21st > June > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

MS Death List II – enemies scheme was live

MS on Trial Our report of Microsoft's 'friends and enemies list' last week (See story) was uncharacteristically favourable to Microsoft, according to Bristol Software. Microsoft has shrugged-off the list, which suggests treating software companies differently depending on who's side they're on, as the work of a new staffer, and something that was never implemented. Wrong and wrong, says Bristol. "The terminology was created by Dan Neault, who has been with Microsoft since 1995, and is a director," says a Bristol spokeswoman. "The programme was implemented, and Microsoft VP Bob Muglia sent an email to Bill Gates saying that the programme was being successful (in keeping people from using Java). Neault testified that Bill Gates approved the programme." The list first surfaced in the Bristol trial, and the transcripts support this interpretation. It also popped up briefly in the DoJ trial last week. Here, Neault explains his use of the expression friend, enemy of neutral: "It's a rather clumsy way to articulate it. One that we made smarter when we made this a littlee bit more formal. That was a carry-over from my days at Boeing doing military analysis where they do identify friend, foe or neutral [you can put your own gag in here if you like] ... what it was doing is setting the bar for how carefully we looked at a request for a waiver [of a licence fee]." So clearly the early concept as put forward by Neault envisaged linkage between Microsoft helping software developers by giving them waivers and the developers supporting Microsoft aims and objectives. The plan was modified, he explained under questioning from Microsoft's lawyer, because it was too broad, "a company wouldn't necessarily be a foe or hostile... so I should say really in this product are they trying to use our intellectual property against us." This didn't work entirely either, as he said even apparent friends could fail this test. Now, Bill's involvement. The waiver programme "was approved at a higher level than Bob [Muglia]." A memo from Muglia to Gates produced at the trial says: "This week I approved an agreement with Mainsoft," and Neault says: "The idea of the waiver had received Bill Gates' approval." And here's Muglia reporting to Gates: "We're making progress with enterprise ISVs who were thinking Java to get cross-platform, cutting the royalties upon MS... review to Mainsoft has had the intended effect." Wriggling somewhat, Neault is then forced to answer that slowing up Java adoption was one of the effects of the waiver programme. And here's how it goes when you've become a firm MS ally, like Mainsoft. Muglia again: "Now I think it may not be necessary to further anoint MainSoft and, in fact, it wouldn't hurt to give them a little competition. We are close to settling our differences with Bristol, and assuming these can be resolved, I'm inclined to give them similar rights to cut royalties and put MainSoft and Bristol in competition with each other." This took place in February 1998, almost three years into the 'junior' executive's career at Microsoft. Sounds pretty much like a friends and enemies list in operation, doesn't it? ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

IE5 installation kills-off NT remote update service

A network administrator for a major US bank has drawn our attention to a serious (for him, at least) breakage of NT caused by Internet Explorer 5.0. In summary it would appear that Microsoft integration/proprietorisation via IE 5 disables a highly useful open systems(ish) routine, the Schedule service. This ships with NT, and in the equivalent of the Unix cron service. "We use it extensively at our company to deploy updates and perform functions. We run it under special user account so that it can access network resources." But if you upgrade to IE 5, Schedule is replaced by Task Scheduler, one of those little extras Microsoft adds to its software, and this only runs as a system service, and can't be changed to a user account. So blap, no more update deployment automation for our bank. Our informant continues: "But here's the weird part: If you look at the Services applet in Control Panel, you see "Task Scheduler" in the list. Schedule is gone. But if you go into the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services you see that the Schedule entry is still there... just changed. It now runs MsTask.exe instead of the faithful AtSvc.exe. But wait.. it gets better. The two services don't play nicely together. If you have MsTask you cannot schedule events on any machines that have AtSvc. So... even though all my servers have AtSvc, I can't send jobs out to them from my IE5 'enabled' computer. "What the hell does this have to do with a web browser that isn't part of the OS? [ahem …] Why didn't they just add a new service entry and leave the decent scheduler in its place?" Task Scheduler isn't listed as an option for select or deselect during the install process, so he checked the IE 5 installation files, and found that its installation is a requirement, you can't get round it. "Essentially, this gives MS the ability to hook your OS and schedule jobs whenever it wants. This totally sucks." You can see why this is happening, because in the longer term the browser is integrated in Win2k, and the scheduling processes will be hooked into the grand MS schemes for remote management and update scheduling. But that's not much comfort for NT shops whose mechanisms for getting around Microsoft's shortcomings now have been broken by IE 5. Today you can use the add/remove applet to uninstall the feature on individual machines after it's been installed. Our network manager again: "So what do I do? Deploy 10,000 machines with IE5 and then manually visit them in four states to uninstall the Task Scheduler? Oooooooh... I know... I'll use the Schedule services to do it for me..." ®
The Register breaking news

