20th > March > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Mattel sues hackers, wins injunction

The makers of Cyber Patrol, a popular Web-filtering software product, filed suit against two computer enthusiasts who are distributing a crack enabling precocious sprouts to decrypt their parents' password or the product's secret list of banned URLs and so access forbidden Web sites. Microsystems Software, in partnership with toy maker Mattel, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking an order barring crypto buffs Eddy Jansson and Matthew Skala from distributing their 'cphack' cracking utility. The pair have also written a thorough critique of the Cyber Patrol software posted here, and offering mixed conclusions. They are particularly contemptuous of the program's password and URL database encryption methods (though we wonder why more than a trivial crypto routine would be needed in a product meant to defeat precocious nine-year-olds). The software wins praise for not using keyword filtering: "the absence of filtering based on content keywords is surprising, but welcome. The technology does not exist to make content-based filtering really functional," the two critics note. "Cyber Patrol is - technically - somewhat better than NetNanny and CyberSitter, the two other censorware packages we have intimate knowledge of, but there is still far too much 16-bit code for it to be really stable." They also note that Cyber Patrol's reliance on finding and logging objectionable sites has its pitfalls, chief among them the fact that a site overlooked by the company's Web-crawlers, or one recently run up, will not be blocked. Furthermore, the list of banned URLs may itself be controversial, if not downright objectionable, to some users. In its legal filing, Mattel/Microsystems said it has suffered "irreparable harm" from the publication of the essay and attached cracking utility, which it said could destroy the market for its product by rendering it ineffective. Alternatively, the company could just put some effort into making its software more difficult to crack -- but we digress. The claim of irreparable harm is contradicted by the company's own admission that "relatively few" people are believed to have downloaded the cracking utility to date. U.S. District Judge Edward Harrington granted Mattel, which markets CyberPatrol, its request for an injunction on Friday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 27 March, at which time it will be decided whether the injunction should stand or not. We wonder why Mattel is being so heavy-handed in guarding that secret, encrypted list of banned URLs. One explanation is the legal heat they might be subject to from those who object to being deemed ban-worthy by a toy manufacturer. We understand that sites related to journalism, fine food, and student organisations are among the forbidden thousands. There could easily be a lawsuit or two lurking in that list, we reckon. Most disturbing, the Mattel suit seeks to order the Web hosts where the utility is published to turn over records identifying everyone who visited the Web sites and downloaded the program. Mattel wants the logs of all those who have downloaded cphack in order "to track the identities and addresses of all persons who accessed the bypass code." While it's inconceivable that any judge in his right mind would grant such an outrageous request, the mere fact of asking is so decidedly creepy that The Register wonders if the welfare of children really ought to be trusted to these people. ®
Thomas C Greene, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq, HP slog it out in retail sector

Sources revealed prices and specifications of both Compaq and HP boxes aimed at the retail market, confirming a battle royal in the sector. As we reported 10 days ago, Compaq will introduce two machines based on Pentium III Coppermine processors -- the 7598, using a 600MHz chip, and the 7599, using a 700MHz processor. Both of these models, which will be aimed at the retail PC market, include built in 56K modems, a 40GB hard drive, CDRW, a 40-speed CD ROM, 128MB of memory and a so-called Quick Cam system. The former machine will cost $1,500 retail while the latter, which substitutes a DVD device, will cost $1,700. But Compaq will not have its own way in the retail sector, as long-time rival Hewlett-Packard readies its own offerings. HP will introduce a total of four machines, one of which uses the recently released 566MHz Celeron, while the top of the range model uses an Athlon 850 MHz. The specifications and prices of the HP boxes are as follows. The 6645C will come with 64MB memory, a 15GB hard drive, CDRW, a built in 56K modem, and will cost $850. The 8655C uses a Pentium III 533MHz processor, again comes with 64MB of memory, has a 30GB hard drive, a 40x CD ROM, CDRW, a built in 56K modem and will cost $1050. HP's 8665C uses a 600MHz Coppermine Pentium III, comes with 128MB memory, a 30GB hard drive, a 40x CD ROM, CDRW, a 56K modem and costs $1,399. The Athlon machine in its line-up, the 9695C, uses a 850MHz AMD chip, comes with 128MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive, DVD, CDRW, DSL, a network interface card (NIC), and a 56K modem. It will cost nearly $2,300. This last machine is also likely to be bundled with a TNT2 card. While these machines will be available in the US very shortly, we have no information as to when they will cross the pond. ®
Mike Magee, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Yankee legislators, stay home

