10th > June > 2000 Archive

Info appliances main thrust of Computex

Computex 2000Computex 2000 Everywhere you went in this year's bustling Computex show, the emphasis seemed to be on information appliances. Whether it was set top boxes you wanted or handheld devices, it seemed that the entire Taiwanese industry is gearing itself up for a convergence revolution. Personally, we prefer a TV set to stay a TV set, without all of this surfing stuff muddying up our living room, but the industry may be right and this new revolution could be the best thing since sliced bagels. Once again, and for the third year in a row, National Semiconductor with its Geode seemed to be making most of the running, although the Intel stand also had some devices and displays, based on its StrongArm offering. The star of the Info Appliance offering, however, was clearly the Transmeta device shown at the FIC (First International Computing) stand. It had two models there -- one pinned to the wall, and the other in the hands of a dummy dressed in a revolting suit. A dummy holding a dummy? Well, a close examination of the FIC Aqua did seem to reveal that it was a dummy too, made of wood. Transmeta is pushing the boat out at PC Expo in a fortnight where, no doubt, we can expect to see yet more dummies, and even more suits. Quite a few of the firms were showing FlexATX designs and boxes on their stands, but that was the case a year ago, and despite Intel's best attempts to push the Concept PC design, there still seem to be rather fewer legacy-free designs around than we would have expected, given the level of continual hype these designs have received. This year, Computex was split into three areas (four if you count the suites in the Hyatt), with the organisers, Cetra, expanding into Hall Two, where many of the larger and smaller mobo firms, including FIC, Gigabyte, Asus and Acorp, had set up camp. The main hall was packed with a multitude of other firms, including monitor companies like CTX and ViewSonic, and more esoteric booths from firms such as the unfortunately named Assman and companies selling everything from harness clips to mice. Cetra was strangely coy this year to give figures for the number of buyers that had tipped up at Computex -- we asked for those figures on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday -- but they were not to be had for love nor for dosh, apparently. But we found out eventually. European buyers registered a 120 per cent increase over last year, with 1,448 tipping up. Central and South America saw 152 buyers, compared to 75 last year. Asian buyers rose to 3,501 from 2,136; African buyers numbered 63, while Oceania delivered 297, compared to 139 last year. The USA was top dog, sending 1,341. Korea delivered 964, Hong Kong 725, Japan 715, and Germany 297. If Red China carries out its threat to prevent direct flights from Hong Kong to Taipei, there's going to be far fewer buyers from there next year. As it is, there are no direct flights from the Philippines to Taiwan -- and that means a seven hour detour via Hong Kong. The rumours are that it is Red China pressure that prevents these flights from happening. Taiwan is an IT powerhouse and Computex proves that. In 1999, Taiwan exported something over $46 billion of IT related kit. Organisers of Computex say that the 23 September quake last year failed to dampen output, and IT related exports represent a huge chunk of the country's wealth. More on this later. Meanwhile, the show goes on. Tomorrow the 2000 World Congress on Information Technology starts, with Bill Gates, winsome Carly Fiorina and John Chambers speaking. The Register will be there to record what these bloominaries have to say. ®
Mike Magee, 10 Jun 2000

Acer takes Transmeta punt

Computex 2000Computex 2000 Thanks once more to the editor of Mobile Linux for tipping us off about Acer's contribution to the Transmeta fest. Tim Brown, editor of Mobile Linux, tells us that in Q3 Acer will intro a yellow WebPad using the 3120 Crusoe chip, and the Mobile Linux operating system. We anticipated that Acer would be one of the first off the mark when we broke the nature of the Transmeta offerings 18 months ago, but are a little surprised that FIC showed its hand at Computex while the much bigger Acer was more reticent. There were other devices at the show. Uniwill launched its first Transmeta unit in January this year, and only seven or eight weeks back introduced their second generation device. Quanta was also early to the game. However, a source close to Transmeta's plans informs us that these units are not selling particularly well. The price, when wireless Lan cards and Access Point are added is close to $1,000. When we got plastered with Tim B the other day [that's a different story, Ed], we're sure we asked him whether Transmeta had made a bid for his Web site, given that it's called Mobile Linux, while that's also the name of the operating system these devices use... ®
Mike Magee, 10 Jun 2000

