15th > August > 2001 Archive

MS asks court to wait while it delays

Microsoft's lawyers clearly operate better out of court than in. The case the company made for itself during the epic Jackson antitrust trial was, frankly, dismal, but the post-verdict delaying tactics are starting to acquire a certain baroque splendour. It would appear we have a request for a delay while we delay, simultaneously with another delay attempt (provided we're not losing count). The Appeals Court should be deciding any time now whether or not to send the case back to the District Court with a new judge, and unless the judges have had some kind of collective brainstorm since the court last spoke, they'll send it back. Microsoft has already asked the Appeals Court to change its mind on browser-related aspects of its decision, and has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Appeals Court's ruling. Now it has asked the Appeals Court not to decide on whether to send the case back to the District Court or not until after the Supreme Court has decided what it's going to do about Microsoft's request for it to overturn the ruling of the Appeals Court. And if the Appeals Court ignores this stuff and kicks it over to the District Court? Well, from where we're sitting you might just be able to count this as a victory of Microsoft, if they carry on in this vein. The lawyers could then surely start complaining and respectfully requesting to all three tiers at the same time. Remember the days when there were moves to get the case sent directly to the Supreme Court, and government requests for the Appeals Court to send it back speedily? You don't hear much about that any more, do you? ®
John Lettice, 15 Aug 2001

Xbox not delayed by notabug in Intel mobo

Microsoft is vehemently denying that Intel has derailed the Xbox schedule by designing dud motherboards for it. The claim came in a research note from Thomas Weisel Partners yesterday morning, which said that several sources said a flaw in the boards could knock back production by three to four weeks. Microsoft responded by denying there was any flaw, and insisted that Xbox was still on schedule for launch on 8th November. The Weisel note itself ruled out the possibility of a delay anyway, saying it felt there was enough slack in the build schedule for Microsoft to make up for lost time. The outfit says Microsoft intends to have 600-800,000 units ready by launch date, and 1.5 million units produced by the end of this year. That of course depends on the flaw - if there is a flaw - being fixed fast, and Chipzilla, Microsoft or any of the other component suppliers not goofing. But so far, small earthquake, not many dead... ®
John Lettice, 15 Aug 2001

VIA launches controversial Pentium 4 chipset

VIA went and released its Pentium 4 chipset, the Apollo P4X266, as a full commercial product this morning - in defiance of dire threats of legal action from Intel. The part itself hooks the P4's 400MHz frontside bus to the rest of the system, including up to 4GB of PC266 DDR SDRAM. That, says VIA, gives users twice the memory bandwidth of a PC133-based system for the same "cost structure". The upshot is a 15 per cent performance lead - as measured by Quake III framerates, among other tests - over "equivalently configured systems featuring alternative core logic chipset and memory solutions". Speaking of "cost structures", the P4X266 is indeed as cheap as early hints suggested. The part comes in a $34 in "OEM quantities" - if you buy a lot in one go, in other words. The chipset will also support PC133 for OEMs looking to punch out ultra-cheap P4 systems. The P4X266 will work with both Socket 423 and Socket 478 P4s. In addition, there's the usual ATA-100 and AGP 4x support. And the chipset's north and south bridge are connected by a 266MBps bus technology called V-Link. The P4X266's own north bridge can be hooked up to a variety of south-bridge chips, depending on the level of functionality a PC maker or mobo maker wants to add. VIA notes the P4X266's north bridge is pin-compatible with its upcoming integrated version of the part, the P4M266 - confirmation, if any were needed, that the company is indeed working on the next part in its P4 line. Why not release the two together? you might ask. Presumably, that's a cautionary measure lest Intel follow through on its recently reiterated threats to sue the pants off any company shipping an unauthorised P4 chipset - or, indeed, any mobo maker that offers a board based on one. Intel maintains the P4X266 isn't authorised, but when pushed on whether it will initiate legal proceedings against VIA, its spokesfolks just mumble something about waiting to see what the chipset is actually like. That suggests the chip giant reckons sabre rattling is more effective than declaring war in this case. For its part, VIA is hiding behind its acquisition of S3 Graphics. The part may be the "VIA Apollo P4X266" but it's "manufactured by S3 Graphics", or so says the company's press release. VIA isn't fooling anyone, but it suggests the company is as uncertain of the strength of its argument as Intel is. VIA's line has always been that it bought S3 Graphics, so it owns S3's P4 technology licence, so it has the right to make P4 chipsets. Suddenly putting the ball back in S3 Graphic's court, as it were, implies VIA is worried it might not be able to win on that argument. And if Intel does sue, the S3 Graphics manoeuvre ensures that the chip giant will have to sue the subsidiary, not the parent company. If it goes against VIA, S3 Graphics takes the hit, not the name brand. Subtle, huh? ® Related Stories Intel steps up pressure on VIA VIA ready to sample second Pentium 4 chipset VIA Pentium 4 chipset ships to mobo makers
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

TV stars move in to Pig Brother sty

Top TV celebs today moved in to give the Pig Brother house a Posh and Becks-style make-over. The sty, where surfers will be able to observe the movements of five swine in a pen 24-7, is being given star treatment by presenters of the BBC programme Changing Rooms. They have moved in to construct "the world's most elaborate sty". According to a press release, the Pig Brother house will be "based around a fantasy castle complete with moat and drawbridge". Of course. The escapade, which organisers say has been featured in the press in at least 20 countries, aims to raise money for farmers hit by the Foot and Mouth crisis. Lycos has promised to pump money into the scheme - which will track the daily goings on of Blair, Portillo, Brown, Beckett and Widdecombe - in return for online advertising. The site kicks off on September 1, and, like TV reality show Big Brother, surfers will be able to vote their least favourite hog out for eviction each week. A trailer for Pig Brother can be found here. ® Related Stories Pig Brother sticks its snout into the Net
Linda Harrison, 15 Aug 2001

Premiership football comes to broadband

Broadband outfit Video Networks has scored exclusive rights to video-on-demand broadcast of Premier League football games for the next three years. Access to games will be made available to the firm's HomeChoice package at a subscription price of £6 a month, and allow football fans to watch games in full after a night out at the pub. However they will face the problem of avoiding hearing news of the results of important games before they being able to see them, which may prove tricky. Mid-week matches can be watched from midnight on the same day. Saturday games are available from midnight on Sunday, and Sunday games from Monday at 10.00pm. Viewers can pause and replay parts of the game as often as they like just as if they had video taped recording, and they'll also access to an archive of nine years of Premiership football. Scene indexing technology will allow fans to locate key pieces of action from games. Video Networks, which is operating at a loss, hopes the agreement will spur take up of broadband in the London catchment area in which it operates. It currently has 14,000 subscribers. Terms of the deal with the Premiership, which covers 106 games over three seasons, were not disclosed. ® External links Video Networks signs exclusive video-on-demand deal with FA Premier League
John Leyden, 15 Aug 2001

