Cringely, Metcalfe, Taligent, and Misinformed Protocols...

I Find Karma (
Wed, 5 Mar 97 04:03:32 PST

Show me the bits! From the desk of Rohit...

Current Cringley column (was at
but I guess it has since moved?):

> I never cease to be amazed at the logic of some readers. After
> mentioning -- and having my editor delete the location of -- a DLL that
> could unlock the time trial on the $5 Kinko's version of Office 97, my
> e-mail box has been flooded with messages cajoling me to "do a special
> favor" for "research purposes only, of course" and "understanding why
> you wouldn't want to publicly print it" and "please e-mail me the
> location of the DLL."

Are people REALLY this stoopid?

Meanwhile, Bob Metcalfe goes nuts with a Star Wars analogy (at
but no doubt that will change):

> A Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Ben "Obi-Wan Kenobi"
> Barker was an ARPA knight on the planet BBN Corp. Barker has now
> reappeared in the Texas desert as chief of the Data Race Inc. And we
> are relieved to learn that, unlike Cerf Vader, this ARPA knight has
> not been tragically turned to the telco side of the force.
> More than 300 Web generations ago, the ARPA knights launched the
> Internet rebellion against the Imperial Telco Empire. Today, Barker
> and his insignificant rebel band in San Antonio
> ( are rising up against the Empire once
> again. The Data Race is penetrating the twisted-pair defenses of the
> Telco Empire's central office: the Death Star.

Um, there is such a thing as taking a metaphor too far, even when
referring to the oppressive telecommunications regime... although he
does get in a good one-liner:

> I'd probably be Jabba the Hut, because only he would think up e-postage.

And I have to admit, the technology sounds compelling.

> In short, Data Race's Be There (BT) Personal Multiplexor is a pair of
> exotic three-processor modems, one in your PC at home and the other in a
> remote-access server at your place of business. Software in your PC and
> its BT modem connect you through the Empire's plain old telephone
> service (POTS) to software in your company's BT server. The server, in
> turn, connects you to your company's PBX and LAN.
> With BT (not to be confused with British Telecommunications, soon to be
> confused with MCI), it's just like being there back in your office,
> receiving voice and fax calls exactly as if your home PC were an
> extension of your office phone system. And you can simultaneously be
> connected through your BT modems to your office LAN and the
> Internet. All for a cost of $500 per PC modem card and $15,200 per
> eight-port server.
> ...
> This would allow your home and office or your home and an Internet
> service provider, to be connected all the time, without the rigmarole
> of touch-tone dialing, at much higher speeds, at much less cost,
> without tying up the 121-year-old Empire's obsolete but undepreciated
> circuit-switching apparatus.
> The Federal Communications Commission, intending to implement the
> Telecommunications Act of 1996, issued regulations giving rebels
> throughout the Empire access to local wiring in all Death Stars.

Yes! Yes! Let's blow it up!!! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!

> The Empire has for now repelled this attack on its Death Stars by
> appealing to the Supreme Court. There, Imperial stormlawyers will be
> light-sabering the Act and the FCC for years to come. In the very long
> meantime, you can "be there" by uniting with Barker and his Data Race.

I'm with them. Moving onto "The Last Word" (er, like,
or something), we get a snippet on eCommerce:

> In my Feb. 10 column, when I mentioned that I thought iCat
> ( had done a credible job at rethinking how an electronic
> commerce app should act, I got an E-mailbag full from folks ready,
> willing and able to offer their advice. A couple of sites that turned up
> and were really worth checking out were those of Virtual Spin
> ( and Ironside Technologies (
> I'll be interested to see what this week's E-mailbag turns up.
> During a recent weekend in Seattle, I had a chance to catch up
> with the folks at Design Intelligence. If you haven't heard of it,
> that's OK, because it is just now releasing its first product, ipublish
> (at If ipublish is able to deliver on
> its promise, I'll put Design Intelligence right up there with
> NetObjects ( as folks who have really thought
> out a publishing process, rather than being engaged in the already
> crowded race of simply spewing up HTML pages and calling it a
> Web publishing program.

Folks who have really thought out a publishing process? "I'll take

> The first ipublish product allows for fairly instant and painless
> conversion of a document from one headed for print publishing to one
> headed for a presentation, or again redirected to a series of linked
> HTML pages. You're not going to find many (any?) other applications
> around that allow you to sling around a file quite so easily and have it
> actually come out as you'd intended. The engine is based on the
> company's proprietary Intelligence Automation technology, which is
> really very cool, although I am usually very wary of any product that
> has the "intelligence" moniker stuck on.

This sounds so cool. It's like the definition of cool.

