3rd > October > 2000 Archive

Fair Trade officials tick off Apple Japan

Japan's Fair Trade Commission today announced it had officially warned Apple's Japanese operation not to force retailers to sell consumer-oriented iBooks and iMacs at list price or above. The warning follows a ten-month investigation into Apple Japan over suspected retail price fixing - a violation of Section 19, Articles 12 (retail price maintenance) and 13 (illegal restrictions on trading) of the Japanese Anti-monopoly Law. The examination kicked off with raids on Apple's Japanese HQ last December. The FTC said in a statement that the enquiry was now complete, and that it believed the Mac maker had indeed applied pressure to retailers to ensure they didn't undercut Apple's list prices. However, the statement also said that no penalty would be imposed on Apple, suggesting the price-fixing was not widespread, or that the FTC could find no solid evidence for it. Certainly, Apple has always denied any wrongdoing, or at least nothing that's illegal. "We believe our business activities did not breach Japanese laws," an Apple spokesperson said, cited by Reuters. ® Related Stories Apple Japan Fair Trade probe -- details emerge Fair Trade investigators raid Apple Japan For all our Apple stories, check out The Mac Channel
Tony Smith, 03 Oct 2000

The Sofacam archive is go!

Here you have it folks - that Sofacam archive in full. There's never a dull moment down at Vulture Central, as these selected highlights show... Let's hear it for Steve Jobs Next up is Bill Gates and mates Then Gates and mate Finally Gates and no mates A Reg cub reporter comes over all tired and emotional We're not quite sure what this is all about The head of international merchandising works himself to death Sean Fleming gets the bullet Andrew Orlowski and friend pop in for a chat Sean Fleming sent on his way with PR bunny ears Mike Magee, we salute you Lucy's dad nips in for a cuppa Linus 'Fish Fingers' Birtles walks it likes he talks it Al Gore begins to get that sinking feeling Florida can be a dangerous spot for a Democrat Oh dear, oh dear...
Lester Haines, 03 Oct 2000

J'accuse: ICANN's ‘Government sponsored extortion’ unconstitutional

Governance expert Michael Froomkin has published a draft of his eagerly-awaited analysis of ICANN today, a document which could prove to be a catalyst for new legal activities aimed at clipping the activities of the Internet quango. Froomkin warns that unless the relationship between the United States Department of Commerce and ICANN is clarified, the ICANN model could be adopted for the oversight of B2B commerce or distance learning in the US. He describes the paper entitled Wrong Turn In Cyberspace: Using ICANN to route around the APA and the constitution as an attempt to answer to "the central, if perhaps parochial, question: whether a U.S. administrative agency is or should be allowed to call into being a private corporation and then lend it sufficient control over a government resource so that the corporation can use that control effectively to make policy decisions that the agency cannot - or dares not - make itself." Froomkin is an authority on the legality of government agencies and a professor at the University of Miami Law School. "Depending on the precise nature of the DoC-ICANN relationship, not all of which is public, DoC's use of ICANN to run the DNS violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and/or the US Constitution," he notes. It's a long and detailed draft, divided into two parts, and includes a concise layman's history of Internet domain name and number governance. We touched on Froomkin's arguments in our earlier story, which you can find here. Froomkin adds some urgency to the debate by pointing out that ICANN - incredibly - has been cited as the model for regulation of distance learning and e-commerce over B2B closed networks. "The specter of a series of ICANN clones in the U.S. or in cyberspace should give one pause, because ICANN is a very bad model, one that undermines the process values that motivate both the APA and the due process clause of the Constitution," he writes. That's because ICANN is, as Froomkin puts it, "an essentially unaccountable private body that many feel has already abused its authority in at least small ways and is indisputably capable of abusing it in big ways.... So far, ICANN appears to be accountable to no one except the DoC itself, a department with a strong vested interest in declaring its DNS "privatization" policy to be a success." He adds "by lending ICANN its control over the DNS, DoC created a system in which social policy is made not by due process of law, but by something that begins to resemble government-sponsored extortion." To support this point of view, Froomkin notes the "pay to play" aspect of ICANN meetings, which naturally favour the wealthier participants rather than NGOs. At its Vienna meeting ICANN recently suspended Internet broadcasts of the proceedings until viewers agreed to share the cost of the broadcast, which was four times the going rate. ® You can download the draft in PDF format here Related Stories New legal hurdles loom for ICANN(Part 1) The triangulations of Esther Dyson Ad agency pays Net Queen Dyson $10,000 a day Users come last in ICANN elections scramble ICANN adds domain names, stores up troubles
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Oct 2000

