4th > March > 2003 Archive

Sendmail vuln. Patch now

A serious flaw in Sendmail creates a way for attackers to take over email servers, security tools firm ISS warned yesterday. Sendmail has a buffer overflow vulnerability, enabling attacks (using maliciously-constructed emails) of servers. Sendmail technology is the transport mechanism for most of the Net's email traffic. ISS warns: "Vulnerable Sendmail servers will not be protected by legacy security devices such as firewalls and/or packet filters. This vulnerability is especially dangerous because the exploit can be delivered within an email message and the attacker doesn't need any specific knowledge of the target to launch a successful attack." Sendmail versions from 5.79 to 8.12.7 are vulnerable. According to security clearing house CERT, an exploit based on the vulnerability is yet to used by black hats. But that's no reason for complaceny - the flaw is serious and Sendmail is too tempting a target. Sendmail Corporation advises sites upgrade to 8.12.8 if possible. Many vendors include vulnerable Sendmail servers as part of their software distributions, hence the need to patch Unix and Linux systems as well as dedicated mail servers. CERT's advisory provides links to available patches, which are mostly already available. ® Related Stories Sendmail Trojan looks familiar Trojanized Sendmail distro circulated FBI names 20 most unwanted security flaws
John Leyden, 04 Mar 2003

Summer wait for revised Handspring

The next generation of product from Handspring won't ship until late summer, but the company hinted to us on Friday that it would involve a major redesign. The Treo Communicator hasn't undergone a case overhaul since its launch in November 2001, although the internals - both hardware and software - have been improved in the 270 and 300 models and with a subsequent software upgrade. So for now, the company will continue to offer steep discounts on its existing range. A T-Mobile-branded Treo 270 went on sale here today with a $100 rebate. The American wing of the Deutsche Telecom giant uses Cingular's GSM/GPRS network here in California. While the danger is that loyal customers will hold off making a repeat purchase until seeing the new range, Handspring now increasingly targets the enterprise market, which has more conservative buying patterns. Handspring's Brian Jaquet told us the 270 was co-developed with T-Mobile, and that the company will increasingly push to use the carriers' retail space as a storefront. Handspring has a phone handset company's expenses, but not its volumes although it has cut costs drastically to meet demand in its transition from a PDA company to a communicator company. While it's never turned a profit, net losses were trimmed to $12.2m in the most recent quarter, and Treo sales are edging up. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Mar 2003

BEA updates WebLogic Portal

Yesterday (3rd March) BEA announced version 8.1 of BEA WebLogic Portal, which is due to be generally available in mid-summer, writes Phil Howard. WebLogic Portal was first released about 18 months ago as version 4.0. This reflected the fact that much of the functionality in WebLogic Portal had previously been available within BEA Personalisation Server, which had been in version 3.5. The second release of WebLogic Portal was version 7.0, last summer and the numbering had changed to match that of the current version of WebLogic Server. This is the policy that BEA has now adopted for its entire product range, with the exception that the Application Server is now released in a .0 release, and all other products then appear together with the first point of release of WebLogic Server. Thus 8.1. In practice, version 8.1 of WebLogic Portal is the first major update, at least in terms of functionality and user features, since the initial release of the product. Version 7.0 concentrated mainly on infrastructure improvements. There are two key features to understand about WebLogic Portal. First, it is integrated with, and requires, WebLogic Server. This has some significant advantages, not only in performance terms but also with respect to features. For example, you can use Liquid Data (another part of the WebLogic Suite) to integrate internal and external data into the portal, more easily than would otherwise be the case. Secondly, WebLogic Portal derives not only from the previous Personalisation Server but also from the former Commerce Server and Campaign Manager products. This means that it includes e-commerce and other capabilities that you would not normally expect from a portal product. In addition, features required for these environments, such as workflow, were implemented in WebLogic Portal long before most competitive products (some of which have still not implemented workflow). There are three major areas of enhancement in version 8.1. The first is with the Unified Portal Framework, the second in Portal Lifecycle Management and the third is in Portal Business Services. The most notable new feature of the Unified Portal Framework (UPF) is that there is enhanced support for a network of portals and, in particular, if security considerations mean that you need to have multiple distinct portals, then the integration with WebLogic Server means that you can do this within a single instance of the Application Server. This is a big advantage compared to most other suppliers, where multiple instances of the Server would be required. As far as Portal Lifecycle Management is concerned, BEA has put a major emphasis on supporting business people in assembling their portals rather than requiring the intervention of the IT department. In addition, although this is really a function of the UPF, BEA has focused on allowing the whole environment to be created and supported without the need for Java programmers (because they are expensive). Finally, in so far as Portal Business Services are concerned, BEA has introduced its own content management capabilities. These are not for heavy-duty requirements (for which BEA has a partnership with Documentum) but will be suitable for many users that do not have such in-depth requirements. Also in this release, BEA has extended the search capabilities of the embedded Autonomy engine, which now supports federated search capabilities; and has added a virtual content repository that allows you to manage or view third-party content repositories as if this was a single environment. BEA claims over 750 customers for WebLogic Portal, making it a leading vendor in this market. © < a href="http://www.it-analysis.com">IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 04 Mar 2003
SGI logo hardware close-up

