Rugged Geekism is the path to the information superhighway. Bill Gates is a geek. Geeks, n

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Rugged Geekism is the path to the information superhighway. Bill Gates is a geek. Geeks, nerds -- they're in." Consultant Frank Hoar (WSJ 1/28/94) ====================================================================== BBB III TTT SSS BBB Y Y TTT EEE SSS ONLINE EDITION: B B I T S B B Y Y T E S =THE ELECTRONIC BBB I T SSS AND BBB YYY T EEE SSS =NEWSLETTER FOR B B I T S B B Y T E S =INFORMATION BBB III T SSS BBB Y T EEE SSS =HUNTER-GATHERERS ====================================================================== Volume 2, Number 2 (February 28, 1994) ====================================================================== CONTENTS = SPECIAL SECTIONS: | On Reading Mondo 2000 = The Clipper Chip Controversy | The Online World = The Post Human Condition | New Products and Services = Focus on Business Issues | PDA News: The Newton Saga = | Future Tech = INTERNET 101: | The Kultchur Korner = Where to get answers about | Business Briefs = Internet basics; Internet | On the Newsstand = Magazines; | Bits and Bytes Bookshelf = ====================================================================== = See the ADMINISTRIVIA section for subscription and back issues info= ====================================================================== Special Section: The Clipper Chip Controversy ======================== EDITORIAL Welcome to another factoid-filled edition of Bits and Bytes Online Edition, the electronic newsletter for information hunter-gatherers, the last bastion of rugged geekism in the brave new age of (too much) information. My name is Jay Machado and I'll be your guide thru cyberspace as we roam the dense thickets of the emerging information infrastructure, which is already in progress. Indeed, there's a whole lot of shaking going on these days, and I don't mean in California, where extensive earthquake damage to the highway system may give telecommuting an opportunity to prove it's viability as an alternative to 4 hour (one way) commutes. No, I'm talking about Clipper. After several months of relative obscurity, the Clipper chip proposal has burst back onto the scene with renewed vigor. On January 4, 1994, the Clinton administration announced it's adoption of the Clipper Chip and the SKIPJACK encryption scheme as national standards. This system relies on a "key escrow" system with a built-in "back door" so that security agents can decrypt and monitor even supposedly "secure" communications. The administration claims that there will be safeguards to prevent abuse of the system. For one thing the two keys needed to unscramble a message will be held by two separate government agencies, and anyone wanting to tap into your communications will need to obtain both through proper channels. You can trust your friendly government man. Do you begin to see the subtle flaw in this argument? In the meantime, WIRED Magazine reports that federal security agencies have been meeting for some time with telecommunications companies to design back doors into the entire National Information Infrastructure (NII). The Clipper Chip will be installed directly into telecommunica- tions devices such as telephones, computers, and digital set-top boxes for interactive TV. Since the system can be used to encrypt any communications that pass across telecommunications lines (including text, sound and images), ANY AND ALL communication that passes through your system has the possibility of being intercepted. Any system connected to the NII would be required to include a "back door" in order to facilitate monitoring by government agencies. There's more going on than these brief paragraphs can hint at. Super- spooky spy-type agencies are getting VERY involved behind the scenes. The National Security Agency, who already monitor a great deal of the data flowing in and out of the US, for one. The government has seen the digital writing on the wall and they've realized that things are going to slip further out of their control unless they put in the technological fix NOW! Unsuspecting federal prisoners are having strange electrical devices implanted in their craniums even as we speak. I saw it on the X Files, it MUST be true!! Well, OK, probably not, but it doesn't hurt to keep your guard up. Opposition to the Clipper proposal has been swift and overwhelmingly negative. Here was an issue that everyone -- the cypherpunks, the business community, Big Business, and just plain folks -- could agree on. Even close allies like Canada and Britain said they were not willing to adopt Clipper. It seems nobody trusts our government with the keys to the cookie jar anymore. Imagine that. The folks at WIRED go on to say that: "These government initiatives, taken together, constitute one of the most grievous threats to our constitutional liberties in modern times. The security agencies and the administration are involved in a stealth strike at our freedoms that could effectively abrogate the Bill of Rights in cyberspace, where we and our descendants will be spending increasingly larger parts of lives." WIRED has set up an online Clipper Archive, accessible via gopher or WWW or by email. The organization Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is circulating a petition, which I am