20th > September > 2001 Archive

USA is playing into bin Laden's hands

AnalysisAnalysis There are a number of new tragedies the USA may invite in its response to last week's suicide hijackings in New York and Washington, the most ironic of which would be to give Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants. The response now has a name. It's being called 'Operation Infinite Justice'. It promises to be a broad-based, long-term crusade against terrorism worldwide. The codename suggests both religious fervor and an eternal struggle, as if bin Laden himself had picked it. As I pointed out in a recent rant, among the likely negative consequences are getting inextricably stuck in an endless, ineffective crusade against world terrorism ('mission creep' as it was called in the Vietnam-era), and igniting conflicts throughout the Islamic world. A number of readers took issue with my analogy between Afghanistan and Vietnam, but I maintain it's a fair one. It won't be superpower vs superpower by proxy as it was back then, but the Taliban, if attacked, will receive a great deal of cash and weapons through back channels. Remember, Afghanistan has a well-developed smuggling infrastructure due to heavy trafficking in opium. Assistance to the Taliban may come from sympathetic factions in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and others. The jihad support-network exists, possesses significant economic and military resources, and is eager to help. Jihad Let's examine what effect the proposed US crusade might have on existing internal conflicts within the Islamic world. Bin Laden, it's clear to me, desperately desires a holy war. He despises the West and all Islamic states with ties to the West. He denounces his homeland of Saudi Arabia as a puppet regime and a disgrace to Islam. Nothing would give him greater satisfaction than to see the entire region consumed in the flames of religious righteousness against the West and against West-leaning Muslim factions and governments. Bin Laden, compelled by what can only be described as a messiah complex, is straining to bring this all to a head. He would proudly lead Muslim extremists on a catastrophic jihad against these 'corrupt' states, these collaborators with the West. If he is the one responsible for last week's suicide attacks, then we can be sure his ultimate goal was to bring the US and her allies to his doorstep in order to exploit the conflicts this will create between Islamic states, and within them as well. Look for a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions if the Bush administration really means what it says, and look for Islamic extremists to infiltrate the refugee camps soon to be blossoming all over the region. Look for rival nations to exploit accusations of supporting terrorism as a pretext to do battle. Look for increasing intra-national conflicts, too -- for growing factionalism, and for civil wars. Nukes? Let's consider just one of many potential flash points: Pakistan. Its military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, has already taken to the airwaves and come out in favor of assisting the US, partly to avoid interference from India, and partly to avoid attack by the West. He urged his people to consider that, given these circumstances, supporting the Taliban would only be self-destructive. He's probably right; but a large number of Pakistanis will still be vehemently opposed to collaborating with infidels. There is considerable grassroots support for the Taliban throughout Pakistan -- and if some of those supporters are caught smuggling arms or cash to Afghanistan, how will Musharraf respond? The collision of internal and external pressures on his government may be too much to bear. A Pakistani civil war is a real possibility. And how might India exploit that? Remember that Pakistan is a nuclear power, and that India would very much like to change that. Could a civil war in Pakistan give the Indians a pretext to get involved? You bet it could; they'll cry national interest -- 'nukes may fall into the hands of Islamic extremists' -- and they'll make a preemptive strike. Possibly even a nuclear one if things really get out of hand. And who, unique among the world's occupants, would find that a satisfying development? Osama bin Laden, that's who. And if India uses, or seriously threatens to use, nukes, what will China do? You see where this could lead, and thus far we've followed only a single thread of 'what's the worst that could happen'. "Intelligence" The US has long been relying on intelligence from allies in the Middle East. These include such overtly self-interested states as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudis are especially eager to paint bin Laden as the world's chief Satanic force. He's been a painful thorn in their sides for decades. After the bombing of the Khobar Towers in 1996, the Saudi government extracted confessions from the perpetrators, forced them to announce on national television that Osama bin Laden was their mastermind and patron, and then executed each one before US investigators could question them. Trust us, the Saudis said. We know who your monster is. Israel, which greatly prefers an Arab Satan, has fingered Saddam Hussein. Israeli intelligence has leaked two names, Imad Mughniyeh and Ayman Al Zawahiri, both with ties to Iraq. Trust us, they're saying. We know who your monster is. Over the next several months, US agencies will be drowning in military intelligence cheerfully proffered by governments and organizations wishing to exploit American naïveté in order to advance their own political and religious agendas. Sorting through this vast slush pile of self-serving propaganda for the nuggets of truth buried within will be the greatest initial challenge the US faces. Friendly advice Hollywood has done a stunning job of re-writing American military history along impossibly heroic -- even messianic -- lines. The historic record tells a vastly different story. From blundering into a mere civil war in Korea and getting 35,000 Americans killed in exchange for absolutely nothing (and courting a full-scale war with China); to getting sucked into a mere civil war in Vietnam and losing more than 50,000 for absolutely nothing (and courting a full-scale war with Russia); to Desert Storm which outraged Muslim conservatives and yet left the enemy government in power (if you're going to break the eggs, then make the damned omelet); to the intervention in Kosovo which might end up destabilizing the Balkans' shaky governments (or not -- we may yet get away with that one). There were some minor interventions worth recalling: the Bay of Pigs; Carter's rescue mission in Iran; Reagan's bombing in Libya; the Contra debacle; Grenada (what the hell was that?); Somalia, where we went from a welcome police force guarding food distribution to a despised, high-handed interventionist overnight; capturing Noriega, which seems so far to have been a success; Haiti, which also seems to have gone fairly well; and the bombing in the Sudan, which appears to have been a terrible blunder based, Clinton-administration security advisor Sandy Berger assured us, on incontrovertible intelligence (undoubtedly proffered from outside). Much of what went wrong in all these cases is the result, in part, of the US accepting intelligence from so-called allies with conflicting interests. The US was of course also powerfully influenced by political and international pressures in each instance. Those powerful influences are now in effect, and can't be called back. But the enduring, and I have to confess, endearing, American tendency to trust allies and credit them with being more than mere opportunists has got to be overcome. Europe by and large, Russia, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India -- all have indicated support for a comprehensive assault on terrorist organizations and their state sponsors, in which the USA will do most of the heavy lifting and take most of the blame if it all goes horribly wrong. But all have their own particular interests in this game, which may or may not correspond to American interests, and, more importantly, to world interests, chief among which has got to be a reduction, not an escalation, of international and intra-national violence. If history is any guide, we can rate the possibility of the US being led into a military and political quagmire as quite high. KISS For that reason I believe the US response should be greatly narrowed, and kept as close to a law-enforcement operation as possible. The Bush administration should stop deluding itself, and us, by claiming to be able to eradicate terrorism. Instead, keep it simple. Get proof of who's guilty firsthand; set clear, realistic objectives and a clear exit strategy. This 'war on terrorism' concept now coming out of Washington smacks of endless meddling abroad and a permanent crippling of civil liberties. This is in no one's interest. Riding on the powerful rhetoric of the slaughter of innocents, the Bush administration now talks comfortably about prosecuting war upon a faceless, hidden enemy dispersed throughout the world. Besides the obvious consequence of further alienating the USA from the international mainstream, I see in America's future a pork-lined securocratic rat hole from which we might never emerge. Instead, let's do a thorough investigation, use diplomatic pressure wherever possible and military intervention only insofar as it's necessary, and bring those responsible to justice Nuremberg-style. Otherwise, we play right into Osama bin Laden's hands. If we allow the Bush administration to persuade us that it actually can, as it says, 'rid the world of terrorism', we may ignite a catastrophic religious war which could leave vast swaths of the Middle East or southern Asia in conditions similar to those characterizing Afghanistan today. To bin Laden, such an outcome would be a sweet victory. I for one would sooner disappoint him. ® Assault on America: full coverage
Thomas C Greene, 20 Sep 2001

WinXP faces muted launch, slow sales?