IBM Global Services: billion dollar deals

IBM Global Services is to provide server, mainframe and storage systems and services to French insurance company AXA. France has proved a tricky market for foreign services providers, due partly to the strength of unions. This latest deal may prompt further French interest as it is structured to allow some of the jobs to stay in French hands. IBM Global Services is continuing its recent run of billion-dollar outsourcing wins with a landmark $1 billion contract with French insurance giant AXA. Under the terms of the deal, IBM GS will provide server, mainframe and storage systems and services to AXA over the next six years through its on-demand or utility computing model, which will enable AXA to pay for its IT systems services on a pay-per-usage basis. The contract will cover all of AXA's global operations including Western Europe, North America and Asia Pacific regions, and the company said it expects to save several hundred million dollars over the lifetime of the deal. The latest deal comes hot on the heels of IBM GS's $2 billion 10-year contract with Visteon earlier this month, its $5 billion utility outsourcing contract with JP Morgan Chase at the start of 2003, and its $2.5 billion contract with Deutsche Bank in December. The AXA contract is particularly significant since it is not structured as a typical outsourcing deal. IBM GS will not be purchasing either IT assets or personnel from AXA, which will retain ownership of the systems. AXA said this will enable it to retain its core IT competencies such as strategy, technology relationships, application development and database maintenance, as well as management of its technology portfolio. IBM GS will be responsible for providing the computing skills, training and resources to deliver the on-demand IT services, and it will enable AXA to move from a fixed cost to a more flexible variable cost model. France has been traditionally a difficult market to crack for the major US services providers, due in part to the strength of the local workers' unions that have strongly opposed the transfer of large numbers of employees to non-French companies. However, this latest deal by IBM GS, which does not require the sale of assets, and therefore secures certain IT jobs, could ignite interest in further deals. © Datamonitor is offering Reg readers some of its technology research FOC. Check it out here.
Datamonitor, 04 Mar 2003

