People in Europe have long referred to the mobile phone as the executive's Tamagochi. The slur reflects the kind of love/hate relationship people have with their mobile phones here. Now, in a case of life imitating 'figure of speech', the Tamagochi may actually be appearing on mobile phones soon. Or will do if Lucent is successful in a new project with Bandai announced yesterday. Bandai is the company that created the Tamagochi. It has had runaway success in the past year with its WonderGate adapter and a bundled wireless data service. The device, an attachment for its PlayStation-like console, enables access to the Internet via wireless networks. Since its launch, more than one million subscribers signed up for the mobile data service for a cost of $3 per month. The adaptor allows people to play games played over the Internet with each other without hooking up to a cellphone or other terminal. Lucent hopes to stimulate wireless network services growth in the US by working with Bandai. The most popular Bandai service is a daily cartoon character that's designed as a background graphic for the i-mode phone display. (i-mode competes with WAP in Japan but has only a 9.6kbps connection speed). Other Bandai services offered in Japan include:
Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs is to set up his own Web site in a bid to counter some of the "absolute rubbish" written about him. The site - which will include photos from his personal collection, a biography and a chat room - will be run from Brazil, where Biggs has lived for the majority of the last 35 years following his escape from prison. His son Michael told The Register that he couldn't give a firm date for when the site would go live, although an "under construction" page would be published early next week. There were hopes that it would be published next month, but Michael has said it depended on his father's health. Biggs, 70, suffered a mild stroke last September. According to his son, he is doing "100 per cent better". "All we're waiting for is his speech to come back," he said. Long-time friend Christopher Pickard said the site will give Biggs the opportunity to "reply to rumours" and some of the "absolute rubbish" written about him the press. Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in jail for his part in the £2.6 million Great Train Robbery in 1965. He escaped from prison after just 15 months before living a life in self-imposed exile. ® Link The official Web site for the fugitive Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs
T-Online is to price its shares at €35-50, valuing the ISP anywhere between €39-55 billion (£24-55 billion), according to "people close to the share issue" cited by the FT. This will make it easily Europe's biggest Internet player. Only nine per cent of T-Online's shares will be released for IPO, and 60 per cent of this is reserved for retail investors.
As predicted, Intel has today released two Celeron processors based on its 0.18 micron Coppermine Pentium III technology. The 600MHz and 566MHz chips cost $181 and $167 respectively, provided you buy a thousand each of the babies. Intel said it will introduce faster clock speeds of the Celerons before June. Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger said his company's foot is on the throttle: "Intel is keeping its foot on the gas in the value PC market segment." Gas is the US name for petrol. The chips, again as revealed here, incorporate Screaming Sindie (SIMD) multimedia extensions and have 128KB of level two cache onboard, but the gas is not on the throttle as far as the system bus, sometimes called the front-side bus, is concerned. The processors only use a 66MHz system bus, unlike the parents which spawned them, the Pentium III CuMine microprocessors. Intel claims the Celerons are in volume production at these speeds above, and also at speeds of 533MHz, 500MHz and 466MHz. These last three, however, are at 0.25 microns. The 533MHz Celeron costs $127, the 500MHz $93, and the 466MHz Celeron a very aggressive $73. (Prices are for 1000s.) As we revealed last month, Intel hopes these new Celerons will dent AMD's Athlon model. But many observers feel this may be a mistake. AMD has already taken the price war to a new height and will introduce very aggressive Athlon pricing as well as a range of Spitfire CPUs next month. ® See also Intel .18µ Celerons to tip up next week
A new generation of dotcom millionaires will be created when mobile Internet - WAP, in other words - and third-generation (3G) cellular network vendors go public, analysts at BRC and EPS of London predict in reports released this week. If the recent activities of venture capitalists are any indication, BRC and EPS may be right. With early stage investments of these proportions, startup technology firms never had it so good. A sampling of recent venture deals involving private European firms in the WAP and mobile data business hints at IPO valuations in store.
