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14th July 1997
Lawyers on the Net
You can always guarantee that when there's potential revenues and conflict - the lawyers will gather like schools of sharks waiting to pounce.

Well - that's often the common perception of our valuable professional friends skilled in legalese - that language which is even more obtuse and confusing than computer-speak.

I have noticed in recent months that a lot of NZ lawyers are suddenly realising that the Net exists and that they should be on it.

Who do you call when you want to litigate.co.nz?

There are some other catchy domain names about too. How about nzlawyers.co.nz, and of course law.net.nz.

A bit puzzling that last one though... who'd have thought that lawyers would be so cheap as to subscribe to Link Exchange to get a few hits?

The rumour that lawyers are second only to Scots accountants in terms of their frugality would appear to have some merit when checking out the flamboyant graphics on the Fletcher Vaultier Moore site.

The Chen & Palmer site is a little better, but come on guys, don't make the tea-lady do all that Web design work by herself!

Now, the cleaning-lady at Jones Fee has a few problems with her images, but I suspect she's just been a little careless with the bleach or something. Never mind, I'm sure those pictures will turn up sooner or later.

Quite frankly, while there are some good sites, for instance I quite like the Simpson Grierson site. It's not pretentious but at least it does have two graphics on the front page. Now Bell Gully (where do they get these names?) is astonishing for its EIGHT front-page graphics and quite nice design.

Okay, so there's good and bad - but given the amount of money the average lawyer charges for their time, do the bad ones really have any excuse for the mediocre presence they've created?

Me thinks that for some it's time to trade that BMW on a smaller model and smarten up your Web presence as a favour for everyone. And... is it true that this is the default home-page for the special "Lawyer's Edition" of Netscape?

I'll now sit and wait quietly for the inevitable rash of defamation suits to be served on me :-)

More Security Woes
What a week eh? Firstly StarWave's NBA and ESPN sites were hit by a security breach that saw the details of many thousands of credit cards "misappropriated" by someone who had no right to that data. The perpetrators then emailed all the cardholders letting them know that there was a breach. The FBI has been called in and are calling it an "inside" job with StarWave claiming that there's no way the data could have been obtained through the Net.

The second piece of bad news was that the flaw first discovered in Javascript this week turns out to be worse than was first thought. This flaw allows an unscrupulous Web site operator to track your movements and all data that you key into your browser after you've visited their site. This includes passwords and credit-card numbers, even if you're using a secure server.

The best advice is to simply dis-able the Javascript support in your Web browser - which may affect a few Web sites that rely on Javascript for certain functions - but most of the good sites tend to avoid total dependency on such things.

Of course this takes the heat of Microsoft for a change although I understand that the Internet version of Windows NT is about to be renamed "The key is under the mat" :-)

I wonder what will go wrong next week?

Where's your data going today?
A miss is as good as money in the bank
There's value in a near-miss!
As I first pointed out last week (and subsequently a number of other international Net-news publications picked up), the "near-miss" site at www.jpl.nasa.org got a lot of hits as a result of the Mars landing. Interestingly enough it seems that someone was not happy with this collateral exposure and this site, along with a number of other "near-miss" sites are now getting their marching orders.

Although I've not been able to get to the bottom of the matter yet, it appears that InterNIC (the US equivalent of ISOCNZ's domain name registry) may have pulled the domain name from its owners host.net. A check using the InterNIC Who Is page shows the site to be marked as "On Hold". There's a news story in there somewhere and I'll sniff it out this week!

Back to the subject... obviously there's a lot of value in these "near-miss" domain names and perhaps the most lucrative of them all (and the most embarrassing for InterNIC is www.internic.com. It seems that quite a number of people have dropped in to internic.com and thought they were at the real InterNIC (internic.net). Now the boys at .com are more than happy to register your domain name for you - but they'll charge you $250 instead of the $100 that the real InterNIC charge.

There have been numerous complaints from people who haven't realised until it was too late that they've gone to the wrong place by accident and spent more than they needed to.

A little closer to home, ISOCNZ's Internet Registry seem to be coveting some "near misses" of their own. They've snapped up dnz.co.nz, domainz.co.nz and domainz.net.nz; I wonder why?

Of course I can't help but mention a somewhat tongue-in-cheek attempt of my own at www.yellow.pages.co.nz.

Auditing - followup
My goodness, last week's item on the auditing of Web sites seems to have struck a chord with IDG and they quickly published this article just to show that as soon as the right auditing body has their act together, they'll be happy to co-operate. Good news. Of course IDG also submitted a Right of Reply this week, they're good like that.

After last week's item I couldn't help but drop into the AC Nielsen-McNair site for a look around. Well this almost won an I can't believe it's true award for its underwhelming use of the medium.

Check out the way that you get the same menu on the left side of the screen as you do on the right (hmmm?). I also like the way that (in Netscape 3.0 anyway) the 'NZ' is carefully superscripted at the top of the screen.

Looks like another tea-lady job to me!

gentle- men, start your log files

I Can't Believe It's True!
Tired of the boring old "cold and heartless" case your computer lives in? Maybe it's time you invested in one of those described:

at the foot of this page

And you thought Aardvark was the only cute furry animal on the Web!

 
Right of Reply.

Russell Brown of IDG


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