Episode 15BOFH 2000: Episode 15
The Register has received this statement from e-venture capital outfit, Durlacher, about reports that it is to withdraw from some dotcom investments.
Episode 14BOFH 2000: Episode 14
Structural remedies can involve the breaking of the company into two or more separate companies, either vertically by product group, or horizontally by creating in effect Babysofts that compete with each other and start with identical products. Structural remedies are attractive because they do not require supervision by a court, but many Americans would resist any attempt to break up what they regard as a national treasure, and there's a real danger that this kind of measure might destroy the company. Plus, there are sound arguments that break-up in either of these ways would not be in the interests of users. A vertical split would merely create smaller monopolies, and not address the core problem of lessening barriers to entry. Breaking Microsoft into Babysofts would probably result in the fragmentation of Windows. Whether we like it or not, Windows is a fact of life, and those who suffer are entitled to see an improvement, not a worsening of the situation. The only structural remedy that could work is total divestment, but this very likely to be politically unacceptable in the USA. Microsoft could be divided into quite a few parts, and then auctioned. There would need to be some safeguards, such as only allowing a company to hold one of the parts. General problems with remedies Because of the time that it is likely to take the Supreme Court to decide an appeal - and reports that this could happen by the end of this year are ill-informed - technological evolution may well prove to be a more effective determinant than any imposed remedy, although a glance at history shows that technological change is not that fast, other than for relatively few early adopters. The unmemorably-named Next Generation Windows Services may get the direction of a technology shift wrong, but further judgement on this will have to await for some harder data, promised for the Spring, but probably next month when Microsoft has a strategy day. Remedies need to be put into effect quickly: as Judge Jackson observed on Tuesday, the economy is being damaged by the present situation, so the matter should be settled as quickly as possible. Of course, when Microsoft really has its back to the wall, it may just agree terms for a settlement, but as the possible remedies get fleshed out and the consequences are fully realised, this is less likely unless a shareholder revolt forces this on the board. It is also possible that Microsoft would itself decide to split itself into separate companies while the courts are deliberating, which could create a complex legal situation. ® Back to previous part Back to first page Additional Information: Recording of first Appraising Microsoft Conference Day 1 Recording of first Appraising Microsoft Conference Day 2 Transcript of second conference
Behavioural remedies of all kinds have the drawback that they require active supervision by a court-appointed monitor - possibly a magistrate judge. They're therefore likely to be complex and costly to supervise, and present the additional disadvantage of being an ongoing process, whereas the government camp would like something that represented a clean break. There are several regulatory remedies possible, the most powerful being through pricing. It 's often suggested that Microsoft should be forced to have an OEM price list with perhaps only volume discounts, but this would not be enough: Judge Jackson has determined that Microsoft received monopoly profits, so an effective way to deal with these would be a permanent court-ordered price reduction for present products, probably to between 10 and 50 per cent of present prices. This would devalue the Microsoft Windows monopoly and create an incentive for developers, including Microsoft if it still existed as a single unit, to produce good add-on products. Many users and developers have suffered from Microsoft's failure to disclose and document its proprietary interfaces adequately. If a major price reduction were coupled with an absolute requirement for the disclosure of all interface information, and all versions of Windows were declared to be an essential facility and put in the public domain, then this would create an incentive to develop a significant market for add-on products. Some analysts have suggested that this would make the integration of components difficult and less efficient, but such arguments reveal a lack of knowledge about software design: modularity is efficient, and inefficient modules could be replaced. Such substitutability is very much in the interest of users, and provides a method of rewarding good developers. Of course, users wouldn't be capable of carrying out a software mix-and-match exercise, but dealers would be able to advise and organise the loading. Since Microsoft's corporate behaviour has resulted from the actions of its officers, the suggestion has also been made that they be disqualified from office for an appropriate period of time. Another possible remedy is a ban on Microsoft making acquisitions, for a period of time, since it has frequently acquired companies to remove competition. ® Next part: Structural remedies: splitting Microsoft up Back to first part
Episode 12BOFH 2000: Chapter 12
A student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado has written a preview of AMD's Sledgehammer which outlines its architecture and future, and poses intriguing questions on future directions in the x86 market. Tom Kerrigan says that the available information on the 64-bit Sledgehammer, which AMD hopes to release next year, shows that the firm can manufacture these processors at approximately the same price as it does its current and future Athlon family. He adds that additional instructions on the Sledgehammer, called technical floating point (TFP), will give FP performance equal to Risc processors, including the Alpha, the PA-Risc, and the Sun Sparc platform. While Intel's future Willamette might threaten AMD's current Athlon platform, Kerrigan says AMD has an alternative: "A chip with TFP will be able to whomp Willamette at 3D gaming (which drives the mainstream performance market). I believe AMD should not overlook this option." Kerrigan adds that the x86-64 core in Sledgehammer is not much bigger than the Athlon's core, so allowing AMD to make this core a standard feature of its entire product line. That would allow AMD's consumer processors to have the power of 64-bit computing too, he adds. His preview can be found here. ®
