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TBTF for 1996-12-24: Fasgrolia

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Tue, 24 Dec 1996 21:45:33 -0500


Judge rules ITAR unconstitutional in Bernstein case

Note added 1996-12-29: David Black <dlb at osf dot org> sent this analysis of the Patel decision. He writes, "While I'm not a lawyer I do seem to have a reasonable tolerance for / understanding of legalese." His close reading of the decision and of an earlier one in the same case throw more light on the subject.

On Monday 12/15, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel declared the ITAR unconstitutional in the closely watched Bernstein case (see TBTF for 1996-04-21 [1]). The ITAR is the set of rules, dating from the Cold War, that restrict the export of encryption from the U.S. See c|net's news coverage [2] and analysis [3]. The EFF's perspective is at [4]; the ruling itself can be found at [5] in text format. (Your browser will probably want to download this file rather than displaying it because its "Content" header doesn't declare the file type to be text/plain or text/html.)

For a number of reasons the Bernstein decision may have limited impact beyond the symbolic:

Follow this link [6] for a helpful survey of the laws restricting encryption around the world.

[1] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-04-21.html>
[2] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,6343,00.html>
[3] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,6369,00.html?nd>
[4] <http://www.eff.org/pub/EFF/Policy/Crypto/ITAR_export/Bernstein_case/bernstein_961218_pressrel.html>
[5] <http://www.eff.org/pub/Legal/Cases/Bernstein_v_DoS/Legal/961206.decision>
[6] <http://cwis.kub.nl/~frw/people/koops/lawsurvy.htm>


A new structure for top-level domain names is proposed

TBTF for 1996-11-12 [7]

The International Ad Hoc Committee has issued a draft proposal [8] for increasing the supply of, and reducing the contention for, global top-level domains [9]. The draft is open for public review and comment until January 17; the IAHC intends to issue a final document on January 31. The group recommends creating seven new global top-level domains immediately with more to follow. Details are not spelled out in the proposal [8] except to say that

> [t]hese new gTLD's will consist of letter strings of three to five
> letters each. IAHC has also decided that each gTLD should have
> general, contextual meaning, i.e. the gTLD should suggest a con-
> nection with the Internet, with business or with personal uses.

The IAHC recommends the creation of both national and international trademark-related domain-name spaces -- an example might be "...tr.us" -- to accommodate the international nature of some trademarks. It calls for an easy-to-use directory to help users find the Web addresses of particular trademark holders. And it suggests that the use of the under-utilized country domain ".us" be revived and encouraged.

[7] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-11-12.html>
[8] <http://www.iahc.org/draft-iahc-gTLDspec-00.html>
[9] <http://www.nando.net/newsroom/ntn/info/122096/info17_21931.html>


Apple acquires NeXT

Apple's strategy for revamping its operating system is coming clear. After discussions with Be, Inc., Sun Microsystems, and others, Apple has decided to purchase NeXT [10], [11], the company started by Steve Jobs following his ouster from Apple in 1985. Jobs has agreed to act as a part-time consultant to Apple, but said "My job is not savior." Apple managers admitted at a news conference last week that the first software combining Apple and NeXT technology, expected at the end of 1997, will not be compatible with existing Macintosh applications. The investment community and industry analysts reacted coolly to the news -- Apple's stock barely moved on the day of the announcement. The developer community seems also to be maintaining a wait-and-see attitude, to judge from this opinion by Dave Weiner [12]. Apple has enlisted long-time partner Metrowerks to develop tools for the new environment.

[10] <http://www.pcweek.com/news/1216/21apple2.html>
[11] <http://www.Computerworld.com/news/news_articles/961224appleroad.html>
[12] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,6441,00.html?dtn.head>


Netscape Communicator 4.0 beta ships early

Netscape fired the latest round in the browser war last weekend when it released Communicator (see TBTF for 1996-10-20 [13]) to beta [14] several days ahead of schedule (for Windows 95 and Windows NT only). The initial release is missing some key features but early downloaders can get a good idea of the simplifications in the Navigator user interface. Versions for Unix and Macintosh are promised for early in 1997. The new browser conforms closely to the proposed HTML 3.2 standard [15] -- in particular, it fixes a bug in the way versions 2.x and 3.x allowed tables to be specified, and in so doing breaks the display of tables at some sites that exploited the bug to achieve greater control over table placement.

[13] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-10-20.html>
[14] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,6421,00.html?nd>
[15] <http://www.pcweek.com/news/1223/23mcom.html>


Should felons connect?

The U.S. Department of Justice last week promulgated a ruling [16] that forbids parolled felons from accessing the Internet or online services without written consent from their parole officer. One poster to the Risks newsgroup deplored this confirmation of the opinion, apparently held in some U.S. government circles, that the only reason citizens might want to use the Internet is to further criminal enterprise.

[16] <http://www.Computerworld.com/search/AT-html/briefs/9612/961218justice.html>


AltaVista will accept advertising

Digital Equipment Corporation, which originally launched its wildly popular AltaVista Web site as a way to build brand recognition for its Alpha servers, has decided to accept advertising on the site [17], which at 24 million hits a day is one of the Web's most frequent destinations. (No advertisements are apparent as of this writing.)

