27th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Boo.com fires 70 staff

Boo.com, the extravagently funded online sportswear retailer, beat all other pure "e-tailers" in a Credit Suisse First Boston 1999 Holiday E-Commerce Capability survey. Most customer phone inquiries were answered by Boo.com's multi-lingual 24-hour customer service department within an average of three rings, CSFB found. Maybe because there wasn't so much work for them to do: Boo.com fired 70 employees in New York and Europe on Tuesday (25 January), with editorial staff and customer service reps taking the brunt, the Industry Standard reveals. In an interview with the paper, Jay Herratti, president of Boo.com North America, said the layoffs were normal post-Christmas "headcount reduction". So they were seasonal staff, then? Seasonal hiring is a well-established practice in the fashion industry -- each winter, for example, LL Bean, the iconic Maine mail-order clothes manufacturer/retailer, takes on thousands of people to handle its Christmas sales stampede. But Boo.com? Shouldn't this company still be in explosive quarter-on-quarter growth mode? Boo.com says the editorial staff are leaving, following a re-evaluation of strategy. This is reasonable enough: unlike the departure of customer sales reps. The layoffs are not an indication that the company needs to cut costs, Herratti told the Industry Standard. "We were very pleased with Christmas. Our investors were very pleased," he said. The company has announced its intention to discount goods, by up to 40 per cent, for the first time. Boo.com's original decision to sell sportswear at list price (to keep manufacturers sweet) was, quite frankly, astonishing. ® Related Stories Electronics giants, fashion houses bar online discounting Consumers reject clothes shopping online Only five months late for Boo.com launch
The Register breaking news

Judge switches horses but reinstates MS Java ban

Both sides in the Java dispute between Sun and Microsoft claimed victory this week, but Judge Ronald Whyte issued two Orders that had the combined effect of reimposing at Sun's request his November 1998 Order of a preliminary injunction, albeit on different grounds, to prevent Microsoft from subverting Java. The judge changed his grounds following Microsoft's successful appeal that copyright grounds for the injunction were inappropriate. The great irony however is that last week Microsoft itself played the copyright card in its Washington trial defence (strongly criticised yesterday by the DoJ in its reply to Microsoft's defence), and called Sun's breach-of-copyright claim "a novel argument". Last August the Court of Appeals ruled that the case was a contract dispute and not a copyright infringement case, saying that the judge had not explained in his finding how the licence agreement violations would violate Sun's copyright. Judge Whyte's action yesterday was therefore to deny Sun's request for a reinstatement of the injunction on the grounds of a federal copyright breach, but to grant Sun's motion for a preliminary injunction under the California Business and Professional Code on the grounds that Microsoft's actions had been unfair. The new Order compels Microsoft to distribute only Java products that pass Sun's compatibility tests. In addition, Microsoft must warn developers that Microsoft's tool kit products will result in applications that will run only on Microsoft's implementations. In addition, Microsoft may not advertise falsely that its implementations comply with the Java spec, or are endorsed by Sun. Finally the judge ordered that "Microsoft's development tools products shall include at least as much support for Sun's JNI and Microsoft's RNI, e.g. help files, header files, etc". The contenders' teams made the customary remarks. Sun general counsel Michael Morris said that Microsoft had "harmed competition, as well as those who use and rely on Java technology". Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan commented that "Sun is trying to prevent and limit competition" and "to control Java", although it was hard to see how Microsoft's desire to control Windows differed. The practical consequences of the present position are that Microsoft has to follow the terms of its licence from Sun, and may not indulge in any deprecatory activities. In fact, Microsoft was able to claim that it wouldn't have to change anything, simply because it had decided to observe the terms of the previous injunction pending the outcome of Sun's motions for a new injunction. Microsoft has also denied that COOL is an attempt at competing with Java, presumably because it realises it would be unlikely to achieve the same momentum. Nonetheless, Microsoft has been cool, as it were, to updating Visual J++ to the latest version of Java, with the consequence that sales of the product have practically ceased. Microsoft has made the usual motion for dismissal of the case, and a decision can be expected at any time. Assuming that Microsoft does not succeed in its dismissal motion, a trial will probably take place later this year. Judge Whyte wrote in his Order that: "Sun has established a reasonable likelihood of success in demonstrating that Microsoft's distribution of non-compliant Java technology violates the compatibility provisions" of the Sun licence. He also wrote that: "Sun has demonstrated that Microsoft introduced strategic incompatibilities in its implementations of the Java technology and relied on its unparalleled market power and distribution channels in computer operating systems to unfairly impede competition in the Java development tools market." Another observation was that: "Microsoft's Java tools products did not compete on their merits alone, but also possessed the added, unfair advantage of offering the only way of creating hybrid Java/native applications that run on Microsoft's non-compliant virtual machine." In his Order, the judge said that "Sun has at least raised serious questions going to the merits and that the balance of hardships [as to whether a preliminary motion should be granted] tips sharply in favour" of Sun. It would be hard to envisage Microsoft winning after this judicial assessment of the situation. ®
The Register breaking news

