19th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Dell fires AMD Zone editor – Register blamed

Co-founder of AMD Zone, Chris Tom, has been forced to find a new job because his former employer, Dell, considered his interest in the Athlon was a conflict of interest.
The Register breaking news

Lotus goes mobile, integrates Outlook

Judging from the sold-out Lotusphere meeting in Orlando, Lotus seems to have regained some of the momentum it's been lacking in recent months. The announcement of Lotus Mobile Notes for handheld and wireless devices was somewhat overdue, and although Mobile Services for Domino is shipping, and Mobile Notes access to it is slated for Q1. At very long last, proper calendar printing from Notes is included in the latest release. In Q4, Lotus added 8.5 million new Notes users, to bring the total to 56 million. There were 22 million new users in 1999. According to IDC, Lotus has 41 per cent of the messaging market, Microsoft 34 per cent, and Novell 18 per cent at the end of 1999. It was both a little surprising yet understandable that Lotus should have decided to offer MS Outlook as an alternative client for Domino Server. Jeff Papows said that "we have not conceded the client market here, not one inch" but credited Outlook as being "a good product". These statements are of course probably included in the text of the legal agreement between Lotus and Microsoft as compulsory mutual-respect mantras. The guiding hand of IBM is also evident. Papows hinted that Lotus expects to pick up a decent number of Office users for Domino, although some users will no doubt move away. IBM continues its totally agnostic role, looking to the make money wherever it can, whether from software, hardware or services. No details have been given so far about the deal over Outlook, although Jeff Papows (who does not depart until the end of the month), said that it had been "hard work" to arrive at the deal, and that it was based on "mutual respect". The newly-announced i-Notes will integrate the browser with Outlook for PCs not using Notes. Lotus describes this as offering increased capabilities, rather than backing down, but it's a matter of semantics. Perhaps surprisingly, Lotus showed some voice command technology that it has developed, but the demo in Orlando did not work very well. Instant translation is also being offered. Papows admitted that Lotus had been slow in the ASP market, but had woken up to the opportunity. The venerable cc: Mail will be supported for another year, but is likely to be retired next year. Lotus also promises to introduce a new and simpler pricing model, so that customers "don't have to be quite the rocket scientist they have had to be in the past". For the record, Papows did not claim that he had been a rocket scientist. ®
The Register breaking news

