12th > February > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

A year ago: EU plans Internet Charter, but hits US flak

The European Union's pious plans to further global Internet co-operation have bumped into harsh reality, as US presidential Internet adviser Ira Magaziner (old technology - he should change his name to Weber) said the US would fight the international application of the EU's privacy directive. The stuff that is winding Ira up is right along Global Village Street. Among other things the directive attempts to restrict the nature and extent of data held on EU citizens, and to forbid the transfer of this data to US and international companies. So as we understand it, The Register's representatives in Brussels want to stop our local friends at Intel from compiling secret files on us and then sending them over to Andy Grove. Magaziner accuses the EU of extraterritoriality, which is one that usually (Helms-Burton) goes in the other direction. But it's obviously a matter that raises just the kinds of questions about how you legislate (or not) internationally post-Internet. Magaziner says he'll take it to the World Trade Organisation if the EU doesn't back off. EU industry commissioner meanwhile says that the EU's International Communications Charter had been warmly received by Ira Magaziner (or Republican News, as they call him in Belfast), but warmth comes in degrees. The Charter is allegedly intended to increase international co-ordination and remove obstacles to the electronic market, but also is seen by the EU as (uh oh ) providing a blueprint for how you deal with data protection, copyright, taxation, consumer protection You'll note that elsewhere in this issue Bill Gates is supporting the ideas behind the Charter but is as yet unable to comment on the detail. It shouldn't be too difficult for you to figure out how wise this is. ®
John Lettice, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Chase denies Gates said ‘How much to screw Netscape’

MS on Trial Bill Gates never said to AOL executives: "How much to screw Netscape," according to Microsoft VP Brad Chase. But he confirms that the Microsoft people at the meeting were "aggressive", and that it was therefore possible for the AOL people to derive this kind of meaning from whatever it was Bill said. Not that Bill is admitted to have said anything, according to Chase. He didn't say: "This is your lucky day," either. Note that Chase says that it was "we" who were aggressive, suggesting therefore that Bill didn't say it, and if anybody said anything dangerous, then maybe it was somebody other than Bill. Brad Chase is obviously a loyal lieutenant. Bearing in mind that AOL remains a valued partner until January 2001 (when the current browser deal expires), Chase however insisting he wasn't accusing AOL of making it all up. So the AOL internal email reporting the meeting must just have been mistaken, right? The meeting in question was the 1996 AOL-MS summit where Microsoft lobbied to have AOL defect from Netscape Navigator. The presence of Gates and Chase makes it clear how important it was for Microsoft -- wasn't IE line management testifying that this kind of deal was his job just the other day? (see MS exec denies knowledge) During Chase's cross examination the DoJ produced a memo from Gates written prior to the meeting, where he says "we have to make sure that we don't allow them to promote Netscape". Chase also ran into a little trouble over his claim that Netscape could easily distribute browsers via downloads. Microsoft data showing that downloads had played no part in growth of browser distribution were produced, and of course there's that Microsoft focus group, undertaken pre-Windows 98, where the consensus was that they wouldn't want to waste time and money downloading browsers, but that they'd shift from Netscape if the browser came with the OS. So why was Chase claiming this in the first place? Well, Microsoft actually believes it to be true, or at least believes it will be true. Some of Microsoft's own software, eg. Outlook 98, is now actually rather difficult to get hold of other than via the Web. The company wants to use Active Setup across the Web to distribute software, and genuinely believes that this class of software distribution is the future. But as usual, its thinking is a couple of years ahead of itself. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