[17] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,6310,00.html?nd>


An update on the GIF-LZW saga

>>From TBTF for 1996-03-03 [18]:

> In December 1994 Compuserve served notice that it intended to enforce a
> patent covering the GIF graphics format. GIF was, and is, the most wide-
> ly used compression method on the Web. Michael Console Battilana
> <mcb at cloanto dot it> wrote a history and analysis of the resulting contro-
> versy...

Now Battilana has posted release 5 of his article, "The GIF controversy: A Software Developer's Perspective." You can read it here [19].

[18] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-03-03.html>
[19] <http://www.cloanto.com/users/mcb/19950127giflzw.html>



For those who haven't seen it, FutureWave Software [20] has an economical new technique for animating pages. FutureSplash uses a compact Navigator plug-in (183K on my PowerPC) to play small, object-graphic animations in real time. No more chittering disk as Netscape continuously reloads an animated .gif (drives me crazy). Once you have the plugin installed -- with Netscape 3.0 you don't even need to quit and restart -- FutureWave's pages feature all sorts of goodies like animated buttons that change appearance as your mouse traverses them. (Didn't think I'd see that happen until HTML gets supplanted.) FutureSplash objects load the first time in streaming mode; the company claims that a typical animation, at 25 to 40K, will play in real time while loading over a 14.4 KB modem. After you've loaded the plugin, visit the home page of PGP Inc. [21]; and check out tHE sHAFT [22], a site dedicated to techniques for fast-loading pages.

[20] <http://www.futurewave.com/>
[21] <http://www.pgp.com/>
[22] <http://www.virtual-pc.com/theshaft/>


A little night physics

>>From AIP Physics Update (1996-11-20):


> On Mars an Oklahoma-sized duststorm swirls about near the northern
> pole, while at Neptune storms and a northern-hemisphere dark spot
> discovered only last year were tracked by the first movie ever made of
> the entire Neptune rotation period (Hubble Space Telescope press
> releases). Saturn's inner ring is dripping water onto the planet below
> (New Scientist, 26 October). The Galileo spacecraft has updated
> knowledge of Jupiter and its moons, a miniature solar system all by
> itself. New reports suggest that the Great Red Spot (essentially a
> 20,000-km-wide storm rotating at a speed of 110 m/sec) is probably a
> shallow structure; the volcanic moon Io may be the source of at least
> some of the interplanetary dust coming from the Jovian environment;
> many plate-shaped structures on Europa's surface may, like Arctic ice
> floes on Earth, be fractured ice riding on top of a slushy ocean; the
> ancient ridges on Ganymede appear now (with the help of Galileo's much
> better resolving power: 74 m/pixel versus Voyager's 1.1 km/pixel) to
> be flanked by many more finer ridges, implying a thinner crust and a
> hotter interior than previously thought (Science, 18 October). Further
> out yet, a new extrasolar planet has been detected near the star 16
> Cygni B; the orbit is the most eccentric of any planet yet known. It
> comes as close as 0.6 and as far as 2.8 astronomical units from the
> star (Science News, 26 October).


Jargon Scout: Fasgrolia

Carol Yutkowitz <carol at atria dot com> attended the Moft [23] developers' conference last month. She was impressed by the depth and thoroughness of the Microsoft Internet solutions but, like many an engineer who sits in a darkened room absorbing Marketecture presentations, she emerged dazed by the tangle of fasgrolia. Here is her precis of the jargon bandied about, without explanatory gloss, by the Microsoft presenters.

> PDC, HPC, Active Platform, SMP, ActiveX, HTML, Normandy, ITV, IE, IIS,
> NTW, Memphis, W&S, WDB, USB, OnNow, DirectX, HSM, SMS, SMTP, POP,
> PROFS, IRC, ISP, JIT, Authenticode, Trident, CAB, JAR, RNI, AWT, IDE,

[23] <http://www.empire.net/~psl/Fun_People/1996/1996AVG.html>


>>Fasgrolia is defined as "the fast-growing language of initialisms and acronyms" in one of my favorite reference sources, Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words (University Books, Secaucus, NJ, 1974). Mrs. Byrne is Josepha Heifetz Byrne, daughter of the renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz. My copy is autographed. You haven't played "Dictionary" until you've played it using this reference work as the authority.

>>Anyone interested in the trends in TBTF's subscriber base, Web-site visitor traffic, and international distribution, see <http://www.tbtf.com/pics/growth.gif>.

>>This issue of TBTF will be the last of 1996. Enjoy your holiday -- see you next year.


>>Finally acquiescing to numerous requests, I've collected a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources at <http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html>.

>>E.Commerce Today -- this commercial publication provided background information for some of the pieces in this issue of TBTF. For complete subscription information see <http://www.tbtf.com/resource/e.commerce-today.txt>.

>>AIP Physics Update -- mail listserv@aip.org without subject and with message "add physnews" . Searchable archive at <http://newton.ex.ac.uk/aip/>.

TBTF alerts you weekly to bellwethers in computer and communications tech-
nology, with special attention to commerce on the Internet. Published since
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Keith Dawson    dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

Most recently updated 2002-01-18