TBTF for 1997-08-11: Spam-free or die
Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Sun, 10 Aug 1997 20:15:11 -0400
Apple's new partner
I went to MacWorld Expo on Friday for old times' sake. The peak
excitement was happening in the booth of Be Inc.; I left with a copy
of the Be OS on a CD-ROM.
Steve Jobs did the best he could for Apple. No other move could have
lent the company such support -- "removed the stink of death," as
one analyst put it. The image that ran in all the newspapers was
unfortunate: a 40-foot televised head of Gates towering over a live,
but merely mortal, Jobs. If Gates had walked onstage in person the
message would have been wholly different. This is what I had
expected to happen based on anticipatory rumors. Adding to the Orwellian
overtones of that image, on Friday Apple re-appointed TBWA Chiat/
Day, the ad agency responsible for its groundbreaking "1984" spot
. Wall Street liked the Microsoft partnership : Apple stock
gained over 50% in the days following the announcement. (One person
of my acquaintence, lacking the courage of his convictions, now
kicks himself for having bought a mere 100 shares of Apple after
Amelio resigned.) The stock has since settled by 10%, but is still
at its highest point in over a year . Apple's new MacOs 8, which
shipped on-time and bug-free, is the company's fastest-selling
product ever, shipping 1.2 million copies in its first two weeks .
The clone makers aren't partaking of the OS8 bounty yet, as the
parties are still negotiating over licensing terms. Persistent rumor in
the weeks following Amelio's departure hinted that Steve Jobs was
applying brakes to Apple's licensing strategy. It was said that Jobs
favored moving the company in the direction of the Network PC (Larry
Ellison's appointment to Apple's board has done nothing to dispel
What does the deal mean for Microsoft?
- It has riven the anti-Microsoft camp, leaving Sun, Oracle, and
Netscape more exposed; the announcement that Apple will bundle
the Internet Explorer browser is the icing on the iron wedge.
- It has innoculated Microsoft against antitrust investigations.
- It has assured Gates the ability to strangle Apple's infant
NeXT-based operating system in its cradle. Rhapsody was nowhere
men tioned in the deal.
- It raises the possibility that Apple might assist, or at least
acquiesce, in Microsoft's campaign to kill Java as a viable cross-platform
development language . Microsoft has announced that
it will not ship Sun's Java Foundation Classes with its operating
systems. Here is Microsoft VP Paul Maritz in an interview with
Computerworld . Customer-friendly it isn't.
: But say there's an electronic-commerce application that
somebody wants to run cross-platform, and that's why
they picked Java. And they use the JFCs to write it.
Maritz: Good luck.
CW: It's not going to run in Internet Explorer.
Maritz: It may or may not. But the point is, that's Sun's
problem. It's not our problem.
We'll give the last word to Forbes ASAP's George Gilder:
> With a $250 million check, Mr. Gates has managed to change the
> subject in the press from Microsoft's Java battle to a long-past
> conflict over desktop operating systems. But he has not shifted
> the tides of change. He has merely embarrassed Oracle's Mr. Elli-
> son by increasing the price of any purchase of Apple, and he has
> trumped Netscape by buying dominance for the Microsoft browser
> in the next Apple operating system.
Thanks to Mark Baker and Dan Kohn, who will recognize some of their
thinking in the foregoing analysis.
Second-class search results
Back in March John Pike raised a fuss
about the indexing
policies of Alta Vista, which at that time indexed only a small
fraction of the pages in large sites -- the unwritten policy seemed to
be a maximum of 300 pages for any site except the most popular ones.
Pike's Federation of American Scientists site had 6,000 pages at the
time and by dint of constant submittals to Alta Vista managed to get
600 of them indexed. Today the FAS site has grown to 13,000 pages,
and Alta Vista has (apparently) changed its policy again, this time
limiting pages listed to 40 -- responding to the continuing growth
of the Web by sampling ever-thinner slices of it. Pike initially
surmised that the limitation applied to .org sites, but in fact it's
more widespread than that. Alta Vista lists 40 pages for tbtf.com
(the nerve!) and for some other .com sites I checked. The TBTF site
has over 200 pages, and Alta Vista used to list most of them (albeit
not up-to-date). Here are the numbers of pages Alta Vista returned
recently from a selection of searches for url:xxx.yyy
|epic.org ||40||harvard.net ||~||616
|vtw.org ||40||eff.org ||~||911
|patents.com ||40||w3.org ||~||3905
|polymer.com ||40||netscape.com ||~||4517
|polymers.com ||40||sun.com ||~||4831
|tbtf.com ||40||yahoo.com ||~||32582
|internic.net ||41||stanford.edu ||~||49274
The number of visitors who arrive at TBTF from Alta Vista has dropped
noticably in the last month, and the 40-page rule may explain why. I
invited Alta Vista's architect, Louis Monier <monier at pa dot dec dot com>, to
elaborate on the search site's indexing policy, but he did not respond.
