19th > June > 2001 Archive

MS confronts another IIS system-level hole

Microsoft IIS is open to total exploitation by an attacker who can establish a Web session and execute a buffer overrun against an ISAPI (Internet Server Application Programming Interface) extension which contains an unbounded buffer. The result would be system-level access, enabling an attacker to run arbitrary code against the machine, or make file and setup modifications of his or her choice. All IIS implementations running on default installations of Win-NT 4.0, Win-2K, or Win-XP are affected. The culprit here is idq.dll, a component of Index Server (or 'Indexing Service' in Win-2K) which supports administrative scripts (.ida files) and Internet data queries (.idq files). According to the relevant MS security bulletin, idq.dll contains an unchecked buffer in a section of code which handles input URLs. Idq.dll runs in the System context, so an attacker would be able to gain complete control of the server. Furthermore, the indexing service would not have to be running in order to exploit the machine. So long as the script mapping for .idq or .ida files is present, the vulnerability can be exploited, Microsoft warns. The vulnerability was discovered by eEye Security, and is one of the most damaging holes in IIS yet reported -- on a par with the unchecked buffer in the IIS .printer ISAPI filter, which eEye also discovered back in April. Redmond is not mincing words with this one. "This is a serious vulnerability, and Microsoft urges all customers to take action immediately," the company says. It should be enough to remove the script mappings where one can be confident that no further modifications will be made to the system; but if a system is open to tinkering by many hands, this is definitely not a safe way to go. "It is possible for [script mappings] to be automatically reinstated if additional system components [like service packs and hotfixes] are added or removed. Microsoft recommends that all customers using IIS install the patch, even if the script mappings have been removed," the security bulletin says. There are patches now for NT 4.0 and most flavors of 2K; and the hole will be fixed in the consumer release of XP. Unfortunately, XP beta users are totally out of luck, and 2K Datacenter Server customers need to get their patches from the OEM. Otherwise, everything is under control. ® Related Links Win-NT 4.0 patch Win-2K patch
Thomas C Greene, 19 Jun 2001

Apple offers six months' interest-free credit on iMacs

Apple UK's offer of interest-free credit for buyers of the current generation of iMac isn't quite as good a deal as it's cracked up to be. First up, all anyone who takes up the offer is doing is helping Apple UK rid itself of old iMacs while the company prepares itself to roll out new models next month. Second, while the loan is interest free for the first six months, that doesn't mean you're getting a Mac for free during that period, or that you won't pay the interest you would have accrued but for the special offer. According to the deal's terms and conditions, if you pay the loan off during the six month period, you're OK. Equally, if you pay the minimum you're allowed to (four per cent of the balance or £10, whichever is higher) and then pay off the balance in month six, you're OK. End up paying interest on the remaining balance, and you'll end up coughing up at an APR of 29.8 per cent, significantly higher than any UK credit card (if you have one). To be fair, Apple doesn't disguise any of the details of its offer - that would be illegal, in any case - but one or two reports we've seen haven't checked the Ts&Cs before praising the plan. The offer applies only to current iMacs bought from the AppleStore or select authorised resellers, and ends on 31 July. Would-be borrowers have to pass Apple's credit checks and be over 18. ®
Tony Smith, 19 Jun 2001

2001 worst year for DRAM demand in history of world… ever

Never before has the world's demand for memory chips been as low as it will be this year. So says senior Elpida executive Hidemori Inukai, VP and general manager of the memory maker's technical marketing division, interviewed by Japanese paper Nikkei Microdevices under the headline: 'Demand in 2001 likely to be lowest in History'. We have to disagree. Sure, 2001 is going to be a bad year for the memory business. Heck, the semiconductor market as a whole isn't exactly having the time of its life. But 2001 the lowest in History'? We can't accept that. Demand was much worse in 1666, and the figures for BC1245 don't bear thinking about. Still, according to Inukai, Elpida's DRAM business won't be profitable unless demand does an about face and, during the rest of the year, increases 160 per cent over last year's figures. Not much chance of that, we reckon, and Inukai isn't optimistic either. The average year-on-year increase in demand for DRAM is 170-175 per cent year, he said, and has never before fallen below 150 per cent. This year, however, all the signs say it will come in under 140 per cent. Oh dear. ®
Tony Smith, 19 Jun 2001

Intel 0.13 micron server Tualatin is go

Intel will indeed release server-oriented 0.13 micron Pentium III processors today, one of the Great Satan's spokesimps has confirmed. The chips - better known by their codename, Tualatin - will be branded as Pentium III. Despite being intended for server applications, they won't be marked as Xeon parts. As we reported yesterday, the 1.13GHz 0.13 micron PIII with 512KB of on-die L2 is officially shipping. We say 'officially', but the truth is that the parts have been filtering through to OEMs since last month, as we've mentioned before. And Intel isn't making much of a fuss about the launch - in essence, today is just the point at which OEM customers are allowed to announce boxes based on the chips. Heck, even the chipsets the server part will work with are made by third-parties, specifically ServerWorks and Micron. Instead, Intel is focusing its efforts on the mobile version of Tualatin, which is expected to take place on 30 July. That will be followed by the launch of the desktop parts on 6 August. Intel's spokesman would only confirm that the next Tualatin launch will focus on mobile processors and take place in Q3. Incidentally, the accuracy of the information we received yesterday, suggests that the other point - that a 1.8GHz Pentium 4 will ship on 2 July - can be taken with a few fewer grains of salt. ® Related Stories From yesterday's Register: Intel to launch Tualatin tomorrow? Intel 0.13 micron Tualatin Pentium IIIs to ship late June Intel Tualatin to replace Coppermine, fast Pentium 4 to be upped to 1.8GHz on 2 July
Tony Smith, 19 Jun 2001

Computacenter suffers slow Q2

Computacenter has issued a statement saying Q2 sales have been weaker than those in the first quarter. The company doesn't expect its revenues for the period to be any different from those it reported for Q2 2000. The company will announce its results for the six months to 30 June on 15 August. It has said that these will be in line with original expectations. Computacenter is briefing analysts and shareholders today about its performance. Computacenter posted pre-tax profits of £55.6 million for the 12 months to 31 December 2000, down 26 per cent on the £75.1 million it made in 1999. But it did hit its targets. Sales for the year were up 13 per cent to £1.99 billion. Sales were £1.76 billion in 1999. ® Related Stories Computacenter loses GCAT monopoly Knife hangs over 73 Computacenter jobs SCC grabs £390m desktop deal from Computacenter Computacenter misses £2bn t/o by a whisker
Robert Blincoe, 19 Jun 2001

'CRM – the little black dress of IT'

El Reg is indebted to Johnson King Public Relations of Weston Street, London for blending fashion and IT in its bid to make CRM more sexy. Inviting journalists to a press conference on behalf of its client, Detica, it pouts: "CRM - the little black dress of IT." No longer sexy and sophisticated, the LBD is now a byword for management software. Whatever next? Tiscali - the foie gras of ISPs? Of course, you know who started this trend of blending fashion and IT, don't you? That's right, the former Textiles Minister and part-time E-minister, Patricia Hewitt. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Jun 2001

MI6 spy Tomlinson duped by the Russians?

Ex-MI6 agent Richard Tomlinson may well have been duped by Russian intelligence in the publication of his book on Britain's secret services, The Big Breach. Both Web sites that were used to promote his book - bigbreach.com and tomlinson.ru - are now pointing at a Russian music site at Zvuki.ru. The .com is owned by Sokolov-Khodakov in Moscow, the tomlinson.ru site is still registered as being used for the book and is owned by a Valentin K Pirogov. Tomlinson worked for MI6 from 1991 to 1995. He was upset at being fired and was arrested after a race across continents in 1997 for breaking the Official Secrets Act. He was jailed for one year for giving a synopsis of a book on the secret services to an Australian publisher. The book eventually came out at the start of this year with a Russian publisher. However, while many enjoyed it as a bit of a romp, large question marks were raised over a number of his assertions. Nelson Mandela was particularly incensed at the suggestion he had close ties with British intelligence. Other stories in the book bore a striking resemblance to KGB archives - which were released later. Tomlinson did not have access to some material he purported to know about it. Also, the book's publisher Sergei Korovin is actually Russian intelligence agent Kirill Chashchin, according to author of The Mitrokhin Archive Christopher Andrew. Read Andrew's interesting piece for The Times here. The book's publication was a publicity coup for the Russians and when so many became available in Moscow, the UK government was forced to back down on its gagging order and national newspapers published extracts. The government got its own back though. Tomlinson claims it tried to set him up by making it look as though he posted a list of MI6 agents on the Internet, but this hasn't been proved either way. What it did do was get an injunction that prevented Tomlinson from ever receiving money from the book. The Foreign Office claimed Mr Tomlinson signed an agreement in 1997 assigning copyright over "any work written by me and relating to my employment by the Crown in SIS (the Secret Intelligence Service)". His claim he signed the form under duress was rejected. Tomlinson now lives in Italy. ® Related Link Russia's revenge Related Story MI6 spy secrets posted on Web
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Jun 2001

WSJ takes the rap for MSNBC snafu

A cock-up and not a conspiracy appears to be the reason for MSNBC running a Wall Street Journal story about Microsoft that omitted references to the Beast's competitors. Differences between the two were spotted late last week, with MSNBC amending its earlier version of Lee Gomes' WSJ copy to reinstate the references to BSD and Sun on Friday. Megan Doscher mailed Jim Romenesko's Poynter.org journalism website with the following explanation: "An early version of the Microsoft story was published to MSNBC by one of our editors, and unbeknownst to us, it was never updated with the final version. We got two pieces of reader mail on Friday morning telling us that MSNBC was 'editing' the story, and we checked and realized the production error and fixed it right away. We also explained what happened to the two readers who wrote in. Actually, the version that appeared on MSNBC was also the version that appeared in both the two-star and three-star editions of the print Wall Street Journal. It was different only from the (very late) four star." That fits in with what we suspected yesterday. As we pointed out, the "editing" that so irked members of the Linux community in the MSNBC version - and raised fears of editorial interference, as Microsoft co-founded MSNBC - improved readability and actually corrected an major misinterpretation of the word 'free'. (It was used in the context of free as in beer, not free as in speech). Unfortunately that was lost in the final draft, although the reference to Microsoft continuing to run its Hotmail service on BSD on Solaris in addition to Windows servers was reinstated. This didn't stop Colin Hurlock, Executive Business Producer, Business and Technology at MSNBC.com from fulminating. "You're article is completely incorrect and without merit," he foams in an email to us. You'll be relieved to hear that we used no Anglo Saxon expletives in our reply - but we did point out that the possessive pronoun doesn't contain an apostrophe. (Or an 'e'). If we can believe Doscher's explanation, all the edits in this case were made by the WSJ, not by MSNBC. But Hurlock might be trying his luck with the infallibility defense: something usually the reserve of Popes and divinely appointed monarchs. But since even the New York Times couldn't quite bring itself to apologise for hounding Chinese nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee, so your chances of an apology in this example are pretty slim. We're just glad to have helped clear up the confusion - and nail a conspiracy theory. ® Related Stories MSNBC doctors anti-MS WSJ story
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jun 2001

Oracle sees tech gloom lifting

Oracle claims that the worst of the slowdown in technology spending is now over. Chief financial officer Jeff Henley made the sunny statement when he announced Oracle's Q4 earnings, which had beaten lowered expectations. Although Oracle's revenue for its fourth quarter dropped to $3.26 billion from $3.37 billion a year ago, the world's second largest software firm cut costs to record a net income of $855 million. For the full financial year Oracle recorded earnings of $2.56 billion on revenue of $10.86 billion. "We think, we hope that the worst is over. Hopefully we hit the bottom in our fiscal Q4," Henley told Reuters. He predicted Oracle's software license revenue would be flat during its next quarter. Oracle is seen as a barometer of overall IT spending and the good news in its figures was that the firm weathered what was expected to be an extremely difficult quarter. However there was cause for concern in the detail of Oracle's results. Sales of applications, which are seen as crucial for the growth of the firm, were down nine per cent to about $840,000. Stronger competition from IBM and user dissatisfaction with Oracle's licensing policy contributed to a slight one per cent decline in the firm's core database business, with sales of $2.4 billion, Last week Oracle announced its decision to abandon its controversial universal power unit (UPU) model, where licensing fees are based on the power of a processor, to a flat-rate model with the launch of its 9i database software. Oracle9i Standard Edition will carry a list price of $15,000 per CPU and Oracle9i Enterprise Edition $40,000 per CPU. In a related move Oracle has released a toolkit, called Oracle Migration Kit for ASP (Active Server Pages), which provides firms with a mechanism to migrate databases and applications from Windows to (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) running on Sun servers and Oracle's 9i Application Server. The product is designed to tempt developers away from the Windows camp and its success will be crucial to Oracle attempts to boost its disappointing application revenues. ® External Links Oracle results statement Related Stories Oracle slams IBM with 9i release IBM buys Informix for $1bn Oracle trims workforce Oracle's Ellison sued for insider trading Oracle hurt by IT spending cuts
John Leyden, 19 Jun 2001

