19th > August > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

CRT displays – not as dead as you'd think

Analysis The monitor market has taken some twists and turns recently, with TFT shortages, CRT screens getting bigger and flatter, and more sophisticated consumers rejecting the channel. This is the opinion of manufacturers and distributors in the sector, who believe the monitor market is about to emerge from a prolonged difficult period. "This is characterised by several consecutive years of price erosion, with prices declining by as much as 30 per cent over a 12-month period," says Paul Dyer, general manager for PC peripherals at Samsung. The price is right The issue of pricing has dominated the sector since prices crashed last year, and has effectively forced the 14in monitor out of the market. Last month saw Hansol pull out of making 14in monitors, and LG Electronics has not made this size CRT for the UK market since last year. As the 15in CRT has fallen in price it has replaced the 14in monitor as the entry-level choice for many consumers. Bob Raikes, an analyst at Meko, says: "The bigger names aren’t making 14in anymore because there is no profit in them. But this means there will be a shortage of 14in and even 15in monitors later this year." Size matters For resellers, it means the upgrades are changing. When 14in was the usual entry-level size, the logical upgrade was 17in. Now the entry level is 15in, the more usual upgrade is becoming 19in. Dyer says: "The demand for larger screens is driven by end-user application, and as screens are used increasingly for more graphic-intensive applications, such as the Web, demand will increase." Trade price for a 17in is currently around £120, and for a 15in, between £80 and £90. The extra cost of the monitor can be hidden by the system builder through other components in the PC. The end-user sees a 17in monitor at entry level competing with PCs with 15in screens at the same price, and chooses the larger screen. Going flat out Other recent trends in the monitor sector include a move towards flatter screens. In March of this year, LG Electronics introduced its 17in Flatron monitor with a street price of around £280 (ex. VAT). It is likely that almost all CRT monitors will be flat by the middle of next year. "There is definitely a progression to these new completely flat technologies," agrees Nick Heather, LG Electronics IT product manager. As for TFT screens, the product shortage seen recently is beginning to free-up, according to Graham Dark, product marketing manager at components distributor Microtronica. However, it is unlikely that prices will come down significantly in the near future. "Manufacturers seem to have more kit available, although it's still a Catch 22 situation," he says. "Customers don't like to buy these products because they're too expensive, but prices can't come down until TFTs become more popular." Sales are increasing, but TFT is still selling to a very specialised market. With trade prices between £600 and £700 for 15in screens, and around £1900 for 18in screens, it will be some time before it becomes a volume product, says Dark. But current manufacturing techniques mean that there are still shortages in the TFT market, according to Heather. "Things are a lot more stable now, but there will continue to be shortages because of the length of time vendors need to set up new manufacturing processes," he says. "It can take about two years to get a fresh production line from start to finish." Cross channel? Very On the issue of CRT buying trends, Heather says the industry is seeing a definite shift towards the high street. "The average UK consumer is getting a lot more knowledgeable. We are now seeing people buying upgrades through the more mainstream channels of mail order and retail, rather than through VARs. "Resellers are still the main channel to market, but increasingly consumers are using the alternatives," he says. Yet there is still a future for CRT, thanks to its price, availability and technological advancements. In addition, it now looks as though prices will stop falling -– bringing back some much needed stability to the UK monitor market. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD accused of bending K7 benchmarks

Electronic Buyers' News is reporting that an unseemly row has broken out between a Canadian benchmarking firm and AMD over Athlon K7 benchmarks. According to the report, which can be found here, FutureMark Software is accusing AMD of bending its 3DMark 99 Max test suite to produce better results than in reality. The benchmarking firm further claims that AMD "tweaked" its test code to produce results, compared to a Pentium III/600, which were inaccurate. AMD is disputing that it did anything out of order. ®
The Register breaking news

HP's Merced strategy descends into farce

The fight between the Old Guard and the Young Turks at HP over Merced still seems to be on with a vengeance. Earlier this year, we reported that the company was advising customers to go direct to McKinley IA-64 architecture, jumping over Merced. (Story: HP confirms Merced retreat) Not long after that, HP said Merced was a clear part of its strategy (Story: Intel will do Merced) And now, just a few days after the Young Turks said HP will ship Merced machines in the mid-2000 time frame, a senior executive, presumably from the Old Guard, has advised customers to forget Merced and wait for McKinley, according to a story on Cnet. The wire reports HP's Eric Clow advising customers to stick with the PA-RISC platform until McKinley arrives. Oops. When Carly, HP's new CEO finds out about this, she is probably going to send Eric for re-education. We understand there is something of a cultural revolution going on within HP, to weed out unreconstructed suits. ® See also HP says it's on target for Merced next year Merced just a development platform for McKinley Secrets of Intel's IA-64 roadmap revealed
The Register breaking news

Taiwan mobo makers put on severe BX/ZX allocations

Taiwanese wire Commercial News is reporting today that Intel will ration BX/ZX chipsets supplied to motherboard manufacturers by as much as 50 per cent come September. And, as reported here earlier, it is attempting to shift the mobo makers to the 810 chipset, without much success. But, says the wire, local manufacturers are already switching to chipsets from Via and SiS instead, causing a shortage of those parts and price increases. All the major mobo makers have received notice of shortages, including FIC, Asustek and MicroStar. Nevertheless, a highly reliable deep throat at Intel Israel has told The Register that Chipzilla has no sinister intent and that, on this occasion, the company just screwed up on BX/ZX supplies. He denied absolutely allegations made by Tom Pabst yesterday that Intel had created an artificial shortage just to put pressure on hard-pressed rival AMD (Chimpzilla). Said the Intel deep throat: "Tom Pabst's speculation is inaccurate. Intel has pushed the chipset fabs far beyond their design limits to satisfy demand." Whatever the reason, the lack of BX/ZX chipsets is causing much angst in Formosa, as manufacturers attempt to gear up for the pre-Yule rush. ® See also Intel confirms months-long mobo shortage Component shortages threaten mobo manufacturers Tom's HW speaks out over alleged mobo muscle
The Register breaking news

Falling prices boost Computacenter profits

Computacenter posted pre-tax profit up 30 per cent for the first half of the year, with the reseller giant saying it welcomed the current industry curse of tumbling hardware prices. The company posted pre-tax profit at £40.7 million and turnover up 16.6 per cent at £904.8 million for the six months ended 30 June. This was against £31.3 million and £775 million respectively for the previous year. Earnings per share jumped 28.1 per cent to 14.6 pence. Computacenter said overall sales growth was down on last year. This was due to falling growth in hardware sales as prices continued to fall and businesses were gripped by uncertainty over Y2k. However, the company said it welcomed the long-term drop in hardware prices as it upped overall hardware sales which leads to increased demand for services. Ina prepared statement, the company said: "In line with our long term strategy, the group has continued to invest heavily in expanding its service operations resulting in accelerated growth in this area of our business in the first half." The company did not detail services growth in the period. But analyst Richard Holway estimated services revenues increased by around 40 per cent (using the criteria of total sales less costs of goods for resale). According to Holway's calculations: "If Computacenter made not a jot of margin on its hardware or other 'goods for resale' then services revenues increased from £140 million to £198 million in the six months." The group also said staff levels had grown by 17.5 per cent this year to 5384. Computacenter's businesses in Europe also performed well. Turnover in France was up 54.3 per cent on last year at FF1,061 million. In Germany sales grew by 146.7 per cent to DM94.4 million for the subsidiary bought two years ago. ®
The Register breaking news

Takeover on table for Workplace

Workplace Technologies saw its share price rocket 46 per cent yesterday after the company announced it was in takeover talks. By the time trading closed yesterday, shares in the Hertfordshire-based network reseller had jumped 68 pence to 213 pence. The company admitted it was at an "advanced stage of discussions which may, or may not, lead to an offer being made for (its) share capital." Shares stood at 114 pence this morning. According to today's Financial Times, analysts believe the recent fall in Workplace’s share price had made it vulnerable to a bid. At the start of last year, the company's share price was nudging 350 pence. Among businesses actively buying networking companies in the UK are South African Datatec. Computacenter is also underweight in this sector. Workplace was sold by ICL to its management for £12 million in 1995. It floated two years later with a market capitalisation of £60 million. Last November it bought networking integrator Lanbase for almost £20 million. ®
The Register breaking news

