14th > August > 2001 Archive

Shareholders sue Rambus

Having been stung with a $7.12 million payment to cover Infineon's legal expenses, Rambus now faces the prospect of further payouts to its own shareholders. New York-based law firm Beatie and Osborn filed a class-action suit against the memory developer late last week on behalf of shareholders. The suit alleges that Rambus violated US securities regulations, specifically that the company persuaded would-be investors to buy RMBS stock by claiming it would be able to deliver revenues from royalties on patents that it didn't actually own. The suit follows last week's ruling in the US District Court that the jury overseeing Rambus' legal action against Infineon was right to conclude that Rambus committed fraud. Rambus withheld details of SDRAM patents it had filed from JEDEC, the chip industry standards body, while a member of that organisation's SDRAM specification-setting committee. By knowing the spec. in advance, Rambus could patent the technology beforehand and reap the rewards after the final SDRAM spec. was declared a standard. The upshot of that judgement is that Rambus may not be able to realise the revenues it promised it would be able to generate from licensing its SDRAM technologies. That, in turn, has knocked Rambus' share-price right down, to below $10, so it's no wonder investors are pissed off. Rambus' promises of rich royalty rewards drove its share price up to $450, the suit claims. ® Related Story Rambus must pay Infineon $7.12m
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

ATI unveils Radeon 8500, 7500

UpdatedUpdated ATI didn't surprise anyone by announcing its latest generation of graphics card today, but it did astound almost everyone by not calling the new products Radeon 2. The new cards, based on ATI's R200 and RV200 graphics chips, will be called the Radeon 8500 and Radeon 7500, respectively. As expected from the various leaks ATI has sprung over the last three or four months, the Radeon 8500 brings programmable pixel and vertex shaders - together known as Smartshader technology - to the Radeon family, along with ATI's n-patch system, Truform. Smartshader ties in with the latest update to DirectX 8, release 8.1. The new chip's clock speed is 250MHz, as anticipated, while the memory clocks in at 275MHz, according to ATI. The 8500 will ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM in September and offer digital LCD, video output and dual-monitor support alongside DVD playback, all as expected. What's new is the price: $399, putting it right up alongside Nvidia's GeForce 3. The RV200-based Radeon 7500 will also ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, also in September, and with all of the above display options for $199. Unlike the 8500, the 7500 is based on previous Radeon technology so only provides a DirectX 7 level of functionality. The 7500 maintains just two rendering pipelines, compared to the 8500's four. ATI also extended the FireGL workstation-oriented graphics card family it bought off SonicBlue earlier this year with an R200-based board, the FireGL 8800. Previous FireGL boards were based on the company's own FireGL processor, developed by IBM. The new Radeon-based boards is a clear sign ATI wants to utilise its own technology, as we predicted. ATI calls the FireGL's chip the Radeon 8800. That suggests it's more than the regular R200, which drives the Radeon 8500. We wonder if it's the dual-R200 rig ATI has been known to be working on from its own roadmap. The FireGL 8800 will also ship with 64MB of DDR SDRAM, in October. ® Related Stories ATI to launch R200 next week ATI R200, R300 roadmap spied ATI Radeon 200 debuts on Web ATI unwraps DirectX 8.1-based Smartshader ATI Radeon 2: more specs leak ATI confirms Radeon 2 to ship late summer
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

Nvidia lost 13% marketshare in Q2

ATI appears to be winning back the marketshare it has lost to its arch-rival, Nvidia, over the last year or so. According to the latest stats from market watcher Mercury Research, ATI's share of the desktop PC graphics business grew six per cent during the second quarter. By contrast, Nvidia's share fell 13 per cent. Mercury's numbers put ATI on 27 per cent, up from 21 per cent in Q1. Nvidia still dominates the market, thanks to a 53 per cent share, down from 66 per cent in Q1. Matrox came third, with a meagre eight per cent of the market. But, unlike Nvidia, it managed to grow sales during Q2, albeit by just one percentage point. Mercury Research blames Nvidia's fall on the company's own Q2 price increases, which led not only to reduced sales during that quarter, but better sales in Q1 after buyers got wind of the increases to come. The figures also suggest that higher margin high-end parts weren't what the market wanted during Q2, and powerful but cheaper mid-range parts, such as ATI's Radeon, were the order of the day. ATI is hoping that will change a little in the coming months as it ships its long-awaited response to Nvidia's high end GeForce 3, the Radeon 8500 (aka R200). However, ATI hasn't ignored the mid-range, and has released the Radeon 7500 to shore up its position there. Nvidia can take some consolation from Gartner Dataquest's latest figures, which show it leading the workstation graphics market with a 32 per cent share (46 per cent, if you only consider x86-based machines). It had better watch out - ATI is getting aggressive in this arena too, leveraging the FireGL brand it bought off SonicBlue and the R200 chip, brought together as the FireGL 8800 card, announced this morning. ATI is also taking the fight to Nvidia in the chipset market with its own Pentium 4 offering to rival Nvidia's AMD Athlon-based nForce part. ® Related Stories ATI unveils Radeon 8500, 7500 ATI preps A3 alternative to Nvidia's nForce nForce to generate 10% of Nvidia's 2002 sales Nvidia to offer GeForce 3-based nForce in 18-24 months ATI loss improves - but not enough Nvidia accused of 'heavy handed' tactics
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

US broadband row gets louder

A bitter war of words is raging in the US over the roll-out of broadband services across the country. Those in favour of the Freedom and Broadband Deployment Act - introduced in July 1999 - believe it will give a much needed fillip to the sector by removing red-tape that ties the hands of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs). Opponents fear that the bill - known as Tauzin-Dingell after co-sponsors William 'Billy' Tauzin, a Republican from Louisiana, and John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan - will make the telcos even more dominant and snuff out any chance of genuine competition. The latest salvo comes from the American ISP Association, a vocal opponent of the bill, which claims that the four Bell giants already have a stranglehold on DSL deployment. It jumped on recent figures from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which showed that DSL growth during the final six months of 2000 was 108 per cent, with annual growth running at a whopping 453 per cent. Said Sue Ashdown of AISPA: "The upshot of this FCC report could not be more clear: it's a straightforward factual presentation on surging broadband deployment that torpedoes the whole rationale for Tauzin-Dingell. "Tauzin-Dingell is grounded in the idea that rolling back one of the most important consumer protections of the 1996 Telecom Act is necessary to help the four Bell giants roll out DSL lines. But a 453 per cent annual increase shows how shallow that reasoning is! "The other crucial fact - not included in today's report - is that fewer than one in five consumer and business DSL lines is administered by competing carriers. All the rest are under Bell company control. "So DSL deployment is surging and the Bell giants have a stranglehold on it. "Rather than pursuing the Tauzin-Dingell give-away to the Bells, Congress should instead focus on bringing healthier competition to the DSL industry," she said. ®
Tim Richardson, 14 Aug 2001