As predicted, Intel has today released two Celeron microprocessors based on its .18µ (micron) Coppermine Pentium III technology. The 600MHz and 566MHz chips cost $181 and $167 respectively, provided you buy a thousand each of the babies. Intel said it will introduce faster clock speeds of the Celerons before June. Pat "Kicking" Gelsinger said his company's foot is on the throttle. "Intel is keeping its foot on the gas in the value PC market segment." Gas is the US name for petrol. The chips, again as revealed here, incorporate Screaming Sindie multimedia extensions and have 128K of level two cache onboard, but the gas is not on the throttle as far as the system bus, sometimes called the front side bus, is concerned. The processors only use a 66MHz system bus, unlike the parents which spawned them, the Pentium III CuMine microprocessors. Intel is positioning these fast and cheap Celerons against AMD's Athlon microprocessor. This could be a mistake, some industry observers feel, given that AMD is currently on the offensive in the price war. In April, AMD will take the axe to the root and branch of its Athlon pricing policy, when it introduces Spitfire technology. Intel claims the Celerons are in volume production at these speeds above, and also at speeds of 533MHz, 500MHz and 466MHz. These last three however, are at .25µ and no prices for them were available at press time. ® See also Intel 18µ Celerons to tip up next week
Army officials are concerned that skilled computer enthusiasts, and in particular those engaged by hostile military organisations, can hack into military weapons systems and control them remotely, Federal Computer Week reports. The potential exists for hackers to access computerised systems used for navigation and weapons targeting, US Army Information Assurance Program Manager Major Sheryl French explained during a recent military information management conference in Houston, Texas. According to the article, the US Department of Defence (DoD) has established through testing that a malicious hacker could penetrate the control systems of major weapons. According to a Defense Information Systems Agency training CD-ROM, an Air Force officer in a Boston hotel used a laptop computer to break into the computers of a Navy ship at sea, and implanted spurious data in its navigation systems. "This actually happened," the training module warns. "Fortunately, this was only a controlled test to see what could be done. In reality, the type of crime and its objective is limited only by people’s imagination and ability." But not everyone is losing sleep over the dark possibilities of cyber-warfare. Federation of American Scientists (FAS) defence and intelligence analyst John Pike says the threat can easily be exaggerated. Remotely hacking into weapons systems would be extremely difficult under highly-fluid battlefield conditions, Pike believes. "The problem for the enemy is that computer security vulnerabilities will almost certainly prove fleeting and unpredictable," he said. He described the true threat as a matter of random instances of harassment by the enemy. That's fine, so long as they don't gain access to strategic nuclear weapons systems, in which case a random instance of harassment could result in a nightmare of distinctly Biblical proportions. Meanwhile, the same newspaper reports that the US Army, forced to switch to Windows NT a few years back, is forward migrating its servers to systems running Web Star. The functionality may not be as good as NT or Linux, but they break far less easily. ®
FOTWBackground: Phil Haines appears in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's youngest man to travel every country in the world. He runs Live-travel a small bespoke tour operator, which takes people to the likes of North Korea, Iraq and Libya (Yes, really). And he has a regular writing gig at The Independent on Sunday.
The Embedded Linux Consortium, formed recently as a vendor-neutral trade association is intended to provide a Linux-based alternative to Microsoft operating systems like Windows CE and embedded NT. Linus Torvalds has given ELC his blessing. The ELC was proposed by Rick Lehrbaum of LinuxDevices, who runs the PC/104 Consortium, and who will serve as interim chairman. More than 20 companies - notably excluding Microsoft - expressed their support and have pledged sufficient funds to launch ELC. Lehrbaum has a useful background paper on embedded Linux in the current issue of Dr Dobb's Journal, where he draws attention to the acceptability of soft-real time (SRT) Linux, where millisecond responses are sufficient, as in many real-world situations. It would make a great deal of sense for ELC to include in its scope real-time OSes, since some key problems that confront the developers of such systems - rapid hardware evolution, and the need for some standardisation for example - are similar to those facing embedded-OS developers. There is no universal agreement that Linux is necessarily the universal answer for RTOSes, or embedded systems come to that, and although small-footprint and "headless" operation appears to be required at present, this may not be the case in the future - witness embedded NT. It appears to have been overlooked by ELC that their focus should really be on reliable and efficient embedded systems, rather than Linux per se, and that in certain circumstances Unix could be important. This leads us to muse that a better title for the new organisation might be the Embedded and Real-Time Consortium, with a Linux Group within it. Such a solution could solve the problem of the ELC membership fee being a bit steep for small or one-person Linux outfits, by making it possible for them to have a lower-cost membership. By not insisting on Linux, ELC could encourage what Lehrbaum described as the non-Microsoft embedded OS developments to be part of ELC, rather than being a third alienated and fragmented group, especially as at the moment there are fairly few embedded Linux developers. Although it is not intended that ELC will be concerned with standards, it is desirable that reliability measures and certification be developed - and the expertise to achieve this is likely to be found largely in the ELC membership. After all, if such testing were not Linux-specific, Microsoft could be encouraged to submit its products for approval. ®
In a week when ISPs have fallen over themselves to offer flat-fee unmetered access to the Net, one company now claims it wants to pay people to use its service. Supanet -- a subsidiary of Time Computers -- said today it was setting up a trial to examine how people would use the Net if given low-cost unlimited access. A thousands people in Britain are needed for the trial and supanet is also offering £10 to everyone taking part as an added incentive. Alan Randall, director of marketing, said: "We anticipate that many ISPs will not have fully planned for the surge of demand that these offers will create. "Our research will be the first UK study into unmetered Internet access, and will help us to understand the volumes, peaks and destinations that will be the inevitable result of the new internet landscape," he said. If successful, Supanet intends to expand the trial into a fully-fledged service. Net users can register for the trial from Monday at Supafree.com. ®
Confused about which ISPs are offering all-you-can-eat Net access in Britain? Then gorge yourself on The Register's guide to unmetered/flat-fee ISPs. If any ISPs want to be included on the list, please send the details to Tim Richardson and he'll sort it out.
