Cyber Ramblings - Sept 5, 2000

5 September 2000
Wanna Chat?
A group of instant chat services want their customers to be able to talk to each other, and are developing the technology to make it possible. Microsoft, Yahoo, Excite@Home, AT&T, Prodigy Communications, iCast and Tribal Voice have formed IMUnified, a coalition dedicated to making cross-service chatting possible, C-Net reported.

America Online, whose AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and ICQ have a combined 131 million registered users, hasn't joined the coalition. Instead, an AOL spokesman told C-Net, "We certainly will review their technology when it is made publicly available. We remain committed to protecting privacy and security of our instant messaging environment."

Such a stance has ruffled plenty of feathers. A Prodigy spokesman called AOL's refusal to open its chat service "reprehensible in the Internet environment."

AOL Live On Your Phone
While competing instant chat services are busy vilifying America Online, the company has been busily preparing to go wireless. According to a Reuters report, AOL members will be able to access their email, news, stock quotes and other information via AT&T's digital PocketNet telephones. Already AOL subscribers can access some AOL services through Sprint web-capable phones.

Online Sports Database Sold
Getting the facts is important. While some punters bet on their favorite teams, other punters prefer to take a more cautious and studious approach. American football fans can turn to, a Canadian firm that operates a database offering 10-years of statistics for the National Football League. Eventually the database will be expanded to cover other areas, beginning with college football next summer. The company's website launches early September.

A Taxing Question
California bill AB2412 proposes to tax online purchases made by California residents. Although it's headed to the governor's desk for signing, it's possible that Governor Gray Davis could veto the bill. Either way, the Internet tax bill is likely to renew debate on the federal level, even though Congress has nixed online sales taxes so far. Other governments are also pondering the tax question and are watching the issue in California closely.

Hoax Creates Havoc for News Service
When Internet Wire, a news wire service, unknowing ran a hoax press release, a truckload of problems resulted. The press release included false information that led to a swift 60 percent drop in the victim's stock price. Other news outlets, including Bloomberg, picked up and ran the press release, helping perpetuate the damage done to the company, Emulex. Although the alleged perpetrator has since been found, some Emulex investors that lost money because of the hoax are filing a lawsuit against Internet Wire and Bloomberg for "recklessly disseminating materially false and misleading information," according to