18th > June > 2003 Archive

Golden Palace starts U.S. Open streaker service

An otherwise dull U.S. Open golf championship was livened up this weekend by a voluptuous streaker who has since been turned into a Web service. During the final round of the tournament, a lass made her way onto the 11th green to present eventual winner Jim Furyk with a pair of roses. Such a nice gesture might go unnoticed were it not for the words "Golden Palace" written across her chest, goldenpalace.com tattooed on her back and the American flag pasties covering her nipples. The buxom blonde has garnered enough attention with the stunt for GoldenPalace.com to kick off a marketing campaign. The online casino is offering "behind the scenes" pictures for those willing to download its gaming software. The woman is known in some circle-jerks as Brittney Skye and says she was happy to take time out of her busy porn schedule to promote the Golden Palace Web site. "I've seen their ad tattoos before, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some exposure and be part of a new and exciting marketing trend," Skye said in a statement. Golden Palace has already used the streaking gag for self-promotion at the UEFA Cup Final and the French Open. The whole thing is wearing thinner than Skye's undies at this point, but we'll back anything that makes golf interesting to watch. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jun 2003

Red Hat turns a profit once again

Red Hat managed to wring a profit out of its first fiscal quarter, posting solid year-on-year growth. The Linux maker made $27.2 million in revenue for the period which ended on May 31. This marks a 39 percent increase over the $19.5 million posted in the same quarter a year ago. The strong quarter pushed Red Hat into the black for the second time in company history. It posted net income of $1.5 million or $0.01 per share. This compares to a net loss of $4.6 million or $0.03 a share in last year's first quarter. Subscriptions for Red Hat Enterprise Linux products grew 10 percent to 23,500. The enterprise business performed well, rising 14 percent from last quarter and 104 percent year-on-year. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jun 2003

And here's who will be running the Internet for the next three years

ICANN has announced who will act as its Board Directors for the next three years. Meeting all expectations, its independent Nominating Committee has chosen people already well known and connected within the ICANN community amid several executives from multi-national corporations that help fund ICANN. However, critics' accusations that the whole process has been undemocratic and reiterates the charge that the body running the Internet is a self-serving elite, fall short. Although the Nominating Committee contains a clear majority of people intricately tied with the existing clique running ICANN, and despite the facts that all meetings were carried out behind closed doors to procedures that will not be divulged, ICANN has stuck to the word of its democratic founding creed. Over-seeing the delayed transition to a full voted-for board was NomCom chair Linda Wilson. Ms Wilson has bravely stayed on the Board since ICANN's inception, despite monthly calls to retire. She has braved criticism for remaining on the Board after she promised to step down after one year. She has also dismissed accusations of abuse when an emergency measure was introduced to give herself and fellow Board members a further two years in charge. She has also faced anger when she again extended her term another two years (something that the ICANN bylaws had to be rewritten to accommodate). And finally, she dealt with malcontents when she and others gave themselves another four years in a ruling position. No one then was better able to preside over who should join the ICANN Board. Although the Board positions that the Internet community itself directly elects (as written into the founding rules of ICANN) had to be scrapped in order to make way for people who better understood ICANN's aims and motives, the democratic spirit lives on. Five representatives chosen by the At Large Advisory Committee were allowed to vote in NomCom meetings against 12 other representatives from ICANN bodies. Not only that but members of the public were permitted to put their name forward to be considered by the NomCom. In the end, 110 people offered their services and the Committee wisely chose those names that it was already familiar with and could be certain would do the right job - as defined by ICANN bylaws. The new Net folk heros will be introduced at ICANN's Montreal meeting next week. So with justice done although not seen to be done, let's review those shining beacons of Internet democracy, as chosen by those that know best. (We have to confess though, the concept of choosing at the same time different groups of differently numbered people to serve entirely different terms follows a logic that can only have come from ICANN.) Short-term Board members (26 June 2003 - Annual meeting 2003) Masanobu Katoh: Already an ICANN director. Fujitsu lawyer. Specialises in intellectual property Veni Markovski: ICANN insider. Chair of Internet Society, Bulgaria. [Also gets voted in again automatically until 2006 - see below] Hualin Qian: Helped introduce Chinese Internet system. [Also gets voted in again automatically until 2006 - see below] Medium-term Board members (26 June 2003 - Annual meeting 2004) Ivan Moura Campos: Already an ICANN director. Heads the board for Brazil's domain Vinton Cerf: Already an ICANN director. In fact ICANN chairman Tricia Drakes: Chair of ISOC England. Banker Long-term Board members (26 June 2003 - Annual meeting 2005) Thomas Niles: ICANN insider. US diplomat Njeri Rionge: Kenyan businesswoman from marketing background Real long-term Board members (Annual meeting 2003 - Annual meeting 2006) Hagen Hultzsch: Ex-Deutsche Telekom top shot Veni Markovski: ICANN insider. Chair of Internet Society, Bulgaria Hualin Qian: Helped introduce Chinese Internet system GNSO Council members Amadeu Abril i Abril (until 2004): ICANN insider. There from the very beginning Demi Getschko (until 2005): ICANN well-known. Works closely with ICANN director and fellow nominee Ivan Moura Campos Alick Wilson (until 2005): New Zealand IT consultant. On NZ IT Association board Interim At Large Advisory Committee Roberto Gaetano (until 2004): ICANN insider. Ex-IBM Kenneth Hamma (until 2004): Museum curator. Proposed dismissed .museum TLD Sunday Folayan (until 2005): Nigerian businessman. Mainstay of Nigerian Internet Group. Tommi Matsumoto (until 2005): Japanese and Asia-Pacific Net representative Tadao Takahashi (until 2005): ICANN insider. Chair of Internet Society, Brazil
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jun 2003

US lobby pushes hard for ‘location snooper’ phone technology

The influential CTIA - Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association - is focusing its considerable influence on people who are dragging their feet on the so-called E-911 bill - which mandates that all 911 emergency calls should carry accurate details of where the caller is. Last week, the CTIA issued a statement praising Senators Hillary Clinton (yes, that Hillary Clinton) and Conrad Burns - one democrat, one Republican - for their proposed bill. In addition, the organisation has started focusing its news reports on the companies who are either obstructing, or failing to respond, to existing location-discovery laws. The trouble is that since the first legislation empowered States to raise the money to pay for this technology, the money has been spent elsewhere. "The Bonnie and Clyde of public safety are those governors and state legislatures who broke into the E-911 bank and robbed the public of important safety resources. We need leadership and coordination at the state level, to ensure that the fees wireless consumers are paying every month go where they were intended," said Tom Wheeler, President and CEO of the CTIA. The weekend's CTIA newsletter highlights a hefty fine imposed on Cingular for failing to meet an FCC deadline for installing E-911 equipment in its network. The fine was picked up from SFGate.com - a web presence of the San Francisco Chronicle. "Cingular Wireless plans to settle a recent FCC complaint for $675,000. The complaint was issued as a result of the wireless carrier’s failure to meet a FCC deadline requiring the installation of new technology in its network that would identify the location of a wireless caller dialling 911 from a Cingular phone. In addition to paying the fee, Cingular will install technology in several thousand cell sites throughout the United States over the next 21 months to meet E-911 specifications," said the report. The E-911 legislation is the CTIA's baby; it dates back to 1996 when it joined with NENA and APCO in proposing the technology to the FCC. Despite numerous delays caused by changing rules and regulations, the wireless industry has aggressively pushed forward to assure consumers receive the safety benefits of enhanced 9-1-1 services: "E-911 is like a three-legged stool – the wireless industry, the 911 agencies (fire, police, ambulance) and the local phone companies. Unless all three legs are strong, the stool can’t carry its load," said Tom Wheeler, President and CEO of CTIA. "Frankly, the strongest leg on the stool right now is wireless." Or, to put it another way, the local authorities have been letting the load slip. The new E-911 legislation proposed by Burns and Clinton is an attempt to nail the money to the table. "The bill would foster coordination at all levels, and through audits and other measures, ensure that E-911 funds are directed toward making enhanced 9-1-1 services available nationwide. This legislation injects a good dose of coordination and accountability that has been lacking in the implementation of enhanced 911 services," said CTIA's Wheeler. "Senators Burns and Clinton have shown tremendous leadership and expertise in crafting a comprehensive policy that will promote cooperation, while at the same time clamp down on local and state governments who are brazenly raiding E-911 funds." CTIA describes itself as an international association for the wireless telecommunications industry, but it remains to be seen if it has any clout outside the US. This flexing of muscles could be a preliminary to trying to get location-based emergency services adopted in other countries. See http://www.wow-com.com for more. ©Newswireless.net Some recent Newswireless.net articles Blame David Beckham and Vodafone. Or buy a PMG Are you a phone dummy? Can you tell talk from mutter?
Guy Kewney, 18 Jun 2003

