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Friday 27 October 2000, 22:40 BST
There's already a fair bit of controversy about the "congenital confusion between trademarks and domain names," as John Gilmore puts it. Now Nokia, one of the applicants for the new tranche of Top Level Domains which I mentioned on Wednesday, is proposing that the barriers to noncommercial domain registration be raised just that bit further. According to their submission bidding to run various mobile-related TLDs, even the naming of sub-domains should be subject not only challenge after the fact under the existing arrangements, but to a requirement that as a condition of registering a sub-domain an affidavit stating that they've carried out an international intellectual property search.

This is lunacy, not least because it would push the cost of registering a domain through the roof: corporations would pay up to protect themselves, but how many private individuals or not-for-profit organisations could afford to carry out expensive intellectual property searches? Not to mention that this places the burden of proof on the would-be registrant in advance of any complaint being received. Get the full story, plus a considerably more lucid account of the consequences, from the roving_reporter. [Via TBTF]
One item in this week's edition of the excellent popbitch newsletter made my blood run cold:
Ronan Keating [is] recording a murderous cover version of the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl's Fairytale Of New York.
The next question is, who will he choose to sing the Kirsty MacColl part? B*witched? Samantha Mumba? Kylie Minogue? Mariah Carey? Melanie C?
Wednesday 25 October 2000, 23:20 BST
Following the announcement the other day that Deja.com is putting their Usenet archive up for sale, Wired News has a report on the prospects that someone will find a way to turn a Usenet archive into part of a successful business model. As Wired notes, Usenet is an odd beast: it stubbornly persists even though it's proved very hard to figure out a way to make money out of it (notwithstanding the efforts of Canter & Siegel).

I doubt that 10% of new internet users over the last five years have so much as fired up a news client, and many of those who have done so will have used it to access/post binaries, which make up by far the majority of Usenet by volume nowadays. Some of the strongest online communities I've ever encountered are on Usenet: just look at a group like rec.arts.sf.written, which despite the occasional political thread from hell is one of the most civilised places I've ever visited in my eight years on the internet. [Via Robot Wisdom]
ICANN has published a list of the proposals it's received for new Top Level Domains (TLDs). Some of the proposals have been widely discussed for years now - ".biz", ".sucks", ".sex", ".xxx" - but others are a tad obscure. What are ".three33", ".sansansan", ".i" and ".xing" all about?

Not that this is any reason not to authorise their creation: if someone can find a use for them and the DNS system can cope with a bunch of additional registrars (and Karl Auerbach, the techie who was recently elected to the ICANN board to represent North America, strongly believes that it can) then it seems to me that they should be created. [Via Metafilter]
Tuesday 24 October 2000, 23:00 BST
The late Carl Sagan was not only a distinguished scientist, but one of the most gifted science writers of his era. One of his most notable achievements, both because of the large audience it attracted and for its sheer breadth of scope, was the television series Cosmos. I haven't seen the series since its original run in this country on the BBC in 1980, so I'm delighted to read a report at Sci Fi Wire that Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, is preparing the series for a DVD release. I'm slightly less happy at the idea that the DVD release will feature updates reflecting the advance in scientific knowledge since 1980 and new footage: I have nothing against the idea that the new release should be as accurate as possible, but I hope the DVD will arrange the additional information in such a way that I can just watch the 1980 version if I wish.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that the latest version of Eudora Pro would have a MoodWatch feature, designed to warn the user that he or she was using intemperate language. Peter Sussman writes in Salon about using the feature, and sure enough it turns out MoodWatch is both intrusive and ineffective. <sarcasm>I'd never have guessed.</sarcasm>
Modern laptops like the Apple iBook are for wimps. Twenty years ago, the first portable personal computer, the Osborne 01, not only serviced your personal computing needs but gave you a good cardio-vascular workout every time you tried to lift it. Now the Osborne and the iBook go head-to-head at FutureLooks.com. [Via Techdirt]
Monday 23 October 2000, 22:25 BST
David Brin, PhD, science fiction author and science writer, has an modest proposal to put to the New Economy's New Rich: The Eye Of The Needle Foundation, a shot at immortality. [Via Vavatch Orbital]
Jonathan Lebed engaged in a campaign to drive up the value of shares he owned using internet chat rooms, posting under several aliases in order to make it look as if a hot tip was circulating. Once he was found out he paid US$285,000 to the SEC, and has agreed not to do it again. The most striking point about this is that he's just 16 years old. His father's response:
"He earned it. He did a lot of work. He didn't sit behind a garage smoking pot, or stealing wheels off a car."
Oh, so that's all right then. [Via The Guardian]
T-Bone's Stress Relief Aquarium 2.2. I like it. [Via Memepool]
Sunday 22 October 2000, 21:40 BST
Microsoft have just published their first explicitly anti-Linux advert, in a German computer magazine. A picture of the ad can be found here. According to the inevitable Slashdot thread about this news, the text of the ad says:
An open operating system sometimes just mutates. Instead Windows 2000 offers all services from a single source. This saves time and consequently really money. More info under www.microsoft.com/germany/windows2000
I think the ad is pretty funny, myself, even if it's about as accurate as just about any software company's marketing effort. After all, it's not as if Windows 2000 bears much of a resemblance to the original version of Windows NT.
"At this point I was furious and I told him, 'I want you to stop putting yogurt in my mailbox,' and I think he got the idea." From a fascinating archive of overheard remarks. [Via extenuating circumstances]
"We Didn't Start The Weblogs." (To the tune of Billy Joel's awful "We Didn't Start The Fire.") Very, very cleverly done. [Via Metafilter]
One type of intellectual property theft that probably isn't going to end up in court any time soon. [Via Locus Online]
AMERICANS ANNOYED BY "ALL THIS INTERNATIONAL SHIT" ON INTERNET: Web's Increasingly Worldly Flavor Threatens Americans' Worldview, reports SatireWire.
Lord Holme has resigned as chair of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, according to BBC News Online, because of revelations in a Sunday newspaper that he'd carried on an extramarital affair. I'm not entirely clear as to why this should make him a less effective chair for a body charged with overseeing TV and radio programming in the UK. I wonder how many of the readers of the News Of The World (or, for that matter, how many of the journalists working on the paper) have had extramarital affairs?

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