5th > July > 2002 Archive

Court sets March date (!) for WorldCom trial

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has received a provisional date for its case against near-bankrupt US telecommunications giant WorldCom Inc. However, the company could be unrecognizable by the time the case begins as US Federal District judge Jed Rakoff has set March 31, 2003 as the potential court date. Clinton, Mississippi-based WorldCom will be charged with violating US securities laws by improperly booking $3.85bn in operating costs as capital expenses. However, the case will not be criminal, and therefore will not likely find any of the company's various executives guilty of criminal misdeeds. Criminal charges are more likely to come out of an investigation currently being run by the US Justice Department, or from the US Congressional hearings likely to start next week. The most important news is likely to be the court appointment of former SEC head, Richard Breeden, as the official court monitor of WorldCom. His job is to make sure that WorldCom executives are not paid more than $100,000 in compensation and that the company does not shred any important documents. This comes at the time that the SEC has called the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the improper shredding of documents at bankrupt telecommunications carrier Global Crossing Inc, whose $12.6bn and questionable accounting practices opened up a can of worms in late February. The two companies shared an auditor, Andersen, and have both been revealed to have been engaged in similar questionable accounting practices. WorldCom, which has already defaulted on some of its bonds and seen its $7bn short-term loan facilities invalidated due to self confessed fraud, is now desperately struggling for new finance, and it is a real possibility that the company will be forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. "I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that there's no way we're going to end up in bankruptcy of some form, at some point. But right now we are working very, very hard with the banks and others to try and find some other way to accomplish our goals," said WorldCom CEO John Sidgmore. If the banks don't deliver, WorldCom will be left to write off around $30bn in debt, which would make it the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history. The alternative is to find a buyer for the company, although with massive quantities of US and international communications backbone bandwidth on the market, it is unlikely to fetch a good price. The MCI business, which specializes in retail and business US long-distance telephony services, for which WorldCom paid $37bn is likely to be the company's most financially stable and attractive asset. IDT Corp has already placed an unsolicited bid for this business unit. This is ironic because one of the only companies thriving in this distressed market is the discount telecommunications house-turned-telecoms scavenger, which is buying up sound telecoms assets at rock-bottom prices in the US. The company offered $5bn for both MCI and the wholesale network units MFS Communications and Brooks Fiber. These are the plum WorldCom businesses, and unlikely to be sold while WorldCom has any chance of continuing as a going concern. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 05 Jul 2002
Cat 5 cable

NEC UK sets up data storage division

NEC Corp has announced the launch of a new Data Storage Division that will sell a range of items of its own manufacture through channel partners in the UK. The UK arm of the Tokyo, Japan-based company will sell a range of hardware products through its Data Division. It will concentrate initially on the personal computer end of the storage arena with a range removable media drives, including the slimline combination DVD-RW and CD-RW aimed at the laptop market. It has plans to move into the enterprise space over time, according to commercial manager, Andrew Wyllie. Its only current offerings here are its own-manufacture LTO Ultrium tape drive and a 10-tape auto-loader for the same with 2TB maximum capacity. However, future plans include products for the SAN and NAS markets. Its distribution model will be through channel partners that will include medium-sized rather than large distributors and systems integrators. Some of these will use the NEC badge on the products while others will use their own. The model is based on the one successfully used for a number of years by the German distribution arm of NEC to sell its storage. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 05 Jul 2002

Dell snubs Itanium 2 launch party

Dell Computer Corp has confirmed reports that it will not be launching servers and workstations based on Intel Corp's 64-bit Itanium 2 "McKinley" processor when it launches next week. The Round Rock, Texas-based company said it will delay the launch of Itanium 2-based servers until stronger customer support materializes. In the meantime Dell will continue to ship PowerEdge 7150 servers based on Santa Clara, California-based Intel's first-generation 64-bit Itanium processor. Dell says its decision is based on a number of issues: the continued performance of the 32-bit Intel Xeon-based PowerEdge product line, the lack of mature 64-bit operating systems and applications, and the fact that 64-bit servers are still primarily used for software development. Dell's non-appearance at the Itanium 2 launch party will be something of an embarrassment for Intel. The original release of the Itanium line was plagued by delays and disappointing performance statistics. With the McKinley version, Intel is finally delivering on performance promises that have long been planned for its 64-bit processor line that are expected to push 64-bit computing into mainstream Intel computing environments. Dell said its relationship with Intel remains strong, and that the two companies continue to work together on 32-bit Intel Xeon-based PowerEdge servers and future 64-bit servers. "Dell will continue to monitor the Itanium-based market for workstations and servers, and when higher volume customer demand exists, Dell will be ready with its next-generation Itanium-based products," the company said. With Dell absent from the Itanium 2 launch the coast is clear for Intel's best friend and Itanium co-developer Hewlett-Packard Co to grab the headlines. Next Monday, the Palo Alto, California-based company will announce new servers and management systems for Itanium 2, as well as migration and performance-maximization services. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 05 Jul 2002