Bluetooth to outship Wi-Fi five to one – report

ExclusiveExclusive Bluetooth will become the dominant wireless technology, building market share by stealth as the Wi-Fi hotspot bubble bursts, market watcher Forrester Research has forecast. It's undoubtedly a contentious claim. Wi-Fi is being backed by some of the IT industry's biggest names - Intel, Apple, Cisco et al - not to mention a host of new and established service providers - BT, T-Mobile, The Cloud etc. - keen to tap into a perceived demand for high speed data access on the move. Bluetooth, by contrast, has largely failed to grab the public's attention as a 'must have' and has widely been dismissed as a technology set to be out-evolved by ubiquitous Wi-Fi in the home and the office. Both technologies serve different roles, of course. Wi-Fi is a networking technology, Bluetooth is all about connecting peripherals to a host system. But there's sufficient overlap for some observers to see the two locked in a pitched battle for WLAN market leadership. Forrester's argument, outlined in its report WLAN and Bluetooth Update: Beyond the Hype, that Bluetooth will 'win' centres on volume shipments. This year will see the annual number of Bluetooth devices that have shipped begin to diverge from the volume of Wi-Fi enabled products - to date they've been roughly neck and neck. According to Forrester, some 40 million Bluetooth-enabled phones have shipped worldwide. Over 2000 companies are currently developing more than 1000 products - and that's just the ones registered with the Bluetooth SIG. So far, more than 25 million WLAN devices have shipped worldwide and 741 products have been approved for interoperability by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the WLAN world's answer to the Bluetooth SIG. Forrester forecasts that by 2008, there will be 286.5 million Bluetooth enabled phones, PDAs and notebooks in Europe alone - not to mention all the wireless headsets, keyboards, mice and webcams that will use Bluetooth too. Around 77 per cent of phones, 60 per cent of PDAs and 67 per cent of notebooks will have the technology built in. Chip prices are falling, making building the technology into new products cheaper, and the arrival of Bluetooth-WLAN combo chips - leveraging the fact they both use the 2.4GHz band - next year will make incorporating Bluetooth a no brainer, the research company believes. Wi-Fi devices will number 53.4 million. While 80 per cent of notebooks that ship in 2008 will feature Wi-Fi, only 34 per cent of PDAs will, and just two per cent of cellphones - cellular network providers want data, and the revenue that comes from it, flowing over their networks, not someone else's. Of course, many devices will support both technologies: 27 per cent of PDAs and 65 per cent of notebooks - just one per cent notebooks will offer Bluetooth alone, while 33 per cent of PDAs will and so will 75 per cent of cellphones. The bottom line, says Forrester, is that Bluetooth devices will outnumber WLAN units five to one. The implication is that Bluetooth will therefore become the dominant wireless technology. Is that a fair conclusion? We're not so sure. We like Bluetooth, and think it definitely has a future, but being available for use in five times as many devices as WLAN technology doesn't make it more important than the other. Looking at Forrester's figures, Bluetooth's lead in 2008 will come about solely because it's included in phones - 239 million units out of 286.5 million. That leaves just 47.5 million Bluetooth-enabled PDAs and notebooks. Since only two per cent of phones will support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (none will offer Wi-Fi alone), of the 53.4 million WLAN-enabled devices shipping in 2008, 47.2 million of them will be PDAs and notebooks. So WLAN and Bluetooth are effectively neck-and-neck, when you take phones out of the equation. Some PDAs and notebooks will offer only Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but the vast majority will offer both. So while Wi-Fi isn't going to kill off Bluetooth, Bluetooth isn't going to rule the roost either. Both will become equally pervasive in devices, and used for different purposes: Wi-Fi when you're in a hotspot, Bluetooth when you're not - it will hook your device up to the Net via a 3G phone link. How available will hotspots be? If the current mania surrounding the technology is anything to go by, they'll be everywhere. Forrester doesn't agree, and calculates that by 2008 only 7.7 million Europeans will be using public hotspots, 6.2 million of them connecting via a notebook, the remaining 1.5 million via a PDA. Just because a notebook or a PDA has Wi-Fi built in doesn't mean the device's owner will use it. Forrester reckons that nearly a third of Wi-Fi enabled notebooks won't actually be used for wireless networking. Of those that will, the vast majority will be connected to private networks, not public ones. That calls into question the assumptions behind today's hotspot business models, warns Forrester. The question is, will the hotspot business contract - from a geographical perspective (fewer hotspots), as well as in terms of the market size - as the better to cater for the smaller user base that is willing to pay plenty for public Net access? Or will the low cost of Wi-Fi kit persuade them to take a longer term view, focusing on building the widespread coverage needed to make public Wi-Fi access a sufficiently ad hoc activity to attract the broadest base of users - with a low-price business model to match? Today, Forrester favours the former, but we can envisage the latter, coming into play after the bubble has burst. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003
cable

SAP takes the floor

Today, at its annual US Sapphire conference, SAP laid out its roadmap for the coming three to five years, writes Fran Howarth, of Bloor Research. Consolidation was a big theme. But the consolidation that it was mainly talking about related to significant take up of its NetWeaver integrated integration and application platform that was announced in January of this year. This is important for SAP. According to CEO Henning Kagerman, it costs twice as much to consolidate a variety of different technologies than to use just one platform. So has SAP entered the infrastructure market? Is it going to compete with the likes of IBM, BEA or perhaps Microsoft? Kagerman admits that those companies are now both business partners and rivals, but says that SAP has a clear view of where they compete and where they partner - but the joint opportunities are greater that the potential clashes. And why would anyone buy a platform from SAP? Because it makes no sense and is too expensive to run applications on a different infrastructure. But SAP does concede that one of the main benefits that it hopes to gain from combining integration and applications onto one infrastructure will be that it allows the vendor to gain market share in certain markets where it may have a large number of big name customers, but still only holds sway over "10% to 20% of the wallet". In short, it intends to further penetrate its installed base. Some of the other key announcements made show how it intends to do this: The release of CRM 4.0, containing industry-specific functionality enhancements and a new user interface. Although SAP concedes that it still has a lot to do with this product, its aim is to take over the leadership position in CRM and it will continue to invest until it gets there. Supply chain management - SAP states that it is now "comfortable" with this product and has included feedback from customers in the latest release. It is now focusing on the total cost of ownership for the product suite. ERP - taking full advantage of its NetWeaver product, SAP is touting mySAP ERP as the successor to its R/3 product. One key differentiator is that customers can migrate to the product as they want - step-by-step - rather than making another big bang investment. What SAP did not want to talk about was the consolidation that is going on in the enterprise business applications market. "Sapphire is about SAP and its customers", stated Bill Wohl, VP product and solution PR for SAP. SAP did not want to be drawn on the current uncertainty surrounding Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards. But that was not what the press wanted to hear. The Q&A session at the press conference was kicked off with a question about the consolidation of the market and any plans that SAP might have for making acquisitions. Kagerman could almost be heard to groan as he grumbled that he had answered that question three times already. He explained that the market situation was about engendering trust - customers were looking for vendors' ability to deliver on their commitments and to understand the constraints under which the customers were operating. Kagerman reiterated that SAP's strategy had never been to buy market share. He states that SAP is already a larger and more reliable company. Consolidation in the market would not change its competitive position as Oracle and PeopleSoft combined would not even be equal to half of SAP's market share. But at least it would create a clear number two in the market. The only mention that was made of J.D. Edwards throughout the press conference was to hint at the uncertainty that the proposed merger had caused in the market. And it only mentioned the vendor because it was asked about the offer it was making to current or prospective customers of PeopleSoft or J.D. Edwards in a recent newspaper advertising campaign. The offer is one of a free consultation and assessment of the current status in a company compared to its ideal state. According to SAP, "we're here to provide them with choices" and it aims to make migration from older products, such as PeopleSoft 7, to SAP's products as easy as its competitors are promising. And, in a follow-up telesales campaign, the vendor claims that 50% of those responding to calls have asked to arrange appointments with SAP. SAP does not appear to be unduly worried worried about the consolidation of the market. Kagerman's claim at the start of the press conference was that SAP has been gaining ground on its competitors quarter-on-quarter - and that is why those competitors are choosing to consolidate. He stated: "We have no time to play those games. We are focusing on our customers." And they appear to be right: SAP has just taken over the leadership position in the enterprise business applications market in the US. Not bad for a German company? According to SAP, it has invested so heavily in the US that it could almost be a US company. And it is not going to rest on its laurels: its applications are sufficiently mature to be a contender in almost any deal these days and its Net Weaver platform is resounding well with customers and partners. It's prepared to let the others play catch up. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 18 Jun 2003

