16th > March > 2001 Archive

Oracle can't foretell the future

Oracle today said it hit lowered forcasts for the third quarter, with profits up 16 per cent. The US database monster reported $583 million net income, or ten cents per share, for the three months ended February 28 2001. Sales grew to $2.7 billion, from $2.5 billion for the same period the previous year. Application software sales rose 25 per cent to $249 million, database software sales grew six per cent to $823 million, and service revenue was up 12 per cent to $1.5 billion. "The US economic downturn over the past several months clearly affected our revenue and profit growth more than we anticipated, due to a sharp downturn in completed transactions in the last few days of the quarter, and the current economic uncertainty continues to limit our visibility going forward," said Oracle CFO Jeffrey O Henley. On March 1 Oracle issued a profit warning - its first in three years. It blamed the US economy and cuts in IT corporate spending. But today Henley said Oracle was equipped to "weather the current economic storm". "Looking ahead, we plan to tightly adhere to the e-business cost reduction plan already in place, which hopefully will allow us to maintain our improvements in productivity and efficiency despite a difficult environment," he added. ® Related Stories Oracle's Ellison sued for insider trading Oracle hurt by IT spending cuts Ellison to flog $150m in Oracle shares Oracle hires former Clinton spin doctor Ellison not dead and not leaving Oracle
Linda Harrison, 16 Mar 2001

Verio gags EFF founder over spam

Aggressive anti-spam measures by Dallas-based ISP Verio have stripped some of the Internet's digerati of the ability to send e-mail, and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Gilmore is calling it censorship. Gilmore's home network includes what anti-spam crusaders call an "open relay" -- a mail server that accepts and forwards e-mail from anyone. For decades, the practice was considered central to good network citizenship. But in recent years, spammers have begun hijacking open relays to multiply, sometimes a thousand fold, the number of junk messages they can send at once. That abuse sparked a campaign by anti-spam activists to close the open relays, a campaign that Gilmore, an entrepreneur, electronic civil libertarian, and EFF co-founder, has little use for. "It reminds me of the X-ray machines they have in airports and the security checks they put people through," says Gilmore. "It doesn't actually solve the problem, it just infringes on the rights of the innocent." Even as commercial ISPs began tightening down their mail servers -- rejecting outgoing mail from non-subscribers, and forcing subscribers to electronically prove their identity before sending mail -- Gilmore kept his own mail server open to the world, a service he says his friends have come to rely on. "Part of the reason my friends are using my machine is that their own ISPs' anti-spam measures prevent them from sending e-mail as they move around in the world," says Gilmore. "If one user connects to my machine from an unknown address and sends a message, my machine forwards it on. It's happy to. That could be John Perry Barlow sending e-mail from Africa to his girlfriend." Gilmore says he shuts down spammers when he detects them, but acknowledges that some junk mail gets through his system. Late last month, one such spam message -- from a would-be entrepreneur offering professional spamming services to the public -- resulted in a complaint to Gilmore's ISP, Verio, from an anti-spam group. Verio's sweeping acceptable-use policy prohibits open relays. When Gilmore refused to put fetters on his mail server, the company's security department slapped a filter on Gilmore's T1 net connection Wednesday, blocking outgoing e-mail from his network. A Verio spokesperson did not return a telephone call Thursday. Verio security team leader Darren Grabowski declined to comment. "What we do is between us and our customer," said Grabowski. Anti-spam pressure Gilmore believes anti-spam efforts have gone too far, and impact the rights of innocent people. "Verio is filtering me because they were pressured by a pressure group, and they don't have enough intelligence to stand up against that pressure." But the head of the anti-spam business that forwarded the complaint to Verio last month says the ISP did the right thing. "It's been a very long time since open relays were considered acceptable on the Net," says Julian Haight, owner of SpamCop.net. "On today's Internet, things have changed considerably." SpamCop.net lets Netizens easily and automatically track and report spammers and open relays, and maintains a blacklist of network addresses the company considers spam-friendly. Haight acknowledges the influence his organization, and other anti-spam efforts, can exert on an ISP, but he says no one has a right to operate a service that lends a hand to spammers. "Freedom of speech is not 100 percent," says Haight. "You're not allowed to come into my home to preach to me... Open servers are responsible for making copies of unsolicited commercial e-mails and sending it to people who don't want it." Gilmore argues that by making decisions about what to allow or disallow over their network, ISPs risk losing the common carrier status that protects them from legal liability for their customers' actions. "Ultimately, they should be a pipe. They shouldn't care what content goes through. For them to say, well, we'll send your IP packets....except when you send this particular type of IP packet, it takes them out of the realm of a common carrier," says Gilmore. "That puts the entire Internet in jeopardy." © 2001 SecurityFocus.com. All rights reserved.
Kevin Poulsen, 16 Mar 2001

Compaq to can 5,000 workers

Compaq is to can 5,000 workers because sales have dropped off. The company is going to earn less than expected in the first quarter, and Compaq Chairman Michael Capellas has said server demand is down, especially in telecommunications. "We do remain concerned about future deterioration," he said. In January, Compaq forecast first-quarter sales of $9.6 billion. This has now been cut to $9 billion. For Q1 2000 Compaq made profits of $325 million on a turnover of $9.5 billion. As well as shedding seven per cent of its staff Compaq intends to increase its part spend in Taiwan to cut costs. It spent $9.5 billion in 2000. Capellas expects demand in Europe and Japan to weaken, following the slump in the US market. He said the company was doing OK with larger storage systems and high-end Unix boxes. Mobile and Net devices are also doing well according to Capellas. A further cost cutting measure is to get the same factories to churn out both consumer and corporate PCs. The company is also slashing marketing costs, and will not replace Douglas Fox, senior vice president of marketing and strategy, who has left the company. ® Related Stories Gateway issues profit warning - again
Robert Blincoe, 16 Mar 2001

Register aliens ate my forum

HWRoundupHWRoundup A group of readers on our Reader Forum has started a Friends of The Register SETI group. This will probably help establish whether signals emanating from pubs in Maddox Street were transmitted by intelligent life. --------------------cut here------------------- A "brahministic" site has breached the NDA on dual Athlons and has published some benchmarks, here. Thanks to JC and AMD Zone for the lead. --------------------cut here------------------- Tom's Hardware writes up ATI's Radeon VE, which can handle two monitors. And rumours are circulating that little-old-Intel is seriously interested in lock, stock and barrelling ATI. --------------------cut here------------------- Once more, thanks to JC -- this time for pointing us to a Paul De Mone article on the Itanic platform. Headed "better late than never", it suggests Intel's early intro of McKinley is curious whereas we suspect that this is the only way Chipzilla will keep the IA-64 platform out of Davey Jones' Locker. --------------------cut here------------------- These overclockers are tough old nuts, yeah? Over at Hard OCP points to another site which has taken to sawing up Slot A and Slot 1 heat sinks. Now if Kyle at HardOCP could get hold of all those Timna boards Acer put together for last year's Computex, he could really have a party, right? --------------------cut here------------------- Want more hardware nibbles? Try Hexus, which links to all sorts of related stuff. More HW madness later... ® Want to boldly go where so many folk have boldly gone before? Try boldly strolling, then, to our Hardware Roundup Archive
Mike Magee, 16 Mar 2001

