3rd > April > 2002 Archive

Verizon extends Express Network

Verizon Wireless LLC said yesterday it has rolled out its "third generation" Express Network to thirteen more US cities, meaning it can offer higher-speed mobile data services to 72 million people and a third of its own user base. Express Network is based on 1XRTT, the technology that allows high bit rates over CDMA networks. 1X networks are sometimes referred to as 3G, but mostly as 2.5G - interim-bandwidth services before full broadband 3G at up to 2Mbps is deployed. Verizon's service offers download speeds of up to 144Kbps, but on average between 40Kbps and 60Kbps, about the same as the average copper dialup connection. Users access the services via the Kyocera 2235 phone with Mobile Office kit, or by using the Sierra Wireless Inc AirCard 555 PC card in their portable computers. Customers currently on a Verizon voice plan of $35 a month and up can get the service for an extra $30 per month. The company also has an enterprise pricing plan based on data transfer - $35 for 10MB, $55 for 20MB and so on up to 150MB per month. Express Network, targeted mainly at business users, is now also available in Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St Louis, Dallas, Houston, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Lakeland, Key West and Portland. Ten other metropolitan areas in California and on the East Coast have been wirelessed up since January. The company hopes to have 50% coverage by May, and 75% coverage by the end of the year. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 03 Apr 2002

HP storage division carries on regardless of merger

table> Hewlett Packard's storage division is matching the attention-getting efforts of its counterpart at potential merger partner Compaq, and has announced what it called a "global strategy" in the area of greatest overlap between the two storage organizations, Tim Stammers writes. HP's announcement concerning its storage virtualization technology comes hard on the heels of a similarly high-profile statement from Compaq, related to its long-term storage management plans. If the merger takes place - as now looks quite possible - both of these strategies will be under threat, along with a number of other storage hardware products that also overlap between the two companies. The decision as to what will continue after the merger has almost certainly been taken, but for the time being both storage organizations are carrying on regardless, developing and marketing technologies of which at least some are certainly under major threat. Virtualization is the most clear-cut area of overlap between the two companies' storage technologies, and the announcement HP made yesterday builds on the company's $350m purchase last summer of virtualization start-up Storage Apps Inc. The virtualization technology developed by Storage Apps and now owned by Hewlett Packard is closely matched by technology still under development at Compaq. Building on its status as the only major storage supplier with a shipping virtualization technology, HP said that next month it will begin selling a cut-down version of the in-band virtualization appliance that was originally developed by Storage Apps. It will also start selling both the original device and new mid-market offering through the channel. Nora Denzel, vice president and general manager, HP Network Storage Solutions Organization described virtualization as the major plank of HP's storage management strategy. "This is the key to our FSAM, or Federated Storage Area Management, strategy to allow customers to increase the efficiency of their storage environment without adding more people," Denzel said. The cut-down version of the in-band virtualization appliance developed by Storage Apps will be called the SV3000. First unveiled late last year, it will sell for around half the price of the original HP SureStore SanLink. HP said that although the SV3000 is list-priced at $125,500, it is confident that its street price will be below $100,000 as promised in September. Codenamed Sava, the SV3000 can be used to virtualize HP storage arrays, and to complete local mirroring functions. It can be brought up to the same level as the SanLink, by adding support for non-HP storage arrays and hence heteregenous replication, IP-based remote mirroring, and snapshotting together with a built-in Fibre Channel switch. The remote mirroring is based on an implementation of SCSI over IP - something like iSCSI, but not iSCSI itself. "We can move to iSCSI as soon as iSCSI is ratified," said Genevieve Sullivan, marketing and operations Manager for HP storage Virtualization solutions. HP has certified EMC's Symmetrix and Compaq's MA 8000 for use with the SV3000 and SanLink, although Sullivan said the target mid-range customers for the SV3000 are more likely to be using EMC Clariion, Hewlett Packard Virtual Array, LSI, or Compaq arrays. HP appears to hope that the cut-down SV3000 will tempt resellers who might be daunted by the cutting edge nature of virtualization technology. Cutting back to the base-level of the SANlink appliance which is used by a small but definite customer-base will offer the resellers a "mature and known product," according to Sullivan. "We'll ramp up the resellers with the SV3000, and see how it goes from there, she said. Not only do HP and Compaq's virtualization developments match each other closely in terms of functionality - and so clearly represent a post-merger overlap - but they also have fundamentally different architectures, preventing them being merged into one product. While Compaq has for some time being developing an out-of-band virtualization appliance, the SV3000 and SanLink are in-band devices. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 03 Apr 2002

