5th > July > 2000 Archive

Eurocrats take aim at IT tax breaks

Changes that the European Union has demanded on tax subsidies and breaks are threatening to put a halt to investments in the growth of IT, it has emerged. A representative of the Cote D'Azur development board, which has science park Sophia Antipolis under its wing, told The Register yesterday that the move meant individual regions of member countries will be subject to central government control. The EU, she said, wants to standardise tax breaks and subsidies across the community, with the amount of money available to individual countries proportional to the population of member states. Towards the end of last year, she said, the European Union asked member governments to examine subsidies and tax breaks they were offering in the way of individual investment. That review was completed in mid-spring and in Sophia Antipolis, which is populated by large IT firms including Lucent, Nortel, TI and hundreds of others, lost out to other French regions. But the move has serious implications for areas of the United Kingdom too. Central government here has already conducted a similar review, but information about which regions both here and abroad have become the winners and losers is not yet in the public domain. Development areas in the UK include Teesside, the so-called 'Silicon Fen' region close to Cambridge, and the Scottish 'Silicon Glen' region. There is fierce competition, for example, between the Scottish development agency, Locate in Scotland, and the Irish Development Agency. The Republic of Ireland has a much smaller population than the UK, suggesting that it may well have a bigger slice of the EU cake. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 2000

Finns target Oracle ‘insecurity’ with anti-virus clustering

Finnish security company Stonesoft has designs on the "particularly insecure" high-availability database market with a scalable clustering product for Trend Micro’s InterScan VirusWall. Cluster support for other anti-virus products are promised. CEO and president Hannu Turunen, who worked at Oracle until he started the software firm six years back, said: "Oracle has no secure solution at the moment. The database market is huge. There is practically no secure software solution in the high availability market." Stonesoft, which has around 100 different US VC backers, according to Turunen, and a projected head count of 65 in the Sophie Antipolis science park, already has deals with Compaq, IBM and others, and government customers as diverse as the Singapore Police force, the Swedish Parliament and US security body the NSA, is likely to turnover around 14.5 million Euros in its third quarter. Partly funded by Finnish firm Nokia, and with US customers such as Bell South and American Airlines, Stonesoft is set to grow its US sales by 300 per cent this year, according to other executives at the firm. Turunen said the Compaq deal, which is already in place, will be extended next week, while the firm is also set to firm up its relationship with Trend Micro. Stonesoft is traded on the Helsinki stock market and did a four-to-one split just before tech stocks took a dive in March. The high margin firewall business will be just one element in its future strategy, said Turunen. That market is probably worth about $2 billion next year, but the other elements in its business strategy are targeting a business worth an estimated $10 billion, he said. Currently, the company operates through a 60-country strong indirect channel, but Turunen said that, sooner or later, as the business grew, Stonesoft would face similar challenges to those faced by Oracle. He said that five years ago, one of Oracle's Italian distributors was doing so well selling its products that it had to acquire the firm. ® More about Stonebeat Security Cluster
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 2000

French give Bluetush permission to bake

Hey, and you thought we were joking when we wrote this story about Bluetooth technology threatening world peace, didn't you? We have just discovered that there is a "bake off" of Bluetush devices being held in Nice next week, but before the organisers could assemble their chefs, they had to have special permission from the French government. The military in France shares some of the same frequency as the Bluetooth frequency... ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 2000