MS Windows and OEM sales slow in $6bn Q2

Microsoft's Q2 results, announced last night, show a slowing of both revenue, net income, and income per share, but as usual, this is not the way it will be reported. With Microsoft's revenue being closely correlated with new products and PC sales, it is more logical to compare sequential quarters rather than year-earlier quarters, whether that's the way Wall Street does it or not, since it gives a better picture of trends in a fast-moving industry. But even year-on-year, there is no doubt that Microsoft's growth rate is slowing substantially. Revenue was $6.11 billion for the second quarter ending 31 December, up 14 per cent sequentially and 18 per cent on the year-earlier quarter. Net income was $2.44 billion, up just 11 per cent sequentially and 22 per cent on the year-earlier quarter. Perhaps the most significant observation is that Q1 results were also around a third down on the previous quarter, so there is a marked trend downwards. Earnings per share were 44 cents, with CFO John Connors suggesting in the conference call that Q3 could see only 41 cents for the next two quarters. Of course the game is to beat expectations and get the usual headlines to impress investors. Microsoft's cash and fluid investments were $17.8 billion, little changed in the quarter. During the quarter, Microsoft bought 43 million of its own shares for $3.8 billion at an average price of $89. The main trading trend was that Windows sales were down more than expected (an increase of just 6 per cent year-on-year), but applications - mostly Office - were up more than expected. Connors put this down to a mixture of Y2K (resulting in PC sales being down) and Windows 2000 hold-offs. OEM revenue was up only 4 per cent year-on-year, and there has been a decline of 35 per cent to 31 per cent in OEM revenue as a percentage of business, caused of course by Microsoft's corporate licensing programmes. The consumer division was still making a loss and is expected to make a loss next quarter Connors said, despite a 23 per cent increase year-on-year. Consumer revenue is expected to pass the $1 billion mark, but the losses are not being disclosed. The Caldera settlement had to be included in Q2 because of accounting rules, although it came after the end of the quarter. Connors would not be drawn, even by Rick Sherlund of Goldman Sacks, to say anything more than it cost Microsoft three cents a share. However, the accounts show that "General and administrative expenses" went up from $143 million to $506 million between the first and second quarters of the financial year. Connors said that the increase was primarily from the Caldera settlement, but there were also higher legal fees, and part of the increased cost of stock option charges resulting from accounting for social factors, as was now required. Examining this, we know that legal fees for US v Microsoft would have been lower in the quarter, as less work was needed. Other cases were also quieter, except for Caldera v Microsoft, so we can reasonably discount any non-Caldera-related legal costs. The stock option costs would be just for employees in the general and administrative division, which has relatively few people, so let's estimate $50 million (out of $400 million for the whole company) for this. This would make the cost of the Caldera settlement to Microsoft perhaps $350 million, but hardly less than $300 million, which is considerably above the $150-to-$250 million estimates that were being made on the basis of 3 cents/share that Microsoft was budgeting. As we pointed out at the time, Microsoft did not say that the cost was actually just 3 cents/share, but only said what it would do to its accounts. It should be remembered that the accounts Microsoft released yesterday are unaudited, and that it is the annual accounts that are audited. In the miscellaneous information department, it was said in the conference call for financial analysts that SQL outsold Oracle by three to one, so far as units were concerned, but of course SQL is much less expensive. No precise date was given for the release of SQL Server 2000, or Exchange Server 2000, other than "in the next nine months". WebTV was said to have more than a million subscribers. There is a new contract in place in California and Oregon, following a Microsoft legal error, since in those states users were able to buy kit and return it, but still hang on to a $400 rebate that Microsoft was offering if the user signed up to MSN and bought some kit. Windows 2000 would result in no spike in consumer sales, Connors said, with related revenue in the next quarter being small as the product will only appear half-way through the quarter. Although there have been a few pre-release sales (the revenue from which will not be recognised until after the official release, Connors said), it is strange that Microsoft has been talking in terms of there being any revenue, since as Connors admitted during the conference call, it takes at least 30 days to get the revenue from OEMs. Connors was looking for strong sales in Q4 as a result of Windows 2000, which contradicted his guidance about income per share in the next two quarters. Connors was pressed to break out sales of Office from non-Office sales (mostly tools), but he declined to do this. Nor would he be drawn on OEM prices for Windows 2000, other than to agree that they would be "similar" to NT4 pricing. CEO Steve Ballmer's contribution to the announcement was to say that "Software is the key to the future", which reminds us of the Chinese aphorism that prediction is difficult, especially with respect to the future. ®
The Register breaking news

Lotus lashes out over MS Exchange v Domino test

What had been a little local skirmish between Microsoft and Lotus over Notes may be escalating into a war, despite the fixed smiles of chumminess following Lotus' decision this week to offer MS Outlook with Notes. Microsoft had of course hoped that Notes would fall to Exchange as had 1-2-3 fallen to Excel many years earlier, but it didn't happen. From time to time, Microsoft ran a campaign to show that "independent research" purported to prove that Exchange Server was "preferred by IT administrators", was "easier, faster than Lotus Domino" or that it "outperformed" Domino. The skirmishes were punctuated by announcements that Lotus and Microsoft would "promote interoperability on the Web" with IE4 (July 1997), or integrate Windows Media Technologies into Lotus Notes and Domino" (last September). The recent trouble started on 10 January when Microsoft announced that "an independent laboratory test" showed that "Exchange leads in email performance". It turned out that the lab was ZD Labs. After disclaiming any responsibility for "the accuracy and validity of its testing... test results and analysis, their accuracy completeness or quality" (although "reasonable efforts" had been made), the ZD report went on to make what Lotus claimed were serious blunders; in a response just published, the company says that Microsoft's "press release is misleading, and the tested Domino configuration is flawed". The details of five "inaccurate statements" in Microsoft's press release are documented in the Lotus response, but a further accusation is that an unidentified "leading multinational consulting firm" (can any Register reader tell us who?) hired to tune the Domino server did not understand what it was doing. No prizes for guessing who suggested that Exchange be set up with "the operating system, swap and binaries on one drive set and the data on the other". But the Domino test was done without consulting Lotus, which says the sub-optimal setting up the "operating system, binaries (Domino executables), swap file, and Domino data on the same controller, and the last two on the same drive set" was pretty certain to ensure that Exchange won. Microsoft tried to get Lotus to endorse the study afterwards, but Lotus wanted a broader test to which Microsoft would not agree. Reading between the lines, it looks as though Microsoft had found one particular setup in which Exchange either beat Domino or came close to it, and that it was not about to surrender this straw. There were some barbs in the Lotus response: although Microsoft had claimed that "all tests were done using SMTP, POP and IMAP protocols" the testing excluded IMAP, evidently because Exchange has "a limit of 2,500 users per server". Lotus also pointed out that Microsoft has stopped claiming that Exchange is an "email and collaboration server", and calls it just an email server that has as its main feature "a transacted database for full recovery". That's not all however. Lotus pointed out that Exchange is usually configured with 250 to 500 mailboxes per server (or less - the Merrill Lynch Exchange 5.5 deployment has 70,000 users with 700 servers). Lotus also noted that users should be sceptical of any claim for 5,000 or more users on a single server, and that anybody seeking a reference site should email Mike Tuchen, the Microsoft product manager who sponsored the study. ®
The Register breaking news

