30th > May > 2001 Archive

Borland sweetens Kylix discount with new offer

Borland today sweetened a huge price cut in Kylix, its Delphi development environment for Linux by giving away a server edition away free to anyone who's narrowly missed out on the offer. The Desktop Edition previously listed at $999 will be priced at $199 until August 23. The dramatic price cut has brought unconfined joy to many Delphi veterans, but not all. Developers who'd invested a grand a pop for the per-seat developer license in recent days were livid. Some were muttering darkly about sending the recently purchased $999 version back to Borland, and buying the discounted $199 version instead. And even Borland's developer relations boss, John Kaster, seemed to agree that they had a point:- "It sucks," he wrote in a message to the Kylix Usenet group. "I feel we should have simply refunded the difference, and I said so." But Borland's VP of US channel sales Martin Leahy told us that customers who'd narrowly missed out on the Desktop discount would now get a Server edition, worth $1999, for free. Leahy added that the $199 figure was deemed most likely to stimulate demand for the product. Borland had examined a price of $399, but that was no good to anyone, he told us. Kylix takes Linux deep into traditional Windows territory as a client/server developer platform, where Borland's own Delphi has slugged it out with Microsoft's Visual Basic for much of the last decade in some bitter and occasionally litigious combat. ® Related Link Borland Developer Site Related Stories Kylix throws free goodies back into Linuxland Borland preps Delphi Linux for December preview Microsoft describes its Java killer
Andrew Orlowski, 30 May 2001

Microsoft torches RMS, RMS torches Caldera

Microsoft's cancelbots were racing after Richard Stallman even before he took the stage in New York this morning to defend free software's cornerstone, the General Public License. The Free Software Foundation had a new GPL FAQ to promote, but journalists attending the event - and many who weren't - were primed with questions from the Beast with which to embarrass St Ignucius. These, it turns out, are at least as newsworthy as what RMS had to say, as they shed a little more light on Microsoft's tactics in discrediting the GPL. Mundie has so far only pitched it in the vaguest, 'bad for business' terms. RMS offered a template defence of free software (and not open source, which has nothing to do with the FSF, he insists), and pricked up a few ears by describing Caldera as 'parasites'. But not ours, as we could see this coming for a while, and sounds like the standard denunciation to us. So Microsoft's pre-buttal goes something like this:- Proportionality: If a proprietary program uses a GPL library (as described in the GNU FAQ #29) or combines with a GPL plug-in or module (as described in the GNU FAQ #31 and #37), the combined program is subject to the GPL. In this case, a proprietary program of 1,000,000 lines of code that uses a small GPL library or links to a GPL plug-in as described above, will then be subject to the GPL and its terms. This is not a proportional relationship. Conflict with profit-making business models: Companies that have made significant investments in building proprietary value in their code are in an untenable competitive position if they include GPL technology in their solution. The situation can be made significantly worse if the principals of a company are unaware of the inclusion of GPL code in their product due to the actions of their developers or of individuals who have licensed the source code of their technology. 2. Uncertainty about interacting with GPL code. How does a firm know with certainty whether its developers' interaction with GPL code subjects the firm's proprietary code to the GPL? [Presumably by reading the license - ed.] The new "GNU General Public License FAQ" addresses a number of complex scenarios involving the combination of proprietary software with programs, modules, or libraries covered by the GPL or the LGPL. The license is vague about these complex scenarios, and the FAQ uses ambiguous language in describing them - for example: #33: "If the program dynamically links plug-ins, but the communication between them is limited to invoking the 'main' function of the plug-in with some options and waiting for it to return, that is a borderline case." #37: "If modules are designed to run linked together in a shared address space, that almost surely means combining them into one program. By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs. But if the semantics of the communication are intimate enough, exchanging complex internal data structures, that too could be a basis to consider the two parts as combined into a larger program." #47: "However, in many cases you can distribute the GPL-covered software alongside your proprietary system. To do this validly, you must make sure that the free and non-free programs communicate at arms length, that that they are not combined in a way that would make them effectively a single program." A third set of seven questions follows, dealing with conflict resolution for anxious developers who may have used GPL code, and become alarmed which we can summarise as "Who do you call?" Actually, given the way the community works, it's likely to be the other way round - GPL developers would soon enough be on the blower to a company that they suspected might be breaking the GPL. That's generally how things work around here. Microsoft is right in pointing out that the GPL is designed to discourage proprietary software - but that's the point of the license: much like the scriptures are there to discourage godlessness. It's not binding for non-believers, being much more of a social contract than a legal contract (despite the para-legal language). They can go and use another open source license which doesn't conform to the FSF's idea of free, and that's where the open source rebranding project takes off. For its part, the FSF is clear enough about what it doesn't like here, and who falls into those categories. We haven't heard any rebuttals to Microsoft's pre-buttal yet, but that's probably because - and Leonard Richardson put it best at the satire site Segfault in this skit - everyone's already rebuttalled out. ® Related Link The FSF's new GPL FAQ Related Stories No code or body fluids exchanged in MS Lavender Wedding Microsoft co-opts Caldera, Torvalds in Shared Source offensive Mundie retrofits Net visionary tag to Chairman Gates Show us the source, then Mr Mundie - developers MS to tout 'shared source philosophy', compare GNU to bubble economy
Andrew Orlowski, 30 May 2001

