News Schmooze: Welcome to Ghost Comdex

Canadians took over Comdex, spotty teens threatened the foundations of the Net, and the Crime Unit went undercover

The Schmoozer is still a bit jet-lagged after getting back from a week in Las Vegas at the annual schmoozefest they call Comdex. The place seemed strangely empty this year, and the main hall, emptied of the rich-blooded dot-coms of recent years, played host to a bizarre assortment of offshore tax havens, the Canadian government and dodgy geezers selling hot Pentiums. AdultDex, across town, seemed busy enough though.

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  • Comdex Fall 2001 - The show goes on
  • Paul Vixie is a total genius and helped develop the software that makes the Internet go, but should he really be putting bad ideas into the heads of angst-ridden teen computer crackers? "The Internet is very fragile," he said. "It would be very easy for an angry teenager with a £200 computer to create almost unlimited pain for anyone on the Internet and not get caught."
  • Internet could be shut down by hackers, warn experts
  • Now here's something scary. Honda has spent 15 years developing this robot, Asimo, and the end product is like something out of a deranged 1950s B movie. When you tell it to do something it retorts "What do you want?" and apparently shoots the finger. It's kind of a sick joke, too, that IBM is paying this monstrosity 20 million yen a year to work as a sociopathic receptionist, given the current economic climate. As if you needed any more evidence that the developers are a little deranged, just look at the mechanoid's name, which translates as "legs, even".
  • 'Asimo' robot becomes more human-like
  • Earlier this year, Apple was promoting iMacs with the slogan "Rip, mix, burn", which might be roughly translated as "Please use our products to make high-quality digital copies of all the music you like." There's apparently been a change of heart: the new iPod TV ads finish with the tagline "Don't steal music". In any case, Windows users may soon get the ability to not steal music along with their design-friendly bretheren.
  • Windows users to get iPod client
  • Andrew Pinder assures us that the UK is well on its way to becoming the high-tech business park of the international scene, but to extend the metaphor, the facilities seem to have the equivalent of an AIBO working security. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit took their token £25m funding this spring and haven't been heard from since. Not that there's necessarily much else they could have done - one estimate holds it that this cash is enough for approximately one high-tech prosecution a year. All you young, spotty hackers with £200 PCs, beware. It could be you.
  • Crime unit requires a plan
  • Nobody is holding their breath for Microsoft to change its ways in the light of the toothless new Justice Department antitrust settlement, despite heavy breathing from the EC. In any case it hardly has to be predatory to maintain its grip on 90+ percent of the operating system market. Games could be another matter, though: to beat Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft will probably have to make good products. And the early signs are that the new Xbox is a hit, at least with the type of person that's willing to spend $299 to get his/her hands on one.
  • Xbox makes world debut

  • Europe's ready for Microsoft's arguments
  • Windows XP - a hit or a miss?
  • Bad timing dept: OK, maybe it's not that big a deal, but surely somebody at Eidos might have twigged that sending people a sudden text message that begins "Please report to your local army recruitment centre immediately..." might not get the desired reaction.
  • 'Army call-up' text message banned
  • The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com. 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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