25th > June > 2000 Archive

Intel wants caviar, not cod roe, from IA-64

ColumnColumn A stretch of water was all that separated the King of Sweden and the King of the Itanic, Craig Barrett last week. And, we were assured by an earnest cab driver in Stockholm, you can still catch big fat salmon in these waters -- a fact certain to delight Intel's "Ice Man", a lover of outdoor pursuits. The fat salmon which Intel wants to land over the next three years, however, come in the somewhat protean shape of large corporations, deploying the firm's IA-64 marchitecture and turning those horrible UltraSparc, Power PC and Compaq Alpha sharks into nothing more than prickly sticklebacks. We know, from an Asian Pacific roadmap, details of which we released earlier this year, that Intel's pricing for its Itanium will become available to its OEMs in the middle of July. But that doesn't mean that Intel will launch the Itanium in July, a fact Barrett confirmed during a press conference he held after his keynote speech in Stockholm. First, he said that Itanium chips were in production, rather than just samples. "The launch probably won't be in July, and it won't be in December," he said. "We are planning to follow Merced (the former codename for the Itanic) aggressively with McKinley a year later. "You'll see early adopters [of the Itanic] and then you'll see other adopters later." Remember that the Itanic will be produced on a .25 micron process, and that McKinley, Intel has said, will become available towards the end of next year and will use .13 micron technology. Remember, also, that before Barrett took a plane to Stockholm, he cut the ribbon and announced a $2 billion expansion of his firm's Leixlip, Ireland fab. That, like the fab in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will move to .13 micron technology. This poses one of many questions for Intel on its IA-64 strategy, and incidentally, for Barrett, who executed the firm's successful factory plans before he took over day-to-day running of the CEO job from Andy Grove. First, we already know that Intel plans to move its production to .13 micron production, not just on its IA-64 family, but on its Willamette 479 chip, just as soon as it possibly can. This, as Intel's supply travails with its CuMine processors over the last nine months, is not simple. It now has five, maybe six fabs producing at .18 micron but has already vowed to shift to .13 micron. How long does it take to produce a .13 fab? Rather more than 12 months, we'd warrant. That would suggest that Intel, realistically, has no real hope that its IA-64 bricks will start appearing in volume until 2002 at the earliest. In the meantime, it can supply limited quantities of .13 McKinleys from the development plants it already has in place by this time next year. How many Willamette 479s can it deliver from its .13 fabs during Q2 2001? Secondly, lawks-a-mercy, Intel is dependent on the success of its software partners in porting the necessary doobries to its IA-64 platform. As we suggested some days back, the Monterey alliance appears to be on target for so-doing, the Linux crew are also doing pretty well, but it appears that Microsoft Win64 development has a way to go. It wouldn't be the first time, by any means, that Microsoft has held Intel's plans back... Strangely, even though Chipzilla's Dr Albert "even my mother has heard of copper interconnects" Yu, said two years back that his company has booked the Palm Springs Conference Centre for the next five years "because it was cheap", the next Intel Developer Forum will occur, in late August, in San Jose. Next February, it will be back in Palm Springs, we understand. Would it be beyond the realms of possibility that San Jose has been chosen to be the springboard for the launch of the IA-64? One hack asked Barrett a question about how much Intel's chip biz will contribute to the firm's bottom line in the next five years, and the answer was illuminating. Barrett said: "The majority of our revenues come from the IA (Intel Architecture) group. I would anticipate as you go forward to 2005, our semiconductor and chipset business will grow, but not as fast as the rest of the company. Five years from today, the majority of our income will still come from semiconductors". Nevertheless, this means that Intel has to walk on the edge of a razor as it implements its IA-64 processor strategy and its shift to .13 technology and copper over the next eighteen months to two years. It's not frightened of walking on razors and, unlike Microsoft, every time it takes a step forward it has to dig into its deep pockets to the tune of $2 billion a fab, and trust in its roadmap and its undoubted expertise. As AMD's Jerry Sanders III said so memorably some years back: "Only real men have fabs". If Sanders was right, and fabs equal testosterone, Barrett's Chipzilla is still giant to his Chimpzilla. The rest of Intel's 80,000 strong workforce, and the INTC shareholders, must be hoping that Barrett -- the "Ice Man's Ice Man" -- will have the iron determination will help him to land the monster IA-64 sturgeon, keep the caviar on the table and hold the wolves at bay. ®
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

T-Online bins Freeserve poker game

T-Online, the German ISP owned by Deutsche Telekom, has ended talks to buy Freeserve, Sunday Business reports. The newspaper attributes the collapse of the £6 billion bid to "cultural differences", with the Germans "said to have been worried that Freeserve's management, under John Pluthero, might have left the company following the cashing in of their share options. In the case of Pluthero, that would amount to £20 million, not exactly the biggest incentive to get out of bed in the morning to work for someone else. Can this really be the reason that the bid collapsed -- surely, T-Online would have wanted its own people on board? T-Online was not supposed to be so concerned about the £6 billion-headline price for Freeserve demanded by its majority owner, Dixons. So it looks for all the world like Dixons overplayed its hand. The company may find other prospective bidders - NTL, Telewest are supposed to be in the fray - are less willing and less able to shell such a large sum. Very simply, Freeserve is worth more to T-Online than it is to most other companies, as it could catapult it into a dominant position in consumer Internet access in two out of three of Europe's biggest economies. Perhaps T-Online will now adopt the more cautious route it took in France and buy a couple of smaller - and much cheaper - ISPs in the UK. As to Freeserve, it is still very much for sale. ® Related Stories T-Online plays poker over Freeserve tax bill T-Online ain't buying Freeserve - not yet, anyway
Drew Cullen, 25 Jun 2000

Watch out cyberkids… the Feds will get you

WCIT 2000WCIT 2000 James S. Gilmore III, chairman of the US advisory committee on electronic commerce and governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia -- and whose title is almost as lengthy as this story will be -- issued a stern warning to cyberterrorists at the World Congress of IT this morning. Said Gilmore: "Cyberterrorism is a potential threat not only to consumers but to the integrity of the Internet. Attacks will not be tolerated anywhere in the world." Kids messing around with viruses, concerted attacks on Web sites, and the rest, take heed of his warning. The US wants to implement tough new laws and any attack on cyberspace is likely to attract a far heavier penalty than tying rubbish cans to car bumpers and that sort of thing. Gilmore also hit out at governments which wanted to impose differential taxes -- for example VAT (value added tax) -- saying that this would hinder Net growth. "Governments can put blocks on the Internet. Governments must view the Internet as an opportunity. Let the Internet be for liberty and well-being throughout the world." ®
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

Odigo fights back against AOL

Plucky little instant messaging outfit, Odigo.com, has re-established contact with AOL's monster IM system despite having access blocked over the weekend. AOL pulled the plug on Odigo.com just ten days after the little Web outfit launched its latest software. At the time, Avner Ronen, Odigo's VP of Strategic Development, said he was "quite disappointed" by AOL's actions. But instead of rolling over and accepting AOL's decision Odigo has issued a patch which should resume links between the different IMs. A notice on its site reads: "YES, We've fixed the problem. There is a new patch to restore your AOL interoperability! "As we have stated previously, Odigo supports the creation of standard protocol so that all Instant Messaging applications can communicate with one another. To that end, we have provided our users with interoperability to ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger users, and are working toward compatability (sic) with other IMs. We hope that this patch and overtures we are making towards AOL will ensure that Odigo users will be permanently interoperable with AOL users." AOL has, in the past year, blocked Microsoft, Yahoo!, AT&T and Prodigy from offering similar instant messaging interoperability. No one from AOL was available for comment. Again. ® AOL cans IM outfit
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

