20th > April > 2000 Archive

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British women are the new Net nerds

British women are the new Net nerds, a Government survey claims. No longer is the typical online surfer a mid-twenties male, who can't get a girlfriend and still lives with his parents. It seems that in the next six months, women aged 25 to 40 will account for six out of ten new Web users in the UK. Females made up 40 per cent of those who started on the Web in the past three months, according to a report by Department of Trade and Industry's forecasting agency Foresight. By the end of 2000 there are expected to be 7.6 million British women regularly logging on – 50 per cent of users. And this invasion of the Net is due to unleash the power of female cyberspending. The profile of the average British Internet shopper – a home counties man aged 34 from social class ABC1 – is due to be replaced by women from all social groups. Online businesses should take heed, as they will cash in big time if they target more products at women, Foresight said. Last year, research by women.com revealed seventy per cent of women interviewed said they loved the Net so much that they couldn't imagine life without it. ® Most recognised Web sites among women: Amazon.com Egg.co.uk Handbag.com Smile.co.uk Lastminute.com Letsbuyit.com Monster.co.uk Zoom.co.uk Readytoshop.com Bol.com Boo.com Charlottestreet.com Beme.com Qxl.com Icircle.com Related stories Women to dominate the Net Is the Web full of female impersonators?
The Register breaking news

Compaq readies users for the nuthouse

An otherwise dismal and bleak presentation of Microsoft's Pocket PC - which it appears to believe is the answer to the Palm - was lightened by three incidents at Leicester Square club Home last night. Several key IT hacks, including venerable and venerated fellows from PC Magazine UK, were shunted into a dark alcove where they were treated to a presentation on a broken wide screen while simultaneously being frozen by rather high powered air conditioning. A lass from the BBC got so bored with the endless presentations that she called her mate on the other side of the vast acreage and started chatting and waving to her simultaneously. And then Compaq's presentation of its device started. This comes in three flavours, all described as "jackets", but the best jacket is the vanilla flavoured one called, believe it or not, the Straight Jacket. So when you walk into your local retailer, just make sure that you're talking into your handfree mobile phone as you ask the representative: "Could I have a straitjacket please?". ®
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Trident, Via settle legal disputes

Chipset firm Via said it has come to an agreement over all and any pending lawsuits between itself and Trident Microsystems. Via will dish out over $10 million to Trident for desktop driver licence fees, and in return, the latter will drop pending lawsuits in both the US and in Taiwan. But, and there is a but, in a strange sentence in the company statement, Via says these are not "in complete control of Trident and Via" (sic). The CEOs of both Trident and Via seemed ecstatic about the settlement, with Gerry Liu describing it as "re-affirming our commitment to the mutual customers". Wen-Chi Chen, Via's president, agreed entirely. ®
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Price of Rambus RIMMs drops shock

Kingston Technology, purveyor of memory modules, said today that it has dropped the price of some of its Rambus RIMMs by as much as 68 per cent. The average amount of the drop is 35 per cent, Kingston said, and a representative from the firm said that the reason was greater availability and shorter lead times for RIMMs. This will be great news for those who wish to use Rambus memory on their 820 motherboards but will be bad news for people who have just bought RIMMs before the price dropped by 68 per cent. A representative claimed that system OEMs, including Dell, Compaq, IBM and HP, are introducing "many new products" which support Rambus memory. Late last year, one of the co-chairmen of Kingston said yields of Rambus RIMMs were low. But in February, at the Intel Developer Forum, Rambus employees claimed they were doing everything possible -- short of scrapping their royalty fees from sales of the memory -- to reduce prices. ®
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Micron readies DDR memory salvo

Micron, a major worldwide manufacturer of memory, said today that it will demo three platforms using double data rate (DDR) memory at WinHec 2000 in New Orleans next week. The products it will show include a dual processor platform. Although Micron does not say this is better than Rambus, it does point to benchmarks conducted by market research firm Inquest, which it claims shows that it exceeds "other leading edge systems in a majority of comparisons". The other leading edge system is Rambus. Micron will also show a dual processor dual controller platform aimed at the workstation and server markets, as well as a uniprocessor system. The three platforms all use Micron's Samurai technology, and will run 266MHz memory modules and use a 133MHz front side bus. Micron claims it developed the solutions because the DRAM market is segmenting and the technology is becoming more complex. They are reference platforms, the firm said. The products are intended to show the performance delta that DDR memory offers, Micron added. ®
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We're Intel. We make muthaboards™

