Thursday, March 09, 2000
3/9/00 12:41:48 PM
"...shatters the last-mile bottleneck into shards of light."
TeraBeam Networks put out this press
release today in advance of their coming-out party next Monday at
the PC Forum in Scotsdale. The title of this item comes from the George Gilder
Truly revolutionary, shatters the last-mile bottleneck into shards
The press release announces the appointment of AT&T veteran Dan Hesse,
the father of the Digital One Rate plan, as president and CEO.
No details about TeraBeam's technology are available on their
site -- it's still stealth-mode
minimal. But the press release alludes to "a Fiberless Optics
network with imminent potential to eliminate the last-mile
bottleneck of today's bandwidth-intensive networks," and says that
the company will wire(less) the PC Forum conference, providing
gigabits per second connectivity.
patent (note: PDF format), published on 27 January, gives a few
Communication can be point-to-point, point-to-multipoint,
multipoint-to-point, or multipoint-to-multipoint, and the
point-to-multipoint communication can be broadcast, simulcast, or
Many thanks to Brian Atkins <brian at posthuman dot com> for
the rare opportunity to scoop Slashdot.
3/9/00 11:43:10 AM
Domain-name arbitor with a conflict of interest?
is one of three online arbitrators
by ICANN to resolve cybersquatting cases and other disputes over domain
names. The company is currently handling a complaint filed against
one Ravi Lohti, purported cybersquatter. At the same time,
eResolution.ca has filed a complaint with another certified
arbitrator, WIPO, against Mr. Lohti over possession of the domain
name eResolution.com. (Separately, eResolution.ca has begun
another arbitration process through a New York firm alleging breach
of contract by Mr. Lohti. eResolution.ca asserts that Mr. Lohti
agreed to sell it the domain-name for $7,500.)
in Canada's National Post gives the details, quoting Mr. Lohti's
lawyer thus: "The first thing that jumps into your mind is
conflict of interest."
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Ted Byfield for the heads-up.
[Note added 2000-03-10, 9:35 am:]
Brian McWilliams wrote to note his
on complaints -- by eResolution.ca and others -- of a basic flaw in the
3/9/00 10:57:58 AM
Amazon patent developments.
Amazon.com has come under fire from many quarters for its portfolio
of technology patents and the use to which the company puts them.
(See this recent TBTF Log item for
my own reaction to Amazon's patent policies.)
After Tim O'Reilly's open
letter to Jim Bezos was published and 10,000 people added their opinions
to it, Bezos called O'Reilly and a
ensued. O'Reilly is hopeful that he can move Amazon.com's patent policy
in a direction more in keeping with the company's own longstanding
cultural values of innovation and openness.
To help us keep in view just how specious Amazon.com's business-model
patents actually are, Monty Solomon sent this
to a patent issued last fall to Amazon.com. It's for a Method and system
for placing a purchase order via a communications network.
The order is placed by a purchaser at a client system and
received by a server system. The server system receives
purchaser information including identification of the
purchaser, payment information, and shipment information from
the client system. The server system then assigns a client
identifier to the client system and associates the assigned
client identifier with the received purchaser information. The
server system sends to the client system the assigned client
identifier and an HTML document identifying the item and
including an order button. The client system receives and
stores the assigned client identifier and receives and
displays the HTML document. In response to the selection of
the order button, the client system sends to the server system
a request to purchase the identified item...
A patent on placing an order over the Net, assisted by a cookie.
I'm reduced to spluttering.
[Note added 2000-03-10, 9:19 am:]
Amazon's Jeff Bezos has published a
to the Net reflecting where his thinking on patents is going after
three long conversations with Tim O'Reilly. Bottom line: Amazon will
keep its patents and will enforce them selectively. Bezos will work for
patent reform: a recognition that software and method-of-business patents
are different and should operate under different rules. He proposes a 3-5
year lifetime for such a patent, not 17 years, with a 1-month public comment
period before such patents issue. He wants to make the 3-5-year lifetime
retroactive to all issued software and MoB patents. Amazon will fund and
host a prior-art database.
Good words, good ideas. I'll wait for Amazon's actions before I'll consider
moving back into their fold.
Tuesday, March 07, 2000
3/7/00 9:25:52 PM
Sprint PCS leaks your cell number when you surf.
Not many people browse the Web yet on their cell phones, but we're
assured that the coming explosion of m-commerce is a foregone
conclusion. Kevin Manley, a software developer in Seattle, is one of
the pioneers. He discovered by accident that each site he visited using
his Sprint PCS phone got a copy of his phone number in their server log.
up Manley's discovery for the San Francisco Chronicle. Wallack
reports that other wireless Web providers may have a similar privacy
leak. AT&T in particular wouldn't answer his questions, but only
said that no customers had complained (how would they know to?).
Bell Atlantic and AirTouch are clean.
The privacy leakage is caused,
indirectly, by the micro-browser software, developed by Phone.com,
that most of the wireless carriers use. Phone.com requires a unique
ID for each customer it serves pages to; and guess what the most
convenient unique ID is? For its part, Phone.com recommends that in
the name of privacy its customers obscure or randomize the
customers' phone numbers. Not all carriers do so.
3/7/00 10:47:45 AM
Crash Windows now.
This is very bad. Windows 95, 98, and SE reportedly will crash hard
upon trying to parse specially constructed path strings that refer to
device drivers such as CON or NUL. See this
hosted by the bug's discoverers. Here's their short-form description
of the problem:
It seems that the Windows98 kernel is going berserk upon
processing paths that are made up of "old" (read: MS DOS)
Microsoft has been notified. No official fix is yet available, but the
bug's investigators propose a hack to IO.SYS that could be used in
To get an idea of the danger this bug represents, consider that simply
reading an email or viewing a Web page or a Usenet posting could instantly
reduce your Windows machine to dumb silicon. The author of such a hypothetical
email, page, or posting would merely need to include an <IMG> tag
and specify one of the offending strings following "src=". I will do all
of you Windows users a favor and not include such an image here.
Credit for finding and investigating this bug is assigned as follows
on the advisory page:
Initial "con" bug found in Internet Explorer by Suigien.
Remote Crashing using FTPd, HTTPd, EMail, Usenet by Zoa_Chien
Path0s, Necrite, Elias and ToSH.
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Eric Scheid for quick notification on this
[Note added 2000-03-17, 10:53 am:]
Microsoft has issued a patch fixing this problem: