27th > July > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel admits chipset famine

Intel appears to be unable to meet current demand for its 440BX and 440ZX chipsets and has been forced to raise prices by up to 20 per cent in an attempt to cope with the problem. A Chipzilla spokesman confessed to US newswires that the company was indeed facing a shortfall of both chipsets, but claimed Intel is "working quickly" to meet motherboard vendors' demand for silicon. Still, it only has itself to blame. Quality and production issues with Intel's 810 chipset, aka Whitney, continue to hamper motherboard vendors' plans to move away from the 440BX and 440ZX. So it's no wonder they're keen to continue punching out boards based on the older chipsets in ever greater numbers. Demand for the chipsets have been led by recent hikes in PC shipments -- research companies IDC and Dataquest yesterday both reported 26 per cent increases in PC shipments during the year's second quarter, and fellow researcher PC Data recently revealed a 35 per cent hike in PC sales through retail and mail order channels for the month of June alone. Chipzilla claims to be increasing production volumes of the 810 more quickly than any other chipset it has offered. But without clear signs of a fix to the quality problems, it will have a job persuading motherboard vendors to use it. Unless, of course, ZX and BX chipset supplies dry up even further... ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

3dfx revives Velocity brand for corporate push

3dfx yesterday relaunched the Velocity brand name once favoured by the company's wholly-owned motherboard manufacturer STB Microelectronics. Originally based on nVidia 3D accelerator chips, the new Velocity range will be powered by 3dfx's Voodoo 3 and be aimed at the emerging business and corporate markets. Two boards make up the line: the Velocity 100 and the Velocity 200. The cards offer 8MB and 16MB of video RAM, respectively. Both support the AGP 2x bus. Company president Greg Ballard claimed "the corporate desktop market represents a vast, untapped opportunity for 3dfx". Possibly, but only because OEMs, system integrators and VARs are so desperate to differentiate their products they're even looking to games-oriented consumer technologies to make their business PCs stand out. How many business users really want to create "beautiful, real-time 3D images and screensavers for the desktop", courtesy of the Organic Art Deluxe 2.0 software bundled with the Velocity boards, or use PowerPlugs: Transitions II from developer CrystalGraphics (also bundled by 3dfx) to "energise PowerPoint presentations with TV-style 3D transition effects" remains to be seen. Not very many we suspect. ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Falling prices dent CCM figures

CCM Distribution saw profit and sales fall for the six months ended 31 March, due to falling component prices. The Cheshire-based distributor recorded pre-tax profit of £600,000, down on last year's £800,000. This included an exceptional item of £100,000, which resulted from legal proceedings settled out of court with Microsoft. Turnover dropped to £11.08 million, against £12.66 the year before, according to a company statement. Earnings per share were 19 pence from 35 pence. Brent Cutler, CCM Distribution MD said: "In line with our competitors, the half year was affected by falling component prices." CCM chairman Robert Durston blamed growing competition over the last six months, which had hit the industry by forcing down prices and challenging margins. "It is unlikely that the pace of change in this sector will slow but there are still opportunities... Many companies are presently reviewing their computer needs and a significant number of computers are being replaced in anticipation of the year 2000 and with the expansion of the Internet," he said. The group, which floated last July, aims to increase the number of its account managers to 32 by the end of September. CCM said it had so far hired 26 managers, and was confident of hitting its target by the end of its financial year. The company also said it was reviewing acquisition opportunities where it could use its marketing and distribution skills. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 Jul 1999
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Amiga goes for Transmeta