Akihabara gets it first

While AMD and Intel might be keeping schtum about why their kit tips up in the Akihabara hi-tech area yonks before the rest of the world+dog sees it, our readers have, bless you all, come up with their own ideas on this conundrum. Here's a selection of their many replies. A regular visitor to Akihabara writes: "I'm sure you've heard this theory hundreds of times. But since I've been going to Japan for the last few months, I think Akihabara gets a lot of stuff early because of 'grey market' Taiwanese connections. The same way we import anime and stuff like PlayStation 2s into the US, they do for computer stuff from Taiwan. My only gripe is that everyone has Durons just no Socket A motherboards! If you ever go there, make sure you have a guide. Most of these shops are about the size of a bedroom closet." Ed Stroglio, who writes regularly for Overclockers, says: "It seems that most products actually premiere in the Far East well before anyplace else. I see FS references in Taiwanese newsgroups well before the products even debut in the US." Another reader offers this: "New things appear in Akihabara first, because there is an established small but significant and consistent market for exotic electronic goods even at rather high prices. Some small segment Japanese consumers are compulsive about extreme speed and performance." Our friend Chairat Suvajanakorn, from Thailand says: "I've asked the very same question to Intel (Thailand) myself of why Japanese always get things first! The answer is that they've got money and craze to get the latest and the best stuffs (before anybody else in the world). It's that simple. The second is that everybody in the industry knows Japan is the first place to test the market for their products. One recent good example would be the ABIT SE6 (i815E), how the hell else it could end up on Akihabara first than even Taiwan? How did the Japanese got the first Matrox 400MAX first in the world? Even before the Canadian or the notorious hardware testing sites around the world? "One other good example to prove the answers I have given you. You know all the Benz that came out in the world (any model at any give time), it would appear in Japan first even though it's left-hand drive. And there would always be some crazy goons who would line up and buy those cars first (not among their own people but to the rest of the world). They'd pay twice as much as Germans would pay for the same car! There is no conspiracy theory involved here. Simply, the Japanese have more money than the rest of us and new things sell there no matter what." Our very own Hermit at Hoodview, who runs our Register Forum, says: "It's been the same clear back to the days of the Ginzika in Tokyo. They always had the first stuff for radio, stereo, etc. Maybe they have a more sincere eagerness than the rest of us? If it doesn't work, what better place to find out than far off in the Far East? Course that hasn't worked well for the 820 series has it. Hmmmmm. Maybe they're willing to pay lots more money." Another reader adds to this theory, saying: "Well, after spending a year over in Japan working for an ExcePtionally large printer company, I might be able to offer my thoughts on the issue. Apparently Akihabara is the electronics test market of Japan (and perhaps even the world). Many products are released in the Akihabara streets to see if they meet consumer demand and expectations. If the product sells poorly they get canned and the rest of Japan (and the world) never gets to see them. But why Akihabara? My guess would be the large population base of Tokyo, and that the Japanese love their luxury goods and electronic toys (all it takes is a glance at their DVD/GPS driving guidance systems that even talk to you). So, Akihabara is a cool place where the newest of the new sell, and where bargaining is the name of the game (I saved about ¥50,000 when I bought my Canon GL1 due to bargaining and price research)." Another reader agrees. "This is my reasoning, Akihabara is one big electronic shopping complex. It by far the largest and comprehensive in Japan. Any large electronic maker, wholesalers or retailers, if they sell electronics they have to have visibililty there. Anyone interested in electronics will go to Akihabara to buy the latest greatest electronic gadgets. So if you're going to display/sell a new product, you will do it there - it that simple. If you ever get a chance to to Tokyo, go to Akihabara. And if you like electronic gadgets, take a few credits cards along - you'll max them out. With all the neat stuff that you can easily find there. Oh put on a good pair of walking shoes..." ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 2000

SanDisk to invest $75m in Israeli Tower

Flash memory specialist SanDisk is to pump $75 million into troubled Israeli chip maker and former NatSemi subsidiary Tower Semiconductor. In exchange, SanDisk will gain take a ten per cent stake in Tower, with the option to take a further ten per cent, the Finacial Times reports. Tower desperately needs money to fund a $1.5 billion reconstruction programme designed to replace the fabrication company's ageing 0.35 micron production lines with up-to-date 0.18 micron lines. The snag is, the new lines are projected to bring in just $700 million in revenues by 2005, leaving another $750 million to be found. $10 million will come from Toshiba, which is also supplying the fabrication equipment. Tower said it hopes to raise $350 million from three strategic investors. Government financing and bank loans should, the company hopes, contribute $900 million. SanDisk's scheme is to put around 20 per cent of its Flash production in Tower's direction. Currently, 70 per cent of its chips are made in Taiwan, the rest in Japan. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Jul 2000

Demon, World Online subscriber numbers

World Online, the Dutch-owned ISP, has 2.2 million customers, of which 1.5 million are in the UK, according to the FT. The other 700,000 customers are scattered over another 15 countries. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to concentrate on territories where it has significant market share? Especially considering the significant losses the company is racking up (79m euros in the red for its last quarter). Demon, the veteran ISP now owned by Thus, has 260,000 UK subscribers, 4.4 per cent less than last year, the FT also reveals. Demon has avoided the temptation to go down the free ISP route, casting instead for small business and heavy home users willing to pay for "quality service" (it has a modem for every 12 subscribers, against a claimed 30 for Freeserve). So the attrition rate is, under the circumstances, something for quiet celebration. Of course, there could still be plenty of inertia in the customer list - in other words, subscribers who are unwilling to pay for quality, but who haven't bothered switching their ISP. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Jul 2000

