14th > February > 2001 Archive

Intel retires hurt from streaming media biz

Intel is to scrap its streaming media unit, less than a year after opening up for business. The 200 employees of Intel Internet Media Services will be offered jobs within the company. Last May, Intel announced its intention to grab a flat slice of the streaming media market. The chip giant said it would spend a couple of hundred million bucks to build its position in streaming media, a market it reckoned would generate $2.5bn revenues in 2004. However, the market grew too slowly and the competition grew too fierce for Intel's liking. In an interview with Reuters, Intel spokesman Bill Calder said: "There just aren't as many customers and as many opportunities. That's not to say it won't develop, but it's over a longer period than we had anticipated." The company will work with other streaming media suppliers instead. In its core business Intel is used to 80 per cent+ market share and gross margins in the high fifties to low sixties. The company wants to broaden its revenue base, but it's going to have a hell of a time finding a new sector that it can dominate and deliver those kind of margins. ® Related Story Intel ate my iCat
Drew Cullen, 14 Feb 2001

WorldCom raises spectre of job losses

Staff at WorldCom International and UUNet have been warned that the integration of both companies will almost certainly lead to job losses. In a "Dear Colleague" internal memo issued to employees yesterday, WorldCom International head, Liam Strong, continued to expound the merits of UUNet becoming enveloped by WorldCom. But he also warned that integration would come at a price. Said Strong: "Whilst the details of the new organisational structure are still under discussion, there will be some inevitable rationalisation and change as the business is streamlined. "...where there are the same or similar functions which span both businesses this may result in a duplication of roles and the requirement to reduce headcount in the new combined function," he said. He continued: "Many of you will already have seen speculative reports in the media that WorldCom is intending to downsize its business. In International our aim will be to define the new organisation and to minimise as much as is possible any disruption due to change and reduction in headcount." WorldCom has always declined to comment on job losses associated with this proposed internal merger. Last month it was reported that WorldCom could can more than 10,000 of its workforce in a move to streamline the business. UUNet is a WorldCom company. ® Related Stories WorldCom to swallow UUNet WorldCom to shed loadsa jobs?
Tim Richardson, 14 Feb 2001

UMC doubles Q4 profits

UMC has said its Q4 profits have more than doubled from the same period a year ago. Its success is down to chipmakers such as Motorola and Infineon subcontracting their production to UMC. For the three months to 3 December, UMC reported a profit of NT$16.7 billion ($505 million), more than double the NT$7.2 billion ($218 million) it made in the same period a year earlier. The company is not so optimistic about the current year but has said sales and profit won't fall as much as they will for Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), its biggest competitor. TSMC expects margins to plummet nearly half to 24 per cent and utilisation of its plants to fall to 70 per cent of total capacity. ® Related Story Taiwan Semicon: Q1 2001 to be a bit of a downer Transmeta says TSMC is second 'primary supplier'
Robert Blincoe, 14 Feb 2001

Deja UI too costly to save, Google boss tells Reg

Google killed Deja's front end to its newly acquired Usenet archive because maintaining it was judged too costly, co-founder and CEO Larry Page told The Register yesterday. Although the historical archive has been saved from the moribund Deja operation, one of the co-founders of the Internet discussion system added his voice to the criticism yesterday, telling that he thought the new style of user interface was inappropriate. "From my standpoint and with a responsibility to my shareholders - the costs of keeping [the Deja UI] Deja running were too high," said the Google boss. "It was possible - everything is possible, but economically it wasn't a rational thing to do. There's a reason Google still exists." "I feel for all the users - I would be upset too," said Page, a note he sounded several times in our talk. But since Deja had bumped along with a skeleton staff for several months, and functioned fine, we wondered if this would really have hurt Google financially. Surely software doesn't rust? "The operational costs would be very very high," said Page. "It's true that software doesn't rust - but 100 machines and big data center is a lot to ask our staff to support." Page said Deja was on the verge of liquidating its assets, and said his team had done a good job working round the clock for the past two weeks to bring the beta Google interface online under the circumstances. "It's hitting some really hardcore people harder than most. Most are happy," he said, as traffic had remained constant from Deja levels, or even increased slightly. But one of the founders of Usenet, Steven Bellovin, told The Register that he hopes Google will rethink it's prototype Usenet user interface. "I'm hoping Google understands that they have to do this differently," said Bellovin, who with Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis is credited with creating Usenet, and is an AT&T Fellow at Phonezilla's Florham Park labs in New Jersey. "What Google didn't understand is that people want to make a narrow search." Sorting by thread, for example, was essential. Google's strength in searching the web wasn't appropriate for the discussion medium he told us. Google presents a single hierarchy, all-or-nothing view of discussion threads in its current beta. Bellovin said some the outrage was simply a reluctance to change, but more than that, the wrong paradigm was being used. Page said he welcomes input on the new interface, which would evolve as the five year Deja archive was added within the next 90 days. Examples could include notification tools, but a return to the tree interface which represents discussion threads in a hierarchical format looks unlikely. "Speed was the primary thing - the [Deja] pages were 100k frames. We would never do anything like that," he told us. Reader feedback from our story yesterday was running at about five parts horror, one part wait-and-see. Steve Godwin wrote "I can not believe what Google has done to Deja, and your article sums up my feeling pretty well. I hope The Register isn't on Google's acquisition list," Almost certainly not Steve, but now you mention it, that could er, ... fix our search engine. More of your letters later. ® Bootnote Bellovin said he thought Usenet would be used by "fifty to one hundred computers max," when he helped put the system together. Among many interesting security links, his homepage also hosts a sublime example of bureaucracy, which visitors to the US may enjoy. Related Stories Netizens blinded by 'half-assed' Google stunt Google saves Deja.com Usenet service
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Feb 2001
Broken CD with wrench

Govt peddles broadband Britain happy pill

CommentComment Reading the Government's latest offering on its vision for a broadband Britain is like swallowing a happy pill. A few paragraphs in and the gloom of the last six months begins to disperse. The depression that has dogged you about the roll-out of ADSL and local loop unbundling begins to lift. ...you know it's not all that bad. The Government is going to set up working party - the UK Online Broadband Stakeholder Group - to report how Britain is doing in the broadband arena. The Government will provide leadership and has reaffirmed Britain's commitment to a broadband future. It will continue to drive forward its "pro-competitive approach to broadband through regulatory pressures on BT's wholesale supply of ADSL, local loop unbundling (LLU), the roll-out of broadband wireless services and the innovative use of satellite facilities". It will tackle the barriers to growth of the broadband market listing nine areas where it can do this including stimulating demand, utilising public money more effectively and alleviating the skills shortage. And, while it works slavishly to ensure all this happens, if for whatever reason it falls short of its predictions, it will also consider direct Government intervention such as tax breaks or subsidies. You see, it's not all that bad. The Government is in control, knows what it's doing and has thought of everything. Sure, we're at an early stage with broadband - just chill out and relax... Except, the mind-altering effects of this Government-peddled narcotic soon fade. If everything is so rosy, why have nine operators pulled out of LLU? Why has the industry lodged complaints about the roll-out of ADSL? Why have AOL UK and Freeserve threatened legal action against BT? Why are so many consumers whinging about installation; technology failure; the ordering process. The Government's perception of how broadband bears little relation to what is happening on the ground. ® Related Stories Govt considers tax pounds for ADSL roll-out UK Govt backs broadband New Labour's Internet election pledge canned
Tim Richardson, 14 Feb 2001

