19th > September > 2000 Archive

Auction Web site offers $25,000 hacker bounty

On-line auction outfit Bidbay is offering a $25,000 bounty for information leading to the conviction of malicious intruders who shut down their operation intermittently for two days starting 7 September, rendering service unavailable to users. The hacking underground is sure to resent the idea of offering financial incentives to rat on one's buds, but the company is unapologetic. "Our CEO feels that if you start talking to people's pocket books, you're more likely to get a response," Bidbay spokesman Tim Allison told The Register. "He takes it kind of personally when people mess with our site," Allison added. The company believes it was not the ultimate target in the attack, but rather that the intruders broke in to commandeer Bidbay's gear for attacks on other targets. An aggressive port-scan is what rendered the service unavailable, gobbling up "over ninety megs of bandwidth on one server alone," a member of the engineering crew told us. The company traced the attack back to a porno site, which it declined to name, which also came under attack; but the use of numerous intermediate machines made it impossible to pinpoint the true origin. As the trail went cold, Bidbay bit the bullet, passed the hack logs on to the FBI, backed up their data, re-formatted and started fresh. Perhaps this explains why there is such a modest amount of merchandise offered on the site, and why there should be so little bidding activity. With a few exceptions, categories advertised with fifty items often have one or none, and ones claiming over a hunderd often have ten or twenty. This could be a problem related to the hack, of course. Another explanation could be that the hacking bounty is a bid for publicity in the guise of news. We don't know, but it wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened. Bounty hunters may e-mail Bidbay CEO George Tannous or ring 1-877-424-3229. The company says that all information offered will remain confidential. ®
Thomas C Greene, 19 Sep 2000

AOL UK offers 24/7 flat fee Net access

After months of speculation AOL UK has finally announced it is to offer flat-fee 24/7 unmetered access to the Net. The new service - based on Flat Rate Internet Access Call Origination (FRIACO) - will cost just £14.99 a month and includes all subscription and Internet telephone costs, together with unlimited freephone member support. In a bid to ensure that the service is not deluged with punters scrambling over themselves to get hooked up AOL Flat Rate will be rolled out to existing members first. Those who have been with the service provider the longest have already received their invitation to join the new unmetered service. In a statement AOL UK MD, Karen Thomson, said: "Our ground-breaking new unmetered price plan is a watershed event for consumers that will transform the interactive medium into a true mass-market phenomenon in the UK. "We promised more than a year ago that we would fight to 'Stop The Clock' of metered Internet telephone costs charged by the minute "AOL Flat Rate reflects a fair, responsible and realistic approach to unmetered access..." she said. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Sep 2000

DRAM headaches for bulk buyers

DRAM prices have dropped this month, thwarting the efforts of PC builders and brokers that upped stock levels in anticipation of September price rises. Since the beginning of September, the average price of a 64MB PC 100 Maj/3rd Dimm has fallen in Asia from $68 ($8.25 per DRAM) to $61 ($7.35 per DRAM), according to research by Memory Corp Group. PC133 modules are almost the same price. Europe is in a pretty similar situation, with only the strong pound lessening the impact. Memory Corp has tried to analyse the amount of stock in the market. According to their research, almost everyone in the memory sector - including small and big PC builders, PC retailers, dealers, resellers and brokers - increased their stock in anticipation of September price rises and indicate they have an extra two to three weeks' stockholding. Meanwhile, all the DRAM manufacturers reckon they are still on tight allocation of parts and cannot see supply improving until the start of next year. Regarding predictions for the run-up to Christmas - as ever, it's like trying to get blood out of a stone. "All betting is off ", according to Memory Corp marketing manager Dave Flack. "The market could swing left, right or just dribble along." But one thing is certain - the money will lie in speciality memories such as Rambus and DDR etc, which will be in tight supply and keep good prices and margins, said Flack. Also, the supply of original modules will remain "patchy", so offering good profit opportunities to bigger PC builders. "My personal view is that there is currently enough generic stock about to last beyond Xmas (currently priced at $7.60-$8.00) and that we will see continued price falls below $7/DRAM to possibly nearer $6/DRAM," added Flack. "If this does happen it will be yet another blow to the DRAM resellers who were all hoping for a September salvation to end their cash and profit problems." So there could be headaches for many in the industry, who have gone long on risk and bought big, according to Flack. His parting words were: "Will DRAM Prices rise before Christmas???...Will my hair grow back???" ® Falling DRAM prices dent Winbond Rambus prices drop like pants DRAM sales - it's quiet out there
Linda Harrison, 19 Sep 2000

