30th > May > 2003 Archive

Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape

A lawsuit intended to bring justice to Netscape has ended with a deal that sounds the death knell for the browser. Microsoft today agreed to settle a private antitrust suit brought by AOL Time Warner, paying the latter $750 million. The case was brought "to restore competition lost in the operating system market and in the Web browser market because of Microsoft's illegal conduct." But amongst the many bonuses for Redmond in the settlement, AOL committed to renewing its royalty-free license to incorporate Internet Explorer into its own software for seven years. Asked if this meant that AOL's Netscape division would be spun-off, AOL CEO Richard Parsons replied: "Not at this point," following up later with "Not at this time." Hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the open source browser. AOL is the main sponsor, and the largest commercial client of the Mozilla project. The Netscape division employs between "two and three hundred" staff in Silicon Valley, a far cry from 1998 when AOL acquired the company in a stock swap worth $4.2 billion. Several hundred Netscape staff were transferred to Sun Microsystems - matchmaker for the deal - two years ago. Then again, earlier this week Steve Case raised the idea of selling off the AOL Internet business altogether, returning Time Warner closer to its roots as an 'old' media company. AOL has also agreed to license Microsoft's media player and DRM technology in what Bill Gates described as "the most comprehensive media license we've done." Much of the detail will remain confidential, although from the excerpts released it's clear that this will be non-exclusive and non-binding. The two sides also agreed to "explore" interoperability between their IM clients. Internet Explorer is a surprising winner in the settlement. Neglected by Microsoft for several years, the browser was recently described here as looking "more tired than a shemale street walker in San Francisco's Tenderloin on a Saturday night". In comparison with more modern browsers such as Opera, noted Ashlee Vance, "it's just a rectangle". With or without AOL's patronage, Mozilla-based projects will continue to flourish. But the new owner of the once iconic brand will have to decide whether continued investment in packaging the source as the Netscape Browser justifies the expense. ® Related Stories AOL/Netscape sues MS Opera: your mother should know
Andrew Orlowski, 30 May 2003

Court confirms DMCA ‘good faith’ web site shut down rights

A U.S. court has extended the power of the DMCA even further with a ruling this week that backs up copyright holders' ability to shut down a Web site on "good faith." InternetMovies.com had asked the District Court for the District of Hawaii to require that copyright holders investigate infringing Web sites before shutting them down. This rational request was rejected by the court, as its granted the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and any other DMCA zealot the right to put the clamp on Web sites at will. "This decision rules that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) does not require a copyright holder to conduct an investigation to establish actual infringement prior to sending notice to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) requiring them to shut-down an allegedly infringing web site, or stopping service all together to an alleged violator," InternetMovies.com said in a statement. In the land of the DMCA, a "good faith belief" of infringement makes it possible to hijack a Web site without investigation. This decision seems to have thrown a large chunk of the Internet into a virtual Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. military describes its Cuban compound as the least worst place, which is an apt take on where Internet users appear to be. InternetMovies.com claims to have provided little else other than movie trailers to upcoming flicks. Some would characterize this as a service for the movie industry, but the MPAA saw things in a different light. After issuing several cease and desist orders, the MPAA shut down InternetMovies.com in 2001. The movie site then fought back by filing a lawsuit against the MPAA last year, claiming it did not provide copyrighted content to users at all. Despite the recent setback, InternetMovies.com plans to continue the legal battle with the MPAA by filing an appeal with U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit here in San Francisco. The company hopes to cut off a path for various DMCA zealots trying to shut the Internet down. "This has serious implications to university campuses as many students and faculty use the school as ISPs and any copyright holder can seek to lawfully shut down whole university networks or obtain individual identity without an investigation under the protection of the DMCA," InternetMovies.com said in the statement. This recent decision builds on a disturbing trend where no Internet user is safe from copyright holders' prying eyes. For example, four Ohio State University students had their computers seized in a raid earlier this month and have yet to be charged with a crime. They've been banned from using the Internet at school and still have not received their kit back. It's dangerous out there on the Web these days. Please, dear readers, surf with caution. ®
Ashlee Vance, 30 May 2003

California Supremes hear DeCSS case

California's Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in a case that pits the motion picture industry against a man who distributed a DVD descrambling program through his website, until he was forced by a court order to remove it. Andrew Bunner, now 26, was one of hundreds of people who mirrored a copy of the open-source DeCSS program on the Web in 1999, after learning about the controversy surrounding the program on the "news for nerds" community site Slashdot. Shortly thereafter he was named in an injunction ordering him to take down the program, as part of broadly targeted lawsuit filed by the DVD Copy Control Association -- a motion picture industry group -- under a 1979 state law designed to protect trade secrets. DeCSS was written by Norwegian teenager Jon Johansen, in part based on information Johansen reverse-engineered from a commercial DVD-playing program that included a click-wrap license agreement that barred reverse engineering. Bunner, with the support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the First Amendment Project, appealed, and an appeals court overturned the injunction in 2000, ruling that the order violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The DVD-CCA then appealed to the state Supreme Court. In a packed courtroom Thursday, the argument focused mostly on whether a computer program should be considered "pure speech" afforded the full protection of the First Amendment, or a mixture of expression and functionality protected by a lower standard. Robert Sugarman, a lawyer for DVD-CCA, argued the latter view. He said the appellate court erred by treating DeCSS as pure speech, because code is designed to be functional -- to be executed on a computer -- and "not to communicate ideas [or] to comment on something of public concern." California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, appearing as a friend of the court, also sided with the industry, describing DeCSS as a "burglary tool" built for "entering and stealing the property" of the movie studios. Lockyer warned the court in stark terms that California's motion picture, music and technology industries would all suffer grave financial losses if trial courts had to treat computer code as speech when considering legal bids to suppress a program. Bunner: A Matter of Principle David Greene, from the non-profit First Amendment Project, represented Bunner. He argued that a computer program is no different from music lyrics or a novel -- it's just written in a different language, designed to be interpretable by machine. "This is pure speech because... it is purely the transmission of information via a language," said Greene. Several Justices on the seven-judge panel asked how the case was affected by New York federal judge Lewis Kaplan's 2000 decision against publisher Eric Corley. Corely was forced to permanently remove a copy of DeCSS from his website after Kaplan ruled the program was not pure speech. "Computer code is not purely expressive any more than the assassination of a political figure is purely a political statement," wrote Kaplan at the time. But the New York case was decided under the DMCA, a federal law that makes it illegal to distribute tools that circumvent copy protection schemes. In contrast, the California injunction was explicitly aimed at protecting alleged trade secrets that had been incorporated into DeCSS; by definition, it targets the information conveyed by the program's code, irrespective of what the program is used for, said Greene. "This injunction has nothing to do with function," Greene said. "It has to do only with the information component." Greene also argued that it was unclear that DeCSS included improperly-obtained information to begin with, since it was written in Norway, where the enforceability of click-wrap agreements is a murkier matter than in the U.S. Sugarman argued that the DeCSS did use protected trade secrets, and that Bunner knew it, and knew he would enjoined for mirroring it. "There's no question that the Slashdot website made it clear that this would occur," said Sugarman. With more than three years passed since the DVD-CCA's injunction was first granted, DeCSS is now widely available online. But in an impromptu press conference following the hearing, Bunner said he's continuing to fight the case on principle. "This thing is pure speech," Bunner said. "People have written haikus that capture the algorithm for decrypting DVDs. If that's not speech, I don't know what is." A decision from the court is expected within 90 days. © SecurityFocus.com
Kevin Poulsen, 30 May 2003

