertise Rio as "MPEG 2
player"... FALCO? http://www.innerworkings.com/ ... LIGHT
SABRES "may cause burns": http://www.hasbro.com/consumer/safety.html
... "In the contest between people and lightning, lightning
wins", wagers SCIENCE DAILY... BT internal document
reports: "PETER COCHRANE is often referred to as the
country's most holistic and unusual thinker who lives in the
future rather than trying to predict it" - how often,
exactly? ... obvious, when you think about it:
battle of the BABELFISHES: "the world of the juicy"
http://cactus.masterweb.it/eng/2intro.htm vs "To allow you
of view any our last workmanships, we have realized
demonstrative tapes" http://www.improntadigitale.mi.it/chiing.htm
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Peter "ex-Bullfrog" Molyneux's touring roadshow stops off at
London's Olympia Conference Centre tomorrow for DEVELOP! 99
(UKP 329) - "For programmers, designers, and producers of
[cough] interactive entertainment" (they mean video games).
Other usual suspects include Argonaut's Jez San,
Revolution's Charles Cecil, and Shiny's Dave Perry; there
doesn't seem to be any mention of it on the organiser's
website, unless it's the "US Geriatric & Long-Term Care
Congress", which this line-up increasingly resembles.
- "Hong Kong Jewellery & Watch Fair" (incorporating "Fake Rolexes '99")
As if proof were needed that the web design biz was "full of
gangsters": the British Interactive Multimedia Association
awards await next Monday (1999-06-28), but only for those
who survive Artec/ FusedInteractive's invite to "MAD"
FRANKIE FRASER'S GANGLAND TOUR. At the time of writing, 4
tickets were still available for this Sunday (UKP25, from
email@example.com); a look back at the notorious
"companies" whose high-profile "blags" and "scores" once
horrified all East London. And "Mad" Frankie Fraser should
have some pretty scary stories too.
- can't see this one winning much
- "under construction" = "concrete overshoes"?
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
It's difficult to say how the shotgun massacres that plague
our schools, workplaces, and university computer rooms
might be avoided. Would it be better if we'd kept our
children from the mind-bending Quakey Doom violence game
that we have heard so much of from our television experts?
If someone had gone back in time and killed Siouxsie and The
Banshees before they'd met John Peel - could that changed
our present for the better? The only solution we've heard of
that works, really *works*, in preventing (or at least
limiting) occupational carnage, is arming all your kids and
cow-orkers to the teeth with RUBBER BAND TOYS, and letting
God sort them out. Just make sure you're the only one with
the "Uzzi"[sic]. Available in this country from the Kite
Store, 48 Neal Street, London. Well, they were until
everyone we knew bought out the shop's stock.
-  not yet - but it's waiting to happen, isn't it?
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
"It's QUAKE O'Clock!"... ONION editor has stalker...
RIP http://people.netscape.com/mcmullen/ ... *now* you tell us:
... no, we're not stalking him - we just thought you'd like
http://www.jwz.org/webcollage/ ... http://126.96.36.199/jfk/
- really realistic "because OSWALD's not there"... so,
evil electricity company, it's PAYBACK TIME - and we're doing
the paying! http://www.homepower.com/rogues.htm ... if you
felt sorry for the guy who got his arm chopped off in the
you'll love http://home.earthlink.net/~rpalacios/jarjar/ ...
still time to enter the next DARWIN AWARDS, Juan:
http://spin.com.mx/~jmlozano/indexi.html ... jokes-in-the-URL:
... CLIFF STOLL now *knitting* Klein bottles... don't encourage:
but does it have a WATERSLIDE TRANSFERS boss monster:
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
the less rude http://www.ntk.net/tvgohome/
TV NOTES>> yes, L7 taking their pants down does qualify as
THE BEST OF THE WORD (10.30pm, Fri, C4)... some sort of
"mud" comment compulsory for all coverage of GLASTONBURY '99
(11.15pm, Fri, BBC2)... and C5 shows its commitment to
old-fashioned smut as well as the new stuff, with Russ Meyer
tit-thrills rollercoaster SUPERVIXENS (11.50pm, Fri, C5)...
not at all affected by such sensationalist ratings-grabbing,
TIMEWATCH (9.40pm, Sat, BBC2) wheels out yet another
"history of pornography"... Patrick Stewart hops on board
ALISTAIR MACLEAN'S DEATH TRAIN (10.50pm, Sat, BBC1) -
tragically not the first in a series of rhyming
thriller-writer movies: THOMAS HARRIS' DEADLY PARIS, TOM
CLANCY'S FONDANT FANCY... THE WIZARD OF OZ (1pm, Sun, BBC1)
launches BBC1's "Twister Week", apparently in the absence of
the film "Twister" itself - unless it's on next Saturday or
something... and remade Robert Rodriguez shoot-em-up
DESPERADO (10pm, Sun, C4) is not based around The Eagles'
song of the same name... FOR THE LOVE OF (1.45am, Sun, C4)
features various clinical paranoids on the subject of "Big
Brother"; phone-tapping, surveillance, microwave
thought-control etc... looks like the "Miss Norwich" in
better-than-usual KNOWING ME KNOWING YOU (10.45pm, Mon, UK
Gold) went on to become the non-Sally Phillips receptionist
in I'm Alan Partridge... effortful history romp THE MADNESS
OF KING GEORGE (10pm, Mon, C4) wasn't called "The Madness Of
King George III" because Americans would think it was a
sequel... and PLAYING NINTENDO WITH GOD (11pm, Tue, C4) is
about terminally ill kids with AIDS, and not a
characteristically over-the-top review of Zelda 64... Rutger
Hauer is - literally and metaphorically - brought back from
the dead by derviative sci-fi REDLINE (9pm, Tue, C5)...
over-reverential muso jazz club ALL BACK TO MINE (11.30pm,
Wed, C4) sounds like a laugh-free "Vinyl Justice" from The
Adam And Joe Show... and the scheduling suggests that
chat-show MICHAEL MOORE LIVE (2.35am, Wed, C4) was bought in
as part of some bumper package deal, also implied by
subsequent chance to see Errol Morris's self-descriptive
FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL (3.15am, Wed, C4)...
