2001: The News Schmooze in review

GPRS almost arrived, the Internet somewhat amazed us, and Microsoft sort of gave us a Christmas present

The UK supposedly got GPRS in 2001, but you'd have been hard-pressed to notice, even if you were one of those corporate types supposedly gagging for fast, always-on wireless access. At its GPRS launch in May BT said, "the mobile Internet has become faster, cheaper and more accessible," but unfortunately, it would be possible to argue just the opposite -- that with GPRS the mobile Internet became slower, more expensive and less acccessible, because of intermittent and spotty service and relatively high subscription costs.
Consumer GPRS: right here, right now, quite slow Once again the Internet challenged our assumptions about society and culture -- namely by shocking us with the revelation that men use email at the office to behave like sexist neanderthals, while women are more interested in social activities. Whatever is the world coming to??
E-male looks for love Viruses continued to outbreak across the globe, despite the best efforts of antivirus companies and the PR spin of Microsoft. It just goes to show that no matter how advanced the technology, it's hard to supress human beings' basic need to open suspicious-looking email attachments.
New virus downloads itself from Web pages The UK rushed to follow the US in promoting stringent anti-hacker laws, in the wake of 11 September, while civil-rights types protested. How times have changed: go and deface McDonalds.com next year and you could chill out for the rest of your life in prison.
Hackers face backlash As Windows XP neared its debut, those with older hardware -- pity them! -- got a useful tool for finding out if their gear would work with those high-res icons. They might not have counted on having to leave the computer online all night though -- the software download was 35 megabytes. In Asia they were more concerned with how to grapple with the latest padlocks Microsoft put on the OS, but in the end these didn't pose much of a problem -- a 4KB file quickly appeared to remove that pesky Product Activation feature. Leaving the Schmoozer to wonder: if product activation doesn't work against software pirates, who exactly is it aimed at?
Microsoft tries to ensure XP compatibility
Warez sites hold illegal XP key Finally, Christmas brought a bit of cheer to the beleaguered tech industry, which joyfully jumped on its chance to offer consumers useful products. The result for you and me being a slight increase in spam -- 650 percent, to be precise. Anyone for gourmet barbeque sauces from Minnesota or amazing insider stock tips? How about an incredible scheme for making a fortune working at home?
Xmas increases spam by 650 percent The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com. See ZDNet UK's Christmas & New Year Special for our look at the tech world in 2001, and what's coming up in 2002, plus a shopping guide with reviewers' best buys. Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet news forum. Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.

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