18th > February > 2003 Archive

Crackers gain sight of up to 5m credit cards

Computer crackers have obtained details of up to five million US Visa and MasterCard accounts, the two firms admitted yesterday. CNN reports that attackers gained the details after compromising systems that process credit card transactions. Technical details of how the attack was carried out are so far thin on the ground amidst conflicting reports on the scale of the problem. CNN reports details of up to 2.2 million Visa and Mastercard accounts have been accessed, while Reuters reckons up to five million accounts have been viewed by crims. Although none of the cards have been used fraudulently, at least according to Visa spokesman John Adams, banks have been alerted and a major withdrawal/recall program can be expected. Fortunately both companies have zero-liability policies for their US customers. This means if the cards are used fraudulently, customers will not be liable for unauthorised charges. It's unclear which card issuing banks are affected by the problem, though early reports suggest the problem is nationwide. Citizens Bank, a financial services firm in Northeastern USA, closed the accounts of "8,800 customers whose [Mastercard] card numbers had been accessed". Bank spokeswoman Pamela Crawley told CNN that accounts were "safe" for the possibility of further misuse. The FBI has been called in to investigate the case. ® Related Stories E-fraud costs retailers millions Feds break massive identity fraud Egghead credit card hack: serious questions remain
John Leyden, 18 Feb 2003

Bye, cyberczar Clarke – thanks for everything

Opinion The retirement of Richard Clarke is appropriate to the reality of the war on terror. Years ago, Clarke bet his national security career on the idea that electronic war was going to be real war. He lost, because as al Qaeda and Iraq have shown, real action is still of the blood and guts kind. In happier times prior to 9/11, Clarke -- as Bill Clinton's counter-terror point man in the National Security Council -- devoted great effort to convincing national movers and shakers that cyberattack was the coming thing. While ostensibly involved in preparations for bioterrorism and trying to sound alarms about Osama bin Laden, Clarke was most often seen in the news predicting ways in which electronic attacks were going to change everything and rewrite the calculus of conflict. September 11 spoiled the fun, though, and electronic attack was shoved onto the back-burner in favor of special operations men calling in B-52 precision air strikes on Taliban losers. One-hundred fifty-thousand U.S. soldiers on station outside Iraq make it perfectly clear that cyberspace is only a trivial distraction. Saddam will not be brought down by people stealing his e-mail or his generals being spammed with exhortations to surrender. Clarke's career in subsequent presidential administrations was a barometer of the recession of the belief that cyberspace would be a front effector in national security affairs. After being part of the NSC, Clarke was dismissed to Special Advisor for Cyberspace Security on October 9th in a ceremony led by National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and new homeland security guru Tom Ridge. If it was an advance, it was one to the rear -- a pure demotion. Instead of combating terrorists, Clarke would be left to wrestle with corporate America over computer security, a match he would lose by pinfall. Ridding the world of bad guys and ensuring homeland safety was a job for CIA wet affairsmen, the FBI, the heavy bomb wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base -- anyone but marshals in cyberspace. Information "Sharing" and Cruise Missiles The Slammer virus gave Clarke one last mild hurrah with the media. But nationally, Slammer was a minor inconvenience compared to relentless cold weather in the east and the call up of the reserves. But with his retirement, Clarke's career accomplishments should be noted. In 1986, as a State Department bureaucrat with pull, he came up with a plan to battle terrorism and subvert Muammar Qaddafi by having SR-71s produce sonic booms over Libya. This was to be accompanied by rafts washing onto the sands of Tripoli, the aim of which was to create the illusion of a coming attack. When this nonsense was revealed, it created embarrassment for the Reagan administration and was buried. In 1998, according to the New Republic, Clarke "played a key role in the Clinton administration's misguided retaliation for the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which targeted bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan." The pharmaceutical factory was, apparently, just a pharmaceutical factory, and we now know how impressed bin Laden was by cruise missiles that miss. Trying his hand in cyberspace, Clarke's most lasting contribution is probably the new corporate exemption in the Freedom of Information Act. Originally designed to immunize companies against the theoretical malicious use of FOIA by competitors, journalists and other so-called miscreants interested in ferreting out cyber-vulnerabilities, it was suggested well before the war on terror as a measure that would increase corporate cooperation with Uncle Sam. Clarke labored and lobbied diligently from the NSC for this amendment to existing law, law which he frequently referred to as an "impediment" to information sharing. While the exemption would inexplicably not pass during the Clinton administration, Clarke and other like-minded souls kept pushing for it. Finally, the national nervous breakdown that resulted from the collapse of the World Trade Center reframed the exemption as a grand idea, and it was embraced by legislators, who even expanded it to give a get-out-of-FOIA-free card to all of corporate America, not just those involved with the cyber-infrastructure. It passed into law as part of the legislation forming the Department of Homeland Security. However, as with many allegedly bright ideas originally pushed by Richard Clarke, it came with thorns no one had anticipated. In a January 17 confirmation hearing for Clarke's boss, Tom Ridge, Senator Carl Levin protested that the exemption's language needed to be clarified. "We are denying the public unclassified information in the current law which should not be denied to the public," he said as reported in the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News. "That means that you could get information that, for instance, a company is leaking material into a river that you could not turn over to the EPA," Levin continued. "If that company was the source of the information, you could not even turn it over to another agency." "It certainly wasn't the intent, I'm sure, of those who advocated the Freedom of Information Act exemption to give wrongdoers protection or to protect illegal activity," replied Ridge while adding he would work to remedy the problem. Thanks for everything, Mr. Clarke. © SecurityFocus Online George Smith is Editor-at-Large for VMYTHS and founder of the Crypt Newsletter.
George Smith, 18 Feb 2003

