16th > September > 2002 Archive

Stelios faces challenger in easy domain name crusade

The ongoing crusade against any domains that feature the word "easy" by Easy Group and its head Stelios Haji-Ioannou may finally have come unstuck with art print site Easyart.com. CEO of Easyart.com, Simon Matthews, is just one of many people that have been unfairly targeted by the multi-national conglomerate for making use of the word "easy" on the Internet. But, tired of Easy Group's constant legal threats, Mr Matthews has sent the company an ultimatum: sue me or get the lawyers off my back. In common with hundreds of other sites, Mr Matthews received a letter just before Xmas from Easy Group's lawyers informing him that he was guilty of "passing off" on Easy Group's good name. It demanded he handed over the domain or face the courts. Mr Matthews consulted his lawyers and found out what many before him had discovered - Mr Haji-Iannou and his company didn't have a leg to stand on but the costs of any legal battle were potentially ruinous. "I've been told the costs will be around £50,000 and even if I win, we will lose 20 per cent of that," Mr Matthews told us, adding that he had already spent £7,000 to £8,000 so far on lawyers. He refuses to back down though, declaring: "If he [Stelios] does decide to sue us, he'll have a fight on his hands." Easyart.com sells pictures and posters of a wide range of art and currently hires 15 staff. Mr Matthews says he should make a profit in the last quarter of this year. But although its business is a million miles away from the airline flights, car hire and Internet cafes that Easy Group run, the company argues that even by owning an "easy" domain it is trying to feed of its efforts. The main domain name arbitrator, WIPO, doesn't agree, and ruled that "easy" is an extremely common word and no company can claims rights over it. The High Court doesn't agree either, deciding in one of only two cases to actually go to court (the other was settled) that Easy Group had no rights over the word "easy" and could not prevent anyone from registering a company or domain with the word in. In that case - relating to easyRealestate.co.uk - Easy Group actually won the case since the domain owner had clearly copied easyJet's set-up, colours and design. He had also attempted to sell the domain to Easy Group at an inflated price. Easyart.com bears no similarity to any of Easy Group's sites and Mr Haji-Iannou is personally aware that there is no intention to sell the domain since Mr Matthews made the point very clear when he met him face-to-face in April in the hope of clearing up any misunderstanding. Mr Matthews told us that he thought the issue had been settled after his meeting with the self-proclaimed champion of the people but was stunned when another letter arrived a month ago. In it, Easy Group's lawyers explained that it had taken a survey of 99 random punters and discovered that seven of them felt that Easyart.com was confusingly similar to Easy Group's interests. "This was clearly a deliberate attempt to prolong my legal fees," Mr Matthews told us. "So I sent back a letter asking for all future correspondence to be sent direct to me." In the letter, he also requested that Stelios make good on his claims to take him to court or leave him be. "I've not heard a peep since," he told us. "And that was a couple of weeks ago." Mr Matthews is not confident that that will be the end of it though. Whether Easy Group decides to leave Easyart.com alone to avoid setting a legal precedent or goes through with its threat is anyone's guess. Mr Matthews mind is made up ,though: "Someone's got to stop him." ® Related Stories Protest site makes Easy domain crusade more difficult EasyGroup domain name dispute inches towards court This is how Easy Group enforces its domain name 'rights' Easy now: Stelios calls to explain his company's behaviour
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Sep 2002

IT holds up well in private equity slump

Global private equity investment for last year fell by almost 50 per cent from the all-time record high of US$199 billion in 2000 to US$100 billion in 2001, according to a study by investment house 3i and consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers published today. The difficult equity and mergers and acquisition markets, low business confidence and the events of September 11 have all caused investors to become more shy of backing businesses but the survey revealed that technology investments held up better than might be expected. Despite frequent, and deserved, criticisms of over-hype in certain technology markets in 2000, IT is still - generally - seen as a solid investment proposition. In 2001, technology investments totalled at least $53 billion or 53 per cent of the total. This is down slightly from their 55 per cent share in 2000 but significantly greater than their 40 per cent share ($61 billion) in 1999. For sure this is a significant decrease, but hardly amounts to a meltdown. In the survey, 3i/PwC attribute the decline (such as it is) to the "dot.com and internet debacle", reduced spending on IT by many corporations and poor revenues and earnings from technology conglomerates. Delays in third-generation wireless applications coming on stream and the current lack of exit routes, were also factors in this fall from grace. Developments in technology continue and require financing. According to the study, technology continues to offer opportunities in such areas as the mobile internet, where Europe has a lead over the USA, encryption and security software, nanotechnology and biotechnology, albeit at reduced valuations and expanded investment timeframes. These are areas 3i itself is investing in, cynics might want to note. Taking into account private equity and venture capital investment there's at least $180 billion of funds available, 3i/PwC's Third Annual Global Private Equity And Venture Capital report concludes. According to the study, the top ten countries for technology investment in 2001 were: USA - $30.0 billion (VC only) Canada - $2.9 billion UK - $2.4 billion Germany - $1.6 billion China - $1.6 billion Israel - $1.5 billion (VC only) France - $1.1 billion Hong Kong - $1.0 billion Italy - $0.9 billion India - $0.9 billion Technology investments in Western Europe totalled $8.3 billion in 2001, down 38 per cent from 2000 levels. The UK led technology investments by amount and Germany led in terms of number of deals. Altogether, 38 per cent of total investments in Western Europe were made in the technology sectors. Computer software was the largest individual category within technology, accounting for a third of investments in terms of both number and amount. ®
John Leyden, 16 Sep 2002

WorldCom axes 2,000 jobs in Europe

WorldCom is to axe 2,000 jobs in Europe, wiping out a quarter of its workforce in the region. The scandal-hit carrier hasn't said exactly where the jobs cuts will be made. But with 2,000 at staff at its European HQ in Reading plus a further 1,000 in the rest of the country, it looks like the UK will bear the brunt of job losses. Once the job losses are completed - likely to be within the next couple of months - around 6,000 people will be employed in WorldCom's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. The swingeing job cuts are part of a restructuring and refocusing of the business and "reflect current market conditions and the size and needs of the existing WorldCom EMEA network". The company will also freeze further investment in its infrastructure. In a statement, the company said that its EMEA operation would continue to be fully-funded and is expected to be cashflow positive in 2003. Last week WorldCom Inc CEO John Sidgmore announced that he intends to leave the post shortly. ® Related Story WorldCom CEO to step down by year-end
Tim Richardson, 16 Sep 2002