EMC and Hitachi kiss and tell

EMC and Hitachi are kissing cousins again: they are to drop their legal action against each other and will swap APIs, the enterprise storage world's equivalent of exchanging precious bodily fluids. Hitachi has signed a pre-nuptial agreeing to make "balancing payments" to EMC - no figures are mentioned. In turn EMC is to drop its patent litigation and its dumping complaint filed with the US International Trade Commission. The duo are to cross-license their technology for five years. In April last year, EMC filed patent infringement complaints against Hitachi and its Hitachi Data Systems subsidiary, with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) and US District Court in Massachusetts. An evidentiary hearing in this case, scheduled for March 10, will no longer be necessary. A rival counter suit, arguing that EMC infringed Hitachi's patents, has also been dropped. By swapping APIs, enterprise storage vendors give their customers the chance to manage heterogenous, proprietary technology more easily and more cheaply. In the past, EMC especially, but others too, made hay from technology lock-in. But in these straitened times, corporoates are less willing to pay the huge margins formerly demanded. With huge take-up expect4ed for new standards, Bluefin and CIM, the days of new sales of proprietary technology may be numbered. But there is a huge installed base which will benefit from vendor API swaps. Yesterday, EMC signed an API swap deal with VERITAS, the most significant software storage player. ® EMC and Hitachi today announced the settlement of all pending patent infringement lawsuits between the two firms. Along with the legal settlement, EMC and Hitachi also agreed to exchange storage related application programming interfaces (APIs) and a five-year patent cross-licensing agreement. Under terms of the agreements, Hitachi has agreed to make undisclosed payments to EMC. The remaining terms of the cross-license agreement are confidential. ® Related Stories HP fires patent lawsuit, EMC fires back EMC sues HDS over patents HDS plays down API swaps with IBM or EMC Mixed fortunes in becalmed storage market iSCSI rolls out for passenger service External Links Give peace a chance - EMC's statement
Drew Cullen, 04 Mar 2003

FIC leaks ATI R350 data

Details of ATI's R350 graphics chip have been inadvertently made public days ahead of the company's official announcement at CeBit. Oops. ATI licensee First International Computer (FIC) yesterday emailed journalists a sneak preview of the products it plans to unveil at Spring Comdex, among them two cards based on the R350: the A98 and A98P. ATI's own cards are expected to be dubbed the Radeon 9800 and Radeon 9800 Pro. According to the FIC email, the R350 is based on an eight-pipeline architecture and a 256-bit internal bus. It features a 400MHz RAMDAC and supports AGP 8x. The A98's R350 will be clocked at 325MHz; the A98P's at 400MHz. The faster card sports a 460MHz memory interface connected to 256MB of DDR SDRAM. The A98's memory clock operates at 310MHz. It will ship with 128MB of DDR memory. Both cards contain 512KB of serial Flash ROM, TV-out, support for simultaneous dual displays, and compatibility with Direct X 9.0 and OpenGL, according to the FIC press release, now yanked from the company's Web site. For ATI this is merely a taste of its own medicine. Long-time Reg readers will recall that ATI provoked Steve Jobs' ire after pre-announcing in a press release of its own details of new Power Macs a couple of summers ago. This incident is said to have prompted Apple to build a relationship with Nvidia - until that point, ATI had been the Mac maker's sole graphics chip supplier. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 2003

Freeserve mulls dial-up usage limit

Freeserve is mulling over following BT Openworld's lead and introduce usage caps for its flat-rate unmetered AnyTime service. Currently, Freeserve has no monthly limit for its all-you-can-eat unmetered service. But according to sources, all that could change with execs considering whether to introduce a cap similar to BT Openworld's 150 hour a month limit for its unmetered dial-up product. A spokeswoman for Freeserve said she was unaware of any such moves to impose a cap on its unmetered service. However, increased losses at the UK arm of French ISP, Wanadoo, means that Freeserve is being forced to look at cutting costs. In a statement yesterday Wanadoo said that it had "initiated a programme aimed at enhancing income performance to cut its losses". Part of that comes from news Freeserve sneaked out late last week adding £1 a month to its AnyTime service. The price rise - bringing the cost of AnyTime to £14.99 a month - comes into force from March 25. As well as trying to increase revenue, it's also trying to cut costs. Recently, it renegotiated key contracts with its network supplier, Energis, and customer service operators both of which Freeserve claims should help reduce costs. Said Freeserve in a statement: "We greatly reduced network costs by renegotiating our contract with Energis; the benefits of which will be seen in 2003. "We are also negotiating more efficient customer service contracts where we are paying less but offering a superior service." ® Related Stories Wanadoo makes a profit Energis keeps Freeserve gig Freeserve denies it's gone cold on BB Freeserve signs up new broadband support opo
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 2003