Hypermedia, which claimed yesterday that it has succeeded in registering MP3 as a trademark in the European Union, has had a spanner thrown in its works. Another German company, mp3.de GmbH, based in Trier, the birthplace of Karl Marx, managed to file an objection to the application on the last possible day such objections could be filed. Knut Langen, director of corporate marketing at the company, said: "We have officially filed a notice of opposition against this registration to the Community Trade Marks Office, Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market." The office, based in Alicante, Spain, files all applications for trademarks in the union. Langen said: "This means the registration will be not completed until our objection is proven. Because of our opposition hypermedia GmbH has no right to use the MP3 trademark until the trademark office has made a final decision. This will take between two and four months." Yesterday, hypermedia GmbH claimed it had succeeded in registering the trademark and said it had made the move to foster innovation. ® Related Story German firm confirms it owns MP™
This definition is derived from a research report by Durlacher The Mobile Station Application Execution Environment (MExE) is, essentially, the incorporation of a Java virtual machine into the mobile phone. The MExE is a framework on mobile phones for executing operator or service provider specific applications. It enables full application programming. The protocol is integrating location services, sophisticated intelligent customer menus and a variety of interfaces, such as voice recognition. MExE will incorporate WAP, but also provides additional services exceeding the WAP functionality. It is likely that MExE will be built into future third generation, UMTS phones, which will have the processing power to run the Java programs. (UMTS is the 3G de facto standard). UMTS licenses have been granted in some countries such as Japan and the UK already and the rest of Europe in the coming months. For application developers it means that they may have to develop their products for more than one protocol, since many of the above protocols will be in the market at the same time. ®
The motherboard and server division at Intel is at loggerheads with the chipset division, a source inside the 70,000-employee company has revealed. That has led to a mass of mobos that will be released during the course of this year and next, many of which will not use Intel chipset technology. The source, who works within OPSD (the OEM platform solutions division), told The Register today that staff are "truly disgusted" with the response Intel's chipset division has given it. He said: "That is why the three server boards based on the 820 and 840 chipsets were cancelled, along with a few desktop boards. The decision to go with non-Intel chipsets for server boards was partly technical - they really are superior chipsets - and partly politics." New boards coming from Intel are the S440GE2 (aka Glen Echo or Lancewood 2) and the L440GX-2 (aka Ginko). The latter may officially be called either the SG2 or SGN2. Tupelo, meanwhile, is likely to be named the ST2 or STP2. The Glen Echo is a Lancewood (L440GX+) with enhanced Coppermine support plus Adaptec Ultra160 and SISL (Zero channel RAID) support. The SISL zero channel replaces Adaptec's ARO RAIDPort zero channel solution. It will be available in mid Q2 to early Q3. According to the mole, this is being rushed out before Intel effectively kills Slot One processors. Our information is that the Ginko and Tupelo are vastly different than the boards they are meant to replace: the Pine and the Hemlock. Although they are based on the same design, both will have dual Flip-Chip support, true PC-133 memory support (up to 4GB), with the Ginko having hardware ATA-100 RAID, and the Tupelo having dual Ultra-160 SCSI. They will both have 64-bit, 66MHz PCI, Integrated 4MB video and integrated 100Base-T LAN. The Tupelo will have a second 100Base-T NIC (network interface card) and both will both use RCC's (now Serverworks) LE3 chipset. Although these two boards are tentatively scheduled for release in early Q1 2001, they could arrive later on this year. There will be no replacement in the dual-Xeon space as the C440GX+ will not be updated to support Cascades processors. Server boards have also been modified to use non-Intel chipsets. The Juniper board will arrive soon after the Tupelo and Ginko. The Juniper will be a dual-processor Foster server running on ServerWorks' GC Chipset, while the Shasta, a four-way Foster will arrive around a quarter later, using the same chipset. The Acacia S460AC4 board will only be sold as part of a complete system, called Lion, and will be a four-way Itanium box using the Intel 460GX chipset. It is scheduled to appear in the third quarter. Intel is also readying a Cascades upgrade for its Saber technology, with an OCPRF100 eight-way system arriving probaly in August. This is codenamed the Palmetto (SRPM8) has many features of the Saber, but with new processor riser cards for the Cascades processors, and a new back end board supporting PCI-X cards, instead of just PCI-64. Later today, we will outline Intel's desktop plans for the course of this year. ® Intel Server Board strategy to 2002 Page 1 Brace, brace! It's codename conundrums Page 2 Classy chassis, Glen Echo and Raid options Page 3 End of lines, dates, closures and $1.5 million in dosh
