30th > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Lotus lashes Microsoft, Netscape for email strategies

A senior VP at Lotus has torn into Microsoft for its strategy on email clients. Cliff Reeves, VP of Lotus' communications products, was speaking at the launch of version 5.0 of Notes on a boat called The Silver Barracuda moored on the river Thames. He said Lotus had now re-named Notes SUPER.HUMAN.SOFTWARE as part of a $100 million re-brand of the product. Lotus is not a company which takes its end users prisoner in terms of legacy support, said Reeves. But Microsoft is. Inflicting collateral damage on Netscape in the process, Reeves said: "Microsoft is the worst offender in ripping and replacing [email clients]." Documents provided by Lotus-IBM claimed that Windows 2000 would obsolete previous email clients. "Microsoft Mail was a dead end for Microsoft and they moved to Exchange. They said 'there are no choices'. We [Lotus] didn't do that. We maintained support for cc:Mail long beyond the industry said we should. "When we did, we gave them [customers] a great deal of warning and financial incentives to move. When you install a Domino server it will actively detect cc:Mail. "We don't see our customers as catives. Microsoft gets a tad arrogant with some of their users." Reeves said code for R5 was now gold and boxed product will ship within a month. ®
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Digital's Palmer elected to AMD board

AMD has decided to elect Robert Palmer, ex CEO of Digital before Compaq took it over, to its board of directors. The company held its annual general meeting yesterday. As predicted here, Jerry Sanders III will now take a back seat to Atiq Raza, who becomes president and chief operating officer of the company. Sanders claimed AMD has sorted out its manufacturing and process problems and at the same time pre-announced clock speeds for its K7 chip, partly based on Digital Alpha technology. He said at the shareholders' meeting that the K7 will be announced in June and will come at speeds of 500MHz, 550MHz and 600MHz. He came under attack from an 80-year old, according to reports, who asked Sanders whether he should sell his AMD stock and buy Intel, because the shares were his worst investment. Sanders is reported to have said: "Mine too. I've invested my whole life in AMD." ®
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Tech stocks take a beating as Nasdaq falls

Woken up with a hangover this morning? You’re not alone - anyone with shares in IT companies is likely to be suffering from a pounding head, a queasy stomach and a strange hollow feeling in their bank account. Yesterday was a bad day for IT stocks in the US, according to Computer Reseller News (CRN), the US channel mag that has just been bought by United Media, along with its stable-mates. While the Dow Jones rose 32.9 points, Nasdaq fell by 21.3 to close at 2,529.1, the online report said. This is bad news for many IT stocks. Out of a whole unholy host of big hitters from the IT industry, IBM was one of the few to buck the trend. Strange but true. CRN’s list of slippery stocks goes like this: Microsoft - down 3/16 to 81 15/16; Cisco - down 2 1/2 to 109 1/4; Intel - down 5/16 at 60 7/8; Dell - down 9/16 to 41 1/16; Hewlett Packard - down 1 1/16 to 78 1/4; Compaq down 13/16 to 22 7/8. In the channel, Ingram Micro slipped 1/4 to 25 15/16, but CHS held steady at 5 1/4. ®
Sean Fleming, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Processor Serial Number back from the dead

Reuters in the US reports that the Intel Pentium III serial number fiasco refuses to lie down and die. A hitherto-unknown Canadian software house, Montreal-based Zero-Knowledge Systems, has placed a program on the web that it claims can switch on the serial number and read it without the user knowing. Intel has persuaded long-term buddy Symantec to include the utility on its list of known viruses. And a good thing too, we say. What exactly are these people afraid of? The serial number cannot be used to identify an individual, it can't even identify a particular system. If you don't want people to know you've been visiting dodgy web sites, go down to the corner store and buy a dodgy magazine instead - but beware: the dollar bill you use to buy it has (gasp!) a serial number. Big Brother or what? Team Register has a Pentium III. Its serial number is 00000672000226FA025D71BF. We are not afraid. ® Register factoid 00000672000226FA025D71AB Starting with Whitney (i810) all Intel chipsets will have a hardware random number generator as standard. Let's see what the conspiracy loonies can read into that.
Pete Sherriff, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Lotus chief's ‘combat’ record savaged by WSJ