Palm m125 debuts on Web

Pictures of Palm's upcoming mid-range m125 PDA have leaked out onto the Web, over at PDA Geek. We say "pictures", plural, but in effect there's only one - the others show the basic PDA with various SD/MMC cards mid-insertion. Actually, we say "mid-insertion", but they're clearly photo montages of the basic PDA shot and pics of Palm's SD/MMC cards. Still, the main shot is worthy of a look-see. It nicely shows the m125's mix of m100 and m500 looks: the black-and-silver case. ® Related Stories Palm m125: spec. slips out Palm readies m125 pro-'sumer PDA Related Link PDA Geek: Palm m125 piccies
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

Nvidia Q2 sales, earnings up 50%

Almost all of the world's semiconductor companies may be having a tough year, but Nvidia seems to be having a fine old time of it, if its Q2 figures are anything to go by. Sales worth $260.3 million made during the three months to 29 July ensured a healthy $50.1 million pre-tax profit. Factor in tax and other expenses and one-off items, and Nvidia's actual income for the period comes to $33.6 million (39 cents a share). That's an increase of a fraction over 49 per cent on Q2 2000's actual earnings of $22.5 million (28 cents a share). Revenues were up 53 per cent on the year-ago quarter's sales of $170.4 million. Looking ahead, it's hard to see much of a change through the rest of 2001, despite Nvidia's desktop marketshare falling 13 per cent in calendar Q2, according to Mercury Research figures, and the cost of developing its nForce chipset, which isn't expected to sell in large quantities until next year. Still, Nvidia's own prediction for the full year doesn't include whatever the company may make out of Xbox (delays notwithstanding), so good sales there will be a bonus. In the meantime, Nvidia plans to split its stock on a two-for-one basis, the company said yesterday. ® Related Stories Nvidia lost 13% marketshare in Q2 Nvidia eyes mobile workstation market with Quadro 2 Go
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

AOL UK gets new CEO

AOL UK has appointed Karen Thomson to the newly created post of CEO, the online giant confirmed today. Thomson - who has been MD of AOL UK since 1999 - gets the new job title as part of senior level reshuffling that's been underway since last autumn. As the congratulations of her appointment flowed in today, it was said that Thomson's promotion was deserved not least because of her crusade to introduce unmetered Net access in the UK. While El Reg doesn't want to take anything away from Thomson's special day, we reckon there are other unsung heroes and heroines within AOL UK who equally deserve such high praise for the reform. Instead, we'd like to heap praise on Thomson for her leading role in creating "Connie" - the annoying "online genie" cum "interactive icon" that has fronted AOL UK's TV and print ads since 1998. Thomson will, no doubt, sizzle with delight at the thought that her creation helped give AOL UK 90 per cent consumer awareness. Bravo. Shame, then, that the ads scooped the "Top Turkey of the Year" award last year at the annual ceremony dished out by Campaign magazine. Said the judges: "A prissy know-all is a strange choice to symbolise the exciting new media revolution." That's Connie, by the way, not Thomson. Anyhow, enough of that. Elsewhere, vulture-eyed Reg readers have told us that cybercafe chain, easyEverything, has carried out its threat to park a lorry outside AOL UK's offices in London with an ad depicting Easy Group boss, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, tearing up an AOL account. The vehicle mysteriously broke down outside the offices around 8.30 this morning - just in time for staff arriving for work to see it - before shuffling off half an hour later. Expect a complaint to wing its way to the Advertising Standards Authority any minute... ® Related Story Stelios fails to show outside AOL UK Stelios ads slam AOL AOL and BT triumph with ad turkeys
Tim Richardson, 15 Aug 2001

Was Gateway down to selling just 1,500 PCs a week in the UK?

Gateway's departure form the UK and Ireland doesn't seem to have come as much of a surprise to its UK competitors. This is probably because it doesn't seem to have been selling more than 1,500 PCs and notebooks a week in the UK. The US PC vendor arrived in the UK in 1993 and made a big noise with the benefit of some very beneficial Office pricing from Microsoft which the local players couldn't compete with. Complaints were made to Europe, but as is the way with these things, by the time the complaint was getting anywhere the outcome didn't matter. But since then it hasn't been a mighty stroll to market domination. Basically because Dell has hammered it at every turn and Gateway has been unable to differentiate itself. In the top 10 UK and Western Europe PC and notebook rankings, compiled by Gartner, Gateway doesn't even figure. This means that in Q2 in the UK it had less than 2.9 per cent of the market - which is less than 34,000 PCs. In Europe it had less than 1.5 per cent - less than 89,000 PCs. But how much less? Gateway wasn't in the top 10 for either region last year either and the company admitted its European sales collapsed by 46 per cent in Q2. Which was a terrible 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. To not be in the UK top 10 in Q2 2000 it must have had less than 3 per cent of the 1.18 million units sold. To be out of the European top 10 it must have had less than 1.8 per cent of the 6.02 million PCs shipped. If we assume it dropped 46 per cent in both regions from Q2 2000 to Q2 2001 it means it had 1.62 per cent of the UK market - which is 20,642 PCs, and 0.97 per cent of Europe - 61,051 PCs. These figures represent sales of 1,588 PCs a week in the UK and 4,696 across Europe. Which isn't great if you're a big US player. And these figures assume it was neck and neck with the 10th placed vendor. It may well have been doing worse. To put it in perspective Dell had 19 per cent of the UK market in Q2 and 11.4 per cent of Western Europe. Gateway's approach to selling PCs was a mix of Dell style off-the-page trading, shops and concessions within BT, Argos and Debenhams stores, and corporate business fulfilled by Computacenter. Here's what some of the competition thinks about Gateway's departure. Strangely, Dell was too coy to gloat in public but we know they must have been whooping it up in private. ® Richard Austin, MD Evesham.com "I'm not going to do a whole lot of crying over it "They made a huge impact when they arrived - they certainly rocked the boat. They came in with a fantastic price/performance offer. But since we've barely seen them " Tahir Mohsan, boss of Time Computers "We were not surprised - it had been rumoured for 6-9 months. Their sales infrastructure was very poor "They were just not a strong enough brand to sell to consumers, and in the corporate market Dell was far too strong a brand for them. "BT and Debenhams didn't work for them. Argos isn't going to work either, because they're going." Demetre Cheras, marketing director at HiGrade "They've been quiet for a long time. We could see it failing Dell in the UK is extremely dominant - nobody can compete. It's a numbers game and if you don't have the numbers you're out. Dell was the cause of their downfall How can you match their prices if you don't have the numbers?" John Hendrick, marketing manager, Mesh "We kind of expected to see some overall reductions in the market, but it's a little surprising it being Gateway." Related Stories Gateway pulls out of UK and Ireland MBO planned for Gateway UK and Ireland?
Robert Blincoe, 15 Aug 2001

