6th > April > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

ACLU appeals Mattel ruling

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is appealing a court order blocking distribution of the now-famous cphack utility programme that allows owners of Mattel's Cyber Patrol Web filtering software to override its controls and to learn which Web sites are blacklisted. US District Court Judge Edward Harrington issued a strangely-worded ruling on 28 March in Boston prohibiting all Web sites from posting the cphack software. The ACLU is appealing on behalf of three US Webmasters who mirrored the original decoding program on their sites. "The legal issue here is whether a Boston court has jurisdiction over the entire Internet, and our answer to that is a resounding no," ACLU staff attorney Chris Hansen said via a prepared statement. "The larger issue is whether Cyber Patrol and other software companies are going to tell the American public exactly what their software blocks." The ACLU has also asked Harrington to stay his order to mirror sites while the appeal goes forward. Hansen said the ACLU took action after its clients began receiving notices from Cyber Patrol's attorneys ordering them to abide by Harrington's 28 March ruling. The three ACLU clients, Lindsay Haisley, Bennett Haselton and Waldo Jaquith, have temporarily removed their mirrored copies of cphack. If Harrington should reject the ACLU's request for a stay, the organisation will go over his head to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. ® Related Coverage Cyber Patrol ban list published on the Web Bizarre Language in Mattel Ruling Mattel sues hackers, wins injunction Mattel buys copyrights to Cyber Patrol crack
The Register breaking news

London thieves nab rare crypto machine

Crypto buffs will be discouraged to learn that a rare German Enigma machine from World War II was stolen from a display case at Bletchley Park Trust, near London on 1 April. The stolen machine is a rare model known as Abwehr, thought to be one of only two surviving. "We hope that if the Internet community gets behind it, it will be impossible to sell the machine on the public market," Trust Director Christine Large said. Because the machine was stolen on April Fool's day, Trust officials are clinging to the hope that the theft was merely a prank. A group of cryptologists who specialize in the Enigma machines known as the Crypto Simulation Group is trying to put the word out over the Web, in hopes of making it harder for thieves to fence the rare artifact. The stolen machine is one of the Enigmas used by the German military intelligence service. A gorgeous piece of overbuilt retro-analogue tech (check out the pics on the CSG site), it bears the serial number G-312. It is also called the counter machine or Zahlwerk-Enigma, because it's equipped with a letter counter, the group notes. Anyone with information is urged to contact Christine Large via e-mail. Rewards totalling nearly US $10,000 are currently on the table. ®
The Register breaking news

Congress mulls ‘cyber-molester’ bill

Child-protective hysteric Rep. Robert Franks (Republican, New Jersey) has introduced a House bill requiring mandatory prison sentences for 'cyber-molesters' who use the Net to find underage sexual partners. The bill would call for a minimum of five years' incarceration, leaving judges with the sole option of passing sentences of up to fifteen years if circumstances warrant. The proposed federal legislation would apply to defendants who "establish a relationship with a child over the Internet and then travel across state lines for the purpose of engaging in illegal sex." The FBI reports a 550 percent increase in cases involving "high-tech child molesters" since 1998, Franks claimed. "Even when law enforcement is successful in catching these criminals, they are often given lenient sentences," he said. "The average sentence for the crime is just 18 months in jail." Franks said that judges have been "ignoring the seriousness of the offence" when a convict is otherwise law-abiding, and it is therefore necessary for Congress to choose the sentences for them. "Those sick criminals who terrorize our children, destroy their innocence and leave them scarred for life deserve to be locked away for a long time," Franks said. While we commend Franks for his eagerness to protect children from exploitation by adults, we remain convinced that the proper person to impose a criminal sentence is a judge who has presided over a case and is aware of its particulars, not a Member of Congress acting from an office on Capitol Hill. We are also uncomfortable with Franks' intention of tying federal funds for libraries to their use of Internet filtering software. Discourse and dialogue among adults simply cannot be limited to that which is appropriate for children in any society hoping to achieve a moderate level of civilisation, as America so eagerly wishes to do. We hope common sense and adult thinking will prevail on the Hill; but we recognise the severe political inconvenience to any Member who dares resist the rhetoric of child advocacy, and half forgive them if they should buckle in this, an election year. ®
The Register breaking news

Retired US Army major faces Net pedo charge

A retired US Army major who directed emergency communications for the White House has been charged with attempting to have sex with two young girls. Idaho retiree John Davis got caught in an Internet sting operation when a mother who told him he could have sex with her daughters, aged twelve and fourteen, turned out to be an undercover police officer. Davis was arrested on 23 March after arriving in San Diego, California to meet the woman and arrange the illicit encounter. Davis indicated in e-mails and phone conversations that "it was his lifelong ambition or dream, or words to that effect, to have sex with young ladies of this age," San Diego County deputy district attorney Rick Clabby said at the arraignment. Davis faces twenty years' imprisonment if convicted on all counts. The remainder of his arraignment is delayed until 20 April while his lawyer mounts an attack on the laws leading to his arrest. "We would have pleaded not guilty the other day, but these attacks have to be entered before the plea," defence lawyer Peter Hughes said. "In the event of a national emergency he would have been fully responsible for White House Communications, and would have travelled with the President to a relocation centre, to direct all information service requirements and base operations for the duration of the emergency," the lawyer noted. The judge was persuaded to grant US $500,000 bail. Davis retired in 1994 as Director of Emergency Actions for the White House, after twenty years' service in the Army. ®
The Register breaking news