"Death penalty" imposed on UUNet for condoning spam
A group of activist Usenet administrators imposed the Usenet Death
on UUNet Technologies, the Net's
largest backbone carrier. All Usenet postings originating from
UUNet addresses were cancelled over a period of more than a week.
The UDP was imposed because activists viewed UUNet as insufficiently
responsive and vigilant in fighting spam, both email and newsgroup.
The final straw leading to the UDP was a message, now identified as
a forgery, purporting to be from a UUNet administrator and stating
that UUNet "does not have the resources" to deal with spam and that
"other, more important matters take priority" 
. UUNet says that
its antispam policies have always been tough, and blamed the problem
on its downstream ISP customers, including Earthlink and the
Microsoft Network. The penalty was lifted when UUNet announced that it
was adding three strict new policies against spammers 
insisting that its actions were not inspired by the UDP or the
resulting national publicity. Uh-huh, yeh right. UUNet rumbled about
taking legal action against the blockers, but was vague about what
laws might have been broken.
Java Mischief bug affects MSIE, Netscape, HotJava
This bug was discovered by Ben Mesander <ben at tiki-lounge dot com> in
Microsoft's implementation of the Java Virtual Machine in Internet
The bug allows a Java applet to establish a TCP/IP connection
to an arbitrary host, something that should be impossible under
Java's security model. Mesander's exploit page is here  and
Microsoft's response here . So far there is no fix for the bug.
Mesander discovered on investigating further that the same or a
similar bug may be present in the Netscape and HotJava
implementations of the Java VM as well. Netscape is vulnerable only in
certain HTTP proxy configurations. HotJava and MSIE are susceptible
to subversion of their Java class loaders. The Macintosh platform
is not affected.
Java Mischief becomes #12 in the TBTF list  of Microsoft security
exploits uncovered in 1997. Thanks to Glen McCready for the forward.
Policy Oversight Committee to expand
Continuing its stance of responsiveness to community suggestions,
the group overseeing the IAHC process to expand the supply of
domain names announced last week that it will enlarge its policy
. By the end of 1997 the POC could expand by 3 or 4
members to include representatives from the ISP community and other
In the Gulf of Mexico, five hundred meters deep, colonies of eyeless
worms swarm over sea-floor outcroppings of methane ice 
knew? The ice worms form part of a previously undiscovered but
hypothesized deep-sea ecosystem. Scientists believe that the worms are
grazing on or living symbiotically with bacteria that colonize the
ice mounds. Methane ice forms naturally at the high pressure and low
temperature of the deep sea, but is normally buried in marine sediment.
The Gulf of Mexico is one of the few places where the ice can be found
exposed on the ocean bottom, occasionally in mounds six to eight feet
Paul Saffo, resident futurist at SRI, gave a talk at the CFP
conference last March on his vision of the Next Big Thing:
micro-electromechanical systems, or MEMS. It turns out that the talk had
been premiered at the Millenium Conference several weeks before 
Here is a summary, from the science-week mailing list, of a 7/26
Science News article on MEMS. The article itself is not online; the
magazine posts only a small selection of its content.
> Material utilizing microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) is
> almost sentient in that is can sense (strain, temperature,
> pressure, motion, etc.), actuate (push, squeeze, deflect,
> switch, etc.), communicate (with fibers, antennas, wires,
> etc.), and calculate (with microprocessors). Machines or
> even arrays of millimeter and micron-sized machines on a
> chip, made with integrated-circuit technology, are still
> at an early stage of deployment, but researchers foresee a
> micro-industrial revolution: clouds of meteorological smart
> dust sent to keep an eye on a hurricane, programmable sili-
> con cilia to sort blood cells or position tiny machine parts,
> and microflaps to control a plane's wing shape.
Note added 1997-08-11:
Fred Baube <fred at kirjasto dot kaarina dot fi> writes to remind us
that Neal Stephenson's novel The
provides an engrossing look at a society in which "smart dust" technology is old news.
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Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.
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