This week's Bunch of Fives from IT-minds.com got ambushed by Amazon.co.uk. IT-Minds' featured lead offer - 20 per cent off the Linux Administration Handbook - looked generous, until compared with Amazon.co.uk. So £31.99 on IT-Minds plays £24.57 on Amazon. What would you choose? Amazon gouged the discount even deeper to an unfeasibly generous 38 per cent. This is, we understand an unusually large discount from Amazon - maybe it reflects the fact that The Linux Administration Handbook is Huge and author Eva Nemeth is Yoda. We alerted IT-Minds to Amazon's pricing, and this morning promptly dropped its pants another 20 per cent. So guys, the new price is £23.99. This limited time offer finishes on Friday evening. Grab it while you can. ®
Transmeta yesterday appointed Matthew R. Perry as its president and chief executive officer. Perry, 39, succeeds Murray A. Goldman as chief executive officer and Hugh Barnes as president. Goldman, 64, will continue to serve as Transmeta's chairman and Barnes retains his seat on the company's board. Perry served as vice president and general manager at Cirrus Logic from April 1998 to April 2002, during which period he managed, in succession, Cirrus' Embedded Processors Division, Crystal Products Division and Optical Products Division. Before that, he held management positions at AMD and Motorola, and was an assistant professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas Tech University. He also serves on the board of directors of the Consumer Electronics Association, to which he was appointed in January 2002. ® Related Stories Transmeta cuts Q4 revenue forecast to $1m Transmeta: delayed chips to ship by year end Crusoe blade server pioneer picks Intel
Ingram Micro Europe is extending its "pan-European relationship" with Asustek to - more countries in Europe. Which kinda suggests that previously, the gig was not really pan-European. Coming on stream is the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland, joining system builders in Austria and Germany who can already source Asustek mobos from Ingram Micro. ®
Microsoft Corp has delayed a set of planned online services for consumers - named .NET My Services - in response to growing concern over security and lock-in to Windows, Gavin Clarke writes. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said yesterday it has delayed .NET My Services so it can introduce new features. The features will enable organizations to host their own services and protect consumers' personal data. Microsoft did not give a date for launch. Microsoft admitted .NET My Services has been delayed following a report in The New York Times. That newspaper said there had been resistance from partners who did not want Microsoft to come between them and consumer users of .NET My Services. News broke as Microsoft attempted to evangelize Windows developers to build .NET products and services during its TechEd 2002 Conference in Louisiana, New Orleans. Away from the event, company executives blamed hostility to .NET My Services from competitors over who would own personal data of consumers that used the services. Despite a concerted campaign, Microsoft has failed to silence concern about what happens to consumers' personal data stored in its Passport online authentication service. Passport is used to authorize access to .NET My Services, and information entered in Passport's 13 data fields is held centrally by Microsoft. Microsoft announced a set of 14 .NET My Services during a highly publicized media event in March 2001. The company attracted a handful of partners to the event, who signed up to Hailstorm and presented demonstrations and proofs of concept. Partners included American Express Co, Click Commerce Inc, Ebay Inc, Expedia Inc and Groove Networks Inc. Among the 14 services announced a the event by Microsoft were MyAddress, an electronic address book; My Profile, which includes name, nickname and special dates; and MyInbox, which includes items such as e-mail and voice mail. American Express demonstrated a Notifications and Payment service and Dirk White, director of the American Express interactive group, said: "American Express feels that we can provide real value to our customers using this technology. And for the consumer we believe that we can create a secure, private shopping experience." Twelve months later, though, none of the partners have launched .NET My Services-based offerings. Indeed, partners have been incredibly cagey, even downplaying participation in work with Microsoft during conversations with Computerwire. American Express is reported to have expressed concern that the Microsoft brand will displace its own under any such service. A Microsoft spokesperson said feedback asked Microsoft to support federation out of the box, be able to run in the enterprise and to support the addition of new services. He said Microsoft is now building the Infrastructure for customers to run the services themselves. He was unable to say what this infrastructure consisted of, but added while federation and support for multiple operators had been planned in later versions these would now appear in initial offerings. "What we have done in response to the feedback is to shift our priorities to make sure the technology we deliver is the technology customers want," the spokesperson said. Microsoft's concession over federated services is a massive loss of face to rivals. Liberty Alliance Project, due to deliver a set of specifications for secure online authentication, supports a federated model where organizations and consumers are able to retain control of personal data - instead of a single company. The group is backed by Microsoft's Palo Alto, California-based rival Sun Microsystems Inc. A spokesperson for Sun said yesterday: "[This] seems like a pretty clear indicator of industry support for a federated network identity standard allowing companies to manage and control their most important asset - their customer data." © ComputerWire. All rights reserved
