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18th August 1997
Is your browser secure?
Seems like every day there's another security scare associated with bugs in Netscape or Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Most of us read these and think "I must remember to upgrade" - or worse, we think who cares... I don't have any valuable information worth pinching so why bother.

Looking at the server logs for the many sites I run, I notice that there are an awful lot of people using older versions of NS or MSIE which have known weaknesses.

The big problem is that it's all too easy to forget that the version you're presently using has some kind of security hole. After all the initial noise dies down we become complacent - after all, what's the point in downloading 8MB worth of updated program just to fix a problem which you may never encounter.

One thing's for sure, if you're using your browser in a commercial environment - or if you're responsible for your company's Internet access then you must check and make sure that you are using a version that is free from known security holes.

Don't get caught with your pants down!

What's happening at Voyager?
Does anyone remember Voyager?

Back in the "good old days", there was hardly a day went past in this industry when there wasn't something newsworthy coming out of the offices of what was once NZ's largest ISP.

Driven by the since-departed John O'Hara, Voyager there was always something happening that would raise the ire of Telecom or other players in the market.

These days however, with an almost totally new management team, Voyager is conspicuous by its absence from the headlines. Gone are the tit-for-tat games of name-calling between Chris Tyler and John O'Hara and gone are the promises of groundbreaking new services (what ever happened to the Voyager Fax and Net-phone services promised for January of this year?).

Is it that there's something wrong at Voyager? I don't know. Perhaps it's just an indication that the entrepreneurs and "visionaries" in Xtra and Voyager have been replaced by new faces with good sound business management as their first objective.

The industry is maturing at a rapid pace and I suspect that the honeymoon is at an end. Now that everyone's had their little fifteen minutes of fame and the limelight is fading, the cold hard reality of making a profit is becoming the driving motivation behind all the mainstream ISPs.

There's more value in concentrating on improving your own services and building your own customer-base than there is in picking fights with your competitors.

Still, I wonder if Voyager hasn't lost a few too many of the old guard. A visit to their Personal Web Pages Directory indicates that they've got a big problem with their home-page service. Indeed, attempts to access my own Voyager home page including my HTML tutorial produces an "Access Forbidden" error. As a result of this I've been bombarded with email from unhappy surfers who were working their way through the stuff there and now find they've been locked out :-(

One has to wonder why they can't offer any estimate of a time to repair the problem. To my mind, the free Web page was one of Voyager's biggest selling points over Xtra and Clearnet - a selling point they've now lost! Come on Voyager - get this fixed pronto and don't give us that "we are working on the problem" business. Any half-competent ISP should be able to sort out a glitch like this in a very short space of time.

Help! we've locked ourselves out!

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Web-TV to hit NZ?
On the grapevine
Several sources have reported to me that something "big" is about to happen in the area of Web-TV here in NZ.

It seems that at least one organisation is gearing up to offer Web-TV based Internet access through a "consumer appliance" type box that plugs into your TV set.

Some reports indicate that there could be some "household names" involved in the venture - but that's unconfirmed at this time.

Regardless of what you think of the Web-TV concept (and I've made my views quite plain), it appears that a lot of people in the consumer-electronics industry are aware that they're missing out on a potential gold-mine.

Maybe sales of TV sets and VCRs is slowing as people prefer to spend their consumer electronics dollar on new modems and faster computers for Internet access? Faced with this prospect it's only natural that our consumer appliance companies are going to want to get their hooks into some of this revenue - but without the huge cost of support that goes with selling real PCs.

Whatever the reason, look out for some aggressive advertising and a lot of people who end up paying 3/4 the price of a low-end PC for a box that gives them an effective screen resolution of about 400x300. Will they be happy? I don't know, but...

Remember when all home computers required the use of your TV set as a display. Those who had Commodore VIC 20s or C64s, maybe even a Dick Smith System 80 will remember how hard it was to read text on a TV screen.

More recently, Commodore Amiga and budget-level PC users will remember the terrible headaches that can come from using an interlaced screen (which the TV set is) to display text.

Give it 6 months and I'll bet that the biggest selling Web-TV "extra" will be a 14" monitor - bringing the price of the no-disk, no keyboard, wimpy processor, memory-starved Web-TV up to around the same price as an entry-level PC and modem.

Miscellaneous Domain stuff
While trolling about the new entries to the NZ DNS I spotted a few new names that seem to have been picked up by an Australian Domain Name broker (scalper?) calling themselves Sweeney Networks have registered the NZ domains ebank.co.nz, ecash.co.nz, funds.co.nz and maybe some others I didn't spot. I wonder if there's really any money in hoarding domain names?

A couple of other interesting new additions to the DNS are breasts.co.nz and foreplay.co.nz - a site which is very much true to its name - just a note to say that the rest is coming soon (you have to scroll down to see it).

Odds 'n Ends
.sig nificant?
Danny De Hek (part 4) Danny calls in the lawyers
Danny De Hek (now billing himself as "Famous" and "A Leading Internet Consultant" has called in the heavies to deal with two sites that picked up on Aardvark's lead and highlighted the ludicrousy of his claims.

Both Dr Stir and The Soggy Parsnip were threatened with legal action over their comments.

Subsequently Dr Stir has removed the offending page(s) and The Soggy Parsnip has printed a retraction and the letter from Mr Hek's lawyer.

One thing is for sure - regardless of his other claims, Danny still has possibly the longest email signature I've ever seen.

I Can't Believe It's True!

Another case of the conflict between having a meaningful or a concise domain name is this week's subject. But wait there's more... This site seems to serve no real purpose. It tells us the name of the company and its addresses but there's nothing else. For a real thrill, try the online ordering option!


Just try fitting that on your business card!

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