23rd > July > 2001 Archive

AntiOffline founder reports to Club Fed

Jesus Oquendo, aka Sil, who maintains the quirky site AntiOffline, has been convicted of computer trespass and eavesdropping and sentenced to 27 months in a minimum security federal jail and ordered to pay $96,385 in restitution. He reports on Monday to serve his time. Oquendo maintains his innocence, and says he turned down a plea offer of only six months in order to sue his case in court. The trial went poorly for him, and the jury found him guilty on both charges. The trouble began last year, shortly after the company he worked for, Collegeboardwalk.com, went bust. The company shared office space and network resources with one of its investors, Manhattan venture capital outfit Five Partners Asset Management. According to the government's case, he used his access via Collegeboardwalk to alter Five Partners' system to send its password file to an e-mail dump which he controlled. Using a sniffer, he was able to obtain the password of a Five Partners employee who had an account on another system belonging to Manhattan computer wholesaler RCS Computer Experience. The government says Oquendo used that user's login information to break into the RCS network, grabbed the pass file, and deleted the company database, leaving the message: "Hello, I have just hacked into your system. Have a nice day." Oquendo says that his ISP gave testimony which made it clear that he hadn't been on line at the time of the break in, and further that the prosecutor never established that he was the one who set up the e-mail dump. The jury got confused by lengthy government testimony, he says, and was unable to understand it clearly enough to question it effectively. He says the prosecutor, Robert Strang, was an absolute prick who did everything is his power to multiply his difficulties. He has high praise for Judge Loretta Preska, however, who he characterizes as completely impartial. He could have received five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two charges. The judge imposed the minimum sentences, and recommended him for the more commodious minimum security facility. We've enjoyed AntiOffline's special blend of security/hacking news, political criticism and satire for quite some time. Oquendo says that others involved with the site will continue to update it while he's in stir, where, he says, he plans to spend his time studying. ®
Thomas C Greene, 23 Jul 2001

Tiscali settles Globalnet suit with £500k pay-off

In October 1986, Jeffrey Archer, the disgraced Conservative politician, paid prostitute Monica £2000 for not sleeping with her; in July 2001, Tiscali, the leading ISP, paid Globalnet Financial £500,000 for its subsidiary World Online not fibbing over membership and page impression numbers. Globalnet Financial, the now moribund online financial information service, last month filed a £10m writ against Tiscali, claiming that World Online had failed to deliver promised 'eyeballs' to its continental European sites. Globalnet says it built a substantial overseas network on the back of assurances received from World Online. Tiscali has briefed The Financial Times over its decision to settle. "This was to avoid the costs asssociated with a protracted legal case...the claim was not well-founded", the company insists. Hmm. Half a million quid seems an extraordinarily high amount to pay to avoid a legal battle, doesn't it? It would have been very interesting to have compared and contrasted World Online's stated subscriber numbers and active users at the time of the Tiscali takeover last year. Any disappointment that Tiscali may have felt will surely have been tempered by the access it gained to World Online's huge cash pile, amassed in happier times through an albeit controversial IPO. Once upon a time, GlobalNet Financial had a pretty useful cash pile of its own. It has burned its way through this until there is now just enough money to pay for the closure of its web sites. New owner, the VC house New Media Spark is buying the business for shares it owns in other dotcom concerns (including New Media Spark). The half million pounds from Tiscali will come in handy in the financial re-engineering. Any sympathy that one may feel for Globalnet's treatment at the hands of World Online will be tempered by incredulity that the company squandered so much money on the back of a distribution deal with a decidedly flaky ISP. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jul 2001

Microsoft releases CE source code

Microsoft has made a portion of the Windows CE 3.0 available as 'shared source', as promised. Friday's announcement sees a new licence which has at the very least the virtue of simplicity. As we pointed out in May when Craig Mundie made this pledge, CE hardware manufacturers already have access to this code; so it's a deal with no net downside for Microsoft and it's bound to garner publicity. Commercial derivatives are a strict no-no, however. The only commercial use sanctioned by the licence is as a reference for Windows CE developers. But you're welcome to send bug-fixes back to Redmond, although we're not sure where lies the reciprocal benefit for developers. Since we thought that the whole of sharing source was to improve and embellish the code, this is a very token kind of sharing. A less cynical gesture might have seen Microsoft release the CE source and encourage prospective garage IHVs to port CE to new platforms. Then retrospectively bless the ports. But that falls under commercial use, doesn't it? We can't help making a comparison to Sun Microsystems much-maligned - often quite justifiably - approach to Java. For all its faults, Sun turns a blind eye to Java-compatible clones, notably HP's Chai. It isn't difficult to imagine how long a CE clone would survive. The source is a 5MB download, and a Passport account is required. ® Related Stories MS to tout 'shared source philosophy', compare GNU to bubble economy SIAA slams MS over open source claims Microsoft torches RMS, RMS torches Caldera Show us the source, then Mr Mundie - developers Readers: MS is the cancer
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

ARM scores with licensing deals

ARM's Q2 profits have jumped 23 per cent to £8.3 million; up from the £6.7 million it scored a year earlier. Sales climbed 56 per cent to £36 million, from 23.1 million for the same period last year. Customers licensing ARM's chip technology is the root of its strong results at a time when other semiconductor operations are finding it tough. Revenue from licenses brought in £18.5 million - 51 per cent of total sales. Eight existing customers bought upgraded chip designs, and seven new customers signed up. Chief financial officer Jonathan Brooks said: "With the forward visibility we get from our licensing business model, we remain confident about the outlook for our business for the remainder of the year." ® Related Stories Samsung revs 64-bit ARM, licenses Java ARM chips get maths and Java
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

SirCam virus hogs connections with spam

The SirCam mass mailing worm is becoming a major nuisance for Internet users as its numbers have steadily risen over the last week. Unlike other similar viruses, such as the Love Bug or Anna Kournikova worm, the outbreak of SirCam has not contained, and although it had a slow start it has now become easily the most common virus on the Internet. MessageLabs, a managed services firm which scans its clients email for malicious code, has intercepted 6941 copies of the bug from 2817 different email addresses. Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, said that the SirCam virus, which first appeared a week ago, was likely to rise throughout the week before peaking and gradually fading out. As previously reported, SirCam spreads itself as an attachment to email messages, and may in certain cases delete files from a victim's hard disk. SirCam is similar to the Magistr virus in its ability to arrive in an email with a random subject, body text and attachment name. However infected attachments contain a double extension, which gives users a clue that an email might contain a virus. The subject line of an email is the name of a file found on the sending PC. The attachment will carry the name of this document file, with a second extension such as COM, EXE, PIF, LNK. A document file is included in the executable that the worm mails, which means there is a possibility of confidential or embarrassing material being mailed out. The inclusion of a document means much larger emails than are currently spread by viruses will be created, which is having an impact on Internet performance even for those who aren't infected by the bug, but are still been deluged with unwanted emails. The worm contains its own SMTP routine which is used to send email messages to email addresses found in the Windows address book and the temporary internet folder, where cached internet files are kept. Because the virus has its own email engine copies of emails sent will not show up in a user's email client sent file. Antivirus vendors are in the process of updating their software to deal with the virus and, in most cases, the necessary protection is already in place. Users are also advised to delete any suspicious emails without opening them and to update their antiviral protection. ® External Links Write up on SirCam by Symantec Related Stories Privacy threatening worm on the loose Magistr continues three month reign as top virus Hardware-trashing virus spreads by email Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug Reports of death of email viruses greatly exaggerated? Rise in viruses within emails outpacing growth of email
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Infineon posts Q3 loss

Infineon Technologies today posted a loss of 371 million euros ($322.58 million) for the third quarter, warning it would stay in the red for the rest of its fiscal year. The loss for the three months ended June 30 compared to a profit of 266 million euros ($231.29 million) for the same period the previous year. Sales at the German semiconductor maker dropped 30 per cent to 1.28 billion euros ($1.11 billion). Infineon CEO Ulrich Schumacher said market conditions had deteriorated during the third quarter. "Our balanced product portfolio did not help to ease the current weakness in the memory market any longer," he said. "This dynamic development and the magnitude of the current downturn, especially in communications, was not expected." The company said there were no clear signs of the market recovering in the coming months, adding that it expected to post a loss for both the fourth quarter and for its financial year 2001. "Market conditions for memory products remain difficult," the outfit said in a statement. "Weak demand, especially in the PC market, has led to significantly higher inventory levels at memory producers. "Even though Infineon's inventory levels have stabilised towards the end of the quarter, the company expects a continued low price level for memory products during the next quarter." ® Related Link Infineon statement Related Stories Infineon raises $1.3bn Infineon Q3 sales slump 30% Infineon damages slashed
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Motorola changes face of mobile industry

Motorola has decided to sell its proprietary technology for 2.5 and 3G phones to rivals, threatening to change the face of the mobile industry forever. The company sold the idea to the FT as a natural step to how the PC market works, with a large number of companies competing on design, price and brand rather than the actual technology. Critics have suggested the move has more to do with Motorola's troubled finances. The company's semiconductor products division will henceforth sell its integration technology - chipset, software, development tools, reference design, test environments and type certification support - to third parties. "We see this as the beginning of a major discontinuity that parallels the PC industry in the early 1990s with the rise of the motherboard industry and major branded assemblers," said Fred Shlapak, Motorola VP and president of semiconductors. Whatever the reason behind it, the shift in strategy by one of the biggest mobile manufacturers (15 per cent of the market) has huge implications for other manufacturers and the mobile industry as a whole. It is hard to fault the logic behind the decision: all mobile handset manufacturers have released shaky figures this quarter, handset sales have dropped and there is a notable move toward outsourcing handset production. Handsets are also analogous these days, as demonstrated by the huge increase in marketing put behind new phones. What differentiates phones now is design and software. It therefore makes sense for a manufacturer to leave the black arts of selling to other companies and simply sell the technology. Motorola has said it expects to announce several deals in the next few months. And as if to confirm the change in the mobile market, Vodafone announced today that it has asked young British artists to design mobile phone logos that will be available to download at 36p a shot. And if any doubt remained about mobiles being far more than a practical device, phone cover company Comeleon has just won a £500,000 contract for a new phone cover featuring Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher. Motorola has chosen an interesting day to announce its new strategy. Its phone factory in Scotland is due to close today, with the loss of 3,100 workers. Motorola said three months ago it was shutting the factory thanks to the reduction in handset demand. A fortnight ago, Motorola posted a £163 million quarterly loss. It was the second loss-making quarter in a row and followed 16 years or profit making by the company. ® Related Story Motorola posts loss, declares war on Turks
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

E-economy bosses get higher salaries outside London

E-execs can expect smaller salaries for working in London than in other parts of the UK, a survey out today claims. In a bizarre twist of economics, senior managers in the 'new economy' are paid an average of 14 per cent more in areas outside the capital, according to research by management consultancy the Hay Group. While junior staffers can expect higher salaries in London, bosses of dotcoms and IT departments outside the city have seen their earnings rise by an average of 17 per cent in the last 18 months. Meanwhile, salaries for equivalent positions in London have fallen by an average of 5.5 per cent. Heads of e-commerce companies and departments based outside London can expect around £146,000 per year, with £115,000 base salary. Those in London can expect a higher base salary - £118,000 - but total earnings are lower at £141,000. In true form, the research contradicts findings from another survey, which found that London-based IT workers could demand far higher salaries than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. According to this survey by TMP Worldwide, IT directors in London earn 55 per cent more than the UK average for their position. ® Related Stories London still best place in UK to get rich Top IT execs suffer salary and benefit cuts
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

MS sells Expedia stake

Media company USA Networks said today it would buy a 75 per cent stake in travel dotcom Expedia. As part of the deal, Microsoft is to shift its 70 per cent stake in Expedia, or 33.7 million shares, to USA Networks. The amount paid for the online travel company was not disclosed. USA also plans to buy online travel outfit National Leisure Group, and to start a travel-related cable TV channel. In a separate announcement, Expedia said it expected to report that sales had more than doubled for the fourth quarter ended 30 June compared to the previous year. It also forecast a net loss of between $5.5 million and $7.5 million for the quarter. ® Related Link USA Networks statement Related Stories Expedia fails the IT test Lastminute flies high with Expedia UK
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Broadband delays costing US $500bn per year

The US is missing out on $500 billion per year through broadband delays. Just connecting half the country's households to high-speed Net access would be worth around £200 billion, according to a report out today from the Brookings Institution. Benefits would come from increased online home shopping, and e-service replacements for traditional phone and health services. Meanwhile, more broadband use would lead to increased demand for new or updated computers and Internet-related equipment - around 60 per cent of households in the US have a computer. This would add around $100 million to business, according to the study conducted by Brookings economist Bob Crandall and engineering consultant Charles Jackson. These estimates for the potential value of broadband are "based on the assumption that broadband evolves its 'luxury' status into a household necessity over time," the survey states. Half of all US houses currently have residential Internet connections, while less than eight per cent have broadband. ® Related Link The $500bn opportunity: The Potential Economic Benefit of Widespread Diffusion of Broadband Internet Access Related Stories Americans have broadband - at work Broadband only good for porn
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Car boot software seller arrested after raid

Trading Standards has been on the warpath over pirated software again, this time probing the underground world of car booting*. A TS swoop at Sunday's car boot sale in Tensely, Derbyshire, netted more than 2,700 items of counterfeit goods worth an estimated £60,000, according to the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA). The goods were seized from seven sellers, and one person was arrested. According to the press release, Derbyshire Trading Standards had been "conducting covert visits to the car boot sale over a number of weeks". "Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Trading Standards officers displayed tenacity, skill and professionalism," said Terry Anslow, ELSPA chief investigating officer. "ELSPA on behalf of its membership applaud the stance taken by Derbyshire County Council. This style of enforcement sends out a clear message to anyone tempted to become involved in this illegal activity, of the probable consequences," he added. Trading Standards warned it would be making regular visits to markets and car boot sales "to protect the public from poor quality counterfeit copies and to ensure fair competition for the many reputable traders in the county who market legitimate products." ® * For those unfamiliar with the delights of car boot sales, they are a gathering of people, usually found very early on Sunday mornings, who sell to the public whatever they can pack into the boot/trunk of their car. Related Stories Trading Standards stomp on pirates Choco-coated insect sales challenge Trading Standards Major UK software pirates found guilty
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Dell chops UK PC warranties

Dell has quietly chopped two years off its PC warranties in the UK. Until last week, Dell customers got a three-year warranty - comprising one year on-site and two years collect and return - as standard when they bought a Dell consumer desktop. But this has been reduced to a one-year collect and return warranty for UK and Ireland shoppers. The changes were made to keep Dell in line with rivals such as Tiny Computers and Gateway, according to the company's consumer brand manager in the UK Steve Duignan. Tiny offers a one-year return and collect policy, while Gateway has a one-year on-site warranty. "The consumers that we were selling to didn't appreciate the second and third years," said Duignan. "We've been looking at what people do and don't value." In exchange for the reduced warranty, Dell claims to have chopped its prices - its consumer Dimension 4100 PCs, with 1GHz, 128Mb, 20GB hard drive, 15-inch monitor and Windows ME, cost £639 in June. In July the price was cut to £579. The company is also throwing in a printer on systems bought this week. But for customers wanting a three-year warranty, there are two options - both more expensive than the previous deal. A three year collect and return policy from Dell will now set punters back an extra £79, while the three year next business day on site warranty costs £99. Take into account the system's July price cut (£60), and customers wanting the basic three year warranty for a Dimension 4100 will pay £19 more - and the offer includes no on-site service, unlike the warranty package before July. "We're not out to make the systems more expensive," said Duignan. "We are offering better value than we were in June." Countries outside the UK still offer the three-year warranty, but Dell said it was reviewing the situation. "I would think they will start to roll out the one-year warranties, but they will have to make the decision in local countries," said Duignan. ® Related Stories Dell is ditching 275 UK and Irish staff PC Lemons truth revealed
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

