Eff the Ineffable, Scrute the Inscrutable
440 pages, over 11,000 quotations from the KGB Quotations Database.
A Curmudgeon's Look at Business and Technology
May 1, 2000
by Kevin G. Barkes
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Splitting up Microsoft: Don't Hold Your Breath.
Believe me, I'm no fan of the software giant, but the Department of Justice's plan to break up the huge firm into operating system and application software behemoths makes about as much sense as trying to kill a hydra by decapitating it.
Instead of one giant company, there will be two: one specializing in monopolizing operating systems and the other specializing in monopolizing office and browser application software. The effects on the marketplace will be negligible. Windows will continue to be the dominant operating system and MS Office will continue to be the best-selling applications suite.
Arguments about the effect of a breakup are probably pointless, anyway. There will be years of negotiations and appeals, and Computing's Next Great Thing may make determining Microsoft's fate about as important as deciding who makes the best daisy wheel printer.
The DOJ should let the market decide. It can help by closely monitoring the way Microsoft bundles and sells its software to computer manufacturers. Operating system pricing should be independent of the browsers or application software the vendors offer on their machines.
To further insure fairness, the DOJ should force Microsoft to completely document and publish the application programming interfaces (APIs) to its operating systems and put a Chinese wall in place between the OS and applications people to prevent Microsoft's own developers from getting advance or inside information. If any secret APIs are discovered or a feature appears in a Microsoft application too soon after a new API is introduced, the Feds should be allowed to whack Bill's outfit upside the head with a humongous fine.
If the government really wants to get nasty, it should force Microsoft to use its own software to operate its businesses. For example, the company's Hotmail subsidiary doesn't use an MS operating system or MS host software. Hotmail runs Apache servers on Unix machines.
Of course, the government probably couldn't get away with ordering Microsoft to submit to such a draconian measure. Even avowed Microsoft bashers would agree it would violate the company's eighth amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.
Phillip W. Katz, the inventor of the ubiquitous PKZip file compression utility, died on April 14 in Milwaukee. He was 37.
The Associated Press story on his demise quoted the medical examiner's findings that reportedly stated he "died of complications of chronic alcoholism."
I never met Phil Katz, but I've used his software virtually every day for the past 14 years. I probably wouldn't be in business today if it weren't for him.
Back in the late 80s, a power spike trashed my PC's hard drive while it was updating a floppy-based archive file containing all of my business financial records. The overwritten file, my only backup, was corrupted. The hard drive had been reduced to a whirring mass of iron oxide particles. It was absolutely the worst-case scenario.
I was doomed. I called PKWARE and Phil himself answered the phone. He told me to make a diskcopy of the trashed diskette and send it to him. I did so, via Federal Express, along with a check for $100.
Phil hadn't asked for any money, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Two days later, the Fedex guy rang the doorbell. I grabbed the envelope from him, dashed to my office, stuck the floppy in my replacement machine and saw, much to my relief, that my financial files were intact. Another look inside the envelope revealed a registered version of the software and a hand written note from Phil admonishing me to be more careful in the future.
That's how I'll remember Phil.
Survival of the fittest.
While I'm in favor of consumer protection, punishing perpetrators of fraud, the Stars and Stripes, Mom and apple pie, any moron dumb enough to fall for the following deserves to have his bank account sucked dry:
From: matine agabi [email@example.com] Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 5:48 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE BIZ Dear Sir, This letter may come to you as a surprise, I just want to share a mutual business relationship with you which will benefit both of us at the end of it. However let me briefly introduce myself to you, I am Mr. MATINE AGABI. I work with the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) in Nigeria. In my department we discovered an accumulated money amounting to $25 million U.S. Dollars which was not claimed by the foreign contracting firm. Now we want to use you as one such contractor firms and recommend you to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the payment of this money ($25 million). All we need from you is a viable and reliable bank account in which to pay this money. All arrangements has been completed for easy and successful transfer of this money into the bank account which you will provide for us. No risk whatsoever is involved. Please as soon as you indicate your interest on this deal SEND YOUR BANKING DETAILS Kindly keep this deal very very confidential till everything is over and you receive this money into your account. Your line of business does not matter, only your cooperation is needed. Thank you and expecting to hear from you soonest. Yours faithfully, MATINE AGABI __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online and get email alerts with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com/
Ok now, let me get this straight: an official with Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Finance (with a free Yahoo! mail account, no less) wants to give me $25 million and all he needs is my business checking account numbers so he can wire the money to my bank. And don't tell anyone about this sweetheart of a deal.
How much do you want to bet that some blithering idiot is going to send his checking account numbers to this scam artist, some serious news outfit is going to do a story on the "poor victim", some governmental agency is going to demand an investigation, and some elected official is going to want to hold hearings in order to craft special legislation to deal with this atrocious new Internet-related fraud?
As the late science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein noted, "Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation." But perhaps the most appropriate observation was the one made by the legendary 18th century card shark "Canada Bill" Jones, who proclaimed, "It is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money."