ORBS now split into three

First there was ORBS and now there is ORBZ, ORBL and ORDB. We covered the first two yesterday, but Thomas Jensen has been in touch to say he has set up ORDB, standing for Open Relay Database. It should go public later today at http://ordb.org. We look on with interest and at some point we'll try to piece together what each site stands for and what its approach is. ORDB follows hot no the heels on ORBL, run by Michael Rawls in the US and ORBZ, run by Paul Cummins in the UK. ® Related Links ORBL ORBZ ORDB Related Stories ORBS splits into ORBZ and ORBL ORBS is reborn ORBS to be reborn? Not bloody likely, says Alan Brown ORBS' death: Alan Brown replies ORBS is dead. Again
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Jun 2001

Mass Market Scanners: Maturation or Saturation?

A third of all PC-owning households in the US own a scanner - this is bad news for scanner makers. The US accounts for 40 per cent of all mass market scanner sales and Western Europe soaks up another 40 per cent. With both markets reaching maturity, scanner sales will fall next year from this year's projected worldwide revenues of $3.1bn, market research firm InfoTrends says. The US market will decline 1 per cent a year through to 2006. Western Europe will grow 4 per cent this year and then stay flat until 2006. Rest of the world sales will grow 4 per cent a year through Infotrends' forecast period. In 2006 scanner revenues will ease to $2.6 billion and total shipments for the year will be 24.7m units. HP sells more scanners than anyone else in Europe and North America. It competes with Agfa and Canon in Europe and Umax and Visioneer in North America. So how will other digital imaging devices - digital cameras, photo kiosks and suchlike - affect scanner scales? InfoTrends hedges its conclusions: on the one hand, they will compete against consumer scanners; on the other hand, they "also help to drive the worldwide consumer digital imaging market by increasing awareness of digital imaging and its applications". ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Jun 2001

Compaq Alpha box steals 9i benchmark laurels

Compaq is first out of the blocks with a barnstorming midrange benchmark for a system running Oracle 9i. If you've got $13 million to spare - which is a lot for a midrange system, quite frankly - you can get a 32-way AlphaServer GS320 to run 230,533 Benchmark C transactions per minute using Oracle 9i. That works out as $56.62 per transaction. The system clocked 188,000 users, and ran Compaq's Tru64 Unix. (Which was Digital Unix, and OSF/1 before that). Compaq's configuration also includes 16 PIIIs. The $13 million figure is for the cost of the system over three years. The AlphaServer itself is billed at under half a million dollars, that's a quarter of the cost of licensing Oracle 9i software. As usual in these systems, storage accounts for most of the rest. By comparison, the Unix systems to beat in the TPC-C Top Ten include a 32way Solaris SPARC Fujitsu system, the PrimePower 2000, which clocks 222,772 TPC-C at $51.40, making it the highest non-clustered performer; an IBM RS/6000 S85 'pServer' clocking 220,807 at $43.30, and an HP 9000 Superdome clocking 197,024 at $53.77 per transaction. The full, 234 page PDF for the AlphaServer can be found here. Not everyone likes to measure their hardware against the synthetic TPC-C benchmarks. TPC-C scores have been criticised for mixing clustered and non-clustered results in the same league table, and more importantly, failing to replicate real word application conditions. But it's an itch no vendor seems to be able to resist scratching. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Jun 2001

