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TBTF for 1998-11-03: Smash race

Keith Dawson ( dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com )
Tue, 3 Nov 15:31:41 -0400


Contents


German Internet users stage a strike

"A company cannot survive economically if it places itself against the customers"

Thousands of Internet users in Germany supported a strike on Sunday 1 November against the high rates charged by Deutsche Telekom for local phone calls [1]. German Net users pay phone bills as high as $100 - $200 per month -- that's on top of ISP charges. Hendrik Levsen <hendrik at levsen dot org>, who sent me a note about the strike, says

Deutsche Telekom, which has a de-facto monopoly in the local loop, charges $3.50 an hour by daytime, $2 in the evening, and still a whopping $1.50 at night time... checking your email (takes 5 seconds) costs 7 cents every time. Serious Internet users... get wet eyes here when we are looking towards the US.
The action was proposed by Thomas von Triechel, a college student, and was modelled on a similar strike last September in Spain. Net users there convinced telephone provider Telefonica to offer a 60% discount for the Net. The German strike was supported by some ISPs and the publisher Heintz Heise [2] (English-speaking readers, feed this URL to the Babelfish [3]). By one report, German Net traffic was 25% lower on 1 November than on a typical Sunday [4]. Later reports [5] had supporters claiming a 70% dip and Deutsche Telekom saying the day was absolutely normal. The organizers have called for continuing strikes each Sunday until Deutsche Telekom offers what they consider fair rates -- local calls for Internet access at a maximum of DM 1.0 (about 61 cents) per hour with a cap of DM 100 per month.

[1] http://www.gamespy.de/internetstreik/index.html
[2] http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/jo-30.10.98-000/
[3] http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/translate?
[4] http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/jo-02.11.98-000/
[5] http://www.thestandard.net/articles/article_print/0,1454,2290,00.html?home.tf

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Threads Open source software and the Linux OS
See also TBTF for
1999-08-16, 05-22, 03-26, 02-15, 02-01, 1998-11-17, 11-11, 11-03, 10-27, 10-12, 08-31, more...

The Halloween Document

Whose trick, whose treat?

Someone anonymously sent to Eric Raymond an internal Microsoft memo purporting to detail the company's view of Linux and the Open Source movement. Raymond, a grand old man in the world of Open Source since his article The Cathedral and the Bazaar [6] influenced Netscape's decision to open up the source code for Communicator, spent the Halloween weekend annotating the memo and has posted it on the Web [7]. Raymond says:

It is in recognition of the date, and my fond hope that publishing it will help realize Microsoft's worst nightmares, that I named it the "Halloween Document."
Microsoft has confirmed that the document, titled Open Source Software: A (New?) Development Methodology, is authentic. It was authored by an engineer, Vinod Valloppillil -- referred to in the memo as VinodV, in the Microsoft style. It reads as if intended for the eyes of Bill Gates. At the end are the names of 20 Microsofties who contributed to or reviewed drafts of the document, including executives as high up as James Allchin. A Microsoft spokesman said the document had circulated widely within the company since August.

Eric Raymond evidently believes the Halloween Document was sent to him by an Open Source sympathizer inside Microsoft. Another interpretation is possible. The NY Times's coverage [8] (free registration and cookies required) suggests that the memo could have been leaked as part of Microsoft's trial strategy. It surely bolsters the company's contention that it faces serious threats to its market dominance. Dan Gillmor's analysis [9] makes the same point more strongly.

Some memorable quotes picked out by Raymond:

[6] http://www.ccil.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-paper.html
[7] http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/halloween.html
[8] http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/11/biztech/articles/03memo.html
[9] http://www.mercurycenter.com/columnists/gillmor/docs/dg110398.htm

space ______

Threads Domain name policy
See also TBTF for
2000-04-19, 03-31, 1999-12-16, 10-05, 08-30, 08-16, 07-26, 07-19, 07-08, 06-14, 05-22, more...

ICANN moves forward

Names interim board, schedules public meeting

The organization that is in line to inherit oversight of Internet naming and numbering [10] on 26 October named an interim CEO and board of directors [11]. Some have criticized the move as inappropriate before the Department of Commerce's criticisms of ICANN are addressed; but the interim chairman, Esther Dyson, argues that a board was necessary to give the organization a concrete face, and the government someone with whom to negotiate. The interim officials are:

  CEO:
    Michael M. Roberts (US)

  Board:
    Esther Dyson (US), Chairman
    Geraldine Capdeboscq (France)
    George H. Conrades (US)
    Gregory L. Crew (Australia)
    Frank Fitzsimmons (US)
    Hans Kraaijenbrink (The Netherlands)
    Jun Murai (Japan)
    Eugenio Triana (Spain)
    Linda S. Wilson (US)
  
  Executive Committee:
    Esther Dyson
    Gregory L. Crew
    Hans Kraaijenbrink
    Michael M. Roberts
See the bottom of [11] for capsule biographies.

ICANN has announced an open, public meeting to be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on Saturday 14 November. Details are at [12], registration and comment form at [13]. ICANN plans similar meetings in various locations around the world over the coming year.

[10] http://tbtf.com/archive/1998-10-19.html#s01
[11] http://www.thestandard.net/articles/article_print/0,1454,2251,00.html
[12] http://www.iana.org/icann-pr02nov98.html
[13] http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/icann/sign-up.html

space ______

Massive Mexican schools project chooses Linux

Are heads rolling in the aisles at Redmond?

Mexico's entire school system has decided to go with Linux [14]. The Scholar Net project will eventually wire 140,000 school labs with Linux systems. The real impact will be felt once the pipeline fills and Mexican schools begin churning out 1 or 2 million Linux experts per year. Thanks to Eric Scheid for the heads-up and to Greg Roelofs for the BOTEC.

