6th > December > 2000 Archive
UpdatedUpdated Notorious Canadian cracker kiddie 'Mafiaboy', the sole unfortunate scapegoat in the much-hyped distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks which shut down Yahoo!, eBay, CNN and Amazon back in February, has been placed in custody once again after being suspended from high school for cutting classes and being otherwise beligerent and annoying to his teachers. Terms of his bail had allowed him to live at home and continue attending classes so long as he held to strict conditions of behaviour, which included avoiding other boys deemed to be a bad influence, keeping his hands off computers and being a model of decorum at school. Due to his lapses, he is to reamin in custody until a court appearance later this week. Otherwise Mafiaboy is giving the Feds a fair run for their money by insisting that during any eventual trial, the government must reveal whatever lame little script he's accused of using to cripple the proud Titans of e-commerce. The lad has struck a nerve with Canada's twitchy Feds, who apparently dread the thought of uncovering in open court what three minutes spent with a search engine will reveal in vast multiple rewards. Mafiaboy is looking for a deal which would exclude any time in the slam, and is banking on predictable reluctance among the self-anointed leaders of the mighty IT revolution to testify publicly and in detail as to how a teenager humiliated them with a prefabricated script. His lawyer, Yan Romanowski, has indicated that he's ready to challenge everything the Feds have on his young client, from server logs to wiretap transcripts, and drag the victims through gruelling testimony on precisely how they were made monkeys by a 15-year-old. Indeed, if Romanowski can turn the trial into another O.J.-esque media circus - and he's threatening precisely that - the Canadian Feds will be hard-pressed to convince would-be copycats that making the Chief Technology Officers of, say, CNN and Amazon look like a lot of dithering morons is anything less than the coolest thing on earth. Hence the Feds' willingness to contemplate a plea arrangement. However, they are expected to dig in their heels over at least some jail time for the notorious lad. US Attorney General Janet Reno, you see, indulged in a bit of public triumpahalism back in April when Mafiaboy was arrested, and the Canadians know better than to disappoint her. ®
There's intense speculation this morning that Freeserve has struck a deal with French ISP Wanadoo. Both Freeserve and Wanadoo have suspended share dealing this morning - a sure sign that something's afoot. Elswhere, the BBC reported that both companies have booked a room in the Baltic Exchange in the City of London. Why? Are these two separate companies going to provide a running commentary on the Queen's Speech - or are they going to announce that someone has finally taken Freeswerve off Dixons' hands. A spokeswoman for Freeserve said the ISP was due to make a statement later today. Both companies have been linked as possible bedfellows for some time now so the move comes as little surprise. Two weeks ago Freeserve confirmed that it was in talks with another player which "may or may not lead to an offer being made". But it added that it was "unlikely that any such offer would be at a substantial premium to Freeserve's share price". With any luck, the waiting should soon be over. ® Related Stories Freeserve confirms sale talks French 'want Freeserve'
Sony's remodelled PlayStation console, the PS One, is saving the company's bacon this Christmas, as gaming punters snap it up because they can't get PlayStation 2s. According to US market researcher PC Data, which monitors the retail sales channel, the PS One topped the console sales chart for the week ending 25 November. It took 42 per cent of sales. Sega's Dreamcast took 27 per cent, while the Nintendo N64 accounted for 26 per cent of sales. The PlayStation 2 took just six per cent of the market by sales. Sega hoped that problems with the supply of the next-generation Sony console would boost its own sales, and that seems to be the case. No one expected the PS One to top the charts, however, based as it is on old technology. Clearly, the wide availability of PlayStation games - and some hefty marketing - is turning gamers to the PS One, many of whom presumably expect to upgrade to the PlayStation 2 later and take their PS One games with them. Whatever buyers' reasons, Sony is doing very nicely out of it - and if that's not an indication of the supreme confidence of its marketing machine, nothing is. PS One sells by the shedload, nicely covering the company's arse while PS Two is so hard to come by - early indications suggest it's shipping in even lower quantities than expected - while demand for the PS Two is kept bubbling along nicely. When, presumably, many of those new PS One owners will upgrade. Nice work if you can get it... ® Related Stories GameBoy outsells PlayStation 2 Sony way off target on PS2 shipments
One of our regular AMD informants emails to confirm that the forthcoming Athlon Palomino is indeed exceptionally cool. "You can put a finger on it while its running," he states. Regrettably we are not told if this is one of our mole's fingers, or one belonging to someone he doesn't like very much. As someone whose promising rock'n'roll career was brought to an untimely end by a bizarre accident with a finger and an early Pentium III prototype in an Intel lab, such cool running can only be applauded. ® Related stories Fan-free Athlon Palomino 'runs at 1.5GHz' 'Super silicon' outfit confirms AMD link AMD tests 'super silicon' to beat heat 1.7GHz Athlon - too hot to trot?
