17th > May > 2000 Archive

Leak! Human rights in China? Pah, says Intel

Mighty global corporation Intel is fervently behind the normalisation of trade with Red China, and is putting its considerable muscle behind a lobbying group which wants the US Congress to just say 'yes' on 22 May 22. As part of our continuing efforts to allow journalists to ask the right questions, we print below an internal Intel document which outlines the official view and also gives the answers to the questions you might not have thought about yet. Here we go... Intel Confidential May 15, 2000 IM Alert: China Trade/Congressional Vote, Rev. 0 Background On May 22, 2000 the United States Congress is voting on the China Permanent Normal Trade Relations. Intel strongly supports the bilateral agreement and supports permanent normalization of trade with China. In the coming weeks Intel will work with the China Business Coalition, a group of nearly 200 other companies which have supported open trade with China. The Coalition will launch a nation-wide campaign to communicate to congress and the public the importance of this issue beginning tomorrow with newspaper press and a links from www.intel.com. As Intel's support for this agreement becomes clear we can anticipate some front-line contacts. There are no reporting requirements at this time. Please use the reactive Q&A below to answer inquiries on this matter. There are no reporting requirements at this time. Please refer customers to the Intel web site (to be published later) or use the reactive Q&As below to answer inquiries on this matter Please contact Roger Chang immediately if there are additional questions that the Q&A does not address. Roger Chang can be contacted at 408-765-5504, pager 888-749-6982, or on email --Roger C Chang-- for questions or clarifications. Intel Confidential China Trade/Congressional Vote Questions and Answers Prepared by Chuck Mulloy January 17, 2000 Background The recent turmoil surrounding the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle has emboldened organized labor to fight congressional approval the recent bilateral trade agreement between the United State and China. Congress grant permanent normalization of trade relations (PNTR) between the U.S. and China before the agreement becomes effective. Currently congress must annually review and approve normal trade relations. Major labor leaders have declared their opposition and intend to force congress to reject the treaty. Intel strongly supports the bilateral agreement and supports permanent normalization of trade with China. In the coming weeks Intel will work with the China Business Coalition, a group of nearly 200 other companies which have supported open trade with China. The Coalition will launch a nation-wide campaign to communicate to congress and the public the importance of this issue. This Q & A is for reactive purposes. Refer press inquiries to Chuck Mulloy (408) 765-3484. Key Messages: Intel believes Congress should approve the bilateral trade agreement with China in implement permanent normalization of trade. The approval of the bilateral agreement will help move China into the global trading community and provide greater access to Chinese markets and help create export-related jobs in the United States. Trade and technology have been the driving force behind the current economic growth in the U.S. and we believe opening the Chinese market will help to fuel continued growth. The U.S. market is already open to China. But China which has the world's largest population is not open to the U.S. The approval of the bilateral agreement open's (sic) the Chinese markets to U.S. products. We believe within the next three years China will be the second largest PC and integrated circuit market in the world. 60 percent of Intel's sales come from international markets yet more than 70 percent of our employees are located in the United States. Intel is the third largest U.S. exporter as a percentage of total sales. Questions and Answers: Q1: What is Intel's position on the resumption of normal trading relations with China? A1: Intel supports permanent normal trading relations with China. China is the world's second largest market for high tech products and Intel believes we should have access to that market. This access helps create export-related jobs in the U.S. Q2: Organized labor, The AFL-CIO, the teamsters and others have vowed to force congress to reject the bilateral agreement. What are Intel's plans? A2: Intel will join with other companies through the China Business Coalition to convince members of congress that normal trade relations will benefit the U.S. economy and U.S. workers. Q3: Why is the issue important to Intel? A3: The Chinese semiconductor market is currently estimated at more than $8 billion and it is growing rapidly. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association China could become the world's second largest semiconductor market by the year 2010. This represents a major export opportunity for U.S. semiconductor manufacturers. The recent bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China addresses virtually all of the key barriers to trade such as tariffs on high tech products, restrictions on investments, and restrictions on direct product distribution. The agreement also provides a mechanism for enforcing China's trade agreement. Q4: How do you respond to those critics who say China's human rights track record does warrant the normalization of trade relations? A4: We believe that much more can be achieved by working with the Chinese government than by isolating them. For example, Intel has an assembly and test facility in China. It is becoming a model for environmental management and control. In China we use the exact same methods for environmental health and safety controls as we use in the United States Q5: The opponents of the China trade agreement have a host of issues with China such as workers rights issues, environmental issues and human rights issues. They say that normalization of trade removes any leverage the U.S. may have to get the Chinese government to address these issues. What's your view of these assertions? A5: China is a sovereign nation and ultimately we don't have the ability to dictate their behavior. However, these issues are valid topics for discussion but we believe there are other forums which would be more appropriate to address these kinds of issues. For example the International Labor Organization would be a more appropriate organization to address workers rights. The WTO was created to deal with trade issues not labor issues. Q6: What activities will the CBC be undertaking in its program to gain congressional approval? A6: The companies in the CBC will be engaging in an educational program to help congress understand how important this issue is the U.S. companies and their employees. The CBC's focus will be to accent the interests of American citizen's and their employers as it relates to trade Q7: What sort of operations does Intel have in China? A7: Yes. We have a $200 million assembly test facility in Pudong, Shanghai and a research and development center in Beijing. That center is focused on development of Chinese speech and language technology. Ultimately that development effort can help improve speech recognition for other languages. We also have investments in some local companies, Sohu, SPS, YKSoft, Supresoft and Superdata. Q8: Organized Labor claims they effectively shut down the WTO talks in Seattle and that they will be equally effective in convincing congress not to approve the China agreement. What is your view of this claim? A8: We're somewhat puzzled by the labor's position on the China issue. The U.S. has dropped its trade barriers and the agreement with China will drop their barriers. In our view this creates a level playing field, which will help create U.S., based export jobs. We are confident that we can educate Congress to approve the agreement. This past summer Congress overwhelmingly approved the annual NTR agreement with China. Clearly they understand the economic impact of their decision. Q9: One issue for labor unions is the fact that they don't want to compete with the low hourly wages of Chinese workers. They maintain they'll lose that battle every time. What's your reaction to that? A9: The US worker needs to meet foreign competition with productivity and technology . However, the U.S. work force is unfairly harmed when competitors dump products below costs or subsidize industries to improve their productivity. The agreement with China prohibits dumping and government subsidies on products but instead encourages competition on areas like design and productivity. Roger Chang Issue Manager Issue Prevention & Management Intel Corporation So now you know. ®
Mike Magee, 17 May 2000

