21st > June > 2000 Archive

Burger King flame grills kids Web portal

UpdateUpdate Burger King has pulled a promotion handing out a million CDs containing software for kids ISP and portal kzuk.net over fears that it gives children access to pornography. The CDs were handed out with fast food grub as part of a joint initiative between the two companies. In a statement Burger King said: "Following a small number of customer concerns, Burger King has decided to withdraw the promotion." But Medi@Invest PLC - the parent of kzuk.net - claims the whole thing has been blown out of all proportion and that the promo was scheduled to finish this week anyway. "Isolated press comment has highlighted an individual consumer having difficulties regarding the installation," the company said. "The effectiveness of the protective software is dependent on correct installation, with passwords, by an adult, as is specifically explained in the installation instructions." The reason, it seems, lies with the Net Nanny filtering software that was bundled in with the Burger King CD, which gave kids access to hardcore porn - and even kiddie porn. Net Nanny spokesman, Steve McLean, declined to comment specifically on the Burger King incident but stressed that Net Nanny is not aimed at kids. "While Net Nanny Software develops Internet filtering products that are designed with children's safety in mind, we do not create our products for children's consumption. "Our software is designed for parents. We make our lists 'open' so that parents and guardians have the type of flexibility that enables them to decide for themselves what content/sites their children will access while on the Internet. "Because the software is obviously intended for, and marketed to parents, we are dismayed to hear that the software may find its way into the hands of children," he said. kzuk.net said the promotion had attracted 1000 new users a week. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2000

MS judge opts for damage control with Supremes order

MS on TrialMS on Trial The Gang of Seven judges in the Court of Appeals have been outflanked by Judge Jackson. Tucked away in his Order certifying the joint case to the Supremes is the news that his Final Judgement of 7 June be "stayed in its entirety" (meaning the conduct remedies as well as the breakup) until the appeal is heard and decided, unless the stay is vacated by an appellate court. The Final Judgement did include a provision to stay the breakup until any appeal was decided, but the judge's decision about the conduct remedies was not generally expected. At first this may seem like rather bad news for users and the industry, but it's worth further consideration because there are some very interesting complexities and a few clues that are worth noting. First, Microsoft is denied an appellate victory over staying the conduct remedies, and judging by the pushing and shoving by the Gang of Seven it seems likely that they would have stayed the conduct remedies. There would have been far more mileage had the decision come from the Appellates, since this would have allowed Microsoft to proceed further with its blackening of what it has begun to characterise as the hanging judge. Judge Jackson probably realised that there was little hope of supervising Microsoft's conduct during the appeal, as Microsoft would carry on with its monopolisation-as-usual business. The supervision of the case is now with the Supreme Court, which is not likely to act swiftly should Microsoft misbehave while they're out of term ("gone fishing", probably) for three months. So perhaps not much is lost in reality. Curiously, it gives Microsoft a chance to provide more evidence to the DoJ of its incorrigible behaviour, which the DoJ could use on some future occasion. Any anti-competitive Microsoft misbehaviour at this stage would be a very bad move, considering it will simultaneously be playing the role of the innocent virgin, so in practice it may be more restrictive for Microsoft not to be bound by conduct remedies. We think that Judge Jackson may have considered this, and that it was one reason for his decision. There is another reason too, we would suggest. The behaviour of the Gang of Seven has been judicially discourteous to the point of near-hooliganism, so keen were they to see the match without a ticket, as it were. Judge Jackson was made a victim of Microsoft's procedural moves, since he could not certify the case to the Supremes unless Microsoft appealed in his court, and when this finally happened after a delay by Microsoft, he was told that Microsoft would be submitting a Response to the DoJ's Motion to move the case to the Supremes, so he had to wait for that. Meanwhile, it looks very much as though Microsoft had been tipped off that the Gang of Seven would be issuing additional Orders to seize the case and not wait for Judge Jackson's decision. There is further evidence for this in that Microsoft did not file its Response in the District Court until late on Monday - after the Court of Appeals' Order. The DoJ played a clean game, proposing to the Court of Appeals that it defer to the District Court referee and await Judge Jackson's decision about staying the remedies. The rushed-out second Order from the Gang of Seven leant heavily towards Microsoft, by allowing its overlength motion, although the DoJ was allowed equal length. It could not have occurred to the Gang that their manoeuvring would result in their being frustrated by Judge Jackson. Incidentally, if you see reports sourced to Reuters saying the Court of Appeals sided with the DoJ and rejected Microsoft's argument for separation of the Plaintiff States and the DoJ, it's an error - there has been no ruling yet on combining the cases. Of the six detailed orders in the second Order, five-and-a-half were made moot by Judge Jackson's action, and all that remains is half-an-order that pleadings would have to be served "by hand" delivery, if the case does get back to the Court of Appeals. The only reason that occurs to us to explain this strange requirement is that the DoJ's filing with the Court of Appeals last Friday had an Exhibit consisting of a December 1998 Microsoft procedural brief that completely demolished arguments Microsoft had made advocating it be allowed "supplemental examination" (which most people would call a re-trial). The certificate of service said that service had been by Federal Express next-day delivery: could it be that Microsoft had complained about this delay, and the oh-so-sympathetic Court of Appeals had therefore added the hand-service requirement? If so - and it's hard to think of any other reason - the relationship between the Court of Appeals and Microsoft seems just a little too cosy for comfort. The question remains as to why the Gang of Seven should be acting this way. Chief Judge Harry Edwards has publicly stated at length his position about the procedures of the Court of Appeals, and there is nothing at all unreasonable in what he said. It is therefore a considerable surprise to find the court en banc (the whole crew, apart from three disqualified for having Microsoft shares or something similar) acting as it has. Microsoft's Monday filing in the District Court objecting to the direct appeal to the Supremes attempted novel interpretations of the law that had already been covered by the DoJ. It's amusing that Microsoft denies that the case is "important", but the gem is that Microsoft says that the Court of Appeals took "less than one hour" before it issued its first Order. Only the best customers get service like this. We would not be surprised if the Supremes decide to seek what they have previously referred to as "the valuable assistance of the Court of Appeals" in order to avoid "a great burden on the [Supreme] Court", and therefore send the matter back to the Gang with some instructions to clarify some legal issues for decision by the Supreme Court. There are 13,466 pages of transcript, 2,695 exhibits, and a vast number of briefs. No court is going to wade through it all again. It is pretty clear from the Gang's body language that it is leaning to Microsoft. What would then remain is to see what the Supreme Court does. ®
Graham Lea, 21 Jun 2000