Handspring to update Visor line RSN

Palm-based PDA maker Handspring is preparing some new models and price cuts to help it win back customers after a disastrous second quarter. Two new Visors are in the works, according to hints heard by Web site PDA Buzz: one codenamed Ace, the other codenamed Columbia. At least, we reckon they're codenames - as PDA Buzz notes, they're certainly odd names for shipping product. Little is known about either machine beyond on the PDAs they're set to supersede: the Visor Deluxe and Visor Platinum, respectively. The Platinum is due for a price cut at the end of this week, rumour suggests, as is the Visor Edge. The Platinum will fall from $249 to $199, the Edge from $399 to $299, both in 19 August. ® Related Stories Handspring fires 40 as revenues plunge 50% Handspring halves Q4 sales expectations Review: Handspring Visor Edge PDA Buzz: Handspring to announce new PDAs next week
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

You just have to check this out

UpdatedUpdated It's not often that we recommend some complete craziness on the Internet - in fact we have been doing it far less frequently of late, which may be a sad indication of how creativity has dried up on the modern Internet. However... You have to pay a visit to David Stevenson's, Rammstein's and Robert Manuel's musical comic lunacy here. We've no idea what's going on here but we like it. It loads very fast and begins with some bellowing chant before kicking into a ukulele with Maggie Thatcher taking lead role with a cat body. "Trazan? Ja. Trazan? Ja" As the Swedish music corrupts the senses, the Houses of Parliament start burning, the giant bunny potters around behind it, Maggie zaps flying fish with her laser eyes and fat naked deers dance with Bez from the Happy Mondays. It ends, appropriately enough, with a Kebab King sandwich. Remarkable. Update You won't believe this but we've found out what it all means. Well, not the images but the song. Jules has been in touch to tell us that his mate Tobias remembers the song from his childhood. Apparently, it comes from a famous Swedish TV show for kids. The song is of a monkey, called Banarne (and Apan as well ?!) and a human Tarzan-wannabe called Trazan or Trazan Apansson. Together they just kinda hung out in the jungle and sang songs. The song you can hear on this particular gem of lunacy consists of the monkey asking the boy if he wants to do something cool. The monkey suggests singing a song while he hangs by his tail. If you want more of the same, then go here. Not only that but Robert Manuel has been in touch, and given us this link which gives more info on the animation - called Jada apparently. And here is a pic of them. And more Yet more info. This time from Fredrik Larsson. He explains: "The swedish comic/author/artist/Mickey Mouse-aholic Lars Aberg depicts the figure Trazan Apansson. The role of Banarne is played by Klasse Möllberg, a swedish singer/comic. These figures were part of a childrens TV-show in the seventies. They recorded a number of songs like 'Banankontakt' (Banana-contact), 'Ja da' and 'Fantomens brallor' (The Phantom's trousers). They have also recorded a couple of albums in the nineties, and played on the Hultsfred festival in '97. The band playing the music is called 'Electric Banana Band' with Jan 'Janne' Schaffer on lead guitar (often using one shaped like a banana)." So there you have it. Related Link Strap in your brains and go on a journey
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Aug 2001

IBM ditches AMD in US, Europe

IBM has confirmed it is no longer selling PCs based on AMD processors in North America and Europe - and hasn't done so since May. Hardly a ringing endorsement for Athlon and Duron, that. Quite apart from Big Blue's decision to drop the chips, no one else noticed for the best part of three months, until a CNET source tipped the newswire off. That said, IBM's support for AMD was always lukewarm. In the US, it only offered Athlon and Duron as build-to-order options on certain consumer-oriented models. In Canada, it actually shipped a couple of full models based on the parts. You can still buy them, apparently, but once the warehouse is empty, that's it. IBM will continue to sell AMD-based boxes in Japan and the Far East, a territory far more willing to embrace Intel-alternatives than the West. Witness Transmeta's success - notwithstanding the current economic downturn - over there. IBM has used AMD chips before, and so may well be willing to consider them again in the future, once the PC market becomes rather more vibrant than it is at the moment. Arguably the delayed release of the desktop version of AMD's latest-generation Athlon, based on the Palomino core, originally expected in July but now set to take place in September, was all about saving the company's strength for when it will really need it: when the market picks up through the back-to-school season and the arrival of Windows XP in October. AMD will have to face up to Intel's Pentium 4 drive, centring for the moment on the arrival of the 2GHz chip on 26 August and big price cuts to the rest of the family on the same date. It's certainly easier to compete manoeuvres like these with a brand new processor than a model that's been selling for four months. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

Christine Hamilton moans about ‘Mr Plod’ reading her emails

Christine Hamilton, wife of disgraced former MP Neil Hamilton and one of three people being investigated over rape claims, has continued her public whinging about her and her husband's treatment by attacking "Mr Plod" for reading her emails. She said: "I know an enormous number of people have been sending me emails... but I can't get at them because the police have, to my mind, stolen our computers and some Mr Plod is probably reading what they've sent to me. If they are not enraged by that, I am." Mrs Hamilton's latest outburst is beginning to sound like a woman who is revelling in the public attention. Not only are her comments completely wrong but the search for emails is likely to prove the main defence plank her and her husband have against the accusations. The woman who claims to have been raped in the Hamilton's presence and subjected to indecent activities by them while being raped claims that she received several "pornographic and threatening emails" from the pair, coming from a "britishbattleaxe" email address. The Hamiltons deny any such communication. Hence the police impounded the computers and are searching them for any such emails. Without the emails, the case against Hamiltons would most likely collapse. Ironically, it is Mrs Hamilton's obvious technical ignorance that will make the lack of any emails even stronger. If such emails were sent and received, neither Hamilton is likely to know how to remove it completely from their system. This is why police are currently combing the hard discs for deleted emails. The likelihood that police are checking emails sent in recent days is extremely low. They are looking for emails sent earlier this year. It would be an abuse of police powers if they started reviewing emails sent since they impounded the computers. Besides, Mrs Hamilton has completely failed to understand that she can easily download her emails by buying a new computer and setting up the account again. The Hamiltons are not stupid people, leaving the possibility that they are simply seeking as much publicity for their cause as possible, which includes a threatened action for unlawful arrest which may stretch to six figures. ® Related Story Emails will prove vital to Hamiltons' rape denial
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Aug 2001

Tiny shifts PC manufacturing to Scotland

Tiny Computers is to pull its manufacturing facilities from China and shift them to Scotland. The UK outfit has started trialling a plant in Prestwick, near Glasgow, which will be able to pump out up to 3,500 computers a day for the British market. Tiny said today it had signed a five-year deal worth £200 million with contractors Fullarton Computer Industries - which also manufactures for Compaq. Tiny's first PCs will start rolling off the Scottish production lines at the end of August, and it expects to be producing around 1,300 PCs per day within a couple of months. According to a Tiny representative, it is cheaper for the company to produce PCs in Scotland than in China. This is due to the freight costs involved in shipping goods over to Britain. Tiny reckons the move will let it react to market changes a lot quicker and is promising to drop its PC prices in the UK. It is also looking into ways to bring its notebook production over to the Prestwick plant. Tiny's notebook manufacturing is based in the Far East and makes up about ten per cent of its overall revenues. "This decision by Tiny should send out a clear message to the global IT industry that the UK has the skilled people and infrastructure necessary to maintain and grow high technology operations," said Minister for E-Commerce and Competitiveness Douglas Alexander. Manufacturing for Tiny's US operation, which has shut several stores recently, is to be kept in the Far East. The statement by Tiny, which has been manufacturing in the Far East for ten years, came less than a week after US computer giant Gateway announced its intention to shut operations in Ireland and the UK in the face of plummeting sales in Europe. ® Related Stories Gateway pulls out of UK and Ireland Tiny culls US stores NEC to axe 600 Scottish jobs
Linda Harrison, 14 Aug 2001

