As a rule of thumb, it is wise to be cautious of organisations that have eagles in their coats of arms, or the word "democracy" in their titles. So when we looked at the Centre for Democracy and Technology report "Bridging the divide" on Internet access in Central and Eastern Europe which has just been published, it turned out that our caution was prudent. CDT, which is widely supported by major US IT organisations, was funded for this study by the Open Society Institute, a front for George Soros' foundations, and prepared for the Global Internet Liberty Campaign. CDT's mission statement is that it "works to promote democratic values and constitutional liberties in the digital age... to enhance free expression and privacy". But the "democratic values" are American values, and the "constitutional liberties" that are "promoted globally" derive from US law. There is a certain self-righteous do-gooding in CDT's work, and it is for them to act politically as they wish within the United States. But in Central and Eastern Europe - let alone the rest of the developing world - it is somewhat foolish to assume that the American way of life should always be replicated, and that Internet access should be a priority. Many people would consider that a supply of food, clean water, a refrigerator and access to health services would be ahead of either American notions of liberty or enriching Intel, Microsoft, Cisco & Co. Did the researchers really appreciate that in several of the CEE countries surveyed, the GDP per capita is less than the cost of a PC and a year's modest Internet access, and that probably a minority of households had refrigerators? We were not impressed by a justifying 1994 quotation from the Council of Europe - pre-Gates' discovery of the internet in the second edition of The Road Ahead - about the danger of a two-tier society of have and have-nots, where the latter might "reject the new information culture". We can nearly all agree about the desirability of not charging by the minute for telecom access, but it is naive for the main authors (who are lawyers) to expect developing countries to do anything else when telephony is still a scarce resource. The report does not add very much more than a civil rights perspective against censorship and support for privacy - and curiously contains cogent arguments for what in the EU is known as data protection law, which does not yet exist in the United States, where freedom dictates an unenforceable voluntary code. Perhaps it would have been wiser for the CDT to make some proposals about the home front before going beyond its borders. The data presented is seriously dated (for example, 1996 data is used for Internet access in eastern Europe) and does not appear to draw on the more up-to-date information in the European Information Technology Observatory annual studies, or cite data presented at the IDC Eastern European IT Forum in Prague last year. There is also a great deal of other more up-to-date information available on the Web that was not consulted. This report brings home the essential need for ideologically-based organisations to use information professionals in analysing data, especially when it relates to countries with cultures and political systems that differ greatly from that of the United States. ®
Rapper Dr Dre fired off a lawsuit against Napster this week, confirming lawyer Howard King's weekend claim that more bands would follow Metallica's lead. And King should know: he's not only legal counsel to the corporate rockers but to Dr Dre too. Metallica launched its copyright infringement suit against the MP3 cataloguing software developer two weeks ago, but while the band's suit named a selection of US universities as aiders and abetters of Napster, Dre's suit goes a step further to draw in users too. Tracking down and prosecuting individual users isn't going to prove too easy, which suggests Dre's suit - at least at this level - is using scare tactics to frighten people away from making their own MP3 collections available through Napster. Dre earlier asked Napster to remove all versions of his tracks from its database, but since Napster (the software) simply lists what its users want it to list that would have proved rather difficult. Hence, we presume, Dre's user-targeting suit. ® Related Stories More artists to sue Napster says Metallica lawyer Pro-Napster hackers hit Metallica Metallica sues Napster
CommentA "rich new set of applications and services" will soon be embedded in the most mundane, everyday objects and devices, Microsoft Vice President Bill Veghte predicted as he announced the launch of a new Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group, which he will head up, during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference this week.