Nintendo will soon allow mobile phone users to while away the idle moments between 'I'm on the train now' calls with a little videogame play. The Great Satan of Cartoon Italian Plumbers is working on a handset that has a built in Gameboy Color handheld console. Right now, Nokia owners can waste time on Memory (find matching pictures on a grid), Logic (aka Mastermind) and Trouser Snake (claim your cellphone has more features than everyone else's), but none are quite up to console quality. Neither is the Gameboy, really, but it does at least have a wide variety of titles behind it - so you can expect a massive Tetris revival as soon as the phone ships. Gameboy also has Pocket Monster - it says here - as will the new phone, which will allow owners of said beasties to swap them between handset courtesy of the next-generation IMT-2000 telecoms standard. The cellphone-cum-Gameboy is set to ship in Japan in 2001. ®
Spambusting London-based Internet outfit BiblioTech has chalked up a major victory in the war against junk email. It has taken on and beaten US spam supremo Sam Khuri – the man behind bulk spamming company Benchmark Print Supply – in the US. Khuri has to pay BiblioTech an undisclosed sum in damages and will have to pay $1000 to any individual affected by future spamming activities. He also faces a bill for legal costs. The scope of the ruling extends beyond BiblioTech and encompasses "all Internet users and service providers", according to today's Financial Times. In April 1999, BiblioTech rejected an offer form Khuri to settle out of court. Khuri had refused to guarantee he wouldn't spam again and consequently BiblioTech decided to go all the way. Back in January, BiblioTech pledged it would take action against anyone using its Postmaster service to distribute spam – even if this meant taking the fight to the US courts. According to the FT, this is a landmark victory in the war against spam. ® Related Stories UK anti-spam minnow takes on US big fish UK ISP takes anti-spam crusade to US
Palm Computing yesterday showed off its first set of financial results as a public company - though for most of the reported quarter, the third of fiscal 1999, it remained a 3Com subsidiary. For the three months to 25 February, the company made $15.5 million, up from the same period last year's $8.7 million, on revenues up to $272.3 million from $125.9 million. The latest figures represent year-on-year growth of 78 per cent and 116.3 per cent, respectively. That profit figure comes before one-off items are taken into consideration - when they have been Palm's income for the quarter falls to $10.9 million. The exceptional items cover separation costs and the purchase of in-process technology. Even at that level, Palm's profits amount to two cents a share, double the figure Wall Street analysts had been expecting. Next quarter's numbers will be better. The company is anticipating sales in the region of $280-295 million, though it pointed out that component shortages - LCD displays and Flash memory, in particular; apparently these are all being grabbed by cellphone vendors - could impact margin growth. On the positive side, the company now has a $1.17 billion war chest, thanks to the IPO, which took place after Q3 was complete. Palm didn't say how many machines it shipped during the quarter - though it did say it has now shipped over six million devices in total - or how its sales break down between hardware and licensing revenue. ® Related Stories 3Com readies Palm-beating Net access box Apple movie marketeer joins Palm Colour Palm VII due August
Engineering group ABB is opening cybercafés in its offices and factories. This will, the company said, give all 8000 of its UK workers access to the Internet. The first cybercafé has been opened in the company's power transmission plant in Stone, Staffordshire. ABB UK chief executive Eric Drewery said: "Prime Minister Tony Blair says he wants everyone to have Internet access by 2005. We want all our 8000 UK employees to have access now." And it's not just boring old company information that they'll have access to either. Not at all, Drewery continued: "We want to make it easier for them to organise their work and home lives by enabling them to do their grocery shopping online or book a holiday during the lunch break. Although there is a serious ecommerce side to this project, we are also stressing 'Fun at work'." But not too much fun. A representative of the Swiss-Swedish group said that while all employees were being given the opportunity to access the Net, there would be certain restrictions. Access to "material of an unsavoury nature" would be blocked, she said. The announcement does not extend to giving free net access at home to ABB UK staff. Why are we pointing this out? Because if you'd read about ABB's Net initiative in today's Financial Times you'll be labouring under the misapprehension that home access is part of the story. ABB told The Register this morning that the FT had "stretched the point a little". ABB staff who work from home will be able to access the Net free from home – but not all 8000 ABB staff. A national newspaper getting the wrong end of the stick where a technology story is concerned? Surely not... ®
Leisure and e-commerce outfit Gameplay.com, has signed a doo WAP a diddy diddy cum m-commerce agreement with a subsidiary of the Carphone Warehouse, the company announced today. The move is Gameplay.com's latest strategic move to provide games and e-commerce on a range of different platforms. Today's announcement comes on the eve of a major makeover at Gameplay. It's launching a new-look Web site tomorrow based on different microsites to suit individual interests. The company is also unveiling a new corporate identity and strapline: "Gameplay - Europe's gateway to games". And the first ads in a £10 million advertising and marketing campaign will also start fizzing through the airwaves tomorrow. "We are much more than just a dotcom," said CEO Mark Bernstein. Gosh. And all this, and from a British company to boot. It's enough make you wanna wrap yourself in a "Union Jack and buy a bulldog". ®
