6th > September > 2001 Archive

Chip sales to grow 23% in 2002, says analyst

Consumer spending, one component of the economy that has continued to grow (so far) despite the recession, will lift the semiconductor industry out of the doldrums next year. So says US-based market watcher Semico Research, which reckons 2002 will see chips sales reach $200 billion, up 23 per cent on the company's estimate of this year's figure. Much of that growth will come in the latter part of the year, with the curve flat during Q1, rising by single percentage points during Q2 and Q3, before rocketing up in Q4. In other words, the business is going to have to wait some time before it experiences that headline figure of 23 per cent growth. Of course, that leaves plenty of time for recession-induced uncertainty to creep in and for consumer spending to fall too. Semico rightly noted that consumer spending has been good this year, buoyed up by house-price inflation, low interest rates and, in the US, tax cuts. How long that will last, as job cuts bite, is open to question. Even so, the chip industry's circumstances are improving. According to Semico, inventory levels have now fallen by at least $25 billion (as of the start of Q3), and the inventory-to-sales ratio is falling, suggesting that demand at the end of the sales chain is beginning to filter down to the base suppliers. That's good news, says Semico, for indsutry players anticipating improved sales next year. And for the two beyond that. Growth will continue through 2003 and 2004, Semico said, but expect it to dip in 2005. By then, the business should be worth arounf $302 billion. ® Related Story Chip sales fell 37% in July - SIA
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

Linux smartphone heads for Europe

Samsung's Linux based smartphone will appear in Europe, although a date for the launch hasn't been set yet. The compact device, which resembles Motorola's Accompli 008 only with a colour display, is expected to ship in Korea in January. Much like the Nokia 9210, it will be bundled with a camera attachment. For now it's CDMA only. A US launch will follow early next year, we're told. That would normally mean that the rest of the developed world can safely ignore it, but sources at PalmPalm which developed the base technology on its Tynix platform, insist that top tier European terminal manufacturers are developing GSM-based products. Whether these ever see the light of day, we're wouldn't like to say. We know that Nokia has invested in Linux, and not just because of the Finnish connection, but strictly for set top boxes and webpads, and Nokia hasn't gone as far as committing to launching real retail product. In fact almost every European consumer device manufacturer has flirted with Linux. Last year PalmPalm (which you've got to love, really, as its corporate logo uses a font remarkably similar to Palm Inc's corporate logo) touted something it called a "smartphone" based on 802.11 and H.323 protocols. In other words, it was a wireless PC 'paw' with which you could make voice-over-IP phone calls, once you'd waved a dead chicken around and didn't stray more than 100 yards from your 802.11 base station. (Taking your VoIP phone and chicken with you). Still, we admire their pluck. We've seen the phone and it's quite sweet. Picture an Accompli 008 with a heavier lid, and you're pretty much there. It has a high resolution colour display, based on Trolltech's embedded Qt. The PDA functions are organized into vertical tabs (rather than horizontal tabs as on the Accompli). It looked snappy too, although the colour display looked washed out. That might have been us, though. You can find PalmPalm here, and they even include a map showing how you can get reach their HQ from the New Millenium Democratic Party Headquarters or the S-Oil Gas Station.® Related Stories Nokia calls on Linux coders for set-top box apps Nokia unveils Linux broadband wireless Web system Review - Motorola Accompli 008 The Reg Smartphone Roundup - The Verdict Is In
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Sep 2001

Kingston ADSL cap ‘will not be actively implemented ’

