1st > February > 2001 Archive

Italian Footballers in Website prostitute probe

A bunch of Italian footballers has been implicated in a sex ring that offered prostitutes online. Police said the men, who were not named, played for a "top Milan-based soccer club", AP reported. There are two Milan teams in Italy's Serie A - Internazionale, which denied any player involvement, and AC Milan, which refused to comment. But Internazionale coach Marco Tardelli seemed to disagree with his club's statement. He told Italian TV the accusations were true, while coming out with a revelation of his own. "They were stupid, they got caught," he said. "Compliments to those who don't get caught. I never got caught." His family must be very proud. The Website in question showed advertisements by both male and female prostitutes, who offered their services for an earthmoving $1,400 a pop. The site was apparently part of a organisation busted by police. They seized computer gear and hundreds of photos, and charged two people with abetting prostitution. And the players' involvement? That concerns a little party they are accused of organising with several of the women. The Italian stallions allegedly started the night off in a top Milan restaurant, before whisking some of the ladies off for a private party at one of the men's homes. It is not known if any of the footballers scored. ® Related Stories Football more popular than sex, Novell claims Sites offer soccer coats for pets Football fansites get sweet FA Blackmailed football star named on Web I'm no cybersquatter says Ronaldo.com owner
Linda Harrison, 01 Feb 2001

Canon beefs up printer collection

Canon has beefed up its printer range with four fresh models - the Bubble Jet S400, S450, S4500 and S800. The S400 prints up to nine pages per minute (PPM) and is aimed at the home and small office user. It includes Canon's Photo Optimizer PRO technology and USB support. The S450 prints ten ppm, with 1440dpi, and is aimed at the SOHO user. The S4500 is an A3 colour printer that can be used with Windows or Mac operating systems and is aimed at businesses. All three come with Single Ink tank technology, which means users don't have to throw the entire cartridge away when one colour runs out - each colour can be replaced separately. They all also double up as scanners. The S800 is aimed at printing photographs, and Canon reckons it can churn out an A4 photo, at 1200dpi, in around two minutes. ® Related Stories Send digital snaps to mobile devices HP, Canon sued in printer patent case Xerox to chop 4000 staff after Q4 loss
Linda Harrison, 01 Feb 2001
server room

Nortel helps stalk you on line

Nortel is getting ready to enable your ISP to serve up advertising come-ons based on your surfing habits with its new "Personal Internet" network software, the company announced Tuesday. Nortel's "Personal Internet products will help application, hosting and service providers, content publishers and enterprises to transparently distribute personalized content across the Internet, and to profit from a new wave of personalized Web services," the company cheerfully reports. This new level of intrusion will be accomplished by tracking surfers at the network level, on the pretext of delivering more reliable and faster service. "Personal Internet solutions will give customers [e.g., ISPs] the power to uniquely identify individual Web users, deliver custom content and services from the fastest content location, and increase infrastructure efficiency." This will not only enable an ISP or a host or a Web site operator to identify a particular individual and target ads based on their surfing habits and profile information, it will also enable them to determine what sort of device one is using at a given time, such as a computer or a mobile phone, and deliver content tailored to the gizmo as well. The justifying overlay is a sort of Akamizing scheme which will distribute cached content whipped up from servers least clogged by user demand, with some manner of intelligent routing capability, euphemistically dubbed the Alteon Personal Content Cache and Alteon Content Distribution Manager. Another element is the Shasta Personal Content Portal, described as "a platform-independent content delivery software engine that lets service providers control content access, steer subscribers, and deliver self-provisioned services on a per-subscriber basis." This will be integrated with the Shasta 5000 Broadband Service Node. "Imagine a network that knows who you are, where you are, and can reach you whether you're on your mobile phone or at your desktop. Even better, imagine instead of finding your Web content, it finds you. Sounds personal. Exactly," the company's advert gushes. 'Sounds personal?' It sounds like a crime known as stalking to us, but the company's marketing screed cheerfully and strenuously insists that this is something the average surfer wants and needs. Not everyone is in agreement. "ISPs and telcos should not be monitoring where their customers go to build up a profile for targeted advertising. They are carriers, like the post office, and have no businesses looking inside the envelopes to decide where to send more junk," anti-spam outfit Junkbusters' President, Jason Catlett, observed. 'Should not' is one thing. American law is another. Presently there is no legislative or regulatory impediment to the sleazy schemes and vile dreams of digital marketeers. Responsibility rests with the surfer not to be victimized. Common-sense practices such as refusing cookies and ActiveX controls and restricting Java permissions, using free crypto schemes like PGP, using anonymous proxy servers, and registering at Web sites with fictitious personal data whenever possible, can go a long way towards keeping one safe from marketing abuse. For those who prefer not to bother with all the tinkering and tweaking, the premium Freedom package from ZeroKnowledge Systems will do it all automatically, in exchange for $49.95 American. ®
Thomas C Greene, 01 Feb 2001
One Microsoft Way by https://www.flickr.com/photos/36182550@N08/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ cropped to 648-432

