24th > November > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel trashes huge Gateway rebate scheme

Earlier this year we reported that Intel had managed to persuade PC manufacturer Gateway to pull out of producing machines using AMD Athlon processors by offering a large rebate scheme to the company. Details have now emerged about just how much that scheme was worth, and why Gateway, as we reported yesterday, now intends to use the Athlon processor after all. When we first reported on the scheme in summer, it seemed that the deal Intel offered Gateway was worth around $20 million. We now understand, from sources close to both companies, that the deal was worth very much more than that, closer to between $80 million and $100 million. Further, the deal offered Gateway a rebate of $50 for every Intel processor it bought, whether it was a Celeron, a Pentium III or a chip for notebooks. And Intel, unilaterally, decided to pull the rug on this contract some little while back, meaning that Gateway felt free to once more start using AMD processors in its machine. However, the reasons for Intel deciding to end the contract still remain unclear. An Intel representative said he could not comment on specific deals with the company's customers, but said that the Intel Inside marketing scheme had 1,500 members worldwide and since it was set up in 1991 had delivered a sum close to $4 billion in total ad value. Gateway was unavailable for comment. Hardware site AMD Zone has posted reliable information for some weeks that Gateway will use the AMD Athlon in some of its machines. It now says the machines will be launched on the 29th of this month. On that date, AMD will announce its 750MHz Athlon, using .18 micron technology. ® See also AMD suffers further Gateway blow Gateway walks away from AMD Gateway goes AMD AMD pushes date of K6-3 forward No Athlon from Gateway...officially, apparently AMD wins must shiver Intel's timbers
The Register breaking news

Intel missing from 1394 patent pool, believed lost

The IEEE 1394 patent pool has finally got its act together and set up a body to oversee the licensing of the intellectual property central to the connectivity standard. And while 1394's usual suspects can now get on growing support for the technology among PC vendors and consumer electronics manufacturers, they'll be doing so without the backing of Intel. Chipzilla, it seems, has left the building. The 1394 patent pool was created earlier this year after Apple, the developer of the core technology and owner of a stack of 1394 IP, caused a furore by charging third-parties up to $1 per port to incorporate the technology into their own systems. Long-time 1394 supporters Sony, Compaq, Philips, Matsushita, Toshiba and STMicroelectronics called the Mac maker to account and forced it to share not only its IP, but reduce the licensing fees. Administration of 1394 IP licensing is now being handled by the newly formed 1394 LA body, which controls the use of the shared patents and charges 25 cents per system for the privilege. Intel joined the 1394 patent party in May after its formation, although not before it had announced a new version of its Universal Serial Bus technology which it claimed would offer comparable performance to 1394. However, it now appears to have collected its coat and made a discrete exit. One of the 1394 LA's first tasks was to seek independent verification of the degree to which the patents were essential for compliance with the 1394 specifications and their various sub-sets. The head of 1394 LA, Larry Horn, cited by TechWeb, said that there were three possible reasons why Intel plus fellow ex-patent poolers Mitsubishi and Zayante are no longer in the pool: "Either their patents are still in the process of being evaluated, they were declared to have no essential IPs, or they joined the group last May simply to express their support for the concept of a joint licensing program. [But] no conclusions should be directly drawn from this." Three reasons offered and three companies are currently out of the pool -- and he doesn't want anyone to draw conclusions from it? Hmmm. It's not hard to see which of these reasons could easily be applied to Intel. In any case, it suggests Chipzilla was never entirely serious about 1394 in the first place -- it wanted in case it couldn't get USB 2.0 up to spec. in time or at all. Now that it reckons USB 2.0 will hit speeds higher than 1394's current 400Mbps, it doesn't need to work on 1394 and can instead focus its efforts on promoting USB. ® Related Story Double-speed 1394 silicon due in volume by end Q1 2000
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Chinese pledge £75m to turn Shanghai into Silicon Valley