Tech funds dry up as VCs take a holiday

Venture capitalists continue to desert the US technology sector, according to research published by PricewaterhouseCoopers and VentureOne. PwC reckons that this year $30 billion will be invested in tech companies, compared to $89 billion last year. Telcos, infrastructure companies and service providers are bearing the brunt, with investment falling from $6 billion to $1.7 billion. "Many venture capitalists have taken advantage of the slowdown to take holidays," says Pwc's Tracy Lefteroff in the FT. The FT warns that the lack of VC investment could stifle technology innovation, which many will find exquisitely ironic. Many technology innovations were developed without any VC money whatsoever: it's Government largesse that contributed to the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, for example, while the great speculative bubble of recent years was caused by VCs pouring billions into companies without a realistic business plan, on such technological innovations as FedEx'ing pet food around the country. But then, they would say that, wouldn't they? ®
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Aug 2001

Blueyonder to launch new games site

Blueyonder is to launch a new broadband games and entertainment site in September in a bid to show-off the potential for hi-speed Net services. Exact details of the site remain under wraps but online games playing will feature heavily. It's understood Blueyonder - the broadband service from cableco Telewest - has poached half a dozen Wireplay staff made redundant from Gameplay earlier this year to help set up the service. A spokesman for Blueyonder confirmed that the new site would be up and running in a couple of weeks. He added: "It's a service for gamers, by gamers." Films, gigs and music will also feature heavily in the new offering. Flextech, Telewest's content division, is understood to be providing content for the new site. According to Blueyonder these content areas are crucial for driving the growth of broadband. Most of the content will be exclusive to Blueyonder subscribers although it's understood some will be available to other broadband users. ®
Tim Richardson, 14 Aug 2001

Fat cat severance packages for Lucent bosses

Details have emerged of a multi-million dollar severance package that struggling telecoms equipment manufacturer Lucent has paid out to its formed chief executive, Richard McGinn. Reuters reports that Lucent's quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveals that it gave McGinn a $5.5 million one-time payment and took on loans of $4.3 million that he had run up with two banks in exchange for the repurchase of his stock options. McGinn already has a pension plan from Lucent worth $1 million a year, so its not as if he was going to go short even without the severance package. When you take into account the stock options McGinn exercised before Lucent's stock went through the floor then its clear that he's sitting pretty on an extremely tidy nest egg, and that's even before you consider a health package and an $9,000 a month office space allowance from Lucent. Lucent's former chief financial officer Deborah Hopkins has also received a more than generous severance package that includes a one-off payment of $3.3 million and the repurchase of stock options worth $1.3 million. She'd been at the firm little over a year when she was ousted in May, and will probably have much of her $4 million signing bonus still in the bank. News of the fat cat severance package given to former Lucent execs is sure to irks the firm's workers, particularly because there is widespread discontent at the firm about the severance packages given to ordinary workers who have lost their jobs. There are 19,500 staffers and 5,000 contractors at Lucent that have already being shown the door, some of which have received poor severance packages. Some disgruntled former workers resorted to extreme actions including a threat in April by a technician to blow up a Lucent plant in Massachusetts with a fertiliser bomb after layoffs were announced at the facility. As previously reported, last month Lucent announced plans to axe another 15,000 to 20,000 jobs as part of its plan to reduce its costs by $4 billion per year. The former darling of Wall Street lost $3.25 billion in its third quarter on sales down 21 per cent at $5.8 billion. Much of the problems that have afflicted Lucent can be traced back to poor business decisions, a failure to execute on plans and a long string of damaging incidents that bedevilled Lucent during McGinn's tenure as chief executive, before he was replaced by Henry Schatt last October. Securities and Exchange Commission accounting probes into Lucent's finances after overstated sales figures and allegations that workers had sold hi-tech secrets to the Chinese were among the bombshells that hit Lucent during McGinn's reign. Of course a downturn in IT spending and the collapse of competitive carriers in the States, a key market for Lucent, have hardly helped matters. That said it very difficult to think what McGinn has done to deserve such generous package after leading Lucent towards penury. One thing for sure is he wouldn't have received such a package if employees (or shareholders) had drawn up his pay-off package. ® Related Stories Lights-out cost cutting drive at Lucent Lucent to cut another 15,000 to 20,000 jobs Lucent to lay off 30% of senior managers Lucent jilts Alcatel at the Altar Battered, bothered, bewildered - Nortel and Lucent shareholders Lucent denies bankruptcy rumours Lucent to restate sales and cut 10,000 (full-time) jobs SEC probes Lucent accounting practice Lucent workers busted for inside tech swindle MemoWatch Lucent in fiscal clampdown MemoWatch Get touchy-feely with EMC and Lucent
John Leyden, 14 Aug 2001
server room

Microsoft lays into Oracle (and Sun)