Kingston Communications has (finally) got in touch with El Reg to try and clarify its position on capping usage for its new ADSL service. Apparently, the 700 MB Downstream quota is not an enforced limit but an acceptable usage amount. Said Tony Nalder, marketing operations manager, Kingston Communications, in an email: "Further to your calls...I would like to clarify the position on your coverage regarding our stated daily download limit for our new Karoo RapidTime service. "The restriction stated in the technical specification for Karoo RapidTime will not be actively implemented in normal circumstances, however we have included it in our description to advise customers that we will actively monitor use of our network. "We have a responsibility to provide access to a wide and diverse community of users. In the event that we see inappropriate use or abuse of the service we will activate the download limit to protect the bandwith available to other customers. "I trust that on this basis you will correct your inaccurate coverage?" he wrote. Inaccurate coverage? What, you mean the kind of "inaccurate coverage" that leaves your customers pleading with the The Register to get involved because no one at Kingston will tell them what the heck is going on? The kind of "inaccurate coverage" that gets your customers so agitated and wound-up that they are forced to petition the company for more information? Well, if that's the case then we're only too happy to oblige. Of course, if Kingston had been bothered to speak to us when we called, we could have set the record straight there and then. Oh well. ® Related Stories Users petition telco over ADSL cap Kingston caps ADSL usage for new service
Tim Richardson, 06 Sep 2001

Rambus seeks 18-month Micron trial delay

Rambus wants its legal action against Micron to be put on ice for up to a year and a half. The case is due to come to court on 29 October, when Rambus' allegations the Micron flouted its SDRAM patents will be judged. However, the memory technology developer this week asked the presiding judge, Roderick McKelvie, to delay the case until early-to-mid 2003. Rambus has its eye on the Court of Appeal's ruling on its claims against judgements made by Federal Judge Robert Payne in the company's battle with Infineon, again over the alleged violation of its SDRAM and DDR patents. The Court of Appeal's statement on the matter isn't expected until late next year, at the earliest. Essentially, Rambus wants the Court of Appeal to overturn verdicts that it committed fraud in its dealings with the chip industry's standards-setting body, JEDEC, and that Infineon did not misuse its intellectual property. If the Court of Appeal goes any way to meet Rambus' demands, that will clearly have a major impact on the Micron case. Judge McKelvie is expected to rule on Rambus' request just a few weeks before the Micron trial is set to commence. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

Mozilla chief missing, presumed pink-slipped

UpdatedUpdated Mitchell Baker, lead of the Mozilla browser project, appears to have been laid off by employer AOL-TW. AOL acquired the rights to market the Netscape browser in 1998, and has underwritten much of the open source development work on the project, which after years of rewrites is finally, it's generally agreed, getting there. Baker announced the news in this Usenet posting, and MozillaZine reports a "major vendor" is likely to step in and pick up sponsorship of the AOL-TW work. We've been unable to get an official response from AOL/TW. It's significant in light of recent upheavals in the Sun-AOL/TW (and we're as sick of that slash as you are) partnership which saw several hundred AOL/TW staff reassigned to Sun, mostly in the iPlanet division. Whether Mozilla - which is not only a fine, upstanding browser in its own right but also the backbone of a number of fast-improving offshoots like Galeon and Stepstone [but certainly not Konqueror, as we wrote here originally] to name but two - will miss AOL is a good question. From a technology point of view the answer's probably no. If it ever did... From a marketing perspective however, AOL's distribution muscle is important in getting the browser into the hands of ordinary users: the kind of users, in other words, who unlike us, haven't grown grey hairs unzipping tarballs and resolving weird dependencies. And there are more of them then us, remember. Thanks to all Mozilla folk for putting us straight.®
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Sep 2001

NTL semantically challenged

El Reg has been sent a copy of one of ntl's marketing brochures - speed, power and control...introducing ntl broadband internet. And it makes interesting reading. Apparently, with ntl broadband internet you just "click on your browser and www.woooosh, you're away". Sounds terrific, doesn't it - especially since the cableco's "entry-level" broadband package starts as low as £14.99 a month. Less than fifteen quid a month for broadband? That's brilliant, you say. Hang on a mo, what's the catch? There is none, apparently. According to ntl, the fact that it's an "always on" "flat fee" service is enough to give it the handle of "broadband". The fact that this "entry-level" broadband service only delivers speeds of up to 64 Kbps is neither here nor there. Enterprising cynics argue that ntl may have just hit upon something here. If the Government, through its telecoms mouthpiece Oftel, were to change the definition of broadband to include all unmetered Net access, the country's broadband problem would be solved at a stroke. By simply moving the goal posts there'd be millions of "broadband" users and the Government could puff out its chest with pride saying that its policy to make Broadband Britain a centre of excellence had been achieved. Then again, if you're a bit more of a purist and reckon this "entry-level" broadband service from ntl is a flat-rate narrowband dial-up service in disguise (now you mention it, take away that false moustache and glasses...) then you might just feel a little bit misled. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Sep 2001

