Open source software and the Linux OS
See also TBTF for 1999-08-16, 05-22, 03-26, 02-15, 02-01, 1998-11-17, 11-11, 11-03, 10-27, 10-12, 08-31, more...
Gives the company extra rights as the original developer
Since Netscape announced its plans to release the source code for Communicator 5 , open source developers have been awaiting the license terms for the release. Last week Netscape published version 0.9 of the "NPL" . For the license itself in legalese see  (HTML) or  (text). Netscape has kindly provided both an annotated version  for non-native speakers of legalese and a FAQ . The license is similar to to the LGPL  but goes further to provide special privileges to Netscape as the initial developer of the NPL'd code; in particular Netscape uniquely has the right to license NPL'd code, including code written by outside developers, to its partners on terms different than the NPL.
Netscape is soliciting comments on the preliminary NPL on this newsgroup  until 3/11.
Cryptography export policy
See also TBTF for 2000-02-06, 1999-10-05, 08-30, 08-23, 08-16, 07-26, 05-22, 05-08, 04-21, 03-01, 01-26, more...
Mr. Louis Freeh, meet Mr. Jack Straw
In March of 1997 the then-Tory British government's Department of Trade & Industry proposed licensing "trusted third parties" to offer encryption services and requiring them to escrow users' private keys. The Labor party, then in opposition, decried this proposal, and their election manifesto  codified their opposition. But rumors have been circulating for a month now that the current Labor government is about to propose a scheme very like the year-old proposal .
On 2/10 Sean Gabb published this leak  of government plans to announce mandatory domestic key escrow. On 2/19 an official of the DTI did give a presentation  on policy suggestions for digital signatures -- and said that the domestic encryption part of the policy had been delayed by the "completely wrong announcements on the Internet," by which he apparently meant . Now more than two weeks have gone by and no policy paper has been published; rumors continue to swirl that the policy, when it is released, will somehow link encryption with digital signatures. Microsoft Europe has issued a response  to this possibility that sets out the issues very nicely. Meanshile, the proprietors of NTKnow have set up a mailing list for fast-breaking British crypto news. To subscribe, mail email@example.com with message: subscribe crypto-announce .
Will it become illegal to push a cookie on a European?
Next October, EU rules go into effect governing the flow of personal data across national borders. If EU countries strictly implement these rules, they would have to cut off large amounts of corporate and personal commerce with countries that don't implement similarly strict privacy protections. Outside the EU, only Norway, Iceland, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Switzerland have laws governing the use of private data by commercial firms. Here is a summary of the directive on "Transborder Flows of Personal Data," taken from an article  covering possible impacts on the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan:
Articles 25 and 26  are at the center of the problems the directive poses for non-EU countries. Article 25 lays out the strictures and Article 26 gives some conditions under which they might be relaxed. No one seems to know  how the EU countries will implement the privacy directive.
See also TBTF for 2000-03-31, 1999-08-30, 06-14, 02-15, 01-26, 01-13, 1998-12-15, 08-31, 05-18, 05-11, 04-27, more...
Online commerce developers and vendors may need to obtain licenses
On 3/4 Open Market announced that it has been awarded three patents covering significant aspects of online commerce : visitor traffic analysis, electronic shopping carts, and secure, real-time payment using credit cards. The company intends to collect royalties from others in the Internet commerce space. These patents will be more difficult to contest than EData's . The proprietor of the Internet Patent News Service says:
Network Sales System (No. 5,715,314), covers the use of "electronic shopping carts" which merchants provide to their customers as a way to accumulate items to purchase before checking out. This patent also describes the passing of payment and purchase information through a URL.
Digital Active Advertising (No. 5,724,424), covers secure, real-time payment using credit and debit cards over the Internet. It is one of the earliest and broadest Internet payment patents yet granted, with a filing date of December 16, 1993.
Echelon and the UKUSA signals intelligence franchise
See also TBTF for 2000-07-20, 1999-09-11, 07-08, 06-14, 1998-12-23, 03-09
The Echelon system links five nations' spy agencies in filtering all voice and data traffic worldwide
Have you ever gotten a laugh from this venerable Net .sig?
This champion of free speech likes it less when the speech is directed their way
David Barberi's <info at 2meta dot com> humor site  collects his favorites among the numerous April Fools pranks that have circulated on the Net since at least 1978. He archived  a Usenet posting from last April, author unknown, which purports to be from one Hugh F. Hefner and falsely claims that Playboy Magazine has decided to shut down. It's pretty funny. (The same posting is available from Deja News, but not from Alta Vista's Usenet database.) Last month Barberi received a demand  from the Playboy legal department that he remove the piece. He has consulted with a lawyer and so far has not taken it down, though he has placed an "obnoxious warning" on each page of the site. US case law strongly supports parody as protected speech. Barberi suggests he may contact the Playboy Foundation for help with the legal expenses. His is exactly the kind of David-vs.- Goliath, first-amendment case that in the past Playboy has aided financially.