Intel, AMD get DDR 266 support

Via Technical ForumVia Technical Forum A senior executive at Micron today forecast that a spate of double data rate (DDR) products were set to hit the market in the next three months. Micron, we must remember, as well as being in litigation with Rambus Ink over alleged patent infringement on synchronous DRAM and DDR memory, is also a Rambus licensee. But Brett Williams, senior marketing manager at Micron in the US, made perhaps the clearest statement we've yet heard on the work that is not only in progress on DDR but on that which is already complete. Speaking on the eve of Via's Technology Forum 2000, Williams, who managed not to utter the Rambus word during his presentation, nevertheless said the DDR platform was en route for proliferation. He said that in the fourth quarter (October to December inclusive?), the market will see numerous vendors rolling out DDR solutions. Williams said those would include not just PC vendors, but networking and consumer companies too. Price would be the factor that influence the market most, he said, while the memory manufacturers, nearly all of which were developing DDR solutions, had agreed on form factors and layouts to diminish any compatibility problems that might occur. Micron has already qualified its 64Mbit DDR solution, while its 128Mbit solution would be qualified by the end of September, and its 256Mbit samples would do so by year end, he said. The DDR infrastructure was also in place, said Williams, including support from socket manufacturers, BIOS makers, and the others involved in pushing the solution. "With DDR, Jedec (the memory standards body) set out an entire datasheet and all designs are manufactured that datasheet," he said. "SO-DIMMs [there must be a joke here somewhere, Ed] have also been finalised by the taskforce," he said. Williams said the goals of DDR included the ability to give double the bandwidth with less power. Those goals have been achieved and DDR is ready, he said, not only from the memory vendors but from the other parties including the core logic vendors. It all seems to add up to something, sure enough. As we reported over the weekend, Intel itself has teams of third parties independently evaluating the DDR memory platform. Via will definitely be doing multiple DDR chipsets, and of course, AMD is likely to do the same. In fact, Via formally announced its support of DDR 266 at a press conference hosted by CEO Wen-Chi Chen today, and said it would implement the memory in the Apollo Pro 266 and Apollo KT 266 chipsets -- which support Intel's Socket 270 and AMD's Socket A. Wen-Chi claimed: "Via is enabling a rapid industry wide transition to DDR memory on both the leading processor platforms." The Via Technology Forum starts tomorrow and La Reg will be here to listen to the different supporting parties, before it moves to Tokyo, Beijing, and Prague, before turning up just in time for the Oktoberfest in Munich. ®
Mike Magee, 19 Sep 2000

Kingston takes over the World

Kingston Technology is to become the exclusive supplier of memory to Toshiba worldwide. The memory behemoth today signed a deal with Toshiba in Tokyo, adding to existing agreements in Europe and the US. A Kingston spokesperson said the deal was exclusive. Under the terms of the agreements, Kingston will supply Toshiba-badged PC66, PC100 and SODIMM memory. Kingston will work with Toshiba Japan's engineers to develop memory modules that Toshiba will qualify and evaluate. "Kingston Technology and Toshiba's current partnership in North America and Europe attests that a global relationship will prove successful," claimed John Tu, president and co-founder of Kingston. ®
Andrew Thomas, 19 Sep 2000

AOL UK saves e-Britain

Today's announcement by AOL UK that it is to offer unmetered Net access has not come too soon for e-Britain. Consumer confidence in ISPs has faded fast as more and more service providers pull out of the unmetered marketplace, go titsup.com or simply fail to deliver a service of any merit. AOL UK - which has its knockers - could turn the tide of advancing cynicism among punters and help Britain's ISPs regain some of the credibility that has been lost, if it can deliver quality 24/7 unmetered Net access. In light of the antics of AltaVista, LineOne, CallNet and others, that's a big "if". Indeed, cynics would say that £14.99 a month for subscription, Internet telephone costs and unlimited freephone member support is simply too good to be true. According to Matt Peacock, director of corporate communications for AOL in the UK, this just isn't the case. He claims that there has been a dramatic shift in the Net industry - a million miles away from the false start played out by the likes of AltaVista. According to Peacock, the reason AOL UK can offer unmetered Net access is because its telco suppliers now have access to a genuine wholesale FRIACO (Flat Rate Internet Access Call Origination) product from BT. Unlike FRIACO Hybrid - which is part metered and part unmetered - this product is fully unmetered. Therefore, the costs to telcos and ISPs (and ultimately consumers) are capped. However, FRIACO is not available nation-wide - not yet anyway. Even so, AOL says it will not discriminate against those people who live in areas not served by a FRIACO product. "There are no exclusions," said Peacock. "We have a mixture of carriers providing a mix of solutions." So either AOL UK has some interesting agreements in place with its suppliers - or it is prepared to take a hit where necessary to grow its business. Sound too good to be true? We'll have to wait and see. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Sep 2000

MS trial judge points finger of blame at US states

Judge Richard Posner, who ran the Microsoft case mediation talks until they failed earlier this year, has paid-out another snippet for trial whodunnit addicts. In the immediate aftermath of the breakdown of talks in April Posner denounced the "leaking and spinning" that surrounded them, and said that was his final word. But now he observes that the US states' role in antitrust cases should be limited. In his April statement Posner didn't say who was to blame for leaking misleading information, but as we noted at the time, although he thanked both the DoJ and Microsoft for "professionalism," he didn't mention the gaggle of States' attorneys general. These officials have been largely surplus to requirements during trial proceedings, hanging around on the fringes while the DoJ's legal shock troops took the lead, and seizing the odd mike when they could. It's surely not unreasonable to therefore to view Posner's latest observations as loaded. He'd like to see the US states stopped from bringing antitrust suits except in highly restricted areas. If for example there had been price fixing on goods bought by a state, an action could go ahead. More nebulous stuff like taking action on behalf of consumers allegedly ripped off by companies, he would seem to think fits better under the federal hat. It's probably not a bad point. Posner argues that the states don't have the resources to mount antitrust suits, but that's probably putting it charitably. He thinks they end up taking a free ride on the back of federal cases (a pretty clear comment on what he thinks has happened in the Microsoft case), and he also seems to deplore the European Union and ambulance-chasing class actions piling in after the event. The EU angle is of course more complicated than that; Brussels has been tinkering around the edges for some years now, and rather than it being a case of 'me too,' the reason Europe appears to be bringing up the rear is because of the demarcation lines drawn between EU and US antitrust authorities. The US is lead member on Microsoft, for the moment. But as far as the rest of it is concerned, you can see where Posner's coming from. The DoJ team in the Microsoft case was an expensive, efficient class act, while other antitrust actions have looked a lot more rickety. Bristol and Intergraph (against Intel, of course) went down in flames, while Microsoft has so far been pretty successful in zapping the class actions. Getting a result is harder and more expensive than you might think, and maybe the current situation does little more than take up time, and line lawyers' pockets. ® Related story: Judge attacks 'eaking and spinning' in MS deal talks
John Lettice, 19 Sep 2000

Amazon chooses AOL over Yahoo!

Amazon is ending its three-year book marketing deal with Yahoo! and is now just concentrating on working with rival AOL. The bookseller said it decided in spring that it would go with one or other of the portals. Yahoo! now has a book relationship with BarnesandNoble.com. As both Yahoo! and AOL charge very high fees for tenancy on their networks the announcement is seen as a cost cutting exercise by Amazon, which has a cumulative loss of $1.5 billion for the last six years. Intelligent Finance, the Internet and telephone bank from the Halifax, is within days of launching according to the Daily Mail. The bank failed to launch in July and August due to systems trouble. Redbus Interhouse plc is looking to raise around £82 million, after expenses, to fund the planned capital expenditure involved with its accelerated Neutral Internet Colocation Facility roll-out programme and associated working capital - that's Internet hotels to you and me. It plans to have 13 Net hotels open by the end of 2001, and 21 by the end of 2002. Redbus Interhouse currently has nine sites which are either in operation or just about to open. Psion has won shareholder approval to acquire Teklogix International Inc for Canadian $225 million in cash, and the issue of 5,363,368 Psion exchangeable shares and 12,106,606 new Psion ordinary shares. Details of the deal were announced in July. Erstwhile dotcom-ers ClickMango, now in liquidation, are trying to get as much cash back as possible. This extends to attempts to sell their furniture and office equipment off to another Internet start-up as a whole package. The company is organising this itself as it is unimpressed with online disposal services. By the piece de resistance, as pointed out by the FT has to be the company's inflatable boardroom. It was commissioned for £5,000 but the company says it will accept a lower offer. In a spasm of humour, the financial paper suggests that the blow up pink plastic could be sold to Charles Saatchi as a "poignant symbol of Internet hot air." Nice one. ® For more financial flim-flam visit Cash Register.
Team Register, 19 Sep 2000

Toshiba to start peddling online music

Toshiba is getting into the online music business and will start selling music for download over the Internet next year. The company is planning a web site to launch early next year to market the music. Each download will cost 350 yen, or around $3.25. The music download market in Japan is beginning to hot up with major players getting in on the act. Toshiba is in fact something of a late entrant, Sony set up an online venture earlier this year with links to ten entertainment and recording sites. Register Factoid: Apparently Toshiba actually has a record label (who knew?), a joint venture with EMI, which it is planning to merge with Time Warner Music Japan. Toshiba itself acknowledges that its own signings will not be enough to attract punters to download music from its site. This is one of the major reasons behind its planned merger with Time Warner. The deal may yet not go through. If the European Commission's anti trust regulators take exception to a deal between Time Warner and EMI they could block the move. ® Related Stories Smashing Pumpkins' MP3 tells label to fornicate off MP3.com seeks to placate Universal Online music sales to hit $5.4bn by 2005 EMI digital music service to debut next week Sony Net plans to proceed with ISP launch
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2000