Episode 6BOFH 2000: Episode 6
16 February 2000 Hardware Round-up is back after a couple of days leave of absence: sometimes there just ain't enough Reg staffers to go around. Anyway, here goes for a disktastic day in Hardware Review Land. First up is Storage Review, which takes takes time out to spin the platter with the Quantum Atlas V. This represents a "competent improvement over its predecessor. Improved scores across the board combined with heat and noise levels no worse than the Atlas IV allow it to displace the latter drive as the current 7200rpm SCSI champ". The full review is here. Next on the block is 3D Hardware which has "slapped" a review of Pioneer's "dead fast 10X DVD-ROM. Drives this fast are normally really noisy, but the Pioneer 114 manages really well in this chapter". But let's not forget it's Intel Developer Forum Time: Tech-Review.com certainly hasn't. And boy these guys are fast. Following the Intel demo of the 1.5GHz Willamette, the site has decided to "whip up a quick article outlining the information that is currently available on this new wonder chip". Finally, we mustn't let AMD fans feel left out. BX Boards ever-reliable Andy Drake has posted the first in a first in a series of VIAKX133 mainboards reviews. This is the Epox EP-7KXA Athlon KX133 and it's a goodie, according to Andy. "With voltage tweaks in 0.5v steps, bus speeds from 83Mhz up to 115, support for 133Mhz Front Side Bus and also an asynchronous memory clock, we finally have a viable alternative to the AMD Irongate chipset." 13 February 2000 Some good, hard controversial stuff on Tom's Hardware page a couple of days running. Forgive us for not yet covering it, we've been travelling to the Intel Developer Forum and its minority counterpart the AMD ligs off the Intel Developer Forum. Under these titles there is a deal of controversial stuff: Is AMD covering up bugs and A Titan Falls. The gist of these two pieces, written by different writers, is that AMD does not give the level of detail on errata on its microprocessors that we should expect from such a major player. The second piece discusses whether AMD can topple Intel, and that in unrolling his strategy, Jerry Sanders III has at first given his firm a chance against Chipzilla. To rather more mundane matters. Over at Anandtech, there is a review of the Iwill WSS-133N 810 mobo. A reader has pointed out that if Intel ever gets round to sticking one of those pesky TM letters after the words Flip Chip (FC), it might find itself in a spot of bovver with The Big Q. They point out that according to this page here, the term Flip Chip is a still registered trademark of Digital (Compaq). This is something that Charlie Matco should be interested in they point out. Well how about it Charlie? JC's News points out that 800MHz Pentium III Coppermine parts have started appearing on Pricewatch, suggesting that perhaps the drought is finally coming to a close. ® 11 February 2000 At Tom's Hardware, there is a look at the Platform 2000 conference which happened late last month, and which we were unfortunately unable to attend. This piece looks in some detail at the future of the different memory platforms over the next couple of years. No sooner did AMD release its 850MHz Athlon than Gamer's Depot managed to post a review/preview of the beastie. And Sharky Extreme also rushed to have a look at the Athlon 850MHz part too. Jonathan Hou at Full On3D has posted some information about Joshua. The company will be unleashing it at the massive CeBit show, which starts at the end of February. There's also some information on the SECC-FC PGA transition, which we wrote about a couple of weeks back. (See Intel to make major CuMine stepping April 7). We have an invite to meet Via at CeBIT. ® 9 February 2000 There's a piece here at Super 7 about a goldfinger style device called the Freespeed Pro from a UK outfit called Ninja Micros. It will let you clock until you drop, according to the review. The boy genii at Anand Tech have posted a review of a video card called the Absolute Multimedia Outrageous 3D Graphics GeForce DDR, a cognomen that's so heavy we're surprised it can get up in the morning. Our Brit friends over at BX Boards have posted a review of mobo the Shuttle AV64, a design that makes use of Via's PC-133A chipset. Missed this one out yesterday, but Tom's Hardware has taken a peek at the difference between the Athlon Irongate chipset and the KX-133 from Via, which takes advantage of the Super Bypass. ® 8 February 2000 That's what JC's pages report. You might also care to look at our report, which is here, to find out what Intel is telling its channel partners. AMD Zone's Chris Tom, who lives in Austin and so reads the local press, noticed that Austin American-Statesman, had interviewed Hector Ruiz, who wants to step into AMD's William Jeremiah Sanders III shoes, after a fashion. Lots of other AMD stuff on that site today. Ruiz will not leave his Austin home because, according to the local newspaper, his wife is a hardcore Austinite... Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP, has posted a piece about how to apply a hardware modification to those pesky PPGA boards so they can be used with pesky flip chip things that Intel is now making. And at Sharky Extreme, we see that there's a review of an Asus i820 mobo, with those thar Rambus RIMMs. ® 7 February 2000 At Tom's Hardware Pages there is an article that suggests the Via KX-133 chipset, which supports the AMD Athlon, will give the processor a boost, because it will supersede AMD's Irongate, which has somewhat "damned" the K7. Meanwhile, other hardware sites, including JC, are speculating like mad that the KX-133 in a microATX form factor, could well form the basis of Microsoft's legendary X box, also implying that AMD chips would be in there somewhere. And it's KX-133 everywhere, because Anandtech also has a review of the Via chipset at this page. Over the weekend, both AMD Zone and JCs reported that AMD and Computer Associates will make some type of desktop announcement tomorrow... ® Anandtech has posted a review of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 SDR". Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP points to this Aussie Overclockers Site which we haven't visited before. Here the boys from Down Under take a look at a water cooling radiator. Wow. Ace's Hardware has a lengthy piece here about the K6-2+ with Johan De Gelas describing it as the final upgrade for Super 7. Tom's Hardware Pages takes a look at the Transmeta Crusoe announcements. 3 February 2000 Slot A has a review of a mobo using the new Via KX133 chipset. The boys have also updated their list of Athlon motherboards at this page -- there are now 56 mobos listed. Over at Ars Technica, there is a review of iWill's VD133. This, according to the review is a board that loves being put through overclocking torture. Meanwhile, at Sharky Extreme, there is a review of a Midiland Dolby Digital speaker system. More speaker systems over at CPU Review, where Bill Henning publishes a review of an Altec Lansing system. PC Game reviews the famous Vancouver mobo from Intel here at this page. ® 1 February 2000 At Anand Tech, there's an interview with Mr Shane Long, of Bitboys. The Glaze3D stuff and more are discussed here. At Brit hardware site BX Boards, there's a review of the infamous i810 mobo with a Socket 370 jammed close to its heart. Go over to Sharky Extreme for that site's view of the joint Gigabyte-Matrox mobo cunningly named the GA-MG400, just in case we forget. We know there were quite a lot of unhappy bunnies over at Cyrix when Via bought it last year. And we noticed that on JC's pages there's a X-Cyrix employees page which is a group of former employees looking for work after Via left the US outfit with a skeleton staff.... ® 31 January 2000 There's an interesting article here at Tech Junkie with a Via suit (rather than an Intel legal suit) who suggests that there is no conflict between itself and AMD because it is doing low-end chips, while Tyrranazilla is making performance processors for the desktop. Via regards AMD as one of its strategic partners, and it is certainly true that the latter's roadmap is chock full'o chipsets from the Taiwanese company. However, it just could be that this is a marriage of convenience. At AMD Zone, word comes that the K6-2 533MHz is a shipping in old Akihabara. JC's Pages point to a benchmarketing opinion piece, as well as to the Tech Junkie piece, above. Sharky Extreme took time out to visit Platform 2000 in San Jose last week. This link looks in detail at what was about. Lastly, but certainly by no means leastly, take a look at PGA 370, a site which not only looks at the CuMine stepping we discussed over the weekend, but also asks some questions about symmetric multiprocessing, which, according to the site, seems to have been disabled in some Flippy Chippy Pentium III combos. ® 28 January 2000 The boys at Full On 3D take a decko here at the Razer Boomslang 2000. This is a high resolution mouse. Why do you need one? Well, this site reckons that there's a "degree of smoothness" that other mice only aspire to. And if you need a surface for the mouse, there's always the Ratpadz, which you can find at Hard OCP. Sharky Extreme has written part two of a series on the audio-video products it saw at the Computer Electronics Show. Go here for the lowdown. Noticed a link from Anandtech to Target PC, a site that we haven't visited before. Here there is a review of the IBM PC camera. Video killed the radio star. And another new reference, to us at least. Here, at Gamer's Depot, there is a review of the new Gigabyte Athlon board, the GA-71X. ® 27 January 2000 At Aces Hardware, there's a piece about the AMD K6-2+ and the last possible gig for a Super Socket Seven jig. There's a review of an Asus Camino based board at Hardware One. Anandtech is looking here at the Diamond Monster Sound MX400 card. Kyle Bennett reviews The Maximizer at this page. This uses the so-called gold fingers on an AMD Athlon to make the chip scream for its life and go that tad faster. And here there is a review of a Viewsonic monitor. ® 25 January 2000 JC refers to a story on Asian wire which claims Taiwanese firms are being forced to buy Intel processors on the black market. Tom's Hardware Page is pursuing a Battle of the Titan's theme, and has just posted its third piece, looking at three cards. Our friends at Ars Technica have posted a review of the Athlon 750 at this page. And OGR has posted a review of the Athlon 800. Who knows, you might see a review of an Athlon on The Register soon enough. Anandtech has posted a review of the Nvidia Quadro DDR graphics card here. The card comes with 64 meg of mem and according to the boys it's a cool piece of kit. ® 24 January 2000 CPU Review has applied Linux to the Cold Fusion 1GHz Athlon box it has had for review, with excellent results, according to editor Bill Henning. There's a review here at Anandtech of one of those zooty boards whch use the Intel 810E chipset. This is a Supermicro mobo -- you may recall that some PC manufacturers have complained that the i810e chipset is not what it could be, and Intel is expected to announce an answer very soon now with the i815-II. Meanwhile, word comes from Japanese reader Battlax that Supermicro's mobo using the i840 chipset has now become available. Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP has had his Ratpadz reviewed in a couple of places. There's one here at Tech Report. We had two samples of this mouse pad delivered to Vulture Central last Friday and have put it through its paces. The nine pads on its base certainly give a whole lot more stability to this pad than those cheapo give-away ones you see everywhere, that's for sure. And there does seem to be a lot more grip between the mouse-ball and the large surface, which seems to be made of some substance brought to earth courtesy of the aliens found at Roswell. The IT Network has posted a review of ATI's Rage Fury Maxx. The review says that the high end gaming card is a worthy contender in the graphics battle. Meanwhile, Sharky Extreme has posted a review of the Diamond Viper 2, which the site says has good price/performance features. ® 21 January 2000 That's what Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP reckons in this piece. Basically, it's a way of getting all the heat out of