23rd > March > 2001 Archive

Hack attacks called the new Cold War

The danger posed by international hack attacks against critical US networks is in some ways comparable to the threat Soviet nuclear warheads posed during the Cold War, the President's top national security aide told an industry gathering Thursday, providing a first glimpse of the Bush administration's emerging cybersecurity policy. "Critical infrastructure protection is a core issue for security for the United States, and one that therefore sits squarely on the radar screen at the National Security Council," said Condoleezza Rice, who heads the council as the White House's National Security Advisor. "Virtually every vital service - water supply, transportation, energy, banking and finance, telecommunications, public health - all of these rely upon computers and fiber optic lines, switches and the routers that connect them," said Rice. "Corrupt those networks and you disrupt this nation." Preventing such a cyberattack calls for "a collaborative partnership between the public and private sectors that is unprecedented in our history", said Rice, in a keynote address at the Internet Security Policy Forum II, organized by CIO and Darwin magazines, and the Commerce Department's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO). Rice is a noted expert on the former Soviet Union, and she worked on nuclear strategic planning at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the mid-1980s. She said yesterday that the same strategies that averted nuclear armageddon may also work to stave off a cyber war. "One thing that we can learn from the atomic age is that preparation, a clear desire and a clear willingness to confront the problem, and a clear willingness to show that you are prepared to confront the problem, is what keeps it from happening in the first place," said Rice. America's "soft underbelly" "In some ways, this is a classic deterrence mission," Rice said. "If we want to try and prevent people from trying to attack us - trying to use the soft underbelly, if you will, of the American economy or American military forces or American society - then we have to be honest that there is a problem, that there are adversaries that will try and exploit it, and we have to show that we are prepared to deal with it." Rice did not say who those adversaries are, but Clinton administration officials frequently pointed to China and North Korea as potential cyber war opponents. To date, no state-sponsored cyber attack on a critical infrastructure is known to have occurred, and there's disagreement among experts on the likelihood of an electronic Pearl Harbor. "I thought that the Bush Administration would be more preoccupied with national missile defense than information warfare," says George Smith, author of The Virus Creation Labs and a well known infowar sceptic. "I think that the way information warfare is discussed at the top of the national security structure is not helpful. It's mostly elaborate propaganda." Smith argues that there's no evidence to suggest that computer attacks will ever have the destructive potential of traditional methods of warfare and terrorism, much less nuclear bombs. "The attack on the USS Cole was really low tech. It was some guys with a rubber boat full of high explosives, and it was pretty successfully in that the Cole had to be brought home on floating dry dock," says Smith. "Nobody used any computers to aid that one." Present at the Creation But Rice was unsparing in her assessment, and warned that cold war models like the 'game theory' that influenced nuclear warfare strategy may even fail against the alleged cyber threat. "Both the government and the private sector need to be prepared for the day when all of our efforts may not be enough," said Rice. "Deterrence worked for us in the cold war, but we must always be prepared if it does not work... We have to be prepared for scenarios where we have to restore and reconstitute critical operations quickly if they are disrupted." Notwithstanding the talk of deterrence, Rice did not explicitly propose a policy of swift counter-attacks against cyber aggressors. Rice closed by invoking the memoirs of Dean Acheson, Secretary of State under Harry Truman, who wrote of being "present at the creation" of a new type of foreign policy in a world changed forever by the development of nuclear weapons. "All of us here today will be able to speak of being present at the creation of the strategy and structures that guide our efforts to meet the challenges of the information age," said Rice. ® Copyright © 2001 SecurityFocus.com. All rights reserved.
Kevin Poulsen, 23 Mar 2001

Microsoft vexed by falsified certs

Microsoft is scrambling to revoke two digital certificates that were issued last January by California-based VeriSign to a scam artist posing as a Microsoft employee. Digital certificates are used to electronically sign computer programs and patches so that end users can be assured that the code came from a particular person or company, and was not subject to tampering in transit. The technology relies on trusted third-party "certificate authorities" who issue the certificates and vouch for their authenticity to users. On 30 and 31 January, someone posing as a Microsoft employee persuaded VeriSign, the largest US certificate authority, to issue two certificates under Microsoft's name. "They came to our Web site, they signed on as a Microsoft employee... and provided enough correlatable information that led us to believe that it was a bona fide order," says Mahi deSilva, VP of applied trust service at VeriSign. VeriSign has procedures in place to prevent such chicanery, deSilva said, but on this occasion a company employee failed to properly verify the order. "It was our failure, and it was human error." Law enforcement is investigating. Microsoft warned that the culprit could use the certificates to trick users into running malicious code, signing Trojan horses and viruses with Microsoft's name, then planting them on Web sites or sending them via e-mail. Users would still have to click Yes in a dialog box before the code would execute. "The certificates could be used to digitally sign programs, ActiveX controls, Office macros and other executable content," a company spokesman said. "Once we were informed of the error by VeriSign last week, we immediately began taking steps to protect our customers." Microsoft plans to distribute software to revoke the fraudulent certificates. In the meantime, the company encourages users to keep their eyes open for certificates dated 30 or 31 January. No legitimate Microsoft certificates were issued those days. Further information is available from VeriSign. According to a source familiar with the incident, the hacker used a stolen credit card number to obtain the certificates - a detail deSilva would neither confirm nor deny. "We've been asked not to talk about the specifics. But there is an active investigation with the bank associated with that card, around the usage of that card." ® Copyright © 2001 SecurityFocus.com. All rights reserved.
Kevin Poulsen, 23 Mar 2001

Carnivore and Net censorship will save the children

Online PedophiliaOnline Pedophilia This is the second in a series of stories examining firsthand how pedophiles use the Internet.
Intel headquarters, Santa Clara

Intel moves to throttle throttle-bottle story

Intel has taken speedy steps to clarify what it believes are the issues that lie behind the phenomenon of clock throttling.
Mike Magee, 23 Mar 2001

Girls, girls, girls plague Anandtech site

HWRoundupHWRoundup Don't spell www.anandtech.com wrongly, as in inserting an extra letter of the alphabet in the wrong slot, otherwise you might well encounter "hot stuff" that may turn out to be harder than the hardware you usually see in your meanderings. An interesting method of, shall we say, leveraging on Anand's success and his hits. --------------------cut here------------------- On the far more interesting site without the naked girls, and the extra letter of the alphabet, there's the usual weekly dose of CPU and video card prices. Hefty price drops were the order of the week, it appears. --------------------cut here------------------- Lots of people are still getting very excited about new Athlons released yesterday but we're going to ignore most of that today. Take a look here at some GeForce 3 stuff. Some US analysts think Nvidia may be the new Intel. God help them and us. --------------------cut here------------------- Ed Stroglio has an interesting piece here at Overclockers about warranties on chips and how overclocking might void any guarantees - and put you out of pocket big time. --------------------cut here------------------- There's a picture of Kyle Bennett's dustbins up on his Hard OCP site for some reason or other... --------------------cut here------------------- Young JC is doing his tax return or something but manages to find out that AMD is doing an ad based on The Six Million Dollar Man. The ad uses the Powered by DDR Memory logo that we reported AMD had trademarked a while back. This is some "loose kind of consortium" a suit told us at the time. --------------------cut here------------------- Finally, another mention for Endian.net, which does a pretty good job collating all the different chip and other stuff that crops up online. For more nuts'n'bolts, spanners'n'chisels, fans and fabs and other fings, check out the Mumbai Mix on our Hardware Archive
Mike Magee, 23 Mar 2001

How many dud pixels make a bust TFT?

