16th > August > 2001 Archive

New and used computers wanted for Africa

A charity which moves drugs and medical aid around Africa has launched an appeal for computers. The UK organisation is called Riders For Health, and it needs around 100 computers to expand its operations over the next two years. The charity provides motorbikes and other vehicles to pick up drugs when they are sent to Africa by other organisations. Often these packages are left stranded at points such as airports, and never reach the people who really need them. Riders for Health collects them and takes them to towns and villages in Africa. The 12-year-old organisation, which saves millions of lives every year, currently operates in several African countries, including Gambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the Congo. But it wants to expand, and to do this it needs to update its current computer system used to co-ordinate the various operations. It needs around 100 computers in total - including notebooks and desktops - and it could also use a few servers, printers, CD-rewriters, projectors, and digital cameras, as well as a bit of software. This kit doesn't have to be brand new, but it does need to be half-decent - computers without much memory or which are more than two or three years old aren't much use. The computers will be put in stations around Africa, where they will be used to help with basic maintenance of vehicles - such as by co-ordinating technicians to help fix vehicles. "We just couldn't do this if we didn't have the technology," said Andrea Coleman, who co-runs the charity from its Northampton base with her husband, Barry. "People aren't aware of the impact that technology can have on changing lives....The developed world sends aid to Africa, but it doesn't understand that the infrastructure is not in place to distribute it. "The basic fact is that computers save lives - they are the big missing link that people have ignored." Anyone interested in donating new or used IT equipment can contact Riders for Healthhere. ®
Linda Harrison, 16 Aug 2001

Intel readying Xeons with on-die L3

Intel's demonstration of a 2GHz Xeon processor at SIGGRAPH this week seems to have surprised a number of observers. It shouldn't have done. The 2GHz Xeon, codenamed Foster, has been on Intel's server roadmap for a Q3 release since late last year. Its launch follows the arrival of 1.4, 1.5 and 1.7GHz Xeons last quarter, all aimed at the mid-range to top-end of the workstation arena. The 2GHz part will also reach out into what Intel calls the Front-end Dual-processor and General-purpose Dual-processor server markets. What is interesting is c't magazine's comment that a version of the 2GHz part with on-die L3 cache will ship in the autumn. It's important to note that this isn't a workstation-oriented CPU - a conclusion some observers have leapt to - but is aimed at four- and eight-way back-end servers. This Xeon has been on the roadmap for as long as the regular 'Pentium 4 by any other name' Xeon, but all the documentation we've seen lists it as a ">1.6GHz". It's due to replace the delayed 900MHz Pentium III Xeon in Q4, which is why we're not surprised that some server OEMs believe the 900MHz PIII Xeon will ever ship at all. The four- and eight-way Xeon is expected to ship in two versions, with 512KB and 1MB of on-die L3, respectively. ® Related Stories Intel 900MHz Xeon - too little too late Intel's Server Roadmap Intel pulls shipment of high-end server chip Related Link c't: Intel shows Xeon CPU with 2.0GHz (in German)
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2001

Lastminute.com crawls towards profit

Lastminute.com is convinced it has enough spare cash to see its business report a profit without having to go cap-in-hand to its investors. Announcing a jump in turnover and widening pre-tax losses, co-founder and one-time dotcom darling, Martha Lane-Fox, insisted that things were on the up. Lane-Fox told newswire AFX News: "We see operating profitability at the end of 2002 ... and are absolutely confident that we have enough cash to see use through to break-even." The adult wares, gifts, and bucket travel shop reported increased Q3 turnover of £4.4 million for the three months ended June 30, compared to £1 million in the corresponding period last year. Pre-tax loss increased from £9.3 million in Q3 2000 to £12.9 million. Total transaction value for the last nine months topped £77.3 million and is predicted to climb to more than £120 million by the end of the year. At the same time, the amount of cash pouring out of the company fell from £9.1 million for Q2 to £8.6 million in Q3. As at June 30 the outfit had £53.3 million spare cash. Said chairman Allan Leighton: "Lastminute.com continues to improve on all of the retail basics. "Costs, margins, conversion rates and cashflow continue to move ahead in a period traditionally quiet for sales. "The fourth quarter will see us exceed £45 million total transaction value in a quarter for the first time and continue on track to deliver break even in the UK and France at an operational level in nine months time," he said. By mid morning shares in the dotcom had nudged up .25p (.73 per cent) to 34.50p. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2001

WinXP WPA switch signals RTM is imminent

One of the surest signs that Windows XP is close to RTM (Release to Manufacture) is that Microsoft has rejigged the Windows Product Activation (WPA) in the most recent beta build, 2542. The company is widely expected to sign off the final code within the next week, and in the run-up to this it makes sense (at least from Microsoft's point of view) to switch over from the more relaxed regime the beta testers have had to the real thing. Prior to 2542 testers were able to use their product key for multiple installations, which of course makes sense for beta testers but isn't what Microsoft has planned for the finished product. Business users who buy XP via one of Microsoft's volume (five copies or more) licensing programmes won't have to activate machines individually, while home users will need to, and will have their software locked to a specific machine. Switching testers to this would cause serious inconvenience for them if the beta had much longer to go, so obviously it hasn't. This system already operates for Office XP; leaked corporate unlock keys which activate the corporate edition without online checking with Microsoft have been around since OXP itself RTMed, but these keys don't work with the home version of OXP. It's probable that this will also apply to WinXP, and it's inevitable that shortly after WinXP RTMs the crackers will have cracks or workarounds for the finished product. Microsoft can however slow this process down by keeping its cards close to its chest for as long as possible, and by keeping a lid on 'magic' corporate keys (if they're going to exist) until the last minute. This week's switch therefore indicates that the last minute is almost upon us. Testers are having to use new keys, which presumably means the ones that leaked out of the beta programme no longer work, and that the warez people will be needing some new leaks, and probably some new cracks. This will only slow them up a little, but provided XP does go gold next week, the PC companies could be shipping machines with it preinstalled by late September, a month ahead of the official October 25th launch. ® Related Story How XP WPA will squeeze more money out of businesses
John Lettice, 16 Aug 2001

Taiwanese firms' output value fell 13% during 1H

Taiwanese manufacturers, source of many of the world's CD and DVD drives, CRT and LCD monitors, mobos, digital cameras, scanners, notebook PCs and the like, saw the sale value of their products fall 13 per cent year-on-year during the first six months of 2001, the island's Market Information Centre, part of the Institute for Information Industry, has reported. That's proof, if it were needed, that the economic downturn is hitting all aspects of the computer business, from systems to peripherals. Scanner makers were worst hit, with output value down 32.8 per cent. CRT monitor output value fell 31.6 per cent. Notebook PC output value fell 16.9 per cent, on a four per cent fall in shipments. Desktop PC output value was down 14.1 per cent. Motherboard output value fell 0.4 per cent. CD-R output value fell 3.5 per cent. Some sectors bucked the trend. LCD output value grew 168.7 per cent, on shipments up 36.1 per cent to 2.9 million units. Digital camera shipments grew by 158.3 per cent, while the money the brought manufacturers rose 168.9 per cent. Looking ahead, the MIC reckons the downturn will have bottomed out next month and business will begin to grow again in October. It forecasts overall output value to grow by 5-6 per cent during last three months of the year, resulting in an annual drop of 8.4 per cent. A small percentage, true, but still worth up to NT$120 billion ($3.48 billion), the MIC reckons. Roll on the recovery. ®
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2001