Woundup Names for Whistler and Office 10 leaked

WinInfo's Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft will reveal the final names of both Whistler and Office 10 by February 13, one day after Whistler Beta 2 is expected to be released. As you read earlier this week, Microsoft will most likely be using XP (eXPerienced) after both Whistler and Office 10. Its slogan: "Windows XP and Office XP: Are you experienced?" Personally, I think it's much better than having a number after the word "Windows", and thankfully we won't be hearing something like "Me", which confused half the world into thinking it was some possessed version of Windows.
Luis Escalante, 01 Feb 2001

Big Blue eclipsed at LinuxExpo

"The news here is that the big guys have taken over!" we overheard a rather excitable reporter inform his editor via cellphone in the LinuxWorld Expo press room. "They've squeezed the little guys out! That's the news!" Well, not only is that not news, folks, but it isn't even true. Not from our impressions of the show floor, and we've been to the last four Stateside Expos. Of them all, this one has the healthiest balance between the come-latelys - the IBMs, Dells and SGIs - and pure play newcomers. We're not sure if IDG has eased the gate pressure, or simply made the floor tax more equitable; but expansive stands from the likes of Zelerate, Blue Cat, Zimian easily outnumbered the traditional corporate big spenders. And it's only three years since we spent an afternoon with Maddog in a corner of CeBIT hall smaller than a Jacob Javitz bathroom. And that was the entire Linux stand. So that's one of the perils of deciding your angle in advance, we guess, Naturally, the big hitters were there, and all had something to announce. Even if it wasn't very much. Take IBM for example. So enormous is Big Blue, and so extensive its product catalogue, that it can an afford to release an enormous amount of hot air in the form of Linux announcements at regular intervals, without any noticable depreciation in body mass. Today it said it had Linux up and running on its Sequent ccNUMA boxes, now renamed eServer x430, scaling up to 64 nodes. It's already got Linux either natively or in virtual machine mode on AS/400 and S/390(ZzzzSeries), and IBM pointed to Deutsche Telekom subsidiary TSystems hosting email services on large multiple Linux VMs. There was plenty more largely inconsequential updates to Tivoli and Notes, NetFinity and NetStation thin clients. Strategy! What Strategy? After trotting through this, we were awoken from a near coma by a brave reporter - one of several non-professional journalists, it's worth adding. How worried she asked IBM's chief Linux strategist Irving Wladawsky-Berger was Big Blue about the recent, mooted boycott because of its involvement in the CPRM caper? And what it would to stop shooting itself in the feet again? We were fully awake by now, and after some confusion Wladawsky-Berger deflected the issue with the comment "you have people who know a lot, but not everything." And it's with that kind of delegation, we guess, is how you get to be a Veep of strategy, while the underlings get left with the task of explaining the gory details. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Feb 2001
DVD it in many colours

Handcuffs remain on BT

BT is still too dominant in the residential market place and has to be regulated, according to telecoms regulator Oftel. The inflation-busting price controls will mean that consumers can expect to pay less for their telco services, including dial-up Internet access, from BT for the next four at least. In a statement, the winged watchdog explained it would extend the existing price controls on BT's residential prices because "BT continues to have market power in the provision of telephony services to residential customers, although the extent of competition is increasing". BT maintains that it should be cut free from the regulatory handcuffs and allowed to charge what it likes. The winged watchdog disagrees. David "Harry Potter" Edmonds, Head Boy of Oftel, said in a statement: "BT remains dominant in the provision of a number of interconnection services and controls on the charges for these services continues to be necessary. "Oftel's price control proposals represent a firm and fair settlement for BT, its customers and competitors," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 01 Feb 2001

ISPA's legal eagles fly in for chat

Britain's Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will sit down behind closed doors today to thrash out a way to deal with unlawful content published on the Net. Two proposals are on the table for discussion. The first, is that ISPs should receive "blanket immunity" when it comes to carrying or hosting defamatory or libellous comments. The second, called "R4", was devised by Richard Clayton of Scottish telco Thus, and provides a process for ISPs to deal with complaints about offensive content. If adopted, an ISP would remove offending material when asked to do so, but put it up again if asked by the author. It's hoped such an approach would free ISPs from having to decide whether material was unlawful or not and confirm that they are merely acting as a conduit. Last year, physicist Dr Laurence Godfrey secured an out of court settlement against Demon Internet concerning a defamation action. As a result, many ISPs in Britain now feel it is safer to remove material if asked to do so rather than try and act as "judge and jury". Today's quarterly meeting of the Internet Service Provider's Association (ISPA) Legal Forum will look at a whole range of issues thrown up by the European E-commerce Directive which comes into force next year. Consultation for the implementation of the Directive opens in the spring and ISPA would like to present a united front. ® Related Story Demon coughs up damages in Godfrey libel case
Tim Richardson, 01 Feb 2001

