18th > April > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Vacancy: SENIOR JAVA – WAP – LONDON

New media is an exciting new area. So exciting that the headhunters tasked with matching candidates to the whizzo new opportunities frequently become incoherent with excitement whilst compiling their job ads. Take for example the following fine example of English prose styling, reproduced exactly as it appeared on a well-known recruitment website: "client is a dynamic E-commerce start up they have commisioned to develop a WAP porthole for one of Europes largest mobile telecommunications suppliers. Minimum 2yrs Java - server side experince must have a good knowledge of Oracle/Solaris client is a dynamic E-commerce start up they have commisioned to develop a WAP porthole for one of Europes largest mobile telecommunications suppliers. They have been heavily backed by investors and are planning to launch in early July. They are looking for a e-commerce guru skills - min 5yrs commercial experience of which 3 should be in an e-commerce environment. Minimum 2yrs Java - server side experince must have a good knowledge of Oracle/Solaris - any knowledge of XML /LDAP / XSL desirable Add Will be developing WAP porthole incorporating - sports - news - finance and all other interests. You will be at the forefront of the developement team. This is a really exciting opportunity to become an intergral part of one of the industries most dynamic WAP projects - brilliant pack offering up to 130000 worth of shares for this position swell as a salary of up to 45k." What The Register believes we have here is a sophisticated aptitude test to attract skilled sub-editors to an organisation sadly in need of grammatical and spelling skills. If any readers understand what the ad is about, or are indeed interested in probing WAP portholes, email us and we'll pass your details on to the headhunter in question for a modest 10 per cent commission. ®
Andrew Thomas, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Cough up you suckers, your staff want to play with their PDAs

The number of Net users in the US using cell phones for wireless data applications is set to leap by a massive 75 per cent within the next year, according to research by Cap Gemini America and b2b e-outfit, Corechange. Research suggests that only three per cent of US Internauts currently use wireless gizmos to access data. The main driver to this massive leap is not becasue people can use their PDAs to access info on the move. It's not because it's a liberating experience that will enhance their lives. Instead, the primary reason for using wireless data applications is that someone else -- the boss -- will pay for it. "The wireless data application market will probably not take off until major corporations start putting integrated PC and wireless PDA application structures in place -- and fully cover the costs for operating them," explains David Ridemar, head of the strategic research group at Cap Gemini America. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Dotcom CEOs are vapid, empty, shallow – and that's the good ones

The future of many dot coms is "hollow.com", according to George Colony, the chairman of Forrester Research. They are about to be exposed for what they are, says Colony: vapid, shallow and hollow. Forrester has interviewed 2,500 CEOs - 20 per cent of whom were running dotcoms - and the conclusion was that many dotcom CEOs are of "low quality": they lack depth, experience and common business sense, Colony says. Short-termism seems to be the order of the day, as they move from start-up to start-up in search of stock options. "Value" - what the customer gets - is always subservient to the "fanatical focus on valuation". Forrester sees four dynamics driving the mentality. History demonstrates that first-movers have done well, stealing the air from competitors, so it's a "go fast or die" world. Then there's the deadly sin of jealousy: the undeserving are getting rich. Third is the silliness of capital markets,where there's willingness to invest in "quarter-baked companies", and accompanying short-term thinking by venture capitalists. Last is greed, with the attitude that it's better to get rich quickly with less work. The resulting hollow companies do not have the resilience to withstand competition, Colony says, but those that are built from traditional ingredients like blood, sweat and tears will be OK, while the hollow.coms get trashed. Humble pie will be the tucker for former dot com managers, while strong companies will get stronger (Colony includes Jay Walker, Jeff Bezos and Meg Whitman amongst the management winners). There's also some hope for traditional companies: they could replace hollow.coms that don't have the sticking power. It looks like the next good business is going to be mergers and acquisitions. ®
Graham Lea, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Scottish firm suffers eternal damnation for auction of popesfuneral.com