Europe catching US economy's cold, says Sun

Sun reported lower than expected demand for Sun's new UltraSPARC III systems in its mid-quarter update yesterday, pushing revenue estimates slightly down into the $3.8 billion to $4.0 billion range for the quarter. It's the third time Sun has issued downwards revisions to its estimates. CFO Mike Lehman said the US market has stabilised, but the company is experiencing lower than expected demand in Europe. Weaker demand for internet infrastructure companies was knocking into other areas, specifically Sun's financial customers, he said. Some component supply concerns remain; although CFO Mike Lehman ackowledged: "we don't have all the chips we'd like," this should be resolved by the end of the quarter. Lehman was confident that an UltraSPARC III box will ship within six months. The inventory backlog may be slightly up, but is not dramatically different. Analysts were looking for Sun to clear out supplies of older UltraSPARC II based machines. Lehman wouldn't elaborate on questions about competition from Fujitsu Siemens, which sells Sparc-compatible kit in Europe. The latter claims to have sold over 4,000 Solaris boxes. ® Related Story America sneezes, Sun catches cold
Andrew Orlowski, 30 May 2001

Apple refutes colour iBook claims

Apple has denied claims made by Taiwanese notebook maker AlphaTop that it is working on new, colour iBooks equipped with wider displays. AlphaTop said that's what Apple was up to last week when it reported to local press that it had won a significant contract to supply Apple with notebooks. AlphaTop is one of a handful of Taiwanese PC makers who build around 90 per cent of the world's notebooks - including machines 'made' by big-name PC companies like Apple, IBM and Compaq. Apple's denial is interesting, given the company's general reluctance to comment on rumours and speculation. Its vigorous denial suggests that the AlphaTop representative who made the claim was mistaken. And Apple is clearly concerned that AlphaTop's comments may impact iBook sales. It certainly struck us that new iBooks coming so soon after the machine's launch seemed unlikely. Ditto the claim that they will have wider screens, since the iBook simply hasn't got the space in its current shell for one. If the AlphaTop representative is correct, he's likely to be discussing an upcoming revision of the PowerBook G4, which is rumoured to be being upgraded this summer with a range of coloured metal cases. But that doesn't explain the wider screens. Another option is the rumoured LCD iMac, which could sport multiple colours and a wider screen. Thanks to Apple's uniform motherboard architecture, an LCD iMac would essentially be an iBook in a different, desktop-oriented case, so using a notebook specialist like AlphaTop to build it isn't so surprising. ® Related Story Apple to add more colours, bigger screen to iBook
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

VIA unveils 750MHz C3 processor

VIA yesterday released its latest C3 processor. The new part runs at 750MHz, and offers the standard C3 features: 0.15 micron fabrication, 128KB L1 cache, 64KB on-die L2 cache, support for 100MHz and 133MHz frontside bus speeds, and compatibility with Intel's MMX instructions and AMD's 3DNow! technology. The 750MHz C3 costs $49 in batches of 1000, 30 per cent less that Intel's $70 700MHz Celeron and a mere two per cent below AMD's $50 700MHz Duron. That, say Taiwanese analysts cited by EBN, isn't enough. They reckon VIA needs to come in much lower if it wants to win six per cent of the world CPU market, its stated goal. ® Related Stories VIA unveils latest C3, announces design wins VIA C3 roadmap extended to 1.2GHz+
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

IR35 becomes a political hot potato

Having exhausted all other opportunities and still seeing Labour maintain its lead in the polls, the Conservatives and LibDems have started making noises about IR35. The Tories have said for a while that they will "revisit" the legislation that causes large numbers of IT consultants to pay an extra lump of tax because they are labelled as employees. This, rather than being a standpoint, is purely logical seeing as a High Court judge recently condemned the implementation of the tax law. The LibDems are equally floppy. Labour risks "stifling enterprise" said a spokesman. But nothing harsher than that. And so Labour has simply made vague promises that it will ensure IR35 works properly and without undue hassle. Where can you go with that? That said, textiles e-minister Patricia Hewitt recently told Silicon.com that "the original proposals on IR35 were much too cumbersome and would have put too much burden on employers as well as contractors". It's an admittance that the legislation was poor, but then hardly exciting following the judge's summary. What would be interesting is a turnaround by the government and/or Inland Revenue, or perhaps making an apology because it had stubbornly refused to listen to people's concerns. Flying pigs would certainly liven up the election campaign. ® Related Stories Portillo pledges Tories will repeal IR35 Judge slams Govt IR35 test
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

ATI confirms Radeon 2 to ship late summer

ATI has confirmed a "late summer" as the release date for its upcoming R200 chip - likely to be called the Radeon 2. The admission was made during an announcement that the graphics chip maker expects to sign between 13 and 18 contracts with PC makers to pre-install its chips in desktop and notebook machines. This OEM market has long been an ATI stronghold, though over the last year or so, Nvidia has made some very aggressive moves to win over PC makers to its graphics chips. By the end of 2000, Nvidia had grown its share of the desktop PC graphics processor market from 18 per cent in Q4 1999 to 48 per cent. By contrast, ATI's share fell from 35 per cent to 34 per cent over the same period, according to Jon Peddie Associates figures. ATI still rules the notebook market. Nvidia's marketshare has largely grown at the expense of the likes of 3dfx, Matrox and S3, but its 2001 design wins will have primarily taken sales away from ATI. It's no wonder the company is basing its recovery on sales to OEMs. The 18-odd potential design wins cover ATI's existing product line, not Radeon 2. The R200 is believed to be sampling very soon - possibly already, given ATI's launch yesterday of its Truform technology - and, according to the latest leaks, will go into mass production in September. That certainly ties in very nicely with the "late summer" ship date a company spokesman mentioned yesterday. ® Related Stories ATI talks up Truform, next-gen rendering tech ATI Radeon 2, 3 details leak
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

Avnet's Euro VP gets a leg up

Avnet Applied Computing has boosted Rien Boot to the position of VP, global operations. Boot was previously VP of European operations. He will report to Ed Kamins, president of Avnet Applied Computing. Boot joined Avnet Applied Computing from Raab Karcher Electronics (RKE). Prior to joining the Raab Karcher group, he was general manager for Computervision's European operation and VP of European operations for Seiko in the Netherlands. ® The Register has a new reseller section. It's called Channel Flannel, and you can reach it from the navigation bar on the front page.
Robert Blincoe, 30 May 2001