The Times they are a chargin'

The Times and Sunday Times are planning to charge for content on their Web sites, making them the first UK newspapers to attempt a subscription model. Starting off quietly by charging £10 a year for access to the Times crossword, various "premium" services will gradually be introduced, each complete with a subscription fee. The paper has said it has no plans to charge for basic content, pulled straight off the paper and put on the site, but it will probably go for the model used by others that require you to sign up for archived stories i.e. stories more than a week or month old. Then it'll stick a fee on it. News International - the company that owns both papers as well as the Sun and News of the World - is hoping to make some money back from its disastrous forays in the Internet market. However, it is helped by the fact that the Times' search engine is excellent and the paper retains at least some of its tradition as a paper of record. It seems unlikely News International's tabloid sites will follow suit (why would you want to pay to read a story about a woman that got her head stuck in a bucket and her husband thought she was a burglar from back in 1993?) A spokeswoman for the papers did accept that readers would migrate elsewhere but felt that many would stay loyal. She then mentioned the word "brand", so we stopped listening. The Times site currently gets about one million unique users a month. The reason why this is interesting though is that no one has tried it before. Of course, the widely quoted examples of subscriptions are the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. The WSJ has made a success of its subscription model but then that's because businesses cough up the fee rather than individuals. Our pet theory is also that people pay for it so they don't have to try to read the bloody thing. It's one of the few publications in existence that is actually eminently more readable on the Net than it is on paper. As for the Economist, well that's a weekly and contains a huge array of extremely useful facts and figures. Its model has to be entirely different to a national newspaper's. If it's a success, we will suddenly see a lot more of it as the FT, Guardian and Daily Telegraph dive in there. Ain't it good to see new Internet business models still developing? ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

FTC to investigate Web's biggest search engines

A complaint has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission in the US against the Web's biggest search engines by a consumer watchdog group, Commercial Alert MSN, Netscape, HotBot, Lycos, Altavista, LookSmart, Directhit (owned by Ask Jeeves) and iWon have all been accused of "deceptive advertising". Commercial Alert claims that the failure of search engines to make clear that many of the top-listed search results thrown out come from paying customers is equivalent to posting "ads in disguise". It's no secret - at least not to those within the industry - that search engines will give preferential treatment to sites that pay them money. It's similar to Yellow Pages and such like. However, Commercial Alert claims that most surfers are unaware of this and are therefore being misled. "Search engines have become central in the quest for learning and knowledge in our society. The ability to skew the results in favour of hucksters without telling consumers is a serious problem," said Gary Ruskin, the group's executive director. He's got a point (even though we're not entirely sure what he means by 'hucksters'). Okay, he may be getting a little carried away with the righteous indignation, but it is fair to assume that most people would expect search engines to work objectively. We do work objectively, the search engines that have responded to journalists' questions have said. Any results from fee-paying customers are clearly labelled "featured" or "partner" sites. And often, the fee-paying sites are listed separately (although always above the real search results). So this is a case of how clearly labelled a paid-for site ought to be. It's an argument worth having, especially since more paid-for results appear to pop up every few months. And going to the FTC straight off should sort the issue out as fast as possible. We'd be for a contained box of search results for paid-for sites. A different colour and a clear label on the box saying something like, well, "partner sites", why not? Then stick the real results further down. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Online music to rocket; AOL wants to be at controls

The online music market is set to rocket at the rate of 43 per cent a year, making it worth $6.2 billion (£4.4 billion) by 2006, according to Jupiter Media Matrix. And, unsurprisingly, AOL-Time Warner wants to be sitting right in the middle of it. Jupiter reckons subscription services rather than downloads will be the future of online music, and online music as a whole will account for 32 per cent of all music sales in 2006. AOL will be happy with that crystal-ball gazing as it announces its online plans today. The corporate giant is setting up the AOL Artist Discovery Network, a subscription-based service, that will contain music from a range of music labels and not just those owned by AOL-Time Warner. It will also go into detail about its Internet radio programme Radio@AOL. Both these will of course link in with MusicNet, the initiative set up by it and other music groups that wish to wean people off the free Napster model and get you paying for their artists. One of those in on the MusicNet subscription model, Vivendi, today announced better-than-expected second-quarter results. Turnover was up 16 per cent to £4.03 billion and earnings up 57 per cent to £800 million. Not that any of this came from Internet music companies. But it does demonstrate that the vast media conglomerates looking to take over the online music market are in rude health. Also, AOL-Time Warner is expected to announce today that it will buy UK magazine publisher IPC for £1.1 billion. The two have been arguing for months over the exact figure, which has swayed between £1.0 billion and £1.3 billion. Seeing as it will mostly likely come out as £1.1 billion, it looks like AOL got the upper hand. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Tosh punts out Pocket PC PDA

Toshiba has come out with two models of its Pocket PC PDA. The Genio e550 has 32MB of main memory, and comes with two expansion slots - an SD slot for the Secure Digital Input-Output card and SD memory card; and a CF-II slot for compact flash cards. The high-end Genio e550/MD also comes with a 1GB Microdrive. The Genio e550 will be launched in Japan on 20 August priced at about $560 (70,000 yen). The Genio e550/MD will follow at the end of September and cost around $800. The goodies should hit the US in the Autumn. The pair will be on show at Wireless Japan 2001, Tokyo International Exhibition Centre, from July 17 to July 19, 2001. ® Related Stories MS scratches Compaq's back by restricting PocketPC licences Microsoft PocketPC racks up 1m sales in first year Related Link Toshiba Genio press release
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

Intel's Desktop Roadmap

UpdatedUpdated So how will Intel's decision, announced yesterday but expected for a week or so, affect its desktop roadmap? As yet, precise details of Intel's new roadmap haven't leaked out of the company, but we expect it to be pretty close to our current expectations, outlined below. Intel's fastest desktop PIIIs, the 1.13GHz and 1.2GHz 0.13 micron Tualatin parts were expected to be launched next month, and since both are already turning up in Japanese retailers' stores, we reckon Intel is sticking to its previous course. All that will happen now is that the parts will be phased out by the end of Q4, rather than the end of Q1 2001. We've seen no more precise a timetable for the 2GHz P4 than Q3, but we now expect it to appear sooner rather than later, with its probably timed to get it into back-to-school PCs. At the very least, we expect it to ship in time to get on Windows XP upgraders' shopping lists. Windows XP will ship in October. We've heard hints, but nothing concrete, that the 2GHz and 2.2GHz 0.13 micron P4s might appear before November. We've also heard that the 1GHz Celeron may arrive sooner than previously planned too. As soon as we hear more, we'll let you know. ® August 2001 ·1.13, 1.2GHz Pentium III - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 133MHz FSB Q3 2001 ·1.9GHz, 2GHz Pentium 4 - 0.18 micron, 256KB L2 November 2001 ·2, 2.2GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood Q4 2001 ·950MHz Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine, 100MHz FSB Q1 2002 ·1GHz Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine, 100MHz FSB Q2 2002 ·2.4GHz Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood ·1GHz+ Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 100MHz FSB Related Story Intel: desktop Pentium III to die before year-end Intel's Mobile Roadmap
Tony Smith, 23 Jul 2001

Mustek GSmart 300

ReviewReview Mustek is best known for making flatbed scanners, but it's been branching out lately, launching a range of projectors, a DVD player and now a webcam, the GSmart 300. The GSmart 300 is a sleek, silver unit that can also be used as a digital camera. Once you've taken your snaps, you can plug the camera into your PC via the USB connection to download your photos. The camera can take low-resolution stills at 320x240dpi (dots per inch) and high-resolution stills at 640x480dpi. For such a low-resolution camera, pictures bristled with detail - although the colours were somewhat muted. Picture quality surprised us considering the number of large number of images the GSmart can store: we snapped 162 low resolution stills in one go with a CompactFlash card installed. However, the 4MB card is not sold with the camera, leaving you with just 1MB of memory as standard. The sacrifices made in order to keep the price low also extend to the software bundle. Though PhotoExpress is handy for editing your photos, the GSmart lacks a tool for recording and viewing video clips. When we tested the GSmart with Microsoft NetMeeting, video capture was perfectly smooth - although images were quite dark. The webcam captures high-resolution video clips at 15fps (frames per second) and low resolution clips at 30fps. However, it can't record video when disconnected from your PC, placing it at a disadvantage against competitors such as Kodak's EZ200. Neither does it have the facility to record sound. This is a handy, cheap little camera for taking quick snaps. Pictures were highly detailed but too dark, with muted colours. Unfortunately, Mustek has lowered the specification too much in order to keep the price low – particularly in the memory and software departments. ® Info Price: £79 Contact: 0870 01 32 017 Website: www.mustek.com Specs Max resolution: 640x480dpi Memory: 1MB Max resolution: 640x480dpi (VGA), 320x240dpi (QVGA) Video frame rate: 30fps (320x240), 15fps (640x480) Other: Auto exposure, mini USB Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 23 Jul 2001
server room

Tru64 tweaks come with intro of 1GHz Alpha

Compaq has begun shipping a 1GHz version of its Alpha EV68 processor in its GS series of AlphaServers. The widely-anticipated introduction to the market of 1GHz copper-whoppers from Big Q is accompanied by enhancements to Tru64 Unix that allow the operating system that allow users the ability to mix 64-bit CPU speeds within a single system. Improved workload management and support for online add-and-replacement of processors has also been added. Compaq also said that its low-end AlphaServer DS Series systems would now be available with an 833 MHz, 64-bit Alpha part. If you forget that Compaq's deal with Intel means that Alpha will be sent to swim with the fishes in two years time, it all looks like good stuff for Compaq's technical computing customers, of which there are many including the people who cracked the human genome on Alpha boxes. In the more mainstream enterprise space, Compaq announced a lower cost for a certified configuration that delivers an AlphaServer ES40 Tru64 Unix cluster running Oracle9i Real Applications Clusters (RAC). Again this is attractive but for all the talk of investment protection from Compaq, we have to point out that Big Q is asking customers to buy into a technology that the firm itself is abandoning in order to jump aboard the good ship Itanic. The Alpha enhancements seem like the microprocessor equivalent of adding an extension to the Millennium Dome, and this sentiment - and not the blazingly fast performance of the processor (TPC-C benchmarks of 230,533 transactions per minute) - is likely to be what really counts in the market. We're sure this is a point IBM sales reps, who we understand are in the process of trying to pinch supercomputing business from Compaq, will doubtless be making. For the record the 1GHz Alpha chip, which is made using a 0.18-micron copper manufacturing process, is now available for eight-way AlphaServer GS80, 16-way GS160 and 32-way GS320 machines. GS80 systems start at $95,000, while an entry level GS160 will set you back $255,000 and AlphaServer GS320 systems start at $565,000. AlphaServer DS Series systems with the 833 MHz Alpha processor start at $15,400. Of far greater significance to Compaq in the future is its announcement of its first server based on Intel's Itanium processor, the ProLiant DL590/64. Of course these are just for development but a line from the press release that the servers "will also be a critical platform for accelerating the porting of Compaq Tru64 UNIX, OpenVMS and NonStop Kernel environments to Itanium", shows you which way the wind is blowing. ® External Links Compaq blazes trail with first 64-Bit ProLiant server Compaq ships AlphaServer systems with industry's first 64-Bit, 1 GHz processor Related stories: Orphans of Compaq's Alphacide bolt for the exit Compaq Itanic strategy replacing 'Porsche with a Yugo' say users Don Capellas justifies Compaq Alphacide Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter Alpha chip powers Celera genome burst
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Buying Windows 98? Try a Linux for Idiots Guide too

Catalogue reseller Action Computers has decided that people thinking about purchasing Windows 98 from it would do well to consider Linux instead. On a page on its site describing Windows 98, Action lists Liberty Linux for Dummies Quick Reference manual and an Idiot's Guide to Linux by Que as related items a Windows 98 shopper might want to buy. These guides, unlike Windows 98 itself, are only available from Action's back order catalogue, so buyers would have to wait over a week after getting Microsoft's operating system before getting clued up on open source. By contrast Windows 98 can be yours for the princely sum of £113.89 (plus postage and packing) in just three days. Interesting no guides or applications related to Windows 98 are included on Action's catalogue page, which we suspect was put up as a subtle piece of subversion by a Linux fan. On the other hand, the developer who wrote a description of requirement for hardware on which to run the operating system (486DX/66MHz or higher processor, 24MB RAM, installation requiring between 205-260MB) might have had a moment of revelation, and turned into a Linux zealot. Mind you the rest of the blurb on the page praises the Internet features of Windows 98, so that's probably not it. ® Thanks to Reg reader Ed Lea for spotting it. Related Link Action Computers Windows 98 product information Related Stories Steven Norris joins IT spin doctors Redundancies at Datrontech
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Hackers run amok during Defcon

Hackers attending the annual Defcon hacker convention started as they meant to go on with one group embarking on a prolific defacement spree that claimed the scalps of 679 sites in just one minute. In the run-up to the Vegas conference, cracking group World of Hell defaced a host of sites including computercrime.edu, various commercial sites and the home page of Latino singer Ricky Martin and a page featuring images of supermodel Kate Moss. A record of the defacements has been mirrored by Safemode.org here. The Web admins of most of the sites repaired them, but RaFa of WoH reports that few applied patches to secure servers, so sites were just as vulnerable the following day. Paul Rogers, network security analyst at MIS corporate Defence, said the servers exploited used both IIS and Apache, suggesting the defacement was quite carefully planned and probably used a script that ran a number of exploits at once at servers already identified as vulnerable. Hacking so many sites at once (if RaFa is to be believed) was probably a case of WoH trying to put one up on their counterparts, since it no longer seems to be much of an achievement outfoxing a Web admin. By the Saturday of Defcon, World of Hell were obviously getting bored and RaFa reports that "Cowhead2000 of WoH, Rat of soldierx (arrested), Floyd and v0id got busted" for prizing a gold pay phone off the wall at the Defcon conference. You can see a picture of this here. Perhaps the group were annoyed that a record of their defacement wasn't recorded for posterity. Defacement archive Alldas.de reports that it has been subject to another distributed denial of service attack over the weekend. The tone of a story on its site is one of glum resignation. "The core routers had to handle traffic of like 600mbit, which was obviously too much. Our upstream provider decided to nullroute us, due to this practically nobody was able to visit us or send us mail," a notice on the site states. Alldas is now considering moving ISP but it places no blame for its recent difficulties on its service provider, and tries to appeal to the better natures of its tormentors. "We could use this time in a better way then solving these kind of problems, like enhancing our stats - obviously someone doesn't like that," the notice states. "We're not dead... yet." The unavailability of Alldas.de meant that the defacement of a high profile security organisation went relatively unnoticed. A cracker called Fluffi Bunni defaced the Web site of the Sans (System Administration, Networking, and Security) Institute and posed the question "would you really trust these guys to teach you security." Sans has changed ISP since the attack indicating that it, at least, thinks the fault lies there, but the question Fluffi Bunni posed will give pause for thought among security professionals long after Defcon 9 is a distant memory. There aren't any easy answers to this one... ® Related Stories Alldas defaced! Alldas.de told to look for another home Cowboy cracker nails Apache Linux worm attempts to take over insecure servers MS security chief talks raw sockets with the Reg
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