Taiwan fabs given go ahead for China ventures

Taiwan's chip vendors are to be allowed to invest in silicon factories on the Chinese mainland, but only after if their domestic factories are brought up to the state of the art. Last week, Taiwanese premier Yu Shyi-kun said that the government had decided to liberalize "small scale and low level investments" on the mainland by Taiwanese companies. Initially, investment will be based around "used wafer manufacturing equipment (including 8 inch and below)." Investment in new equipment will be discussed after two years. Before being allowed to invest in the mainland, however, manufacturers will have to have completed construction of their 12 inch wafers foundries and brought those plants to stable levels of basic production. The onset of 12 inch wafer lines offers much greater economies of scale than 8 inch wafer technology. The Taiwanese government said it wanted to ensure its chip industry maintained a global perspective and remained competitive, while ensuring the country's core technologies did not flow to the mainland. By holding the carrot of allowing investment in China, a vast potential market with low labor costs, the government encourages domestic manufacturers to upgrade their Taiwanese plants. The government expects relocation to amount to three low level 8 inch plants. By 2005, it expects more than eight 12 inch plants to be up and running in Taiwan. Thus, mainland production will be "an extremely small percentage" of domestic production. China is tipped as the next big thing in silicon production. Investment in chip equipment in the country is expected to hit $7bn by 2003. The country's share of Asia Pacific investment in chip plants is expected to increase from 5% last year to 20%. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 03 Apr 2002

Palm courts Pocket PC users in enterprise tools push

Palm Inc is to support Microsoft Pocket PC-powered devices with a new wireless database access product designed to help firm up its own enterprise credentials. The move marks an unprecedented step for Santa Clara, California-based Palm, which has only previously supported devices based on its own Palm OS. As such, it is also an affirmation by Palm that it intends to see through its plans to separate the activities of its software and device businesses. Palm said its Wireless Database Access Server (WDBAS) allows developers of wireless applications for both Palm and Pocket PC to tap into back-end databases in real time, rather than through more established means such as a web browser or synchronization software. These are vulnerable to loss of network connection and a failure to stay up to date, respectively. WDBAS is intended to provide the best of both worlds, making use of real-time data where network coverage allows, but reverting to offline data when it is not. Palm sees applications of the platform for wireless versions of enterprise applications such as CRM, ERP, and sales force automation Palm is placing great emphasis on the ease of use of WDBAS, which combines a data access API for handheld devices with a configurable server product that works with all common relational databases (Oracle, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase). This combination negates the need to write low-level networking and server-integration code, with developers only having to write applications that interact with the API. End-to-end security is handled by Certicom Corp's elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) technology. Palm said WDBAS developer seats are available now, with an Enterprise Edition available "later this year". Interestingly, and perhaps unwisely, Palm will not initially offer the technology outside of the US. WDBAS integrates closely with leading wireless application development environments from vendors such as Metrowerks Inc and AppForge Inc, both of which are offering WDBAs from their web sites. Palm said it is aiming WDBAS at IT departments and systems integrators. However, if the company considers the attentions of systems integrators to be a critical factor in the success or otherwise of its wireless database ambitions, it will not have reacted well to the announcement yesterday that PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, one of the global top-three IT consulting firms, had signed a deal with Oslo, Norway-based wireless database tools vendor Birdstep Technology ASA. The company did not respond to ComputerWire's requests for comment before we closed for press. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 03 Apr 2002

Sony sued by suicide mum

An American woman is taking Sony Online to court after her son committed suicide last Thanksgiving. The man was logged on to Everquest just minutes before he shot himself, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Despite repeatedly suffering epileptic fits while playing the game, 21 year old Shawn Woolley played up to twelve hours a day, quitting his job and leaving his family to spend more time with the addictive game. Now a Miami lawyer representing the unfortunate woman wants to force Sony to put cigarette-style warning labels on the game, cautioning that "extensive playing could be hazardous to your health". While players jokingly refer to the game as EverCrack, this lawsuit looks like another case of overambitious lawyers trying to make a quick buck out of bereavement. Shawn was an overweight loner diagnosed with depression and a schizoid personality disorder, using Everquest as an escape from every day life. Even if something that happened in the game did trigger his suicide, it's not something that is likely to happen to more stable Everquest users, and past experience has shown that warning labels aren't going to put people off playing the game for hours at a time. Rather more worrying is the story of another 21 year old Everquest addict, this time a college student who started skipping classes to play the game during his senior year. According to Jay Parker, a chemical dependency counselor, the student played the game for 36 hours straight and then suffered a severe psychotic break due to sleep deprivation. "He thought the characters had come out of the game and were chasing him. He was running through his neighborhood having hallucinations." This kind of incident is obviously rare, but it bear remembering that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Related story N64 Killed My Son! © Eurogamer. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 03 Apr 2002