UK trade group the Personal Computer Association (PCA) has started a campaign to smarten up the LCD industry. The PCA has befriended its twin in the US, the North American Systems Builders Association (NASBA), and together they want to create a standard for the number of faulty pixels allowed on LCD screens. It is normal to find the odd pixel not working, but a group of these offending dots bunched together can result in pesky spots appearing on screens. According to NASBA executive director Robert Danese, the problem is expected to get worse as LCD prices drop and demand rises. Hence the campaign. The PC trade groups have contacted the major LCD OEMs, which say they are willing to investigate the matter. The duo also wants to survey consumers to determine what they think a reasonable level of faulty pixels on screens would be. They then want to try and persuade or pressure the industry to establish a standard. "Because users are not generally proactively advised prior to purchase that they may receive product that has non-functioning pixels, this can become a source of considerable conflict should they receive such product," commented Keith Warburton, head of the PCA. The PCA and Computing Suppliers Federation will hold an open meeting in the UK on April 3 to discuss the issue. If you fancy attending, contact Sam Giblin on 01785 769090. ® Related Stories Samsung dons TFT-LCD crown Screen price drop crashes Hitachi LCD targets
Linda Harrison, 23 Mar 2001

Red Hat stems Red Ink

Red Hat has almost turned the corner in its quest to turn a profit. The company reported a net loss of $600,000 on revenues of $27 million for the past quarter, up 20 per cent from the previous quarter. And despite a trolley-load of acquisitions, Red Hat's cash pile remains substantial: cash and investments added up to almost $150 million. Red Hat's balance sheet actually showed an operating loss of $5.2 million. But perhaps most significantly, the balance between what Red Hat calls subscriptions - licence revenue - and its services business has reversed in the past year. Services generated $8.2 million in the quarter and 'subscriptions' $3.5 million. That's a mirror image of a year ago. Although services is a lower margin business, executives pledged to maintain the focus on long-term growth and profitability. The past quarter's loss amounts to break-even per share. So the Red Hat juggernaut rolls on. By contrast Caldera, the other publicly traded Linux distro, last month reported income of $1 million and a net loss of $9.8 million for its most recent quarter. With Red Hat keeping the spoils of service revenue to itself, rather than leaving it to its channel, it looks to have followed the smarter path. But as the Linux market continues to grow by leaps and bounds - one of the few technology areas that isn't stagnant - it's too early to call. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2001

Recession to halve PDA market growth

Palm yesterday gloomily predicted the PDA market will not grow as explosively as it did last year. The reason? Recession-hit US consumers will spend less this year. The result? Growth in the market will amount to no more than 50 per cent during 2001, compared to more than 100 per cent last year. The prediction was made by Palm marketing head Satjiv Chahil during an interview with Bloomberg. Chahil was quick to point out that 50 per cent growth is still pretty good - indeed, it is - but his comments are nevertheless a sign that the company is being more cautious about its sales expectations than it has in the past. Palm and other PDA makers were certainly rather pleased with themselves earlier in the year when it emerged they had been unaffected by the dire slowdown in Christmas PC sales. Market researcher Gartner is currently predicting average annual growth of around 47 per cent over the next four years for the European market. It reckons 2.5 million PDAs will be sold here this year, rising to 6.5 million in 2004. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Mar 2001

Apple's special OS X marketing ploy

Cupertino Apple boss Steve Jobs claims that within "a few weeks of MacOS X shipping on Saturday 24 March there will be hundreds of thousands of early adopters" loading the new operating system on their Macs, writes Paul Hoffner. This is despite it costing $129 to buy and having very few native applications to run. Sure, it's a great operating system and the Aqua interface is spectacular, but, asked one journalist at Apple's MacOS X launch in Cupertino, "won't there be actually be a slowdown in Mac sales while customers wait to their hands on this stuff for free?" After all, MacOS X will be pre-loaded on all Macs in July. In the meantime Apple has yet to decide whether to make preloading (at a price, of course) MacOS X on option for Macs bought directly from the company's AppleStore. Well, given the volume of Apple's ferociously loyal Mac obsessives there probably will be a lot of folks who will download an operating system which at the moment has virtually no applications written for it. In any case, Jobs declined to answer the question as Apple is in the "quiet period" before it announces it results when it is not allowed to talk about vulgarities like sales. However, Jobs did predict that Apple's feat in producing what is essentially a Unix that's easy to use will make it the "largest source of Unix in the world by the end of the year". And this, he suggested could help Apple move back into markets it hasn't addressed for years: "We're seeing a lot of interest by developers writing for enterprise." OS X on x86? No chance... Jobs strenuously denied industry rumours that Apple will try to entice any of these corporate customers by producing an x86 version of MacOS X to run on PC hardware. So all you folk who have sent emails to the MacOS X on x86 Web site have been wasting your time. Apparently. Acccording to Jobs, Apple is not even keeping an x86 version of Mac OS X warm in some distant lab somewhere: "There is no chance!" he intoned gravely, and this is the man, after all, who killed the Mac clone market to save Apple. A further question concerning Motorola and IBM's ability to stay focused on Apple's desktop requirements with their PowerPC development (when there is a much larger embedded device marketplace out there for the PowerPC architecture) was dismissed, slightly tetchily by Jobs with: "You don't know what you're talking about!" All is now well in the world of G3 and G4 development, it would seem. Similarly Jobs denied out of hand the story, broken by MacUser UK, that Apple had disbanded the hardware team working on the G4 Cube, which has suffered from disappointing sales. "There has been no disbandment of the Cube team. That's not even the way Apple works. We don't have dedicated divisions working on separate hardware projects," insisted Jobs. QED, it is impossible to destroy the Cube project and the cute Cube lives on. Jobs also laid out a timetable of when Apple will actually make its own applications available in MacOS X native version. On 24 March iMovie will be available as a free download from Apple's servers. Ditto iTunes, although it will not be possible to burn CDs until the end of April when Apple adds this capability. Apple has also promised a free of charge download of a MacOS X beta version of AppleWorks starting on 24 March, the day when the OS finally goes on sale. Public Beta 2 Just in case you get the feeling that MacOS X still has a rather beta feel itself, Jobs confirmed that the new operating system will be able to read CDs and DVD disks (only data, not movies though) although burning will not be possible until April. Apple will make its acclaimed iDVD available by July to coincide with the preloading of MacOS X on all new Macs, when it will still be possible to load up MacOS 9.1 should you prefer at the boot stage. And then, "in the summer", Apple will roll out a MacOS X version of Final Cut Pro. After that, Jobs promised another release of MacOS X in the second half of this year to add in lots of bits and pieces (extra SCSI drivers, etc.) that the current release is lacking. Apple's VP for wide developer relations, Clent Richardson, promised that, in the meantime, "all the major peripherals manufacturers are working obsessively on producing Mac OS X drivers for all their devices". Apple has already included 44 drivers for popular inkjet printers from manufacturers like Canon, Hewlett-Packard and Epson. So why buy it now? So it was left to the ingenious Phil Schiller, Apple's VP for product marketing, to explain why it was such a great idea to shell out $129 on an operating system which will be free later this year, and actually supported by applications and device drivers. And Mr Schiller, slightly tongue in cheek it must be said, delivered a hot piece of marketing 101: OK, he went, Mac OS X costs $129, but for that you get three (count 'em!) CDs - the MacOS X disk, a MacOS 9.1 update (worth $99) and a developers CD (worth $500). On top of that there is $1000 worth of Roman fonts and $10,000 worth of top notch Japanese fonts (each with 17,000 characters per font face). So that's $1800 worth of software for just $129! And with Apple market research showing that "47 per cent of the installed base of Apple's Pro customers regard themselves as highly proficient at using their Macs" it's a cert that the orders will come rolling in. Schiller wouldn't put an exact figure on how many this amounts to - "Go do the math," he said - but that apparently equals sales. And sales means prizes. So that's what they teach you at marketing college! ® Related Stories Apple confirms MacOS X updates coming soon Apple event to sell MacOS X midnight 23/24 March
Our correspondent, 23 Mar 2001

Intel wins 250k unit deal for Linux Web appliance

Intel will supply Spain's Banco Santander Central Hispano with 250,000 of its Linux-based Dot.Station information appliances. Chipzilla announced the device at the Consumer Electronic Show in January 2000. By the summer, it had signed up all of three customers, including, we noted at the time, an unnamed Spanish operation. Intel can't - or won't - say if it's signed up anyone else since. It now turns out that the Spanish company in question is BSCH, which last October announced a deal with AOL to co-develop a Net access terminal for home banking. At the time, neither party would say who would be producing the hardware. Dot.Station is a Celeron-based machine with a built-in 15in CRT display, 4.3GB hard drive, a single USB port for the keyboard and a phone handset. Designed by Intel's home products group and manufactured by Tatung, the device has always been aimed at ISPs keen to sell cheap access hardware to new, non-PC-owning subscribers. That distances Chipzilla's box from consumer-oriented appliances, almost all of which have singularly failed to set the market alight, contrary to all those extravagant predictions we heard from market analysts and senior industry figures last year. Earlier this week, 3Com canned its Audrey information appliance less than six months after it launched the device. Audrey cost $500 - roughly the same as the Dot.Station. Intel's advantage is that it's selling to the sellers, so it makes money on the 250,000 boxes no matter how few BSCH customers choose to buy one. That said, BSCH's original order ran to 500,000 units, so it's clearly becoming rather more cautious now that launch is approaching. And if it doesn't sell many of those, it won't be coming back to Intel for more. Intel Home Group marketing chief Greg Welch pointed out one other difference between Dot.Station and Audrey. Unlike the 3Com box, he told Reuters, the BSCH/AOL machine will come with special Intel-written code to automatically update its access software. He clearly doesn't know that AOL's software already does this, downloading the fixes whenever you try to sign off. "Our software stack builds on that idea," an Intel spokesman told us. The software allows the provider to remotely manage and maintain the entire system, including diagnostics, he added. That's one of the advantages of basing your system on Linux, we guess... AOL's choice of Dot.Station is interesting since it already has an AOL-oriented appliance, developed by Gateway, dubbed the TouchPad. Gateway recently cut the device's price by $100 to $499 in a bid to shift more units. ® Related Story Intel intros Dotage.Station
Tony Smith, 23 Mar 2001