Do webcams break when Tony Blair walks by?

Readers may or may not be interested in a minor addition to the lore of webcams inoperative for operational reasons. While vast numbers of anti-war demonstrators weren't visible (not to you laddie, anyway) on London's webcam network, Mr Tony himself was up in Glasgow, delivering a speech including an eccentric arithmetical conceit,* and not being visible on webcams there either. The webcam in question is at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, and was mysteriously ailing over the weekend. We're glad to see it's better now, although our (we concede, not terribly detailed) investigations lead us to believe its Java problems may be somewhat more extensive than those declared on its homepage. It's probably now the case that self-important politicians' minders will have webcams darkened as a matter of course when their masters are passing by, which is odd really, considering how keen they are to have TV cameras trained on them during these very same events. And from what we can see, the minders don't give a stuff about what Tone did up in Glasgow, either. His speech, alongside the others, has been sitting here happily since Saturday with a prominent "--- CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ---" tag at the top. Given that the delivery happened some days ago, we can only conclude that nobody from Labour Party Spin Central ever actually reads the site. Come on people, finger out, fix it. ® * i.e. more people voted for Hitler than were at the demo on Saturday. So we should invade Poland, then?
John Lettice, 18 Feb 2003

Robogrunt: the US military's plans for robot armies

The US military's current armoury of unmanned spyplanes and weapons is to be vastly expanded through the addition of armies of robot soldiers, replacing and/or supplementing the real grunts, reports Billings Gazette. Ultimately, the vision is that the grunts themselves become geeks, or perhaps more likely, are transformed into callcentre grunts, sitting in a control room coordinating multiple fighting, scouting and UN peace-keeping (wonder if they're doing these?) robots. Billings refers to a US National Academy of Sciences report which defines four classes of robot: Searcher, which does reconnaissance; Donkey, which humps stuff (no, not like that); Wingman, which seems to be some kind of remote-controlled light tank; and Hunter-Killer, a platoon of ten unmanned vehicles which themselves contain up to five small observation vehicles apiece. Hunter-Killer's ability to strike deep into enemy territory, no matter how dangerous, should allow the US military to dispense entirely with Europeans, except maybe for sweeping up afterwards. We should stress that the Billings report does not say that last bit. The whole concept does however have resonance to anyone who's read DARPA's recently-published Strategic Plan. We hope to have time to bring you more on this amazing document shortly, but for now the particularly relevant section is 3.3. Networked Manned and Unmanned Systems. DARPA has a vision "of filling the battlespace with unmanned systems that are networked with manned systems. The idea is not simply to replace people with machines, but to team people with robots to create more capable, agile, and cost-effective force that lowers the risk of US casualties." FCS, Future Combat Systems, is a major part of this. FCS "will be a networked system-of-systems that includes manned and unmanned ground vehicles, along with various unmanned air vehicles. The goal is to develop Units of Action that have the lethality and survivability of an M1-based heavy force, but with the agility of today's light forces. FCS brigades will be able to deploy anywhere in the world within 96 hours." Callcentre grunts controlling this little lot should not however kid themselves that they're entirely safe. We refer them to 3.7. Bio-Revolution. "This thrust is a comprehensive effort to harness the insights and power of biology to make US warfighters and their equipment stronger, safer, and more effective... DARPA is mining these new discoveries for concepts and applications