Dave Ditzel, Transmeta co-founder, is resigning as CEO of the fabless CPU firm. He's staying on at the company as vice chairman and CTO, in which capacity he will "increase (his) focus on our future product strategy and technology development". His replacement is Mark Allen, currently Transmeta's president and chief operating officer, who joined the company in January last year. ®
ATI, graphics card OEM to the World+Dog, has revised its Q2 sales and profits estimates sharply downwards. The company says that it will post sales of $230m - below guidance estimates published on January 11. The shortfall is blamed on "weaker personal computer sales worldwide". It also expects to post a loss of between 10 and 13 cents a share for the quarter, when the the results are announced on March 28. The loss is attributed to "one-time higher cost for memory". How did ATI end up spending more money on memory at a time of collapsing DRAM prices? The company says it will break even at the operating leel for Q2 at its cash reserves remain strong "as it continues to reduce inventory". Ominous phrase that. ATI forecasts "modest growth" in Q3 and a move towards break-even after adjustments. The company expects stronger business towards the end of the calendar year on the back of new products and assuming that the PC market strengthens, of course. Missing in the profit warning is how ATI is faring, so far as market share is concerned. Traditionally, the company has dominated orders from PC makers assembling mainstream PCs. But lately, Nvidia has muscled into this territory in a big way. ® Related link ATI press release (PDF)
Serial ATA swapshop Prototype Serial ATA PCs were on show, demonstrating hot pluggable hard disks. But only for Linux users. The Windows drivers doesn't have the functionality at the moment. Right now the Linux demo makes the physical connection, creates a mount point, mounts the file system, and drops a new icon onto the desktop transparently. You still have to press a release button on the drive to undock the unit, although we're sure someone will find a way to do this by dragging it to the wastebasket. Peer To Peer Update Intel talked about Trutella, a Gnutella-based client with some trust metrics thrown in. As we reckoned at the time of the Groove launch, , trust was a core issue that could make or break the P2P business. Although MojoNation has focused on these values, and Advogato and Kuro5hin have trust models for specific applications, this science is in its infancy. At this stage Trutella gives a binary answer: yes, this guy's OK, no not; but it's clear that the team knows that far more sophistication is required for the technology to be usable. In another talk, David Grawrock from Chipzilla described the involvement of the TCPA organization. (IBM, Compaq, HP and Microsoft were founders). Grawrock said the trust model sees to it that identity credential doesn't have any unique information to ensure anonymity. So a challenger doesn't know the identity of the client. Andrew Chien, CTO of Entropia also described how the grid harnesses 140,000 (and rising) distributed PCs for doing parallel computation work. Entropia's been working on this for four years, and has twigged something many of the arrivals have missed - geographic presence. Why hop around the world for something when it might be round the corner? Speedy Boots This isn't news, but it may be worth knowing. Intel's push to reduce boot times involves Rapid BIOS. POST times these days are much better than they what they were, but that leaves lengthy load times for Windows users. Officially recommended remedies in the Rapid BIOS session included enabling DMA, and disabling the junk that insists on loading itself in the Windows system tray. Good advice. ®
The initial benchmark results materialised on the www.spec.org Web site in June 2000, then mysteriously disappeared shortly after Labor Day only to make a second coming two months later. On February 12, Compaq finally announced the AlphaServer ES40 6/833 quadprocessor server. Powered by what the firm called the industry's most powerful microprocessor, an 833MHz, 0.18u Alpha EV68 chip sporting 8MB of L2 cache, the turbocharged ES40 enabled early adopter Celera Genomics to realize a 72 percent performance improvement on proprietary benchmarks run on earlier 667MHz EV67-Inside ES40 systems. The 833MHz ES40 also opened a can of whoop-ass on the SAP Business Information Warehouse benchmark by setting a new record for midrange systems. In addition, the ES40 6/833 set a new record for the Oracle Applications Benchmark, offering up to twice the performance of competitive midrange systems. Mo' Midrange Momentum for Alpha Maintaining momentum in the midrange benchmarketing wars, Compaq on February 26 fired another salvo from its 833 MHz Alpha artillery piece by announcing that an ES40 6/833 quadprocessor configured with 32GB of memory, the Tru64 UNIX V5.1 OS, Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise 184.108.40.206, and the Compaq DB Web Connector transaction monitor posted TPC benchmark results of 37,274 tpmC at $19.11/tpmC. Compaq generally uses Oracle as its database of choice when conducting TPC benchmarks, but the decision to use Sybase for the ES40 6/833 time trials yielded superior performance and price-performance: Not only did the latest ES40 quadprocessor-which is equipped with the fastest currently-shipping Alpha CPUs-set a new speed record for midrange servers, the system became the first RISC/Unix server to come in under the $20 per tpmC price point. Do the Math The new TPC results reassert Compaq's Alpha bragging rights and highlight the substantial price and price-performance benefits of the 833MHz EV68 processor. Just one year ago, an EV67-based AlphaServer ES40 6/667 posted results of 30,738 tpmC at $29.48/tpmC. Accordingly, the AlphaServer ES40 6/833 is almost 25 per cent faster-yet costs about one-third less on a $/tpmC basis-than its predecessor. The 833MHz system also turned in better performance than Compaq's fastest Pentium III Xeon-based ProLiant 8500 6/700 quadprocessor, and totally eclipsed the 32,515 tpmC at $51.95/tpmC attained by an AlphaServer GS60E 6/700 eight-CPU system less than two years ago. An ES40 8/333 uniprocessor with 4GB of memory lists for ~$92K. Additional CPUs are $16.5K; 4GB memory boards cost ~$51K. Equipped with four CPUS and 32GB of memory, the system goes for ~$500K. With additional storage, the TPC test system cost about $743K. SKC believes the latest ES40 will prove to be very popular as a general-purpose midrange RISC server and as an HPTC building block as well. The AlphaServer ES40 6/833 played a key role in Compaq's effort to wrest the APAC National Facility supercomputer contract away from original winning bidder Sun Microsystems after Sun's Starfire servers failed their acceptance tests at the APAC campus in Canberra, Australia. An AlphaServer SC supercomputer cluster comprising some 120 ES40 nodes will be operational in April; when upgraded with ~1GHz processors in October the APAC cluster will rank among the top 60 of the world's most powerful computing systems while serving as the largest supercomputer available to Australian researchers and industry. ® This article first appeared in Shannon Knows Compaq, which owns the copyright. SKC is a fortnightly newsletter, and is available for a one-year, minimum-24-issue and costs $450 outside of the United States. Multiple-copy discounts, electronic distribution, and site licenses are available. Excellent for Alpha info.