The color of irony

Judging by the letters we get, it seems that some Reg readers have trouble distinguishing the serious from the tongue-in-cheek. This is not to say that they're thick - just that humour does not always successfully cross international boundaries. Let's face it, we smarmy and sarky Brits will throw in a bit of ironic drollery at the drop of a hat. And if you don't get it, well, that's when unfortunate misunderstandings can occur. To rectify this problem, the Vulture Central Humour Comprehensibility Committee has devised a colour coding system to flag various levels of wit. In future: Droll insinuation will be sage green Mild sarcasm will be burgundy Smarminess will be ultramarine Irony will be lavender Flippancy will be sunflower orange Biting sarcasm will be pillar box red Humour liable to cause offence will be in an insipid yellow which you can only read when you highlight it Additionally, out-and-out jokes will be preceded by the following graphic warning: We hope that this clarifies things. Thankyou for your attention. ®
Lester Haines, 01 Feb 2001

IBM shuts its Dublin hard disk plant

UpdatedUpdated IBM is shutting its hard disk manufacturing plant at its technology campus in Dublin. Production is continuing until March. The plant, part of the IBM Storage Technology Division (that's right, IBM has a STD), started manufacturing product just over two years ago. We are informed it was the most expensive building on the campus, with an 85,000 sq ft ballroom cleanroom. Cynics suggest the rest of the divisions on the campus are there really just to take advantage of Ireland's low corporate tax rates. Apparently, the plant suffered quality issues due to problems with introducing glass substrate disks for its desktop and server products. This, combined with a slow market in Q4 1999 and Q1 2000, resulted in lower volumes in the last year through the plant. It sounds like IBM's parent plant in Mainz, Germany gets to benefit. Its future is secure; they should get a load of new tooling from Ireland, wired to CE rather than US standards. The workforce got told about it yesterday, and HR people were handing out a list of options available to each employee. In a nice touch Arno Hebgen, the plant manager from Mainz, told the Dublin staff they were not "losers". IBM did announce $100 million worth of funding for the campus in July 2000, which was to be spent over the following 12 months. The company declined to say how it was allocating the money. ®
Robert Blincoe, 01 Feb 2001

PlusNet boots 1100 users from its service

PlusNet has kicked off 1100 users from its service in what is believed to be the biggest single cull of users from any ISP. The move has brought stinging and abusive criticism from angry users who claim they were only given three hours notice before the unmetered SurfTime service was pulled from under their feet. An email dispatched last night said: "It has become clear to us through your pattern of Internet use that the PlusNet account to which you are subscribed is not suitable for your needs. Your use of our service is not treating fairly a product that was set up for reasonable unmetered access and was never intended to provide unlimited Internet access. "We regard your current use of the service provided as inappropriate and no longer wish to provide you with Internet access on this account. Your account will be deactivated shortly." Lee Strafford, MD of PlusNet, told The Register that punters were warned last month that if they left their Net connection open 24/7, breached bandwidth restrictions, or used it for business purposes, then they would be ejected. He said the SurfTime product provided unmetered access - but that it did not mean that users could expect to have a dedicated connection to the Net. "We acted totally reasonably," he said. "However, if any mistakes have been made we will put this right," he said. Last week, Totalise booted 900 users from its service. ® Related Story Totalise vaporises 900 users
Tim Richardson, 01 Feb 2001