that could enhance US national security in revolutionary ways... DARPA's programs to thwart the threat of biological attack have brought significant biological expertise into the Agency. This created an impetus and a capability to begin a major exploration of the national security potential of cutting-edge research in the life sciences." Had you noticed, by the way, where the results of the smallpox research grid project are going? Quite. But DARPA has bigger seafood to fry. "Enhanced System Performance refers to creating new systems with the autonomy and adaptability of living things by developing materials, processes, and devices inspred by living systems. For example, DARPA-sponsored researchers are studying how geckos climb walls and how an octopus hides to find new approaches to locomotion and highly adaptive camouflage.... Enhanced Human Performance is aimed at preventing humans from becoming the weakest link in the US military. The goal is to exploit the life sciences to make the individual warfighter stronger, more alert, more endurant, and better able to heal." Still with us, callcentre grunts? It's starting to sound a little ominous, isn't it? It gets worse. "Perhaps the program that best exemplifies the 'revolution in Bio-Revolution is the Brain Machine Interface program. This program is finding ways to detect and directly decode signals in the brain so that thought can be turned into acts performed by a machine... imagine US warfighters that only need use the power of their thoughts to do things at great distances." No, we can't either. Much else of wonder and amazement, including space warfare and a military PDA, in the full report. But it's too good to rush, so we'll get back to it. ®
John Lettice, 18 Feb 2003

‘Touch and go’ whether BT will hit 1m BB target

BT may fall short of reaching its target of one million broadband customers by the end of June, according to a report just published. Enders Analysis reports that the wholesale take-up of BT's DSL service is currently growing at an "exceptional" pace and that this would have to be sustained until the summer for BT to meet its target. During January, the report says BT Wholesale connected 70,000 ADSL lines, compared to an average of 50,000 a month during Q3 2002. This is disputed by BT Wholesale, which said that in January more than 80,000 DSL lines were connected. It also claims that connection rates are accelerating with 25,000 connected in the first week of February alone. As long as these levels of take-up are sustained then BT looks set to hit its target. A spokesman for BT Wholesale said the telco remains "absolutely confident" that it will do so. But Enders Analysis isn't so sure, which is why it is taking a more cautious approach, suggesting that it would be "touch-and-go" whether BT Wholesale hits its million mark. Of course, whether BT misses its target by a few weeks is not really of any great consequence. The important thing is that with more than 650,000 DSL connections in the UK, broadband is beginning to make its mark. But at what cost? According to the report, BT has been forced to rethink its broadband strategy following the "disappointing" take-up of its much-hyped, no-frills, access-only BT Broadband service. When it was launched last year some analysts predicted that this access-only product could sign the death warrant for traditional service and content-included ISPs. But with only 100,000-plus customers so far and millions spent on promoting the product, BT is still way-off the tough 500,000 target it set itself for the end of June. Publicly, BT is still optimistic that it will hit this target, something challenged by Enders Analysis. Perhaps more interesting, though, is the fact that BT Broadband's failure to catch on as hoped has breathed new life into the telco's ISP, BT Openworld, which was effectively kicked into the long-grass last year. Now it seems BT is ready to spend cash on it once again in a bid to increase numbers and help it reach the million. ® Related Stories BTo adds 40k BB subs BT racks up 650k BB punters No frills broadband could wipe-out ISPs
Tim Richardson, 18 Feb 2003