Sega president dies

So farewell then, Isao Okawa, president of Sega, who yesterday died of heart failure at the ripe old age of 74. Okawa - as all the reports will tell you - made headlines recently by handing over to Sega staff ¥85 billion ($695.7 million) worth of shares in Sega and other companies, including CSK, Ascii and NextCom. The donation was made to ease the pain of the console maker's decision to cease Dreamcast production. What isn't mentioned is that Okawa himself let slip the plan to abandon the hardware market back in late 1999, with the expected effect on the company's sales. Sega later maintained that Okawa's comments, made at the opening of a Japanese educational establishment, were taken out of context, but saying Dreamcast will be the last of its kind seems to us a pretty clear statement of intent. Okawa went on to say that Sega's future lay in the software market, and indeed that's the direction it is now taking. ® Related Stories Sega president goes mad Sega to ditch console biz? Sega out to steal lead in console software biz Sega moots console hardware exit
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2001

Intel 1GHz Mobile PIII due Monday

Intel will launch its first 1GHz notebook-oriented CPU, a Mobile Pentium III, on Monday - the day AMD is expected to begin shipping its new Palomino-based Mobile Athlon. That's what industry sources have told TechWeb, and it neatly matches the Chipzilla internal roadmaps we've seen over the last few months. The latest roadmap says the part will be available "in March" and follows on from January's 500MHz Ultra-low Voltage Mobile PIII and February's 700MHz Low-Voltage Mobile PIII. The arrival of the 1GHz part fills out Intel's view of the notebook business. The new chip will be targeted at top-end all-in-one mobiles. Current high-speed Mobile PIIIs will now be sold to makers of 'thin and light' executive-oriented machines. The LV PIII is aimed at mini-notebooks and the ULV PIII at sub-notebooks. The launch of the new PIII will herald the immediate shipment of notebooks based on it from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, according to said sources, which should spoil AMD's launch further. Notebooks based on the new Mobile Athlon aren't expected until the second quarter. Chipzilla is expected to launch a 900MHz PIII alongside the 1GHz part, which may also be accompanied by a 750MHz Mobile Celeron chip. Come Q3, the 0.18 micron Coppermine-based 900MHz and 1GHz parts will be shuffled downmarket by the arrival of 0.13 micron Tualatin-based Mobile PIIIs at 1.06GHz and 1.13GHz. ® Related Stories Chipzilla readies 1GHz Mobile PIII Intel Mobile CPU pricing plans Intel boxes clever on mobiles, desktop chipsets Mobile Palomino debut delayed by chipset lag Intel cranks up mobile CPU to 1GHz
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2001

Apple loses retail partner

Apple's retail partnership with US chain Sears is over. Neither company is saying why, though Apple's planned chain of own-brand retail outlets may have more than a little to do with it. "Apple and Sears have mutually agreed to part ways and will be phasing out our partnership over the remainder of 2001," is all a Sears spokesman, cited by MacCentral would say. Interestingly, the move marks the second time Sears has dropped Apple product from its roster. It first pulled out of the Mac market back in 1997 after Apple announced a string of massive loss-making quarters. Come 1999 and with the iMac successfully launched, Sears re-signed Apple, prompting effulgent praise from Steve Jobs. More recently, Apple has once again experienced a series of... er... loss-making quarters. Is history repeating itself? Sears may think so, and that may well have affected its decision too. ® Related Stories Works starts on Apple's Palo Alto store Two more sites join Apple retail chain Chicago to host fourth Apple retail outlet Apple retail chain to open doors in April Apple retail chain plan back on agenda Apple ponders own US retail chain
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2001

Wanted: XXX movie models

More than 250 people bent over backwards to apply for a starring role as a porn star before the job ad was pulled by prudish e-recruitment outfit, reed.co.uk. Reed.co.uk - more known for finding more sober positions for secretaries and accountants - ran the saucy £45,000-a-year job on its "free ads" section on its Web site. Even though Reed.co.uk believed the vacancy was genuine, the outfit decided to remove the ad yesterday because executives "didn't feel it was appropriate". However, in the 36 hours the ad was up some 50,000 people viewed the position requiring "experimental and fun-loving people...for some adult movie productions". The outfit said it had received over 250 applications for the job mainly from Business Analysts, Investment Bankers and consultants in top city firms. Paul Rapacioli, head of reed.co.uk said: "While the huge number of visitors to this Web page demonstrates the power of the Internet, this is clearly an inappropriate job to be advertising on our site. "However, I'm delighted to say that although our one adult model vacancy has been removed, we still have over 43,000 jobs in accountancy, IT and other professional sectors. "This particular posting has alerted us to the need to block jobs containing sexual overtones, something which we are already putting in place," he said. The ad read: Adult Models MODELS WANTED Salary: Up to £45000 per annum 3 days per week Adult Models, London, London & M25 Description Experimental and fun-loving people wanted for some adult movie productions. Work is available at all levels. A sense of fun is a pre-requisite, as well as an enquiring sexual mind. Willing to try out new ideas with minimal fuss. In return, top rates of pay will be given depending on level of performance and interest. This is adult movie making at its best! In the interests of decency and good taste El Reg refuses to make the very obvious gag that with more that with more than 43,000 jobs available, reed.co.uk has more positions than the Kama Sutra. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Mar 2001

NCR slaps patent suit on Palm, Handspring

NCR - aka The Cash - has sued Palm and PalmOS licensee Handspring, claiming their PDAs violate its intellectual property. Two patents are cited in the case, both of which describe a credit card-sized "portable personal terminal" used "for handling a wide variety of financial, shopping and other transactions", and were granted to NCR in 1987. The Cash maintains both Palm and Handspring new about the patents but did nothing to seek a deal to allow them to use its intellectual property. The Cash wants "substantial" damages to be inflicted upon Palm and Handspring in punishment and compensation. It's also seeking a temporary restraint on sales of both companies' PDAs. Palm and Handspring are the two best-selling PDA makers, at least in the retail arena, and that's probably the main reason why they have been targeted. Certainly The Cash's patents - if they apply at all - apply equally to Sony and the other PalmOS licensees, and Compaq, Casio, Hewlett-Packard and all the PocketPC partners. However, Palm launched its PDA first, and Handspring was founded by the folks who started Palm, so NCR may be targeting them as much as the companies they formed. NCR said it is focusing on Palm and Handspring for now and would not comment on how the action might or might not be extended in the future. Presumably, it's hoping that the others will cough up royalties to avoid lawsuits of their own. Assuming, of course, that they haven't paid up already. And well they might. The first patent, 4,634,845 and 4,689,478, which essentially extends the former, both describe a remarkably broadly Palm-like device. It can store and execute program code ("machine instructions"), "store data", interface with other systems via a "module for coupling said device with said other system to transfer data between said device and said other system". It should be "of a size enabling it to fit into a hand of said user". "A system including a portable personal terminal which may be used for handling a wide variety of financial, shopping, and other transactions. The personal terminal is credit-card sized, is intelligent, includes a plurality of transaction totals and is constructed to be user friendly. An interface module is used to couple the terminal to other systems for on line uses." The patents also describe what amounts to an IrDA link for transmitting data. Then again, there's nothing about a touch-sensitive display, about using a stylus with character recognition or about using the device as a personal data organiser. As with most patent claims, there is plenty of scope for a variety of interpretations of just how close patent and Palm are. Handspring has said it will fight the case, which it damns as being without merit. Palm is evaluating the action. Palm has been here before, of course. Last year its parent, 3Com, was sued by E-Pass Technologies, which claimed its 1994 patent for a "multifunction, credit card-sized computer that allows users to securely store a multitude of account numbers, PIN codes, access information and other data from multiple credit cards, check cards, identification cards and similar personal documents" was being infringed by Palm devices. That suit seems to have been settled and buried, and we expect the NCR case to be settled out of court too, the usual outcome of patent infringement claims. We await the three parties to announce a technology sharing agreement. ® Related Story Smart card company sues in Palm patent piracy claim
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2001

