August 24 – 30, 1998

from the Up-To-Date dept

Making people more lonely & depressed

The not always serious, 
not always weekly update
on the High-Tech Industry
August 24th - August 30th, 1998
Making people more lonely & depressed
A quick note for the litigious
Over the past six months (even during the hiatus) I've noticed that more and more people who subscribe to Up-To-Date work for companies that I have made fun of.  One such reader later unsubscribed in disgust.  While I would prefer that those readers attempt to convince me why I am wrong, rather than unsub, I appreciate that much better than contacting your legal departments.

I write this newsletter on a (usual) weekly basis for fun.  I have very little influence.  Trust me, my comments are not causing your stock options to be worth any less.  If I make fun of your company for something you feel it doesn't deserve, please explain to me my mistake, and I will make a correction if I agree with you.  I am very open to discussion on issues I put forth in the newsletter.  If you feel I am wrong, let me know and I?ll discuss it with you.  I have no desire, time, or energy to go up against the legal department of any company that dislikes what I say.


Say that again...
"Instead of continuing to whine, I would suggest that Mr. Beussink suck it up, take his punishment like a man, get back to school, and start behaving like he should in the classroom."
- Kenneth McManaman, lawyer for the school district in Missouri that is being sued for suspending a student over a website he posted complaining about the school's teachers and administrators.

"If the two of them don't find a way to work together, they're going to fail separately."
- Rob Enderle of Giga Information Group, talking about Adobe and Quark.

"If patents worked for manufacturers, surely they will work for the information economy."
- Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley law professor, on these new internet business model patents, simplifying things to the point of stupidity

Apparently, Jason Kelly has written a book called "Y2K: It's Already Too Late" which is a fictionalized account of the absolute worst case scenario of Y2K disasters.  I can easily see some of the doomsayers using this as further ammo.  In the next six months, I fully expect to hear folks quote stories from the book, as if they were written by an expert who guarantees the disasters in question will happen... Meanwhile, Wendy Goldman Rohm has written a book called "The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates" where she admits to making up quotes and events to make the story "more readable" (even I wouldn't do that!)... 

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
Cyberguard discovers accounting "irregularities" (read: "lies") and suspends its CEO and CFO... Allaire files to go public... Applied Materials to cut 15% of its workforce... files to go public... Intuit beats estimates... Xoom, probably one of the most highly trafficked sites that few people know about, has filed to go public... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Professor Kevin Warwick, who got lots of press this week for having a computer chip implanted into his body, is really a fraud... AT&T ditched its plans to test Ciena equipment to try to break up the Tellabs/Ciena merger, hoping to protect Lucent... Netscape and Excite each accounted for the two year deal between the companies differently... Earthweb's IPO to be available to an "e-syndicate" through Suretrade (or course, I stick by the assessment that if I can get it on an IPO, I don't want to be in on it)... Microsoft tried to buy LookSmart, who turned down the offer (in five years should we expect the "crush LookSmart" emails to be turned over to the DOJ in their latest anti-trust case?)... Zip2 has cancelled all of its advertising and sponsorships.  Probably not a good sign... CNBC looking to buy 

News you could do without
More RBOC strikes... Lucent steps in with its own speech recognition software... Stampmaster vs. eStamp... Cliff Stoll criticizes computers in schools (this man needs to learn to complain a bit less and help a little more)... Oracle releases its App Server, and everyone rushes around to define just what an App Server is... Javascript & Java security problems in web based email applications (how obvious was that one?)... There are more net radio stations than real radio stations (does this surprise anyone?)... Microsoft buys Valence Research to help with fault tolerance and load balancing in NT (well, at least they recognize that they have a problem)... Microsoft repositions MSN (again)... will now be webcasting a home shopping type of channel... Quickturn rejects Mentor Graphics takeover bid... Microsoft claims it "can't find" the important part of the MS-DOS source code they are required to turn over to Caldera (every time I try to like Microsoft one of these stories turns up)... Tripod redesigns to be (take a wild guess here) more like a portal... AOL gets to 13 million users (though it took them substantially longer to get this last million than the one before)... names former Citicorp president to be its new CEO... CNet has called on Saatchi & Saatchi to develop a brand for Snap! (throwing good money after bad?)... Bill Gates begins his deposition, where he is described as "evasive"... Tellabs doesn't actually cancel the merger with Ciena.  Instead they cut the price tag by a third... Steve Jobs blames ISPs for most of the iMac's problems connecting to the net (of course, it's Apple that chose to make the modems only compatible with v.90)... Net usage increased significantly the night of President Clinton's "apology" speech... Bug found in Microsoft Access... Ericsson is looking for a way to push cell phones into the hands of talkative teenagers (can't wait to see the ad blitz on this one)... NT4.0 has Y2K problems that no one noticed before... 

------------ changes their name to In a fairly cool move, Oracle has announced plans to lease programs and space on its servers to small businesses... Mecklermedia acquires CyberAtlas... Quark pulls a Zapata and tries to buy the much larger Adobe... Fore Systems buys Berkeley Networks... FoxMeyer, a drug distributor that went out of business in '96 sues SAP, saying its inventory-control system caused them to go out of business... Opera for BeOS... Different states are looking into a class-action suit against GeoCities for breaking its privacy policy... TNT made-for-TV movie called "Pirates of Silicon Valley" to star Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates... Lotus has pushed back the release of the Domino 5 Beta (not a good thing)... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
The World of Atari '98.  Does anything more need to be said?... MailPush jumps into the unified messaging business by letting you check your email from anywhere using a phone, fax or pager... ICG Netcom IP telephony allows calls as low as 5.9 cents a minute... Using spare cycles through the Internet to help in the search for extraterrestrial life... The new Pentax security camera that can email you photographs of your burglar... Bayan's and AOL will not renew their contract (where a large percentage of Switchboard's traffic comes from).  Banyan tries to play it off as a "good thing", but I don't think anyone was fooled... EA has released free demos of its latest Wing Commander game.  Of course, the demo included the recently dreaded win95.CIH virus... A new TV camera from Lucent allows users to watch tennis by viewing the whole court from the side... 

According to our friends at Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet, 25% of web users are shopping on the net.  Interestingly, 64% of shoppers and 71% of actual buyers are men... Almost 70% of web users have visited travel-related sites according to NPD Online Research... Only 6% of consumers are currently using online banking... A $1.5 million study by Carnegie Mellon, has found that the Internet makes people more lonely and depressed.  Though, another researcher commented on the user group, which was not randomly chosen, and all from Pittsburgh, by saying maybe the Internet just made them wonder what they were doing stuck in Pittsburgh... 

Auctions on the web, with the possible exception of eBay... The Win95.CIH virus... Microsoft pressuring Intel over Internet software... Royal's cheapo Pilot-alike device called the daVinci... Microsoft engineers toyed with the idea of disabling competitive products (2 thoughts: (1) what's the surprise?  This has been talked about at length before. (2) The real damning evidence is if they actually *did* this, rather than just toy with it.  I don't see anything wrong with thinking up the idea - implementing, however...)... 

This whole idea of patenting Internet business models has to go away.  CyberGold received a patent this week for paying consumers incentives to click... 

Too much free time:
Okay, so there are plenty of useless webcams out there, but what gets me about this one is how many visitors it's had on the counter.  What are people looking for?:

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. 

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