"During the transition, there had been some
talk of Pournelle becoming head of NASA..."
- NORMAN SPINRAD on sci-fi's most expensive, least successful prank
...Larry Niven: Surgeon General, Robert Heinlein: PRESIDENT OF EARTH
[ http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/en/1999/07/?c=14star ]
>> HARD NEWS <<
At the last possible moment, the Government published its
draft E-COMMERCE BILL. And, while all that key escrow stuff
has evaporated, guess what took its place? Blank pages? A
sensible policy aimed at *encouraging* electronic commerce?
How about: a bunch of vague hand-waving secondary
legislation hooks, that mean that key escrow could be
introduced any time without further parliamentary
supervision? Plus (and pardon us if we see the Long Arm Of
The Straw all over this) incredibly draconian potential
punishments for key-holders. Business incentives like: two
years in jail if you fail to reveal a key to data in your
possession, WITH THE OBLIGATION ON YOU TO PROVE THAT YOU
DON'T HAVE IT. Or: five years imprisonment if you reveal to
someone that their key has been compromised by law
enforcement - with no limit on how long you have to keep
mum. Equivalent to, say, us revealing that Jack Straw's
communications were monitored in the Seventies - and then
being sent to jail until 2004! Building confidence in secure
transaction? My god, anyone with any sense wouldn't go
*near* a secure transaction! Oh, yes, but that's the real
point, isn't it. Sorry. Sorry, Mr Spook. I'll get off line now.
- we're running out of "encrypted in PDF" jokes
- e-mail it email@example.com please? Pretty please?
Spurn the Freeserve? Mmm. We have our principles, but we're
not idiots. Well, we are (and we don't) but we're positive
we're not the biggest idiots, and that's what's important
with these Internet stocks. Si, the Freeserve model is dumb.
Uhuh, the only bit of it that works is the free ISP model
and the associated smarties who developed that all live at
Energis/PlanetOnline, and not the Freeserve everyone is
buying into. The Freeserve you're buying into is a few
blokes in a room drinking beer, watching PA press stories
upload themselves, and copying out other people's help
pages. And after all, if there was real solid tech there,
why would Freeserve be running around London trying to hire
a CTO? But all that doesn't matter, because if share-dealing
had anything to do with future yields, we'd all have BT
shares and stockbrokers would be wise, Yoda-like figures who
don't touch cocaine for fear of the long-term risks. Hats off
to those dutiful NTK readers who *did* bother reading the
prospectus, though: one noted that Freeserve users seem to
average about 48 page hits a month. Hmmm - going to have to
pipe a lot of e-commerce through those 1.6 daily pages...
And thanks to Ben Lamb, who spotted the subliminal "SEX"
logo on the baby's Internet Explorer on the back cover. Now
*that's* the beginning of a realistic business model...
- if you see Sid, tell him: SELL! SELL! SELL!
- we're sure they must have paid...
- ...them in shares...
While NSI and ICANN continue their informal shivving
sessions in darkened alleys around Washington, isn't it a
relief to know that our own Nominet, keeper of .uk, is above
such things? They're acting very decently at the moment,
with rumours the the price of registration will drop in the
next few weeks. But, what's that? Nominet are thinking of
IPOing themselves? Great! I guess that means that everyone
in the UK gets a share, right? Because it's our domain,
right? Right? Hello?
- "nic", hey?
- "using smoke and mirrors", NSI? suggest you look in one yourself
[CORRECTION: While the above would have been a terrific
analysis of the opportunities and threats by posed the 1999
Nominet AGM, the AGM had already taken place when we wrote
it. The carpet-baggers were vanquished, and the price
drop confirmed. See http://www.nic.uk/news/AGM.1999.html .
Also see the look on our face when we found out. Doh!]
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
"Top DJs can command up to UKP8000 for a two-hour set, and
some play several sets in one night at different locations,
says one club source" - THE TIMES' shocking insights into
that high-rolling Tim Westwood lifestyle... JFK Jnr
"shoo-in" for DARWIN AWARD... DAWKINS freaked by spread of
"meme" meme... bankers prepare for that tricky Y10K bug:
http://www.ntk.net/doh/990723y10k.gif ... FRENCH CONNECTION
suing to obtain www.fcuk.com - owner claims was innocently
providing service for people who mistype "fuck" ...