How embarrassing. MSNBC has published a BugNet "Top 10 reasons you do not want to install the [Microsoft] Office 2000 SR-1," while very decently and reputably stressing that "Microsoft is a partner in MSNBC." Under the circumstances we could almost forgive MSNBC for the strange and sudden disappearance of the somewhat negative story about MS exec Joachim Kempin it unpublished back in December. The problems BugNet reports aren't all yet validated, but they're all corkers, and just a short time after it was made available SR-1 looks like it's shaping up to be one of those Microsoft service packs that need an immediate service pack, because they break more things than they fix. The introduction of compulsory registration in SR-1 doesn't feature directly in the top ten as a reason for not installing, but it does look like it might be related. In at reason for not installing number eight we have "Internet installation of SR-1 requests Microsoft Office SR-1 Setup Disk." Which naturally you don't have, because you're installing from the Internet, and anyway the disks themselves aren't due to ship for weeks yet. There are various suggested explanations as to why it does this, it's maybe something to do with the new anti-piracy measures, but BugNet reports that "Some users have had workaround success using illegitimate CD keys acquired from Internet crack sites." This of course suggests that the wonderful new anti-piracy scheme being introduced with SR-1 doesn't entirely work - so much for the "successful" pilots. In addition to this, the number one reason for not installing is "Office applications exit a few seconds after opening." This may also be something to do with registration keys, as "Editing the registry and removing the product key has produced limited success with some users." Problems exist on all Windows platforms, but it looks like "Windows 2000 is having the hardest time with the Office 2000 SR-1 patch." For the full list, check here. ®
It's a very short press release -- and beggars many more questions than it answers. But here it is, in full. "S3 announced today that it is in discussions with and has received term sheets from several companies relating to the separation of S3's graphics chip business from the remainder of its businesses. "The company stated today that it is assessing all opportunities and is committed to choosing a path that will take into account the interests of its stockholders, customers and employees. "The company had no further comments with respect to these matters. There can be no assurance that any transaction will result from the discussions." So where would this leave S3? Effectively, it would turn into Diamond (bought last year), while another company would be S3. In other words, Diamond becomes Diamond again, and S3 becomes, well, S3 again. ®
Amstrad today launched its "product of the century", aimed at low email users - or the rich. Amstrad chief Sir Alan Sugar claimed the "e-m@iler" gadget would take high technology to the high street. The device is a telephone, answerphone, fax, personal organiser and monitor, with email facilities, all rolled into one. Its pull will undoubtedly lie in its shop price - £79.99. Sir Alan told journalists in London that the company would sell the hardware at below cost, but would gain revenues from advertising and call charge revenue. It was revealed that users will have to pay 12p for every emailing "session". This will let them receive as many emails as they please. But there will be an additional cost of 12p for every email sent. So someone replying to an average of just ten emails per day would pay around £1.40 per day (once you roll in the VAT), or £42 per month. Then there's the usual online call charges – which should be low as people will write emails offline. All told this could add about £150 per month to their quarterly phone bill - double the initial cost of the device. Users will also have to sign up to Amserve, Amstrad's ISP service. This Amstrad subsidiary, together with BT, will cream off the call charge profits. Ian Sanders, Amstrad product manager, said the e-m@iler would be aimed at users with "very low usage". He said the target audience would be young people who had a PC at work, but didn't want to splash out for one at home. Sir Alan suggested the company would also target the machine at the non-PC savvy British masses. "It's so easy to use. As long as you've got two fingers you can send email." The gadget, which does not offer Web surfing abilities, is said to be "futureproof" as the technology in it will be updated when punters go online. Software upgrades will be downloaded automatically, making it a product "to sit in the home for a long time", Sir Alan said. It can store up to 700 contact details in its address book, and includes a portable "pocket docket" organiser. It will also have a caller identifier to show users when they have email. Amstrad said it expected to sell one million units to British homes in the next two years. It will have to compete with email-able TVs, but Sir Alan said he was not a great believer in the set-top for Internet capabilities, describing it as "a dumb box". Revenues will also come from advertising as users will get tailor-made ads on their screens. "We've thrown everything in, including the kitchen sink," said Sir Alan. The first 500 trial e-m@ilers are available in Dixons from today. They are expected to be available in volume in three weeks' time.® Related Stories Amstrad leaks like leaky thing over 'Web phone' launch Amstrad doubles profit Internet TV, M@ilTV prepare to do battle
