27th > May > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Rise roadmap arises

Chip startup company Rise has outlined its roadmap and confirmed it will be producing a Socket 370 form factor, as revealed here earlier this year. (Story: Rise chairman confirms Socket 370 on way) Thanks to Jonathan Hou at FullOn3d for pointing us to the information. Rise said that it has started producing samples of mP6-366 and mP6-333 chips to desktop customers and later on in the year will move to .18 micron process technology using the 100MHz Super 7 bus. For its chips aimed at the sub-$600 desktop market, the schedule is as follows. Sampling: Q2: mP6 333, 366 (.25 micron); Q3: mP6 380, 400 (.18 micron); Q4: mP6 466, Socket 370 (.18 micron). Production: Q1: mP6 233, 266 (.25 micron); Q2: mP6 233, 266 (.25 micron); Q3: mP6 333, 366 (.25 micron); Q4: mP6 380, 400, 433 (.18 micron). Rise also said it will move to two volt versions of its notebook chips swiftly and will chip .18 micron processors later in the year. The mP6II will include 256K L2 cache and support for a tri-level cache architecture supporting a claimed 2,320K system cache. Chip clock speeds for notebooks and mini-notebooks will go up to 466MHz on a .18 micron process technology by Q4 this year. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Proxy servers – entries in

Thanks to the very many readers who have replied to our competition about the ins and outs of proxy servers. (Competition: Do proxy servers disguise huge user base) Over this weekend, we will be collating the answers and will publish the winners early next week. And all very interesting reading it makes, too. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

EU-US talks close to collapse – Web privacy war ensues?

Privacy talks between the US and Europe are close to collapse, according to US sources, and Web database hell could ensue. An EU directive last autumn banned export of personal data covering EU citizens to countries whose standards aren't deemed sufficient by Europe, and this includes the US. Nobody's been busted so far, as the two sides have been in a deep huddle and trying to avoid lighting the touch-paper, but lots of you people (The Register included, unfortunately, but that's another story) out there are currently breaching EU law by holding personal records on EU citizens. If a deal can't be reached, the likelihood of banana- or hormone beef-style escalation will increase. Plenty US, and some non-EU, companies already hold data on EU citizens, and the number of 'offences' will increase vastly as more and more business is conducted on the Web. Any registration of a product with a US company (hello Microsoft), for example, would probably be an offence unless the bare minimum of data was collected. Comments about business partners (checked the fields in the groupware you're using recently?) could also be offences. And if a deal isn't done soon, someone, somewhere, is going to press the button. The noises coming out of the US may however involve a certain amount of spinning. Negotiators are due to meet in Brussels tomorrow with a view to stitching up a deal in time for a US-European summit late next month, and we Europeans can't help noticing that US negotiating teams tend to turn up the volume just before crunch meetings. But it's a sticky one, just the same. The basic dispute is about how privacy is actually protected, rather than whether or not (or to what extent) it should be protected. The EU goes for legislation and the use of agencies to enforce standards, while the US wants to stick with voluntary codes of conduct. Letting industries regulate themselves has of course been the inclination of UK governments for the past 20 years or so, but we suspect this may be connected with why our trains (among other things) don't work. At the moment the US team seems to be digging its heels in, even suggesting that it ought to be OK if companies just made formal commitments to privacy protection principles. This doesn't seem likely to play in Brussels, so failing an extremely dubious fudge, we could be headed for a privacy war. ®
John Lettice, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM ‘dossier’ to detail MS Windows threats

