Many acknowledge Jane's Intelligence Review (JIR) as the best private
report on military and intelligence affairs. The editors of JIR
commissioned an article on cyberterrorism but before publishing it, decided
to have the article reviewed by the denizens of Slashdot, a hotbed of
online security knowledge. Slashdotters proceeded to rip the article to
shreds. The criticism led the editors to dump the original and publish the
feedback itself. The episode has sparked speculation about a new collective
journalism, wherein communities produce more accurate and less biased
stories. We liken such practice more to mob rule than democratic reporting.
Good reporters use communities as sources and don't get the stuff wrong in
the first place. Read the original article, the first Slashdot call for
contributions, and Jane's decision to publish the collective wisdom.
Again this week, major media outlets (e.g. LA Times, NY Times) trotted out
the spectre of a massive Russian cracker attack on US Defense Department
computers. The stories imply a recent spate of such attacks. Guess what?
This is simply a rehash of the same story that made the rounds about a year
ago when some clueless spooks unfamiliar with IP spoofing software assumed
that the US was being targeted in a massive Russian cyberwar effort. The
"news" appears to be repeatedly fed to the media by a dubious cast of
characters with no solid evidence and numerous vague yet ominous warnings
about an impending "Electronic Pearl Harbor" (trivia: Alvin and Heidi
Toffler coined that phrase in 1993's "War and Anti-War"). Read the
devastating analysis of the "Pearl Harbor" bogeyman on the Crypt Newsletter
site and don't let 'em yank your chain.
Ironically, given the above story, sources in the security community tell
us that a recent clumsy large-scale probe of ports on Internet machines
around the globe has been traced to at least one site in Russia. A
collection of trace information from around the Net has led to the shutdown
of a site that appears to have been involved in the probes. SANS has an
advisory with more information of interest to sysadmins. Keep in mind that
the originating site could have been cracked by anybody in the world and
been simply used as cover to launch those network snoops. The story is
still unfolding and information is scarce - but certainly much more
credible then vague threats of an "Electronic Pearl Harbor".
Just as Microsoft has finally fired the first official shot across the bow
of Linux, so a credit card company is firing a penguin over the bow of
Microsoft. The Redmond bunch has set up a site called Linux Myths, which
takes the free operating system to task for its shortcomings. Not
unexpectedly, Linux zealots immediately labelled the site FUD, i.e. a site
designed to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt - a common corporate
tactic. At the same time, the Linux Fund, which sells credit cards
emblazoned with the penguin logo, announced an art project which thumbs its
nose (beak?) at Microsoft. In exchange for your Microsoft Windows CD and
license, they will give you a free Linux OS CD and will donate the
Microsoft material to an art project. Witty and clever, which is more than
can be said for Microsoft's old-style corporate marketspeak.
As politicians grandstand over artistic taste or lack of it, the Brooklyn
Museum of Art's Sensation exhibit, which showcases works by contemporary
British artists, is enjoying record-breaking crowds. The big flap centers
on Chris Ofili's elephant-dunged "The Holy Virgin Mary". The Museum's Web
site offers a few innocuous pictures, hours of operation, and so forth, but
for the real dirt, go visit BowieNet (yes, that Bowie), which presents the
collection itself. You get the art and RealPlayer G2 audio clips of David
Bowie, the exhibit's official narrator. Yahoo provides extensive news
surrounding the show, including New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's comments,
and various links which suggest the show really isn't anything to get
To celebrate its 15th anniversary, National Geographic Traveler magazine
has published a roundup of the 50 destinations the staff believes no
curious traveler should miss. Divided into urban spaces, wild places,
paradises found, country unbound, and world wonders, the selection combines
the obvious and quirky. The Web site provides a short, nicely annotated
list of links to Web sites about each destination (typically ten or so).
It's a convenient way to get to know something about these special places.
What they don't give you is the text of the article - for that we guess you
have to read the magazine.
BBC marks the 30th anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus - whose
beginning oddly coincided with the birth of the Net, q.v. - with this
special edition Web site, a fascinating documentary take on the comedy team
and its deflating humor that incorporates sound clips and interviews. For
more silly nonsense, visit Stone Dead's finely crafted site, lovingly made
to entertain, where even the banner ads add to the amusing zanyness. The
place is a complete and utter waste of time, with oodles of Python
information, lyrics, quizzes, pictures, sounds, complete list of TV
sketches, scripts of sketches and so on. We know full well that nothing we
say will deter you from wading into this swamp, and it's a big one, so wear
your wellies! Say no more!
It's like using both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The 30th birthday
of the Internet has either just passed or is about to arrive, depending on
the event on which you base that calculation. Which event gave birth to the
Internet - the moment it existed or the moment it was first used? The folks
at Hypermart have chosen the date of first transmission, October 20, 1969,
when Charley Kline at UCLA planned to transmit the command "login" to a
computer at Stanford Research Institute, as their demarcation date. They
have created a central repository for celebration online. Ironically,
October 20 was also the day of the first big Internet crash, two letters
into that first transmission.
