29th > December > 1998 Archive

Crystal ball. Pic: Shutterstock

Intel in 1999 – Mother Shipton beckons

There’s a Sanskrit word called samsara, highjacked by perfume company Guerlain for smelly stuff, which is richly expressive of the nature of chip giant Intel. The word is made up of two parts, sam which means “together” and sara which means flowing, so expressing the idea of this world being a ceaseless round of movement. At The Register we’ve attempted to cover future developments throughout 1998 so thought it worthwhile to outline Intel’s ceaseless movements, its corporate samsara, for next year.
Mike Magee, 29 Dec 1998

Ellison's Sayonara wins boat race

Larry Ellison's yacht Sayonara has won the Sydney to Hobart yacht race after storms which cost six other sailors their lives. And Ellison told reporters that the race, which Sayonara won for the second time, was life-threatening and dangerous, with his only goal to get him and his crew back in one piece. He is unlikely to compete in the race again. Seventy vessels pulled out of the race but Sayonara won it ahead of Aussie boat Brindabella. Sayonara was not caught in the storms. ®
A staffer, 29 Dec 1998

Toshiba unveils ultra-portable PC hard drives

Toshiba has developed a pair of 2.5in hard disk drives for slimline notebook PCs. The first offers 10GB of storage space and is 12.5mm thick. The second is slimmer (8.45mm) but can hold only 6.4GB of data. Both drives will begin shipping to OEMs next month. Pricing to non-Japanese PC vendors has yet to be confirmed, but pricing puts the two drives at Y120,000 and Y80,000, respectively. ®
Team Register, 29 Dec 1998

US Commerce Dept to issue lighter crypto rules

The US Department of Commerce is this week at last set to issue new, relaxed regulations covering the export of powerful encryption software. The regulations will be based on the US government's latest policy on data encryption, which was announced back in September. The new regulations will permit the export of 56-bit encryption technology -- the greater the number of bits in the 'key', the harder the software lock is to pick -- after the exporter has passed a Commerce Department one-off, 15-day approval procedure. After the review, the products can be exported to all but seven nations (deemed by the US government to be too dodgy). Encryption software using 57 or more bits will also be eligible for export, but only to a select list of 42 'safe' nations and then only to Internet merchants, finance, insurance and medical companies. These firms will not be required to implement key recovery mechanisms, which could be used by official bodies to gain access to encrypted data. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Dec 1998

Record label pulls artist-sanctioned MP3 tracks

US record label Capitol, a division of British-owned industry giant EMI, forced two of its artists to remove free music tracks encoded in the MP3 format from the Web this weekend. However, despite the music industry's ongoing paranoia over the MP3 format, Capitol's move seems to be more about its relationship with the musicians concerned -- Billy 'White Wedding' Idol and the Beastie 'Fight for your right to party' Boys -- than the use of MP3 per se, though that too has played a part. Idol is signed to Chrysalis -- the record label founded back in the late 60s so Jethro Tull could get a decent recording contract -- which was bought by EMI in the late 80s. According to music industry sources, Capitol refused to release Idol's latest album, so artist and label are now in negotiations to terminate his recording contract with Chrysalis. Idol's work has been released in the US under Capitol's Java Records subsidiary, so perhaps Sun Microsystems' lawyers might like to take a look at the deal too... Idol posted two tracks from the unreleased CD on the MP3.com Web site three weeks ago. However, Capitol demanded they were both removed, which is what has now happened, apparently to ensure Idol's exit talks were not jeopardised. The Beasties, meanwhile, have been squabbling with Capitol for some time, ever since the band posted MP3 tracks of concert recordings on their official Web site. Some tracks were initially pulled, then put back. Ultimately, all the MP3 songs were removed, replaced by lower-quality RealAudio versions. That suggests that Capitol has no problem with the availability of the tracks, only with what format they're released in. So maybe MP3.com president Michael Robertson has a point when he says: "They [Capitol] see this as a crack in the dam. If every artist did this, it would legitimise MP3." ®
Tony Smith, 29 Dec 1998

Norway legalises hacking

Norway's supreme court has ruled that remotely exploring computers connected to the Internet is not a crime. The ruling sets a precedent that any system connected to the Internet (at least those in Norway) can be legally probed for security leaks. The ruling follows a case brought by the University of Oslo against a private security company, Norman Data Defence Systems (NDDS). NDDS had been contracted by a Norwegian news service to demonstrate the security pitfalls of Internet-connected systems for a TV programme. The company used a number of standard techniques to probe the University's mail system and determine who was connected to the institution's computers. NDDS claims the tests were conducted simply to see what information could be garnered using standard Internet protocols. No personal data was accessed. However, the University took NDDS and the individual engineer who carried out the tests to court. Both the company and the engineer were found guilty of an attempted break-in and misuse of computer resources to which they had no right of access. NDDS was fined and ordered to pay for repair work on the University's network. An initial appeal overturned the break-in charge, but now a second appeal, to Norway's supreme court, has seen the misuse charge quashed too. "The essence of the ruling is that if you want to join the Internet, you have to assure that you're protected," said NDDS CEO Gunnel Wullstein. "If you don't want to be visited, close your ports". ®
Eric the RedHat, 29 Dec 1998

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