US hits Hynix with 45% DRAM duty

The US government has begun levying a punitive 44.71 per cent duty on every DRAM product Hynix imports into the country. Hynix CEO E J Woo condemned the imposition of the tariff as an "outrageous act aimed at a hidden agenda". The duty is less than the 57.4 per cent originally suggested by the Department of Commerce after it investigated allegations that Hynix had received $11.7 billion worth of illegal subsidies from the Korean government found the memory maker guilty as charged. By receiving financial support from creditor banks owned in part or wholly by the Korean government, Hynix was in violation of World Trade Organisation regulations, the investigation concluded. Hynix maintains it has done nothing wrong, and is taking the line that it's the victim of a battle between the US and Korean governments. "It was absolutely clear from the facts of this case that these subsidy levels are unjustified and illegal," said Woo in a statement. "The only possible explanation is that the DoC has decided to use this case to pressure the Korean government on the question of economic restructuring." Just because the government still owns shares in some commercial banks, he argues, doesn't mean the activities of those banks amounts to government subsidy. Plenty of banks with no ties to the Korean government participated in the rescue financing that lead to the subsidy claims, he added. Micron would naturally have preferred its troubled rival to have been declared bankrupt, and there's no doubt that its initial complaint to the DoC was made because Hynix was not allowed to collapse. Woo said such a US-style approach - just letting the company go under - was not "the way to handle troubled companies. Most of the world, like Korea, tries to use creditor-led workouts to avoid unnecessary bankruptcies, which often lead to liquidation and huge economic dislocation". Hynix is attempting to get the tariff quashed, or at least significantly reduced, by appealing to the US International Trade Commission. The ITC can reduce the duty if it can be shown that domestic memory makers - specifically Micron, the US memory maker that first asked the DoC to investigate Hynix - were not harmed by Hynix's subsidies. The ITC will hold a hearing next week to look into the matter, but a decision is not expected until late July or early August, Reuters reports. ® Related Stories Europe slaps 33% duty on Hynix DRAM imports South Korea asks US to kill Hynix import tariff US hits Hynix with 57% import duty
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

Sony preps ZeroConf-style Bluetooth tech

Bluetooth must become much easier to use if consumers are to adopt the wireless connectivity technology - that's a belief widely held by members of the Bluetooth community. Now Sony reckons it has the solution. The Japanese giant this week revealed a new technology, dubbed Feel, which allows Bluetooth devices to connect instantaneously. The software sits on top of the standard Bluetooth protocol stack to provide a better user experience, Sony said. Demonstrating Feel at the Bluetooth World Congress in Amsterdam, Sony said the technology would allow devices to detect and connect to each other immediately, and begin transferring data. Essentially, the technology works like Apple's Rendezvous, itself based on the work done to leverage standards like Multicast DNS by the ZeroConf Networking Group within the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Rendezvous allows networked devices to register with each other, automatically broadcasting and discovering what services each is offering for the use of others and effectively configuring a local IP network without user intervention. Similarly, Feel frees users from having to pair devices and enter device key codes and the like, all of which is sufficient to put off all but the most adventurous consumers from trying Bluetooth. Unlike Rendezvous, Feel is purely proprietary, though Sony said it is willing to license the technology under commercial terms. However, that may limit the technology to Sony devices. "As long as the technology remains proprietary, chances of its success are zero," said Paul Marino, general manager of business line connectivity at Philips Semiconductors, according to a CommsDesign report. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

10 ISPs hit by ADSL power failure

Monday's power failure in Ealing which led to broadband services going titsup hit ten ISPs and not just BT Openworld, BT Wholesale confirmed today. Although BT OhIdoliketobebesidetheseaside was the worst affected, punters of other ISPs (Demon and PlusNet are thought to be among those hit) were also hit by the outage. A spokesman for BT Wholesale played down the scale of the problem, saying that 12,000 people were left without ADSL following the incident. He added that the electrical failure was resolved within the hour. One reader who contacted El Reg was told by tech support that BT Openwoe's ADSL service was "down for half the country" on Monday afternoon hitting both home and business users. ® Related Story Power failure leads to BTo blackout
Tim Richardson, 18 Jun 2003

‘JavaServer Pages Developers Handbook’ at 30 per cent off

Site OfferSite Offer This week's featured offering from Reg associate IT-minds.com is a comprehensive developers guide to building applications with JavaServer Pages 2.0. JavaServer Pages Developers Handbook gives practical, in-depth implementation advice on building robust JSP applications. Learn how to use JSP within enterprise Java applications, and when working with databases and Enterprise JavaBeans. Incorporate JSP tag libraries and frameworks, including Struts, to simplify page construction. This book covers JSP 2.0 and Servlets 2.4 including the expression language, filters, and expanded support for XML in JSP applications. As ever, this headline title is available to Register readers at £25.55 - a saving of 30 per cent. Also available this week with 30 per cent off are: Sams Teach Yourself Red Hat Linux 9 in 24 Hours Mac OS X Security Text Processing in Python ASP.NET Developer's Cookbook Intrusion Detection with Snort SAP Planning: Best Practices in Implementation MCSA/MCSE Implementing and Administering Security in a Windows 2000 Network Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-214) MCSE Training Guide (70-217): Windows 2000® Active Directory Services Infrastructure The Unusually Useful Web Book
Team Register, 18 Jun 2003

Guardian promotes spam in article attacking spam

A Guardian article attacking the latest spammer tactics gives out mixed messages about the junk mail menace. Although the article condemns the emerging practice among lowlife spammers of commandeering home PCs using Trojans to send out porno email, links at the bottom of the article helpfully point to a firm that sells email address lists. Oh the irony. MarketingFile, a Guardian affiliate, is an entirely reputable company. But MarketingFile director Chris Luveys is unable to give firm guarantees that all the consumer email lists (26 lists - 6.3 million records for the UK, 10 lists - 51.8 million records for the US) it resells contain verified opt-in addresses only. Luveys said MarketingFile, whose main business is direct advertising using post or fax, only resells the email lists of "half a dozen suppliers" all of which operate an opt-in policy. Although Luveys tells us MarketingFile is very careful about suppliers, he admits that since it is only a reseller it "can't be there to ensure" all the addresses are pukka. With more than 57 million emails addresses in question here, you really have to wonder. Quizzed about the impact of new direct marketing legislation, Luveys expressed the hope the legislation will bring more companies in line with best practice and make it more difficult - at least theoretically - for rogue firms to operate. ®
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

Handspring outs Treo 600

Handspring is set to unveil its new Treo 600, a slimmed-down version of its combined phone and organiser, expected to sell in Europe and the US later this year. The company, which is in the process of being acquired by industry rival Palm, is aiming at the enterprise market with the Treo 600 line, a smaller, more phone-like device than the earlier model, the Treo 300. Handspring sales slipped badly during 2002, but the company is now hoping to wow consumers with a host of new features, including picture caller ID, and it is also working more closely with mobile network operators to customise the device for their needs. Handspring is working with Sprint in the US and Orange in Europe to distribute the Treo 600, which abandons the flip-phone design of past models. In addition to featuring a smaller form factor, the device has an expansion slot for portable memory and it includes a built-in camera. The picture caller ID function means the phone will display a stored image of the incoming caller, if available, instead of just the caller's name or phone number. The operating system is Palm OS 5, running on an ARM processor, and Handspring says the device has longer battery life, a better colour display and an on-board Web browser that can cope with JavaScript-enabled Web sites. More details of the phone are expected in a company announcement today. Handspring has indicated that the Treo 600 will sell at a premium to the current line; industry watchers expect a price point of between $400 and $500, with phones available in the US and Europe by late autumn or early winter. Palm announced plans to purchase Handspring in early June in a stock deal worth around USD169 million, and the two companies are hoping to save around USD25 million by consolidating their manufacturing facilities and other operations. The acquisition announcement came as Handspring has been coping with a downward slide in its fortunes: in March its third-quarter net loss increased nearly five-fold over the same period in 2002 to more than USD90 million, and the company saw its once-popular devices lose favour with the market throughout 2002. According to worldwide PDA shipment figures from Gartner Dataquest, Handspring's shipments collapsed during 2002, plummeting 49 percent over 2001 to just 700,000 units. The company will be hoping its Treo 600 line can achieve a reversal of fortune for Handspring. ® Handspring Treo 600 sneak peek press release
ElectricNews.net, 18 Jun 2003