AMD grabs 50% of top vendors' consumer desktops

Top PC vendors reckon AMD has grabbed around half of their consumer desktop market from Intel. Around 50 per cent of all Compaq consumer desktops are currently based on AMD chips, and half on Intel. It is a similar story at IBM, with representatives saying AMD is gaining ground in the consumer PC market. Around 50 per cent of Big Blue's consumer desktop systems run on AMD chips. Neither Compaq nor IBM have any business PCs or laptops based on AMD processors. Hewlett-Packard said that six out of its 20 consumer models launching for the summer are based on AMD. HP Pavilion product manager Mark Bony said AMD was eating into Intel's market share due to the chipmaker's "competitive" processors. "Cost is just one element," said Bony. "It's also performance and the type of products it offers." However Tiny Computers is seeing things differently. It ditched AMD at the end of May to become a 100 per cent Intel-based system vendor once again. It felt following Intel's P4 roadmap was the way to go. Dell is the only major vendor that remains 100 per cent Intel. Meanwhile, AMD in June said it was on track to grab 30 per cent of the world chip market by the end of this year. ® Related Stories AMD Q2 sales fall 16% Dell gets curious about AMD merits AMD 'on track' for 30% marketshare, claims exec Tiny Computers ditches AMD
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

HP moves towards molecular-scale computing

Hewlett-Packard has said its been awarded a key patent that could remove a major obstacle to making molecular-scale computing a reality. This is what HP says about it: The patent, issued by the U.S. Patent Office earlier this month to HP Labs scientists Phil Kuekes and Stan Williams, proposes a solution to the problem of connecting molecular-scale devices to today's much larger integrated circuits. "We have a strategy to reinvent the integrated circuit with molecular rather than semiconductor components," said Williams, director of quantum science research, HP Labs. "We've received two key patents and have several more pending that we believe will eventually enable computers to be millions of times more efficient than they are today." HP says it is pursuing molecular electronics as an entirely new technology that could augment silicon-based integrated circuits within the decade and eventually replace traditional solid-state memories. It believes silicon technology will reach key physical and economic limits by about 2012. "Once you've built a circuit from molecular-scale devices -- something about the size of a bacterium -- the question is how you get data into and out of it," said Kuekes, computer architect and senior scientist, HP Labs. "In order to do that, you have to bridge the size gap between molecular-scale wires and current technology, which is about a hundred times bigger." Tiny wires in today's integrated circuits are addressed through a device called a demultiplexer. However, building a demultiplexer requires an extremely precise, very complex pattern of connections. Since it would be virtually impossible to make such precise connections with molecular-scale wires, the new patent proposes making connections randomly using a chemical process. The resulting pattern can then be determined using computer algorithms. "We've essentially created a city of streets crossed by avenues, but they're so tiny we can't paint the street signs," said Kuekes. "Instead, we have a chemical process that gives each street and avenue a unique name. Then we run a program that identifies all the thoroughfares by their names and enables us to create a map of the city. Once you have that map, you can store and retrieve information at any intersection." HP and its partners at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), expect to be able to fabricate a 16Kb memory using this approach by 2005. The work is being funded by a four-year, $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a $13.2 million investment from HP. The new patent builds on one awarded in October 2000 that described a method for building a memory device from switchable molecules sandwiched between grids of nanometer-scale wires. That patent, awarded to Williams, Kuekes and UCLA Professor of chemistry James Heath, was named one of the top five patents of the year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology journal Technology Review. In addition to the work described in that patent, the HP and UCLA collaboration also has demonstrated that molecular-scale electronic switches and the wires to connect them -- "nanowires" that are 6 to 10 atoms wide and 2 atoms tall -- can actually be made. Researchers from HP and UCLA are now working on fabricating circuits from these components. ® Related Link HP release - which we've copied
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

Oops! Leaked WinXP code contains valid product key

The latest WinXP RC1 leak makes the security of Microsoft's preview program download look feeble enough, but it turns out there's more - somebody seems to have left a working product key not very deeply buried in the iso. Naturally that product key will cease to work for Product Activation just as soon as Microsoft realises what happened (which is around now), but it does mean that anybody who got to the unauthorised download link has the capability to install the software. Then they can either just run it for two weeks until it times out, or hunt around until they find a crack that'll do service. Alternatively, if they're really quick and Microsoft doesn't already have the key on the death list, it may do service for a couple more hours. The key itself is in a sample unattended install file that ships with the preview program edition. Almost all of the data has been replaced by generic entries, but it looks like somebody slipped up when it came to the key. Back at the leakface, RC1 leak two has now been plugged; it's possible that Conxion has done this via some means other than changing the filename, but don't count on it. Our sources, however, claim that there's already a third route to free RC1 - we'll attempt to confirm that later in the day. One source puts forward a plausible explanation for Microsoft's and Conxion's embarrassment; he blames Microsoft's download manager. This, he claims, doesn't retain any username/password combinations. "It is just queued files for download." So if you hit on the right filename to pass to the download manager, you ought to be able to get a free copy of anything that uses this procedure. The system's used for beta programs, and for MSDN, the latter being the developer program which gives you early access to practically all code in exchange for a whacking annual subscription. If our source's theory is correct, Microsoft could therefore have a whacking security problem on its hands... ® Related Stories New MS-Conxion leak allows WinXP RC1 free download WinXP RC1download leak is Preview Program code
John Lettice, 23 Jul 2001

KIllustrator now called Kontour

The Linux based drawing program KIllustrator is now known as "Kontour". We wrote yesterday that the program's author Dr Kai-Uwe Sattler, and the University of Magdeburg which employs him, were on the end of a stiff letter from a legal firm demanding they stop using the KIllustrator name as it damaged the reputation of Adobe's similarly named product, Illustrator. Worse still the lawyers demanded that the University pay $2000 to cover their costs As its name suggests, KIllustrator is similar to Adobe's famous program, but it has been developed as part of K Office, an Office-like suite of programs for KDE user interface running over Linux. Sattler told the lawyers that he would change the product's name to avoid any confusion with Adobe's Illustrator, but did not want to pay someone else's legal bills. The legal letter came from Reinhard Skuhra Weise and Partner, a German patent law firm. Adobe seemed to be as unhappy as Dr Sattler about the tone of the letter and it is possible that this is because Adobe had not hired the law firm to do this job. It seems that in Germany law firms can write cease and desist letters to businesses they think are infringing another company's trademarks, without being employed by the latter, and demand payment from the company on the receiving end of the letter. Apparently some law firms make a good living at this. ® Reader Florian Gleisner has written in with an explanation of the set up in Germany. I just thought I'd comment on the "cease and desist" letter thing. In German it's called "Abmahnung" and is basically (when not abused) a means by which companies can protect their trademarks. Several law firms in Germany have taken up the business of writing "Abmahnungen" to anyone who earns money with a product that can somehow be construed to infringe on somebody else's copyright. The cost for these notices, usually linked with a desist order which costs a fixed amount of money each time a (further) breach can be proven, is payable by the offending party. So far so good. Like any good professional, some lawyers are doing two things a) work smarter not harder and b) charge on an individual basis, i.e. they pick on many small businesses with no legal department and they keep their victims separate and charge each one for receiving such a letter. In German law you are not supposed to do this, you are supposed to charge the first one, then if further breaches occur (by other people) you send them a letter and you can charge them for p&p. This, as you'd imagine doesn't stop them from doing a) and b). Recently a society for the protection of consumers (GDSI) has "abgemahnt" several companies for wanting too much personal information for sending out newsletters and, while quite true, charged everyone about 400 quid for the privilege. In a rather ironic development, they were then struck from the register of societies who can "abmahn" because they have commercial interests and shouldn't have been on the register (no pun intended) in the first place. Oh, also your not supposed to use lawyers and charge costs, ie. "abmahn" people who are clearly private people and earn no money from whatever infringement may be there (especially when they woulda taken it (the offending bit) off the net or whatever, anyway). A lot more info can be had from www.advograf.de - (the linked to page is in German). Related Story Adobe's legal attack dogs savage open source KIllustrator
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

WinXP product activation cracked: totally, horribly, fatally

Since Microsoft introduced Windows Product Activation (WPA) the crackers have gone through a series of WinXP beta builds, finding new ways to at least circumvent the protection system. But now, taking an entirely different approach, Germany's Tecchannel has demonstrated that WPA as shipped in RC1 is full of gaping holes, and can be fooled almost completely. Tecchannel's report available in English here, or in German here) demonstrates that WPA can be compromised via numerous hardware-related routes; it all centres on the file wpa.dbl, which WinXP keeps in the system32 directory. This file stores information on the nature of the hardware at the time of activation, and when Windows XP notices more than three items of hardware have changed, it deletes it. Then you need to activate again. You'll also, Tecchannel notes, need to activate immediately if you installed more than 30 days (or 14 with RC1) ago, as that's when the clock starts ticking. This, incidentally, is also the case if you do a 'repair' to fix a bust system - not exactly friendly. So first of all Tecchannel saved the file then started changing hardware. Two items OK, but replacing a third - the CPU - triggered the deletion. Although you'd think the CPU is only one component, it's actually tallied up as two. Switching off the CPU serial number in the bios and therefore knocking it down to one doesn't get the earlier wpa.dbl back - this has been restored in a non-activated state. Copy the saved version back? That surely shouldn't work - but it does. Next, Tecchannel tried a completely new installation using the same product key. This produces a new product ID, but nevertheless copying the wpa.dbl file back again works. They also use this file on another computer, altering the computer's volume ID first, which is easily enough done. They can also use forged network cards MAC addresses, so now they've taken two parts of the hardware ID out of the picture. Next, use the hardware profile to tell the computer it's a notebook with a docking station. This works, and tells WPA to stop counting the IDE/SCSI controller and the graphics card. That gets the differences counted down to three, hard disk, CPU and CDROM ID, which is within the limit, so WPA is effectively toast. What does this mean? Tecchannel's investigation shows that, at the very least, you can use the same wpa.dbl file to activate as many computers as you like, provided the RAM size is the same. A 'universal' file that didn't even require the same RAM might be a possibility, but it's more likely that people will simply swap files to get one appropriate for their hardware. If Microsoft doesn't change WPA before WinXP ships, then it's pointless. But changing it when RC2 is looming, and when the holes are so obviously huge, would be difficult. So farewell then, Windows Product Activation - for the moment? ®
John Lettice, 23 Jul 2001

Adobe's legal attack dogs savage open source KIllustrator

Adobe's carefully cultivated 'nice guy' image has been found lacking in Germany. This is thanks to its law firm which is charging people on Adobe's behalf for the privilege of getting a stiff legal letter, writes Paul Nesbitt. Adobe is demanding that a German professor and part time open source programmer stop using the name KIllustrator as the brand for his Linux-based drawing program. KIllustrator was written by Dr Kai-Uwe Sattler, as part of a project at the University of Magdeburg, which employs him. As its name suggests, KIllustrator is similar to Adobe's famous Illustrator program, but it has been developed as part of K Office, an Office-like suite of programs for KDE user interface running over Linux. Adobe does not currently offer a version of Illustrator, or indeed any of its products, to run on Linux. Late last month Reinhard Skuhra Weise and Partner, a German patent law firm working for Abobe sent the University of Magdeburg, a letter demanding that KIllustrator's name be changed. The letter claimed that KIllustrator's branding damaged the reputation of Adobe's similarly named product. However the lawyers' approach was heavy handed: according to Sattler the letter also demanded that the University withdraw KIllustrator, provide a list of everyone who acquired a copy, and produce details of any money made from the product. This is an open-source free of charge program, remember. Worse still the lawyers demanded that the University pay $2000 to cover their costs. That's right, the lawyers, supposedly hired by Adobe, were demanding that the person receiving their cease and desist letter, pay for the privilege. Sattler told them that he would change the product's name to avoid any confusion with Adobe's Illustrator, but did not want to pay someone else's legal bills. Nor would he abandon the (renamed) KIllustrator program. Sattler said he was surprised that Adobe had not tried to contact him before sending such a hostile legal letter. However the German lawyers rejected Sattler's initial suggestion that he simply change his product's name and in a rather pouting letter, asked him: "Do you know any lawyer who works for nothing?" Just to hurry things on in the all important "lawyers must get paid" department they added the threat of a $400,000 (1 million DM) lawsuit. Not surprisingly such legalistic pugilism has not made Adobe greatly loved in the open source/Linux community. This probably doesn't matter directly to the graphics leviathan, but you never know when you might need some good karma in the Unix/Linux world, especially when Microsoft finally comes looking for you with 'Graphic Office 1.0'. Perhaps as a result, Adobe has softened its tone. At the very least they have called off their legal rottweiler, which it seems may have been acting in a somewhat maverick manner. Reinhard Skuhra et al refuse to talk to the press about the matter and, perhaps tellingly, declined to confirm that they working directly on Adobe's orders. Maybe that's why they wanted their victim to pay the bill? If so, that's quite a business model for any budding law company to aspire to. An Adobe spokeswoman admitted that 'the matter was not handled the way that Adobe intended. This is, as you know, not the way Adobe works,' a senior PR told The Reg. "Adobe's primary interest in this issue is to protect its trademark rights and goodwill associated with its Illustrator product. Adobe has no intention of requiring Dr. Sattler to cease distribution of his product or pay Adobe any fees, only to change the name of his software," she said. "We have contacted Dr. Sattler and are committed to working out an amicable solution to this," she added. "It seems that we will find an agreement and I think we will change the name of KIllustrator. However, at the moment the lawyers are still negotiating," a somewhat wearied Sattler told The Reg. ® Related Stories Adobe on Apple: It's a family thing Adobe freezing out Apple's Mac OS X? Adobe latest to enforce compulsory vacation
Our correspondent, 23 Jul 2001

eBook security debunker arrested by Feds

A Russian security expert has been arrested after making a presentation at Defcon pointing out the shortcomings of eBook security. Dmitry Sklyarov, of Russian software company ElcomSoft, and author of Advanced eBook Processor, which removes restrictions on reading and printing from encrypted PDF files, was arrested for alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. According to an item on ElcomSoft's site, Sklyarov is being held a Las Vegas prison pending judgement on a motion filled by Adobe in California. Adobe has objected to the publication of the software and a presentation, entitled "eBook Security: Theory and Practice", that Sklyarov made at Defcon, the annual hacker's convention in Las Vegas. Last month Adobe updated its Acrobat eBook Reader software in response to the release, by ElcomSoft, of its password recovery software. This wasn't good enough, according to ElcomSoft, which claims Adobe's basic methodology is still flawed. "The protection in Acrobat eBook Reader 2.2 has not been improved at all. The changes are minimal, and exactly the same (weak) encryption is being used," said ElcomSoft, who backed up its claims by releasing an updated version of its password cracking software. After that relations between the two firms deteriorated still further. Planetebook reports that in late June Adobe's Anti-Piracy Enforcement Team sent a letter to ElcomSoft requesting that sales of Advanced eBook Processor cease within five days. Adobe also reportedly contacted Elcomsoft's ISP and tried to persuade it to pull the plug on the Elcomsoft Web site, a move that only temporarily worked. For its part ElcomSoft said that Abode would do better to fix the problems with its software than label other firms as agents in software piracy. "We claim that by aggressively pushing standards, unapproved by professional cryptologists, to the fast growing electronic books market and with pursuing of independent researchers who tries to highlight the problems, Adobe Systems violates the rights of books authors and publishers." ® External Links ElcomSoft Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader updated after security issue eBook security: theory and practice presentation Related stories: WinXP product activation cracked: totally, horribly, fatally Adobe's legal attack dogs savage open source KIllustrator
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Napster appeal deadline set

