7th > April > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Ledger and Morris launch Net-centric distie

Neil Ledger and Ian Morris, co-founders of networking outfit Data Connectivity, have started yet another distributor. This one promises to be a "new breed of distributor". Could this perhaps be one that can make some margin? equIP Technology aims to be "a link between fast emerging Internet enabling technologies and the new breed of resellers that include ISPs, ASPs, Telcos and specialist VARs." The company has signed up two partners - Hydraweb Technologies, a Web traffic management company, and CacheFlow, an Internet caching appliance developer. "Load balancing and caching are seen as key to maintaining Internet customer service, efficiency and productivity and are an excellent example of the new types of applications and solution focused technology equIP aims to introduce to the channel" said Ledger. ® Related stories Datrontech chief says company will turn round Datrontech turns to commodity networks
The Register breaking news

Free games download site opens for business

Pure Entertainment Games' site allowing users to download computer games for free went live this week. The Freeloader.com Web site currently offers five titles to download, Rat Attack, Grand Theft Auto, Blastian, Demon Invaders, and Moon Defender, with around another twenty planned for the site's official launch, expected on May 20. The AIM-listed company makes its money by dividing each full-game download into stages. Users have to watch or click on tailored adverts to progress to the next stage. "After pornography and MP3 music, games are the most searched for item on the Internet," said Ainslie Cheung, PR manager for Pure Entertainment. Other games planned for the site include Viva Football, Magic & Mayhem, Jimmy White's 2 Cueball and Pure Tennis. Computer games cost £20 to £30 upwards in the UK High Street, but from the look of it Pure Entertainment is going for lower value titles, not current charters. ® Related Stories Games giants sue Yahoo! over 'thieves market' Tubbie terror game strikes the Web US users are game for a PC Ban Quake, Home Officer advisor demands Link Freeloader.com
The Register breaking news

Intel gets private, parallel Kuck

Chip giant Intel said late yesterday it had bought Kuck & Associates Inc (KAI) to help it build software tools to create cost effective multiprocessing systems. Neither firm said how much Intel had paid for the company, but KAI has pushed the case for OpenMP, an open multiprocessing environment meant to aid more efficient multithreaded applications. The KAI technology and tools spread applications across one or more CPUs, with it and Intel being founder members of the OpenMP Architecture Review Board. The Illinois company is based in Champaign, so we expect they were breaking open some bottles of bubbly last night. The combined teams will work to build development tools, including compilers and run times for OpenMP. ® * Never forget that Intel is now a major worldwide force in Vulture Capital. It continues to make investments which don't necessarily grab the headlines, but can be easily spotted by bookmarking the Intel Capital page.
The Register breaking news

Domino Dell denies it will use AMD chips

Fevered speculation that Dell, a major distributor of Intel technology, might be the last domino to fall to AMD with its Athlon microprocessor, was dampened down by an executive at the PC firm late yesterday. Kevin Rollins, a vice chairman at the Dull Corporation, told the Reuters wire that the reports were not true. He confirmed that Dell regularly met with officials from AMD, as reported here previously, but said the meetings were just that, meetings. An insider at AMD confirmed this was the state of affairs to us earlier this week, rather cynically observing that Dell liked Intel to see the name of the rival company in its visitor book, just to keep Chipzilla on its toes. However, AMD's share price continued to rise on Wall Street yesterday, boosted by inaccurate news stories as well as promises of loot to come when the firm releases its figures on April 12th. Its share price closed at $71 when the night watchman arrived. The day before, the share price had risen by $7.25, heady heights from the $16 that it trundled along at for Q2-Q3 of last year. Meanwhile, a senior executive at AMD's plant in Dresden, the self-styled Home of the Copper Whopper, provided market figures for his firm which suggest it has done better than anyone expected. Jens Drews, PR executive at Fab 30 in Saxony, provided The Register with some worldwide figures. He said: "In Europe, our market share is the about the same as in Japan (20 per cent). Worldwide, we came in at about 15 per cent in Q3 and Q4 99 according to Mercury Research. That means, the US numbers [which were provided in an earlier story, Ed] are also way off. After all, we sold about 18 to 19 million K6 and one million AMD Athlon in 1999." However, the figures Drews supplied may not be totally differerent from those we provided in our earlier story. We were referring to its share in the high end desktop market, and as far as we are aware, there is no independent market research which gives those figures. We suspect, however, that AMD has done particularly well with the Athlon in the last three months, given feedback from both the component distribution channel and independent PC vendors. ®
The Register breaking news

Alpha chip powers Celera genome burst

Biotech firm Celera said yesterday that it has now finished sequencing 99 per cent of the human genetic pattern, and confirmed it will complete its corporate push during the course of this year. Sources close to the firm's plans said it has used "mass quantities" of an as yet unreleased 667MHz Alpha processor, each of which includes 8Mb of cache*, incorporated in four way ES40 AlphaServers. Further, the next step of Celera's plan involves using faster Compaq technology to put the sequences together to form the human genome, thus giving it a massive lead over an alternative, government sponsored scheme. This is probably Wildfire technology. The Human Genome Project wants Celera to share its data with it, and is backed by both Mr Tony Blair, the English prime minister, and President Bill Clinton, who currently runs the United States. Informed sources said that Celera has chosen Alpha technology because of its number crunching capabilities, and it is not alone amongst biotech firms in choosing the microprocessor over other competing technologies. Sandia Labs has an installed base of nearly 3,000 Alpha CPUs, and has recently added 1,300 AlphaServer DS10L Slates to its computing armory. Compaq is expected to formally announce its 667MHz-8Mb Alphas during the course of next week. ® * Compaq does not seem to make such a song and dance about chip announcements as Intel and the rest. According to a contributor on our Bulletin Board, these have been available for some time. He adds that Alphas are particularly suitable for biotech apps. But the chips that are available only have 4Mb of cache. Now wouldn't it be great if you could still get Alpha for NT on a 666/8Mb cache system?
The Register breaking news

