Internet: 17Feb1999

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Internet Story: 17 Feb 1999

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In this issue:

Palm Pilot V

Free FAX numbers

Branson Takes on the Net

No refunds from Bill

Is Bill's number up?


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New Palm Pilot V  A sneak preview of the new Palm Pilot V leaked out to the Net this week.  It appears to be a slimmer and lighter version of the Palm III model, it also has an improved (better contrast) display and comes in a rugged alloy case.   One of the biggest (an long awaited!) features is its use of rechargeable batteries.  The unit comes with 2Mb installed, somewhat less than the new extension to the Palm III range, the Palm IIIX - has 4Mb and a clearer display, otherwise it's a normal Palm III.

Palm has announced it will launch (in the USA only, at the moment) its wireless device, the Palm VII, in the second quarter of this year.   Expected in May, the device will be priced under $800.


Free Fax Number  Do you want a fax number that costs you nothing and dumps any faxes you receive into your email box?  A US company,, has setup what Hotmail is to email for fax machines!  This is an ideal service for any businesses that need to receive faxes from the USA - the number you get allocated is a US number and therefore would reduce the cost of people sending faxes from the USA to you.  To view the faxes mailed you need to install their viewer software that is mailed to you when you sign up (a very painless process!).  The service is paid for by advertising slots in the viewer software and by selling additional services (like local phone numbers and mass faxing, etc.)  What amazes me is why no UK company has set up a similar service - there's more money to be made out of this in the UK as the service provider could collect money from the telecoms companies in much the same way as all the free ISPs do.  Our number at Pendle.Net is (815) 346-0861 (or 001 815 346 0861 for anyone mad enough to want to use it from the UK!)   (Tip:  When you sign up specify UNIX or Mac (anything but Windows) - then your faxes will arrive in TIFF format and you won't need the special viewer.  You will of course need some other general graphics package to read it, but you will also be able to paste it into existing documents.)


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Virgin E-commerce  Richard Branson has today announced that almost every part of his Virgin empire will be fully involved in the Internet and e-commerce by the end of this year.  He's spending 50M to ensure this.  He's also announced that his ISP, Virgin.Net will be free from 1April1999 to existing subscribers and for the rest of the world from 1May1999.   "We think we can take on the Americans and beat them," Mr. Branson told News Online in an interview.  "I would be surprised if Virgin is not the biggest provider of Net services in Britain within a couple of years," he added.   "We've got the brand name to do it, the will to do it, the resources to do it and we're determined to do it."  Hopefully Mr. Branson will be saving the hot air for his balloons and not use it up trying to beat the Americans!  More details in the BBC article.

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No Refunds from Bill  As expected, people around the world marched on Microsoft premises on 15th Feb 1999 ("Windows Refund Day") to try and claim the refund due to them for not opening the Windows 95/98 license that usually accompanies a PC.  More than 100 demonstrators descended on Redmond but all they got was a glass of lemonade or iced tea and a locked building.  Microsoft officials who met the protesters told them to take it up with the computer manufacturers who sold them their PCs.  See Marc Merlin's site for details, pictures and links to other news stories on this.



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Is Bill's day over?   He's in trouble with the US government (and several others around the world), he has a wave of legal cases coming in like a tsunami, Windows 2000 is late, applications are very buggy on first release, he has the cheek to charge people to test his software, but, above all this operating systems that are free are taking off all over.  The biggest of these, by far, is Linux - the free Unix type operating system that is spreading from the geek community to mainstream use.  There are also at least two other operating systems worth mentioning now; GNOME and EROS.   GNOME stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment.  The GNOME project intends to build a complete, user-friendly desktop based entirely on free software.   "This is aimed at regular users - for home users or kids or secretary-people," says Miguel de Icaza, the Gnome frontman.  Somewhat more technical is EROS, the Extremely Reliable Operating System.  The system merges some very old ideas in operating systems with some newer ideas about performance and resource management.  The result is a small, secure, real-time operating system that provides orthogonal persistence.  Both systems are "Net ready" from conception and should be available in mid 1998.  Beta versions are available for download right now.


Andrew Stringer, Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999


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