The Chinese are to spend £75 million on re-creating Silicon Valley in their own back yard. Yesterday, China set up the venture capital fund to make Shanghai its IT hub. The cash will be used to assist Internet and IT start-ups. It was thought to have the support of Jiang Mianheng, oldest son of president Jiang Zemin and head of Shanghai's IT office, according to today's Financial Times. The new companies will also be able to take advantage of China's upcoming membership of the World Trade Organisation and forge joint deals with foreign business. "The purpose is to create a Silicon Valley in Shanghai," said Wang Boming, the city council's executive vice president. "The Internet will be a major investment target –- Internet content providers and e-commerce." Several local firms linked to city government will manage parts of the fund, including the Shanghai Venture Capital Corp and Shanghai Industrial. And judging by the number of sex-starved IT bachelors in the real Silicon Valley, this creation could be just what China needs to keep the population explosion down. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD patents chip design…

Patents Boffins working away in the AMD labs have just patented a couple of interesting pieces of technology. The first, which is a superscalar microprocessor including a high speed alignment unit, describes a way of transferring a fixed number of instructions from the instruction cache to each of a plurality of decode units. The full abstract on the patent, which is number 5,991,869, says: "A superscalar microprocessor having an instruction alignment unit, an instruction cache, a plurality of decode units and a predecode unit is provided. The instruction alignment unit transfers a fixed number of instructions from the instruction cache to each of the plurality of decode units. "The instructions are selected from a quantity of bytes according to a predecode tag generated by the predecode unit. The predecode tag includes start-byte bits that indicate which bytes within the quantity of bytes are the first byte of an instruction. The instruction alignment unit independently scans a plurality of groups of instruction bytes, selecting start bytes and a plurality of contiguous bytes for each of a plurality of issue positions. "Initially, the instruction alignment unit selects a group of issue positions for each of the plurality of groups of instructions. The instruction alignment unit then shifts and merges the independently produced issue positions to produce a final set of issue positions for transfer to the plurality of decode units." The second interesting US patent is number 5,991,860. The abstract for this patent says it is: "A method for increasing the size of a root file system on a computer system operating under control of a UNIX type operating system. The computer system includes a first storage device. "The first storage device includes a root partition. The root partition includes a root file system. The method includes booting the computer system to a single user mode, increasing the size of the root partition and the root file system without reinstalling the UNIX type operating system, and rebooting the computer system." ®
The Register breaking news

Novell number up as Schmidt prepares recovery phase three

Novell has turned in revenue of $345 million in its fourth quarter, up from $298 million in the year-earlier quarter, and $327 million in Q3. Net income was $74 million compared with $43 million a year earlier, and $49 million in Q3. Novell's FY ends on 31 October. For the fiscal year, Novell made $1.155 billion (up 30 per cent on FY98), with net income of $191 million (up 87 per cent on FY98). By product category in Q4, NetWare produced $176 million, directory-enabled applications reached $90 million (ZENworks, BorderManager and NDS for NT), while service, training and consultancy produced $50 million. Novell's older products contributed $29 million, or just 9 per cent of revenue. EMEA sales were up 29 per cent in Q4, Asia Pacific was up 31 per cent, and the US up 7 per cent. The Americas excluding the USA increased 32 per cent in the quarter. In the analysts call, CEO Eric Schmidt was clearly happy that "the strategy continues to work" and anticipated moving into phase three of Novell's recovery. Phase one was the turnaround, which Schmidt said was reached last September with the launch of NetWare 5, while phase two was growth based on its traditional business model. Phase three would include the exploitation of intranet services, which would include a mix of NDS growth, and eDirectory which was announced at Comdex, initially for NetWare, Solaris and NT4, but planned in the first half of next year for Linux, Tru64 and Windows 2000 ("when and if it shows up", Schmidt remarked enigmatically). Novell and Sun recently announced a joint marketing agreement for NDS eDirectory. Schmidt also foresaw a considerable growth in consultancy. Novell says it has now aligned its marketing and product development, with co-ordination responsibility under one person. The company had also bought back $403 million of its shares in the year, spent $114 million on venture capital projects, and had $895 million in cash. In addition, the company has $61 million in unrealised gains, compared with $64 million in unrealised losses last year. The Corel shares Novell acquired when it disposed of WordPerfect were evidently sold just too soon to gain from the considerable increase in Corel's share price, mostly related to its Linux announcement. Schmidt said that Novell's role is to be the broadest supplier of Web infrastructure products - what is being called internally "in the flow, in the Net services". A major revenue growth area in the coming years is expected to be network caching products, with Novell now having 12 OEM partners for its Internet Caching Service, including Compaq, Dell, Hitachi, IBM, Legend (China), NEC, and Toshiba. Novell also intends to enter new software product categories, particularly Internet-related areas that are still in an embryonic stage. These include e-commerce infrastructure, personal identity control, policy-based management, cache management, and public key security. ®
The Register breaking news

