Trojan horses: beware of geeks bearing gifts
After Chris Double <chris at nd dot co dot nz> read in TBTF for 1998-08-10  about Back Orifice, the Cult of the Dead Cow's Trojan horse intrusion program, he stayed alert for signs of infection. Soon he noticed postings on the newsgroup alt.games.creatures about a utility purporting to extend the Creatures game -- but users who downloaded and ran it reported that it didn't do anything. In fact, what it did was to rip a gaping Back Orifice into their Net-connected Windows 95 machines. Read Chris's war story  for a glimpse into what life is going to be like for system administrators everywhere, starting now.
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...
Who are these guys?
A group calling itself the Linux Standards Association has set up shop to cash in on the Linux phenomenon . At first it appeared that no-one known to the Linux community was involved in the effort, but it developed that one Michael McLagna is behind it. McLagna's history and reputation in the Linux community is mixed, to put it charitably -- see this page , put together by Piotr F. Mitros, for some particulars.
To become a voting member of LSA you have to pay cash -- not exactly in keeping with Open Source common practice -- and the group's Web site  does not reveal how much. LSA's charter awards to its two founding members veto power over anything relating to the term "Standard Linux," which LSA has trademarked.
Community comment on Slashdot  is dismissive and/or derisive, and rightly so.
Lawyers for Linux International have sent LSA a cease-and-desist letter  over the use of the Linux trademark, because of LSA's stated intention of to charge a fee for branding distributions as Linux Standard Compliant.
We're going to see more of this as Linux continues to build momentum and to garner publicity. (Linus Torvalds was recently photographed for a Forbes Magazine cover.) Let's agree to ignore the LSA and perhaps they'll sink into the obscurity they so richly deserve while the actual Linux community continues to go about the business of building great software.
Thanks to Doug Morris <doug at mhost dot com> for details and links.
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...
No circus atmosphere for Microsoft-DoJ depositions
A federal appeals court has issued a stay of Judge Jackson's order opening the hearings . The court ordered that the depositions proceed in private, and will schedule hearings on the matter (which will be moot by the time it is heard).
Can't have it both ways
In a sworn statement  dated September 4 1998, for an upcoming hearing in the lawsuit between Sun and Microsoft over Java licensing, Robert Muglia, Microsoft's Senior Vice President of the Applications and Tools Group, states:
This, like the MSNBC timeline reported previously , appears to contradict Microsoft's assertion in the Department of Justice antitrust suit that they had intended to integrate browser and OS as early as 1993.
This item in its entirety was sent to me by Matthew Brookes <matt at broadcom dot ie>. Matt, I hereby create you the first of the TBTF Irregulars. Arise, go forth, and seek out Tasty Bits from the farthest corners of the Net! Will we ever be as big as Dogbert's New Ruling Class  (wonders the Minister for Gratuitously Hyphenating Monospaced Ascii Text Messages)?
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...
Exporting strong crypto still deemed a clear and present danger
Got your attention with that one, eh? In fact he merely continued in force a national emergency declared in 1994 . Had he not done so the 1979 authority under which US exports of cryptographic code are regulated would have expired. The executive order  cites an
Who deserves communications privacy?
When Presidnet Clinton testified before a grand jury last week, his words and image were well encrypted as they travelled the few blocks from the White House to the federal court building. The scrambling setup was handled by the military-run White House communications team. Mercury News columnist Dan Gilmore draws the obvious parallel :
Whew, glad I didn't fall for that one
Benjamin Bennett <bbennett at kenan dot com> wrote to point out that the 1996 Forbes article  cited in TBTF for 1998-08-10  has been thoroughly debunked , . It turns out the three hackers and a security consultant were having a little game of "mock the journalist" -- you can't build a directed-energy radio-frequency cannon for $300. Although, as Greg Roelofs <roelofs at prpa dor philips dot com> pointed out in an emailed BOTEC, the energetics more or less work out.
At long last the monopolist supplier braces for competition
I wrote in TBTF for 1997-11-10  about the imminent deregulation of the Indian market for communications services -- reckoning without the incumbent monopolist, VSNL, which has fought as tenaciously as any US Baby Bell ever did to preserve its traditional freedom from competition. Last month the Delhi High Court spoke and now India's Department of Telecommunications is finally preparing to license private ISPs . Around 120,000 Indians are online now, up from 40,000 last November, and VSNL thinks that's a pretty decent rate of growth. Wait till 1,000 local ISPs, as well as BT, MCI, Compuserve, and Sprint, are nipping at its fiber.
But what's the half-life of sites like this one?
TechNet has a nifty summary  of the half-life of the buzzwords that sweep over the Net media in ever-shortening waves: Community begets Push yields to Portal, which may be elbowed aside by Post-Content Transactive Agents.
Can a little Perl script spell the End of User Tracking As We Know It?
In response to the recent TBTF article Tracking users by the tens of millions , John Carter <ece at dwaf-hri dot pwv dot gov dot za> sent this little Perl of a script  for Linux users troubled by cookies. Carter writes:
Project Znamya (Banner) will put a second moon in the sky
A Russian-led consortium  plans to deploy a space mirror later this year in a proof-of-concept for technology to banish night from the frozen Siberian Arctic. On November 9 people across the northern hemisphere will see a space mirror 5 to 10 times brighter than the full moon tracking across their night skies. Cosmonauts aboard Mir will be able to point the reflected light by remote control at cities of their choosing. Here are maps of Mir-Znamya passes over
Not everyone is wild about the prospect of huge orbiting mirrors brightening night on Earth ; among the most vocal opponents are astronomers and environmentalists. Thanks to Keith Bostic <nev at bostic dot com> for the forward, and the title.
Another reader adds:
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