MS on Trial A dossier kept by an IBM executive details threats made by Microsoft, include company OEM head Joachim Kempin, during licensing negotiations between the tow companies. According to a report in today's Wall Street Journal Garry Norris, who ran these negotiations for IBM's PC division from 1995-97, kept a diary - and the Department of Justice has got it. Norris' evidence and the supporting IBM documentation is potentially devastating. So far the DoJ has produced documentation from this period showing that HP, Gateway, Compaq and even faithful old Dell were increasingly hostile to Kempin's activities, but Big Blue has been largely silent. Kempin was however pushing the 'Windows Experience' to PC OEMs, with no exceptions allowed, so IBM will inevitably have received the same treatment. From the PC companies' point of view the Windows Experience was a massive extension of Microsoft's control of what they could and could not do with Windows installations. They lost the ability to produce their own set-up procedures, to get the first bite at licence registration (Microsoft wants to control the numbers) and to do their own deals with ISPs. More recently, some of these restrictions have been rolled back a tad. The Microsoft explanation, as doggedly put forward by Kempin himself in court a couple of months back, is that the company has a right to defend and police its intellectual property, and that letting the OEMs go every which way would result in Windows collapsing in Unix-style splits. The internal Microsoft email traffic of the time tells a somewhat different story; but frankly, friends, life's too short for us to put all the links in. If you want the background click on the link to complete trial coverage at the bottom of this page, then find OEM and Kempin. Or just do a Register site search for Kempin - it's wonderful stuff. The IBM evidence will help explain more of what was going on under the covers as Kempin tightened the screws and the OEMs squealed. According to the WSJ Norris' notes cover the mysterious Market Development Agreements (MDAs) extensively. This is an area well-worth exploring. The MDAs are deep classified deals between Microsoft and individual OEMs, and include discounts and subsidies ostensibly designed to, well, to develop markets, right? But as Kempin said in court, MDA cash was used by Microsoft to compensate OEMs for the cost of switching from their own procedures to the Windows Experience. Kempin insisted nevertheless that they were in breach of their licences if they didn't implement the Windows Experience, and that Microsoft was just being generous in helping them out with cash. People with less integrity than our Joachim would quite possibly use words like 'bribe', 'carrot' and 'stick' at this juncture. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

IE uninstall expert upgrades his program

MS on Trial Edward Felten, the DoJ trial witness who produced a program to demonstrate that IE could be removed from Windows, has upgraded his software after listening to his users. Microsoft, that is. Felten, who will be back on the stand when the trial resumes, said yesterday that he'd been working on the Windows Update feature, and had nailed a couple of error messages which Microsoft had said were misleading during earlier sparring. The online Windows Update routine allows Windows users to upgrade their software via the Web, but requires Internet Explorer. Felten had this working without IE just before his previous court appearance, but Microsoft's Web site mysteriously changed, breaking the feature, just before he was due in court. The full transcript of his earlier deposition is now available, and we'll probably get to that in the next couple of days - the session seems to have been wonderfully acrimonious. On deposition duty again yesterday Felten seems to have found himself covering well-trampled territory. Microsoft attorney Steve Holley bashed away with claims that Felten's program simply hides IE rather than removing it, while Felten retorted that the program was only intended to demonstrate that Microsoft could ship Windows without IE if it wanted to. Felten is of course right, and the amount of IE that can or cannot be removed is related to which DLLs are needed for which functions. Which of course leads us on to querying which DLLs are needed for multiple functions, and why Microsoft has chosen to link them in this way. Basically, have some been glued together arbitrarily as a spurious justification for integration, or does the integration provide real benefits? Expect more sound than light on this one when Felten takes the stand. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Did Compaq and MS try to buy linux.com?

Updated As suggested here earlier, a whole stash of companies either made bids for or expressed interest in linux.com when it came up for sale. A reader directs us to news.com, which reported the matter here when VA Research's bid was accepted. Can't win them all... Apparently the domain owner, Fred van Kempen, had insisted on both money and a business plan for the domain, so sheer cash wouldn't be enough, and VA certainly didn't match the top offer of $5.5 million. The Compaq offer was reportedly made by Digital before the takeover, and the Microsoft offer is denied by Microsoft. But HP and Red Hat were also in the list, while sniffs were received from IBM, Dell and Novell. ®
John Lettice, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Final release of AMD K7 sample spotted

Hardware site The Upgrade Center claims to have seen a final sample of AMD's K7 microprocessor. According to Chris Harrison, the information he has is reliable. The sample is a final release piece graded at 550MHz with half speed cache. It booted at 650MHz but was not stable when the cache was enabled, and is about 25 per cent faster at Lightwave than a similar speed Intel Pentium III chip. It has a front side bus (FSB) setting of 100-250MHz, with 2x-8x multipliers. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Half of users attack their PCs