Amazon sued by its shareholders

Amazon shareholders has brought several class action suits against the online giant for misleading them over the state of its finances. The lawsuits - filed in Washington - state that Amazon "issued a series of materially false and misleading statements which artificially inflated the price of Amazon securities" during February and March this year. They also claim that Amazon "inflated" the money it made from start-ups it had invested in. It also failed to say that this "revenue" was mostly in the form of shares. The suits have been filed by several companies representing stockholders in the company. Amazon, of course, denied the allegations. "We have always worked hard to be extremely open, careful and accurate in our public disclosures," it said. "It is clear these lawsuits are without merit, and we expect that they will be dismissed by the court." A fortnight ago, the FBI announced it was investigating Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over share-selling just prior to publication to a negative financial report. ® Related Story Amazon's Bezos investigated by Feds
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

Reg sticks with BT's Bonfield

We would just like to reiterate our support for Sir Peter Bonfield in response to yet more scurrilous reports in the press that he is due to resign. Even some of our loyal readers have turned against him, suggesting that not only is he is responsible for BT's fall from grace but also for the collapse of his former company, ICL. Some people seem to think that yesterday's five per cent slump in BT's share price (outdoing the 4.1 per cent fall in the FTSE - the largest since 1992) to 469p is adding to the pressure for Sir Pete to leave. Yes, this is a three-year low in share price and puts a market value of £30.8 billion on the company, while it has £30 billion in debts, but it is all part of Peter's masterplan. Just you wait and see. We just want him to know we are right behind him as he approaches the cliff of decision. If you can make it past today, Peter, you're laughing. As you probably know, many companies only release such catastrophic news late on a Friday to limit the press coverage. All the best. ® Related Story Reg backs Bonfield
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

First University College of Kingston

Transsexuals drawn to expert website In response to our bit of fun at the expense of Experts Exchange, Ian of the company's Customer Service department decided to set the record straight: As an avid reader of The Register I was thrilled to see our name gracing your pages :). I just thought I would let you know, our url is actually experts-exchange.com and always has been, we simply registered the other URL (without the "-") as to protect our web identity. As is common practice to register .org, .net etc of your domain name. Over the past 3 years I have been here, I think I have had 2 emails where people have been enquiring about "other possible" services (barring the prankster emails I have had since the article went up). Ian, I find it hard to beleive that our readers - which include the cream of the IT world - would lower themselves to such childish pranks. It's more likely to be the Reg hacks. Rest assured that they will be severely reprimanded. Let's move on to the 'City University at Newcastle-upon-Tyne'. It seems that this august body of academians has not been the only organisation to suffer from acronym blindness, as Nick Pearson notes: The Newcastle-upon-Tyne University circumstance has an almost identical Dutch counterpart. The institution in question used to be called the 'Katholieke Universiteit Twente', leading acronymically to the Dutch language version of the very same word. Confonted with an exclusion from polite society, they applied for a name change and are now called the 'Katholieke Universiteit Brabant'. And there's more, courtesy of Paul Antoine: The Western Australian Institute of Technology (then commonly referred to as WAIT) decided to rename itself to celebrate it's transformation into a University (from the equivalent of a polytech in England). Several new names were put up for discussion, many of them to do with early pioneers and political figures in Western Australian history; one of the prefered names was Curtin University of New Technology, as something of a nod to its past history as a tech... until someone thought to try the acronym... it's now just Curtin University Is there no end to this madness? No, says Andy Buss who offers First University College of Kingston. Marvellous. To draw the curtain on this whole sorry affair, we offer you www.popeyesailorsexchange.com. Enjoy.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Who's afraid of the CoS?

Slashdot caves in to Scientology loonies Thomas C.Greene's recent piece on the Church of Scientology vs Slashdot punch-up is, according to Karsten M. Self: Pantywaist bravado. If The Register will locate, verify, post, publicize, and defend its rights to do so, copyrighted Church of Scientology documents, you'll have a leg to stand on. Otherwise, crawl back into your hole. Of course we wouldn't print those documents. They might send the Thetans round. Worse still, Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Oooh, nooo, we're so afraid we're going to hide in our hole.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

So, where is my flying car?

It looks like one Reg reader's heartfelt plea has been answered. Back in January, Erik Trent demanded the flying car that 1950s boffins promised us by the year 2000 and - like the housework robot and an end to world hunger - failed to deliver. Until now. American inventor Paul Moller yesterday unveiled the Skycar at the Big Boys' Toys exhibition in Sydney. Having spent 40 years and £140 million on the development of his VTOL flying gizmo, Moller was understandably prepared to make extravagant claims about the future of the project: "I think it's reasonable to believe that 90 per cent of the population will be using the Skycar within 25 years," he enthused. Of course they will Paul - to fly to their holiday homes on Moon Colony 1. And at £700,000 a pop, it's competitively priced with your average four-door saloon. As long as your saloon is made of diamond-encrusted 24-carat gold. And runs on vintage champagne. Whether or not the Skycar ever does lift humanity to new heights of commuting freedom, it does have one big-bucks customer in the bag. The US military has already tested the thing and is said to have placed an order. Infinity and beyond!
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Corel scrapes a profit – just

Corel is back in the black, two financial quarters ahead of its previous predictions, the troubled software company said yesterday. Its profits for the quarter - the first of its current fiscal year - should total around $500,000, Corel said. Sales will total $32.5 million, down on company expectations, it admitted. Still, since CEO Derek Burney wasn't expecting Corel to become profitable before Q3, that's something we're sure they can live with, particularly since its Q4 $8.6 million loss was wider than anticipated. This time last year Corel lost $12.4 million on revenues of $44.1 million. Burney put the burst of profitability down to "positive operating cash flow" and "hard work". Corel's press statement puts it more bluntly: "Interest income is expected to offset the operating loss [expected to total $1.5 million] and yield a modest net income." It goes on to say: "Final results, net of non-cash items, are also expected to demonstrate positive operating cash flow before payment of Novell obligations and non-operating items." We're not sure what "Novell obligations" are. They sound rather droit de signeur but probably refer to Corel's ongoing payment for WordPerfect. The point is, though, that Corel's bottom line will be dragged into the red by exceptional items, and that its "modest" 500 grand profit isn't down to selling more software or anything - ie. not the product of its business - but simply the cash it has in the bank. Corel's final Q1 2001 results are due next week on 29 March. ® Related Stories Corel sees bigger than expected Q4 losses Corel to spin off Linux OS biz Corel responds to Linux sale speculation
Tony Smith, 23 Mar 2001

How not to get your mobe nicked

How to get back your nicked mobile Regarding mobile phones, Gareth Williams has some sound advice for Reg readers: Just read your article on getting back your nicked mobile phone. Amusing stuff, although the advice from the Met seems to be lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. As such, I thought I'd draw up the following ways of ensuring people don't half-inch your precious personal communications accessory... 1/ Don't believe that 'the A-Team Theme Tune' ringtone you've downloaded is in any way humourous; 2/ Don't feel obliged to call your loved one to tell them when you're waiting for the train to arrive, then when the train has just arrived, then when you're sat down in the train, then when the train has been delayed, then when the train has left the station, then when the train has arrived at the next station, then when the train..... etc... etc...etc...; 3/ Don't assume that the person you're calling is deaf and that by shouting at the top of your voice, they'll be able to hear you better; 4/ Don't be fooled into thinking that the shiny gold cover you bought for 99p from that dodgy geezer in Leicester Square makes you look rich or classy; Basically, for the terminally-dumb, stop acting like a complete prick with your mobile phone and people won't steal it from you! Also: A/ Don't have the ringer volume on your phone unnecessarily turned up to full so that the person sitting next to you has a heart attack when it rings. B/ Don't discuss in public with a friend how many ring tones your phone has and then demonstrate the whole lot. C/ Don't shove your mobile up your backside. Fellow passengers can do that for you. D/ Just don't, alright?
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