The concept: offer a secure online space where you can store your files and
share them with others. So how is this new service different from FTP or
owning your own server? Well, you don't have to hassle with setting up a
secure environment by yourself. You also have easy Web access anywhere -
without needing an FTP client. The service has three components, Express, a
secure Web courier service; Drive, a place to park your files; and Manager,
a secure virtual workspace to share and collaborate on files. Sounds quite
useful. Pricing is reasonable: free up to 25 Meg; $10/month for 100 MB; and
$25/month for 250 MB.
A new site aims to do for intellectual property what eBay has done for real
goods. IPNetwork has set up a site where you can auction off trademarks,
copyrights, trade names, domain names, patents, and the like. But the
company offers much more than just auctions. They also provide such complex
services as licensing control, intellectual property strategy consulting,
royalty tracking, and bonding and escrow services. A quick look at the list
of clients reveals organizations from Coca Cola to Greenpeace. It looks
like there's nothing ready for auction just yet; clearly, the company is
still developing, looking for contacts with high-profile clients who own
complex intellectual property portfolios. It's a good concept, and if you
think you're qualified, it's probably a good idea to give them a call.
Last year, Eric Raymond wrote the influential "The Cathedral and the
Bazaar" which expounded on the philosophical underpinnings of the Open
Source movement. He paralleled the old corporate method of software
development with building a cathedral and open source development with a
collaborative bazaar. This week, Nikolai Bezroukov wrote a scathing
critique of that paper entitled "Open Source Software Development as a
Special Type of Academic Research (Critique of Vulgar Raymondism)",
complete with allusions to "vulgar Marxism". While Nikolai clearly needs a
course in remedial paper titling, his criticism has set off an amusing
tempest in an academic teapot, with Eric Raymond taking Nikolai to task for
adding "almost nothing useful to the debate". Consider it the entertaining
philosophical equivalent of a World Wrestling Federation cage match. We
should note that the Nazis have been invoked, which means that the debate
is officially over, at lest according to the commonly mis-quoted dictates
of Godwin's Law.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the WELL (Whole Earth
'Lectronic Link), the legendary online discussion community, is the concept
of "owning your own words": you have the right to do whatever you want with
your posts, including erasing them for all posterity. And this is exactly
what one prominent WELL member did. James Rutt, chief executive of Network
Solutions, recently decided that his outspoken postings on the WELL could
come back to haunt him so he took advantage of one of the WELL's more
inspired features and "scribbled" over his postings, erasing them forever
from the system. Many profound angles sprout from this tale: the personal
responsibility, implications of online permanence, anonymity, social
reactions to public figures, copyright, public vs. private personas, and
much more. Start with the well written Washington Post article then head on
over to Slashdot for some spirited discussions. Membership in the WELL
costs $10 a month.
Some people will never get it, or at least haven't since we covered Mk I of
"Care and Feeding of the Press" in NSD 3.17. Journalists call these
clueless people - ah, there are children present. OK, we call them PR
agents. Journalists and PR people live in an uneasy symbiosis. Each group
needs yet aggravates the other. If you're involved in PR or marketing or
have any dealings with online journalists at all, read this. The Internet
Press Guild has compiled this lengthy document of dos and don'ts for the PR
flack trying to persuade the harassed staff writer on the other end of the
phone that XYZ company has a great new product that they must write about
Personalization.com is based on the premise that the future of online
marketing and the Web lies in a move away from the faceless statistical
shopper unit and toward a more intimate relationship between buyer and
seller. The site, guided by Cluetrain Manifesto engineer Christopher Locke,
has built a community of discussion and debate - through articles,
resources, and reviews - focused on how personalization technology will
evolve and affect our online experiences. Many will recognize the names of
contributing analysts like Esther Dyson and Robert Seidman. It may be a bit
"inky-thinky" for some, but if you're deep into e-commerce, advertising, or
marketing, keep an eye on this site. You might want to accept its
invitation to contribute insight of your own.
HateWatch, a Web-based not-for-profit, monitors hate groups on the
Internet. In addition to keeping an up-to-date catalogue of those hate
groups that recruit members online, the organization also provides
assistance to victims of hate crimes by offering them local contacts who
can provide counseling and advice. Instead of falling into the First
Amendment trap of asking hate groups not to say bad things, HateWatch
allows the groups to condemn themselves with their own words. They offer
RealAudio interviews with both bigots and activists, as well as a list of
ISPs who have in place a no-hate-page policy.
We've all met them, the font-mad, the serif-stunned aesthetes who lay out
Web pages measured with neutrinos. For the Neanderthal who thinks Courier
is the way to go because, after all, it looks just like typewriting, this
typography site is the perfect explanation of the obsession. Shockwave
animations are used, not just for excitement, but for genuine education.
