Steven Levy

Look Ma, No Breaks

The call came on Thursday morning, from one very different Washington to another. Hey guys, said the D.C. bureaucrats who had spent an eternity in Internet Time tormenting the code crunchers in Redmond, Wash., you know that plan we had to split your anticompetitive, monopolistic company in two?

Did Encryption Empower These Terrorists?

"Well, I guess this is the end now...." So wrote the first Netizen to address today's tragedy on the popular discussion group, sci.crypt. The posting was referring what seems like an inevitable reaction to the horrific terrorist act: an attempt to roll back recent relaxations on encryption tools, on the theory that cryptography helped cloak preparations for the deadly events.But the despondency reflected in the comment can be applied more generally.

Busted By The Copyright Cops

When FBI agents arrested him in the parking lot of a Las Vegas hotel on July 16, Dmitry Sklyarov thought it must have been some mistake. These men would ask him who he was, and he would tell them: a benign 26-year-old computer programmer who'd come from his native Russia to give a technical talk, a graduate student of his nation's top engineering school, a family man about to return to his wife and two small children.

Busted By The Copyright Cops

When FBI agents arrested him in the parking lot of a Las Vegas hotel on July 16, Dmitry Sklyarov thought it must have been some mistake. These men would ask him who he was and he would tell them: a benign 26-year-old computer programmer who'd come from his native Russia to give a technical talk, a graduate student of his nation's top engineering school, a family man about to return to his wife and two small children.

Shooting With Live Ammo

Computer gamers are familiar with desktop scenarios that put them in the role of military generals. Surveying a field of battle on their monitors, they wage war by manipulating icons that represent weapons or regiments.

'We Have To Act'

Late last month Masayoshi Son, the billionaire CEO of Japan's leading Internet firm, Softbank, announced what might be his boldest venture: founding Yahoo BB, a company whose mission is to provide super-high-speed ADSL Internet connections to millions of Japanese for only about $18 a month.

'A Cloud Lifted'

On an overcast afternoon last spring in his Redmond, Wash., office, Steve Ballmer stretched back at the end of another day as CEO of the world's biggest software company and considered a question: was this the best time in Microsoft's history? "In a product sense, this is as good a time as it's ever been," he said. "But I can't say it's the best time in our history because of that other thing still hanging over us."That "other thing" was the small matter of a federal order that Microsoft must...

Random Access Online: Men In Gray

My bureaucrat friend welcomes me to his workplace, filling an entire floor of one of the huge government buildings near Hibya. It is something out of the movie "Brazil," if you can picture the futuristic antiques utilized in that fictional world somehow streamlined and sanitized in the style of airport bathroom fixtures.

The Day I Got Napsterized

As a spectator, I found it easy to be sanguine about the raging Internet intellectual-property debates. I'd tempered my ecstasy during the heady exultations of the "information wants to be free"-bies, and kept my emotional powder dry as apocalyptic content owners warned that wanton file-sharing would mean the death of creativity.

Random Access Online: Wa's Up?

A fellow countryman with experience here cannily laid out the road map for the two-day Shonan Experts' Live-In Seminar on "Emerging Electronic Communities: Intellectual Property Rights, Privacy Rights and Control of Contents," in which I'd be one of the (shudder) "experts." "First there will be the presentation by the Americans," he said. "Then there will be some polite rumblings in response to what the Americans said.

Bill Gates Says, Take This Tablet

The knottiest task in computing is making a machine as friendly and receptive as a piece of paper. Microsoft thinks it's got the problem beat. The mantra of its hundred-member Tablet PC team is "the simplicity of paper combined with the power of the PC." The prototype looks like a Palm on steroids, with a color screen and the alarming presence of the Windows task bar on the bottom.

An Unbreakable Code?

It may roundly be asserted..." wrote amateur cryptography maven Edgar Allan Poe, "that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve." Harvard professor Michael Rabin begs to differ.

Playing Fair With Copyright

The appellate judges have spoken: the indiscriminate music-sharing bacchanalia must end. But can 62 million Napster users really be wrong? Almost by definition, such a massive consumer force is a market that must be served.

Is It Software? Or Spyware?

There's a revolution going on inside your computer!" gushes Ingrid Torrance, the inescapable pitchwoman for NBC Internet (NBCi). In this TV ad, one of several aired relentlessly on the Peacock network for its dot-com cousin, Ms.

Crypto

The Story Of How A Group Of Code Rebels Saved Your Privacy On The Internet

Cyberscope

HOT PROPERTY: Games Worth Waiting ForWe feel bad. it's hard to be cheerful about our roundup of the best PlayStation 2 games when so many of you are in pain, unable to find a PS2 in time for the holidays.

Screen Wars

In the early 1980s, a small group in a nondescript building on Bandley Drive in Cupertino, Calif., changed your life. They did it by creating the interface for the Macintosh computer, the product that introduced the masses to hitherto obscure digital phenomena like the mouse, windows, icons, menu bars and dialogue boxes (including the dread error message with a bomb on it).

Ray's Back In The Groove

What's Ray Ozzie doing? That's been the question high-tech rubberneckers have been asking for three years now, ever since the 44-year-old software cult hero set up shop at a former shoe factory in Beverly, Mass., and refused to tell anybody what the hell he was up to.

Where Did My Billions Go?

You might think that Jay Walker would come in from last Wednesday's rain bugged by a gloom that's darker than the midday cloud cover in Manhattan. The stock of his flagship company, Priceline, which introduced the "name your own price" approach to buying airline tickets and hotel rooms, has taken a no-bungee dive from a onetime high of $162 per share to something less than the cost of a shoeshine.

The End Of Homework

I got a thrill from the Sony PlayStation 2 without even having to take the sleek black console out of the box. I brought the local software emporium to a dead stop by purchasing one of the PS2 controllers pegged for eventual sale to the lucky few who would be getting them on the Oct. 26 launch date. "You've got one now?" asked the clerk, and the guy next to me, who was reserving a unit for delivery next spring, just about fainted.

Pages