FOTW Magee Rambus rumpus

Intel P4 strategy dented by Rambus ruling Poor old Mikey. No sooner had he got the kettle on on Monday morning than the pro-Rambus rant squad were skipping breakfast to dribble foam all over their keyboards. Hats off to Henrico for this well-reasoned analysis: Mike A speaks the truth you dirtbag piece of shit journalist. You always fail to mention the positives for Rambus. Maybe you are bitter because your mommy ignored you when you were growing up. Come on guy she had to make a living on the streets of London! SLRRP! SLRRP! 20 pounds for a BJ! BWARAHAHAHAHAHA! Eat shit Mike! You fucking stink! Then, just as Mike was settling down to his tea and biscuits, this came in from Jim: You're a fucking liar and an asshole. How much are you paid to publish lies? Now hold a minute. Insult the man's mother if you will, but asking for his salary details? Bad form old chap. Bootnote For the record, this is how much we get paid to publish lies. Don't like our editorial slant? Get your chequebook out.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Oftel publishes whingers' charter

Oftel has produced a guide for companies explaining the best way to complain about possible breaches of licences or the Competition Act. It appears it is not merely enough to whinge, whine and throw indiscriminate allegations around the place in the hope that the winged watchdog will sit up and take notice. Instead, the guidelines suggest that the more information that can be provided from the outset about the relevant market and the barriers to entry, the quicker Oftel will respond. Said David 'Harry Potter' Edmonds, head boy of Oftel: "Companies that believe that they are subject to anti-competitive practices or other illegal behaviour want Oftel to intervene as quickly as possible." They do, David, they do. But Oftel's track record at swift resolution is not good. By its own admission, Oftel aims to complete 80 per cent of investigations within six months and all investigations within 12 months. No doubt it's hoped that the introduction of guidelines on how to complain will speed up the time it takes the winged watchdog to resolve complaints. Just don't hold your breath... ® Related Link Making a formal complaint to Oftel - guidance for the telecommunications industry
Tim Richardson, 23 Mar 2001

MS preparing for IE6 public preview?

Microsoft is poised to begin a public preview of Internet Explorer 6, according to a web site tracked down by Betanews. The curiously inexpert-looking use of an IP in the link had our scam detectors twitching, but no, 131.107.85.107 does seem to be owned by the Beast of Redmond, so the site's probably just under construction, and the name's TBA. Most likely Microsoft intends to kick off the preview of the non-WinXP version of IE6 at around the same time as it rolls with the preview of WinXP itself. As yet there's no information on the site actually about the public preview (although there's a nice blank page), and the only thing that seems to be working is a nice form for reporting the bugs in the software you haven't got. Unless you grabbed it when the beta code escaped a while back. IE6 is certainly important to Microsoft, because it's the version of the software the company will be using to get its take on privacy and cookie management into the hands of the users. It'll include, as Microsoft announced ealier this week, support for P3P privacy statements, and a default cookie handling setting of medium, which is probably where most of the world will leave it.* Our old friend Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters, snappily denounced it all: "Microsoft's 'thermostat setting' where surfers are required to tell their PCs how much they will tolerate being surveilled gives a misleading and dangerous view of privacy. People shouldn't be forced to trade privacy for participation." More snappy denunciations from Jason available here. Actually, even though the preview IP does seem to belong to Microsoft, it still looks like an email address gathering scam to us, just maybe a Microsoft one. MS public preview programs are generally intended to get pretty large numbers of people to look at the software, and we surmise that the volume of bug reports they generate must be so vast that the smart thing to do is just to route them all straight to the trash, rather than actually check them. But those nice fields with name, email address, detailed hardware configuration, ISP name, connection type, software on the machine... Well, that's all useful, isn't it? And it's also the sort of stuff people get ballistic about if, say, they find the software sniffs it out and 'accidentally' sends it to Redmond. The great thing about preview programs is that you can use them to induce people to invade their own privacy for you. ® * Cranking cookie detect up to full can be entertaining. A recent Register reality check of the Intel site collected us 58 cookies during a visit to the front door, and two other pages. This is one sick company. Related Stories Microsoft becomes cookie defender, privacy hero MS adds cookie detector to IE, grooms Privacy R US stance And you can't sign up for the program yet here.
John Lettice, 23 Mar 2001

Taiwanese duo do DIMM successor

Taiwanese chip companies Apacer and United Test Center are planning the successor to SIMMs and DIMMs - a memory module based on processor-style packaging. The pair propose to use a Window Ball Grid Array (WBGA) system to connect memory to a host machine. According to Apacer President Y S Chen, cited by Taiwanese business paper, the Commercial Times, WBGA is better than the strip-like modules PC memory is currently installed on, known in the trade as Thin Small Outline Package (TSOP) devices. WBGA will allow memory modules to be smaller, lighter, more capacious and less power-hungry than current DIMMs. It also works better at the ever higher clock speeds system memory runs at these days. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Mar 2001

English safe despite Web

A leading linguist insisted today that that the destruction of the English language by perceived abuses on the World Wide Web was "not remotely likely". Speaking at the Royal Society of Arts in London, Dr David Crystal chose rather to highlight ways in which the Web "is giving a creative range to the language", while conceding that it is having "an impact on languages quite unlike any previous technology". One example of this impact is the instant dissemination of new words: "A new word coming in in the morning can be on everyone's screen in the evening," Dr Crystal noted, adding that such possibilites were "fostering language change in a way that was not possible before." Although seemingly spared the cruel fate of death at the hands of geeks and chat room devotees, Dr Crystal stated that although English currently accounts for around 70 per cent of Web content, this would fall as speakers of other languages acquired Web technology and expertise. One positive result of this trend would be the international dissemination of endangered languages. There are currently around 1500 languages represented in cyberspace. Dr Crystal's 60 or so published works include The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and, more recently, Netspeak - an analysis of English on the Web. He held a chair at the University of reading for ten years and is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor. He was awarded an OBE in 1995 for his services to the English language. Related Story Email is 'third revolutionary step in human communication'
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Scoot.com posts losses

Scoot.com has denied reports that its decision to appoint Merrill Lynch to conduct a review of all "strategic options" for the information finder and business directory business is a signal that the outfit is up for sale. A spokeswoman for the company said that management was keen to concentrate on running and expanding the business. Merrill Lynch has been brought in, she said, to look at the way the business is run and to see if it can be operated more efficiently. Despite the optimistic spin, this does not rule out a possible sale or job losses once the review is complete. Publishing unaudited preliminary results for the 15 months ended 31 December 2000, Scoot.com reported group revenue of £24.1 million and EBITDA losses of £46.4 million. The outfit says it had £31.3 million of free cash in the bank at the end of last year. Dick Eykel, Chairman, of Scoot.com, said that its UK business was "on track to profitability" but that it was now "critical to ensure that Scoot can fully exploit its exciting business opportunities". However, Scoot (UK) revenue decreased from £15.4 million in 1999 to £11.5 million in the 15-month period ended 31 December 2000. Scoot's subscriber base in the UK is expected to grow to 110,000 by the end of the year. Scoot's European user base is predicted to hit 85,000 by end of 2001. ®
Tim Richardson, 23 Mar 2001

Nintendo ignores entire Internet

We had a report this morning that Nintendo's UK Web site had been hacked. Sure enough, taping in www.nintendo.co.uk brings up nothing but a blank page. So we contacted Nintendo to find out what the damage was. We got a call back to say the site hadn't been hacked as it doesn't exist. Nintendo certainly owns its .co.uk namesake, but for some reason has decided that there is no point in having a UK Web site. We know that Nintendo has past its glory days, that it is trying desperately to reinvent the GameBoy and that the N64 is going (gone?) down the pan, but surely it has some use for a Web site? In fact, Nintendo seems particularly uninterested in the UK and Europe, seeing as the GameCube is only expected to reach us next year, when Japan will get it this summer and the US in the autumn. Why no UK site? we asked a Nintendo spokeswoman. "Well, we only took over the site recently from an agency," she said. Apparently an agency has run it before, but, er, hadn't actually put up a Web site to run. What is going on here? And it would seem that there aren't any plans at present to build one either. Has the Internet passed Nintendo by? Come to think of it, we can't think of any Nintendo Internet-based news at all. Is this not just a wee bit short-sighted? ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