UMC, Siemens and IBM to cooperate on copper chips

The biggest foundry in IT powerhouse Taiwan, has struck a deal with IBM and Siemens spin-off Infineon to make .10 micron logic chips which use copper interconnects and also combine memory, logic and mixed signal circuits in one part. The chips, which will be called e-memories, or e-DRAM, will be developed by boffins and engineers working together at IBM's research and development centre in the States. The technology will then be licensed to all three partners in the concern and lasts until the year 2003. The chips will start off at the .13 micron level but then will be slimmed down to a .10 micron process, with the first samples expected before June, the companies said. The alliance is a continuance of one between Siemens and IBM initiated in 1998, with UMC being brought into the charmed circle because of its foundry muscle and its designer know-how. The parts will be marketed by UMC using the brand name Worldlogic, said the partners. ®
The Register breaking news

New hack attack is greater threat than imagined

It was news a month ago; days later it vanished. The mainstream press may have forgotten it, but security specialists gathered in California last week for the sixth RSA Conference to consider the growing trend in malicious computer assaults called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Using tools called trin00 and tribe flood network (TFN), intruders can commandeer hundreds, possibly thousands, of separate, unsuspecting clients to launch a flood which can bring a network down in a torrent of packets all appearing to come from different sources, making it impossible to identify the origin. Dealing with this sort of assault can be maddening for the primary victim. The clients from which the attack is launched are themselves intermediate victims who rarely know that their systems have been compromised. They are in diverse locations around the world, administered by people who speak different languages, making it nearly impossible for one victim to explain to another how to cope with the threat. Security experts are not optimistic. The tools do not require an intruder to gain root access to a system, but can be uploaded via a number of simpler exploits, many of which can be scripted to run automatically, and even multi-threaded to run very, very fast. Finding weak systems to use as clients for a distributed attack is neither difficult nor prohibitively time consuming. More ominously, DSL and cable modems, which remain connected around the clock, make it possible to launch attacks through the growing number of private Linux boxes now online. "We've already seen these attacks coming through Linux boxes," ISCA Director of Research Services David Kennedy told The Register. "And there's no reason why it can't be ported to the Win-32 [operating system]," he added. To further complicate matters, merely killing the process during a distributed flood attack is not adequate to end it. So long as the hundreds of clients remain infected, an attack can be resumed, Kennedy says. We note that communicating with the owners and administrators of hundreds of compromised clients, and gaining their cooperation, would be virtually impossible. The victim is, for all practical purposes, at the mercy of the attacker. The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) has developed an application to detect the malicious tools, though the first indication that they've been installed will usually be a phone call from a frantic sysadmin trying desperately to block the onslaught of packet traffic. We say 'phone call' because a distributed attack capitalises on so much bandwidth from so many sources that it literally overwhelms entire networks. Under those circumstances, e-mail is hardly going to work. An ISP can turn off the attack, provided its administrators are well enough acquainted with the problem; but there again, nothing can stop an attacker from firing up his hundreds of compromised clients hours or days later if he chooses. It gets worse; most of the more obvious defences are problematic. For example, a firewall configured to catch a distributed flood attack would also interrupt such utility functions as ping and traceroute, which are commonly used by administrators and power users, Kennedy noted. The tools are in constant development within the hacker underground; new and better versions are released regularly. Most worrying is a shift to scripted attacks which allow unsophisticated users, such as bored teenagers, half-assed hacker wannabes and clueless script kiddies to launch them. The tools are getting more powerful, slicker and easier to use. Defences are not. Defences require the infected clients, not the end victims, to take action. Human nature being what it is, we reckon the end victims are pretty well on their own. The NIPC offers an unsettling insight: "Possible motives for this malicious activity include....preparation for widespread denial of service attacks." We wonder what "widespread" means here. If one malicious hacker can exploit hundreds of clients worldwide and retain them for repeated abuse, what might a hundred accomplish? And what effect might that have? Could enough bandwidth be gobbled up to crash large portions of the Net? Could ISPs be overwhelmed for hours, even days? Could infrastructure be at risk? The NIPC refuses to say, but our imaginations are very much stimulated by the possibilities. And we reckon yours ought to be as well. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel drops PIII prices twice in a week