Amiga president Jim Collas this weekend effectively revealed the Transmeta CPU will power the company's upcoming (and rather ugly, it has to be said) next-generation hardware products. On video via satellite link at the World of Amiga (WOA) show, held in Kensington, London, Collas simply unveiled which chip the new machines will be based upon. When it came to more interesting details -- like who will actually make the chip or what it can do -- Collas wasn't even remotely forthcoming. The WOA announcement should end the long-running speculation on what chip Amiga has selected. Most recently, MIPS' CPU emerged as the front-runner (not for the first time, either), and other possibilities have included Motorola's PowerPC, primarily because the original Amiga was based on Motorola's old 680x0 family. Collas always said the chip would not be an x86 processor, but one of the key features of the Transmeta chip is its support for the x86 instruction set. Transmeta itself has always kept a very tight lid on its work, which is probably why Collas couldn't say anything more at WOA and the company hasn't even press-released details of his speech. The Register has been tracking Transmeta developments for some time now. It is believed the chip, which is due to ship in Q4 with clock speeds of 400MHz. Essentially, it appears to be a kind of Swiss Army Knife CPU, capable of being easily upgraded to support multiple instruction sets. It will be fabbed by IBM Microelectronics. The IBM connection is particularly intriguing since many of Transmeta's designers hailed from IBM's PowerPC development team, and worked on a PowerPC chip, the 615, which had a bolt-on x86 compatibility module. Equally interesting for Amiga is the involvement of Linux creator Linus Torvalds in the Transmeta design. Earlier this month, Amiga dropped its planned support for the QNX Neutrino OS in favour of... er... Linux. Indeed, that was one of the key factors that suggested Amiga might be considering the Transmeta chip. The chip has also been designed to power Java-based machines, and again there's a strong connection here with Amiga's interest in Java technology as the programming language for the Amiga Operating Environment's APIs and its role in the AmigaObjects object technology. ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

BT nets Cellnet from Securicor

BT is set to fork out a whopping £3.15 billion in cash to Securicor to acquire its minority holding in the mobile phone company Cellnet. The acquisition of Securicor's 40 per cent shareholding means that BT will control 100 per cent of the UK's second largest mobile phone operator behind Vodaphone. What's more, it appears that Securicor's shareholders have a windfall to look forward to thanks to the sale, which is still subject to regulatory approval. Securicor said that most of the cash would be paid directly to its shareholders. The rest will be pumped into Securicor's other concerns or used for future acquisitions. BT said the deal is likely to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year. BTCellnet, of which BT already owns 60 per cent, boasts more than five million customers. Profit before tax for the year ended 31 March was £118 million. Net assets as at 31 March were £431 million. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Computer delays student loan payouts

With the news that things in the passport office are beginning to return to normal, it was about time for another government computer system to go wrong, and it has. The new software system installed to manage the issuing of Student Loans has succumbed to the traditional teething troubles of new software, causing delays in sending out cheques to students. The Department for Education & Employment (DfEE) said that only a small number of local authorities had problems and that cheques would go out on time. A spokesperson for the DfEE said: "The majority of local authorities are managing, the question is why the others are not." Officials shrugged off suggestions of government responsibility for the new software. "Each LEA makes the decision about which software company it buys from. It is not something decided centrally." Comparisons to the recent foul up at the Passport Office were inevitable. Edward Lister, the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council said: "This is the passport nightmare all over again. Everything that could be delayed, has been delayed." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel clamps down on dual-Celeron systems

Intel's attempt to prevent Celeron CPUs being used in multi-processor systems may for now depend more on bamboozling buyers than actually nobbling the chip. According to hardware-oriented Web site BX Boards, Chipzilla began disabling one of the Socket 370 Celeron's pins (AN15, to be exact) at the end of June, to ensure the chip would not work in dual-CPU mode. That was in response to the release of several dual-CPU motherboards. At the same time, the company began stamping 'For uniprocessor systems only' stickers on its Celeron packaging. Just a trick to put people off? BX Boards asked at the time. And it now appears that that may well be the case. The site claims to have received reports from readers who have got the chip to work in dual-processor mode. Clearly there are still plenty of fully-operational Celerons in the channel, and Intel's sticker strategy is indeed a half-way measure until dual-mode disabled Celerons start filtering through. ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq moves to sue eMachines