More home computers to be given away as direct-marketing tools

US ISP One Stop Communications has joined the computer give away bonanza, announcing it is to offer 25,000 iMacs "free of charge". FreePc.com, which, earlier this week, offered 10,000 free computers to anyone willing to subject themselves to a barrage of advertising has been inundated with requests for machines -- it received more than 500,000 requests in the first two days (see There's no such thing as a free PC). Users seeking a free iMac will be contracted to spend at least $100 each month for 36 months at One Stop Communications' on-line shopping mall, Shopss.com. They must also subscribe to One Stop's Internet service provider, costing $19.95, although this is waived if more than $200 is spent each month. One stop communications boasted that 2500 people had signed up for the free iMacs within the first two hours after the deal was announced. This new offer is perhaps better thought out than the FreePc.com offer, because at least One Stop Communications has a mechanism for monitoring the level of spending taking place as a result of its advertising. ®
Will Knight, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Lycos/USA Networks merger collapses

The proposed buyout of Lycos by USA Networks has been called off, The Register can exclusively reveal. Sources close to the deal confirmed that the paperwork surrounding the proposed buy-out had been ripped up and thrown in the bin even before the ink was dry. Neither company was prepared to comment the news that the deal had been called off. Yesterday, both parties said the deal was moving ahead (see Lycos merger to form e-commerce giant). But soon after, CMGI, a major stockholder of Lycos, said it was "generally supportive of the Lycos/USA Networks transaction as previously reported, but reserves the right to reassess its position as developments unfold". Shares in Lycos plummeted $33 on Tuesday after the deal was announced. It lost a further $7 on Wednesday but rebounded yesterday by $16 to close at $103.25. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

3Dfx unveils Voodoo3 2000, 3000 and 3500

3Dfx has finally decided how it's going to offer its forthcoming Voodoo3 technology. The company intends to make the information public later today, but details of the announcement were leaked to the SharkyExtreme Web site. The company's entry-level product, the Voodoo3 2000, will now contain memory running at 143MHz, up from 125MHz, an increase that doesn't sound too significant, but 3Dfx claims the higher clock speed generates an "incredibly high yield". The company says the chip-set will generate six million triangles per second and 286 million texels per second (Mtps), up from the originally specified 250Mtps. For comparison, the Voodoo2 does 180Mtps, Banshee 100Mtps. The 2000 will ship for around $129, contain 16MB of SDRAM, sport a 300MHz RAMDAC and come in AGP and PCI versions. The Voodoo3 3000's 16MB of SDRAM will run at 166MHz, as originally specced and be based on a 350MHz RAMDAC. It will retail for around $179.99, but only be available in AGP form. A TV/S-VHS output facility rounds off the feature set. Both the 3000 and 2000 were discussed when 3Dfx launched Voodoo3 back at Comdex/Fall 1998. Today's announcement will add a third, new product, the Voodoo3 3500. It will offer 16MB of SDRAM clocked at 183MHz. That, plus a 350MHz RAMDAC, will generate 366Mtps, claim 3Dfx and eight million triangles per second all at screen resolutions of up to 2048x1536. The 3500 will also feature 3Dfx's LCDfx technology to drive digital flat-panel displays, plus TV/S-VHS output. The card, manufactured by 3Dfx's subsidiary, STB, and will retail for around $189.99. Again, it will only be made available in AGP form. 3Dfx originally also mentioned a Voodoo3 4000. That apparently is still on the cards, and will ship when Intel gets its AGO 4X-supporting Camino chip-set out of the door, some time in the second quarter of the year. ® Full details of each product are available at SharkyExtreme, here
Tony Smith, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Programmers slam ‘useless’ UltraHLE source code

Programmers were yesterday angry with a fellow software writer who posted what he claimed to be C++ source code for controversial UltraHLE Windows-based Nintendo N64 emulator. Programmer 'GossiTheDog' admitted the code, a conversion into C++ of the original UltraHLE source, was "nowhere near complete" and "does not compile", but he said he released the code to give fellow programmers an idea of what the finished project might look like (see Linux fan releases UltraHLE source code). "Why am I converting this? Because I personally would like UltraHLE to finish what it started," said GossiTheDog. "I would also like to see a Linux port," he added. He'll be lucky -- according to numerous programmers who contacted The Register, the so-called 'source code' was "nothing like source code, it's just a disassembled binary!" and useless for generating a complete application. "It's not C++ source code. It's a disassembled .exe with C function wrappers," added another programmer. "As someone with lots of experience in reverse engineering -- I reverse engineered the MacOS years ago -- I can tell you that there is a zero probability of turning this 'source file' into meaningful source code without access to the N64 SDK docs, and an N64 development system," he added. "This just sucks," said another, less politely. At the time of posting this story, the Web site on which the UltraHLE 'source code' was posted appeared to be down, and attempts to contact GossiTheDog had not yet received a response. ® See also Nintendo legal rumblings provoke boycott call Analysis: Dissecting Sony's game
Tony Smith, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Ingram Micro sees turnover and profit up for '98

