29th > January > 2002 Archive

FoTW: “i am going to stop comming to your gay site”

Re: How I learned to stop worrying and abandoned OS X From: "Tony Browning" To: Subject: (no subject) Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 00:35:13 -0800 Hey, About that article you posed about OS X... You must have never really even used the freakin thing because the GUI is simply stunning and X.2 will be even better. I cant believe you bashed it so hard ! You obviously dont know what the hell your talking about when it comes to macintosh. I think i am going to stop comming to your gay site for any news anymore because you were so hateful on the new OS. What were you thinking?? PC users are all the same, quick to make dumb comments and bash on Mac at any chance. But hey if there hadent been a MAC, PC would still be that adding machine like we saw in "Pirates Of Silicon Valley". I did like how you at least added a few good points in but give me a break, quit with the X bashing. I cant wait till the G5 comes out and knocks the whole PC chip word on its knees and makes them beg for mercy!!! lol ok enough ok that, anyways, im done here so yeah keep up the good journalism... NOT! Tony Browning More of your OS X Letters The Aqua Letters
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Greene ‘Lame and rather unknowledgeable Linux wannabee’

Re: Mr. Thomas C Greene: From the sound of it, you didn't have to force SuSE at all. Maybe you should have named the article "Too Lame to Understand Mandrake" or better, "I Should Just Run FreeBSD and Forget All This Distro Crap." You started out with, "The Presario 1200 is an exceptionally poor candidate for Linux.." and ended up with how easy it was once you popped in the SuSE disks. Yet the title to your article implies that you had to force Linux on it. All your article reported was you buying hardware that you considered lame and then getting confounded by your inability to install unsupported (by the hardware manufacture) software on it. Then you found that another kit of unsupported software did work well on it. I'm not sure what your thinking was when you decided to use Mandrake in the first place. It seems that SuSE works well for you in your other computers and you are comfortable in it. If you did so because of the challenge, then why did you bitch and moan about your choice when it proved a challenge? The side line about not having the Windows .cab files on the cd show that you didn't backup the files from the hard drive like the fine manual told you too and that you don't understand the first thing about Microsoft OEM policy (which is covered well by The Register.) How long would it have taken you to setup Windows for your home network and ftp'd the files one of your other boxen? Or would that have dirtied your pink little FreeOS hands too much. Don't bitch at Compaq, you were too lame think it through. You "quite deliberately" bought "the piss-poorest laptop computer ever built" that was "specifically designed to run Windows" then bitch and moan that it wouldn't do what it wasn't designed to do and then have the balls to call Compaq "damnable cheap bastards". All Compaq did was offer a working product for sale at a price you could afford. If you hated the Compaq so much, thought the laptop was junk, why the fuck did you buy it? Are you fscking insane? Or do you expect anything with an 80x86 in it to run what ever you decide it should. A critical read of your story would suggest that you should have more of a problem with Mandrake than Compaq. (And you should send a letter to SuSE thanking them for their support of XFree86 so that your X works.) A computer is a piece of hardware, it executes instructions you give it. If you don't give it exactly the right instructions, it may not do what you wish it to.. no matter why you think it should or how you feel about it. Loading software you didn't write is trusting others to provide those instructions for you. If you don't make a good choice in your instruction supplier, your hardware may not do as you intend. It's not the hardware's fault and it may not be your instruction supplier's fault either. It may be your fault for assuming that they would work in together in the first place. If your article is any indication of how you handle hardware and expect it to respond I truly hope that you don't drive. I'm getting really sick an tired of all the "Windows sucks and Linux rocks" mind set that is taken to the extreme here. No, I don't run Windows, nor Linux.. I use FreeBSD. One of the reasons I gave up Linux (and the suse.org domain) was people like you, Mr. Greene. You abandon logic and blame others for your choices. This article gave me the impression that The Register is willing to publish sniveling crap from a rather lame and unknowledgeable wannabe Linux insider. There were no helpful hints other than we should use SuSE for the Compaq 1200 and we should really backup those damn .cab files just in case we need them someday. I'm waiting for your next article entitled "How My Dishwasher Sucks Because it Doesn't Wash My Clothes Well Unless I Use Laundry Soap" sure to be followed by "When I Run My Dishes in the Clothes Drier, They Crash". -Joe Fascinating stuff - with only one flaw... Isn't a Presario the "kind of crap" that Harry Homeowner buys? It's certainly the kind of low-end kit on offer at Staples or CompUSA, and so it qualifies as a likely Homeowner purchase . And as for "Loading software you didn't write is trusting others to provide those instructions for you" we only hope Harry can find gcc and gdb in time to write his own replacement.... ®
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Windows now “friendlier than the Mac”