Some like it Hotmail

There's no such thing as a free lunch, as 330,000 Hotmail users found out last week. Following a server breakdown, these people were locked out of their Hotmail free email accounts for 10 days. And when the server was powered up and back online, many found that all their data, including addresses and saved messages, were lost. It looks like Microsoft, Hotmail's owner-operator, put the repaired server back to work before fully completing data recovery routines. The company says that all data should be recovered, at some point. It is easy to imagine the frustration of the Hotmail users (a small proportion of the 66 million account holders), especially those foolhardy enough to use the account as their primary or sole email address. What is one to make of the people uncovered by Wired such as Tom Demchack, who runs a gourmet food-delivery business in Pittsburgh, USA. "I won't go into how much I lost, because as a heavy user of Hotmail, much business was contained in the various folders. Nor will I ever know what was lost while the server was down." Or Carl Toups, "a construction mechanic for the Navy in Gulfport, Mississippi". The Hotmail outage had disrupted communication between him and his 600 colleagues, he told Wired. Twenty of them have had to open Yahoo! instant messengers. Poor lambs. What are these people complaining about? Hotmail is a free email service designed for the consumer mass-market. It is not an appropriate business tool, as our Pittsburgh gourmet delivery man is, through his false economy, finding to his cost. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Jun 2000

Children-for-sex offered for sale on Net

The FBI has arrested a US man for attempting to buy two children on the Net for the purpose of engaging in sex. Fifty-three year-old Jonathan Christopher Wood, from Georgia, was prepared to pay £8,000 for the boys, according to Reuters. The FBI's Crimes Against Children Taskforce, which monitors paedophile activity, made the arrest earlier this month. Wood was caught after the FBI tracked his activities in an Internet chat room. It's not known whether children were genuinely for sale, or whether the incident was part of an FBI sting to snare paedophiles. However, no one else has been arrested in connection with the sale. Wood had recently moved to Georgia from Arizona, where he had owned a company that provided Internet access.® Related Stories You can read the full Reuters story here.
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

Oftel caves in to BT demands

Oftel has been accused of pandering to BT over technical guidelines for unbundling the local loop. Last week the winged watchdog stepped in to force a decision on key technical issues. It intervened because of an alleged stalemate between telcos and hardware suppliers over the guidelines. At the time, David Edmonds, Director General of Oftel said: "Oftel has published the draft plan to ensure that there is no interference between equipment installed on unbundled local loops. "Since industry was unable to reach a consensus on this issue, Oftel's guidelines set out a balanced solution." But one of those who took part in the negotiations has spoken out about Oftel's decision. "I was present," he said, asking to remain anonymous. "This was supposed to have been ruled last year, but BT succeeded in spinning it out, stone-walling and filibustering. "So, now OFTEL have ruled and delivered something. It is nice that they actually came to a decision, and yes, we can all hope it shows signs that they may perhaps have grown a backbone (maybe)... "But the actual text of the decision essentially gives everything that BT wanted, and is essentially a slap in the face to MCI, Fibrenet, first, [and] Colt, C&W and Eircom, who vigorously opposed BT in this -- and filed formal documents saying so. "I think BT will be toasting this decision -- who cares about being told off for delay when that was your strategy all along?" A spokesman for Oftel defended the watchdog and said that the proposals were balanced. ® Related Stories Oftel kicks butt
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

AOL cans IM outfit

AOL has blocked users of its instant messaging(IM) software from mingling with those loyal to small-fry IM outfit, Odigo.com. AOL pulled the plug just ten days after Odigo.com launched its latest software. "We are quite disappointed that AOL has responded to our interoperability in this fashion", said Avner Ronen, Odigo's VP of Strategic Development. "We provided AOL interoperability as an option for our users because of an overwhelming call for it. "Without IM interoperability the social surfer suffers, the Internet consumer suffers, business communication suffers, and e-commerce suffers - everyone loses," he said In a statement Odigo claims the block came "without warning". No one from AOL was available for comment by press time. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

UK in Internet success shock – Cisco

WCIT 2000WCIT 2000 Countries which don't take Internet technology seriously will fall behind others which do, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, said at a press conference here this morning. And, apparently, Tony Blair, who couldn't use a PC before he became UK prime minister in 1997, does take it seriously, Chambers added. Blair has talked to Chambers about the best way to introduce more health service benefits using Web applications given the amount of money available in the National Health Service. Chambers said: "The strength of an economy is directly related to the use of technology. Although I hate to say it because I'm a Republican, Clinton got that. "This is what prime minister Blair clearly understands. You can grow your economy at the same rate as you grow productivity." "The Internet will form half of gross domestic product by 2010. In Europe, only the UK moved. The French and Germans were slow to move. Countries who do not use these Web applications will not be successful. Countries with de-regulated infrastructure and who couple the Internet to education will be successful." According to Chambers, countries can benefit both in health care and giving better information to their citizens. But, as part of the way the Internet will affect all of our lives, Chambers predicted that cars will act as portals and each individual will have between three to four devices on the body, including health monitoring services and GPS (global positioning systems). "Everything will be connected," Chambers said. He forecast that in the future, everything will get cheaper on a global basis, so companies "must constantly" re-invent their business models. "Data transport will commoditise as well. It will not just be jobs but capital and entrepreneurship [which will be shared] globally." ®
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

Anarchists and Thatcher unite over RIP

The government's Web monitoring bill may cost British industry £46 billion, a report warned yesterday. The British Chamber of Commerce revealed details of a report on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill, which claimed the government had "substantially underestimated the cost of compliance of ISPs". It put the total cost to ISPs at £640 million over the next five years around six times higher than the governement's prediction. Worse still, the full financial cost to the country - taking into account RIP's implementation and fears over businesses scarpering overseas to avoid the clampdown - was put at £46 billion over five years. Meanwhile, the London School of Economics and the Institute of Directors have also chorused their disapproval of the Bill over the last week. They have become strange bedfellows with human rights organisations and ISPs, all trying to force the government to abandon or amend its proposals. The protestors are now pinning their hopes on allies in the House of Lords to defeat the bill. RIP's committee stage kicked off yesterday afternoon after a heated debate on the state of feral pigeons in Trafalger Square. It is expected to run for several weeks, with ex-Iron Lady Baroness Thatcher, who is generally believed to be a supporter of the bill, expected to be among those calling for amendments. ®
Linda Harrison, 25 Jun 2000

Chase Manhattan bulldozes URL from IT minnow

Chase Manhattan Bank has forced a small IT consultancy to hand over its domain or face costly legal action. Employees at Chase Business Solutions are so incensed by the bank's bullying tactics they've decided to deliver the shirts off their own backs in a coffin to the monster bank on Friday in protect at its actions. "We've spent around £25,000 in legal costs [fighting this case so far] and that's a lot of money for a small company," said Jenna Stevens, operations manager at Chase Business Solutions. "And it's going to cost us more than £15,000 to transfer our business to its new name," she said. Chase Manhattan first began sniffing around chase.co.uk in November 1997 -- a year after the IT company acquired the domain. In August 1998 Chase Manhattan's lawyers demanded that Chase Business Solutions hand over the domain, and pay costs and damages, alleging that the IT company infringed its trademark. Unfortunately for Chase Business Solutions, the cost of fighting its corner proved too much for the Ipswich company. "Like most small companies we cannot afford the time and money required to fight a protracted legal battle," it said in a statement. "Even if we won and got full costs, finding the working capital -- potentially a six figure sum -- to fund the trial was impossible. We have no choice but to negotiate a settlement." But the fearless British company won't go down without a fight -- hence the direct action at Chase Manhattan' London Wall offices on Friday A statement on its Web site reads: "Chase Business Solutions expires in its current form at the end of June. Our crime? To have the audacity to purchase the chase.co.uk domain name before Chase Manhattan Bank did. "Over the last two years, Chase Business Solutions Limited has been fending off the bizarre claim that they have been infringing Chase Manhattan's trademarks and passing off as a major investment bank." Despite its heroic stand Chase Business Solutions has now changed its name to SolutionsWarehouse.Com. It has received £7,500 from the bank to help relaunch its business. No one from Chase Manhattan was available for comment by press time. ® Related Site Chase.co.uk
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

