26th > January > 2001 Archive

How to make DSL work properly

For about a year The Register's Washington bureau has been one among many frustrated Verizon DSL subscribers. It wasn't our first choice (having already been a profoundly dissatisfied Verizon mobile phone subscriber) but they were the only provider we could get at our location. From day one we had problems, most of which resiliently defied our efforts to correct -- and our loathing for Verizon grew with each passing week. Our "always-on" connection frequently tanked, requiring us to reconnect on a regular schedule. And even while it was up, after a brief time it would inevitably hang for up to three minutes in a suspended state which we, and the notoriously-inept Verizon technical support team, were at a loss to explain. This infuriating semi-outage would occur, on average, four times an hour. More often than not, our Web-surfing was barely better than that to which our 56K modem had accustomed us. While we did notice an improvement in our download rates, we never enjoyed anything like the increase we'd been led to expect. If this sounds familiar to you, read on. We've finally got the sucker to perform according to our initial expectations, no thanks to Verizon. NukePoET The single worst element of Verizon's DSL package is their irredeemably lousy PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet) software -- in our case, WinPoET by Wind River Systems. This positively virological piece of coding garbage accounted for the lion's share of what was wrong with our service. For one thing, WinPoET requires VPN (Virtual Private Networking) support, which has to be set up before the actual PPPoE bugware can be installed. As soon as we got WinPoET set up according to directions, we found that our overall PC performance suffered spectacularly. Big applications took up to three times as long to load as they had previously done; and 3D game performance was significantly degraded, as if we'd dropped our processor speed and HD throughput by half and removed about half of our system and video RAM. It took us a day or two of continual tweaking to get that sorted out. The answer, we discovered, was to clean-install Windows and include VPN support during a custom installation. Otherwise, our system performance was crippled by WinPoET whenever VPN support was installed over an existing Windows configuration, regardless of the order in which we set up our networking protocols and installed Wind River's PPPoE bugware. Having thus got our machine working normally again, it remained to get our "ultrafast" DSL connection to do its thing according to the glowing enticements of Verizon's advertising spiel. This turned out to be a black art which we would never fully master -- we tweaked; we tinkered; we pored over our boot-logs and tweaked again. We never enjoyed more than a minor improvement. Salvation came only when we nuked WinPoET and installed a freeware PPPoE package called RasPPPoE by Robert Schlabbach, which does not require VPN support. So, steps one and two of DSL-Hell recovery are to get RasPPPoE, and then to detoxify your system. For that, you can download and run NukePoET, and then chuck all the networking protocols you enabled to support WinPoET and which you don't need for other applications. Now reboot, relax, and install RasPPPoE. (Win98-SE users get a bonus step: they need to install a patch for one of their NDIS [Network Driver Interface Specification] drivers after installing RasPPPoE but before configuring/activating it.) All right, exhale. You're about to get what you paid for. Finally. Recovery RasPPPoE either solved or mitigated every problem we'd been living with grudgingly since we first started indulging our foolish broadband dreams to Verizon's considerable profit and our everlasting disappointment. We immediately noticed that Web pages loaded faster, while download rates increased dramatically. We then eliminated the maddening hang-time problem by taking Schlabbach's advice and assigning ourselves a static IP (instructions in the RasPPPoE readme file). This step prevents Windows from halting the network adapter periodically to acquire an IP, a routine which also causes Windows to take much longer than normal to boot. We had grown sick of both phenomena. Many DSL providers discourage their subscribers from having a permanent IP because that makes it difficult for them to balance network loads, and easy for subscribers to run FTP servers off their own boxes. Thus in the name of provider convenience, subscribers are forced to endure grossly sub-standard service without apology. But Verizon's convenience is the least of our concerns. We used a non-routable IP address (e.g., 192.168.0.1) and a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0. Thus far we've got no complaints. The hang-time problem is gone. With that much accomplished, we added a few subtle adjustments recommended by SpeedGuide.net, in the cable modems/DSL 'registry tweaks' section. These afforded us a modest further improvement, certainly worth having but hardly as dramatic as what we got from RasPPPoE. The end result for us is a broadband connection which for the first time behaves like a broadband connection. It isn't perfect -- it does slow down when Verizon's pipes are most in demand, and it certainly can't overcome deficiencies in the servers one contacts or the frequent outages in Verizon's user-authentication service; but it works pretty reliably now, and it's pretty fast. And this is all we ever sought from Verizon's DSL service in the first place: a pretty-reliable, pretty-fast connection. It's a pity they chose to withhold it from us, but at least, thanks to RasPPPoE, we've been able to get one in spite of the bastards. ® Related Stories Verizon sued for crap DSL service New Yorkers plot DSL protest
Thomas C Greene, 26 Jan 2001

Microsoft crippled by S'Kiddies

DoS'ing Script Kiddies easily disabled most of Microsoft's major Web sites Thursday, just as the company was recovering from the humiliation of being accidentally taken off line by its own (MCSE?) technicians Tuesday and Wednesday. "During the morning of 25 January, Microsoft was the target of a denial-of-service attack against the routers that direct traffic to the company's Web sites," the company said in a statement late Thursday. The little darlings attacked a router (or "routers" as the flacks insist) which MS had been using to manage DNS (domain name service) traffic, and in so doing rendered the company virtually invisible on the Web from early Thursday morning until the afternoon hours. If the company had in fact been using "routers" (as opposed to "a router") as it claims, and ones properly distributed as is ought, it's unlikely that the attack could have been as effective as it was. According to the Associated Press, only two per cent of traffic was getting through during the attack. The kiddies were no doubt inspired by the amusing DNS cock up earlier this week which also left the company's sites unavailable. In that case, MS had failed to distribute its DNS servers adequately, so that when its (MCSE?) retard(s) misconfigured the relevant "routers", it all flew to bits in a hurry, and stayed that way for quite a while. The router(s) appear to be located on a single subnet, so even if there were more than one in use, the net effect would be to present a unified target to the world. Idiotic behaviour which we might expect from some Mom and Pop on-line outfit, and regard with some sympathy in that case. But the company that would rule the Web needs a lesson in basic network architecture before transcending the low comedy in which it's just now cast itself. ® Related Stories MS blames lowly techie for Web blackout Microsoft brings web sites back into play Microsoft confirms Web site blackout DNS trouble made Microsoft, Yahoo! unavailable How you hack into Microsoft: a step by step guide
Thomas C Greene, 26 Jan 2001

Bonsai Kitten craze sweeps online world

Hardly a week goes by without computer games being blamed for turning people into psychopathic killers, so it was strangely reassuring to see some of these dangerous maniacs up in arms over the spoof Bonsai Kitten web site. After being included as a novelty 'link of the day' on Blue's News, a popular indie site almost as old as the online gaming scene itself, BonsaiKitten.com was soon provoking an inevitable barrage of complaints. "Someone hit an all time low with the kitten page," one reader vented. "That's f#cking disgusting. Sick f#cks like that give the human race a bad name." Said another: "The bonsai kitten link is in really poor taste. I have even more shame at being a member of this species now for having seen it." Blue's News soon removed the link. The site administrator explained: "Although personally I didn't find it offensive (and yes, I do have a cat) obviously there are some of you that do, and I'd rather not offend our readers." So what is BonsaiKitten.com? Well, it's a joke. A very convincing joke. Perhaps even a little too convincing. At first glance it would fool anyone, and even when you're really, really sure it's all just an elaborate wind-up, you still have your doubts. The intro to the site explains: "Though once the sole province of Bonsai masters within Japan, Bonsai plants have been available to fortunate consumers throughout the world for some time. With this in mind, we are proud to now offer to you the animal complement of this art form; the Bonsai Kitten." Worried yet? It goes on: "At only a few weeks of age, a kitten's bones have not yet hardened and become osseous. The flexibility of the kitten's skeleton means that if the bones are gently warped at this early age, they can be molded into any desired shape. At Bonsai Kitten, we achieve this by placing the kitten into a rigid vessel soon after birth, and allowing the young cat to grow out its formative time entirely within this container. The kitten essentially grows into the shape of the vessel!" The site fools so many people because it goes into such great detail, even offering advice for 'amateurs' wanting to experiment with their own kittens. Understandably, this gives rise to concerns that the site's less intelligent visitors -- the very people most likely to fall for it -- may set about sticking kittens in glass jars and leaving them there for a few weeks. There's even an illustrated example of one kitten supposedly being prepared, complete with alarming comments such as: "Kitten was injected with 2mg equivalent dosage of Valium via Ketamine after 12 hr fasting regimen." And explaining how the jars are sealed: "Rear aspect, revealing initialswelling reaction from Super Glue. Rectal diverticulum to side tube usually spontaneously occurs in one week." The owner of the site also runs a letters page, quoting praise and supportfrom (hopefully) in-on-it readers and defending himself against those who find the site distasteful. And the pretence doesn't stop here either. "You are a sick son of a bitch," one letter says. "You are probably Chinese, the most perverse of the Asians." The response: "This message is typical of the bigoted and intolerant individuals that have attempted to detract from our company ever since we started it. It is a shame to spoil our guestbook with this sort of ignorant filth." Apparently started last month by a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bonsai Kitten has been moving around from server to server, as it unsurprisingly attracts a lot of complaints and some web companies are unwilling to host it. There are currently eleven hosts listed that are said to have deleted the site or refused to carry mirrors of it. The new host, Rotten.com, which routinely carries material such as photos of autopsies and car accidents, has given Bonsai Kitten a permanent home, quoting a message from the US Humane Society to ease worried minds: "When this site initially appeared in December, a local humane organization did get involved on a local level in checking out this person, but discovered no evidence of actual animal abuse having occurred." However, the Humane Society isn't quite as positive about the site as may appear from this quote. The society's full announcement says that Bonsai Kitten "depicts and encourages cat cruelty", then explains the attempts made to have it taken down, concluding: "The Humane Society consistently works to increase public awareness of many animal exploitative issues, including those encouraged by many of these sites." Whoever runs Bonsai Kitten is certainly treading a fine line between devilishly clever satire and simple bad taste. But whatever the original intention was, the joke is no longer the site itself, but the outrage it provokes from some visitors. Other sites guaranteed to offend some animal lovers include Cat-Scan.com - featuring pictures of blindfolded cats taken using a flatbed scanner - and several interactive animation sites that allow a variety of cartoon critters to be dispatched using microwave ovens and blenders. And if you really want to delve into the Net's seedier side, there are sites dedicated to one of the more bizarre sexual fetishes, known as 'crush' or 'stomp'. These sites carry pictures and videos of women, usually bare foot or wearing stilettos or combat boots, doing some decidedly unpleasant things to insects and rodents. Yahoo carries links to several 'crush' fetish sites, and even gives them a category of their own. But according to BonsaiKitten.com, a Yahoo discussion group about that site was removed after just a few days. ®
Andrew Smith, 26 Jan 2001