We noted last year that Lotus boss Jeff Papows had a murky background as a Microsoft secret agent, plotting the overthrow of anti-Redmond strategies at the IBM PC Company (see How Lotus boss helped MS), but we have to take our hats off to yesterday's revelations in the Wall Street Journal's of Jeff's advanced fictional capacities. Boy, has he been telling it to the marines -- apparently. The WSJ tells an absolutely staggering tale of lines Papows seems to have shot, backing the claims up with copious quotes from people from his past who seem to have distinct recollection of our Jeff shooting them (the lines, that is). Jeff himself understandably can't recall them, which is as well, given that they seem not to have been true. So he's not an orphan, his parents are alive and well. He wasn't a Marine Corps captain, he was a lieutenant. He didn't save a buddy by throwing a live grenade out of a trench. He didn't burst an eardrum when ejecting from a Phantom F4, which didn't crash, not killing his co-pilot. He's not a tae kwon do black belt, and he doesn't have a PhD from Pepperdine University. Marine Corps records undermine much of this, and although Papows says he never told these stories, former colleagues and customers remember hearing them. He says the legends just kind of grew up around him, and he let them run to motivate people. He still claims he was a marine flyer, but the Marine Corps says he was in air traffic control, and has no aviation records for him. And here's a little nugget from somebody the WSJ says has clear recollection of shooting the breeze with Jeff over his military background. Major General Thomas L Wilkerson, former commander of the Marine Corps Reserve, bought a stack of Lotus Notes after meeting Papows. It "gave us confidence," he tells the WSJ "Jeff was a Phantom driver just like me." There's plenty more where that came from -- an outstandingly hilarious piece from the WSJ -- grab a copy while you still can. ®
John Lettice, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Win2k beta 3 out – biggest ever MS beta rolls

Microsoft has announced the Windows 2000 beta 3, as expected, and confirmed $59.95 as the general price. But the company has also come up with some numbers. The beta will go to 430,000 customers, 140,000 developers and 100,000 channel partners, which gives us 670,000 recipients before you include versions that go out with PCs from the 20 companies Microsoft says have agreed to ship beta 3. This is a major wild card, as volumes will be a combination of user demand and how restrictively the companies approach distribution. Microsoft doesn't seem to be busting a gut to get what looks set to be the largest ever Windows beta into testers' hands. Some of the most important punters will be getting code early, but the company is still quoting two to four weeks delivery for most, and congestion on Web orders plus delays in getting the international subsidiaries properly plugged into the programme will likely extend this. The company is still maintaining a vague stance on precise gold code shipment, although the beta seems pretty final. If the beta period is lengthy, though, we could see some seriously large numbers of copies going out. We at The Register are working on some estimates, and will get back to you with them RSN. ®
John Lettice, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

HP considered shipping non-MS OS with its Win95 PCs

MS on Trial Hewlett-Packard considered shipping another operating system with its Windows 95 machines, in order to get round Microsoft restrictions placed on the initial boot sequence, according to trial testimony released this week. The plan was apparently rejected because of the strain it would have placed on HP's resources, but it is a further sign of the stresses placed on the OEM relationship by Microsoft's "Windows Experience." This week's testimony comes from John Romano, famous some months back for a belligerent letter to Microsoft saying HP would buy its operating systems elsewhere if it had a choice - which it didn't (HP: We'd dump Windows if we could). The second operating system plan itself harks back to the Windows 95 prelaunch period, when HP PC boss Jacques Clay threatened to ship OS/2 in order to wring concessions from Microsoft, but it also shows that something Microsoft OEM chief Joachim Kempin said at the trial wasn't anything like as bizarre as it seemed. The Microsoft rules for what PC manufacturers can and can't do with Windows on their PCs have been covered ad nauseam here, but briefly, they go like this. There should be an installable (but not installed) version of Windows on the PC, and once the initial Windows boot sequence begins no software other than Microsoft software is allowed to run. PC manufacturers have, since the days of Romano's letter, gained a little more freedom in what they can do during this sequence, but it's still largely Microsoft-driven. Microsoft decides what is displayed on the desktop, and what the initial look and feel is. Microsoft also collects the registration data, whereas PC manufacturers would prefer to collect this themselves, naturally. Kempin suggested to the court that a way around this would be for the PC manufacturer to install a 'thin' operating system that kicked in before the Microsoft licensing procedure kicked in. At the time this seemed a convoluted way to get round the Microsoft contractual straightjacket, and surely something that had only appeared in Kempin's tortured, legalistic mind. But no - HP thought of it too. The fact that HP didn't pursue it, however, does tend to point up how much OEMs pursue the line of least resistance and least cost, and how much this inadvertently helps Microsoft ratchet-up its Ts and Cs. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Gates smoking email asks how to break rival's software

