Saturday, July 15, 2000
7/15/2000 8:33:24 AM
Scour caught living up to its name.
A new-media company backed by Michael Ovitz has been scouring the
Net looking for open SMB ports. The story was broken Friday by the
and has been picked up by
Scour.com offers multimedia content for free download and/or
streaming. Unlike Napster, whose client/server asks users explicitly
for which directories they are willing to share, Scour simply
assumes that any multimedia content on a user's PC is fair game.
And according to the LA Times story, Scour doesn't stop at the PCs
of users who have downloaded its software: its bots scan the Net for
open SMB ports. These will be found on the PCs of unsuspecting users
who have turned on Windows file or print sharing without a password.
Such promiscuous scanning is a technique most often associated with
crackers and script kiddies, not with supposedly reputable dot-coms
backed by deep-pocketed moguls.
One security expert quoted by the LA Times implies that Scour makes
public the resulting list of open SMB ports. (I didn't find any such
thing on Scour's site.)
Scour says it will discontinue the use of SMB within a few days, according to PC Week.
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Alan Wexelblat for notice on this story.
Friday, July 14, 2000
7/14/2000 2:36:21 PM
German proposal to tax Internet use at work.
Germany has made a strong move in the rapidly spreading
international contest to demonstrate maximal blinding cluelessness
about the Internet. The German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung broke
which was picked up by the
news ticker. All of these pages are in German. Jochen Schwarze,
who alerted me to the story, kindly provided this English translation.
German financial minister Hans Eichel has proposed a draft
decree 1 stating that
private use of the Internet at work will be taxed from January
1, 2001. The tax office assumes that private use is common and
will therefore be regarded as a 'monetary advantage'
2. If the company or the
employee cannot prove that the Internet access is granted for
occupational reasons only, the complete Internet costs for that
workplace may be regarded as 'geldwerter Vorteil' and therefore
added to the employee's taxable income. To avoid this, the
employer has to forbid private Internet use completely AND is
obliged to take random samples. Only if private use is ruled out
by 'special circumstances' (like technical actions to allow
access to certain pages only) there will be no tax implications.
If, however, the employee has unrestricted access to Internet
pages, the amount of 'geldwerter Vorteil' charged is based on an
individual settlement. For this, the employee is obliged to take
notes on the date, time, and duration of occupational use as
well as the pages visited and and for what specific reason.
Industry representatives are in a rage about the proposed decree
for a number of reasons like unjustified administrative effort,
cost of logging all access, and tax revenues bearing no relation
to expenses. They are now trying to get private Internet access
declared a 'convenience' (like free coffee), so that it is not
subject to taxes.
- Absurd and quixotic.
- Every employee with PC and Internet access will be a
potential tax evader.
- An idea that could only be developd by people without enough
work to do.
- Politicians issue placatory messages on Green Cards and the
New Economy while at the same time burdening citizens with
nonsensical tax regulations.
a 'decree' (German 'Erlass')
is something that can be
established by the ministry without having to pass the German
federal parliament, the 'Bundestag.'
German tax idiom, 'geldwerter
Vorteil' -- a 'monetary
advantage' is some service or benefit that you get from your
employer beyond direct payment, for example free lunches or a staff
car that you can use for free privately. You are obliged to pay
income tax on the equivalent value.
7/14/2000 11:51:44 AM
Earthlink refuses to install FBI's Carnivore.
The Wall Street Journal today
that Earthlink has turned down an FBI request to install the new
surveillance device on its network. (You'll need a paid
subscription to visit the WSJ link. Here's an
in USA Today.) Though the FBI insists its
monitoring equipment is benign to a host network, an Earthlink
spokesman said of Carnivore:
It has the potential to hurt our network, to bring pieces of it
down. It could impact thousands of people.
The WSJ story also reveals that Earthlink was a party to a lawsuit
over Carnivore earlier this year. The records of the case are under
seal. A federal judge ordered the ISP to install the FBI's equipment
pursuant to a warrant in a criminal investigation. Earthlink reported
that numerous network problems resulted.
