25th > October > 2001 Archive

server room

Sun drops bundle bombshell on BEA

Sun Microsystems is mulling the option of bundling the iPlanet app server in for free with Solaris, according to IDG News Service. The news wire quotes Sun software boss Pat Sueltz as confirming that iPlanet would form part of a bundle in the future, but reports that no final decision has been taken at Sun to give the app server a zero-dollar price tag. And that's the big question. BEA currently provides the most popular application server on Solaris, and throwing in iPlanet at no extra cost could damage the relationship between the two. One of Sun's proudest boasts is that unlike the Beast, it doesn't cut the ground from under its partners. However, just because something is bundled for free, there's no guarantee it ends up getting used. Think yacc(1). The fact that Sun spent this morning reassuring BEA that the two were still best buddies shows how important the relationship is. On the other hand, and quite tellingly, Sun has refused to kill the story by unequivocably denying any intention to bundle iPlanet for free. So ominously for BEA, all options would appear to remain open. This week Sun announced a bundle which throws in a free developer license for iPlanet's app server as part of its 4CD Sun ONE starter kit. ® External Link Sun to bundle iPlanet application server with Solaris - IDG
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Oct 2001

IBM server is really cool

IBM has announced a low-end Unix server which consumes 20 per cent less power than competing Sun Microsystems kit. The eServer p610 runs AIX5L or Linux (via Linux Affinity, full support isn't there yet) and comes with two Power3 microprocessor running at 375 or 450 Mhz, and in rack-mounted and tower versions. It is designed as a workhorse departmental or small business server. The p610 features IBM eLiza self-healing technologies including First Failure Data Capture, which is designed to keep a running system error log, and Persistent Deallocation, "which can automatically remove failed components when a system is rebooted". IBM said the p610 is fastest 2-way server as measured by the SPECjbb2000 benchmark. It operates at 450 watts, 19 percent less than the competing Sun Fire 280R's 560 watts. ® External links IBM Introduces World's Most Powerful Entry Server Related Stories eLiza asks: what makes you say you want a self-healing server? IBM debuts 1GHz PowerPC G3 POWER4 debuts in IBM Regatta The recession is good news. For IBM anyway Sun debuts UltraSPARC III and embraces copper Sun shows off mainframe chasing 106 chip StarCat IBM touts world's fastest midrange server
John Leyden, 25 Oct 2001

Easy CD Creator touts WinXP upgrade

The company behind the popular CD-burning software Easy CD Creator, Roxio, is to have another stab at avoiding compatibility issues with Microsoft operating systems. It is releasing a Windows XP upgrade for its latest version - Version 5 Platinum. There is no WinXP version as yet and Roxio is only pulling Version 5 of its software into the new operating system. Those with Version 5 will be able to download the upgrade free of charge from tomorrow (25 October), and new WinXP users get a $30 rebate if they buy Easy CD Creator 5. The company will be dearly hoping that the upgrade works without problems this time or the software package may not see another version. When Version 5 came out in May this year, users were dismayed to find that the software was killing Windows 2000 machines stone dead. A key element of the package - TakeTwo - conflicted with external drives. When we publicised the issues, hundreds of readers told of similar problems with a range of Microsoft OSes and with previous versions of the software. Roxio had rushed out Version 5 without sorting out compatibility issues with the previous version. A lack of backwards compatibility also angered thousands of users and many vowed to use competing products. In a recent posting in which the latest patch was made available, the company warned users that "If the system is hanging you may need to wait until Windows finally boot (may take up to 4 hours)". Roxio is betting the Easy CD Creator brand on the latest version, telling users of WinXP that versions 3.0 and 4.0 will not be supported. ® Related Link Roxio's latest patch for CD Creator 5 Related Stories Easy CD Creator affecting Win9x machines as well (links to all other stories at end) Stop! Don't install Easy CD Creator 5 til you read this story
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Oct 2001

Leaked MS email reveals WinXP, Xbox launch spin plans

With exquisite timing a very naughty mole leaks us an email from top Microsoft spinmeister Mark Murray. Not any old email, either - it details events for the week leading up to Der Tag, today, the XP launch in NYC. There's lots of good stuff in the email, which seems to be Murray's regular bulletin to get the spinmeisters und madels singing off the same liedersheet. Its basic role is: to drive home the various messages (not all of them concerning XP) Microsoft will be pushing this week; to keep everybody abreast of who's where, pushing what; to provide a heads-up regarding events to be covered in the next few weeks, and to akeep them abreast of what's going to be in tomorrow's newspapers. Least interesting from the tomorrow's newspapers point of view is this: "This week, another in a series of Microsoft essays on technology and society will run in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Seattle Times/PI and other major U.S. newspapers. Titled 'Creating Tools for the Digital Decade,' the essay focuses on the tremendous customer and partner effort behind Windows XP, with the overall theme that broad partnership and collaboration is how great software is made. The essay will be available at http://www.microsoft.com/issues/ starting Wednesday." And there indeed it is. Dull, trite, vacuous are not the words. Also due on presspass on Wednesday is something weirdly called "Windows XP Partner Love." Surely not, but we haven't checked... Apart from the paid-for advertorial stuff, the week's expected non-XP coverage is as follows: "Monday, Tom Sullivan of Infoworld is expected to run a story highlighting customers who are building XML Web services using Visual Studio.NET & .NET Framework, rather than competing platforms. The story may feature Newport News, NCR/Hausbank & Cafe Press as customers. "Monday, Mitch Wagner of InternetWeek is expected to run a competitive piece highlighting Microsoft and Sun's efforts with XML Web services, closely examining the issue of portability vs. interoperability. We expect the story will be negative, [bad Mitch, bad!] focusing on analyst rhetoric that Microsoft is forcing customers into a proprietary vertical world of Windows-based applications. Barry Goffe, Group Product Manager, was interviewed for the story. "Monday, we expect Newsweek to include comments from Bill Gates, discussing Microsoft's vision for the 2025 classroom, in a 'Future of Education' special section. Additionally, we expect Brandon Lloyd, the Washington D.C. teacher of the Washington2Washington program, to be included separately, discussing how technology will be leveraged in the future classroom. This special section was originally scheduled for earlier in the year, but was postponed due to the September 11th terrorist attacks. "Next week, Xbox will be featured in the 'Possessions' section of GQ magazine." But onwards to today's XP launch in NYC. In the "International" section we note a familiar name, Mark Thomas, associated with what appears to be a charabanc full of influential international press. As we appear not to be on it, but have been awarded tickets to the UK launch in the Royal Festival Hall instead, The Register clearly must read up on winning friends and influentialising people. "There will be over 120 international press at the Windows XP Launch in New York City [go on, rub it in), conducting a range of activities, including 1:1 interviews with Microsoft spokespeople and partners, and several roundtable with Billg for key international media [not us again]." Meanwhile in London, Steveb will be doing "a series of keynotes for customers, partners and developers, plus media events ranging from large press conferences to TV interviews and roundtables with significant trade journalists." Rick Belluzzo will be doing similar across South America, but The Reg appears not to be "significant" either, ho hum... Prior to the XP launch event, His Billness himself is due to open the Nasdaq, which chimes neatly with one of the XP key messages - This is going to be a great holiday season with Windows XP. Windows XP presents a wealth of opportunity for all kinds of partners, including retailers, ISVs, IHVs, computer manufacturers and service providers." Still trying to plant that story about WinXP rescuing the world economy? Tsk. At the launch itself, Bill will have a "surprise celebrity guest." But Mark's not telling, yet. Back to massaging the press. Bill's dance card is full: "Following Thursday’s event, Bill will appear on key business television and radio programs, and will participate in three international press roundtables. [we bitched about this already]" Mark's sappers have meanwhile been tunneling deep into the media in preparation for the assault: "Several Windows XP stories will be timed with the launch, including stories in Wall Street Journal, Fortune, New York Times, eWeek and Associated Press." As to how Mark knows what's going to be in today's editions of such reputable papers, we know not. And his use of the expression "will be timed" is tactless and hurtful, to say the least. He must mean more advertising, surely... Bored with the XP launch? Us too, but never mind, here comes the Xbox rollout, with presents for everybody. Well, almost everybody, but you're sick of us whining, right? "On October 25 and 26, the Xbox team host select industry analysts on campus for a series of briefings to set the context for the launch, preview the marketing activities and address Xbox online. Key Xbox team members will be present to demonstrate games, talk about marketing, and provide a vision for the online story. Also, we will ship final retail units to approximately 450 analysts and top-tier consumer, enthusiast, online and broadcast media." Bad move, surely. XP revives the economy on Thursday, 450 top analysts start playing with their Xboxes on Friday, the market goes to hell again on Monday? But watch out for a sudden onslaught of enthusiastic first looks at Xbox. More "select broadcast and print media" will be attending "the unveiling of Xbox Odyssey to Microsoft employees" on Friday, and the Xbox onslaught begins barely a beat away from the XP-fest. "This will serve as the official kick-off to the Xbox Odyssey tour, and provide great visuals and feedback as we move toward the November 15th North America launch of Xbox." Back with the analysts, Krishnan Srinivasan of Investor Relations is keeping an eye on things. There were over 20 financial analysts registered at the Professional Developers Conference this week, and today "IR will host over 50 financial analysts at the Windows XP Launch in New York. In addition, financial analysts have registered to attend launch events in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hartford and Detroit." We know you're not anything like as interested in analysts as Microsoft is (is anyone?) but we thought we'd do these guys a favour by drawing their attention to the free Xboxes while they still had time to ask for them." ®
John Lettice, 25 Oct 2001

