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Privacy The Internet

Entropy Project Closes Up Shop 143

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the calling-it-quits dept.
k0fcc writes "In a disappointing move to privacy enthusiasts, the Entropy Project's creator has released a statement that the project is shutting down. Entropy was a very popular, and some say faster, alternative to Freenet which supported a number of different cryptographic protocols. The creator alluded to the possibility that the project could continue if a new owner could be found."
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Entropy Project Closes Up Shop

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  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#9661334) Homepage
    Does anyone else find it ironic that a project named 'Entropy' has come apart?
  • by elykyllek (543092) * on Saturday July 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#9661337) Homepage
    Considering I just got this installed, configured and working 5 minutes ago.. this is great news...
  • GNUnet (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2004 @11:35AM (#9661342)
    There's still GNUnet [ovmj.org]!
    GNUnet is a framework for secure peer-to-peer networking that does not use any centralized or otherwise trusted services. A first service implemented on top of the networking layer allows anonymous censorship-resistant file-sharing. GNUnet uses a simple, excess-based economic model to allocate resources. Peers in GNUnet monitor each others behavior with respect to resource usage; peers that contribute to the network are rewarded with better service.
    • GNUnet is written in C. One buffer overflow exploit could compromise the whole network. It needs expert review beofre the claim of being secure has any meaning.
      • mmm really? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eldacan (726222)
        GNUnet is written in C. One buffer overflow exploit could compromise the whole network.

        Not quite true IMHO: it's obviously not sufficient to compromise one client/server to compromise the whole network. If it was, it would be a piece of cake to take the existing source code and use it to build this "compromised" client/server.

        If you want to compromise the whole network with one buffer overflow exploit, I guess you will have to find an exploit that works with all versions of GNUnet, and you will have to r
        • 1. Find exploit
          2. Create program exploiting said exploit, and to do the same to all nodes it connects to.
          3. There is no step 3. You've compromised the entire network.

          Kjella
          • That's why I've endeavored to create a network where all the clients can't be known. In fact, from any single jurisdiction, it shouldn't be possible to discover the addresses of more than a dozen or two clients.

            • GNUnet already does that, plus it guarantees level 3 anonimity and all connections are encrypted.

              On another field, an exploit like the one described wouldn't work because if you manage to exploit GNUnet you could exploit one node, but couldn't make it reproduceable to the other nodes.

              Maybe the the gandparent and grand-...-parent should read more about GNUnet before making such claims.

          • Step 1: Find exploit

            Step 2: Compromise everyone

            Step 3: PROFIT!
      • Linux is written in C. One buffer overflow exploit could compromise the whole network. It needs expert review before the claim of being secure has any meaning.

        Does that sound silly? You can say that about any network program. In practice, things keep humming along because of diversity {versions, codebases}, etc. For example, browsing the GNUnet site I see a Java GNUnet [ovmj.org] port. No need to worry about stack smashing attacks there. Just the 100 or so other vulnerabilities (eg. race conditions) that make softwar
    • Um, I don't mean to be snarky, but my experience has been that GNUNet is even less friendly and less popular than either Entropy or Freenet.

      It still has the feel of a research project and the fact that it defines itself as a framework rather than an application means that 99.9% of their potential audience won't be able to figure it out or use it. (Could your Mother download, compile and install gnunet-gtk?)

      With that said, the project is really interesting.

      But in its current state, its not ready for p
      • Could your Mother download, compile and install gnunet-gtk?

        apt-get install gnunet-gtk, or your prefered graphical package manager :)
      • Re:GNUnet (Score:3, Interesting)

        What if the project defines itself as a network, rather than a framework, or even a file-sharing application?

        What if its not much different than installing a virtual ethernet adapter, or if all your experience setting your computer up for TCP/IP counts for something on it?

        What if you get to use all your current internet apps, rather than scratching around for keyhashes of some file that is pieced together all over the network?

        What if only one guy can snitch on you, and he's somewhere in South Korea?

        Mayb
        • I generally agree with your post, but feel the urge to comment some statements:

          What if the project defines itself as a network, rather than a framework, or even a file-sharing application?