Nvidia licenses AMD LDT bus

Nvidia has licensed AMD's Lightning Data Transport bus technology, as have nine other companies, while 20-30 more are evaluating it, Chimpzilla told attendees at the Platform Conference in San Jose, this week. The Nvidia connection is particularly interesting, given the work the company, which is better known for its graphics parts, is doing on integrated Northbridge and Southbridge parts, primarily for Microsoft's Xbox console. Nvidia admitted last September that it is developing what it calls Media Communications Processor (MCP) for Xbox - and that it intends to offer the part to PC OEMs. MCP combines audio, peripheral I/O and networking controllers on a single piece of silicon. It was originally expected "early 2001", according to Nvidia's marketing manager, Dan Vivoli, at the time, but it's now looking more likely that it won't see light of day before Q2. MCP works with an Nvidia Northbridge part, said to be codenamed 'Crush' that also sports the company's GeForce 2 graphics processor core. LDT connects the two components, and ties them in to AMD processors. Since Xbox will be based on an Intel CPU, there must be some significant differences between the Xbox MCP and the part Nvidia intends to offer more widely, partly to PC OEMs but mostly, we suspect, to would-be set-top box and information appliance makers. At that point, Nvidia will presumably throw its weight behind Athlon. LDT provides 2-bit to 32-bit paths, yielding a data throughput of 100Mbps per bit. The cache coherent LDT specification, which AMD will be using with its Hammer family of 64-bit processors, takes the bandwidth up to 1.6Gbps (see AMD drops EV6 for Hammer bus). LDT is also being used to finally bring multi-processing to AMD's 32-bit CPUs. AMD will launch what it's calling the LDT Consortium next month. ® Related Stories AMD drops EV6 for Hammer bus Nvidia's super secret Crush spec Nvidia to take X-box South Bridge to PC OEMs
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2001

WorldCom to shed loadsa jobs?

WorldCom has refused to comment on a report that the telco is to lay off up 11,500 of its workforce. WSJ.com said the outfit is set to shed between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of its staff citing sources close to the company. WorldCom employs some 77,000 people. It's understood the cuts will come in areas where WorldCom is not performing particularly strongly. However, its business data businesses are believed to be safe from the cuts. A spokeswoman for WorldCom in the UK said: "We don't comment on rumour and speculation." Quite so. But it doesn't take a genius to work out what the chit-chat around the water fountain will be today within WorldCom's little empire. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2001

Flame of the Week You jumped up smug sanctimonious hacks

Re: We know what Ginger is This hot item just in from an anonymous reader - an angry, angry man: ohh look at us, we know what it is, we see through the hype because we're fucking smug and we tell our wives that we love them look at me I've got a wife Jeez isn't modern life shallow why don't journalists have some perspective carried away the sheer sanctimonious up our own arseness gets stuck up my arse your whole fucking site is about gossip and hype or inverse gossip but somehow it's better because it's about processors or operating systems though we're just too big for ginger and no we didn't get carried away on the last internet hype oh we did write a few articles about Clare Swires you jumped up smug sanctimonious hacks just cos you didn't get the story first you have to act like you're too big for it but not too big to write about it in the first place and stop preaching at me it does my head in VOMIT I think you missed inverse hype. Then again, what about inverse loop hype? Then again... No, I'm bored of you now.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

BTInternet flat-fee ISP slips into the water

BTInternet has launched its FRIACO-based 24/7 Net access service today as expected and is marking the occasion with a monster multi-million pound ad campaign. Apparently, the adverts, "humorously depict" BTInternet Anytime surfers forgetting how to perform "real world" tasks like driving a car or using an escalator. Gawd help us. The service costs £14.99 a month for 24/7 unmetered Net access which includes the cost of subscription and all the dial-up Net access telephone calls. Anytime is based on the wholesale unmetered Net access product, FRIACO, which caps the telco costs for ISPs and, therefore, also for end users. Some 150,000 people have registered for the service since December and these people will be contacted with details of how to download the necessary software. In a statement, Ben Andradi, president and coo of BTopenworld, said: "Offering BTinternet Anytime to everyone from day one shows just how confident we are in the quality of our networks and support systems." Yes, Ben, except BTinternet Anytime will also disconnect people from the service after two hours regardless of what they're up to. Just like Le Freeswerve. But not like AOL UK. Interesting. Earlier this week Le Freeswerve launched its FRIACO-based unmetered service. AOL UK's has been running since September 2000. Related Stories Le Freeswerve says 'bonjour' to flat-rate Net access Le Freeswerve, BTInternet go unmetered
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2001

Colour Palm V debuts on Web

The next version of Palm's Palm V PDA has unexpectedly made its debut on the Web. An anonymous leaker sent the pic to PalmStation.com, which is understandably sceptical about its authenticity. After all, doctored piccies purporting to be next-generation PDAs turn up all the time. However, we think the site may have something here. We don't deny the colour screen looks a tad Photoshopped-in, but that's even true of Palm's own official PDA pictures, simply because LCDs, be they greyscale or colour, don't photograph too well. From the pic, we can see that the new V will be called the m505, following the naming convention established with Palm's exsiting consumer-oriented PDA, the m100. Since the colour machine is expected to be called the Vc, choosing m505 for a fake pick shows a level of imagination beyond most fakers. The m505 sports a more silvery shell than the V, with silver application buttons, a grey power switch and a reversed-out data entry panel. The latter, we note, sports a small circle in the top left corner, which we've only seen on the m100 before. We also note that the machine sports a NotePad application, which is currently available on the m100, but not other Palm machines. It also contains the m100's Clock app. Now since all these apps only appear on the monochrome m100, not the colour IIIc, if the pic is a fake, it's a damn clever one - we're not talking cutting and pasting from different screen shots here. The m505's case is subtly more curvaceous case than our V. If it is a fake, we reckon it's simply a mix between a new, monochrome m505 and another new colour PDA - in short the screen and shell pics are genuine, they just don't go together. We may be right, we may be wrong. The upcoming CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany, at which the new Palms are expected to be unveiled, will tell us. ® Related Link PalmStation.com's m505 story Related Story Palm pegs CeBit for next colour PDA launch
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2001

