March 1- 7, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Proud to announce that it has achieved Y2K compliance

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
March 1st - March 7th, 1998
Proud to announce that it has achieved Y2K compliance
A quick message... 
Up-To-Date may take a one week hiatus next week as I continue the search for the ever elusive job.  I feel it's somewhat rude to have friends and family put you up and then spend all your time on their computers with their Internet connections.  The other possibility may be an early "mini" issue, which will depend on (1) when I leave (2) how much news has happened (3) how late it is when it occurs to me to send out an early issue and (4) how many dishes are left in the sink that need to be cleaned before I can successfully leave town. 

Say that again... 
"There isn't an Internet company in the world that's going to fail because 
of mistakes -- Internet companies make thousands of mistakes every week." 
- Candice Carpenter, CEO of iVillage, showing keen business acumen, in Fast Company 

"Well, my goal is to be considered the most humble man of the new era. And if you have any suggestions on how I might achieve this, please email them to me right away." 
- Bill Gates, you know who he is, when asked by David Gergen at a 
conference what he sees his role in the next century to be... 

"The only thing I'd rather own than Windows is English or Chinese or 
Spanish, because then I could charge you a $249 right to speak English and I could charge you an upgrade fee when I add new letters like 'N' and 'T.'" 
- Scott McNealy, you should know who he is, during the Congressional hearings. 

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like 
Verio, a company that apparently likes secrets, has filed (quietly) for an 
IPO (watch this one - hype may be on the way)... A funny week on the 
Street.  Intel started the fun by pre-announcing "weaker-than-anticipated" 
demand, which made the stock drop 11%, and the whole market tank.  However, apparently, that was a mistake.  The next day, despite a similar warning by Motorola, the market shot way up.  Most recently Compaq pre-announced problems on Friday, but no one seems a bit worried about that.  Other companies to announce bad things included 3Com, AMD, and Texas Instruments. Yet, the market moves on... N2K has filed with the SEC to sell another 3.8 million shares (yeah, sell while the market's good)... Meanwhile, more high tech big names are selling stock.  Bill Gates and Paul Allen are both selling off Microsoft stock.  Steve Case recently sold off 15% of his holdings in AOL... Avant! announced that it will exceed the Street's estimates (though they didn't seem to mention anything about their legal problems)... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week... 
Canon, Sony, and Radius in "secret" talks to form a digital video 
partnership that would be a tough sucker to compete against... CMG is 
looking to unload a lot of its position (nearly 50%) in Lycos... Time New 
Media is looking to make a content deal with a search engine... Intel is in 
talks to takeover S3, the struggling graphics card maker that recently beat out Intel in an auction to buy Exponential's patents... 

Berating the obvious: (they call this news???) 
So, the big wigs testified in DC this week, and didn't really say anything 
different than expected.  Gates kept a child-like journal published in Slate, which made him come across as naïve and annoying... Microsoft caved a bit by changing their contracts with ISPs, allowing them to promote other browsers, in an attempt to appease the DOJ... IDT Corporation has decided to extend its five cents a minute rate for Net2Phone to the rest of the US (what're the big three gonna do now?)... CDNow selling CDs below the lowest advertised price pisses off music labels who can't do a thing about it (personally, I liked the quote of one person at PolyGram who tried to make a convincing argument that this was a "foolhardy" move.  Yeah, sure)... 27 states have joined the DOJ's case against Microsoft... A group of Computer Associates' own shareholders filed suit this week, as they were upset about plans to takeover Computer Sciences... CA, realizing that maybe it had taken on a wee bit too much this time, gave up on its bid... Europeans ask the US to be included in future Internet planning (that makes it sound so much more polite than in reality)... Catalog trade newsletter suggests that catalog companies "shouldn't expect to make money off the Internet"... Times Mirror Magazines bought up InterZine Productions, an online media company, as they realized they really didn't understand online marketing... Infoseek in content deal with Microsoft's Expedia (these content deals sure beat real work, yes?)... C-SPAN has decided to revamp its web site... Lots of NT based machines around the U.S. were hacked and shut down (including a bunch of machines here at Cornell - though that's not as exciting as the ones at NASA, the Navy and the Kennedy Space Center).  Of course, the two teen-aged hackers who were caught last week breaking in to the Pentagon's machines warned that this was coming in an interview on Monday (which no  one paid attention to)... TI sells all of its TI-Acer shares to Acer (got  that?)... Sybase blames its problems on the fact that everyone is spending money on Y2K compliance rather than its databases (I like that as a  "blame" strategy - I wonder if others will try it on for size?)...  Bloomberg announces a content deal with USA Today (damn, Bloomberg certainly doesn't step into these things lightly - this, being the third major online deal for Bloomberg this month)... Europe studying the  MCI/Worldcom deal for anti-trust problems... MSIE 5.0 to get rid of  Active Channels (did anyone ever use them anyway?)... G3 notebooks show up quietly... So even with the free umbrella give-away, Slate has only racked up 10,000 subscribers (half of its initial goal, and well short of making any economic sense whatsoever - can't say people didn't warn them)... Intel's brand name for its processor for low cost machines: Celeron (doesn't seem to have the same "oomph" as Pentium - but let's see what Intel's marketing team does with it)... AOL continues its war against "unsponsored" spam, as it increases the number of "interstitial" ads that appear when you first log on (pot calling the kettle... nah)... Sun decides that its vaporware Java station isn't getting it very far, and so decides to actually ship a product, maybe... Intel invests a nice sum in Discreet Logic as it continues its attempt to make Hollywood put Intel Inside... PeopleSoft releases version 7.5... SGI and Oracle agree to a bundling deal in an attempt to revive SGI... Palm Computing, the 3Com subsidiary has sued Microsoft for trademark infringement over its PalmPCs... As Netscape gets closer to giving away its source code, it begins to attach more and more strings to the deal... Microsoft and Intel announced a "migration assistance" program to wean people off of Unix... Pointcast to increase its content... OnCart, the online grocer, has given up... BigBook is looking to sell its yellow pages directory... Microsoft invests in WavePhore (these guys really do make sure they have a foot in *everything*, don't they?)... Meanwhile, MS is suing to have a German magazine, PC Welt, recalled for reporting on ways to illegally copy its products... Someone signs up the name "" and spams users telling them their "trial period" is up and to pay up for full service... And back on Mir where things have been relatively quiet the past few weeks, a space walk was cancelled after they couldn't get the door open.  They even broke three wrenches in the process of trying to open the door.  Later they found the "correct" wrench in an old pile of junk... 