Next gen colour displays comin' at ya

Toshiba has developed the world's first full colour polymer OLED (organic light emitting display). The prototype is a 2.85-inch display supporting 260,000 colours and a 64-level (6-bit) gray scale. Tosh expects its OLEDs to go commercial in April 2002. There are colour OLEDs about - mono-colour or area-colour - but Tosh says these "require vacuum-evaporation technology in the production process, which is unsuitable for the fabrication of large-sized, high-resolution displays on a large mother glass substrate, as required in the TFT production process." You can read more about that here but the vacuum process is not efficient for mass production, according to Toshiba. Toshiba's OLEDs will initially target cellular phones and small- and medium-sized PDAs, and then medium- and large-sized displays, including high-end portable PCs that requires higher resolution and a gradation surpassing a 64-gray scale. If you want to check out Toshiba's OLED, visit the Society for Information Display (SID) 2001 at San Jose, California, from June 5 to 7, 2001. ® Related Link Toshiba's OLED release
Robert Blincoe, 30 May 2001

VIA Socket 370 chipsets to support Intel Tualatin

VIA today confirmed its support for Intel's 0.13 micron die-shrink Pentium III - aka Tualatin - across its Socket 370 chipset family. The Apollo Pro266T, the Apollo Pro133T, the Apollo PL133T and the Apollo PLE133T are all ready to go onto Tualatin-targeted mobos, the company said. The chipsets allow Tualatin - which is expected to begin shipping in June at 1.26GHz, 1.13GHz and 1.06GHz - to be used in single and dual-CPU DDR SDRAM-based systems, mainstream PC-133 PCs and budget machines. VIA's chipset rival, Acer Labs, yesterday introduced its integrated Tualatin chipset, aimed at the notebook market. The part, the CyberAladdinT, integrates graphics acceleration technology from Trident. From what we've heard, Intel will release the 1.26GHz and 1.13GHz Tualatins next month at $321 and $294, respectively, before knocking the price down to $294 and $268 on 15 July. 1.13GHz and 1.06GHz Mobile Tualatins will ship at $637 and $508, respectively. ® Related Stories Acer, Trident intro mobile Tualatin chipset Intel Tualatin to replace Coppermine, fast Intel 0.13 micron Tualatin Pentium IIIs to ship late June
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

I've got the first 3G network. No, I have! No, I have!

The mobile industry is continuing its Monte Carlo or bust race to get the first 3G network up and running and now we have two companies claiming they have won. Following its delayed roll-out in Japan (and BT's delayed roll-out on the Isle of Man), NTT DoCoMo now reckons it has in fact launched the world's first 3G network. Hurrah! But hang on, here comes the South Koreans. We have built the first 3G network in the world, they cry. And so we're top dog. So who's telling the truth? Well, both and neither are. The South Koreans have a decent network running and claim huge subscriber figures. Except, while they are offering an average of 30Kbps, this is nowhere near what most people mean by 3G. A 3G network should really be belting out 2Mbps. The thing is, it's running on IS95 - a CDMA extension - which is more two-and-a-bit G than 3G. Europe is planning to run its 3G services on top of UMTS. That said, at least it works, which is more than can be said... No, no, no, we have 3G says DoCoMo. Well, for 3,300 people anyway. It's only a trial service and so we discount it as a fully fledged network. That hasn't stopped the company advertising the launch all over Japan. It is certain to be ludicrously over-subscribed. The lucky 3,000 will be based in Tokyo. The company said this month that the main reason for the delay was the lack of handsets available. It hasn't overcome this yet and the trial users are to have upgraded i-Mode phones. So who's won the 3G race? No one yet. ® Related Story How much will 3G cost?
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

Gameplay puts the For Sale sign out again as losses soar

Gameplay said today it was up for sale again after admitting it did not have enough cash to see it through to profitability. The London-based video-game seller issued the statement along with its results for the six months ended January 31 2001. Losses grew to £54.4 million for the period, compared to £10.4 million the previous year. Sales increased almost eightfold to £44.5 million. Gameplay said the sale of assets (including its UK boxed games business for £1) and the "current fragile investment climate" had left the company with cash for the immediate future, but not enough to take it into the black. "Whilst the Board is examining the feasibility of continuing to operate as an independent entity, in the light of its cash constraints and market conditions, the board is also in discussions with third parties which may, or may not, result in the disposal of all or part of the remaining technology businesses, or alternatively the company itself, or both," it said. Gameplay's shares slumped 40 per cent to 4.5 pence on the back of the announcement. At their height they were priced at around £10.80. ® Related Link Gameplay statement Related Stories Gameplay: What they got for their £1 Gamplay division sold for £1 44 Gameplay staff face the axe Gameplay up for sale
Linda Harrison, 30 May 2001

MPs forced to shut down their Web sites

UpdatedUpdated Several MPs, including Mad Annie Widdecombe and Gavin Strang, have had to shut down their Web sites for breaking electoral rules. It stems from their sites' URLs. Each ends with the suffix "MP". But, seeing as Parliament has been dissolved, that is not true. And they won't be MPs until they are re-elected. Hence, visit Annewiddecombemp.com or Gavinstrangmp.com and you'll find... nothing. They were originally warned a few days ago and replaced their pages with a simple picture and message. Today, however, they have simply been pulled off the Net. The sad thing is that the sites will probably pop up again in eight days when they get enough votes to annoy us for another four years. Oh well, enjoy it while you can. Update Actually, Gavin Strang's Web site is a co.uk and not a .com as we said above (the .com's still available). He has got a message on it explaining why he can't run the site and a redirect to another site. However, perhaps someone should inform the Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire, James Paice. Jim still has his Web site up and running and as such is breaking the electoral rules. Tut tut. If you find anymore, please email them over and we'll compile a list of shame. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

