Photo hoax 'Tourist Guy' revealed
Wired News has revealed the identity of the "Tourist Guy" featured in a doctored World Trade Center observation deck photo that has been forwarded to e-mail inboxes around the globe. Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, the man's visage quickly became a phenomenon after he pasted an image of a plane into the background of a photo taken of him Nov. 28, 1997, at the trade center, and then e-mailed it to friends. Many thought the gag was in bad taste, but that didn't stop its momentum. The man -- a 25-year-old Hungarian man named Peter who asked that Wired withhold his surname -- told Wired via e-mail that he laid low for weeks because the picture "was a joke meant for my friends, not such a large audience." Soon after the original hoax image circulated worldwide, other pranksters took Peter's face and stuck it into famous disaster scenes from history, spawning several Web sites dedicated to the Tourist Guy.
UN says Web to reach 1 billion in two years
The Web will have at least 1 billion users worldwide by the end of 2004, according to a report by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development. The organization's E-Commerce and Development Report for 2001 says Asia will see the most notable growth in its Web audience, but nations on all continents will see benefits from the rise of e-commerce. In a statement accompanying the report, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautions, however, that developing nations "that lag behind in technological innovations risk being bypassed by the competitive edge of those using the new technologies." The full report is available in Adobe PDF format at unctad.org. The United Nations also set up a task force Tuesday that is intended to help poorer nations fight the "technology gap."
Hacker nabs Playboy.com customer info
Playboy.com has been notifying its customers via e-mail that a hacker accessed some of the site's records and might be using credit card numbers obtained from the cyber break-in. Playboy.com President Larry Lux does not specify how many customers had been affected in the e-mail, which was obtained by CNET News.com. "Unfortunately, Playboy is only one of a number of high-profile companies who have been subjected to this kind of malicious hacking," Lux says in the e-mail. Playboy.com learned of the intrusion on its systems after a person claiming access to the customer information began e-mailing customers Sunday night, CNET reported.
PayPal gets attention of industry
The popular online payment service PayPal has "been a cause for alarm" in the credit card industry, reports Technology Review magazine. PayPal allows businesses to receive credit card payments online without having to open expensive merchant accounts. The backbone of its success, according to the magazine, is the company's "fraud squad," a team of about 100 employees that keep tabs on "Igor," Paypal's fraud-fighting software developed by founder Max Levchin. Companies such as Bank One, Citibank and even eBay have tried to mimic PayPal's success, with varying results. Bank One's effort, eMoneyMail, which was shut down in 2000 after six months in business, had a reported fraud rate of as much as 25 percent, Technology Review said. PayPal's fraud rate, by comparison, is as low as 0.5 percent.
CD copy protection burns Europeans
Record company BMG is hearing from European fans of pop singer Natalie Imbruglia who can't play her new CD "White Lillies Island," which comes with copy protections intended to stop its spread in illegal MP3 form. A BMG spokeswoman told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the company has received about one complaint for every 1,000 CDs sold. "The testing phase is proceeding in a way that we want to pursue it," said the spokeswoman, Regine Hofmann. The copy-protection method scrambles the embedded information about each track. Most stand-alone CD players can compensate for such errors, but some computer CD-ROM drives, DVD players and older CD players can't make the necessary corrections, and the Imbruglia disc won't play. The anti-piracy technology, called Cactus Data Shield, was developed by Israeli company Midbar.
Anti-war protesters turn to Web
A loose network of anti-war protestors are finding the Web to be their most useful tool for organizing, reports the New York Times. Those making use of the Internet range from "former hippies in rural Vermont who download ready-made leaflets to hand out at their weekly demonstrations," and Brooklyn resident David H. Pickering, who started an online peace petition that garnered 500,000 signatures and landed in the hands of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Activists say the relative anonymity of the Internet helps them disseminate their views without fear of reprisal, especially in the current political climate, where support for President Bush's war on terrorism is riding high.
Schools to benefit from Microsoft dollars
Microsoft Corp. said it has reached a deal to settle some private class action lawsuits that would require the company to put more than $1 billion worth of software and computers into some of the nation's poorest schools. "We are pleased to reach a solution that will benefit millions of America's most economically disadvantaged children and thousands of public schools with the greatest needs, and also will enable everyone to move beyond costly and unnecessary litigation," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer. The five-year agreement would settle claims that Microsoft abused its monopoly over personal computer operating systems and overcharged million of people for software.
(Compiled by Joe Warminsky in Washington.)