NTL Mobile, the joint venture between NTL and France Telecom, has pulled out of the government's auction for a UMTS telecoms licence. The companies said they would continue their partnership in the UK market, but would look at fresh convergent multimedia wireless services in the UK. The winners of the mobile licences are therefore Montreal-based newcomer TIW UMTS (UK) Ltd, and the four existing wireless operators One-2-One, Orange, Vodafone AirTouch and BT. TIW is paying £4.4 billion for the privilege of joining the next generation of mobile licence owners, with Vodafone forking out £5.9 billion, Orange £4.1 billion, and BT 3G - a unit of BT - and One2One each paying £4 billion. "We entered the auction with a robust business plan for offering fixed and mobile services. We still believe in that plan, but now believe that other strategies for achieving it offer higher and better rates of return for our stakeholders. We wish the winners good luck in the future," said Barclay Knapp, NTL CEO and president. ®
Hard details are beginning to emerge about the shape of Via's CPU roadmap, although some of here at The Register are scratching our heads about some of the elements of its CPU future. Meanwhile, German site Tec Channel has a photograph of a Socket A motherboard Via is touting. According to a roadmap we have seen, Samuel/Samuel 2 uses a WinChip C5 core, comes in a Socket 370 format, has 128K of level one cache, zero to 64K of level two cache, and supports system buses of between 66-133MHz. Speeds for Samuel/Samuel 2 will be 500MHz, 533MHz, 550MHz, 600MHz, 650MHz, 700MHz, 750MHz and 800MHz. The up-and-coming Ezra is a different kettle of fish altogether, somewhat reminiscent of Australian creature the platypus. According to the roadmap, Ezra will come in clock speeds of 750MHz, 800MHz, 850MHz, and 900MHz+. It will use the CX core, support Socket 370 and Socket 417, 128K of level one cache, 128K of level two cache, a 266MHz front side bus and SSE. Wait a minute. SSE are them thar Intel multimedia MMX thingies which we call Screaming Cindy. A call to Intel confirmed that SSE is an Intel patented technology requiring a licence. Meanwhile, the Via Cyrix III, formerly called Joshua, is slated for release in June, but some questions remain over how viable it will be given that Intel with its Celeron and AMD with its Duron are involved in a seriously head-banging pricewar. Unlike Samuel and Ezra, the Cyrix III uses the PR rating rather than a MHZ rating. ®
Commenting on our story on the $333,000 Yamaha electronic piano here, keyboard whizz Rick Wakeman observes: "...there are people, especially in America, who will buy it, but they will mainly be people who don't know a hatchet from a crotchet." ®
Leaks thought to be from the DoJ and the plaintiff states suggest that there will be a joint filing DoJ/states tomorrow calling for the breakup of Microsoft into two or three parts - OS, applications, and Internet - depending on which rumours you believe. Defiant remarks by both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer this week are thought to have been the clincher in deciding for breakup. Gates claimed on Tuesday that "Microsoft is very clear that it has done absolutely nothing wrong", which directly contradicts Judge Jackson's conclusions of fact and law. COO Bob Herbold's presence in Washington lobbying also may not have had the positive effect he had expected. The Washington Post reports today that there is some dissension amongst the states, with Ohio attorney general, Republican Betty Montgomery, said to be against breaking up Microsoft. Although Judge Jackson said he hoped not "to have to deal with divergent points of view", it may well turn out that there is a dissenting view presented. Last month, Kansas, Illinois, Florida and Maryland told the Post that they had reservations about breakup, but there is no further information other than the breakers-up appear to be comfortably in the majority. California, and some industry competitors, are thought to be lobbying for breakup into three companies, but there may be a compromise on two parts. The New York Times reckons the brief will propose there be a break into two companies. It was also suggested that the states have inserted some stiffeners, as we suggested would happen when the trial first opened. The NYT says that the Internet part of Microsoft would be included with the applications, and that there are conduct remedies as well that would be in force during an appeal, since breakup would be stayed until an appeal was decided. It is likely that there would be a special master appointed to supervise Microsoft. Clearly Microsoft does not like the idea of a breakup, but there is a serious danger that the remedy is being used as a punishment rather than a solution to Microsoft's anticompetitive actions. All should be revealed tomorrow. Do not be surprised if next week, Microsoft asks for extra time to file its response, which is due on 10 May. ®