surprising swearing results when you search YAHOO for "UPS
howto txt"... MICROSOFT WINDOWS MEDIA would like to recall
the message, "Welcome to the Microsoft Windows Media
Technologies Weekly International Newsletter!"... as
"supreme arbiters of taste", you'd think they'd work out how
to use <PRE>: http://www.yesmate.com/misc/ntk.htm ... "Do
not proceed in this site if you are not located in the
United States" tempts http://www.nipper.com/ ... DARTH
MAUL's eyes identical to INKTOMI logo... ORACLE's billion
dollar doh!: http://osiris.978.org/~brianr/oracle-gpl.gif
... our traditional APPLE dismissal: iBook? girly Kia-Ora
handbag with bugger-all RAM, more like... and the grim
inevitability of: http://www.firstusa.com/woodstock/ ...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
One thing we've always liked about the Amiga community is
its solidarity, that spirit of unity and sense of purpose
where Commodore had *always* been at war with Atari, and
"Intel - Outside!" was a rallying call that, more often than
not, would end with a Windows user receiving a well-earned
beating in the car park. How ironic it would be if they
turned those fearsomely honed self-defence skills on *each
other*, at WORLD OF AMIGA 99 (1999-07-24/25, Kensington Town
Hall Conference Centre, London) - the first gathering since
spurned QNX's announcement that they'll be building their
own PowerPC Amigas to foster bitter ST-style infighting with
those pursuing the current Linux path. There are also
unconfirmed rumours that Nicholas Negroponte's bits 'n'
atoms will be appearing at the ICA on the evening of Tue
1999-07-27, for those who really want to get off on that
early 90s nostalgia.
- we once wrote some Intel consultancy on an A1200. Ha.
- (optimistically?) refers to "ticket queue"
Tony Hoare's work influenced a generation of programming
languages and thousands of CS studients. He invented great
chunks of modern parallel programming, tried to save Algol,
managed to kill Ada, helped with Z, did that Occam stuff,
and seemed, in retrospect, to be much less up his own bottom
than some academics we could mention. And we bet he could
have that Tom Christiansen in a fight, easy. He is retiring
this year, and a Valhalla of deities are dropping into
Oxford for a few illicit global declarations. We're talking
Dijkstra, Knuth, Wirth, and Meyer people! And we're talking
three hundred quid if booked before 31st of July, (bit less
if you plead poverty). Or some of you Perl Mongers could
upload "Time::Bomb" onto the platform and exterminate the
opposition forever. Fun extends from 1999-09-13 - 1999-09-15.
- presumably they'll all happen in parallel
- he suffered for your art
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
As we all know, history repeats itself: first as tragedy,
then as farce. Then history is copied by Microsoft, who use
it to create Microsoft Farcical Tragedies for Windows. Viz:
it was barely weeks ago that we chuckled at that mock
configurable Blue Screen Of Death press release. Now we
discover it really is possible: hidden registry settings
(available since Windows 3.1) allow you to select a Cyan
Screen Of Death, a Bright Yellow on Gray Screen of Death:
any colour you want, as long as it's broke. Even better,
Nathan Lineback managed to gather his disbelieving wits long
enough to create BSOD PROPERTIES - a Visual Basic program
that provides an attractive UI for those endless BSOD
choices. Never let it be said that MS isn't about choice.
- does that mean the BSOD is one of the stablest bits of Windows code?
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
first JFK, now the http://www.jonestownreenactment.org/ ...
BO2K: the fun begins: http://www.ntk.net/bo2k/
... good news for drivers, bad news for SIMON DAVIES:
... LEONARD MALTIN fesses up at last (strong language)
SCOTT "The Onion" DIKKERS: do chicks really go for this
"sad clown" schtick?... training wheels for SNOWCRASH
fanboys: http://zapbikes.com/powerski/ ... HAL JORDAN is
the new SPECTRE... is that PALMPILOT GAYDAR in your pocket,
or http://drunkenmonkeys.com/palm.html ?... "The only
reason I play ULTIMA ONLINE is for all the 'Britishing':
paying real world dollars to people for cyber-sex, then
player killing them as I climax. That's the only reason
anyone plays UO - all the violent sex. Jesus, man, where
have you been?" ... scariest explanation so far for
huge MICROSOFT apps - there's something *else* in there:
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
the less rude http://www.ntk.net/tvgohome/
TV>> former host Nick Hancock pops up in Paul Merton's new
ROOM 101 (10pm, Fri, BBC2) - though, ironically, it's as
Paul's first guest, not as one of the most loathsome things
that humanity can imagine... "starring Ron Perlman" isn't a
phrase you hear every day, but remains perhaps the most
coherent description of Jeunet & Caro's Gilliam-esque Alien:
Resurrection tryout THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN (12.15am, Fri,
BBC2)... it doesn't seem to be the scheduled rave episode of
INSPECTOR MORSE (8.10pm, Sat, ITV) after all, but some stupid
holiday opera one... and Mark "Mac Daddy" Morrison reveals a
previously unexpressed concern for the health of "hos" and
"bitches" everywhere by contributing to breast cancer concert
WICKED WOMEN (10.50pm, Sat, BBC1) - maybe he misunderstood the
title... on consecutive days, C4 examines both DYSLEXIC GENIUS
(8.30pm, Sun, C4) - Peter Molyneux, Richard Branson, etc - and
DYSLEXIC CRIMINALS (8.30pm, Mon, C4) - yet, annoyingly, no
DYSLEXIC CRIMINAL GENIUSES... rubbing in the fact that there's
only about 8 or 9 more episodes left *ever*, BBC2 seem to be
showing an out-of-sequence double-bill of THE LARRY SANDERS
SHOW (11.10pm, Sun, BBC2)... Carol Vorderman's apparently
bottomless appeal is hopefully among the items TESTED TO
DESTRUCTION (9pm, Mon, ITV)... Jake "young Anakin" Lloyd and
Mimi "X Files" Rogers go all cyber-thriller in VIRTUAL
OBSESSION (9pm, Mon, C5)... while "orgone energy" madman and
Kate Bush-inspirer Wilhelm Reich lends a whiff of
pseudoscience to the first edition of docu-porn THE SEXUAL
CENTURY (9.30pm, Mon, ITV)...