Intel's Q3 sales unlikely to beat Q2 – Wall Street

Intel forecast its Q3 sales will come in somewhere between $6.2 billion and $6.8 billion when it posted its Q2 fiscals on 17 July, but CFO Andy Bryant is expected by Wall Street to narrow it down to the bottom end of that range when he issues a revised sales guidance statement this evening. On the basis of the Intel internal projections we reported yesterday, analysts expectations are likely to be met. The numbers show a shallow decline in processor shipments through the July-August-September quarter. That, compounded with Intel's aggressive price cutting programme, will have a negative impact on the quarter's revenues. Last quarter, Intel posted revenues of $6.3 billion, and that's pretty much what analysts are expecting this time round. "We expect Intel to lower guidance to the lower end of the range of below the midpoint or some other way of saying 'flat','' Lehman Brothers analyst Dan Niles has told his clients. US Bancorp Piper Jaffray analyst Ashok Kumar told his clients to expect Q3 sales around Q2's $6.3 billion. However, he bases his figure on estimates that processor shipments will rise five per cent during the current quarter, to counter the revenue lost through all those price cuts. If shipments don't grow, Intel will have to revise its guidance downward. That's certainly what Martin Capital Advisors senior equity strategist Louis Kokernak believes. "It will be at the low end of guidance or a small downward revision," he told Bloomberg. "It's a solid bet to assume it's going to be negative." With Dell, for one, forecasting a weak quarter - in particular, September, traditionally the time of big, back-to-school sales - Intel may well have a job getting the five per cent unit growth Kumar mentioned. If there is a significant reduction in Intel's guidance, the company will undoubtedly be looking to Q4 to win back both sales and the support of investors. Certainly, it has high expectations of October, when its i845-led move to get the P4 into low-end boxes comes to fruition alongside the launch of Windows XP. Further price cuts on 28 October will stimulate demand further, it hopes, and everyone who didn't upgrade last Christmas will do so this time round. ® Related Stories Pentium 4 won't outsell PIII until October - Intel Chip sales fell 37% in July - SIA Intel's Desktop Roadmap
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

Toys R Us sells out Xbox pre-orders in 30 mins

Toys R Us and its online store manager, Amazon.com, yesterday claimed that they had sold all of their initial batch of Xbox consoles within 30 minutes of the units going on sale. Cue whoops and hollers of joy from Xbox buffs and Microsofties, but what does Toys R Us' bulletin really say? Not a lot, actually, since neither company will say how many units had been put up for sale. One thousand; one hundred - or just one? The exact figure makes a big difference to just how successful its pre-order programme is. Almost no one else's who's begun taking online pre-orders for the console appears to have sold out - and certainly not as quickly. Only Barnes & Noble subsidiary GameStop has managed it - and on just one bundle out of five separate packages. There's certainly an air of hyping it all up here. Toys R Us told Reuters its next pre-sale offer will kick off on 11 September. The use of the word 'next' implies a series of such offers, all undoubtedly designed to fuel demand among buyers who think they're getting something special. Toys R Us is pre-selling Xbox in a bundle of console, add-ons and software. All together, the package comes to $499, rather more than the $299 Microsoft will be asking for the console alone when it ships in the US on 8 November. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