PC builder takes 419ers for £171

If you're as tired as we are of looking at the heavens with boggle-eyed disbelief that yet another half-wit has been taken to the cleaners by Nigerian advance fee fraudsters, then take heart at the following story. It recounts how Clinton of Best Price Computers not only led the scamming ne'er-do-wells well and truly up the garden path, but also took them for £171. A modest amount, to be sure, but it's a start. Read on: I had an email from Ajibola. I'd never heard of him but he learnt that I was a trustworthy person and he wanted my help to get some money out of Nigeria. Poor guy, his entire family was killed and the money was all he had. He very generously promised me 10% of fifteen million US$ for my help. You can't get fairer than that. We had several long discussions via email. We also exchanged a lot of confidences. I told him about how I worked for a computer company and that I wasn't a rich man. He told me how God fearing he was and about how often he went to church. We were becoming good friends. To my bad luck the deal fell through. Ajibola needed $1500 to pay the bank a bribe, and I don't really have $1500 to spare. It's really a shame. And he was such a nice chap. We were even addressing each other as "brother", we had become that close. I kept worrying about poor Ajibola's situation. He had all this money that he wanted to get out of Nigeria. Surely, I could find some way to help my brother. It kept bothering me. Till I had this brilliant idea. I worked for a PC company that sold expensive PCs. What if he bought PCs with those funds? OK, maybe it wasn't such a brilliant idea, but I put it to him anyway. He liked it. Apparently he's got all these sterling cheques & they would be ideal to pay for the goods. We could ship the goods to his UK contact. So we agreed a first transaction for ten of our top PCs. He sent me a cheque for £25,427 which arrived exactly as promised. (This guy really does keep his word). Unfortunately, his UK contact does need the goods urgently and they can't wait for the cheque to clear. It is a lot of money but I know I can trust Ajibola. After all, he’s a very God fearing man. Accordingly we agreed to ship the PCs urgently for delivery last week. It’s a sad fact of life that things never go smoothly when you really want them to. There was a mix-up with the courier! (Personally, I don't think the couriers tried hard enough. We even asked the police to accompany them to lead them to the address, but the police were too busy). This is a nuisance because we’ve got to charge £145 + VAT to re-attempt delivery of this 400 Kg consignment. I know it's not fair to ask Ajibola for this. It's not his fault. It’s just that my "boss" is away at the moment and I can arrange the re-delivery only if I get £170.38. It's company procedure. The best I can do is take it off his next order. I think this upset him a bit and I had to smooth his ruffled feathers via email. He had this idea that we ship nine of the PCs and hold one back as "security" for the £170. That really offended me. How can he think that I don't trust him? I explained that it wasn't a matter of security. It’s that dreaded company red tape and the only person who can waive that charge is the boss who's on holiday. Of course we could wait for the boss to return next week to authorise the re-delivery. By that time the cheque would have cleared as well! And we'd all be happy. But Ajibola reminded me that this delivery was urgent. He therefore arranged a payment of £:171 to our account by TT. The bank confirmed that this was received today and I was about to ship the goods when the bank added that the original £:25,427 cheque bounced. Oh dear, oh dear, this does throw a spanner in the works. I know it's just some technicality. I mean, Ajibola is good for $15,000,000.00. That's a lot of 0s! £:25K is small change to him. But £:25K is a lot to us. My only option now is to hold on to these goods till Ajibola pays the remaining £:25,256. It is a nuisance. This time I'll ask him to wait till the cheque has cleared. Not that I don’t trust him or anything, it’s just company procedure when a cheque has bounced. I'm sure Ajibola will understand. After all, we are family. Marvellous. Don't feel too sorry for poor old Ajibola, though. By our reckoning, he still has around $14,999,750.00 in the coffers, if only he can find a trustworthy and God-fearing partner to help him liquidate it... ®
Lester Haines, 18 Jun 2003

XML shows promise, but …

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is everywhere, writes Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. It's the basis of the new middleware, Web Services. It's the format of choice for both Microsoft's new Office products and .NET services. And every Java vendor worth their salt is working with it. Indeed, IBM's program director for emerging e-business standards group, Steve Holbrook, says, "XML is the most important protocol since HTML." Strong words, but he's not the only one who sees it that way. XML use is growing, fast. Gartner predicts that the amount of XML data in corporations will grow from about 2 percent in 2000 to 60 percent by 2004. Exact numbers are hard to come by though, since, as Ronald Schmelzer, analyst for ZapThink, an XML research house, says, "XML is so persuasive that it's already everywhere. Eventually, it will even be in dishwashers." Gartner analysts say that three broad business applications are driving XML usage: enterprise application integration (EAI), extranet data interchange, and Web services. It drives these applications because XML provides developers with an easy-to-use, universal middleware for network applications. Universal data interchange has long been the Holy Grail for network programmers and XML looks to finally deliver it. Alan Zeichick, editor in chief of SD Times, a software development newspaper, explains that XML has become "increasingly attractive as the first serious cross-platform and cross-application document format. The use of XML as a common denominator, when coupled with its self-describing attributes, makes it irresistible for solving new data-sharing problems. The only real competitor to XML is SQL, and when coupled together (i.e., SQL query, XML results), it's wonderful." How wonderful is it really? But according to some, it's not wonderful at all. XML and its close relatives Web Services come with three major problems: fat, bandwidth-eating formats, poor security, and high server loads. All these issues are addressable, but don't fool yourself. XML may easy to write, but it could prove hard, very hard, to deploy successfully. Many industry figures, like Steve Vinoski, Iona's chief architect and vice president of platform technologies, are worried about Web services performance. The main reason is that XML, unlike less popular, older binary-based interoperability standards like CORBA's Internet Inter-ORB Protocol (IIOP) and Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model DCOM), is text-based, which means that data transmitted in XML format is bulky. How much bulkier than binary? Schmelzer says XML formatting can fatten up a file by as much as 10 to 20 times. That's a lot of bytes to transfer even at Gigabit Ethernet speeds. And that's before the Extensible Style Language (XSL) baggage is included. All XML data is transmitted with an XSL file. This file, according to David A. E. Wall, chief software architect for Yozons, "specifies how to transform the data you provided into the corresponding HTML. Arguably, the XSL will also be bigger than the HTML you show because of the statements that select the corresponding data elements from the XML, so both the XML and the XSL individually will be bigger than the original HTML alone. Of course, the XML data is much more useful to a program than the HTML, but the HTML is much more useful to a human looking at the data." The size problem doesn't stop there. Wall goes on to say that, if your XML data format -- not the content -- is to be validated, then you will need a document type definition (DTD), and if you want additional validation capabilities, you need an XML Schema file. These must also be accessible in order to validate the data format, again increasing the amount of information to be transferred with the XML data. While schema validation is nice, it also means that each version of the schema must be managed over time, as all schemas tend to change over time, yet the data in the various XML transfers over time each need to be kept with the corresponding schema (or DTD) that matched it at that time. All this means that sending 1K of data could take up to 30K, or more, of space. This in turn puts a terrible burden on network throughput. How much of a burden? Schmelzer comments that "XML is not very efficient from a processing, network, or storage" standpoint, and that its use is growing. By 2006, he says, XML traffic alone may reach 25% of corporate network traffic. One way of dealing with this network load is to use XML accelerators. For example, DataPower Technology uses LZW to compress XML data streams to reduce network traffic. DataPower's director of product management, Kieran Taylor, explains, "XML is text-based and verbose, and this creates several performance bottlenecks. Parsing data, transforming data, and processing XML in the application server costs a lot in terms of MIPS." Thus the market for XML accelerators is born. Other companies, like F5, Forum Systems and Sarvega are also in this market. But XML accelerators can't solve XML's entire weight problem. Wall explains that since "XML is a textual data format, that means lots of conversions need to take place. To add two numbers sent via XML, the receiver would have to parse the XML, convert the string numbers into integers or floating point numbers, perform the arithmetic, and then convert the answer back into a string. This also has to take place for dates and times if they will be used in a computation (i.e. add 7 days to a value, or check if a date is later than another date), and issues about time zones all rear their ugly heads. Also, most binary data is converted to BASE64, meaning that every three bytes of the source is converted to four characters, a 33% expansion in data's size, not including of the overhead of the tags themselves." This, of course, puts a strain on the server, which must store, translate, and process the XML. Yet another problem is that there's no way to pull out a single string of data, say the contents of a field, from an XML document without having to retrieve and parse the entire document. There already are, for better or worse, databases like Software AG's Tamino that store data in XML format, but even on today's RAM-crammed, 2GHz processors, they aren't going to be fast. Even XML supporters confess to its performance problems. Microsoft XML Web services project manager Philips DesAutels admits that "there's a cost to everything," and that the cost for XML-SOAP-based Web services is performance. Still, from where he sits, with XML, "you trade performance for highly flexible protocols." Security? In addition to storage and performance issues, XML has a real security problem -- it doesn't have any. Many companies, including Entrust, Microsoft, RSA Security, VeriSign, and webMethods, have tried to layer encryption and digital signatures on top of XML. Their efforts haven't gone far. Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and others are working together in the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) to promote the creation of Web Services standards, including WS-Security, which is now being developed by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). But even WS-Security, probably the most mature security XML element in play, can't do the job by itself. It needs to be implemented with X.509 certificates, which in turn need a public key infrastructure (PKI). Other efforts, like OASIS' Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), an XML framework for exchanging authentication and authorization information, are also works in progress. All this bodes well for the future, none of the projects are really ready to deploy. So, if you want to secure Web services today, you must look to server- and client-side encryption like Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which will at least hide XML communications over the network. But SSL comes with its own burden. Multiple SSL sessions take up substantial processor time and add yet another layer of data to already bursting-at-the-seams XML files. DesAutels points out that SSL can also eat up server/client processor time, since with each transaction "you're taking SSL up and down." Identification and authentication might be an even bigger security problem with XML. Can you tell who's asking for XML data? Is the requester entitled to do it? To make authentication work properly you have to implement an enterprise directory service based on Microsoft's Active Directory, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) or Novell's eDirectory, and get them to work with your applications. If you want to extend directory services beyond your local intranet to the Internet, you have to adopt the seriously flawed Microsoft Passport or the unproven Project Liberty. Of course the use of SSL complicates working with directory services as well. If your message is secured it first has to be deciphered to see if the sending person or program has the proper rights to access data. If it turns out that they don't, you've just wasted more processing time. XML conclusions Put it all together and it becomes clear that processors that work with native XML are going to be overwhelmed. XML and SSL accelerators will become a necessity. Authentication engines might also be called for. And even with their aid, you'd be well advised to give servers running XML application servers every bit of RAM and MHz you can lay your hands on. They'll need it. The bottom line is that while XML makes a fine transfer format and provides the basis for extremely easy cross-network programming, it is in no way a miracle cure for your programming ills. To make XML, and the Web services based upon it, work, you must be ready to devote extremely powerful hardware resources, from high-speed networks to high-powered servers, to your efforts. Successful XML programming may be easy, but successful XML deployment will be hard. © Newsforge.com Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor in chief and resident cyber cynic of Practical Technology.