Chip giant Intel has made "adjustments" to its pricing for the second time in a week, but that is unlikely to ameliorate distributors and dealers, both of which are suffering chip starvation. Tech Data and Ingram sent out letters to its customers late yesterday with details of the changes, but also warned them that there was little likelihood of parts arriving in the near future. That further confirms reports from both European and US distributors that their future allocations of Pentium IIIs have been slashed to nothing for the month of February. Nor are there any SKUs (stock keeping units) for the Pentium III 800 MHz part shown in the listings. Here are the details of the changes, and of particular interest are the FC-PGA parts listed. A European distributor told The Register at a trade show yesterday that he suspected there was a problem with Intel's yields at its factories, known to people as "fabs". The PIII/500 with 512K cache and using the 100MHz front side bus drops from $243 to $216, a 12 per cent drop. The Pentium III 533/133 FSB with 512K cache drops to $220 from $332, that is a fall of around 34 per cent. The Pentium III 550/100 FSB with 512K cache dropped to $274, from $366, while the Pentium III 600 100mhz with 512K cache (part number 277309) is now $327, and was $490. The Pentium III 600/100 FSB with 512K cache drops to $327 from $490, the Pentium III 650 100MHz part with 256K cache drops to $424 from $602. These all form parts of plans for Intel to thoroughly rationalise its range of Pentium IIIs. Details of problems that may occur with the flip chip technology can be found in this Adobe PDF at this Intel page. ® AMD wins further round in Intel desktop price war Intel cancels Pentium III supplies for February The Register Guide to Acronyms
The Register breaking news

W3C officially recommends XHTML bridge to XML

The closest thing the Web has to a governing body, the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has officially recommended XHTML 1.0 for use by Webmasters everywhere. XHTML (eXtensible Hypertext Mark-up Language) is the latest HTML specification, version 4, redefined as an XML document type. As such it's a bridge between HTML and XML as the language of the Web. AS the W3C puts it, "by migrating to XHTML today, content developers can enter the XML world with all of its attendant benefits, while still remaining confident in their content's backward and future compatibility". XML is widely seen as the future of the Web because it can support an infinite number of mark-up languages, each defined for specific data types, such as musical or mathematical notation. It's also seen as the basis for future e-commerce applications, which can be made far more flexible and better tailored to given commodities than existing systems. The Register's MyNetscape channel is an example of XML. Of course, the snag is that the major browsers don't yet support XML, and neither Netscape nor Microsoft have yet to commit to supporting XHTML in future browsers (though it seems unlikely that they won't). ®
The Register breaking news

Mitsubishi settles with Elonex over power patents

Elonex has scored another victory in its battle to stop monitor manufacturers infringing on one of its power management technologies, following an out of court settlement with Mitsubishi. The terms of the agreement with Mitsubishi are being kept under wraps, but it now owns a licence from Elonex and legal action in this matter has come to a halt. Elonex issued a statement in which it said Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Mitsubishi Electronics America had obtained licences for the use of the power management technology. In essence, the Elonex patents relate to the tools that enable a monitor to power-down in accordance with pre-set or user-defined parameters. The London-based PC maker claims that it owns the patents on the power management facilities found in almost all PC monitors and is pursuing legal action against a number of display makers. In fact, almost every monitor maker you have ever heard of is understood to be on Elonex' radar. Last December, Elonex filed suits against Dell, Packard Bell-NEC and Micron Electronics. These actions are believed to be ongoing. Those manufacturers that own licences from Elonex include Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, Nokia, Siemens and Philips. The Elonex patents in question - should you wish to look them up - are as follows: in the US - numbers 5,389,952; 5,648,799 and 5,880,719. in Europe - numbers 0672285 and 0678843. in Japan - number 2,847,099. ® See previous item: Elonex sues Dell, P-Bell, Micron over monitor patents
The Register breaking news

