September 14 – 20, 1997

from the Up-To-Date dept

Sponsored by the Technology Management Club of Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Al Gore School of “Accept now, deal with the legal consequences later.”

                                       The not always serious,
                                       not always weekly update
                                       on the Hi-Tech Industry
                                       September 14th - 20th
                      Sponsored by the Technology Management Club of
                      Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management
                      and the Al Gore School of "Accept now,
                      deal with the legal consequences later."

Say that again...
"There's a direct correlation between gross margin and the SOB factor."
- Shanda Bahles, a partner in Eldorado Ventures, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park discussing different types of CEOs in the hi-tech industry. September 18th, 1997.

Power Plays of the week...
Jobs makes it official. What you knew all along now has a title to it. Temporary CEO. Temporary, that is until they can find some sucker to take the position...Concerns are starting to be raised about a patent issued to Netscape back in August concerning their Secure Socket Layer. Turns out, if read in the correct (from Netscape's view) way, it's quite possible Netscape could charge royalties anytime anyone sends an encrypted message over an open network. Hrmm... Excite has announced an "exclusive" deal to distribute content from Barnes & Noble through its Webcrawler search engine. I wonder how this plays on the 3 year "exclusive" deal Excite has with Walmart and CompUSA have announced plans to build their own PCs... Compaq has announced they will strive for $50 billion dollars in sales by 2000 (last year they hit $18 billion)...

Best excuse of the week
The government has canceled its contract with GTE to update the Medicare computer system because the current system is too "antiquated". Huh? I thought that was the point of updating a computer system...

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???)
MSNBC's "The Site" shuts down...Congress continues to debate on whether or not laptops should be allowed in Congressional Halls (okay, how pathetic is that?)... Windows 98 delayed... New bug found in beta release of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0... Phone companies who've been claiming for months now that they really are just about to rollout ADSL technology, aren't... Microsoft unveils the new WebTV to much hype... Clinton administration says the year 2000 problem "is real, it's serious, it's important"... Intel to drop prices (again) on the Pentium II... Computers on the Mir space station fail (again)... Intel unveils new Create & Share Camera Pack in yet another effort to convince that we really (honestly) do need that Pentium II machine... Microsoft and AOL team up... N2K and AOL team up... @Home and AOL team up (sense a pattern?)... Apple's Marketing EVP quits... Analysts on Oracle: "maybe not such a good buy"... Dell expects to remain profitable... Kodak revenue and earnings forecast "not good"... Five U.S. air force collisions in 3 days called a coincidence... Intel comes out with "radically" new memory chip for flash memory... Competitors say Intel's new chip is not so revolutionary... Lots of ISPs to bundle Microsoft's Internet Explorer (possibly the story I saw most often this week... can anyone let me know what's so newsworthy about that?)... Barnes & Noble adds a "ranking" feature to its website (just like TV broadcasters promise that they really really really do plan on offering HDTV to the masses... Two cyber cafes in NYC go out of business... AOL's software is specially designed to not let you connect at high speeds... Ilene Lang, the head of DEC's AltaVista project quits when Digital decides, "Oh, hell, let's not have an IPO."... Dell targeting Japanese server market... IBMs Taligent division officially dissolved (I was surprised to find out it still existed.)... E-Stamp suckers Microsoft and AT&T out of their money... Another attempt to organize the web: 4Internet is trying to create a bunch of cheesily themed (yet easy to register) domains so that it is easy to find certain things. They will have sites such as 4Coffee, 4News, 4MutualFunds, etc... VivoActive Producer 2.0 named the top video streaming product by PC Magazine. Go to Vivo's web page and you'll notice Microsoft's name appears almost as many times as Vivo's. Hrmm... AOL to incorporate push technology in 4.0 software to be introduced next month... Rolling Stones to "webcast" a concert next week... Oracle will donate network computers to 100 poor schools in California. My guess is that's the only way they could get rid of the damn things... Pixar employees on Steve Jobs' new job, "just fine". Wouldn't you be if Steve Jobs left you alone for a while?

