TBTF for 3/30/98: Elementary

Keith Dawson (dawson@world.std.com)
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 21:54:11 -0600


TBTF for 3/30/98: Elementary

T a s t y B i t s f r o m t h e T e c h n o l o g y F r o n t

Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994

Your Host: Keith Dawson

This issue: < http://www.tbtf.com/archive/03-30-98.html >

C o n t e n t s

Another intrusion-detection vendor is acquired
Washington State outlaws spam
Poles of the domain-name debate
A 56K stunner: x2 trounces K2flex
Three bad breaks for Microsoft
A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa cup
Senate committee wants to investigate Win98
Appeals court judge removes himself from Microsoft case
Electronic software delivery
Find your local Web worker
Quick Bits
Y2K, the Euro, and D10K
Mozilla dot party
Who ya gonna call (Drive Savers)

..Another intrusion-detection vendor is acquired

Did Security Dynamics get a bargain?

Security Dynamics, owner of RSA, bought Intrusion Detection, contin-
uing the recent round of consolidations in this industry [1]. C|net
notes [2] that the price, $32.5M or about 3 times Intrusion Detec-
tion's 1997 earnings, was surprisingly small for a company ranked
number three in a $100M market. Last month Cisco bought fourth-
ranked WheelGroup for 12 times earnings. Other small players in
the intrusion detection market, now possible acquisition targets,
include Netect [3] and Secure Networks [4]. Here is a recent over-
view [5] of the players in the market for intrusion detection soft-
ware and firewalls.

[1] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/02-23-98.html#s01
[2] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20490,00.html?pfv
[3] http://www.netect.com/
[4] http://www.securenetworks.com/nav.html

..Washington State outlaws spam

First such state law on the books

On 3/25 Washington's Governor signed a bill [6] outlawing unwanted
and deceptive email within that state. The bill allows ISPs to sue
spammers to recover damages. It forbids forging a return address,
hijacking another's mail server, or otherwise misrepresenting a
message's point of origin -- practices employed in an estimated 80%
of all spam. The law applies to anyone within the state of Washing-
ton who sends forged junk email and also bans anyone from sending
such spam to Washington residents.

[6] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20480,00.html?pfv

..Poles of the domain-name debate

The Green Paper fragmented and sharpened opinions

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has registered its comments [7] on
the Commerce Department's domain naming Green Paper. EFF weighs in
from the side of radical Internet self governance. It wants the evo-
lution of the domain naming system left completely in the hands of
the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, and it wants NSI cut off
completely from any ownership in the common property of domain
namespace. The EFF urges balance for the rights of small companies
and individuals against those of trademark holders.

Gordon Cook replied [8] to the EFF comments; suffice it to say he is
not sanguine. As Phil Agre notes in introducing Cook's comments, this
debate has polarized almost beyond reason.

[7] http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/noframes/rre/764.html
[8] http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/noframes/rre/765.html

..A 56K stunner: x2 trounces K2flex

The sun shines on 3Com, but not on Rockwell/Lucent

The March Boardwatch magazine's cover story [9], written by the
self-titled Editor Rotundus Jack Rickard, is a characteristic-
ally rambling and bit-dense account of the magazine's program for
testing modems and dial-up connection rates. Like most of the
industry, Boardwatch had assumed that the competing 56K modem
technologies were more or less equivalent. Beginning last Decem-
ber the magazine set out to determine call completion rates at a
number of nationwide ISPs; 140,000-odd calls later, the results
constitute an embarrassing walkover in favor of x2. These two
graphics [10], [11] (about 94K each) encapsulate the following

K2flex x2

Number of calls 10,325 10,470
Avg. connect speed 30,849 43,192
% connected above 40K 6.51% 93.51%

What do these results matter now that the warring camps have agreed
on an interoperable standard? Boardwatch's Rickard speculates that
in the coming V.90 era we will look back with wistful nostalgia on
the rocky and painful transition to V.34 several years ago.

> We would expect to see an almost implausible range of op-
> erating performance from modems all purporting to be V.90
> compatible. We'll have a standard, but it won't be very
> standard with regard to performance.

Thanks to John Jenson <john@analysis.net> for pointing out the Board-
watch article.

[9] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/bwm24.html
[10] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/pg35a.jpg
[11] http://www.boardwatch.com/mag/98/mar/pg34a.jpg

..Three bad breaks for Microsoft

In Java suit, Senate hearing, and Justice appeal

..A cuppa cuppa cuppa cuppa cup

Sun got a boost during its JavaOne conference last week when US
District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte ruled that Microsoft must stop
using the Java logo in its products until the companies' lawsuit
is resolved in a trial. Whyte ruled that Sun had shown a reasonable
likelihood of winning its case, and that Microsoft's interpretation
of the Java contract would essentially allow the Redmond company to
destroy the cross-platform nature of Java.

..Senate committee wants to investigate Win98

Orrin Hatch, the Senator from Novell, sent a letter [12] to Bill
Gates stating that the Judiciary Committee will extend its anti-
trust investigation to include Windows 98 [13]. The committee wants
Microsoft to release its partners from any confidentiality agree-
ments so that OEMs, ISPs, and content providers can discuss details
of their Microsoft contracts with investigators.

[12] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20534,00.html?pfv
[13] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,20522,00.html?pfv

..Appeals court judge removes himself from Microsoft case

The appeals court that initially looked friendly toward Microsoft
just got a little frostier. Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan
appointee, took himself off the case because he oversees a trust
that invests in Microsoft [14]. He was replaced by Carter appointee
Judge Patricia Wald. In the coming weeks the appeals panel will
decide the fate of Special Master Lawrence Lessig, opposed by
Microsoft, and review injunctions on the company's browser.