Energis ‘anticipates’ Irish job losses

El Reg has had some interesting feedback from readers concerning yesterday's story that UK telecoms group, Energis, is to create more than 100 jobs thanks to increased sales. That's all well and good, said one insider in an email, but what of the 100 or so people that have recently been made redundant at Energis' Irish operation? Really? We asked Energis to clarify. In a statement, Energis said: "We have undertaken a strategic review of our business in Ireland as part of the integration of our operations in Great Britain and Ireland. "As a result, we anticipate that a number of roles will become redundant across Energis' Irish operations over the next few months. "This re-structuring process is a necessary step in ensuring that Energis in Ireland remains a successful and sustainable business." According to this statement, Energis "anticipates" job losses. According to insiders, the axe has already fallen with a round 100 booted out already. Unfortunately, no one at Energis was available to clear up the details of this at the time of writing. Energis Ireland was created in January this year after Energis rebranded the Irish telecoms and Internet outfit, nevada tele.com, which it acquired from Viridian Group plc last November. Energis said that nevada's name change to Energis was a "further step in the integration of its operations in Belfast and Dublin with those of Energis in Great Britain". ® Related Story Energis creates 100 jobs
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 2003

Psion flogs online store to Expansys

Psion is to sell its online store to Expansys, the self-dubbed Europe's "largest specialist retailer of wireless technology in Europe and North America". Expansys is paying £300K upfront and up to £200K on performance over the next couple of years. Psion in turn will promote the Expansys store on its web sites in the UK, USA, France and Italy for a year, PMN reports. Psion doesn't really have too much to sell through retail these days, following its withdrawal from the modem card and consumer PDA sectors (although you can still get new Netbooks). Expansys, which we look up from time to time for pricing info, is an obvious home for end-of-life Psion consumer products and add-ons as it is already an active Psion retailer. ®
Drew Cullen, 04 Mar 2003

Dell offers $899 desknotes

Dell has updated its Inspiron notebook family with two low-end and mid-range models based on desktop processors aimed at users willing to sacrifice mobility for price and power. The Inspiron 1100 sports a 2GHz Intel Celeron - based on the original Pentium 4 core - while the Inspiron 5100 is powered by a second-generation Pentium 4 with clock speeds ranging from 2.4GHz to 2.8GHz. The P4s have 533MHz front-side bus speeds and 512KB of on-die L2 cache. The Celeron part has a 400MHz FSB and 128KB of cache memory. The 1100 ships with a base 128MB of memory, CD-ROM drive and 14.1in screen. Graphics are driven by Intel Extreme on the mobo. Prices start at $899. UK pricing has yet to be announced. The 5100 is based on the same chassis as the 1100, but the line kicks off with 256MB of RAM, 14.1in screen - connected to an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 chip - and 30GB hard drive. Unlike the 1100 is offers a FireWire/1394 port. Dell is offering the machine for $1199 (£799 in the UK). ®
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 2003