Readers' Gallery

We asked you to send in groovy shots of yourselves kitted out in Register gear. Why? Nobody knows. But if we really like the cut of your jib, we'll send you an exclusive Reg pin. Below are some of the more interesting snaps we've received. If you think you've got what it takes, send us your pics here. According to its subject - one Toby Bryans - this pic was taken atop a rock in Nevshir, Kappadokya in which Troglodytes used to live... Appropriate, then, that he's wearing one of our old Bastard Operator shirts. Well done that man. Showing the absurd lengths to which people will go to get a Reg pin, Craig Poxon threw himself out of a plane wearing one of our top-notch Vulture Central shirts. Madness, sheer madness. Network engineer Jurgen Raedts hails from Leuven in Belgium. Lacking any worthy backdrop in his own country, he took himself off to gay Paree and posed in front of the Louvre. It was, he notes, freezing. Put a jumper on then, you silly boy. A right rogues gallery featuring David Geer (left) and Roy Dexter. Roy, if your fake ID's as bad as your mocked-up Reg cap, I wouldn't try using it in a liquor store. Syspark Inc. php-mysql programmer Mathieu Dubé was snapped by J-M Dault from Mandraksoft at the Montreal Comdex. Unfortunately, the background was so uninspiring, we decided to send him and the lovely Roberta Michel to a more agreeable location - in this case to Monrovia, capital of Liberia. Enjoy your stay! Good work in Reg hats by Philippe Wagner of Horizon PR (left) and Espen Lund of Fileflow. Proof, were it needed, of the superior dress sense of our French and Norwegian cousins. Apart, that is, from the occasional comedy tie and mind-expanding nylon shirt. One last thing - Espen, your bloody hat's on fire! Not a reader pic at all, but too good to waste. Sort of sums it all up. Mike Magee, we salute you... Going for gold in the 'most improbable name for a PR bunny' event is exotic Tiggy Tonks. Tiggy was captured sporting Reg polo shirt and cap by our very own Paparazzi O'Leery. He later sighed: 'I'd like to say that she's a racy little Spanish spitfire with more dangerous curves than the road to Acapulco. I can't though, because she's English.' Quite so. A lovely snap of Charlotte Moores (5) posing with dad Simon's Reg logo plane. Apparently they were off to drop water bombs on the Microsoft campus. Good effort.
Lester Haines, 03 Oct 2000

BOFH: No service therefore no denial

Episode 34Episode 34 BOFH 2000: Episode 34 "I'm a bit concerned about these viruses that seem to be springing up all over the world!" the Boss burbles upon entering Mission Control under a medium head of steam - obviously someone's accidentally exposed him to a broadsheet newspaper on his way to work. "Virii?" I ask, attempting to divine the purpose of the visit "Yes. Like the D.O.S.virus" "You mean the one perpetrated by Microsoft? I thought only I knew about that!" "What?! No, the Denial of Service Virus" "Ah, the Denial of Service *VIRUS*. Yes, I've been a little worried about that myself. But we found a way around it" "And what's that?" "Well we've found that if you don't actually *HAVE* a service, it can't be denied.." "What?!" "A little joke!" I lie, "But we've not been hit by a Denial of Service Attack so far" "How would you know?" "Because the service of a particular SERVER would go through the floor" "Yes, but how would you KNOW?" "Ah, I see! Well generally, a denial of service attack would affect us like so." >CLICK!< >WHIRRrrrrr....<