Freeserve denies it's gone cold on BB

Freeserve has shelved plans to push broadband and is instead concentrating on making cash from its narrowband customers. So says a report into the UK's Internet sector by Enders Analysis, which claims that "Freeserve has dropped any emphasis on broadband in favour of narrowband unmetered in its plans for 2003". It notes that Freeserve racked up 50,000 broadband customers in 2002 - some 25,000 below its own target for the year. Worse still, this is well down on Freeserve's earlier estimates for broadband. Citing a presentation made by BT Wholesale last summer, Enders Analysis reports that Freeserve was "pencilled in" for 200,000 broadband connections by summer 2003. It appears unlikely that the ISP will make this figure unless it invests heavily in promoting the service. The reason Freeserve has scaled back its plans to be a major broadband player appears simple enough - profit. Signing up more flat-rate dial-up users is more likely to push the ISP towards the black. Says the report: "Increasing unmetered subscribers will be the number one factor in Freeserve reaching profitability in 2004. By contrast, significant broadband investment would have increased losses." All this comes at a time when there is increased speculation that Freeserve could be put up for sale in a bid to raise cash for its heavily indebted grandparent France Telecom. A Freeserve spokesperson told The Register: "It's not that we've stopped pushing broadband. On the contrary, we are just looking at more clever ways to market broadband, starting with our own customer base." As if to make its point, the ISP has today announces details of a free connection and modem offer to its users that runs until the end of March. However, it's clear that Freeserve is concerned about the costs involved in carving out a future in the broadband marketplace. Said the spokesperson: "Despite £35 million of marketing spend by BT, we think that the wholesale price needs to fall further to stimulate real demand for broadband. At the retail level we see no benefit in getting into a vicious circle where every player tries to gain share by outspending us on acquisition costs. "We want to concentrate on the profitability of our existing customer base and the quality of our customer offer. In addition whilst we want to grow our base we won't get drawn into any crazy uneconomic fight with our competitors. "We have been campaigning for a level playing field in broadband. We have raised a number of legitimate issues about BT's abuse of its position in residential telephony and the impact that is having on their market share as evidenced by their latest set of results," she said. ® Related Stories Freeserve for sale? - report Freeserve abandons plan to change name to Wanadoo 49k sign up to Freeserve broadband
Tim Richardson, 18 Feb 2003

Man charged after flight manual appears on eBay

The auction of a purloined flight manual on eBay has prompted the arrest of an Air Canada baggage handler. Robert Gaglione, 47, of Brampton, Ontario has been charged with theft after allegedly offering a stolen 2002 edition of the airline's flight manual up for sale on the online auction site earlier this month. The manual, designed only for use by flight crews, includes sensitive security details "including who has the keys to the cockpit doors and the potential seat locations of sky marshals", Canada's Globe and Mail reports. The February 10 auction also offered flight charts as part of the package. Air Canada noticed the auction four days later, the auction was pulled and police were contacted. Peel Regional Police didn't have to do much legwork to identify their prime suspect - the auction provided full contact information. Gaglione has been suspended by Air Canada pending an internal investigation. He is due to face charges of theft under $5,000 and "possession of property obtained by crime" at a hearing in a Brampton court on March 10. ®
John Leyden, 18 Feb 2003

