December 7 – 13, 1997

from the Up-To-Date dept

Feeding the habit of all you “dataholics”…

                                The not always serious,
                                not always weekly update
                                on the Hi-Tech Industry
                                December 7th - December 13th
                Sponsored by the Technology Management Club of 
                Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management.

                Feeding the habit of all you "dataholics"...

Another rare bit from me
Becomes less rare each time I do this, but... I keep warning that this
might actually not come out some week, and then it does anyway.  I'm
learning to stop lying, and so, honestly, over the next few weeks I'm not
sure how often, or in what form Up-To-Date will be published.  Sorry to all
you new readers (thanks to you too, since you made this the largest weekly
jump in subscriptions so far!).  I imagine there may be one or two smallish
reports.  Since I'll be traveling the country trying to track down someone
who will hire me, it's going to depend on how much time the family and
friends with whom I am staying are willing to let me spend on their 

Say that again...
"Wall Street still hasn't grasped the appeal of our business model."
- Alan Meckler, Chairman of Mecklermedia (neither have I, Alan...)

"And my comptroller just told me today, December will be a kickass month,
- Jim Kinsella, General Manager of the MSNBC web site on their business

"The reality is that there is absolutely nothing going on."
- A DEC official, supposedly on Compaq buyout rumors, but I think really on
business in general.

"WebTV is the cutting edge of Internet-enabled appliances and the harbinger
of things to come."
- Father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, sounding somewhat brainwashed

" - the Web made simple."
- The new slogan of AOL.  Anyone else see problems with this one?

"The stock market has overreacted to our second quarter results announcement."
- Ray Lane, Oracle President, in a mild understatement after Oracle's stock
drops 27% this week

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
Oracle misses earnings estimates by $0.04 per share and the *entire* market
tanks.  Kinda goes against the theory of Bill Gates controlling the market,
doesn't it?  Though, maybe it was just a warning for Judge Jackson prior to
his decision.  The real test is what happens now that Microsoft got
squashed by the good judge (perhaps this belongs in rumors)... Applied
Magnetics warns that its earnings will "not be particularly good" and
analysts shrug in apathy... Picking the week when tech stocks are being
tossed out left and right, ISP Erols decides to announce IPO plans...
During all the mess, how many of you missed National Semi beating the
estimates?  I almost did... Quantum reports that they're likely to miss
earnings estimates by 25 to 35 cents per share (ouch)... CMG having a good
week after Intel's investment, reports that they're making money, something
the analysts didn't expect... 

Online Graffiti
Crackers this week broke into Yahoo!, and changed their text only home page
to a goofy message in "cracker-ese" that didn't scare anyone.  If you're
gonna crack a site like Yahoo! and try to scare people, you at least have
to hit the clueless ones, and trust me, it's most likely *not* going to be
the ones using text only browsers... Meanwhile someone did a slightly
better job on by redirecting everyone to another site that really
didn't mean anything to anyone (is there some code among crackers that
their messages must be cryptic to be "k3wl"?)...

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Microsoft looking at shelling out $500 million for free email provider
Hotmail (why?)... Not only does Microsoft control the financial markets,
the government and (probably) the weather, now they're looking to control
your education as well.  So says the folks in California who see right
through the front organization that basically gives Microsoft a monopoly on
educational computing in California.  Thank goodness for the massive
turnout (150 people) to protest such an injustice... Digital denied that
they're in talks with Compaq about a merger, which only leads me to believe
it's more likely than not...

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???)
Intel buys 4.9% of CMG, a public venture capital firm that invests only in
internet companies... Microsoft can't bundle IE with Windows, says judge...
Apple paid ex-CEO Gil Amelio $6.7 million in golden parachute money, while
they laid off a nice chunk of their staff.  (I certainly hope he feels a
little guilty)... AT&T to sell of their investment in DirecTV, because,
well, it's just not making any money... Mecklermedia, which can't make any
money online, is making money from all the trade shows they hold where
everyone argues over how to make money online... Microsoft creates free,
family friendly, gaming site (what, no Tomb Raider?)... DejaNews, the
archiver of newsgroups, adds international content, so now you can read
spam in many different languages, as they also announced this week that 2/3
of the messages they archive are spam... HP cuts prices on PCs (can I go a
week without reporting something like this?)... Of course, they can afford
to do so: sales jumped 80% this quarter... Computer industry introduces
"voluntary" privacy self-guidelines ("voluntary" in that if they didn't,
folks in Washington DC would do it for them)... Adobe to push XML (good for
them)... Microsoft to have XML support... AOL revamps.  No one but online
reporters care... Apple doing poorly... MCI upgrades backbone... Time
Warner finally realizes that nobody cares even the tiniest bit about
"Pathfinder" and may ditch the concept altogether... Road Runner and
MediaOne to work together making quite a powerhouse in cable modems.  Now,
if only they could upgrade the 95% of cable systems that can't handle
two-way data, we might have something here... Intel expects the web will
drive demand for Pentium IIs by having "multimedia advertising".  No
offense, but I'm not about to pay for another computer just so I can catch
flashier ads on the web (especially if they include dancing fab workers...
Quake II released... Firefly has been mostly forgotten... Lucent buys 
another company.  This time it's Prominent, a gigabit ethernet company.  If 
I were in networking, I'd watch out for Lucent these days... Class action 
suit against E-Trade for "misrepresenting capacity" (can we counter-file 
for "relying solely on the web for your trading needs is obviously 
dumb")... 8 nations agree that they will fight "cyber-crime" (as if we 
expected them to say "nah, go ahead and commit all the crime you want out 
there in cyberspace)... Pointcast in yet another attempt to find a working 
business model will try to add a premium subscription service... Apple sold 
$12 million via its web site in its first month, while Dell is hitting $6 
million a *day*.  Nice try, Steve...