> The company is trying to bring to the party a lot of features that have
> been part of desktop publishing but have been difficult to easily
> translate to the Web. Often the only choice has been to preserve the
> desktop page in an unchangeable form (Acrobat), or strip out the
> elements and recast them for the Web or for a presentation. Anyone who
> has struggled with file format conversions and the intricacies of text
> wrapping knows that it ain't as easy as the final result appears. If
> Design Intelligence can deliver on the promise of the ipublish beta
> version that I saw, it has a product that other vendors will be chasing
> for a while.

Buy! Buy! Buy!!!

While we're on a roll, Taligent lives (and this is HOT
but Rohit already FoRKed this...)

Moving right along, WebTV isn't dead yet (or so sayeth the shepherd
so sayeth the flock):

> Purchasers of WebTV devices, manufactured by partners Sony Corp. and
> Philips Electronics Corp., mirror U.S. households in terms of PC
> ownership. About 65 percent of WebTV owners don't have PCs, compared to
> 61 percent of all U.S. households. Perlman didn't release figures on how
> many of the devices had been sold, but hinted that the number was well
> above 50,000.
> ...
> The other thing he thinks will attract mainstream users to Internet
> devices is low cost, comparing the device, which costs about $300, to
> the new sub-$1,000 PCs recently introduced by Compaq Computer Corp. and
> Hewlett-Packard Co.
> "[$999] is a lot of money to most people, especially if you're not sure
> what the value is," he said. "We know what a VCR does, but what is the
> Internet for?"
> WebTV customers appear to be using the Internet for getting their E-mail
> and surfing--primarily at consumer sites such as and
>, where Perlman said the WebTV domain is Nos. 4 and 5,
> respectively, in the list of domains accessing the site.
> And at EOnline, the Web site for the E! television network, WebTV was
> the No. 4 domain name that accessed the site in January, Perlman said.
> And they're not going to these sites alone. Average viewership is 2.5
> people, "just like TV," Perlman said.
> "For those of you who are advertiser-supported, that's good news," he
> added, saying that companies could conceivably charge more for banner
> ads that run on WebTV sites, since more people are watching the screen.

And then there was the mouse that roared...

Another of Selker's inventions is a multistream input mouse, a
standard mouse with an IBM TrackPoint mouse positioned between its
left and right mouse buttons.

We end with the VERY misinformed
claiming that the Net protocol duo is on upgrade path...

Judge for yourself...

> Two core Internet protocols are receiving face-lifts to improve
> intranet application performance and management.
> Version 1.1 of HTTP, due to emerge as a formal draft specification by
> early summer, promises to radically cut connection and transmission
> times by adding pipelining and caching features, said Jim Gettys, one of
> HTTP's co-creators at the World Wide Web Consortium, in Cambridge, Mass.
> Meanwhile, under a separate initiative, the Internet Engineering Task
> Force this spring will call for comments on recommendations for fixing
> bugs and creating an extensibility model for NNTP (Network News
> Transport Protocol), a 13-year-old Usenet standard that is gaining
> acceptance as an intranet collaboration platform.
> The two upgrades will go a long way to restoring Web performance,
> which has suffered mightily under the weight of millions of new users.
> "It is encouraging to see that HTTP 1.1 is not going to be a
> technology only," said Jennifer Fletcher, an IS manager at Greenseller
> Associates, a New York accounting firm. "It is already making its way
> into actual products that I can use."
> Netscape Communications Corp., Microsoft Corp., IBM and JavaSoft will
> support HTTP 1.1 in its browsers and servers this year. To gain the
> full benefits of the upgraded protocol, both browser and server must
> speak HTTP 1.1.
> Pipelining will enable compliant browsers and servers to transfer all
> data in a single session, said Gettys, resulting in fewer total packets
> transferred in less time.
> Pipelining also will let more information be included in a single
> packet, enabling more packets to fit in a single network connection
> and reducing overall traffic through a router, he said.
> Caching, a limited feature in HTTP 1.0, has been improved in 1.1,
> said Gettys. With HTTP 1.1, a browser will be able to communicate
> with a server to compare page changes against a cached copy of
> a page. As a result, only the changes are sent to the user vs. the
> entire Web page.
> The issue with NNTP is not speed but extensibility, and standards
> bodies are working to create a way to extend the protocol, said
> Jack De Winter, a member of the NNTPext working group and lead
> programmer at WildBear Consulting, in Kitchener, Ontario.
> Already, several proposed extensions to NNTP are finding their
> way into products. Netscape has incorporated two extensions into
> Collabra Server that enable simplified naming schemes for
> newsgroups and an easier method of searching newsgroups for
> specific information.

Misinformed populist smurgen...


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