August 30 – September 6, 1999

from the Up-To-Date dept

Hotmail holes, the tagline contest (still going!), Office applications on the web (both real and vapor), as well as the usual crew of mergers, quotes, and simple silliness.

Click below for this week’s Up-To-Date newsletter…

				The not always serious, 
				not always weekly update
				on the High-Tech Industry
				August 30th - September 6th, 1999 
		Reading all your Hotmail accounts for fun and for profit

Techdirt on the Web
The Techdirt tagline (or as someone suggested, perhaps it should be an
"anti" tagline) contest is still going.  Details at:

This week's Techdirt Poll:  If the Hotmail hole that gave everyone access
to anyone's Hotmail email account were still open, whose email would you
read first?

The latest and greatest, Friends of the Revolution column (guest written)
all about buying from websites you don't know about:

And, as always, there's plenty more stuff at
updated most every weekday.

Say that again...
"Game shows are the killer app of interactive television."
- Andy Kaplan, Columbia TriStar Television Group, executive VP.  This
assumes that folks want interactive TV in the first place... something
that's never really been proven.

"There are no great places for guys on the Web."
- Steven Kotok, Maxim Magazine.

"We are going to do fewer things very well."
- Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Pres.  Okay, okay, this one depends on how you
parse it, but it's got potential to be very funny.

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
No IPOs?  Wow... raised over $30 million to be a "me too"
site... eMachines files to go public, and all of a sudden the press doesn't
think too highly of them... Iridium's CFO quits (not really much for him to
do, eh?)... iVillage buys up Intel buys NetBoost for its
networking business... Global Crossing trying to salvage merger with
Frontier... ICO Global files for Chapter 11 (showing solidarity with
Iridium?)... More execs and directors at should have read the
insider trading rules a little more carefully... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Okay, folks, where were my rumors this week?  Very slow.  I guess everyone
in the rumor business was on vacation... Nortel to buy Newbridge... Viacom
and CBS to merge?... 

News you should have read elsewhere
Well, I hope all you little devious folks out there had enough time Monday
morning to read all your friends, enemies, and relatives' Hotmail accounts,
as it seems we all had a good many hours when the system was open for
all... Sun finally got around to announcing that they really (now,
seriously) were buying Star Division, and everyone went crazy about it...
IBM and Cisco and lots and lots of money... Okay, so Apple unveiled the
Power Mac G4 and, yeah, sure, it's nice and everything, but it's not like
it's solving world hunger or anything.  Would you folks get over it
already?  It's just another nice machine, but it ain't as great as all the
slobber it seems to be getting... Yes, yes, we know that Rick Belluzzo is
going to Microsoft, but no one has explained exactly *why* just yet...
Microsoft's "back door" for the NSA (no, no, really, that's not what it
really is)...  

News you could do without
Mir is now empty and its last crew warns that there's a fairly good chance
the damn thing will spin out of control now (as if it never did before)...
eBay launches auto section... Ziff-Davis apparently can't find anyone to
buy them outright and is going for the sell off the pieces method, starting
with their market research group, which is going to Harte-Hanks... eBay
creates a site for AOL'ers who are too stupid to just go to eBay... Oracle
loses yet another vice president to a startup (just how many VPs do they
have there anyway?)... What is it with you Brits?  Now the BBC is giving
away free internet access... Presidential campaign web sites not up to
speed on privacy policies... Mindspring to spend $50 million on advertising
campaign "You'd be happier using Mindspring" (they can't really be serious,
can they?)... Fortune's young rich list chock full of internet folks...
Steve Ballmer apparently can't pass up the chance to pitch vapor ware, and
claims that Microsoft will come out with web based copies of Office in
response to Sun's Star Division purchase... MCI admits that maybe (just
maybe?) they handled last months network outage poorly... 

Microsoft plans to relaunch MSN in Europe (oh, now there's a winning
idea)... Andersen Consulting is going to launch an upscale portal site
(yes, this makes no sense whatsoever - but those Andersen folks are
supposed to be really really smart, according to their advertisements)...
What sort of idiotic company would try to charge for instant messaging
software when AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and others have been giving away theirs
for free?  Apparently Abbott Systems thinks there really are a bunch of
suckers out there... Express Scripts basically bought into
this week, and gave up their own online pharmacy plans (this is a pretty
big deal, but most folks seemed to have missed that)... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy to take part in interactive TV trials through
WebTV (don't get me started)... Slate TV... eBay kidney auction (did anyone
believe that damn thing was real in the first place, besides the gullible
press?)... PrivacyX being about as secure as Hotmail on a good day... An
ISP pissed off that one of its customers isn't paying the bills, points
their domain to a porn site... You can now pay Macy's for some software to
create a 3D electronic model of yourself and see how you might look in
clothes.  Ah, paying them so they can make you buy more - that makes
sense... PeopleSoft for Palm devices... 

According to Zona, more and more corporate web sites are now the
responsibility of the marketing department over the information technology
department... The folks over at Jupiter tested the response rates to
customer service requests at online brokerages and found that most have a
terrible time actually responding (they're all too busy day trading,
apparently)... Harris Interactive jumps into the game (welcome!) and
predicts over $9 billion in online purchases this holiday season... This is
a surprise?  Most software sold at online auctions is pirated... 

So much talk this week of electronic books, and the one conclusion: no one
really likes them... When is the birthday of the internet and does anyone
really (no, really!) care?... eCompanies gets a ton of money from good old
friends (hey, folks, don't you get it?  It's just another internet
incubator)... Priceline Mortgages... Have we all been worrying too much
about Y2K when we should be worrying about 9-9-99?  I guess we find out
this week if civilization ends... Quixtar, Amway, and simply having no clue
about the web... 

The phone call price war is just beginning.  AT&T announced their 7 cents a
minute, 24 hours a day plan, and just a few days later IDT comes back with
a 5 cents a minute, 24 hours a day plan.  I like this sort of thing...
FatBrain's eMatter concept of letting folks publish their own writings, and
thinking it'll do for authors what MP3 did for musicians is ridiculous.
The web already lets anyone publish, folks.  They didn't need FatBrain to
help them with that... 

Too much free time:
It scares me more than a little bit to know that someone has put so much
time and effort into writing up the rules of "Shotgun", and even purchasing
the domain for it:

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.

If you would like to subscribe to the email version please send an email to with "Subscribe Up-To-Date" in the subject heading. 
Up To Date is also available on the web at 

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