MS cites Python to support sweeping copyright claims

MS on Trial Microsoft fired its antitrust trial return shot yesterday, claiming of course that it had violated no law, but also setting out its stall on copyright, using a 1976 action involving Monty Python as a precedent. In earlier documents, evidence and executive briefings Microsoft has made its position on copyright pretty clear, but yesterday's Proposed Conclusions of Law flesh this out considerably. Essentially, Microsoft's position is that clear that the entirety of the Windows product it ships, in the form it decides to ship it in, is a work of art, and that the integrity and totality of this work of art is protected by copyright. This is the cunning scheme it came up with when it hatched the Windows Experience concept, and it's the one now embedded in Microsoft OEM agreements, as doggedly defended during the trial by OEM chief and trigger-happy son of a gun Joachim Kempin. The Proposed Conclusions argue that: "The challenged provisions of Microsoft's OEM licence agreements simply restate Microsoft's rights, as the holder of valid copyrights, to preserve the integrity of its copyrighted works." Several cases, including the Python one, Gilliam v ABC, and one ruled on by the current antitrust mediator Judge Richard Posner, are cited in support of this. Gilliam v ABC successfully blocked ABC's broadcast of edited versions of three Python skits, with the court saying: "unauthorised editing of the underlying work, if proven, would constitute an infringement of the copyright in that work." Posner ruled against a similar instance in WGN Continental Broadcasting v United Video, while another precedent cited by Microsoft covers the unauthorised addition of advertising material to a book. It's no accident that most of the precedents cited are video and print publishing cases, rather than software. When it comes to the central monopoly-antitrust issue, of course, Microsoft's position on copyright is neither here nor there - but nevertheless, the sweeping ownership rights it says it has already established constitute a heavy ball and chain for OEMs and customers. According to the Proposed Conclusions: "Microsoft's OEM licence agreements have always prohibited OEMs from modifying or deleting any part of Windows without Microsoft's permission." This means that anything Microsoft says is a part of Windows can't be interfered with by OEMs. This includes IE, but it could also, as Microsoft conceded during the trial, include Office, if Microsoft decided to "integrate" it. It also, as the Proposed Conclusions and the Windows Experience plan make clear, includes the bootup sequence and initial look and feel of the system. Say the Conclusions: "In the spring of 1996, Microsoft added in express provision to its OEM licence agreements requiring that OEMs allow Windows to execute its initial startup sequence the very first time a new machine is turned on and to display the Windows desktop as designed, developed and tested by Microsoft." ® You have been Warned MS exec in shock Windows is great white whale claim What MS OEM agreements really say Kempin Gunplay MS exec's hunting trip: illegally chased and shot 4 antelopes
The Register breaking news

Linux guru set to topple Intel

Not content with winning the 1999 Formula 1 World Championship and reducing Microsoft to a mere shadow of its former self, Linus Torvalds now has his sights set firmly on putting Intel out of business. Torvalds, along with the terribly rich financier George Soros and the even terribly richer Paul Allen of Microsoft, will unveil …
The Register breaking news