The CEO of EMC, Mike Ruettgers, was in old London Town this morning to unveil some high capacity storage systems and at the same time to give some facts and figures about why the world needs said big boxes. Ruettgers wheeled on Eddie Jordan first, who is the head of the F1 Grand Prix outfit and who apparently uses EMC kit to store all of that telemetry stuff it uses. Announcing the Symmetrix 8000 family, Ruettgers said that it supported up to 384 50Gb drives, giving a total of 19 terabytes. The IT industry, he said, represented a worldwide spend of $2.2 trillion this year, and will represent $3.3 trillion next year. And one of the problems is, he claimed, that large corporations double the amount of information they have each year while dotcoms can double their data requirements every 90 days. "During the course of this year, Global 2000 companies will double their data every 90 days," he said. Five years ago, said Ruettgers, worldwide storage demand amounted to 85 terabytes, but the Internet has changed all that. He gave some examples. Delta Airlines has moved to 80Tb in 12 months, Critical Path has moved to 80Tb in six months, while Driveway consumed 40Tb of storage in only 30 days. "In a couple of years this will be a Petabyte world," he said. EMC has a strategic relationship with Cisco and Oracle. Look, we know storage isn't sexy, OK? But it's pretty important. A garden shed is storage and your lawnmower would get pretty rusty without one. ®
Proof, if it were needed, that the virtual world is going barking mad comes courtesy of the US-based online pet store Pets.com, which is suing a TV show writer for - allegedly - defaming the Pets.com puppet spokesdog. Yes, you read it correctly, and no we're not making this up. The row centres around a rubber dog called Triumph which has a regular slot on the hit NBC show Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Unlike most dogs, Triumph smokes cigars and is known for being abusive toward the show's guests. An Associated Press (AP) report, doing its best to sound matter of fact, quotes part of the lawsuit, which was filed last week. "Triumph is a rubber-dog that ... regularly uses vulgarity, insults both the humans and other dogs around him and often conducts physical attacks of a sexual nature on female dogs," it says. Pets.com is claiming that the reputation of Socks, its talking head - if a dog puppet can be called such a thing - has been damaged by Triumph's behaviour. The man behind Triumph, writer Robert Smigel, now finds himself well and truly in the dog house, accused of calling Socks a rip-off of Triumph and of building Triumph's popularity by use of shock tactics. Pets.com has singled Smigel out in the lawsuit and is not taking action against the show or the network, only against the writer, according to AP. The amount of damages the site is looking for is unspecified, but we figure Pets.com will be hoping to win a lot (geddit!). A representative of the Late Night show (a human one) claimed that Triumph made his TV debut on 13 February 1999 and that Socks didn't arrive on the scene until August 1999. It's a dog eat dog world out there, and don't you forget it. ® Register Footnote: If you thought this story was puntastic enough as it is, here are some of the headline gags we couldn't find room for: Cry havoc and let loose the rubber dogs of war Site sues writer for fiddling on the woof Dog fight nothing to Smigel about Triumph's in yer face is adversity Writer faces woof and reconciliation commission
George Orwell's vision of the future in 1984 is getting ever closer. Now we can rewrite recent events by overwriting electronic files and follow people around the globe with ease, but with the release of a new Hollywood film, U571, things have taken a great step forward (or back, depending how you look at it). U571 tells the story of how a group of American sailors manage to capture a German U-boat during the Second World War, and in so doing recovered the first Enigma encryption machine - a legendary machine that foxed the Allies for years and allowed the Germans to communicate without fear of interception. So what? Nothing except that the capture of the first Enigma was an entirely British mission. Not a Yank in sight, which isn't surprising when you consider this was in 1941 and the US hadn't even entered the war. Oh, and the U-boat was actually U110 - posing the big fat question: why is the film call U571? So how does Hollywood justify rewriting history? Simple: economics. The film cost $75 million to make and since the US movie market is the main source of income for any film, it was felt it would have to revolve around good ole American boys. And so a fake new memory for the world was created. Just wait for the Oscars. Also, you can bet that next time the familiar "you Brits ought to be proud we are taking over the high street with McDonalds/reducing cultural heritage to a few hip phrases/focussing the media on the lowest common denominator" (delete as appropriate), your words of protest will be met with the exalted: "Well, what about U571, boy? We saved your ass* that time." ® *Nb. "Ass" refers to "arse", not a donkey.