AMD K7 advertised in US Computer Shopper

Our friends over in the US, in particularl at JC, have noticed that Sys is advertising a $4,000 K7 system running at 800MHz and apparently using some kind of cooling technique. That has led other friends, in particular Jonathan Hou at Fullon3D, to speculate about the price of the K7 by breaking down the spex of this machine. Doing so, the price breaks down to around $750 for a 600MHz part, according to Jonathan. The advert is on page 165 of Computer Shopper US. As the cognoscenti are aware, the UK Computer Shopper is a different beast and is owned by one Felix Dennis. We only see US Computer Shopper when we're in the States but expect to see a K7 system pop up real soon now on a Akihabara site... ®
The Register breaking news

Merced deader than MontyPythonParrot?

It really would be a good thing for Intel and its customers if the company would come clean ever so soon now and quash speculation on its Merced processor. Chat on message boards, including Silicon Investor is raising temperatures round the world and some Intel cooling technology could well be in, rather than out of order. According to the latest Scuttleboat on this board and from other sources, Intel is still working every hour God sends to get the thing to tape out, so it can deliver samples to its sundry waiting world. And other speculation is now circulating that the IA-64 processor has big problems and there are many months to come before the beast samples. Now, Intel spin paramedics have insisted to us since the very beginning of this year that Merced is still firmly on target to sample mid-year, and will ship in Q2, 2000. Isn't it about time the super-suits at Santa Clara decided this was getting to be a bit of an Andy Grove inflexion point and give us a clear and unambiguous idea? We'll ask them later on today. ®
The Register breaking news

Intergraph CEO claims Intel “grossly misrepresented” facts

A year ago Posted 22 June 1998 -- a year ago A war of words between Intergraph and Intel has escalated after the chip giant filed a counter suit in Alabama last week. Jim Meadlock, CEO of Intergraph, which is cited by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with Compaq and Digital in antitrust allegations against Intel, was also responding to a request for a summary injunction it made in the same court. He hit out at Intel for attempting to delay the legal process. Meadlock's company is separately suing Intel for anti-competitive behaviour, patent infringement and alleged antitrust violations. He said: "Intel's motion for a summary judgement mistakenly implied that there is no need for a trial on Intergraph's parents. It reflects Intel's orchestrated efforts to obscure the facts, distract attention away from the core issues surrounding Intergraph's case, and delay the legal proceedings." He revealed that Judge Edwin Nelson, who presides over a district course in Alabama, denied Intel's request to stay the prosecution of his company's patent infringement claims, and also set a date for the hearing. But that hearing will not begin until the middle of February, in the year 2000. Judge Nelson said that he has set aside five weeks for the trial. The judge added that the preliminary injunction he granted Intergraph on 10 April last still stands. Meadlock hit out at Intel's claims that when it bought Fairchild technology from National Semiconductor it also inherited cross licence agreements. He said: "Intel is grossly misrepresenting the facts surrounding its licensing agreement with National Semiconductor by selectively quoting portions of the agreement. Moreover, Intel has asked the court to seal their licensing agreement with National Semiconductor from public view, thus keeping the complete facts from the public." He claimed that Intergraph bought the Clipper chip directly from Fairchild in 1987, which was before NatSemi bought Fairchild. That meant, he said, that Intel had no cross licence agreement with Fairchild, when it bought the Clipper patents. He added: "Most importantly, Intergraph's case isn't just about patent infringement. It's about Intel's wilful and unconscionable anti-competitive behaviour that threatened to put Intergraph out of business in its efforts to access Intergraph's patents royalty free. Intergraph has a strong case and we're confident that we'll prevail." He claimed that Intel did not raise its cross licensing defence until after Intergraph had filed suit against it. "Its a late and baseless claim," said Meadlock. ®
The Register breaking news