No name PCs sold more than any branded ones... The Netly News isn't really going away, it will simply be "reborn" into something "more focused on the bottom line" (meaning they still don't understand Internet business models)... Seibel picked up Scopus for $460 million (a good deal, in my opinion, so long as they don't kill Scopus' potential)... DirecTV made deals with Bell Atlantic and SBC, which should keep it going for a little while longer... Since Umax isn't allowed to ship machines with the PowerPC 750, it's shipping the processor separately from the machine and allowing end users to do the final assembly (thinking out of the box?)... UPS to set up a new "secure" email delivery service... Now defunct PowerAgent charges EDS (its former partner) with extortion, fraud, and sabotage, among other nice things... Microsoft invests in General Magic (which still exists, though, apparently in a totally different form than the General Magic I remember)... Xerox picked up Intelligent Electronics for its XLConnect Solutions IT services group for a cool $415 million... Newton users protest Apple's decision to stop development with such wonderful slogans as "Newton is my pilot" and "I give a fig for the Newton".  Apple responds by leaving space for them in the parking lot, and buying the protestors off with food and drinks.  Friendly bunch, that... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology: 
Lockheed Martin has finished developing a system for "desktop warfare" that will allow "mission coordination" between central command and pilots' cockpits through desktop machines (sounds cool, but I certainly wouldn't want to be the pilot heading into hostile territory when the "blue screen of death" hits)... New digital cameras from Kodak include scripting features, which allow scripts on the flash memory (think of the possibilities)... Wal-Mart is now planning on offering Internet access through Earthlink to all Sam's Club members (as Earthlink continues to take over the world, while everyone's attention is focused on AOL)... Why didn't anyone think of this before?  A new technology from Data Matrix encodes a microscopic identifier on semiconductors to cut down on the market for stolen chips... N2K has announced plans to make personalized "my music pages" full of recommendations thanks to a deal with Net Perceptions... A new HDTV test in Dallas caused heart monitors at Baylor University Medical Center to shut down... RF-Link Technology has announced their wireless PC@TV system that allows an Internet connection on a PC to be displayed on a television elsewhere... 

Twenty four percent of all users of the web, shop online according to @plan... According to Media Metrix, eBay was the most visited auction site in January, as it continues to shoot for the dominant position once held by OnSale... The Computer Security Institute said that computer crime is getting "worse" this year, which 16% more reports over the last 12 months (seems like questionable statistics to me, but who am I?)... In five years, Internet telephony will be an $8 billion market, according to Killen and Associates... A study by J.D. Power and Associates has found that online car dealers find it to be a very cost-effective solution, costing much less than selling a car by ordinary means... According to a story in USA Today, a new study says that using a cellular phone in a car could disable anti-locking breaks or other electronic systems... A study from Lycos shows that people are more concerned about online privacy and security than pornography online... A study in Canada shows that 50% of respondents knew someone whose life was being "ruined" by too much computer use (interpret this however you want)... 

More on last week's bit about instant messaging services.  Now Yahoo! has jumped into the fray with its own service, as Hotmail gets set to announce its own instant messaging plans (thanks to Microsoft's purchase, I'm sure). Now, I'm beginning to think that instant messaging is going to be this year's "push".  You know, a lot of hype, but not much substance... With Intel's dire warnings this week, people have taken to asking me about Intel's future prospects (and more accurately if they should pick it up now that it's low again).  If I could tell you the answer to that (1) I wouldn't and (2) I'd be rich.  Instead, I'll tell you that I think Intel's future is dependent on being able to convince people to upgrade.  This, in turn, is dependent on software.  So, I'd keep an eye out for the functionality present in Windows 98 and NT 5.0 to see if those are going to really *need* more processing power, to get a guess on Intel's future potential (oh yeah, and take a few guesses on Merced's potential, among many of the other factors that will come to play).  Also, never count out Intel's ability to shift positions.  It's a damn nimble gorilla... 

Memes o' the week: 
The new business: patent enforcement.  Open Market received three broad patents concerning e-commerce this week, and are now hitting up just about every company that does any type of e-commerce for licenses... The end of the world as we know it on 1/1/2000 (or should that be 1/1/00).  People had been predicting that religious fanatics would whip up a millennium frenzy, but now it seems that computer folks are doing a pretty good job, themselves.  First there was mainframe guru Ed Yourdon's letter (which seemed to follow me around everywhere I went this week) which basically predicted the end of society.  Then the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said that there's no way the government's systems will be ready. The FAA also reported problems keeping on schedule.  As did the US Treasury.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, British banks announced that they could fix the Y2K problem, or get ready for a single Euro currency, but not both (and for the religious fanatics among us, this week also marked the 666th day before the millenium)... 

Too much free time: 
This, from a company that claims its "specialty is the inventive, above-average, unforgettable idea."  You make the call: 

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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