Apple admitted last night that it too is being hammered by the industry-wide decline in PC sales - to the extent that it will make a massive $225-250 million loss for its current quarter. Apple now expects top post revenues of $1 billion for the three months to 30 December, the first quarter of the company's 2001 fiscal year, more than a third off its original target of $1.6 billion. It's also well down on the previous quarter's $1.87 million. For the full year, Apple is now looking at revenues of $6-6.5 billion, well off last year's $7.98 billion. Eroded margins - thanks to rebates and price cuts - will push the company into its first loss in three years. "The net loss is the result of the revenue shortfall and cancellation charges related to decreases in forecasted component purchases for current products," said Apple's statement. In short, it's paying for cancelling contracts for parts it no longer needs. Apple has, however, plenty of ARM shares it can offload, so it may well use them to turn the headline figure into a profit. The company's statement blandly described the market situation as "disappointing". That barely does it justice. Gateway recently said it expects its revenues to plummet and one-off charge to push its anticipated profit into a loss. Dell hasn't been feeling too well of late, and neither have many other PC vendors. Gateway's CEO, Jeffrey Weitzen, said last week he expects the post-Christmas quarter to be one of aggressive price competition as PC vendors battle for what little business is out there. Apple, with its traditionally more-expensive-than-Wintel pricing, particularly at the high end of its range, is likely to be hit very hard in that period. "It has become increasingly apparent that the market for personal computers has slowed well beyond our earlier expectations," Apple CFO Fred Anderson admitted yesterday, and added that the company doesn't expect to see a profit until the last three quarters of 2001. And CEO Steve Jobs said the company plans "to return to sustained profitability next quarter". We wish him luck - he's going to need it. Part of the solution will be to minimise all the kit languishing in the company's dealer channel, but that may mean further price cuts and higher advertising bills - Anderson said the rebates and price cuts made so far will have a $135 million "unplanned sales promotion costs" impact on earnings - which won't help margins one little bit. In an uncharacteristic admission, Jobs said mistakes "of our own making" had been made. "We are still recovering from shooting ourselves in the foot with a sales force transition in July... we plan to come back very strong when the next education buying seasons begins this spring," he said. And Apple "completely missed the boat" on CD read/write drives. "We just blew this one," Jobs commented. "It will be fixed soon," he added, with some "amazing new hardware under development that will reassert Apple's leadership in several key product categories". The new kit should also tackle the megahertz gap between PowerPC and the x86. "Even though our Power PC processors are actually faster than Intel's fastest processors for [are] slower," Jobs said. "We are very aware of this and plan to introduce models with faster megahertz processors in the coming months - this is all on track." That's a reference, we reckon, to Motorola's PowerPC G4 Plus, which is believed to have entered production this past summer. ® Related Stories Apple sees growth despite depressed sales Apple Q4 earnings to take a kicking Apple offers cash for Cubes Gateway in PC price war gloom
Yousef Khalidi, Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer, Full Moon chief architect, and Register reader took us on a ride through the history of Sun Clusters 3.0 yesterday. First as might be seen by visiting aliens, and then from a programmer's perspective. Which was nice: plenty of detail gets left out even from the "technical spec sheets" that accompany press launches these days, and so to counter the Net Effect™, here's the RegEffect™. First of all, Khalidi wanted to clear up the impression that the new offering introduces a new proprietary cluster file system of Sun's own making. It doesn't. Khalidi himself had hinted at this possibility in recent talks, such as this one: "next-generation clusters could rely on a Cluster File System (CFS) to enable global access to all files, devices and network resources in the system, and create a full single-system image." But that isn't the case. "That was an explicit design decision. The last thing we want to do is invent a new proprietary file system. So if something becomes important - like the new Linux file systems - we can plug it in." Sun Clusters 3.0 indeed employs a "Global File Service", but that boils down to using Solaris' native file system and if you want it - and if you use disks on non-Solaris systems, you almost certainly will - Veritas VxFS. He left door open for Linux file systems to plug-in to Full Moon in the future. A bicycle made for two... er, eight nodes So what does Sun Cluster 3.0 most resemble, when viewed from space? For the sake of argument, is it more like Tandem NSC or say, VAX clusters and its spiritual descendents? "It's both shared-nothing and shared-everything. It's shared-nothing in that the hardware topology can be either. But unlike most everybody else, ours does not require a fully connected SAN," says Khalidi. However it requires no modifications to the existing applications, which is probably the biggest difference between it and systems based on VMS-ish distributed lock manager (DLM). "A DLM is several things.. an API. We've been talking to ISVs for five years and these ISVs already write for a DLM for VAX, Oracle has its own lock manager... that's fine. But they don't want another API," he says. It's a measure of the enduring legacy of the world's first commercial cluster from DEC that Yousuf (and Sun's marketing lead Andy Ingram) referred to it as VAX, or VAX-like throughout. Even though the technology is now called VMSClusters or TruClusters, migrated to Alpha many years ago, and VAX systems are no longer in production. "To implement locking Sun Cluster 3.0 we use simple Unix APIs. With either the Solaris file system or Veritas' file system." So programmers can map data across instances of the Solaris OS - the standard Unix way of sharing memory across nodes - although this isn't encouraged as an IPC mechanism. DEC...who? Nor does Sun Clusters mirror processes in the manner of Himalaya (formerly Tandem) NSC machines. Instead, the system logs file behaviour: open, read, write