1st > December > 2000 Archive

Compaq and Disney in $100m love-in

Compaq and Walt Disney Internet Group today jumped into bed together with a $100 million deal. The three-year agreement will see Compaq get to run sites such as Disney.com, ESPN.com and ABC.com and advertise on them. Disney will also buy shedloads of desktops and laptops from Big Q. "This alliance represents a very significant revenue generating opportunity for our business," said Walt Disney Internet Group Chairman Steve Bornstein. "Moreover, it allows us to consolidate our technology platform and focus our planned technology investment with Compaq." The two giants, which first announced they were in cahoots in February, would not reveal which partner would get what amount out of the deal. But if split equally between the two, $100 million spread over three years equals less than $20 million each per year. Not a huge amount in context of their vast holdings, but at least a little security amid the current profit warning frenzy. Separately, Disney also sold its Infoseek Japanese operations to Japanese e-tailer Rakuten Inc for $81 million. ® Related Stories Gateway in PC price war gloom Compaq ends Linux on Alpha Infoseek porn exec gets porridge for Xmas "
Linda Harrison, 01 Dec 2000

Congress peers deeper into Carnivore

The powerful Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into popular concerns that the FBI's Carnivore e-mail sniffer captures too much data and would therefore be too easy for overzealous Feds to abuse. In a 21 November letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh, Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) and ranking member Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont) question the Bureau on why Carnivore "was tested to determine if it was capable of intercepting and archiving unfiltered traffic through an ISP, whether Carnivore in fact has that capability, and under what circumstances it could ever be legitimately used to draw on that capability." Heavily redacted FBI documents obtained by watchdog outfit the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request indicate that Carnivore is in fact capable of more than the Bureau allows. The Judiciary Committee therefore wishes to see "complete and unredacted copies of the documents produced thus far in response to the FOIA lawsuit together with any other documents related to Carnivore's capability to intercept and archive unfiltered traffic." According to the most recent test results released - and here we're reading through vast swaths of India ink - Carinvore does a good job of capturing unfiltered data, but suffers from a decided lack of storage capacity. As for whether the Congressional inquiry will lead to a reigning in of the FBI's new toy, all we can say is that Senator Hatch tends to favour law-and-order measures but retains some conscience regarding privacy and individual liberties, while Senator Leahy never met a law-enforcement surveillance package he didn't like. These tendencies will of course be tempered by the tremendous attention Carnivore is enjoying in the press. We don't anticipate any legislative action arising from the Judiciary Committee interest, but under the circumstances a hearing might be in order, during which Members can make a show of berating the FBI for the video cameras while sitting on their hands. In other words, the standard treatment whenever government and popular interests are in conflict. ® Related Story FBI's Carnivore review is mixed
Thomas C Greene, 01 Dec 2000

Intel in deep doo-doo as HQ's drains fail

The old phrase 'it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it' came literally true this week, we hear, when the plumbing failed at Intel's SC12 building at its Santa Clara HQ. We've always taken AMD fans' claims that Intel processors are shit with a pinch of salt, but as excrement bubbled up out of the drains and across the car park, we wonder if they have a point. Nothing could compare to the whiff pervading Chipzilla Central yesterday morning, we imagine. Chipzilla's emergency plumbers were rushed to the scene to hose down staffers' cars, now decked out in a rather curious brown hue with an interesting pebble-dash motif. Register goodies will go to the first person to email us pictures of the event... ®
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000
server room

Iridium satellite crashes over Arctic

One of Iridium's fleet of telecommunications satellites has fallen out of orbit, burning up in the atmosphere somewhere over the Arctic Ocean this week. A second satellite is due to become a shooting star around the 17 December, and others are expected to follow it Earth-ward in the coming months. Anyone concerned that this marks the end of the Iridium network need not be. The satellites currently plummeting downward are those that failed to operate and were replaced by other, functioning satellites later. The satellite that crashed this week was launched on 8 September 1998. It went out of control in November 1998 and was left spinning back to the Earth, according to Space.com. The crash was recorded by the US Space Command, which tracks around 8000 artificial satellites in Earth orbit. Many of them, like the Iridium unit, are just so much junk whizzing around the globe until their orbits decay and they come crashing back to Earth. According to NASA, there's a one in 10,000 chance that remains of a crashing Iridium Satellite will land on someone - rather lower than the chance of being financially burned as an Iridium investor... Iridium has around 70 functional satellites in its network, all of them bought for $25 million last month by a new company, Iridium Satellite. The price includes all of Iridium's terrestrial base-stations. IS will reactivate the network and sell mobile communications solutions to the US government and big business. ® Related Story Iridium back from the dead
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000

Transmeta bug may affect 13,000 Sony PCs

Sony has confirmed problems with Transmeta's Crusoe processors shipped in two of its Vaio sub-notebook computers, despite assurances from Transmeta earlier this week that such an outcome was "unlikely". Sony yesterday calculated that some 13,000 Vaio PCG-GT1 and PCG-C1 machines - out of 28,200 units shipped - containing 600MHz Crusoe TM5600 CPUs may fail thanks to a manufacturing glitch in the some chips which is said to affect the contents of its L2 cache. However, unlike NEC, whose recall of Crusoe-powered PCs alerted buyers to potential problems with Transmeta's chip, Sony said it will not recall its own computers. Users who suspect their machines contain the defect should contact Sony, the company said, who will test the chip and replace it if necessary. After NEC admitted yesterday it would recall 284 Crusoe-based notebooks (all with serial numbers 'OY*****1A'), Transmeta said that there was "no clear evidence" that the problem affected other Crusoe customers. In addition to Sony and NEC, Hitachi and Fujitsu are both putting the finishing touches to Crusoe-based machines. Hitachi said it is testing its systems for signs of the bug. Fujitsu said its tests showed neither of its two machines was affected. One model uses the TM5400 processor, the other the TM5600, but running at 533MHz not the problematic 600MHz. One of Hitachi's models does contain a 600MHz TM5600 - hence the company's concern. ® Related Story Transmeta to exchange dodgy Crusoes
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000

Intel cancels US developer roadshow

Intel has pulled the plug on its North American Applied Computing Roadshow at short notice. The tour, subtitled: "Empowering Developers of the Connected World", was scheduled to hit Ottowa, Raleigh and Chicago and other cities over the next fortnight. But like a number of recent Intel products, it has suffered a recall. "We regret any inconvenience this may cause you. Please check back for future updates" is all the Web site reveals - save for a mildly surreal "Save $100!" promotion. And what that's all about, we haven't a clue, for the details of the promotion have been vaped along with the rest of the site: the Conference, Exhibits and other sections have been wiped too. Intel's Applied Events in the past have typically showcased really quite interesting high-end platform initiatives for graphics modeling and multi-processing. Chipzilla offered no explanation for the cancellation. May be one of those Blue Mens' levers failed to pop up? ®
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Dec 2000

Red Hat drops Sparc support

Red Hat has canned the Sparc version of Red Hat Linux 7 "due to insufficient demand". The admission, made in an interview with Cnet, comes just days after Compaq trumpeted Red Hat's support for its Alpha processor, which, apart from some custom-made versions for IBM servers, is now the only non-x86 CPU Red Hat supports. And perhaps therein lies the rub. Both Compaq and IBM are keen to promote Linux on their hardware and have worked with Red Hat on supporting their systems. Sun is far less interested, preferring to tout Solaris - particularly after it decided to give the OS away for free - and we reckon that Red Had decided it couldn't or wouldn't maintain the Sparc version of its distribution without Sun money. Which is fair enough and an entirely valid business decision. Red Hat needs to make money out of its development efforts, whether it comes from users or funding from hardware manufacturers. Red Hat Linux for Sparc isn't entirely dead, however. The company will continue to offer a developer-oriented release, though the distribution will not be supported. Existing Sparc users will continue to be supported, a Red Hat spokeswoman said, adding that Sparc development will be restarted if demand picks up. And Sparc users keen to run Linux can always turn to Red Hat rivals SuSE, Caldera, MandrakeSoft and Debian, all of whom offer Sparc versions of their distributions. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000