"What did you just do?" "Switched off the Financials Database machine" "Why?" "To illustrate a point. As I was saying, a denial of service attack is usually first noticed by the users..." >ring ring<

>Click< >wwwwwWWWWHHHHIRRRRR...<

"And see all those call lights on the phone? That's how WE know." "Unless of course we never left our desks and continuously monitored machine performance" the PFY adds, trying to find a reason to browse porn sites for 8 whole hours a day, without the normal break for lunch... 1/4 of an hour later, the financials server is back in business but the boss has obviously been wound up by someone and wants to delve into the whole virus quagmire. "So we have antivirus products for our mail server and our Windows machines, but what do we have for our Unix Servers" "Nothing. They don't need it per se" "But how do you KNOW?" Sadly, the boss slams the cover on the server before I can repeat the demonstration, which just goes to show you can teach an old dog to be afraid. Very afraid... "I don't know what you mean" "Well years ago when I was a Unix Admin..." I only just manage to suppress the cry that he wouldn't even qualify as a unix admin's ARSEHOLE, as he continues.. "..I used to just use strings to see if anything nefarious was going on" the Boss finishes, letting us in on a technical secret bound to take us to the top of our chosen field. "Strings?" the PFY asks, feigning stupidity "You mean like the non-null terminated jobbies that let you read on into virtual memory?" "?" the Boss responds in turn, before continuing "No, I mean the program strings" "Strings.." I add thoughtfully, allowing the Boss his moment in the technical sun "No, doesn't ring any bells with me" "Oh for Pete's sake, you call yourself professionals!" he burbles happily, milking his supposed advanced knowledge for all it's worth "Strings - it's a great program to extract the text from files. Then you can search it for things that don't look right" "Oh, so you're saying we should get the text out of these files, see if any of it looks suspicious or not, and if so delete the infected files?" "YES!" he gasps, marvelling at the beauty of his plan "But what if they use some trivial encoding method to ensure that plaintext strings aren't included in the file?" "Well obviously there's a few programs that it won't highlight, but we can clear those up later by looking for modification dates" he counters, obviously having read the text entitled "hak3r hunt1ng f0r m0r0ns", circa 1981 "Right, so what should we be looking for?" the PFY asks, flipping to the Finance Systems AIX server console. "Suspicious strings" The Boss says, really adding value to the conversation "Like?" "I don't know, suspicious ones" "What about ones that refer to the password file?" I suggest helpfully "Definitely! They'll be stealing names and passwords!!!" "No.. .. .nothing.. " the PFY mumbles quietly, "NO WAIT, there's something in a program called init and another in a program called cron!!!" "The sneaky bastards!" I cry, figuring what the PFY's up to "They put them in programs commonly executed by the superuser which no-one kno..." "..and in id, at, and atrm!!!" "It's worse than we thought!!!" I cry "What do they do, grab the password and give error messages?!?" "There's error messages in there - do you think they're using it to cover up the access" "Of course!" the boss cries excitedly "That's how they hide what they're doing – With Error MESSAGES!!!!!" "Uh-oh, I see there's a root process running cron now!!!" "Kill it!!" The boss gasps >clickety clack<

"ls has error messages in it too!!!" the pfy cries, keeping the level of panic up to 100% "DELETE IT QUICKLY BEFORE SOMEONE USES IT!!!!" And the funny thing is, it's fairly surprising how long a system will stay up when you remove all the executables, most of the libraries, and trash a filesystem or two. "THEY'VE CRASHED THE SYSTEM!!!!" the PFY cries, even more urgently "THAT MEANS THEY'VE MOVED ON TO ANOTHER SYSTEM!!!" I cry, before the boss can see reason.... And the rest, as they say, is history. The boss took it well though - fell on his sword with only the slightest wimper. I feel a tinge of guilt - but then realise there's plenty of Unix Admin jobs out there waiting for him.... ?reg; BOFH: Kit and Caboodle It's all here BOFH is the Bastard Operator from Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.
Simon Travaglia, 03 Oct 2000