Helen Thomas resigns as Moonies buy UPI

Breaking NewsBreaking News White House press corps Dean and permanent fixture Helen Thomas resigned her post with the United Press International (UPI) wire service, for which she worked for 57 years, on news that a Unification Church affiliate - which also owns the transparently Right-Wing Washington Times newspaper - has bought UPI. In the past, UPI has employed such paragons of journalistic integrity as Walter Cronkite, Howard K Smith, David Brinkley and Eric Sevareid. Moonie front company News World Communications, established by Unification Church head-lunatic Sun Myung Moon, "plans to maintain UPI as an independent news-gathering operation, while upgrading its capacity with new technologies and distribution practices," UPI flacks dutifully claimed. The 79-year-old Thomas, who has covered eight US presidents in forty years and earned a reputation for throwing the hardest of hardball questions during most White House press conferences, would rather not test the assertion, apparently. She announced her resignation Tuesday. Her seat in the White House press room was unoccupied Tuesday as White House flack Joe Lockhart ran through the daily press briefing. "Speaking for myself, this room will not be the same without Helen sitting in the UPI chair," Lockhart noted. The financially-ailing wire service has suffered much since its halcyon days in the 50s and 60s, changing hands repeatedly in the past two decades. In 1982 the Scripps Howard newspaper chain paid two Tennessee entrepreneurs $5 million to take it off their hands. The two inexperienced investors eventually filed for bankruptcy. UPI then changed hands three more times, from a Mexican publisher, to a California venture capitalist, and finally, in 1992, to a group of Saudi businessmen. Dean Thomas, arguably, single-handedly spared UPI the ignominious end it so doggedly sought in the hands of rank amateurs, and sustained its credibility as a respectable news source. The Register's Washington Bureau deeply regrets the loss. ®
Thomas C Greene, 17 May 2000

So how much is Boo.com worth?

Boo.com is facing collapse, following the failure to complete a $30 million refinancing round, the FT reports. This could force the online sportswear retailer to call in the receivers within 48 hours, according to "people close to the company," cited by the paper. So what price the URL, if Boo.com (the firm) folds? The domain name is memorable enough, but tainted by a whiff of failure. An interesting pricing dilemma. Of course, Boo.com the company could always pull the rabbit out of the hat. But it looks increasingly like the bag of tricks is empty. Where's a company doctor, when you need one? So what next? Effectively, the options are: trade buyer or death. A third option - restructure as an independent entity - looks unviable. Otherwise, Boo.com's investors would have coughed up the money by now. Any which road, Boo.com's VC investors will nurse a hefty loss - Boo.com was Europe's biggest Internet start-up, with $200 million or so raised in the first financing-raising round, from, among others, Europ@Web, Goldman Sachs. At least, it's the smart money that gets it in the neck, this time. Boo's execution was obviously crocked - over-complicated Web site, huge delays in launching, expensive and crap TV advertising, ramping up staffing too early (and so increasing the cash burn). This means that it was never near ready to float on the stock market and suck in the dumb retail investing hordes. From the off, The Register has questioned Boo.com's strategy. On 18 November, last year we wrote: "This bring us to Boo.com, the extravagently funded Web sportswear retailer, which opened six months late, but in time for Christmas. "On launch day a couple of weeks back, an FT article revealed Boo.com's decision not to sell clothes at a discount. We use the word decision lightly - Boo.com had to agree to sell clothes at list price, or else it wouldn't get manufacturer franchises. This sucks. That ain't Rip-Off Britain - that's Rip-Off World. "Boo says it will distinguish itself by the quality of its service. Will that be enough? We don't think so. Imagine how far Amazon would have got if it sold all its books at list price. Does anyone think Amazon is downmarket because you can get a bargain or two there. Boo will find the going much tougher because of its falling into line behind rip-off manufacturers." NeverNeverland And on November 29, under the headline: 'Consumers reject clothes shopping online', we said: "With a fair wind and 200 million VC money behind you, anything is possible. Or so you would think. "But what if you're flogging clothes over the Net, as Boo.com, the extravagantly-funded sportswear purveyor, is trying to do. You can tell it's got heaps of money - or how else could it afford those incomprehensible ads currently on British TV. "But will it get heaps of customers? "In a interesting piece comparing e-tailers with their bricks and mortar counterparts, star Sunday Times business columnist Irwin Stelzer digs up a survey that will be of great interest to Boo.com's backers. "Compiled by NPD, a US market research firm, it show that "e-tailers have a long way to go to crack their bricks and mortar rivals on the clothing market. Nearly half of Net users say they will never buy clothing online and those who are willing to make such purchases seem to concentrate on a few speciality clothiers and on shops that they patronise offline. "Good news for Gap, in other words, and not so good news for Boo.com." Boo.com laid off 70 staff after Christmas. But it still employs 300 or so. On the bright side, these people will bring a wealth of expensively won Internet economy skills to whatever jobs lie ahead of them. ® Related Story Brave Boo.com battling on
Drew Cullen, 17 May 2000

