"A few years ago, we realised that we weren't far away from
having a global telephone network with as many connections
as the human brain. We've passed that now. BT tried to
explore whether there was any danger of consciousness
occurring, but had to give up, because we don't know what
makes a thing conscious."
- IAN PEARSON, BT's head futurololologist
..."A BT Engineer called to verify the existence of a self-aware
artificial intelligence in the phone network, but you were out."
>> HARD NEWS <<
Arthur, are these worlds yours?
We all love Christmas and New Year - because everyone takes
a week off work to spend time with their friends and
families, and all the hacked and broken websites get to
stay up just that little bit longer. GRANADA-TV.CO.UK's
Apache server was radically misconfigured for at least 4
days (until yesterday), generously serving password files to
casual Crack users hoping to obtain logins for "This
Morning" and "Emmerdale" ("woolsack" and "tmo", you slack
Granada sysadmins, you). REGISTER readers were assured that
the defacing of BA's GO-FLY.COM did not put customer data at
risk; shadowy security vigilantes THE DATA NETWORK SECURITY
COUNCIL begged to differ, pointing out that go-fly's
webserver still appeared to be exploitable via script kiddy
favourite Remote Data Services - "with full read/write
privileges". And finally, another seasonal shopper claimed
that placing an order at SERVICESALES.SEL.SONY.COM "lists
the encryption key and output file name (placed under
txt.asc)" - though, to throw those wily haxxors off the
scent, "that line is generated using a white font so it
can't be seen. It shows up if you highlight it, though."
Start as you mean to go on, folks. Start as you mean to go on.
- requires MSIE 4+ web browser, Asynch Connections off
- vs http://www.iamcal.com/ami/ : "Am I The Register Or Not?"
Still, even after a rest, we're left with nothing much this
week but predictable profit warnings, Mac panic price-cuts
and almost-in-accordance-with-prophecy kernel releases. And
so we return to the perennial mysteries, such as: what is it
*really* like at Menwith Hill? Thanks to the ongoing
research at now wildly off-topic Mark-Thomas mailing list
for sending us http://dingo.getbent.net/~petdragon/ - a
Wiccan-oriented guide to relocating there for the American
military. Common prejudice regarding pagans (to wit: lovely
gentle folk who you still never ever want to see skyclad,
ta) are somewhat undone here by the whole "running the
bizarre protestor lady over" thought-experiment in this
guide. That lady is, of course, Lindis Percy, winner of the
1998 "Winston" Big Brother Award for her monitoring of the
monitoring station, and one of the few people to commit a
successful private prosecution against a military police
officer. And we're still not sure where the "do no harm" bit
lies here: but, hell, if you had the chance to conduct a
rite in those golfballs, wouldn't you transfer?
- that "wise woman" mythos not ringing any bells?
- just don't ask about the chocolate pudding
- what JA ([NTK 2000-03-10]) did next
And some heroes and villains remain, whatever the
millennium. Although this year's ISPA awards' have a
particularly tough choice, as their "Internet Villain"
category is sponsored by BRITISH TELECOM. Guess it's no
surprise, then, that the first nomination goes to... David
Edmonds, DG of Oftel. Ah, yes. That universally reviled figure.
- Jack Straw's your safest bet in these situations, BT
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
COMPUSERVE users "not as tech savvy" as AOLers, shudders:
... SOPHOS unveil 2001's major virus threats a month early:
"Browse the best NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTIES events by month",
... could this be the MOST BROKEN WEB PAGE of all time?:
TIME OUT asks "Britain's Net Gurus" about "The Year Ahead"
(p21): "High Streets will start to look archaic, expensive and
boring", says UK MD of LETSBUYIT.COM (who should know); they
then speak to fictional ATTACHMENTS character "Mike Fisher",
and spell his URL wrong... "Where is MOBY today?" enquires
http://www.moby-online.com/ - when he should be at home fixing
his .asp's?... "lesser-used languages" at European Bureau for
promoting same http://www.eblul.org/javapb-gb.htm include
Cornish, Aragonese, GERMAN... your LICENSE FEES at work #n+1:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/images/artists/ - providing free
gold-CD inlay thumbnails... nice warm FALCO! for OVEN UK
... ARTHUR ANDERSEN CONSULTING change name to toothpaste...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Even THE REGISTER, who are paid to do this sort of thing, have
had problems cataloguing the massive publicity onslaught
mounted by KEVIN WARWICK over the holidays. Capitalising on
the apparent kudos of his Royal Institution lectures, Kev went
on to appear in yesterday's Sun, explaining how his "robot
that runs away when anybody in the laboratory tries to switch
it off" is merely the vanguard of "more powerful machines"
which we "will have no option but to obey". His mission to
warn and inform continues next Wednesday 2001-01-10 at IT-in-
education trade show BETT 2001, with his touring crowd-pleaser
"Will it be Super Intelligent Machines or Cyborgs?". Spotter
OPERATIVE IAN seemed oddly reassured that "under 18's will not
be admitted" to the show, and that cybersex pioneer Kevin will
not be involved in teaching "the facts of life".