BTopenworld - the new Internet division of British Telecommunications plc - finally unveiled its pricing for its broadband ADSL services yesterday In effect, it was the pre-launch of mass market broadband access in Britain. The service - for both business and domestic customers - will go live in July 2000. Although the announcement is welcomed, it does pose questions about what's on offer and how it will be delivered. The Register raises these issues and attempts to answer them - well, some of them at least. ADSL. What's that all about then? It stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line and is high speed, always on, content rich Net access that is on the vanguard of the Internet wave. Gosh, that's impressive. Must be bloody good then? Yeah, sort of. Except there are some worries that it may not be as fast as everyone makes out. You see, BTopenworld has confirmed that the retail service will be served with a contention ratio of 50:1, with 20:1 for business users. That means, for every available line of bandwidth, you could have as many as 50 people all sharing the same connection. The result, is that at peak times, the service could slow down, especially if people are playing online games, downloading large files or accessing video on demand. BTopenworld admitted as much yesterday. That sounds bad. Shouldn't they rename it congestion ratio? Very funny. Although BTopenworld said the service could suffer it insisted contention ratios would come down and speeds would increase over time. Adrian Mardlin, MD of Buckinghamshire-based ISP, Nildram, is fairly relaxed about it. He said: "The service will be trashed a little but to start with but should settle down once people normalise their usage." Unlike Nick Rosen, director of the Online Research Agency, who reckons this could be a real problem. He said: "No way is it going to work with a contention ration of 50:1. It should be 6:1 - max," he said. So what does this mean? It's one of those unfathomable questions. We'll only know how the service will stand up when it's tested. We'll just have to suck it and see, that's all. Although, if the service does deteriorate it will be interesting to know if BTopenworld will compensate users. So people aren't certain about how the service will stand up. Surely there can be no question over the price? You're right there. £39.99 (inc VAT for domestic users and plus VAT for business users) is at the lower end of the suggested price bracket for retail punters. Some early speculation put the cost of ADSL at more than £150 a month although most thought it would settle somewhere between £40 and £60 a month. Now that it's been confirmed BTopenworld will provide broadband Net access at the lower end of this price band, most people will probably be happy with that - although there are always those who will say it is too high, whatever the cost. And of course, cynics will argue that BT deliberately inflated early price speculation just to make it appear that its offering is competitive. No matter. FYI, BTopenworld is £10 a month less than Telewest's broadband service although a spokesman for the cableco was quick to point out that if you included installation costs, they were about the same. Ah, installation costs, BTopenworld's going to waive them if people pre book, is that right? Correctamundo. Register your interest before 30 June 2000 and BTopenworld will waive the £150 it cost to install the kit in your home or workplace. Other service providers such as AOL, Freeserve or Demon will still have to charge punters the same... unless they decide to follow BTopenworld's lead and absorb the cost. Good heavens, no installation costs, competitive prices -- is BTopenworld going to make any money? Not at the beginning. BTopenworld says that at £39.99 it is "going to take a hit" on the cost of service but said that in time, advertising and e-commerce revenue would boost its income. It reckons it will break even within three years but admitted that the service will be subsidised - certainly at first. Subsidised? Surely, that's against BT's licensing agreement? Apparently not. A spokeswoman for the winged watchdog said that as long as it was charged the same wholesale price for the service as everyone else (£35 per user, roughly) then it wasn't a problem. Well, this must really put a rocket up BTopenworld's competitors, wouldn't you say? Yeah, guess so, although none will really admit to it. AOL and Freeserve have both confirmed that they will be offering their ADSL packages in July and both say it will be priced competitively, although they are still remaining coy about exact pricing arrangements. It will be interesting to see how they - and the other service providers - respond. Okay, this is all fine and dandy, so why is everyone saying that BT has a year on its competitors? Surely, its competitors are launching at the same time, this July. You've just said so, haven't you? Kind of. You see, we've been talking about BTopenworld, BT's mass-market Net business focused increasingly on broadband services. But