AMD whets knife for fresh blood letting

AMD is set to take the whet stone to its price axe at the end of this month, and further embarrass chip giant Intel by attacking it in the business sector. Sources close to AMD's plans in Taiwan said that the price cuts are likely to be in the order of 40 per cent, with the 1GHz microprocessor processor the particular target of the firm's desire. Intel confirmed last week that it would introduce a 1.1GHz Coppermine Pentium III at the end of July in "limited quantities" but is not expected to significantly alter prices on its 1GHz PIIIs between now and September. The bigger firm has conceded that supplies of its processors are currently tight, while some second tier vendors have revealed they have limited supplies of all speed grades of Intel chips until the third week of this month. We will bring you precise details of the price cuts as soon as we get them. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Jul 2000

First dekko at Abit's BX133 mobo

Today's pick of the crop of subjects up for discussion in Hardware land TweakPC has posted its first response to Abit's BX133 Motherboard - in translation from the original German. The two pager also includes a sneak preview picture - they claim a world exclusive, and you never know - it could be true! A discussion is underway on one of the bulletin boards at OC Workbench about the possibility of AMD making a slotA socketA converter. Have a read here. We spoke to AMD and they said they weren't working on, or giving approval to one, but that they couldn't speak for anyone else. More AMD, and System Logic has posted a review of the Gigabyte GA-7VM Athlon Slot A motherboard. They reckon it will be perfect for value users. On a slightly different tack (because a whole piece on AMD would just be favouritism, wouldn't it?) an english version of chip.de's guide to overclocking the GeForce2-MX. These guys are very happy since they got it up to 30 per cent above specified performance. Not too shabby. Dr Tom also turns his attention the the land of gamers with a critique of the GeForec2 GTS. The moral of the story? Don't believe the hype 'cos there are other options.®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Jul 2000

Dotcom share give away is virtually worthless

British community site and ISP Themutual.net has fallen victim to the dot gone feeling in the City. Last July the co-operative promised shares to all members as an incentive for people to join its service. The first 1,000 to sign up were offered 10,000 shares, while the next 490,000 will get 1,000 shares. Punters were told that the 10,000 share package would be worth at least £520 on flotation, and the 1,000 package £52. But the company's flotation flopped last week, with shares trading at 0.75 pence on the opening day. This made a batch of 10,000 shares worth just £75. Today the price was down to 0.62 pence - bringing 10,000 shares down to £62. If you were unlucky enough to join up later and get just 1,000 shares your stake will be worth £6.20. Simon Wajcenberg, MD of themutual.net, said the market wasn't playing fair and described themutual's current share price as "ridiculous". Previous statements from the company promising untold riches for those signing up were "based on market conditions at the time," said Wajcenberg. "The sentiment for Internet stocks is nothing like what it was." The stock market currently values themutual at around £200 per head - it has 117,000 members - which is "clearly an undervaluation", he said. "This is an incorrect value. The market will realise this given time - and the value will go up." Wajcenberg said the company was seeing a 30 per cent growth rate in user uptake per month, and would be in profit within the next 12 months. And his advice to Themutual members who rushed to sign up but are now sitting on a shareholding they would make a loss on if they tried to sell? (£6.50 of shares will cost at least £10 in selling fees) "They've got to bear with us - this is an opportunity for the public to take a stake in a company for free," he said. "A thousand shares at today's share price is not worth a lot of money. Although they might be worth a lot in the future." Themutual has a limit of 13 million members, who have to agree to be spammed to be eligible for their free shares. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 2000
cable

Orange begins its crusade, but where is Jerusalem?

