28th > December > 2000 Archive
HW RoundupHW Roundup As wor Lucy Sherriff is still tucking into turkey, we've decided to guest-up the hardware roundup for a few days and see what's happening out there on the Wibblesome Wobblesome Web. Asus is getting a right good drubbing over at these threads. The guy who discovered the 815E lurking under a heatsink was told by the people who flogged him the mobo that he'd invalidated the warranty by so doing. Catch 22. He took time out to talk to both Asus and Intel, with intriguing results... Is it just me, or is Anandtech not so much fun as it used to be? Time was when you'd dip into there and find some pretty good stuff about Anand talking about his homework, what was happening at college and the rest. Now it just seems to be full of undeniably good stuff about boring old CPUs and the like. Give us the human interest stuff again Anand! By the way, it was fun meeting your mum in Taipei! And stone us, Hard OCP looks a bit different too. OK, they've got a heap of stuff on massive coolers and all that good stuff, but c'mon Kyle, go blow up another PC or two, or slag off everyone else in the industry including us or something. You know it makes sense! There is, however, a very nice piece about a new stepping of the Pentium III on this page. At AMD Zone, co-editor Chris Tom is looking forward to another year, after a lightning bolt downed his cable modem. Chris has started an interesting log called Austin Tech News. He might be interested in a feature in our Sunday national The Observer, which had a piece on the amazing lengths Austin residents go to deck out their homes for Yuletide. Unfortunately, we can't find the article on the Observer site, but maybe the boys and girls will stick it up there for the benefit of Austin readers. Hey Chris, lightning strikes, the police arresting you, Dell firing you? Maybe 2001 will be better, eh? JC, over at JC's pages, seems to be operating his Web site from a mysterious location away from New York. Can't quite figure out where he's going to spend the New Millennium, or for that matter spent Yule... hope it's warmer than NY in winter... ® Wanna wibble and wobble through previous issues of our Hardware Roundel? Get you then to this place to see what's been happening afore.
A 17-year-old student on a two-week placement has saved a printing company from bankruptcy after his Internet prowess secured contracts worth up to $1 million. British A-Level student Adam Hughes was sent to Martin Mulligan UK to learn a bit about the world of business. During his two-week stint at the barcode printing outfit he suggested they get an e-commerce system, and almost overnight saved the company. Orders, including a $100,000 order from the US to provide bar code tags in several major airports, started flooding in from overseas. The teen has single-handedly transformed the Merseyside business - which was on the verge of bankruptcy and pinned its marketing strategy on mailshots and the phone. Company boss Martin Mulligan was so chuffed with the lad, who is studying business and history at St Edward's College in Liverpool, he even offered him the role of head of marketing for the US arm of his business. "We were lagging behind the competition and were really struggling to stay afloat when Adam arrived," Mulligan told The Times. "The company was on the verge of bankruptcy as we were unable to secure deals in the overseas market." "And now we expect to net more than $1 million from the Internet-based ordering system that Adam was solely responsible for." Adam confessed he was amazed when he landed at the company and found no online operation. Although he said he was flattered by the job offer, which would have placed him in Philadelphia, he turned it down. He wants to go to Liverpool University to study architecture. ® Related Stories World's youngest pump and dumper 'did nothing wrong' Dotcom lad gets drunk after year on the wagon Kid hacks school comp on teacher's dare Kids give up fags for mobiles
Episode 42Episode 42 BOFH 2000: Episode 42 "So what you're basically saying is that your hardware is the most reliable stuff we're ever likely to buy, and all your competitors' stuff is built by intellectually-handicapped child labour in the Third World from parts that were discarded from your factory for being unreliable?" The PFY slurs. "Yes," our host and vendor slurs back, gesturing wildly at the promotional material with his glass and leaving a semicircle of lager on the floor in it's wake. "We produce the best stuff!" I love vendor Christmas parties - the way they cut through the crap and get to the truth of the matter. "Fair enough!" the PFY cries. "In that case we should cancel yesterday's order and get it straight into you as soon as possible." "Sooner, if possible," our salesman responds, seemingly still in a position to reap the benefits of a pre-Christmas bonus opportunity. "Well if you had a form I spose