IR35 case reaches High Court

The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) is returning to the High Court, scene of a crushing defeat, to fight IR35. This time around it is supporting IT contractor Gordon Stutchbury in his case against the Inland Revenue. The case is scheduled for Feb 25-27. The PCG reckons that the Inland Ruling ruling over Stutchbury's tax status is such a travesty that it should never have got to the High Court. It hopes that this will be obvious to the judge. But if the PCG fails everyone involved in the fight against IR35 really will have to pack up their tents. Case Background Gordon Stutchbury, like many contractors, paid his IR35 tax demand just to be on the safe side, and then appealed to the Special Commissioners. He represented himself and lost, even though he had many attributes which appeared to put him outside IR35. He then contacted the PCG which got partners Accountax to represent him. Stuchbury had a contract with his agency which, in turn, had a contract to supply his services to the Benefits Agency. In the middle of his contract, the Benefits Agency decided to outsource it IT department to EDS. There was no change to Gordon’s contract at all. There was no change to the work he had to do. There was a change to the agency’s contract, which was now with EDS, and not the Benefits Agency. Guess what? Although it has already been decided that Stutchbury’s contract was IR35-free when he worked for the Benefits Agency, it was decided that the part of his contract period when he worked for the Benefits Agency people through EDS was captured by IR35 – even though there was no change to the terms and conditions of his contract. It's not as if Stutchbury has been contracting at one company for ten years or more. He has contracted at 20 different companies in a period of 12 years, sometimes working for more than one client at a time. If Stutchbury is a 'disguised employee' then he is certainly a master of disguises. According to the PCG, the Inland Revenue has made some technical blunders, e.g. it got wrong the period of time where Stutchbury was supposed to be working through EDS. The Inland Revenue will also have to reveal in court if it has seen the contract between the agent and the client, EDS, which Stutchbury was never able to see. It is understood that The Inland Revenue may have seen this contract and it may have taken this into account when ruling against Stutchbury. If the Inland Revenue did take steps to get hold of the contract, it could have broken the Data Protection Act . Winning Victories Stutchbury is the first major IR35 court case since two defeats in 2001 which the PCG received in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal. The PCG has fresh heart, however, these days, and morale is high. Since the court defeats, the PCG has won 100 cases on behalf of contractor members, after the Inland Revenue had started investigating them for more tax, IR35 or otherwise. It has also successfully lobbied for the abolition of Fast Track Visas; and removal of IT skills from the Skills Occupation List. The PCG also funded Lime-IT in its successful case against the Inland Revenue over IR35. Moment of Truth However, the PCG was set up to fight IR35. It lost two court cases very expensively, but it now has a new opportunity to inflict major damage on the Inland Revenue and on IR35. If the Inland Revenue should lose this case very expensively then it will be less keen to pursue contractors over IR35 – especially if the contractors have the PCG behind them. © NamesFacesPlaces. Gerry Mclaughlin is the owner of NamesFacesPlaces, a kind of Friends United for IT contractors.
Gerry Mclaughlin, 18 Feb 2003