A Scottish start-up has angered the Church by trying to flog URL thepopesfuneral.com through its online auction site. Domain Hypermarket, a domain name auction house launched last week, has stuck a £15,000 price tag on the address on its domainhypermarket.com Web site. The Glasgow-based company is also asking £5,000 for thehousesofparliament.com, £10,000 for thepizzahut.com, and £50,000 for manunited.com – which has already attracted a bid. It has 2,300 URLs on its site, around 95 per cent of which it has registered itself, including easyautohire.com and easycars.net. The Roman Catholic Church slammed the attempt to sell thepopesfuneral.com as "callous and exploitative", the FT reports. Fr Kieran Conry of the Catholic Church of England and Wales said the Church did not want the URL and called for stricter controls of the Web. Martin Newman, founder and MD of Domain Hypermarket, said he never intended to offend anyone with any of the URLs sold on his site. "Obviously taste does come into it. But it's not any different to a newspaper having the obituary of the Pope or the Queen Mother ready and waiting," said Newman. Last month EasyGroup, owners of EasyJet and EasyRentacar, won a case against an individual trying to sell easyjet.net, and has vowed to "actively pursue" what it sees as cybersquatter "parasites" through the UN-backed World Intellectual Property Organisation. Stelios Haji-Ioannou, chairman of EasyGroup, said: "We will not tolerate anyone sitting on domain names that could be confused with EasyJet. The EasyJet name is among the company's most important assets and we will defend it rigorously against abuse." Newman said he was not a cybersquatter, having registered the easyautohire and easycars URLs in January and February this year – before EasyGroup started publicising its EasyRentacar business. "I will never buy a name and try and sell it to an organisation. I have plans to develop some of the addresses." ® Related stories Cybersquatter? Not me, says owner of greatdomainrobbery Banks.com auction kicks off with £600K bid Big bucks URL is the business(.com)
Linda Harrison, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

World+Dog barks at Nasdaq rout

Crash Register Before Nasdaq opened yesterday, we wrote about the panic that set in on the US markets last week, and openly wondered what the fuss was all about. So this morning, as promised, we are reprising our story with what actually happened when the markets opened. "CPQ Compaq's share price fell by $1.625 on Friday to close at $25. That means that we've nearly lost our bet with Terry Shannon of Shannon knows Compaq. We thought the shares would rise steadily steeply to coincide with the introduction of its Wildfire technology in May. It's still undervalued in our opinion." Compaq rose by over $2 to close at $26.5625. It's still undervalued. "AMD It didn't fare too badly in Friday's fallout, falling by $5 to close at $66. It's still doing considerably better than the $16 it bumbled along for months last year." AMD rose by $6.625 to close at $72.625. "INTC Intel fell by $10.625 to close at $110.5. Not bad, Chipzilla, not bad. Its Q results are out tomorrow and, let's face it, as the British Prime Minister Tony Blair says too much, it's a good long term bet. It's already said its going to be a building blocks Internet style firm, de-emphasising its microprocessor role. How can it lose in the long run?" Intel rose by $12.5 to close at $123. Its financials are released later on today. "RMBS Cough. Rambus fell to $156.25 on Friday, a drop of over $46. But it, more than many other tech stocks, fell steeply over the week. So will it reach $500 now, as Morgan Stanley forecast a week or two back. Not on your nellie." Special case Rambus rose by $4.6875 to close at $160.3125 "SUNW Sun Microsystems only closed slightly down at $76.5. But then it had posted a 94 profit boost on sales of its non-Intel servers the day before. It's selling oodles of them." Sun rose by $8.375 to close at $84.875. So there we have it. Forget these financial analysts and pundits, they're talking through their buttocks. You can always trust the Crash Register. Related Story World+Dog waits for Nasdaq opening
Mike Magee, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Hermit emerges to check on Register

In a show of reader empowerment (without you, we're nothing [small tear trickles down feathered cheek]), resident bad boy Mike Magee has persuaded loyal subject Hoodview to become co-moderator on our bulletin board. It's a case of care in the (Web) community and, of course, practicality - Hoodview (aka Hermit) actually reads the board more than we do. Settled high up in the hills of Hood River, Oregon, Mr R. Don Martin has consistently impressed Register readers through inventive use of sarcasm and irony and a general mischievousness. From now on, he will have the power to remove or alter abusive, blasphemous, racist, commercial or just plain stupid postings (hopefully having emailed them to us first). If successful, the position of Readers' Editor may even open up - that's right - wouldn't it be comforting to be told to piss off by an independent source instead of just one of us? Check out the Bulletin Board here. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Internet comes to an end