French say encore to 3G auction

The auction for 3G licences in France will have to be re-run after its one-fee plan for the four licences available collapsed. All but two of the bidders withdrew, turning the sale into a farce and heavily embarrassing the French government. The French decided against the British and German 3G approach of a straight auction, preferring instead a flat-fee of £3.2 billion for each licence. Companies would have to enter a "beauty contest" to persuade the regulators why they should have it. Even though the price was less than we and the Germans ended up paying, recent reservations about 3G technology and the huge cost of investment needed for it has made mobile companies very wary. Head of the government Lionel Jospin is particularly annoyed because he planned to use the £12.8 billion to prop up the country's shaky pension system. Now the auction will have to be re-run and either the auction system changed or the licence price reduced. The only two bids put forward - from Orange (France Telecom) and SFR (Vodafone) - will still be assessed, said the finance minister Laurent Fabius, although it seems unlikely that they will be willing to pay a higher price if the cost is reduced so others take the remaining two licences. The withdrawal from the auction started with Deutsche Telekom on 21 November. Then, days before the auction was to start (24 January), Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux and Telefónica decided it wasn't for them. Then, as soon as it started, Bouygues Telecom said the price was to high and wandered off as well. There's irony in bundles here. By watching and waiting to see what happened elsewhere, the French government has actually slashed the income it could have expected. However, since companies in the French market will not have to pay the ludicrous prices of elsewhere in Europe, there is a very real possibility it may produce a far more effective and popular 3G network. We shall see. The cost of the 15-year licences is to be paid in two parts: half this year and the other half over the next 13 years. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2001

Californian patents thought process

An interesting sounding patent has been filed in the US, following the change in US patent law that allows schemes as well as physical inventions to be patented. One Hugh Harlan of California, who is head of a company called The Brain, has patented the operation of code that mimics the human thought process. (US Patent 6031537) His patent covers computer operations that represent close and distant thoughts. It means he'll receive royalties for any process that can be represented by flow charts linking chunks of related information together. The New Scientist reports that he has also applied for a global patent (WO 0057257) in anticipation of similar changes in patent law elsewhere. ® Related Link US patent database online
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Feb 2001

Corel in transcendental makeover

When a company has a corporate makeover, it indicates one of three things: It wants to get in touch with the child within Its logo has offended the religious sensibilities of some potentially lucrative market It's in financial difficulty. In the event of the latter, the rebranding is known technically as 'shifting deckchairs on the Titanic', and was a sure sign that telecoms kit manufacturer Lucent was in trouble. Then there was all of the Computer Associates malarkey, a company that fits none of the above categories (there isn't one for getting in touch with the beast within, is there?) Now Corel has announced a revamp, complete with new logo. It's not just a logo, though - it's a complete philosophy in a gif. Take it away, Robert Travers, Creative Director of Corel's inhouse Agency: The logo was reworked to modernize it, with the goal that it would mirror the new corporate direction. The choice of font and colours reflects this evolution. The logo was inspired by what I call the moment of inspiration. It happens when what you're working on starts to come to life. You lose yourself in your drawing and time has no real meaning. You become at one with your surroundings, yet you are lost within them. You are at peace, yet you have a rush of adrenaline. These dualities inspired the use of the yin yang element in the shape of the head. This astounding piece of fiddling while Rome burns was written no doubt to the sound of whalesong and the pungent aroma of joss sticks. Things must be bad. You can read the whole press release here. It's not for the faint hearted. ® Related stories Computer Associates shows its true colours CA is 'friendly, open, trusted'
Lester Haines, 01 Feb 2001

AOL Time Warner poo-poos Napster-BMG deal

Bertelsmann may reckon it can launch a fee-based, legitimate version of Napster's music sharing service next summer, but AOL Time Warner, for one, disagrees. The newly merged media giant, owner of Warner Music Group, has joined fellow 'big five' music company Universal to express in public its scepticism over Bertelsmann's team-up with Napster. "We have had discussions with Bertelsmann, said AOL Time Warner co-COO Richard Parsons, "but we haven't seen a business model that puts the reality around that dream." Still, that's not quite as negative as Universal's attitude to the Napster-Bertelsmann partnership, which has been scathing since the deal was announced last October. This month, Universal's new boss, Jean-Marie Messier, said that if the US Appeal Court finds Napster guilty of copyright violation, his company will not settle out of court. In a case parallel to the music industry's legal action against Napster, Universal was the only major music company not to settle out of court with MP3.com and walked away with significantly more cash than its fellow 'big fivers' did. Presumably it hopes to repeat that with Napster. The others may too, which is why they're being cautiously negative about Bertelsmann's chances of success. Unlike MP3.com, Napster hasn't made enough money out of its service and the software that powers it to pay the damages the music industry is seeking. And, in the meantime, they continue to discuss the matter with Bertelsmann, according to the German media conglomerate. "We're working with and meeting with all the major record labels and the discussions are ongoing," said a company spokeswoman. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Feb 2001