Corel Q2 loss widens, sales slump

Corel's recent prediction of a widening Q2 loss and falling revenues proved pretty close to the mark yesterday when the Canadian software company announced its second quarter results. For the three months period, the company lost $23.6 million - right in the middle of the $22-24 million range it had warned its loss would fall into - on sales of $36.6 million. The company also reported a $1.1 million loss from equity investments, balanced by a $1.2 million gain from the sale of 560,000 GraphOn shares. For the same period last year, Corel reported revenues of $70.5 million - yesterday's figures mark a 48 per cent fall year on year - and $9.7 million in profit. That said, Corel CFO John Blaine was bullish about the company's prospects. "What we're saying now is that if we are successful in the implementation of our cost-savings plan, that the results for our Q3 are expected to be better than both Q1 and Q2.'' Possibly. Ridding itself of 320 workers will save Corel some $11 million in salary payments, but that still leaves severence pay. It also leaves some $29 million to be found to make up the $40 million Corel needs to save through cut-backs. The C$30 million ($20.5 million) funding the company found after the Inprise/Borland merger collapsed will help. Still, it's hard to see the company's revenues rebounding. Corel is happy to shout about how Linux is going to bring in major rewards, but the open source OS contrinbuted only $2.6 million to the Q2 sales, so it's a long way from being the company's mainstay. Though if sales of its application software continues to fall off so rapidly, Linux could quickly become one. Revenues for Q1 2000 were $44.1 million, with a loss of $12.4 million. ® Related Story Corel warns of doubling loss in Q2
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