- vs http://www.lifeskills4kids.com/assembly.html
- the URL that http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/28/15806.html
might have been looking for
- named after Omega's power source in the "The Three Doctors"?
- day 6: "I think I'm in love. WITH A MACHINE!"
>> TRACKING <<
sufficiently advanced technology : the gathering
Seems like only yesterday that we clustered around the
office SGI, revelling in CHRIS PIRAZZI's amazing 1995 live
video->ascii art convertor. Well, now you too can pray that
such fripperies don't lead your company to inevitable
stagnation and collapse, when you too compile your own copy
of HASCIICAM for Video4Linux. Features include dumping in
VT100 friendly spools (for live telecasts via telnet) or
automatic HTML generation for counterintuitively large
Webcam uploads. Now it's just a matter of selling banner-ad
space on your "Am I Naked In This Text Dump Or Not" Website,
and you'll have it all.
- needs aa-lib, as all the best programs do
- "the future was here yesterday", indeed
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
The worse you dress, the more important they'll think you are:
... what's more likely - STALLONE as DR WHO, or KEVIN ELDON
as "gay cyberman"? http://www.gallifreyone.com/news.htm ...
idea for Palm app: http://www.angio.net/personal/climb/speed ...
BILLIE does her bit for http://126.96.36.199/common/comp.htm by
sleeping with orange-haired twat... s/Weird Al/LARRY WALL/g:
http://history.perl.org/misc/al_wall/ ... INFINITE amusement:
http://LHP2.com/leeches/ ... http://www.micromusic.net/ vs
http://www.hybrisnemesis.com/ppot/ ...life imitates SIMPSONS:
... http://www.hymen.co.uk/ vs http://www.technicalvirgin.com
... "No-one knows who installed the [monolith]" - NATCH:
- ALIEN ABDUCTEES go bald, too... mmm, tastes like CHERRY:
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
get out less
TV>> one good thing about the New Year: some decent TV for a
change, with debut runs of FRASIER (10pm, Fri, C4) - plus, on
digital/cable, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (8pm, Fri, Sky1),
ANGEL (9pm, Fri, Sky1) and, later in the week, a double-bill
of high-finance glamour-porn in Yasmine "Baywatch" Bleeth's
TITANS (9pm, Sun, Sky1) plus THE $TREET (9pm, Tue, Sky1),
featuring Jennifer "Labyrinth, Dark City" Connelly... C4
continues its not-at-all stereotypical "Secret Life Of Japan"
with AH-SO GRAHAM NORTON (10.30pm, Fri, C4), plus what's bee
billed as the 1954 "Gojira" but actually appears to be the
1956 US remake GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1.40am, Fri,
C4)... just after the maddest "mad bomber" movie ever, the
"Mousetrap"-based BLOWN AWAY (11.30pm, Fri, ITV)... filling up
4 hours of Saturday prime-time comes THE 100 GREATEST NUMBER
ONE SINGLES (8pm, Sat, C4) - some people are never satisfied:
... Michael "Heat" Mann continues his "dangerous obsession"
movies in period shoot-'em-up THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (9pm,
Sat, BBC2)... and Bridget Fonda remakes Luc Besson's "Nikita"
as THE ASSASSIN (11.10pm, Sat, ITV) - not to be confused with
the subsequent TV spin-off show and "homopervert's fantasy":
- god knows what they'd make of Jennifer Lopez battling that
giant computer-generated ANACONDA (9pm, Sun, C4)... militia
apologist Joel Schumacher shows reassuring restraint in
FALLING DOWN (10.15pm, Sun, BBC1)... the eponymous prankster
attempts to wring laughs from the Data Protection Act in THE
MARK THOMAS PRODUCT (11.10pm, Mon & Wed, C4)... self-help is
on the agenda with the BBC's mental "On The Edge" season (from
10.35pm, Tue, BBC1), coincidentally coinciding with BBC2's
assertiveness-training CONFIDENCE LAB (9.50pm, Wed), and C4's
entirely non-prurient PERFECT BREASTS (10pm, Tue)... while Thu
sees the return of Richard http://www.disinfo.com/ Metzger's
DISINFO NATION (12.45am, Thu, C4); the legally postponed
garbology nerd doc SCANDAL IN THE BINS (10pm, Thu, C4); and,
almost inevitably, HORIZON promising "new evidence" of "Life
on Mars" (9pm, Thu, BBC2)...
