StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 08/10/01

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StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 08/10/01

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The News – 08/10/01

A Grand Conspiracy Theory

Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs sends along a pointer to Robert X. Cringely’s polemic, “The Death of TCP/IP: Why the Age of Internet Innocence is Over.” This was actually one of the top links listed on Blogdex , which was covered in a recent SNS.

Anyway, Cringely blames Microsoft and its “business decision” not to include security in its operating systems or applications for the sorry state of affairs today. Any enterprising moron can create and release a virus based on Microsoft’s Visual Basic and its ever-helpful Outlook email client. Cringely states that the impending Windows XP “is the first home version of Windows to allow complete access to TCP/IP sockets, which can be exploited by viruses to do all sorts of damage. Windows XP uses essentially the same TCP/IP software as Windows 2000, except that XP lacks 2000’s higher-level security features. In order to be backward compatible with applications written for Windows 95, 98, and ME, Windows XP allows any application full access to raw sockets.” If you’re not sure of what raw sockets are, basically what Cringely is saying is that XP is bad because virus writers and crackers will have tremendously more power to wreak havoc.

Cringely doesn’t stop there. He says he’s heard from several sources that Microsoft’s Grand Plan is to make the TCP/IP protocol that runs the Internet unusable so the company can ride to the rescue with its own proprietary protocol. He even postulates that Microsoft would get Congress to mandate the new protocol to solve kiddie porn and other disgusting Net problems. It is a tribute to Microsoft’s already considerable conspiratorial efforts that this “rumor” doesn’t sound implausible. The company is already pushing its Passport technology as the standard for managing users’ personal information on the Internet, for a fee, of course. Hook Passport to a proprietary protocol from Microsoft, and you’ve got a pretty believable scenario for Web hegemony.

Personally, I’m skeptical that Microsoft would be willing to damage the Web in order to gain control over it. I’m much more willing to believe that the addition of raw sockets access without sufficient security is just another blunder by a company that can’t seem to buy a security clue (despite $12 billion a year in research). Nonetheless, I do not doubt that Microsoft will employ its very effective “embrace and extend” technique to try to gain control of the Internet. I fully expect to see some kind of “value-added” proprietary communications protocol come out of the monopoly. But it seems very unlikely that Microsoft would sabotage one of its products to bring about total control of the Net. But that’s just my opinion, and I could be wrong.


Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: I’ll be speaking at the Minnesota Entrepreneurs Club pre-meeting workshop at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14th in St. Paul, MN, not the 7th as previously announced. The meeting is at the Minnesota Business Academy . My topic is “Will You Have to Have It? What You Need to Know About Future Tech and Your Business.

    Also, I’ve re-ranked the trends in the TrendSpot , and added a new one, Remaking the Web.
    MN Entrepreneurs

  • Test Your Security: By now, you might be wondering if you need some protection against viruses, worms, cracker attacks, and all the other baddies on the Internet. A good place to start is Steve Gibson’s Shields Up site, which will analyze the current security of your computer and make recommendations on improving it. One thing everyone should have is a personal firewall such as the free Zone Alarm from Zone Labs. Even if you have a hardware firewall, Zone Alarm can protect you against Trojans, programs that mimic real, useful programs, but do bad things like sending your passwords to an Internet server. BTW, you should always run a firewall when using a dialup connection to the Internet. Once you do, you’ll be surprised at how many times Zone Alarm alerts you to an intrusion attempt it has blocked.
    Zone Alarm
  • Of Patents and Matchmaking: Alert SNS Reader John Gehring had a couple of comments about the previous SNS: “Regarding patents, the plant biotech industry went through the same process. I handled media relations when our competitors issued news releases announcing extremely broad patents. Every time our employees and dealers freaked, and the courts overturned every broad patent in the end.

    ”The P2P dating app reminded me of a bar that I went to in NJ in 1989. In a cruder version of what your source describes, each table had a large number posted, and a phone that you could use to call other tables. No caller ID back then, though.” Sure, there are lower tech versions of the matchmaking app, but one difference could be the amount of control involved. If you go to one of those bars, you’re looking to meet someone. But if you happen to forget to turn off that function on your PDA, or if you can’t turn it off, that could be disoptimal.

  • With This Ring, I Thee Scan: Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs noticed that UPS is implementing what is being called the largest wireless LAN and short-range wireless Bluetooth network. It involves a wireless Bluetooth ring-based scanner that workers throughout its worldwide distribution hubs will use to scan barcodes on packages and transmit the information through a hip-based 802.11b wireless terminal. The brown-suited Lords of the Rings are expected to help the company reap a payoff of $13.7 million per year over a five-year period. After a pilot at their Chicago facility, UPS plans to rollout 50,000 Motorola terminals next year to its 2,000 worldwide distribution centers. This project is especially notable since Bluetooth and 802.11b, which operate on the same unlicensed wireless frequencies, have been known to not get along too well.

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from . This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at . Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

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