First Web site killer trial starts

A Kansas man known as "Slavemaster" in online sexual chat rooms is due to appear in court tomorrow, June 15, accused of killing five women. John Robinson has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. The bodies of two women were found stuffed in 55-gallon barrels on his farm in Linn County, Kansas. Three more were also discovered in similar circumstances in a rented storage facility in Missouri. It is alleged that Robinson used a hammer or blunt instrument to beat the women to death. The 56-year-old had already been in custody since June 2 on charges of sexual assault after S&M sex encounters with two women he met through the Web. His bail was $5 million. It is believed he used the Internet to meet women from all over the US, such as alleged victim Suzette Trouten. Her family claim she was lured through a chat room by the promise of $62,000 to care for an "elderly father". Trouten disappeared after moving to Robinson's farm to work for him. Investigators believe Robinson, who has a wife and family, sometimes posed as a businessman who wanted to help young women find work. And detectives fear their discovery could be the tip of the iceberg and that the trail of killings could date back as far as the mid-eighties. At least four other people reportedly connected to Robinson at this time, three women and a 5-month-old girl, are also missing. The prosecution, reported to be seeking the death penalty for Robinson, is refusing to reveal the full extent of the role played by the Internet in the case. ®
Linda Harrison, 25 Jun 2000

Straw hits back at RIP Bill critics

Jack Straw, the home secretary, has hit back at critics of the RIP Bill. In a letter to today's FT, he dismissed estimates from the London School of Economics that the Bill could lose Britain up to £46 billion in lost ebusiness as "wildly exaggerated". And he ticked off the FT for giving credence to the LSE report, in an article last Thursday. "I will wager my next year's salary and multiples of the circulation of the FT that the figures are wrong," he said. Straw makes a killer debating point when he says the lost revenue estimate is "literally incredible", given that ecommerce currently accounts for just 0.6 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product - around about £5 billion. The RIP(Regulatory of Investigatory Powers) Bill enables law enforcers to intercept emails and imposes tough penalties on ISPs which fail to comply with onerous compliance rules. So far as Straw is concerned, RIP is a straightforward law enforcement issue. Crime costs the UK £50 billion a year and criminals are using the Internet to launder some of the proceeds. The police and other law enforcement agencies need the tools to cope with this. And the way the law is right now, email interception is illegal. Straw says RIP will be used sparingly and judiciously - and points to the successful introduction of "similar legislation" in the Netherlands. Well then. We can all rest safely in our beds, knowing the government wants Draconian powers, but does not intend to use them. It's all a lot of fuss and nonsense got up by some pesky civil rights activists, some of whom you can find here at Stand. ® Related stories Anarchists and Thatcher unite over RIP FT: Minister attacks critics of e-mail interception
Drew Cullen, 25 Jun 2000

Sub £200 Internet TV hits the streets

Computer-shy Brits can now get their own portable TV with built in Web access for under £200. Television manufacturer Alba started shipping the Bush Internet TV to retailers this week. The product is available in with 14-inch screen and costs £199, while a 21-inch model is expected to retail at around £300. Alba, a company so clued up about the Internet that it has yet to get its own company Web site, hopes to sell more than half a million of the online TVs before the end of the year. It has ploughed £3.5 million into developing the product with set-top box maker Pace Micro Technology. The ISP service is provided via a joint venture between World Online's Telenco and Alba's Bush Internet ISP, while Virgin Net is the content provider. Revenue from the subsidised TV set will come from advertising, e-commerce and phone charges. According to today's FT, Alba CEO David Harris reckons the operation will break even in two years. The TVs are aimed at punters unaccustomed to the Net viewers can plug the set straight into a phone line and use a remote control that folds out into a small keyboard with integrated mouse. The boxes are already in Argos and will be in most electrical goods sheds by July.®
Linda Harrison, 25 Jun 2000

AltaVista exposed

The Free Internet Group's (TFIG) High Court claim has lifted the lid on AltaVista's delayed bid to offer unmetered access to the Net earlier this year. Aside from whether the allegations are true or not - that will be for the court to decide if it gets that far - the claim documents the steps leading up to AltaVista's public launch and unprecedented press coverage. In March, the Californian company won the backing of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a time when the pressure for unmetered Net access was at an all-time high. The story held centre stage for the BBC's top news programmes including Today and Newsnight. And even Britain's tabloid newspapers - which usually reserve their front pages for more lurid or scandalous content - sang AltaVista's praises. This legal action gives Net industry watchers an opportunity to piece together a jigsaw puzzle of events that left many scratching their heads over Alta Vista's actions. Originally, news of Alta Vista's plans to offer cheap, unmetered access to the Net hit the headlines around the 4th or 5th of March. What's now clear is that the service could have gone live the week before, but for "technical" reasons it didn't. If this is the case and AltaVista had concerns about TFIG, then why did it proceed with a major PR offensive when it was fully aware it couldn't deliver? What's more, why did Alta Vista's top man in the UK, Andy Mitchell, tell The Register that Alta Vista had no telco or ISP in place to support the service? Yet according to TFIG, both companies had already signed a contract to offer the service. Equally, what reservations did Alta Vista have about TGIF? According to a letter published in the High Court claim, AltaVista had fears "regarding quality and technical issues". It appears to have rapidly lost faith in TFIG's staffing levels and technical expertise. But is this the true reason why AltaVista pulled back form the deal? And if so, why weren't these issued raised during negotiations? Or are there other forces at work? Interest in AltaVista - and its virtual silence following its deafening launch - has grown exactly because there are so many unanswered questions. Speculation over the past months about AltaVista has ranged from those who suggested the e-outfit was about to ditch its plans to offer an ISP, to those who maintained the March launch was merely a publicity stunt aimed at boosting interest in a float. More recently, of course, it has found its voice again with the announcement that it is to offer Net access based on the wholesale unmetered product, FRIACO, at the end of the month. Except now, Alta Vista has the threat of legal action hanging over its June 30th launch. ® Related Stories Alta Vista in High Court battle with British ISP British ISP sues AltaVista
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

Spam filters don't work shock new survey

Spam filters designed to weed out unsolicited email don't work, according to the findings of a recent US study. The tests - carried out by eTesting Labs (formerly known as ZDNet's in-house techies) - measured the "effectiveness and accuracy of server-level anti-spam solutions employed by email service providers, irrespective of any filters operating on a user's PCs". Of those tested, AT&T WorldNet out performed AOL, Juno, Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and ten other service providers. AT&T WorldNet was using Brightmail's Anti-Spam Solution. But despite filtering out some 73 per cent of the spam, it still failed to pick up more than a quarter of the junk email being sent out. AOL and Yahoo! only managed to block 40 per cent and 36 per cent of spam respectively. While Brightmail is crowing about its success, the fact remains that spam cannot be controlled by technology alone. Legislation is the only way it can be tackled effectively. US legislators are trying to get to grips with the problem with a number of anti-spam proposals designed to protect Net users. Yet consumers' groups in Europe which should be defending the rights of Net users still maintain they don't have a policy on spam. While Britain's Consumers' Association and the European Consumers' Group (BEUC) remain irresolute on the issue, perhaps they would like to make a mental note that Web filters aren't all they're cracked up to be. No doubt this will really help their indecision-making. ® Related Stories US bids to ban spam Consumers' Association in spamfest Consumer watchdogs fail the Spam Test
Tim Richardson, 25 Jun 2000

Where the hell are… DDR chipsets?