MSN divvies up $40m for recruitment campaign

Microsoft is to chuck around $40 million trying to recruit more subscribers to its information and Internet service provider, MSN. New users who sign up for a year will get six months for free - the other six months they will have to pay the going rate of $21.95 a month for the service. The Great Satan of Software Monopolies is hoping to recruit a million new users during the three-month promo, according to Reuters. Apparently, the offer will be advertised in conjunction with the popular TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (Wanna phone a friend to find out how they think it's gonna turn out, Bill?) Of course, none of the $40 million will be seen in Britain or Europe. MSN's UK division abandoned its subscription service last June, followed by the rest of Europe at the end of last year. A spokeswoman for MSN in the UK had no idea if the outfit intended to offer an unmetered service in the future. ®
The Register breaking news

Get your scalpels, handbags and PCs here

A venture selling everything from surplus IT kit to boats on the Web has launched for Business punters in Europe. Started last week, Eurosurplus.com is hoping to flog a diverse selection of goods via the cybermarket, including IT equipment, furniture, food and even ships. Sadly there were no products listed under the computer products heading today. But there were some interesting goods in other sections – anyone wanting 5,500 left-handed scalpels, currently residing in Birmingham, has until April 30 to put in their offer. Alternatively, a batch of 22,500 assorted ladies fashion handbags, curiously also in Birmingham, is waiting to be snapped up for € 82,229 (£50,000). Site founders Eurosurplus will take 5 per cent commission on all goods sold and there is no other charge for sellers or buyers. The venture is backed by venture capital from Magnum Funds and GlobalNetFinancial. US company Powersource obviously had a similar idea and is signing up 1,500 distributors, resellers and service companies worldwide for powersourceonline.com site. They will trade in surplus, obsolete, used and hard-to-find computer and telecomms gear via cyberspace. It is also offering a service called PowerAuction, aimed at end-users who want to bid for computer stock. The company claims its pre-launch pilot in February generated $3.2 million in bids on around 350 auctions for hard drives, printers, laptop computers, memory, networking equipment, monitors and accessories from more than 800 subscribers.® Related stories Dell boys flog bin-ends on UK auction site AMD prices slashed by Danish firm
The Register breaking news

SAPping the will to live

Massachusetts-based Global Knowledge is launching a series of products for forgetful Brits. You know the scenario: your boss sends you on a course to learn about one of the latest complicated software applications. It seems to make sense at the time, but the minute you're back in the office you've forgotten half of what was taught. Global Knowledge claims to have the answer in its On-Demand Personal Navigator tool. This nifty piece of software will show post-training IT Luddites which buttons to click to get around SAP R/3, PeopleSoft's ERP and CRM products, and Siebel Systems' CRM products. Users click on the icon and it points them, via a red laser-like beam, in the right direction and stops them getting the sack for forgetting the instructions. On-Demand for PeopleSoft and Siebel products will start shipping in Europe this month - it has been available for SAP since December. The software costs around £100 per desktop, plus an 18 per cent yearly software maintenance fee, with a minimum number of 300 users. According to Global Knowledge, over 200 companies, or 250,000 desktops, use its One-Demand SAP product – which it launched in the US two years ago. ® Related story Poor Luddites to get computer training
The Register breaking news

Rambus claims network chip wins

Memory technology company Rambus said that it has made a number of significant wins with network companies adopting its blueprints for their infrastructure products. The firm, which is famous for the way its stock peaks and troughs, said it had enlisted HP, IBM, LSI Logic, NEC, Texas Instruments and Toshiba to its ranks. And it said that a number of other networking companies, including SwitchCore, SiTera, Orologic and Extreme Packet Devices, were sampling devices based on its memory technology. Rambus claimed in a press release that ASICs using its technology help break through bottlenecks in communications. The news came after Rambus had a rough ride on Wall Street for the previous four or five days of trading. However, the price rose yesterday by $20 to close at nearly $230. Earlier this year, Rambus re-organised itself to address the networking market. Meanwhile, a hardware site has come up with a look at the firm's technology for the PC market. Over at Hardware Central there is a piece reviewing the technology, concluding that RIMMs have a future. Yesterday we reported that Intel's up-and-coming Garibaldi motherboard, which supports Willamette, will use RIMMs. ® RegiStroid $500 Garibaldi is (a) an Intel motherboard, (b) a tasty biscuit studded with raisins and (c) a famous patriot who helped transform Italy into a modern state. Related Story Intel's Garibaldi takes the Rambus biscuit
The Register breaking news

