NETSURFER DIGEST
More Signal, Less Noise
Volume 05, Issue 32
Saturday, October 09, 1999

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BREAKING SURF
Slashdot Meets Jane's: The Birth of Collective Journalism?
Phantom Russian Crackers Exist Only In Media Imagination
On the Other Hand, This One Russian Site...
Linux Myths and Exposing Microsoft to Art
Brooklyn Museum Exhibit
Must-See Travel
Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink! Monty Python at 30
The Internet Turns 30
DocSpace, Your Secure Online Hard Disk
Intellectual Property Auction Network
ONLINE CULTURE
A Critique of the Bazaar, with a Postscript by Godwin
Owning Your Words: One CEO's Story from the WELL
The Care and Feeding of Online Journalists, Mk II
Personalization - the Future of Online Marketing
Watching Hate
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Fonts of All Wisdom
David Delamare's Fantasy Art
Absolut-ly Crazy
BOOKS & E-ZINES
Netsurfer Recommendations
The Bad Hemingway Engine
SURFING SCIENCE
A Site Obviously Not Required for NASA's Rocket Science
Amateur Astronomy Directory
Endangered Species of the Next Millennium
SOFTWARE
Red Hat 6.1 Released
OTHER LINKS
BOOK REVIEWS
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Contact and Subscription Information
Credits


BREAKING SURF

Slashdot Meets Jane's: The Birth of Collective Journalism?

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.
Original: http://jir.janes.com/sample/jir0499.html
Call: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/10/04/0836212&mode=thread
Decision: http://slashdot.org/features/99/10/07/120249.shtml

Phantom Russian Crackers Exist Only In Media Imagination

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.
http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~crypt/other/harbor.htm

On the Other Hand, This One Russian Site...

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".
http://www.sans.org/newlook/resources/flashadv.htm

Linux Myths and Exposing Microsoft to Art

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.
Linux Myths: http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/news/msnw/LinuxMyths.asp
Linux Fund: http://linuxfund.org/refund/

Brooklyn Museum Exhibit

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 frothy about.
Museum: http://www.brooklynart.org/
BowieNet: http://www.davidbowie.com/sensation/
Yahoo: http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/fc/Local/Rudolph_Giuliani/

Must-See Travel

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.
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/intro.html

Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink! Monty Python at 30

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!
BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/special_report/1999/10/99/monty_python/
Stone Dead: http://www.stone-dead.asn.au/mainpage.htm

The Internet Turns 30

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.
http://iday.hypermart.net/

DocSpace, Your Secure Online Hard Disk

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.
http://www.docspace.com/

Intellectual Property Auction Network

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.
http://ipnetwork.com/

ONLINE CULTURE

A Critique of the Bazaar, with a Postscript by Godwin

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.
Raymond: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3_3/raymond/index.html
Bezroukov: http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_10/bezroukov/index.html
Response: http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/response-to-bezroukov.html
Godwin's Law: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/legends/godwin/

Owning Your Words: One CEO's Story from the WELL

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.
Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/daily/oct99/online7.htm
Slashdot: http://slashdot.org/articles/99/10/07/094222.shtml
Well: http://www.well.com/

The Care and Feeding of Online Journalists, Mk II

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 now.
http://www.netpress.org/careandfeeding.html

Personalization - the Future of Online Marketing

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.
http://www.personalization.com/

Watching Hate

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.
http://www.hatewatch.org/

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The Fonts of All Wisdom

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.
http://typographic.rsub.com/

David Delamare's Fantasy Art

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 figures.
http://www.daviddelamare.com/

Absolut-ly Crazy

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.
http://www.absolutcollectors.com/

BOOKS & E-ZINES


Netsurfer Recommendations

Items our staff likes and you might too. Click on the image or title to order at a hefty discount from our affiliates Amazon.com and Beyond.com, and send a few pennies our way as well.

Maximum Linux Security: A Hacker's Guide to Protecting Your Linux Server and Network
Anonymous
Sams; ISBN: 0672316706

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 Internet.



Under the Radar: How Red Hat Changed the Software Business - And Took Microsoft by Surprise
Robert Young, Wendy Goldman Rohm
The Coriolis Group; ISBN: 1576105067

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 stories.



Young British Art: The Saatchi Decade
Dick Price
Harry N Abrams; ISBN: 0810963892

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 dung.



BioDrummer V1.1 (Downloadable)
Win95/98/NT Software
TripToys

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....



The Bad Hemingway Engine

"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 reviewer generated through Bad Hemingway Story Creation with JavaScript. 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.
http://www.unh.edu/NIS/Courses/JS3min/Demos/bad-hemingway.html

SURFING SCIENCE

A Site Obviously Not Required for NASA's Rocket Science

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.
http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/index.html

Amateur Astronomy Directory

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....
http://www.astrosights.com/

Endangered Species of the Next Millennium

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.
http://library.advanced.org/25014/

SOFTWARE

Red Hat 6.1 Released

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.
http://www.redhat.com/about/1999/press_sixone.html


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CREDITS
Publisher: Arthur Bebak
Editor: Lawrence Nyveen
Contributing Editor:
Production Manager: Bill Woodcock
Copy Editor: Elvi Dalgaard

Netsurfer Communications, Inc.

  • President: Arthur Bebak
  • Vice President: S.M. Lieu

Writers and Netsurfers:
  • Sue Abbott
  • Regan Avery
  • Kirsty Brooks
  • Judith David
  • Joanne Eglash
  • Alex Jablokow
  • Michael Luke
  • James Porteous
  • Elizabeth Rollins
  • Kenneth Schulze
  • Jonathan Turton

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