UpdatedUpdated Many a weary trek around the three Computex halls failed to provide even one example of a motherboard based on double data rate (DDR) memory, despite the noise and fury of that contingent this year and last. So where are these rare birds? Even representatives of Via, which has pushed DDR like there's no tomorrow, could only hold out tentative hopes of an Autumn launch, which sounded to us more like October than September when we pressed them the point. Hats off, in this case, to Rambus. A day after we reported that top executive Richard Crisp had been booted out of the DDR conference Via held on Monday, he came and met us and talked his talk. This was a surreal situation, not that that sort of situation fazes us here at Situation Publishing. Crisp brought along another Rambus suit, and through the sort of Serendipity that Computex produces, we found ourselves facing Dr Tom Pabst, of Tom's Hardware, sandwiched between the two. For some reason or other, The Register and Tom's Hardware are seen as being anti-Rambus. The other Rambus guy is a tri-athlete and was almost choked by the Hyatt Cheers bar smoke, at one point rounding on Tom and saying: "Hey, you're a doctor. Don't you know you're killing yourself?" Be that as it may. The fact is there wasn't a single DDR chipset at the Computex show and that speaks volumes for the committee-based attitude of this open industry standard. Perhaps Rambus has had a rough ride. Nevertheless, the fact remains, as one acute industry observer said, if you pay extra money for them thar RIMMs, you expect to get extra performance too. So will Via produce chipsets that support Rambus? On that question, the boys were curiously silent. They were even more silent about a quick future for DDR chipsets though, and that is seriously ominous. Particularly so, given that major Taiwanese memory supplier Mosel Vitelic said early in the Computex week that DDR would displace SDRAM by the end of this year... ® Update Thanks to our readers, once again, for finding at least one example of a mobo. At Japanese site Pricewatch there is a picture of a board. Other readers have asked us about producion of the KT133. Most manufacturers we spoke to said they expect volume late June, early July, and were still receiving updates to the Via chipset. But what's bothering the Taiwanese firms more is that there appears to be as many as a million boards piled up in Taipei warehouses which were designed using the KX-133 chipset, and which will now be useless. Fingers are being pointed at both Via and AMD. Incidentally, Crisp insists he wasn't kicked out of the DDR forum. He may be right. But the fact is his buddy, the bottom half of the Pabst sandwich, sat right the way through it, wearing his Rambus-branded shirt. So Via's security engine has a little way to go, despite the fact that chairman and CEO Wen Chi is an ex-Intel employee
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

Toshiba DDR Dramurai domino falls to Rambus

Anyone old enough to remember the fab TV footage from the 70s when a new type of fever gripped the Japanese, and we saw gazillions of DIMM size dominoes falling all in a row? Because, in news that has a great deal of relevance for the PC industry, Toshiba last night became the biggest memory player to bite the Rambus bullet and to license SDRAM (synchronous memory) and DDR (double data rate) memory from the Mountain View intellectual property machine. Under the terms of the agreement, Toshiba will license high speed DDR and SDRAM memory interfaces invented by Rambus, and will pay through the nose for the privilege of so-doing. A press release from Rambus said: "The royalty rates are greater than the RDRAM compatible rates...and include royalties for SDRAM and for controllers that directly interface with SDRAM, as well as a license (sic) fee for the entire agreement." It will also carry on paying Rambus Royale. Didn't think that Rambus had the rights to such things? Cast your mind back to stories we ran earlier this year, particularly a court case still pending between Hitachi and Rambus. Rambus claims that DDR memory that is being produced or will be produced by Hitachi infringe its patents. Hitachi counterclaims that Rambus is infringing the Sherman anti-trust case. The Rambus royalties that the Dramurai have to pay amount to under two per cent, and while it is not unusual for hi-tech firms to charge royalties, the difference here is that Rambus is an IP firm only. The Toshiba agreement is almost certain to weaken Hitachi's case against Rambus, and, in the short term at least, could mean a sharp spike in SDRAM prices. Other members of the Jedec memory trade association (of which Rambus was, once, a member), will be a-quivering in their boots at this move. Sources said that Rambus wants triple damages from companies that infringe its DDR and SDRAM patents. The Dramurai, now that Toshiba has crumbled, would seem to be in some disarray. NEC wants to buy Hitachi's DRAM outfit, but is being stymied by the litigation that continues. We can only presume Toshiba staff have either examined Rambus patents and think that the IP company is right in its belief, or that it wants to avoid a legal action where it may be forced to pay even more for the privilege of making synchronous memories... ® Rambus (ticker: RMBS) has a conf call scheduled before the market opens in New York this morning. Expect to see its share price perform cartwheels and skip a light Fandango, whatever that is. And two comments from our lovely readers since we filed this story. The first would make a Flame of the Week except it's always from the same psycho: "Toshiba will "pay through the nose" ... You just can't resist a negative spin. You will remain a dumbass your entire "journalistic" life. I hope someone in the memory business is paying you plenty to justify your existence as a techno-whore. I realize you are to stupid to understand why Ramus (sic) is going to win, so make the dough anyway you can. The second, from a Yahoo board, is marginally less entertaining: "Rambus will get royalties for just about every bit of silicon short of breast-implants". Silicon, of course, differs from silicone."
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

Mentor attack on Cadence blown to bits

Normally, legal tussles in the wacky world of EDA are pretty dull fare, but when a judge accuses one of the CEOs involved of widespread fraud, fabricating evidence and staging break ins to their own property... Now pay attention at the back, this is a tad complex. When Chip designer Cadence bought out Quickturn just over a year ago, rival Mentor Graphics was mightily peeved. Mentor had made a hostile bid for Quickturn and Decadence took on the role of white knight in a boardroom tussle that lasted for months before Cadence finally emerged victorious. Mentor vowed revenge and paid hardware verification outfit Aptix a million bucks to license a patent that would then allow them to sue Cadence/Quickturn for infringement. Mentor also loaned Aptix a further $3 million and even promised to pay all legal costs. Mentor already had another patent infringement lawsuit underway against Quickturn, while Quickturn was suing Mentor in Europe over violations of European variants of Quickturn patents. Clear so far? Now EE Times reports that a federal judge has accused Amr Mohsen, president and CEO of Aptix, of committing widespread fraud and as a result, the suit has been dismissed, and the patent in question ruled unenforceable. This is a bit of a bugger for Aptix as not only is its top management more than likely in very serious trouble, but one of its key patents in the hardware emulation area is now unenforceable. Amr Mohsen and his brother Aly allegedly fabricated entries in a 1989 engineering diary and created a completely fraudulent 1988 one. According to the court, the notebooks were faked to prove that the patent, dating from 1989, was based on an invention made by Amr Mohsen in the previous year. Book 'em, Danno Rather unfortunately, forensic testing proved otherwise, with all of the 1988 notebook and much of the 1989 one being forged. Some of the ink in the books was proved to have been manufactured after 1994, prompting Judge Alsup to accuse Mohsen of "a premeditated and prolonged effort to deceive the defendant and this court." And then, as if by magic, the dodgy notebooks disappeared when Mohsen, alone in the Aptix parking lot, allegedly broke his own car window in a staged break in. He then produced collaborating documents, which the court also found to be faked. It was never Mentor be this way The Judge dismissed the entire complaint, ruled the patent unenforceable, and ordered Aptix to pay Quickturn's court costs. There was no immediate ruling on whether the Mohsens would face fraud charges. Mentor claims the company knew nothing of the nefarious goings-on at Aptix, and when asked whether the patent was licensed for the sole purpose of suing Quickturn, a spokesman replied, "I don't know." "This is a huge victory from our standpoint," said Smith McKeithen, senior vice-president and general counsel at Cadence. Cadence's European Marketing Director, Mark Gallagher, put it more succinctly: "Some of this stuff is simply beyond belief." ® Related story Cadence goes back to the future
Andrew Thomas, 25 Jun 2000

AMD acts to save mobo makers' faces

Taiwanese major manufacturers who faced ending up with a million useless Via mobos using the KX-133 chipset have been saved by AMD largesse, it emerged today. Last week, we reported from the Computex show in Taiwan that up to a million motherboards using the KX, rather than the KT-133 Via chipset were lying a mouldering in Taiwanese warehouses, after AMD introduced its Socket A platform. But today, a senior AMD representative from Europe said that his firm would guarantee it will continue to manufacture Slot A chips so that its mobo customers don't end up with useless and unsaleable gear. Richard Baker, marketing director of AMD Northern Europe said his firm was committed to ensuring that motherboard customers would receive adequate stocks of Slot A microprocessors. AMD would ensure mobo manufacturers were not left in the lurch, he confirmed. Baker also added that AMD would not be endorsing a so-called "slotket" answer to the problem of transition, although he was sure such solutions would be designed. Earlier this year, Intel took the unusual step of advising the adoption of various circuit boards to bridge the transition from its own Slot One solution to flip chip socketed Pentium Coppermines. But it leaves open the question of how people who buy the boxes containing K7s know whether they are Slot A devices (Thunderbird) or Socket A (old Athlon) devices inside. Unless they open the box, of course. And does it matter? It also poses questions about supplies of K7 chips, of whichever flavour. Will AMD hold up production of Socket A Athlons while they satisfy Taiwanese mobo makers? Meanwhile, and for the sake of readers who have already asked us, we are still collecting details of the remarking of AMD Athlons which is undoubtedly happening in Taiwan. We hope to update you on this over the weekend. And in other news, AMD Zone is reporting that AMD will build a 12-inch superfab.
Mike Magee, 25 Jun 2000