Windows Roundup DirectX 8.0a, IE 5.5 not bugfix looms

ActiveWin has reported the official release of DirectX 8.0a, after Microsoft announced its site was down for the third time this week. But after further investigation and a couple of e-mails, it seems that DirectX 8.0a is more of a developer and/or manufacture release. A reader says that after downloading it, he saw no difference in build numbers. "DirectX 8.0a contains updates for issues with international installs on Windows 2000 and issues where input devices could have buttons disabled that were enabled with previous DirectX releases," reports ActiveWin. As Microsoft prepares Service Pack 1 for Internet Explorer 5.5, it has halted further downloading of IE 5.5. A News.com article reports that Microsoft isn't planning to fix any bugs, nor add any features, but "update a couple of specific areas." Why? It's buggy as hell, and they're notfixing any bugs... I don't get it. Will they ever create a Mission Impossible type box where you need voice recognition, retinal scans, and a fingerprint to let you access your computer? Well, this article may entice you to buy those products, and put your computer behind ten steel doors. Believe it or not, Windows 2000 is still hackable (is that a word?). In the article, Joel Kleppinger tells you about the changes Microsoft made and did not make to security in Windows 2000. Also, if you want to know how hackers do it, then this'll show you how passwords can be cracked, and how to keep them from not being cracked. 3D Spotlight posted an article about Windows File Protection (WFP), and how you can control it - so it won't control you. Basically, WFP will prevent system files from being deleted and/or over-written while installing an update, upgrade, new software, etc. Common files that are usually overwritten without users noticing are DLL files, so be sure to check this out if you've been experiencing problems with your computer, or if you're not sure if you have this enabled or not. I received an overwhelming response when I asked what Microsoft should do with the UI. I won't be able to quote all the e-mails, but expect it to be spanned over several issues. If you like this idea, and would like to see stuff like this in the future, e-mail me. To begin, Mr. Gurney has a great idea for those who enjoy using their keyboard more than their mouse, "Why not put in a Quake-style console?" If you don't play Quake, it has a way for you to access a console to enter commands to execute while playing, "The console would fade in and present itself. It would act just like a DOS prompt, but you could also do other stuff (hell, why not convert some of the control panel options to Quake-style cvars as well?)" A very good idea if you ask me, because if you don't want it, just don't use it, and for those who enjoy typing then you'll get carpel tunnel syndrome quicker! Mr. Joyal is on the same page with me, when he said, "I think its just pure laziness to not have changed anything." It takes time to develop a whole new UI, and you have to pay extra for graphic designers and new code implementation. Look how long it took them to make Windows 95; after many requests from "newbies" Microsoft decided to create something visually appeasing for the eye. "On the other hand there are those computer novices that are just learning what a start menu and a right mouse click are," says Mr. Joyal. If somebody can summarize it in a couple words, Mr. Buhl would be the one: "no s***. f*** the start menu." Any tips, queries? Send them to Luis at The Register. ® This week's Windows Roundups MS tries to throttle Whistler code leaks Fun with Windows, PowerPoint insecure Wide public beta for Whistler? Where it's at with Whistler
Luis Escalante, 26 Jan 2001

Rambus unfazed by Intel DDR plan

Rambus expects Intel to release a DDR SDRAM chipset for the Pentium 4, and it's none too bothered by the fact. That's certainly the tone of comments made by Rambus' VP for worldwide marketing, Avo Kanadjian, interviewed over at EBN. Kanadjian claims he "isn't worried" about Chipzilla's DDR plans. As an example of his lack of concern, Kanadjian says he doesn't think Intel will get a DDR chipset for P4 out before 2002. Clearly, he's seen the same roadmap that we have. Based on internal Intel documents The Register saw last year, we're not expecting Intel's upcoming SDRAM-oriented P4 chipset, Brookdale, to support DDR until Q1 2002, so we'd like to thank Rambus for confirming this for us. And Kanadjian nicely backs up what we're expecting to happen over the next six months or so: that Intel will promote RDRAM hard with the intention of making it the de facto standard for P4-based systems with high-performance memory. By the launch of Brookdale DDR support, "RDRAM would have ramped up so strongly for Pentium 4 that a DDR chipset won't be able to compete", reckons Kanadjian. Of course, the curious thing about all this is what we've heard about an agreement previously signed by Chipzilla and Rambush that the chip giant won't produce a DDR chipset before 2003. Clearly, since that deal was struck, the two have modified their plans, probably as a result of Rambus' aggressive pursuit of its DDR and SDRAM intellectual property royalties. We imagine Rambus reckons that by early 2002, its actions will have ensured RDRAM and DDR are competing so closely on price that - thanks to Intel's promotional work through 2001 - there'll be little need for OEMs to adopt DDR if they want to sell P4-based systems. At that point Intel can be happily allowed to support DDR for completion's sake. Kanadjian also noted that the company expects to see 1066MHz RDRAM in PCs by the end of the year following its introduction for consumer and comms products this summer. He also promised a quad signalling system will be introduced soon, also for consumer and comms parts, upping the number of bits transferred per clock cycle to four and thus doubling the bandwidth from 800Mbps to 1.6Gbps, the same throughput offered by existing PC-oriented RDRAM. ® Related Link EBN's interview with Avo Kanadjian Related Stories Intel samples Brookdale Samsung struggles with soaring Rambus demand P4 volumes to ramp up Q3 2001 - Intel
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2001

Engrish – Readers reply with forked tongue

Engrish - the terrifying truth We have an exemplary bulging mailsack this week regarding punters taking a chainsaw to English. Marco Silvestri clearly think he's the only polyglot on the planet: About your idiot article on The Reg: A Language is just a tool to communicate between different people. We can use english, spanglish, engrish, finnish, BASIC or Assembly.... Personally I speak fluently 5 languages. But you ? I'm sure you just speak English and your local dialect...tsk Adieu. By an amazing twist of fate, matey, you're talking to the bloke with an honours degree in Spanish and Portuguese. Five languages? Bet you haven't got anything interesting to say in the other four either. Try this out - Cállate, cabrón. Enough of that. Got a nice message from a native speaker of Singlish, Mr Huong Choo: Your piece on The Register about Engrish was great! I nearly busted a gut reading the Singlish example between Ah Kwa and Ah Beng. It's not easy to drop bad habits like "cannot lah!" but after having relocated to the UK from Singapore I thought I had everything under control. And then I read your article - damn chiat lat man. I'm with you the whole way on that one - good lad. Later in the week, Adrain Furby decided to share his thoughts on the matter: I enjoyed your brief report on the fantastic ways English gets distorted. As funny as the instances you describe are, it can actually be argued that Singlish and Japlish are often not actually English at all, but languages like Hokkien, Cantonese and Japanese with English words merely subsituted for the originals, but still using the grammatical structures of the above. This seems to be particularly the case in Japlish, where the ludicrously overblown and frankly grammatically terrible English slogans can make sense if translated back into Japanese. Similarly, you will often find Malaysians and Singaporeans using English words as if they were actually Hokkien or Cantonese (or Malay, or Tamil and so on). As to why it happens, well English gives a Japanese product some element of "class" (a bit like a restaurant named "Chez Paul's"), and Singapore and Malaysia's populations are made up of a number of cultures, who in using English as a common language find themselves substituting words from their first language when they don't know the English ones. Quite right too. Stephen Jones chipped in on the matter of Spanglish: Echevarria is talking about the Spanglish used by hispanos in the United States. However the grammatical errors made by peninsular spanish journalists in high-brow newspapers are becoming even more common. How native educated Spanish speakers can manage to write phrases nobody would ever say in their language is a mystery. Vocabulary mistakes are also common. "Silicon" in english covers both a gluey like substance used for breast enlargements among other things, and the glassy substance used a a semi-conductor. In Spanish the words are distinct "silicona" and "silicio". Nevertheless, more than one Spanish journalist would have you believe that the "wearable chip" has been developed to stages you would not dream of! I think you should distinguish between "Singlish" or "Indian English" for example, and the mistakes made by Japanese, Taiwanese and Arab companies in their brochures. "Singlish" is also the term used for the English spoken by many of the English/Sinhala speakers in Sri Lanka and there was a long article defending its use in "The Island" newspaper this December. The point is that "Singlish" speakers are speaking a dialect that is understandable to other speakers of that dialect (and to make fun of it is a pointless as making fun of Goeordgie or Glaswegian). Also "Sinlgish" speakers are often playing with words and are quite aware of the fact that what they are saying is not standard English. On the other hand the garbage we get in many translated manuals is incomprehensible to anybody incapable of reverse-translating. Incidentally "En qué puedo ayudarle" is perfectly correct Spanish. It's the "loísmo" plus the word "¿Cómo"? that makes the phrase an anglicism. Thanks for the info. I'm not sure whether I agree with you about 'loísmo' being an anglicisation. Anyone else want to clarify the matter? Inevitably, we come now to the comedy contributions. And they're quite good. Soup is Good Food writes: I fail to see how Singalese English is any less incomprehensible than, say, Western Scottish English, or even Western Rhode Island, USA English where "Pahkyacahsidebaheachupdaroadapiece" means to "double park your car further along the road." Then there's Hawaaian Pidgin English, where "Who go when cockaroach da lasters nail?" means "Who swiped my last cigarette?" And we conclude this linguistic skylarking with this from AVP Australia. Nice one. STOP PRESS New Directive from the European Commission on the single European language! The European Commission has announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German, which was the other possibility. Her Majesty's Government has conceded that English spelling has room for improvement, and has accepted a 5 year phase-in plan of a new format to be known as "Euro English". YEAR 1: In the first year "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sival servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion, and komputer keyboards kan have one less letter. YEAR 2: There will be a growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with the "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 persent shorter. YEAR 3: In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. The government will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgrasful, and they should go away. YEAR 4: By the 4th year, pepl wil be reseptiv to steps lik replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". YEAR 5: During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be droped from vords kontaning "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinazions of leters. ZE FUTUR: After ze fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikulti and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understan ech ozer in ze EU. Ze drem vil haf finali kum tru.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Ingram gets Web licensing boost

Online licensing now accounts for 32 per cent of Ingram Micro's licensing business after just three months of running the scheme. Vendors covered in the LicenseLink service, which launched in October, include Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Lotus and Powerquest. Peter Nevison, Ingram category manager, told Computer Reseller News that there had been a lot of new customers buying online because it was "considerably cheaper than buying boxed product," LicenseLink launched later than rival C2000's InTouch scheme, which has been going for more than a year. ®
Robert Blincoe, 26 Jan 2001