Apple's spiritual swami Steve Jobs has robbed the Mac of its soul, writes one Macintosh loyalist as the debate over Mac OS X rages. "Apple arrogance sickens me" writes another. Since we published our AquaRant™, Apple has made X the default OS on new Macs, and the acclaim that greeted the decision from Mac community sites spoke for itself. Here's a further selection of your letters. Loved your article. I think you hit it dead on both about the flaky UI and general slowness of X. I worked on the OS 9 project and we were making great strides modernizing the system for eventual complete preemptive multitasking, but alas, X became ready just before we were finished so 9 development was axed. The rest is history. BTW, I am a long time Mac user who now works in the Windows world. I have to say WinXP, despite the draconian activation garbage, has a rather nice UI, not as nice as OS 9, but much more consistent and navigable than X. Sad to see this because this will draw new users away from the Mac. [name and email address supplied] Andrew: I couldn't agree with you more. While I am glad that Jobs came back and helped get Apple in the black, the focus on useless parts of OSX instead of getting UI right has caused me to erase OSX from my dual 800MHz machine. I still use it all the time for Final Cut Pro, but OSX will have to change dramatically for me to want to stay with Apple. (Although, recent XP experiences have me dreading windows) One of the things that bothers me the most is that they spent time and resources on getting dumb ass quicktime movies to play in the dock instead of fixing bugs, making the 'finder' speed usable, or even updating must have features like software base station for airport. Who wants to watch a movie that is that damn small? It just shows where the company is at right now, hopefully it will begin to head in the right direction, but as an OS, OSX is incredibly slow, unfriendly, and bloated. I can't create my own groups for sharing without logging in as root and using the terminal? My files want to save into a user directory three levels deep? Man, they have a LOT of work to do, and they keep spending time on things that don't matter... Thanks for the great article, it did make me feel better knowing that I am not the only one frustrated and wondering what he will do with his Mac hardware in the future... Mark Sloan We like to think we're bringing people together, surmounting so many language differences, into one big forum. Then we get one of these... +/v8APAAh-DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC +ACI--//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN+ACIAPg- +ADw-HTML+AD4APA-HEAD+AD4- +ADw-META http-equiv+AD0-Content-Type content+AD0AIg-text/html+ADs- charset+AD0-utf-7+ACIAPg- +ADw-META content+AD0AIg-MSHTML 5.50.4134.600+ACI- name+AD0-GENERATOR+AD4- +ADw-STYLE+AD4APA-/STYLE+AD4- +ADw-/HEAD+AD4- +ADw-BODY+AD4- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia color+AD0AIw-800000 size+AD0-2+AD4-Hello Andrew,+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/P+AD4- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia color+AD0AIw-800000 size+AD0-2+AD4-I feel your pain, this is sad and true for me as well.+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/P+AD4- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia color+AD0AIw-800000 size+AD0-2+AD4-Just after reading your article I went to the Apple Mac OS X feedback page and sent this...+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/P+AD4- +ADw-BLOCKQUOTE dir+AD0-ltr style+AD0AIg-MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px+ACIAPg- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT size+AD0-2+AD4-I am going to stop using Mac OS X if the next update does not eliminate these problems+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/P+AD4- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT size+AD0-2+AD4-- transparent menus are horible, make them opaque+ADw-BR+AD4-- the current application should be highlighted in the dock+ADw-BR+AD4-- command +- tab does not behave exactlly like LiteSwitch in OS 9+ADw-BR+AD4-- the pull-down on the Save sheets does not contain the path+ADw-BR+AD4-- SmartWindow functionality is missing (spring-windows)+ADw-BR+AD4-- the windows controls are all round and all on the left+ADw-BR+AD4-- the dock does not work, it's ugly and unnatural+ADw-BR+AD4-- many little bugs persist+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/P+AD4APA-/BLOCKQUOTE+AD4- +ADw-DIV dir+AD0-ltr+AD4APA-FONT size+AD0-2+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia+AD4APA-FONT color+AD0AIw-800000+AD4-But I will not abandon my Mac...+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/DIV+AD4- +ADw-DIV dir+AD0-ltr+AD4APA-FONT size+AD0-2+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia+AD4APA-FONT color+AD0AIw-800000+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4AJg-nbsp+ADsAPA-/DIV+AD4- +ADw-DIV dir+AD0-ltr align+AD0-right+AD4APA-FONT size+AD0-2+AD4APA-FONT face+AD0-Georgia+AD4APA-FONT color+AD0AIw-800000+AD4-cheers,+ADw-BR+AD4-Gabi+ADw-/FONT+AD4APA-/DIV+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/FONT+AD4APA-/BODY+AD4APA-/HTML+AD4- Errh, right there Gabriel. I think you're agreeing with me, but unless you fix the formatting I'll be pointing you to the Confused Lounge next time. Suddenly ASCII seems deeply beautiful. Here's more:- I just wanted to drop you a note and congratulate you on the article. You're 100% correct and I couldn't agree more. In fact I keep installing and formatting my separate OS X drive when new updates appear and get further disgusted each time. I've pretty much convinced myself (and I've been one of the Mac faithful since 1986 and still own my first Mac I bought that year) that once OS 9 (Classic Coke) is long dead and OS X (New Coke) is all the rage and the must have to run any new apps, I'll probably switch to...lemme sit down here...Windows or Linux. I'll stick with OS 9 for as long as I can though. Complaint number one: The dock alright. It's like the junk drawer we all have in our kitchens. Virtually Useless. For me the biggest hassle of the Dock is that when you put several folders in there they all look alike and you have to fish around to find which is which (custom icons aside) and worse yet, try putting multiple documents from the same app in the dock. They are all identical and again, it's a game of hide and seek to see which of the identical icons is which. I'll let you ponder the similarities between the throbbing buttons and Tylenol Gelcaps and um...Suppositories. I just can't look at those buttons for very long. It's like some aging actress spilled her medication and costume jewlery all over my desktop. Thanks for the great article. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my thinking. gman Ouch. I think Apple wants you to think of them as gumdrops, not throbbing suppositories, but it's a description that's going to be hard to dump, now you mention it. I meant eject. I meant, reject. Now see what you've done? But although we focussed on the UI, it isn't just the user interface that troubles this long-time Mac loyalist, but deeper support issues:- I read your article "How I learned to stop worrying [...]" with some interest and some of the follow-up letters published on The Register too. While I have also long ago switched back to the classic Mac OS -- version 8.6 in fact since I find it to be more stable. My reasons for mostly abandoning OS X are completely different. I think that my reasons are much more serious and I cannot agree with your assessment that "it's the User Interface, Stupid." My fundamental reason for abandoning OS X is that it is not truly compatible with my Mac despite Apple's claim that it is. In fact, I find this to be the biggest problem with the new OS and a scam of enormous proportions which almost nobody on the net or in the media has bothered to comment on until now. Allow me to elaborate. My primary computer (one of four Apple computers that I own) is a three-year-old Beige G3 desktop with plenty of RAM and hard drive space (320MB and about 50GB respectively). As such, this of course means that my primary ports and peripherals are serial- and SCSI-based. Now USB and Firewire are nice (I have an expansion card to support the new ports), but my SCSI CD-RW and scanner are still very much superior to the flood of cheap USB replacements that have appeared since the introduction of the iMac. Well, the side of my OS X box claims that the requirements for using it are a "Power Mac G3, G4, [... with] 128MB of physical RAM." My machine easily meets and exceeds these simple requirements and indeed OS X does _run_ on my machine but it is certainly not terribly _usable_. And it's lack of usability is not because of the interface or the slowness of the OS which everyone is so upset about (I grew up with an Apple IIgs and still regularly use Macs older than my G3 and the speed does not bother me -- 10.1 pretty much got rid of the ubiquitous spinning CD cursor). The biggest problem with OS X is that Apple left out support for most of the built-in ports and devices on my old G3. My "supported" machine, while running X, is unable to communicate with any serial device except a modem, any of my SCSI devices except for the ZIP drive, and even is completely unaware of my built-in Apple-factory floppy drive! Many of these problems are not just due to the unavailability of drivers. A three-hour call to Apple technical support revealed that there is fundamental lack of support in OS X for printing to the serial port or reading the floppy drive. I was told that Epson couldn't write a driver for my printer even if they wanted to until Apple provides low-level support for serial printing. My SCSI scanner and CD-RW while they might theoretically be able to work under OS X seem unlikely to actually ever be able to do so (I certainly can expect that iTunes and the OS X Finder will never be able to find my CD-burner). Andapparently, since new Macs no longer come with floppy drives, they thought that I would be perfectly happy giving up the use of mine (tech support said the current official workaround is to boot back into OS 9 although I again seriously doubt that a driver will ever be written)! I love the new Aqua interface. It is sexy and elegant. I really enjoy using my computer under OS X but it didn't take long for me to realize that I couldn't do anything _useful_ within it (web browsing, reading email, and listening to music top the list of things that work on my machine). Apparently, Apple thinks it is OK to sell a product which is advertised to be compatible with my machine and then only provide a half-working version of it. Then they have the gall to charge for small, insignificant upgrades like 10.1 that do not fix any of the real shortcomings. Apparently, Apple thinks that I should just buy a new Mac if I really want to use OS X (but why then did I spend the $70 to purchase it?) or at the very least I should junk all of my old peripherals and invest several thousand dollars more in USB and Firewire equipment. And they are perfectly OK with this. They make false claims about their products and refuse to acknowledge that there are problems with the OS. They have taken no discernable steps to correct the huge compatibility flaws in OS X. It really sickens me and I find it scandalous. Another nod to the huge scam of "planned obsolesence" which the entire computer industry participates in except that this time there was no warning on the label. I wrote to Apple with my concerns and to express the need for a public statement regarding these issues but as you can imagine, there has been no response. My extended family owns over a dozen Apple computers and we have all been very loyal Mac users and customers. Unfortunately, I have had to start looking for an alternative to Apple for my next computer (although it definitely won't be a Windoze or Intel-based machine) and the options are bleak. Unless Apple somehow dramatically makes up for this, I fear that they have lost my next computer purchase. Thanks for reading and please continue to write interesting articles for those of us who struggle with our identities as Mac users. Sincerely, Anthony Kozar Toledo, OH USA I agree with almost all of the points in your article but think that you have stopped short. I have nine Macs beginning with a 512k to a G4 and two iMacs. I have tolerated a number of problems along the way which have been getting worse rather than better with each subsequent CPU/OS. For example, my G4 with OS9.2, AOL and my epson printer driver [and no other added SW] crashes daily [or more]. But OSX was the last straw. I tried the beta version, the official release and the 10.1 update. Each time I try it I get more frustrated both with the interface, the "features" and lack of capabilities that used to exist. I am in my 50's and have been using computers [including both IBM and Mac as well as a host of other computers] all of my working life. I have found OSX to be the most difficult at figuring out how to accomplish even the simplest tasks. [and the purported "rock solid" reliability has not proved out as I can crash the system almost at will] For the near term I will stick with OS9. In the long term, the PC looks very inviting. Doug Huebner In your article about OS 10, I'm afraid you hit the nail right on the head. I've used Macs for 10 years enthusiastically, but my loyalty was never to Apple; it is to the system that made using a computer simple, easy and intuitive. I too have given up on OS X , gone back to OS 9......and Windows. I never thought I'd see the day Windows became more user friendly then a Mac! But in my view, that's exactly what's happened. Jobs needs to export OS 9 into OS 10. And since that's never going to happen, I don't think I'll ever buy a Mac again. Yes, the new Macs are very, very cool, but that's not enough. It never was enough. Too bad Apple has forgotten the real reason for its customer base loyalty. Bring the soul of the Mac back and I'll look at one again. FM Florida Thank you for verbalizing what's been bothering me about OS X since I first laid eyes on it. When I first starting using Macs (6.0.x), it was like a total revelation - Goodbye DOS! Then System 7 came along - yeah!! MacOS 8 made a good thing better, and MacOS 9 while not groundbreaking, did add more of a shine. Then along comes OS X! My immediate (and subsequent) reaction - ugh!! There may be a lot of wonderful things going on behind the scenes of OS X, but absolutely nothing about the "look and feel" of OS X makes me want to find out what it's all about. Think there's a chance Apple might keep Classic for ever and always?? Wilben Not a ghost of a chance, I'm afraid Wilbur. OS X is a potentially a great OS (I'm using it now between 9 reboots), and if Apple can give the UI a performance boost, and bring the power saving features back to stop it draining the battery faster than MacOS 9, it'll only be a few tweaks away from being tolerable. I've been trying LaunchBar, HotKeys and these make task switching and launching much easier. Until then, pass the ah, Tylenol Capsules. In the interests of balance, the heavily outnumbered pro-Aqua camp are bloodied but unbowed. There's a staunch defence of the UI here. And finally, PC bigots are sitting back and enjoying the show. Alas, ... Subject: Aqua/OS 9 Rants Oh Schadenfreude! Oh Schadenfreude, how sweet the bliss! As a veteran Macaphobe your compilation of Aqua/OSX rants warms the cockles of my heart. Watching other's civil wars is a very pleasant passtime. Poor Mac users have tied themselves down to a religion and are constantly trying to justify it. A schism just makes for more delicious fun for the 'rest of us.' W Bulks Oh dear. Related Mail The Aqua Letters (Part One)
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Letters: Eat Yourself Fitter with a Vulture Diet