reprinting below along with instructions for adding your name to the petition. Those of you that feel the need for secure encryption with NO BACK DOORS are encouraged to seek out Pretty Good Privacy, a freeware program that provides just that. See the ACCESS area at the end of this section for contact information. ======================== William Safire on the Clipper Chip For those of you who might have missed it, William Safire published a very good essay on the Clipper proposal yesterday (February 14). We're providing some excerpts here and recommend the piece in its entirety. Well-meaning law and intelligence officials, vainly seeking to maintain their vanishing ability to eavesdrop, have come up with a scheme that endangers the personal freedom of every American. * * * The "clipper chip" -- aptly named, as it clips the wings of individual liberty -- would encode, for Federal perusal whenever a judge rubber-stamped a warrant, everything we say on a phone, everything we write on a computer, every order we give to a shopping network or bank or 800 or 900 number, every electronic note we leave our spouses or dictate to our personal-digit- assistant genies. Add to that stack of intimate data the medical information derived from the national "health security card" Mr. Clinton proposes we all carry. Combine it with the travel, shopping and credit data available from all our plastic cards, along with psychological and student test scores. Throw in the confidential tax returns, sealed divorce proceedings, welfare records, field investigations for job applications, raw files and C.I.A. dossiers available to the Feds, and you have the individual citizen standing naked to the nosy bureaucrat. * * * The only people tap-able by American agents would be honest Americans -- or those crooked Americans dopey enough to buy American equipment with the pre-compromised American code. Subsequent laws to mandate the F.B.I. bug in every transmitter would be as effective as today's laws banning radar detectors. * * * Cash in your clipper chips, wiretappers: you can't detect the crime wave of the future with those old earphones on. (SOURCE: CPSR Alert Volume 3.04, 12/15/94) ======================== Electronic Petition to Oppose Clipper Please Distribute Widely On January 24, many of the nation's leading experts in cryptography and computer security wrote President Clinton and asked him to withdraw the Clipper proposal. The public response to the letter has been extremely favorable, including coverage in the New York Times and numerous computer and security trade magazines. Many people have expressed interest in adding their names to the letter. In response to these requests, CPSR is organizing an Internet petition drive to oppose the Clipper proposal. We will deliver the signed petition to the White House, complete with the names of all the people who oppose Clipper. To sign on to the letter, send a message to: with the message "I oppose Clipper" (no quotes) You will receive a return message confirming your vote. Please distribute this announcement so that others may also express their opposition to the Clipper proposal. CPSR is a membership-based public interest organization. For membership information, please email For more information about Clipper, please consult the CPSR Internet Library - FTP/WAIS/Gopher CPSR.ORG /cpsr/privacy/crypto/clipper ======================== Here's the text of the petition: The President The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President: We are writing to you regarding the "Clipper" escrowed encryption proposal now under consideration by the White House. We wish to express our concern about this plan and similar technical standards that may be proposed for the nation's communications infrastructure. The current proposal was developed in secret by federal agencies primarily concerned about electronic surveillance, not privacy protection. Critical aspects of the plan remain classified and thus beyond public review. The private sector and the public have expressed nearly unanimous opposition to Clipper. In the formal request for comments conducted by the Department of Commerce last year, less than a handful of respondents supported the plan. Several hundred opposed it. If the plan goes forward, commercial firms that hope to develop new products will face extensive government obstacles. Cryptographers who wish to develop new privacy enhancing technologies will be discouraged. Citizens who anticipate that the progress of technology will enhance personal privacy will find their expectations unfulfilled. Some have proposed that Clipper be adopted on a voluntary basis and suggest that other technical approaches will remain viable. The government, however, exerts enormous influence in the marketplace, and the likelihood that competing standards would survive is small. Few in the user community believe that the proposal would be truly voluntary. The Clipper proposal should not be adopted. We believe that if this proposal and the associated standards go forward, even on a voluntary basis, privacy protection will be diminished, innovation will be slowed, government accountability will be lessened, and the openness necessary to ensure the successful development of the nation's communications infrastructure will be threatened. We respectfully ask the White