Instant Internet access before you boot Windows

BIOS king Phoenix Technologies is developing its core software technologies to help users cope better with system failures. Phoenix Core Management Environment, or cME, promises a means for OEMs to include diagnostic and self help capabilities, Internet access and remote desktop builds, even after a major system malfunction. The technology is operating system independent and designed to be used on both PCs, servers, appliances and embedded systems. It's at the desktop where the technology really comes alive though. Existing below the operating system, it offers not just life after the dreaded Blue Screen of Death, but a means for users to fire up system diagnostics, calendar applications and Internet access almost instantly - without waiting for Windows (or Linux) to boot. Add to that the technology, currently in development, to allow a DVD Player to fire up in trice and we have something rather useful (and which sounds similar to Elegent's etDVD bios). Phoenix's technology is not an OS but it is looking for ISVs to write applications to bolt into its system. Windows .NOT We saw a demo of the environment running of a Compaq Tablet PC. Although we weren't able to check out the Internet access functions, and our first impression was that more work needs to be done on the GUI, its possible to imagine people in a hurry booting up their Windows PC and accessing the Net using cME without touching Windows. We can't believe this concept will go down well in Redmond, for reasons long-term Reg readers know only too well. Phoenix execs we spoke to today played down the possibility of rousing the Beast and instead emphasised how the cME environment allows OEMs to tailor the user experience to their own design. This has to be an anathema to Microsoft. But Phoenix already has links to all the major OEMs, so its aspirations to extend its role have a firm foundation. The possibility of Phoenix offering PC manufacturers technology that makes it easier for users to diagnose software problems, thereby helping to potentially reduce support costs, might prove enticing. Phoenix rising Phoenix hasn't signed any OEMs as yet but expects the technology to reach the market in around three months. AMD and Transmeta have been rounded up to sing the praises of the technology and Phoenix tells us Intel is backing the technology too, although its name doesn't appear on the press release. Samsung and National Semiconductors also join the cME cheerleader brigade. This morning we got a reasonable first impression of how the technology works, which we're hoping to flesh out with more detail later. Phoenix cME resides within the system firmware and a protected area of the hard drive. We were blitzed with soundbites about secure cME (a 'bomb shelter'/safety net) is but the real importance of the technology seems to be in simplifying recovery when something goes wrong. In PC and server environments, Phoenix cME enables the creation and management of a secure "host protected area" (HPA) of the hard drive, where applications reside. The first of these are Phoenix's own FirstWave apps, which help diagnose and recover PCs if the OS goes tits-up, third party developers can write their own aps for storage in this "tamper-proof"(actually tamper-resistant) area. Phoenix is talking to McAfee about installing a version of its AV software in this area. This would seem to require considerable development work and we suspect McAfee interest here is in extending its marketing reach to more potential customers of its flagship VirusScan suite. McAfee already has a deal to preload VirusScan on PCs from several vendors but it can reach a far greater potential customer base where its technology feature in the core systems of the world's largest BIOS software firm. Let's talk technical After meeting Phoenix's sales/marketing people this morning we were left with three main questions. What are the benefits for ISVs in writing to its environment? In the case of McAfee would a user have two versions of VirusScan running on their PCs, we wondered? Secondly we wanted to know about the privacy safeguards (if any) that have been put in place for the Internet access functions provided through Phoenix's technology. Phoenix has strayed into controversial waters on this point in the past (Phoenix BIOS phone-home questions addressed), so it's as well to know what its doing now. Lastly we wanted to know more about the statement that for "information appliances and consumer electronics devices, set as set-top boxes and hand-held devices, Phoenix cME provides the same secure environment for content delivery from the Internet". We'd rather like to know what copy restrictions this might impose on users. Phoenix, through its UK PR agency, has promised to pass over these questions to its techies in the States for a response, which we await with interest. ® Related Stories Phoenix BIOS phone-home questions addressed Will Phoenix keep your disks and OS CPRM-free? Phoenix readies plan to subvert MS OEM contracts
John Leyden, 18 Feb 2003
SGI logo hardware close-up

Divine. Inc mulls bankruptcy

Divine Inc., is close to collapse. The dotcom tithe firm has hired investment bank Broadview Associates to help it explore "strategic options, which may include asset divestitures, comparable transactions, and/or the filing of a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. divine is currently involved in active discussions regarding the potential sale of several businesses or strategic assets". The company warns that successful conclusions cannot be guaranteed. Divine has been hit hard by a scandal at subsidiary Rowecom, which spent the $50m it collected in 2002 as an agent on behalf of publishers - on its own business. Lawsuits from publishers and subscribers, chiefly US libraries, could be on the cards. In recent months Divine Inc's patent lawyers have sent out court-threatening letters designed to extract royalties from, mostly, US dotcom firms. It seems a reasonably safe bet that such demands should be ignored until the company's fiscal status is determined. But don't take our word for this: seek advice from your lawyer before you scrunch up that demand and hurl it in the bin. ® Related Link/Stories Divine Inc. press release Divine extracts dotcom tithe from UK firm Is this why Divine Inc. is screwing small dotcoms?
Drew Cullen, 18 Feb 2003