Intel gives Euro e-biz Amsterdam high five

Chip giant Intel is to spend "multimillions" fostering e-business in Europe, it said today. The company said it is opening e-biz solution centres in Holland, German, Sweden, France and England which will help create and validate solution stacks running on, err x86 boxes. Three of the five centres will open during the course of the next six months, while the Dutch and French facilities will be announced later on. Rob Eckelmann, general manager of Intel in the European, middle Eastern and African geographies, speaking in Amsterdam, and which we understand is home of another kind of e-business altogether, claimed the centres will speed up the availability of solutions for customers. The English centre will be at Reading, which is, completely coincidentally, the site of a massive server farm Intel is set to open. The sites will let developers, bubble.com firms, Intenet solution providers and others to validate and test their applications, as well as to carry out benchmarketing, Intel said. Intel will also provide tasty snacks based on its own e-biz recipes to both software and hardware providers to pass onto their customers. ®
The Register breaking news

Cellphone LCDs to dominate display production this year

LCD manufacturers will increasingly shift production from notebook screens to cellphone displays, with balance of production favouring the latter by the end of the year, according to Japanese research company Nikkei Market Access (NMA). "There is a possibility that the LCD production value for mobile phones will exceed that for notebook PCs in the fourth quarter of 2000," said NMA's Mayumi Amagai recently. In Q1 1997, NMA reckons, the monthly value of the LCD business was split $682 million for notebook screen production to $259 million for mobile phone LCDs. By Q1 1999, that ratio had shifted to $446 million to $398 million. Since then, notebook LCD production has started to grow again, but Amagai believes it will plateau during 2000, leaving the ratio at $804 million to $827 million. The rapid growth of the cellphone LCD business should come as no surprise, not should the changes in the value of the notebook screen market. The slowdown through 1997 and 1998, broadly follows the improving yields on passive matrix screens, and the 1999 growth ties in with the improvements in the production of active matrix (aka TFT) screens, now the standard for notebook PCs. In the meantime, the cellphone market has grown and grown. However, that growth does highlight the fears of some vendors, most notably Palm and Nintendo, who have both warned of hardware production problems resulting from manufacturers' attempting to cope with the massive demand for mobile phones LCDs. In Palm's case, that means component shortages, leading to reduced sales and a profit warning for the company's next two quarters. Nintendo, meanwhile, said this week that it may have to delay the introduction of its next Gameboy because of LCD supply issues. Amagai also noted that notebook production reached just under 18 million units in 1999 and that the figure will have risen to 22 million by the end of this year. That contrasts with the 270 million cellphones made in 1999, which will rise to 400 million this year. ® Related Stories Nintendo Gameboy delay confirms Palm profit fears Palm profits surpass Street 'spectations LCDs hit by component shortage
The Register breaking news

$333,000 for a Pentium III?

In a startling triumph of technology over common sense, Yamaha has built an electronic piano costing a third of a million dollars – for that kind of money you can buy three new Steinway concert grands with more than enough money left over to build a music room on your house to put them in and pay for some piano lessons on top. The new Pentium III-based Yamaha Disklavier Pro 2000 does offer one thing that a lovingly-crafted Steinway can't – the ability to play DVDs of piano works whilst displaying the performance on a screen. That's a phenomenal saving of around $100 on the cost of buying a DVD player to hook up to your TV, making the $333,000 price tag look quite a bargain. A Yamaha spokesman commented: "Each Disklavier Pro 2000 is hand-built at a plant in Hamamatsu, Japan. It takes seven months to build. We've only made three so far." And Florida piano shop owner Chuck Hale, who plans to stock the modestly-priced instruments, displayed a refreshing degree of honesty when he added: "We're in an upscale market where we have people who will buy anything." ®
The Register breaking news

MPAA on legal warpath with 2600 again

The powerful Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) lobbying outfit has taken another heavy-handed swipe at the DeCSS utility programme which enables users to decrypt the playback protection of DVDs and run them on unauthorised players. The group has named 2600.com publisher Eric Corley, aka Emmanuel Goldstein, in a complaint lodged with the district court in New York requesting a second injunction against Corley, this time to stop him from linking to other sites which offer the DeCSS programme for download. The MPAA successfully sued 2600, a popular hackers' newsletter, winning an injunction which prohibits the site from distributing the programme back in January. Corley has obeyed the court order, but has since provided links to other sites where the forbidden utility can still be found. "He is transporting individuals electronically to locations in order to facilitate the illegal copying of DVDs. His behaviour is analogous to driving someone to a home so that they may burglarise the home," MPAA President Jack Valenti said in his typically overblown rhetorical style. The court may not see it that way. In a recent decision involving Ticketmaster and Tickets.com, the judge found that hyperlinking is "analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items." That strikes us as a more accurate description of the process than Valenti's. This will be an important case; the core question is whether a link to illegal content is itself illegal, and that has implications reaching far outside the MPAA's sad little theatre of acrimony and intimidation. Links to such content as racist hate speech, bomb-making instructions and child pornography all have the potential to be affected by the upcoming decision. The court must respond within 21 days. The MPAA says it expects a favourable decision, but we are not so sure. In any event, this is a true can of worms which may see scores of peripheral players trotting onto the field and filing appeals in diverse venues, and could eventually end up before the Supreme Court. ®
The Register breaking news

QXL shares rally on analyst's prediction

QXL saw shares dip slightly today after an analyst's tip yesterday sent prices soaring. The UK online auctioneer saw its share price more than double to 606 pence, up on Wednesday's close of 280 pence. At one point the dotcom's shares leapt as high as 800 pence on the London Stock Exchange – with 54 million shares traded in QXL in London by 4.05pm GMT. The individual behind this frenzy was Thomas Bock, a new analyst for brokerage SG Cowen, who put a strong "buy" recommendation on QXL and tipped it as Europe's answer to eBay. Bock predicted QXL would be worth as much as the US online auction house in two years by comparing it to eBay's current stock market worth of $25 billion, giving it a £44 two-year price target. The company's shares had been adjusted on Thursday after it announced a 3-for-1 stock split. "We believe the QXL.com story represents a unique combination of large market opportunity, defensibility, first-mover advantage, and attractive business model," Bock said in a research note to clients, Reuters reported. "If QXL.com does hold on to its leading position during that time frame and over the longer term successfully expands beyond Europe, then we believe that, due to the size of the potential market, QXL.com could actually achieve valuations in excess of $25 billion," wrote Bock. Bock's comments came amid a general rallying of British technology stocks, following weeks of fears that bubbles were bursting all over the dotcom economy. QXL's share price was down 36 pence at 570 pence this afternoon. ® Related stories: QXL losses up, sales down and heading in the right direction QXL buys Norwegian auction site Carry on Falling – Lastminute shares
The Register breaking news