SGI, Nvidia, VA to port OpenGL 1.2 to Linux

VA Linux Systems, Nvidia and SGI are to bring workstation-class graphics to Linux through the joint development of an OpenGL 1.2-based 2D and 3D graphics acceleration sub-system. Long-time collaborators Nvidia and SGI will provide Nvidia's GeForce 256 3D graphics chip -- presumably in its pro-oriented Quadro form -- and the first official version of OpenGL 1.2 on Linux. OpenGL, while a de facto standard 3D rendering technology, isn't open source, and so has only made an appearance on Linux in the form of technologies such as Mesa, which essentially provide an OpenGL-style API. And they work very well -- the only snag is that, not being official ports of the SGI technology, they can't claim to be 100 per cent OpenGL compatible, primarily because they can't be put through SGI's compliance testing procedure. To be able to claim at last that it has a fully compatible implementation of OpenGL is a major step forward for Linux as a graphics workstation platform. And we can probably look forward to product announcements targeting that sector from VA and quite possibly SGI too, now it has given up on the Windows NT graphics business. VA's contribution to the programme is its "2D graphics and multi-monitor work", which presumably refers to the software drivers required to allow two more displays to show a single desktop. The trio's collaborative efforts will be given their first public appearance at the LinuxWorld expo, to be held in New York on 2-4 February. ®
The Register breaking news

SGI ‘just short’ of breaking even

Once-troubled SGI execs yesterday appeared to have cultivated sunnier dispositions when they revealed that the company will next week announce that it has broken even... almost. The official line phrase is "just short of break even", which could mean absolutely anything -- except, of course, 'in the black' and 'at break even point' -- but at least SGI is finally moving in the right direction. Company bosses said they expect to report revenues for the quarter of $640 million, down seven per cent on the $685 million figure it posted for the same period last year. For the previous quarter its first of fiscal 2000, the company lost $213 million, including restructuring charges, a massive increase on previous quarters' losses as SGI shut down all the operations it had failed to sell-off under its August restructuring programme. SGI could, of course, have chosen to spread out those charges over several quarters, but it presumably felt better to get them out of the way, to allow it to focus its efforts on cutting costs -- and, more importantly, to make it clear to Wall Street that that's what it's doing. SGI's latest results, for the quarter ended 31 December, will be officially released on 24 January. ®
The Register breaking news

MOD blows £30m on junk projects

The Ministry of Defence wasted £30 million of taxpayers' money on two bespoke computer systems, abandoned because they failed to work, for the RAF, Army and Navy. Some systems were replaced by off-the-shelf alternatives costing £1.3 million, the National Audit Office reveals. Dud projects included The Common User Data System developed by GEC Plessey Telecommunications intended to replace teleprinter systems with 500 terminals at 13 sites had a tendency to stop working and was abandoned at a cost of £21 million. The system will be replaced later this year with an off-the-shelf PC-based tri-service (Army, Navy and RAF) package called Automatic Message Switch and Communications Centre Replacement Programme. The Pay Replacement System developed in-house at the Royal Navy for pay and pensions, expected to cost £18.9 million, saw costs over-run by 217 per cent in one year and was abandoned at the cost of £8.7 million to the taxpayer. Policy change to tri-service systems led to a combined Pay Delivery System. To add to insult to injury, a civil servant at the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow has allegedly paid "one-off payments" into his account, using Army Personnel records in the pensions database. Auditor General Sir John Bourn said in a statement: "In 1998-99 the Ministry of Defence once again failed to keep their spending within the limits set by Parliament. And the loss of public funds through abortive expenditure on IT projects is clearly a cause for concern." A Spokesman for the MOD said it had learnt its lessons from these projects. "Changes have been made to reduce the risk. We have a number of successful IT projects and a procurement plan for all defence equipment with an emphasis on our suppliers and ourselves to overcome the problems with these two projects." ®
The Register breaking news