AOL, IBM team up to sell electricity and gas

AOL and IBM are jumping into the deregulated US utility market. The pair are both allies in what they've called - with more than a nod to Prince - The New Power Company, created today with Enron, an energy wholesaler and broadband comms provider based in Houston Texas. Enron is building a national fibre optic network stateside based on IP, EIN (Enron Intelligent Network) and has inked a deal with Sun to provide infrastructure suitable for serving up broadband ASP services. It has spent much of this year talking up what it describes in its SEC filings as "the marketing and management of bandwidth" Bandwidth trading, in other words, using the same techniques it uses for gas or electricity to create say peak/off peak pricing for ISPs. The company also sees a business in "the delivery of high-bandwidth media rich content such as video streaming, high capacity data transport and video conferencing" although revenues for this are so far negligible. And among the four senior Enron VPs joining the NPC is its erstwhile Veep of Risk Management. We can't be sure if AOL is an investor - although there's a pretty strong hint in the launch statement - but the NPC has said it will promote the service to AOL customers and AOL will also offer billing services, with IBM the exclusive back-office billing provider. It's too early to tell whether Enron can tame the nascent trading market by bringing AOL onside - it's the largest ISP and as such, one of its biggest customers. But the benefits for AOL, assuming further vertical bandwidth alliances can escape regulatory censure, are obvious enough. Enron has a short, but intriguing history in the UK. The company is entering the retail energy business too and owns Wessex Water and what used to be ICI's Wilton gas plant on Teesside. It also bought space at New Labour fund-raising jamborees. In 1997 Amnesty International censured the company for beating women protesters at a joint venture between Bechtel, Enron and GE in India's Maharashtra state. ® Register Fact No. 857 ICI's Teesside headquarters are known locally as the Wilton Hilton, and Teessiders known colloquially as smog-monsters. If you've been there, you'll know why. Prominent smog-monsters include comedians Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Roy "Chubby" Brown and Brian Clough; Oracle's Mark Jarvis, and our own Annie Kermath. Link The New Power Company
Annie Kermath, 17 May 2000

Women, mainstream feed Brit Net boom

A third of adults in Britain now use the Net - compared to a quarter just three months ago - according to the latest survey from Continental Research. The surge in new usage is due partly to a rise in the number of women coming online, plus a greater interest in the Net from mainstream users. Although 14 million adults now access the Net from home, work or school/college at least once a month, more than that, 21 million (45 per cent) people have Net access - whether they choose to use it or not. According to Continental Research's Internet 2000 Quarter 2 Report, those who are about to come online have already decided what they want to do when they do get hooked-up to the Web. Banking, buying a car and shopping online for groceries are top of the list for this new batch of savvy Net wannabes. Colin Shaddick, director of Continental Research, said: "These figures indicate that those coming on-line later this year are bullish about what the Internet is going to offer them, and are interested in tapping the Internet's potential. "It will be interesting to examine if their expectations are matched by reality, and whether usage of these functions will increase over the next year," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 May 2000

BT expels ADSL triallist

BT has defended its decision to expel one of its ADSL users after it claimed the triallist flouted the service's terms and conditions. MR Toker (aka Alp) - who has been on the BTinteractive ADSL trial in North London since 1998 - claimed BT's actions were heavy handed. "They [BT] are clearly breaching a triallist's freedom of speech. They are attempting to penalise me for practising my rights," he said. In a letter to Alp dated 3 April 2000, BT said: "We have permanently ceased your ADSL connection as a result of the material contained on your site at: www.btinternet.com/~atoker/doc/bti/bti.html "This gives instructions on how to re-configure the flowpoint router, an activity which is in breach of the trial terms and conditions." Alp reckons that's bang out of order as he claims the information on his site - which has been closed down by BT - is publicly available elsewhere. In a letter to BT he said: "I have covered absolutely no new ground in regard to the router itself. Yet you seem to think that the provision of this information somehow violates your terms and conditions. "All that I have been doing is exercising my statutory right to free speech by providing a summary of information in the public domain," he said. A spokesman for BT attempted to clarify the telco's position. He said: "The issue for us was not the material itself which appeared on the Web site, but that it was there at all." Under the T&Cs of the trial users are not permitted to host their own Web sites, he said. ® Link Alp's Protest Web site
Tim Richardson, 17 May 2000

