7th > February > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

So what is the difference between Jobworld.com and Jobworld.co.uk?

Efax.com, the upstart competitor of efax.co.uk, may be worrying unduly about its British rival (story: efax.com v. efax.co.uk). Brits flock like sheep to .com addresses -- take a look at Jobworld.co.uk, a long-standing British recruitment site owned by VNU, Britain's biggest IT publishing house, and Jobworld.com. The latter URL, bought last year by IDG, transports customers instantly to JobUniverse, the US firm’s online international recruitment business. How many customers is Jobworld.co.uk losing to Jobworld.com? Will VNU sue IDG? And on what grounds: "We forgot to register the Jobworld.com domain name, and then let IDG snap it up from the previous owner" doesn't have a very compelling lawsuit-winning ring about it. We think we won’t be told. ®
Drew Cullen, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

efax.com fights efax.co.uk

Efax.com has got a big struggle on its hands to win control of the efax.co.uk domain name, following its failure to secure an injunction against a small British company. In court, efax.com argued before Mr. Justice Jonathan Parker that that the name efax.co.uk was confusingly similar to its own name. This is cybersquatting with a twist: efax.com, a US company offering fax-to-email conversion services has been trading under this name since February 1999, while efax, a UK company owned by businessman Mark Oglesby offering inter alia fax-to-email conversion services, has been trading under its name since 1997. Mr. Justice Jonathan Parker disagreed with efax.com, finding "considerable force" in Oglesby's submission that the word efax was highly descriptive of the services being provided: "e" being the universal prefix for Internet services and there being universal familiarity with the word "fax" as a shorthand for facsimile. It was likely that efax would be taken to be a fax over the Internet service. The ruling effectively scuppers efax.com's chances of bulldozing the .co.uk address away from a triumphant Oglesby. He says he never had any intention of passing himself off as efax.com -- a bit unnecessary that, considering he's been trading a year longer than the US interloper. Now he urges settlement -- shorthand for Efax.com for scrapping further legal action and, we assume, stumping up a lot of cash for the domain. Efax.com is in a bit of a pickle: in Britain, it signed up only 17,000 subscribers, 12,000 of which are dormant accounts, it revealed in court. As of February 7, efax.com claims 50,000 subscribers, a representative said. The company had launched the legal action prior to launching an advertising campaign in Britain. It said today that it has not put any media campaign on ice. ®
Drew Cullen, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Philippines can't afford Intel inside

A report in the Philippine Star said that Intel plans to build a fab on the archipelago will come to nothing because the government cannot afford to build additional infrastructure. According to the report, which can be found on the Web here, the Philippine government's plans to attract Intel by providing tax incentives will not be enough, because the cost of building the necessary waste management facilities will be prohibitive. Intel has a policy of "mirroring" its fabrication plants -- meaning that a fab in Dublin is the spitting image of a fab in Albuquerque. This, incidentally, is why it is so difficult for Intel to immediately shift to new process technologies, rather than do so in stages. For example, moving to .13µ (micron) copper technologies is far from trivial for Intel, and means vast capital investments. The loss of the $2 billion investment will be a blow to the Philippines, but the local newspaper reports that the Estrada administration is resigned to the loss. It also means that there are likely to be other inward investment opportunities for other Far East countries. ®
Mike Magee, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Virgin carries out payment freeze threat

Virgin Our Price is witholding £50 million in payments owing to record labels, in what it claims is a campaign to secure better discount terms for the Virgin Our price retail chain in the face of allegations that online CD suppliers get better deals, the Sunday Times reports. However, senior music industry sources claim Virgin's allegations are a smoke-screen for the chain's lack of cash. The music companies have cut off supplies to Virgin, in retaliation, the ST says. Virgin claims it is being offered worse margins than upstart online music retailers and -- unless its suppliers capitulate -- threatens to stop selling music within two to three weeks in its high street shops. Virgin accounts for 15 per cent of UK music sales, according to the ST. Currently, music represents 45 per cent of the sales mix within Virgin Our Price. The retailer says it will pump up DVD and mobile phone sales, to replace music. The company wants to double its discounts from ten per cent to 20 per cent and to move music from firm sale to sale or return. The dispute is reminiscent of a spat between Computacenter and Compaq in the early 90s. In its lust for retail sales, Compaq initially offered better terms and conditions to Dixons -- then a PC neophyte -- than to the UK's biggest reseller. Computacenter went public with a warning shot across Compaq's bows. The Virgin/record industry dispute differs in one key respect -- the £50-million held to ransom by Virgin. This may do wonders for Virgin's cash flow, but what will it do for the company's standing with credit rating organisations? Virgin says it will pay up, whatever the outcome of the dispute, the ST reports. So why not pay up now? Probably because it can't, right now. The Register has learned that Virgin held crisis talks with its music industry creditors last week, though the outcome isn't known. ® Related stories UK retailer threatens music biz with payment freeze Digital music threat forces Virgin to moot store closures
Drew Cullen, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Gates promises enriching experience for UK lottery