Microsoft is planning to go ahead with the launch of Windows XP in New York on October 25th, but will be discussing the matter with the mayor and city officials first, company CEO Steve Ballmer said at a software industry lunch in Chicago yesterday. The company had intended the launch to be the usual raucous, overblown tub-thumping spectacle, but subsequent to last week's events a far more sober event will be appropriate. Nor does Ballmer have a great deal of choice. Cancelling or moving the event (unless New York requests this) would look like giving in, and mounting the standard hype-fest would be tasteless in the extreme, and would further diminish Microsoft's (already much reduced) chances of triggering a consumer-led XP feeding frenzy. PC manufacturers are already taking orders for XP machines, and the first of these will roll out next week. The much hoped for boost to sales is however unlikely to happen. Analysts are now shaking their heads, and wisely intoning that "70 per cent" of consumers would need to upgrade their machines in order to run XP. But the upgrade cost factor is likely to be a lot more important in the corporate market. Consumers tend not to buy operating systems independently anyway, so under current circumstances they'll consider XP, consider the cost of a whole new machine running it, then put off buying it. So no consumer boom. Business customers, however, have a more complicated decision to make, thanks to Microsoft's new 'shotgun upgrade' licensing model, due to be introduced at the beginning of next month. The bottom line of this model is that it makes financial sense, as regards the cost of Microsoft software, for companies to move over to newer Microsoft products sooner rather than later, because if they delay the entry cost will be substantially higher. All other things being equal, a goodly number of companies might have gone for this, howling long and loud as they did so. But the total cost for business isn't just the price of the software - many of the machines they currently have deployed won't be rated for XP either. Going for the upgrade would therefore mean a major hit on the hardware budget as well, and given the current uncertain climate, it seems doubtful that businesses will be willing or able to swallow this. It might, in a perverted sort of way, make fiscal sense to buy into the new Microsoft licences then not deploy the software; but actually businesses have been doing this for a while, in the sense that - say - they've been known to buy a stack of PCs with Win9x preinstalled and then shove NT onto them instead. One upside for Microsoft is the likelihood that, although its early revenues from XP will be lower than it might have hoped, businesses' reluctance to invest will mute their inclination to defect from the Windows camp. It'd take a very brave IT director to propose rolling out a company-wide non-MS strategy under current circumstances; the vast majority will no doubt be sticking with mother, for the moment. ®
John Lettice, 20 Sep 2001

Nimda worm tails off

The spread of Nimda, the hybrid worm that affects both email users and Web sites, appears to be subsiding. But the effects of the most sophisticated virus yet unleashed are still been felt across the Internet. Nimda (Admin spelled backwards) exhibits many of the traits of the Code Red worm combined with the email- spreading characteristics that make viruses like the Love Bug and SirCam such a pain. The worm threatens Microsoft Internet Information Services Web servers and individual users running Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express on any Windows platform. A computer can become infected through a variety of means ranging from simply viewing an infected web page using a browser with no security enabled, to opening a malicious email attachment. It can also spread via network shares. Infected email arrives with an attachment - readme.exe, which is not always visible and contains a randomly generated subject line and no body message. The worm uses its own SMTP engine to email itself out to all the addresses it collects by searching the user's incoming and outgoing email boxes. The worm targets vulnerable IIS Web servers, using the Universal Web Traversal exploit, which is similar to the flaw used by the Code Red worm. When users visit a compromised Web site, the server will run a script attempting to download an Outlook file, which contains Nimda. Nimda also has various side effects, such as increasing network traffic while searching for machines to infect, which may cause network bandwidth problems, particularly for those with low-speed connections. Numerous Register readers have reported Nimda-generated scanning activity that is an order of magnitude greater that created by the Code Red worm. Paul Rogers, a network security analyst at MIS Corporate Defence, said that networks attached to infected machines can become flooded with traffic and that this was a more serious than any noticeable slowdown to the Internet as a whole. Rogers said the worm can create backdoors into systems but the exact effect of the worm was unclear because, as an exe file, it was more difficult to analyse the effect of its payload. This view is backed up by Symantec, which believes that the worm is a file infector that overwrites .Exe files. It creates guest account with administrator privileges and creates open shares on an infected system. Nasty. Perhaps the only positive news comes from MessageLabs, a managed service provider which scans its customers email for viruses, which reports that spread of Nimda has subsided. at the time of writing today, Messagelabs has blocked 383 copies of Nimda, down on the comparable period yesterday. Symantec advises number of steps to block the virus, including updating virus definitions, updating IIS Web Server and client software against security vulnerabilities and filtering emails containing a "readme.exe" attachment. These are explained in much more detail here. Perhaps the best advice is the simplest though: don't open suspicious emails, bin them instead. ® External links FBI advisory on Nimda with links to patches and more information Related Stories Teenage Mutant Nimda email rides the Code Red worm Code Blue targets Red China Code Red busting code gets cool reception Son of Code Red is born Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug SirCam tops Virus charts
John Leyden, 20 Sep 2001
Cat 5 cable

Compaq cluster makes Top 10 benchmark

A Compaq Proliant server cluster is capable of running up a billion transactions a day - apparently a first in TPC-C (Transaction Processing Council) validated benchmark. In real life, this is equivalent to the requirements of "more than triple the transactions handled daily, worldwide, by a large consumer credit card payment processing system", Q helpfully points out. Compaq bases this claim on the TPC-C benchmark performance of a 32-node cluster of ProLiant DL760 servers. The multi-headed beast clocked up 709,220.08 transactions per minute (tpmC) at a cost of $14.96 per tpmC. Scale this up and you get the one billion transactions a day figure. Each server in the cluster was equipped with eight 900MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, running Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition. According to Compaq, the performance places its server rig in the top 10 list of clustered TPC-C benchmarks compiled by the Transaction Processing Council'sTop Ten list of clustered TPC-C benchmarks. Related Link More on Compaq server benchmarks
Drew Cullen, 20 Sep 2001

3Com takes $19m hit on stuffed Euro inventories

3Com is canning 1,000 more staffers than it thought it would when it launched its restructuring plans last year. So its Q1 losses have quadrupled but the cost cutting is going well. The total job cull is going to be 6,000 since November 2000, half of its workforce. For the quarter ended 31 August 3Com said its loss widened to $132 million, excluding one off charges, from a pro forma loss of $41.3 million in the quarter a year earlier. Including job cutting and other restructuring charges - like leaving the fledgling Internet appliance business and the consumer broadband-modem business, and taking a $19 million hit on European inventory problems - the loss was $232.4 million compared with $59.2 million a year earlier. 3Com Q1 sales fell to $390 million - they'd been $468 million in the previous quarter and $933.7 million in Q1 a year earlier. Bruce Claflin, 3Com presidente and CEO, said: "3Com made solid progress during the first quarter of its fiscal year. It finished ahead of plan for expense reductions and cash. 3Com demonstrated meaningful margin improvement, and while revenue was below plan, there were some encouraging signs." 3COM's CommWorks, the unit that targets the telecom sector matched the previous quarter by generating $59.4 million dollars in revenue. The Business Networks Company, which serves the enterprise market, generated $195 million of revenue. This missed internal targets but the stackable product line grew 18% sequentially, led by interest in recently announced Gigabit Ethernet products. 3Com's business connectivity company, which sells access products such as PC Cards and NICs to PC OEMs and enterprise customers, suffered because of reduced average selling prices, and inventory issues. In the past quarter 3Com reduced the unit's channel inventories by approximately $25 million, most of which was in Europe, and also took extraordinary charges of close to $19 million associated with the elimination of surplus inventories. ®
Robert Blincoe, 20 Sep 2001

