The Pentagon’s plan to allow betting on terrorist acts through a quasi-stock-market will likely die an early death. Before it’s gone, take a look at the Policy Analysis Market web site set up for the program. Despite your instincts and the appearance of the site, this is not a joke. (According to the New York Times, some specific descriptions of potential betting events – hijackings, assassinations, and the like – were removed from the site yesterday morning.) […] continued

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Microsoft erases its failures from the official history, but the company has stumbled frequently. Here’s an article to bring back some fond memories. Remember Creative Writer and Fine Artist for kids? Plus Microsoft Bob, ActiMates Barney and Arthur toys, several early ventures into handheld devices and embedded versions of Windows in office machines, and several others. […] continued

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Since Apple Computer’s iTunes service appears to be successful, a flood of companies are announcing sites for licensed online music downloads. Here’s an article about the recent announcements.

The first one to open is’s, but Napster’s brand name will be revived by Roxio later this year, along with services from MusicMatch and AOL – and perhaps from Amazon and Microsoft, although they haven’t announced firm plans yet. […] continued

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Most Internet providers and web hosting companies have installed spam blocking software that can be turned on for your e-mail. The ISP software is likely to be conservative about blocking mail, to avoid complaints that legitimate messages were blocked. But it helps – when I turned on XO’s new software, my incoming spam messages dropped from 200 per day down to 80 per day. […] continued

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Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has a front-page article about the details of the RIAA subpoenas – almost a thousand so far, seeking the identity of Kazaa users. The RIAA has targeted students, grandfathers, and people who in some cases were sharing as few as seven songs.

This is cyberterrorism, far more real than hypothetical threats to our computers from outside our country. […] continued

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Doc Searls, editor of The Linux Journal, has written an insightful article about the threat to the Internet and how to save it. He brings together the FCC media consolidation ruling, SCO’s copyright litigation over Linux, why broadband is under attack by telcos and cable systems, why we lost Eldred vs. […] continued

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Here’s an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about Ticketmaster’s invasions of your privacy. If you purchase a ticket online, the Ticketmaster “privacy policy” opens you up to being inundated with spam, junk mail, and telemarketing from “the venues, promoters, artists, teams, leagues and other third parties associated with that concert, game or other event,” as well as Ticketmaster’s “subsidiary and parent companies and businesses, and other affiliated legal entities and businesses with whom we are under common corporate control.” […] continued

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For the next couple of days, you can get The Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy from Microsoft’s free book promotion. (See the news item below on July 4 for details.) Everyone should read THHGTTG every once in a while – this is a good excuse.

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A few years ago, Microsoft introduced two programs with similar names and similar functions – Outlook and Outlook Express. The result was years of confusion and ill will by understandably confused people clicking on the wrong icon by mistake.

I thought perhaps Microsoft would have learned something from that experience, but it’s doing an even worse job with its instant messaging software. […] continued

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Here’s an article about a new bill introduced by Howard Berman, a House representative funded by the entertainment industry, that would land a person in prison for five years and impose a fine of $250,000 for uploading a single file to a peer-to-peer network.

In the past Berman has proposed letting the RIAA attack any computer running Kazaa, and he tried to force the FBI to drop anti-terror investigations in favor of pursuing copyright violators. […] continued

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Speech recognition programs have been around for years and have made great strides recently. IBM, Dragon, and Lernout & Hauspie have all offered programs for dictating to a PC.

Nobody uses those programs, for a lot of reasons – technical and social.

Microsoft has been spending gazillions of dollars on research into speech recognition but until now has not included very much of it in their products. […] continued

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Not long ago the conflict between Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator was covered in the newspapers, filled courtrooms, and inspired heated arguments. Now there’s a lengthy lull. Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer will not be significantly updated or changed until the next version of Windows, several years away. Other browsers – e.g., […] continued

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If you’re a gamer, you might enjoy reading a review of the most accessible and widely accepted massively multiplayer online role-playing game to date – GameSpot’s review of real life. “Real life isn’t above reproach. In one of the stranger design decisions in the game, for some reason you have no choice in determining your character’s initial starting location, appearance, or gender, which are chosen for you seemingly at random. […] continued

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Bored? Go to the Google home page, type in “weapons of mass destruction” and click on “I’m Feeling Lucky.”

(The page you’ll see has risen to be the number one search result on Google for that phrase, which is why it comes up when you click on “I’m Feeling Lucky.” If you get something boring instead of an amusing joke, click here to go to the humorous page I intended.) […] continued

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The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen opened in the theatres yesterday. By most accounts it’s a pretty awful movie, but that doesn’t take away from an interesting thought.

The movie features a collection of fictional characters. Guess what they have in common:

Allan Quatermain: A character from H. Rider Haggard stories, the most famous of which is King Solomon’s Mines, 1885.

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