MS details Jump-off point for Windows Java dev

Microsoft has announced a Java migration path to .NET, in a move that currently looks more like circling the wagons than an aggressive assault on Sun's turf. The Java User Migration Path (JUMP) to .NET offers a set of tools to help developers using Microsoft's Visual J++ to convert to C# and .NET, but it's only due to beta this half, and to ship sometime in the second half of this year. According to the terms of this week's legal settlement between Sun and Microsoft, Microsoft can carry on shipping its existing Java product for another seven years, and it's already not exactly current. So the Microsoft developers already inside the tent are in serious need of an out, probably sooner rather than later. Granted you're already in possession of the Redmond shilling, JUMP fits the bill apart from the schedule - you were probably already committed to the road to .NET anyway. But JUMP doesn't look like an immediate draw for developers who're not already committed. It's not here yet, .NET's not here yet, and while they could find themselves blindsided a couple of years down the line if the .NET plan works, that's by no means certain yet. Probably, we can look forward to lots of retro-nostalgia in the 'Bill deliberately broke my software' department. Microsoft won't be using any Sun code in JUMP, it says, but as the company charges off in one direction while Sun steadfastly plods in accordance with its own roadmaps, Java-.NET interoperability issues should prove a rich seam to mine for name-calling and - oh yes - more lawsuits. This is not, as somebody once said, the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning... ® Related stories: Sun, MS settle - war resumes with .NET, C# vs Java
John Lettice, 26 Jan 2001

Reg hack in ite House arning

White House Ws go Walkabout Looks like we've really blown it this time. Or rather, lovely Lucy Sherriff has blown it with her sarky comments about good 'ol dubya Bush and the missing White House W's. No sooner had the piece hit the screens than she was approached by two gum-chewing Scicilians in golf pants, Hawaian shirts and shades. After waving a couple of handguns in the air, they handed her this telegram: You're a bunch of ankers. Do you kno that? Printing all your lies on the orld ide eb. It's scandalous. The story going around that all the doubleyous from the keyboards in the hite house have been ripped out is completely and utterly untrue. It's just you British bastards stirring up trouble. e're absolutely fine here and don't need hinging ankers like you badmouthing the President George double-u Bush. hy don't you go drink some tea or something, you itless ankers. Ok, we're sorry. Just please don't kill us. Kill Lucy, just don't kill us. ®
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Ericsson to stop making mobile phones

The world's number three for mobile phones, Ericsson, has said it will stop manufacturing handsets because of huge losses in its consumer products arm. The announcement came with the company's fourth-quarter results. The demand for mobile phones is rapidly slowing as the world+dog now has one and chief exec Kurt Hellstroem has had investors on his back over the losses that the company is incurring because of handset building. Despite some demanding Ericsson pull out of the handset market altogether, Kurt had decided to keep his hand in, if only because knowledge of the workings of handsets is useful for the wider issues of phone networks - where Ericsson gets a good chunk of its money. The company announced lower growth for 2001 than it previously expected (from 20+ per cent to 15 to 20 per cent), pulling down the share price. It also said profit margins would be lower. Q4 income fell to £160 million and an overall loss of £106 million. Shares fell by 13 per cent. Kurt reckons that by not making phones and rejigging the consumer division he could save £1 billion a year. Their manufacture will now be outsourced to several companies and 11,000 job cuts are on the way. No one else in the market has stopped building its own phones but with 3G still looking like a distant dream, it may simply be paving the way. The company "still remains committed" to the phone business, you'll be pleased to hear. Kurt, however is not a happy man. He admitted that the results were poor but put the blame at the door of its suppliers: "The losses are caused by delivery failure from key suppliers and an inadequate product mix in the entry-level market. The delivery failures have led to loss of large sales volumes and serious under-utilisation of production capacity, which has forced us into costly restructuring measures." So there you have it. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2001

Shiva shut-down annoys resellers

Intel has come in for some reseller flak over the way it's handling the closure of its Shiva division. Shiva's remote access products were discontinued from 4 January, but will be supported for a further two years. However Computer Reseller News has found resellers unhappy with how much warning they got about the shut down. Phil Kennerdal, senior sales consultant at Abtec Network Systems, said he'd been unable to supply a customer with a module to attach to a Shiva server. "They could have given me a couple of months notice so that I could have stocked up," he told CRN. Intel says it can supply Shiva products from 5 February if VARs can't get them from their distributors. Shiva rival, Perle Systems, is taking advantage of Shiva's closure and is pushing its Perle 833 Access Server line as alternatives to Shiva's LanRover range. Perle is offering resellers free technical support and free 30 day trials on its products. ®
Robert Blincoe, 26 Jan 2001

Totalise vaporises workers – confirmed

Update:Update: AIM-listed Totalise has confirmed it has canned a "substantial" number of its workforce. In a short statement the British ISP said: "Totalise has confirmed that, following an operational review, it has reduced its work force substantially, with the company now far more focused on its core businesses with proven income streams." According to one source, the Leeds-based ISP laid off as many as 50 people today. It's understood Totalise employed around 110 people. It hasn't been a good couple of days for Totalise. Earlier this week the ISP brushed off concerns that it was in financial trouble saying that its decision to call an extraordinary general meeting was merely a "technical accounting formality". With today's announcement, it's clear the company does have financial problems. Until it makes a formal and open statement on the matter those fears will remain. Yesterday, Totalise told 900 users of its Ultimate Surf Net access package - which cost £235 for two-years Net access - to sling their hook. ® Related Stories Totalise vaporises 900 users Totalise shareholders get the jitters
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2001

Australia v USA II – The Diggers wade in

Australia v USA - The gloves are off The gloves are indeed off in our Pacific rim clash of titans. Morgan Dell jumps out of his corner fighting with: Those bastard seppo yanks. In response to Andre A. Smith: I had to laugh when he mistook Guy Brush's use of the word geocentric for egocentric. Presumably, being an illiterate yank, he saw "geocentric" and thought "I've never seen that word before. Must have been egocentric". The only linguists he knows are cunnilinguists, and they'll all be women. The tosser even thinks that every country's rundown areas speak a kind of gibberish - well you would if you'd never considered what's outside the holy land that is the USA. Then he explains it all by admitting to being half French. In response to Brian A. Stefanish: We Aussies think we're special because we are, mate. I reckon the yank idea of treating a woman well by buying her half a cow to chew on when taking her out to dinner really does go down well in a country where all the women have arses the size of a small island state. And they wash the half cow down with a weak as piss liquid they call beer. Note to any seppo who's managed to read this far, being crass, having no worthwhile culture (if you consider american culture worthwhile you've just made my point), and electing a village idiot as president to follow a man who just wanted to leave his mark on women's dresses does not make a country full of god's gift to women. Ouch. But wait, what's this? Strewth, Jonny Honk's wading in: As an Australian reader of the Reg (every day) I must add my comments to this firey debate. Mr Dickhead (the aussie bloke) contends that aussies are better equipped to understand the Reg than the US residents...sure Skippy. Aussies have enough trouble understanding the railway timetable, let alone interpreting english phrases such as "the dog's bollocks" Block Reg from the ISP? You are seriously a wanker who is suffering from an IT knowledge deficiency. As for the American who made the comment about how he should learn to treat his woman properly first, that was a bit low...after all you have never even met his mother. I apologise on behalf of Australians for Dr Dicks comments, this is obviously his first trip on "day release". This is hot Aussie on Aussie action and no mistake. Fear not, our turnip-thieving friends, here comes 'Mad' Mark Baldy. He's fired up on tinnies and 'roo meat and he's going to kick some US ass: I tell ya what, ya seppo pimp, you should worry about how I'm treating your woman. Face it, aussies are blessed, and you're just jealous. Don't piss us off, we'll come for a visit, empty your fridge, bang out a glorious ton in your daughters bedroom, and finish up giving your wife a golfing lesson over 10-18. When I'm playing pub cricket in Seppo land, the ball's like a watermelon to me. When you guys come here, you can't get willow to leather. The bloke's gone stark staring mad. Time to bring on the banjo player and pig fanciers from Deliverance I reckon.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Datatec reduces debt with UUNET SA sale

