Cyber Ramblings - Jan 2, 2001

2 January 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Hackers Hold 17th Annual Convention
Over 2,500 computer hackers from across Europe gathered in Berlin last week for their 17th annual meeting. The Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), held at the Chaos Computer Club, discussed issues such as exploiting buffer overflows' and anatomy capability based systems. The three-day conference took place in a building packed with computers, monitors, sleeping bags, energy drinks and miles of cables. The congress was also very quiet - given that most participants prefer to communicate via their keyboards. The CCC has 1,800 members and claims it is committed to freedom of information and communication without censorship. It has made a specialty out of breaking into the government and industry computer networks.

Super Bowl Ads Don't prove Fruitful for Last Year's Buyers
Last year, dot-com companies were beating down ABC's door to buy spots during the Super Bowl, which the network was broadcasting. Seventeen Internet-related companies bought time during the game; seven of them are now out of business. This year, commercials during the big game will not have the e-commerce feel that last year's did. Only three Internet companies have signed on to buy time this year.

China/Telecommunications Industry Turn to Each Other
China is turning to western telecommunications vendors--and vice versa--as the Asian nation's blossoming economy fuels the need for more and better wireless and broadband Internet services. As the communist country continues to campaign for admission to the World Trade Organization, companies such as AT&T Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. are establishing new footholds or strengthening old relationships in China. Nortel, which has been selling equipment to China for nearly three decades, expects the country's Internet use to grow from approximately 5 million subscribers today to more than 20 million in 2003.

Norway Train System Hit with Y2K Bug a Year Late
The Y2K computer glitch hit Norway's national railroad company a year later than expected. The bug was discovered when none of the company's new 16 airport express trains or 13 high-speed, long-distance Signatur trains would start early in the morning of Dec. 31. The computers on board the trains apparently did not recognize the date, something not anticipated by experts who checked the systems thoroughly last year in anticipation of problems feared worldwide when the clocks rolled to Jan. 1, 2000. Sunday's problem was quickly solved on a temporary basis by resetting the computers to Dec. 1, 2000, and the trains started upon ignition.

DotComGuy Ends Year Inside Home
DotComGuy, who legally changed his name to reflect his online life, has emerged from his Dallas townhouse after a year of self-confinement. His plans include changing his name back to Mitch Maddox. The computer systems manager also intends to wed Crystalyn Anne Holubeck, whom he met in a chatroom on DotComGuy's Web site, Dallas television station KDFW reported. No date has been set. DotComGuy, who never ventured past his tiny backyard for a year, bought all his necessities online. His daily life was recorded by 20 cameras that broadcast to the world at DotComGuy said Monday that he was bored at times, but that the year passed quickly as he answered e-mails and questions from reporters.

Canadian Gallery Turns to Internet for Answers
The National Gallery of Canada on Friday posted pictures of 110 of its art works on the Internet to try to determine if they were stolen by Nazis during World War II. Pierre Theberge, director of the national gallery, said the works of art listed on the gallery's Web site lacked information about their history of ownership from 1933-45. By posting pictures of the art pieces on the Internet, the gallery gave people around the world the chance to examine them. "The inclusion of a painting on this list indicates only that more information is required to complete our knowledge of its ownership during the Nazi era," Theberge said in a letter accompanying the photos. Countless paintings, sculptures and other works of art were plundered from museums and private collections in Europe during the Nazi era by invading Germans.

Tax Breaks for Technology Sector Extended Nine Years in Brazil
Technology industry officials in Brazil were jubilant last week in the wake of Congress passing a law extending tax breaks for the sector for nine years in all regions of the country. In a late-night vote, lawmakers passed an information technology law that has languished in Congress for almost a year. To take effect, it must now be approved by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso within 15 working days. The law foresees tax breaks and incentives for producers of high-technology equipment such as computers, video monitors and cells phones across Brazil until 2009. Founder Leaves Board
The founder and vice-chairman of Inc., Jay S. Walker, left the company's board, effective Dec. 31. Walker vacated his board position in order to focus on the intellectual property portfolio of Walker Digital LLC, the company said in a statement released after markets closed on Thursday. Walker recently assumed the position of chief executive at Stamford, Conn.-based Walker Digital, which invented Priceline's business model.

China Passes Law to Thwart Online Subordinates
China's legislature passed a law against online subversion, ratifying the communist government's sweeping efforts to extend its political controls into cyberspace. The measure also makes it illegal to produce or transmit computer viruses or to break into military computer networks, the official Xinhua News Agency said without giving any details on penalties. The law adds to mounting efforts to regulate online activity after a period when largely unregulated cyberspace offered a forum to critics of the government. Official task forces already try to block access to Web sites deemed undesirable. Service providers are required to guard against political activity, and businesses that offer Web access without required licenses have been closed in a series of crackdowns.