Advertising Standards spanks companies over Net porn

The Advertising Standards Authority has come down heavily on two companies using porn and sex as a means to sell their wares. Nothing new there, you say. But the ASA believes Emap and Inter-Mediates have gone too far. First of all, a joke email sent by Emap magazine MaxPower - a laddish car mag - was deemed to have "caused undue fear and distress". It was semi-disguised as an official document and was titled "RIPA. Legal Document. Please read. Regulation of Investigatory Power Act. Offence no.323 - Internet Perversion." The email, drawing reference to the widely criticised RIP Act, accused the recipient of accessing "material of a violent, sexually explicit or immoral nature". It then said details had been sent to their local police station and they would be in touch. It then offered a URL which it said you could click to appeal against the charges. The URL led to an ad for a MaxPower car show. MaxPower said it only sent the email to registered users of its Web site (50,000 of them) and that since they were all young men, they figured they'd get the joke. It did admit that it had removed people's details from its mailing list when they had complained, however, suggesting the company has been picking up email addresses from elsewhere. The email was in fact forwarded all over the Internet, in much the same as the mag's previous joke in which it said you had been caught speeding and you should click for photographic evidence. Of course it led to another MaxPower ad. We reckon that if MaxPower had just used email address from registered users on its site, there wouldn't be any complaints. Anyway, it was harmless fun and anyone that went into palpitations over it has obviously got something to hide :-). The other complaint upheld is of a far, far more serious nature however. Inter-Mediates was rightly found to have produced a "gratuitous and offensive" ad. Inter-Mediates, as you may know, is an IT supplies Web site. Its ad in Computer Shopper was headlined: "How low? Amazing RAM prices!" It then showed two women. One was in a bikini and lifting the strap of her bikini bottoms and the other had on a pair of bikini bottoms but no top and was holding her arms over her breasts. It is possibly the weakest ever link we've seen between a product and some naked women and we applaud it for bringing us closer to our Europeans cousins who will stick a bouncing woman in just a bra in front of any product whatsoever. The ASA didn't agree however and Inter-Mediates has promised not to do it again. Apart from in its own internal magazine anyway. That's the spirit. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

24 year-old Brit charged with virus writing

A 24 year-old British man, believed to have written a computer worm that gave backdoor access to infected systems, has been arrested in a joint FBI, Scotland Yard operation. The unnamed man allegedly wrote the Leave worm, which affects machines already infected with the with Sub7 Trojan horse program, and failed to cause much damage or spread widely when it first appeared in June. However variants of the worm were created that posed as emailed security warnings from Microsoft and this may be why the authorities have taken a particular interest in tracking down the perpetrator. Reports suggest the alleged virus writer, who was arrested on July 23, has been released after being charged with offences under the UK's Computer Misuse Act that carry a sentence of up to five years in prison. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at anti-virus vendor Sophos, said the industry is keen to see the FBI taking decisive action against virus authors, particularly after it had "blotted its copybook" with its inaction against the author of the Melissa virus. David Smith remains free on bail despite pleading guilty to creating Melissa, one of the first email worms, more than twenty months ago. In comparison the Leave worm did little harm, and Cluley said it wouldn't be appropriate to mete out a long custodial sentence even if the suspect is convicted. It would be welcome if the courts imposed a meaningful deterrent sentence rather than asking a convicted man to "do a spot of gardening for the judge" though, Cluley added. ® Related Stories Justice mysteriously delayed for 'Melissa' author Hunt for Code Red authors turns into witch hunt Code Red and the Cisco Side Effect IT giants whacked by Code Red External Links Write up on the Leave worm
John Leyden, 15 Aug 2001

UK govt finally wakes up to Internet potential

In what may be the UK government's first autonomous good idea for using the Internet, the Culture, Media and Sport department has decided to produce a definitive list of all sports facilities and post it on the Web. Apparently, no one has any idea what facilities really exist in the UK - not even the local councils - so the minister, Tessa Jowell, has demanded the information is compiled as soon as possible and made easily available to every UK citizen. The tag is the appalling performance by our athletes at the recent World Championship, and Tessa used her first speech as minister (she was previously minister for public health) to promote the idea as well as new "schemes" that would try to stop kids from giving up on sport between 14 and 17. The civil service said it would take 10 years to compile all the information but Ms Jowell was having none of it and has insisted it be ready within two. The list will provide details of all sporting facilities in the UK and what sports they offer in each. The list should also be able to be split into different sports, areas etc at the click of a button, allowing everyone in the UK immediate and simple access to sporting information. My God! It would seem that a politician has finally worked out how the Internet can help make all our lives better - as opposed to faster or richer, which is the usual formula. Around 50 officials will collate the information by talking to local leaders, coaches and schools and both public and private facilities will be listed. Hopefully, although it wasn't mentioned, they will also assess the state of the facilities, which will cause pressure to be exerted on local councils to improve them. It will also give the government more information on where they should build new facilities. All we can say is: well done Tessa. We like her a lot more since she no longer has to lie about mobile phones not being harmful. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

Computacenter expects sales growth slump in second half

Computacenter saw profits jump 60 per cent for the first half of 2001, but warned that figures were likely to remain flat for the full year. The UK PC reseller said today pre-tax profit before exceptionals was £34 million for the six months ended June 30 2001. This compared to £21.2 million for the same period the previous year. Sales grew 27 per cent to £1.2 billion. The company said trading conditions worsened as the six months progressed and the sales slowdown seen in the US hit Europe. Sales of Unix systems were particularly affected due to the downturn in e-commerce investment. Computacenter CEO Mike Norris said the UK - which accounts for around 85 per cent of the company's sales - was hit harder than the rest of Europe in the second quarter. Regarding its distribution businesses, CCD had a strong first half with sales topping £150 million, while sales of Metrologie (which Computacenter acquired in 1999) were also "particularly pleasing". According to a statement to the stock exchange, trading conditions since June have been similar to those of the second quarter. The company said this made it difficult to predict profit figures for the second half of the year. But if trading continues at current levels, Computacenter expects pre-tax profit to remain flat for the full year 2001 - at around £56 million. ® Related Stories Computacenter suffers slow Q2 Computacenter UK issues profits warning Computacenter loses GCAT monopoly
Linda Harrison, 15 Aug 2001