Intel touts ‘real servers’ for Small.biz

Intel is setting up a channel programme to help system builders sell Xeon-powered servers more successfully to small and medium-sized businesses. The "real server" campaign will run worldwide with special attention paid to the big emerging markets - China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico are named. Intel says the initiative will "better educate small- and medium-sized businesses on how to select the right server system to meet their computing needs". The company is touting a Xeon platform, along with "high-bandwidth connections, high-capacity storage, redundant components and a server operating system with multi-user applications". This type of rig will lower operating costs, improve performance, and allow room to grow, Intel claims. Here's the rationale for the "real server" campaign from Willy Agatstein, general manager of Intel’s Reseller Products Group. "Research shows only a minority of small businesses, especially in emerging markets, have the necessary server systems to operate efficiently. Many others are making do with desktop computers that were designed as single-user PCs, or outmoded proprietary systems. Our goal is to provide training and resources to the system builders who serve these customers so that more small businesses can manage their computing infrastructure efficiently." Intel is offering training, marketing support and discounts for system builders who join the programme. More info here. ®
Drew Cullen, 30 May 2003

mmO2 launches Active mobile Net offering

European cellular network provider mmO2 today launched Active, a mobile Internet offering. With Active, mmO2 is bidding to compete with market leader Vodafone, which launched its own mobile Net service, Live, late last year and has already attracted over one million users. Active also represents the telco's pitch to sell more feature-rich, colour handsets and drive up data service revenue. mmO2 will bundle Active as standard on all handsets next month. For now, over 350,000 O2 customers can use the service. Active integrates a number of offerings mmO2 has already offered across its O2 network, including games, and also provides customers with downloadable ringtones and video footage, plus multimedia messaging and chat. Some components are free, others must be paid for through a subscription package. Going forward, the loss-making mmO2 hopes Active will provide a platform for third-party services and products. Having written down its investment in 3G licences, mmO2 has effectively said it believes the multimedia and other non-voice services that cellphone users want can be delivered by today's technology. mmO2 lost £10.2 billion last year - largely through asset writedowns - and will be looking to Active to form a platform for new, hi-tech revenue streams it can deliver as cheaply as possible. Indeed: "O2 Active is critical as we head towards our target of 25 per cent of service revenues from data by end 2004," said mmO2's chief marketing and data officer, Kent Thexton, in a statement. Accessing the icon-based Active service is billed just like a WAP browsing call, the price of which depends on the customer's O2 access package. Some downloads will be free, others will require a subscription payment. Ditto Active's information offerings, such as news and entertainment. To encourage users to try the service, mmO2 said customers will automatically find a bookmark to Active next time they visit an existing O2 WAP bookmark. It also said it will work with handset makers to add O2 Active buttons to phones, and named Samsung as one of those it is partnering with. That said, the company will be initially touting Nokia's Symbian-based 3650 as the ideal Active handset. ® Related Stories mmO2 weighs in with £10.2bn loss mmO2 preps market for 3G writedowns mmO2 sells Dutch ops for peanuts mmO2 slashes number of free Web-based texts Music for mobiles, the O2 way
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

UK.gov streams advice for Small.biz

The Small Business Service is the first government agency to introduce video streaming with its new website, www.connectbestpractice.com. The site feature 150 video case studies on everything from "leadership and accessing finance to health and safety and marketing". A big resource library is thrown in for good measure. The web-based material complements CONNECT, a nationwide seminar programme for small businesses. More info here
Drew Cullen, 30 May 2003

GSM SIMplicity for WLAN sign-on

We live in a world of complex technology. Especially the world of personal computers, and even worse when we take them out of the office and still want to connect them back to the network, writes Rob Bamforth, of Bloor Research. Mobile phone networks are much simpler by comparison. Switch on, use, get billed (or pay up front). All the complicated stuff happens behind the scenes. As far as computer networking goes, public wireless local area networks (public WLANs or Wi-Fi) are a simple idea, but the user authentication and billing is neither simple nor consistent. No wonder so many companies view the issue of roaming between different WLAN providers as a market opportunity. Part of the problem is that portable computers haven't had unique identities unlike mobile phones. The other issue is that computer standards aren't quite as strictly applied as those in the mobile phone industry. Ericsson has decided to tackle this and last week demonstrated the first SIM-card logon for WLAN, based on 3GPP standards. 3GPP, the 3G Project Partnership, is the agglomeration of international standards bodies that develops and publishes the third generation wireless standards. The major standards bodies from around the world - US (T1), Europe (ETSI), Japan (ARIB), Korea (ETRI) and China (CWTS) are represented, as are the major technology companies. The demonstration showed a WLAN connected laptop authenticated by a GSM network with the same ease as a regular mobile phone call over GSM. Anyone who's signed up his or her laptop to use any current WLAN hotspot will know just how different the experience is to using a mobile phone. Ericsson provides a single sign-on for both GSM and Public WLAN, so not only a simpler logon, but also one bill. It forms part of Ericsson's Mobile Operator Wireless LAN (MO-WLAN) solution. This is a Wi-Fi, Wireless Internet Service Provisioning system, targeted at mobile operators. In addition to the existing components for service provisioning, user authentication, billing and network management, Ericsson has added a new piece with the Ericsson WLAN Authentication Server. The widespread adoption and use of enforced written standards provides the simplicity of operation of the mobile phone. This simplicity paved the way for mass-market adoption. The Internet protocols provided de facto open standards from TCP to HTTP and led to a similar explosive growth of heterogeneous networks of computers from all manufacturers and operating systems. The next generation mobile networks will be based on the convergence of mobile telephony and IP computer networks. It's important at these early stages of development that standards are developed from both sides to give us BOB - Best Of Both. For Public WLAN to continue to grow, proprietary solutions must give way to open standards, compatibility must be verified, and billing must be as seamless as with mobile telephony. This appears to be a strong step on the way. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 30 May 2003