Contractors raise £500K for IR35 court challenge

It's that time again. After losing the first round of legislation in November, IR35 protestors have raised the stakes by taking legal action against the Government. The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) has drafted in a leading barrister in European law, Gerald Barling QC, to argue that the April Finance Bill, which increases income tax for those employed as consultants by own companies, is unlawful. In a nutshell, the legal challenge will contend that the Bill is contrary to European law since it unfairly taxes one group of people without penalising its competitors. According to PCG spokeswoman Susie Hughes, there are four possible routes the legal challenge may take, but she would not comment further for legal reasons. Barling won a similar high-profile case in 1997 for Lunn Poly, when a court decided part of the Finance Bill was illegal due to a 'unfair and unjust' tax differential. PCG chairman Gareth Williams said the challenge was "an indication of the strength of feeling and injustice that a group of 8000 individuals - the majority of whom voted for New Labour - are now forced to take the Government to court to protect their livelihoods". PCG documents, seen by The Register, appear to confirm this strength of feeling. Despite the fact that Williams is unsure of the exact size of the PCG's membership (6000? 8000?), a newsletter dated 29 March asked members to contribute to a fighting fund. The figure asked for was £250,000. Within five days, 2722 members had pledged funds averaging £200 each, providing a war chest of over half a million pounds. While this is not enormously suprising in itself (let's face it, members stand to gain a lot more than £200 if the challenge is successful), the speed and co-ordination of the group must surely give the Government reason to worry. IR35 protestors have also been making their arguments known through the mainstream media. TV company Granada, as well as BBC Radio 4 and several national newspapers, have complained to the PCG over organised mass emailings. The huge number was clogging up the companies' email systems, they allege. ®
The Register breaking news

ON24 slams ZDNet April Fool's ‘joke’

Unaccountably, this link (http://biz.yahoo.com/oo/000404/20367.html) no longer appears to work. So here is the ON24 piece in full:
The Register breaking news

Judge sets schedule for remedies against MS

MS on Trial While Bill Gates was across the road working Congress, Judge Jackson held a ten minute hearing to set the timetable for the remedies phase. His scheduling order gives the DoJ and the plaintiff states until 25 April to file their proposed form of permanent injunction. However, in the event that the states cannot agree with the DoJ, they are given until the 28 April "at the latest" to file their single version. There's no clue as to whether there is any significant difference between the likely proposals of the plaintiffs, or even between the states. The judge made it clear that he would prefer a single proposal, but he had to issue an order that allowed for disagreement. Microsoft than has until 10 May to respond, object, and file any counter-proposal, together with its recommendations for how "future proceedings on the issue of remedy" should proceed. The DoJ and plaintiff states may reply by 17 May, and a hearing will be held on 24 May. It is not yet known if there will be witnesses, but if they are requested by either side, there's every reason to suppose that this would be allowed. It would therefore seem likely that the judge may issue his final order around the end of May or in June. Judge Jackson is not bound to follow either side's submissions, and has previously decided on a course of action not requested by the DoJ in an earlier case. The judge's effort to persuade Microsoft to give him a copy of its final negotiating position failed. There had been some misunderstanding about Judge Jackson's remarks at Tuesday's hearing as to whether sending the matter to the Supreme Court was an immediate plan. It appeared that the Antitrust Expediting Act would not allow the case to be sent to the Supreme Court before remedies had been ordered. Clearly the judge is concerned with the effect on the economy, but there is no option than for him to decide the remedies before the case is sent to appeal. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

AMD starts sampling copper whoppers

A report in EE Times said yesterday that AMD's CEO, Jerry Sanders III, has confirmed that its Dresden fabrication plant 30 has started shipping samples of x86 microprocessors using the copper interconnect process. Sanders is reported as saying that his firm will turn in its first quarter next week with turnover of $1 billion, with sales improving because of sales of its Athlon processor and Flash memories. Yesterday, AMD's share price rose sharply on this news. AMD will produce its Thunderbird version of the Athlon initially using 0.18 micron copper technology from its Dresden fab, but, later on this year, that technology will be migrated to a 0.13 process. According to the reports, AMD managed to produce stable versions of both synchronous memory and microprocessors only a week or so ago. Thunderbird will include cache on die, with chips expected to be available as early as June. Meanwhile, a report from an AMD conference posted on Motley Fool has suggested that the up-and-coming Spitfire processor, named apparently after a motorcar rather than the British fighter plane in the Second World War, will see off both the K6-2+ and the K6-III microprocessor. This report claims that AMD will keep both Slot A and its up-and-coming Socket A packaging going until the end of this year. The same report suggests that AMD's up and coming Mustang chip will have on-die cache of as much as 2Mb. These chips will be aimed at the workstation and server markets. The Mustang is named after the motorcar rather than the aeroplane. As reported here before, Alpha Processing Inc (API) will produce chipsets for multiprocessing AMD microprocessors. AMD itself will only produce two-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) chipsets. Both Spitfires and Thunderbirds will require special methods for cooling the microprocessor, according to this latter report. ® Related Stories AMD and its Dresden Sand Pit I AMD and its Dresden Sand Pit II
The Register breaking news

Aureal seeks Chapter 11 shield

Aureal has declared itself bankrupt, just a week after firing its entire management team and reporting a very poor set of results indeed. The company yesterday sought Chapter 11 protection from creditors while it desperately tries to sort out its finances, though with the board now desperately trying to recruit a CEO, a CFO, a COO and a CTO, this isn't likely to happen in the immediate future. Unless Aureal's board can get the company back on an even keel, there will be little choice left to it beyond liquidation and the sale of its small patent portfolio. Clearly there's little interest in acquiring Aureal as a going concern, since the company is believed to have been up for sale for the last few months at least and found no buyer. Aureal's Q4 figures saw its losses expand to $9.5 million and sales shrink to $8.5 million, down from $10.8 million in the same period last year and $11.2 million in the previous quarter. The year-to-date loss for 1999 was $26.9 million, compared to a loss of $18.5 million for 1998. ® Related Stories Aureal close to collapse - execs out on their ears Intel to take over Aureal? Silence falls
The Register breaking news