Motorola fab plant shutdown affects 1,200 employees

Motorola has decided to shut down two wafer fab lines at its Arizona plant, affecting 1,200 employees. Calling it a phase-out, the mobile company said it will move staff into other jobs but there would be "some" job losses. Motorola is shutting down its MOS-6 and Bipolar Manufacturing Center (BMC) lines but says it will expand its MOS-12 and CS-1 facilities, accounting for most jobs. "This decision is a continuation of our manufacturing renewal process to improve asset management by investing in advanced technologies and consolidating our older production facilities," garbled VP and director of Technology and Manufacturing Chris Belden. MOS-6 made radio frequency products for wireless goods, BMC makes bipolar products across a range of industries. Both will be shut down over the next year and a half. It's still not sure whether the job losses from this were included in the company's announced sackings last month - 30,000 of them. The news has had no effect on Motorola's share price. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

Benchmarks put skids under Microsoft's IA-64 pitch

Microsoft's SQL Server VP Gordon Mangione launched a broadside here against iron age RISC yesterday that signals the first shot in the phony war for McKinley. Of course SQL Server doesn't have any place else to go except McKinley (and it successors) in the long term, as the last surviving RISC port of Windows NT was abandoned a couple of years ago. Mangione repeated the well worn message that Sun can't keep up with Intel in the long-term. In the short term, though Intel will have trouble keeping up with SPARC, which in current iterations is hardly the speediest enterprise class RISC chip. In fact Sun doesn't need to look too far to find ammunition: it only needs to cite the most recent Itanic processor benchmarks. SPEC has published its latest SPECint results for a number of single-processor systems including a Dell Precision 730 running 64-bit XP on a 800Mhz IA-64. The Itanic steams in last with a base figure of 314, 24 per cent slower than the next slowest surveyed this quarter, which as it turns out is a 750Mhz UltraSPARC II Sun Fire box. The best-performing chips return figures North of 600, including Dell's own 1.8Ghz Pentium 4. Since Sun should have filled its server line with the delayed UltraSPARC III processor later this year, there's little reason for it to be concerned in the short term. What about the longer term? McKinley systems won't appear until the middle of 2002 at the earliest, but Son of Itanic has got a mountain to climb: by then McKinleys will need to be competitive with IBM's POWER4 and higher frequency USIIIs. Sun has made some interesting decisions in preparing for McKinley: its forthcoming low-end machines share a lot more common components than previous Sun boxes, and it's got what it thinks is an ace up its sleeve in Jalapeno, or UltraSPARC IIIi, the cache-limited (1MB) low-end processor that's expected to debut at 1.4Ghz earlier next year. Why isn't Sun in rapid rebuttal mode? There's USII to clear yet, before USIII appears across the line. That's a tactical decision: much like deciding where to go for lunch. ® Related Stories Sun primes Jalapeno as McKinley killer Sun Hardware Roadmaps rain on The Reg Sun revs UltraSPARC II chips, cuts prices Intel's Server Roadmap New McKinley IO goodies leave Itanic stranded Do not feed, poke or disturb the Itanic user
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Aug 2001

Wireplay up for sale

Gameplay Plc is looking to sell its multi-player games service, Wireplay, after suspending the operation last Friday. It was hoped that Wireplay could be saved by turning it into a subscription-based service but this failed to get off the ground. A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that it was seeking a buyer for Wireplay but would not disclose whether Gameplay Plc was talking to any interested parties. However, what's left is little more than a shell company. The company has yet to make an official statement about its future. Gameplay Plc's rise and fall as one of the UK's leading dotcoms goes hand-in-hand with the boom and bust of the dotcom bubble. Gameplay.com - as it was known then - burst onto the Alternative Investment Market in August 1999. It raised £31 million - £10 million more than expected - when it floated after its offering was oversubscribed, valuing the company at £53.6 million. Its aim was to become Europe's leading on-line computer games portal and games community. It spent £5.1 million acquiring a UK boxed games supplier, Interactive Commercial Enterprises Limited, and £5.5 million acquiring Wireplay from BT. What followed was an aggressive period of acquisitions, partnerships and new deals that helped diversify and expand Gameplay.com's operation into Europe. Publishing its maiden results in October 2000 it said this rapid expansion was coming to an end as it reported pre-tax losses of £33.5 million on revenues of £23 million. At its height in March 2000 Gameplay shares were worth more than 1000p - four months later they had fallen to around 200p. By February 2001, its share price had tumbled below 100p prompting Gameplay Plc - as it was now known - to reassure investors that it had a long-term future. It had already cut costs by axing almost 300 jobs, but this failed to prevent its slide. In May this year Gameplay Plc sold its retail sales games operation in the UK and the Nordics for the total of £1.07. What's left of the company has also been sold off. Oh well. ® Related Stories Gameplay puts the For Sale sign out again as losses soar Gameplay division sold for £1 Gameplay axes 275 jobs Gameplay prelims make you Quake
Tim Richardson, 15 Aug 2001

Calling all Vulture Central boy racers

We recently received the following e-mail from one Matt Wheeler: I am a daily reader of The Register and a fan of NASCAR racing and play Siera's Nascar 4 Racing sim almost daily. I have drawn up several paint jobs for cars and recently made one that has your logo, slogan and URL on it. I was wondering if I could get your blessing to post this car onto the internet so my fellow sim racers can see the car I drive. Matt, it's our pleasure. Good job. Consider yourself awarded one exclusive Reg lapel pin for your efforts. ®
Lester Haines, 15 Aug 2001

Intel 900MHz Xeon – too little too late

A leading Intel server OEM is privately questioning the viability of Intel's relaunch of its top of range 900Mhz Xeon processor. According to an Intel spokeswoman, the chip giant expects to resume shipping a Pentium III Xeon 900MHz processor with 2MB of level 2 cache later this month, after changing its manufacturing process to iron out a bug that was found to cause crashes in lab tests. The problem didn't cause data corruption problems but was serious enough for Intel to suspend shipment of the 900MHz processor in April and to offer a 700MHz processor instead. Now the problem has been resolved and shipment of a fault-free 900Mhz processor for four and eight way symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems will shortly begin again, or will it? Executives at a top 10 Intel customer told The Register that it expected Xeon 900MHz to only become available in November, by which time more powerful processors will be close to delivery. Intel server roadmaps obtained by the Register suggest that the 900MhZ chip will be superseded by a multiprocessing Foster P4 part due out early next year, which we understand will run at speeds of 1.6GHz and above. Even before then a 1GHz Pentium III Xeon processor will become available. So will the fixed 900MHz processor be dead on arrival or will other top OEMs releases servers based on the part? Our source tells us that other top server manufacturers are telling their customers that 900Mhz Xeon processors will be available but none of the manufacturers we spoke to were prepared to comment on the issue, even though we promised anonymity. Either they are keeping plans close to their chest or they have no plans for the second coming of Pentium III Xeon 900MHz processor. In either case we won't have long to find out what's going on... ® Related Stories Intel pulls shipment of high-end server chip Intel's Server Roadmap Intel rolls out 900MHz 4, 8-way PIII Xeon Dell intros Xeon box Intel puts back Pentium 4 Xeon launch Intel launches 1.7GHz Xeon
John Leyden, 15 Aug 2001