HP talks scalable for Itanium 2 chipset, dualie module

IDFIDF HP is using opening day at the Intel Developer Forum to underscore its role as Itanium 2 cheerleader. The company is prepping two new products for the 64-bit CPU, the sx1000 chipset and the HP mx 2 dual processor module. The key word for both is "scalability" - more processors on the same number of HP servers and/or bigger servers. The HP sx1000 chipset is a multi-talented beast, support the forthcoming HP PA 8800 processor as well as the Itanium 2. The chipset also "provides investment protection for PA-RISC customers by enabling them to transition to Itanium-based systems through a simple cell board swap". HP Itanium 2-based servers will support HP-UX, Linux, Open VMS and what the company says is the "much anticipated Microsoft Windows Server 2003". HP says the sx1000-based version of Superdome, its big server, should ship with future Itanium 2 processor 6 MB (Madison) in mid-2003. It's following up with sx1000-flavoured mid-range servers in the second half of 2003. Dualling Now for the dualie module: the mx 2 combines two future Itanium 2 processors and a 32-MB L4 cache onto a daughter card which is pin-compatible with current Madison Itanium 2 sockets. The HP mx2 dual processor module is designed to combine two future Itanium 2 processors and a 32-MB L4 cache onto a single daughter card module that is pin-compatible with existing Madison Itanium 2 processor sockets. HP has been very enthusiastic with this announcement as it has no intention of releasing MX2 servers before the first half of 2004. Customer Wins HP today also proclaimed a clutch of customer wins for Itanium 2, drew attention to the ability of the platform to run SAP, Oracle and BEA enterprise systems, and claimed a big four-processor benchmark result for the Itanium 2-based HP Server using the rx5670 chipset: walk this way for the press release. &Reg;
Drew Cullen, 18 Feb 2003

Intel wheels out two concept PCs

IDFIDF Intel wheeled out two new concept PC platforms - and two new codenames at the Intel Developer's Forum (IDF) today. Say hello to Newport, the next gen mobile PC for the knowledge worker, and to Marble Falls, the next gen etc, only this time for desktops. PCs incorporating their technology should start hitting the streets in 2004. We expect more from Intel on the subject tomorrow. Today, they got their first outing, courtesy of Intel CEO Craig Barrett's opening keynote. Newport is based on Centrino and introduces the concept of what Intel dubs "closed lid computing". In other words, there's a little LCD featuring a greatly simplified UI incorporated onto the outside of the notebook casing. This enables the user to, say, answer his or her emails, even when the notebook is closed. Is there no escape from always on-working? Newport notebooks will also have wireless-searching and switching capabilities. Apparently they will seek for and switch to the best available network, whether it's .11 or GPRS. Oh, the Newport demo machine featured a detachable tablet. And on to Marble Falls. This has an onboard chipset for dual independent audio and video -i.e. two monitors will run on one PC. And integrated camera is supplied. ®
Drew Cullen, 18 Feb 2003

Barrett: Reasons to Be Cheerful

IDFIDF Someone has got to be an optimist about a tech industry upturn, and that someone is usually Intel CEO Craig Barrett. Treading familiar territory at the Intel Developer Forum, Barrett makes the simple point: all recessions end. Will this one end in 2003? Maybe not: but IT investment has surely bottomed out. Pointing to analyst forecasts of global uptick in IT spending of between 4-7 per cent, Barrett thinks there are many reasons to be cheerful. On the prosaic side, there's plenty of ageing kit out there – 160-180m PCs over three years old which will have to be replaced sometime. The withdrawal of support for Win 95 and Win 98 at the end of this year could be a kicker, Barrett mulls. Then there is the digitization of content – video, music – which means more reasons to buy new PCs and sundry devices. Also there is plenty of room for IT growth, certainly outside the US. Today the global IT economy is about $1 trillion, and this will grow to c. $1.3bn by 2005-2006, Barrett says. Despite all the bad news, Internet usage continues to grow apace, he notes. By 2006, there should be one billion Internet users and two billion Internet-connected devices. By 2006, $10 trillion dollars a year will be transacted through ecommerce. Outside the US, the broadband build-out is gathering steam – Barrett cites Japan as an example of what a country should do – US regulators, take note. The world is also starting to see the build-out of wireless networks, wide area as well as local. ®
Drew Cullen, 18 Feb 2003