Samsung Data Systems, the IT products and services arm of the South Korean industrial chaebol, has launched an assault on the emerging global market for unified Communications (UC) systems based on the OpenMail email platform it acquired from Hewlett-Packard Co last year. Samsung is offering a 90% discount per mailbox to email users who move to the latest Samsung Contact 7.1 version of OpenMail, as a precursor to relaunching the enterprise email system as a full-blown UC offering later this year. At its peak, HP boasted of supporting 15 million OpenMail boxes worldwide, and numbered a high proportion of Fortune 1000 companies in the customer base for its highly scalable Unix-based email platform. But in the last several years, OpenMail has lost out to competition from Microsoft Corp's Exchange server, and 12 months ago HP issued an "end-of-life" statement to OpenMail customers, warning them that there would be no new releases of the product, and placing a five-year deadline on continued support. Last November however, Samsung, one of the world's biggest OpenMail customers with 250,000 users across the company and an OEM of the system in East Asia, stepped in to acquire the product, acquiring an unlimited OEM license for the software, and assuming control of its Reading, UK-based development team for an undisclosed sum. According to Richi Jennings, chief architect of Contact 7.1, Samsung plans to turn the product into its first globally distributed enterprise Application, and an early leader in the emerging UC market place. Phase one of Samsung's relaunch strategy starts this week with the release of Contact 7.1 with a limited period offer (to June 30) of a 90% discount per mailbox for upgraders and new users. According to Jennings, Contact can be fairly seamlessly employed as scalable back-end email engine for a variety of clients including Outlook (which already constitutes 50% of Contact clients) and IMAP clients. The product is targeted at Lotus Domino, Exchange and Sun iPlanet users, but the chief initial goal is to migrate as many as possible of OpenMail's remaining five million mail boxes to the new version. As a straight alternative to their existing email platforms, Jennings claims Contact will offer superior scalability to Exchange, being suited to sitting a on very larger Unix servers rather than distributed networks of Windows-based departmental boxes, and it will also take on rivals on price and total cost of ownership. "Compared to Exchange or Domino it [Contact] is far more scalable and reliable and will need a lot less people to administer it," said Jennings. In a typical Exchange shop, a 1,000 mailbox system might typically require at least one full-time administrator costing around $100,000 per year. "Contact's scalability and reliability allows a single administrator to cope with a 10,000 to 50,000 mailbox system, bringing the TCO down to around $2 a year," Jennings claimed. The low TCO profile makes Contact suitable for use in very large enterprise installations, and as a platform for application service provider offerings. Samsung SDS is itself a major email ASP provider, and has in-depth experience of squeezing the maximum efficiency from Contact systems by consolidating multiple customers on one or several large servers. In the second phase of Contact's relaunch, probably around September or October when Samsung expects to deliver Contact 8.0, the company will begin repositioning the product as something far more than an email platform, and to begin its conversion into a multimedia UC system supporting email, voice mail, and a raft of multimedia and instant messaging options. The technology to do this is under development in Reading, where the original OpenMail development team has been retained to continue work on Contact's architecture planning and enhancement, while the international productization of the software will be handled by Samsung's established OpenMail OEM engineering team in Korea. In addition to this, Samsung has also inked an OEM deal with Yomi Oyj, a developer of carrier class, voice, email and messaging systems, which will see the Helsinki, Finland-based company's T-Element software integrated with Contact. Jennings concedes that unified messaging, the precursor to UC technology, has left a legacy of unmet expectations which may discourage customers from stepping up to the new integrated messaging technology planned for Contact 8.0. However, he argues that UM systems, based on multiple messaging engines loosely coupled at the application layer, were always destined to struggle to meet the demands of large scale implementations. In Contact 8.0, he said, Samsung plans to deliver a comprehensive messaging system, based on a single engine, and utilising a single large storage source for all categories of messaging content. Samsung believes the migration to a truly unified architecture for messaging is finally becoming both practical and necessary as enterprises come to explore the benefits of true convergence via technologies such as voice over IP. These developments open the opportunity to begin the consolidation of multiple legacy systems, such as PBX, first-generation voice mailbox systems and email platforms, and Contact is intended to be an early state-of-the-art example of what is possible when this is done. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
The Securities and Exchange Commission took the almost unprecedented step of commenting on an informal investigation yesterday, after reports that it had begun a probe into IBM Corp's financial reporting rocked the US financial markets, Joe Fay writes. The SEC said that it had opened an investigation into IBM but closed it shortly thereafter without taking any action. The statement followed reports yesterday that a research firm had found evidence that the SEC had opened an informal investigation into IBM. Yesterday's SEC statement led to a rebound in IBM's share price in after hours trading, after it was driven down 5.4% to close at $84.19, in the wake of the earlier reports. IBM's shares had been hit earlier in the week when the company issued a shock Profit warning. It was assumed that the claimed SEC investigation had been opened following controversy in February about the way that IBM reported gains on the sales of some assets, sparked by a story in the New York Times. Initially both the SEC and IBM refused to comment yesterday. The SEC never comments on whether it is investigating a company until it takes action. IBM said it never commented on its relationships with government agencies. In the meantime IBM's shares were pummeled, and the US markets as a whole took a beating, no doubt partly because