FILM>> another week of post-Star Wars oddities, with faux-
Peckinpah testosterone-fest arthouse Western THE HI-LO COUNTRY
(imdb: friendship / brothers / love-triangle / cattle / post-
wwii / friends / poker / snow) marking another entry on the
erratic CVs of director Stephen Frears (The Grifters, My
Beautiful Laundrette, The Comic Strip Presents), Woody
"Cheers" Harrelson, and Patricia Arquette (True Romance, Ed
Wood)... and you're thinking: blimey, the accents in these
Ken Loach films are getting hard to understand nowadays,
but that's because hard-hitting Brassed Off Poets Society
limited-release docu-like IT ALL STARTS TODAY (imdb: also
known as "Ca Commence Aujourd'hui") is directed by Bertrand
"L.627" Tavernier and they're actually all speaking French...
FEEBDACK>> hot on the heels of last week's dead-tree round-up,
"Why nothing on the Playboy/ Lara Croft/ Nell McAndrew
pharce?" inquires MATT HALL, on behalf of old-school porn-
purchasers everywhere. "Nearly the first Playboy issue ever
pulled from UK newsstands," he elaborates, "and they have to
sticker *all* the copies to cover up the 'Tombraider' logo on
the cover". News 'n' sycophancy site CROFT TIMES has the full
story http://www.cubeit.com/ctimes/news/199907/news0438.html -
Eidos claimed Lara's "squeaky clean image" could be "tarnished
for all time" (that's "squeaky clean" as in "violates ancient
burial sites, shoots people and animals"); maybe the
clamp-down's to create demand for their own inevitable "adult"
version... "Stop slating Amiga so much at NTK!" pleads MICHAEL
COPPINS, apropos, it seems, of nothing in particular. "It
seems that NTK spends its time slating every platform - is any
platform any good?" Not that we've noticed, Mike. Next!...
"Ta for the story" quips Britain's hardest games journo and
destroyer-of-worlds STUART CAMPBELL, still high from defeating
the mighty EMAP [NTK 1999-07-09]. "You'll probably be too
scared not to plug my ace archive of Digi[tiser] columns,"
Campbell continues. "See me be exactly right about the
videogames business, 42 times in a row." Yup, as soon as you
get the hang of Usenet naming conventions, Stu, you'll be
unstoppable http://ds.dial.pipex.com/thumbs_aloft/digi/ ...
"Re: your mention of 'The Great Egg Race'[NTK 1999-07-09]",
begins NIGEL LUCAS, promisingly. "We [a discerning subversive
minority at ICL] want to see a return to harmless boffin-
orientated fun where it's not the winning, but the strange
hairdos that count. What *did* happen to Heinz Wolff?" Well,
using a bit of our own Egg Race-style ingenuity, Nigel, we
used a "search engine" to discover that he made a toothpaste
ad http://www.westwood.u-net.com/ads/m_art_w.htm , wrote for
lame pop-sci mag Frontiers, and was last seen at a conference
for Vacuum Technology And Semiconductor Processing Equipment
And Materials http://www.vacandsemi.co.uk/showinfo.htm . The
Great Egg Race is often shown at anti-social hours on UK
Horizons; a full retrospective appears at the madly
comprehensive TV Cream http://tv.cream.org/arkg3.htm - we
advise you click around there for a few weeks and, please,
*never* email us about children's television again...
>> 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
"Fur alle Freaks ... Sarkasmus ist garantiert!"
NEED TO KNOW
THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK.
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