Samsung bags exclusive Nokia DRAM deal

Samsung has scored an exclusive DRAM supply deal with Nokia which should help it out during the tough times in the computer memory market. Nokia is going to buy all its 64Mb DRAMs from Samsung. The chips will go in Nokia's Net access Communicator style phones. Bloomberg reports that Samsung is also in talks to supply Motorola and Siemens as it is the only memory manufacturer making DRAM for mobile phones. Bloomberg speculates that Nokia will use the DRAM to replace the more expensive - but faster and more energy efficient - static random access memory chips. Nokia is already selling phones with DRAMs modified to use less power. ® Related Link Bloomberg story Related Stories The Reg Smartphone Roundup - The Verdict Is In Taiwan's DRAM producers agree to output cut
Robert Blincoe, 16 Aug 2001

IIS über-patch claims to wipe out all old Web server flaws

Microsoft has released an über-patch that aims to address all the previously announced vulnerabilities in its IIS Web server software, and a few more besides. The cumulative patch includes the functionality of all security patches released to date for IIS 5.0, and all patches released for IIS 4.0 since Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 5. Microsoft has promised that the cumulative patch eliminates the "side effects" of the previous IIS cumulative patch, which have led some admins to defer the installation of the fix even while the FBI warned the Russian Mafia was exploiting flaws with IIS to raid online banks. Apparently it took the outbreak of Code Red for Microsoft to take anything approaching decisive in making its easier for admins to guard against the many flaws on IIS. The update, which amounts to a point release for both IIS 4 and IIS 5, also addresses five previously undisclosed vulnerabilities with IIS, which could result in either denial of service or privilege elevation. A denial of service flaw that could enable an attacker to cause the IIS 4.0 service to fail, if URL redirection has been enabled. The Code Red worm generates traffic that can in some cases exploit this flaw even on boxes that weren't susceptible to infection by the worm. A flaw with the WebDAV feature of IIS 5.0 that could temporarily disrupt services. Yet another DoS bug that revolves around the IIS 5.0 interprets content containing a particular type of invalid MIME header. A buffer overrun vulnerability involving the code that performs server-side include (SSI) directives. An attacker who had the ability to place content onto a server could include a malformed SSI directive that would crash a system and insert potentially malicious code into the system, where it might subsequently be executed. A privilege elevation vulnerability involving the processing tables used by IIS 5.0. That's quite a list and it makes you wonder what other bugs the notoriously flaky IIS harbours. When Microsoft next releases a Web server product we hope it sees the value of a comprehensive security audit BEFORE the product is released. We can but hope... ® External Links MS bulletin: cumulative patch for IIS Related Stories MS internal network whacked by Code Red Russian Mafia uses NT flaws to raid Internet banks Code Red and the Cisco side effect Son of Code Red is born Internet survives Code Red IIS worm made to packet Whitehouse.gov MS hacked once, twice, three, FOUR times MS confronts another IIS system-level hole Yet another IIS exploit reported Microsoft IIS hole gives System-level access
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2001

Marconi boardroom genocide on cards

A boardroom purge is coming to Marconi as institutional investors make their anger known, claims The Guardian. Apparently the company's chairman Sir Roger Hurn told its big investors in a private meeting that it had sped up its search for a new chief executive and a new chairman. Sir Roger should have retired last month, leaving the chairman post free for current chief exec Lord Simpson and the chief exec post free for John Mayo, former deputy chief exec. However following the disastrously handled profit warning at the start of last month - which saw Marconi's share price halve in value overnight - John Mayo has been kicked out, Sir Roger has stayed on and shareholders have been promised that Lord Simpson will leave as soon as practicable. The company's big investors have kept relatively quiet over their fury, allowing the recent agm to go off without major mishap. However, with Marconi threatening to be kicked out of the FTSE 100 next month, the fall from grace of one of Britain's flagship companies has made the board's positions untenable. Sir Roger said that ideally he wanted to name a new chairman first so that the appointee can select a replacement for Lord Simpson, however it said it was going to work the other way around. Lord Simpson has presided over a share price fall from £12.50 last September to its lowest in living memory today - just 66.75p. It has fallen seven per cent since this morning. Marconi's share price for the last year is given below (taken from Etrade.co.uk). ® Related Stories Moody's Blues knacker Marconi shares Marconi agm kicks off; Simpson holds firm Oracle aided Marconi collapse Oracle didn't help Cisco see the precipice Marconi drops even further; everyone suffers Massive fall-out from Marconi share collapse
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Aug 2001

Intel's Mobile Roadmap

UpdatedUpdated Intel's attention may be focused on the 26 August launch of the desktop 2GHz Pentium 4 - along with a 1.9GHz part and price cuts across the rest of the family - but it hasn't taken its eye off the mobile sector. The next date circled on Intel's mobile-processor calendar is 16 September. As we've reported before, we're expecting the next round of price cuts on that date, to be followed by the launch of new 0.13 micron Tualatin Celerons and the 1.2GHz Pentium III-M, based on the same core. To recap, on 16 September, according to our sources, prices will end up as follows: ·1.13GHz PIII-M (Tualatin)- $508, -20% ·1.06GHz PIII-M - $401, -21% ·1.0GHz PIII-M - $294, -27% ·1.0GHz PIII (Coppermine) - $321, -20% ·933MHz PIII-M - $241 ·900MHz PIII - $241 ·866MHz PIII-M - $198 ·850MHz PIII - $198 ·800MHz PIII - $198 ·850MHz Celeron - $107, -20% ·800MHz Celeron - $91, -15% ·750MHz Celeron - $75, -18% ·700MHz Celeron - $75 And the roadmap remains: September/October 2001 ·1.2GHz Pentium III-M - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2 - $722 ·900MHz Mobile Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine, 128KB L2 - $134 ·733MHz, 866MHz Mobile Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine-T, 133MHz FSB ·800MHz Mobile Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine-T, 100MHz FSB ·750, 800MHz Low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·733MHz Low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·700MHz Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·Chipset: i830MG - no external AGP January 2002 ·1.26GHz Pentium III-M - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·933MHz Mobile Celeron - 0.18 micron Coppermine-T, 133MHz FSB February 2002 ·1.5, 1.6GHz Mobile Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood, 512KB L2 Q1 2002 ·850MHz Low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·866MHz Low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·750MHz Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·650MHz Low Voltage Mobile Celeron: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·667MHz Low Voltage Mobile Celeron: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·600MHz Ultra-low Voltage Mobile Celeron: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 100MHz FSB April 2002 ·1GHz Mobile Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2 May 2002 ·1.7GHz Mobile Pentium 4 - 0.13 micron Northwood, 512KB L2 Q2 2002 ·1.33GHz Mobile Celeron - 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·933MHz Low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·800MHz Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III-M: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB ·733MHz Low Voltage Mobile Celeron: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 133MHz FSB ·650MHz Ultra-low Voltage Mobile Celeron: 0.13 micron Tualatin, 256KB L2, 100MHz FSB Related Stories Intel's Desktop Roadmap Intel's Server Roadmap
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2001