Cisco backtracks on spam the spammers advice

Cisco has admitted that it made a "serious error" by advising its customers that the best way to treat unsolicited email was to retaliate with abusive emails. In its publication The Easy Guide to Network Security, Cisco advised that dumping large useless files on spammers was equally as good, although this approach has been questioned by some experts. The blunder, originally spotted by one of our vulture-eyed readers, has left the networking giant wiping large globules of egg from its face. Following The Register story this week Cisco removed the publication from its Web site. For those who missed it, Cisco's advice read: "Spam is usually harmless, but it can be a nuisance, taking up time and storage space. The solution is to flame the perpetrators by sending them abusive messages, or to reply by dumping a very large and useless file on their Web server." This is no longer Cisco policy, it seems. A prepared statement issued today by Helen O'Hanlon, PR Manager UK, Cisco Systems, Inc., said: "There was a serious error in one section of the previous version of The Easy Guide to Network Security which has led to us recalling it. A new version is in the process of being prepared. The paragraph in question in no way represents the view of Cisco Systems and we apologise for this mistake." Ms O'Hanlon was not available for further comment by press time. Which is a shame, because we would like to know how such a "serious error" could happen in the first place. We'd also like to know how customers received this publication and how many will have to be pulped to get rid of the evidence. And I for one would really love to know how to deal with spammers... other than being abusive. ® Related Story Cisco tells spam victims to reply with abusive emails
The Register breaking news

Sony backpedals on privacy flap

Sony caved in to populist threats to its bottom line this week as players of its on-line game EverQuest rose to arms over a bizarre proposal to monitor their computers for "hacking tools" as a condition of joining the game. The game's developers, Verant Interactive, announced its intention to bar people from the game who refuse to open their systems to some sort of automated inspection routine. But after a populist outcry on numerous BBS' devoted to the game, the company hastily changed its tune. "We can admit when we make mistakes, and I believe this is a case where we owe an apology to our player base," Verant Interactive CEO John Smedley wrote. "In our haste to try and thwart people from damaging the game, we went overboard." It's a comforting story, and not unusual. Recent outcry over Internet advertising outfit DoubleClick's plans to collect and distribute personal information brought about a swift reversal, as did controversy over Intel's plans for a Pentium-III serial number ID system. It just goes to show that mighty corporate Titans can be slapped around with impunity so long as the teeming millions have the presence of mind to attack where it hurts: the sacred bottom line. ®
The Register breaking news

Compaq makes small but important mistake

The clock is ticking – on 22 April phone numbers in many parts of the UK will change. Among those affected will be businesses in the Greater London area. One of those is Compaq UK. We got a press release from Compaq this morning and noticed it had changed its letterheads to accommodate the new phone number – 0181 is gone and in its place is 0208. But 0181 isn't the only thing that's gone. The new phone number has a digit missing. It used to be 0181 332 3000. According to the new Compaq headed paper it is now 020 8332 000. Spot the missing 3 – if you see what we mean. Dial the number as it appears on the letterhead and you get a dead tone. Oh dear. For a long time Compaq was stuck with a reputation for being aloof and unwilling to speak to anyone other than huge multinational customers. It went to great lengths to improve relationships with smaller customers, including setting up a call centre in Glasgow where the smallest of businesses and even home users could buy Compaq machines. Funny thing, irony. ®
The Register breaking news

Beer swilling Linux users hit the Lake District

The Register has stumbled across what appears to be the perfect holiday for anyone who wants to combine their love of walking and beer with the delights of Linux. The Linux Beer Hike (Die Linuxbierwanderung, or LBW) is an annual event, we're told, and this year it's being held at Coniston, in England's Lake District from 30 July to 6 August. Beer swilling Linux walkers will yomp up and down hills during the day and then exercise their minds in the evening with seminars and group sessions on a variety of Linux issues. According to the LBW Web site, you do not have to go on any of the hikes, drink beer or even know much about Linux, but it helps if you have interest in at least one of the three areas. Some 60 people turned up to a similar event last year. ® Link To find out more and to register for this healthy hiking holiday, go here
The Register breaking news

Samsung mobiles get fancier

The mobile is just like the Walkman in the 1980s - every three months they get smaller and cooler (the size of a tape! Auto-reverse!). The only difference is that because we're dealing with IT, any feature has to be an acronym. Samsung is bringing out a new range of phones at Mobilexpo 2000 (Birmingham, next month). The ones we're interested in though are the SGH-M100 and SGH-A110. The "M" is for MP3, and the "A" for WAP (The A100 is non-WAP, but what's wrong with the name W100 for the other one?). The M100 has a built-in flash memory and will give you up to 34 minutes of MP3 music (it can also store images, Windows files etc). You'll be able to download music off the Net and then listen to it, presumably through some radiation-amplifying earphones. The A100 is the business phone - infra-red synchronisation, executive games, personal organiser etc, etc. It has one of those fancy folding bodies and a hi-res screen. Email, Internet access and, of course, WAP. The Register would like to get hold of both of them when they appear in early summer. But, hang on, what we'd really like is just the one phone with both elements in. Are we to presume that business men don't listen to music? Are music lovers bored by time-dependent information? So here's the idea: the SGH-R100. MP3, WAP and talking facility in one phone. Now that's a phone. ®
The Register breaking news

I need a new driver, what to do?