Janet Reno has
a review of Carnivore.
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Ted Byfield for the nod.
[17jul, 7:55 am]
that Earthlink has come to an agreement with the FBI under which the ISP
would itself gather the data required by law enforcement, rather than
allowing FBI agents to install and service a Carnivore box.
7/14/2000 10:00:52 AM
A real potato-powered server.
Fredric White, who brought us WebAce,
world's smallest Web server, is at it again. After the infamous
SpudServer hoax last May tricked the BBC,
USA Today, and Ananova, White got to wondering what it would take to
build a real potato-powered Web server. The result is
can in theory visit the server, but it's ver-r-r-r-y slow and
often times out. For those of you who don't manage to get through,
here's part of what the Spud Server says.
This is an actual potato-powered Web server. Running at a majestic
pace of 0.019 MIPS, and consuming 0.000030 Watts of power, it can
handle about 0.2 hits per second.
In order to avoid further draining the potatoes I won't give its URL
here, but you can find it on White's
At the time of my visit, minutes ago, the server reported it has
been up for nearly 13 days and has entertained 2,083 visitors.
Thanks to Milan Merhar for the heads-up.
7/14/2000 8:37:20 AM
Britain clamping down on HavenCo.
Stepping up the pressure, British
and questioned a US citizen who arrived
at Heathrow Airport en route to his new assignment at HavenCo. The
would-be data haven operates from a reclaimed anti-aircraft platform
6 miles off the Essex coast. The new HavenCo employee assumed he
would not need a British work permit to go to Sealand, but a
spokesman for the Home Office said
We consider Sealand to be part of the UK and therefore anyone
working there who is not a citizen of a European Union country
would require a work permit.
A HavenCo spokesman said the employee will start work as scheduled
If Britain starts playing games, we'll find other ways of getting
people to Sealand.
A court decision in 1968 held that Sealand's potentate could not be
held liable for firearms violations, as the offshore platform is
situated 3 miles beyond the reach of British law at the time. The UK
has since expanded its territorial waters to 10 miles.
[15jul, 12:10 pm]
in Wired said that various British government agencies take
a different view of Sealand. For example, Sealand's
self-proclaimed Prince Roy, a retired British soldier, receives
retirement checks only for the time he spends on British soil,
as the veteran's department considers Sealand not to be part of
Thursday, July 13, 2000
7/13/2000 3:45:50 PM
The View from Softpro.
Suddenly the TBTF contributors are returning, as if they had all
just flown in from their various distant winter feeding grounds. First
Lloyd Wood turned in a profile of
Richard Stallman, then the
up something like a blog here on TBTF. And now Rick Treitman sends
along a new number of The View from Softpro. (Previous
columns are here and
In this feature Rick looks at the industry through the lens of sales
patterns at an established bookstore for computer professionals.
Rick and his brother Bob run Softpro
in Burlington and Marlboro, Massachusetts. (A third brother, Jim, manages
Softpro in Denver, Colorado.) Rick writes:
Our view of the industry is a bit different than most. We tend
to see where the development action is -- as opposed to the
marketing noise. Our customers are people who need to crank
out code and who are generally trying to take advantage of the
latest technical developments.
The View from Softpro
by Rick Treitman <rick at softpro dot com>
Softpro, 112 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01803-5300
v.781-273-2917 f.781-273-2499 www.softpro.com
As July starts off, one operating system is outselling all others
combined by a factor of more than two. (At Softpro, "all others"
includes various flavors of Linux plus FreeBSD -- we don't sell
enough Windows products even to include them.)
OpenBSD 2.7 is the bestseller for the first 12 days of July, and
sales are accelerating.
More predictably, the hot book categories this month are: Java
Server Pages, XML, Java, and HTML. Interestingly enough, there has
been very little interest in Windows 2000, and none of our
month-to-date bestsellers have anything to do with Microsoft. Apache books
are among the better selling books, but nothing doing for the
various Microsoft servers.
Wednesday, July 12, 2000
7/12/2000 6:39:39 PM
Sunday, July 9, 2000
7/9/2000 6:16:20 PM