Intel to boost Pentium M to 1.7GHz next week

Intel will extend Its Pentium M family next week, taking the chip that forms the heart of the company's Centrino platform to 1.7GHz. The 1.7GHz Pentium M will debut this coming Sunday, Xbit Labs reports, alongside a 1.2GHz Low-Voltage version and a 1GHz Ultra-low Voltage part. The three processors will be priced at $637, $262 and $241, respectively, for orders of 1000 units. The new chips represent only a minor speed-bump from today's top-of-the-line 1.6GHz Pentium M. The big hike will come in Q4 when Intel ships the 90nm Pentium M, codenamed Dothan, at 1.8GHz, with higher frequencies coming in during Q1 2004 - the same timeframe for Celeron M's based on today's version and Dothan but with less L2 cache. Dothan's 2MB of on-die L2 cache should drive performance beyond the simply boost to clock frequency. At the launch of Centrino, Intel admitted its 1.6GHz Pentium M was faster than the then top-of-the-range 2.4GHz P4-M. Intel shipped a Centrino-beating 2.5GHz P4-M in April, but the arrival of the 1.7GHz Pentium M may well put Centrino back in the lead. Not for long, though - next month, Intel is also expected to ship a 2.6GHz Pentium 4-M, which should nose into the lead. The arrival of the 1.7GHz Pentium M should help drive demand for the Centrino-based machines. The major notebook vendors all say that more than half of their Q3 notebook shipments will be machines based on the platform, according to sources close to said companies cited by DigiTimes. Acer in particular apparently believes over 80 per cent of the notebooks it will sell in Q3 will be Centrino macchines. Currently, Centrino accounts for around 20-30 per cent of notebook sales, the sources said. Driving growth won?t just be faster chips, but lower system prices. ® Related Link Xbit Labs: Intel to launch new Pentium M processors next week
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

Samsung and LG to push up LCD prices

Samsung and LG Philips are to raise the price of their 15in and 17in LCD screens by 3-5 per cent, the Korea Herald reports, citing "informed industry sources". The two Korean manufacturers together account for around 40 per cent of the LCD market. The move, apparently made in response to dwindling supply from smaller, Taiwanese manufactures, could provoke similar price rises from other manufacturers. Unlike the big guns, the small producers have been forced to reduce production of current LCD panels while they transition to fifth-generation methods. Samsung and co. can more easily afford to develop next-generation plant in parallel with older lines. According to the paper, 15in and 17in LCD prices are currently at a six- to seven-month high, at $185-190 and $270-275, respectively. ® Related Link Korea Herald: Samsung, LG to hike TFT-LCD prices
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

Lindows.com claims SCO immunity via Caldera deal

Lindows.com has jumped into the SCO legal maelstrom by claiming immunity from it. In an announcement yesterday the company cited a 2001 "business agreement" with Caldera which gave Lindows.com "technology for certain product initiatives" in return for "certain considerations from Lindows.com". You can just feel those uncertainties lapping higher around you ankles with each of those certains, can't you? Applying some educated guesswork to this study in imprecision we can postulate that the agreements Lindows.com claims it has with SCO stem from discussions it engaged in with Caldera during its construction phase. These may or may not have resulted in some form of deal which covers Lindows against being busted by SCO for claimed infringements in the Linux kernel. But unless SCO now says, 'By George, Mr Robertson, you're right, you're entirely clean,' the matter can't be settled without lawyers at dawn. Whatever Lindows.com's certificate (if indeed it is even on paper) says, it is most certainly not a fully-notarized document signed-off willingly by the current SCO regime of IP police. Lindows.com's nimble hopping between SCO and Caldera suggests that any commitments it has derive from cuddlier and more open regimes gone by. That does not mean they don't add up to something SCO might wind up having to honour, but it quite possibly wouldn't like having to do so. And depending on the nature of these maybe-deals, they might suggest other outfits could profit from a swift dig for the half-buried skeletons of old Caldera undertakings. From Lindows.com's point of view, of course, whether or not it has immunity has no great immediate relevance. SCO has currently trained its guns on IBM, a nice big fat Unix target, and rattled sabres over Linux, intimating disclosures (under NDA, to analysts) of the alleged sins of the Linux kernel shortly. It's reserved the right to sue both end users and Linus Torvalds, but neither is likely to be in the immediate crosshairs. End-user companies should "suspend any new Linux-related activities until this is all sorted out," but in effect this is a FUD gambit rather than a promise to sue users who don't. As and when it actually starts deploying the lawyers SCO's most rational (we use the word with some hesitation) strategy is to apply pressure to the companies who're having most success in the commercial Linux arena, so start with IBM (again), Red Hat and SuSE. The potential victims most assuredly care, not because they think there's a strong chance of their businesses being buried and/or an injunction cutting off their air supply in the short term, but because their target customers will feel threatened, and are likely to hesitate. This won't help SCO's sales, but it could prove sufficiently disruptive to help Microsoft stem corporate defections. Which means the companies with their hopes riding on Linux business sales are going to have to do some near-term confidence boosting. Or cut a deal with SCO? Unlikely given the collateral ordure the first one to do this would acquire. Lindows.com, happily, doesn't have to get unpopular by breaking ranks because it has, it says, a deal prepared earlier which covers it anyway. But given that SCO isn't going to bust individual consumers, and it'll be several years down the line in a hypothetical world before its lawyers are mopping up the last of the resistance this is not an immediate issue. Sure, SCO could always sue Walmart, but hasn't it got a well-enough funded legal department on the other side already, in the shape of IBM? And if it did, it'd have to sue Lindows.com, putting it on the same side as Microsoft some more, and putting that irritating Mr Robertson grandstanding on the other side. ® * On a personal note, the author wishes to state that until March of this year he was under the impression he'd pretty much recovered from the psychological damage inflicted by the Unix wars of the 1980s. The twinges, however, are starting to return, and should they get any worse he cannot rule out the possibility of entering into litigation with the company responsible for this. Should Sun and HP get dragged in as well, he will not be responsible for his nightmare flashback-induced actions. Related stories: SCO invokes RIAA in Linux jihad Novell torpedoes SCO's Unix IP claim
John Lettice, 30 May 2003