Intel kills 2GHz server-oriented Xeon

UpdatedUpdated Intel has pulled the plug on its dual-processor server-oriented 2GHz Xeon chip, after last month delaying its release for what the company described at the time as extra validation work. Instead, the chip giant will focus its efforts on the chip's successor, the 0.13 micron die-shrink part, codenamed Prestonia but which will be marketed as a Xeon processor. Prestonia is expected to launch early next year at 2.2GHz. "After consulting with our customers, we decided to forgo the introduction of the current dual-processor server processor," an Intel US spokesman told EE Times. "It didn't make sense for our customers to validate and qualify two platforms at the same time." The decision to pull the processor and the motive behind it were confirmed today by an Intel UK representative. He stressed that the move is a positive one, allowing the company effectively to offer a faster chip with more cache despite effectively delaying the part by a quarter. The two-way Prestonia will be released early on during Q1 2002, he added, which matches the schedule laid down in the most recent server roadmaps we've seen. He also confirmed that Prestonia will get a new chipset, codenamed Plumas. And his US counterpart said that the four- and eight-way Xeon, codenamed Galatin, will ship toward the end of Q2 2002 - again as per our roadmap. Four- and eight-way versions of Foster are scheduled to ship during Q4. Both parts add between 512KB and 1MB of on-die L3 cache to the 256KB of on-die L2. As yet, it's not clear whether these chips have been canned too, but since the spokesman cited by EE Times made such a point of discussing Galatin, these chips' successor, we suspect they have. ® Related Stories Intel delays MP Xeon Dell offers 2GHz Xeon workstations Dell to launch Intel's 2GHz Xeon any day now
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Security firm caught out by Nimda

Here's an embarrassing one, security firm Alternative Computer Technology appears to have got infected with the Nimda virus which not only infects Windows PCs but also sticks itself on Web servers, so some browsers pick it up automatically when they visit an infected site. As a Web security firm though, you'd expect ACT to know better. Last time we looked, a file of exactly the same file size as the virus could be located at www.altcomp.com/readme.eml. We don't suggest downloading it. Also, according to some reports Nimda is the most sophisticated worm yet - mostly because it combines a whole range of other worm characteristics. ® Related Stories Nimda worm tails off Teenage Mutant Nimda email rides the Code Red worm
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

Eidos revenues down, losses up but optimistic

Computer games developer Eidos has announced another set of disappointing quarterly results but reckons that good times are just ahead. Revenues fell 27 per cent year-on-year to £12.2 million but pre-tax losses narrowed from £22.3 million to £15.4million. The company also managed to improve its margins by 12 per cent so losses before interest, tax etc fell from £17.7 million to £10.6 million. Ignore all that though, says Eidos, because it is seeing signs of an upturn in the market, particularly in the US. Maybe it is, or perhaps it's the boy crying wolf again. Either way, Eidos has to say this not only because its results have been poor again but because it has a whole range of new titles coming out this quarter. These include Commandos 2, Who wants to be a millionaire 2, Championship Manager for the 2001/2 season, Soul Reaver II (what do you mean it looks like the company has no fresh ideas?) plus (aha!) Project Eden and Mad Dash. Eidos' share price has been up and down like a tart's knickers over the last year (check out chart below (pinched from etrade.co.uk)). The news today saw it rise initially by 3p (1.5 per cent) but now it's gone down by nearly 2p. Of course, no corporate statement would come complete without mention of the terrorist attacks. Eidos seems to think they may affect worldwide consumer confidence. Seems somewhat unlikely. Maybe Eidos is just preparing us for the next set of poor results. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

VIA tries to stop P4 sales

VIA has coughed up more details about the patent infringement action it's taking against Intel in retaliation for the chip giant's own allegations that VIA has violated Intel intellectual property. It wants the chip giant to not only to cease the sale of the P4, but pay hefty damages to both VIA and its subsidiary Centaur. VIA isn't saying how much money it wants the court to award it. VIA's countersuit, filed with the Federal District Court in Austin, Texas, claims the Intel's Pentium 4 processor illegally uses technology protected by VIA's patent number 6,253,311, which covers an "Instruction set for bi-directional conversion and transfer of integer and floating point data". The patent is actually owned by VIA subsidiary Centaur, which it bought in 1999 in order to acquire its IDT WinChip x86-compatible processor. Centaur's IDT division is now VIA's main processor development operation. The patent was filed back in 1996, but was finally granted on 26 June this year. Essentially, it covers the ability to swap integer and floating-point data between on-chip registers designed to hold those number formats, translating and reformatting the data as they're moved. The patent also covers processor instructions used to control this process. The P4 does all of the above, VIA claims. ® Related Stories VIA sues Intel, claims ownership of Pentium 4 patents Intel sues VIA over chipset upset Related Link Details of patent 6,253,311
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Ecommerce heats up in August

Ecommerce activity in the UK continued to grow during August in spite of the continued gloomy economic outlook. According to the latest stats from NetValue, the number of secure connections on ecommerce Web sites - an indication that trading is taking place - jumped from 4.41 million in May to 4.96 million in August. The survey also found that just under half of UK visitors to an ecommerce site made a secure connection in August, making the UK the eshopping capital of Europe. In France, four out of ten Net users made a secure connection. In Spain and Germany, three out of ten Net users who visited an ecommerce site went on to make a secure connection. In the UK, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com were the top two ecommerce domains, attracting 2.8 million unique visitors between them, followed by online supermarket, Tesco.com, with 1.1 million visitors. Yesterday, a report by global lobby group, Consumers International, found that online consumers still can't shop with confidence and that too many etailers are ripping off punters. ® Related Story Online shoppers are getting ripped off
Tim Richardson, 20 Sep 2001

Vodafone seizes control of Japan Telecom for £1.8 billion

Vodafone has increased its bid for world domination by paying £1.8 billion for a controlling stake in Japan Telecom and its J-Phone mobile subsidiary. The money has got it an extra 21.7 per cent in the company (that's a 29 per cent premium on the shares) - providing the all-important 66.7 per cent stake, which means it can hire and fire directors. Vodafone has made no secret of its intention to take over at Japan Telecom since it bought BT's 20 per cent stake in Japan Telecom and J-Phone for £3 billion back in May. That deal gave Vodafone 45 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. At the end of August, it managed to install its own man, Darryl Green, as president of J-Phone. And now, just as it did in France and Spain, it has managed to force its way into control of a minor player in the market. J-Phone, which last we heard was second in the Japanese market with 16 per cent share (compared to DoCoMo's 60 per cent) but may now have slipped to third, will most likely change its name to Vodafone. Vodafone has invested £10 billion already in Japan and is known to be annoyed that J-Phone has failed to compete with DoCoMo. The £1.8 billion paid is a fair price and what people expected. However, shareholders - which have seen Vodafone's share price consistently fall over the last year thanks to several huge takeovers - may not be so chuffed. Vodafone is now the world's biggest mobile phone company and gaining control of Japan Telecom is no doubt a good plan, but many more big purchases may see people's patience run out. Japan Telecom is not in the best state either. Just prior to the share announcement, the company gave a profits warning, lowering expected profits from £87 million to £58 million for the year. Pre-tax profit estimate stayed the same at £463 million. Japan Telecom's share price has gone up 8 per cent; Vodafone's fell 3 per cent but have since recovered to rise a tiny 0.3 per cent. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

VIA cans 800MHz C3

In a bid for a little publicity for the chip, big in China but not too popular throughout the rest of the PC using world, VIA is offering its 800MHz C3 in a "special edition" metal can aimed at individuals building their own PC or upgrading an existing processor. The 'Cool Chip in a Can' edition will be sold initially in Japan and later through the rest of the world, where it will become the latest in a long line of silly packaging designed to tickle the fancy of consumers. Our particular favourite is the original version of graphics application Painter, which shipped in a... er... paint can. VIA's tin contains the CPU plus fan, heatsink and manual, as per a regular C3 pack. ®
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Dell offers 2GHz Xeon workstations