Microsoft has joined the team of companies fronted by Virgin's Richard Branson in order to bid for the UK's lottery. Bids for the contract, which will run for seven years, are due in next month, and a happy Bill Gates of Microsoft was yesterday telling interviewers all about how PC technology would revolutionise the process and enrich the users' experience. Ahem. There's quite a bit of potential synergy between Branson's aspirations as a mobile phone vendor, Gates' view that mobile phones and the Internet can be used to buy tickets, and what Microsoft's currently up to in the mobile market, but PC technology? Microsoft will no doubt have its server software driving the system if the Branson bid is accepted, but this is an appliance-driven application if we ever heard of one. And - skipping any moral considerations we might have - a pretty compelling one, at that. Lottery tickets are currently sold via newsagents and supermarket cigarette counters, thus severely impeding The Register's ability to nip in and buy a quick pack of Bensons, so turning it into an impulse decision you can execute more or less by just twitching a finger could increase spend dramatically. Which makes you wonder about "enrich" too. But Bill may have his own problems in that direction, as Branson, in between boasting of creating a millionaire a day and giving all the proceeds to charity (only a proportion currently does, although "good causes" are the ostensible justification for the system), has been suggesting that Microsoft could be looking at putting its earnings from the deal into good causes as well. The Branson team includes quite a rogue's gallery of outfits poised - presumably - to give all their profits to charity. US gaming technology AWI, KPMG, J Walter Thompson, Compaq and Cisco. A further horror is Branson's claim that he's negotiating with games design companies to produce Internet lottery games. Nice to see we're going to be encouraging the kids to give to charity too. In the interests of balance, we should note that the charitable Mr Branson's Virgin Railways has piled fare increase upon fare increase, and has as yet failed to deliver something recognisable as an efficient railway. The Register also notes to its displeasure that the introduction of free breakfasts in first class has resulted in one of the smallest dishes you're ever likely to see termed a "Big Bite." The kipper, the glory of the old British Rail dining car, is no more. ®
John Lettice, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Race to 1GHz bad for end users

The race between AMD, Intel -- and now IBM -- to be first to market with a 1GHz microprocessor is having a bad effect on corporate users of PCs because of too fast roll-outs and changes of platform, it has emerged. Intel is expected to demonstrate a 1GHz CPU running without benefit of cooling at next week's Developer Forum, while AMD, according to sources close to the firm, has already succeeded in clocking its Athlon K7 to that speed. Meanwhile, Compaq is promising to clock its Alpha processor to 1GHz, possibly around the middle of the year, while IBM's latest claims have further upped the ante in the race. But, according to Joe D'Elia, senior semiconductor analyst at Gartner Europe, this is "pure testosterone" from the chip companies, and is having a deleterious effect on large businesses attempting to keep their roll-outs stable. He said: "We see a backlash because consumers do not see the need to move to faster and faster clock speeds." He said large corporations cannot roll out tens of thousands of PCs overnight, just to discover later on that the microprocessors have become unavailable because the chip companies have moved to higher speeds. What happens, he said, is that PC suppliers are not able to deliver at the lower clock speeds, because the chips become unavailable. Added to that, large corporations need to be sure that the platforms for the microprocessors need to be available too. Changes in chipsets, which affect motherboards, and other changes, such as memory standards also affect end users. He said firms such as Compaq and the other large PC vendors have had to re-assure their customers that there will be some longevity to platforms. An Intel representative said that the company's different product lines had varying life cycles, depending on the platform. The Xeon, for example, on the desktop and workstation level, had built in stability for the workstation and server markets. He agreed that large corporations required stability but said it was important for them to buy at the high, rather than the lower end of the spectrum, to ensure that scalability. ® See also Willamette is Intel's favourite Petzilla
Mike Magee, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Gizmo-happy DoCoMo may bid to buy Orange

Japan's NTT DoCoMo is tipped as considering a £20 billion plus bid for the UK's number three mobile phone operator, Orange. Orange itself was bought relatively recently by Mannesmann, but the latter's acceptance of Vodafone's hostile takeover bid last week, besides turning Vodafone into the world's fourth biggest company, puts Orange back into play. Vodafone apparently doesn't intend to sell off Orange unless it has to, but it competes with the company in the UK, and the alternative solution of putting Orange into some kind of corporate blind trust quite likely won't appeal to the European Commission. And Vodafone always accepted that jettisoning Orange was probably the price of regulatory clearance for the Mannesmann deal. Vivendi, the French outfit which is now Vodafone's firm ally and which can possibly be viewed as the company that plunged the final dagger into the embattled German operator, has been talked of as a possible Orange purchaser, but has denied it, albeit in vague terms. Meanwhile there are complications presented by AOL, which was dealing with Mannesmann and is now in play as regards Vodafone. Vodafone is however unlikely to buy a stake in AOL, as it seems to be preferring alliances as regards content. Orange boss Hans Snook seems to be looking forward to the possibility of being cut loose again, but DoCoMo might be an even better fate from his point of view. As we remarked last week, Vodafone's ruthless use of prototype space cadet wireless gizmos to convince Mannesmann shareholders that it was a forward-looking company were just the sort of thing Hans likes to do. DoCoMo, which has been caught showing space cadet gizmos in the company of Symbian, looks like Hans' kind of outfit. ®
John Lettice, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Samsung designs Palm-style colour ARM-based Linux MP3 PDA

Samsung is soliciting OEM manufacturers for a ARM-based multimedia PDA running Linux. The device, designed by Samsung Electro-Mechanics (no, we don't know why either) is colour, allegedly does everything and looks jolly cute. But then prototypes usually do, don't they? According to Samsung it has an MP3 player, voice recording, MPEG, radio receiver, email and built in Web browser. It connects to the Internet via a mobile phone, and the feature list rolls onward. A personal information manager, dictionary, text editor, handwriting recognition software, all in a Palm Pilot style package of 128.8 x 83.5 x 19.9mm. If Samsung can actually get all of this stuff into the one box and working properly it'll be a triumph of integration, but we suspect this is more a case of it being a list of possible features OEMs might care to select from. MP3 and Internet access in your pocket is one of the most obvious killer apps for something like this, and seems to be pretty much what Diamond is planning for its Transmeta alliance. Samsung's pitch for the device can be found here. The site also includes details of various other wacky products. ®
John Lettice, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