Ingram Micro’s worldwide results for the year ended 2 January showed turnover up 33 per cent to $22 billion. The broadline distributor posted net profit also up at $245.2 million, or $1.64 per share, a 27 per cent increase on the previous year. The fourth quarter showed turnover of $6.22 billion, up 21 per cent over the same quarter the previous year. Net profit rose 6 per cent to $73.2 million, or $0.49 per share. ®
Team Register, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

MS trial over by August? The Register predicts…

MS on Trial We believe it is highly probable that the District Court in Washington will be in recess for March. Judge Jackson has a commitment to hear a criminal trial, and because of the Speedy Trial Act (we joke not), the start cannot be delayed beyond the Spring. It is not known how long this trial will last.
Team Register, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Telcos to follow PC suit by giving away calls

Following this week's free PC bun-fight, a US telecomms firm has hit upon the idea of giving subscribers free international calls. The catch? Yes, you guessed it, the user must withstand a barrage of advertising interrupting their calls. Start up telco, Cortex, will let callers place free overseas calls, in exchange for the listening to a 15 second burst of adverts every three minutes. The service is available between New York and London, from Miami to Brussels and Paris. Cortex plans to reach out to Los Angeles and Boston as well as Spain, Puerto Rico and Ecuador. Cortex asks subscribers to complete a 20-question survey on personal income, interests and spending habits. It then tailors its advertising according to match consumer profiles. Current advertisers include a hotel chain, music label and Cortex itself. Cortex's scheme follows a growing number of free home computer deals aimed at giving advertisers better access to consumers' spending habits. A similar free telephone calls scheme already exists in the US for the domestic long-distance market. The company, BroadPoint, does not offer free international calls. ®
Linda Harrison, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Cupid stunts to boost Valentine e-commerce

A little over six weeks ago Web pundits were frothing at the mouth as e-commerce received a festive shot in the arm from people buying Christmas gifts online. For the last few weeks, a similar fervour has gripped e-tailers selling everything from flowers and chocolates to lingerie -- and all in the name of luurve. Yes, it's Valentines' Day on Sunday. But among all the mainstream attempts to generate sales online, there have been, frankly, some real cupid stunts. The most notorious was by those respectfully saucy purveyors of lingerie, Victoria's Secret, whose site was inundated by more than 1.5 million voyeurs -- sorry, visitors -- last week. The reason for this fatal attraction was a 20-minute Webcast of a catwalk show involving young ladies strutting around in their undies. What made it fatal was that most people who tried to watch the show only got a glimpse of garter or gusset -- rather than the whole frilly ensemble. The reason? The excessive traffic created an online logjam that even slowed-down other parts of the Net. Elsewhere, AOL is trying to woo more members by indulging in an online courtship, of sorts, with supermodel Cindy Crawford. Not only can you chat live with Cindy tonight, you'll also be able to gain four special insights into Cindy's "most romantic travel experiences". "For a great many American women, Cindy isn't just a model -- she's a role model who has successfully combined fashion and business, glamour and marriage," says Michelle Madhok, director of the Women's Channel for AOL. "And for many men, she's the ultimate Valentine, combining the flash of the supermodel and the friendliness of the girl next door." Quite. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Canadian company develops browser that hides your identity