Does Coppermine have a crap core?

Problems which Intel admitted with its Coppermine core last week point to the platform giving little performance boost. But sources close at Intel suggest that Willamette, as reported here earlier, is the chip giant's secret weapon. The sources told us earlier today that there cannot be a problem with the .18 micron process itself, so it must be the Coppermine design. Only ten days ago, Intel introduced a .18 micron mobile processor, and as reported here, said it would have three or four fabs running .18 micron by early next year. Allied to that, Intel's problems with Direct Rambus versus the PC-133 and the problem of what to do with the Celeron processor are all conspiring to give Santa Clara a big headache. He said: "You remember how when the Pentium III was launched, it offered little performance boost to the Pentium II. Intel is doing the same with Coppermine and merely tweaking the core." According to him, Intel is delaying Coppermine all the better to unleash secret weapon Willamette with all that cash. That will have a completely different core, large amounts of on-die cache, and will also command large price premiums. ®
The Register breaking news

Taiwan spans up OEM CD-ROM biz

The local press in the shape of Computex Online is reporting that Japanese manufacturers of CD-ROM devices have transferred the bulk of that business to Taiwan. According to the report, Taiwan is likely to account for over 40 per cent of the CD-ROM business in the near future. Japanese manufacturers are, instead, concentrating on DVD drive manufacturing. That's an area that Taiwan would also dearly love to get its hands on, as reported here. ®
The Register breaking news

Web goes wibbly wobbly over Y2K

Check this one out. If you're running Windows 95, switch to a date in the year 2000 through the control panel. Then go to the Compaq site here to see that we're into the 100th year of the Christian era. Gigabyte is avoiding the problem of the Year 2000 in a different way. If you go to its site here, you'll see it's reporting that today's date is the 21st June, 4000. ®
Author, 21 1999
The Register breaking news

Cash conscious surfers back Freeserve model

Net users in the UK are fickle and think nothing of trading ISPs if they can save a few bob*. That's the conclusion of a new study by Fletcher Research Internet Access Strategies: Freeing the Future. It concluded that Net users have been swift to adopt subscription-free providers while leaving subscription-based services such as AOL, CompuServe and MSN languishing by the wayside. But couldn't the same fickleness and disloyalty expressed by Net users bring down Freeserve? Not according to Neil Bradford, a director at Fletcher Research. "We do not expect any other brand to be able match, let alone overtake, Freeserve’s progress, unless a new business model for delivering access arrives, such as offering free phone calls or free PCs," he said. "In just nine months, the Internet access industry has been revolutionised by the advent of subscription-free providers. "Freeserve’s compelling proposition and aggressive development has built a powerful online brand with a formidable lead in the UK Internet access market," he said. Which all bodes well for the impending sale of Freeserve later this year -- unless, of course, another ISP enters the arena with a new business model that turns the market on its head. * bob n. (sl.; pl. same). Shilling.** ** shilling n. Coin & money of account, equivalent to 12d in old money pre-decimalization. ®
The Register breaking news

