_ _ _____ _ __ <*the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the UK>
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have to decide, do I spank them or give them some candy?"
- Sun's JOHN CAGE on Microsoft
or ask the government to spank the candy out of them
>> HARD NEWS <<
Since the Net is supposed to be populated exclusively by
peeping toms, evil hackers and sociopathic stalkers, it's
surprising how few commercial Net sites there are for this
burgeoning demographic. Well, fret no more. This week,
CAMEO opened for business - a fully searchable online
database of the entire UK Electoral Register. Find long
lost friends - or the location of familiar enemies! Uncover
names and addresses for future false identities! Bulk
download the details of whole towns for real-world spam!
The site also generously offers a free trial period, so you
can browse for free, and you can register as often as you
like - ironically, in relative anonymity. Our own research
into the NTK readership reveals that you're all poll tax
dodgers, so no hits there, but we're surprised none of the
Proper Media have picked up on the self-evident potential
for abuse. Except, of course, that the Proper Media's
marketing people have had access to this info in convenient
CD-ROM form since 1995. And we trusted *them*, didn't we?
- only an appallingly clunky NT server can save us now!
- there was a time when people gave a damn
We all know how hard domain registration companies work.
You've got to check the DNS server doesn't come unplugged:
you've got to make sure the Webserver is still cashing
credit card orders (securely, mind!) And there's always one
more scary letter to write, informing companies that their
"mrs-miggins-pies" trademark is dangerously unregistered in
the Christmas Islands domain. Up until now, NOMINET (the
organisation that - quite literally - "nominally" oversees
the .uk domain) has been a loose confederation of these
domain naming registries, all working characteristically
selflessly to ensure that everyone has the chance to buy a
domain off their members. Now, though, it's time to get
organised. Last week, Nominet's Council of Management sent
around proposals for a new voting system. Curiously, for
such a charitable group, the proposals weren't a variant of
"one domain, one vote". They weren't even "one registry,
one vote". No - to preserve *absolute* fairness for all,
the ballot was carefully biased to give the top 5% of
registries a majority. That, says the current Council,
makes it proportionate to the "relative commercial
involvement in the UK Domain Name service". So, who gets
how many votes? That's "commercially sensitive
information", say the Council. And how do you state an
interest in the .uk domain? Well, unless you're a domain
salesman, you haven't got one. Better get sending out the
- oops! too late!
- Largest name registry (prop. Ivan Pope, Nominet Councillor)
There's bugs, there are features - and then there are the
real showstoppers. SECRET WRITER'S SOCIETY is a educational
game for seven to nine year olds. In the words of its
publishers, Panasonic Interactive Media, it "puts the 'fun'
into learning about writing fundamentals". Just how much
fun that can be became apparent when the SuperKids Website
decided gave it to a panel of kid reviewers. What those
children learnt that day changed their lives forever. Now,
- why beta-testing is important
- Panasonic learn a few lessons themselves!
>> ANTI-NEWS <<
berating the obvious
DISNEY buy INFOSEEK, fittingly the Mickey Mouse search
engine... "Homeless man has Web page business", reports
NANDO... SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK to reform - on Net... MARIMBA
to disappear from Navigator: Kim Polese to be airbrushed
from FAST COMPANY back issues... LOUIS ROSSETTO wins
"Ditherati Quote of the Year"... PERSIL TABLETS in legal
battle with AERIAL DISCS... PAT ROBERTSON suggests "Gay
Days" at Disneyland may bring Florida "earthquakes...
possibly a meteor" - Infoseek deal seen as portent...
FUTUREVISION "demo" turns out to be bunch of men dressed in
balaclavas... bad karma at FREE TIBET gig in US: punters
struck by lightning... audio CDs can be "copied onto
ordinary CD-ROM disks", uncovers RICHARD BARRY...
>> EVENT QUEUE <<
goto's considered non-harmful
Is it just us, or is there actually *less* fuss about the
World Cup this time? Or is it now so ubiquitous that it's
bizarrely easier to ignore? Anyway, here's a tip if you're
desperate to avoid football/tennis/"Glasto"/whatever: just
*do whatever you would do normally* - which in our case
would mean: alcopop ad star JULIAN BARRATT continues
"monkeying around with your insides" in his Edinburgh
tryout show on Mon 22/06 at the Hen And Chickens theatre
bar, London N1, UKP4, followed by similarly booze-themed
"pub landlord" AL MURRAY, and (perhaps later this week) NTK
stand-up fave STEWART LEE... when we checked this morning,
there were still tickets left for departed sitcom god JERRY
SEINFELD at the London Palladium on 12/07, maybe 'cos
they're priced UKP30-45... the Real Audio at last seems to
be working for non-stop temporary-license limited-range
"radio art event" RESONANCE 107.3 FM (until 05/07), somehow
linked with John Peel's Meltdown Festival. And it's not
just meaningful bursts of static alternating with Tuvan
throat-singing: this week has the Association of Autonomous
Astronauts (10pm, Sat), "new music enthusiast" Stew Lee
(4pm, Sun), the KLF (7.30pm, Sun), that Scanner bloke, and
a breakfast show hosted by samplin' pranksters Negativland
(8am, Fri)... something of a London bias so far, which we
heartily correct with the unashamedly mainstream outdoor
picnic concert tour A SYMPHONY UNDER THE STARS: 27/06 High
Wycombe, 04/07 Hitchin, 11/07 Elstree, 18/07 Wokingham,
25/07 Alcester, 01/08 Peterborough, UKP16, booking on 0500
66 1812. The leaflet looks a bit like that Trek convention
that went bust, but the live orchestra/ fireworks present
all the outer-space classical greats, including Holst's The
Planets, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Moonlight Sonata, and - of
course - Star Wars. Incredibly, it's hosted by Patrick
Moore, who promises both "star gazing" and his "own
composition on xylophone".