Video Trojan hoax scares up publicity for security firm

UpdatedUpdated It sounded so very exciting on Friday: a relatively unknown computer security firm called Network Security Technologies (NETSEC) was rushing to meet with the FBI to discuss a devastating new Trojan they had discovered joined to an .avi video file. The Trojan, they said, was capable of infecting personal computers and commandeering them to attack Web sites, resurrecting shades of the media frenzy surrounding February's DDoS attacks. Clearly, NETSEC had struck gold. Yet on Saturday, the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC) Web site remains strangely devoid of any mention of this impending calamity, as does the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) site. Apparently, the wire services had got a few things wrong on Friday, no doubt with NETSEC's gentle encouragement. We now know that the video Trojan, which NETSEC dubbed 'Serbian Badman' (ooohh, how scary that sounds), is actually known by the tragically prosaic name 'Downloader' (aka Backdoor.ldr; Downloader.Kit; Trojan.Win32.Loder.WPW; W95/Loader; and WWWPW). It works by fetching, downloading and silently running another, and quite familiar, Trojan called 'Sub7', which consists of a remote server enabling a third party to control an infected computer. We are terribly disappointed to report that the Sub7 server is not capable of launching DDoS attacks, unless it has been updated radically since the last time we, em, 'evaluated' it. Meanwhile, Network Associates' McAfee site has condescended to run some information on NETSEC's sensational new discovery, but what they have to say sounds painfully familiar. The Downloader Trojan "downloads another Trojan from the Internet and runs it silently. The downloaded Trojan is identified as 'BackDoor-G2'" [aka Sub7]. "NETSEC alerted the Internet community about BackDoor-G2 by calling it 'Serbian Badman Trojan (TSB Trojan)'. News stories suggest that the controlling Trojan which is downloaded is a new threat -- it is not. Although the Trojan known as "Downloader" is new, the file downloaded is a known Trojan." In other words, NETSEC's discovery amounts to nothing more than a publicity stunt by an opportunistic security firm in quest of free advertising in the form of media attention. The Register is shocked....shocked....to learn that media manipulation is going on. ® Previous coverage Movie clip Trojan to be used in DDoS-style attack
Thomas C Greene, 10 Jun 2000

British ISP sues AltaVista

The Free Internet Group has issued legal proceedings against AltaVista at the High Court in London. In a short statement issued Friday the British-based Net provider said: "Permission was granted to Free Internet Group to serve proceedings upon AltaVista at its principal office... in Palo Alto, California". Exact details of the claim are not yet known but it's understood to concern an alleged breach of contract. In March, AltaVista announced it intended to offer unmetered Internet access to Net users in Britain. Despite winning the personal backing of Prime Minister Tony Blair, AltaVista UK MD Andy Mitchell would not say which ISP or telco had been recruited to support the service. The High Court claim suggests AltaVista had entered an agreement with The Free Internet Group but pulled out of the deal at the last minute. David Emanuel, director of communications at AltaVista, toldThe Register he was "aware of the complaint". He said it had "no merit" and defended his company's actions saying that AltaVista had "no obligation" to The Free Internet Group. He added: "This reeks of a company desperately seeking attention." ®
Tim Richardson, 10 Jun 2000

HP Win2K OfficeJet drivers slip again

We were all eager with anticipation here at The Register - June the 19th was rapidly nearing. This was supposed to be the magic date when users of HP's all in one OfficeJet 500 (including us) would finally be able to download drivers to make them work under Windows 2000. Imagine then our dismay when we checked out HP's web site here today and discovered the drivers have quietly slipped another six weeks and are now billed to ship on July 24. The 600 and 700 series OfficeJets have slipped too - to July 17 and 10 respectively. Users will be cheered to discover that "Hewlett-Packard is still making every effort to expedite the release of the software," as it has continually claimed to be doing been since the launch of Win2K back in February. Maybe someone at HP would have the decency to tell us: 1. What exactly is so damned difficult in rewriting the drivers for Win2K? 2. Why the Hell didn't you start earlier? ® Related story HP Win2K driver saga continues
Andrew Thomas, 10 Jun 2000