PC Clinic Having trouble with your brand new machine or with the lovely application software that's cost you an arm and a leg? Our very own PC paramedic, Dr Spinola will guide you through the hardware morass. This month he discusses memory modules, drivers, hardware sites and getting good public relations coverage. Q I have a very expensive top of the range IBM ThinkPad but someone says I need a new driver, what shall I do? A What was wrong with the old one? Did he or she drink on duty? This can be a problem because being a chauffeur is a very tedious job. Didn't he or she like the uniform you provided. Perhaps you were a little brusque with him or her. Try learning some management skills. Q Someone tells me that I can make my PC go faster if I put it in the fridge. They called this, for some reason, overclocking. A Indeed, there are now many hardware sites on the Web who will give you the exact technical details on how to achieve this paradise on earth. In fact, one of the biggest suppliers of fancy dress costume in the world, a firm called Intel, reckons that in a few years' time, you won't need to put your PC in the fridge at all, because the fridge will itself be a PC. At present, the ability to make your PC go much faster by putting it in the fridge is limited by shelf space, which is technically called overclocking by the hardware sites. Q I have noticed that your magazine, The Register, regularly lists a number of hardware sites. As a PC guru, which would you personally recommend? A The Internet is a wonderful thing, isn't it? While not decrying the daily so-called Hardware Roundup that The Register publishes, I do have a few favourites of my own. At Plumbing.Com, you will find the largest supply of urinals, pot fillers and flush valves in the US. Kettle.Com is a bit of a surprise. It lets you virtually sample home cooking. At Chip.Com there is a stunning picture of Paul McCartney crossing a road which I believe is called Abbey Road. I must confess, these are some of my favourite hardware sites! Q Is it true that the more memory modules you put into your PC the better it performs? A As so many things in this highly technical business, the answer is, strictly speaking, yes and no. Memory is quite expensive these days, so you won't get many of the modules and enough change to buy your weekly groceries out of $1000. Even if you are wealthy - which I am not! - you need to be careful. I remember a very rich businessman opening his PC case and, quite literally, throwing hundreds of modules into the machine. When he replaced the top, it didn't seem to work at all better. In fact, it didn't work at all. So be careful. This is an even more tricky question if you're buying so called Rims from a company I believe is called Bumars Inc. They are very expensive Q I have read your forum and see that you used to be what I understand is called a "spin doctor", hence your cognomen. I am starting up a dotcom business and want publicity for it. What shall I do? A First, send me a personal email to the usual address, and I will explain how to transfer a relatively modest amound of funds to my personal bank account. I will then book the most expensive restaurant in London, and hand pick the top journalists who will give you maximum coverage for your lunch, sorry launch. After I have received payment of my modest invoice, you will see just how effective this PR stuff is! There will be so many column inches that it will frighten you. Trust me, I'm a kind of doctor. ®
The Register breaking news

DoJ may brief White House on MS penalties

MS on Trial The White House may be asked to be briefed by the DoJ about the penalties it will seek against Microsoft, it emerged yesterday. The DoJ has declined to comment, other than to say that Janet Reno, the attorney general would participate if so, and this suggests that a briefing is likely. Meanwhile the reverberations of Bill Gates' trip to Washington earlier this week continue. Yesterday the DoJ antitrust chief Joel Klein thanked the American Bar Association for its support against Microsoft's attempt last year to persuade Congress to reduce the budget of the DoJ. Klein said: "Politics can have no place in the enforcement of antitrust laws". We now also know that Representative Victor Snyder (Democrat, Arkansas) wrote to the House Ethics Committee asking if House Republicans had improperly asked Gates for campaign donations during his visit to Congress. It's claimed Gates had been asked in a private meeting with House Republicans why Republicans were not getting more support from Microsoft. If anyone did ask this question they were skating on thin ice, given the circumstances. More detail has also emerged is about Senator Gorton's remark about Microsoft preferring to take its chances with the Court of Appeals. Apparently Gates told Democratic Senators that expedition of the proceedings to the Supreme Court would prevent Microsoft mounting a proper defence, because of the complexity of the case. Pro-Microsoft Senator Robert Torricelli (Democrat, NJ) wants "the federal government to take the lead in jump-starting settlement talks," the Washington Post reported, and he didn't want to break up "a company that has done this much economically to advance our national interest". Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah), the anti-Microsoft chairmen of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, will be holding hearings on remedies and is considering calling both Klein and Judge Richard Posner, the mediator. Hatch commented that it would have been better if Congress had not played "a bit part in this PR campaign". A spokeswoman for Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said that his discussion with Gates was about how Congress might examine the impact of any court-imposed remedies on Microsoft - and that the probable outcome will be antitrust hearings. House Majority Leader Richard Amey (Republican, Texas) said "I'd rather break up the Justice Department" than Microsoft, while Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Republican, Mississippi) said after his private session with Gates, that "lawyers in the Justice Department are getting into the policy area". What cannot be in any doubt is how politically savvy Microsoft has become in Washington's ways compared with a few years ago - something that could go a long way to neutralise the effect of a couple of bad results in the court. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Pollsters and TV ads – the MS fight back begins

MS on Trial Microsoft's strategy for its appeal in the court of public opinion has been revealed by a lucky chance, when a market research pollster who was surely working for Microsoft  called a WSJ reporter. It's not absolutely certain who the firm involved was working for, Microsoft won't confirm that it's the client, but the questions seem awfully pertinent. Presuming it was Microsoft, from the ensuing half hour of questioning we learn that Microsoft is concerned about Bill Gates' image ("Do you think Bill Gates is honest?" and was he "ethical/generous/a good family man?"); that Microsoft is trying to see how bad the damage is ("Do you agree... Microsoft violated antitrust laws?"); and whether people felt their portfolios had suffered ("Whom would you blame for this week's stock market dip?"). While the damage assessment is in progress, Microsoft has started trying to undertake some repair work with a  new TV ad campaign that started yesterday, starring Bill Gates - unusually speaking directly to camera on the Microsoft campus, and backed by an acoustic guitar. There's no mention of the antitrust case, but the intent of the message is clear enough. All the usual feelgood sound-bites are there: "Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I started with nothing but an idea... harness the power of the PC... improve peoples' lives... profound effect on how we live... how our children learn... our goal at Microsoft is to create the next generation of software, to keep innovating... the best is yet to come." COO Bob "Innovation" Herbold appears to be the behind the campaign. The ad is replacing other Microsoft ad campaigns, and will be shown during major sporting activities at the weekend. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Mystery ‘EU client’ orders 2.5m ADSL CE devices