Dell has begun offering its Precision 530 workstation with Intel's unlaunched 2GHz Xeon processor, as we predicted yesterday. To date Intel has only said that the chip will ship sometime in Q3. The basic workstation ships with a single 1.5GHz Xeon for £1365 exc. VAT, but according to the PC vendor's UK Web site, buyers can choose a 2.0GHz Xeon for an extra £330 or have two of them installed for £895 more than the base price. The Xeon is based on the Pentium 4. It contains 256KB of on-die L2 cache and is produced using a 0.18 micron process. It is aimed at single- and dual-processor workstations. Another version of the part, targeted at dual-processor servers, was due to have shipped next quarter, but has now been canned. Of course, since both chips are identical, as near as we can make out, there's nothing to stop server makers using the workstation version of the part. What differentiates the chips appears to centre more on the customers Intel is targeting than technology. However, with the 0.13 micron successor to the server Xeon coming early Q1 2002, server makers are more likely to wait and avoid having to validate two processors in rapid succession. The 0.13 micron part, codenamed Prestonia, will also ship with a larger, 512KB cache and run at 2.2GHz. A Dell US spokeswoman last night confirmed that Dell's workstation line would include the 2GHz Xeon, as and when it becomes available. Industry sources tell us that the part is due to be formally launched early next month, so Dell is clearly jumping the gun - not that we can see Intel making much of a fuss about it. ® Related Stories Intel cans 2GHz server-oriented Xeon Dell to launch Intel's 2GHz Xeon any day now
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Upgrade your MS apps before 1 October – Gartner

Businesses are being urged to upgrade Microsoft software by 30 September because MS is ditching its most widely used upgrade path on 1 October 2001. The call to upgrade comes from industry analysts Gartner as a response to changes in licenses that Microsoft announced in May 2001 coming into effect on 1 October. On that date, Version Upgrades, Product Upgrades, Competitive Upgrades and Language Upgrades will no longer be available. But Microsoft has extended the date for purchasing the Upgrade Advantage (UA) maintenance offering until 28 February 2002. To get the max future upgrade cover period, enterprises requiring UA are advised to end their Open Authorization or Select Agreements and enter into new version 5 UA agreements before 30 September. Gartner says that although UA is nominally a two-year deal, it actually runs concurrently with the Select or Open contract terms. "Enterprises with agreements signed in 2000, may purchase UA up to February 2002, but they will pay for two years and get coverage for only seven months (i.e., the remainder of the contract term)," says the analysts report. But it gets worse. "In addition, they will then have to sign a Select v.6 agreement earlier than they could have and enroll the licenses into Software Assurance. To get an extra year of Software Assurance, these enterprises will pay 29 percent of the license fee per year for desktop applications and 25 percent for server products. For example, for Microsoft Office Standard at current Select "B" estimated retail pricing ($349), an enterprise with 5,000 desktops would pay a fee of more $500,000. It could save that cost by simply terminating their contracts and re-entering new v.5 agreements before 30 September." Enterprises whose Select v.4 or v.5 contracts expire between 1 October 2001 and 28 February 2002 need to be on the ball, and make sure they can repurchase UA. Even though Microsoft has extended the deadline for buying UA until 28 February 2002, it is making the new v.6 Open and Select licensing programs become available on 1 October 2001. Gartner thinks it's doubtful that Microsoft will let anyone buy a v.5 or earlier agreement once they've introduced v.6 - and you can only buy UA under a Select or Open v.5 or earlier agreement. If these enterprises missed the boat Gartner envisages this: "They would likely have to repurchase the license to get the most current version, and then buy Software Assurance to stay current (at 25 percent to 29 percent of the license fee annually). Thus, Select level "B" customers would pay a relicense cost of $349 for each copy of Microsoft Office Standard plus a maintenance cost of $101.21 annually." ® Related Link Gartner report
Robert Blincoe, 20 Sep 2001

Intel's Server Roadmap

UpdatedUpdated So farewell, then, the 2GHz 0.18 micron Foster Xeon, knocked on the head because a faster, 0.13 micron version with more cache is coming within three months of its once-anticipated launch. The canned server-oriented Xeon is, of course, identical to the 2GHz Xeon Intel is soon to launch for the workstation market - and not so far off the regular desktop P4. In other words, the decision to pull one part and continue with the other is down to sales and marketing considerations, not with technology. Clearly Intel believes that customers wouldn't bother with the Foster part when the 0.13 micron Prestonia chip was just around the corner. Prestonia will replace Foster in the workstation market too, but workstations require less validation than servers, so it makes sense for vendors to offer the 2GHz processor as soon as it's available and just upgrade to Prestonia as and when. ® If you happen have a copy of Intel's latest server roadmaps, feel free to mail a copy here. October 2001 ·2GHz Xeon - 0.18 micron Foster - 256KB on-die L2 (workstations) Q4 2001 ·Itanium - 0.18 micron McKinley - 1.5-3MB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB (pilot programme) ·1.6GHz+ Xeon - 0.18 micron Foster - 512KB/1MB on-die L3 (four/eight-way servers) ·700MHz Pentium III - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB, 1.1V core (uni-processor thin, low-power servers) ·Chipsets: i870, Enabled Q1 2002 ·2GHz, 2.2GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2 (workstations, dual-processer servers) ·2GHz, 2.2GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Low-Power Prestonia (low-power rack servers) ·1.4GHz Pentium III - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2 ·700MHz Pentium III - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 100MHz FSB, 1.1V core (dual-processor thin, low-power servers) ·Chipset: Plumas - DDR support + Infiniband Q2 2002 ·2.4GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia (workstations, dual-processer servers) ·??GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Galatin (four/eight-way servers) ·Itanium - 0.18 micron McKinley - 1.5-3MB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB (launched as commercial product) Q3 2002 ·750MHz Pentium III - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 100MHz FSB, 1.1V core (uni- and dual-processor thin, low-power servers) 2003 ·Itanium - 0.13 micron Madison - 3-6MB on-die L2 (workstations, dual- and multi-processor servers) ·Itanium - 0.13 micron Deerfield - 3-6MB on-die L2 (rack servers)
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Western European server revenues fall

The decline in server sales spread from the US to Western Europe in Q2, with factory revenues down 8 per cent on the same period last year, IDC says. Q2 factory gate revenues were $3.2bn (Q2 2000: $3.7bn), But sales in Western Europe held up rather better during the quarter than the US, where revenues plummeted 25 per cent, and Japan, which experienced a 20 per cent revenue fall. Top five Western European vendors by factory revenue share (IDC) 1. IBM 25.6% 2. Compaq 18.7% 3. Hewlett-Packard 17% 4. Sun Microsystems 14.3% 5. Fujitsu-Siemens 9.6% If the figures are bad news for server vendors as a whole it is good news for IBM, which grew sales in Western Europe at a time when the total market fell, as well as emerging as no.1 vendor. IBM grew server sales 16 per cent compared with Q2 2000 And Fujitsu Siemens, another top five vendor in the region experienced increased revenue growth, with sales up 15 per cent, compared with Q2, 2000. Top five Western European vendors by unit shipment share (IDC) 1. Compaq 32.4% 2. IBM 15.5% 3. Dell 13.2% 4. Hewlett-Packard 12.8% 5. Sun Microsystems 6.5% Shipments in Western Europe were up two per cent to 274,000 during the quarter. Worldwide, server shipments fell three per cent during the period. IDC notes that Dell, IBM and Compaq all increased shipments by 45 per cent, five per cent and two per cent, respectively. Dell's huge market share growth does not translate through to revenues, which were down slightly compared with Q2 last year. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Sep 2001

