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ALL MY LIFE TO LIVE, ALL MY LOVE TO GIVE ...

In possibly the most bizarre case of reverse cyber-squatting ever reported, a small software company has had its Web servers (and Web budgets) stretched to the limit by a major American TV network. As you may be aware, a television show called "Survivor" has recently started up, and gathered unto itself something of a following. The show encourages viewer input, and its Web site at www.cbs.com/survivor is one of the more popular non-pornographic sites out there.

This is of little consolation to Survivor Software, a company that sells accounting software for the Mac. Since July 1995, it has operated a site at www.survivor.com, which averages somewhere between 150 and 250 hits a week, somewhere less than a thousand a month.

Since the CBS network started directing viewers to the Web to take part in "Survivor", a very large number of viewers have mistakenly gone to Survivor Software's Web site instead. How many? Try an average of 170,000 a week. After a particularly crucial episode recently, the hits went up over 220,000, and for the month over 630,000 people hit the site.

Like many small businesses, Survivor Software doesn't pay for the kind of Web service that can handle this load. It has had to upgrade its Web service several times (at extra cost) simply to ensure that its site stays available to its actual customers. It's approached CBS, offering to sell the network a banner ad on the site to defray costs, and CBS has refused. The idea of putting a form on the site so that errant "Survivor" fans could pay $US5 to click through to the TV show's site was met with threats of legal action.

An independent appraiser says the survivor.com domain is now worth up to $US275,000. But anyone who buys it would be convicted of cyber-squatting, and forced to surrender it to CBS. The little guy can't win.

KARMIC SITE OF THE MONTH

www.theperfectjoke.com

Apparently if we tell 10 people about this site, our wish will come true within a week. Presumably, wish fulfilment will be pretty much instantaneous if we publish it in Bytesback. We'll go find a parking spot, just in case.

WHY BOTHER?

Apparently, Microsoft isn't the only big-name tech company under the anti-trust microscope at the moment. Rumour has it that the US Justice department has several teams investigating the imminent merger of America Online (which somehow manages to abbreviate to AOL) and Time-Warner. Apparently (and this is, we stress, rumour), the Department is set to recommend that the merged company be forced to split into two, as soon as the acquisition is complete.

Wouldn't it save a bit of time and paperwork if they just recommended that the merger not take place?

THE OLD GREY SQUARE ...

The design whizzes at Apple Computer, who only two years ago revolutionised industrial design with the iMac (with the result that everything is translucent these days), have done it again with the G4 cube, which should be hitting the stores as you read this. There is, however, something a tad familiar about this revolution. We dug into the archives for this comparison. See if you can spot the difference:

2000: Apple Power Macintosh G4 Cube

Among the fastest desktop computers of its time, it packs Motorola's top-of-the-line PowerPC G4 processor at 450MHz, along with high-speed (100 Base-T) networking, 20GB hard drive, 64MB RAM (up to 1.5GB), graphics and sundry other goodies into a sleek, grey cube.

Limited expansion.

Lacks any removable storage.

Cost: $US1,800

Brainchild of Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs

1988: NeXT Cube

Among the fastest desktop computers of its time, it packs Motorola's top-of-the-line MC68040 processor at 25MHz, along with high-speed (10 Base-T) networking, 20MB hard drive, 16MB RAM (maximum), graphics and sundry other goodies into a sleek, grey cube.

Limited expansion.

Lacks any removable storage.

Cost: $US6500 (in 1988)

Brainchild of NeXT CEO Steven P. Jobs

CAR CRASH VALUE

Just when you thought the most irritating thing on the Web was that baby dancing to "Ugachaka", the boundaries of weird taste get completely blown away. The "Hamster Dance", at stydie.dv8.org, shows what can be done with animated gifs, some ripped-off music and absolutely no Web design skills whatsoever. The designer invites copyright holders to sue him. The shocking thing is, the site has already spawned a rash of copycats of its own. We weep for our generation.

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