The CC820 (Cape Cod) motherboard has been placed on hold until Intel fixes the memory hub translator (MHT), which has caused performance degradation, The Register has learned. According to a source inside the company, all shipments have now been halted until Intel's chipset division comes up with a more reliable MHT. As noted here earlier, Intel is discussing i820 chipset modifications so that Rambus and PC-133 memories will be supported on the same motherboard, but there are some technical difficulties preventing a rapid implementation of the plans. The source also confirms that Intel will completely ditch Slot One production at the end of the year, with the 1GHz Pentium III the last to use this slot (SECC2) technology. Again, as reported here, the source, who works for the Intel Corporation, said that Willamette will be released late this year at 1.4GHz, along with its server partner, Foster. Meanwhile, Intel will launch a board dubbed the D810EMO-flexATX in April. This will support 370-pin Pentium III Coppermines and Celerons, but will have no mouse, keyboard, parallel, or serial ports and only use USB devices. It will have one DIMM slot, one PCI slot but no AGP slot. The D820AP-ATX will be similar to the CC820 except with a new Socket 370 instead of a Slot One. Intel will release its Garabaldi Tehama based board for Willamette in Q3, while its Clark board is expected to support dual Foster configurations. Camino 2 will support ATA/100, while Camino 3 will feature a better Memory Transfer Hub (see above). As expected, Tehama will support Willamette and Rambus technology only. ® Related Story Bitter war breaks out inside Intel
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has coughed up $190,000 (£120,000) to buy the domain name architecture.com. The deal was struck with GreatDomains.com after the name was auctioned earlier this month. Alex Reid, general director of RIBA, said: "More companies are paying the high price tag for a simple dot com domain name because of the immediate recognition and value it brings in establishing an online brand. "That's why we wanted a strong domain name like Architecture.com, whose installed awareness will greatly reduce the need for inflated marketing spending and substantially increase traffic to our site," he said. What a load of guff. The reason this purchase "will greatly reduce the need for inflated marketing spending" is probably because RIBA can't afford to anything else having splashed out all that cash to own the domain. This, of course, was denied by a RIBA spokesbunny, who said the acquisition would not leave the bricks and mortar institution penniless. The acquisition would be funded by advertising on the site, she said. Well, if that's the case, why does Architecture.com have all the design qualities of a 60s tower block? For an organisation so focused on design, its site is shocking. There's a solitary picture of the bathroom basin on the site at the moment, but that will change. Can't wait for the picture of a toilet. ®
Philips has spun off its TriMedia media processor operation as a separate business backed by the Dutch consumer electronics giant itself and Sony. TriMedia Technologies will be based in Silicon Valley - with an eye to a Nasdaq launch, presumably - and marks the latest move by an chip company to target the sort-of-emerging Internet set-top box market. TriMedia's gameplan is to develop and license media processor cores to consumer electronics companies. This is, of course, what it was doing while it just a division within Philips, and by its own account done a reasonable job of it - "as part of Philips, we have made tremendous progress with TriMedia", admitted Philips president Cor Boonstra. So why spin TriMedia off? The official line is that the move has made room for Sony's investment and that it will somehow allow TriMedia to work more quickly and for a broader range of customers. That's probably not far from the truth. Philips has been offering TriMedia products for some time now - back in 1996, Apple was intending to build the technology into its Power Mac line, but abandoned the plan when Motorola came up with its PowerPC 740 (aka G3) chip - but it presumably feels that its consumer electronics competitors are less likely to opt for the chip if its development under direct control of a rival. And, as we say, Philips is sure to have considered the IPO opportunities the spun-off operation now offers. The template here is Siemens' decision to split off its semiconductor division, Infineon, with an eye to an IPO, which finally took place earlier this year. TriMedia (the company) will initially focus on versions of the VLIW TriMedia chip for "networked digital television appliances". Both Sony and Philips have obtained licences to use their technology on behalf of their semiconductor operations, which will supply their parents respective digital TV and Net appliance divisions. How much Sony has paid for the licence and its investment in TriMedia Technologies was not revealed - Philips simply said it will "work to finalise definitive agreements soon", so while Sony's involvement can be taken as read, the two companies are still haggling over the price. ®
Three games giants have filed a lawsuit against Yahoo! over alleged sales of pirated goods on its site. Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Sega accuse the online retailer of selling counterfeit copies of computer games and devices to copy games through its auction and sales sites. The companies filed the suit in US District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday. They are seeking an injunction against the sales, damages of $100,000 per copyright violation, and $2,500 for each sale of the hardware devices. "Yahoo! has created a virtual flea market for thieves to sell stolen property," an Electronic Arts representative told AP. "If there was a store in the mall selling counterfeit copies of games, we'd call the police and that store owner would be held accountable for it." ® Related stories Retailers not as trustworthy as high street rivals eBay in e-trouble after copied MS software is sold on its seat Con man given the boot by eBay