Perens on Sincere Choice political push

Bruce Perens, the guy who wrote the Open Source definition way back in 1997, has been in the news a lot lately. Some of the media attention has been on his parting of the ways with Hewlett-Packard (Perens calls his departure more of a amicable decision -- The New York Times' description of it as a firing was a bit overblown, Perens says). But Perens has also been getting coverage for his Sincere Choice initiative, a political platform responding to the Microsoft-backed Initiative for Software Choice, with "choice" meaning customers should be able to choose either proprietary software or ... proprietary software. It's kind of like the old joke about music choices in the rural United States: "We like both kinds of music out here, country and western." Perens kicked off Sincere Choice a month ago, with a column at The Register deconstructing the Microsoft group. "The Free Software community has been criticized for being good at opposing programs like Software Choice, but not as good at producing its own platforms to promote. Thus, I've tried to put together a Sincere Choice platform - it replaces the cynical Software Choice with a more positive set of principles that really would assure the software user of a broad choice between interoperable products, both Open Source and proprietary." Among the principles of Sincere Choice: Open standards, competition by merit, and a range of copyright policies. After the media attention earlier this week, we asked Perens for an interview. Saying his departure from HP was old news, he preferred to talk about Sincere Choice. NewsForge: Why did you launch Sincere Choice? Perens: I started it because I heard about this Microsoft-instigated Software Choice a few months before that. They were keeping a very low profile, trying to get other companies to join. I just thought, "Well, somebody should point out that this is made in the tradition of soft money political campaigns." They don't really ever mention the topic; they just sort of make a lot of mother- and apple-pie-like statements around the topic. But the real meat is that they're for patents in industry standards. They feel that Open Source isn't necessary for acceptance of standards. In the guise of choice, here is a scheme to lock us out of interoperating with other programs using industry standards. In the larger guise, to lock us out of use in government. Obviously, someone has to stand up to this, and it seems I got cast in the role. NewsForge: What's been the reaction so far? Perens: It's been very well received. It's gotten a lot of very, very flattering treatment from the press. I thought the Chronicle article was the very most flattering. I think that doing Sincere Choice also is one of the reasons why, when I left HP, I got a half-page article in The New York Times business section. I've been contacted by national governments all the way to the Middle East about talking at conferences and helping them in getting Open Source in government. I find that a lot of governments are really extremely receptive and almost seem to have short-tracked it. Perhaps that's because they might perceive Microsoft as a foreign company and they may be a little worried about, "Here's all this software in our government that we don't control and that has historically had booby traps, but we are not easily able to find because we don't have the source code." The other thing is a lot of these countries would like to have their own software economies, and they see Open Source as a way of leveraging their own software economy. The main thing they want to do with software is not sell software -- they want to do business. Open Source software for them is perfectly adequate for doing business, and it's something they can maintain in their country. NewsForge: How many countries have contacted you? Perens: I've gotten contacts from people in eight or nine different countries already. For example, in Denmark, I'm opening up an ecommerce conference, and their minister of information introduces me. I'm keynoting a European Common Market ecommerce conference, and again, get introduced by some government muckety muck. They're in government ... and also from industry as well. A call from India was from industry. I actually got one from Kuwait that was from industry in cooperation with a government conference. Of course, there's all this stuff in Venezuela and Brazil going on. Peru has been the hotbed of publicity, and Venezuela just did this all on a stealth basis. I don't really want to take anything away from Mike Tiemann's efforts with the Digital Software Security Act. The DSSA is probably one of the most radical means of achieving my goal because it would mandate Open Source. What I'm really seeking is a level playing field, and that's been very well received because it's perceived as more balanced. NewsForge: Is there a connection between you launching Sincere Choice and leaving HP? Perens: No, no connection. NewsForge: What's been the reaction from private citizens? (Currently, two organizations are listed as members -- Perens LLC and Lindows.com). Perens: Certainly a lot of independent people have signed on. I'm not currently listing the members on the site, but I have about 1,000 sign-ins. A lot of the sign-ins are for companies. NewsForge: Have you gotten any reaction from the Free Software crowd about the Web site saying Open Source and proprietary can work together? ("We support a broad range of copyright policies, from Public Domain through Open Source and Free Software to Proprietary. We assert that Open Source and Proprietary models can be used together effectively.") Perens: Actually, I have to change the language a little. Where it says, "our members support a range of software choices," I think I have I have to change that to, "our members represent a range of software choices." Which means that not all of them support all the choices. Then a lot of people will sign on who would not otherwise sign on. I got a couple of little language quibbles that were easy to address. NewsForge: Are there dues? Perens: There are no dues yet. I think eventually I might ask for contributions, but I haven't gotten to that point. I'm paying for it out of my pocket right now; all that's been is Web connectivity on top of my two DSLs here, but eventually those DSLs should start to get paid for. NewsForge: Is the goal to do some lobbying? What's the game plan? Perens: Sincere Choice is a political platform, not an organization. My personal goal is to continue to lobby. We have this group that's sort of planning to lobby that we've been hearing about for a long time. I just go to D.C. and knock on people's doors, and it works pretty well. So I've been lobbying for about a year now. I get to D.C. almost every month. NewsForge: So the first step is just getting people signed up and getting backing to your lobbying? Perens: Backing and also mindshare. Mindshare is more important than a list of names, because we know petitions don't really go anywhere. We've just got tremendous mindshare -- I've very pleased by it. NewsForge: You mentioned the other group that's planning to lobby. Have you talked to the American Open Technology Consortium/GeekPAC people? Perens: Once in awhile, I talk to them just to check, "It's real, and it's going to happen, right?" That's what I hear. Doc Searls and I have been trying to get together for a phone call. NewsForge: So no objections to working with them, if it happens? Perens: No objections at all. In fact, I sometimes update those guys on what I'm doing. NewsForge: What are you working on right now beyond Sincere Choice? Perens: Making a living. I really recommend, if you're going to change jobs, a half page ad in The New York Times business section with a big picture. I did get a number of good offers out of it and consider myself extremely lucky because there are a lot of people out of work who don't just get offers in their mailbox unsolicited. I'm talking with about a half dozen companies right now. One of the questions is, how many consulting clients do you need regularly to stay afloat? I'm talking to everyone who calls, because I have no idea how many I need right now. The good news is that a lot of people do see viable roles for me. NewsForge: So you're thinking mostly about consulting, not a full-time employee gig? Perens: I'm not thinking about being someone else's employee, although there are companies I could go to work for that are sympathetic to my goals. I do travel a whole lot for speaking, etc., and I think that because of the political activism and the evangelism, which takes up a quarter of my time, that it would be better if I was my own boss. But if someone gave me a really, really nice offer, I certainly would consider it. It looks like I will be soliciting for support of my non-profit activities. I go all around the world talking about Free Software, and some people are willing to pay an honorarium, but not too many. Thus, I will be asking for support, corporate and otherwise. The whole point here is I want to continue to do all the stuff I've been doing -- all this evangelizing for freedom and Free Software. And the business I'm setting up is to support my family and support that. I don't want to sound too mercenary, but we work to pay for other things. © NewsForge.com
Grant Gross, 16 Sep 2002
DVD it in many colours