Forget the rumours – Wireplay still up for sale

Wireplay is still up for sale despite speculation that it has been bought by two former directors of Gameplay Plc. Industry insiders said former Gameplay directors, Tim Gummer and Bruce Heck, had bought the multi-player games service for £150,000 as part of a management buy-out (MBO). "Yeah, we've heard that rumour too," Heck told The Register. He denied the MBO had been completed but admitted that he was in negotiations with Gameplay to buy the operation. Gameplay Plc boss, Mark Bernstein - speaking through his financial PR - also denied that the deal had been inked. "Wireplay's still up for sale," he insisted. Which leaves us where? Well, if both sides agree that Wireplay's still up for sale then there's little else that can be done except to take their word for it. However, just because the sale hasn't been signed and sealed doesn't mean it isn't going to happen. Our view is that Bernstein's and Heck's denial is merely a question of semantics. Time will tell. Heck's new operation - Arena Teknik - is a business-to-business games service that will provide online gaming and related consultancy to Net businesses who want to run a games service. The privately funded London-based outfit should start operations on September 1. Heck said he's already holding talks with a number of unnamed operators to provide a games service. However, Telewest Internet operation, Blueyonder, is not one of them. It will launch its own broadband games service in the autumn after recruiting a handful of former Wireplay staff. ® Related Story Wireplay up for sale Blueyonder to launch new games site
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2001

Dell skimps on spec to hit PC price points

Dell is being a little skimpy with its PC specs in order to hit certain price points. Today it's been advertising a 1.3GHz P4 Dimension for £799 inc VAT and delivery. We saw it in the Sun but its probably being plugged elsewhere. The machine comes with 128MB RDRAM, 32MB Nvidia GeForce 2, but a 15in monitor. But where the specs come in really underweight is with the hard disk - it's just 10GB. Now 10GB is plenty of space, but the standard these days is for 40GB to 80GB. What the deal really does is give Dell a chance to upsell. The whole advert is built around improving the spec with a larger monitor, and CD-R, and buying a printer, scanner, and other add-ons. Maybe Dell will be a bit more generous when the P4 price cuts kick in on 26 August. ® Related Stories Was Gateway down to selling just 1,500 PCs a week in the UK? 2GHz P4 PCs to hit £999 in September Intel Pentium 4 price cuts put pressure on mobo makers
Robert Blincoe, 16 Aug 2001

Telewest spanner causes small fire

A tiny blaze engulfed a small room at Telewest's offices in Edinburgh cutting off 70,000 phone customers. According to edinburghnews.com an engineer created sparks after dropping a spanner on some batteries. What followed was a small fire. No one was hurt in the incident. Elsewhere, Thomas S Muirhead of Hardwicke in Gloucester, has written to The Times to give his view on why Telewest is making more cash from each of its customers. He points out that that the one-off connection charge on all Telewest phone calls has increased from 3.5 to 5p. Writes Mr Muirhead: "This small change represents an increase of almost 43 per cent and, as far as I can tell, is not intended to reflect any increase in the quality of service. Further comment would be superfluous." Whatever can he mean? ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2001

Canon Digital Ixus V

ReviewReview Canon continues to build on the success of its ultra-compact Digital Ixus camera with the introduction of the Ixus V. This version sports a lower price tag, but its key selling points remain the same: its tiny size (at 190g it is easily the most portable camera we've seen) and gorgeous styling. It retains the brushed metal bodywork synonymous with the Ixus range, and this gives it a sturdy feel despite its proportions. Since the focus of the Digital Ixus V is style, you do have to compromise on substance, and it doesn't offer the best value for money. That said, there are a few extras offered by the Ixus V, including the ability to capture up to 30 seconds of full-motion video and a generous software bundle. This enables you to manipulate and print images and edit your movies. The 2.1Mp (megapixel) CCD (charge-coupled device) is the same as that of the previous Ixus, and there are just three basic resolution settings. Shots at top quality are clear, if a little washed out, but you can only store seven such images on the supplied 8MB CompactFlash card. Dropping the resolution allows room for more shots, but quality suffers. The V is simple to set up and the three shooting modes are easy to use. There is even a fully automated option for complete beginners. Stitch mode enables panoramic shots, and there's a limited Manual mode for more experienced photographers. Zoom options are limited to 2x optical or 2.5x digital, which aren't that generous. The Ixus V is not the cheapest or the highest-specified camera on the market, but if you are after the ultimate in style and portability, this camera is at the top. ® Info Price: £383.00 Contact: 0800 616 417 Website: www.canon.co.uk Specs Warranty: one-year Megapixel rating: 2.1Mp Optical zoom: 2x Dimensions: 87x26.9x57mm Weight: 190g Battery type/charger: lithium-ion/Y Scoring Build quality: 9 Features: 7 Performance: 7 All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 16 Aug 2001

IBM aims for Summit with dual 32-bit, 64-bit chipset

Intel has selected chipset technology from IBM to test upcoming multi-processor versions of its Xeon server chip and the next-generation Itanium processor, McKinley. IBM's Summit is the first chipset that can be used with both 32-bit and 64-bit processors, and it hopes that Intel's validation work will allow it to be one of the first to market with xSeries servers based on multi-processor versions of Xeon. Each Summit chipset joins as many as four Intel Xeon MP processors together - enabling them to share resources such as I/O and memory - resulting in up to a 20 per cent increase in overall system performance. The chipset features IBM-developed technologies, such as copper interconnects and silicon-on-insulator fabrication. Summit will also incorporate a PCI-X add-in interface, effectively designed to double data transfer rates. ® Related Stories Intel's Server Roadmap Intel 900MHz Xeon - too little too late Intel rolls out 900MHz 4, 8-way PIII Xeon Dell tops (Intel) server satisfaction poll Benchmarks put skids under Microsoft's IA-64 pitch
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2001

AOL invites Lotus into the IM fold

AOL has invited Lotus into its instant messaging Bedouin tent with the announcement of an "interoperability trial". The trial will see the companies using the SIMPLE protocol to get AOL's AIM system working with Lotus' Sametime. SIMPLE stands for Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging (where's the "E"?) and is currently under consideration to become a standard by the IETF (Internet Engineering Taskforce). According to the press release, the trial is "a part of America Online's ongoing efforts to explore how to enable interoperability between AOL and third party IM systems in a secure and reliable manner". And we thought it was because the company had been ordered to let its market-leading instant messaging software work with its competitors' products as part of its mega-merger with Time Warner, rather than actively make sure they didn't, like in the past. AOL's AIM almost controls the IM market, with only Microsoft's Messenger service getting near - now how did the Beast of Redmond pull that off? Despite being told to do so, AOL does stand to gain by letting others' products work with its own because MS is doing its old trick of tying in MSN Messenger with its latest version of Explorer and its new OS Windows XP. It won't last long in its own bubble. AOL is also using the relaxation of Microsoft's controls on PC companies having to put MS icons on the desktop to push its instant messenger (and its ISP service of course). The president of Interactive Properties [snort] at AOL starting saying: "We are very pleased to be moving forward with Lotus in this upcoming trial. Lotus' market-leading expertise in real-time collaboration and messaging software will be of great benefit as we examine", but we decided to stop listening to save our brains dripping out our ears. The general manager [proper job title] of Lotus Software, Al Zollar made a little more sense when he said: "We're excited to join AOL in this endeavour and potentially create larger opportunities for IM interoperability. The trial is a significant step in leveraging the power and widespread use of AOL's AIM technology and the versatility of a real-time collaboration offering such as Lotus Sametime." So it looks as though AOL is slowly coming good on its promises. Not too quickly though. ® Related Stories Allo. Funny goings-on with AOL's IM AOL to open up instant messaging to secure Time Warner deal? AOL instant message block is for 'security reasons' MS bows out of instant message war with AOL
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Aug 2001