MS on Trial Oops - just when they thought it was safe to go back into the mail system, Caldera has unleashed a stack of nasties relating to the period when, the company claims, Microsoft was deliberately making sure DR-DOS wouldn't run Windows. And quote of the week comes from Jim "Videotape" Allchin, now running Microsoft's multiple OS rollouts but then pithily observing of Redmond's Utah competition: "I hate them." That's a lot easier to read than your deposition transcript, Jim. But more importantly, the email trail leads to Bill Gates again: "You never sent me a response on the question of what things an [application] would do that would make it run with MS-DOS and not run with DR-DOS," writes Bill. One must presume this is only healthy curiosity, rather than evidence of a Gates-inspired plot to sabotage DR-DOS. Microsoft did include a routine that tested for non-MS-DOS operating systems, but only included this in pre-release versions of MS-DOS. But other emails suggest that something was going on. Said Rich Abel: "I hate this whole thing. I think it's totally rude, reinforces the image that users have of us as the evil ones." The emails also show that Microsoft did identify ways to identify whether the OS was DR-DOS or MS-DOS, but found that applications "have no business making [these] calls." Caldera is currently suing Microsoft over claimed destabilisation and anti-competitive behaviour in a period which now seems largely ancient history, but the appearance of more skeletons after the DoJ ones have largely worked their way through the system must be unwelcome news for Microsoft. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Could 3D chips threaten Intel

Recently the memory market has started to go a little soft and most in the industry point the finger of blame at a flat PC market and a jump in output from Micron. Bad news. But in another corner of the computer world business is booming. The world of 3D graphics is going gangbusters as every four months another generation of 3D …
Roy Taylor, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

How Cyrix sees bus architecture

Chip manufacturer Cyrix has posted an interesting presentation it made at the WinHEC conference at the beginning of the month. Thanks to JC for pointing us to the PDF file here. The presentation contains clear diagrams which show the layout of typical frontside and traditional "backside" (ahem) architecture. It also points to the problems involved in implementing level one and level two caches on microprocessors and contrasted integrated level two cache with external cache. If you read between the lines, you will detect some future technology Cyrix will integrate. ®
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Cyrix pays Register a visit

Graham Jackson, European marketing director of Cyrix, paid a visit to The Register the other evening toting a working model of the Webpad. The handheld device, with a 10-inch LCD screen, can use either RF (radio frequency) or DECT technology, the former giving a range of about 500 feet and the latter about 900 feet, said Jackson. He successfully logged into The Register pages using the machine. Jackson said that the Webpad, which will be manufactured by Taiwanese company Tatung for a range of OEMs, is likely to debut in volume in Q3. Applications include warehousing, hospitals and other jobs which involve working on the move. It could also be useful for Register staff when they are in The Old Monk, The Windmill, the Mason's Arms and other pubs in the locality. This, of course, is a very infrequent occurrence. Battery life on the reference model we saw was eight hours. ®
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel puts money into Proxim

Proxim said today that chip giant Intel has signed an agreement over wireless LAN technology Proxim and at the same time took an equity stake in the company. Intel and Proxim will work together to develop home networking products based on the HomeRF shared wireless access protocol (SWAP) spec. The chip giant bought 320,000 shares in Proxim, representing a 2.9 equity share. It has also said it will buy another 96,000 shares. Dan Sweeney, Intel's general manager of home networking, said that the Proxim spec complements its own line of phoneline networking products. ® Intel is not an investor in The Register.
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Quikwriting to speed Palm users