Nimda worm runs riot on IT sites

The IT industry has done a poor job in protecting its Web servers from the effects of the Nimda worm. That's the conclusion we draw from evidence that Web sites belonging to Dell, Microsoft, NTL and corporate ISP C&W INS all show tell-tale traces of Nimda infection. As previously reported, Nimda (which affects both Windows PCs and servers running IIS) spreads via an email attachment or a web defacement download. The worm takes advantage of well-known Microsoft IIS vulnerabilities to stick copies of itself on servers before attempting to propagate via the Web. For the record: www.microsoft.com/frontpage (possibly), Microsft's Japanese Web server (definetly), ftp://ftp1.dell.com/bios/, mms3-win.server.ntl.com, mms4-win.server.ntl.com and THE_WEB01 server of C&W INS have all been infected by the virus. We hope the firms involved are in the process of updating their Web servers to guard against the worm, as explained by an advisory issued by C&W INS on what it is doing. With the numerous security flaps about IIS that have surfaced of late you'd have expected these firms to have patched up their servers ages ago - at least if they had any proper security policy in place. Is it too much to expect the industry to practice what it preaches? If financial institutions advised IT firms about Internet security (instead of the other way around) we'd probably all be a lot better off... ® Related Stories Security firm caught out by Nimda Nimda worm tails off Teenage Mutant Nimda email rides the Code Red worm
John Leyden, 20 Sep 2001

US homes upgrade to broadband

More and more US households are ditching their second phone lines and replacing them with broadband services or mobile phones, according to a survey from Gartner. Analysts found that almost six per cent of all US households between January and June this year replaced a second phone - used for dial-up net access or a fax machine, for example - with a new service. More than half (55 per cent) of these upgraded their phone lines with broadband services resulting in the creation four million new broadband subscribers. The rest opted for a mobile phone package which, with competitive-prices, makes second phone lines redundant. Said Gartner's Peggy Schoener: "A significant segment of the additional residence lines were never used for voice communications but rather for dial-up Internet access and faxing, so they were a natural market for upward migration to newly available and affordable forms of data communications." "Additionally, the increasing mobile nature of society together with competitively priced, technologically viable wireless offerings have diminished the requirement for multiple wired access lines for voice communications," she said. ®
Tim Richardson, 20 Sep 2001

Horizon reports tale of two halves

Horizon, the Anglo-Irish Sun reseller, has reported a pretty good year, with sales for the 12 months to 30 June 2001 up 38 per cent to EUR409.5m and EBITDA up 15 per cent to EUR18.5m. But as with rival Morse, it was a tale of two halves, with the second half suffering what Horizon describes as "an environmental downturn". And like Morse, the company has implemented cost-cutting measures to bring expenses into line with expenses. These include "very significant" job cuts, the consolidation/closure of three offices, and the discontinuation of a number of loss-making operations, resulting in annual savings of E10m. The restructure left Horizon with 614 staff at the end of its financial year, against 720 in March, 2001. Another 60 staff are expected to go. Horizon expresses confidence in the future, reporting a strong order pipeline, and healthy growth for its high-margin Internet services/integrator business. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Sep 2001

Email churn surges into the tens of billions

Although it might seem like everybody you know sends you email everyday, as well as lots and lots of people you don’t know, apparently you ain’t seen nothing yet. IDC is claiming that email volumes are going to soar to staggering levels over the next few years as more and more people move online and businesses increasingly turn to electronic means for their business dealings. The number of email mailboxes is predicted to top more than 1.2 billion by 2005, up from 505 million in 2000, thanks to the staggering growth rate, which will hit a compound annual growth rate of 138 per vcetn , of new email account holders. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that there will be that number of people using email – as many of them will be repeat holders with business, private and personal accounts – but it still means your inbox is going to get pretty busy. Churn Baby Churn IDC estimates that the churn of emails is going to grow at such a phenomenal rate that by the end of 2005, the number of person to person emails, which will exclude all of the automated responses and fulfilment emails you will receive, will hit 36 billion worldwide. According to IDC this will have a dramatic effect on the browser market too as more and more people are using browsers to access their email. By 2003, in fact, IDC reckon that 50 per of all email accounts will be accessed through browser. This is a serious issue. It's not just browsers that are going to be affected. An email explosion means serious data management headaches and, with volumes rising at the rate that IDC predicts, it could become one of the challenges of the next few years. The general hope within IT departments is that the day- to-day boring stuff, like managing mail servers and archives, is easy enough – leaving the really exciting times for hardcore development an strategy delivery. However, by the look of this rapidly mounting data pile, the day to day management stuff could quite easily become a costly, core focus of a department. And that’s when size really starts to matter. © IT-Analysis.com.
IT-Analysis, 20 Sep 2001

Palm unwraps m125 PDA

Palm finally unveiled its m125 PDA this morning after a false start earlier this week. As expected, the device brings m50x-family functionality to the m10x series. So there's a 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor, SD card slot, Universal Connector, Palm OS 4.0 and USB cradle. 8MB of memory complete the spec. As per the piccies that leaked out of Palm last month, the device sports a two-tone black and silver faceplate. And, as Dell's inadvertent pre-announcement of the product through one of its sales catalogues proved, the m125 will cost $249. That includes a large software bundle, which nicely contains DataViz' Documents to Go 3.0 - buyers can download version 4.0 for free, provided they do so within 30 days of purchasing the PDA - for reading and creating MS Office documents. There's also Palm's eBook reader, an AOL mail reader, MultiMail SE for POP 3 and IMAP 4 email, AvantGo's Web browser and MGI's PhotoSuite Mobile Edition 2.21, but little else to email home about. Interestingly, Palm's release statement says the device is available in the US now, with worldwide availability following on 20 September. Since today is the 20th, we wonder if Palm had planned to release the m125 sooner than it has. ® Related Story Palm leaks unannounced m125 onto Web - then pulls it
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

TerraCam USB TerraTec

ReviewReview Some webcams try to incorporate all the functionality of small digital cameras. They come with batteries and internal memory, so they don't have to be tethered to a PC. These additions push the price up and often result in a product that's a bad digital camera with webcam capabilities rather than a value-for-money webcam. The TerraCam from TerraTec doesn't try to be anything other than a well-made, low-end webcam for desktop and mobile computing. Its price undercuts most of the competition, yet it comes with enough software to maximise its versatility. The TerraCam USB has a clip attachment for use with a notebook. Alternatively, if you want to put it on a PC there's a weighted stand, which is useful as the TerraCam itself only weighs about 50g and could easily slip off your PC without the base. The maximum resolution of 352x288 is half of what's on offer from a lot of other webcams and the result is blurry, even on the top 30fps (frames per second) rate. It's fine for taking stills, but we found it requires the user to sit very still in front of the cam if you want a halfway decent photo. Fortunately, shots can be touched up with the basic PhotoExpress package and it does have a manual rubberised focus ring for sharpening up an image. What makes the TerraCam a worthwhile buy is the software. It doesn't quite have the spycam credentials of Sony's brilliant CMR-PC1, but it does have great surveillance software. This gives the TerraCam motion detection capabilities; as soon as there’s movement in its field of vision it rattles off low-resolution Jpegs with the time and date stamped. Good for cheap security - as long as would-be thieves don't spot your PC when they're stealing everything else. On top of video mail and LiveSnap for emailing video and stills, the TerraTec also features Netmeeting, a business application for live video-conferencing. Surprisingly, though, the TerraCam isn't compatible with Windows 2000 - the OS of choice for many business users. A well-priced, versatile webcam, the TerraCam does just what it says on the box and no more. But that's not a criticism, this is a simple and cost effective product, which dispenses with bells and whistles to keep the price low. ® Info Price: £28.50 Contact: 020 7923 1892 Website" www.terratec.net Specs Video capture speed: 30fps Max resolution: 352x288 Dimensions: 47x47x55mm Weight: 50g Scoring Build quality: 7 Features: 7 Value for money: 9 All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 20 Sep 2001