Hans Snook, fresh from winning his fight to keep managing Orange his way, has gone on a crazy crusade to take over the world. Two days ago Orange was boasting about the number of new subscribers it has won. Yesterday, it announced price cuts with the tagline "this could be the end of the fixed line phone". Today, it announced the purchase of the Press Association's virtual newsreading outfit Ananova for £95 million. The price cut is great timing, coming the day after the company's subscriber figures and the day before its competitors' figures. It will be run through an increased number of free minutes and a cut in mobile-to-fixed-lines charges. Mobile-to-mobile charges will be much the same. As for the virtual newscaster, Ananova, Orange is coughing up the £95 million because it will "be a key player in Orange's international Internet operations". Snooky said: "Ananova is a key element of our plans to develop our overall portal platform, which will take wirefree communications beyond what is available today, reaching customers in the countries where we, and the enlarged Orange Group, have a physical presence, and beyond." Got that? Now we know that Hans must be over the moon that he won his freedom through the France Telecom deal (the £25 billion mumma is still working its way through), but it looks a little like he has got carried away with his own feelings of invincibility. Why on earth has Orange, a mobile operator, bought PA's cartoon newscaster, let alone coughed up £95 million? That's a lot of money for what is, let's face it, not a very strong brand. Yes, we know that it will get access to all the current breaking news etc etc but £95 million would buy it quite a few years of PA licence and leave it without a potential draw on resources. And if Hans tries to tells us that we will all get our news by watching the green cartoon woman on 3G phones, we really will call in the doctors. Likewise the price cuts. Now this is a good idea, but then reducing phone charges is always a good idea, it's just that most telecoms can't afford to. Is Hans cutting margins too finely in the hope of grabbing the market and making up the loss later? A good idea, you may say, but then that is what every mobile company is doing (apart from BT of course). But with renewed teenage vigour, Hans is willing to run closer to the edge, fearless, confident. Yes, the mobile market is one of high risks for big dividends but over - confidence can be just as dangerous as apathy. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Jul 2000

M'Soft to offer fresh concessions in Telewest bid

Microsoft is gearing up to offer fresh concessions to the European Commission in regard to its bid for a stake in UK cable operator, Telewest. The software giant is due to submit its renewed offer today, and Microsoft officials were said to be confident they would get clearance to go ahead with the deal, the FT reported. Internet investment company, Jellyworks, is considering selling up after six months on AIM, according to the FT. The company says it is in preliminary negotiations with niche investment bank, Shore Capital. The deal, if it materialises, is likely to be in shares and could see the privately owned bank move to the stock market. Jellyworks owns a small stake in Shore, and also in Beenz.com, Sportal and network management software writer, Orchestream. Deutsche Telekom is on the brink of buying Cable & Wireless for DM100 billion (£32 billion), according to Focus Money. The price tag is within Deutsche Telekom's means, although it refused to comment officially on the possible takeover. That didn't stop its share price jumping 3.4 per cent though (C&W's shares also went up just under 3 per cent) Investment bank EPO.com, shortly to be joining with German company VEM, has been given permission to offer shares over the Internet. They should be available online at some point this summer. The EPO and VEM merger hopes to set itself up as the market leader for share issues over the Net. ®
Team Register, 05 Jul 2000

Dixons shares tumble despite profit surge

Dixons saw its share price fall today despite topping profit forecasts. The PC retailer's share price fell six pence in morning trading to 274 pence after it failed to reveal details of trading for the current financial year or any fresh information on the Freeserve situation. Pre-tax profit rose 104 per cent to £472.1 million for the year ended April 29 2000, on the back of a 23 per cent increase in sales to £3.89 billion. Analysts had predicted £255-262 million. Profit before exceptionals, tax and Freeserve were up 11 per cent £263 million. Gross margin fell one per cent over the year. Regarding Freeserve, the company only repeated what was said on June 26 - that the two "continue to have discussions with a number of parties about a variety of potential transactions". In regard to current trading, Dixons revealed no more than: "The new financial year has started with further sales growth against tough comparatives." Last month the company confirmed that T-Online had pulled out of a deal to buy Freeserve. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Jul 2000

Toys for free! Get in quick

In the battle for market share, Yahoo's ToyZone appears to have got a little carried away. In what must be the sale of the century, everything in the site's stock is available at the bargain share price of £0.00. And orders are coming back with email confirmation. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. We doubt very much whether these orders will be shipped out and since they will begin shipping in the next day or so, the prices are unlikely to remain at this bargain price for long. It's still going to cost a bit though, firstly because they'll have to sort through all the orders and secondly because it is impossible to make a genuine order until the prices are sorted out. The IT staff are probably having panic attacks as we speak. Of course, there is another explanation. We would never have written about a toy site normally. Yahoo will obviously not have to stand by any orders made either. Is all publicity good publicity? (Ooh, you are so cynical). ®
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Jul 2000