Prepare to have your glasses steamed up. The Japanese site PC Watch has posted a pic of Intel's McKinley. At the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose this week CEO Craig Barrett showed McKinley live for the first time, running on prototype 64bit Whistler, Linux IA-64 and HP-UX. The company gave the clearest signal yet that McKinley, and not the first born Merced Itanic chip, will be the first serious business contender from the IA-64 processor family. But more significantly, McKinley will be a "major new platform release" with chipset support for Direct Infiniband I/O, and Scalability Port, the latter being high speed I/O for the 870 McKinley chipset. ® Related Stories New McKinley IO goodies leave Itanic stranded InfiniBand now boasts Added Modesty P4 Northwood has its picture taken Nvidia's NV20 poses for saucy snap
NVIDIA yesterday pumped out two press releases to highlight the steps it's taken to optimise driver set for the Pentium 4 and Athlon processors. Generally speaking, GPU driver sets are geared toward a united goal, to improve the performance of each feature on a graphics card under a certain operating system, such as Windows Me or 2000. Optimisations on a per-processor basis are somewhat unusual, and when they do occur, they are frequently lop-sided, favouring one system over the other. This was particularly true of graphics cards released when the Athlon was starting to make its presence known just over a year ago. The press releases are fairly similar, with identical trumpet-blowing NVIDIA information, and individualised processor-specific spiel about features and support. Dan Vivoli, VP of marketing at NVIDIA, for instance pointed out that "the Pentium 4 processor introduced many exciting capabilities for increasing system throughput and the GeForce3 is ideally suited to take advantage of them". Meanwhile, Ned Finkle at AMD explained that "the NVIDIA GeForce3 provides an excellent, high-performance video option for AMD’s processor customers...NVIDIA’s use of DDR memory in the GeForce3 perfectly complements the AMD Athlon processor’s 266MHz front-side bus and DDR memory speeds". According to the Intel release, the GeForce 3 GPU takes advantage of the new Intel SSE2 instruction set, "including 144 new instructions for 128-bit Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) integer arithmetic and 128-bit SIMD double-precision floating point". The system also takes advantage of the "Advanced Transfer Cache for higher data throughput, a 400MHz system bus, and a Rapid Execution Engine for higher execution throughput". "SSE2" refers to Streaming SIMD Extensions 2. SIMD, in turn, is lengthened to Single Instruction Multiple Data, and is a way of applying a single instruction to multiple datasets simultaneously. With so much repetitive data manipulation involved in gaming, it's not hard to see how the GeForce 3 could be trained to take advantage of this. The Advanced Transfer Cache is merely lower latency, higher bandwidth cache on the processor, and the 400MHz system bus will join it in helping memory-bandwidth heavy tasks like high resolution/32-bit display mode games. It's actually more interesting to see the Intel optimisation than it is the AMD - because based on this, one would suspect that 3D games which use DirectX 8 and the GeForce 3 on a Pentium 4 platform would vastly outscore games running on the same platform but with an equivalent AMD chip. Memory bandwidth limitation may even become something of a moot point; after all, the Pentium 4 isn't exactly low on this front. ® Copyright © 2001, EuroGamer.net, all rights reserved. Press releases NVIDIA GeForce3 Graphics Architecture Optimized for AMD Athlon Processors NVIDIA GeForce3 GPU Optimized for Intel Platforms; NVIDIA GeForce3 Architecture and Drivers Take Full Advantage of the Pentium 4 Processor Related stories Nvidia GeForce 3 is go P4: total dog or really cooking? Read this for more info about SSE2
Oracle has cut its profit forecasts for the first time in three years. The company has blamed cuts in corporate IT spending with senior management not signing off software purchases agreed by their juniors. The slowing US economy was the root of all this, but the company said sales in Europe and Asia Pacific remained strong "License growth was strong in the first two months of the third quarter, and our internal sales forecast looked good up until the last few days of the quarter," CEO Larry Ellison said. "However, a substantial number of our customers decided to delay their IT spending." Earnings for the quarter ending Feb. 28 were 10 cents a share, 2 cents below analysts' estimates. Preliminary Q3 results show license revenues grew about 6 per cent and total revenue 9 per cent. Sales growth from business apps was about 50 per cent. Database revenue growth was flat. ®
We are obliged to Cody J. Reeder for pointing out a sloppy bit of journalism by Tim Richardson in his recent piece Cube8 fledgling dies: Look, I tend to be pretty laid back, and I realize that you all are under a lot of pressure to produce, and I can forgive the occasional typo, and so on. However, I just cannot take it anymore. I am referring to statements like one in the above mentioned article which says, "No one from Cube8 was available by press time." I am constantly seeing that "no one" from this or that company was available by "press time." BUT YOU DON'T HAVE A "PRESS TIME"!!!!!!!! You publish on the WEB, for god's sakes! YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A "PRESS" MUCH LESS A "PRESS TIME." You can publish whenever you like!! If you want to wait for a comment, THEN WAIT FOR IT!!!! WHEN THE HELL IS "PRESS TIME" ON THE WEB??? It's as bad as here in America (that's U.S. to your Canadian readers), and the bimbette news reader breathlessly announces that they have a "live" update from "the news room." The goddam "news room" is another desk on the other side of the same freaking studio in which Blondie has parked her own bum. And who the hell cares if the "update" is "live." What's the alternative? Dead? Ananova? I know that fun is fun, and that old habits are hard to break, especially in a trade such as journalism, but please try! After all, you don't end your articles with "###" or "-30-" or some archaism like that. So let's please forget the flipping "press time." OK? Just say, "The arrogant bastards can't be bothered to call us back." It's so much more straightforward. Sorry about the confusion. What "press time" actually means is "pub time", as in "the arrogant bastards couldn't be bothered to call us back by pub time". When the clock strikes six at Vulture Central, all activity is immediately terminated, however important. There then follows an ugly stampede to the nearest hostelry where hacks indulge in the holy beer-taking ceremony. The only 'press' involved is in wave upon wave of gasping journos fighting to get to the bar. Hope that clarifies things.
Barrysworld goes titsup.com Electronics Boutique eyes BarrysWorld BarrysWorld saved by EB This week's flame is a cautionary tale. It's an insight into what happens when young people spend too long in a darkened room in front of a monitor surrounded by Lara Croft and Seven of Nine posters, soiled tissues and discarded pizza boxes. And what happens when they don't check their facts, preferring instead to let their raging hormones do the talking. Jonathan Beer, go and tidy your room - you're grounded: You ASSMUNCHING doom merchant piss monger! I sent you some fauckin news yesterday to press release address, about Barrysworld no longer being titsup.com and you totally failed to pay any attention. You suck! If you're gonna report when it goes down, report when it comes back fag. ONly interested ion bad sodding news aren't you? BUTTMONKEYS! suck my big fat hairy one One thing we can safely assume about this rude young man is that whatever appendage he is suggesting we suck is neither big nor fat. Probably not very hairy yet either.