UK ninth in Euro ADSL table

The UK is set to trail Europe in the provision of ADSL despite the Government's stated goal that Britain will be a global broadband leader. A joint report by European research companies, Van Dusseldorp & Partners and Screen Digest, found that Germany's early adoption of DSL means that it now leads the market in Europe and that it will build on that advantage over the next two years. At the end of 2000 Germany had 400,000 subscribers. By 2003 that figure will increase to five million subscribers. In contrast, France, the Netherlands and Britain will have just one million ADSL subscribers apiece by 2003. Broadband Landscape Europe: Market Assessment and Forecast to 2003 concludes that with just 30,000 DSL subscribers, Britain currently lags behind its European rivals at number nine in the European DSL league table. Ireland and Portugal are the only European countries to have no DSL subscribers. The report also claims that because of the geographic limitations of cable, DSL will account for more than two-thirds of the estimated 18.8 million broadband subscribers in Europe by 2003. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Mar 2001

Comic Relief leaves BT laughing

It's Comic Relief day* today. Subsequently, you are likely to be bombarded with daft and silly events in the hope that you will part with a few quid. As ever, one of the main fundraising tools is a premium phone line which people can call to vote for various TV clips, people etc etc. At £1 a call, this is a very good way to raise money as people donate to charity and they get something back as well. Imagine our surprise then when the Today programme today on Radio 4 revealed that for every phone call made, Comic Relief receives just 64p. Where does the other money go? Why, BT of course. Apparently it costs BT 36p of every £1 for line rental and setting up the network. That's over a third of the total cost. Does this not seem a little excessive? Especially considering that the entire event is for charity? If this really is cost price to BT, it must surely raise questions about BT's efficacy. It sets up hundreds of charity phone lines every year and has been doing so for a couple of decades. Does it really cost 36p for every phone call? And we thought telecoms had become a low-cost all-encompassing industry. We called up BT and are waiting for it to get back to us to explain just how expensive and complicated these systems are. We also called up Cable & Wireless to ask how much it would charge for the same service. Last week, C&W took a £700,000 contract off BT for the Samaritans because callers were getting engaged signals. It charged the charity half what BT was asking. A C&W spokesman told us however that he couldn't give us a breakdown of costs at such short notice. Besides, he told us, "it's not really in the spirit of Comic Relief to denigrate a competitor". Well, at least one company has charitable intentions. ® * For our non-UK readers, this is an biennial (once every two years) charity event set up by leading comedians to provide funds for developing countries. The premise is that people raise money by enjoying themselves.
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Mar 2001

Telecoms fraud costs $55 billion a year

Phone companies estimate that global telecommunications fraud is running at $55 billion a year. The estimates comes from a telecoms industry group the International Forum of Irregular Network Access (FIINA), whose members include fraud experts at service providers throughout the world. The figures for fraud, which FIINA admits are not precise because they make assumptions about how much offences against business go unreported, estimate that telcos themselves lose as much as 6 per cent of revenues to fraud. The figures, reported by the Telegraph, include many different types of fraud including those involving mobile phones, premium line misuse and phreaking, which can be used to obtain free telephone calls at the expense of either telcos or by exploiting corporate phone systems. Neil Barrett, technical director at security consultants Information Risk Management, explained that phreaking is the process of manipulating the phone system electronically, normally by sending additional control codes down phone lines to obtain free access. "This is a piece of cake and the emergence of digital technology in exchanges has not really made it that much more difficult," said Barrett. He explained that once free access to a phone system had been obtained, it might be sold on to people willing to pay criminals for cheap rate phone access overseas. Alternatively phreaking may be used to obtain free net access in European countries or out of "sheer buggeration", he said. Barrett believes the cost to enterprises from phone misuse is probably only a small fraction of the $55 billion figure quoted in the study but he believes it is still a real and growing problem. "With badly managed PBX systems it's dead easy to manipulate them to get free calls," said Barrett. He explained this was normally done by crackers manipulating system so that inbound 0800 calls could be redirected to external lines, using features normally geared to transferring calls from office phone numbers to mobiles. Attacks on voicemail systems were also a problem for companies because they would give access to audio storage capacity that can be used to host anything from MP3 files to audio porn. "Voicemail systems are also normally only defended with a four digit PIN so they can be broken into in a night of 'war dialling'," said Barrett. With telecoms fraud becoming more sophisticated and organised crime entering the arena, the message seems to be that firms need to devote attention to the security of their phone systems as well as their computer networks. Failure to do so can result in a very nasty surprise when the phone bill arrives. ® Related stories Legendary phreaker Captain Crunch sets up security firm MostHateD in gaol for burglary
John Leyden, 16 Mar 2001

Clinton criticised for relaxing hardware export controls

A decision by former president Clinton to relax export controls on high technology equipment has come under fire in a government report. The report, which suggested powerful computers could be used as part of the development of nuclear weapons, was presented before a hearing of the US Congress, which is examining the issue in considering similar legislation. Appearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, a trade specialist from the US General Accounting Office (GAO) testified that the Clinton administration did not properly consider the national security implications of lifting certain export restrictions to countries like China. During its last year in office, the Clinton administration made a number of announcements that increased the export licensing threshold for high-performance computers from 2,000 million theoretical operations per second (MTOPS) to 85,000 MTOPS. Part of the reasoning behind this was Democrats believed US controls on exports were ineffective because could always be sourced from other countries. However this explanation cut no ice with officials in the Bush government. Clinton's explanation of his administration's policy was considered inadequate by Susan Westin, managing director of GAO's international affairs and trade division. Reuters reports that in prepared testimony Westin stated that a submission on behalf of Clinton failed to take into account "all militarily significant uses for computers at the new thresholds and assess the national security impact of such uses, as required by law". The criticism coincides with a decision by the Senate Banking Committee to delay a bill which would exempt mass-marketed computers and other high-technology goods from export controls. Part of the reason for this is reportedly concerns from the Bush administration, which seems to be taking a far tougher line on the export of high technology than its predecessor. However supporters of the Export Administration Act of 2001 are hopeful that the legislation might be saved. ® Related stories Europe, US to harmonise encryption export controls US releases 64-bit crypto products for export Guess who Saddam's favourite server manufacturer is SUN god McNealy dismisses human rights
John Leyden, 16 Mar 2001