Texans sink $6m in Blackstar

Blackstar, an online video and DVD retailer, has not only made some money this year, but has managed to secure financial backing from US venture capitalist group, Atlas Venture. The Texan investors are parting with $6 million for a 33 per cent stake in the business. One of Blackstar's founders, Jeremy Glover, said that about half the money would be spent on marketing and promoting the company, and the other would be spent on expansion. "By the end of the day we will have twice as many employees. We're also opening a London branch, and should be employing 75 people in Belfast and London in about six months time." The video and DVD market is worth about £1 billion in the UK at the moment, and is expected to reach £18 billion in Europe by 2004. Blackstar has customers in 95 countries, but Western Europe still accounts for 70 per cent of its business. The three founders, Jeremy Glover, Darryl Collins and Tony Bowden, attribute the company's early success - revenue growth of about 30 per cent a month - to a focus on customer care, and providing a slightly different service to other online stores. "When we started, there was still a lot of worry about security of online shopping, so we had to bend over backwards to get customers to trust us. Personalising the service is important, but at the end of the day it is your relationship with your customers that keeps you in business." "The high street can't really afford to ignore us," says Glover. "There are some already online, like HMV and WHSmiths, but I think they are finding it hard to adapt to an online environment. They are still only stocking 2,000 to 3,000 titles, while we stock around 50,000 - the whole catalogue of titles available in the UK." The site is here and is nice and easy to navigate. Can we have our chocolates now guys? ®
The Register breaking news

GPS bug to strike today

Navigation systems relying on GPS could fail today, as well as at the weekend, according to US Air Force and Coast Guard officials. Users are being urged to check their equipment regularly over the next few days. The problem lies with older receivers, which may become confused as the satellite system begins to receive location updates from the ground today. Handsets made after 1994 should be fine, but earlier models could fail or display incorrect information. The Coast Guard says that people should make sure they use more than one method of navigation. Chief petty officer, Rick Hamilton, said that complications arising today could affect people who depend on information from the GPS system for other operations. "We are talking about cellular phone systems, fax and page systems and some power grids," he said. ® Related Stories End-of–the-week bug to eat GPS
The Register breaking news

Orange takes over Siemens' former UK fab

Siemens' old semconductor plant in the North East of England, closed last year, has a new owner: mobile phone company Orange. The site will be used to house a temporary call-centre, Orange said, and is part of an expansion programme that will see the creation of 2000 jobs in the area. Orange already has three call centres in the North East, at Peterlee, County Durham and Darlington. Darlington's two sites will be augmented with a third, in addition to the former Siemens site. ®
The Register breaking news

LineOne kicks off aggressive promo campaign

British online service provider (OSP) LineOne is pumping £3.5 million into a high-profile marketing campaign designed to attract more Net users to its service. The campaign kicks off in September and will be led by new signing Mary Turner who joins LineOne from her post as marketing director at CompuServe. "LineOne's serious investment in marketing is the last piece of the jigsaw," said Turner. Such a positive move from LineOne is a far cry from earlier this year when the OSP didn't appear to know its e-backside from its e-elbow. LineOne made a hash of transferring to a subscription-free service earlier this year and even managed to bungle the replacement of its former MD Andrew Burke. But since Ajay Chowdhury took over in May things have looked much brighter for the OSP. Its membership has grown from 80,000 to 350,000 and it's growing at a rate of 10,000 a week. Yesterday, The Register revealed that AOL UK had reported no growth in membership over the last six months. ®
The Register breaking news

Microsoft poo-poos MS Audio security hack

Microsoft released the final version of its MS Audio 4 technology this week -- only to find its copyright protection mechanism cracked within hours of the software being posted on its Web site. Of course, Microsoft was typically blase about the crack, poetically called Unfuck. "It's nothing new," said MS lead product manager Kevin Unangst, according to digital music company MP3.com's Web site. "This isn't a problem with our technology. No one broke Windows Media's rights technology. Anytime you have an architecture where there is an output of sound, people can capture it." However, according to Angelo Sotira, owner of the Dimension Music Web site, which first revealed the existence of Unfuck, the crack works at a more fundamental level than Microsoft claims. "Unfuck.exe actually breaks the protection on any file," he said in his site, "The file isn't recorded or captured in some way." But no matter how Unfuck allows users to bypass MS Audio's security features, the fact is, it does exactly what it says on the tin. And that calls into question the music industry's support for the format. Sony, for one, has said it will use MS Audio for its online music distribution trials, though it may now be persuaded to change its mind. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel abandons chip – $½ billion lost at sea