The latest on Project Ginger

Vulture-eyed reader Georg Klein has trawled the Internet and found not only a description of Project Ginger but also where you can buy it from. While everyone has been insisting that Dean Kamen's invention is some form of personal transport and a picture of this invention shows some 1950s style woman steering a carpet sweeper, the truth is far sexier and more interesting. Project: Ginger is in fact an inanimate doll who looks suspiciously like porn star Ginger Lynn. But of course, as Dean is sure to demonstrate, she isn't inanimate if you drink a special potion (for some reason called an aphrodisiac in the accompanying notes). A secret video of the scientists working on Ginger has actually been released under main film label TriStar, so all the breathless hype wasn't necessary. It was the happiest mistake they ever made, you see. As Kamen, Bezos and Jobs are only too aware "it started in science and ended in biology". Don't believe us? Click here. ® Related Link Project Ginger Related Stories Ginger in action! Okay! Okay! This is what everyone reckons Ginger is Ginger nuts told to back off We know what Ginger is
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2001

FreeDrive renews reason for service switch off

Online storage provider FreeDrive has changed its mind about why it decided to suspend its public file sharing facility just over a week after blaming its move on software pirates. Company chairman Jack Sandner emailed users this week, writing: "On Monday, January 22, FreeDrive sent out an email informing you that the Public Sharing Utility was being discontinued... The email indicated that unlawful file-sharing activity was occurring, and that software manufacturers and government agencies were investigating." According to Sandner, "that information was incorrect". The original email, from FreeDrive president David Falter, said: "We at FreeDrive have determined that significant abuses of our Public Share utility are occurring by individuals who are selling illegally obtained software to others. "In an effort to co-operate with software publishers and the United States Department of Justice, we have elected to halt, for the foreseeable future, ALL use of the Public Share utility." It now turns out that "FreeDrive has no evidence that unlawful file-sharing was or was not occurring, and the company has not been contacted by any software vendor or government agency," according to Sandner's email. "In the end, the Public Sharing Utility was discontinued for sound business reasons - a huge amount of bandwidth was being used by a small percentage of users. It was not cost-effective, and most importantly, we decided it would impact our service to you." Effectively, Sandner is saying the company made all that stuff about software piracy and co-operation with the DoJ up. We can see why it might do so: pulling a service because it's proving too expensive to run is all very well and good, but it doesn't sound too good to inconvenienced subscribers. Far better, then, to spin it up a bit. The snag is, you risk getting rather more publicity than you bargained for, and this appears to have been what happened at FreeDrive. Hence FreeDrive's quick volte face. FreeDrive provides users with 50MB of free Web-based storage. It funds the service and makes its money selling advertising space targeted at its users. According to Sandner, it has over 12 million of them worldwide, up from ten million in December, an increase of more than 20 per cent in just over a month. ® Related Story FreeDrive pulls plug on shared hard disk service
Tony Smith, 01 Feb 2001

Time promotes rivals

Time Computers seems to have been remarkably frank in its latest advert, revealing all its major competitors won more PC awards than it managed in 2000. The ad appears in the March issue of PC Advisor. Interestingly, but only coincidentally, Time's marketing director Mike Phillipson, has just made an abrupt exit from the company. He left on the same day he tendered his resignation, in early January, and is going to write a novel and screenplay. Dr Tarik Mohammed, Time's chairman, is now back in charge of ads. He pioneered the company's big spending approach and may kick someone's arse over the PC Advisor copy. Instead of numbers, all the boxes are meant to have crosses in them apart from Time's, which should have a tick. Repro error, apparently. ® Related Story Time installs revolving job doors
Robert Blincoe, 01 Feb 2001

New ZENworks: sys admin boys are happy

Novell has kicked out a beta for ZENworks for Servers 2 featuring improved server management, namely that NetWare support packs can be installed automatically, so saving sys admin loads of time and making the world a better place. However, not only will the backroom boys have more time to deal with ignorant end users but execs will be able to yabber on in management speak about leveraging and advantages and all that stuff because by not having to install service packs manually, the whole system will be more efficient - and that means money saved. Novell reckons it will shorten the time for upgrades by 96 per cent. That seems a little generous but the point is still made. Admin will now only have to install software or images on one server and they will be fed around the rest of the network and delivered to different OSes. This version of ZENworks for Servers 2 is free to existing customers and the beta version is available here. The finished version will be out mid-March apparently and will be put up for download on Novell's download site unsurprisingly. If you're not a licence holder, you won't know that everyone else pays $59 a user or $3,000 a server. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2001

IBM spins new drive at 15,000rpm

IBM said it has built a new UltraStar hard drive for the corporate server market, designed to compete with Seagate's 15,000rpm offering. The company claims that as well as matching Seagate's speed, the new drive out performs its competition in data retrieval time. The company is expected to announce today that the drive is now sampling. It will initially be available at 18GB and 36GB capacity points Industry reaction has been positive. Bloomberg reports that IDC analyst Dave Reider said the arrival of a second drive running at 15,000rpm gave the speed a certain credibility. "Without a second source for these drives, there's a hesitancy in the marketplace," he said. Bill Healy, vice president of IBM's storage division, said that the company expected high demand for the drive because people need the speed to run web sites and handle online transactions. However, Seagate is expected to be giving its own drive a bit more oomph in the near future. Hitachi and Fujitsu are also likely to enter the market, so IBM's grace period is likely to be short. ® Related Stories Seagate launches 'world speed record' 15,000rpm hard drive Seagate slashes drive returns Seagate releases monster 180GB drive
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Feb 2001