1394 chiefs back 5C's copy controls

The 1394 Trade Association has endorsed copy restriction mechanisms proposed by the 5C Entity - the bus brethren to the 4C Entity's storage police. The 4C's DTCP (Digital Transmission Copy Protection) controls the transmission of data between PCs and consumer devices and was finalised almost three years ago. The endorsement shouldn't be too surprising, as Sony is both a backer of the IEEE-1394 (iLink) serial bus, and a member of the 5C Entity. Along with Intel, Matsushita and Toshiba (all 4C members), and Hitachi. Of course, Sony's a major movie studio and the most publicly belligerent when it comes to free use. DTCP is part of the OpenCable (sic) specification too. But what surprised - no, astonished - us, is that in endorsing DTCP 1394 TA chief James Snider paints himself as the consumer's friend, battling the "special pleadings of a handful of studios who would prefer users never copy anything for any use should not get in the way of industry adoption". Special pleadings such as those of his sponsor, Sony for example? "The challenge to this copy protection specification has been raised again by special interests who are ignoring the rights of users and consumers, despite a significant body of US case law that permits copying under controlled circumstances," Snider continues. Admittedly the studios did want an impractical end-to-end encryption scheme, but Snider can be accused of protesting too much. His comments appear in 1394TA mouthpiece FireWireWorld, which devotes a lengthy apologia to the news. By their words shall ye know them: and isn't that phrase "controlled circumstances" a little odd? Doesn't it evoke a picture of immobilising death rays paralysing someone who's just video'd Letterman... It's positively Freudian, and we look forward to seeing the specification for that (UMR) or User Mobility Restriction extension to DTCP to follow shortly. ® Related Links The 5C Entity The 1394 Trade Association Related Stories CPRM on ATA full coverage
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2001

Capital Radio suffers from dotcom collapse

Capital Radio has seen 24 per cent wiped off its shares after it announced a profit warning, saying profits would be 10 per cent down on last year. The company's FD, Peter Harris, put the blame at the door of dotcoms. "Last year, we had a lot of money placed with us from what we describe as flaky dotcom companies," he said. Internet companies now only account for three to four per cent of its revenue - down from six per cent. Mr Harris didn't say whether expected ads had been pulled or if the companies had gone titsup.com but either way it looks as though the burst bubble has brought it down. Capital's share price fell 207p to 670p. It's still expected to make a £36.5 million profit though. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

Magee set straight on Rambus ruling

Intel P4 strategy dented by Rambus ruling For the faint of heart who might not wish to be exposed to the unadulterated filth of this week's RamboFlame, we are printing a couple of the more reasonable missives received on this subject. Fathi Ali come on down: I have read your article twice but I still don't see how the heck could this ruling dent Intel strategy! First, this ruling is a pre trial one regarding some basic definitions and hence the outcome of the trial is still not easily predictable. Second, the outcome of these law suits will determine if memory manufacturers will pay royalties on DDR and SDRAM to Rambus or not. How does that effect Intel in any way? You write over 10 paragraphs and never bother to explain how you come up with such catchy title. Every benchmark I have seen clearly demonstrates that the P4 benefits greatly from the great bandwidth RDRAM offers and if it was not for RDRAM, the P4 would be no match for the Athlon and hence it is obvious that coupling the P4 with SDRAM (or even DDR for that mater) might prove successful only to those people who don't care about performance. I know you might turn around and say if MM don't have to pay royalties on DDR, it will be cheaper than RDRAM and puts Intel at a disadvantage. Gee, you people are so bad in math! the royalties are in the ~2% range. So on a 128 MB stick, it will cost OEMs about a dollar more if Rambus collects royalties on DDR. Oh I see it, whether a PC costs $1299 or $1298 will make a dent in Intel strategy! Keep spinning. Catchy titles may attract first-time readers but eventually they get tired of it. To which Mike replied: You say you don't get the point but it's obvious that in some ways you do. Did you check the background of the case, viz-a-viz Intel? And did you see that Dataquest agrees the entire PC industry is being affected by this unseemly legal squabbling? Oh yes. Then there was Doug Shekoyan: You know, I just wrote you a letter telling you that you wrote a great piece on AMD's memory predicament, and now I have to eat my words because you go and write what is arguably your lamest article yet. This one on Rambus' legal problems affecting Intel was just lame. There's nothing there. Your article is a joke. Where's your editor, on vacation? Re-read your own article. You don't say anything of substance. You painfully explain the current dynamics of the memory/cpu industry, but you NEVER explain how this preliminary ruling affects Intel's competitive position in the marketplace. Will it slow adoption? Who knows, you don't address anything that's meaningful. You're not even on the right page. I don't mind reading something negative on Intel, but your article isn't even controversial. It doesn't say anything. How can you debate a person who doesn't state anything of substance? Pretty lame, even by your standards, Mr. Magee. Of course you won't write back to explain yourself, so don't bother with one of those "boilerplate: 'Just got back from vacation'" bullshit messages you send out. Blimey! Well, that's what happens if you prod the Rambus hornet's nest with a stick. Reckon there'll be more of the same next week.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Net paedophilia investigation stirs emotions

Interview with a Net pedophile Carnivore and Net censorship will save the children It was to be expected that our recent investigation into paedophiles on the Web would provoke a large response. So it was, with Andrew Torrance left unimpressed: You just do not get it do you? You gloss over the 38% of girls being abused, just so as to be able to self justify a quick left-handed mouse session. Ok I'll agree 38% is high, lets assume it is 4 times too high, seem more reasonable ? Ok, So 10% of girls under 18 get abused, by my sums that's about 12 million girls in America. Ok, let's say 10% is high, call it 1%. Why that's only around a million girls in the US. Have you ever seen the long-term effect this can have? I know of cases where 50 years on the victim is still in torment. OK, I'll agree the net does not create paedophiles directly, but it is one of several avenues through which these sub-humans operate. And whilst I agree that some politicians do not know their arse from their elbow in the area of technology, that is no reason to accept paedophilia. You may want to keep the right to watch what you like and say what you like. I want the right to control the subject matter to which my children have access until such a time that they are ready and able to make such choices for themselves. That goes for all media including the internet. That is one of the responsibilities of parenthood. Even you would not suggest I let my 5-year-old watch bambi one day and porn the next? Your entire article seems to be summed up as: peadophilia doesn't happen that much, and I think we should put up with on the net, since if we stop it then I may not be able to do what I want on the net. Ok, I draw the line at peadophilia, where do you draw the line? I would suggest that there is no statistical evidence that the net influences people to rape and murder your close relatives. If I was to set up a site giving out all their names and addresses and inviting people to go there for rape and murder, would that be acceptable? Statistically I am correct. Morality cannot be judged by statistics. Some things are acceptable in a free society, some things are not. This talk of freedom of speech is something the ignorant and stupid hide behind when they cannot think of any other cohesive arguments. Simon Chriscoli takes another slant on the issue, believing that education holds they key to the problem: I've used IRC before, and obviously chat channels are host to a lot of people. Most are regulated by IRCops and Chan-ops. How come channels such as #dad&daughtersex are allowed to be hosted on irc servers, or would it be a case of these paedo's are hosting their own servers and channels.? Common sense gets the better of me when I think of entering channels labelled Dad&daughter sex, but Im at an age where I know much better and like many people would'nt dream of entering such a sick channel. I'm more curious than interested to wonder a)society detests paedophiles (and why not?), as a result theres continued effort in bringing these sicko's to justice. So why would paedo's hang out in places like dad&daughtersex, especially if it's common knowledge that these are swarming with feds. I have a younger 12-yr-old sister, thankfully she's not into the internet or such media, but I'm pretty certain she wouldn't dare stray into channels such as dad&daughtersex, purely the title is alarming enough, Im curious as to how children these days can be so careless as to wander into places such as that. Is it lack of education, lack of parental control or curiousity?. It's also v.disturbing to see how direct these people can be, they have no sense of protection for the innocent (they wouldnt be pouncing on young people if they had!). Unfortunately, its part of our current day society, and as long as there is "anonymous" access to children these twisted individuals will continue to make lives hell. Maybe its time to put aside the concentration of catching these people, but put more emphasis on educating children, and also educating parents - some who are technophobes. Maybe if society reduces the access these paedophiles have, we can reduce the crimes committed. Mike Smith, alternatively, reckons that there's an element of scaremongering in the whole issue: The current hysteria over paedophiles on the Internet is only the latest scare story perpetrated by ignorant technophobic reactionaries. They're the same sort of people who enacted the Red Flag Act and condemned the coming of the railways. Think back over the last 20 years of knee-jerk UK legislation - we've had two amendments to the Firearms Act, after Hungerford and Dunblane respectively, the Video Recordings Bill and the Dangerous Dogs Act. These were all enacted hastily in response to a hysterical and over-emotional campaign by the tabloid press. At the start of the 90s, as bulletin boards began to increase as the cost of modems fell, there were similar outpourings about the availability of Nazi propaganda and bomb-making instructions. You had to stop for a moment to realise that most public libraries in the UK had a copy of Mein Kampf freely available, and most secondary schools could reasonably be expected to have chemistry text books lying around somewhere. Same pattern every time - lurid stories in the gutter press, knee-jerk legislation either proposed or enacted (remember the BBS licensing scheme?) and a few years later, common sense returning. Look at the Video Recordings Bill - most of the proscribed videos are available again, and you can even buy hardcore porn in licensed sex shops now. Please join me in welcoming the UK to the 20th century... So currently it's paedophiles that the Luddite technophobic control freaks are using as a smokescreen to hide their fear of technology. Certainly, we'll see some Orwellian legislation enacted, but once sanity returns, it'll be something else. I'll bet on either cannibalism or contract killings for organ transplants. Thanks to all those readers who contributed to the debate. No thanks at all, however, to Colin Percival. You always get one, don't you? I take offense at the statement that "There is perhaps no group more universally despised than pedophiles, and with good reason...". Whatever the misguided of the world may say, there is no reason whatsoever for pedophiles to be despised - or for pedophilia to be frowned upon at all. Indeed, it can be argued that without a certain degree of pedophilia, modern civilization, with its highly developed and efficient agricultural system, would be largely impossible. After all, as any good dictionary will tell you, pedophilia is nothing more that "an unusual fondness for dirt", coming from the Greek "pedon" (ground) and "philia" (fondness). If The Register were an American publication I might believe that you wrote "pedophilia" while meaning "paedophilia", but surely a British publication would know the difference. Perhaps an apology to gardeners and other pedophiles around the world is in order for having so slandered them? Sigh.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