InterviewInterview IT-Analysis spoke to Gordon Mangione, the vice-president of Microsoft's SQL Server Team, about SQL Server and where he sees it in the market. How's the year been for SQL Server? SQL Server has had a truly tremendous year. We've nailed down 35 per cent year-on-year growth. We've broken the $1 billion sales mark. And we aren't leaving it there. We've got Oracle firmly in our sights. We are catching them with ease right now, last year we outdid them on NT whilst they remained flat. Our database business is one of the best places you could wish to be right now. I think Oracle would probably beg to differ on a few of those points. If you look at Oracle, it's a one product company. Oracle is in serious trouble. It's revenues are down, its applications aren't any good and its database revenues fell 5 per cent. And we are stealing market share from them very easily. Oracle is getting hit from all angles. IBM is hammering from it from one side and we are hammering it from the other. They're trying, there's no doubt about that, but Oracle is a company in trouble. And how do you believe that Microsoft is hurting Oracle? We are hurting them with our database and its OLAP solutions. Oracle is trying to keep up with its relational stuff but it really can't compete. If you look at what customers are demanding today, they want real business intelligence generated on the fly, in real time, so that they can respond there and then. If you're going to tackle this right you need to be able to develop many dimensions in your cubes and with a relational database that's very difficult to do. It is possible but as you build them you bloat your database and you slow the queries to snails pace. That's no good and that's just one of the areas where Oracle is messing up. How do you believe your BI solutions are superior? Our business intelligence runs across all platforms, you can stick it wherever, Oracle, IBM, and we're finding that more and more people want to do this because our OLAP proposition is so strong. This is a very viable business for us. We can sell our OLAP solutions right on top of Oracle and the customers love it because it so fast. It beats Oracle hands down. But you operate different markets. Microsoft plays at the low end whilst Oracle does business at the high end. How can you seriously say you compete? Just look at our growth rates. Look at the market. The database market is huge right now and growing at impressive rates. We are well positioned to take that market from Oracle. The work that we have been doing with Unisys and Compaq running very large, enterprise-class systems shows that isn't true. We have benchmarks on Unisys systems with SQL Server running SAP with more than 20,000 concurrent users. SQL Server is used to run businesses. The fact remains that SQL Server is not considered an enterprise class system and it won't be until Windows is considered an enterprise class system - and that's a good few years away yet. Isn't it about time you ported your products? I do appreciate that we have a perception battle to fight in the high-end and we will continue to do that. But as far as porting our database that simply will not happen. We will not port to other operating systems. We are absolutely committed to Windows. If you start porting your software you have to get into all sorts of deals and all sorts of concessions and ultimately you end up with a preferred platform anyway. I don't believe that porting is good for the product. We work with Unisys and Compaq very closely to make sure that our Windows systems run very well in the data centre and we are completely committed to that. I don't understand how you can feel confident in winning a database battle if you can't operate in the Unix environment. If you look at the investment that we are putting into this and look at the investment that Intel is putting into this you can see how we can feel that way. True, we may be behind with our efforts for the Itanium chip, and Mckinley is going to take a while, but there is no way that Sun can keep up with Intel in the chip market and that's where the lines will cross. Sun will find itself behind the curve and Oracle will find itself losing ground. If Sun can't keep up with the game then Oracle has lost the fight. These two are the same company. Oracle and Sun are one. As soon as Sun loses the high end so does Oracle and that's when we will take it. What makes you think Sun can't keep up in the chip race? It can't maintain that level of investment. Sun has got inventory problems. Sure it had a very good couple of years with the dot coms but since all of that collapsed Sun has found a lot of second hand kit in the market and its inventory is stuffed. Now Sun is struggling. Okay, you might think you can take Oracle, but that still leaves IBM out there. How are you planning to take IBM out of the race? IBM is a very serious, tough, competitor. We have a better product but IBM has a huge solutions sales that some people seem to like. Some of the buyers out there like to be able to buy hardware, software, services - the whole lot - in one go. But I think people fail to realise that Microsoft, with its OEM's, can provide that very same solution. That's how we plan to tackle IBM. There is the perception that IBM has its one stop shop, but the chance to have multiple OEM partners, with their dedicated and honed skills, is a very strong proposition and it provides us with another route into IBM's territory. And what about the open source movement. Red Hat database must be expected to apply pressure to Microsoft at the low-end. How are you going to cope with that? To be honest with you, I don't think that you will find many people running production systems on Red Hat. But please don't think that we don't take it seriously because we most certainly do. Bill and Steve are very concerned about Linux and so are the rest of us. We won't be taking our eyes of Red Hat's database. We will be watching very carefully to make sure that it doesn't start to dent us at the bottom. We will be very focussed on this effort believe me. Having said that, and I really don't want to diminish the efforts of Red Hat, but I think that the dedicated SQL Server team of more than 800 professionals dedicated to the job is an investment that can't be matched. And that will continue to give us our edge. I imagine that the inclusion of your OLAP engine into SQL Server must have hurt plenty of OLAP vendors. Did that take many of them out of the race? I think if anything the OLAP engine has given people a common platform to develop to. We can go out to other OLAP vendors and give them a toolkit that helps them build for this solution. We've had a lot of vendors do that since we built this stuff into SQL Server. I don't think that it has damaged the market. This is a very big marketplace and there is plenty of money for people to get. Some OLAP vendors have aligned with us and others have chosen to focus on their own customers and developing serious solutions for them. Our OLAP solution has done some good things. Do you see OLAP as key to SQL Server nowadays? I think it is, yes. The market is increasingly looking for market data that is immediate and that can be turned into reports on the fly so that it can be responded to immediately. This is especially true in the area of web analytics and click-stream analysis. And OLAP really puts us ahead of the game in this area. This gives us a huge opportunity. How does SQL Server fit into .Net? SQL Server is the foundation of .Net. We took a decision some time ago that SQL Server would be key to all of application developments and that is precisely what we are dong with .Net. It has given us a new strategy to rally around and everybody is working so hard to achieve this. Every application from now will be built with SQL Server in mind. Naturally, other databases will be compatible but all of our systems will be optimised for SQL Server. You have to realise that we have a very unique offering at Microsoft. We can do things with our software that no one else can do. We can say to people use our solutions and you will find that, as a whole, they are much, much more than the sum of their parts. That's what .Net is all about and that's what are heading for. Copyright © 2001 IT-Analysis.com. All rights reserved.
IT-Analysis, 14 Aug 2001

Fujitsu-Siemens LifeBook S-4572

ReviewReview The LifeBook S-4572 only just scrapes in under the heading of Budget notebook at £1499, but this high price is partly compensated for by a few extras. The most notable of these is a combined DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive - the first we've seen at this price. The drive offers eight-speed DVD playback and 24-/8-/4-speed read/write/rewrite facilities. This drive is fitted in a chassis that measures just 288x225x27mm and weighs only 1.75kg. In fact, the S-4572 looks more like a sub-notebook and, as with all cut-down computers, you do lose something, in this case a floppy drive, which is an optional extra. The hardware line-up is nothing special, with a 750MHz Mobile Pentium III processor, 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive that add up to a WorldBench 2000 score of just 128. However, the S-4572 uses a 4MB ATI Mobility M graphics card, which is marginally better than the integrated chips usually found on budget models. This supplies a 12.1in TFT screen with images up to a maximum resolution of 1024x768. Display quality is respectable, with a wide viewing angle. It uses a six-cell lithium-ion battery, with a claimed life of 2.24 hours. Build quality is good, and the blue metallic finish is attractive. Ports have been kept to a minimum, with two USB ports, infrared, VGA-out, modem and network ports and a Type I or II PC Card slot. There is also an option to add on a port replicator. The software bundle includes Works and Word 2000 and Easy CD Creator, and the warranty covers parts and labour for three years. The LifeBook is well-built and packs plenty of features into a small unit. But its high price is not matched by its performance, which ultimately excludes it from our chart. However, if speed is not all, it does offer attractive extras. ® Info Price: £1499.00 Contact: 01344 475 555 Website: www.lifebooksonline.com Specs Processor type: Mobile Pentium III Processor clock speed: 750MHz RAM: 128MB Hard disk drive: 10GB Graphics card: 4MB ATI Rage Mobility M Screen: 12.1in Weight: 1.75kg Dimensions: 288x225x27mm Scoring Build quality: 8 Features: 8 Performance: 4 All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 14 Aug 2001

MBO planned for Gateway UK and Ireland?