The air is thick with flying writs in Houston, as Compaq takes steps to sue eMachines -- the maker of cut-down Internet computers. The suit alleges 13 separate infringements of Compaq patented technology, although the details of what these technologies might be are thin on the ground. eMachines is owned by Korea Data Systems (KDS), which is also named in the action, which was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District in Houston, Texas. Another of KDS' companies is named in the suit -- Trigem Computer and its US counterpart Trigem America. eMachines makes computers that are geared toward making home Internet access easier and cheaper. It machines have figured in a number of "giveaway PC" deals in the US. Earlier this year, eMachines said it would sell up to two million of its cut-down PCs and outlined plans to float before the year was out. ®
Sean Fleming, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel uncovers new erratum in PIII and Xeon CPUs

Intel has found an erratum (one of those things that isn't a bug, honest) in Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon processors, according to hardware site HardwareCentral. The problem manifests itself as a system hang, and the more processors in the system, the more likely it is to occur. The fix requires a bios update, and OEMs were given the code for this earlier this month. According to HardwareCentral, the system may hang when the processor requests data from the system memory bus while another processor or bus master asks for memory contents being used by the first processor. We particularly liked Intel's deadpan FAQ, which includes: Q: How serious is this issue? A: Intel does not provide judgement on the relative importance of an erratum. Meanwhile, some earth-shattering news seems to have bobbed to the top of Intel's Product Change Notification Index last week. "Alternate Corrugated Cardboard Tray Styles Shipping on Boxed Intel Pentium II, Pentium III and Celeron Processors," it says here. Phew. "Beginning in August 1999, Intel will begin using two different styles of corrugated cardboard trays." Intel: the company that keeps you informed. But there's more. The notification is linked to a one page PDF which informs us: "Please respond to your distributor if you have any issues with the timeline or content of this change. No response from customers will be deemed as acceptance of the change and the change will be implemented pursuant to the key milestones set forth in the attached PCN." So if you want to revolt against the new corrugated trays, you'd better make it quick. ®
John Lettice, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Entry-level HDDs debuted by Quantum

Quantum Corporation is aiming for the budget PC market with its new product line, starting with the Fireball lct desktop hard disk drive. Designed for use in sub-$700 PCs, the Fireball ranges in capacity from 4.3GB to 26GB. Its features include Quantum's SPS II Data Protection System, Ultra ATA/66 interface and the third generation of GMR heads. The SPS II provides more resistance to physical shocks that can damage data, both operating and non operating. Quantum says it is a big improvement on the SPS I. The Fireball is the result of over two years' development, and Quantum claims it balances customers' low-cost demands with its own requirements for quality and reliability. The Fireball lct offers PC OEMs a wide range of capacity points but requires only one drive qualification for a variety of systems. Quantum says that this simplification will save its customers time and money, and allow them to get products to market faster. The 3.5in Quantum Fireball lct runs at 5400rpm. It has an average seek time of 9ms, a maximum internal transfer rate of 250MBpsec, and a 512KB buffer. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Paid-for ISPs take a beating from free model

The number of people signing up for subscription-based ISPs is falling so quickly it's like Michael Schumacher hitting the barrier in the British Grand Prix and coming to a bone-breaking halt. According to the quarterly Internet report from investment bank Durlacher, the growth of subscription-based services has decelerated from 80 per cent a year to less than one per cent. And this has come at a time when dial-up use has grown by 66 per cent over the last 12 months bringing the total number of users to 5.8 million people in the UK. If true, this research appears to support anecdotal evidence that subscription based services have been hit hard by the Freeserve revolution. There are now 95 subscription-free services in the UK and this figure will rise to 200 by the end of the year, according to Durlacher. Charles Nasser, MD of UK independent ISP ClaraNet said that he wasn't surprised by findings of Durlacher's Quarterly Internet Report adding that his company was still experiencing steady growth in all the sectors. "We must be the exception to the rule because we're still experiencing high growth," he said, without divulging exact numbers of dial-up users. Indeed, ClaraNet's new FreeTime subscription-based service, which offers users toll-free access to the Net, is receiving 1000 enquiries a day, he said. Earlier this month, a ClaraNet representative told The Register that he was not expecting people to be "clamouring to join" because of the FreeTime packages alone. But before anyone starts sounding the last post for subscription-based services, Durlacher's Nick Gibson believes that free services could face a bleak future. "Most subscription-free ISPs, including Freeserve, offer little to differentiate themselves and provide little or no barriers to exit for subscribers. "As long as users can switch accounts so easily, free-ISPs leave themselves vulnerable to churn," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

