More Junkmail from Bob!

Tuesday, August 01, 2000
Important Stuff.

Click here for the web version of this Junkmail. It has thumbnail pictures and behaves a little better.

In this Junkmail I'm using the IP address "" instead of "" for my web site because of some DNS problems that have been occurring at Learn2. It seems that a lot of customers haven't been able to send me email or get to the web site lately, so the surefire method is to use the IP address and forget the lousy DNS servers.

Every web site name or email server on the internet has a 4-digit number, where each digit can be from 1 to 255 (or maybe 0 or 256). The DNS server is a computer that translates domain names like or into IP addresses like or If this isn't working right, you get funny error messages when you try to go to a web site.

The Concorde

Last week was a tough week for the trial lawyers of America. A supersonic airliner crashed, killing all aboard and some on the ground. The travesty is that this crash of one of the most famous planes in the world happened in France, and there was only one American fatality. Although Air France promised to kill more Americans next time and attempt to do so on U.S. territory, the trial lawyers are still considering a lawsuit against Air France for loss of income.

Napster on Death Row

Judge Marilyn ordered Napster to be shut down last week, saying that Napster encourages "wholesale infringing" of the recording industry's copyrights. An appeals court issued a stay of execution for Napster, but it looks like it's only temporary. Gnutella, which does not operate its own servers, said, "Thanks, Marilyn!" and is taking up the slack. has a pretty good analogy of the situation, at least in the eyes of Napster fans. has the program if you want to download it.

I think the recording industry will probably respond in the short term with a lot of lawsuits, and in the long term with some new media like DVD that's hard decode and copy to a hard drive. The new media will have to be smaller and more convenient or people won't change to it.

Faster than light?

The week before last, three people named Wang, Kuzmich, and Dogariu published an article on how some gain-assisted light seems to go faster than the speed of light. I thought this was pretty interesting. I read several news articles about it but they didn't seem to make much sense and didn't agree with each other. So I read their paper. Here's how they did it. And here's their paper.

I still don't understand it, by the way. They use a lot of terms I don't know. As near as I can tell, the pulses of light interfere with some Cesium atoms like wave interference and seem to go faster than light. They leave open the possibility of tiny pulses transmitting information faster than light. This would be good for computers, if it turns out to be correct and practical, because Intel, Micron, and other chip makes have been running up against some limits of the speed of light.

Pictures of Today

This was taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. It's the nebula NGC 2440. Near the center of the nebula is a white dwarf.             


Some Aspens near Aspen:


Oshkosh Pictures

I went to Oshkosh last weekend. Here's the biggest plane there:


It's a Super Guppy, owned by NASA. It first flew in 1976. There were four built, but this one is the only one still flying. Here's a picture of this one when it was new. They were loading a couple of test aircraft to be taken from Edwards AFB, CA to the Wright Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. These two small planes were used in the development of the space shuttle.


Here's a new plane designed by Rutan. It flew for the first time last March.


His company is pretty impressive not because it designs neat planes, but because it designs them, and then builds them, and then flies them. The Proteus flew over Oshkosh last year, transmitting visual and infrared images of Oshkosh that you could see on the ground. It flies at 59,000 to 65,000 feet for up to 18 hours.


Here's his company:

A Concorde was scheduled to be at Oshkosh last week, taking people for rides, but they cancelled after the crash in Paris. There were lots of Oshkosh 2000 Concorde souvenirs available cheap.

Here are a bunch of Oshkosh Pictures, and here's where to read the Official Oshkosh Stuff.


Speaking of airplanes, we got a new plane today. It's called an Air-cam. Some assembly required.

        Img_5228.jpg      Img_5231.jpg

Here's one that's finished.


It lands and takes off in less than 300 feet and climbs at 1500 feet per minute.

GOP Convenes

I have finally found a web site less interesting than Junkmail:

I think the word that best describes the Republican National Convention is choreography. The press treats it like a sporting event, talking more about strategy and whose vote the politicians are vying for than about policies and their results. I think I'll let them enjoy yet another political convention without my participation.


Toys-R-Us sells toys and things online, like lots of other companies. But Toys-R-Us is in trouble with privacy advocates. They've been transmitting customer data from orders to the marketing firm Coremetrics, including names, addresses, web sites visited, etc. At least three other companies were doing the same thing. Coremetrics said, "That's OK, we're nice guys and would never misuse your personal data." Toys-R-Us said, "Huh? What data?"

DeCSS and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Last November in Junkmail 13 I wrote about some people who wrote a program called DeCSS that decodes DVD movies. Now it's in court and things are getting interesting. A Computer Science guy from Carnegie Mellon named David testified and seemed to get through to Judge Lewis, who had been completely on the side of the motion picture industry.

In the meantime, Copyleft had their t-shirts subpoenaed by the MPAA. This is funny! I think it's true, but I haven't been able to find a copy of the subpoena so it could be just a good story. Copyleft is an organization that supports free and open source code for computer software. They're not a pirating organization, they just encourage people to write free stuff.

Here's where to get your t-shirt. I happen to have one myself. I hope the movie police don't raid my house.

Iraqi Hackers?

A couple of years ago, Iraq ordered the UN inspectors out of the country. The U.S. said Iraq hired some hackers to break into U.S. military computers. They got into about 200 defense sites, although none were classified. Last week, two years later, the "chief U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol" told "the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information, and Technology" it was just a couple of kids in California and a couple of kids in Israel. I guess they forgot to mention this earlier.

((o)) 1942, all rites observed. No unauthorized, unsolicited, unsanctioned, or unappreciated duplication and distribution of this fine piece of work is prohibited. If you would like to see past Junkmails you should get your mind out of the gutter. Then go to:

If you would like to stop getting Junkmail, change your email address, remain disconnected from the internet (no, I'm not talking about, or contact Judge Lewis Kaplan and ask if he'd like a copy of the DeCSS source code.

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