Hexus marks the spot for Overclockers UK

Back in April we said the UK overclocking sector was growing apace and growing up, citing Stoke-based Overclockers UK (OcUK) as an example of this. Looks like we backed a winner - which is nice. OcUK, as well as consolidating its position as top dog in the UK overclocked kit reseller market, has now announced that it has teamed up with news 'n' reviews site Hexus. It's not the sort of news that's going to set the world on fire, but we like to hear about successes in the UK hardware sector. Apart from which we think Dave Ross, Hexus' main man, is a top geezer and Mark Proudfoot - OcUK's MD - is a thoroughly nice chap too. In essence the deal between the two means that Hexus will review all the latest kit that OcUK has for sale, which should mean that if you're looking for someone else's opinion on something you're planning to buy from OcUK you won't have to look too far. We're not entirely sure what will happen if ever Hexus spots a three-legged pony for sale on OcUK, it could put an interesting spin on the new relationship, but we're sure OcUK knows its runners and riders well enough to never steer its punters toward a wrong 'un. OcUK was the first place to publish a review of the Abit KA7 mobo, and reckons that it can regularly beat the rest of the pack when it comes to getting hold of new products on early release. Something which could boost Hexus' position in the hardware review site sector. ® See also: UK overclockers turn up the heat
Sean Fleming, 19 Sep 2000

Blind leading the dumb: the local loop fiasco

It's hard to know where to begin. Oftel is as effective as a monopode in the Premier league. In fact it is a byword for not only not doing your job but also failing to recognise what your job entails. Let's get that out the way first. This is about the local loop, its unbundling and the process' total mishandling from start to finish. The local loop is basically what gives BT its continuing monopoly in the UK. BT will do anything to hold onto it and frequently does. But, after huge, consistent and significant pressure put on flawed watchdog Oftel, it was decided that the loops should be opened up to competitors. Then came all the arguments about when BT should do it. Oftel, even when criticised by the European Union itself, continued to believe its best friend's lies and said that it just wasn't possible until July 2001. Which, handily, is just when BT will have an alternative high-capacity network in place. Oftel tried to abate some strong critics by saying it would obviously unbundle some loops before then. More pressure and finally the mechanism to open the loops is revealed: and absolutely no one, including Oftel itself, knows how the hell it works. If this isn't Kafkaesque we don't know what is. As we reported on Thursday (and was subsequently reported by the BBC the day after (a funny pattern that's emerged this year)), the decision as to who gets in the first 360 exchanges will be made by the Single Transferable Vote system. What's that you ask? Well, we've got some form of explanation which we'll all have to made do with until the complaints start pouring in. We'll put it further down. The system has already caused one bidder to pull out in disgust (RSL - the fourth largest international carrier in the UK - a US Nasdaq company, which has said Oftel is suffocating UK Internet growth), and looks like it will ruin other companies' carefully laid plans. But not only that, the list of the first 360 exchanges to be opened have been chosen because "they are the exchanges where we are confident all the bidders will be able to get into the exchange" (Oftel). What this means in reality is that they will be the more remote exchanges in the UK. Oftel won't confirm this yet - an announcement is coming very soon apparently. The implication is that the most important exchanges - London, Birmingham, Manchester etc - won't be opened up until the end of the July deadline. The other question is: why isn't there enough room in exchanges for a range of operators? Well, for one, because BT has made no effort whatsoever to make any room, and secondly, because Oftel has done bugger all about it. We asked Oftel who was going to pay for exchange expansion and it didn't have a clue - it seems likely that it hadn't even thought about it. What on earth is going on? In any other industry, this would be gross professional misconduct. So what do we have? Nothing. Nothing at all - apart from the usual fat, lazy incumbent supplier and the sleeping, ineffectual and criminally inept watchdog. We've spent so long banging our head against the wall that we feel a little dizzy and need to have a sit down. That weak explanation of the single transferable vote Okay, this is the best we've got so far. All those operators that wish to bid for entry into local loops will tell third party Electoral Reform Services (ERS) which loops it wants to be in and the order in which they most want them i.e. if a company wants its equipment in 400 exchanges but most wants to be in the main Manchester exchange it will list Manchester main as number one, Manchester sub as number two etc etc. ERS will then collate all this information from different operators together and send it to Oftel anonymously i.e. Oftel will receive lists of Company A, Company B etc. Oftel will then decide who gets what. In the event of a complete tie (christ knows what that entails), who wins will be decided by - get this - the roll of a die. Now it doesn't take a genius to see an entire patchwork of holes in this insane system. It is also another great example of how Oftel offloads all the hard work onto companies rather than bother to work it out by itself. It is a flawed, lazy, sixth-form approach to a very important issue and we're depressed that we're not surprised. It simply won't work and it is us, the consumers, that will ultimately suffer. Can no one rid us of this troublesome watchdog? ® Related Stories UK telcos in game of chance Oftel is a joke (with a crap punchline)
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Sep 2000