RoundupRoundup The Letters Page hasn't been cancelled, it's just been buried under an avalanche of er, .... Letters. Which is the same as being unable to see the wood for the trees, I guess. (Although this is a phrase that has always caused me immense problems:- a recursive idiom with no apparent stop condition. ) Enough already. Here are a few of the recent weeks' highlights. "Would you mind giving my thanks to the person from Lichtenstein who contributed the Seattlement terminology," Henry Keultjes of Ohio reminds us. Not at all Henry. Lots of people seem to like that one. Concerned that I hadn't enjoyed myself enought at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, Daniel Bickhart recommended, "maybe you should try naturism... at least you'd really know how to really have fun!" In the fall-out of my Aquaphobia, Danny P Zumwalt dispatched three emails on the subject of OS X, one of which suggested this new qualification for journalists:- "... and if you think it isn't better than ANY other OS out there now, why are you writing about it? " Quite right Danny. Time for all good men to come to the aid of the party! Your Aqua correspondence continues here, and despite an urgent need for new fresh flamage, hands down wins FoTW. Read on for our latest Flame for January: "i am going to stop comming to your gay site". But we don't just letters from freaky Macintosh weirdos. We get them from freaky Linux and CDMA weirdos too:- "Are you a Moron?" asks John Bowes. That depends, John. "You write: 'The fact that Ericsson and Nokia had both pioneered CDMA work themselves was swept under the carpet.'," he continues. "Stupid, NOK can't develop a ASIC chip to wrap their pretty plastic around to save their lives. As for ERICY, well, they capitulated to QCOM back in April 99. There's not enough time left in the day to correct the rest of your garbage." And Jørgen Spangen's email was so bizarre I've decided to start a new letters feature in its honour: "The Confused Lounge". This irregular companion to the equally irregular, but very popular Flame of the Week feature begins this week. Jørgen has set a high standard with his rumination on the mooted AOL-Red Hat merger: do RH matters? Almost worthy for consideration in the Lounge, was this letter:- "You 'quite deliberately' bought 'the piss-poorest laptop computer ever built' that was 'specifically designed to run Windows' then bitch and moan that it wouldn't do what it wasn't designed to do and then have the balls to call Compaq 'damnable cheap bastards'"," cusses our reader. A propos of nothing (well, apropos of Verity Stob's ancient history of Borland, actually) Shawn Johnston reminds us that carbon dating "won't really work for anything post 1945 as nuclear testing has messed up the ratios of isotopes carbon dating works on". Sorr-eee! Several of you have suggestions for our SGI patent prize: with a number of great minds to several of you for suggesting our tasteful Register shirts. Although more in sorrow than etc, Lewis Fotti writes:- "In your article, 'SGI shoots the messenger;, you asked for suggestions as to how to recognise the achievements of such companies. "How about a "It's death Jim, but not as we know it" award (with thanks to Dr McCoy for the inspiration) for companies that sell their birth right to a rival to stave off something awful but probably inevitable, in this case probably going bust. It's a shame really, SGI was once a really inovative company but they tried to move from their core expertise of high performance graphics to general purpose supplier and never achieved the necessary scale." Almost finally, about 300 hundred of you wrote in earlier this month to share you enjoyment of the Not-Google AIMSearchprank. The site has closed, and if you're not sated by this week's letter avalanche, there were many gems submitted to the site's creators for you to enjoy. Finally, the most enjoyable letter of the month was this one, in referrence to John Lettice's dogged pursuit of the real XP sales figures:- Mr. Lettice, Sir; Please, Sir, I pray you do not ever discontinue publishing stories about increasing Windows XP sales. As I spend more and more time on the fall-away side of 50 years of age and rooted in this wheelchair, I find my expanding waistline a cause for concern bordering on disgust. The plain fact is that, except for the long hair, I am starting to look like a Texan. (Shame, shame on me.) Your repeated stories about how XP is rapidly becoming prevalent and so making B. Gates richer are the only true deterrent to my healthy appetite that has so far curbed my urge to eat more than the need for survival dictates. So keep it up, please. Keep publishing those sales figures, concentrating on the inflated ones, if you would be so kind. Why, if this thing lives up to Bill's expectations, I may even become ill enough to lose some of this excess. Thanks, Jack Imsdahl Other letters in this postbag...- Introducing The Confused Lounge... FoTW: "i am going to stop comming to your gay site" Greene 'Lame and rather unknowledgeable Linux wannabee Windows now "friendlier than the Mac" - The Aqua Letters
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Welcome to The Confused Lounge