Datatec, the South African-owned networking equipment reseller and distributor, is flogging its 76 per cent stake in UUNET SA to Worldcom for $138.5 million. Datatec announced in November its intention to sell the business to Worldcom. It will use the proceeds to reduce debt and to buy back shares. According to Reuters, the company said in September it had net borrowings (not counting unspecified money owed to suppliers) of $108m. Datatec is prepping the flotations of its two main businesses, distributor Westcon (on Nasdaq) and networking reseller Logical (on the LSE). Total Telecom: WorldCom to pay Datatec US$138.5 million for UUNet SA ECSoft, the British systems integrator, is selling its managed support services business in the UK to Pink Elephant, a subsidiary of Dutch firm PinkRoccade NV. The 'strategic divestment' is worth up to £9m in cash and shares, and will see 120 ECSoft staff transfer to Pink Elephant. ECsoft will receive an initial cash payment of £4 million, with a further £4.75 million available during the course of 2001, (of which £4 million will be held in escrow). The company says the managed support business had grown to such a size that it needed either significant investment, or partnership with a company for which this was a primary business activity. Computer 2000 has launched a service that enables retailer to sell kit over the Web 'within minutes'. The service is called Clic2IT and features up to 20,000 stock lines. It costs a set-up fee of £500 per month, and then it costs £50 per month. The service is a joint venture between C2000 and Clic2 Ltd. Retailers get their own personalised Web site, albeit under the Clic2IT URL. They get to choose what product areas they carry and what mark-ups they wish to add. C2000 updates the product information daily. Intel has come in for some reseller flak over the way it's handling the closure of its Shiva division. Shiva's remote access products were discontinued from 4 January, but will be supported for a further two years. However Computer Reseller News has found resellers unhappy with how much warning they got about the shut down. Phil Kennerdal, senior sales consultant at Abtec Network Systems, said he'd been unable to supply a customer with a module to attach to a Shiva server. "They could have given me a couple of months notice so that I could have stocked up," he told CRN. Intel says it can supply Shiva products from 5 February if VARs can't get them from their distributors. Shiva rival, Perle Systems, is taking advantage of Shiva's closure and is pushing its Perle 833 Access Server line as alternatives to Shiva's LanRover range. Perle is offering resellers free technical support and free 30 day trials on its products. VNUNet: Resellers angry at closure of Shiva Hewlett-Packard is preparing to pump in more cash into resellers, as part of a overhaul of its Office Centre Partner scheme, VNUNet reports. As ever, details of how much cash look pretty thin on the ground. Online licensing now accounts for 30 per cent of Ingram Micro's licensing business after just three months of running the scheme. Vendors covered in the LicenseLink service, which launched in October, include Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Lotus and Powerquest. Peter Nevison, Ingram category manager, told Computer Reseller News UK that there had been a lot of new customers buying online because it was "considerably cheaper than buying boxed product." LicenseLink launched later than rival C2000's InTouch scheme, which has been going for more than a year. Computer 2000 is to distribute the Energis portfolio of e-services through its reseller base. The idea is for dealers to sell on Energis services to small and medium businesses. Computer 2000 will also act as a virtual ISP, through a connectivity deal with Energis Squared. Microsoft Partner, a site for UK resellers, also features these stories. The Register is thinking of doing a weekly, free email newsletter for the UK channel. Interested? Then email us here. Please put Channel in the header (that way we can separate wheat from chaff). If there are enough of you out there, we'll think some more. ®
Drew Cullen, 26 Jan 2001

Doc gassed on phone while gassing patient

A woman died in a dentist's chair because her anaesthetist was too busy talking on his mobile to pay proper attention to her condition, a jury at the Old Bailey heard. Richard Kaul, 37, allegedly failed to follow General Dental Council guidelines on sedation and used an unapproved "backdoor" method. Kaul, who is a London trained doctor and has an American qualification in anaesthesia, stands accused of manslaughter, a charge he denies. He owned a practice in Dalston where he employed several dentists. However, he took care of all the anaesthetic work himself. When Isatu Bangura, who was visiting England from Sierra Leone for her daughter's wedding, came to the surgery for some minor work on her teeth, she asked to be sedated for the whole procedure. According to the prosecution, Kaul administered the drugs either too fast or in too great a quantity, causing Bangura to lose consciousness. She started to have trouble breathing and finally had a cardiac arrest. Kaul took more than half an hour to call for an ambulance, the prosection alleges, and then did not accompany his patient to the hospital. She died six days later. ® Other, less serious stories involving death and mobile phones Mobile phone immobilises policeman - permanently Man plunges to death using mobile phone Man beaten to death for using mobile in pub We've got brain cancer and we want your money
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2001

Games-World demands apology

Chris Incledon of Intensive Networks LTD is a mite irritated by Kieren's Games-World.net scoffs over Barrysworld demise. Chris is also technical manager of Games-World: Hello There, I think your write up about the press releases is way out of line and I would like you to print an instant retraction. Originally we had a good relationship with Barrysworld for a Long time and it was a shock that they went into receivership. But this happened it was a bit of a shock to say the least. We are not scoffing at their demise at all but just stating that life has to go on even though they broke up. What may even happen is that Games-World may be throwing them a lifeline to keep them in business. So where does the scoffing come from and where does it warrant a news item like that??? As I said I would like you to print an instant apology/rebuttal about this article. Very pissed off Equally irritated is Games-World's director John Baker. John is also the technical manager of Intensive Networks Ltd: Your article makes Games-World appear petty, and appearing to profit from Barrysworld's position. Our comments about the current state of the ISP/GISP industry were to correct, in our opinion, the erroneous statements made by Barrysworld in their press release of 22-1-01 I would suggest that you publish our full press release, so the statementscan be taken in their full and correct context. Games-World have posted a reply to our piece on their site. Make up your own minds here. So what do our readers think? Take it away Tim Hoult: GW who? To be honest I've never heard of them since today, and that press release is quite hysterically funny. How can they compare themselves to BarrysWorld? BarrysWorld is online gaming in UK, and quite a fair bit of Europe as well. Over 500 games servers for more games than most people knew existed, the most advanced server booking system in use right now, a dedicated team of staff intent on furthering gaming, not their salaries...the list goes on. Without BarrysWorld, the gaming communities are dying off quicker than before. Take me for an example. I am an admin and council member for the BWAQSL an Action Quake 2 league. AQ2 is almost dead, after 3 years of existence. It has come to the point where we have 3 BW public servers, a few Fury (http://www.fury.net) servers and a Global Internet server which has seen better days. However, the brightest points were the 3 BW league servers, and the Q2 booking system. It is almost exclusively used by AQ2 clans for clan matches and practices. Without BW, our league has no servers, no prizes, or any impetus to carry on. Our options appear to be Jolt (http://www.jolt.co.uk) and NetGamesUK (although I say that name in distaste, after the beta of their 24/7 service). We've even had a few offers from some Italian companies, proving the point that the BWAQSL covers more than just the UK scene. We have clans from Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy...the list goes on. I'm sure you could understand why so many people are devastated by the loss of such an integral part of the community. To be fair, many of the hardcore element, grizzled, veteran players of QWTF et al, were disenchanted with the 'regime' due to increased commercialisation. But in all truth we didn't really care about how profit driven BW were, so long as we still had gaming. Now it seems that the former has caught up with them, and the latter is, sadly, no more... It seems that Mr Hoult's views are pretty much shared by Simon Frankau: I was most intrigued by Games-World's press release, especially since I've been a Barrysworld user for years, and had never heard of Games-World.net. Not knowing anything about them, the only errors I could point out in *their* press release are those of a grammatical nature. Anyway, I think I've sussed the way their business model differs from Barrysworld's. They've tightened their belts by not updating their website (apparently Quake 3 is due out this Christmas - and they're not talking about Team Arena), and reduced their bandwidth costs by not being popular. When I looked at the 4 Quake 3 servers they have available, 2 were offline, and the other 2 empty. I really didn't want Games-World.net to be dire. They might have scoffed at Barrysworld, but I'm desperately looking for some other decent servers. If they really are 'The Premiere Games ISP' things are even more bleak than I first realised. Hmmmm. Originally I had some form of point, but this has just turned into a big moan. I'll shut up now. Yes, thank you.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Aristo erotic rock chick slams toffs

The wife of Lord Burford, Canadian Louise Robey, has posted a message on her fan site detailing the breakdown of her marriage and slamming Britain's aristocracy whom she has been forced to endure socially. The red-headed Canadian who can only be described as a "colourful character" became a tabloid favourite when they found out she was a rock singer and had been a soft porn actress. Her husband - an Earl - became nearly as notorious when he leapt on the Woolsack in the House of Lords and exclaimed "Treason!" when the government was trying to push hereditary peers out of Parliament. However the message to her fan site, www.louiserobey.com, has outdone anything she's done before. In it she speaks candidly of her marriage: "My husband and I are having some marital difficulties," she starts, before explaining that it's all down to Britain's aristocracy. In fact, the whole message is worth reading so we'll run it below: "I have found it difficult living within the aristocracy in this country. They have never really genuinely accepted me as one of them. I like to talk to people and I don't need to be introduced to do so. I hadn't realized that the only acceptable conversation for a countess was the weather and greeting Dukes with the expression 'How's it hanging' and 'Are you getting a divorce and are you two getting married? [He appeared to be with his mistress] seems socially unacceptable? "I had so much to learn and so little time that I am afraid I suspect that I have made a bit of a hash of things. Also they seem to have a problem with 'Twisted Sister' lyrics let alone 'Cradle of Filth' both of which I'm involved with professionally. Ah yeah, one other thing before I forget, they always say 'what exactly is it that you do?' Oh Shit... well that's when the real trouble starts. I can't handle it and I don't know how to hang with these people anymore. I just get mad cos it's so low energy and you know me! Besides I'm in love. Charles pulled my child away from me today in the studio car park and drove off with him without saying what where or when so I suppose it's over." Then she comes out with a killer line: "So if I ever go with another guy called Earl I'm gonna make damn sure he's black or something." Louise, we salute you. The picture of Britain's toffs being confronted with her asking how it was hanging is just too much. We can only hope that someone makes a film of it. ® Related Link LouiseRobey.com
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2001

