Friday, March 24, 2000
3/24/00 5:41:03 PM
Jargon Scout: spampoena.
A spampoena is an overbroad subpoena of dubious
validity "served" by email to unnamed recipients throughout
cyberspace. The first spampoena was deployed last
January in the DeCSS
/ MPAA case; the second was just sent out in the matter of
CPhack / Cyber Patrol. We may dearly desire that, quashed
forthrightly, it will be the last ever served. A judge in Boston
-- in a hearing at which no defense attorney was present --
granted a subpoena requiring that a Canadian and a Swede remove
certain content from their Web sites. The lawyer for Cyber
Patrol's parent company requested and
received permission to "serve" copies of the subpoena by email to
hundreds of unknown others in all parts of the world. Several hundred
of the spampoenas have been mailed (and fewer received).
Here is an
The ACLU's motion
to quash the subpoena concludes:
The subpoenas must be quashed because they were not properly served,
because they violate the geographic limitations of Rule 45, and
because they impose an undue burden... that raises significant
constitutional questions. More fundamentally, they must be dismissed
because they are in aid of an underlying case that itself must be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal
jurisdiction, and mootness. It is improper to impose on a third party
the burden of any subpoena -- particularly one that raises a host of
thorny privacy issues -- in aid of a case that does not belong in this
Court in the first place.
3/24/00 10:41:06 AM
NSA holds patent on
holographic storage device.
On Feb. 15 the NSA was awarded
patent no. 6,026,053
for a photorefractive read-only optical memory apparatus using
phase, frequency, and angular modulation -- in other words, a
holographic computer storage device.
in a Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, while a little over-the-top,
describes some of the uses to which such a device could be put. For
example, Shamir's hypothetical TWINKLE
device requires a massive amount of working memory in certain stages
of the process of breaking cryptographic codes.
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Justin Mason, who says, removing his pipe
thoughtfully from his mouth and with a TWINKLE in his eye, "I'm no laser physicist, but this looks like the
plans for some kind of massive storage device." Ayuh.
Thursday, March 23, 2000
3/23/00 4:37:38 PM
Free domain names, sometimes with a catch.
The cost of registering domain names is falling, as expected under vigorous
OpenSRS is fully operational --
perhaps beginning next Monday -- the cost should rapidly drop towards the
$6 that Network Solutions charges all registrars to register a name.
The natural price for this service, of course, is zero. Six dollars
for a potentially lifelong customer? Companies routinely and happily
spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars each for customer acquisition.
A few services already offer cost-free registration, but so far you have to
be on the lookout for the gotchas.
- RegisterFree will grant
one free domain name to everyone who registers this evening, Thursday
2000-03-23, between 9:00 and 10:00 eastern time. Good luck getting through to
the site; it's now 4 hours and 40 minutes to the opening bell and their
server just refused my HTTP request. After tonight the cost from RegisterFree
goes back to $19.95.
[Note added 2000-03-23, 10:15 pm:]
It was just as I feared. Tried RegisterFree.com for a solid hour and only
once got anything but a timeout and "Connection refused." One time I got
one step further, a redirect to tucows.com -- so they're using OpenSRS, I
didn't know that -- and timed out there.
[Note added 2000-03-24, 10:39 am:]
Now you can get to the site. Pretty cheesy: they blame the bottleneck on
NSI's registry servers. Now why do I doubt that was the problem?
[Note added 2000-03-28, 3:58 pm:]
Stuart Clark set the record straight on a few items. First of all, the
OpenSRS wholesale registry is already fully operational; the note I had
taken for a launch notice was just a note on availability of a new version.
Second, Clark said that NSI's database was indeed the bottleneck. It was
down for a brief period just before RegisterFree.com's site went live,
and the resulting backlog slowed everybody.
Craig McAllister sent word of a make-up offer from RegisterFree. If you got
through to their site during the hour-long signup and got as far as submitting
your email address, but couldn't get your registration completed, fill
out this form before
March 31 and you can still get a free domain-name registration.
McAllister did so and reports satisfaction with the process.
- NameZero offers free registration,
but only if you host with
them and make use of their "personal portal" environment. I have a feeling
this is going to involve giving up a lot of personally identifiable information
and putting up with a lot of targeted advertising. (NameZero is publicly
supporting a bill
introduced in the California legislature to establish a special class of
.com vanity license plates.)
[Note added 2000-03-28, 3:58 pm:]
Another Stuart Clark correction: what NameZero offers for free is
third-level names, such as mysite.example.com. Where's
the fun in that?