Reg's ‘Dickless Armchair Warriors’ go to battle

Letters SpecialLetters Special Assault On America I just wanted to recognize The Register for not placing banner ads on the pages dealing with the apparent terrorist attacks in the US.  It is a very kind gesture, thank you.   Bob Strusa OK, now for the vitriol. Andrew Orlowski, Are you a shithead, or what? It's amazing how the technophiles of the world assume that because they are conversant with something as complex as the inner workings of a pc or how to smash the stack on an AS/400, they are the only intelligent people on the face of the earth and everybody else is just a big, fat fucking idiot. Frankly, I take great exception to your asinine presumption that mass retaliatory strikes would "neatly suit the terrorist [sic - nice grammar shit for brains] goals". Really? How's that? You say that dropping cluster bombs on Bin Laden's training facilities is counterproductive? Or that pummeling Iraq is? What a foolhardy, defeatist load of crap. You're forgetting something, you pompous ass: everybody KNOWS who supports and shelters terrorists in the world. Just because a US attorney hasn't dragged a terrorist before a federal court and produced a preponderance of evidence linking them bodily to an act of war DOESN'T mean there's ANY question of who's actually responsible. It is precisely your "we shouldn't do anything because nothing's going to solve any problems anyway" attitude that they are counting on. Why do you think Bin Laden never announces his responsibility for the acts he perpetrates? Because he's ashamed? It's because he knows that in our "innocent until proven guilty" mindset, as long as there's a shred of doubt (read that, anything but ABSOLUTE certainty) we will doubt the efficacy of our actions and will therefore decline to do anything. Frankly, I agree that "surgical strikes" are a misnomer. That's why I'm in favor of carpet bombing. Because that's what war IS. It is dirty, messy, and horrific and thing like hospitals and children get blown up. Just ask the people of London or Bremen. By not acting decisively and WIDELY, all we do in ensure that the status quo that allows these evil fucks to operate remains in place. So, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. I'm as fierce a civil-libertarian as anyone, but I don't see any problem with having a navy, for christ's sake. Nor do I see any problem with face scanners at Airport check-ins. I daresay that if a 767 took off from YOUR airport, flew by YOUR office window, over YOUR apartment, and crashed into a building HALF A MILE from where your PREGNANT WIFE works you'd be singing a different tune. So shut the fuck up, you DICKLESS ARMCHAIR-WARRIOR FUCK. Nathan McCourtney Arlington, VA Our link to Alexander Cockburn's initial piece drew both praise and flames. For the record, I felt it was appropriate because it conveyed the historical magnitude of the attack for non-US citizens better than any other single piece we'd read. Cockburn is too independent to be tagged with any label - his Al Gore: A User's Manual, best explains for us why a Republican sits in the White House, and it's nothing to do with the Supreme Court - but readers have a few labels of their own:- I have to say I am rather appalled by the fact a respected online journal like the Register would use a link regarding the terrorist attack on the WTC and Pentagon by a noted lunatic fringe leftist like Alexander Cockburn, a man who has spent his life defending Scientology cultists and spewing Marxist agitation and propaganda. And yes by the end of the article I was ready to hit him, but the same could be said any other time I happened across his bomb throwing vitriol Joe Varga Not everyone agreed:- Thanks to The Reg for covering this event. Just as with the ballot problems last presidential election, The Reg is my first stop because I trust the writers (including trusting them to redirect me when they don't understand =-). -Paul Komarek But David Woyciesjes thought it unpatriotic:- Jeffrey and Alexander, In regards to your "Flying Bombs" piece... http://www.counterpunch.org/ ... The article started out good, but by the end you sounded like two dumb-ass half-blind ignorant anti-American fuckheads. What gives? Did someone piss in your Wheaties? But that's nothing compared to the vitriol aimed at Washington Bureau Chief Thomas C Greene. Tom asked two simple questions in this opinion piece - who are we fighting?, and how will we know when we've 'won'? Which seem sensible for anyone to ask. But this isn't what some of you what to hear:- I am completely outraged as The Register's moronic commentary on the events surrounding the Sept. 11th mass murder. Did you people actually see the planes slam into the buildings? To be critical of the US (or the US President) during these times is completely backwards. The people that did this were backed by orginazations and governments that CANNOT be reasoned with, only their destruction will bring any sense of security. So quit blathering on about the US entering another Vietnam when there's no outside military support for these murders and their crime is so clear cut. Chip Homme Mr. Green, Yes...we are far from perfect. We have made many mistakes in the past and I am sure we will make more mistakes in the future. It is easy for you to poke fun at us, isn't it? Here's an idea... why doesn't a highly educated person as yourself, suggest a prudent coarse of action for the US? Please don't bother hiding behind the "I only report the news I don't make (or comment) on it" because you clearly have your own opinion and are not afraid to voice it. It seams that we can do nothing right according to you. Furthermore, if anything bad happens to the US, I am sure you will find a reason why we deserved it. It's always easier to find fault then to offer a solution, isn't it... I like The Register, and IMHO I think it would be a better site if it never published another "Thomas C Green in Washington" article. It's time to rally around the flag, agrees this correspondent:- Your right our President and all our leaders should have acted hysterically inciting fear and terror into the general population. After all mass panic is such a minor thing. I sure it would have helped our nation to also have our President put himself in a position to be killed.   Sarcasm aside-you can’t even make up your own mind. First you imply the President should have been more emotional. Then you state he should have flown to the oval office. Presumably the best reason for him to be at the oval office was to allay peoples fears. Yet you chastise him and others for presenting a calm front. WELL WHICH IS IT!!! Do you want him to scare people and therefore help the bastards who crashed the planes or remain calm and prevent them from having a more symbolic victory. The President has the responsibility of protecting America. His personnel pride is insignificant to this task. If the military and secret services tell him it is in the best interests of the country to go to a safe place he should. If the general is screwing around on the front line and gets killed, he can’t order the reserve forces up to cover the flank when the enemy attacks. Therefore not only did he kill himself he killed many others. That general is stupid as are you.   Unfortunately there are too many people such as yourself who know how to do nothing but try and tear other people down no matter what the costs. You should be standing united with the rest of us not helping the enemy.   Everyone knows hasty decisions are not always the best or even right. But GOD DAMMIT we elected him to make those decision and in a time of crisis we should back him up.   Scott Olsen Portland OR However some of America's own leaders might fail the current patriotism test. This correspondent (who wishes to rename anonymous) pointed us to this news:- As recently as May, the US was the main benefactor of the Taliban, even as we sold arms to their civil war opponent, the Northern Alliance. Here's Robert Scheer back in May when we paid them $43 million to declare growing opium against the will of God: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n922/a09.html Confused? We know we are. The most paranoid letter of the past ten days was this one, in response to Kieren's piece about the US espionage network, This is how we know Echelon exists. Subject: WAKE UP I've got nothing to hide do you? Way to go buddy why don't you let all the terrorists know about something they shouldn't. Haven't you ever heard of the kind of secrecy requiered by the public in regards to sensitive information about how one operates during World War 2. Putting this kind of information out takes away our edge. Wise up and take "This is how we know Echelon exists" off the www. We have to trust this network as a tool against terrorism. We have to all get together and stomp out this evil. Why not get all the hackers together and launch an attack on any web site that is a threat? Robert Davis That's right - we shouldn't be mentioning Echelon, because it's one of our prime weapons against terrorism. Whoops, we've mentioned it again. Twice, in fact. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Sep 2001

IT security budgets soar

IT security sales will triple in value to $21 billion by the end of 2005, compared with the $6.7bn recorded in 2000. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR)of 25.5%, according to IDC which makes the forecasts. Driving the security sales bonanza is the "growing corporate appetite for remote LAN, Internet, extranet/intranet, and wireless access services," according to Allan Carey, IDC analyst. This in turn will "drive the need for advanced information security services as technologies for circumventing network security systems continue to keep pace with the technologies designed to defend against them." Financial institutions will continue to lead the way on spending on IT security services, accounting for $848m of the total market in 2000, and $2.2bn in 2005.
Drew Cullen, 20 Sep 2001