Another day, another fight over domain name policing. The latest twist in the top-level domain name saga concerning .com, .net and .org see new disputes over fees charged by Networks Solutions Inc, and a legal jurisdiction land-grab spat. A proposed class-action suit against the 1995 agreement between NSI and the National Science Foundation brought by eight plaintiffs in the San Francisco District Court seeks $800 million in fee refunds and $900 million in damages, supposedly because of the charging of fees for domain name registration. The constitutional issues are said to concern taxing and commerce clauses, while the Administrative Procedures Act obliges the government to hold hearings on the reasonableness of fees before they are enacted. The User Fee Statute requires that fees may not exceed the cost of providing the service. This case follows on from the earlier dismissal of a narrower class action case. Separately, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has decided that the domain registry is not "a quintessential government service". The American Internet Registrars Association supports the new action. NSI is accused of failing to regulate properly, and abusing its monopoly power by encouraging companies to register for .com, .net and .org suffixes. However, NSI had agreed to observe all Internet protocols and policies, which should have excluded applications for all three top-level domains by one applicant, it is argued, since .com is supposed to be used by for-profit firms, and .org by not-for-profit organisations. Virginia calling There is also conflict between registered domain names and registered trademarks, but with US control over the key high-level domain suffixes, the reasonable resolution of disputes involving trademarks registered outside the US is very difficult if one party insists that US courts must be used. In trademark law, the date of first commercial use is generally more important than the date of registration, but practice varies. There is a further problem area with US service marks, which do not have a universal equivalent outside the US. Clinton's Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act last November gave some US protection for personal names and registered trademarks, but it could only apply in the US. A complicating territorial issue emerged earlier this month when a US District Court in Virginia decided it had jurisdiction over all top-level domains registered in Virginia - and of course Network Solutions is headquartered there. Although the court cannot resolve damages claims, it can order that a domain name be differently registered - but the value of a domain name to a business can of course be very considerable, so any decisions by a Virginia court could have significant consequences. This potentially gives US organisations preferential access to the US courts, and it remains to be seen as to how significant this ruling becomes. Last November the BBC tried to get bbc.org from the Greater Victoria (British Columbia) Computer Users' Association --the "BBC" here stands for "Big Blue and Cousins", in use since 1985 and with the domain name registered in 1995 --since it said that it held a registration in Canada for BBC. At the moment, BB&C is considering its options, and points out that "there are considerable costs to changing the domain name", which looks like a negotiating position. The first case has been resolved with the World Intellectual Property rganisation being the designated arbitrator, and it was encouraging that an international body was involved in the arbitration. An Albany, NY company called musicweb wanted the domain name musicweb.com but it had already been bagged, and by a cybersquatter. Because the name had been offered for sale, it was not hard to prove bad faith and no legitimate right to the name. The cybersquatter didn't show up to defend the case. It is still not clear whether arbitration will take precedence over litigation, although for a plaintiff US litigation appears to be an alternative to arbitration. It would seem that some restriction on the number of domain names that can be registered by an organisation or individual is desirable. The new procedures are likely to make some names presently held by cyberquatters vulnerable to take over, and so a new domain-name rush could be shortly underway as cybersquatters are challenged for valuable domain names. Another issue that will need to be confronted is the use of national suffixes for unrelated purposes - for example Turkmenistan's .tm in Sony.tm, where the desire is to indicate a trade name. It would have been sensible if .us had been used more widely in the USA, and top-level domains kept for qualified significant internationally-operating organisations, but it's too late for that now. As to whether the new domain name regulatory system will work in practice, we shall have to wait until there is a reasonable body of cases before making a judgement. But having ultimate top-domain name control subject to US law is not a comfortable situation. ®
Graham Lea, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Lastminute loves World Online