FILM>> "Guaranteed to make you jump, laugh, scream and cover
your eyes" (Daily Express) - *and that's just Rachel Weisz's
acting!*, in dumb-ass sub-Lovecraft flesh-eating Evil Undead
adventure comedy THE MUMMY (bbfc: 0m 14s cut to obtain a
'12' category, for frequent, scary scenes of horror). Or
"Indiana Jones And The Endless Dynamation Particle System
Shots", as our f/x pals are apparently calling it...
following last-month's "The Corruptor", what is it with Mark
Wahlberg and pseudo-Hong Kong buddy action thrillers,
inquires explosive quick-talking breakdance assassin romp
THE BIG HIT (imdb: chase / black-comedy / kidnapping /
hitman / machismo / screwball / miscegenation / violence);
also stars Christina "Married With Children" Applegate,
ubiquitous straight-to-video hero Lou Diamond Phillips, and
DS9's Avery Brooks... so, presumably an improvement on the
rest of the Brit-shit being rushed out before Star Wars,
including Billy Connolly celebrity criminal chiller THE DEBT
COLLECTOR (bbfc: uncut, passed '18' for strong violence,
sexual violence and coarse language)... and Ewan McGregor/
Anna Friel's ill-judged celebration of gross financial
ineptitude, ROGUE TRADER (bbfc: uncut, passed '15' for
strong language); "It's 'Wall Street' - on acid!" chortles
The Sunday Express, revealing more about their reviewing
technique than we really wanted to know...
BUBBLING UNDER>> frankly we're disappointed by the current
confectionery: CADBURY'S MILLENNIUM BUG (as cheap as 20p in
Sainsburys) is tacky sub-caramel rubbish foiled to look like
the "zeroids" from Terrahawks; CADBURY'S CRAZE peanut-butter
bar (about 40p) is almost nauseatingly salty, and features a
cardboard protective shield - the ultimate chocolate
affectation; and CADBURY'S STAR WARS EPISODE 1 (25p)
explains - somewhat unnecessarily - that it's "From the
Makers of Cadbury's Wispa", and is indeed a small Wispa, but
with "6 Different Character Bars To Collect"... NESTLE
haven't done much better, with POLO SUPER OJ'S reprising the
"giant Polo" packaging of last summer's Polo Super Mint [NTK
1999-06-05] plus their equally oversized price; 49p for a
few tangy orange "rich in Vitamin C" tablets. Still, it's up
to the uniformly pale-green POLO CITRUS SHARP (20p) to
finally appease all those who think Trebor Refreshers don't
taste enough like bath salts; and don't get us started on
POLO BUTTER-UPS... instead we've been swigging the latest
fizzy drinks or, clearly influenced by disapproving
middle-class parents, the "flavoured waters" as some
supermarkets now call them... old-skool Dandelion And
Burdock-mongers SILVER STREAM have moved with the times and,
echoing the Penfield Organ in Do Androids Dream Of Electric
Sheep?, have launched IN THE MOOD (UKP1.09 bottle,
Sainsburys): spring water, fruit juices, plus "natural
botanicals" (ginseng, rosehip, acesulfame K, etc) to induce
states of excitement, refreshment, tranquility or
sensuality. We've only tried the first two, with limited
results; to explore other moods (naked aggression, perhaps),
may we suggest pre-mixed alco-pop RED SQUARE, an "energising
blend of premium vodka, caffeine and taurine"... we haven't
dared taste female-oriented milk-serum fizz RIVELLA [NTK
1999-03-12] - "sounds like rubella in a can to me", comments
one tipster... on a related note, reader JOHN MAYNARD asks:
"Why, on the new Tomb Raider Lucozade adverts, doesn't the
energy bar on the top of the screen show any increase when
Lara drinks the orange energy nectar?"... in other news,
BROOKE BOND has suspended a year-long trial of hot canned
drinks in the Granada TV region; the drinks were "warmed to
55 degrees C in specially designed cabinets"... while the
latest US fad is "supercarbonating" soft drinks with more
CO2 than usual; each can of EXCUSE ME'S new BELCHER range -
Loogie Lime, Gastro Grape etc - comes with its own "belch
gauge"... not fizzy, but expensive: RIBENA SMOOTHIES (75p)
are the thinnest we've ever chugged; more like various fruit
juices - blackcurrant, strawberry, pineapple - mixed with
cream. Inspection of the ingredients reveals: they *are*
various fruit juices, mixed with cream... and finally, back
on semi-solids, kudos to Cadbury's highly paid product
strategists who, responding to Nestle's fast-selling KitKat
Chunky, devised the TIMEOUT CHUNKY, almost indistigushable
from its rival. "Bwaha-ha-ha," our correspondent writes:
"Soon *all* earth food shall be in 'chunky' form!"...
>> 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
"choice of the Daily Post, regional paper for the North West, generation"
NEED TO KNOW
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