SymbolAir to take the pain out of wireless data

Companies which have so far fought shy of investing in the systems needed to deliver real-time data to widely dispersed mobile workers are the target of a new UK service from Symbol Technologies Inc. The SymbolAir service, which will be formally unveiled along with its first customer tomorrow, delivers a turnkey GPRS-based wireless solution to Symbol terminal users, for a typical per user charge of around 200 pounds ($310) per month. According to Neil Bonner, Symbol's senior manager of mobile devices for the EMEA region, despite and to some extent because of the growing number of technology options available to them, IT managers are still reluctant to make a significant commitment to wireless technology. "They like the idea of providing services to remote workers," said Bonner, "but there is still resistance to what they have to do to make that white, fluffy cloud a real business offering." For this reason Symbol, which normally sticks strictly to hardware sales, has set up a new business in the UK which will offer to do everything the enterprise needs to wirelessly enable their staff, short of actually providing the bearer service. This includes providing provisioning and billing services, systems integration and, of course, Symbol PPT 2837 and PDT 8137 GPRS-enabled handheld terminals. Apart from relieving users from the burden of setting up all the paraphernalia of a wireless service on their own, SymbolAir also enables them to bring in new wireless systems with minimal capital expenditure, and for a fixed monthly charge. Typically, Bonner said, although the final price will depend on pre-estimated traffic levels, a SymbolAir wireless data service will cost around 200 pounds ($312) per month, per user - including the cost of a terminal that might normally cost 1,500 pounds ($2,340) up-front. Symbol believes that SymbolAir will be immediately attractive to existing customers who use GSM-based terminals, since the shift to GPRS will immediately reduce air time charges for many such customers, but it should also attract new users to the benefits of mobile data networking by making it a less complex step for them to take. According to Bonner, SymbolAir has cost between 250,000 pounds and 500,000 pounds ($390,000 and $780,000) to set up in the UK, but should pay for itself once it has attracted 10,000 terminal users, a target he believes may be achievable within 12 months. If all goes well in the UK, SymbolAir will then be rolled out across Symbol's European markets, although it is unlikely to make an early debut in the US where the local wireless network market is not conducive to it, Bonner said. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 16 Sep 2002

NAI to reorganize McAfee.com

It took six months, but Networks Associates Inc looks like it's finally managed to bring McAfee.com Corp, the anti-virus service provider it spun out in 1999, back into the fold, Kevin Murphy writes. The final purchase price is about $200m, and after the deal closed Friday McAfee.com ceased to exist as a separate company. NAI said it had bought 96% of McAfee.com's outstanding shares, about 75% of which it already owned, which allows it to execute a short-form merger under Delaware company law. NAI will pay $8 cash and 0.675 of an NAI share for every McAfee.com share tendered, and those that were not. The plan now, according to a company spokesperson, is to merge McAfee.com into NAI's McAfee Security division. This business will be split into two units, one focusing on the consumer space, one on the enterprise. Bill Kerrigan, a 19-year IBM veteran, has been hired to run McAfee Consumer, which will comprise retail sales and McAfee.com. It seems a modest number of layoffs are on the cards, too. "There certainly are redundant positions," said the NAI spokesperson. "For example McAfee.com was a publicly traded company, and now it is not." McAfee.com CEO Srivats Sampath has already said he will not return to NAI after the integration process is complete. The merger makes sense for the sales teams of the two companies, which have faced complications due to the virtually identical branding. In addition, both companies' target markets have been converging at the edges, which caused problems with cross-selling agreements between them. NAI first announced its intention to make McAfee.com wholly owned in March. It offered 0.675 shares for every McAfee.com share, a bid that was thrown out by a special committee of McAfee.com's directors as "financially inadequate". The company came back in April with a 0.78 shares offer, which was more to the special committee's liking. However, shortly afterward the Securities and Exchange Commission slapped NAI with an investigation into the quality of its revenue, causing its share price to decline, and NAI withdrew the bid until July, after it had restated its earnings. However, in the meantime, McAfee.com had made a series of big channel wins with the likes of America Online Inc and Microsoft Corp, making it reluctant to accept such a low offer. NAI increased its bid to 0.90 of a share, but that was also rejected by the special committee. Investors were reluctant to accept an offer without a cash component, as NAI's dealings with the SEC were still incomplete and its share price could have fluctuated depending on the outcome. The final offer was 81% higher than the March offer. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 16 Sep 2002

IBM dismisses BEA productivity boast

IBM Corp has dismissed BEA Systems Inc's claimed five-fold productivity lead for its WebLogic Workshop development tool over IBM's own WebSphere Application Developer, Jason Stamper writes. Last week BEA claimed its WebLogic Workshop is more than five times more efficient for development of web services. BEA posted an example human resources application on its dev2dev community web site the company claimed can be built in just five steps. BEA claimed it takes 28 steps to build the same service using WebSphere Application Developer. IBM's Henrik Hedegaard, VP of WebSphere for EMEA, told ComputerWire that IBM had not yet had a chance to verify BEA's claims against its own data, but was sure that the claims were unfounded: "It's easy to issue a press release," he said. He added he, "didn't believe that the [claims] were likely," but that IBM would be happy to submit WebSphere to any public benchmarks BEA challenged it to. IBM and BEA are locked in a battle for supremacy in the application server market, with some analysts such as IDC saying that there is little, if anything, between them in worldwide market share. However in an exclusive interview with ComputerWire earlier this week, BEA's CEO, chairman and co-founder Alfred Chuang, said that analyst market share figures were, "a million miles from the truth", because IBM does not break out revenue figures for WebSphere, making the market share estimates little more than guesswork. IBM's Hedegaard once again refuted those assertions, saying that while IBM does not break out revenue figures it has told analysts that growth from the WebSphere product was 43% in Q4 2001, 53% in Q1 2002, and 19% in Q2 2002. "Compare that to BEA's revenue growth and you can see who is winning this battle," said Hedegaard. In its second quarter BEA's sales were down 15.6% on the same period a year earlier. Its first quarter saw sales down 12.6% year on year. Hedegaard also insisted that IBM would not issue counter-claims to BEA's productivity argument, because, "customers are not motivated by marketing claims. They know that if one application server was four or five times better than another then that company would own the market." Which is exactly what BEA's Chuang argues his company does. However, IBM does engage in the ECperf application server benchmarking process, which measures the performance, scalability and price-performance of J2EE application servers. While BEA's claim is of a productivity advantage in its development environment rather than a performance lead for its application server, the ECperf benchmarks currently show Oracle's application server to be performance leader running on Sun hardware and also price-performance leader running on HP, while IBM's WebSphere came third in performance running on its own hardware and seventh on price-performance. BEA does not appear in the top 10 for performance, and comes fifth for price-performance running on Dell hardware. However IBM's Hedegaard said that even the ECperf benchmarks are not a good guide to application server superiority, because the performance and price-performance leaders alternate regularly between the different vendors. "Customers aren't looking for a vendor that's ahead in benchmarks for three months," he said, "they're looking for a vendor they can partner with and who will offer them the required level of support and quality of service." © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 16 Sep 2002