Porn mongers WAP off online

It was inevitable but not necessarily practical. That's right, you can now relieve your sordid fantasies using a WAP phone. No, not the kinky pics where the inquisitive python has been replaced by new-millennial wireless equipment, we are talking porn WAP sites. Pics of naked people in unusual poses and pages of filthy writing are now available to anyone daft enough to have bought a WAP phone and who is indifferent to the size of their phone bill. What do you think the public response has been? That's right: oh my god, the kids have unrestricted access! They will all become sex perverts and eat babies (but only after they have abused them)! Aside from the fact that this tediously cliched argument is nonsense - kids are extremely resourceful, they will get hold off as much porn as they want, and there's nothing you can do about it - even the fervent imagination of a spotty teenager will have a difficult job of making anything out of these sites. Your phone will probably not be able to display pictures and so www.wapdrive.com/ohmywap will of little use to you. Even if you could see Sara from Japan, let's bear in mind that we're talking about a three-inch green screen here. A copy of OK! magazine is more erotic. Plus you'll have to pay and wait while this tiny, blurred image appeared. We couldn't get http://wap.cybersex.nl to work. So what else? Text-based sex sites. Fantasies, instructions - you know, society destroying stuff. If poorly written sex fantasies are your thing, check out http://tagtag.com/sex2txt from the list. Only problem with these sites is that there is a limited amount of data you can have on one page, so you'll have to download page after page before getting to the end, so to speak. Not great. But, hang on, don't give up yet. Here we have a genuinely useful (and saucy) scenario for you. You're with your partner. You've had a lovely meal and a few glasses of wine and the Channel 5 movie has got you both going. You clamber upstairs and prepare for lovemaking. But it's not quite right. You always do the same things - why don't you surprise me anymore? your partner asks. It's all going wrong. What do you do? Well you could blame them and get into a stupid argument. You could flounce out and sleep downstairs. You could just fall asleep. OR you could sneak off to the bathroom with your WAP phone, call up http://wwwmmm.free.fr/kamasutra/kamasutra and select the position that is within both your bodies' limits. Return and amaze them with your knowledge of Eastern erotic literature. IT news and marriage counselling in one go. Shit, The Reg will call itself a portal soon. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Jul 2000

Microsoft IIS security hole persists despite available patch

An old and subsequently well-publicised flaw in Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), which allows anyone with a Web browser to gain admin-level access to a server, continues to plague many sites in spite of the availability patches to correct it. The flaw first became news just over a year ago with a flurry of advisories posted on numerous news sites, and Microsoft did respond and issue a patch. Wired, for example, ran their coverage on 15 June of last year. However, as one of The Register's sharp-eyed readers has discovered and brought to our attention, putting the word out and issuing a patch hardly guarantees that anyone will bother to install it. The hole enables an unauthorised visitor to determine what version of NT is running, and to see or easily guess file and directory locations with a mind towards further exploitation of the site. On an e-commerce site with a shopping cart application running, the flaw can make it easy to compromise consumers' account details. Among the more high-profile sites reported to be running the product in a still-unpatched version are Safeway, IKEA and Tower Records. Undoubtedly many thousands of less-known sites are as well. The Register has confirmed the hole in the instances mentioned above, but for obvious reasons we're not describing the exploit in detail. ®
Thomas C Greene, 05 Jul 2000

Modems to get one last upgrade before death by DSL

The analog modem has been given a reprieve from extinction at the hands of DSL, courtesy of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The Geneva-based telecoms standards body has ratified a new modem standard, v.92, that promises to boost upload speeds by 40 per cent. The first products are due in Q4. Sounds good, but in fact, it's not that hot. Current 56Kbps modems upload at around 33.6Kbps, on a very good line. The new standard simply takes that to just over 47Kbps, hardly ISDN speed, let alone DSL. And even the ITU admits that speed is only achieved on "the best connections". How many of us have those? Download speeds remain the same: a theoretical 56Kbps, but a more practical 47Kbps on a decent line. This minor increase in upload speed was inflated by the ITU thus: "[It] will further improve the Internet users experience by significantly reducing connect times and providing improved access to new Internet services." John Magill, chairman of the ITU working party said the testing process should be begin in the next few weeks. "I would expect products to start appearing sometime in Q4," he said. The new standard does appear to reduce the time it takes for modems to handshake, which should allow users to log on to the Net more quickly. It also allows modems to cope with call waiting signals so that single-line owners can elect to answer voice calls and still stay connected to the Net. More importantly, though, the group behind the v.92 standard announced a new modem data compression standard, v.44, which it reckons will improve data throughput rates from the current 150-200Kbps to 300Kbps. Not quite DSL, it's true, but it doesn't require changes to you home phone line. Maybe, but it's hard to see surfers willing to pay out for a slightly faster analog modem when DSL seems so damn close. That said, if the way BT is rolling out that technology in the UK, there may yet be room in the market for a final analog modem upgrade. Additional reporting by Lucy Sherriff®
Tony Smith, 05 Jul 2000