NEC UK beats Intel to launch 1.7GHz Pentium M

NEC UK has thoughtfully pre-announced Intel's upcoming 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, but revealing the new chip - due to launch next week - will power its Versa P600 laptop. The P600 will, to quote the NEC UK release, "integrate an Intel Pentium M processor running at speeds of up to 1.7GHz". It's based on Intel's 855GM chipset. NEC's new machine also sports up to 60GB of hard disk storage, up to 1GB of 266MHz DDR SDRAM in two SO-DIMM slots (the base amount is 256MB) and a combo DVD/CD-RW optical drive. There are three USB 2.0 ports, one 1394 connector, but no legacy parallel and serial ports. There's VGA out and a single Type II PC Card slot. The screen is a 14.1in 1024x768 LCD driven by the chipset's integrated graphics. Some 32MB of system memory is allocated to the graphics sub-system's frame buffer. The notebook contains a built-in 56Kbps modem, 10/100 Ethernet and Intel's Pro Wireless mini-PCI card for 802.11b Wi-Fi connections. NEC is offering Gigabit Ethernet as an optional extra. The notebooks weighs 2.4kg, and measures 30.8 x 26.8 x 2.8cm. Prices start at £1199 excluding VAT, but that's for a 1.4GHz model - as we went to press, prices were not available for the 1.7GHz version. ® Related Story Intel to boost Pentium M to 1.7GHz next week
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

Most bloggers ‘are teenage girls’ – survey

Over to Poland, where some hard statistics have emerged to help answer the question "are most bloggers teenage girls, or simply middle-aged men who write like teenage girls?" The answer would appear to be the former. 62 per cent of Polish blogs are written by women and a staggering three quarters are written by teenagers or younger. So reported Marysia Cywiñska-Milonas at the BlogTalk conference in Vienna this week. It's a perfect fit. Those raging-hormones... capricious tantrums, those endless hours devoted to navel gazing ... the helpless feeling that world is conspiring against you ... the frustration of trying to use grown-up words, but failing ... popstar fantasies ... toe-curling slang ... those nightmarish swings between binge eating and dangerous, faddish diets. It's all there. And don't even mention the first, awful encounter with alcohol. "What am I," asks David Weinberger, adjusting himself to the medium, "a 12-year-old??" Tools Thankfully, not all blogs have to be so juvenile in content. It isn't necessarily "in the job description to suck." Some bloggers, when they know they have nothing to say, walk away and don't blog. And there's the rub. Weblog software provides a wonderful tool that makes it easy to publish your thoughts and pictures to the world - should you lack immediate friends or family to whom you might want to mail these thoughts and pictures to first. The nutty blog hype, such as it is, has been inflated by a handful of weblog tools vendors and exhibitionists who desperately see this as their big moment. By promoting the humble blog as a social tool that heralds an "Emergent Democracy", or a fabulous network that can overthrow Big Brother, they're crowning themselves with the mantle of populist heroes. For some the motivation is commercial self-interest. For others, it simply provides the springboard of a dependable social circle. Without the courteous Mr Ito, and old Register friend Dan Gillmor, the airline industry would be in far worse shape than it is today. These two only ever seek to touch terra firma briefly, and only ever at blogging conferences. This is a lifestyle, of sorts. But the populism isn't borne out by the statistics, which tell us that the number of webloggers remains extremely small. Pew Research recently pegged the number of blog readers as "statistically insignificant" and our own logs back up their findings. A story, such as this one, with 'blog' in the headline will almost certainly be the least-read item of the day. Our discussion of the consequences of removing of blogs from Google led the bloggers hit parade at Daypop and Blogdex for three days, but the story refused to budge higher 16th in our logs, despite its headline position over that weekend. In reality, a thousand or so links scarcely makes a dent in the million+plus page imps read by tech-savvy Register readers each day. But if faux populism worked well enough in the dotcom bubble, when the empowering potential of private capital ownership (stock options) and new technology cloaked a huge transfer of wealth to the rich, why shouldn't it work now? Well, primarily because blogging is a solitary activity that requires the blogger to spend less time reading a book, taking the dog for the walk, meeting friends in the pub, seeing a movie, or reading to the kids. The reason that 99.93 per cent of the world doesn't blog, and never will, is because people make simple information choices in what they choose to ingest and produce, and most of this will be either personal and private, or truly social. Blog-evangelists can fulminate at the injustice of this all they like, but people are pretty smart and make fairly rational choices on the information they process. Interesting people run interesting blogs, but it's remarkable how few of them there are. So the upshot of all this is it that not withstanding the gems of self-publishing - largely unsung by the A-list evangelists because they refuse to conform to the canon (Cryptome and Indymedia are not considered part of the club, for example) - the field is largely populated by adolescents - of all ages. Maybe we're all safer this way - thanks to weblogs. Maybe blogs are a way of keeping the truly antisocial out of harm's way. So if you know a middle-aged sociopath, for heaven's sake, point him to a computer and show him how to start a weblog. At least it will keep him off the streets. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 30 May 2003

