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Anne Lindner

Netcetera - Nov. 13, 2001

13 November 2001 Puts Up For Sale Sign

Struggling Internet retailer OurHouse Inc. has halted sales operations after less than two years in business and is in talks to sell its assets, its CEO said Friday.

The 2-year-old company, which failed to carve out a profitable niche in the highly competitive home improvement industry, stopped selling merchandise last month and removed all but the name and logo from its Web site. had offered more than 30,000 home-related items including hardware, household appliances and furniture.

Much of the inventory has been sold to Boston-based SmartBargains, which announced the acquisition Thursday and added the inventory--gourmet kitchen products and other housewares--to its Web site,

Government Computers Get Failing Grade for Security

Despite dramatically tighter security at U.S. buildings since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, a House of Representatives panel is giving the government failing marks for lax protection of federal computer networks against hackers, terrorists and others.

The "F" grade dropped from the "D" that the government earned in September 2000. Two-thirds of federal agencies--including the departments of Defense, Commerce, Energy, Justice and Treasury--flunked the latest computer security report card.

The grades were based on information the departments gave to the Office of Management and Budget. As per a new federal law, agencies must report regularly to the OMB on their efforts to keep computers safe.

Congressional investigators from the General Accounting Office considered whether agencies had developed security policies or plans, such as limiting the ability of users to install rogue software.

Comdex Feels Decline in Economy

This year's Comdex will be nothing like those in years past. But that isn't good news for the show's organizers.

Usually the nearly 200,000 attendees to the must-attend high-tech conference overrun the Las Vegas area, but early indications show that the 2001 show won't be the extravagant affair that previous shows were.

The show is expected to see a drop in attendance as a result of the economic problems caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Comdex organizer Key3Media expects 50,000 fewer attendees than in 2000, which means that at approximately 150,000 attendees, it will be the smallest Comdex crowd since the early 1990s. Only about 750,000 square feet of convention space will be used by 2,000 vendors, compared with 1 million square feet and 2,300 vendors last year.

Scientists Acquire IBM's Blue Sky

Scientists expect a powerful new supercomputer to speed their research on climate changes, droughts and fires.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research and its parent organization, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, announced late Thursday that they are acquiring the IBM SP supercomputer, known as Blue Sky.

IBM spokesman John Buscemi said the computer would top the list of the world's fastest supercomputers. The updated list, kept by researchers at the University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim in Germany, was to be announced Friday at the Supercomputing 2001 show in Denver.

NCAR's computer initially will be able to perform 2 trillion calculations per second, more than double the capacity of the center's current computers.

IBM will upgrade the computer next year to bring the machine's peak speed to 7 trillion calculations per second.

Yahoo! Free of French Court Ruling

A U.S. court ruled yesterday that a French court's finding against Yahoo! is not enforceable.

A French court had ordered Yahoo! to prevent access by French nationals to Yahoo! auction sites hosted in the U.S. that, at the time of the French decision, sold Nazi memorabilia.

Yahoo! argued that the French order would restrain the rights of its customers to practice freedom of speech, a right guaranteed to Americans in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In the U.S. District Court in Northern California, Judge Jeremy Fogel upheld the arguments presented by Yahoo! and said the matter was neither a question of morality nor of French sovereignty. Instead, Fogel said, the relevant issue was whether or not the French order was consistent with U.S. law. He found that it was not.

Fogel found the U.S. right to freedom of speech embodied in the First Amendment to be the dominant legal consideration.

Court Rules Individuals Can Publish Software Codes on Web

A California appeals court this week overturned a decision that had barred individuals from publishing on the Web a piece of computer code known as DeCSS, which can be used to break the anti-copying protection used in DVDs, known as CSS.

The ruling is a significant development in a series of cases concerning the controversial code, which was first developed by a Norwegian teenager who claims to have written the software to allow him to play DVDs on his Linux-based PC. The Linux operating system is incompatible with CSS.

The appeals court ruled that a lower court judge violated the First Amendment rights of Andrew Bunner by ordering him and other publishers of the software to remove it from the Internet at the request of the major movie studios' DVD licensing organization, DVD-CCA. The lower court forbade Bunner from publishing DeCSS based on claims of trade secret misappropriation. Bunner had argued that he found the program in the public domain and simply republished it.

FDA Warns Online Pharmaceutical Companies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has written to several online pharmaceutical suppliers, including one based in the United Kingdom, warning them that their sales to U.S. citizens could be illegal.

In a statement, the FDA said it was taking these steps "to protect the American public against potentially useless or harmful drugs to treat anthrax infection that are being marketed by foreign Web sites in defiance of U.S. laws."

The agency issued warnings to 11 internet vendors in Italy, Canada, Portugal and other countries that are offering U.S. consumers ciprofloxacin, the generic name for the drug Cipro. The FDA said it is unable to determine whether these products were made in accordance with U.S. specifications. If they were not, sale and distribution of the drugs in the United States may be illegal.

Adobe Loses in Court

A U.S. court this week denied a move by software giant Adobe to stop SoftMan, a software retailer, from unbundling Adobe software packages to sell components of the packages at lower prices. The court ruled that SoftMan is not bound by Adobe's end-user license.

SoftMan is a Los Angeles-based company that sells software primarily from its Web site, Adobe sued SoftMan, claiming that the retailer was infringing its copyright and breaching licensing obligations by unbundling Adobe "collections" and selling the component parts.

Adobe's collections are sets of individual Adobe products, such as Adobe Photoshop, Pagemaker, Acrobat or Illustrator that are put on separate disks and sold together in a large Adobe retail box. These bundled products are offered by Adobe at a discount from the individual retail products composing the collection.

Each piece of Adobe software is accompanied by an end-user license agreement, which explains the terms of use for the consumer. The agreement is electronically recorded on the disk, and customers are asked to agree to its terms when they attempt to install the software.

Netcetera - Nov. 13, 2001 is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner