28th > May > 2003 Archive

Ballmer shoots for a billion in Microsoft share sale

Don't mind the $1.2 billion Steve Ballmer sold in Microsoft stock. He really is very committed to the software maker's future. Recent SEC filings show that Microsoft's CEO dumped 49 million shares between May 21 and May 23 to the tune of $1.19 billion. Twelve years have passed since Ballmer last sold off Microsoft stock, but the exec said it was time for some asset diversification. As Ballmer started to sell last week, Microsoft issued a statement to reassure investors and let them know everything in Redmond was okay. "Even though this is a personal financial matter, I want to be clear about this to avoid any confusion," Ballmer said in the statement. "I remain excited about the potential for our technology to change people's lives, and I remain as committed to Microsoft as ever." Just in case you were worried that Ballmer would not be able to clear another billion in a pinch, rest easy, he has 421,519,622 shares left. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 May 2003

Wi-Fi hotspots mean some burnt fingers

Wi-Fi hotspots are hot indeed, but they could end up being too hot to hold, for the network operators at least. Although companies are piling on board, the latest two to announce packaged wireless hotspots for sale being Toshiba and Evesham Micro, the business and revenue models still haven't come together. Now a report from US market research outfit Forward Concepts suggests that many hotspots will prove unprofitable. The report's author, Dr Daniel Sweeney, says there are "troubling deficits" in the hotspot market, and predicts that growth will stall next year as the industry reevaluates its plans. Part of the problem is that the business models currently on offer from the network operators, such as relatively expensive annual subscriptions with limited roaming capability, are not popular enough, claims Paul Munnery, a director of networking reseller Wireless CNP. "The hotspot business has moved away from contracted users in the last six months and is definitely moving towards the ad-hoc user," he says. "For example, I'm in a hotel and I want access now - where do I get it? "We're seeing a huge increase in the number of hotspots going into hotels, conference centres, restaurants and so on. I think the drive is moving away from network operators and towards site owners." This is the area Toshiba is targeting. Its £400 public wireless LAN hotspot needs an broadband connection - which is where Tosh's reseller channel comes in, says business development manager Gary Evans - and then connects into a BT Openzone-powered wireless ISP which takes care of authentication and support. All the site owner has to do is sell £5 scratchcards valid for 24 hours access at any Tosh hotspot. Having bought the scratchcards from Toshiba at a third off, the site could discount them or even give them away as an incentive to get you to use their coffee shop instead of someone else's, say. "People have been struggling to find a financially viable model - unless you have a high footfall site it's very difficult," says Evans. "Something that's managed and low cost makes it easier to have a go." It might also encourage site owners to fix some of the awareness issues. As many Wi-Fi users will know, the big problem is not finding a hotspot, but finding someone there who has the faintest idea what you're talking about when you ask how to buy a wireless Internet connection. Windows XP has relieved some of the connection difficulties, and multi-speed 802.11g/11b access points will make it less of an issue which network card you have - Paul Munnery says he expects 11g hotspots to replace 11b within six to nine months for exactly this reason. In any case, profitability depends on low infrastructure and billing costs, and that's where the site owners can score against the network operators. If anyone comes out of this smelling of roses, it might be the founders of hotspot network Megabeam who sold out to Swisscom Eurospot a couple of months ago. Just in time, it would seem. ® Related stories Operators falling short of ambitious Wi-Fi roll-out plans Free Wi-Fi punted to pubs and hotels Public Wi-Fi has look and feel of a dead duck
Bryan Betts, 28 May 2003

KaZaA is download king

Sharman Networks, the company behind the KaZaA file-swapping service, said its software has been downloaded a staggering 230.3 million times. In an announcement this week, the company said that the KaZaA Media Desktop has become the most downloaded software, with 230,309,616 downloads worldwide. This means that the company's freeware has overtaken the previous record-holder, ICQ, the predecessor to AOL's Instant Messenger, as well as other all-time favourites like WinZip. The company said that more than 20 million licences are acquired by KaZaA Media Desktop users per month and that after 16 months in business "Sharman Networks has shown that its business model is both sound and successful." "The entire Sharman Networks team thanks users worldwide for embracing KaZaA Media Desktop," said Sharman Networks CEO Nikki Hemming. "Our vision from inception was to develop and prove a model for the distribution of licensed content." "Congratulations go to the entire Sharman team for an outstanding accomplishment," added Hemming. "We will continue to innovate and deliver users the best possible experience, while expanding the choice of licensed content." Just how many people are using the software is somewhat difficult to determine, since many users have copies on both their home and work PCs, and others have downloaded copies more than once. But to put Sharman's figures into perspective, Microsoft's Windows 95 computer operating system sold just 40 million copies in its first year, making it the fastest-selling software ever. The company said that the news comes at a key period in the peer-to-peer industry's evolution, noting that in April 2003 a US District Court in California effectively ruled that file-sharing applications are legal. However, there is no sign that the battle between file swappers, those that facilitate file swapping, and the music industry, which accuses them of piracy, will end soon. The Recording Industry Association of America has had a few victories of its own in recent weeks, including a settlement with a number of students in the US who have agreed to pay more than $10,000 each for designing and running file-swapping services. The record labels also recently won a music piracy case against ISP Version Communications that sought to force the ISP to reveal the names of customers allegedly engaged in music theft. Dozens of other music piracy-related actions are currently underway throughout the world. Meanwhile, in Europe, a report last week from IDC said that legitimate music downloading over the Internet will grow into a €1.3 billion business in Europe by 2007, accounting for 13 per cent of all music sales. This news comes despite the apparent popularity of KaZaA outside of the US, where there are just 106 million households, less than half the number of copies of KaZaA that have been downloaded. According to IDC, the European digital music sector has been stymied by a lack of legitimate services, but problems will be shortly overcome and the sector will grow from being worth just €24 million in 2003 to €1.3 billion within the next four years. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 28 May 2003

Apple halts iTunes' Internet sharing ability

Apple has knocked on the head iTunes 4's ability to stream music over the Internet. The modification comes in iTunes 4.0.1, released yesterday and downloadable from Apple's Web site and via Mac OS X's Software Update system. iTunes' music sharing facility was launched alongside Apple's online Music Store as a sign of the service's user-friendliness. Touted as a way of allowing downloaded music to be played back on up to three locally networked Macs. However, canny users quickly uncovered the protocol Apple's software engineers had used to implement sharing and began publishing on the Web details of how to extend iTunes sharing to other computers via the Internet. Apple's motivation in blocking such activity undoubtedly lies in a desire to prevent piracy and keep its relationships with the major music companies sweet. We tried a number of iTunes-based sharing facilities but found no direct way to save streamed songs on our own hard disk - it isn't sharing in the Napster sense - but since there are undoubtedly hacks that allow you to do so - not to mention legitimate apps that can perform the function for you - Apple has a point. That said, with KaZaA now topping the download charts, Apple's efforts will undoubtedly do little to stem the tide of free music downloads on the Net, and almost certainly limit iTunes as a force for music promotion. The 30-second clips Apple offers are no substitute for hearing the full track before buying. Of course, if you can listen to the full track at will, why buy it at all? Such an attitude has clear implications for Apple's Music Service revenue stream, so Apple has another strong reason to turn off this particular tap. Alas, the genie's out of the bottle, and presumably relatively few existing users will switch to 4.0.1, specifically to continue streaming music across the Net. Apple may well have adjusted the online service to only operate with 4.0.1, thereby forcing users to upgrade, but with so many users outside the US - and thus unable to use the service - that will only bother North American iTunes users. ® Related Stories DRM-less MP3s from $3.99 Sugared water Apple censors Miles Davis Apple Music Store sells four songs every second Apple seeking coder to port iTunes to Windows Apple launches 99c a song music service
Tony Smith, 28 May 2003

Frankie Says… broadband should not be a fad

The UK Government is being warned not to regard broadband as some "fad" - wot, like Deely Boppers and "Frankie Says..." T-shirts? - and is being urged instead to take a longer-term view about the benefits of high-speed Net access. In particular, boffins at Brunel University reckon that "a cohesive, far-sighted strategy for bringing broadband into the classroom will help cement Britain's reputation as the hotbed of technology-enabled learning", but only if it remains "lively, practical and future-proof". Brunel Broadband Research Centre's (B3RC) input follows a report last month by the Government's Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) concerning the opportunities and barriers to the use of broadband in education. B3RC reckons that if broadband is exploited in the classroom it will help motivate pupils and improve the administration and running of schools. The boffins based their view about the future for education and broadband on what's happing in the Far East, where both South Korea and Hong Kong have used the widespread availability of broadband to help improve learning. For example, teachers in Korea are now more likely to post homework online than issue it in the classroom. And in Hong Kong, online portals are widely used as a forum for parents, teachers and pupils to discuss their progress. B3RC Operations Director, Dr Jyoti Choudrie, believes the UK mustn't fall into the trap of rushing to harness new technologies only to discard them as soon as the next big thing comes along. That's why a long-term strategy for broadband in education is essential. "We simply can't afford to regard broadband as simply another passing fad - our research in South Korea and, more recently in Hong Kong, underlines how broadband will transform education: not just for schoolchildren, but also for parents and teachers," he said. Last year Brunel University published a report that tried to explain why six out of every ten South Korean households has broadband, compared with just four per cent in the UK. Its findings found that population density, price, availability and the role of broadband in education all had an impact on the widespread adoption of high speed Net access. ® Related Stories Education faces broadband challenge S Korea broadband in league of its own
Tim Richardson, 28 May 2003

Seagate denies Taiwan hard drive recall claims

UpdateUpdate Seagate today damned as "inaccurate" a report that the company has begun taking dodgy 40GB and 80GB hard drives off Taiwanese distributors' shelves - a move alleged to be taking place by local channel sources. The report, published by DigiTimes yesterday, alleges that 12,000-15,000 defective drives, produced in mainland China, have been shipped to Taiwan with an unknown number shipping to other locations around the world. However, a Seagate spokesman said there was no substance to the claims. The manufacturer isn't recalling 40GB and 80GB hard drives - or any other for that matter. "It's ridiculous to claim that all the four major hard drive vendors have been hit by the same problem," he said. In fact, only three of the four - Seagate, Maxtor and Hitachi Global Storage - were alleged to have been hit. The fourth, Western Digital, was said to be unaffected by the problem since it doesn't manufacture drives on mainland China - its manufacturing facilities are located in Malaysia and Thailand. Actually, we're not sure Maxtor does either. The company is in the process of building a hard drive plant in Suzhou, but it's not expected to begin production until the second half of 2004. The company currently manufactures hard drives in Singapore. Hitachi told us it doesn't manufacture 80GB disk drives on the Chinese mainland. It does make 40GB drives there, but neither format is being recalled, the company said. And its resellers have not experienced soaring failure rates, it added. According to DigiTimes local distributors claim that hard drive return rates have soared since the end of April. "Most of the returned drives reportedly suffered from bad sectors or problems being formatted, and were found to have come from the same sources in China," said the report. Maxtor was unavailable for comment at press time. ®
Tony Smith, 28 May 2003

Retail consumer PDA sales drove 34.6% growth in April

April has proved a bumper month for PDA vendors selling into the UK, France and Germany, the latest data from European market researcher Context shows. Retail sales drove the rebound as consumers snapped up low-end devices from Palm Sony. No wonder Palm was able to announce yesterday that it has shipped over one million consumer-oriented Zire PDAs. PDA sales through retail channels in the UK, France and Germany rose 34.6 per cent in April, compared to the same month in 2002, Context said. Sales as a whole rose 12.7 per cent year-on-year during the month. Corporate sales fell seven per cent, while reseller sales fell 12 per cent. These figures should provide some encouragement for PDA vendors who have seen the UK, French and German markets mature over recent years. Indeed, while total European PDA shipments rose 13 per cent during Q1, together the UK, French and German markets shrank 2.8 per cent. April's numbers bring the first four months of the year up to 2002 levels. Handheld PC sales in France increased 20.8 per cent for the first four months of 2003 compared with a year ago. In Germany, sales were flat. In the UK, sales dropped 9.5 per cent. Over the same period, devices running the Palm operating system accounted for 63 per cent of units sold, up from 60 per cent a year ago. Pocket PC-based units accounted for 36 per cent of sales, up from 32 per cent a year ago. During April, Sony's sales in the UK, France and Germany nearly tripled, and the company saw its market share rise from 4.9 per cent in April 2002 to 13. 4 per cent. That growth put the company in third place behind market leader Palm and number two vendor HP. Palm's share rose from 35.1 per cent to 43.3 per cent. HP's fell from 36.7 per cent to 25.4 per cent. Other players captured just single-figure shares. Fujitsu-Siemens appeared from nowhere to take 3.2 per cent of the market. Toshiba took three per cent, up from 1.2 per cent. Handspring's share fell further, from 4.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent. Cellular network O2's XDA took 1.7 per cent of the market, up from 0.1 per cent the previous year. Packard Bell went from 0.1 per cent to 0.4 per cent, while Casio fell, its market share shrinking from one per cent to 0.1 per cent. Other vendors took 6.8 per cent of the market, down from 16.6 per cent in April 2002. ®
Tony Smith, 28 May 2003

The Number creates 300 jobs in Plymouth

Some 300 new jobs are to be created in Plymouth following the decision by directory enquiries (DQ) outfit, The Number 118 118, to open up a second centre to handle calls. The Number - part of the global DQ outfit InfoNXX - was enticed to the area with the help of a grant from the South West Regional Development Agency. The company has already started recruiting in Plymouth and expects to around 600 within the next year alongside 700 people at its centre in Cardiff. In a side-swipe at BT, which is creating 2200 DQ jobs in India, The Number's chief exec, Chris Moss, said: "By investing in Plymouth, it means all of our callers are handled from the UK with the best possible service." The UK's DQ service was opened up to competition in December 2002 giving punters the choice of phoning around ten different operators for help obtaining a phone number. BT's 192 DQ service will be switched off from August as part of deregulation. Out goes the familiar "192" number, which is replaced instead with new numbers beginning 118. ® Related Stories UK's 192 service opened up BT confirms India call centre move
Tim Richardson, 28 May 2003

Office XP – when is a price cut not a price cut?