The Flame of the Week feature has been running for over two years here at Vulture Central. But it's time for a companion award: the most confused correspondent of the week. As we're sure you'll agree, these two set an exceptionally high standard. Subject: do RH matters? if red had realy matters anymore then ? whioute the bigest distro for linx os but i think linuk nerd will very qusik dvelop soem other good destibouerts when it bugth buy big bad tw aol (just think abut how they made troll tech (bakabone for qt the eh kernel fro kde linux windoweslliek desltop like a big bad for profit company;) isnt this that will make linux mainstream? http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT8728350077.html Jørgen Spangen Easy, you're thinking - to gain admission to The Confused Lounge, all I need to do is spoof a hilarious foreigner writing English badly, right? Wrong! That in itself is not funny. You need to be deeply confused, profoundly disorientated, or in this case, faced with a simple point, miss it completely. This missive comes from a regular and valued correspondent, which shows that even the Bright can be confused. The Lounge does not discriminate… Subject: Might I suggest (re: the Verity Stobbs piece a week and some ago) … that The Register responds to this? I think that it would be in the interest of everyone to sort this out; I have pointed out to Dr. Pournelle that the original piece was written by Verity at Dobbs; but I think you should have responded to him, Dr. Pournelle is very respected in the industry; indeed, I have been reading his article in Byte since he wrote the first one. [BEGIN Pournelle] Wednesday, I keep getting references to this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/28/23747.html And then An-ders, an elder in the tribe of the sons of Kahn, dreamed a dream. And he called together all the tribe and spake unto them saying: Brothers - last night I dreamed that everyone in the world paid tribute to the god Vi Su-Albahsic. And the Mic-rosoftees did come down into the valley of Scotts, and forced all men who dwelt there to worship Vi Su-Albahsic. And the sons of Kahn gave in and became programmers like Jerripur-Nel, the scribe of Bytemag, who toileth still upon Roberta's Basic flash-card program; yea, yet he hath toiled upon it for seven and four-score years or more, as it seemeth to me. Which is fun, but in fact the DOS version of Roberta's Program was written in CBASIC, from Digital Research although the first version was from Stuctured Systems Group, which was Commander Gordon Eubanks who later was Symantec, and it was done a very long time ago. I started on that with a working model of the program done in regular old BASIC; the Mac Version was done in Supercard; and the Windows version was done, not by me, in Delphi, not Visual Basic at all. I wrote them to that effect, but I have had no reply or even acknowledgment that I wrote them, which reduces my respect for The Register. [END Pournelle] No reflection on you, Andrew, this was just the address I picked to respond ala The Register, as I think you have the best perspective there. This email is written in the interest of some cooperation among the industry. --Andy Yikes Andy. Of course we have no wish to offend Jerry (except on the occasions when we do), and we're pretty sure the urbane and fragrant Verity Stob doesn't either. However the point is that Verity's piece is satirical, and in a satire, you expect facts to become exaggerated. Just as there wasn't really an anarcho-syndicalist commune in the time of King Arthur (as featured in Monty Python's Holy Grail), so Jerry hasn't really toileth on Roberta's Basic for seven and four-score years or more. He's been busy saving the Republic from the pink and yellow hordes, instead, and quite right too. So similar failures of the humour gland will find themselves immediately considered for the Lounge. You are warned. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Peek-A-Booty to debut at grassroots P2P show

Peer-to-peer was 2000's most overused buzzword, and perhaps the only way to reclaim it is through grassroots organization. That's what Bram Cohen thinks, anyway. Cohen worked on MojoNation before quitting last April to concentrate on his BitTorrent project, and he's convening hackers in downtown San Francisco next month for a P2P/cypherpunk conference a world away from the usual corporate trappings. "Conferences cost a ridiculous amount of money, and hackers are treated like dirt," says Cohen. By contrast admission to CodeCon will cost $50, with ten bucks off if you register before Friday. The rules should ensure that it's free of sociological discussions of collaborative writing, and theoretical discussions of grids, swarms or hives:- "Everything has to have a working demo, presented by one of the implementers," Cohen tells us. "That should raise the signal to noise ration quite a bit." The banned list encompasses "SET and other white elephant, unimplemented standards," "Mathematical cryptography lacking practical implementation" and evil DRM systems. So there ought to be lots of detail from presenters representing the best-known P2P projects such as Gnutella, down to some "random hackers" and will be the stage for the public debut of the Cult of the Dead Cow's anonymity app Peek-A-Booty. That got a private unveiling at DefCon09 last year, which we covered here Other presentations include the Invisible IRC Project, Mnet and CryptoMail. It's held at Jamie Zawinski's DNA Lounge nightclub - and as a bonus (well, for me, anyway) it's thoughtfully timed to coincide with my birthday. For the hackers who can't attend either of these landmark events, a webcast will be provided throughout. (Of the conference, not my birthday.) ® Related Link CodeCon (San Francisco 15-17 February)
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2002

Tiscali attacked by DDoSers

Tiscali appears to have become the latest ISP targeted whose service has been disrupted by denial of service attacks from unknown Internet vandals. A posting on ISP's status page on Sunday (since removed) said: "We are currently experiencing a denial of service attack on our infrastructure. Tiscali customers can still surf the internet and send and receive email, but may experience intermittent difficulties when accessing the Tiscali Web site." Register readers have reported packet loss and generally patchy internet connections over the weekend, and an updated notice admits "customers dialling up to the Internet via other networks may experience problems accessing the Tiscali Portal" and associated services. It recommends customers connect to the Internet via Tiscali dial up connections and states its engineers have identified the problem and are in the process of restoring services to normal. The extent and exact cause of the problem remains unclear and repeated calls through Tiscali's PR operation today failed to yield any response. Last week the much smaller ISP Cloud Nine experienced a crippling denial of service attack, which brought it to its knees. It subsequently shut up its operations and sold its 2,500 customer base to Zetnet. ® External links Usenet discussion on service problems with Tiscali Related News Cloud Nine blown away, blames hack attack Zetnet rescues Cloud Nine
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002

That ‘Microsoft’ RTFM page (and sundry spoofs)