Guy Kewney's Mobile Campaign

We spotted this new online publication recently in our regular trawl of Newsnow.co.uk, our favourite news aggregation service. It's called Guy Kewney's Mobile Campaign, and it does what it says on the tin. It's a news-and-views campaign to improve the lamentable state of wireless communications in Britain, and it's run by Guy Kewney, possibly the UK's best known tech journalist. Kewney, a former columnar for the Ziff Davis stable of magazines, has assembled some good writing talent, including Jon Honeyball (a favourite of ours) and talented whippersnapper Kieren McCarthy, on the contribs' panel. Right now the publication is free, but it will soon mutate into a subscription service. Guy Kewney's Mobile Campaign can be found at Newswireless.net. This is the name for Kewney's new Web news service, which focuses on mobile and wireless technologies. "The Newswireless Net looks at IT in general, but from the particular standpoint of a mobile data user," he says. Sounds like your bag? Then check it out. ®
Drew Cullen, 03 Apr 2002

Microsoft's anti-Unix campaign backfires

A $30 million advertising campaign jointly funded by Microsoft and Unisys to trumpet the superiority of Windows over "closed" Unix systems has turned into a public relations nightmare for the two companies. The pair launched the wehavethewayout.com website last week, with some ambivalent imagery apparently inviting cornered CIOs to jump through a Windows logo. Embarrassed by the revelation that the promotional website was actually running Apache on OpenBSD, which is precisely the kind of complicated, um "closed" system you shouldn't be using, Unisys sysadmins hurriedly switched the system over to a Windows/IIS combination. Last week, the campaign recommended users to switch to Windows instead of a system that "makes you struggle daily with a server environment that's more complex than ever." However the struggle seems to have intensified with the move to Windows, as it turns out:- Earlier this evening (Pacific Time) surfers could view a system error. As we write, the page simply returns a blank. Unisys registered the domain on March 20, according to DNS records. Calls to Unisys were not returned. But back to that imagery. The campaign didn't name the evil from which users should flee, but the graphic showed a floor almost entirely covered in mauve paint, mauve being the color of Sun Microsystems. So far, so good: but the alternative on offer was to jump through a window, which literate readers will know as defenestration, a popular way of inviting kings to commit suicide in 17th century Europe. The "jump to your death" route seems to be the path followed by the advertisers themselves, as the promotional website itself has performed some form of ritual suicide in its migration to Windows. Clearly Microsoft feels there's a message to be heard here, but it doesn't have much finesse in communicating it. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Apr 2002

Pension fund seeks Gateway board changes

Calpers, America's biggest pension fund, wants Gateway to change the way it elects board members. It is unhappy with the PC maker's financial performance, and it reckons that the directors of the company have it too cosy, the pension fund told the San Jose Mercury. Currently, Gateway's six board members have three years tenure and only one third are put up for election each year. Calpers wants Gateway to move to annual re-election for the entire board, it says in a filing submitted to the Securities and Exchanges Commission. By going public now, Calpers may intend to shame Gateway into adopting accepted ideas on best practice for corporate governance. But Gateway is digging in its heels - it says the current system provides stability while the company is restructuring. Calpers own 1.1 million shares in Gateway, while Ted Waitt, the founder and CEO, owns 30 per cent of the 324 million outstanding shares. It will be interesting to see if it can muster enough support at a Gateway shareholders' meeting held on May 16, to put its proposal to the vote at the next shareholders annual meeting. Even if Calpers succeeds in the first round, it will be difficult to overcome Waitt's voting block. ®
Drew Cullen, 03 Apr 2002

ATI takes Radeon 8500 to the Mac

ATI yesterday released a Mac board version of the Radeon 8500, its top performing graphics chip. The card is called the RADEON 8500 MAC EDITION, it retails at $299 and it supports Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. ATI is running a trade-in promo for PowerMac G4 owners on its web site. Customers get a $150 rebate (on their Radeon 8500 Mac board) which is swiped off their credit card. But to qualify they have to then send in their old graphics card, either the Radeon 7500 or Nvidia's GeForce 4MX. Sounds like a lot of bother to us. Do these promos actually work? ® ATI press release
Drew Cullen, 03 Apr 2002

Yahoo! Rips! Up! Privacy! Policy!