Orange triples its profit

Orange's results were officially posted this morning after last week's accidental earnings leak. While earnings were known to have jumped 102 per cent, the main figure you'll want to know is that the mobile phone company has seen its operating profit triple to £514 million. This all comes on the back of a huge 52 per cent growth in its customer base. The latest figures we have show Orange as the leading provider in the UK with 11.9 million customers (then BT Cellnet with 10.89m, Vodafone 10.54m, One2One 7.6m, Virgin 1.0m). The company still managed to make a £314 million loss though - down from £365 million year-on-year. And it still has £3.8 billion of debt. Company CFO Graham Howe said: "Orange is showing rapid growth, improved margins and a very powerful balance sheet." The company also reiterated plans to expand abroad into new countries in the next few years. After all that though, the City wasn't over impressed and share price is actually down a tiny amount at the moment. Mind you, this is mostly to do with the 8 per cent jump it experienced following the earnings leak. ® Related Story France Telecom forced to release Orange results early
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Sep 2001

iomart losses widen

Scottish broadband provider iomart has reported increased losses for the first six months of the year despite increasing turnover by two thirds. For the six months to June 30 turnover was up 76 per cent on H1 2000 to £2.7 million. However, pre-tax loss for the same period increased from £1.7 million to £3.3 million. Earlier this year iomart sold its consumer ISP, Madasafish, for £3 million cash and purchased the ADSL subscriber base of tits-up broadband operation, On Cue, for £200,000. iomart now boasts some 2,700 ADSL business customers even though "overall market uptake for ADSL in the UK has been much less than predicted". Today, it also announced the acquisition of German unified messaging operation CANBOX for E700,000. Put together, the company believes that the transition to an Internet and messaging solutions outfit geared for business customers is set to deliver results. Said chairman Nick Kuenssberg: "We have now completed significant moves to redirect the company. "Having sold our retail ISP business Madasafish for £3 million, we have restructured and reduced staff numbers, strengthened our ADSL business with the acquisition of On-Cue. "We believe that, despite ongoing losses, the company with cash balances of £10 million to support this revised business strategy is now favourably positioned to make real progress," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Sep 2001

‘Busty blonde’ email lawyers face lawsuit

Two London lawyers face a lawsuit over an email in which one of them asked for a 'busty blonde' as a replacement for their black secretary. The case, which could be the first in the UK to establish if an email is grounds for a discrimination claim, involves an email sent hours after the woman announced her resignation. "Can we go for a real fit busty blonde this time? She can't be any more trouble and at least it would provide some entertainment!" wrote solicitor Adam Dowdney in the email, today's Independent reports. Dowdney would have got away with it if the woman hadn't accidentally read the email. She then complained to the head of personnel at law firm Charles Russell. The two lawyers are now being sued for sex and race discrimination. The duo tried to make amends to the woman over the email, writing letters of apology and offering to take the woman out to 'chat' about the incident over lunch. Dowdney called the email a 'senseless and thoughtless joke', while Charles Hopewell, the other lawyer involved - who is also a partner at the firm, described the email as 'a childish joke'. He added that he hoped it would not 'sour a good working relationship'. But the 32-year-old secretary was so distraught that her doctor had to sign her off work. The case is due to go before a tribunal next year, and Charles Russell said it would be 'vigorously defending the action'. The courts currently seem to take a dim view of such cases. Earlier this year John Crook, a recruitment manager at a UK firm, lost his case for unfair dismissal after being sacked for an email in which he called a colleague a 'great shag'. The tribunal in Bury St Edmunds decided that the comment was not fitting to someone in his position as manager. ® Related Link Independent article Related Stories Manager sacked for 'grrrreat shag' email Email smut - sent quicker than a Prescott punch Porno blonde goes to tribunal
Linda Harrison, 06 Sep 2001

Tech companies to suffer again in FTSE100 review

Yet more technology companies are to be kicked out of the FTSE100 index next week as part of the regular review. Okay, so this is a piece of anti-news* but following yesterday's total collapse of Marconi shares, it has become clear that the former giant is to be removed from the listing for the first time since the index's inception in 1984. Not only that, but as with every other review in recent times, yet more technology companies will be removed and replaced with companies from old-skool industries. Among the suspected drop-outs are Telewest, the UK's second-biggest cable company; Energis; Misys, which has been in and out the index for two years now; CMG, which does text messaging software; and Colt Telecom, a telco which fronted the local-loop battle against BT. ® * Anti-news: The increasing reliance on news agencies to write news stories about things that are about to happen as opposed to waiting for them to actually happen. This skewed approach to news enables companies feel they are leading the competition and is widely abused by PR agencies who give "exclusives" as a thankyou to favourable reporters and as a carrot to others.
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Sep 2001