HP preps 1.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 PC

HP has begun building PCs based on AMD's upcoming Athlon 64 processor. One machine, the model t182k, is detailed in a support document uncovered on HP's web site. it's not hard to find. We hopped over to hp.com, did a search on 'Athlon64' and up popped a link to the PDF almost immediately. The t182k features an Athlon 64 3100+ running at 1.8GHz with 1MB of on-die L2 cache. It utilises VIA's 8KT400M chipset with 10/100Mbps Ethernet, one 1394 connector, five USB 2.0 ports and six-channel AC97 audio. The machine contains 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM. There's an 80GB hard drive, 48x CD-RW drive and a DVD-ROM drive. It's got an AGP 4x graphics card based on an Nvidia GeForce 4 MX 440 chip with 128MB of DDR frame buffer RAM. And there's a built-in six-in-one card reader. The PDF was prepared on 29 April, which is probably around the time the box was put together, presumably for internal testing. The Athlon 64 isn't due to be launched until late September, so at the very least the PDF indicates that AMD has been sending out samples of the chip. As such, the chip's 3100+ performance may represent the lower end of the final Athlon 64 performance range. With the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 due next week, AMD will have to play the performance card, particularly since the chip's 64-bit compatibility, which AMD will also tout, will appeal more to speed-hungry buyers than mainstream customers. So it's a fair bet that the chip's specs. will have changed by the time the official launch comes round, in three months' time. Equally, there's no guarantee that HP will offer an Athlon 64-based box, though having already offered Athlon XP-based PCs under both the HP and the Compaq brand, it's easy to imagine that the company will also ship kit running the 64. ® Related Link HP.Com's Athlon64 support document (PDF)
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

Powergen denies ties with powergenitalia

There's been much hooting and sniggering in the last couple of days following reports of the curiously-named "powergenitalia.com". So has someone at the giant energy company's Italian division messed up by registering this Web site? It seems not. A spokesman for PowerGen told us: "This site has nothing to do with us at all. We don't even have an Italian division." Ah well, funny all the same. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jun 2003

Finns develop motion-controlled cellphone UI

Finnish mobile phone developer MyOrigo has launched what it claims is "an entirely new concept" for mobile phones: a book-like user interface that can also be controlled by the motion of the user's hand. The technology is incorporated into MyDevice, the company's reference platform, a prototype handset that provides tri-band GSM and GPRS connections, along with text and multimedia messaging - there's a built in camera and integrated MP3 player - and Internet access for e-mail and web browsing. It supports SyncML and USB for PDA-style data synchronisation, and there's an SD/MMC slot for memory expansion. The platform is based on the Tao Group's Intent multimedia-oriented, programming language-independent operating system, which also equips MyDevice with Java 2 support. On top of all this sits the user interface. It's book-like in the sense that touching the screen and dragging your finger from right to left turns 'pages' of the user interface just like the pages of a book. We've seen this kind of thing before, but this is the first time on a cellphone. Other user interface operations, such as scrolling and zooming, are performed not with a stylus but by tilting and rotating the device. MyDevice's web browser displays the page at full size - by tilting the screen towards the bottom right, the screen scrolls in the opposite direction, exposing the bottom right corner of the page. Rotating the screen through 90 degrees cause the image to be redrawn at that angle, going from a portrait view to landscape. The screen itself is touch-sensitive, but MyOrigo claims it responds to the user's touch. Borrowing techniques uncovered in virtual reality research, the company has engineered the screen to display a QWERTY keyboard whose virtual keys feels like real ones when you're typing an email. The company says it's already working with Telefonica in Spain, and hopes to announce further deals with other European telcos in due course. Unsubsidised, direct-to-user sales are due to kick off in the UK in the autumn, later in other territories. We should say that for all of this we only have MyOrigo's word. As a concept it sounds interesting - how it operates in practice may be another matter. And we've seen plenty of would-be mobile device players who've come along with clever ideas only to see them largely fail to take the market by storm - or even at all - largely because they weren't Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Siemens or Motorola. However, we've requested a demo, and we'll let you know how it went in due course. In the meantime, you can read (a little) more here. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

Whalesong-driven rebranding madness spreads to Spain

LogoWatchLogoWatch Well, despite the best efforts of the Spanish, it appears that the highly-infectious tendency to compose florid eulogies to corporate logos while listening to whalesong and engulfed in a joss-stick fuelled haze has crossed the Bay of Biscay and now threatens to ravage the entire Iberian Peninsula. The first reported case comes from Barcelona, where albertis has succumbed to the deadly scourge. The company - which incorporates a provocative } as part of its logo - apparently manages more than 1,500 kilometres of motorways and 100,000 car parking spaces. In promoting these logistic spaces, it has projects up and running and future projects for over 470 hectares of lands to offer companies and logistics operators, in privileged locations such as the Mediterranean and in the North and South of Spain. No, we're none the wiser either. However, it's a little rich to poke fun at the linguistic deficiencies of our European neighbours when the best the average holidaying Brit can offer is "Oi Pedro un beero y fish y chips pronto por favori". That being said, if your command of the English language is a bit shaky, you really shouldn't try and tackle the advanced Strategy Boutique dialect, thus: The abertis corporate identity is formed by the union of two intrinsically linked elements: the name, abertis, and its graphic expression, the key. abertis comes from the concept of opening, from the Latin aperio, to open doors or new paths. abertis opens to new business perspectives, all related to infrastructures for personal mobility, goods and information. The name abertis and the graphic development of the brand transmit the objective of the business group to manage communications infrastructures with quality, to the benefit of people and in harmony with the territory. The abertis trademark must be associated with a value of permanence, a reflection of the vocation to last in time, to be involved in the management, to be part of the territory and invest in the long term. Oh dear, oh dear. For the record, here is that last paragraph in both Castillian and Catalan, as rendered on the company's multi-lingual website: La marca abertis debe asociarse a un valor de permanencia, reflejo de la vocación de perdurar en el tiempo, de implicarse en la gestión, vincularse al territorio e invertir a largo plazo. La marca abertis s'ha d'associar a un valor de permanència, reflex de la vocació de perdurar en el temps, d'implicar-se en la gestió, de vincular-se al territori i d'invertir a llarg termini. And there you have it. Can we now look forward to rioting French farmers blockading channel ports in a desperate attempt to prevent their own beloved native tongue being decimated by this madness? It seems inevitable. ® Bootnote Big up respect to reader Jason Paul Kazarian for spotting this lovely example of corporate hocus-pocus.
Lester Haines, 18 Jun 2003