Right-wing think tank says break MS Windows

A right-wing Washington think tank is to call for the breakup of Microsoft later today. The Progress & Freedom Foundation, which is run by former members of the Reagan and Bush administrations, has scheduled a press conference for 11am US Eastern time today to present Creating Competition in the Market for Operating Systems: A Structural Remedy for Microsoft. The Foundation won't be releasing the paper until the beginning of the conference, but according to the San Jose Mercury, which has obtained a copy (apparently on condition it doesn't talk about it, which is a bit weird), it calls for the breakup of Microsoft's OS operations into a number of competing companies. This is an unusual stance for a conservative organisation, but is in accordance with the views expressed earlier this month by Foundation president Jeff Eisenach, speaking to Forbes magazine. Then he said: "The operating system side [of Microsoft] would be sliced into entities that compete." The pitch the Foundation intends to make with the paper appears to be that "conduct remedies," i.e. the likes controlling the scope of Microsoft's OEM conduct and pricing, would be unnecessarily interventionist and damaging to the industry, while a 'big bang' breakup remedy would be preferable, because it's a one time solution. After reinjecting competition by producing a clutch of companies selling Windows, the government could just walk away. Breaking up Microsoft into several companies is a commonly-suggested solution, and seems to be favoured by the DoJ. But the setting up of multiple OS companies seems a messy, confusing and probably destructive way to go about it, so the Foundation's arguments here should be worth listening to. The Foundation, by the way, has an interesting and broad-ranging list of contributors. IBM, HP, Compaq, Intel, Sun, Sony, News Corp, Time Warner - it's wide-ranging and relatively eclectic. Microsoft isn't listed though. ®
The Register breaking news

Sleaze unearthed at Tory party ISP

The Conservative Party has only managed to recruit a paltry 1,200 people to its own blue-branded ISP launched four months ago at its annual conference, The Register can reveal. The disappointing turnout for Tory.org is likely to cause a few red faces at the party HQ although some have suggested it simply reflects the current popularity of the party at the moment. More embarrassing still, is the ease with which Tory.org can be abused by anyone registering for the service. Bearing in mind the Tory party's adeptness at political rule bending, it took no time at all to register the email address sleaze@tory.org. Derivations of Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair@tory.org, have also been reported. With the Conservative Party's high profile it is hard to believe that the organisation didn't set up some screening service to prevent such own goals. Webmaster, Richard Hyland, admitted that Tory.org didn't employ an "active screening list" but said membership was checked every week or so. He confirmed sleaze@tory.org would be disabled shortly. ® Link: Tory Party ISP site
The Register breaking news

Big White wrong-foots Big Blue

US weathermen are kicking themselves after putting their faith in an IBM supercomputer used to predict the weather, after a massive snowstorm brought much of the East Coast to a standstill and claimed seven lives. The computer had reckoned there was a 40 per cent chance of light snow falling, but this actually turned into a record 20 inch covering. The computer - capable of 2,500 billion calculations per second and claimed by IBM to give weathermen up to 10 days warning of a storm - had failed to notice the storm hidden among the reams of data from balloons, satellites, ships and ocean buoys. The weathermen said they relied on the computer rather than believing their own eyes and were eating cold humble pie this morning. It seems Big Blue has created a real snow-storm among weathermen. ® Weather links: Climate Center at National Centre for Environmental Prediction IBM supercomputer for weather prediction - demo under construction
The Register breaking news

Toshiba demos MPEG 4 movies over Bluetooth

Japan's Toshiba has demonstrated a prototype system that sends movies across Bluetooth wireless networks, according to the Nikkei newswire. Toshiba's set-up involves transferring images grabbed by a digital camcorder, compressing them using the MPEG 4 format, and beaming them to another machine via Bluetooth. PC-to-PC communications are handled by a TCP/IP layer built on top of Bluetooth's L2CAP protocol. TCP/IP then provides the basis for supporting the Real-time Transfer Protocol (RTP), which ensures the movie's packets are correctly synchronised. Right now, the system works, though not quite up to DVD playback standard, with a frame rate of just ten frames per second in a quarter common intermediate format (QCIF), so the image quality isn't too hot either. However, a Toshiba spokesman said the company is working on improving both picture quality and frame rate. Even now, though, the technology is probably good enough to allow, say, a mobile terminal to show the user in one room of a house to see what's currently being broadcast on TV so he or she can set their VCR remotely -- the kind of role to which Bluetooth is ideally suited in a home environment. Toshiba said it plans to submit it 'MPEG 4 over Bluetooth' system to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's Audio/Visual Working Group, which is defining methods by which multimedia data can be transported over the wireless network. Toshiba will also demo the system at next month's CeBIT show in Hanover. ®
The Register breaking news

