Episode 31Episode 31 BOFH2000: Episode 31 So The Boss has volunteered my services to the Beancounters to upgrade some software an PC-based unix system to its latest (and last, if there's a God) revision -from the current version they have - which was probably installed on the Ark. And as is always the case with vendors of old, dodgy software, there's more clauses to the Warranty than there is Warranty (or Documentation), so it looks like a suck-it-and-see job. I hate it. I offer to slap Linux in and rebuild their system for them, but apparently some equally crap chunk of interface software absolutely HAS to have this EXACT flavour of Unix to run, or it'll just sit mindlessly in the corner like most of its users. Eventually I come across the licences for the software, which probably cost more to print than the product is worth - and notice that the licences are for the old version of the software, and not the new version they were delivered with. Sigh. So I've got to choose whether to back the whole lot up on floppies using a brain-dead version of the only backup package the system has - cpio - and then perform the upgrade, or give it a miss altogether. So I'm packing up my kit when The Boss rolls in. "So what's it look like?" he asks, peering at the documentation and pretending he can read multiple syllable words. "Looks tricky.." "More than tricky" I respond, "A pig's breakfast - The licences aren't valid and the documentation is shite!" "Nonsense, it's just a misprint!" he cries when I show him the evidence. "It's bound to be a typing mistake!" To top my day off, the user of the machine concerned arrives for his twopenn'th of information. "How's it going?" he asks nervously. "Fine!" the boss cries, "Just about to get started! Well, I'll leave you to it!" He trundles off with the user for a cup of something which I can only hope is toxic.. And I'm left wondering what Lassie would do... would she dial the suspiciously short US 24hr freecall number? Would she ring the local "Value Added" (pfft) Reseller and ask what the hell's going on? Or would she just relieve herself on the cabinet and wander off? So I'm relieving myself on the cabinet (with the Power OFF, of course) when the user returns to the office. .. Slightly shocked by the look of it. "Thank goodness you're here!" I cry, adlibbing like a daemon, "Quick, get a fire extinguisher - I think I'm holding it at bay!!!" He rips out of the office like a madman while I escalate things a bit by kicking the tower over and jumping on it a couple of times until the lid pops off, to "stifle any lingering flames". When he gets back I empty half a cylinder of dry powder into the floppy and CD openings just to make sure that it doesn't "spontaneously re-ignite". . . . "Better safe that sorry!" I mention to my helper as I empty the other half of the cylinder into the cooling fan inlet of his machine's power supply. "My system!" he gasps. "YEARS of work!" "Oh, don't worry about it, it's all backed up," I reassure him. "Really?!" "Nah, couldn't be stuffed. But hey, they hard drive's still OK!" "You think so?" "Almost definitely - there it is there, hardly a scratch on it, except for those heel marks." "What heel marks?" >CRUNCH< >CRUNCH< >CRUNCH< "Those ones!" . . . So I'm in The Boss's office and he's not buying the fire story for a minute. Neither is he buying the: "my dog ate the backup tape" story. "You're for the high jump now!" he cries, grabbing the phone and punching in security's number. "You're as good as gone!" "Gone?!" The PFY cries, arriving in the nick of time. "That's great! I can't believe my luck!" "?" The Boss hmmms. "Well *I* get to be in charge! I get to make decisions for myself! Crash the systems when I want, leak your dodgy Website browsing to the HOD, randomly disconnect network connections f.." I non-maskably interrupt the PFY with a quick >SLAP!< before he can get all the way to meglomaniacland. Still he does dribble on a bit about making the user's lives a misery in his own way, making IT Management look like the prats they are, and so forth. Another NMI brings him back to the real world.. "Well, maybe I was a bit hasty in my initial estimation," The Boss adds nervously, thinking carefully about the devil he knows. "No, no!" I cry, realising the vast untapped fear potential stored within the PFY, "I think you were more than justified! I'm a walking technical timebomb! I'm a menace to myself and others. I can't be trusted near equipment! Like your monitor." "My monitor?" >CRASH< "Yes!" "An accident," The Boss cries, "could have happened to anyone! Look! See!" >CRASH< a laptop joins the debris. 10 minutes later every piece of kit in the place is in pieces on the floor as the Boss strives to prove that I'm not a completely malicious bastard after all, and just prone to workplace accidents like him. It's all rather fun really. Even more fun when security rocket up in response to the sounds of crashing on the phone call they just received in time to see the boss "accidentally" push his bookshelf over. "Thank Goodness you're here!" I cry, using a line that's served me well in the recent past. "He's gone completely mad you know. A walking timebomb - a menace to himself and others! Why only this morning he directed me to urinate in a mach..." The rest is just history, like The Boss. The wailing, the gnashing of teeth, the denials - it's worse than a Presidential Impeachment. Still, best get 6 or 7 cups of coffee if I'm to complete that upgrade.... ® BOFH: Kit and Caboodle That's right, the whole shebang BOFH is the Bastard Operator from Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.
Just one clear day after Micron (the MuHeads) took antitrust action against Rambus, Hyundai (a Dramurai) threw its weight against the Mountain View intellectual property engine and is taking legal action against the company. The new twist in the continuing saga, reported by Electronic News, means that the kevlar-plated Ramboosters are now facing squadrons of quill-equipped space lawyers from Infineon, Hyundai and Micron. Yesterday, the Ramboosters duly and belatedly danced its part in the memory gavotte, stating that it would "vigorously defend" its intellectual property. The argy-bargy centres around who owns the patents on synchronous and DDR memory, but, under the surface, memory giants are nurturing seething resentments at the thought of having to pay royalties to Rambus for anything. The story so far. Scientists on the planet Ramboost developed a new technology and with aid of the Evil Intel Empire prepared to invade PCs everywhere and insert reams of RIMMs into citizens' motherboards. Brave Dramurai from the planet Hitachi attempted to beat the Ramboosters but were forced to surrender. The Ramboosters then struck at Planet Infineon, aided and abetted by renegade Dramurai from Toshiba bis and Oki Pinoki. MuHeads from the planet Boise struck back and then [that's enough Eagle comic stuff - Ed]. ® See Also Micron sues Rambus Rambus sues Infineon How the hell... do I countersue Rambus
Loyal Argentinian reader Gerardo points us in the direction of a remarkable experiment at Tech Junkie, which applied 12,000 volts of power to a Voodoo 3 with spectacular results. There's even a little movie of the end result. Don't try this at home... If all that was a little too exhausting, why don't you take a peek at the USB iBrator. Will Apple sue? More seriously, over at Hexus Net you can find a pretty informative piece about modems. At Overclockers Au, there's a review of the case called The Big Kahuna. Lastly, but not leastly at all, we have to report that our favourite hardware site, Hardware Com has a plaintive note saying it has been acquired by Onvia.Com -- a business to business site. Sniff. ® If you're still twitching for tin talk visit our Hardware Round-up.