Dutch ISP World Online and lastminute.com are to snuggle up together and embrace one another as part of a joint marketing deal. In return for providing selective just-in-the-nick-of-time offers on a joint branded Web page, lastminute.com will get a slice of revenue from advertising and sales. Which is nice, as the newly-floated company's share price has slid a smidgen closer to its offer price this morning despite reports that the bank managing the float, Morgan Stanley, has being doing its utmost to prop up the shares. One investor who was underwhelmed with his allocation of 35 shares said he might auction them on eBay -- individually -- as novelty items. Alternatively, he might be tempted to exchange his shares for a rusty old bike dredged out a canal. Or maybe a sodden, weed strewn shopping trolley. Whatever. On Friday, lastminute.com announced a similar joint marketing initiative with cableco ntl. ®
Tim Richardson, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

AOL mops up Bertelsmann stake

It's been on the cards since AOL acquired Time-Warner, but now it's happened: AOL has agreed to buy Bertelsmann's 50 percent stake in AOL Europe and AOL Australia to AOL for $6.75 to $8.25 billion - but not until after January 2002. In Europe, AOL has around 15 per cent of the market, according to Datamonitor. CEO Thomas Middelhoff told Welt am Sonntag that Bertelsmann now has DM75 billion ($37 billion) for acquisitions after deciding to concentrate on content. The sum is arrived at if Bertelsmann mortgages the AOL cash, if it is needed before the transaction closes. Immediate plans are to fill gaps in Bertelsmann's Hispanic, French, Italian and Asian portfolio, with perhaps US newspaper acquisitions and more TV interests in Europe. Another objective is probably an increased presence in online book sales -- the company has been digitising all its intellectual property with a view to selling on-demand books over the Web. So far, Bertelsmann has sold AOL shares worth more than DM1 billion. After the disposals, Bertelsmann will still have 0.7 per cent of AOL, which it intends to sell at an opportune moment, Middelhoff said. Middelhoff had announced his resignation from the AOL board, if the Time-Warner merger went through, because in some areas there was direct competition. The subsequent intended merger between Time-Warner and EMI extended the area of overlap to the music business, after Bertelsmann failed to acquire EMI. However, Sony Music could still be a Bertelsmann target. BOL International, the Internet music/bookstore will also be floated next quarter, it was announced over the weekend. Bertelsmann was given the chance to merge with AOL before the Time-Warner deal was sealed, but declined to do so, according to a report in Time Europe. ®
Graham Lea, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq gets PC boost from Gartner

A note from the Gartner Group to its customers has claimed that Compaq had solved many of its difficulties with its acquisitions of Tandem and DEC (Digital), as well as channel problems, and should be a "strong short list" candidate when corporate buyers are putting PC acquisitions out to tender. The report, called Compaq's PC Business: going forward or going nowhere, says that despite adverse financial conditions and market share indications, the company's strategy in both the notebook, PC and server markets shows steady progress. According to Gartner, many of its customers were concerned that "inner turmoil" at The Big Q could affect the company's position in the PC market. But Gartner tells them that Compaq's offerings and strategy are technically sound and also feature competitive. Although Compaq, like HP and Big Blue, are in the midst of a big sea change as they move to direct models, the firm is now able to deliver results, the report says, although it is likely to be between one and two years before it reaps the full benefit of these changes. Further, Gartner adds, Q still dominates the market for servers in both Europe and the US, and its "loyal" customer base has been aided by SAN (storage area network) and management offerings. According to the report, prices of Q servers can be as much as 30 per cent over equivalent pricing from Big Blue, Dell and HP, but will drop this pricing if faced with stiff competition from the other vendors. Delays in delivering innovations are often viewed by corporate customers as in their favour, rather than to their detriment. Q desktop PCs, like other offerings, are difficult to differentiate in a market which is rapidly becoming a commodity market, but Gartner says that Compaq's so-called "beyond the box" approach, which includes service and support, will aid the firm as it competes. Further, Gartner claims that boxes such as the iPaq are "precisely the type of offering" Compaq needs. Gartner thinks the iPaq will cannibalise Deskpro sales by the end of the second half of next year. Notebooks from Compaq have also now made steps after turbulence as it sought to consolidate the DEC (Digital) line of notebooks. ®
Mike Magee, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