Sierra On-Line sacks 148 more staff

A week after Vivendi Universal closed down its Dynamix games development studio it has emerged that the damage was far more severe than previously suspected. The closure of Dynamix and the resulting 97 lay-offs was just part of a major reorganisation at Sierra On-Line, which saw another 148 people being sacked at Bellevue and a further 20 transferred to Los Angeles, as well as the virtual annihilation of the Sierra Home software label. Vivendi's other studios, Blizzard and Universal Interactive, were both apparently uneffected by the reorganisation, but they must be a little nervous after this. Sierra president Michael Ryder insisted that "while any reorganisation involving staff reductions is difficult, there is no doubt that this is the right thing to do for the business". ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 16 Aug 2001

Titus Interactive to take over Interplay

France continued its dastardly plot to dominate the global computer games industry today, as Titus Interactive announced that it had taken control of troubled American publisher Interplay. Earlier takeover talks, thought to be with a Japanese group, were blocked by Titus, which has owned a sizeable chunk of Interplay for some time now. Today it announced that it had extended that stake to 51 per cent by turning some of its convertible bonds into actual shares in the company. A statement from the French company said that "this purchase raises Titus Interactive's voting rights and will enable, during the Annual General Meeting in September, a re-election of the board and a takeover of Interplay by Titus Interactive", before the representative collapsed in diabolical laughter. Interplay now joins Hasbro Interactive, Mattel Interactive, GT Interactive, Sierra, Interactive Magic, Accolade and a host of other American publishers to have been taken over by the French. ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 16 Aug 2001

Welsh dad kills 12-year-old daughter after email hoax

Three members of staff at a Welsh computer company have been charged with forgery after allegedly sending hoax emails to an exec at a rival company who later killed his 12-year-old daughter. The trio are accused of sending marketing manager Philip Hall emails that resulted in him going to India on what he believed was a business trip. But when he arrived in Delhi last July he discovered he was the victim of a hoax. This resulted in Hall, who worked for Cardiff-based firm Molecular Light Technology and had a history of mental illness, having a nervous breakdown. Hours after returning home he stabbed his 12-year-old daughter Emma through the heart as she slept, according to UK press reports. At the time Hall was being treated for manic depression and schizophrenia. The 41-year-old was cleared of murder late last year by a jury at Swansea Crown Court on the grounds of insanity, but was ordered to be detained indefinitely at a medium secure hospital. The three charged with the email forgery, who worked at AB Biomonitoring, have not been named. ®
Linda Harrison, 16 Aug 2001

Intel admits 2GHz Pentium 4 will launch on 27 August

Intel has confirmed it will indeed announce the 2GHz Pentium 4 in just under two weeks' time - just ahead of massive price cuts throughout the rest of the desktop P4 line. Company vice-president of microprocessor marketing Anand Chandrasekher admitted the arrival of the 2GHz part in a piece over at CNET promoting Intel's upcoming Developer Forum. Chandrasekher said the 2GHz P4 will be launched on Monday, 27 August, the first day of the Forum. The day before, Intel will cut 55 per cent off the price of the current top-of-the-range P4, which runs at 1.8GHz. Chandrasekher also said told CNET to tell readers that Forum attendees should "expect to see a ton of 1394" as Intel uses the event to promote its vision of the PC as a digital entertainment centre. It's certainly interesting that Intel should suddenly be keen in IEEE-1394 (aka FireWire, aka iLink) after so many Pat Gelsinger IDF keynotes that centred on dismissing the technology and talking up USB. What's changed? Well, with a dip in the PC market, vendors are desperate to find new applications, and are increasingly looking to the consumer electronics world for inspiration. So while 1394 was once just a niche product for niche players - ie. Apple - it's now important to the big guns too. And until Microsoft issues a Windows XP patch that adds USB 2.0 support to the new OS - it won't be supported in the first release, Microsoft has admitted already - Intel has little option but to swallow its pride and talk up 1394. Of greater interest to chip industry watchers will be Intel's discussion of Banias - it's mysterious mobile-oriented processor, currently being developed from the ground up by a team in Israel. Finally, and without a trace of irony, CNET's article notes that sources say Intel CEO Craig Barrett will not be attending IDF, but will be "fly-fishing in Mongolia". We'd never really thought of Mongolia as a key fly-fishing venue, so we suspect Uncle Craig may instead be keen to visit the might capitals of the Khans and ponder the story of a mighty empire that crumbled over just a few generations. An important lesson there, Craig, we'd say... ®
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2001

EMH – ‘ability to continue is materially impaired’

European Micro Holdings, the broker of top brand computer hardware, has announced it is unlikely to be able to continue trading as a going concern. This is because major shareholder John P Gallagher wants the $659,139 he loaned EMH back. And if he wants his money back, then so does John B Gallagher, co-chairman and major shareholder of EMH, who has also loaned the distie $659,139. The loans relate to the purchase of American Micro Computer Center (AMCC) by EMH. EMH doesn't have the money to pay up and so is likely to default. If it defaults then the Gallaghers would, under the terms of a pledge agreement, be entitled to take back their shares of stock in AMCC. This would result in EMH no longer owning an interest in AMCC and EMH being stuffed. In a statement the company said: "The combination of the events described above will materially impair European Micro Holdings ability to continue as a going concern." This kick in the goolies follows NatWest bank's decision to cut its exposure to the distie. NatWest used to lend EMH the entire amount it needed to buy its stock. The bank has now cut this back to 25 per cent of the value of inventory. On Friday, August 3, EMH issued a press release in which it said the NatWest loan restructure would materially impair the firm's "ability to finance its operations and to purchase inventory". The timing of today's statement is interesting. In July, CW360.com reported that EMH faced the threat of legal action from South Trust Bank for the repayment a loan. The distie had failed to comply with covenants attached to the loan, the site said. The deadline for the repayment is August 15 - yesterday. The company said that, if all else fails, Gallagher and co-chairman Harry Shields would personally repay the loan. Headquartered in Miami, European Micro Holdings operates in Europe only. The company hoovers up surplus inventory and also tries to exploit arbitrage opportunities i.e. it buys stock where it is cheap and sells it in a country where it is more expensive. EMH sells through resellers, at cheaper prices than they could buy through official distribution. And the company claims better margins than traditional disties. ® Related Story Natwest loan cut floors EMH Related Link EMH statement
Robert Blincoe, 16 Aug 2001