Dando stalker tracked down address on the Net

A suspected stalker used the Internet to trace Jill Dando’s address months before she was murdered, police revealed yesterday. The man used the Website 192.com to find details of her home in Fulham, London, in 1998. This site -- which accesses UK Info Disk Pro -- holds the telephone numbers and addresses of more than 42 million British residents. By entering the name of a person and the town they live in, it brings up a list of possible addresses in around 10 seconds. The individual suspected of using the site to track Dando has also been linked to a man who later masqueraded as Jill’s brother to gain access to her water, gas and electricity accounts. Detective Chief Inspector Hamish Campbell, who is leading the murder hunt, said yesterday: "We urgently need to know who was making those inquiries. "We don’t know if the person was a stalker or a hitman carrying out research into his intended victim." The saga has been traced back to November 1998 when the man is first thought to have used the 192.com site to find the former TV presenter’s phone number. It was ex-directory, but he was able to view her address in Gowan Avenue, as well a street map of how to get there. On Feb 1 1999 --the day news broke of Dando’s engagement to gynaecologist Alan Farthing -- a man posing as Dando’s brother made three phone calls to her water, gas and electricity companies. Using the aliases James Dando and Mr J Dando, he claimed to be living at Dando’s address and tried to get her bills made out in his name. In April 1999 BT received a similar call -- a few days before Dando’s death and soon after she was pictured leather-clad on the cover of the Radio Times. Police are baffled as to why anyone should want to see Dando's utility bills. But they think they may have stumbled across the electronic footprints of a fantasist who wanted to infiltrate her life, national newspapers reported today. In a bizarre twist, the 192.com site news section contains an article warning of the threat to women of the hi-tech directory from the Scottish Daily Record. Dated November 1997, it quotes civil rights groups claiming: "the computer CD ROM infringed on people’s privacy and could help violent men track down and stalk their former partners". The article can be found here. ® Related story Police issue Net appeal to find Dando’s killer
The Register breaking news

94 per cent of drivers want wireless Web – oh, really?

The world is poised to beat a path to the door of companies offering in-car wireless Internet services, according to a recent survey carried out by E-valuations.com. Allegedly. Unfortunately the sample base and the interpretation of the data seems just a wee bit skewed. The survey was carried out for InfoMove, which by happy coincidence is a Seattle-based company specialising in the delivery of in-car wireless Internet applications. "Demand for automobile-based Internet services rates high in driver survey," claims the release: "94 per cent of Internet users are eager to receive Internet-based turn-by-turn directions, predictive traffic information and vehicle diagnostics while on the road." The sample of 517 home-based Internet users who drive to work was carried out online, so you'd kind of expect the base to be relatively techno-savvy, and receptive to the notion of in-car data. The 94 per cent seems to have been assembled from the people who want any such services, as six per cent said they didn't want any kind of wireless Internet services in their vehicle. But tellingly, the stuff the positive respondents seem to want isn't all necessarily anything to do with the Internet. The highest number, 75 per cent, want turn-by-turn driving instructions, but in-car, non-Internet applications such as Autoroute Express deliver something of this ilk, whereas if you're using GPS (InfoMove's systems seem to) in the raw the system isn't actually accurate enough to deliver turn-by-turn in built-up areas. The UK's proposed speed limiter system, incidentally, adds a Radio Differential GPS signal to increase accuracy to one metre (and doesn't use the Internet), but it's not clear if InfoMove does this. Along with this, 74 per cent wanted real-time speed trap warnings (not necessarily legal everywhere, this, and as you're relying on effective local data collection, probably something of a pipe-dream), while 72 per cent wanted live, localised traffic alerts. But that's not a definite Internet app either, is it? Cellular systems in the UK deliver this already, with Vodafone and Cellnet working with the AA and RAC to dish out free receivers to their respective punters. It works - sort of, and some of the cars even talk, which can come as a shock if the rental company didn't mention it to you beforehand. 70 per cent of respondents wanted vehicle diagnostic information, and 61 per cent of respondents saying that estimates of repair costs and maintenance schedule reminders delivered wirelessly to their vehicle would be useful. One might wonder how useful, considering that for most purposes local vehicle diagnostics will be all that's used. But here comes the killer. The survey found that 78 per cent of those identifying themselves as "early technology adopters" want in-car email access but that, ahem, only 7 per cent of the general sample did. Depending on how you look at it, and bearing in mind that the general sample consisted of Internet users, you could read that as pretty bleak news for in-car Internet uptake. ®
The Register breaking news

Palm loses ground to WinCE over Xmas

The Palm handheld platform continued to maintain a strong lead over Windows CE in the US last month, according to the latest data from market researcher NPD Intelect. Palm Computing ended the year with a marketshare of 73.6 per cent, up 8.1 per cent on December 1998. Windows CE took around 25 per cent, divided between products from Casio, Sharp, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq. However, it's worth noting that Palm's share represents a fall of six per cent on the 77.9 per cent marketshare it took in September 1999. No great surprise, this, perhaps given WinCE's consumer-friendly colour support, something far less likely to show up outside the Christmas sales period. Casio's share of the market totalled 17.4 per cent, down 3.8 per cent on December 1998. Sharp took 5.3 per cent (a 4.3 per cent increase), HP 1.2 per cent (down 0.2 per cent) and the Big Q 1.1 per cent (up 0.9 per cent). Overall, sales of handheld devices during December 1999 rose 169 per cent over December 1998's figures. ®
The Register breaking news

