Machine Age

Public Bus: Back in the day, the relationship between hackers and Trojans was restricted to those (rare?) occasions when the former required the prophylactic properties of the latter. But my, how times change, and now a Trojan application (so called because it requires its "victims" to invite a bug onto their computer, usually through the form of an e-mail attachment) may be hackerdom's entry into the world of mainstream software. That's if NetBus 2.0 Pro author Carl-Fredrik Neikter has anything to do with it.

Trojan apps are normally used to invade an unwitting victim's computer, pilfer passwords, and otherwise create remote havoc. But last Friday Neikter released the Trojan program NetBus 2.0 as legitimate shareware. He's marketing it as a "remote administration tool" and hoping users will register his product for $12. The news received a mixed blessing from computer security insiders, who pointed out that while the new NetBus no longer runs in "hidden" form— instead allowing victims to know when they're being spied on— a slightly modified version may still be used to spy on people on the "inside," i.e., a boss or coworker.

Arms' Length: Angry about human rights, corporate welfare, campaign contributions, or "war on drugs" tactics? Mother Jones's MoJo Wire dug up some evil mojo on federal arms sales during the Clinton administration that may surprise you. The site (motherjones.com/arms) details arms exports to countries like Belgium and Bahrain, Argentina and Indonesia. Topping the rogues' list is Indonesia, which since 1993 under Suharto's regime has purchased nearly $1 billion worth of arms from the U.S. and American companies— some of which are used to pillage the East Timorese in Indonesia's continued napalm- and bullet-laden incursion on the tiny agrarian island. On the site, a native Timorese tells his story.

Eastern European nations like Poland and Hungary are poised to join NATO, and Boeing and Martin Marrietta have their order books ready with their "NATO-compatible" equipment. You'll be fuming when you find out how many tax dollars have subsidized these corporate giants' ascendance to virtual arms monopoly, or how much arms companies have donated to federal campaign coffers. The site also includes contacts and plenty of background information for activists to get involved.

Meddling Kids: Go ahead— blame it on NotMe. Last week, somebody went roughhousing around inside Amazon.com's "reader" reviews of I Had a Frightmare! and Daddy's Cap Is on Backwards! by Family Circus creator Bill Keane. And you thought Keane's comic strip was just a flat-panel dingleberry. Keane, here hailed as the "Generalissimo of Burb Noir," "reaches the heart and leaves a stain," posted one reader from "Giorgia, Russia" (five stars). In another review, Keane is praised for masterful portraits of "the draconian, all-seeing presence of Daddy" and the "viscid sensuality" of Uncle Roy (four stars). Who said Keane had no subtext? "Family Circus has always advocated forward-looking policies like forced sterilization and the confinement of the insane and dysfunctional," wrote another keen Keane fan. Is it wrong to hope Peanuts is next?

Animated: If you're looking for sharp, bandwidth-friendly multimedia on the Web, why waste your time wading through the backwaters of Broadcast.com when you can get 100-proof bottled delight at the Cartoonnetwork.com. The channel recently unveiled two serials, Pink Donkey and the Fly and B. Happy, that are lessons in how to do it right online. Both have style to burn and a giant sense of play.

contributors: Jeff Howe, Reet Rana, Austin Bunn

 
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