on the wave or under it™
The News – 08/10/01
Grand Conspiracy Theory
Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs sends along a pointer to Robert
X. Cringely’s polemic, “The Death of TCP/IP: Why the Age of Internet
Innocence is Over.” This was actually one of the top links listed on Blogdex, which was covered in a recent SNS.
Anyway, Cringely blames Microsoft and its “business decision”
not to include security in its operating systems or applications for the
sorry state of affairs today. Any enterprising
moron can create and release a virus based on Microsoft’s Visual Basic
and its ever-helpful Outlook email client. Cringely states that the
impending Windows XP “is the first home version of Windows to allow
complete access to TCP/IP sockets, which can be exploited by viruses to do
all sorts of damage. Windows XP uses essentially the same TCP/IP software
as Windows 2000, except that XP lacks 2000's higher-level security
features. In order to be backward compatible with applications written for
Windows 95, 98, and ME, Windows XP allows any application full access to
raw sockets.” If you’re not sure of what raw sockets are, basically what
Cringely is saying is that XP is bad because virus writers and crackers
will have tremendously more power to wreak havoc.
Cringely doesn’t stop there. He says he’s heard from several
sources that Microsoft’s Grand Plan is to make the TCP/IP protocol that
runs the Internet unusable so the company can ride to the rescue with its
own proprietary protocol. He even postulates that Microsoft would get
Congress to mandate the new protocol to solve kiddie porn and other
disgusting Net problems. It is a tribute to Microsoft’s already
considerable conspiratorial efforts that this “rumor” doesn’t sound
implausible. The company is already pushing its Passport technology as the
standard for managing users’ personal information on the Internet, for a
fee, of course. Hook Passport to a proprietary protocol from Microsoft, and
you’ve got a pretty believable scenario for Web hegemony.
Personally, I’m skeptical that Microsoft would be willing to
damage the Web in order to gain control over it. I’m much more willing to
believe that the addition of raw sockets access without sufficient security
is just another blunder by a company that can’t seem to buy a security clue
(despite $12 billion a year in research). Nonetheless, I do not doubt that
Microsoft will employ its very effective “embrace and extend” technique to
try to gain control of the Internet. I fully expect to see some kind of “value-added”
proprietary communications protocol come out of the monopoly. But it seems
very unlikely that Microsoft would sabotage one of its products to bring
about total control of the Net. But that’s just my opinion, and I could be
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: I'll be speaking at the
Minnesota Entrepreneurs Club pre-meeting workshop at 5:30 p.m. on
Tuesday, August 14th in St. Paul, MN, not the 7th as
previously announced. The meeting is at the Minnesota
Business Academy. My topic is “Will You Have to Have It? What
You Need to Know About Future Tech and Your Business.”
Also, I’ve re-ranked the trends in the TrendSpot,
and added a new one, Remaking the Web.
Your Security: By now, you might be wondering if you need some protection
against viruses, worms, cracker attacks, and all the other baddies on
the Internet. A good place to start is Steve Gibson’s Shields Up site, which
will analyze the current security of your computer and make
recommendations on improving it. One thing everyone should have is a
personal firewall such as the free Zone Alarm from Zone Labs. Even if
you have a hardware firewall, Zone Alarm can protect you against
Trojans, programs that mimic real, useful programs, but do bad things
like sending your passwords to an Internet server. BTW, you should
always run a firewall when using a dialup connection to the Internet.
Once you do, you’ll be surprised at how many times Zone Alarm alerts
you to an intrusion attempt it has blocked.
Patents and Matchmaking: Alert SNS Reader John Gehring had a couple of
comments about the previous SNS: “Regarding patents, the plant biotech
industry went through the same process. I handled media relations when
our competitors issued news releases announcing extremely broad
patents. Every time our
employees and dealers freaked, and the courts overturned every broad
patent in the end.
”The P2P dating app reminded me of a bar that I went to in NJ in
1989. In a cruder version of
what your source describes, each table had a large number posted, and
a phone that you could use to call other tables. No caller ID back then, though.”
Sure, there are lower tech versions of the matchmaking app, but one
difference could be the amount of control involved. If you go to one
of those bars, you’re looking to meet someone. But if you happen to
forget to turn off that function on your PDA, or if you can’t turn it
off, that could be disoptimal.
- With This
Ring, I Thee Scan: Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs noticed that UPS is implementing
what is being called the largest wireless LAN and short-range wireless
Bluetooth network. It involves a wireless Bluetooth ring-based scanner
that workers throughout its worldwide distribution hubs will use to
scan barcodes on packages and transmit the information through a
hip-based 802.11b wireless terminal. The brown-suited Lords of the
Rings are expected to help the company reap a payoff of $13.7 million
per year over a five-year period. After a pilot at their Chicago
facility, UPS plans to rollout 50,000 Motorola terminals next year to
its 2,000 worldwide distribution centers. This project is especially
notable since Bluetooth and 802.11b, which operate on the same
unlicensed wireless frequencies, have been known to not get along too
Can’t Get Enough of ME?
In the unlikely event
that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable
thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped
collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page.
If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can
create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP
access, and the free software from www.blogger.com.
This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts
to your Weblog.
I’ve dubbed my Weblog
entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/.
Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of
the latest emerging trends.
to Mike’s Take