UpdatedUpdated Our inboxes are filling with links to a rogue "How to RTFM" page posted supposedly on Microsoft's Web site. For those of you who have never worked in tech support, RTFM means Read The Fscking Manual. If this page for lamers really did appear on Microsoft.com it would be hilarious/disgraceful/career-limiting for the poster etc. But it's a hoax and as such not very funny. It's not a very clever hoax at that - although we can say that because we already know the trick. Here is the URL in full: http://www.microsoft.com&item%3Dq209354@hardware.no/nyheter/feb01/Q209354%20-%20HOWTO.htm". Everything before the @sign is irrelevant. The real URL starts at hardware.no which is - you guessed it - a Norwegian computer news site. And no, before you ask, Hardware.no is not trying to hoax anyone: it saved this as a local page when writing about RTFM a year or so ago. For this Microsoft RTFM page did the rounds last February, on a site called hwnd.net, which appears now to be moribund. We wrote about it at the time too. By this reckoning, it should resurface again sometime in December. And thanks to our Opera-loving users who point out that this much-loved web browser supplies a security warning when you click on the above link. It tells you that the site address contains a user name (i.e. the bit before the @sign), tells you what the real server is and asks you if you really want to go to the site. As one reader comments: "Let's all sit down and count down till Microsoft "borrows" this feature for IE 7.0 or something..." Now for a big fat Register welcome to Whitehouse.org. Post-September 11, we received several emails pointing to this Web site, telling us that the US Government's web site had been hacked. These quickly died down - but lately we're getting the same reports. Simmer down: Whitehouse.org is a spoof - as opposed to a hoax - of the US government site. It makes not so gentle fun of the Bush administration, and sometimes it's very funny. The "real" Whitehouse site is whitehouse.gov. Do not confuse with Whitehouse.com, a hardcore porn merchant. ® Related story Spoofed story pokes fun at Gore 'MS antipiracy' hoax triggers paranoia attacks McDonalds hit by spitting email hoax
Drew Cullen, 29 Jan 2002

UK Net usage grows

Oftel's taking the credit - yet again - for the UK having some of the widest range and most competitively priced Internet access in the world. Publishing its latest research into the UK Internet market, the telecoms regulator found that 45 per cent of UK households (11 million homes) are connected to the Internet, compared to 30 per cent this time last year. The latest figures also show a return to growth for Net usage. In the last Oftel survey published in November Oftel revealed that Net access had fallen one point to 39 per cent. Crowing about today's latest stats Oftel chief, David Edmonds said: "Oftel's review of the Internet access market shows that consumers have access to a wide range of services and prices for using the Internet that are among the best in the world. "Action by Oftel, notably the requirement on BT to offer wholesale unmetered Internet access, has helped to put this flourishing market in place." While Mr Edmonds enjoys the plaudits, it should be remembered that these figures only examine dial-up access. This research ignores broadband access using DSL, cable modems or unbundled local loops. If they were included then the lustre would certainly be taken off Mr Edmonds' performance. Still, not to worry. We're absolutely sure that Oftel is busy working to correct the UK's pitiful status as a third world broadband nation. And we fully expect that in a couple of decades or so Oftel's successors will be crowing just as loudly about how they managed to introduce the most competitive and widely available broadband services to the UK. Can't wait. ® Related Story UK home Net use flat
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 2002

Russian hacker breaks into US bank database

A Russian computer hacker has been detained on suspicion of extorting $10,000 from a US bank after breaking into its database and threatening to publish account details. The suspect, identified only as Nikolai, was detained in the western Siberian town of Surgut after Moscow police's computer fraud unit was approached by the US embassy. According to reports in the Russian press, Nikolai Nikolai broke into the web server of Online Resources Corp, a McLean, Virginia company, which offers internet banking, bill payment and e-finance application services to financial institutions. Nikolai, a 21-year-old university drop-out, then attempted to extort money from an unnamed New York bank by threatening to publish account details. To buttress the threat, he posted details from 1,500 accounts online. The bank paid out $10,000 in December but estimates its total financial damage at $250,000. The Moscow computer fraud unit managed to track him by his IP address when he exchanged email addresses with the bank, and he is now in custody facing 15 years jail. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Jan 2002

Lotus roadmaps full J2EE 1.3 support

Lotus Software pushed squarely into the web services arena yesterday when it laid out a roadmap that will result in the company offering full support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.3. At the same time, the IBM software unit used its Lotusphere 2002 conference to announce the availability of the pre release beta of Notes and Domino 6, ahead of the final products' expected appearance in the third quarter of this year. Michael Lorio, director of advanced collaboration for Lotus, said that the decision to offer full support for J2EE was part of the vendor's drive to increase its product set's collaborative capabilities. Lorio said J2EE was already supported in some of the products within Lotus' portfolio, for example Lotus Workflow. Making the formal commitment to fully implementing J2EE, "sends a message to our partners of where we're going." While the company had built a highly integrated product for the enterprise he said, companies needed to be able to collaborate with partners, customers and suppliers. The company has not set a timescale for rolling out J2EE support in its core Notes and Domino software except to say it will be in the version which comes after version 6. Yesterday, the company unveiled the general release beta of version 6 of Notes and Domino. The latest beta features the full feature set due in the final release version which should appear in the third quarter. There had been speculation the product would appear in the second quarter, but Lorio insisted the company had never set a firm date. Lotusphere saw a rash of other announcements. The company is revamping its services strategy for Lotus, with the launch of IBM Software Services for Lotus, which will work side by side with Lotus partners. Lorio said the aim was to increase the focus on deployment of Lotus products. At the same time, the company has announced partnerships with Cisco Systems Inc and Captaris Inc to make Notes compatible with their unified messaging systems. © Computerwire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 29 Jan 2002

'BOFH II – Son of the Bastard' set to top Reg bestseller list

As the sweet scent of Spring wafts through the server room, there is some exciting news for all you BOFH fans out there. First up, we are pleased to announce the immediate availability of Bastard Operator from Hell II - Son of the Bastard, the follow-up book to the highly successful Bastard Operator from Hell. Also we have Bastard Operator from Hell cartoon t-shirts - in four sizes! - they are definitely going, as we've discontinued this line. And we haven't finished yet. By popular demand, and at no expense spared, we give you the stylish and practical BOFH mug. Let's face it, no sysadmin's desk will look fully decorated without one of these fine bone china receptacles. The mug features the famous BOFH logo front and back, neatly offset by the Reg url opposite the handle. Incredible. Finally, if you're a BOFH fan, don't forget to check out Salmon Days, our Bastard Operator-inspired pay-per-view streaming video live action comedy epic (US and UK only). ®
Lester Haines, 29 Jan 2002

Egg buys Zebank

Egg is to buy Zebank for E8 million (£5 million) in cash and expand its online banking business into France. The UK ebank will go live in France – which has the third largest financial services market in Europe - later this year. Egg expects to spend around £15 million in development costs to get the venture off the ground. And it also intends to spend an additional £50 million in marketing and building up its brand. Egg reckons it will attract one million punters in the first three years and predicts it will make a profit by the end of 2004. Zebank – owned by Groupe Arnault and Dexia – was France's first e-bank when it launched in February 2001. A year on and it has 70,000 customers and 120,000 accounts. According to Egg, Zebank customers are "up-market and metropolitan" with the majority of them living around Paris. Zebank employs around 300 staff, although this is expected to grow as the business increases. Last week, Egg confirmed it was in talks with Zebank after originally refusing to comment on newspaper reports that a deal was on the cards. By late morning shares in Egg were up 9.5p (6.5 percent) at 155p. ® Related Story Egg to buy Zebank?
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 2002