          GNUnet is not a network: it is a framework, and the people using it are building a network of GNUnet nodes.
          GNUnet is not a file-sharing application, it is a framework that, having the AFS protocol, creates a way of people writting and using file-sharing applications that run over GNUnet (as gnunet-gtk).

          What if its

          • GNUnet might use AFS, Metanet uses IPv4/IPv6. Call it what you want, framework, architecture, blahblahblah, most of us have used the internet since '95 or even before that for a lucky few. The reason that it changed the world is because it was an incredible improvement over the primitive facilities that the average BBS offered. I'm sure people will quibble about the details of the improvement, but none can deny it. Why would you want to go back to file-sharing as the primary means of communication?
      • Um, I don't mean to be snarky, but my experience has been that GNUNet is even less friendly and less popular than either Entropy or Freenet.

        It still has the feel of a research project

        Well, GNUnet is well versioned, like most of GNU apps, and it's intended to be friendly, popular and without "the feel of a research project" when a version 1.0 comes out. We're still at version 0.6.2b, version 0.6.3 is expected to be released in August... So yes, there's lot's of work to do until v1.0 is out.

        self as a f

    • by redcliffe (466773)
      I2P is a far better system. You can run any normal TCP or UDP apps over it, it's just like an anonymous replacement for IP. http://www.i2p.net

      IRC and HTTP work great over it.
  • Erm (Score:4, Interesting)

    I don't mean to be snarky, but "very" popular? Does Freenet itself qualify as "popular", much less "very popular"? Does /anyone/ semi-normal (i.e., not a techno-geek, or a rights-geek) use Freenet, and if they do, has anything significant ever been published on it?

    Freenet seems to me to be one of those ivory tower projects that has little relation to the real world. Proof? No search engine, and very little chance of ever having one. How the hell can it ever be useful? [/rm101 resists making a dig about their choice to implement in Java]

    • Just to answer your question, I can honestly say that I've never used Freenet. The passing will go un-noticed.

      Can't we get some more fun articles here? People building a bar out of an old VAX? People building beer chillers with Rocket Engines? Does it have to be all this lame-ish stuff that's been on the front page a for a few weeks now?
    • I'm something of a techno/rights geek and I tried Freenet last year.

      Unfortunately it's pretty much useless, so I don't use it anymore.

    • Re:Erm (Score:4, Informative)

      by Neophytus (642863) * on Saturday July 10, 2004 @12:13PM (#9661500)
      Just to bite the Java troll, may I cite the example of Azureus [sourceforge.net] as an example of a Java program done right(tm). Runs fast, is responsive and doesn't use the godawful swing toolkit (it uses SWT [eclipse.org] instead).
      • ...and quite frankly, for what it does, it is a hog. Yes, I realize it is mostly proof-of-concept but it is mostly a software router (ok, with encryption, software VPN router) with s LRU cache.

        Of course, there's no point in nagging unless you actually have something better to suggest... which I don't. So if the choice is a slow Java project, or a C++ project which doesn't exist - I'll take the Java project...

        Kjella
      • The previous ones on linux suffered and suffered badly from "too many open file" bugs. It was even blamed on java by some but since I haven't updated java only azureus and with the latest version it is now gone I think that the problem was definitly azureus.

        So before I agreed that java was a piece of crap whose only saving grace was that it could be portable (plenty of java apps are not). Now that azureus works very stable (constant run since the last update) I must admit that java can work. HOWEVER

        I also

    • by r00zky (622648)
      don't you see that a search engine would inherently destroy privacy? at least in the current way Freenet is implemented...

      if you have an idea for a search-engine in a (still) anonymous network you're free to submit it.

      For now spider-generated indexes will have to suffice.
      • Can you clarify how a spider generated index doesn't destroy privacy, while a search engine does? Aren't they simply one step away from each other in terms of their "dangers"?
        • by r00zky (622648)
          In a webpage search engine you send a description of the content you're searching for to a server, this server now knows what you were searching for.

          In a p2p network search you send your search to your peers, but, in Freenet's case the peers only index the contents by key number (or whatever it's called), not for description of the contents.

          A spider basically follows all the links it can find and sorts them according to some meta-data every page has (title, description...)

