_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk>
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Q. "Why is every futuristic movie, such as Bladerunner, so dark? Is
there a light bulb shortage in the future?"
- RICHARD HART, misunderstanding the nature of "film noir"
A. ...because the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long!
>> HARD NEWS <<
At last, a use for JONATHAN UNGOED-THOMAS! This week saw
another of his incisive, in-depth investigations of the
stinking filthpot that is the Net: a revealing probe into
the millions of pounds lost by banks to cybergangs of
cyberterrorist cybercriminals. Of course, it's not exactly
news (the Sunday Times has been running with this urban
legend since 1996), so why relaunch the story now? Might the
clue be in the repeated theme that the criminals are "using
encryption", and GCHQ's kindly offering to "help companies
safeguard themselves"? Far be it from us to suggest that
Jonathan has proved himself sufficiently gullible to be
taken in by the regular spook troll for favourable
cybercrime stories. After all, who wouldn't want to miss
Cheltenham's generous suggestion, relayed by the piece, that
they "inspect sensitive computer systems of key companies"?
And we're sure this has nothing to do with GCHQ's ongoing
search for outside income, in the form of those hefty
- next week: CYBERTERRORISTS SEIZE COOKIE RECIPE, HOLD NEIMANN-MARCUS TO RANSOM
- my god! they've been at it for *years*!
As predicted, SCRAMBLING FOR SAFETY worked its semi-annual
magic of tempting government policy-makers out of their
ivory towers - straight into the giant rotating-knife
machines of the uk crypto community. Poor Patricia Hewitt
announced the death of key escrow with the tone of someone
expecting a standing ovation, only to find everyone else had
moved on to her government's latest fuck-up: reversing the
polarity of the burden-of-proof flow in the latest
proposals. The ukcrypto posse pointed out that if they sent
her an encrypted batch of child pr0n, and then shopped her,
under the current proposals she could could go to jail for
refusing to reveal the plaintext - even though she didn't
have it. Hewitt, who has a background in Liberty (the civil
rights org, not the shop), made "What? Where does it say
that? Oh, right. Well, it's not *meant* to say that" noises
- expect an amendment exempting government ministers from
self-incrimination in the next draft. How many versions of
this bill are we up to now?
- play "spot the idiocy" with a pal
Over 240,000 intercontinental ballistic cancel messages were
launched at the uk.* news hierachy over the week, all
originating from an connect.com.au account. Is the Aussie
government taking a more pro-active stance with their
censorship initiative? Grundy Productions fighting back at
uk.media.tv.misc? Or, a little more likely, is it the work
of one of uk.*'s increasing number of troll and spamworts,
now bouncing their nukes through an open antipodean news
server? Nobody knows, but this is USENET, so everybody has
an opinion. Newbies thrashed about in uk.local.*, demanding
that "whoever's in charge" fix the problem. The "whoever's
in charge" spent their time trying to killfile all the
newbies, and arguing about whether anything could be done.
Death of the UK Usenet, antinews at 11.
- "no worries" - connect.com.au
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
THE SUN mysteriously relaunch currantbun.com as bun.com;
equally mysteriously, new install CD's don't work... where
"it" is site logging data: http://www.gettingit.com/logs/
... http://wwwyahoo.co.uk points to... note absence of
"phones": http://st5.yahoo.com/iridiumgifts/index.html ...
not just Linuxen who hassle Alan Cox to fix their software:
travel - IN TIME!: http://www.ntk.net/doh/990924time.jpg ...
when TAGS attack: http://www.ntk.net/doh/990924plain.gif ...
plus, entirely understandable NT error of the week: "Memory
Allocations May Fail When There Are Large Free Blocks":
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Call it liturgical programming: Donald Knuth's latest
displacement activity to take his mind off Volume 4 is a
lecture series on religion, randomness and the art of
programming in MIT, Boston, starting on 1999-10-06 (advanced
warning so you can book your plane tickets). Presumably not
offering his usual $2.56 reward for any lapses in faith,
Donald will be discussing his 3:16 project, wherein he
analysed the 16th paragraph of the third chapter in every
book of the bible. And before you say anything, Isaac Newton
did weird stuff too, and you still use his algorithms, don't you?
- and on the fourth day, God got, like really *into* font kerning
- Donald and God: the last two people not to have e-mail
- eradicating Godless free software
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
Just to show that we don't harbour any ill will to our
Australasian readers (hey, if geographical proximity to
idiocy was a problem, we'd all be in trouble), here's
CGI-PROXY, a tiny CGI Perl script that lets any server act
as an anonymising relayer of Web pages. It should defeat any
filtering program that forbids by URL. It has a subset of
the standard proxy spin-offs, too: pages can be served
without images, cookies can be filtered, and adverts
ignored. Having an open proxy is begging to have your
bandwidth sucked away, but make friends with a geek in
another country with cgi access, and you'll have password
protected surfing until they prise your history logs for
your cold blue fingers. Works for most corporate filters too!
- can we have our newsgroups back now, please
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
"*how* much do I no longer need the weirding module!":
http://www.angelfire.com/ma/duneguy/ ... that "Tales Of The
Unexpected/ Four Rooms" wager more popular than we thought:
http://www.who2.com/missingdigits.html ... RADIO TIMES does
panic re-design to avoid confusion with TV GO HOME... Belgian
THE ONION: http://www.atmosphere.be/media/theheadlines/ ...