Plans for an MBO are afoot at Gateway's UK and Irish operations, we believe. The US PC maker announced it was shutting down UK and Irish operations, with the loss of 1,200 jobs last week, but it seems the local management think there's life in the business. This is in spite of the collapse of European sales by 46 per cent in the second quarter of the year. This is a disastrous loss of market share, considering that UK PC shipments fell only 8 per cent in the first half of the year and that European sales to consumers (Gateway's key market) have fallen 15 per cent. Worldwide the company lost $20.8m in Q2. Gateway has confirmed its intention to cease manufacturing in Ireland and also to close down its European headquarters in Dublin. It is to repay in full IR£20m in grants made by the Irish government. It seems unlikely that the MBO plans will include continuing with the manufacturing side of the business, which would be simpler to outsource. Gateway has demonstrated it hasn't built up the expertise to assemble and sell PCs profitably in the UK and Ireland. Mike Maloney, the head of Gateway Ireland, told the Irish Times that the "company will not survive by just selling personal computers. It is restructuring itself to develop and sell more services and solutions", and that's probably the direction any new management would go in. To make lots of money selling services, you need to sell lots of PCs to corporates - rather than consumers or small businesses. Gateway had struck a deal with Computacenter to handle all its high end corporate business, and the UK reselling giant is now planning to move the customers to another supplier. Computacenter is expecting one more month's worth of manufacturing out of its partner, but there's likely to be a longer period of supply, as Gateway has to go through 90 days worth of consultation with its staff before shutting down. Alongside Mike Maloney, other senior members of the UK and Ireland Gateway management team are: senior VP Martin Coles; director of marketing Neil Stevens; and VP Paul Heath. Heath and Stevens joined Gateway in May, a long time after rumours of Gateways' plans to leave the UK and Ireland first appeared. At that time Coles had just been promoted to senior VP. Stevens joined Gateway from Tiny Computers where he'd been marketing director for two years. Before that he was market development manager at Intel UK. Naturally the managers involved with the MBO aren't talking to the press about their plans just yet. ® Related Stories Gateway pulls out of UK and IrelandGateway gets hammered in Europe
Robert Blincoe, 14 Aug 2001

Nokia 9210 Communicator – any good?

Reg Smartphone RoundupReg Smartphone Roundup The BOFH wonderphone, the much anticipated first Symbian open phone, has got off to a very shaky start. We've been using the 9210 for several weeks now and have to conclude that users should hold off for future revisions - although the interest piqued by this spectacular communicator (and the vast marketing campaign that goes with it) is in part justified. It isn't the bugs - and we've experienced the worst of these that in our case necessitated returning the model - or performance, which is just about adequate, or even the lack of the must-have features du jour: GPRS and Bluetooth. It's much simpler than that: the Nokia 9210 is simply underendowed in the RAM department. 4MB is insufficient to maintain more than two applications at once. Sometimes, it isn't even enough to maintain more than one as even in the most frugal conditions mail messages can fail to open during a web browsing session. Since the Symbian OS doesn't allow you to create a swap file - memory can't be paged to the memory card, which would be horribly slow in any case - there's no workaround. So while bugs can be fixed by firmware upgrades, the memory shortfall is a permanent limitation. Users should hold off buying the current 9210 until it's superseded by a model with more than 4MB of RAM. At least that puts it in good company: both the original IBM PC and Apple's first Macintosh were historic machines, and each shipped with insufficient memory (64KB and 128KB) prompting revisions to be launched (640KB and 512KB, respectively). Now the 9210 actually ships with 8MB of RAM. The problem is that you're actually left with a fraction of that for running applications. To show a simple 45k image captured by the accompanying digital camera, alongside an email requires shutting down some of the built-in applications. This can be achieved using third-party utilities, but you have to ask yourself, why is such a capable device so handicapped? That said, the 9210 is an awesome achievement - far surpassing current PDAs in communication facilities, and compatibility with Office apps. True, it doesn't play MP3s, which we don't miss at all, but it trumps rival PDAs (even CE PDAs) with its ability to view and edit office file formats. The much vaunted colour screen didn't disappoint and even with the noisy hype, the 9210 reserved some quite unexpected features with which to surprise us. For example the speakerphone is so powerful that this rapidly became our preferred way of taking and making calls - leaving our hands free to take notes on the device as we talked. If you're coy about having your conversation broadcast, you shouldn't be. An audible two-way conversation is far less disruptive to the immediate social fabric than the one-sided "HI! YES! I'M ON THE ... YOU DID WHAT?" monologue that causes so much mobile phone rage. As a regular phone, it's splendid, although it takes some getting used to listening to the back of the device, rather than the front. Above all, as we discovered with our review of Motorola's Accompli 008 - a relatively modest communicator - the advantages of simply having one box for both phone calls and personal data management and access far outweighs the frustrations and shortcomings of the device. Bugs Nokia 9210 users have reported a number of bugs - and the first model we tried exhibited the most shocking of these. The phone would crash between cells, and couldn't subsequently be rebooted without a mains charge. It's a very curious bug: the battery didn't discharge at all, and the machine only required a second's worth of mains charge to awake. The problem is fixed in the latest revision 3.54, the model currently in the channel, but if you bought one of the earlier models Nokia will provide a free firmware update with a four day turnaround. There were a number of other gotchas: the Calendar would go into fits of blinking, and fail to synchronise entries correctly. Others are manifest in the PC synchronisation, which on the whole proved more reliable than its predecessor the PsiWin suite. Users should not install the version 1.00 of the PC Suite on the accompanying CD. That's plain bust. (We used the version 2.0 of the software downloaded from the Nokia website). And needless to say, PC Suite is a Windows-only app, with Mac and Linux users effectively stranded. However, we discovered that we couldn't restore the contacts info we'd archived from the first device onto the second. Why? Because the PC Suite software advised us that it was impossible unless we renamed the second device profile to match the first. Then when we did just that, it told us that the device name had been taken, and couldn't be reclaimed. It was only through an ugly hack (placing the old contacts.cdb file into the System/Data directory on the flash card, then manually deleting the contents of the new and empty contacts file on the replacement device, and copying the files from the old to the new contacts database) that we finally retrieved our data. Pluses Ah, but the pluses. The principal one is the messaging suite, which is truly a wonder to behold. Although previous Symbian OSes showed a tight integration between the contacts book and the messaging app, in the Nokia 9210 this is taken a stage further, and it really pays dividends. The Nokia handles SMS, email and fax messages seamlessly, and is smart enough to send each message type to the correct destination. To our astonishment (maybe we're getting cynical) the PCMail feature - worked flawlessly. This allows you to work offline, then sync and send mails from your PC. Again we rued the low bandwidth serial connection - our mail file runs into many megabytes - but it got there in the end. There's room for improvement in the Telephone app, particular with respect to call diverts, which should be easier to manipulate, and by being able to add new contacts from the Telephone app itself. Can I replace my Psion with a 9210? Psion users will discover that's there a lot missing from their favourite PDA. And it's not just a case of lost screen real estate or a decent keyboard. The 9210 is much narrower than even a Series 3: five and half against nine centimetres, which makes touch typing impossible. Of course, there's a corresponding loss of screen space too: in a comparison at SmartphoneUser magazine, the 9210 is reckoned to have 31.5 square centimetres of usable screen, compared to 42 for the Revo and 39 for Compaq's bulky iPaq. Nokia has chosen not to implement some features of the Symbian ER6 platform, despite it being the evolutionary advance on the ER5 used in Psion's Series 5MX. Psion users will miss much, with chunks of dependable functionality missing from the familiar apps. The Clock app seems to have copped the worst. While successive generations of Psions have sold themselves on their alarm functionality, the Nokia clock app has been disembowelled. In our initial review we couldn't find a way to change the default alarm sound: a dull chime. We goofed: as many of you have pointed out, it's actually configurable from the Profiles tool, as is the ability to turn off the keypad tones. This Profiles tools that we overlooked is a powerful beast indeed. You can change your keyboard tones to suit any given profile (eg, General, Outdoors, Meeting) and ringtones, calendar chimes too. Which is splendid, but rather forbidding the novice. What we were looking for and failed to find was an access point, and we hope that the control panel has lures users towards this tool. At the end of the day, they're simply different views on the same set of configuration data. A more fundamental problem for Psion veterans looking for an upgrade is that the data can't simply be copied over, even though the file formats are unchanged. ER6 employs Unicode, and the 9210 can't read the files. There's no ER5 to ER6 converter, although hopefully one will appear soon. For now, conversion to Word or another supported PC format is recommended, but since The Nokia PC Suite is incompatible with an existing installation of PsiWin, you'll probably want to run a dual boot setup with parallel versions of Windows until this can be completed. Other eccentricities in the Nokia 9210 - and there are many - can charitably be explained by the need for backward compatibility. The 9210 is Nokia's third generation clamshell communicator, and Nokia has a small but significant number of business users who've grown familiar with it over five years. For us, that doesn't explain the counter intuitive task menu, which is used to close running applications, or why the File Manager is in the Office group. Or why the main configuration centre - the Control Panel - is in the Extras, implying it's some kind of optional add-on. Or for that matter, why there are arbitrary program groups (Extras, Internet and Office) which can be opened but can't be closed, and which don't appear in the task list. We've since discovered that you can add applications to these groups. Or more precisely, add applications from the Extras group into the Desk, Office or Internet groups. (File/Move to... option in the Extras group. Serendipity follows) The File Manager is particular sticky to use. It conceptually uses the same UI behaviour as the contacts and messaging apps, with the focus shifting subtly between panes, a kind of gentle parachute-assisted drill down into your data, but the metaphor doesn't apply in this case. File Managers should behave like file managers, and we found ourselves pining for a replacement. Since the memory handicap means users will spend more time than they need to time shifting applications between the communicator and the memory card, any housekeeping quickly becomes a chore annoying. Omission statement The 9210 has taken some stick for its lack of Bluetooth and GPRS functionality. In practice, with GPRS being a limited (WAP only) and prohibitively expensive service for most of us, that's not missed. Far more limiting in practice was the lack of a USB connection; only infra red - a rarity on most notebook PCs these days - and a serial connection are supported. Given that the 9210 makes an excellent viewer for bulky PDF and PowerPoint files, this is absurd. It makes using PCMail on anything but the smallest mail file tedious. Unlike previous 9000 series communicators, the 9210 doesn't come with a built-in Telnet. This accounted for its niche popularity with sysadmins, and it's a curious omission. There are a couple of alternatives. For non-secure Telnet, we've been using Russ Spooner's RatTerm, which is coming along in leaps and bounds. But ssh connections now can be made using the MindTerm Java ssh client, and should soon be available natively from openssh soon. The US version of this phone, the 9290, should be available early next year. Hopefully Nokia will have raised the amount of memory which prevents this fairly wonderful device from fulfilling its potential. ® Next: The Verdict Other Stories in our Smartphone Roundup Review: Motorola Accompli 008 Review: Mitsubishi Trium Mondo Preview: Stinger
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Aug 2001