your box and into the ambience. Yeah, one time we had an 1MHz Acorn Atom and its 6502 CPU ran so hot it melted the plastic case onto itself. A hacksaw job, that. A little while since we visited Ars Technica -- sorry about that folks. This link points to a review of a case, but the site is well worth bookmarking and looking at regularly. Blues News wouldn't go down well in Brazil. Subtitled All the Carnage that's Fit to Post, the site has up to date news on PC games that would make a pacifist quiver. Interested in Nvidia technology? Check out Riva Station, which is a German and English site and has some great information on 3D graphics. ® 20 January 2000 Hard OCP is reporting that AMD has hired lawyers to put pressure on dealers selling overclocked Athlons. According to Kyle Bennett, AMD claims that its copyright and patents are being violated by such actions. Overclockin has posted a piece about scraping layers off Celeron processors to get better performance out of the chip. The technique is called Sanding the Slug. And because Celerons are now so cheap, it probably won't kill your wallet if you get it wrong once or twice. The IT Network has a useful review of the Athlon 800MHz, in which it notes inadequate cache. Here's the conclusion... "In terms of performance, the Athlon 800 does not exhibit a commanding lead over a Pentium III of the same speed. The processor is also expensive. Users wanting more bang for buck might want to wait for the next generation of Athlons with integrated L2 cache". The full review can be found and linked at http://www.itnetwork.com/article4259. There's a link from Anandtech to a review, at Storage Review of Western Digital's Caviar WD205BA hard drive. 18 January 2000 There are no AMD referrals in the roundup today. It's a little while since we've been to Firing Squad, which covers games extensively, but also as a matter of course, the hardware that makes them fizz. Today, the site is loking at the Asus P3C2000 mobo. It's got i820 support, and that's a contentious issue at the worst of times. Tech prodigy Anand Lal has a review of the brand new 533MHz Celeron up on his site. We've heard whispers about fans on Celerons being dependent on the software that's powering a PC. Anything in that, folks? Sharky Extreme, to mix our bird metaphors, is taking a gander at the Guillemot 3D Prophet DDR-DVI. The $300 DDR box offers support for flat panel displays and LCD projectors. Kyle Bennett, at Hard OCP, is reporting that someone threatened his Pentium III-550 with a good headbutting until it overclocked to "an easy" 807MHz. See. Got through the entire thing and only mentioned AMD twice, at the beginning and the end... ® 17 January 2000 A hardware review on Cnet claims that Dell's 733MHz Coppermine based XPS system is a disappointing buy. Go here for the reviewer's comparison. And at Slot A, there's a review of the Asus K7 Athlon motherboard that was missing in Cyberspace for so long last year. Tech Report has a piece here on an Athlon level two cache speed control beta. And if it's TNT benchmarchitecture that you're after, Kyle Bennett at his Hard OCP site here has the dirt. We're going to take a look at all the overclocking sites we can find sometime this week, but in the meantime check out this 3D Cool, which keeps your beer cool if you've got a stack that need keeping cool... Over, briefly, to UK site 3D Now, which we hadn't noticed before. Plenty of info on PC platforms there. Please keep your suggestions coming -- we want to look at as many new ones as we can... ® 14 January 2000 We haven't looked at Kick Ass Gear before, but wish we had. This page shows you how you can take an innocent 466MHz Intel Celeron and make it scream 525MHz at you. Some other very good stuff here too. And on the same subject (kicking ass), wonder how the Brazilian government is getting on with the ban on vicious games it imposed just before Christmas? As long as it's still possible to access the Internet there in Bahia, it's going to be pretty hard to police, especially with sites like Kick Ass around, which on its front page has the Top 40 games demos Brazilians can download. Some folk have wondered why we haven't visited Aces Hardware for a good old while. This was not unrelated to a spat we got into with some guy who got very cross with The Register about 15-16 months back. But now Johan is there, we're sure we're on talking terms with them again. This piece here is about budget Athlon systems. ® 13 January 2000 The boys at AMD Zone have had a busy day of it. Aside from the fact that they've put together a piece on the AMD super bypass function at their Slot A site, they have also posted figures which suggest that AMD Athlons have already had their prices slashed, ahead of the official date of the 23rd of January. A .25 micron 500MHz Athlon now costs $173 (less than a brand new Intel Celeron), while the 600MHz part costs $249, the boys say. Anand Lal Shimpi at Anandtech has got his screwdriver out and reviewed the ELSA ERAZOR X2 DDR GeForce video card. At Sharky Extreme, there's a look at a PC case. A case, you wonder? Well, we do agree with Sharky that a well-designed case makes all the difference between a sweat-free build and a complete nightmare. Some of the cases out there can give you the equivalent of the death of a 1000 cuts. Another bug in the Intel Copper-Nein? That's what JC Pages are reporting. This time, it's to do with moving stuff around the MMX registers. According to the piece, Intel says it will have a fix in the erratumnotbug later on. Know of any other hardware sites we should be scanning? Or have you posted something on your own hardware site that would be interesting to our readers? Drop us a line here and we'll have a look at the pages. While we're inordinately fond of the usual suspects we cover, we're happy to look at others... ® 11 January 2000 At JC's news, there is speculation that giant Intel distributor Dell may report an earnings shortfall, following Gateway's announcements last week. If this report is correct, we still anticipate that the last domino amongst the major PC vendors will have internal psychological problems forcing itself to use AMD Athlons. Slot A, part of