Blueyonder suspends Code Red infected users

UpdatedUpdated Cable broadband outfit blueyonder is taking a tough line on dealing with the Code Red by suspending consumers found to have been infected by the worm. In a notice to customers, blueyonder states that infection of some of its customer's machines "has at times resulted in poor performance for our users" and poses a "significant risk of failure of service". Because of this the Telewest-owned outfit announced it will scan its cache log files to identify customers infected with Code Red, who will then find their service suspended in order to protect other users. "Customers found to be infected with the Code Red virus will be suspended immediately and have their accounts suspended until they have patched their machines accordingly," the notice states. The program was introduced yesterday and so far Telewest has identified 51 users who have been infected with Code Red whose machines have been "hammering Telewest's caches". These users have received an email informing them the plug has been pulled on them and telling them how to get their machines reconnected. They'll also receive a letter to the same effect. Our first instincts are to support what Telewest has done as a matter of enforcing some measure of civic hygiene in Internet use by its customers. Though some might dislike the approach, if it works, so much the good. The rider we'd put on this one is that Telewest's procedures in identifying infected machines need to be sound and the technical support it has offered helps users work through any snags. ® Update Many readers have pointed out that Telewest may have put users in a Catch 22 position by asking them to download the required patches, when their Internet service has been cut off. We got through to a Telewest spokesman today who users whose service has been suspended can get themselves reconnected by phoning up Telewest technical support. Tech support staff will open up a connection to the relevant Web sites and talk users through a procedure for fixing their systems. Even while their connection is suspended, users can pick up their email remotely via blueyonder's Webmail interface or via remote access from another ISP or mail service. Related Stories Code Red busting code gets cool reception Qwest tries to worm its way off hook for Code Red outages MS internal network whacked by Code Red Code Red and the Cisco Side Effect Son of Code Red is born Internet survives Code Red FBI blows Code Red all-clear External Links CERT advisory with links to Microsoft's patches
John Leyden, 06 Sep 2001

VIA to sample successor to C3 next quarter

VIA will sample the next generation of its x86-compatible C3 processor, codenamed Nehemiah and expected to ship as the C4, next quarter. The chip, which the Taiwanese chipset maker announced earlier this year, is designed to run at up to 1.3GHz. Fabbed at 0.13 micron, the part contains 128KB of L1 cache and 256KB of L2. Nehemiah operates over a 133MHz frontside bus. The C4's is based on a new core based around a 17-stage instruction pipeline, an increase on the C3's 12-stage pipeline, done to achieve the higher clock speed. Meanwhile, VIA hasn't had much success getting C3 into system in the West but, according to a DigiTimes report, it hasn't done at all badly targeting low-end PC makers with an eye on the Chinese market. Bundling the chip with a Socket 370 mobo from one VIA's board partners seems to have done the trick, getting C3 into both desktops and notebooks destined for China. ® Related Stories VIA C4 to hit 2GHz during 2H 2002 VIA C3 roadmap extended to 1.2GHz+
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

Atlas Flyer 3400

ReviewReview The Atlas Flyer lives up to its name, swooping in to beat all rivals with a blistering WorldBench score and a ridiculously low price tag. It comes with a 1GHz Pentium III flip-chip processor twinned with 256MB of RAM. However, its WorldBench score of 161 beats all rivals. Even better, it costs a reasonable £1000. The Atlas Flyer 3400 sports a 14.1in TFT screen, which is fine, if not outstanding. There's a 20GB hard drive for storage, while modem and network facilities are built in. One difference which might help to explain the Flyer's stunning WorldBench performance is that it runs Windows 2000 Pro, as opposed to Windows 98 or Me. There's a one-year collect-and-return warranty, and it comes with a copy of Lotus SmartSuite Millennium. But it's not these extras that make the Atlas a winner - it owes its Best Buy award to the fantastic value for money it offers. ® Info Price: £1000 Contact: 020 8532 6111 Website: www.atlasplc.com Specs Warranty: 1-year collect & return to base Processor type: Intel Pentium III flip-chip Clock speed: 1GHz RAM: 256MB Hard disk capacity: 20GB Modem: 56Kbps Dimensions: 315x256x39mm Weight: 2.9kg Screen size/type: 14.1in/TFT Maximum resolution: 1024x768 Graphics card: Sis 630/730 All details correct at time of publication Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved
PC Advisor, 06 Sep 2001

