14th > November > 1999 Archive
Standing round the water cooler at Lernout & Hauspie, we learnt a fact that made what's left of our hair stand on end... L&H is working on a new fighter/bomber jet in cooperation with Siemens that uses voice recognition software. If a pilot talking to ground control calls someone an idiot, will it eject him from his fighter. And if he says something is a bummer, will it drop the bombs? L&H is also working with a number of car manufacturers and even surgeons using keyhole techniques using speech recognitions. The possibilities are endless.... ®
Kryotech, the cryogenic cooling company, will demo a commercial AMD Athlon system running at 1GHz at Comdex on Tuesday. The Super G system will be used in a number of commercial machines, including Carrera, as we reported two weeks ago. Kryotech said it will demo the system at Booth #L1963 at Comdex on Tuesday. The system has endorsement from Dana Krelle, VP of strategic marketing at AMD's computer products group. He said: "The Super G is another example of the extensive capabilities of the Athlon for setting new levels of performance and speed." AMD had formed a partnership with Kyrotech to produce the 1GHz system, Krelle added. A bare bones system will cost around $2,500, and shipments will begin during this week. A list of its authorised resellers will be posted on its Web site. ®
The perils of Web marketing seem now to have hit Dabs Direct, the supersoaraway sale site. If you turn your browser to this address, you'll see a spectacular offer on the 4.8x DVD IDE OEM (manufacturer code: 2000 00 1312). If you pay VAT, the Creative DVD drive will cost you a penny. But if you don't have to pay value added tax, the part is listed as costing absolutely nothing. This seems to discriminate against people who buy in Europe... We're sure that Dabs will soon remove this "special bargain offer" when they notice either this story or the amount of hits the Web page is getting. Last week, the company's MD, David Atherton, said he was considering dumping most of his catalogue business, because it only brought in one per cent in net profit, in favour of sales on the World Wide Web. Dabs is not the first to make this kind of mistake nor is it likely to be the last. ®
Updated US presidential hopeful Al Gore had backed out of a meeting scheduled with Microsoft staff tomorrow (Monday), but is now reported by US wire services to be back in. The current vice president had been lined up for the meeting prior to the publication of judge Jackson's findings of fact, but this has made the Microsoft campus something of a danger zone for presidential candidates. Gore had said he'd go ahead with the meeting provided Microsoft agreed to make it an open one. Microsoft's policy on meetings with candidates is to have them closed to the press. Obviously this kind of closed forum is going to be tricky for politicians keen to glad-hand the IT business right now, but it would be unreasonable to accuse Microsoft of setting meetings up like this specifically so that its aggrieved staff can beat up the candidates about Freedom to Innovate. But apparently the cancellation of the meeting on Friday was all some kind of mistake. Microsoft has now agreed the press can be there, so Al can come and tell people about the Internet after all. If he gets a chance - quite a few of the relevant press find themselves in Las Vegas for Comdex, where Bill himself is. The difficulties in getting last minute flights out to Seattle plus the last minute nature of the decision may reduce the chances of a media feeding frenzy. But poor old Gore is probably in trouble now anyway. By drawing attention to his Microsoft meet he's now guaranteed that he's going to be asked what he thinks about Microsoft a lot. There's no upside for him in getting involved in the Microsoft antitrust battle at the moment. As the VP he should be backing Janet Reno and the DoJ, but if he backs too hard he'll give his opponents the Freedom to Innovate stick to beat him with. Bill Gates is usually thought of as an apolitical Democrat, but one plausible Microsoft strategy is to stall over antitrust for as long as possible, until George W Bush wins the next election, and then roll back the Reno-Clinton 'government interference.' ®
The new US advert for the AMD Athlon K7 is up there on the company's Web site but one's thing for sure, this one won't show in the UK. Some guy nearly drowns on his coffee as a salesman accompanied by an attractive lass in a silver dress attempt to shock him out of his complacency. The salesman asks if he can re-route a train on track for disaster and demands to know whether he will use a Pentium III or an Athlon to accomplish the miracle. The signaller is making the wrong choice all of the way through the 4Mb presentation, with the lass in the silver dress pouting at him for his boo-boo. The bullet train is heading inexorably towards his office as he's asked to make the decision. The next question for us Brits, we suppose, is whether Railtrack uses Pentiums or Athlons in its signalling networks. The ad wouldn't be allowed on our boxes not for reasons of taste but because direct comparisons in adverts are not welcome here in Blighty. ® * The local basketball team in Lernout & Hauspie's software park in Flanders is called Athlon Ieper (Ypres).