New-look LibertySurf makes fresh start

LibertySurf kicks off a major TV ad campaign today in a bid to rebrand itself as a caring, sharing ISP with just one goal in mind - to please its customers. From now until the middle of January expect to see the heart-warming ads on British TV featuring kids innocently demonstrating the meaning of "unmetered Net access" in the only way children know how. The part unmetered, part pay-as-you-go service, which has reportedly proved popular in France, (see details below) is designed to appeal to first-time users, specifically, families with kids. It's a homely image that also speaks of simplicity - another tenet of LibertySurf's new approach. It's all a far cry from the summer when LibertySurf was forced to suspend sales of its unmetered Net access software and canned its nationwide ad campaign after the service was hit by major problems. Back then, customers complained about everything - the service, the network, the lack of help... LibertySurf blamed excess demand for its problems. But this left some punters distinctly unhappy and helped fuel a witch-hunt in the press. That, of course, was then. And this is now. And the thing about re-launches is that you can start afresh and put your past behind you - if people will let you. Paul Shalet, UK MD of born-again LibertySurf, says the company has undergone a cultural shift that has turned the business on its head. He said the company has changed from an outfit that had a distinctly techie bias to one that is now firmly focused on the consumer. Of course, you'd expect that when one of your major shareholders is Kingfisher plc - one of Europe's top retailers which boasts a "clear focus on the home and family". So LibertySurf has remoulded itself to fit in with the more consumer-friendly Kingfisher approach. And about time too. Looking at the broader picture, over the last year British Net users have been treated abysmally by the very people that claim to serve them. The fiasco of unmetered Net access - which has still yet to be truly resolved - made some ISPs lose all sense of sanity, offering promises they were simply unable to keep. The industry was wrapped in madness - let's hope it was just a temporary affliction and not a more long-term illness. So, LibertySurf 's re-launch is to be welcomed. And if consumers in Britain are to get the service they deserve, it deserves a second chance. However, this time, it has to deliver and cannot afford the slip-ups that hounded it in the past. We shall watch with interest. LibertySurf latest Net access offering Available from Comet stores, punters pay a one-off payment of £10 for the LibertySurf pack and receive four hours of Net access (available anytime of the day) a month. After that, any further usage is charge at 1p a minute. For an extra £4 a month, customers can buy an additional eight hours and 20 minutes online each month with no call charges. This package isn't for everyone and won't appeal to heavy users. But if the service is reliable, then there's no reason why it shouldn't appeal to LibertySurf's target audience. ®
Tim Richardson, 01 Dec 2000

Liquefaction imperils Bay Area Bubble Economy

The US Geological Survey (USGS) yesterday confirmed our worst fears - or some of your highest hopes - that the Bay Area Internet economy will be decimated by the next major San Andreas-induced quake. Every few years the Survey plots the vulnerability of certain areas to earthquakes, and the results released yesterday are the most precise to date. Alongside landslides, liquefaction is the most prominent danger to quake-vulnerable neighbourhoods. Several areas of San Francisco are built on infill, and the vibrations that result from a major quake force water from the sand to the surface: leaving buildings shakier than Amazon's P2E ratio. And many prominent of San Francisco's dot.coms find themselves going wibbly-wobbly too. Most of the SOMA area will be dot.gone should a major quake strike, along with the Financial District, all of downtown, and the Marina area. So should a quake strike, expect to received variable Quality of Service from the following: Sega, ZDNet [Did you expect anything else? - Ed], Petopia, WebVan, Macromedia and a host of smaller dot.coms and service providers whose natural demise will be accelerated by the Big One. Alas, say goodbye too, to Brian Behlendorf's Collab.net, and in meejah-land Computergram, CMP, Wired and SF Weekly (although we're saying our prayers for Dog Bites' diva Laurel Wellman right now). Oh, and us and CNet too. We're in big trouble: for if liquefaction doesn't get us both, landslides from Telegraph Hill probably will. Waltzing out of the apocalypse intact, we're glad to see, will be Microsoft's Bay Area Research Centre (home-from-home to Jim Gray of System*R and Tandem fame). And weirdly too, IDG Media is tipped to escape almost intact if our geography is correct. Which should leave slumberers in the building's famous "sleeping room" (where journalists can doze off a heavy working lunch) snoozing merrily on. The survey predicts that there's a "70 per cent probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2030". For San Francisco's British expats, the Mad Dog In The Fog and the Edinburgh Castle appear to be safe. We'll see you in there. ® Related Link The Earthquake Hazards Program at the wonderful USGS website
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Dec 2000

AT&T wireless starts move to 3G convergence with GSM

US cellular giant AT&T has recruited Nokia and Ericsson to speed up its transition to 3G network systems. The two companies have signed letters of intent with AT&T, and will be delivering equipment that supports both the GPRS mobile packet data system currently being deployed in Europe, and the higher speed EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) system. The route AT&T has chosen is largely in line with the roadmap being put forward by the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC), of which AT&T is a member. The UWCC is the umbrella body for companies using the TDMA wireless standard; this is in many respects a near relation of Europe's GSM, and the UWCC sees EDGE as facilitating data convergence between GSM and TDMA. The use of GPRS by AT&T is however what you might call a development. In Europe the 3G roadmap rolls out GPRS first for mobile data, with EDGE being envisaged as a kind of halfway house to full 3G UMTS. Because of the time it will take to roll out the latter networks, there will be considerable overlap between systems, and at least in the early years actual performance of what you might call 2.5G networks is likely to exceed performance of the embryonic 3G ones. In the US however full 3G is further off, while EDGE has been groomed much more as a 3G technology, and US companies have been expected to move straight to EDGE without bothering about GPRS. AT&T's move therefore suggests a possible outbreak of sweetness and light between GSM and TDMA. Nokia will be delivering GPRS-ready triple mode GSM/EDGE/UMTS base stations and a 1900MHz EDGE radio system, together with a test rig for use on the AT&T Wireless campus in, er, Redmond. Ericsson will be doing similar, and will be supplying AT&T with the triple band GPRS/Bluetooth R520 handset. The first phase of the network is to be deployed in the first half of next year. ®
John Lettice, 01 Dec 2000

Micron issues profit warning

Micron Electronics has warned that earnings for the quarter will be below Wall Street estimates, blaming lower DRAM pricing for the dip. Gateway has also warned that its revenues will be half a billion dollars lower than previous estimates. The company now expects revenues of between $385 million and $400 million for the quarter, and earnings per share between $.01 and $.04 when results are announced just before Christmas. "The primary reason for the earnings shortfall was the recent downward trend in DRAM industry pricing," said James R. Stewart, Micron's CFO. "If DRAM pricing had held at last quarter's levels, we'd be looking at about $85 million more in sales." Stewart will provide revised estimates for the next quarter when Micron announces final results on 20 December. PC sales are $30 million to $35 million lower than previously estimated due to slow consumer PC sales, which are impacting the company's VelocityNet direct sales business, which runs in association with major retailers. The company said that although VelocityNet has grown steadily since its launch in April, some retail partners have taken longer than expected to ramp up significant volumes. Despite the warning, overall PC operating results should still be up from last quarter, as lower operating expenses will offset the impact of poor PC sales. ® Related Story HP says US PC sales worse than expected
Andrew Thomas, 01 Dec 2000

Lloyd's of London hacker gets slapped wrist

A Teenage hacker who pleaded guilty to hacking into the Lloyd's of London Web site has received a lenient sentence. The 17 year-old, who is known as 'X', attacked both Lloyd's and Railtrack in New Year's Eve attacks, using his own PC. This meant he left his digital fingerprints all over the attack, making him relatively easy to trace. He taunted Lloyd's over its lack of security and falsely warned of cancellations, due to Year 2000 problems on the Railtrack site (something which would, given the chaos on the railways, be hard to notice if he carried out the attack today.) At Hereford youth court the boy pleaded guilty to breaches of the Computer Misuse Act 1990. He was conditionally discharged for a year and ordered to pay £65 court costs. The young fellow can think himself fortunate he doesn't live in Hong Kong where under fresh recommendations to combat computer crime hackers could face up to 14 years in jail. Hong Kong's sinister sounding Security Bureau working group recommends that hacking should be brought in line with other deception offences, increasing the present maximum penalty of five years' jail and a maximum fine of $20,000 to 14 years. The group also recommends compulsory disclosure of decryption tools or decrypted text of encoded computer records from companies involved in serious offences. ® Related Story Lloyds of London web hacker explains
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2000