House to withdraw the Clipper proposal. ======================== <<>> Clipper Chip and related files === WIRED Clipper Archives o WIRED Infobot e-mail server send e-mail to, containing the words "send clipper/index" on a single line inside the message body o WIRED Gopher gopher to select "Clipper Archive" o WIRED on World Wide Web select "Clipper Archive" o WIRED on America Online keyword: WIRED o WIRED on the WELL type "go wired" from any "OK" prompt type "clipper" to access the menu === Pretty Good Privacy is the latest version and can be FTP'd from: Location: /PC/Crypt Location: /pub/security/pgp23 Location: /pub/pgp Location: /pub/msdos/crypto Location: /pub/infosystems/pgp Location: /pub/unix/next/source/crypt Location: /pub/misc/pgp/2.3 Location: /comp/msdos/utils/pgp === PGPShell (a friendly front end to PGP) This program is archived as ftp to in /pc/crypt ftp to in /pub/msdos/security === Related Usenet Newsgroups alt.risks (discuss all aspects of the dangers of computers) (issues relating to the pgp program) (News from the Electronic Frontier Foundation) (The Computer Underground Digest) sci.crypt (discuss all aspects of encryption) talk.politics.crypto (Here's a place to get political about it) ====================================================================== THE ONLINE WORLD => NEW ONLINE SERVICES. Starting this fall, Ziff-Davis will offer the Interchange Online Network, carrying on-line versions of its publications -- including PC Magazine, PC Computing, PC Week, Mac User and Mac Week. The interface is said to be most impressive, with a Windows interface, photo-realistic images and a hypertext "shared data space". APPLE COMPUTER is set introduce their eWorld service in April, and MICROSOFT's rumored InfoServ service continues to be that -- a rumor. The word is on the street but MS isn't talking. News publisher KNIGHT-RIDDER and BELL ATLANTIC will introduce the Stargazer Service in 1995. Stargazer will deliver information via video and text over Bell Atlantic's networks, including movies, TV programs, interactive commercials and home shopping. Knight-Ridder will contribute news, entertainment and advertising to the service. The two are still ironing out the details. (SOURCES: St. Petersburg Times 1/31/94, Boardwatch, Investor's Business Daily 2/3/94) => HOLE IN THE CENTER. John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that one thing that is essential to community is some sense of physical proximity, and that a problem with network communities is that "all they've got is a shared interest, not a shared necessity"; he makes the point that it's easy to drop out of network discussion groups, but "not that easy for me to leave my little town in Wyoming. There, we have to learn to stick it out and make it work." He says that "if you look at the overall trend, not just in cyberspace but everywhere, it's toward globalization and localization. What seems to be coming apart is everything in the middle." (New York Times 12/26/93 p. F8) (E/P) => ONLINE MAGS MOSTLY TALK. Most publishers may not realize it yet, but online services won't become a repository for magazines until they provide access to back issues, computer programs, and other features, like text search and information-filtering front ends. According to one industry observer, people go on-line not read but to chat -- and that's why "there are more bars than libraries." (SOURCE: "Testing The Waters Online", Thomas Forbes. Folio, 12/1, p. 65) => TRAFFIC JAMS ON THE INFORMATION HIGHWAY? (Sorry, I couldn't help myself) America Online's president publicly apologized in a letter to AOL customers for the network's recent sluggish performance. He further promised the unusual step of postponing efforts to attract new customers. AOL's online population has doubled from 300,000 since last summer. ... On the Internet, increasing use of MOSAIC, a nifty graphical internet front-end was reported to be causing data traffic jams. ... In the February 94 issue of Boardwatch, editor Jack Rickard makes the bold prediction that by the end of 1994 there will be a SHORTAGE of BBS's and ONLINE SERVICES, even taking into account some of the new services coming online. Heads up, all you entrepreneurial types! (SOURCES: NYT, Boardwatch) ====================================================================== The Post Human Condition ======================== (Jeffrey Deitch) The issue of using genetic engineering to "improve" the fetus will potentially become much more highly charged than the controversy over abortion. It may not be an exaggeration to say that it will become the most difficult moral and social issue that the human species has ever faced. Genetic engineering is not just another life-enhancing technology like aviation or telecommunications. Its continued development and application may force us to redefine the parameters of life. ("Post Human," Adbusters Quarterly, Winter 1994, p. 21) => REALLY SMART CHIPS. Researchers are experimenting with electronic microchips that use living brain cells. The embryonic cells are placed on silicon or glass chips and induced to grow along desired paths. The scientists hope to encourage the brain cells to form connections, gaining insight into how neurons work. (WSJ 4/1/94, p. B7) ======================== (Claudia Springer) Cyberpunk fictions visions of the future extrapolate from