"Reach Out and Touch Somebody with a Diana Ross e-mail card"
- no, not that hard... DRIVER game has a lot to answer for:
... just liked the name: http://prosthetic-monkey.com/ ...
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> it's not all "fab" down at the CD-ROM fab plant for
Michael Douglas and Demi Moore in mismarketed Mikey Crichton
sexual harrassment VR thriller DISCLOSURE (9pm, Fri, ITV)...
proving it's - perhaps - not too late for a Generation X
slacker sitcom after all, SPACED (9.30pm, Fri, C4) features
Simon "Faith In The Future" Pegg, that annoying girl off
that camera advert, plus what are worryingly trumpeted as
"cultural references" - as opposed to other TV shows, which
all exist in their own hermetic universe... and the weekend
movie schedule reaches "MA" in Maltin's index, with Brit WW2
afterlifer A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (12.40pm, Sat, BBC2);
mid-range Woody Allen romp MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY (9.30pm,
Sat, BBC2); and of course, original Hannibal Lecter chiller
Michael Mann's MANHUNTER (10pm, Sat, C4) - the only one of
the three to feature prominent product placement for "Glaser
safety slugs"... aiding their mission to become *the*
channel for robot crime-fighters, C5 airs the pilot of the
ROBOCOP spin-off show (5.55pm, Sun, C5) plus regular mascot
Knight Rider... "So, why aren't you as funny any more?"
unlikely to be the opening question levelled at Steve Martin
in thinly disguised "Bowfinger" advert OMNIBUS (10.40pm,
Mon, BBC1)... while some shrewd racism satire and a florid
Jeff Goldblum pad out patchy Samuel L Jackson boxing comedy
THE GREAT WHITE HYPE (9pm, Mon, C5)...
FILM>> "Rushmore" meets "Drop Dead Gorgeous" - but in a
good way - in sharp-scripted foul-mouthed Matthew
Broderick/ Reese Witherspoon high-school politico-satire
ELECTION (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/ : mockery of
Jesus' love; disgusting prayer to God; repeated lesbianism;
adultery; covered sexual intercourse with vulgar talk
typically associated with X-rated videos, even by a
teen)... just edges out Harold "Ghostbusters/ Groundhog
Day" Ramis' take on now well-trodden sensitive-mobster
comedies ANALYZE THIS (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/
: attention to male crotch; skimpy swimwear; multiple
murders by gunfire and push out of a window; sexual
intercourse - covered by a bedsheet with body forms
ghosting through the sheet with body folds pinching the
sheet with characteristic motions, positioning, and sounds
- by an unmarried couple). Interestingly, the A4 press ad
implies that the full title is actually "Analyze This - And
Lisa Kudrow"... losing their deposit this week: Jan de
"Twister" Bont's lazy Neeson/ Zeta-Jones CGI remake THE
HAUNTING (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/ : explosive
startles; unholy manifestations; excessive cleavage and
breast exposure; admission of bisexuality; child mischief
by disregard for private property; ominous invisible
threat)... and Michelle "Where are they now?" Pfeiffer
heading up what's most charitably described as a cast with
"international appeal" - Kevin Kline? Anna Friel? - in
lushly made Shakespeare anachronism-fest A MIDSUMMER
NIGHT'S DREAM (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/ : petty
theft; planning to defy father's wish; nude female breasts;
fondling of female breasts; portrayal of beings having
power of the weather; counterfeiting of God's plan for the
family hierarchy; public urination)...
HARD LIT>> such a disappointing crop this month, we can
hardly bring ourselves to link to Amazon: Greg Egan's usual
eigenvectors - next step in human evolution, quest to
exotic island etc - collapse into a decidedly non-optimal
configuration in TERANESIA (trade paperback RRP 9.99,
Amazon 7.99) - sure, more accessible than some of his
"previous", but that's not what you're reading Egan for, is
it? You're better off with his recently re-released
QUARANTINE (RRP 5.99, Amazon 4.79)... similarly, Stephen
Baxter is on something of a recycling tip, combining DIY
NASA, autistic Midwich Cuckoos, 2001 gateway artefacts
*and* the neturino time travel from Greg Benford's
"Timescape" in new hardback TIME (RRP 17.99, Amazon 14.39)
- not particularly based on the West End musical of the
same name... NTK reader recommendations haven't been
particularly glowing either: ANDREW ORLOWSKI enjoyed the
comments on THE GIZA POWER PLANT: TECHNOLOGIES OF ANCIENT
- "solid, scientific literature" - though apparently "a
couple of weak points revolving around Cayce, magnetic
elevation, stellar radiation, and laser transmission could
have been shored up a bit more"... SIMON WHITAKER found the
ideal way to teach kids and/or foreigners serial killer
terminology in the special Penguin easy-reader edition of
... while, following The Science Of The X Files, The
Metaphysics Of Star Trek etc comes a UK edition of SEINFELD
AND PHILOSOPHY: A BOOK ABOUT EVERYTHING AND NOTHING
and finally, those who remember Po "Teletubbies" Bronson's
hilariously defensive online comments on his previous novel
"The First $20m Is Always The Hardest" will be pleased to
learn that his new collection THE NUDIST ON THE LATE SHIFT
(RRP 10.00, Amazon 8.00) begins with an equally convincing
account of how it's OK for him to interview all these big
CEOs, because he is immune to the lure of big money. So, no
need to feel guilty about downloading most of the chapters
from the Wired and Forbes sites then...
>> 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 "visiting our strange relations"
NEED TO KNOW
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