it's being supplied by Ignite, BT's data-centric broadband IP business focused on corporate and wholesale markets. Oh... We know it's confusing but do try to keep up. All the service providers offering ADSL services this summer are using wholesale broadband products from Ignite (BT). It won't be until July 2001 that other telcos will be able to install their ADSL kit in the local exchanges (aka unbundling the local loop(ULL)) giving service providers and consumers a real choice of supplier. Many predict that this competition will drive down the cost of ADSL and other telecoms costs for consumers once ULL happens. So, is that it? Have we cracked this ADSL thing now? No, not really. Ask yourself this; why is BTopenworld chucking so much money at an advertising and branding campaign to promote the technology when there are tens of thousands - hundreds of thousands - of people already gagging for it? Anything else? Well, it will only be available to some 35 per cent o the population to start with and despite BT boss, Sir Peter Bonfield, saying this is the most aggressive roll-out in the world, there are those who won't get it for some time. Is that it? No. There appears to be a lack of support for systems other than x86 boxes (Apples are to be welcomed, just heard) with USB slots running Windows. It seems Linux workstation will be unable to use this ADSL service, not only because of the limited USB support in the 2.2 series kernel, but also because my motherboard simply doesn't have a USB interface... Good grief. ® Related Stories BT rips open ADSL pricing kimono BT McKinseyed in bid for world leadership
VA Linux Systems is to pay Slashdot owner Andover.net entirely in stock, junking the previously agreed cash element. The deal, struck in February, originally called for a $60 million cash payment to be made to Andover's owners.
Police yesterday warned parents of the perils of the Internet after a middle-aged man duped a 13-year-old girl he met in an online chat room into a clandestine date. The 47-year-old perv masqueraded as a teenager, sending the girl a series of intimate messages online. The man, traced by police to the North of England, asked her for photos of herself before arranging to meet. Luckily, the youngster's mother grew suspicious and decided to play chaperone. "I was also a bit worried because he insisted if I was there he would drive away immediately," she said. The mother dropped her daughter at the proposed place for the romantic rendezvous - Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire - and waited at a discreet distance to watch the goings-on. To her horror, the "boy" who walked up to her daughter was actually a "middle-aged, not very well-dressed man". The vigilant mother confronted him, saying: "You are not 17". According to her, the man tried to weasel his way out, claiming first to be 17, but then wisely admitting he wasn't. The man was arrested, but released without charge. Police said there was not enough evidence that an offence had been committed. Chief Inspector Neville Pinkny of Milton Keynes police commented: "This was a most disturbing case and had it not been for the vigilance of the mother, the girl could have placed herself at quite considerable risk." John Carr, a consultant on Internet safety with a children's charity, told the Times: "The Internet is a great thing, but parents should view it as they would Central London – it's a great place to be, but you would not let your kids go there unaccompanied unless you were sure they knew all about stranger danger." Last year Patrick Naughton, a former Infoseek exec, was arrested after trying to solicit sex with a 13-year-old girl. He had also met his victim in an online chat room. ® Related stories Disney Web exec on kiddie porn charge Child sex Disney exec 'admitted offence' Infoseek porn exec gets porridge for Xmas
Malicious hack attacks are on the rise in Russia, up by a factor of twelve from last year, the Interfax news service reports. Most spectacularly, Russian authorities revealed this week that Gazprom, a state-run gas utility, came under the control of malicious hackers last year. Gazprom is the world's largest natural gas producer and Western Europe's largest source. The intruders succeeded in defeating the company's security and breaking into systems controlling gas pipelines, Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Konstantin Machabeli said. The flow of natural gas was under the control of outsiders for some time, Machabeli reported. The Colonel said the intruders used some type of Trojan to gain access, but didn't name it. The Interfax report did not mention whether anyone has been charged with the crime. ®