When is a price cut not a price cut? Microsoft has garnered a certain amount of positive publicity thanks to yesterday's estimated 15 per cent cut on Office XP, and alongside this cut it announced it would be bundling some support services with its volume Software Assurance licensing scheme. Or should we perhaps call it the hated Software Assurance scheme? Noteworthy, but not noted specifically by Microsoft in its announcements, is the fact that it hasn't changed its volume pricing, has actually stated it has no plans to cut prices this year. So rewind a tad. Microsoft's new model licensing programmes have caused considerable pain and grumbling in business and government, to the extent that some organisations have even stopped mouthing off about open source and started genuinely looking at it. Microsoft has reacted with a slush fund (which won't work long term because if prices are too high, they're too high, and special discounts offered every upgrade round aren't special discounts, they're price cuts), but underneath the camouflage is hanging tough on the licensing. The support concessions for Software Assurance include some live tech support on server software, training vouchers and basic first level support. Not, you might observe, a hot deal - and the precise nature of what you get will "vary by licensing program." Wackily, MS group VP for sales, marketing and services Kevin Johnson claims to CRN that customers are saying that "the set of service and tools and training and enhancements... [are] far more valuable to them than reducing price." Which is an impressive and interesting perspective. Customers are not in pain over the cost of Microsoft volume licensing, they are happy paying up (Next: Microsoft customers demand more price hikes), and simply want support and training. One change that will have some value to businesses, however, is "home-use rights," allowing employees to legally install MS Office software for use at home. This is something that Microsoft used to allow, but pulled the plugs on some years back when it figured it would rather try to squeeze more money out of customers whose employees work at home. Presumably this has not worked, and few if any businesses have felt impelled to license extra copies of Microsoft software for their employees to use at home. The reintroduction of home rights is probably more significant in terms of legitimising a de facto situation than in giving businesses something for free, but you could see it as a kind of (temporary?) surrender. Microsoft, at least according to the price lists, has had a strangely optimistic view of what people are prepared to pay for Office in the home (e.g. the scheme that offers a whole 15 per cent discount on a king's ransom for an additional licence), but it surely can't have been killed in the rush of home users (or indeed small businesses) prepared to pay full retail for the software. Which casts a different light on yesterday's cuts. People who use Office at work will also use it at home, but not buy it, while home users will look at the (still vast) price tag on the full retail product and carry on using whatever came free with their computer anyway. Alternatively, they will take steps to qualify themselves for a deep educational discount, which is not hard, even for the educationally challenged, and which is barely policed. Doing a Register price check at Best Buy ($549.99 for Office XP Professional, since you ask) today we couldn't help noticing the student licence edition of Office XP Standard being pushed on the front page of the software section for $129.99. One of Best Buy's volume lines, one might hazard? The bottom line, if you think about it, is that at retail Microsoft has always, effectively, had lower prices; here, there is little if any market for the product's largely imaginary full price. In business, meanwhile, it won't lower prices because it doesn't think it needs to. This works because high prices at retail are unsustainable and can't be effectively policed in the home or in small businesses. Piracy and/or general licensing irregularities are not however something larger businesses can afford, and Microsoft has anti-piracy SWAT teams to remind them of this. They have no choice, therefore prices for them go up, not down. This is however, as we intimated earlier, an unsustainable model. People who pay because they have no choice, not because they're fairly happy and regard the price as fair, will progressively become sufficiently unhappy to begin to arrange choices for themselves. And Microsoft should perhaps note that a customer who thinks you're a bunch of vampires, but is offered a one-off special discount in order to stop him defecting, probably still thinks you're a bunch of vampires afterwards. Because actually, you are... ®
John Lettice, 28 May 2003

Sony unveils the PSX

The PlayStation 2 hardware is to be integrated into a new home media device from Sony's consumer electronics department, codenamed the PSX, as the Japanese giant struggles to extend the success of its games division to other operations. The new device will feature a TV tuner, hard disc drive and a DVD recorder alongside the games console functionality, making it into an "all in one" device for gaming, media recording and playback. Details of the device are a bit thin on the ground at the moment, but it's expected that it will offer hard disc video recorder functions, similar to the TiVo and Sky Plus systems, and will feature a high speed internet port to allow downloads of music and possibly movies through Sony's media distribution systems, in Japan at least. It's not clear whether "PSX" is going to be the final name of the product, or whether it's a development codename - either way it's a little bit odd, since PSX was the project name behind the original PlayStation development, and persisted as an acronym for the console throughout its lifespan. The announcement (which has been misinterpreted by some as a PlayStation 3 announcement, something it most definitely is not) is a clear signal of Sony's future hardware policy, which is likely to see PlayStation technology (and other forthcoming related technology from the Sony Computer Entertainment division, such as the Cell microprocessor) integrated into as much of the company's line-up as possible. At E3 this year Sony announced the PlayStation Portable (PSP), described by SCE boss Ken Kutaragi as the "walkman for the 21st century" - another extension of the powerful PlayStation brand and technology into a new area. In recent years, the profitability of the videogame division at Sony has far outstripped the performance of the rest of the consumer electronics division, and this strategy is clearly designed to inject that success into the ailing consumer products sector. It comes following the announcement of a major quarterly loss a month ago, Sony's largest in eight years, and dismal projections for operating profits in the current financial year. One serious question raised by the PSX (and to a lesser degree by the PSP) is what they mean for the development schedule of the PlayStation 3. Nobody seriously expected that console to appear before 2005 in the first place, but with a new multi-function version of the PS2 now set to debut later this year, and a handheld device arriving at the end of next year, questions must be asked over whether Sony really plans to do major games hardware launches three years in a row - particularly in light of rumours that mass-production of the Cell processor will not come online in time for a 2005 launch. © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 28 May 2003

Crucial offers own-brand USB Flash drive

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch USB Drive Memory specialist Crucial has launched Gizmo, the latest addition to the long list of USB-based Flash drives. Available in 64, 128 and 256MB flavours, each chewing gum pack-sized Gizmo comes with a three-foot USB extension cable, a wrist strap, lifetime guarantee and free shipping. Prices (including UK sales tax) are £27.01/$35.99 (64MB), £41.11/$54.99 (128MB) and £68.14/$89.99 (256MB), which is only fractionally more than the cost of a no-name brand and rather less than we've seen versions like Sony's Micro Vault sold for. Hard Disk Despite bringing mobile-oriented hard drive speeds up to 7200rpm, Hitachi continues to offer 4200rpm units. Today it introduced a new model, the 4K80, promising that the product offers the highest performance and the lowest noise in the 4200rpm mobile HDD category. When the 4K80 ships in volume in June, it will be available in one- and two-platter versions, with capacities of 30, 40, 60 and 80GB. Each unit is 9.5mm in height. They offer an average latency of 7.14ms and average seek time of 13ms. The drives support Ultra DMA mode 5 and ATA-6 for a 100MBps maximum data transfer rate. Mobo QDI has launched a line of motherboards based on Intel?s Pentium 4, 800MHz frontside bus chipset family, the 865. The family comprises three boards: the P4I865PEA, based on Intel?s 865PE, the P4I865GA (Intel 865G) and the P4I865PA (865P). The P4I865PEA is designed for high-end desktops and features support for dual-channel DDR 400 memory, AGP 8x, Serial ATA, eight USB 2.0 ports and 1394, six-channel AC97 sound, and gigabit Ethernet. The basic model costs around £75 plus VAT in the UK. ®
Tony Smith, 28 May 2003

ASA raps UK Internet Registry

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered domain sales outfit UK Internet Registry to stop sending out letters that look like invoices. The ASA's tough line followed a complaint that UK Internet Registry's direct mailing, which urged people to register the .com domain of their registered .co.uk domain, "misleadingly implied it was an invoice" that required payment. The phoney invoice wanted people to cough up £175 to secure the .com domain for two years. The ASA told the advertisers to "stop sending out the direct mailing until it had been amended so as not to appear it was an invoice for services provided by the advertisers". However, UK Internet Registry failed to respond to the ASA's investigation. A spokeswoman for the ASA said the matter was still under investigation. In February, Nominet UK - the national Registry for all domain names ending .uk - also raised serious concerns about UK Internet Registry's letters which "resemble invoices". At the time Nominet wanted to make it absolutely clear that it had nothing to do with UK Internet Registry Ltd. A spokeswoman for Nominet told The Register today that it is still receiving complaints from people claiming that the letters look like invoices. Nominet is also looking into the possibility of taking legal action against UK Internet Registry. ® Related Story Punters warned about UK Internet Registry Ltd
Tim Richardson, 28 May 2003

Network security tailored to Small.biz

The security demands that their larger supply chain partners place on small and medium businesses (SMBs) means that they will soon be burdened with organising and managing security for themselves to a greater extent and financial cost than they currently do. For some, outsourcing is the solution. For others, keeping it in-house makes more sense. For those who fall into the latter group, security appliance vendor Trustix could be an attractive option. Trustix's solutions are based on Trustix Secure Linux, delivered as a hardened system with all non-essential services disabled. The current version has features such as IPSec VPN functionality (FreeS/WAN) that supports a variety of other vendors' implementations, a stand-alone shell for system recovery (sash), a mail reader (mutt), and locate to make it easier to find files, particularly if archiving. Trustix Secure Linux is designed to perform a number of services, including firewall, mail server (including archiving and an anti-virus/spam option), proxy server, LAN server and Web server. While you could run all services on one box, the company rightly point out that the firewall should be run on a dedicated box, lest other services are compromised. By aiming at the SMB marketplace, Trustix has made big efforts to simplify software administration. It offers an automatic remote update using standard XML and HTTP protocols and the ability to create security policies by a click with the mouse, connecting entities (servers, services, VPN tunnels, port forwarding and more) with arrows representing actions by the firewall. Administration of digital certificates is also handled by the graphical user interface wizard. Even so, this could be a bit of a leery exercise for SMBs. Trustix's solution is part of IBM's Linux portfolio and delivered through IBM's channel partners. Intriguingly, SSL VPN is not supported. Given that the audience is SMBs it seems incongruous that the easiest means of implementing a VPN is not available in the Trustix offering. And the company seems to have no plans to include SSL VPN. Despite this omission, there is sufficient functionality in the Trustix offering for it to be gaining tenure as a player in IBM's SMB solutions strategy. An alternative to Trustix is Guardian Digital's Linux Lockbox, another Open Source network server appliance designed to serve as a complete secure Internet solution. Like Trustix Secure Linux, Lockbox offers secure Web management and is delivered in a way that requires little in-house Linux expertise, though it is light on the VPN and mail security side. Larger organisations might be drawn more to Red Hat's Enterprise Linux Stronghold Enterprise is that also targeted at the secure web server market. Stronghold Enterprise offers a rich set of features including support of multiple UNIX platforms such as Solaris, HP-UX, FreeBSD, and Tru64. It also supports OpenSSL used for information encryption and authentication of sites and clients with X509 digital certificates. It's positioning towards the enterprise level is confirmed by support for hardware-based cryptographic accelerator cards from nCipher, AEP, Baltimore, and Broadcom. So, why might you go the Linux route, especially as a SMB? Trustix are convinced that a large market is opening up for them where NT4 users are looking for cost-effective alternatives to a discontinued product. The company finds that they are selling on the strengths of the functionality of their server and secure mail gateway capabilities, and the firewall and higher security capabilities are a bonus. Overall, one can see a viable alternative to Microsoft's portfolio in the SMB security space. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 28 May 2003

Tiscali's debt collectors demand cash from ‘PC Plod’

Following yesterday's story Tiscali's debt collectors demand cash from 'PC Plod', Tiscali UK queried Greg Palmer's claim that he had never been a Tiscali punter. They did not, however, deny the fact that a letter demanding cash had been sent to "PC Plod". So we asked Mr Palmer to clarify. He told us: "I was talking last night to some of my friends and this Tiscali story came into the conversation. I was telling them about the story…and about the letter from the credit agency, when one of my friends piped up and said that my house mate had done it as a prank while he was living with me for a few months. I called him last night and he says that 'he didn't know there was an outstanding balance' so I will be sorting it out with him." Tiscali had this to say: "We were concerned to read the story yesterday on The Register of Greg Palmer of Peterborough who has received a debt collection letter from Tiscali and claimed that he had never had an account with us. This prompted an investigation and, from the published information, we were able to identify Mr Palmer as a customer who had signed up for an AnyTime package in November 2002. The account was actively used from November to March 2003 and we received two calls from Mr Palmer on 1st and 2nd December to reconfigure his dial-up. Monthly payments up to the end of March 2003 were received successfully from Mr Palmer but a collections letter was generated because of failed payments for April and May. We tried to call Mr Palmer yesterday on the contact number we had on record for him but were told it was the wrong number. We strongly recommend that Mr Palmer contact us to sort this out, because if this account has been set up without his knowledge - as he claims - this is a serious matter which we need to sort out with him directly because the service has been used and paid for. Contact details have been given to The Register for Mr Palmer's urgent use." ® Related Story Tiscali's debt collectors demand cash from 'PC Plod'
Tim Richardson, 28 May 2003

MS withdraws XP security update

Microsoft has withdrawn a security-related update for XP after conflicts between it and third party firewall products left some users unable to connect to the Net. The update, released last Friday (May 21), was designed to improve Microsoft's VPN client software for Windows 2000 and XP. However a software glitch meant that a proportion of the 600,000 people who'd applied the update were unable to get online. Oh dear. The root cause of the problem has been traced to conflicts between Microsoft's software and firewall software from Symantec, according to reports. Removing the update cures the problem. Yesterday Microsoft withdrew the update, pending a redesign. It was fortunate that the flaky software was a general update because it's likely that fewer people were affected by problems than might be the case with a patch. Last month Microsoft released a security patch which slowed systems to a crawl. Difficulty in applying patches and instances where fixes fail to work properly are perennial problems for Microsoft shops. We hope the latest problems cause Microsoft to flesh out its ideas on introducing external testing of security patches. This can't come a moment too soon. ® Related Stories MS security patch slows XP systems to a crawl IT managers trust Microsoft on security... MS mulls external testing for security patches
John Leyden, 28 May 2003

First Sony Ericsson T610s appear – and then disappear

Rotten news for eager geeks awaiting Sony Ericsson's super camera-phone, the T610, with Bluetooth. No, you can't even read a review of the thing; they're being recalled. It's not a problem, though, says S-E. According to Michael Oryl, editor of Mobile Burn, he's been unable to write his review, because the phone produces an irritating hissing sound in your ear. "It doesn't prevent you from using it," reports Oryl, "but it is noticeable." It will take three weeks to get a replacement, he says. Sony Ericsson says it has investigated this report, and denies there's an issue. "We are aware of a problem with some early models," said a publicity official, "but it was a very small glitch on a very short production run, and that problem has been eradicated. We certainly aren't recalling them; we're just replacing those models where users find the hiss excessive." The phone itself includes games, an email client, and the ability to use either GPRS data or even HSCSD services on GSM, but is being sold as a games/picture phone. According to the Mobile Burn story there is a report in a Swedish news source which corroborates this. It may well do, but it can't be easily judged - so just for fun, we submitted the Swedish text to an online translation service, which gave us the following information: Sony Ericsson : Ljudproblemen in T610 is now tgardade 2003-05-19 1225: Sony Ericsson had now located defects as did that their nay ring up T610 drug at a ljudproblem. We have tgardat they the flat as now manufacture in factories and all the flat as am delivering factory is was adjusting , says Pers Alksten p Sony Ericsson. They as already bought a T610 able ragged the was creating , but the mste send in p corrective maintenance. The calibration as requires make able personnel in shop nots make. Ring up able nots tgardas immediately in shop devoid mste send in to vra was authorising serviceverkstader for calibration , says Pers Alksten. The as claim compensation its ring up mste calculate on that it gets me television to three weekly entrance they ftt back the was creating. Data if how phones ska mend is now p ways out to serviceombuden , and also terforsaljarna ska inform if problem. A casual solution as Pers Alksten am labeling is that husband applies handsfree to ring up with handsfree murmur the namely nots in ring up. Wes am seeing the as exceedingly deplorable that vra clients had affect of this and we will givetvis impart vra clients a kvalitetsprodukt as they feels themselves content with. So now you know! ©
Guy Kewney, 28 May 2003

Survey: Do punters really want TV on their PC?

Market research organisation Jon Peddie Research is seeking real users' opinions about the convergence of PCs and TV - and is offering a heap of goodies from ATI, Nvidia and Pinnacle to tempt users to tell the company what they think. Interested readers can express their opinions by filling in JPR's online survey form here. The 75-question survey also takes in broader issues such as operating system and platform preferences, and home technology usage. Anyone concerned about their privacy should note that JPR promises that your individual and personal information will not be made public but will be used only in a summary report. Your name and contact information will not be sold or given to anyone outside of Jon Peddie Research. No salespeople or solicitors will contact you, regardless of whether you win any of the prizes or not. Prizes include ATI Radeon All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro cards, Nvidia Personal Cinema systems, Pinnacle PCTV and Studio Deluxe set-ups, and SnapStream Personal Video Stations. You choose which you'd like to receive if you're one of the winners picked at random from all the survey respondents. In the meantime, we'll bring you the results just as soon as JPR's analysts have crunched the numbers. ® Related Link Jon Peddie Research: PC TV survey
Tony Smith, 28 May 2003

Microsoft down and out in Munich

Linux zealots all over Munich have strapped on their lederhosen and knocked back a few liters of beer after the open source operating system beat out Microsoft's Windows for a major city contract. Munich will dump 14,000 PCs running Windows and install Linux instead in what is one of the biggest moves away from Redmond to date. The importance of the deal prompted Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to make a last minute pitch and reportedly to undercut an offer from IBM and SuSE. Ballmer's efforts failed. The umpah band will play first in Lower Saxony where 11,000 police computers will change OSes next year. More computers will undergo "the change" in due course. It's no surprise that Ballmer would be called in to defend Microsoft's turf in Deutschland. Despite heavy discounts when competing against Linux, Microsoft Germany has given up significant ground to open source software. Both the federal and state governments in Germany have taken a close look at replacing propietary software with open code. The Federal Ministry of the Interior last year signed a deal with IBM to use Linux computers. The city of Schwabisch Hall in December also decided to repurpose a few hundred Microsoft PCs with Linux. Media outlets have estimated that Microsoft bid close to $32 million for Munich's business, beating out IBM and SuSE's offer by a few million. Despite the lower offer and Ballmer's rhetoric, Munich Mayor Christian Ude rebuffed Microsoft. "Mit diesem richtungsweisenden Grundsatzbeschluss sichert sich München nicht nur als erste deutsche Großstadt eine größere Herstellerunabhängigkeit ihrer IT-Infrastruktur, sondern setzt auch ein klares Zeichen für mehr Wettbewerb im Software-Markt," Ude said in a statement. Roughly translated, this means Ude has championed the use of Linux as a way to cut back on Munich's dependence on a single IT vendor and a way to spur competition. Bavarians have a way with words. ® Related Stories Linux heats up the enterprise apps space Ballmer on Linux MS 'slush' fund provides big discounts to stop Linux - email
Ashlee Vance, 28 May 2003

Red Hat, Linux, consumers, money – do they mix?