and sync calls. So this avoids duplication, argues Khiladi, but preserves everything but session state information. And any real transaction will be obeying these semantics, so that's OK. Since the socket calls that Internet applications use follow Unix file semantics (although yes, we know, IP preceded Unix), that ought to be pretty watertight. That's just one of several fashionable, or once-fashionable approaches to clusters that the Full Moon team was happy to trample in the design work. Another being "process migration", an approach adopted by for example the MOSIX Linux cluster project, which in the event of a node failure, fails over individual processes. "That was removed from the prototype - on purpose," says Khalidi. As for Compaq's nest of clusters, "Is that five or seven clustering products they sell?" he asks. Most Q users are still using TruClusters 4x, even though when the analysts last did looked at their scorecards, Compaq's TruCluster 5x was top of the pops. Sun doesn't want to cede that Compaq has any traction in the internet business, and so it's been written out of its own product comparison sheets completely. And it still requires "quirks" as he describes them, such as requiring Q's ADFS to do read-write access. The design goal was to cluster-enable bog-standard Sun kit and applications that are already in use, over standard interconnects (SCI is on its way), using skills that any BOFH can relate to (such as mounting file systems). Anything special that the competition may boast, goes the line, is a "bragging competition". Those patents in full... Forty patents have been applied for says Khalidi. He mentioned process active pair technology (which we know nothing about, but if anyone wants to enlighten us...), mini transaction technology (ditto) and interesting quorum techniques. Quorum is commonly understood in the parallel processing world to be the way a cluster decides who comprises membership of the collective, although Sun's definition is different. Quorum isn't about membership, and Khalidi prefers fencing to quorum for this. He says that the heartbeat code, another staple of HA cluster planning, actually runs at the highest process priority, rather than being some ad hoc or add-on process, which we thought was interesting. In fact, the toughest problems the team had to crack he said, were around heartbeat issues. Not the "someone's just yanked out the Ethernet cable" but where a node goes quiet because it's under a high-workload. Trawling around the patent database we found plenty of patents which involved Full Moon 3's precuror's: Khalidi's Solaris MC system in particular. That was a clustered Solaris using CORBA for message passing. Specifically stuff about recovery, clustered file systems and memory mapping. Anyone want to fill in the blanks? ® Related Stories Sun goes shoplifting for Christmas Clusters
AltaVista's dismal dalliance with providing Internet access is finally about to come to an end. The company's subscription free service in the US funded by ads is to be pulled on 10 December. The company said it was forced to take the action because "the company who provided the service and telecommunications infrastructure, 1stUp.com, is going out of business". What AltaVista fails to mention in an otherwise bleating letter to its customers is that 1stUp.com is part of the CMGI company - the same as AltaVista. According to reports, CMGI announced last month it was to close 1stUp.com - although finding any record of such an important announcement on CMGI's Web site proved elusive. Indeed, to find any "bad" news on CMGI's site was tricky. So much so, if I was an investor who knew nothing about CMGI, I'd reckon they were quite an attractive bunch. Amazing what a lot of editing can do. In a bid to make things right, AltaVista has negotiated a special rate for its customers to transfer their ISP needs to MSN - for an initial discounted price of $0 a month for three months. After that, punters will have to pay $21.95 a month. In an email signed by Ken Neibaur, VP, marketing, AltaVista, he whined: "We regret to inform you that AltaVista's free Internet access will terminate service on 10 December. AltaVista thoroughly investigated finding another supplier to provide a free Internet access service. However, we were unable to find a company that was able to meet the needs of our members." Still, at least the US enjoyed a subscription free service from AltaVista - even if it only lasted 16 months. In the UK, AltaVista promised a service but failed to deliver. Better to have loved and lost... ® Related Stories US surfers want free ISP access AltaVista takes on US market with free service AltaVista brings free ISP model to US mainstream
Just when you thought it was coming to an end, another chapter has opened in the US election Saga. While all the national papers report that Gore will be conceding any day now, the online debate rages on. Both camps have now started petition sites where disgruntled voters can register their support for either candidate. This latest spat was started by the Democrats who set up the Count Our Votes site. Gore supporters can send a form email complaining about the vote counting, register to have their names on the "Democracy Wall of Ribbons" and find out that they should wear an orange ribbon to show their support for Gore. It says "The Florida State Legislature may not want to hear your voices, but let them see that you want your vote to count." Stirring stuff indeed. Meanwhile, Republican JC Watts has added a petition section to his site where Shrubya's fans can add their names to the list of people who want Gore to shush and concede the election. Watts says to Gore that conceding would be the "honorable" [sic] thing to do, and that his doing so would allow America to move forward. All this shows two things very clearly. American politicians are mad, and the US voting system is at least as silly as ours. ® Related Story Voters turn to St Chad for election solace
French ISP Wanadoo has agreed an all-share offer for Freeserve valuing the British ISP at £1.65 billion. The offer values each Freeserve share at 157p - a modest premium of approximately 11.2 per cent based on last nights closing price of 141.25 pence per Freeserve Share. As a result of the all-share deal, Freeserve's parent, Dixons, will become the second largest shareholder in Wanadoo with a 12.7 per cent stake in the enlarged Group. John Pluthero, the CEO of Freeserve, will join the executive committee of Wanadoo as part of the deal. In a statement, Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Wanadoo, said: "This agreement with Freeserve is a tremendous step forward in terms of our international growth strategy. "It makes us the number one ISP provider in two of Europe's top three e-economies." Pluthero said: "The additional resources of a large international group, combined with our ongoing relationship with Dixons will create new opportunities and accelerate the development of our core business." ® Related Stories Freeserve and Wanadoo to tie knot? Freeserve confirms sale talks French 'want Freeserve'