MS aims at Linux with $399 Server 2003, Web Edition

There will be no price increases (as such) when Microsoft ships its next server OS, Windows Server 2003, on April 24th, but there will be a new budget-priced version of the product aimed squarely at the web server market. Server 2003 Web Edition comes without client access licences, with a 2gig limit on memory, 2-way SMP, and is $399. It's essentially a stripped-down version of Standard Edition ($999), which comes with 4gig, 4-way SMP and five CALs, and it also comes with some distribution limitations, the import of which are not yet clear. "Windows Server 2003, Web Edition is not available in all channels," says the footnote. "Contact your local System Builder, OEM, or reseller for more information on how to purchase." Microsoft, as the Netcraft stats show, has not been wildly successful in winning hearts and minds in the web serving community, and has even been losing share over the past couple of months. And given who's been winning, one might almost coin the expression 'nobody ever got fired for setting up a Linux web server.' The Beast does not give in easily when confronted by failure, so the Web Edition deal is clearly intended as a shot in the arm for Microsoft's faltering web server sales, and thus a pop at Linux. Will it work? Much depends on what the Ts & Cs of sale, which you will shortly be able to glean from your local system builder, etc. The product is certainly badly hobbled as regards scalability and flexibility, but it could be presented as a confortable and understandable addition for small Windows shops setting up a web site, and worried about having to deal with the Unix/Linux Priesthood. Not all web sites need vastly powerful servers, and Web Edition could quite possibly do the job for quite a lot of small businesses. Sure, if they do grow they might have to tangle with The Priesthood anyway ("strewth, mate - who put this in for you?") but if they're already on a Microsoft web server, even a rather small and crippled one, the chances of their staying in the Microsoft camp will have increased. Whether the move works or not depends on how Microsoft proposes to sell it, and how hard the company plans to push it. You never know, if pushing a low-priced special version turns out to work, an important truth about selling server software may eventually dawn on Microsoft. Albeit somewhat belatedly. ® Related links: Server 2003 features compared Server 2003 pricing
John Lettice, 04 Mar 2003

ATI confirms Nintendo gig (we think)

ATI today issued a short press release even shorter on detail proclaiming that it has "entered into a technology development agreement with Nintendo". In the next breath it says the same thing again, only with the words in a different order. "Under the agreement, ATI and Nintendo are developing technologies for use in Nintendo products." No other details are being released, but ATI describes the gig as "major". We infer that ATI has bagged the gig, more or less, to supply the graphics for the next-gen Nintendo console. The company already supplies the graphics chips for the Nintendo GameCube. Last week, Dave Rolston, engineering veep at ATI, told the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference, that the company was "looking at pursuing deals for future versions of both that console and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox console, which uses Nvidia technology," Reuters reports (in a possible slip of the brain, Reuters has filed the story in its company search section under 'Nvidia'). The company is having "ongoing discussion with both of those players". ® Related story FIC leaks ATI R350 data
Drew Cullen, 04 Mar 2003
Broken CD with wrench

Lexmark slapped with anti-trust suit

Lexmark is facing a potential damages payout of over $100 million if an anti-trust suit filed this past Friday by Static Control Components (SCC) goes against it. The suit claims Lexmark is guilty of restricting commerce, and engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices. In essence, alleges SCC, "Lexmark has unlawfully attempted to monopolise and has monopolised that market for remanufactured cartridges that go into their printers". The filing follows Lexmark's successful - so far - action against SCC, using the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Lexmark alleges SCC's Smartek chips, which allow companies other than Lexmark to refill and reuse Lexmark toner cartridges, violate Lexmark copyrights. Lexmark claims that it isn't trying to block the remanufacture of its toner cartridges but wants to ensure the quality of remanufactured cartridges. However, SCC's chips allow the remanufacture of Lexmark cartridges without Lexmark involvement - either as a supplier of cartridges to remanufacturers or as a remanufacturer in its own right. It's hard not to conclude that the printer giant has other, more commercial motives. That, at least, is SCC's argument and the basis for its anti-trust claim. alongside its legal action, SCC is also seeking exemption of its products and others like them from the DMCA. It argues that the technology circumvented by its chips simply seek to maintain the toner cartridge manufacturer's hold over its customers, not to guarantee copyright. As such, says SCC, such technology is outside the scope of the DMCA and thus not under its protection. Last month it was granted leave by the US Copyright Office to petition the public for comments on its proposal. ® Related Link SCC's petition notice Related Story Lexmark wins Round 1 in DMCA chip case
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 2003

