Coop's Corner: No SOAP -- this is big!

Dr. Dre should return to school. And have you heard about SOAP? It's a huge deal.

The problem with the Napster debate is that if you remember Paul McCartney, you probably can't understand what the heck is going on these days.

Shades of the House Un-American Activities Committee, anyone? Dr. Dre becomes the latest musician to name names. Joining fellow musicians Metallica in ratting out Napster users, the good doctor -- actually, his good lawyer -- plans to submit a list of people who have downloaded Dr. Dre's music from the Napster site.

The pressure campaign is already forcing Napster to buckle. After Metallica presented a list of people it said had violated the band's copyright, Napster on Tuesday booted more than 317,000 users from its site.

Big money and big interests are at stake. To be sure, the recording industry's publicists are working the phone with great results. It's only a matter of time before certain village idiots in Congress predictably grandstand on the issue.

An embarrassingly uninformed column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal painted Napster as a national scourge that could wreak major havoc with contemporary rules governing intellectual property. The Journal got it partly right. Yep, Napster -- and its variants -- constitute a veritable earthquake. And no matter how many judges weigh in with dopey decisions, this revolution is going to take place -- and it will be televised, on the Web, that is.

I was shocked, shocked to learn that a security flaw has been uncovered in HotMail that could allow intruders read other peoples' mail.

On Tuesday, a clutch of companies -- the headliners included IBM, HP, Compaq and Microsoft -- submitted a protocol proposal to the board that decides protocols for the Worldwide Web. It was arcane stuff, the kind of thing that can only warm the cockles of a true geek's heart. Yet it was big news -- make that huge news -- that will shape future directions for the Web.

The new protocol that landed on the front door of the W3C is called the Simple Object Access Protocol, or SOAP for short. This is an XML protocol (XML being the emerging lingua franca of the Web) that essentially acts as the glue between different software components. The idea here is to further interoperability (one of the ugliest sounding pieces of geekspeak ever! Yet also one of the most important.)

Here is the problem: With corporate firewalls erected all over the place, it's well nigh impossible to develop a distributed app that works everywhere. Since most firewalls offer a green light to HTTP, the proposal to create a cross-platform bridge (SOAP relies on HTTP) should be a boon.

SOAP supporters aren't inventing anything radical. They are proposing the codification of current practices into a standard that makes life a lot easier for Web developers. So at the end of the day, it shouldn't make a difference whether a client product was written in JavaScript, Macintosh, or Visual Basic. We'll see.

This tidbit is going to reaffirm your faith in your fellow man (and woman, of course!): One in four flacks surveyed by PR Week `fessed up to lying on the job. About 39 percent of the respondents admitted having made exaggerated claims. And a whopping 62 percent admitted they were not always able to confirm the validity of information they pawn off to reporters.

Playing to the peanut gallery, the House of Representatives is all but ready to extend the Net tax moratorium for another five years. As always, politics is in the air. The White House is backing a two-year extension but said the five-year moratorium is a bad idea because it might prevent Congress from dealing with the bigger sales tax issue.

And then here comes House Majority Leader Dick Armey, playing up the official unveiling of the Republican "E-Contract 2000,'' talking about the party's fealty to "maintaining freedom and growth of this driving engine of the world economy." Talk about laying it on thick.

Bill Gates doing the vision thing again: This time, his Billness predicts that Microsoft will not get broken up by the DOJ, by the judge, by the Russian army -- nobody.

Meanwhile, Microsoft finally issued its proposed remedy. The gist of the argument was, 'if the remedy does not permit, you must not split.' Apologies to Johnnie Cochran.


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