UK corporate PC spending depressed

Computacenter, Europe's biggest computer dealer, yesterday issued a trading update: second half is better than the first, and it's meeting expectations. However, Mike Norris, chief executive, notes: "IT spending in our markets has remained depressed and conditions in certain sectors, most notably investment banking, have deteriorated since the second half of last year." Computacenter is talking up a good performance in managed services. But the engine of the company's turnover and the peg upon which it flogs higher margin services is computer hardware. At one point, Computacenter accounted for 20 per cent of all PC sales in the UK - maybe it still does. This makes it a bellwether for corporate PC orders. And it's clear that the hoped for uptick in demand, forecast by many analysts, is not happening yet. Rule of thumb is that corporates upgrade their PCs every three years. In 1999 there was a huge sales boom, with companies buying like Billy-o to fend off Y2K meltdown. They're not opening their wallets yet. On the micro-level, Computacenter can shave a few more points from costs, win a point or two in market share, build service revenues, but it is by sheer size, unable to buck the market. Profits growth is contingent upon market growth, the company says. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Jul 2002

MobileFuture hasn't got one

In another blow to the WAP format, one of the main service providers in the field, UK company MobileFuture, has announced that it is to be wound up, Andrew McLindon writes. The wireless service provider had been struggling for some time and on 27 June announced that unless it received additional funding by the end of that month, it would have to instigate insolvency proceedings, as it would be unable to meet commitments due at the time. It failed to find this funding and, as a result, said on Wednesday that the company was to close down. Its listing on the London Stock Exchange has been temporarily suspended until the company's financial future has been resolved. MobileFuture's board commented in a statement that having explored all its strategic options, it believed that there were no further opportunities available to the business that could lead to its survival. It has now called a shareholders' meeting within the next four weeks to seek approval to wind up the company. The board added that if the company was placed into liquidation, it did not think it likely that there would be any remaining value available to distribute to shareholders. Established in 1999, MobileFuture developed a platform that provided access and gateway solutions for text, WAP and mobile computing across 2G and 2.5G. The company went public on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in November 2000 in a float that raised STG4.7 million and gave it a market capitalisation of close to STG16 million. A spokesman told ElectricNews.Net that in December of last year the company received an additional STG1.5 million from one of its institutional investors, but that it was not enough to save the business as it simply ran out of cash. Among its customers was The Woolwich: MobileFuture provided the bank with a managed modem service for its Open Plan WAP banking service. At the time of the announcement in June 2001, the Woolwich said it had 17,500 customers registered to use WAP banking. MobileFuture also developed, in conjunction with McAfee.com, what was claimed to be the UK's first anti-virus software solution for wireless handheld devices back in 2000. Its most recent deal, which was announced in April, saw Sony Ericsson distribute MobileFuture's World Cup content application, People on the Pitch. The service offered users access to information on goals, stadiums and results and was provided in text, WAP and colour WAP formats. MobileFuture said at the time that it expected the deal to be immediately revenue generating. At the time of its float, it was rumoured that the company was preparing to enter the Irish market, but the company did not set up operations there. © ENN.
ElectricNews.net, 05 Jul 2002

