2nd > July > 2000 Archive

1GHz AMD-Intel price war breaks out

Thanks to Firestone for alerting us to these pages on Pricewatch Japan, which show how the battle between AMD and Intel is running on Akihabara streets. The pages, in Japanese, have pictures of the Thunderbird 1GHz Athlon as well as Intel's Cumine 1GHz processor in its 1.0B recension. And this is a part-translation of what the pages say, courtesy of Lernout & Hauspie's Japanese-English translator. Prices of both the Athlon and Intel processors are hovering around the ¥100,000 mark, but according to the piece, there are only handfuls of the latter chips, with most being sold as part of a complete PC. (One US dollar=¥96.5). If L&H is right, the boys seem to be saying a complete system, using a VC 820 mobo with 128MB of Ramboost, costs ¥228,000. According to these pages, that's more expensive than a Socket A T'Bird PC. On this Pricewatch page, there are photographs of several dual S370 mobos. No-one has yet explained to us why it is that this technology always appears on Akihabara before it arrives anywhere else. We've asked both AMD and Intel dozens of times. Any theories, anyone else? Meanwhile, it has emerged that the problem with 1GHz Gateway machines we reported on Friday is to do with a problematical motherboard the PC company was using. ® See Also Intel's 1.13GHz Pentium III paper tiger growls 1GHz T'birds lost in Gateway space
Mike Magee, 02 Jul 2000

In the eye of the PC storm

ColumnColumn Pretty busy week in Blighty. The IT week really kicked off with the Networks Show held in Birmingham. Every year, since it started, British hacks have had a choice of charabancs and chemin-de-fers to take them to the gruesome National Exhibition Centre just outside Birmingham. But it was Hobson's Choice and Shanks' Pony this year. Compaq usually organises a painless trip from London to Brum for 60 hacks or so, but this year called the whole thing off, leaving the press office looking mighty thin indeed. What, no chance of seeing the Server formerly known as Wildfire? If Compaq, IBM and Fujitsu Siemens don't think the show is worth the candle, it's bound to pose questions over its likely future. There didn't seem to be many punters punting the halls -- was it a good idea for the organisers to put on the show the day after Glastonbury? One day on, and we found ourselves with the last company, spinning slowly on British Airways' London Eye, a stylish Ferris Wheel built to mark the year 2000 next to the old County Hall on the South Bank. The whole trip takes around 30 minutes and gives you a good view up and down the Thames and north and south of the City Road. Course, it's a closed pod, so if you want to ask Fujitsu Siemens questions about its strategy, there's no way the suits can escape in a hurry. After the trip, it was aromatic crispy duck at a post-revolution Chinese restaurant and we had the chance to ask both Fujitsu Siemens and some IDC lads how the hell this company managed to still sell its kit 100 per cent indirect. Just the day before, we'd noticed that Carly Fiorina's HP had gone and registered some domain names such as HPPCDIRECT.COM and HPPRINTERSDIRECT.COM. If birds and bees such as Compaq and IBM do it, and even educated fleas, such as Dell, do it, how come Fujitsu Siemens didn't have to do it? The IDC boys reckon that's because the two, between them, own so many patents that the royalty stream buffers them from the slings and arrows of outrageous PC misfortune. Hmm, that can't be the reason, surely? Later the same day we met up with plucky little Taiwanese chipset firm Via, which against all bets, has seen its share price multiply four times during this year. Over at Computex in Taiwan, it was clear that Via has more opportunities for growth to come. One mobo manufacturer, Abit, told us that originally they'd asked AMD to supply chipsets for the Athlon platform and were told, pretty categorically, that they should use Via instead. No wonder Intel's paranoid about Via. After dragging Via's Richard Brown to a Chinese restaurant in Gerrard Street (aromatic ducks'r'us), we sat him down in Jeffrey Bernard's old seat (siege perilous) in the Coach and Horses pub in Romilly Street, and tried to pump him for more info. When, for example, will Via bring out chipsets for the notebook and the server market? No answer on this one, but we suspect it's got to be on some secret roadmap over in old Taipei. Richard was off to the Networks show Thursday, but we were in Voiture Central, attempting to avoid the big play off between Holland and Italy, showing on every TV screen in practically every London boozer. We betook ourselves to the Wheatsheaf in Rathbone Place, and to a drinks gig organised by famous UK spin-outfit Fruitfly, only to be button-holed by stacks of hacks, eager to give their views on Miller Freeman's Gaff of the Week, the publication called Know Your Journalists. Well, there was a whole heap of hacks and they were hacked off for a whole heap of reasons. One complained bitterly because he was 416th in the list, another moaned because Miller Freeman had given him a positive rating for covering companies he'd never covered, while there were even some bitter and twisty souls who were unhappy because they weren't in the list at all. "Which story are you talking about?" said one embattled Miller Freeman employee to a hack complaining about diverse matters such as the data protection act, possible defamation, and his position in the pecking order. "It's in The Register," the hack replied. "I've never heard of The Register," says Miller Freeman. "You have now," the hack said. Dave Evans, the fourth most positive journalist in the UK, and an old Reg drinking partner, took a more philosophical view. "I'm sure I should be taking legal action against someone," he said. "Trouble is, I'm not sure who..." ® Related Stories PR flunkeys make hacks look like monkeys Wildfire: an apology Fujitsu takes aim at Sun share Via gives DDR ringing endorsement London Eye website Jeffrey Bernard's Haunt
Mike Magee, 02 Jul 2000