Bin Laden hack-meister in defacement, financial debacles

Shameless German glam-h4x0r Kim Schmitz aka Kimble, who recently stole headlines with his YIHAT (Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism) publicity stunt and his unsubstantiated claims to have hacked a Sudanese bank with /bin/laden accounts, has been fingered in a defacement of SecurityNewsPortal (SNP) which prompted the site's sudden closing. Oh, and the flamboyant Schmitz is broke, too. First things First We were quite shocked Wednesday to learn that SNP would close shop after suffering a defacement by someone claiming to be Kimble/YIHAT. The defaced page ridicules SNP's own security and obsesses on the injustice of their raking in cash for security services. Fine, except that SNP sells nothing; and fine, except that the site is hosted and its owners are therefore not in complete control of its defenses. But other than that, the defacer is a real oracle of security wisdom. "Hacked by Kimble of YIHAT," the defacer announces. "Hello, world!" he adds, indicating at least a programming-101 comic awareness, and then goes on to denounce SNP in the manner indicated above for several long, dull paragraphs. This made no sense to us, since calling bullshit on SNP's security would only remind us of how Fluffi(y) Bunni(y) recently humiliated Kimble and his YIHAT leet guardians by defacing his shameless vanity site; so we contacted Kimble and SNP Editor Marquis Grove with our doubts. Kimble hasn't replied, and we think we can guess why; but Marq told us in no uncertain terms that "the defacement of our Web site was not done by Kimble." "The defacer hopes that by signing the defacement with Kimble's name and giving all his contact and Web site addresses, Kimble will be put on the flaming end of indignant users," he reckons. As for the decision to pull the plug on SNP, Marq considers it the ultimate trump. Rather than see his host plagued by k1dd10ts, he's simply removed the target. No target, no phun. Bugger. A Legend in his own Mind Who is this Kimble, anyway? He has a Web site devoted to his aggrandizement as an obscenely spoilt fat bastard with money to burn. He even hired a model who'd posed in Playboy to pretend to be attracted to him as he squired a cluster of pals around the Caribbean in a rented yacht he hopes we'll think he owns. He likes to be photographed in proximity to helicopters and private jets and fast cars and pretty sluts, and he litters his site with enormously too many pictures illustrating this appetite. He's established a legend of his hacking proficiency based on a little fact interlarded with a lot of juicy bits taken from media accounts and movies, as this article mirrored by attrition makes painfully clear. He's claimed to organize a leet squad of cyber ninjas called YIHAT who would penetrate the nether-world of on-line terrorism via their gay shell accounts. He's claimed that his YIHAT guard have penetrated the /bin/laden financial lair, but he's offered not one shred of proof. "I want to see some proof of these hacks," InfoSec News Editor William Knowles says. He issued a challenge to Kimble back on 11 October to cough some of it up. "I think this hack into the AlShamal Islamic Bank is a complete crock of shit, and I am calling on Kim Schmitz: Show us the proof on this!" As of today, Knowles hasn't heard word one from YIHAT or its fatboy founder. And we're far from surprised. But Kimble persists in trading on myth: "YIHAT, founded to acquire and coordinate a team of hackers with the goal of eliminating the electronic foundations of terrorist activities worldwide, has successfully completed the first phase of its mission: The team has reached the projected strength and has gathered a sufficient amount of information to launch the second phase of the YIHAT operation, which is to monitor, infiltrate and take control of the information infrastructure used by or supporting terrorists," the team of IRC kiddies claims, adding, ominously, that "YIHAT moves to the underground." It really is touching how they ape cDc's deliciously self-mocking humor: "You have never seen us, but you may have felt our wrath. We operate in the bitter darkness outside the known channels. We slink like cats along the fringes, spreading the power and propaganda of the Cow wherever we are. "We have mastered, one and all, the power of digital chi; we have been deeply indoctrinated into its devastating offensive capabilities, and we can strike, suddenly and mercilessly, without even moving a finger. Our minds, bodies, and black clad keyboards are under our total control: our every movement, thought, and keypress are choreographed more perfectly than a classical ballet, and all have deadly purpose. "We are capable of disguising our true purpose to such a degree that it is no longer expressible in words. We have eyebeams. We can strike out with such power as to crumble the sham defenses of any but the most stringent master of cow fu. Our hands contain the power and wisdom of the ancients, our hearts their unblinking vision." Beautifully written. Only Kimble is trying to sell this hokum as straight news. KimVestor Fatboy has an investment fund, too. It isn't registered, of course, because it's a Ponzi scam. You just know he's paying dividends out of the investments of fresh dupes. You can just smell it. Now it seems he's up to his eyeballs in debts like any free-spending charlatan, and his shares in KimVestor are about to be seized to address them. It also appears that his shares are going to be woefully inadequate to satisfy his creditors, according to German financial news outfit TeleBourse. Here's what BabelFish makes of it: "The appointed Internet Kroesus Kim Schmitz, whose Kimvestor AG is worth 200 million euro according to own specification approximately, is before the from. How the anlegermagazin reports the TELEBOERSE in its current output (Thursday), first of the three participation of the Kimvestor AG, the TUEV Dataprotect GmbH, placed an insolvency request. In the passed days one dispatched the Schmitz creditor, so the TELEBOERSE, who had waited some months long in vain for a payment of several hundredthousand Marks, erstrittene before court, to Schmitz a seizing resolution for the shares of the Kimvestor AG held by it. Whether the remaining value of the Kimvestor participation in the mega Car and the Money bank are sufficient for the payment of the Schmitz debts, by Bankern one doubt, is called it in the report." Here's what I make of it: Pyramid scam. ® Related Link Kimble & YIHAT Morons Threaten Attrition
Thomas C Greene, 25 Oct 2001

SecurityNews Portal shutters site

SecurityNewsPortal is shutting up shop after a defacement brought down its site yesterday. A notice on the site, which runs on a Linux platform, said its volunteers has no desire to rebuild the site only for it to be defaced again. It added that they were not personally in control of the site's security, which is outsourced to a commercial hosting firm. "Since we are not able to fully secure this web site there is no reason to re-open the site for a return defacement by this person," said a statement on the site. In an ironic twist SecurityNewsPortal was defaced in the name of Yihat, the hackers against terrorism group, which earlier this week stopped maintaining its Kill.net Web site, which it said had become more trouble than it was worth because of repeated DDoS attacks. The defacement of SecurityNewsPortal accuses the site of "attempting to profit off the security community, without actually being a part of it". SecurityNewsPortal staff say the site was run as a volunteer project and on a shoestring but managed to provide a valuable resource for the security community. Its staffers firmly denied allegations of profiteering contained in the defacement. Yihat is yet to respond to requests for comment on the defacement. ® Related Stories: Tables turns on Bin Laden 'bank crackers' href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/archive/21966.html">We've cracked into bin Laden's bank - UK hackers
John Leyden, 25 Oct 2001