Boffins at New York University's Media Research Lab (MRL) have developed what they claim is are revolutionary new method for pen computing text entry. Designed for the Palm handheld, the Quikwriting system is, the researchers claim, much faster than the Palm's current text entry technology, Graffiti. Developed by MRL Associate Professor Ken Perlin, Quikwriting arranges characters in a special sequence of groups that determines how each letter, number or symbol will be drawn. Within the sequence are symbols which tell the software which character within a group you actually want to enter. Moving the stylus from the centre, towards the desired character's location, to one of two special symbol areas and back the to the centre allows the system to figure out which character you want and display it. The speed comes because it's instantly clear how to get a given character -- you don't need to learn Graffiti's shorthand -- and you need never take the stylus off the screen while writing. Quikwriting will be officially launched during November's User Interface Software and Technology 99 conference. ® You can see in detail how Quikwriting works and download a PalmOS demo here.
Tony Smith, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Coppermine could finish AMD off for good

It's the same old story: Chipzilla shows a new fastest-ever CPU to a bunch of analysts or developers and a few weeks later, AMD cobbles together something using 20 gallons of liquid nitrogen and 5Kw of fans (and sacrifices a couple of virgins to be on the safe side) in a bid to match Intel’s performance. This fixation with raw MHz is as meaningless as the MIP rating beloved of old mainframers, yet both Chipzilla and the Great Satan of Taperecorders persist in playing the "mine’s bigger than yours" game. So, rather predictably, Jerry Sander’s swansong at the AMD annual shareholders' meeting yesterday was a demonstration of the KryoTech Super-G computer running at 1 GHz. KryoTech expects to deliver the Super-G to customers at speeds up to and including 1 GHz. Not above 1 GHz, you’ll notice. Now, Intel is targeting Coppermine to launch in September at 600MHz, but early reports from inside the chip behemoth indicate that yields of up to 733MHz are easily achievable, right now. So we have a situation where Intel has a choice: does it launch Coppermine at 600MHz and then phase in the faster 667MHz and 733MHz parts, or should it go for 733MHz from September? Going for 733MHz from day one would put Intel so far ahead it would leave AMD in a very tricky position in matching Chipzilla for raw speed – so tricky it just might be the final straw that breaks the AMD camel’s back. Your call, Chipzilla… ®
Pete Sherriff, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Atlantic PCs resurface with new owner

The Atlantic PC brand is to be resurrected by Midlands-based Sight & Sound Computers. Atlantic PC Systems, the line once sold by recently liquidated distributor Memsolve, was bought by the UK company earlier this month. Sight & Sound, owners of the SSC computer brand, said this week it expected the move to push the SSC group into the top 15 PC manufacturers in the UK. Nick Smith, SSC group MD, described Atlantic as "a good company that has been badly handled". He believed that with a strong name behind it, Atlantic would soon be brought back to life. "Atlantic has gone through a hard time, but it still has strong brand awareness. We have succeeded with the SCC brand -- we now ship 3000 units per month. Atlantic had slipped to only 500 shipments per month, but we believe we can bring that to 1000 units in three months' time, and over 2000 by the end of the year," he said. The Atlantic factory is based in Wales with 110 employees. The acquisition boosts Sight and Sound’s headcount to 158 in the UK. The desktop PC and notebook manufacturer is based in Bromsgrove near the M42, with offices in Birmingham and London. Smith declined to detail the price paid for Atlantic -– which keeps an 'Intel only' model -- but commented Sight & Sound had secured "a good deal". ®
Linda Harrison, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Sonix-founder Jones resurfaces on Web