Wanadoo losses widen

Wanadoo - the French Internet outfit which also owns Freeserve - reported increased losses today despite improved revenues for the first six months of the year. It made a Net loss of E102 million in H1 2001,compared to E67 million during the same period last year. Total revenues increased to E689 million from E456 million. Some 45 per cent of revenues came from Internet access, portals, e-merchant and business services - up from 28 per cent during H1 last year, the company said. The rest came from its directories and business services operations. In France, earnings before interest, tax etc (EBITDA) was E14 million compared to a loss of E29 million at the end of June 2000 thanks chiefly to improved profits in its Net access business. EBITDA losses at Wanadoo's international operations - Freeserve in the UK and Spain's Indice Multimedia - more than doubled from E29 million in H1 2000 to E68 million for H1 2001. In a statement Nicolas Dufourcq, Chairman and CEO of Wanadoo, said: "Wanadoo is now one of the most complete and solid Internet companies in Europe. "Our results for the first half of 2001 confirm our position as a leading Internet media and services company, reflected in robust revenue growth. "The profitable economic model for Internet access has clearly been confirmed by significantly lower acquisition and network costs, coupled with an increase in average revenue per user. "We are also reaffirming our objective of achieving positive EBITDA in the fourth quarter of 2002," he said. Wanadoo says it has five million punters and hopes to top ten million in 2003. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Sep 2001

NASA hacker ‘rolex’ jailed for four months

A hacker has received a four month prison sentence for breaking into servers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Associated Press reports that Raymond Torricelli, 20, from New York, was also asked to pay a fine of $4,400 to the space agency after pleading guilty to the 1998 crime. At the time of his arrest, we reported that Torricelli was accused of breaking into two computer systems owned by NASA's JPL in order send spam on behalf of pornographic Web sites. Torricelli, whose hacker alias was 'rolex', even moderated the hacker channel "#conflict" using the JPL labs systems, according to the original complaint. The prolific hacker was suspected of breaking into 800 other computers (including those of Georgia Southern and San Jose State Universities) and stealing credit card details to make an estimated $10,000 worth of unauthorised purchases. It's not the first time someone has gone to jail for hacking into the space agency's servers, which have historically been a popular target for hackers. The courts are taking a tough line on such s'kidies; hack NASA and go to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. ® Related Stories NASA hacker 'rolex' nabbed Bedroom NASA hacker set to bite pillow in choky (Florida 16 year old) Teen charged with hacking into NASA research centre (18 year old from New Mexico) Teen hacker charged with NASA attacks (this one was a 15 year-old from Michigan)
John Leyden, 06 Sep 2001

Pegasus Opera sales beating forecasts

Systems Union, which supplies mid-range accountancy software systems, today said it had managed to drag itself back into the black. The company posted a pre-tax profit of £679,000 (seven pence per share) for the six months ended 30 June 2001, compared to losses of £96.5 million (£1.15 loss per share) for the same period the previous year. EBITA from operations was £1.5 million, up from a first half loss of £7.5 million in 2000. Sales at the UK outfit, which owns the SunSystems and Pegasus Software brands, grew to £36.8 million, from £15.7 million. The company said Pegasus had hit revenue and profit targets for the six months, and that sales of its Opera range were ahead of forecast. Bob Morton, Systems Union chairman, described current trading as 'encouraging', due to major orders such as contracts with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. He said further contracts were due to be finalised later in 2001. "The Board believes that the progress made in the first six months will continue into the second half of the year," added Morton. Related Link Systems Union statement Related Stories Systems Union touts reverse profit warning Systems Union losses soar Systems Union launches SunSystems 5
Linda Harrison, 06 Sep 2001