Could it be the beginning?  Ameritech is offering xDSL as well (of course
this is in conjunction with Microsoft, showing that MS is playing both
sides of the cable/copper fence)... NCI (Oracle's baby) to focus on set-top
boxes instead of network computers, as Larry Ellison swings back over to
consumer devices as per the original NC plan (isn't it amazing how well 
that pattern matches the press's opinion on "what's hot"?)... Dow Jones and 
NBC announce a global business television and Internet alliance... The SEC 
has had the assets of James Frith frozen for improperly using funds to 
promote Adbot making him a little less interested in his speech at Internet
World this week... Toshiba, which recently jumped out of, and then back 
into, desktop PCs, is now touting set top boxes and cable modems.  Make up 
your mind already... Qualcomm jumps into the free e-mail business... Network 
Associates, which last week was 3 separate companies, has added a fourth to 
the batch in the form of Helix Software.  I sense a software blackhole in 
the making... Sun surprised a few folks with its release of Activator plugin 
that turns IE 4.0 and Netscape 4.0 into tame, java compliant browsers.  
However, this doesn't solve all problems because to be really useful, the 
java code has to be in a plugin tag, making it only work for people who have 
Activator, creating a big hassle.  Write once, run, um, some places?... 
Microsoft's crossed signals.  COO Bob Herbold says Japan might be a problem 
while CEO Bill Gates says it's no problem at all.  Who would you believe?... 
Someone agreed to carry ZDTV... Cable modem makers agree to work together on 
a standard...

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
Scientists "recreated" the call of the duck-billed Parasaurolophus.  Um,
why?... For just $116 you can create a "memorial" site on the web for
someone who has passed away.  Good to see funeral companies expanding in
this new, digital age... This wonderful new pager from Motorola lets you
unlock your car doors or start a car from wherever you are... Boca Research
snubs all these infrastructure debates on new modem types and just puts two
lines together on one modem to double the speed...

According to NetRatings, 7 million households have purchased goods
online... Of course, CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research say that 10
million people purchased goods online (could this be the difference between
households and people, or should we just not trust these studies?)...
Gartner Group suggests that due to incompatibilities between browsers
nearly 30% of internet "glitz" goes "unseen"... Yahoo the most visited
website according to RelevantKnowledge (followed distantly by Netscape,
Microsoft, Excite, and AOL)... Thanks to Reuters for providing stats on
what keeps me doing this: 53% of business people "crave" information.
Reuters Calls them "dataholics", because they apparently get a "high" as 
they search for info online (anyone need a fix of tech-info?)... Simmons 
Market Research has discovered that the median income of internet 
households to be double their unwired counterparts... A study by Odyssey 
shows that most PC consumers want the most powerful machine, and not the 
cheapest.  Of course, the market data seems to refute that, but we'll see 
how it all shakes out... Forrester Research, being positively pointless, 
announced that the internet will become more useful next year... Nielsen 
says 58 million people are now online... The Internet Advertising Bureau, 
which seems to only report good news about online advertising, says that 
70% of web advertising inventory has been sold and strong demand is 
expected over the next year...

Okay, so Microsoft can't force Internet Explorer to be included with
Windows.  How long will it be before it's included with Microsoft Office,
which is almost becoming required application software?... Here's a
conditional one: if Encanto Network's ego software (for creating very easy
e-commerce sites for small businesses) takes off, we'll begin to see broken
shells of "ego-ized" e-commerce attempts littering the net... RealNetwork's
pay-per-listen and pay-per-view plans won't go very far.  I'm sorry, but if
pay-per-view television can't even make ends meet, I have trouble believing
that choppy 12 frames per second, with occasional buffering problems, all
on a 1.5 inch screen is going to have many people pulling out their wallets...

Memes o' the week:
Internet backlash (of course).  People stated that Internet World "just
wasn't exciting" this year, because the internet is losing its glamour
status... Nathan Myhrvold as the "friendly" Microsoft executive... The
argument over Oracle's problems: is it that Larry's just a goon when it
comes to running a company, or that there really is trouble in Asia?...

Too much free time:
Okay, this one is really fun.  I, personally, spent hours playing with it.
Go to: and hit "reload".  Each time you do,
you see what other people are searching for on Yahoo!  Quite entertaining,
actually.  What I discovered is that people really do search for porn (a
lot).  Also, it's amazing at how badly most people spell...

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.  And, of course, my comments may not accurately reflect reality.

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