Faster than a speeding SONET packet, more powerful than an Origin 2000 supercomputer.... It’s this week’s news from around the electronic domain.
♦ You won’t find that in your briefs, counselor: Lawyers and others interested in the Florida Supreme Court got a real eyeful this weekend when they visited the judiciary’s page on the Web. An intruder was somehow able to replace most of the graphics on the page, which normally offers links to legal resources, with pornographic pictures showing various, uh, legal entanglements.
Technicians took the pages offline and replaced them with backup copies, but not before word of the change hit the streets. A spokesman for the court says that during the past few days the page has received four times the normal amount of accesses that it usually does. “We’ve had a significant number of hits on our home page,” says Craig Waters, executive assistant to Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan. “With all the publicity surrounding this, a lot of people are curious.”
Officials say they intend to prosecute the intruder, if they ever find him. Several similar incidents in the past year, including one involving the Central Intelligence Agency Web site, have led to no arrests.
♦ Only a week after astounding critics by reporting a profit for the quarter, Apple Computer is on the move again. This time, the company is planning a risky move into a market that no software business has ever been able to crack: schoolchildren. Apple recently unveiled the Apple eMate 300, an $800 portable computer that looks like a normal laptop with a keyboard and a flip-up screenthe only difference being that it comes in a rugged case built to survive the rigors of a harsh school day. The company plans to sell the machine directly to elementary and high schools beginning early next year.
“The federal government says we need to get to a 3-to-1 student-to-computer ratio by the year 2000,” says Jim Groff, general manager of Apple’s information appliances group. “I would say the eMate is the only credible vehicle for accomplishing that.”
Although the eMate is the only computer of its type, it might be hard for Apple to market. Based on technology used in the earlier Newton, a so-called “Personal Digital Assistant,” it will be incompatible with either the Macintosh or Windows-based computers.
♦ One strike, then two.... What does the future hold for Wired Ventures, the publisher of the popular magazine Wired?
The San Francisco company has been planning to offer its stock publicly for the better part of a year. Last week, it was to put out an initial offering of 4.75 million shares. Instead, that number was dropped to 3 million shares and then taken off the market entirely.
Wired said in a statement released late Friday that the decision to pull the deal for the second time “was based solely on market conditions, particularly as they pertain to Internet-related companies.” The move was not altogether unexpected. Wired Ventures offers only one print publication and one high-profile Web site. Many analysts believe the company has not diversified enough to sell its stock on the open market. As of Sept. 30, the company had nearly $4 million in cash, but it also had a deficit of $36.8 million.
♦ In better shape financially, despite strong opposition from one of the wealthiest competitors in the world, is Netscape Corporation. The 2-year-old company has posted a profit of $7.7 million, or 9 cents a share. A company spokesman attributes the boost to sales by computer resellers and also to the success of the Netscape-branded World Wide Web server software.
Netscape’s only previously posted profit was a mere $175,000.
♦ Chances are, if you’ve posted a message anywhere in a newsgroup, or if your e-mail address is somewhere on the Web, you may have gotten a message the FBI considers worthy of investigation. Last weekend, thousands of users received a message from an America Online user offering to sell child pornography. “Police departments and FBI offices around the country have received numerous reports relating to the e-mail message,” the bureau said in a statement. “The message is a hoax and the matter is being investigated.”
America Online says it has disabled the accounts from which the message originated. The e-mail message offered pictures, video and audio tapes, posters, and games based on child pornography for sale with an address in the Jackson Heights section of New York City.
♦ If you’re a surf bum who prefers silicon to sand, you’ll want to visit the Nashville Convention Center Oct. 30 and 31 for the NetCom/Tennessee ’96 convention. You’ll be able to hang ten with the many computer vendors and Internet-related businesses setting up there. Digital Equipment, MCI, Oracle, and Silicon Graphics will all be present, along with local Internet service providers such as U.S. Internet and MindSpring. Also available for more serious surfers will be forums on the Java programming language and much more.
Joel Moses can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.