Mystery of crashing HP printers solved?

A DoS vulnerability with the installation and management software used on HP's line of commercial print servers has been reported. The potential flaw, which HP has not so far publically acknowledged, is interesting not because it is particularly devasatating (it isn't) but because it may explain problems our readers are having with printers of late. According to a posting on security mailing list BugTraq, HP JetDirect devices configured using the JetAdmin web interface fail to set a password for Telnet access when the administrator password is chosen. Because of this the Telnet port of a printer will be left exposed to unrestricted remote access. This means (at least in theory) that hackers could create a denial of service. The potential also exists to monitor printer activity, and this might be used to gather information to use in subsequent attacks on systems, according to the posting. Hewlett-Packard hasn't issued a response to the report, so we can't be certain there's a genuine problem. That said we give a lot of credence to the alert because it goes a long way to explain a number of emails we've had of late complaining of unexplained crashes on HP printers. Many users have attributed this to the side effects of scanning from the Code Red worm but security testing experts at NTA Monitor told us the Telnet vulnerability was a more likely cause. Security experts advise that the easiest way to guard against the possible Telnet vulnerability is to manually set a password for access through Telnet on the device. Looking at blocking off access to Telnet ports on devices through setting up an appropriate rule on a firewall wouldn't go amiss either. During the DefCon conference last month a denial of service attack that exploited an FTP access vulnerability on HP JetDirect devices was discussed. According to an email sent to the Register, HP support staff were told to advise users to guard against the problem by either disabling FTP access to the JetDirect card or change the default gateway on JetDirect to an internal address. Support staff were told not to discuss the problem with users as this could "cause unnecessary fear for their security, and general lack of faith in the product". We will leave you to decide if HP is taking the same stance with the reported Telnet password vulnerability. ® External links HP JetDirect JetAdmin Password Vulnerability HP JetDirect Invalid FTP Command DoS Vulnerability Related Stories HP launches Web-enabled printers Code Red and the Cisco Side Effect MS internal network whacked by Code Red Son of Code Red is born Internet survives Code Red IIS buffer-overrun attack has been scripted MS confronts another IIS system-level hole
John Leyden, 14 Aug 2001

RIPA Code of Practice goes out to public consultation

The Home Office finally put the Code of Practice for the RIP Act out to public consultation yesterday - more than a year after the Act received Royal Assent. The Act is extremely controversial because it gives the police and secret services unprecedented access to the personal communications of British citizens. It has also come under fire for not complying with either the Data Protection Act or the Human Rights Act. Worse, the legislation is ambiguous in parts and over-reaching in others. For these reasons, it has been widely accepted that a Code of Practice is essential if the Act is to be implemented as originally intentioned and the police are to avoid accusations of abusing civil rights. This is translated as "enhanced procedures" by the Home Office. However, the code has been delayed several times due to the complexity of the job and the political storm surrounding it. The press release says: "The draft Code of Practice on Accessing Communications Data will govern the conduct of law enforcement and public bodies when obtaining information relating to the use of postal or telecommunication services, for example telephone billing information." It states examples of the "specific" purposes that must be met before the police are entitled to spy on people: in the interests of national security; for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or preventing disorder; in the interests of public safety. The new Home Office minister in charge, Bob Ainsworth - replacing Charles Clarke who is now in the Cabinet as minister without portfolio - re-iterated the reasons for having the Act, selling the public consultation as evidence that the government is listening to people's concerns. "As we implement the Act's provisions, we are working with communication services providers to ensure that they are enacted in partnership with them. Today's consultation reiterates our commitment to consult in this important area. We welcome comments on all aspects of this draft code from industry, law enforcement agencies and anyone else who has a view on its implementation." The consultation period ends on 2 November, after which the Home Office promises to summarise people's points on its Web site. In the meantime, everything you want to know should be here. ® Related Stories RIP Bill - full coverage up to July 2000 Criminal Law Review tears strips off RIP Act Spooks cock snooks at RIP oversight RIP not a problem thanks to police stupidity Email snooping row kicks off again Email snooping code of practice delayed Employer snooping code: don't eavesdrop on staff
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Aug 2001