I could fill in the blanks and get the boss to sign it," the PFY responds, not too far gone to crash our alcohol gravy train. "I'll just go print one!" the salesman slurs, stumbling in the direction of his office. Seeing a vacant customer with several drinks under his belt, another sales vulture #2 swoops immediately, obviously not wanting to miss the opportunity of a sales theft. "Where's John gone?" he asks, faking concern like a trooper. "Ah, he said he wasn't feeling too well. I'd just asked if he wanted another round," I respond, waving my almost empty pint around. "We were looking at buy some ki.." "I'll get you - both - a drink," he cries. "Great. Mine's a lager, with a Tequila Wallbanger chaser if they have one." "Me too," The PFY adds. Exit Salesperson number Two.. "Tequila Wallbanger?" "Yeah, They'll wonder if we want a Tequila Sunrise or a Harvey Wallbanger and end up getting us both." "I don't think I can manage either of them!" "Oh I'm not going to drink them - it just buys us a little time." "Time? For what?" "Hi, I'm Dave, Sales Director for Large Business. I don't think we've met!" [Enter Vulture #3] The PFY latches onto my plan as the Sales Director goes to check out the food's going and grab a couple of Lagers and Scotch and Tonic...and another Vulture drops in from on high. "Some form of competition?" he murmurs. "Yes, I think there's some sort of bonus riding on the party.." #4 wanders off to get the Fan Speed specs for that floor full of machines we're thinking about buying - to make sure that their combined output isn't going to upset the climate control system in our building. (Okay, so I'm starting to clutch at straws.) "Here we go," Vulture #1 drools, returning with a sheaf of papers, "All you need do is full in the number of machines, sign on the dotted line, and we're sorted!" "Excellent!" The PFY blurts. "B-but where are the Infra Red Mice? And the ergonomic keyboards?" "Be right back," he mumbles, heading back out the door at warp factor 0.003 after a nasty encounter with the door frame, half a foot to the left of where his eyes told him it was. #3 is back next, with Lager and G&Ts, obviously making a director-level decision about what we wanted - probably after seeing a poacher on the grounds.. He departs to get further info on the menu once we assure him that #1 was only showing us the start of the novel he's working on about a Microsoft Executive and a couple of showgirls. #2 and #3 jostle a bit as #2 returns with the three drinks apiece I predicted. "So have you thought any more about the kit you were looking for?" he blurts, not wanting to appear too eager, whipping out a catalogue just as #4 returns with the wind thrust ration of the cooling devices in question... . . . "You started a fight between salespeople with our Major Supplier!" the boss gasps incredulously. "A fight which ended in a Sales Director being taken to hospital with bruises over 40 per cent of his body!!!!" "That wasn't us!" The PFY replies quickly. "Once he went down half the place put the slipper in. Apparently he wasn't liked much, especially by the majority of women in the place." "You realise their sales force is decimated by the suspensions? That they're probably going to lose tens of thousands of pounds in sales?" "Yes, I suppose so." I admit grudgingly, waiting for the inevitable... BLOODY BRILLIANT!" The Boss cries, breaking out a bottle of brandy hitherto hidden in the expansion slot area of his machine. Sneaky Bastard. "You can't PAY for that sort of job satisfaction!" he continues, filling a couple of tumblers happily and sharing them about with a large portion of Christmas cheer. "Some form of grudge?" "Yeah, used to work for them. Changed my Large Business sale area to Bristol, then dropped me for non-performance. Now tell me, did you order anything?" "We sort of felt obliged to get a couple of desktops after everything that happened. I suppose you'll want to cancel them because of our lack of purchase approval." "Certainly Not! Now tell me, did you get Standard Terms?" "I suppose so," I respond, digging out our copy of the order. "Excellent - Guaranteed 10 working days delivery! We'll pursue that legally next year when they don't deliver." "How do you know they won't deliver?" "Oh, it's practice to hold all orders of suspended staff till they can be confirmed with the client. So remember, no answering the phone now. But one thing, were you two responsible for any of the bruises on my former boss?" "Well, one or two," The PFY ventures. "Well, he did try and sell us some refurbished P-II 300s as top line kit," I add. "One or two, you say?" "Each." "Excellent! Another Brandy?" So it's true what they say about Xmas bringing staff and management closer together... ® "BOFH 2000: Kit and Caboodle BOFH: The early years The Bastard has a history, you know BOFH is the Bastard Operator From Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright.