Chip gargantua Intel today would neither confirm or deny it had exited the discrete graphics business -- one which cost it over $430 million to buy. An Intel representative said today: "As far as I am aware, we are still in this business, producing the i752 chip." A month ago, it slit the throat of its i754 project, as reported here. (Story: Intel confirms i740, i754 dead duckies) Intel bought Chips & Technologies a year or two back for $430 million, but only had limited success with its first incursion into the market, the i740, which did not do well in the market. The 7x family came from a Lockheed spin off called Real3D. Wire reports are reporting that Intel has trashed the 752 graphics chip, adding to the confusion. Still, Intel's got a lot of money and a track record of trashing projects that don't work out in the end... Earlier this month, Intel canned its Express 3D graphics card with the fateful words: "Dear Intel® Express 3D graphics card Customer: Intel is announcing the end of interactive support for the complete Intel Express 3D graphics card product line." Don't even bother trying to phone them about that, Chipzilla warned at the time. ®
The Register breaking news

Commodore wannabe to reveal full Amiga box specs

Iwin, the European hardware vendor trying to take the name Commodore for its upcoming line of Amiga-style computers, yesterday promised to confound the sceptics by releasing full specs. and details of how ii intends to offer Amiga-compatible machines without infringing Amiga, inc. copyrights and patents. In a message on the comp.sys.amiga.misc Usenet newsgroup, Iwin VP Rue Ann Mark promised the company would release "every technical information we have" in the next "two or three days". That information will include "internal datasheets, internal layout specifications [and] API specifications". And the company will make its machines, in both 68060 and PowerPC versions, publicly available at a special event in Germany for Amiga users to come and test the compatibility of their software. The date and time of the test will be released shortly, Mark said. Iwin announced its plans to offer Amiga-based computers earlier this week following revelations that the company wants to ship them under the Commodore badge. It is about to enter into negotiations with Commodore owner Tulip to acquire or license the CBM brand. ®
The Register breaking news

Micromuse murder allegation kicked out

Christopher Dawes, the millionaire founder of Micromuse, named eight people who wanted to see him dead just months before he was killed in a sports car crash, it was revealed yesterday. An inquest heard how Dawes, who made his fortune as founder of software company Micromuse, drew up the list and gave it to his father last August. Lawrence Kershen, QC, representing Dawes' parents, argued that the deaths were not caused by the impact of the crash. Some "prior cause", such as an explosion or someone tampering with the McLaren FI, was responsible, he told the inquest at Saffron Walden, Essex. Superintendent Douglas Adams, of Essex Police, disagreed: "All the evidence that we had got from experts indicated that this was a tragedy, a road crash that occurred because of the actions of driving, nothing more." According to Adams, none of the eight people on Dawes' list had been questioned by police. An application for an adjournment from Kershen, to allow for the police to interview the eight people on Dawes' list, was refused. The Essex coroner, Malcolm Wier, ruled that Dawes and his passengers, Michael Lamb and Fiona Newman, died accidentally after Dawes lost control of his car. Outside the hearing, Dawes' sister, Belinda, said her brother made the list in the midst of allegations of insider trading occurred when Micromuse floated on Nasdaq. When the accident happened, Dawes was awaiting trial in Alderney, in the Channel Islands, following being busted for cocaine possession on Boxing Day last year. His £640,000 McLaren hit a tree in Essex at an estimated 120mph in March and exploded after splitting in two. ®
The Register breaking news