CIA head slapped in Net porn exposé

The former head of the CIA has been fingered in a Net porn case that could have compromised the security of the US. Allegations first printed in the New York Times suggested that the home PC of former CIA director, John Deutch ("Red Hot" to his friends? - Ed), was used to access porn sites on the Web. Deutch's PC also contained top-secret files. While there is no suggestion that Deutch visited the sites himself, it appears his PC was used by someone to access Net porn. The fear is that Deutch exposed himself -- and the top-secret files -- to unnecessary risk, by bringing work home and loading it on his unprotected PC. The CIA's current director, George Tenet, has refused to comment on the revelations until after a proper and thorough investigation. Deutch was the US' spy chief from May 1995 to December 1996. According to Reuters, in August last year he admitted a computer-related lapse of judgement that resulted in him losing his security clearance. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Meet Mr. newagegossip.co.uk

A London-based editor loves his job so much that he is changing his name by deed poll to the Web site he works for. Michael Day, 39, who now wishes to be known as newagegossip.co.uk, says he will not "recognise any correspondence addressed to his previous name". Mr newagegossip.co.uk, says: "Changing my name was a truly liberating experience, but nothing can match the gratitude I feel to my favorite website." Of course, it's all an outrageous stunt. But there is a germ of an interesting site here. By far the most noteworthy feature is Guru Watch, a feedback mechanism for New Age watchers to assess the merits and demerits of these Latter Day Shamans. Jonathan Paton, editor-in-chief at New Age Gossip (NAG), said the London-based site would make the New Age "more democratic". However, NAG's operators will need to put in a lot more coding (or buy in/outsource a decent bulletin board) to make it properly interactive. NAG also plays consumer watchdog with Practitioner Feedback. There's a dating service, book reviews, and event listing for the London area. Paton is not a New Age practitioner himself, but says he's "got an interest in the subject". He is planning localised NAGs for the West Country, UK and Marin County, California. ®
Drew Cullen, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Linux-on-PowerPC team update distros' reference release

Linux-on-Mac development team the Linux/PPC Developers have updated their reference version of the open source OS to support a greater range of PowerPC-based computers and peripherals, and bring many of the OS' core components to their most recent versions. Derived from Red Hat Linux 6.1, the PowerPC Reference Release 1.1 is based on version 2.2.14 of the Linux kernel, though it provides USB support through code taken from the pre-release kernel 2.3.41. Also included in the new release are glibc 2.1.3pre3, gcc 2.95.2, XFree86 3.3.6, Gnome 1.0.54 and KDE 1.1.2. The Linux/PPC Developers' goal here is to provide a basis for Mac and PowerPC-oriented Linux distributors' own open source OS offerings. As Tom Rini, the Reference Release project manager puts it, "the ultimate goal of this project is to allow any company to make a release that will be compatible with all other existing packages". In other words, the idea is to try and avoid the fragmentation the Unix world has undergone. The Reference Release still allows distributors to expand the core functionality with their own applications, bundles and other differentiators, providing the limited degree of fragmentation Linus Torvalds was promoting during his keynote at LinuxWorld Expo last week. Despite the connection with Red Hat Linux, there is no link between Red Hat the company and the Linux/PPC Developers group. ® Related Stories LinuxPPC readies retail release SuSE Linux joins Debian to embrace Mac
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

CallNet back in action

CallNet 0800 -- the ISP that claims to offer "no catch" 24/7 0800 access to the Net -- began accepting new customers at the weekend, more than three months after first suspending registrations back in November. The ISP was forced to drop the gate and restrict access to the service only days after the service went live in late October after being inundated with Net users eager for toll-free access. A spokesman for the ISP said the backlog had now been cleared, despite promises in December that the ISP would be accepting new customers by Christmas. Punters looking to sign on to the service will have to fork out £19.99 for a CallNet Telecom dialler, which automatically routes all phone calls via CallNet's network -- which is at odds with CallNet's "no catch" marketing mantra. Although CallNet will refund the outlay with £20 worth of free phone calls, it means that CallNet's new users will effectively be tied to its network for their phone calls, as well as Net access. In that respect there is little difference between CallNet, LocalTel, TelNet and any other telco that offers varying amounts of toll-free access to the Net as part of a general telecoms package. Despite this, CallNet is upbeat about its relaunch. It has half-a-million diallers ready to be dispatched to new users although those who register online (www.callnet0800.com) will be dealt with ahead of those who call CallNet's helpline on 0906 944 4040, a spokesman for the company said. Either way, don't expect to register online today and surf for nowt tomorrow. It could take as long as 28 days before the diallers and registration details arrived neatly boxed on doorsteps up and down the country. ® Related stories: Backlogged CallNet has new year hangover Cisco backs CallNet0800 expansion CallNet to re-open registration site BT blamed for CallNet collapse
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

