Passports trade reaches the Web


While the passports-for-sale controversy hit the headlines again last week, several Web sites have also begun to offer EU passports to non-EU citizens. One promises "EU passport and citizenship available within minimum three months! With full rights for your wife and children under the age of 19! With full legal requirements!"

Successful applications are dependent on "financial investment in the EU which are bank secured and fully refunded after 12 months". The London-based company behind the scheme, Burlington Foundation Ltd, says it works closely with top EU immigration lawyers "to ensure fastest and totally foolproof completion of your application to full EU citizenship". Among its other credentials, the same company also promotes a "beauty queen franchise opportunity" Web site, an "adults-only" site and an online casino. . .

CSO Paper Savings: The Central Statistics Office has switched to laptop PCs and customised software to conduct its Quarterly National Household Survey. Some 130 CSO interviewers are using AST laptops in their visits to 39,000 households. The PCs dispense with the 16-page questionnaires, saving 12 tonnes of paper per year. The results should also be available more quickly.

Explorer Push: Microsoft Ireland has lined up six Irish companies to provide "Active Desktop Channels" for the new version of its Web browser, Internet Explorer 4.0. They are 2FM/ Labyrinth, Fusio, Creative Online Media, Internet Ireland, IOL and Trinity Solutions Group. Most Irish Internet service providers are to distribute Explorer 4.0 as their default browser to customers, and Microsoft has also tied in most major PC manufacturers to package it with new machines.

Claris As Gaeilge: For the past nine months Microsoft's Dublin-based WPGI group has been "localising" Explorer 4.0 in 26 languages. But while the browser won't be available in Irish, Everson Gunn Teoranta has just released an Irish language version of ClarisWorks, the popular suite of office applications. - info: earrabog/claris/clarisworks-ga.html

Young Webmasters: This year's Spin-a-Web contest for budding Web designers in Irish second-level schools has prizes worth £1,000 for each of the 10 finalists, and perpetual trophies for the best three. TCD's computer science department will hold an open day, giving the schools technical support (such as scanning in their graphics) on November 8th. The final date for entries is March 16th, 1998. - info: telephone hotline 1890-577803 or

Ballyer Bites: Ballyfermot Library is the first of three pilot sites in Ireland for Microsoft's "Libraries Online" project in Europe. The other two in Castlebar and Limerick will go online later this month. Each will have a 128k leased line for 10 PCs, and various Microsoft CD-Roms.

Student Winners: The two prize-winning projects at TCD's exhibition last week of work by the first batch of students in its MSc in Multimedia Systems were: a Web-based murder mystery called Love Lies Bleeding by Jason Butler, James Dunbar, Antonia Hart, Vanessa Liston and Niall O'Leary; and a solo project by Grace Weir. Each project received a £1,000 prize, from the sponsors, Farrell Grant Sparks and Digital.

Arthouse Noveau: The Arthouse multimedia centre in Dublin has announced its new management team: Aoibheann Gibbons will be chief executive officer, and prize-winning designer Niall Sweeney becomes its artistic director. Gibbons, who has been with Arthouse since 1994, will take up her new post in January.

In Brief. . .IBM is to relabel 3Com's PalmPilot pocket organiser and sell it as an IBM WorkPad for $399. . . California has passed a law requiring State agencies with Internet sites to allow citizens to make direct complaints through email. . . British Telecom's plan to merge with MCI Communications is likely to be derailed after WorldCom's $30-billion unsolicited bid last week to take over MCI. . . France Telecom's 24-hour helpline has been jammed with calls about its privatisation, and more than a million people have already registered for the offer. . storage manufacturer Seagate has formed strategic partnerships with three high-precision instrument-makers: Sankyo Seiki, Seiko Instruments and Taylor Hobson Pneumo. . . the Guardian is closing its weekly offshoot for twentysomethings,, after 50 issues. . . Investor's Business Daily reports that stresses and illnesses caused by information overload now have an official name - Information Fatigue Syndrome. . .

MicrofileNo. of person-hours spent by Microsoft in the research and design of Internet Explorer 4.0BO]: Over 20,000

Web rings are clusters of Web sites united by a common theme/ topic - each puts links to the next site in the chain. Sounds like a gimmick but it's catching. . . no. of rings listed by the directory last JanuaryBO]: about 1,000 rings

No. listed last month: 18,000 rings, encompassing some 200,000 Web sites Estimated number of email messages that will be sent this years3]: 2.7 trillion

Estimated number that will be sent in the year 2000: 6.9 trillion

Sources: 1 Microsoft; 2; 3

Win Treese/Internet Index

Modem World

The nail-biting play-offs for World Cup '98 are still to come, and there's no official site yet, but you can keep in touch with all the qualifying rounds at these French/English sites.

A spoof "Albert Reynolds for President" site.

More of it - a tongue-in-cheek "Dana for President" site, and a cheeky "Spice Girls for President" photomontage. #ireland-gen

A new Internet Relay Chat channel devoted to Irish genealogy. Direct your IRC client to, or (port 6667 or 7000).

Satellite images of the severe fires raging across Indonesia and the resulting haze.

Textbites"Ten years from now if I give a speech, `Living the Web Lifestyle', people will laugh - just as they'd laugh if I said the `phone lifestyle' today. They'd say, `What kind of visionary is this guy?' " - Microsoft's Bill Gates, predicting that the Internet will become so ubiquitous and easy-to-use that people will take it for granted.

"Windows-based interfaces are like walking around with two toilet-paper tubes on your eyes. There's no sense of things moving smoothly from the periphery into your centre of vision."

- Xerox PARC's director John Seely Brown, talking in Business Week.

"I have a house and I have a boat, but that doesn't mean I want a houseboat."

- James Barksdale of Netscape, arguing in InfoWorld Electric that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 is bloated, confusing, and could lead to "feature overkill" when integrated with Windows 98.

DiaryOctober 8th: Irish Java User Group - Alan Bateman (JavaSoft) will talk about the recent Java Internet Business Expo. Room 3126, Arts Building, TCD, 7 p.m.

- info: October 9th: Dundalk RTC seminar on the information society. Topics include community groups and the Net, and online business. Starts 1.30 p.m.

- info: tel 042-70492, email October 8th: Cork Chamber of Commerce seminar on online business opportunities, part of European Information Society Awareness Week. Jury's, Cork.

- info: October 17th: "Information Event" about recent calls for proposals under the Esprit programme, at Forbairt, Glasnevin, Dublin.

- info: email

Computimes is edited by Michael Cunningham. Email to computimes@irish- (private correspondence should be marked Not For Publication).