Canadians walk on water

We're going to draw a line under our Canadian dialogue with a couple of welcome ditties. First up is PC Chef, who kindly attached a pic showing the original buffalo hide puffa jacket in typical Canadian Summer weather. I must say it looks a bit parky out... Obviously you have had the pleasure to get an Eastern Canadian opinion, now how about a Western one? Unlike our Eastern members of the Dominion, we do enjoy bats and hats. (To the point of having an annual Hat Party, in some parts of this country i.e. Lynn Lake.) In addition, our lovely landscape is composed of ice caps, mountains and plains. By the way, did you know we walk on water too? (No sweat in the Artic.) In the spirit of international cooperation, remember to pack your 120V adapter when you come to visit and keep smilin';>) Oh, we will. To conclude we have Eugene Mendelev from Vancouver with a heartfelt plea: C'mon, leave us Canadians alone. Well, maybe not totally alone - I've got to admit that The Vulture Mailbag's last installments have been unusually bloody hilarious, but dude - ixnay on the acismrey!! That is all. Oh yeah - one more thing - you guys kick ass! The Reg is slashdot with a fucking funny twist - I love it - and you've got the Bastard for god's sake! It's golden! Alright then, we'll leave you alone. Probably. Readers upset by this spirit of detente can catch up with the full Canada-bashing story here: Canada - the hideous truth Canadians very, very upset Proud Canadian slams Reg
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Filing a what?

Crime fraud element enters Rambus case Poor old Mike needs to brush up on his US law it seems - according to David Browne at least: The following is possibly the worst piece of legal writing I have ever seen. Even taking into account that you are neither a lawyer nor an American, it is still rather startling. "Although Rambus immediately filed another deposition with the judge asking for a stay of these parts of the order, which he granted, this does not mean that such stay will be stayed forever. He's thinking about it and asking both parties to re-submit. The linen may, if the case goes to trial, may then be aired in public. "The significance of the March 7th order means the judge must, on the 6th of March, have thought there was a case, on the face of it, to allow Infineon to drag the "crime fraud" element into the up and coming trial." Naturally, Mike immediately apologised for this outrage. But that wasn't the end of the matter. Ed Stepans immediately weighed in with: In your article regarding the Rambus trial in Virginia, you refer in two places to "depositions" filed with the Court. "Depositions" are not (generally) documents filed with a court. Rather, they are (generally) pre-trial takings of testimony under oath of witnesses. One cannot file a "deposition" for summary judgment (that's "judgment," with an "e"), one must file a MOTION for summary judgment. Similarly, one cannot file a "deposition" for a stay of a judge's order, one must file a MOTION for stay. This correction has been circulated to the Vulture Central hacks. Anyone who makes a similar error in future will spend a day in the stocks. We hope this is satisfactory.
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Napster filter cuts downloads by half

Napster's court-enforced attempt to prevent up to 135,000 songs from being shared using its software has dramatically cut the number of downloads from the service. Since the company added filtering software to its servers, there have been 50 per cent fewer downloads from the network. The average number of files offered by each user has fallen from 172 to 71, according to Net research company Webnoize. No one expected Napster's usage figures to remain unchanged after the filtering software was put in place - a significant dip was always on the cards. What's surprising, perhaps, is that it's not as deep as you might think, given how little material you'd expect to come from non-RIAA members. So either Napster has always been used for more legitimately than the music industry would have us believe - or the various anti-filter utilities, like Aimster's now-zapped Pig Encoder, are hiding a good few copyright files which continue to be downloaded. ® Related Stories Catnap fills Aimster's anti-Napster filter shoes Napster gags Aimster anti-filter app Canadians target filtered Napster fans for profit Aimster tells Napster file filter to 'pig off'
Tony Smith, 16 Mar 2001

Denial of service warning for network security tool

A security firm has issued an alert about a cracker tool which can be used to mount a denial of service attack (DoS) against its own products. Internet Security Systems is warning about 'Stick' which can reportedly reduce the performance of, or deny service to, many commercial intrusion detection products, including ISS' RealSecure Network Sensor 5.0. The tool, which has not yet openly available on the Internet, works by flooding intrusion detection systems (IDS) with more information than can be processed. Stick uses the very straightforward technique of firing numerous attacks from random source IP addresses to purposely trigger IDS events. This technique has been seen before but the implementation used by Stick is far more effective than previous cracker tools which uses similar tricks. In an alert about the problem ISS admitted: "The IDS system will attempt to keep up with the new flood of events, but if incoming events cross the IDS detection threshold, a DoS might result." ISS X-Force has verified the existence of a vulnerability in the Windows NT and Windows 2000 versions of RealSecure Network Sensor 5.0 which leaves the product susceptible to an attack by Stick. On both Windows platforms, the event channel becomes congested during the duration of the attack, although the product doesn't actually crash it is thus rendered ineffective. The Solaris version of Network Sensor is not thought to be affected by the issue. ISS has developed two fixes for RealSecure Network Sensor that will limit the risk of a Stick attack, and has made more information on the issue available here. ® Related stories Different approach to intrusion detection touted Network Associates weathers DoS attack Microsoft struts into Net security market
John Leyden, 16 Mar 2001

Teenage dotcom millionaire has trouble on TV

Teenage dotcom "millionaire" Ben Cohen was the subject of a revealing Trouble at the Top TV programme last night. Ben, if you haven't heard of him before, is famous for selling the Jewish Web site he set up in his bedroom to a big media company. In return he received shares in the company and a seat on the board. The programme followed him from last July - when the dotcom frenzy had just passed its peak - to last week when he signed an as-yet-unannounced deal with Affinity. Unfortunately, Ben came out less the entrepreneuring hotshot that he had been made out to be and more a normal young man who had hit upon a good idea when he was 17. There were continual references to his maturity, mostly from his mum, but what we saw instead was a normal 18-year-old with a few good ideas, money from his Dad and relatives, but no idea how to implement them. The Jewish site he had started at home while suffering from ME was initially valued at £5 million but as the dotcom bubble burst, we saw it turn into SoJewish.com (from JewishNet), fail to launch on time and ultimately be bought out and shutdown by rival TotallyJewish. The dotcom millionaire ended up with the smaller (but still significant) sum of £215,000. In the meantime though Ben had started a new venture - CyberBritain - which he swore he would never sell on and would be his swansong. Hiring and firing his teenage friends to work for him, based and funded by his Dad, family and family friends, he set out to make a fortune on the back of an adult search engine. Things didn't go according to plan. Newspaper editorials lambasted his attempts to link Jewishness with porn sites, causing him to exclaim that "money has no morality" and "I've bigger fish to fry than the Jewish community". Unfortunately, he hasn't. His teenage "content manager" Daniel continually bemoaned his failure to go to university and "get pissed all the time". PA Lucy left saying "he's completely changed. I can't work for someone so highly strung and hot-tempered". Lee was sacked after his cold-calling sales pitches fell flat on their face. And what of Ben's notorious temper? The BBC was kind enough to exorcise any tantrums from the screen. Instead, we had Ben's Dad warning him to behave while in his office and his mum telling of his paddy when she hired a waitress for his 18th birthday: "When the waitress turned up he screamed and shouted for 50 minutes and said he was cancelling the party." Of all the scenes - Ben giving a sales pitch, taking part in a board meeting, talking to VCs - the one that seemed most real was of him and his friends a little worse for wear at the birthday party. What of the search engine that will make Ben his fortune? We have queried his claims on how successful it really is in the past, but even with careful massaging, it doesn't look to be making money. At one board meeting, the financial director and friend of the family tried to impress the need to make money. "Do we actually have any income streams?" "We have identified income streams," replied Ben. It turned out that no one was actually looking after the core of the business - the adult search engine - and no one wanted to either. "I don't want anything to do with it," said Daniel. "I'd be very happy not to be in it but I don't want to give it away," said the FD. The show ended on a high point - the signing of a deal with Affiliate which will push CyberBritain's search engine to its 150 corporate customers. This could bring Ben millions of pounds in the next few years, said the commentator. However, an Affiliate spokesman told us that no money was guaranteed - it's up to CyberBritain to make money off the back of it. The claims that the search engine was written by Ben in his bedroom weren't investigated any further, which is a shame because they would have found it bears a strong similarity to the Open Directory Project run by Netscape. The fact is that Ben Cohen had a good idea at the right time and made himself over £200,000 into the bargain. For that he should be applauded. But if he is indicative of the generation of young dotcomers, then perhaps it's just as well the dotcom market has crashed. ® Related Stories Fishy porn search engine launched by teenage dotcom millionaire The teenage dotcom millionaire and his ever increasing page impressions Teenage dotcom millionaire: Reg gets facts wrong Teenage dot com sensation sweeps Mystery Awards Online Jewish bun-fight erupts Jewish Web site values teen entrepreneur at millions
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Mar 2001