You thought it would never happen, but The Register now has confirmation that there is an end to the seemingly endless World Wide Web. Go here to see the very last page on the Internet. But a reader points out that this is a false ending, seeing as it even has a link out. Instead, he suggests the real end of the Internet can be found here. Over and out. ®
Adamson Rust, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Via-S3 deal won't solve Intel rift

The complex deal brokered between Via and S3 is unlikely to put an end to the legal wrangling kicked off by chip giant Intel last year. Sources close to S3 told The Register today that despite the extensive cross-licensing deals that exist between it an Intel, Via will not get respite despite its acquisition of the firm. The source said that the cross-licensing deals between S3 and Intel, which came about as a result of some wise buying of Exponential patents, were not part of the territory that Via has bought. While that will offer some relief to Intel, it means that we are set for a long hard battle through multiple courts across the world, delighting m'learned friends but probably leaving the rest of us bitter and twisted. ® Related Stories Via reckons it will triple revenues this year Via buys S3 chip biz for $323m-plus Intel: S3 had us by the goolies
Mike Magee, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Orange man talks crap

Hans Snook, boss of mobile phone outfit Orange, literally spills his guts in an extraordinary interview in UK broadsheet the Sunday Telegraph. The new, lightweight Snook extols the virtues of colonic irrigation, claiming that the simple expedient of having five gallons of purified water, mixed with vinegar and caffeine [sounds like the office coffee machine - Ed] pumped up one's bottom can dislodge up to 40 pounds of... er... crap. Snook had just returned from a two-week fasting holiday in Thailand, where he had his enlightening - or at the very least lightening - experience. "You massage your stomach, feel it gulping around inside you and when you can't hold it in anymore, you just let it out." Er, thanks for sharing that with us, Hans. Commenting on Orange's two takeovers in the last six months - the first by Mannesmann and the second by Vodafone when it snapped up the German company - Snook is obviously enjoying the irony of Orange now being owned by its largest UK mobile phone rival. "Vodafone has to support us financially," he says gleefully. "So we've been plotting, thinking about what we could buy that would cost billions of pounds." Dewy-eyed Dr Spinola adds: ICL, once the great white hope of the UK's computer industry, is now a mere shadow of its former self. A company once rightly lauded for technical innovation - sadly linked with rather less successful marketing - in the 70s and 80s, it has suffered the ignominy of takeovers by STC and Fujitsu and still carries the taint of being bailed out by government loan guarantees. But if we look at the people running some of the world's top companies, we will find a common denominator: BT's Sir Peter Bonfield, Vodafone's Chris Gent and Orange's Hans Snook all worked together at ICL in the mid-80s, before being lured away to the wonderful world of telecomms. The tantalising question raised here is what would have happened had these three extremely able (and personable) persons stuck in at ICL? ®
Andrew Thomas, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Microsoft creates new VPs, new job titles, new share options

Caring, sharing Microsoft is giving away shares, promoting folks left right and centre, and even inventing new job titles for people who don't want to be promoted. In a move reminiscent of a Moonie mass wedding, the Beast of Redmond has just created 30 new vice-presidents and handed them options on up to 200,000 shares - worth a cool $14.5 million even after the carnage on Wall Street over the last few days. And in a move redolent of Dilbert at his finest, the software behemoth is creating the new title of 'distinguished engineer' for employees who don't want to be promoted to management. This, unfortunately, creates a whole new sub-class of 'undistinguished engineers'. Top executives are also to be encouraged to take as much time off as necessary "to balance the needs of their work and families". The surprisingly generous moves come as a result of the shortage of graduates who are preferring to start their own dotcom operations rather than join an organisation whose image has been severely tarnished by the US government anti-trust action, linked with an accelerating rate of loss of senior staff over the last few years. ®
Andrew Thomas, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

STMicroelectronics sees profits leap in Q1

French chip maker STMicroelectronics saw first quarter profit more than double, thanks to demand for mobile phones, cars and computer modems. Pre-tax profit grew to $238.4 million for the three months ended April 1, 2000, from $105.1 million for the same period the previous year. Sales rose 53 per cent to $1.7 billion from $1.1 billion. "The accelerating market recovery combined with the strength of STMicroelectronics' product portfolio resulted in unprecedented demand in the period," said Pasquale Pistorio, CEO of the company. STMicroelectronics last month said it expected the chip market to grow by at least 25 per cent in 2000. ®
Linda Harrison, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Microsoft: World spins in wrong direction