PC sales strong in EMEA, but margins disappearing

PC shipments rose 15.5 per cent to 7.08 million units in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (EMEA) for the second quarter, with sustained demand in both business and consumer markets, according to IDC. Western Europe continued to drive the region's PC market, with sales rising 18.4 per cent to almost 5.9 million. Compaq kept its place as EMEA's top vendor, with 1.2 million shipments and 17.2 per cent of the market for Q2. IBM claimed 677,000 shipments and 9.6 per cent of the sector. Dell came a close third with 672,000, and 9.5 per cent. Hewlett-Packard had 517,000 and 7.3 per cent of the market for the quarter. Eastern Europe showed good signs of recovery after last year. Western Europe saw especially strong growth for servers and notebooks, IDC said. The UK consumer market stayed solid, driven by the Web and competition in the ISP arena. However, it's not all champagne celebrations for the PC sellers of EMEA. Profits and margins for the region were hit by cheap PCs and increased competition in the notebook market. Karine Paoli, EMEA PC Tracker program manager for IDC, said: "The Internet and cheaper PCs fuelled the demand for PCs on the consumer market. On the business market, Y2K compatibility remains a strong accelerator. It stimulated corporate renewals in the previous quarters and is expected to drive the small business sector in the second half of the year." ®
Linda Harrison, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

It's good to talk – over the Web

Gadget boys and girls eager to try something new-ish could be in for a pleasant surprise following the release of a free Web streaming voice mail (VM) service. The nattily-named VoizMail from California-based MediaRing lets Net users send VM over the Web just like email. Although this is nothing new, MediaRing claims that what makes the service different is that there is no need for special plug-ins. Anyone with an email account can send a VM to anyone else with an email account without the need to download specialist software. All they need to do is hit the VoizMail Web site and access the message there. Of course, if the early adopters think this is the best thing since the talking potty, then they can always download it onto their own desktops for regular econversations. "Email has revolutionised international communication, but I think everyone who uses it would agree that sometimes talking is still the best way for getting a message across," said Ede Phang Ng, CEO of MediaRing. "VoizMail combines the best of the Internet and the spoken word, making life easier and cheaper for everyone," he was quoted as saying in a paper press release rather than a VM. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Testers say TNT2 is a blast

Mercury Research has given top marks to three nVidia TNT2 Ultra-based graphics cards in test runs of Quake 3 Arena. 3dfx's Voodoo 3 3000 board came behind nVidia -- coming fourth in four of the tests. At the bottom of the pile was ATI's Rage Fury and Hercules' Terminator Beast 99 (which is based on S3's Savage 4 accelerator). The full results of the tests can be found at Mercury Research's Web site, The Meter. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Toucan play at Compaq's game

Compaq has announced that it will be launching a new server from the ProLiant family, codenamed Toucan, in September this year. Toucan consists of two clustered servers with shared storage. It has two Intel Pentium III processors per server, 128MB SDRAM expandable to 1GB, high performance 10,000rpm SCSI disks, four PCI expansion slots and up to 252GB of high performance SCSI storage. As yet, there are no details of UK pricing or availability. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Europress falls into Hasbro clutches