NEC unveils IEEE 1394 ‘Firewireless’ home LAN

NEC has developed an IEEE 1394-based wireless networking system designed to connect home computers to entertainment devices and other appliances. Each device can communicate with others at the standard 1394 data rate of 400Mbps at distances of up to 12m with a direct line of sight and 7m through walls. NEC isn't the first to tackle 1394 -- aka FireWire by Apple and iLink by Sony -- over a wireless connection. Last year, Canon demonstrated a prototype system that provided a data rate of 100Mbps. Canon has no plans to ship its technology as a commercial product, the company told Reuters. However, when it demoed the system last year, it said it would submit it to the 1394 Trade Association for possible inclusion in its own wireless spec., currently under development. NEC said products based on its 400Mbps technology will become available by the end of the year. Likely the company is waiting for devices to emerge that use the HAVi (Home AV Interface), which defines a home entertainment-oriented networking and interoperability system based on Java and 1394. Version 1.0 of the HAVi spec. was finalised and released earlier this month. ®
The Register breaking news

Colour Palm IIIc to ship 20 February – Best Buy

As predicted, Palm Computing will ship its first colour handheld next month, just in time for the 3Com subsidiary's upcoming IPO. According to readers of Apple-oriented Web site MacInTouch, US retail chain Best Buy has added the colour Palm IIIc to its product database, which describes the device as possessing a colour screen, 8MB of memory and a price tag of $449.99. Best Buy's database also mentions the upcoming IIIxe, apparently an upgraded IIIe with 8MB of RAM and a $259.99 price tag, all the better to compete with the similarly-specced Handspring Visor. Best Buy reckons the IIIc and IIIxe will ship on 20 February. The date isn't confirmed by fellow retailer CompUSA, whose stock system simply notes the IIIc at $449.99 and the IIIxe at $249.99. Palm's IPO is already scheduled for February, according to filings made to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Some 20 per cent of the company will be put up for grabs, and the release of the company's first colour device is clearly going to raise not only interest in Palm's stock but the price of that stock once it starts trading. ®
The Register breaking news

China orders Web sites to guard against secrecy leaks

Chinese authorities have imposed security checks on all Web sites in an attempt to protect state secrets. The move is thought to be the first time a government has moved to restrict the availability of free information on the Internet. Chinese journalists found guilty of publishing state secrets now risk imprisonment or could even face the death penalty. Secret information about the return of space shuttles to Inner Mongolia, ship-building programmes and aircraft construction in the country has recently been leaked, and the Beijing government doesn't take kindly to such leaks. The embargo extends to Chinese Web sites based overseas, many of which are used by some of the more daring Chinese newspapers to leak controversial information away from the reach of the Chinese government. Each Web site now has to employ its own secrecy checkers. Director of the freedom of expression campaign group Article 19 Andrew Puddephatt told The Guardian: "Any attempt by any government to impose censorship of the commonly applied to newspapers and television networks around the world must be regarded as a very dangerous precedent." A Shanghai Daily representative disagreed, saying: "What the government really wants is to curb unauthorised news." China's Internet users are expected to double in number within the next year to reach 20 million. But it is being predicted by some industry watchers that the news of this latest round of censorship will stunt Chinese Internet growth. ® See also: China gets hands-on with the Net Not Welcome Here: China toughens stand against Net foreigners
The Register breaking news

Maxdata goes on a VAR hunt

Maxdata is stepping up its channel strategy for PC sales in the UK, with plans to recruit 30 VARs this year. The vendor, which started shipping desktops to system builders last July, said it was hunting for resellers to sell its four ranges of Maxdata Artist systems. It also aims to get more PC assemblers to switch to buying its PCs rather than building their own. The German-based company is looking for a total of 60 system builders, or ten per cent of its current customer base, as well as the 30 VARs. "Some system builders are telling us that it is not worth building PCs anymore, and that it is cheaper for them to buy them," said John Adams, MD of Maxdata UK. "With IBM and Compaq already doing some level of direct business, the door is open for us. Many resellers are not too happy with their current suppliers at the moment due to this threat of direct business." Maxdata, which has so far signed up around 15 system builders for its PCs, aims to sell 100,000 machines in the UK in 2000 and be the country's tenth largest vendor. This is a big jump from the 6000 PCs sold in the last six months of 1999. It is following Fujitsu Siemens' lead with claims to be 100 per cent channel and plans to take on the newly-formed company head-on. Maxdata currently builds half a million PCs a year in Germany, and will use the same manufacturing facilities for the UK and French markets. ® Related Stories Maxdata edges into UK notebook Top 20 Maxdata monitors progress into France
The Register breaking news