It looks as if California's leading law firm, Rambus, Rambus and Rambus, is spoiling for a fight with Intel. The company is still smarting from Craig Barrett's remarks about the Rambus/Intel relationship being a mistake and his criticism of Rambus' litigious nature. Rambus CEO Geoff Tate spent some time listing his Intel counterpart's indiscretions during an analyst call last week and the Mountain View company has now apparently called into question Intel's ability to design a chipset. In Rambus' Form 10K filing to the SEC, dated 30 November, lurks the following passage: "In the PC/workstation market, Rambus memory technology is used to provide a high memory bandwidth connection to Intel Pentium III processors. The connections are provided via Rambus memory controllers, which are a portion of two chipsets developed by Intel. One of these chipsets, designed for use in the PC workstation market, has been highly successful and Rambus technology is now fully established in this market. "The other chipset, intended for the much larger main PC market has been less successful due to a variety of factors including inherent bandwidth limitations of the chipset design and relatively high cost of RDRAMs compared to standard memory." A Rambus spokeswoman confirmed that the 'highly successful' chipset referred to was the i840, and that the 'less successful' one was the i820 Camino. Asked what 'inherent bandwidth limitations' the SEC filing was referring to, she replied: "This is related to the mismatch with the FSB at 1.1GBps and RDRAM at 1.6GBps. The full potential of Rambus technology is not being used." It is of course no great surprise that Rambus would cite the design limitations of an Intel chipset as having more of an impact on market share than the high price of RDRAM, but having a poke at the poor old Caminogate chipset is about as hard as getting a Reg hack to have a drink. We asked an Intel spokesman what he thought of Rambus' criticism: "The Intel 820 offers 'only' 1.6GBps. Regarding the bandwidth limitations, the only thing which could make sense in that context is a limitation in respect to the 3.2GBps with the Intel 840. If the writer sees that as a limitation, I would be surprised to hear that, but it is a free Europe where people can express their opinions." Rambus' SEC filing also contains remarks which could be construed as casting doubt on the integrity of Pentium 4's Tehama i850 chipset. "In connection with the introduction of its new processor, the Pentium 4, in late 2000, Intel has designed a new chipset which includes a Rambus memory controller. There can be no assurance that previous problems have been completely solved [our italics], that the pricing of Rambus DRAMs will be reduced to a competitive level or that the Intel chipset and Rambus technology will be successful in penetrating the market segment for PC main memory." The Rambus spokeswoman denied that this was a suggestion that there might be unsolved problems in the 850 chipset: "This is not related to technology at all. As a standard statement required to protect the company (similar to a forward looking statement) it can relate to such things as market penetration or supply." The Intel representative added: "The Intel 850 doesn't have any issue with Rambus, or the processor and Rambus. So I don't know what the writer is referring to." ® The Rambus Files Rambus CEO surprises world+dog We are Borg, er, Rambus Rambus dropped Hyundai case to avoid tough judge Intel slams Rambus toll collecting tactics There is no 'F' in Rambus Rambus piles pressure on Infineon Rambus asks feds to stop Hyundai Rambus takes aim at AMD and Transmeta Rambus, Intel, Dramurai reach end game Naughty Dramurai back DDR to hilt Rambus threatens non-compliant Dramurai
Retinal scans, long the mainstay of biometrics identification technology, could have a little competition in the form of iris recognition, a new technology developed by Alpha Engineering. The system was developed in conjunction with researchers at Yonsei University's computers and biometrics labs. The group claim it is so accurate that the if the world's population was entered in an iris database there would be only a "small chance" (a very impressive bit of statistical data) of false rejection of mistaken acceptance. It is based on a monochrome camera that uses both visible and infrared light. The camera can account for the changes to the iris and the eye, inevitable aspects of living tissue, and algorithm can account for dilation and contraction of the iris, once its boundaries have been located. The company said that its system would be sold for around ten million won (just under £6000) - considerably less than rival products. It expects the technique to have applications in all areas of security, from online banking to remote health diagnoses. Alpha Engineering said that it would continue its collaboration with the research teams at the universities. ® Related Link Alpha Engineering Related Story Pocket lie detector spots phone phoneys
Intel US has followed Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific in extending its Intel Inside programme to small system builders selling white box desktop and mobile systems. The chip behemoth has set aside $10 million to contribute up to the cost of print and website advertising. Since its inception some ten years ago, the programme had been restricted to large OEMs. Intel will reimburse up to two thirds of the cost of print ads, as well as costs for certification training and Web site branding. Dealers will be allocated ad dollars based on processor purchases. To qualify for the programme, resellers must sell and brand systems that use boxed Intel processors and successfully complete special training. The company has also introduced a technical solutions training series to provide dealers with training and technical backup. Currently, 800 Intel dealers in 27 US cities have signed up. Intel has been operating a similar scheme in EMEA for over a year, according to an Intel representative. ®