Updated Eagle-eyed Register readers may have come across this story last Friday. Well, we liked it so much we thought we'd dust it off and re-publish it. Last week this one caused a bot of a stir, when the Spin Doctors behind this story sent it to us a full week ahead of the embargo. Well, we don't do embargoes anyway but here it is again... They make Northerners swear, turn financiers into bullies and make workers in manufacturing feel stupid. The humble PC has a lot to answer for, according to a Mori survey entitled Rage Against The Machine. IT anger cost UK businesses the equivalent of £25,000 per person per year. The research, carried out for Compaq, claims four out of five respondents have seen colleagues vent frustration at their PCs. Out of the 1250 UK workers questioned, more than half had been on the verge of fisticuffs with their IT systems. Here at The Register we have a video clip of someone attacking their PC. If you want to see it, email our editor Sean Fleming. Nearly half felt frustrated or stressed by the amount of time taken to solving IT problems. Swearing at monitors was popular with the quarter of users who suffered daily problems with their machines. Two in five blamed techie jargon for exacerbating the issue. But the research possibly brings out the true characteristics of the sectors interviewed. Public sector workers were most likely to walk away from a problematic machine and refuse to deal with it. 62 per cent of respondents in the North regularly found themselves effing and jeffing at their PCs, and a fifth of those working in the financial services sector admitted bullying their IT manager when things went wrong. The young fared worse than the old, with more than a sixth of under 25-year-olds taking IT aggression out on someone or something else. One in three over the age of 55 blamed themselves for their IT problems. ® See also Users smash up PCs in outbreaks of network rage
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple grabs Gap man

Apple has appointed Millard "Mickey" Drexler, the president and CEO of Gap, inc., to its board of directors. The worried us at first. Would it mean, we wondered, that Apple would drop its multi-colour Mac styling in favour of khaki? Gap owns not only its own stores, but the Banana Republic chain. What does that say about the way 'el presidente' Steve Jobs and the rest of the Apple junta (sorry, the rest of the Apple board) will run the newly revived Mac maker? Still, Drexler does bring some canny consumer marketing expertise to Apple's board, though he's an interesting addition in the light of the company's appointment of Steve Wilhite, the guy who oversaw the Volkswagen's Beetle campaign. And of course, having the head of the Great Satan of Baggy Pants on the board means the Jobs really can say he's no longer all mouth and no trousers... ®
Tony Smith, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

nVidia to drop TNT brandname

nVidia looks set to abandon its successful TNT brand name in favour of something possibly more macho but very likely less well known. The 3D graphics acceleration specialiast's upcoming NV10 chip, due to ship in the autumn, will not be known as the TNT3, as expected, but will be named according to the winner of a competion the company recently held. According to Maximum PC, nVidia had over 8000 "real" suggestions, which the company has now reduced to a short list of 25. Among the favoured names nVidia spokesman Derek Perez released to the magazine include Tsunami, Slick, Predator, Silk and TNL. nVidia said it will announced the new name in just under a month's time. Our vote naturally goes for Vulture. ®
Tony Smith, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Symbian, NTT show broadband ‘concept’ device

Symbian and Japanese wireless giant NTT DoCoMo today demonstrated a 'concept model' wireless communicator based on Symbian's EPOC operating system. The device appears to have been designed with broadband wireless communications in mind, and in addition to standard organiser features is able to send and receive graphics. Symbian is the joint venture company set up by Psion, Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola last year to establish Psion's EPOC32 operating system as the standard for smartphones and communicators. Matsushita bought a stake in Symbian earlier this week, and Sony has been tipped as the next big name to vote for EPOC. The 'concept' device shown yesterday will bear some relation to the next generation Psion machines due for launch shortly (Wireless Psion due this summer?), but will be targeted more at the rollout of broadband wireless services. NTT DoCoMo claims 23.7 million subscribers in Japan, and holds key W-CDMA intellectual property which will be used in third generation wireless systems. Japan will also be going for third generation in advance of most of the rest of the world, so the DoCoMo-Symbian relationship is important. The two companies in March signed a memorandum of understanding to create joint R&D programmes for wireless communications technologies. The product shown today is based on one of Symbian's Device Family Reference Designs, which have been devised to make it simpler for companies to roll-out new products. ®
John Lettice, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