Napster has until 9 August to appeal against US District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's ruling that it must stay offline until it can block every track that it's not permitted to allow on its network. Napster reckons its filtering system is more than 99 per cent effective, but Judge Patel insisted that it ensure that no copyright song falls through the net. Napster reckons that's to all intents and purposes impossible, and wants the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow it back on line as it is. Not that it's likely to find itself with many users when it returns. The company's decision to abandon the MP3 format in favour of a new, proprietary system of its own isn't going to win the backing of music fans, though we're sure the music industry is pleased with the move. .NAP or .MP3, whatever file format Napster chooses to use, for free or subscription-based services, it has to get the Court of Appeals on its side if it's to relaunch without a 100 per cent perfect screening system. Once Napster files its brief to the appellate court, its opponent, the Recording Industry Ass. of America, has 28 days to file a response. Only then will the Appeals Court issue its ruling. However, it may rule in the meantime that Napster may be allowed back on line in the interim. But don't hold your breath. ® Related Stories Napster to ditch MP3 for proprietary format Napster bends over and takes it from Metallica Napster down until futher notice
Tony Smith, 23 Jul 2001

Napster to ditch MP3 for proprietary format

Napster is going to ditch the MP3 format altogether and run instead with a proprietaryformat, .nap, that will include a digital rights aspect and keep music companies off its back. Yep, in what is the final nail in the coffin of what Napster once stood for, the company has done a deal with PlayMedia Systems to develop the new .nap format. PlayMedia will work on encryption and playback and Bertelsmann will tie it in with a digital rights system so files can't be swapped without people paying for them. Napster will also be split in two - one half dealing with the .nap format and supplying music from the various independent labels it has done deals with, and the other half working with MusicNet under Real Networks' proprietary format. Napster's new software will convert your MP3s to its own format before putting them up on the Napster network, giving the company a large degree of control over what goes on in its own network and hopefully satisfying the music companies and US law courts. As such, Napster will go from being the open format that gave the status quo a huge headache to the most tightly controlled music supplier on the Net. But will the new-look music-industry loving Napster survive? Of course, marketing people will guff on about it being a strong brand but then as a brand it stands for a very, very clear philosophy: free exchange of whatever music files you like. Will people want to use a Napster that is so tightly controlled? Will it not irk? Or are people the gormless sheep marketers think we are? Should be interesting to see. ® Related Stories Napster bends over and takes it from Metallica Napster in a coma Napster still down Napster signs up UK indie labels Napster signs away its soul Napster nears deals with music industry
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Archos Jukebox HD-MP3 Recorder

ReviewReview When we reviewed Archos' Jukebox 6000, we felt it was a good product hampered by some niggling flaws. Now the French manufacturer has released an updated version: the HD-MP3 Recorder. While many features remain the same - you can still play MP3s or back up your files to the 6GB hard drive - the updated model also allows you to record MP3s. However, it's important to note that the Jukebox can only play MP3 files, not WMA (Windows media audio) files. To copy your music files to the Jukebox, drag and drop them to its drive window, which appears whenever the unit is connected to your PC via USB. The supplied MusicMatch Jukebox software is excellent for organising your playlists, but we were annoyed by the lack of any facility to edit these. Sound quality was superb for preripped MP3s and those recorded from a hi-fi. You can use the recording facility to make voice notes too, which can then be uploaded as MP3s to your PC. Though you need to speak fairly close to the built-in microphone, the sound quality was adequate for most purposes. Though, at 350g, it's heavy, the Jukebox's portability is assured by the fact that we managed to get around four hours' heavy usage out of the NiMH batteries. As a back-up device, the unit performed well, taking 10 minutes 39 seconds to write a single large 503MB file to the 6GB hard drive. Writing 1.22GB of mixed files to the Jukebox drive took 29 minutes 57 seconds, which compares well with other external hard drives we’ve tested. With fine sound quality, substantial functionality and the capacity to store 6000 minutes of music, the HD-MP3 Recorder is a big hitter. However, this also extends to the price - at £247 this isn't the cheapest MP3 player you can find. There are few devices on the market that offer as many options or as much capacity as the Archos Jukebox. ® Info Price: £249 Contact: 01672 810 366 Website: www.archos.com Specs Hard drive: 6GB Battery: 4xAA NiMH Dimensions: 115x83x34 mm Weight: 350g OS: Windows 98 SE/2000/Me/Mac Other: MP3 support only, Headphones, Charger, MusicMatch Jukebox software This review is taken from the August 2001 issue. All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 23 Jul 2001

Stateside GPRS launched, all dressed up, anywhere to go?

The much trumpeted 2.5G wireless data standard is now available in the US, as of today. Although now you'll have to look pretty hard to find it. AT&T Wireless has launched a service in the Seattle area for business subscribers, and promises to launch in "markets covering" 40 per cent of the US population by the end of the year, and 100 per cent by the end of 2002. Note the sensible qualification, there. As US cellular users know only too well, maintaining decent 2G coverage even in densely populated strips such as the Valley's 101 Freeway out of San Jose is a minor miracle. Motorola chimed in with an announcement of the first GPRS handset the Timeport 7382i, but better devices are in the pipeline. The 7382i is basically the triband IrDA Timeport 250 in a new livery. And that device is really little different externally to the venerable Timeport 7000 series. But we've been playing with Moto's Accompli 008 communicator for some time - which is yer classic StarTac styling only with some Palm-like PIM functionality. It's much more of a viable showcase for what a GPRS can deliver. As for the service itself, it's $50 per month which includes 400 voice minutes, but only a paltry 1MB of data. Each additional kilobyte incurs an extra fee. The handset itself will be $199.99. Only a couple of months ago here, AT&T's own pricing guru Andrew Odlyzko described such usage based tariffs for always-on services as insane. (AT&T Wireless formally split from Ma Bell last week). But this is a business service, and so it comes with thumbscrews. Now while Europe grows weary of wireless hype and is tentative about the prospect of 2.5G data – particularly with the extortionate early pricing schemes mirrored by AT&TW's Seattle plan – there's still a tremendous amount of latent interest in a service which promises to trickle data into a personal device twenty four hours a day. For North Americans however, this is rather old hat. It's one area where in comparison to the rest of the world, US wireless delivers an excellent service in the form of CDPD. GPRS for now won't offer any speed improvements of CDPD. Forget talk of 115 kbps – 20 kbps is much more realistic. So if you're a Nextel data subscriber there'll be little incentive to change. The road to 3G services in the US – of which GPRS via EDGE forms an important milestone – makes the current 2G tangle in US look trivial. But the current uncertain prospects for 3G – Nomura analyst Keith Woolcock calls it a "monumental wind-up" – mean that you should pay more attention to these spaghetti roadmaps than you thought you wanted to. 2.5G could be around for a very long time. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

Mesh redundancies follow night-shift proposal

Mesh has made nine people redundant at its Edinburgh plant. The UK PC maker said the redundancies were the result of its plans to introduce a night shift, with the workers unwilling to work the shifts. Three of the nine staff have since returned to the outfit to work its quality control division. The others have been replaced - headcount at the Edinburgh section of the business remains at 53, the company said today. This adds to three repairs workers in London that Mesh made redundant in May. A Mesh representative said the layoffs were the result of the company getting "considerably less repair work". ® Related Stories Mesh 'not looking for general manager'
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001
Cat 5 cable

One 2 One chief in ‘Phones Too Cheap’ gaffe

European cellular networks are giving every indication that they intend to price gouge their way out of their debt woes, putting lucrative data revenues at risk. Some extraordinary comments in yesterday's Observer by One 2 One CEO Harris Jones confirm not only that the network wants to phase out phone subsidies for consumers - that's not exactly news - but that he wants phone companies to pursue the model set by the ailing PDA manufacturers. And his remarks - based on some deeply inaccurate figures - are sure to alarm One 2 One business partners, as they constitute as wayward a strategic statement as we've heard in a very long time. "There were 25 million Palm Pilot or PDA devices sold in the US last year at prices that were well over £300 and with functionality that was significantly less than our GPRS devices," said Jones. "Why, we ask our selves, should this industry continue to subsidize a product that consumers are willing to pay for?" Up to a point, Lord Copper. The wrong number Palm, which takes the lion's share of the PDA market, shipped only 6.4 million Palm devices worldwide in fiscal year 2001, according to its own figures. Since 64 per cent of its revenues are in the US market, we can assume that the figure shipped in the US itself was around 4 million in the period Jones refers to, pegging the size of the US market at 6 million, at most. (Microsoft optimistically claimed a million sales of WinCE/PocketPC devices in its first year). So Jones is out by around 400 per cent. Palm claims to have sold 13.7 million devices in its history. In fact, even after adding PDA veterans Psion and Sharp to the picture - who've sold five million and four million devices respectively over the years - it's doubtful if 25 million PDAs have been sold worldwide since the category was created over fifteen years ago. That's not all. Very few of the PDAs sold last year were priced at $500 plus, as the hapless One 2 One chief seems to think. Gartner estimates the average selling price of Palm PDAs was about half that, at $209. So on that count, Jones is closer to the truth: he's only 200 per cent out. But not only did Palm's average selling price fall considerably - the market grew thanks to the $150 low-end models - but it had trouble persuading customers to pay for them. Palm wrote off $500 million dumping excess inventory, and Palm acknowledged in a May conference call that much of the surplus was headed for landfill. Now the One 2 One chief might be forgiven, perhaps, for getting some figures wrong. But what might alarm his bosses at Deutsche Telekom and One to One's handset partners is his failure to notice that the PDA manufacturers are in deep trouble. Palm's woes have been well documented, and British PDA manufacturer Psion withdrew from consumer PDAs earlier this month. Jones additional point - he dampened enthusiasm for the packet data services which are the raison d'etre for the more expensive devices - is more likely to reduce demand for phones carrying PDA style price tags. One 2 One is the only British network not to announce a GPRS service, and don't hold your breath. "What we're saying is that the customer experience is not there," a One 2 One spokesman said today. "It hasn't moved on since WAP over GSM. "We're not planning to withdraw subsidies, but we can envisage a day where that would be the case," said a spokesman. The One 2 One chief may be right in that there's a "very strong under-appreciation of the products", but suggesting that the relatively tiny and increasingly unprofitable PDA business model is one that will create a mass market for data makes little sense. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

No TSMC job cuts or fab closures – Chairman Chang

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world's biggest chip foundry, will not close fabs or cut its workforce, chairman Morris Chang has promised. It's not the first time he's said as much during the current crisis in the world semiconductor market, but his latest comments follow rival foundry UMC's decision that the market conditions have become so bad it's necessary to lay off workers. UMC recently rid itself of 266 staff. More may follow them out real soon. In the circumstances, then, TSMC employees will feel heartened by Chang's optimism. The company's chairman reckons the market will improve this current quarter and during the next one. In any case, if it came to the crunch, capital spending would be cut before TSMC resorted to the relatively small savings made by laying off staff, Chang promised. ® Related Stories UMC cans 266 'slackers' Taiwan chip sales fall in June TSMC fabs down to 50% capacity
Tony Smith, 23 Jul 2001

BT suggests more 3G sharing

BT has suggested another bout of 3G sharing, in the Netherlands this time. Chief exec of BT Wireless Peter Eskine told the Wall Street Journal that it has put forward a proposal to the five operators that they share just two networks rather than build five separate infrastructures. "I would not be surprised if we end up with just two networks in the Netherlands," Erskine said. "All of us are working toward it and talking to each other to make it happen. The Dutch government is being very open-minded and pragmatic." Apparently Erskine first suggested that all five companies build just one network but the Dutch government insisted on at least two. The idea of infrastructure sharing has already been taken on board in the UK and Germany, where several companies have teamed up to save on costs. The Netherlands operators are the usual suspects (albeit it through subsidiaries) - BT, France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone. Such deals are likely to spread over the rest of Europe. A sharing scheme makes good sense thanks to the large number of new mobile masts that will have to be built for 3G networks to work properly. Not only is building an infrastructure costly (and after the huge sums paid for 3G licences, anything that saves operators money will be a good thing) but with public opinion turning against such masts over health fears, limiting the number of new masts will save them a public relations headache. In Scotland, new legislation is currently under discussion which will mean companies have to apply for planning permission for any masts. It's unsure yet whether other countries will follow suit. ® Related Stories Now it's Vodafone's turn to do a 3G link-up Hutchison starts hyping its 3G vision BT and One2One back in court over 3G BT and Deutsche Telekom announce 3G sharing scheme Scottish mother gets militant over mobile masts
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Times starts strategic alliance with porn companies

The Times newspaper has surprised us by signing up with the adult porn industry in a bid to make its Internet ventures pay. The paper said last week that it was considering different content-charging models and has since been carefully watched by other media organisations, keen to recoup some of their Internet investment. At least that's what we assume has happened following this weekend's publication of a guide to owning and buying shares that linked to several organisations at the bottom. In between links to the FSA, SEC etc etc came the well-known porn site www.stockdetective.com. Stock Detective points to the less-than-savoury XXXoffers.com, which unsurprisingly has some X-rated offers to make to you. Triple-X in fact. Gang bang models, Fatty Fatty, Upskirt teenies and the classic Chicks got dicks are all there for Times readers' amusement. Asked about their new alliance, a spokesman for the paper said: "Oh shit" and hung up. We don't know quite what to make of this, although one cynic did suggest that the paper had instead meant to link to stock-based information site Stock Detective, based, of course at www.stockdr.com. Decide for yourself here. Of get some Fatty Fatty action here. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Philanderer-catching mobile phone launched

Taiwanese wives are scrambling to get their hands on high tech mobile phones designed to catch cheating husbands. The spy phone contains a special chip that can catch sounds and voices near the handset, The Straits Times reports. The idea is that suspicious wives give the mobile to their hubby as a gift, then dial a code to activate the chip and listen in to his conversations. Alternatively, they can stick the chip in his existing phone. One local supplier told The Straits Times that he had received thousands of calls enquiring about the gadget. And most of these were from wives who wanted to spy on their husbands while they were away on business in China. But there are drawbacks to the phones, which cost around NT$35,000 ($1,800). According to the report, while the chip is activated no calls can be made or received, which could arouse suspicion. At least a million Taiwanese businessman visit China every year - and an estimated two thirds of them are believed to have mistresses. ® Related Link Taiwan wives can spy on spouses with special phone Related Stories Text messaging used to trap unfaithful partners Web site offers fake alibi for philanderers
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Evesham grabs Creative Labs marketing man