MS plans ‘Secure PC’ that won't copy pirated audio files

Microsoft's research division is busily inventing a mysterious beast called the Secure PC, which is designed to win hearts, minds and wallets in the recording industry by blocking unlicensed copying of digital music. We know that the Secure PC exists at least as a concept, because it's listed as a project of Microsoft research's cryptography group. Sadly, the crypto boffins haven't yet put up any kind of spec, or even a white paper, but there are a few pointers in the overview pieces Microsoft Research is currently running in an apparent bid to get the anti-piracy message across better. Paul England of the cryptography group apparently has the mission of persuading "content providers that the PC should be the platform of choice for buying, viewing and manipulating content from the Internet", which you might reckon sounds a bit more like sales than research, but we'll let that pass. "England has a bold plan to improve the PC and make it a secure delivery system for audio and video," says Microsoft. England's solution involves "making minor modifications to the PC's hardware to allow Microsoft to make a secure version of the Windows Media Player". So clearly, this is at least a part of the Secure PC. The particular minor modifications aren't specified, but the net effect is: "Essentially, this would turn the PC into a record player as far as music is concerned, while preserving the other open aspects of the computer. Record companies could release their records in an encrypted, unable to be copied Windows Media Audio format that would only work on the secure version of the Windows Media Player. A similar arrangement could be reached with the movie studios for film distribution." Other, related aspects of the Secure PC will likely include Secure Audio Path technology, which is intended to operate at OS level and keep the data encrypted right up until the point where the sound card is actually playing it, and the ability to control burning of WMP files onto CD via rights Manager. It's possible that the Secure PC is simply a bit of spin and/or minor mods on top of the Secure Audio Path plans (which themselves require Microsoft-approved signed drivers for audio cards), but it's probably sensible to stay paranoid about it at least until we get a spec. And until we're sure it's not going to have some kind of CPRM 2 scheme slid in among the minor modifications. From the point of view of many habitually non-paying users, the scheme might not seem to matter much. Use another player, use another OS, and despite the recording industry's best efforts it does seem likely that good old audio CD will be eminently and easily rippable for quite some time yet. But actually from Microsoft's point of view, this is quite useful. Back to Paul (Birmingham and Imperial College - one of ours, apparently - sorry people): "'We must convince the record industry that the PC is better than the compact disc in terms of piracy,' England says, pointing out that any 14-year-old can now buy a CD, copy it with a 'ripper' program and post it on the Web for all his friends to share." See the sense of that? Microsoft already has a ubiquitous client it can pitch to the music business, and if it can pitch it as secure, far more secure than audio CD. Windows and Windows Media Player file formats and technologies will become the obvious solution for the music and film businesses. The Microsoft solution also has advantages from their point of view in that it allows online licence management, pay to play systems and on-the-fly updating of "revocation lists". These update your client on compromised certificates. It's hardly Microsoft's fault if people pirate audio CDs, nor is it Microsoft's fault if other formats are used for unauthorised copying. "MP3 is less popular with record company executives, film producers, and other content providers," as Microsoft says. So Microsoft can be the squeaky-clean secure music delivery system that slowly convinces the record business it's better than audio CD, while the record industry carries on suing the crap out of everybody else. And getting the security progressively more into the OS and the hardware might have implications for the ongoing viability of other players, mightn't it? Got to be careful with that one, though... MS Research is also currently publicising another, mostly unrelated, operation; the anti-piracy activities of one ANalias. We'll draw a veil over most of the activities of this sad individual, who apparently hangs around warez areas gathering information in the arms race against copying. But it says here: "Microsoft protects its software from abuse by writing into the basic code protection mechanisms that, while the program is running, continually verify that it has not been tampered with." We're baffled by this, considering the amount of tampered with, but apparently viable, Microsoft software there is all over the Web. It continues: "The program may 'call' for the tamper protection mechanism every 40 clicks of the mouse, or every time a file is opened, and if the right response is not forthcoming, the program shuts down. The 'call' is usually encrypted so that it cannot be detected or intercepted." Any information on where this appears already, or where it's going to appear, would be appreciated. ® Related Stories Welcome to .NET - how MS plans to dominate digital music sales CPRM on ATA - Full Coverage Microsoft Research Links Protecting music via the Secure PC ANalias covers the waterfront
John Lettice, 23 Mar 2001

Sharp to beat Palm with Linux, Java – official

Sharp officially launched today its attempt to knock Palm off the top spot in the PDA market and regain its former glory as a leading maker of handheld devices. While Sharp's marketshare has been all but obliterated in the US and Europe, it remains the leading PDA maker in Japan. However, its standing is being rapidly eroded by Palm and its licensees, and all the PocketPC vendors, including arch-rival Casio. Enough is enough, the company reckons, but how to win back its supporters? With PocketPC and PalmOS both rejected - not enough differentiation from rival offerings; too high licence fees - the answer is clear: a mix of its own Zaurus operating system, still fairly popular on Sharp's home turf, and Linux for overseas markets. Java will cement the two, courtesy of British embedded OS developer Tao, which has licensed its Intent Java Technology Edition to Sharp. Intent JTE is a fast, compact hybrid virtual machine/just-in-time compiler optimised for embedded systems. It's also highly portable, reckons Tao, which is why Sharp can get it running quickly on both the Zaurus OS and, later, Linux. Java provides Sharp with a consistent API for application developers to write to both versions of the new Zaurus PDA. The Linux version will itself form the basis of three different models: a wireless PDA-cum-phone for the European GSM market, and a Palm-style PC accessory and a Sony Clié-style multimedia handheld, both for the US. Incidentally, Tao's Intent platform also comprises a compact, high performance (according to Tao) multimedia library. Again, it's highly portable, and already runs on Linux. Sharp didn't say so, but the Intent Media Libraries have to be a strong contender as the basis for its multimedia PDA. Java is important to Sharp because it reckons the basis for Palm's success has been the availability of third-party applications to "make their products more user-friendly", said Yoichi Sakai, general manager of Sharp's telecoms systems group. "We would like to adopt that strategy as well... We hope that Java will be a catalyst for our Zaurus global expansion." Ultimately, Sharp will roll-out Java across all its communications products, from phones to fax machines to PCs, using it to provide a consistent user interface to all of them. That sounds a bit pie in the sky to us, and indeed, Sharp won't say when all this will happen. As far as the Zaurus plan goes, its Java implementation, will ship for Zaurus OS PDAs on 4 April. The Linux machines, also going out under the Zaurus brand, will ship next October, according to comments made by Hiroshi Uno, the head of Sharp's mobile systems division, earlier this month. Uno reckons Java support will allow Sharp to boast over 10,000 applications for its PDA by this time next year, thanks to the 2.5 million Java developers out there. A tad optimistic, we think, and in any case they're more likely to come from all those Linux coders chafing at the bit to get X running on the handheld. No doubt he hopes that many of them will contribute to the one million unit sales Sharp hopes to achieve by the end of March 2002. ® Related Stories Linux to push Palm off PDA pole position - Sharp Sharp tools up with Linux to fight Palm
Tony Smith, 23 Mar 2001