VIA fails to profit from Intel 815 delay

TSMC sources quoted in Taiwan's Commercial Times claim that VIA has slashed orders as a result of falling demand from mobo makers. VIA refused to comment on the speculation but said that any adjustment was purely temporary. The company expects the mobo market to return to normal next year and says its chipset product strategy would not be affected, despite delays in shipments of Intel's 815 chipset that was expected to have moved into mass production in the fourth quarter. As Intel's leading chipset competitor, VIA should have profited both from the 815 delay and discontent amongst Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers becoming increasingly frustrated with Intel's constantly-changing chipset strategy. Intel has also cut IC foundry orders to TSMC, claimed the source. Interestingly, VIA appears to be prepared to confirm the cut in Intel orders but has remained tight-lipped over its own problems. ®
Andrew Thomas, 01 Dec 2000

Anonymizer: the Naked Capitalist Answer

Real world security company Securicor is spending £7 million on an online shopping service which will allow users to shop online without passing credit card details to online stores. In effect, this is the naked capitalist version of Anonymizer, the best-known service designed to enable people to browse the Web anonymously. Securicor reckons consumers will welcome its take on anonymity because its service protect them from online fraud, as well as junk emailers. The new division, called E-solutions, is headed by Stephen Taylor, formerly a marketing man in charge of loyalty programmes at Air Miles and Safeway. He is aware of the irony of his change of business. In effect, Securicor has set up an online mall. People who sign up to the service give all their financial details to Securicor, and the data is stored on the company's site. Its site will have links to participating retailers, and when a customer wants to buy something online, they go to the Securicor site where their funds are checked, and the sale is processed. Securicor then delivers the package. Taylor says that the site has been thoroughly tested against external hacks or system overloads. Retailers who join the scheme will pay a price based commission on each sale to Securicor. So far the company says that "several" retailers have already signed up, and that another 30 or so are on the cards. First joiners are expected to be white goods and entertainment system retailers. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Dec 2000

QXL share price slumps

Online auctioneer QXL has seen its share price slump by over 22 per cent on the news that it needed to raise an extra £30 million to stay in business. Tech stocks haven't been having an easy time of it recently but QXL has the unenviable moniker of being the worst performing European Internet stock this year. At the start of the year, its share price stood at 117.38. It currently rests at 1.19. The money is being raised privately through Credit Suisse First Boston Equities. It will help QXL stay in business - the £45 million it has left will be used up next year - and push towards its planned profitability in 2003, but the City wasn't impressed and at one point the share price was down 30 per cent. QXL also announced a pre-tax loss of £66.3 million for the quarter, compared with £11.7 million the previous quarter. This was down to a £53 million goodwill item. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

Dell fumbles open source desktop gambit

Welcome to the whirling hall of rotating knives. Intel assembler (and bug-finder par excellence) Dell Computer was fingered in speculation yesterday that it is poised to invest in open source desktop outfit Eazel and anoint GNOME as its preferred Linux desktop. Yerssss, indeed... But this carefully leaked, desperately optimistic newscrumb did its business duty. We confidently predict that the more gullible wires will be awash with 'Dell endorsing Linux stories', pegged on the double hook of: Dell straying from its role as Wintel distie; and Linux getting get a massive leg-up into the living rooms of Mid-West America. But let's take a quick reality check, first. Many of you will be thinking: "You mean Dell Computer actually has a Linux desktop?" and. quite rightly, concluding that this isn't the case at all. We've been watching Dell for more years than we'll admit, and by industry standards it's a very smart, pretty honest company. It's been sharp enough to realize that low-end commodity servers - what Intel calls "edge servers" - naturally belong to a cheap commodity OS. And in the past twelve months has produced very competitive 1u and 2u Linux racks. What's going on? Call us cynical, but the choice of GnomeE/Nautilus is what you'd expect if you dragged a trainee PR intern off the street, and threatened to hit them with a rock until they came up with two leading open source names. This really is strategy dictated by short-haul in-flight magazines. Err... Gnome! And err... the one that old Mac guy does...! Gnome, much as we love it, is trailing the dominant Linux desktop KDE by several months, and several distros of mindshare. And Nautilus has failed to grok that Mozilla is rapidly becoming the scriptable desktop environment most of us want to live in. So would any of you say that this combination is optimally tuned to computer neophytes who simply want to get their weird new computas working (and find MP3s and pornography), just yet? We don't think so, and Linux creator Linus Torvalds doesn't think so either. But Dell has a deep public perception problem here - no one believes anything it says about Linux. It's almost painful. For several years it declined non-Microsoft operating systems and it continues to refuse to ship non-Intel CPUs at the heart of its PCs. Which is exactly its right and clearly has done little harm to the company, or the public perception of its founder. Michael Dell is liked, perhaps even almost slightly lovable, precisely because he's honest and guileless enough to soak up the punishment that comes with this strategy. Take any Dell keynote: "I was whupped hard as a chile, and whuppin' now don't do me any harm" is the subtext. Dell's Linux investments have been anything but strategic, and largely PR driven. We saw the guy at the last LinuxWorld beating off a succession of questions from the floor, and his sincere, well-intentioned projections were flattened by the reality of the company's business model, which is roughly: "we put stuff together; we sell stuff; please stop confusing me with all this weird crap". Some might still hope that this is a tactical firework across the bow of Wintel. Dream on, folks. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Dec 2000

Wanted: one contract killer

An obsessed man offered £100,000 on a Web site for the murder of a woman he had met online, a court heard yesterday. Paul Clark began exchanging emails with American Brandy Arnett after she advertised for an email pen pal. The 32-year-old electronics engineer from Portsmouth quickly became obsessed with his American pen pal. Within weeks he had proposed and offered to fly to Texas so they could start a family, even though they had never met. When Brandy told him she was already married he "exploded," the jury was told. He emailed Brandy, threatening to kill her, saying: "You have signed your own death warrant. I have contacts in the US who will gladly carry out the task of terminating you." He is alleged to have put up an offer of £100,000 for her murder, saying payment would be dispatched upon receipt of photographic evidence of her death. When Arnett sent him photographs of herself and her husband on their wedding day, he used the material to set up another Web site, offering £25,000 to anyone who "terminated" the couple. When questioned by the police, Clark said that the emails and web sites were a joke. He denies making threats to kill and soliciting to murder. The trial continues in Winchester. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Dec 2000

SGI takes stake in Linux distro SuSE

SGI has invested in Linux distributor SuSE, part of what the two companies are calling a "strategic partnership" to grow the open source OS' applications market. The value of the investment was not disclosed. However, the duo did say that the alliance will also involve their close co-operation on the "development, deployment and support of the Linux OS and infrastructure code". That suggests that SGI plans to roll-out boxes based on SuSE's distribution of Linux rather than Red Hat's, which is what it's shipping in its desktop systems today. However, the partners also said they will also be collaborating on high-end enterprise applications - at least that's what they claim their customers will get out of the arrangement - so SGI could be looking at SuSE as its high-end distribution and Red Hat for workstation-class systems. Certainly, the tone of the two companies' joint statement on the alliance doesn't mention SGI's traditional visual computing business. SuSE and SGI have some history of collaboration. Earlier this year, they both ported SGI's FailSafe advanced clustering system over to Linux from SGI's variety of Unix, IRIX. That would imply this new alliance is an extension of SGI's plan to port key Unix technologies over to Linux, and as before, it's doing so with SuSE's help, securing that aid with a stake in the company. The two companies are also working together - with others too - on the version of Linux for Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000

Fake mobos – SOYO bares teeth

Mobo maker SOYO, which sold $315 million worth of boards last year, has discovered at least a thousand imitation motherboards in South America, Asia Pacific, Canada and the US. The company has set up a legal investigation team, and promises to prosecute anyone who manufactures or knowingly sells fake SOYO products The problem came to light when SOYO's customer service department received some motherboards for repair with unknown serial numbers but identical model numbers, manuals and packaging. Suspect mobos include the SY-6VBA133, SY-5EHM/5, and SY-5SSM/5. The company says it is currently gathering evidence and promises legal action against the fake manufacturers. Consumers are advised not buy from unauthorised dealers and to be suspicious of deeply discounted products. Eighteen months ago, ASUS was hit by a flood of fake motherboards (Story: Fake ASUS mobos circulate in Europe) that turned out to have been made in China. The source of the imitation SOYO boards is not yet known. An Intel representative told The Reg they were unaware of any instances of their mobos being cloned. ® Related Story Fake ASUS mobos circulate in Europe
Andrew Thomas, 01 Dec 2000
server room