Wanted SysAdmin for Vulture Central

Situations VacantSituations Vacant Are you an experienced SysAdmin? Are your Perl skills unparalled? Do you know Linux as well as Linus does? If you do, The Register wants to hear from you. Now. Because we've grown so quickly, so far over the last 18 months, we now need someone to take full charge of Vulture Central's increasingly complex Web server set-up. We're looking to recruit a SysAdmin with at least two years' experience in a Unix and/or Linux-based Internet environment. You'll also have a solid working knowledge of both Perl 5 and MySQL on Linux. We also expect you to demonstrate your experience with Linux clusters, basic TCP/IP networking, system and network security, and an understanding of load-balancing techniques (previous experience of Cisco Local Director would be a distinct advantage). In return, not only are we offering a very competitive salary (according to experience), but a Central London (Mayfair) office and the opportunity to be part of the IT world's most respected, most feared news source. You too can bite the hand that feeds IT. We welcome applications from anyone with the relevant experience. However, you must be able to demonstrate you have the legal right to work in the UK, and you must be (or be willing to relocate to) within easy reach of our server centre in the City of London. Letters of application and CVs should be emailed to Linus Birtles, The Register's Publisher. The closing date for applications is Monday 17 July. ®
Team Register, 25 Jun 2000

BOFH: What the Microsoft break-up really means

Episode 21Episode 21 BOFH2000: Episode 21 So I'm doing some equipment audits, which basically means wandering around peoples’ desktops while they're away and making sure that what the service database says they have, and what they REALLY have, correspond with each other. Not a challenging task by any stretch of the imagination... And as per usual, it has to be done early in the morning so that I don't get exposed to the mindless questions of the using masses. (There's only SO many times you can be asked how to change the desktop wallpaper, a password, or tweak the screen brightness before you feel like stuffing the person's pay-cheque into the shredder) I'm just finishing stuffing someone's pay-cheque into the shredder (pre-emptive strike - the best defence being a good offence and all that) when an early rising user walks in, wondering why their desktop machine has its cover off. "Just taking an inventory of the hardware your system's configured with," I respond to their inquiry. "But you already did that last year!" he blurts. "We do it every year," I reply, "so we can keep track of all the upgrades that have occurred and equipment that's been added." "Well I hope it goes smoother than last year - I'm sure that my machine ran a lot slower after you'd run that hardware checking program on it." Sigh. "Sometimes the cataloguing program notes systems anomalies like overclocked CPUs or misconfigured memory configurations, which will eventually lead to Access Violation problems and frequent Bug Checks," I respond, "so we rectify them." *DUMMY MODE ON!* Of course, I could tell him the real reason - that the cataloguing software noted that the system concerned REALLY DID have a serious memory anomaly - it had 64 Meg when 32 would do. No sooner noted than rectified with the aid of a common household DIMM removal tool. (I could be Father Theresa, my life is so devoted to helping people). "Oh. Ok. Well how long will it be till you're done?" "Oh, I'm finished now," I cry happily, suppressing a momentary feeling of guilt as the last of his pay packet disappears into the slot of death. "I'll just pop the cover back on your box and you'll be back in business!" "Actually, while you're here, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "By all means!" "Well I've been reading about this break-up of Microsoft - will any of my programs be affected by it?" "You mean will the change in the corporate structure of company affect the software made by that company and currently installed on your machine?" "Yes." My feelings of remorse disappear quicker than a hardware warranty after clock-chipping and I'm back to normal self. "Well, it's hard to say. You see, what the ruling in effect means is that Microsoft has become far too powerful and has begun monopolising the market – it's the US government's form of a practical joke really." "Huh?" "Well they encourage people to build a big company and pay huge amounts of tax, and yet when they do so, they say it's bad and tell you that you have to break it up to be less competitive" "But weren't they using unfair business tactics?" "The term 'business' makes the term 'unfair' redundant in that sentence." "You sound like you AGREE with them!" "Can't stand them, to be honest, but that's hardly the point. Now back to your question - will it affect your desktop?" "Yes" "Unfortunately it probably will. Because of the split up, you'll probably have limitations on the size of documents created with the applications. It shouldn't affect you a lot - as long as you don't have any documents over 20k in size" "But MOST of my documents are over 20k in size - I do the employment contracts." "Really?" (This just gets better and better.) "Well what will happen is that they'll probably set a limit on the amount of pages of data you can edit at one time. Probably one." "ONE PAGE! All of my documents are longer than that. How do I get around it?" "Well.. I don't know if I should tell you this..." "Oh please, it'll kill me to have to split all my documents up." "Well.... ..Ok, I spose I can tell you. You have to DELIMIT the documents" "How?" "Just go into DOS, and type DEL *.*" "HEY! Doesn't that Delete them?" "No, the Delete command is REM - They changed all that years ago - you've been using Windows too long." "Oh." "And while you're at it you'll probably want to delimit everyone else's files too, plus all the ones on the server -I think the delimit command gets replaced with the new Operating System we're installing later today." "Oh, Ok, I'll get right onto it." "Good. And while you're at it, you probably want to delimit the NTLDR, the boot.ini, and everything in the Profiles directory on the disks too - just to be on the safe side in case they want to split out the Multination Characterisation of the Interface to the Base Operating System." ***DUMMY MODE IRREVOCABLY ON*** "Du-Ok." Like shooting fish in a barrel. ® BOFH is the Bastard Operator From Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.
Simon Travaglia, 25 Jun 2000