Lucent warns again as sales plunge again

Lucent Technologies Inc has continued to under-estimate the extent of the slump in spending on telecoms equipment and announced on Friday that it expects revenue for its fourth quarter to fall 20% to 25% below the previous three months to a range of $2.2bn to $2.36bn. Given that analysts had been expecting a modest 5% sequential decline in revenue to $2.8bn, the severity of the problems facing the Murray Hill, New Jersey-based company are far worse than expected and are bound to produce another batch of huge job losses. A workforce that stood at 106,000 in 2001 will be down to 45,000 by the end of this year and is likely to fall to around 30,000 in 2003 if it is to get costs matching the shrivelled level of revenue. Lucent said that it was developing plans to cut its quarterly break-even level of revenue to $2.5bn to $3bn, though it is still engaged in a previous cost-cutting exercise to bring the figure down to $3.5bn. With these additional restructuring actions, Lucent still targets a return to break-even by the end of the 2003 financial year. In the meantime, it continues bleeding cash and forecasts a fourth-quarter loss of $0.45 a share as a result of the revenue decline and a "significant customer financing default". Despite the savage revenue decline, Lucent said it still expects to meet the covenants on its undrawn $1.5bn credit facility. The news pushed its shares down another 11.5% to $1.46, valuing the company at just $5bn, and while the scale of the telecoms slump has hit all suppliers, Lucent is suffering worst than most. Certainly the company has shown a degree of optimism which could not be justified given the financial state of its customers. When it reported its first-quarter figures in January, CFO Frank D'Amelio said: "We continue to believe that revenues in the first fiscal quarter of 2002 represented the low point for Lucent sales in the current market downturn. Revenue in the first quarter was $3.5bn, 48% higher than the best the company now expects in the fourth quarter. © ComputerWire
ComputerWire, 16 Sep 2002

Nokia 6310i

ReviewReview The 6310i is the new top-notch business phone from Nokia, with Bluetooth, GPRS and Java. It’s £100 with a contract, £300 without, and replaces the 6310, which has only been out for a brief time. At 111g with the supplied ultra slim battery and 129x47x17mm it looks and feels just like its predecessor, except the green screen and the keypad both now light up faintly blue. It’s actually the same screen as earlier Nokias but with blue LED backlights. Nokia quotes a talktime of 3-6hrs or 17 days standby. WAP is version 1.2.1. The spec for the phone claims email, but it doesn’t have a pop3 email client, just a clever form of SMS that won’t work on UK networks. This all rather smacks of playing catch-up, as the Ericsson R520 had all this nearly a year ago, plus real pop3 email. What’s more, the addition of a ‘fake’ email option has added to the button presses to read a text message. The 6310 and 6310i have both done away with the infuriating Nokia problem whereby you had to choose between phone or SIM memory and couldn’t search both at the same time. If you are upgrading and have had your SIM for a long time, watch out when you SIM-swap, as recent Nokias only support 3V SIMs. Put an old SIM in the new phone and it won’t recognize it. This means you can’t even copy the contacts out of the old one when your service provider sends you a new SIM. This is a good reason to check out the phonebook backup service from Carphone Warehouse, or indeed buy your own PhoneFile Pro phonebook backup software complete with SIM card reader, from www.pipistrel.com. The Nokia 6310i supports T9, which can be toggled on and off with a double tap on #. It is usually set to on, but defaults to off in WAP. The WAP browser comes with two bookmarks already set, one for 6310i software downloads and one for Club Nokia. The phonebook is comprehensive, but not intrusive. When you add a contact it only asks for the name and number, but if you want, you can save up to five names and four items of text (email address, web site, postal address and a note). You can also add a voice tag to ten names, and associate ring tones and icons with caller groups, as with most recent Nokias. The downloadable ring tone options are classic Nokia. Combined with GPRS and a Club Nokia account it’s very tempting to spend a fortune. There are 35 standard ring tones and space for ten downloads. They’re not polyphonic. The phone comes in three different colour schemes, Mistral Beige, Jet Black and Lightning Silver, aka sandy, black and silver. The letters and numbers on the buttons have been changed from hard to read black to easy on the eye white, a tiny change that makes a huge difference to the ease of use. The ergonomics are generally good. The phone is big enough to give a comfortable distance from ear to mouth and the keys are easy to press. You can’t change the covers but there is a little panel below the 0 key that can be personalised and swapped in. The phone has the usual good Nokia games—Snake II and Space Impact as well as the pinball game, Bumper. You can download levels and upload high scores if you are a member of Club Nokia. You can also download whole games for the first time. As a demonstration there is a version of the Racket game that was almost unbeatable on the 7110, which is still as difficult. It’s well worth joining Club Nokia just to get a year’s free tech support and the ability to send WAP settings over the air by text message. But the best thing is Java, which means when you get bored with a game you can download another. The networks love this because it’s a source of revenue, unlike Snake. Download a new hole for your golf game and they make a few pence. Multiple that by 10 million people and it’s worth having. There must be other uses for Java apart from downloadable games. All those I’ve heard, such as expenses calculator, sound very made-up-in-a-marketing-meeting—things like lottery predictors, and acupuncture guides. Unfortunately there is no over the air option for downloading games, something you’ll find on the Motorola A008 or Siemens SL45i. The call register is excellent as ever, listing ten missed and received calls and 20 outgoing calls, and if you miss a call, it is listed on screen until you check the number. The option to send email is at first exciting. I assumed it was full pop3 email as found on the Sony CMD-Z5 two years ago. It isn’t, it’s just a way of using an SMS to Email gateway—if your network happens to have one, which if you are reading this in your native language is highly unlikely. All it is really is a way of sending a text message. This is a shame, because GPRS and pop3 email are made for one another. A system which checks your email every five minutes and only costs fractions of a penny to do so unless there is mail to read, is excellent. Most Ericssons do it, the Motorola A008 does it and the Blackberry makes its living out of it. You can of course link to a Bluetooth PDA and do the email on that. There are however some problems here. When you set up a Bluetooth link on an Ericsson phone you can initiate it from either the phone or the PDA. The 6310i (and its predecessor) can’t do this. You can initiate a link to something like a car kit or headset, and it works with the Ericsson Bluetooth headset, but you can’t initiate a link with a non audio device. This means you can’t print text messages to a Bluetooth printer, and you have to initiate the paring from the PDA. Even when you do this you get some messages saying the connection has failed. Then when you ‘dial’ from the PDA it asks a couple of times if you really do want to pair and in the end it gives up asking and just does it. This is slightly more successful than my experience with the 6310, which also worked in the end, but I can’t be sure if this was easier because I’d done it before, or because the network has become more tolerant over time, or because I had newer drivers for the Socket Bluetooth card, or because Nokia has improved the Bluetooth handling. It still asks for a pairing every time the iPaq wants to do it and so is pointless for seamless mail. Suite dreams With the 6310i you get a CD with a suite of PC programs which lets you make backups of data and settings. There’s a WAP manager which lets you edit your bookmarks and settings using a proper keyboard and is great for using the web to find WAP addresses and then pipe them into the phone. A phone settings editor, contacts and calendar sync graphics editor and ring tone composer are also on the supplied disk. It doesn’t yet have a program to help you install Java applications, but that is promised. It has a good selection of optional accessories including a Bluetooth headset and the loop set that allows you to use the phone with a suitable hearing aid. There’s a car kit, a Bluetooth PC card and an RS232 lead, which is a bit three years ago. Most notebook manufacturers expect USB, which is much, much neater. It was a mistake not to have USB on the 9210 a year ago; this is something Nokia should have got right by now. So is the 6310i the phone to buy? If you already have one of its predecessors and a set of accessories, particularly a car kit, it’s hard to make a case against. Nokia has an excellent record on backward car kit compatibility; you could upgrade to this even from a 5110. If you are starting with a clean sheet, on the other hand, the Ericsson T68 is a lot cuter and has POP3 email and fancier accessories, including a Bluetooth headset and (eventually) a USB cable. It's a tough call and comes down to personal choice. © What Mobile.
Simon Rockman, 16 Sep 2002