SonicBlue Q4 revenues collapse

SonicBlue saw its year-on-year revenues halve today when it reported its Q4 2000 figures. As SonicBlue, the company reported revenues of $99.2 million for the three months to 31 December 2000. This time last year it was still known as S3, and reported revenues of $180.5 million. It's not hard to see why. In the intervening 12 months, SonicBlue has shut down or sold off many of the products the company was best known for. Gone are S3's 3D chip business and the Diamond Multimedia graphics card business. That alone took $9.8 million off the company's bottom line. For the quarter SonicBlue lost $37.1 million (40 cents a share), but factor in special items, including "amortisation of goodwill, losses from the liquidation of short-term investments, losses from Rioport", and the loss totals $67.5 million (72 cents per share). During Q4 1999, it lost $6.9 milion. For the year as a whole, SonicBlue achieved net income of $312.8 million ($3.12 per share) on revenues of $536.7 million. It hopes to realise revenues of around $400 million for the current fiscal year. For fiscal 2001, SonicBlue is expecting good results from its Rio MP3 player business, which grew 24 per cent between Q3 and Q4 2000, and "captured a market share position in excess of 50% during the fourth quarter", according to CEO Ken Potashner. And today SonicBlue bought ReplayTV, the TiVO-style digital VCR maker, in a stock swap. Ever acquisitive, the company also bought Sensory Science, which makes home AV products, such as digital TVs. The Sensory Science deal is worth around $8 million. ®
Tony Smith, 01 Feb 2001

Net adoption row couples go on Oprah

The two couples embroiled in the Internet baby adoption row have taken their spat to the highest echelons of the media - the Oprah Winfrey show. The TV chat show queen sat between the two warring factions - British couple Judith and Alan Kilshaw, and Americans Richard and Vicky Allen, who came face-to-face for the first time yesterday. "The reason we're doing this show is so it doesn't happen to anyone else," Oprah stated. The Kilshaws claim they own the baby twins because they paid an online adoption agency £8,000 for them. However, they later found out the girls had already been sold to the Allens in California for half that price. After being shuttled around the US and across the Atlantic, the infants are currently awaiting their fate in the care of a local authority in Wales. It is debatable if the decision to go on the programme itself was in the best interest of the twins - who have been thrust into the media spotlight since the spat began. Or whether the appearance on the show, which today features a chat with Hollywood starlet Julia Roberts, further trivialises the situation. ® Related Stories Internet baby-buy saga goes on
Linda Harrison, 01 Feb 2001

Forget Cockney and Popney, here comes Chipney

There have been several recent newspaper reports about the trend to create rhyming slang terms from celebrity names. For those who are not au fait with the concept, the whole thing is based on Cockney rhyming slang. Here are a few original examples: Apples and pears = Stairs Rub-a-dub = Pub Titfer = Tit for tat = hat Berkshire Hunt = Complete idiot. You get the idea. For further enlightenment check out the master of the East End accent - Dick Van Dyke - in Mary Poppins. Now the world of pop music has jumped on the bandwagon and created a 'Popney' lexicon. Frankly it's a bit lame: Britney Spears = Beers George Michael = Cycle Jay Kay = Takeaway, etc., etc. We reckoned we could do better. Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Chipney: Bill Gates = No mates ('He would go out but he's got Bill Gates') BT Ignite = Fight ('I was trying to use the phone but the kids kept shouting and it ended in a right BT') Silicon chip = Hip ('Like the wheels? Yeah, man, they're well silicon') Larry Ellison = Wellies on ('I'm just going out to see the sheep as soon as I've got my Larry Ellison') Linux user = Drug abuser ('He lost his job when they found out he was a closet linux') AltaVista = wrister ('He seemed all right at first, but then he turned out to be a right altavista') P4 = Bore ('Yeah, I met two programmers in the bar and they P4ed me to death') Dotcom = Bomb ('I put all of my money into the company and they dotcommed') WAP = Crap ('Good match? Nah, it was complete WAP') Hewlett Packard = Knackered ('I tried to boot up the computer this morning, but it was completely Hewlett') AOL = Bloody hell! ('I got into the office this morning and someone had cybersquatted us. AOL!') Ethical hacking = Smacking ('Yeah, I didn't like their mission statement, so I went and gave them a bit of an ethical') Mobile phone = Moan ('I was checking out some wicked ringing tones on the train and all the other passengers did was mobile') Scott McNealy = Touchy feely (see example below) The linguistic possibilities are endless. Now we can put the whole thing together and coin the world's first Cockney/Popney/Chipney sentence: Oy, I'm just off to the rub-a-dub for a couple of Britneys and a bit of the old Scott MacNealy with the trouble-and-strife. Translation: Excuse me, I'm popping down to the pub for two beers and some physical intimacy with my wife. ® Bootnote Can anyone think of a term for Linus Torvalds? Damned if we can.
Lester Haines, 01 Feb 2001