Our planet has a problem and Microsoft is here to tell you all about it and to offer a fix to the glitch. According to the Microsoft support forum, here, the world is spinning in the wrong direction. The boffins at MS support have confirmed there is a problem. They say in a status report: "Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in Explorapedia, World of Nature, version 1.0. We are researching this problem and will post new information here in the Microsoft Knowledge Base as it becomes available." ®
The Register breaking news

Oftel calls for comment on UK's e-future

Oftel, the Winged Watchdog, and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) are to canvas the e-industry on the future of e-commerce and what can be done to promote its development. The exercise is in response to a government report, e-commerce@its.best.uk, and seeks to identify barriers to competition and what can be done to overcome them. The consultation document, Competition in e-commerce: a joint OFTEL and OFT study, sets out the way markets are likely to develop as a result and at how companies could evolve to take advantage of these new technologies. Commenting on the launch of the study Margaret Bloom, the OFT's director of Competition Policy, said: "We will take action where necessary to prevent anti-competitive behaviour whilst promoting innovation and competition in the e-commerce marketplace." Questions being asked include: "Will unmetered access prove popular and how will it change users' behaviour?", "What are your views on the role of OFT and Oftel in e-commerce markets?" and "Do you have views on whether the powers OFT and Oftel have to intervene are adequate?" Answers on an e-postcard to Barbara Powell, at the OFT or Oftel's Ilsa Godlovitch. Oh, and make sure they arrive by 12 June. ® Link The Competition in e-commerce: a joint OFTEL and OFT study consultation document can be found here.
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Northamber boss sues Rolls Royce

David Phillips, chairman of distributor Northamber, is suing Rolls Royce after the company hung his £200,000 Bentley on a wall for two weeks. Phillips was forced to send the green Continental back to the garage three times for a string of faults, including rattling panels, oil leaks, dodgy suspension and poor steering. Mechanics were unable to fix the car, but a dealer revealed to the Surrey computer boss that the real cause of the problems was that his beloved car had been hung vertically on a stand at the Birmingham Motor Show for a fortnight. Phillips is now suing Rolls Royce and the dealers for more than £50,000 damages. In a High Court writ he alleges that the hanging weakened the car, making it dangerous. According to the writ, the "problems from which the car suffered could be related to the fact it had been hung for some time vertically on a wall. The Bentley has been more trouble than it was worth." Rolls Royce told The Register it was aware of Phillips' complaint, but was unable to comment further for legal reasons. "Customer satisfaction is our ultimate priority, and we resolve each matter on an individual basis," one representative added. ® Related stories Northamber profit squishes Y2K bug Northamber pins price erosion on Intel
Linda Harrison, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

UK Linux show host denies Debian stand space

British Linux users have slammed IT Events, organiser of the UK's upcoming Linux Expo 2000 show, for refusing to allow Debian to exhibit at the show, despite claiming that the exhibition represents all the major Linux distributions. "Linux Expo 2000 claims to have all the major players - without Debian, it doesn't," said one UK Linux supporter in an email to The Register. "It seems a pity that IT Events should be so out of tune with the whole nature of Linux and free software that it should take such a mean attitude." And that's certainly the way it looks. IT Events' problem with Debian is that it won't cough up for a stand. Hardly surprising, since Debian is a non-profit voluntary organisation. From IT Events' perspective, however, no dough means no show. IT Events is, after all, a commercial organisation, and the idea of giving away valuable stand space goes very much against the grain. Indeed, there are few, if any, show organisers who would take a different attitude. Some Linux proponents have also criticised IT Events for charging more for stand space this year, which is also freezing out small Linux companies. That's fair enough, since these are themselves businesses - the issue here is really IT Events' attitude to non-profit organisations. While Debian did make an appearance at last year's show, that was simply because an unnamed exhibitor pulled out at the last minute and, under the terms of its contract, it had to pay for the stand in any case. That handily provided a space for Debian, which would not have got in otherwise. "That was a very pleasant surprise for us," Debian leader Wichert Akkerman told The Register. "The Debian booth last year was one of the most popular booths... however, unless something changed since last week, we aren't exhibiting and no stand has been donated." IT Events' Jonathon Heastie, the organiser of Linux Expo 2000, confirmed that so far, no stand space was available for Debian, and that this did to a degree sit at odds with the company's claim that the show would feature all the major Linux distributions. However, unless there's a repeat of last year's scenario, Debian isn't likely to have much luck. "We can't give stands away for free, because then everyone will want one," Heastie told The Register. For a company that has primarily focused its efforts on the highly commercial Windows NT market, that attitude isn't surprising. IT Events' management, however, has yet to figure that the Linux world, with its mix of commercial and non-profit work, is very different - something that Heastie tacitly admitted himself. "I'm having a meeting today [with IT Events' management] to discuss this issue," he said. Heastie also held out the prospect that new approaches will be found to provide space for Linux's non-profit organisations next year. That, however, may come too late for Linux users fed up with what seems like corporate confusion or - worse - indifference to the spirit of community so central to the open source world. ® The Register is a Debian user. Linux Expo 2000 takes place on 1 and 2 June at London's Olympia.
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

