And so say all of us

What were they drinking at the Woosh launch, we wonder? It must have been potent, or there must have been a lot of it, because hours after everyone had gone home our reporter received a slurred, incoherent message of support from someone claiming to be a Woosh employee...

What were they drinking at the Woosh launch, we wonder? It must have been potent, or there must have been a lot of it, because hours after everyone had gone home our reporter received a slurred, incoherent message of support from someone claiming to be a Woosh employee. “We love you! We love you!!” cried the voice before our reporter hung up in horror.

Room of echoes

Hopefully the trans-Tasman merger of Ihug and iiNet will see more bandwidth dedicated to videoconferencing. At the launch the urge to cry “Over!” at the end of each sentence was almost overwhelming. The picture quality was pretty bad (“What did the pixel on the right say?”) but it was the echo of Kiwi speakers being replayed over the link from Australia with a giant lag that was most infuriating. Full credit to marketing manager Duncan Shand for being quick on the mute/unmute button though.

Where do you want to go today, dirtbag?

Simmons … you’re like an illegitimate son to me …”

Surely the coolest invitation to a developer event we've ever seen ... to help publicise its upcoming professional developers conference, Microsoft commissioned a short film from Redvsblue.com, the makers of the cult series The Blood Gulch Chronicles. The films are "shot" in the virtual world of Halo, an Xbox game produced by the Microsoft-owned Bungie Studios, where the duelling armies of Red and Blue ponder life’s ironies and intricacies.

Featuring cameos from Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer and an unreleased cousin of Clippy the talking paperclip, the promo can be downloaded from redvsblue.com. Eighteen episodes of Gulch are also available, and a DVD is being produced for those without the patience to download them all.

Give it up for meeeeeee!!

Speaking of Ballmer cameos, we noticed recently that the famous "Developers! Developers! Developers!" videos have started to disappear from the web — many of the links found at www.ntk.net/ballmer/mirrors.html no longer work, including the two pointers to the music remix.

Conspiracy theory? Us? No, we just put it down to the dreaded linkrot. However, as a public service, we feel compelled to provide our readers with this link:

fun.sdinet.de/movies/ballmer.mov

Grab it while it lasts!

VeriWhine

VeriSign has earned the everlasting odium of the internet’s engineers by deciding that any request for a .com or .net domain name that isn’t already owned will henceforth be directed to a site owned by, um, VeriSign. The company has a contract from ICANN to manage the .com and .net domains and obviously feels that “manage” is just another synonym for “hijack”.

It’s one thing to be delivered a website you didn’t ask for, but it’s another thing again to be dictated “terms of use” to view the site you didn’t ask to see. VeriSign’s terms of use come to over 1800 words, all in tiny print and many in capitals. Hidden in there is an innocuous little note that some of the information may be provided by advertisers.

Most observers already suspected VeriSign plans to put ads there one day. Here’s how we see it play out: VeriSign puts the page there as a “service for the internet community” or some other such drivel, and then later puts ads there to “pay” for the “useful service”. In the meantime it collects priceless data about which non-existent domains are being requested.

We hope it doesn’t come to that, and that VeriSign changes its corporate mind. But we doubt it.

The ultimate benchmark

It's one of those phrases that surely deserves to go down in history - and be brought up again when the occasion demands. A US federal appeals court reviewing California's electoral procedures has suggested that the punched-card equipment used at ballot stations has "an unconstitutionally high rate of error".

Looking at some of New Zealand history's public-sector computer shortcomings, don't you wish we had a written constitution?

‘I’ll just live inside your trousers or something’

So said a certain Charles Windsor to society lady Camilla Parker Bowles. We know this, because in 1992 mobile phones communicated with an analogue signal that was easily picked up by nosey people who would sit by their radios for hours in the hope there might be some indiscreet royalty in the area. The Camillagate tapes showed just how public our cellphone conversations were.

Digital networks, however, can’t be intercepted, or so we’ve always believed — until now. The current issue of New Scientist reveals that Israeli researchers have discovered a way to exploit a flaw in the GSM encryption system to listen in on GSM-encoded calls.

GSM signals are corrected for interference or noise before they are encrypted. The researchers say their "man in the middle" attack targets the signal before encryption.

Don’t be too concerned that your competition is listening in on calls to your shiny new Vodafone handset, though. To crack the GSM network, an attacker needs their very own GSM base station, which is rather obvious and fairly illegal. 3G phones won’t be affected, according to the GSM association.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be paranoid about your phone though. Another New Scientist article suggests the civil war in Congo is being driven by demand for tantalum, a rare, dense metal widely used in cellphones. The price of tantalum has risen from $US65/kg in 2000 to around $US375 now, the magazine says.

Maxims for the internet age

From email:

1. Home is where you hang your @

2. The email of the species is more deadly than the mail

3. You can't teach a new mouse old clicks

4. C:\ is the root of all directories

5. Fax is stranger than fiction

6. Don't byte off more than you can view

7. What boots up must come down

8. Windows will never cease

9. In Gates we trust

10. Great groups from little icons grow

11. Oh, what a tangled website we weave when first we practise

12. Too many clicks spoil the browse

13. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use the 'net and he won't bother you for weeks

14. The geek shall inherit the earth

15. A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click

16. Modulation in all things

Edited by Mark Broatch.

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