Cyber Ramblings - Sep 4, 2001

4 September 2001
New Presidential Site Has Children's Theme

Presidential pooches Spotty and Barney are ready to welcome young people to the White House's new Web site. India the cat and Ofelia the longhorn cow are waiting, too.

The site, redesigned for the Bush White House, made its debut Friday and includes links to presidential announcements, briefings, appointments and radio addresses.

It offers a Spanish-language section, a voice synthesizer and closed-caption Web casts to make it more accessible for people with disabilities.

The children's section has a photo album of the presidential pets and offers a virtual tour of the White House led by Spotty, President George W. Bush's English springer spaniel. Barney, Bush's Scottish terrier, tries to help kids learn their ABCs, while Ofelia teaches a lesson on American heroes. India, the black cat that is nicknamed Willie, leads a history quiz.

NextWave Awarded Licenses in Court Battle

Under court order, the Federal Communications Commission on Friday returned valuable wireless licenses to NextWave Telecom Inc., a bankrupt company fighting to retain control of its coveted spectrum.

NextWave sued the FCC for seizing the licenses, which were re-auctioned in January to the nation's top wireless providers for $16 billion - $11 billion more than NextWave had agreed to pay for them in a special 1996 auction for small businesses.

The company filed for bankruptcy after paying $500 million toward the licenses to provide wireless services in lucrative metropolitan markets including New York, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco. NextWave had just begun to build the network; it said limited service would be available next year.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the FCC to return thel icenses, based on earlier rulings that the agency could not seize the property of a company reorganizing under bankruptcy protection.

The FCC is asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

Parents Communicating More With Teachers Via E-Mail

Parent-teacher e-mails are taking hold these days, a new survey suggests, with more than one in four parents of Internet-connected teenagers saying they have swapped electronic messages with a teacher.

The survey, released Saturday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, found that 28 percent of parents have e-mailed teachers.

Most parents feel Internet use, for all its possible perils, benefits their children, Project Director Lee Rainie said.

The survey also found that 18 percent of students know of someone who has used the Internet for cheating, and that 58 percent have used a school Web site or one set up specifically for a class.

Forty-one percent of students said they use e-mail or instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork.

Study of Non-trademarked URLs to be Released Later This Month

Celebrities like Madonna and companies like Microsoft have already proven they have a commercial interest in protecting their names from cybersquatters who set up Web sites using their famous monikers.

But what about people and places like President Bush and Champagne, France that have no trademark?

A new U.N. study reports that little can be done to protect such people, places or brand names, because they don't have the advantage of trademark law.

For now, that means the rights to are owned by a U.S. company, and is based in the Caribbean.

For the past 21 months, the issue of Internet names has been governed by a system set up by the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization. The system has allowed celebrities and trademarked companies to gain the rights to their Web names from people or companies who registered them with the hope of reselling the names for a fortune.

WIPO's system has so far received more than 3,000 cybersquatting complaints and has solved more than 80 percent of them using the guidance of trademark law.

WIPO embarked on its study last July at the request of Australia, the United States and European countries that were concerned about problems in enforcing control of domain names. It will present the conclusions to its member governments at the end of September.

Deutsche Telekom Selling Cable TV Operations to U.S. Firm

Deutsche Telekom AG said Tuesday it has signed definitive agreements to sell cable television operations in six German regions for about $5 billion to U.S.-based Liberty Media Corp.

Deutsche Telekom first announced the deal with Liberty in June. It still requires approval from antitrust authorities.

More than 10 million homes are served by the cable network in six regions, Deutsche Telekom said. The six operations employ nearly 2,800 people.

Under the agreement, Liberty is also acquiring the operations of two related Telekom units in the regions, Deutsche Telekom Kabel-Services GmbH and MediaServices GmbH.

Motorola Develops Fast Chip

Motorola Inc. has developed a computer chip it says is 35 times faster than today's models and will cut the cost of manufacturing electronics such as cell phones and DVD players, the company announced Tuesday.

The semiconductor combines silicon, an inexpensive material commonly used to produce semiconductors, and gallium arsenide, a more expensive material that can transmit signals at much higher speeds, Motorola said.

The discovery solves a problem the semiconductor industry has been trying to solve for nearly 30 years. The technology should give consumers smarter, cheaper electronic products that perform better, the company said.

Motorola has applied for 270 patents for the materials and production process. The U.S. Patent Office is scheduled to publish the patent applications Tuesday.

HP Buying Compaq

High-tech giant Hewlett-Packard Co. is buying Compaq Computer Corp. for about $25 billion in a blockbuster merger that brings together two rivals struggling to survive in the battered computer industry.

The stock swap announced Monday night creates a behemoth that has 150,000 employees and $87 billion in revenue - about the size of IBM Corp. - with products not only in the personal computer business but also in computer servers, printers and high-tech services.

Both Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP and Houston-based Compaq have been hurt by technology sector downturns in the past year and each company imposed layoffs to deal with shrinking profits.

Another 15,000 jobs will be cut as the companies combine, lowering the eventual total work force to 135,000, Compaq chief executive and chairman Michael Capellas said at a meeting with analysts.

Compaq and HP are Nos. 2 and 4 in worldwide PC sales, but their combined total would surpass leader Dell Computer Corp., according to the most recent figures from Gartner Dataquest. Compaq ranks first in worldwide server sales, while HP is fourth.

Australian Case Against U.S. Site Moves Forward

The Victoria Supreme Court has decided that a defamation case against a U.S. Web site can proceed in Australian courts. The decision effectively confirms that publishers should comply with the strictest laws of every country in which an article can be viewed to avoid the risk of being sued abroad.

The argument was between the U.S.-based business information service Dow Jones and an Australian entrepreneur, Joseph Gutnick. Gutnick sued over an allegedly defamatory article about him that was posted by Dow Jones on its Web site. The major question for the Victoria court was whether the case should be held in Australia or the United States.

Gutnick argued that because the article could be viewed in Australia, the hearing should be held where he was most defamed. Dow Jones argued that the article was written by an American, in the United States, and was intended for U.S. consumption. Therefore, they thought it should be held there.

Rejecting the arguments of Dow Jones, the court ruled that the hearing should go ahead in Victoria. In doing so, it asserted jurisdiction over a U.S. article. It said that publication of an article occurs where it is read, not where it is produced. Turns to Courts For Help

U.S.-based software company has gone to court over allegations made against it by the Interactive Advertising Bureau that's pop-up advertisement software, which masks the ads on other Web sites, is anti-competitive. offers a free software download that is intended as a "companion" to Web surfing. Its main function is to recognize and automatically complete registration forms on Web sites. However, makes its money from selling ads. When users of the software are looking at Web sites, ads from's sponsors pop-up on top of the existing banner ads on a site.'s lawsuit asks a U.S. District Court in San Francisco to declare that it is not participating in any illegal activity through its use of the pop-up ads. It is also seeking punitive damages against the IAB because it claims the IAB was "libelously disparaging its service" and causing the company to lose sales.

Yahoo! Threatens with Suit

Yahoo! has threatened action against porn site over alleged trademark infringement, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. uses a technique known as a wildcard to bring Internet users to its site if they enter any word in their browser followed by "". Yahoo! was upset that users entering would be "diverted" to's site.

Although does not have a sub-domain called, the wildcard system, which is offered as a service by some domain name registrars, forwards all traffic for unnamed sub-domains to the main site located at Without the wildcard service, traffic will reach an error page if there is no site located at the sub-domain.