The Reg Smartphone Roundup – The Verdict Is In

Who's going to win the smartphone wars? Moore's law suggests that computers would merge with phones sooner or later, and there are now three clear choices for manufacturers and users. We've had a look at the first examples of each. The clear favourite is the big phone companies' own platform of choice - Symbian, which was first out of the blocks and enjoys the support of the biggest European and Japanese manufacturers. Microsoft CE-based phones are finally starting to ship, and we're seeing the third evolutionary option appear with the Motorola Accompli 008 using an in-house proprietary phone OS and relying on Java as the bait for developers. The latter category, the cheap and cheerful approach, is as you'd expect by far the most popular so far. We've seen several of these so far, mostly for the Japanese market. Of course it would be grossly unfair to handicap the contestants on the basis of the first three devices we've reviewed over the past couple of weeks - the Nokia 9210, the Motorola Accompli 008, and the Mitsubishi Trium Mondo. But then it would be pretty crazy not to take note, as the merits and disadvantages of each platform are apparent in these devices. And all shall have prizes Before going into detail, some overall impressions. This probably sounds woolly headed, but they're actually all winners to some degree. Even the Trium's pokey screen and sluggish performance is redeemed by its functionality as a phone. When it works, that is. What we really mean is this: after some time with the Motorola and the Nokia communicators, you don't really want to go back to using two boxes, a PDA and a phone. Although in each case, there's a significant loss of functionality:- on the 9210 we lost access to a ton of software we depend on (Street Planner) and a keyboard we could touch type on. Palm users will probably have their own lists. However simply having integrated communication outweighs the disadvantages, and what good is a computer if it can't communicate? There was a time when the earliest cars were drawn by horses, and we suspect that future computer users may look back on the Newton/Palm era of unconnected PDAs with similar bewilderment. We liked the Accompli's trade off between size and functionality. It's a fine phone, a decent mail client provided your mail is plain text and arrives sans attachments, and easily the most reliable of the three communicators we looked at. Nokia has the richest functionality, and the most potential. It feels like running a subnotebook OS, and much effort has been made to preserve compatibility with office file formats. The Mondo falls between the two. It proved neither reliable nor compact: being the bulkiest of the three. Its mass is similar to the 9210, but it doesn't slip into a narrow jacket pocket. Indeed after a few days, we got pretty used to the 9210's bulk. The message is the medium But these are all communicators, and on the basis of the messaging facility that Symbian's lead is justified. It's good. How good? The rock writer Nick Kent tells a story of Paul McCartney, at around the time of the Revolver lp, driving up the pathway to Brian Wilson's house late at night. As he approaches, from behind the sound of the wind chimes, comes the sound of the Wilson playing and replaying the Beach Boys forthcoming single, which is 'God Only Knows'. At that moment Macca, who's at the height of his talents and simply sweats great tunes, is struck by the terrible thought that he'll never write anything quite as exquisite, so goddam eternally perfect, and so turns the car round and drives back without knocking. Apocryphal or not, anyone who fancies themselves as producing a personal computer that might possibly, now and again, do some messaging ought to be struck by similar feelings of mortality - as the Symbian messaging software is of the same order of perfection. This doesn't just integrate the contacts book seamlessly with the message (fax, SMS, email) but makes the process completely painless and fluid. A similar attention to detail is evident in the Telephone application, and accounts for why we spent so much time with the device open, using the Speakerphone, essentially making it a new category of device. That we didn't expect at all. The 9210's messaging is why the 9210 remains a usable device despite its limitations: early bugs and a lack of memory. It's gold plated quality software, and it's a joy to use a machine so orientated around user's real-world needs. Contrast this with the Mitsubishi's messaging centre. To send a text message with the Trium, you do this:- find the menu at the bottom of screen, track along to the third option, which is 'Tools';then locate 'Services', and if you've configured it, click on 'SMS'. The Nokia phone has been designed for people who use text regularly, while the Trium makes sending something as fundamental as a text message feel like an unsupported optional extra. The contrast between the Symbian and the Microsoft couldn't be greater. For all their hiring and R&D, Redmond is still employing designers who've never used a mobile phone. And what can explain the cryptic Trium error messages? The first time we tried to send an SMS message the machine crashed, requiring a hard reset. The second (and subsequent) attempts produced an enormous dialog box, covering most of the screen, with the simple message: 'Nothing Beyond' Clearly someone on the Windows CE team is a Samuel Beckett fan, as this must surely be his great lost work, and it raises the prospect of Billie Whitelaw performing a monologue of CE error messages: a natural complement to the Text Message Theatre that TV Go Home dreamt up a while ago. Small is beautiful By contrast, the PDA functionality of the Accompli 008 isn't going to win any prizes, and it too needs serious work on the UI, although its prospects would improve simply by reducing the screen font. The main limitation of proprietary closed OSes is that the Java MIDP platform feels like an optional extra. It's hard to imagine Street Planner running as a MIDP applet. But there's clearly a huge market for people who want basic data on their communicator, and devices like the Accompli ought to win out on price. Nokia has said it expects to be shipping 40 per cent of its phones based on the Symbian OS in three years. As the biggest handset manufacturer, that gives the platform enormous momentum. Of course that leaves sixty per cent of its shipments running the proprietary Nokia OS NOS, and phones using that will be far more capable than they are now. And if, or more likely when the recession hits, a slowdown could steer corporate spending towards the cheap and cheerful option. Increasingly the battle looks like one between Symbian platform and the cheaper home-grown alternatives running Java, rather than one between Symbian and Microsoft. Indeed, it's hard to see what Microsoft can do with its phone platform right now, as its strategy of hiring lots of good people isn't working. As Brad Silverberg pointed out in his 'pissy emails from billg' memo, creative work in Redmond is often compromised by the needs of existing business units. What might give its phone business some hope is a spin-off along the lines of Microsoft's Xbox games console. That would free it from using the Stinger UI, and quite possibly CE altogether. ® Other Stories in our Smartphone Roundup Review: Nokia 9210 Review: Motorola Accompli 008 Review: Mitsubishi Trium Mondo Preview: Stinger
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Aug 2001