Calling time on mobile crime

The mobile phone industry and police have teamed up in an initiative designed to clamp down on mobile phone crime. With all UK mobile phone networks now sharing information on a single database, once reported stolen or lost, mobile phones are blocked across all UK networks making them useless even if the SIM card has been changed. O2, for example, reported today that it has disabled just under 100,000 stolen mobile phones since the introduction of a comprehensive database last summer. There are now nearly half a million stolen handsets on the database, according to O2. A £1.5 million advertising blitz, launched today, will promote the message that "Stolen Phones Don't Work Any More", thanks to this co-operation between networks. The hope is this message will deter thieves from stealing mobiles in the first place. Meanwhile the mobile phone industry has launched a Web site, immobilise.com, and set up a new phone line (08701 123 123) to facilitate the reporting of lost and stolen handsets. And the police have promised to crack down on criminals, using laws introduced under the Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act. This legislation enables the police to arrest criminals dealing in stolen mobile phones, with penalties of up to five years in prison for those convicted of reprogramming mobiles. The campaign is backed by the Home Office, with the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, launching the Immobilise Mobile Phone Crime initiative at an event in London today. The Immobilise Mobile Phone Crime advertising campaign is part of an ongoing programme by the mobile phone industry, the police and the Government to clamp down on mobile phone theft. The advertising campaign will kick off in London today and will then roll out to phone crime hotspots across the country. The majority of mobile phone retailers, including leading chains such as The Carphone Warehouse, The Link, Phones 4U and the networks' own outlets, will be putting up stickers, posters and leaflets in their stores nationwide, urging victims of mobile crime to report their loss and to help stop stolen mobile phones being sold on. Jack Wraith, Chief Executive of MICAF (Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum), said: "The message of the campaign is clear - stolen mobile phones don't work anymore." "In addition, if you attempt to change the identity of the phone you are looking at a five year prison sentence. We now urge all mobile phone users, both pre pay and contract, to report their handsets if they are stolen or lost and put a stop to mobile phone crime." Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "Police forces have already made several arrests in operations against alleged reprogrammers. This crackdown will continue and more operations are already being planned to stop those fuelling the trade in stolen phones." ® Related Stories Heathrow thieves steal 1,400 SPV Orange smartphones Call for tougher action, in Samsung stolen phone wake The Great Mobile Phone Robbery Cellnet, Vodafone clamp down on mobile phone theft Mobile phone theft is far worse than we thought
John Leyden, 04 Mar 2003

14 more exchanges to get ADSL

Fourteen more exchanges have passed their trigger levels and are being readied for their conversion to ADSL. So far, 172 exchanges have hit their threshold as part of a demand-led scheme to upgrade exchanges to broadband. Of these, 25 exchanges have gone live (the latest are Alton and Worle) with work ongoing to upgrade another 147. Anyhow, the following exchanges are new to BT's list and are all due to be converted during May. Please note, this list comes straight from BT March, Cambs Frensham, Surrey Prestatyn, Clwyd Portishead, Avon Aberdeen Ashgrove, Grampian Armthorpe, South Yorkshire Runcorn East, Cheshire Knottingley, West Yorks Lingfield, Surrey Epping, Essex Redditch Old Town, Hereford & Worcs Aberdeen Bielside, Grampian Bewdley, Hereford & Worcs Downhall, Essex Err, that's it. ® Related Story 20 more exchanges to get ADSL
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 2003

Tiscali UK mulls roll-out of Sat service

Tiscali UK has decided to delay the commercial roll-out of a broadband-via-satellite service until it has finished evaluating the results of a year-long trial. The pilot project - which involved 90 people - ended last week. At the moment the ISP is mulling over the results before pressing ahead. ISP director Steve Horley said it could be three to six months before Tiscali UK goes ahead with the service, although this time-scale isnot set in stone. While the trial proved successful, it seems consumers were put-off somewhat by the up-front costs (around £600) of installing a satellite broadband service. As a result, the ISP is looking at alternative products to see if other options can be found with lower up-front costs. That said, the service has proved a hit with home workers and small businesses with some of the trialists continuing to use the service. Tiscali UK insists it is committed to a satellite offering because DSL coverage in the UK is not yet comprehensive. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 2003

Google promises relevant ads!

