House committee rejects domestic crypto restrictions
The House Commerce Committee, by a vote of 35-16, last week rejected the much-disparaged Oxley amendment  to the crypto-friendly SAFE bill, which would have mandated building an instant backdoor into all domestic crypto products . Another amendment was substituted whose import is to reject mandated key recovery and to relax export controls, in keeping with the original spirit of SAFE, which in its original form had the sponsorship of an absolute majority of members of the House. On Tuesday the chairman of the Rules committee, which will decide which if any of the various bills called "SAFE" reaches a vote of the full House, circulated a letter saying that no bill would be allowed to reach the floor that did not include Oxley-like language. It looks unlikely in the extreme that any flavor of crypto legislation will emerge from the House in this session.
Microsoft stopped talking about OLE (object linking and embedding), the name of its original desktop object cooperation technology, early in 1996 as its Internet strategy was being clarified. OLE was out, ActiveX was in: same technology, with a few additions to hook in the world of the Net. As of last week, Redmond doesn't want you saying "ActiveX" any more; instead say "Windows DNA" (Distributed Net Applications) . It may be a coincidence that Microsoft drops "ActiveX" at the point when its critics had succeeded in linking the name inextricably with the security problems caused by the forced marriage of desktop and Net. It may be a coincidence that the new marketing name for Microsoft's object strategy is the same as the name of the building block for all known life. All mention of ActiveX was expunged from microsoft.com on 9/23 as Microsoft VP Paul Maritz introduced the nomenclature for the company's next-generation enterprise architecture  at its developers' conference in San Diego.
Windows DNA is the new marketing name for the technologies based on COM, or Component Object Model, which has underlain Microsoft's object strategy for years now, back through the reigns of ActiveX and OLE, back to the time when Microsoft and IBM were working in concert on operating systems. This new repackaging of COM (according to skeptics), or this next version of COM (according to Microsoft), has been dubbed COM+ . It will be available in early form to developers at the end of this year and finalized a year later. COM+, as exposed through Microsoft-supplied software development tools, promises to ease the developer's task by unifying and simplifying access to what had been a disparate range of services.
DNA is Microsoft's answer to CORBA (common object request broker architecture), a widely supported object interaction model developed by an open consortium of hundreds of companies since the late 80s. (Microsoft is a member of the Object Management Group, shepherd of CORBA, and has proposed COM-based technologies a number of times for consideration as standards under the CORBA umbrella. None of these overtures has succeeded.) COM+ is also part of Microsoft's answer to Java. An article in the Microsoft Systems Journal (teaser at ) claims that developers using COM+ will be able to get all of the advantages of Java (the language) along with added flexibility in Windows environments.
Last July Bill Gurley's <bgurley at abovethecrowd dot com> "Above the Crowd" feature  proposed that the real battle to watch will be that between CORBA's IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol) and what was then called DCOM, now COM+. He who controls the interface to OS and network services indeed controls the future. Gurley's article ends with speculation on the emergence of an even higher level abstraction layer, one which would be useful to companies supplying enterprise integration software -- e.g. SAP, Baan, and CA. Oddly enough, when announcing DNA Microsoft claimed support for the initiative from precicely that roster of companies .
In June Marc Andreesen predicted  that Microsoft would, in the end, capitulate to the almost-universal standards push and adopt IIOP. Oops. In August Christopher Stone  -- founder, chairman, president, and CEO of the Object Management Group -- left OMG to take up a position as senior VP at Novell .
The account  of French resistance to Microsoft's anti-Java message was overblown. At the request of a reader, the IDG international news service spoke to developers who attended the Paris conference and came away with a conclusion about the affair that we can summarize as: "A few people booed (the Sun author being one of them) and a few people left." Thanks to Mark Gibbs <mgibbs at gibbs dot com> for the correction. The IDG article is available here .
Don't take this emendation to mean that developers approve Microsoft's backing away from Java. They don't, according to a grassroots organization -- the Java Lobby  -- that has recently sprung up. Its founder, Rick Ross, speaks for 3800+ software developers who have joined in the last month when he says : "We are asking Bill Gates, as a group of developers -- a group that Microsoft has said it always will listen to -- to reaffirm [his] public commitment to support the Java core platform."
On 9/12 Microsoft was reported  to be in the process of removing all Java applets, and indeed all mention of Java, from its site. The webmaster of microsoft.com didn't completely rule out the possibility that Java might one day appear on his site, but said it would be considered on a "case-by-case basis where it makes good business sense."