Nokia N-Gage games phone now available in UK

Nokia's N-Gage cellphone-cum-handheld games console isn't due to ship until early next October, but if you've £600 to spare and happen to be in London's Tottenham Court Road, you can pick up one up. Strolling past second-hand kit emporium Computer eXchange (CeX) yesterday, what did we spot in the shop window but one Nokia N-Gage, slightly scuffed but no doubt serviceable. Nokia announced the machine, which is based on the Symbian 7 operating system, some months ago, and said it will ship "to consumers in volumes across five continents in early October 2003". Nokia's N-Gage as new A couple of weeks ago, at the E3 show in Los Angeles, Nokia unveiled a stack of N-Gage games that will ship around the time of the console's launch. The games will ship on Multimedia Card (MMC), and around 20 titles will be available when the N-Gage ships. Titles include Tomb Raider, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon, Rayman 3, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Pathway to Glory, and Mercel Desailly Pro Soccer. Of course, anyone taking CeX up on its offer will have to wait until the autumn for all these goodies, but they may at least make use of the N-Gage's MP3/AAC digital music playback and its built-in stereo FM radio. It also operates as a tri-band GSM phone. So where did CeX's N-Gage come from? When we tried to contact the store today to find out, the staff weren't picking up the phone. But it's not hard to imagine it has been off-loaded by an employee of Nokia or one of its third-party developers for a bit of cash. Naughty. Whatever, now's you're chance to get way ahead of the gaming crowd - for a price... ®
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

US cyber crime losses tumble

US financial losses from cyber crime in 2002 were down 56 per cent on 2001, according to the Computer Security Institute's (CSI) eighth annual Computer Crime and Security Survey. Overall financial losses from 530 survey respondents to the survey this year totalled $202 million, significantly down from 503 respondents reporting $456 million losses last year. However the number of significant incidents remained roughly the same as last year, despite the drop in costs. As in prior years, theft of proprietary information caused the greatest financial loss ($70 million was lost, survey participants say, with the average reported loss being approximately $2.7 million). But in a shift from previous years, the second-most expensive computer crime among survey respondents was denial of service. This caused an estimated loss of $65.6 million - up 250 percent from last year's losses of $18.4 million. By contrast, losses reported for financial fraud were drastically lower, at $9,171,400, compared to nearly $116 million reported in the survey last year. Before we read too much into such figures it's worth noting that although three in four of the organisations acknowledged financial loss, only 47 per cent could quantity them. So the survey is useful for broad trends only. According to the CSI, the results show that computer crime threats to large corporations and government agencies come from both inside and outside their electronic perimeters, confirming a trend in previous years. Forty-five per cent of respondents detected unauthorised access by insiders. But for the fourth year in a row, more respondents (78 percent) cited their Internet connection as a frequent point of attack than cited their internal systems as a frequent point of attack (36 percent). The survey findings confirm that the threat from computer crime and other information security breaches is unabated, the CSI concludes. The Computer Crime and Security Survey is conducted by CSI with the participation of the San Francisco Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Computer Intrusion Squad. The aim of survey is to raise security awareness, as well as to determine the scope of computer crime in the US. The complete survey is published here. ®
John Leyden, 30 May 2003

Americans love texting (true)

American mobile phone users are beginning to take to SMS, but IM may be the future for wireless messaging in the US. IDC's latest figures show that by 2007, there will be as many as 75 million SMS users in America, and revenue from the service to mobile operators will rise to about $1.9 billion in that year. The growth ahead is evident now, the research firm says, with SMS subscribers doubling to 21 million in 2002. SMS traffic, meanwhile, climbed 300 per cent last year to hit 2.4 billion messages, as consumers began to embrace the service, mostly for personal messaging and entertainment. But the market must be put into perspective: SMS traffic in the US is still a tiny fraction of the traffic in Western Europe, where in 2002 an estimated 186 billion messages were sent, according to data from Frost & Sullivan. It is expected that by 2006, traffic in Western Europe will hit 365 billion messages per year. Importantly, mobile operators in Europe are generating about 10 per cent of their revenues from SMS. For their part, Irish mobile phone users are among the leaders in texting after places like Singapore and the Philippines, with ComReg figures showing that in the first three months of this year, approximately 660 million SMS messages were sent in Ireland. That equates to about 72 messages a month per subscriber, compared to about seven per American subscriber. The reasons for the slow uptake of the service vary, but include the fact that many US operators only started offering two-way messaging services in 2001. What's more, many of the handsets in the US market were not equipped to send SMS messages until 2001. Meanwhile, since US wireless field is a mix of differing standards and technologies, it was only in late 2001 and early 2002 that SMS became generally interoperable between most of the US wireless telecoms. But, the biggest reason why SMS has been in the doldrums in the US revolves around that fact that talk there is cheap. With local calls on fixed-lines charged under flat monthly fees and mobile operators offering thousands of "free" minutes with subscription plans, the attractiveness of SMS as a low-cost communications option never took hold. IDC says that Americans though have shown a fondness for another type of messaging service - IM or instant messaging. The company says that by 2007 there will be 63 million IM users in America, which will be worth about U$1.9 billion. And, in that year, the company predicts that a staggering 44 billion wireless IM messages will be sent. "Wireless users are discovering the utility of wireless capabilities like SMS and IM, which in turn represent a natural migration of existing communications behaviour from the PC to wireless environments," said Scott Ellison, program director in IDC's Wireless and Mobile Communications research program. IDC recommends that the industry focus on implementation of IM interoperability as soon as possible, noting that the SMS subscriber market doubled in 2002 after the mid-year implementation of SMS interoperability by the major US wireless carriers. The company says that when different standards work together, Americans will embrace IM and drive the sector upward. Such interoperability could soon arrive with Microsoft and AOL saying on Thursday that they would seek to make MSN Messenger and AOL's Instant Messenger interoperable as part of a legal settlement. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 30 May 2003
Broken CD with wrench