UK wants broadband, says survey

There's reassuring news for broadband providers today after a survey found that four out of ten Net users want hi-speed Net access. More still would be keen to use broadband or cable services if they were aware of what they are, according to the latest annual Internet survey from Which? Online. The survey also claims that seven per cent of Net users currently use broadband services although El Reg reckons this figure seems a little high. No matter. The survey shows that there is a demand for broadband services. The question is, can the industry supply services at a price people can afford? Elsewhere, the report detailing British online habits found that the gender divide is narrowing, with women making up 45 per cent of Net users. What's more, they're just as likely to shop online as men. It also found that more than a third of the British public (some 16 million people) use the Net - up nine per cent on last year. However, contrary to concerns raised by last year's report, Britain is not turning into a nation of Net addicts. The average amount of time spent online has not increased in the last year, it notes suggesting that "fears that the UK could be turning into a land of 'Internet junkies' seem unfounded". Paul Kitchen, head of Which? Online, said: "Our survey shows that most people believe that the internet is becoming part of everyday life. There are more people online, with a big increase in the number of female users. "Around eight million people have now bought something on the internet and the range of what they're buying is now getting wider. And a broader spectrum of the UK population is online than ever before. "As unmetered access packages spread, and as users become more experienced, the time we spend online is likely to increase. What was once extraordinary is well on the way to becoming everyday," he said. The survey also found that people are beginning to reject digital methods of communication in favour of face-to-face meetings. Only five per cent of Net users chose email as their preferred means of communication compared to 14 per cent in the 1999 Which? Online internet survey. And the preference for face-to-face meetings has risen from 39 per cent in 1999 to 67 per cent in this year’s survey. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Jun 2001

EMC reveals price cuts, almost

After the monster revelation that EMC isn't actually the impenetrable beast that everyone thought it was, it seems that the company may have given its head a bit of a shake. It seems to be getting all liberal, wishy-washy even. The storage power-house with the reputation for being the single most expensive piece of technology you can possibly buy, which is admittedly a slight exaggeration, is slashing its prices - talk about a change of tack. It was the surprisingly calm CEO, Michael Ruettgers, that made the announcement - having let slip earlier last year that EMC could be getting pretty aggressive on price. And last week he backed that up with further claims of aggressive pricing and a renewed competitiveness. Actual facts and figures however were typically hard to find. Nevertheless, this could be an important step by EMC, which has long been criticised over the price of its hardware. Despite the fact that the company likes to think its is the best in the world, and argues that if people want the best they have to pay for it, revelations a few years ago that showed its sales people being paid staggering commission on sales left an unpleasant taste in many peoples' mouths. This almost inevitably hasn't helped EMC move forward, particularly not with the competition from the likes of HDS, which is said to be making significant wins over EMC, and IBM hotting up. Just last week IBM itself released a number of new storage offerings - including an attractively priced NAS solution - that could further dent EMC's margins. EMC however has already got its ammunition in place. At a recent Gartner conference the latest findings from a storage market report showed that EMC had good reason to remain bullish - Gartner still thinks it is unstoppable. Admittedly, if you believe Gartner's figures, which claimed EMC had more than a 34 per cent share of the storage market - then it could well be right. But the competition is no slouch - despite what this pair would have you believe. HDS, as with EMC, managed to bag double digit growth last year, and Compaq continues to assert itself, claiming more than 10 per cent market share in second place altogether. With all of that in mind, EMC better make sure that it gets it's alleged price cuts flagged pretty heavily because the competition isn't going to be waiting around for it to get it's act together this year. ® © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 19 Jun 2001

BT and One2One back in court over 3G

BT and Deutsche Telekom-owned One2One were back in court yesterday asking the government for £85 million a piece from 3G licence payments. When the Treasury asked for its first payment on the licences for next-generation phones, BT and One2One coughed up on time. However, Vodafone and Orange were given three months longer to pay because Vodafone was in the course of buying Mannesmann, which owned Orange. As part of the buy, Vodafone had to sell off Orange - which it did, to France Telecom. While the payment delay is understandable, BT and One2One feel it equates to illegal state aid to the tune of £85 million a piece in lost interest. The companies took the case to the High Court in October but a judge decided the argument wasn't valid. They both appealed immediately and this is what kicked off yesterday. The case is expected to last the rest of the week, with a judgement in late summer. Gordon Brown used the huge sums of money paid for the licences to pay off national debt and then using the money saved in not paying interest to pay for public services. ® Related Stories BT share drop over 3G ruling 3G phones fund the UK's future
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Jun 2001