WAP is CWAP – Jakob Nielsen

A report published today recommends that companies looking to offer mobile Internet services should delay their entry into the marketplace until the technology improves. The report claims the true potential for the mobile Internet isn't expected to gain momentum until 2003. It argues that users are turned off by the WAP experience and that it simply does not live up to their expectations - regardless of the hype peddled by telcos. The study adds further weight to the growing number of users who've tried the technology but conclude that WAP is CWAP. Twenty people in London were asked to test the user-friendliness of the technology. After being handed the blessed things and told to use them for a week, 70 per cent of people said they would not consider getting a WAP phone within the next year. Only 20 per cent said they would like to get one within the next three years. Those who tested WAP said that even the simplest tasks took too much time to be of any real use. The performance of WAP was described as "appallingly low". "In my opinion, WAP stands for Wrong Approach to Portability," said Jakob Nielsen of the Silicon Valley-based user-experience think tank and consulting firm, Nielsen Norman Group. "Companies shouldn't waste money fielding WAP services that nobody will use while WAP usability remains so poor. "Instead, they should sit out the current generation of WAP while planning their mobile Internet strategy," he said. The report's title, WAP Usability - Deja Vu: 1994 All Over Again, refers to the fact that the study's findings are strikingly similar to usability studies conducted by Nielsen in 1994 at the beginning of the Web phenomena. And he predicts that the evolution of Internet mobility will follow along the same analogy - as the technology gets easier to use, so too will it increase in popularity. Still, that hasn't stopped Nielsen from trying to cash in on WAP. You can obtain your own copy of the study by downloading it from the Nielsen and Norman Web site here. Although $18 to find out WAP is CWAP does seem a bit steep. ®
Tim Richardson, 01 Dec 2000

Europe no place for Programmer's Paradise

Pennsylvania-based Black Box Corporation is buying into privately held British outfit Orchard Network Solutions. The amount of the deal between the two network services companies was not disclosed. Orchard is based in Colchester, with annual sales of $1 million. Black Box, which will merge Orchard into its UK division, saw $450 million revenue in 2000. Meanwhile, US software reseller Programmer's Paradise is to pull out of the UK. The New Jersey company is selling its European subsidiaries to German outfit PC-Ware Information Technologies for 14.5 million Euros ($12.6 million). The deal is expected to be completed following a Programmer's shareholder meeting in New York on December 21. Bill Willett, Programmer's Paradise chairman, said the company would use the sale to increase its market share in North America. Its Euro operations also include offices in Italy, Germany, France and the Netherlands. In other channel-related tit-bits, Compaq and online B2Ber Acequote have teamed up to flog Big Q's kit through UK resellers. Punters can now log onto Compaq's site and get multiple quotations from its accredited resellers via the Acequote reverse auction process. ®
Linda Harrison, 01 Dec 2000

My security algorithm is faster than yours

IBM claims to have invented a new encryption algorithm which can encrypt and authenticate data in one step. The algorithm takes advantage of parallel processing hardware, to cut in half the time taken to encrypt data. However, the news has failed to impress everyone. IBM says the algorithm could be used to take some of the load off networks, but Bruce Schneier, the founder of Counterpane Technologies, says the speed-up is insignificant in the greater scheme of things. He invoked Moore's Law, commenting: "It's a factor of two. Wait a year, and you get that speed-up for free." In technological terms, perhaps this is true. But these transistors don't grow of their own accord, and if you are the one footing the bill for the hardware, it might be worth a moment of your time. "The guys with the long-haul networks are going to be interested," Charles Palmer, manager of network security and cryptography at IBM Research said. "So are all these guys with [mobile commerce] in their eyes." He indicated that some network infrastructure companies were already testing the algorithm as a foundation for some of their security technologies. Schneier also points out that this is not the first time the concept has been investigated: "Signcryption," as it is known, has been studied by several researchers at Monash University in Australia. The algorithm will be submitted to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which will evaluate the algorithm and decide whether or not to recommend it as a standard for securing communications. And to give credit where it is due, the maths whizz responsible for the algorithm is Charanjit Jutla, a researcher at IBM. ® Related Links Monash University News
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Dec 2000
Palm Treo 600

Sell your granny to buy Palm stock – analyst

Palm is on track for a cracking quarter - so much so that its stock, currently trading at around $40, is a "compelling" buy.
Tony Smith, 01 Dec 2000

Shrinking chips

With Intel and AMD/Motorola's joint efforts on moving to 130nm processes about to go head to head (Story: New Intel, Motorola/AMD chips face off), it's perhaps an opportune moment to look at how semiconductor technology has progressed over the last decade or so. Intel's first microprocessor, the 108KHz 4004, was built using 1971's state of the art ten micron process. By 1989, the P648 process was used to build the first 486. This was a one micron process producing chips with a gate length of a micron and an SRAM cell size of 220 square microns. With only two layers of interconnect, the end product needed five volts to drive it. When the original Pentium arrived in 1993, things had moved on again. The 0.80 micron P650 process meant that the three million transistor 60MHz part was little bigger than the 2,300 transistors of the 4004. The first P6 architecture processor, The Pentium Pro, arrived towards the end of 1995, built on the P854 0.35 micron process that was also used for the first Pentium II launched two years later. The SRAM cell size was now down to a tenth the size it had been six years earlier. In 1997, Pentium II went through a die shrink to 0.25 micron with the arrival of the P856 process. The SRAM cell shrank to half its previous size at just over 10 square microns. Last year saw the first 0.18 Pentium III using the P858 process with a gate length of 130nm - the same process used today for the Willamette Pentium 4. Next year will see the 130nm P860 process used to build the Tualatin PIII die-shrink and the Northwood Pentium 4. SRAM cell size using P860 is a hundredth the size of that in a 486, making the provision of large on-die L2 caches simpler. This process also sees Intel moving to copper interconnects - some 40 per cent faster than aluminium - for the first time and reducing the supply voltage to 1.3 volts. Not only does everything run cooler, but the technology will be capable of producing microprocessors with over 100 million transistors operating at multi-gigahertz speeds. The reduction in gate length to 70nm is expected to improve performance by 50 - 60 per cent over today's 0.18 micron parts. 130nm technology is being developed in Fab 20 in Oregon, with production starting in the first half of next year. Eight other fabs will come online by the end of 2002, producing 200 and 300mm wafers. ® More deep sub-micron stuff Intel moves to 0.13 micron, copper Intel, Motorola/AMD chips face off 1.7GHz Athlon - too hot to trot? AMD test 'super silicon' to beat heat problems
Andrew Thomas, 01 Dec 2000

Bull splits to tackle poor sales

Bull is to split its server and services businesses into two separate subsidiaries as part of a far-ranging reorganisation. This will see 1,800 people - 10 per cent of the workforce - losing their jobs over the next 18 months as the company continues to grapple with disappointing sales. Sales for the second half of this year are expected to fall well below expectations, which Bull blames on continuing weakness of the European server market, particularly in France, where the company is headquartered. A company spokesperson said results for its services business, which provides consulting and systems integration as well as outsourcing services, are also likely to be "bad". The reorganisation amounts to an acceleration of Bull's previous announced strategy to restructure itself into four autonomous divisions - services, servers, smart cards and software - with a focus on services and servers. Earlier this year, Bull announced plans to spin off its security and network management software businesses, BullSoft, into a worldwide subsidiary called Evidian. As part of the reorganisation Bull will seek partnerships to divest itself of non-strategic activities in order to raise 400 million euros next year, but its spokeswoman said it has not been decided what these are yet. The firm also said it is searching for "specialist partners" in order to develop its server business, which accounts for around 30 per cent of revenues, and involves OEM deals with IBM selling AIX-based Unix servers and Microsoft for the sale of Windows Datacenter servers. ®
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2000