Suit trails $30 billion tab for MS Windows ‘over-charging’

Telephone numbers far too long to remember are beginning to be tacked onto the class action lawsuits being launched against Microsoft, on behalf of lucky American consumers - the latest, filed in Ohio yesterday by attorney Stanley Chesley, is based on the premise that the Beast of Redmond has contrived to extract $10 billion in excess pricing by over-pricing Windows. Chesley's day job seems to include beating the crap out of the tobacco companies, so he knows about huge piles of money, and the way things have been going in recent years (as far as tobacco goes, anyway) has no doubt led him to believe that he knows how to extract it, too. Speaking to Reuters yesterday he claimed to have estimates that Microsoft had over-charged US consumers by $10 billion, and happily suggested that a win in the lawsuit would result in a tripled award of - phew - $30 billion. But as far as the territory covered in the current antitrust case is concerned, Chesley's numbers are almost certainly too high. One of the more thorough estimates of Microsoft overcharging, published last January and reported in The Register here, was carried out by the Consumer Federation of America. This came up with a total tab of $10 billion, but did so on the basis of the estimated total increase on Microsoft's per-PC revenue for bundled software. That included applications, and you may recall that although the US states' lawsuit intended to pursue Microsoft in the applications market originally, this aspect was dropped from the suit when it was consolidated with the DoJ's. So even if Judge Jackson's final (?) verdict establishes consumer harm, it will only do so in the OS market - consumer harm for applications remains to be proved. Nevertheless, the ambulance-chasing attorneys and maybe the odd PC OEM (if they're hard enough) could well find their thoughts turning to apps as they chase the really big money. The Consumer Federation of America study reckoned that Microsoft's per-PC revenue rose from $25 in 1990 to $62 in 1996 (and wouldn't fresher figures be interesting). That increase has been caused by the bundling of Windows with the OS, followed by its integration (allowing the total price to go down while stopping you buying just the OS), and by the additional bundling of applications. Effectively, the increase in Microsoft's per-PC revenue has been achieved via bundling of more and more products. It hasn't entirely been compulsory to bundle the apps, but as the trial evidence clearly shows there has undoubtedly been pressure on OEMs to go with Microsoft applications rather than, say, Lotus. So the application-based lawsuit really ought to come, because Microsoft's sales come in large part via the OEM channel, and because it's actually difficult to quantify harm if you don't consider apps sales, which are deeply bound into OS sales. ®
The Register breaking news

Your daily PC horoscope

AMD You will meet a tall, elderly gentleman who so closely resembles the man from KFC that you buy a bucket of chicken before you remember you just wanted chips. Intel You will meet a tall, young gentleman who works in the spin paramedic department and attempts to give you the kiss of life even though you aren't gasping for breath. Compaq You will meet a tall, middle-aged gentleman who claims he used to be the CEO of the company and has an interesting hair style. NatSemi You will meet a tall story about how a chip called Geode is going to trash Intel. Dell You will meet a tall building that looks like a castle and is inhabited by a multimillionaire. Microsoft You will boot up your PC and discover that your hard drive keeps running out of space because of all the redundant DLLs in your C:\WINDOWS directory. You will desparately try to find out how to fix this but you will fail miserably. IBM You will meet a pair of intelligent boots walking down the sidewalk which belong to a man who looks suspiciously like a biscuit executive. Apple You will meet a very handsome and self-confident man at the Palladium theatre in the heart of London's throbbing West End and only a stone's throw from Vulture Central who will tell you about an exciting new piece of hardware called the NeXT platform. You will meet him again after Gil Amelio and Ellen Hancock leave Apple. Oracle You will meet a pair of shoes worth more than your entire wardrobe attached to the legs of a man who never seems to stop talking. HP You will meet a tall handsome woman who used to work for a company with a very strange logo and is all for diversity. Rambus Nothing will happen to you today. Computacenter You will win an award at a razzmatazz show in exciting Battersea which confirms that you are, essentially, a giant dealer. If it's your birthday today You were born on the 24th of November. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel Cape Cod mobo stinks

