February 1 – 7, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Our verbal cream pies are loaded and ready to fire…

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
February 1st - February 7th, 1998
Our verbal cream pies are loaded and ready to fire...
Say that again... 
"The ever-growing size of software applications is what makes Moore's Law possible: If we hadn't brought your computer to its knees, why would you go out and buy a new one?" 
- Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft VP and kind uncle-like figure 

"Our new mission reflects our belief that there is limited shelf space online or on the Internet and that in order to compete in the content business, we needed to launch categories that target large consumer segments, not niche players." 
- An AOL spokesperson, demonstrating just how much they misunderstand the Internet. 

"For me, the best thing about cyberpunk is that it taught me how to enjoy shopping malls, which used to terrify me. Now I just imagine the whole thing is two miles below the moon's surface, and that half the people's right-brains have been eaten by roboticized steel rats. And suddenly it's interesting again." 
- Rudy Rucker, well-known Sci-Fi author 

"Fundamentally, it's an instinct thing. CNET's reputation is that 'this is where it's at.' And that's the kind of company we want to be with." 
- Michael Bloomberg, CEO of Bloomberg explaining the thinking behind his deal with CNET, in Wired News 

"We can now focus our attention on making our C-Net branded services profitable and the company as a whole break even by the end of 1998." 
- Halsey Minor, CEO of CNET to shareholders, which makes me ask what their focus has been until now... 

We elect people like this? 
Congressional Representative James Traficant from Ohio apparently made a  speech this week in which he cited the case of a woman who, he claims,  got pregnant via email (what sort of protocol was she using?), as evidence  that the government needs to be stricter in its control of the Internet.   These are the people we have making rules over how we use this medium. 

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like 
VeriSign is the first of this year's over-enthusiastic super hi-tech IPOs, nearly doubling by the end of the first day... National Semiconductor warns that Asia is causing it problems (well at least they didn't blame it on the purchase of Cyrix)... Sprint's profits drop by over 20%... SportsLine USA recorded "record" revenue last quarter (which doesn't change the fact they also had "pretty big" losses)... Intel completed its swallowing of Chips and Technologies this week in an effort to give the FTC that much more evidence against them... Cisco did damn well, and the stock market seemed to take an extra day to realize it... CNET reported huge (well beyond expected) losses this quarter... Pixar reported great earnings... EDS reported good, expected, earnings... Qualcomm dropped like a stone after warning that quarter results would be weak and that they planned to layoff 700 temporary workers... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week... 
While we already reported here about rumors concerning the sale of Netscape two weeks ago, this week those rumors suddenly jumped beyond "interesting idea" to "front page news".  Rumors swirled about the sale of parts of Netscape to Oracle, Sun, IBM, and AOL.  While some of the deals do make some sense, one source did point out that in doing so, the acquiring company is simply asking to be beaten down by Microsoft... Sprint is actively searching for a major telecom "partner" (acquirer or acquiree)... The Intel-National Semi "special" agreement this week (of which most of the terms remained quite secret) included a number of clauses that give Cyrix the ability to at least pretend to be serious competition to protect Intel from anti-trust problems... Microsoft continues to deny any interest in purchasing any part of a telecom company.  You know what that means... Novell is looking for a buyer... More cable-internet mergers?  @Home and Road Runner are apparently in talks... Apple is thinking of scrapping Rhapsody (while they have been slowly marginalizing it, I doubt they'll scrap it altogether)... 

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???) 
Online elections in Costa Rica postponed as they're afraid the losing party will challenge the validity... 11 states and Orin Hatch (who, really, honestly, was not influenced by powerful constituents Novell and Caldera) begin questioning Microsoft's practices... Bill Gates "not worried at all" about DOJ case... ZDNet adds financial news (with the horrible URL of zdii.com)... Microsoft finally realizes what one should do with a first-page to draw users (i.e. make it useful) and creates "Microsoft Start"... Yahoo! adds comics (and dumb reporters complain that they only made a deal with the second largest distributor, United Media, to which everyone says "yeah, but they got Dilbert".)... President Clinton proposes more federal money to go to the Internet, as a judge suddenly realizes that using domain name funds may actually be illegal taxation... RSA to do cable encryption... PC sales in Japan drop for the first year in 5 years... CNet announces deals with Cyberian Outpost and Bloomberg as it continues to lose more money... Ticketmaster making an average of $5 million per month in web-based ticket sales... People like online classifieds better than print ones (well... duh)...  European online shopping a "flop" - "poor web site design" blamed... Europeans "not really happy" about this US Gov't domain name plan (perhaps that's because the plan leaves them out of the picture)... Everyone (of course) lowered PC prices this week... Corel adds voice recognition to WordPerfect (which, apparently, still exists)... The White House is, indeed, pissed off at the porn site using its name, and "likeness" of the first couple used as a "marketing device"... CNET has an "exclusive" report saying that maybe there really isn't a high-tech labor shortage (of course everyone else in the world, including me, printed that story weeks ago)... Intel's Slot 2 is demonstrated as is the 450-MHz Pentium II... PeopleSoft gets huge contracts with Boeing and GM... Another class action lawsuit against AOL for their famous "busy-signal"... AOL has  also announced plans to reorganize and shift "focus"... In the "asking for  trouble" department, Microsoft combines its browser and OS division  (shouldn't that have been done a long time ago?)... 56K modem standard really (really!) here... Michael Dell says Compaq/Digital merger, "no big  deal"... The system used for years to provide security to prisons and  certain areas of airports has a huge security flaw that is easy to exploit... The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against a library in Virginia that has put filtering software on their Internet access computers... DirectTV's PCTV delayed... And, of course, the Mir space station, like clockwork, "briefly" went adrift when a wrong number was input into a computer... 