MIPS, TSMC strike joint soft/hardcore licence deal

A joint venture between MIPS and foundry TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) means players wanting to get quickly to market with 64-bit and 32-bit technologies now have a cheaper and easier route, an executive told The Register today. Under the terms of the agreement, which have not been disclosed, MIPS Technologies will license its embedded designs to TSMC, allowing for off-the-shelf solutions for convergency companies and other firms offering home entertainment systems, said John Hall, VP of MIPS Technologies Europe. Hall said: "Previously our licensing model has been based on soft cores. We've taken our entire 32-bit and 64-bit product line which will be optimised for the TSMC [foundry] process, in particular for the 64-bit market." He said that MIPS and TSMC will now, together, offer solutions which will be "a magnitude less expensive" than previous models. In particular, the ability to offer so-called 64-bitness would be attractive to a range of players looking for additional features and security. Companies and startups wanting to create solutions would be able to approach the companies and buy a complete hard core solution using Mips technology off the shelf. Applications could include consumer electronics -- such as high end hi-fi systems, networking infrastructure, and gaming manufacturing companies. Firms creating PDAs and Internet access solutions would also be able to take advantage of a faster time to market, said Hall. The deal between MIPS and TSMC will not, said Hall, cut across existing licencees of its technology. "Many of our existing customers already go to TSMC as a foundry," he said. The alliance will also allow for future cores developed by MIPS to be ported to TSMC processes. At the end of last week, TSMC announced it had developed what it claimed was a breakthrough in 0.15 micron process technology. The foundry is the largest on the island of Taiwan. ®
Mike Magee, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Heat is on to find the world's most boring Web site

Do you think you know the world's most boring web site? Then send the URL to former snooker world champion Steve 'Interesting' Davis at notinteresting@altodigital.com. Many hours of surfing has convinced him that he is "not after all the most boring man in the world. "I've come out of the closet and am proud to be boring. I'm glad to see just how many othere people are making a public statement of their boringness through their Web site." The nominator of the world's most boring Web site will receive a signed snooker cue from Davis, who is conducting the stunt on behalf of altodigital.com, a web hosting business for SMEs. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel i820 sales flap weakly towards flop

Caminogate Initial suspicions that Intel's i820 chipset is a turkey have been confirmed by Taiwanese newspaper The Commercial Times, which reports that four big mobo companies have said sales have failed to get off the ground. At CeBIT 2000 last month, we reported that a number of Taiwanese mobo manufacturers were unhappy with sales of mainboards using the i820 (Camino) chipset, despite attempts to fix problems which dogged its introduction last year. Earlier in the month, senior Intel VP Pat Gelsinger told The Register that "multimillions of i820" motherboards would ship in the second quarter of this year. But now the Commercial Times has obtained validation of our CeBIT straw poll from four of the largest mobo manufacturers, Asustek, First International Corporation (FIC), Elitegroup, and Gigabyte. They told the newspaper that while last year over 60 per cent of motherboards used the popular BX chipset, the decision to phase that out in favour of the i820 chipset were "dismal" and showed little sign of improving. The big Taiwanese mobo firms said that said i820 sales accounted for less than 10 per cent of their totals last month. The reasons weren't just because of the glitches that hit Intel last year and last month, but also due to the high price of Rambus modules, and the i820 itself being more expensive than the BX chipset. The BX set still remains popular, and Intel has extended its life, but only a little. You can find our original CeBIT story here, and the Commercial Times story here. Pat Gelsinger's comments about the i820 chipset can be found here. ®
Mike Magee, 20 Mar 2000
Grinning man in suit points at a calculator meaningfully. Pic via Shutterstock

10 ways The Budget can boost UK tech industry

Recommedations from PWC Ahead of tomorrow's Budget, PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) technology division has published a list of ten things it would like to see included in the Chancellor's speech.
Sean Fleming, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