of concern that a corporate icon in the US had attracted SEC attention. But in a dramatic move late yesterday, the SEC issued a public statement saying it had opened an investigation into IBM, but had closed it shortly thereafter without taking any action. An SEC spokesman refused to say when the probe had occurred, when it had closed, or what it had looked at. He also declined to comment on why the agency had broken its standard policy and commented on an informal investigation. However, the mayhem in the wake of the original reports no doubt partly prompted the SEC to make its move. Reports of SEC investigations into technology companies have added an extra dose of paranoia to a still volatile US tech market, and indeed the stock market as a whole. The spokesman for the Washington-based agency confirmed that the agency had opened 49 investigations into corporations' financial reporting in the first two months of this year, compared to 18 last year. Fortune 500 companies were more represented than ever before, he added. A series of technology and telecoms companies have come under the SEC's microscope in recent months. However, the spokesman said there was no breakdown available which would show if technology companies were coming under particular scrutiny. He added that the agency has no policy to pay more attention to the technology sector than other industries. Earlier this month a Wall Street Journal article said the SEC had questioned some of IBM's accounting practices. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co has confirmed that it plans to commence production in mainland China by the end of this year, and that it is currently surveying prospective manufacturing sites. As the world's premier independent foundry operator, TSMC is the brightest star in Taiwan's chip industry, so its decision to join the throng of Taiwan company's moving to China is a blow for those worried that the country's economic independence is being eroded by the inexorable pull of China's huge market. According to a TSMC spokesperson, the decision to invest in China is seen as an "inevitable" step for TSMC. China's chip market was worth $12bn last year, but to trade effectively with China "you have to be there," the spokesperson said. TSMC and its near rival and neighbor United Microelectronics Corp would both probably have put down a manufacturing base in China before now had they not been prevented from doing so by Taiwanese government restrictions on investment in China. Those restrictions have now been lifted and Taiwanese companies, many of which feel they were badly disadvantaged by the government collar on Chinese investment, are now rushing to make up lost ground. Nevertheless, a wholesale abandonment of their home market is unlikely to happen, not least because Taiwanese chip makers are still forbidden from transferring 300mm wafer process technology to the mainland, and building 300mm plants on Taiwan is also a condition of being permitted to invest in China. So TSMC is sticking to its earlier promise to build two new 300mm plants on the island, the spokesperson said. © ComputerWire.com. All rights reserved.
Global Crossing Ltd is to write down $8bn of goodwill for its fourth quarter of 2001, and has warned that further billions may have to be written down at a later, unspecified time. The Hamilton, Bermuda-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 28, has yet to file its fourth-quarter 2001 accounts, and is currently facing probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice into its accounting, particularly allegations of the use of capacity swaps with other carriers to bolster their top lines. The write-down effectively removes all the goodwill on its balance sheet, and a future write-down would be against tangible assets that have fallen in value, such as its network. The company has said that it has received expressions of interest from over 40 possible acquirers, and those that doubted it were corrected earlier this week when an email from the telecom's attorney inadvertently revealed their identities by placing their identities in the cc field instead of the bcc field. Only two companies, Hutchison Whampoa and Singapore Technologies Telemedia, have signed a letter of intent saying they plan to make a bid, but the list of interested parties included Verizon, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
Four very big semiconductor companies are pooling their R&D budgets for the development of 32nanometer CMOS process technology. The participants are Motorola, Philips, STMicroelectronics and - crucially - TSMC, the world's biggest chip foundry. The deal is for five years, and the Fab Four expect to spend $1.4bn by 2005 on the JV. They say the deal is "unprecedented": we don't think so. Except for -maybe - Intel - all the major semiconductor makers are huddling together to share upstream costs. Also the new thing about this deal is Motorola - the other three already announced their intention to work together last month. Under the deal, Motorola and TSMC gain access to a new Crolles 2, a new 300mm fab JVed by STMicro and Philips, in the French Alps. This will enable the companies to roll out product quickly. The inference is that volume production will transfer to individual operators, but plans can always change. It's getting bloody expensive to build fabs, and the newest production techniques are bloody expensive to implement. The savings are downstream, when the small, cheaper chips are cut out of ever bigger wafers. ®
The networking market continues to show little sign of an early recovery. Juniper Networks, the main competitor to Cisco Systems in high-end routers, yesterday posted net revenues for Q1 2002 of $122.2 million, 63 per cent down on the $332.1 million for the same period last year. Juniper recorded a net loss of $46m for the quarter, compared with net income of $58.6 million in Q1 2001. It's the firm's fourth consecutive loss-making quarter. Q1 losses takes into account teh amortisation of deferred compensation of $13.6 million, amortisation of purchased intangibles of $1.6 million and write-downs in equity investments totalling $30.6 million. Scott Kriens, Chairman and CEO of Juniper Networks, said the company remains financially healthy and "committed to investment and innovation across multiple markets." He added the company is well positioned for industry recovery. Whenever that happens: Juniper doesn't expect to see much recovery in revenue for its current quarter. ® Related Stories Routers 'best platform for WAN connectivity' Juniper buried in telco gloom Juniper makes Q2 loss, but says Q3 and Q4 revenues won't slide