UpdatedUpdated OEMs close to Intel's plans are reporting that its 1GHz Pentium III flip chip microprocessor is suffering from big heat problems which are being addressed with a fresh stepping of the part. The news comes only 36 hours after Intel pulled the plug on its 1.13GHz Pentium III, which is currently at stepping cC0. Meanwhile, system integrators in Europe are having difficulties sourcing high end microprocessors from both AMD and Intel, we can report. According to the PC vendors, there has been no production delivery of Pentium III 1GHz flip chips for around three weeks. The current stepping of the Pentium III 1GHz is B1, but Intel engineers have told their PC vendors that stepping C would eliminate heat problems they have encountered with the microprocessor. This news also throws light on the 1GHz situation in the distributor-dealer channel. Although 1GHz FC-PGA microprocessors are listed, dealers are unable to obtain the part. But it seems that it's not only Intel which is finding it difficult to supply high end processors. According to system integrators in the Netherlands, it is hard to find clock high speeds for Thunderbirds too. One source said: "At www.norrod.nl it seems that the highest clocked AMD Thunderbird available is 900MHz and for Intel it would be 866MHz. AMD should wait until October with their 1.2GHz launch until they can produce enough 1GHz/1.1GHz parts. The same story for Intel here." This situation may be peculiar to The Netherlands only. One reader said: "The fastest AMD procesor you can buy (stand alone) in the Netherlands is the Thunderbird 950Mhz. I found it here. A 1GHz is indeed harder to find, but then again we're used to get the best things when the rest of the world already has it." Another Dutch reader commented: "I'd like to point out in reference to your article that unavailability of GHz Athlons in The Netherlands is in no way an indication of delivery problems with that part. As a long time inhabitant of The Netherlands, I can attest to the fact that all high end hardware devices take absolutely forever to filter their way down into the Dutch channel. This has always been the case, and we're used to it by now. We expect the GHz Athlons to become available before the end of the decade, and at a price point that would put Intel's overpriced bits to shame. Like I said, we're used to it." Not like Akihabara in Japan, then, nor like Finland, Sweden or Germany, where readers report there are plenteous quantities of 1GHz Athlons. Marco Fumagalli, who compiles Spot Register for us, notes: "AMD 1Gb parts are available both in Europe and US. The quantities in stock are limited, usually to 20 or 50 pieces, but so is the demand. Prices for kits are around $500. The K7 900 Thunderbird is really selling well and at $270 it's definitely a great price. There are some random shortages on entry level Slot A parts, such as the 700MHz and 750MHz." One North American dealer, who declined to be named, said he had no difficulties getting hold of AMD parts over the last month, but, he added, 1GHz Pentium III chips have never (his italics) shown up as available on either Tech Data or Ingram Micro. Intel and AMD were unavailable for comment at press time. ® Tests on our own flip chip 1GHz PIII do not reveal any overheating problems adds Andrew Thomas. Equipped with a Quiet PC radial cooler, no part of the CPU or heatsink has ever become even warm to the touch.
After all the PR folk bogged off at the Intel Developer Forum last week, the legions of international hacks still left at the San Jose Towers and Hilton asked the elected spin doctor whether the firm kept records on journalists. "Indeed they do," replied the bogus PR representative. "It all depends on the country you live in on the nature of those records." By this, we believe she meant that in some territories, such as the UK, data protection legislation allows individuals to ask corporations to share the info they're holding in electronic form, although here, at least, paper briefings were formerly not accessible to outside requests. That changed on the 1st of March 2000 in the UK. Individuals can now ask for details of paper records that are held on them too. So, for a small fee, journalists can find out what big companies really think about them. (Thanks to a reader for pointing this out.) Some journalists were shocked to hear that large companies held information about hacks, but y'know it makes a kind of sense. If you're wheeling a suit out in front of a hack, it helps them to have an idea of the person's specialities, his or her nature, and the kind of question she or he is likely to ask. As a service to the general hack community, therefore, we are pleased to present The Register Guide to interviewing Senior Intel Executives, drawn from years of experience. Readers should note that Intel has an internal policy which can be best summed up as confrontational. In meetings, employees are encouraged to disagree with their bosses and to clearly state why. For example, if a boss says execute something by such and such a date, and an employee does not believe it can be done by then, she or he is supposed to say "I don't agree". While this can be cathartic for people joining Intel who may have talked water-cooler talk at their previous companies, the confrontative approach is supposed to ensure everyone is clear on where they stand on a decision, whether agreeing or disagreeing. Dr Andrew Grove Andy Grove does not mind answering tough questions, but has problems with people who beat around the bush. For example, at a Q&A held pre-IDF this year, Tom's Hardware writer Van Smith asked him whether he thought it was right that Intel should invest in firms like Cnet. Grove's answer demonstrated his style. While rebutting what he described as an accusation by Smith, he also outlined the reasons why Intel had originally made the investment, which was to promote the Internet. That strategy had worked, said Grove, by promoting online and other Web sites, including, he added Tom's Hardware Page. (For a fuller version of this, see Van Smith's account). We have asked him direct questions and he never dodges them, although he may well give himself a moment of reflection before he replies. On the other hand, ask him a flabby or meaningless question and he'll rip it apart. Dr Craig Barrett At interview, Barrett comes across very reasonably. We've never seen him flustered by any question, even the most outré. However, he is acutely aware that as the CEO his answers may have reverberations beyond the limits of a briefing. Has a relaxed demeanour at Q&A time. Like practically every other Intel chief exec, you can ask him a question but if he chooses not to answer it, you're a lost soul. Try the subtle (aka sneaky) question -- you may learn more this way. Pat "Kicking" Gelsinger This man has a sense of humour but don't let that fool you. He's hard as nails. Gelsinger loves techie questions but can successfully bat just about any brick you lob at him. He actually welcomes tough questions but has no hesitation saying "I'm not going to tell you that" if he's not going to tell you that. The Harry Potter look-alike has been known to shake people by the hand, then physically drag them to the front of the auditorium where he can "keep his eyes" on them. At the spring IDF, Gelsinger donated $20 to the Save Ziff Davis fund when a British journalist contributed a good idea to Intel (photo available on request). Dr Albert Yu Albert Yu can be tricky to interview. He gives the impression of stubbornness if you ask a really difficult question and seems firmly to stick to the guidelines that we presume exist on these occasions. Nor does he like being directly challenged. When we asked him last week for a rough idea of when the Pentium IV 2GHz processor might ship, his answer was "I don't know". Of course, he does, but as Craig Barrett gently pointed out he was not at liberty to divulge that. The more a journalist persists with one particular question, the more Yu sticks his heels in. Our advice is if he doesn't answer the first time, give up. Paul Otellini A stylish, sophisticated and subtle operator. Like Grove, Otellini likes direct questions but woe betide you if you don't get it the first time round. At a Comdex some years back, we were interested to see his reaction to an Italian journalist who didn't understand his answer and persisted in asking the same question. Otellini, clearly annoyed, stopped him in his tracks. Gives frank answers to frank questions, and sometimes throws in more for good measure. ® The Register is registered under the Data Protection Act. See also How Intel regards the press - official.