Welcome to Intel ® technical support. Here is a genuine post: Hello Peter Thank you for your post. There is no recall on the Intel® CC820 desktop board. -- Regards John S. MCSE, A+ Intel Technical Support Hey! This guy got an A+ in his Microsoft exams! That means he must know everything there is to know about hardware (even if he obviously has a few lessons still to learn in modesty). and here is a suggested reply: Hello John S. Thankyou for your reply. Why the hell isn't there a recall on the Intel® CC820 desktop board? The vast majority of posts on this forum relate to poor – or non – performance of the CC820. It cannot work with certain types of memory; it requires the few memory modules it does support to be inserted in a strange and eldritch manner; it cannot provide adequate voltage to the AGP slot; serial port B fails for unspecified reasons; PS/2 mice lock up; there are problems with the BIOS error log; there is an Intel recognised modification to the power going to the DIMM sockets which Intel refuses to fix under warranty; poor performance of the MTH means that PC133 SDRAM performs worse than PC100 SDRAM in a BX440 muthaboard; etc etc etc Regards Andrew T. GCE Woodwork, grade 4 Register Bullshit Detection Department Why not visit Intel Support and tell John S what you think? ®
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Apple Q2 profits jump 72 per cent

Apple yesterday announced a near doubling in its second quarter profits, jumping from $135 million last year to $233 million this time round. That said, Apple once again padded out its results with an exceptional item - if something that's been a consistent feature of the company's last half-dozen or so quarters can be called a 'one-off' - sale of $73 million worth of ARM shares (1.5 million of them). That takes the profit made actually selling goods and services - Apple's business, after all - $160 million. Apple ended the quarter with 9.4 million ARM shares, so this is a revenue stream the company can mine for some time to come. But allowing for the $42 million worth of ARM shares Apple flogged off during Q2 1999, that still leaves Apple's profit up some 72 per cent on the previous year's quarter. Earnings are 128 cents per share before the ARM sale, 88 cents a share afterwards, both higher than First Call's Wall Street consensus of 81 cents per share. During Q1 2000, Apple made profits of $178 million, after exceptional items, so the traditional post-Christmas weaker sales period hasn't been that weak - the fall is just 11 per cent. Revenues for the quarter reached $1.94 billion, an increase of 27 per cent on the same period last year. Gross margins were 28.2 per cent, up from 26.3 per cent. During the three-month period, Apple shifted some 1.043 million units, of which 43 per cent were professional Power Mac and PowerBooks and the rest the consumer-oriented iMac and iBook lines. By territory, sales were up 16 per cent in the Americas, 56 per cent in Europe, 13 per cent in Asia Pacific and 12 per cent in Japan. Speaking at an analysts conference, CFO Fred Anderson said the company is looking for continued growth year-on-year throughout the rest of 2000. Operating expenses are expected to rise during the current, third quarter, but that should be balanced by further margin growth, he said. He also pointed out that the company made investments of $224 million during the quarter, much of which was due to its deal with ISP EarthLink. Anderson said that the EarthLink tie-in should now net upwards of $35 million for the full fiscal year rather than the $25 million originally foreseen. "Apple finished the quarter with $3.6 billion in cash and short-term investments," Anderson added. ®
The Register breaking news

Mugabe mocked on Zimbabwe embassy Web site

Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, may use fear and violence as the crude tools of authority to "rule" his country in crisis, but he obviously doesn't scare everyone. Proof of this can be seen at the Web site of the Zimbabwe Embassy in Washington DC where the guest book is brim-full of anti-Mugabe rhetoric. In fact, there's even one posting from a Mr R Mugabe, which reads: "God is dead. Long live Bob. I'm getting tired of listening to all you black and white peasants arguing out there. Just shut up, get on with your work, and keep my money flowing in. I've got a swimming pool here if you give me any trouble. Remember my brother, brothers? Now keep quiet, and get back to work, cos I've got to count my diamonds. R. Mugabe My Hotel, Switzerland." That was posted at the end of last month - and there haven't been many since. No doubt the embassy's Webmaster is so busy handling enquiries from tourists eager to visit the country he hasn't had time to check the site. Oh dear. ®
The Register breaking news