Windows broken by Intel Centrino

When it launched its Centrino mobile platform, Intel said it was targeting corporate customers. The trouble is, corporates like to use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to allow remote workers to access the company LAN, and it has emerged that Centrino isn't very VPN-friendly. A number of widely used VPN clients have been found to crash Centrino-based notebooks running Windows XP, invoking the OS' notorious blue screen of death. The problem appears to be a conflict between the Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS) within Intel's ProSet software - which manages many of the Centrino platform's key features, such as energy saving and wireless device profiles - and the VPN client. So says Nortel, which found that its Contivity VPN client is one of those that ProSet's not keen on. Some 50 million Contivity VPN clients have shipped since 1997, says Nortel. Nortel sent an advisory notice to users of its software on 14 May, detailing the problem and providing a work-around which essentially disables the extra features enabled by the ProSet software and drivers but leaves the wireless card working. Customers can then use XP to manage the notebook's network adaptors rather than ProSet, Nortel said. The trouble is, disabling ProSet disables many of the features that user choose Centrino for, such as its power conservation capabilities and smart network adaptor switching - both important features for corporate IT guys, alongside VPN support. Plus the consensus appears to be that ProSet provides better device management tools than XP. Intel's web site publishes a warning that ProSet Adapter Switching should be disabled before using a variety of VPN clients, including code from Cisco, Checkpoint, Microsoft and... er... Intel. According to PC World, that warning was published on 26 February, a few weeks before Centrino was launched. Intel has said it is aware of the problem and is investigating a solution. ® Related Stories Intel to boost Pentium M to 1.7GHz next week NEC UK beats Intel to launch 1.7GHz Pentium M
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

The Register signs up for Bricolage

Site NewsSite News A few months ago we mentioned in passing that we were evaluating a new content management system to replace our in-house bodge-job. More than 30 companies contacted us with a view to pitching. Thanks guys, but we have made our CMS decision. Step forward Bricolage. It's powerful, it's flexible, it's a perfect fit for the content we currently handle and the kind of content we want to handle in the future. As a bonus, Bricolage is open source, which we like. It means that the conversion and installation costs are far more realistic than some of the more proprietary, functionally equivalent rivals. Bricolage is a fully functional, open-source content management and publishing system built in Perl using HTML::Mason and Apache/mod_perl. Bricolage uses the PostgreSQL relational database to store content. To find out more about the software go here, or check out Kineticode, home of David Wheeler, Bric's lead developer, who is guiding our Bric project. You can read a review of Bricolage here: We'll knock together some kind of case study as we go live. ® Update — September 2005 In the end, we decided to use our own system instead of Bricolage. See this page for information on how the site works.
Team Register, 30 May 2003

Asus crosses Intel with PAT compatibility claim

Asus is on course to clash with Intel over whether its Springdale-based mobo, the P4P800 offers features provided by Intel's Canterwood chipset. Launched in April, Canterwood, aka the i875, offers what Intel calls Performance Enhancement Technology (PAT). Essentially, that means the chipset uses more aggressive memory timings to achieve a 3-5 per cent performance boost. Intel launched Springdale, the i865, t'other week as a lower-end alternative to Canterwood. Both chipsets support the Pentium 4 operating over a 200MHz frontside bus quad-pumped to an effective 800MHz. Yesterday, Asus announced its 865-based P4P800 Deluxe mobo shipped with the ability to turn on PAT via the company's own BIOS, a note spotted by ExtremeTech's Mark Hachman. In short, with one easy tweak your 865 has become an 875 - ironic, given PAT is one of the few things that differentiates the 875 from the 865. Today, Intel dismissed Asus' claim. A spokesman said that PAT is "hardwired" into the 875 - it can't be enabled in the 865. "PAT cannot be enabled on a 865-based motherboard," he told ExtremeTech. So who's right? One analyst cited by the ExtremeTech believes the two chipsets are fundamentally identical - it's just a matter of those that perform the best with the more aggressive memory timings being labeled 875s, and those that don't being sold as 865 parts. That's certainly what happens with processors. Manufacturer A fabs a whole batch of processors and tests them at a given clock speed. If they work, they're sold at that frequency. If not, they're tested at a lower frequency, with the speed being dropped until the chip passes the test. Those that fall below a certain threshold are trashed. So a single Pentium 4 wafer can yield a number of 3.06GHz parts, 2.8GHz chips, 2.6GHz chips and so on. Intel could be using the same trick with the 875 and 865, and Asus is simply overclocking the 865 to the level Intel clocks the 875. Alternatively, just as the latest Celerons are basically Pentium 4 processors with some features removed or disabled, so the 865 may not be an 875 per se. However, Asus may have figured out how to overclock the timings to gain an 875-class performance increase. It can't be that to find a 3-5 per cent gain. Either way, what matters is the performance gain, not necessarily how it was achieved. Independent tests will be required to compare the P4P800 Deluxe to an 875-based mobo to verify Asus' performance claims. Of course, any attempt at overclocking risks pushing the component above the threshold at which it's happy operating, leading to malfunctions. That's why Intel doesn't simply ship all its CPUs at the maximum possible clock speed. So tests will be needed to determine the Asus board's operational durability. Meanwhile, what will Intel's reaction be? Most likely it will demand Asus stop claiming it can offer PAT on an 865-based board. In which case, Asus will presumably just ship the board as supporting its own Memory Acceleration Mode, which is the option users select in the BIOS to enable PAT. ® Related Link ExtremeTech: Enhanced Asus mobo may draw Intel's ire
Tony Smith, 30 May 2003