Reg readers exhume OmniView

Many thanks to readers who responded to our request to shed light on OmniView. The great lost task-switcher was mentioned in a brief bio of Michael Toutonghi, who received one of Microsoft's Distinguished Engineer awards last week. However, a metaphorical flick of Vulture guano goes to various off-mark suggestions alluding to switches, HP's OpenView or in one case ... "CAERE or some similar name was the company name. It was an OCR program. Fairly good for it's time I believe." We liked the picture unearthed by old Register friend John Wilson. Yerrsss... it is based in Seattle, but not what we had in mind. One reader who wishes to remain nameless best sums it up: "OmniView was a TopView clone, but done right - fast and memory efficient. Microsoft was not at all concerned about TopView because it was so slow and fat, but OmniView could give the TopView idea new life - for instance IBM could purchase OmniView and use it instead of TopView. This was a threat to Windows or OS/2... so Microsoft bought the company to get the people and to kill their technology." In view of this we can maybe allow ourselves a small sardonic smile, because OmniView actually gets a mention on microsoft.com. Not, as it happens, as part of a CV for Toutonghi, but in Dean Schmalensee's evidence for the antitrust trial - the context being thatin this part of his evidence Schmalensee is claiming that MS-DOS won on merit over tough competition from numerous potential rivals, including, er, OmniView. And here in full, is ye olde autentick advertifemente for the product. OMNIVIEW (formerly TASKVIEW) is a preemptive multitasker for DOS programs; this differentiates it from Microsoft Windows, Software Carousel and others which do not provide true multitasking. You CAN achieve true multitasking with Microsoft Windows by running multiple Windows '286 applications inside of OMNIVEW. Unlike Quartedeck's DESQView, each OMNIVIEW process is a full screen application - this makes OMNIVIEW both smaller and faster; A very important consideration when running concurrent real time applications (such as high speed communication programs or industrial control systems) or when relying on memory hungry device drivers and TSRs. Any TopView/DESQView aware application will run as expected. In contrast to VM/386, OMNIVIEW does not utilize (nor impose the overhead of) the '386 virtual 8086 mode. Each process operates in real mode. The increasingly popular 'DOS extenders' may be fully utilized inside any OMNIVIEW partion, allowing multiple concurrent multi-megabyte applications. While OMNIVIEW is compatible with Quarterdeck's QEMM and other virtual control programs, we recommend Qualitas' 386^MAX ($49.95) to get the maximum benefit of OMNIVIEW on '386 systems; the professional version of this program ($100) will also load device drivers into high memory, maximizing the space available to run other programs. SysOps quilify for a 35% discount off OMNIVIEW's $79.95 retail price. OMNIVIEW's features include: -- As many as ten concurrently operating programs on a single machine. -- Runs on all PCs from 8088 to 80386 based systems. -- True multitasking with user specifieable time slice duration (127 levels) and relative process priorities (15 levels). -- Utilizes LIM 3.2, 4.0 and EEMS memory. -- TSR's loaded before OMNIVIEW can be accessed by all processes. -- TSR's loaded inside partitions act just as any other program, to remove them just kill the partition. -- Supports all standard video adapters in all modes. -- Loads in as little as 10K of conventional memory. -- INCREASES memory available to run DOS applications by over 80K on some systems. -- Keyboard macros and the ability to "cut and paste" among applications. -- Easy to use menu interface. -- Command line interface with a powerful collection of utility programs allows experienced users maximum flexibility. -- Free technical support and much more. The OMNIVIEW Application Programmer's Interface (OAPI), available for the asking, has supported C, ASM and Turbo Pascal programmers since 1986. All OAPI applications have the ability to: -- Create and eliminate sibling processes. -- Suspend, activate and control sibling processes. -- Send keystrokes to programs running in other partitions. -- Send and receive various message objects. -- Perform time sequenced, background events. -- Establish shared data areas. -- Create "invisible" customized user interfaces to integrated multitasking applications. -- and much more. Mailing Address: Sunny Hill Software POB 55278 Seattle, WA 98155-5278 Register Note In our piece on Microsoft's first 16 Distinguished Engineers we described Chuck Thacker as the Director of MSR's Cambridge Facility. This title of course really belongs to Professor Roger Needham, who lured Chuck to the Fens. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Jul 2000
cable

