TBTF for 11/3/98: Smash race

Keith Dawson (dawson@world.std.com)
Tue, 3 Nov 1998 16:38:27 -0600


TBTF for 11/3/98: Smash race

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This issue: < http://tbtf.com/archive/11-03-98.html >

C o n t e n t s

German Internet users stage a strike
The Halloween Document
ICANN moves forward
Massive Mexican schools project chooses Linux
Windows 2000 name snafu
Hacker site compromised
Quick bits
Standard agreed for 1.5 Mbps modems
A patent for quantum computer technology
Smash race

..German Internet users stage a strike

"A company cannot survive economically if it places itself against
the customers"

Thousands of Internet users in Germany supported a strike on Sunday
1 November against the high rates charged by Deutsche Telekom for
local phone calls [1]. German Net users pay phone bills as high as
$100 - $200 per month -- that's on top of ISP charges. Hendrik
Levsen <hendrik@levsen.org>, who sent me a note about the strike,

> Deutsche Telekom, which has a de-facto monopoly in the local
> loop, charges $3.50 an hour by daytime, $2 in the evening,
> and still a whopping $1.50 at night time... checking your
> email (takes 5 seconds) costs 7 cents every time. Serious
> Internet users... get wet eyes here when we are looking
> towards the US.

The action was proposed by Thomas von Triechel, a college student,
and was modelled on a similar strike last September in Spain. Net
users there convinced telephone provider Telefonica to offer a 60%
discount for the Net. The German strike was supported by some ISPs
and the publisher Heintz Heise [2] (English-speaking readers, feed
this URL to the Babelfish [3]). By one report, German Net traffic
was 25% lower on 1 November than on a typical Sunday [4]. Later
reports [5] had supporters claiming a 70% dip and Deutsche Telekom
saying the day was absolutely normal. The organizers have called
for continuing strikes each Sunday until Deutsche Telekom offers
what they consider fair rates -- local calls for Internet access
at a maximum of DM 1.0 (about 61 cents) per hour with a cap of DM
100 per month.

[1] http:/www.gamespy.de/internetstreik/index.html
[2] http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/jo-30.10.98-000/
[3] http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/translate?
[4] http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/jo-02.11.98-000/
[5] http://www.thestandard.net/articles/article_print/0,1454,2290,00.html

..The Halloween Document

Whose trick, whose treat?

Someone anonymously sent to Eric Raymond an internal Microsoft memo
purporting to detail the company's view of Linux and the Open Source
movement. Raymond, a grand old man in the world of Open Source since
his article The Cathedral and the Bazaar [6] influenced Netscape's
decision to open up the source code for Communicator, spent the Hal-
loween weekend annotating the memo and has posted it on the Web [7].
Raymond says:

> It is in recognition of the date, and my fond hope that pub-
> lishing it will help realize Microsoft's worst nightmares,
> that I named it the "Halloween Document."

Microsoft has confirmed that the document, titled "Open Source Soft-
ware: A (New?) Development Methodology," is authentic. It was auth-
ored by an engineer, Vinod Valloppillil -- referred to in the memo
as VinodV, in the Microsoft style. It reads as if intended for the
eyes of Bill Gates. At the end are the names of 20 Microsofties who
contributed to or reviewed drafts of the document, including exec-
utives as high up as James Allchin. A Microsoft spokesman said the
document had circulated widely within the company since August.

Eric Raymond evidently believes the Halloween Document was sent to
him by an Open Source sympathizer inside Microsoft. Another inter-
pretation is possible. The NY Times's coverage [8] (free registra-
tion and cookies required) suggests that the memo could have been
leaked as part of Microsoft's trial strategy. It surely bolsters
the company's contention that it faces serious threats to its mar-
ket dominance. Dan Gillmor's analysis [9] makes the same point
more strongly.

Some memorable quotes picked out by Raymond:

- OSS [the term used for Open Source Software -- ed.] is long-
term credible... FUD tactics [Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt -- ed.]
can not be used to combat it.

