Cyber Ramblings - Dec 26, 2000

26 December 2000
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Battle over New Domain Names Persists
Although the governing body which regulates the Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), chose seven new top-level domain names over a month ago, it may be sometime before any are put into use. The Atlantic Root Network Inc., an independent Internet company based in Virginia Beach, Va., has filed a motion with the Commerce Department alleging that ICANN overstepped its authority when it approved the .biz suffix for use last month. Atlantic Root said in its motion that ICANN has no right to award the .biz registry to another company because Atlantic Root has been licensing .biz addresses since May of this year. ICANN's board of directors approved seven new domain names when it met in California last month. Existing domains such as .com, .net, and .org will be joined by the likes of .coop, .museum and .biz. sometime next year. Control of the .biz domain was awarded to JVTeam, a joint venture between Washington networking company NeuStar Inc. and Melbourne IT, an Australian domain registry. Under an alternative addressing system, Atlantic Root has licensed 1,200 .biz addresses since last spring, addresses that could be duplicated when the ICANN-approved domains become available in February 2001.

The Next Wave of Wireless Games
AirFlash, Inc., the premier development platform provider for location-based wireless applications, and nGame Ltd., the channel, content and technology provider for wireless, PC-web and interactive television community-based games, announced they have signed an agreement to develop the next generation of multi-player games for wireless devices, built around users' locations. nGame will integrate the AirFlash SmartZone platform as a programming and creation environment in designing the industry's first location-based games, viewed as one of the necessary applications in driving customer adoption and retention. Market analysts report that mobile carriers are optimizing their networks for mobile data services. According to a new mobile Internet report from Forrester Research, over the next two to three years, wireless developers will have robust network platforms to support innovative new services from companies like nGame .

Microsoft to Buy Great Plains Software
Microsoft Corp. demonstrated just how serious it is about moving into the small-to-midsize business applications arena with the announcement that it will acquire Great Plains Software Inc. in a stock transaction valued at $1.1 billion. Great Plains, of Fargo, N.D., develops business software (financials, accounting, distribution, supply chain management, payroll, human resources, etc.) for mid-market companies. Founded in 1981, the company has more than 130,000 customers and 2,000 employees worldwide. It recorded nearly $195 million in revenues in the last fiscal year. Great Plains has also been a long-time Microsoft partner, and earlier this month its eEnterprise product was honored as the "Best Financial Solution" at the Microsoft Industry Solutions Awards. Once the acquisition is completed next year, Great Plains will become the Great Plains Division of Microsoft, headed by current Great Plains CEO Doug Burgum.

Hacker Attacks Egghead.com
A hacker broke into the computer systems of Egghead.com, forcing the online retailer to alert credit card companies and 3.5 million customers about the breach and the possibility that their financial information was accessed. Egghead had been in the process of upgrading its computer systems over the past few months, but the improvements were unable to stop the unknown online invader who hacked the system. The break-in is under investigation, and a spokeswoman for Egghead told the Associated Press the Menlo Park-based technology products retailer had notified credit card companies and the local FBI office. The hacker did not deface the website or shut the service down, but did manage to infiltrate sensitive computer areas. The FBI is investigating how long the hacker was in the system and what he or she did while there, Egghead.com said.

Toshiba and IBM to Partnering in Bluetooth Venture
Leading Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp announced it has agreed to form a Bluetooth qualification venture with IBM Japan Ltd and Taiyo Yuden next February. The Japan-based Bluetooth qualification unit is expected to help speed launches of Bluetooth-enabled devices in Japan. IBM Japan is the Japanese unit of International Business Machines Corp, and Taiyo Yuden is a leading maker of electronics components. The new company, capitalized at 40 million yen ($354,200), will be owned 80.5 percent by Toshiba, 10 percent by Taiyo Yuden and 9.5 percent by IBM Japan. Toshiba launched Bluetooth-enabled wireless modem stations in July for the Japanese market. Bluetooth is a global wireless technology standard that enables users to connect mobile devices such as computers and digital cell phones, as well as network access points, via wireless links unimpeded by line-of-sight restrictions.

China Looks to Spur Internet Industries
Cutting long-distance phone rates by more than 50 percent will slash revenue for China's dominant state-owned carrier, but will also spur new Internet and telecommunications industries, state media reported Tuesday. The changes, which take effect Jan. 1, also cut charges for Internet access and leased lines. State media described the cuts announced Monday as the biggest change for Chinese phone bills in 51 years of communist rule. Internet and other firms that have struggled in the shadow of giant China Telecom could get an immediate profit boost from lower charges for access to its network. The government said total charges should fall by some 30 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) a year. State newspapers on Tuesday quoted the industry's chief regulator, Wu Jichuan, as saying the cuts were intended to spur growth in Internet and other telecoms technology. China has one of the biggest telecom markets with 120 million phone lines. It is the second-biggest mobile phone market with some 70 million users. China Telecom expects revenues this year to total some 170 billion yuan ($20.5 billion). The company hopes to raise as much as $10 billion with a foreign stock offering next year.

Yahoo Challenges Court Rule of Online Auctions
Raising questions over who controls the Internet, Yahoo! Inc. is asking a federal judge to block a French court's order that it keeps computer users in France from accessing online auctions of Nazi paraphernalia. In papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, attorneys for Santa Clara-based Yahoo! said the French court violated the company's free speech rights and does not have jurisdiction over content produced by an American business. Yahoo! asked the U.S. court to reassure the Internet industry that such orders are unenforceable. Swastika-emblazoned flags and other Nazi collectibles are among the thousands of items for sale at auctions.yahoo.com. In April, two French groups--the Union of Jewish Students and the International Anti-Racism and Anti-Semitism League--sued Yahoo! for allegedly breaking French law barring the display or sale of racist material. Last month, Judge Jean-Jacques Gomez gave Yahoo! three months to find a way to prevent French users from accessing auction pages with Nazi-related objects, and said Yahoo! would be fined $13,000 for each day after the deadline that it did not comply.