Nintendo won't do Net games, says president

Nintendo's GameCube was well received at E3 t'other week, attracting many passing eyes. A lucky thing, really, because if it had not, company president Hiroshi Yamauchi was threatening to shut it down indefinitely, according to one of his characteristically understated E3 interviews. Not content with that, he's back again, with a revealing exchange of words with a Japanese newspaper, translated in C&VG. The first thing he said, of course, was that "naturally we'll go ahead with sales as planned". Thanks, Yam. The next question levelled at Yamauchi concerned the Xbox, and he was anxious to stress the difference between the two consoles. "Xbox has a built-in hard drive and is being touted as an extension of a PC. Microsoft is going after performance only, and does not understand that the game is played with software." At this point, he confirms what a lot of life long Nintendo fans have been chanting like a mantra for several months now. "A Nintendo is ultimately a toy. It is the most advanced machine for playing games, and it is totally different from the Microsoft product. It is just like trying to compare a sumo wrestler and pro wrestler; they play by totally different rules. We do not consider Microsoft to be our competitor." We'd love to stop ripping quotes out of the interview, but almost everything Yamauchi says hits home in some way. For instance, after damning the price tag of the Xbox for a while, the interviewer changes tack and asks about online gaming. "The Internet games available today are for hard-core gamers. I don't believe the general public is going to be very interested in them. And I doubt that Net games will turn out to be profitable," Yamauchi uttered, resolutely. "Unless the business proves profitable, Nintendo will not be involved in Internet games." At this point, we ought to discuss the presence of Phantasy Star Online Version 2 on the Nintendo games roster for GC. According to sources on the floor at E3, the game will not be played online, despite its moniker, which while crucial to the PSO formula, isn't the end of the world. Nintendo aims to include up to four-player split-screen multiplayer, a la classic Nintendo games like Mario Kart, allowing gamers to experience PSO for themselves or with friends while sat not inches away from one another. We suspect the 'online' suffix may die a death, but PSO did start out life as a bona fide single player RPG, so hopefully users won't feel too alienated. Back to Yamauchi, though, and the final thing he commented on was the software strategy for GameCube. Thanks to what he calls sluggish sales of exclusive software on GameBoy Advance, "when it comes to the domestic launch of GameCube, Nintendo will release only two software titles". We advise you to take in the whole interview, so you can hear Yamauchi's comparison of the GameCube and Xbox situation to that of the Pro and Sumo wrestler. And on that bombshell… ® Related Stories Microsoft Xbox has lost the console war already - Sony exec Nintendo strikes Gamecube price at $199.95 Related Link C&VG: Nintendo's Yamauchi interviewed Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 30 May 2001

Games market will be worth $86bn by 2006

The size of the games market could jump by a massive 71 per cent over the next five years, making it an $86 billion industry by 2006, according to a new study from London's Informa Media Group. This will mostly be down to a wave of new console systems - Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation 2 - as well as the the way games will spread to set-top boxes and next-generation mobile phones. "The big difference over the next few years will be a move away from the image of gamers as 'nerds'," says report co-author Adam Thomas. "Games will move very much into the mainstream - something that will see 'ordinary' people playing games much more, using their mobile phones and TV sets." Apparently the Internet, interactive TV and mobile phones could account for up to 27 per cent of the gaming industry's revenues by 2006, compared to just two per cent last year. Consoles will also play their part, with sales expected to rise 73 per cent over the next five years to a total of $33 billion. Online gaming will account for around $5.6 billion. All of this will be offset by the continuing contractions of the arcade games business, which has already caused problems for companies such as Midway. ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 30 May 2001
DVD it in many colours

The future of SMS texting – EMS!

The biggest names in mobile manufacture have announced they are working on a next-generation version of SMS text messaging - EMS, or Enhanced Messaging Service. According to a joint press release put out by Alacatel, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens, EMS will enable you send images, tunes and animations of the phone. The standard will be open and soon become the norm seeing as all the big boys are involved in it. Its openness will also give third parties the chance to write apps and services. The success of downloadable ring tones is just one example of why this will take off. That and the fact that text messaging has gone through the roof with a new figure coming out every month over how many millions text messages were sent in the UK in the last week etc etc. EMS sits on top of the SMS system, making implementation a whole lot easier. It is also a bridge from SMS to what the mobile industry is calling MMS - Multimedia Messaging Service. The first EMS phones are expected to come out anytime from June on. While we're here though, we feel we ought to re-remind the mobile industry that it had absolutely no idea about how successful SMS would be and many even refused to support the SMS system when it first arrived. Just like to throw that in there whenever the industry starts slapping itself on the back. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

Crouching Tony, Hidden Hague

And still the games keep coming. This one is called Crouching Tony, Hidden Hague - based of course on the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's a good old arcade punch-up. Tony Blair wears a dashing red karate suit and William Hague a cut-down boiler suit. They fight in front of the Houses of Parliament and each have special moves: Tony has a tiger punch and leg sweep, Little Willy a power punch and Hurricane. The game's actually pretty good (oh, by the way, you'll need the latest Flash player). However, as with all beat-em-ups, it will end up with you tapping away at buttons randomly and hoping you win. No harm in that. Another problem is that we have found it impossible to beat the computer if you play the One Player game. Bit of a laugh though. If you beat Blair, the cry of victory informs him that he fights like his baby and he ought to have brought Two Jabs along with him. Beat Hague, and exclaim "you are weak, baldy". Good value. ® Related Link The game
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