- The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the col-
lective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is
simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelization scales
with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangel-
ization efforts appear to scale.

- Linux and other OSS advocates are making a progressively more
credible argument that OSS software is at least as robust --
if not more [sic] -- than commercial alternatives. The Internet
provides an ideal, high-visibility showcase for the OSS world.

- OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server
applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized,
simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing
new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market.

[6] http://www.ccil.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-paper.html
[7] http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/halloween.html
[8] http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/11/biztech/articles/03memo.html
[9] http://www.mercurycenter.com/columnists/gillmor/docs/dg110398.htm

..ICANN moves forward

Names interim board, schedules public meeting

The organization that is in line to inherit oversight of Internet
naming and numbering [10] on 26 October named an interim CEO and
board of directors [11]. Some have criticized the move as inappro-
priate before the Department of Commerce's criticisms of ICANN are
addressed; but the interim chairman, Esther Dyson, argues that a
board was necessary to give the organization a concrete face, and
the government someone with whom to negotiate. The interim offi-
cials are:

Michael M. Roberts (US)

Esther Dyson (US), Chairman
Geraldine Capdeboscq (France)
George H. Conrades (US)
Gregory L. Crew (Australia)
Frank Fitzsimmons (US)
Hans Kraaijenbrink (The Netherlands)
Jun Murai (Japan)
Eugenio Triana (Spain)
Linda S. Wilson (US)

Executive Committee:
Esther Dyson
Gregory L. Crew
Hans Kraaijenbrink
Michael M. Roberts

See the bottom of [11] for capsule biographies.

ICANN has announced an open, public meeting to be held in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, USA on Saturday 14 November. Details are at [12], reg-
istration and comment form at [13]. ICANN plans similar meetings in
various locations around the world over the coming year.

[10] http://tbtf.com/archive/10-19-98.html#s01
[11] http://www.thestandard.net/articles/article_print/0,1454,2251,00.html
[12] http://www.iana.org/icann-pr02nov98.html
[13] http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/icann/sign-up.html

..Massive Mexican schools project chooses Linux

Are heads rolling in the aisles at Redmond?

Mexico's entire school system has decided to go with Linux [14]. The
Scholar Net project will eventually wire 140,000 school labs with
Linux systems. The real impact will be felt once the pipeline fills
and Mexican schools begin churning out 1 or 2 million Linux experts
per year. Thanks to Eric Scheid for the heads-up and to Greg Roelofs
for the BOTEC.

[14] http://www.gnome.org/mailing-lists/archives/gnome-list/1998-October/1298.html

..Windows 2000 name snafu

Heads should definitely be rolling in the aisles at Redmond

What was your first reaction when you heard that Microsoft had re-
named Windows NT 5.0 to "Windows 2000?" Mine, too. It has been sur-
mised [15] that the entire Windows 2000 push is a hurry-up marketing
reaction to Sun's announcement that its 64-bit Solaris operating
system will be available a year before the next rev of NT. Lending
credence to this theory, it develops that one Robert Kerstein has
owned the trademark on the name Windows 2000 for the last 30 months
[16]. There's a Web site too [17], offering "live cam views from a-
round the world." Microsoft apparently didn't even check. Thanks
to Jon Callas <jon@callas.org> for the forward.

[15] http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/stories/columns/0,4351,368773,00.html
[16] http://www.g2news.com/index.html
[17] http://www.windows2000.com/

..Hacker site compromised

The defacing of Rootshell.com leads to a food fight

On 29 October crackers broke into the Rootshell site [18] and re-
placed its top page with this one [19]. Rootshell is a source for
hackers' tools and exploits, as well as security information and
tools. Rumors circulated (and were debated and denied in the ab-
sense of any real knowledge) that the crack had been accomplished
via a buffer overflow in Secure Shell (ssh) version 1.2.26. The
developers of ssh have denied that any such was possible [20], but
said their analysis had turned up a possible problem in either
the Linux operating system or the GCC compiler that might be ex-
ploitable through sshd. Meanwhile Rootshell's Kit Knox posted a
security bulletin [21] calling into question the Finnish protes-
tations, and quoting in full an unpublished advisory being devel-
oped at the IBM Emergency Response Service, who are working with
the ssh developers. IBM-ERS protested mightily [22].