Nvidia confirms September nForce ship-date

Nvidia will ship nForce this month, allowing mobo makers to ship boards based on the Athlon chipset by "the end of September", according to a company spokesman. Abit, Asustek, Gigabyte and MSI will all be producing nForce-based boards, the spokesman (cited by ExtremeTech) added. All of which ties in nicely with the recent suggestions of a September ship-date for the Abit, Asustek, Gigabyte boards published over at Tom's Hardware. There's still no official word on the presence of Dell among that story's list of nForce-supporting PC vendors, but we hear that the company is indeed working on an nForce-based box - but one based on the Pentium III, not the Athlon. nForce is derived from the chipset Nvidia designed for Microsoft's Xbox console, which is powered by a PIII. That makes a PIII-based nForce a possibility, but it's certainly not a part the Nvidia itself has ever mentioned. Other suggestions, that Nvidia is a lot closer to licensing the Pentium 4 bus, muddy the waters further. Surely, Dell would prefer to use a P4 in its desktops, rather than a PIII? Meanwhile, we still can't help feeling the arrival of nForce and AMD's next generation of desktop Athlon CPUs, based on the Palomino core, can't be a coincidence. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Sep 2001

DoJ abandons MS split, but wants court to check WinXP etc

The US Department of Justice won't be asking for Microsoft's break-up any more, nor will it be coming back for another go at the tying of IE to Windows, which was one of the matters sent back to the district court by the appeals court for further consideration. The DoJ will however be pressing for "prompt, effective and certain" relief over the large pile of sins Microsoft was deemed guilty of, and it also wants to lob "developments in the industry since the trial concluded" into the equation. So the apparent escape from break-up (the judge of course could still have different ideas) has several nasty edges to it from Microsoft's point of view. In a statement today the DoJ makes it clear that it's abandoning break-up and the tying issues in the interest of speed. It could also have said that break-up would have been messy, unworkable and difficult to get through the courts. And it could have said that, given the difficulties involved in putting Humpty Netscape back together again, there's really not a lot of mileage in IE tying these days. It didn't, naturally. The DoJ is largely going for the quicker, easier and probably more effective shot. The appeals court spiked Judge Jackson's remedies and bounced a couple of his conclusions, but in large part agreed with him that Microsoft was seriously guilty of a multitude of antitrust offences and sundry monopolisations. If Microsoft cannot get this overturned, and the DoJ doesn't give it the opportunity to delay by pursuing the harder and more complicated matters, then conduct remedies could be imposed relatively quickly. The DoJ itself says it is seeking "an order that is modeled after the interim conduct-related provisions of the Final Judgment previously ordered in the case." Aside from wanting a period of "expedited discovery" to cover what Microsoft's been up to since the trial (including, of course, WinXP), the DoJ wants the court to evaluate "whether additional conduct-related provisions are necessary, especially in the absence of a break-up." This might be upping the ante, it might be a negotiating ploy with the possibility of an agreed settlement in mind, or it might be a bit of both. ®
John Lettice, 06 Sep 2001

Man executed for using the Net

A 22-year-old unemployed man has been executed for murdering his foster mother after she chastised him for using the Internet too much. Zhao Jieqi, who lived in east China's Zhejiang Province, stole 2900 Yuan (£240) from his foster mother so he could fund his online activities at cybercafes. When she found out about the money she gave him a "good dressing down", according to the Xinhua News Agency. It was then that Zhao decided to poison his foster mother. According to the report, she died a long and painful death. Afterwards, Zhao hid her body and told friends she had moved out of town to work as a housemaid. Zhao's father found his wife's body six weeks later hidden in a chest of drawers. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Sep 2001