Via claims 348 per cent sales rise in March

Taiwanese chip firm Via said today that its net sales for last month amounted to $84 million (NT$ 2.57 billion). The firm claimed that is an increase, compared to March 1999, of 348 per cent, while net sales grew 218 per cent for its first three months, compared to the same quarter last year. Total net sales for Q1 2000 amounted to $184 million, while Q1 1999 saw its chipset sales deliver just over $58 million. Intel considers Via to be a potent threat to its own chipset business, with senior Intel VP Pat Gelsinger telling The Register last year that his company was "paranoid" about the firm. Via and Intel are currently engaged in litigation around the world over alleged patent infringements. So while Via continues to increase its sales, lawyers for the firm are likely to be rubbing their hands in glee. The bills are sure to be paid by both sides, and lawyers rarely lose. ®
The Register breaking news

Rumbled in the Jungle.com

Nothing makes The Register prouder than sheer, naked toil - wherever it raises it head. This week's Naked Toil prize therefore goes to Jungle.com for services above and beyond the call of customer care. It could all have been so different. A reader's husband ordered a large number of hard-to-find CDs from Jungle, listed as in stock on the site. While most turned up on time and in good condition, he was told that the remainder would be delayed due to "excessive demand". Unless the fan club of St Etienne had descended on the site or hardcore-techno DJ Derrick May had just died, this scenario seemed unlikely. And so the confused customer fired off a few "stroppy" emails. The very next day, a good chunk of the outstanding CDs arrived at the door. That's good service. But in overlooking one small detail, the true extent of Jungle's dedication became apparent. In its rush to get the goods out, it had forgotten to take an Our Price sticker off one of the CDs. We can only guess which employee was sent into town with a shopping list, but we like to think that head honcho Steve "Serve to win" Bennett took it upon himself. Ungowah! ®
The Register breaking news

Third secret-packed official notebook nicked

Another laptop containing the nation's secrets has been stolen - the third in a month. The computer was nicked from a top army officer while he was queuing to check-in at Heathrow airport. The lieutenant-colonel put the machine between his feet while waiting at Terminal Three on Monday. Quick as a flash, a thief reached between his legs and made off with the £2000 laptop. According to today's Sun newspaper, the computer contained encoded confidential information on Army pay-rates and pensions. The £50,000-a-year lieutenant-colonel, who is facing an internal disciplinary probe, may have to replace the lost hardware out of his personal insurance policy. The incident, one of a spate of recent laptop thefts, was last night described by the military as "incredibly embarrassing". It has increased fears about officials carrying around the nation's secrets in public areas. An MI5 laptop was stolen from Paddington on 4 March. The machine is believed to be crammed with data crucial to the Northern Ireland peace process. Earlier an MI6 officer lost his laptop after getting sozzled in a London tapas bar. Police managed to reclaim this latter machine after MI6 bosses placed an ad in local paper the Evening Standard offering a "substantial reward" for its return. The Sun in true form today came up with a suggestion. Under the headline "Chain 'em up!", the Sun's military adviser, Major General Ken Perkin, said: "Why don't these people have their laptop chained to one hand? "At least that wouldn't stop them using their other hand if they wanted to go drinking." ® Related Stories Sneak thief steals secrets in MI5 laptop Second spy loses laptop
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PR bunnies in extinction shock

Spin doctors are fast becoming a threatened species, according to a new report from the PR bunnies themselves. The source of the threat isn't a gin and tonic shortage, a clampdown on expenses, or even myxomatosis, but the Internet. The Institute of Public Relations and the PR Consultant's Association claim that because so much corporate information is now available on company Web sites, that spin doctors can no longer control the flow of information to journalists. "Attempts to control and manipulate information may become unviable in the Internet age," warns the report. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this means the poor dears will have to turn their not-considerable talents to other tasks, including the creation of yet more appalling marketingspeak terms if the report itself is anything to go by, including, as it does, such vile barbarisms as "newbieproofing", "topic centres" and centre-morphing". There is even a term to describe the death of spin itself - "hyperjuju". The Register's consultant spinmeister, Doctor Spinola, adds: "PR has always been and will remain an integral part of the marketing mix. That will be £1500 please." ®
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Former Nortel exec fined over mile-high sex romp

Former Nortel Networks sales exec Amanda Holt "miaowed like a cat" on a mile-high sex romp, a court heard yesterday. Holt, who has since been sacked from her £90,000-a-year job at Nortel, embarked on the session with total stranger David Machin on a transatlantic flight in October. The two, both married, were consumed by lust at 35,000 feet after getting sozzled on a mixture of wine, brandy and port while travelling from Dallas to Manchester. They were fined a total of £2250 yesterday after Manchester Crown Court heard how the shameless pair came within a cat's whisker of joining the mile high club. With the lights dimmed on American Airlines flight AA10, Holt stripped to her bra and knickers, fondled herself while dangling her legs by the ears of the shocked elderly passenger in front, and buried her face in Machin's crotch. Fellow passenger Brian Carter said yesterday: "Her blouse and trousers had been removed. She was kneeling on the seat with her back to the window and Mr Machin had his hand inside her knickers." According to Carter, another passenger "heard noises which she took to be from a child misbehaving and miaowing noises coming from behind her... She was expecting to see a child but she turned round to see Mrs Holt". The ex-Nortel employee's solicitor, Peter Birkett, said Holt had been working very long hours on and had not eaten since breakfast on the day in question. It was not specified what she ate on the flight. Nortel sacked Holt from her sales job and withdrew her £15,000 share options after the incident. She has not worked since, but wrote a letter of apology to the airline. Holt was fined £1000 with £700 costs and Machin was fined £1250 with £400 costs. The pair escaped a possible two years in jail when charges of outraging public decency were dropped. ® Related Stories Shame at 30,000 ft exec puts Nortel Come Together slogan into practice Nortel Come Together tagline has pulling power
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No customer support please, we're Sony