The privacy of UK citizens could be under threat following the publication of a report which outlines plans for Government departments to share personal information without people's consent. Details were published yesterday by the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) in its report Privacy and Data-Sharing: The Way Forward for Public and backed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. The report claims people would benefit from more "customer-focused public services" through the "better use of personal information". For instance, a link between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the UK Passport Service would mean that drivers would not have to send their passport to the DVLA when they apply for a new licence. Sharing information could also help prevent fraud and better target services aimed children and families on low incomes, for example. But while there are some instances where the sharing of information may appear to be commonsense, there are fears that data sharing between Government departments without the consent of individuals could also endanger personal privacy. And that is even before issues such as security and information integrity are taken into account. The report tries to calms fears by saying that when data is "used or shared without the consent of the individual (for example, in law enforcement), there is openness, transparency and consultation in the policy-making process of striking a balance between individual rights and the wider public interest". Snag is - is this enough? Those behind the report admit that unless data sharing is carried out properly it could severely undermine people's confidence in the Government. It warns that ignoring people's concerns "could carry the risk of seriously undermining society’s trust in public services and lead to significant and long-lasting harm to the effective delivery of services, including implementation of integrated e-government services". It quotes the 1991 Census when one million people failed to take part amid fears that personal information would be used to collar them for the highly unpopular Poll Tax. Launching the report on behalf of the Government yesterday Lord Falconer admitted: "Government needs to earn people's trust when to comes to collecting and using personal information about them. "But we can then repay that trust with services that are much more closely tailored to individual needs," he said. However, the Government's proposals have already come under fire from people concerned that it would hand too much power to bureaucrats. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) - a centre left think tank - claims the Government has not gone far enough to protect people's privacy. Said Ian Kearns of the IPPR: "The policy recommendations will be far more effective at improving data-sharing than they ever will be at building trust." The IPPR said that if data sharing on this scale were to be adopted then it would have to strengthen the Data Protection Act. ® Related Link Privacy and data-sharing: The way forward for public services - PIU
E-commerce sales are booming, according to the latest figures from research outfit BizRate.com. It found that year-on-year online retail sales for the first three months in 2002 jumped 41% to $11.60 billion compared to $8.22 billion during the same period a year ago. The trend-bucking improvement has led BizRate.com to revise upwards it prediction for total sales for 2002. In 2001, total online retail sales were just shy of $36 billion, but this is now thought to increase by 44 per cent this year to more than $51 billion. The number of orders are increasing and people are also spending more on their e-purchases. Chuck Davis, President & CEO of BizRate.com, is barely able to control his enthusiasm at this apparent turnaround. "There is a still a perception that online industries are faltering, but this is actually the reverse with online retail sales," he said. "The trend shows that consumers love buying online and are shifting their purchases from offline to online - and at ever-increasing levels - even though their overall spending might not be growing." With news like this it's enough to make me want to give it all up, blag some VC cash, and set up a dotcom... ®
It's spring in Seattle (OK, no it isn't), so it must be time for Microsoft's prestigious annual Government Leaders Conference, where movers, shakers and wannabees get to rub shoulders with Microsoft's High Command and sundry bigwigs. Glitter this year is provided by HRH Crown Prince Aleksander II of Yugoslavia, who may come in handy as a contact if he ever gets the throne back. There can however be a price to pay for all this high-level schmoozing. Last year for example UK E-envoy Andrew Pinder was - apparently willingly - co-opted for a not entirely accurate announcement suggesting Microsoft had single-handedly invented and implemented the UK's Government Gateway project in 90 days flat. Subsequent discovery that the Gateway, which Pinder then said was "bringing real value to our most demanding and precious resource: our citizens," was somewhat hostile to non-MS browsers did little to convince people that Pinder was not maybe just a tad MS-friendly. Nor indeed did his participation in the slightly less-prestigious Microsoft UK version, the Digital Britain Summit, later that year. But the participant list for Government Leaders Conference 2002 is out, and yes, there Andrew is again. As previously, there's a goodly contingent from the Cabinet Office, the four of them accounting for almost a fifth of the UK participants. They are Andrew himself, his private secretary Jo Clift, head of user experience Elizabeth Sands, and CEO e-delivery Alan Mather. We propose to return to the intriguing Mr Mather shortly, but as a taster, you can look at some of his holiday snaps here. His appearance in a Microsoft UK promo video here, happily burbling "I would always work with Microsoft" does kind of make one wonder what kind of E it is he's