Mac OS X 10.1 to ship next week as planned

Apple Expo Paris may have been cancelled, but Mac OS X 10.1 will be launched next week, we understand from sources close to the company. The latest version of Apple's next-generation operating system was expected to have been the highlight of CEO Steve Jobs' keynote at the Paris show. When Apple cancelled the event in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, some observers were concerned the release of the OS upgrade may be delayed too. All the indications are that it will become available exactly as planned. Quite apart from Mac users' eagerness to get hold of the software as soon as they can, Apple surely wants to get it out well before the Windows XP bandwagon begins in earnest. According to reports from beta-testers Mac OS X 10.1, codenamed Puma, delivers Apple's pledge to improve the OS' speed and functionality. And reports from testers also suggest that the most recent build, 5G64, has been designated Golden Master - the version from which the shipping version will be duplicated. Version 10.1 finally brings DVD playback to the OS and CD writing to the Finder, along with improved Aqua aesthetics and some 'about time too' features like displaying filenames in full. But will Apple release further Power Mac G4 servers too? Having replaced the old 533MHz Graphite server with a 733MHz Quicksilver model, we expect Apple to extend the line with a dual 800MHz unit. We've had strong hints that that will indeed happen next week. ® Related Stories Apple cancels Paris Expo First Quicksilver Power Mac G4 server slips out Apple sets 26 Sept. for Quicksilver dual-G4 server launch
Tony Smith, 20 Sep 2001

Is there a plan to DoS defacement sites off the Internet?

Is there a co-ordinated attempt taking place to force defacement archives off the Internet? After Safemode.org told us that a distributed denial of service attack against it had caused its ISP to drop it, the question needs to be asked. The attack against Safemode.org, as described to us by its admin and co-founder Mystakill, occurred at the same time as attacks against Alldas.de, which also resulted in that site becoming unavailable. There are some subtle differences in the mode of attack though. Mystakill told us that Safemode.org had become the victim of a "land" (or indirect) attack. "The attackers send a DDoS spoofing our IP address as the source to many Web sites, he said. "The victims of the DDoS then respond to us or our ISP [BullsEyeTelco] about the problem. "Our ISP or the up stream provider contacts us about our server being the aggressor of these attacks and demanded that the server be taken offline." Most security related Web sites are subject to attack by s'kiddies but the suspicion is that Safemode.org and Alldas.de were targeted by people who (for whatever reason) wanted to see defacement archives taken off the Internet. Defacement archives provide a valuable resource for the security community though they can be a difficult tenant for ISPs who have to cope with flames about port scanning, high bandwidth demands as well as the occasional DoS attack. It's also a hassle to those running the sites, which is one of the main reasons Attrition.org decided to drop its defacement archive earlier this year. So, as it stands, both Safemode.org and Alldas.de are looking for an ISP to take them on. Neither is optimistic about getting back online anytime soon, if ever. Who gains from this? S'kiddies must be pleased their work is recorded on the Web for all to see, so we don't consider them as the likely perps. It makes far more sense that government and big business would prefer that these mirror sites "go away" so that the exploits of hackers are not exhibited or glorified. Mystakill was quite willing to believe this theory. "I would not put that past the US government," he said. "We have hundreds of .gov and .mil sites mirrored, if you where a big security company or entire government would you want you blunders archived for all time?" Quite. ® Related Stories DDos attack knocks out Alldas.de - for good? Alldas defaced! Alldas.de told to look for another home Attrition abandons defacement mirrors DNS mega-hack hits thousands of sites
John Leyden, 20 Sep 2001

DIY e-biz ROI flatters to deceive

Just how well is that e-business project going? What exactly is the return on the investment (ROI)? If you are, in common with 80 per cent of so big companies, calculating the ROI in-house, you could be deluding yourself. Companies assess their e-business ROI through rose-tinted glasses, consistently reporting better results than those who subject themselves to third-party assessment, Jupiter Media Metrix says. The Web analyst firm bases its conclusion on its survey of 471 senior executives of firms with an annual turnover of more than $50 million. Almost 60 per cent of inhouse ROI assessments generated a positive result, according to Jupiter, which suspects that in many cases this is merely a "self fulfilling prophecy". Worse, DIYers use "nconsistent definitions of ROI metrics in an effort to show positive results, therefore making it nearly impossible to correctly choose which projects should be funded and which should be killed". So what is to be done? Jupiter urges business managert to @precisely and consistently define financial metrics such as ROI, rather than attempting to 'guesstimate' a dollar value when there is no justification for doing so". Also, companies must "separate hard dollar ROI calculations from soft dollar 'relationship metrics' such as Return on Relationship, which is a metric specifically designed to capture the impact of the Web on customer relationships". This sounds very fuzzy to us: how do you work out a Return on Relationship? Jupiter has the answer - nearly. It is currently developing a Relationship model and will be publishing a report on the subject in a few months. Jupiter may have its work cut out on converting the masses - right now, just 17 per cent of big businesses use external consultants to assess their e-business ROI. Many companies don't bother to measure their e-business ROI at all. ®
Drew Cullen, 20 Sep 2001

Microsoft blesses XP skins

Microsoft will bless leading third party skinning software WindowBlinds at a media event in Michigan on Monday. It's a diplomatic triumph for Stardock, which we've likened before to one of those strange organisms that thrives on the edge of underwater thermal vents, where survival is generally regarded as impossible. Life is perilous for Windows utility vendors, who face being acquired, co-opted or crushed by The Beast. Stardock embarked on skinning Windows in 1998, and for a brief time last year it appeared that it would have its prime revenue source undermined by Microsoft after The Beast announced that Whistler (XP) would include 'Visual Styles'. But this was never really the case: Stardock's WindowBlinds allows you to make drastic alterations to the Windows UI, for example by replacing the Minimize, Maximize and Close window with Mac or NeXT window controls. With some justification, Microsoft wants to keep the UI consistent, and so its Visual Styles allow you to alter the colours, but keep the window controls where they are. Stardock will announce the new XP-friendly WindowBlinds 3 at the event. This has a new architecture 'SkinEngine XP', a way of creating user-defined titlebar buttons, a new skin format, and a new 'push' mechanism for updating client desktops with new skins. The upshot is that WindowBlinds 3 gets integrated into the main Display properties box, and you'll need it to make existing applications inherit XP visual styles. Which would make it pretty mandatory, we'd guess. In fact, while previous versions of WindowBlinds have been used to liven up the dull Windows UI, we suspect that one of the first uses that WB3 will be to tone down XP's nightmarish dayglo garb. (You can turn Luna off, we should point out.) Stardock CEO Brad Wardell also threw a barb in the direction of Cupertino with this comment:- "It should be pointed out that while one OS vendor was threatening lawsuits to its developers trying to customize its latest OS, Microsoft was adding APIs to Windows XP to make it easier for third parties such as Stardock to customize it," he said. Which is fair enough. The team behind the Kaleidoscope utility for MacOS which pioneered skins - Greg Landweber and Arlo Rose - recently announced that the current version would be the last: Apple has not revealed how to make Aqua skinnable. So you won't be seeing Mac OS X take on any of these glorious appearances. Think different - but not too different, OK? ® Related Stories Apple rattles lawyers at DesktopX over Aqua Apple patents desktop themes Windows skin site re-posts MacOS X desktop theme
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Sep 2001

