Internet: 10Apr1999

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Internet Story: 10 Apr 1999

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In this issue:

Star Trails tonight!

Online Advertising Failure

Fast UK Internet Access

Internet Institution 30 this week

Is Copyright for Dinosaur?

EasyJet Internet Success

MS Office97 Privacy Restorer

Cool Site - in Bradford!


Star Trails  Tonight at 22:00 British Summer Time you will be able to tune into NASA with your web browser and watch as they launch a weather balloon designed to capture cosmic meteoroids (tiny dust particles, usually no more than a few thousandths of a millimeter across - they usually burn up in the upper atmosphere before they can get to earth, leaving a trail of light (shooting star)) 30,000 meters (100,000 feet) into the stratosphere.  The balloon has a streaming webcam on board so we can see live pictures as it ascends and captures the space dust.  The URLs are not available at the moment but will be published on the Star Trails web site just before the launch.

The Star Trails website is a great place for young scientist to gather.  Every month they announce opportunities for members to get involved in research in astrobiology, astronomy, and other natural sciences.  Hop along there and join up!


Online Advertising  There's a growing amount of evidence that banner ads are not a good way of advertising on the Web.   A recent study by BMBR showed that UK users are becoming "advertising rejecters" -- unlikely to interact with online advertising.  A US study has shown that clickthrough rates are dropping rapidly - they  were down to 0.15% in February 1999.  This is in line with the predictions that Jakob Nielsen has been making for the past couple of years about the invalidity of banner ads as an advertising method on the Web.  What's more is that recent reports have revealed that there is an increasing use of software robots that will click trough adverts to simulate a real human click.  Phantom clicks are being used by unscrupulous webmasters to increase their "clickthrough" revenue.   Interestingly some commentators have put the failure of web advertising down to the increasing number of females using the web - are we males really that gullible ;-)

Fast UK Access via Satellite  On 07 April 1999 Easynet, one of the UK's ISPs, announced that it is offering Internet access via satellite of speeds up to 1Mbit/second (that's 8 times faster than ISDN (and Home Highway) and over 16 faster than the fastest normal modems).  The technology will only let you receive information at this speed, sending information will be over a normal telephone/ISDN line.  The service is available immediately and costs 49.99/month.   Users will also need to purchase a PC card and 60cm satellite dish for around 250.

RFCs 30 this week  This week the Internet's "Request For Comments", the documentation system that is the repository for most of the accepted standards that have arisen concerning the Net turned 30 this week (on 07 April 1999).  This was celebrated by, what else, another RFC - RFC2555.  This is a document detailing the history of the RFC and most of the Internet.  It all started with RFC1, which was about "Host Software", was issued in 1969 and, although modest and of not much significance these days, it paved the way for a whole "open" philosophy that has enshrined the Net since.  It's an approach that has been adopted by many industries since.


Is Copyright for Dinosaurs?   According to one commentator at Fortune Magazine it is.  Copyright can only work in a world where it is actually possible to prevent copying.  Now we live in a world where it is impossible to prevent copying; in fact it's so easy that it's time to look at whole concept of copyright.   At the beginning of the PC software industry, says Stewart Alsop, companies were obsessed with "copy protecting" their software with elaborate protection schemes.  These schemes (and I speak from personal experience here, which backs up Stewart's assertions) caused more problems for customers than the software itself.   In fact I'd go further than Stewart in saying that some software companies spent a fortune on supporting the copy protection schemes than they did on supporting their own software!  Eventually companies caught on and most have eliminated these schemes and have noticed that their revenue hasn't gone down - look at Microsoft as a good example of this.  Stewart argues that there are enough "protections" in place to prevent most people from taking over from companies like Microsoft if they lost copyright on Windows - it's difficult to re-create the technology; it's hard to keep a pace with innovations.  He also argues that products like Linux have no copyright and are thriving - may even usurp Windows.  He also points out that there are several companies now working out how to make money from un-copyrighted music to take advantage of the MP3 tidal wave.


EasyJet Internet Booking a Success   Figures released by EasyJet, the bargain fares UK airline, suggest that UK users are becoming more confident and are getting to grips with e-commerce to arrange holidays via the Net.  Since the company introduced its online service a year ago growth has climbed from 911 seats booked in April 1998 to about 160,000 bookings in March 1999!  In fact, more people contact EasyJet via the Net than via the phone.  See their press release for details.  Nice one EasyJet!


MS Office 97 Privacy Restorer   Microsoft have now officially published patches and tool that enable you to remove the Unique Identifier serial number from Office 97 documents and prevent it being applied to any new ones.  This is the same UI that help catch David L. Smith, the alleged author of the Melissa virus.


Site of the Day  Today we look at the recently remodeled Bradford Museum of Photography, Film & Television.  Situated just on our doorstep, the physical museum has just spent 16m on a major refurbishment.  The museum is packed with galleries showing the development of all things concerning the visual image.  You can see what happening at the museum at their website, which also has a timetable of what's showing at their cinemas, including their hugely popular 3D-IMAX cinema.  There is a large educational resource online at the site.  It covers everything from National Curriculum Key Stages (1-4) through to higher and adult education.  There's an interesting project called "Snaps 'R' Us!".   It had three aims; 1) to produce work to compliment others in the museum; 2) to provide staff and children from Wapping First School in Bradford with the means to explore the differences between family photography in the domestic tradition and photographs of families in the social documentary tradition (also part of the museum); 3) to show the enjoyment and education values of using photography in the classroom.   Well worth a visit, in person or virtually!  (The site has been added to our "Attractions on our doorstep" page.


Andrew Stringer, Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999

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