Analysis Novell, known for its nifty widgets and poor marketing, may just have a shot at turning itself around with its new corporate marketing plan called oneNet, which was unveiled at Brainshare in Salt Lake City this week. Behind the scenes there has been a major reorganisation and at least a partial resolution of the two-valley cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Happy Valley in Utah. This year's Brainshare seems to have more product announcements than any previous meeting, and there's even optimism that the products will make it to market without going too far off the roadmap. Novell has a new architectural model called DENIM - not the stuff from Nimes in France (de Nimes, geddit?), but a Directory Enabled Net Infrastructure Model. DENIM has three Web-centric components: management, content, and portal services. A key intention is to help the channel to morph from being just resellers to Web integrators and e-business solution providers. Curiously, DENIM is said to be a code-name, which is puzzling since Novell claims a service mark for it and it would be foolish to rename an architecture too quickly. Novell still has a great deal to learn about product naming: amongst the new widgets presented were "InstantMe" for its instant messaging system, developed in association with AOL, and "DirXML" for a component of eDirectory. They just don't roll off the tongue. CEO Eric Schmidt said after his brief Brainshare keynote that "contrary too rumours", NetWare was growing and that net services would remain at the core of Novell's product line. Phase one of Schmidt's turnaround was the launch of NetWare 5 last September, while phase two was growth based on Novell's traditional business model. Phase three is now in progress, and includes the exploitation of intranet services, NDS growth, and eDirectory for NetWare, Solaris and Windows, and soon for Linux and Tru64. Compaq CEO Michael Capellas was on hand to give a Compaq pitch and confirm that Compaq would indeed port NDS to Tru64 for Alpha processors. Compaq already licences Novell's Internet caching system. Novell's alignment of its marketing and product development follows Schmidt's decision some months ago to fire his marketing department and put in place "executives who I trust", to replace the five who departed. The svp of global marketing is Steve Adams, best-known for his "Why Novell's marketing sucks" analysis. His right-hand man, Dave Shirk, has around 30 Tiger Teams reporting directly, with the possibility of termination for any not achieving targets. It seems that Adams will increasingly be Novell's front man, with Schmidt being the strategist. Novell is also looking at new product categories, particularly Internet-related areas that are still in an embryonic stage, including e-commerce infrastructure, personal identity control, policy-based management, cache management, and public key security. The company hasn't just turned itself around: it seems to have become taller, with its share price zooming up since December, settling around the $30 mark after having touched $40. There's no sign of Windows 2000 having hurt Novell's share price yet, despite Microsoft's long-term antagonism. Although Sun and Oracle still figure high on Microsoft's hit list, Novell is back up there again, as it was in 1991 when Jim Allchin emailed Bill Gates: "We must slow down Novell... We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger". Again, Allchin wrote in 1993: "These guys are really good; they have an installed base; they have a channel; they have marketing power; they have good products. and they want our position. They want to control the APIs, middleware, and as many desktops as they can in addition to the server market they already own. We need to start thinking about Novell as the competitor to fight against... this is war-nothing less... they will eventually find a way to hurt us badly." The measure of the degree of hurt will be seen in Novell's results, and the speed of the take-up of Windows 2000. ®
The Register has now seen a copy of Hitachi's deposition to a US court, countering a Rambus case and at the same time detailing its arguments that the firm is engaging in alleged antitrust activities. The civil action was placed before Judge Gregory Sleet and numbered 00-029 in a Delaware District Court at the end of last week. The original Rambus legal action refers to both memory products and HSA SH series microprocessors, which are alleged to infringe Rambus patents, allegations which Hitachi strenously denies. Hitachi counterclaims that Rambus has engaged in anti-competitive, exclusionary and unfair conduct directed at its competitors, intended to monopolise and unfairly restrain trade, as well as to engage in unfair competition in markets for SDRAM memory chips and support memory chips. The Japanese firm claims that Rambus has intentionally and improperly violated JEDEC's rules. According to Hitachi, this body coordinated the development of a standard for SDRAM, and Rambus was a member of JEDEC then and attended the meetings. But, alleges Hitachi: "Instead of participating in the JEDEC standard-setting process in good faith, Rambus subverted the process, attempting to use it as a vehicle to control illegally the relevant markets." The industry body required Rambus to disclose the existence of patents and patents pending, but the firm "improperly revised" its patents and "subverted the process", and