Channel 5 swaps ads for new media equity

Britain's youngest terrestrial TV channel, Channel 5, is on the look out for hot new media companies according to a report in the FT today. The fledgling TV company is prepared to offer free advertising on its station in return for an equity stake in any new media company it believes has the potential to be a rip-roaring success. A spokesman for Channel 5 told The Register that it was in talks with a number of companies although he would not comment about a tie-up with a yet-to-be-launched sports portal or "sportal". Although there are any number of reasons why Channel 5 would want to jump into bed with a range of Web companies, there is one that is strikingly obvious. With the imminent arrival of nation-wide broadband access in the UK the TV station would be well suited to providing a content-based service. Bolster that with content from Web-based companies and Channel 5 and its partners have the makings of an interactive service that could rival any of the operators currently touted to adopt ADSL. A spokesman for Channel 5 refused to comment directly on this but said that such an idea "was on the table." ®
The Register breaking news

Demon weathers storm as offices flooded

Updated You can hardly describe the granddaddy of UK ISPs, Demon Internet, as wet behind the ears... but it was on Monday. In fact, it was wet everywhere after a water main burst at its north west London offices. Readers will be relived to hear that the water didn't rise up to the ankles of those Demon workers as they sloshed around trying to mop up the flood. In fact, it fell from above after a pipe ruptured a couple of floors above them. One damp but suitably cheerful floater said everything was now back to normal and denied rumours that the great flood had hit Demon's servers rendering the service waterlogged. No, ah, it was only admin, he said. Stop press In the same week Demon's Gateway House offices were flooded, employees had to be evacuated from another building because of a fire alarm. Drought, famine, rivers of blood and a plague of locusts are due to hit Demon any time now... ®
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Mitnick tries a religion crack

No one can say Kevin Mitnick lacks imagination, persistence, or chutzpah. The legendary hacker, cracker and phone phreaker hopes to wriggle out of his present detention facility because kosher meals are unavailable. Mitnick reportedly refused to eat during the first 48 hours of his incarceration at the San Bernardino County Detention Center, to which he was transferred from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center following sentencing. The MDC is noticeably more commodious than the crummy little county Podunk he's in at the moment, but Mitnick insists that his desire for kosher food is sincere. He is reported to have followed a strict kosher diet throughout his incarceration. US District Judge Marianne Pfaelzer rejected appeals from Mitnick's lawyers that he remain at the MDC, where kosher meals (and smaller cells) are available. His legal team is currently requesting a transfer back to MDC until Mitnick is assigned a permanent home to serve the remainder of his sentence. He is expected to be released in January. The San Bernardino County Detention Center's rabbi, Hillel Cohn, confirmed that the facility doesn't offer kosher meals. But, the good rabbi points out, "[prison] wasn't meant to be a country club." What a comfort he must be to the inmates. ®
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nVidia Q2 revenue rockets up 543 per cent

Games graphics specialist nVidia has recorded a massive 543 per cent increase in year-on-year revenue for its second quarter of fiscal 2000, ended 1 August. The company announced revenues of $78 million, up from just $12 million for the same period (sort of -- it ended on 26 July) last year. It also posted a profit of $6.7 million, compared to the loss of $9.7 million it recorded for Q2 1999. nVidia's latest results are impressive, and clearly show the ongoing success of the company's Riva TNT2 chipset. That said, for Q1 2000, the company posted revenues of $71 million and net income of $6.3 million, so its quarter-on-quarter growth isn't too hot. That suggests the company's success may have reached a plateau -- it will need a major new product release or moves into wider markets to push up growth again. Increasing the scope of nVidia's product range is at least starting to take place, as the company pushes hard to with deals with PC OEMs. It's also working on the successor to the TNT2. The big unknown is the effect of nVidia's new-found friendship with SGI. Quite what the input of the workstation and server vendor's extensive 3D experience will do for nVidia isn't yet clear, but it's certainly going to help it break into higher-end, more lucrative business opportunities and allow it to hold its own in the PC gaming arena. However, the question remains: can nVidia continue to expand without the acquisition of a graphics card manufacturer? Graphics rival ATI has always built its own boards -- one of the reasons for its domination of the market -- and now nVidia's other key competitors, 3dfx and S3, have manufacturing divisions too, respectively STB and Diamond Multimedia. nVidia will probably want to wait to see the fiscal effects of the SGI tie-in and the upcoming TNT3 before committing itself to such a major acquisition -- look what acquiring STB did to 3dfx's profits -- but sooner or later that's a move it will have to consider very seriously indeed. ® Related Stories 3dfx stock drops on ongoing losses Acer to integrate nVidia technology into chip set Testers say TNT2 is a blast Nvidia, SGI bury hatchet
The Register breaking news