Freeserve's soon-to-be French owner, Wanadoo, is already up to no good by exploiting British journalists Those hacks who couldn't attend today's hastily convened press conference in London were given the choice of taking part in a telephone conference call supplemented by a slide show on the Web. Except they were asked to dial a French telephone number. That's right. British journalists, in Britain, phoning a French telephone number to hear a conference being held in Britain. What's more, the conference didn't start until 11:53 (GMT) - 23 minutes later than scheduled, forcing British journalists to hold while the cost of the phone call escalated. One reason could be that France Telecom - Wanadoo's parent - might be trying to recoup some of the cash it's shelled out for Freeserve. But it's a worrying precedent. Let's just hope Wanadoo doesn't divert ordinary Freeserve Net calls via France or there will be hell to pay. ® Related Stories Freeserve and Wanadoo get hitched Freeserve and Wanadoo to tie knot? Freeserve confirms sale talks French 'want Freeserve'
Wednesday Arrived at Oftel bang on time. But what a day! Had another meeting with BT over this and that - and felt intimidated. Again. Just can't seem to assert myself in front of an audience. I'm fine in front of a mirror. In fact, intimidated myself the other week with a really hard stare. Gosh, I was powerful. Menacing, even. Course, can't do that now - not with this twitch I keep getting every time things get a bit hot under the collar. Note for later: must remember to practise extra hard look in front of the mirror tonight when I get home. Just keep telling yourself: "I am David Edmonds. I am the winged watchdog...gggrrrrrr. I AM the winged watchdog...gggrrrrrr." Thursday Could only do two-and-half hours last night because I lost my rag. No, really, I lost my rag. Well, my comfort blanket. I couldn't find my silky - I've had it since I was a baby. It's always been there for me. So I had to hunt high and low for it. Eventually found it in the bin. Can't think how it got there. Still, then I got really mad when I opened my phone bill. Couldn't believe how much it was. It's outrageous. Someone's got to do something about this. Friday Had a meeting lined up with Patricia Hewitt - but she cancelled at the last minute. How do you convey a sign in a diary? Saturday It was raining so I stayed in. Sunday Went for a walk. Spent the afternoon pondering why you never see baby pigeons. Monday Have a meeting with BT tomorrow about why they're bungling loop the loops - whatever that is. Been told it's important. Oh well, if I have to, I suppose. Apparently, it's really big stuff. BT's boss, Sir Peter Bonfield is going to be there. Nice man - a bit flash though. Intimidating. Now I must remember, "I am the winged watchdog..." Tuesday Do you know all the birds are dying because the worms are drowning? It's true. All the rain we've had means that the worms can't breathe. They're drowning. The ground is just too waterlogged. It's a calamity. No more beautiful birdsong, no more beautiful birds flying beautifully in the sky. And what are people doing about it? Nothing, that's what. This is a crime - a natural disaster that tops any earthquake or suchlike. Maybe this is how the dodo's were wiped out. Imagine it, no robins, no thrushes, no tits. Spent the morning trying to get a slot on the BBC news at lunchtime. Can't believe they weren't interested. Do they know who I am? That's right, I am the winged watchdog. And I told that Jim bloody Naughtie so. Missed the meeting with BT - far more important things to do. Wednesday Have you noticed that the bulbs are already breaking through the surface? It might be winter but there's life all around if you know where to look. You'd expect crocuses this time of year, of course, but, amazingly, there are daffs too. Surely, it's too early for them. Still no sign of snowdrops. Oh, and one of the heathers has just started flowering too. Managed to dig around in the mud and save a couple of worms - I think the birds were grateful. ®
Microsoft has opened its cheque-book to secure the rights to what it reckons will be showcase games for its upcoming Xbox console. Yesterday, the software giant said its had bought Digital Anvil, though it wouldn't reveal how much it had spent on the deal. DA will join Bungie, FASA Interactive and Access Software, all now part of Microsoft's games division and all feverishly working on titles that will play to Xbox's strengths. DA's contribution will be its current work-in-progress, Freelancer, a space combat game and the successor to the company's previous release, Starlancer. It's also working on a second Xbox title, but that has yet to be announced in detail. The company's founder and CEO, Chris Roberts, will leave the company when Freelancer is done and dusted. What's not yet clear is whether the Austin, Texas-based team will head up North to Redmond, as was the case with Bungie. Like Access Software, Digital Anvil has a history of developing games that Microsoft then distributes under its own name, such as Starlancer. ® Related Stories Micron, Microsoft partner on Xbox RAM Microsoft buys Myth maker Bungie
A trial of an alleged mafia boss will test whether the FBI surveillance teams are entitled to plant keystroke-logging devices on the computers of suspects. Nicodemo S. Scarfo Jr., 35, the son of the jailed former boss of the Philadelphia mob, faces charges of masterminding a mob-linked bookmaking and loansharking operation. A key aspect of prosecution evidence was obtained by FBI agents who rigged his computer in order to be able to monitor every keystroke. This was necessary because conventional surveillance on Scarfo, who used to work for a Florida software firm and is considered something of a geek, was frustrated by his use of the encryption program PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). According to US reports, Scarfo's lawyers will challenge the admissibility of this evidence in a move that will make him the first defendant to challenge covert computer surveillance by the FBI. In a pre-trial motion defence lawyers for Scarfo argued that federal investigators misused a search warrant to install a bugging device on Scarfo's business PC. Monitoring the keystrokes entered into the machine allowed investigators to find out the password Scarfo used to access an encrypted program which, it was suspected, he was using to store gambling and loan-sharking records. Civil liberties activists argue that the widespread use of the techniques used against Scarfo extend current wiretap laws and would be open to abuses that violate privacy. "Anything he