FBI admits loss of ‘top secret’ laptop

The FBI is frantically hunting for a lost laptop containing top-secret (X?) files. The computer went missing from a conference room in the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research two months ago. The FBI still hasn't found the culprits responsible or recovered the machine, and yesterday said it had launched an investigation into the loss. Its search for possible suspects includes contractors employed to renovate the area, The Washington Post reported. An internal audit last year apparently found the Department allowed visitors, contractors and maintenance workers to roam the building unescorted. The missing laptop is believed to contain code-word data - a classification higher than top secret. Representative Benjamin Gilman (Republican, New York), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said he would hold hearings next month on allegations of lax security. "The missing laptop is the latest in a long string of security failures at the State Department," he said. "It is obvious that the Department lacks a professional environment that is sensitive to security concerns." Bureau officials speculated publicly that the thief may have taken the machine for its hardware value, and may not have been aware of its sensitive data contents. Of course he certainly is now. Earlier this month a machine was nicked from a top UK Army officer while he was queuing at Heathrow airport, with agents from both MI5 and MI6 suffering similar fates in March. ® Related stories Sneak thief steals secrets in MI5 laptop Second spy loses laptop Third secret-packed official notebook nicked
Linda Harrison, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

The eyes have IT

Remember the halcyon days before Wap and b2b, when people used the low setup cost of the internet to sell the same goods cheaper? Well, for a limited time only, they're back. Launching under the auspices of rip-off Britain, 2eyes.co.uk says it will undercut any contact lens seller in Britain and match any promotional prices, producing savings of up to £70 a year for lens wearers. High street opticians are ripping off consumers through gross margins of 70 per cent, says Peter Williams, co-founder and MD of the site. By buying direct from manufacturers and working on lower margins, Peter reckons he can have the same success as in the US where 15 to 20 per cent of the market is online sales. The idea came when he set up a postal service for Dolland & Aitchinson - one of Britain's leading opticians - and saw the profit involved. The site sells a wide range of lenses from daily to monthly. Simply input your prescription and 2eyes claims it will have them to you within five days. Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before - everything's rosy until the retailers gently persuade the manufacturers that it would be better not to sell to the offending party. Peter isn't worried: "We went to all the main manufacturers and told them what we planned to do. Some said right out that they wouldn't supply us, so we made sure we could get their lenses from elsewhere." Can he forsee any problems? "No." Fair enough, but we're a little concerned that under UK legislation, as we understand it, contact lens suppliers are responsible for the eye-health of their customers, which isn't the case with specs. Call us picky, but flogging contact lens via the Web doesn't quite get to the heart of that responsibility, it seems to us. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

WH Smith fined for software theft

WH Smith Online has been fined around £4000 for using pirated software on its computer network. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) stamped on the Web arm of the retailer giant after getting an email tip-off from an unrevealed source earlier this year. An investigation revealed the company had been using unlicensed software on its internal network for Corel and Symantec products. According to WH Smith Online, the embarrassing incident occurred due to the service's rapid expansion. "Due to the growth of the site, and the number of internal users coming on, there wasn't an adequate auditing procedure in place," a WH Smith Online representative said. Certain pieces of software had been paid for, but there were more users than the company had originally registered for. "This was brought to our attention by the BSA. We paid the fine and a new auditing procedure has been brought in," she added. WH Smith Online said it had been fined just under £4000. The individual who grassed to the BSA will get ten per cent of this amount. Mike Newton, campaign relations manager for BSA UK, said: "It's disappointing that WH Smith Online has allowed its on-line service to fail its own internal processes. We are hoping that this settlement will be taken as an example of the damage that Internet companies face if they don't take software management seriously. "Quite apart from it being bad practice, using software without a licence leaves you vulnerable to fines which businesses can ill afford." ® Related Stories Pirates named and shamed on Web BSA declares UK piracy truce
Linda Harrison, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