ZDNet buys LinuxDevices.com

ZDNet has bought LinuxDevices.com for an undisclosed sum, but probably for less than finding enough knowledgeable, authorititive journalists to cover the embedded OS patch itself. In the press statement announcing the deal, Dan Rosenweig, ZDNet's president and CEO, makes a nod in the direction of editorial content - "Rick Lerbaum has created a killer site" - before getting down to the serious business of talking commerce. LinuxDevices.com's sponsor list "reads like a 'who's who' of the embedded Linux market," Rosenweig says. "We're excited about the dual benefits of this acquisition: providing our millions of workplace visitors with access to this top-notch resource, and taking advantage of the opportunity to build deeper relationships with LinuxDevices.com's sponsors." We suspect that ZDNet will mop up a few more Linux sites (32-Bits Online, anyone?). As ever, money, not community, talks. ®
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Dotcom Cinderellas can't go to the Ball

Dotcom Cinderellas are mothballing their glad rags today after the organisers behind a sparkling evening out decided to cancel the e-industry celebration. According to the Guardian, the organisers of the Netshake Awards (nauseatingly described as the "'Oscars' for Britain's Net industry") decided to boot the ball and awards ceremony into touch because of the sorry state of e-share prices. Apparently, it didn't seem right that that the e-gods and e-goddesses of the e-industry should be whooping it up when thousands of small investors were staring poverty in the face after losing an e-packet in dotcommode companies. Organisers have pledged to refund the ticket money for the ball, due to be held at the Natural History Museum next month, which cost £165 a throw. Bearing all this in mind, isn't it interesting that when The Register contacted the Netshake Awards ticket hotline the sales rep was perfectly happy and prepared to sell us a ticket - or ten. No one from Netshake was available for comment. ® Links Netshake
The Register breaking news

Those computer games awards in full

We are proud to finally disclose the winners of last night's computer games Oscars in London (we had too many individual emails asking for the results, so we're posting them). A quick note about the delay between event and this posting, however - it's not our fault. Four phone calls to five people and two emails to different companies, and we were still non-the-wiser until five minutes ago. While this makes a nice change from having PR rubbish shoved down our throats, we suspect the breakdown in communication is a combination of cracking hangovers and Easter weekend (the press notice was even written in the future tense). The Register advises: Nurofen, Zantac, coffee and pancakes. Here they are - the more you sell the more you win awards Platinum Award (300,000+ units) Gran Turismo 2 (Sony, PlayStation) FIFA 2000 (Electronic Arts, PlayStation) Gold Awards (200,000+ units) James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (MGM/Electronic Arts, PlayStation) Tomb Raider 4 - The Last Revelation (Eidos, PlayStation) Pokemon Red (Nintendo, Gameboy) Pokemon Blue (Nintendo, Gameboy) Silver Awards (100,000+ units) Final Fantasy VIII (Squaresoft, PlayStation) Star Wards EP1: Phantom Menace (Lucasarts, PlayStation) Dino Crisis (Virgin, PlayStation) LMA Manager (Code Masters, PlayStation) Crash Team Racing (Sony, PlayStation) Championship Manager: Season 99/00 (Eidos, CD-Rom) Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (Microsoft, CD-Rom) Spyro the Dragon 2 (Sony, PlayStation) Medal of Honour (Dreamworks/EA, PlayStation) Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Eidos, PlayStation)
The Register breaking news