          Also, dynamic webpages aren't
          • by r00zky (622648)
            errata:
            about dynamic pages: between "some" and "calling" a SCRIPT tag is missing...
          • Re:Erm (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            In a webpage search engine you send a description of the content you're searching for to a server, this server now knows what you were searching for.

            You obviosuly haven't throught this through -- Freenet and any other anonymous P2P protocol (including GNUnet) already guard against this type of information leakage by routing requests and searches through a number of nodes on the network. For a given server it is impossible to know whether a given node which makes a request is actually making the request its

            • Re:Erm (Score:2, Informative)

              In fact, GNUnet is the first and only (AFAIK) p2p program that guarantees a level 3 anonymity, which, per se, makes it the most attractive p2p project (for me, of course, those who doesn't care with anonymity and encription and prefer speed won't choose an anonymous P2P protocol...).
      • by Anonymous Coward
        if you have an idea for a search-engine in a (still) anonymous network you're free to submit it.

        It is being worked upon. Not search engine, but a means to efficiently find content (that *wants* to be found, that has been posted publicly, mind you) within the context of the network itself. And no, I'm not talking about Frost/FMB which chokes on just a couple messages a day, but something ready to scale to become as large as the Internet itself. Speaking of which, something Freenet isn't able to do.

        There a
      • My own network is IPv4 based, with a fully functioning www. A search engine could easily be implemented (for all 6 websites, haha), just as on the real internet. Having access to those websites doesn't mean you have any decent way of identifying the publisher.
    • Re:Erm (Score:2, Insightful)

      Bittorrent doesn't have a built in search engine, but it's probably the most mainstream (if one considers appearance of legitimacy rather than strict popularity) of all the P2P protocols/clients.

      I don't think it has to do with being ivory tower--it's just that anonymity comes with a bandwidth/convenience cost, and at this time most people don't consider it worth paying. As computer resources increase, or political reality changes, anonymity might start to grow in relative importance.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Freenet seems to me to be one of those ivory tower projects that has little relation to the real world.

      Thats a pretty bold statement for someone who has clearly never tried it. Freedom of speech may not bear much relation to your reality, but you will probably get a different view from someone from some other [freenet-china.org] countries I can think of.

      Its a research project, and they are solving hard problems. Yes its not as easy to use as it could be, but either was Linux for a long time, and in many ways Freenet is

    • If you care to look there are several established 'listing engines' that are running.

      A true 'search engine' might even be detrimental to the privacy goals of Freenet.

      But yes, it is currently a bit esoteric for the average Joe, but that will change in time. Its already MUCH friendlier then in the beginning... ( and the speed troubles seem to improve with each release.. )

      And don't bash the java thing without realizing that one goal was for it to run everywhere, and to be browser friendly.. Java ( in theory
    • Re:Erm (Score:3, Informative)

      by ultranova (717540)

      Does /anyone/ semi-normal (i.e., not a techno-geek, or a rights-geek) use Freenet,

      Couldn't really say, since few people who use anonymous filesharing/messaging use their real names in said anonymous network.

      has anything significant ever been published on it?

      Quickly scanning The Freedom Engine, I found Fahrenheit 9/11, IIP Revival (which tries to bring back the Invisible IRC), mirror of XBOX Linux, TrekLit (a collection of Star Trek novels in MS Reader .LIT format), various blogs, Freecraft (an open-so

      • The NPEs are probably caused by you using Java 1.4.2-r04. :). But anyway, how can I fix them if you don't report them to support@freenetproject.org? Please mail me privately and we'll sort it out.
    • No search engine, and very little chance of ever having one.

      Spider the network, generate lookup tables appropriate for search, insert them into the network, and have a client-side script that takes the user's query and responds with the list of results. No changes to the network necessary.

      This currently is held back by the unavailability of client side scripting (which is not fundamental, it's just unimplemented) and the current network not having sufficent performance for such a tool to be faster than
    • by Jhan (542783)

      Does /anyone/ semi-normal (i.e., not a techno-geek, or a rights-geek) use Freenet, and if they do, has anything significant ever been published on it?

      Oh yes! Child porn. Vast amounts of child porn. One could go so far as to say that Freenet is one of the main, if not THE main mechanism for distributing pedophile pornography.

