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All's not fair in cows and shareware

Rabid Skinnophiles might remember last year's cow-tretemps between PC maker Gateway 2000 and popular shareware site Tucows over Tucows's use of spotted cows on its pages. Gateway, which claims the Holstein decor on its packaging as a trademark, threatened legal action if the sharewarists didn't decow posthaste, but a quick check of the site shows that Tucows's pastured pair are still gainfully employed.

It's been quite a while since I built this old Mill with a Swiss Army knife, a truckload of plywood, and several wax dummies that I stole from Madame Tussaud's and melted in my hot tub. It leaks a bit when the fog condenses on the roof, but I just pretend I'm an Internet software company and tell my guests that I'm soon to get the scheduled maintenance release. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic these days, thanks to a previous visitor to this space who's come back this week for seconds.

Rabid Skinnophiles might remember last year's cow-tretemps between PC maker Gateway 2000 and popular shareware site Tucows over Tucows's use of spotted cows on its pages. Gateway, which claims the Holstein decor on its packaging as a trademark, threatened legal action if the sharewarists didn't decow posthaste, but a quick check of the site shows that Tucows's pastured pair are still gainfully employed.

But now the shoe is on the other--dare I say it--hoof. Tucows recently began to use the phrase "Cream of the Crop" for their "best-of" section. Lo and behold, small shareware CD-ROM company Cream of the Crop called to ask Tucows to either drop the name or give credit where credit is due. Hey, it's deja vu all over again, as my personal Yogi likes to say.

Tucows decides to adopt what seasoned negotiators call the "nyah-nyah" tactic and refuses to give COTC the TOD. Madder than a European beef consumer, the Croppers slung some green at the InterNIC and came away with the domain "tucow.com", which means Tucows fans who can't type are "s" out of luck, if you'll pardon my French. Touche, Tucows!

Once the warm fuzzy underdog, Tucows is now petitioning Network Solutions, keepers of the InterNIC, to cancel "tucow.com" while threatening the Croppers with lots of legal jargon. Sources high among the Croppers won't comment on the company's intent but went far enough to speculate that an InterNIC-mediated dispute would likely pull both URLs offline until the case was settled, which probably isn't a viable scenario for Tucows.

As for the "creamofthecrop.com" domain, it's under the thumb of Web design and hosting company iWebStudio, which runs a California mirror site for--guess who?--Tucows. I think the Bard said it best, if I may paraphrase:

Oh what a tangled Web we weave,
When bovines mean bucks we believe...

Et Tu-cows?

Almost as amoosing--OK, I promise to put all cow puns out to pasture--are reports from the Usenet front that McAfee, outfitters of fine firewalls and antivirus software, has not been practicing safe sites. One Skinformer pointed out that until recently it's been easy as sin to log on the McAfee Web site as a "registered user" and download gobs of software. The hackarounds have been circulating in newsgroups for some time. McAfee has apparently fixed the leaks, but it leaves one scratching serious scalp as to why these security companies can't practice what they purvey.

Similarly, search stud AltaVista isn't making good use of its homegrown technology. The engine's operators, who lube their tubes with Digital money, recently launched multilingual services and are touting them as the first on the Net. But my muscled masseur Ingemar whispered to me the other day in mid-rolf that his countrymen lay rightful claim to that honor. It seems that Swedish-run EuroSeek has been doing a pretty good job of searching in tongues--40 of them, in fact--since March. Looks like those Route 128ers should have entered the phrase "multilingual search engine" and cranked up AltaVista before wagging their collective lingua bravada. Some people tip cows; others tip rumor columnists. I suggest you do the latter and send me email, because at present there are no search engines for scuttlebutt.