So Farewell, Iridium, shot down in flames

Ill-fated Iridium has died after failing to find a buyer on Friday. The US phone company's 66 satellites worth $6 billion will be pulled out of orbit at a cost of more than $40 million to parent company Motorola. Services have been severed with most of the company's 55,000 customers. The company said it would spend $8.3 million of its remaining cash to start closing the business. The satellites will now crash into the sea in a planned "de-orbit". Apparently, this is better than leaving the satellites each the size of a Volkswagon Beetle, to rot in space (they'd get in the way of working satellitees). On Friday, Iridium was reported to be reviewing several bids to submit to the bankruptcy court and keep its 66-satellite network in orbit. Bidders for the company included Gene Curcio, owner of Los Angeles telecomms company Crescent Communications. Curcio's lawyer, Sa'id Mosteshar, was reported to have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "We are close to an agreement." Curcio wanted Motorola to continue running the satellites for the next two to three months. He had arranged for the task to be then taken over by General Dynamics. No financial details were revealed. The entrepreneur wants to harness Iridium to provide mobile-phone services to areas such as the Middle East and Africa which are poorly served by landlines. Iridium, which filed for bankruptcy in August, has debts of $4.4 billion. ® Related Stories Motorola tells Iridium customers to expect the worst Nippon Iridium halts new subscriptions Iridium steels itself to decommission satellites
Linda Harrison, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Beijing issues cybercafe porn guidelines

Beijing officials have threatened to shut down cybercafes where punters are caught peering at porn. A statement has been issued laying down strict new guidelines in an attempt to wipe out "mischievous" use of the Web, The China Daily reported. The authorities said they planned to vet all cafes to judge who was worthy of running one. They warned owners about allowing "any activities that would damage state security, disturb public order and interfere with the public's rights and interests". Web naughties are seen as one of the most serious offences by communist China. "Internet cafes where customers are found viewing Internet pornography will be shut down permanently or temporarily," the paper said. This attempt to restrict freedom on the Net is the second in China this year. Last month, officials in Shanghai raided and claiming they posed a threat to state secrets. There are an estimated nine million Web users in China with potential access to information outside the control of the country's censorship machine. ® Related Stories China shuts down Internet cafes China orders Web sites to guard against security leaks Chinese dissident released from jail China eases crypto restrictions
Linda Harrison, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Apple defeats ‘OS 9’ trademark suit

An attempt to force Apple to drop the 'OS 9' from its MacOS 9 operating system was chucked out of court on Friday. Veteran OS developer Microware Systems brought the case after MacOS 9 was released last autumn. Microware offers an operating system of its own called OS-9, and has done for years. It claimed Apple had infringed its trademark. Not so, said the US District Court. Apple's use of MacOS 9 was permissible under the principle of 'fair use', presumably since it refers to the OS' version number and not its name. In any case, MacOS 9 and OS-9, despite the fact they both run on the PowerPC processor, are aimed at very different markets: consumer and mainstream computing, and embedded applications, respectively. So there's little or no chance that buyers of one would confuse it with the other. ®
Tony Smith, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

When was the last time you read the Bible?

How we laughed. We spotted a story in the business section of yesterday's Observer (19 March) about Lastminute.com finding itself in legal hot water courtesy of a German travel agency. The story had been broken, the Absurder said, by "Silicon.com, the online IT industry news bible". The whole thing read as though the Sunday paper swallowed a Silicon press release in full (even if Jon Bernstein's name was spelt wrong). Still, it gave us pause for thought. Silicon is the Bible? What does that make us – the karma sutra of the IT news industry perhaps? The Bible – everyone knows what it is, but most people don't read it anymore. Some people believe it is the word of God, others think it's a work of fiction. We're also not sure where in Genesis the creation of silicon (or even sand for that matter) gets a mention, but we're not theologists and are ready to have that pointed out to us. ®
Felix Culpa, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Ex-magistrate faces jail over obscene email blizzard

A former magistrate faces five years in jail after bombarding another JP with a torrent of abusive emails.
Linda Harrison, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

The supersoaraway STMicro sales machine

STMicroelectronics will post Q1 revenues 46 per cent up on the same period last year. Sales for the period to April 1, are expected to come in at $1.6 billion or higher, against $1.1 billion in Q1, 1999, according to the French chip giant. Analysts says it is riding high on the back of booming demand from mobile phone makers. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Net price wars are just beginning – ICL