Email will get you fired

Funny medium, email. And one likely to get you the sack - whether you're being nice or nasty. A Sikh police sergeant is to be offered his job back after he was fired for sending "racist hate mail". On the other hand, a born-again Christian working for British Airways was fired for "harassing" a fellow worker with offers of talks and advice. Gurpal Virdi was angry at being turned down for promotion and was considering a case of racial discrimination against the Metropolitan Police, a tribunal heard. Shortly after, several internal emails - one of which read "Not wanted. Keep the police white, so leave now or else" - were sent out. The Met carried out an investigation and found that Mr Virdi had sent them and promptly fired him. However, the employment tribunal found that the investigation was flawed and racist. The sender of the emails was not known and there were several suspects, including a white, female officer. While others were given informal interviews, Mr Virdi was not and was the only person whose house was searched. Gurpal had a 16-year clean record in the police force and still professes his innocence. He is to be offered his job back but has said he won't accept unless given a full, formal apology. Meanwhile, born-again Christian Wendy Creed was fired for repeatedly sending emails offering support to her colleague who had just split from his wife. He wasn't so keen on the offer but Wendy just a-kept-on trying to help him. BA's management eventually asked her to stop. But Wendy is so dedicated to make everyone's lives better that she ignored the order and kept sending the mails. So she was fired for gross misconduct. And lost her tribunal case. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

Linux, MP3 and Bluetooth on one phone

A Korean software developer has developed the world's 'first embedded-Linux smart phone'. Still at demo stage, the IMT-2000 smart phone (brand name Palmi - which may well upset a certain PDA maker) is the outcome of a joint project between PalmPalm Technology SK Telecom and Seoul National University. The Palmi is loaded with the Tynux Embedded Linux operating system, developed by PalmPalm, and incorporates features few gadgetophiles could resist. Palmi is both cellular phone and PDA, and has multimedia functionality, including animation, MP3, video communication and voice over IP, to name a few. In addition, with the help of its Bluetooth wireless interface, playing networked games is possible. The handset includes: games (provided by Mdream, Korea); Bluetooth (provided by Zeen, Korea) QT/Embedded (provided by Trolltech, Norway); and a web browser from Opera Software. The IMT-2000 smartphone is based on a StrongARM SA1110 206MHz with a 4 inch LCD display and Bluetooth interface. It also features a camera, serial and USB ports, and a voice codec. Linux on a smart phone sounds appealing but there is a nagging concern that the evolution of more versions of the operating system, to pitch it towards embedded devices, could lead to fragmentation of the operating system. Also it has to be remembered that Linux has its competitors to become a platform for smart phone. The Palmi is pitched in the same area as Sagem WA3050, which integrates high-speed wireless technology with Microsoft's Pocket PC platform and Symbian-based devices such as Ericsson's R380. Not to be outdone this week Nokia Networks announced that GEO Interactive Media Group will develop a streaming MPEG-4 video Emblaze(TM) player and telco-grade video server/gateway for the Nokia 9210 Color Communicator Despite the promise of these technologies there are some signs that uptake has been disappointing. Last week Sagem announced its result would fall short by around 7 per cent due to a slowdown in the market for wireless application protocol (WAP) and general packet radio service (GPRS) mobile phones. On the technology front, more applications can be expected to be developed for both Linux and Microsoft environments than for EPOC, the operating system used in Ericsson and Nokia smart phones. However EPOC may have advantages because it was specifically written as a real time operating system - so it is likely to perform better in functions like memory management. Of course these are they sort of functions that can only be found out by testing, and The Register is open to a long-term loan or 10. Send them to the usual address and we'll put them through their paces. ® Related link PalmPalm Technology announces the world's first Linux loaded IMT-2000 smart phone /a>
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2000

No upturn in DRAM until after March

The slippery DRAM market is not expected to make a full recovery until sometime after March 2001. Prices are still declining, and at their lowest, DRAM 64Mb memory chips on the spot market have plummeted to under $3, Asiabiztech reports. The rolling average contract prices of 128Mb DRAMs for the month ended November 10 were $13.82 in North America, $11.49 in Europe, and $15.40 in Asia. Compared to the previous week (ended November 3), this represented a price drop of 3.49 per cent for North America and 11.78 per cent for Europe, while prices stayed pretty constant in Asia. Spot market prices for 128MB DIMMs (PC133) fell 8.3 per cent on the previous week to $73.14 in North America, 10.12 per cent to $70.45 in North America, and 9.75 per cent to $64.51 in Asia. Yesterday chip giant Micron Electronics issued a profit warning, blaming lower DRAM pricing. The company reckoned the fall in DRAM memory prices between this and the previous quarter wiped around $85 million off sales - it now expects revenues of between $385 million and $400 million. ® Related Stories Micron issues profit warning Elpida to expand DRAM production SDRAM prices pull out of nosedive Armed DRAM robbers caught after police chase
Linda Harrison, 01 Dec 2000

IF brushes off dirty tricks allegations

A trading standards investigation into Intelligent Finance (IF) - the online bank from the Halifax - has failed to tarnish yesterday's long awaited launch of Britain's latest e-bank. Edinburgh Trading Standards has already met with officials at IF concerning a single complaint about an advert promoting its 0 per cent interest credit card. According to IF spokeswoman, Heather Scott, the meeting went well although the matter is yet to be resolved. And what of the allegations made in Scottish business newspaper, Business AM about an alleged dirty tricks campaign that has dogged IF ever since details of the e-bank became public in February? Allegations include supplier businesses being threatened if they signed contracts with IF and the frighteners being put on some staff. "We've made no such allegations," said Scott, who brushed off the negative points in true PR style. She was more interested in the fact that the IF Web site was attracting two new accounts a minute and that so far, the site had remained intact and suffered no hiccups - something some of IF's rivals are unable to match. Cahoot, Abbey National's online bank, for example, crashed only hours after it was launched in June. ® Related Stories Halifax pulls IF.com Net bank launch Smile promises cash for a crash Smile promises cash for a crash
Tim Richardson, 01 Dec 2000

Cracker site Icefortress benefits from IBILL challenge

ExclusiveExclusive When the popular Icefortress Web site was taken down in response to legal threats from porno billing-service outfit IBILL, no one was even sure what the company was objecting to. Following a few initial scare-o-grams from IBILL lawyer Edward Cherry and outside lawyer Stephen Workman, the ICE crew's first inclination was to fold in order to avoid a costly court battle with a far-better-funded opponent. Things changed as the crew got a bit of legal advice from San Francisco lawyer Jennifer Granick, and encouragement from free-speech advocate and Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Professor David Touretzky. After talking the case through, the ICE crew began to suspect that IBILL was bluffing. Even after retaining Granick's services it remained anyone's guess what exactly had got under IBILL's skin -- the site offered a range of cracking tools, security bulletins and advice, but little that one couldn't have found elsewhere. Why was Icefortress being singled out for persecution? No one knew, not even ICE's lawyer. Eventually it became apparent to us that a rather innocent essay reminding crackers to load a proxy for their security (SSL) port in order to maintain a measure of anonymity whenever attacking an IBILL-protected site had to be the offending item. IBILL's numerous threats citing copyright infringement would only make sense if the company actually considers SSL to be its own proprietary development -- which it certainly isn't, having been developed by Netscape. Perhaps they consider their use of it to be novel. We are unfortunately left to make educated guesses, as a non-disclosure agreement prevents ICE from talking about the case, and IBILL's Cherry instantly blew off our telephone call with sarcastic defensiveness. We guess, therefore, that things didn't quite go IBILL's way. We know that ICE has since taken down the essay which we suspect started the whole thing, and imagine that IBILL paid the crew a reasonable sum for its trouble. We base that on two observations: first, correspondence between Granick and IBILL indicates that the crew was looking for modest compensation in exchange for having its Web site pulled without due process; and second, we're personally acquainted with a third party who donated rather generously to the ICE defence fund. That good Samaritan had his money refunded at just about the time when the ICE site came back on line, prompting us to imagine that some money did in fact move from IBILL to Icefortress when the matter was resolved. Touretzky expressed some disappointment in ICE's decision to pull the essay as part of the settlement we imagine they reached. "I think the author of that essay deserves to be heard in his own words," Touretzky told The Register. "Even though it's a trivial piece, there are free speech issues here." Being something of a free-speech purist, he has mirrored it on his own Web site. "If IBILL has a problem with that, they know where to find me," he told us. Sweet Irony Irony rarely fails to attend disputes of this nature. As a result of IBILL's unsuccessful assault, the ICE site is now more popular than it ever had been. "We could have done better if we brought them to court, but that is my opinion and not the group's as a whole," ICE crew member Quacker2k told The Register. "In the short term it did us harm but over the long term has made us more popular. ICE is back and a stronger group then ever." Indeed, the site has in the past month enjoyed over 800,000 page hits; and the number of registered BBS users has grown from approximately 400 in the days before the troubles to 640 now, and continues to grow, member Blind Guardian told us. In a previous story we speculated that outside lawyer Workman was stringing IBILL along, over-promising what he could accomplish for them under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as a means of promoting himself at IBILL's expense. One of the crew members remarked that it appeared to him that Workman had been dismissed along the way, though he was unable to confirm it. Our personal impression of Workman was overwhelmingly negative when we spoke with him this Summer. He struck us as a self-promoter more concerned with publicity than his client's interests. At the time, however, IBILL's Cherry gushed about Workman's fine efforts and brilliant legal insights. As it appears now that IBILL folded in confrontation with a poorly-funded collection of young crackers, we're even more convinced of our original suspicion that Workman's magic was pure smoke and mirrors. We imagine IBILL has since come to the same conclusion, undoubtedly at considerable expense. ® Related Stories Cracker education site ICE resists IBILL pressure Cracker education site folds on DMCA threat
Thomas C Greene, 01 Dec 2000