Matrox unveils Millennium G550

Matrox has today announced its latest graphics chip, the G550, as we predicted a month or so back. The G550, a cut-down version of Matrox's ill-fated feature-rich G800 chip, does indeed skip full DirectX 8 programmable vertex and pixel shading systems to focus on the API's matrix skinning functionality, implemented as the HeadCasting Engine to power facial animation. Matrox's thinking here is that modelling and animating users' heads in 3D will soon become something of a killer app. You know the kind of thing: gamers will get their faces skinned and added to online game characters, while others will use the technology for virtual chat environments or mock video conferencing. Having seen the apps in operation, we're less convinced. Not everyone's going to find it easy to get face textures created from photos. Matrox is partnering with UK-based DigiMask to do the scanning work, but so far there a very few software companies out there who have proved willing to license DigiMask's proprietary texture data format as Matrox has done. DigiMask's results are pretty unconvincing in any case. The G550 doesn't do a bad job of animating them, but a few smiles, winks, nods and shakes - cleverly keyed to speech data - doesn't quite make for a lifelike model. The G550 chip has two rendering pipelines, both capable of handling two-texture, 32-bit colour pixels per clock cycle. It supports single-pass trilinear and anisotropic filtering, along with environment-mapped bump mapping. Hurrah. Matrox couldn't tell us what the clock speed is - "It's still being finalised," said a spokeswoman - but previously reported sources put it between 200MHz and 250MHz. The AGP 4x Millennium G550 card supports 64-bit DDR SDRAM and contains 32MB of it, as expected. The RAMDAC runs at 360MHz and supports resolutions up to 2048x1536 in 32-bit colour. It also supports Matrox's DualHead multi-monitor display system - including, apparently, "the industry's only support for true Windows 2000 multi-display". DualHead, we reckon, is more of a USP than HeadCasting. So too is the price: the retail Millennium G550 is will ship for around £95 (exc. VAT) here in the UK and around $135 in the US. ® Related Story Next-gen Matrox chip to launch June
Tony Smith, 19 Jun 2001

FujiFilm FinePix 6800 Zoom

ReviewReview It has taken a year for us to find a camera to beat our old Best Buy model, the FinePix 4700 Zoom, and it took the same manufacturer, Fuji, to come up with the goods. And the FinePix 6800 Zoom beats its predecessor for style, substance and value for money. Its Porsche-designed, aluminum-magnesium alloy body mimics the sleek looks of the FujiFilm FinePix 4700 Zoom. The unit has grown a bit in order to house a host of new features and higher specifications, yet it only weighs an astonishing 258g. Thanks to Fuji's Super CCD (charge-coupled device) technology, this 3.3Mp (megapixels) camera can achieve a 6Mp resolution of 2832x2182. Though we felt the quality couldn't rival a true 6Mp camera, the shots we took were sharp and colourful. There is also the facility to attach 30-second voice captions to your photos, or record around 30 minutes of audio. Like its predecessor, the 6800 Zoom can capture movies with sound of 240x320 at 10fps (frames per second) and, with an increased memory buffer, it can record up to 2.6 minutes of footage. Another handy new feature is the USB download cradle. You simply slot the camera into it to download any images stored on the 16MB SmartMedia card. It also supplies power to the camera and recharges the battery. A top-quality 2in LCD screen displays your shots, and flicking through the previews is a pleasure as they're generated instantly. A four-way navigation pad controls the FinePix's settings, and it offers a host of manual configurations for experts and point-and-shoot settings for the novice. The 6800 Zoom is an innovative camera that builds on and surpasses the success of the 4700. It offers excellent value for money, top-notch image quality and a wealth of useful features. ® Info Price: £599 Contact: 020 7586 1477 Website: www.fujifilm.co.uk Specs Optical Zoom: 4.4x Storage Medium: SmartMedia 16MB Weight: 258g Battery type: lithium-ion Battery charger: Yes Dimensions: 80x39x98 This review is taken from the July 2001 issue. All details correct at time of publication Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 19 Jun 2001