It's evident that some of our regulars don't much like our new Broadband and e-business sections. Why? We've sold out, that's why. Regular contributor Johnny Honk had this to say: WTF? Normally I see you biting the hand that feeds IT, today I see you kissing the arse! It now seems that "All YOUR base are belong to Intel" Jeffrey Judkins went further: Hah... you loopy limey losers claim to be unbiased but then change to be blue in bed with intel. And with proof. We need to set the record straight on this one. The Register is a commercial operation which makes all its money from advertising, syndication and sponsorship. That's why you, the reader, get to enjoy us for nothing. In short - No wedge, no Reg. The idea to change the colour of the graphics was ours, and not a pre-requisite of the association. We wanted it to be completely obvious what was going on. It worked, clearly. These sponsorship deals do not confer any editorial privileges. It's business as usual for the Vulture Central news team, who, incidentally, have no responsibility for such decisions. There you go. I knew I could get to the end of that without making a joke. Result!
Paul Shalet has stepped down as LibertySurf UK MD. His departure is effective immediately and at this stage it's not known if he'll be replaced. El Reg understands that a number of other senior people at LibertySurf UK - including Jonathan Smyth, its Business Development Director - have also departed in recent weeks, effectively removing a whole layer of key staff. Italian telco, Tiscali, recently acquired LibetySurf and WorldOnline, and is now in the position of owning two ISPs within the UK. It appears the game plan is to strip both its ISPs to the core and relaunch the lot under the Tiscali brand. Two weeks ago Tiscali announced that World Online was invoking a "collective employment contract termination for all employees of the company" in Switzerland. In other words, because Tiscali had an overlapping presence in Switzerland, it was removing the duplication. No doubt other countries will follow. And that includes the UK. Sounds like Shalet and his team are walking before they're pushed. ® Related Stories Tiscali buys LibertySurf for E900 million LibertySurf speculation 'load of bollocks' World Online happy with Italian job
IBM, which only two weeks ago was accused of providing technology that facilitated the final solution, now stands charged with delaying insurance payments to Holocaust survivors by demanding $1 million in software costs. The wrangle concerns database software used by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, which is trying to match the names of 1940s policy holders with lists of Nazi victims. Associated Press has obtained a copy of a letter sent by Holocaust Era chairman Lawrence Eagleburger to IBM chairman Louis Gerstner, which argued that Big Blue's claim was based on the development costs of software supplied to a different group, called the Volcker Commission. This group was involved in similar work of matching dormant Swiss bank accounts with Holocaust victims in order that money can be paid to their living relatives. The Volcker Commission owes money for the software to IBM/Tadiran, an Israeli subsidiary of Big Blue, and since the insurance commission needs the same software, it is being asked to pay $1 million. According to Big Blue this represents sublicensing costs written into the original contract, something which Eagleburger disputes in his letter. "The (insurance commission) does not have the funds necessary to pay the Volcker Commission's debt," Eagleburger wrote. "What money we have or will get is to pay claims and to pay Yad Vashem [Israel's Holocaust Memorial] for doing the computer work." IBM has said it want to begin discussions on the matter, which would only be a routine software licensing dispute but for a lawsuit filed in New York two weeks ago alleging IBM was complicit in the Holocaust. The lawsuit alleges IBM's German subsidiary knowingly provided technology and services used in genocide, particularly punch card machines used in the management of death camp operations. ® Related stories IBM implicated in Nazi extermination of Jews External links Associated Press story [via The Toronto Star]
Furious .org domain name holders have swamped a public forum set up by ICANN yesterday, angry at proposals that will force them to hand back their domains unless they register as non-profit organisations. The proposals come in a suggested new deal with ICANN from domain monopolist VeriSign. In our story yesterday, we expressed our rabid displeasure at VeriSign (formerly Network Solutions) being handed the keys to the .com and .net domains for another four years until 2007. The "justification" for this backroom dealing was that VeriSign would give up the far less important .org domain registry. However, an item we missed entirely - and which forms the bulk of the discussions on the public forum - is what will happen to .org domains after VeriSign hands over the registry. The .org TLD will revert to its original intention as a domain for non-profit organisations. This is too rich for many current .org owners. First of all, VeriSign walked over the original intention for only non-profit companies to use .org. It sold domains to just about anyone - as long as they were willing to pay. Now, when VeriSign decides to ship out so it can retain control of both .com and .net, the .org domain is to return back to its roots. This is clearly in VeriSign's interests as it would effectively remove any competition from the .org gTLD, but seeing as .org has become what it has become, it is in absolutely no one else's interests. Unless current .org owners register for non-profit status, they will even lose their domain. This is not only unfair and ridiculous but will spark hundreds of lawsuits. Why on earth does ICANN think the Internet is little more than its plaything? Its attitude really is disgusting. It has extended VeriSign's monopoly on the two biggest TLDs on the Internet until 2007. This cosy relationship is contrary to everything the Internet stands for. Of course, without the money that VeriSign gives ICANN every year, ICANN would have trouble running. And also, why is this deal going through so unnecessarily early? Is it another example of out-going CEO Mike Roberts giving his old mates contracts before he is replaced on 13 March? The new blood - including the new president/CEO Dr M. Stuart Lynn, chairman Vint Cerf and the At-Large directors - will have their hands tied by the time they get any real power. Posters on the forum have ranged from the confused to the questioning to the furious. Some have suggested that a new gTLD (.npo for example) would be a far better solution, rather than kicking current owners off their domains. Some have threatened lawsuits. All are unhappy. Of 245 postings currently up there, just ONE agrees with the proposal. He said: "I would support a move by the ICANN to return .org to its original intended use (per RFC). I interpret this as meaning that .org domains registered by commercial entities would be declared invalid. This would go a long way to combat the deliberate moves by the likes of Network Solutions to create scarcity in domain names, to their own benefit as name brokers." No one else was in agreement with him. Another poster suggested that the only solution was to go straight to the US Department of Commerce - the only people that officially stop the deal going through as suggested. "Let's go over ICANN's head and stop the deal at Congress instead! You can send email to Secretary Donald Evans (US D.O.C.) by email at firstname.lastname@example.org." An early poster was Mike Roberts - the current president and CEO of ICANN, soon to be replaced - who tired to clarify the situation. "I would like to post a general response to