typed on that keyboard - a letter to his lawyer, personal or medical records, legitimate business records - they got it all," said Donald Manno, Scarfo's lawyer told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "That's scary. It's dangerous," he said. The use of keystroke-logging devices in the Scarfo case was revealed by The Philadelphia Inquirer. However it is not known whether software loaded onto a computer, an attachment linked to the keyboard part of a PC or a 'bug' inside the keyboard was used in the case. The most sophisticated, and least likely to be discovered, of these techniques is the bug. The case throws up the issue of whether technology is evolving faster than laws regulating the privacy and individuals. It also highlights potential gaps in the capability of the Federal government's controversial Carnivore e-mail monitoring techniques to effectively obtain information from the very types of people it is designed to monitor. Scarfo faces trial early next year on charges he ran an illegal gambling business that took in more than $2000 a day and that he used extortion to collect loans. ®
Reports from Taiwan suggest that 600 and 700MHz mobile Durons could launch before the end of the year. And about time too - Intel's had things pretty much its own way recently with the mobile Celeron out-punching the venerable K6-2. Chimpzilla is also due to launch a mobile Athlon at 1GHz sometime in Q2 2001. AMD seems to have taken a leaf out of Chipzilla's book recently, with a tendency to separate a launch and product availability by weeks if not months, so don't expect to be able to buy a Duron notebook until the back end of January at the earliest. ®
It's one thing having faith in one's products, but that faith should not be of the blind persuasion. In an interview in Hong Kong yesterday, Intel boss Craig 'Five Speeches' Barrett told Bloomberg that the Pentium 4 is the "undisputed king of microprocessors". Asked to comment on analysts claiming that poor execution had given AMD time to catch up, Barrett replied: "I think we have some great technology to compete with people like AMD, Transmeta, the people who are in our microprocessor space. We just introduced the Pentium 4 microprocessor. It's had a great introduction. It's a new micro architecture. It has a lot of performance headroom. We introduced it at 1.5GHz. It's the undisputed king of microprocessors right now. It will be well over 2GHz next year, so it gives us a lot of headroom at the performance end." Now, we quite like the P4, but there's no way it's the king of microprocessors today. It has the potential to become great - when it hits two or three gigahertz. But at the moment, a lack of optimised software (something Intel has always been crap at providing for its new processors) is holding it back. An Athlon or Pentium III still provides more bangs per buck right now. And Barrett was also scathing about Transmeta's claims for its Crusoe mobile processors: "If you go back to the mobile processor family where we compete against people like Transmeta, we introduced the Pentium III processor family with some speed step technology. You can scale down the performance and scale down the power consumption. We think we outperformed Transmeta, both in performance and in power consumption in the mobile end. "So we think we've really covered the spectrum of products from the very high end to the laptop end in the processor family. But I'm comfortable with that product lineup now." Barrett is entitled to be bullish about his company's products, but should remember there's a fine line between 'bullish' and 'bullshit'. ® Related Barrettisms Intel boss delivers speech Intel boss slams Rambus 'toll-collecting' tactics Barrett: 'Microsoft breakup won't affect industry' Intel apologises to Dixons for 'high price' jibe The Reg guide to interviewing Intel
Game players can now sign up to receive clues to playing a Star Trek game in text messages via their cell phone. The availability of the service for the recently released game, Star Trek Deep Space Nine: the Fallen, is an industry first according to Simon & Schuster Interactive (S&S), the game's publishers. This service will allow gamers to emmerse themselves in the Star Trek universe even whilst they are away from their computers. Gamers can sign up for the service on the game's Web site, which exhorts people to turn their cell phones into Star Trek communicators. The service, valid in the US and Canada only, will begin broadcasting free text messages on 11 December. S&S are also working with its partner on the service Add2Phone, to create a distinctive ring for cellular phones that will alert players of fresh messages. We can understand the benefit of Sega's recently announced plans to develop games for Motorola's next-generation cell phones but the benefit of receiving random cheat messages passes us by. Receiving a message such as say, Major Kira can get a power boost to level four by touching the orb, particularly when at the time of receiving it the player is not playing the game, doesn't stike us as useful. This is to say nothing of the possible embarrassment factor of your phone playing the DS9 tune whilst in the midst of non-trekkies. And as for the idea people might want to emmerse themselves in the Star Trek universe - we can only paraphrase William Shatner and say "get a life". ®
Dell is to refresh its server and service offerings to business customers. The direct selling giant also announced a new version of its OpenManage Software. Dell will expand its range of products for Web servers, application servers and database servers over the next quarter. The Web server tier will get a couple of rack-mounted two-way Intel-based servers - the PowerApp 110 for the cheaper end of the market, available in January, and the PowerApp 120 for the higher end, due in February. Dell will also proffer a PowerEdge 1550 for its application server tier in January. It will have a 1GHz Intel processor and cost $2599. In February the vendor will start offering a lower end PowerEdge 350 at $1499. Regarding the database tier, Dell has decided to repackage a 32-processor Unisys ES-7000 server, which will be re-branded as a Dell 32-way PowerEdge server early next year. The Texas company also introduced version 6.0 of its OpenManage system management software, which will replace HP's OpenView software in Dell's future server offerings. Dell said it wanted to give rival Compaq a run for its money in the services department. It will start pressing ahead with a fresh batch of services to big business customers from January. These will include consultation services for infrastructure design and assessment. ® Related Stories Dell fumbles open source desktop gambit Tulip sues Dell over alleged $17bn patent infringement Dell punters hit by PC delivery scam Intel ships 6000 Itaniums