Bob Jones, the man who gave Sonix Communications to the world, has set up a company which plans to make the Internet as easy to use as the humble telephone. Equiinet has been backed with a £5 million venture capital injection from Schroder Ventures, which has backed Jones when he set up Sonix in 1992 with £2.1 million. He sold Sonix in 1995 to 3Com for $70 million. Small wonder then, that Schroders was happy to help out again. Jones’ latest foray into the IT world has launched an Internet access box, the NetPilot – “a one-box solution that works for data in a very similar way to PABX,” the company literature says. The thinking behind Equiinet’s offering is that businesses need Internet access that is a straight-forward as using the telephone. The NetPilot logs Web use and monitors what staff are looking at, allowing much the same control as a company has over its telephone exchange. It does, however, fly in the face of the much-hyped voice-over IP technology. Voice and data are unlikely to converge in the near future because of inherent reliability issues, according to Equiinet. In a press statement, Equiinet says: “With voice communications, people expect high performance and their tolerance of failures or poor quality is low. While there is a lot of talk about data and voice convergence, Equiinet believes the risk of compromising the performance of telephony equipment means it is inappropriate – at least for now.” Jones does not dismiss voice-over IP altogether though. “I’m actually a big fan,” he said. “I just don’t believe that the technology is there yet and for many businesses it’s an approach that is just too radical at the moment.” Jones will be the chairman of Equiinet. He is also deputy chairman of Datatec, the South African IT giant. ®
Sean Fleming, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Future Xeon roadmap revealed

The Pentium Xeon platform is to overtake PIII in the performance stakes for the first time. The high-end, high-priced Pentium III Xeon will overtake its little brother in MHz terms in September. The two ranges have always matched each other evenly since the launch of the original Pentium II Xeon last year, but now the Slot 2 chip is set to carry the performance banner alone. And if early reports from Intel insiders are to be believed, Coppermine is yielding so well that it could conceivably launch at 733MHz. (See story: Coppermine could finish AMD off for good) But at the moment, the plan is that the first Coppermine Pentium III will appear at 600MHz , while Xeon will hit 667MHz. Both parts will feature 256K on-die L2 cache. Prices (1K quantities) are expected to be something like this: The desktop part is expected to hit 667MHz sometime in Q4. Notice that the cache sizes are the dominant factor in the Xeon pricing model, so that if Coppermine launches higher than 667MHz, the price will remain pretty much the same. On die caches larger than 256K are in the pipeline - watch this space. ®
Pete Sherriff, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

MS sued over Win CE patent clash

Updated Microsoft has been sued by a US inventor who claims the company infringed patents he owns which cover the entry of handwritten data into a computer using an "electronic pen". The suit also targets Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Casio and Sharp, which inventor Mitchell Forcier belives Microsoft sold its allegedly patent-infringing to. Forcier's patents were filed in 1993 and centre on the use of so-called electronic ink to input data into a computer. Electronic ink is essentially a bitmap generated from the movement of the stylus. The bitmap can then be analysed and converted into Ascii text. That's how devices like Apple's Newton MessagePad and, to an extent, Palm's eponymous line of handhelds work, but it's curious neither company is named in Forcier's suit. Forcier claims he developed this approach for a former employer, Aha! Software. The company then sold the technology on to Microsoft -- violating a confidentiality agreement, says Forcier -- which dsitributed it to the other named parties in turn. All five firms offer Windows CE-based machines, so it must be that OS' data entry system that Forcier has in mind. Ironically, Sharp was a Newton OS licensee before it switched to Windows CE. What makes CE different from other pen-based systems remains to be seen. The suit demands all five companies cough up damages to cover lost profits and royalty payments Forcier claims he should have received. It alse requests the companies cease to use his invention. Update Microsoft acquired Aha! Software back in 1996, clearly to get hold of its electronic ink recognition technology: "Aha! has come up with a very innovative way to deal with the handwriting recognition problem by manipulating handwriting in its ink form as though it were actual computer text," said Microsoft VP Paul Maritz at the time. Aha! was formed in 1991. At the time of the Microsoft acquisition, it had developed what it called SmartInk, which "overcomes handwriting-recognition obstacles by enabling people to edit their original ink handwriting in the same manner that they edit text with a word processor", according to company releases of the period. Microsoft used SmartInk to form the basis of the InkWriter application that ships with the palmtop-oriented version of CE. What's most important is that back in 1996, SmartInk was described as "patent pending". Clearly the company filed its own patent on the technology at roughly the same time Forcier did himself. It's fairly common practice for companies to file patents on behalf of staff. If that's the case here, Forcier must have believed he took ownership of the SmartInk patents when Aha! ceased to exist as an entity in its own right. Microsoft's case is likely to centre, then, on Aha!'s ownership of the patents, which, through the acquisition, it now owns and can do with as it sees fit. The Register would be the first to admit it's a bit weak on US patent ownership law, and we'd be glad to hear from anyone who has an idea of how it works. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