the AMD Zone empire, is reporting that its list of mobos supporting the Athlon has now overclocked the 50 mark. Like portals? How about this new Hardware Portal, which appears to be part of the Anandtech empire and opened last week. The CPU Review has posted a review of the Sys Cold Fusion 1GHz system. And at Sharky Extreme there's also a review of a 1GHz Sys Cold Fusion system. ® 10 January 2000 Despite predictions over the weekend that Gateway would announce the availability of PCs using Athlon today, the techies/marketeers seem to have jumped the gun, as witnessed by this Gateway page. Thanks to AMD Zone for the tip. We expect Gateway to announce PCs with Athlons today.... (Sure enough, AMD posted a press release to that effect on Businesswire when the US woke up this morning). See also Gateway to use AMD because of Intel chip famine Kyle "Clockin" Bennett takes a look here at an old piece of HP kit called the Panaflo Orb which apparently can be used to torture Slot One processors beyond their limit of clock endurance. Something a little different and Bootnotish here. On CNNDOTCOM -- a TV channel -- last night, there was a piece of puffery about Jim Clarke, he of SGI, Netscape and shutterby.com, showing him on his high tech boat. He is saying what we said a couple of years back -- expect to see the price of silver drop through the floor when the whole world moves away from the old film media. When we first met Jim nearly 10 years ago, he was on crutches after tripping over a hatch on his boat...and he was not in a good mode. Be that as it may, take a look at the Digital Photography Review, a site we haven't visited before, which has all the news about the up-and-coming market... The overclockers at Overclockin claim they have tested a D-Link 10MB network kit using a couple of NICs and a phone line. Lastly, not leastly, look at this Sharky Extreme review of the 533MHz Celeron, one of the last of its kind before the gulag catches up with the 66MHz front side bus... ® 7 January 2000 At PC Presence, a French site, there is a review of the part. Expect to see many more of these on the hardware sites RSN. JC has spent time typing K7-800 into the Pricewatch pages and getting the result $899 for AMD and nothing for the Pentium III-800. At Full on 3D there's a link to the Wu Name generator, which is fun. Perhaps not as much fun as the Jamaican version of The Register found online, but still a gas. At WuName, you type in your first and last name and you then get Wu'd. Examples: Drew Cullen is the Flippant She-Creature, Mike Magee translates to The Prickly Comedian, and Linda Harrison becomes The Big Wicker Ventriloquist... Bill Henning at CPU Review has posted some scientific data on the old Athlon... ® 6 January 2000 You've undoubtedly noticed that one of the sites that we regularly look at is AMD Zone. But yesterday we received an email from Chris Tom, who with his brother runs this and also the Slot A site. He was a little puzzled and perturbed to have learned of another AMD Zone in the UK. Certainly the similarities between the two sites are somewhat uncanny... c't is reporting on this page that Motorola may well enter the 1GHz desperation derby as a runner and rider with its G4 microprocessor. Get your Lernhowtospell & Hauspie or Babelish out if you don't read German. Sharky Extreme has started writing about the Apple Macintosh platform. We hadn't visited Wim's Bios Page before. But we have now. Very good Bios information and links to other places here. And one of the links from the site above is to the PC Disk pages. Wanna know about jumper settings, need utilities and the like? Check it out... ® 5 January 2000 At Full On3D, there's a picture of a design for Socket A, which will be used by AMD and its customers for the low cost version of the Athlon due out during the course of this year. And while we're on this subject of slots and sockets, weren't both Intel and AMD saying a few years back that to achieve the better speeds that their chip technology would offer, the processors needed to be mounted on slots. So what was all that about then? Marchitecture? At JC News, there's a benchmark of Athlon's Bypass function running under Linux and contributed by a Swiss techie. According to AMD Zone, the K6-III is not just resting, as the firm said yesterday, but is instead writhing around in its death throes, with the K6-2+ poised to deliver the coup de grace. Tech Report has taken an Athlon 800, kicked it up the butt and made it clock at 900MHz. This site is well worth a look for other Athlon clocking madness. Kyle "Clocking" Bennett at Hard OCPhas word of a Soft FSB program that lets you change your system bus on the fly. And while we're on the Kyle topic, check out this entry on the name from Brewster's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: "Kyle for a man, Carrick for a coo (cow) Cunningham for butter, Galloway for woo' (wool) Kyle, a strong corn-growing soil; Carrick, a wild hilly portion, only fit for feeding cattle; Cunningham, a rich dairy land and Galloway, long famous as pastoral country." ® 4 January 2000 The winner of today's Hardware Review's Instant win a Register baseball cap competition is Paul Felsheim. In answer to the question "where does Kyle's (as in Kyle Bennett, the supposed Texan of HardOCP renown) name come from, Paul was the first to pin-point its origins in "the Gaelic 'caol' meaning narrow. It is often used in the study of an area's surface to denote a narrow strait or channel - particularly in SCOTLAND". You might think Paul is a girly swot, but he's got a Register baseball cap. Unlike two entrants who got there before him - with the wrong answers. Sorry, but "his mother" will not do... how do you know Kyle wasn't adopted? Also, the reader who suggested that Kyle is Aboriginal for boomerang. We always thought boomerang was Aboriginal for boomerang. We also think you are confusing Kyle (male techie) with the wonderful Kylie Minogue(all-round Australian sex goddess). You should be so lucky, For what it's worth, The name Kylie is reputed to be an(not the Aboriginal word for boomerang. This may even be true -- there are, after all, several Australian aboriginal languages.