our current cultural preoccupation with computers to create worlds where the computer metaphor for human existence has triumphed. When cyberpunk characters are surgically hardwired, jack into cyberspace, plug software programs directly into their brains, create computerized virtual bodies for themselves while their actual bodies decay, or abandon their bodies to exist inside the computer matrix, the boundary between human and computer is erased and the nature of the human psyche is redefined in accordance with the computer paradigm. Computers and human minds become thoroughly compatible because the differences between them have been effaced. ("Sex, Memories, Angry Women," The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 1993, p.720) => BRAIN SALAD SURGERY. Hippocampal neurons, the brain cells responsible for logic and memory functions, may become the computing platform of the future. The Naval Research Laboratory, National Institutes of Health, and others are cooperating in developing the science of bioelectronics to speed the integration of living brain cells -- currently donated by lab rodents -- with solid-state devices. These could outperform silicon-based computing chips, which are predicted to have no more cognitive capability by the end of the century than a chicken. (SOURCE: Clarence A. Robinson Jr, "Bioelectronics Computer Era Merges Organic, Solid State", Signal, February 1994, p. 15) ====================================================================== NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES: => PATENT DATABASE. PatentScan Plus is a set of 10 CD-ROMS with information on close to 2 million patents spanning the past 20 years. "This may be the most significant body of information ever published in electronic format." (WIRED) (ACCESS: PatentScan 617/576-5747) => THE SOUNDS OF WORK can now be purchased on a 90-minute cassette. This is ideal for one man offices or telecommuters who want callers to think they're working in a busy office. The tape, from Nextech, features the sounds of doors closing, phones ringing, typewriters clacking, drawers banging, and unintelligible voices droning in the background. (Atlanta Journal/Constitution 11/3/93 F2) (E/P) => MULTIMEDIA MODEM. AT&T Paradyne has developed a new modem capable of sending text or voice plus video images over the same phone line simultaneously. The DataPort 2001 uses a technology called VoiceSpan, which increases the capacity of existing phone lines by splitting a single line into two channels, one for audio and the other for high-speed data, such as images. (St. Petersburg Times 11/2/93 E1) (E/P) => COMMERCIAL ZAPPER. The Arthur D. Little consulting firm has developed the technology for a device that can detect and eliminate commercials; it finds a commercial by sensing blank frames and sound-level dips that precede and follow it. God bless Arthur C. Little. (SOURCE: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill Husted, 2/3/94, p. C2) (E/P) => CHANNEL-SURFER ZAPPER. Keep your eye out for Stop It!, a device designed to temporarily jam the remote control's infrared signal, rendering it inoperative. Couch Potato power politics may never be the same again. Since channel-surfing seems to be a male behavior, the idea of an equalizer appeals to some women. But how long before we see the device used as evidence in a murder case? The device should retail for about $30. The inventor's wife, who has been testing prototypes, says the best strategy is not to use it all the time. "It works better when there's an element of surprise." What possesed this man to invent this insidious device? (SOURCE: WSJ 11/24/93, p. B1) ====================================================================== "We know a former senior intelligence official who says, 'Give me $1 billion and 20 people and I'll shut America down. I'll shut down the Federal Reserve, all the ATMs; I'll desynchronize every computer in the country.' We are in fact going to see infoterrorism, not just hackers playing games." - Futurist Alvin Toffler, interviewed in Information Week 1/10/94, p. 10 ====================================================================== FOCUS ON BUSINESS ISSUES ================================== Stop Wasting Time! Let's get right to the point: About 280 hours a year, or some seven typical work weeks are wasted due to poor communication. That's the conclusion Office Team, a temporary-staffing firm in Menlo Park, Calif., arrived at after they asked 150 executives at large U.S. companies to estimate how much time was wasted in their companies each week because of crossed wires between staff and management. All the executives queried were VPs or higher, and included several IS managers. They responded that on average 14% of each week is wasted. To regain that time, Office Team recommends that managers give clear and precise instructions, and employees should speak up if they fail to understand what's expected of them. In general, the firm says, everyone should try to stay focused on the task at hand. Can't say it clearly? See the next item. It all sounds so simple, and yet . . . what was that last part? (SOURCE: InformationWeek, 11/22/93) ================================== In Memos, Brevity is the Soul of IT IS workers can expect to do a fair amount of writing on the job. Every day, there are a profusion of