Yahoo! changed its privacy policy last week, contemptuously exposing all of its registered users to third-party spam, marketing offers and cold calls that they'd previously said they didn't want. As from now, Yahoo! mail users are exposed to a dozen unwanted "Special Offers and Marketing Communications", and users who've left their phone numbers with the portal will discover that they've been "agreed" to cold calling and junk snail mail, for good measure. You can change your preferences manually. This entails setting over a dozen "Enroll Me" options to "No". You'll also need to change the "Special offers from selected Yahoo! partners brought to you by Yahoo! Delivers" to prevent third-party spam, and most importantly (if you've left a mail address or phone number), deselect the contact options. A robotic email sent to Yahoo! users at the weekend failed to point out that they'd just been opted-in to a blizzard of spam. Instead, the portal pleaded: "Your privacy is very important to us here at Yahoo! … Our commitment to privacy hasn't changed." The email then begs users to provide even more detailed personal information with which they can be spammed: "We invite you to take this opportunity to update your personal information so you can continue to receive content and advertising that is most relevant and interesting to you." "Please do not reply to this message" Which by any measure, amounts to something less than full disclosure. Such a policy change is illegal, even in the most distant and barbarous seal-clubbing reaches of the British Commonwealth, Register readers point out: "In Canada, this action is illegal," notes Jennifer Friesen-Mercurio. "The actions of any organization must comply with the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Privacy, and the protection of human rights, is enshrined within the fabric of our laws. A person has the right to not have their life exploited for profit by marketing groups. or used in any way without their knowledge or consent. Even government officials are bound within these laws." Here's where you can delete your Yahoo! account. ® Related Stories Yahoo! charges! for! email! services! Yahoo! president! to! quit! Yahoo! to! shed! 400! jobs!
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Apr 2002

Hoax ‘Canadian PM’ rants at billg over Windows

Bill Gates was tricked into believing a mimic on the phone to him was in fact Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, according to a Globe & Mail report. That isn't exactly unusual, as a string of famous people have been conned on-air by Marc-Antoine Audette, but it seems Bill isn't particularly keen to take calls from the Prime Minister of Canada anyway. Audette said that it'd taken him a month to get through to Gates as an April Fool stunt for radio station CKMF-FM, and it was one of the hardest of his gags to set up. Gates apparently wasn't showing much interest in showing up to the fake economic summit "Chrétien" was trying to get him to come to. Audette's co-host Sebastian Trudel shows some mild irritation over this: "It would make sense if it took a month for a reporter to get an interview with Mr. Gates ... but this is the Prime Minister of Canada," he said. The reporter bit is not however strictly true; it depends on which reporter. Some years ago a gaggle of British journalists was flown over to Redmond to interview the Great Man, but unfortunately his plans changed while they were airborne. This resulted in an unsatisfactory cruise around the Microsoft campus in a bus for them (and no, they weren't allowed out), and then it was straight back to the UK, un-Gatesed. Note that this may not be entirely true, as we weren't there ourselves - but it ought to be. The intended gag of the "Chrétien" phone call, incidentally, was that the PM's Win95 machine would freeze as he was speaking to Gates, and "Chrétien" could then swear about whoever it was that invented it. But Gates no doubt gets prime ministers complaining about Windows to him all the time. And anyway, it was Steve Jobs who invented Windows, right? ®
John Lettice, 03 Apr 2002

MS accuses Liberate CEO of offering anti breakup deal

Liberate Technologies CEO Mitchell Kertzman was yesterday accused of trying to cut a an interactive TV deal with Microsoft in exchange for his support in fighting a breakup of the company. As part of Microsoft's defence in the Unsettling States (the continuation of US v MS by other means) antitrust action Kertzman was confronted with emails that did indeed suggest something to this effect. In March of last year he'd emailed MS exec Richard Emerson saying that Microsoft getting out of the interactive TV business by swapping it for Liberate stock would be a PR coup for Microsoft, and provide "evidence of a genuine significant move to a more industry-inclusive approach." As indeed it would have done. Microsoft has poured money into the cable business to little obvious effect, but is as usual perceived as wishing to engulf and devour it. If it had effectively pulled out of the business instead and put its weight behind Liberate, then it would have been making a remarkable, uncharacteristic, inclusive move. Pundits would have been inspecting the teeth of that particular gift horse for years, and the States' attorneys might now be having a tough time explaining why Microsoft wasn't a nice company at all. No, you're right, it's just too bizarre. Goodness knows why Kertzman was crazed enough to make the offer in the first place. In follow-up emails, however, he seems to have got perilously close to the line. He was yesterday saying that Liberate had lost business because of Microsoft anti-competitive activities, but in one mail to Emerson said he'd repeated "my opinion that Microsoft shouldn't be broken up" to a reporter. He explained this as part of an attempt to repair damage caused to the relationship by some other things he'd said, but was also put in the position of defending his description of Microsoft as "the Freddy Krueger of software" as all part of the rough and tumble of life in the software business. Kertzman's difficulties here are at least understandable. In order to operate in the software industry you almost certainly have to do business with Microsoft, and if you do business with Microsoft you're almost certainly going to be making and receiving offers. These can cut both ways in the courtroom, as Microsoft's attorneys seem now to have learned. ®
John Lettice, 03 Apr 2002

