"BTW, I would have rejected the name Story Server because its
initials are SS, the name of the secret police in Nazi Germany,
probably the most despised pair of letters in western culture."
- Dave Winer, scripting.com, Monday 1999-12-13
...ditto for Suddenly Susan, Steven Spielberg, the Secret Seven
>> HARD NEWS <<
With only -36509 days to go before Y2K, we expected a last-minute
stumble of OS updates to hit the stores - but we weren't prepared
for this Christmas stampede. This week saw Microsoft announcing
the rush to market of Windows 2000 - on the same day as Linus
louchely suggested the code freeze on the 2.4 kernel. That means
that the release date for both OSes is heading to be sometime
around February 2000. Just to make the alignment of the spheres
even creepier, factor in the Feb roll-out of popular Linux clone,
Solaris 8, and (add pending the unanimous agreement of collective
policy document sub-committees 8 through 24) the inauguration of
the 2.2 Debian distribution. This is either a) the effect of some
Silicon Valley pheromone, similar to that menstruation
synchronisation effect, b) a horrible coincidence hybrid of Open
Source ego and Marketing "savvy", c) a disaster comparable to Y2K,
as every First Adopter on the Net simultaneously hoses their
machines in their eagerness to uncover the new bugs in these
latest versions. Or, most likely, d) - all of the above. And more.
- Linus can't spell millennium. He's ... just a man!
- some students were harmed in the manufacture of this product
- "DOS is just a bunch of poorly debugged... oops"
- STEVE "PRESCOTT" BALLMER
- intriguingly, AmigaOS Y2K issues include "leaking acid"
Proving that not *all* LARA CROFT fans are obsessed with large-
breasted women - quite the opposite, in fact! - Eidos producer
Kenneth Lockley was arrested for "trying to procure a 9 year-old
girl for sex" while visiting London for the launch of Tomb Raider
IV: The Last Revelation (the episode which, you may recall,
features a "prequel" Lara as a young girl). APB Celebrity News
noted that Lockley was the third tech exec busted for under-age
propositioning this year.
- well, 4 tech execs, if you count this plausible "CNN" report
- oddly, no coverage on "Croft Times", Eidos Homepage...
- proposes new Lara "with tits on back" to "please gamers"
Still, proving that not *all* coders are perverted sex weirdos,
JOHN CARMACK, while announcing the winners to the "Id Software
figurine chess set contest", took the opportunity to announce his
secret "check-mating" of fellow Id employee, Anna Kang. Carmack
went on to reassure fans that he *would* be taking a workstation
on their imminent Hawaii honeymoon, to avoid falling into "some
- "Fountainhead Entertainment"? *More* "Ayn Rand" games?
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
DAIKATANA slips *again*... "NASA security survey" publicly
available: http://survey.nasa.gov/ ... PAUL MCCARTNEY webcast
hosted by msn.co.uk - server falls over within 5 mins of start
time ("most didn't get through as lines became jammed" reports THE
SUN)... gettingit.com gets THE FALCO!... Network Associates' PR
agency, STEWART-MUIR, emails journos warning they "may have passed
on" a virus to them... bloody EUROPEANS all look the same:
http://uk.real.com/ ... yes, but the German KRUPPS had 2 "p"s in
it: http://www.krupsonline.com/krupssucks/krupandhol.html ...
Guidelines for use, management, design of PUBLIC SECTOR WEBSITES:
- don't stretch to use of "word wrap"... special one-off audio
DOH: http://www.ntk.net/doh/peter_b.wav ...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Our usual incompetence and hazy relationship with deadlines has,
once again, torpedoed any hope of an NTK end-of-year bash, but the
next best thing (and, for many of us, the social event of the
season) will surely be THE LONDON 2600 XMAS PARTY (from 7pm, this
Sat 1999-12-18, WebsHack Cyber Cafe, Dean St, London - "a short
walk north of the Groucho Club", they add, inexplicably, for the
benefit of media wankers and/or Douglas Adams?). Attractions
include a "beer drinking contest", "caffeine contest" (drinking
it, presumably, but you never know), a "hacker chic" dress code,
encrypted "party food" menu, spot-the-fed competition, modified
MIDI karaoke and, rounding off the festivities at 2am, a storming
audience-participation Powerpoint presentation entitled "UK
Infowar & Y2K Vulnerabilities - Who We Warned And Those Still At
- boy-faced man-children: UKP5; women: free
And, for the lamers, Tue 1999-12-21 sees the 5th Birthday/ Y2K
event for net.art mag MUTE (yeah, Christmas is such an outmoded
patriachal concept isn't it?). 8pm, the basement, Universal House,
88-94 Wentworth St, London E1; entrance is supposed to be UKP2
(for the new issue + drinks) but, in an email which (we suspect)
may not have been intended for general publication, the editor
advises: "contributors get in free, so just say you are/were one".