US Net use increases

US Net users are spending more time online each month, according to the latest stats from Jupiter Media Metrix (JMM). Despite the downturn in dotcom land, analysts found that people in the US spent on average 20.7 hours online in July 2001 - two hours more than in the same month last year. Question is, what are they up to? Figures released in the UK last week suggested that one in four Brits tip-toed to at least one porn site in June spending around 45 minutes checking out adult content. So does this explain the surge in Net usage in the US? Are Net users over there turning to porn to help them forget their economic woes? Apparently not. Dull old portals again topped the list of most visited sites accounting for 85 million visitors while interest in job-related sites grew by a third According to JMM, job sites recorded 18.6 million unique visitors in July compared to 14 million six months earlier. It seems that as the downturn begins to bite people are turning to the Net for help. It will be interesting to see how it copes with a recession. ® Related Story Germans out-sauce Brits in porn hunt
Tim Richardson, 14 Aug 2001

Linux game maker Loki runs out of cash

Loki Software, which specialised in porting A-class PC games to Linux, has filed for bankruptcy. According to a report on LinuxPorts, the company owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to Activision and other publishers it has worked with. The company's problems are perhaps unsurprising as Linux gaming is something of a niche market. Most Linux gamers have a Windows or dual-boot system to play on because so few games make it to Linux, and since the Linux port usually comes out months after the original Windows release, most people have already bought the game by the time Loki releases it. And why pay out another $30-50 for a separate Linux version? Even when the releases are simultaneous, sales are poor. Id Software said last year it was disappointed with sales of the Linux version of Quake III Arena. While developing Linux ports for publishers to include bundled with their own Windows products might have worked, paying those publishers hefty licensing fees to sell standalone Linux versions clearly hasn't. ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 14 Aug 2001

Nvidia eyes mobile workstation market with Quadro 2 Go

Nvidia today introduced a mobile version of its workstation-class graphics processor the GeForce Quadra, the latest push in the company's war to win control of the mobile graphics market away from arch-rival ATI. The Quadro 2 Go is essentially the equivalent of the GeForce 2 Go. The chip consumes less power than the regular desktop Quadro, in exchange for a cut in performance - the mobile part has half as many rendering pipelines, for example. Nvidia's only published performance details show the Quadro 2 Go capable of rendering 286 million pixels per second - the Quadro, on the other hand, can pump out 540 million pixels per seond. The company naturally makes a big play for the chip as the basis of a new generation of mobile workstations, the first of which - says the blurb - is Fujitsu-Siemens' Celsius Mobile H, coming sometime this Autumn, price as yet unknown. Certainly price is an issue. Nvidia charges rather more for its Quadro family chips that their GeForce equivalents. Given than the Quadro parts offer features - shared back buffers, 3D window clipping, hardware anti-aliased lines, etc - that appeal more to graphics professionals than do the more games-oriented GeForces, you might consider that fair enough. Nvidia also offers specialised Quadro drivers for specific 3D apps. However, the truth is the chips are essentially identical - features activated in the Quadro are switched off in the GeForce. Certainly that's the case with the desktop parts, and it's hard to imagine the mobile chips being any different. Various Web sites (see link, below) show how resoldering a handful of resistors on the back of a GeForce board can turn it into a Quadro, and we reckon it will only be a matter of time before someone figures out how to do it on a notebook. Why hasn't it happened already? Partly, we suspect, because there are so few GeForce 2 Go-based notebooks out there. Nvidia's Web site lists only two vendors with mobile PCs based on the part, Toshiba and Dell. Oh, and there's an Asus out there too. This from a chip that's over nine months old. It's hard to see the Quadro 2 Go faring any better, particularly given the price premium. ® Related Stories Nvidia lost 13% marketshare in Q2 Nvidia GeForce 2 Go to ship in a notebook at last Nvidia unveils mobile GeForce 2 Go ATI unveils Radeon 8500, 7500 Related Link tnaw_xtennis’s Analyses of Computer Hardware: The GeForce to Quadro conversion page
Tony Smith, 14 Aug 2001

AOL job cut speculation rises to 1,000

There's growing fears that AOL-Time Warner is about to make up to 1,000 people redundant at its online division. WashingtonPost.com reports that an announcement on the job losses is expected within the next fortnight, citing unnamed sources close to the media giant. The report adds that jobs are set to go at the online division's HQ in Virginia and at its software operation, Netscape, in California. Today's report makes even worse reading for the 16,000 people who work for the online outfit. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that hundreds of jobs were under threat at AOL. This was dismissed by a senior spokesman for AOL UK who said the reports were "just rumours". Today, a senior spokesman for AOL-Time Warner's online division flat-batted all requests for further information and declined to comment on the reports. So the uncertainty continues. ® Related Story AOL dismisses job cuts claims
Tim Richardson, 14 Aug 2001

Nintendo chief speaks

With Nintendo's preparations for SpaceWorld 2001 in full swing, Japanese magazine GB-Advance caught up with director Satoru Iwata to discuss third-party relations, software strategies and more. Among comments about the GameCube's successful reception at E3 and his thoughts on how the software lineup conveys "Nintendo's philosophy in motion", Iwata made some interesting comments on N64 sequels, the largely first-party software line-up and the proposed modem add-on. One of the first things the Japanese interviewer asked was why N64 originals like Doubutsu no Mori were of such importance to the company on the GameCube. Iwata responded: "There were a handful of titles for the Nintendo 64 that were very unique, but they didn't have the opportunity to reach a large audience." Iwata believes these games have mass appeal, but they weren't able to get a foothold. A more obvious concession of the N64's failure we haven't seen for some time. Although the early line-up generally speaking dwells on franchise games to make its mark, Iwata claims to be "opposed to sequels" on principle. We'll let him off for the dozens of Mario iterations then, shall we? "Not all of them are bad. However, if a sequel isn't substantially different from its predecessor then there's no reason to buy it, and players realise that. So we've rejected those kinds of sequels." Sequels on the GameCube, Iwata says, will either "try to give players a complete new experience" (like Pikmin) or "try to create a new spin on a popular theme." The next interesting point is about third-parties. The interviewer first asks whether or not third-parties are hesitant about developing for the console. Iwata sidesteps this somewhat by saying that it would be "contrary to our philosophy to concentrate on third-party software and the number of software titles available in order to sell hardware". Clearly not content with that, the interviewer presses the point, saying that he finds it disconcerting that the GameCube's launch lineup consists largely of Nintendo's own titles, much like the Nintendo 64, which Iwata has already all but admitted was a failure. Iwata reckons you can't expect to see a large number of third-party titles for a while yet. You have to foster interest in the console. "With the Nintendo 64, third-party software took a while [to appear] because the hardware was difficult to develop for," he admits. "We've taken that into consideration when designing the GameCube, so we don't feel that's a problem this time. On the other hand, though, we feel as if we have to create a market through Nintendo's software first in order for the GameCube to succeed. It's like battle - we have to go in and establish our position before calling our allies for reinforcements." Finally, Iwata is asked about the proposed GameCube modem, and tells the interviewer that unfortunately it won't be available for launch. "A definitive release date and pricing still hasn't been decided, so I can't really discuss it," he adds. "Sega has been encouraging us to release the modem because of their upcoming Phantasy Star Online title. We're considering their needs and discussing how soon we can release the modem. We should have an announcement ready for SpaceWorld." ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 14 Aug 2001