BT DSL ‘anti-competitive’ – Freeserve

Freeserve has launched a stinging attack against BT claiming the monster telco is running an "orchestrated campaign of anti-competitive behaviour". The UK's largest ISP has called on telecoms regulator Oftel to investigate allegations that BT is attempting to stifle competition in a bid to become the dominant player for retail DSL services. It's called on Oftel to force BT to cease all cross-marketing activity with BTopenworld immediately. In a letter to Oftel Freeserve claims BTopenworld - which should operate at arms length from the rest of BT - must have had prior knowledge of recent cuts in the wholesale cost of DSL. Freeserve claims that shortly after BT announced that it intended to reduce the wholesale DSL price to £14.75 per month, BTopenworld released plans to launch a £10 million advertising campaign. Freeserve alleges that BTopenworld also had in place a number of other arrangements concerning the marketing of its DSL service. Said Freeserve: "These announcements and activities demonstrate that BTopenworld must have received advanced notification of the wholesale price cuts with a view to positioning themselves within the market, ahead of the competition." John Pluthero, chief exec of Freeserve, added: "The 'Chinese walls' that are supposed to exist between BT Wholesale and BTopenworld may be fooling Oftel. But to the rest of us who understand the lead times needed to bring a new product to market it's obvious those walls are wafer thin. "There's now a realistic hope that broadband will at last begin to take off this year in the UK and Freeserve will play a big part in this; what must not be allowed to happen is to hand that market to BT through flimsy regulation of the incumbent's anti-competitive behaviour." he said. BTopenworld moved quickly to rebuff the allegations. A spokesman for BT's mass market ISP said Freeserve was "talking nonsense". "We vigorously deny these allegations," he said. Officials from Oftel have received the complaint and are due to meet with Freeserve shortly. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Apr 2002

Computer saboteur escapes conviction

A computer technician saw his convictions for maliciously spreading a computer virus struck out after a court decided his actions caused minimal financial loss. Last September, Herbert Pierre-Louis was found guilty by a jury of two counts of deliberately infecting the computer systems of his former employer, Purity Wholesale Grocers of Boca Raton, Florida. The prosecution argued that Pierre-Louis was motivation for his crime was a reprimand by his supervisor for work related problems ten days before the virus was transmitted, in June 1998. The case was only the second in the nation, brought under 18 U.S.C. Section 1030, which makes it a federal crime to send a computer virus that causes at least $5,000 in damage. At trial it was said that the virus put Purity's computer system out of operation for several days and ultimately cost the company over $75,000. Pierre-Louis faced a sentence of up to three-and-a-half years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000. But yesterday a Florida jury decided that the loss was less than $5,000, the minimum required for a conviction. Based on this US District Judge Alan Gold "erased" the conviction, AP reports. The news agency reports that the prosecution intends to appeal, but it seems that Pierre-Louis may escape punishment by exploiting a legal loophole (concerning a narrow definition of hacking) which has since been closed. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was amended last year to expand the definition of loss to include lost revenue from interrupted service as well as repair costs in assessing the damage caused by hacking. ® External links Statement issued on Pierre-Louis' conviction
John Leyden, 03 Apr 2002

PDA shipment growth slows

PDA shipments are set to grow by 18 per cent this year, according to the crystal ball gazers at Gartner Dataquest. They reckon some 15.5 million PDAs will be shipped in 2002 - up from 13 million units last year. While this growth is impressive, Gartner Dataquest notes that it is well down on the 114 per cent growth in shipments recorded in 2000. That said, analysts reckon the PDA market will firm up in the second half of 2002 before even stronger growth kicks in during 2003 as the economy hopefully recovers. Gartner Dataquest also reckons that spending on PDAs in set to increase more than 20 percent in 2002, up from $3.8 billion in 2001 to $4.6 billion. They also predict that the market will continue to edge toward devices that have colour displays, more powerful processors, and more storage capacity. Interestingly, three out of every four PDAs bought last year were sold to individuals who bought them with their own funds. The rest were purchased or re-imbursed by enterprises, which are beginning to realise the benefits of applications such as wireless e-mail or accessing corporate databases from remote locations." ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Apr 2002