BOFH gets Blood on His Hands

Episode 22Episode 22 BOFH 2000: Episode 22 So, as part of the Company-wide lip service to Health and Safety, anyone in an area deemed potentially dangerous has to go on a First Aid refresher course. And wouldn't you know it, because of a minor statistical anomaly in the workplace accident figures, the Computer Room is found to be the most dangerous place in the Building. As it should be. Still, The PFY and I are REQUIRED to attend the course, which isn't so bad when you consider the company's picking up the Tab for a day off work. And we do get a shiny first aider badge. To wear to the pub. At our respective wakes. "Yes, that IS the correct way to use a defibrillator," our instructor informs The PFY calmly. "However it's not generally the recommended method for treating a broken arm, which is what we're looking at currently." With a sigh The PFY puts down the paddles of the unit, which is no doubt suffering from a seriously depleted battery and leaves the resuscitation manikin to smoulder out. "Now back to broken arms; what's the best treatment for them?" "It depends on how they were broken.." The PFY answers, beating everyone in the assembled group for our tutor's attention, like the closet brownnoser he is. "Yes, true," she responds. "If the fracture is what we call an 'Open' fracture, we would want to treat it differently than a normal 'Closed' fracture." "Oh. I was thinking more along the lines of 'did I slam their arm in a door, and should I give it a twist to make my point - for luck'. Sort of thing." "Yessss.." she replies, clearly deciding not to dig any deeper into that particular quagmire. "Anyway, what we're looking at is whether there is bleeding associated with the injury or not, and whether there's a necessity to treat that first." The Boss, meantime (here because he too values the idea of a day out of the office) is looking just a tad queasy - obviously not too keen on the blood idea.. Best go easy on him. "Blood you say," I cry loudly, "Would that be like a LOT of blood?" "Well it depends really on the organs involved, and how they're affected." "So the blood could just GUSH out, ALL OVER everything, or if could just OOOOOZE?" The Boss is now looking like a Procol Harum song and starting to waver in his chair, which is the perfect time for an interlude... "I think we need to get him some fresh air," I cry, pointing out The Boss to the instructor. "Yes, yes, very good idea." "I'll bring the shock machine!" The PFY cries, leaping toward the device in question. "That won't be necessary" she responds, "All he needs is a little lie down in some cool air for a minute or two." The PFY barely hides his disappointment, but rallies -- by snaffling The Boss's wallet and standing on his personnel disorganiser -- while helping him to the window. A gust of fresh diesel fumes to the nostrils and The Boss is back in the Land of the Living. "Where's my wallet!?!" he cries, performing his Power on Self Test true to form. "Here it is," The PFY offers, "Just looking after it." The Boss scrabbles through it, but everything seems to be intact. Ten minutes later we've all seen a sling in action and managed to pair up to give it a try ourselves. I, sadly didn't quite get the hang of it, so to speak, and mistakenly wrapped the noose - I mean bandage - around The Boss's neck. And it's true what they say about a well-tied reef knot - it doesn't slip. After The Boss has his second bout of fresh air, we begin again, pausing during the bleeding stage for The Boss to recover yet again. Sigh. The next day we're all back on fine form and I'm showing The Boss some of the sights of the computer room. He wants to go through every SINGLE bloody accident that's ever happened in the place and see if our course has covered it - before he pays this invoice. Sigh. . . . "And this is where that engineer slipped and tripped down the raised floor tile - breaking his arm - which incidentally that accident happened the very day after he told us that we didn't have 24 hour response.." "Yes, yes," The Boss murmurs, ticking off something on his clipboard. "We'll have to put up warning signs on the walls about that." "..Oh! And this is where we had that mild electric shock when wear and tear on the power cable accidentally connected phase to this cabinet. Nasty burn and a bit of hysteria there." "Yes, perhaps we should make it a rule that everyone entering the room has to use insulated gloves," he burbles. "Ah" The PFY cries, "This is where that consultant who was always complaining about not having access to the computer room accidentally climbed on top of the machine. And this is where he broke off one of the smoke detectors with his head - causing the halon to be released." "Really - he broke it off with his head?" "Near as we can tell - he quit after the accident, so we didn't have a chance to ask him about it." "Yes. Those consultants all have First Aid certificates, don't they? I know, I've got an idea! Why not let them all have access to the computer room - which should increase the safety of the area many times over!" !!! "Let them into my computer room?" I ask. "Yes," The Boss replies happily. "Well I suppose so," I respond, ignoring The PFY's look of horror. "They certainly would have come in handy that time I cut my finger on the sharp edge of the inside of this cabin... oh look, I've done it again!" I pull my arm out of the cabinet and sure enough there's a large cut along it with a generous amount of blood on it. "And this," I say, indicating a stretch of floor tile to The PFY, "is where The Boss fainted that time and >KATHUD< broke >STOMP< his index finger." Desperate times, desperate measures. You'll get access to my computer room right after you pry the Halon test key out of my cold, lifeless hands. ® BOFH is the Bastard Operator from Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright
Simon Travaglia, 25 Jun 2000

Site News The Register moves home, intros new design

Today, The Register swaps Web hosts. We're moving lock, stock and barrel to Level 3's colocation facility in London. The domain remapping should kick off at 12pm BST and it will take 48 hours or so from then to complete the propagation to our new IP address. Bear with us. In recent months, The Register has been bursting at the seams. We've been maxing out on bandwidth and server capacity for four, five hours a day. We are doubling the bandwidth and doubling the servers from two to four (big fat beasts from Compaq). Which means that the site should be faster. A lot faster. You will also see a new-look for The Register. Inevitably there will be glitches, bugs, design catastrophes and we already have a long cleaning-up -around-the-edges list. We will welcome your feedback®
Drew Cullen, 25 Jun 2000

Site Update Register readers have their say

First of all, many thanks indeed to all of you who have emailed us with your thoughts on The Register's new look and feel. It's become something of a cliche to say the readers' response was overwhelming, but this time at least it's true - we've had hundreds of emails, far too many, alas - to respond to each of you personally, but please be assured that each email has been read and all your points considered. So what can we conclude so far? Primarily that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Reaction to the new look has been very positive indeed - most readers' reservations in the main concern elements within the design rather than the look of the site per se. The main issue is our choice of fonts - or, more specifically, the way our fonts render (and, in some cases, don't render) in various platforms. So while Windows/IE 5 users get to see the site in the way we intended, Netscape users on any platform don't. In the design process, we decided to standardise on sans serif fonts for improved legibility, but Netscape has a knack of ignoring them and - worse - rendering them at very small point sizes. Part of the problem here is, to be fair, many users' choice of screen size - we received a lot of 'I view the site at 1600x1200 on a 17in monitor', which, IOHO, is pushing it a bit - but there is an issue with fonts, and we're currently exploring how best to resolve it. The site uses cascading style sheets, and we'll be upgrading these - and improving support for Linux machines and Macs - shortly. We also hope to support Opera. If you're using either of these systems, please bear with us, and in the meantime, you might like to try increasing the text zoom size (in Mac IE 5) or forcing Netscape to use your choice of font rather than the page's. We also received a number of messages from readers using very old versions of Netscape and IE. To these readers we'd say, upgrade if you can. One of the aims of Register 2 is to provide multiple entry points to the stories we publish. That will include in the not-too-distant future support for Palm machines, but we'll also be looking at a 'lite' version of the main site for unusual browser/OS combos. Another, less common concern raised was the inclusion of an extra column on the left hand of the screen for graphics. Our design goal here was to provide space for more images and page elements, with the aim of making the site look busier. And, yes, it does provide The Register with more space for advertising. But, hey, that's how we can afford to ensure readers' access to the site remains free to all. Some readers expressed the concern that the site's home page shows rather fewer stories than before. True, but that's the idea. Essentially, we want to use the front page to present the key stories of the moment - the Web equivalent of the headlines heading radio and TV bulletins. Readers who want to drill down further into a specific topic can view the respective index pages for each subject using the navigation panel on the right-hand side of the site, and The Week's Headlines page to get a full readout of everything we've published over a seven-day period. Finally, we've identified a number of glitches and tweaks we need to make to the site, issues that we felt while important didn't sufficiently hamper readers' experience of the site to delay the launch. And isn't that the software industry to a tee. We'll be implementing these fixes over the coming days. And stay tuned for further feedback and progress reports as Register 2 evolves. ®
Team Register, 25 Jun 2000