SupaNet savages Downing Street

The British Government's wired credentials took another rib-cracking blow to the midriff today after ISP, SupaNet, claimed Downing Street wouldn't accept letters to the Prime Minister via email. This sorry state of affairs has been confirmed by a Downing Street spokesman who said that there simply wasn't the staff or resources to handle correspondence by email. The spokesman added that such a service would be up-and-running "in the near future". SupaNet decided to take a pop at the Government after being unable to pass on the opinions and views of its punters wishing to voice their opinion about the fuel crisis. The ISP tried to send the emails to Downing Street but received the following notification instead: "After consulting with the department that deals with correspondence to the Prime Minister they inform me it is policy that all the correspondence should be sent in hard form to Number 10. "As I mentioned to you we are unable at present to deal with any enquiries via e-mail due to lack of resources. The address is, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA." Or dovecote 10a if you're sending it by carrier pigeon. ® Related Stories The UK fuel crisis: all thanks to the Internet
Tim Richardson, 19 Sep 2000

Sun launches cell phone Java standard

Sun has developed a standard for putting its Java software onto mobile phones. Called mobile information device, or more concisely MID profile, the standard promises to bring yet more stuff to the titchy screen of your mobile phone. Did you know that you needed personalised stock quotes that can display graphs and give purchase or sell alerts delivered to your mobile? Well, have no fear for you shall have them. Other Java enabled services planned for your phone include up to the minute weather, restaurant locations, traffic reports, as well as downloadable games. The idea behind the technology is that Java allows software to run on different devices without having to be specifically tailored for each one. However, in the past it hasn't worked on smaller, low memory devices. Sun has had to wait for screens to get bigger and processors to get faster before the pared down version would work on gadgety things. Sun is touting this as the next step for consumers, away from text based static content, to properly interactive services. It is also being described as the first indication that the technology is shuffling into the real world, and out of the shadows of white-paperdom. The MID profile will be used in cellphones from Motorola, Nokia, LG Electronics, Nextel and NTT DoCoMo, and handhelds from Research in Motion. Sun has also lined up a whole host of telcos to provide back-end services for the MID profile phones. The MID profile standard is based on Java 2 Micro Edition. Other companies that plan to introduce MID profile enabled devices include Sony, Symbian, Matsushita, Siemens and NEC. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2000

Sun buys Linux server appliance specialist Cobalt for $2bn

Sun is to buy server appliance specialist Cobalt Networks in a stock swap worth approximately $2 billion. Cobalt's roots are in Linux/MIPS small server appliances for small offices and Web sites, and as one of its products is the Qube, presumably rights to rattle lawyers at Apple and Mr Jobs will come with the acquisition. The serious point of the deal from Sun's point of view, however, is that Cobalt's target market and Linux base is an extremely good fit. Sun doesn't have a great deal of trouble at the top end of the server market, but is still trying to figure out ways to deal with Linux and the lower end. According to Sun president and CEO Ed Zander Sun is buying Cobalt "to establish ourselves in low-end server appliances and immediately jump into the marketplace with a proven, world-class product offering... We think the demand for these high-volume, turnkey devices will explode in the next couple of years. Cobalt is our bet for the future." Which is quite a serious ambition to have for small but perfectly-formed Cobalt. Cobalt is to become Sun's server appliance business unit, within the Network Service Provider organisation. ® Related stories: Cobalt drops MIPS for x86 Gateway opts for MIPS-Linux for Web server offering - and whatever happened to that deal?
John Lettice, 19 Sep 2000

ISP rating scheme launched by NSI and Arthur Andersen

Domain name giant Network Solutions and Arthur Andersen will offer their own personal assessment of the performance of ISPs in Europe. The rating system will adhere to strict criteria which will allow people to find out which ISPs are better than others. The details of Swedish ISPs have just been announced; British Net users will have to wait until next week to find out which service providers come up to scratch. According to the FT ISPs will have to pay $20,000 a year for someone to tell them if they're crap or not. One ISP, who asked to remain anonymous, said he would willingly pay double that amount for someone to tell him how bad his business was. Another ISP wasn't so sure. "I'm not sure," he said. "I'll have to think about it." Oh, and if an ISP pays the $20,000 and fails the assessment, it can opt to be omitted from the list of poor performers. The Romanian weightlifting team - which avoided a drugs ban at the Olympics by coughing up $50,000 - is believed to support this service. Someone's definitely involved in a clean and jerk somewhere. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Sep 2000