FAST ROI: InterX Net2020

Return on Interest is the latest tech magazine phenomenon in the US. At a time of folding titles and staff cutbacks, two magazines have launched recently in the States, joining Computerworld's ROI. We thought we'd get in on the act. In the UK, Bloor Research, a partner of The Register and owner of the IT-Director.com and IT-Analysis.com web sites, is an longstanding practitioner of ROI analysis. By way of experiment we are republishing a http://www.it-director.com/fast_roi_home.php">Fast ROI report from Bloor. Depending on your feedback we may republish more. We are kicking off with InterX, a British company, quoted on the London stock market, which transformed itself from a computer distribution business, into a purveyor of a big content management systems (far too expensive for us, but used by Silicon.com and CW360.com). InterX is attempting once again to transform itself and its prospects with a product called Net2020. Here is what IT-Director has to say. Company Name: InterX Classification: Web integration, portals The Product/Service: InterX Net2020 This is a software product that enables multiple disparate web applications to be combined into a "single view" portal - known as a netHome. The netHome is integrated with other online business applications through the use of HTTP and HTTPS protocols and a tagging language. This ensures that any combination of internal and external web sites and services, known as netFriends, can be brought together. The whole Net2020 solution comes with a collection of tools for building and managing the solutions as well as metrics and reporting tools for keeping track of the integrated services. The key to the capabilities for Net2020 is that it appears the netFriends and behaves as an ordinary browser. It is then able to deliver the content on a variety of wireless, digital and online channels. The Business Opportunities Enable successful online partnering by rebranding, repurposing and repackaging content and transactions from third-party partner sites. Rapid integration of business units as a result of mergers or other operational change. Reduce costs of sales systematically by integrating and tuning call centre and web selling processes. The Business Benefits increase business control from accurate multi-channel management information. Improved customer satisfaction through consistent user interfaces, single login process and choice of client devices. Increased revenue from customers with stronger cross-selling opportunities, greater brand recognition and better understanding if user activity. Savings from reuse of existing web applications, centralised management and reduced fragmentation Time to Implement The expected implementation time is of the order of two months. This is possible because it builds a framework around existing applications and services and so the requirement is to build the forms and interfaces that can bring these all together into a single consolidated view. Mostly, these tasks will be relatively easy. The only potential time delay would come with very complex integration requirements that demand the development of EJB components. In-House Requirements Net2020 is, in effect, a code-free solution. The only requirement for code would be if a very complex interface needed to be developed and this might require access to Java components. In most cases these will already exist and can be referenced. Therefore, the only requirements for a Net2020 solution would be to able to design and pull together the portal environment for multiple web applications. InterX does need a Sun platform upon which to run Net2020. Entry Costs The typical entry cost is of the order of £100k. Estimated Payback Some of the payback comes from intangible sources such as improved customer satisfaction and increased lifetime or reduced maintenance of web applications. The evidence so far is that the resulting improved online experience is helping to migrate more buying activity online thereby reducing call centre costs. The netHome becomes the packaging for the corporate solution and so branding issues, look and feel and the business logic can be held within the portal. This saves the effort being directed to older solutions that may be more difficult or riskier to change. The integration of applications brings payback in two ways. Firstly, the consolidation of user control and access as well as the centralisation of content and data brings about a significant reduction in the costs of management and administration. There are also efficiency improvements that come from the integrated environment. The other payback comes from the increased opportunities for selling or promotion. Simply by combining information from multiple sources within the portal single view, it is possible to provide users with opportunities to buy related products or to up-sell. InterX has a reference customer, MORE TH>N from Royal & SunAlliance, which is generating £100k of extra profit per month through the use of a Net2020 portal. The key sources of payback at MORE TH>N are: A rapid shift of buying activity from the call centre to online The fact that click-to-call (now on every page of the site) is capturing buyers who would have otherwise abandoned completely The impact of rapid decisions on what to promote and how to tune online advertising/bought-in content costs - thanks to new and comprehensive management information. Customers MORE TH>N from Royal & SunAlliance Competitors Bowstreet; web programming toolkits Analyst Comment Anything that integrates disparate applications or information is going to provide rapid payback. In this case, that payback should be easy to achieve simply because the effort required to develop the Net2020 solution is relatively small. With an entry cost of around £100,000 and with an allowance for two months worth of education and services, we can probably put a realistic estimate of £250,000 on the actual cost of a corporate implementation. That may sound a lot but, compared to the original costs of developing the web applications, this is quite reasonable. What is more, InterX is allowing businesses to maintain their investments in these very expensive web applications and services by extending their lives and incorporating them into a dynamic environment. Suddenly, business change does not have to cost a fortune in application changes. The other opportunities come with the ability to link applications together into new business logic. This ensures that customers get a better view of products on offer and can see related information and make better-informed purchases. Better-informed customers are usually happy customers who are willing to part with their money. MORE TH>N has already proved this concept. Finally, the cost savings associated with consolidation and integration don't really need to be explained. It's cheaper! So, mix costs savings with increased sales opportunities, dynamic business change with intuitive interfaces and you get a responsive business with happy customers. ROI is definitely there but will it be fast? Almost certainly. © IT-Director.com. All rights reserved.
IT-Director.com, 25 Oct 2001

Win-XP buying intentions: You the Jury

Reg Reader ResearchReg Reader Research Between the end of September and the beginning of October, Reg Reader Research and Tom's MetaFacts Forum conducted an online study among 597 Forum members, split 69 per cent professional respondents and 31 per cent private respondents. Here's what you have to say about Windows XP - out on October 25. According to panel members, there is still a long way to go in order to clearly convince potential users to switch to Windows XP. Even with the very high proportion of Windows Office users among respondents, two thirds are not likely to switch their current office product to Office XP in the foreseeable future. The same trend is true on the side of the operating system. However opinions differentiate significantly among respondents, depending on their professional and private background. (Click here for more info on our categories of respondents) Early Adopters are most ready to switch and this is especially true for the operating system. This group is followed by Young Potentials, relatively open to the new Windows generation. As opposed to those two groups, established IT managers and corporate executives with higher level of responsibility are less likely to switch to XP. Overall the IT Experts - in our categorisation this group has the most technical perspective - are least likely to switch. The higher the decision-making level and the higher the technical involvement, the less likely our Panel respondents are to switch. This is true for both Office XP software and the Windows XP operating system. The XP "switchers" among the respondents, can be described as open minded and interested in innovations, rather strongly influenced by economic and business news (compared to the rest of the respondents, they see a bigger gap to normality in the IT situation due to the US events and they feel more influenced in their purchasing behaviour by the HP- Compaq merger). Simultaneously, they are rather optimistic when it comes to chances for the future IT market and do believe a little bit stronger in the future of e-business sector. US respondents are more likely to switch to WinXP than respondents from other countries. What does this mean for Microsoft? So should Microsoft be gloomy? We don't think so. When Windows XP was first announced earlier this year, great optimism was expressed in its ability to kickstart sales in consumer and corporate sectors alike. But gloomy economic conditions are changing this assumption. It is worth pointing out that the immediate fate of Windows XP in the consumer sector, is intimately tied to sales of PCs. New PCs will come bundled with Windows XP, and old PCs - certainly anything older than a year - will probably require upgrading if they are to operate Windows XP satisfactorily. So this product is not going to fly off retail shelves, in the manner of Windows 95. In the corporate sector, especially bigger companies with MS enterprise licences, the fate of WinXP is tied to rolling hardware and software upgrade programmes. The corporate sector is usually slower to upgrade to new Microsoft desktop operating software than consumers. But as sure as eggs are eggs, users end up with MS software on their PCs. Windows XP will be no different. ® What Now You want to join us for our adventure in market research? Then click here and we'll tell you more. If you want to talk commercial, Metafact's Hans Schmolke is your man.
Drew Cullen, 25 Oct 2001

Euro Teen Sluts take on Ernst & Young

An educational Web site run by Ernst & Young has been replaced by a XXX porn site featuring "165,000 Barely Legal Teen Movies", the global professional services company admitted yesterday. Its popular Moneyopolis game site - which is designed to improve numeracy and financial skills of students - has been available at moneyopolis.com and moneyopolis.org since 1998. However, while the game can still be found at its .com URL, the .org domain hosts a completely different educational experience. Although details are still a bit sketchy, it appears that sometime during the summer Ernst & Young lost control of the .org domain. According to records, moneyopolis.com was (re-)registered in July this year by Ernst & Young. Moneyopolis.org, on the other hand, was registered in June 2001 to a Mr Dave Web, based in Yerevan, Armenia. The URL also appears to be up for sale. Moneyopolis.org hosts Euro Teen Sluts and is available in four languages. In a statement Ernst & Young said: "It has come to the firm's attention that the moneyopolis.org URL, which has been outside of Ernst & Young's control for several months, has been converted by an independent 'Web developer' into a pornographic site." Ernst & Young is warning parents and teachers to ensure they access the correct site and to change any bookmarks they might have for the .org site. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Oct 2001