indeed used what it learned from the JEDEC meetings, and from other semiconductor manufacturers participating in the meetings, to revise its pending patents Any products built subsequently by any manufacturers using the JEDEC SDRAM specifications would infringe Rambus patents. Further, claims Hitachi, Rambus has behaved unfairly and uncompetitively by extending the scope of its patent portfolio by unfair licensing agreements and illegal tying arrangements. In a document attached to Hitachi's claims, the firm says that it, Samsung, NEC and others have paid Rambus millions of dollars in fees. These, claim Hitachi, impose substantial and unwanted obligations on the licensees, including a clause which means that the licensees have to take out further licences on many other Rambus patents. Memory firms also have to build memories to Rambus' requirements, and use Rambus controlled tests and know-how. Hitachi points to a case between two JEDEC members, Wang Labs and Mitsubishi in the early 90s. Wang sued Mitsubishi alleging patent infringement, but the latter countersued, using a similar argument that the former had breached JEDEC rules. The case was eventually settled in favour of Mitsubishi. After this case, JEDEC expressly revised its rules to include a requirement to disclose any patents. This document also includes a reference to a 1995 case between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Dell. Subsequently, the FTC issued a consent decree on Dell to prevent it from enforcing a patent it had not disclosed to an industry standards body. According to Hitachi, a month after the announcement of the consent decree, Rambus said it would leave JEDEC. It sent a letter to the committee saying: " Recently at JEDEC meetings the subject of Rambus patents has been raised. Rambus plans to continue to license its proprietary technology on terms that are consistent with the business plan of Rambus, and those terms may not be consistent with the terms set by standards bodies, including JEDEC." If Rambus wins its case against Hitachi, the document says that Rambus will control the technology market for high speed synchronous memory, as it is the only significant architecture which competes with the open JEDEC standard. Hitachi claims that Rambus has manipulated the press and issued a complaint to the US International Trade Commission a day after Hitachi and Sega struck a strategic alliance, as well as issuing press releases to undermine the company. One patent concerns the so-called "105 Patent", US patent number 5,915,105, called Integrated Circuit IO using a high performance bus interface. Other patents being called into question are 5,953,263 titled Synchronous Memory Device having a Programmable Register and Method of Controlling Same. Another patent which Rambus alleges Hitachi is breaching is No. 5,954,804, called Synchronous Memory Device having an Internal Register. Perhaps the most important patent Rambus is alleging infringes its rights is 5,995,443, called Synchronous Memory Device. If Rambus wins this one, other semiconductor firms might face similar problems. Hitachi is denying all these allegations. Hitachi has lodged what US law describes as Affirmative Defenses. The first draws attention to the memory standards body JEDEC (Joint Electronic Devices Engineering Council) and claims improper conduct by Rambus. It says: "By reason of Rambus’ misconduct relating to standard-setting activities and organizations, including but not limited to JEDEC, if one or more of the Patents-in-Suit cover the JEDEC standard, Rambus is obligated to license the Patents-in-Suit without charge or under reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of unfair discrimination, such that the defendants may make, use, sell, or offer to sell products which implement the JEDEC or other standards." The second defence says that the patents in question are unenforceable, and invokes the Sherman antitrust act, saying: " The Patents-in-Suit are unenforceable due to misuse and/or inequitable conduct and/or violation of the antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, due to the actions and concealment of Rambus in connection with standard-setting activities and participation in standards-setting organizations, including but not limited to JEDEC; Rambus’ participation in the creation of industry sanctioned and/or de facto standards for Synchronous DRAMs; and Rambus’ illegal attempts to eliminate or capture any JEDEC-approved standards for Synchronous DRAM technology which might compete with proprietary Rambus Synchronous DRAM technology. Attempts by Rambus to enforce the Patents-in-Suit constitute misuse, monopolization, an attempt to monopolize, and/or an unlawful restraint of trade." Hitachi's third defence is that the patents in question are unenforceable because Rambus made third parties, including itself, to make products under Rambus dictated specs. These, the defence says: "Discriminate against non-Rambus products and alternative technologies, thereby excluding potential competitors from the market and/or raising the costs of entry into the market by competitors." The fourth defence claims that the Rambus patents are also unenforceable because the firm failed to notify JEDEC that industry standard specs for synchronous memory could infringe its patents. A number of other defences cover legal niceties, but defence number seven is of interest. It says: " By reason of Rambus’ conduct, including its participation in standards-setting activities and organizations including but not limited to JEDEC, Rambus has granted the defendants an implied royalty-free license under the Patents-in-Suit to make, use, sell, or offer to sell products containing the alleged inventions." ®