this concern. The need for an appropriate transition period for the .org registry to non-commercial status is fully recognized by those working on the proposed agreements. Should the agreements be approved, ICANN will conduct an open process through which the interests of all those affected by a change in .org policies will be respected. Mike Roberts, ICANN". Posters were not impressed or persuaded. What follows are some of the more informative postings. The forum itself is here. ® "If you grandfather existing .org domains, I don't have a major problem with this proposal. If, however, ICANN attempts to force existing .org domain holders to comply to USA-specific definitions of non-profit corporations, there will be a serious backlash. And I'll be part of it. Org has been recommended by IANA as the namespace for personal domains for some time. antipope.org is valuable to me, personally, as I've had this domain for five years and am widely associated with it. "I provide a small freenet service to anyone who asks me for access, and host a number of other .org domains (such as paganlink.org which is non-profit in operation, albeit not a US-based non-profit corporation). To remove my right to my own .org domain will do me considerable professional damage (both to my reputation on the net - I'm a journalist - and by removing my long-standing contact information). It'd also do damage to this religious organisation, who I assume wouldn't be happy, either. "I'm afraid if this proposal goes through without any consideration I will have to ask my lawyer about my options for legal redress against ICANN. All I know is that I won't be the only one ..." "Like numerous other netizens, I selected a .org domain for my personal web presence to distinguish myself from a corporate entity. The current system allows for no alternative. Your message refers to 'non-commercial status', but the proposed changes specifically state that .org will become a domain 'for the specific use of non-profit organizations'. "I am deeply concerned that my long-established .org presence on the Internet will be disrupted; I will be burdened with the hardship of having to inform numerous entities of the change, there are people who will slip through the cracks who will never be informed of the change (and thus lose track of me), and (as past experience has taught me) it will be at least 6-12 months before popular search engines are updated." "Restoring .org to non-profit organizations is a good idea on the surface, but it's way, way, way too late. And with .com for businesses, and .net supposedly for network providers, where am I supposed to go?" "I am not a non-profit organization but I have a .org domain name. While I may not be a legal non-profit organization, I do not make money from my Web site, and I do non-profit work for people through my Web site. If this revision is added I believe that all people who had registered their domains before the revision should not be subject to the terms of this. After all I've paid for my domain name, and I chose my domain name for a reason. Why should I suffer simply because you have decided to make changes? Anyways that is just my opinion on this matter." "Here is a company that stole publicly-owned information, declared it proprietary, disallowed the public to use it, and then, dashing salt into an already stinging wound, decided to sell that information for the very purpose it restricted access to it in the first place, and you want to hand them yet another ticket on the gravy train? For shame." "The purpose of ICANN was to introduce competition into the sale of domain names. Yes, we have all heard the story of what a wonderful job NSI has done in opening up the market. But, it is all a bunch of lies! They still make $6 off the sale of every domain name regardless of who is selling it. This doesn't sound like competition to me... this sounds like job security. VeriSign should NOT be given unlimited control of '.com' until the following steps are taken: 1) ICANN is given full control of the database and the root servers. 2) Hundreds of new top level domains are in place and being sold by independent registries (like IOD's .web) that are not paying NSI or VeriSign any money at all. 3) The Membership At Large is given the chance to elect the remaining four Board Members that were promised 2 years ago. 4) The squatters on the ICANN Board have resigned their positions. 5) ICANN conducts all meetings in an open and transparent way and there is public input regarding the decisions that are made at such meetings. 6) Expired domain names that are being 'held ransom' by NSI and auctioned off on their site 'GreatDomains.com' must be put back into the pool and be available to purchase again at base cost ($35 each)." Related Links Public Forum US Department of Commerce Related Story VeriSign loses control of .org domain
Fujitsu has joined its IT rivals and cut profit targets for the year, citing the slowdown in the US economy and falling growth in PC sales. The Japanese chip giant reduced its net income forecast by around 78 per cent to ten billion yen ($85 million) for the year ending March 31 2001. Sales are now expected to hit 5.53 trillion yen, down around three percent on earlier projections. The company said both the slowing of the US economy and the lagging economic recovery in Japan had led to growth in PCs and certain hard drives not meeting expectations. It added that slow demand for audio and visual equipment had resulted in disappointing sales growth for electronic devices. Sales growth in services and software is also expected to be lower than previously forecast due to "worldwide slowing of IT spending". Fujitsu joins the long list of IT companies issuing sales and profit warnings due to falling growth in PC sales. Yesterday Gateway warned it would not meet expectations, and said it expected to sell less PCs in the first quarter of 2001 than in the previous year. ® Related Stories Gateway issues profit warning - again Fujitsu eyes Palm as PDA partner Fujitsu pumps out lower power app specific memory
Lastorders.com downs pint and leaves pub Poor old CrazyCurt (the self-proclaimed 'King of Curtopia') is having a bit of trouble swallowing our pub licencing laws. He's right, of course, but it pains us to be reminded of this outrage: Re: "For our American readers, "Last orders" is what barmen call over this side of the Atlantic at 10 minutes to 11 (or 20 past 10 on Sundays). You then get a coupla pints before they stop serving and have twenty minutes to sink them before they start telling you to get out." I'm a Register reader in the USA and I'm astounded that bars in England close at eleven o'clock at night. In most counties of states in the USA bars close somewhere around two or three in the morning. There are parts of the United States where bars must close at earlier times or there are no bars at all but these places are usually located in the dreaded Bible Belt. I've taken all the barbs and jokes from The Reg scribes about American food and beer in stride. After all I'd rather eat a burger, made of delicious American beef, than English spotted dick any day. Our beers have become a lot better since the microbrewery craze ensued. So I'm not bothered by you cats trouncing McDonald's or Coors. But I am perplexed by the closing time of bars at eleven o'clock. Are you telling me England has alcohol laws on a par with the most ignorant, backwoods, religiously brainwashed stick-in-the-bum counties in the USA? Well that does it! Next time you chaps start knocking American beer I shall do my best to remind you that we, at least in most counties, have more time to enjoy drinking. Eleven o'clock indeed! Oh, come on - I reckon you'd find an English spotted dick more than fills the spot. It gives you something to chew on when you can't get a beer.