UK abandons key escrow

The UK government has at last set down its policy on encryption software and, as predicted, the announcement yesterday presented a considerably more liberal approach than those taken by previous administrations. Stating that there was no easy way to reconcile the needs of law enforcement agencies to access criminals' data with the public's right to privacy, the government said the only way to balance these opposing factors was through co-operation rather than enforcement. So, out goes key escrow, the requirement that encryption software suppliers maintain 'back-door' access to encrypted data and register that with a centralised key broker. However, companies will be required to disclose a key when presented with a warrant. Such warrants will need to be signed by the Home Secretary, the Foreign Minister and another "senior minister". Previously proposed legislation would have required warrants to be signed only by a senior police officer. Warrants would be issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to allow police access to encrypted data just as they can apply for warrants to enter homes and offices. The difference is that the application for the data-access warrant will be treated as an application to intercept mail or phone traffic -- hence the high level to which the application must go before the warrant is granted. Ministers said the decryption process would be performed by a centralised Technical Assistance Centre once a given police force had obtained a warrant and the key to open the data. Yesterday's announcement followed the formation of a task force combining government, law enforcement agencies and industry to propose legislation that best serves each party's interests. In turn, that is part of the UK government's avowed intent to make Britain one of the best countries to do e-business in. ®
Team Register, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

PR bunny hops on her bike to become African Queen

Fit PR bunny Clare Taylor is swapping one pain in the arse for another after volunteering to spend a week cycling around Africa to raise money for charity. Clare, who works for hi-tech agency Marbles and also rows for Henley-on-Thames, is leaving behind the heady world of spin-doctoring and those pain-in-the-arse journalists for a mountain bike. The super-fit flack will have to ride 50 miles a days along all terrains and in the heat of the Kenyan sun. Any comments that she may have lost her marbles (Marbles, geddit!?!) are totally justified. She'll start off in Nairobi and travel along the floor of the Great Rift Valley climbing over 3000ft to the plains of Naivasha and Nkuru National Parks before returning to Kenya's capital city. The ride is being organised by the Norwood Ravenswood Trust, a registered national charity that does great work helping children with Downs Syndrome. The Register is lending its support to the sponsored bike ride by offering to help soothe Clare's saddle-sore areas on her return. We may even part with some cash, stranger things have been known to happen at Vulture Central. If you want to help, you can pledge a donation by e-mailing Clare. "Although the route is demanding, I'm sure I'll enjoy every minute of it -- apart from the day when we climb 3000ft in one go," she said. Clare, from posh Henley-on-Thames, scotched rumours that she would be riding side-saddle. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Consumer PC spending hits peak

Report Expect tough times ahead, very tough times -- that's the warning a new report from market researcher Forrester Research has in store for PC vendors. Forrester prediction runs along these lines. Right now things are good, because although prices are falling fast, more and more consumers are buying their first PC to get online, and existing owners are upgrading and picking up extra machines for other family members. These kinds of buyers will this year drive a 17 per cent increase in shipments over 1998's figures, Forrester predicts. That said, revenue will grow only 2.1 per cent as PC prices continue to fall. Come 2000, consumer spending on PCs will begin to fall as new consumer electronics kit comes on stream to vie for household income. Forrester points to digital music players and intelligent set-top boxes, but you can add DVD recorders, next-generation games consoles and wireless personal digital assistants to the list. The upshot, says Forrester, will be a mountain of unsold Pentium III boxes and average selling prices 13 per cent lower than they were last year. So many homes will own PCs that are less than three years old, that most consumers will shift spending away from computers toward other devices. Still, there should be enough business out there willing to snap them up, assuming, of course, they're not all spent-out, post Y2K. The researcher's recommendation is essentially that PC vendors need to realise that consumers are buying PCs primarily for Internet access rather than for more traditional personal productivity applications. That means figuring out ways of cutting costs to make PCs competitive with cheaper Net access devices like set-tops and games consoles -- the boxes from Sega, Nintendo and Sony will all ship with some form of Internet access. In short, they need to do what Apple has been doing with the iMac -- produce consumer-friendly boxes that major on making Internet access quick and easy. Apple's own data suggests that over 80 per cent of iMac buyers are using the machine for Internet access. The Forrester report also notes a shift in power away from Intel and Microsoft toward Internet portals like Yahoo and Lycos, and AOL. The first two will lose out as falling hardware prices force PC vendors to seek out cheaper components while at the same time opting for cheaper system software -- you don't need a complex OS designed to host productivity applications when your box will only be used to access the Net, or so the theory goes. The report suggests PC vendors will need to expand beyond PCs to begin selling consumer electronics kit. Given that's what Dell, Compaq and Gateway are already doing, through various acquisitions of ecommerce companies, you wonder if Forrester is trying to predict what's already happening rather than make recommendations about how to survive once the consumer boom has peaked. Still, what the report does say is that that boom will peak, and it's going to happen real soon. You have been warned. ®
Tony Smith, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Call centre company gets £2m boost