Rambus sues Hitachi over SDRAM patent violation

Rambus has sued one of its own supporters, Hitachi, over allegations that the Japanese memory maker ripped off four Rambus "synchronous memory" patents. The case centres on four patents filed in 1990 by Rambus' co-founders. The patents cover 141 technologies relating to the way synchronous DRAM chips and inline memory modules work, how they interface with the host CPU. Pretty fundamental stuff, in other words, and, interestingly, nothing to do with the memory technology for which Rambus is best known. "This does not relate to Rambus components," Rambus VP of marketing, Avo Kanadjian, told EE Times. Rambus has been pursuing the alleged violation for some time. Its claims were brought to Hitachi's attention last year, and a meeting scheduled to discuss them. Hitachi clearly wasn't having any of it and decided not to show up. So now Rambus is suing. Hitachi isn't the only company Rambus has raised its ownership of key SDRAM technologies with -- "We are in negotiations with companies that use this technology, but it would be inappropriate to comment further on those negotiations, since they are confidential," said Kanadjian -- but it does appear to be the first to have decided to take a hostile approach to Rambus. With the patents covering some very basic features of how modern CPUs talk to memory, it would be surprising if Rambus hasn't also been talking to the likes of Intel and AMD, though the company refuses to name any of the parties it's been in negotiations with. Hitachi is currently evaluating the details of Rambus' suit. ®
The Register breaking news

HP mopes about the channel

Hewlett-Packard is throwing its Mopier printer products open to the European channel. The vendor’s multifunction scanner/printer/copying products have previously lain in the hands of around 150 European resellers, including five in the UK. From this month, any dealer will be able to qualify to sell the range of high-end kit. The two products in the Mopier range – the 240 and 320 – sell for between £6,000 and £10,000, depending on attachments to the machine. HP is looking to recruit resellers from today, and plans to introduce a programme of incentives in Spring. These will include free training to become a Qualified Solution Partner for resellers who meet their target sales volumes. However, no re-run of the "MillionAir" competition on Concorde incentive is planned, the company confessed. HP’s current five UK Mopier resellers are Computacenter, Anage, DTP, Danka and Basilica. According to analysts InfoSource, the European MFP market is expected to reach $7.4 billion in 2000.® Related story HP millionaire competition fails to live up to its name
The Register breaking news

Klein jumps as Gass escapes

Computer 2000 plans to reveal its replacement for deputy MD Andy Gass tomorrow. Sales director Julian Klein is hotly tipped for the job. Klein returned to C2000 last May after a two-year absence spent at Apple UK and Xerox. His previous stint at the Basingstoke distributor lasted six years in product marketing. Gass revealed he was leaving C2000 last week after nine years at the company. Yesterday he said he expected to quit the company in February. Computer 2000 refused to comment on the deputy MD appointment. "I’m not telling you it’s completely false. But I’m not telling you it’s completely true," one spin doctor helpfully commented.® Related story C2000 suffers Gass leak
The Register breaking news

Net credit card fraud pushes up crime figures

Online credit card fraud is to blame for the first rise in Britain’s crime figures in six years. A red-faced Downing Street last night admitted that overall crime figures for the country had risen two per cent for the 12 months to September 1999. But this masked a 29 per cent rise in fraud and forgery, including credit card offences on the Internet, today’s Guardian reported. Police recorded over 312,000 fraudulent offences committed in England and Wales. This compares with 70,000 for the previous year. While no exact figures were available for online fraud, Paul Wiles, head of Home Office research, admitted that Net crime was on the increase. This was the first official acknowledgement that online credit card fraud was an emerging threat -- not solely lodged in media "scare stories". Earlier this week, the Home office announced a £337,000 cash boost to help police the Internet – according to today’s figures, that’s almost one pound for every fraudulent offence committed.® Related story Hacker gang suspected over Virgin bust, others
The Register breaking news