delivering. But as we say, we'll get back to Alan. Other UK names on the list worth watching are Mark Gladwyn, head of the Criminal Justice Integration Unit, and Tony Crimmens, assistant chief constable of Northumbria and apparently some kind of custodian for HOLMES2, the Unisys-built Home Office Large Major Enquiry System. If you go here, you will note that the Plod is claiming to have just logged your IP, and is proposing to investigate you. Sorry. You may also note that the Plod is running FreeBSD, which is impressive. But we digress. Also present will be reps from C2K, SchlumbergerSEMA and KPMG. Cabinet Office contractors, perchance? It may just be our being foreign, but the US list seems much less fun. There is Howard Schmidt, ex-MS and now vice chair of Dubya's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, a brace from the Computer Crime and IP section of the DoJ, and the IT director of the State of Utah, aka Novellville. Now, whose side are they all on? Full list of junketeers, spanning the globe, can be found here, so you can all play this game, no matter where you live. The conference kicks off on Monday, be there or be square. And if you go here, you'll see it's being introduced by somebody who's not there any more anyway. Oops. ®
Bradley Kuhn, vice president of the Free Software Foundation, says the organization is contacting representatives because the company has not included source code with its "sneak preview" releases. Lindows CEO Michael Robertson says his company will comply with the GPL when the product is released to the public. Kuhn says a Lindows insider tipped the FSF off to the possibility of missing source code. Lindows insiders are those who have registered and paid a $99 fee to receive beta releases of LindowsOS and other non-public information. LindowsOS is a distribution based on the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the GNU General Public License. The GPL states, in part, that the program instructions in their original form as written by the programmer (source code) must be available to users of the program. The GPL also requires that users be allowed to copy, modify and redistribute the program freely, but they must in turn provide the source code. Robertson does not deny that the source code for LindowsOS isn't included in either of the two beta releases. "It's a work in progress. We're hopeful our first release will happen around the middle of the year. When we release an official version, all the GPL pieces will be properly distributed." Robertson doesn't appreciate the negative attention focused on the Lindows project, likening it to "eating your young." He says he is surprised that "some in the Linux community are quick to cast aspersions, with no facts." Robertson points to his contributions to the Open Source community as proof that he has its best interests at heart, beginning with his career at MP3.com. "We battled for the consumer at every step. We battled for open formats. We fought against secure music schemes. And we made contributions to Open Source software, since MP3.com was entirely LAMP based." And now that he's working on making the Linux desktop a reality, Robertson says his dedication to Open Source continues. "We've joined KDE League at the highest corporate level. We hosted and sponsored Wineconf 2002. We worked with the project leader to identify the top 25 contributors and paid for roundtrip airfare for all of them, from as far away as South Africa and Norway, to San Diego. There was no registration fee. We also sponsored LPBN.org to broadcast the event. "We've agreed to sponsor the upcoming http://www.lindows.com/debconf2">Debian conference. Our sponsorship included funds to pay for an awards banquet for all attendees, as well as travel support for some. We've made a large investment in an Open Source company; we've also paid about a million dollars to get code produced ... We've paid these funds to companies as well as individuals." And, he says, support for Linux and the Open Source community will also come by way of ingenious marketing. "If we can get to 5% market share, an ecosystem of healthy Linux companies will emerge which will be around for the long run. Look at the incredible things that would happen. Hardware manufacturers will ship Linux drivers for their peripheral devices, in the box. Computer stores will dedicate sections of their store. Major OEMs would ship computers with Linux. It's a travesty you can't walk into major retailers today and buy a computer running Linux." And while the code is important, that is not what it will take to get Linux to "20 million desktops." Robertson says to help more people understand Open Source, better marketing and lobbying is needed. "And yes, battling Microsoft and their huge coffers which influence OEMs, retailers, politicians, and the press in ways you only understand if you talk to them personally, which I have. "Hopefully, Lindows.com will contribute on each of these fronts, but it will take more than one company. It's a shame that virtually every commercial Linux company has abandoned the desktop. Our goal is to build a company that will give consumers a choice for their operating system. At the same time, we're committed to being a good corporate citizen and being a supporter of Open Source for the long run." Robertson seems dismayed by the FSF's attempt to enforce the GPL. "No wonder there's virtually no healthy Linux companies. The community seems to attack them when the real focus should be elsewhere." Robertson says that many of the critical pieces of GPL code that have gone into Lindows have been distributed back to the community already. "Where do you think that Codeweavers got their code for Crossover Office?" he asks. A high level source at Codeweavers confirms that Lindows has indeed contributed an "enormous amount" of code to the Wine project. But while Crossover Office contains code that was created in conjunction with Lindows, it has also been built on code that was around before Lindows existed. According to the Codeweavers source, Lindows returned modifications to the Wine codebase only because it was persuaded by Codeweavers staff to return it. The Codeweavers/Lindowsassociation was terminated in part because Lindows wanted to be able to keep its Wine modifications private. © Newsforge.com. All rights reserved.