Independent consultancy, CallCentric will create 200 jobs in Britain after a £2 million investment from venture capital company 3i. The jobs, due by the end of the year, will form part of the expansion of CallCentric’s European call centre business. The Windsor-based company said the call centre industry currently employs two per cent of the UK workforce. Its growth rate of 30 per cent was creating over 100,000 jobs annually in Europe. CallCentric is a call centre consultancy advising businesses on technology and operation. David Berger, CallCentric MD, said: "Call centres are forming the backbone of UK economic prosperity and are the hotbed for technological innovation. "As ecommerce increases, so too will the need to integrate call centres to support e-business." CallCentric’s customers include Lloyds TSB, Credit Suisse and Latvia Telecomm. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

UK firms close technology gap on US

The UK is catching up with the US when it comes to the use of technology, an official UK government report has confirmed. The number of UK companies with Web sites has doubled and electronic trade has tripled in just two years, according to the report, published yesterday by the Department of Trade and Industry. And according to the annual Benchmarking Study from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) an extra 250,000 businesses are now networked compared to a couple of years ago. The upshot is that the UK has all but closed the gap with the US when it comes to the business use of IT. "The government is committed to developing the UK as the best place in the world for businesses wishing to trade electronically and UK business are taking up the challenge to make this a reality," said Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers. "The explosion in the use of networking technology by British business is great news for the UK. "The Internet is rapidly becoming a business tool as unexceptional as the telephone," he said. But he warned against complacency saying that while large and medium firms are at or near world-class levels, small and micro firms lag way behind their international competitors. He also said that while the UK is still ahead of France and Italy, very rapid growth in Germany over the last year has almost put it on a par with the UK. So, Germany loses out to the UK again. Just like last night in Barcelona with Manchester Utd's thrilling last-gasp 2-1 win over Bayern Munich to lift the European Cup and secure a historical treble. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Lloyds Bank loses customers’ cash at Bank Holiday

Lloyds Bank has said there will be no repeat of last Bank Holiday’s fiasco with its Web banking. During the last bank holiday weekend, Lloyd’s Internet banking service lost thousands of customer transactions. Some of the cash transferred out of accounts is still lurking in Lloyd’s internal system. Famous for being the bank with the sign of the black horse, Lloyds is now in danger of becoming the bank with the sign of the black hole - in your account. One Lloyds Online customer told The Times he paid credit card bills totalling £2,000 on 1 May. The money was debited from his account, but has still not reached his credit card companies. This was just one example of more than 1,500 transactions that were not completed over the bank holiday weekend three weeks ago. The high street bank blamed an internal technical error and launched an investigation. A Lloyd’s representative told The Register the Internet system did not know that Bank Holiday Monday was not an accounting day, and payments went astray internally. "We are working with the customers to make sure that the payments get where they are meant to be. All our customers will be fully reimbursed of any costs," he said. "The fault has been sorted out and there will not be a problem this bank holiday." Learning that a major high street bank’s IT systems can’t figure out its bank holidays from its bought ledgers doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in what will happen come the year 2000. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Hog Tied at Making Markets over Harley competition