Access all areas: DVD chipping torpedos Hollywood

Up to 70 per cent of DVD players sold in Europe are 'chipped', making a mockery of industry attempts to control the market through hardware-embedded copyright restrictions. And by the next year, multi-region DVD players made in China and retailing for under £100, will be widely available, Jim Bottoms, of Understandings and Solutions, told delegates at this week's DVD Summit. Convergence was the buzzword at the conference, held in Dublin and now in its third year. But integration of DVD-dependent technologies into a single DEB (digital entertainment box) is still some way off. Today, divergence is the reality, with the issue of regional encoding for DVDs a particularly thorny subject so far as European consumers are concerned. They have no intention of buying into constrained hardware or waiting for movie releases scheduled on a zone-by-zone basis. Chipped players are single-region DVD players that have been modified to play all regions. The term 'chipped' is becoming common parlance among European consumers and resellers alike. And what do the punters play on their DVDs? Software intended for the American market, it seems. Giving a breakdown of DVD production figures for 1999, Bottoms concluded: "If there were less than five, maybe eight million [Region 1] discs shipped to the West European market, we'd be very surprised". On the floor, the general view was that regional coding would just go away, with many DVD producers currently opting for an all-region policy. The debate on this issue squarely blamed Hollywood for the fiasco that now prevails in Europe, such that imports of US DVD Region 1 releases are making up a significant total of overall sales. DVD: Access all areas Another example of the US-Europe divide became evident whenever the Internet and its role with the connected DVD was discussed. US on-line experience is vastly different to that in Europe. Unlike America households, most home users in Europe will be using a 56Kbps modem for their interactive entertainment and this won't be "always on". Hence, DVD's interaction with the Internet - to unlock additional content stored on the ROM segment (rather than the movie portion) of the disc - is a significant method of delivering added-value without the need for colossal downloads. (Encryption developer SpinWare mentioned file downloads of just 10KB to unlock additional files stored on DVD discs via the Internet.) With this material already on disc it's as good as instant gratification. This kind of approach to enhancing DVD content was described by one delegate as the three Ts: transaction, transaction, transaction. Indeed, it was perhaps the biggest deal for virtually all attending, but as Bob Auger MD, Electric Switch, pointed out, there isn't a unified face for the connected DVD. Consumer electronics manufacturers making the DVD video players are sorting out the problems and will help you to make a compatible disc - follow the rules and your disc will play, However, the DVD-ROM experience is quite different, thanks to the PC manufacturers. One distributor told Auger it would not distribute DVD-ROM product unless it could be guaranteed to work on at least 70 per cent of the target platforms out there. Auger said: "We spent a lot of our time talking to the people who are noticeable by their absence at this conference. Where are the computer manufacturers? Where is Dell and Gateway for example, and Compaq who have a major presence here in Ireland (lest we forget Apple too). They are not here. Where are the distributors? Where are the e-tailers and retailers? They are not here? We have to produce product which has to work on those machines. "We're not going to be able to do that if we haven't got a secure and solid platform to play back on. Until such time as we can get the other members of this team", PC manufacturers notably, (and web developers) to come together and present a unified face, we are not going to have a solution that consumers demand. The demand from our customers cannot be fulfilled, because we certainly can't guarantee that any one of these connected DVDs is going to play on 70 percent of the target platform." Reminding the audience that DVD is far more than movies on disc, keynote speaker George Welles, president of Imaging Futures, noted competition to DVD in the form of high speed hard drives, PVRs (personal video recorders), digital recorders and ubiquitous streaming content from broadband networks delivering to the home. Hopefully, the PC manufacturers will make the connection before it's too late or the connected DVD may end up playing a re-run of CD-ROM's turbulent history. ®
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Motorola to take over Scottish Hyundai fab

Motorola is buying and re-equipping Hyundai's fab in Dunfermline, Scotland in a production expansion project that will cost the company around £1.3 billion over the next five years. The Dunfermline plant will eventually employ 1350 people, Motorola said, adding to the 6500 staff it already employs at its three Scottish plants in East Kilbride, South Queensferry and Easter Inch. And the reason for Motorola's largesse? The massively expanding cellphone market. The 100,000 square metre plant will churn out chips for the mobile comms business. "The new facility will allow Motorola to help meet strong current, and anticipated future, market demand," the company said. Motorola still needs to dot the Ts and cross the Is on its contract with Hyundai, but we assume it's takeover of the Dunfermline fab is pretty much a done deal - otherwise its self-congratulatory 'look how much money we're chucking a Scotland' press release might prove something of an embarrassment, though we hope, for the sake of those 1350 folk, it doesn't. ®
The Register breaking news