A company with the uninspiring name Zero Knowledge claims to have a new browser, Freedom 1.0, that will ensure 100 per cent anonymity on the Net. Demonstrated yesterday at the Demo99 technology conference in California, Freedom 1.0 hides a user's identity with a combination of encryption, re-routing and username aliases. The new browser is unaffected by current restrictions on distributing encryption technology in the US, as Zero Knowledge is based in Canada. This throws another spanner into the works of the already heated Internet privacy debate. Zero Knowledge, however, denies it could be held responsible for any resulting illegal activity. While such technology will stop you being spammed as a result of simply surfing the Net, it could open the door to widespread abuse. Austin Hill, president of Zero Knowledge, said: "All Zero Knowledge has is encrypted data. Even if we are subpoenaed for information about a customer, our answer would have to be [that] we don't know." David Kerr, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation UK, voiced concerns: "A browser that makes the user anonymous in terms of which sites they visit is, I think, a good thing. But traceability for people publishing, posting and sending material is something we are worried about, and this could pose a problem." Freedom 1.0 will be beta tested in March and should be generally available in the spring. ®
Will Knight, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Asian PC market bounces back to pre-crisis point

PC shipments in the Asia/Pacific region were up at the end of last year, according to an IDC report released today. The results suggested a rebound in some regional markets, with shipments for the fourth quarter increasing seven per cent on the same period last year and 11 per cent on Q3. Total regional PC shipments totalled 2.89 million units for the quarter, a record high for the regional PC market. However, figures for the entire year were down. According to preliminary figures, 10.47 million PCs were shipped in 1998, compared to 10.54 million in 1997. IDC predicted the worst was over for the Asia/Pacific region, predicting 1999 would see the market pick up by at least 14 per cent. Compaq was named as top of the PC market, with 8.5 per cent market share. IBM was a close second with 8.1 per cent, and Legend and Hewlett-Packard shared third place with 4.7 per cent. Legend and Dell saw the greatest growth, with 73.4 per cent and 45.9 per cent respectively. Apple saw solid growth for the second consecutive quarter, which IDC put down to the success of the iMac. Not all markets saw PC sales pick up. Indonesia, Thailand and Korea saw shipments fall 81.8 per cent, 40.5 per cent and 34.3 per cent respectively. Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong also suffered. The strongest countries across the Asia/Pacific region were China, India, Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand. ®
Linda Harrison, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Free-PC blasted by rival for giving PCs away

The president of budget PC maker Microworkz, Rick Latman, has lashed out at Free-PC for giving away computers filled with advertising, declaring: "No one should have to sell their soul for a PC." Latman made the comment shortly after Free-PC had announced received around 500,000 requests from people apparently perfectly happy to sell their souls. Latman went on: "The answer to bringing PCs to everyone is the true value of a sub-$500 PC, not the clutter and noise of in-your-face commercialism." This philanthropic outburst is slightly tainted by the fact that Microworkz has also announced that it plans to heavily advertise its Ad-Free-PC logo on stickers, available to other distributors, and also a new web site. ® More home computers to be given away as direct-marketing tools There's no such thing as a free PC
Will Knight, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel to demo 1GHz chip by year end

Chip company Intel has started manufacturing 0.18 micron silicon at its fab 20 chip plant and is likely to demo a 1GHz processor by year end, it said today. Pierre Mirjolet, architecture marketing manager at Intel EMEA, would not be tied down to when samples will go out to customers but his slide presentation showed that could be as early as February 2000. (See slides: Intel's plans for 1GHz microprocessors) He did, however, say that Intel will have 0.18 micron processors in production at year end with clock speeds 600MHz and greater. The first .18 micron chips will, however, be mobile parts, available in June, he said. Mirjolet said that by this time next year, Intel would have three of its fabs producing 0.18 micron technology and was likely to have two more in place shortly afterwards. While Fab 20 in Oregon was a development plant, Mirjolet said that it will move to a full production fab. That was to avoid what Intel describes as "knowledge leakage", where development fabs "threw their designs over a wall" and expected other factories to immediately start full scale production, cold. Intel has already started shipping a flip-chip packaging for its 0.18 micron processors within the SECC-2 package, said Mirjolet. That has the advantage of providing better connections and so supporting faster bus speeds, he said. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