‘WinXP beefs up security’ story goes viral on Web

Early-rising news junkies may have noticed a curious wave of 'WinXP beefs up PC security' stories creeping across the web, and no doubt spreading into the public prints. They may also have noted how curiously similar they are; but as Reuters, the source, doesn't figure on our good friend Mark Murray's list of "timed" XP story partners, we must presume the stories' appearance is entirely coincidental, no matter how helpful its message is to Microsoft on this, the big day. The story itself covers XP's built-in Internet Connection Firewall (ICF), which has been known about for quite some while, and therefore is not what you'd call a news story as far as the specialist IT press is concerned. Or indeed as far as news in general is concerned, but the hook for the Reuters piece is that old standby, "analysts say." If analysts can be induced to comment (phone them up, kid) on something that is no longer news, then voila, it's news again, and timely as well, given the date. For what it's worth, the analysts say ICF is probably pretty handy for home users, but that corporate customers will likely stay with separate products. So what happens next? Well, once Reuters has done the story the outfits that license Reuters news stories can pick it up and publish it. Under these circumstances the story itself frequently/usually goes up verbatim, but the sub editors will give it a scan, figure out its punchiest points, and try to get that in the headline. So you can see how this sort of thing can make a spinmeister deeply happy, at very little expense - get the right rock into the right pool, and the ripples roll everywhere. Wire service stories aren't generally given a great deal of focus by the editorial hierarchy either, so the chances of somebody stepping in and saying, 'Is this news?' are minimised. In this particular case, we've a couple of samples for you. We have: Windows XP includes beefed-up security Windows XP includes security add-ons Microsoft beefs up security in Windows XP All good stuff, and all perfectly above board. Everybody's doing their job, and the message Microsoft wants to get over, gets over. It's just the way things work, OK? But we know what you still want to know, now you've read all these - is ICF actually any good? The Reg has yet to point the sometimes sinister Thomas C Greene at it looking for holes, but it does appear that ICF has some utility. It's a one-way firewall which blocks traffic from outside, so it'll be a godsend for newbies happily connecting their XP PCs to DSL. It doesn't block outgoings, so if you get a trojan you're still in trouble. It'll also make you more likely to get into trouble if you fall for spin that implies you're invulnerable with XP, so now you don't have to care. There's a pretty good run-down of it here, if you'd like to find out more. ® Related Stories: Leaked MS email reveals WinXP, Xbox launch spin plans
John Lettice, 25 Oct 2001

L&H struck dumb

A Belgian court, which refused to extend its protection from creditors, has declared Lernout & Hauspie bankrupt. Ieper Commercial Court Judge Michel Handschoewerker dismissed L&H's recovery plan as "nothing more than a liquidation plan that kept the company artificially alive without restoring its fiscal health", Associated Press reports. The court has appointed five administrators to take over management of the firm and oversee the disposal of its assets, now estimated to be worth only $20 million. Its unclear what the effects of the Belgian court judgement will have on the bankruptcy protection L&H has been given in the US, where its second headquarters are located. L&H's problems began with an accounting scandal that revolved around overstates sales figures for its Asian operations. This prompted government investigations in the United States and Belgium. It was once Europe's second biggest software company. ® Related Stories L&H lays off 1200 staff L&H files for Chapter 11 L&H subpoenaed by SEC
John Leyden, 25 Oct 2001

Apple iPod redux

ReviewReview Well, we finally got our mitts on an Apple's iPod last night. Just for a short time, you understand, while the company's staff were looking the other way, but enough to get a feel for what the new MP3 player is capable of - and what it isn't. Some readers will recall our initial scepticism about the device. There are more capacious, cheaper products out there, we said, and Apple is launching its product into a market that if not yet well established, isn't exactly cutting edge either. We thought that iPod isn't exactly innovatory, and doesn't live up to the "breakthrough" tagline the company applied to the device in pre-launch publicity material. Having held the small, cigarette pack-sized gadget in our hands, we're still not sure about how successful Apple's strategy will be and we certainly haven't been persuaded that it's something insanely great, to borrow Apple CEO Steve Jobs' favourite phrase. But we have to admit that it is a dashed fine machine, and even if the price tag is high, it's arguably best portable MP3 player on the market today. Behind the dial First, a quick recap of the specifications is in order. iPod contains a 5GB hard drive, which is less capacious than that offered by rival products, from Archos and Creative Labs, but enough, says Apple, for around 1000 four-minute songs compressed at MP3's 160Kbps rate, though we use 192Kbps. At a rough guess, that would give use room for around 800 songs, which is still plenty. The drive as a 1.8in unit, believed to have been made by Toshiba or Fujitsu, though Apple wouldn't comment on the source. The iPod contains 32MB of playback buffer memory, which allows it to load up 20 minutes of music ahead of playback to ensure there's no skipping. And, yes, we did give it a good old shake to make sure. We can't say we've taken it jogging, but playback was very smooth and jitter-free. It sounds good too. iPod has a built-in amplifier which gives a nice, warm sound that's neither excessively bass nor overly-treble as per many players without a bass-boost circuit. We haven't conducted extensive listening trials - we're an IT site, after all, not a hi-fi rag - but to these ears it sounded better than the Rio we've used in the past and, according to other journos present, much better than the Archos. We didn't try the "earbud-style headphones with 18mm drivers using Neodymium transducer magnets", but one of our colleagues in the hi-fi press told us we should be fairly impressed. We were impressed with the 160x128 backlit LCD, which is a darn sight sharper and shows more information than all the MP3 players we've looked at. Combine it with the iPod's selection wheel, and we found we could easily select songs, adjust the device's settings (sleep time and so on) and pump up the volume all one-handed. Incidentally, if the device dozes off during playback, it will pick the song up again when you power up. And there's a 'hold' switch to prevent inadvertent pauses, fast-forwards and power downs.   The iPod is powered by a built-in rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery capable of ten hours' playback on a single charge. Free of many of the nasty chemicals contained in more traditional power cells, the iPod's battery doesn't require heavy metal shielding, which is one of ways Apple has got the weight down to 6.5oz (185g). FireWire Talk of the battery brings us to the one feature that really puts iPod head, shoulders, heck ankles above the crowd: the IEEE 1394 connection. Now this is innovative. The FireWire cable not only provides exceptional fast music transfers - we moved over 50 songs onto the device in a matter of seconds; the USB connections of all other players take a lot longer - but doubles up as a power supply, recharging the iPod's battery for as long as it's connected to the host Mac. You can recharge the iPod with its standalone adaptor, but this Palm-style approach - and, when its coupled with the automatic music collection synchronisation feature, you see just how Palm's HotSync concept has influenced the design of iPod - is far more straightforward. We like it. Mac only Now while 1394 is widespread on modern Macs, it's not to common on Windows machines - though XP may change this. Even if you have a 1394 port, you won't be able to hook up an iPod, at least not as an MP3 unit - you may be able to use it as an external hard drive, just as you can under the Mac OS. Music transfer - automatic or otherwise; en masse, or individual playlists - is provided solely through Apple's music management and playback app, iTunes, and a new version of it at that. iTunes isn't available for Windows (or Linux, for that matter) and isn't likely to be for some time, though we're sure enterprising coders will get around that soon enough - iPod is really just an external hard drive, after all. Exclusive... Apple's reasoning here is that it wants to provide the best products for its own Mac user base - which it imagines it can boost by offering kit that doesn't work with anything else.        iPiracy? In the post-Napster era, you might wonder why a company like Apple, as plugged into content-creation industries as it is, would be willing to attach its name to the controversial MP3 audio format. Oldies may be less interested, but MP3 is big with the kids, and Apple is keen to encourage new generations of computer buyers to choose Macintosh. MP3 is popular because it's compact and makes swapping and sharing music easy. So does iPod. With its capacity to hold around 1000 songs, all of which can be installed on the player in around ten minutes, it could be seen as a copier's dream. Upload 150 CDs worth of songs then download them to another Mac in another ten minutes. That certainly seem possible with the pre-release version of iTunes 2 we looked at, but since Steve Jobs hinted that such duplication may be made impossible, we wonder if the ability to copy MP3 files back off the iPod will be removed from the shipping version. Either that or some sort of watermark will be added to the files to ensure they can only be used with the source Mac. Apple has made no such announcement officially, so we'll just have to see. In any case, Apple will continue to rely on the old argument first used by the consumer electronics when they introduced domestic tape-recording equipment: we're not responsible for what buyers do with our product. If it works for Sony et al, it should work for Apple, which now adds the words 'Don't steal music' to all iTunes and iPod-related documentation.   That plan might make sense if it was the only product of its kind, but it isn't. And we find it hard to imagine someone deciding whether to go Mac or PC on the basis of the availability of a $399/£329 MP3 player. Surely the price is enough to maintain the level of exclusivity Apple clearly wants to project? And as for offering a superior, more integrated and intuitive experience on the Mac OS than on Windows, well it's not hard to provide a feature-limited version of iTunes for users of the Microsoft product. After all, if Apple is sufficiently keen that Windows users choose QuickTime that it makes its multimedia software available on other platforms, why not do the same with a product that can actually make the company money? ... and expensive We still feel the device is expensive, though we reckon that more music fans the we thought at first will be willing to pay the extra for the rapid file transfer speed, the compact size and low weight. In fact, the weight is sufficiently close to solid-state players that Apple could also win business away from the likes of Rio by touting the iPod's capacity. It would cost a lot more than $399 to give a Rio 5GB worth of Flash cards. In short, iPod is a very competitive product. But for the price, we can't see why a Mac owner would choose any other MP3 player. Windows users, however, can't even vote for the Apple product if they want to. It's a difficult balance to strike. Is it better to promote your brand (and drive computer sales) through an exclusive, integrated product line, or seek to widen your appeal by offering distinct but mass-market products that draw attention to your PCs? In short, do you want to be Bang & Olufsen or Sony? The Mac-only approach taken with iPod - and Apple's LCD display line - suggests Apple has the former in mind. The saga of the Cube, however, shows that it doesn't always work. But we don't think iPod will be Apple's second Cube - it's a lot easier to decide to buy an expensive but feature-packed MP3 player than an expensive and under-powered designer PC. We like iPod, and we think a lot of other Mac users are going to too. ® iPod will ship in the US and Europe late November. The US price is $399, the UK price is £329 Related Stories Apple pops iPod Intel kit took iPOD name before Apple's did
Tony Smith, 25 Oct 2001