ATI Rage 6 info ‘leaked’

Updated As predicted, ATI will unveil the chip codenamed Rage 6 on Monday, and thanks to a stage-managed 'leak' to Reuters, we know a little bit more about it now. According to ATI, Rage 6 will feature 30 million transistors and be "twice as complex" as a Pentium III. It can churn out 30 million triangles per second, the company claimed. It will begin shipping in the summer. Our own ATI moles suggest it's also a 256-bit chip, though since that's what Nvidia and S3-Via are offering, perhaps that's a little obvious. ATI has already unveiled the chip's Charisma Engine transform and lighting system, and its Pixel Tapestry Architecture. Rage 6 is likely to sport other, multimedia-oriented features too - according to company chairman K Y Ho, "we expect this chip to not only help us further grow our market share and also grow into the other market segment", and that suggests a broader functionality than the usual 3D acceleration stuff. And the name of this new processor? It's not in the Reuters story, but working from domain names ATI began registering earlier this month, we reckon the company could be looking at 'Radeon' for the new chip's moniker. And since it's almost certainly a 256-bit chip, how about the Radeon 256? ® Related Story ATI to unveil Rage 6 on 24 April...
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Jenkins Web site protests killer's innocence

Sion Jenkins, the deputy headmaster found guilty of murdering his foster daughter has set up a Web site claiming a miscarriage of justice. Jenkins was jailed for life in July 1998 for battering 13-year-old Billie-Jo to death with a tent peg. His prosecution rested mainly on the discovery of 150 "invisible" blood spots on his clothing. Jenkins' erratic behaviour that day and several weak "revelations" about his character that appeared during the trial helped convince the jury that he had murdered Billie-Jo and then taken his daughters out shopping in an attempt to produce an alibi. The site itself is surprisingly honest and comprehensive. The prosecution's arguments are spelt out and bias is relatively constrained. The background behind the case is factual and the site is helpfully split into sections. Whether or not Sion Jenkins is guilty of murdering his step-daughter, the site does raise some interesting questions (the case has also been the subject of Channel 4's Trial and Error investigative programme). To The Register's mind, this is exactly the kind of use that the Internet ought to be put to - who, for example, would ever have access to this information if it weren't on the Web? If Jenkins is guilty of the crime, no number of Web sites is going to help him get out. If on the other hand he is innocent, this fits in with the old philosophy of the Net acting as an empowerer of the common people (remember those idealistic times before big business assumed control?). ® Link Justice for Jenkins
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ISP tells miffed subscribers to shop elsewhere

Screaming.net subscribers should stop whinging about the ISP's move to 24/7 unmetered access - if they don't like it, there's nothing stopping them from going elsewhere. No one at World Online, the e-outfit that bought out Localtel and Screaming.net earlier this year, said as much - obviously - but reading between the lines that's what one executive was driving at when he spoke to The Register earlier today. "Seventy per cent of calls we've received say [our 24/7 unmetered Net access] is a great product," said Jeremy Stokes, a director of World Online and the former head of Localtel and Screaming.net. "We're signing up 2500 people every day." Responding to criticism from some Screaming.net customers who are peeved that they're being forced to up their monthly subscriptions for a 24/7 unmetered service when all they wanted is unmetered off-peak access, stokes said: "Customers have every right to vote with their feet." Diplomatic to the end, Stokes added: "The product isn't for everybody... I do sympathise with their concerns." World Online introduced 24/7 unmetered access earlier this month. The service costs £14.99 a month - up from the £9.25 a month Screaming.net users were paying for unmetered off-peak access. Tsk, there's no pleasing some people. ® Related Stories World Online flat fee ISP is Screaming by any other name
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Metallica drops Yale from anti-Napster suit