Apple begins to code key MacOS X apps

Mac Rumour RoundupMac Rumour Roundup Apple is working on a fully native MacOS X version of AppleWorks. According to AppleInsider, the company has shipped the latest developer release to staffers. Essentially, the MacOS X release is simply a re-compliled version of the current shipping release, AppleWorks 6.0, though some extensive work is expected to take place to give the app a true Aqua look and feel. Though AppleInsider doesn't say so, we assume the developer release is written to MacOS X's OpenStep-derived Cocoa API, which Apple hopes all developers will ultimately write too, once they no longer have to support MacOS 9 through the 9/X compatibility API, Carbon. After all, AppleWorks 6 is already Carbonised. AppleWorks isn't the only application development Apple is undertaking. MacOS Rumors lists a stack of titles it's heard the company is working on. Interestingly, iMusic makes a re-appearance, this time not as the original name for iTunes, but as a home audio recording studio. iTunes was derived from Casady & Greene's SoundJam, but while the latter had a recording facility, iTunes doesn't. It's not hard to see Apple - now Steve Jobs reckons the company's future lies in solutions not kit per se - considering merging SoundJam's recording abilities with a soundtrack mixing system modelled on iMovie's interface. After all, if you can edit video on a Mac, why not audio too? Then burn the whole lot to CD via iTunes or DVD using iDVD. Makes sense to us. MacOS Rumors also notes iTalk, an all-in-one Net comms tool that integrates AOL Instant Messenger, IRC, ICQ, videoconferencing and VoIP. Again, a smart move given that it may take the developers of pro and shareware communications clients some time to Carbonise their utilities and get them running smoothly under MacOS X. Also at MacOS Rumors we hear Apple sources claiming the company is developing the next generation of AirPort, which will reportedly take the wireless networking technology to speeds of 54Mbps, nearly five times the current 11Mbps throughput. Standards are never static, so we'd expect AirPort to be upgraded this way sooner or later, and for the silicon that powers it to shrink, just as RAM and motherboard chipsets have been reduced over time. Essentially - if the sources are to be believed - Apple is switching from IEEE 802.11b (11Mbps at 2.4GHz) to IEEE 802.11a (6-54Mbps at 5.7GHz), which has been around for some time, but isn't expected to appear in product until later this year. The shift in frequency is handy too, since it should ensure there's no clash between AirPort and emerging wireless data standards like Bluetooth and HomeRF. MacOS Rumors reckons that all this could happen sooner rather than later, possibly in time for MacWorld Tokyo next week, though it bases that claim on the anticipation of new iMacs rather than hard information. Certainly, we're not aware of a company producing 802.11a silicon who is even sampling chips, let alone ramping up for volume production. And 802.11a remains an unproven technology. More to the point, 802.11a and 802.11b are not yet interoperable. And Apple will need to ensure backward compatibility before rolling out a faster version of AirPort. ® Related Links AppleInsider on AppleWorks MacOS Rumors on AirPort
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

Orange has plums squeezed. Market yelps too

Well, after all the fuss, a huge cut in issue price and more general nonsense, the Orange float has been a flop. It's currently sitting at six per cent below the issue price of 10 euros. At times it was nearly eight per cent below. Every financial journalist and analyst now suddenly knows that it was going to be a failure all along, because after all people are still worried about the cost of 3G and, er, it's a bad time for mobile companies. The fact is that France Telecom cut such a wedge off its own company's valuation that it comes as a surprise that the float isn't a success. We still reckon France Telecom should have held off, but then it probably needed the £6.5 billion the IPO raised. Worse than this, Orange's poor performance has dragged down other tech stocks. France Telecom suffered of course - 6.6 per cent down and to a 16-month low. Nokia was down 2.5 per cent, Sonera 3.6 per cent, Vodafone 1.6 per cent, BT 3.7 per cent. Bookham chip-maker was down 10 per cent, Deutsche Telekom down 5.5 per cent, KPN 5.1 per cent, the list goes on and on. The future may still be bright but the last two days and the next few weeks look dark for Orange. ® Related Stories Orange finally valued Orange now worth even less Orange gets cheaper by the day
Kieren McCarthy, 14 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 WinXP beta build 2428 ships – quietly

A slew of Windows XP news came in after Microsoft's conference, so I'll try to summarise it all in one paragraph and not bore you.
Luis Escalante, 14 Feb 2001

VIA confirms March launch for Samuel II

VIA will debut the next version of its Cyrix III processor, based on the upcoming Samuel II core, next month, as predicted. And the company confirmed and clarified what we've heard about Samuel II's successor, Ezra, also known by its internal codename, C5C. Samuel II's codename was C5B. It adds 64KB of on-die L2 cache to the 128KB of on-die L1, a long-time feature of IDT/Centaur's WinChip CPUs, which VIA acquired a couple of years back. The part will ship at 750MHz, just above the 700MHz Cyrix III VIA sneaked out last month. 800MHz and 850MHz Samuel II-based parts will follow soon, the company said, and all three versions of the new chip will support 100MHz and 133MHz frontside bus speeds. The new chips will be fabbed at 0.15 micron and will be smaller than the current 0.18 micron Cyrix IIIs, even though their transistor count is higher. Samuel II's successor, Ezra, will be fabbed at 0.13 micron (or, rather, 0.13 micron transistors made with a 0.15 micron process), allowing it not only to match Samuel II's clock speeds, but to exceed them, initially to 950MHz but ultimately taking the Cyrix III to 1GHz and beyond. As predicted, Ezra will ship early Q3. VIA is also planning Ezra's successor, currently known only as C5X. It will extend the chip's on-board L2 cache to 256KB and support Intel's Screaming Sindy Extensions. Samuel II only supports MMX and AMD's 3D Now! technology. C5X will be fabbed at 0.15 micron and offer speeds of up to 1.2GHz. VIA also confirmed that its upcoming system-on-a-chip part, dubbed Matthew, is due for launch soon, though it's not saying precisely when. Our sources previously suggested Q2 2001, tying in nicely with VIA's official timeframe. Matthew merges the current Cyrix III with its Pro-133X controller and Savage 4 graphics chipsets. ® Related Stories VIA centres sights on .13 micron Samuel II VIA debuts 700MHz 'Samuel' Cyrix III VIA unpacks 650, 667MHz Cyrix III CPUs
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