NetSec scoops up Defcom

London-based security consultancy Defcom Information Security has been bought out of administration by US managed security services firm NetSec. Financial terms of the deal, announced today, were not disclosed. The newly acquired business will operate under the name of NetSec, and continue to deliver professional security services (e.g. penetration testing) to its European customers. These includes FTSE 100 organisations in the financial, insurance, manufacturing and government markets. It will also offer NetSec's portfolio of vulnerability and event management services. Other managed security services, most notably Counterpane, have launched European offices only to retrench to the States and rely more on channel partners this side of the Atlantic. NetSec reckons competitors' European expansion plans were premature, but the time is now right for the market to expand in Europe. Defcom was placed in administrative receivership earlier this month after its major financial backer, a private equity firm, declined to put more money into its business. David Howarth, head of sales and business development at NetSec newly-established London offices and previously with Defcom, said that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with its business. Defcom has been reselling NetSec's services for the last year nand this relationship paved the way for the deal. The founders of NetSec came out of the US intelligence agency community and there's a match in corporate cultures between it and Defcom, we're told. Howarth was reluctant to discuss whether thee had been any redundancies due to Defcom's spell in administrative receivership. Informed sources tell us a number of pen testers and a sales exec have recently left the firm, however Howarth said that the "core team of the company remains intact". NetSec UK will employ 14 people with as yet unnamed managing director due to come over from the States to run the firm's London operation shortly. ® Related Stories Defcom goes titsup Symantec buys SecurityFocus, Riptech, Recourse
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

Mac accessory e-tailer hires Yoda as blurb writer

Owners of Apple's 12in PowerBook G4 who've become fed up with the notebook's ability to get very hot indeed in the region of its hard drive - underneath the left-hand side of the wrist rest - may be interested in this little offering from online retailer NewColorShop.com. It appears to be a mat that's fixed onto the wrist rest and offers to end singed-palm misery for good. Or so we guess - it's very difficult to tell from the product's write-up: "Fusing the material which is superior heat-insulating uses the material and the super superfine origin thread which had self adsorbability. With the appropriate thickness, 1.5mm the stroke impression and feeling good touch heat-insulating compatibility. Do not use the paste and the tape and peel, angle rub cleanly you do not give. To administer also photocatalyst processing, be superior in the anti-bacterial going out bad-smelling performance." A bizarre translation from an original Far Eastern tongue, we guess, but there's nothing on NewColorShop's site to indicate where it's based, though its Ts&Cs suggest that it operates out of the US. Other product entries, including a kind of roller-skate for G4 towers (makes it easier to move along the floor, apparently) and a screen protector for the 15in PowerBook, seem to be written in English, the language of the customers the site is obviously targeting. Other gems include: "When raising Apple Pro Mouse, doesn't the finger slide? Above necessity you don't hold down strongly with the finger? You just hold down, it can raise lightly without sliding on the mouse by pasting the mouse gear of this artificial leather make." (Product: Mouse Gear White) "Always because it carries about it is, of the cooling PowerBook was thought seriously. Not only cooling efficiency of fin form and cross section, being convenient to conveyance, COOL it is the cooling fin. Even when sticking to PowerBook, itself placing, itself you can use." (Product: 4 degree for 15 PowerBook - a sort of mini notebook stand) And: "Note the touch where the personal computer is hard is made to forget. Palm the space of rest the dress is raised. Long eitheruse of time does not become pain. It took a second look also the material, became feeling better." (Product: Wrist Pad for 12in PowerBook) This last entry gives the game away, we think. NewColourShop.com's copywriter is none other than Yoda, no doubt moonlighting from his day job as Jedi Master. "PowerPC 970 of IBM Power Macs next week you must launch, padwan Steve..." ®
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

Law Society of Scotland buys ‘cybersquatter’ domain (redux)

The Law Society of Scotland has just been confirmed as the new owner of Lawscot.co.uk, five days after it branded our story that revealed it has paid £10,000 for the domain "inaccurate". The Law Society has been chasing the previous owner of the generic domain, Tommy Butler, through its own law courts to take hold of the domain, insisting that he was infringing its rights and the trademark that it took out after he initially refused to hand it over to them. The case was due to return to court for a second time on Friday 13 June but was cancelled, we revealed, after the Law Society handed over a £10,000 cheque for the domain - an interesting move considering it had turned down a £500 offer just a year earlier and had spent thousands of pounds bringing Mr Butler to court. Mr Butler's refusal to sign any form of non-disclosure agreement meant for the first time that we were able to accurately report this particular aspect of the case. Nevertheless, within hours, The Law Society responded to media calls for comment by saying our story was inaccurate. In a press statement on its website (since removed from the main news page but still currently available on the Internet), it stated: "The report about an ongoing action between the Law Society of Scotland and Mr Butler concerning a domain name in The Register website is inaccurate. The case has not yet settled. It has been continued for settlement and is therefore sub judicae. The Society is endeavouring to settle the action and believes that it is taking a pragmatic view on resolving a case in the best interests of all concerned." Considering that was Friday 13 June and that Nominet takes between one and two days to process a domain ownership change, the fact that it has gone through the system today and the Whois for Lawscot.co.uk shows the Law Society of Scotland, would suggest either that our article was entirely accurate or that it prompted a sudden and immediate decision on the part of the Law Society to use the cheque it had written out a week before for buying the domain. We would like to think the latter, but sadly, we feel the other is true. So, now that the Law Society's pragmatic view has been decided and the settlement is no longer sub judicae, others are free to report the story. Perhaps the Society would like to provide a public statement as to why it spent so long and so much money chasing a domain when it is clear that a court of law would not rule in its favour. ® Related story Law Society of Scotland pays £10K to 'cybersquatter' for domain Related links Law Society press statement LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND STATEMENT ON DOMAIN NAME DISPUTE SETTLEMENT (update)
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Jun 2003

Cracker spills the beans on PDF flaw

A confidential security alert from security clearing house CERT has once again been leaked onto a full disclosure mailing list ahead of schedule. The premature disclosure of information on security risks involving PDF files on *nix platforms comes after a spate of similarly leaked alerts back in March, including information about a vulnerability involving the Kerberos security protocol. Once again an anonymous grey hat hacker/cracker, calling himself Hack4Life, is responsible for spilling the beans. Hack4Life posted a report of the flaw on a full disclosure mailing list last Friday ten days ahead of a planned release by CERT pencilled in for Monday, June 23. He also emailed journalists, including Register staffers, to publicise his exploits. Hack4Life's motives remain unclear but general mischief, publicity seeking and an attempt to gain kudos in the digital underground seem to underlie his actions. The leaked information contains an initial assessment of the vulnerability by Ohio-based security researcher Martyn Gilmore, who discovered the problem, which CERT had sent to vendors potentially affected by the issue. This alert warns that "PDF files can contain malicious external-type hyperlinks that can execute arbitrary shell commands underneath Unix with various PDF viewers/readers." "The hyperlinks must be activated or followed for the malicious script to run," the report adds. The vulnerability could allow arbitrary shell commands to be executed on *nix boxes and is therefore potentially serious. Adobe Acrobat 5.06 and open-source reader Xpdf 1.01 are among the products affected, according to the report. However, according to this early report, the vulnerability has not been coded up into script kiddie-friendly exploit. Workarounds and/or fixes to address the vulnerability are yet to be produced and can't come a moment too soon. ® Related Stories Conspiracy theories abound in security mailing list launch Kerberos bug bites
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

Infighting killed Sony's first games handheld

PlayStation Portable (PSP) is not the first time that Sony has developed a handheld gaming system, it has emerged, with a Japanese business publication revealing details of the company's one-time plans to release a portable platform in 2000. According to the report, which appeared on the Nikkei BP news service, a project called "ET Project" was undertaken at Sony headquarters (as opposed to Sony Computer Entertainment) in late 1998, aimed at creating a portable console for release in 2000. The project came incredibly close to fruition - with prototype units completed and several key developers, including Square and Capcom, working on software for the launch. However, at the last minute, SCE boss Ken Kutaragi convinced Sony president Kunitake Ando that the time was not right to launch a portable device, and the project was cancelled. The ET Project device was a handheld gaming console roughly the same size as Nintendo's original GBA, and came with a colour LCD screen and a Memory Stick slot for loading games onto the device. Interestingly, Sony planned for Memory Sticks to be reusable in the console - gamers would be able to load new games onto their Memory Sticks at special kiosks in shops for a fee. Perhaps more interesting than the hardware specs of the system (although it's certainly interesting to speculate over its possible impact on the success of the GBA) is the political wrangling within Sony over the project. Given the high regard Ken Kutaragi is held in at Sony nowadays (he is regularly tipped as a future president or CEO of the company), it's hard to imagine any gaming project taking place outside his control, but it would appear that the ET Project was not just housed outside his department, Sony Computer Entertainment, but was actively hidden from SCE by its mentors, CEO Nobuyuki Idei and president Kunitake Ando. One explanation for this bizarre move comes down to simple office politics, according to a source within Sony quoted in the Nikkei report. "One core member of this project was an SCE technician who returned to Sony after getting in a confrontation with Mr. Kutaragi over the development direction of the portable they released as the PocketStation," he explained. "Looking at it from Mr. Kutaragi's end, he must have felt betrayed by his parent company." Indeed - and it's clear that Kutaragi was swift to kill the project as soon as possible, convincing Ando-san that pouring all of Sony's resources behind the PlayStation 2 was a more important task at the time. As another Sony source quoted in the article mentions, things might have been rather different had Kutaragi been involved from the outset. "The project wouldn't have been stranded if SCE and Sony had worked together on this." © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 18 Jun 2003
DVD it in many colours