Readers' Letters Euthanasia and the Blue Screen of Death

Where did all the flames go, WAP, BT Surftime, Euthanasia and the blue screen of death, advice for investors, good riddance to Atiq Raza, Don't be so horrid to Chile, poor people ain't the crooks, TLAs, Who really spreads the viruses, Web retailers, Cindy Margolis, some rare fan mail. Back in the bad old days I rather enjoyed reading the Flame of the Week column on 5/28, but must admit the most stunning portion was the repartee on your part. Sadly, I am disappointed in the weak thermal output of the flamage these dim bulbs are attempting to shove up your cyberfundament. You simply must dissolve the old class of loonies and hire a superior class of crass, a clot of clowns, a bevvy of benzadrine bozos more suited to amusing the audience. Possibly you could host a competition? Wait, these are actually letters submitted in all serious and intense fervour regarding some dork's take on the whichness of something or other, not gag letters, a competition would not be suited. Pity. Do you ever get a REAL screamer, a howl you would rather never expose to the corrosive light of day, for fear of a lawsuit? Respectfully, Kirk D Bailey Your computer wants to kill you as well You don't mention which operating system is used on the laptop, but if it's Windoze would you really entrust your last moments to it ? Mind you, I suppose it gives a whole new meaning to "Blue Screen of Death" :-) Bye for now ! PeterG All views expressed are strictly my own, not my employer's ! Most surprised you didn't go for the obvious gag - "Press any key to Discontinue" :-) Howard Richards Wondering what to do with that new WAP phone? [We've been having trouble finding good ideas for what to do with WAP phones. Our readers are an imaginative bunch, however.] Standing in my local boozer yesterday, having a few pints whilst watching the match, a mate of mind decided to be an irritating dickhead by constantly being on his mobile phone, and sending text messages. That's not the point. What is the point is that as the pub was hooked up to Sky Digital, I started to notice that the picture would break up occasionally, and managed to have a leap of insight when another attending drunk used his phone after the match, right next to the bar where the decoder is kept - total freeze-frame. Once the pub had fairly well cleared (wouldn't want to spoil the match now, would we?) we did a couple of unscientific tests by ringing each other and discovered that you can completely wreck the transmission even if you're 10 yards away from the decoder. It would seem that whatever brand of decoder the pub had is very susceptible to a GSM900 signal. I always thought it would be funny to buy one of the Casio watches with the built in IR remote control, so as to change channels at certain vital points during a sports event, but I think the mobile phone trick of reducing a collection of alcohol and football thirsty lads into a raging mob would be fascinating. I think I'll have to make that vital call during any penalty shoot-outs of Euro2000! Richard Parrott As your site comments on WAP ideas - could you suggest to BT to get their head out of their arse and WAP enable their UK phone directory Website. I think having access to the UK phone directory would be quite handy (& obvious) Regards Jim Mckay Boo! Arrgggh, you almost gave me a cash-flow attack [Of course this was the week when Boo was cut up and sold off for tiny sums. It caused a lot of people to finally wake up and wonder how come Boo had squandered so much money] Hi, The downfall of boo.com is quite interesting - it kind of nicely emphasises that there's too many clueless people in charge of too much money in the wacky world of dotcoms. I had a look at boo.com for the first time today, only to notice that its approach is not much better (technologically inferior, as it so happens) to that used by ye olde shirtmakers Charles Tyrwhitt of Jermyn Street, London (whom I can only recommend). They have done a fair bit of work on their Website recently, and also offer 3D viewing, online ordering, etc, etc. OK, it's aimed at a different market, but the technology and the approach is the same. Except that it probably cost two orders of magnitude less. It still makes me wonder what on earth boo.com spent all their money on (mind you, my company is currently working on a project for a startup - it's amazing to see how ignorant of the real world these people are - and cashburn is almost firmly engraved into the business plan...) Regards, Phil C. Mueller Big Bad Blinkered Bill [It's been Microsoft crazy - for good reasons - over the last couple of days. While the trial outcome remains undecided, an interesting insight in Billy Boy's brain occurred when the DoJ released an email from Mr Gates concerning Symbian] Of all the IT articles I think I have ever read, that one strikes a chord at a level which nothing else has ever achieved. I think DOJ could base the trial around that one letter and your commentary. It's INCREDIBLE to imagine how that man thinks. Predatory doesn't seem to come close. It's appalling! What I really want to know is what Bill was thinking when he made that arrangement with Steve Jobs back a MW NY a couple of years ago. Apple is not big enough to be considered a competitor for the DOJ case, but it's still significant enough to be a major thorn in MS's side... especially if it delivers on OS X. It's concerning. Do you think there could be another reason? I tried to think the same way Bill did in that email and I just can't conceptualise any reason he would have... or maybe he was forced into it for another reason... Cheers, and keep up the great work. Stories like this (and that headless Intel one) make for some pretty intense and interesting reading. James Allworth So M$ is supposed to do better than your average stock? Don't trust 'em dealers... Recently I wandered across a very interesting piece at The Street.com - a beginners guide to stock ratings. For various good reasons, the ratings system is nowhere near what it would seem. Like when did you ever see a stock rated 'strong sell'? There was a nice string of reasoning behind it, but it boiled down to the system is chronically mal-aligned for lots of good reasons. A translation of ratings could be: Strong buy We suggest you pick up some stock, it's definitely gonna rise. Buy You did a decent deal, hold on and it might pay off. Outperform We don't really trust this thing - wanna buy our holdings? Hold Until you have an opportunity to sell, that is. Underperform These guys are in serious trouble, your best bet is to get out fast. Sell Get out NOW, before everybody else does. Strong sell: Don't hesitate, a fast and intense panic is the sane thing to do. M$ is merely having a break before the next round of panic. And the greatest contributors to that panic are the Dynamic Duo of Gates & Ballmer telling everyone with an ear that breaking the company will utterly destroy it. A self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one :) Don't worry, use KDE2 - KOffice is lean and cool. Henrik The viral industry around computer bugs [With every announcement of a big computer virus, the number of "experts" double. Now, virus warning itself has become a mini industry] How come this virus that the FBI have been trumpeting (W97M/RESUME.A@MM VIRUS) hasn't made an appearance in the UK that I know of and that the only info that seems to be coming out is from the FBI/NIPC itself and is particularly vague ("Anti-virus industry sources are reporting that a number of corporate e-mail systems have already been infected, and some shut down as a result")???. Having been monitoring a 10,000 user+ mail system over the last few days (American owned) I have yet to see one single instance of the virus, which seems strange when LoveLetter went through the same system in 15 minutes. It hasn't even made an appearance in Trend's top ten. Are the FBI joining the virus companies "trumpet any virus to see how important we are" bandwagon? Cheers Puk P.S. apologies for the mail address but it keeps my employer relatively anonymous. Your email address says a lot about you. Hey, I've got a great idea! Go back to sleep darling [We had a dig at Letsbuyit.com, which announced the postponement of its IPO. It's just not very viable, we argued] Yes - Right! The idea of a co-buy is good in principle, unless you happen to be one of many (like me) who attempted to buy a Samsung DVD Player at 159 and then discovered it didn't arrive on the due date, emails were being auto-acknowledged but not followed up, and the only way was to phone. Despite this being a London number, connected to a CS centre not far from Edinburgh. Yes, we see you've bought it - we can't tell you when you'll get it - but bear with us. Comments on the Samsung-fan site reveals others have suffered a similar fate - ignored emails and a lack of credit card refunds. So if you're tempted - don't bother, you can get high blood pressure other ways that are far more pleasurable. Raymond Just how good are those breasts? [Super Internet babe Cindy Margolis announced she was going to sit at MyGeek's stall, advertising her overpriced beauty products. We had the audacity to say we didn't think Cindy matched her credentials.] Thank you for pointing me to the pictures of Cindy. She pushes hypocrisy and cheesiness to previously unheard-of levels. Check out this quote from the site (this is before you get to the bikini shots): Thank you soooo much for stopping by my picture gallery! Snuggling up on the couch with friends and photo albums... is THE BEST! I love being able to share some of these special moments in my life with all of you.. I hope you enjoy them too! Great stuff! exactly what i was thinking: hey friends, let's snuggle up and watch Cindy "breast implant" margolis' cheesy website! Nik Heger Ok guys, you're joking right? Right? You really didn't mean what you wrote? Please say yes?!? "While it's very fancy, we were struck by the fact that Cindy (look out! here come the flames!) isn't actually that gorgeous - more plastic Barbie doll than sensual woman." Cindy, the last remaining all natural babe. (i.e. no implants) The same babe that has a body the pope would sneak a peak at. We ARE talking about the same drop dead beautiful, absolutely gorgeous and quite approachable Cindy right? C'mon guys, Cindy is the epitome of the girl next door with a body to match. Heck even my fiancee admitted that she has a very nice body. Ok, ok if you don't find her all that attractive, then who do you think is "gorgeous"? And if you answer some porno star, I'll flame you. ;) Mark My big three (Cindy M., Gabby Reece, and Sandra B.) Return of the Jedi [Andrew Thomas found out some ex-AMD old friends had set up a new company in Silicon Valley] Dear The Register, All this press coverage of "AMD Defectors" and "Former AMD President" crap is a blatant smear job, but some of us remember how Atiq Raza tried to screw us, in your own article: "AMD must cut expenses-Atiq Raza" I don't care if you use my name. I don't care if you delete this. Raza was a dink and I'm glad he's gone. Sean Brennan San Francisco It's good to baulk [BT has been having a rough ride of late - not helped by the fact that its service has been poor to say the least. Its new Surftime package not only caused a court case and Oftel slapping but failed to deliver and massaged the figures to look more popular than it was.] Further to your article about the above, I'd like to add that I think BTi are really dodging responsibility on this. Funny how if only "a few thousand" users out of their 400,000 were affected that absolutely everyone I know who uses BTi (that would be seven people) had no email service this week. Some got back into their mailboxes yesterday, and I finally got my week's delayed mail tonight. And of course now I can't get back in again. Now FTP is off tonight. This lot has had a never ending plethora of failures and continually dire service (again, notes compared with friends here). If you have a moment, please browse the customers' newsgroup btinternet.whinge and even allowing for exaggeration (of which there isn't any in my own experience) you MUST be able to grasp the serious underlying problems here. Technical support has virtually given up answering demands for service and explanations, and resorts continually to stock "please bear with us while we endeavour to resolve these problems as soon as possible" answers day after day. Further proof of the catastrophic behaviour is available by calling their "status" line on 0800 731 7777 - you're guaranteed to hear the same old rubbish updated every hour. It's impossible to tell what exactly is going on, but I do know this; BT has the resources to have a team of crack contractors descend upon their entire system and beat it into excellent shape within a few days, but it's quite apparent that our national telecom giant would rather throw away a million quid on a dumb competition, and a few more on their stupid ET ads. I'm sure the technicians are either underqualified or underfunded. Either way, it's not acceptable when they continue to take 400,000 people's tenner-a-month subscription for a service which would have rated poorly ten years ago. I'm only one voice and I have no weight. I wondered if you might be able to encourage someone somewhere to take this seriously? God, this is so frustrating. Any thoughts? Best regards, John Doyle Clarity (whose email isn't routed back to BTi - you can be sure of that!) Regarding your story "BT Surftime: All men are not born equal", I can confirm that BT are not offering it right now to all users. I have been quoted a date of September when I should contact them again... apparently some dribble about them having to upgrade the exchanges with software to charge the correct amount for the calls. Surely it would make a great deal more sense to launch the product when they are actually capable of delivering it... But then again maybe we should not be surprised by the incompetence shown by BT yet again. Stuart Coates Reg sparks diplomatic crisis [There wasn't any hardware to review in the Hardware Review, so Drew tackled it in his own inimitable fashion - causing consternation from across the Atlantic] Hi, I'm Carlos Castillo, a computer engineer at Santiago, Chile, South America I've see with surprise your news in section "Hardware Roundup" regarding a small earthquake in Chile. Earthquake are very dangerous and common things around here :) At first I must confess that I didn't get the joke, but I understood later, with a lot of sorrow, that it means that there were no news about hardware at that time. An earthquake in Chile is the smallest thing that can happen. It doesn't hurt me-in a patriotic sense. I understand that "Chile" for every English-language country is synonym of a thin, long, vegetable used in Mexican food. Chile may appear in the map as chilli-shaped, long, thin and pathetic, laying on the corner of the southern hemisphere. But there are a lot of software engineers, webmasters, and fans of The Register in this beautiful country. I'm sending this letter knowingly about that no international treaty endorsed by any of the two countries tells anything about making mock of the smallness of another country, but a little respect will honour common sense, and most of all-the sense of belonging to a global online community. Please send a copy of this letter to the writer of the cited article, and if you wish, you can make it public (or a portion of it) at your Website. Thanks for your time, Carlos Castillo PS: Please excuse my poor English. Drew writes:I> No offence meant. It is not denigratory to Chile - it is a spoof of dull headlines. This is a reference to a legendary Times headline (legendary among British journalists) anyway. "Small Earthquake in Chile: not many dead" This was composed in - we think - the 1930s by Claud Cockburn (pronounced co-burn), a famous British journalist, in a competition among sub-editors to compose the most boring headline. This was the winner. The caring, sharing, grassing new millennium [We mocked a Net-based plan to get people to grass up their neighbours whom they suspected of welfare fraud] I think you overlook a basic fact when you assume most welfare cheats are poor and don't have Internet access. In reality, it is the people who are not poor that are the biggest cheats. They, in all probability, have computers and so do their neighbours who would report them. Richard Reiher Whatever happened to words with small letters in? [With so many acronyms in the IT world (mostly three-letter acronyms, or TLAs as they're known), we put out a call for some that mystified us] Subject: Intel TLAs... FAE = Field Application Engineer (Liaison between big customers and Intel's engineering staff) PCG = Product Component Group (Chipset guys) BMD = Sorry, never heard that one... ADC = Application Design Center (The integration guys, who deal with everything from finished motherboards to finished network cards. They deal with complete products, not individual components.) I know because I used to be a TME and PSE with the EMSD, FSD, ESG, SPD, RPD, ADC, ICS, and sometimes a CSE or PSE with CISD and OPSD... Ed Hurtley The soothing part of the letters page - sponsored by Radox [Just a bit of ego-rubbing for us. It hurts having people being angry at you all the time. We're a sensitive lot you know. :-)] I read you directly from the Website and sometimes via other people picking up your stories. And as the subject line says: "You are a funny bunch of coots". Thanks Michael Zerman Adelaide, AUSTRALIA PS: Of course your reporting is excellent also, or I wouldn't bother coming back !! You guys are gentlemen ! And have such a great way of presenting things (not sure Chipzilla would agree however :-)))). It does sometime stretch my English to it limits, but always produces a big laugh after the effort :-) Cheers, Jean-Christophe ®
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jun 2000