Microsoft names new president and COO

Microsoft has named Rick Belluzzo as its new president and chief operating officer. He will replace Bob Herbold, who is retiring at 58. Belluzzo has been with MS since September 1999, previously a VP at HP and CEO of SGI. His job will be to "guide the company's business strategy and direct business operations, sales, marketing and business development, as well as Microsoft's emerging non-PC businesses". The interesting thing is that Rick has come from the consumer, touchy-feely area of Microsoft. Read into that what you will (.Net big push?). Here are the quotes: "Rick is stepping up to an even more crucial role in Microsoft's leadership team" - Steve Ballmer. "Microsoft is very well positioned for growth. We've got an incredible year of new product and service launches ahead of us, including Windows XP and Office XP, and we're investing in next-generation technologies such as the .NET platform for customers" - Ricky himself. "As Rick transitions to his broader set of responsibilities, I will spend more time focusing on Microsoft's strategic direction and working closely with Bill (Gates) and the leaders of our product teams - including Jim Allchin, Jeff Raikes and Bob Muglia - on our platform, productivity, enterprise and software services efforts" - Steve again. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Feb 2001

Twisty turny tilting mouse is about

Hall Effect Technologies has announced a new mouse that it says will revolutionise gaming and software design. It has a stationary footprint, and has four degrees of freedom so it can move forward and back, side to side, tilt up and down and twist from left to right. HET says they have been in talks with "loads" of games developers to get them to design new games with the mouse in mind, but acknowledge that taking a new piece of hardware to market is a difficult proposition. Oddly, the group hasn't taken the product to ID Software, Quake's designers, which can only be something of an oversight. Fuller said the company had been in long talks with people developing games for the Beast of Redmond's new console, XBox. "It is something of a chicken and egg situation," said John Fuller, CEO at HET. "The gamers won't buy a product until there are games that take advantage of its capabilities, and the games developers won't design it into the games unless there is a market for it." We had a quick look at the way it handles on Quake, and it didn't seem half bad. The only criticism is that it seemed to turn quite sluggishly, but that could equally have been because it was unfamiliar technology. HET reckons it could cross over between games and business uses too, particularly for CAD users. The company says that while CAD users currently work with split screens, and drop down menus, using a device like the Quattro mouse would allow them to work in a 3D format. There are similar devices on the market, notably a mouse-like device from Logitech that has six degrees of freedom, designed for use in CAD work. But Fuller says that the Quattro has an edge because it is so much cheaper than the competition. The device will officially launch at the E3 consumer electronics exhibition in Los Angeles in May. HET says it will be priced in the same band as a high-end intellimouse. ® Related Link HET's web site
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Feb 2001

BT to release Mac ADSL drivers Monday

BT will ship drivers on Monday that will allow Mac users to use its home-oriented ADSL service with the bundled Alcatel SpeedTouch USB modem. The company's ADSL ISP subsidiary, BT Openworld, told The Register that the drivers have been given the thumbs-up BT's broadband infrastructure division, BT Ignite. BT Ignite said the drivers will be posted on the BT Openworld Web site on Monday 19 February. And the drivers will be fully supported by BT Ignite on that date, said Chris Simmons, BT Openworld head of product marketing. Simmons also told us that from Monday, BT will promote its ADSL offering as Mac compatible. The drivers require MacOS 8.6 or above and a PowerPC processor. "Anyone with a modern Mac should have no trouble," he said. The news follows Alcatel's decision to make the Mac drivers available on its own Web site yesterday, and our demand than BT gets its act together and its story straight, having already offered what it calls "trial" drivers to some Mac users and given very different ship dates for the drivers' final release to others. The availability of the drivers direct from Alcatel follows the Belgian comms company's decision to offer drivers for Linux users. Those drivers, which will also be made available on the company's Web site, are due next month. ® Related Link Mac users wanting to jump the gun can download the drivers from Alcatel's ADSL Web site Related Stories BT comes clean on Mac ADSL support Alcatel says 'yes' to Linux USB ADSL support Linux people petition Alcatel for USB ADSL drivers
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

NEC to cut spending on basic chip manufacturing

NEC has said that it will scale back investment in its semiconductor business by as much as 20 per cent next year because of a decline in chip prices it expects will continue into 2002. In an interview with Bloomberg, Keiichi Shimakura, NEC's deputy president in charge of semiconductors, said that the firm will cut capital expenditures beginning in April by "outsourcing chip-packaging operations to other companies." Prices for semiconductors have declined as demand for PCs has failed to live up to expectation resulting in a "chip mountain" and in turn lower semiconductor prices. NEC will outsource more of its basic production processes and concentrate more on technically advanced operations like etching circuits onto silicon wafers. Despite the move, NEC, the world's third largest chipmaker, remains committed to developing 0.095 micron chip fabrication technology. Based on a reduction in capital spending by one fifth, NEC expects to spend approximately ¥174 billion ($1.49 billion) on microprocessors for the year beginning in April. This, according to Bloomberg, compares, to a spend of ¥217 billion ($1.9 billion) this year, mostly to upgrade plants and equipment. Separately, networking equipment chipmaker Bookham Technology said slower sales of fibre-optic semiconductor components to key clients like Nortel Networks will impact its revenues next year. The news came as Bookham announced widening annual losses of £8.5 million ($12.3 million), up from £4.5 million ($6.54 million) a year earlier. Andrew Rickman is stepping down as the firm's chief executive to become an executive chairman, to be replaced by Bookham's president Giorgio Anania. According to Bloomberg, Bookham expects a decline in sales of its basic products to be offset by increased sales of chips for use in high-speed next-generation networking kit that uses dense wave division multiplexing, or DWDM. ® Related Link Bloomberg NEC interview Related Story Another chip survey proclaims $200bn sales in 2000
John Leyden, 14 Feb 2001

Dixons boss offloads shares, stock drops

Dixons chairman Sir Stanley Kalms has offloaded more than third of his stake in the company causing shares in the business to plummet. Kalms remaining holding dropped £785,000 on the move, because his decision seriously put the wind up other investors who also started selling. Kalms is known for being a smart stock market player so he probably felt Dixons share price was overvalued. The boss of Dixons, Currys, PC World, and the Link, has entered into a complicated stock loan and hedging agreement. He has agreed to loan the three million shares to an unnamed third party, but he can reclaim them all at a later date. Kalms is expected to sell the shares and the hedging agreement means he can sell at a fixed price. Other directors sold shares as well. ® Related Stories PC World's bargain P4 beast British e-tailers offer shabby e-returns service Dixons smiles on camcorder sales
Robert Blincoe, 14 Feb 2001

Crawford out in InterX boardroom putsch

Philip Crawford has resigned as CEO of InterX with immediate effect. (This is a euphemism for being fired.) Company co-founder and executive director Simon Barker has replaced him. Today, the company revealed it signed up two customers for Bladerunner (a high-ticket content management/customer tracking software platform routinely compared with Broadvision and Vignette) in the second quarter, and another two for consultancy services. This pathetic figure tells us, as much as anything, why Crawford is no longer with the company. InterX has Premier League budgets but Dr. Martin League sales. This is why the axe may be swinging at the software developer's operating costs. In a statement released to the London Stock Exchange today, InterX said it was "concerned with the high ongoing cost of customer acquisition arising from a combination of general market conditions, under which corporate spend on internet-related software has been depressed, and the Company's current route to market. "Accordingly, the Board has commenced a strategic review of the business in order to take greater advantage of the significant opportunities available for its technologies." InterX is to announce the results of the review at the release of its interims in March. The company today said that costs and its cash pile were expected to be in line with internal budget forecasts. Crawford very high-profile in the British IT business sector. Former jobs include top jobs at Bull, Oracle and EDS. ®
Drew Cullen, 14 Feb 2001