P4 piece hertz reader's feelings

Math/CS major James Perry has got a bee in his bonnet about Mike Magee's Pentium 4 Foster may sink the Itanic. I'm writing this since I think someone needs to correct the general misconception surrounding the Itanium that many people have - particularly Register journalists. In particular, in your article you state: "Will they [Itaniums] ever reach the giggle hurtz speeds that Foster and the Pentium 4 seem capable of now?" The IA64's architecture is completely different from that of the IA32's, particularly when it comes to what happens each clock-cycle. The Itanium uses a technique called VLIW(Very Long Instruction Word) where each instruction package is actually 3 instructions that the CPU procedes to execute /in parallel/. Hence, during each clock-cycle an Itanium executes at least 3 instructions whereas a P4 runs barely more than 1. Now if the Itanium were to run only a single instruction per clock, like the P4 does, it'd be clocking in at around _2ghz_. So excuse me, but what was that about 'giggle hurtz' speeds? (And yes, I know I'm simplifying things a lot. The IA64 architecture specifies even more goodies such as speculative execution.) You guys should bother checking your facts before writing up this BS. Right on brother. Anyone want to reply to this one?
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Scientology exposé finds favour

Scientologist Web site rips off urban75.com It's always good to absorb a bit of praise on a Friday. Take it away Fredric L. Rice: It was a wonderful job you guys did on that breaking news about the notorious Narconon organization's theft of Urban75's web site. The news is expected to break here in the United States some time within the next two days. The behavior of the Scientology organization is "uncivilized," to say the least, but that's hardly news to anyone who's paid attention to the Scientology organization's activities over the years. In the event your readers are interested, Scientology is falling all over themselves trying to hide the fact by quickly reworking the web pages they "borrowed" but really it's too late for that since Urban75 has archived the theft and people all over the Internet pulled screen snap-shots of the Scientology organization's Narconon web site which show the stolen web pages. The irony is compelling: Scientology has sued countless individuals and organizations putatively for "copyright violation" and the organization claims loudly that they're at the "forefront of protecting proprietary information on the Internet." It seems that the people who have been stating that Scientology uses copyright claims solely to silence critics are once again evidenced completely accurate. Incidentally, detailed information on the Scientology organization's Narconon fake front can be reviewed at crackpots which contains numerous newspaper articles and medical findings in addition to background information and personal horror stories. Good job, guys! Well done! Lovely. We're passing round the cigars and brandy right now.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

ARM to use PowerVR 2 technology

Chip designer Imagination Technology has signed a deal with ARM Holdings to get its PowerVR 2 graphics chip it developed integrated into future ARM designed processors. Imagination hopes this will mean its 3D graphics chip design will end up in three-quarters of the world's mobile phones and TV set-top boxes. The deal comes in the nick of time as Imagination looks likely to suffer on the news that Sega could shelve Dreamcast production. The Dreamcast uses the PowerVR 2 chip, but Imagination chief exec Hossein Yassaie has said the processor design can be used in set-top boxes if the console business ends. Imagination is already working with UK set-top box builder Pace, and Sega is making an announcement on Monday 29 January about the Dreamcast living on as the basis for a new product being developed by Pace. ® Related Stories Sega set to license Dreamcast to set-top box builder Sega to cease Dreamcast production Sega to license Dreamcast, form chip JV
Robert Blincoe, 26 Jan 2001

95%? You lucky, lucky devils

UK mobile networks connect 95% of the time Readers' letters 95%? You're having a laugh The 95% connection rate claim has sparked off a right old debate down here at Vulture Central. Our readers haven't finished yet by a long way. Tim Auton gets down and dirty with: I can see why the results are grossly inaccurate when compared to anyone who's ever used a mobile phone's experience, to quote from "data was compiled from vehicles - using roof mounted aerials". Well that's a fucking lot of good considering the majority of calls are made from hand portables within buildings. Perhaps more of my calls would connect if I had my phone connected to a two foot vertical aerial in the street. Here's an idea, we could have stations (boxes?) in the street where for a small fee (say, 20p?) we could plug into a nice big aerial and then we too could have 95% of our calls connect. Lies, damn lies.. On the other hand, maybe we should count ourselves lucky, as Pekka Polari explains: Being a Finn I used to get so excellent network coverage in my home country that it actually surprises me when suddenly, you can't make a call when being 15 miles from the nearest settlement (forgive my poor english, dunno how to say this properly...). But, after moving to Silicon Valley I noticed that maybe there is an opportunity for the unfamous satellite phones, you know, which work everywhere. Here in South Bay, North Bay or San Francisco, it doesn't matter which standard-based device you're carrying with, it's often either bad network coverage or your cell phone's battery is dead because of poor network. Anyway, you britons (sorry again, don't know the proper term :-)) shouldn't complain, please visit this country and you know what's poor service. When I was a kid and I was hungry and my mum said 'stop whining, there are people in Africa starving', did it make me feel any better? It did not. I rest my case. Nathaniel Shelton even goes as far as to suggest that we should be grateful: People, get a grip. Sure the networks are struggling to keep up with demand, but instead of moaning about 95% rate, consider this: Would you rather not a have a mobile at all? Is the situation really so dreadful that you would rather bin your phone and go back to using street pay phones? I don't think so. And as for complaining about reception inside buildings, do you suggest banning steel-frame construction for the sake of your mobile telephone? Stand by the window if it's that urgent for god's sake. I'm sure those twenty calls you missed from your pissed up mate down the boozer could have waited until you got there yourself... No, those calls couldn't wait. The pub were having a 'buy one get six free' promotion on strong lager and he was trying to get me down there and by the time I arrived the punters had emptied the barrels. Bloody crap mobile phone service.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Everquest stamps on Bob Smith

Everquest class action threat over auction spat Regarding this Everquest palaver, Colin MacDonald sent in an amusing factoid: Er, you missed the really funny bit, that they even dictate the *names* you can use. And no, I don't mean they ban stuff like "Rumpleforeskin", they ban "Bob Smith" because all names should be (quote) "Original, high-fantasy names." How you're supposed to be original while at the same time conforming to a naming convention that's defined only by other peoples' trademarks is not explained, but reports from the gamers say that basically you have to pick a phonetic corruption of a fantasy name and whack some Z's and apostrophes in. You can't play as "Bob Smith" but "Z'gan'dulf" is just fine. They have 13 categories of "offense", restrictions on punctuation, double capitals, implied titles, blah blah blah. You couldn't make this stuff up. So I suppose my witty gaming moniker 'Dave1' is out then? Sean Fowler was able to add a further bit of enlightenment regarding Dennis Flanders: Re: A quick search through the Washington phone listings turns up a Dennis Flanders living next door to Gravity Spot's office, but his home number 'does not accept unidentified calls'." Dial *82 and you can get through. You must have caller ID blocked on your line or otherwise disabled. Flanders' line apparently blocks calls that have caller ID blocked. *82 disables the block, so to speak, on most phone services allowing you to get the call through. I have to do this when I call my parents, a sign of the times. While I don't play the game myself, I have several friends that do. A few of them make a nice supplemental income selling EQ characters and items. These folks spend probably 4-8 hours per day playing EverQuest. (That's why I don't play - I cannot possibly spend even that much time per week, let alone every day, and it seems like you need to to really understand and succeed in this game.) There is a new game on the horizon called Shadowbane (www.shadowbane.com). Its authors are saying that anyone who wants to auction items and characters is free to do so. The release date I heard most recently for this game is March 2001. Cheers, we'll keep readers posted on that.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Microsoft dragged kicking and screaming

Windows to go 3D... but not in Whistler Andrew Orlowski was most impressed with Chris Ross's erudite musings on his recent article. So were the letters department, so here you go: That'll be Microsoft "innovating" then. This is an area that has been explorered a lot, especially on Unix. Most notibly in "Rooms: The Use of Multiple Virtual Workspaces to Reduce Space Contention", a seminal UI project from 1986 and many, many projects since which reference it. My favourite on this theme has to be the "psDoom" project, which is developing a general purpose GUI based on the now open source Doom engine. Seems that Microsoft are finally being brought kicking and screaming into the State of the Art of the 1980s. I'd like to know when Windows will finally get to be as good as its competitors from the late 80s such as the Acorn Archimedes, Commodore Amiga and NeXT Machine. At their present rate, presumably sometime after Windows 2006.
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

MS DNS mess matched by 25% of Fortune 1000

More than a third of companies are vulnerable to the kind of domain name system (DNS) problems that made Microsoft's web sites unavailable this week. A survey by Icelandic DNS specialist Men & Mice on a random sample of 5 000 active .com domains, showed that 38 per cent of sites were running all their DNS servers on the same network segment - thus creating a single point of failure. A lack of redundancy might be expected in smaller companies, but Men & Mice found that 25 per cent of Fortune 1000 companies were making the same mistake as Microsoft. Microsoft's outages this week, caused both by a misconfiguration of its networks and the subsequent denial of service attacks, could have been prevented if their servers had not been on the same subnet, according to the Men & Mice. Sjofn Agustsdottir, a director at Men and Mice, said: "It is clear that a stunning number of companies have serious DNS configuration problems which can lead to failure at any time. A single point of failure can go undetected for months which is simply a disaster waiting to happen." DNS is responsible for translating IP addresses into more easily remembered domain names and vice versa, routing mail to its proper destinations and other fundamental Internet services. ® Related Stories Microsoft crippled by S'Kiddies MS blames lowly techie for Web blackout Microsoft brings web sites back into play Microsoft confirms Web site blackout DNS trouble made Microsoft, Yahoo! unavailable
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2001

