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Dell fires AMD Zone editor – Register blamed

Thought Police searched for Coppermine bug leaker

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Co-founder of AMD Zone, Chris Tom, has been forced to find a new job because his former employer, Dell, considered his interest in the Athlon was a conflict of interest.

Furthermore, Dell's investigators suspected the young man had leaked details of a Coppermine bug, and wanted to discover whether there was a link between The Register, AMD Zone and JC's Pages.

Any such link is a figment of someone's possibly paranoid imagination, we can confirm. Tom, who, together with his brother, has built AMD Zone and Slot A, into one of the most regularly visited AMD spots on the Web, was called into Dell's HQ in Austin at the beginning of last month to explain his actions.

According to Tom, in a statement to The Register, he was suspected of leaking details of a bug in Intel's Coppermine processor - an allegation he absolutely refutes.

Tom's statement paints a graphic picture of his interrogation by Dell detectives. He said: "When I first started with Dell, it was through www.interim.com, which basically meant I signed a contract to work for Dell but I was an employee of Interim.

"It was for a period of three months. I was then offered a position at Dell for the same job. I accepted. That's how it is at Dell unless you know someone, they don't do a lot of straight in hiring. After accepting the position I was scheduled for a drug test and had to sign some papers, and was given the Welcome to Dell handshake and then I went to work, as it would be a couple of weeks before my paper work went though human resources. When I got to work I found that my account had been disabled.

"No one knew why. I contacted the person who disabled my account and he said to contact my big boss, who was nowhere to be found. Finally, I got a hold of him, I was told nothing about what was going on, I went into a meeting room with a human resources person from Interim, a Dell human resources person, and was told a Dell IT security guy would show up, and that there was some sort of security leak.

"I asked what they were talking about, [and] they said they didn't know, the IT security guy would have to tell me. He never showed, so my badge was taken away, and I was effectively on suspension from my contract work from Dell pending a meeting with the IT guy who had been doing an investigation. "This was the week following the Coppermine bug being leaked to JC's. The next week I met the HR people and the IT guy. I demanded to know what this was about, and the IT guy said "the Coppermine bug".

"I said that I did not leak it, nor had I leaked anything. I quickly realised they were more interested in finding out who leaked the bug, and trying to force a confession out of me than they were about my livelihood just before Christmas was upon us. I wasn't about to take that.

"It ended up their whole defence was basically that AMD Zone was a source of conflict with my job, and their evidence was a paltry couple of emails I sent to The Register and JC that had no info at all.

"To which I responded that I had listed AMD Zone on my resume for both Interim and Dell. And that there was no evidence that at all that I leaked any sort of bug, nor had I ever heard about it before JC posted it.

"They then wanted to know my relationship with The Register and JC. I was prepared to video tape and record this meeting but they would not allow me. The next week, the HR guy who hired me called to say that they had withdrawn their offer to hire me, after I had signed it and passed a drug test and they had signed it.

"I then contacted a lawyer who said that since the contract was written that I could quit or I could be fired at any time for any reason, and because Texas is an "at will" State, I could not sue them," Tom continued.

The Register can confirm that we have no connection with either Mr Tom, his site, or JC's site. The Coppermine bug that JC reported was taken up by us the day after he posted it, confirmed with PC manufacturers, and subsequently taken up by other worldwide wire services. Dell was not available to comment on Mr Tom's statement at press time. ®

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