memos, documents, letters, plans, reports, and performance reviews to turn out. There's one small problem: IS people are sometimes more fascinated by technology and business than by grammar and sentence structure. Their [non-computer] language writing skills frequently leave something to be desired. Gary Blake, a consultant in Port Washington, N.Y., has written a guide called The IS Manager's Friend. Designed to help IS managers write clearly and concisely, it includes samples of status reports, meeting minutes, and memos written by real IS managers. All of the prose is easy to read; in many cases, names and details have been changed to protect the innocent. The guide shows IS managers how the most successful execs communicate with top management, subordinates, consultants and vendors. It also includes tips on the proper tone and level of persuasiveness for various topics. Blake says good writing is vital. "If managers want their staff to communicate more clearly, they have to lead the charge." For a copy of the $18 guide or further information, write to Blake -- clearly and concisely -- at the Communications Workshop, 130 Shore Rd., Port Washington, N.Y. 11050. ================================== Surefire Cures for Meeting Madness (Stanley Bing) REMEMBER delegation? Sure you do. That was the thing you did when you had staff -- people you could tell to go to all the meetings you didn't wish to take, make or do. Today, even the most august nabob must attend an endless series of confabs, sitdowns and chatfests. Here are some easy, fun games to lighten the meeting load, or at least keep you awake. = PASS THE TRASH. Carefully scan the table for the other individual who is about to experience synaptic collapse. Don't worry -- he'll be there. Now carefully and soberly write something idiotic on a small piece of paper and, in full sight of reigning authority, pass it across the table to him. Again: this move should be obvious and unabashed, so brazen that no one could possibly guess that the inside of the missive reads: "LaVigne should probably do something about the hair in his ears." Your goal here is to make your colleague blow ice water through his nose. = VISION QUEST. Deep into the meeting, while the V.P. of H.R. is touting the new H.M.O., when the only light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, have some real fun. Think back to your company's Big Themes over the years. Remember 1984's "You Make the Difference"? How about "Reachin' the Top!" from 1989? Or why not make a chart showing how "Employee Ownership" led to "Stewardship Through Excellence," producing today's thrust toward "Performance Plus"? = MANAGING BY WALKING AROUND. When all else has failed, you're going to have to stave off sleep by appearing so engaged that you can't stay in your seat. Bonus points are granted to those who move cleanly and swiftly to a corner of the room and stand rocking back and forth, looking as if they just might say something of great import. (Stanley Bing came up with these. He writes the pseudonymous "Executive Summary" column for Esquire, and his 1992 book "Crazy Bosses" is available in paperback from Pocket Books) ====================================================================== INTERNET 101: ======================= The Magic of the Internet (Peter H. Green) According to research supplied at the Internet World '93 conference in Manhattan last week, the Internet is attracting some 150,000 new users each month, who join a population now estimated at 15 million or more. Many of these new users are businesses that sense the importance of being on the "Net" but may not understand why, beyond the obvious appeal of electronic mail. "It's like magic, it's like an incantation," said Elizabeth Lane Lawley, director of Internet Training and Consulting Services of Tuscaloosa, Ala. "You don't have to know what it means. You just say 'Internet' and everyone smiles and nods their heads and says, 'Oh yeah, it's the wave of the future, yeah.' " Internet mania affects companies large and small. "Kentucky Fried Chicken just sent me an inquiry, and I've been talking to cable companies," she said. "I've also been hearing from relatives who operate small businesses and want to know what the Internet is all about." What the Internet is all about, basically, is this: It has become the postal service, telephone system and research library of the electronic age allowing millions of people to exchange information virtually anywhere in the world and at any time usually in a matter of minutes, using commonly available technology. The source of the Internet's appeal is that anyone on the Net can post and retrieve information, but the practical result, which is often frustrating to businesses accustomed to logical hierarchy and order, is that there is no defined or enforced structure for posting that information. As a result, even experienced Internet users often wind up chasing their tails when they try to fetch information. (SOURCE: "A Growing Internet is Trying to Take Care of Business", NYT 12/12/93, p. F7) ======================= <<>> Where to get answers about Internet basics = Internet Services Frequently Asked Questions & Answers (FAQ) As a novice, you will be more welcome on the internet if you make an effort to at least understand the basics. Most of us aren't used to dealing with