HWRoundup Dead Athlons and how to build an MP3 box

CPU Review sends out a bittersweet warning to all Athlon users out there. The hardware community seems to adhere to the principle that if you gotta go, at least let the next guy know what killed you. Or your CPU, in this case. If you would like to avoid a dead Athlon, this is a must read. Sharky takes a peek at a 32MB Radeon, which it puts through the same battery of tests as it did the 64MB version. And then, for your edutainment (sorry, I really am), they have done a "contrast and compare" of synchronous and asynchronous overclocking. Go here for more details. The good doctor Tom strikes again with a round up of ten mainboards on his site. AMD comes out of this one smelling of roses, and I quote: "Platforms with VIA's KT133 chipset are now more cost effective than boards for Intel processors. Currently the Duron offers the best price/performance ratio. Additionally, the Athlon is the winner of the performance competition." I think that kind of says it all really. Get yerselves over there and have a read. The newly dot-netted Hexus has taken a look at Arctic Silver. Apparently this stuff is very useful. Having scanned the article, I must however take issue with the notion that air is only good for breathing. I have found it useful in combustion exercises too, and thought I ought to mention that. But enough of my arsonist tendencies, and over to Hexus. Game PC gets down and dirty, or possibly not, with Gigabyte's new 6VDX7 motherboard, a dual-flip chip Pentium III board based on VIA's Apollo Pro 133A. Did that get your attention? Good. Follow the yellow link road to the emerald city that is a head to head with MSI's 694D Pro dual processor board. Maximum PC has had a bit of a think about it, and come up with an 11 step plan to build an MP3 box. You never know when you might need one of these things, so if you feel like cutting and keeping, this is where to go. ® And we barely scratched the surface today, so after you're done here, check out our archives.
Lucy Sherriff, 19 Sep 2000

Nortel VP and CTO waxes lyrical on 4G mobiles

The keynote at this year's Rawcon 2000 conference (Radio & Wireless Conference) was given by top Nortel Networks man Al Javed who promptly leapt in with details about 4G mobile networks. Like the man who starts shouting at 9am the morning after a big party, Javed started telling those assembled about how amazing 4G was going to be. Of course, it's not his job to worry about the stilted "entry" of 3G phones into our current market - he's a boffin and his job is to look to the future and give CEOs something to inspire their troops with at the next corporate get-together. So how does he see it? Well, as a combination of existing mobile technology tied in with TV modulation technology (and if you know about Fourier transforms that should be enough for you. If you don't, you don't want to know, trust us). He doesn't quite explain where all the bandwidth is going to come from, but never mind because we are talking about 10Mbps on your mobile. Eh? That's right, 10Mbps on your phone/PDA. That's many many times faster than even you lucky bastards in the States get on a landline. What on earth Javed thinks we're going to do with this speed is anyone's guess but if the man can pull it off, who cares? So there you go folks - the future. Amazing, ain't it? ® Related Link rawcon.org
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Sep 2000

Beta 1 not out yet, but MS sets April date for Whistler gold code

Whistler's status as a Win2k point release looks even more assured, if the latest secret files to fall into the clutches of Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet are to be believed. Actually they're not anything like as good as the leaks she used to get (did somebody leave?), but it does seem highly significant that Microsoft has already set a date for the software to go gold - April 18, 2001. As we've remarked in the past, Microsoft develops two kinds of operating systems; big, ambitious monsters that overshoot the target ship date by years, and simple service pack type efforts whose launch dates can easily be shifted around so they don't interfere with Bill Gates' prior dinner engagements. Windows 95, NT and 2k are the first kind, all subsequent versions of Win9x the second. Whistler's significance is that it'll be the first OS to use the Win2k code as a base for 'annual refresh' approach we've seen with Win98, 98SE and WinME. Mary Jo reckons it's unlikely MS will hit the target date, but given the nature of the project we reckon it'll be difficult to miss it by much. Other significant dates from the leak are October 11 for beta 1, and December 6 for beta 2. Last month Microsoft started recruiting for the October beta, and in the past few days it has asked WinME testers if they'd like to participate. ® Related item: ZDNet: Delivery date set for next Windows
John Lettice, 19 Sep 2000