When is e-money not e-money? When it stays on your mobile phone

For years now, the mobile phone industry has been trying to get us to think of our phones as electronic wallets. Now, just as that is starting to happen, an EU Directive from last year is about to put the kibosh on it, at least for prepay users. It all hinges on the definition of e-money. In UK law, it is 'monetary value stored on an electronic device, issued on receipt of funds, and accepted as a means of payment by persons other than the issuer.' The Directive seeks to regulate its use, to protect consumers and prevent it being used for money laundering. The problem is that the £10 top-up you put on your prepay account this morning could also be covered, because the UK government's Financial Services Authority categorises as e-money any payments that you make out of your credit to buy things that aren't consumed on the phone. So you are OK buying ring-tones and the like, but not paying for parking, subscribing to a website or entering prize competitions. And the FSA wants the value of all e-money held by the mobile networks to be placed in trust. That's not just the amount spent on external goods and services - if some prepay credit can be spent that way, then it all counts as e-money. Needless to say, the network operators are not thrilled by the prospect of placing the £millions currently stored on prepay accounts into trust - that money is too useful as a cash float. But they can carry on selling their own premium rate services, and of course contract users are unaffected. The people who are really unhappy are the companies that provide reverse-SMS payment services. "At the moment, the response from the network operators is that they are choosing not to issue e-money," says Craig Barrack, UK country manager at Netsize. "It limits how much of the market we can reach." Frankly the whole thing is absurd. What is the likelihood of Mafia bosses laundering money through premium rate calls at £1.50 a pop? And if callers need protection from the unscrupulous, why leave contract users unprotected, when they have more to lose? Making it even dafter is that definition of consumed on the phone: it's e-money if you subscribe to a mucky website and view it on a PC connected to a landline of some sort, but it's not e-money if you subscribe to the same website and view it on the same PC connected via your mobile phone. The FSA has an e-money consultation paper out at the moment, but if you want to comment, you will need to hurry as the consultation period ends today. ®
Bryan Betts, 30 May 2003

Fizzer blasts Klez-H off top spot in viral charts

The newly emerged Fizzer worm has displaced Klez as the most common viral menace on the Internet over the last month. Managed services firm Messagelabs blocked Fizzer 497,846 times in May, relegating Klez-H (293,028 interceptions) to fourth place in the firm's monthly viral charts. MessageLabs reports that one in 145 emails it processed this month contained a virus. The company also operates an anti-spam service. In May, for the first time, spam exceeded legitimate email in percentage terms. The global ratio of spam in email scanned by MessageLabs Anti-Spam service was 1 in 1.8 (55.1 per cent) emails. Over at anti-virus firm Sophos the Palyh (Microsoft support) worm was the most common subject of support calls with Fizzer coming in as the second most commonly reported irritant. In MessageLabs chart Palyh went straight in at number three. ® Top ten viruses blocked by MessageLabs in May Fizzer Yaha-E Palyh (Sobig-B) Klez-H Sobig-A Yaha-K!e2a2 SirCam-A Yaha-P BugBear Lovgate-F
John Leyden, 30 May 2003