No copper for Intel until 0.13 micron

There is no need for Intel to implement copper interconnects in its processors until 0.13 micron process technology arrives, a senior executive said today. Pierre Mirjolet, architecture marketing manager at Intel EMEA, claimed that while copper does have a resistivity less than 40 per cent than aluminium, Intel's interconnect technology provided better performance than current copper interconnect. (Intel slides for this presentation: Intel talks copper bottoms) "We have copper technology but from a volume production point of view, it doesn't make sense yet," he said. "We're not necessarily against new technology. For us, the new technology is not cost effective." He admitted that if Intel moved to its own existing copper technology, it would have to invest in wholly new equipment. He claimed that copper processs equipment is still immature, and would mean higher costs and lower initial yields. "Intel has been focusing on interconnect technology for 15 years," he said. "Then, Intel told its top brains in process development to focus on interconnect. Our approach might be different from other companies who use memory as a model and then move to logic." Interconnect technology, said Mirjolet, accounted for as much as 50 per cent of the cost of a microprocessor. ® *Mirjolet said that Intel had managed to get 16Mb SRAMs performing in its labs at 900MHz. However, he said this was a lab technology, and not a product announcement.
Mike Magee, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel confuses world+dog over 0.18 micron

Chip Goliath Intel claimed this morning that its 0.18 micron technology is really 0.13 micron technology and that puts it ahead of the chip rat-pack. Said Pierre Mirjolet, architecture marketing manager at Intel's European HQ in Munich: "The 0.18 micron generation is a path set up by the industry. We're achieving better performance than that. In actual fact, our 0.18 micron performance is 0.13 micron performance." He said: "We're able to get a little bit more out of 0.18 micron technology. We're moving faster than the industry. You can say [in Intel's case] that 0.18 micron is 0.13 micron." He continued: "We'll use shallow trench isolation in the P858 to increase the densities. The minimum gate dimension is .13 micron." Different chip manufacturers measured things differently, he conceded. "0.13 micron is the width of the gate travelling from the source to the drain," he said. Mirjolet cited the proceeds of the IEDM as proof of his pudding. He produced a tabulation in his presentation. Intel has gate oxide thickness of 3.0, transistor NMOS of 850, and current PMOS of 380. He was unable to say which companies A, B and C referred to for legal reasons, but pointed us to pages of the 1998 IEDM report page 623, page 627 and page 1013. If anyone has this IEDM report, maybe they'd like to tell us so we can identify these companies A, B and C. We've got the slide presentation and will put up selected pages from it tomorrow -- if anyone is interested. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq thumps Win64 tub

News reaches us from our US insider at Compaq that the company has opened a Win64 porting centre in Bellevue. It is asking people it likes to sign a non-disclosure agreement and join it in planning ahead. The plan will be formally unveiled in April but early adopters have already been formally courted by Compaq executives, our insider notes. Compaq has, of course, said that it will make the transparent connection between Win64 and D/UX, now Tru64 Unix. Scaling is still a problem for Compaq on the Intel platform and when it announces its eight way IA32 box in April, Windows NT may not work as well as Microsoft hopes. That leads Compaq engineers to suspect that they might be better off staying with the benighted little endian Alpha chip. ®
Mike Magee, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Sluttish Merced still undead

Intel's Merced processor is still on track for release in the middle of next year, the chip goliath still insists. But stories that it and Microsoft have fallen out over compilers has spurred a barrage of reports on comp.arch and comp.sys.intel that the chip is deader than a dead dodo. Chip designers, according to a source at Intel, do well when they are playing a high-level abstraction game but when the people who have to wire things together see the plans, they develop a berserk point of view. And if compilers don't work as well as they're supposed to, then Merced begins to look more like a precursor to a McKinley by the day, various correspondents to the news groups have reported. Speed and performance goals have failed, according to the thread on the news group, which refers to our story of a few days ago. One poster said: "I'm reminded of the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update with Chevy Chase when Generalissmo Francisco Franco clung to life for about eight weeks. Chevy would come in and report the news: 'Generallissimo Francisco Franco is critically dead'. Stick a fork in it. I think Merced is done." ®
Mike Magee, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Nintendo will sue UltraHLE developers