HP coughs to ad cock-up

HP has apologised unreservedly for an advertising error that offered rather more than it should have done. A pull out campaign, running in several UK magazines, was promoting an e-PC and monitor at a special price. Just how special became apparent when we took a closer look at the specs. The offer included a machine with a 633MHz Celeron, 128 MB memory, a ten gig hard drive, a whole load of other bits and pieces and a 15-inch LCD monitor all for the rather nice price of £727 including VAT. Not at all a bad deal, given that a similar looking 15-inch LCD monitor costs well over £600 on HP's UK site. A vulture eyed reader sent us news of the mistake, and included a nib of information from HP's legal department. Apparently an advert is not a legally binding offer to sell at that price. "Technically," the legal eagles say, "An advert is an "invitation to treat" only, and does not oblige you to sell at the price advertised." Clearly it was a bit of a mistake, and serves as a reminder that if the deal looks to good to be true, it probably is. Meanwhile, HP has done the decent thing and coughed to it straight away. It sent an email round to its channel partners warning them of the error, and has issued the following statement to the press: HP acknowledges that there has been a mistake in this case and we are taking steps to correct the error and ensure that accurate information is made available to our customers and partners alike. We apologise for this error and any confusion that may have arisen. ® Related Story Time promotes rivals
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Feb 2001

Amazon touts Asian porn

Amazon surfers have been getting an eyeful after the e-tailer splashed pornographic photos on its site. The pictures are part of a book Amazon.co.uk is flogging called Asian Ladies Photobook. As the title suggests, it features photos of Asian 'ladies' doing various daily activities around the house, such as playing board games or drawing in a book, whilst wearing not much more than a pair of earrings. Although the pictures are by no means hard core, are they the kind of images parents would want popping up on screen if their unsuspecting kids were searching for books to help with, say, their geography homework on Asia? We bet AOL's Connie wouldn't approve. An Amazon representative today defended the e-tailer. After having a gander at the pics, the company's spin doctors issued the following statement: "Amazon.co.uk sells this title (Asian Ladies Photobook) as part of its endeavour to provide the greatest all round selection of books for its customers. "This book is on general release in all major UK retail outlets" (He's right. Everyone knows the dirty mac brigade go to the photography section in any bookshop. Errr, so I've heard - Ed) Amazon is advertising the book, by Arnold Newman, for £13.95, a 20 per cent saving. Serious buyers, and Net perverts, can find the item here. And then click on the 'Customers who bought this book also bought' bit to get more of an eyeful. ® Related Stories Amazon remainders 1,300 staff Amazon.co.uk denies existence of MI6 book Want toys? Amazon gives you dildos and Disney Amazon leaves authors open to abuse
Linda Harrison, 01 Feb 2001

AllAdvantage and Work24 go titsup.com

Dum. Dum. Dum. Another com bites the dust. Actually, since they're fading thick and fast, we've had to put two here so we can fit other stories on the front page. So, farewell Scottish Power and the Royal Bank of Scotland's Work24.co.uk portal. You were a cracking idea but you pissed away £30 million and have nothing to show for it. And hark, you were an innovative concept AllAdvantage.com, but it just didn't work out and now you must go. AllAdvantage has this to say (front page of site). "In 1999, AllAdvantage.com sought to build the first Internet infomediary to create truly interactive, one-to-one relationships... but we spent a small fortune and now no one wants to lose another fortune keeping a little Web site running for another six months, so we're titsup.com." [That bit after the ellipsis was our paraphrase.] AllAdvantage sought to find ways of getting people to earn money while surfing and thus building itself a huge customer base. It didn't work. The Web site gives you instructions on how to remove the AllAdvantage viewbar from your computer. OutofWork24 Interestingly, we have someone involved in Work24 that is willing to go on record to tell us what went wrong. That'll be Tony Price, head of computer e-tailer WStore -- one of the four or five partners that Work24 had. Work24 was a business portal - computers, stationery etc etc - but when it said it would have 150,000 users by the end of this year, it was deluded. Yesterday, it was looking at 2,000, maybe more. Today, it looks at none. Tony reckoned the concept was fuc... bloody excellent. But the portal wouldn't let him talk to customers direct - a touch stupid when you're talking about businesses making decisions. It also did the dotcom thing of blowing a fortune on advertising and getting nothing in return. Silly boys. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2001

