April 19 – 25, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Consistently not a “shadowy group of hackers”

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the Hi-Tech Industry
April 19th - April 25th, 1998
Consistently not a "shadowy group of hackers"

Okay, that's for the folks who only read the very beginning of my messages.  As some of you know already, I've been in the process of moving my archive off of the CJS servers and onto my own.  However, there's much more on the site as well.  There are plenty of articles, another newsletter, and even stories.

So, head to techdirt.com find out the real truth behind Up-To-Date, and why over the past two weeks I've been receiving an insane number of subscription requests and/or hate mail (mostly from the UK - so you can blame or thank http://www.ntk.net - your choice)...

Also available through techdirt.com is Backstage, an email discussion group.  It is a hive-mind, virtual think-tank to discuss ideas related to business in the high tech world.  Feel free to read more about it (and to join the group) at: https://www.techdirt.com/diner/huh.html

Techdirt.com is also accepting article submissions.  The site is built on the belief that great ideas are born out of the continued discussion (and dissection) of new ideas and theories.  Therefore, any ideas or theories that you've been toying with in your head might make a great starting point for a great idea.  Write up a blurb and send it to articles@techdirt.com.

A final note:  In the past month I've received a rather large number of emails or comments stating something to the effect of "Hey, Mike, should we really invest the way you suggest?".  Let me perfectly clear:  This newsletter is *not*, under any circumstance, intended as investment advice.  I am not an investment analyst (nor should I be).  I certainly don't use the information in the newsletter to invest, and neither should you.  If I knew how valid my predictions or comments would be, I probably wouldn't be telling all of you for free - even if my very first prediction (that CNet's Snap! would undergo a major redesign) just came true this week... Just wanted to get that out of the way before I get sued.

On to the stuff that you expected to read when you opened this email:

Say that again...
"I would probably not do anything different than Microsoft. He's doing exactly what he should be doing, managing the company as aggressively and animalistically as the law will let him."
- Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun, when asked how he would run Microsoft, in TechWeb

"Every time you get a dialogue box you can't understand, you ought to get a nickel from Microsoft."
- Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland Professor who does research on making computers easier to use, in Nando.net.

"We are not as paranoid as we should be, but we are seriously careful."
- Neil Trevett, VP of Marketing for 3Dlabs on how the company protects its data in ZDNet.

"It was like a visit by Don Corleone.  I expected to find a bloody computer monitor in my bed the next day."
- Marc Andreessen, of Netscape, on his recollections of meeting with Microsoft in 1995 and their offer to carve up the browser market, in Educom.

How Business on the Internet Works
The folks who created the Electric Monk did a pretty good job.  They built a nice search engine that would attempt to answer questions posed in normal English, rather than just search for keywords.  Wired put up an article about it last week, and I checked the site out (http://www.electricmonk.com/ ).  It worked extremely well.  In fact, I went back a few days later to use it.  However, the site was down as AltaVista started blocking all requests from it.  Turns out the engine simply went and used AltaVista to create its results, but never received permission.  Of course, AltaVista could have realized that this just brings more publicity to them, but they didn't.  In fact, the creators of the Electric Monk had told AltaVista about it last December, and AltaVista ignored them.  After trying to find out what happened, people at AltaVista even told them that they couldn't mention AltaVista on their site (they had an explanation on their site that they were out of business because AltaVista was blocking them).  The other part of the story, which suggests AltaVista might be wielding its power a little too strongly, is that all links to the Electric Monk were removed from the AltaVista database following this event.  Just how much power do these search engines have?  By the way, I just checked the site to see if it was back up, and it is, with a huge "Lycos" logo on the site.  Seems to be that AltaVista just blew their chance to add a very useful feature to their site...