UK kids suffer because of slow DSL roll-out

Britain's kids could become the thickies of the world unless the UK gets wired up for broadband. Research published yesterday in the US reveals that more and more students are turning to broadband access in the home to assist their educational studies. Apparently, audio, video and 3-D graphics really help US kids learn more and get better grades. The report, Broadband Watch: Back to School said that kids with broadband access at home have "an important advantage that can't be matched in many classrooms". Parents reported that their kids' use of broadband services yielded "quantifiable results". Eight out of ten parents - who expressed a preference - said their children's Net skills had improved since they began using DSL Internet service making their study time more productive. While four out of ten parents said their children's interest in schoolwork had increased - and resulted in better grades - since they began using DSL. Said Californian parent, Beverly Fierro: "My son uses DSL for research and for class reports; he gets both graphics and text information. "He used dial-up first...but DSL is much faster...and makes it easier when you need to do research to go from one page to next without having to wait. "I don't think he would put as much effort into research without the DSL Internet service. "It would be too time-consuming and too frustrating for him," he said. If broadband is able to inspire young people in the US to greater things, then it could equally disadvantage youngsters in the UK who are being denied access to broadband services access because of high prices limited availability. As the UK recorded its 18th successive improvement in overall passes at "A" Level, there are genuine fears that this success could be undermined simply because those charged with the deployment of broadband have failed to make it widely available at a price people can afford. Come on now, let's think of the children. After all, it's their future. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2001

Jungle.com founder sings like a canary

Serial e-entrepreneur Steve Bennett has launched his latest project - a karaoke Web site. For a £5.99 monthly subscription, surfers can browse through around 2,000 tunes - including old favourites like Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive and Abba's Dancing Queen. The Singtotheworld site also offers a CD-burning facility at £3 per song. Bennett, who founded Software Warehouse and Jungle.com, said he wants to snare all karaoke lovers with the venture. But he is especially keen on attracting the music-buying teenybopper and pub-going crowds. He also aims to add sections for Indian music lovers and Country and Western fans. "It's great for parties at home, and for people who go to karaoke bars," said Bennett, who claims his own favourite track to sing along to is dodgy 70's ballad 'Love on the Rocks' by Neil Diamond. Bennett has so far pumped around £350,000 into the site, which he says has netted 1,000 members in its first two weeks of business. ® Related Link Singtotheworld.com Related Stories Jungle's Bennett bids for radio station Rumble in the Jungle.com GUS buys Jungle for £37 million Jungle buys Software Warehouse ahead of planned IPO
Linda Harrison, 16 Aug 2001

Beenz is dead: official

Beenz, the company attempting to build a purely online currency, has finally announced its own impending death. On 26 August it will be no more. Consumers will stop earning beenz and traders will stop redeeming them. It has passed on, it is no more, it has ceased to be, it's expired and gone to meet it's maker. This is an ex-beenz. Course it denied it in May, but it couldn't really disguise the fact that everything in its offices was being sold off and staff didn't - how you say? - have a job. Any has-beenz left in your account after midnight 26 August will be worth zilch, so you better get hunting for any suppliers daft enough to remain as beenz redeemers. Ten days and counting. According to the release: "Beenz.com's decision to wind down the beenz economy and halt trading is a direct consequence of the company's successful strategy of minimising the company's liabilities whilst the company is involved in advanced negotiations with a number of interested parties regarding the potential sale of the business or its assets." Odd, because you don't often hear companies shutting up shop due to their success. Anyway, the company is still trying to sell off its software and hardware - something it's been trying to do since May, but it's not really a seller's market out there at the moment. It reckons it can't tell us who's interested in buying the assets due to confidentiality contracts. Sounds like a load of beenz to us. The London office is to shut down at the end of August (no surprise there) but New York will stay open to try to sell these darned assets. At one point, Beenz was the darling of new media and epitomised the optimism of the Internet new world order where multi-billion pound corporates would be undermined by creative individuals and we would exist on talent and passion rather than power and control. High on such talk, Charles Cohen - its founder and CEO - once said Beenz would become the universal currency, supplanting all others. That looks like a daft dream now. People, when working as a group, are simple, blinkered and terrified of change. And so the corporates have inevitably led the Internet and its hopes on a different, money-based tangent leaving the dreamers behind, a little richer and a little wiser. With so much vested interest in keeping things the way they are, and enjoying the benefits of working different currencies, Beenz never really had a chance apart from as a novelty good. Its mistake was to want to be more than that. So farewell Beenz You tried your best To sell the world your idea But ideology is no good When greedy bastards control EMEA And the US Too ® Related Stories Beenz denies it's about to be canned Beenz meenz job cuts Ellison spills over beenz
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Aug 2001

Lotus and IBM pull products together

IBM is planning to integrate a number of the Lotus products with its core software offerings. This could be further evidence that Lotus’ life as a standalone company is drawing to a close. It couldn’t come at a better time. Speaking at the annual IBM Developer conference yesterday, IBM execs revealed that its latest version of WebSphere would feature much closer integration with Lotus’ flagship Domino server. The company also plans to tie into the DB2 product range. In all honesty the announcement came as no surprise. At Lotusphere earlier this year the company had said integration was imminent – and this was undoubtedly the best place for IBM to start. Following this kind of integration will enable IBM to cross sell across the platforms which should boost all technologies. The bigger question though is what does this mean for Lotus. Is it the start of the end of the stand-alone company? Lotus has had a funny old life. Having established a good product set under its own steam, the company fell victim to an aggressive take-over bid from IBM in 1995. Following the acquisition however, Lotus looked set for a comfortable life. IBM set the company up as a stand-alone business tasked with grabbing the lions share of the messaging and communications market. Unfortunately plans went awry. Although the Domino environment can claim some heady success, Notes, Lotus’ communications tool, soon fell victim to Microsoft and it’s bullish marketing techniques. The product gained itself quite an installed base and an enviable reputation, but Microsoft’s assault has been non-stop and now Notes simply doesn't have the clout it once had. True, Notes almost made a startling run for glory when some clever little marketing goon came up with the idea of knowledge management – a new category where Lotus Notes could dominate. Again though, it was a strategy not so much built on shifting sands, as at the low tide mark. Knowledge management was far too much of a wishy-washy, liberal concept for anyone to buy into and once again Lotus found itself floundering. Now the company finds itself with some damned good products but few places to sell them. IBM seems intent on denying that Lotus will be dragged back into the fold but it's probably inevitable. Lotus has to find somewhere to flog its products and there is no better way to do that than by making it part of a bigger, more clearly defined, IBM solution sale. That doesn’t mean that Lotus will go any day now, although IBM has acted swiftly in the past to re-merge its CRM firm, but clearly it's being considered. © IT-Analysis.com
Drew Cullen, 16 Aug 2001