Terra buys Lycos in $12.5bn stock deal

Terra, Spain's biggest Internet business, is taking a huge leap onto the world stage with the $12.5 billion agreed takeover of Lycos. The deal has the backing of Telefonica, the Spanish PTT and majority owner of Terra, which is underwriting the issuance of $2 billion of new Terra stock. Based on yesterday's closing price for Terra, this will give the new group a market cap of $30 billion. Not bad for a merged entity that is expected to produce pro forma revenues of $500 million this year, and which will, after the rights offering, have $3 billion in the bank. Bertelsmann, Europe's biggest media house and 50 per cent owner of Lycos Europe has also given the deal its blessing: it plans to fold Lycos Europe into the merged group in 2003. The company will also collaborate with Terra Lycos, as the new group is called, in a $1 billion five-year commerce agreement for the "purchase of advertising, placement and integration services from Terra Lycos worldwide". Question is: will CMGI, Lycos' biggest shareholder with 17 per cent of the stock, put the spanner in the works, this time around? CMGI last year torpedoed the proposed takeover of Lycos by USA Networks. We guess it will jump for this one. It is difficult to see how Lycos can, on its own, catch-up with AOL, Yahoo! or MSN. As a component of the Terra- Bertelsmann axis, its prospects to join the ranks of super portal are transformed. The combined entity already boast 50 million unique users a month, 175 million page impressions a day, and a powerful presence in Spanish-speaking countries. ®
Drew Cullen, 17 May 2000

Man killed as quake hits Taiwan

A minor earthquake hit Taiwan last night, killing one man and rekindling memories of last year's quake which brought the island to its knees and left almost 2500 people dead. Last night's quake struck at 04:25 BST and measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, according to a report from Reuters. The focal point of the quake was around 30 miles north east of the centre of the island. It was followed by four aftershocks, one of which almost matched the intensity of the first quake, registering 5.2 on the Richter scale. The one man who died was a construction worker who lost his footing when the tremors hit. Last September, Taiwan suffered a massive earthquake which measured 7.3 on the Richer scale. Much of the island's industry suffered huge setbacks to production and IT producers sustained heavy damage. More than 50,000 homes were destroyed and around 2400 people were killed. There have been no reports of other injuries in last night's quake and no comment on whether more quakes can be expected. ®
Sean Fleming, 17 May 2000

Asus under fire over Intel recall

Major Taiwanese mobo manufacturer Asus has clarified its position on the i820 recall forced on it because of Intel's little problem with the memory translator hub on synchronous memory boards. But Asus, rather than replace their i820-based motherboards with spanking new Rambus-based solutions, is only offering a refund to customers, causing some to question the policy. The firm, which is widely believed to be one of the biggest suppliers of mobos using the duff chipset, has just emailed its customers with the following information: "Dear Valued Customers, "It has been brought to the attention of Asus of problems associated with some motherboards that use the Intel 820 chipset in combination with the memory translator hub (MTH). Due to these problems, our distributors have been authorized to accept the return of these motherboards for a full and complete refund. Please contact your place of purchase to return your motherboard. "More information regarding this issue can be found in our website: [here] or please see attachment. Thank you for your patience." While Asus' solution might be simpler in terms of logistics, one customer said: "It seems that at the very least ASUS intends to encourage if not force by singular choice the option of a mere refund on its MTH affected boards. Who knows what has transpired between Jonny Yeo and Intel on this. I wonder if this is a first offer to users and more will follow for 'squeaky wheels' or if this is the extent of the coverage to ASUS users on this. I for one will probably not use ASUS again if that is the case, despite my extremely good relationship with them so far and my previous high regard and untarnished respect for their firm." Meanwhile, Intel's proposition to replace defective Cape Cod mobos with VC820s and 128MB of Rambus RIMM seems to be somewhat problematical too. One customer was told by Intel earlier this week that the probability is that the RIMMs will be PC700 non-ECC parts. However, the VC820 has two RIMM slots, and the other slot will have to be replaced with a continuity RIMM, which Intel is not supplying with the replacements. This will cost money, the continuity parts are hard to find. He has tried four major distributors without success and does not know how much extra he will have to pay. And Chipzilla has started to gently massage the English language by telling its customers that the recall is not a recall at all, but an "optional replacement". Some option, huh? ® RegistrOid 666 Microsoft's spell checker in Office2K returns Rambo, when it encounters the word Rambus in a document.
Mike Magee, 17 May 2000

