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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2000-09-30

9:35:07 AM
  • ICANN has given IANA permission to delegate the .EU top-level domain. TBTF Irregular Ant Brooks <ant at hivemind dot net>, dedicated participant in the community of country-code top-level domains, sent this note parsing the impenetrable language of the following recent ICANN resolution:

    It is therefore RESOLVED [00.74] that the IANA staff is advised that alpha-2 codes not on the ISO 3166-1 list are delegable as ccTLDs only in cases where the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency, on its exceptional reservation list, has issued a reservation of the code that covers any application of ISO 3166-1 that needs a coded representation in the name of the country, territory, or area involved;

    Here is Brooks's detailed analysis, which concludes that the above translates to:

    ICANN has given IANA permission to delegate the .EU TLD.

2000-09-28

3:14:31 PM
11:10:15 AM
  • updated Quantum lithography. Here's a novel application for entangled photons: use the entanglement to multiply their effective frequency, then do photolithography with the more accurate beam to skirt the Rayleigh criterion. This process was proposed by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Wales in a paper published this week in Physical Review Letters. The JPL press release explains:

    This process, in essence, enables the entangled photon pair to produce patterns twice as small on each side of a chip's surface as can be created by the single photons in the conventional optical lithography procedures. Entangling more than two photons would improve results even further.

    I first came across this story in a CNN report and was put off by its golly-gee-whiz tone. Looking for anything on the Web closer to the science, I found only the aforementioned press release from JPL, and it is, I report with trepidation, a mother-lode of gee-whiz. Science Daily has picked up the story but simply runs the press release unedited.

    here Note added 11:39 pm: Jonathan P. Dowling, the co-author cited in the JPL press piece, kindly sent me the URL of this AIP news release. As usual the AIP explains the issues in an approachable way, as witness this summary:

    The Rayleigh criterion for far-field light is mainly a limit of classical, pre-20th century physics, and not of the "quantum" physics discovered and explored since the 20th century.

2000-09-25

8:46:34 AM
  • Introducing XNS. This will be huge news for personal privacy. A new technology called XNS went live at 7:00 am Eastern time. It marries XML with Web agents and contract law to put you firmly in control of information about yourself and the transactions you conduct over the Net.

    XNS was developed by OneName to enable Internet users and businesses to exchange data in an automated way with privacy protection built in at the core. It's based entirely on Internet standards like HTTP and XML, and it will be fully open-source.

    What sets XNS apart from all the various wannabe-standard proprietary technologies is that OneName is licensing the patent that governs this technology to a newly formed non-profit, the XNS Public Trust Organization, or XNSORG.

    XNS has two basic parts. First is the Web agent technology that enables individuals and business to share information, creating permanent links that can withstand the rigors of new email addresses, physical moves, and marital name changes. For my money the neatest idea in the whole package is that every link is governed by a legally enforceable privacy contract aimed at giving every XNS community member control and ownership of his/her/its personal data, once and for all.

    Second, XNS has a next-generation naming system -- to find and link to these web agents -- that is designed to avoid all the problems with DNS, both in terms of the size of the namespace and the huge intellectual property issues that have come up. Some of the initial uses for XNS include:

    • single sign-in at every Web site that supports XNS
    • spam elimination by requiring all new correspondents to agree to your privacy policy before allowing their mail through
    • an address book that is never out of date

    The key to it all is XNSORG, which is the non-profit tasked with coordinating the maintenance of the XNS technology and creating a governance structure for the XNS community. XNSORG will do things like establish technical and operational specifications for the system to ensure quality of service, design a dispute resolution system to handle breaches of privacy contracts, and organize working groups to extend the capabilities of the system.

    I don't believe there's ever been such a situation on the Internet where an intellectual property holder hands over a patent and all their source code to a non-profit that answers only to the Internet community.

    The gateway to the benefits of XNS technology is your personal name. The first operational XNS Naming Agency, OneName itself, is offering one personal name, free for life, to the first million applicants. Visit the XNSORG services page to reserve your chosen personal name. (Note that the OneName registration site requires JavaScript to function. Other agencies will be coming online beginning next month.) Think carefully about what name you choose -- XNS names are meant to be permanent. The name can consist of up to 64 characters in any Unicode language. (Mine is "Keith Dawson".)

    Adam Engst has written a detailed and even-handed introduction to XNS, its promise, and the obstacles it faces in this week's TidBITS newsletter.

    Note that the day after XNS went live, VeriSign (which now owns Network Solutions Inc.) put out a press release preannouncing ENUM -- an attempt to use the domain name system (which NSI happens to control) as a universal name directory based on telephone numbers. (DNS is utterly unsuited to the task -- it's a naming service, not a directory service.) It may be no coincidence that OneName had informed NSI of its plans, under non-disclosure, a year ago, at the instigation of a now-departed executive. Think of ENUMWorld as a sowing of FUD to counter XNS -- you won't be too far off the mark.


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