ExclusiveExclusive Andy Mitchell is now the former MD of AltaVista UK, The Register can reveal. Employees were told of Mitchell's departure yesterday, although the announcement will come as little surprise to anyone who has followed this farcical caper. It's not know yet whether he was pushed or took the decision to jump himself, although the likelihood is that he was given little option but to resign. A statement about his reasons for leaving, and who will succeed him at AltaVista in the UK and Ireland, will be published later this morning. ® Related Stories For the full Register account of AltaVista and its phantom unmetered internet access offer click here.
UpdatedUpdated 3dfx has vowed to fight back "vigorously" against Nvidia's claims that its two most recent generations of 3D chip violate its arch-rival's patents. On Monday, Nvidia filed a patent infringement suit against 3dfx, citing five technologies it owns and it reckons 3dfx is using in its Voodoo 3 and VSA-100 graphics accelerators. We noted in our report yesterday that 3dfx had itself charged Nvidia with a similar patent transgression, back in 1998, and that's what 3dfx believes Nvidia's latest move is all about. "Nvidia's filing of a suit is clearly an attempt to force a settlement of our existing patent infringement lawsuit against Nvidia, and we believe demonstrates a lack of confidence in their current defence," 3dfx president and CEO Alex Leupp said in a statement. He may have a point. Nvidia's latest SEC filing notes that "we are subject to a patent infringement lawsuit that could divert our resources and result in the payment of substantial damages". [our italics - and thanks to reader Nick De Rico for the link] That said, Nvidia's statement is a classic fiscal caveat, and the company may simply be protecting its posterior from irate shareholders in case the 3dfx suit ultimately goes against it. 3dfx's case centres on Nvidia's alleged use of its multi-texturing technology. Nearly two years on, the case continues, despite a number of hearings, though 3dfx has added further alleged patent infringements to the case in the meantime, in March 1999 and May 1999. 3dfx said it expects a judicial decision to be made soon on how its claims should be interpreted. Nvidia's action focuses on the way add-in cards and the chips mounted on them can speed up the transfer of data between board and host. Three of the five patents were assigned to Nvidia more than two years ago, which makes us wonder why the company never made a fuss about it before. A tactical lawsuit? It certainly sounds like one. ® Related Stories Nvidia sues 3dfx over patents Nvidia says 3Dfx action a nuisance 3Dfx sues arch-rival Related Link Nvidia's latest SEC filing
UpdatedUpdated Dundee-based ISP, Ezesurf, has gone bust after being landed with a bill for £1.7 million (£2.08 million including VAT) from Net outfit, Energis Squared. The invoice covered charges for providing freecall Net access between February and July 2000. In a 2,300 word weepy published on the Ezesurf site, MD Matt Bryson blames everyone but himself for the collapse of the company. He: * accuses staff of being lazy, good-for-nothing so-and-sos who defrauded the company * blames Energis Squared (formerly Planet Online) for billing a "major amount" * whines about AltaVista getting lots of publicity for its unmetered Net access service * reckons a bit of pyramid selling will get him and his ISP out of this scrape The letter, headed "'EZESURF' - The UK’s longest running freecall Internet provider - Sorry But We Are Now Closed" is a tear-jerking monolgue and well worth a read. Last week Reg reported that Ezesurf was in trouble, although this was denied by both Energis and the Scottish ISP. Update You could have clicked here for a cracking read but sadly the whole site has been taken down. But you're in luck - we've saved the letter. Just remember to have a tissue handy, alright. Oh, And if you want to know what ex-Ezesurf employees think of their former company check out this natty little site. BTW, this comments section is particularly enlightening. ® Related Stories Ezesurf ISP denies it's gone titsup.com
Graphics accelerator maker 3dfx pronounced itself "very disappointed" with its financial performance when it posted its latest business figures yesterday. For 3dfx's second quarter of fiscal 2001, the company recorded reduced revenues of $67 million, down from the $104.8 million it received for the same period last year and the $108.6 million it picked up in Q1. Back in June, the company admitted it wasn't going to make its Q2 2001 revenue targets, a fact is described as "frustrating". Indeed, had 3dfx achieved last year's revenue, it would have made an operating profit this quarter. The company's profits on sales reached $10.2 million, but that was knocked into a $25.5 million operating loss (97 cents a share) from $19.2 million of R&D costs and $16.5 in other expenses. One-off charges, primarily from 3dfx's acquisition of Gigapixel, knocked the company's loss right down to $100.5 million (381 cents a share), compared to Q2 2000's loss of $11.6 million (50 cents a share). 3dfx blamed the poor figures on component supply issues, seasonal demand levels and the transition from its ageing Voodoo 3 line to the long-awaited Voodoo 4 and 5 families, many members of which where not available to buy until very late in the quarter, if at all. Still, as US market researcher PC Data reported last week, 3dfx's new boards are picking up sales in retail, with the Voodoo 5 5500 AGP card outselling its nearest rival two to one. The prospects for the immediate future, then, look good, but 3dfx will have to work hard to catch up with its highly profitable arch-rival Nvidia. That means aggressively targeting the PC OEM market and non-PC arenas. 3dfx says that's exactly what it wants to do, but success isn't certain. "This coming quarter we will be shipping a full line of new Voodoo products across a variety of different price points," said 3dfx president and CEO Alex Leupp. Good. 3dfx needs to clarify its product line-up and refine its roadmap if the return to profitability it so desires is to take place. ® Related Stories 3dfx 'frustrated' by revenue shortfall 3dfx damns Nvidia patent suit 3dfx commits to proprietary Mac monitor port 3dfx rejigs Voodoo 5 release schedule
UpdatedUpdated Sony's upcoming Palm-based PDA was launched in the US last night, just a month after the device family made its Japanese debut. Then, Sony unveiled two PDAs - or Personal Entertainment Organiser, as it calls them - one with a monochrome screen, the other with a colour LCD. Sony will only ship the backlit monochrome model in the US, and admitted that the decision had been taken because of the worldwide shortage in small form-factor colour LCDs. In the US, the Sony PDA will be called the Clie, presumably chosen because it's similar to Clip, the name of the company's pen-shaped digital music player. Clie is short for Communication Link Information Entertainment, and while we thought it stood for Sony's PDA-serving, Web-based content portal, it now appears to be the name of the device too. And a pretty poor name it is too. Pronounced 'Cly' or 'clee', it's still doesn't slip off the tongue. In fact, it's actually pronounced 'clee-ay' -ie. an acute accent on the 'e' - not that that's exactly obvious. And at $399 it may not slip off the shelves either. The retail market is increasingly becoming the province of low-cost machines. Palm's own consumer-oriented device, the m100, retails at $149, to match Handspring's Visor, which is setting the consumer PDA standard. With a machine more than twice that price, Sony will have to rely on branding if it's going to make the machine a success. We suspect many would-be PDA buyers, attracted by Sony's marketing, will nevertheless walk away with cheaper Palm or Handspring machines. Still, if that grows the PalmOS market, that's no bad thing, and Sony's PDA - simply because it is a Sony - is unlikely to be a poor seller. The colour PDA might change that, but it's not set to appear in the US until sometime next year, and even then will to be more expensive than monochrome machines. The Sony Clie will ship with 8MB RAM, 2MB Flash memory and an 8MB MemoryStick card, PalmOS 3.5, USB Cradle/charger, built in LiIon battery, AC travel adaptor and a protective case. ® Related Stories Sony unveils content site for Palm PDAs Sony unveils 'PalmPowered' entertainment PDA Sony Palm-based PDA debuts on Web