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
Now that the Red Herring reports that analysts are purposely keeping their estimates low in order to keep the bull market going, here are this week's earnings reports... AT&T just barely beats earnings estimates... IBM just barely beats earnings estimates... Microsoft just barely beats earnings estimates... PeopleSoft just barely beat earnings estimates... WorldCom just barely beats earnings estimates (you know this gets boring after a point)... Xerox just barely beats earnings estimates... Xilinx just barely beats earnings estimates... Symantec just barely beats earnings estimates... Borland just barely beats earnings estimates (okay, maybe the Herring has a point)... Network Associates beats estimates... Qualcomm blew away earnings estimates... Gateway 2000 beats estimates... Lucent beats estimates... Check Point Software blew away estimates... Mindspring beats estimates... Citrix beats estimates... In the ever popular "we've increased revenue, but we're still losing money" category, are: Spyglass, OnSale, RealNetworks, CNet, PSINet, DoubleClick, Infoseek and USWeb... SGI reports 3rd Quarter loss... National Semi to lay off 1,400 people, and to buy ComCore Semiconductor... Sybase losing a lot more money than expected... Baan's net income dropped 81% (ouch), while SAP's income jumped... MIPS has filed for their IPO... Meanwhile, SGI has also decided to sell off Cosmo... Microsoft invests $7.5 million in an Israeli venture capital fund... CMGI's stock shot up after announcing a split... Computer Associates pre-announced earnings for the quarter to dispel "erroneous rumors".  The earnings beat the analysts' expectations... Microsoft, also, by the way, announced that next quarter's earnings will be "flat"... Compaq institutes stock repurchase plan... AMD has reached a settlement in the class action suit against it that will cost them $11.5 million... Verisign reports a loss, but at the expected amount... Big reorg at Sun turns Operating Companies into Divisions...

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Nintendo is carefully watching the set top box industry and making quiet deals in order to enter it at the right time... Infoseek to announce a big deal with Netscape... AMD looking to sell itself in 3 parts: K6 goes to IBM, networking is spun off into its own company, and logic will be sold to 3Com...

News you could do without
Doing its best imitation of a yo-yo, Ciena was back in good graces this week after inking a deal with Cisco... The FTC (as if it doesn't have enough on its hands?) is investigating Autodesk for its business practices (what business practices?)... AT&T to spend many millions to improve their Internet backbone (could Qwest have put the fear of IP into them?)... CNet finally rolls out its investor site as they realize that "more than half" of their users invest (somehow I get the feeling that CNet just hired a marketing type fresh out of B-school to come up with that one)... NBC Interactive has decided to do video on demand over its web-site... Companies in Silicon Valley attempted (and failed) to push for legislation limiting their liability for Y2K problems as long as they made a "good faith effort" to fix problems... Possible legislation in the Netherlands to force ISPs to monitor users' traffic (wonder how long that would last)... Meanwhile, a US District Judge has ruled that ISPs cannot be held liable for content that people post through their services... More reports of crackers breaking into the Department of Defense and NASA (brilliant news reports referred to "a shadowy group of computer hackers" - ooh, scary)... The Air Force is converting many of its command and control systems to NT from UNIX (*add your own snide comment here*)... Juno is closing offices and laying off staff (answering at least part of the "and just how are they making money again?" question)... Yahoo! makes a deal with ZDnet to provide computer news for Yahoo! computers... MS considering not including Java support in its minimal download of IE5.0.  The predicted effects of this have been mixed: some have said it will kill Java, while others think it will benefit Java by keeping MS from creating its own standard for the Java VM... CyberShop and Excite in a marketing deal for upscale goods... Cyberian Outpost will now allow software purchases to be delivered over the web... WorldGate offers Internet access over cable in St. Louis... Intel execs argue that the latest slowdown is "temporary"... Sun has shipped its Java plug-in that upgrades your browser to make it Java-compliant... Cendant names a new CFO (good thing, eh?)... Windows 98 doesn't seem to have any major changes (of course, we all know that the blue screen of death is still there)... Netscape CEO continues to sound painfully optimistic in saying that Windows 98 won't effect Netscape's browser market share... The FCC fines the Fletcher Cos. $5 million for slamming... Netscape jumps on the free email bandwagon... US government approves the Intel-Digital deal, but requires Digital to license Alpha to AMD... A bug found in IE4.0 that lets an applet "white-out" the desktop (MS's temporary solution: "press ctrl-alt-del")... First Virtual is in money trouble, and is trying to both reinvent itself *and* sell the company at the same time (I wish them plenty of virtual luck)... Microsoft apparently attempted to collude with Netscape and "carve up" the browser market between the two (MS, of course, denies all this)... A new book by Pam Edstrom's daughter purports to tell the "truth" about Microsoft... Twelve states will not allow shipments of Windows 98 until their class-action suits have been settled... Lloyds of London insures against malicious hackers and viruses... Sun Microsystems is suing the Sun Coast Media Group (publisher of the Sun Herald newspaper in Florida) for using the domain sunline.com... Marc Andreessen predicts a "big" year for free software (as if he's going to say anything else)...

