A recent excess of Web marketing
Last May Wired wrote  about an enterprising Toronto e-mall merchant whose site, Hotflyers , incorporates images and other content from many small electronic storefronts without asking first, implying hundreds of relationships and endorsements that don't in fact exist. These were not merchants who had joined his mall, they were victims of misappropriation of intellectual property. The man behind Hotflyers, Tony Comparelli, was unapologetic:
Recently complaints have cropped up anew about this dubious technique for building online traffic and credibility. HotFlyers is still at it. A new target of complaints is the Sustainability Store , whose practices are colored a lighter shade of grey. Steve Wood <steve at woodsite dot com> complained about Sustainability on a private mailing list:
Thanks to Julianne Chatelain for putting me in touch with Wood and for the coinage "e-mall slamming." Keep it up, J, and you'll make TBTF Irregular with a Jargon Scout cluster.
Ganging up on Microsoft
See also TBTF for 1999-08-16, 07-19, 02-15, 02-01, 01-13, 01-04, 1998-12-23, 12-15, 12-07, 11-11, 10-19, more...
Much depends on Sun's ability to enforce the language's cross-platform nature
Tuesday marked the first day of three in which lawyers for the archenemies trade jabs in a complex, highly technical pre-trial session. (The trial itself is scheduled to begin next June.) Did Microsoft have the right, as it claims, to develop two versions of Java -- one to Sun's standard and another for Windows developers? The best coverage of the coverage is to be found, as it usually has been of late, in the Industry Standard's Media Grok , which leads off with Where do you want to go to court today? The coverage they like best for completeness and depth of technical background is from Dan Goodin and Ben Heskett in news.com ; I can't disagree.
Heavy-hitting academics top the lists
The complete witness lists, 12 each, are at the bottom of this link . Microsoft is calling eight of its executives -- not including Bill Gates -- plus two academics and the CEOs of two partner companies. The government roster is four academics, an economist, and seven industry executives. The unexpected entries on this list are officials from America Online and Boeing, presumably to testify about pressure to adopt Microsoft's browser and to drop Netscape's. The government's list includes grand old men of computing and economics: Dave Farber of the University of Pennsylvania and Franklin Fisher, MIT professor of economics.
Digging for dirt inside Netscape
The Wall Street Journal reports  (subscription required) that Microsoft has subpoenaed the contents of internal Netscape discussion lists. Microsoft is particularly interested in two complaint bulletin board called "Bad Attitude" and "Really Bad Attitude" founded by early Netscaper Jamie Zawinski, now a driving force in Netscape's Mozilla open-source initiative. Microsoft hopes to bolster their contention that internal bad management, not predatory competition, dragged Netscape down in the browser wars. The WSJ attributes the following quote to Zawinski, but he fingers [7a] Netscaper Sarah Clatterbuck as its source.
Using smart cards in place of pens
On his visit to Ireland last week, President Clinton and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern made technology history as the first heads of state to sign an intergovernmental document digitally (it was a communique on e-commerce). The signing took place at 4 PM GMT on 1998-09-04 at the Gateway 2000 plant in Dublin, Ireland. The smartcards and software for the event were provided by Baltimore Technologies , whose account you can read here . Thanks to Mike Hanafin <mike at baltimore dot ie> for timely word of this milestone.
Cryptography export policy
See also TBTF for 2000-02-06, 1999-10-05, 08-30, 08-23, 08-16, 07-26, 05-22, 05-08, 04-21, 03-01, 01-26, more...
A financial cryptography practitioner becomes an African-Caribe
Vince Cate gave up his US citizenship last Sunday  (registration and cookies required for this site). Cate, who lives in Anguilla, said he wants to be "free from the silly US laws on crypto." His company  develops software for financial cryptography. Cate is one of the organizers of the Financial Cryptography conferences on his Caribbean island; he's also the man who brought us the Become an international arms trafficker in one click page . Before renouncing his US citizenship Cate paid about $5,000 for Mozambiquan citizenship. The Times article quotes a lawyer who specializes in export licenses as opining that Cates's gesture was not strictly necessary, because the law has always given more latitude to cryptography used strictly for financial transactions .
Like millions of Americans, my grand parents escaped oppression in Europe (they came from Czarist Russia). This country is the great hope for the freedom for all people of the world. Those of us who come from families that experienced persecution understand this very well. Those who long to come here understand that our proud tradition of freedom and democracy is the great hope for a world long in turmoil and travail.
Perhaps the only positive outcome for Mr. Cate's permanent departure is the fact that his place will be taken by a person who appreciates the true glory of this country.
Surprised? They're not all equally effective
Shake Communications Pty Ltd. has released the results of an independent study of the top 20 virus-scanning products on the market. Here are the press release  from Shake and coverage in an Australian newspaper . The complete results appear in the September issue of the Shake Security Journal , a semi-monthly, subscription-based publication (3 issues US$25, 6 issues US$40).
The study tested each product in a "hot zone" of 16,000+ viruses -- including executables, Word and Excel macro viruses, Microsoft Access viruses, Lotus 123 viruses, Trojans, and bait files. (So they say; I don't know what "bait files" means.) Shake says that few of the programs performed consistently across all virus categories. The company cautions that a product's ranking on this list is only one of a number of factors to consider when choosing a scanner. Here is a capsule of the survey's results, in terms of the percentage of viruses detected. Thanks to Simon Johnson <simon.johnson at shake dot net> for forwarding this table, not available in the cited public sources.
1 Anywhere Anti-Virus 99% 2 F-Secure 94% 3 Norton Anti-Virus 93% 4 Find Virus (Dr Solomon's) 93% 5 Inoculan AntiVirus 93% 6 Avast 93% 7 McAfee VirusScan 91% 8 Thunderbyte 91% 9 LANDesk Virus Protect 90% 10 Sophos 88% 11 AntiViral Toolkit Pro 87% 12 House Call 86% 13 ViruSafe 79% 14 Vet 73% 15 Virus & Macro Buster 2% +- | 16 Quick Heal n/a | 16 Panda Anti-Virus n/a | 16 Guard Dog n/a | 16 Fiber n/a +-
Watching the watchers watch Transmeta
Transmeta, the Silicon Valley company that employs Linus Torvalds, isn't saying what kind of technology it's working on. (Their Web site says, succinctly if paradoxically, "This web page is not here yet.") The Red Herring tried to find out what they are up to -- or perhaps their account of the attempt, "Stalking Transmeta,"  is all in good fun. PC Magazine prints a more substantial guess :
Markoff's article is mostly about evidence of increasing strain in the "Wintel" alliance. One factor contributing to the wobble is the rapid growth of technology areas such as telephony and personal digital assistants that do not use Intel hardware or Microsoft software. Microsoft has an entrant at this end of the market -- Windows CE -- but Intel is seen as concentrating increasingly on the shrinking top end. (Its purchase of Digital's StrongArm technology may have been reduced in value by the defection of key technical talent.)
If Transmeta, which was founded by a former Sun Sparc architect, is working on a platform for portable computing -- let's call it a "media chip"  -- what OS will it run? Well, with Linus on board, you would assume the answer would be "Linux, duh." Some flavor of Java would certainly be a contender. But Markoff says the word is that Transmeta may run Microsoft software. A hardware designer is quoted thus:
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