EU releases Echelon spying report

The report by the European Union into the Echelon spying network, released yesterday, has concluded that not only does the network exist but that it can prove its existence. It also calls on the UK to pull out of the system - jointly run by the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia - to prove its commitment to the EU. The huge 142-page report (with another 54 pages in annexes) is available here, but make sure you put enough paper in the printer first. The report criticises the UK for its part in Echelon and asks it to explain itself. It also calls for a new treaty to be drawn up which the US, Australia and New Zealand are forced to sign. The treaty basically says no one is going to do anything naughty such as industrial espionage. The report also recommends that organisations encrypt emails as a matter of course and hopes that encryption will become the norm. It encourages the adoption and enhancement of open-source software for the job. We haven't had time to go through it all yet, but the basic aspects of it are as follows: Why the committee was set up - because Duncan Campbell told them what the US, UK etc was up to, namely spying on everything the EU did What is espionage, and such stuff What you need to set up such a spying network (includes details of other EU countries' inferior spying systems) Clues to Echelon's existence (this is quite interesting) What information Echelon can be expected to get and where its listening posts are Are they other systems like Echelon in existence? France - theoretically; Russia - theoretically; others - no. Whether Echelon is completely legal - No, it's not What everyone can do against such a spying network - use your noddle and encrypt your emails The main recommendations made in the report are: A body should be set up to ensure that the rights of European nations are not compromised That the USA signs up to an agreement not to overstep the boundaries of spying That all EU member states review their own spying laws and repeal any that don't fit in with human rights legislation That all EU countries promise not to engage in industrial espionage and that the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand sign up to it That the UK explain its role in Echelon That the UK and Germany make the US sign up to the new treaty as a pre-condition of installing any more US spying equipment on its territory That companies and individuals use encryption software as a matter of course for sensitive information and that the EU supports "user-friendly open-source encryption software". The EU invests in the creation of new technologies for encryption and decryption That EU members talk to each other more regarding telecoms surveillance and an international congress be held to discuss such matters While the report doesn't hold back, it's all a matter of politics how seriously the recommendations are taken and how much force is put behind them. There is no way in hell that the UK is going to rescind its relationship with the US, or get it to sign up to an EU-created treaty. However, the report may be used to embarrass the UK. Especially since other countries, in particular France, are really annoyed that their systems aren't as good. What the report has done is raised awareness of the problem and by strongly encouraging the use and investment in encryption software, it is liable to make Echelon's job a thousand times harder. More on all this later. ® Related Links A link to the report News of the Echelon report European Parliament Temporary Committee on the Echelon Interception System Echelon FAQ Related Stories Europe should tackle home-grown Echelons, says MEP Euro Parliament calls Echelon a paper tiger US expands Echelon spying in UK What are those words that trigger Echelon? An Outlook worm to jam NSA's Echelon CIA patching Echelon shortcomings French Echelon report says Europe should lock out US snoops Euro Parliament to investigate Echelon
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Sep 2001

NHS email system up the spout

The NHS' email system has been up the spout since Saturday, preventing thousands of doctors, nurses and management from communicating everyday matters and causing extensive housekeeping delays. The official explanation is that a power surge at a BT datacentre knocked out the main NHS email servers. The backup system did kick in but was unable to deal with the huge backlog of traffic and this has caused extensive delays in the sending and receiving of emails. The situation has been compounded by the NHS' approach to email communication: any email sent from local hospitals around the country have first to go through the NHSNet intranet. While this system has been installed to ensure control and security in the health service, the complexity of it has left the vast majority of users - including local IT departments - unaware of what is going on. The chain of command is also unclear, exacerbating the problem. Many hospital sysadmins have been onto their telecoms providers to sort out the fault. BT has confirmed that there was a datacentre problem at the weekend but that it was thought to be under control. According to an NHS spokeswoman, BT and Syntegra are currently working to get the servers up as well as improve the inadequate backup system. However while the problem is officially confined to sending emails out from NHSNet to the wider Internet, with incoming emails unaffected, we have discovered that incoming email is as nearly as badly affected with doctors, management and IT staff receiving just one or two emails a day for the past week, as opposed to the more usual 40 a day. People that have sent emails to NHS staff (including ourselves) have found them returned after 24 hours of inaction. The latest news is that the system will be up and running again by Friday lunchtime. An NHS spokeswoman apologised for the disruption and promised it would be put right as soon as possible. You would have to question the intelligence of running the entire NHSNet from a group of servers (at least we hope it was a group) located in one place. Also, since the backup appears to have failed completely, there would appear to have been a major error by the project group put together to build it. Some important questions will have to be asked. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Sep 2001