[14] http://www.gnome.org/mailing-lists/archives/gnome-list/1998-October/1298.html

space ______

Windows 2000 name snafu

Heads should definitely be rolling in the aisles at Redmond

What was your first reaction when you heard that Microsoft had renamed Windows NT 5.0 to "Windows 2000?" Mine, too. It has been surmised [15] that the entire Windows 2000 push is a hurry-up marketing reaction to Sun's announcement that its 64-bit Solaris operating system will be available a year before the next rev of NT. Lending credence to this theory, it develops that one Robert Kerstein has owned the trademark on the name Windows 2000 for the last 30 months [16]. There's a Web site too [17], offering "live cam views from around the world." Microsoft apparently didn't even check. Thanks to Jon Callas <jon at callas dot org> for the forward.

[15] http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/stories/columns/0,4351,368773,00.html
[16] http://www.g2news.com/index.html
[17] http://www.windows2000.com/

space ______

Hacker site compromised

The defacing of Rootshell.com leads to a food fight

On 29 October crackers broke into the Rootshell site [18] and replaced its top page with this one [19]. Rootshell is a source for hackers' tools and exploits, as well as security information and tools. Rumors circulated (and were debated and denied in the absense of any real knowledge) that the crack had been accomplished via a buffer overflow in Secure Shell (ssh) version 1.2.26. The developers of ssh have denied that any such was possible [20], but said their analysis had turned up a possible problem in either the Linux operating system or the GCC compiler that might be exploitable through sshd. Meanwhile Rootshell's Kit Knox posted a security bulletin [21] calling into question the Finnish protestations, and quoting in full an unpublished advisory being developed at the IBM Emergency Response Service, who are working with the ssh developers. IBM-ERS protested mightily [22].

[18] http://www.rootshell.com/
[19] http://www.ishiboo.com/~cjp/rootshell/index.html
[20] http://www.ssh.fi/sshprotocols2/rootshell.html
[21] http://www.rootshell.com/mailinglist-archive/rs-25
[22] http://www.rootshell.com/beta/news.html

space ______

Quick bits

bul Standard agreed for 1.5 Mbps modems

The ITU in record time has agreed to a new proposed standard called G.Lite [23]. The standard may offer ADSL-like speeds, up to 1.5 MBps, by next year over existing copper phone lines. G.Lite is the product of a wide-ranging coalition of technology companies who want to see ADSL succeed (and some who hope to slow the adoption of cable modems). G.Lite devices should be more nearly plug-and-play than current ADSL offerings, which usually require the local phone company to "roll a truck" for installation.

TBTF first fingered ADSL for a significant player in the spread of cheap bandwidth in July 1995 [24].

[23] http://www.pcworld.com/pcwtoday/article/0,1510,8546,00.html
[24] http://tbtf.com/archive/1995-07-30.html
Threads Quantum computers and quantum physics
See also TBTF for
1999-10-05, 01-04, 1998-11-03, 10-27, 09-14, 03-09, 03-02, 02-23, 1997-11-24, 09-15, 05-22, more...

bul A patent for quantum computer technology

Greg Aharonian's Internet Patent News Service carried word that IBM has recently been granted patent number 5,793,091 [25], "Parallel architecture for quantum computers using ion trap arrays." It references two prior US patents for technology that could underlie the construction of a practical quantum computer.

[25] http://www.patents.ibm.com/patlist?icnt=US&patent_number=5793091&x=30&y=11

space ______

Smash race

2,500 pigeons went missing in two separate races

On 5 October, 90% of the birds in two East Coast pigeon races failed to return to their lofts. 1800 pigeons vanished out of 2000 in a race from Virginia to Allentown, PA; 700 of 900 were lost in a separate race from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. No one knows why. Pigeon racers call such an occurrence a "smash race." It is rare. Anecdotal evidence suggests that smash races sometimes precede large earthquakes, not necessarily in the locale where the birds went missing. The largest smash race in Bay Area history occurred 3 days before a massive earthquake in Alaska, in March 1964. Perhaps a building earthquake perturbs the earth's magnetic field (though it is not known for certain that homing pigeons depend on the magnetic field). Jim Berkland is a geologist with a specialty in earthquake prediction. I do not know in what esteem his views are held among his peers, but a fair guess would be "faint." Berkland is featured in the recent book California Fault: Searching for the Spirit of a State Along the San Andreas [26], which seems to be as much about eccentrics as it is about earthquakes. Berkland supposedly posted a quake prediction based on the October smash races. I was unable to find it in the less than pellucid organization of his site [27], but here is a note from him and an AP wire story [28] on the subject. They're hosted on the site of a UFO investigator who has a radio program, for what that's worth. Thanks to Keith Bostic for word on this still unsolved mystery.

Postscript -- the executive director of the American Racing Pigeon Union told me that some 40% of the birds straggled home over the 10 days following the October smash races.

[26] http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/partner?partner_id=23196&cgi=search/search&searchtype=isbn&searchfor=0345409086
[27] http://www.syzygyjob.com/
[28] http://www.sightings.com/earthchanges/pigeons.htm


Vaio 505 GX

Notes

bul I've just bought my first Wintel machine for personal use. It's a Sony Vaio 505 GX subnotebook with Windows 98 preinstalled. (That will change quick.) 64 MB, 4.3 GB, an inch thick, 3 pounds, active-matrix screen, and 5-1/2 hours of battery life. How cute is it? To die for probably understates it. To traverse the Karmic cycle for maybe comes close.

Sources

bul For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see http://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.

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