Metallica said yesterday that it will let Yale University off the hook for allegedly aiding and abetting copyright infringement after the well-known US educational institution banned its students from using Napster, the controversial 'seek, locate, download' music software. Napster is the target of a copyright infringement, racketeering and corruption suit launched by the metal band last week. Metallica's suit also named a handful of leading US universities for failing to ban the software from their LANs. Ironically enough, some of the named institutions did ban Napster, but more because of its log-jamming effect on LAN traffic than any concerns over music piracy. Yale said it instituted the ban on Friday in response to Metallica's suit, but it denies liability. However, it did make the point of stating that it doesn't condone using Napster to rip off artists and bands. "We appreciate the prompt and responsible reaction by Yale University in dealing with the gross violations of copyright laws and the protection of intellectual property," said a statement from Metallica yesterday. ® Related Stories Pro-Napster hackers hit Metallica Metallica sues Napster
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1GHz Coppermine shouldn't be hot stuff

Tom's Hardware Guide – one of our favourite sites – was bemoaning its observation that all the Gigahertz Pentium III systems it had seen had gigantic heat sinks, featuring a special copper 'heat pipe' that leads to yet another heat sink outside the case. THG reckoned that this heat sink added an extra cost of between $50–80 to the system price. We were surprised at this extra cooling requirement as the fastest machine we're running at the moment is a 750MHz Cumine clocked at 800MHz (sorry, Intel). This box runs about 12 hours a day, six days a week and has a cheap (£10) and cheerful active heatsink no bigger than the old Pentium II ones. The chip runs stone cold. So why all the extra gubbins for a part running just 150MHz faster? Intel tells us the reason is simple – it's moved the goalposts on thermal requirements for GHz and above Coppermines to ensure reliability. While current 800 and 866 chips have a recommended maximum running temperature of 75 degrees C, Chipzilla has decreed that the GHz parts should not exceed 60 degrees – something of a challenge for the cooling and chassis designers. So the systems THG and other reviewers have seen have had extra cooling bolted on to meet Intel's stringent new thermal guidelines. Smaller, cheaper, more efficient sinks are on the way. "There are several cooling solutions in development, some of them already in production and ready for volume in Q3," says a spokesman for Intel Europe. "We might get less conservative with the next Ghz processors," he adds – presumably referring to Willamette. ®
The Register breaking news

Car PCs – who needs 'em?

