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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2000-10-21

11:49:14 PM
  • updated IETF issues RFC on cookies. A formal spec for the way cookies ought to behave, according to privacy advocates, has just been issued by the Internet Engineering Task Force. See RFC2965 'HTTP State Management Mechanism' (25 pp., by Dave Kristol, Bell Labs and Lou Montulli, formerly of Netscape, now of Epinions.com). Roger Clarke gives the historical background here -- explaining why it took so long to get a spec issued that considers user privacy from the get-go.

    here Note added 2000-10-23, 2:19:44 pm: David Chess calls our attention also to RFC 2964:

    The mechanisms described in "HTTP State Management Mechanism" (RFC-2965), and its predecessor (RFC-2109), can be used for many different purposes. However, some current and potential uses of the protocol are controversial because they have significant user privacy and security implications. This memo identifies specific uses of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) State Management protocol which are either (a) not recommended by the IETF, or (b) believed to be harmful, and discouraged. This memo also details additional privacy considerations which are not covered by the HTTP State Management protocol specification.

2000-10-19

5:12:07 PM
  • Downside: cash is king. I assume by now you've all seen f**kedcompany.com -- a spotlight on the predicted imminent demise of particular dot-coms based on rumors and recent news, with a whole lot of attitude. Now try Downside's deathwatch. No attitude at all, just projections from recent SEC 10-K and 10-Q filings. Deathwatch is an automated screen for money-losing companies running out of cash.

    Downside's Deathwatch is a cash-flow analysis. The death date is simply the day the company will run out of cash, based on their reported liquid assets and loss rate. When the cash runs out, something bad for stockholders has to happen.

    Here is a sampling of companies whose death date has passed. I could swear I have seen some of them in headlines involving acquisitions, mergers, and cutbacks.

      healtheon corp (HLTH)              Feb 18, 2000
      flashnet communications inc (PRGY) Apr  4
      at home corp (ATHM)                Jun  5
      value america inc /va (VUSA)       Jun  9
      drkoop com inc (KOOP)              Jun 25
      e loan inc (EELN)                  Jul  2
      fatbrain com inc (FATB)            Jul 11
      engage inc (ENGA)                  Jul 31
      digital lava inc (DGV)             Aug  6
      internet america inc (GEEK)        Aug  8
      ticketmaster online
       citysearch inc (TMCS)             Aug 19
      navisite inc (NAVI)                Sep  1, 2000
    

    And now a sampling from the future death dates.

      digital river inc (DRIV)           Nov 13, 2000
      cybercash inc (CYCH)               Nov 16
      theglobe com inc (TGLO)            Nov 20
      vitaminshoppe com inc (VSHP)       Dec 13
      juno online services inc (JWEB)    Dec 17
      quokka sports inc (QKKA)           Dec 18
      beyond com corp (BYND)             Jan  4, 2001
      planetrx com (PLRX)                Jan 24
      drugstore com inc (DSCM)           Jan 31
      etoys inc (ETYS)                   Mar 13
      amazon com inc (AMZN)              Mar 19
      salon com (SALN)                   Apr  2
      ask jeeves inc (ASKJ)              Apr 16
      mp3 com inc (MPPP)                 May  6
      ariba inc (ARBA)                   May 31
      goto com inc (GOTO)                Jun 12
      log on america inc (LOAX)          Sep 14
      n2h2 inc (NTWO)                    Sep 16, 2001
    

    Downside's perpetrator is not named on the site -- he refers to himself simply as "a contrarian in Silicon Valley." According to whois, that would be John Nagle of Menlo Park. He also holds two patents on 3D animation techniques and sells a product called Falling Bodies, a dynamics plug-in for softimage|3D.

    Many thanks to TBTF Irregular Monty Solomon for this valuable "investor's reality check."


2000-10-18

9:44:44 PM
    250 MYO bacteria
  • Bacteria revived after 250M years. Yesterday Nature published a paper by scientists who found ancient bacteria in salt deposits 2000 feet underground in New Mexico and brought them back to life in a sterile laboratory environment. [ BBC, CNN, AP ] Until this discovery, the oldest known living survivors were bacterial spores 25 to 40 million years old discovered in a bee preserved in amber.

    As the BBC piece points out, an organism that can live for 250M years in whatever conditions the earth throws at is could probably survive a journey across interstellar space aboard a chunk of rock.

9:38:34 AM
  • Stolen Enigma turns up. The rare crypto device, stolen from Bletchley Park last April, was mailed to Jeremy Paxman, anchor of a BBC nightly news program. The package had hung around the mailroom for several days. This story does not say whether a ransom was paid, but a reader can draw that inference. The BBC's coverage adds the detail that three of the machine's four encryption wheels were missing.

2000-10-16

9:27:22 AM
    MS Linux
  • MS Linux -- get it quick. These guys are skating on thin air. Catch this site quick before Microsoft's lawyers notice. The bogus MS Linux site -- "The premier Linux distro" -- not only uses Microsoft trademarks and graphics, it uses Microsoft's own bandwidth to serve them up. The first line in the HTML source is

    <BASE HREF="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/en/">

    The PR copy is just about pitch-perfect; you might be left wondering whether MS Linux is real if it weren't for other headlines on the page such as "Microsoft Invades Cuba." Oh, and the final paragraph in the description of this new Linux distribution:

    MS Linux is released under the provisions of the Gates Private License, which means you can freely use this Software on a single machine without warranty after having paid the purchase price and annual renewal fees.

    Thanks to Joe Sotham for the pointer.


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