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TBTF for 1998-03-30: Elementary

Keith Dawson ( dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com )
Sun, 29 Mar 21:47:51 -0400


Another intrusion-detection vendor is acquired

Did Security Dynamics get a bargain?

Security Dynamics, owner of RSA, bought Intrusion Detection, continuing the recent round of consolidations in this industry [1]. C|net notes [2] that the price, $32.5M or about 3 times Intrusion Detection's 1997 earnings, was surprisingly small for a company ranked number three in a $100M market. Last month Cisco bought fourth-ranked WheelGroup for 12 times earnings. Other small players in the intrusion detection market, now possible acquisition targets, include Netect [3] and Secure Networks [4]. Here is a recent overview [5] of the players in the market for intrusion detection software and firewalls.

[1] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1998-02-23.html#s01
[2] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20490,00.html?pfv
[3] http://www.netect.com/
[4] http://www.securenetworks.com/nav.html


Threads Email spam and antispam tactics
See also TBTF for
2000-07-20, 1999-07-19, 1998-11-17, 07-27, 03-30, 02-09, 01-12, 1997-11-24, 10-20, 09-29, 09-22, more...

Washington State outlaws spam

First such state law on the books

On 3/25 Washington's Governor signed a bill [6] outlawing unwanted and deceptive email within that state. The bill allows ISPs to sue spammers to recover damages. It forbids forging a return address, hijacking another's mail server, or otherwise misrepresenting a message's point of origin -- practices employed in an estimated 80% of all spam. The law applies to anyone within the state of Washington who sends forged junk email and also bans anyone from sending such spam to Washington residents.

[6] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20480,00.html?pfv


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...

Poles of the domain-name debate

The Green Paper fragmented and sharpened opinions

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has registered its comments [7] on the Commerce Department's domain naming Green Paper. EFF weighs in from the side of radical Internet self governance. It wants the evolution of the domain naming system left completely in the hands of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, and it wants NSI cut off completely from any ownership in the common property of domain namespace. The EFF urges balance for the rights of small companies and individuals against those of trademark holders.

Gordon Cook replied [8] to the EFF comments; suffice it to say he is not sanguine. As Phil Agre notes in introducing Cook's comments, this debate has polarized almost beyond reason.

[7] http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/noframes/rre/764.html
[8] http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/noframes/rre/765.html


A 56K stunner: x2 trounces K2flex

The sun shines on 3Com, but not on Rockwell/Lucent

The March Boardwatch magazine's cover story [9], written by the self-titled Editor Rotundus Jack Rickard, is a characteristically rambling and bit-dense account of the magazine's program for testing modems and dial-up connection rates. Like most of the industry, Boardwatch had assumed that the competing 56K modem technologies were more or less equivalent. Beginning last December the magazine set out to determine call completion rates at a number of nationwide ISPs; 140,000-odd calls later, the results constitute an embarrassing walkover in favor of x2. The two thumbnails below link to graphics [10], [11] (about 94K each) that encapsulate the following results:

                              K2flex       x2

      Number of calls         10,325     10,470
      Avg. connect speed      30,849     43,192
      % connected above 40K    6.51%     93.51%


What do these results matter now that the warring camps have agreed on an interoperable standard? Boardwatch's Rickard speculates that in the coming V.90 era we will look back with wistful nostalgia on the rocky and painful transition to V.34 several years ago.
We would expect to see an almost implausible range of operating performance from modems all purporting to be V.90 compatible. We'll have a standard, but it won't be very standard with regard to performance.
Thanks to John Jenson <john at analysis dot net> for pointing out the Boardwatch article.

[9] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/bwm24.html
[10] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/pg35a.jpg
[11] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/pg34a.jpg


Threads 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...

Three bad breaks for Microsoft

In Java suit, Senate hearing, and Justice appeal

bul A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa cup

Sun got a boost during its JavaOne conference last week when US District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte ruled that Microsoft must stop using the Java logo in its products until the companies' lawsuit is resolved in a trial. Whyte ruled that Sun had shown a reasonable likelihood of winning its case, and that Microsoft's interpretation of the Java contract would essentially allow the Redmond company to destroy the cross-platform nature of Java.

bul Senate committee wants to investigate Win98

Orrin Hatch, the Senator from Novell, sent a letter [12] to Bill Gates stating that the Judiciary Committee will extend its antitrust investigation to include Windows 98 [13]. The committee wants Microsoft to release its partners from any confidentiality agreements so that OEMs, ISPs, and content providers can discuss details of their Microsoft contracts with investigators.

[12] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20534,00.html?pfv
[13] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20522,00.html?pfv

bul Appeals court judge removes himself from Microsoft case

The appeals court that initially looked friendly toward Microsoft just got a little frostier. Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, took himself off the case because he oversees a trust that invests in Microsoft [14]. He was replaced by Carter appointee Judge Patricia Wald. In the coming weeks the appeals panel will decide the fate of Special Master Lawrence Lessig, opposed by Microsoft, and review injunctions on the company's browser.

[14] http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/msftdoj/TWB19980317S0020


Electronic software delivery

A new online store tries alternative revenue models

Release Software and @Home have launched a site, SoftwareNow [15], that takes advantage of @Home's fat pipes to provide downloadable software [16]. It's available over the open Internet as well, but since it sits on @Home's high-speed backbone, downloads to @Home customers should occur at megabit rates. The store uses Release Software's [17] SalesAgent ESD technology, and to me its salient innovation is supporting alternative revenue models for electronically delivered software. Some software is available in a shareware-like, try-before-you-buy form. A few items can be rented by the week for prices ranging from $7 to $16. Which software is offered in which delivery model seems to depend on the vendor. For example, all 31 Microsoft titles listed are available only for snail-mail box delivery. (Microsoft is known to be working on their own online ESD store, to the ill-concealed alarm of their channel partners, so it's not surprising that they don't authorize SoftwareNow to offer their products in this way.) Here's a rough box score:

        Delivery method      Titles

        Download & buy          250+
        Ship box                 90+
        Try before you buy       23
        Rent by the week          7
Note SoftwareNow's .net address [15]. Confusingly, an unrelated shareware operation owns the name softwarenow.com.

[15] http://www.softwarenow.net/
[16] http://www.home.com/corp/news/pr_980323_01.html
[17] http://www.releasesoft.com/


Find your local Web worker

Web-design.com puts geography first

The Net is everywhere and nowhere, so it's easy to assume that location shouldn't matter for Web workers. Perhaps this is why listings of such professionals rarely make it easy to search based on geographical location. But in fact someone hiring you to build a Web site is probably going to want to shake your hand and look you in the eye. A new database [18] being promoted by Premier Internet Corp. addresses this very issue -- it supports searches by state, metropolitan area, and country. Web-design.com is just getting started. Some of the links don't work yet -- Help, for example -- and when I visited yesterday it listed a total of six designers in California. But if the site attracts a good collection of listings it will provide a needed service.

If you're a Web designer, go and add yourself to Web-design.com's database. It only takes a minute. The site mails you a password so you can edit your entry later.

A couple of words of advice to the site's creators: lose the pervasive drop shadows, they make me blink and squint. Don't force the output into Helvetica/Ariel mouse type, let me choose the font and size in my browser. Finally, replace the dubiously useful "skills" listing with a space for designers to list the URLs of sites they have created.

[18] http://www.web-design.com/


Quick Bits

A maze of twisty items, all a little different

bul Y2K, the Euro, and D10K

The April Wired lists the Millenium bug, a.k.a. Y2K, as "Tired," while the changeover to the Euro [19] is "Wired." Now a third software glitch looms as the Dow Jones industrial average looks ready to run out of room in four digits.

From Edupage, 1998-03-26:

Experts predict financial software may go haywire if the Dow Jones Industrial Average tops 10,000. Many software programs are designed to handle only four-digit Dows, says one software designer, who says that concern over the D10K problem soon "will spawn the usual parade of opportunists" to fix the bug. (Wall Street Journal 26 Mar 98)
[19] http://www.xs4all.nl/~doornh/euro/RELATION.HTM
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...

bul Mozilla dot party

On 4/1 the Open Source community is invited to a party [20] in Multimedia Gulch [21], San Francisco, to celebrate the release of Netscape Communicator source code. This is no April Fools joke, it just happens that Communicator is being freed the day before. Netscape is not supporting the party -- sounds like the lawyers got involved -- it's the sole doing of Netscape employee Jamie Zawinski [22], who toils on the mozilla.org side of the house.

[20] http://www.mozilla.org/party/
[21] http://www.tbtf.com/siliconia.html#mmgulch
[22] http://www.mozilla.org/party/details.html

bul Who ya gonna call (Drive Savers)

Pray you never need the services of this outfit [23], which specializes in recovering bits from nightmarishly damaged disks. My favorite story from the museum [24] is the PowerBook that spent several days at the bottom of the Amazon River before Drive Savers recovered 100% of its data.

[23] http://www.drivesavers.com/
[24] http://www.drivesavers.com/0/museum.html



Zip code optional

TBTF for 1997-03-21 [25] noted that elements 104 to 109 had been added officially to the periodic table after long disputes over what to call them. A note forwarded by Peter Langston <psl at langston dot com> indicates that that announcement was premature. The March 1998 issue of the publication of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers says that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry had officially named the six elements only in September of last year. AIChE Extra (great name, that) quotes Discover magazine on the unique distinction held by Glenn Seaborg, still a researcher at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Berkeley Labs:

Not only is he the first living scientist to have an element named after him, he's also the only person who could receive mail addressed only in elements: Seaborgium, Lawrencium, Berkelium, Californium, Americium.
[25] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/1997-03-21.html#s07


bul TBTF won't appear next week, but will return on April 13. Try to bear up. Next weekend you'll find me walking on a deserted beach or flying in an ancient airplane without benefit of cockpit.


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

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