The charges against three Chinese men accused of industrial espionage against Lucent were yesterday extended to include allegations of spying against four other companies. The trio, including two former scientists at Lucent's headquarters, now face 24 charges: the original conspiracy charge, 14 counts of possessing trade secrets, and nine allegations of wire fraud, AP reports. Prosecuters claim former Lucent scientists Hai Lin, and Kai Xu hatched a plot with former Lucent consultant Yong-Qing Cheng to become the "the Cisco of China" by stealing data related to Lucent's PathStar system. A "substantial amount of the PathStar source code" was sent to Datang Telecom Technology of Beijing, it is alleged. The new indictments allege that trade secrets were stolen from companies that licensed software to Lucent or sold circuit boards used in PathStar, as well as Lucent itself. Telenetworks, a unit of Next Level Communication; NetPlane Systems, a subsidiary of Mindspeed Technologies; Hughes Software Systems and Intel subsidiary ZiaTech were named in the indictment as planed victims of the conspiracy, the news agency reports. The conspiracy charge could put the men in jail for up to 10 years. This charge, as well as each of the trade secret possession and wire fraud counts, carries a $250,000 fine. Convictions on the wire fraud charges can be punished by up to five years in prison. The three men deny all the charges. Their trial is scheduled to begin on September 24. ® Related Stories Lucent workers busted for inside tech swindle Lucent expects recovery to be delayed
Amiga's Microsoft relationship has borne near-instant fruit; the first Amiga Anywhere Entertainment Pack for CE, CE.NET, PocketPC and PocketPC 2002 is due to ship from Monday, April 15th. The pack comes with the Amiga Anywhere Content Engine, which allows Amiga Anywhere applications to run on Windows devices, plus four games, Planet Zed and Convex from ZeoNeo and Gobbler and Solitaire from Pulsar. Average size for Amiga Anywhere applications, according to Amiga Inc president and CEO Bill McEwen, is 300k. You can read the full release and see screenshots of the games here. It's not clear from this how they'll be made available or what the price will be, but we'd hazard a guess that this will be revealed in the Amiga Anywhere shop on Monday. Currently, the rate per game seems to be $7-$20, and there's an Amiga DE player for Windows for $19.95. ®
The European parliament this week voted through some amendments to the proposed The Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which mean that manufacturers will have to pay only for the recycling of their own kit. Under previous proposals, manufacturers were collectively responsible for the handling of waste products - which meant in theory that IBM, say, could be landed with a bill for recycling the PCs of a bust system builder. The WEEE Directive has been under discussion since almost before I was born and is to be rolled out across the European Union over the next couple of years. It sets minimum targets for the recycling of electronics equipment and establishers rules for the safe disposal of unusable (as opposed to 'obsolete' products. It also enshrines the concept of 'polluter pays'. The computer and electronics industries, and electronics retailers, have had years to get used to WEEE, but still, they are up in arms. IBEC, an Irish trade body, ludicrously, reckons that new recycling laws will discourage investment in the European Union, and this comes in the form of a warning from a Mary Kelly, the head of IBEC's environmental unit. The UK's Engineering Engineers Federation (EEF)warns that British consumers will have to pay more because of new EU recycling laws. Electronics Weekly's headline writer goes even further UK consumers to be hit by recycling scheme, says EEF. It reckons that the new rules will cost the electronics industry an extra £1bn a year, and there will be a one-off cost of £5bn for waste products created in the run up to the implementation of the directive. Then there is Orgalime, a representative of 30-odd European trade groups, which is unhappy that under present rules, companies could be forced to collect goods from private homes. They want the collecting done at the local authority level. We've not heard a dickey bow from electronics retailers, as the polluter pays principle means that responsibility is placed firmly in the lap of the manufacturers. Let's get this straight. The WEEE Directive is a good thing. Polluter Pays is a good thing. The current state of play sees consumers - as tax-payers - paying to clear up the crap. This is a hidden subsidy of electronics manufacturers and by extension, consumers as purchasers of electronics goods. The WEEE Directive will encourage investment - in recycling firms, in logistics businesses, in collection agents, in cleaner extraction techniques. Manufacturers will set to ways of making their goods easier to recycle and dispose. The European Union has got it right. ®
A team of researchers from Microsoft, IBM and VeriSign have put together a preliminary proposal for securing Web services with SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) extensions which will work with a variety of authentication and encryption schemes. Called WS-Security (Web Services Security Language), the proposed specification is said to be a general-purpose kit for developing security mechanisms tailored to individual needs. (The authors clearly realize that such a kit does not in itself guarantee security, since it may be implemented well or poorly.) The document provides a fairly solid list of problems along with examples of how they might be addressed with WSS. Some are better than others, and the team is soliciting criticism and suggestions from outside, though there doesn't appear to be a convenient link in the document to a contact person for the project. The document shows considerable awareness of the technical pitfalls, and makes a decent argument that something along these lines is better than nothing. The goal, obviously, is to make Internet communications confidential, tamper-proof, and reliably authenticated. Insofar as that can be accomplished without making it a compulsory regime, or a de facto compulsory regime by virtue of the colossal marketing and communications might of the three companies involved, we're all in favor of it. "WS-Security...is designed to be used as the basis for the construction of a wide variety of security models including PKI, Kerberos, and SSL. Specifically, WS-Security provides support for multiple security tokens, multiple trust domains, multiple signature formats, and multiple encryption technologies," the authors say. That's a claim which needs to be examined closely. It's not difficult to imagine how a trio like this could promote each other's interests to the detriment of competitors with a scheme like WSS. On the other hand, if it really turns out as flexible as is claimed, then I can't really fault it unless it ultimately fails to live up to its technical goals. One is naturally, and rightly, wary when heavyweight corporations join forces to issue a specification which could affect millions of users. But so long as WSS remains a contribution and not a mandate, and so long as it doesn't inhibit research into alternative approaches, and so long as it doesn't become chiefly a platform for triangular business promotion, there can be no harm in having another set of tools to choose from. It might even develop into something quite good -- you never know. ®