Barry Fox promotes virus abuse on radio

Barry Fox, veteran electronics journalist and media pundit, lost his marbles live on London radio last night when he advocated sending viruses to people who annoy you. Speaking on the Clive Bull show on LBC, regular guest Barry appeared to forget both his years of IT experience and the law relating the misuse of computers when he informed listeners he had deliberately sent the SirCam virus to an address that has sent him an unwanted email. The email itself was one of the old Nigerian money making scams. This makes matters worse - if Barry infected the host machine with SirCam, the virus would proliferate far faster than on a normal machine since it would contain hundreds of thousands of emails addresses. As a well-recognised IT pundit, frequently appearing in the nationals and on TV and radio, such a remark would have wide repercussions. Barry prides himself on his friendly-uncle approach to complex IT matters, speaking clearly and simply. Advocating sending viruses though is more senile grandad behaviour. It has also only been a couple of weeks since the New Scientist had to print an apology following a Barry Fox article, in which he had said that a new copyright protection system for CDs could cause your loudspeakers to blow up. The "correction" denied that any such thing was possible on any level. This was a simple case of apologising for going over the top; but by publicly announcing he had deliberately sent a virus Barry has left himself open to the Computer Misuse Act 1990. Expert in this field, Neil Barrett from Information Risk Management, said that, yes, if Barry could be proven to have sent a virus on purpose, he had infringed the Act. And as for punishment? "It is all depends on the reason behind it," he told us. "If it was to cause unlawful damage, that is covered by section two of the Act. If it was sent to realise some information on the computer - intrusion with intent - then that is section three." The SirCam virus comes under section two, Neil told us, and as such Barry could face a fine of a few thousand pounds, a jail sentence of a few months or both. Has Barry finally lost it? What's next? Cancer threat from CD drives? We await with interest. ® Related Story 'Hi-fi nuking' CD technology safe claims developer
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Aug 2001

Fry's eats scrambled Egghead

Californian e-tailer Egghead.com is to sell up after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The dotcom, which flogged IT-related products, issued a statement yesterday saying it would sell its Web site and other assets to the US retail chain Fry's Electronics. It has laid off 185 employees as a result of the move. This leaves it with 130 staff, compared to the workforce of 500 it supported five months ago. Egghead is to continue trading under bankruptcy court supervision until the sale - which is expected by the end of next month. San Jose-based Fry's is then expected to operate the Egghead.com site. Egghead CEO Jeff Sheahan said the move was the result of a "dramatic and unexpected" drop in sales in recent weeks, which made it impossible for the company to drag itself into the black in its fourth quarter. Once upon a time, Egghead was America's biggest IT retailer. In 1998, after falling flat on its face with this business, it announced its intention to set up as a pure play Internet retailer. This is what we wrote at the time (Egghead failures ask for second chance) "Egghead.com Inc. - as it is now wants to be called - is a company that has lost its way. Instead of wasting shareholder funds in a desperate attempt to reinvent the firm, Egghead’s managers should saddle up and move on." ® Related Link Egghead.com statement Related Stories Egghead credit card hack: serious questions remain Egghead.com loss narrows
Linda Harrison, 16 Aug 2001

Freeserve shamed by peeping Toms

Bosses at Le Freeserve are no doubt fuming today after a newspaper gossip column revealed that some of their staff are peeping Toms and squinting Sarahs. It seems the ISP's offices are opposite the house of TV celeb and one-time newspaper editor, Janet Street-Porter. And in the privacy of her own she can't help but walk around without a stitch on and lay out underwear on her bed, so it seems. Which is exactly what titillates Le Freeswerve's peepers, according to The Scurra in today's Mirror. A spokeswoman for Le Freeswerve wouldn't say if staff would be reprimanded over the affair. Asked about the newspaper report, she said: "This is scurrilous." That move to Algeria any closer? ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2001

Palm buys Be

UpdatedUpdated Be has been sold - as we predicted a week or so back (see Be takeover imminent) - to Palm. The alternative-OS company today admitted its assets and technology have been sold to Palm for $11 million worth of the PDA maker's stock. Once the sale has been made - Be's directors have approved the move, but they'll need the backing of shareholders - Be will be wound up. If shareholders give the sale their support, the deal will be completed during Q4. We'd heard rumours that Palm was Be's suitor, but found little to back it up. It's certainly hard to see at first any real synergy between the two. Be developed multimedia-oriented desktop and Net appliance operating systems, while Palm develops operating systems for organisers. But think again. As PDAs become more geared toward wireless Net access, and through 3G networks, able to cope with ever richer media types, Palm will need expertise in handling those kinds of media. Indeed, a modern PDA is as much a Net appliance - arguably more so - than the set-top box image most of us think of when we consider boxes an OS like Be's BeIA might run on. Whatever Palm gets, it's hardly spending big money on the company. Its $11 million gets technology and a staff of around 57 engineers, which isn't a bad price - especially when it's being paid for with stock. Whether Palm will incorporate BeIA into the Palm OS, use it as the basis for a future PDA operating system, branch out into larger-scale appliances, or just cream off the multimedia expertise, the company has yet to say. Whatever it does, the acquisition of Be gives it a lot of scope to develop some interesting business models. Indeed, Palm CEO Carl Yankowski has just said: "This move will help us expand the PalmOS platform into broader markets using their multimedia media and Internet expertise." ® Related Stories Be takeover imminent Be sacks 28 staff Be revenues rise 615% to $715,000
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2001

Lotus and IBM pull products together

IBM is planning to integrate a number of the Lotus products with its core software offerings. This could be further evidence that Lotus’ life as a standalone company is drawing to a close. It couldn’t come at a better time. Speaking at the annual IBM Developer conference yesterday, IBM execs revealed that its latest version of WebSphere would feature much closer integration with Lotus’ flagship Domino server. The company also plans to tie into the DB2 product range. In all honesty the announcement came as no surprise. At Lotusphere earlier this year the company had said integration was imminent – and this was undoubtedly the best place for IBM to start. Following this kind of integration will enable IBM to cross sell across the platforms which should boost all technologies. The bigger question though is what does this mean for Lotus. Is it the start of the end of the stand-alone company? Lotus has had a funny old life. Having established a good product set under its own steam, the company fell victim to an aggressive take-over bid from IBM in 1995. Following the acquisition however, Lotus looked set for a comfortable life. IBM set the company up as a stand-alone business tasked with grabbing the lions share of the messaging and communications market. Unfortunately plans went awry. Although the Domino environment can claim some heady success, Notes, Lotus’ communications tool, soon fell victim to Microsoft and it’s bullish marketing techniques. The product gained itself quite an installed base and an enviable reputation, but Microsoft’s assault has been non-stop and now Notes simply doesn't have the clout it once had. True, Notes almost made a startling run for glory when some clever little marketing goon came up with the idea of knowledge management – a new category where Lotus Notes could dominate. Again though, it was a strategy not so much built on shifting sands, as at the low tide mark. Knowledge management was far too much of a wishy-washy, liberal concept for anyone to buy into and once again Lotus found itself floundering. Now the company finds itself with some damned good products but few places to sell them. IBM seems intent on denying that Lotus will be dragged back into the fold but it's probably inevitable. Lotus has to find somewhere to flog its products and there is no better way to do that than by making it part of a bigger, more clearly defined, IBM solution sale. That doesn’t mean that Lotus will go any day now, although IBM has acted swiftly in the past to re-merge its CRM firm, but clearly it's being considered. ® Copyright © 2001, IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 16 Aug 2001