50p auction bid buys a lot of PR

Holiday company Airtours has made fantastic PR capital out of letting a 50p online auction bid buy a £500 holiday to Greece. Julie Humphreys, from Ramsbottom in Lancashire, made the meagre bid as a joke but was told she'd got the holiday as no one else had entered the auction. Her boyfriend also got to accompany her to Rhodes for another 50p. The story has bought Airtours far more than £1000 worth of publicity. And also drawn attention to the fact that small numbers of people must be using their auction site. However the Airtours publicity machine doesn't seem to have managed to get the message out that holidays are sold and auctioned on its Late Escapes Web site. Its also worth pointing out that Julie Humphreys lives nice and close to Airtours HQ. The holiday firm is based in Rossendale, Lancashire, about three miles from Julie's home. Coincidences happen. I'm from Rochdale which is just down the road from this holiday bonanza spot. Maybe I'll be in with a chance of a 50p trip to Lanzarote. If you want to try your luck go here. ®
Robert Blincoe, 21 Jun 2000

‘Lifelong’ email addresses last under three years

How long is a lifetime on the Net? Shorter than you w'd think. Bigfoot, an email forwarding service that offers "email addresses for life", has had to tell its rock.com customers that their accounts will cease to function today. Nearly three years ago Bigfoot and its partner company, Thinking Pictures, made addresses available at the rock.com domain. Now, however, the domain name has been sold on to a third party, Soundstone - and since Soundstone does not want to run the email forwarding, the accounts will cease to exist. Bigfoot offers email forwarding from its own domain too, and has said that all its rock.com users can register at Bigfoot.com instead. Small consolation, since these accounts are available for free to anyone who wants them anyway. Bigfoot also promotes these addresses being lifelong. "No need to have an identity crisis - just get a bigfoot.com address! It's yours for life - give it out once to your 'inner circle' and then whenever you get a new email address you notify only Bigfoot, leaving your friends at peace and your mind at ease," the site enthuses. Perhaps it should be amended to include: "We reserve the right to sell the domain at any time, thus rendering any email addresses, and our lifetime guarantees, utterly useless." In an email to members, Bigfoot said that the sale was beyond its control, and that it was Thinking Pictures that sold the domain on. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jun 2000

Duchess ‘earns’ $1m to sing World Online praises

World Online paid Sarah Ferguson, Dutchess of York, $1 million to promote the company for 15 days, the FT says. Apparently, she was paid up front and only put in three or four days' worth of appearances, before her services were terminated by the new management. Letsbuyit.com is back into the IPO fray, just three weeks after pulling its flotation on the Neuer Markt. The company says it is taking advantage of the 'retail rebound' - and it is still gunning for a £500 million market cap. The Isle of Man is to cut the top rate of personal tax from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, and corporation tax for local companies from 20 per cent to ten per cent, in an effort to tempt more footloose and e-greedy rich entrepreneurs to live there. SEB, a big Swedish bank, is mulling over launching a UK branch in the autumn as "part of a stratgy to become a pan-European Internet bank" Ft. ®
Drew Cullen, 21 Jun 2000

Dell to hop on MP3 bandwagon

Dell will beat arch-rival Compaq to the MP3 music market when it launches the Dell Digital Audio Receiver (DAR) this week, based on the Rio player from S3, formerly known as Diamond Multimedia. Essentially, we're talking a standard portable player here, but the DAR appears to differ from the Rio in that it also supports playback through home entertainment kit - the device become a kind of medium between PC and hi-fi. Dell's plan seems to be to promote the wired home, though we can't help thinking that simply connecting PC to amplifier directly or via a home LAN might be a better way of doing so. For Dell, the DAR is primarily about adding new features to a home PC - buy a DAR with a home networking-oriented PC and it will cost $199. Buy it on its own, and the MP3 machine will set you back $249. For its part, S3 gets another big name supporter for its MP3 technology - the other is Nike, according to CNet - as it strives to sign up brand name companies to co-market its products. The DAR should also provide a boost for S3's RioPort digital music portal, which the company hopes will become as much of a money-spinner as the hardware itself. Dell said it plans to create a portal for DAR users, but we suspect it too will come from S3 via RioPort, simply because S3 has the expertise and content already in place. The DAR is due to ship this August, ahead of Compaq's MP3 player, hinted at by Big Q CEO Michael Capellas earlier this month. ® Related Story Compaq tunes into MP3
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