Mercury and Oracle bundle testing

Oracle is to bundle Mercury Interactive's testing tools into Oracle E-Business Suite. The purpose of this is to encourage customers to actually carry out some testing before they expose their online applications to an unsuspecting user community. The announcement heralds the availability of a Test Starter Kit based upon the capabilities from Mercury Interactive. This means the inclusion of reusable test plans and scripts that reflect the work regularly carried out by Oracle's own engineers. The Test Starter Kit will be available within release 11.5.7 of the E-Business Suite Rapid Install. There is an additional upgrade package for Oracle 11i that is available immediately and consists of Mercury's performance testing, functional testing and regression testing tools as well as some consulting services. So the big question is whether Oracle is feeling some pain from customers who are implementing their e-business applications without adequate testing and has felt the need to address the problem. The alternative is that this is a simple extension to the applications environment that is designed to add value to an Oracle 11i solution. Clearly, Oracle recognises the need for applications to be properly tested so this is not just another of those cosy partnership announcements. There is actually quite a lot more than originally meets the eye. There is a great deal of experience that has gone into the Test Starter Kit. The most important parts of the announcement are that the development is based upon the work being done every day by Oracle's own people and that the test plans and scripts are strong templates that can be reused repeatedly. It is another example of a major vendor that is looking to see which parts of its own implementation processes can be automated. Between them Oracle and Mercury Interactive have come up with a foundation that will allow businesses to carry out much more rigorous testing than is the norm, and in a way that should not make excessive demands on application builders. Once the plans are in place, of course, they can be used over and over again for each new release of Oracle software or when new application developments are put into place. As always, the investment in testing capabilities has long term benefits and this is what Oracle has bought into. From MI's point of view, this can be seen as another success in its strategy to become the absolute leader in application management and testing. It already dominates the market for testing tools but it has been working hard to increase the size of that market through partnerships with application providers. This is a big step forward for Mercury Interactive, in terms of increasing availability and awareness of testing and monitoring of applications, and for Oracle in terms of helping its customers to deliver better quality solutions. © IT-Analysis.com.
IT-Analysis, 05 Jul 2002

HP axes 1,400 UK jobs

Hewlett-Packard is to slash 1,400 jobs in the UK as part of the computer giant's bid to reduce its global workforce. In total, 15,000 jobs - ten per cent of the company's workforce - are to be axed following its merger with Compaq. But at more than 18 per cent, the UK's contribution to the headcount reduction is almost double the global average. HP in the UK currently employs approximately 7,600. Around 450 permanent employees at HP's manufacturing site in Erskine, Scotland and some 950 workers from HP's operating company that includes its sales and marketing operation in the UK will be axed as part of the restructuring. Earlier this week HP said that 5,900 people in Europe would lose their jobs. No one from HP was available for comment at the time of writing. ® Related Story HP axes 5,900 jobs in Europe
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 2002

Dan Technology: so who's the buyer?

Dan Technology has a buyer on the table and a deal should be announced next week, receivers BDO Stoy Hayward says. According to sources, the unnamed buyer has already taken on a small number of customer support staff, previously made redundant along with the rest of Dan's employees , to handle the backlog of tech calls. Word is, that PC building is to be subcontracted out in Dan Mk II. If the unnamed buyer is already hiring, that suggests a deal is already done. So why the wait until next week. Perhaps, the UK's TUPE regulations which regulate the contracts of employees transferred through takeover to new businesses has something to do with it. TUPE regulations apply, even in cases of insolvency, but there are time limits. So who is the unnamed buyer? Speculation among creditors is centering around a Herts.based dealer called Hemini plc. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Jul 2002

Easynet chipper about broadband

Easynet - one of the few companies involved in local loop unbundling (LLU) in the UK - claims broadband is proving popular with its customers and says that 2002 will prove to be an "excellent year". Publishing a trading statement yesterday that company said that trading - including revenues and costs management - was in line with market expectations. It has launched LLU services in London, Scotland, Bristol, Berkshire, Kent and Surrey. Some 385 businesses now have unbundled services from Easynet. Include new orders and the total comes to more than 680 punters. Said chief exec, David Rowe: "DSL is proving very popular with Easynet customers and we are delighted with the pace at which we have been able to unbundle local loops and attract businesses to our service. "Going forward we are confident that 2002 will be an excellent year for Easynet DSL and for the development of the wider group." ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 2002