Intel Pentium II rises from the dead

One peculiar side effect of Intel's current problems with supplying processors is the sudden availability, once more, of the Pentium II 400MHz processor. Distributors have been told over the last few days that there is now wide availability of the processor, which actually entered the chip gulag many many months ago. Just exactly what reputable distributors are supposed to do with these Pentium IIs is the really interesting thing. Do they suddenly start telling their system builder clients that while, no, they can't have Coppermines because there aren't any, they can instead revert to a trusted component from yesteryear? It also begs the interesting question of just where Intel found these components which ought to be part of the chip dinosaur's fossil record. Is there, we wonder, some large Intel warehouse somewhere filled with 8086s, 286s, i830s, 386s, 486s, FDIV Pentia and the rest? ®
The Register breaking news

Intel forced into deal with Reliance

Reliance, the server chipset vendor, has entered into an unholy alliance with its biggest rival -- Intel. At the same time, the company is renaming itself ServerWorks. The deal means ServerWorks will have access to future specifications of Intel chips. The company makes chipsets for Intel platform servers and speculation has been rife in the market for many months that high-end PC manufacturers would major on Reliance chipsets for IA-64 processors. Some Intel server customers have already jumped onto the Reliance (ServerWorks) bandwagon -- these include Compaq, IBM and Dell. However, a ServerWorks (Reliance) chipset is not planned for Itanium machines to be introduced later this year, according to CNET. Instead, ServerWorks is gearing up for McKinley, the second generation of IA64 chips. Financial details of the deal between Intel and ServerWorks were not released. ® CNET: Reliance Computer renames, deals with Intel
The Register breaking news

MS unveils Win2K anti-piracy tools

Microsoft outlined the anti-piracy measures for its Windows 2000 Professional operating system today at the Computer Trade Show in Birmingham. The US giant, which let copies of the software loose into the OEM channel on Monday in readiness for next month's launch, has added a couple of natty little features to try and foil the counterfeiters. Firstly, it claims the CD media - which will only be available through the distribution channel and not to direct buyers - is very difficult to copy because it is entirely hologrammed. The company will also be shipping a hologrammed authenticity sticker with the product name and code of the machine with every copy of the software. PC sellers will be told to stick one on the outside of every PC shipped to prove the software is genuine. "The sticker will give users visible proof of authenticity," said Des O'Carroll, Microsoft OEM channel sales manager. "It will also help system builders selling genuine software to justify their machine pricing." Carroll also claimed this would educate users into understanding that it was illegal to make multiple copies of software. Microsoft has announced an introductory offer for the channel of seven copies of Professional for the price of six. However, the company was criticised by resellers over its lack of plans to explain to customers that the sticker and hologrammed CD were necessary to ensure the OS was legal. Carroll said Microsoft would not be running any advertising campaigns to tell customers of the changes. Educating users will be left to the channel. ® See also: Win2K pains Pete Sherriff Microsoft fudges Win2K speed trials
The Register breaking news

Akamai profits plummet despite 206 per cent revenue rise

Web acceleration specialist Akamai today posted a fourth-quarter loss up 58 per cent on the previous three-month period despite an increase of 206 per cent in the company's sales.
The Register breaking news

Telinco chairman picks up £90m

E-ntrepreneur Chris Matthews has walked away with a cool £90 million from the sale of Telinco Networks to World Online. The founder and former chairman -- who started the company on just £16,000 -- is to invest the cash in a number of e-commerce ventures, led by his shopping portal, hoojit.com.
The Register breaking news