Rumour has been raging about a mysterious "EU client" for large numbers of set-top boxes since Illinois-based Dauphin Technology part-announced the deal in February. Dauphin has now revealed that the deal is for 2.5 million CE-based units at a total value of $500 million, and although the company still won't say who the "other participants" are, Microsoft is strongly-tipped as one. Microsoft will undoubtedly have been involved in a CE order of this magnitude, and from the spec and delivery schedule Dauphin discloses the device seems likely to be going to a telco or an ISP (MSN, anybody?) rather than a cable TV outfit. Dauphin will ship 200,000 units this year, beginning in Q4, and 500,000 a year through to the beginning of 2005. This is really too sedate a rollout for a cable company, so the mystery client is surely a new entrant. The box uses ADSL/VDSL, has video on demand capability, voice/video telephony and broadband Internet access. According to Dauphin it "will connect to [an existing] gigabit fibre optic backbone infrastructure to provide ultra high speed communications services to users including; residential, commercial, civil, educational institutions, government facilities and others." There's a clue there, right? And perhaps a little slip further down: "Certain dedicated gateways will inter-connect the client's infrastructure with other telephone companies" (our italics). That doesn't conclusively prove it's a telco, but it certainly nods in that direction. So, a pending alliance between Microsoft and a European telco that's on the point of delivering ADSL, and wants to get into video on demand? BT, already a Microsoft ally in other areas, may be a candidate. Or there's France Telecom, which like Microsoft is involved with UK cable outfit NTL. It's even (slightly) possible that Microsoft is the client, given that the company is putting together an MSN broadband strategy in the US, and ought to be pushing that way in Europe too. Register bizarre historical factoid. Dauphin Technology has a rather longer and more chequered history than you might expect. Although it's a going concern now, it filed for bankruptcy back in 1995, after supply deals with the Pentagon and IBM had gone sour. Dauphin then made small, cutesy PCs, and unless our memory fails us entirely, the IBM relationship resulted in ones that ran OS/2. Funny friends Microsoft has these days. ®
The Register breaking news

Buy online without a credit card

A Scottish software company believes it's found the perfect way to pay for goods, downloads and services over the Net without having to use any of that fancy e-commerce fluff. Lights Out Limited says its WebMetering system is the "answer to the 'micro-payments' problem" enabling punters to buy online without having to own a credit card. According to Craig Saddington of Lights Out, once a shopper decides they want to buy something from a Web site, they then hang up their Web connection (if that's their only phone line) and telephone the WebMetering Centre to obtain a unique code. They then go back online to buy the product using the code and the charge appears on their phone bill at the end of the month. The telco then passes on the revenue to the Webco. Saddington denied that this sounded like a right old rigmarole. "It's not as much work as putting in your credit name, address and card details," he said. "What's more, millions and millions and millions of people don't have a credit card so it's perfect for them. "And when broadband comes in they won't have to hang up their phone connection at all," he said. WebMetering is due to be rolled out in June 2000. Norweb Telecom is already trialling the system and other companies are also lined up to use the service. ®
The Register breaking news

BMG digital music service to launch this summer

'Big five' member Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) is set to go live with its own digital music distribution service this summer. BMG's service will provide music from "top artists" and offer not only chart hits but back catalogue tracks, too, and will mark a significant step forward in a major label's digital music programme. The system will operate on IBM's Electronic Media Management System, which was the subject of field trials in the San Diego, California area last year, a programme codenamed Project Madison. It also uses Reciprocal's Digital Clearing Service (DCS), which will be integrated into EMMS by IBM and Reciprocal engineers between now and the launch data. Together, EMMS and DCS will allow BMG to control the whole process of storing, downloading and sale of digital music - and, ultimately, movies. The two systems also take in rights management, to ensure that artists royalties are correctly totted up, for instance, and support the sale of BMG's digital catalogue through third-parties. Indeed, it's noteworthy that the company's comments stress this side of the scheme. BMG is clearly having to play this one very carefully, lest it piss off its retailers, particularly those in the High Street, who will, after all, dominate music sales for the foreseeable future. BMG didn't say what music formats it will encode its tracks, but it did note that it wants "clearinghouse operators to support multiple technologies" to ensure "a high level of interoperability between key elements of the digital distribution chain". Not surprising, that, since the last thing any company wants is to find itself backing a minority format or technology that's isolated from all the others. And it also should make it easier to integrate its own set-up with third-party operations, such as those of its retail customers. The company also said it will "support the goals" of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), which again comes as no great surprise. The SDMI is currently figuring out how its initial, Phase I specification for the emerging portable music player market can be expanded to take in the needs of the wider music business. ®
The Register breaking news

FBI, DoJ want new Net monitoring toys

There seems to be no end to the shopping list of Orwellian tools the FBI and Reno Department of Justice are straining to acquire. The FBI is seeking US $75 million from Congress for a massive data-gathering systems upgrade, which will include a new system called 'Digital Storm' that simplifies and accelerates the collection of electronic traffic carried by telephone lines and mobile phones. Another proposed system would create "the foundation for an up-to-date, flexible digital collection infrastructure" for wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Bureau says. Sounds a lot like the National Security Agency's ECHELON spy system, we're thinking. Yet a third initiative would develop an 'enterprise database' to enable agents to analyse large amounts of data and share it via a secure network. FBI officials and US Attorney General Janet Reno endlessly claim that the Bureau's IT systems need to be upgraded to keep pace with criminal activities, especially on the Net. The FBI estimates that the technological improvements it desires would streamline data mining and analysis so well that the number of approved wiretaps could grow by 300 percent in the next decade. "The explosion and availability of open source information, and the number of information bases and data sources that can and should be searched, becomes formidable," the Bureau's budget request document says. But Capitol Hill has remained somewhat cool to the FBI's repeated requests, chiefly because privacy concerns weigh so heavily with voters. Law-and-order plays well among the populace, but there is a crucial difference between hiring more beat-cops and setting up a secret domestic spy network, a distinction to which voters, hence Members, are particularly sensitive. This is precisely why Janet Reno never opens her mouth in Congressional testimony without mentioning terrorists, kidnappers, and exploited children. She hopes her child-protective hype will persuade the average person that remote intrusions into their privacy are fit offerings to the tender, innocent sprouts on whose altar most of us routinely sacrifice the bulk of our personal pleasures and freedoms. But Representative Robert Barr (Republican, Georgia) says the FBI has developed tunnel vision from its obsession with terrorism, and shows little regard for the social impact of its ambitions. "They're saying, we need to do whatever it takes," Barr noted. In this, and election year, the outcome for the FBI and DoJ is uncertain. No Member can afford to be seen as soft on crime, or on privacy. Exercising the better part of valour may provide a third way, with electronic surveillance budget amendments being punted into the 107th Congress' lap. ®
The Register breaking news