ATI to license chips to other board makers

ATI is opening its entire range of graphics chips to third-party add-in card makers, the company has announced. In essence, ATI, which has always produced its own boards using its own chip technology, is adopting Nvidia's strategy of selling chips and board reference designs to third-parties. Unlike Nvidia, it will continue to sell boards under its own brand. Nvidia's strategy works because it allows it to focus on what it knows best - graphics chip design - and it doesn't put it in direct competition with its graphics card partners. To avoid such conflict, ATI's approach is to allow its partners only to target system integrators and reseller channels. The company will continue to push its own boards into the retail arena. It will also sell its boards, along with standalone graphics chips, to large OEMs - Apple, for instance. Clearly ATI hopes that its partners will be able to bring down the price of Rage and Radeon-based board, thanks to competition among suppliers and much-reduced cost to market considerations - selling to margin-conscious system integrators is easier than selling to consumers in the advertising-driven retail space. If the plan works, it should broaden ATI's presence in the PC market, simply by getting more 'Powered by ATI' (or however the boards end up being stamped) out into the market. And it presumably hopes that when buyers upgrade their graphics, they'll stick with the ATI brand. The upshot, ATI hopes, will be more ATI-based chips out there with the consequent boost to its finances and marketshare. Success depends on minimising competition between ATI and its third-party board makers. Segmenting the market the way ATI has will help, but what's to stop major OEMs buying the cheapest possible boards from the third-parties and cutting ATI out of the loop? ATI will still make money on the deal, through the chips the board makers will buy, but not as much as it would dealing with the OEM directly. With sufficient numbers of board makers, ATI will make up the loss, and presumably it's confident it can do so. Either that, or desperate times are resulting in desperate methods. ATI is struggling to return to profitability and to regain its marketshare in the face of Nvidia's considerable success. ATI may feel it has nothing to lose if it has to surrender to others markets it has jealously guarded for its own products for so long. ® Related Stories ATI confirms Radeon 2 to ship late summer ATI talks up Truform, next-gen rendering tech ATI Radeon 2, 3 details leak
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

OpenPGP Alliance omits PGP Security

An organisation formed to promote compatibility between different implementations of OpenPGP standard does not include Network Associates, which is the main supplier of PGP-based encryption products for business. The OpenPGP Alliance, which was founded by PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, doesn't include Network Associates, whose PGP Security division owns the source code and trademark for the popular PGP encryption package first developed by Zimmermann in 1991. Zimmermann left Network Associates (NAI) earlier this year after an argument about publishing the source code of PGP, which he believed was the only way to prove to the encryption community that the software was secure. After disagreeing with management on this matter of principle Zimmermann left NAI to join Hush Communications as its chief cryptographer and promote the OpenPGP standard. OpenPGP, a non-proprietary protocol for encrypting email using public key cryptography based on the PGP program, was submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in 1997. By becoming an IETF standard (RFC 2440), OpenPGP may be implemented by any company without paying any licensing fees. Founder member of the OpenPGP Alliance include Qualcomm as well as security firms Hush Communications, SSH Communications Security, and Zero-Knowledge Systems. Zimmermann said "by co-operating to ensure that different secure email systems work together, companies do not have to feel they are going it alone". Interoperability between different encryption packages is an important issue and so formation of the OpenPGP Alliance is welcome but the lack of involvement of Network Associates could be a stumbling block in the future. ® External links: OpenPGP Alliance Formed to Advance Standard in PKI Based Software Related stories PGP creator Zimmermann leaves Network Associates Zimmermann plays down PGP flaw Cyber Rights Hush up new RIP powers
John Leyden, 30 May 2001

Apple signs Demon as exclusive UK ISP

Apple has signed UK telco Thus' ISP, Demon, as the exclusive Net access provider for British Mac users. The deal mirrors a similar deal struck between Apple and US ISP EarthLink early last year. Under the terms of that agreement, EarthLink got a $200 million investment and Apple got a cut from the subscription of each Mac user who signed to the ISP. The terms of the Thus alliance were not disclosed, though it was described in a statement as a "multi-year" agreement. Essentially, the deal means that when UK Mac users install new system software or run a new Mac for the first time, the Mac OS' Internet Setup Assistant will sign them up to Demon for Net access. Experienced users or those who already have accounts with other ISPs will be able to enter their details, but anyone who hasn't will get Demon and only Demon. Users will get a 30-day free access trial if they do select Demon as their ISP. Demon is one of the oldest UK ISPs - certainly the longest serving provider of cheap Net access to consumers, thanks to its pioneering 'tenner a month' tariff. Occasional growth-related access issues aside, Demon has a pretty good record of supporting the Mac. The deal appears to be a European rather than a UK gig, and the tone of comments from Apple Europe VP and General Manager Pascal Cagni suggests similar deals are in the works with local ISPs throughout the Continent. ® Related Story Apple's Internet strategy takes shape
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

Clipserver severs dotcom name

A British press clippings service has turned its back on the "new economy" and discarded its dotcom moniker. From today Clipserver.com is to be known as plain old Clipserver plc or just "Clipserver". Funny, really when you think that Clipserver only changed its name to Clipserver.com last year. Before that it was known as Prominent Pages. Critics might argue that Clipserver tagged on the dotcom suffix merely to cash in on the Net revolution. El Reg couldn't possibly comment. However, it is yet further evidence (not that any is needed) that the dotcom hysteria that afflicted so many is now being successfully treated and eradicated. That, in effect, is what was said at an Intel-sponsored debate in London this morning on the future of e-business. However, any predictions about ebusiness were served with a large portion of hindsight and just a dash of "we never believed the hype you understand". Richard Dracott of Intel Online Services said: "The Web is not a miracle source of money." Dele Sikuade of Web developers, IXL, was a little more thoughtful: "There is a change in perception about what ebusiness is and was seen, I believe, as an 'universal equaliser'." He argued that the idea that the Web provided a level playing field for small businesses to take on corporate giants has proved wide of the mark, despite the obvious exceptions. Gordon Graylish, a big cheese at Intel EMEA plugged the view that ebusiness is about the "fundamental restructuring of business". But he conceded: "The industry made some fundamental mistakes over the last couple of years." On the plus side, he said the dotcom boom had accelerated infrastructure development by as much as ten years. Of the future of ebusiness, the five-man panel appeared united in its belief that the focus of ebusiness will be in the cost savings, efficiency gains and improved lines of communication brought about by the business-to-business sector. The business-to-consumer sector - arguably the areas that drove the dotcom boom - will be left behind...for the time being at least. However, the highlight of this Intel sponsored debate wasn't the wisdom and insight of this collective group of experts. Nor was it the warm bacon rolls that accompanied the breakfast pastries and hot coffee. No, it was the sight of one of the panellists (he shall remain nameless) failing on two attempts to open the screw cap on a bottle of mineral water. ®
Tim Richardson, 30 May 2001