Hacker defaces Intel's Web site

A sub-domain on Intel's Web site has been defaced, apparently by same hacker that also sprayed tasteless graffiti on Gateway's site in an earlier attack. Support pages on Intel's site were replaced by a profane message from The-Rev of cracker group the "sm0ked crew". The defacement, which is almost identical to that inflicted on Gateway, is mirrored on Attrition and can be seen here. At the time of writing the defacement had been removed by Intel but the sub-domain on Intel's web site, talisman1.cps.intel.com, was temporarily unavailable. The rest of Intel's site was apparently unaffected by the attack, which will nonetheless cause acute embarrassment in Santa Clara. In common with many sites successfully attacked by crackers in recent months, Intel's Web site runs Microsoft's IIS4 Web server on a NT4 platform. ® Related stories Gateway web server flaws exposed Hardware site Anandtech defaced Microsoft Web site hacked in Kiwiland Mass hack takes out govt sites
John Leyden, 14 Feb 2001

AMD relaunches LDT as HyperTransport

AMD has renamed its Lightning Data Transport (LDT) technology HyperTransport and, as predicted, plans to create a consortium of supporter companies to drive the adoption of the technology and its establishment as a standard. HyperTransport is AMD's new core I/O bus, providing a high speed, high bandwidth connection between a system's Northbridge and multiple, parallel I/O buses via an array of Southbridge chips. That allows compatibility with existing I/O and add-in systems, such as PCI, since they can be added to as system as just one more module on the HyperTransport bus. Other, newer transport technologies can also be supported, thanks to this modular approach - just hook up another HT bridge to the chain. AMD claims that up to 32 bridges can be daisy-chained together, irrespective of their own bandwidth and speed specifications. The bus also doubles up as a multiprocessing bus, connecting each processor's Northbridge to all the other processors' Northbridge chips. That's essentially a NUMA configuration, giving each CPU its own local memory, connected via its Northbridge, and access to other processors' RAM banks. AMD reckons the technology will provide up to 6.4GBps of internal data throughput, rather better than today's typical interconnect bandwidths of 266MBps. Chimpzilla developed LDT to allow its Athlon CPU to be used in multi-processor server environments, but the change of name to HyperTransport reflects the technology's applicability to other environments, many of them highly lucrative embedded applications. Along with the name change, AMD announced Sun, Broadcom, Cisco and Nvidia as its initial band of supporters. A canny bit of PR, that. Each company represents specific sectors AMD wants to target HyperTransport at: servers; broadband networking; routers and comms products; and graphics, SoCs, North- and Southbridge parts, respectively. The supporters are also key players within those sectors, which AMD hopes will pull in their competitors. Indeed, Nvidia's arch-rival, ATI, quickly leapt onto the bandwagon and declared its support for HyperTransport soon after the AMD announcement. Of all these companies, only Nvidia has been linked to shipping product - almost certainly its Xbox chipset, and the PC-oriented versions of it that it's hoping to sell to. Nvidia's decision to license the technology slipped out last month at the Platform Conference in San Jose. Then, an AMD spokesman said ten companies, including Nvidia, had licensed LDT, and 20-30 others were evaluating it. That may be why AMD isn't launching its HyperTransport Consortium just yet, preferring instead to suggest it as something it plans to do (though when the launch will take place, it didn't say). ® Related Stories Nvidia licenses AMD LDT bus AMD drops EV6 for Hammer bus
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

Woman gets mobile phone stuck up back orifice

UpdatedUpdated A 20-year-old Taiwanese woman had to have a mobile phone surgically removed from her back passage after a sex game went horribly wrong. According to a report by PA doctors in Taipei eventually managed to get the phone - a Nokia 8850 - out and said kinky sex games with her boyfriend has led to the rectal rumpus. Why a phone? Well, the vibrate function is definitely thought to have something to do with it. Whose phone? We cannot be sure whether she coveted her own phone or her boyfriend's. Or whether it was damaged in the ordeal (apart from olfactorially) We believe this is the first public case of a mobile phone being used for such gratification. Well, internally anyway. And advances in miniaturisation have certainly made anal insertion a more practical possibility. Our resident sexual freak, Dr Ping Reece had this to say over the matter. "She made a good choice in Nokia's 8850. Light, compact and with a smooth finish that will reduce the frictional effects. The vibrate is a good, deep shake as opposed to some modern phones that twitter rather than moan. It also has a slide down panel, which has helped me out with a few difficult extrications, I can tell you." ® Please read this if you are simple Now look here. The above picture is something that we knocked up in the office. If you check out the description it says "Artist's impression of what doctors might have seen". Of course it's not a real X-ray. It wasn't even meant to look like a real X-ray. It was a visual gag, a joke. The story, however, is true. Do you see what we've done now? Incidentally, our technical correctness is indisputable. That is an X-ray of the relevant area. The phone actually is the Nokia 8550 and that is sort of the position that the phone would have been in, although probably not in such a beautifully posed way.
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Feb 2001

WinXP testers get unique IDs from MS, plus a workaround

Microsoft has ratcheted up the security in the latest build of the Windows XP, which went up on Microsoft's FTP servers last night, and on the 'unofficial' FTP servers shortly afterwards. But it's a virtual ratchet, largely - according to the build 2428 release notes that escaped along with (of course) the code, each technical beta tester is being assigned a unique installation product key in order to unlock the build. But then the notes go on to tell us that the build has a registry key that can be used to disable the product activation in this build. So although you've got a unique key that can be tracked back to you (possibly...), you don't actually need to use it anyway. Previous leaked builds have been accompanied by various patches and workarounds that deal with the product activation technology, but with 2428 Microsoft is saving these, er, misguided enthusiasts the effort by putting the workaround in the release notes. Weird or what? The kindest way to look at it is that Microsoft is still pretty nervous about ticking-off its testers, and is still concentrating on getting them used to the idea of protection, in preparation for the actuality. The company says that the registry key will not be present in future builds and in Beta 2, but actually it's doubtful that the shutters can be slammed down effectively when (if) Redmond finally decides to fully enable the system. Current Microsoft product key systems usually have back doors in them so that the people Microsoft trusts (or at least, has to pretend it trusts) can get their jobs down. So OEM support departments, for example, get access to 'universal' keys, and these escape. Microsoft could try cracking down on escapes, but the release notes suggest it's not quite ready to do so. Testers are told not to share their product key on pain of losing their technical beta privileges, except with "designated representatives in corporate testing situations." Similar exceptions will no doubt exist when the finished product ships, so there goes Fort Knox, folks. You'll recall we observed yesterday that despite claims elsewhere to the contrary, the restriction of Beta 2 to a small number of testers was unlikely to be anything to do with controlling code leaks. Microsoft tells testers that 2428 will not be made generally available on CD, but ISO images almost immediately became available today from non-Microsoft sites. The shelf life of the code itself may however be limited. According to the estimable Mary Jo Foley testers are being told to expect Beta 2 on February 19th (nine days closer than the last ETA spotted), and that it's possible that 2428 might itself be designated as Beta 2. Which would make the product notes for 2428 even weirder than you thought they were, but there you go... ® Related story: Early death for 98 as MS pushes WinXP - public beta confirmed
John Lettice, 14 Feb 2001