Microsoft is to release the first beta of Office 2000's successor, codenamed Office 10, to a restricted number of testers. According to some (unconfirmed) sources, it gave Office 10 beta to testers at the beginning of August, but Microsoft has now decided to announce some of the features of the new software suite. So what do we have? Well, it's still the same Office code as a foundation (the last time apparently) so we're still looking at bloatware. The aim is to make it "more accessible and easier to use". And so appears a new user interface "option" that covers all Office applications, and this is called a "task pane". It is building XML into Excel and Access to bring them in line with Word. This will mean you can shift and manipulate data easier, tie it in with Web apps and, of course, come up with some pretty graphics to show at a presentation. It is expanding group-working "capabilities", so you can have several people working on Office documents at the same time. What else? It's up to its old tricks by tying in Hotmail and Microsoft Instant Messenger with Outlook Express. It is increasing security overall, improving document recovery and tying in so-called "smart tags" which will let you put a symbol on a page that links you to a particular Web page. It will also being completely backwards compatible, says Microsoft. No dates have been set for the second beta release but the finished product is due to ship mid-2001. Office 10 is a middle product to Microsoft grand vision of Office.Net, which is timetabled so far for 2002. ® Related Stories No cheap WinME upgrade for 95 users, says MS MS dumping Win95 support in next version of Office?
A San Francisco judge has allowed the first class-action lawsuit on behalf of consumers to go ahead against Microsoft. Microsoft has so far successfully ducked a string of similar actions in other states, on the grounds that local laws only allow the immediate vendor to be sued (i.e. the dealer), but sooner or later one of them had to stick. Judge Stuart R Pollack seems at least a little equivocal on the subject; earlier this month he said it would be difficult to prove that consumers had been harmed, but yesterday he opted for the class-action suit to go ahead in order to avoid "repetitious litigation." Which actually sounds like good news for Microsoft, as it perhaps signals the judge's belief that he can throttle a lot of Californian antitrust actions before they happen, simply by allowing this one. The case covers copies of Windows, MS-DOS, Word and Excel sold in California since May 18th 1994. Microsoft itself seems to have come up with a particularly impressive heroic failure in its efforts to stop the suit going ahead. According to Charles Casper, the company's attorney, it sells its products to all sorts of different companies who sell them on at all sorts of different prices (N.B., this is precisely the reverse of what we'd heard), and so the judge would have to consider each consumer's claim separately in order to assess damages. How many million consumers would this cover? Doesn't this sound like it could be the case of the millennium for attorneys specialising in stalling tactics? ("Now we turn to exhibit 5,001,675, which is a receipt for MS-DOS 6.2, purchased by Mr. Otis Hooterschlacht in Newport Beach on August 10th 1994...") Actually it sounds more like a profound and wilful misunderstanding of the purpose of class actions to us, but what do we know? But the rejection of this bizarre argument, and the action going ahead, is probably more positive than negative for Microsoft. Where the state law permits, actions are clearly going to be allowed, and Microsoft also has pending a request to a federal judge in Baltimore to dismiss or consolidate 62 pending class actions. Dismissal ought to be asking to much, but consolidation makes sense - less hassle for Microsoft, sure, but if the plaintiffs all got together they'd be able to afford bigger tanks, so it'd probably be more fun. ®
A tribute has flooded in for Andy Mitchell, the former MD of AltaVista UK and Ireland, and the man who single-handedly carried the can for the dotcom's failed brush with affordable Net access in Britain. Pierre Paperon, President of AltaVista Europe said: "Over the past seven months Andy Mitchell built our UK business almost from scratch. "We are very grateful for all he has done to grow an excellent UK search service and a strong organisation. "The mistakes in our planned Internet access service - which we do acknowledge – probably made Andy’s departure inevitable, and we support his decision. "But I would like to say that we recognise the tremendous drive and enthusiasm that Andy has brought to his work, and the important positive contributions that he has made," he said in a prepared statement. Mitchell has been replaced - for the time being at least - by Stephanie Himoff, who is now acting Managing Director of AltaVista UK. It is not known what Mitchell plans to do next. Himoff was not available for comment today but in a statement she said: "From today, AltaVista is focusing on our core business: Internet search. "Search is the second most popular UK on-line activity, after email. Our focus is to provide the best service to enable British users find the information they need on the Internet," she said. No doubt those visionaries at AltaVista currently licking their wounds are wishing they'd stayed with their "core business" and never even thought of becoming an ISP. ®
Redstone Telecom has announced sales leap of 144 per cent to £17.8 million for the quarter ending June 30. Net loss before tax was £2.9 million, a year earlier it was £1.5 million for the same period. Redstone, which intends to offer broadband communication over DSL to SMEs, has 9,500 business customers. The publishers of lads mag Maxim have grabbed a five per cent stake in Firebox, the online supplier of games and gadgets. Dennis Publishing will give sponsorship and advertising in return for the share of the company. Firebox also plans to raise £1 million through a private placement offered exclusively online. Amazon will launch its french operation tomorrow Amazon.fr. This follows the book retailers failure to buy established operation Alapage.com. The world's largest chain of DIY stores, Home Depot, has gone online with a site it claims can handle 20 million customers a day. The site will offer around 40,000 products. Maarten van den Bergh, former president of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and former MD of the Royal Dutch/Shell group of companies, is to join the board of BT as a non-executive director. 3i has pumped £5 million into eSubstance, a company which works with publishers to get book content online. eSubstance raised an additional £2.5 million in its first round of funding. ® For more finacial flatulance visit our Cash Register.