E-incubator targets UK students

Undergraduates who can't face the thought of attending any more lectures are being given the chance to bail out before they do their final exams. A new incubator fund from Oxygen Group plc is raising £2.2 million, through a placing of 110 million ordinary shares, to invest in students who have a cracking Internet business idea. And there's the catch - you have to have a good business idea, and you won't get one of those sitting in front of daytime TV eating Pot Noodles and smoking wonga. Or maybe you will. Oxygen has already set up camp in Cambridge University but intends to scour campuses up and down the country in the search for tomorrow's Internet millionaires. Typically, it will invest between £100,000 and £250,000 in the new ventures. Oxygen executive chairman, Michael Edelson, said: "Oxygen wants to harness the talent emerging from our universities, in order to capture the best ideas as they emerge and before the competition for them escalates." Edelson is being helped in the new venture by his daughter Emma, a graduate of Queens College, Cambridge. Earlier this week four former students from Nottingham Trent University, who created Student-net.co.uk, received £10 million backing from US-based International Media Products Group. ® For more bubble nonsense, check-out Cash Register See also: Students become millionaires in their spare time
The Register breaking news

Korean housewives get ecommerce call-up

The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has unveiled details of a subsidised scheme intended to unlock the untapped online buying potential of the Korean housewife. The Korean government will provide courses in 800 private computer centres between March and August next year in an attempt to accelerate growth in ecommerce and narrow the generation gap. The computer centres will get a 20 per cent discount on connection fees to act as a further sweetener. Classes will run in mornings and evenings on Internet shopping, email use and surfing the Net and will cost 30,000 Won per month. Click here for more details about the project - if you're fluent in Korean. ®
The Register breaking news

New crypto technique beats current standard

A new cryptographic technique developed by NEC is set to be unveiled during the Encryption and Information Security Symposium in Japan this week. Called Cipherunicorn-A, the technique creates a number of false keys in addition to the true encryption key, making it more difficult for potential intruders to crack. The approach should increase security while remaining compliant with the Data Encryption Standard (DES) introduced by the US Department of Commerce, a company spokesperson told The Register. The technique is based on a dynamic encryption code capable of using key lengths of 128 bits, 192 bits and 256 bits, making it more difficult to discover both the encryption key and the target data. A potential intruder might spend a couple of frustrating days cracking the wrong key, and then have to begin again. The current DES standard uses an encryption key which could be cracked within a day, the company notes. Cipherunicorn-A conforms to the DES standard, but increases it's effectiveness by adding layers of complexity to frustrate potential crackers. The technology is aimed at corporate users and numerous devices, and the company expects to satisfy the new US crypto export regulations without difficulty. Future applications will include modem, fax, and mobile phone encryption. NEC has no immediate plans to use the technique for retail crypto applications such as PGP, the company said. ®
The Register breaking news

Online critics to judge Clinton performance

In a foreshadowing of cyber-stunts geared to this year's looming election season, US President Bill Clinton's final State of the Union address will be evaluated instantly by viewers via the Web, polling outfit InterSurvey announced today. The poll was designed in partnership with CBS News, which will of course broadcast the results. The company says it's using "proven sampling methods used in the best academic and commercial research" to select a representative sample of households. Panelists throughout the country are to be outfitted with WebTV for the occasion. "Because of the care in properly sampling from the entire population, the InterSurvey panel represents all segments of the entire population across the country, even the half that would normally not have Internet access," the company claims. Within 30 minutes of Clinton's address, CBS News will report "scientifically valid polling data" revealing the public's reaction, the company says. American television news programmers bend over backwards to integrate all things Net-related into their service, regardless of how gimmicky, trivial, or boring they may be. We look forward, with considerable ennui, to more of the same once the New Hampshire primaries get underway. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD clarifies overclocking position

AMD today issued a clear statement on where it stood on companies which resell, and overclock its Athlon microprocessors, and on those who take advantage of the so-called "golden fingers" on the chip. That follows reports earlier in the week that alleged AMD was taking actions against people who overclocked its products. A representative said that AMD had no interest in what individual users did with the product, meaning that they were at liberty to overclock to their heart's content. However, he added: "We are concerned about people that resell our product when it's overclocked". One reason was that AMD is concerned that users who buy such products would blame the company if the technology failed after overclocking techniques were applied. The reason, he said, was because the overclocking technology meant that the Slot A casing of the Athlon was broken, and this implied regulatory and warranty breaches which AMD did not like. He said that while AMD USA had sent out letters to companies re-selling overclocked Athlons, the legal department at the company had confirmed that it had not issued cease and desist notices, nor had it threatened them with litigation. AMD, he added, has a marketing and engineering agreement with Kryotech, which offers Athlon processors that use overclocking technology. A heated debate has already started on various overclocking sites about the issue. One of the first to speak out on the issue is Hard OCP, which also reproduces some information from AMD's Investor Group. There is another piece on Marketing Director, which also discusses the issues. ®