6th > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Internet set to run out of names

Forget the flesh-eating millennium bug and the porn-posting Melissa virus -- the Internet is facing a far nastier fate. The Net is running out of domain names -- and with 50,000 of the things being registered each day, the crisis could end in total meltdown unless something is done about it. It could even lead to an all-out war as battalions of lawyers around the world begin declaring war on each other as they fight for domain names and trademarks. The claims have been made in a new book, Domain Wars and author Naseem Javed, president of domain name consultancy, ABC Namebank International, believes it could even lead to anarchy on the Net as the domain name registration system collapses under its own weight. According to Javed, the domain name system is the pillar of ecommerce and arguably more important than the Internet itself. After all, without a domain identity, the Internet has no value, he said. "Come the millennium, only the very best names will dominate the global marketplace," he said. "Weak, confusingly similar or nearly identical names will not survive the power of electronic commerce. The duplication factor alone will bury most names in complex global listings," he said. One way round the problem is to replace the current naming system with digits similar to telephone numbers, although such a move is likely to be highly unpopular, he said.
The Register breaking news

India's billion thinks Compaq is DeskPoor

A year ago From The Register No. 72, 6 April 1998 Compaq’s cheapo PC for second and third world consumers, the DeskPoor 1000, has provoked a heap of indignation in India. The sub-$1,000 200MHZ Pentium PC incorporates obsolete technology, and does not include the price of the keyboard, the mouse and the monitor, critics say. But the outrage is somewhat synthetic. "Obsolete" seems to revolve around an old copy of Windows 95 and the use of EDO RAM, rather than SDRAM. Hardly, a hanging offence, The Register thinks. But by accusing Compaq of "dumping" obsolete technology, the critics are playing up to India’s highly-developed chauvinist sentiments. Compaq’s Indian critics are of course rival PC manufacturers. And they are doing their best to undermine Compaq India’s advertising blitz for the DeskPoor. They say the $995 price point is misleading. Of course it is. But surely, Indian punters can work this one out for themselves. In the UK, a couple of years back, Compaq ran a similar campaign for the sub-£1,000 server, also sans keyboard and monitor. Elonex and other companies complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, the regulator of such matters in the UK. We can’t remember what the outcome was. But we are confident that Compaq had moved onto the next price point, the next campaign, by the time the ASA concluded its deliberations. ®
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Chipzilla screams at IT world's most famous Belgian

Chip giant Intel said late yesterday it had taken a $30 million equity stake in Lernout & Hauspie (L&H). The firm is run by Gaston Bastiaens, an ex-Apple and Quarterdeck employee, and makes speech recognition and natural language software. The L&H technology is also licensed by Microsoft for use in some of its products. Intel has repeatedly said it is interested in the area of speech recognition, which demands fast processor speeds and lots and lots of memory. ®
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Intel applies famous CPU price fork…

At the end of this week, Intel will slash prices on its Celeron, PII and PIII processors by as much as 20 per cent, as revealed here earlier. The PII/333 will become one of the Intel disappeared. See our story on the 23rd of March, Intel too slash Pentium III prices on 11 April. But, in the meantime, a reader has asked us how come he can already buy a boxed retail Pentium III/500 online for $669 when its distributor list price is $696/1000? How, he asks, can he buy a single CPU for $30 less than Intel sells them by the thousand? If you press Intel on this question, as we did at its last Developer Conference in February, the slit holes at Fortress Chipzilla suddenly fill up with crossbow archers and the spin doctors start boiling up Greek (or should it be Geek) Fire. For the benefit of readers who don't understand the part manufacturers, distributors and dealers play in the food chain, here follows a small explanation of "the channel". Intel doesn't like selling direct to end users because it would have to cope with expensive logistics. It therefore sells to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Compaq and to big distributors. The Compaqs and Dells of the world build the CPUs into their machine and then sell them on. Distributors, which are middlemen, have a gang of customers called dealers, which assemble PCs and sell them on to end users. OEMs and distributors get different prices from Intel, depending on their size. A large distributor in Germany, Lion, had complained that Intel appeared to be selling Pentium II processors to a big grocery chain for far less than it could buy them. The result was that his dealer base was buying PCs from the grocer, stripping them down, and re-building them. At the time, Paul Otellini, a senior Intel VP who runs the architecture division, claimed that the span of prices on microprocessors was in single figures. We found this hard to believe, but he was adamant. You will, however, recall that a couple of weeks back, Intel told the Securities and Equities Commission that nearly a quarter of its CPU sales went to two very large OEMs. Distributors and other Intel customers are notified quite early on of price changes to microprocessors. If, for example, they have bought too many Pentium IIIs and over-anticipated demand, they will seek to liberate these chips ahead of the price cut. So chips reach the grey market. Intel is well aware of the existence of this market, as are other CPU manufacturers, but it is not in its interest to stop it. That's why you can get bargains and it's also the reason why Intel doesn't make a song and dance about its price changes. It has to keep its customers (OEMs and distributors) happy, and if you, the poor end user, knew that there was an enormous price cut coming any day now, you might delay buying a new PC. And that would never do, especially as Intel's 50 per cent plus profit margins would be affected. Later this week, AMD will turn in lossy results while Intel will do, well, pretty OK. ®
The Register breaking news