One of Britain's leading newspapers challenged the role of the monarchy today promising to back a legal challenge to the 300-year-old law banning Roman Catholics and other non-Protestants from succeeding to the British throne. The Guardian claims that the Act of Settlement, adopted in 1701, breaches the Human Rights Act and should be "reinterpreted or removed from the statute book" completely. This is serious stuff that could rock the constitution of the United Kingdom and undermine the very foundation of its socio-political system. Furthermore, the issue goes to the very heart of the democratic process in Britain and has unimaginable consequences - regardless on which side of the fence people stand on such an important matter. Such is the importance of this subject, the Guardian opened the debate to the readers of its award-winning online publication, Guardian Unlimited. As of 16:02 GMT, the "Monarchy debate" had attracted 90 submissions - just three behind that other important Guardian Unlimited Debate on "shaving advice" and how to avoid that "a horrific zitty rash". ®
At last the truth can be revealed - the terrible and dark truth about what exactly is going on in our GN Netcom Bluetooth competition photo. We also have a winner. More of that in due course. First, let's peruse some of the more noteworthy captions submitted by Reg aficionados. Dismissed outright was this effort from Dmitry Luybchenko: Dear mister's!!! Hello! From RUSSIA! Please, send me Bluetooth! please! No money! Russia! Get a grip on yourself man. We know things are bad over there, but to be reduced to begging for kit. Disgraceful. Also, you have to submit a caption with your snivelling. Next up are those who failed to get the 'funny' bit of the competition and went straight for the 'caption' option: It really looks like a surgical proceedure on a human knee or hip replacement surgery, noted Chris Ward. Pundalik Nayak was equally challenged in the funny department: Is it some sort of remote surgical intervention using a mechanical arm? Young Sylvia worried us a bit with: I think it is an air conditioning / heating unit. Sylvia, we understand, we really do. Inevitably, the old US presidential Florida chad fiasco provoked a few possibilities: Looks like Al Gore is trying to pull a few more votes out of some Florida residents' rear ends, before they get flushed like the other 19000 votes did, said Tony Kaser. Misha Gravenor went further: Clearly this is a photograph of democratic ballots being stuffed into Dick Cheney's chest cavity. He really didn't suffer froma heart attack - George Bush and Katherine Harris devised the plan as a secure hiding place for 1000 or so votes in Gore's favor, a theme developed by Charles Derden: It's a hanging chad being used as a shunt in Dick Cheney's heart surgery. Who did you lot vote for then? Anti-Bush stuff was completely overshadowed by the vitriol some of you splashed over Rambus. This picture is of a new device for removing Rambus lawyers from your ass, seen here in operation. Please note that this has yet to be successful, snorted Hernan Alvarez. Vulture Central spies capture delicate moment in emergency operation to remove Rambus corporation's head from own arse, agreed Steve Fenton. Bitter, bitter words. And that's the printable stuff. Still, Mr Fenton is to be applauded for getting a Vulture Central reference in. This is always a good move if you want to see your name in lights, as David O'Flynn's El Reg staffers extracting the truth from BT spokesman, proves. Ray Raddatz added a note of pure libel with: Judging from the tubing and organic material, I would have to say it's a Reg staffers liver replacement surgery. After months of reading your publication, I've concluded that most of your staff is often pissed and may have impaired liver function. You cheeky monkey - we at the Reg shine out as beacons of journalistic sobriety. Honestly, your Honour. I know you've all been waiting for the filth, so we'll slide gently in with Giles Crawford's: It's an Oxfam-hosted S and M session! Shame on you, Giles. F. McIntyre reckons that: The girl in the photo is learning French online with her professor who is at la sorbonne. He says he wishes Bluetooth was available online. 'But it is,' says our girl, at www... Actually I don't know whether that's dirty or just plain barking mad. Definitively dirty is Vincent Giovannone with: Now that we have the outer labia successfully out of the way, we can identify the object this lady has impaled herself with. My God! It's a dildo made entirely out of C4. EVACUATE! EVACUATE! FIRE IN THE HOLE!! Dear me. Better take a leaf out Jim Magdych's book and stick to loin-stirring nostalgia: Clearly, it's a bottle-feeding baby badger in a bonnet... Although the 'bottle' looks suspiciously like a statue of the Virgin Mary that I once broke (entirely by accident, mind you) while visiting a friend. Yes, I'm forming a mental picture of this one too... Enough, I say, enough. Time for some results. The runner up (yes, there was no runner up, but he can have a Reg shirt for his fine effort) is Allan MacLean with: The photograph shows a finalist in the Paralympics midwifery championships. A very nasty thought indeed. Nevertheless, the worthy winner is Mark Ledger's Surgeons finally manage to insert a bluetooth unit into a test pig. Doctor Doolittle can now truly talk to the animals. Well done that man. One Bluetooth headset on its way. Thanks as ever to all who entered, and to GN Netcom for the kit. Oh yes, nearly forgot. The photo is of a vet giving a horse some serious stick with an equine dental rasp. But you knew that.®
IBM is already prepping its first Itanium workstation, and claims to have 209 applications certified to run on the system. The system is code-named Rattler, according to a report by Infoworld, and is tipped to take pride of place at the top of Big Blue's Z-Pro workstation line. IBM execs expect it to ship the first day the Intel 64-bit chip is available - expected in Q1 of next year. IBM also plans to make the system available with versions of Linux from Red Hat, Caldera Systems, Turbolinux and SuSE, and is meanwhile testing it with its former Monterey - now AIX 5L - operating system. The company will try and sell the workstation for uses such as data warehousing and computer animation, and it is chuffed with the 209 applications it has certified and tested on the platform. IBM officials claimed this number was around four times that of its nearest rival. "No one will throw their production environment on [Itanium] on day one. But it will be a great platform for people to get their feet wet in the environment, and position themselves for 64-bit computing environment," said Rick Rudd, product manager for the Intellestation Z-Pro workstation. ® Related Stories Bleeding Itanium technology Itanium set for March launch Intel ships 6000 Itaniums Latest Itanium has infernal kernel