Freeserve tops UK ISP hit parade

The study into the UK ISP market by Fletcher Research shows the impact the subscription-free services have had. In only nine months the picture has changed totally. The once mighty AOL has been hit perhaps the hardest, slipping from the No 1 slot down to No 3 in the ISP Hit Parade. Using Fletcher Research’s figures, the full list of who’s who in the ISP market follows, with the corresponding market share shown in brackets. Freeserve (31); BT ClickFree (14); AOL (9); BTInternet (7); CompuServe (7); Virgin Net (7); Demon (5); TescoNet (5); MSN (4); Cable & Wireless (3); CurrantBun.com (3); LineOne (3); X-Stream (3); According to Fletcher, some 12.5 million adults will be online in the UK by the end of 1999. This will rise to almost 20 million by 2003. Most of this growth will come from a rapid growth in the number of home users. Seven million will be online at home at the end of 1999, rising to 13.3 million by 2003. Forty three per cent of home Net users say that price was one of the main reasons for choosing their current ISP. Personal recommendations influenced 23 per cent followed by brand (14 per cent) and quality of access (14 per cent). Forty five per cent of all home Net users have changed service provider at least once since they got Net access. More than 70 per cent of Web users who were online before 1999 have moved from their original service provider. ®
The Register breaking news

European banks slip through the Net

European banks have not grasped the threat of the Internet and risk losing customers unless they shape up, according to a study out today. Today’s report by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) and the Economist Intelligence Unit was based on interviews with over 50 top banking execs. It claims that banks see the Web as "futuristic" and do not understand the dangers of losing out to new rivals. Angus Hislop, senior banking partner at PwC, said US banks had become aware of the threat of cyberbanking after seeing new ventures swipe customers. But their European counterparts were being left behind, blissfully unaware that Web auctions were showing customers the best accounts and savings plans. "They have been slow to realise the speed at which the Internet changes banking for ordinary people. Banks will be able to tailor products for individuals, effectively bringing private banking to everyone," he said. The study did not find one large retail bank that fully understood the scale of change needed, although Barclays has recently launched a campaign to promote its own PC banking services by offering a free ISP package to its customers. "Unless the banks wake up very quickly they are going to lose out," Hislop warned. Brand value, which banks have traditionally spent millions on, paled in significance to fast, convenient and glitch-free banking services. "All the great work done by banks to build brand value will not be able to offset what search engine technology is about to deliver," warned one banker questioned for the survey. ®
The Register breaking news

easyJet goes for easyNet café life

Hewlett-Packard has stumped up $5 million worth of hardware to kit out a new cybercafe in central London. The IT giant has joined forces with Stelios Haji-Ioannou, CEO of the cut-price airline easyJet, to create what is already being hyped as the world's biggest cybercafe. Opened today by Haji-Ioannou, easyEverything is sited opposite London's Victoria Station and is the first of many supercybercafes planned by the entrepreneur. And since the Net ever closes for business, neither will easyEverything. It will be open 24/7 bringing a new meaning to the corner shop maxim "open-all-hours." At just £1 an hour, easyEverything is certainly affordable although technical assistance -- which is usually provided free of charge in other cybercafes -- costs extra. Whether they make a decent mocha is another matter. ®
The Register breaking news