DoJ investigates MS role in Corel Linux pullout

Microsoft has confirmed that it's the subject of a new antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice, over its investment in Corel this time. Although the new Bush administration is seen as being more likely to ease up on Microsoft than the previous tenants, it still appears to be business as usual round at the DoJ. According to Microsoft the Corel investigation is one of those routine, "narrow" things. That of course is how they usually start, but as the new appointees at the DoJ can scarcely have got their feet under the table yet, it's perfectly possible that this one won't turn out to be serious. The DoJ subpoeanaed Microsoft for all documentation relating to the Corel deal three weeks ago. Its interest in the $135 million Microsoft put into the company in support of its .NET strategy was reportedly piqued by Corel's subsequent decision to get out of the Linux OS business. But under the circumstances the Corel deal surely couldn't have had anything in common with, say, the browser carve-up deal Netscape claimed Microsoft offered it. Or the alleged quid pro quo whereby Microsoft didn't kill Mac Office if Apple bundled IE. Or - on second thoughts... ®
John Lettice, 14 Feb 2001

Dutch police arrest Anna Kornikova virus suspect

Dutch police have arrested a man suspected of writing the Anna Kornikova computer virus. Police in the northern province of Friesland are holding a 20-year old who faces possible charges of damaging computers through releasing the worm, offences which carry a jail term of up to four years. The man, who cannot be named under Dutch law, turned himself in to police this morning on advice from his parents, according to a Dutch wire report. A confession-come-apology for spreading the virus was posted on a hacker site under the name 'OnTheFly', which is the user name of a customer of Excite@Home who was reportedly under investigation by the ISP after posting messages on virus writing newsgroups. As previously reported, the Anna Kournikova (or VBS/SST) virus comes in an email with the subject line "Here you have, ;o)" and an attachment called AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs. The virus is activated by the user clicking on the attachment, after which it emails itself to everyone in a user's Microsoft Outlook address books, so potentially clogging email servers. After its release on Monday, the virus spread rapidly and provoked a number firms to shut down their email servers as a precaution. Whilst it caused a great deal of inconvenience and irritation its effects were far less severe than first feared, principally because its payload was not particularly destructive and its mode of propagation not as effective as that otherwise similar Love Bug. ® Related Stories Anna-bug author OnTheFly 'fesses up Anna Kournikova bug drops harmlessly onto the Net Anna Kournikova virus spreading like wildfire External links "Confession" by Anna bug author
John Leyden, 14 Feb 2001

Two more years for 10.8TB card

Keele High Density, the intellectual property company formed as a joint venture between Cavendish Resource Management and Keele University, has pushed back the likely arrival date of its ultra-high capacity solid state storage technology yet again. The company was founded on the basis of research carried out by Ted Williams, Professor Emeritus of Optoelectronics at Keele. It says it is able to squeeze 10.8TB of data onto a solid state memory device the size of a credit card that will cost less than $50 to produce. We first wrote about Keele High Density back in August of 1999. Last year in October the company made a big noise about the technology, suggesting it would be ready in a year to 18 months. However, five months on, it looks like it will be a bit later than that. Mike Downey, the MD at CMR, said that while other areas were progressing nicely, the solid state technology would be in engineering for at least another year, more likely two. The company also developed technology that will allow 475 GB of non-volatile RAM memory on rotating media in same surface area as a DVD disc, and data compression techniques that will increase transmission bandwidth capacity and processing speeds eight times. Both of these are available to license from KHD now, Downey said. He said that there were "loads" of interested parties, but declined to name any of them. ® Related Link More information, including a technical paper about the technology, is available here on CMR's site. Related Stories UK Brains deliver 8-fold increase in processing power Boffins cram 10.8TB of data on to a PC card
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Feb 2001

Conflicting standards

Want to get the latest news on Buy.com? Look no further than the February 8th issue of The Industry Standard Europe. Page 16 carries the sad news that Buy.com is to shut down its UK operation. If you find that a bit upsetting, don't fret. Just turn to pages 22-23 where there is happier news - John Lewis has saved the day. In these troubled financial times, many dotcoms will no doubt welcome the magazine's 'pick your own ending' approach. Bless. ®
Lester Haines, 14 Feb 2001
DVD it in many colours

The pay-phone is not dead!

It turns out that people who don't have mobiles or fixed landline phones use payphones more than any other group. This earth-shattering fact is just one of an array of useful conclusions draw by Oftel researchers from their latest research into the telephone habits of the average Brit. They also discovered that people who use a mobile phone still have to, on occasion, resort to public phone booths, in particular when their battery has run down, or there is no signal. Some mobile users even preferred making a call from a payphone if they thought there was a danger of losing the signal mid call. More interestingly, there is a perception among the public, or at least the sample that was questioned, that BT payphones are run as a public service. Apparently there is a "stick with what you know" attitude to phone booths and people prefer to use BT booths even when there are others available. The news comes just days after BT announced that it would not be adding to its pay phone network this year for the first time since it started installing them. ® Related Story BT cuts off payphones Related Link: Find the rest of the report here.
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Feb 2001

Fujitsu Siemens claims transaction processing record

Fujitsu Siemens is claiming a world records for database performance, based on recent US tests conducted with a version of Microsoft's SQL Server 2000 running on its Primergy H200 server. Based on the industry standard Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) benchmark tests, Fujitsu Siemens is claiming that its dual processor servers can significantly lower transaction costs and raise speeds. In the online transaction benchmark TPC-C test, the Primergy model H200 recorded 17025 tpm-C, a measure of how many transactions that can be completed in a minute, representing a price/performance ratio of Euro 16.88 ($15.55) / tpm-C. Fujitsu's statistical spin doctors said this performance are the best result for a dual server and almost 5 per cent better than the previous benchmark. However the system used weighs in at a total cost of a whopping E287,384 ($264,795), and the speeds would not be achieved with smaller systems based on the server. We had a chat with Simon Pilkington, Fujitsu Siemens' Primergy business manager, who said the tests show that Primergy customers can make the most of the server in database applications where it was more "cost efficient". However Fujitsu Siemens became shy when asked whether any of their customers would realistically use the system used in the test. Wouldn't they have got a better Unix set up for the money? This isn't surprising because the tests don't really prove anything, other than statistics don't tell us much about real-life performance. Despite this Fujitsu Siemens' figures will be the stuff of PowerPoint presentations and rival claims from Oracle and Sun for months to come. We can hardly wait. Last year Compaq and Microsoft touted a "record-breaking" benchmark of 227,079.15 tpmC obtained on an aggregation of a dozen eight-way ProLiant servers running Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000. These figures were spun to suggest Windows Datacenter as a serious alternative to high-end Unix servers for running databases. Much the same pitch, albeit for a lower-end Windows server, is being put forward for the Fujitsu Siemens' servers. For the record, the Primergy H200 server used in the benchmark was configured with two Intel Pentium III Xeon 1GHz processors and featured 256 KB SLC, 4GB RAM and 70 hard disks, giving a total storage capacity of 1177 GB. The performance was achieved using Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition. ® External links Transaction Processing Performance Council Fujitsu Siemens press release: "World record holder made in Germany" Related Stories Spotting the 'mainframe killer' spin in Windows DataCenter Big Q's TPC benchmarks disqualified Stellar Wintel TPC Number?
John Leyden, 14 Feb 2001

