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TBTF for 1997-01-21: Sleeping with the fishes

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 15:28:15 -0500


As 1997 begins

In the U.S. the stock market continues to careen into ever-uncharted high ground. When will it plunge? Worldwide the Net continues to grow at rates that must be unsustainable for the long term. When will it slow? The Wall Street Journal interactive edition leads off 1997 with a survey of too many Web sites chasing too few profits. It's not available online anymore, but Yahoo News carries a bylined summary of its gloomy-doomy message [1] from Reuters; Russell Blinch manages to end on a note of optimism. A reading of the predictions of 17 Net experts [2] in Internet World's 1996 best-and-worst survey (92K) leads one to expect neither doom nor gloom in 1997; perhaps the experts are being shy. The two data points below define a line of cautions prediction: more bandwidth and more Windows.

[1] <http://www.yahoo.com/headlines/970120/tech/stories/plugged_1.html>
[2] <http://www.internetworld.com:80/1997/01/bestworst.html>

one U S West Launches DSL Service

The Baby Bell that serves the mountain states is set to become the first telephone company to launch Digital Subscriber Line service.

Note added 1997-01-22: Jim Carroll <jcarroll at jacc dot com> corrects:
Actually, no. SaskTel in canada has been doing so for some months. [See] www.sasktel.ca. They are live with ADSL... available to customers in either Regina or Saskatoon.

These ZDnet news stories [3], [4] don't give details of pricing. Speculation is that the new "!nterprise" service will use HDSL technology from PairGain Technologies Inc. at 1.5 MBits per second, both upstream and downstream. Coverage is planned initially for:

      Boise           Minneapolis     Rochester (MN)
      Boulder         Omaha           Salt Lake City
      Cedar Rapids    Phoenix         Seattle
      Denver          Portland
with the rest of the region to be served by the end of 1997.

[3] <http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/970117a.html>
[4] <http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/970117f.html>

Note added 1997-02-14: Myke Smith <smith3 at apple dot com> adds news of a Pacific Bell test in the Santa Clara Valley, noting that in the Bay Area 43% of residents do at least some work at home. From the San Jose Mercury News for 1997-02-14:
"By the end of March, testing of the service -- which handles voice and data simultaneously, with data speeds up to 50 times faster than today's 33.8 modems -- will expand from a mere dozen lines in San Ramon to about 100 lines in the San Ramon and Palo Alto areas... Pac Bell plans to start rolling out ADSL connections by fall, with ... a base rate [of] $75 and $125 per month, with the possibility of usage charges."

two Windows NT outsells Unix in 1996

IDC Research released a report stating that high-end, Pentium-powered "workstations" running Windows NT outsold Unix workstations for the first time in 1996: 831,000 units to 712,000. [5]

Note added 1996-01-22:John Robert LoVerso <loverso at osf dot org> points out that these figures entirely miss the Linux/BSD/free Unix segment (for which I don't have good numbers). He writes:
Beware of how they collect their numbers. In 1996, I personally took delivery of five Pentium machines. Four came with Windows NT and one with Windows 95. They might chalk these up as 4 more NT systems, but that isn't what they were running after they'd been in my care for a day (all now run FreeBSD).

[5] <http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,7116,4000.html?dtn.head>


FBI moderates its communications surveillance request

TBTF for 1995-05-04 [6]

In 1995 the FBI asked for and was granted $500 million to augment the government's ability to tap communications (of this total $100M has been released to the FBI so far). Privacy advocates expressed outrage at the FBI's stated capacity goal: to be able to listen in on 1% of installed telephone lines at any time. This translates to about 1.6 million simultaneous taps of all kinds: pen registers, trap-and-trace, and wiretaps. The FBI withdrew its initial proposal under fire and on 1/14 submitted a revised proposal -- press release at [7], analysis at [8]. Unlike the earlier draft, this essay lays out its assumptions and straightforwardly projects needed capacity growth. The result is a capacity figure of fewer than 60,000 intercepts, less that 4% of the original request. This level of capability would allow the FBI simultaneously to monitor more than 500 phone lines in an area with the population of Manhattan -- still an enormous increase on historical numbers of intercepts.

[6] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1995-05-04.html>
[7] <http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/tele/telephon.htm>
[8] <http://www.cdt.org/publications/pp_3.01.html>


Bill filed to require ISP privacy

U.S. Rep. Bruce Vento (D-MN) has introduced a bill to prevent online and Internet service providers from selling information about their customers without prior permission. (See [9] for the text of the bill and [10] for ZDnet reportage.) The bill does not cover content providers or Web-site operators who gather information -- it is with these parties that most of the concern lies, and I am unaware of any complaints of privacy abuses by the ISP community. The bill has no cosponsors and is given little chance of passage in its current form largely because House rules will assign it to the Commerce Committee for consideration and not to Vento's Banking Committee. The Congressman is philosophical, saying that his bill represents the first step on a road the Congress must travel.

[9] <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c105:H.R.98:>
[10] <http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/970114a.html>


HTML 3.2 standardized

The World-Wide Web Consortium has endorsed the HTML 3.2 spec [11] as a W3C Recommendation. This status indicates that the spec is stable and has been reviewed by all W3C members, who favor its adoption by industry. The 3.2 spec defines such features as tables, applets, text flow around images, and superscripts / subscripts -- features already incorporated in current-generation browsers.

[11] <http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/TR/REC-html32.html>


Network Solutions, Inc. (InterNIC) news

one Prepared to pay for your IP address?