The Internet provides a fantastic resource for customers trying to get help and advice on their purchases. Whether you need a new driver for your video card or need to know how to program your VCR's timer, the Web is the best place to start. Well in most cases it is, unless the company concerned is Sony. When a Sony Walkman is accidentally plugged into a 9V AC power supply rather than a 6V DC one, nasty things happen to the innards. An email was sent to the tech support address on Sony UK's Web site, asking what damage could have been caused, if it was likely to be repairable, and what cost might be involved putting it right. Three days later a reply arrived, thanking the hapless owner for their enquiry and advising them to look up their local dealer in Yellow Pages. Now that's what we call progress. ®
The Register breaking news

ATI records 136 per cent profit hike

ATI continues to rub its hands with pleasure at its fiscal results, this time gloating - understandably - over 28 per cent and 136 per cent rises in sales and income, respectively. The company's second quarter, ended 29 February, saw sales reach $380.1 million, up from last year's $297.2 million, and income hit $51.1 million, up from $21.7 million in the same period last year. Factor in one-off items, and ATI's profit falls to $44.8 million, despite a $10.7 million sale of long-term investments. ®
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Saudi prince takes $1bn AOL stake

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, billionaire investor and a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd , has just forked out $1 billion buying up shares in dotcom and IT companies. The flush billionaire investor, whose previous greatest hits include Apple, has been waiting to pounce on dotcom shares for some time but only weighed in when stock prices went down the pan. The plutocratic prince picked up $400 million each in AOL and Compaq, plus $100 million each in Kodak and Xerox, and his AOL stake now stands at over $1 billion. But just wait until tomorrow morning. Notice, though, how Alwaleed didn't decide to splash out on Lastminute.com shares, which are currently down the toilet. Perhaps he'll wait until they're in the sewer before he wades in. ®
The Register breaking news

Compaq's Wildfire gets first public benchmark

The first public benchmark of a Compaq Wildfire system, which uses Alpha microprocessors, has been posted on the Web. The benchmark, for a GS 320 system running Tru64 Unix 5.1, Oracle 8i 8.1.6 and running that dreadfully boring R3 SAP stuff, can be found on this site. The GS320, which includes 32 Alpha CPUs, achieves more than a respectable rating, coming second after one of those big Fujitsu Siemens GP7000F models, which actually uses 64 microprocessors, in a two-tier client/server test. Compaq has been quietly shipping seed Wildfire systems to its customers ahead of its official launch, which is slated for 16 May. Meanwhile, Terry Shannon, editor of Shannon knows Compaq, has confirmed that the firm will drop branding its identity using that large letter Q, through which the beak of The Register's vulture peeked towards the end of last year. The company has gradually been phasing out the "Q" identity over the last few months in the US. In other Alpha news, reports said that Alpha Processor Inc (API), will get a 1GHz+ processor out of its fabs at Samsung round about the middle of the year. IBM, which will also make Alphas using copper interconnect technology is expected to start sampling these chips in the next few months. ®
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Now Netscape are 6 – and a nation yawns

Netscape unveiled its new browser, Netscape 6, in Britain this morning -- a day after it launched it in the US. So bang goes one of Netscape's nice lines about it now being a global, rather than US-centric outfit that accepts that there are now more Net users outside North America. Not a particularly auspicious start for the company, but nice to know it does a cracking line in contempt. Still picking up the scraps from the US launch, British hacks were treated to a juddery edit of Steve Case's speech at Internet World yesterday. Sounding like a campaigning politician selling his dream for the future, he received a round of applause just for saying that Netscape 6 was being launched. And after explaining a few features of the new software he said: "I hope you'll agree that the Netscape magic is back." Trouble is, watching a demonstration of Netscape 6 this morning it was more mumbo-jumbo than magic. Still, this witchcraft obviously didn't put off everybody. According to one Netscape sorceress today more than a terabyte of product was downloaded from the Net yesterday following the official launch. Gosh. Product wizard Rick Elliot, said Netscape 6 was "cool stuff" even though the software goblins had "taken their time and suffered the necessary pain to develop a new product." If you really want to know more about this hubble bubble toil and trouble product, you can download it here at Netscape's Netcenter. Apparently. ®
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Judge's Java findings may trigger Sun suit against MS