Judiciary weighs privacy, access

The US federal judiciary is asking for the public's help in hashing out the privacy issues attendant with allowing Web access to court case files, which can sometimes include such sensitive information as medical histories, personnel files, tax returns and Social Security numbers. The dead-tree versions of criminal and civil case files have long been open to public inspection and copying. But as the federal judiciary moves into the information age and puts more of those files on the Web, it's having second thoughts about "the privacy and security implications of vastly wider public access," according to a recent statement from the Administrative Office of the US Courts. "Creation of electronic files means they soon may be viewed, printed or downloaded, for a minimal fee of seven cents per page, by anyone, at any time, through the Internet," the statement reads. "Should electronic case files be protected from unlimited public disclosure, or should they be treated the same as paper files?" The rude masses are invited to chime in on that question at the US Court Web site during a comment period scheduled to run until 26 January. The issue is not a new one for the US court system: last December, the federal judiciary blocked APBnews.com from publishing the financial disclosure forms of federal judges on the Web, even though the forms were public records freely available in hard copy. The New York-based crime site filed suit, and the judiciary relented in March. Among the options now under consideration: removing personal information from public court files; making portions of the files available at the courthouse but not on the Web; or changing the rules on public disclosure in bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy cases provide a particularly rich trove of information because federal law requires debtors in those cases to provide intimate financial details, including bank account and Social Security numbers, and requires that the information be part of the public record. In the past, obtaining those files required a visit to the courthouse and paying out copying fees of as much as 50 cents per page. As the US Department of Justice noted when launching a study on financial privacy in July, "individuals who obtained individual case files from the courts were those willing to spend considerable time, effort, and sometimes money." Today, debtors' names, addresses and Social Security numbers are available free over the Web from some US bankruptcy courts, including those in Virginia and New York. Typing "Smith" into one court's search engine produces a list of over four thousand names and Social Security numbers from cases dating back as far as seventeen years. © 2000 SecurityFocus.com. All rights reserved.
Kevin Poulsen, 01 Dec 2000

Virus prevents you asking for help

A virus which blocks victims from reaching antivirus web sites or even emailing for help is spreading around the internet after laying dormant for weeks. MTX was first identified in August and was thought to pose relatively little risk, but its clever design is now leading to widespread problems. November statistics from antivirus vendor Sophos will show the virus produced the most calls to its help desk during November, although these figures are skewed by the fact victims had no other means of asking for help. The virus, which is also known as Apology-B, arrives as an email attachment with a variety of different names designed to entice careful users into opening it including NEW_NAPSTER_site.TXT.pif and the cunningly titled IS_LINUX_GOOD_ENOUGH!.TXT.pif. Opening the attachment triggers an infection. The virus replaces wsock32.dll with a modified version which monitors network traffic. When the virus detects the user sending an email, it will send another to the same recipient. The message will have no subject or body text, only an attachment. The virus also has the ability to open up a backdoor on a victim's machine. It places a file, called MTX_.exe, on a victim's hard disc drive which, once executed, tries to connect to a website and download further programs to run. However the bug's most sinister feature is that a user will be prevented from accessing antivirus website from an infected machine or sending emails to specified security firms. The bug has one very sinister feature: once it infects a user, it's programmed to stop the victim from visiting antivirus Web sites and sending "mayday" emails to antivirus companies. Users can be infected by MTX only if they haven't updated their antivirus software for the last two months. The growing prominence of MTX, and other viruses which have lain dormant for weeks before raising their ugly head, shows that people aren't applying this simply procedure. ®
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2000

Three people charged with Sun server burglaries

Three people have been charged with burglary following the arrest of eleven men suspected of stealing computer hardware from City banks earlier this week. Some of the suspects are still been questioned by City of London and Metropolitan Police officers in relation to robberies of five major banks in the City and a host of internet firms. During a string of raids since March computer equipment worth an estimated £15 million was stolen, much of it the form of processors and memory from Sun servers. Police are believed to have questioning the men about a break-in at Deutsche Bank on 23 November where 49 pieces of equipment was stolen worth £1.6 million and the bank lost a further £25 million in business due to the disruption. According to a recent study by the Association of British Insurers, computer theft now costs British firms £1 billion a year The most sought-after parts on the black market are made by Sun Microsystems, but kit from Compaq, Dell and Cisco is also highly prized in the digital underworld. ®
John Leyden, 01 Dec 2000

Best of the Rest: porn, school troubles, death, more

Computer engineer commits phone suicide Hi, I suppose it's just a typo in your article (halfway through 3rd para), but I would like to suggest that a "used Eugene" enter the English language as a new phrase to describe a recent suicide. Jay Linn. Micron issues profit warning Subject: Micron The shortfall is because they know when they lose the Rambus case they are going to go bust fat boy! I hear a normal Brit eats fish and chips for lunch while you eat a whale and a potato field! HA HA HA HA HA! News sites panic over P4 glitch Here we go again. How can the #1 semi-conductor ship a chip without the correct bios ? They've been doing this for over a decade now- its nothing new. They are not a startup co. that's trying to get its act together. They have ABSOLUTELY no excuse for this snafu. The REAL point is that Intel is no longer a credible co. Even if their technical competence were not in question and their products are bug-free ( both questionable assumptions), they have shown utter disregard for customers. They have either deliberately shipped incomplete, buggy products (Pentium 3 and pro) to gain competitive edge or shipped defective products through oversight- both these raise serious questions of credibility with businesses. And to think you berated Sun for their memory cache problems ! How many semi-conductor manufacturers 4 years ago (when US 2 was designed) took into account cosmic rays' effect on their products? To put THAT in perspective, Intel has KNOWINGLY shipped bug-ridden, incomplete products time-and-again ! Vasu Muppalla Thomas replies: No they haven't. The only boards with the old V3 BIOS are pretty old themselves - and like I said, my P4's been running hard for 2 weeks using the 'buggy' BIOS and has never missed a beat. It's a non-story written by non-journalists. At least Intel publishes lists of errata, unlike some chip makers who pretend they don't exist. If you don't like the products, don't buy them. Not liking something doesn't automatically make it crap. I don't like BMWs but that's just my personal preference, it doesn't mean they're rubbish. Cheers Andrew Vasu replies: Andrew, Do you know how much hassle it is when you buy such a product? Who's responsible? Can you contact Intel? HP? No, you've to go thru Best Buy whose best expertise in such affairs is shipping it back to the OEM ! All these 'middlemen' make pennies on the m/c while M$ & Intel laugh to the bank with gross margins that are hilarious just to ponder. Yet, they bear the BRUNT of flak and support. Intel MUST be made more accountable for their products - it shouldn't be just a rat-race to the bank for them. Sure wall-street is to blame partly for all this but that's true for all companies and Intel must carry out their responsibility to customers also. 'Stuffing' products not ready for the market yet is NOT fulfilling that responsibility. Regards, Vasu Muppalla Leechnet: the porn Napster ALLLRRIIGHHT!!!! This is exactly what the world needs, all the porn you can handle in one convenient location. Now that I've got that cable modem I just set up a newsbot and let it run 24/7 Oftentimes the downloader is about 5 files ahead of the decoder. Most of it's crap though. Wade through it clean of the hardrive and let her go again. I can fill up a 4 gig driven in about 48 hours. How about the legal implications thought. If you have a picture of that porn star (can't remember her name) that was underage and lied about it, sitting on your shared folder and someone uploads it BINGO, you've broken a law much bigger than some stupid copyright infringement. Trafficking in child pornography. Based upon American law on child pornography. They could create a file containing child pornography, post it on the service, and let people grab it. Bing one law broken. Then do periodic searches on that filename, find everyone who has It, download it, and bing another law broken. Actually if done right it could be a good thing, grab paedophiles pretty easily. Do you think John Law will do it right? You thought Napster was going to be fun, wait till this gets into full swing. Wait till the Christers get wind of this. OOOOOOWHHHHEEEE are we going to have some fun. Erik UK school gags 'IT-minded' pupils Yeah, well I'm not surprised. My 14-year-old son goes to Notre Dame, and he's just been forbidden use of the Library and Computer systems for allegedly threatening to assassinate the Librarian with a bullet in the head (s'true, I swear...). In fact, he had simply asked for books about the Kennedy assassination, interested in history as he is, but why let education get in the way of paranoid hysteria? Keep up the good work. [Name removed for the good of a young man's future] I am writing in regard to your coverage on the story on Pyeah.com. I in fact I am a member of the team and I would just like to thank you for the coverage. I am the person that got the sole blame for the pictures, and am meeting with my headmaster on Monday. Just to inform you, although it is not necessary to amend the story in anyway, that we decided as a team that the best option would be to hibernate the site until things have calmed down a little. Well thanks again for covering the story, and is it ok, if I put a link to the site on pyeah.com? Yours James Irvine Guns disguised as mobile phones I WANT ONE!!!!!!!! But it would be even better if it worked as a real phone too. Hell we have problem of people road raging over others using cell phones while driving, this is the perfect answer. Currently I have to remember both my gun and my cell phone. What a convenience to have both in the same package. I'd definitely want it to be bigger than a .22 though. And due to its short barrel design accuracy wont be great so I'll definitely need more rounds. : ) Erik [again :-) - Ed]
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

