In the sights

SCO's Darl McBride has incurred an awful lot of wrath for his company's claim -- and accompanying lawsuit against IBM -- that it owns some of the underlying code to Linux.

SCO's Darl McBride has incurred an awful lot of wrath for his company's claim -- and accompanying lawsuit against IBM -- that it owns some of the underlying code to Linux.

Apart from the countersuits from IBM and Red Hat, and hacker attacks on SCO's website, Darl's even attracted a few death threats. One, reports BusinessWeek , was so unnerving that SCO's security had a sharpshooter in the room when McBride spoke at a tech conference in Las Vegas in December. While we were left wondering about the amazing circumstance of being able to employ your own hired gun, the more virulent anti-SCOs must be kicking themselves for not having a word in the ear of the shooter.

Patent watch

A patent, recently granted to one Frank Weyer of Beverly Hills, grants the patent holder full rights to: "a method for assigning URLs and email addresses to members of a group comprising the steps of: assigning each member of said group a URL of the form "name.subdomain.domain"; and assigning each member of said group an email address of the form name@subdomain.domain". Sound familiar? It should, says Geek.com. It's the domain naming system.

Fine print

Requests we never thought we'd make:

Perhaps Microsoft would be kind enough to make the fine print a little, er, finer? [Surely: make the text area a lot larger, and use a little less fine print -- Ed.]

Undiminished appetite

A survivor of the Andes plane crash whose story was told in the book and movie

Alive will be a speaker at Cisco's Networkers user conference in Brisbane in March. The crash was notable for the fact that some of those on board the plane -- it was carrying a Uruguayan rugby team -- only lived by eating the flesh of their dead fellow travellers. Even we think puns about speaker Nando Parrado's Andean survival story and Cisco's domination of the networking industry partly by taking over its rivals would be in bad taste.

Computer monitor

If you're a bit of a gabber at meetings, your time may be at hand. According to

Sciencedaily.com , technology could soon be able to warn you if you're talking too much or if others have something important to say. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories' advanced concepts group want to link you up to tiny sensors and transmitters called a PAL (Personal Assistance Link) and make your machine (with your permission) into an anthroscope -- which notes your vital signs in real time, as they say.

"It will monitor your perspiration and heartbeat, read your facial expressions and head motions, analyse your voice tones and correlate these to keep you informed with a running account of how you are feeling -- something you may be ignoring -- instead of waiting passively for your factual questions. It also will transmit this information to others in your group so that everyone can work together more effectively." On the other hand, it'll make it harder to zone out ...

Zero tolerance

We can understand why IT PR firm Noble & Associates didn't publicise the name too much: http://www.ground-zero.co.nz/consultants.html.

West is best

New favourite term: to sunset a product (or a project or even, presumably, a career. "Sorry, John, but it just hasn't worked out. We're sunsetting you.")

Microsoft loses Oz pillow fight

The saga of mikerowesoft.com took another twist with the revelation that Australian pillow manufacturer Purax successfully fought off a legal challenge from Microsoft over a fibre, also named Microsoft, that Purax uses in its products. For those not in the know, Microsoft has legally threatened 17-year-old Canadian Mike Rowe, who registered his website as www.mikerowesoft.com. According to Microsoft, the two are working towards a mutually agreed settlement, though shortly after finding out about Rowe's phonetic cleverness, Microsoft sent him a 25-page letter asserting that he had breached its copyright.

(The deal includes Microsoft paying for a new site, expenses, an Xbox and a subscription to its developer forum. According to the BBC, Microsoft said it would also give the teenager training for certification on its products, and he and his parents have been invited to the technology giant's headquarters in Redmond.)

The ensuing publicity generated Rowe a huge number of hits on his site, at which he offers his services as a web designer. It also caused the Sydney Morning Herald to dig up a case dating from 1995-7 when Microsoft challenged Purax's use of the term Microsoft. "Our exclusive new non-allergenic and thoroughly hygienic polyester fibre 'Microsoft' ensures a luxurious night's sleep," Purax marketing material claims. It also uses "quality Microsoft Dacron holofill" in products.

When the case went to court, hearing officer Ian Forno ruled that as Microsoft's trademarks were for computers and computer software and "the choice of a trademark owned by a computer manufacturer would appear to have no advantage whatsoever to a maker of padding, stuffing and filling materials. Accordingly, I cannot accept the opponent's assertion that purchasers would be confused or deceived as to the origin of the two marks in question." That must have knocked the stuffing out of Microsoft ....

Froth and stuff

Oh, and speaking of Davids and corporate Goliaths, if you wanted one more reason not to buy Starbucks, check out the coffee giant's agressive copyright action in 2000 against a comic parody in "Sued by the Siren" at www.toomuchcoffeeman.com. No wonder even South Park went softly-softly on them.

I have a scream

When Apple last month released GarageBand, its new consumer app for mixing and recording music, we waited to hear what dulcet tones would be produced in homes and dormitories around the globe. Early indications seem to be that one favoured genre is taking the mickey out of US presidential candidates, in particular Howard Dean. Dean’s trippy “I Have A Scream” speech was quickly remixed, set to some funky beats and distributed online. For some examples, check out Ben Hammersley’s weblog.

Don’t try this at home

For those who aren’t getting quite enough thrill from their shiny new Segway: visit eXtreme Segway and learn how to turn your people transporter into a thrill machine.

E-tales feels the need to point out that those of us who don’t have a Segway can probably get an equivalent thrill with some scanned photos and a copy of Photoshop.

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