ICANN explains ‘thinking’ behind top domain decisions

ICANN has explained its peculiar rational behind the choice of global top-level domain names, and defended accusations that the entire process was flawed, at a Congressional sub-committee. Chairman of ICANN, Vinton G. Cerf, was faced with a barrage of criticism over the process, its limited time span, and the final choices made. He defended the decision to charge all applicants a non-refundable $50,000, saying that the fee was needed to cover the cost of the process since ICANN has no money of its own. He admitted it was a shame that its staff report into the bids - on which decisions were heavily based and was full of errors - wasn't available to anyone except ICANN until only days before the decisions were made. He claimed this was because of the large number of comments made by members of the public, which were then tied into the report. As for complaints that ICANN refused to talk to applicants: this just isn't true. ICANN staff refused to have private conversations with them. "For this process to work, the vast bulk of ICANN's work must be transparent to the public, and so with very rare exceptions (such as matters dealing with personnel issues), everything ICANN does it does in public." [cough! splutter! cough!] We must warn you that Mr Cerf's definitions of "private" and "personnel" are liable to be very different from your own. The three-minute pitch that comprised the entire personal contact that applicants had with ICANN staff was also justifiable. Oral presentations "were never intended to be the sole or primary source of information for the Board". And "the opportunity to make a presentation at the public forum was simply the final step in an extensive process, available so that any last-minute questions could be asked or points made." We haven't heard if he commented on the accusation that the incredible speed with which the entire process was run (and original aspects of the process dropped) was due to the fact that the At-Large members (again, that's the directors voted for entirely democratically by the Internet community) were due to start. As it was, the decisions were made before they took their places and none of them had a hand in the process. However, the most interesting bit about Vinton's testimony was the explanation of how ICANN viewed the entire process. The decision over what gTLDs were approved and who was given the right to run them apparently had nothing to do with how good the actual applications were. "This effort was not a contest to find the most qualified, or the most worthy, or the most attractive for any reason of the various applicants," he told the committee. "ICANN is not and should not be in the business of making value judgments. What ICANN is about is protecting the stability of the Internet and, to the extent consistent with that goal, increasing competition and competitive options for consumers of domain name services. Thus, what ICANN was doing here was an experiment, a proof of concept, an attempt to find a limited number of appropriate applicants to test what happens when new TLDs of various kinds are added to the namespace today." It would seem that ICANN has a serious identity problem here. No matter what it may think it is, it has effectively managed to win executive power of the Internet. With this power comes not only technical responsibility but also commercial responsibility. If ICANN is unable to make a fair decision, it should have found another organisation to do it. He goes on to say the same thing a few times, but sums it up in this phrase: "This was never a process in which the absolute or relative merit of the particular application was determinative." So have we all misunderstood ICANN? It is just a techie outfit that has been lumbered with all these other responsibilities and everyone is being a bit unfair to it? Well, we'd agree that it's not up to the job. But then the organisation has gone out of its way to make itself as powerful and non-attributable as possible, so it only has itself to blame. We'd welcome the formation of another body to take over the non-techie aspects of the Internet. In fact, we'd be delighted. ® Related Links Vinton's testimony The Committee run-down Related Story Congress sets date for ICANN review
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Feb 2001

Acer to cut 500 staff this week

Acer Inc is to cut 500 staff in Taiwan by the end of the week, the company said today. The layoffs, representing around five per cent of the company's workforce worldwide, will affect foreign workers at its Hsinchu industrial park, according to Dow Jones. Acer, which currently has around 6,000 staff in Taiwan, said many of the workers' contracts were due to run out and it had decided not to renew them. Those affected work in Acer's PC manufacturing and assembly business. The company wants to move some of its manufacturing to China and the Philippines. The move, unfortunate considering Acer's slogan of "It's not about technology, it's about people", emblazoned on its site today, comes amid a major rejig at the company. In November it cut revenue forecasts for the year by $620 million to $2.5 billion, and a month later revealed plans to shut half its 30 factories worldwide to save cash. It also said it would split its own-brand PCs from its contract orders business. ® Related Stories Acer to ditch OEM PC business? Acer cuts annual sales estimate by $620m Acer lost $450 million on cancelled IBM contract Acer flogs PCs cheap on dealer site
Linda Harrison, 14 Feb 2001

TSMC starts fabbing Nvidia Xbox chips

Nvidia's Xbox graphics chip and the console's Southbridge, dubbed the Media Communications Processor, have been sent off to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for production. Which means, of course, that Microsoft can soon start building consoles ready for Xbox's ship date, "this fall", according to Microsoft's Xboss, Robbie Bach. We hope so. We'd hate Microsoft to experience the same supply problems and build quality issues that have plagued Sony's PlayStation 2. Both Nvidia chips are being fabbed at 0.15 micron, the company reiterated. The graphics chip, which Nvidia calls the Xbox Graphics Processing Unit (XGPU), contains over 60 million transistors. It will run at 250MHz to process over 125 million polys per second, four billion pixels per second and one trillion ops per second, roughly five times the performance of the GeForce 2 GTS. The Xbox's MCP turns out to be a four billion ops per second dual-DSP chip dedicated to handling audio - 64 channels of 3D positional sound, boasts Nvidia - and network data. The audio part at least is a licensed version of Parthus Technologies' MediaStream DSP. Actually, much of this we already knew. Isn't it about time you told us something new, Nvidia? ® Related Stories Sony admits some PlayStation 2s 'not up to standard' Nvidia to take X-box South Bridge to PC OEMs
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

Sex ads on police computer case goes to tribunal

An industrial tribunal has heard that a Transsexual police worker used Metropolitan Police computers to produce ads for an escort agency. Angela Day, who was known as Keith Engvall before her op, was dismissed from her job as a civilian worker in Paddington CID when the allegations came to light. She is claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination by the police. According to a report in today's edition of the Times, the tribunal was told that Day printed ads for her escort agency using police computer systems. The paper reports that Day admitted her activities to police officers but said she made only "a few pounds" or "the odd drink" for message services. Day, who is believed to be in her 50s, denies this and said the evidence against her is only circumstantial. Oliver Segal, a lawyer representing the Metropolitan Police, said police were concerned that Day's business could bring the Met into disrepute. The hearing continues today. ®
John Leyden, 14 Feb 2001