Quake developer not responsible for school killings – judge

Quake-maker id Software is not guilty of producing games that warp children into mindless killers, a US court ruled yesterday. The $33 million case was brought by parents of kids killed by fellow pupils at the Heath High School in Paducah in 1997. They alleged that, as a keen player of violent computer games, killer Michael Carneal was essentially re-enacting what he had seen on screen. In that respect, they claimed, the likes of id were responsible for the killer's actions. According to id CEO Todd Hollenshead, US District Judge Edward Johnstone, presiding over the so-called James Case, dismissed the suit against id - and other computer game companies - on all grounds. The judge ruled that games companies could not predict what players would do after playing titles likes Quake. He also ruled that games are not subject to product liability law. The parents said they will appeal the decision, according to the Associated Press wire. ® Related Stories Ban Quake, Home Office adviser demands Brazil bans Quake and other PC games
The Register breaking news

Boffins unveil ‘instant download’ chip

Scientists from the Universities of Washington and Southern Carolina have devised an optical chip that promises to make the transmission of data down cables practically instantaneous. The device, dubbed the Opto Chip, but known more formally as an electro-optic modulator, converts electrical signals into pulses of light which can then be squirted down a fibre-optic cable. Nothing new in that, it's true, but the researcher's device is capable of converting signals at a rate of 100GB per second at very low voltages, according to research lead Larry Dalton. Testers at California-based Tacan found that the new opto-chip uses less than 1V to convert electronic cable TV signals into optical signals. "These electro-optic modulators will permit real-time communication," said Dalton. "You won't have to wait for your computer to download even the largest files." "We'll be able to take telephone signals, computer data, TV signals - any type of signal you can think of - put it on fibre-optic, route it around the world with almost no optical signal loss, and accomplish this with infinite bandwidth,'' he added. Reporting on the device in the journal Science, Dalton and co. built the opto chip out of optically-active organic molecules called chromospheres embedded in plastic. Essentially, the chromospheres react optically to a changing electric field, the only snag, each molecule's output interferes with the output of all the others. Dalton and team's research led them to a method of changing the chromospheres' shape to minimise the effect of the interference. ® Related Stories Optical IEEE 1394 does 100m in 400Mbps Say hello to hologram RAM Boffins beat Moore's Law with quantum magic Storage tech boffins to demo 140GB 'CD-ROM' Big Blue boffins make big storage breakthrough IBM researchers unveil 0.08 micron chip process Boffins to unveil 4.5GHz CPU breakthrough
The Register breaking news

Anoto pen will change the world

Whenever vice-presidents start philosophising over a new product, you're looking at either a significant technological advance or the death of the company. This may well be the former. So what is it? It's a fat biro. And a computer. And a mobile phone. It's made by Anoto, which is owned by C-Techologies - the company that has been working on the C-pen for a number of years. The difference is that this pen has a Bluetooth unit as well as a camera, processor and memory (and the ink of course) so the pen's movement can be tracked, stored and sent to any other Bluetooth device such as a mobile or PC. No cables. Okay, so what can it do? It can record what you have written and know where you have written it. So, for example, you can write dates in your diary and then transfer this information automatically to the diary software on your PC. It can make sketches or notes instantly transferable. It can enable you to buy something from an ad by simply writing down your details and ticking the relevant box. Wow! Now we can send text messages just by writing on a notepad Whoah. Hold your horses. It can read individual letters but don't ask it to do the same with handwriting. What you write is treated as a graphic and recreated as written. It's a shame, I know. Well, that's rubbish then Look you can't have everything. Besides, if this takes off, it'll probably only be a couple of years before handwriting can be understood. Plus handwriting is much nicer to look at than computer fonts. Alright. I do like the idea of just scribbling on a bus ticket on the way home and updating... Er, no. You have to have special digital paper. What! So I'm going to have to carry around a special £10 notebook? I'm gonna stick with my Psion 5 It's not like that. Look, yes, you have to write on special paper. But this has huge advantages. Each page has a unique pattern of very small dots on it (making the paper look a little off-white). So as soon as you set pen to paper, it knows whether you are writing in a diary, notebook, calendar, whatever. You can even define a certain area with a certain function, like "send" for example - just tick the box. Can't you see how useful that is? Yeah but I'm still gonna have to go to the specialist paper store and pay double the price for a digital calendar Not according to Anoto you won't. Digital paper doesn't need a special printing technique and so the cost of producing it will be the same as with normal paper. It will ultimately be more expensive though as the licence for it is one of Anoto's main income sources. The company reckons the licence fee will be tiny (due to huge demand), and while CEO Christer Fahraeus told The Register he wouldn't be so brutal as to make licenced paper companies supply digital paper along with every shipment of normal paper, you can bet he'd suggest it strongly. Now c'mon, there's going to be a shortage and you know it Well, you have to give Anoto the benefit of the doubt. Their entire business plan rests on getting the paper out there - you can be sure they've thought of something. One thing though: due to the design, there is a finite amount of digital paper that can be produced. Anoto has worked this out to be (in terms of surface area) about half the size of the United States. Big, but not big enough if the world+dog starts using the system. It should give a long enough time delay for an updated system though. How much do they want for one of these pens then? $100. You're having a laugh Well, they cost more than that to manufacture. Plus the rechargeable battery lasts for up to a week at a time. Anyway, they'll be like mobiles - companies will give them away to get your custom. Oh look, I've just found a $100 bill. Go on, send us a pen Can't. They're not out until the middle of next year. Bah! While I'm here, anything else you want to share? Well, apart from the fact that Anoto is relying a little too heavily on other people helping them for our liking (next generation mobiles should be fine - Ericsson has taken a minority share in the company) and that you have to remember to have the paper up the right way (or what you scribble comes out upside down), the most intriguing aspect to this has to be Jan Ahrenburg. Jan is Ericsson's VP of marketing. We were amazed when he told us Bluetooth is currently the world's de facto standard (doesn't that imply you can get hold of one?). But more incredible was the realisation than Jan is in fact half-man, half-mobile. Every time he approached the mic, mobile interference came out the speakers. The fifth time it happened, Jan listened: "That's a GSM signal," he said matter-of-factly. ®
The Register breaking news