Intel tight-lipped on support forum closures

Intel's decision to close its processor and motherboard support forums Intel signs death warrant for support forums looks to be pretty irrevocable. Following our earlier stories (see below), the Intel Pentium III processor and mobo forums have been flooded with messages from users complaining, whining, threatening and just plain flaming about Chipzilla's plan to replace the popular forums with email support. We asked to speak to the Intel Insider who had made the closure decision, but were today told that they were unavailable for comment. "We have made these changes to ultimately increase customer support capabilities based on real experience we have gained from the bulletin board approach, there is nothing further to add," replied an Intel Europe representative. So that's it then. We'll never even find out who the bright spark was who made this terrific decision. Or will we? The forum closure will begin on September 27 by moving to read-only for two weeks, then closing down completely on October 11, 2000. Check it out while you still can here ® Related stories Intel signs death warrant for support forums Intel backtracks on support forum closures Intel shuts stacks of web forums Intel slams door on mobo support
Andrew Thomas, 19 Sep 2000

Net server soiree

Here's a hat-trick of network server releases from yesterday - with a trio of vendors vying for a place in the forecasted $16 billion market. Dell is pitching itself against Cisco with its first ever load balancing servers. There are three PowerApp.Big-IP models and these cost from $7,900 to $30,500. The machines are designed to catch Net traffic on e-commerce Websites and divide the work between several back-end servers. They use software from load balancing specialists F5 Networks. California-based CacheFlow's latest devices are aimed at speeding up information delivery for high-traffic Websites. According to the press release: "The CacheFlow Server Accelerator family enables web sites to serve five to ten times more content through existing server and network infrastructure and reduces user response times by 50-80 per cent". The servers hold content in memory instead of on the hard disk. The Server Accelerator line costs between $9,995 for the entry-level 700 series to $84,995 for the high-end 5725. Meanwhile Maxtor, traditionally in the less lucrative hard disk manufacturer field, has released its $4,499 MaxAttach NAS 4000 server. It can store up to 320GB of data, is just 1.75 inches tall and is compatible with Windows, Linux or Unix, the company said. The device has four hard disks, and is designed to be idiotproof. It mirrors data on each of the two pairs of hard disks to protect data, has separate power supplies in case one fails, and if the device breaks Maxtor promises to send a replacement within two days. All these server appliances are designed to be bolted into racks. According to Merrill Lynch, the server appliances market will be worth $16 billion in 2004, and $12 Billion according to figures by IDC. ® Related Stories HP wants to spank you with its Superdome Server vendors team to promote Linux in Japan
Linda Harrison, 19 Sep 2000

Botzilla sinking fangs into second MSNBC Windows poll?

Luckless online news organisation MSNBC is showing every sign of having been pranged by poll-packing twice in the one week, and on the one page. We do feel slightly sorry for the loves, who're clearly not themselves fixing polls in Microsoft's favour, but if you run meaningless polls as entertainment in order to get hits, you do bear a certain amount of responsibility for the consequences. Picking up the story from where we left off yesterday, we can report that MSNBC has confirmed that its poll on which was the best operating system has fallen victim to "what appeared to be electronic ballot stuffing." MSNBC therefore took the poll down, and put up a notice which confirmed that "MSNBC Live Votes are not scientifically valid surveys." Course they're not - they're a bit of a laugh, and arguably they depend on word getting round about them, and the various interest groups all piling into the site in order to vote for their favourite. Linux Today encouraged that with the OS vote initially, and then apparently some huge, brutal, psychotic bot was unleashed in the Microsoft interest. The fact that it did so in such an obvious, over the top and unsubtle manner does tend to make one recall the business methods of certain top Redmond execs, but more likely it was just some nutter. Ah, but what happens if you take away Botzilla's red meat? Well, there's another poll on the page, isn't there? It's actually attached to a perfectly rational article which by now must have generated more traffic than anything else MSNBC has done this year (so look on the bright side, guys), and it wants to know if you're going to buy Windows ME. The article, very sensibly, doesn't reckon WinME is a worthwhile upgrade, and yesterday the poll results reflected this to the tune of 91 per cent against buying it. Today, at time of writing, 50 per cent of votes had gone in favour of buying WinME. That's quite a turnaround, in under 24 hours, for a poll that's been going for nigh on a week. We fear another MSNBC poll is about to bite the dust... Jonathan Dube, technology editor of MSNBC, contacted us yesterday informing us the previous poll had been taken down. We've asked if MSNBC has any information about where the poll packing is coming from, but as yet we have no response. ® Related stories: Linux Today cries foul over Windows MSNBC poll surge Where to check to see if they've taken it down yet
John Lettice, 19 Sep 2000