Orange: revenues up, shares down

Orange has seen its revenues jump 29 per cent in the nine months to September, year-on-year, and is now the market leader for mobiles in the UK and France. That hasn't stopped its share price falling just under three per cent this morning though. Some people are so hard to please. The Orange group, owned by France Telecom, made £6.9 billion in first nine months and £2.4 billion in Q3. That's an increase of 29 and 24 per cent respectively. It says the average revenue it makes per user has stabilised (although we're not entirely sure this is a good thing) and that it is pulling more customers onto contracts (which is a good thing). So why isn't everyone delirious? Well, because while revenues are shooting up and profit has trebled and Orange has more customers that ever before, the company is still making a fat loss - albeit a smaller fat loss each time. And of course it is sitting on a huge £3.8 billion debt mountain thanks to 3G licences. We're not entirely sure how France Telecom likes to play this results game. Usually companies like to wait under the end of their financial quarter and then put everything out at once but it was only last month that Orange's profits were announced - and that was only after a leak of the results a week before. Now we have the revenues. Who knows what next month. Also today, France Telecom has seen its share price fall 7.3 per cent. Funny, because it initially went up slightly when its results were released. Revenues were in line with expectations, we are assured by those in the know. It made £19.8 billion in the nine months to September (up 31.9 per cent on last year). France Telecom chairman Michel Bon said: "The growth of telecommunications services remains sustained in the European market. France Telecom continues to advance at a fast pace in the most promising sectors of this market... I am pleased to note that the increase in our revenues positions France Telecom among the top-performing operators in Europe. We are number two in the European wireless market with Orange, number three in the Internet activity with Wanadoo and Freeserve, and a global leader in services for businesses with Equant." While we're here, Graham Howe, Orange's CFO said: "These are strong results, confirming Orange's lead positioning in France and the UK and our ability to drive usage and revenues, focusing particularly on higher value customers." Anyway, some facts and figures for Orange: it is making a £314 million loss on a revenue of £2.4 billion. It has, in total across the world, 37.1 million customers. In the UK, it added 320,000 new customers, of which 68 per cent are on a contract. The French and UK arms account for 81 per cent of its business (46 and 35 per cent respectively), although it is now looking at infiltrating the Spanish market by buying a share in a Spanish mobile operator. ® Related Stories Orange triples its profit France Telecom forced to release Orange results early
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Oct 2001

Content key to broadband success

Content is the key driver to making broadband Internet services a mass market product, according to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). Yesterday it launched an awareness campaign, Positively Broadband, in which it called for a new "positive, competitive national agenda on broadband". The ITAA believes that with more than seven out of ten US households able to hook up to broadband Internet services if they wish (currently, around one in ten households has a broadband Internet connection) the availability of broadband is no longer a barrier to growth. Instead, it warns that with little compelling content online there's little incentive for consumers to upgrade to broadband. "It's the content, stupid," said ITAA president, Harris N Miller. "We are going to have to give consumers better reasons for purchasing broadband service - better than faster email and Web surfing," he said. As well as content, the ITAA wants to promote a greater awareness about broadband with the adoption of applications and services such as teleworking, e-education, telemedicine and e-government. "Expecting consumers to buy broadband services without compelling new reasons why is like opening a new sports stadium and expecting a crowd - but not scheduling any games," said Mr Miller. "You can build it, but they will not come," he said. The ITAA's stand mirrors similar calls in the UK. Earlier this year cablecos NTL and Telewest teamed up to promote broadband as part of a national advertising campaign. Separately, Telewest's blueyonder high-speed Net service recently launched improved content for broadband users. BT has also begun marketing its services and has made a commitment to providing broadband content in a handful of key areas such as games and music. And only last week, NTL called for a "new, bold initiative" from Government on broadband. Focusing on education, Bill Goodland, NTL's director of Internet said: "[We need] to educate the public about the benefits of broadband, to increase education in broadband skills of all kinds to consumers and those broadband content creators, and finally, to ensure that students at every school, college and university in this country have the opportunity to use broadband to enhance their studies." However, in the UK at least there are still some who believe the cost of broadband services is too high and that lack of availability still remains an impediment to take-up. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Oct 2001

Sony's results are pony

Sony's games division has made its first profit since the PlayStation 2 arrived last year. But overall the company made a surprise Q2 loss due to price slides for components and products. For the three months to 30 September the company reported a group loss of 13.2 billion yen ($110 million), compared with a profit of 18.7 billion yen ($150 million) a year earlier. According to Bloomberg, analysts had expected Sony to sneak a profit of 650 million yen ($5.27 million). Q2 sales rose 6 per cent to 1.79 trillion yen ($14.52 billion). Sony still expects to hit its full-year forecast of profits of 10 billion yen ($81.2 million) on sales of 7.5 trillion yen ($60.88 billion). Sony's electronics business dropped seven per cent on last year for the period. PCs and display sales dropped but phones and PDA business saw the info and communications division scrape a revenue rise of 1.6 per cent to 301.3 billion yen ($2,532 million). Chip sales were down 25 per cent to 45.1 billion yen ($379 million), and component sales dropped eight per cent to 137.3 billion yen ($1,154 million) because of CD-R/RW and CRT doing badly. Games business for Q2 was up by 83 per cent on the period a year earlier. The Playstation operation had an operating profit of 4.1 billion yen ($34 million) compared with a loss of 2.9 billion yen ($23.55 million) in the year-ago period. ®
Robert Blincoe, 25 Oct 2001

AMD, Intel to meet in court

AMD is trying to boost the European Commission's anti-trust investigation into Intel by bringing documents relating to anti-trust allegations made against the chip giant in the US available to the EC probe. On 1 October, AMD filed a suit in the San Jose District Court seeking the release to EC investigators of expert witness testimonies presented to the court during Intergraph's anti-trust and patent violation action against Intel. Integraph alleged that Intel was refusing to disclose essential technical details regarding its processors to companies that had challenged it at any time. However, that claim was rejected by the court two years ago. Still, reckons AMD, the testimony Intergraph used to argue its case could be useful to EC anti-trust officials investigating anti-comptetion allegations made against Intel by... er... AMD in October 2000. "We believe many of the issues in the Intergraph case were similar to the questions under investigation by the EC," said an AMD spokesmand, according to EBN. "Specifically, AMD believes that Intel as a de facto monopoly is obligated to provide specifications to the market on certain key interfaces. As a monopoly, Intel uses its power to decide how its (external) interface specifications will be disclosed and to whom. Intel uses its anticompetitive actions to dictate who will succeed in the market or who won't." Intel, not surprisingly, isn't impressed, and is resisting AMD's demands. It believes the documents are not relevant and that AMD has no right to ask for them to be transferred to an overseas authority - that's something the EC itself must do. Intel also says the AMD complaint has no merit. Intel and AMD lawyers will meet in the San Jose District Court - Judge William A Ingram presiding - on 12 November. ® Related Link EBN: Intel and AMD battle over antitrust documents
Tony Smith, 25 Oct 2001

Matsushita, Hitachi back NEC ,Toshiba DRAM dumping charge

It looks like NEC and Toshiba - now joined by Mitsubishi and Hitachi - will indeed make an official complaint to Japan's trade authorities that Korean memory makers Samsung and Hynix are dumping memory in Japan. NEC and Toshiba admitted earlier this week that they were considering making such a complaint, which claims Hynix and Samsung are selling DRAM in Japan for less than it costs them to produce. A month or so back, Micron said it was considering making a similar complaint to the US government. Samsung and Hynix have both denied the charge, claiming that their accuses charge as little for memory in Japan as they do. NEC, Toshiba, Hitachi and Matsushita will presumably respond that they are simply following a trend established by their Korean rivals. However, the onus is certainly on the four Japanese companies to provide sufficient evidence for the authorities under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance to commence an official investigation of the Koreans' pricing and whether the four lost money specifically as a result of it. ® Related Stories NEC, Toshiba moot anti-Hynix, anti-dumping complaints Hynix bail-out plan sets Micron a-grumbling
Tony Smith, 25 Oct 2001