Mesania.com sheds half of jobs

Mesania.com - a pan-European business-to-business marketplace for professional buyers and suppliers of European gift and homeware products - shed half its workforce today. El Reg understands that 17 staff were given the bad news. In December ten workers were asked to pack their bags. Susan Arndt, a director at the London-based B-2-B outfit, confirmed that job cuts had been made but declined to comment. She said a full statement would be issued later. While it's hoped that these cuts will be the last, some observers believe that the outfit will only be able to survive if it receives a fresh injection of cash. In today's climate, that might be easier said than done. In June 2000, NASDAQ-listed Internet Capital Group provided $10.3 million of capital and operational support to Mesania. Other investors include Wand Partners, Nervewire Ventures LLC and Italian incubator eNutrix. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Mar 2001

ICT schizophrenia needs to be debunked

Three quarters of people believe British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, uses email. A quarter believes Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (gawd bless 'er) also uses email, according to a survey by the thinkers at the Industrial Society. Yet Mr Blair is a well-known all-fingers-and-thumbs technophobe and the Queen...well let's just say her use of e-mail is limited. If that's the case, why the anomaly? Well, that's exactly what the Industrial Society is trying to find out as part a lengthy study into the impact of information and communications technology (ICT) on all our lives. In the case of Mr Blair - who topped the poll with Prince William - it appears there is a perception that important people use email and ICT when there might be no evidence to support this. According to the experts, iSociety will enable myths about ICT to be debunked and cut through the "schizophrenia that surrounds the debate over ICT". It will seek to get to the bottom of such widely held beliefs that ICT is ruining relationships and creating unbearable stress at work. Alternatively, it will see if there is any truth in the belief that ICT offers a panacea to all our problems. ® Related Link For more information, check out the Industrial Socitey's Web site at www.indsoc.co.uk/futures/ ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Mar 2001

Transsexuals drawn to expert website

This is a cautionary tale about what happens if you register your entire company name as a domain without first checking your spelling. No doubt Experts Exchange were highly delighted when they got webbed up. Should have looked closer at that url though lads. Any woman trapped in a man's body will be highly dissappointed when they click on www.expertsexchange.com. Despite the promising listings for 'Software' and 'Cutting Edge' Developers, your chances of gender realignment services are slim to say the least. This story smacks of the 'City University at Newcastle-upon-Tyne' fiasco. It was only when they saw the acronym on the new headed notepaper that they realised what a terrible, terrible error they'd made... ® Bootnote Thanks to the eagle-eyed Reg reader Peter who caught this beauty.
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Sema semen steamer

Sema aflame with vital energy Acer turns green at the gills Aaron Tucker is among many readers who thought that Sema's new logo had a distinct reproductive element: Hmm..just a stupid comment. I was staring at this logo and thought: Pervert in me: "Little blue thing = sperm. Litle orange thing = egg.." BOFH in me: "With the black Nike rip on the right, it looks like the one-eyed smiley from Hell" Hippy in me: "A cloud over the sun and a gull flying by." Together now: "uhhh, if you stare at the orange dot long enough, a little white dot starts to float inside...I think the sperm is getting too close." But hold on, what about this from Chris O'Shea: I *love* the new logo, who else but Sema would have thought of using an evil clown smiley ;-) as a logo?(definitely has flame for right eye, orange button nose, evil smirk and "sema" plunged into the missing left eye socket ... how symbolic!) Moving swiftly on to Acer, Hermit reckons he's got a lead on its marketing department: "According to the blurb: the new identity sports a vivid green, representing life, etc., ad nauseum...." I had a Prof. in college that spouted the same crap. He wore argyle socks and pinstriped shirts, ate alfalfa sprouts and bean curd. Who ever wrote the Acer ad is either related or went to the same school...... Also, we have Duncan Ellis, who's been at the dictionary again: It's obvious from the Acer press release that they need a dictionary: they use 'infer' where they mean 'imply'. Twats. Finally, here is an anonymous analysis of our own logo: The Register's bold and uncompromising identity combines elements of wit, a stirring motion and just a hint of cynicism. The vibrant red colour treatment reflects our fearlessness even in the face of punishing abuse and serious injury. It says steadfast and indomitable. It says forthright and rude. It says we are independent of everyone except our lawyers. Our forward-looking agenda is emphasised by the italicised, bold typeface (positioned at a unique and secret angle to the vertical designed for us after 18 months careful research by corporate angle consultancy Straight Sideways). With it we strike forth into the unknown future, unflinching in our search for truth, leaks and press releases. Overseeing and guaranteeing the purity of our vision is the vulture motif. Enclosed and protected by the shield of rightousness (represented by the black disc) the noble vulture scans the horizon, ready to descend upon the corpse of the weak or mortally wounded and rip its guts out. Not bad, but not nearly pretentious enough. We were thinking of getting a press release together, but couldn't be bothered. So we'll let you lot do the work. An exclusive Reg lapel pin goes to the most overblown and preposterous meanderings about our logo. Email your entries to us here. Winner will be announced in next week's letters.
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Sony's Memory Stick to miss sales targets

Sony said today shipments of its Memory Stick, used in devices such as digital cameras, would miss targets. The Japanese vendor now expects to shift seven million Sticks in the year ending March 31 2001, down on the forecast of ten million it trumpeted last October. This means a total of nine million Memory Sticks will have been sold since the product launched late in 1998. Sony expects to hit the 10 million mark by the end of May 2001. Sales of the devices, which are used to store and swap images or sound between PCs and portable gadgets such as cameras and camcorders, are still more than double the previous year - when three million were shipped. The company reckons Memory Stick netted 23 per cent of world flash memory storage media sales during its fiscal year 2000. ® Related Link Sony announcement Related Stories Sony buys PlayStation emulator Sony and the DVD player phantom space launch Sony cuts PS2 sales forecast by 10%
Linda Harrison, 16 Mar 2001

ASP – Where’s the Value?