Echelon isn't a threat – but scramble your emails anyway

A draft European Parliament report on the Echelon spy network has sent out conflicting messages to the public about the threat posed to privacy by the system. On the one hand legislators said there was no solid evidence that the US-led network was involved in commercial espionage, but a draft report still encouraged Internet users to encrypt their email - just in case. A final report is expected in September but a Parliamentary group looking into Echelon meets today, which has created an explosion of interest in the subject. European MPs have been investigating Echelon for over a year after allegations that the US had used the shadowy system to engage on a spot of industrial espionage on European firms. Previous statements by the parliamentary temporary committee investigating Echelon have indicated that Brussels considered it something of a paper tiger, and have dismissed speculation that the system can intercept virtually all electronic communications around the globe. One of the main reasons the committee reached this conclusion is that it doesn't believe the technology - be it speech recognition systems or filtering systems - is up to the job. In fact its main concern seems to be the lack of legislative oversight of the system. Echelon refers to an automated global interception and relay system created during the cold war and operated by the intelligence agencies of the United States, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Unlike most spy systems Echelon is designed to intercept private and commercial communications, and not military traffic. It has been suggested that Echelon may intercept as many as 3 billion communications everyday, including phone calls, email messages, Internet downloads and satellite transmissions. Some estimates (probably wide of the mark) estimate that Echelon filters through 90 per cent of the traffic that flows through the Internet, but the exact capabilities of Echelon remain unclear. ® Related Stories Echelon FAQ European Parliament Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System - working paper Related Stories Euro Parliament calls Echelon a paper tiger An Outlook worm to jam NSA's Echelon CIA patching Echelon shortcomings French Echelon report says Europe should lock out US snoops Euro Parliament to investigate Echelon
John Leyden, 30 May 2001

MD of Cisco's partner of the year goes down for six months

The managing director of NSC Technology, Muhammed Yaseem, has been given a six-month jail sentence for his part in a computer parts fraud. He will also have to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs. Co-defendant Jonathan Palmer (not of NSC) was also given six months and a £5,000 fine. Charles Warner Allen was found not guilty. Mr Yaseem started NSC Technology with two others in 1992, and it was voted Cisco Gold Partner of the year. It has offices worldwide with its headquarters in London. Mr Yaseem pleaded guilty to several counts of fraud. Judge Blackfell QC made note of the men's previous good characters but nevertheless handed down the two six-month sentences. Neither NSC Technology nor Cisco have come back to us with a statement regarding Mr Yaseem's jail sentence. ® Related Story MD of Cisco gold partner pleads guilty to fraud The Register has a new reseller section. It's called Channel Flannel, and you can reach it from the navigation bar on the front page.
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

LetsBuyIt.com posts Q1 loss

Lazarus-like e-tailer, LetsBuyIt.com, has survived long enough to publish its Q1 results. Although this in itself is a miracle, John Palmer, CEO and founder of LetsBuyIt.com reckons it's only time before the outfit starts making cash. Said Palmer: "I feel sure that going forward, as a result of the successful restructuring and the cost structure of the company being significantly reduced, we are now in a strong position to drive the company forward to profitability and to deliver shareholder value for our investors." LetsBuyIt.com only opened it doors for a business at the end of February after shutting up shop for two months to save itself from...well, itself. Figures released today show that between 26 February and 31 March it received orders worth Euro 1.1 million (£661,544) generating Net revenues of Euro 734,000 (£441,842) Operating expenses for the same period tipped the scales at Euro 15.3 million (£9.2 million) but bosses expect this to slide as costs fall following restructuring. Net operating loss for Q1 was Euro 15.2 million (£9.2 million). LetsBuyIt.com also said it had secured an extra Euro 3 million (£1.8 million) financing commitment from a new private investor. Since the beginning of the year the e-tailer has secured Euro 80.2 million (£48.3 million) in financing. ®
Tim Richardson, 30 May 2001

Dotcom job deaths drop in May

The number of US dotcom job deaths dropped in May following a record month of cuts in April This month 13,419 people got the bullet compared with 17,554 in April, a drop of 24 per cent. The figures come from US recruitment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas which has calculated that the number of job cuts is already 60 per cent higher than it was for all of 2000. The May numbers may indicate a slowdown in layoffs, but the figures are still higher than for February when 12,828 got canned. ® Related Story April is record dotcom job death month
Robert Blincoe, 30 May 2001