- an "action packed woodland bonanza"
- Seinfeld "popular event"; won't let you book it online
- like Radio 3, but with a show called "Shit Happens"
If you've popped along to our NTK live events and you're
gay or something, you'll sure to have fallen in love with
our Viewdata-obsessed Internet Weatherman, JAMES COATES.
He's not just a pretty face, however: next Friday 26/06/98,
he's hosting his own club night at Smithy's, Leeke Street
WC1X (bloody London again). And the spurious Net connection
is...? Well, the tickets are available from Webshack... and
we're sure it'll be filled with the beautiful people of the
British online community. Such as they are.
- anything else we can do for you James?
And if *that* wasn't enough for you, Phil Agre's excellent
Red Rock Eater mailing list points out the following
exhibitions, *all* happening on 23/06/98 - 25/06/98:
Bournemouth, England sees the DERA -organized
"International Chemical Warfare Demilitarization Conference
(CWD98)", Shrivenham stakes out the Royal Military College
of Science (RMCS)'s "European Guns, Mortars and Ammunition
Symposium", while in London, Nexus Information Technology
is organizing the "Undersea Defence Technology Europe"
conference. We have no idea what any of these shows will be
like. We just like imagining what would happen if they took
a dislike to one another.
- Shrivenham to go on to the quarter-finals
>> TRACKING <<
net tucker man
We had planned to weigh you down with a couple of
*fascinating* new Net standards, courtesy of the W3C -
SMIL, which is worth a flick through if you're into
synchronised multimedia extravaganzas, and the WEB
ACCESSIBILITY INITIATIVE, so you don't screw the people for
whom multimedia is a tad less multi. But at the last moment
we were drawn away by THE WORLD'S FIRST QUAKE POETRY
COMPETITION. The prize, offered by Loki's Minions, is a
Voodoo 1 card, but that's not the point. The true reward is
seeing your work appreciated by the toughest literary
critics of all - the Clans of Planet Quake. Note: the poem
must incorporate two references to classical or Norse
mythology, demonstrate the "elements of love, betrayal, and
honor involved in multiplayer first-person shooters" - and
contain only words beginning with "L" and "M". What's
wrong? Not MAN enough to take the challenge?
- the new Academy
- for the new Athens
>> MEMEPOOL <<
hasta la altavista
first GATES buys Cliveden, haunt of Oswald Mosely - and
then - http://pes.eunet.cz/billy.jpg ... does WESTWOOD's
new DUNE 2000 take place 9000 years before the previous
one?... BITBOYS Oy!... HAIKU is the PalmPilot killer app...
bootleg WORLD CUP feeds... Computers as Theatre:
http://www.puppettime.com/ ... SRL at Web 98: stand well
back... BSD most reliable, Windows stingiest, MacOS most
over-rated: it's an OS WAR AGAINST CYSTIC FIBROSIS at
"sinister-smurfing"... get an adult to help you with
http://www.xeromag.com/fvtoys.html ...URBAN OUTFITTERS
(quit sniggering, US readers - they only just arrived
here)... http://www.ideosphere.com/main.html ... SONIC
BINGO... about:jwz - http://themes.org/totd/guest/ ...
better (and unclaimed) name than "portsurfer" for a hacking
zine: THE LISTENER... Duke Nukem to use UNREAL now...
>> GEEK MEDIA <<
may contain strongly-typed language
TV>> the irrepressibly excellent FRASIER (10pm, Fri, C4)
elegantly bows out of Friday nights for now, possibly
leaving a gap ready for the first series of SOUTH PARK,
currently squelching to an end on satellite (10pm, Sat;
11pm, Sun, Sky1)... 5 new drivers, 5 talking cars; so
surely TEAM KNIGHT RIDER (5.25pm, Sat, ITV) can only be 5
times worse than the original... serious-voiced Heather
Couper closes THE SCI-FI FILES (8pm, Sat, C4) with -
surprise! - a look at the future: ie clips from Things To
Come, Stepford Wives, and Blade Runner... followed by
interminable Mark E Smith drinking anecdotes in LEGENDS OF
THE FALL (9pm, Sat, C4)... invite your approaching-30 pals
round for the dull movie version of LOGAN'S RUN (8pm, Sun,
BBC2); its second showing in 10 months, by the way...
