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News Schmooze: Code Red fails to impress jaded users

A server worm didn't obliterate the earth, while SirCam played jester to the sagging world economy...
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on

While originally expected to at least shut down the Internet, if not actually obliterate the planet Earth, the Code Red worm laid pretty low this week -- doubtless waiting for the media coverage to die down before sneakily launching a global information meltdown. Despite a few insignificant effects, such as temporarily shutting down the Pentagon, the worm was regarded as pretty much a damp squib.

But there's always that wacky SirCam worm, which has kept up its amusing antics despite public attention being directed elsewhere. What other IT security hazard can you think of that involves recipes, CVs and the odd Ukrainian state secret being emailed all over the globe?

If experts didn't know what to make of Code Red's effects, they are even more manic-depressive about the world economy. Craig Barrett and some Merrill Lynch anslysts, after drinking a lot of coffee, began making optimistic pronouncements this week about the semiconductor market, about which they have a warm, happy feeling ("Train's back in the station -- climb aboard!"). On the other hand, Carly Fiorina, Michael Capellas and Lou Gerstner, among others, have run out of Prozac and can't see anything but gloom and disaster everywhere.

Standing in the middle must be the amusingly named Skip Battle, chief exec of Ask Jeeves, who tried to explain how he sees his company's core markets on Friday -- "They are not continuing to deteriorate any more, but they are bad."

Things went from bad to absurd for British Telecommunications earlier this week, when it was forced to acknowledge that American bankers had offered to buy its local telephone network for £8bn. BT isn't doing much with it, they must have figured, so why can't we have it?

On the other hand, if it got rid of that pesky infrastructure, maybe BT could take advantage of the tax dodge that has allowed AOL to avoid paying VAT in the UK for the past few years, since it provides "content" rather than telecommunications services.

The only other move BT would have to make would be to relocate its servers and headquarters outside the EU, raising the prospect of most British residents getting their telephone service from a lumbering telco called Cayman Islands Telecommunications. Which would make the situation no more absurd than it is already...

The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.

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