Creative Labs has lost its European marketing manager to UK PC builder Evesham.com. Bob Garrett will start at Evesham at the end of August, taking up the newly created position of marketing director. In addition to his three and a half-year stint at Creative, he has also worked at RM and Olivetti. Meanwhile, Evesham has made another board appointment -David Hards, who joined Evesham in March as its financial controller, has been made finance director. Evesham is also planning a sales office and showroom in the Greater Manchester area, giving it 14 offices in the UK. Evesham MD Richard Austin said that, despite the current doom and gloom, business was going "encouragingly well". ® Related Stories Luke Ireland moves to Centerprise
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

PC World brings desktop chips in laptops idea to UK

PC World is claiming it's selling the 'UK's fastest laptop'. The bionic beast is an Advent brand 1.1GHz PIII notebook with 256Mb SDRAM and a 30Gb hard drive. The advert brags 'PC World, the store that's always first for new technology has done it again!' What PC World is actually doing is selling a laptop with a desktop processor in it. The machine is probably made by Austrian manufacturer Gericom. The big clue is that the advert makes no mention of the word mobile or of SpeedStep technology. Now a desktop 1.1GHz PIII is probably the fastest chip you're going to find in a laptop - but does this make the PC World model the 'UK's fastest laptop'? We're not so sure. The price of the notebook is £1499 inc VAT. ® Related Stories Cheap German notebooks use desktop components 1GHz PIII notebook uses desktop chip
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

Lastminute gets into takeaway food business

LastMinute.com has bought Urbanbite.com, a takeaway meal delivery site. The takeover was an all share deal which valued Urbanbite at £140,000. Urbanbite's service allows you to order from a range of takeaway restaurants in your area, based on your postcode. You can pay online or on delivery. The business fits in with the concept of doing something lastminute - when you're starving and can't be bothered cook anything - and also moves Lastminute away from being mainly a travel business. The downside of Urbanbite's business is that it only serves London and Bristol in the UK at present. It also does Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The shares were delivered on a dangerously driven moped. ® Related Story Lastminute.com profitable within year
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

Cablecos make broadband hay while Telcos delay

Big US telcos are less willing to go the extra mile for broadband these days - and this is leaving them dangerously exposed to cableco rivals, a specialist market research firm Mindbranc claims. Telcos are cutting costs in North America, and this includes what Mindbranch calls "last mile infrastructure pullbacks. By contrast, " massive last-mile upgrades for cable broadband have continued on schedule in 2001." The upshot is that the number of DSL broadband Internet connections are scheduled to overtake cable broadband more or less everywhere in 2001 - except the US. Are the North American telcos shooting themselves in the foot by their failure to keep pace with cableco investment? Mindbranch certainly thinks so: it reckons that big well-run cablecos such as Comcast and AOL/Time Warner have it in them to stay ahead of DSL.. "and steal some voice business as well". It's thinking like this that landed so many telcos in hot water in the first place. Telcos have filled the coffers of Cisco, and cable-laying subcontractors, in their rush to build IP networks ahead of the competition. But what has their over-investment landed them with, other than big debts? Telcos can always build that last mile and they can always slug it out on price. But later. As someone, probably famous, once said: you don't own market share, you merely rent it. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jul 2001

Sun kit souped up Grand Prix McLaren car

Champagne corks were popped over the weekend as Grand Prix team West McLaren Mercedes and technology partner Sun Microsystems celebrated a return to winning form at Silverstone. Technology plays a key role in a sport where innovation is institutionalised and tiny design changes can shave the fractions of a second off laps times that make the difference between success and failure. McLaren has finished behind arch-rivals Ferrari and Williams in recent Grand Prix and the win by Mika Hakkinen on Sunday is due in no small part to the constant testing and development work of McLaren's back-room boys. Mark Jenkins, a systems analyst at McLaren, said that over the course of a season 70 per cent of the components on a car will be completely redesigned, and the Formula One team's car is 95 per cent different from last season's model. Jenkins obviously loves his work, which despite its pressure if something like a launch control system malfunctions (cars won't even start without a computer), must be the ultimate job for a techie, especially since the cost of kit is strictly secondary. In the quest to get an edge over their rivals F1 teams often pioneer use of the latest technology, said Jenkins, who said that McLaren technology was shared with developers of Mercedes road vehicles and British Aerospace. To reduce the design cycle in testing the aerodynamics of its cars, McLaren has installed two computing farms, which are based on enterprise servers, computing engines, and storage arrays, as well as networking equipment and resource management software from Sun. McLaren took delivery of its first Sun Technical Computer Farm (TCF) system, which allows designers to test and refine virtual designs before building a model for wind tunnel tests, earlier this season. It will complete installation of the second unit shortly. West McLaren Mercedes Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) team leader Kevin Colburn, said: "Historically we looked exhaustively at 10 to 15 wing configurations before selecting the best of them to be dropped into the wind tunnel." The West McLaren Mercedes team is using the desktop Sun Blade 1000, which is based on an UltraSPARC III processor, in conjunction with the number-crunching capabilities of the computing farm, to speed up this design cycle. "The TCF has made an immediate impact by helping to speed up and enhance the design process as a whole," said Colburn. At the 2001 Austrian GP the West McLaren Mercedes MP4-16 Formula One car featured a specially re-designed front wing based on data resulting from simulations run on the Sun TCF system only the previous Sunday. IT is also important to Formula One teams during the course of a race. Over 120 sensors are located on a F1 car with up to 190 parameters, which can be anything from wheel spin to component temperatures, being logged by the on board electronics. According to Jenkins, about 3MB of telemetry data are recovered from the car per lap. This information is sent to the pit over a wireless link, with data encrypted using customised encryption technology from Tag Electronics, and also stored on the car so that it can be uploaded for analysis after a race. ® External links: McLaren Related Stories Sun's 600MHz workstations to be available by auction only Lights go out on UltraSPARC III supply
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Revealed: What's in men's pants

Here's what to give the hi-tech professional who has everything - mobile trousers. The Dockers Mobile Pant contains seven 'invisible' pockets for carrying today's urban essentials, such as mobile phones and PDAs. According to Maureen Griffin, consumer marketing director for Dockers: "The Dockers Mobile Pant offers today's professional man the most convenient way of carrying his multiple mobile devices, as well as other personal items, such as keys and airline tickets." She continues: "With the Dockers Mobile Pant, men can maintain their stylish business casual look with elements of our traditional khaki, while enjoying the modern versatility of the hidden storage pockets." Unfortunately, no mention of women getting a look in at this latest hi-tech fashion statement, but for the men the trousers cost $52 and will be in shops in the US next month. They will be available in khaki, black or olive. A picture of the Mobile Pant, which has pockets designed for Motorola phones and Compaq's iPaq Pocket PC, can be found here. ® Related Stories Levi's and Philips create wired up clothing Is it a bra, or an anti-mugging device?
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

SlowCoMo delays i-Mode – Europe yawns

NTT DoCoMo's launch of i-Mode services in Europe looks likely to be delayed again, according to comments made by the company's Midori Matsubayashi yesterday. Matusbayashi blamed the protracted roll-out of GPRS services for the hold-up. i-Mode services had been expected to launch this year, but Matsubayashi said it was now "likely" to appear in 2002. Two weeks ago, when the reports of a delay first surfaced on Japanese wires, the blame was put at the door of SlowCoMo's debt laden European network partner KPG. Nomura analyst Keith Woolcock isn't surprised. He's only too happy to puncture the bubble generated by the Mobile Commerce Goldrush™, 2001 Edition:- "i-Mode gained many subscribers, but that doesn't translate to revenue. i-Mode hasn't made all that much money," he says. Woolcock is as smitten with Andrew Odlyzko's analysis of the wireless gold rush as we are:- "People will provide their own content," he says. And you don't need i-Mode to do that. i-Mode services are a value-add for networks - but only networks of SlowCoMo's own choosing. The rest of us will get by using the lowest common denominator MMS, or even SMS text messages. France Telecom's decision to create a more sophisticated open platform, by investing in the open source Jabber messenger, looks a far smarter move each day.® Related Stories Talking Back To Happiness - how voice calls can save 3G Euro i-Mode delayed i-Mode to roam into US, Europe Q3 2001
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

Marijuana virus puts security to pot

An irritating but relatively harmless virus doing the rounds on the Internet is alienating potential supporters of legalising marijuana. The Marijuana virus has been packaged into a 'game' called either Dope Crop (or Weed Farmer) which in reality is a Trojan horse program that changes the start page on a user's browser to my.marijuana.com and puts a marijuana leaf on a user's system tray. The bug, which is also believed to be spreading via email, also changes the name of Internet Explorer to "Marijuana Explorer (Legalise It!)". Among its other effects, which are explained in more detail here, each day at 16:20, the virus displays a message box with the title "The Marijuana Virus!!" and the message "It's 4:20, Time to toke up :)" Potentially very embarrassing, although not necessarily an entirely screwy idea. The Trojan horse has nothing to do with the people who run Marijuana.com, a site that advocates the legalisation of pot, who have found themselves bombarded with aggressive (and decidedly un-mellow) messages. These in turn have generated retaliatory flames saying that people who download programs from the Internet without checking them for viruses must be "twits", or worse. Rick Garcia, the Web master of Marijuana.Com, has posted a note to its users that said the site was on the receiving end of a practical joke. "Marijuana.Com is in no way involved in this prank and is purely an innocent bystander who apparently fit the bill for this virus," said Garcia, whose site has been targeted by hackers since the virus first cropped up almost six weeks ago. Antivirus vendors have largely updated virus definitions to detect the bug but Marijuana.com is still receiving a steady stream of aggrieved emails. If a pot head (such as a Tory shadow cabinet member, perhaps?) wrote the virus it's having the opposite effect of what the legalise dope camp would want. ® External links: Write up on the Marijuana virus by Sophos Marijuana.com
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

DoS risk from Zip of death attacks on AV software?

Claims that anti-virus and content filtering packages may be vulnerable to a denial of service attacks through maliciously constructed compressed archives have generated a heated debate in the security industry. A discussion thread on BugTraq on the subject has prompted security consultants MIS Corporate Defence to issue an alert warning its customers of what it describes as an easy way of bringing networks to their knees. Files are available on the Internet which are as little as 42KB in size but when fully decompressed have a total size of 16GB. The exploit works by sending an email containing such a maliciously formed compressed archive to an intended victim. According to MIS, if restrictions are not in place an antivirus or content filtering system will attempt to fully decompress an archive in order to scan its contents, and this is where the trouble might kick in when the system is dealing with maliciously compressed archives. However Graham Cluley of antivirus firm Sophos said that he believed most antivirus products would handle such files gracefully, stopping decompression long before systems run out of resources or disc space. "If the file cannot be decompressed because of any resource issue then we gracefully decline to continue, and the file can be bunged into a 'quarantine' area if the user so chooses to set up the gateway product that way," said Cluley, who added that even under default setting Sophos's products are not vulnerable to this form of attack. Cluley said it's incorrect to suggest that anti-virus software will attempt to decompress every file inside the archive before scanning, though he conceded that third party content filtering products might handle the decompression themselves and thereby be at risk. Paul Rogers, a network security analyst at MIS, has carried out tests that show that the exploit can be used to crash systems running MAILsweeper filtering software from Content Technologies and antivirus products from F-Secure. Rogers hadn't tested other products, so its unclear whether (for example) Symantec or Trend users are vulnerable, but he advised that best practice called for users to (where possible) restrict how many levels of compression their antivirus software would look into. Although there has been little or no publicity about the issue, the potential vulnerability of antivirus products to a so-called Zip of death attack has been well known in security circles for some time. That said, the technique - for all the potential harm it might bring - has been little used by s'kiddies. MessageLabs, a managed services firm that scans its user's email for viruses, reports that it had only seen two attempts at Zip of death attacks in the last year, which on both occasions it was able to detect and block. ® Update Network Associates has been in touch to tell us its products are not affected by the problem. Related Stories Flaw means virus could disable Norton Anti-Virus Denial of service warning for network security tool Virus toolkits are s'kiddie menace Why Hotmail could spread viruses even faster than Outlook Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug Reports of death of email viruses greatly exaggerated? Rise in viruses within emails outpacing growth of email
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Prince Charles urges kids to ditch computer games for books

Prince Charles has called for more cash to be spent on books and the arts to drag children away from computer games. Speaking yesterday at the British Museum, Charles said there was a need to "expand the minds and fire the imagination" of Britain's youngsters. "One of the great battles we face today is to persuade our children away from the computer games towards what can only be described as worthwhile books," he said. "None of us can underestimate the importance of books in an age dominated by the computer screen and constant wish for immediate gratification." Charles said he hoped he wouldn't get into trouble for saying he felt lottery bosses could be "more imaginative" in running projects to give youngsters access to the theatre, music and arts. Charles made the comments while attending an event to celebrate the completion of the Everyman Millennium Library project. The £8 million scheme has so far distributed 250 classic books, such as George Orwell's 1984, to 4,500 schools. ® Related Stories UK games sales to hit £1.56bn in 2001 Video games make good kids evil Ban Quake, Home Office adviser demands
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Prince Charles asked to start gaming

Prince Charles is being urged to squeeze computer games into his hectic schedule in an effort to combat his loathing of the pastime. The European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) intends to send the Prince a basket of computer games following his speech earlier this week that told youngsters to ditch their computer games for "worthwhile books". Comments from HRH such as: "None of us can underestimate the importance of books in an age dominated by the computer screen and constant wish for immediate gratification" riled ELSPA officials. And they quickly fired off a press release to express their "surprise and disappointment" at the speech. "We could of course excuse his view as simply representative of an age group that did not grow up with computer games and therefore feels alienated from the medium," said ELSPA director Roger Bennett. "However, the Prince is an influential public figure and such statements could be damaging to an industry that in the last twenty years has emerged as one of the fastest growing and most creative in the UK." ELSPA claims that computer games can be "extremely beneficial" for social and educational development in youngsters. It says that only a small percentage of the games market comprises action games such as Tomb Raider, with the majority of kids play educational or sports games. The organisation today said it intended to mail off a selection of such games to Buckingham Palace pronto. When asked if children were better off playing computer games than reading books, an ELSPA representative said the organisation recommended a "healthy balance" of pastimes. "We're not creating a song and dance about this, we just think we need to be heard," she added. ® Related Stories UK games industry angry over govt grey import plans UK games sales to hit £1.56bn in 2001
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Comet plans online auction for old computers

UK retailer Comet plans to launch an auction Web site to flog its old or damaged goods. The site, due to kick off on July 23, will be used to shift ex-display or imperfect products. This includes computer kit as well as brown and white goods. Bids will start at £1 per item, and the Kingfisher-owned company hopes to net an average of £200 per product sold. "Comet recognised the power of auctions and is the first UK retailer to bring clearance auctions to UK shoppers," said e-comet VP Simon Rigby. It is hoped the clearance-comet.co.uk site, which will offer 50 auctions per week, will pull in annual sales of around £50,000. ®
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Luke Ireland moves to Centerprise