Tight-arse Liverpool supporter tries to blag e-season ticket

Yesterday was a bad day for Liverpool supporters for two reasons: one, a lacklustre performance against Borussia Dortmund produced a 0-0 scoreline and made the task of getting through the Champions League first round that much harder. And two, the Liverpool FC Web site's free e-season ticket finished and informed fans they'd have to pay £3.99 a month from now on or a flat fee of £39.99 for the year. The e-season ticket option on the Liverpool site is, quite frankly, extremely enticing - if you're a Liverpool fan that is. But as with anything on the Internet, when you start charging, a big question mark pops up. This reporter is unsure whether to cough up or not. So it seems is one of the IT reporters for The Daily Telegraph. Sure, it's a great service but £4 a month? Flicking a credit card in one hand and clicking through other sporting sites with the other, inspiration struck. How else can you explain the front page story on the dotcom Telegraph this morning: "Liverpool FC scores with Net technology"? What follows may look like a carefully crafted piece of objective and informative journalism but is in fact little more than a flagrant attempt to get a free e-season ticket and who knows, an all-expenses-paid trip to Anfield to meet Houllier and the boys. We are outraged and disgusted. That we didn't think of it first. We contacted the journalist in question and his pathetic excuse was this: "Sometimes you get stories because you dig diligently and ferret out a great tale (I'm hoping to get one of those anyway...) and sometimes you stray across something cause you happen to use it anyway. That's my excuse - I swear there were three other paras mentioning other clubs but they got cut at the last minute... I am coughing up the cash today I think - so far it's top notch." This last claim to be paying for the service anyway is clearly a smokescreen as we happen to have pictures of the journalist in question receiving a username and password from a dodgy looking Scouser in an underground car park in Canary Wharf yesterday. We would like to make it absolutely clear right now that we will not stand for such underhand tactics. We say quite openly and proudly that if Liverpool gives us a season ticket we will write nothing but lovely things about it from now on. [Although fellow reporter and Man U supporter John Leyden may have different ideas.] And if driven up to Anfield in a limo, with an entourage of ladies in Liverpool kit and more champagne that we can handle (quite a lot) we promise not to ask Gerard Houllier why on earth he didn't bring on Robbie Fowler last night when Owen had two men on him and Heskey was clearly having an off game. ® Related The blagging Telegraph article Liverpool FC.tv
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

Nimda inspires Sophos to song

People have long being inspired to song through love, passion or (as the Reg Anthem competition found out) frustration with Microsoft Windows. Now a virus outbreak has sparked musical creativity. This is the ditty we hear is being sung around the tech support desks at anti-virus vendor Sophos... To the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight {chorus} A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day. [bloke in background] Ooooh-ooooh, oooh-ee-oo-ay a Nimda day ... In the networks, the NT networks, The virus spreads tonight. In the networks, the busy networks, The virus leaps tonight. A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day. Near the server, infected server, The virus pings tonight. Near the server, infected server, The virus pings tonight. A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day. TFTP, TFTP, What is going on? TFTP, TFTP, /What/ is going on !? A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day, A Nimda Day, a Nimda Day. {repeat ad nauseum} ®
John Leyden, 20 Sep 2001

Captain Cyborg becomes a film critic

Is there no end to Captain Cyborg's talents? Self-publicist supremo, confused lecturer, technology Cassandra and now film critic to boot. Yes, Kevin Warwick has cropped up in today's London Evening Standard offering his "expert" opinion on the intelligent life-forms featured in Steven Spielberg's new Film AI. It's almost too terrible to bear. The film features "gigolo robots, teddy bears that can walk, talk and think and even plastic, human-looking nannies". And all these are completely feasible according to Kev - who has got other people to build a series of robots that have completely failed each time to fulfil their most basic function. However, a robot that could be mistaken for a human, that is programmed to love irrevocably. Well that's just made-up nonsense, a waste of effort, says Kev. And if Kevin Warwick is an expert in anything, it's in made-up nonsense. In the brief intro in the paper to Captain Cyborg, it makes mention of his reed switch "implant" but fails to mention that it was only put a few millimetres under the skin for less than a week. It mentions the new magic chip as well - and a date in which it will be implanted. At last! The autumn. Is that a UK autumn? That means that he has to do it by the end of October. (or November - when does Autumn end, exactly?) What is outstanding though is that not only will the chip have to record and replay nerve impulses by then, it will also have to be able to transmit them to a computer which can store them. It will also have to enable not only movement but pain and emotion to be recorded. It will also have to allow his wife - with a similar "implant" to feel his body's reactions. Do you get the feeling that our Kev may have got a little carried away while in the media spotlight? Yep - because he's done it again. Apparently the chip will also allow him - get this - to have the hearing of a bat :-). It doesn't get much better, does it? As for Kev's review: "It is a good story, but it is a fairy story. It is pure Pinocchio. In a way, it is a big step back from Kubrick's 2001 and the creation of Hal, who really thought like a computer. He tells it well, and tries to deal with some interesting topics - like love and whether a robot can kill himself..." At which point we zoned out as he ran through his usual pantomine of tedious robot observations - the vast majority of which have been taken from other well-known sci-fi movies. If you want to read them, go here. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

Feds complain Bin Laden not using hi-tech equipment

Osama Bin Laden is evading detection by not using modern telecoms equipment, the US intelligence services have told the press. "He switched off a lot of communications technologies," a US intelligence spokesman said. "Now it is other people talking for him. In an innocuous conversation, you can't pick that out." Osama is so cunning, we are told, that he is now using human messengers and family members to deliver instructions. "This isn't low-tech," a former NSA consultant has been quoted as saying. "You'd have to really call it no-tech." Apparently, until this week, they knew just where he was by tracking his satellite phone and they traced his organisation by checking out Internet traffic and email. Now hang on a second. Are these the same intelligence agencies that have clearly failed to infiltrate Osama bin Laden's organisation and that were caught completely unawares when the greatest terrorist attack in history happened right on their own doorstep? Only last week, we were being told that increased surveillance - taps on all ISPs and a backdoor in encryption systems - was the only way to stop people like this. Now, seven days later, when hundreds of special forces personnel are crawling around Afghanistan looking for the man, we're told that all this technology and the billions spent on it are obsolete because he's turned his phone off. That we are blind as a mole. In fact, a mole is exactly what the West needs at the moment. Most companies have learnt that modern computer technology is nothing more than a tool - a useful tool, mind - and that it's knowledge and expertise among your staff that really cuts it. It would seem the intelligence services are not quite up to speed. ® Update We've had the journalist from AP that wrote the original story onto us. D Ian Hopper is annoyed that we didn't credit the story - of which we are guilty, although we didn't know it was him that wrote it. He also informs us that the source is a retired intelligence operative and that bin Laden's change of tack happened years ago and not last week. It seems as though we have been caught up in the current obsession of rewriting stories to make it seem immediate to current events. Serves us right for not checking other journalists' stories.
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Sep 2001

Americans want Uncryption

Three in four Americans favour tough anti-encryption laws, in the wake of last week's terrorist atrocities, a survey finds. Seventy-two per cent believe anti-encryption laws will be "somewhat" or "very" helpful in combating terrorism, according to the survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. The survey found that 54 per cent of those asked "would favour reducing encryption of communications to make it easier for the FBI and CIA to monitor the activities of suspected terrorists - EVEN IF it might infringe on people's privacy and affect business practices". Ignore the civil liberties implications and concentrate on the practicality, or sheer lack of, of implementing Uncryption laws. Remember Key Escrow, the notion under which individuals and organisations must lodge their decryption government bodies? That put-the-backdoor-for-the-authorities-to-sneak-into-crypto-software was rejected as impractical, and inherently insecure. An encryption product with a backdoor is easier to crack; this is not popular with the likes of banks which need to preserve the integrity of financial transactions. So, cryptography presents a challenge to the legitimate interests of government in investigating terrorists and criminals. But the prohibition of strong crypto, would affect lawful businesses and individuals, while doing nothing to restrain evildoers. To paraphrase Phil Zimmermann, the creator of the popular PGP email encryption package, only criminals will have access to encryption if the technology is criminalised. ® Assault on America: complete coverage
John Leyden, 20 Sep 2001