- Yesterday I went to the opening-day party
for Intuit's new east coast
R&D center outside of Boston. Intuit will soon be offering truly free,
truly simple name registration from inside the QuickBooks 2000 application.
The former Boston Light, a startup Intuit acquired 9 months ago, has developed
amazing platform technology for automating small business' exploitation of
the Web. Among other big dislocations, I expect Intuit to turn upside down the
market for merchant credit-card accounts. Watch these guys, big things are
3/23/00 12:03:30 PM
ACLU to defend the Peacefire Three.
An ACLU spokeswoman has confirmed to TBTF that the American Civil
Liberties Union will back three activists, associated with the
Peacefire site, whom Mattel
subpoenaed in the Breaking of Cyber Patrol
Waldo Jaquith, Lindsay Haisley, and Bennett Haselton all
posted mirrors of the CPHack site in defiance of an injunction
Mattel subsidiary Microsystems Software won against the authors of
CPHack. Here is Waldo Jaquith's
journal, which gives some human perspective on these legal
[Note added 2000-03-24, 4:55 pm:]
Here's the ACLU's press release.
is the spampoena emailed to the Peacefire Three and
a number of others, including the journalist Declan McCullach (whose
site hosts this document). The ACLU's Chris Hansen today filed this
quash the subpoenas against the Peacefire Three. Despite its
being in legalese, you're unlikely to read anything more sensible
3/23/00 11:32:00 AM
Unknown objects emitting gamma rays.
talks about the growing understanding of the sky in gamma rays
(simulation at right). Gamma rays are 100 million times as energetic
as visible light. So far 271 gamma-ray emitting objects are listed
in the catalog compiled by the Energetic Gamma Ray Telescope
Experiment aboard NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. Of these,
170 have not been identified. Researchers believe that about half of
the unidentified objects, not correlated with any source in visible or
radio frequencies, may represent well-known types of objects in the
galactic plane whose lower-energy radiation is blocked by dust or gas.
The other half of the unidentified galactic sources are closer to
Earth and comprise a new class of objects. NASA researchers now say
that these objects lie just off the Milky Way plane and follow the
Gould Belt, a ribbon of nearby massive stars and gas clouds that
winds through the Milky Way plane. They might be massive stars,
black holes acting as particle accelerators, or clusters of peculiar
Wednesday, March 22, 2000
3/22/00 9:47:14 PM
IANA approves .ps for Palestine.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority approved a request for a country-code
top level domain for Palestine. This
discusses the request's history and disposition.
In early 1997, the IANA received a request for delegation of a
top-level domain for Palestine. That request was initially
declined, but was renewed in October 1999. This report gives
the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation
of these requests.
Again thanks to Ant Brooks; the man is plugged into the ccTLD beat. And
TBTF Irregular Eric Scheid send along this
about the new ccTLD.
3/22/00 9:36:12 PM
3/22/00 9:35:09 PM
3.28 terabits over fiber.
Bell Labs is claiming a record: the first triple-terabit fiber data
transmission over a real-world distance, 300 km. The lab director,
Alastair Glass -- who says there's no such thing as fate? -- said
the team used three 100-km spans, with repeaters, of their
TrueWave fiber and that the demonstration proves they could have
gone any desired distance. The experimenters used dense wavelength
division multiplexing to carry 82 separate channels, each running at
a couple of Bell Labs folks blue-skying (thanks to Fredrick
Ochsenhirt for this link). They said that at 3 Tb/sec. one could
send 24 hours of the world's current Internet traffic in less than a
second, or the contents of the Library of Congress in 6 seconds. The
theoretical maximum capacity of the fiber now being laid is in the
thousands of terabits -- i.e., petabits -- per second. (See this
article in TBTF for
1998-07-27 for some perspective on these speeds and sizes.)
Monday, March 20, 2000
3/20/00 7:34:10 PM
Coding as spectator sport.
This is so cool, and I don't even know m. The Mathworks is running their
programming contest. Take a look at this worldwide demonstration of competitive
yet collaborative coding and incremental improvement. Here are the current
20 scorers. Notice how they learn from each other in realtime, and then
refine and resubmit their own and each others' work. As my informant Ned Gulley
<gulley at mathworks dot com> says:
It's an interesting mix of coding as a spectator sport and
online realtime open source code development. The result is
surprisingly entertaining, and the winning entry sports code
that has been optimized by hundreds of people. I believe it's a
glimpse of the future of how code will be developed.
The previous two years' contests results are archived; see
The Record Company
Contest (1455 entries) and
The Mars Surveyor
Contest (1647 entries). The current contest runs through next Friday.
3/20/00 12:02:41 AM