UK govt slammed for sucking up to Compaq

The government is under attack for excluding British companies from a multi-million pound contract to dish out computers to MPs. Under its latest IT scheme, the government has promised each Member of Parliament three PCs and one laptop. And it has entered into a contract with US computer giant Compaq to provide all the computer equipment. But, according to Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff, the contract - worth an estimated £2 million - was not put out to tender. Luff says was told by Robin Cook that the deal with Compaq was instead decided upon "by a process of negotiation". "I am sorry that Government Members do not think that public procurement should be conducted openly," said Luff. "I believe MPs should support local industry in their constituencies." Luff normally buys his IT equipment from PC builder Evesham.com, which falls inside his constituency. "The new arrangements will mean I am forced to use only those machines selected for me by the officers of the House of Commons, and I am very unhappy about this," he said. Evesham boss Richard Austin was equally miffed that Compaq, which announced earlier this year it would axe 700 jobs in Scotland, should get the contract. "I can't understand why the government should have even considered doing a deal with an American company that has shown so little commitment to the UK," he said. "British people have shown their confidence in us, so what is the government's excuse?" ® Related Stories Those election games in full Evesham boss bags Porsche
Linda Harrison, 14 Aug 2001

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a (Princess Di) rose garden

An American businesswoman, Bonnie Masterson, has caused some bristling of skirts in England's gardens through the promotion of a rose garden in commemoration of the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Ms Masterson has used her position as vice-president of the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) to raise awareness and money for a Diana rose garden and registered numerous domains names, connected to Diana Spencer, under her own name. Ms Masterson contacted the society through the Internet, offering to raise £20 million for a Diana rose garden and put £16,000 towards the cost. She also registered 15 domain names including EnglandsRose.com, DianasRoses.com, DazzlingDiRose.com, ThePeoplesPrincessRose.com, the cheesy CandleintheWindRose.com and so on. The domains were soon part of an arbitration dispute brought by CMG Worldwide - the representative company of the Princess Diana memorial fund. However, the National Arbitration Forum ruled for Ms Masterson, saying the domains did not infringe any Diana trademarks. It did however make a criticism of "strangers who seek to exploit the names of persons, living or dead, for mere commercial gain". Ms Masterson uses the EnglandsRose.com site to promote the RNRS' Historic Trust and the various specially bred roses that carry names reminiscent of the late Diana Spencer (it also describes Ms Masterson as a "visionary" and contains so much saccharine you'd be advised to take a sick bag with you). The names of the roses tie in with many of the registered domains and are sold from the site. This has caused a dispute between Ms Masterson and the Spencer family. However, while contributions are encouraged on the site, the Guardian has revealed that the Historic Trust through which Ms Masterson promised to raise £20 million over three years has yet to be established and as such no one has any idea how much money has so far been donated. The decision to give Ms Masterson a 25 per cent commission on the fund raising has also caused acrimony. While she says that 25 per cent is not a large amount of commission in the US, the RNRS' president has resigned over the matter. Ms Masterson has also decided not to contribute the £16,000 she said she would. Plus claims that the rose garden had the full backing of the Royal family have turned out not to be true. Only the Queen Mother - the society's patron - has given the project her full blessings. A suggestion that it is the only Diana tribute is also wrong. Today, the Charity Commission has been called in to review the entire project, and the £20 million dream of a Diana rose garden looks as though it will be lost. Don’t fret though: there will still be another 30 Diana gardens to chose from. ® Related Links RNRS site England's Rose.com The NAF decision in favour of Ms Masterson
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Aug 2001

IT giants whacked by Code Red

The IT industry has demonstrated its fumbling approach to dealing with major security issues once again with the outbreak of the Code Red worm. As previously reported, our spies in Redmond told us Microsoft's internal network became infected with Code Red, almost certainly after a smart-arsed techie saw fit to ignore the software giant's security policy. If Microsoft feels embarrassed at being caught out by Code Red after so publicly warning the rest of the world about it, then the software giant can console itself that it's not alone. Associated Press and FedEx have reportedly fallen victim to the bug and Register readers have told us that Computer Associates' network was downed by the Code Red worm last week. Despite repeated attempts we haven't been able to get CA to either confirm or deny this rumour, which (if true) would be highly embarrassing for a firm that is such a big player in the security market. Among the other casualties of Code Red was accident prone telecoms equipment manufacturer Lucent Technologies, which advised users to help it patch up its servers after IT staff discovered that at least 200 of its systems were infected by the worm. A memo was sent around to all Lucent staff on the issue, which we republish below. To: ALL Windows NT or Windows 2000 users Re: Code Red 2 On 8/4, a new version of Code Red (Code Red 2) hit the Internet, creating even greater exposure to the environments it infects - i.e., it allows unauthorized access to the infected computer. On 8/5, Lucent was infected by the Code Red 2 virus. It has spread rapidly throughout "unpatched" systems globally and is causing some network outages. At last measurement, 200+ systems are infected, degrading network performance as they attempt to locate vulnerable systems on the Internet at a growing rate of 1.4 million requests every 2 minutes. Lucent needs your help! Every user with any Windows NT or 2000 system (desktop, server, home, laptop, etc) must click on the following link and follow the instructions provided! This is the only way Lucent will be able to rid the worm from our environment. Failure to comply with this request will result in the disconnection of network services to the affected systems. In addition, the system administrator/user will be identified and provided to management for disciplinary action up to and including termination. http://www.security.lucent.com/virus/codered2 If you have any questions, please e-mail security@security.lucent.com or call the Lucent Security Hotline on 1.888.582.2267. Lucent Security You'll note that the email contains a threat of dismissal for any staff failing to help the firm's management contain the outbreak of the worm. Those with long memories will remember that the first major Outlook email worm, Melissa, infected a whole tranche of IT firms, including Lucent and Microsoft. Isn't it interesting to see the same names cropping up on a list of those that got it wrong about Code Red as well? ® Related Stories MS internal network whacked by Code Red Code Red and the Cisco Side Effect Son of Code Red is born Internet survives Code Red IIS worm made to packet Whitehouse.gov Justice mysteriously delayed for 'Melissa' author
John Leyden, 14 Aug 2001