Yeah, we know you're all bored to death with Caminogate® stories, but this one will really get up Chipzilla's nose. The much-delayed, blah, blah, blah, i820 chipset finally saw the light of day in cut-down form, both the Rambus Vancouver (VC820) and SDRAM Cape Cod being restricted to a maximum of 512MB of RAM. There are still problems getting hold of the Rambus jobo, however. Because the i820 chipset was designed for Rambus, the PC100 CC820 mobo has a Memory Translator Hub (MTH) to act as a go-between for the CPU and the memory. And guess what? The MTH puts a hit on performance. A big hit. Postings on the Intel motherboard forum cite a memory performance degradation of between 30 and 40 per cent when moving from a BX mobo to a Cape Cod. The VC820 Rambus version should be a tad faster, but with RDRAM costing around four times as much as PC100 memory, you'd have to be bonkers to go down that route. Our advice? Stick with the BX chipset. It may be old, only support 100MHz FSB and AGP 2X, but hey, it works. ®
The Register breaking news

Net user leap on leaked ISP freefone number

An undisclosed number of Net users managed to gain unauthorised freephone access to the Net last night following the leak of confidential information yesterday. Although not the most auspicious start to a new venture, Tom Defty, MD of new kid on the block ISP City Connections, said that last night's assault only cost the company just £254. The 0800 number -- published on a variety of newsgroups yesterday -- has now been shut down, he said, and he denied that the whole episode was a stunt to seek publicity for the service. In a statement Defty said: "I am deeply disappointed by this breach of security... but I can assure you that the service will still be launching on 1 December." At this stage there's still some confusion surrounding the identity of the person who originally leaked the 0800 freephone number. Defty said that BT Security told him it originated from someone with a "BT Corporate account". But a spokesman for BT disputed this. He said he was unaware that the matter had even been reported and after investigating the matter said that the person who leaked the material was from outside the company. That aside, Defty has released information on the new ISP and what it will offer. It seems London-based Easynet will provide the backbone to the service and instead of using 0845 or 0800 numbers to access City Connections, the ISP will employ 150 '01' numbers across the country instead. Using phone companies such as NTL, Telewest, C&W, Transnet and Euphony, Defty claims this will allow users to be eligible for 'free-call access' during off-peak periods. "The service will cost £11.75 per month," said Defty. "But if you have a banner (optional) at the bottom of your screen you will receive £10 back per month," he said. The ISP has also embarked on a multi-million TV and radio advertising campaign to advertise the service, Defty said. ®
The Register breaking news

Police to investigate hack attack on Tory bank accounts

The Tory party has called in the cops to investigate whether its bank accounts have been hacked. The move follows the Times' investigation into the party's treasurer, Michael Ashcroft, who it accused of laundering drug money through his interests in Belize. The newspaper based its story on Ashcroft's confidential bank statements, and also discovered donations to party coffers from a Belize bank –- going against the Conservatives' pledge to ban foreign donations. However, it remains a mystery how the Times gained access to the accounts, leading the Tory party to believe it had been the victim of a hacker. This set off a chain reaction of accusation, denial and general paranoia which is still going on as we speak. Tory chairman Michael Ancram is leading the pack: it's all a dirty tricks campaign, he said, before launching into a mad tirade about a climate of fear, silenced dissidents, smeared opponents and lust for power. William Hague –- not exactly the greatest judge of character –- has come in to give his full backing to whoever wants it, but presumably will slope off before it all goes belly up; tory deputy chairman Tim Collins has gone for the calm approach but forgotten to include any logic in his arguments; Times editor Peter Stothard denies any knowledge of wrongdoing; and the Labour party is so smug it's painful. The only person not getting his tuppence worth is the man behind it all, Michael Ashcroft. He appears to have vanished of the face of the Earth. ®
The Register breaking news