You can move letter outlines over each other to see the details of the
variations. The varying letter spacing, size, and style show how the
message of the text gets modified according to the way it is displayed on
the page or screen. And, indeed, the impact changes perceptibly. The site
is itself an education in presenting information, reflecting itself in its
structure. Experience it, and learn.
Although he has produced a great variety of prints, David Delamare is best
known for his children's book illustrations. His more adult offerings have
a Michael Parkesesque flavor; they leave you feeling as if you've been
transported into a world where gravity doesn't exist for beautiful or
grotesque people. Online ordering doesn't work yet, but you can still buy
prints, greeting cards, and signed copies of the book he illustrated for
Carly Simon. Parents should be aware before showing children the
illustrations that the galleries contain some tasteful yet butt-naked
Is there nothing people won't collect? This site, unaffiliated with the
Absolut vodka company, is a frighteningly large collection of Absolut
magazine ads, which apparently are highly desirable products. The numbers
of different ads runs into the hundreds and while not all are pictured,
almost all can be traced to the publication in which they appeared. The
site provides a phone number at which you can order each back issue as
well. Collectors of the world unite - you have only your sanity to lose.
Written by the same anonymous author who penned our all-time bestseller Maximum
Security, this book is specifically geared at securing your Linux box.
The work has lots of useful information about sniffers, scanners,
firewalls, auditing tools, intrusion detectors, and denial-of-service
software, and includes a CD-ROM containing many of the programs discussed.
Indispensible for anybody who's got a Linux machine hooked up to the
A "how we did it" book by the CEO of Red Hat Linux, a new billionaire
thanks to a wildly successful IPO. Most online people have probably heard
about Red Hat, the company which is almost synonymous with the
commercialization of Linux. This book tells the story of how Red Hat, and
Linux, became the strongest contender yet to topple the Microsoft monopoly.
Well written, and required reading for fans of Internet age business
This is the companion book to the current Brooklyn Museum exhibit that is
generating so much controversy, and a good way to see what the fuss is all
about without having to travel to Brooklyn. The book has photos of all the
contentious exhibits, including the shark in formaldehyde, the cut up cow,
gunshot wound art, weird sex dolls, and the infamous Madonna with elephant
What a cool drum synthesizer program. What's neat is that you can "grow"
the sound you like by allowing random notes, which you then choose to keep
or discard. Eventually you come up with whatever beat, thrum, or rhythm
gets your heart beating and your feet moving. Of course, if you're truly
evil you'll give it to the kid of somebody you hate....
"It was 8 PM. So this is how it is, this is how it always happens in the 8
PM. Obscenity your 8 PM. With my last 50 lira I purchased some true and
honest wine; I took a pull from the bottle. It was good. It burned my mouth
and felt good and warm going down my esophagus and into my stomach. From
there it went to my kidneys and my bladder, and was good. I remembered then
when I last saw Tom Wolfe who was still a damn fine writer. It was in Paris
and we looked out the windows at the pyramid and drank wine in the 8 PM. It
was 8 PM and had been 8 PM for some time." This was the first prose our
Fill in six textboxes and create a parody of the master. Marvelous. It was
really 10:00 PM, but when we last saw Ernest he was still a damn fine
writer in Havana, Michigan, and wherever else it is good and honorable to
fight the bull.
Units of Measurement is just what the doctor (or economist, astronomer,
cartographer, or lawyer, perhaps) ordered for those who need to convert
English measurements to metric ones. It's also great for trivia. For
instance, you may have heard of petabytes and exabytes, but what's a
zettabyte or yottabyte? How far is a hubble? How much can a hogshead hold?
Or a keddah? Kudos to site author Russ Rowlett, Director of the Center for
Mathematics and Science Education at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, for his explanations of what, for laypersons, is too often
mathematical arcana. Rowlett includes "selected traditional units from
cultures other than English" along with a good dash of common sense.
Amateur science has always been popular, but of all its disciplines,
astronomy has produced some of the most astounding amateur discoveries.
This site really shines for the beginner, and keeps on twinkling for the
more seasoned galaxy-gazer. It's a great place to buy or sell equipment, or
to simply keep up with what the sky's doing this month. Some of the more
ambitious links take you to pages describing how to build your own
telescope using nothing but a glass of water and a ball of twine. Oh, wait
- our mistake. That's the MacGyver site....
This straightforwardly educational site aims at the school audience, and
was written by the same. The pages include a primer on biology, an account
of the general causes of extinction, and sections on specific endangered
species (Mars astronaut did not make the list). For example, around 10
million elephants chewed their way around Africa 400 years ago. As of 1990,
only 610,000 remained and the number is dropping. Every so often, you'll
find a little quiz so that if you've forgotten what it's like to be a
student, you can be reminded.
The newest version of Red Hat Linux comes with notable new features
including automated package updates over the Internet, the latest stable
kernel, KDE and GNOME window managers, fancier network installation
options, and the usual round of software package updates and security fixes.