[18] http://www.rootshell.com/
[19] http://www.ishiboo.com/~cjp/rootshell/index.html
[20] http://www.ssh.fi/sshprotocols2/rootshell.html
[21] http://www.rootshell.com/mailinglist-archive/rs-25
[22] http://www.rootshell.com/beta/news.html

..Quick bits

..Standard agreed for 1.5 Mbps modems

The ITU in record time has agreed to a new proposed standard called
G.Lite [23]. The standard may offer ADSL-like speeds, up to 1.5 MBps,
by next year over existing copper phone lines. G.Lite is the product
of a wide-ranging coalition of technology companies who want to see
ADSL succeed (and some who hope to slow the adoption of cable modems).
G.Lite devices should be more nearly plug-and-play than current ADSL
offerings, which usually require the local phone company to "roll a
truck" for installation.

TBTF first fingered ADSL for a significant player in the spread of
cheap bandwidth in July 1995 [24].

[23] http://www.pcworld.com/pcwtoday/article/0,1510,8546,00.html
[24] http://tbtf.com/archive/07-30-95.html

..A patent for quantum computer technology

Greg Aharonian's Internet Patent News Service carried word that IBM
has recently been granted patent number 5,793,091 [25], "Parallel
architecture for quantum computers using ion trap arrays." It ref-
erences two prior US patents for technology that could underlie the
construction of a practical quantum computer.

[25] http://www.patents.ibm.com/patlist?icnt=US&patent_number=5793091&x=30&y=11

..Smash race

2,500 pigeons went missing in two separate races

On 5 October, 90% of the birds in two East Coast pigeon races fail-
ed to return to their lofts. 1800 pigeons vanished out of 2000 in a
race from Virginia to Allentown, PA; 700 of 900 were lost in a sep-
arate race from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. No one knows why. Pigeon
racers call such an occurrence a "smash race." It is rare. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that smash races sometimes precede large earth-
quakes, not necessarily in the locale where the birds went missing.
The largest smash race in Bay Area history occurred 3 days before a
massive earthquake in Alaska, in March 1964. Perhaps a building
earthquake perturbs the earth's magnetic field (though it is not
known for certain that homing pigeons depend on the magnetic field).
Jim Berkland is a geologist with a specialty in earthquake predic-
tion. I do not know in what esteem his views are held among his
peers, but a fair guess would be "faint." Berkland is featured in
the recent book "California Fault: Searching for the Spirit of a
State Along the San Andreas" [26], which seems to be as much about
eccentrics as it is about earthquakes. Berkland supposedly posted
a quake prediction based on the October smash races. I was unable
to find it in the less than pellucid organization of his site [27],
but here is a note from him and an AP wire story [28] on the subject.
They're hosted on the site of a UFO investigator who has a radio
program, for what that's worth. Thanks to Keith Bostic for word on
this still unsolved mystery.

Postscript -- the executive director of the American Racing Pigeon
Union told me that some 40% of the birds straggled home over the
10 days following the October smash races.

[26] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345409086/tbtf/
[27] http://www.syzygyjob.com/
[28] http://www.sightings.com/earthchanges/pigeons.htm

N o t e s

> I've just bought my first Wintel machine for personal use. It's a
Sony Vaio 505 GX subnotebook with Windows 98 preinstalled. (That
will change quick.) 64 MB, 4.3 GB, an inch thick, 3 pounds, ac-
tive-matrix screen, and 5-1/2 hours of battery life. How cute is
it? "To die for" probably understates it. "To traverse the Karmic
cycle for" maybe comes close.

S o u r c e s

> For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see
http://tbtf.com/sources.html .

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Keith Dawson dawson@world.std.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

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