People were *surprised* when Microsoft announced its delay of Windows 98 by a few months. They were so surprised, in fact, that Microsoft stock dropped over $7. Also, traders blamed a late session stock market decline on Monday on this one announcement. I mean, come on, this is Microsoft... Kangaroo software has announced development of a new type of software technology called "Punch" which, to me, sounds a hell of a lot like "Push" but with a bit more force... Exponential Technologies might actually have a case against Apple. Exponential's claim is that Apple ordered near Exponential's production capacity on their revolutionary 533 MHz microprocessors to keep clone makers from getting their hands on the chip. In light of recent events, that seems to make sense, yes? Well, of course, in April, Apple canceled the order and Exponential had to go out of business... Nomai has released a fully Iomega Zip compatible 100MB floppy disk... Intel working with 3Com??? ... Ted Turner donates spare change to the tune of $1 billion to the United Nations (he chose that number saying "a billion is a good round number"). Come on Bill and Rupert, follow suit... While those NYC cybercafes go out of business, the concept appears to be making a successful impact in Bangladesh. Yes, Bangladesh, where the average worker would need 5 years worth of income to afford a PC...

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
This one is just plain scary: A Japanese veterinary scientist is planning on using frozen mammoth sperm to recreate a mammoth by injecting it into the eggs of African elephants. Something is just *wrong* about that... 7-11 has decided to put Internet kiosks throughout its Seattle stores where you can buy time to access the web or email. As Bill Young stated, "It's all good fun until someone spills their Slurpee on the CPU."... Not directly related to technology, but watch how I tie it in: a political party in New Zealand this week made a proposal to change the name of the "Earth" to "Diana". It is thanks to wonderful communication tools like the internet that I find out about such drivel... New software from Cognitive Diagnostics apparently can analyze the brain and compute someone's IQ... Using WebTV and the vertical blanking image in a regular TV broadcast, Microsoft will begin transmitting data to "ActiMates Barney". I'm scared. Personally, I don't want kids to be taught by Microsoft. 68 Barney enabled shows will be broadcast in the next 2 years. I read this story in a serious British PC magazine which concluded with the sentence: "Thankfully, there are no plans to import Barney to the UK at this point."

Studies on the Net:
NFO research reports that over 50% of active web users have or plan to have a personal web page... the Gartner Group released a study predicting that 90% of ISPs in the US may go out of business by 2002... Host computers on the internet grew from 14.7 million last September to 26 million now according to a study by Bellcore... 1 million internet ready TVs will be in U.S. homes by the year 2000, according to Forrester Research... A study by Borland International suggests that Java will be widely used by developers in enterprise business computing environments... A study done at Cambridge University has found that (big surprise here) the U.S. government's policies on exporting encryption has held back the development of "secure commercial and government communication in Europe."... CNN has reported that hi-tech companies are having a hard time finding employees to fill top level jobs. Apparently this was for the 3 otherwise occupied astronauts on Mir, because you would think just about everyone else in the world knew this already... The average U.S. PC user only uses 13% of their installed applications. And, as was pointed out, this includes Solitaire and Minesweeper... IDC says the market for super computers will be $5.6 billion by 2000. Obviously, they haven't tried out the new Pentium IIs yet... FIND/SVP predicts that by next year 24 million people will use the net as their local news source...

Spyglass has released Prism 1.0, a web browser for non-PCs. I don't know about you, but I honestly have no desire to cruise the web on my cell phone. We'll see what happens, though. There is always a possibility that a special "appliance web" will spring up bringing new value added to surfing the web on everything from your coffee maker to your wrist watch.... The L.A. Times is implementing automatic translation software on its website to translate its stories into Spanish, French, and Japanese. ... Cliff Stoll will find some way to rant about the demise of "The Site"...

Memes o' the week:
Call it HTML terrorism. More and more people are complaining about competitors using their names or trademarks invisibly in their "meta" tags to draw seekers from search engines. This week Playboy has started suing Calvin Designer Label for using the words "Playboy" and "Playmate" so searchers for those words on most popular search engines will be drawn to their page instead... This week I received a wonderful unsolicited commercial email (yes, spam) with an appended message longer than the original one explaining to me that "True Americans" support spam, and it is only "computer hippies" and "immature nerds" that would hold back the true American way of sending out annoying unsolicited email. It gets into some fun stuff on freedoms and what this country is built on. So, I assume this is the new standard: insulting you into accepting what you don't want.

Too much free time:
Do you want to feel good about your current life situation? Go here and go through the full simulation (seriously):


Up To Date is written by Mike Masnick from whatever news he hears from whatever sources they happen to come from. It is not intended for any uses other than as one of many possible ways to follow what's going on in the hi-tech industry. I certainly wouldn't rely on it as your only source of info.

If you would like to subscribe to the email version please send an email to with "Subscribe Up To Date" in the subject heading. Up To Date is also available on the web at

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