Motorola to demo 780MHz PowerPC G4+

Motorola is set to discuss its second-generation PowerPC G4 line next February at the IEEE International Solid-state Circuits conference, to be held in San Francisco. The chip, the PowerPC G4+, was announced last month at Microprocessor Forum, and is the product of a major attempt by Motorola to catch up with the x86 world's lead in megaHertz. The PowerPC family has always been rather faster than x86 chips of equivalent clock speed, but of late x86 frequencies have shot so far ahead of PowerPC's that the Motorola chip has ended up looking decidedly underpowered. Whether Motorola will demonstrate the chip in action remains to be seen. However, the PowerPC design team members presenting their paper at the ISC conference will detail its operation at up to 780MHz. That's disappointing. When the chip was first discussed, Motorola said it would operate at around 700MHz but "with plenty of headroom for where we want to go", meaning scope for much higher clock speeds. The extra 80MHz doesn't seem that much headroom, frankly. Still, there's some way to go before the chip ships -- the current G4 was discussed at last year's ISC conference, and shipped in August -- so Motorola may well get the clock speed up a little higher. That will be essential given AMD and Intel are already shipping 700MHz-plus CPUs, with 800MHz and up coming next year. Still, getting PowerPC to within spitting distance of that, given the chip's inherent architectural superiorities, is clearly a very positive move. The abstract for Motorola's ISC paper offers little more information about the G4+ than we knew already -- its dual (instruction and data) 32K L1 caches, 256K on-die L2 and support for up to 2MB of backside L3 cache were revealed at Microprocessor Forum. However, we do now know that the chip will be rather bigger than the current G4, hitting 105mm squared, up from 82mm squared. So despite a move to a smaller 0.18 micron fabrication process, Motorola is cramming in a lot more transistors onto the die, primarily to accommodate the L2 cache and the chip's three extra AltiVec vector processing engines. It will also sport two extra integer units. ® Related Stories Motorola pledges fix for G4 supply problems this quarter Apple hit by 'PowerPC G4 can't reach 500MHz' bug
The Register breaking news

HP to intro non-i840 workstations on 13 December

The Intel i840 chipset seems to be dogged by the shadow of Caminogate, if the latest information from HP is anything to go by. A representative from HP US today confirmed that his company will introduce single and dual workstations based on the RCC (Reliance) chipset on the 13th of December, rather than on the i840 Intel chipset. He said that the machines will use Intel Coppermine technology at high speeds and that the reason HP has chosen RCC, which uses synchronous memory (SDRAM) rather than Direct Rambus memory, is because high end users get faster throughput with the former memory devices. He also denied reports on US wire news.com that there was no great take-up of the Cascades Xeon technology Intel released earlier. In contrast, he said HP was committed to providing high end Intel chips in its Visualize line of workstations and was considering upping its manufacturing in the middle of next year to cope with increased demand for x.86 based machines. HP will use Copperhide, which he described as the lower end version of Coppermines using the i820 chipset, although he said the faster speeds, such as 733MHz, were unlikely to arrive until the beginning of next year. Intel also denied there was poor takeup of Xeon technology and said that market research company IDC had recently published a report showing the gains x.86 technology is making in the workstation space. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel to demo 1GHz IA-32 chip Feb 2000

