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Friday 1 September 2000, 23:55 BST
Very, very tasteless, but good fun I'll bet. [Via Planet Jon]
Still more internet privacy worries, only this time it's your word processor that causes problems (rather than your web browser) according to Wired News Online. As more and more applications become web-enabled and allow you to render HTML code, this problem will only get worse. And for once, Microsoft aren't particularly to blame (though that's the spin that will be put on the story nine times out of ten).
Pork the one you love. [Via Kottke.org]
According to BBC News Online the government thinks that if I get stopped for speeding the police should sample and store my DNA? Why, exactly?
Thursday 31 August 2000, 23:00 BST
Nymphomania versus celibacy. [Via Arts and Letters Daily and Salon]
Don't get angry, get even. (I) [Via Salon]
A meat-eating plant that grows underground without benefit of direct sunlight. Creepy. [Via Guardian Weblog]
Don't get angry, get even. (II) [Via Salon]
Wednesday 30 August 2000, 22:25 BST
AltaVista UK boss resigns over unmetered access fiasco. The best picture caption in the world from BBC News Online. [Via Haddock Directory]
Doubletake Magazine has a fascinating account of the long friendship between Mark Twain and Ulysses S Grant. [Via Arts and Letters Daily]
Is your dot.com business doomed? [Via Techdirt]
Using the internet to discover a comet. It's a shame that the comet you discover is named after the spacecraft rather than the observer, but it's still a wonderfully cool idea. [Via BBC News Online]
An astonishing roundabout. If I ended up here, I'd just put the car into reverse and back away as quickly as was decent. [Via Memepool]
Wagner James Au thinks that the best result for computer gamers might be for Microsoft's X-Box to completely dominate the market and kill the PC games market. I agree that allowing PC gamers to escape from the upgrade treadmill and supplying a fixed target for developers to aim at are positive moves, but that's what Sony, Nintendo and Sega already provide. It's not clear to me that a Microsoft monopoly would benefit the public more than it would Microsoft.
Sony are backing away from their employee's comments about blocking Napster. Colour me surprised. [Via The Register]
A gloomy look at the future of online journalism from Kathleen Quinn at ZDNet. I understand the scepticism about the viability of the subscription model, but it seems to me that the solution is not to give up and leave the field to newspapers, but for someone to implement and promote a halfway decent system of micropayments.
Monday 28 August 2000, 23:15 BST
Big Brother endangers corporate networks, costing British businesses £1.4 million a week, according to a report on BBC News Online. It's not as if it's difficult for a sysadmin to prevent access to a particular IP address block, or filter out certain types of content, so I can't see why this should be a major problem for businesses. The article doesn't make it clear what line of business the company that produced this statistic is in, but I'm guessing they sell glorified firewall systems.
One of my favourite sources of information about the pitfalls of applying IT solutions in the real world is the ACM's Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems, which circulates anecdotes and commentaries and reviews of books on computer security through the newsgroup comp.risks and its email- and web-based equivalent, the RISKS Digest. I don't always get a chance to read the digests as soon as they're posted to comp.risks, but I had a chance to play catch-up this long Bank Holiday weekend and found a few gems as always:
For instance, Danny Burstein reports that in New York State the database of fingerprint IDs only allocates 7 digits for the ID number, so with a state population of around 18 million they're soon going to start recycling old numbers. How long do you think it'll be before someone ends up being misidentified and suing the police department?
Another posting, this time from Lloyd Wood, pointed out a rather underhand trick Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 plays when you select View Source in order to hide the brain-damaged way certain other Microsoft web development tools screw up the use of "/" and "\" in URLs. Very sneaky.
The Millennium Bridge may have a chronic vibration problem, but Salon tells us that that little embarrassing setback hasn't deterred the engineers from moving on to another piece of structural engineering: a revolutionary new design of bra.
Sue Me Baby One More Time. An amusing article from Wired News, but doesn't it just reek of Microsoft desperately trying to soften their image? "Look, we can laugh at ourselves. We aren't just evil monopolists, honest!"
The irony meter just went all the way up to 10! The crux of the ongoing DeCSS lawsuit, brought by an array of media companies trying to protect their ability to dictate how and where we can watch DVDs we've bought, is that merely linking to a site which contains (allegedly) illegal software is held is in itself a breach of the law.

Oddly enough, Dave Winer has found that the CNN web site reporting on the case had a link to, guess what, a web site where the DeCSS software was available. Presumably Time-Warner, which both owns CNN and was a party to the DeCSS lawsuit, is now going to sue itself. [Via rc3.org]

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