MacOS X ship date driven back to 2001

AnalysisAnalysis Apple's decision to put back the final release of MacOS X to January 2001 is a product slip, like it or not, but in this day and age, does that really matter all that much? Arguably not. The current release pattern for a major commercial operating system was set by Microsoft, with the long - and frequently extended - gestation of Windows 2000, or NT 5.0 as it was originally called. In comparison with NT 5.0's frequent delays, MacOS X's latest slip doesn't seem so bad, and at least Apple can claim - as it has been busily doing over the last day or so - that the new schedule sort of matches the one CEO Steve Jobs set down last January at MacWorld Expo. Of course, the claim that Apple is shipping the same product, just changing the name, is pure PR spin. There's a big difference between a public beta test release and a shrinkwrapped OS, if only in terms of users' and the industry's perception of it. Shrinkwrapping an operating system tells the world it's done and it's ready for the rest of us. That's why the likes of Red Hat and Corel spend a fortune boxing up Linux into neat CD and manual combo packages. They want the mainstream to view the open source OS as a product for them as much as it's for the techie hardcore. And the same is true for MacOS X. 'Public beta' says 'unfinished software, use with caution' - it doesn't say 'this is shipping software, just not in a box'. The point is, if Apple had a product it could put in a box and charge users a hundred bucks (or whatever) a copy, it would, and the fact is, it can't at least not this summer. So if we ignore senior product marketing VP Phil Schiller's semantic juggling - "We're delivering the same software at the same time, but with different names" - what does the delay mean for Apple? At one level, it's actually a positive move. Jobs' statement that, come next January, all new Macs will ship with MacOS X pre-installed doesn't seem to have been overturned, and that will allow Apple to launch version 1.0 of the OS with a fluorish that would have been impossible if the software had already been on sale for the best part of six months. Instead, we'll get it altogether and all at once in a launch that will have much more impact than it would otherwise have done. And hopefully it will come with all the hooplah that accompanied the launch of Windows 95 - something that will make the wider IT and global media sit up and take note. In the meantime, the public beta will at least have allowed Mac die-hards and large-scale users to evaluate the new operating system, and figure out in plenty of time what it's adoption will mean for them. It also gives the software developers more time to support MacOS X and make sure that support is good (though with Carbon now well established through MacOS 9, they've really very little excuse for not shipping solid MacOS X compatible apps). The public test release should also ensure rather better quality control than previous versions of the MacOS have seen, simply by the sheer volume of testers the programme will inherently involve. That's why Microsoft made such a big deal of the various Windows 2000/NT 5.0 preview releases. The snag here is that MacOS X is not as inherently complex as Windows 2000. Unless Apple is keeping a heck of a lot of features under wraps, the Microsoft product has far more components that the Apple one, largely because if its high-end server and enterprise computing role, which MacOS X really doesn't have (at least not yet). Windows 2000's delays were largely concerned with these kinds of facilities, not with getting the core OS right, since that hard largely already been done with NT 4.0. MacOS X does contain a lot that's new, but with its OpenStep/Rhapsody background, it's not like it's a totally 'built from the ground up' OS. Apple, though, doesn't have Microsoft's resources, so it's important not to compare the two companies too closely. And since no one but the hardcore Mac faithful is expecting MacOS X to dent Microsoft's marketshare - that's Linux's job - any comparison is arguably fruitless. And that's the point here: now that Microsoft has "won the OS wars" - Jobs' words, not mine - it doesn't matter when Apple ships. Public beta or shrinkwrap, many Mac users will lap MacOS X up just the same, and the rest - all those still running System 7.5, for instance, and there are more of them than you might think - won't. But since none of them are likely to switch over to Windows at any time in the future, so what? That suggests there's some truth in Schiller's comment that: "There is certainly more work to finish of the details of [MacOS X]. There is some fine-tuning, but the majority of the product is in place." Apple could have shipped this summer, but it makes sense to wait a little longer until the time is right. And when will the time be right? Well, next January is a good bet. Apple will have a new shrinkwrapped and pre-installed OS ready to take advantage of new hardware, not only perhaps multi-CPU machines, but Macs with the next-generation 1GHz-oriented Velocity Engined to the teeth PowerPC G4 Plus. Hey, maybe Apple will be able to take on Microsoft again, after all... ®
Tony Smith, 17 May 2000

PlayStation emulator creator defeats Sony – almost

Connectix has nearly won its battle with Sony over its PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS). Yesterday, the San Francisco District Court threw out almost all aspects of Sony's attempt to block the sale of VGS on the grounds of copyright and trademark infringement. The verdict follows last February's appeal win by Connectix against a preliminary injunction granted to Sony last year which prevented the software developer from shipping VGS. Of course, it's not over yet for Connectix. Following the February ruling, Sony fired off a second action against the company alleging that VGS violates Sony patents. The appeals judge pointed out in his ruling that while the court that heard the original case against Connectix had made a mistake in granting the preliminary injunction on the grounds of copyright infringement. However, he noted Sony might have had a case for a ban had it included patent infringement in its suit. Sony took the hint, and fired off a second suit accordingly. A court hearing brought by Connectix to dismiss this second action will be convened on two days' time. It's also worth noting that Connectix isn't out of the woods on the copyright case, either. While Judge Charles Legge threw out seven of Sony's claims against the software developer, that still leaves two points to be settled: one of unfair competition and another that focuses on alleged trade secrets violation. Connectix reckons it's got both points covered, and is confident of victory. Certainly the unfair competition point seems unlikely to get through, but Connectix may have trouble with the trade secrets issue, having admitted already to copying Sony's proprietary PlayStation BIOS. Judge Legge set up a three-month period to review the two parties' arguments, so it will be some time before a ruling is made on these points. Meanwhile, all this is good news for fellow emulator developer Bleem! which recently announced a version of its PlayStation emulator for Sega's Dreamcast console. Bleem! has had rather more success with its defence against Sony's legal machine than Connectix, but it's hard to see Sony letting this one go by, particularly since it (indirectly) involves a direct competitor, Sega. ®
Tony Smith, 17 May 2000