A massive splash of press releases from graphics chip firm Nvidia at the current WinHEC 2000 conference in New Orleans has revealed the extent of the firm's egregious assault on the graphics market. It has secured a raft of design wins with top PC OEMs -- including the Dell Corporation -- to use its GeForce2 GTS graphic processing units (GPUs) in its products. And that is not the least of it, according to Nvidia. Gateway, HP, Compaq, Creative Labs, MicronPC, Elsa and a whole load of other PC manufacturers committed to the platform. Even NEC joined in the Nvidia party. The anti-aliasing abilities of Nvidia helps the firm's chip technology grow in the market, a company statement added. The GPU (not the GPO,, OK?) offers shading and a whole heap of other features which can be found on Nvidia's Web site. Will Intel be interested in buying Nvidia? We should cocoa. It still has a heap of issues with all sorts of graphics firms. ®
Relief all round at Symbian as the first company not holding shares in the outfit inks a deal for software to run its next generation mobiles. Sony suits today extolled the virtues of Symbians EPOC OS in London as it revealed its plans for 'Entertainment' cellphones coming to a store near you next year. The new Sony phones will feature email, MP3 music, video and IP broadcast technology, plus the ability to send video and still pictures, first shipments promised for 2001. Symbian CEO Colly Myers refused to be drawn on whether Sony would join Ericsson, Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia and Psion as shareholders in Symbian: "It's possible there will be other shareholders, we're keeping an open mind." Also smiling at the press conference was Texas Instruments, whose 0.10 micron technology DSP chips will be at the heart of the new phones. ®
Bill Gates was touting his future plans for the PC in a speech at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2000 yesterday. Speaking at the Morial Convention Centre in New Orleans, Gates ignored Microsoft's financial and structural woes to discuss the software company's technology plans. "Our commitment is to provide software that is going to deliver on all the advanced scenarios," he said. He concentrated on the consumer market, but also talked about improvements to the reliability and scalability of Windows 2000 – saying he believed this operating system would be crucial in the convergence of voice, video and data networking. Gates urged hardware vendors to build systems that supported technology for better images and music via the PC. He forecast: "We're going to start to see the microphone built into every PC", and that voice chat would be "an explosive application". Microsoft Network plans to bring out a voice chat offering in the next few months. He stressed that another important feature of future machines would be quick boot time, and compared the forthcoming Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows ME, to rivals from Sony and Apple. Gates said the company had got the boot time for Windows ME down to 25 seconds, against the Sony PlayStation – which boots in 33 seconds, and the iMac – one minute and ten seconds. Microsoft also announced the creation of an Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group to be headed by VP Bill Veghte. This group will be responsible for all the embedded platforms, tools and marketing efforts within Microsoft, with products and technologies stamped with a single brand name: Windows Powered. The company said it expected Windows CE 3.0 to be widely available from June. ® Related stories Micro$oft promises an OS-embedded world Micro$oft shares clobbered on breakup rumours Paul Allen nearly divested of Micro$oft stock
The World Online saga has reached a new phase: the wrath of Dutch investors in the less-than-successful floatation of the Rotterdam-based World Online last month has turned from being directed against former chairman Nina Brink to the ABN AMRO bank's role (and that of Goldman Sachs). Now that the first 30 days of trading are over - during this period, the banks had special responsibilities for managing the shares and say they were prevented from commenting - a better picture is emerging of what happened, and aggrieved shareholders have a blood lust. Dutch accounts accuse AEX of "showing its teeth but not biting", although there is no mistaking the ferocity of the punters who have lost out - including World Online staff who took up loans from the company to buy shares. Possibly fearing a market collapse, the banks wanted the float to go ahead quickly. However, AEX, the Amsterdam exchanges, threatened to stop the 2.9 billion euro float because of Brink's pre-selling of most of her holding to San Francisco-based Baystar Capital. As a result, ABN AMRO threatened an injunction against AEX. In typical Dutch fashion, a compromise was arranged after AEX had seen more documents, which showed that Baystar had not agreed to a lock-up agreement to keep its shares for a time, as is usual in such situations - and indeed, was an aggressive seller from day one. The initial price of World Online was 43 euros, and although they rose briefly on the first day to 51, they ended the day back at 43, and have now sunk to around 13 euros. In December, Brink sold her shares for $60 million, valuing them at just 6 euros each, with $35 million going to her Swiss bank account. AEX wanted Brink to lock up the shares transferred to Baystar, and $25 million being her participation in Baystar. She agreed to an extra lockup arrangement on shares she still controlled, and this was put in the prospectus. As a result of an apparent deficiency