TBTF for 9/29/97: An innocent by-sender
T a s t y B i t s f r o m t h e T e c h n o l o g y F r o n t
Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994
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This issue: < http://www.tbtf.com/archive/09-29-97.html >
C o n t e n t s
House committee rejects domestic crypto restrictions
Don't say ActiveX, say Windows DNA
Emendation: the Java rebellion was exaggerated
Caught in a spam crossfire
Domain naming news
Mach 0.92 on dry land
A new newsletter and a term of art
..House committee rejects domestic crypto restrictions
The Oxley amendment is gored in the Commerce Committee
The House Commerce Committee, by a vote of 35-16, last week rejected
the much-disparaged Oxley amendment  to the crypto-friendly SAFE
bill, which would have mandated building an instant backdoor into all
domestic crypto products . Another amendment was substituted whose
import is to reject mandated key recovery and to relax export con-
trols, in keeping with the original spirit of SAFE, which in its ori-
ginal form had the sponsorship of an absolute majority of members of
the House. On Tuesday the chairman of the Rules committee, which will
decide which if any of the various bills called "SAFE" reaches a vote
of the full House, circulated a letter saying that no bill would be
allowed to reach the floor that did not include Oxley-like language.
It looks unlikely in the extreme that any flavor of crypto legisla-
tion will emerge from the House in this session.
..Don't say ActiveX, say Windows DNA
What was OLE became ActiveX and is now DNA. It subsumes COM+.
Microsoft stopped talking about OLE (object linking and embedding),
the name of its original desktop object cooperation technology,
early in 1996 as its Internet strategy was being clarified. OLE was
out, ActiveX was in: same technology, with a few additions to hook
in the world of the Net. As of last week, Redmond doesn't want you
saying "ActiveX" any more; instead say "Windows DNA" (Distributed
Net Applications) . It may be a coincidence that Microsoft drops
"ActiveX" at the point when its critics had succeeded in linking
the name inextricably with the security problems caused by the
forced marriage of desktop and Net. It may be a coincidence that
the new marketing name for Microsoft's object strategy is the same
as the name of the building block for all known life. All mention
of ActiveX was expunged from microsoft.com on 9/23 as Microsoft VP
Paul Maritz introduced the nomenclature for the company's next-
generation enterprise architecture  at its developers' confer-
ence in San Diego.
Windows DNA is the new marketing name for the technologies based on
COM, or Component Object Model, which has underlain Microsoft's
object strategy for years now, back through the reigns of ActiveX
and OLE, back to the time when Microsoft and IBM were working in
concert on operating systems. This new repackaging of COM (according
to skeptics), or this next version of COM (according to Microsoft),
has been dubbed COM+ . It will be available in early form to
developers at the end of this year and finalized a year later. COM+,
as exposed through Microsoft-supplied software development tools,
promises to ease the developer's task by unifying and simplifying
access to what had been a disparate range of services.
DNA is Microsoft's answer to CORBA (common object request broker
architecture), a widely supported object interaction model devel-
oped by an open consortium of hundreds of companies since the late
80s. (Microsoft is a member of the Object Management Group, shep-
herd of CORBA, and has proposed COM-based technologies a number of
times for consideration as standards under the CORBA umbrella. None
of these overtures has succeeded.) COM+ is also part of Microsoft's
answer to Java. An article in the Microsoft Systems Journal (teaser
at ) claims that developers using COM+ will be able to get all
of the advantages of Java (the language) along with added flexibi-
lity in Windows environments.
Last July Bill Gurley's <firstname.lastname@example.org> "Above the
Crowd" feature  proposed that the real battle to watch will be
that between CORBA's IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol) and what
was then called DCOM, now COM+. He who controls the interface to
OS and network services indeed controls the future. Gurley's arti-
cle ends with speculation on the emergence of an even higher level
abstraction layer, one which would be useful to companies supply-
ing enterprise integration software -- e.g. SAP, Baan, and CA.
Oddly enough, when announcing DNA Microsoft claimed support for
the initiative from precicely that roster of companies .
In June Marc Andreesen predicted  that Microsoft would, in the
end, capitulate to the almost-universal standards push and adopt
IIOP. Oops. In August Christopher Stone  -- founder, chairman,
president, and CEO of the Object Management Group -- left OMG to
take up a position as senior VP at Novell .
..Emendation: the Java rebellion was exaggerated
Investigation reveals that the perfect Net fable -- a Java developers'
uprising at a Microsoft's event -- may not have happened quite that way,
but the tale's popularity is revealing
The account  of French resistance to Microsoft's anti-Java mes-
sage was overblown. At the request of a reader, the IDG interna-
tional news service spoke to developers who attended the Paris con-
ference and came away with a conclusion about the affair that we can
summarize as: "A few people booed (the Sun author being one of them)
and a few people left." Thanks to Mark Gibbs <email@example.com> for
the correction. The IDG article is available here .
Don't take this emendation to mean that developers approve Micro-
soft's backing away from Java. They don't, according to a grass-
roots organization -- the Java Lobby  -- that has recently
sprung up. Its founder, Rick Ross, speaks for 3800+ software de-
velopers who have joined in the last month when he says : "We
are asking Bill Gates, as a group of developers -- a group that
Microsoft has said it always will listen to -- to reaffirm [his]
public commitment to support the Java core platform."
On 9/12 the Microsoft was reported  to be in the process of re-
moving all Java applets, and indeed all mention of Java, from its
site. The webmaster of microsoft.com didn't completely rule out
the possibility that Java might one day appear on his site, but
said it would be considered on a "case-by-case basis where it makes
good business sense."
I continue to be astonished at the popularity of the "Go Java" fable.
By the time I had posted an emendation , in the afternoon of the
day of publication, the Paris account had already broken the TBTF
one-day record for visitors. The page is the most popular I've ever
put up on TBTF. It has been linked from several high-profile Java
sites and from numerous individual pages and newsgroups around the
world; it is on track to appear in a major print publication (stay
tuned). What conclusions can be drawn from the fable's popularity?
It may be acting as a lightning rod for a growing, diffuse anti-
Microsoft sentiment. With more confidence I assert that "Go Java"
appeals to a vast constituency that wishes Java to succeed and does
not in the least appreciate Microsoft's efforts to belittle and con-
..Caught in a spam crossfire
An Ohio ISP is unfairly lumped with deliberate spammers; TBTF
tries to make amends
The proprietors of an apparently reputable small Ohio ISP, Marketing
Power Network , have gotten caught in the proliferation of unver-
ified lists of spammers. TBTF is among the guilty in this affair.
While I don't run an ongoing service that purports to list known
spammers, I have run stories on the subject (e.g, ); such a list
 persists on the TBTF site and is accessed, on average, roughly
a dozen times per week.
The Mpowernet owners sent mail explaining this situation to the Post-
master addresses at a large number of sites, of which TBTF was one.
They had to go to some lengths to get the mail through as a number of
systems have been configured to refuse all mail from Mpowernet.com
(it's on the list of known spammers, remember).
I have removed Mpowernet.com from the list  hosted here and have
posted their letter in full . My apologies and best wishes to
Marketing Power Network.
..Domain naming news
The iPOC/IAHC plan to reform domain names moves steadily ahead
as opposing forces gather strength
Tech Web carries an "unnamed source" story  claiming that a new
organization now forming will offer an alternative to the iPOC/IAHC
plan. The unnamed organization is said to plan a public unveiling
within three weeks. I've requested comment on this rumored organi-
zation from an iPOC/IAHC insider, but at press time do not have a
Wendy Grossman writes for Scientific American's Cyber View on domain
naming , concluding that more research is needed to come up with
the best way forward. The National Science Foundation, whose exclusive
contract with NSI is set to expire in March 1998, is likely to extend
that contract for six more months , a Commerce Department spokes-
man said last week.
Network Solutions Inc. is now NSOL  -- the company went public
last week ,  despite the blot on its escutcheon of an ongoing
Justice Department inquiry . The IPO was lively. The stock, which
was offered at $18, opened at $25 and closed its first day at $23.
..Mach 0.92 on dry land
Andy Green declines to pull a Buckaroo and sets a new speed record
In the desert north of Reno, Nevada, British fighter pilot Andy
Green claimed a new world land speed record . His run bested
by 74 mph the record set 14 years ago by his boss, Richard Noble.
Green pushed Noble's jet car "Thrust SSC"  to 700.661 mph on
the first of two timed runs down a 13-mile course, then dashed
the other way at 728.008 mph. Here's a 2-minute streaming video
 of the event; it requires the VXtreme plug-in . Visit
Noble's official Thrust SSC site here .
Noble's team beat out their only close conpetitor, Craig Breedlove,
who dropped out of the running today when his car, the Spirit of
America, tipped over  during a speed run. Breedlove was not
injured and managed to bring the Spirit of America to a safe stop,
but the car sustained damage. Breedlove had held the land speed rec-
ord 5 times between 1963 and 1965; he was the first man to achieve
400, then 500, then 600 mph on land. Breedlove's setback leaves
Noble in line to surpass his own record, possibly next month, in
the desert south of Amman, Jordan (the car arrived in Jordan on
As its name implies, the Thrust SSC was conceived with the inten-
tion of breaking the sound barrier on the ground. Thrust SSC is
52 feet long, weighs 10 tons, and delivers 110,000 horsepower from
twin Rolls Royce jet engines. This month's Scientific American fea-
tures a fine background piece on the competing vehicles, unfortun-
ately not available on the magazine's Web site.
..A new newsletter and a term of art
NetBITS bids to be the informative, authoritative source for the
Net-addicted; and its editor contributes to TBTF's Jargon Scout
We'll finish with two from Glenn Fleishman <firstname.lastname@example.org>. First,
pay a visit to Fleishman's new email/Web newsletter NetBITS ,
which is published by Adam Engst of TidBITS reknown. NetBITS aims to
provide practical Internet information to people who spend a lot of
time online. Judging by the first issue  NetBITS is right on
Second, savor Fleishman's contribution to Jargon Scout  -- an ir-
regular TBTF feature that aims to give you advance warning of jargon
that is just about ready to hatch into the Net's language. Fleishman
suggests referring to an SMTP host pressed into service unawares to
relay commercial spam as an "innocent by-sender."
S o u r c e s
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Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.
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