What a bunch of anchors

A rather pompous half page ad in ZD's UK flagship, IT Week, puffs the excruciating ZDNet UK's AnchorDesk, billing it as "a wealth of free expertise just a click away". You will not be surprised to read that AnchorDesk UK is "informed, insider analysis" or that it is "written by the UK's most knowledgeable correspondents". We admit we were a tad surprised to discover that veteran US hack John Dvorak is British, but that's probably just down to ZDNet UK's legendary factual accuracy. Being the mischievious little devils that we are, we felt sorely tempted to insert a large 'W' in front of the word 'AnchorDesk', until we noticed that ZD had beaten us to it [Don't let that ever happen again - Ed] and added not one, but three, as in www.anchordesk.co.uk It would be nice to imagine that Ziff-Davis is perfectly aware of this rather unfortunate juxtaposition of characters, but deep down inside, we all know that's not the case, don't we? ®
Team Register, 17 May 2000

Dell flogs PCs for day trade believers

Dell has launched a new line of PCs aimed at stealing the growing number of online share traders. The computers will come with trading software and "investor-specific features" - whatever the hell that means. One feature is the use of two screens - one for the market, one for your transaction (didn't Microsoft think of this with its Windows operating system?). If you're still intrigued, you ought to know that they will cost between $2000 and $3500. So why is Dell even bothering? It's a niche market, at best. "This package provides a system with capabilities comparable to those of professional traders," said Dave DuPont, Dell's marketing manager. And there's the answer. It's hoping that all the Bills and Teds dotted all over the US will turn online trading into a hobby. With hobbies, as we all know, even though you may be crap at it, only the equipment used by the best will do. Michael Dell can probably visualise at least some of the seven million currently at it waiting expectantly at their gates for the My First Share Market computer to arrive. Wearing a special coloured jacket, Online Trading Man will rope the wife and kids into shouting "buy" and "sell" on demand to give it an authentic air. "I could have worked in the City, you know," he will tell them as he makes his way to the same pokey office he's been in for 20 years. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 17 May 2000

Transmeta Crusoe shrinks to 0.15 micron

Transmeta's Taiwanese fab partner, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC), has begun sampling 0.15 micron Crusoe CPUs, according to Taiwan business paper the Commercial Times. If accurate, that's an impressive leap over the 0.18 micron process Transmeta originally specified at Crusoe's launch, and should allow the company to get its chip family's low power consumption even lower. TMSC's 'leak' to CT is actually little more than a puff-piece for the semiconductor company, which claims that its "persistent efforts to access the CPU market" were "spurned" by Intel and AMD. Chipzilla and the Col. Sanders' lesser lizard will clearly rue the day, though, since "TSMC may now be about to turn the tables on them through its tie with Transmeta. The launch of Transmeta's innovative Crusoe chip early in 2000 has taken the spotlight away from Intel's Celeron chip". So there. ®
Tony Smith, 17 May 2000

Gov't site crashes under weight of public opinion

The Government's e-soapbox on its flagship Web site has collapsed under the weight of punters voicing their opinions on how the country is being run. The people's talking shops on the Number 10 Downing Street Web site crashed recently under the strain of 32,767 postings. A notice on the site reads: "Over the last three days a technical fault has made it impossible to access the Discussion Forums on this site. We apologise for this. "Our designers have been working on a new improved programme for the Your Say section of the site. We now intend to install the new programme tomorrow. We regret that none of your postings will be transported into the new programme. "We realise that this is not ideal. However, we hope that you will find the operation of the new forums to be much better than the previous ones." Pete Ahearn, group account director for Bates Interactive, which designed the site, knew nothing of the "technical glitch". He distanced himself from the problem saying that the maintenance and general running of the site was down to a crack team of Webbies at 10 Downing Street. No one at Downing Street was available for comment. Yesterday, prime minister Tony Blair gave his personal backing to a conference due to be held in London later this year which will look at how government's can get the most out of the Net. Perhaps he should reserve his place now. And civil libertarians worried that the Government is trying to gag the views of the British electorate by not migrating opinions already expressed onto the new site can check out past postings here. Related Story Government gets WIFfy in the midday sun 10 Downing Street
Tim Richardson, 17 May 2000