World's fastest supercomputer goes down a bomb

The US government has activated ASCI White, the world's fastest supercomputer. This IBM machine costs $110m and simulates the effects of nuclear detonations. Shouldn't taxpayers be concerned: surely it's cheaper to blow up the occasional Pacific atoll? What with global warming, and rising sea levels, they're all doomed, anyhow. Located in a classified area at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, ASCI White weighs 106 tons and covers an area more than half the size of a football pitch. The monster machine is said to be faster than the combined speed of the next three most powerful supercomputers. It contains six Tera Bytes (TB) of memory, almost 50,000 times greater than the average PC, and has more than 160 TB of storage capacity, or enough to hold six times the entire book collection of the Library of Congress. ASCI White helps scientists maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile by simulating in three dimensions the ageing and operation of nuclear weapons. Boffins hope to expand the capacity of the system so that it is capable of 100 trillion calculations per second by 2005. Currently it is capable of a mere 13 trillion. ® External links U.S. Activates World's Fastest Supercomputer: IBM's ASCI White Related stories Powerful supercomp grid for US boffins Life, the universe and supercomputers NASA's new supercomp sits on a desktop AMD cluster sneaks in Supercomputer top 500 list Sun's Oz super computer goes horribly pear shaped $10m super'puter to crunch genetic code
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2001

BOFH: Cardiac Arrest or Cancer?

Episode 22Episode 22 "The Boss is looking a bit pale," The PFY comments as The Boss rolls into work at a very sedate pace. "Yep," I respond, knowing the full details. "Funeral yesterday. Another one of his PDP-11 mates has gone to the great archive in the sky." "Heart Attack?" The PFY asks, naming the number one killer of IT managers. "Yep, Apparently the old ticker gave out when he overexerted himself." "Refilling the paper tray on the printer?" The PFY asks, trying to find an explanation for our Boss's inability to perform such a simple task (outside of the obvious - he's a lazy bastard). "No, even more exertion than that!" I respond. "Internet Porn Marathon?!" "More still..." "Not..." "Yes!" "He used the stairwell!!!" "Indeed. They found him between the Management and Lunchroom floors after about a week of looking. If there hadn't been a fire drill he may not have been found for months!" "That's terrible!" "Indeed it is! The Boss is going to be a right pain!" "What?" "He's got the phobia. He's going to be annoying!" "MORE annoying, I think you mean. But what phobia? "Well he's realised he's in the danger zone - again. He'll get worried, concerned, then set his mind to the task and try and get healthier in any way possible." "Taking vitamins?" "Yes. But not just that. He'll start walking at lunchtimes, eating vegetables and low fat foods, etc." "It doesn't really sound so bad," The PFY interrupts. "That bit isn't. But then he'll stop coming to the pub on Friday evenings.." "No more shouts?!!!" "That is but the tip of the iceberg. Think instead - no subliminal messaging.." "Wha?" "The hypnosis tracks we recorded 6 minutes into his Wet!Wet!Wet! Cassette for his tube ride home." "?" "The ones about him being attracted to blondes with big bazookies..." "?!" "When you wanted to get some Internet porn but didn't want to waste the time browsing for it yourself and thought you'd get them off his web cache." "OH YES, I remember now. But it's not like NEED more piccies!" "Again, Iceberg tip stuff. If he's healthier, he'll start coming in earlier. He might even go on tours of the building as exercise, claiming he needs to 'keep in touch'. Before we know what's happening, he'll start visiting clients - and you know that'll just lead to trouble." "How do you think so many moves ahead?" "Seen it before. It's always the same. A mate pops his clogs and the next thing you know it's change-your-life New-Year's-resolution-mid-year time." "Yuhuh.." The PFY scoffs, doubtfully. "Just check out this early morning brew for me will you?" I ask - directing The PFY to the coffee machine. "I can't believe it!" The PFY snorts. "He put artificial sweetener in his tea instead of his normal three lumps of sugar." "Artificial Sweetener?" I Conan Doyle, "Told you so. But now for a real test." The real test is a sneaky one. I leave a couple of unattended chocolate eclairs on a desk outside his room, but as bad luck would have it, his Health Resolution has cut in early and he ignores them in favour of getting to know some people downstairs under the auspices of client liaison.. "This is serious!" The PFY blurts, looking at the To-do list The Boss dragged back up the stairs with him. "He wants us to go out and 'hold the client's hands' while they check their backup software is working. For 'client confidence'... "Just wait till morning tea." Morning tea rolls around, and some selfish bastard has eaten the two eclairs, which, I might add, were very tasty. The PFY and try and tempt The Boss with choccy biccies, but he's got immunity from them with couple of slices of unadulterated wholemeal bread as his afternoon repast. The sick bastard. "Someone's got to do something!!!" The PFY gasps, on the verge of panic "He's talking about chairing a client liaison MEETING, Today at 4pm." "IN PUB TIME!" I shout. "OVER MY DEAD BODY!" THAT LUNCHTIME "Just the steamed vegetables for me I think," The Boss sighs quietly "Not having any of the Onion Bhajis then?" The PFY blurts, ladling a pile of them onto his plate, according to plan. "No, not today." "And a good idea too", I add, slapping a dozen or so onto my plate, "Not the best thing to be eating - full of cholesterol! I just wish I had your willpower, but no. I just see them there, think of the juicy spice of them and can't help myself. That lovely flavour! I wish I could - but I can't. Oh, and look, Butter Chicken on the menu too - I really respect you for that!" I ladle myself out a more than generous portion of the aforementioned dish, letting the sauce ooze all over the Bhajis... The Boss's mask of indifference weakens slightly, but he doesn't crack, bless him. Mentally, however, I'm recalling that scene in Das Boot where the submarine is waaaaaaaay out of its depth and the hull's starting to crack.. ..just 10 more metres... Leading himself not into temptation, The Boss makes a break for the healthy beancounter (and beaneater) section of the lunchroom, leaving us to our just (and cream filled) desserts. I trot on over with The PFY in tow and pop down beside him. The meals of the guys around us are disgusting - all greens, no carbos, no fats. All that's taken care of in the diet supplement they get at the Gym. Even The Boss's meal looks like decadence. "How's it going lads?" I blurt, chumming up to the muscle boys of numbers. "I say, is that a WHOLE lettuce leaf??!!! Those hormone tablets must be playing up if you're eating for TWO!!" The silence is deafening, although in the background I can hear the tiniest of high-pitched whines from what I assume is a cattle prod under The PFY's lunchtray... And then... "Did you want something?" one of them asks. "No, no, just some advice. You blokes certainly know how to look after yourselves?" "Compared to some," another legumecounter sneers, looking down at my curryfest. "Yes, yes. But anyway is it true what I hear about all those artificial sweeteners being linked with the big C?" The Boss' expression changes slightly, and I wonder if I've lost a small piece of my humanity for being so cruel. "Coreldraw?" The PFY asks. "No, Cancer" I explain politely. "Oh yes," one of them cries, jumping on what must be his personal hobby horse (there's always one) and taking it for a gallop. "You may as well eat WEEDKILLER as artificial sweeteners! It's so carcinogenic that a recent... OHMIGOODNESS, HE'S FAINTED!" All eyes turn to The Boss, who's face down in my meal, splashing butter chicken sauce all over my new Adminspotting t-shirt. "Fainting people don't chew," The PFY notes. The Boss takes a break from my meal to come up for air. "You're a mess!" I observe, "And in no fit state for that client liaison meeting this afternoon. Should I reschedule the meeting for tomorrow morning?" "F--- em!" The Boss murmurs. "Welcome back sir," The PFY says, extending his hand. And they all lived happily ever after. ® BOFH 2K+1: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 16 Aug 2001