Ex-Nvidia staffer Manu Shrivastava has been accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of profiting illegally from his inside knowledge of the 3D chip company's business. If found guilty of insider trading, Shrivastava could face not only the loss of all profits made by trading in Nvidia stock using his 'specialist' knowledge, but interest on the money and up to three times the amount of his gains in fines. The SEC's action was carried out with the participation of the District Attorney for Northern California. The DA's office will also be proffering criminal charges that could lead to fines of $500,000 and up to 15 year in chokey. The case against Shrivastava centres on allegations that he acquired 100 short-term Nvidia call option contracts after learning that Nvidia had been granted the graphics contract for Microsoft's upcoming X-box games console. Shrivastava paid $30,825 for the options, says the SEC. When the X-box deal was announced, the options became worth $446,000, an increase of well over one thousand per cent, certainly a very fortuitous investment. A little too fortuitous, reckons the SEC, though proving it will be difficult if Shrivastava refuses to fess up. As yet neither the man himself nor his lawyer have commented on the SEC accusations. That said, the DA's investigation may well have revealed a clear connection between Shrivastava and the X-box contract. ®
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has named the date for the commencement of the Recording Industry Association of America's landmark copyright infringement case against MP3 sharing software developer Napster. The trial will begin on 2 October, with both sides making their opening statements, Reuters reports. The Court did not indicate the make-up of the triumvirate of judges that will oversee the trial. The fact that a trial date has been suggests that the appeals court has not agreed to Napster's motion to have the RIAA's injunction against it thrown out completely, which the software company's lawyers requested on 18 August. Their request follows the Court of Appeal's decision to rescind the preliminary injunction imposed upon Napster by District Court Judge Marilyn Patel on 26 July. Instead, the appeals judges ruled, Napster should be allowed to operate, since the case raises issues of precedent that call into question Patel's own ruling. The trial was originally set for 18 August, but Napster lawyers instead filed a brief requesting the RIAA's requested permanent injunction against Napster be denied. The RIAA was given until 8 September to respond. It's not yet clear whether the organisation, which represents many of the US' music companies but primarily the 'big five', has responded, or whether the Appeals Court is simply following standard procedure. Certainly if the Court agrees to Napster's latest request, it pretty much negates the need for a trial. So whether the RIAA has filed or it hasn't, it looks like the Appeals Court, for one, believes the case will come to court. Since the 18 August request, various trade bodies and companies have filed 'friends of the court' briefs placing their own suggestions to the court on record, to bring to the court's attention parallel issues such as the effect of any ruling on listeners' rights to access music; copyright issues in the online world; and potentially overzealous protection for intellectual property. It's issues such as these that provoked the Appeals Court to block Judge Patel's injunction in the first place, and almost certainly why it wishes to see the case come to court, so that precedents for future cases can be set. ® Related Stories Napster goes on offensive Appeals court orders Napster stay of execution Napster to close Napster loses preliminary hearing For more Napster stories, check out The Register's full coverage of the controversy
The BBC's online news service appears to have hit a time warp and is permanently stuck in July. It looks like Auntie has reordered its site and left behind a few pages. Unfortunately, it you visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english, you'll be surprised to discover that Concorde has crashed again, in exactly the same place - what's the likelihood of that eh? That's it really. ®
"EZESURF" - The UK’s longest running freecall Internet provider - Sorry But We Are Now Closed The 9th of September 1999 saw the launch of the UK’s first free Internet Service Provider offering unlimited 24/7 access for a fixed monthly fee. This service was called 08004U. Before the official launch we had in place all of the contracts and services necessary to make 08004U capable of handling several thousands of users. Within days of advertising the launch of 08004U, the service proved so popular we couldn’t cope with the calls. In the worst cases, it took a customer three weeks to get through to customer services. 08004U was designed like any other Internet Service Provider to offer access on a user to modem ratio. However, since nearly all users ended up logging on at the same time, this started to result in many engaged tones and poor quality service. We moved the service to another network provider, a business which promised us that the users’ caller line identification would have to be authorised by us before they would let users online. We didn’t realise until some time later that in fact the network provider had been unable to keep this promise, and was allowing anybody on. We had over 22,000 people using our free access without our approval. After that, we had to suspend the freecall service, and started to arrange new contracts and services for 08004U. Unfortunately, as most 08004U customers will be aware, this didn’t happen quickly. In fact, it took a bit over a week to arrange a new supplier for 08004U; but it then took another eleven weeks to get the service live again. We had to call the re-launched service something new. EzeSurf was launched. Our telecommunications business went to a very reputable company called Energis. In fact, we would recommend them to any company seeking telecommunications with least cost routing, ISDN lines and non-geographical numbers. Energis referred us to Planet Online (now known as Energis Squared). This started the ball rolling again to provide customers with a freecall service. However, there then followed weeks of discussions, during which Planet Online couldn’t give us a firm start date when they would provide the service to us. So, in all honesty, we kept telling our customers we had no start date but were aiming to start our service within weeks. Time passed, then less than a week before Christmas 1999 we received a call from Planet Online asking for a written proposal before they would take things further. So, after having already given them all the necessary templates, we had to spend several days putting this written proposal together. Several days after that, Planet Online agreed to provide the service. But again weeks went by before we received a contract from Planet Online, and still more weeks went by before we finally went live in February 2000. During these times, it was hard for our company to survive; but in fact, for a small Dundee business, we had achieved a great deal. We weren't perfect, but we were getting there. The staff stood behind the company even when, in January, wages were late. Ezesurf was launched in February 2000, as a new sister company to 08004U. We contacted all customers advising them accordingly, and offered them a move to Ezesurf. Some customers accepted this offer, and some opted for refunds. In February we launched a new package for users. In this new package, the cost for freecall was set at £234.99 per annum. However, just weeks after our launch, we had to reduce the price. Yes, Altavista got major free publicity for promising to launch in July 2000, yet there was no mention about Ezesurf already providing the 24/7 freecall access service which Altavista were promising. Yeah, but that’s the way it goes. We approached several newspapers, only to be told it was old news. Anyway, with the promised launch of AltaVista, and other ISPs promising similar services, prices dropped dramatically in the UK market for freecall. So we recalculated, redesigned, and remarketed a new product called 'SurfSaver'. This involved people paying £39.00 to become not just customers but shareholders in Ezesurf, and, as such, be entitled to totally freecall 24/7 internet access. According to a lot of people, £39.00 was a very low price; however, by our calculations, this could be justified. Maybe a slight increase would be needed over the years, although it was never anticipated that this would rise above £75.00. With EzeSurf there was no need to change your telephone number, no need to move telecom providers and above all no advertising software. The service was going very well, and Planet Online (by now renamed as Energis Squared) were providing