Internet: 21Jan1999

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Internet Story: 21 Jan 1999

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In this issue:

Windows Refund

French get encryption

Veronica is safe!

UK Scan&Shop



Don't use Windows?  Get your refund!   If you bought a PC and don't use Windows, why should you pay for it?  That's the logic driving a group of Linux (and other OS) users who want to make good on a tiny clause built into the Windows end-user license.  The clause offers a refund to PC owners who buy a computer preloaded with Windows 98, but don't use the operating system.   In fact one man already has received a refund from Toshiba in Australia.  There's a growing, nay mushrooming, movement to start reclaiming money from Microsoft by those people that never use Windows but have bought a PC that has it bundled.  It really isn't going to be Bill Gates' year again this year!  See the diagram above for the process involved, then hop on over to the web site.  World Refund Day is set for the 15th of February 1999!


French get Encryption   At last, Lionel Jospin, France's prime minister, said this week that the country will allow use of 128-bit encryption technology instead of the 40-bit encryption permitted so far.  The 128-bit technology makes it safer to send documents via the Internet - take a look at how easy it is to crack 56 bit DES encryption in just over 22 hours!  Jospin also called for lowering the cost of Internet access and repeated the government's commitment to extend to the Internet this year all government services currently available on the Minitel. The government previously has said it intends to get a majority of schools connected to the Internet by the end of the year 2000.  Even the US is now looking to abolish the idiotic ITAR laws that classify encryption technology as munitions - a bill is to be presented to congress later this year.


Veronica is safe!   Looks like Archie Comics, Inc. have finally woken up and smelled the coffee (see article of the 18th).   Veronica Sams, the 22 month old girl, can keep her domain without a fight.  Archie Comics came out with a rather lame excuse about protecting the public from porn - they obviously never looked at the site before issuing a writ!  Another side-benefit of this little caper is the formation of "The Domain Defense Advocate" which "is, at its heart, a group of people with their ears to the tracks who are willing to spend a couple of minutes every once in a while to help the occasional domain stand up to its attackers.  Since the letter-writing campaign was so successful in the case of's domain defense, we imagine that it can be equally successful in other cases."


palmbarcode.jpg (5457 bytes) UK Scan&Shop Supermarkets   Palm Pilots are getting a set of eyes; shopping eyes.  The "Palm Pilot Scanner" allows on-line Tesco customers to scan the barcodes of products in their home to add on to their Internet shopping lists.  The revolutionary new system works with the on-line service already offered by Tesco to make home shopping simpler and more efficient.  At the moment it only works out of their store at Sunbury, SW London, but if the experiment is a success it will be rolled out nationwide.  Safeway are about to introduce a similar scheme on 1Feb1999 - though you'd never know from their web site!  See BBC article for more details.


Spiderman++  Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk and other cartoon superheroes, 76-year-old founder of Marvel Comics, has dreamt up a team of Internet superheroes that will burst onto computer screens this summer.  They are his first new
characters in 30 years.  Lee's site will be aimed at 10 to 20 year-olds and will offer free web pages, e-mail, games, areas to buy, sell and trade comics and merchandise AND a free superhero construction kit.   Six or seven new superheroes will each come from different parts of the globe.   The characters, which include an Egyptian superhero, derive their powers from the Internet.  "The Internet is going to be the biggest thing in the world," said Lee, with his charismatic grin and swept back mane.  "Here is a chance to tell new stories."   The site is live now and the content should be available within the next six months.

Andrew Stringer, Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999


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