BTIgnite president hits back at ADSL knockers

The president of BT Ignite has moved to calm fears about the sluggish roll-out of ADSL in Britain and reassure ISPs that the telco is doing everything it can to speed up and improve the broadband installation process. In an interview with The Register Steve Andrews explained how BT Ignite has made great strides over the last six months to increase the supply of ADSL installations to all ISPs - not just BTOpenworld. He refuted all allegations that BTIgnite (which provides wholesale ADSL access and also installs the technology) and BTOpenworld (BT's broadband ISP division) were somehow in cahoots dividing up the ADSL market between themselves. Last week a senior executive at Freeserve called the roll-out of broadband a "national disgrace" and prompted AOL UK and Freeserve to threaten legal action if matters weren't resolved. Both ISPs jumped on figures that suggested BTOpenworld had secured two-thirds of all ADSL installations in the UK. "We keep ourselves at arms length from Openworld," stressed Andrews, a point consistently made by BT although disputed by some rivals and industry observers. Andrews declined to comment directly on the current dispute between AOL UK, Freeserve and BTIgnite although he did express "disappointment" that that the issues "have been raised in public". "There's disappointment that customers don't feel they can talk to us," he added. Asked whether some customers were justified in feeling that the current allocation process for ADSL installations was biased, Andrews said: "I strongly refute that the allocation process is unfair. We've gone to the ends of the earth to make it fair." And commenting on views that some ISPs have been held back because they have been unable to get assurances from BTIgnite about availability, Andrews said: "Tell us what you want to achieve and we will come back to you. "If our customer base wants more, we can deliver more...although clearly there is an upper limit. He insisted that "supply is now meeting demand". Hitting back at criticism about the speed of roll-out for ADSL products Andrews said that initial research had shown that six months in, Britain was ahead of the US on the percentage of ADSL installations. "We're reasonably proud of our achievements," he said, without wishing to sound complacent. He said since BTIgnite started offering wholesale ADSL services last year some 35,000 customers had had their service installed. When BTIgnite first started it was managing 200 installations a day. Today that figure stands at 500, subject to demand, although Andrews' goal is 700 a day. But he conceded that BTIgnite would fall short of a target set at the end of last year to install around 70,000 - 80,000 customers by the beginning of April. Commenting on the tortuous upgrade path that existing BT ISDN users have to face if they want to move up to ADSL Andrews said that he had a "hit team working on it" and that it was "working on ways to get round the problems". ® Related Stories AOL tells MPs 'broadband held back by BT' Britain's broadband crisis - The War of Words BT 'institutionally restricting market share' AOL UK delivers broadband ultimatum to BT
Tim Richardson, 14 Feb 2001

Bill Gates Sr fights Dubya's estate-tax ban

The father of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has initiated a high-minded petition to fight Dubya's proposed estate-tax cuts and has enlisted support from some of America's wealthiest Vulgarians, though not his own son, the New York Times reports. The senior Gates was a successful lawyer in Seattle for decades and earned himself a quite respectable nest egg independent of his son's vast fortune. The petition will appear as an advertisement in several US newspapers on Sunday. "Repealing the estate tax would enrich the heirs of America's millionaires and billionaires while hurting families who struggle to make ends meet," the petition reportedly says. According to Gates' reckoning, if the estate tax goes, then the poor will have to be taxed more or be offered less in crucial social services. Furthermore, charitable giving will be discouraged, as it is one of the ways the rich can decrease their estate-tax burden. Signatories include George Soros, David Rockefeller Jr, Steven Rockefeller, Agnes Gund, and ice-cream magnate Ben Cohen, the Times notes. Billionaire Warren Buffet declined to add his signature because he doesn't believe the petition goes far enough, the paper says. The junior Gates is not involved, but Dad was ready with an explanation. "My son is sympathetic but he wants to stay focused on three things: his family, Microsoft and world health," the Times quotes him as saying. Quite right: picking up a pen and signing a petition would undoubtedly create an intolerable distraction. Now, before all the high-mindedness makes us toss our cookies, we might consider how easy it is for the very rich to take such an apparently noble position on social responsibility. Their descendants will inherit at least the means to do well, estate tax or none; but the merely rich, particularly those with family-owned businesses, may not be so lucky. It's not unknown for small to medium-sized businesses to 'downsize' (sack people) or even go bankrupt under the burden of death duties when the patriarch dies. Perhaps, then, the estate tax should be reserved solely for the super-rich. Maybe it should even be increased for them, so they can better enjoy its many blessings, soon to be enumerated in Gates Sr's published petition. ®
Thomas C Greene, 14 Feb 2001

Pedos volunteered system passwords to cops

The investigation into the w0nderland paedophile ring could have been scuppered at the last minute if the men had not given police their encryption keys. A spokeswoman for the National Crime Squad told The Independent that "We were only able to get into their systems when they voluntarily gave us their passwords." If the same situation were to arise today, the suspect would be obliged, under the RIP Act, to furnish the investigators with the key to decrypt their data. However, the Operation Cathedral investigation predated the Act becoming law. A spokesman for the Home Office told El Reg: "The thinking behind RIP obviously predates operation Cathedral, but when putting together legislation the government consults all relevant parties for expert opinion." He said that a case like Operation Cathedral would not have been the only reason for the law to be drafted, but he would not rule out the possibility that it formed part of the debate. He said "It is a good example of what the RIP Act is trying to do." Sentencing There has been a big negative response in the press to the sentencing of the w0nderland paedophile ring, probably because most people have misunderstood the situation. The same thing happened at Vulture Central yesterday. Recent changes to the law have raised the maximum sentence for trading illegal images of children from three to ten years. However, the sentences handed out to the w0nderland club refer to crimes that were committed before the law was changed. In fact, according to NCS officers, the investigation into the w0nderland ring was a big motivating force behind the change in the law. People were expecting sentences close to ten years for the members of the club, and compared to this 30 months does sound lenient. However, it is only six months short of the maximum sentence that could be imposed. ® Related Link Foundation for Information Policy Research Related Stories Child porn ring smashed RIP not a problem The solution to RIP Politician line up against Euro email snooping RIP just got scarier
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Feb 2001

In space no-one can hear you boot

This snap of the International Space Station Alpha is worth a closer look. Among the space gear and the bloke reading the instructions for the flat-pack pine shelving unit, is an IBM Thinkpad (arrowed). If you look closely at the screen (you'll have to take our word for this, or check out the original pic here), you can see the following: Restart the System for changes to take effect C:\ This is repeated about 5 times following several other commands typed in (obviously the restart prompt was ignored). Finally, the last line of the screen is displaying: Performing Restart to check new configuration Well, the thing clearly didn't restart, or you wouldn't be seeing this screen. It looks like it's fallen over on the reboot command. And hold on - isn't that MS-DOS they're running? We hope that they're only using the notebooks for playing Space Invaders and not controlling the life-support systems. ® Bootnote Thanks to loyal Reg space cadet Tim Epstein for this interstellar ditty.
Lester Haines, 14 Feb 2001