Hasbro is beefing up its interactive business with the acquisition of Europress, Macclesfield's very own consumer software house. The US toy giant will gain control of FunSchool, the UK's best selling educational software label for primary school children, a large range of National Curriculum-compliant study software, and a clutch of lifestyle titles endorsed by B-List and C-List British TV celebs ( Carol Vorderman !!! Alan Tichmarsh!!! Sharron Davies!!!) Hasbro says Europress will take it into software distribution and development for the first time. Good distribution -- or to be more precise good relationships with a couple of handful of buyers in a half a dozen or so major multiples -- is a key requisite for success in the highly concentrated UK software retailing scene. Europress appears to have that bag sewn up, judging from the large numbers of titles it manages to get on high street shelves. The Europress purchase is subject to due diligence, and terms are undisclosed. Which is a pity, as the price tag is probably the most interesting thing about the acquisition. In recent years, consumer software houses retired hurt, or disappointed. At best they got swallowed up by The Learning Company (itself bought by Mattel, Hasbro's arch-rival, this year). Trouble is, consumers don't really like consumer software -- in the way that they love, say, computer games, or the Internet. That's why publishers like to talk of ranges more than individual titles, which typically sell in puny numbers. ®
Drew Cullen, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

IT giants fund US police

Hi-tech companies are paying out thousands of dollars to hard-up police departments in the US to help combat computer-related crime. According to a report in the LA Times, Intel regularly slips police departments in Oregon $100,000 a year to help pay the wages of a few law enforcement professionals. It's also more than happy to part with $10,000 to kit out the odd sheriff's department with a wire-tap or two. Then there's Hewlett-Packard which is more than happy to let police officers use its corporate jet if it helps catch a computer villain. Snag is, some people think this is an abuse of the system. They claim these firms are "buying justice" in their bid to crackdown on computer crime which reportedly cost the US $3 billion last year. But one outspoken officer told the LA Times that such allegations were way out of line. "If you're inferring that we're paid off, that's not right," Sgt Michael Tsuchida of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office told the LA Times. "I'll eat your dinner, sleep in your hotel and still arrest you if you're breaking the law," he said. It's nice to know that the judgement of the boys in blue is not swayed by a few greenbacks. In a way, the hacks at The Register are no different. They swan off on fancy all-expenses-paid press trips, get taken out to swanky restaurants -- and still manage to dish the dirt about their hosts. The Register -- eating the hand that feeds IT. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Opinion: How Linux could screw MS in Q4 2000