New BT chief rules out network sale

BT's new chief exec, Ben Verwaayen, said yesterday that the telco's network is not for sale. Speaking at a press conference in Munich, the new broom sought to draw a line under speculation that BT might consider selling part, or all, of its UK network. The move – just days before Mr Verwaayen officially takes up his post as the head of BT – is designed to end the uncertainty over BT's future strategy. Mr Verwaayen said selling the company’s fixed line business made "no sense". Last year German investment bank, West LB, offered £18 billion for BT's landline phone network. And Earthlease, a consortium led by Babcock & Brown and Chancery Lane Capital, bid £8 billion for BT's local loop, the wires that connect homes and businesses to its network. The strong stand by BT's new boss will, no doubt, be welcomed by BT Retail's CEO, Pierre Danon. In an interview with The Register last year he said he was "fiercely opposed" to the sale of the network and was adamant that BT had to retain control of its phone network. He said selling the network would be the "most stupid thing you can do". ® Related Story BT Retail chief 'fiercely opposed' to sale of local loop
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 2002

Cookie monster bites Netscape and Mozilla users

A security bug in Netscape and Mozilla browsers could allow a malicious web site operator to access cookies on users' computers. The vulnerability, which affects Netscape older than 6.2.1 and versions of Mozilla prior to 0.9.7, allows an attacker to steal a user's cookies - if he succeeds in tricking a victim into visiting a particular URL. Cookies are often used to identify and authenticate users to a Web site. If an attacker can steal a user's cookies, then they can impersonate that user. How much damage could be caused through this is dependent on how a particular site uses the cookies. Although Netscape states it is not aware of active exploitation of the bug, the issue is a concern because the exploit could be conducted with something as simple as an image tag in a Web page or email pointing at a maliciously crafted URL. There's no requirement for active scripting to be enabled for the vulnerability to work. Netscape advises users to upgrade to the recently released version 6.2.1 of its browser or Mozilla 0.9.7, which are free of the vulnerability. Netscape Communicator 4.x is also immune from the glitch. ® External links Netscape's security advice Unofficial cookie FAQ Analysis by Marc Slemko, who discovered the bug
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002

Solaris on Intel out? Does that mean Linux is in?

It's not that Sun is killing off Solaris on Intel, it's simply that the company isn't planning yet to move Solaris 9 to the Intel family. Graham Lovell, Sun's director of Solaris product marketing, explains that Sun isn't making any further investments in Solaris on Intel for several reasons and that the company may yet port Solaris 9 to Intel. Sun resellers doubt that this is the case. One anonymous Solaris network integrator from Florida said flatly, "It won't happen. Solaris on Intel was always meant to tempt people into buying high-profit margin SPARC systems. With the BSDs and Linux taking most of the Unix on Intel market, there wasn't any business reason to continue Solaris on Intel." As Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group, puts it, "Solaris on Intel was no longer leading to any revenue capture for Sun." Solaris 8 on Intel, which Lovell claims has had more than a million downloads, will still be available for the next two years and then get limited support for five more years. For device drivers and similar needs, though, users will need to look to the BSD Open Source community. Still, there can be no question that Sun is moving slowly away from the Intel chip family. But is Solaris' move away from Intel an opportunity for Linux vendors? Quandt doesn't think so. "I haven't seen a significant installed base for Solaris on Intel. Where I've seen it has been mostly in education and research institutions. I think it unlikely to impact enterprise companies." And, in any case, she thinks Solaris on Intel customers may find the structurally similar BSD operating systems "the better answer." Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera, thinks that Sun's move away from keeping Solaris on Intel up to date does represent an opportunity, but not for Linux, but instead for Caldera's Open Unix, its cross between UnixWare and Linux. He noted, "Caldera has a strong relationship with Sun. Sun is a partner and investor in Caldera, and we are very interested in continuing our work with them." But he also thinks that "Sun's decision demonstrates the consolidation happening on Intel, and essentially makes Caldera the only alternative for Unix on Intel." But Mark deVisser, Red Hat's vice president of marketing, thinks that Sun's move out of the Intel platform does represent an opportunity for Linux. "We have long stated that our greatest market share gains have come from the Unix camp, so it is no surprise that the real opportunity for Red Hat is in the Unix-to-Linux migration. Amazon is one such customer who migrated from Unix to Linux at considerable cost savings, and we're seeing much more momentum in this direction." The marketplace will decide whose vision of the future turns out to be the clearest, but one thing is for certain: Open Source wins. Whether it's BSD, pure Linux or Linux -elated operating systems like Open Unix, or Pentium III and IVs or the Itanium, the only significant Unixes running on Intel platforms in the future will be Open Source. © Newsforge.com. All rights reserved. Related Stories User fury as Sun puts x86 Solaris to sleep Intel sabotaged Solaris on Itanic - Sun

Back Microsoft and win an iPaq

Back Redmond and win an iPaq? Strange but true, this was indeed the offer made to a select mailing list of likely Microsoft supporters by lobbying group Americans for Technology Leadership, according to an AP report today. The offer was made in a mailshot to attendees of this week's Conservative Political Action Conference, a likely bastion of Microsoft supporters if ever we've seen one. ATL, it appears, is utterly unabashed by the matter, with executive director Jim Prendergast arguing that the iPaq is just a tool to get people involved, and certainly not a bribe. ATL has been soliciting pro-Microsoft letters as part of the public comment process on the proposed MS-DoJ settlement. Comment on the subject had to be with the DoJ by yesterday, and the DoJ now has 30 days to publish it in the Federal Register (no relation). 'Publish' may however be something of an exagerration. During the trial years when it wanted Microsoft to look bad the DoJ merrily (if somewhat bulkily) posted PDFs of practically everything, but now it seems not to be inclined to go any further than the bare legal minimum of Federal Register publication. But as the Federal Register itself has an online presence, we shouldn't consider the comment entirely buried. Although the deadline for comment has now expired, ATL's site (which, humorously, seems not to work with The Register's copy of Opera) was still soliciting comment today. No mention of iPaqs in the online form however, you'll be saddened to hear. ATL describes itself as "a broad-based coalition of technology professionals, consumers, and organizations dedicated to limiting government regulation of technology." Its founding members include Microsoft, Staples, CompUSA, usual suspects the Association for Competitive Technology and Citizens Against Government Waste, the Small Business Survival Committee, the 60Plus Association (Conservative Grey Panthers for Redmond?), and a couple of Microsoft partners. It's difficult to figure out what it is the other founder, Cityscape Filmworks, does, but we note that it managed to put in an appearance at an ACT "career program" as part of a national "Techies Day" last October. Small world. ®
John Lettice, 29 Jan 2002

US crackers top Internet attack league

Internet attacks are on the rise and more crackers come from the United States than any other country. That's the main findings of a study by real-time security services outfit RipTech of attack trends obtained from a sample of more than 300 companies in more than 25 countries during the last six months of last year. In the first such analysis by the firm, RipTech discovered that 30 per cent of attacks originated from the USA. South Korea (9 per cent) and China (8 per cent) also figured high in the League of security villains. The rate of attack activity has increased substantially, with cracker assaults per company increasing by 79 per cent between July and December 2001, RipTech reckons. This flies in the face of findings from some US monitoring agencies, but then again RipTech is looking at a different set of data which it argues is superior because it is carried out automatically and doesn't rely on firms reporting problems. We'll inject a note of caution here by saying the basis of the report is to promote the need for RipTech's managed security offerings. That said the firm correctly identifies that its attack trend data gives decision makers access to factual information they need to assess and mitigate the risk of cyber attack. RipTech figures show different industries suffer significantly different rates of attack intensity and severity. High tech, financial services, media/entertainment, and power and energy showed the highest number of attacks per company, each averaging more than 700 attacks per company over the past six months, RipTech reports. Power and energy companies were assaulted with twice the mean number of attacks recorded by organisations in other sectors. Crackers were also more inclined to target publicly quoted companies and larger firms, the study also found. Adjusting for the number of Internet users in each country, the intensity of attacks from Israel is nearly double the attack intensity rate of any other individual country. ® External links RipTech's Internet security threat report Related stories Hacking activity plummets say US experts Future trends in security - 3i survey Look what they've done to my database, Ma Russian hacker breaks into US bank database What Billg's new security effort will cost
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002
server room