Guest CommentGuest Comment Despite the immense market optimism and analyst hype surrounding the ASP model the reality has been far more of a revelation for the IT world than a revolution for the business world. Last year, all the analyst groups and most of the major players in the IT industry and the IT press were positioning the ASP model as the major paradigm shift of post-Y2K computing, tying it in with other major technological developments such as mobile/pervasive computing. Even last week Mark Jarvis, senior vice president at Oracle commented: "Software is going to become a service over the Internet; it won't be a product. Our customers will let us run the systems for them." So why, even with all this heavyweight praise and support, is the uptake of many ASP services continuing to fall so far short of industry expectations? In a recent paper Mark Roberts, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young ASP Strategy Director, claimed: "The major independent software vendors (ISVs) have got it wrong. This market cannot sustain SAP, Baan, Oracle, JD Edwards, Siebel and others merely shoehorning their client server architecture applications into a server and hosting it without any customisation. Nobody wants that." So what do people want? The fact is that many ‘supposed’ ASPs jumped on an industry bandwagon and missed the point of the ASP model. ASP services are not simply about providing a hosted client-server solution over the Internet and charging customers on a per-user, per-day/hour basis. This model may provide limited benefits and on-paper savings, but for most companies these do not justify starting from scratch and rendering useless much of a company’s existing IT investment. For ASPs to work, the movement has to be towards genuine service and not simply repackaging the distribution method and cost model for off-the-shelf solutions. With the development of open-source software, competitive, off-the-shelf solutions are increasingly available free of charge. This has already begun with operating systems, office software and components for software developers, but the overall direction is obvious. To survive, software providers will have to offer customers a dynamic and evolving solution that provides the customer with the exact functionality they need as a part of an ongoing relationship. This, far more than the cost model, is the real key to the move from software as a product to software as a service. End-user customisation, such as language and layout, is already incorporated into many enterprise software solutions. As the ASP market develops, this is likely to move from what is mostly a cosmetic front-end into core functionality. To accommodate this, software providers will have to design new far more flexible ‘one to many’ core software. Even then, the current limits of current database and application technology are likely force ASPs to focus solution more on vertical markets in order to achieve the necessary flexibility. By taking the vertical approach, ASPs can look in more detail at their end users and the demands of particular business sectors. This focus facilitates closer dialogue and more understanding, and also circumvents some of the complexities that customisation would cause if the ASP were operating in a broader marketplace. The concentration on smaller market sectors will inevitably reduce the ASP’s potential customer base, but, using this model, revenues can also be increased. The real benefits of software as a service are only really achieved by providing a comprehensive and readily accessible solution, which makes appropriate information available to all users across the enterprise, whether customers, suppliers or employees. The true value of the ASP model is where those users are able, with just a PC (or a handheld device) with an Internet connection, to gain access to a full range of software to meet the needs of all areas of their business. Some ASPs have focused on providing one individual software solution to a broad marketplace, but solution providers can maintain their potential licensing revenue volumes and provide a more marketable service by providing the perfect range of compatible solutions for a vertical market,. Paying for software as a service leaves consumers a lot freer to change providers without abandoning existing investment. As the model of software as a service develops further we will see a shift in bargaining power from the software provider towards consumers. This new and vastly more competitive market will inevitably force software providers to find more new and innovative ways to add value. By providing a way of strategically sourcing all of a company’s IT needs beyond a PC/handheld and an Internet connection, to a solution which is tailored and responsive to the changing needs of their specific business, the initial value of the ASP become clearer. ®
Becky Clark, 16 Mar 2001

BT's Comic Relief – financial

Following on from our story this morning that BT was taking 36p in every £1 call made to Comic Relief's premium charity lines, we have learned that the situation may be worse than we imagined. If the 36p charge is down to line rental and setting up the network, how come it manages to run Big Brother's lines at just 25p a call? Has the fact that 9.5p (38 per cent) of that goes to BT have anything to do with the 36p (36 per cent) of the Comic Relief call that it takes? Is this a percentage game? We're still waiting on BT's press office to tells us. As for setting up the network. DirectLine is supplying its call centres free of charge to the Comic Relief cause - which makes you wonder why BT feels the need to charge for lines. A DirectLine spokeswoman said the company has offered its call centres, with 750 staff, free of charge to the charity for the whole evening. Good lads (and lasses). We suppose the other question is: why is BT charging at all for the service? As one of Britain's biggest companies and one that purports to be our best friend, shouldn't it be behind this charitable occasion? Wanna give BT 36p? Call Comic Relief on 08457 910 910. Don't worry, some of it goes to charity. ® Bootnote We were a little confused as to how Cable & Wireless managed to exactly halve the annual fee to the Samaritans last week for its telephone services. No longer £700,000, now just £350,000. Incredible. Could it be that BT had accidentally double-charged the helpline charity by charging for both the call into the network and the subsequent routing of that call? Surely not. If it were true then BT would have been onto us to explain that it wasn't actually twice the price of its nearest competitor. Unless of course it decided that publicising the fact it was incompetent was the greater of two evils. Related Story Comic Relief leaves BT laughing
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Mar 2001

Wham, bam, thank you RAM

AMD and Intel - who said what? We're obliged to Charlie Demerjian for this mini-thesis on RDRAM vs DDRRAM. I suggest you make a nice cup of tea before wading in: I assume you already know this, but in case you have ANY doubts, here is the answer for the reader who wrote in about the RDRAM vs DDRRAM. Anyways, lets go on to the technical nitty gritty. PC800 rambus runs at 400MHz, double pumped, on a 16 bit (2 byte) wide bus. Overall, the bandwidth is 400MHz*2*2bytes, or 1600MBps, or 1.6GBps. PC700 and PC600 are slower, although neither runs at the speed the names would lead you to believe. Toms Hardware (www.tomshardware) had two excellent articles on rambus a while ago. I highly recommend that anyone even vaguely interested or confused read these, they are a good starting point. DDR runs at 100 or 133MHz, double pumped, 64 bits (or 8 bytes) wide. 100MHz*2*8bytes=1600MBps, whole 133MHz*2*8bytes=2100MBps. The magic is that DDR transfers 4 times as much information per clock, while rambus runs at 4 times the clock rate. On paper this is an even match, but there are several things that skew the arguement in favor of DDR. The first is cost. Go to www.pricewatch.com and look around. Since we are not argueing cost here, I will let this one slide for now. Next is latency. The time it takes to read a single byte at random is MUCH higher on a rambus system than on a DDR system. This is a fundamental flaw of rambus. The P4 can hide it fairly well, but you can apply those same trics to DDR is you so choose. Because DDR's latency is fairly low, there hasn't been much call to do so. All things being equal, in random reads, DDR will most likely beat rambus. After latency comes pin count. Rambus wins this one handily. The number of pins needed to implement a rambus channel is about 1/4 of the pins needed to run a DDR channel. The more pins, the more money it costs to design and manufacture the motherboard. This makes rambus mobos cheaper right? Well, that leads us to the last point, which is speed (although a different speed than the numbers above). Since rambus runs its memory at 3 to 4 times the speed of DDR (400 vs 100 or 133), it is much harder to design. Much MUCH harder. Ask the people who designed the intel i820 chipsets, or the motherboards that use it (*cough* 2 rimms per channel *cough*). When a company like intel repeatedly recalls, delays, and eventually kills of thier flagship product, you have to wonder about that product.. Intel, for all the run I make of it, probably has one of the finest and deepest pools of engineering talent available in the semiconductor industry. If they can't figure it out, there have to be problems. DDR motherboards are much less of a problem, although still not easy. Overall, DDR has more bandwidth, less latency, and is easier to design for. The only way rambus is faster is because some motherboards use 2 channels (i840, i850) for twice the raw bandwidth. If you implemented a dual DDR chipset, it would be MUCH faster than a rambus mobo (single or dual)
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Praise be to our screensaver deities