After a few months hiatus Microsoft and Intel seem to have got their act back together, and have produced the first draft of the roadmap for the class of PC that's intended to go on sale late in the year 2000. They've done joint roadmaps before, and it has worked to the extent that Intel has remained the dominant chip supplier and Microsoft the dominant OS supplier - but what if, this time around, it fails? Actually, the latest blueprint has a high probability of failure on the software side, and this is a clear opportunity - if Microsoft's rivals are smart enough to take advantage of it. Take a look at the kinds of machines that are already coming onto the market, and the way these have been roadmapped by Intel first, and then more recently by a reformed Wintel alliance in the shape of the Easy PC Initiative. PCs are currently getting cheaper, to the point at which they're "free" (i.e. extremely low-cost pieces of hardware that come bundled with a two to three year ISP contract). Customers are becoming more receptive to the idea of some kind of Internet access box rather than a PC per se, and an Internet access box just has to be able to browse the Web and collect the email - it doesn't have to be Windows, and as Windows is expensive and overly-complicated, quite a lot of these boxes won't be Windows. They'll be Linux, BSD or BeOS, and the customers won't really care. Next year's model That's the obvious opportunity that already exists, but if you look at how this class of hardware will develop, you can see how the opportunity will widen, and how Microsoft's opportunities for failure will increase. Last autumn Intel started talking about the precursor to Easy PC, and this led to the demonstration of a series of 'Concept PCs' in Las Vegas that November. Shortly after that Microsoft and Intel were clearly co-operating in the development of a basic platform that would allow those machines to be built, in the second half of this year. That turned out to be strike one for Microsoft. In late 98 the company intended to build the consumer implementation of Windows 2000 for what was then Intel's Easy to Use PC Initiative. As this consumer OS got cancelled/postponed, Intel's Kahneeta 'Always On' PC reference platform also got cancelled, and the two revamped their plans in the shape of the Easy PC Initiative, which was titularly joint but largely Intel-derived. That's where the opportunity for Microsoft to make strikes two and three comes in. Easy PC platforms are scheduled to go into manufacturing towards the end of next year, and they're going to need operating systems. The hardware specification for Easy PC is already pretty clear, but the information leaking out about the first impression of the software Microsoft is aiming at it, Millennium, speaks volumes about how unready Microsoft is to roll with the next generation of simplified PC. The vagueness of the references to Microsoft software in Easy PC is also significant. The basic point about Easy PC is that all (unless the designers chicken out) of the legacy hardware is going to be ripped out. From a hardware point of view that makes the PCs easier and cheaper to build, and it should also make them more reliable and cheaper to support. But although it's possible to take out ISA, parallel, serial and floppy and substitute USB and Firewire, and then still run the machine on a hacked-about version of Windows 98, it's hardly ideal. The kludge An operating system that's still ready and waiting for pieces of hardware that aren't ever going to be there is going to be slower and less reliable - the dodgy hardware might be gone, but the dodgy routines the OS goes through in association with that hardware will be a problem for as long as they remain. And then there are those bits of Win16 code still rattling around causing problems. Ideally, you'd start with a new, non-legacy kernel and build a consumer OS specifically for the Easy PC platform; this is of course was Microsoft planned and then cancelled earlier this year, and what Microsoft is not planning now. Millennium is being built on Windows 98, and will not include a radical kernel rewrite. It may well end up blocking out legacy hardware and shielding the user from Dos, but it is surely inevitable that the legacy code will continue to rattle around in there, undermining the overall integrity of the platform. Microsoft might manage to do a better job with Neptune, the next effort at consumer Win2k, but that's not likely to show up before 2001. So there's the opportunity. Hardware designs that could really use a radical rewrite of Windows will be around in the second half of next year, but Windows will at best be able to cater for them in 2001, and don't count on it. The hardware spec will be developed over the next six months or so, with sign-off and publication due in February. By that time hardware companies, cable TV outfits, ISPs and goodness knows what other kinds of companies will be even keener on slimmed-down, simplified and easier to use designs. And they'll be looking for honed, battle-ready, low-cost operating systems that are appropriate for the specification. Open source outfits that started designing now could give them what they want. Microsoft's inability to keep pace with the demands of the hardware is hardly news. Through the various iterations of the joint PC9x system design guides the company has repeatedly failed to deliver the software on time - more usually, it slips a year, even two years. In the past that hasn't mattered for Microsoft, because it's been the only game in town, so the hardware has just had to wait for Microsoft to catch up. But the roadmaps for next year's platforms are there, the hardware data is coming, and Microsoft doesn't look so much like the only game in town any more. If the rivals start now, Christmas 2000 could get pretty interesting. ® See also: Linux loses in NT tests - Mindcraft numbers still wrong? Benchmark battles - now Linux beats NT 'Hit team' drives MS plan to bludgeon Linux with benchmarks Tests cited by MS prove flaws in Linux study - Linux Today Can Linux avoid Microsoft's NT trap? 'Show you can beat NT' - MS declares war on Linux Linux needs MS Office to make breakthrough - report MS Office for Linux - dream or nightmare? Maritz on... Linux We taught the Linux boys everything they know -- SCO exec Leaked Microsoft memo outlines anti-Linux strategy Linux - now Intel stabs Microsoft in the front Analysis: When Linux met Wintel
John Lettice, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Action suspends shares