Oh my god, all those cheesy 70s sci-fi TV series were right. The first brick has been laid in what may become a computerised legal system. As with all terrible ideas, it is with efficiency in mind that a Brazilian judge has created the Electronic Judge - a Visual Basic program that decides whether someone is guilty and how big the fine/ jail sentence(!) should be. Installed on a laptop, installed on a wandering judge, the software assesses incidents from witness reports and forensic evidence and then comes to a swift conclusion, printing out a reasoning in tandem. Yes, it really is that scary. Brazil's legal system is completely overloaded (something that won't come as a surprise if you've ever been there), and so Judge Pedro Valls Feu Rosa whipped up the program to deal with "straightforward" cases. Following an incident, a rapid-response justice team (we're not making this up) can be on the scene in ten minutes. The program offers multiple-choice questions like: "Did the driver stop at the red light?" A couple of these later and the verdict is returned. Of course, the human judge can override the judgment if he/she so decides. Now you have to wonder what possible use this program has when attached to an actual judge. Judges are either supremely incompetent, or the intention is to dish this laptop out to jobsworths in the police. We don't know whether the thought of a policeman pulling you over, asking a few questions, taping them into a laptop and then informing you you're off to jail for three years, is a little scary to you, but this is the first time The Register has agreed with the survivalists camped out in Oregon in their nuclear shelters. The same system has been running in neighbouring country Argentina for a few years with the Buenos Aires police. Except they don't use computers. There they call it endemic corruption. Apart from the fact that the Brazilians have completely forgotten one of the main understandings of any legal system - that people lie when faced with fines and jail - we were disturbed to find that the UK and US think this might be a good idea. A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor told the BBC that the system "would have to satisfy the authorities that it was absolutely foolproof" before being implemented. No shit. We'd have preferred the response: "Don't be ridiculous." And Judge Rosa said that he was actually in discussions with insurance companies in the US over a similar system. Can you imagine what would happen if one of these machines was allowed near the US civil prosecution laws? Didn't the world make more sense before these computational machines? ®
Over ninety percent of respondents to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey examining Net-related intellectual property litigation claimed to be involved, or anticipated being involved, in intellectual property litigation where damage claims would exceed US $100 million. The PWC survey indicates that IP litigation is increasing rapidly, while respondents expect the Internet to impede patent and copyright enforcement. In a related study, PWC found that increased spending by companies seeking to protect IP rights is resulting in more patent filings and considerably greater legal expenditures. The report found that IP-intensive companies increased their median IP-related legal spending by 16.3 percent from 1997 to 1998, while reporting a median 23 percent increase in the number of patents issued over the same period. According to the report, IP-intensive companies burned a median sum of $31 million annually in legal fees. ®
On the 23rd of April last, Intel dropped its prices on a range of microprocessors, including Xeons, Pentium IIIs and its low end Celeron range. But a change in the published prices of chips does not necessarily mean that you will be able to buy any of these products cheaper, particularly given the level of shortages mainstream PC companies, as well as the distribution market, are currently suffering. Distributors can buy their chips from Intel in 1,000 or 10,000 lots and then add on their little bit of margin for resale to system builders and resellers. So you'd expect that when you bought your Pentium III or Celeron from a component reseller it would be cheaper than it was this time last week, right? Wrong. The shortages mean that middle marketers can juggle the prices and you might end up paying quite a bit more than you expected to. This situation is compounded, or perhaps the right term is complicated, by the shortage of boxed desktop processors. Availability, all the way down the range, will start in Q3. When in Q3, we don't yet know. This means that if you are looking to buy a microprocessor, do so carefully. Some people will add a significant premium to these published prices. Look out. ® See Also Intel cuts prices on CuMine processors Intel CuMine shortage problems a twisted, tangled tale Availability of boxed Intel chips to happen Q3