MS pitches twin controller approach for mobile devices

One of the problems CE (and indeed, numerous other operating systems) faces in penetrating the mobile and appliance markets is that it's not fully real time, although the hardware generally doesn't take too kindly to software chiming in demanding CPU time when inappropriate. But Microsoft may have found an interesting workaround - one that also reduces the chances of your phone handset getting the Blue Screen of Death. According to Kevin Dallas, group product manager with Microsoft, at least two foundries are set to introduce silicon with dual on-board controllers aimed at mobile handset manufacturers. The pair are Philips and Wavecom. Dallas' contention is that a dual controller approach enables the call handling functions and data functions to be separated. This would mean that if a problem with a handset's WAP browser developed, for example, the user would still be able to make and receive telephone calls in the normal manner. It also means the data OS doesn't chime in and maim that important phone call, right? While dual controllers would enable a manufacturers to run two different o/s within the same handset, it would also make it easier for Microsoft to push its browser, Mobile Explorer, since any bugs wouldn't necessarily stop the entire handset from working. Part of Microsoft's strategy for the mobile phone market involves offering Mobile Explorer on multiple platforms and here, obviously, lie porting dragons. Dallas was adamant that a dual controller approach wouldn't result in lower talk time or standby times in the handset. However, The Register wasn't convinced by Dallas' opinion that such chips wouldn't raise the component costs of a handset. In fact, French manufacturer Wavecom announced an all-in-one chip - the Wismo3 - at the recent GSM World Conference in Cannes. The Wismo has squeezed virtually everything you'd expect from a GSM phone onto one piece of silicon. Functions include a dual band (900/1800 MHz) capability and GSM Phase 2+ compliance, standard voice facilities, plus SMS. On the data side, Wavecom claims to offer full fax and data facilities which include support for the SIM application toolkit and WAP. However, Wavecom even claims the Wismo3 offers onboard GPRS (packet data) support at a time when the leading handset vendors are struggling to offer the first such models. ®
Tony Dennis, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Former Borland Mr Big sells more stuff to Big M

Man of many faces Philippe Kahn has popped up again via another deal with Motorola. He's now being described as a 'software entrepreneur,' but we at The Reg think he'd be better tagged as a start-up chef, always ready to whip up a new confection for Big M to buy an undisclosed stake in. Philippe, also known as the man who put Borland where it is today (quite...), sold Starfish to Motorola a while back, and has now secured Motorola funding for his new outfit, LightSurf Technologies. We're told it was founded by Kahn and his wife, but we assume she's the new Mrs Kahn, as we heard the last one secured a sizeable portion of Philippe's lunch (no mean feat) in settlement as Borland crashed about his ears. As with Starfish, which built software for synchronising pocket devices and PCs, it's not entirely clear what is unique about LightSurf. The company has a system it calls ePhoto which is intended to allow photo quality images to be transmitted faster by wireless. Any uniqueness must lie in how good the technology is, rather than it being the only one of its kind, but presumably Motorola was so impressed by the class of the last not-unique technology to buy a slice of this one. ®
John Lettice, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

BBC can't get its tongue round the Web

The BBC has denied it has issued an edict to its broadcasters on how to read aloud Web addresses. For some months now newscasters and programme presenters have fallen into the annoying habit of misreading domains. The result, is that the syntax and poetic balance of a Web domain is completely thrown out of alignment. It grates on the ear just as nastily as a flat note in the middle of a Gregorian chant. Instead of "the register, dot co, dot uk" BBC broadcasters would say, "the register dot, co dot, uk". But it's not "the register dot, co dot, uk" in just the same way its isn't "ebay dot, com" or "amazon dot, com". Even the geezer that presents Radio 4's Poetry Please on Sunday afternoons gets it wrong. And if he can't say it properly, then what's the world coming to…? When asked whether a universal style for reading out domains has been introduced, a spokesman for the BBC said: "Not as far as I am aware." Which is odd, since so many broadcasters tend indulge in this scabrous practice. The BBC spokesman promised to look into the matter. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Be to launch info appliance OS today

Alternative OS vendor Be will launch its BeOS-derived internet appliance OS today, less than a month after the company announced it was shifting its focus away from the mainstream OS market and on to such embedded applications. First announced last November under the codename Stinger, the final release will be officially dubbed BeIA, according to Reuters. The cut-down Intel-based OS will bundle Opera Software's Web browser, and support RealNetworks' streaming media formats plus all the usual rich media browser plug-ins. It will also provide real-time features such as an 'instant boot' facility allowing IA devices to be switched on and used immediately just like other consumer electronics kit. The Reuters report suggests Be will also announce a deal with Hitachi -- a long-time BeOS supporter -- in which the Japanese giant's Digital Media Group will use BeIA for a family of internet access devices the first of which should ship before July. Be already has similar deals with Compaq and National Semiconductor, though in both those cases the companies are also supporting Linux, so Be's committed customer base is looking a tad thin. That can change, but much will depend on the Linux world's ability to bring Be's level of multimedia support to embedded versions of the open source OS, such as Lineo's Embeddix. Here at least BeIA has a lead. According to Reuters, IDC reckons (in a rather bandwagon-leaping way) that the worldwide market for information appliances will hit $17.8 billion in 2004, with shipments having surpassed those of PCs by 2002. That's good news for Be, even if it takes just a small share of the market -- assuming of course the market gets that big, based as it appears to be on the fact that the world+dog is saying they're going to make information appliances, even though there's no established user demand out there. We think there will be a large market for information appliances, but since they'll all be Sony PlayStation 2s and Nintendo Dolphins, that's not much consolation for Be, we fear. ®
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Rapid demise of Slot One causes more problems