Salmon Dazed: FishNet re-stocking

Well that was fun: the Web site for our new vidstrip, SalmonDays, has crashed under the weight of enormous human traffic. Our suppliers were taken aback by the interest and are busily restoring the service. Sorry about that: but if there wasn't a technical hitch at the launch it wouldn't be The Register. The servers are being upgraded as we speak. Normal service will be resumed Saturday. In the meantime, please bear with us. ®
Drew Cullen, 25 Oct 2001

Big Brother Award nomination for WPA, Passport pains MS

Microsoft Austria has reacted with horror, pain and angst to the company's nomination for this year's Austrian Big Brother Awards, and has asked for the nomination to be withdrawn. But the begging email it sent to the organisers merely seems to have drawn more attention to the nomination - the awards themselves take place tomorrow, and are bound to rain on somebody's parade. The Big Brother Awards are run under the umbrella of Privacy International, but separate awards processes take place in several different countries. Austria, Switzerland and Germany are scheduled for tomorrow, 26th October, but the latter two don't seem to have released their nomination lists yet. Austria however has nominated Microsoft in the Business and Finance category for an "unprecedented attempt to win complete control over its customers." Sounds fair enough to us. But the nomination goes on to cite "mandatory registration" for XP, and for the "almost unlimited surveillance potential of Passport." A pained Microsoft Austria spokesman, Thomas Lutz, promptly emailed Awards organiser Hans Zeger protesting that Windows Product Activation (WPA) wasn't registration, and (at some length) that Passport conformed to strict data protection and privacy guidelines. He requested that the nomination be withdrawn, or the claims proved. Zeger sportingly published the email, here (in German), and retorted that as regards WPA, people's consumer rights were being infringed by the obligation to use WPA, while it is the potential for Passport privacy infringement that is of concern. He could also have pointed out(we don't think he did, but our German's not up to it) that the distinction between Activation and Registration is an entirely Microsoft-manufactured one. Sure, Microsoft doesn't get any personal data on you, sure it doesn't know about your hardware, but it does have a logged tag on your machine, which is registered in Microsoft's database. Are we missing something? Anyway, there the matter rests, there seems to be talk of a meeting between Lutz and Zeger where we presume Lutz will get chewed up some more, and the awards go ahead tomorrow. ® Related links: The nomination list
John Lettice, 25 Oct 2001

Cisco shakes up distribution strategy

UpdatedUpdated Cisco has announced a shake up in its distribution strategy in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) which means many of its disties will no longer deal with product procurement, effectively demoting their status. After February 2002, Cisco's Western European wholesalers are organised into two tiers: seven Cisco Distribution Partners (CDPs), which have a direct purchasing relationship with the company; and 10 Cisco Authorised Distributors (CADs), which have a relationship with Cisco but procure kit from a CDP. The seven CDPs are: Acal, Algol, Azlan, Comstor, Ingram Micro, PC Lan and Techdata/C2000 (so all UK disties have become CDPs). The remaining 40 distributors in E-EMEA (Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will continue with the current distribution contracts until Cisco implements its new strategy (CDPs and CADs) in those regions. Cisco has 28,000 resellers in EMEA. Cisco said the purpose of the changes was to maximise the efficiency of its 2-tier channel model, and increase the availability of product to end-users while reducing the costs for its distribution partners. ® Update Based on an ambiguous Cisco Power Point presentation, we earlier reported that Cisco's 57 wholesalers had been culled down to 17. This is incorrect because the 40 distributors not mentioned are still working with Cisco (although their status [CDP or CAD] in the new set-up is yet to be decided). Rather than talking about a cull it is more accurate to say that a number of Cisco wholesalers (those with a lesser competency in logistics and inventory management) have been demoted. Related Stories Azlan in reverse profits warning Ingram UK back in Cisco distribution biz C2000 parades financial welly in system builder market Channel faces cash crisis
John Leyden, 25 Oct 2001

Be Palms $1.135m in Q3 revenue

With Be's anticipated acquisition by Palm casting such a shadow over the operating system developer for the last couple of months, you wouldn't expect the company to have made much money during its most recently completed quarter, and you'd be right - it didn't. Be's accounts for the three months to 30 September record revenues of $1.135 million, but since that's "primarily attributable" to "revenue-related consulting services" charged to Palm, we're not sure it counts. Nevertheless, it makes Q3 2001 Be's best so far and accounts for 72 per cent of the money the company made during the past nine months. Charging Palm over a million dollars for its pre-acquisition due diligence is an impressive business model. Essentially, its funding to keep Be running in the period before shareholders meet to decide whether to accept the Be board's recommendation and vote for Palm's acquisition of Be's assets and the liquidation of what's left. That meeting will take place on 12 November. Be also reported it lost nine cents a share for the period, down from last quarter's ten cents a share and the year-ago quarter's 12 cents a share. Like the revenue figure, these numbers are essentially meaningless given that Be is likely to be wound down. Or is it? Be's management is stressing the need to vote for both resolutions - the sale and, separately, the dissolution - which suggests that they fear shareholder apathy will kill the deal. We can't see stakeholders getting much value out of their shares if the Palm deal doesn't go ahead, but enough users are cross about the imminent demise of the Be OS, that they might just try and sabotage the deal. Perhaps then Palm should decide what it's going to do with BeOS - and say so publicly. Our vote goes to the folk who want to open source it all. ® Related Link The official Save BeOS Petition can be found here (though, like us, you may have a job getting onto it)
Tony Smith, 25 Oct 2001

WinXP on the wall, who's the most incompatible of them all?

Owners of the new shiny Windows XP operating system will be disappointed if they try to play another new shiny product - Disney's re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on DVD. The company that created the DVD standard for linking content to the Web, InterActual, has posted a warning on its support site saying that the Snow White DVD simply will not run on Windows 2000 or XP. "Some users that have newer systems with Windows 2000 or XP installed may experience playability failures with the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs DVD. The Walt Disney Company and the Microsoft Corporation are jointly addressing this matter, and expect to provide a resolution for consumers shortly," the post reads. InterActual told CNet news that it's not its technology that is clashing with the OSes and that the DVD runs fine on Windows 98. It seems as though Disney simply didn't test the DVD with either 2000 or XP. Which is a bit stupid considering Microsoft is spending most of the week hyping XP as the saviour of the world. It's really out of Microsoft's hands and Disney, keen not to drop the gun on its other foot, is claiming a patch will be ready by the end of this week. Which, considering the company has known about the problem for at least a fortnight, may not end up being 100 per cent true. For those that are trying to remember the story of Snow White, she was a lovely looking lady who lived with a nasty stepmother but the animals liked her and would do the housework. The Queen (it was a monarchy), had a talking mirror whose specialised subject was beauty (we never found out if its knowledge extended beyond this). As such, the Queen, a vain but saucy woman, kept asking it who was the fairest of them all - "all" presumably meaning everyone in her kingdom. The mirror normally told her it was her, which she liked enormously. She was a bit insecure and felt the need to ask the mirror every day. Whether the mirror got fed up with this or simply had been unaware of Snow White before (somewhat undermining its assumed authority), one day it told the Queen that she had been usurped in her role of most beautiful person by one Snow White. Needless to say, she dispatched a huntsman to find her, take her into the forest and kill her. The huntsman felt sorry for Snow White and let her go, but of course the Queen knew all about it because the mirror took a certain amount of malicious pleasure the next morning in telling her that she was still second best. Meanwhile Snow White had shacked up with seven small miners. What does Queenie do? Turn herself into an old hag and give SW a poisoned apple of course. Snow White, who may be good looking but ain't the brainiest of the bunch, eats it, falls asleep and that's your lot. And that's it. The small blokes (they were dwarfs - giving the film its title) cleaned up after her, gave her bed baths and the like for a whole year until a prince, who everyone agrees was really charming, popped by and took a fancy to her. The prince had some strange sublingual mutation which many found distasteful but fortunately for Snow White happened to produce an antidote to the sleeping potion. He dribbled a bit of his saliva on her lips and before you knew it she was up and away. She ditched the dwarfs who were, frankly, not quite right in the head and rode off with her new man. Can't remember what happened to the Queen. Anyway, the question is: which dwarf is Disney most like in its total failure to realise that people may want to use the DVD in a machine running Windows XP? Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy or Dopey? [Hint: the answer's Dopey.] ® Related Link InterActual's posting
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Oct 2001