FILM>> it seems only Ang "Sense and Sensibility, Ride With The
Devil" Lee could achieve the near-miraculous feat of making a
kung-fu movie that chicks can enjoy as well, in the form of
extensive wirework Chinese Charlie's Angels-alike CROUCHING
TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (http://www.cndb.com/ : [Ziyi Zhang] asks
Li if it's her or the Green Destiny sword that he wants and
then pulls open her top and we briefly see her nipples through
her wet shirt)... otherwise it's the oddly untantalising
prospect of another tedious Bruce Willis/ M Night Shyamalan
ding-dong - this time something to do with superheroes - in
UNBREAKABLE (http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/unbreakable.htm :
Every day hundreds of millions of people worldwide read and
understand the visual-story medium which is known as "comics")
... Kim Basinger, Christina Ricci fritter away their hard-won
credibility in autistic second-coming CGI-fest BLESS THE CHILD
(http://www.capalert.com/capreports/blessthechild.htm : murder
by knitting needles to the eyes; mockery of the reality of
Satan using kids to attack Jesus; animal brutality; child
banging head against wall)... or Patrick "Lawnmower Man 2"
Bergin, Tia "Wayne's World" Carrere, Rik "Young Ones" Mayall -
together at last! - in time-travel tosh MERLIN: THE RETURN
( www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/12/18/merlin_the_return_2000_review.shtml :
"It's almost as if director Paul Matthews had accepted a bet
to make the worst possible film. Well, he's succeeded")...
BUMPER BONER BONANZA>> OK, so we never got round to doing an
end-of-year quiz this time, but we thought we'd make up for it
by littering our past year's output with minor (and not so
minor) technical inaccuracies that you could write in about -
to win nothing but the approval of your peers and, of course,
NTK's everlasting gratitude... when we described the movie
"Aces High" as a "WW2-er" [NTK 2000-11-17], DISCO DAVE hit
back with "Strange old bi-planes they had in WW2, eh?"... when
we hypothesised that Dudley Moore's last ever TV appearance
[NTK 2000-12-01] might be an "unusually cruel Peter Cook
prank", MICHAEL WALSH felt duty-bound to point out that it
would be "unusually weird, too, as Peter Cook himself has been
dead for some time"... *and* we almost entirely misunderstood
the mechanics of LASTMINUTE's share dilution [NTK 2000-11-24],
the real details of which are too staggeringly dull for even
us to go into here... DAVID MADISON semi-defended The Onion's
story, which we alleged might have been "imitated" from Wired
2000-12-15], when in fact "the same thing actually happened a
few weeks before at the University of Wisconsin at Madison":
where The Onion started off in the first place... ADRIAN
MOULDER berated us severely for overlooking the "Replicant-
like plight" of limited-edition RoboNagis [NTK 2000-11-24]:
http://www.robonagi.com/Robonagi/html/collectibillity.htm , 5
of which were "scheduled to be 'retired'" by the end of last
year... and finally, DOUGLAS HOLLANDS gave the most plausible
explanation for Stephen Hawking's mysterious injuries [NTK
2000-11-17], citing http://www.mchawking.com to posit "Perhaps
his injuries were sustained at the recent Source Hip-Hop Music
Awards?" http://www.livedaily.com/news/1698.html . NTK regrets
that this correspondence is now closed...
>> 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 at the Post Office as
"mentioned in job specs"
NEED TO KNOW
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