An influential group of MPs is expected to voice its concerns about the future of broadband in Britain when it publishes its report on the Communications White Paper. El Reg has learnt that MPs will highlight problems with the roll-out of broadband, it's apparent lack of availability across the country, the high price of the service and bandwidth constraints. It's not known whether the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee will specifically target BT for its role in broadband provision in the UK. However, any concerns raised by the committee would make uncomfortable reading for the Minister for Textiles and part-time E-Minister, Patricia Hewitt. The Government believes the roll-out of broadband in Britain is progressing just swimmingly - a position which could be at odds with the select committee. The committee is expected to release its report in a fortnight. ® Related Stories E-minister rumbled by MPs AOL tells MPs 'broadband held back by BT' UK Govt backs broadband
The South Australia Parliament is pushing an Internet censorship bill that will make it an offence for anyone to post any information deemed offensive to children anywhere on the Internet. And it's the police that get to decide what is and isn't offensive. In what is clearly politicians gone barking mad, fines of up to $10,000 can be levied against any individual that posts material seen as unsuitable for minors. The country's film certification system will be used to rate how strong material is - but the police will NOT have to go through an independent adjudicator, they can decide themselves whether the posting breaks the law. It is expected that the Bill will be pulled into all other Australian states' legislation in the future. The basic premise of the legislation appears to be that since kids are able to access Internet sites at any time, then everything on the Internet ought to be acceptable to children. This is clearly bonkers thinking seeing as Australia's laws will have no effect on the rest of the world - which contains more than its fair share of "unsuitable" material. Unless of course Australia is thinking of going China's route and running ISPs through the government and blocking any sites outside the country. Even crazier is that removal of the content is no defence to the legislation. If it goes up at all, you are guilty. The only exception is ISPs - otherwise the entire Internet in Australia would grind to a halt. And how come a film certification system is to be used to rate Internet content? Bonkers. Anyway, so ludicrous is this legislation that we decided we'd have to get it from the horse's mouth. Sadly South Australia and UK time zones don't interact with one another. We searched the South Australia Parliament Web site but their search function is useless and the site is poorly updated. Therefore, we have found a news story, which we shamelessly use as defence in case this whole thing is some kind of bizarre joke. It comes from Australia IT. It also has more information if you're interested. Have a look here. ® Related Link Our defense if this insane Bill turns out to be a sick joke.
Dell ships Precision boxes with 3DLabs card Apparently now all our base are belong to Dell, as well as Intel, Blueyonder, etc., etc. Honestly, there's no pleasing some people, especially Maarten Bodewes: I am seriously getting enough of you posting Dell commercials on your website. Anybody can buy this fucking card in the stores. What's the bloody news about Dell delivering it in its product line? I have myself worked for some years with Gateway, but if you would post a 'news' item like that on your site I would not be happy either. Maybe I can inspire you for a better story: what the hell happened with that company that was going to deliver those 140 GB optical disks you wrote about a long time ago? Is it going 'tits up' as you like to call it? Are they having financial or technical trouble? Hopefully you are going to change this attitude to Dell real soon now. Or I will have to write something that gets close to one of those flame of the week thingies. Oooh, go on, we dare you...
The founder of an "online eyeware" company used money from investors to finance trips to casinos and topless bars, according to a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Chidwhite Enterprises, founded by Jerry Chidster, is one of 23 companies and individuals charged by the SEC of using the Internet to defraud investors of $2.5 million and "pumping up" the market value of stocks by $300 million. The frauds were accomplished by a variety of online means, including "spam" emails, electronic newsletters, Web sites, hyperlinks, message boards and other Internet media. Half all the cases by the SEC have been in the last 14 months, indicating fraud is on the increase. Perhaps the worse case identified by the SEC in its annual Internet fraud sweep is that of Chidwhite which used spam email and a Web site to announce that a flotation of its "$1 billion online eyewear business" was imminent. These claims brought in $96,000 from naive investors paying $10 for so-called "free stock credits" which, it is alleged, actually went on financing Chidster's playboy lifestyle. According to the SEC, Chidwhite never received approval for an IPO, the company had no offices, no inventory, and no products or services. The perfect "virtual company" then. In another case, principals of Internet-firm Smart-Mart allegedly used a "large portion" of 32.4 million in investor funds for unauthorised business and personal expenses, including buying cars, exotic holidays and home mortgage payments. It all seems like a throwback to a forgotten era. A full list of scams unearthed by the SEC is available here and it makes interesting reading. We particularly liked the tale of a former roofer turned "online expert stock analyst" that claimed he had a proprietary computer trading system, and issued a false resume to this effect. The SEC has provided a list of helpful advice on how people might avoid scams online, to which we'd like to add our own advise that people need to use more commonsense. If a deal is too good to be true it almost certainly isn't true. Related stories E-commerce is a hotbed of fraud 400 pound ex-coke dealer CEO ousted after media blitz FBI fights fraud in cyberspace FTC grounds man in online fraud case External links SEC press release on Internet fraud crackdown SEC tips on how avoid being conned by fraudsters
Network Associates has settled a lawsuit with shareholders who alleged that the security giant pushed up its share price by not accounting for acquisitions properly. According to Associated Press, the settlement means that 80,000 to 100,000 shareholders who felt they were financially hurt by the practice will receive a settlement of $30 million between them. The case is interesting because it involves NAI booking the cost of acquisitions as valueless "in-process research and development", a common practice in the 1990s until the Securities and Exchange Commission got tough on the practice in 1998. In the case of Network Associates, the firm restated its revenues off its own back after it was contacted about the issue by the SEC. This resulted in recorded sales falling from $245.2 million to $25.2 million for the firm's subsequent quarter. The restatement had an effect on share value which provoked a class action lawsuit by shareholders. In settling their claim Network Associates is not admitting any fault on its part and has said it did so simply to stop "protracted and expensive" litigation. ® Related stories: Network Associates misses Q4 targets Network Associates beaten up on stock marketAccounting rules force Intel chip disclosures