Old PCs cause birth defects

Research due to be released tomorrow suggests that babies born near landfill sites are more likely to suffer birth defects. The Government-funded study, carried out by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), found that women were one per cent more likely to have a baby with a congenital defect if they lived within two km of a landfill site. SAHSU also found that 80 per cent of the UK population lives this close to one of the dumping grounds. And women living near landfill sites containing hazardous waste were seven per cent more likely to have a baby with congenital defects. "We cannot say that there is no risk from landfill sites," said Dr Pat Troop, deputy chief medical officer at the department of health. "But given the small numbers of congenital anomalies and the uncertainties in the findings, we are not changing our advice to pregnant women and they should continue with the recommended ante-natal programme." Results of the study, which involved the group investigating 9,565 landfill sites that were in operation between 1982 and 1997, will be published in the British Medical Journal. England and Wales produce more than 100 million tonnes of waste every year, including masses of computer and electronic gadget waste - most of which goes into landfills. According to UK recycling outfit Technical Asset Management, it costs less than £10 to recycle a PC. ® Related Stories EU inches toward PC recycling levy PC makers - or garbage collectors?
Linda Harrison, 16 Aug 2001

Euro con-artists named and shamed on Net

German shops and business that use the introduction of the euro as an excuse to raise prices are to be named and shamed on the Internet. The plan has been announced by Barbel Hohn, the consumer protection minister for Germany's largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia. She is angry that despite promises to the contrary, German businesses have taken advantage of confusion over the true worth of euros to up prices. It works like this: if you buy something for £4.99 normally, this is worth 7.86 euros. But a shop will charge say 7.99 euros - which is actually £5.07. This is only an increase of 1.6 per cent, but in a survey, German officials have found that prices have increased by an average of 4.4 per cent. In the same survey, of 100 goods that were checked, an incredible 86 per cent of them had increased in price when moving from marks to euros. The retailers may see it as a one-off bumper windfall, but the government is distinctly less impressed and hopes the naming and shaming campaign will cause shops to buck up their ideas. There is no law against companies raising the price in euros but eurocrats are worried that such a policy will make introducing the currency on 1 January even harder and cause widespread resentment against the new currency. Perhaps Germany should have stuck with the UK approach to the euro which is argue continually about it, produce ludicrously ambiguous statements regarding its introduction (the only way to survive politically) but never actually discuss its pros and cons in an intelligent, objective manner. We wonder how long it will be before chief execs start paying themselves in revalued euro salaries? ®
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Aug 2001

Intel backed video encryption standard is ‘fatally flawed’

A well-respected cryptographer claims he has discovered a way to break an Intel-backed format for encoding video transmissions - but is prevented by US law on speaking on the issue. Niels Ferguson believes he could be prosecuted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) so he has held off publishing his findings which suggest flaws with the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) system. Even though he lives in Holland, Ferguson fears that in the wake of the prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov that the DMCA threatens freedom of speech throughout the world. Intel has not threatened him in any way but he still fears that the motion picture industry or some other body might still prosecute him. Ferguson, who travels periodically to the States on business, told The Register that lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation advised him he might still be liable to prosecution even if he published a paper in Holland. All he is willing (or able) to say is that it would be possible to recover a master key for the encryption scheme in about two weeks. "An experienced IT person can recover the HDCP master key in about two weeks using four computers and 50 HDCP displays," said Ferguson. "Once you know the master key, you can decrypt any movie, impersonate any HDCP device, and even create new HDCP devices that will work with the 'official' ones." "This is really, really bad news for a security system," he said. HDCP encrypts video on the DVI interface, which connects digital video cameras and DVD players with digital TVs and the like, and is designed to prevent illegal copying of video contents by encrypting the signal. It is expected to become widely available in hardware due out in the first quarter of next year but it is still not too late to mitigate problems he has found with HDCP. Ferguson says the scheme is "fatally flawed" and he is not alone in his criticism. Other security researchers Scott Crosby and Kevin Irwin have gone one step further than Ferguson and published criticisms of the algorithm, and suggested ways to attack HDCP. Intel has publicly downplayed the significance of the research and said none of the reported ways of breaking the scheme have been successful. Clearly there's a need for further research. But this, as Ferguson points out, is been stymied by the DMCA. This law undermines the tradition of open analysis of encryption schemes that is needed for security. This story will run and run...® External links Censorship in action: why I don't publish my HDCP results by Niels Ferguson Video crypto standard cracked? Related Stories Sklyarov case shows business outweighs First Amendment Sklyarov freed on Bail Adobe DMCA protests spread to UK Adobe Folds! eBook security debunker arrested by Feds DoJ sticks its nose in 2600.com DeCSS appeal DeCSS arguments invoke free speech
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2001

Felten spills the SDMI beans

USENIX 10USENIX 10 It came off without a hitch. Princeton University Professor Edward Felten, who led the team of researchers which successfully cracked the SDMI challenge, delivered his group's findings at the tenth annual USENIX conference in Washington Wednesday, and was not arrested. The SDMI watermarking technologies his team examined were remarkably easy to attack, he said. If their purpose is to prevent professional pirates from copying digital media, then the schemes are a failure. If their purpose is to 'keep honest people honest', then they're ridiculously overdone. "A 'no-trespassing' sign is adequate for that," he noted. Felten added that the basic approach of using watermarks to enforce content access controls was foolish from the start, though he did say that fragile watermarks could be handy in detecting whether a file had been tampered with, so the technology isn't by any means useless. He cautioned that regulations which might punish the release of signals-processing research to accommodate the legislative convenience of a single industry could have broad, unintended consequences. Seismology, for example, depends upon such research to fine-tune its equipment and techniques, he observed. The controversy over his presentation began last year, when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent him a nastygram hinting that he could be sued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for making his findings public. He therefore canceled his plan to release the paper at the fourth annual Hiding Workshop back in April. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) saw in him a living example of speech chilled by a draconian law, and has since taken up his cause. Felten filed for a declaratory judgment in court, seeking permission to deliver his paper at USENIX unmolested. But the RIAA has since denied any intention to impede Felten's presentation, and recently asked the court to dismiss his suit because the controversy no longer exists. EFF has rebutted, arguing that the case remains relevant, especially in consideration of Dutch cryptographer Niels Ferguson's reluctance to publish proof of his claim that the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) standard for DVI is flawed. The group has recently posted a great deal of fresh material related to the suit here. ® Related Stories SDMI crack team launches preemptive suit SDMI cracks revealed
Thomas C Greene, 16 Aug 2001