Oftel probes another BT ADSL install complaint

Oftel is investigating a complaint that BT is subsidising installation costs for its multi-user business class broadband service. Freeserve lodged the complaint with the telecoms regulator earlier this month urging it to consider whether this represented an unfair cross-subsidy and breach of BT's licence. The regulator confirmed that it has received the complaint and is investigating. The complaint centres on cut price installation costs for BTopenworld's multi-user Business 500 Plus ADSL product which Freeserve alleges is not covered by any wholesale price reductions. In September BT announced its intention to halve the wholesale cost of installing its popular IPStream 500 product, from £150 to £75, in the three months running up to Christmas. BTopenworld announced it would pass on the cuts which applied to its single-user Home 500 and Business 500 ADSL products. However, BTopenworld also extended the cut-price installation offer to its Business 500 Plus product even though there was no corresponding cut in the wholesale offering for this service. The result was an angry letter from Freeserve in which it claims BT is in "possible breach of the prohibition of abuse of dominant market position". Said Paul Barker of Freeserve: "We have no problem with seeing wholesale prices come down. But you have to question BT's commercial sustainability when it absorbs price cuts of this nature." Referring to Freeserve's market dominance in the dial-up sector he added: "We killed them on narrowband - we just want to compete on a level playing field with broadband." A spokesman for BTopenworld was not aware of the complaint but insisted that it was not guilty of cross-subsidy since the promotional funding came from within BTopenworld. Recently, Bulldog Communications complained to Oftel that BT's wholesale cuts in installation prices is unfair to those telcos offering unbundled services. Privately, BT is understood to be getting more and more exasperated that the regulatory process is stifling its attempts to cut prices for broadband users. The line from Oftel is that it welcomes price cuts as long as they are not anti-competitive. ® Related Story BT faces probe into cut-price ADSL installs
Tim Richardson, 25 Oct 2001

Cisco does a road runner from Wile E Coyote plan

Cisco has scaled back plans to expand its campus into one of the few undeveloped portions of Silicon Valley. The Coyote Valley Development, which was opposed by environmentalists, was originally set to involve the construction of 6.6 million square feet of office space to house 20,000 workers but will now be between 1-3 million square feet, enough for between 3,000 and 9,000 staff. A slowdown in telecoms spending has forced Cisco to rethink its expansion plans. Operations in Texas, Boston, Britain and Australia, are also scaling back their expansion. "After the economy slowed, we revised forecasts of our space needs and made changes to our real estate plans," Cisco chief financial officer Larry Carter said in an explanation to staff of the change of plan. "We still believe Coyote Valley is a great location for a corporate campus and will still be able to build there in the future if we need to." Carter stated that Cisco would only begin building when it needs more space and there has to be some doubt whether the expansion will happen at all. Earlier this year, Cisco announced plans to make 8,500 workers redundant. At its peak the firm employed 40,000. In August, Cisco posted profits for its fourth quarter of just $7 million, down 99 per cent from $796 million profits in the same period last year Cisco is a partner in a partnership that owns the land, and originally hoped to be its sole user. The plan now is for its property developer partners to look for other businesses interested in using the land. ® External Links Coyote Valley and Cisco (from environmental campaigners' Web site) Related Stories Cisco splits into 11 technology groups Cisco loses $2.69 billion on declining sales Where have all the Cisco customers gone? Cisco boss apologises for slashing jobs Cisco's Borg-like acquisition spree may be curtailed Further blackouts likely as Californian power crisis deepens
John Leyden, 25 Oct 2001

WinXP London launch

Windows XP kicked off in fine form at London's Royal Festival Hall this morning with much singing, dancing and loud music. Okay, well, maybe just loud music (think Madonna). Team MS appears to have worn itself out a little in preparation for the global launch; while everything was super slick (and no system crashes to be seen), poor old Steve Ballmer looked a little, well, tired. Certainly not too much arm flapping, frenzied shouting or jumping up and down. He did pretend not to be there at all initially, with the presentation starting off on a "live" video feed from his office in Redmond, but 30 seconds in he appeared from the rear of the audience. He must have been really tired because he couldn't seem to find the correct podium at first, wandering around the stage for a minute to locate himself (there was, of course, the grassy knoll and blue sky in the background). Once going, he droned on, almost passively, about how fantastic Windows XP is, how it will change everything, how businesses and homes will love it... you get the idea. In his words: "It's a better Windows than Windows." There were ramblings about speed, stability and other improvements before he started getting into something meatier, more specifically .NET and how it "will be integrated into the Windows platform, lawfully and legally." He then said, with a grimace, that if customers were in the middle of a Windows 2000 rollout, then they should delay any XP implementation. But if not, "get it now... and run it on an Intel Pentium 4." We love you Intel Much ado was made about how much Microsoft and Intel love each other, with John Woodget, Intel's UK MD, the only other person (bar the master of ceremonies) allowed up on the stage, to give his twopence-worth. Woodget trotted out a few amusing anecdotes (a favourite being about a magazine article saying that a Pentium processor would be fine for a server, but was perhaps too much for a desktop machine, which was then zipping along on a 486 platform). Upon running out of stories, Woodget tried to convince everyone to buy a Pentium 4 processor. One could almost imagine his conference call with Craig Barrett earlier: "Just sell some damn P4s John, have you seen the figures for this quarter?" He ended his spiel thus: "the two basic messages I am trying to put across are: plan for the future [buy P4s] and look at what Gartner recommends [buy P4s]." We want demos By this time, with the presentation already running for 90 minutes (main presentations interjected with video shots of other, slightly less important, Microsoft partners waxing lyrical about XP and how much they love it), the audience was baying for an actual product demo. Ballmer & Co. passed the reins to a few product managers who had a fine time playing with various digital gizmos as they showed off photography and other features in XP. One displayer (stuck in a box seat on the side) even had a clever sign stuck on the wall behind him saying: "Welcome to Tokyo" (and other places) in order to illustrate various things such as remote assistance, Instant Messenger and more. Many features were highlighted, from editing a video and video conferencing to multiple-user login and encryption, as the product dude gambolled their way through the "cool new things included". By this time, a few people around me had collapsed from presentation-fatigue, but most of the audience were well and truly impressed. Reinforcing the well-and-truly-impressedness, a product manager quoted sundry eulogies from local papers and magazines - easy to obtain according to Microsoft's XP spin diary. Proceedings were rounded off with a comparison of two desktops, one running XP and the other running Windows 95. as MS displayed its sense of humour. "Harried ('95) user A" was shown the ropes by "Relaxed (XP) user B", learning how to make the desktop look pretty and uncluttered, watch swirling colours in media player and see just how bright, flashy and cool things now are. No mention was made of the Office Paperclip. Meanwhile, according to Microsoft's XP spin diary, Bill Gates cut the tape at Nasdaq, and is doing various television and radio performances as part of the official song and dance in New York. ® Related Story you won't believe how much fun the winows XP launch will be Related Link Windows XP UK Home
James Watson, 25 Oct 2001

UK Govt calls for e-democracy

The Government has called upon the IT and Internet communities to come up with new ways to encourage online democracy. In a major announcement today e-commerce minister, Douglas Alexander, said he wanted technology to empower people to give them a voice other than the few seconds they have in the voting booth once every four or five years. In a move that surely signals the coming of age of Mr Alexander and his Government team he warned that it would not be an easy task. But he recognised that technology could be used to strengthen the democratic process in a way that could benefit the interests of the whole nation. Addressing the Democracy in the Information Age Conference, Mr Alexander said: "Getting people back into the democratic process is a huge challenge. "New technology will help to empower people, encouraging them into and, strengthening the democratic process. "I believe it is time to put e-democracy on the information age agenda and, for governments to set out what they mean by e-democracy and how they intend to use the power of technology to strengthen democracy." He went on: "We must open up new democratic channels, through which government and representatives can relate to citizens. "We must make citizens feel democratically empowered beyond their few seconds in the polling booth," he said. Which is all very well, but will he and his fellow ministers actually take any bloody notice and listen? ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Oct 2001

Western Digital bigs up 120GB hard drive

Western Digital has announced its WD1200BB hard drive, which it claims is the first 120GB drive on the market. To provide an indication of capacity, the company says the drive can store 2,000 photos, 45 hours of music, 5 hours of digital video, 22 games and 35 software programs. The Caviar, an ATA/100 EIDE drive spinning at 7,200 RPM, is the latest in the product family, which previously scaled up to 100GB only. It has three 40GB platters, with a 2MB buffer. WD recently released a special edition of a 100GB Caviar with an 8MB buffer. Compaq appears to be one of the first buyers, with an exec from the company saying nice things about WD in the press release. It will include them on its high-end desktop systems. The Reg hopes that the drive will be more successful than one of its high-profile competitors, IBM's 75GXP range, which is the cause of a class action suit against the company. ® Related Link WD Caviar 120GB EIDE Hard Drive
James Watson, 25 Oct 2001