Mir debris fished from ocean

Salvage hunters have managed to fish some sizeable chunks of wreckage from the Russian space station, Mir, out of the Pacific after it crashed to Earth last night. Luckily, a quick gander at eBay suggests that quite a lot of the doomed spacecraft survived re-entry and is currently up for auction. According to Michael Connery, who pulled a charred mangle of stuff from the ocean: "The wreckage is carbon-black, approximately 3 meters long, round in shape with some jagged edges at either end. Inside are some structural supports with some wiring that apparently survived re-entry. It looks extremely burnt and damaged, but who cares! it's an actual piece of MIR!" Another posting complete with a picture reads: "This appears to be a chunk of steel or metal off the Soyuz-TM supply ship of the MIR Space Station. THis is authentic MIR remains. I was in the South Pacific Sea on a fishing charter last night when the MIR Space Station came down. Bid quickly and carefully... this item will not last!! Buyer pays all shipping costs!" Another item from the same source claims to have the "clamp off the Priroda wing of the Russian MIR Space Station." And then there's this lot which has so far received a bid for $2.75 for what is described as "an actual piece of the Mir Space Station". "It crashed and i fished it out of the ocean," says igor79. "I don't know what it is, but its definatly part of the Mir. I am sure its worth thousands of dollars, but you can by it now for a MIR 15 hundred! HA HA! MIR! By the way, this is all a lie, it is actually duct tape and wire." Well... it is Friday after all. ® Related Links An actual recovered piece of MIR!! MIR Space Station Remains #2 MIR Space Station Remains Actual Piece of the Mir Space Station Related Story Protect yourself from Mir fall-out
Tim Richardson, 23 Mar 2001

Readers' Letters Paedo probe polemic

Interview with a Net pedophile Carnivore and Net censorship will save the children Our Special Correspondent's dip into the net paedophile cess-pit certainly got Reg readers talking. Aaron Collins thought it was: ... excellent, it's about time someone looked into this subject with a sense of objectivity. It pisses me off that the internet, the single greatest source of information ever concieved, gets dragged through the dirt because of a very, very, VERY small minority of evil pedos. I've been surfing for about 5 years now and have never come across bonafide child porn of any kind. I'm sure its out there for those sick enough to want it, but not in www sites, only in chat and newsgroups I suspect. For the average surfer it's nowhere to be seen. And thank God for that. Agreed. Now an anonymous reader wants us to know that it's: About time someone did some REAL investigating before writing an article. KUDOS to the unnamed person(s), and to the editor for keeping their names unknown from the mass of people that are unable to read responsibly. Keep up the good work! From, An American that wishes his own country could write as well as yours! Is our coverage really top investigative journalism? Not according to Marty Zaluski: Surely, you'd give the investigative reporters from Watergate a run for their money, hehe. You've GOT to have better things to do than solicit pedophiles on #IRC. Your rag is awesome, but this is article is CRAAAAAP!!!! Catch up with the rest of the debate here. Best of the rest Magee set straight on Rambus ruling Where's your editor - on vacation? First University College of Kingston Oh no... get the printers on the phone sharpish Who's afraid of the CoS? Register bottles it completely How not to get your mobe nicked Or your faced punched in
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

ZDNet Reg emulator triumph

There have been rumours circulating for some time around the Vulture central offices that ZDNet was developing a Register subbing emulator programme. The idea behind this hush-hush project was to accurately recreate the levels of spelling and sub-editing for which your runaway Reg is rightly famous. The above screenshot demonstrates that their boffins have succeeded. Dark times lay ahead... ® Bootnote As soon as the cat was out of the bag ZDNet reverted to the unemulated version. Check out ZDNet English in all its subbed glory here.
Lester Haines, 23 Mar 2001

Lastminute sells tickets to fake Stars in their Eyes party

When two young ladies bought tickets for an event advertised on Lastminute.com as a Stars in their Eyes party, featuring "pure glamour, riotous fun and loads of A-list celebrities", they got less than they bargained for. Tickets for the party - hosted at "fashionable" K bar on Wardour St in Soho - cost £20 and all the proceeds went to Cancer Research, said the ad. They called Lastminute and secured their place on the "VIP guest list". However, when they turned up at the do, all glammed-up and ready to mix with the beautiful and famous, things turned sour. Sure enough, they were on the guest list, along with their addresses and email addresses, but rather than a Stars in their Eyes extravaganza and top celebrities, they were confronted with a karaoke machine and a bunch of drunk students. It soon transpired that the majority of people there hadn't paid a red cent to get in and they all seemed to know one another. "We initially thought we might have wandered into a Lastminute club or something," one of the girls told The Register. But no. It soon became apparent that the event was to celebrate Rebecca's birthday. Rebecca, claimed the compere when confronted by the two girls, worked for a fundraising company and all the money would go to the Cancer Research. However, after her stint on the karaoke ("she sounded like a cat being strangled"), a tired and emotional Rebecca dismissed her assumed employee status abruptly. Having paid £20 for a very different occasion, the two girls naturally felt a little cheated and called Lastminute to complain. After several calls and a threat or two, Lastminute promised it would look into the matter and offered to refund the £20 charged. While our protagonists can see the funny side, there are nevertheless some serious issues here. The students, by trying to subsidise the cost of the venue, have committed serious fraud and the claim that the money was to go to charity will be heavily frowned upon by the law. Lastminute, by falsely advertising the event, is also liable. Although by offering to pay back the money it has at least shown willing to address the problem. Dai Davis, a consultant lawyer at Nabarro & Nathanson, said: "So long as you believe you are buying from Lastminute, you have a contract with them and they are liable." Since the two girls phoned a Lastminute phone line and handed over credit card details, this is the case. However, Dai goes on to say: "But if they give the money back, what has been lost?" We are still awaiting a response from Lastminute. Just goes to show you kids, you can't trust no one no more. Mind you, wanting to go to a Stars in their Eyes party... ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

Oracle execs telling porky pies?

Oracle faces a lawsuit by a group of shareholders accusing execs of lying about the company's financials. The class-action lawsuit has been filed by New York lawyers Schoengold & Sporn in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It affects investors who bought Oracle stock between December 15 2000 and March 1 2001. The suit alleges that Oracle big cheeses violated federal securities laws, including "omitting material information and disseminating materially false and misleading statements" in company announcements and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. A representative of Schoengold & Sporn today declined to reveal the amount of damages the lawyers want to squeeze out of Oracle, or how many shareholders the suit is representing. Anyone who bought shares in the allotted time can add their name to the case against the US software giant within 60 days of March 9. This is not the first suit filed against Oracle this month on behalf of unhappy shareholders. San Diego lawyers Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach have also filed a suit in US District Court in San Francisco against the company and its CEO Larry Ellison. It accuses Ellison of insider trading, with claims that the company exaggerated sales expectations and the promise of its 11i software suite. ® Related Stories Oracle's Ellison sued for insider trading Oracle hurt by IT spending cuts Oracle trims workforce
Linda Harrison, 23 Mar 2001

IBM Sequent sequel is NotFinity

IBM gave both ends of its Intel server line a brush and dust-up today. The premium ccNUMA box that Big Blue acquired from Sequent a couple of years ago is these days given the same branding as the higher-end of the much lower-end PC server range: eServer xSeries. Even though there can be upwards of $500,000 price difference between the two. Big Blue introduced a partitioned x430 ccNUMA box that runs Sequent's old Dynix/ptx Unix, Linux, Windows 2000 and S/390 apps, and this ships in configurations ranging from four to 64 900MHz Pentium III Xeon CPUs in stand alone mode, or in clusters of 64 to 256 CPUs. Bringing up the rear are three low-end models, the four-way x250 and x350, and eight-way x370 CPUs. These, ah, don't run S/390 applications. So to sum up: three of the four new servers aren't Sequent NUMA boxes at all, but are really high-end NetFinity kit, although they're also under the same xSeries brand. And NetFinity isn't mentioned at all - that's a separate brand. So the tree dwarves here are kind of a NotFinity brandlet of their own. And IBM wonders why Sun has nicked the top server spot... We trust that this makes IBM server branding crystal clear. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2001

One2One doubles price of pay-as-you-go phones

One2One has announced it will nearly double the price of its pay-as-you-go mobiles from £40 to £70 in May. The company said it wanted to cut down on "unsustainable" subsidies on pay-go phones and move more customers onto a contract instead. One2One is owned by Deutsche Telekom, which, along with the other two main European telecoms France and British Telecom, is suffering heavily from a huge debt burden at the moment. Contracts not only make mobile companies more money but also increase "loyalty" - by which we mean people can't be bothered to get a new contract. A One2One spokesman said, however: "The market is becoming more about retention of customers. That's why we trying to persuade customers to migrate to our contract offerings." One2One wants to increase the number of its customers from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. The question is: what affect will this have on the rest of the pay-as-you-go market. One2One is the first to admit that its offerings were already the most expensive on the market, but there is no question that these phones are heavily subsidised and taking some of the competitive pressure off the market may see prices creep up. Its spokesman said he "wouldn't be surprised" if its competitors did so. "This is something we generally see happening." An Orange spokesman said that the company was "considering options" and was "reviewing" the situation. Note that it did not rule out price rises though. We are still waiting for a comment from Vodafone. The pay-as-you-go phones are particularly popular with teenagers and with their parents as it removes the threat of them running up huge bills. Mobile companies love them too as they see them as getting customers young and nurturing them into loyal brand-lovers. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