T-Rex for sale online

No, it's not Barney. A complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletion is being auctioned online at Lycoshop with a reserve price of $5.8 million. Bidding opened yesterday, but so far there have been no serious offers. However, there have been plenty of hoax bids, according newswire PA. Lycoshop is selling the skeleton with Millionaire.com taking e-auctions to their extreme. Bids will be taken until 10 February. The "perfect" fossil was uncovered on 6 October 1992 by paleontologists Alan & Robert Detrich, who named Mr.Z-Rex after the owners of the land. Kansas-based Deitrich fossils currently own the dinosaur. The 65 million year-old fossil could bring in $40 million in annual revenue to museums which are thought to be the likely bidders. Find out more about this unusual auction and follow the bids here. ®
The Register breaking news

Morgan promoted to Datrontech MD

Datrontech has filled its MD vacancy after 14 months by promoting James Morgan. The former sales director replaces the gap left by Martin Mulligan in 1998. Morgan joined Datrontech from rival distributor Computer 2000 last July. No new sales director has been appointed at Datrontech. Keith Busson and Warren Lewis, sales managers at the Basingstoke outfit, are sharing Morgan’s previous responsibilities. Datrontech had been through a dozen sales directors in two years before Morgan joined the company. Such "mistakes of the past" in recruitment were one reason why it took Datrontech so long to appoint a new MD after Mulligan, he said. Morgan wouldn’t elaborate on his vision for the distributor, only saying that it would be "using the Web a lot more". Next week Datrontech is launching its online business at the Computer Trade Show in Birmingham. "But we will not be using this as an opportunity to lower costs, unlike some other distributors," said Morgan. He anticipates the service will mainly be used by resellers for checking stock availability online and less for placing orders. Morgan’s history includes spells at Micro Macro and Ingram Micro, as well as being general manager of Computer 2000’s retail division.® Related stories Mulligan exits Datrontech Datrontech to shrink further in wake of poor results
The Register breaking news

Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86

Just hours before the big gig where Transmeta's super-secret was due to be revealed, company CEO Dave Ditzel blew it by spilling his guts to Dow Jones Newswires. We shouldn't be too hard on the lad, as spinmeisters and top flight execs alike generally melt when confronted by the Mighty Dow, but even so - Transmeta was supposed to be the big secret, and it's a bit careless of the boss to spoil the party. But it's happened now. There are two chips initially, the 400MHz 3120, aimed at appliances running Linux, among other things, and the 5400, running at 700MHz and aimed at Windows portables. Casually describing Intel chips as rather rudimentary, Ditzel confirmed that Transmeta's Crusoe family of chips is being fabbed by IBM, and will be aimed at the x86 mobile computer market. This incidentally proves the sensation-mongers who read and understood Transmeta's patent applications right when they disbelieved the spin - there, Transmeta said x86 was only used as an example, and the technique could be used for any chip, but we knew what the company really meant all along, didn't we? The company showed several demo systems powered by Crusoe chips. Windows is the OS where the obvious immediate money is, but it's worth noting that Ditzel says Transmeta is going into mobile Internet computers, which may mean he's looking at form factors where other operating systems are appropriate. Register thought: Transmeta's hardware is fairly OS-agnostic, Linus Torvalds reckons that Linux should now be aimed for growth in the non-PC appliance and device markets, and Linus Torvalds works for Transmeta. So go figure, if you hadn't clocked the significance of the 400MHz low power appliance chip already. As Ditzel told Dow (confirming the patent-based extrapolations you may have noted round these parts), Crusoe uses "code-morphing" to translate OS instructions into native code, so its simpler to run Windows, Linux or Java, and the chip itself is easier to build and therefore cheaper. Power demands are also lower, hence making it more appropriate for mobile computers. The 3120 is in production now, while the 5400 is to be fabbed in 0.18 micron for mid-year. Oh, and here's a couple of prize Ditzelisms before they call us off (remember who it was blabbed to Dow). Says Dow: "Ditzel, a former top chip architect at Sun Microsystems and one of the principal creators of the 1980s chip architecture known as 'reduced instruction set computing,' [don't mail us, we know about the guy at IBM, and - argh! - Elbrus] tried hard to keep the company secret since he formed it with eight other computer gurus in 1995." Right. But who blabbed to Dow? And what did he tell them? "I think if we didn't have Linus, we could have pulled off the secrecy," said Ditzel." Oh, right... ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86