If you fancy a shag – turn your webcam off

UpdatedUpdated If you fancy getting naked and sweaty with your girlfriend, it might be a good idea to turn your webcam off. Or at least turn it away from the action, or hang your underpants over the lens. Unless of course you're faking the whole accident thing, and you really want to get your girlfriend into Readers Wives. Anyway, a young couple seems to have webcammed themselves on the job - deliberately or not. The story is here on www.Dagindaguit.nl - look for the headline "Tiener laat webcam aanstaan tijdens vrijpartij" I don't know what the story says because Babelfish doesn't do Dutch to English translations. If you want to see some stills look here at the Retecool weblog. Thanks to Reg reader Russell Sargeson for the heads up. If you want to win a dartboard like the one on the blokes wall then enter our Doubleclick competition. ® Update Here's a translation of the news story courtesy of Luc van Ess. Thanks to everyone else who sent in a translation. It seems the sex pic postings were a revenge action over a dispute about Webpage layouts. The stars of the show are both 17 and come from Harderwijk in the East of the Netherlands. It is known for a Seaworld like park called the "dolfinarium". Teenager leaves webcam on during shag A 17 year old student from Harderwijk may have imagined another debut. Last Sunday the boy hooked up his new webcam to his computer in his room and sent his first images to his homepage. He began with pictures of the cat and proudly showed the camera's workings to his father. His father warned him to be careful with the camera, but apparently he didn't listen. For not much later the boy sent live pictures onto the Internet of him and his 17 year old girlfriend getting a bit frisky. He didn't know the webcam was still turned on. The 24 year old weblogger Jasper, aka Mr Green, just visited the site and really got a treat. Jasper was visiting the site because the student had copied the layout for his site from another weblogger. Jasper saw the explicit pictures and did not hesitate for a moment. He made a couple of screenshots and put them on his own site and on Monday made his find public in his weblog: "Well, don't leave your camera on if you don't want this to happen". It did not take long for the copied webcam images to be linked to. The original website has already been taken down by the student. Within a few hours the link appeared on the weblogs "retecool" and "Alt0169". Hubert (28) of "Retecool" is still laughing about the incident. "You want as many funny links on your page as possible. Nobody knew this one yet. The poor guy". After repeated requests for comments to the student his father replied: "My son has been a fool, he realises this. I warned him." The father went on to say that his son is not an exhibitionist and the father was shocked to find out the pictures are now available on numerous websites. "I find the manner in which the pictures have been distributed demeaning. I understand from my son this has to do with a revenge action because of a stolen webpage layout". But not only the pictures are being distributed. In forums on the weblogs the hunt for the Harderwijker is on. Webloggers and their visitors are digging for as much information about the student and his girlfriend as they can find. His full name, school and the restaurant where he works have already been found out. The city in which the girlfriend lives has also been found out. "Free gathering of information, is it not?" defends Hubert of "Retecool". The father does not agree and is contemplating legal action to get the pictures off the Internet. But the damage has already been done, he realises. But he has other troubles, the parents of the girlfriend are not aware yet of what has happened. In the "Retecool" forum the first foreign reaction is already placed by someone called Gino. "Wow, I don't know what the language is, but the link circulated in my office today, here in Boston. Is this guy famous in Holland?" The images of the Hardewijker and his girlfriend have crossed the Atlantic in less than 12 hours. Only on the Internet is something like this possible. Related Links www.dagindaguit.nl Pics of the young couple in action - courtesy of Retecool weblog
Robert Blincoe, 19 Jun 2001

Tiscali/LineOne shafts its customers

LineOne - Tiscali UK's consumer ISP - is threatening to evict 103 users from its unmetered service accusing them of "abnormally high" usage. In an email sent to users of LineOne's SurfTime service (a product which provides fixed-rate unmetered access to the Net during evening and weekends) the Tiscali UK-owned ISP threatened to give users the heave-ho unless they moderated their usage. The email reads: "Following [a] recent audit it has come to our attention that your particular usage of LineOne SurfTime is abnormally high, which we believe is adversely affecting the service we can offer other users of this access package. "We will also be monitoring the amount (but not the nature) of your use of the LineOne SurfTime Package for the next 14 days and periodically thereafter. "Unless we see a significant reduction in your abnormally high usage level, (average usage of LineOne SurfTime is around nine hours per week) we may be forced to terminate your LineOne SurfTime account in accordance with Clause 5.4 of the LineOne SurfTime terms and conditions. This is regrettable but necessary in order to ensure continued high levels of service for all LineOne SurfTime users." This contradicts information LineOne's own portal which says: "Just pay a fixed £9.99 a month, and you can go online as much as you like in the evenings, and all weekend – and you won’t be racking up ££££s on your phone bill." So let's get this straight shall we? LineOne's SurfTime users can "go online as much as [they] like in the evenings, and all weekend"...as long as they don't spend more than nine hours a week doing it. What at rip-off. Not surprisingly, no one from Tiscali UK or LineOne was available for comment by press time. However, a Q&A seen by El Reg appears to answer the question: "Why do you state 'unlimited' when clearly you are trying to limit people's usage?" The reply is unconvincing. "The decision to advise certain customers of that their usage profile is particularly high has only been taken after a detailed review of the service. We do not wish to limit customer's usage of a SurfTime session, but must protect the majority from the actions of a few. In doing so we have found that some customers are using SurfTime almost constantly - and it is this usage that is concerning us. Our opinion is that some customers are treating the SurfTime product as an 'always open' service in that they may be simply leaving themselves logged in at all times regardless of their actual usage. The service was never intended to accommodate this kind of usage." Well if it was never "intended to accommodate this kind of usage" perhaps LineOne should not mislead people by saying they can "go online as much as [they] like in the evenings, and all weekend". Anyway, this is exactly the kind of excuse used by breathe and Freeserve and 24/7 Freecall and all the other ISPs that booted off users last year for spurious reasons. It was a lame excuse then - it's a lame excuse now. ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Jun 2001