Amazon.com's loss continues to widen - this time by a whopping 200 per cent. And the e-tailer recorded its first quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue. Still, the company's love of the red has clearly reached such proportions that Wall Street expected it to announce an even deeper Q1 loss. Amazon.com said its US books, music and video sales operations lost $2.4 million on revenues of $401.14 million. The company claimed book sales showed a profit, but it didn't specify by how much. Its other departments lost $69.4 million on sales of $97.3 million. Overseas, Amazon.com's ventures lost a combined $27.4 million of sales of $75.1 million. Pro forma net losses for the three-month period - excluding investment and other charges - were $121 million, which amounts to earnings of 35 cents a share. Analysts had the loss pegged at 36 cents a share, according to First Call's poll. Its margins remain static, at 22 per cent for this and the previous quarter. ® Related Story Amazon sells Phantom Menace for 12p
BTopenworld has suffered a security leak of biblical proportions after the details of tens, nay, hundreds of thousands of customers were published willy-nilly on its Web site. Our source at the Times said he downloaded 3MBs of personal data onto his desktop before BT finally plugged the security hole and ripped down the sign-up page. The files contained names, addresses, e-mail addresses, etc from consumers and business people interested in BT's ADSL products. Not particularly inspiring, is it. Predictably, no one at BT was available for comment. So they couldn't say when the registration service would be back up again. Today's slip mimics an episode last month when BT published -- by mistake -- the names, telephone numbers and email addresses of more than 800 phone users on its official Numberchange Web site. When it comes to Web security, looks like BT needs some help. Interesting to see how it wriggles out of this one. ® Related Stories BT boob exposes personal details
Amazon.co.uk is holding an urgent internal investigation after it offered the video Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace for just 12p (20 cents). Including postage and packing and VAT, the sum total for the video comes to a bank-breaking £3. The Register understands that some people have ordered as many as 200 copies. A spokeswoman for Amazon.co.uk said she was aware of the decimal point slip and that the matter was under investigation. She wouldn't say how many had been ordered. In a statement today, the company said it would honour purchases at the knockdown price on the basis of one copy per customer. Last year e-tailer Wstore said a computer glitch was responsible for reducing the prices of some PCs from £1200 to just £12. And Argos sold Sony TVs for just £3. Related Stories WStore offers 99 per cent discount on PCs - kinda Argos welshes on three quid TV Net 'offer'
AMD's rival for Celeron in the sub-$1,000 segement, previously codenamed Spitfire, has been badged Duron, which we are assured is derived from the Latin words for "to last" and "unit". Our research reveals the sordid truth: Duron was a composer who died of TB in 1716 after being accused by the Catholic Church for the decadence of Spanish music. "In choosing the AMD Duron product name, AMD wanted to convey the qualities that will prolong the life of the buyer's investment, specifically: dependability, reliability and stability," said Rob Herb, executive vice president at AMD, with nary a trace of marketingspeak. "The AMD Duron processor will be a workhorse without peer - invigorating AMD's competitive posture in the value market." Duron is based on the Athlon core and features full-speed, on-chip L2 cache, a 200MHz front side system bus, plus enhanced 3Dnow instructions. Volume shipments are scheduled for June. ® Register Factoid: Athlon is also the name for a Spanish brand of washing powder
Amazon.co.uk has just issued the following statement concerning the sale of Star Wars videos for just 12p. For less than 24 hours on 26 April 2000 Amazon.co.uk displayed the VHS standard format of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace at a price of £11.99 when customers browsed the store; however when orders were placed the price charged was actually 10 or 12 pence. Fewer than 450 customers placed their orders at this price, the vast majority of these were orders for one copy, however some individuals did place orders for multiple units. Amazon.co.uk states very clearly in its terms and conditions, accessible from each page of the site, that until customers receive shipping confirmation from Amazon.co.uk a legally binding contract is not in place. ‘We have investigated this," commented Vincent Toolan, general manager of Amazon.co.uk, "we know that consumers come to Amazon.co.uk in search of selection and great prices – although perhaps not this great! Although we are not legally obliged to do so, we will, as a gesture of goodwill, send one copy of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, at no charge, to each individual customer who placed an order with us." Each of the customers who placed an order with Amazon.co.uk will shortly receive an email detailing the outcome and their video will be despatched as soon as possible. The site has now been revised. Trading Standards has been fully appraised of our actions. Customers with concerns should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. No other formats of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace were affected. ®