the customers with a great dial-up service. The problem was their communication (or rather, the lack of it) with us at Ezesurf. In fact, after all was set up and launched, there was no further communication from our so-called account manager at Planet Online (Energis Squared). The Energis account manager was great - he was always there, and would help us quickly and as best he could. In fact, he never got anything for giving Planet Online (Energis Squared) the contract. In contrast, the Planet Online (Energis Squared) account manager got all the credit, but she gave us hardly anything in return. We asked for months for new templates to change the sign-up pages, but to no avail. A Planet Online employee mentioned that there could be the capability for customers to change their cli (caller line identification) online, but when we said to our Planet Online account manager “go ahead and provide this capability”, nothing was done. For this non-management we were charged a project management fee of £1900.00 per month (excl VAT). Anyway, we have now explained how we got from 08004U to Ezesurf. Sure, it was never perfect, but we managed to keep the company together and planned on expansion. However, on a more personal note, it was very hard for one man to manage a growing company, and its finances, as well as cope with some members of staff who seemed to feel that school was out and it was permanent playtime. There are lots of rumours going around about Ezesurf staff problems, but in some cases the reality was worse than the rumours. I’m sorry to say it, but as long as a few months ago we noticed many fraudulent Ezesurf freecall accounts being opened up by members of staff under false names, and official letters being opened by members of staff who were not authorised to do so. This may have meant that invoices which needed paying did not arrive. Also, there appear to have been fraudulent attempts to withdraw funds from the business account. No one but the Managing Director has access to the Ezesurf bank account or receives its statements, so if any person knows the balance of the account (as has been claimed by one member of staff) then that information was obtained illegally. In addition to this, as with most companies, all staff signed an employment agreement with a confidentiality clause; this has been habitually breached. Unfortunately, we had to deduct some extra tax from staff on the advice of the Inland Revenue call centre. But all genuine staff concerns are being sorted, and a tax refund is being issued to those members of staff who are due one. This is something that will be arranged by the next monthly payday. Ezesurf was intended to last for many years, however we have no alternative but to enter Voluntary Liquidation. We are very sorry to our past and present customers and would like to explain why this has happened. Since the launch of Ezesurf maintained on the Energis Squared network, we have been maintaining a service for our users. We realised our customer services were never that brilliant, but regret that the staff got away with a lot more from their manager than they should have. In fact, several of them would quite literally sit and play games and not take your calls. Within the past few weeks we have employed a new customer service manager and re-opened the Dundee office to provide a better customer service. Our intentions were to improve, and to totally focus on serving our customers. It was intended that, once the Dundee customer services office was back up and running, the Dundee based CS manager would work in conjunction with the other manager located in Nottingham, responsible for billing, admin and payroll. The Managing Director was never based in Nottingham. A new advertising campaign and cd roms were on their way. Little did we realise what was about to happen. Around the sixth of August we started to receive communications from Energis Squared. We were informed by telephone that there has been an error at Energis Squared and that we had not been billed for several services. This being 0808-freecall access. We were informed that between February and July 2000 we had accumulated over 1.7 million pounds in charges for freecall access. Now, as with any small company, this was a major amount. Every bill we received from Energis Squared was paid. However, with this unexpectedly large bill suddenly sprung on us, we naturally hoped that Energis Squared would give us the standard credit terms. But no ; just a "payable upon receipt" footer on the Invoice. That’s six months of billing all to be paid at once. Had they given us between 30 and 60 days we could have done something. In fact, what we were going to do was to be honest with the users, explain the current situation, and advise them that in today’s commercial market freecall access is becoming harder to get with a reliable connection. Remember, Ezesurf users hardly ever got an engaged tone; and, if they did, it was usually with their telecom provider that the problem occurred. Despite rumours to the contrary, all we would need to do to save Ezesurf was for each customer to introduce five friends to Ezesurf, and then each month thereafter introduce another friend. This may sound like pyramid marketing, but really it would guarantee the survival of Ezesurf with many satisfied customers for years to come. We were going to change the services offered, and launch a redesigned service for only £55.00, either per annum or one-off. A monthly equivalent package was also in the pipeline. Anyway, with our intentions to save Ezesurf, and with a little help from our users, we could have become the largest working 24/7 freecall Internet provider. In some respects, we could say "Ezesurf, the first UK 24/7 freecall provider to get it right". We can say this because a large majority of our customers have offered to pay more to get EzeSurf back up. For Ezesurf to stay alive we would need at least 55,000 (fifty five thousand) new users. Remember, we actually offer (sorry, offered, past tense) everything that major companies wanted to provide, namely 24/7 freecall access. They get lots of publicity for being about to launch services, which later they say they have launched, and then retract the claim. If we had AltaVista’s mailing list, we really could, within a matter of days, deliver everything they "promised" but failed to deliver. Despite how things have turned out, despite the fact that Energis Squared gave us little or no time to pay such a large accumulated bill, we are sure that if we were to get the number of users previously mentioned we could be back up and running and be here for many years to come. All we would like to say is sorry, we tried to stay alive, but never had the time to pay such a big bill, which including VAT totalled £2,083,351.21 . Remember, Ezesurf could re-open within days if every user was to introduce 5 friends to it. We would love to be there for you and provide you with a better service. It would be great for the public to help us as it will prove to the likes of larger companies that smaller companies can compete as well in this world. So basically, although Planet Online (Energis Squared) had assisted Ezesurf in providing you with a great service, when they (for reasons known only to themselves) allowed only a matter of days to pay their entire bill, or at least a major percentage of it, this led to the demise of Ezesurf. Another thing we would like to stress is that, even during the last few days of Ezesurf, the staff were unaware of this situation, as we had hoped that Ezesurf, Energis and Energis Squared could come to some working arrangement which would provide a solution. The staff received numerous calls from Ezesurf users who said they were willing to pay more to get the service back up and running. Such loyal support from users, in a very competitive market, shows that we could have made it, had the attempt to reach such a working arrangement been successful. You may contact Ezesurf in writing marking your letter for the attention of the appropriate department. If you would like to support Ezesurf to re-launch then mark your letter for the "Attn : Revive Ezesurf", for Customer Services "Attn : Customer Services", for Liquidator "Attn: Liquidator", for Support "Attn Support" and for Distributors contact "Attn: Dist Services". The address for all correspondence is - Ezesurf, 11-19 Buchanan Street, DUNDEE. DD4 6SD. We thank all users, staff and companies which assisted in providing Ezesurf. We would also like to apologise to all staff, users and companies for the closure of Ezesurf. And a big thank you to any reporters that read or publish this letter. Kind Regards Matt PS: This letter has been forwarded to most newspapers and magazines throughout the UK. The heading quoted is "Freecall Internet Providers Can Survive With Or Without FRIACO" if they use the Ezesurf design. Unfortuanately we could not prove it...