Fake Flames and other flame-based letters

Man oh man, You are such an inflamed asshole. The putrid rot from your friggin' limey teeth must get into your brain to make you say such stupid things such as " but hey, there's a big trailer trash hoedown in the Mid West this week, so choice has been limited". My grandma can come up with better insults than that. You guys obviously don't check your cultural facts before shooting of your idiotic fetid teeth laden mouths about things. FYI, the southern U.S. has the most infamous trailer park trash hoe-downs in the country... Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, to name a few, are prime trailer trash territory and as such, victims of our cultures considerate ability to make fun of and shame a significant portion of our population. (Though, Pennsylvania does have its share...) Your reporter's ignorance is again highlighted by your egregious lack of enthusiasm for the facts. Keep up the good work. JH Tulip sues Dell over alleged $17bn patent infringement That is the most preposterous suet I have heard of for quite some time considering my ten year old computer is an AT type computer. Maybe Tulip should go out and try to patent the wheel, but they can't do that since someone else a patent on the wheel. At least they have the common sense and decency of not trying to extort royalties on a patent that never should have been granted. Jay Namon [This is great] Just wanted to say, I don't know what your site is about, I don't know much about The Register. But the flame section really caught my eye. It kicks... The flames you guys get just plain rule. (In a good way, not saying you should get flamed, but I think its funny how many people hate people more successful then them). P.S. Also saw something on the Redneck Americans... it sorta pissed me off, it don't matter though... You dirty brits piss me off anywayz... I think that's partially why I want to move to the U.K.? Love The Register. You guys are as suspicious and cynical of everything as I am. Congrats on your hate mail. But please stop clubbing with the baby seals. They can't dance and keep drinking these weird herring and vodka things. Yours in Microsoft hating, Intel bashing, pro-Macintosh (not necessarily Apple), sneering at the PC world, baby seal clubbing, etc. Shane Looker The Reg - a reader's guide I FEEL THAT I MUST WRITE THIS E-MAIL TO COMPLAIN THAT THE WELSH ARE JUST AS GOOD AS WRITING IN GREEN CRAYON AS THE REST OF THOSE ON YOUR DESPISED LIST. Disclosure - I'm an AMD investor. Over the past several months, I've read your stuff and observed a rather intense bias towards Intel products, and therefore against AMD's products. One reason I know that you're biased is because I'm objective enough to notice that some of the other Reg writers have an AMD bias. Everyone has their biases, so I've taken it in stride up til now. However, your "1.7GHz Athlon - too hot to trot?" article has crossed some lines. In this article, you have gone from being biased to being either ignorant or deceptive. The following facts contradict your assertions, and are easily confirmable: * 1.5GHz (not to mention 1.7GHz) Athlons will NOT be produced using the current TBird core. * The Palomino core is planned for ~Q1, and features significant improvements on power consumption - THERE WILL BE A MOBILE VERSION! * Athlons and Durons are not clock locked! * AMD processors have had significantly more headroom than the P3 since the introduction of the Athlon. One does not need to rely on rumours (as you suggest) to confirm this, since there are many web sites dedicated to overclocking. This is further evidenced by the 1.13GHz recall, which was pushed too high (the failure that caused the recall is typical of CPUs that are overclocked too far, and the same core stepping is still used for 1.0GHz P3s). It is true that K6-X and older AMD processors had less headroom. * Your comment "Above that, any extra power thrown at the processor is simply converted into heat rather than producing any useful work." conveys some serious misunderstandings. I suggest you check your source on this, as I doubt they know what they're talking about, or perhaps they are trying to mislead you (eg. sell the P4). The comment is probably alluding to P3 memory bandwidth, and is only true for a tiny minority of applications. In any case, the issue has nothing to do with the issues of your story. Since your title is "Hardware Editor", and you have generally accurate knowledge of Intel's workings and technical issues, I am inclined to believe that you must have known some of the facts I have mentioned. If your level of ignorance about AMD's products is so high that all these facts are news to you, then you have no business writing such an article. From your other articles, it seems like you spend a fair bit of time poring over various roadmaps. How did you get this one so wrong? Are you that lazy, or are you an Intel investor trying to bolster your net worth? (I haven't noticed the Reg disclaimer about not owning shares being written about recently). I await your reply. Ryan Zindler Yahoo! Nazi tech expert backtracks "The truth of it is that a balance needs to be struck between freedom of information and the rights of all nationalities not to have others' views imposed upon them." Having others views thrust upon them? Who's having anything thrust upon them? Last I checked, my web browser didn't grab me by the collar and drag me over to yahoo.com! Nobody is forcing French citizens offended by Nazi memorabilia to visit the Yahoo auction site and view the material in question. The only people imposing anything on anyone are the French courts. And congratulations. Normally on the net ringing up Hitler and the Nazis is all that's necessary to declare a discussion dead. You've had to go beyond that, and find something even more objectionable. Child porn. This has nothing to do with child porn. The objection to child porn is that it can't be created without child abuse. That is why it's illegal in so many countries, not because people are alarmed by a pattern of light and shade. There's absolutely no parallel here. Oh, if you were talking about lampshades made of Auschwitz victims or Swiss coins made from genuine holocaust dental fillings, maybe you'd have something, but a cow doesn't cae if its skin is made into an SS officer's jacket or a British bomber jacket. No, that argument would be better aimed at Nike or Reebok than Yahoo.
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

Recommended site of the Week

Lovely Lucy somehow found this site today and read a few of the entries out. It was soon realised that we'd stumbled on something magical. Put simply, this site observes the wonderful, abstract and surreal world we inhabit through short clips of overheard conversation and wall scrawlings. Try it, you might like it. It is www.inpassing.org.
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

KT133 mobos herded on to review cattle train

A herd of KT133 platforms has been gathered for your inspection over at Anand's. I'd tell you who wins but then why would you click through? (For people without stamina, the winners page is here. Now, don't say we never do anything for you.) Dan, of DansData, gets his pen out for Australian IT again and reviews a couple of MP3 players. Watch out for a roundup on his own page soon. SharkyGames takes a look at the Nintendo GameCube. After all the hype about the PS2, frankly this is quite refreshing. This is only a preview - so don't get too excited - and questions are being asked about where it will fit in the market. A wee nibbit from Tyan about their upcoming dual-processor (SMP) Athlon Socket A motherboard, posted on Athlon MB today. Check it out if that is your thang. Then, the crazy boys down under have obviously been let out of the asylum again. Insane Hardware has posted some stuff about parallel computing. Whaddaya mean, "where's the hardware angle?" ® If that isn't enough for you, Check out our archives
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Dec 2000