When we announced the results of our screensaver competition, we stated that Mat Bowden was to be Reg God for a Day. It turns out that we're going to have to get a bit more pantheistic. We have now learned that our winning entry was the work of a team of South African likely lads, pictured above. They are (l-r): Matthew Green, Ryan Lumsden and Matthew Bowden. These boys run a web technology company called THOS. Established in 1994, it is one the oldest web companies in South Africa, boasting Ford, Xerox and Mitsubishi among its clients. When not slaving away for their corporate clients, they're busy running their own virtual greeting card site. And when they're not doing that, they're out saving endangered species, helping old ladies to cross the road, battling injustice and world hunger, and being generally marvellous. So there you have it. Gentlemen, we salute you. Now, down to business. You can download your Windows screensaver here. Save this .exe file to disk and then use it to download the screensaver which will be saved in the "Windows" directory. You can then have a look under "display" in the control panel. And that's all there is to it. Let us know what you think. Note We have thoroughly tested the screensaver and checked it for viruses. Users are, however, advised to perform their own checks before running the software. We hope to have Linux and Mac versions available in the near future.
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001
server room

Web cache hardware launches DoS attacks, site claims

California computer equipment reseller Altima Solutions believes that Web caching equipment by Cacheflow often malfunctions so as to inadvertently attack their site and bring it down. The reported defect, curiously, affects only e-commerce sites running Intershop sales software, Altima says. The Cacheflow bug, one imagines, somehow interacts with Intershop and "requests page updates one to three times a second, causing tens of thousands of requests much like a DoS attack," Altima President Tarek Ayoub told The Register. "Initially we thought we were being attacked by hackers," Ayoub says. "We were surprised to learn that it originated from [innocent] sources that have one thing in common, the Cacheflow equipment." The crippling 'attacks' began over a year ago "at the height of the Christmas shopping season" and have persisted to the present. In all, the site has suffered nine or ten incidents severe enough to knock it over. Cacheflow's response to Altima's requests for help have been characterized by "stonewalling, denial and arrogance," Ayoub told us. After trying and failing to get Cacheflow's attention, the company contacted the FBI, but the Bureau was "unable to help us," Ayoub reports. "They don't have a lot of agents, so they're very busy," he explained. He reckons that other sites are having similar problems and offered us a list of Intershop users, but stopped short of saying that any of them has in fact reported difficulties. "We suspect smaller companies are having trouble," he said. If the problem persists, Altima may well be driven out of business, Ayoub says. Excuse us? Altima's problems, however unfortunate, are unquestionably the result of inept Web design, the other side says. The bug claims are "completely inflammatory and without any basis in fact," Cacheflow Marketing VP Patrick Harr told The Register. The company looked carefully at numerous logs supplied by Altima and found no evidence that Cacheflow servers are implicated. Furthermore, requests for the details of Altima's software and network configurations have gone unheeded, Harr says. He denied flatly that any Web site besides Altima has reported problems of this nature. Altima is "a company short of cash that's looking for angles," he believes. Indeed, Cacheflow is a far larger outfit than Altima, and might well be expected to cough up a few tens of thousands to settle a dispute quietly, and so avoid negative publicity. And by Ayoub's own admission, Altima is in some financial difficulties. So, what have we here? An arrogant, insensitive Goliath cavalierly brushing aside the legitimate squeals of an injured little guy? Or an opportunistic little parasite desperate to survive, essentially blackmailing a big, juicy host with bug innuendo? Tough question. You make the call. ®
Thomas C Greene, 16 Mar 2001

Claire Field wins Harry Potter Web site case

Warner Brothers has backed down on its legal threats against 15-year-old Claire Field - owner of the Web site www.harrypotterguide.co.uk. In a fax sent to Claire's lawyer, Matthew Rippon of Prettys Solicitors, Warner Brothers said that in view of the facts that Claire had registered the URL in good faith and was not using it for commercial means, there was no need for it to continue in its action. Previously, Warner Brothers claimed that Claire's site infringed its trademark as it had the rights to the forthcoming Harry Potter film. Claire offers a wide-ranging site to fans of the Harry Potter series of books written by single mother JK Rowling. Claire's solicitors had been preparing a formal agreement between the two parties but Warner Brothers deemed this unnecessary and said it hoped a line could be drawn under the whole affair. Recognition by Warner Brothers that Claire's site was non-commercial - and as such did not infringe the company's trademark policies - has given hope to other owners of Harry Potter domains who have also been faced with legal demands from the multi-billion pound corporation that they hand over their domains. The owner of www.harry-potter-magic.co.uk, Steve McDonald, has also come to agreement with Warner Brothers over his URL, which he registered for his 10-year-old daughter. Mr Rippon had this to say over the Claire Field case: "This underlines the importance of examining the unique facts of every individual case. Anybody who has a trademark shouldn't send out blanket letters and I hope that this has taught that lesson." ® Related Story The Harry Potter debacle
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Mar 2001

WorldOnline to fight legal action by shareholders

WorldOnline is to contest a claim for damages brought by disgruntled shareholders following its IPO last year. Earlier this week VEB - an association of private shareholders from Holland - began formal legal proceedings against the ISP claiming that WorldOnline withheld vital information ahead of the E2.9 billion float. However, WorldOnline spokeswoman, Margaret van Kempen, told The Register that WorldOnline was unmoved by the claim. "They [VEB] have no legal ground at all," she said. In November 2000 the HQ of WorldOnline was raided concerning allegations of insider trading. In Spring 2000 the company floated on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange but not before WorldOnline founder and ex-chairwoman Nina Brink had sold her stake in the ISP for $60 million - valuing her slice of the business at just E6 a share. The initial price of WorldOnline was E43 a share but fell sharply after floatation. Some investors claim that had they been told of this they would never have invested in the company in the first place. Last year WorldOnline was bought by Italian outfit, Tiscali, for £3.6 billion. ® Related Stories World Online raided in insider trading probe World Online happy with Italian job World Online staff get Nina Brink back in their face World Online punters vent fury at Brinkmanship
Tim Richardson, 16 Mar 2001