Windows ME the last Win9x OS? Maybe not…

Just when you're getting used to the idea that Windows ME really is the last of the Win9x line of operating systems, you get a hint that maybe it's not, after all. Once upon a time Win98 was officially the last of the Win9x line, but since then Microsoft has put out two more upgrades, Win98 SE last year and now Windows ME - the latter is almost certainly definitely the last, but if it is, what's Tiger? The Register has received information that bugs logged from the ME development programme have been sent to a mysterious new project, codenamed Tiger. Although we can't as yet confirm the truth of this, the information is claimed to have come from Microsoft developers who worked on Windows ME. If it is true, there clearly has to be continuing development of the Win9x codebase, which would mean that Windows ME isn't the last one after all. It might be that Microsoft is just working on a service pack, but as Windows ME is a service pack really, it seems a little early to be getting into that kind of stuff. And do you give service pack development a flashy codename? But another Win9x messes up the roadmap more than a little. Microsoft will be starting the beta programme for Whistler, the next version of Win2k, fairly shortly, and Whistler is intended to ship next year, in the slot that's become the traditional one for Microsoft's annual Win9x refresh. It's possible that Microsoft is already getting cold feet about its ability to fit a rev of Win2k into a consumer-sized footprint. That's basically what happened last time around, and at that time the abandonment/postponement of consumer NT caused quite a few problems, because Microsoft didn't still have 9x development rolling properly. So maybe Tiger is insurance. Or maybe it's intended as a non-desktop OS, for MSN access devices, or perhaps even in association with X-box. Win9x code has certainly suffered from stops and starts over the years, but it's been honed enough in its life for it to be possible to turn it into something lean, mean and efficient if enough work was just put into it. For starters, you could really take out all that Dos stuff, rather than just hiding it, as in Windows ME. ®
John Lettice, 21 Jun 2000

Fridges to be hit by Net viruses

Fridges and household appliances may be the future victims of PC-related bugs. Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab is warning that in a few years Internet-connected microwaves and freezers will be prime targets for virus creators. Viruses could be designed to make your fridge door swing open in the middle of the night - only to be discovered the next morning, or your central heating come on in summer. In fact any device with a Web connection could become infected. "The Internet is developing so quickly, that if you don't pay enough attention to security you face being attacked by viruses," said Ian Hale, UK MD of Kaspersky Lab. "As technology advances, so will the problems." The company said the next phase of viruses would hit mobile phones and wireless platforms. The Russian outfit exposed the first mobile phone email virus earlier this month. Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Kaspersky's labs in Moscow, said research was currently exploring anti-virus WAP software. Codenamed Prague, he said the system, still in its very early stages, "allows us to easily move the applications of our software to other platforms - including mobiles phones and PDAs". Mobile phone viruses, like the worm version which spammed phones at random two weeks ago, are relatively new. They have not done any major damage - nowhere near the monster proportions seen by the recent ILoveYou virus - yet. "As soon as virus presenters get access to development tools to develop these programmes - they will be able to target mobile phones," said Kaspersky. "Anti-virus companies have to move software from PC platforms to mobile platforms." A potential target for household appliance viruses emerged this week with the announcement of LG Electronics digital fridge. It has been developed to allow users to order groceries online. The "Internet Digital Dios Refrigerator" is due for release this month. "Refrigerator will not be just a food-storing box," an LG representative told the Korea Herald. "It will serve as a communications and entertainment tool for housewives as they do kitchen work." ® Yesterday the FBI said it had launched an investigation into an email virus said to have hit email systems at several major US companies. The "Stages of Life" worm, which masquerades as a text file, acts like the ILoveYou virus in that it forwards itself to everyone in the user's Outlook address book if the attachment is opened. It poses as a humorous file, and appears with a subject which contains the words "funny", "life stages", or "jokes". ®
Linda Harrison, 21 Jun 2000