MCI has charged NetStat.net with harming its reputation by reporting "misleading" info about lost packets.  All well and good, but who really cares?  I would think MCI would be better suited spending their time dealing with the irate customers caused by their recent rate increase... USWest to offer VDSL which will include TV and Internet access using xDSL technology (the "take that!" strategy to fighting off cable companies)... GTE accidentally publishes 50,000 "unlisted" numbers to telemarketers.  Customers are "pissed off".  GTE now faces fines of $30,000 per customers (do the math) but is trying to placate customers by giving them a new unlisted number free for one year and a "small" refund... WavePhore was busy this week announcing deals with Bloomberg to deliver financial news and with 7th Level causing a bunch of suckers to buy 7th Level stock (sending it up over 400%!)... Intuit announces it will no longer make Quicken for Macs.  However, Steve Jobs ominously suggested they would be back... Intel and IBM, both of whom have previously announced disdain for the network computer, will now work together on making the Java OS for network computers on Intel processors... Vanderbilt Professor Donna Hoffman, who recently published a paper showing that there is a racial gap in Internet usage due to economic differences, has been receiving hate mail... Microsoft COO Bob Herbold running for a seat on the anti-Microsoft SPA Board... Kao has decided to stop producing floppy disks... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
Brian Wilson's new song will be delivered to radio stations over the Internet... The 12-year-old who owned pokey.org is allowed to keep the domain name after being sued for trademark infringement.  Apparently, the creator of Gumby and Pokey wasn't happy to find out the company that owned the trademarks was bullying this poor kid, whose site had nothing to do with the cartoon character... Automatic Teller Machines in the UK to use eye recognition to do away with PINs... The British Library is unveiling new software that lets you "turn pages" as you view books online, in order to keep the look and feel of books (there's a winning product)... If you haven't yet seen the new CIA web page for kids, it's really worth taking a look at.  By the way, this was in response to the President's request for Federal agencies to put more educational material online:  http://www.odci.gov/cia/kids/ ... Netline Technologies has created a product that will automatically block calls to cellular phones in certain areas, such as movie theaters and university lecture halls... IBM and *Rubbermaid* (!!) to create "toddler proof" PCs... Koko the Gorilla to chat on AOL using sign language... It turns out the onboard car computers in Eagle Talons, Mitsubishi Eclipses, and Galant VR4's from 1990 to 1994 are not Y2K compliant (New Years 2000 might be a good time to take the other car)... 

AOL.com was the most popular web site accessed from home, according to Media Metrix (possibly because AOL users haven't figured out how to change their default home page?).  Yahoo! was second, but came in first at work (where AOL was third).  Other popular sites at home: Netscape, Microsoft and Geocities.  At work: Netscape, Microsoft, and Excite... I bet you couldn't have guessed this one: according to briefing.com most of the users of business, stock news, and market analysis web sites are rich males... According to CRN, the top ten spenders in high tech R&D spent 18% more last year than the year before... A survey on CNet found 67% of respondents felt that the US government should leave Microsoft alone (anyone think Pam Edstrom and crew got some people to vote on MS's behalf?)... Dataquest predicts world semiconductor demand to increase (though at a slower rate than in the past)... 

Windows 98 crashing during Bill Gates talk at Comdex.  Okay, so it was funny for a second, but really it's just kind of sad.  Some have even suggested that it must have been staged...  The idea that "The Next Microsoft *is* Microsoft".  Whoever first said it was somewhat clever, but now too many people are using it and thinking they're clever... Dole and Bork join the anti-Microsoft side of the world... 

Salon has been "breaking" big (or semi-big) stories left and right.  I wouldn't be surprised to see folks start considering it a "respectable" online journalistic site (for example, there will be more stories about this "amazing" online magazine that *actually* reports well, as opposed to the Drudge Report)... 

Too much free time:
A site dedicated to cool "404 Not Found" pages.  I think I will have to use this for inspiration: http://www.cool404.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. Finally, an explicit warning about investing: I do not, under any circumstance, consider any piece of information in this newsletter "investment advice" and neither should you. 

To subscribe to Up-To-Date type your email address in the box below and press enter: 

Click here to return to the Up-To-Date index.  

Comments are always welcome! 

If you would like to discuss this article with others, feel free to go to the Diner, or to e-mail our discussion list, backstage.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...