      FN was designed for distributing files with maximum anonymity, no matter the performance penalty (speed is horrible). So, it is used only by people who know that their neck would b

      • This is true (the extent is unbelievable, actually) but it's important that it doesn't break apart the Freenet project before the software is stable and fast enough to be valuable for better reasons.

        And 'semi-normal' is not an adjective I would apply to child porn distributers.

        • It is? Please justify the above statement. I really would be interested to know if most of the world's child porn flows through Freenet. It certainly doesn't go through the main indexes. And the main indexes DONT censor what they link to. 12 of 440 is 12 too many, but it's far too low for the post to be credible - unless there are only 12 sources of child porn in the world.
          • I have no way of telling the proportion, but there are links (as you said) to child porn on the indexes, and for all I know there could be gigabytes of content on those sites.

            I was really thinking back to when IIP was working, and was plainly being used as a distribution mechanism in concert with Freenet. Any sites publicised that way would be unlikely to be spidered. But you've called me out, I can't prove it's the main channel of distribution - just make the point that it's a highly visible one (it shoc

            • As is Google, at least if you turn the filters off... or so I am told. I *do* know there are some sites on Freenet that by their titles appear to be such filth. But there's a difference between "a few assholes insert child porn" and "Freenet is one of the main, if not THE main mechanism for distributing pedophile pornography".
              • Fair enough; I admit that you can't make that inference. I'm concerned about 'appearances' though - 12 out of 440 isn't insignificant (would you expect that proportion of your own acquaintances to be paeodophiles?), but 20 out of 10000 is approaching the level at which you can't really be shocked anymore. If Freenet attracts harsh comment before it can support that kind of size, things will get icky, and I don't want that, because a huge, scalable Freenet will make the Internet a better place to inhabit.
                • Well, actually... I've talked to at least two, one of them over Freenet and one IRL. I'm not an especially sociable person either. But yes, good point.
      • Really? Last time I looked, 12 out of 440 sites on TFE were by the title obviously child porn or probably child porn. That's less than 5%. And I'm skeptical that Freenet has the capacity to support the terabytes you are casually implying here.
    • There is no technical reason why we shouldn't have a search engine. It would have to involve spidering, that's all. And in terms of general purpose file-sharing, Frost IS searchable.
  • by sulli (195030) * on Saturday July 10, 2004 @11:51AM (#9661411) Journal
    My 11 year old VW Jetta is faster than Freenet. In 5 pm Bay Bridge traffic.
  • Now it's official.
  • by trifakir (792534) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @12:23PM (#9661544)
    Yep, anonymity is a favourite topic of conversation of me and my colleagues. Frankly, I do not understand the concerns of the "Entropy" project leader. Here is why:

    1. Theoretically, it is impossible to have anonymous communication [cornell.edu] on the Internet.
    2. In practice it is a balance of resources. The trick is that it is much cheaper to publish contents anonymously, than to trace the origin of an information. Therefore projects like Hacktivismo - Six/Four [hacktivismo.com], Crowds [avirubin.com], Freedom-Net [freedom.net], Tarzan [mit.edu], Onion-Routing [onion-router.net], etc. make sense.

    Furthermore, it is often the content which speaks more about the authorship, than the chain of technical events that leads to the publishing of the information. In Slashdot, for example, I have chosen not to show my e-mail, etc., but by reading my comments even a 10-years old kid can make a deduction about my real identity. Does it make sense for me to use IP-tunneling then?

    Finally, I do not understand the author. He just seems pissed. Maybe he will reconsider his opinion and revive the project. Is he sick from the lies (?) about the crypto-protocols used in the software which is written? IMHO the theory proves quite stable and if there is a room for attacks it is more in the implementations than in the protocols themselves. How many broken cryptosystems do you recollect (I know, I know "the knapsack", but it got broken on the conference on which it was presented).

    Still, even with this project retreating, the subject remains interesting.

    • I feel for the project leader. He is simply saying that he doesn't want to carry the torch any more. Period. It doesn't really matter what the reason is, although I can also understand what he is saying regarding crypto stuff having a bunch of really weird issues that should never be in the realm of Computer Science.

      Part of that is because we are talking about national governments trying to control information flow (notably the U.S. government), and litterally thousands of patents that control who can d
    • Theoretically, it is impossible to have anonymous communication on the Internet.