Good morning Silicon Carbide Valley

Wall Street's local newspaper is reporting that a boffin has come up with a mixture of substances that will give better chip performance than silicon. The Wall Street Journal said that boffins at the University of Delaware, US, have invented a mixture of silicon carbide and germanium which will perform better and at higher temperatures than the pure silicon currently used. If the reports are correct, this is a real breakthrough. Although silicon is common as muck on our planet, the type used by Intel and other semiconductor companies is not the kind you find on Brighton beach. ®
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Hardware freaks overclock 300 Celeron to 600MHz

Our friends over at The Overclocker Page have produced a Celeron system using a 300A processor that now racks up 600MHz. And, at the same time, they have got hold of PC-133 SDRAM to boost the speed that little bit more. There are picture's at the site. The system uses cooled water and a combination of other cooling methods to achieve the high clock speeds. Intel, earlier this year, vowed to stop overclocking on its chips but that did not stop senior VP Albert Yu clocking a processor to 1GHz at the Intel Developer Forum, nor did it prevent Pat "Kicking" Gelsinger from doing the same with a Pentium Xeon at CeBIT in March. ®
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Naked RDRAM pix found on Happy Cat site

Our favourite Japanese site, Happy Cat has posted some pics of Rambus modules on its Web site. Our friend Daiki says that the Japanese caption describes them as 300MHz DRDRAM from Mitsubishi. People were showing them in back rooms at CeBIT but wouldn't let us in. So does this mean that reports there is a further problem with RDRAM are false and the things will ship in time (Q3). Entirely possible, say our sources. There are some more pix of the pesky things here. Happy Cat is famous for having stood up to Chipzilla and posted pictures of the ill-fated 815 chip set... ®
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IT outfits creep up Fortune 500

By and large, IT companies have moved up the latest Fortune 500 while oil companies and sugar water companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola have gone down. Ranked in order of 1998 sales, General Motors still tops the list, with Ford second and Wal-Mart third, displacing Exxon to fourth. General Electric comes fifth ($100.5 billion revenue), and the lowest qualifier had revenue of $2.896 billion. In 1998, profits for the 500 fell 1.8 per cent, while revenue growth was down to 4 per cent from 7.5 per cent. The list is of course of US companies. The following list pulls out the IT companies - the number in parentheses is the ranking for last year: 6 IBM (6) No change here 15 HP (15) Also no change 28 Compaq (42) Up thanks to Digital of course 33 Lucent (37) As expected - the telecom sector has done well 34 Motorola (29) Not exactly a surprise it moved down 40 Intel (38) Only a small gain 55 Ingram Micro (79) That's a big leap up 78 Dell (125) Another big gain 90 EDS (88) No tears about this 109 Microsoft (137) But will the rise last for ever? 135 US West (new to list) This was a spectacular gain for the Baby Bell and cable operator 164 Sun (184) A tidy gain 223 Gateway 2000 (262) A good performance 273 Apple (223) A disaster, but next year should do better 303 3Com (329) Up, but the profits are the problem 307 CompUSA (329) 335 Computer Associates (369) 343 Merisel (368) 470 Silicon Graphics (399) At this rate it will exit the list next year 487 Micron Technology (413) It does not always pay to be Microsoft's friend ®
The Register breaking news