Bruised Novell plans one Net bounce back

Brainshare reportBrainshare report "It's a new tactic of Microsoft to try to stop us," cried Novell's COO Stewart Nelson as the power for the whole city of Nice failed just before the start of Novell's Brainshare meeting. But it's not Microsoft that's Novell's problem right now; it's Novell's own failure to sell enough that is plaguing the company, as the recent profits warning showed. It seems that the pesky customers don't have problems that can only be sorted out by upgrading. Of course they're not deserting much either, but that's not much consolation. Nelson says Novell is at the beginning of the third phase of its history. Phase one from 1984 to 1996 was the age of the LAN, where network administrators were the target. Phase two was the era of network management, when the enterprise network was the focus. The third phase is the era of network services, and servicing the Net-based economy. He hastens to add that this doesn't mean the end of NetWare - that would remain the foundation - but Novell is trying to do to software what Cisco had done for Net hardware. Novell's problem, he admits, is that it hasn't talked about this in an interesting way. Although Novell seems to have sorted out a viable strategy and is now executing it, CEO Eric Schmidt says it has "taken too long to get to this point". Right. Novell claims it supports more than 80 million users worldwide, that they have 3.8 million servers, and that 405 of the Fortune 500 companies are Novell customers. The company insists that Linux is growing at the expense on Unix, not NetWare, so that wasn't an explanation for the financial woes. When we asked whether Novell had been stuffing the channel again - a favourite trick some years ago to "make the numbers" - we were told in no uncertain terns that this was not the explanation either. It looks as though the blame is going to be heaped on the backs of the now-departed marketing team, and the wrong channel strategy. eDirectory revenue hasn't started to produce any revenue yet because it will take one to two quarters for pilot cycles, but the pipeline is full of directory deals, Schmidt said. A cheery factor was that in heterogeneous environments - and essentially all were for Novell - the deals were bigger. Nelson dismisses the view that Novell's price increase at the end of October had adversely affected revenue. Novell - industry standard marketing black hole Novell has been talking about doing something about its marketing since the days of file-and-print - and either it's done very little about it, or fluffed it again. Many believe that when Microsoft kindly provided such a long window of opportunity for Novell before it produced Windows 2000, Novell blew it by not marketing successfully enough during this period. Schmidt did remark that he thought Microsoft's single platform solution would not work in the future. He was relaxed about NGWS and said he was "looking forward to seeing it when it ships". In retrospect, it seems that Y2K folly also took the focus away from network upgrading last year - and that anyway, Novell's stuff just worked and its pragmatic users weren't going to upgrade until there was a business reason to do so. Well, Windows 2000 finally arrived - Eric Schmidt quipped he was still waiting for what was promised for Cairo - and still Novell is in transition, with the prospect of further transition to limitless storage and infinite bandwidth over the next five years, he noted. Schmidt does seem to have sorted out the product focus and has emerged with a better strategy for the Net economy, with what Novell calls "one Net" being at the centre. Although it is late - with a resultant negative financial impact - there may be an upside because Novell seems to have found (some would say stumbled) into a marketing idea that is simple to put across and sounds good. It is also something that Microsoft cannot achieve because it woefully lacks networking experience and has a non-adaptable and flawed design for Windows networking. It's some time since Novell came up with an idea that looked as though it had the potential to win new customers, but one Net could just be it. Schmidt said - with a trace of surprise, it seemed - that "one Net was wanted by everyone". If so, then the problem is how quickly Novell can translate the idea into revenue. The message, not the medium Nelson said that Novell was getting over talking about what he analogised as the plumbing in the Novell Jacuzzi and was [at last] trying to concentrate on the hydrological experience - what Novell makes possible, rather than how its done. It's a novel idea for Novell. It's pursuing the objective of getting NDS accepted as the industry cross-directory (and telling people about the significance), and clearly hopes to get IBM to join Compaq on this. In the medium term, Novell should gain from this ability - particularly when the limitations of third-party efforts to make Microsoft's active directory cross-platform are appreciated. Big banks are beginning to perk up interest, because typically they have three dozen or more directories and no doubt many sleepless persons worrying about integrating information and data integrity. Novell's message is that its one Net design can take over from the old directories, so that they can gradually be phased out. Much confidence is being put in "proven-leader" Steve Adams, the new marketing supremo, but it will take at least another quarter before any actions he takes could have a significant impact. Schmidt said that Adams was sorting out what he had inherited at the moment, but that there would be "marketing and support dollars for the channel, which was why it was screwed up last year". Nelson admitted that there was indeed a training problem for the channel, but that this was being rectified. This all sounds like a pretty honest admission, but changes won't come until under-performing and over-performing areas have been identified. Nelson said that Adams would be supported financially if he showed a need for a bigger budget, but there can hardly be a doubt that Novell needs to spend substantially on marketing. At least Novell seems to have realised that there can be no significant effect on marketing without leadership. Schmidt admitted that Novell had historically been too product oriented, and that internally had not been coherent from a marketing perspective - but at last it had a simpler message. Novell is doing marketing things - it has an over-subscribed series of meetings throughout EMEA, in conjunction with IBM, when some 10,000 people will be told about what the companies can do in eBusiness and eDirectory. Nelson wants to make marketing a core competency at Novell, and will be embarking on a major advertising campaign "this quarter" (before the end of July - it has funny quarters) in the major financial and business press. Failing to tell the CEO mob that there was someone out there other than Microsoft has always been a Novell weakness: founder Ray Noorda was steadfastly reluctant to spend anything on advertising. Perhaps in the future, if a CIO wants to go with Novell, at least the company's business leader might be familiar with the Novell brand. Fortunately buzz words come and go quite quickly: in Novell vogue at the moment are phrases like "not providing the metrics to CFOs and CEOs". It's jargon for their not understanding technology, with the sub-text that Novell doesn't seem to have a generalised cost-benefit analysis of committing to Microsoft rather than Novell. Nelson said he saw an opportunity to grow the market - but the reality is of course that the market is growing very nicely, whatever Novell does. The question is whether Novell has momentarily stumbled, or has been more badly hurt than is realised. We shall find out a bit more next week when the gags are off and it announces its financial results. Questions about Novell's finances had to go unanswered because the company was in its quiet period, which must have been a relief after the warning and the dive in the share price to around a quarter of what it was some months ago. Schmidt said he never comments on the share price, but did observe that "It goes up and down". In a rueful aside, Schmidt noted that Wall Street "works on a 90-day shock clock". Schmidt did say that "The company is absolutely for sale - one share at a time, through your local broker." Maybe he's getting his one-liners from Scott McNealy. Schmidt also said that the issues that confronted Novell were tactical and not strategic, so they are easier to fix. Shareholders who believed in the one Net strategy "would be happy", but it was the middle of the debate so far as how long it would take for this to show in revenue. It was clear enough that Schmidt had become very conscious of the need to generate more revenue, particularly in new areas. ®
Graham Lea, 17 May 2000