Handspring IPOs, raised $200m

Palm licensee Handspring raised $200 million yesterday when it launched itself as a publicly owned company. The company sold ten million shares at $20 apiece, just over the $17-19 range it had previously predicted in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. That range was itself earlier downgraded from $19-22. Handspring's shares will begin trading on Nasdaq today, and it will be interesting to see what heights HAND shares reach. Palm IPO'd at $38 last March, but shot up to $165 on the first day of trading. Wall Street's downer on hi-tech stocks has since brought the price down to 27.125, a fall that prompted Handspring's cautious pricing policy. As of 9:30AM EST, Handspring was trading at 14.1875. ® Related Stories Handspring files for cautious IPO Handspring retail debut becomes instant chart-topper
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

BT could face legal action over hyperlink claim

BT could face legal action if it pursues its claim over the ownership of hyperlinks. Anger against BT's patent - predominantly in the US where the intellectual property specialists are currently talking to ISPs over issuing licences - has flared quicker than hooligans rioting after a game of basketball. Some experts quoted in the British press this morning claim BT has a strong case and could reap millions from US ISPs. Ironically, it's an action welcomed by some. Donavon J Pfeiffer Jr told The Register: "As an American citizen, steeped in greed and raised on profit motive and litigation, I am hopeful that BT wins this lawsuit. "I and my cyberbuddies will then launch a class action suit against BT for every broken link we've ever had to deal with using product liability as the basis for the suit. After all, one load of bovine fecal (UK spelling faecal) matter deserves another. It's also been suggested that since the patent was registered by the then state-owned General Post Office (GPO) and not a private company (BT), then the telco should have lost all rights to the patent years ago. Critics of this, no doubt, would argue that intellectual property - like real estate - would have been transferred to the new operation as a matter or course. Others have pointed out that the hypertext and hyperlink concept pre-dates that of even Ted Nelson's 1970s reference. Apparently, it goes at least as far back as Vannevar Bush's article, "As We May Think", published in the July 1945 edition of Atlantic Monthly. Elsewhere, one former BT employee wrote to provide an insight into the company's culture and offers an explanation as to why the patent has only now been unearthed. "You ask the question 'why did BT only decide now to capitalise on its intellectual property?' which betrays a certain lack of understanding about the internal culture of BT," according to this one-time "saltminer". "The illusion of a single-purpose or controlling strategy within BT is risible at best. It is a seething collection of warring little tin pot empires, more intent on crushing the opposition in the next office than facing the competition in the telecomms marketplace. "It staggers me that anyone in BT even found this old patent. The fact that it exists doesn't surprise me - BT holds patents on some wide-ranging (and often very tenuous) stuff. It's a regular occurrence at Martlesham Heath, when a manager is feeling a bit insecure, to post off the contents of a filing cabinet to the Intellectual Properties Unit (IPU) for them to pick over. Then at the end-of-year performance review, they can point to their score of XX patent applications as if this was some form of realised objective. "No doubt the eager IPU beaver who spotted this will be suitably rewarded with a book token or BT-branded tie. "When you think about research in the telecomms business, just ask yourself the question - how many Nobel Prizes go to Bell Labs and how many to BT?" No doubt BT's claim on this essential part of the Web will continue to spark comment and reaction. ® Related Stories BT invented hyperlinks shock BT claims ownership of hyperlinks
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2000

DTI denies Boo probe

The DTI has denied allegations that it is to rake failed e-tailer Boo.com over the coals. The Department of Trade and Industry has taken the rare step of denying a report on thisismoney.com, which stated that the failure of the sportswear e-tailer was to be probed by the government office. The article first appeared in the Financial Mail on Sunday on 18 June. Thisismoney, the Mail's online newservice, ran with the story which claimed: "Accountancy group KMPG, which acted as receiver for boo.com, is believed to have already submitted a detailed report on the collapse to the DTI. "The probe is likely to be conducted under Section 447 of the Companies Act, which allows the DTI confidentially to investigate the affairs of a company and report back, to recommend a full inquiry or propose sanctions such as banning of directors." However, the DTI and KPMG both say that's bunkum - the only reports submitted have been "standard procedure", and KPMG is still acting as provisional liquidator. What's more, section 447 can only be undertaken if a company is "live", with the intention of shutting it down if something is amiss, according to the DTI. The story, which said there was no suggestion that any directors would face a criminal investigation, had today been removed from the thisismoney.com site. A court hearing for Boo will take place on 28 June, where the official receiver - KPMG is likely to keep the job - will be appointed. ® Related Stories T-Online plays poker over Freeserve tax bill Boo.com - it lives! Boo assets go for a song
Linda Harrison, 21 Jun 2000