"features three-in-a-bed sex, full frontal nudity and lots
of swearing", "warns" The Radio Times about Anna Friel/
Joely Richardson cult romp THE TRIBE (10pm, Sun, BBC2)...
while "features Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Lori
Petty" should be the warning on daft Pepsi Max "thriller"
POINT BREAK (10pm, Sun, C4)... hmm, not quite *enough*
gratuitous nudity in Bo Derek's TARZAN, THE APE MAN
(11.40pm, Sun, BBC1)... and, as an ironic counterpoint to
all the Tarzan stuff on terrestrial (what's going on?),
it's Sky monkey movies week, including Wednesday's
fantastically titled, but sadly terrible, LIFE, LIBERTY AND
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ON THE PLANET OF THE APES (around
1pm, Mon-Thu, Sky Movies 1)... 3 degrees of Kevin Bacon
commence with FLATLINERS (11.15pm, Mon, most ITV), linking
to cool worm chaser TREMORS (10.45pm, Tue, BBC1), then
PYRATES (12.15am, Tue, BBC1) where the focus is on
involuntary firestarting rather than copyright violation...
"men and women biologically different", uncovers hard-
hitting pop biology in WHY MEN DON'T IRON (9pm, Tue, C4)...
gangland-style execution too good for Lynda LaPlante's new
BELLA MAFIA (8pm, Tue, C5)... tasty-gorgeous product
placement when the TELETUBBIES (10am, Thu, BBC2) enjoy
"Becky's Flake Cakes"?... and here's hoping schedules don't
overrun with the controversial "dying man" episode of THE
HUMAN BODY (10pm, Thu, BBC1) confusingly followed by
footage of a 61 year-old "base jumper" parachutist in THE
MAN WHO JUMPED TO EARTH (10.50pm, Thu, BBC1)...
MOVIES>> CITY OF ANGELS (imdb: romance / drama / angel /
swimming / death / medical / religion) is - of course - a
funnier remake of Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire, rather than
say, The Crow II: City Of Angels. And it's directed by the
bloke who made the appalling film of Casper The Friendly
Ghost. As with many Meg Ryan films, not as bad as you'd
think. But still pretty bad... otherwise a choice of two
hipster beat dudes, daddio: DREAM WITH THE FISHES (imdb:
drama / comedy / voyeur / fish / fantasy / bowling / buddy
/ suicide-attempt / euthanasia / drugs / twist-in-the-end /
black-comedy / suicide / terminal-illness / drama / drug-
trip / lottery) gets a slightly wider release (and more
laughs?) than the Keanu Reeves-featuring THE LAST TIME I
COMMITTED SUICIDE (imdb: drama / beatnik)... or take your
pick of harrowing violence with '60s Lee Marvin beat-'em-up
POINT BLANK (imdb: thriller) - nothing to do with the Namco
arcade game of the same name - or Oliver Stone-produced
former-Yugoslav war saga SAVIOR (MPAA rated: R "for strong
violence including brutal war atrocities, and for language"
- well, there's mispelling "Saviour", for a start)...
BOOKS>> A pair of writers, outwardly different but with
peculiarly similar backgrounds - it's either the plot or
the biographical blurb for Iain "M" Banks' new INVERSIONS
(hardback, UKP16.99) - good to see the requisite plot-twist
down to two words... just out in paperback, LONGITUDE
(UKP6.99) may be the dullest pop-science bestseller since
the appalling Sophie's World, reading like a naval history
textbook without any diagrams of how any of all these
interesting nav systems worked... Ellen Ullman's CLOSE TO
THE MACHINE (paperback, UKP10.99) combines cool you-are-
there coding anecdotes with - uh-oh - social
responsibility, and the best bits are all online at
... people have been recommending Katherine Dunn's GEEK
LOVE (paperback, UKP7.99, some special offers) - but
- it's about carnival geeks, not computer ones... still
not much sign of the enticingly titled VIRTUAL LOVE
(paperback, UKP5.99), from the author of TV potboiler "Real
Women". And we quote: "Virt-E-Go have developed a virtual
reality interactive sex machine that fulfils your dreams...
while the all-male management can't rise to the
challenge... step forward the secretaries... all desperate
to prove that mechanical mating can make them money, even
if it'll never beat old fashioned rumpy-pumpy"... roll on
Danielle Steel's THE KLONE AND I, that's all we can say ...
>> 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 "educational"
NEED TO KNOW
THEY STOLE OUR REVOLUTION. NOW WE'RE STEALING IT BACK.
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