I continue to be astonished at the popularity of the Allez Java fable. By the time I had posted an emendation , in the afternoon of the day of publication, the Paris account had already broken the TBTF one-day record for visitors. The page is the most popular I've ever put up on TBTF. It has been linked from several high-profile Java sites and from numerous individual pages and newsgroups around the world; it is on track to appear in a major print publication (stay tuned). What conclusions can be drawn from the fable's popularity? It may be acting as a lightning rod for a growing, diffuse anti-Microsoft sentiment. With more confidence I assert that Allez Java appeals to a vast constituency that wishes Java to succeed and does not in the least appreciate Microsoft's efforts to belittle and contain it.
The proprietors of an apparently reputable small Ohio ISP, Marketing Power Network , have gotten caught in the proliferation of unverified lists of spammers. TBTF is among the guilty in this affair. While I don't run an ongoing service that purports to list known spammers, I have run stories on the subject (e.g, ); such a list  persists on the TBTF site and is accessed, on average, roughly a dozen times per week.
The Mpowernet owners sent mail explaining this situation to the Postmaster addresses at a large number of sites, of which TBTF was one. They had to go to some lengths to get the mail through as a number of systems have been configured to refuse all mail from Mpowernet.com (it's on the list of known spammers, remember).
Tech Web carries an "unnamed source" story  claiming that a new organization now forming will offer an alternative to the iPOC/IAHC plan. The unnamed organization is said to plan a public unveiling within three weeks. I've requested comment on this rumored organization from an iPOC/IAHC insider, but at press time do not have a reply.
Wendy Grossman writes for Scientific American's Cyber View on domain naming , concluding that more research is needed to come up with the best way forward. The National Science Foundation, whose exclusive contract with NSI is set to expire in March 1998, is likely to extend that contract for six more months , a Commerce Department spokesman said last week.
Network Solutions Inc. is now NSOL  -- the company went public last week ,  despite the blot on its escutcheon of an ongoing Justice Department inquiry . The IPO was lively. The stock, which was offered at $18, opened at $25 and closed its first day at $23.
In the desert north of Reno, Nevada, British fighter pilot Andy Green claimed a new world land speed record . His run bested by 74 mph the record set 14 years ago by his boss, Richard Noble. Green pushed Noble's jet car "Thrust SSC"  to 700.661 mph on the first of two timed runs down a 13-mile course, then dashed the other way at 728.008 mph. Here's a 2-minute streaming video  of the event; it requires the VXtreme plug-in . Visit Noble's official Thrust SSC site here .
Noble's team beat out their only close conpetitor, Craig Breedlove, who dropped out of the running today when his car, the Spirit of America, tipped over  during a speed run. Breedlove was not injured and managed to bring the Spirit of America to a safe stop, but the car sustained damage. Breedlove had held the land speed record 5 times between 1963 and 1965; he was the first man to achieve 400, then 500, then 600 mph on land. Breedlove's setback leaves Noble in line to surpass his own record, possibly next month, in the desert south of Amman, Jordan (the car arrived in Jordan on 9/27).
As its name implies, the Thrust SSC was conceived with the intention of breaking the sound barrier on the ground. Thrust SSC is 52 feet long, weighs 10 tons, and delivers 110,000 horsepower from twin Rolls Royce jet engines. This month's Scientific American features a fine background piece on the competing vehicles, unfortunately not available on the magazine's Web site.
We'll finish with two from Glenn Fleishman <glenn at popco dot com>. First, pay a visit to Fleishman's new email/Web newsletter NetBITS , which is published by Adam Engst of TidBITS reknown. NetBITS aims to provide practical Internet information to people who spend a lot of time online. Judging by the first issue  NetBITS is right on track.
Second, savor Fleishman's contribution to Jargon Scout  -- an irregular TBTF feature that aims to give you advance warning of jargon that is just about ready to hatch into the Net's language. Fleishman suggests referring to an SMTP host pressed into service unawares to relay commercial spam as an innocent by-sender.
NetBITS-- mail mail email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with no subject and no message. Web home at http://www.netbits.net/ .
TBTF home and archive at http://www.tbtf.com/ . To subscribe send the message "subscribe" to email@example.com. TBTF is Copyright 1994-1997 by Keith Dawson, <dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com>. Com- mercial use prohibited. For non-commercial purposes please forward, post, and link as you see fit. _______________________________________________ Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.