Microsoft teams with EFF to push Web privacy

An improbable double act - Microsoft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is to announce tools to promote and protect Web privacy later today. Typically one would expect any privacy tools Microsoft would announce to be geared towards promoting Microsoft platforms, but the support of the EFF suggests that maybe this time Redmond really is intending to put its weight behind an industry-wide effort. The intent is to accelerate the take-up of the platform for privacy preferences, P3P. This will provide a standard mechanism for Web sites to present their privacy policies, showing what information they propose to gather about visitors and what they intend to do with it. This standard format is then readily readable by users' browsers (when the technology is in the browsers, that is), so when you go to a Web site your browser will automatically check out its privacy policies, check them against the ones you've set for yourself, and report back to you accordingly. The Microsoft tools are intended to allow companies to write their privacy policies, so yes, they will be at least Microsoft-weighted if not Microsoft-specific, and other companies are going to have to deal with non-Windows Web platforms. The EFF's unusual backing of Microsoft here may have been prompted by the threat of privacy legislation. Governments everywhere are getting more and more annoyed by the software industry's apparent inability to do anything about privacy protection, or even to restrain itself (hello Microsoft) from breaching personal privacy. Getting P3P going faster may therefore seem like a smart way to head-off government intervention. But it's doubtful if adequate privacy standards can be delivered fast enough for this. P3P itself has a problem in that a Seattle company, Intermind, holds a key patent for it and wants money. And even if this is overcome, getting all of the software accepted as a worldwide standard and deployed will be a major challenge. ®
The Register breaking news

NT Embedded – a solution in search of a problem?

At WinHEC later this week Microsoft is due to demonstrate Windows NT Embedded for the first time, but it may turn out to be a solution in search of a problem. Microsoft is pitching NT Embedded as a way to tie low-cost and low-footprint devices into 'standard' Windows corporate networks, but resolving the necessary smallness of the first with the inherent bigness of the second will turn out to be a major headache. According to flash disk specialist M-Systems, whose DiskOnChip product has won native support in NT Embedded, the OS can scale down to as low as 12 megabytes, meaning that it's possible to build a stripped-down NT Embedded workstation that will run off a relatively small flash disk device, and use this for some local storage. The advantage here in Microsoft's view is that this allows companies to deploy NT Embedded workstations as point of sale devices, in hostile factory and warehouse environments and so on. Microsoft networks and BackOffice systems which are already deployed in the company can therefore be rolled out further to much more of the workforce. Microsoft argues that using NT rather than a proprietary embedded system (NB remember Microsoft thinks Windows isn't proprietary) is a vast improvement. But the contradictions are obvious. By embedded standards, NT Embedded's footprint is rather large, and it's unlikely that it will operate well at the minimum hardware specification. Again from Microsoft's point of view there is a clear advantage in having local processing and local storage, because if the network connection goes down the local machine can carry on operating. But the validity of this on a full-blown corporate network is at least dubious (carry on operating at what?), while at point of sale or in a warehouse, the inability to process credit cards or take orders via the network effectively shuts down the terminal anyway. Some years back the designers of so-called pocket PCs learned the hard way that PCs were about running PC software far more than they were about running x86 processors - 'PC compatible' machines with 8086, no disk storage and 64k RAM therefore turned out not to be PCs after all, and didn't sell. NT Embedded may well be set to vanish down the same plug-hole. So you can run NT locally on a low(ish) resource platform. But a lot of what you need to do is probably going to have to run remotely on the server anyway - so why don't you just run a cheap diskless workstation and an, er, Unix server anyway, like you were doing before? ®
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c't anti-spam campaign gets Melissa boost

The campaign started by German magazine c't and also supported by The Register has received a boost because of the scare caused by the Melissa virus. Over the last 10 days, the entire worldwide corporate establishment has shuddered after a "feature" in Microsoft Outlook meant the replication of a macro virus to other email addresses. However, although so far nearly 19,000 German netizens have registered to join the Euro anti-spam campaign, take up in the UK has been slow. Maybe it's time to go to this site and sign up... ®
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Intel makes no comment on Coppermine cache

Chip giant Intel has made a firm no comment following speculation that its Coppermine technology will include 64K of level one cache. Rumours circulated towards the end of last year that the original iteration of Katmai (Pentium III) processors would include double the cache but they proved unfounded. Now speculation is rife on the WWW that Coppermine will come with the 64K cache. But it seems we will either have to wait for a secret roadmap to fall into our hands on Coppermine technology. An Intel representative said: "Coppermine is the .18 micron process and it will ship in the second half of this year with speeds of 600MHz and above." She would not say whether or not this additional cache would come with it. ®
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Unshackle ecommerce, say UK lawyers