A cream pie was thrown into Bill Gates face.  For anyone who missed it,  a picture (and it really is worth keeping) is available at: 
http://cnn.com/TECH/computing/9802/04/belgium.gates.ap/index.html ... As was predicted last week, Alpha released its 21264 chip with the potential to hit the GHz range (1,000MHz), and we were then caught off-guard when IBM said, "Yeah, we've got one of those, too"... Apple decided to drop all of their retailers except for CompUSA, who is still stuck in that contract to give up their valuable floor space... Dell hires former Intel Senior VP... A U.S. Appellate Court suspended the use of "special master" (still a term that gives me the willies) in the DOJ-Microsoft case... Lycos shells out $58 million for Tripod, that annoying twenty-something place that always sounded better than it was.  (Still, from a "potential" view, I think it's a good deal and signals a realization on the part of Lycos of what it takes to be a dominant new media player)... How quickly they turn.  The Software Publishers Association, which recently had been taking flak for being Microsoft's lackey, publishes an anti-Microsoft report, taking flak from pro-MS folks (some of whom dropped out of the Association)... Netscape has decided to only sell to large companies.  Others need to go through resellers... Okay, for over a year now, I've been telling anyone who cares that S3 was going to be in trouble because Intel would eat its business right out from under them.  What I didn't expect was S3 going out and buying Exponential Technology's microprocessor patents (which have potential to create pain for Merced) as a tool to hold over Intel's head (of course Intel *did* release some 3D stuff this week).  I'm very curious to see what S3 does with those patents... The Argentine Supreme Court has ruled that copying software is not a criminal offense... Sanford Wallace apparently *apologized* for all the spam and problems he's caused (though many doubt his sincerity - personally, I think he maybe just got sick of reading through all the get-rich-quick and porn advertisements in his own email)... Bill Gates has announced he is going to use DNS to mean "Digital Nervous System", ignoring the standard usage of that acronym in the field to mean Domain Name Server, but whatever.  He's Bill Gates.  He can do whatever he wants... Someone has purchased over a million dollars worth  of merchandise from online auctioneer, OnSale... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology: 
Narrative Communications Corp. has created a technology that lets you do e-commerce via an online banner ad, so that you never need to leave the original site... In Finland, apparently, you can now go to a car wash, drive into the booth, call a number on your cell phone and the wash will start automatically. You are automatically billed by either on your phone bill or credit card bill... Girl Scout cookies sold over the web... Los Alamos National Lab has created a fuel cell for cell phones (so soon you may be filling up your cell phone with gas, while you charge up your electric car)... Jon Postel, head of the Internet Assigned Numbering Authority briefly "moved" or "hijacked" (depending on who you're asking) the Internet, by redirecting nearly half of the root servers away from the main root, and to his own machines at USC.  He claims it was just a test, and it's no big deal anyway since he fixed it all up right away.  Others are less pleased... Intel and Mattel announced plans to create an interactive Barbie doll (so now we have wired Barneys and Barbies... what's next?  Legos?)... The visual thesaurus: it's both oddly addictive and oddly disturbing (http://www.plumbdesign.com/thesaurus/ )... 

The Dohring Co. Inc. released a survey this week stating that people are more willing than ever to buy a car over the Internet... Relevant Knowledge has stated that the number of users on the web has increased 25% since August... MSNBC is the most popular news website according to Media Matrix, with cnn.com and USAToday.com getting the second and third spots... Forrester and Jupiter each come out with studies on the online classified markets, predicting markets of $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, within 5 years... Microsoft IE has a larger market share than Netscape in Japan according to Dataquest... According to IntelliQuest Information Group, more people are going to ISPs to get online rather than full online services, like AOL... Of course, according to the Strategis Group, about 10% of online subscribers change accounts every month to get better deals... 

Finally, an HTML-email standard will arise and soon people will be sending all sorts of annoying emails with embedded pictures and whatnot... CompUSA will begin looking for ways out of the Apple "store-within-a-store" deal... AOL has announced plans to "revitalize" CompuServe.  Somehow, I think that's a code-word for "fire many people" and slowly bring CompuServe users into the AOL fold... More sites are going to test and fail to make subscription sites work (CondeNet and its phys.com being the latest to test the waters)... 

Memes o' the week: 
"Death of [fill in the blank]".  First Bob Cringely says that "Unix is Dead" and then Jesse Berst says, "traditional media is dead".  It certainly makes a nice sound bite, but is it true?  No, of course not, but why let that stop you?... Commerce drives Internet technology forward.  Internet2, which was originally designed for "research purposes", now says their "major focus" is commercial applications (read that to mean they are in money trouble)... 

Too much free time: 
No, I didn't believe it at first either.  A web page that gives you all the latest news in *haiku*.  Brings new meaning to the idea of having way too much time on one's hands: http://www.coolwebsite.com/

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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