Macromedia completes Allaire merger

Macromedia and Allaire have completed their merger and announced their love-in with an extremely brief press release and a cheesy interview with the heads of each company. The official release, on Macromedia's site, says little. Merger with Allaire - leading provider of software - completed. The deal will bring "together market-leading server, development and playback software to make building professional Web sites more efficient, affordable, and accessible" etc etc. This is apparently all summed up in the magic words: "what the web can be". Allaire is a little more excited: "We are very excited to announce that the merger transaction between Macromedia and Allaire has closed...Throughout the coming months, we will be working on the integration of the operations." And so on and so forth. They don't seem too keen - or plain just don't know - on explaining what they're going to do now they're bed-buddies. Fortunately there is an interview with Kevin Lynch of Macromedia and Jeremy Allaire of Allaire (he will become Macromedia's CTO). Will this shed any light? Well, dig through the vomit-inducing ego-stroking as you'll find this: "In the long term, we plan to deliver a new generation of application framework technology that leverages our server platform, Macromedia and Allaire visual tools, and the ubiquitous Macromedia Flash player." Warmer. Lynch: "I believe this is really about the marriage of these two user communities, bringing the developers and designers together so they can more easily build the Web sites of tomorrow." Colder. Lynch: "We also see the nature of the Internet changing as users access Web content and applications through a range of devices. This will pose many challenges for developers and designers, and we want to help them be successful in delivering really great user experiences across all these devices in a very efficient way." Is that clear then? No? Well that's all you're gonna get. Related link That sickening interview
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

Motorola chops jobs in wireless unit

Motorola plans to cut another 4,000 jobs, this time from one of its younger divisions. Staff are to be given the boot in the company's Networks Sector, its three-month-old wireless and broadband division, according to a statement issued this morning. The division employs around 140,000 people worldwide. The job losses, part of Motorola's ongoing cost-cutting spree, affect around three per cent of its total workforce. They bring total staff cuts since December to 22,000 - earlier this month it chopped around 7,000 jobs from its mobile phone division. It expects to record a charge in the first and second quarter to cover the move. "Motorola is making tough but deliberate and strategic business decisions in order to remain competitive in the slowing economy," said Motorola Networks Sector president Edward D Breen. "Unfortunately, reductions have been necessary for us to improve financial performance, and this is something that we will have to continually evaluate as we monitor market and economic conditions." ® Related Stories Motorola to slash 7,000 jobs Motorola issues profit warning Motorola shaves 4,000 chip jobs
Linda Harrison, 23 Mar 2001

Student uses Web to score free world tour

A Dutch student has come up with a novel way of touring the world for next to no money - he's set up a Web site called Letmestayforaday.com where he asks people to put him up for a night while travelling about. Ramon Stoppelenburg put his site up just over a week ago but has already had nearly 1000 invites and has accepted around 600 of them. A good percentage come from the US but the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Canada also feature heavily. Ramon plans to hitch-hike around the world, picking up the offers and writing up his journey en route. Quite why hundreds of people want to have a sweaty student stay at their house, God only knows. Also has Ramon considered the fact that more than a few of them might be very lonely people, frustrated housewives with psychotic husbands or just nutters? And how many bleedin students will follow Ramon's example and thrust themselves onto poor, unsuspecting souls? But enough of this cynicism - it's a beautiful thing. And just what the Web is best at. We do reckon Ramon is pushing a bit far though by asking for Web site sponsorship, a free mobile and airline flights on the back of the publicity which we among others have just given him. Bloomin scroungers, all of em. Go get yourself a proper job and be miserable and parochial like the rest of us. [I bet he's got an acoustic guitar as well. Best not mention the Reg office sofa bed - Ed] ® Related link Let me stay for a day.com
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Mar 2001

US scientist fired for posting Alaska wildlife maps

The US Geological Survey scientist who says he was fired for posting politically sensitive maps illustrating the biodiversity of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the web has reposted the contentious material. "I had bad timing!" Ian Thomas, who worked at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, part of the Biological Resources division of the USGS told The Register. He says the maps in question contained already publicly available information - as had the 20,000 or so other maps he'd published on the web, including maps of every refuge in the lower 48 states. "The USGS were briefing Gail Norton on new data, data that isn't public," claims the British-born Thomas. "When all of a sudden someone puts out these pretty pictures - right in the middle of a presentation." President George W Bush wasted little time in talking up the need for cheaper energy after he got elected, for which he favours drilling in the Arctic reserve, which until now has been off-limits to Bozo's Big Oil Texan backers. Meanwhile, Thomas says he was dismissed without explanation. The USGS has subsequently told reporters that standard review procedure 'was not followed'. That's an explanation Thomas finds hard to believe. "They could have told me to take the maps off the Internet. It wasn't like I was going to go out of my way to lose my job," he told us. He admits that his initial contract was for work on migratory birds, but subsequent work had been approved. As a contractor he adds, he isn't in a position to sue for unfair dismissal. "I guess there's no way I'm going to get my job back now," he says. "but I hope that people become aware of the political pressure that scientists are under." It's a dangerous place, the Internet.® Related Links Ian Thomas' Maptricks web page Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Kuro5hin discussion on the subject Newsday on Ian Thomas
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Mar 2001

Not-delay of WinXP Beta 2 extends till Sunday

The great Windows XP Beta 2 rollout won't happen until Sunday, according to Register sources which we believe are close to the centre of the sausage factory. They certainly make more sense than the weird and contradictory stuff that's been coming out of official and semi-official channels. There were, we are told, several last minute show-stoppers that derailed the Beta 2 rollout on Wednesday. As far as we can make out, they haven't uncovered whatever it's going to be that stops it going live tonight yet (as Brian Livingstone told ZD, it's Friday unless there's a show-stopper), but our sources say it's defintely not tonight. And we note some weird semi-official stuff that appears to indicate that it'll kind of be finished tonight, but that for some unfathomable reason it will take time to be made available to the testers. Who'll get it by about Sunday. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive. How much simpler life would have been if Microsoft hadn't dropped hints with "21st" in them, and if Brian hadn't fielded that by saying "Friday." * Anyway, what we hear is that the last minute problems fell into two categories - security issues, and "a problem around wireless cards on certain laptops." A total of five bugs fell into Wednesday's show-stopper category. But they're fixed now, and in the process of being signed off. We could maybe speculate that, given Bill's going to be opening WinHEC in a couple of days, the wireless issue might have been pertinent. The weird build number 2462a was simply an internal interim produced in the Redmond Burn Lab, and it's unlikely it'll escape, or indeed that anybody would want it by the time it did. What they do want is Beta 2. A noted Netherlands FTP site has already placed a price on its head - full life privileges and access all areas for the first genuine leak of Beta 2. Don't ask. We're not telling you, and if you can't find it yourself you're not hard enough. * The Register's Hazardous Waste Squad will be checking in first thing tomorrow, GMT, prepared to dig a big hole and bury all of this with due humility if some satirist in Redmond does push the button at midnight, Pacific Time. ® Related story: WinXP Beta 2 in not delayed again drama
John Lettice, 23 Mar 2001

Weak phone, consumer markets slash chip sales hopes

British research group the Federation of the Electronics Industry (FEI) has halved its prediction for chip sales growth this year. The FEI now reckons the UK and Ireland in 2001 will see six per cent growth, down from the 14 per cent forecast in its Semiconductor Annual Review. Malcolm House, economist and statistician at the FEI, told The Electronic Times that sales were expected to reach £6.8 billion, compared to the previous forecast of £7.3 billion. The group has also cut its predictions for 2002 - it now expects sales growth of eight per cent for the year, compared with the previous 11 per cent prediction. Sales are forecast at £7.3 billion. For 2003, chip sales are expected to rise eight per cent to £7.9 billion. The reduced figures are due to companies cutting back operations in their consumer businesses in the UK, and also to demand for mobile phones slowing. "This year everyone has pulled back a long way," said House. ® Related Link Electronics Times article Related Stories Toshiba cuts forecasts for 2002 VIA sales up in February
Linda Harrison, 23 Mar 2001