- followed on Wed by "brightest full moon in 186 years"
>> TRACKING <<
making good use of the things that we find
Oh, sure, factoring primes  and searching for intelligent
life may sound important- but how about using the power of these
cool- looking distributed processing screensavers for more
pressing issues: even cooler-looking screensavers? That's the
recursive principle behind ELECTRIC SHEEP, a
xscreensaver-compatible app which displays cool fractal flame
animations when in the foreground, and quietly renders the next
few frames during idle cycles when backgrounded. Cleverly, rather
than try to keep up on its own, it feeds those frames to a central
server which acts as a clearing house for, effectively, a
screensaver rendering farm. Electric Sheep is a waste of time on
so many different levels it's... beautiful.
- devil finds work for idle cycles to do
- "d-raves" not Spiral Tribe-style handle, but actual, dull, surname
 yes, it's a joke. no, please don't carry on mailing us.
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
BBC.CO.UK "email a friend" feature now lets you use words "arse",
"bum", "butt", "cock", "cum", "cunt", "crap", "fellatio", "hump",
"piss", "shag", "shit", "turd", and "wank" - but not "blowjob",
"fuck" or (sadly, for fans of chardonnay) "hardon"... cycle at 10
times the SPEED OF LIGHT: http://www.solar.york.ac.uk/ ... THE
STREET finds its own corrections for glitches in first paragraph:
http://www.ebc.ee/~jp/jp/txt/fiction/neuromancer.html ... "Lowell
has developed a wide range of software applications, including
fingerprinting technologies used by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and the popular video game, FROGGER" - top CV at
http://www.younology.com/corpbiosfinal.html ... CHRISTIAN GAMES to
"rival the quality of non-Christian games" - eg Adventures With
Chickens 95: http://www.wave.net/rocksolid/ ... REINCARNATION
queries that *matter*: http://www.fierce.com/fontaine/bichild.html
... TURNER PRIZE 2000: http://www.minifigmuseum.freeservers.com/
... more STOCK TICKER apps for Linux these days? Just scratching
that "itch", we guess... "Darling, I can see right through you"
(again): http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/319/7225/1596 ...
QUAKE 3 humour: http://www.somethingawful.com/jeffk/index.htm...
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> they make out they're all very radical and irreverent, but in
fact THE BRITISH COMEDY AWARDS (9pm, Sat, ITV) are just as smugly
self-satisfied as any other showbiz backslap fest... speaking of
which, BBC2 again trots out cameo-packed Tarantino nonsense PULP
FICTION (9.45pm, Sat, BBC2)... the hit and miss Xmas movie season
gets off to a flying start with prehistoric Brendan Fraser clunker
CALIFORNIA MAN (4.20pm, Sun, C4), dire Keanu Reeves/ Rachel Weisz
nuclear thriller CHAIN REACTION (10pm, Mon, BBC1), plus glorified
WW2 war-crime THE DAM BUSTERS (2.50pm, Sun, ITV) - hopefully with
that Carling Black Label ad in the breaks... "Chelmsford 123 '99"
is the mud already being slung at Rob "Red Dwarf" Grant's medieval
sitcom DARK AGES (10pm, Mon, ITV)... clearly this is as good a
time as any to repeat two ET-themed Equinoxes and call them an
ALIEN EVENING (9pm, Mon, C4)... amazingly, those "National Theatre
Of Brent" losers are still getting work, their latest being
MASSIVE LANDMARKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (7.30pm, Tue-Fri, C4) - as
if BBC2's "Millennium - A Thousand Years Of History" wasn't
hilarious enough... and does the TV version of HEAT (9.30pm, Tue,
BBC1) also have that weird cut near the end when the car comes
round the corner and everyone on the street then suddenly starts
walking?... vying for tackiest Xmas tie-in are flying Ray Winstone
Ghost-alike LAST CHRISTMAS (9.30pm, Wed, BCB1) and adults as 7-
year-olds abomination THE FLINT STREET NATIVITY (9.30pm, Wed,
ITV)... while C5 takes this opportunity to remind us of the harsh
realities of the international arms trade in fact-based Iraqi
thriller DOOMSDAY GUN (9pm, Thu, C5)...