GW Bush parody Web site escapes FEC axe

The US Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has declined to act on a complaint from election team-mates of Texas Governor and White House hopeful George W. Bush which claimed that the operator of a parody Web site called gwbush.com was in fact campaigning and should therefore be subject to the Commission's plethora of bureaucratic obstacles and interference just as they are. The Commission rejected the complaint Friday on grounds that the matter was too unimportant to warrant its attention. Perhaps the Commissioners, like most Americans, were glued to CNN Market Watch on Friday, preoccupied with graver thoughts such as murdering their brokers. The Bush complaint argued that Webmaster Zack Exley was campaigning and should be brought to heel in compliance with election regulations. Team Bush thought Exley should be required to post a disclaimer identifying the site's origin, to file with the FEC as a political action committee, and to disclose the amount of money spent maintaining the site. Campaign spokesman Scott McClellan said Team Bush had not condescended to pay further attention to Exley or his site since filing the complaint last May. "We just hope people will use good judgment and common sense," McClellan said. "If you look at all the Web sites, you'll see that free speech is alive and well in America, and Governor Bush has a very thick skin." That's odd; we always thought he was a peevish, puling, vindictive political parasite, but perhaps now with the defeat of opponent John McCain, the distinction between a hero and patriot who patiently endured years of torture in a North Vietnamese gaol and a smirking overgrown boy has grown somewhat less apparent. Indeed, Team Bush originally cried foul so loudly over the parody site that they were single-handedly responsible for publicising it to the rude masses, who now, with delicious irony, visit in droves. ®
Thomas C Greene, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

i-don't believe it! Council kiosks to change the world

[SCENE: In government minister's (GM) chauffeur-driven Jag, 9.25am. Also in car, Secretary (S) and Press Representative (PR)] S: Okay, we've a busy day. Two trade shows, lunch with captain of industry, back to the House, photo-call with Jeremy Irons, select committee hearing. GM: What's the first trade show? S: It's at the Business Design Centre. Some kind of outdoor kiosk which tells you what the local council's telephone number is. GM: What's the point in that? S: I've no idea. Apparently... PR: If I could just interject. This is not just a kiosk, it is a solution. It brings government closer to the people - greater accountability in a digital democracy - what New Labour is all about. GM: How much closer? PR: Well, these information portals will be located in high streets all over the UK, giving free and instant information on matters which your ordinary Joe will want to know about, but have been difficult to find out before. GM: So, they won't just be in London? PR: Oh no. GM: Do they have them in Wigan? PR: Not yet. GM: Huddersfield? PR: I don't think there are any current plans... GM: Where then? S: It says here that they're all located in London. PR: Yes, that's right. S: All six of them. PR: Yes. GM: I don't... PR: But what we must remember is that this is but a small brick in the fast-moving construction of Britain as e-capital of the world. S: Who says? PR: Tony. S: Oh. GM: So how long have these things been on the street? PR: Since July last year, but now we have added free email and council information. You can also buy tickets and things over the Internet. GM: And have people picked up on them? PR: They've been phenomenally successful. GM: Really? S: Of course. It's a bloody miracle anyone found them in the first place. GM: Can I buy books from Amazon on it? PR: No, not Amazon, only sites that the company choses. GM: What company? PR:Cityspace - the kiosk er... information portal builders. GM: And how do they decide? PR: A wide range of criteria. Ultimately, the most cost-effective and efficient candidate that... S: Whoever pays them the most? PR: No and that cynical attitude is not what we need. Look! This a cultural leap which puts us in the forefront of the e-revolution. There's to be a large roll-out but we just can't confirm when or how many. This is just a further example of how councils and the government are meeting their promise to involve the whole of society in the riches of the internet era. [Jaguar arrives outside business centre. Minister enters and faces press next to one of the kiosks] GM: This i-plus portal represents a cultural leap for the UK. In the short time they have been available for ordinary citizens to use, they have been phenomenally successful, so successful in fact that the government has decided to roll them out across the whole country... [fade to grey]
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Oftel backs Worldcom BT Surftime complaints