Microsoft redefines ‘open source’ – look, don't touch

Remember the gag about how many Microsoft programmers it takes to change a light bulb? The answer's none: Redmond simply redefines darkness. As a variation, try this one - how does Microsoft make Windows open source? It doesn't: it redefines free software - software that gives the user the right to change the source code, as software that doesn't give the user the right to change the source code. In a slightly whimsical interview with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft's Doug Miller says the company has been opening up its Windows source code, with the intention to"make this (source code) available to many hundreds of customers" Mary Jo puts the number at less than a hundred. But it turns out, this isn't software libre at all. End users can't modify the source code, giving the statement the air of something that was dreamt up in a hurry. Microsoft has like most other major OS vendors, provided Windows source code to academic institutions for years: taking its cue from Sun Microsystems which worked academic modifications back into the old, Berkeley based SunOS successfully. But enthusiasm has waned more recently, as it did for Sun, because Microsoft increasingly viewed the exercise as a free bug fix. And lo, here's Miller expressing the hope that Microsoft customers "who find a bug... would contact Microsoft for tweaks". Miller admits that very few customers want to see the source code - shock! - and so presumably even fewer want to find Windows bugs and pay for the privilege twice over: once for the source code license, and secondly for the company time. And remember that not even Microsoft's biggest OEM customers and OS rivals wanted the responsibility of picking their way through the Windows source code. That suggestion was touted around the industry last spring by the AntiTrust Department as a suggested remedy against Microsoft. They received no takers. So if HP, IBM and Compaq don't want to fix Microsoft's Windows bugs, why would Marks and Spencer? ®
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Feb 2001

WorldCom to swallow UUNet

WorldCom is to merge with its ISP sibling, UUNet, to create a single, unified company. The decision to integrate WorldCom and UUNet, a WorldCom company, was announced internally a week ago and should help focus the activities of both organisations. As a result of the integration, the new organisation will have a single sales force eliminating what's described as "conflict in the sales arena". A committee has been set up to oversee the integration which senior management hopes will not be too disruptive. Mark Weeks, a spokesman for UUNet declined to comment on the possibility of job losses as part of the inter-group merger. Although the plans to integrate the company have not been announced publicly, Weeks didn't seem to think it was of interest. "It's not an event that needs to be publicised," he said. It's not clear whether WorldCom will ditch the name UUNet when two become one. Last week WorldCom declined to comment on reports that it was planning to shed 11,500 of its workforce. ® Related Story WorldCom to shed loadsa jobs?
Tim Richardson, 01 Feb 2001

Therapists to profit from dotcom deaths

New York's shrinks will do well out of the dotcom bubble burst, according to one of the city's top ISPs. Juno Online Services CEO Charles Ardai reckons the current mass of redundant Internet workers will end up either in journalism or advertising, or back at college studying for their MBAs. "They're not going to starve," he said, in reply to a question yesterday regarding the fate of these ex-dotcommers. But he warned that the majority of them, mostly young and educated, would probably show "an interesting generational trauma" due to their expectations being raised very quickly through highly-paid jobs in a hyped industry, only to be dashed even faster. "I think they're going to be in therapy for a while," he said. Ardai was speaking at the "2001: An Internet Odyssey" conference - an industry think tank event held last night to predict what Silicon Alley should expect from the Net in the next year. Forecasted changes for the cybercommunity included a paid-for Internet. The panel agreed that moves by Napster and Yahoo!, which both recently announced plans to introduce fee-based services, were a sign of things to come. "Free is principally great as a marketing device. But you have to charge something at some point," said Ardai. Surfers were also told to expect more "webmercials" on the Net, and "a return to common sense" regarding dotcom valuations. Companies will no longer IPO after six months, but take a more normal period, such as five years. And the days of venture capitalists pouring cash into dotcoms will not be back, according to Daniel Schultz, managing partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson Gotham Ventures. "Before VCs thought, how many companies can I get into our portfolio. Now, it's which companies ought to be there," he said. ® Related Stories Napster pay-to-share service coming in June Dotcom value drops 88% in 2000 New York amid dotcom boom Amazon remainders 1,300 staff New Yorkers plot DSL protest
Linda Harrison, 01 Feb 2001