Hotmail hoax email: spam or we kick you off!

A bogus email sent out to Hotmail users claims they'll be cut off if they don't prove they're using their accounts. In order to do so, all they've got to do is forward the email to other Hotmail users. Something of an intellectual breakthrough, this one. Rather than using security holes in the email client and a meat-headed piece of coding of the Melissa persuasion, you just send an email to people encouraging them to do all of the viral distribution work themselves. Granted, the perpetrator doesn't seem to have figured out how to get them to send out an actual virus as well as forwarding spurious messages, but it's certainly got Microsoft's attention. The message purports to be from one Jon Henard of Hotmail, and claims the service has too many customers. This does have some plausibility, as Hotmail has 68 million, and some free services do actually kick you off if you go quiet for too long. Hotmail itself does this after 90 days, but more widespread sackings would surely be a cull too far. The mechanism too is tried and tested. Chain emails have a long, inglorious and largely harmless history on the net, one of the best and most durable being the old Walt Disney Jr and Microsoft scam, which purports to offer users rewards for co-operating in the development of an email tracking system. We mention this one largely as an attempt to reduce the number of tip-offs we get about it every year, but it has a certain elegance - it's the sort of 1984 plot you just want to believe is real. The latest Hotmail one differs of course in that it uses fear, rather than the usual greed, as impetus. But trust us, automation and security holes works best. ®
John Lettice, 02 Jul 2000

400 pound ex-coke dealer CEO ousted after media blitz

An Internet security startup is now light a 400 pound co-founder, following a rather too public dust-up with Southwest Airlines over seat assignments. Amply-proportioned Tony Mazzamuto of Orange County outfit Cyberbuck Corp complained loudly to local news services after Southwest insisted to he buy two seats in order to accommodate his substantial hinterland, and unfortunately, the name started to ring bells all over Orange County. The Orange County Register (no relation) tells us that Mazzamuto's old acquaintances instantly pegged him as a guy who'd done three years in prison for possession of 3½ pounds of cocaine for sale, and for carrying a gun when he had a prior felony conviction. There also seems to be some question over his age and education. The University he claims a masters degree from doesn't exist, for starters. The consequence of Mazzamuto's exposure was, naturally, that Cyberbuck took a sudden close interest in the life and times of its erstwhile CEO. But in a written statement following his resignation, Cyberbuck rather oddly claims he left because of "philosophical differences about the future of the company." It'd be heartless of us to suggest this means he wanted to sell a product with more buzz, and use more powerful hardware. So we won't. Cyberbuck's Big Idea is to sell consumers prepaid cards for use in online transactions, thus making them immune to Internet fraud. Sounds like a dud to us, but the company has $1 million of seed money and 40 staff, and hopes to launch in the summer, with an IPO next year. ® See also: Orange County Register story
John Lettice, 02 Jul 2000