Welcome to the pre-pay online cash card

We're been hearing a lot recently about online credit cards, accompanied with Daily Mail rants about how teenage credit is evil and will destroy the world. Actually, we agree with the damage that getting kids involved with credit cards will cause, but Global Internet Billing has an interesting solution with its InteractivCash card. It's basically a telephone card for use online and comes from the same people that supply these cards and mobile pre-pay cards to corner shops. This is the setup: go to your local shop, buy a £10, £20, £50 or £100 card (using cash, debit card, whatever). Scratch off the back and you get a unique pin number. Then, go to one of the Web sites that take the card, tap in your number and away you go. Advantages: fraud free, anonymous, don't have to use your credit card, can be used by kids and those that aren't able to buy on the Net because of a poor credit rating. It's a cracking idea and the problem of distribution and promotion is solved in one fell swoop by feeding it to the huge array of local shops in the UK. The shop gets a cut, the Web site gets a sale and Global Internet Billing "would be happy to make fifty pence on a ten-pound card". And then, of course, there's the beauty of "breakage" - those pence that people fail to use on each card or forget about. So this is the solution to everyone's troubles? Well, no, there are a few problems here. The big big one is where can you use the card? GIB has gone into this alongside a brand new UK portal BritishInformation.com (BI from here). BI.com has just started up and hasn't done any press or any promotion so you won't know about it. Anyway BI has done deals with a whole range of content and ecommerce sites. It hasn't signed them all up to the scheme but any new converts will be tied-in and it's hoped that existing partners will see the advantages. And so, for starters, this is where you will be able to get your goods from (the boys and girls at GIB and BI demonstrated the system by allowing me to send some flowers to me mum (ah bless) - we'll see if they arrive tomorrow). The question though is: how will GIB and BI get more sites to sign up to the card? The one major problem with the Internet for such schemes is the sheer size of it. If you can only use it at a small number of sites, people will grow bored of it very quickly. How will it get the message out and how easy is it for sites to get connected? The CEO of GIB Nigel Wallbridge was a little cagey on this one. He professes that it will be a simple process for a site to join the scheme - two hours and a bit of software is all you need apparently. But if this process isn't foolproof we can't see how it will all work. The only other cagey area was money. "GIB is making a profit," was the best response we got to queries about finances. Which begs the response: "What can you say about the profitability of a business which hasn't properly launched yet." Equally, BritishInformation.com's development head Emma Meheux was a little wary when we inquired whether her company was solely a dotcom (how times have changed). It is. However, it is a very good idea and we hope it manages to get a foothold before the big boys pile in with different products. And just for good measure we'll give the pair of them a marketing ploy: since it will be teenagers that pick up this market, sign with some top class vendors of teenage goods (you know, stuff like Teletubbies or whatever the latest equivalent is) - even if it has to be at a loss. Then advertise profusely, saying that you can buy these goods over the Net with the new super InteractivCash card. Two birds, one stone - well, one card. Get the playgrounds interested and you're laughing. ® Related Stories Kids wanna have fun online Second kids Net payment card on the way
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Sep 2000

HP innocent in CD burner screw up

It's only taken two clean installs of Windows 2000 and all the applications and a total restore of all the data, but we appear to be getting to the nub of the problems that appeared when we tried running our new HP 9510i CD burner. It seems that HP is innocent this time and that it's an Adaptec plug-in to Windows Media Player 7 that causes a conflict with Direct CD from, er, Adaptec. One of the key features of WMP7 (shipped with Windows ME, with which it works fine) is the ability to write directly to a CD writer. To facilitate this, an Adaptec plug-in is used which unfortunately causes all installed CD's to become unusable on any machine running WMP7 under Windows 2000. HP came up with a workaround this afternoon which is claimed to restore the non-functional drives. We haven't tried it yet, but it goes something like this: 1) Go to Settings from the Start Menu 2) Select Control Panel 3) Select Add/Remove Programs 4) From the list, select Windows Media Player 7 5) Click the Uninstall component parts box 6) Put a check in the box next to remove "Adaptec CD burning Plugin". Once the plugin is removed, all is returned to normal. Numerous readers have written in response to our original story having hit similar problems with CD writers from a wide variety of manufacturers. Some have turned to alternative burning software like Ahead's Nero, while others have given up altogether and reverted to Win98 for CD writing duties. We suspect that Adaptec is also on the case on this one, as one reader today referred us to a FAQ on the company's support web site referring to WMP7 problems which has now mysteriously disappeared. Rest assured we'll stay on top of this one. ® Related story HP CD writer screws Win 2K machine
Andrew Thomas, 19 Sep 2000

Pentium 4: bring out your living

Remember those benchmarks at 2CPU which Intel managed to vanish a couple of weeks back? Well, you can't put a good chip down and some more Pentium 4 benchmarks have emerged on the same site, but this time in the forum. Go then to this spot to view benchmarks of a rev supposed to be based on a 1.2GHz part. Pentium 4s are good at doing disappearing acts, but how about Foster, its grown up big brother for the server market? A reader pointed to a document which formerly was found here, but has now, very frustratingly vanished before we got more than one peek at it and strange tales of some new Intel codename called Jackson. Luckily, he found it again, elsewhere, even thought the PDF, which you can find here. doesn't have that much to say. ®
Mike Magee, 19 Sep 2000