Intel has advised system builders to make use of socket to slot convertors in order to avoid problems caused by its rapid movement from Slot One microprocessors to flip chip (FC-PGA) packaging. But OEMs are cavilling against the Intel recommendation, as being unsuitable for any products apart from the Celeron platform. In an Intel memo that the company sent out to its channel partners three weeks back, it advised that system builders could avoid some problems caused by its rapid transition between the two different platforms. In the memo, Intel said: "Intel is now shipping CA810E desktop boards to support Pentium III processors in FC-PGA package and is planning additional board offerings. Other motherboard vendors are also shipping socketed boards that support Pentium III processors in FC-PGA package. For more information about boards and slot-to-socket adapters go to the Technical Center on the IPD Net located at: http://program.intel.com/ibp/techcenter/" But several system builders in the UK have told The Register they are unwilling to use these type of adaptors, and want Intel to ship the brand new motherboards that will support the FC-PGA. So far, these are unavailable in any real quantities. ® Intel confirms huge Pentium III shortage
Mike Magee, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Big Blue boffins to unveil 4.5GHz CPU breakthrough

IBM chip scientists will this week use the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) to unveil what they claim is the world's fastest microprocessor -- a beast capable of reaching 4.5GHz clock speeds. That's over five times faster than the current top-speed Pentium III -- and, given Intel's production shortages, just as readily available. That said, with "three to four" more years of development work required to get the IBM chip to the point where it can be sold in volume, Chipzilla has plenty of time to catch up. The key to the chip's speed are multiple clocks. Unlike current CPUs, different parts of the chip operate at a pulse set by their own clocks, all of them ticking independently of each other. It's not clear yet whether that implies a multi-core CPU or whether the various clocks are simply applied to specific groups of circuitry. Either way, the upshot, says IBM, is a family of CPUs running between 3.3GHz and 4.5GHz. IBM dubs the architecture Interlocked Pipelined CMOS. The chips also draws half the power of "standard high-performance chips", according to a Reuters report, though it doesn't give examples. The power saving comes from allowing parts of the chip that can get by on low clock speeds to do so. IBM said the chips would ultimately end up in servers and science/engineering systems, both traditional applications of Big Blue's PowerPC-based Power CPUs. ® Related Stories Motorola slims chip transistors to quarter of current size Storage tech boffins to demo 140GB 'CD-ROM' Boffins pave way for 400x rise in CPU transistor count US boffins develop molecular memory UK boffins unveil $35 '2300GB on a PC Card' RAM breakthrough
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Hawkeyed Mirror hacks drop BBC clanger

The Beeb is to start shooting a brand new drama about a cybercop who scours the Net exposing "scams and shams online". Called Hawk and featuring ex-Citizen Smith star Robert 'Wolfie' Lindsay, the programme is named after his Web site, hawk.com. Well, that's what today's Mirror said. Except that hawk.com belongs to US-based Hawk Technologies, which provides "systems and network integration services for complex heterogeneous networks". And let's face it, that's hardly a crime now, is it -- providing systems and network integration services for complex heterogeneous networks, I mean? A spokesman for the BBC Hawk was only a working title. She knew nothing of Hawk.com. Well it's good to know that's all sorted now. But if the Beeb's new fictional cybercop wants a scam to investigate, he can start with looking into why the BBC wants to levy an extra tax to pay for its digital TV services on top of its normal terrestrial licence fee. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Welcome to the post-PC era

Sales of PCs will soon be outstripped by Net devices, if research giant IDC is to be believed, ushering in the dawn of the post-PC era. In the US last year, sales of Net devices stood at 11 million units, with a value of $2.4 billion. But by 2004, that figure is expected to rocket to 89 million units, with a value of $17.8 billion. Pointing to interest in Sega's Dreamcast, Web-enabled TV sets and the introduction of Net access to PDAs and mobile phones, IDC reckons the PC market will be playing second fiddle to Net devices within three years. IDC claims that by 2002 the US consumer PC market will stand at around 23 million units, with the combined market for Net-enabled devices at around 25 million. While the development of such devices is likely to bring Internet access to the masses via a number of hardware routes, the market will only reach its potential if manufacturers work to keep prices down, says IDC. With prices generally at the sub-$500 mark, IDC reckons that this needs to stay much lower than $500. Speaking in a Reuters release, IDC analyst Kevin Hause, said the non-PC hardware would appeal to two camps of user. "One group will be people who don't have PCs and who are intimidated or for whatever reason, don't want a PC. This is where many companies are targeting today, i.e., 'Let's get this for our grandparents, who don't have a PC but want to get on the Web." Hause reckons the second group will be made up of the IT-literate, who are ready to embrace a new wave of technology and exploit its possibilities. ® Related Stories Samsung at work on $200 'disposable' PC Palm dismisses WAP out of hand PC safe from digital TV onslaught
Sean Fleming, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

3dfx fires 20 per cent of workforce

The scheduled launch date for 3dfx's upcoming next-generation Voodoo 4 and 5 graphics acceleration products may be getting nearer, but not close enough to save the company financial embarrassment. Last week the loss-making company was forced to lay off 20 per cent of its staff -- 130 people in total -- in a bid to cut costs. It also said its high-end Special Technologies Group would be spun off, again in a bid to reduce the company's overheads. Getting rid of the STG will contribute to the overall jobs cuts. The STG develops Voodoo-based products for the Windows NT workstation market, something that's arguably more the purview of 3dfx's partner Quantum 3D, which operates in the high-end simulation market and in which 3dfx has also invested. Not that a swinging axe should surprise anyone. CEO Alex Leupp, who replaced the disgraced Greg Ballard last November, said at the time he was willing to make major cuts in order to get 3dfx back to profitability. 3dfx went into the red during its first quarter of 1999 after the company splashed out on the acquisition of board maker STB. However, the much-delayed development of its VSA-100 chip, the successor to the Voodoo 3, has clearly proved costly. VSA-100 based products were originally slated to ship during autumn 1999, but will now not see light of day before spring 2000, a six-month slide that prompted Ballard's resignation. ®
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Ageism has no place at Sun – 500 year olds welcome