Chip giant Intel will demonstrate a 1GHz IA32 processor at a semiconductor conference early next year, it has emerged. The company will use 2000 IEEE International Solid State Circuits conference, which starts on the 7th of February in San Franciso, to outline the features of the processor, which is likely to be the long-awaited (and late) Willamette chip. And Intel is sticking to aluminium for the interconnects rather than copper, according to the programme. A boffin from Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, will demonstrate a 25 million plus .18 micron six layer aluminium interconnect chip. The performance is achieved using a combination of interconnect aspect ratio optimisation, low-K dielectric and design timing optimisation. Intel says that the design effort is low, compared to the same design with copper interconnect. AMD will beat them to the gun. Sources close to the company say that it will be able to launch a 1GHz Athlon in January, if it so chooses. ®
The Register breaking news

Free! CDs, PCs, books, cars, chairs, whatever…

UK ecommerce minister Kim Howells has unveiled government proposals that will see Internet traders sent to jail if they fail to make consumers aware of their rights. And for good reason since the proposals will also give purchasers the right to change their mind within seven days. Called the Distance Selling Directive, the paper forms part of the government's 'confident consumers' programme which forms part of the ongoing push for ecommerce. For a purchase to be completed it will have to need to be confirmed in writing, contain a seven-day cooling off period and be completed within 30 days. It will also look at legal powers against spam email. This is a good deal for ecommerce since distance buying is very much a matter of trust, and it will shift power back to the consumer. But with the consumer able to withdraw from the contract for any reason, unscrupulous individuals may be tempted to use the new rights as a way of trying out products for free for a week. 'Hire' a camcorder for a wedding or 'tire' of a particular CD, the law's on your side. Not that the idea is new. Argos has been offering a similar service but with an extended 28-day return policy for years. That's why this reporter's friends are still certain there is the top-of-the-range Formula One Scalextric somewhere about the house. Ahem... ®
The Register breaking news

Y2K more important to MS than DoJ case, says exec

John Leftwich, Microsoft marketing vp for EMEA, has been reported as saying in Dubai yesterday that "We are more worried about Y2K" than the antitrust action at present being tried in Washington. Leftwich was in Dubai for talks about Dubai Internet City. Dubai wishes to become the Middle East technology capital, and the DUBAI.COM project is being kicked off by an investment of $200 million in Dubai Internet City. Leftwich, who started his career as a bus conductor in Leeds, also noted yesterday that the DoJ case was "likely to go to the appeals court, and then if we are not successful to the Supreme Court." He evidently was unfamiliar with the Antitrust Expediting Act which allows the DoJ to seek to have the case appealed directly to the Supreme Court, so by-passing the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where Microsoft has scored several successes with the judges who support the Chicago School. It is looking highly probable that this right of transfer will be used, especially with Judge Jackson's reappointment of Lawrence Lessig to write an amicus curiae brief. His appointment as a special master in 1997 was stayed by the appellate court after an objection by Microsoft to his alleged bias, which Lessig strongly denied in an affidavit. It was less than a year ago that Leftwich and other Microsoft speakers were telling attendees at the Windows 2000 deployment conference in Nice in private that "NT 2000 has to be ready to ship before 3Q of 1999, and if not we are going to lose our jobs". But Ed Muth, group product manager for Windows 2000, was saying: "Y2K will be NT4.0 for most companies. Use SP4 (Y2K support)." It sounds as though Muth then suspected that Windows 2000 would not be released until 2000. ®
The Register breaking news

Compaq to take $250m hit against next half-year's profits

Compaq is already clocking up expenses against profits for the next six months, with plans to take up to $250 million in charges. The US vendor tucked the one-time charges -- a $50-100 million sum against Q4 earnings, and an additional $100-150 million charge against Q1 charges for 2000 -- deep into the bowels of a financial report. But Big Q was unable to escape detection, and it has emerged that the charges will cover costs over its plan to stop offering Windows NT on its Alpha servers and workstations, according to Information Week. This scheme, announced earlier this year, involves customers who have bought Alpha/NT kit getting up to a 90 per cent credit towards a spanking new Intel/NT system. Alternatively, users can stay on Alpha and get a free upgrade to an Open VMS, Tru64 Unix or Linux OS. Compaq was able to keep these charges a secret when it issued its Q3 figures on 26 October by tucking them into a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These documents do not have to be filed in full until 45 days after a company's financial quarter has ended. Compaq execs were no doubt hoping this cunning plan would save their skins. In April, Compaq's failure to warn analysts that profits would fall short of expectations helped speed the exit of ex-CEO and president Eckhard Pfeiffer. Compaq confirmed the charges would be taken, with a representative saying the total would depend on how many customers used the program to switch products from Alpha. ®
The Register breaking news