FILM>> hey maybe it's the school holidays or something, what with
impressively frenetic Yahoo product placement RoboCop CGI spoof
INSPECTOR GADGET (http://www.capalert.com/capreports/ : reckless
driving by non-police personnel to pursue; attempted murder by
explosives; automatic gunfire with lustful enjoyment; a man atop a
woman (dressed); grabbing of private parts; clearly excessive
cleavage; and a long sequnce of Gadget's pants down around his
ankles, repeatedly exposing his underwear). Broderick is his usual
inoffensive self, along with delightfully expressive Joely Fisher
("Paige" from "Ellen", and Carrie's half-sister) though,
controversially, they do reveal the face of arch-villain "Claw"
(and it was Rupert Everett all along!)... more cybernetic action
in song-free box-office-flop Manga "The Snowman" Ted Hughes weepie
THE IRON GIANT (imdb: 1950s / giant-robot / meteorite / paranoia /
robot / small-town / anti-violence / disembodied-hand / kids-and-
family / cold-war / friendship). Blah blah "tide the kids over
until Toy Story 2 comes along". Toy Story 2? *Shit* Story 2, more
like... not that you'll want to go and see them, but this week's
non-robot movies veer alarmingly towards historical whimsy, first
in the form of agoraphobic Tim Roth jazz duel boat movie THE
LEGEND OF 1900 (MPAA: rated R for "language" - what, Italian?)...
while Chow Kun-Fat doesn't do any martial arts, Jodie Foster
doesn't flirt with any serial killers, and neither of them sing,
so there's no real point to cultural imperialism musical turned
action movie ANNA AND THE KING (imdb: banned in Thailand)...
BOOK & MAGAZINE "STOCKING-FILLERS">> conveniently, we persuaded
The Guardian to host our traditional free-CDs round-up this year
(login: guest/ guest). Main omissions were "20th Century Noise: A
Millennial Soundtrack" (Uncut magazine, UKP3.50), which makes a
genuine (if misguided) attempt to cover pop's last 100 years (ie a
lot of scratchy jazz), interspersed with audio news clips of Pearl
Harbour, MLK's "I have a dream", John Lennon getting shot, then
Ice-T pops up at the end swearing a lot. "Boyd Gaines Reads The
Star Trek Insurrection Audiobook" (Star Trek Magazine, UKP4.99) is
far, far worse than you'd ever imagined, and despite the numerous
versions of Groove Armada's At The River, ATB's 9pm (Till I Come),
and Suede's She's In Fashion, no-one seems to have featured any
highlights from NTK's top 3 albums of the year: Lola Rennt (Run
Lola Run) OST, 60 Second Wipeout (Atari Teenage Riot), plus, of
course, Epoch Eclipse - The Ultimate Best Of Hawkwind... in other
(tangential) mag news, James Wallis currently seeks new publishers
for his recently deceased (and surprisingly good) groovy net mag
formerly known as CRAZYNET, which didn't go bust at all -
http://www.erstwhile.demon.co.uk/crazynetisdead.htm has the full
story... plus, at long last, one childhood question answered, as
"prog 2000" of 2000AD is, conveniently enough, the first to
feature a year 2000 cover date: 100 pages, cost (we think) UKP3.75
Earth Money (no price listed for loyal Mercury-dwelling
readers)... and in case you're thrashing around for more last-
minute gift ideas, we've (typically) neglected to update our
Amazon links to include: David "White Dot" Burke's anti-Sky
digibox privacy rant SPY TV (UKP5) http://www.spytv.co.uk - ("The
server www.whitedot.org wishes to set a cookie" hehehe); the long-
awaited post-modern riposte to all those terrible feelgood self-
help manuals, Andrew Boyd's LIFE'S LITTLE DECONSTRUCTION BOOK
(UKP4.99); and, raising the stakes in the "Little Book" stakes
still further, Roger Ebert's net-inspired THE BIGGER LITTLE BOOK
OF HOLLYWOOD CLICHES (UKP7.99) - hilarious as ever, even though
the character translation has transposed a question mark instead
of the "x" multiplication sign throughout...
>> 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.
Registered (incorrectly) at the Post Office as
"you don't need a degree in IT to understand it".
(Bizarre Magazine, Dec issue, spotted by "Craig Ancliff")
NEED TO KNOW
THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK.
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