[14] http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/msftdoj/TWB19980317S0020

..Electronic software delivery

A new online store tries alternative revenue models

Release Software and @Home have launched a site, SoftwareNow [15],
that takes advantage of @Home's fat pipes to provide downloadable
software [16]. It's available over the open Internet as well, but
since it sits on @Home's high-speed backbone, downloads to @Home
customers should occur at megabit rates. The store uses Release
Software's [17] SalesAgent ESD technology, and to me its salient
innovation is supporting alternative revenue models for elec-
tronically delivered software. Some software is available in a
shareware-like, try-before-you-buy form. A few items can be rent-
ed by the week for prices ranging from $7 to $16. Which software
is offered in which delivery model seems to depend on the vendor.
For example, all 31 Microsoft titles listed are available only
for snail-mail box delivery. (Microsoft is known to be working on
their own online ESD store, to the ill-concealed alarm of their
channel partners, so it's not surprising that they don't author-
ize SoftwareNow to offer their products in this way.) Here's a
rough box score:

Delivery method Titles

Download & buy 250+
Ship box 90+
Try before you buy 23
Rent by the week 7

Note SoftwareNow's .net address [15]. Confusingly, an unrelated share-
ware operation owns the name softwarenow.com.

[15] http://www.softwarenow.net/
[16] http://www.home.com/corp/news/pr_980323_01.html
[17] http://www.releasesoft.com/

..Find your local Web worker

Web-design.com puts geography first

The Net is everywhere and nowhere, so it's easy to assume that lo-
cation shouldn't matter for Web workers. Perhaps this is why list-
ings of such professionals rarely make it easy to search based on
geographical location. But in fact someone hiring you to build a
Web site is probably going to want to shake your hand and look you
in the eye. A new database [18] being promoted by Premier Internet
Corp. addresses this very issue -- it supports searches by state,
metropolitan area, and country. Web-design.com is just getting
started. Some of the links don't work yet -- Help, for example --
and when I visited yesterday it listed a total of six designers
in California. But if the site attracts a good collection of list-
ings it will provide a needed service.

If you're a Web designer, go and add yourself to Web-design.com's
database. It only takes a minute. The site mails you a password so
you can edit your entry later.

A couple of words of advice to the site's creators: lose the per-
vasive drop shadows, they make me blink and squint. Don't force
the output into Helvetica/Ariel mouse type, let me choose the
font and size in my browser. Finally, replace the dubiously use-
ful "skills" listing with a space for designers to list the URLs
of sites they have created.

[18] http://www.web-design.com/

..Quick Bits

A maze of twisty items, all a little different

..Y2K, the Euro, and D10K

The April Wired lists the Millenium bug, a.k.a. Y2K, as "Tired,"
while the changeover to the Euro [19] is "Wired." Now a third
software glitch looms as the Dow Jones industrial average looks
ready to run out of room in four digits.

>>From Edupage, 3/26/98:

> Experts predict financial software may go haywire if the Dow
> Jones Industrial Average tops 10,000. Many software programs
> are designed to handle only four-digit Dows, says one software
> designer, who says that concern over the D10K problem soon
> "will spawn the usual parade of opportunists" to fix the bug.
> (Wall Street Journal 26 Mar 98)

[19] http://www.xs4all.nl/~doornh/euro/RELATION.HTM

..Mozilla dot party

On 4/1 the Open Source community is invited to a party [20] in
Multimedia Gulch [21], San Francisco, to celebrate the release
of Netscape Communicator source code. This is no April Fools joke,
it just happens that Communicator is being freed the day before.
Netscape is not supporting the party -- sounds like the lawyers
got involved -- it's the sole doing of Netscape employee Jamie
Zawinski [22], who toils on the mozilla.org side of the house.

[20] http://www.mozilla.org/party/
[21] http://www.tbtf.com/siliconia.html#mmgulch
[22] http://www.mozilla.org/party/details.html

..Who ya gonna call (Drive Savers)

Pray you never need the services of this outfit [23], which spec-
ializes in recovering bits from nightmarishly damaged disks. My
favorite story from the museum [24] is the PowerBook that spent
several days at the bottom of the Amazon River before Drive Savers
recovered 100% of its data.

[23] http://www.drivesavers.com/
[24] http://www.drivesavers.com/0/museum.html


Zip code optional

TBTF for 3/21/97 [25] noted that elements 104 to 109 had been added
officially to the periodic table after long disputes over what to
call them. A note forwarded by Peter Langston <psl@langston.com>
indicates that that announcement was premature. The March 1998
issue of the publication of the American Institute of Chemical
Engineers says that the International Union of Pure and Applied
Chemistry had officially named the six elements only in September
of last year. AIChE Extra (great name, that) quotes Discover mag-
azine on the unique distinction held by Glenn Seaborg, still a
researcher at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Berkeley Labs:

> Not only is he the first living scientist to have an element
> named after him, he's also the only person who could receive
> mail addressed only in elements: Seaborgium, Lawrencium,
> Berkelium, Californium, Americium.

[25] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/03-21-97.html#s07

N o t e s

> TBTF won't appear next week, but will return on April 13. Try to bear
up. Next weekend you'll find me walking on a deserted beach or flying
in an ancient airplane without benefit of cockpit.

S o u r c e s

> For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see
http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html .

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Keith Dawson dawson@world.std.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

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