EMC wants the US government to ban the importation of Hitachi Data Systems products which - it says- infringes six EMC patents. The HDS products include HORC, HOARC and ShadowImage The data storage giant says it "refuse(s) to compete against infringing imitations of our own inventions", even though the HDS product "do not approach the levels of performance and functionality that EMC SRDF and EMC TimeFinder provide". No, it's the principle that is critically important, EMC, which "welcomes honest competition". So is it saying that HDS is providing dishonest competition? Well yes, actually, it is. "They clearly infringe on our core patents. Hitachi has a history of copying technology invented by others and infringing patents," EMC thunders. Japanese companies have a history of being a: weak on enforcing their own patents and b: folding quickly whenever a US lawyer picks up the phone. But not in HDS' case. EMC complains that it has been trying to resolved the patent infringement issues "amicably" (You're copying us, stop it and give us lots of money - that kind of amicable?). EMC sets out its case in greater detail here. ®
The Internet vandal behind the MyLife virus released four fresh variants this week, bringing the grand total to 10. The latest variants of the worm, which can delete files on an infected PC, are spreading to a modest extent and finding fresh victims despite their market similarities. Infection bearing emails, which all pretend to be screensavers, differ only in the words in the message and the infected attachment they harbour. Early variants of MyLife promised a screensaver that poked fun at former US President whereas MyLife-G and MyLife-J, for example, offer a less than flattering caricature of Israeli premier Ariel Sharon. Variants of the worm, which affect only Windows PCs, spread from infected machines to addresses in a victim's Outlook address book and MSN Messenger contact list. Andre Post, a senior researcher at Symantec's AntiVirus Research Centre, said that changes between different versions of MyLife, and the payload of the worm, were minor. He expressed surprise that the variants was spreading because the tricks used by the virus to fool people into double clicking on the attachment, and becoming infected, were crude. Many variants of the virus have been created because the origin virus writer (whose identity remains unknown) is experimenting in worm creation, Post reckons. Users are advised not to open suspicious attachments and to update their antiviral signatures to block the virus. Antivirus vendors are in the process of updating virus signatures to spot the malicious code and protection is now largely in place. ® Related Stories Bill Clinton virus proves user security sucks Undead virus infects the dim-witted Malware by numbers: online virus creation tool spotted
NTL has hired the founder of the NThellworld.com to create a new customer help site for the cableco. It's expected that the new NThelpworld.com will go live in around a month's time, providing Web-based support for the cableco's customers. However, the recruitment of Frank Whitestone - whose site has become a thorn in NTL's side after being a focus for disgruntled customers and employees - has split many who use the Nthellworld.com Web site. Either people back Mr Whitestone's decision to work for the company, believing that his move will help customers or they claim he has switched sides and is now faced with a major conflict of interest. "Personally I feel Frank should make a commitment one way or the other," writes one contributor to the debate. "Either he devotes his time and energy to his new job and hands over nthellworld to someone without a foot in both camps or he hands in his notice and concentrates on his own creation." Another writes: "I'm left wondering how you [Mr Whitestone] will reconcile your 'position' with ntl (if I understand correctly) with some of the less supportive (of ntl) comments that appear frequently on this (your) site????" Others believe Mr Whitestone's decision to help NTL and its customers is a positive move. Said one supporter: "Fair play mate to you mate - the best of luck! In terms of being a cop out - that I don't understand... I think the decision to join 'them' would have to be a very brave one indeed. Far easier to sling mud from a distance as some seem content to do. But to put your money where your mouth is and try and do something about it can't be argued with." Matters are complicated still further since nthellworld.com has also been a forum for disgruntled NTL employees to complain about their company and also leak confidential information. Now, some have expressed fears that their anonymity might be compromised - something vigorously denied by Mr Whitehouse. Wrote one unnamed employee: "When I read through the first few posts on this thread, I have to admit that my first thoughts were 'oh crap' and began to worry about the info you have access to about myself and other members of staff who post. I am sure that the same worries will have occurred to others. "To the best of my knowledge none of us have had any reasons so far to doubt your integrity, so I for one will continue to support yourself and the site." While opinion is split Mr Whitestone is certain that he can continue running the site and not be forced to hand it over to someone else. He told The Register: "People are entitled to their opinions... but there is no conflict of interest." Asked what he would do if some sensitive confidential information damaging to his employer was posted on the Nthellworld site, Mr Whitestone said: "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." Related Link Nthellworld.com thread