UK gov pilots services, info via MSN Messenger

Britain's UKonline government portal is currently running a pilot project in conjunction with Microsoft's MSN Messenger. A UKonline tab has been added to Messenger, and from there you can link through to various UKonline services, plus other UK government services, including NHS Direct. According to the E-Envoy's CEO of e-delivery (our man in the black BMW with tinted windows and a cargo of funny sweeties) Alan Mather, the pilot is intended to explore the use of alert systems and messenger services "to see if this is a channel we can use to deliver content and, ultimately, transactions." This could go as far as issuing personalised alerts, file your tax return now and so on. The content, he says, comes from UKonline's content management system running on Sun servers, and if the experiment is successful then it'll be rolled out to Yahoo, AOL "and anyone else that has something like this." So not Microsoft only then? But today we can't help noticing that the E-Envoy's ecumenical efforts seem to land us with a picture of the Forth Bridge (how appropriate) and an unsupported browser (Opera 6.0 on Windows 2000, since you ask) message at the Gateway home page, http://www.gateway.gov.uk. An isolated glitch or are we going backwards, Alan? Given that a lot of people do use Messenger, it's difficult to argue that this is an experiment the UK government shouldn't be performing. But we'll try anyway. The objective here from the government's point of view is to build traffic and awareness of e-government services. Performance will be reviewed over the next month, but at the moment it appears to be boosting traffic by about 50 per cent. Microsoft is not being paid for the pilot though, so what's in it for Redmond? MSN gets extra channels that give users access to potentially useful government information and services, so maybe you could argue it's attractive content for MSN, and that MSN should actually pay, rather than be paid. And indeed we have heard noises from the Whitehall area on the subject of deriving revenue from government content dispensed via service providers. This is something we fear will appeal far more to Mr Tony than to the service providers. But as it is, with no money changing hands we have an arrangement that looks mutually beneficial, but that is potentially dangerous because it will build a relationship, and could easily provide greater entree for Microsoft into UK government services. The arrangement also begins to clear the way for the implementation of Microsoft's Electronic Government Framework (EGF) strategy, which we covered here earlier this year. You'll find links to the full Microsoft documents there, but for brevity we'll repeat the section on the Microsoft Government Portal: "The Government Portal is a non-exclusive business model that integrates both internal and external Web sites. Public (Yahoo, AOL, MSN) and special interest portals (like bCentral, Vertical Net) are eager to provide maximum services to their users and it is in government's interest to reach their citizens through as many service provider channels as possible. So to ensure a citizen-centric approach, rather than deal solely with one company, governments must publish the technical requirements for conducting government transactions. Then anybody who meets certain quality service levels should be allowed to provide a public service. Public service provider channels can be a government agency, but they can also be a bank, or a sports store that sells fishing licenses, or a public portal such as Microsoft's MSN and bCentral that support transactions for citizen and business services." Note MSN and bCentral being presented as public services, which is of course what is happening now, in a small way, via the current pilot. The extension of the services need not necessarily lock the government into Microsoft's EGF, and actually other planned directions could provide a useful counterbalance to Microsoft here. For example, the E-Envoy's office is looking at the delivery of services via mobile phones and cable TV - these could use Microsoft technology, but many service providers would likely view alternatives, not least of them Sun, as more appropriate. Government, we think, needs to take Microsoft at its word and try to "reach their citizens through as many service provider channels as possible." Otherwise it will be (even more) vulnerable to the old bait and switch gag. By the way, Alan tells us that they're not doing any snooping via the Messenger service (can't think why that popped into his head - we certainly didn't ask) and you can always remove the tab if you want. So that's all right then. ®
John Lettice, 05 Jul 2002

.net does a ton

Congrats to .net magazine - which has just notched up its 100th issue of the popular publication. The first mag was published in December 1994 with a cover story promising to "make sense of the Information superhighway". Since then, it's covered the changing face of the Net industry and unlike some of its rivals, is still going strong. To mark the 100th issue the mag has polled the views of leading industry names, including Steve Case, Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen and Vint Cerf about what lies in store for the Net. Sources tell us that those at the mag celebrated their milestone with a long afternoon down the pub...which is exactly where we should be right now. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 2002

Make money from the Net

Despite the severity of the dotcom crash it seems there are still some e-entrepreneurs around who reckon they can make money out of the Internet. A recent survey found that a third of e-entrepreneurs are involved in their first start-up, suggesting that these, at least, have not been put off by the negative publicity surrounding the dotcom world going titsup. A further third of those surveyed were on their second Internet start-up - suggesting that they still have an appetite for the industry. And the rest had experience of multiple dotcom start-ups - gluttons for punishment perhaps? The survey was conducted among 4,000 members of Beyond Bricks, the Government-backed portal for e-entrepreneurs. The huge pots of investment cash and massive share options may be a thing of the past, but for Beyond Bricks project leader Charlie Hoult the important thing is that there is a genuine desire to make things work. Said Hoult: "A third of our membership is setting up a digital business for the first time, which is fantastic news. "By and large these ideas are concept–driven, small in staff numbers and growth predictions, and their founders are not inspired by the mirage of the fast buck. "Crucially, they are learning from the mistakes of others before them." Elsewhere, Beyond Bricks found that Manchester has more people working in the digital economy than any other city in the country outside London. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 2002