Action Computer Supplies suspended its shares yesterday morning after a fall in price, prompting speculation that an announcement concerning the company's impending sale was in the offing. The PC reseller asked that trading in its shares be suspended "pending an announcement." Shares were frozen at just over £2.70, against a mid-month high of £3. A company representative said they were awaiting a statement from Action, but could not say if it would be made this week. In May, US giant Insight confirmed it had agreed a $150 million bid to buy Action. The all share offer worked out at 260.7 pence per Action share. ®
Linda Harrison, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Palm to drop Web clipping for WAP

3Com subsidiary Palm Computing looks set to abandon its current approach to Web browsing and leap onto the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) bandwagon. So far, Palm's plan for wireless Net access, offered through the Palm VII, currently forming the basis for public trials and various parts of the US, centres on its Web 'clipping' technology, essentially a method for stripping out the less relevant data from a Web page so it can be easily sent over a low-bandwidth wireless link. In promoting Web clipping, Palm signed up a number of leading content providers to offer versions of their sites aimed at Palm VII users. It now looks like they may as well not bothered. According to Palm-watching Web site, Peter PDAntic, Palm has dropped Web clipping from its plans in favour of WAP. WAP is rapidly becoming the standard method by which all mobile devices, and high-end cellphones in particular, will display Net-sourced information. It's supported by all of the major phone manufacturers, with phones incorporating the technology due next year. If you view cellphones as wireless data terminals, that will mean WAP will have a userbase way ahead of Palm's, so some move toward WAP on Palm's part was always on the cards. The snag is, WAP requires Web-based information to be encoded in its own format, rather than HTML -- Palm's Web clipping technology, on the other hand, is HTML-based. That said, it's likely HTML and HTTP will both be ultimately modified to better support WAP. According to the site, Mark Bercow, Palm's VP of strategic alliances and platform development, said: "Palm is committed to supporting WAP in future releases of the Palm Computing platform for use by our licensees in the wireless telecommunications market." ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Is that a MAG InnoVision email in your pocket…

Or are you just pleased to see me? Hats off to Reading-based monitor vendor MAG InnoVision, the recipient of a one-off Register award for sending out fat-boy emails. The Bugger the Bandwidth Award goes to the company after it sent out a press release today with more attachments than the Royal Engineering Corp. It had two jpegs, a gif, a tif and four Word documents. It was so big that we at Vulture Central have decided not to read any of it but to use it to go mugging people instead. After taking more than 20 minutes to download the over weight specimen, during which time no other emails could be sent or received, guess what - it turned up a second time. Good work fellas - a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People is not winging it's way to you right now. If your monitors are anything like as user friendly as your emails, we suggest you all get jobs at Burger King. ®
Sean Fleming, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Hate your PC? Tell Compaq all about it

Compaq has launched a Computer Rage Helpline, designed to relieve the stresses of working in a high tech environment. When The Register called the helpline, we were given a list of options to describe the type of computer problem we had. Did we hate our computer with a passion? Physically or verbally abuse it? Did we blame ourselves for the problem, or try to fix it but make things worse? Based on your choice, you are allocated a personality type -- Simmering Susan, Controlling Colin, Abusive Annie – and put through to a message to "help you to cope with your feelings…" The general gist of the advice was to calm down and call the IT department. Although, if you blame yourself, you will be advised to go for a lunchtime jog. Compaq isn't making any money out of this one, the calls are local rate, so it must be a public service to entertain the masses. Here at The Register, we had a laugh. When told of the laughing vultures, a Compaq spokeswoman commented: "Well, at least it took your attention away from your computers for a minute.." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Mandelson mauls ministers over ecomm bill