While Windows CE is in the news this week as a result of Microsoft's pocket PC marketing push, the mini operating system has another potentially huge target market that always appears to be on the back burner – the in car PC. A study made in November last year claimed that revenues from in car computing will rise from less than $40 million currently to more than $1.7 billion by 2004. Every few months or so for the last few years, someone from a company like Ford, GM, Intel, IBM and Microsoft has stood up and done a visionary presentation about how groovy it will be when we all have computers in our cars. Then it all goes quiet for another six months. The most recent was Ford CEO Jacques Nasser who told USA Today in January: "We will do nothing short of transforming our cars and our trucks into portals for the Internet". In car computing is one of those just over the horizon ideas that never seem to actually arrive. Of course, we've all had computers in our cars for years, looking after engine management, antilock brakes and performing diagnostics. A few rather tragic experiments with talking cars that told you when you were going too fast (the one I'm thinking of was in an Austin Maestro, one of the worst cars ever made and which therefore very rarely went fast enough to trigger the warning). Luxury cars such as Jaguars now have voice controlled stereo systems and air conditioning, others have traffic jam warning systems, but as yet there is little evidence that car makers are keen to be the first to take the plunge with a production car that has 'proper' computing built in as standard – things like Internet access and email. One of Intel's engineers told me over two years ago that once a mass-market car manufacturer offered in car computing, all the other big companies would be forced to follow suit, but that it was like a game of automotive chicken with nobody prepared to make the first move. He was speaking about a car equipped with a CE-based PC running on a Pentium 166 MMX that was hardened to withstand the extremes of temperature and humidity found under the bonnet (OK, hood). The car would talk to the user's home PC using Bluetooth and upload email, traffic information, weather reports, MP3 music and so on. Once at work, more Bluetooth networking wired into the office car park would allow a similar process to happen for the homeward journey. The technology is all there and has been for ages, so why isn't it available as standard equipment in new cars? So far the only products announced are from In car entertainment (ICE) suppliers like Clarion and Visteon – a division of Ford - which have previewed new devices offering interactive speech technology, mobile connectivity, information on demand and enhanced entertainment. The systems offer DVD playback, wireless traffic data, navigation, and hands-free cell phone control, along with large screen support aimed at keeping the kids quiet in the back of the car. This week, Mitsubishi announced it would adopt Windows CE for its future car navigation systems. The company plans to release its first CE-based car navigation system, the D550, sometime next month. It will have improved capabilities for search, direction guidance and will show road junctions and crossroads in three dimensions. Lee Machen, an engineer working on car PC development in Intel's Handheld Components Division in Arizona, says: "The Big Three auto makers in the US, as well as major companies in Europe and Asia, are still evaluating what their in-vehicle computing strategy will be. In the next few years every car will have some level of computing functionality, from basic safety and security in the low-end to more driver- and passenger-oriented functions such as navigation and DVD movies in high-end vehicles. "The most popular application today is navigation using a global positioning system (GPS). This system maps a course to the driver’s destination, and gives turn-by-turn directions according to an on-board map database. In the future, maps and updated traffic information downloaded from the Internet through a wireless link might replace these databases. Real-time information could provide an instant update on a road under construction or an accident causing delays, allowing the system to offer an alternate route. "Entertainment is another important function. Many systems will handle the current car stereo functionality, including radio, CD, and CD changer controls, while adding MP3 player capabilities. Higher-end systems will support backseat passenger entertainment in the form of DVD movie players with surround sound and video games." Machen adds that, despite the risks, over 85 percent of cell phone owners still use their phones while driving, and integrating them into the car increases both their usefulness and safety. With integrated phones, drivers never need to take their hands off of the wheel because calls can be made through voice commands, and the computer can automatically lower the volume of other audio systems when a call is received. The cell phone will also be a way for drivers to obtain wireless data in the car, letting them stay connected on the road with e-mail and Internet information. Messages, sports scores, stock quotes, or any other data that is received can then be converted to speech and recited to the driver. The manufacturers claim that car PC applications will keep drivers safe, entertained, and productive, but UK research has shown that even drivers making calls with hands free mobiles have an increased risk of being involved in an accident due to decreased concentration. A sophisticated satellite navigation system would probably require more concentration than arguing with your spouse about which way up they were holding the map. There is a risk that the average driver, already nearing information overload about what gear they're in, will become even worse when faced with a barrage of data from in car PCs. Let's face it, most drivers (except you and I, obviously) are rubbish. Before joining The Register, I drove an average of 30,000 miles a year for three years. I found that having the radio on or listening to a CD made me less attentive to what was going on outside the car. The only time I was snapped by a speed camera was whilst I was talking to someone on the hands free. I now even resent it if passengers talk to me while I'm driving. I certainly don't want a chirpy voice synthesiser telling me the screen washer fluid level is low and that it's raining in Manchester. I know it's raining in Manchester. It always is. ®
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Janet Reno licks chops over Mafiaboy arrest