Public libraries are a hotbed of on-line pedo activity and must therefore be forced to install Internet filtering software on their public computers, psychotherapist Mary Anne Layden told a Congressional Committee on Children and Families which convened Tuesday to consider measures for protecting children from Internet predators. "What is happening in our public libraries is a national scandal," she said gravely. After a few hours' on-line perusal, "paedophiles can...leave the library with toxic messages and become carriers back to their jobs, their homes, onto the streets and into the schoolyard," she claimed. Layden said that permission-giving myths, dear to pedos, such as twisted notions that children actually enjoy being raped by adults, or that such perverse relations are in fact natural and healthy, are being propagated with unprecedented virulence via the Net. As a result, thirty-eight percent of American girls are sexually molested before they reach age eighteen, she claimed, citing a figure that strikes The Register as grotesquely overstated in spite of our well-known inclination towards pessimism regarding the darker regions of human nature. The American Library Association (ALA), Layden says, is responsible for all this savagery. The professional organisation consistently rejects all efforts to censor content at public libraries, and proudly snubs its nose at the idea of Internet filtering. "The use in libraries of software filters which block constitutionally protected speech is inconsistent with the United States Constitution and federal law and may lead to legal exposure for the library and its governing authorities," the organisation says. "The American Library Association affirms that the use of filtering software by libraries to block access to constitutionally protected speech violates the Library Bill of Rights." Layden excoriated the organisation for its stubborn stance, and for engendering continual interference from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She noted that on its Web site, the ALA even has the audacity to publish links to step-by-step instructions for teens on how to disable filtering software. "Libraries have become the new red-light districts," she said. This atmosphere of intellectual permissiveness makes it impossible for her to treat her patients effectively, she lamented; but she offered not one shred of factual data establishing a causal relationship between access to library computers and crimes committed in the real world, or any data on the frequency of such outrages. Thus we were left to regard her testimony as a lot of anecdotal victim-industry hype. Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) was a bit less sceptical. "Should we require libraries to install filters?" he asked. "Absolutely," Layden replied. "The US government should not be spending taxpayer money to fund the sex industry," she snorted. Perhaps she has forgotten that the on-line porn industry is primarily responsible for making the Web a profitable commercial venue worthy, now, of attention from the Fortune 1000. Ranking Committee Member Christopher Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) was not so well persuaded. "I live down the street from my library in East Haddam, Connecticut, and they've got a wonderful children's section there. Knowing the people who run that library....the idea that some national organisation would tell them what their policies ought to be, well, I would dare them to suggest it." "The idea that the ALA or librarians are a lot of paedophile promoters is something I don't support," he said. Perhaps the Senator too would like to see some factual data. The Register readily allows that children are defenceless and therefore entitled to greater protection than adults. But such protection might take the form of acknowledging that the Internet is by nature an adult venue, not a playground, and that parents should no more leave young children to wander unsupervised about in cyberspace than they would in downtown Manhattan. It would be tragic if public libraries were to come under the influence of anti-intellectual prudes and 'recovery' fanatics, such that the free exchange of ideas would be curtailed for all Americans merely in order to check the perversions, and facilitate the recovery, of a handful of deeply disturbed individuals. More to the point, the US Supreme Court, in a 1997 review of an Internet pornography issue involving the Communications Decency Act, ruled that "governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship." So there. ®
Alpha firm API is readying a low cost Alpha system set to appear in July or August this year. According to postings on an Alpha NT mail list, the UP1100 will include embedded processor, and have features in common with the UP1000 in terms of memory, performance and chipsets. The reports add that the UP1100 will also include embedded 10/100 Ethernet technology, and cost around the $2,000 mark. The UP1100 uses Compaq's EV6 technology, and while the UP1000 offers this level of functionality, some have claimed that prices are too steep. A "cheap" API box, however, would be considered expensive by users of x86 technology. Although API introduced an ambitious roadmap at the beginning of last year, so far it seems to have made not much of a dent in the market. A reseller of API kit said: "There is already a pretty cheap package based on the UP1000. Look here. "This is a full (albeit lightweight on disk and RAM) Linux based 600MHz 21264 system. Most of the vendors building them support upgrades to the basic package. The actual vendor cost on the board and CPU is $2000. The only problem right now is that boards are heavily back ordered at present." ® See also Analysis: An Omega for Alpha?