MS on Trial Sun has started briefing the press on the possibility of it mounting a private antitrust suit against Microsoft. That of course doesn't mean that Sun will mount such a suit - it may well be that the company will be happy enough with the mischief the suggestions will cause for Microsoft. And of course by bringing private antitrust suits further up the news agenda, Sun is likely to encourage more aggrieved parties and sundry ambulance-chasers to go after Redmond. But as Sun puts it, the company is "obligated" to look at suing. In his Conclusions of Law published this week, it was to be expected that Judge Jackson would come down heavily against Microsoft on the subject of Netscape, but he also covered Java in some detail, and this is where Sun's 'obligation' comes in. By concluding that Microsoft deliberately set out to wreck Java, and even hurt itself in order to achieve this goal, Jackson could be said to have handed Sun a loaded pistol. The judge has ruled that Microsoft hurt Java, and therefore cost Sun money, so Sun's shareholders could reasonably expect the company's officers to look at the likelihood of extracting compensation. Sun does however have a long record of trying to pull the antitrust strings against Microsoft without (excepting the Java action) actually putting itself into the front line, and this goes back to well before the current action. More recently the company has 'helpfully' suggested Microsoft should be split into three companies (with the OS itself also sent three ways), forced to publish its APIs and have its pricing and contracts rigorously controlled. Sun boss Scott McNealy has also frequently recommended that Microsoft be prevented from spending its large cash pile on buying its way into new markets. Aside from this pot-stirring, Sun has its own Java copyright infringement suit running against Microsoft, and is one of the companies that triggered the separate European probe into the company's activities. So maybe it's busy enough without an antitrust action too. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
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UK PLC leaves door open to hackers – report

British companies are too complacent when it comes to Internet security and only have themselves to blame if their IT systems are compromised by hackers. That's just one of the conclusions of a new survey published by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which reveals that two thirds of companies in Britain have suffered security breaches within the last two years. But the survey also reports that most of the losses are under £20,000. This is chicken-feed to mega-corporations, and many of them don't take corrective action even after a loss, possibly because fixing the holes would be more expensive than just accepting continuing small losses. Of those suffering a serious security breach 64 per cent said "nothing has changed" since the trespass occurred. Just under half of all security breaches were due to human error. Malcolm Skinner, Product Marketing manager, AXENT Technologies, said: "The report indicates that, to date, businesses have been far too complacent. "In addition to the perils of having your network or Web site hacked, companies must think of the consequences as far as customer trust is concerned. Tom Perrott, Research director, Taylor Nelson Sofres said: "Although there have been some well publicised security breaches, it is generally accepted that those brought to the attention of the public are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.   The key findings of ISBS 2000 show that:
The Register breaking news

Apple ships Darwin 1.0 open source OS core

Apple has released the first full version of Darwin, the open source operating system core on which the upcoming MacOS X is based, just over a year after the Mac maker announced its open source plans. Darwin 1.0 is based on the Mach 3.0 microkernel and FreeBSD, and as reported earlier, can be compiled for both PowerPC and Intel CPUs. That said, Apple admits "Darwin 1.0 does not currently run on Intel-based computers. There are still several issues to be worked out before the Intel platform will be usable". Said Darwin Product Manager Ernest Prabhakar: "We have synchronised Darwin with the latest Mac OS X sources... You should now feel free to write enhancements, fix bugs, and expand driver support - and know that you're work will be compatible with future versions Mac OS X." Indeed, Darwin 1.0 is a major step forward in the development of drivers for the OS, and by extension, for MacOS X too. As Web site DarwinOS.org put it: "There is no longer any excuse to put off development of drivers for Darwin, and by extension Mac OS X. All the required components are now publically available." The 221MB binary download is currently only available for Apple's most recent machines based on the New World architecture, including the iMac, the Power Mac G4 and the blue'n'white Power Mac G3. A binary for older machines is in preparation, though Apple hasn't said when it will be made available. Apple has also announced an updated version of Darwin Streaming Server, its open source QuickTime movie server software, that adds support for Windows NT. The update is due to be released next month. ® Related Stories Darwin on x86 - Apple's Intel interest Apple offers open source for Mac OS X Server Open source server leads Apple streaming scheme
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AOL unveils Gateway-made Linux Net appliance

AOL's 'AOL Anywhere' strategy took a stride forward yesterday when the company unveiled the results of its $800 million investment in PC vendor Gateway: a line of co-branded Net access devices. Based on Linux and running AOL's new consumer-friendly Gecko Web browser - for a taster, take a look at Netscape Navigator 6 Preview Release 1, which the company yesterday made available for download - the machines will ship in a number of form factors, including a wireless Web pad, a desktop device and a "countertop" appliance for the kitchen (which sounds not unlike 3Com's upcoming Net appliance). AOL said the machines will feature instant access to the company's online service, so we assume the machines will each sport a built-in ADSL modem. So far, though, AOL has said nothing about the boxes' hardware specification, and with the focus clearly on the consumer electronics market, we don't expect them to make much of a song and dance about it. The kitchen-oriented device and the desktop PC replacement are scheduled for a late 2000 release, with the Web pad following early next year. Pricing will be "economical" - in other words, under $500, said AOL's president of interactive services, Barry Schuler, though we noted his caveat: "In most cases." ®
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InterX inches closer to Ideal Hardware sale

The InterX group today edged closer to offloading its distribution business, Ideal Hardware. At today's extraordinary general meeting, company chairman Richard Jewson confirmed InterX had "entered a period of exclusivity with a potential purchaser". "In the Circular [dated 10 March] I also indicated to shareholders that we expected to be in advanced negotiations with a purchaser for Ideal Hardware plc, our IT distribution business, by the time of today's Extraordinary General meeting," he said. No expected time was given for the deal to be completed. "I hope to be able to report further progress in due course," said Jewson. Speculation is mounting as to who this mystery buyer could be. This week's Computer Reseller News tipped California-based Bell Microproducts as the likely candidate, saying the components and storage distributor was planning European expansion. This deal would give Ideal a listing on Nasdaq. Meanwhile, InterX said tomorrow's expected listing of its new ordinary shares on the London Stock Exchange would mean it had raised £54 million. InterX's shares jumped 87.5 pence to 1750 pence today. ® Related Stories InterX shares rocket, buys PharmWeb InterX distie arm still for sale
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Gates hits Washington in serial lobbying schmooze