Dell dubs Linux ‘strategic’

Dell yesterday reiterated its support for Linux, naming the open source operating system as one of its "strategic" OS products and Red Hat as its preferred Linux supplier. Of course, use of words like "strategic" (at least in this context) is pretty meaningless. Ultimately, Dell doesn't much care what OS its customers want so long as they're buying Dell PCs and servers rather than a rival's. Yesterday's announcement simply says that Dell is offering and will support Linux alongside Windows and Netware. That said, Dell's statement does show that the company is serious about offering Linux as an alternative to Windows - that the open source OS is more than an obscure option for a certain specialist band of customers. Dell's announcement follows similar statements from Hewlett-Packard and IBM, made last year. Appointing Red Hat as preferred distributor makes sense, since it allows Dell to trade on the strength of Red Hat's brand, arguably the most well-known in the market. Dell will offer other distros, but only if so requested by the customer - Red Hat Linux will be installed as default. It's equally good new for Red Hat, which wants to grow its userbase in order to widen its opportunities to sell Linux and open source related services and consultancy, a crucial part of its plan to make a profit sometime next year. And, quid pro quo, it gets to trade on Dell's name, too. ® Related Stories Red Hat out of the red in 2001 - CEO Dell to hop on MP3 bandwagon
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

S3 licenses Dolby AAC ‘MP3 killer’

S3 is to support Dolby's Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) digital music format in future versions of its Rio MP3 player and the upcoming Rio 600. AAC offers higher music fidelity than MP3 and generates files that are around 30 per cent smaller than the industry standard format. In fact, AAC is part of the MPEG 2 digital media standard due to its superiority over MP3 - aka MPEG 1, Level 3. AAC provides up to 48 channels of audio, sample rates of up to 96kHz, and provides broadcast quality audio 320Kbps for a 5.1-channel audio. S3 actually licensed AAC back in April, through its RioPort digital music portal division, which suggests the company's finally getting ready to ship the new Rios. In a statement, S3 said it would work with Dolby to optimise AAC for the Rio, something we would imagine has been going on since the April announcement. And, of course, S3 will get the added kudos of stamping Dolby's famous double-D logo on its next-generation Rios, which arguably carries more brand recognition among the consumer electronics-buying public than the name 'MP3' does. That's a big step forward in bringing the digital music market into the audio mainstream. ® Related Story Dell to hop on MP3 bandwagon
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

Compaq clobbered in home PC market

Compaq is losing out in the UK home PC market due to intense competition from direct sellers Tiny and Time. And rivals Packard Bell and Hewlett-Packard are out-selling the Big Q in PC World and Dixons in this market. According to figures from IDC, Compaq took ninth place in home PC sales for the first quarter of this year in the UK. It fell behind Gateway and Apple - in seventh and eighth place respectively. Tiny was top of the league, ahead of Packard Bell and Time. HP grabbed sixth place for Q1 - and its market share grew from 2.6 per cent to 4.9 per cent for the previous twelve months ended January 2000. Compaq saw its market share slip from 7.8 per cent to 2.5 per cent for the same period, while Fujitsu Siemens fell form 6.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent. Andy Brown, an analyst at IDC, blamed Compaq's slump on distribution problems. He also felt quality issues, which plagued Presarios in Q4 1999, had impacted sales in the first quarter. Regarding HP's galloping market share, Brown said it was largely down to the vendor refreshing its Pavillion range, offering more models, and becoming a lot more efficient at handling its inventory. "Overall, it's got a better offering - plus there seems to be a lot of confidence at HP at the moment," he said. ® The top vendors in the UK home PC market for Q1 were: Tiny Packard Bell Time Dell Viglen HP Gateway Apple Compaq Related Stories HP gives resellers chance to win £1 million Compaq gets new UK MD
Linda Harrison, 21 Jun 2000