a communications medium like this, where your every utterance can be spread far and wide. It must be annoying to hear people asking the same questions over and over. "How do I FTP files? How do I get information about the Internet online? What's a good book to read for more information about the Internet?" The internet-services.faq was created to answer those basic questions and more. It's short, it's sweet, and it will tell you where to go from there. To receive the latest version by email, send a message to: message: send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/faq A program at that address will read your mail, process your request, and reply with mail containing the FAQ. You'll be off to a good start. ======================= <<>> Internet Magazines (All prices in US dollars) = 3W - A global networking newsletter, published bi-monthly. ($45 a year) including airmail postage. Individual issues cost $7.50 including airmail postage. For more information, contact . 3W has a nice homebrew air about it. = Boardwatch, published monthly. ($36 a year) (800) 933-6038. E-mail: Focus includes bulletin board systems, legal aspects of the online world and the Internet. Boardwatch also has an online BBS. This is a good place to keep up with the online scene. Check your local newsstand. = The Internet Business Journal, a monthly newsletter ($149 a year; $75 for educational institutions and small businesses.) published by Strangelove Press. E-mail: or phone: (613) 565-0982. Sample copies available on request or by gopher to "". = The Internet Letter, a monthly newsletter ($249 a year) published by Net Week Inc., Washington (800) 638-9335. = Internet World, a bimonthly magazine ($29 a year) published by the Meckler Corporation, Westport, Conn. (800) 632-5537. E-mail: Internet World has been getting better with each issue. The March/ April issue has features on museums online, the trouble with gopher, and Internet culture. A general interest mag for the net. Check your local newsstand. = Matrix News (Matrix Information and Directory Services.) Published in online and paper editions. Online edition is $25 for 12 monthly issues ($15 for students.) Run by John Quartermain, author of The Matrix, one of the first comprehensive overviews of the emerging information infrastructure. E-mail: = Online Access. Subscription is $19.80 for 8 issues. E-mail: Their coverage is more oriented towards BBS systems, and they publish lots of resource listings, like BBS numbers arranged by subject areas. ====================================================================== On Reading Mondo 2000 (Vivian Sobchak) Writing at a historical moment when the starving or dead bodies of Somali children and the emaciated or dead bodies wrought by Bosnia's civil warfare fill our television screens and the displaced bodies of the homeless fill our streets, it is both comprehensible and extremely disturbing that Mondo 2000's supposedly utopian celebration of the liberating possibilities of the new electronic frontier promotes an ecstatic dream of disembodiment. This is alienation raised to the level of ekstasis: "A being put out of its place." It is also an apolitical fantasy of escape. Historical accounts of virtual reality tell us that one of the initial project's slogans was "Reality isn't enough anymore," but psychoanalytic accounts would more likely tell us that the slogan should be read in its inverse form -- that is, "Reality is too much right now." Hence the ambivalence of mondoid desire. In a cultural moment when temporal coordinates are oriented toward technological computation rather than the physical rhythms of the human body, and spatial coordinates have little meaning for that body beyond its brief physical occupation of a "here," in a cultural moment when there is too much perceived risk to living and too much information for both body and mind to contain and survive, need we wonder at the desire to transcend the gravity of our situation and to escape where and who we are? It is apposite that one of the smarter articles in the early issues of M2 philosophically entitles itself "Being in Nothingness," and tells us of the ultimate escape: "Nothing could be more disembodied or insensate than . . . cyberspace. It's like having had your everything amputated." This is dangerous stuff -- the stuff that (snuff) dreams are made of. Indeed, M2 is exceedingly -- and apparently indiscriminately -- proud that it is dangerous, for, as of its fourth issue, it quoted the preceding sentence as a "come on" to potential subscribers. ("Reading Mondo 2000", The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 92, Number 4 (Fall '93) p. 576) ==>On the Newsstand ====================================================================== THE KULTCHUR KORNER => CYBERSPACE-SHIP ENTERPRISE. Though commercial uses of the Internet have been growing rapidly, Educom VP Mike Roberts says that "for every greedy guy who shows up on the network trying to make a buck, there will be people around with something of equal value that's available for free. That will be do a lot to thwart the greed." (New York Times Week in Review 1/2/94 p. 5) (E/P) => BILLBOARDS IN SPACE. Public outcry over plans to put a mile-long inflatable billboard in Earth orbit has prompted the House and Senate to introduce legislation banning space advertising. The