While this is a particularly outrageous example, I'm constantly amazed by the number of otherwise intelligent people who fall for this kind of stuff. In the past year, friends and acquaintances have seriously sent me obviously bogus offers from scores of companies supposedly dispensing freebies: Abercrombie & Fitch, AOL/Intel, AOL/Microsoft, AOL/Netscape, Bath & Body Works, The Gap, Honda, IBM, Miller Beer, Mars Candy Co. and Old Navy, Nokia and Ericsson, to mention only the most popular.
In addition to deals that are too good to be true, there are the stories that are too good to be true: the dying child who wants to get a record number of emails, cockroach eggs on envelope flaps, Internet Cleaning Day, KFC mutant chickens... the list is almost endless.
When someone sends you something that strains your credulity, and before you start forwarding it to everyone you know, do what I do: fire up your web browser and jump on over to http://urbanlegends.about.com/culture/urbanlegends/. Odds are you'll find it there.
Just to be on the safe side, I've added Mr. Matine Agabi of the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) in Nigeria to the KGB Report mailing list. Matine, if you read this, just pick up the phone and call me collect. I'll arrange to have a courier drop by your office in person and pick up my $25 million check. No need for you to go to all that trouble to wire the money to my bank.
It's the least I can do.
KGB In The News
Our ongoing child pornography/identity theft business with Network Solutions was featured by internet.com's Domain Notes website, http://www.domainnotes.com/articles.html. The tease is pure tabloid: "One man's story of how a domain hijacker made changes to his domain registration without his knowledge--and how he was prosecuted for a child porn site as a result!" Maybe they meant "persecuted"... last time I checked, the ominous white vans of Janet Reno's Elian Liberation Squad were nowhere to be seen. Check out the sordid details yourself at http://wwwkgbreport.com/kgbreport/20000113.html.
The Official KGB Windows 2000 Migration Advisor:
A few more adjustments...
We're still tweaking the email version of the newsletter and based on reader feedback, we've made some additional changes.
The version distributed via email is now in plain text format. That's because many of our readers use email programs that don't have HTML capability, or view their messages offline and can't handle the graphics and hypertext links without reconnecting with their Internet service provider.
Those of you who are online or who prefer the embellishments provided by HTML can always access the current issue of the newsletter on our web site by linking to http://wwwkgbreport.com/currentkgbrep.shtml. You can read all of our back issues by visiting http://wwwkgbreport.com/kgbrep.shtml.
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Answer to our previous question: Minuet in G
was recorded as A Lover's Concerto by the Toys in 1965 and played an important
role in the plot of the 1984 film
. Congrats (again) to Tom Heald of Rapid City, SD, who was the first person with the correct answer.
Useless Web Sites of the Week:
http://pemtropics.mit.edu/~jcho/spam/ is the official home page of the SPAM Haiku Archive. Yep, the wondrous mystery meat "has spawned a post-modern, cross-cultural literary form: the SPAM haiku, or SPAM ku", and this site boasts over 14,000 searchable examples as well as SPAM sonnets, SPAM limericks and other forms of SPAM poetry.
And if you're tired of Easter eggs of the hard-boiled variety, consider http://www.eeggs.com/, The Easter Egg Archive, which is dedicated to listing the hidden features and novelties programmers are wont to conceal in their works. Thousands of computer software and hardware eggs are listed here, as well as a collection of hidden meanings, in-jokes and secrets about books, television programs and movies.
This week's irritation: the annoying head and hand gestures used by persons appearing in commercials or delivering the news.
You know what I mean... newscasters who start a story and then tilt their heads at an odd angle. I assume the movement is intended to show the interest of the newsreader in the feature. Instead, it resembles the look a dog gives you after a particularly bombastic eructation.
And those hand gestures! While they talk, they extend their arms, bent at the elbow as if using both arms to shake hands, and make small, allegedly expressive movements. You'd think they'd realize the potential for abuse. I'm seriously considering creating a frame capture of a male speaker engaging in this behavior, with the caption "Well actually, Sally, it's more like a loaf of French bread..."
You just know there are a bunch of high-priced media consultants laughing their butts off on the way to the bank.
Have a pet peeve? Send it on to email@example.com.
Quotations of the Week:
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KGB Report, Number 28, May 1, 2000 (electronic ISSN:1525-898X; print ISSN: 1525-9366)
Written by Kevin G. Barkes
Published by Kevin G. Barkes, 1512 Annette Avenue, Library, Pennsylvania (USA) 15129-9735-125. email: email@example.com. Copyright © 2000-2013 by Kevin G. Barkes. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the publisher, except for brief excerpts with full source attribution. So there. Internet web site syndication provided by iSyndicate.com. This issue's Flesch-Kincaid reading level: grade 10.3. Subscriptions to electronically distributed versions of KGB Report are available at no cost. Printed subscriptions delivered via first class mail are also available. For additional information, send requests to the street address listed above or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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