There's cheek, bare-faced cheek -- and then there's Peter Mandelson. The former trade and industry minister, who left the UK government because of a financial faux-pas, spent yesterday slagging off his old colleagues to a bunch of new media types at lecture sponsored by ITN. Apparently, the government has made a complete hash of appointing a digital envoy, blasted Mandy. They've also collectively cocked-up on the detail of the ecommerce bill and dithered over key escrow for too long, he whined. Could this be sour-grapes from the man who was, nine months or so ago, the minister responsible for introducing the ecommerce bill and the appointment of the ecommerce envoy? Either way, it seems Mandy's attack on the government will do no end of damage for his campaign to weasel his way back into power. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

ATI Rages against Gateway machines

Gateway is to use ATI's Rage Fury 16MB graphics add-in board in its Performance PC range. The company is remaining tight-lipped about the terms of the deal. The boards are built around ATIs 128 chip, a 128-bit graphics and multimedia accelerator. Offering high resolutions up to 1600 x 1200, ATI claims that it accelerates all games including DirectX, Direct3D and OpenGL games. "The Rage 128 has been praised by leading computer publications and industry analysts for its remarkable 3D graphics and multimedia ability," said Simon Greer, ATI's UK manager. The Rage 128-based chips can handle a range of visual effects needed for graphics intensive applications, such as alpha blending, fog, reflections, shadows and vivid colour rendering. Also, according to ATI, it is the first to support SDRAM and new DDR SGRAM memories. Dave Corcoran, product manager for Gateway EMEA, said: "We have a long and durable relationship with ATI, this board is the next in a long line that consistently meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for an add-in graphics board." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

It's steady as she goes for Freeserve shares

Shares in Freeserve fell by a smidgen under five per cent on day two of its life as a plc. They fell through the 200p barrier mid morning after closing last night at 205.5p Freeserve was nestling at around 195.5p late this afternoon. News of the float jostled for top spot in today's newspapers alongside photos of learner-driver 17-year-old Prince William taking his new motor for a spin. But in the wake of the high-profile sell-off that made punters 45 per cent profit in just 30 minutes yesterday, some interesting facts have emerged. For instance The Sun reported how CEO John Pluthero saw his personal share portfolio of £1 million Freeserve shares leap by more than £400,000 yesterday. Ordinary investors, who were only allowed a maximum of £750 worth of shares because of the massive demand, only managed to make around £277. And according to The Times some investors were so keen to cash in on the float one even sent in a cheque for £30,000. You can't blame the guy for trying -- but he now has to wait 21 days before he gets the outstanding £29,250 back from Dixons and eagerness could cost him dear. Aside from the gibbering optimists, there were some who tried to urinate on Freeserve's City parade. Credit Lyonnais Securities Europe said the Dixons ISP was only worth around 100p. WestLB Panmure reported that 60p was nearer the mark. With so few shares in circulation -- and demand so buoyant -- the general feeling is that nothing dramatic is going to happen in the short term. It's now up to Freeserve to deliver on the vote of support it received and start making some cash for its investors. ®
Tim Richardson, 27 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM unveils free Netfinity Linux support, Linux for RS/6000

IBM today said it would offer 90 days' free support for Netfinity server users running either the Red Hat or the Caldera Linux distributions. The announcement comes days after the company said it was working with PowerPC Linux distributor Yellow Dog to port the latter's Champion Server to the RS/6000 platform. On the Netfinity side, enterprise buyers across the world will gain full Linux support for the first three months. After that, they can extend coverage through an IBM support contract. Those support products will also be made available to existing customers, and those who install Linux on their Netfinity servers off their own bat. Servers will ship with copies of Caldera's OpenLinux and Red Hat Linux, said IBM's Netfinity e-business manager, Tom Figgatt. Big Blue also re-iterated its earlier promises to port key middleware applications to Linux, including DB2, Websphere and Lotus Domino. Yellow Dog, meanwhile, said it will release a version of Champion Server 1.1 for the RS/6000 43P Model 150, the F50 and an upcoming application server box for thin client systems, codenamed Pizzazz. The software will ship shortly, though Yellow Dog has already begun taking orders, it said. Yellow Dog itself will offer installation support for the product. ®
Tony Smith, 27 Jul 1999