Space Advertising Prohibition Act would deny licenses for space billboards, ban import of products advertised on billboards, and ask the president to seek an international agreement on space advertising. (SOURCE: The Internet Letter Vol.1, No1, October 1993) => RADIO SHACK IN RUSSIA. In mid-December, the first Radio Shack store in Russia opened on Leninsky Prospect in Moscow. (Atlanta Constitution 12/28/93, pg. F3) (E/P) => GO OUT AND PLAY. Japan's Education Ministry blames deteriorating eyesight in Japanese youth on the increasing use of video games and monitors, and long study periods. An agency survey reported children's eyesight at the worst levels ever. (WSJ 1/5/94, p. A7) (E/P) => THE SLOB FACTOR. The IT-enabled telecommuting phenomenon has led to numerous new problems, such as isolation, stagnation, and family strife. The problem that has gotten the least notice is sloppiness. Telecommuters have very messy offices. Thus, a cottage industry is springing up to help people who are technologically adept but lack more mundane skills. (SOURCE: Home Workers Are A Bunch Of Slobs, Sue Shellenbarger. WSJ, 12/15/93, p. B1) ====================================================================== FUTURE TECH => I CAN TELL BY THE WAY YOU SMELL. Australian engineers have created prototype robots that can find their way around by sense of smell. Like ants, who use pheromones to mark the path to food, these mobile robots can spit out, detect, and follow a trail of camphor. This gives the robot two new abilities -- it can find it's way home and it "knows" where it's been. (SOURCE: Sunny Bains, "Stinking Robots", WIRED 2.02 February '94, p. 26) => CDC BITTEN BY VIRUS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, the federal government's top agency in fighting biological viruses and diseases, recently got infected by a computer virus. According to a memo to CDC employees, the virus, named Chile Medeira, was introduced via a computer disk sent from overseas. The cost to the CDC-mainly from employee downtime and systems repair -- has not been tabulated, but estimates run as high as $300,000. No data was lost, however, as the virus spread from a single workstation through the CDC network and prevented other workstations from being booted. => ROBOTS DISPENSE DRUGS. Hospitals are finding that using robots to dispense drugs frees pharmacists to spend "more time monitoring patient therapy and teaching [patients] how to take medication," according to a doctor at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics. Meanwhile, nurses at the University of California San Diego Medical Center use an ATM-like machine that issues drugs for patients when the correct personal code is punched in. (WSJ 11/4/93 p. A1) (E/P) ====================================================================== BUSINESS BRIEFS => PRICE/PERFORMANCE SHAKEUP IMMINENT. Intel recently announced that that its entire line of chips will double in speed over the next year -- without a price increase. With the PowerPC chip due to hit the market soon, there should be some great prices on Pentium and 486 machines by the end of the year. => MULTIMEDIA PATENT. Back in November Compton's New Media surprised the world by announcing that it effectively had a patent on multimedia. US Patent #5,241,671 holds that the company invented "multimedia search system using a plurality of entry path means which indicate interrelatedness of information." Compton's wanted a 3% royalty payment on any products using the multimedia/hyper- text interface, which covers a lot of ground. Last I heard, the patent is not holding up in court on the basis of "prior art" -- in other words that people had been working on similar designs before the patent was applied for. (SOURCE: NYT) => DIGITAL HDTV STANDARD CHOSEN. The Digital HDTV Grand Alliance chose Zenith's Vestigial Sideband, or VSB technology as the standard on which future HDTV transmissions will be based. The technology was chosen based in factors such as geographic coverage area, minimal interference with with existing analog TV, and the robustness of the broadcast signal. A complete HDTV system is scheduled for field testing later this year in Charlotte, N.C. The first HDTV systems are expected on the market by 1997. (SOURCE: NYT, 2/17/94, p. D1) ====================================================================== LESSONS OF TIME (Joel Dreyfus) The story of the hardware company that becomes obsolete has turned into a computer industry cliche. But software companies are also vulnerable to marketplace shifts. For example, when new desktop platforms arise, software companies scramble to respond to the capabilities of the new machines. Not all can successfully make the transition (remember SuperCalc?). So you can bet that a number of big software companies are having sleepless nights over the possible emergence of new computing platforms based on the PowerPC and Alpha chips. (InformationWeek, 1/31/94, p. 4) ====================================================================== PDA NEWS =================== The Newton Saga JOHN SCULLEY, chief executive of Apple Computer Inc., traveled the world last year to preach about products he predicted would set his company apart from the rest of its industry. The star of his show was a palm-sized computer that would read handwritten notes jotted on