IBM, NEC, Fujitsu, Hitachi co-operate on corporate Linux code

IBM, NEC, Fujitsu and Hitachi are to pool their enterprise-oriented Linux software development resources, according to NEC. There's no formal arrangement here, it seems. Rather the four - or their Japanese operations, at least - will do the corporate equivalent of swapping notes and making sure their own development work isn't duplicating any of the other partners' efforts. "The four companies have various areas of expertise and many customers such as banks with mission-critical needs, and will consult with each other and split things up efficiently so as to avoid any overlap," an NEC spokesman, cited by Reuters, said today. "Linux has not yet reached the enterprise level," he added. "There are a lot of things that need to be done there." The four companies are already sponsors of the Open Source Development Lab, an industry-backed joint development project that will soon be expanding from its US base into a second facility near Tokyo. Their enterprise-oriented efforts will supplement the broader work being undertaken by the OSDL, the spokesman said. The co-operation should accelerate product development, he added, with software becoming available over the next couple of years. ®
Tony Smith, 30 May 2001

Sony to stick Pioneer's DVD-R in Vaios

Pioneer is now supplying its DVR-103 combination DVD-R recordable drives to Sony for its Vaio line of computers. Pioneer has been supplying the drive to Apple, Compaq and NEC/Packard Bell since Q1 2001. UK retailer PC World is punting out a £1,499 Packard-Bell machine containing the drive. NEC has a machine with a slightly better spec for £1585.08. Pioneer is now ramping up production of the DVR-103 in China to hit its worldwide production target of more than 1 million DVD-R drives. The drive is also known as called the DVR-A03 for non-OEM customers, and is just entering distribution. It has a suggested retail price of $995. This is 94 per cent less than Pioneer's first generation DVD-R drive released in 1998. ® Related Story PC World's got a DVD-R PC for £1,499
Robert Blincoe, 30 May 2001

Le Freeswerve U-turns on Unlimited Time promise

Britain's biggest French ISP is to ditch its unmetered Net access product, Freeserve Unlimited Time, in August despite giving assurances that it would not can the service. In January Le Freeswerve announced it was offering a new unmetered service based on the wholesale unmetered Net access product, FRIACO. At the time Le Freeswerve said it hoped its existing Freeserve Unlimited Time users would switch to the new AnyTime service but insisted no-one would be forced to swap tariffs. However, Le Freeswerve has now changed its mind (like it never intended to ditch the loss-making Freeserve Unlimited Time product) and the service - supported by Energis Squared - will cease in August. Existing Freeserve Unlimited Time users can either swap tariffs or sling their hooks. Some 75,000 Freeserve Unlimited Time users are to be migrated to the FRIACO-based Freeserve AnyTime service. ® Related Story Le Freeswerve says 'bonjour' to flat-rate Net access Le Freeserve keeps l'Unlimited Time product
Tim Richardson, 30 May 2001

Gates strip joint secret out?

A strip club allegedly frequented by Bill Gates is under scrutiny by the US Government over links to pimps, the Mafia and fraud. On trial in Atlanta is the owner of The Gold Club, Steve Kaplan. He says his strip joint, which has a $10 entrance fee and scantily clad waitresses serving up $5 beers, is merely an upmarket hostess joint for professionals who want to relax, today's Times reports. His lawyers claim the club has played host to the likes of the King of Sweden, who spent two hours merrily watching strippers in one of the club's private rooms - a claim denied by Sweden's royals. These private enclaves, known as "Gold Rooms", provide punters with a private striptease for between $200 and $500 an hour, while they sip champagne at up to $2,000 a bottle. The government disagrees with Kaplan's claims - it believes the club is in league with the Mafia, supplies prostitutes to club visitors, cons customers out of thousands of dollars, and has deals with corrupt police officers. It has charged Kaplan and 16 others with a string of charges, from credit card fraud and loan-sharking to prostitution and extortion. And it has hauled a group of Mafia mobsters into the dock to testify. "This is an organised crime case," Art Leach, the chief prosecutor, told The Times. "This is a case about greed, about the desire for power and the fear of a national crime family." And the link to software billionaire Gates? Defence lawyers have been desperately trying to show that the club is visited by a whole range of celebs - including some wholesome characters. Hence the names of Ted Turner, Michael Jordan, George Clooney and Mr Gates all being listed in the case. A Microsoft representative today said they were unable to comment on what Gates did in his spare time. ® Related Link Times article Related Stories Gates loses the broadband plot Gates no longer richest man on planet Gates: The earth moved for me
Linda Harrison, 30 May 2001
server room

So why isn't Nokia part of the EMS standard?

We reported earlier today that Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens had all signed up to a new enhanced SMS standard, called EMS, that would allow for pictures, tunes and animations to be sent to phones. They hope that EMS will become the common standard and will act as a step-stone to the upcoming MMS standard that will enable attachments to be sent to phones, in much the same way as email works now. However, extremely conspicuous by its absence is the world's leading mobile manufacturer, Nokia. Nokia leads the field by a long way. It is also a member of the standards board that has come up with the EMS standard - 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project). 3GPP has been very successful in creating universal standards such as GSM and the original SMS standard. Nokia has two main explanations. First, it says, it already has its own standard that can do just as much as EMS - Smart Messaging - and it's had it since 1997. "We have hundreds of millions of phones out there, all with Smart Messaging. It has been tremendously successful," a spokesman told us. It is also open source and free to anyone that wants it. As such, there are no plans to introduce EMS on any Nokia phones. He's right. Smart Messaging allows for almost exactly the same things as EMS, although it cannot underline or bold text for example. It can however do things like configure phones from a distance. Sadly, they are not compatible with each other, raising the prospect of a standards war: the biggest company against a consortium of smaller companies. This is not only unwise - the real success of SMS was in its ubiquity - but Nokia at least doesn't think that will happen. It is also the second reason why it's not bothered about EMS. And that is the forthcoming MMS standard that will allow for even more flexibility and (ugh) usability. This standard is also being developed by 3GPP but with the advantage that everyone, including Nokia, has signed up to it. Nokia reckons the MMS standard will start being written into phones at the start of next year. So, the way it sees it, it's not worth subscribing to a new standard and spending a load of money building it into new phones when not only can Nokia offer the same services now but EMS will be obsolete in a year's time. A fair point you may say. Ericsson, Motorola and Siemens are, unsurprisingly, not in agreement. The idea is that they all work together on standardising phones and then compete on price and service. Everyone wins. They are also happy to accept Nokia if it wants to join up to EMS. As for the claims that Smart Messaging is also free and open source, one company spokesman questioned whether this has been the case until recently. "I think they only made it open last year," he told us. "But I'll have to check that." We are still waiting on a number of people to get back to us regarding small points, but already the situation seems clear. MMS may be ready for next year, but will the demand and networks be up to the job? The term two-and-a-half G cropped up when mobile operators realised that this advanced phone technology stuff was not as easy as they thought. EMS is the manufacturers' equivalent. There's good, usable technology not incorporated into phones at the moment - and that is a wasted revenue source. You only have to look at the money SMS has made companies. If you can use EMS to send pictures and tunes, you can be sure people will. And they'll pay for the privilege. Meanwhile, Nokia can't see the point of it and you can hardly blame it. Are we looking at a standard war? No, unlikely. But when/if EMS takes off and MMS is still in the wings, it will annoy people. There is the potential for this to upset the balance of power in the manufacturing industry and bring Nokia down a notch or two, but we wouldn't bank on it. Alan Pyne, a director at analyst firm Schema, is in agreement with Nokia. "EMS is only going to be a short-term standard and there's no doubt it's going to be replaced by MMS," he told us. "MMS is more feature and content rich. "A cynic would say that this is just a way of shifting more handsets." Now would Ericsson at al ever doing anything like that? ® Related Story The future of SMS texting - EMS!
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2001