Google today unwrapped an new advertising programme with a twist - the ads are relevant! In Googlespeak, these are "content-targeted ads" - nothing new about that, is there? But Google has, as it did before with news and link rankings, automated the process. The Google ad server "gauges user response in the form of click-through rates to determine the order in which ads are shown. Users see the most relevant advertising first and advertisers are rewarded with average click-through rates at least five times higher than the industry average for traditional banner ads". The service will run on Google Groups, as well as the main site. This should be interesting as click-through rates on forums are terrible, typically. Google is also reaching out to web publishers - big ones - to take on Google's Content-Targeted Ads. This is an interesting way of reaching out beyond the portals, home of most paid-for-search placements, an area dominated by Overture alongside (in Europe) e-Spotting. The Google pitch to publishers that it can enable them to "monetize content pages - even remnant or run-of-site inventory". First-day signings include Knight Ridder Digital properties (San Jose Mercury News, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer) and HowStuffWorks. Interested? First of all your site should receive more than 20 million page views a month, then you should contact Google here. Google has put up a page here, explaining more. ® Related story Overture buys FAST's web search biz
Drew Cullen, 04 Mar 2003
cable

IBM recalls 117,000 dusty old monitors

IBM has demanded the return of up to 117,000 monitors because they might catch fire. It's taken IBM some time to admit there's a problem. The displays - the G51CRT and G51t Touch Screen CRT - were made more than five-and-a-half years ago. The last one was sold in December 1998. The units were manufactured for IBM in Malaysia and China by LiteOn Technology International. LiteOn produced over 700,000 screens for IBM between 1997 and 1999. Since 2001, IBM has received five complaints about monitors overheating or smoking. One report cited "minor property damage". Fortunately, no one has been hurt. All the screens are 15in models, long since replaced by larger models. Given their age, we wonder how many are still in use, having long passed business' three-year write-down period. Not all of the monitors will have been sold to businesses, however - many were sold through the likes of Best Buy, CompUSA, OfficeMax and Radio Shack, so individuals may be at risk too. IBM's web site has details of the monitors the company is recalling. The page explains how you can identify if your monitor is one of those affected. If it is, IBM will repair the unit, replacing the motherboard compenent that might overheat, though many owners may relish the excuse to upgrade their grimy, aging 15in jobs to larger, modern displays. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 2003

Apple v MS lawsuit to walk again in Lindows.com trial

Home of the chutzpah Lindows.com has been handed a spectacular victory by Seattle District Court in its trademark battle with Microsoft. No, it hasn't won, it hasn't achieved an honourable settlement whereby it can keep the name, or just continue business under another name - it's been allowed to introduce Microsoft documents covering the famous Apple-Microsoft copyright case, and the trial has been delayed from April to December because of that. The delay is possibly neither here nor there. On the one hand it means what ought to be a very small matter festers for longer, with all that means in terms of publicity for Lindows.com. On the other, though, a hiatus in the case could well take the matter out of the public eye - but we're sure CEO Michael Robertson will think of something. The really clear victory is the Apple matter. Apple's 1988 landmark losing suit against Microsoft helped shape the industry we know, but being pre-Internet the case didn't really get the level of exposure it would today. Whatever you think of the Microsoft versus Lindows.com case, the 300-odd boxes Microsoft has been ordered to turn over will surely command attention. Provided the judge lets us see them, that is. For our younger readers, Apple contended that Microsoft had swiped the Mac in order to design Windows, and there were various reverberations elsewhere - Digital Research climbed down and changed Gem (a Windows competitor, not a lot of people remember it), whereas we think IBM got away with it on the basis of its alliance with Apple. But we can't entirely remember that. Apple lost in the end, not having been helped by having stolen the Mac from Xerox earlier anyway. And having given Microsoft a licence for Windows 1.0 (a far bigger dog than Bob) in 1985. But you can see how Lindows.com might benefit from association with this titanic struggle. The company says it wishes to establish that the term "'windows' is generic and not the exclusive property of any one company," and intriguingly, to "shed light on how Microsoft was able to obtain a trademark for 'windows' after the United States Patent and Trademark Office repeatedly refused registration because the mark was deemed to be generic." That of course is not quite what the Apple-Microsoft case was about - arguments there included the extent to which you could or could not copyright screen displays or GUIs. Which does suggest another area where Lindows.com's lawyers could find gainful employ. In the matter of US versus MS, several Microsoft execs argued strenuously that Microsoft's intellectual property extended to whatever it chose to say should be on the desktop, and much else. A compare and contrast with the Apple case might therefore prove edifying. See here and here for a primer on the Windows Experience gambit. ®
John Lettice, 04 Mar 2003

