Cyber Ramblings - Jan 30, 2001

30 January 2001
Amazon Slashing Workforce
My how things change. In 1999 Jeff Bezos was the toast of the town and of the dot-com industry as he was named Time Man of the Year. While his company had yet to turn a profit, sales were going through the roof and he was changing the way business was being done. The year 2001 has gotten off to a less-than-stellar start for the company, which announced it is cutting 1,300 jobs, 15 percent of its work force. The news came as the Seattle-based company posted fourth-quarter losses that were slightly narrower than what analysts were expecting. In a statement, Amazon said it was closing a distribution center in McDonough, Ga. and a customer service center in Seattle, in an effort to contain costs. It also said the company's distribution center in Seattle would be operated seasonally.

Glitch in Software Could Cause Problems
A new software vulnerability, which could enable vandals to disrupt the Internet by redirecting Web traffic and e-mail, has industry leaders warning users. The CERT Coordination Center, the government-funded computer emergency response team at Carnegie Mellon University, said the vulnerability was in BIND software, a key part of computers that direct traffic on the Net. As quickly as the flaw was discovered though, a solution was made available to those who use the software. BIND is used in computers, known as domain name servers, that function as the Internet's phone books. Typing in a domain name such as, for example, prompts a server to contact Yahoo's computers.
After only two years of operation,, the Internet arm of Walt Disney, is closing up shop and folding the group back into the corporate structure. As a result of the move, 400 employees will be laid off, as the company will be operated under the current management, which oversees Disney sites that include and isn't the only online media branch to be leaving the market. Just last week, Australian media giant Rupert Murdock, owner of FOX, announced he was shutting down the online division of News Corp., eliminating more than 200 jobs. The New York Times Co. also recently made a similar announcement that it was cutting back online operations.

Disney said Monday it would continue to operate a streamlined site while it moves various services and registered users to its other sites. The company said it is also looking at selling some of its assets, including the Infoseek search engine it bought in 1998.

Microsoft Pays $20 Million Settlement to Sun
The long-running dispute over Java, the platform-independent programming language, came to an end this week with Microsoft agreeing to pay its rival, Sun Microsystems, $20 million for past use of its technology. In addition to paying the $20 million, Microsoft agreed to stop using Sun’s "Java Compatible" trade mark. The dispute arose when Microsoft licensed the technology from Sun in 1996, promising to deliver only compatible implementations of the technology. Sun argued that Microsoft then broke its promise when it began distributing incompatible implementations so that applications written to those implementations would run only on Windows.

Hackers Target Vatican
Hackers by nature are known for their sensitivity, but hacking soared to a new low this week when the website of the Vatican city’s radio station was attacked. The attack occurred just hours after Pope John Paul II issued his yearly radio message for World Communications Day. Disruption to the site was minor and lasted only for a short while.

Napster to Start Charging for Service
Bertelsmann AG, the German Company that teamed with Napster recently, is wasting no time in putting its stamp on the site. The company announced that it would start charging subscription fees by June or July of this year. Bertelsmann AG, a branch of BMG music, agreed to use Napster as an outlet for its vast music library. The company said the move to charge subscriptions came from results of surveys from users who said they would be willing to pay for the file-sharing service.

Virus Hits Anti-Virus Companies
A real-life virus kept one anti-virus company from warning others in the industry of a newly found computer virus last week. Spanish anti-virus group Panda Software announced that five of its customers had been attacked by a new virus, known as HTML/LittleDavina, which deleted data on hard drives after dialing out to a site on the Web. The revelation surprised and angered other virus researchers because Panda didn't share samples of the virus with them in an informal group known as the Rapid Exchange of Virus Source list. The reason: The Panda member on that list had a virus--a real-life one, said Donna Rogers, chief marketing officer for Panda Software in the United States. Panda went public with HTML/LittleDavina last Friday, after four of its customers were hit with the virus. A fifth had been infected by the end of the day. The virus infects users of Microsoft's Windows 2000 who open an e-mail containing the virus.