Apple moots return to UK Mac show

Apple has been in negotiations with the organiser of the UK's unofficial Mac show - indeed, the UK's only major Mac-oriented event - raising the possibility that the company may abandon its policy of focusing solely on Europe's only official Mac event, Paris' MacWorld Expo Europe. According to a MacWorld UK report, one Bob Denton, the guy behind last autumn's TheExpo, has had discussions with representatives from Apple's UK, US and European operations, including Apple UK general manager Mark Rogers. TheExpo was instigated last year by Mac-oriented ISP AppleOnline after Apple dropped plans for an official UK Mac show, Apple Expo 2000, in favour of the Paris event. Apple had already postponed the show from the previous year having fallen out with long-time UK Mac show organiser Emap Exhibitions back in 1998. Last year's show was clearly sufficiently successful to warrant a rerun this year, this time under the title MacExpo, according to MacWorld. 'Mac', of course, is an Apple trademark, so the show's organiser clearly needs Apple's permission to use the new name - hence the discussions between Rogers and co. and Denton. The fact that the show's Web site still describes the event as TheExpo would imply they may not have got the thumb's up from Apple, but the MacWorld story's tone suggests that Apple has given is permission and that discussions are ongoing as to the company's possible attendance at the show. Certainly, when we bumped into him at an Apple do last month, Rogers seemed very keen to build bridges between the company, its UK channel, and peripherals and software suppliers. An official sanction for TheExpo 2001 or even an Apple presence at the show would certainly enhance such a programme. Denton, meanwhile, has been here before. He was originally behind Apple Expo 2000, organising the show for exhibitor CKS/Web on Apple UK's behalf. He also organised TheExpo 2000, this time for Agenda Marketing on AppleOnline's behalf. Whatever it ends up being called, TheExpo 2001 or MacExpo 2001, the UK show will take place on 22-24 November 2001 at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. ® Related Link MacWorld Expo's story The TheExpo 2001 Web site Related Stories Date set for independent UK Mac show UK Apple Expo 2000 is toast - official Apple pulls out of own UK show
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2001

AOL lays out legal defence over version 5.0 class actions

The class action against AOL is due to arrive in Miami's District Court on 2 March, and the Internet giant has laid out its legal defence. The action - a conglomeration of several filed early last year - is seeking compensation for damaged caused to people's computers thanks to version 5.0 of its software. The software, it is claimed, stopped customers from connecting to the Net through any ISP except AOL, and fiddled about with system settings in order to tie in consumers. This has the effect of crashing some computers and causing constant error messages to pop up on others. Amazingly, when AOL produced version 6.0 at the end of last year, the same problems were encountered. There is no doubt that AOL attempted to tie in customers. The software is thought to have changed around 200 files and there is no way that most users would know how to get round it. And that this monkeying about caused PCs to go haywire is not disputed - but is AOL legally to blame for it? No, says AOL (unsurprisingly). It has no case to answer because users signed up to AOL's Ts&Cs when they decided to install the software. Of course, these contain clauses to the effect that AOL isn't to blame if the software screws up their PC. Legally, it's a fair point. Plus, without this proviso AOL would be nuts to put any software out there. Ah! But the Ts&Cs don't appear until after you downloaded the software and by then the damage is done, say the defendants. Besides, AOL is culpable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. No we're not, says AOL. For the Act to be used there has to be over $5,000 worth of damage. The question is: will this hold up legally? There may not be $5,000 damage to a single PC but in total, damage stretches into millions. And hang on, cry the offended. AOL distributed this saying it was "risk free" and "easy to use". Clearly it wasn't. "What you actually believe that guff?" said AOL [actually, we've made that bit up]. We suspect the court case will be unfeasibly dull, so we may have to just cover the final decision if that's alright. ® Related Stories AOL 6.0 gets user flak AOL scoffs at class action AOL hit by second class action More class action grief for AOL Galaxy spins round AOL class action
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Feb 2001

Elonex sues Compaq over power saving patent

London system builder Elonex is suing a bunch of computer monitor makers, including Compaq and Gateway, over alleged infringement of power saving patents. The 12 separate lawsuits, brought by Elonex IP Holdings and the Netherlands' EIP Licensing, claim that a dozen manufacturers infringed three Elonex patents regarding power management technologies in computers left on and unused, Reuters reported. The suits were filed late yesterday in the US District Court in Delaware. Elonex claims the US and Japanese trade association the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) used standards related to its technology during the time its "Low-power-consumption monitor system" patents were still pending. These patents were issued in 1995, 1997 and 1999. VESA is not one of the defendants in the cases. The Display Power Management Signalling (DPMS) standard allows computers to tell the attached monitor's brain to switch to different power saving modes, such as taking the picture off the screen. As well as Compaq and Gateway, the other companies hit by the suit are Proview International Holdings, Pixie Technologies, LG Electronics, Delta Electronics, Amtran Technology Co, Kuo Feng Corp, NEC, Lite-On Technology, Compal Electronics, and ADI Corp. These businesses, "like virtually every other computer and monitor manufacturer in the industry, began using the technology described in the patents... when they began producing monitors utilizing the DPMS standard," Reuters reported court papers state. Elonex and EIP Licensing want an injunction to stop manufacturers using this commonplace technology, plus damages for missed royalty payments. And other manufacturers have not escaped - another nine suits are expected to be filed today. Last January Mitsubishi agreed to get licenses for Elonex's power management technology, joining the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi and Philips. A list of Elonex patents can be found here. ® Related Stories Mitsubishi settles with Elonex over power patents Elonex sues Dell, P-Bell, Micron over monitor patents Elonex eyes potential windfall
Linda Harrison, 14 Feb 2001

Have you forgotten it's Valentines Day?

Somewhere, deep down in the unromantic recesses of your mind you know that 14 February is Valentine's Day. It may not have surfaced into your consciousness yet. If it this is the case, you run the risk of damaging your relationship or at least having a blazing row when you get home. Time is short but don't panic. First of all, go here. This is a Valentine's card site, it's easy and it's quick. Now send an email to whatever email address your loved one is least likely to have looked at today. This will form an essential piece of your defence. Incidentally, if at the moment you're thinking that this is no big deal, snap out of it. Quick. You must do something. Now, you're too late to book a meal - you'll never get a table. Unless you work very fast in fact, pretending you've planned a surprise night out will not work - too many factors, too risky. So, you must suggest a quiet night in as if this was your intention all along. Tell her/him that you hate the commercialisation of Valentine's Day and you'd rather do it proper and stay in for a bit of loving. That's better than any meal - just the two of you. Then, announce swiftly afterwards that nevertheless she/he deserves a night out, so keep next Wednesday/Thursday night free and we'll have a meal then. Now, we'd love to tell you how to get the essential gifts online but you're too bloody late. Instead, go to the supermarket quick quick on the way home. Get some good wine and some nice food (if you can't cook, GO to the best takeaway in your area). Flowers may be difficult but give it a whirl. Do NOT turn up at the house until you have at least three gifts. Overwhelm, overwhelm, overwhelm. If you pull it off, snatching victory from the jaws of argument will be even sweeter. Good luck. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Feb 2001