The Law Society is warning the UK government not to strangle the development of ecommerce with red tape. Responding to the government's consultation paper, Building Confidence in Electronic Commerce, the Law Society believes that since no one can accurately predict how ecommerce will develop over the next few years it would be folly to shackle it now with the introduction of cumbersome legislation. If the government ignores this advice and proceeds with burdening ecommerce with a "rigid regulatory system" when it brings forward the Electronic Commerce Bill later this year, then it could put e-people at a distinct disadvantage. "People must be able to put their trust in ecommerce," said Michael Mathews, president of the Law Society. "If the government really wants this way of doing business to take off, they must not place unnecessary restrictions in its path," he said. He also called for e-commerce to be governed by exactly the same rules and regulations that cover ordinary business conducted on paper. "Equality with paper commerce is the only way forward," he said. ®
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IBM rolls out four way H70 kit

Big Blue has revealed details of the latest models in its RS/6000 family and has claimed the products will give it a headstart over competitors HP and Sun. The H70 is an enterprise server with a claimed 50 per cent boost over its old H50 model and improved 64-bit PowerPC chips. IBM also has introduced a cluster of machines called the HA H70 which includes a set of scripts for application software. Ken Batty, RS/6000 marketing manager for IBM in the UK, said: "The H70 is a rack mounted upgrade to the H50 or available as a new machine. This is a 64 bit machine available from one to four 64 biy processors running AIX 4.3 He said it competes with and beats equivalent Sun boxes on price and performance. "The key areas for these marchines are as database servers with around 17000 transactions on TPCC," he said. "Just having a 64 bit OS and 64 bit chips allows you to address more than two gigabytes of memory." The machines have a SpecWeb of 11,800, Batty said. He said the products will support a whole raft of software applications including Domino, SAP, Baan, PeopleSoft and Candel. "We provide scripts with the machines that will bring applications back up if they fall over," he claimed. ®
The Register breaking news

Journalist beats-off Microsoft subpoeana

Electronic privacy may be coming, but the legal right to privacy in the US is not what might be expected from assurances by Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft. True stories of general interest nevertheless have a greater likelihood of being told without repercussions if told to a journalist, as Dan Goodin of CNET has shown by shaking off a subpoena to squeal on his source for a juicy Gates' story. At issue is the right to anonymity on bulletin boards and the Internet. The US Supreme Court has ruled that anonymity in communication is allowed under the First Amendment, but that's not how the service providers see it. They have fine phrases assuring privacy, but do not wish to become involved if a company wants to find out the identity of disgruntled employees expressing their views on the Web. The latest to get shirty is Raytheon, the defence contractor: reports say that two employees have been dismissed after disclosure of their personal data by Yahoo. Yahoo, heroically, says it always complies with court orders. The core of the privacy issue is whether personal details should be released in response to a subpoena or other legal process without the opportunity for a defence. The problem areas split into three: malicious statements that are not true; the disclosure of confidential company information; and value judgments about a company, together with true facts that a company may not wish to be known but are of general interest. Few people would disagree that spreading maliciously false information should be discouraged, and that after proper legal examination of the merits of a claim, disclosure of a user's name is not unreasonable, providing the user is notified in advance. There is a grey area so far as the disclosure of allegedly confidential information is concerned. Definitions of "confidential" vary, and in some cases disclosure is in effect whistleblowing about some unethical behaviour by a company. So far as value judgements and general interest information are concerned, it is hard to see why a mature company should be unduly concerned about these. Employees that stay with a company that they criticise make fools of themselves. Companies that feel that their reputations are suffering as the result of anonymous postings should consider defending their actions and challenging the attackers to produce evidence. ISPs give way very easily to information requests from companies about anonymous posters because they do not want the hassle of defending themselves. AOL says it gives its customers 14 days to challenge a legal process or comply with it, before disclosing their name. Microsoft will only say that it "usually" notifies customers before it divulges personal information, but has no written policy about this. But journalist Dan Goodin has successfully defeated a subpoena from Microsoft requiring him to disclose how he obtained an email written by Bill Gates in which Gates said that Java "scares the hell out of me". His story was carried on CNET last September. Although the email is now in the public domain, Microsoft was at the time most upset that Goodin had been able to obtain a copy, and claimed that it wanted to find out who was responsible for allegedly violating the court order sealing the document. In the San Jose District Court, Magistrate Patricia Trumbull ruled that Goodin could have obtained the document from many sources without violating the court's seal. Microsoft's effort to keep its leader's words confidential not only failed, but gave them wider circulation than would otherwise have been the case. Microsoft is apparently chewing over whether to appeal, but it seems unlikely. It is noteworthy that Goodin was prepared to go to prison to defend his source, but ISPs do not have the ethical fortitude to see if there is a good case before disclosing their customers' private details to ISPs. If there's a moral in all this, it is that if you have an interesting story, tell it to a journalist with integrity (no jokes please), and avoid getting fired by companies like Raytheon. But if the story is unfounded, it's on your own head if an employer objects to untrue comment when it is posted. ®
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Industry chip association says sales levelling out