Cisco pulls plugs on new Scottish office

Cisco has shelved plans to establish a Scottish office that would have housed staff from two of its existing three centres in the country. The economic slowdown has forced the networking giant to review its long-term real estate plans and drop plans to unify its Bellshill and Cumbernauld offices, Cisco spokeswoman Angela Hesse told us. Each of Cisco's three facilities (which also includes an office in Edinburgh) will remain "intact" but the decision will come as a blow to the City of Glasgow, the front running location for the site, which hoped the facility would lead to the creation of new jobs in the area. Cisco operates a decentralised operation throughout Europe and reports that it intended to establish a new European headquarters are inaccurate, the company tells us. Last year, Cisco announced plans to shed 8,500 as a slowdown in telecom spending hit its revenues. At its peak the firm employed 48,000, including around 4,000 temporary workers. Recent financial statements by the firm indicate sales have improved since then. In November, Cisco posted income of $332 million on the back of $4.4 billion sales in Q1. Taking into account one-time charges, the firm recorded an actual net loss is $268. Q1 sales were up three per cent from the previous quarter, but 32 per cent down from the $6.5 billion recorded in Q1 2001. ® Related stories Cisco does a road runner from Wile E Coyote plan Cisco beats the Street
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002
SGI logo hardware close-up

Symbian gang of five stumps up another £20m funding

Symbian's shareholders have dug into their pockets to find an extra £20.75 million to take it "through the next phase of its development." The money comes pro-rata from existing shareholders Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia and Psion (which warned it would likely have to cough up last autumn), and from Sony Ericsson taking up Ericsson's pro-rata subscription rights. There is as yet no sign of a transfusion from NTT DoCoMo, which favours Symbian but remains only a rumoured potential shareholder. Symbian, which announced the new round of financing today, has to deal with the problems of cash-strapped shareholders, stalling mobile phone sales and slow delivery of next generation technology. It is intended, as Sony Ericssion president Katsumi Ihara puts it, to be "the standard operating system for 2.5G snd 3G mobile phones," and we do not as yet have a whole lot of these around, do we? Nor indeed, do the actual shipping Symbian devices yet do 2.5G, never mind 3G; the first 2.5G Symbian device will be the Nokia 7650, due out in Q2. In the meantime Symbian is forced to rely on a bijou stage army of "Symbian OS devices," consisting of the Sony Ericsson R380 and Nokia 9210 and a clutch of geriatric Psions, several of which have now been unshipped. It's eloquent testimony to Symbian's need for a little more dosh to tide it over. Symbian does have a fairly substantial clutch of licensees now, so it clearly has prospects. And it even seems to have Motorola back on-board and enthusing, albeit vaguely. Motorola it was which, last January, mugged Psion's consumer aspirations to death by pulling the plugs on the Symbian OS Odin smartphone project; it subsequently demonstrated its impartiality by mugging a PalmOS one too. Now, company Personal Communications Sector president Mike Zafirovski tells us: "Symbian OS will play a key role within Motorola's product portfolio... Motorola believes that Symbian OS provides handset manufacturers with an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of compelling new multimedia services." What this adds up to in beans for Symbian, however, we know not. ® Related Story Smartphone, Symbian OS roadmaps
John Lettice, 29 Jan 2002

Aramiska in Northern Ireland broadband deal

Businesses in Northern Ireland are being offered grants to hook up to broadband by satellite Some 250 small and medium-sized businesses could receive up to £1,500 each to subsidise set-up and running costs for hi-speed Net access supplied by Aramiska. The scheme is a public/private initiative funded by the Industrial Research & Technology Unit in Lisburn. This is yet another example of money being used to "pump prime" areas where broadband services aren't readily available. Since the cash helps stimulate demand, it gives providers an incentive to make services available in areas deemed to be commercially unattractive. Aramiska is due to launch its service in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK at the beginning of March. It says it has already pre-sold between 60 and 70 systems to companies keen to get high-speed Net access. This isn't the first time that the private sector has teamed up with the private sector to roll-out broadband. In December, the South West of England Regional Development Agency said it would invest £12.5 million to help get SMEs in Cornwall online. The cash - which includes European grants - will be used to provide 3,300 businesses with ADSL access from BT. And in September, businesses in the Coventry and Warwickshire were offered £7 million to help subsidise broadband. ® Related Stories Cornwall gets DSL Business broadband subsidised in Midlands
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 2002

Kodak sued in camera fiasco

More than 200 people have contacted the lawyers leading the legal fight against Kodak and its disputed cut-price digital camera offer. They claim they are dissatisfied with the way they have been treated by Kodak and are eagerly awaiting the outcome of legal action against the camera company. London-based law firm Beale and Company - which has taken up the case on behalf of a client - has already issued proceedings against Kodak at Ilford County Court. The case is due to be heard in the spring. Should Beale and Company win the case then it's possible that thousands of people who took up the offer could benefit from the decision. The case revolves around the pricing of a Kodak digital camera recently advertised on its Web site for £100. More than 2,000 visitors jumped at the chance to snap up the camera, which usually retails at around £329. Although the punters received emails from Kodak confirming their order the camera firm maintains this was an error and has refused to honour the sale. Writing for The Register earlier this month, Michael Archer, a partner at Beale and Company said: "Most consumers would believe, having received such an acknowledgement from the site, having placed their order and given their credit card details and been told that the £100 will be charged to their card, that their purchase has been made. "Terms on the site do not make it clear that this does not represent confirmation that the purchase has been made and it would be very surprising if a court were to say that no contract yet existed," he said. No one from Kodak was available for comment by press time. ® Related Story Kodak discount camera fiasco
Tim Richardson, 29 Jan 2002