CCM Distribution outlines post MBO strategy

CCM Distribution expects to have its MBO wrapped up by the end of May, and has outlined plans to grow sales to £30 million for this financial year. The Cheshire-based business last week announced it was switching tactics to become a high-tech investment house called Fundamental e-Investments. As a result, CCM MD Brent Cutler is leading a multi-million pound management buyout of the computer components distribution part of the business. According to Cutler, the MBO is at an "advanced stage" and should be finished in four to six weeks. Fundamental e-Investments will keep a small stake in private company CCM – less than 10 per cent. Cutler hopes to grow CCM's turnover from £23 million to £30 million for the year ending 30 September 2000. "People now want more value for less money," said Cutler. "This means we need to increase the service to companies, and at the same time cut prices." This strategy would bring in lower margins, but on a higher turnover, he said. CCM has also started its own range of products called Freedom – which are re-branded components from other vendors. The scheme, currently using between 10 and 20 manufacturers' kit, means CCM takes on the warranty and replaces faulty goods to resellers. It has also promised to dump any vendors who do not honour warranties. Regarding its e-commerce site, CCM has put the launch date back again – to May. Although useful to check availability of stock, Net-wary Cutler does not see it as a viable selling tool for distributors just yet. "There is a vast difference between a consumer buying a book from Amazon, and system builders buying a motherboard online… There is evidence that ecommerce it isn't working for other distributors," he said. ® Related stories: CCM hives off distribution in MBO CCM dips toe in e-commerce waters Falling prices dent CCM figures
The Register breaking news

DoubleClick wins ‘Greatest Corporate Invader’ award

DoubleClick has won the coveted "Greatest Corporate Invader" prize in Privacy International's 2nd annual Big Brother awards. The award was presented (although it's not clear to whom) at Privacy International's Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2000 Conference, which was held earlier this week in Toronto. A judging panel of lawyers, academics, consultants, journalists and civil rights activists gave DoubleClick the prize in recognition of its success in "monitoring the surfing of 50 million net users." Other victors in this year's awards were the US Federal Aviation Administration for the BodyScan body scanners it's putting into airports, Worst Public Official to William Daley of the US Department of Commerce, for "Safe Harbor, export controls, opposing US privacy laws," and TransUnion, "for selling credit reports to marketers and keeping inaccurate reports for years." ®
The Register breaking news

ATI to unveil Rage 6 on 24 April…

ATI admitted today it is working on a high-end, high-margin 3D graphics chip. Speaking to Reuters, CFO Jim Chwartacky said: "We will be announcing a high-end product that reinforces and extends our reach into the higher margin part of the PC market." Not that we're entirely surprised. Surely Chwartacky is referring to the upcoming Rage 6, which the company has already scheduled a 24 April (the first day of the WinHEC event) booze-up during which company president and CEO K Y Ho will unveil the next-generation chip. Some of the technologies Rage 6 will contain were unveiled at last month's Game Developer Forum, though they were rather overshadowed by Microsoft's X-Box launch. ATI engineers showed of their Charisma Engine transform and lighting system and its Pixel Tapestry Architecture. Incidentally, Nvidia will use WinHEC to launch the successor to the GeForce 256 - or, as the company puts it, "usher in a new era of 3D graphics". The launch will take place on 25 April - the day after ATI's - and we expect to see the NV15 and/or the mobile NV11. ATI earlier this week announced revenue and income growth of 28 per cent and 136 per cent, respectively. The company attributed the results, for its second quarter, to strong sales of its Rage 128 Pro and Rage Mobility 128 chips. However, it noted that margins are on their way down, reaching 33.2 per cent from Q1's 34.1 per cent, thanks to the shift toward the low-end of various ATI products plus rising production costs. Chwartacky said ATI is poised to take advantage of the mobile computing market, which suggests the company has signed up some more notebook manufacturers to join Apple, which offers the latest Rage Mobility in its high-end PowerBook G3. ® Related Stories ATI records 136 per cent profit hike ATI to demo gigatexel renderer, animation accelerator Nvidia NV11 goes mobile too Nvidia hides NV11, NV15 under CeBIT bushel
The Register breaking news

Windows ME hits beta 3, to demo this weekend

The first public showing of the next version of Win9x, Windows Millennium Edition (or WindowsMe, as Microsoft now tags it) will take place this weekend at 30 movie theatres across the United States. Along with WindowsMe, the audience will see Pocket PC and FrontPage 2000 demos beamed direct from Redmond. The event, Spring 2000 eXtreme, is free to people who've pre-registered at the Microsoft site; you get to enter a competition, and you get a free T shirt and some of those pesky trial (don't say that word) software CDs. But even so it doesn't seem to us much of a reason for getting out of bed on Saturday morning. Previous such events, however, have been deemed successful by Microsoft, so what do we know? The WindowsMe demo doesn't of course automatically mean that the product's ready to ship, but although Microsoft is adept at demonstrating wobbly products (it's not always so good at editing videotape), ActiveWin reports that it hit beta 3 yesterday. This ought to leave plenty time to get the software to gold code by the middle of the year, and into the shops around August. Despite the ambitious noises that initially came out of Microsoft on the subject, WindowsMe is now effectively Windows 98 revision three, another service pack with knobs on. The knobs this time include universal plug and play, digital photo and music support, improved home networking (but not, ahem, Windows 2000 networking), and the ability to restore crashed machines to previous states. Curiously, Microsoft group product manager Shawn Sanford has been telling today's WSJ that WindowsMe will probably cost around $89 at retail, and he even seems almost to accept that the name is, er, crud. Microsoft doesn't usually talk price this early in the game, but maybe the company's softening users up to expect it to cost real money this time around. Last year, you'll recall, Windows 98 SE was introduced with a similarly unexciting list of additional features. The problems then, however, were that its release got entangled with the release of the service pack it was based on, and as The Register ruthlessly reported, Microsoft got into a terrible tangle over free service packs and the pricing of upgrades. So get ready folks - this time around there's no mistake, and it really is an $89 OS. Probably. ® See also: ActiveWin
The Register breaking news