MS on Trial Bill Gates is one of the very few people in the US who can fix five top-level lobbying meetings at very short notice on Capitol Hill, and then go on the same afternoon to join President Clinton's New Economy Summit at the White House. Gates changed his slot at Microsoft's government leaders conference in Seattle, upstaging William Daley, the US Secretary of Commerce, and then flew off to the other Washington to prepare his lobbying effort. There were five closed-door meetings with the Senate and Republican caucuses and a private meeting with Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader, as well as a GOP senators lunch. Ed Black, president of the CCIA, from which Microsoft resigned recently and which produced a brief supporting the DoJ, observed that "Microsoft is now trying to use money, muscle and political connections to win what it couldn't achieve in a court of law". At a meeting with Republicans from the House, Gates expressed the view that a new administration would "probably" make a difference to the outcome of the case. Reports from both sides suggest that Gates did not directly request anything, although he mentioned the trial briefly, so it seems that the meetings were ritualistic let's-get-acquainted affairs. Topics he raised included his need for more visas so that Microsoft could take on more foreign staff, Internet taxes, encryption, and the future of technology. Gates evidently heard positive sentiment from some 60 Republicans, who urged him to resist giving in to the "oppressiveness" of the DoJ. Senator Gorton (Republican, Washington), a Microsoft supporter, said that he thought Microsoft would prefer to take its appeal chances with the Court of Appeals, rather than the Supreme Court. Senator Hatch (Republican, Utah) wondered why Gates was on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers when it was in court itself. Senator Lott (Republican, Mississippi) was more neutral about Gates, but made the curious claim that DoJ lawyers were getting into the policy area, which was odd, as the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees will apparently hold hearings on the subject while the trial is still in progress. This is a second example of there being a less than perfect separation of powers - this time between the legislature and the judiciary - which compounds the concern about possible presidential interference in the case of Bush winning the presidency. Bill managed a bite of lunch with the GOP senators, but neither the menu nor hard details of what was discussed were disclosed. But just as the session that Gates attended began, Joe Lockhart, the President's press secretary was answering some pointed questions as to why Gates was at a meeting with the President in view of recent events. There were no qualms about the invitation, Lockhart said, noting some of the work of the Gates' Foundation.  During the time Gates spent at the President's meeting, he spoke generally about technology issues and departed considerably from the text put out by Microsoft, not mentioning for example that Microsoft was working on a pilot project at 500 schools to supply laptops, as stated in Microsoft's text. He went into more detail about the work of his foundation, and bringing Microsoft's work with the handicapped into a reply to a question. There was of course no mention of the trial and no clue about the events of less than 48 hours earlier. Gates made his remarks between those of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank. It was politicing at its finest. So far, Microsoft has spent $3 million on "political contributions" since the trial began. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
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Likely MS remedies: breaking up is hard to do

Special report The last few days have seen a plethora of possibly remedies to deal with Microsoft put forward, but the point many of them miss is that remedies that harm users would be foolish. Nor is it the court's role or objective to punish Microsoft, in this case at least. Any approach to remedies has to start at the present position: there is no going back to re-argue issues, the facts or conclusions established during the trial. Even Microsoft is unusually subdued; it hasn't put forward any substantive argument that the findings of fact are untrue, or that the conclusions of law are illogical. Presumably it is keeping its powder dry, and hoping to put its faith in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Antitrust law is based on the assumption that a competitive marketplace is more likely to result in a better products for users, at better prices. The remedies to return to a situation where competition could flourish must be in the realm of the legally possible, and achieve what is best for consumers, Microsoft's competitors, and possible new entrants. There is a requirement that an effective way should be found to stop the illegal behaviour, and to reduce barriers to market entry for future competitors. Punishment is not directly part of the remedies, but it is a likely consequence. As we have pointed out many times, there can be no financial penalty as a result of the present case, although it may well transpire that Microsoft suffers very seriously as a result of the imposed remedies. To a fair extent, this has happened already in that Microsoft has lost clout with much of the trade press, and many users are waking up to realise that they have never had a choice of operating system. The best systematic appraisals of Microsoft and consideration of remedies have been at the two Appraising Microsoft conferences arranged in Washington by that old pro of righting wrongs, consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Users, the industry, and Microsoft (at the second conference on possible remedies) put forward detailed views, and the proceedings of these meetings provide some rich background material. Nader commented on Judge Jackson's recent Conclusions that "Microsoft doesn't respect antitrust laws... can't be trusted... and has shown contempt for any court-imposed changes in its conduct". He called for the break up of the monopoly into operating systems, applications companies, and the divestment of its browser. There are two broad possibilities: behavioural remedies, and structural or divestment remedies, with each having several variants. The consent decree that Microsoft signed was a behavioural remedy, and in view of subsequent events, there is little expectation that such an approach would be any more successful this time around. ® Next part: Behavioural remedies - curbing Microsoft's conduct
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Leak! ServerWorks cornerstone of Intel servers