Pay to play: the killer mobile app

Network gaming provides opportunities for networking operators to boost data traffic and should become a mainstay of operators' plans to boost revenue and sign up new subscribers. That's the conclusion of a report on the mobile gaming market by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan which reckons the industry segment generated revenues of $436.4 million last. Steady growth for messaging-based, web-based and downloadable mobile gaming could push total revenues to $9.34 billion in 2008, it reckons. However this optimistic prediction is based on a number of factors, not least the successful implementation of micro-billing systems. Operators will also have to attract gamers of the attractions of pay to play. Consumers are wary of making over-the-air payments with credit cards for mobile services, so network operators will need to use billing-on-behalf-of-others (BOBO - yes, that's what Frost calls it) techniques to collect revenues for content providers. "Most network operators in North America and Europe will have to work hard to implement micro-billing systems for third-party content," said Frost research analyst Kshitij Moghe. "Although they recognise the importance of the BOBO model, few had the mechanism in place at the end of 2001." Until these secure systems are installed, consumers are likely to stay away from mobile gaming. Naturally, operators will have to convince them to pay to play. "Network operators will face an uphill challenge in getting consumers to pay for premium mobile content such as games," says Moghe. "The Internet model of free content has become well engraved in consumer attitudes, especially in North America." Many Internet content providers have shown how difficult it can be to persuade users to pay for information and entertainment services. The question is whether mobile operators will fare any better. Since the launch of the mobile Internet, network operators have given away content for free, requiring customers to pay only for airtime. To convince users to pay for content, operators will have to make it compelling and facilitate easy billing. ® Related Stories Coming soon: mobile phone multi player gaming via GPRS Cellphone giants launch mobile gaming initiative Mobile startups dismiss 3G - for now
John Leyden, 05 Jul 2002

Help! I can't stop receiving text alerts

O2 subscribers are reporting difficulties cancelling text alerts from the mobile operator after it announced plans to charge for the service. In a letter to customers, O2 said that "in order to maintain quality standards and ensure continued improvement to our text alert services" it has decided to introduce charges for text alerts from August 3. From that time O2 customers will be charged 13p per alert received, with Vodafone and Orange customers being charged from 20 p per message. O2 advises customers to login to the 'My Account' section of its Web site, then to click on 'Alerts' and select 'off' for the relevant alert. However a number of Register readers have reported difficulty cancelling their subscriptions, reporting that the site repeatedly crashed when they tried to cancel the service. Is O2 guilty of inertia selling? Subscribers should be asked to logon and agree to be charged rather than the other way around. Some of those who contacted us registered for the text alert service through Genie, which has since been rebranded as part of O2. No one from O2 was available for comment on the story. ® Related Stories Ananova pushes mobile, scraps email All the World Cup news that's not fit to print
John Leyden, 05 Jul 2002

Tiscali to shut Chester office

Tiscali UK is closing its office near Chester in a bid to reduce "escalating property overheads and increase corporate efficiency". The centre in Northwich - which handles Tiscali UK's B2B customer service, product development and finance departments - is due to be closed by the middle of August. Tiscali UK insists that all 50 staff are being offered jobs elsewhere in the company either in nearby Chelford, or further afield in Milton Keynes or London. According to insiders, as many as 30 people aren't prepared to relocate their homes south. They believe they are effectively being made redundant - an accusation strongly denied by Tiscali UK. A spokeswoman for the ISP told The Register that it wants these staff to stay and will replace them if they decide not to relocate. However, there is a deep sense of anger and frustration at the way Tiscali UK has handled the move with insiders claiming they've been betrayed. Quentin Birchall, the MD of the B2B division of Tiscali UK, has also resigned and could leave the company as early as next week. The exact circumstances surrounding his departure are not known, although Tiscali UK claims it has nothing to do with the performance of the B2B division. No successor has been named. Earlier this week Tiscali responded angrily to a newspaper report in which it was described as "cash-strapped". The article also suggested that Tiscali could be bought by a rival ISP within the year. ® Related Story Tiscali denies it is selling out
Tim Richardson, 05 Jul 2002