Making Markets, the pride of Staines, launched a competition last year giving away its MD’s Harley Davidson. Those of you who got one of the scratchcards may be interested to know the name of the winner of this mother of all motorbikes. At The Register, we can reveal that the only winner was the MD himself, George Evans. At the time, ex-Datrontech employee Evans promised every reseller in the channel the chance to ride off on his dream machine. No, we’re still talking about the Harley! But no one found the lucky scratchcard, so Evans got to keep his beloved Harley – a present from his girlfriend. Several of the other, less expensive, prizes were won. Several lucky punters picked up polo shirts or handheld organisers, a source close to Making Markets tells us. But the phantom scratchcard - which could win the Harley - was never discovered. Meanwhile, Making Markets raked in loads of publicity and resellers for its on-line product, Send IT Now. Tens of thousands of these cards were distributed at the Computer Trade Show in Birmingham, or mailed out late last year. So have a rummage in the filing cabinet, and if you find the little blighter, make sure you take Evans’ advice and Send IT Now. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Ingram BUM presents a new face to the channel

Ingram Micro announced major changes to its UK business this week - again. This time the changes come with a curious twist. Ingram is getting its hands on something called the new BUM, or Business Unit Model. We are given to understand it will revolutionise the distributor into a more streamlined organisation, boosting customer service levels, etc, etc. The UK BUM will address three sectors – commercial, retail and solutions - headed by Terry Martin, Matt Spencer and Simon Aldous respectively. Presumably three old farts. Other departments will fall into one of these categories. The scheme will start in June. Earlier this month, Ingram warned it would raise prices in the US to pay for restructuring and channel improvements. This was followed by the swift exit of UK MD Sandy Scott, and appointment of his replacement Meinie Oldersma. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Pressure mounts for BT to come clean over free calls

BTInternet is under growing pressure to come clean about its proposals to introduce toll-free 0800 access to the Internet. The renewed calls for an official statement come after a number of complaints from Net users who allege that the ISP has reneged on its free calls offer. Suffolk Trading Standards has confirmed that it has received a complaint although it would not disclose any details. Sources claim the complaint was from a disgruntled Net user who signed up for the 0800 service yesterday, but was told today that the offer was no longer available. The Register also received a similar complaint today following reports yesterday that BTInternet is to introduce limited toll-free access from 5 June. A spokesman for Suffolk Trading Standards said: "I can confirm that we have had a complaint. "I cannot comment further but we are looking into it," she said. Oftel has also received complaints from hoards of Net users who are in a tizzy about exactly what is going on. That makes millions of us… ®
Tim Richardson, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwan evades US sanctions

Taiwanese chip company Vanguard, reeling from a US decision earlier this week which imposed swingeing sanctions, has come up with a cunning plan to avoid further Micron suits. But, in the process, the European Union could be hit by the US trade department. According to sources close to Vanguard Taipei, the company will ship its production to Europe, to avoid the American tariffs. This could lead to a reprise of the so-called Banana War. The European Union and the USA are currently disputing beef tariffs. Three weeks ago, the EU disappointed Caribbean states, including Jamaica and Trinidad, by bowing down to US dictats. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Hardware IA-32 kludge put in Merced, whatever…

Once we had figured out what Intel was up to, it did not take very long for us to put two and two together. Slide number 14 on the HP presentation of IA-64 technology clearly demonstrates that if you've got 32 bit applications, they're not going to run much faster. It's a hardware kludge. So Intel has a definite agendum and it wants all those 32-bit applications to be ported to the Merced/McKinley platforms. McKinley will be twice as fast at 1500MHz and it's a mountain, funded by HP, gig time. We apologise to those clever readers that had noticed this already. Never mind the mountaineers rescued from Mt McKinley last week. Being this kind of hack is almost impossible for old geezers like most of us are here... That's why, after all, Intel set up the IA-64 fund, and is keen to get developers to port their apps. But it's not a simple thing to port apps, and, after all, Merced has slipped. Surely Intel should pay people to kludge up their 32-bit apps. And as the take on Merced now seems to be that it will start at a 750MHz clock speed, why should software developers do their thing for the much faster .13 micron Willamette thing? I think we and the rest of the world should be told. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Letter proves BT knew how many customers it would lose to LocalTel