When The Register's own favourite PR person, Doctor Spinola, applied for a job at Dell a few months back, he was somewhat dismayed to discover that the Great Satan of Hardware deemed his 27 years' experience in the industry to be insufficient for their needs. He should consider himself lucky he didn't try Sun -- a couple of tasty looking jobs on their Web site have even more demanding specifications: "PS consultants will have 35 years' practical experience of detailed design and implementation on major Internet projects." Seems pretty tough, but we feel it's unlikely many potential employees will be able to meet the requirement for more -- ahem -- senior staff: "Principal consultants have 515 years' broad IT experience." So if you were born around the same time as William Shakespeare, then it might be worth checking out the ads at http://www.sun.co.uk/ojp/uk81.html and http://www.sun.co.uk/ojp/uk83.html
Pete Sherriff, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq wants return to storage SANity

Broad hints that Compaq might invest more money in the storage market by buying a company shortly have so far come to nothing, but the company did say today it will spend $6 million on building an Open SAN lab open to all other vendors and at the same time announced a new division called the Storage Software Business Unit. Donal Madden, storage business manager at Compaq UK, said that its Open SAN (storage area networks) initiative will be open to all vendors in a bid to create a worldwide, unified storage area network. "Customers are saying we don't want to be tied into one vendor and would like to see transparency between them," he said. "The next steps are Open SANs supporting applications, file systems, operating systems, server platforms, storage systems and tape libraries," he said. However, while this may suggest to IT managers that in the future all their disparate systems will talk to each other cheerfully, behind the scenes there are evidently big rifts. Market leader EMC is promoting something called the Fibre Channel Alliance, which Madden described as "quite self-serving", and includes a list of vendors. However, EMC, together with Compaq, HP, Sun and IBM are members of the Storage Network Interoperability Association (SNIA). Madden explained that Compaq is funding the $6 million lab and welcomes the other members of SNIA to share efforts. Essential storage facilities such as a zero backup window, which allows IT managers to ensure their systems have no down time, will be made widely available as part of the open initiative. But the happy days when everything talks to each other are likely to be some little way away. Compaq's storage roadmap shows that halcyon period as being in between the middle and the end of next year. Last week, Enrico Pesatori, senior VP in charge of enterprises at Compaq, forecast that its storage business will show 22 per cent growth, year on year. ®
Mike Magee, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Bill Gates luvs Sir David Frost (true)

Bill Gates duly trooped on to Sir David Frost's BBC1 breakfast TV show yesterday, where he signalled his intention to bid with Richard Branson for the rights to run the UK Lottery. Yesterday saw the chums in good form. Gates was given the chance to make a point about the need for cutting-edge technology, complaining that "lottery terminals in the past have not used PC technology". So there was no way of leveraging what's going on with the Internet. "It's very right to say: isn't there an approach that can cost a lot less money and can be a richer experience for those that want to use it, and that's part of the vision?", Gates said. Sir David is a favourite interviewer for Bill Gates. He also has (or has had) a minor commercial relationship with Microsoft. For example, he chaired the meeting when loss-making Bloomsbury Publishing tried to cheer up its shareholders by announcing the deal with Microsoft to produce the Encarta dictionary. After the meeting, he confided to us that he would be doing a number of ventures with Microsoft. We stress that this is entirely proper: leading heavyweight news presenters Jeremy Paxman and John Humphries also preside over the occasional corporate functions. ® Related stories Gates promises enriching experience for UK lottery Gates trails antitrust deal -- but is he stalling again?
Graham Lea, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Online ads in the palm of your hand

Just as advertising on Web sites is starting to establish itself, online advertisers are being swept away on the new wave of handheld devices. With the prices of WAP phones falling and more and more content providers queuing up to service the new market's needs, WAP is thought likely to become the standard mobile phone platform within the next three to five years. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, this provides advertisers with a whole new mobile audience, all expressing preferences as to the type of content they're interested in. But it's a double-edged sword. While analysts expect there to be around 80 million WAP phone users in the US alone by 2003, there's only so much information you can display on the screen of a phone. Getting around this problem to make advertising on WAPs more credible – and therefore a more viable long-term proposition – has become the ad agencies' latest headache. The opportunities to offer a wide range of information and marketing material to people across WAP phones will undoubtedly be huge, but the screen on your phone never will be. With no room for the sort of banner ads that appear on Web sites, it may be that all that will be offered will be advertisers' logos accompanying items they have sponsored. Clicking on the logo could then direct the user to a company's Web site. Another option could be offering WAP phones free to users willing to accept a given amount of text-based advertising messages pumped out to their handset per month, picking up on the free-PC ecommerce deals that sprang up last year. ® See also: No such thing as a free PC WAP demand to hit warp ten claim supporters
Sean Fleming, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Teledesic's McCaw to pump $20m into Iridium