blueyonder trashes 25,000 email accounts

Telewest has apologised to thousands of its customers of its blueyonder Internet service after major disk failure trashed 25,000 email accounts. The problem has now been resolved. The incident happened early on Friday morning wiping out any new email sent during the outage. In some cases it also erased stored email and addresses. Some 15,000 (eight per cent) of Telewest's blueyonder Internet service - including dial-up and broadband customers - were hit by the glitch. A further 10,000 subscribers with TV-based email were also affected. In an email to users Telewest said: "We are sorry to inform you of a major disk failure on one of our mail servers. As a result, your mailbox had to be recreated, which, regrettably means that all of your mail stored on the server has been lost. "We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and disruption that may have been caused." ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Sep 2002

The MS Tablet – nice app, but why's it a PC?

Last week, as we intimated was about to happen, Microsoft Tablet PC product marketing manager Neil Laver popped round to display his wares. He very decently also proposes to let us play with one for a couple of days RSN, but an hour or so spent with him poking at the beast helped answer some questions, while raising quite a few more. First of all, what is it? It is The Register's opinion that Microsoft itself has had a great deal of trouble figuring this one out, and still hasn't entirely decided. This however won't necessarily prove fatal to the project, because there are designs covering the obvious form factors in the works from numerous manufacturers, and the market (or possibly Intel) will therefore be able to decide. But the early Microsoft demo units as first Bill-ed at Comdex were slate-like Transmeta Crusoe units, whereas quite a bit of the action right now seems to be in the convertible area, as second Bill-ed at Comdex last year. These seem largely Tabletised notebooks running Intel chips, the obvious exception from the big OEMs being the Compaq Evo, which will use TMTA and will look a bit like this. So, over a period of two years we would seem to have evolved from a situation where a Microsoft vision of an ultra-light, long battery life device has been convertibled by the major PC companies into something about the weight of a notebook (lightweight model) with about the same battery life. In mitigation, these villains appear to be praying for Banias, but they'll be punting out juice-monsters for at least a year till that happens. Enough, however, of this chippery. That is not why I brought you here, and not what I was talking to Neil about. His demo unit is an Acer TM-100, for which you can find a handy run-down here. This is a convertible type unit, with a screen you can twirl around so that when it's closed the screen can face out. Thus, you have stylus control over your apps and the ability to write on an electronic notepad. That is, if you want to write on a notepad that weighs several pounds and has a battery life of maybe three hours. We at The Register have some difficulty convincing ourselves we'd want to, and see this kind of hardware and form factor as likely to be a fatally munged compromise that doesn't really allow what you ought to be doing with something tagged 'tablet.' One of the points of Tablet PC, according to Microsoft from Bill downwards, is that a Tablet is a full-function Windows XP PC and then some. Neil meanwhile insists that this is what the users say they want; they want to be able to carry all of their stuff around and have it ready to hand. We tried to dispute this, asking if this was what the IT management people said they'd let the users have/do, but he seemed sure that was the case, so you must meet a richer, more carefree, class of IT manager when you're with Microsoft. Anyway, setting aside the 'all your stuff/just enough stuff and a network' argument for the moment, the actual Tablet PC bit of Tablet PC is, we reckon, quite nice. The Journal application, which is the one that turns your computer into the expensive pad of paper, is the bit that illustrates this. And the underlying argument is a pretty good one. Typing on a normal notebook computer gets in the way in meetings, and can even get you into trouble. So it's better to take handwritten notes unobtrusively. This being where The Register lives, we tend to agree. Even small keyboard devices intrude, because the other party is disturbed if your fingers are flying ('Cripes! What am I saying?') and disturbed if you're not doing anything at all ('Is this guy asleep or what?') But, erm, this also applies if they can see what you're writing on a large pad of paper (or screen). Unobtrusive is the reporter's notebook under the table where they can't see you're doodling, or the tape machine they've forgotten you switched on. That said, Journal isn't a bad stab at it, would work on a convertible in the kind of meeting where you're all at least supposed to be on the same side, and might be OK for more confrontational engagements in one of the smaller form factors. Did we mention handwriting recognition? Well we're not going to, much. Microsoft claims the recognition will be about the best available, but is downplaying this, rightly, we think. Recognition is less important than people tend to think, because in many cases you'll simply be referring to notes, which you can read just as you would if they were on paper, rather than converting them all, or trying to write whole finished documents and/or novels. So the model Microsoft is pushing is much more digital ink, with recognition as an extra you can get into if you like. Handwritten annotations to pre-existing documents are also a potential benefit, and again we feel we speak with some authority here. Back in the days of good old typesetting it was quicker for a sub-editor to scrawl corrections onto a printout of a story (or even a typescript, as they were often in those days) than it is now to make the changes to an electronic document via a word processor. Even today marking corrections on printed proofs then having one person with a huge Mac do them is often more efficient than having huge Macs for half a dozen people, all of whom are going to have to load huge files in order to make the corrections. Plus, there's a massive version control advantage to having a single paper copy that must be signed off by all the relevant people. No, don't press send, just wait until you've read the next bit before you fire off that email, because we know what you're going to say. Yes, the fact the Tablet is not paper does indeed change things, and could undermine what we've just said, depending. But digital paper is an interesting notion to kick around, and if it were executed properly within an organisation it could bring some of the control and organisational advantages of paper. Locked documents that revisers can only write on? Different coloured inks for different revisers? And there are plenty of other examples of how ink-enablement could add dimensions to applications. Writing on the Acer was fairly comfortable, and it made a good stab at picking up my scrawl and figuring out what it said, even though I wasn't trying. Neil claims that working with the machine tends to make you improve your handwriting a tad, but as I said, we're not going to cover recognition much, in this pass at least. One of the best and clearest examples he gave of where Tablets might find homes was medicine. Doctors have to move around a lot, they need to access records, and they're not necessarily going to be in front of a keyboard when that need arises. The UK National Health Service is allegedly interested (but not, we presume, half as interested as Microsoft is in the UK NHS), and Neil has a little doodled app that gives an idea of how a Tablet might be used in, say, casualty. Which conceptually works. You'd have a proper application developed that would allow you to start or call up a record, mark the problem areas on a chart, check various boxes linking to other people or services, scribble a couple of supplementary notes if you felt inclined, then press fire and it's off into the network, and treatment commences. We'll own this is a highly imaginitive illustration of how the NHS works or is capable of working, but we can dream. And, uh, didn't we mention a network there? In which case, why are you carrying around all your records on a Windows XP PC that's just crying out to be stolen, what the blazes are you doing about privacy and confidentiality, and why the hell have you got a Windows XP PC in the first place, rather than a cheap thin client? The thing is that vertical markets are best served by vertical devices, and the Tablet PC is essentially a general purpose PC with a particular vertical device (pen-ink, in this rev - voice seems to have gone rather quiet) stuck on. Sure, it's an application for a PC, but it could equally well be an application for a CE or even a Symbian device. These might also be general purpose devices in their own right, but they could be cheaper, less resource-hungry devices, with any general purpose functionality crippled as needed. And other companies have been making this class of device for years. Why haven't they taken off? Well, they have taken off, it's just those companies are in vertical markets, so most of us don't notice them much. They have not taken off much in consumer markets, but the question here is whether that's because people don't want them or because they haven't been tried properly yet. Do people want a lightweight device with about ten hours battery life they can use with 802.11 to cruise the web, maybe with a little keyboard for light work, but you can skip the handwriting if you like for now? Don't know, but we do. Yes, and we realise that's a Psion netBook - sorry, we won't mention it again. None of the Tablet PCs on the stocks fall into that category, not even the Crusoe prototype, which claims dismal endurance of four hours. Microsoft's nightmare product roadmap does have things that might qualify, but maybe it's whatever Mira's called today, or Xbox 2, or something. And in specialist markets it's CE, which is not Mira really, but hey, wouldn't it be cool if you could take your home Mira unit into work and... No, don't go there. It's the Tablet PC that you're supposed to truck around with you, and when it comes down to it we reckon it's all Bill's fault. In his presentations on the subject he's positioned Tablet as a full desktop replacement you take with you everywhere, and pitched it as the product that will likely replace the conventional notebook, and then the desktop PC as well. It, and its successors, probably will, and the addition of writing, then recognition, then maybe voice will be significant benefits for the general-purpose PC platform as it is currently defined. Who should be doing the defining is a separate argument we won't have here, as is the question of whether PC-centricity is increasingly absurd in an increasingly networked world. Suffice to say, for the moment, that Microsoft's determination to preserve and nurture the PC as the centre of all things is not, in our view, wholly positive. But it is nevertheless what has defined the script for the Tablet PC. ® Further swotting: Pen Computing has been doing an effective job on the Tablet PC for some time now. You can get its rundown on the software side of the Acer here, and an initial take on Tablet, together with a lot of useful pen computing history, here.
John Lettice, 16 Sep 2002