BT’s claims that it had no idea how popular rival service LocalTel would be have been brought into question. The Register has obtained evidence that BT knew all about LocalTel's proposals to offer toll-free access to the Internet and how many people it expected would take up the offer. BT claims it was kept in the dark about the figures and had no idea about the size and scale of how many people would leave BT for LocalTel. That's why it claims only 250 applications a day have been processed so far leaving many people angry and frustrated that BT has been dragging its heels. Yet The Register can confirm that solicitors representing LocalTel sent a letter to BT Group Legal Services in London on Friday 23 April -- a week before the service was launched officially. In it, LocalTel informed BT exactly when it was launching its service and that it expected between 2,000 and 2,5000 people a day would request to have their phone bills transferred to LocalTel. BT has been told by telecomms watchdog Oftel to sort things out -- and fast -- and a BT executive has been quoted as saying that their sluggish approach is simply "unacceptable". ® Full text of letter below: Date: 23 April 1999-05-26 Mr D. Shawley BT Group Legal Services BT Centre 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ Dear Mr Shawley BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC (“BT”) and LOCALTEL LIMITED (“LOCALTEL”) I refer to my letter of 21 April with regard to the above and the Calls and Access Service. Although I am still awaiting your response to the matters raised in my letter of 15 March, my client has asked me to advise you that as of Saturday 1 May 1999, it is anticipated that LocalTel will be submitting to BT, on behalf of LocalTel’s new customers, in the region of 2,000 to 2,500 telephone service transfer requests per day. As indicated in your letter of 12 March and as confirmed on page 5 of the Calls and Access product description, BT have agreed to transfer these lines after seven working days, whilst you will recall that BT have verbally confirmed to LocalTel that notwithstanding the provisions of the Calls and Access conditions, upon receipt of these change orders BT will effect these changes and transfer the relevant telephone lines within eight days. Whilst I am sure that BT have anticipated and made provision for the expected daily volume referred to above, the purpose of this letter is to provide you with further advance notice so as to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place in readiness for next weekend and thereafter. Yours sincerely, Steven Bernstein Cc Mr D Martin – LocalTel Limited
Tim Richardson, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

June 11 sweet spot for ex-Dec execs

Information we have received, sub-Rosa, says for a fact that on June 11 senior DEC staff will leave with huge redundancy payments. According to many insiders at DEC, sorry Compaq, the payoffs will be very high. One DEC (sorry Compaq) insider told us: "June 11 is the last day that category two and category three vice presidents can quit to automatically get their packages from the takeover." Another insider told The Register what that statement meant. She said that Compaq, despite taking over DEC, could not take over employer terms and conditions (Ts&Cs). In fact, Compaq is bound by law to honour those Ts&Cs. "That they're leaving after they stayed the full year is a sign that if you offer someone making $150,000 per year is a lump sum. Thank you very much." Perhaps she was embittered. But another source at Compaq-DEC upped the ante by saying that Ben Rosen, CEO of the hardware firm in Houston, had insisted VPs based in New England moved to Houston. That was not an option for most, he said. "Most of these guys are in their 50s and have been with Digital in New England for ten plus years. They have wives, kids and mistresses and none of them were up for a move." Two weeks ago, Paul Otellini, a senior VP at Intel in Santa Clara said he would not move to Houston either, even if he was offered the job. He suggested that perhaps Oracle's Ray Lane should take up the baton. ®
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

McNealy becomes shrinking UltraViolet III

We won't say anymore than to direct you to Sun's Scott McNealy and his US-III, next to his teeth.
Mike Magee, 27 May 1999
The Register breaking news

The email of the species is more deadly than the male

Forget bra burning, the latest feminist revolution is taking place in cyberspace. Over 96 million members of the fairer sex will be online by 2001. This will account for 45 per cent of worldwide Web users, according to research by Computer Economics. In the US, more women than men will be using the Internet – accounting for 52 per cent - within two years. "Although in some areas, such as Africa and the Middle East, the percentage of women online will remain very low, in other areas with larger numbers of users, women will make significant gains on men," said Michael Erbschloe, Computer Economics V.P. "In fact, in North America where the largest number of Internet users are concentrated, the number of women online will surpass that of men." The California research company found European Web users would be 40 per cent women. The lowest percentage of female users will remain the Middle East, where 85 per cent of those logging on will be men. It seems the revolution has already taken place in some areas. A Yahoo!.com search on the word "women" came up with 10,823 Web sites. "Men" only came back with a flacid 6,116. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 May 1999