Iridium looks set to receive the long-anticipated cash injection from satellite comms entrepreneur Craig McCaw this week, according to the New York Times. The investment will run to at least $20 million, the paper reckons. This first payment represents little more than the what the loss-making and creditor-protected (via Chapter 11) Iridium needs to tide itself over for a couple of months. Back in December its biggest investor, Motorola, in conjunction with others also pumped in $20 million to keep Iridium operational. Further funding is likely -- not to say vital -- since many of Iridium's original investors seem unwilling to fund the debt-ridden 'mobile phone by satellite' company further. However, according to sources close to the negotiations between McCaw and Iridium, cited by the NYT, the extra cash is unlikely to buy the entrepreneur control of the company, as his massive investment in ICO Global Communications, an erstwhile Iridium competitor, did late last year. McCaw, who already runs satellite-based broadband networking operation Teledesic, is said to have offered $600 million to take over Iridium. That plan fell through in favour of the $20 million interim financing deal. If McCaw does gain control of Iridium, that will put him in charge of the three big satellite networking ventures: Teledesic, ICO (which is now recasting itself as a Teledesic competitor rather than an Iridium-style mobile comms company) and Iridium itself. Teledesic is in the process of developing and launching its high-speed 'Internet in the sky' system. ICO has yet to launch any satellites, which are now being converted from phone systems to Net access nodes. Iridium has 66 cellphone satellites in orbit. The logic behind McCaw's moves is clear: linking the three companies either by broad coalition or merger strengthens not only the businesses themselves but the whole satellite sector, an area in which McCaw has made considerable investments. The $20 million payment will have to be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge, but since McCaw's successful investments in ICO went through judicial review the Iridium deal seems unlikely to be blocked. ®
Tony Smith, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Arrow targets French distie

Chips 'n' bits distributor Arrow has moved in to buy French distributor Tekelec. Based near Paris, Tekelec had revenues in the region of $325 million last year, and sells across most of Europe. Tekelec sells AMD, Intel, Siemens/Infineon, STMicro and Linear Technology among others. Arrow is one of the world's largest distribution groups and had sales in excess of $9 billion last year. No figures were released on the deal. ®
Sean Fleming, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

AOL hot on Freeserve's heels

AOL claims to be on the brink of deposing Freeserve from its top slot as number one ISP in Britain. Andreas Schmidt, AOL Europe's head man, said that AOL's British concerns -- AOL, CompuServe and Netscape Online -- had a combined membership of some 1.6 million active users. Freeserve has just 75,000 more users, which means if it can't feel the hot air of AOL breathing on its neck then it should. Interestingly, Freeserve doesn't seem to be all that bothered. Far from getting worked up about it, a spokesman for the Dixons spin-off questioned the validity of AOL's data. "AOL is not being specific enough," he said. "Some of the figures need to be qualified... they need clarification." As you'd expect, AOL denied that the figures were inflated in any way claiming that they represented active users within the last 40 days. "We couldn't get away with making them up," said an AOL spokeswoman. So is Freeserve accusing the chairman of AOL Europe of telling porkies? Who knows? Who cares? If AOL has to quote the combined resources of three ISPs just to try and score a PR point over Freeserve, then good luck to them. As far as the figures make out, CompuServe (400,000 users) and Netscape Online (400,000 users) have not bothered the actuaries for some time now. Only AOL -- which has been at the centre of a massive PR and ad campaign publicising its 1p a minute offer for Net access -- has shown any sign of progress. AOL wouldn't say how much this latest campaign has cost, but you can bet it's a fair old whack -- and all for an extra 200,000 users. Only those within AOL will know if it's money well spent. Elsewhere, AOL has described weekend press reports that AOL Inc is looking to buy Bertelsmann's 50 per cent stake in AOL Europe as "pure market speculation". ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

AOL kicks off WAP trial

AOL Europe is to begin trialing WAP in Britain, Germany and France later this month, the company announced today. It will develop interactive content and services with Ericsson, Nokia and RTS Wireless including features such as mail, news and weather. The trial is part of the ISP's "AOL Anywhere" strategy, that allows users to access AOL, er, anywhere. ®
Tim Richardson, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Wooster sues Jeeves

The estate of author PG Wodehouse, creator of the character Jeeves the gentleman whose lesser-known gentleman employer was Bertie Wooster, is unhappy the use of the Jeeves' name by Ask Jeeves, an apparently unrelated American imposter who has become frightfully rich. London-based AP Watt, the oldest-established literary agency in the world which also looks after the literary estates of Robert Graves and Somerset Maugham, has "begun legal proceedings against the American company for breach of copyright", according to the Sunday Telegraph. However, that's not what a spokeswoman tells The Register: the parties are just engaged in "amicable discussions" and are confident of a mutually agreeable outcome, she said. This is just as well, as the legal ice looks decidedly thin. Wodehouse died in 1975, so his work has copyright protection until 2045, but there is no copyright in ideas or names. Trademarks would give some protection, but only an illustration could be trademarked, as there is no US or British trademark protection for the names of characters. Since the Wodehouse estate appears to have no registered trademarks, imposters like Jeeves the London drycleaner and Ask Jeeves the search engine and a host of other imitators can probably co-exist legally. The secretive Wodehouse trust is keeping tight-lipped, but the odds must be that it hopes to get a settlement lest Jeeves has to remove his gloves and seek satisfaction. The odds of a passing-off action for an unregistered trademark must be pretty minimal. However, Ask Jeeves needs to be aware that in 1919, in My Man Jeeves, Wodehouse wrote about "excellent browsing" so there may be some hitherto precedents that Ask Jeeves needs to consider. ®
Graham Lea, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Wooster sues My Man Jeeves