Cable giant NTL to buy Workplace

NTL will buy Workplace Technologies for £81 million in a deal worth 228 pence per share. The deal is due to be completed in 28 days' time and will see Workplace become wholly owned by NTL. The offer values Workplace stock 57 per cent higher than its closing middle market price on August 17, the day before the company announced it was in buyout talks. The telecomms provider said the acquisition would improve its data networks business in the UK and Ireland. "With the complementary strengths that Workplace Technologies provides, NTL will be in a position to increase the long-term growth of our business services division and enhance value for our shareholders," said NTL CEO Barclay Knapp. The move coincided with Workplace announcing a pre-tax loss of £300,000 for the six months ended June 30. The loss followed the acquisition of LanBase, which resulted in £1.5 million goodwill costs, and compared to the previous year's £1.3 million profit. The Hertfordshire-based networking reseller posted sales of 56.2 million, compared to the previous year's £40 million. The loss per share was 2.34 pence. Workplace’s share price was up 12 pence to 225 pence this afternoon on the back of the announcement. Yesterday the reseller saw shares jump 46 per cent to 213 after saying it was in takeover talks. ®
The Register breaking news

Silver surfers get own ISP

Middle-aged surfers who are struggling to keep up with the hip and happening pace of the Web are being offered sanctuary by a whippersnapper.
The Register breaking news

Motorola to buy Metrowerks

Motorola today signalled its intention to buy software development tools specialist Metrowerks for $95 million, the company's semiconductor division said today. Metrowerks made a name for itself in the mid-90s with its CodeWarrior integrated development environment (IDE) for Apple's first PowerPC-based Macs. Since then, the company expanded its software to support application development for Windows, Sony PlayStation, Palm, BeOS, Nintendo N64, Solaris, QNX, a stack of embedded CPUs (including Motorola's M-Core and Philips' TriMedia) and, more recently, Red Hat Linux. CodeWarrior is also the official development environment for Nintendo's upcoming Dolphin game console. It's also this reporter's favourite multi-platform development environment. The deal isn't final -- if it doesn't happen, Motorola will be entitles to a $4.7 million payment and a 19.9 per cent stake in the company, a major incentive to Metrowerks to make sure the deal goes through -- but the fact that the two companies are saying it's going to take place indicates they're pretty damn confident it will happen. Early September, Motorola will attempt to buy all outstanding Metrowerks shares for $6.25 apiece. The Metrowerks board has approved the plan -- not surprising, perhaps, since the company's two founders stand to make $11.4 million each on the deal. Motorola said Metrowerks will continue to operate as a standalone company, but it will be interesting to see to what extend the chip developer leverages its ownership of the IDE company to promote sales of its embedded CPUs: buy our chip and get a really great multi-platform development environment. Metrowerks earlier this year separated its Windows and Mac development tools into two standalone products -- previously CodeWarrior's IDE could be hosted on either platform for the development of apps for either platform. ®
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Intel has software to overclock chips

Exclusive The Register has learnt today of a piece of Intel software, run from the DOS command line, which can make chips run at twice the speed. The software, called NEWSPEED.EXE will push processors up to the limit. The software is designed for OEMs and Intel staff themselves, one of whom said he had used it on a 450MHz processor, overclocking it to 550MHz for a year, without anything falling over. We understand that several hardware sites across the world already have copies of the Intel software, and are testing it. Intel's production line makes same family processors and grades them at speeds they think they will perform well at. The fabs typically give some headroom for processors. But the software, which Intel will not release publicly, takes advantage of that headroom to push up clock speeds. ®
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Analogue/digital safe PC cards go on sale