in Dutch law, it was not necessary for Brink's shareholding to be disclosed in the prospectus. ABN AMRO chairman J Kalff was in denial, saying he was sure of the "correctness and care in the prospectus", although shareholders are claiming that European law requires disclosure. Kalff did not help when he added that he "didn't regret anything" and that "next time we'll do it in exactly the same way". Aggrieved shareholders are claiming that they were mislead because the prospectus said she "transferred" instead of "sold" her shares to Baystar, but this argument appears to be rather feeble. There must be some doubt as to whether any of those making the claim actually read the document: they were in it in the expectation that the float would be initially successful, and wanted a quick euro. Well, like the euro's recent performance, their bet failed. Brink is a Dutch tax exile living in Brasschaat, Belgium, a country favoured by many of the Dutch super-rich. Brink has hardly advanced the cause of female IT executives, but nor has ABN AMRO helped the reputation of Dutch banking. ®
That bastion of the UK establishment, the Financial Times, ran a letter on Saturday, April 15 from one Christopher Grey of New York consulting outfit Zodiac Consulting Partners. Grey expressed concern that Psion's share price had dropped 666 pence on the London Stock Exchange (on April 11) and predicted the imminent death and destruction of all day traders in the forthcoming deluge. Alarm bells ringing, we tried to contact the mysterious Man in Grey. Google failed us. When directory enquiries failed to come up with a number for the firm, we tried the letters page at the FT. "Er, yes, we know the company doesn't exist," explained an embarrassed staffer. "But it's a great letter so we thought we'd run it anyway." ®
Broadline distributor Computer 2000 has announced a number of switches in management – including a new UK MD. Julian Klein has been promoted from commercial director and deputy MD to replace Graeme Watt as head of the company in the UK. Watt will take on the wider role of regional MD, with responsibility for Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Klein will still report to Watt in the UK. Klein took over from Andy Gass in January of this year – he had rejoined Computer 2000 the previous May after a two year absence from the company spent at Apple UK and Xerox. The company has not yet found a replacement commercial director. Other changes announced today include Alice Smitheman, who has been promoted to the board as director of Datech 2000 – the distributor's CAD division – and replaces Simon Weeks. Smitheman was previously general manager for PC Systems at Computer 2000. Gary Fowle has been poached from Sony to replace Smitheman, and Andrew Kelly is due to join the Basingstoke business as peripherals general manager from spare parts distributor EAD on May 2. ®
Ingram Micro UK has finally filed its accounts for 1998 and revealed losses of more than £5 million. The UK arm of the distributor recorded a pre-tax loss of £5.1 million for the year ended 31 December 1998, against profits of almost £4 million the previous year. Sales were up 11 per cent at £546 million. The company, which was six months overdue in filing its accounts at Companies House, blamed the losses on "exceptional write-offs related to inventory obsolescence and vendor receivables". According to an Ingram representative, product obsolescence accounted for a write-off £2.4 million, while "vendor receivables" cost the company around £1 million. Back in October, Ingram Micro president for Europe, Greg Spierkel, blamed old management mistakes for the company's UK financial woes, describing the year as "a write-off". In Ingram UK related news, the company said it planned to move its warehouse and operations facilities to the DIRFT Logistics Par near Milton Keynes by September. Its two facilities are currently divided between sites at Wymbush and Brinklow in Milton Keynes. ® Related Stories Ingram late filing results Ingram upbeat despite profit slip
You may not be able to actually get hold of it just yet, and there may not be any actual applications, but technology moves so fast these days that WAP has already become a success (claims of "fastest-ever consumer uptake" haven't appeared just yet though). According to IDC, the mobile data market for Western Europe is on the brink of a massive explosion (it's a miracle we aren't all suffering from shell shock considering the number of explosions we've faced in the last few years alone). WAP is to be the main driver for this mobile data juggernaut as it speeds down the information superhighway before stopping at a travel tavern for a cup of coffee and some soggy sandwiches. Apparently, the "youth market" will spark off interest and business users will get all sweaty and excited at the end of the year with the launch of high-speed data services. The report pointed out that WAP has been criticised as an interim technology, but makes the point that the Pentium II and Windows 95 were also interims. Text messaging is on to a winner as well, but will be surpassed by more efficient services in a few years. Mobile commerce will be a niche market for a few more years, but will be "potentially huge" (a worth-in-2004 figure for you: $37 billion). Two sets of other good figures: percentage of people in Western Europe using SMS messaging and WAP by next year - 21.1 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively; by 2004, these are 36.2 and 13.1 per cent respectively. So now you know. Related Stories Wap is easy - but gadget geeks only need apply Wap really is useful