WIPO has continued its march toward control of the domain dispute market, taking 68.5 per cent of all cases in November - up from 66 per cent in October, 63 per cent in September and just 48 per cent back in January. How it is doing this is no secret - it consistently favours big business and celebrities over anyone else (complainant wins 67.5 per cent of cases; 15.8 per cent are settled or terminated) and reaps the benefit of publicity. These details and many many more like them have been supplied by the Syracuse University Convergence Center, which has produced a report on the whole Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy and come up with some suggestions on how to improve the system. The report is careful not to criticise too heavily, but does note that the two biggest of the four ICANN-approved arbitrators - WIPO and NAF - "tend to interpret the UDRP in ways that favour trademark holders over other Internet users, whereas eResolutions decisions tend to adhere more closely to the strict language of the policy". eResolutions takes a 6.5 per cent market share. The basic conclusion of the report is that the wording of UDRP is solid but the system that has built up around it needs updating. The main problem is the complainant's ability to choose which arbitrator the case goes to, so it is obviously in its interests to go for one that rules in favour of the complainant. The Convergence Center looked at the options and decided a system where the registrars choose where the case goes is the best system. There's a whole lot of other stuff in the report which people interested in this side of things will find invaluable, including some snappy stats, which we'll shove below. Individual cases are also quickly reviewed and dodgy decisions exposed. In short, good work Syracuse. ® The number of cases filed per month peaked at 343 in August and has since declined to about 250. For every domain name registration dispute, approximately 3,500 new names are registered. Disputed domain names are registered, on average, a year and three months before being challenged. Many names are challenged only two weeks after registration; the oldest challenged domain name was registered in 1989 - and the complainant won. One third of all cases are defaults (ie. one party didn't turn up); complainants win 98% of those cases. Related Link The Syracuse report Related Stories WIPO madness round-up Who the hell does WIPO think it is?
Bill Gates has got the full weight of the law onto a Caribbean businessman who registered the software chief's name as a trademark. Eric Vigneron, a hotel promoter on the French island of Martinique, trademarked "Bill Gates" with France's Intellectual Property Institute back in January 1998. His reasoning was that the trademark was made up of two generic words: "Bill" - received for monies owing, and "Gates" - entrances or doors. Unfortunately for Vigneron, the software billionaire didn't agree, and today a court on the island started investigating his complaint that the hotel promoter "fraudulously registered his [Gates']patronymic name as a trademark", AFP reported. Gates wants the trademark made illegal (on the grounds that it undermines his own right to use it), while his lawyer reckons Vigneron is trading off the confusion between a name and a trademark to take advantage of the Microsoft fame. Vigneron's lawyer pointed out that the trademark was not linked to the IT sector. The squabble continues, with the court due to deliver its pre-Valentine's Day verdict on February 13. Alternatively, judging by William Henry Gates III's penchant for exotic homes, he could always try and solve the problem by just buying the island. ® Related Stories Gates buys piece of pineapple paradise Gates doesn't quite name Whistler Windows 2001 Gates: PCs make you rich but won't feed the world Who's the most powerful IT exec in the UK? AOL's Case is more important than Gates
AOL top man Steve Case has said that his $110 billion purchase of Time Warner is in the "home stretch" with the announcement it will make some more concessions to the FTC. The FTC is expected to submit its latest report next week and Case's comments are clearly an attempt to pressure the FTC to bring the situation to a close at long last. Arrogant to the end. Whether the FTC will pay any attention is another matter. Case's previous attempts at hard bargaining have been largely dismissed (thank God) by the commission whose only interest is to make sure the merger won't damage the market and give it an unhealthy amount of control. Unlike that other unending American dispute - you know, deciding who should be president - the FTC is in no particular rush and those involved aren't tired of it. However, Steve said at a press conference: "I guarantee you we'll have this company before the new president is inaugurated" - that will be on 20 January (or so they say). Related Stories AOL/Time Warner agree to next set of concessions AOL, Time Warner confident of merger success
Game PC reckons its found the P4 board all other boards will aspire to be, and a worthy alternative to Intel's D850GB i850. The Asus P4T i850 board was the P4's get out of jail free card according to this lot. They use the phrase "nothing short of astounding", so check it out. TweakTown has posted a missive on overclocking AMDs K7 stuff. After churning through this 14 page monster, the tweakers promise you will know everything you need to know to hit megahertz you never knew existed. Two new reviews over at Rolotech. Firstly the Elsa Gladiac Ultra, and secondly the Diamond MX300. And if that wasn't enough, they are giving away an Elsa Gladiac video card with a set of wireless 3D Revelator glasses. Thankyou Santa. Finally, One2Surf are claiming a first with their review of the ABIT VP6 - RAID motherboard. To say that they are fans (not in the rotating sense) would be something of an understatement. Check it out here. ® If you are still feeling silicon-challenged, check out our archives for more hardware stuff than you could shake a stick at.