GTech - the mischievous tech company behind the UK National Lottery and many others in the US - has axed 175 jobs and announced a restructuring at a cost of $45 million (£31 million). This comes after a very shaky period for the company, and more cuts may be on the way following the backlash from the UK Lottery. The Lottery Commission made a stark criticism of GTech's failure to make known a software bug that meant thousands of people didn't get their full lottery award. Its share price has dropped 16 per cent this month alone. GTech also got rid of its chairman and its chief exec earlier on in the year in the hope of building confidence in the company. That doesn't seem to have worked and it will have to give the ousted execs $11 million in compensation. Doesn't look good, does it? As for the Lottery itself, it has become a case of farce upon farce. The delayed announcement last week of which of the two bidders would win the seven-year licence went pear-shaped when the Commission said neither had been chosen. It then said it wanted further talks with just one bidder - The People's Lottery. Camelot, the incumbent and GTech partner, was left out. Camelot moaned. The Commission said that Camelot wasn't out of the picture (?!) when it was. Then Camelot went to the High Court, saying the Commission's decision wasn't fair. And won (?!). It also offered to buy the UK arm of GTech - presumably to improve the strength of its bid and skirt the Commission. GTech has "agreed in principle" - whatever the hell that means, especially coming from who it's coming from. To recap: we were pretty sure that the Commission's main job was to select which company should run the lottery. Instead, it seems to have gone for the "how best to really cock-up a simple job" approach. What is going on in this country? Decisiveness used to a characteristic of the British. It seems that it is slowly being replaced by stupidity. ® Related Stories So how did GTech ruin Camelot's lottery dreams? Branson wins Lottery licence. Sort of Spinalot to bid for UK lottery
Plucky Taiwanese chipset company today revised upwards its forecast financial results for this year. Its figures have improved, it says, because of high second half demand. Via had forecast its pre-profit figure as NT$3.69 billion but now predicts it will turn in $9.01 billion for the year 2000 to 31 December. The figures are based on net sales forecasts of $NT 30,000,000,000 (US $983,606,000) as compared to the $NT 20,863,138,000 (US $684,037,000). Lots of zeros there. But when we were in Taipei in June, we encountered several major motherboard manufacturers who had either completely, or partly defected from Intel to Via. The forecast is not separated out into different business lines, such as chipsets, CPU and comms parts. ®
Ericsson, Merrill Lynch, Investor AB and Industrivarden are each pumping $75 million into a new VC fund aimed at investing in mobile Internet companies and technologies. The fund will be called Ericsson Venture Partners. Looking squarely at Europe and the US, the fund will have a wide focus - anything from networks to services and apps, as long as it's mobile-based. The announcement has come with the usual CEO drivel - the basic premise of which is that these companies want to get in there early, especially since it is the "rapidly growing mobile Internet segment". It will be based in Stockholm or New York and will up and running either this month or next. ®
The final switchover in UK telephone numbers for several cities is growing very close and a huge number of people are still helplessly unaware of the new codes. Oftel's masterplan of re-re-adjusting telephone codes, after its last major overhaul and cock-up a few years ago, is this time run by third party The Big Number. This outsourcing effort may get Oftel (and previously BT) off the hook but as per usual it has been a disaster and it is the consumers that suffer. Apparently, 20 per cent of people are still using the old numbers for local calls, and nearly a third of those making national calls are tapping in the wrong code. Add this to a figure of 60 per cent of businesses that have yet to change their stationery, and we're looking at an astronomical balls-up. The Federation of Small Businesses is livid, throwing words like "shambles" into the mix. It's right too. It was bad enough getting used to one change, but for Londoners (most of The Reg included), we have suffered 01 going to 071 and 081, to 0171 and 0181 and now to 0207 and 0208. And of course the huge cost of changing signs etc has been picked up by businesses every time. This change is especially significant because the new codes look nothing like the original ones. Of course, point this out to The Big Number and they'll throw some stats the other way: 73 per cent of people calling into London are getting the right number. Well, that's not bloody good enough. Nearly 12 million numbers have been affected by this readjustment and so far the campaign to inform people about it has been sub-standard at best. And no, it's not our fault - we didn't ask to have everyone's numbers changed yet again. Sloppy. ® Here are those changes: Cardiff: 01222 to (029) 20. Final change: happened - 5 August Coventry: 01203 to (024) 76. Final change: happened - 16 August Portsmouth: 01705 to (023) 92. Final change: 2 September Southampton: 01703 to (023) 80. Final change: 2 September Northern Ireland: 01232 to (028) 90. Final change: 16 September London (inner): 0171 to (020) 7. Final change: 14 October London (outer): 0181 to (020) 8. Final change: 14 October Related Stories Oftel urged to postpone number change UK plc – your number's up UK companies face chaos as phone numbers change
Energis is keeping schtum about an outstanding bill for more than £2 million which it sent to Scottish-based ISP, EzeSurf. The bill, for toll-free Net access, effectively forced the Dundee ISP to cease trading. But something doesn't quite add up. Matt Bryson, MD of Dundee-based EzeSurf claims he paid every bill sent to him by Energis. Then out of the blue, so he claims, he gets lumbered with an invoice for £1.7 million (exc VAT). Which seems odd. If Bryson is right, are we to believe Energis only invoices small, young, inexperienced companies on a six-monthly basis? Are we expected to believe it is happy to let small, inexperienced companies run up debts of £2 million before invoicing them? Or is Bryson being economical with the truth? No one at Energis would comment. No one at Energis was prepared to say anything about Bryson's allegation except for this short statement: "We regret the collapse of any company, particularly one as visionary as EzeSurf, but it was clear in this case that our duty to our shareholders took priority over sustaining a company whose business plan had failed to keep pace with the rapidly changing Internet environment." You decide. ® Related Story Confirmed: Ezesurf goes titsup.com
Via and S3 have agreed new terms for the sale of the latter's graphics chip biz in a bid to win the backing of the Taiwanese government. Taiwan's business regulators balked at the scale of the Via-S3 cash and shares deal, which was valued at $377 million and was due to have been completed at the end of June. The regulators considered the deal unwise since it would result in too much cash and stock from a Taiwanese operation (Via) moving to a foreign company (S3). Consequently, they refused to permit the deal to go ahead unless it was amended. Since then Via has been in talks with the Taiwanese government to come up with a plan that will allow the sale to go ahead and still be acceptable to S3. The newly agreed terms will give S3 $208 million in cash plus $60 million in assumed liabilities. Via, meanwhile, will have the right swap the 13 million S3 shares it already owns for the above cash payment and will be able to buy up to two million S3 shares for $20 million, if it so chooses. The previous deal would have seen Via buy three million S3 shares and pay S3 $323 million in cash and stock. Built into the calculation of how much each company gets is the $45 million S3 will save in tax liabilities. Both companies hope the Taiwanese government will now smile on the deal and, like the US regulators before it, allow the sale to go ahead. If so, the takeover will be completed by the end of January 2001 - some six months behind schedule. ® Related Stories S3 admits Taiwan rejected chip sale to Via $377m S3-Via deal won't happen before August - official S3-Via JV hits Taiwanese gov't roadblock Via triples profit forecast