NSI has floated a proposal [12] for a new organization to control the granting of IP addresses, a task which NSI now does for free. The proposal calls for the creation of an American Registry for Internet Numbers as a non-profit organization that would charge ISPs a fee for IP addresses. Proposed fees, ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 per year, are in line with the fees already charged by the Asia/Pacific and European registries. (Because of U.S. government subsidy, ISPs in this country have been getting their IP numbers for free.) Under the proposal ISPs could join ARIN to affect policy for a further $1,000 per year.

The proposal shouldn't have much if any impact on individual Web-site users. Some accounts, such as this one at TechWeb [13], indicate that a one-time fee of $2,500 to $10,000 might be charged directly to individuals. I don't read it that way, and I polled three ISPs for their interpretations. They were unanimous that ARIN is addressed at ISPs and not at end users. If you pay an ISP for a virtually addressed Web site you are already, in essence, paying rent for the IP number associated with your site.

The ISP community is not unanimous on the proposal. Agreement seems to be forming [13] that it would hit small ISPs hard and would have little impact on large ones. (Four days previously TechWeb said they saw "little outcry" from ISPs [14].)

[12] <http://www.arin.net/>
[13] <>
[14] <>

two Now it's enhancements you want?

One can only hope that, if ARIN becomes a reality, its management of IP address space will be more efficient than InterNIC's administration of domain names. NSI appears to have a major accounts-receivable problem: fewer than one-half of the owners of domain names have paid their fees [15]. And of the fees collected, no money has been spent for the "preservation and enhancement" of the Internet, as stipulated in the agreement NSI signed with the federal government.

Note added 1996-01-22:Marcia Blake <mblake at optocomm dot com> wrote with perspective on NIS's accounts-receivable problem; her note [15a] is posted on the TBTF Archive by permission.

[15] <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1997-01/11/142L-011197-idx.html>
[15a] <http://www.tbtf.com/resource/mblake.txt>


News personalizers

Gert Braakman <nature at worldaccess dot nl> compiled a list of personalized news services; last month he posted the compendium [16] to the dreamwave list. It lives on the Web courtesy of the UMBC AgentNews webletter [17] (see Sources). Braakman's notes break down the territory this way:

[16] <http://www.cs.umbc.edu/agents/related/ir/pns.shtml>
[17] <http://www.cs.umbc.edu/agents/agentnews/2/01/>



one FutureWave acquired by Macromedia

TBTF for 1996-12-24 [18]

>>From TidBITS (1997-01-14):

> Last week, Macromedia made a play for dominating the online multi-
> media market by announcing it had acquired FutureWave Software,
> makers of the FutureSplash software family which (among other
> things) creates compact vector-based animations that are viewable
> through Web browser plug-ins. Macromedia is re-christening Future-
> Splash products as Macromedia Flash [19] and plans to integrate
> them into the Shockwave lineup. FutureSplash is currently being
> used by a number of high-end Web sites (like Microsoft's "new"
> MSN) because it's small and fast compared to other Web animation
> technologies, including Macromedia's own Director. One can only
> hope Macromedia Flash doesn't acquire Director's less-attractive
> features, including stratospheric pricing.

[18] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-12-24.html>
[19] <http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/>

two Another way to get inside a Web picture

TBTF for 1996-08-08 [20]

Omniview's PhotoBubbles [21] aren't the only way on the Web to look around a photograph from the inside. At MacWorld Expo a company called Be Here [22] made its debut. Using a special camera [23], Be Here technology turns a single photograph into a cylindrical 360-degree image. The image is VR-animated in a Web page by either QuickTime VR (Mac) or RealVR Traveller (NT/95) -- either one running as a plug-in or standalone. For some good example panoramas in and around San Francisco see [24]. Be Here animations weigh in at about 350K, more than 50% larger than PhotoBubbles. PhotoBubbles provide a true spherical view, whereas Be Here images are more like tall cylinders -- 360 degrees around with some coverage above and below the horizon plane.

[20] <http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1996-08-08.html>
[21] <http://www.nytimes.com/specials/gallery/index.html>
[22] <http://www.behere.com>
[23] <>
[24] <http://www.citytraveler.com/360img/>


Sleeping with the fishes [25]

Those of you who are offended by bad taste in advertising or by reports of organized crime exploits should perhaps skip the final item today. It was written by Allan P. Hurst <allanh at supportnet dot com> with the title Microsoft Knows Hoffa. (Hurst,a brave man, is the owner of a network VAR that is both a Microsoft Solution Provider and a Novell Gold Partner: so it seems he sleeps with both the fishes and the sharks.) The piece was forwarded my way by Keith Bostic <bostic at bsdi dot com>.

> After viewing the recent Microsoft Network television ad several
> times, I finally confirmed the visual sequence that I couldn't
> believe I originally saw. There's a series of very quick screen
> shots, cutting back and forth as follows:
>   Shot #1: Cursor clicks on "Search" icon
>   Shot #2: User types in "Jimmy Hoffa"
>   Shot #3: Screen brings up a picture of a football field goalpost
> (For those unclear on the concept: Several years ago, a self-titled
> "Mob informant" claimed that Jimmy Hoffa's body was disposed of by
> being ground up, mixed into cement, and poured into the concrete
> goalpost foundation of a football field in New Jersey.)

[25] <http://www.jgeoff.com/godfather/truespeech/ts_fishes.wav>


Today's TBTF title alludes to a line from the 1972 film The Godfather, first of the trilogy by Francis Ford Coppela. Tune your audio player to [25].


For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see <http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html>.

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Keith Dawson    dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.