Intel Banias chipsets named

Intel's mysterious mobile processor, Banias, continues to generate scraps of information but little in the way of a full meal or even a light snack. The latest addition to the pot comes from Japanese Web site PC Watch, which notes an industry source's claim that the part will ship Q2 2003 after sampling in Q3 2002. It also says it has heard that Intel is preparing two chipsets for the part, codenamed Odum and Monterra, the former a mainstream product, the other a budget-oriented version with integrated graphics. What can we make of this? Well, when Banias was first mentioned, by Intel at last autumn's Microprocessor Forum, it had a mid-2002 ship date. Later, an Intel spokeswoman said the ship date was 2003. PC Watch's source makes sense of those different dates, though it be simply a piece of reverse logic, of course. As for the chipset names, as PC Watch admits, only one source has mentioned them, so maybe we should take these with a pinch of salt. It's hard to imagine Intel not offering two chipsets for any future mobile processor, one with integrated graphics and one without. But as for the codenames... well, Intel doesn't even acknowledge the name Banias. The PC Watch article speculates that Banias will fill the gap below the 0.13 micron Mobile Pentium 4, due February next year, to target more power-sensitive systems like thin-and-light mobile PCs, mini-notebooks and sub-notebooks - the applications currently addressed by the Low Voltage and Ultra-low Voltage Mobile Pentium III. At Microprocessor Forum, Banias was described as a ground-up design, but its roots lie in the PIII core. For what it's worth, we reckon it's a mix of PIII and P4, adding the latter's extra functionality, such as SSE 2, to the former, and possibly with some system-on-a-chip functionality. That's what some sources have suggested - backed by the fact that Banias is being developed by the Israeli team behind Timna, Intel's first attempt at an SoC. PC Watch notes a comment made by Robert T Jackson, Principal Engineer at Intel's Mobile Platforms Group. Jackson says that while integration is good for power consumption reasons, integrating graphics is difficult and integrating a memory controller problematic from a marketing standpoint: which do you support, SDR, DDR or RDRAM? And what if you pick the wrong one? That suggests Intel isn't too keen on integration, but don't forget that Jackson's comments were made right after Timna was cancelled for supporting expensive RDRAM rather than cheap SDRAM. ® Related Stories Intel Banias SoC part to ensure PIII lives on Intel bananas over Banias Intel preps slimline chip for slimline notebooks Related Link PC Watch: Intel Banias rumours (in Japanese)
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

AMD to kill K6, K6-II, K6-III

AMD has confirmed that it has begun the process of ending production of its older 486, 586 and K6-family processors - despite promises made last year to support the K6 line for five more years. AMD's plans to phase out its pre-Athlon processors, almost all of them sold for use in embedded applications these days, emerged this week in emails sent out by mobo maker VersaLogic informing customers of the resulting change to its own product line. "AMD, the supplier of CPU chips that are used on many of our products, has notified us that they plan to re-tool the production line that currently produces 486, 586 and K6 CPU chips. AMD needs to use their Fab 25 facility to produce a different line of products and will stop production on these CPU chips on 28 June 2002," claims the email, now reproduced in full on the company's Web site (see link, below). "As recently as October 2000 they announced new processors (the K6-2E+ and K6-IIIE+) and assured us of their continuing long-term support for the embedded market," it continues. That support doesn't appear to have wavered, despite the cull of older CPUs. AMD's European marketing chief, Richard Baker, told The Register that the company is essentially making room to shift its low-end Durons down into the embedded space, and customers will be encouraged to migrate from the K6-2E+, K6-IIIE+ etc. to that processor. So, just as the K6 family was shifted into the embedded space when it ceased to have much of a presence in the PC market, so too are early Durons being shifted accordingly. However, VersaLogic appears convinced that this may not happen. It describes AMD's decision as a "major blow to the embedded computer market" and the plan to phase out the CPUs as "an abrupt turn", which suggests VersaLogic sees it as an abandonment of the business. The mobo maker talks of steering customers toward Intel products, which seems to us as much an attempt to persuade AMD to change its mind as much as anything else. Indeed, the public email has more than a hint of sour grapes about it. It does seem hard to imagine why AMD would effectively hand over its embedded sales given the usually highly lucrative nature of the embedded market. Times are tough right now, with no clear upturn expected until late next year, so why not take the opportunity to phase out old kit and prepare the ground for more advanced products in time for a revival in the market? Baker said that production of the processors in question would not cease at the end of June next year, rather it would stop taking new orders at that point. General production will officially stop at the end of 2003. Indeed, customers with specifically negotiated sales volumes and supply timeframes will be continue to supplied with parts as per their contracts, he added. ® Related Link VersaLogic: Email to customers re. AMD
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

Taiwan's DRAM producers agree to output cut

Taiwanese memory makers appear to have gone back to the table to negotiate an across-the-board reduction in DRAM production. Earlier this month it emerged that preliminary talks between the world's largest memory makers had broken down. However, Mosel Vitelic vice-president Thomas Chang said this week that his company is talking to fellow memory makers about production cuts. The output reductions would be made with a view to halting the downward spiral of DRAM prices, itself caused by supply vastly outweighing demand. Few memory companies have been willing to cut production and risk losing out when the market picks up. With no sign of such a recovery taking place any time soon, the Dramurai are at last wondering whether it's worth taking the risk. But only if they all agree. Last time this happened, all but Micron agreed to cuts, which allowed the US company to do very nicely thank you when the market recovered. Chang admitted that a basis for understanding has been reached. "Our preliminary agreement is to trim some production starting September," he said. Who is party to that agreement, he would not say, suggesting at the very least that not all memory makers have given the nod. And Chang's comments imply that an agreement has only been struck between Taiwanese memory makers. If so, it leaves out major world players like Infineon, Hynix, Samsung and Micron. By contrast, Taiwan's memory producers combined account for only 15 per cent of the global market. Hynix has already made some efforts - albeit small ones - to cut production. Last month it shut down one of its plant in the US while the facility is upgraded. Toshiba said yesterday it too has planned to cut memory production. It will end DRAM production at its Fab 1 plant, in Yokkaichi, Japan, at the end of September. ® Related Story DRAM production reduction talks fail Related Link EBN: Taiwan DRAM makers may cut output
Tony Smith, 15 Aug 2001