Oftel has slapped BT for failing to be competitive. The monster telco felt the back of the winged watchdog's paw today after it appeared to uphold a complaint by MCI Worldcom that BT's SurfTime proposals failed to offer other operators the opportunity of providing their own wholesale flat rate unmetered Net access service. MCI Worldcom did try to appeal to BT's better nature and negotiate with the monster telco but was turned down on December 15 last year. Not content with being fobbed off, MCI Worldcom then complained to the regulator on Christmas Eve. So much for the season of goodwill. The ruling today is only a draft direction and will not be finalised until June 1. However, it suggests that the winged watchdog is not happy. A spokeswoman for the winged watchdog said: "We are concerned by the MCI Worldcom complaint and are keen that an appropriate wholesale product is available." A spokesman for MCI Worldcom said: "We wanted BT to give us the option of launching a wholesale flat rate Internet access service "All we wanted was competition -- Oftel's ruling is in our favour," he said. A spokeswoman for BT said the telco is looking into the matter and will respond to Oftel in due course. Launched in December and relaunched a number of times since, BT SurfTime is a wholesale product made available to ISPs by BT enabling them to offer their customers unmetered access to the Net. Allegedly. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Whistler wafts past MS security onto the Web

Whistler, Microsoft's next major consumer operating system, aka Windows 2001, has been leaked onto the Net - again. It's a month since it last happened, and according to the guys over at ActiveWin, the latest release is a more up-to-date version of the OS. For its part, Microsoft claimed it doesn't yet know whether that's the case, but that it's continuing its investigation into the previous leak. The latest leaked Whistler internal release is Build 2223, says ActiveWin. The previous leak was Build 2211.1. "This [release shows] that the operating is as expected moving ahead with the beginnings (Very early beginnings) of a newer Graphic User Interface and many UI enhancements are coming into the fray," says ActiveWin. ® Related Stories Allchin admits Win2001 code leak after Web slagfest MS code leak 'ships' Win 2001 a year early
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

PlayStation 2 export limit lifted

Japan's Ministry of Trade has decided that you can't use Sony PlayStation 2s to build missile guidance systems and the console is nothing more than "a general-purpose product" after all. Surprise, surprise. Originally, MITI had placed a restriction on the console limiting individuals from taking more than two PlayStation 2s out of the country. But according to Japan's Kyodo news service, the organisation has now relaxed the rule. Which, of course, isn't really what Sony wanted to hear. Limiting exports increases the anticipation among console fans in Europe and the US for the console's official launch in these territories in the autumn. However, grey importers will be pleased they're supply line of highly lucrative consoles will not now dry up. Call us cynical - go on, we don't mind - but we're still sure the furore was all just a clever marketing scam on Sony's part, designed to make the PlayStation 2 appear even more ridiculously powerful than it actually is. Certainly, the original restrictions, contrary to almost all press reports, would have had no material impact on Sony since the US and European consoles will almost certainly ship from a variety of manufactories around the Far East, just like all the rest of Sony's consumer electronics kit. ® Related Stories PlayStation 2 exports to be restricted - again Unauthorised PlayStation 2 exports illegal
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