Make way for the contender to Google's crown

You're not going to believe this, but a new search engine has just appeared and, well, it may be better than Google. Obviously, that sounds slightly ridiculous but after having spent a day devising weird and wonderful searches and comparisons, not only has it stood up to the test but it's so good that you realise how much of an effect Google has had on your thinking when it comes to searching the Net. You can go try it now - it's at Turbo10.com - but for God's sake, before you start emailing and ranting and raving, read the rest of this story as it will probably cover what you're going to say. The cons First of all, let's get it out the way and slag Turbo10 off. One, it's called Turbo10 - brings to mind something slightly 80s with silver streaks. It's called Turbo because, spokeswoman Megan Hamilton explains "we wanted a name that connoted speed. Also the word 'turbo' has the same meaning across a number of major European languages". The "10" is vital to the search engine. Megan says: "The 10 is used because we show 10 results per page, we connect up to 10 target engines, and we show the top 10 topic clusters for every search." It's still called Turbo10 though. However, if you remember correctly, everyone thought "Google" was a bit of a silly name when it first appeared in Beta. Turbo10 is cluttered. It's cluttered and the colours (dark blue and purple) will not be to many people's tastes. A far cry from the liberating white space in Google. Is this a return to the bad old days of over-complex search engines? No, because when AltaVista was king, all those extra bits were useless add-ons and got in the way. Every single bit of Turbo10's page has a very real and very useful function. The results are tightly packed in and the description of where your search request is in the document is not that great. It sometimes contains a meaningless jumble of words and it seems a little buggy in that it sticks the wrong thing in sometimes. We imagine this will be ironed out as it comes out of Beta. Turbo10 does not let you use punctuation marks or logical expressions (well, it does, but they have no effect). Now, your immediate reaction is "that's rubbish - how the hell will I get at what I want?" But after playing with the site a bit, you realise that this reaction is due to the Google (and many previous engines) mindset you have for searching the Web. If you assume for a minute that you can get exactly what you want without having to use the various refining techniques that we have all learnt, then this non-use of logical expressions is a positive thing. Basically, Turbo10 has a different philosophy of Net searching and after a while you start to get it. The pros Let's give the Turbo10 PR information here. "Turbo10 has launched the first fully automated system that creates and maintains connections to online databases en masse. 'Connecting to 1000 engines is just the tip of the iceberg. By creating an automated system we can connect to thousands more,' Nigel Hamilton, Turbo10's CEO said." That's the start of the company's press release. The more interesting bit is further down: "Turbo10 searches the Deep Net - a vast array of specialist databases that range from business associations, universities, libraries, and government departments. These specialist search engines are inaccessible to traditional crawler-based engines such as Altavista.com and google.com who can only index static pages. Turbo10 is the first commercial metasearch engine to connect to hundreds of these specialised engines en masse, broadening the depth and range of search results for the online searcher." That's it in a nutshell. Okay, so now you're thinking "this is just as academic, specialist search engine and it can't even be compared to Google". In fact, it can be compared directly to not only Google but also specialist search engines - plus the ones in between like Teoma. Turbo10 let's you select up to 10 search engines to run a search through. But unlike AskJeeves where all the results are irritatingly put in different boxes, Turbo10's genius to combine them all in one weighted listing - it's the search engine of search engines. So if you wanted, you could select google.com, google.co.uk and news.google.com to search in. If you only select these three, Turbo10 will run a search and also choose another seven search engines it sees as best-fits for your search. Then, the results will be displayed according to either speed (Turbo10 doesn't want to be accused of being slow) or relevance, irrespective of search engine, but with the search engine that the result came from shown. Although we note that suspiciously few results come from Google itself. The reduction of search results from this initial list is then done by the use of clusters in a box on the left-hand side. So, for example, a search on "the register" - two very common words - gives Register.com as the first choice. TheRegister.co.uk only makes it to number eight. However, among the clusters on the left are "news" - which links mostly to news stories and is less help - but also "theregister content" - all of which links to stories on this site. Once you use the clusters a few times, you end up getting to what you're looking for faster than with advanced searches or logical expressions. So what? Google still gives you everything you need and Turbo10 is too much trouble. Well, quite possibly true - but then Turbo10 has a lot of advantages. New search mentality Rather than list results in a long line, causing you to have to scroll, Turbo10 has ten fitted on the page and you use arrow buttons to move onto different pages. You may like this, you may not, it doesn't matter, it's there. But you will notice that there are only spaces for 10 of these pages - so, a total of 100 results for any particular search. In most cases however, there are only three of four pages - so just 30 or 40 results returned. Here again is where there is a different mindset. While Google tends to go "oooooooooo" right across the page, Turbo10 sticks to its guns and throws out very few. This is the crux: if you want something obscure in Google and most other engines, you keep changing the search criteria until you get it or you finally find it on page 36. With Turbo10, you simply choose different search engines. When we first started trying out the engine yesterday, it had 1102 search engines available. At the moment, it links to 1108. But the time you've reached the end of this article, it will be probably be more. The core of Turbo10 is that you select your own engines. This is all done simply online. You select the ten you want, give the "collection" a name, and stick on your email address (it promises to never sell it) so you can be recognised and then this is added to a list of "collections" that you can select using a drop-down menu on the main search area. So, basically, you could use the Turbo10 default setting (about, altavista, bbc, dmoz, encyclopaedia, goggle, msn, yahoo) for general Web searches but if you want a news story, you set up a collection of 10 news search engines and call it "news". You then select this one is what you want is news stories. Then, if you want say something technical, you set up another collection with 10 technical search engines. It's a different way to find what you want, and if you think about it, far more logical than learning different search tricks and techniques. Plus - and this is the real killer - we reckon that aside from all the "how it works" and "what it means" stuff, Turbo10 produces BETTER results for a given search. In fact, after using it for a while, you tend to notice that Google slightly over-rates geeky and sub-culture comments in place of solid, useful links and facts. Vision Turbo10 has a vision for how search engines will work in the future. Spokeswoman Megan Hamilton confirms that Turbo10 is going for the broad market and so competing with Google. "We want to become the Hotmail of search - personalised to each searcher," she says. We're not sure that is the best comparison to make, but the idea is to use the latest Internet technology to make search engines less impersonal. Plenty of new features are in the pipeline. "We are going to use Amazon-style recommendation algorithms to further personalise searching. Searchers will be able to view their own search profiles which will also act as bookmarks. Most search engines have no idea who their users are - we want to change this completely - to user-focused search. Each user's search profile will interact with others ... we want to create a blog-o-sphere of search users and their profiles. More browsing options and result annotation will also be included." (Hopefully with this personalised approach, you will be able to change the colours.) Of course, whether this plan is a truly wonderful and helpful idea or another irritating way for a company to learn too much about you depends entirely on how you view the organisation running it. Turbo10 is brand new and so has yet to build up trust with its users, so we'll hold off until time gives a better perspective. "Turbo10 told us the money will come from sponsored links, that will be flagged "[sponsored]". Apart from that, presumably it will be licensing the technology behind it all to corporates and the like." However, from what we've seen, this looks like a really good and useful search engine. Better than that, it actually provides a different philosophy of running Internet searches. With Google having come to dominate the market (to the extent that people seem to forget that it is a company and not some kind of United Nations for the Internet), the competition and new blood can only be a good thing. I'm sure I've forgotten lots of bits and bobs but this review is too long already, so get out there and see what you think. Oh, Turbo10 doesn't have the Google cache feature complete with highlighted words, which seems to be becoming more important every day, which is a shame. Also, please don't bother emailing saying that there's no way this will put an end to Google: of course it won't, Google is Google and is pretty much here to stay. This is an alternative. Apart from that, our only fear is that it will be knocked offline by the demand that will inevitably follow. ® Related link Turbo10.com
Kieren McCarthy, 30 May 2003

Server market slumps in Q1

IBM and Dell continue to weather the storm looming over the server market, posting strong gains in the first quarter of 2003, according to IDC. Overall, worldwide server revenue dropped 3.6 percent to $10.5 billion compared to the same quarter a year ago. Low-end systems - under $25,000 - did provide a bright spot for the vendors, showing a 10 percent year-on-year rise in revenue. Still, the market continued to suffer from slow IT spending, even though IDC sees sales stabilizing from here on out. Hewlett-Packard has captured the top spot among all vendors, but the company continued to see its market share slip. For the first quarter, HP pulled in $2.94 billion and captured 27.9 percent of the market. While HP was able to unseat IBM as the worldwide leader in sales, it saw both market share and revenue figures tumble. Revenue fell 11.7 percent for HP, and the company dropped 2.5 points of market share compared to the same quarter last year. These figures include both HP and Compaq. Still, HP was proud of its achievement in beating out IBM. "It must be a sad day in Armonk," said Mark Hudson, a vice president of HP in a canned quote. "HP has taken the number 1 spot in worldwide total server revenue, and we couldn't be happier." IBM may take offense at HP's bravado, but Big Blue has nothing to be ashamed about. The company saw revenue growth of 6.9 percent year-on-year and gained the very 2.5 points of market share that HP lost. IBM made $2.68 billion in revenue for the quarter. Dell also had a strong performance in the quarter. It saw a massive 15.1 percent jump in revenue growth and a gain of 1.5 points in market share. Dell, the fourth place vendor overall, pulled in $985 million in revenue. Sun Microsystems held onto the third position in total sales, despite the biggest revenue decline among all the top vendors. Sun moved $1.35 billion in servers for the quarter but coughed up 1.7 points of market share and saw revenue shrink by 15.3 percent. Fujitsu rounded out the top five with a relatively flat quarter, shipping $560 million worth of product. In the Unix server market, Sun and HP tied for the top spot with IBM coming in third. The Unix market declined 12.9 percent to $4.3 billion, as high-end and midrange systems continue to decline in price, IDC said. The Linux server market saw a large 35 percent increase in revenue to $583 million. The Windows server market also grew 10 percent to $3.2 billion. ®
Ashlee Vance, 30 May 2003