Millions wanted to paint dark side of moon red

An artist wants to paint the moon red using laser pointers - and he wants you to help him. James Downey reckons that if enough people shine their little lasers at the same spot on the moon and at the same time, then they might, just might, be able to colour it with a red hue. He's selected two dates - October 27 and November 24 (just in case it rains or is cloudy) at 11.00pm EDT. Anyone taking part in this artistic collaboration needs to point their laser pens for five minutes to the left side of the moon - part of its dark side. Critics say he doesn't stand a chance and reckon this is some crazy stunt. Says Downey on his Web site: "Will it work? I honestly don't know. I'm a writer and an artist, not a scientist. "But I think it could work, in theory. If we can get a few million people to attempt it, it may very well work. "We may not succeed. But wouldn't it be great if we did?" said. Yes it would James. Anyone interested in taking part should check out paintthemoon.orgfor more info. In the meantime, we at Vulture Central will be out tonight perfecting our laser pointing technique. Maybe. ®
Tim Richardson, 15 Aug 2001

Web bugs thrive like cockroaches

UpdatedUpdated Use of Web bugs, or online hidden information collectors, has increased 488 per cent in the past three years, according to a survey of corporate Internet sites published today. A study of a random sample of more than one million Internet pages gathered between 1998 and 2001, using Internet intelligence technology from Cyveillance, revealed that eight of the top 50 brands had Web bugs on their home pages. These were often just one click away from stated privacy policies, which frowned on the technique. Web bugs, objects such as frames or images, are imbedded on a Web site and cause part of the Web page to be retrieved from a different site. In the process, this second web site gets to know who visited the original site. These web bugs can be used to verify email addresses and collect IPs of users, although a while back we ran an article where Register readers, you devious lot, suggested far more nefarious uses for Web bugs. That said, for the most part Web bugs are judged to be fairly benign. Cyveillance tried to spin the results of the survey to suggest Web bugs may undermine building a good reputation for a brand but we reckon the more interesting point to note from the survey is how widely used Web bugs are. ® Updated Time to declare an interest. Although I wasn't aware of it at the time of writing this story, El Reg's home page carries a Web bug from Vibrant Media. Readers spotted this using a tool called Bugnosis. Our privacy policy says that we're not responsible "for the privacy policies of linked Web sites, advertisers or advertisement serving companies". I hope this clarifies the situation. Irony, we've heard of it. Related Stories Official: Microsoft is the Net's biggest bugger Fun with Internet bugs E-mail 'bug' danger overstated? E-mail wiretapping used to spy on corporate communications JavaScript makes e-mail bugging easy
John Leyden, 15 Aug 2001

More great comedy musi-visual mind-bending cartoon things

Following David Stevenson's special musi-visual treat we highlighted yesterday, a number of readers have been in touch to recommended their own favourites. Do we have a new art form here? God, we hope not. Although expect some tosser from St Martins to copy it and come up with some ridiculous arty justification for a bunch of rich-boy sycophants who'll pay £5,000 a pop for anything that some delusional, coke-addled commentator says is deep. But that aside... We reckon the only one anywhere near Dave's offering is called Weeeeeeeee, and features a squirrel on speed rapping about how it says "weeeeeeeeee". Try it, you might like it. It is here. Then there's Tsluts versions, which it calls HTML videos. These were the pre-cursor of Dave Stevenson's movie, made by Rob Manuel. There's several here, which are cerebrally, if not always visually, wonderful. Check em out here. This one's called Hyakugjyuuidu!! and is a bit daft but possibly worth reviewing if silly music, singing toy planes, Harry Potter faces and Mr Bean is your bag. This one starts off being interesting but grows a little irritating by the end. Basically, it's a stick figure and modern Net and SMS language version of Romeo and Juliet. Worth a look if you're an aspiring artist of these odd creations. Just do a better job. There's more by Chris Coutts here And lastly, a crazy Turkish ramble. Twisted Turkish music and slow, odd images of Turkish families and hats and things. Again, shows what can be done but we're not talking unmissable. Enjoy. ® Related Story You just have to check this out
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

Deutsche Telekom takes out full-page ads to explain share slump

Deutsche Telekom has taken out full-page ads in German papers today to explain to shareholders how come its shares slumped over 20 per cent last week. The ads take the form of a letter to shareholders from DT's chairman Ron Sommer. Unsurprisingly, Herr Sommer feels that it's all been a big misunderstanding and that the current share price doesn't take account of DT's "positive development" and its future. He also assured shareholders that the cause of the problem was being swiftly and extensively investigated. The trouble all stemmed from a major spat with Deutsche Bank last week, which continued through the weekend. The two fell out over a share placement. It's all a bit complicated but basically a huge tranche of shares were put out to the market by Deutsche Bank on behalf of some unnamed individual. The thing is, at the start of September, a large number of people will be freed from a contract and allowed to sell their shares in DT, so the prospect of this unexpected sale caused everyone to panic and the share price slumped. Deutsche Bank should have known better - or at least warned Deutsche Telekom - so now the two are in a foul mood with each other. "It will certainly affect our cooperation with Deutsche Bank in the future," said Sommer. Sommer obviously feels hard done by, so he's put out the ads in a bid to calm investors. Investors are unlikely to sell shares at the moment because they reckon that the price is below what they are really worth, as folk are worried about the September date. However, that won't make them feel any less edgy. Unfortunately (and perversely) for Herr Sommer, DT's share price has fallen another 2 per cent today. Who knows what this means? It'll only be resolved on 1 September. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

Register Reporter Required

The Register is looking for a reporter to join our London-based news team. Your patch will be the computer hardware/channel sectors. You will have a minimum of 1-2 years' experience in IT journalism, preferably in news. We'll be throwing you in at the deep-end, so you need to be a self-starter. You will already have the right to work in the UK. And English will almost certainly be your first language. What else? The salary range is £18-24K AAE. Interested? Then email me in the first instance with a: your CV b: a short note telling me why you want to work at The Register. Put 'Register Reporter' as the subject line. If you don't, your application may not be considered. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 29 August. We'll try and respond to everyone who applies, but if we're snowed under with CVs it won't be possible. Interviews will take place in early September. ®
Robert Blincoe, 15 Aug 2001