Burglars pinch PC with EastEnders plots

The BBC has denied that the secret of who shot EastEnders' Phil Mitchell could leak out after the computer of a script writer for the soap was stolen. Computer equipment and a hard disk containing storylines was taken during a burglary of the writer's Clapham, London home. A spokesman for the BBC said the broadcaster took "appropriate security" so that plotlines could not be recovered, but refused to say what encryption or other security technology it used to do this. According to a story in today's London Evening Standard newspaper, the information on the stolen computer did not relate directly to who shot Phil but it did contain details of future scripts that might allow someone to piece together the identity of the killer. Despite this the BBC firmly deny that the purpose of the burglary was to find out who shot Phil. "The implication that this computer was stolen in order to recover information for publication is ridiculous. Any UK publication would refuse to buy stolen information and none would publish details of the storyline," the BBC spokesman told The Register. The scriptwriter involved is said to be very upset about what is reported to be the latest in a number of break-ins at the property. A police and private security firm are said to be helping make sure she does not become a victim of similar crimes again. More than 17 million people watched the episode of EastEnders in which shaken headed hardman Phil, played by Steve McFadden, was shot. The plotline is promoted by BBC as the biggest TV whodunnit since the "Who shot JR?" mystery of Dallas. Viewers are due to find out who shot Phil sometime in April. ® External links Evening Standard story
John Leyden, 16 Mar 2001

Novell UK services business cuts staff and offices

Services group Cambridge Technology Partners is laying off up to 30 staff in the UK and shutting its Reading and Manchester offices. MD Adrian Carr said he "didn't have enough business" to keep them in work. The company's sole remaining office is in Richmond, Surrey. Carr believes half of the redundancies will be voluntary. The Reading staff have been offered work at Richmond but Carr thinks some one want to commute. Novell bought CTP on Monday but the decision to shut offices and cut staff has nothing to do with the deal. Carr says he will be speaking to Novell to see if they can take on his staff. He said there was no employee he wouldn't keep on if he had the business. ® Related Stories Novell CEO steps down as it acquires consulting firm
Robert Blincoe, 16 Mar 2001

Readers' Letters Duff logo a-go-go

Sema aflame with vital energy Acer turns green at the gills Our ongoing LogoWatch campaign, dedicated to exposing to ridicule and lambastation the worst excesses of corporate makeovers, has found favour with Reg readers. The latest company to benefit from our attention is Sema. Its new incarnation has provoked several comments, including this from Stephen: I must say that the blue "free flowing" flame thing looks rather like a sperm cell. This is particularly unfortunate, considering how much their company name sounds like "semen". For more poking at Sema and Acer, and an analysis of our own logo, have a look here. Best of the rest Canadians walk on water Bearing puffa jackets and seal hides Filing a what? Back to law school for Magee Wham, bam, thank you RAM Reg reader on the job
Lester Haines, 16 Mar 2001

Slashdot caves in to Scientology loonies

Geek paradise Slashdot has taken the unprecedented step of removing a post which contained text allegedly copyrighted by the 'Church' of Scientology, after receiving threats from Hubbard Space Command shysters citing the dreaded Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). "Our lawyers have advised us that, considering all the details of this case, the comment should come down," Slashdot founder Rob Malda aka CmdrTaco regrets to announce. "Last Saturday a comment was posted here by an anonymous reader that contained text that was copyrighted by the Church of Scientology," Malda explains. The post in question contained the full text of some quasi-sacred reincarnated-aliens sci-fi drivel called "OT III", which in turn belongs to a Scientological document called the "Fishman Affidavit" which many claim is a public court record far beyond the reach of copyrights. What little sense we were able to make of OT III suggests a science fiction role-playing game involving impossibly ancient alien spirits called "Thetans" which were hypnotized and subsequently (we gather) implanted in the minds of 'intelligent' beings belonging to a Galactic Confederation of 76 planets, including our own, roughly 75 million years ago. Players (or 'church members', as they doubtless prefer to be called) progress in the game (or 'religion', as they no doubt prefer to call it) by channeling their Inner Thetans, or their pets' Inner Thetans, or by casting spells upon their enemies' Inner Thetans and so turning them against their hosts, or something along those lines. We don't know, but rather suspect that twelve-sided dice are involved somewhere.... Interestingly, the Slashdot announcement contains a lengthy talkback section towards the bottom, the cloying supportiveness of which suggests that Malda's got himself a gaggle of cultish, right-thinking followers and apologists on a par with Hubbard's. 'You had no choice, Rob' -- 'I'd have done the same thing, Rob' -- 'Damn that awful law which no mere mortal could possibly be expected to fight in court, Rob' they all say, more or less. Slashdot typically devotes a great deal of ink to issues of free speech. The courage to exercise it when it hurts, however, is something else again. ® Related Links A detailed and entertainingly harsh critique of the OT III drivel is available from Karin Spaink here. Another and somewhat broader on-line resource which pulls no punches is maintained by Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor David Touretzky here. The absolute mother lode of Co$ dirt has to be the Operation Clambake Web site.
Thomas C Greene, 16 Mar 2001

Tiny to tout WAP phones in US amid PC drought

Tiny Computers plans to start selling broadband Net packages in the US, and aims to have WAP phones in stores by summer. Patrick Chan, executive director of Tiny USA and Tiny Pacific, said the PC assembler was "definitely not" shutting any of its US stores or thinking of pulling out of the US market. But Chan did admit that the business had been hit by the economic downturn - he said plans to open more shops, on the East Coast, had been put on hold, adding that hiring "will be slower". Tiny has also trimmed around five per cent of its US workforce (20 people), all based at its Seattle HQ. "This year we are not planning on expanding very rapidly," said Chen. "It depends on the economic recovery". Last year Tiny saw sales grow 15 per cent in the US, compared to 40 per cent in Asia. To counter slowing demand for PCs, stores will start selling mobile devices. Talks are going on with phone companies, and Tiny plans to have WAP phones and other handsets on offer this summer. It already sells these in its 35 Hong Kong locations. It's also chatting up ISPs about packaging broadband services, such as DSL, with its PCs. Chan said Tiny did not aim to start its own ISP in the US. ® Related Stories Tiny axes US staff, but denies it is shutting up shop Tiny joins unmetered Net deal herd Tiny cuts 60 jobs
Linda Harrison, 16 Mar 2001

Deutsche Telekom let off flat-fee Net access hook

Deutsche Telekom no longer has to offer flat rate Internet fees to ISPs, a German court ruled today. The decision overturns an order by Germany's telecoms watchdog last year, which forced Deutsche Telekom to let ISPs use its lines for a flat fee. At the time ISPs were offering surfers flat-rate Net access, but were still being forced to pay Deutsche Telekom for network access by the minute. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom's own ISP, T-Online, was offering surfers its own unmetered access package. The decision by The Regulation for Telecommunication and Post (RegTP) gave Deutsche Telekom until February 1 to hand over access to its lines for one charge. But the telco giant was none too happy, and threatened legal action - which brings us to today's move by an appeals court. The decision was due largely to the fact that T-Online has agreed to ditch its flat-fee Net offering, AP reports. The decision lets Deutsche Telekom off the hook while it challenges last month's decision in court. And German surfers are stuck with paying higher fees to get online. AOL Germany asked Deutsche Telekom, which controls the local loop in Germany, to "give up its obstructive position and clear the way for Germany's flat-rate future." ® Related Stories German watchdog orders unmetered access Deutsche Telekom threatens to withdraw flat-rate Net access Deutsche Telekom probed over ADSL prices
Linda Harrison, 16 Mar 2001