Slapper worm spanks Apache servers

A virulent Linux worm is creating an attack network on the Internet, security clearing house CERT warned this weekend. Slapper exploits a previously-disclosed OpenSSL vulnerability, to create an attack platform for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against other sites. The worm also has backdoor functionality, according to ISS. The security tools vendor describes the malicious code as a variation of the much less virulent Apache "Scalper" BSD worm. The OpenSSL server vulnerability exploit exists on a wide variety of platforms, but Slapper appears to work only on Linux systems running Apache with the OpenSSL module (mod_ssl) on Intel architectures. The Slapper worm was first seen on Friday the 13th. Since then it has infected thousands of web servers around the world and continues to spread. By late last night 6,000 servers were infected with the worm, according to AV vendors F-Secure. The worm scans for potentially vulnerable systems on 80/tcp using an invalid HTTP GET request (GET /mod_ssl:error:HTTP-request HTTP/1.0). When an Apache system is detected, it attempts to send exploit code to the SSL service via 443/tcp. If successful, a copy of the malicious source code is then placed on the victim server, where the attacking system tries to compile and run it. Once infected, the victim server begins scanning for additional hosts to continue the worm's propagation. During the infection process, the attacking host instructs the newly infected victim to initiate traffic on 2002/udp back to the attacker. Once this communications channel has been established, the infected system becomes part of the worm's DDoS network. For this reason blocking port 2002/UDP at enterprise firewalls may be a good idea. While the Windows-affecting Nimda nor Code Red worms attacked nearby subnets indiscriminately, Slapper creates a peer-to-peer network which an attacker can harness for attacks. This troubling development sets Slapper apart from other worms. Binary and source code versions of the worm are available and are being actively circulated - and access to the source code might lead to the development of more powerful variants. The vulnerability exploited by the Slapper (Apache/mod_ssl) worm was fixed beginning with OpenSSL version 0.9.6e. Administrators may want to upgrade to the latest version as of this writing the latest version of OpenSSL is 0.9.6g. Users should also update their AV software to detect the worm. ®
John Leyden, 16 Sep 2002

Life returns to Pipex's ADSL service

Users of Pipex's ADSL service are reporting that it's working again after going tits up at the weekend. Broadband users began reporting problems early on Sunday afternoon. Today, the company has admitted that it has been suffering "major issues" with its platform. In a statement posted on Pipex's Web site earlier this morning the company said: "We have been suffering from major issues with the PIPEX broadband platform. PIPEX are currently investigating as a number one priority all possible causes for the outage. "However, we are beginning to see some semblance of normality return, though work is still going on to try and find the cause of the problem and make sure there are no outstanding issues." No one from the ISP was available for comment at the time of writing. ® Related Story Pipexwoe bitch site renamed Pipexwow
Tim Richardson, 16 Sep 2002

Bang! PC Association slams Fujitsu HDDs

The Personal Computer Association is reporting "remarkable levels of failures of Fujitsu hard drives" experienced by the UK system builder community. Questions over the Fujitsu HDDs were raised by members during an open forum conducted at the PCA's annual conference on Friday, September 13. The members have called upon their trade association to "investigate the problem of Fujitsu OEM HDDs sold into the UK with regard to an unacceptable level of failure". Keith Warburton, executive director of the PCA, said the association has been aware of Fujitsu HDD issues for around three months, with several members reporting problems. "One member apparently had such a magnanamous settlement from Fujitsu that the company bound them by an NDA, others have not received such treatment," he told us. Several system builders have contacted us to point out the high cost of swap-outs, and worse, the damage done to their reputation with customers. Says Phillip Errington of Fast N Easy Computers in Stockport: "We have been observing a gradual increase in failure of 10Gb and 20Gb fujitsu drives, normally with the same error; drive disappears from the IDE channel and won't appear at boot up. "Sometimes the drives can be booted after this occurs if the drive is left for a while to cool down, but normally its bye bye to everything. "This critical failure is very disturbing as it comes with little warning. We have seen a high percentage failure and a fair few drives now. One company had every drive in each of its 10 machines fail." According to Warburton, CTO, the UK system builder trade paper, has been pursuing the issue with Fujitsu for several weeks, but to no effect - so far. Let's see what the oxygen of publicity will do. If you are a UK system builder and have failed to get satisfaction over dud Fuji HDDS with either your distie or Fujitsu direct, email Keith Warburton. This will help the PCA gain a better picture of the scale of the problem. Fujitsu last week confirmed that it is replacing dud HDDs in Japan. It estimates the bad parts comprise 2-3 per cent of a production run of 10 million HDDs. But is it really only 2-3 per cent? And is the recall/replacement limited to Japan? Judging from the emails we have received - more than 200 and rising - dud Fujitsu HDDs have been sold into the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Poland. The problem of huge failure rates for 20GB Fujitsu drives - of the order of 30-50 per cent and sometimes even higher - is reported by system builders, network admins, schools and corporates, especially businesses using Compaq Deskpros. Fujitsu has had plenty of time, probably months, to get its crisis PR strategy in place. Now it is time for the company to reach out beyond Japan and talk to the rest of the world about this problem. The longer it avoids talking, the greater the risk there is of turning a customer service headache into a customer service scandal. ® Related stories Ouch! Fujitsu to replace 300,000 faulty HDDs Fujitsu HDDs all over UK
Drew Cullen, 16 Sep 2002