Seagate posted GAAP net income of $196m on revenues of $1.81bn for Q3 ended March 29, 2002. Strip out restructuring charges of $4m and pro forma net income was $199m. For the same period last year, the disk drive maker declared GAAP net income of $24 million and pro forma net income of $57 million for the year-ago quarter. In Q2, ended December 28, net income was $122m. ®
So you bought a Compaq iPAQ H3800 and the backlit screen sometimes doesn't work? Don't fret, you didn't break it, you're not alone. Compaq is on the case: in a customer advisory, the company says: "When applying power to the iPAQ H3800 Series Pocket PC, the backlight may fail to illuminate. Holding down the power button to engage the backlight may not provide resolution. "This issue is typically experienced after the unit has been off for several hours. The backlight may function correctly after a normal reset or an adjustment to the backlight settings, but may fail again if the unit is powered off for some time." Yes, but why does it do this, and how can it be resolved? Compaq doesn't have the answer to either question. But rest assured, it will issue another advisory as soon as it knows what to do. Then it will "advise you when it is appropriate to submit your iPAQ Pocket PC for a service event". What is a service event, anyone? ®
NTL has bought protest Web site Nthellworld.com for an undisclosed sum, The Register has learned. The cableco denies that it has done this to gag the critical site but instead claims that this online forum will help to improve customer service. Earlier today The Register reported how NTHellworld.com founder, Frank Whitestone, had taken a job at NTL to set up a new site for the cableco. Now, though, it's emerged that NTL has actually acquired the site (something Mr Whitestone failed to tell us when we first spoke today) - and Mr Whitestone's services along with it. In the short time since interviewing Mr Whitestone this afternoon he has now found it necessary to post a message on his Web site announcing details of the sale. Mr Whitestone started work at NTL almost two weeks ago but has only now, following enquiries made by The Register, decided to make details of the sale public. News that he worked for NTL only emerged two days ago. In his message Mr Whitestone says that far from being a corporate mouthpiece the "editorial policy remains unchanged. If it’s legal, it appears". That said, it's amazing how quickly he's managed to pick-up some corporate lingo adding : "Being embraced by the company, NTHW [NTHellworld.com] will now make a genuine difference to improving NTL’s products and customer service." A "genuine difference" hey? Not just a "difference" but a "genuine difference". He also says: "The company’s future vision is to earn the right to rename this site http://www.nthelpworld.com". Earn the right? Come off it will ya. You can bet all the gold in the Bank of England that NTL will ditch the hell bit in double quick time and opt for the more caring sharing Web name. In fact, why not go the whole way and call it ntheavenworld.com? Oh, and what of all those NTL employees who registered with the site anonymously, who leaked information and generally bitched about their company? It seems they're not to worry - for "all personal information contained in the forum database is 100% private - NTL do not own this information, nor will it be disclosed". So if you're an NTL employee with a guilty conscience then rest easy - you have Mr Whitestone's word that your anonymity remains protected. ® Related Story NTHellworld.com founder takes job with NTL
Tricord, the developer of niche cluster applications, has lost two senior execs in three days. On April 9, chief financial officer Steve Opdahl resigned, and on April 11, Kerry Yndestad, vice president of product development handed in his notice. Tricord does not have replacements for either, and has execs filling until new bodies are installed. This week, Tricord confirmed that it was the subject of a shareholder suit, which is seeking to wind up the affairs of the company. It is defending itself "vigorously". ® Related story Tricord is waste of space - shareholder
Infineon employees in Bavaria who belong to the IG Metall trade union participated in a warning strike today over pay. IG Metall also called on workers at Siemens and Epcos in the state to join in. In total 9,400 workers from the three companies took part in the walk-out over pay. The union wants 6.5 per cent pay rises for its members while the employers are offering 2 per cent. It is threatening a ballot for national strikes, unless agreement is reached. ®
Recently my colleague John Leyden wrote about chips from a company called Verichip which will be implanted in humans (. He expressed reservations about the privacy implications, as we turn ourselves into organic dogtags. These Last Days Ministeries Inc, a mystical Marian group-cum-we-guess-from-the-inc-bit-business, objects to human-implantable chips from a different standpoint. It's against Verichip and it's even more against a company called Applied Digital Solutions (ADSX), which has designed an human-implantable chip called The Digital Angel, on religious grounds. ADSX "call it 'technology that cares'. We call it the Mark of the Beast," These Last Days Ministeries says on its web sites. Here is some doctrinal background, helpfully published by These Last Days Ministeries: Apocalypse Chapter 13: 15-18 And it was given him to give life to the image of the beast: and that the image of the beast should speak: and should cause that whosoever will not adore the image of the beast should be slain. And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand or on their foreheads:. Marks on the forehead is where we are heading with implantable chips, Gary Wohlscheid, the president of TLD Ministries, argues. In an interview with Wired.com, he says: "Out of all the technologies with potential to be the mark of the beast, the VeriChip has got the best possibility right now. It's definitely not the final product, but it's a step toward it. Within three to four years, people will be required to use it. Those that reject it will be put to death." So we're not there yet, but near - 667 the Neighbour of the Beast. Unusually for an apocalyptic Christian group, These Last Days Ministeries comes from the Papist tradition. Its site is drenched with extreme Catholic imagery: "For a Free Miraculous Medal and a Rose Petal blessed by Jesus and Mary for cures and conversions, printed material and an order form." It's the kind of stuff my grandmother's mother went a bundle for - but twenty-first century human barcodes? For them it's already too late. ®