US Attorney General Janet Reno glowed with pleasure during a Wednesday press conference as she wagged her finger and called for the Canadian courts to punish Mafiaboy for causing DDoS mayhem on the Web back in February. "I think that it's important first of all that we look at what we've seen and let young people know that they are not going to be able to get away with something like this scot-free," Reno told reporters, as if Mafiaboy had already been tried and convicted. "There has got to be a remedy, there has got to be a penalty." Reno did stop just shy of telling the Canadian courts precisely what the penalty ought to be. But if Mafiaboy should be convicted, his punishment will undoubtedly be a good deal lighter than anything a malicious hacker might get in the USA, which, it was revealed today, has achieved the distinction of maintining the world's largest polulation of citizens locked up in cages. Reno also took the opportunity to boast about the profound technical savvy of her troops in the field. "I believe this recent breakthrough demonstrates our capacity to track down those who would abuse this remarkable new technology, and track them down wherever they may be," Reno said. Yeah, right. The Register recalls the very brief period of DoJ tirumphalism over Coolio's arrest and how quickly it evaporated, and thinks that this 'recent breakthrough' demonstrates nothing so much as the Feds' desperate need to pounce on any scapegoat they can find in hopes of concealing how hopeless they are in tracking cyber-criminals. The hacking underground remains wisely reluctant to believe that Mafiaboy is more than a scapegoat, at least until evidence is produced. The scene has been abuzz with sceptics, while the mainstream press, predictably, appears satisfied that the Mounties have got their boy. Meanwhile, 2600.com has posted a bogus IRC log between a staffer posing as Mafiaboy and one 'Icee' who the magazine claims is the person responsible for tipping the Feds to Mafiaboy's alleged DDoS attacks. We're not entirely sure what the point of this stunt is, except perhaps to demonstrate that anyone can pretend to be anyone else in IRC in hopes of casting doubt on the authenticity of the Mafiaboy logs which are expected to be produced in evidence against him at trial. Nice try, but of course the Feds can obtain both IRC and ISP logs, so it's not terribly hard for them to divine the true origins of IRC traffic. You can go on line as 'Icee' and fool, say, the editors of 2600; but if the Feds can persuade a judge to issue a trap and trace order, they will get all the evidence needed to pin the logs on the dummy....and probably figure out how to piece it together, or at least hire someone with a brain to do it for them. (Note to wannabe leet h4x0rz: IRC traffic is logged, Einstein, so always connect through a hacked ISP account or a freebie such as NetZero where you can register with fictional information; and always dial in from a phreaked telephone account [preferably in Tonga or Madagascar]. If you can't manage that much, then don't say anything in IRC that you wouldn't announce over a bull horn in the lobby of FBI Headquarters.) Speaking in conclusion, again as if Mafiaboy had been tried and convicted, Reno lectured the populace on morality. "We have got to renew our efforts to teach young people -- children -- cyber-ethics," she said. Renew them? We were blissfully unaware that any such efforts had been made in the first place. ® Related Coverage Canadian Feds charge Mafiaboy in DDoS attacks TFN author 'Mixter' sentenced FBI Web site hacked Feds charge Coolio while DDoS attackers remain at large Congressional study rejects Clinton's IT security Czar, FIDNET The Mother of all DDoS attacks looms Hacking hysteria invigorates insurance industry Law enforcers the 'absolute worst people' for Net security - former Fed Janet Reno proposes on-line police squad Dot-Com firms are hacking each other -- expert Reno, FBI feast on bad network security New hack attack is greater threat than imagined Hacking credit cards is preposterously easy
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Forget PCs, TVs, mobiles, PDAs – we know the future

While many people are still recovering from the 1990s paperless-office mania ("What do we need paper for anyway?". "I'm not talking to you until you stop being so daft"), Carly Fiorina, IT babe and head of Hewlett-Packard has swung the other way. The printer is going to become the centre of a new "internet-based ecosystem", worth more than all the treasures of Solomon, she says - which is incredibly convenient, as HP knows a thing or two about making printers. Is she serious? Probably not, but then when everything from pens to Barbie dolls has suddenly become e-sexy, she'd be a fool to try not to do the same with her company's staple diet. And so HP has "announced partnerships" with seven service companies including FedEx, stamps.com, printCafe, encryptix.com (we know, we know, we've only heard of the first one too) with the intention of making printing instantly available wherever you are. What the hell does that mean? Here's Carly: "Imagine when you can point your cellphone at a printer and print directions to a restaurant, even your email, while watching your favourite TV show. There will simply be millions of reasons to hit the print button: to buy a stamp, to buy tickets, to print a coupon" Hmmm, just imagine. It's like a fantasyland come true. We really don't know where Carly is going with this one. In fact, it seems like such an unfeasibly daft thing to have a big press conference about it. She is either losing it or has stumbled across some kind of genius concept... ®
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Steve Ballmer's vision for the future of mankind

The experience of using the Internet will be substantially different ten years from now, Micro$oft President and CEO Steve Ballmer predicted during a speech he delivered on the future of technology to students at George Washington University earlier this week.