Centerprise has poached Luke Ireland from rival UK PC builder Evesham.com. Ireland left his job as operations director at Evesham on June 1, and started at Dixons PC supplier Centerprise at the start of July. But Ireland, who spent ten years at Evesham after joining the outfit straight from school, today remained cagey about his job title at Basingstoke-based Centerprise. Although the position is "something to do with sales" and he is not a director, Ireland declined to elaborate. "All will be revealed very shortly," he said. Centerprise is 83 per cent owned by its MD Raffi Razzak, who is worth £83 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. ® Related Stories Evesham loses Luke Ireland Dixons' PC builder talks to The Reg
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Buy Windows XP and grapple women's breasts

Updated againUpdated again It's a situation nearly all of us have been in - trying to get a woman's bra off to sample the delights contained within. It's hard to put a time on it but any more than five seconds fumbling puts you into the embarrassment zone. Of course by the time you've left university, you should have mastered this - and for true bra students, the stylish one-hand flick. So who is trying to make us relearn the technique all over again? Who else but Microsoft, master of the "if it ain't broke, we'll make you buy a fix for it". Promising you "The unexpected Experience", the Beast of Redmond's new Swiss ad for the operating system features an attractive young lady and her boyfriend getting it on in a living room somewhere. All's going fine, she whips her top off and the young man tries to relieve her of her patriarchal symbol of oppression (the bra). Nothing doing. Twisting twisting and nothing. Then an information menu pops up on her back. "Hilfe holen, Anleitung drucken, Gleich offnen, Abbrechen". We've no idea what they mean, but running his finger down her back he goes for the third choice. Tap. And he's faced with a password query. The woman smirks (why?) and the Microsoft logo comes up on the screen. All very amusing and Microsoft has obviously awoken to the fact that sex sells but what the hell does it mean? Security? Fun? Sex? Or has Microsoft extended its belief that no one ought to do anything enjoyable without first asking it? Is it an MS techie fight-back - we don't get it so nor will you? Or is the company saying that if anyone is going to screw you, it going to be Bill and his buddies? No doubt, you will want to see the ad, so go here and click on the pic to download. Of course what the ad doesn't show you is that the man finds a hole in the bra, presses it and every other bit of clothing falls off, pants an all. Update Seems that Microsoft has pulled the ad off its Web site. Don't know why. Not even happy with free publicity. Perhaps it has pulled it because the goblins in Redmond got in touch asking why it was an Mpeg file instead of Windows Media Player. Several readers were delighted to find the ad running automatically on QuickTime. Oh, and thank you to the approximately 200 people that emailed what the menu means. In this order: Help, Print Instructions, Open Immediately and Cancel. New Link Don't panic though. Microsoft may have pulled the ad but we've found another copy on Ad Critic. Go here to check it out. [Thanks to Jon Head for the heads-up on this one.] ® Related Link MS stops you having sex
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Sun Ray 1 smokes: but only a little, says recall letter

Sun Microsystems has announced the field replacement of an unspecified number of its Sun Ray 1 appliances because of a defective capacitor in its power supply circuitry. The hardware giant has sent a letter to customers which admits that it has detected a failure in the power supplies of a small number of Sun Ray 1 thin client devices. "It has been determined that the components used do not perform to specification and are causing premature failures," Sun said in its letter. In the event of failure "it will look like the Sun Ray 1 has lost power" and the LED on the device may play up. "In very few cases, there may be a noise, like a 'pop' and maybe a small amount of 'smoke'", according to Sun, which said that this smoke is not the result of a fire, but only the sign of the suspect capacitor venting. That's a relief. Sun stated the potential hardware failure was not a safety issue and that its Sun Ray 100 or 150 desktop workstations were unaffected by the problem. Only a limited number of the hardware giant's customers are likely to hit the problem but it is widespread enough for Sun to organise the replacement of Sun Ray 1 PSUs for all its customers. Sun's Enterprise Services arm has been placed in charge of distributing replacement systems, which feature updated power supplies with components from a different manufacturer. The replacement (recall) program, which will only begin in mid-December, and has been likened to Sun to replacing a telephone handset. Sun said the replacement would not affect customer data nor smart cards associated with a particular appliance. Customers with failed unit should contact Sun Enterprise Services immediately. ® External links: Sun's letter to Sun Ray customers Sun Ray 1 replacement FAQ
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001
Broken CD with wrench

Compaq derides tin, praises services

Compaq showed journalists around a London demonstration facility yesterday in an event that was far more interesting in showing how Big Q is changing itself, than for what was said about the technology on show. Assorted hacks were shown a demo of how Compaq could support Customer Relation Management in a way that integrates systems (such as call centre records and Web site logging) in real-time. This is part of what Compaq describes as the Zero Latency Enterprise. The hardware test-bed behind this marketecture features an integration of 128 processor NonStop Himalaya (with 256GB of memory and 111TB of disc), eight processor AlphaServer and ProLiant clusters. This monster set-up is actually in America and what Compaq's UK customers see is a multi-screen representation of data obtained from the system, which is designed to showcase Compaq's ability to provide a solution that would fit anyone's ecommerce requirements. "Solution" is the key word here and the presentation by Compaq (the first we've attended since its decision to send Alpha to sleep with Intel's fishes) suggests the firm is taking chief executive Michael Capellas' plan to transform Big Q into a services and solutions giant to heart. Compaq's AlphaServer product manager Richard George insisted that Q would protect customers' investments in such systems and promised source code compatibility between applications on Alpha and Itanium. He confidently predicted the move to Itanic would be "reasonably palatable". Although we've reported that some Compaq customers who think otherwise. Compaq will bring its clustering technology and Alpha compiler technology to IA-64 and George hinted that it, and not Hewlett-Packard (which co-developed the IA-64 architecture) were now Intel's favourite partner. "The way forward is to deliver the underlying solution - not just tin", said George. Compaq - and before it Digital - is said to have invested $15 billion in the Alpha processor before canning it last month. Now, it's tin. And that's official. ® Related Stories Orphans of Compaq's Alphacide bolt for the exit Don Capellas justifies Compaq Alphacide Compaq warns of 4,000 more layoffs Compaq Itanic strategy replacing 'Porsche with a Yugo' say users Itanic looks healthier with Alpha transfusion Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Cost of goods online increases

The cost of shopping online increased 3.2 per cent in the six months to June - the eighth consecutive monthly price rise in a row. However, while the figures compiled by the Goldfish e-Tail Price Index (ePI) might be bad news for consumers, analysts believe it's a sign that etailers are becoming more commercially viable and proof positive that this online channel is maturing. Indeed, some commentators believe that the inflationary figures show that etailers are becoming more confident of their future and are raising prices to concentrate on customer service and fulfilment, as opposed to simply maintaining low prices to attract and retain customers. The ePI shows that food prices online have shown the biggest increases over the last six months rising by a massive 7.5 per cent. The cost of alcohol increased 5.1 per cent over the same period. The cost of motoring goods and services increased by 4 per cent since January. Peter Barrett, MD of Goldfish said: "The consistent price hikes we are seeing online are mirroring those currently being experienced on the high street in key areas, including both the motoring and food sectors. "E-tailers' success in sustaining the pricing strategies we have begun to see emerge over the past six months point to a commercially more viable and secure future for those trading online. "However, they should bear in mind the occasionally wild fluctuations that some sectors have experienced, and not slip into the trap of believing it will all be plain sailing from now on," he said. The Goldfish ePI (e-Tail Price Index) was set up last year to measure changes in the costs of consumer goods sold in the UK over the Net. ®
Tim Richardson, 23 Jul 2001

The most powerful new media people in the UK

The Guardian today has knocked out what it believes to be a list of the 100 most powerful people in the UK's media. We won't run through the whole list - you can see it here if you want to know more. Instead, we'll just concentrate on new media folk. Apart from the number one. Which is, of course, Rupert Murdoch, who seems to own half the world's media and terrify the other half into following his lead. No, the first new media bod - at number two, no less - is our old friend Bill Gates. You know, the bloke from Microsoft. This seems a little exaggerated to us. Powerful he undoubtedly is, and able to move millions of pounds about according to his whim, but direct influence? We'd reckon him further down at five or six. Next up is, unsurprisingly, Steve Case the chairman and CEO of AOL-Time Warner (in the online version of the list top AOL exec Gerald Levin is ranked along with him) who comes in at fourth most powerful person in the UK media. It's a little depressing that only one British person (Head of the BBC, Greg Dyke) makes it into the top four, but there you go. According to the Guardian, Steve only takes a £280,000 salary. But then share options are going to help him out just a little. With what seems to be quickly becoming a stranglehold over commercial online material, this position is warranted. And then of course there's the takeover talks with top magazine publisher IPC. You have to wait until number 23, Tom Glocer, for the next new media man. Tom is the chief exec of Reuters. With the increasing obsession for news to the second, inevitably boosted by the Net's speed, Reuters is onto a winner. It, and the Press Association, have become more than just the first port of call for news - they have often become the full story as Web sites try to pump out the news as it happens. Powerful indeed. Just one below that, at 24, comes Sir Christopher Bland - the new chairman of BT. Despite BT being in dire straits, it still has a very important role to play in new media. If only it stops being so bloody obstructive. Sir Bland has made his overpowering influence on BT's decisions known in the past few months. If he wants it, it happens; if he doesn't, it doesn't. Below him (25) comes Terry Leahy - the chief exec of Tesco. Bit of a funny choice this one. Yes, Tesco is building its own online brand, but how much real power does he have over the media? Not convinced. Adam Singer, Telewest's chief exec, makes it to 32. A good choice. What we have here is a major player in the digital TV and cable markets. Now, if only people would buy the sets. Chris Gent makes it to 43. The Vodafone top man could be here just thanks to his salary. Mobile companies do have an increasing influence on media, although it won't be realised until they get 3G networks working and two people bother to buy a phone. Big drop to 70 until we come across head of Freeserve John Pluthero. Not quite what it was, Freeserve, but it is still the UK's biggest ISP so it does have a say in what goes on. For how long? All depends on John. Perhaps he'd like to actually say something useful once in a while. And then we reach our last new media top 100 person: Ashley Highfield, the director of new media at the BBC. Ashley recently poked his head into the wider media by talking about the BBC charging for Web content in the future. It was little more than a ploy to open up discussions on how the BBC will be funded in the future, but gives a strong indication that Ashley is hoping to make himself a big name. The BBC site is undoubtedly the best in Britain, so there's no reason why he shouldn't pull it off. And that's it. But what about the rest? Well, having had a read through, we agree with nearly all the people, although not necessarily the placings. Also, apart from the inclusion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown at number nine, there are surprisingly few politicians. Mario Monti, the EU competition commissioner, is a rare exception at 30 - although with his recent determined approach, including the raid on the UK mobile operators, perhaps he should be higher. Mobile phone execs are also largely excluded, except Chris Gent of Vodafone (see above). The editor-in-chief of the Economist Bill Emmott and editor of the Sunday Times John Witherow may both be somewhat annoyed at their 72 and 69 placings respectively. Although we suppose the list is meant to measure direct rather than indirect power. And as much as we like Richard Curtis - the writer of most of the good British comedy in the last two decades and films like Four Weddings, Notting Hill etc - is he really the tenth most powerful person in the media? No way. ® Related Link The Guardian's top 100 list
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Net over power lines concept is back

Trials are underway in Germany and Spain to provide broadband Internet over electricity cables at speeds up to 45Mbps. Testing is still at an early stage but if successful a full service could be introduced by the end of the year. Exact details of the trial are being kept under wraps. However, Denis Murphy, VP and MD EMEA of software-based communications outfit, Clarent, (one of the companies involved in the trial) said that technical obstacles had been overcome. "The technology is now stable and economical - a real alternative to the last mile," he said, referring to ongoing problems with local loop unbundling. Mr Murphy declined to name the other companies taking part in the trial but said further announcements would be made later in the year. In March, Siemens announced it was ceasing development of similar technology that could allow the transmission of Internet traffic of power cables. It said it saw a greater potential market in developing ADSL products instead, mainly because of regulatory delays surrounding powerline technology. Two years ago United Utilities and Nortel ditched their plans to use electric cables to provide Net access in the UK. That decision was made against a backdrop of fears that the technology could drown out other radio traffic and interfere with civil aviation and emergency service transmissions. ® Related Stories Siemens pulls plug on Net over power cables technology Nortel/Norweb pulls plug on Internet over electricity scheme
Our correspondent, 23 Jul 2001

Afghanistan ‘bans’ the Internet

The Taliban has banned the use of the Internet in Afghanistan to stop "immoral" material flooding into the country. According to the Afghan Islamic Press, Taliban Foreign Minister Maulvi Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil said it wasn't that the Afghan government was opposed to the Net, it just didn't like the filth that was freely displayed on it. Muttawakil commented: "We want to establish a system in Afghanistan through which we can control all those things that are wrong, obscene, immoral and against Islam," Afghan Islamic Press reports, via Reuters. Until now, those in the country lucky enough to have both a computer and the electricity to run it, such as foreign aid agencies, have logged onto the Net via phone lines and ISPs provided by neighbouring Pakistan. Quite how the thought police plan to determine who is using the phone lines to access the Internet wasn't explained. But the ban applies to everyone, including workers in government offices. Other examples of Taliban control over what is "wrong" and "immoral" in Afghanistan include women not being allowed to work, go to school or leave their homes without a male chaperone, while "illegal sexual relations" are deemed punishable by beatings or death. ® Related Link Afghanistan's Taliban 'bans Internet'
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

You've had the cyberlav, now here's the cyber parkbench

Bury St Edmunds is to be the first town in the UK to benefit from a cyberbench. Wtf is that? Well, it's a park bench that you can plug your laptop into. This is good news, say the developers from - guess who - Microsoft, because it will expand Internet use into "more natural and organic environments". Which, as the Times points out, means outdoors. Now, technically, this is little more than an extension cable to a park bench. But you do have to question how you would be charged for Internet access - will the parky walk around with a bag of change? Maybe the Americans have become confused and believe that this country will one day get free local calls. Will it also come with a mains plug? Will we have to peel the electrocuted and fried suit from the park bench before we can sit down because he went out at lunchtime just after it had rained? A lovely vision of the information age. You also have to ponder why on earth Bury St Edmunds. Apparently, the town applied after MSN ask for interested parties. MSN chose it because as it was the place where the "most significant human rights document in history" (the Magna Carta) was signed, there is an obvious tie-in with the Net - the "the most significant communications facility in history". Obvious to MSN maybe. Update Since we posted this, we've been worrying about the apparent place of the Magna Carta's signing. As several readers have reminded us, it was actually signed at Runnymede near Windsor. In fact, there is a Magna Carta island there, named after the event. So what is MSN playing at? Well, you see, the lords and barons swore their oath to make the king sign the Magna Carta at Bury St Edmunds. And so, an already tenuous link becomes all the more tenuous. So why did MSN chose Bury St (R)edmonds? Well, it was probably more to do with the fact that the Beast of Redmond has recently signed a massive sponsorship deal with Suffolk County Council, whose headquarters are based in, guess where, Bury St Edmunds, than the lame tie-in with one of Britain's most important documents. Well, would you believe it? Is this nonsense? Yes it is. Plus, please can we leave our parks free from computers - isn't that why you go there in the first place? ®
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