Council temp fired after virus outbreak

A council worker in Aberdeen has been sacked after technicians traced the spread of a destructive virus - which crippled the authority's network - back to him. An unnamed temporary agency worker, believed to have been employed in Aberdeen City Council's housing department, was fired earlier this week for allegedly allowing a destructive virus to infect the council's computer systems, the Aberdeen Press and Journal reports. The Council had to shut down its "entire computer and email system" on Monday after the virus, called Metrion Cascade 111, was discovered. "It is estimated that there are up to 200 PCs infected with the virus and as a precautionary measure to prevent it spreading the entire network was closed down," a council spokesman told the paper. "We still don't know the full extent of the damage but it may a few days for records to be fully restored." The virus, contains the text "Metrion Cascade II -icarus" and is better known as Metrion-B. It is a destructive virus which infects executable and overwrites batch files and HTML files. Normally it does not spread by email, suggesting the Aberdeen outbreak may have been brought in via a floppy disc or downloaded from the Internet though this is far from clear. Aberdeen Council believes the virus may have been introduced deliberately. Grampian Police are investigating the incident following a complaint by the council about its former employee, the Aberdeen Press and Journal reports. It is the second time this year that the council has fallen victim to virus infection. In February, many council workers were unable to work from their PCs or access files after the outbreak of a virus thought to have infected 1,000 computers. The outbreak turned to have been not as severe as first feared but the clean up operation still cost the council (by its own estimates) £10,000 to repair the damage caused. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jul 2002

Help! I can't stop text alerts

O2 subscribers are reporting difficulties cancelling text alerts from the mobile operator after it announced plans to charge for the service. In a letter to customers, O2 said that "in order to maintain quality standards and ensure continued improvement to our text alert services" it is to introduce charges for text alerts from August 3. From that time O2 customers will be charged 13p per alert received, with Vodafone and Orange customers being charged from 20 p per message. O2 advises customers to login to the 'My Account' section of its Web site, then to click on 'Alerts' and select 'off' for the relevant alert. However a number of Register readers have reported difficulty cancelling their subscriptions, reporting that the site repeatedly crashed when they tried to cancel the service. And isn't O2 engaged in inertia selling? Surely subscribers should be asked to logon and agree to the charges rather than the other way around. Some of those who contacted us registered for the text alert service through Genie, which has since been rebranded as part of O2. No one from O2 was available for comment on the story. ® Related Stories Ananova pushes mobile, scraps email All the World Cup news that's not fit to print
John Leyden, 05 Jul 2002

Uk2.net blacklists its own customers

It's been a frustrating week for users of uk2.net whose email messages were bounced after one of the hosting firm's domains was blacklisted for spamming. A Web site hosted on one of uk2.net's servers is selling software which could be used by spammers. Result: a blacklisting of the site spamsites.org and its IP address by relays.osirusoft.com. uk2.net subscribes to the open relay list supplied by relays.osirusoft.com so from Wednesday this week it began automatically blocking email sent to many of its own legitimate users. This is because relays.osirusoft.com provides a list of IP addresses to block - not domain names of offending site - so "innocent" uk2.net users whose sites share the same server/IP address for mail forwarding as the spam software sales site were also blocked. The issue has affected a substantial minority of uk2.net's small business and home users, and many have expressed their frustration and anger over the problem in the company's forum. There are concerns that blocked emails from potential customers may be lost because of uk2.net's largely self-inflicted problems. Promoting spamming software is contrary to uk2.net's usage policy but the company, which promotes itself as Britain's leading hosts, has been slow to act on the issue. Some members of the forum report they are once again receiving email, but others report continuing problems. ®
John Leyden, 05 Jul 2002

Smartphones talk open source

Good news for third parties who want their PCs to talk to the new generation of smartphones. The Nokia 7650 has banished the ancient and much unloved Psion Link Protocol used by Symbian in favor of a standard TCP/IP protocols, according to packet-sniffing early adopters. It paves the way for third party Macintosh and Linux developers to support Symbian-based phones, like the new Nokia and the SonyEricsson P800. The PLP was Epoc's (now SymbianOS). Actually Linux and KDE hackers have done remarkably well with Epoc's PLP, integrating the Psion into the KDE desktop using PLP Tools. But the new comms protocol, while officially undocumented, should be trivially easy to decipher: it uses PPP and simply requires a ppp daemon running on the PC. The 7650 and P800 use Bluetooth and infra red for their connectivity. "We already had our m-router technology ready when we started to talk to Symbian," said Intuwave's chief software architect Jeremy Burton who, along with fellow ex-Symbianite Mark Melling, founded the start-up which provided the new software. The PLP protocol can now be put out to pasture: Psion itself doesn't make consumer PDAs anymore, and the protocol dates back to the introduction of the Series 3 more than a decade ago. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Jul 2002