German problems – telecoms and dodgy dotcoms

Deutsche Telekom threatens to withdrawn flat-rate Net access Letsbuyit no longer illegal in Germany? Hi, You've asked whether Deutsche Telekom would be the most arrogant phone company in the world. Oh yes, they certainly are :-). I wish these suckers would read this. I've suffered them for years, and they still are the only DSL provider in my area. I've heard that BT are no heroes, too, as friends from England told me. However, comparing the two, BT would be a far second on the shit list. Regards, Martin There is another interesting piece regarding the problems outlined in your article "Deutsche Telekom threatens to withdrawn (sic) flat-rate Net access" which I'm not sure whether is mirrored in the Oftel/BT dispute. DT is currently trying to roll out DSL ("T-DSL") across the country in a massive operation - it is hard to walk by a bus stop without noticing one of the "High-speed Internet" ads posted everywhere. Anyway, their push has been hit by some supply problems with the DSL modems, and possibly with a shortage of qualified tech people as well to update the local exchanges. As a result, there is currently a massive backlog of DSL orders for them. One reason why people are going for this (apart from the obvious: speed) is the fact that DT offers a reduced price for a DSL-only flatrate: it only costs 49 DM per month, as opposed to 79 DM for the analog/ISDN/DSL combo that has been investigated by RegTP. So the argument of DT (that only came up after the RegTP decision) goes about like this: The analog/ISDN flatrate was only meant as a transitionary offer while they were trying to get data traffic off the circuit-switched network and onto the always-on DSL. They claim that the RegTP decision now forces them to pour money into updating the capacity of the outdated analog/ISDN network for an indefinite period, while they would much rather spend it on expanding their DSL infrastructure. As a final twist, DSL access through DT's own network is currently available only for subscribers of T-Online, DT's own ISP, while negotiations with AOL and others are stalling. Meanwhile, RegTP mulls whether they even have the authority to regulate DSL at all... Anyway, having received my DSL account well before the current rush, I am personally in the situation of a curious bystander. :-) Ciao Marcus I think the most important fact concerning this German Law is the kind of business it covers. This law is only important for business to customer deals, not for business to business deals. Any producer of goods will negotiate individual prices with his business custumers. Therefore the "Rabattgesetz" und "Zugabenverordnung" have no relevance to this kind of deal. I agree, a German producer would most properly have no chance in any open market, when he had to offer equivalent prices for all of his customers, but this is not true. Where both laws have to get attention is with business to customer deals, where "fixed" prices are given by a dealer, which can only be changed slightly by a customer. But do you really think business to customer markets are open? How many times have you bought your everyday needs at a company with no seat in Britain? Sure, there may be some people who do so, but these people are a minority. I'm sorry, I forgot about exact data, but most of all attempts to shop online fail, mostly because of technical insufficiencies on the dealer side. Therefore (have you ever ordered anything from overseas by phone?) I think of business to customer markets as closed markets and can see no reason why any German company could get in troubles because of our customer protection laws. Maybe it could get a problem in say 5 to 10 years but, to be honest, I don't think, the Internet is as important as some people would like to have it. Too many (ir)rational fears keep the Internet from getting any real importance with deals. Of course this is just my very personal opinion. Also my very personal opinion is, that the falling of these two customer protection laws has nothing to do with any open or closed markets. It's more an (successful) attempt of huge companies to get rid of some very nasty laws, preventing additional profits. A German price tag is a fact. You know, you have to pay the amount, written down and your only chance of getting more for less is, let's say a mouse for an complete computer or a pair of shoes with Your new doll. That's all. At the time, these laws fall, any worker at "media markt", "Promarkt" or "Saturn" (some of these high tech discounters) will know two prices, the one written on the price tag and the other one, the "minimum price". His job will no longer be to inform customers but to keep the price as high as possible and therefore keep profits as high as possible. This is something, small shops have difficulties with. The only chance for them to survive is (as they can't get these fantastic mass discounts while buying their goods (as I already mentioned, these laws have no meaning in b2b deals)) to provide superior information. But what happens, when these small shops have to double their dealers to provide both, the time to inform an customer and the time to negotiate the price? Perhaps it's just the fundamental change, I fear, but some things, I really enjoy will no longer be possible. When I'm in need of a product, no matter, what it's price is, I can rush out 30 minutes, before "Ladenschluss" (no 24h openings in Germany) and buy it. No fear to pay too much (if I'm familiar with prices of different shops). Not yet. But what if I have to have half an hour just to negotiate the price? Or, the other way round, save half an hour and then get to know later, I could have saved a serious amount of money. Jonathan Schmitt
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

Readers' Letters: porn, fake flames and Reg bias (again)

[Good bunch this week. Have a shufti, pick your favourites, send them to your friends or relatives. Kick back, open a tinny, watch some shit TV, go out, sleep. Do it again. And then we'll see you back on Monday] German problems - telecoms and dodgy dotcoms Case of the DTs Fake Flames and other flame-based letters Anger is one of the funnier emotions Best of the Rest: porn, school troubles, death, more Pretty disparate bunch, but worth it, oh yes Recommended site of the Week A new and irregular feature Flame of the Week: a truly derailed man The calm before the storm
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Dec 2000

CIA sacks four in secret chat room hack

The CIA this week sacked four employees, suspended ten, and yanked the security clearances of nine contractors who had hacked the Agency's networks and set up a secret chat room in which they exchanged "inappropriate" e-mail and other materials. The hack had involved some 160 participants over the years and went undetected since its beginnings the mid-1980's. One member of the Senior Intelligence Service and three others have lost security clearances, "rendering them ineligible for continued CIA employment," the Agency said in an internal memo. Eighteen others received letters of reprimand and are likely to be suspended without pay for periods of five to 45 days depending on their level of involvement, the Agency said. Eight employees were exonerated, and seventy-nine others with "minimal involvement" received warning letters, which are not nearly as bad as the dreaded letters of reprimand. The nine contractors who lost their security clearances will be unable to accept CIA contracts in future. "Every effort was made to understand and distinguish the role, knowledge and responsibility of each participant," CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield is quoted by the Washington Post as saying. The Agency's heavy-handed response to a minor infraction is most likely the product of bad press surrounding CIA security in the wake of former Director John Deutch's appalling mis-handling of sensitive data on his home computers. The fact that upwards of 160 employees maintained a secret chat room on Agency computers for roughly fifteen years is clearly a badge of shame for an organisation which prides itself on technical savvy and information-gathering prowess. ®
Thomas C Greene, 01 Dec 2000

PlayStation 2 e-tail warning in US and Canada

North American watchdogs have issued a warning about two Web sites claiming to have the elusive and eminently desirable PlayStation 2 console in stock. The Better Business Bureaus in the US and Canada took today's step after receiving complaints from punters who had ordered consoles from dotcom The Playstation Store, a subsidiary of Canadian-based CIS Networks, but had not received them. The e-tailer's sites, www.ps2storusa.com and www.ps2storecanada.com, are not authorised Sony retailers, according to Sony. Today the US site in question was advertising PlayStation 2 consoles "in time for Chrsitmas [sic]" at between $394 and $599. One of the more worrying aspects of the Canadian site was its request that customers fax photocopies of both the front and back of their credit cards, the BBB noted - opening card holders up to potential fraud. The BBB urged surfers, keen to grab one of the scarce consoles to pack into this year's Christmas stockings, to check out companies before they hand their money over. In related news, a London-based company is under investigation for a similar alleged scam. Police are looking into a Docklands-based company called Games Master which accepted payment for PlayStation 2 consoles from UK punters by cheque. The cheques were cashed but the consoles never arrived, according to ZDNet. The company's telephones were switched off today. ® Related Stories Sony way off target on PS2 shipments Desperate Brits bid online for PlayStation 2s Sony cuts UK PlayStation bit allocation from 128 to 28 Sony behind PlayStation production problems
Linda Harrison, 01 Dec 2000