HPaQ gets thumbs up from Saudi billionaire Prince

Royal dotcom stock splurger Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has said he's right behind Hewlett-Packard's takeover of Compaq. He thinks it's all a great idea. Prince Alwaleed says he owns one per cent of Compaq's stock, and doesn't seem perturbed by both company's share drop since the deal was announced. But then he is no stranger to pissing his money away - he laughed off seeing his $80 million investment in Priceline.com go down the toilet back in November 2000. But then he's worth $20 billion, so easy come easy go. HP's stock price is down 22 per cent, and Compaq's 21 per cent, since the takeover was announced. The prince has been chatting to Compaq CEO Michael Capellas according to Bloomberg, and has made the following statement. "I am confident that under the leadership of Ms. Fiorina and Mr. Capellas, the new company will be stronger, leaner and more efficient." Other investors don't feel the same. A US value-investment fund which owns shares in both businesses, Matrix Asset Advisors, has sent a letter to the boards of HP and Compaq asking them to rethink the deal. On Tuesday 23 October Compaq revealed it had been hit with a hefty Q3 loss, and said Q4 will be equally bad. The computer giant posted a net loss of $499 million, compared with a profit of $557 million in Q3 2000. It took a $379 million spanking on its investment in Internet incubator CMGI, so lost $120 million by itself. Sales fell 33 per cent to $7.48 billion, below analysts' expectations of $7.53 billion. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal raised his investment in AOL to $2 billion back in November 2000. ® Related Link Bloomberg story Related Stories Compaq results - oh dear HPaQ must die - major investor HP / Compaq merger: You the Jury Saudi Prince laughs off $80m Priceline losses Saudi prince doubles AOL stake to $2bn
Robert Blincoe, 25 Oct 2001

Government shuts down IT learning scheme over fraud scams

The government has decided today to shut down an IT training scheme it set up in 1999 that has become a magnet for unscrupulous training organisations and conmen. The decision follows a full-scale investigation by the Department of Education urged by Trading Standards at the start of the month. The Individual Learning Account (ILA) entitled anyone aged 19 and over (UK resident, not in full-time education) to sign up for an IT training course and receive up to £200 off its cost. All they had to do was fill in a form. Of course, this £200 wasn't going to be paid to the individual - that would encourage corruption. No, the government would pay it direct to the training organisation. It was innovative, pioneering, simple. It would give people the chance to pick up vital IT skills and make the UK more competitive as a whole. It was also mind-numbingly naive. Before long cold-callers were telling people of this new government scheme. They would get free training, just sign this form. And the course would end up being a poorly photocopied copy of a Microsoft Word manual. But since they hadn't paid any money... And that was when people bothered to get someone to fill in the form rather than simply forge signatures. Blank ILA forms started being sold at car boot sales. Another method was to offer "training CD-ROMs" with loads of software on for just £50 if you handed over your ILA form. Not that some excellent training hasn't been provided through the scheme. And of course, the only people that have really suffered are the government. The scam was so easy to perpetrate that suddenly everyone picked up on it and since this July 1.2 million people have opened an ILA. Around 800,000 of these have spent some of the money from their accounts, although no one has a clue how many of these are legit. However, from today, the system has been shut down and no more ILAs can be opened. The Department for Education is now investigating over 270 training organisations and 30 people so far have been arrested over fraud offences. You do have to worry about whoever dreamed the scheme up. ® Related Links My ILA.co.uk Trading Standards' complaint
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Oct 2001

Fibernet offers unbundled DSL from next week

Fibernet - one of the handful of operators actively involved in local loop unbundling (LLU) in the UK - is to launch its range of hi-speed Internet services next week. Initially, unbundled wholesale services will be available in Bristol, Warrington and Leeds with a further 27 exchanges being deployed between now and the beginning of next year. Fibernet has also highlighted a further 191 exchanges up and down the country which it will roll-out depending on demand. The 2Mbit/second symmetric DSL broadband Internet service - geared towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with between 10 and 250 employees - is said to be highly competitive. According to Fibernet it costs less than a 64Kbps leased line from BT. Said Nigel Pitcher, Fibernet's marketing director: "The higher service levels attainable with Fibernet's symmetric DSL, coupled with their extreme low cost, means that these premium services will now, for the first time, become affordable not only for larger corporates but also for small and medium sized businesses. "The contribution this technology will make to 'Broadband Britain' is immense," he said. Despite a huge effort, the UK has only unbundled around 150 unbundled lines. Last week Fibernet reported increased turnover and profits at that Basingstoke-based company despite worsening economic conditions. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Oct 2001

So how many PS1s and PS2s has Sony shipped?

Sony has shipped 19.57 million Playstation 2 and 88.26 million units of the original Playstation games console as of 30 September 2001. In the three months ended 30 September, Sony's Q2, the company shipped 4.62 million PS2s and 2.82 million PS1s. Sales of the original console are up, as Sony only shipped 2.37 million of them in the same period a year earlier, but now you can get it for £75. PS2s are also going great. Sony shipped 980,000 of them in the same quarter a year ago - the launch quarter, but the price has come down a hell of a lot - £299 at launch, now £199. Software-wise, 19 million Playstation 1 titles were shipped in Q2 (not just Sony productions), down from 40 million for the quarter a year ago. Since its launch, 802 million units have shipped. As for the PS2, 72.5 million PS2 titles have shipped so far. In Q2 22.7 million CDs were shipped, compared with 3.4 million a year earlier. Sony's games business for Q2 was up by 83 per cent on the period a year earlier. The Playstation operation had an operating profit of 4.1 billion yen ($34 million) compared with a loss of 2.9 billion yen ($23.55 million) in the year-ago period. ® Related Story Sony's results are pony
Robert Blincoe, 25 Oct 2001

ICANN caught red-handed

The Internet's overseeing body, ICANN, has been caught red-handed manipulating its own rules to protect existing members at the expense of its stated philosophy of openness. A series of delays in processing an application by domain registrar New.net to join one of ICANN's representative bodies (called constituencies) was followed last week with the rejection of the company's bid. However in the subsequent explanation as to why New.net was not entitled to join the body, ICANN inadvertently undermined many of the current members of the Business Constituency (BC) - including such names as AOL, AT&T, BT and MCI Worldcom. This is hardly the first time that ICANN has been accused of bending its bylaws in order to fit the wishes of the organisation's directors - its predilection for holding all important meetings in complete secrecy stands completely at odds with its public role. But rarely has the antipathy towards those who threaten ICANN's views on how the Internet ought to run been so apparent. New.net applied to become a member of the Business Constituency (one of seven such groups) on 25 July this year. The BC asks for a six-week period to consider new applicants and New.net wanted to make sure it was within this time period so it could attend BC meetings at a big conference in Uruguay in September. At the Uruguay meeting, the BC was due to discuss a report on "alternate roots" and come up with conclusions and recommendations to pass onto the wider ICANN body. New.net is one of the main companies (certainly the most well-known) that provide alternate roots - i.e. domains that end with something other than the ICANN-approved endings like .com, .net and .org. However, when New.net arrived at Uruguay it was informed that the BC's "Credentials Committee" had all been on holiday for six weeks and so there hadn't been time to consider its application. This was universally seen as a stalling tactic and the meeting over the report went ahead without New.net's presence or input. However, the company was surprised when a month later the BC rejected its application, saying that it was a "registry/registrar" (for which there is another constituency) and no one group could be a member of more than one constituency at a time. New.net asked for clarification on this no-more-than-one-constituency decision, especially since it has no precedent and goes against the reality of the situation on the ground. The BC secretariat replied saying: "The BC charter does not exclude registries and registrars from membership merely because of their participation in another constituency. The Charter distinguishes providers of network connectivity/transport, domain name and other services that enable the development of electronic business, from their customers. The BC is an independent voice for the customers of such providers. It is the potential divergence of interests, not the mere participation in another ICANN constituency, that underlies the membership criteria." Which seems like a reasonable response until you consider that most of the current members of the Business Constituency have far more glaring conflicts of interests that New.net, which is small fry in comparison. Companies which cover all aspects of "providers of network connectivity/transport, domain name and other services" and in far greater depth than New.net include AOL, AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, MCI Worldcom and Telefonica. One seasoned observer of ICANN, Milton Mueller, has said of the situation that it was "equivalent to allowing Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda decide who gets to enter the auto manufacturing business". There is certainly genuine outrage that ICANN is being so blatant in its control of critical voices. On ICANN's official site, it describes its approach to decision-making thus: "ICANN's objective to operate as an open, transparent, and consensus-based body that is broadly representative of the diverse stakeholder communities of the global Internet". Since New.net has been a steady success whereas the companies selling the new official TLDs .info and .biz have stumbled and fallen in the past few weeks, it would certainly suggest that it is representative of many Internet users. ICANN has to learn that it can no longer expect to continue running the Internet as a gentlemen's club. The dismissal of New.net is indicative of a greater cancer at the heart of ICANN. Why is ICANN so over-sensitive to any group that dares to question how things are done? Any organisation afraid to embrace change or criticism is doomed to failure. The fact that that organisation runs the Internet - the greatest leap forward in communication among men since the telephone - makes it all the more ironic. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Oct 2001