Cheaper and faster than comparably equipped Wintels
In May Apple will begin shipping low-cost laptops that are more than comparable in price and performance with their Wintel competitors . The new models, which have been rumored under the code names Main Street and Wall Street, will start at $1999 for a 233-MHz G3 processor with a 12.1-inch dual-scan display. 233-MHz Pentium MMX notebooks today cost anywhere from $2,900 to $5,000 and underperform a similarly clocked G3. Apple's new pricing will undercut even the bargain-basement system you can buy today  by combining a low-end PowerBook 1400 ($1800) with a 250-MHz G3 add-in from Newer Technologies ($1000).
A survey: please send me a note (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com) if you presently use a Macintosh regularly. What is the probability that you will buy another MacOS system?
Apply quick for cry.net, bum.net, or uzi.net
Darn those guys at Need To Know . Their useful and interesting e-rag comes out on Friday and often as not scoops TBTF on two or three items I had planned to run the following Monday. Here is one: Roger Gonzalez <argh at datapult dot com>, with way too much time on his hands, did a brute-force search for all 2- and 3-character names still available in the .com and .net domains. The result :
You can download Gonzalez's entire report  (349K).
NTKnow doesn't (they would say "don't") credit the source of this item, but they probably picked it up the same place I did, from Glen Mccready's 0xdeadbeef mailing list.
Faster and faster apart
Push may be moribund as a topic on the Web (for example, Microsoft will ship IE5 without its Active Channel bar ), but it is very much alive in the corridors of cosmology. TBTF for 1998-01-19  reported that the universe looks to expand forever, slowing all the time but never reversing its expansion. This concensus only came clear in January, and already it is being supplanted with talk of a universal repulsive force  -- perhaps the "cosmological constant" that Einstein invented and rued all the rest of his days -- that is causing the universal expansion to accelerate over time. One candidate for the instigator of this repulsive force is the zero-point energy of the vacuum (see TBTF for 1997-11-24  and ). Evidence for the acceleration comes from observations of distant supernovas. Fans of the inflationary Big Bang theory welcome the news, because the cosmic push may be just enough to balance the books on a topologically flat universe, after visible matter, dark matter, and exotic matter (WIMPs and MACHOs) have fallen short. An accelerating expansion would also mean the universe is older than it apappears, helping to close an embarassing gap with the estimated age of its oldest stars.
A twisty little maze of items, all different
Ganging up on Microsoft
See also TBTF for 1999-08-16, 07-19, 02-15, 02-01, 01-13, 01-04, 1998-12-23, 12-15, 12-07, 11-11, 10-19, more...
The maker of the barn-burning Palm Pilot filed trademark lawsuits against Microsoft in Germany and Italy  for naming its upcoming competitor the "Palm PC." 3Com apparently choose to sue in Europe because trademark law in the US would not be as favorable to their case.
Wal-Mart to sell Internet access
If further evidence were needed that the Internet is going mainstream, consider the announcement by Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, that it will offer Internet access to its 21.4 million members through the ISP Earthlink. Sam's Club members will get the same services available to all EarthLink members: email, a personal start-up page, technical support, and 6 MB of Web space.
Quantum computers and quantum physics
See also TBTF for 1999-10-05, 01-04, 1998-11-03, 10-27, 09-14, 03-09, 03-02, 02-23, 1997-11-24, 09-15, 05-22, more...
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory say they have solved a problem that will theoretically affect quantum computers more than traditional ones -- error detection and correction. Earlier this year Raymond Laflamme and colleagues published a paper outlining how to use redundancy to compensate for the inherent fragility of atomic states. This story in Nando Times Infotech  is a bit lightweight; subscribers to the journal "Science" can view the original article online .
The New York Post asked Hilka Klinkenberg to review Bill Gates's communication style during his Capital Hill appearance . Klinkenberg is an image consultant who coaches Fortune 500 executives on body language. She gave Gates good marks overall but pointed out a few lapses.
John Walker, whom we last met in TBTF for 1997-03-09  -- the man who assembled HotBits, the first known Internet randomness server -- has performed another service to humanity. He has made freely available the Demoronizer , which corrects all the nonstandard characters and broken HTML in documents generated from Microsoft applications via "Save as HTML." The Demoronizer is written in Perl, and yes, it does run in Windows environments . Thanks to Lloyd Wood <L.Wood at surrey dot ac dot uk> for the pointer.
TBTF home and archive at http://www.tbtf.com/ . To subscribe send the message "subscribe" to firstname.lastname@example.org. TBTF is Copyright 1994-1998 by Keith Dawson, <dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com>. Com- mercial use prohibited. For non-commercial purposes please forward, post, and link as you see fit. _______________________________________________ Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.