Analysis A colleague at The Register who watches these things more than yours truly, says that a piece on Intel's server strategy, divided into three parts, and which we delivered last week, didn't start really hitting the numbers until the word "Leak!" was stuck in front of the headline. So now that's the order of the day in this series. But leaving that aside, a close analysis of the three pieces, based on conversations with a deep throat in Intel Europe, tells us more about the chipset shenanigans than a thousand releases from 10,000 PR bunnies each (sorry bunnies). The documents we saw, which emanate from Intel's server board division, and the conversations we've had reveal not just the interesting fact that the firm can now deliver fully specced up boards and a chassis to house such board to the world+dog, but that its strategy is heavily reliant on chipsets from outside Santa Clara. And, at the risk of facing another rash of emails, all good candidates for Flame of the Week, the roadmaps also reveal that however advanced Rambus technology may or may not be, it has little place in the Intel mobos of the future, especially at the workstation and server level. Three server boards were originally to be based on the i820 and the i840 platforms, but they have been canned. Instead, mobos such as Lancewood, Glen Echo, Ginko, Tupelo, support PC-133 memory -- synchronous DRAM -- with the latter two using external chipsets from ServerWorks (formerly Reliance). Juniper and Foster -- both motherboards which Foster microprocessors will fit into -- also use a ServerWorks chipset -- the GC. While the Itanium "Lion" mobo, called the Acacia or S460AC4, uses an Intel home grown chipset, the 460GX, this does not support Rambus memory either. Nor will the Cascades upgrade for the eight way Saber technology, codenamed the Palmetto, or more properly the SRPM8. There are indications that Intel customers are not entirely happy with this eight way Saber technology anyway. Compaq, because of its former close relationship with Corollary, managed to co-develop the chipset that powers its eight way ProLiant system. Paul Santeler, who runs the so-called "industry standard" division of Compaq, is on records some weeks back as saying that his firm will never use Rambus memory in these lucrative boxes. Dell, and other people forced to use the Saber mobos, are not happy that Compaq has stolen a market march and completely outsells the rest of the market on SMP eight way servers. The roadmap also makes the most remarkable assertion about Intel's motherboard partners (or should we read that competitors). It states that Intel research shows that none of these, largely Taiwanese firms, has investigated the Reliance-ServerWorks chipsets, and that gives a clear selling window for boxed motherboards against their own products, which presumably will use Intel's i840 chipset, unlike Intel itself. Unfortunately for Intel, it could be that our contacts with the Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers are as good, or if not slightly better than the negotiators from Chipzilla. We are reliably informed that at least two Taiwanese firms are reading mobos based on ServerWorks technology, and that these will compete very nicely indeed against Glen Echo and the newer Lancewood, thank you very much. Thanks to one reader for pointing us to a description of Tyan's dual processor Thunder 2500, for example, which uses the ServerWorks ServerSet III HE chipset and which you can find here. Availability was slated by Tyan at CeBIT (was anyone from Intel looking round Hall 13) for the end of Q2, but in fact sample motherboards are already out there with the OEMs, and one big UK distributor takes first delivery of such mobos, err, this week. Asus, too, is no ServerWorks slouch. Again at CeBIT, they demoed two boards while SuperMicro, which was the first to get an i840 mobo out, even before Intel could, have been making and selling a ServerSet four CPU board for quite some time. At this point, we would like to get readers who think we are unduly biased against the Rambus platform to suspend their disbelief for a paragraph. The reasons why all these motherboards do not use Rambus are not because the technology is inferior to DDR, SDRAM or anything else. It is because, as we pointed out in our first piece of this series, both the desktop and the server board divisions at Intel are bitterly disappointed at the failure of the chipset teams within the firm to make any of the blighters work properly, first time. Rambus fans, you can now exit suspend disbelief mode (SDM), as we remind you of Caminogate. The i820 chipset was first delayed at the beginning of last year. At the February 99 Intel Developer Forum, the firm warned that all was not well in making everything work fine with the i820. By September the chipset division thought it had it right, and then delivered and recalled Intel mobos to its favourite distributor, the Dull Corporation. While Intel is still pushing its own i820 motherboards throughout this year (see separate desktop pieces), there is a certain lack of confidence in these products. And, as we also reported in this series, some of these i820 mobos have already slipped. Even more damningly, some of Intel's competitors such as SuperMicro (above) have not had the same problem making the i820-i840 work as the people who invented it. And while it is, apparently true, that the reason why Foster (the grown up server/workstation version of Willamette) will use DDR memory because it is cheaper, it is rather an indictment that Intel's own mobos and a significant section of divisions inside the company, are today praising ServerWorks to the sky. So don't tell us that Intel kills its competitors. It promotes innovation. Wind River cannot lose because Intel licences its technology for its IXA Network Chip, and the suits at ServerWorks (formerly Reliance) must also be rubbing their hands in out-and-out glee. The latter, by the way, plans an IPO at some stage. According to excellent chip journalist Mark Hachman, in this Electronic Buyers' News story here,ww'd say its shares are likely to do rather well, particularly as that story suggests a...cough Willamette mobo based on ServerWorks chips will arrive...cough, this month. (Wind River Systems (Nasdaq: WIND), which specialises in real time operating systems, has seen its share price climb from around $16 last year to a high of $66 on March 1st this.) Intel and ServerWorks have a 10 year agreement -- shouldn't Chipzilla buy this firm, and sack its own chipset division? ®