'Hi,thanks for calling NTL – we suck'

OpinionOpinion They say that moving house is one of the most stressful events in your life and if - like me - you're in the middle of this ghastly process you'll know just how stressful it can become. But in an attempt to be organised I decided I'd arrange to get hooked up to a cable phone and TV supplier in the area I'm moving to, so that everything would be ready for when I moved in. Not being familiar with the area, I wasn't sure which cableco I should call but I suspected it was NTL. I visited the NTL Web site and entered my postcode-to-be to see if my hunch was right. And it was: "You're on our cable network," the screen said. Hurrah. So I rang the 0800 number on the screen to get myself connected. I got cut off during the early part of my first call. So I redialled, whereupon I was put through to the wrong department. I thought NTL was a phone company. What's up with you people - can't you even handle incoming sales calls? It gets better though. Finally I was put through to someone who could handle my query. I was asked for the address of the property I'm moving to and to my astonishment I was told that it isn't on the NTL cable network. "But your Web site reckons it is," I said. To which the NTL rep replied: "Ahh, the Web site. It gets us into lots of trouble, you know." You're not kidding. So, what is going on with NTL and just who is the honest punter supposed to believe - a Web site that says one thing, or a phone operator with a database that says the opposite? I was, by way of consolation, told I could still join the NTL World ISP. Some NTL customers are still waiting to receive NTL World CDs in order to sign up for the free calls ISP, and yet a good many non-NTL customers (fugitives from BT or Telewest, perhaps) have got theirs. The cableco has flatly denied that is more interested in drumming up new business than keeping existing customers sweet, but conspiracy theorists out there might could be forgiven for thinking NTL isn't bothered about providing accurate information via its Web site and that it cares more about getting people to call up in the hope that a percentage of the disappointed will chose to sign up for one of its lesser packages anyway. It's a serious affair having your Web site say something different from the sales arm of your business. It gives the impression that your left hand doesn't know what its old pal the right hand has been up to lately. And no one wants that sort of reputation, do they. ®
Sean Fleming, 17 May 2000

Page3 Girl Zooms into Internet World

MGI Software is to parade a top 'Page 3' girl at next week's Internet World 2000 show in a bid to make its products look more alluring. The Canadian outfit reckons that employing Jodie's not inconsiderably assets will really make a difference. "Page3.com and MGI Software to reveal all at Internet World!" the company teased in a press release. But fingered by The Register, MGI was keen to play down its softcore fling. "It's all in the best possible taste," said Jenny Hodge, MGI's communications manager. "It's not as sordid as it sounds... we're not going to be parading topless girls around the show... she's not going to get her kit off," she said. Apparently, she's there as a "celebrity". Jodie, 20, from Kent, is being lent to MGI as part of an agreement with Sun spin-off, Page3.com, part of Rupert Murdoch's digital outfit, News Network. In another alliance with News Network courtesy of the FiredUp.com, MGI will also be displaying images of Posh Spice's wedding crown (valued at 120,000), a Chatila diamond and sapphire necklace inspired by the 'coeur de mer' from the film Titanic (1.2 million) and a Sunseeker yacht worth 160,000 as featured in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough. The items will be auctioned and the money raised donated to the Red Cross. Asked whether it was fitting to make such a fuss over this stuff, Hodge said: "People love Posh Spice and David Beckham." Well, that's all right then. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 May 2000

Near-naked walking women action live on Net!

Victoria's Secret - the saucy but classy US lingerie maker - will be having a fun-filled fashion show in Cannes tomorrow. It's not much to get excited about - just hordes of beautiful women wearing nothing but the latest range of sexy lingerie walking up and down a catwalk one after the other. But before you start booking that last minute flight to the south of France, read on. Yes, gawd bless 'em, Victoria's Secret have decided to webcast it live, so wherever you are at 3pm EDT if you were to get to an Internet terminal, some handy shopping ideas or handy recreational activity - depending upon your sex - could be yours. Sadly, this is where the joy ends. Victoria's Secret has done this before (just before Valentine's Day last year). That time the site crashed due to enormous demand. Even if it does manage to get enough bandwidth this time round, the sad thing is it may not be worth it - you can check out highlights of last year's show on the company's website and they ain't much. The screen is also regulation two-inch (without close-ups, that's fatal). Mind you, the backstage photos are worth a peek. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 17 May 2000