ADSL sweepstake could net more than a pony

ADSLuk, the e-zine that follows British broadband issues with the tenacity of a bush tracker, believes BT won't roll out domestic ADSL services before mid-to-late September 2000. What's more, it maintains that BT won't install domestic USB ADSL connections for its competitors - Demon, Freeserve and others - before its own punters. In fact, ADSLuk is so sure that BT will drag its heels over domestic ADSL installation, it's running a sweepstake to see who can guess correctly when it will be installed. Prizes include two months' free subscription to BT's domestic broadband service worth around £75 (when it is installed, of course) and the top ten albums of the week. First prize is two VIP tickets to Glastonbury 2001 - just as long as it happens after BT installs its first domestic user. According to the competition rules, transferrals from BT's trial to this service don't count. To take part in this one horse sweepstake, check out ADSLuk here. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2000

Intel's Grove to receive IEEE's highest honour

The IEEE will this week award Chipzilla chairman Andy Grove its highest accolade in recognition of pioneering semiconductor research and, well, helping the chip business shrug off its 'beards in white lab coats' image. At a ceremony to be held on Saturday in Vancouver, Canada, Grove will be awarded the IEEE's Medal of Honor. Numerous other electronics and chip boffins will also be given the official 'pat on the back' for their ground-breaking work. While an acclaimed semiconductor scientist, Grove probably hasn't done that much solid research for decades, at least since he took over the helm at Intel back in the mid-80s. Still, the IEEE is handing him his gong for "for pioneering research in characterising and modeling metal oxide semiconductor devices and technology". Then again, the medal is also to presented for Grove's "leadership in the development of the modern semiconductor industry", which is perhaps closer to the mark. And, in recognition of Grove's efforts to take the chiup industry mainstream, we'd like to suggest the IEEE present such an award every year, perhaps in the form a small, spangly bunny costume. Or maybe a medal embossed with an FDIV-bugged Pentium core. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Jun 2000

Freaky plastic aids phone recycling

The reputation of computer and mobile phone industries for being environmentally unfriendly is about to change. A group of engineers at Brunel University has developed a new "shape memory polymer" that will retain its shape even after heating and re-moulding. This means it will be possible to make phone casings that are easily disassembled, one of the major blocks to simple recycling of the valuable components. A report in the Daily Telegraph said the group has developed a prototype mobile phone using the new polymer. Different pieces will change shape at different temperatures, so that as the phone is gradually heated the casing will "pop" off, exposing the insides. The engineers hope that by making it less labour intensive to access the recyclable parts, it will become a more commercially viable option. European legislation has been proposed that would make it compulsory for manufacturers to recycle rather than dump electrical and electronic parts. It will be on display at the Science Museum in London from 3 July. The boffins say that the phones will only fall apart in extreme heat - so there is no need to worry if you leave your phone out in the sun. They are also being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to produce more gadgets. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jun 2000

BBC short-changes online commitment

BBC director general Greg Dyke is to inject an extra £58 million into public service broadcasting - but can only afford a paltry £8 (yes, eight pounds) for its revamped online sports service. This PR blooper was spotted by those offline vulture-eyed hacks at .net According to a statement issued today (be quick before the BBC changes it), Auntie said it would chuck £15 million to boost mainstream BBC TV channels; £ 6.5 million to help prop-up local radio; £4 million in extra children's content; £4 million to develop interactive education and digital text services and a piddly £8 for BBC Online to help launch a new sports site. Now the BBC may have lost the rights to show top notch football, cricket, F1 racing... and just about every other mainstream sport available come to think of it, but surely it can stump up more than eight quid for a new sports site? ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Jun 2000