Well, following the rip-off of one of our stories by the Keeper of Middle England's Morals, the Daily Mail, we've received a letter from the paper's managing editor Robin Esser apologising and offering to send us a cheque for £250. The story - regarding the Labour party's Internet dirty tricks campaign in Wales - was written on 30 January and was basically reprinted under the political editor's byline (David Hughes) on 2 February. We welcome the Mail's offer of £250 and so will the charity Shelter - we've asked the Mail to send the money to them. And if Mr Esser, or any other Mail executive, wishes to contact us regarding a content deal, Linus and Drew are always open to a chat. Incidentally, the concurrent case regarding Mil Millington has also been settled for £1,600, but not before he was warned that a legal fight with the Mail would be expensive. Mil has given his own unique rundown of events here. This then is the letter: ® "Thank you for your letter of 2 February. I have spoken to Mr David Hughes about your concerns. He tells me he has never heard of the Register! Obviously he is now alerted to your organisation and, should he find a story on your site, he will credit it, as it is our policy on the Mail to always try to give credit where credit is due. Mr Hughes was first told about this story by his contacts on Wales on Sunday. He then received an e-mail from a young member of our staff, with a full account of what was happening. This e-mail gave Mr Hughes the impression it was a copy of a contribution from a freelance journalist, and indeed he had no reason to think otherwise. He checked with Labour party officials, Plaid Cymru, Ms Helen Mary Jones and Wales on Sunday on the story. Using indeed some of the phrases of what he imagined was a freelance's contribution, he filed the story you saw. While I understand your worries about plagiarism and sympathise with them, I trust you agree with me that, in view of these circumstances it would not be right to accuse the Mail or Mr Hughes of knowingly and deliberately committing that particular professional crime. Nevertheless may I suggest that we should pay you the fee we would normally pay for a full story such as this from a freelance. I shall send you a cheque for £250 - presumably made out to "the Register" unless you tell me otherwise. I am sorry there has been this confusion at this end. Yours sincerely, Robin Esser Executive Managing Editor" Related Link Mil's saga Related Stories Mail pinches more content off the Net Daily Mail political editor plagiarises Reg
Oftel has published an update on local loop unbundling (LLU) providing a snapshot of the strides made over the last month or so. The overview claims that BT has handed over the four trial sites to the operators (Battersea, Belfast, Leeds and Edinburgh)...says that 700 out of the 741 exchanges identified so far have been surveyed...and talks about "business as usual". It also bangs on about ditching the "Bow Wave" process, has some blurb on distant co-location - oh and a bit about the investigations it's carrying out because operators keep complaining about BT. And that's it really. While officials at the Winged Watchdog's kennel pat themselves on the back for such sterling work, news has reached us from the Mediterranean that Cyprus is to get 5,000 ADSL lines by April courtesy of a deal between Alcatel and Cyprus' national telecommunications service provider, CYTA. With a population of just 700,000, that means there will be one ADSL line per 140 inhabitants. In the UK, the ratio is nearer 1,800 people per ADSL line. Anyone for Ayia Napa? ® Related Link Oftel's Local Loop Unbundling Fact Sheet - March 2001
Gates: the earth moved for me It's been a while since the earth moved for dear old Kieren McCarthy, bless 'im. Tim Gerchmez reckons he should try it out: Your story was cute, but as a person living in WA. State who experienced the quake firsthand, it doesn't seem quite so funny. I don't know if you've ever been through an earthquake (especially a 6.8), but I assure you the thought "I'm about to die" is quite on everyone's mind while occurring. Anyway, I appreciate The Register's dry, irreverent sense of humor (especially compared to much of the bland, dull, humorless and dumbed-down American media), but there's a point where perhaps one should take into account whether they may be stepping over the line just a little, so to say. No apology requested or necessary, but just a morsel of thought offered. Phew, and we had an apology all ready. None required to Daniel Skaff, who, in traditional Reg reader style, has used one subject as a springboard to another - entirely tangential - matter: Re: "The crack in the Capitol building was also seen as a sign that the big G didn't like the fact that elected representatives of "God's people" - as Americans are often known to call themselves - had prostituted themselves for idols not made in his image, namely, money." You forgot to mention that the "elected representatives" are usually white Anglo-Saxon protestants that are direct descendents of loony birds from England. The "normal" people here are too lazy to get out and vote. (Count the number of remote control devices by the number of people..I rest my case on that point) The Republican party hit a gold mine when they stopped to think one day. If we can say "praise the lord" and say the right things to the right wing types, we can get their votes. Think about it, these are people that will take their vacation in the summer, pack up the family and drive 1500 miles to protest in front of an abortion clinic, and in some cases get arrested. Surely you can say the right words to get them to walk two blocks to vote Republican. The majority of Americans don't think they are Gods people. Lazy... well, guilty as charged. We allow the Clowns run the Circus. Land of the free my ass. In Alabama it is against the law to buy or sell vibrators, dildos and the like. Imagine the fun you would have if you told your fellow prisoners what you are in prison for. Where I live you can not buy beer on Sunday of course, but you can not buy cars or homes either. The people in various states have voted in the use of medical marijuana, only to be told, no, you still can't have it. This is a country that is in a war with it's citizens over drugs, and has literally locked up millions of them. Believe me, people in Europe are far better off when they started shipping off the religious nuts few hundred years back. It is not NEW York, NEW England..it is the NEW Devils island. We have a Attorney General that does not believe in dancing, and states like Kansas that does not want evolution taught in school. Yes, it was a great day when we waved the Mayflower goodbye. According to Bill Roland, however, its an occasion we might come - if not necessarily live - to regret: Your disdain for Americans is seriously evident. Tell me, what is it, other than the fact that we are the most powerful nation on Earth that could easily crush you British in 2 weeks, that makes you hate us so much? Is it because our industries make the world turn? Is it because we still use the English System of Units instead of the metric system? What is it? Two weeks? Seems like a long time compared to the short work you made of Vietnam ;-P
Proud Canadian slams Reg We knew we were asking for trouble with our recent poke at the Canadians. The thing is, we knew we were going to cop some grief, but we just couldn't stop ourselves. You know how it is. Unsurprisingly, the Vulture Central mailbag is bulging with correspondence on this subject. This item tickled our fancy: From: Terry Burns Subject: Canucks Re:"We've upset the Canadians again" Both of them? Wow, they usually don't agree on anything! And that's just the tip of the seal-cub-packed iceberg. Catch up with the full debate here. Best of the rest Register purists get the blues All our base are belong to Intel Canada - we love you Reg gets all syrupy over maple leaf Register believes MS worships devil Well, if you say so... Dell adsell hell Bloke blows gasket When the hell is 'press time?' Reg hack ticked off over clocking off Eleven o'clock indeed! Yank incredulity at UK licencing laws Uh hu hu - I'm all shook up I love the smell of brick dust in the morning
Bull has sold its Irish reseller subsidiary, Cara, to a management team backed by Hibernia Capital Partners. Once upon a time, Cara was Ireland's biggest corporate reseller. Then it got bought by Bull, and now it's and "IT solutions company which, in the Irish market specialises in securely transforming an organisation’s IT systems and communications infrastructure to enable it to compete in today’s net.economy, and in the UK market, in payroll bureau services." Bull continues to operate in Ireland under its own brand name. Getronics, the Dutch-owned computer services giant saw profits fall 11 per cent from $177m in 1999 to $149m in 2000. This was better than expected by most analysts. The company predicts modest growth this year and it says margins will fall. ®