Best Price Poweroid 2002

ReviewReview Although clock speeds go up with increasing regularity, if you need more power than current processors can supply the only option is to use more than one in the same PC. Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) set-ups usually involve dual configurations, although more processors can be catered for. Using two slower processors rather than one fast, expensive chip can also be a cheap way of improving performance. However, the performance of an SMP set-up isn't as good as that of a similarly-rated single-chip machine. Furthermore, to gain any advantage from an SMP set-up, the operating system and software must be multi-processor aware. This means Windows NT or 2000, and applications designed to run in a multi-processor environment. Best Price's system is built around AMD's new 760MP chipset, bringing SMP to the Athlon platform. The new Athlon MP, built around the Athlon 4 core, codenamed Palomino, is specifically designed for SMP use. Best Price has opted for standard 1.3GHz chip. This set-up scored a WorldBench result of 214, just three points short of the 1.7GHz P4 from Hi-Grade. That gives the Best Price the second-highest WorldBench score we've seen so far. If you need that extra boost of power, then the results are promising. The down side is that if you want this level of power, you'll have to pay for it. ® Info Price: £1899.00 Contact: 0870 220 0444 Website: www.poweroid.com Specs Processor type: Dual AMD Athlon Processor speed: 1.3GHz each RAM: 256MB DDR Hard disk: IBM Hard disk capacity: 2x30GB Modem: 56Kbps Monitor: Iiyama Vision Master Pro 451 Screen size: 19in Max resolution: 1920x1440 Graphics card: MSI GeForce3 DDR Warranty: Five-year return to base Scoring Build quality: 8 Features: 8 Performance: 9 All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 15 Aug 2001

UK.Internet.com death was VNU decision

Those not diligently keeping tabs on the ever-diminishing British online news market may have missed the silent death of UK.Internet.com. A couple of months ago Internet.com discreetly informed readers that it had decided to "merge" the UK site with its US news service "to provide more comprehensive news coverage", and UK.Internet.com disappeared. There was no official announcement, no press release, and no mention of Dutch publisher VNU. The site started life as a joint venture between US giant Internet.com (now renamed INTMedia Group) and VNU during the dotcom hysteria of mid-1999. Which should come as no surprise really - according to sources, UK.Internet.com was subject to market changes and the mood swings of its two owners throughout its short life. But whose decision was it to shut down the site? Management of UK.Internet.com changed hands several times - at the end of last year VNU decided it wanted out, and it shifted control to Internet.com. From November 2000 the site was run by Internet.com with the help of a couple of UK editorial staff and news siphoned off the US site. But VNU once again became interested in UK.Internet.com a few month's ago. According to INTMedia president and COO Chris Cardell, it quietly bought the UK site from Internet.com in May 2001. Just weeks after taking control of UK.Internet.com, VNU decided to shut it down. "It was VNU's decision to pull the plug," Alan Meckler, INTMedia CEO told The Register. INTMedia claims the UK site had between 10,000 and 20,000 page views per day. No readership figures were given, but Meckler said the email newsletter had around eight thousand subscribers. INTMedia did not try and rekindle another UK version, and its British readers are now fed through the US-based Internet.com site. Meanwhile, the company has embarked on a general cull of its news sites around the world. Over the last year it has chopped its sites from 22 to seven - it is currently in Germany, Asia, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Korea, and Turkey (all using the Internet.com name). The latter three are licensed out to other parties, while Japan and Germany are joint ventures. No-one was available for comment today at VNU. ® Related Stories Haymarket suspends the net
Linda Harrison, 15 Aug 2001

Yankee spies are rubbish, says Senate

A Senate report into everybody's favourite snoopers the NSA has said that despite it having been given loads of money it is lagging behind in its spying prowess and has been "slow to adapt" to modern technological advances. "The National Security Agency is America's most important asset for technical collection of terrorism information, yet it is losing its capability to target and exploit the modern communications systems used by terrorists, seriously weakening the NSA's ability to warn of possible attacks," said a report by the Senate Committee on Intelligence. And this is despite the NSA being giving a truckload of extra money to do just that, the report continues. Although, of course, the actual NSA budget is top secret (estimates put it at $30 billion). You may not have heard of the NSA, but it will have heard of you because it makes it its business to spy on everyone and everything it can. It has a wide range of expensive spying kit to pick up every sort of signal imaginable and has been accused of slipping backdoor spying devices in software among other things. However, this hasn't stopped American embassies being blown up in Kenya and Tanzania, the Senate complains. It's all got too complicated what with computers and everything. "Today we must still deal with terrorists, insurgents, and others who have hundreds of years of history fuelling their cases. But the chances are they will be using laptop computers, sophisticated encryption, and weaponry their predecessors could not even have imagined," said the report. The NSA is particularly narked about the availability of super-strong encryption software, which makes its job of sticking its nose in everywhere much harder. It spent years making it against the law but has lost the battle. Oh well. The problem, see, with giving the NSA the power and technology to access every bit of information it may need for terrorists and the like is that to do so, the common people's civil rights invariably have to be cut, dried, rolled up and smoked. And we don't like that. Of course, this could all be an elaborate ruse to get even more money - "Rebuilding the NSA is the committee's top priority," says the report. With even more money, they could take over the world. Brohahahahahahaha. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2001

Avnet says it'll be profitable by December

Electronic components distributor Avnet has posted a Q4 loss but says it will break even over the next two quarters then return to profit. It reported a net operating loss of $231 million, but this is mainly due to taking a $236.7 million charge for acquiring Kent Electronics on 8 June. For the quarter which ended June 29, Avnet reported earnings, excluding the Kent charge and other special items, of $5.7 million, down from $72.5 million a year earlier. Sales for the quarter fell 14 per cent to $2.54 billion from $2.95 billion a year earlier. Roy Vallee, Avnet's CEO, said: "Business conditions over the last six to eight months have been deteriorating faster than I have experienced in my 30 years in this industry. "We are currently estimating sales in the September quarter to decline by about 5 per cent to 10 per cent as compared with the June quarter, with gross margins under pressure. That should be largely offset by expense reductions, resulting in net income around break-even for the September quarter. There is growing evidence that excess inventories are drying up and, in addition, end demand in the December quarter should be benefited by seasonal factors. As a result I am optimistic that sequential earnings growth will resume in the December quarter." Including charges - full year profits were $97,000, down from $162.6 million in fiscal 2000. Excluding charges, earnings for the year were $236.8 million compared with $193 million in 2000. ® Related Link Avnet's results
Robert Blincoe, 15 Aug 2001

Microsoft seeks Linux-bashing .NET evangelist

Linux-bashing remains high on the list of qualifications for a job with The Beast, it seems. An eagle eyed reader spotted this in the brief for a technical marketing position at Microsoft banging the drum for .NET:- "The Developer Evangelist will be responsible for identifying and engaging J2EE and Linux focused developers in existing accounts, ISVs, and SIs as well as existing Visual Studio customers." So Penguinistas: despite the apparent blessing given to the open source .NET projects, they're still after you. The post is based in New York, and was placed through an external recruitment agency. Benefits include a "24 hour nurse line". Really. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Aug 2001