IBMer loses sex harassment case

A former IBM employee in Hong Kong is facing ruin after a judge threw out his case which alleged that he had been sexually harassed by his female boss. Judge Maggie Poon Man-kay said Ray Chen knew exactly what he was doing when he entered into a relationship with Tamara Rus, a project manager from Australia, and only made the allegations after he was sacked. The judge also said Chen had brought the case to trial "maliciously and frivolously" and that his allegations of sexual harassment were "without any ring of truth". Chen had alleged he was forced to kiss Ms Rus and had to face the indignity of being told he looked sexy in shorts, among other things. The sexual harassment was said to have taken place when Chen worked for IBM China/Hong Kong Ltd, according to the South China Morning Post. Elsewhere, a Chinese man has been jailed for two months for having sex with a dog inside a public lavatory. In what is this year's best shaggy dog story so far, Wong Pak-kan, 48 -- a watchmaker by trade -- was said by the judge to have committed "the most disgusting offence I have ever come across, especially in a society dominated by Chinese who cherish traditional Chinese values". Wong was caught "giving the dog a bone" by two policemen after they saw him disappear into a lavvy with the dog. The dog's breed is not known. Wong was described as a "tender and passive person", according to Wise News report. It's not known whether the dog shared this description of Wong. This incidence of bestiality has nothing to do with IT, the Internet or any of the usual Register fodder. We just thought it was a sit up and beg type of story that needed to be done. However, we also believe that once Wong serves his time that should be the end of it, and should not be hounded any further. ®
The Register breaking news

Pentium III defies the laws of physics

Amid the horror of Caminogate and Rambus, an increasing number of observers are singing the praises of Chipzilla's earlier chipsets, the desktop BX and the server GX. They may not be state of the art, but they have a major benefit: they work. In the case of the GX, they appear to work better than conventional wisdom would allow. Intel's Lancewood server mobo is a dual slot 1 device with all the usual server gubbins thrown in - LAN, graphics, etc. Having two CPUs is usually reckoned to give between 1.5 and 1.75 times the performance of a single processor. Why is it then that our reference PIII 500 machine, using a Sun River SR440BX, returns a Wintune 98 integer score of 1453.077 Mips and the Lancewood reports 2916.869 Mips rather than a best case scenario of two times the uniprocessor score? Both machines have 128MB of RAM, all three PIII 500s are the same stepping and have identical 6GB hard disks, so where do the extra Mips come from? And the mystery deepens. Original thinking was that the results were caused by Wintune 98 being confused by dual-processor configurations, but this is apparently not the case. A third machine has a Coppermine 700MHz, 256MB and a much faster, 20GB hard disk. It takes an average of between 10.5 and 11 hours to complete a SETI@Home work unit, with Windows 2K reporting 100 per cent CPU utilisation. The Lancewood takes between nine and ten hours to complete a SETI unit, Win2K indicating that only one processor is used to handle the task, using 95 per cent CPU time, the second processor merely ticking over at two to three per cent. So we have a 700Mhz machine with twice the RAM running flat out, being soundly thrashed by just one 500 chip in the dual box ambling along at 95 per cent of full speed. We always liked the Lancewood for its solid build quality and value, but now it appears to be wringing impossible performance levels from a couple of venerable 500MHz PIIIs, we like it even more. What's going on? Suggestions on a postcard please. ®
The Register breaking news

Crypto code is protected speech – appellate court

The Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that application source code is protected by the First Amendment because it is a means of communication among programmers, the Associated Press reports. The ruling marks the first time a federal appellate court has ruled that source code is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Legal Director for Ohio Raymond Vasvari said. He's not quite right: the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May, also finding that encryption source code is protected by the First Amendment, but who's counting. "This is a great day for programmers, computer scientists and all Americans who believe that privacy and intellectual freedom should be free from government control," the wire service quotes Vasvari as saying. The recent ruling opens the way for a lawsuit by Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Peter Junger to be reconsidered in federal court. Junger claims the government violated his First Amendment rights by requiring a license to export cryptographic source code. Junger wanted to publish his encryption code on a Web site to help teach his students, his lawyer, Gino Scarselli, said. Such a posting is defined as an export under current US regulations, and the government required him to apply for a license first. Appeals Judges Boyce Martin, Eric Clay and Herman Weber reversed an earlier ruling against Junger which found the government's license requirement not in violation of the First Amendment. "Much like a mathematical or scientific formula, one can describe the function and design of encryption software by a prose explanation; however, for individuals fluent in a computer programming language, source code is the most efficient and precise means by which to communicate ideas about cryptography," the judges wrote. "The [US] Supreme Court has expressed the versatile scope of the First Amendment by labelling as 'unquestionably shielded' the artwork of Jackson Pollack, the music of Arnold Schoenberg, or the Jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll," the decision says. "Though unquestionably expressive, these things identified by the Court are not traditional speech. Particularly, a musical score cannot be read by the majority of the public but can be used as a means of communication among musicians. Likewise, computer source code, though unintelligible to many, is the preferred method of communication among computer programmers." "Because computer source code is an expressive means for the exchange of information and ideas about computer programming, we hold that it is protected by the First Amendment," the judges concluded. So again the gavel falls on the side of the First Amendment. If no future court challenge should be successful, then the judges' ruling will stand. These fellows were clearly in need, a week or so ago, of a lecture by FBI Director Louis Freeh and US Attorney General Janet Reno on the overriding interests of kidnapped children; but now, we suppose, it's too late for that. ®
The Register breaking news

New Web site security scanner will read your HDD

Internet Security Systems (ISS), is offering an on-line scanner for Web sites which surveys users’ hard drives to detect any potentially dangerous programs, such as Trojans and viruses, that may have been placed on the machine without their knowledge. The ISS Online Scanner will automatically test individual computers, identify security weaknesses, and provide users with easy-to- follow instructions for fixing security problems. It looks at the overall configuration of a computer and recommends changes that can help prevent unwanted intruders from reading or changing sensitive personal files or from enabling an attacker to use the computer as a 'zombie' machine to launch more broad-based Internet attacks. "The importance of offering scalable security management solutions to companies that want best-of-breed technology is critical to the success of protecting the Internet economy," ISS Vice President of Enterprise Software Keith Cooley said. "It is imperative that organizations can easily implement the processes and technologies needed to automatically monitor and respond to security risks. As the industry’s leading trusted security provider, ISS is strengthening our unique security software platform to ensure safe and uninterrupted e-business for our customers worldwide," he crooned. The ISS application will use Active-X technology to scan a visitor's machine and wipe out any undesirable code. The company acknowledges that use of scanning applications by Web sites could be controversial. But we don't see much of a problem with it. Sites that offer it as a free, voluntary service will do themselves and their customers a favour. Sites foolish enough to require it as a condition of visiting or doing business will find themselves paying a heavy price in gross revenues, as the vast majority of Web surfers are sure to be repelled by it. 'Market forces' should be adequate to keep this a relatively harmless little gimmick. ®