WIPO rewrites UDRP yet again

WIPO has done it again! In the case of Reg-vardy.com - set up by unhappy customer Dave Wilkinson to register his annoyance at car dealer Reg Vardy - the domain name arbitrator has decided to ignore the wording of the uniform dispute resolution policy to find in the company's favour. And even draws attention to the fact in its judgement. In fulfilling the three points needed to hand over a domain, sole judge Clive Duncan Thorne, found that Mr Wilkinson had registered the domain in bad faith. The clause used was that "the respondent registered the disputed domain primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business on the complainant". However, it is not until the end of the judgement that Mr Thorne mentions the clause makes it explicitly clear it can only be used when the registrant is a competitor to the complainant. Mr Wilkinson is not, and as such the clause cannot be invoked. So what is Mr Thorne's justification for ignoring the very wording of the dispute policy? The complainant, he accepts, is not a competitor. "Nevertheless, in all the circumstances the Panel finds that the Respondent's registration of the domain names is primarily for the purpose of disrupting the Complainant's business with the objective of causing harm and nuisance to the Complainant. In the Panel's view this constitutes bad faith." It is irrelevant whether you agree or disagree with whether Mr Wilkinson has a right to the domain, the UDRP was formulated as a set of rules. To ignore them at will is clearly an abuse. The WIPO decision - not on its Web site yet but available here - reads like a list of its abuses with regard to the UDRP policy. The judge, Mr Thorne, continues the disturbing habit of littering what is supposed to be an objective and formal judgement with biased and emotive language. Incredibly, the judge reviews the argument that sparked Mr Wilkinson's decision to register the reg-vardy domain almost exclusively from the side of the company. The most important aspects of the dispute relate to whether Mr Wilkinson had a van he bought from Reg Vardy repossessed and whether Reg Vardy offered to pay the £3,000 Mr Wilkinson claimed he had spent on rebuilding his premises. Reg Vardy's claims are given extensive coverage, whereas Mr Wilkinson's abject denials on both points are limited to one sentence ("this was apparently not accepted by the Respondent"). Worse than this though, the judge then says the court should be unconcerned with any details of the dispute. Which it should - this, after all, is a question over whether Mr Wilkinson has a right to the domain. So why on earth does Clive Thorne feel the need to go into it in such great detail? Perhaps it is to draw attention away from the UDRP rules used to back up the decision to hand over the domain. In order to hand over a domain, the judge must be satisfied that: The domain is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant's trademark - IT IS The respondent has no rights or legitimate interest in the domain The respondent registered and is using the domain in bad faith The first part is proved. The third part, we have explained above, was justified by ignoring the UDRP's explicit wording. The decision is favour of the second part was also flawed. Mr Wilkinson, it could be argued, has a perfect right to the domain as he is making critical remarks about a company based on his situation. Any individual is entitled to criticise someone who has wronged them; the libel laws are there to prevent abuse. Reg Vardy argued that he is offering "no bona fide offering of goods or services" and that he is using the domain simply to divert business away from Reg Vardy itself. The evidence that he is diverting businesses away from Reg Vardy is the fact that the domain is reg-vardy.com. This circular logic makes a mockery of the whole dispute process. It Mr Wilkinson is using the site to draw attention to faults or problems with the company, then he is serving a useful purpose to prospective customers of Reg Vardy. The argument that since he has a domain similar to a company's name he is therefore diverting business away and therefore has no rights to the domain is a pure indication of how UDRP now serves little useful function. It's a poor, flawed and sloppy decision. ® Related Link WIPO's decision Related Links Protest sites galore! Power to the people! Why ICANN's domain dispute rules are flawed: Part I Why ICANN's domain dispute rules are flawed: Part II
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

A major leap in CD jewel case technology

UpdatedUpdated If you're finding that regular sized CD cases are too fat, and those slimmer style ones are too flimsy, then have we got news for you. Designers and boffins seem to be tackling the important issues, which means the manufacturer Stomp can sell DiscSavers. These are made of polypropylene plastic [as used in very cheap 1970s skateboards] which makes 'the cases durable and impact-resistant, and available in bright red, blue, green and yellow, as well as clear'. And they're half the width of a regular case, so you don't have to spend a DIY weekend putting up new shelves to hold your collection. The cases have a street price of $14.99 for a pack of 50, and $3.99 for a box of 10. Mike Hummell, president of Stomp, said: "Most jewel cases crack, break or come unhinged in time. The DiscSaver is an impact-resistant CD/DVD jewel case that really does save discs from exposure, dirt, scratching, moisture and other ways of damage." So it does everything you expected of a case, if you'd bothered to think about it. The company also makes the Click n Burn CD recording software, but doesn't seem to mention its flagship CD jewel case products on its website. But click here for contact details. ® Update Sony has also made a major contribution to CD technology according to reader Anthony McInerney. He's sent in an image of the centre clip of a Sony 650 CD, and higlighted the hi-tech breakthrough in black. The clip holds the CDs in place yet frees them over and over again with a simple push. Anthony says: "A new version that actually bloody works. Clip the CD in and pop it out over and over. You just press the middle and pop. pop. pop. Wow, they did something right." Related Link DiscSavers press release
Robert Blincoe, 23 Jul 2001

Newspaper announces Gerstner's retirement

Sunday Business, a UK newspaper about business which is published on Sundays, has announced Sir Lou Gerstner's retirement from IBM. Sir Lou will step down in March next year, according to the paper, which cites no sources. "Although no formal announcement is expected until early next year, when his contract runs out, Gerstner has let it be known to close colleagues that he plans to step aside," SB's e-business correspondent Guy Dresser writes. His tip for the top, following Gerstner's departure, is Sam Palmisano, currently chief operating officer at IBM. His Excellency Sir Lou de Grand Bleu was beknighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List this year. As an American citizen, the title is strictly honorary and he's not supposed to be called Sir Lou. This seems simewhat churlish: what is the point of having an knighthood if you can't exercise the ancient rights that this charming custom affords - such as droit de seigneur and queue-jumping in swanky restaurants. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jul 2001

Security patch approach is failing

A noted security expert has said current security practices are too reliant on expecting users to apply patches and has suggested better monitoring might lead to more robust security. Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security, said the outbreak of the Code Red Worm, which targets vulnerable IIS Web servers, shows that "the patch treadmill doesn't work". Schneier argues that when even Microsoft's Web admins can't keep up to date with patches (one of the many sites defaced by the worm was the Windows Update page) it shows the approach is failing. He said the patching approach doesn't take into account human weaknesses or that patches sometimes break other parts of a network or sometimes require for critical systems to be taken offline in order to be applied. These are good points, but can the defenders of networks come up with a better approach (and preferably one that doesn't blame the victim for security breaches)? Schneier certainly thinks so and advocates wider use of security monitoring as a means to fill the security gaps. "If you are monitoring your network carefully enough, you'll catch a hacker regardless of what vulnerability he exploited to gain access," said Schneier. "Monitoring makes a network less dependent on keeping patches up to date; it's a process that provides security even in the face of ever-present vulnerabilities, uninstalled patches, and imperfect products." Schneier admitted that vigilant monitoring does not "solve" computer security, but his argument that is a much realistic way of providing resilient security is worth considering. The reactive nature of monitoring can give attackers time to do some serious damage, so we can't see the approach will take us away from the need to apply security patches altogether, but it has the potential to reduce risk. Firewalls alone don't provide adequate defences, particularly against something like Code Red, which is a pre-programmed worm that unleashes a distributed attack against a predetermined target, and intrusion detection systems are generally only as good as their latest attack signatures. We can't see that monitoring would be much good in isolation but it might well be successful at picking up problems more effectively and making Internet security less fragile. After all, it can hardly hurt... ® External Links CERT advisory on Code Red with links to Microsoft's patches Related Stories Internet survives Code Red Code Red bug hits Microsoft security update site IIS worm made to packet Whitehouse.gov IIS buffer-overrun attack has been scripted MS confronts another IIS system-level hole Yet another IIS exploit reported Microsoft IIS hole gives System-level access Security patch distribution - it's Trojan time
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Israelis get world's first McDonald's cybercafe

McDonald's has opened its first cyber fast food outlet. The restaurant, in Tel Aviv, Israel, has more than 20 computer terminals where customers can surf the Net, Reuters reports. To get online, punters buy a token for around $2 at the counter. This entitles them to 20 minutes on the Web - or just enough time to wolf down a kosher Big Mac and fries. "It reflects the lifestyle of youngsters in Israel and in the world - to eat fast food and use the Internet at the same time," Omri Padan, McDonald's Israel CEO, told Israel Radio. The tech-savvy 120 seat burger joint also sells software and has facilities where kids can play computer games for free. ® Related Stories e-cash for Big Macs McDonald's revamps chip business
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001

Fuller quits Telewest for Italian 3G birth

Bob Fuller, chief executive of Telewest's cable division, is to quit the company to head Hutchison Whampoa's 3G business in Italy. The former COO of Orange UK joined Telewest in December 2000 after the mobile operator was acquired by France Telecom. Said Fuller, no doubt armed with plenty of towels and boiling water: "The birth of 3G is undoubtedly the most exciting development in the wireless industry since mobile phones became a mass-market phenomenon." Adam Singer, Telewest group CE, added that the cable division was "performing well" and that "all the key operational indicators show we are continuing to make good headway in the TV, telephony and broadband markets." Earlier this week Telewest announced it had teamed up with cableco, NTL, to promote broadband in the UK. ® Related Story Telewest and ntl in joint bid to plug broadband
Tim Richardson, 23 Jul 2001

NTL fails broadband postcode test

How pushy is cableco NTL in its bid to get punters to sign up to its broadband service? Yesterday, it launched a joint marketing initiative with Telewest to promote its broadband cable services. That's great - but cynics have pointed out that the campaign will be wasted on most people since so few punters actually live in a cable franchise area. Fair comment. But NTL seems to have a way to get round that. It appears to believe that if you keep trying, eventually, things will work out. For punters who find they live outside NTL's area once they've quizzed its online database receive this odd message after tapping in their postcode. "We're sorry, but you don't live in a cabled area. Our database tells us that you live in non-cabled area, therefore we are unable to offer you the ntl broadband service. Why not try another postcode?" That's fine, but whose postcode should we try exactly? And will it mean that we can get broadband cable access any quicker? ® Related Story Telewest and ntl in joint bid to plug broadband
Tim Richardson, 23 Jul 2001

BT DSL – a miracle cure for business

Research commissioned by BT has found that broadband technology lowers costs for businesses, improves efficiency and productivity, and makes great strides towards profitability. What's more, DSL also increases workplace morale, which in turn leads to improvements in the quality of work undertaken by employees. In fact, half of those quizzed in the Fletcher Advisory survey felt that employees were "generally happier" since the company adopted broadband. Broadband also gives companies that much-needed "competitive edge" in a business world where the slightest advantage can make the difference between profit and loss. In short, the only thing broadband failed to deliver was a cure for AIDS and an end to world hunger. What's worrying, is that if BTopenworld's DSL service is so bloody fantastic, why is it not shouting about it from the top of BT Tower? If its DSL service is so good for business, why will half the population be excluded from using it on the grounds that they live in the wrong place? And if BT's DSL offering is so terrific, why have so few people signed up for the service? The report's authors write (it might be worth getting a bucket at this point): "Our findings suggest that the initial impact of Broadband on smaller businesses is far greater than might have been expected. "As researchers we have, frankly, been surprised that an increase in the speed and usability of a simple Internet connection could have been so important to so many different types of business in so short a space of time. "If the trends we have seen in our work so far could indeed be replicated on a massive scale, the impact on the competitive health of the small business sector in this country could be profound." Of course, they're entitled to their opinion. But while the report does utter a few words of caution, it merely glosses over the structural problems of BT and its DSL roll-out leaving informed readers to conclude that this report is nothing short of PR fluff. The report says: "First, the projections about the future contained in this Report are based upon likely demand for Broadband services rather than on actual supply. "We are aware that there are problems of availability of these services in some areas and that connecting up more than a million smaller firms over the next few years is going to represent a significant challenge to service providers and infrastructure companies." A "significant challenge?" Ha! That's one way of putting it. ®
Tim Richardson, 23 Jul 2001

One month on, what has the UK e-minister done for the Internet?

It's been over a month now since the new e-minister Douglas Alexander took his post as junior minister in the DTi. Seeing as the government has repeatedly told us how important the Internet and e-commerce is to its plans, and accounting for suggestions that Mr Alexander was little more than a political posting by chancellor Gordon Brown in return for his help in the election, we thought we'd review his performance so far. Even taking into account the fact that Mr Alexander is finding his feet and that he has taken on a difficult ministerial role with a minimum of experience and has very limited knowledge of the IT and Internet industries, it does not make impressive viewing. We asked the DTi to fill us in what exactly the new e-minister has been up to since 7 June and it kindly obliged. "Douglas Alexander has been involved in a busy range of engagements in his first month in the office. He has obviously had briefings with officials, including the e-envoy, from across all of his areas of responsibility. In addition, the Minister has met with key businesses from a range of sectors. "Specific engagements you may be interested in are the Telecoms Council (27 June) or Smith Institute Seminar 'Broadcasting After the White Paper' (20 June). The Minister has also delivered speeches at the Fabian Society (3 July - this addressed 'Women and the IT Skills Gap') and at the E-Commerce Awards (5 July). "As a priority the Minister has also been involved in discussions on the progress of Broadband rollout and communications legislation. He has also been engaged in parliamentary activity including debates and written/oral questions." Which sounds like a good deal for the first month. In terms of official speeches though, we can only see two. We have a copy of one of these and it includes absolutely nothing of substance. We don't mean that nastily, it just doesn't. What of his parliamentary activity? Since joining as a DTi minister, Mr Alexander has been mentioned in Hansard (Parliament's written record) a total of eight times. All of them were written answers - meaning that his department drafted them - and all but one concerned the Post Office. The one remaining written answer was the announcement of an official report by the Director General of Telecommunications. We also asked why the e-minister did not have a dedicated Web site like the e-envoy. The official response is: "The e-commerce minister's work is already represented on the DTI website". Is it? We decided to have a look. Looking over the site, the only link that would appear to refer to e-commerce is "Information Age". This gives a lengthy rundown on the DTi and technology but we couldn't find a connection to any e-commerce information. It also still lists Patricia Hewitt as the e-commerce minister when she is in fact now the Trade Secretary. Maybe a search on his name would herald more. Searching on "Douglas Alexander" produces 51 results. Sadly, only five of them relate to the new e-minister. Two of them point to the one speech he has made and three to his DTi biography. We learn nothing new here apart from the fact that his interests include running and angling. And so in answer to the question: what has the new e-minister done regarding the Internet in the first month of office? The answer is nothing at all. ® Related Stories Douglas Alexander is the new e-minister Blair's hired the wrong e-minister by mistake!
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Annual report paints Oftel in new light