      Can you elaborate some more? I skimmed the linked paper, although I didn't read it thoroughly, and it appears to claim exactly the opposite. Did I completely misunderstand?
      • Unfortunately, this scheme requires idealized network which does not exist, although many believe that approximation on top of existing techniques can be implemented without compromising much the security of the protocol.

        The practical problem with the work of Chaum is that it requires a reliable broadcast network, which is unachievable.

        Besides the above difficulty, this is the best work I've read discussing anonymity.

    • I didn't look at your first link, about the impossible to be anonymous, but just at first thought on the subject in general, a combination of freenet type structure combined with a wireless meshed network would get someone pretty darn close, wouldn't it?
      • Right, practical anonymity should be quite achievable on the technical side, although let the experts here say their word (I just read from time to time on the subject). Now think about the anonymity in broader context.

        So, you are the dissident (for short Bob) and you want to talk anonymously. The first problem is that if you are doing that periodically it should be possible to correlate (something) in your statements. I don't know what can be correlated, for example wording or referral to specific events

        • to beat the patterning, you could have a computer randomize your sentence structure, by you using already overtly published works and your access to them to create "new" works that are your own, but don't look like it.. You could just cut and paste sentences from other works and put them together to make a new work. And if enough people did that, the pattern of the computer assisted copy/paste writing would be so widespread as to be near impossible to track down.

          And it depends on what you want to do. If al
          • Easier than that is to do what some projects do: encrypt the messages and create a flow of alike-messages.
            • how do any random new recipients know which of the endless stream of look alike messages is the real one, even if they have somehow gotten the private key? Just de crypt and read all of them? I can see this working with a pre arranged subkey system where the designated good messages were known in advance or followed a pattern, perhaps with a one time pad arrangement, but to anyone new, it seems about as bad as not being able to decrypt it. Or is the idea the messages are all the same, just coming from so ma
    • You bring up a good point, that is often ignored. Your authorship style can do alot to destroy perfect anonymity, from both the low level (stalkers) and high (CIA/NSA tinfoil hat stuff).

      There are resources available on my network that are at least trying to train people how not to give themselves away. Simple example, someone invites you, and right away you jump on IRC as trifakir. Someone showing up there as "trifakir" isn't necessarily you, of course. But if I wanted to track someone down that had that n
    • Yep, anonymity is a favourite topic of conversation of me and my colleagues.

      Join the club :-)

      Frankly, I do not understand the concerns of the "Entropy" project leader.

      I do. See, when he doesn't believe even in the cryptographic methods used, something is really wrong. I really support his decision to "abandon the sip", even if I think it is a great loss to this kind of projects that someone with his experience and skills doesn't intend to join his mind to any other project in the field.

      Theoreticall

  • Pros: IPv4/IPv6 based network, static IP addresses, free domain names, all traditional TCP apps work, easier to understand.

    Cons: Still small, restrictions on who you can invite, win95/98 not supported very well, some dullards have trouble understanding how anonymity works (if it uses TCP/IP your address can be tracked!).

    In particular, I need to find people that favor linux/unix (even OSX would be fine), would be willing to invite others, and plan on residing in any country other than the USA for the next
    • Does the icon on your site [24.125.12.101] relates to the content in it or that's just what you had? A friendly advice - try to read a little bit/browse before you spend your evening in writing... There are many projects implementing ideas similar to yours and even more theory...

      In short, what you've written sucks.

      • Haha. I didn't write that last night. My own network went live back in August. I understand some of alot of the other theories, but I don't favor any of them.

        Besides, you can be playing Quake3 or IRCing on my own network an hour after talking to me. Even if those were possible on freenet, could you be up and running that quickly?

        So, is it my (lack of) writing style you dislike, or the theory?

        BTW, the icon is mostly for comcast's sake. The internet feels so impersonal, not being able to show them a friend
        • Besides, you can be playing Quake3 or IRCing on my own network an hour after talking to me. Even if those were possible on freenet, could you be up and running that quickly?

          That's interesting. I take a mental note to look into your project once more, although I don't have much time for fun these days. Maybe you deserve a small credit for an efficient implementation of tunneling.