Maxtor and Western Digital in profit, Quantum isn't

The major hard drive players are all releasing their end-2000 financials, and they're a bit of a mixed bag. After 11 consecutive loss making quarters, Western Digital must have broken out the bubbly after reporting a profit for the quarter ending December 31. On revenues of $530.7 million, a profit of $1.8 million is not to be sniffed at. The figures were way above the numbers predicted by analysts, and it is worth noting that without an extraordinary gain of $10.6 million, associated with bond redemption, the company would have lost $8.8 million. Quantum, on the other hand, didn't manage to break into profit, reporting a net loss of $3.3 million on revenue of $191 million in the quarter. It blamed component issues for its low revenues. This impacted sales of its new 20GB desktop models. However, the supply problems have been solved, they assure us, and volume production is: "currently unrestrained." With revenues of $2.7 billion, the supply issues that Quantum suffered with were clearly not a problem for Maxtor. It also kept its net figures on the right side of zero, posting profits of $5 million, up $1 million from a year ago. Both Maxtor and Quantum re-affirmed their commitment to the merger of their respective hard drive arms. Both said that they expected talks would be finished and a deal would be on the table by March or April. ® Related Stories Western Digital serves up 30GB platter Quantum Corp lowers sights on HDD shortage Half-price Quantum HDDs not for sale here Maxtor's 60GB drive ships in volume Blimey! Maxtor buys Quantum HDD unit
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2001

Readers' Letters Tariff too cheap for MS

It's absolutely typical. You streamline your backhanders and bungs department, and still there's confusion. Steve Rodway needs clarification: Was just wondering if there is any element of truth in the page Register Tariff 2001 'cause it strikes me, for a company like Microsoft, £2,500 would be well worth it for removal of any story from your site. I'm still seeing stories that are not exactly Microsoft-favourable, so I'm guessing they must not have paid for the Platinum service. Then there's Matt Clark, who's evidently having trouble with his eyes: That's not a tariff, it's perfectly ordinary satire. Give us the fucking prices at least. How else are we supposed to be able to budget sensibly? Ho hum. Best of the rest Engrish - Readers reply with forked tongue Damn chiat lat man! Australia v USA II - The Diggers wade in Seconds out, round two Games-World demands apology pissedoff.com Reg hack in ite House arning e are itless ankers P4 piece hertz reader's feelings An apprentice boffin lets rip Scientology exposé finds favour Good job guys! 95%? You lucky, lucky devils Mobile phone connection rate coveted by Finns Everquest stamps on Bob Smith Original, high-fantasy names demanded Microsoft dragged kicking and screaming Windows to enter late eighties by 2006?
Lester Haines, 26 Jan 2001

Police radios can trigger positive breath test

If you're ever asked to do a breath test by the police you might do well to insist that they turn off their radios before you blow into their breathalyser. The advice comes from an ex-copper who wrote to us after we printed a story about police concerns about interference from next-generation handsets He writes: "When at the Metropolitan Police training school, it was taught that PCs should not press the PTT (push to talk) button on the personal radio whilst waiting the requisite forty seconds for the lights to (hopefully) go red. Never. "Oh, no - indeed. Definitely not. Especially if the subject was being 'griefy'. Honest." He adds that the idea that that a PC might surreptitiously give a quick burst of transmit on his radio whilst his partner was administering the breath test to an uncooperative suspect, was similarly frowned upon. Its worth noting here that, at least in Britain, the actual charging and conviction of drink driver suspects relies on a different test which is administered at police station. Our correspondent explains the technique was used to annoy awkward customers. "This merely gave the opportunity to cause inconvenience, spend time filling out the forms, apologise profusely and sincerely (again, honest) afterwards, give the driver back the keys to his car and advise him where he might find a cab to drive him back to it. At four in the morning. "Oh dear. Terribly sorry, but we are not insured to give you a lift if you are not a prisoner anymore. Sir. No cash on you, then it's a long walk back, in the rain," he added. Another reader, who worked for the St. John Ambulance, a first-aid volunteer service, recounts a time on duty when he saw a policeman using his radio to trigger a positive result on a breath test. Apparently it was all a bit of innocent fun and the guy was using the trick in a rather strange attempt to chat up a woman he fancied. Our man in the St. John's Ambulance service says that ambulance radios can have the same effects on breathalysers. It's not that we condone drink drivers, but if you're ever pulled up (and assuming you're not too drunk in the first place) now you know what to look out for. Lets be careful out there. ® Related Story Interference clouds future of multi-billion police radio project
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2001

ISP accuses BT of price fixing

A Hampshire ISP is looking for other ISPs to rally round and support a complaint it's made against BT. Cloud Nine - a mid-sized business provider based in Basingstoke, Hampshire - claims the monster telco has hiked the price of its wholesale unmetered Net access product making it all but impossible for small and medium-sized ISPs to compete with large providers. It fears that if BT continues with the pricing strategy, smaller ISPs simply won't be able to compete with the big boys. And it warns that consumers will lose out in the long run as their choice of ISPs diminishes. In the formal complaint to Oftel, Cloud Nine said: "It is our opinion that BT have introduced a restrictive practice through a product call SurfPort24 in the UK to prevent small to medium size ISPs competing in the Unmetered Internet Access market using FRIACO wholly for the benefit of very large ISPs including BT branded ones. "This in turn ultimately restricts choice to the consumer and small business of the unmetered products and services they can choose. They have introduced this practice by raising the entry barrier to unaffordable economic levels for SurfPort24." Emeric Miszti, MD of Cloud Nine, claims he's already received support from some smaller ISPs and hopes others will support his complaint. A spokeswoman for Oftel confirmed that a complaint had been received. A spokesman for BT said the telco would assist in any Oftel investigation. ®
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2001

Network Associates misses Q4 targets

Network Associates saw Q4 sales miss forecasts after abandoning its channel "stuffing" policy. The California company reported worse than expected losses of $127.2 million, excluding charges, for the quarter - against earnings of $30.1 million for the same period the previous year. Sales fell 73 per cent to $46.7 million from last year, and down 75 per cent from Q3. The drop was partly due to NA switching its method of counting sales. It now counts revenues only after products are sold to consumers by distributors, whereas it previously notched up sales as soon as it had shipped them to its distributors. This, along with admitted inventory backlog, convinced analysts that NA was guilty of "stuffing" its channel, or padding out its results by overselling to its distributors. When the company announced it was changing its sales counting method last month the market reacted by wiping 66 per cent off its share value. There are also a number of lawsuits pending from unhappy investors. NA freshly appointed CEO George Samenuk promised the company would get back into the black in the second half of the year. "Let me be clear, I will not let this loss continue," Reuters reported him saying. "I intend to scrutinise every aspect of this business." ® Related Stories Network Associates shows its true colours Network Associates warns of $140m loss CA is 'friendly, open, trusted'
Linda Harrison, 26 Jan 2001

Hot pics of ALi chipset DDR Intel board

HWRoundupHWRoundup The new EPoX mobo showed up on Anand's site today. The board fares reasonably well and the sheer effort apparent in the new design wins lots of points. However, the design isn't perfect and the reviewer finds a couple of points that could be improved. Read the full monty here. The Sharkster got out his bench and scratched some marks into it so that we can find out more about Transcend's TS-ASL3 i815E mainboard. As the fishy ones say, it is hard to tell the difference between a gem and a doorstop from the outside, so check out the review for a little enlightenment. His mum thinks he's cool, and that is good enough for us. The guys at Iamnotageek have had a look at KT7A-RAID (yes, another one) and John tells us: "It has some interesting info about using an old KT7 BIOS that I haven't seen in any other review." Catch your interest? Have a look at it here. OCWorkbench has sent out an alert to these snaps of a DDR board for Intel based on the ALi chipset. They have spys everywhere this lot. BXBoards continues its KT133A frenzy with a reveiw of the Gigabyte GA-7ZXR. The verdict? A nice little board with all the stuff of overclocking wet dreams. DansData continues its mission to educate the world about all kinds of hardware stuff with a step by step guide to connection sharing. Click here if, as Dan says, "...if you're wondering whether your proxy, NAT or hardware router thingy might be better replaced with NAT, a hardware router thingy or a proxy." ® Still hungry for hardware? Check out our archives.
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2001

