Surf the ‘net and cruise in style

BMW Group AG introduced a technological addition to its line of luxury automobiles last month at the Automobilsalon 2001 show in Geneva. The new limousine features a multimedia office including a built-in computer with an infrared keyboard, as well as a retractable 15-inch flat screen, which can also be used to watch television, DVD movies and videoconferences. The prototype launched at the show, which was based on the carmaker’s L7 model, uses the Global Standard for Mobile Communications (GSM) for its mobile Internet access (a system which is standard for phone calls in Europe, according to the company). The quality of access is dependent on the reception in any given area. While the car is not currently slated for regular production, the car will be available through special orders. One BMW official noted that due to the custom-built interior wall, the prototype is worth approximately 500,000 marks (or US$236,000).

Stop in the name of the e-Law!

Ontario announced early last month that it had become the first province to provide free and bilingual on-line access to provincial legislation through a new Web site. The e-Laws site, which is on the Web at, is dedicated to information on Ontario laws, according to a press release. It will enable a faster turnaround time for the publishing of new and updated legislation by making amendments available within 14 days of enactment, as opposed to 12 to 18 months, which is the amount of time it took previously. The press release also indicated that people will eventually have access to new legislation within a 24-hour period. A second phase of e-Laws is planned to be completed in 2002, which will provide consolidated statutes and regulations within 24 hours of amendments.

Celine ain’t singing’ the blues

Canadian singer Celine Dion is singing a happier tune – she was awarded the rights to the Internet domain name late last month in a United Nations panel ruling. The singer and her production company, Sony Music Entertainment Canada, had brought the case before the UN World Intellectual Property Organization, which ruled that Jeff Burgar from High Prairie, Alta., had no legitimate right to the name. Burgar, who had the name registered, claimed he was using the site as a fan club for the singer, and was not using it for commercial gain. This was not the first ruling of this type against Burgar – he had to give up control of is a previous ruling.

Hacker steals satellite-controlling code

Reports from various news outlets earlier this month indicated that one or more hackers made their way into a restricted U.S. federal computer system and stole a proprietary code for controlling satellite systems. Exigent International, a government contractor, announced last month that the hack occurred in December. The company’s software, called OS/COMET, allows ground-control workers to send commands to and control satellites and rockets. The U.S. Air Force announced plans to use the software to control the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS). According to reports, Swedish law enforcement officials searched the servers of Stockholm-based Carbonide, a software consultant, when they suspected that a hacker had used the company’s Freebox Web e-mail service to distribute the source code out to other people.

On-line Marilyn auction brings in US$400,000

Marilyn Monroe’s niece and half-sister brought a collection of memorabilia to the Web, collecting more than US$415,000 during an on-line auction. The sale, which lasted for a three-week period, included items such as a typed letter from the White House thanking Monroe for her appearance at the president’s 45 th birthday celebration, and two dresses which sold for approximately US$27,500 each. An autographed Cecil Beaton portrait of the starlet sold for US$16,500, beating its estimated price of US$15,000. Other memorabilia, expected to be highlights of the auction, failed to find buyers or even bidders in some cases, according to reports.