its screen with a special pen, convert them to text, store them for future use, even transmit them wirelessly to other computers. More than that, the computer would anticipate its master's needs like a secretary for example, automatically entering into the machine's electronic datebook an appointment time transmitted from someone else. Dubbed the Newton the new device would arrive, he promised, not in the 21st century but well in time for a place under the Christmas tree in a year or two. To those who heard Mr. Sculley and watched demonstrations of the Newton, it seemed it was almost ready to ship. The truth was very different. While Mr. Sculley was proclaiming an era of "Newton Intelligence," the team designing the computer was floundering. For one thing, the computer language on which the Newton was supposed to be based was nowhere near ready; even as Mr. Sculley was touting the Newton, its design team was throwing out four years of Apple research and starting from scratch using another language. The completion of the Newton, originally scheduled for April 1992, would ultimately be postponed until August 1993. And the computer would be far less ambitious than the one Mr. Sculley was describing. The pressure to finish, exhilarating at first, eventually overwhelmed some of the young designers. After 18-hour days, some engineers went home and cried. Some quit. One had a breakdown and ended up in jail. One took a pistol and killed himself. For all their efforts, though, the Newton has so far come up short. It has been ridiculed for its mistakes in translating handwriting and called unworthy of its price, $699 and up. Apple has sold little more than 50,000 Newtons in the four months since the computer hit the market; by contrast, the company's Macintosh computer sold 70,000 machines in just its first three months a decade ago, even though it cost three times what the Newton does. => TRY AND TRY AGAIN. The first generation of personal communicators is dead in the water -- long live the second generation. History indicates there's nothing remarkable or ominous about, say, the Newton's slow start; Apple's own Macintosh, for example, languished for two generations. Now, Sony and Compaq are preparing their own personal communicators, and Apple and AT&T will be back with follow-ups. (SOURCE: Christian Hill, "First Hand-Held Data Communicators Are Losers, But Makers Won't Give Up", WSJ, 2/3/94, p. B1) => WHEN THE PEN IS NOT MIGHTY. After collectively investing nearly $100 million in the technology, several companies are coming to the reluctant conclusion that pen-based computing isn't all it was cracked up to be. AT&T's Eo Inc. subsidiary, whose combination cellular phone/fax/pen computer sold poorly, is reorganizing to sell a "smart" cellular phone instead. Slate Corp., a pen computing software developer, has run through its funding and sold most of its assets to Compaq. (SOURCE: Rory J. O'Connor. "Pen Computing's Tragic Heroes Meet Their Fate", San Jose Mercury News, 12/2/94, p. lF) => EO SHIFTS GEARS. AT&T's Eo Inc. announced it will throw in the towel on its Model 440 data communicators, and will refocus on producing cheaper, smart cellular phones. (SOURCE: WSJ 2/1/94, p. B6) (E/P) => HAND-HELD WIRELESS. Motorola is entering the personal communicator market with Envoy, a hand-held communicator with built-in ability to send data over a digital wireless network. (SOURCE: WSJ 2/3/94, p. B6) (E/P) ====================================================================== Bits and Bytes Bookshelf Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction - by Steve McConnell [Microsoft Press, 1993. 880 pp. $35.00] - This book, written for software developers and their managers, covers the art and science of the development process from design to testing. Example programs are provided in C, Pascal, Basic, Fortran and ADA, but the emphasis here is on programming techniques. This looks like an excellent reference for anyone interested in improving their coding skills. I look forward to living with this book and learning some secrets of the Master Programmers at Microsoft. ====================================================================== On The Newsstand WINDOWS MAGAZINE. The March 1994 issue has VERY useful articles on tuning and troubleshooting Windows. The latter would come in quite handy when you're having trouble with your Windows system. ====================================================================== Beautiful Plans for World Marketing . . . er, Peace: "We now sell virtually the same toys all over the world. So it stands to reason, if all these kids are playing with the same toys, how could they ever possibly fight with each other? There's a common thread about how they grow up and what they play with. I thinks that's terrific. It makes for one world." - Charles Lazarus, founder and C.E.O., Toys "R" Us (SOURCE: Unplastic News) ====================================================================== ### ADMINISTRIVIA ### ATTENTION SYSOPS! If you are archiving B&B on your BBS, please drop me a note. I'd like to mention your BBS in B&B if that's OK. LETTERS. We welcome submissions and commentary. All mail sent to the editor or to B&B will be treated as a "letter to the editor" and considered printable, unless noted otherwise. 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