AMD takes axe to Athlon prices

Updated As predicted here, AMD will slash the prices of its Athlon microprocessor on 24 April, further applying pressure on Intel's margins. The cuts are a prelude to AMD's introduction of its Spitfire and Thunderbird microprocessors, now expected in June. Prices to PC manufacturers will be as follows. The 650MHz Athlon will cost $170, the 700MHz $197, the 750MHz $250, the 800MHz $330, the 850MHz $430 and the 900MHz $595. These prices are for quantities of 1000. We also now have details of distributor dealing pricing. The 600MHz Athlon will be $162, the 700 $190, the 750 $244, the 800 $324, the 850MHz Athlon $433, the 900MHz $595, and the $950, and the 1000MHz, $1044. For boxed versions with three year guarantees, add another $15 or so, more for the higher specced parts because of more expensive heatsinks. Our information is now that that 600 is at the end of its life, which is why it and 650 are the same price. Further, although Thunderbird is now ready, AMD will delay the Spitfire to coincide with the release of Thunderbird, with the date, now, probably June. This is a chicken and egg situation, as far as we can judge, with AMD now trying to synchronise the launches of both. The pricing of AMD's 700MHz Athlon is particularly interesting, because the firm is positioning it against Intel Celeron microprocessors. These Intel processors are, effectively, cut-down versions of Coppermine chips. But, as we noted several days back, Intel has shortages of Coppermine processors, with many of its customers being told that availability will be patchy, at best, until June or July. It now seems that the giant at the top of the beanstalk is in danger of Jack stealing the goose that lays the golden eggs. ®
Mike Magee, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

US-UK broadband trade war threat recedes

Britain and the US aren't about to enter a bloody trade war over policies designed to bar foreign companies from competing in Britain's fledgling broadband Internet market. In true "peace in our time" style, The Register has won the assurance from a spokesman at the US Trade Representative (USTR) that the earliest it would lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would be spring 2001. By then, of course, it would hardly be worth doing since local loop unbundling (LLU) would only be a matter of months away. The threat of a trade war reared its ugly head yesterday following a report by Communications Week International which said that the Office of the USTR was considering lodging a complaint against Britain over access to BT's local network for third-party ADSL service providers. The story quoted a report published earlier this month, which said the USTR was to review UK actions to open its market to competitive suppliers of Digital Subscriber Lines. Ambassador Barshefsky of the USTR said: "We welcome the proposal of the European Commission that all EU Member State regulators require unbundling and line sharing for competitive entry of DSL service. "We call upon the United Kingdom to implement this recommendation immediately, consistent with its WTO commitment to allow reasonable and non-discriminatory access to BT's networks for suppliers of all telecommunications services." The USTR was reacting to a complaint from US-based broadband outfit, Covad Corporation, which alleged the current situation regarding ULL granted BT an "effective monopoly on the supply of ADSL service until July 1, 2001". Covad alleged that this was in violation of Britain's market access and national treatment commitments and was inconsistent with the Britain's obligations under WTO membership. In effect, it claimed the current rollout timetable would give the monster telco a year's head start in installing ADSL equipment compared to its competitors. A spokesman for the USTR told The Register today that no complaint had been lodged and that none was imminent. "This is a shot across the bow," he said. The USTR will assess the progress of local loop unbundling in Britain and make further recommendations in April 2001, when it next publishes its annual review of telecommunications trade agreements. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

RealSoftware upgrades MacOS ‘Visual Basic’ tool

Real Software has just begun shipping version 2.1 of RealBasic, its MacOS-based visual programming system. The update brings improvements to RealBasic's database access tools and its Windows-oriented compiler, which now supports QuickTime, drag and drop, sprite animation, floating windows, contextual menus and more features so far only available to MacOS applications. The company says that compiled applications - on either platform - will run up to 30 per cent faster, and are more stable. RealSoftware has also added numerous interface improvements and enhancements to RealBasic itself. We don't mind saying that RealBasic is The Register's (or at least those of us interested in such things) favourite MacOS development tool. This VisualBasic-compatible system - almost all of it developed by one guy, Andrew Barry - is pretty damn impressive, allowing coders to create apps as powerful as anything that a knowledge of C and the MacOS Toolbox lets them build. Even better, there are no run-time licensing fees. RealBasic 2.1 is available now for $349.95 (Professional - provides the Win32 compiler and database tools) or $149.95 (Standard). The upgrade is free to existing RealBasic 2.0 users. ® Link RealBasic Web site
Tony Smith, 18 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel recalls dodgy Cape Cod mobos

Intel has confirmed to The Register that all its jinxed CC820 motherboards are now being recalled for 'reworking'. A hardware modification was identified at the end of last month that seems to fix a tendency for the mobo to hang or fail to boot. As we predicted here earlier this week, a product recall is now in progress. Chipzilla has also confirmed that a new stepping of the Memory Translator Hub (MTH) is being worked on which will restore some of the performance lost in allowing cheaper SDRAM to be used with the i820 chipset originally designed solely for the much more expensive Rambus memory. ®
Andrew Thomas, 18 Apr 2000