Female computer consultant Tao Ball has won her two tribunal claims against former boss Marc Garcia. She took Marc and his IT consultancy Kelros to the tribunal for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination and won both unanimously. Mr Garcia claimed Tao had resigned and denied any discrimination but was faced with several sworn testimonies from staff working for Kelros at the same time, which painted a very different picture. Marc was particularly keen on sending explicit pornographic photos to the staff. One such picture featured a clitoral piercing and was subtitled "Tao's next piercing" - she had just had a belly button piercing. Female work colleagues said they were constantly the centre of sexually provocative comments from Marc in relation to their sex lives, clothes or anything else that came to mind. He also made frequent reference to Tao's possible lesbianism. One occasion that seems to stand out was the day after a Channel 4 programme called "The Clitoris" - part of its Private Parts series - was shown. According to several witnesses, Marc arrived in the morning and launched into a half-hour rundown of the show, going into great detail and offering personal reflections while growing increasingly "excited". This was despite the fact that everyone in the office had stopped listening to him. Male work colleagues also reported Marc's distinct difference in approach when dealing with male or female staff. One also spoke of conversations he had had with Marc regarding Tao when she wasn't there. He asked if he also believed Tao was a lesbian, informed the staff member that he had it on good authority that Tao wore a G-string and that her "arse is really tight". However, it was the start of a relationship between Tao and the company's co-director Najeeb Sughayer that sparked the events that would bring them both to a tribunal almost a year later. Staff corroborated that Mr Garcia's attitude towards Tao changed markedly once he learnt of the relationship. She was given a heavier workload and repeatedly criticised. Mr Sughayer warned Marc that sending pornographic photos was not suitable - especially if not asked for - but was ignored. Marc became increasingly worried about Tao's and Najeeb's relationship - at one point confessing to a colleague that he was worried Tao would own part of the business. When things finally came to a head, Marc claims Tao resigned from her job but she maintains she was fired. The tribunal concluded unanimously that Tao had not resigned but had been fired with no just reason. Therefore she had been unfairly dismissed. Regarding the sexual discrimination charge, it said: "We unanimously agree there was unlawful discrimination. Tao was the unwilling recipient of pornographic material which she could reasonably find offensive and did." Tao's lawyer, Paul Archer of Lemon & Co told us: "The distribution of pornographic material to all employees, regardless of consent, is completely reprehensible. We are pleased our client was vindicated by this tribunal." The case will now move to a second hearing in four to five weeks where the amount of compensation Tao is due will be decided. Her lawyer told us she was due compensation for loss of earnings, a basic award for unfair dismissal and more for injury to feelings, stemming from her upset from the unpleasantness of the situation at Kelros. As managing director and owner of Kelros, Mr Garcia is under no obligation to sack himself. ® Related Link Kelros home page Related Story Porno blonde goes to tribunal
Intergraph is to drag Intel to court again next week, just a few days after its patent infringement win over the chip giant. On Monday, March 5, it will make its arguments to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuits in Washington regarding its antitrust case against Intel. Intergraph alleges Intel used its monopoly power to coerce the Alabama company into handing over patents rights. The anti-trust case was thrown out of court in March last year. The appeal is part of a three-pronged attack by Intergraph in its suit against Intel. Filed in November 1997, the lawsuit accuses Intel of patent infringement, antitrust violations, and State tort and contract claims. Yesterday's decision involved the patent infringement part of the lawsuit. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuits ruled that Intel did not have the right to use the Clipper Technology patented by Intergraph. Intel hasn't decided if it wants to appeal yesterday's ruling, but "it is possible", a representative said today. The company will have to take the matter to the Supreme Court, if it takes this route, according to Intergraph. Intergraph wants royalties from Intel based on the number of Pentium products sold - the Pentium I, II and III chips. The company said it was making an infringement analysis, including a study of the P4. The case could also affect other chipmakers. The Alabama company said that if it wins the case against Intel, it will start infringement analysis regarding other products in the market. This could include AMD and its clones of the Intel x86 chip family. Intergraph hopes to join the three claims against Intel into one trial later this year. ® Related Stories Court rules for Intergraph in Intel patent dispute Intergraph loses Intel antitrust case Intergraph hit by further Intel court setback Intergraph quits PCs, says Intel brought it to its knees
Computer crackers have obtained access to computer systems codes used in America's space program. According to a report by Reuters, investigators who raided the office of an information technology firm in Sweden last month found the source code for a sensitive program called OS/Comet, which was developed by US firm Exigent Software Technology. OS/Comet provides the command and control interface between the GPS (Global Positioning System) Master Control Station (MCS) and the GPS satellites as a replacement for older technologies. Last December, Exigent announced the technology has been deployed by the Space Command division of the US Air Force in a monitoring station in the Navstar GPS network. It is suspected the source codes for the software, which would allow an expert to determine how a software program works, were obtained by hackers who broke into the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC on Christmas Eve last year. Reuters quotes Johan Starell, legal counsel for Exigent in Sweden, who told the agency that after the attack was discovered on December 27 the trail led to Freebox.com, a server owned by Swedish IT company Carbonide, which is believed to be a completely innocent party in the attack. Analysis of the Carbonide server revealed that a cracker, called LEEIF, had used the machine after hijacking the account of a legitimate Freebox.com user. "We couldn't get any further information about where it came from or find out if it had been copied and sent elsewhere," Starell told Reuters. "Sweden seems like a closed chapter." Enquiries to Exigent about the matter from The Register were by met by stony silence by the firm, which told us it had no comment on the subject. ® External links Info on OS/Comet Exigent Related stories FBI agent sold surveillance/nuke data to Russia FBI forms cracker posse US cyber-defense on track - report Hacker meltdown fails to materalise Mass hack takes out govt sites
Microsoft is the biggest bugger in the IT industry. Or to be more precise, its small business portal linkexchange.com (now called bCentral)is the biggest user of Web bugs, according to a survey by Securityspace.com, and available here. Web bugs, objects such as frames or images, are embedded on a Web site and cause part of the Web page to be retrieved from a different site. In the process, the second web site gets to know who visited the original site. These web bugs can be used to verify email addresses and collect IP numbers of users, although a while back we ran an article where Register readers, you devious lot, suggested far more nefarious uses for Web bugs. That said, there's a wide range of opinion about the potential for abuse and danger Web bugs represent. The securityspace.com survey (which is based on a sample of 701176 Web pages retrieved from 101991 different sites) shows that UK ISP Demon (1.2 per cent of sites) is second only to Microsoft (1.4 per cent) in its use of bugs. Which goes to prove the Great Satan of Software is, as usual, ahead of the Devil himself in privacy stealing technologies... ® External links Securityspace.com explanation of Web bugs Analysis of Web bugs by traffic - Doubleclick.net comes out number one Related stories Fun with Internet bugs E-mail 'bug' danger overstated? Compromise sought in Windows bug copyright saga MS protects Mac but not Windows users with web bug mail firewall
Worldwide sales of chip making equipment grew 90 per cent last year, according to a report by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI). The total revenue, taken from 21 chip product categories and six regions, was $48.4 billion, compared to $25.5 billion in 1999. North America still made the most semiconductor equipment, with sales up 77 per cent to $13.2 billion. Taiwan was the second biggest producer - up 108 per cent to $9.4 billion, and Japan was the third, with sales up 67 per cent to $9.2 billion. The product category with most growth was electroplating and other thin-film deposition equipment, which saw sales rise 122 per cent. ® Related Stories Chip industry faces almost zero growth in 2001 Global chip sales growth starts to slow 2000: The chip odyssey