Check Point looks to bridge small biz security gap

Check Point Software is going after the SME market with firewall products tailored to the needs of small offices. The VPN-1/FireWall-1 SmallOffice Next Generation and lower-end Safe@Office/Home Pro products, which are based as the same underlying stateful inspection technology as Check Point's corporate offerings, are targeting at locations up to 50 users. Niall Moynihan, Check Point's technical director, said it has simplified installation with web-based management and technology to apply standardised policies which can be updated by service providers or users. The products offer a "service orientated" solution that Check Point's users, resellers and potential telco partners have been asking it to provide for some time, he added. Check Point is mounting a concerted push on a market already staked out by competitors like SonicWALL, whose products come in at around $450, SmoothWall (which provides a GPL product) and others. Safe@Office costs between $599-$1199 for 10-25 users and prices beginning at $899 for VPN-1/FireWall-1 SmallOffice NG, the Check Point products are competitive to other commercial product Nokia, Celesix, Intrusion Inc., and VPN Dynamics will be delivering security appliances or servers pre-installed with VPN-1/FireWall-1 SmallOffice NG. Safe@Office and Safe@Home Pro products will come with Check Point's subsidiary SofaWare's SofaWare S-box appliance. Although the firm has weak brand awareness in the SME market its technology is well known and respected by ISPs, which can be expected to become the main resellers. Certainly the products make a lot more sense than Check Point's subsidiary SofaWare's recently introduced Safe@Office consumer appliance, priced at the princely sum of $299. Even if its rented from service providers to frightened punters this still looks like an expensive choice for the price-sensitive consumer market. That's not such an issue when working out ways that firms can connect telecommuters to corporate networks using SofaWare's Safe@Home Pro, which costs $399 with the addition of VPN features to what is essentially the same consumer box. ® Related stories Check Point touts firewall for home broadband users Software firewall vendors under sales pressure
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002

ElcomSoft attacks DMCA in Sklyarov test case

ElcomSoft, the employer of freed Russian software developer Dmitry Sklyarov, will attack the entire basis of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) when its case comes to trial. The Russian firm will seek to establish that the DMCA is vague, overly broad and was misapplied in its case, according to motions filed by ElcomSoft's lead attorney, Joseph Burton, InfoWorld reports. The arguments are made in a series of motions filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Sklyarov was arrested and slung into jail in July following a court case instigated by Adobe. The California software company pulled the legal trigger in response to a presentation made by the Russian programmer pointing out the shortcomings of eBook security at last year's Defcon conference in Las Vegas. He faced charges punishable by up to 25 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Adobe attracted huge opprobrium for its actions, and in the face of a self-inflicted public relations nightmare, quickly withdrew support for prosecution. However, the Department of Justice took up the reins and even though Sklyarov was released on bail of $50,000 in August, he still had to remain in the US. A legal agreement made in December "deferred" the prosecution against Sklyarov and allowed him to return home, on condition that he return to the US to testify in the case that remains against ElcomSoft. Legal experts believe the deal should eventually clear Sklyarov of charges brought against him for distributing Advance eBook Processor, an app which busts the access controls on Adobe's eBook reader. The case against ElcomSoft and Sklyarov became a cause celebre among white hat hackers, who objected to jailing a programmer simply for coding and distributing software. There were also concerns that, at the behest of the entertainment industry, the DMCA was being applied in a way which would stymie legitimate security research. ElcomSoft is expected to file a further set of motions in the case before its scheduled appearance in the San Jose court on March 4, Infoworld reports. ® External links Intellectual Property: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): "US v. Sklyarov" Archive US v. ElcomSoft - motion to dismiss Related Stories Case against Dmitry Sklyarov dropped ElcomSoft shies away from Black Hat Europe Sklyarov boss exhibits cojones UK Sklyarov protestors picket US embassy Dmitri Sklyarov indicted Sklyarov case shows business outweighs First Amendment Sklyarov freed on Bail Adobe Folds! Boycott Adobe campaign launches eBook security debunker arrested by Feds
John Leyden, 29 Jan 2002

Palmisano confirmed as IBM CEO

The only secret was when the announcement would be made: Sam Palmisano, the president and chief operating officer (COO) of IBM, will become CEO when incumbent Lou Gerstner steps down in March. This is by way of smooth succession planning. Palmisano was anointed Gerstner's successor by everyone, including us in July 2000, when he was made president of IBM, as well as COO. At the time we wrote: "He is regarded as the catalyst who transformed IBM from a hardware company to a services company". Palmisano is an IBM careerist, unlike his soon-to-be predecessor Gerstner, who made his reputation and fortune at Nabisco. Last July, Gerstner told close colleagues that he would not seek a renewal of his contract when it expired in March 2002, according to Sunday Business, a UK financial newspaper. However, it's confirmed today that he is staying on as chairman until the end of 2002. Palmisano will probably get this job too. John Thompson, head of IBM's software business, is retiring too. At one time, he was regarded as a very strong contender for the top slot at the company, but time ran out. His misfortune was to be too close in age to Gerstner - they are both 59 years-old. Palmisano is 50. ® Gerstner's 'I fell in love with IBM' email memo to the troops Dear Colleague: When I joined IBM on April 1, 1993, there was no thought about my retirement date. The Board of Directors asked me to focus on one short-term objective: save the company. Given my very limited knowledge of IBM at the time, I quite honestly did not know if that could be done. I certainly didn't know how long it might take. Well, with the support and leadership of thousands of IBMers, we did turn the company around. That work, and my original mandate, was largely completed by the mid-nineties. But along the way, something happened -- something that, quite frankly, surprised me. I fell in love with IBM. I decided, like many of you, that this was the best company in the world at which to spend my career. IBM is a fascinating, important, frustrating, exhausting and fulfilling experience -- and I've enjoyed every minute (well, maybe not every minute)! But here we are nearly nine years later, and now it is time to address retirement. I have always used these e-mails to speak with you about the most important developments and our strategic direction. I want to do that again now. Moments ago, the Board of Directors elected Sam Palmisano to be Chief Executive Officer of our company, effective March 1, 2002. Also, John Thompson, vice chairman, announced his intention to retire from the company and the Board on September 1, 2002. I know the entire IBM team joins me in thanking John for 36 stellar years of IBM service -- a wonderful career that included building our software business, and that culminated with focusing the way we identify and pursue new market opportunities. At the Board's request, as well as Sam's, I will remain as Chairman until the end of this year. From March 1 on, Sam is our new leader. My job will be to help him in whatever ways he seeks my time and counsel. Let me say something about the timing of this transition, because some people believe IBM CEOs are required to step aside at age 60. That's not so. There is no rule or age limit that requires me to do this now. I am doing it because I am convinced that the time is right. The company is ready, and so is the new leader. I have never felt more optimistic and confident about our future. And those are the best circumstances under which to make this sort of change. Over the past two years, Sam and I have forged a strong partnership to prepare the company for a transition in leadership. Supported by a fine Board of Directors, we have undertaken a process that has been disciplined, transparent and thorough. Many of you know Sam. Thousands of you have worked for him. He's an exceptional leader, passionate about our business, committed to our principles and values, and steeped in the disciplines that are critical to our success. Beyond those critical qualities, Sam bleeds Blue. And because he does, he understands the character of our company at its soul, the incredible world-changing things it alone can accomplish -- and how it must continue to change in the years ahead. I know you will give Sam all the support you so generously provided me over many years. It has been the privilege of a lifetime working with you these past nine years. I am so proud of so many things that we have accomplished, far too many to list in this e-mail. All our hard work has brought IBM back. Today, our strategies are correct. Our capacity to innovate is unmatched. Our culture is moving in the right direction. And we have restored the pride all of us feel in this company. Those were pretty remote targets back in 1993, when so many had written us off and so few believed we had the will to survive. But in your gritty, classy, determined way, you never gave up. Thank you for restoring IBM's leadership. As I said, after March 1, I'll be available to help Sam and the entire leadership team in any way I can. And long after I step aside as chairman, I want you to know that I will be cheering and rooting for this magnificent company and its extraordinary people. I am an IBMer for life.
Drew Cullen, 29 Jan 2002