Brookdale pic posted

OCWorkbench.com has posted a sneak preview of Intel's upcoming Brookdale chipset on its Website. Chip voyeurs should click herefor a peek at the prospective P4 partner. ® Related Stories Intel samples Brookdale DDR chipset prices slump
Linda Harrison, 30 May 2001

Congress lets spam out of the can

An anti-spam bill has been substantially weakened by a congressional committee, which has pulled measures that would allow consumers to sue junk emailers. The Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001 was originally drafted to allow Federal Trade Commission investigation and lawsuits from ISPs or consumers against spammers who don't pull recipients from lists upon request. These measures, which would have authorised fines of $500 per spam message or $50,000 in total, have now been pulled leaving only a much narrower requirement that mass emails must come with a legitimate return address. ISPs can still sue spammers who have caused damage to their business but this is one of the few positive measures left in the bill, which is seen by some on Capitol Hill as a wasted opportunity to draft legislation that would introduce effective deterrents against spamming. IDG reports that after its passage through the Judiciary Committee the watered down bill contains few consumer protection measures. The effects restricting commercial email might have on the development of ecommerce were considered paramount by the Judiciary Committee when it considered the bill. The modified bill is expected to be considered by the full US House of Representatives later this summer. ® External Links Draft of Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Mail Act of 2001
John Leyden, 30 May 2001

Blair savaged over Microsoft visit

The Labour Party was yesterday accused of having an unhealthy relationship with business after a visit to Microsoft UK. Tony Blair spent about an hour at the software giant's Reading HQ, where his party chose to launch its business manifesto. Tony and Cherie were given a ten-minute demonstration of Windows XP surrounded by gawping Microsoft staff. At one point the self-confessed technophobe PM reportedly quipped to his wife: "I hope you're following this". Meanwhile, the opposition parties raged against what was seen as Labour endorsing a commercial product. The Conservatives said the stunt showed Labour's "unhealthy relationship" with big business, while the Liberal Democrats cautioned against the party being associated with such a "dominant" company. Microsoft was the first to admit that the free publicity resulting from Labour's request to stage the event on its premises was a coup for the company. It is due to launch its Office XP product at midnight tonight. When asked about criticism of the event, one Microsoft representative said: "IT is a very much published and well-growing industry in the UK, and Microsoft contributes a lot." ® Related Stories The best election site we've seen Alan Sugar gives Labour £200k What Labour pledges on IT and the Internet
Linda Harrison, 30 May 2001

Sun refutes Internet ‘ban’ slur

Our story about Sun asking its staff to restrict use of the Internet has produced a furious backlash from company insiders. It seems the email is sent out by Sun's IT department every year and is designed to raise awareness about the need to conserve WAN bandwidth. The company does not do this to cut costs, apparently. At the end of the financial year Sun regularly sees a huge upswing in traffic on its leased lines generated by traffic flowing from its ERP systems during a period when many deals are closed. Basically Sun doesn't want Web surfing or emails with huge attachments to limit the flow of such traffic. Fair enough but this still leaves the important question of why Sun doesn't rely on traffic prioritisation features, which ship as standard with many routers, rather than asking its users to behave themselves. ®
John Leyden, 30 May 2001

Online Scientology critic jailed in Canada

Computer engineer Keith Henson has been arrested in Canada, where he had planned to file for status as a political refugee after being convicted by a California court of posting to Usenet rude things about the Church of Scientology, and joking that CoS members should be nuked. He was convicted of interfering with a religion. According to reports, Henson and friend Gregg Hagglund were in a parked car in a shopping mall when a Canadian Immigration service SWAT team equipped with body armor and heavy-duty weapons descended upon them as if they had been armed, desperate felons. The Feds were acting on a tip which indicated Henson was in fact a dangerous fugitive. The basis of the arrest warrant is Henson's alleged failure to disclose to Canadian Immigration officials the existence of a felony fugitive warrant from California when he entered the country on 12 May. Henson's supporters say that the California warrant was issued subsequent to his entry to Canada, so he could not have reported it at the time. He is being detained by Canadian Immigration pending a hearing scheduled for Thursday. ® Related Story Online Scientology critic seeks political asylum Related Link Updates on Henson's status
Thomas C Greene, 30 May 2001