Incubation company Cube8.com announced an operating loss of £4.9 million on revenue of £1.6 million in 2000 in its annual results today. Over the course of last year, it invested in 16 companies, two of which have been sucked into the dotcom downturn (Web Street and TaoTalk), taking £1.3 million of Cube8's money with it. The company says it still has £3.1 million in the bank - enough to last it two-and-a-half years at current spending. However, following the recent glut of dotcoms failures and very poor market conditions, Cube8 has decided to batten down the hatches and make the most of what it's got - a mixture of dotcom and offline companies with online arms. No more money will be invested for six to twelve months. The company is also splitting in two. Cube8 Ventures Ltd will look after the companies it has invested in and the Winfield Partnership plc (grand sounding, you'll note) will be the company consulting side, bringing in the cash. Of the companies Cube8 currently has interests in, around four are making a profit, another three or so are nearly there - including Blue Carrots - and the others are still making a loss. The company admitted it has had to revise backwards its breakeven point. In terms of business approach, Cube8 is following the more traditional approach rather than going for the big all-or-nothing approach that has seen many companies go under. It ain't rock n' roll, but it won't die young either. ® Related Story Cube8 fledgling dies
A number of academicians argued that consumer expectations of on-line privacy are unrealistic, speaking before the 107th Congress Thursday during hearings by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Indeed, the good professors were so pessimistic about privacy legislation that we have to wonder if the Direct Marketing Association isn't endowing chairs in law schools throughout the country. For one thing, Congress needs to consider how on-line tracking and advert targeting actually benefit consumers by reducing unwanted pitches. If ads were not targeted based on identifiable personal information, then we would all be swimming in a ocean of more junk mail, more spam and more general come-ons, Indiana University School of Law Professor Fred Cate argued. He added that necessary info mining which is highly beneficial to society, such as that done by law enforcement for fraud detection, is supported by commerce. The Feds would likely be unable to conduct these socially beneficial services if the necessary surveillance infrastructure and transaction databases weren't operated for profit, he observed. This in itself may offer insight into why Congress has thus far been so eager to hold privacy hearings for the public's benefit, yet so reluctant to lift a finger towards enacting it. Another sticky bit is the notion that if people had the right to control information about themselves, they could inconvenience the ad industry and even their neighbors, with all sorts of lawsuits for mundane, everyday violations like gossip or news reports and so hobble First Amendment rights of free speech, UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh warned. "The First Amendment is our code of fair information practices," he declared. Thus "privacy restrictions are indeed speech restrictions." This is the first time we witnessed a purported learned person arguing that the First Amendment actively restricts privacy. We thought about this possibility momentarily, and dismissed it as an academic delusion -- that is, an idea which makes sense only outside the context of actual human experience. Further Constitutional justification for the wholesale violating of privacy came from the business sector. "Unlike defamation, which lets you sue when someone disseminates false information, a right to own or control information about oneself gives you a veto power over truthful information. And, unlike intellectual property law, an expanded view of privacy is not sanctioned by the Constitution," Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) Senior Policy Analyst Solveig Singleton argued. "The Fourth Amendment is not a basis for asserting privacy rights against commercial enterprises," she declared. We can dismiss Singleton's testimony as the insane ranting of a politically rabid commerce cheerleader as we examine the CEI Web site, and observe its Sophomoric anti-tribute to Ralph Nader, and suggestion that he face imprisonment for advocating automobile airbags. Constitutional Failure A theme running through much of the testimony is that commercial entities enjoy greater rights under the US Constitution than actual human beings. This regrettable impression has many causes; for one, commerce can more easily afford to sue for its own civil rights, with the result that there is in the real world of judicial action a preference for the interests of Big Business. Another, and perhaps the core problem, is the Bill of Rights itself, which by enumerating certain rights implies to some that any not specified are up for grabs in the legislative and judicial realms, where those who can afford the greatest access to legislators by way of lobbyists and the finest teams of lawyers have a clear advantage. Though this document is venerated superstitiously by nearly all Americans, it omits a number of what one might call natural rights, such as privacy, the human need for which is so self-evident that the authors probably never imagined a modern society so debauched that there would be a need to specify them. The Declaration of Independence, while not a legal document like the Constitution, acknowledges these rights, specifies three examples, and makes it clear that the list is not exhaustive. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness," it states. It is the very nature of human beings which makes these rights necessary. Indeed, so basic are they that no legitimate government has any business pretending even to grant them, much less restrict them, since they are ours in every aspect. Thus, as the Declaration acknowledges, "to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In other words, the only legitimate role a government may play in respect to such rights is to ensure that they remain protected. And indeed, the Bill of Rights makes it clear that it is not, in itself, a full catalogue of rights and liberties. "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," the Ninth Amendment states. However, while the Declaration assumes it to be impossible for the people to relinquish their essential, ('unalienable') natural rights under any circumstances, the wording of the Ninth Amendment puts this in some doubt. It could in fact be read to imply that the people may lose natural rights which they fail to exercise, because there is an implication of voluntary action in the word 'retained'. And the US judiciary has recognized the voluntary relinquishment of essential natural rights. The legality of capital punishment, for example, is based upon the premise that a convict has forfeited his 'unalienable' right to life by criminal acts. Thus the natural right to privacy, which is essential to the psychological health and indeed the very nature of human beings, is very much in danger of being forfeited permanently unless the people, on a large scale, should get serious about exercising it. Your move. ®
Napster will implement a content filtering system this weekend which will prevent users from trading pirated music through its Web site, company lawyer David Boies told federal District Judge Marilyn Patel in San Francisco Friday, in a last-ditch effort to keep the company in operation until it can face charges of copyright infringement at trial. Patel heard arguments from the recording industry and Napster in preparation to modify an injunction with which she slapped the company, but which a federal appeals court subsequently remanded to her for adjustment earlier this month. "We have had a group of people working night and day on a process to block access to these files," Boies assured the judge. "What we are doing is inserting a step between the uploading and the viewing of the index...that will block out specific file names." However, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is not inclined to give Napster any quarter, now that it feels the law is on its side. "It is an ongoing, long and tedious process," RIAA shyster Russ Frackman said. "We don't believe there should be a negotiation at this late stage over format." "We see that Napster can filter out unauthorized songs," RIAA flack Hillary Rosen told reporters during a press conference just after the proceedings. "They argued before this court last year -- they argued last September at the Ninth Circuit that they couldn't. Today they finally said what we've all known for over a year, that they absolutely can filter out unauthorized works." The judge did not issue a modified injunction Friday, and it is not known when precisely she will do so. It is reasonable to expect that she will word the new injunction to enable Napster to remain in business between now and when it goes to trial, so long as its filtering scheme works as advertised. "It is left to me to fashion an injunction that makes sense based on what I've heard," she said once the arguments had been presented. ® Recent Coverage Napster offers $1bn bribe to labels Napster develops P2P copy protection Napster ruling merely delays injunction