PPCP is to sell what is being called the first range of PC card modems that allow notebook users to connect directly via digital or analogue phones. The three PC card modems can be plugged directly into the handset socket of almost any desktop telephone. Users unplug the handset cord on their phone and plug in one of the modem cards, made by Ositech, which is in turn connected to the laptop. Conventional modems can be fried if they are connected to digital phone sockets. This is why many PC card modems have limited digital line protection. But this in turn stops mobile users going online if they only have access to a digital socket. Ositech has solved this problem by using a Digital Phone Interface which allows users to connect to ordinary analogue and digital sockets. The cards automatically detect when they are connected via a digital system. They come with a software wizard, and users get a menu on their laptop screen which guides them through the connection process. John Nolan, PPCP MD, said: "The Ositech PC cards address a key problem encountered by all notebook PC users – that of not being able to find a suitable socket for connection." The Jack of Spades 56kbps modem and 10/100MB Cardbus Ethernet PC Card with DPI is priced at £226 ex VAT. The Jack of Hearts 56kbps modem and 10BaseT/2 Ethernet PC Card with DPI costs £191, and the Five of Hearts International, a 56kbps modem with DPI PC Card costs £140. ®
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Apple taps Gap for iBook colour scheme

Someone recently described The Gap as the Microsoft of the clothing world. Indeed, but who is The Gap of the IT industry? Step forward, Apple. Now, we don't make this claim simply because the two companies are both considered to be the epitome of cool in their respective markets, but because there are some damn devious similarities in their current product strategies. Take, first, Gap. On the basis of ads the company is began airing on UK TV this week (and, we'd imagine, in the US and around the Globe too), it is pushing two key colours for its Autumn collection: orange and blue. Now consider Apple. It's big autumn push centres on its iBook consumer/education portable which will be made available in several colours, specifically: orange and blue. Does anyone else see the connection? And could this remarkable similarity be linked to the fact that Gap president and CEO Millard 'Mikey' Drexler joined Apple's board earlier this year? At the time, we wondered if this meant Apple would abandon its colourful approach to computer design in favour of khaki cases, but it seems Gap has picked up on Apple's sense of style instead. Coincidence? We think not... ®
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Wearable computer buffs spread the word

Xybernaut, maker of wearable hardware, is launching a newsletter to broadcast news and views about all conceivable events in the wearable PC world. Research information, implementation guidelines and tech support are all covered in the publication. Ed Newman, president and CEO of Xybernaut commented: "We are committed to speeding up the wearable computing paradigm and helping the industry realise its first billion dollar revenue year." But the newsletter is not exclusively shameless self publicity, it is also educational, Newman says. "XyberQuarterly will be targetted at public education, but with a twist," he says. "Unlike other technology leaders with strong intellectual property that keep [it] to themselves, Xybernaut is dedicated to promulgating the entire industry by sharing our experience and technology through strong licencing, technology sharing and cooperative marketing agreements." You can register here for the (free) research info. You will get emails quarterly with a hyperlink to the newsletter. Alternatively, the newsletter is available on paper. Contact cthaler@xybernaut.com for details. If you have forgotten what paper is, go here and look it up. ®
The Register breaking news

Compaq set to fire Alpha NT developers

No longer a rumour Reports were reaching The Register late tonight that Compaq is set to announce a series of layoffs at the Bellevue, WA plant in the US. The team in WA was involved in developing NT for the Alpha platform. If true, the rumours will be a further blow to Compaq. Around this time last year, the company, under the leadership of Eckhard Pfeiffer, proudly boasted the Alpha-NT as its flagship future development platform. Said senior Alpha and DEC analyst Terry Shannon: "While Compaq has yet to officially comment on these reports, I believe Compaq has seen the handwriting on the wall regarding Windows NT on Alpha. The Windows NT OS runs on a relatively small number of AlphaServers (a very low double-digit percentage of the 500K Alpha installed base runs NT) and Compaq accordingly is focusing its NT-related development resources on the Win64 port." Shannon added that Compaq's recent and increasing emphasis on Linux as an Alpha volume expansion solution represents a significant shift in the DEC/Compaq Alpha volume strategy. He said he would not be at all surprised to see Compaq substantially reduce its Windows-on-Alpha development efforts in the very near future. Mr. Shannon, in addition to being an analyst, has a wide following with end users as the editor of Shannon knows Compaq, a title that was formally known as Shannon knows DEC, before the Big Q takeover. Compaq has also outlined its Open VMS strategy, which can be found on Shannon's homepage, above. This is intriguing reading for end users, like what we all are... ®