          It is not the writing style what I disliked. I'm simply old-fashioned and I like projects which are based on (scientific) paper

          • High school dropout. If you could point me towards a book or website that would help me lay it out as a proper scientific styled paper, I would eventually rewrite it as such.

            As for tunneling, I'm not even writing new software. Would rather let the experts do that, freeswan (openswan now?) and OpenVPN are just fine (I tend not to trust the others as much).

            I do have some new ideas for transport and routing protocols though. But they aren't necessary at this point, and the network is fully viable, as is. Plu
    • I read your site, and your project is fundamentally flawed. There is no way to know the real relationships between people in different governments. Many countries that are openly hostile to each other frequently cooperate on a lower level. In fact, many leaders that appear to be hostile to each other are in many cases privately friends. Basing your network on these assumptions is a big mistake. The solution has to be technical, and not based on any political or economic understandings.
      • But we aren't talking about leaders, for the most part, but agencies and departments that often work without direct oversight by said leader. Besides, for any given host on metanet, said leader would almost always exploit more than one or two such cooperative foreign nations.

        Not knowing where you are from, it's hard to say if you are dumb and just don't understand the scale of gigantic byzantine bureaucracies or if you are somehow insulated from them. I would be willing to risk my safety to such more so th
        • Not knowing where you are from, it's hard to say if you are dumb and just don't understand the scale of gigantic byzantine bureaucracies or if you are somehow insulated from them.

          I come from a family where everyone works in government. I think you are lacking a clue of what goes on "behind the scenes". There is A LOT of cooperation between law enforcement, no matter what terms the any two countries appear to be on. I was giving the leaders case as just an example. Look, people know each other the worl
  • by vadim_t (324782) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @12:53PM (#9661684) Homepage
    Okay, first impression was:

    "Wow, great project!". It was like Freenet, only faster, lower latency, some stuff was cooler. It looked really promising. It was much easier to install in a chroot jail than Freenet.

    However. From what I saw, I wouldn't trust it for any serious purpose. It looked like the author was only interested in using it for testing his own crypto algorithms, and as anybody who read on this stuff should know, rolling your own crypto is a really bad idea unless you're really, really good, and then make sure it gets well tested for a few years.

    It had a nice possibility of restricting the node to chosen allowed crypto algorithms, but none of the available ones was in widespread use. I mean, AES, DES and Blowfish weren't in the list last time I checked. That makes me rather suspicious.

    I voiced my concerns once in the Entropy forum, and the author replied saying this is basically a research project and not intended for serious use (IIRC).

    If somebody does decide to continue with it, I certainly hope that one of the first things that will be done is to put some tested crypto in it instead of a bunch of homebrew methods. Nothing personal against the author, but I believe that if it was easier to trust it, it could become more popular.
  • Oh no ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Entropy (6967) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @12:57PM (#9661701)
    Ack!

    What are they doing to me???!
  • Is there any way to copy out the full contents of the CVS repository itself into another archive? The full development (and not just the latest version of it) is valuable to programmers who wish to learn more about the development process itself that went into Entropy.
  • Is it a sign of the times or the miseducation among us o rour own stupidity that someone has come up with such a term? I mean one who values ones privacy is termed an enthusiast thus denoting that one is almost but not quite on the fringe of society when it comes to privacy issues. More like a gun enthusiast
  • by KrisHolland (660643) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @01:50PM (#9662000) Homepage Journal

    There is one alternative called Mute [sourceforge.net], which solves one key problem with Freenet or Entropy which is that it is searchable.

  • The author of Entropy has ceased development, because he heard somewhere [slashdot.org], that apparently [slashdot.org] someone [slashdot.org], not exactly sure who, had solved [slashdot.org] the problem [slashdot.org].

    Jeez, dood [slashdot.org], this article was about Entropy... ;)

  • If you are looking for alternatives or an overview of the most important anonymous filesharing networks you should check out http://board.planetpeer.de Although it is living on a .de domain there are also english forums available.
  • " The creator alluded to the possibility that the project could continue if a new owner could be found."

    Ah the irony....

  • by rwbaskette (9363) on Saturday July 10, 2004 @04:12PM (#9662787)
    ...well that was random!

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.

Working...