23rd > October > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Register finds itself in a fine messe again

Systems 99 Every year, one or other of the staffers here at La Registra find themselves on the familiar old stomp to CeBIT in Hangover, the biggest trade show in the known universe but not nearly so much fun since the organisers got rid of the Ferris Wheel. It's the only Messe we've been to but courtesy of the unlikely combination of Fujitsu and Siemens, (the anagram servers have fun with that conjunction), we tipped up early yesterday morning at the ICC Muenchen messe, much more manageable than Hangover's with only 12 enormous halles, but neatly lined up in a long corridor and with fake icebergs stacked up four high on vast iron shelves outside. This is the venue for Systems 99, a venerable show, this one is the 18th, overpopulated by computer companies and telecom companies of all shapes and sizes. CeBIT can be a nightmare for the UK press. When we arrived there this year, even though our Messe record was as long as our arms, we were told that entry to the press facilities was verboten for any online journalists. It took an interview with the boss of bosses before we got accreditation, rather than extradition. This was not a problem at Systems 99. The ladies in the spanking new press office had obviously never come across UK journalists before, so was happy to accept our NUJ press card as a representative accreditation from Blighty. She took a photocopy and added it to her book, which was fine for the next UK hack who tipped up, because he also had an NUJ card. The third, however, fell at the hurdle of precedence we had set. The authorities would not admit him because he didn't have the right credentials. The ladies warmed to us...one said she used to live in London. We said oh, where? She said Slough. She had obviously never read John Betjeman's poem. The show was interesting. You'd expect a vast hall to be full of SAP, Oracle, Baan and their coteries, and sure enough there it was. SAP was majoring on something called MYLITTLE.SAP, presumably a variant on the MYLITTLEPONY theme. But this hall, unlike many of the others, was practically deserted. The next hall down had a huge Microsoft presence, with stacks of bothies occupied by their partners. This hall was very, very busy. But there was an air of hostility about the place...of which more later. On the edge of this hall plucky little QNX had a presence. We picked up a copy of its 1.44Mb bootable OS and GUI with TCP/IP connectivity, but QNX was majoring on some embedded system, in cahoots with Motorola. Nevertheless, a fine young chap said that in early 2000, we will see the company striking a deal with some unnamed PC company (not Gateway), complete with applications. He wouldn't tell us much more, but seemed happy to get off the subject of Volkswagen and Motorola. In search of nicotine relief, we then struck off across the corridor which separates the twelve halls, to discover huge exhibits by IBM/Tivoli/Lotus and vastly populated by visitors of a certain type. The system integration and peripherals halls were buzzing too, although there were some omissions. CompaQ had a huge stand, but we couldn't track down Dell at all. Toshiba and the other usual suspects were showing off their notebooks but without the Pentium III mobile parts Intel will introduce Monday. What was very striking was the huge proliferation of both magazines and companies devoted to e-commerce, the Internet, jobs-on-the-net and the rest. CeBIT had better revise its opinion about this Internet stuff for its biggest ever show, CeBIT 2000. We avoided the Linux Park but paid a virtual visit there thanks to Chris Bidmead, a UK journalist who returned to the people carrier enthusing about the vitality of the exhibitors. He said it was full of penguins (was that what the icebergs were for?), and a large number of Linux and Linux-related companies, all of which showed a great amount of vitality and all, according to his report, apparently united in their hostility to Bill Gates and his work. Mr Bidmead also mentioned a very nice new HP workstation running Linux. So would we go there again? The ICC Systems show is certainly more manageable and easier to get to than CeBIT. But there's little in the way of announcements or new products to report. Munich in October is warmer than CeBIT in March and there are plenty of hotels so you don't have to stay in someone's attic forty miles away from the Messegelande. On the other hand, we seemed to be the only foreign journalists there, and one of the side-benefits of CeBIT used to be that you meet up with colleagues and contacts from vendors and can pick up news stories around the bar area. There isn't a bar at Systems 99, but the beer and the sausages in the press office are free. If you want to check the show out for yourself, it has an Internet presence here. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Das Bootnotes from Muenchen

One ZDNET journalist, without benefit of Weissebier, arrived at the Ratskeller on the Thursday night and thought the top Fujitsu-Siemens guy worked in the beer hall. So when the Fujiemens guy stretched out his hand to greet him, instead the ZD guy handed him his jacket... We had vast trouble connecting to the Internet from our Hilton hotel room on Thursday afternoon, whether we used our Pipex or our Psinet connection. After an hour and a half of this, we felt like we needed a beer from the minibar. Could we find a bottle opener? No. So we switched on the telly only to discover that it had a NatSemi Web Pad connected to it, and we could have just logged into the Reg site from there, for free. And type in our copy. The crunch time came the next morning at check out, when the staff told us we were being charged for a mineral water. Unlikely? You bet. We'd moved the mineral waters out of the way in our unsuccessful attempt to find a bottle opener for the beer and remote sensors interpreted our movements incorrectly... ®
Mike Magee, 23 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Dabs Direct also jumps gun on Intel Coppermines

Online site Dabs Direct has pre-empted Intel's expected announcement of a raft of Coppermine microprocessors this coming Monday by offering them for sale two days early. That follows our story yesterday, when we revealed that UK PC company Mesh was offering systems using the .18 micron processors. Thanks to James Stormont, a reader who noticed that Dabs does not list every processor that Intel will introduce Monday, but instead lists seven or eight of the desktop products. Those include the Pentium III 500E, with 256K of cache and using socket 370, with the sexy Intel code BX80526F500256, for which Dabs is charging £165. It also lists the Pentium III 733EB 256KB S1 with a 133MHz front side bus, which will cost £525, and the 666EB chip, a slot one part, which also has a 133MHz front side bus, and costs £410. The Pentium III 700E with 256K costs £510. Value added tax (VAT) at 17.5 per cent, is added to these prices. You can find the full list by clicking on this tortuous URL. As revealed here earlier, Intel will also introduce mobile and Xeon parts, as well as the i840 chipset. The Register revealed prices and configurations of these parts some weeks ago. A number of links to our previous stories can be found by clicking on this Mesh story. Intel will not comment on unannounced products and prices to journalists, but it seems vendors just can't wait. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwan faces further IT quake woes

Just a month after a serious earthquake hit IT powerhouse Taiwan, the country experienced a fresh quake yesterday. The earthquake, 6.4 on the Richter Scale, was centred near the city of Chiayi in the south of the island. According to the BBC, which reported the quake here there were some injuries but no mortalities. Electricity was cut to 90,000 people in the region. Chiayi is around 120 miles from Taipei, in the south west of the island. It was unclear at press time whether the sensitive fab equipment in the Hsinchu Science Park, halfway between Chiayi and the capital Taipei, was affected by the latest earthquake. At the same time, news has emerged of a tax imposed by mainland China which is set to affect Taiwanese manufacturing. The report says that a withholding tax on foreign materials is primarily aimed at Taiwanese firms manufacturing on the mainland and is intended to encourage the use of domestic components. The tax is repaid after six months. Further, the mainland Chinese government is alleged to be closely examining Taiwanese export documents so that local manufacturers can begin to manufacture parts to fit the bill. Meanwhile, the organisers of the Taiwanese Computex trade show, have posted details of possible shortages of components as a result of the earthquake on the 21st of September. Go here for details. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Oct 1999