Linux alliance fights against Euro software patents

The EU's current plans to extend patent law to software has been attacked by the EuroLinux Alliance, which points out that current European patent law is already being abused by major companies. The net effect of the continuation of this abuse, or of new laws applying patents to software, will be to make life practically impossible for smaller software developers. The subject is due to come up on Thursday at the Intellectual Property Conference in Paris, where moving to a US-style patent model will be discussed. According to the Alliance, although software isn't patentable in Europe under the Munich Convention, the European Patent Office (EPO) has been granting patents which can be used to protect programming techniques, computer programmes and software. This is happening because of a loophole in the Munich Convention which allows industrial inventions based on innovative programming techniques to be patented. Says the Alliance: "Software Patents granted by the EPO to protect programming techniques were very few ten years ago and were mainly used by large industrial corporations to protect, for example, computerised oil exploration techniques." But in the intervening period the EPO has come under increasing pressure from companies trying to patent what they can already patent in the US, where anything "useful and non obvious" can be patented. A recent IBM application shows that "the EPO is now used to grant patents on extremely elementary, if not obvious, programming techniques." The EU is currently considering removing computer programs from the exceptions list of the Munich Convention, and this would effectively open the floodgates. "It would be possible to use patents to get a monopoly on the use of a business method or an electronic commerce method by patenting as such its implementation in a program for computers," says the Alliance, which has assembled a group of ten industry luminaries, including Tim Berners-Lee, to lobby against the change. It is also now possible to sign a letter to the EU Competition Commissioner, opposing software patents here.
The Register breaking news

K7 is definitely AMD Athlon

Our feverish request to come up with the definitive new name for the K7 chip seems to have found a response. An OEM, who under no circumstances whatever wishes to be named, tells us that Athlon will be the name of the K7 processor at its launch next week. AMD wouldn't even give us the date of the launch so that we could write a piece ready for the announcement. It wanted us to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). But we wanted to know the date so we could tell AMD whether or not we could be around.... And in another piece of weird recursion, Taiwanese company Gigabyte is quoting The Register as saying that the launch date will be the 28 of June. Surely Gigabyte knows? We will post the gladiatoral contest when we get round to it.. ®
The Register breaking news

Prices go mad on IBM and Compaq notebooks

Share Tip NECX, once more, has come up trumps on processor pricings -- whether DRAMs or CPUs. (Is there a difference these days?, Ed) According to our latest report from the trading floors in New York, both Compaq and IBM have slashed and burnt their notebook prices in the US. The reason is because of Intel's .18 micron technology, which will mean the introduction of leaner and meaner ThinkPads and Armadas in the next few weeks. It is a Coppermine processor. According to NECX, both Intel and Compaq have slashed their prices by as much as 40 per cent. That is following Intel's lead. We firmly expect Intel's share price to be up to $70 a share by the end of this week, so buy now. ®
The Register breaking news

Buy UK company NorWeb, big time

Share Tip Sources close to UK NorWeb on Friday told us it has a way of beating BT on the ADSL front. The company, formerly an electricity provider, can use one of the pins on a three-way UK plug to deliver superior functionality than ADSL, our sources say. The full details of NorWeb's offering are unlikely to surface until Wednesday this week. Although initially more expensive than BT's and C&W's offerings, our take on this is it will be far cheaper in the long run. NorWeb may well IPO the spin off... But it will be in the UK. ®
The Register breaking news

Fujitsu set to clean up on HDDs

A source close to Japanese HDD company Fujitsu said today that there are likely to be only three players in the market by 2001. That could indicate Fujitsu is once more planning one of its big swoops. Fujitsu will be one of them, he claimed. He said that recent figures from Maxtor, Seagate, Quantum and Western Digital (WD) indicated that the writing is on the wall for smaller HDD players. But Fujitsu, our source maintained, was a long term player in the market. Our feel is that Fujitsu will be a long term player but we must never forget IBM. Nor must we forget Amdahl. We can probably forget Conner and other players, our Fujitsu source indicated. But not their intellectual properties, maintained by some players, still. He said one gig of hard drive space cost a mere dollar. So why are the rest of us paying so much? ®
The Register breaking news