The outbreak of the internet-access price war is good news for consumers as well as for the start-up companies - many of which will require a large consumer base if they are ever to see profits. More significantly, it represents the first real step towards a world where everyone can access the internet "any time, any place, any where" - via a mobile phone, TV or PC. The internet will become a universal medium, like TV or radio. Consumers beware - read the small print. The cost of providing dial-up internet access has fallen for the telcos, but not to zero. Beware of deals that give with one hand and take with the other. People may be confused by a complex choice of bundled internet and voice tariffs. Call charges are just one of the costs consumers have to consider. The dominant means of internet access is currently through the PC - still a luxury item for many. Universal access will only become a reality with low-cost, mass-market devices. The other key internet-access devices will be wireless application protocol (WAP)mobile phones, which are just starting to appear in the UK. However, the cost of surfing the net from your mobile phone can be up to 35p a minute. How long will it be before a price war breaks out in the mobile internet world too? Many people are apprehensive about the internet. It will take more than free access to tempt them online. They will need incentives such as free vouchers to take advantage of online shopping, banking and government services. Finally, organisations that aren't already online should see this as the final wake-up call. If they don't, more and more of their customers will be online, talking to their competitors. ®
Andrew Boswell, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Circuit City shuts doors on i-Opener $99 PC hack

Circuit City, the US giant computer retailer, has issued an email memo to staff, announcing that orders for multiple units of the I-Opener Net appliance would be cancelled, due to "increased demand" and limited availability. Circuit City had been selling the I-Opener, made by Texas company Netpliance, as a $99 loss leader, reducing the retail price from $299.99, assuming t would receive a slice of subscription fees, from customers who signed up with Netpliance as their ISP for $21.95 per month. However, a hack of the unit enables the user to choose a different ISP. Even better, with minor modification, the I-Opener can be turned into a fully-fledged, if rudimentary PC. Sales of the i-Opener at Circuit City have been "surprisingly brisk," according to our informant, who says: "I wouldn't be surprised if all open orders, which can't be filled for a couple of weeks at least, are cancelled". On Saturday, news of the hack was posted on Slashdot by discoverer, Ken Segler, an electronics engineer, of Las Vegas, and picked up by the New York Times. So that looks like the end of the game for wannabe $99 PC owners. You can see how it was done at linux-hacker.net/iopener. ® See also NY Times (reg req'd): From geek improvisers, a $99 Personal Computer How to hack Tesco's DVD player -- Register readers write PlayStation 2 can play US DVDs - apparently Sony may fix copy protection in mass PS2 recall
Drew Cullen, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel 866MHz, 850MHz will be launched today

As expected, Intel is expected to announce the arrival of 866MHz and 850MHz Coppermine Pentium IIIs, when the company opens its portals at eight o'clock AM, Santa Clara time. (See link at end of story -- Intel has just posted the press release 15.52 UT). The company is also expected to announce the arrival of Xeon versions of these microprocessors. The prices of such parts, when they become available, are expected to be very close to the figures we published last week, and there will be no price adjustments to accompany the PR fanfare, we understand. However, the Pentium III 850MHz in SECC2 (Slot One) format is already for sale in Tokyo's electronics area, according to Pricewatch Akihabara. There, the part is advertised at ¥109,800, which pans out at ~$1,035. Gateway Country 1GHz Athlon systems are already on sale at Akihabara, reader BATTLAX informs us. We have had confirmation that these systems have also started to appear in US outlets. The Japanese text, according to the translation by Lernout & Hauspie software, adds that the Pentium III 800MHz part is in extremely short supply. So how is availability on our UK barometer for AMD and Intel processors? A check at the Intel page at SMC Direct, shows some improvement on previous weeks, but still a desperate shortage of some Pentium IIIs. There is a temporary shortage of 733MHz and 666MHz processors, while a 550MHz processor has a due date of the 12th of May. One 750MHz and one 800MHz chip are due at the end of this month. There are also big shortages of Xeon processors. On the AMD front, there are shortages of the Athlon 850MHz, while the 800MHz processor is available. The 550MHz Athlon, which we confidently expect to be resurrected to compete against future Celerons based on Coppermine technology, are not currently listed at this AMD listing at SMC Direct. Meanwhile, sources close to AMD have confirmed that its Dresden fab 30 will come on stream in Q2, although full production is likely towards the end of the quarter, in June. AMD is to produce Thunderbird chips with on-die cache during this period. Intel's press release has just been posted and is here, with prices which differ from those which OEMs told us last week. ®
Mike Magee, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Florida software pirate sent to jail for 30 months