Apple gears up to sell music online

Apple is to launch an online music service, perhaps as early as next month, sources cited by the LA Times have claimed. According to the sources, a new version of Apple's iTunes jukebox software will download tracks from the service which simplifies buying, almost certainlt using the 1-Click technology Apple has already licensed from Amazon. Eschewing the MP3 format, Apple's service will be based on Dolby's AAC (Advanced Audio Coding not Codec, as the LA Times report mistakenly states) in order to tie each track to a specific Mac and thus prevent unauthorised duplication. Users will be able to copy tracks to an iPod, suggesting that an update to the music player's software is in the works too. Apple's spin, relayed by the LA Times' over-enthusiastic and, we suspect, quasi-official deep throat, is that music executives are excited over how easy to use the new service is. The irony is that Apple has had such a move forced on it by an industry increasingly employing copy protection schemes, almost all of which support only PC playback. The major labels' online music sales sites are Windows only. If the majors won't bring music to the Mac, Apple has to, or risk its platform looking increasingly unattractive as a digital media hub. And at the same time, Apple builds for itself yet another revenue stream designed to exploit its user base, just as has with its .mac email service. Mac OS X is full of 'click here to buy' links that, as yet, Apple has not fully exploited. Indeed, the music industry lack of interest in the Mac community actually provides Apple with a potential monopoly over online music sales to Mac users. The LA Times source claims the service will be "competitive", but where else can most Mac punters get music online? Illegal file sharing remains a possibility, but copy-protected CDs and file-sharing poisoners may one day limit that option. ® Related Story "I poisoned P2P networks for the RIAA" - whistleblower Related Link LA Times story (registration required)
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 2003

SonyEricsson unveils T68i, T300 successors

SonyEricsson might be winning the plaudits for its pioneering P800 smartphone, but it still depends on its bread and butter range to bring in the revenue. Today it revealed the successors to the mainstays of its phone range. The T68i is replaced by the T610, which has an integrated camera, and which you can see here. It has a sleeker metal design and a larger 160x128 screen than its predecessor. The T300 is overhauled in the shape of the T310. For the former, it's long overdue. The T68 phone was the phone "that saved Ericsson", halting three calamitous years of declining market share during which time the venerable Swedish phone pioneer had apparently forgotten how to produce a popular, mass market phone. The T68 had color, Bluetooth, GPRS and themes. But that was back in the Fall of 2001, an eternity in the phone business. The aging T68i was essentially the T68 with a software update to support a detachable camera. Like its predecessor, it's a GSM worldphone. Unlike the smartphones, such as the P800 which run an open platform, there's no expansion. And rather ominously we note the presence of share-denial technology, aka "DRM". Is this a feature? I call it "a bug". The T300 and the new T310 are aggressively pitched at games players. Despite this, and the over-the-top, Flash-heavy appeal to the Yoof market, it's basically a fine, no frills phone. But see how far you can get into this Macromedia Flash presentation before throwing your existing handset at your computer. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Mar 2003