Egg.com's been down due to hardware problem

Online bank Egg.com has been down all week but until five minutes ago couldn't be bothered to tell anyone, even customers, why. The basic information pages have been accessible the whole time but anything on its secure servers is still out of reach - meaning that customers have no access at all to their accounts. Despite this there has not been any explanation on the company's Web site and Egg customers have had to track down phone numbers as email messages are not receiving replies. Earlier in the week, online news site vnunet.com got lucky and spoke to an Egg representative, who claimed that accounts had been suspended while the site is upgraded to include interactive television. This sounded a little disingenuous to us but it is a good PR line. However, it wasn't adopted as a mantra and neither Egg nor its PR agency came up with an explanation. Until five o'clock on Friday. The official line is that it wasn't a software problem - it was a hardware problem. The fact that the Web site was recently redeveloped and upgraded is simply coincidence. The spokeswoman said she knew very little more than this but apparently the press office will have a conference call with the techies very soon. The problem appeared out of nowhere, we're told. But fortunately, it's now solved and completely fixed. The reason why you still won't be able to get into it though is "pent-up demand". This will all be cleared within 48 hours. Egg must forgive us if we are a touch sceptical about this explanation. For six days the company has stonewalled customers and the press with vague explanations or, worse, no explanation at all. When the Egg spokeswoman contacted us, it was only through a message we left on the main technical man's voicemail. He and his team have been on the problem solid all week. Egg has had plenty of practice in crisis management since it launched in October 1998, but it obviously hasn't learnt many lessons. It will certainly lose some customers from this cock-up (as soon as they able to shut the accounts down). If it has any sense if will give the full low-down on the problem as soon as possible. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2001

eToys sees losses rise in Q3

Struggling e-tailer eToys saw losses rise for the third quarter, leaving it with just enough cash to last until the end of March. The debt-ridden online toy merchant, which earlier this month said it would lay off 700 of its 1,000 staff and shut its European business, recorded a net loss of $85.8 million for the period ended December 31. Sales totalled $131.2 million against $106.8 million. It spent almost $39 million on advertising in the same quarter, acquiring new customers at the equivalent of $40 a pop, the Los Angeles company said yesterday in a statement that included no comment from any of its directors. eToys creditors have agreed to hold off demands for debt repayment until January 31 to give management time to try to cobble together a recovery plan. And just when the dotcom thought things couldn't get any worse, a group of international artists called etoy have decided to sue eToys over its name. Talk about kicking a man when he's down - the group has filed a suit in the US District Court of California in San Diego alleging trademark infringement. etoy claims it got there first, and that eToys has no right to use the name. Although quite why an artists' collective would want to call itself etoy remains a mystery. ® Related Stories eToys cuts 60 per cent of staff eToys to shut doors in Europe eToys warns on revenues eToys throws UK out of affiliate pram
Linda Harrison, 26 Jan 2001

Britney gets filthy in front of 170,000 fans

Britney Spears, the wholesome princess of pop, and queen of semiconductor physics is not the harmless little lamb we all took her for. It seems young Britney rather put her foot in it at a recent show when she failed to notice that her microphone was switched on and let rip with a barrage of rude words. She was to perform infront of 170,000 fans at her concert in Rio. She screamed abuse at her managers after the support band finished its set. In between bands the venue is expected to play some music to keep the atmosphere going known, apparently, as "vamping." Who would have thought that such a sweet lookin' lass would even know of such profanities as "shit" and "fucking" hell? Happily, the whole tirade was recorded and is available for download on Napster, but if you can't wait to hear it, here is a snippet: "Don't tell me they are just letting the audience just fucking stand out there like that...they told me they were gonna do a vamp. Oh shit...I thought they were gonna fucking vamp. This is retarded." Well well. Add this to reports of £8000 bar bills in Germany and suddenly the squeaky-clean image ain't looking so clean. Good on you Britney, we at El Reg salute you, you foul mouthed piss-head. ® Related Links You can hear Britney's outburst at Napster or on BritneySpears.org.
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2001

Sex sells – but Web sites cost a fortune

The company trying to making .tv domains the latest fashion accessory has scored itself a PR scoop with the announcement that www.sex.tv has gone for a record price. Unsurprisingly, it has gone to an "adult entertainment" company. Unfortunately that's where the information ends. How much was paid? Who bought it? What will it feature (well, we kinda know that one already)? Unfortunately, the press release tends to concentrate on the content aspect. It also fails to put a phone number or contact email on the release. There is also no whois for .tv domains. And the .tv PR people are not answering their phones. And there's nothing on www.sex.tv yet. Hmmm. Either the dot.tv people have cocked-up a huge opportunity to get their domains known or else this is a complete non-story (well, why are you writing it, you idiot -Ed). (I'll tell you why - because sex sells Ed.) (What you think people will read this story just because it has the word "sex" in? - Ed) (Yes.) (Fair enough - Ed) Related Link That nonsense Sex.tv release in full
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2001

Web privacy bandits named and shamed

Internet sites are failing to either protect consumers privacy or adhere to international data protection laws. A study of 751 sites by Consumers International, the global federation of 13 consumer organisations, reveals that many European and American Internet sites aimed at consumers fall woefully short of international standards on data protection. The vast majority of sites gave users no choice about inclusion on mailing lists or having their name passed on to affiliates or third parties. More than two thirds of sites collect some sort of personal information from users, which would make it easy to identify and contact that person. Worse still, only ten per cent of sites targeting children asked kids to get their parents' consent before giving personal information. Despite tight European Union regulation, sites in Europe were found to be no better at being up-front about how users' data would be used than those in the US. Many companies were found to flout EU legislation requiring them to give customers the option of insisting that their personal information is not divulged. As part of the study, a team of researchers set up a set of online identities which were used to test the practice of some sites against their stated privacy policies. This part of the research only tested 17 US sites and 16 sites in Europe but it still threw up some interesting anecdotal evidence. Three sites disregarded requests to be left off mailing lists. These were French book site lalibrairie.com, healthshop.com and UK wine retailer Berry Bros & Rudd, bbr.com. Among the sites that didn't give people any choice about receiving email were babyworld.co.uk, and US bookseller, harvard.com. Another issue thrown up was over the security of credit card information sent online. In one case, US CD retailer cdworld.com sent out two emails requesting credit card confirmation be faxed to the company. This was not done but the order was processed anyway. UU T-shirt retailer 3tee.com sent an unencrypted email containing credit card information. Consumers International is calling for government and regulators to take urgent action to adopt laws, rules and procedures to tighten up on privacy and establish a body that consumers can turn to for redress. The organisation has provided a helpful five-point plan for people to protect themselves from misuse of private information in ecommerce. This includes: limiting disclosure of your personal information, using a separate email account for ecommerce activities, rejecting cookies planted on PCs by intrusive businesses, using privacy tools which allow users to surf anonymously and learning and applying your legal rights. ® External links Consumer International's report Related stories FTC clears DoubleClick of privacy invasion Travelocity drops customers' pants in public Europe warms to spam ban
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2001

SIAA sues auction site pirates

The Software and Information Industry (SIAA) has filed lawsuits against two alleged software pirates which auctioned their goods online. The suits against Michael Chu, California, and Julian Kish, Chicago, were filed yesterday by the SIAA on behalf of Adobe, Macromedia and Alias/Wavefront - a division of Silicon Graphics. They reckon the men shifted thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit goods, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop, at far reduced prices. Chu sold 22 software titles with a retail value of $54,745 to SIAA for just $144.85, the trade body claims. Kish allegedly sold six software titles to SIAA worth $5,594 for $50. The men face fines of up to $150,000 per violation of copyright infringement. This is the first time the US trade group has tried to sue individuals it suspects of flogging pirated software through e-auctions. According to a survey by the SIIA, nine out of ten copies of software on auction sites is illegal. The SIIA released research yesterday which suggests pirates are finding more sophisticated techniques to keep up with auction site crackdowns. If sites try to stop the sale of a particular item, such as eBay's ban on the sale of 'back-up' copies of software, sellers simply contact buyers directly. They are also shielded by being able to hide behind different user names. "It's clear why software pirates have migrated to Internet auction sites," said SIIA president Ken Wasch. "Auction sites provide relative anonymity and relatively free access to thousands of customers. It's never been easier or more profitable for pirates to sell illegitimate software - or more dangerous." ® Related Stories Novell stings pirate for $600,000 BSA swoops on auction site pirate eBay, QXL hit in piracy swoop Concentration camp victims sue Yahoo! Major MS pirate pleads guilty
Linda Harrison, 26 Jan 2001

Fakegifts.com owners face criminal charges

The American duo allegedly behind fakegifts.com could face a lengthy spell in jail for selling imitation designer chic, such as Cartier watches, over the Net. Cartier, which started the investigation into Mark Dipadova and Theresa Gayle Ford in Columbia, claims it is the first action by federal prosecutors against sellers of allegedly counterfeit material online. Dipadova and Ford have been charged with three counts of trademark infringement, one count of conspiracy, and one of making false statements to federal agents, the Wall Street Journal reports The maximum penalty for each trademark infringement is a $2 million fine and ten years in prison, while the conspiracy and false statements counts each carry a maximum penalty of $250,000 fine and five years in prison. The site, which this afternoon was still up and running, carries the bewildering tagline: "Worry-free luxury shopping that demand the respect that you deserve." It sells fake luxury goods such as Gucci handbags ($70) and Oakley's sunglasses ($19.50). The fact that the site goes by the name of fakegifts, and has the word 'replica' plastered all over it, does not protect it from the law. Apparently. ® Related Stories What do Rolex, Brad Pitt and Llanwrthwl have in common? Hampshire cops caught using counterfeit MS software Swap your fakes for genuwine software Microsoft anti-theft evening ends in robbery
Linda Harrison, 26 Jan 2001