Crackers use search engines to exploit weak sites

The recent proliferation of point-and-drool GUI utilities for brute-force password cracking has led many crackers and Script Kiddies to overlook a powerful and quite obvious tool available to all, the common search engine. With a bit of ingenuity, anyone can skirt basic password authentication and go straight to the goodies on those sites where administrators are foolish enough to post them. If the desired information is contained in a Web page, anyone can find it. One security enthusiast with whom The Register is warmly acquainted named 'Utreg' has found this a convenient shortcut. "HotBot advanced search allows you to specify your search with file extensions, looking for sites or directories that include .dat files and the words 'index of' and 'admin' or 'customer'," Utreg says. He showed us a file named data.txt on ISP Lanline.com's servers which contained the personal information of several hundred people, including their names, addresses, social security numbers and credit card account details - and all of it in plain text. We rang Lanline to get to the bottom of it. They discovered that the information belonged to a commercial site which they had once hosted. When the Web site owners moved or packed up, they carelessly left their Web pages, including several highly confidential ones, behind on Lanline's server. The information had originally been generated by some sort of shopping-cart application, a Lanline spokesperson told The Register. The data has since been removed. Ease of use By clicking the 'advanced search' button on the HotBot main page, one is offered a number if intriguing options. No need to be a whiz with Boolean operators; a nice CGI menu is provided. Enter the words 'admin' and 'user' and tick the 'file types' box for the extension .dat. It works nicely. "That's the scary thing... it's just so bloody simple, any fourteen year old can do it," Utreg told The Register. "The possibilities look unlimited; the only restriction is your own creativity." HotBot parent Lycos told The Register that they have no intention of modifying the search-engine's capabilities to block sensitive file types. "We're concerned that people are putting sensitive data on their Web sites," Lycos told us. But file-type searching is a useful feature; and it is ultimately the obligation of operators to secure their data by not maintaining it on a public Web site, the company notes. Get an education For those who don't fully grasp the potential of search engines, and are at a loss to guess which files and directories they might wish to search for, many Web sites are conveniently set up with a useful file that will help one get started. Our friend 'fravia+' recommends searching for this file, called robots.txt, in the main directory of a target site, by entering a URL with the following pattern: http://www.targetsite.com/robots.txt. The robots.txt file is used to tell search engines which directories and files they should not index. Nothing listed in a 'robots.txt' file will turn up in a search query; but once a person has seen the directory and file names it contains, they can type them directly into their browser to access the various subdirectories and pages which the site administrators would rather keep hidden. These are of course the very subdirectories and files most likely to be of interest to crackers. The fravia+ Web site contains an extensive treasury of educational material for those who wish to extract the maximum performance from search engines. For Web site operators afraid of falling prey to such backdoor inquiries, the solution is painfully obvious and quite simple. Stop putting sensitive data in public places. A file which you would not print out and post on a billboard simply has no business being posted on a Web site. ®
Thomas C Greene, 25 Jun 2000