Oracle ups Peoplesoft offer to $6.3bn

Oracle has upped its hostile offer for Peoplesoft to $19.50 a share. This values its target at $6.3bn, a whopping $1.2bn higher than its opening shot and a premium of 29 per cent higher than Peoplesoft's closing share price on the day before its bid was announced. According to Peoplesoft, Oracle is simply trying to undermine it with its "atrocious bid", and many analysts seem to buy this argument. We don't: Oracle is playing to win. It is standard tactics in a hostile takeover battle for the bidder to up the ante with an improved offer. Oracle may yet have another bid further down the line. And if Oracle should fail, its "atrocious" tactics will have secured a better deal for JD Edwards shareholders. Peoplesoft has sweetened its formerly all-share offer for JDE with cash, entirely because of Oracle's predatory action. But in Anglo Saxon capitalism, publicly quoted companies are either predators or prey. The threat of hostile takeovers keep company boards on their toes. It is astonishing that this is the first entirely hostile bid for a software company in the US (Lotus caved into IBM in days). Such a cosy club is not good for shareholders. And neither is legal action threatened by Peoplesoft and JDE against Oracle. Let them argue the toss with their shareholders and customers. Oracle's assumption that the enterprise apps world wants suite is shaky. Its plan to migrate the Peoplesoft codebase to Oracle software is audacious, but it's very easy to see the potholes that lie ahead. But if Oracle is prepared and able to stump up enough cash, Peoplesoft shareholders should take the money and run. It's the Oracle shareholders that will pick up the tab, if and when the migration goes West. Oracle's campaign site is here. ® Related Stories PeopleSoft shows J.D. Edwards the money What does consolidation mean for the customers? PeopleSoft sues Oracle after all J.D. Edwards sues Oracle and Ellison Oracle says 'We're flatter than PeopleSoft'
Drew Cullen, 18 Jun 2003

Microsoft's Tanager phone breaches patent too – Sendo

Hugh Brogan, boss of British phone manufacturer Sendo, says that Microsoft is continuing to infringe its patent in Tanager, Redmond's latest smartphone reference design. "We have seen Tanager and yes, we believe that is also infringing," he told us today. However he couldn't say whether Tanager would be embroiled in the litigation that followed the messy divorce between Microsoft and its erstwhile star phone OEM. Earlier this month Brogan indicated that Sendo probably wouldn't sue Tanager OEMs, although the mere threat should be enough to concentrate their minds. Last year, Sendo dramatically announced that it was dumping Microsoft and opting for Nokia's Series 60 platform for its high end smartphones. Litigation filed in Texas by Sendo claims that Microsoft had a "master plan" to cripple the British company, while stealing intellectual property and know-how which ended up in Orange's SPV. The SPV was made by contract manufacturer HTC to a reference design created by Microsoft. Last month Sendo sued Orange claiming the SPV infringed on a Sendo circuit board patent. However in an update Brogan wanted to accentuate the positive. Sendo has made strides into the United States market. "We've got three more phones on the roadmap for this year, including smartphone, and a good roadmap for next year," he told us. Referring to the litigation, he added: "Apart from wanting to right the wrongs that we believe were done to us, apart from that, it's history." Brogan said working with Nokia was a pleasure, and Sendo's own Series 60 smartphone would be distinguished by an attractive software bundle and novel choice of materials. "The User Interface will not be identical," he said. "We have added our own look and feel, and we have both user features and network operator to differentiate us." Nokia unveiled its mass market Series 60 device this week, the 6600, which like Sendo's device is due to ship in the final quarter of this year. The 6600 is very conservatively styled - as our friends at Mobitopia pointed out, it's the first Series 60 to have a conventional keypad - so there's plenty of room for creative thinking. Although he admits that last year "things were very difficult", Brogan says that Nokia has not made a cash injection into the company. Helped by two new models recently, including a colour clamshell, Sendo was showing month on month revenue growth of thirty per cent. A hearing is scheduled for next month with Microsoft pressing to move the case from Texas to Redmond. Brogan was pleased with the loyalty of developers, who have stayed with Sendo despite its move from Microsoft to Nokia/Symbian. Perhaps they're simply following the market: Nokia this week reaffirmed that it aimed to ship 10 million Series 60 phones this year, not far off the 10-12 million units shipped in the PDA market. ® Related Stories Microsoft's masterplan to screw phone partner - full details Sendo sues Orange over MS SPV smartphone IP
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jun 2003

FindWhat.com buys Espotting for $163m

US pay-per-click outfit - FindWhat.com - has coughed up $163m (£97m) to buy UK-based performance-based marketing outfit Espotting Media. The deal - made of 8.1 million in shares, $27m in cash and some other odds and sods - has been approved by both boards and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Both sides claim the deal is good news since it will give the newly merged operation access to both the US and European markets helping to create a "significant international group in the paid listings sector". Once completed, the combined group will provide services to around 40,000 advertisers and is expected to generate combined revenues of more than $140 million in 2003. Looking ahead, the number crunchers reckon the merged business could achieve a growth in revenue of between 30-40 per cent in 2004. In a statement Craig Pisaris-Henderson, chairman and CEO of FindWhat.com, said: "We believe this announcement changes the landscape of the paid listings industry, creating a new international leader. "The proposed merger intends to capitalise on both companies' experience in serving advertisers and distribution partners of all sizes, across the widest geographic footprint in our sector," he said. Despite all the big plans, it's not known what the new name of the company might be. Espotting was formed in February 2000 and has operations in a number of European countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. FindWhat.com was created in March 1998 and became a publicly-traded company in June 1999. ®
Tim Richardson, 18 Jun 2003

Oracle, Peoplesoft stumble in ERP market

Oracle and Peoplesoft may be locked in mortal combat, but they have something in common. Both saw their share of the Worldwide Enterprise Resource Planning market fall in 2002. Worse, their market share fell against a backdrop of a sector decline of nine per cent in new license revenues from $5.5bn to $5bn for the year. The market would have suffered an even more serious decline, except for the strength of the euro, Gartner says. Oracle, the No. 2 ERP company behind mighty SAP, fell from 7.9 per cent in 2001 to 7 per cent of license revenues in 2002, according to Gartner. Peoplesoft suffered just as much, tumbling from 7.6 per cent to 6.5 per cent. SAP meanwhile grew share from 24.7 per cent to 25.1 per cent. Sage and Microsoft both improved share of new license revenues, pulling in 5.4 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively. This may reflect their strength in financial software, which declined the least of all the ERP categories tracked by Gartner. The worst affected sectors were manufacturing and human capital management (HCM) which fell 12 per cent and 10 per cent in revenue in 2002. Could this explain the Peoplesoft fall in market share? Question is, are the sectoral declines temporary or structural? In the Gartner ERP licence revenue league table, others (i.e. from sixth place down) accounted for 51.1 per cent market share in 2002, up from 50.3 per cent in 2002. Clearly the message about software industry consolidation has yet to filter through to the customers. ® Related stories SAP takes the floor Oracle ups Peoplesoft offer to $6.3bn
Drew Cullen, 18 Jun 2003

Fujitsu Siemens wins £2m server gig at Manchester Uni

Fujitsu Siemens has won a £2 million contract to supply the University of Manchester with servers as part of an ambitious server consolidation project ahead of a major expansion to the uni's student population next year. The PRIMEPOWER SPARC-based UNIX servers and Intel-based PRIMERGY servers will provide networked e-mail, personal file storage and back-up to service the needs of the northern University's 33,000 staff and students. Fujitsu Siemens says the project will allow the University to reduce number of e-mail servers from 60 to six, with an estimated cost savings of more than 50 per cent along with improved reliability and round the clock availability. Which is nice. The overall system comprises a server cluster running the Oracle Collaboration Suite email package, a Storage Area Network fabric and storage array from EMC Corporation, and a tape library system from StorageTEK. The server cluster will includes three PRIMEPOWER PW-650 servers, two PRIMERGY T850 eight-way systems and two PRIMERGY R450 servers. Fujitsu Siemens Computers has also supplied 18 Intel-based PRIMERGY servers to enhance the University's existing NetWare-based networking systems. Manchester University is merging with UMIST (the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) in the autumn next year. Staff and students at UMIST will be migrated to the new system during the merger process, which will swell user numbers to by 10,000 to 43,000. ® Related Stories Fujitsu Siemens banks on *nix, mobile and the channel Brit computing hero dies Mafia steals IT kit from UK universities
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