The estate of author PG Wodehouse, creator of the character Jeeves the gentleman whose lesser-known gentleman employer was Bertie Wooster, is unhappy with the use of the Jeeves' name by Ask Jeeves, an apparently unrelated American imposter who has become frightfully rich. London-based AP Watt, the oldest-established literary agency in the world which also looks after the literary estates of Robert Graves and Somerset Maugham, has "begun legal proceedings against the American company for breach of copyright", according to the Sunday Telegraph. However, that's not what a spokeswoman tells The Register: the parties are just engaged in "amicable discussions" and are confident of a mutually agreeable outcome, she said. This is just as well, as the legal ice looks decidedly thin. Wodehouse died in 1975, so his work has copyright protection until 2045, but there is no copyright in ideas or names. Trademarks would give some protection, but only an illustration could be trademarked, as there is no US or British trademark protection for the names of characters. Since the Wodehouse estate appears to have no registered trademarks, imposters like Jeeves the London drycleaner and Ask Jeeves the search engine and a host of other imitators can probably co-exist legally. The secretive Wodehouse trust is keeping tight-lipped, but the odds must be that it hopes to get a settlement lest Jeeves has to remove his gloves and seek satisfaction. The odds of a passing-off action for an unregistered trademark must be pretty minimal. However, Ask Jeeves needs to be aware that in 1919, in My Man Jeeves, Wodehouse wrote about "excellent browsing" so there may be some hitherto precedents that Ask Jeeves needs to consider. ®
Graham Lea, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel claims volume 1GHz on Coppermine RSN™

Peter Green, design manager of the logic design group at Intel in the US is, as you read this, delivering a technical paper at the Solid State conference demonstrating how 1GHz can be delivered on the existing Coppermine Pentium III core. He is telling the delegates that Intel has succeeded in producing the chip using existing aluminium interconnects, but confirmed today the process is much simpler if you use copper. Copper will not be used as the interconnect until 2001. Green described Intel's breakthrough as a "holistic approach", while other personnel said that 1GHz chips using the notched poly approach will be on the market very soon, although they declined to give an exact date. "You have a transistor budget that allows the scaling of voltage to reduce power in the design," said Green. "Smaller dimensions translate to higher core performance." Plus, said Green, Intel had overcome an architectural bottleneck in its re-fresh of the Coppermine design -- which will still have a 256K level two cache. "This hungry beast needs to be fed," he said. "We've made substantive changes to the buffer sizes from one entry to four entries. The end result is we can get all the benefit of level two cache on the front side bus. The bottom line is we've optimised this architecture...to give the best possible performance for the Pentium III and so that we scale to very high frequencies." He confirmed that Intel had used the same notched poly design on its .18 micron process on the 800MHz part it announced last century. But, he added: "This is not just marketing hype, it's tangible performance." The whole aluminium design had to be rerouted through the six layer aluminium layer, he said. "You need to make sure that your design is optimised," he said. "It's very easy to optimise incorrectly and to a point where you're limited by interconnect delays." He said: "We believe we've done this without using any compression by using aluminium -- the engineering factor was barely insubstantial. The key features of this process are in generating very thin gate dialectrics, and they've done it again -- I'm not quite sure how they [Intel] have done it." In short, he said, the transistor technology enables us to have a manufacturing design in the gigahertz domain. "The result is a synergy of three engineering disciplines", he added. "This is a very provable aluminium technology with good yields," he said. "We will have a 1GHz design and it will manufacture. This will ship in volume this year." The slides show that Intel has managed to make an 800MHz Pentium III Coppermine procesor that only consumes 26 watts. Hence, maybe not so many fans. The slides also show "estimated" SPECfp scaling, and that the 1GHz Coppermine will achieve a 1.20 percent improvement over published figures for the 733MHz CuMine part. There are "no kinks in performance scaling", the figures show. The, again estimated, SPECint figures show the same figure. Other slides show that Intel has managed to use the same aluminium design interconnect simulated at over 200MHz the targeted frequency. Further, Intel claims: "There is no performance compromise for using proven Aluminum (sic) interconnect". He said: "I don't want to knock copper. If we had used copper it would have been a little bit easier but in manufacturing terms we can do this with aluminium." Intel has succeeded in its shortfall with supplying 733MHz and 800MHz parts, company representatives claimed. The representatives said: "We've been in quite tight supply and we're doing the best we can to ramp up demand. Demand is still at the same level as it was at the end of Q1. We met all of our committments in Q4, but going into Q1 the demand was quite high and there's pressure on us to ramp up." Willamette will use the same .18 micron (Coppermine) process technology with aluminium, but with "a slightly different core", Intel said. Willamette is also likely to use notched technology, it transpired. Speculating wrongly, as we did, when we first reported today's announcement on the 24 November last, we presumed this would be some type of Willamette. Now we know differently. Sorry. At least we got the story first. ® *RSN may be a trademark of Situation Publishing Limited, but stands for real soon now.™ Race to 1GHz bad for end users Big Blue boffins to unveil 4.5GHz breakthrough Willamette is Intel's favourite Petzilla Intel to demo 1GHz IA-32 February 2000
Mike Magee, 07 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Surprise, Surprise, Corel gets Inprise

Corel is taking over Inprise/Borland to form what it calls a Linux powerhouse. The Canadian firm is splashing out $2.44 billion of its new-found paper wealth for the privilege. And of course it was The "L" word that made the deal possible. Driving the deal was the recent share price rise on the back of Corel's announcement of a Linux distribution and its WordPerfect suite for Linux. Combined revenues of the two companies, using 1999 data, is $418 million. Inprise/Borland shareholders will own 44 percent of Corel. Cowpland remains as CEO and President, while Dave Fuller, the interim CEO of Inprise, will be Chairman. Corel CEO Michael Cowpland has taken a few risks in his time, the biggest of which was a bold bid for WordPerfect, which he got from Novell at a bargain price, although turning the product around nearly broke Corel's back. Corel and Inprise shares both edged up around 3 per cent on news of the merger. ®
Graham Lea, 07 Feb 2000