Aramiska leads Yorkshire broadband project

450 SMEs in Yorkshire and Humberside are to get broadband satellite access for nowt as part of a year-long trial in the region. The "Proof of Concept" project is being funded by £3.1m from the DTI and run by Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency for Yorkshire and Humberside. It selected broadband satellite outfit, Aramiska, to provide the service ahead of BT and Kingston Communications. All the companies taking part in the project have already been selected. Those behind the project believe it could help economic growth in an area that does not have the infrastructure to support terrestrial broadband. A spokesperson for Yorkshire Forward said: "We believe the true value of broadband rests with the improved communication and increased business efficiency it will deliver to the SME community. We are opening a door of opportunity for local companies to embrace new technology, grow their business and increase the ICT skills within their organisation." Last month BT confirmed that a scheme to bring broadband to Cornwall using both public and private sector funding is to be expanded. ACT NOW - which was launched in April - is backed by European cash. Partners in the scheme include BT, Cornwall County Council and the South West of England Regional Development Agency. ® Cornwall gets even more broadband
Tim Richardson, 16 Sep 2002

Energis denies ditching FRIACO

Energis has denied a report that it is to cease providing wholesale unmetered Net access for UK ISPs. At the weekend, ISP Review reported that ISPs have begun leaving the alternative telco because of "recent problems with degrading network performance". The report also said that Energis could soon be moving away from the wholesale unmetered dialup platform (FRIACO) in a bid to concentrate on core telecom services. Energis has reacted angrily. A spokesman for Energis told The Register: "We have no plans to move away from the FRIACO platform. In fact, we're seeing an increasing numbers of customers using our service. "Neither has there been a degradation in our service. The latest independent figures put us ahead of the market," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 16 Sep 2002

New AES crypto standard broken already?

Theoretical attacks against AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) winner Rijndael and runner-up Serpent have been published. They might work in the practical world; they might not. That's about all we can say from the latest edition of Bruce Schneier's CryptoGram newsletter, which seeks to simplify the issues discovered by researchers Nicolas Courtois and Josef Pieprzyk, and elaborated in a paper entitled "Cryptanalysis of Block Ciphers with Overdefined Systems of Equations". Now while this represents an interesting bit of research, it does not mean that AES has been or even can be cracked in the real world. The work is theoretical and needs to be reviewed by others; and even if it's confirmed in theory and partially confirmed empirically, it may never be possible to exploit it. "You can try the attack on simplified versions of the cipher -- fewer rounds, smaller block size -- but you can never be sure the attack scales as predicted," Schneier points out. That said, it's ironic that Serpent, which touts itself as more secure than Rijndael (though slower), appears at least for now to be more vulnerable in this case. And while there's no immediate problem for either cipher, we may find that AES' functional life-expectancy is considerably shorter than originally hoped (something like a century). "If the attack really works, it can only get better. My fear is that we could see optimizations of the XSL attack breaking AES with a 2^80-ish complexity, in which case things starts to get dicey about ten years from now," Schneier reckons. That's bad news for those who might require that an encrypted object remain impractical to decrypt for several decades. Some businesses perhaps, and certainly some government and military agencies do need very long-lasting and very strong levels of communications and data security. What we're seeing here is another example proving that asking for one-shot solutions is asking too much. We've said it before and we'll say it again: there's no substitute for a holistic approach to security and privacy in which no single component is ever fully trusted. ®
Thomas C Greene, 16 Sep 2002

SonyEricsson P800 slips to 2003?

The briefest of reports at French website Mobilmag suggests that the much-hyped SonyEricsson P800, which integrates PDA and a 2.5G cameraphone, has been delayed until January 2003. The story doesn't cite any sources, but says that stability concerns are the reason for the delay. A spokesman for SonyEricsson told us that "we will start shipping the P800 to operators in a few weeks, with availability in selected markets during Q4." Which implies some markets will see it in 2003. Despite its appearance in the 'coming next month' section of the September phone catalogs in Europe, recent prototypes of the P800 we saw in London had some rough edges. It was possible to stall the device for several seconds by opening and closing the flip keypad rapidly, for example. We said then that a year-end release looked unlikely. With its integrated camera, PDA functionality and packet data support, the P800 is the most complex device to emerge out of the Symbian code base. Officially the ship dates are 'Q3' for Europe and 'Q4' for North America. We also heard that SonyEricsson was determined to ship the device in 2002. For better or for worse, the fortunes of the joint venture depend on the success of this device, as SonyEricsson has neglected to produce mid-market and low-end volume models to match the acclaimed, but now ageing, T68/T68i models. But with expectations reaching Newton-size proportions, SonyEricsson can't afford a Newton-sized disappointment. A delay would mean missing out on Christmas revenues, but this may be a prudent move in the long term. As Apple discovered, the Newton never fully recovered its momentum, despite fixing early flaws with handwriting recognition, performance and connectivity. Mud sticks*. ® *Bootnote: As this proves - [Microsoft integrates Windows experience into smartphone UI] Related Stories SonyEricsson chief Zens-away phone panic SonyEricsson cuts Linux P800 fee to zero Sony, Apple make phone dream team GUI wars return: Motorola, Sony Ericsson tie-up Hands on with the PDA-killer Sony P800
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Sep 2002