CHS and CA to form cosy little bundles

The UK will pilot a software and hardware bundle from CHS Electronics and Computer Associates in an agreement announced today. Computer Associates’ IT management software solutions will be parcelled with server, desktop and storage products distributed by CHS in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. It will start in the UK in June, backed up by a CHS reseller marketing campaign. Peter Rigby, CHS group marketing director, said the scheme would later be expanded into Europe. Computer Associates said the agreement would boost its own product penetration, especially in European business markets. CHS will promote Computer Associates as the preferred supplier of enterprise management software to its resellers. Products include NetworkIT, InoculateIT, AimIT, ShipIT and ControlIT. ®
Linda Harrison, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Siemens to repay UK grant

Siemens has been ordered to repay £18 million of UK taxpayers' money used to build its now defunct Tyneside chip plant. The German manufacturer yesterday received an invoice for the return of the central government grant, which it has enjoyed interest free since 1996. Stephen Byers, the Trade and Industry Secretary, said Siemens had failed to meet conditions laid down at the time, according to reports in today's Daily Telegraph. Byers told the Commons the £18 million would go towards grants to attract other investment to the area. His own Tyneside North constituency is near the plant. The factory at Wallsend closed last year and over 1000 people lost their jobs. Siemens said it had always indicated that it would repay the cash should it be requested. The demand coincided with news that Siemens would open a joint chip venture with IBM in France. And the government found itself again accused of driving the company out of the country via the high exchange rate and increased costs in the UK. When Siemens first announced the Tyneside plant’s closure, ministers blamed a world chip slump, not government policy. Yesterday saw John Redwood, shadow industry secretary, accuse ministers of trying to suppress the truth. Last year, fears were raised that the real reasons for Siemens singling out the UK factory for closure were connected to reluctance to join the Euro in the early stages. Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is, however, better known for its anti-Euro stance. Redwood went on to describe the factory in France as "an insult to the people of Tyneside." In its defence, the company said it had failed to find a similar joint venture partner in the UK. ®
Linda Harrison, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft, AOL enter MediaOne bidding war

AOL and Microsoft have separately chucked their corporate hats into the MediaOne takeover ring, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Confidentiality agreements have been signed with MediaOne and approved by Comcast, the first company to bid for the US cable TV service. That bid was subsequently topped by AT&T. Curiously, the WSJ claims the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is involved in the takeover, but for Comcast rather than the Great Satan of Software. ®
Team Register, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

MSN vanishes off face of Cyberspace

MSN, Microsoft's erstwhile flagship Internet service, goes from worse to damn near unusable, reports Pete Sherriff. Regular contributors to The Register, tempted no doubt by MSN's free accounts for journalists offer, are finding it increasingly impossible to file anything other than their nails as they wait in vain for MSN to send or receive mails. Sometimes you can send but not receive. Sometimes you can receive but not send. Sometimes you need a stiff drink. Could this possibly be a damnably clever marketing move to make everyone so cheesed off with MSN that they simply won't care when and if Microsoft pulls the plug? Answers, please on a postcard, because email to our MSN accounts sure as Hell won't get here. ® Peter Sherriff is a regular contributor to The Register
Pete Sherriff, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD spams Mike Magee

A simple mistake by the PR company which represents AMD in Europe has led to enraged journalists wondering why a press release was issued by Mike Magee. The press release, which was something to do with home networking, was sent to several hundred journalists in the UK and Europe but with the email address of The Register's Mike Magee in the FROM field. Peter Kirwan, until recently the editor of influential British computing newspaper Computing emailed Magee, saying: "Mike, I didn't realise you'd gone into PR." And Richard Barry, online editor of ZD Net UK, said: "You sent me a mail from AMD." Other journalists responded in a similar vein. When contacted, Pierre Braude Associates offered no apology, initially. It said it was a mistake in the Compuserve software it uses. Later on in the day, a representative for PBA said: "We apologise for this. It was a fluke and we don't know how it happened. We are changing our provider straight away." ®
Anna Llypsis, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel on target for Merced – unofficial