Nintendo has confirmed it will take legal action against the two developers of UltraHLE, a Windows-based N64 emulator. The move comes a week after Sony failed to get Connectix's Mac-based PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS), banned while the console vendor prepares a legal case against the developer. In a statement to Web site Faster Game News Online, Nintendo US spokeswoman said: "Nintendo is very disturbed that [UltraHLE's developers] have widely distributed a product designed solely to play infringing copies of copyrighted works developed by Nintendo and its third-party licensees. "We are taking several measures to further protect and enforce our intellectual property rights which, of course, includes the bringing of legal action. Emulators and ROMs are clearly infringing and damage not only 'larger industry players' such as Nintendo but hundreds of smaller companies who invest millions of dollars and thousands of hours to develop and program software only to have it stolen on the Internet." While Connectix has strongly defended VGS on the basis that it will not play pirated copies of PlayStation titles, that defence has never been open to the UltraHLE developers since the N64 emulator will only work with games downloaded from ROM cartridges to the PC. Nintendo's software licence explicitly forbids this, even for the taking of personal back-ups. As the software licence says: "Copying of any Nintendo game is illegal and is strictly prohibited by domestic and international copyright laws. "Back-up" or "archival" copies are not authorized and are not necessary to protect your software. Violators will be prosecuted." That said, UltraHLE's developers, known only by the handles 'RealityMan' and 'Epsilon', were quick to remove the emulator from public circulation when it aroused Nintendo's ire (see N64 emulator vanishes after lawsuit threat), and have stressed that the emulator was developed without recourse to Nintendo intellectual property or to bypass its anti-piracy methods (see Nintendo legal rumblings provoke boycott call). However, the ROM copying remains an issue, whatever the intentions of the developers. How Nintendo will proceed with the case will be interesting. For a start, suing two aliases may prove difficult, especially if Nintendo can't show who RealityMan and Epsilon really are -- it would certainly make it difficult for the court to issues each developer a summons. In any case, quite what the console vendor hopes to win from legal action is unclear. Given the amateur nature of the developers, there's unlikely to be any financial gain, and the public relations damage inflicted by the image of a major global corporate stamping on two individuals would certainly sour a Nintendo victory. However, it would persuade many potential emulator developers to abandon such projects, and the company may be willing to put up with the PR headaches just to do that. ® See also Analysis: Dissecting Sony's game
Tony Smith, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Lycos/USA Networks merger collapses

Update A tremor of unease that in turn triggered an avalanche of investor dissatisfaction appears to lie at the heart of the failed merger between the diversified media company USA Networks and the Web portal Lycos, as revealed earlier today by The Register. Both companies appeared to have underestimated the reaction of Lycos investors who were angry that they wouldn't be getting a hefty premium from the deal as has been the case in other high-profile Internet mergers. But sources close to the deal told The Register the deal had now been thrown in the bin. What's more, Lycos investors believed that the deal favoured USA Networks shareholders which further undermined their confidence. As a result, they began to vote with their feet almost as soon as the deal was announced forcing shares in Lycos to plummet $33 on Tuesday. Shares lost a further $7 on Wednesday but rebounded yesterday by $16 to close at $103.25. And it appears that shaky investor confidence soon gave CMGI, the venture capital firm that owns 20 per cent of Lycos, a severe case of the jitters. Yesterday, the company is reported to have said that it wouldn't vote for the deal if Lycos' stock price didn't recover from the 31 per cent drop it suffered immediately after the planned deal was announced. In an attempt to steady situation and at the request of Nasdaq market officials CMGI issued a statement saying it was "generally supportive of the Lycos/USA Networks transaction as previously reported, but reserves the right to reassess its position as developments unfold." Despite this lukewarm response few people thought it would lead to the deal being scrapped. Early this morning reports from the US quoted Lycos chief executive Robert Davis trying to talk up the deal after meeting with key investors yesterday. He said that support for the deal was gaining momentum among investor and that any initial nervousness was understandable due to the complexity of the deal. Neither company has released an official statement regarding the collapse of the deal. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