Common worldwide mobile coverage aims to make a Mint

An English friend who spent a few days in Spain was amazed to discover text messages on his mobile sent by the local Spanish mobile network to welcome him to Barcelona. Talk to anyone in the world in the mobile industry and they will tell you (like it's the first time you've heard it) that Europe is ahead in mobile technology for just this reason - a common interface. But before we launch into a pan-European round of backslapping, what about the fact that calling from a country other than your operator's is often extremely expensive and apparently random, changing from day to day? Well, no more. A company called Mint has bought a huge chunk of airtime across 112 countries and 240 networks and promises a maximum flat fee of 85p a minute anywhere in the world. Calls will be fed through two main routing stations in Switzerland and Iceland. This is a very smart idea and the company has spent a small fortune building the networks up. Of course the company has a wide range of example call charges that are way above the 85p a minute (London to Moscow: £3.43 a minute (One2One); Hong Kong to Moscow: £4.50 a minute (Vodafone)). The idea is that people (presumably mostly businessmen) will change their phone's SIM card when they leave the country to the Mint card. They will then benefit from the flat-rate charging. But is worldwide mobile communication a big enough market for the investment? Hard to know really, but we imagine Mint has looked at it very very carefully indeed. Also since Mint is working on flat rates (there's a smaller one for exactly half - 42.5p per minute), it will save a small fortune in billing software. All it has to do is concentrate on buying the airtime. Why will businesses go to the trouble to save a few bob? Another good bit of thinking. We all know companies are run by bean-counters these days and while the savings will tantalise them, the flat rate idea will make it irresistible. How come? Tangibles. Accountants love nothing more than a constant company-wide charge for a service - fits into easy boxes, one figure to type into Sage. That's why we think Mint, if properly marketed, deserves to be a great success. While hundreds of other companies are poncing about with the sexy, consumable aspects of mobiles, it's good to see a solid business model that builds on, rather than velcros to the side of, expanding technology. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Jul 2000

AltaVista in give away mood

AltaVista has become unusually generous. It seems a fault crept into the company's online rewards scheme that has a daily prize of 500,000 free points for the winning subscriber. However, it seems that anyone who refreshed the page received a notification that they were the day's lucky winner. The problem appears to be confined to Altavista.com, according to a UK spokeswoman. The US side of AltaVista was investigating the problem yesterday, but could not comment on it today, beyond acknowledging that it had happened. AltaVista sent this email to its members: Dear Rewards Member, Thank you for your continued participation in our Rewards Program! We are currently in the process of verifying your information. This process has been delayed due to some technical issues with the verification process. We are working diligently towards a resolution and will be contacting you within the next 3-5 working days, with a resolution to your inquiry and the status of your Rewards account. We appreciate your patience during this brief delay and will be contacting you very shortly, at the email address you provided. Thank you for choosing AltaVista Shopping.com, we appreciate your patronage. Sincerely, Jos AltaVista Rewards Team Speculation about how the problem of paying all these winners is running wild, to the great annoyance of many newsgroup users. One commented: "Im not sure what planet you guys are on. Do you really think AltaVista is going to give thousands of people 500,000 points each, which would cost them like a million dollars? I DON'T THINK SO! Come on now people, get real! Quite. If anyone from AltaVista would like to comment, we'd love to hear from you.®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Jul 2000

Big Q's TPC benchmarks disqualified

Compaq has been ousted from its pole position in the TPC-C transaction processing benchmarks in slightly humiliating fashion. A spokesperson for the TPC in San Jose told The Register that two Q entries had been disqualified for failing condition 1.6.3 of the benchmark. This is one of the data transparency conditions which states that "general purpose mechanisms" must be supported to access data, without the application needing to know where exactly it is. It turns out that the fault lies with SQL Server 2000 itself, rather than the great Stan of haircuts. Both of Q's benchmarks were on ProLiant 8500 series hardware running SQL Server 2000, and were originally passed in February. You can find them here. IBM grabbed the top Performance TPC-C figure with a DB2 on Netfinity running Windows 2000 on Monday. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Jul 2000