French company likely to sue AMD if Athlon trademark

A French company is up in arms over the suggestion that AMD will call its K7 Athlon. This is hardly surprising, and quite frankly, we're bored with the whole subject. We promise never to write about the K7 for another two weeks and instead to concentrate on its Big Brother Intel. Here's the letter: "Hi, I've just read your article "K7 is definitely AMD Athlon", and I'm a bit surprised AMD has chosen such a name, because : - first, - second, I think it's a registered mark (at least, here in France :) "A quick search on the web gives the following result (in French) http://www.groupedanone.fr/Le_Groupe_Danone/WorldWide/europe_occidentale/france.html" Danone has the following on its Web site: "Produits Laitiers Frais : Produits : yaourts, fromages frais, desserts, aliments infantiles, diététique adulte Marques : Danone, Blédina, Gallia, Gayelord Hauser, Jacquemaire Santé, Biovivre, Athlon" The last is the offending trademark. "If I remember well, it's a drink for sportsman. "Btw, your site is a must and a very plesant place :)" Err, that's it. And we won't shan't sign any NDA... ®
The Register breaking news

Fujitsu pops down to Safeway in search of consumer sales

Safeway supermarkets started selling Fujitsu computers at the weekend, its first dabble into the PC arena. Fujitsu multimedia Pentium III 450MHz computers are in 25 supermarkets at £899.99 including VAT. The pilot scheme will be expanded to other Safeway stores later this year. The PC has 128MB SDRAM, 10Gb hard drive, 56.6k internal modem and Fujitsu 15" digital TCO 95 monitor. Software includes Windows 98. "We are continuing with our strategy to find new channels to market for the consumer," said Frank O'Brien, Fujitsu sales director. No figures were available for the weekend's sales, but O'Brien said the Japanese vendor's sales through other supermarkets had been successful. Fujitsu has sold its PCs in Tesco supermarkets since last July, and in Sainsbury's for the last two months. 260 Tesco and 50 Sainsbury?s are involved in the scheme, as well as 13 Savacentres - Sainsbury's non-food outlet. O'Brien said Fujitsu was interested in around 200 Safeway supermarkets, and this nationwide scheme should be in place for the back-to-school rush in September. This is the first time Safeway has sold PCs. Alex Holt, Safeway category buying manager, said the supermarket chain was always looking out for new product lines. ®
The Register breaking news

Hard times drive Western Digital warning

Western Digital has warned that its loss on earnings for the fourth quarter will be double what analysts expected. The disk drive maker predicted a loss of 90 cents to 98 cents per share for the quarter ending 3 July. This excludes a $20 million restructuring charge announced earlier and associated with its media business. Analysts had predicted a 49 cent loss, according to TechWeb. Western Digital aims to cut its drive production and shipments into the distribution channel. As a result of this, company execs said quarterly sales would equal the third quarter - around $668.5 million. Stiffer than expected competition in the desktop drive product line, which accounts for 90 per cent of revenue, was blamed for the bigger than expected loss. But Western Digital is in good company - Maxtor and Quantum also predicted earnings shortfalls earlier this month. Chuck Haggerty, Western Digital chairman, president and CEO, said: "Current conditions don?t suggest a widening loss [during the coming quarters], but not necessarily a continued improvement." "Suffice to say, the pricing pressures we have seen so far this quarter in the desktop drive business, especially in the last three weeks, are among the worst I have ever seen in the hard drive industry." ®
The Register breaking news

Dell cuts reliance on Taiwan

Encouraged by the prospect of a one per cent saving on its freight charges, Dell has reduced its OEM manufacturing in the Far East, preferring to produce and assemble more products in its Texas factory. The two companies reported to be affected, Quanta and Compal are playing down the impact of Dell's decision. Quanta said that it is perfectly normal for Dell to produce partial orders itself as its sales are growing, and both companies said that it would not affect them. Compal and Quanta said that orders for next year were actually up on this year. Quanta has received orders totalling three million units, up 50 per cent on this year, but Compal would not discuss exact figures. ®
The Register breaking news