Promoting access to the Internet was an "important focus of Oftel's work in a year when around 2.75 million more homes were connected up to the Internet", the winged watchdog claimed in its annual report published today. The telecoms regulator also maintained that "working for consumers remained at the heart of Oftel's work in 2000". In an attempt to justify its continued existence Oftel claimed that its efforts forced BT to offer wholesale, unmetered Internet access to other operators making a "major contribution to the development of unmetered Internet access in the UK". Ha! What piffle. We've yet to see a copy of the full report but if this twaddle contained in this press release is anything to go by, we can't wait to read its explanation of the progress it made in the broadband arena. That really should make fascinating reading. Said David "Harry Potter" Edmonds, Oftel head boy and chief wizard: "Oftel addressed the challenges of a fast changing market through a strategy of 'competition plus' - meeting the needs of consumers through proportionate regulation. "This means withdrawing from regulation where it is no longer necessary, but taking decisive action where competition is not yet delivering the best deal for the consumer," he said. Decisive action? Oftel? Pull the other one. ®
Tim Richardson, 23 Jul 2001

El Reg's fave security/hacking links

Security Related SecurityFocus: Home of the BugTraq archives; security consulting services; links to security/hacking news from around the Web (updated continuously); and fine, original articles by Kevin Poulsen and guest contributors (including El Reg's own, by virtue of a content sharing agreement). Security News Network (formerly Hacker News Network): Links to security/hacking news (updated daily); original research leading to periodic embarrassments for SW vendors; security consulting services. PacketStorm: Links to selected security news (updated periodically); free security tools; live exploit code (for research purposes only, please); discussion forums and a vast archive. CERT: Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon Uni; one of the largest archives of virus reports, exploits, bugs, advisories and network-administrative worst practices on the Web. Cryptome: Cryptography and surveillance news and documents; government shenanigans involving crypto, surveillance and related technology. SecurityPortal: News links; advisories; original articles; security services and a nice crypto section. SecuriTeam: Portal with news; exploits and tools; product reviews; and separate focus areas for UNIX and Win-NT/2K. Whitehats: Tools; forums; bug reports; news links; and original research articles. Hacking Related Hackerz Hideout: Big educational site with hacking tutorials covering use of viruses and Trojans, network clients and IP architecture; holes, bugs and their related exploits; a zine archive; and a vast archive of toolz, appz and sploits. Attrition.org: Big site with news links; advisories; essays; a crypto archive; and an immense archive of defaced Web pages. IceFortress: Educational site with all the basic toolz and appz; challenges and games; and forums with extremely patient admins willing to enlighten even the most clueless newbie. Ksoze's Cracking Workshop: Tips, tricks and original source code for advanced crackers. AntiOffline: Irreverent, satirical zine devoted to hacking news; original articles; and spoofed Web pages. Fravia+: Very original site devoted to searching/penetrating the Net with creativity. Deny.de: Educational portal with news; appz; toolz; and forums with patient, helpful admins. SamSpade: Heaps of useful CGI gateways. Mixter Security: CGI gateways; and security self-tests. CyberArmy: Big site with appz, toolz, tutorials; a hacking-related search engine; and challenges and games.
Team Register, 23 Jul 2001

NASA scramjet probe hots up

On June 2 NASA's experimental scramjet - the X-43A - was completely destroyed during a test flight, as we previously reported. To recap, the X-43A is a prototype hypersonic aircraft, powered by a 'scramjet'. This ducts air directly from the atmosphere, mixing it with hydrogen before combustion. The forward speed of the vehicle provides compression, thereby eliminating the need for conventional jet engine turbines. The speed of the airflow through the engine remains supersonic throughout. The X-43A was powered by a Pegasus booster rocket, intended to accelerate the vehicle to a sufficient speed for the scramjet to kick in. About five seconds after the vehicle was dropped from a B-52, there was a malfunction which caused the X-43A and booster to "depart from controlled flight". Ground controllers destroyed the vehicle, the remains of which came down in the Pacific. Almost two months on, NASA is none the wiser as to the reason for the failure. Robert W. Hughes, chairman of the investigation board admitted as much, adding that the team "was working to fully understand the causal relationship and emphasized that the solution might involve several contributing causes rather than a single cause". He was, however, optimistic that the boffins would eventually get to the bottom of it. Hughes went on to say that the team has "established a fault tree of several hundred possible or contributing causes that are being systematically investigated. Approximately 70 percent of these faults have been eliminated from consideration. The majority of the remaining faults are in the [Pegasus] booster vehicle control arena". Related stories NASA scramjet crashes and burns
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2001

Perceived security risks vary widely across Europe

Firms in different European countries are divided on what security risks pose the biggest threat to their business. Multinationals are failing to take this into account when devising corporate policies. These are the main findings of research conducted by security specialist Evidian which found that viruses were seen as the major threat in France, Spain and Germany (two in five named it the top risk) but British firms were far more concern about sabotage by disgruntled employees. Meaning in Scandinavia 50 per cent of the firms questioned in a Europe-wide survey of 250 firms thought that accidental damage by staffers was the greatest risk facing firms. In Italy, financial fraud was identified as the biggest headache. The research also identified considerable differences in the areas of the business infrastructure perceived to be most at risk. In Germany and Spain, Intranets were identified by the majority of respondents as being most in need of protection, whilst in France, Scandinavia and Benelux it was Web sites. In Britain, 60 per cent of companies identified corporate databases as the most vulnerable points of the IT infrastructure. Firewalls and password security remain by far the most popular technologies to protect corporate networks and data across most of Europe, except (interestingly) in Germany where encryption is now the most recognised technique. We think these differences reflect variations in national character as much as real threats but Evidian, which is a subsidiary of Groupe Bull, is calling for firms to consider applying local variations to corporate security, within the bounds of making sure overall security policies are still consistent. Last August, Bull had to mount an internal investigation after confidential customer data was left on a French Web server in plain view sans password or cryptographic protection. Customers reportedly affected included Royal Air Force, Barclays and France Telecom. The problems didn't affect Bull's UK site and we can't help pondering whether Evidian decided a review of different approaches to security throughout Europe was called for after it's own up close and personal experiences. But the survey does throw up some interesting findings and raises the question of whether multinational firms are not giving local BOFHs enough autonomy. ® External Links Evidian's survey of European security Related Stories Too much security is holding back ecommerce Risk managers run scared of online cockups Online brigands take to billing fraud and identity theft
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

HP open sources gadget R&D

HP is to liberate some of its R&D crown jewels, much as IBM's AlphaWorks lab does now. A number of projects under HP's CoolTown banner will be released tomorrow in a SourceForge-style developer forum. A lot of the ideas behind CoolTown are intended to make 'pervasive' and 'context aware' technologies real, or as the project leaders told us when we last dropped in to see the work in progress about a year ago, HEHAW ('Hey, Everything Has A Web Page). The source will be released under the GNU GPL. Amongst the goodies on offer will be 'beacons' and key-fob sized 'taggies', which transmit and receive a URL wirelessly, a 2.4 kernel-based Linux reference platform, 'baseboard', the CoolBase appliance server; a web presence manager; and 'esquirt', which HP says allows a phone or PDA to function like a universal remote control. Assuming anything else is listening. It's not the first time HP has tried to rev interest by enlisting the GPL. Its E-Speak project, a far more mature and coherent framework for web services, was released under a software libre license a couple of years ago. ® Related Link The CoolBase family of projects can be found here.®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

Kodak DX3500

ReviewReview The DX3500 is aimed at newcomers to digital photography and comes bundled with Kodak's new EasyShare software, which makes transferring snaps to your PC a doddle. Once they're on your system, it helps you to edit and share them. The camera comes with a dual-purpose USB docking cradle, which both recharges the NiMH battery (though this can be replaced by AA batteries if you run out of juice on the move) and provides a simple way to download photos. Pressing the button on the cradle launches the Kodak Picture Transfer software; click Transfer Now and your pictures are downloaded and displayed in a user-friendly interface. Here you can do basic image-editing, email them or create a slideshow. The camera itself is fairly basic, as you'd expect for a sub-£300 device, but it does the job well. Buttons and menu options are kept to a minimum - the DX3500 is as close to a point-and-shoot camera as you'll find. Picture quality is impressive for a low-cost camera, aided by the 2.2Mp (megapixel) CCD (charge-coupled device). Frustratingly there are only two quality options – best (1800x1200 pixels) and good (900x600 pixels) – so even at low resolution, you can only store about 50 pictures on the built-in 8MB memory. But the camera also has a CompactFlash slot, so you can expand the storage capacity to meet your needs. Some key features are lacking, such as an optical zoom lens and the ability to capture video and audio. Both of these will be available on the DX3500's big brother, the DX3600, which is due out this summer and will only cost £50 more. The DX3500 lives up to Kodak's promise of making digital photography easier and less of a daunting prospect for consumers. But its lack of advanced features may prevent it from being as popular as it could have been. ® Info Price: £254 Contact: 0870 243 0270 Website: www.kodak.co.uk Specs 2.2Mp CCD 3x digital zoom 1.8in LCD 8MB internal memory CompactFlash slot Built-in flash USB cradle Rechargeable NiMH battery Video-out This review is taken from the August 2001 issue. All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 23 Jul 2001

Mobile production slips 16% in Q2

Worldwide mobile phone manufacture slipped 16 per cent in the second quarter. Around 87 million phones were made during the three month period - the second consecutive quarter that the number of new handsets fell below the hundred million mark, Asiabiztech reports, quoting figures from a survey by Nikkei Market Access. Regarding Q3, production is expected to rise slightly, but figures are still tipped to be lower than for Q2 the previous year. For the whole year, the number of phones produced is forecast to drop 12 per cent to 374 million. Even if manufacture picks up in the third and fourth quarters, the market is not expected to fully recover until 2002. ® Related Link Worldwide Production of Mobile Phones for Q2 drops substantially Related Stories Nokia reports 16% profit drop in Q2 Philanderer-catching mobile phone launched
Linda Harrison, 23 Jul 2001
Cat 5 cable

Fujitsu Siemens introduces 128-way Solaris server

Fujitsu Siemens has announced the availability of what it claims to be the world's most powerful Unix server, the 128-way Primepower 2000. The Primepower 2000, which is based on 563MHz Sparc64 processors, recently captured a SAP R/3 benchmark record. And Fujitsu claims that running Oracle 8.1.7 on its Solaris 8.0 platform, the server ran 1.8 times faster than its nearest competitor (not named) at 90 per cent of its overall capacity. Fujitsu said it is the only vendor that can support a range of Intel and Solaris-based servers and took a dig at Sun by suggesting that its Primepower 2000 out performed recently introduced 750MHz UltraSPARC III-based servers. We're not sure that's an entirely fair comparison because Sun has yet to introduce an UltraSPARC III-based replacement for its top of the range (64-way) E10000 server, which is pitched at the same high-end mainframe replacement segment Fujitsu is going for here. The Primepower 2000 comes with dynamic reconfiguration and other features associated with high-end Solaris servers. With the needs of growing businesses and (particularly) application service providers in mind, Fujitsu will provide the Primepower 2000 through a capacity on demand program. That's just as well because the server comes in at around £5 million a time, so it's difficult to see Fujitsu Siemens selling many of them. ® Related Stories Sun Hardware Roadmaps rain on The Reg Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter Compaq Alpha box steals 9i benchmark laurels HP offers 'pay as you go' pricing for servers
John Leyden, 23 Jul 2001

Protesters lay siege to Adobe

UpdatedUpdated Angry computer users laid siege to Adobe's San Jose HQ this morning, in one of several rallies around the United States in protest at the arrest of Russian cryptographer Dmitry Sklyarov. Sklyarov demonstrated the feeble 'security' in Adobe's eBook file format at DefCon in Las Vegas last week, and found himself arrested under the US DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Sklyarov's employer develops a version that circumvents the encryption on Adobe eBooks for the benefit of partially sighted computers, but only works on paid-for eBooks. So it's difficult to see what Adobe is losing here, except for its ability to rob the blind. Literally. Linux kernel developer Alan Cox resigned his Usenix post at the weekend, urging non-US companies to boycott events in the land of the free until the draconian DMCA is repealed. Don Marti, who organized the San Jose protest, said that the campaign was receiving support from within Adobe:- "Many Adobe employees and it may be the majority are disgusted by the behaviour of Adobe management," he said. ® Related Link Photos of the protest by Greg Broiles, hosted by Cryptome
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001

Internet book publishing ruling breaks new ground

A ruling by a US judge may significantly change the book publishing business. A district court judge agreed with electronic book publisher RosettaBooks that traditional publishing houses do not have an automatic right to print their authors in an electronic format. This means that authors are entitled to sell their electronic rights separately. The implications for author and both publishing houses are obvious. Without a contract specifying both paper and electronic publishing, an author could have two contracts for the same book. This in turn could see two companies competing over the same book. Unsurprisingly, the decision that electronic distribution is a new technology and should be governed by different agreements has not be greeted with joy by traditional publishers. So will we see an e-book industry develop in the next few years? Maybe. Publishing electronically has the advantage of being very cheap and virtually one-price. One version saved on a server can become one million versions. The situation with paper printing is very different. This means greater risks can be taken, more books published and so on and so forth. Practically though, the ease of publication could lead to a swamping of the market with inferior books. Plus, would recognised authors want to sell the rights to their books at lower prices (which they most likely would have to)? Would such authors also risk alienating their paper publishers by signing another contract for electronic publishing? And we haven't even covered the fact that e-books have so far not proved too popular. No matter what anyone says, it will be a long time before we are comfortable reading huge tracts of text on a VDU. We asked young, hip author and former book editor Nicholas Blincoe (who just happens to be Rob news editor's brother) what he thought about it all. "It's true that old publishing contracts leave the whole thing open. There have been a number of high-level seminars with the heads of publishing houses and the heads of big agencies to hammer this problem out. Everyone is trying very hard to sort it out." But has he or anyone else he knows signed up with an electronic publisher? "I haven't signed anything and hardly anyone else has either." Would he think about it? "Yes, if the money was big enough, but there's not much money involved at the moment." Would his publisher get shirty if he signed an electronic contract? "Well they would have been a year ago. But Internet books have not really taken off, so publishers are now far more relaxed." It looks as though all publishers will do is extend contracts into electronic publishing as well, although one other possibility does exist: different versions of a book, catering for the different format. Author Douglas Rushkoff is already testing this out, as well as trying for more interaction with his novels. Check out his Web site here. Related Stories eBook security debunker arrested by Feds Boycott Adobe campaign launches
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jul 2001

Microsoft banks on Sendo for smartphones

Snubbed by the phone industry giants, Microsoft is increasing its investment in the tiny British handset manufacturer Sendo. Sendo, which already makes quite dinky cheap and cheerful GSM phones, will offer the Z100 GPRS phone running the Beast's Stinger platform towards the end of this year, or early next year. That's promised to be a triband handset using Microsoft's HTML browser. With the major vendors including Nokia, 'Ericssony' (the alliance of Sony and Ericsson, you'll have guessed) Motorola and Panasonic opting instead for the Symbian EPOC OS, the Beast has been obliged to shop its platform around the industry minnows - with Mitsubishi, Sagem and Sendo so far taking the bait. After an unhappy time with Windows producing a the Orange videophone, Siemens has since joined the Symbian camp too. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jul 2001