Intel's Barrett: I will retire

StockholmStockholm In an unusually frank admission that he has other plans than to work for Intel forever, Craig Barrett, CEO of the semiconductor firm, told The Register he is looking for a successor, almost certainly from inside the company. Barrett, asked whether he had any plans to retire, said he was unaware of the rumours that his departure was in the offing, but did say that his replacement, when he or she arrives, may not be selected for their semiconductor background. Barrett, who is called "The Ice Man" within Intel because of his cool appraisal of issues, has had a tough two years, presiding over possibly the most difficult phases of execution at the company, and also implementing Intel as an Internet company in the wake of the Pentium FDIV fiasco. That, he added yesterday, had convinced Intel to look at the Internet seriously, and change the business model radically. Said Barrett: "I wasn't aware of these rumours. The last place you'll ever find me is in the US government." The idea of government made his blood pressure rise, he said. "I have no plans to resign in the short term. One of the jobs I do have is to organise an orderly succession. I doubt a successor would come from outside the company. Senior management has to be more generalised rather than be semiconductor born and bred." Sean Maloney, Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger and Paul Otellini and others have all been tipped for the top post at Intel after Barrett, known to love outdoor pursuits such as fishing and the like, retires. There must now follow a period of political infighting which Andy Grove, still the overall commander of Intel, will want to prevent. Gelsinger, for example, who designed the 386 processor which catapulted Intel into the big league, is favoured by many as the heir apparent. Ottellini, who was approached to replace Compaq's Eckhard Pfeiffer for Compaq, is known to be not particularly interested in top jobs. But Maloney, a Brit, despite his Irish name, and at one-time Grove's right hand man, might feel peeved by Barrett's outspoken comments. Barrett announced a two billion dollar investment in Dublin Monday, opened a Bluetooth centre in Stockholm Tuesday, and will be in Moscow this Friday. The fishing must be good, we suspect. He returns to Santa Clara on 27 June. ®
Mike Magee, 21 Jun 2000

Nike Web site owned by hacktivists

Hacktivists hijacked the Nike Web site, pointing surfers to another site announcing an event called S-11. The site is highly critical of globalism and its effects on the national economies, eco-systems and workers in third-world countries. The S-11 site announces a 'call to action' involving conferences and other protest activities to be organised in Melbourne, Australia, culminating in a bid to shut down the World Economic Forum (WEF) scheduled there from 11-13 September. The 2000 Olympic Games are set to begin on 16 September in Sydney, and Nike is a major sponsor. The company has long been a target of severe criticism charging that it operates factories in South America and Southeast Asia with near slave-labour conditions, in which children are often employed. "This September the worldwide social movement of creative resistance against globalisation will continue to raise its voice against the institutions of greed and exploitation," the organisers say. "S-11 will be a kaleidoscope of actions, conferences and workshops united in opposition to the current policies of corporate globalisation and the WEF." The hacked site has been mirrored by attrition.org A DNS hijacking is technically more sophisticated than a run-of-the-mill site defacement. Those wishing to learn more about it may consult this step-by-step tutorial by securiteam. The hack is also superior because it referred surfers to a fully-developed Web site filled with serious information and rational arguments, rather than the usual Script Kiddie offerings of a few cartoons and some illiterate obscenities. We give it a 9.2. Following a tip from Securitywatch's Peter Thomas, we discovered that, while the hijack has been interrupted and the Nike site has been restored, 24 hours after the attack Network Solutions was still reporting some 'irregular' information concerning Nike.com's administrative staff: Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact, Billing Contact: Fa Da Pa Das (FD2949-ORG) fadapadas@S11.org.uk S11.org.uk Fa Da Pa Das Fa Da Pa Das, EU Fa Da Pa Das UK Fa Da Pa Das Fax- Fa Da Pa Das Record last updated on 20-Jun-2000 It seems the hacktivists r00ted NSI quite deeply. We wonder how long it will be before they acknowledge the holes in their registration scheme, and take steps to bung them. ®
Thomas C Greene, 21 Jun 2000

Mexican opposition party hires crackers

Mexico's leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has commissioned computer hackers to crack a password protecting a list of those benefiting from a $100 billion bank bailout which followed the currency crisis of 1994 and 1995, Reuters reports. Opposition leaders have called for publication of the list, which they say will implicate businessmen and government officials in shady loan schemes. A disk containing the information is protected by five passwords held by Mexico's main political parties. Four opposition parties have revealed their passwords but the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has declined. "Our position is that the truth must be known," the wire service quotes PRD Congresswoman Dolores Padierna as saying. "The information has to be made public." The hackers are said to be "very optimistic" about cracking the final password before the 2 July elections, Padierna said. "That is our goal, to have it out as soon as possible." ®
Thomas C Greene, 21 Jun 2000