Earlier this year Red Hat split its range into two segments - effectively, business and everything else. It did this in the wrong order, as The Register remarked at the time, but subsequently the company has padded out its Enterprise range to consist of Advanced Server, Enterprise Server and Workstation, so here at least it has a complete set. But what's going on with 'everything else,' the product line Red Hat terms 'consumer'? After speaking to Red Hat marketing VP Mark de Visser last week The Register left with the strong impression that the answer in the short term was not a lot, or more of the same, while the real upheaval will take place in the longer term, and probably doesn't yet have anything you'd call a serious blueprint. Our parting impression, incidentally, should not necessarily be viewed as criticism; Red Hat, in common with the other major distributions, is still trying to figure out how you make money starting from free, and the bottom line is that the enterprise line shows prospects of making money while the consumer one as currently constituted does not. When talking to us de Visser stressed that he wasn't there to make product announcements, but he was prepared to talk about the company's views and aspirations in sufficient depth for us to make inferences. So note that what follows is largely Register inferences, not a Red Hat roadmap. Recent history provides a jumping-off point for where Red Hat consumer is going. In (vaguely approximate) tandem with the enterprise/consumer split, Red Hat segmented its Red Hat Network online update service between paid-for and 'demo' (i.e. not paid for). Paying subscribers are intended to get priority on bandwidth during heavy load periods, while the demo ones have to fill in a Red Hat survey at regular intervals in order to keep their demo account active. Funnily enough, talking to de Visser prompted The Reg to try to tidy up its demo account Red Hat 8.0 installation, but attempts several times a day since Tuesday of last week (twice on Sunday - Sunday, for god's sake) have been spurned with a network congestion notice and suggestion we pay up. This is a radical change from our previous experience, but our inference as to why this might be the case differs a tad from the obvious. Red Hat has decided to beat everybody with a stick until they cough up for a sub? There's maybe an element of that, but consider the likelihood that the end result of such an exercise would not be profitability for the consumer line. The people who use Red Hat demo accounts largely got the software for free (perfectly legal, goes with the Linux territory, but not obviously profitable for the distributor) and if using Red Hat software for free gets too painful they'll just go somewhere else, they won't pay. Plus, they'll heap ordure on Red Hat as they leave, meaning that the 'beat with a stick' approach gets you no profitability, the mass defection of enthusiasts and a squalid reputation. So try a slightly different inference. Red Hat currently has one line that looks like it might make some financial sense, and another (which more or less consists of its whole previous Linux business model) that doesn't. Note it's not the case that the free stuff doesn't make money while the paid-for consumer stuff does - really, none of it does. Red Hat makes some sales at retail, but surely not a profit. Distribution costs take a bite out of the revenue, as does the cost of the Red Hat Network sub. Plus, the traditional open source 'twice a year' update must screw up the logistics of packaged software at retail, so while from an accounting point of view you can split consumer into people who've paid a bit and people who haven't, from a strategic planning perspective you're better off just viewing it as one big, unprofitable pile. In the case of the enterprise range the customer's perceptions and expectations differ, and it's feasible to segment support systems in such a way as to make sure you get paid for them. But the Red Hat Network is just a big pile of expensive pain, and the more users you get, the more it hurts. Mark de Visser did not tell us Red Hat is therefore putting the squeeze on it, and not having been squeezed at that point we didn't ask, but he was open enough about the expense, and roughed out a few ideas the company has for dealing with it. These seem to centre on an attempt to offload/distribute the bandwidth usage. With its most recent OS update, he says, Red Hat tried to decentralise distribution, so in exchange for access you undertake to do some distribution yourself, and thus a tree structure that spreads the load and cost emerges. This seemed to work, Red Hat seems to like it, wants to do it some more. It's possible The Register's update problems over the past weeks have been caused by happy bean counters consequently throttling the bandwidth, but we wouldn't jump to that conclusion. We would however presume that an effective throttling over the longer term is an inevitable consequence of Red Hat easing itself out of direct distribution. Other ideas relate to this. For example, the company is currently planning a pilot, in Italy, of a subscriber magazine that would include updates on CD, and also Red Hat compatible software. Magazines being where The Reg lived for many years, this strikes us as a plausible, quite possibly profitable, distribution channel for free software. And what was that about Red Hat compatible software? The Reg suggested to de Visser that the inclusion of a question on the subject of third party software in a recent demo account survey was significant. He responded that as the questions were largely what might pop into the head of whoever knocked the survey together, one should perhaps not read too much into them. But we got talking about third party distribution and marketplace ideas, and it does seem clear that this one has a leg or two. We infer again, as so often. A subscription software marketplace such as Lindows.com's Click N Run is, we reckon, an idea that could work, but Lindows almost certainly doesn't have the weight and reputation to pull it off. A major distributor however would stand a far better chance of attracting third party software in sufficient volume to attract users who, for a little bit of money could get easy access to apps they knew would install easily and run on their distribution. It could be run out of the subscriptions, it could be subsidised by app vendors giving the host a percentage of the revenue, or it could be a mixture. It's not, you'll note, exactly a getting out of distribution strategy, but it's a route for supporting the cost of distribution, and open source needs, as it matures, marketplaces. Tellingly, de Visser doesn't see retail - as in boxes on shelves - as being somewhere Red Hat is going to be in the future, so building paid-for electronic distribution channels becomes vital for the company. But to distribute what? tricky one, that. While there's a clear market for Linux servers in business, and at least the prospect of a market for 'business workstation' products, the state of consumer Linux is somewhat murkier and - oops - haven't you just tagged the whole of your previous operations 'consumer'? Actually no, we didn't ask him that one directly, but you take our point. Doing what Red Hat used to do with consumer doesn't work from the company's point of view, and doing what it's doing now doesn't work in the sense that you look at it and think, 'ah yes, a solution. It's about controlling and maybe starting to cover costs, but there's nothing there that says to you overthrow Redmond, exponential sales growth, buckets of money all round. Nor, is there any likelihood that either Red Hat or one of the other distributions will come up with such a plan in the short term. It'll be a couple more years before a serious push for consumer is viable, says de Visser, so really you'd reckon it's a case of Red Hat et al waiting, and hoping in the interim Microsoft will lose the war, rather than any of them betting the company on actively winning it. Nothing wrong with that, and here we'll infer for the last time today. Red Hat and SuSE in particular are unlikely to make serious plays for market sectors unless they can see how to make money out of them. Again, nothing wrong with that, but in execution such approaches grind up against the whole ethos of open source, and result in the perpetrator being accused of being 'just like Microsoft.' It seems to us that this tension cannot be resolved under one roof - the more a distribution concentrates on the bottom line, the more its free roots look like an unsatisfactory fig leaf, and the more the hard liners turn to the refusenik class of distribution. So, what if the operations who (optimism mode on) are at least going to make money accept this, view their free operations into charitable activities and concentrate on commercial software? By making money they'll be better positioned to fund development, and as that development (so long as they don't cheat) goes back into the central pot, open source as a whole benefits. To an extent, this is what they're doing already, but an overt acceptance of 'we sell stuff, and that's cool, they do free stuff, we live together, that's cool too' would maybe help them move forward without too many people shouting 'Microsoft!' at them. On which subject, we took de Visser to task for the clause in the Advanced Server licence agreement where Red Hat reserves the right to audit you. Sound like anybody you've heard of, we asked? The problem it's intended to deal with is clear, its effectiveness in dealing with it considerably less so, and the collateral damage it could cause to the company's image is substantial. Red Hat has some major customers for Advanced Server who run rather more machines than they've actually licensed, and if one of them breaks - well, good heavens - it always turns out to be one of the ones that is licensed. One such customer springs to de Visser's mind (we didn't ask for names), but although Red Hat has given itself the legal right to conduct a BSA-style dawn raid, even though it's quite convinced this customer is in breach of the licence, it hasn't done so. So far, Red Hat hasn't audited anybody; in the case of this particular customer it just pulls the licence for the offending machine, and then the customer comes back with a new 'broken' one instead. Doesn't work, does it? We suspect this particular clause in the licence won't get many - if any - outings, and as it's obviously (in our opinion) a step too far, what's it doing there? Considering the collateral damage, lame noises about the lawyers wanting it and covering yourself don't really cut it. But here's a funny thing about turning into Microsoft. If you actually make money out of selling software, then it's quite possibly difficult not to turn into Microsoft. If you're giving it away and not making money, then you don't need to be suspicious of your customers, but if you do make money, then you need to keep a lid on the pilfering. But, if you're not going to take the audit, total control-freak route - how? ®
John Lettice, 28 May 2003

Vulture Capitalist ISP still providing service

Dear VCISP Punters, As you are all probably aware, our Virtual ISP provider, Affinity Internet, recently went tits-up (see Affinity Internet Holdings calls in adminstrators). We are currently in negotiations with service providers to ensure that the service to existing punters is maintained. During these negotiations - and contrary to some rumours - the service for existing customers should be unaffected. We'll keep you posted as more details emerge. If anyone has a problem with their service right now, email me and I'll be happy to help. My details are below. Cheers, Philip Mitchell, Marketing Director, The Register Email: philip.mitchell@theregister.co.uk
Team Register, 28 May 2003
Cat 5 cable

Cisco looks for WLAN boost

Two successive quarters of flat sales of wireless LAN kit in the enterprise market have prompted Cisco Systems to look to the consumer and small office market for growth in the immediate future. Misplaced security concerns and fears about confusion about standards have left enterprise sales flat while consumer sales are going gangbusters, according to Cisco. The company recently bought consumer networking specialist Linksys. Speaking at a London press briefing today, Martin Cook, a solution consultant at Cisco who specialises in Wi-Fi technology, predicted that corporate growth will begin again - once standards were sorted and the enterprise market was educated on the benefits of further Wi-Fi investment. Cisco forecasts 30 per cent growth in Wi-Fi sales for its financial year beginning July 2003. "The enterprise LAN market has plateaued but we expect it to take off again," Cook said. "Confusion about standards, potential security issues - which are resolved by the WPA security architecture - and the lack of management tools for large scale wireless LAN have held back growth in the enterprise." Impotent Cook's colleague Cisco consultant Paul King admitted that vendors collectively failed to get things right with WEP (the flawed first-generation Wi-Fi encryption protocol. But the market should move on from endless discussion of war driving, he argued. According to King, the recent introduction of WPA leaves cracking tools such as Netstumbler and Airsnort impotent. "I'm not saying WPA can't be attacked but we haven't seen any tools to do it," King commented. "WPA has taken security to a new level." Rogue access points - set up by employees without approval or any security - are now the real security risk, not the admitted weakness of WEP, he says. Nice Device Cisco recently introduced a wireless IP phone (the Cisco 7920) that introduces proprietary QoS features to allow voice calls over 802.11b networks. But the company continues to fashion its mobile strategy around laptops as the main access device to wireless networks. Cook notes that you don't have to change the application environment with wireless-enabled laptops - unlike PDAs, which have limited resources. He described the 7920 as a "nice device", which came across as damning with faint praise. Cook described Intel as Cisco's "largest partner" in the WLAN market and sang the praise of Centrino, Intel's recently launched wireless-enabled mobile CPU. Cisco is planning a major wireless LAN technology launch in early June. Details are under wraps but there were hints this morning that the launch will cover improving the manageability of wireless LANs. Unlike WLAN switch appliance vendors such as Bluesocket, Cisco is against centralising the intelligence in wireless LAN networks. "We believe in intelligence in the access point, managed and controlled from deeper in the network," Cook said. ®
John Leyden, 28 May 2003

Exclusive: HP's printer team in espionage drama

Hewlett-Packard's top secret printer labs are under attack from an audacious rival using the art of deception to gather confidential information. A group of engineers working on HP's next-generation network laser printer have come under siege from a competitor, The Register has learned. Employees have received calls at work and at home from faux members of the HP team, asking for details on a new 9500 series printer code-named Nozomi. HP has fingered the culprit, we are told, although the company's identity cannot be released at this time. The calls started to come into HP's Boise, Idaho labs close to one month ago. The spies would pretend to be supervisors from another part of HP. They would grill engineers about toner cartridges and Nozomi's design. Some workers were also called at home with the spy pretending to take a survey about technology and, yes, toner cartridges. "They know the projects people are working on and where they live," a source said. "They pretend to be someone from another office and ask various questions. They're very smooth in their delivery." An HP spokeswoman declined to comment for this story. HP suspects that a competitor has backed the espionage campaign with close to $1 million in funding. An HP executive flew to Boise to instruct employees on what to do when the enemy (or the press) calls. Placards with directions have been placed throughout the well-guarded labs. HP has a number of fierce competitors in the printer space, including Lexmark, Canon, Epson. and new rival Dell. Corporate espionage is a somewhat common practice in the IT industry. Oracle admitted to keeping an eye on Microsoft by hiring a lobby group, IGI, to buy garbage from pro-Microsoft lobbyists. One of HP's competitors appears to have taken a similar course. HP dominates the printer market and makes a killing in the process, so it stands to reason that rivals want to be in the know. In its last quarter, HP's printing and imaging business generated $918 million in profits. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 May 2003