Sources extremely close to Intel's plans at Compaq said that engineers have until May 27th to tape out the piece. Said the insider: "Many a false deadline has come and gone but a May 27 Merced tapeout has been chiselled in stone or etched in silicon at Intel." The Compaq insider, who does not wish to be named, said: "If this date is not met, heads will roll." Intel, he said, has faithfully promised its partner Microsoft it will deliver real Merced boxes before the end of June. First samples will be within two to three weeks after tapeout and that will be followed by power-on a week later and Win64 boot a week after that. He added: "Hope springs eternal this deadline will be reached. Rolling heads are not a happy sight." ®
Mike Magee, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Mirror Group launches free Net service

UK tabloid publisher Mirror Group today launched its promised free Internet access service. Dubbed ic24, the scheme was announced earlier this month to spoil the launch of a similar service by the Group's arch-rival, News Corp.'s tabloid, The Sun (see UK tabloid papers launch Web access for the masses). ic24 centres on a news-oriented portal site and offers an online betting service and links to BOL (Books Online), the e-commerce company that hopes to compete with Amazon.com. Interestingly, BOL's advertising highlights its Britishness -- ironic, given it is owned by German media giant Bertelsmann. The connection between the companies is also surprising given The Mirror's apparent fondness for anti-German headlines during international soccer tournaments. This could explain why BOL today announced that it "has teamed up with News International's new ISP, CurrantBun.com, to offer CurrantBun customers limited period discounts of up to 70 per cent off special titles", part of an "exclusive long-term relationship" between the two companies. The Mirror Group, meanwhile, claimed 50,000 readers had pre-registered for its service, which runs off a CD-ROM and provides news, sport and TV listings. Mirror Group CEO John Allwood claimed the launch of ic24 builds upon the Group's Mirror and Independent newspaper-based Web sites combine to form "the fifth most popular Internet destination in the UK", with 22 million page views per month. However, a swift check of the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Web site revealed the complete absence of Mirror Group sites from its official Top Ten UK sites listing, so you'll just have to take the Group's word for it, apparently. The Mirror Group's move follows The Sun's launch of its free Net access service and accompanying Web site Currantbun, Mockney rhyming slang for the paper's name, earlier this month. ®
Tony Smith, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

Victims wanted – have you been violated?

The author of the CIH virus has confessed to his heinous crime, but cannot be prosecuted until victims come forward. Chen Ing-hau admitted he was guilty of masterminding the virus after Taiwanese police caught him red-handed with the same initials as the bug. Doh! CIH disabled PC systems worldwide earlier this week. The culprit is now serving mandatory military service, but cannot be charged as no local plaintiffs have come forward, according to online news font ZDNet. A Taipei police representative said: "He’s not a criminal here as long as no one registers a complaint. All we know about problems with the virus is what we’ve seen in foreign news reports.” If any victims should come forward, the 24-year-old creator of the Chernobyl virus could find himself facing a maximum three-year prison term. Not the sort of organisation to see a hardened criminal out on the streets, The Register contacted anti-virus company DataFellows. The Finnish bug-busters came up with the goods, saying they knew of thousands of victims in Taiwan. Jason Holloway, DataFellows UK country manager, said: "We would be happy to help the police in this matter." If you’re reading this Officer Dibble, DataFellows can be contacted on: 01223 257747. Book ‘im Danno. ®
Linda Harrison, 30 Apr 1999
The Register breaking news

The Register offers PC cleaning tips

There's an awful lot of rubbish spouted about keeping one's peripherals clean. At The Register, we take a rather more relaxed view of hardware care. If it breaks, we simply ask the supplier to send a replacement PDQ (pretty damn quick), or else. However, our "who cares attitude" has revealed some surprising results. Dirty keyboards? Stick it in the bath and scrub it with a nailbrush. Leave to dry and reconnect. Result? As new performance and no dandruff. Monitor and system unit looking tired? Remove casing and place in dishwasher. Result? Shiny new machine, 100% operational. So forget those expensive hardware upgrades, simply wash and go with the stuff you already have. The Register welcomes reader's hints and tips about keeping things shiny and happy. You know where we live. ®
Pete Sherriff, 30 Apr 1999