John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has urged users to boycott hardware containing CPRM copy-control mechanisms. Last week we broke a story of moves to build CPRM (Copyright Protection for Recordable Media) cryptography into the industry standard ATA hard disk specification. If implemented, the initiative could rapidly end the use of the PC and new emerging devices for freely exchanging audio, video and information. Users, says Gilmore, should demand a policy declaration from vendors that they eschew "covertly controlled hardware", and only buy products that are truly open, he argues in a post to the C2 crypto mailing list. "No copy protection should exist ANYWHERE in generic computer hardware! It's up to the BUYER to determine what to use their product for," writes Gilmore. "It's not up to the vendors of generic hardware, and certainly not up to a record company that's shadily influencing those vendors in back-room meetings." Gilmore says moves are also taking place to build copy-control into monitors ... BIOSes and the operating systems. Some of these we've heard of but, not all - but if you have then get in touch. "I don't know whether the movie moguls are holding compromising photos of Intel and IBM executives over their heads, or whether they have simply lost their minds," he wonders. Gilmore also argues that by giving their customers the freedom to own digital media - or at least, to decide when they want to own it -hardware vendors stand to increase their own bottom line. ATA drives are not only used in PCs, but in the emerging digital video recorder business led by TiVo and Replay, and are also appearing in MP3 players such as Creative's Nomad portable jukebox. Under the CPRM scheme, local file ownership permissions are trumped by crypto keys issued by the "publisher" of the content, who strictly controls copying, moving and deletion of the data on the local device. The move will also cause immediate problems for PC RAID, backup and file optimisation software, IBM acknowledged last week. Here's the full text of Gilmore's call to arms:- To: email@example.com Subject: IBM&Intel push copy protection into ordinary disk drives Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 13:16:03 -0800 From: John Gilmore The Register has broken a story of the latest tragedy of copyright mania in the computer industry. Intel and IBM have invented and are pushing a change to the standard spec for PC hard drives that would make each one enforce "copy protection" on the data stored on the hard drive. You wouldn't be able to copy data from your own hard drive to another drive, or back it up, without permission from some third party. Every drive would have a unique ID and unique keys, and would encrypt the data it stores -- not to protect YOU, the drive's owner, but to protect unnamed third parties AGAINST you. The same guy who leads the DVD Copy Control Association is heading the organization that licenses this new technology -- John Hoy. He's a front-man for the movie and record companies, and a leading figure in the California DVD lawsuit. These people are lunatics, who would destroy the future of free expression and technological development, so they could sit in easy chairs at the top of the smoking ruins and light their cigars off 'em. The folks at Intel and IBM who are letting themselves be led by the nose are even crazier. They've piled fortunes on fortunes by building machines that are better and better at copying and communicating WHATEVER collections of raw bits their customers desire to copy. Now for some completely unfathomable reason, they're actively destroying that working business model. Instead they're building in circuitry that gives third parties enforceable veto power over which bits their customers can send where. (This disk drive stuff is just the tip of the iceberg; they're doing the same thing with LCD monitors, flash memory, digital cable interfaces, BIOSes, and the OS. Next week we'll probably hear of some new industry-wide copy protection spec, perhaps for network interface cards or DRAMs.) I don't know whether the movie moguls are holding compromising photos of Intel and IBM executives over their heads, or whether they have simply lost their minds. The only way they can succeed in imposing this on the buyers in the computer market is if those buyers have no honest vendors to turn to. Or if those buyers honestly don't know what they are being sold. So spread the word. No copy protection should exist ANYWHERE in generic computer hardware! It's up to the BUYER to determine what to use their product for. It's not up to the vendors of generic hardware, and certainly not up to a record company that's shadily influencing those vendors in back-room meetings. Demand a policy declaration from your vendor that they will build only open hardware, not covertly controlled hardware. Use your purchasing dollars to enforce that policy. Our business should go to the honest vendors, who'll sell you a drive and an OS and a motherboard and a CPU and a monitor that YOU, the buyer, can determine what is a valid use of. Don't send your money to Intel or IBM or Sony. Give your money to the vendors who'll sell you a product that YOU control. - John http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/2/15620.html Since retiring from Sun Microsystems (he was the company's fifth employee) Gilmore has spent a decade campaigning on privacy and free speech issues, advocating the wider availability of strong cryptography, and supporting the GNU free software project. Footnote: We've been inundated with mail since we broke the original story - for which, many thanks - and roughly half of this correspondence requests links and contact information for people to shout at. The T.13 committee which administers the ATA standard, the 4C Entity (IBM, Intel, Toshiba and Matsushita), which owns and advocates CPRM, and John Hoy's LSI, LC all have public websites. Let us know what you hear.® Related Stories Sneaky cable crypto scheme in the works Stealth plan puts copy protection into every hard drive CPRM on hard drives - IBM takes a spin Linux lead slams 'pay per read' disk drive plan Copy protection hard drive plan nixes free software - RMS