Trade association the Semiconductor Industry Association said that its worldwide figures for February show the market is levelling out. According to the SIA, that represents a growth of 3.3 per cent compared to February last year. Said Doug Audrey, the SIA director of finance: "This month's numbers show signs of continued industry growth that we expect will remain steady throughout the year." The Asia Pacific region showed a surge of 10.3 sales growth compared to February last year, the US market was unchanged, while the European and Japanese markets showed a slight increase of 1.9 and 2.8 per cent respectively. However, the SIA's projections may be a little optimistic. A Dataquest survey of the semiconductor market, released last week, showed that many chip firms have to do much to regain lost sales. ®
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Melissa virus targeted by UK retail giant

More than a week after she first hit the headlines, Melissa has caught the eye of a leading UK company. WH Smith, the Great Satan of high-street booksellers, is offering an antidote to anyone bitten by the Melissa bug through a free 30-day trial of anti-virus software. The high street giant is offering a trial version of Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus as a download from its Web site. Although the virus was discovered promptly and many companies took evasive action straight away, a leading UK computer security guru is warning against complacency. Neil Barrett, security consultant at Bull, with the delightfully charming job title of IT Fellow, said almost everyone using computers was still at risk. "It is a great threat to those who fall into the category of the most vulnerable – those using Internet access and Office ’97. People need to take precautions." And according to Barrett, there is worse to come. A more dangerous virus is due to hit machines later this month. Called the CIH virus, this new bug actually trashes the PC’s hard disk. It is set to trigger on April 26. ® See earlier story.
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S3, Via confirm chip cooperation

Chipset company Via and graphics company S3 confirmed today they had set up a strategic alliance. Both will work together to produce integrated chipsets for both AMD and Intel microprocessors. The first fruits of alliance are expected to arrive in the second half of this year aimed at both mainstream and low end PCs market. According to S3 and Via, their solution will provide "substantial performance improvements and cost savings". Via has become increasingly aggressive towards Intel, which also produces chipsets. Last week, we saw the first chipset to support the PC-133 memory standard, a standard that Intel has repeated again and again it will not support. S3's relationship with Intel is shrouded in mystery but earlier this year we confirmed it has patents which Chipzilla covets. ®
The Register breaking news

Internet set to run out of names

Forget the flesh-eating millennium bug and the porn-posting Melissa virus -- the Internet is facing a far nastier fate. The Net is running out of domain names -- and with 50,000 of the things being registered each day, the crisis could end in total meltdown unless something is done about it. It could even lead to an all-out war as battalions of lawyers around the world begin declaring war on each other as they fight for domain names and trademarks. The claims have been made in a new book, Domain Wars and author Naseem Javed, president of domain name consultancy, ABC Namebank International, believes it could even lead to anarchy on the Net as the domain name registration system collapses under its own weight. According to Javed, the domain name system is the pillar of ecommerce and arguably more important than the Internet itself. After all, without a domain identity, the Internet has no value, he said. "Come the millennium, only the very best names will dominate the global marketplace," he said. "Weak, confusingly similar or nearly identical names will not survive the power of electronic commerce. The duplication factor alone will bury most names in complex global listings," he said. One way round the problem is to replace the current naming system with digits similar to telephone numbers, although such a move is likely to be highly unpopular, he said. ®
The Register breaking news