Net monitor exposes users' online actions

A French Internet company reckons it's devised the ultimate research tool to find out what people are really doing online. NetValue has teamed up with information provider Taylor Nelson Sofres to develop a monitoring system that is completely invisible to ordinary users. Once the software is installed it monitors every single keystroke a user makes, recording the online habits of those who've volunteered to be scrutinised so closely. Freeserve, Trinity Mirror Group, Microsoft and Yahoo! are among a number of companies queuing up to subscribe to NetValue's research. Although the under-the-microscope survey has only been running for a month or so in the UK, NetValue has come up with some interesting stats. For instance, 98.9 per cent of those surveyed in the UK use the Net to access the Web; 11.3 per cent inhabit chat rooms; 40.5 per cent loiter around newsgroups and 21.6 per cent indulge in instant messaging. Despite the 'Big Brother' approach, Alki Manian, NetValue's UK and Ireland MD, says that this approach provides a true picture of what people are really doing on the Net. As proof, he said around half of all Web sites visited were adult sites. Could this be a cyber form of exhibitionism? ®
The Register breaking news

Dell site dragged back up after unplanned downtime

Dell's Web site was resurrected today after a networking glitch caused hours of lost Internet sales. According to the direct seller, the site was inaccessible from the early hours of yesterday morning and was only believed to have affected the US. And the problems happened during Thanksgiving week, traditionally the time the Christmas spending spree kicks off in the US. It was not revealed for how exactly how long the site was out of action. Today, the Texas-based vendor blamed a routine technical operation for the problem with its newly redesigned sales portal, which normally hauls in a cool $30 million in revenue per day. "We are aware that www.dell.com is not accessible to many Internet users," it said in a statement. "The problem, which resulted from a routine networking procedure, is in the interface between the Dell network and Internet service providers. "The issue has nothing to do with the dell.com site itself, the recent redesign/relaunch of dell.com or the hardware or software on which it runs." CNet readers complained of similar problems with the site last weekend, which Dell said it was not aware of. Dell redesigned its Web site over the first weekend in November. It conducts over 40 per cent of its business via the Web. ®
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Fujitsu Siemens launches first post-merger notebooks

Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) today launched its contributions to the European mobile computer market. FSC is shipping three lines under the LifeBook brand, its first notebook products since the company cemented its union on 1 October. The LifeBook S series is based on the Pentium III 450MHz, with a 6GB hard drive, 64MB memory and 12.1in TFT screen. It measures 228 x 225 x 24.5mm and weighs 1.7kg. It is priced at Euro 2599 (£1646) and FSC claims it is the lightest PIII-based notebook on the market. The B2130, from the LifeBook B series, has an Intel Celeron 400MHz, 6GB hard drive, 10.4in TFT with touch screen and 64MB memory. It is 250 x 197 x 28.5mm and weighs 1.4kg. It costs Euro 1999 euros (£1266). The third range the company launched today was the C series, with Celeron 400 MHz or Pentium II 366MHz. These machines have a 4.3GB hard drive, with either 2MB (Celeron) memory and 12.1in TFT screen, or 64MB (Pentium II) and 14.1in TFT. It measures 308 x 273.5 x 39.5mm, weighs 2.7kg and costs Euro 1299 (£822). All machines come with built-in V.90 modem and Windows 98 and NT. The only component in the machines not made by either Fujitsu or Siemens was the Intel chip, the company said. And as most of the technology used in the machines was developed by Fujitsu, the same product lines will also soon be launched worldwide by that company. Nick Stacey, VP of FSC Mobile Business, said the company sold almost one million notebooks in Europe during Q3. When asked what Siemens' contribution was to today's launch, Stacey commented on the German company's channel strength and understanding of the corporate market place. ®