Fujitsu Siemens extends warranties for Fujitsu HDDs

Fujitsu Siemens Computers is playing down the data loss issues arising from the failure of 300,000 faulty hard disk drives, made by sister company Fujitsu between September 2000 and 2001. The fault, which is supposedly brought on by heat and prolonged usage, lies in faulty controller chips used in the HDDs and is found in 2-3 per cent of the 10 million units made by Fujitsu between the two dates, according to Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai. Fujitsu Siemens Computers, a customer of the HDDs, confirms these figures, unlike UK system builders who report huge failure rates for 20GB Fujitsu drives - of the order of 30-50 per cent, and sometimes even higher. Some of the dud HDDs have made their way into the Fujitsu Siemens' line of business-oriented Scenic PCs. But the PC maker says that this will not inconvenience enterprise users unduly, because the majority back up their data. It is working with customers to replace affected MPG 3xxx Ax series drives. The idea that users religiously back up data will come as a surprise to numerous sys admins. Many companies use PCs, as opposed to network computer, precisely because of the convenience of saving Word documents, spreadsheets and the like on local machines after all Judith Raddatz, of Fujitsu Siemens Computers, acknowledged we had a point on this and admitted that users, even if a company has a well-enforced back up policy, have a right to expect that their HDDs should not fail. However she said that the failure rate due to the problem on Scenic PCs of 2.5 per cent is only slightly above industry norms of 1-1.5 per cent. For this reason Fujitsu Siemens Computers believes a product recall is inappropriate. However, the vendor is going out to large customer accounts and replacing drives prior to failure, as a precaution. Smaller customer accounts are being offered an extension of their warranty to three years. For customers the issue of lost data looms large. What of the confidential data that these dud drives could contain? Proving that its an ill wind, data recovery firm Ultratec is offering Reg readers a discount for recovering data from faulty Fujitsu disk drives. Dan Goodwin, a Senior Engineer in Ultratec's Data Recovery Lab, promises a fixed price for recovery (the usual rate is £850) for any size drive - no fix, no fee. Ultratec boasts a 90 per cent success rate with the MPG range of disk drives. Alternatively, if you feel more adventurous, you may want to try out (at your own risk) a suggestion from a reader at an NHS Trust. He writes: "We found out last week, that if you place them [faulty HDDs] in the fridge overnight, (not the freezer, although we haven't tried that). They will work to a fashion to enable you to get that all important data that you didn't back up. "Although this doesn't fix the problem as the disks still need replacing," our correspondent tells us, adding he has dealt with four faulty HDDs a week for the past five months with his supplier exchanging units without any problem. Here's Fujitsu Siemens Computers statement on the issue, which bears repeating in full. Fujitsu Siemens Computers is fully aware of a potential issue with Fujitsu hard drives installed in SCENIC PCs. In total a very small number of these PCs, when subjected to high heat and humidity and prolonged usage, may experience problems with their internal and date code specific hard disk drives. This can lead to error messages appearing on the users screen and in the very worst case, loss of access to data on the hard drive. As this fault occurs mainly in professional products, which in the majority of cases are connected to company networks, the data is usually stored on the company network and therefore the company is not inconvenienced by a disruption in access to data. As soon as Fujitsu Siemens Computers became aware of this Fujitsu HDD issue we provided technical information and the necessary support processes to our country service organizations to ensure their full understanding of this matter and to enable their fast response to any customer concern. In the small number of cases where this failure has occurred, the company has immediately replaced the affected drive to our customers' satisfaction. Related Stories Ouch! Fujitsu to replace 300,000 faulty HDDs Crash! Dud Fujitsu HDDs all over UK Bang! PC Association slams Fujitsu HDDs
John Leyden, 16 Sep 2002

Wallop! Fujitsu Europe fudges HDD recall

We caught up today with Mike Nelson, technical sales director at Fujitsu Europe Ltd, who was happy to take our call, but profoundly reluctant to answer our questions about the Great Fujitsu Hard Drive Fiasco. However we learned from Nelson that, contrary to Japanese reports, Fujitsu has not introduced a HDD product recall anywhere in the world. Hmm, it must have lost something in the Bloomberg translation. From our perspective, the distinction between "replacing" and "recalling" 300K faulty HDDs is very fuzzy indeed. Nelson did not want to tell us which markets the affected HDDs have ended up. From our bulging email inbox we are now assuming that this is a worldwide issue. Neither would Nelson confirm the percentage failure rate of the Fujitsu HDDs, reported to be 2-3 per cent of a production run of 10 million by Fujitsu in Japan (via the Japanese press). This failure rate was also trotted out today by sister company Fujitsu Siemens Computers. UK system builders are reporting much higher failure rates for 20GB Fujitsu drives, in the order of 30-50 per cent. So, there's a problem, acknowledged at 2-3 per cent by Fujitsu in Japan, and by Fujitsu Siemens in Europe. And how is the company dealing with this?Outside "exceptional" circumstances Fujitus will not extend the (one-year) warranty it gives to OEMs and system builders, though it will honour its agreements, Nelson says. This sounds like a classic recipe for a class action suit in the US, from system builders as well as end-users. This would be a helluva lot more expensive to settle than extending warranties on the dud drives to, say, two years. ® Related Stories Ouch! Fujitsu to replace 300,000 faulty HDDs Crash! Dud Fujitsu HDDs all over UK Bang! PC Association slams Fujitsu HDDs Fujitsu Siemens extends warranties for Fujitsu HDDs
John Leyden, 16 Sep 2002

Intel improves lives with mobile CPUs

Intel today came to market with 11 new mobile CPUs, in a monster launch for the notebook and subnotebook sectors. Chipzilla reckons that it has a CPU for just about any mobile PC form factor (and price point- it's got cheapo desktop chips after all, for the Taiwanese bricks to be found in most retail stores these days). And it may be right, although the company's mobile marketing mantra, ascribed to the hapless Don MacDonald, director of marketing, Intel Mobile Platforms Group, could do with a bit of honing. Intel-based mobile PCs improve the lives of business users and consumers - from an employee taking digital notes on a Tablet PC during a multi-hour meeting, to parents sharing digital photos of their first-born child over a long dinner. Why just the first-born? Why isn't he or she dining with the parents, talking to them even. Or maybe the first born is, like me, 41 with a home and children of his own, which would make the parents the nonpareil of silver surfers. Or Intel board directors. And say the digital photo sharing is taking place in a restaurant. Isn't a notebook in use by people who are also eating and maybe drinking a little conspicuous, not to mention potentially injurious to the hardware. Enough, let's talk about the chips. First up, the P4-M 2.2GHz, Intel's new top-of-the-range notebook CPU, priced at $562 in 1,000 units. This is aimed at the corporate Johnny, people who have owned or used enough notebooks to know that they want thin and light, but without much sacrifice in performance. The emphasis is on much. In battery mode, the 2.2GHz P4-M speed degrades, albeit to a healthy 1.2GHz. This CPU is meant for people who actually use their notebooks as mobile devices - so PCs which take 10 minutes to boot up, are a no-no. But they come at a price. Next up is the Mobile Pentium III-M, pitched at PC makers to "design sleek form factors offering good performance", in other words a little cheaper than P4-Ms, and probably less bulky than notebooks bearing mobile Celerons. And more powerful. But the pricing is not exactly mass market just yet - the new 1.33GHz mobile Pentium III-M pans out at a hefty $508 apiece for 1,000 units, while the new 1.26GHz PIII-M cost $401. Power Less Intel today also launched low and ultra-low voltage versions of the PIII-Ms. Intel is touting these at mini, sub notebooks and Tablet PCs - low power means no need for fans to stop devices overheating, and longer battery life too. Indeed the PIII-M family is "ideal for the emerging Tablet PC market segment, as they provide the best balance of performance and low-power". The world+dog is cranking up for the Tablet PC launch, due November some time. The low-voltage 1GHZ PII-M costs $316; the ultra-low voltage 866MHz PIII-M costs $209; and the ultra-low voltage 850MHz PIII-M also costs $209. Last and certainly least, so far as cost and performance is concerned, some new mobile Celerons, including a couple of low-voltage jockeys, clocking up at 733MHz and 700MHz (and costing $144 each in OEM... etc.) The rest of the new members of the mobile Celeron are a 1.8GHz ($149); a 1.7GHz ($134) and a 1.6GHz ($112). ®
Drew Cullen, 16 Sep 2002