OMG shrugs collective shoulders at Linux

The latest raft of directors appointed to the board of the OMG holds out little hope, or hype for the Linux community. The object management group (OMG) today appointed nine directors to its board from a range of different software companies but no great figures from Linux were there. Instead, a spokeswoman for the OMG said that the software industry had suffered a series of setbacks on Wall Street over the last six days. She said: "People are not signing big contracts any more. It's going to be a really tough time in the software industry. You have these seriously high rated stocks and the rest are all being marked down." Instead, she pointed us to a Linux-affiliated web site, which is Mico. She insisted that all the real Corba money was still in non-OSS software, as reported here last Autumn. ®
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Web software consolidation as JSB snaps up Kansmen

JSB Software Technologies will make California-based Kansmen its first acquisition since floating last year. UK-based JSB has entered a "conditional agreement" to buy the software company for an initial consideration of $2 million cash and deferred consideration of up to $3 million in cash and shares. It is hoping to raise the $5 million to fund the buy-out by placing 2,367,439 new ordinary shares at 230p per share, according to a statement by JSB today. JSB specialises in Web-access software. It floated on AIM last June. San Jose-based Kansmen produces similar Internet access management products to JSB. Congleton-based JSB recorded a pre-tax loss of £373,000 against £1.76 million interim turnover for the six months ended November 1998. It has a US subsidiary near San Jose, California, with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark. ®
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LG fiddles while Mexico iMac plant burns

Apple's iMac production programme was hit last week by a major fire at LG Electronics' Mexicali, Mexico plant. Damage from the fire itself, reported by the AppleInsider Web site, and the water used to put it out, forced the closure of the plant for "at least a month", according to LG sources quoted by the site. Quite what the effect on Apple's sales will be remains to be seen, however, but it's unlikely to be as bad as some Apple watchers have claimed. The Mexicali plant began punching out iMacs as part of a deal Apple struck earlier this year to outsource iMac production to LG (see Apple tight-lipped on LG's iMac production deal and Apple axes 450 jobs in Cork, Ireland). Any impact on the company itself is likely to be taken in its Q3 1999 results -- Q2 ended on the day of the fire, 27 March -- largely thanks to a reduction in the number of iMacs in Apple's various sales channels. That said, the whole point of the LG deal was to give Apple access to LG's economies of scale. Assuming Apple has signed LG to supply x iMacs per month (say), LG will have to do so, even if those machines must come from its plants in Europe and the Far East. And if those machines cost more to produce as a result, well, that's technically LG's problem, not Apple's. This is, after all, why factories are insured. ®
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PointCast ex-CEO looks to re-acquire company

PointCast founder and former CEO Chris Hassett looks set to make a bid to buy back the ailing push technology provider. Hassett today confirmed he has engaged a New York investment bank to investigate and possibly action the acquisition of a majority stake in PointCast. "PointCast has tremendous assets that continue to make it a strong Internet media company," he said. "Adding the appropriate capital, management and strategic vision make PointCast an exciting opportunity." The only snag is that that's pretty much the strategy current CEO Phil Koen is following and is broadly the gameplan of Koen's predecssor, David Dorman. In short, pumping in money, from a buyer or a strategic investor, will solve PointCast's problems. Dorman sought that money through a deal with a consortium of local US telcos which would have seen PointCast technology power the front-ends to their Digital Subscriber Line Internet access services. That deal recentle fell through, leaving Koen to focus on making the company as attractive as possible to any other suitor (see earlier story). Hassett quit PointCast in 1997 to form PrizePoint Entertainment with Frank Blot and John Nogrady. PrizePoint offers Net users free access to games and competitions, and makes money through sponsorship and by marketing its database of registered users. ®
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Yahoo! and Micron team up to provide small business service

Micron Electronics has signed up with Yahoo! to provide customised start pages for home and small business users. The plan is part of the vendor?s launch of its wider mConnect programme with EarthLink, Yahoo! and 3Com. Micron's Millennia PCs will come equipped with a co-branded Micron/My Yahoo! start page, including general, sport and financial news and weather information. The personalised point of entry to the Web also links to Yahoo! Connected Office, where small business users can hold virtual meetings, post messages and communicate in real time with colleagues. The mConnect programme will provide one-year?s free Internet access through EarthLink and a small business network solution - including networking products and services - through 3Com. ®