A Florida man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for trafficking in counterfeit software, after he was caught with just $52,000 of bootlegged product in his possession. The Business Software Alliance hails the Florida State Circuit Court's tough stance - which is not altogehter so surprising really - this represents a significant escalation in sentence tariffs for software piracy. The convicted pirate, Atlantic Beach resident David Pugh, flogged bootleg software over the Internet. Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers raided his house, after making test purchases. They found more than 1000 CD-ROMs containing pirated software. Following his release from jail, Pugh is subject to two years' probation, during which he is barred from owning computers or from having a computer in his home. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Tubbie Terror spreads like an epidemic

It's a sick, sick world out there. After discovering a cult following for the Tubbie Terror Web site last week – where the fluffy funsters' blood flowed like rivers – we decided to peer into the darker side of the Web. And what an educational experience it's been. So many cute, cuddly characters to kill in cyberspace, but so little time. For example, we found another Teletubby killing site - Teletubby Fun Land – where surfers get the chance to "find out what the tubbies do when the cameras are off". Here, Stinky Winky, Dipshit, Lah-Lah and Pojo are seen getting drunk on shots, turning into demons, getting blown up, and are even found in an uncompromising position with a sheep. No prizes for guessing what their friend Suck-Suck the Vacuum cleaner (Noo-Noo on TV) puts up his hose-pipe nose in his spare time. Many other sites are dedicated to the death of your favourite Microsoft toy and mine – Barney. At the Assassins site you can use "Lunatic Moxy", an "infamous bounty hunter", to tear the purple creature limb from limb. While at Barney Must Die!, users can choose to watch Barney being shot, "set the purple slug on fire!", or "hit the fat one with a hammer". Or, for the more squeamish Barney-hater, there is the Barney Fun Page – still anything but fun for Barney. Punters can choose from seven implements – a knife, gun, axe, Uzi, shotgun, motorcycle, or cannon. The rest is up to them – but it's only a black and white drawing, so don't expect anything too disturbing. Unlike Kill a Furby!, which is concerned with murdering the cuddly toys as painfully as possible. "This hellspawn is pure evil," it proclaims. "The animatronic bastard son of Gizmo and one of those chickens from the Muppets". There are two choices for death – via Microwave, or by ripping Furby's ears off. Other fluffy characters who feature in death games on the Net at the Assassins site include Miss Piggy, Scooby Doo and Bill Gate. Leonardo di Caprio is also a regular feature on cyber hit lists. At Kill Leonardo di Caprio Now! Leo haters get the chance to see the Titanic star's head explode while bobbing around in the sea. For more fascinating filth, visit whowouldyoukill.com, where you can bump off just about anyone or anything in any way you fancy. Any readers who know of other sites where cuddly characters die horrible deaths, please email us. But remember, this is a family Web site, so please keep it clean. ® Stories & links: Tubbie Terror game strikes the Web Games vendors to 'blame' for murdered students Software publisher slams British game censorship Teletubby Fun Land Assassins site Barney Must Die! Barney Fun Page Kill a Furby! Kill Bill Gates Kill Leonardo di Caprio Now! whowouldyoukill.com
Linda Harrison, 20 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Rambus stock tumbles on Tom's Hardware report

We can only imagine the flames from burnt day traders scorching Tom's Hardware's way following the site's recent blockbuster article and killer test on Rambus, the go-faster for big, big bucks memory technology. This is to blame for a 20 per cent fall in Rambus share price, an analyst claims.
Drew Cullen, 20 Mar 2000