World ExclusiveWorld Exclusive Posh Spice and David Beckham have just announced that they won't go to court to get some 2,000 words removed from a book about them by Andrew Morton (you know, that bloke that did the crap book on Diana). Apparently, Morton was given the information by a former employee of the Beckhams who had signed a non-disclosure agreement. When we heard, we determined to find the words and post them on the Internet, thereby handily ruining the crap publicity machine behind Morton. Using the vulture guile, we found them - and were surprised that the extracts deal with some of the topics that the couple are most famous for. Here are the highlights: The World Cup kicking saga [David was sent off for kicking another player after a tackle. He was promptly demonised by football fans] Posh: You were dead silly, you know, when you kicked that another man. Becks: I know, babe, I know. I just got angry. Posh: Oh, my little soldier [ruffles hair] Becks: Yeah The first solo single and efforts to get it to number one [Posh's first solo single You're out of your mind (at least we think it was her singing - hard to tell) was going head to head with Spiller for the number one slot] Becks: [returning home from town] Hi babe. Posh: Did you get them? Becks: Course babe. Posh: Where are they? Becks: In the boot, babe. [Posh opens car boot to reveal 60,000 copies of Spiller single Groovejet] Posh: You've bought the wrong bloody ones David. Becks: Eh? Posh: You've bought Spiller you idiot. Becks: Well I knew how much you didn't want them in the shops this week so I took every single one out Woolworths, babe. Posh: You stole them? Becks: No, I bought them babe. Don't worry though, I've got enough money. Alex said last week he was going to give me another five grand a week. Posh: Aaaaaarrrrggggghhhh. Becks: Sorry, babe. Christmas dinner at the Beckhams Posh: Merry Christmas Davey, Merry Christmas Brooklyn Becks: Happy Christmas babe. Nice one Brooklyn Brooklyn: Ga ga. Posh: What d'you get me? What d'you get me? Becks: Under the tree, babe. [Rushes off, grabs present, comes back and opens it] Posh: What the hell is this? Becks: A guitar, babe. Posh: What the 'ell do I want wiv a guitar? Becks: Well you said you was a musician, babe. And the man in the shop said a guitar was an instrument. Posh: David! I don't play music. I pout. Becks: Oh. Posh: Do you want to see what I got you? Becks: Yeah Posh: I've got you a sarong from Gucci, a white T-shirt from Prada, a hat from Dolce&Gabanna, a jumper from Versace, a pair of pants from Ralph Lauren... [five minutes later]... a scarf from Kenzo, another sarong from Prada [etc etc]. Their first ever argument [Sat watching a recording of that morning's This Morning with Richard and Judy] Posh: This is the best bit. Becks: I've already seen it twice, babe. Posh: Look at this bit. Becks: Babe, I'm hungry, you want some food? Posh: Not now Davey Becks: C'mon babe, you haven't eaten for three weeks and the next premiere's not til next month. Posh: Okay, what would you like. Becks: How about an Indian, babe? Posh: What about Thai? Becks: Nah, I like Indian. Posh: Thai, Davey? Becks: I like Indian, babe. Posh: But I fancy a bit of Thai. Becks: Indian, babe. Posh: But I wanny wanny want Thai Becks: Okay, we'll have Thai, babe.
2CPU.com has the first benchmarks of Intel's upcoming Pentium 4 aka Willamette. The most startling numbers are what can only be described as phenomenal memory performance from the Rambus memory in the test system. SiSoft Sandra memory benchmarks show the P4 delivering an ALU memory bandwidth of 1407 Mb/sec, and an FPU figure of 1520 Mb/sec. By comparison a 1GHz PIII looks very ordinary with 325 and 345Mb/sec respectively. We'd advise a degree of caution here as this is only one benchmark, but if Rambus can really deliver this kind of performance, maybe we should start liking it a bit more. ® Related story Pentium 4 performance puzzle begins
VNU's IT paper of record, Computing, has lost its number two. The mag's second in command Gary Flood has resigned after failing to negotiate a better job for himself - which was probably the job belonging to Computing chief Douglas Hayward, the technology press's answer to Harold Evans. Flood is off to investor web site EO. But VNU will be happy they've got an extra desk. The company is in the process of squeezing the ex-Ziff Davies employees into Castle Despair. ® Unrelated Stories Dunblane - the author speaks Dunblane - the plot thickens
We get regular updates on stories by PA's news tart Ananova. Don't know why because stories usually arrive about two hours after we've written them, but even we were amazed when the site decided to entice us by repeatedly sending the same stories, often days apart. Ananova, for example, was so excited about songs being downloaded for mobile phone rings that it sent us the story a few days ago. Then resent it today. Then resent a differently worded version. Then resent the first version again. And still we weren't interested. It is obviously also overjoyed that Halifax is dishing up some cheap anti-virus software to Net banking clients, because it told us so three times. We don't know whether this is a technical fault going on here or whether it's getting a per-email fee, making the action of filling up people's inboxes with junk a worthwhile business plan. We wonder whether this could be construed as spam. PS It's done it again! Stop sending us emails! We don't like the story. We won't run it. Go away! ®
Here's another indicator to how fast the Internet is growing. The London Internet Exchange (Linx) has reported traffic levels are busting 3Gbps at peak times. Linx states it is the largest exchange point in Europe. Traffic peaks at around 2pm BST when the US starts coming on line. Linx broke the one Gbps barrier just before the end of 1999. And though the rule of thumb is usually a doubling of traffic every 100 days Linx has been slightly cautious and just predicts it will break 5Gbps by the end of 2000. ® Related Stories M$ gets into LINX LINX denies ISP witch-hunt
Nortel Networks has unveiled some new fibre technology which is claims as a breakthrough and will let it extract some tasty revenues. Demonstrating its Managed Wavelength Services at the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference in the US, Nortel said it could now control bandwidth more efficiently - with corresponding positive effects on charging customers. "It's all about delivering speed, reliability, quality and profitability to our customers," said president of Nortel's optical arm Don Smith - before launching into a confusing explanation as to how it worked. "And we can do this by selling hair-thin strands of fibre or individual colours of light." ZDNet US seemed to think this meant it could now control every fibre optic, but (and we're no fibre experts here) we always figured this could be done anyway - you've got to have a light at the end of it, so controlling it is just a matter of an accurate system. What is more likely is that Nortel has worked out a more exact method of picking out different signals sent on the same line at the same time. Colours (just different wavelengths) would let you do just this. Unfortunately, we couldn't get anyone state-side to pick up the phone before press time. Anyway, that aside, this system is good news. What it means it that extra capacity can be called up far more effectively and quicker than before - something that ISPs are going to be particularly happy about. Nortel's happy, customers are happy, everybody's happy. ®