TFT workers work like quacks

There is currently a major shortage of TFT-LCDs and manufacturers are unable to meet demand. In the rush to get into mass production, engineers are reported to be working like junior doctors. Companies are desperate to cash in on the market and are offering share options and salary increases to motivate their overstretched employees, we can reveal. One company, Chimei Opto Electronics has promised its staff a month's salary bonus when the first 1,000 pieces of screen glass-laminate are produced and a further two months bonus if mass production begins in October. The trouble began back at the end of 1997, when many Taiwanese and Japanese manufacturers invested in TFT-LCD's but there was very little demand. In response, the companies had to drop their prices, which created a demand that they could not meet. A number of manufacturers such as Acer and Chung Hwa Picture Tubes, are starting production soon. This is expected to ease the pressure on the companies and their engineers with supply expected to meet demand by the end of this year. Some reviewers have also wondered whether the geometries of LCD screens measure up to the traditional CRT model. One said that at least with CRTs you get a 360-degree light shine. ®
The Register breaking news

Pro-spam Euro MP caught crying in her beer after election

There is something rather vulgar about ex-politicians bleating when they've been unceremoniously booted out of office. Take former European politician Christine Oddy. She told Silicon.com last week that the UK has been "stripped of its hi-tech MEPs" following this month's Euro elections. "There's no one to follow in my footsteps in the European Parliamentary Labour Party," she blubbed to Silicon. "They lost 100 per cent of their legal expertise when Ian [White] and I were voted out," she sniffed. What utter tosh. In a trouser-dropping display of barefaced cheek the former MEP for Coventry claims there is nobody left to represent UK businesses on IT issues. Nobody left to represent UK businesses on IT issues? Who is Oddy trying to kid? Is this the same Christine Oddy who refused to outlaw spam during the recent ecommerce directive before leading her Labour lap dogs through the voting chamber? Read Silicon's heart-wrenching tale of a deposed MEP and you'll wonder how the European Net community will survive now she's gone. The answer is that we'll all probably fare a lot better. Thanks to Oddy, spam remains a curse for Net users all over Europe. Thanks to her tireless efforts the onus will be on Net users to opt out of receiving spam making them do the legwork while still picking up the cost. And then there's her choice of successor. She wants German Socialist, Willi Rothley, to "carry on her work." If that means voting for crackpot ideas that will turn the Euro Net community into a laughing stock then she picked the right man. For Rothley was a vocal supporter of the ban on caching -- a move that had it not been overturned -- would have brought the Net to its knees. It should also be noted that Rothley also tabled an amendment saying that ISPs should keep records of all information that could be used to track sources of illegal content. Is this the right-minded thinking of an IT expert? Does he want Europe's Net community tied up in so much red tape it would make it impossible to run an ISP without incurring massive administrative costs? Oh, and one last point about Silicon's job advert for Oddy. The ex-MEP Ian White, referred to as a "fellow IT expert", knows about as much about the industry as a fork. Like a kitchen utensil, he knows nothing. In fact, he's more concerned about the environmental welfare of the Severn Estuary in his beloved ex-Bristol constituency than the workings of the Net. Which all goes to show that thanks to basic democratic principles people do have the power to say who governs them. Shame there isn't a similar mechanism that covers what they read. ®
The Register breaking news

Spam opt-out service goes live

A global service that gives Net users the chance to opt out of receiving spam has been launched in the US. By registering with OptList.com Net users can ask to be removed from all email lists. On the other hand, if they want to receive junk mail and tailor it to cover specific areas, such as rock music or astrology, they can also register their interests in more than 500 different subjects. Registration, though, is only half of the equation. It's then up to junk emailers to use OptList.com's databases to weed out those who don't want spam and to include those that do. In theory it should mean that people who don't want to receive spam are purged from spammers' lists. What distinguishes Optlist.com from other similar services such as SAFEeps.com from the American Computer Group is that it's free to use by spammers. In reality, whether it's free or not is of little relevance. It is difficult to imagine how such a scheme will stop the activities of unscrupulous spammers, a fact recognised by the president of OptList.com himself. "We're just a small part of the equation to tame spam," said Ken Lau. "It's up to the citizens of the Internet to do something about it... we're just providing the tools." ®