HMV to explore digital music distribution

UK-based worldwide music retail chain HMV today announced it is to work with IBM on the development of Web sites to sell music over the Internet. But while the retailer was keen to stress the sites will initially be used as a cassette and CD sales mechanism, expanding the service to provide digital distribution can't be far behind. HMV said it will open a sales site in Canada in the second quarter of the year, followed by sites in the UK and Japan. However, the company's UK site already allows visitors to order from a selection of best-selling recordings. That suggests the sites will quickly expand the range of titles they cover to offer a complete selection of 'in print' discs -- the company claims around 250,000 recordings will be offered. By the time that's up and running, the results of the first public trials of the Madison Project should be in (see Big Blue, Big Five to unveil Net music system). And which company connects the HMV announcement to Madison? IBM. Big Blue will work with the retailer on its Web sites, and is currently readying its digital music distribution system for a Spring trial in San Diego. Two components make Madison particularly interesting: first, the backing of the world's top five record labels -- Sony, EMI (which, incidentally, owns a goodly portion of HMV; beginning to see how it all fits together, yet?), Time-Warner, Universal and Bertelsmann -- and, secondly, the very real prospect it offers for allowing retailers to use the Internet to turn their stores into custom CD plants -- why hold a limited stock when you can use the majors' Internet music archives to provide customers with almost every recording ever made? (see IBM's Project Madison: the music industry's Manhattan Project?). Clearly, HMV, which, as a High Street based retailer, stands to lose the most from Internet-based sales and, ultimately, direct digital delivery of music, sees things that way too. At today's announcement, the company wouldn't say when it will offer digital downloads, but Duncan Bell, HMV's director for business development and IT, did admit that "as the technology becomes available for music downloading, we will explore it". With Madison's trial so close, that exploration is set to begin very soon. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Online angels hit out at their non-virtual counterparts

The founders of the CyberAngels, the online version of the vigilante good-guys, are suing the Guardian Angels and its founder Curtis Sliwa for fraud, copyright infringement, libel, breach of contract, misleading tax advice, defamation and unpaid debts. Colin Gabriel Hatcher and Dominie Judge Kitaj, who filed the suit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, allege that the Guardian Angels -- famous for wearing red berets and fighting street crime -- have violated their copyright by claiming ownership of materials that were written by Hatcher. The suit further alleges that after Hatcher was told he was to receive an award for his volunteer work in cyberspace safety education, the Guardian Angels said that Hatcher was an employee of their organisation instead. As a result of this alleged misrepresentation, Hatcher was deemed ineligible for the award, the CyberAngels maintain. Kitaj is also suing for reimbursement of several thousand dollars which she says she lent the Guardian Angels to run various community service projects. The Guardian Angels deny that they owe her any money. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Sex pest caught after Internet chat room meeting

According to reports on Reuters, a 37 year old man from the UK has been arrested in the US after he travelled to Ohio, hoping to marry a 15 year old girl he had met over the Internet. According to police, Ian Waddup, from Newcastle upon Tyne, who has a history of sex offences against children, was arrested on Tuesday after they had been alerted to his plans by Interpol. Waddup has been charged with interfering with the custody of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a child. He has been remanded in custody until he goes to court on 4 March. Bail of $20,000 was set. Ohio police said Waddup had first made contact with the girl over the Internet some 18 months ago, when she was only 14 years old. The contact first took place in a Web site chat room. ®
Sean Fleming, 12 Feb 1999