Novell torpedoes SCO's Unix IP claim

In the latest installment of "The Canopy Family" - a drama to rival the The Magnificent Ambersons - Novell has rebuffed SCO's claim to hold Unix copyrights and patents. SCO recently filed a billion dollar suit against IBM, claiming that Big Blue had violated SCO's intellectual property by incorporating elements of UnixWare into Linux. It's a contract dispute, but SCO's case is holed below the waterline if Novell's claims are true, and SCO's bag of "intellectual property" is found to be empty. In a prepared statement , Novell doesn't pull its punches. "Novell challenged SCO's assertion that it owns the copyrights and patents to UNIX System V, pointing out that the asset purchase agreement entered into between Novell and SCO in 1995 did not transfer these rights to SCO." Novell also discloses that SCO has been begging Novell for the rights to IP that SCO claims it already has: "Over the last few months you have repeatedly asked Novell to transfer the copyrights to SCO, requests that Novell has rejected." And that, in British tabloid parlance, is a bombshell. "Apparently SCO's management team knew that they did not own Unix while pursuing their sham campaign against Linux," observes Bruce Perens. The dispute has the character of a family affair, which perhaps goes some way to explaining SCO's dysfunctional behavior. Former Novell chief Ray Noorda founded Canopy Group in 1995, and one of his first investments was Caldera, a company founded by Novell employees and Linux enthusiasts. Caldera acquired the Santa Cruz Operation two years ago. ® Related Stories MS blesses SCO, licenses Unix SCO invokes RIAA in Linux jihad SCO sues IBM for $1 billion for 'devaluing Unix' SCO pulps Caldera-MS trial archives
Andrew Orlowski, 28 May 2003

End the tyranny of bomb-happy RIAA

LettersLetters Re: RIAA attacking our culture, the American Mind The RIAA's continuing war on the USA's culture and heritage - and in particular its latest efforts to bomb our computers - provoked these brave and true words from a former combat Marine. Subject: Semper Fi Hello Andrew : It is very upsetting indeed . I thought the Broadcast-Flag law talk was very excessive just by itself . You knowAndrew it has occurred to me something is very wrong here with all of this talk . How is it that just 560 men and a few other company owners can force a law upon millions of others that don't want it. Have we forgotten that the power is in and with the people . It takes millions of voters to put one man in office THAT THEYCHOSE . It is odd to me that RIAA EMPLOYEES can go to one US REPRESENTATIVE and the both of them can decide and force millions of others and command an entire legal regime against its people. You know .... by way of "emanate domain" a local government can take your property against your will for the greater good of the community. It is by the will of the community as a whole that forces the owner to submit .... they gang up on him .... lol .... but true .... and they force him/her off the land ..... if necessary by arrest and what ever means necessary to accomplish that. It is the American way to put things to a vote I feel that Congress as a whole have done a very poor job of representing the American people on many occasions as they are swayed by reelection money , very small interest groups with lots and lots of money. Sense the American public agreed to allow our military to go kill thousands of Iraqi's to give those people a choice then it seems fit to me WE OURSELVES should have a voice in our own affairs . . .. ... What do ya think ???? Certainly no law could stand that the majority of the American people do not want ...... and if the government refuses to give us ( the majority ) what we want then we have a governmental tyranny What we need is a national coalition of signers demanding the present THINKING and law to be permanently changed forever according to our WILL now at present ..... in fifty years it may change .... who knows .... but it is what I think we want now ...... and the US CONSTITUTION guarantees us the right to change if we want . The power is vested in the American people .... not the congress .... not the president ..... but in the majority of the Mass Will of the People. So we need to have fair-use and file sharing declared acceptable American culture and not criminal as some are trying to make it be. If the American people are not allowed to have a refurrendum or vote .... If the American people are not allowed to decide this at large then we do not have a government by the people and for the people. It is just plain and simple as that ...... our US CONSTITUTION is not worth anything. Wayne Fuller ( Semper Fi ) Yes ..... I am a disabled combat Marine ....... I lost my leg and use of the other and other wounds .... i paid a dear price to be able to talk to you about this issue as i have . If only our lawyers had such vision, Wayne. Does the RIAA seriously believe that the ONLY use for the MP3 format is to pirate music? I reach this conclusion by the statement "deletes all the MP3s it can find on your computer so you have to buy the music again in DRM'd form" OK...how does it handle these scenarios: the voicemail on my home PC records any messages I receive in MP3 format. I'm an amateur musician, and I record all my music on my PC, in MP3 format. My favorite games have built in radio stations, that are stored on my drive in MP3 format. I'm a regular at mp3.com, where I can download free music from unpublished artists, in MP3 format. My business uses a bespoke software program (let's call it ManagePeople 3.0) to hold details of all my staff and customers. The data files use the .mp3 extension. On another angle: My illegally downloaded MP3's are actually stored on a dedicated fileserver, which is a headless machine sitting in my loft, and all access to this machine is over the local network. Having passed through my firewall and gained access to my main PC, do they now have the right to compromise my network to find and destroy these files? If the RIAA seriously think that they can just delete files indiscriminately on systems which are outside their control with absolutely no proof that they are illegal, and not face legal repercussions, they must be mistaken. Surely even the USA isn't that much of a slave to corporate demands? Tim Boswell Apparently so, Tim. Is it possible that Hilary Rosen could find herself on the cover of Time as terrorist of the year? George P. Nelson Kitty Hawk, NC If a normal human being - such as myself, for example - were to plant a "bomb" of this kind in a third parties computer without their consent, or without their knowledge (both of which would be requisite for the bomb to work otherwise I could just disable it) that "bomb" would be very swiftly recognised as a virus. I would incur almost immediate "virus writer" status and become a criminal and fugitive from justice. Being a sysadmin who is responsible for a number of mail systems in small businesses I would be among the first to be rather peeved if a virus like that were allowed through the system - however it got there - whether by downloading a file from the internet, or by receipt of an email or simple by the (rather old fashioned, I know) expedient of inserting an infected floppy. So perhaps, this "bomb" idea may rather unexpectedly explode in the RIAA's own hands. Because, deleting a file means its not there - and if it was a LEGAL (fair use) copy of a self owned CD, then that's theft of time (the time taken to recopy the legal copy onto your hard drive) and destruction of property. Perhaps someone will be able to tie them up with some form of legal battle. And if a company loses computer time because legal (fair use) mp3's exist on a company employees computer ... you get the picture. And the nice thing is, we don't have far to look for the virus writers, unlike the rather more slippery klez and nimda writers of the underground. Hell, they're already admitting it openly. Josef Moffett ®
Andrew Orlowski, 28 May 2003