Chip gloom deepens – sales may now fall 28% this year

As Dad's Army's Private Fraser so aptly put it, "We're doomed. We're all doomed." 'We', in this case, are the world's semiconductor companies, and the doomsayer is market researcher Gartner Dataquest analyst Bryan Lewis. It's pretty much what fellow chip analyst company IC Insights is saying too. Lewis reckons 2001's total chip revenues will add up to just three-quarters of last year's figure. At least that's what he told a briefing at the 38th Design Automation Conference in Las Vegas on Sunday, according to EE Times. Worse, the anticipated 'second half of 2001' recovery won't take place until the latter part of 2002. Lewis' figure of a 25 per cent fall isn't far off IC Insights' prediction of a 21 per cent dip during 2001, detailed in a report the company put out today. IC Insights believes the market could dip just 15 per cent, which is a single percentage point off what the chip industry's own trade association is predicting. Earlier this month, the Semiconductor Industry Association put 2001's revenues 14 per cent down on last year's figure. The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics puts it at 13.5 per cent. But that's IC Insights' best-case scenario - its most pessimistic prediction puts the dip at 28 per cent, beyond even Lewis' figure. The research firm - as per the SIA and WSTS - is, however, anticipating something of a turnaround in the second half of the year. Through Q3, the industry should see single-figure quarter-on-quarter growth, it believes, rising to 11 per cent in Q4, making for a slight H2 2001 (four per cent) increase on the same period last year. Lewis doesn't appear to have put a figure to his own predictions, but he's clearly expecting little in the way of growth in the remaining months of 2001. Both his forecast and IC Insights' own point to a much worse Q2 than had previously been anticipated, in which the first quarter's optimism for a quick turnaround after a brief inventory adjustment appears to have turned into downright misery. Grown-up chip designers have been seen to break down and weep in public. And the loud splat you just heard is another depressed semiconductor executive chucking himself out of a window. "We're doooo--" ® Related Stories 2001 worst year for DRAM demand in history of world... ever Chip sales to fall 14% in 2001 Global chip biz to decline 13.5% during 2001 Related Link EE Times: Dataquest sees worst dip ever for chip market
Tony Smith, 19 Jun 2001

Maplin Electronics sold

Maplin Electronics, the electronics mecca for UK soldering iron geeks, has been sold by one private equity firm to another for £42m. Maplin sells components through catalogue, 59 shop and the Internet. Turnover last year was £52.5m. The selling company was Saltire and the buyer is a new company backed by Graphite Capital and funded by the Bank of Scotland. ®
Drew Cullen, 19 Jun 2001

PSINet is the Alexander McQueen trousers of the Net market

Business decision makers are feeling a "renewed sense of optimism in the beleaguered technology sector", according to a straw poll conducted by PSINet UK at a recent Internet exhibition. By eck, what would PSINet Inc in the US - which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - give for such an upbeat assessment? It would probably chew its own arm off for news like that. Still, despite all the gloom, it's good to see PSINet putting such a brave face on things and trying to talk-up the market. According to its "straw poll" 83 per cent of those questioned are confident IT spending will increase significantly in the next 12 months, while only six per cent felt there was any chance of a further spending decline. Those quizzed were confident that broadband access in the home is "just around the corner" for Britain and that mobile Internet applications will be the next big technology for UK businesses. Believe as little or as much of this as you like. ® Related Stories 'CRM - the little black dress of IT'
Tim Richardson, 19 Jun 2001