US Senator would destroy MP3 traders' PCs

The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah), thinks it would be a fabulous idea if copyright owners could remotely destroy computers that contain pirated material, the Associated Press reports. "I'm all for destroying their machines," Hatch said during a Committee hearing Tuesday. "'If you have a few hundred thousand of those, I think people would realize' the seriousness of their actions," the wire service quotes him as saying. This would involve creating new legislation to exempt copyright owners from old-fashioned laws that make it a crime to destroy other people's property, and from somewhat newer computer trespass and misuse statutes as well. Such legislation would be in line with US Representative Howard Berman (Democrat, California) and his vision of allowing copyright owners and their agents to hack computer systems where copyright violations might be going on. Hatch would simply take it a bit further, permitting copyright owners to take overtly malicious action. While there may soon be an excuse for willful destruction of property, "there's no excuse for anyone violating copyright laws," Hatch explained. We can't quite picture the sort of attack our visionary Utah Senator has in mind. Obviously there is little danger of actually destroying a PC remotely; in spite of great advances in malware, it remains the sort of business for which a hatchet comes in most handy. You could wipe the HDD or re-flash the BIOS remotely, but victims can recover from this sort of thing. Benefit of the doubt One has to wonder how much evidence of wrongdoing a copyright owner would need before their exemption from prosecution would kick in. Would they have to maintain copious records of their investigations and findings? Or would they be granted a blanket benefit of the doubt and therefor not have to justify it at all? And what happens when an innocent person is victimized? If their HDD were wiped by some malicious program, they would have an awful time seeking a legal remedy with no data to challenge the media pigopolists' evidence. Perhaps Hatch is imagining of some sort of Mission-Impossible-style DRM self-destruct regime, possibly one mandated by a law like the one contemplated by Senator Fritz Hollings (Democrat, South Carolina) known as the CBDTPA. A mandatory DRM scheme of this sort could monitor the copyright status of content being accessed, and after a set number of 'violations' sabotage the PC with a Hatch attack. To further inconvenience copyright miscreants, the DRM mechanism could be tied to some sort of Win-XP-style 'product activation' discipline, possibly requiring users to purchase and install a new copy of their operating system to regain full control of their computers. Or perhaps Congress will realize that Hatch is talking utter nonsense and ignore his bizarre suggestion. It all depends on how much money the MPAA and RIAA lobbyists can slip into the pockets of their Congressional lapdogs. Citizens are welcome to e-mail Senator Hatch here to offer him their kind words of support. ® Related Link Senator Hatch's WWW contact page
Thomas C Greene, 18 Jun 2003

Intel readies 875P server chipset

Intel will launch a server version of its i875P chipset in the autumn, the company said today. The announcement was made at the end of a news release boasting that the chip maker has shipped one million chipsets for servers based on its Xeon and Itanium processors since it re-entered the market in early 2002. The upcoming server version of the i875P is codenamed 'Canterwood-ES' and is aimed at single-CPU servers based on the Pentium 4. In addition to the 855P's 800MHz frontside bus (it's clocked at 200MHz but is quad-pumped to achieve the higher, effective clock frequency), Serial ATA support, provision for a dual-channel DDR 400 memory sub-system and integrated USB 2.0 controller, Canterwood-ES will offer PCI-X expansion support. Further ahead, Intel will support the PCI Express bus in 2004 with its Twin Castle and Lindenhurst chipsets, developed for Xeon MP and dual uni-processor Xeons, respectively, the company said, reiterating what it said earlier this year at the Intel Developers Conference. Both chipsets will also support DDR 2 memory. ® Related Story Intel officially unveils 800MHZ FSB, i875P chipset
Tony Smith, 18 Jun 2003

IBM keeps the AIX flag flying

IBM has taken its sweet time bringing the z990 mainframe and refreshed p690 to market, but the high-end kit has now arrived and is on sale. The z990 had its coming out party in May with IBM showing its largest mainframe to date. The system holds 32 processors and has all the reliability features expected of a mainframe. The p690 sits atop IBM's Unix server line and has been shipping for more than a year with Power4 processors. IBM earlier this year said that it would add faster Power4+ chips to the kit and has now backed its words with deeds. The 32 processor p690 will ship with the AIX operating system despite SCO's objections . IBM continues to assure customers that the mainframe is not dead. The aged beasts run Linux apps these days and support IBM's hopes of renting out processing power a few partitions at a time. Revenue from the mainframe business, however, has its ups and downs. The pSeries Unix servers on the other hand have helped IBM make steady gains against rivals Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard over the last two years. IBM caught the attention of users with its dual-core Power 4 chip and has done well to revive a flagging business during a worldwide buying slump. ® Related Stories IBM cooking up Intel server kit More Gartner voodoo - IBM now on top Dell 14, IBM 0 - quarterly Itanic sales revealed IBM injects Power4+ into low-end
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jun 2003

'Umble, Very 'umble Nokia bids to be the next Sony

AnalysisAnalysis Hearing Nokia's senior management profess to approaching new markets with "humbleness" for the fourth time before breakfast on Monday almost made me wish I was listening to Dr. Irwin Jacobs. Well, not quite - but it did bring to mind a whizz-bang presentation the Qualcomm CEO gave at a financial analysts' conference several years ago. In a few minutes, the arm-wrestling chieftan had whipped the room into such a state of evangelical fervor it was easy to forget the fact that Qualcomm's progress might be impeded by an already established global digital cellular standard. You might wonder what kind of pyrotechnics Nokia executives might have set up if they had been led from Mountain View, not Espoo, or Tampa Bay rather than Tampere. If anyone is permitted to gloat, it's Nokia. Their handsets still lead the pack in terms of usability, functionality and style, and their deep tentacles into both the standards tracks and the carrier business put the company at the head of the industry. In the nineties Nokia overtook its Swedish neighbors LM Ericsson despite the latter's sixty year head start. But gloating just isn't Nokia's style. (Nokia's most dazzling communicator is an American, Erik Anderson, who didn't disappoint us this week. But then it's equally difficult to imagine the Qualcomm founder adopting the ostentatious humility of Dickens' Uriah Heep.) Report Card Looking past Nokia's understated presentation, the most important thing the company wished visitors to take away was a subtle shift from being a phone manufacturer to a kind of Nordic Sony. The word 'phone' hardly features in Nokia presentations. They reckon they have mobile gaming and mobile imaging licked, and the emphasis is on subtle 'lifestyle accessories' such as the Nokia music stand. Called, in typical Nokia style, "Nokia Music Stand," this is one of the small sideway moves that a consumer company needs to make. (Like most 'lifestyle' consumer gadgets, it's utterly superfluous - but extremely well thought out. It's a bedside charging cradle disguised as a pair of beefy speakers - into which you drop your Nokia FM radio phone. There's no chance of missing the alarm clock in the morning with this next to you). Every other year at Comdex, Bill Gates announces some consumer electronics initiative or other, that generates acres of newsprint but has been forgotten by Christmas. A Bob, or a Spot. How he must wish that Microsoft could produce something as neat as this. But then the Gates of the world [how many are there? - ed.] are doomed to repeat the same mistake: anything on the assumption that people want to buy technology. Consumer manufacturers really, want to feed the punter's id, ideally in the form of a sub-$99 oven meal. Hardcore gamers make a good case arguing why Nokia's N-Gage will fail, but connected handheld consoles represent a new market, and Nokia can afford a few wrong attempts. Intel's radio investments might seem equally whimsical, but as we concluded here, the company would be crazy not to invest. A disastrous radio business won't sink Intel, and a badly executed games strategy won't sink the Finns. 3G, whenever More pressingly, Nokia this week said that they expect volumes in the 3G handset business but not before the second half of next year. Not surprisingly, given the technical problems associated with W-CDMA, there hasn't been a compelling 3G handset yet. Operators have barely begun to market 2.5G GPRS to consumers, and the major European networks only reached interoperability agreements vital to the success of picture messaging this spring. However, the 3G handsets are good news for some people, at least. Analyst company ABI, which pays close attention to the semiconductor business, reckons that at $400 3G handsets are almost three times the average selling price of $146 for 2/2.5G models, which "boost margin and content for IC [integrated circuit] suppliers." No shit, Sherlock. Interestingly Nokia chose a somber cut for its mass market 6600 handset this week. No "flips, flaps, slides and folds," as Anssi Vanjoki told us on Monday. Nokia boasts more about its design pedigree these days, but sometimes good design simply means delivering the utility in a simple package. Or maybe Nokia is mindful, as some readers are, that persuading the IT department that a cameraphone can in fact be an effective business tool. We were probably more impressed by the new 3100, or at least by what it represents. This is the the low end youth model, a humble Series 40, and it flashes like a fairground when taking an incoming call - which apparently the kids love. It boasts a similar, if not identical screen to the fashionistas' 7210, and that more than anything else indicates how far and how fast the mobile phone business is being driven. A couple of years ago this would have commanded a premium. What does this mean? If Nokia face problems, they're the same problems that afflict the rest of the industry: ennui generated by oversold technology (WAP, 3G) and overproduction. In the aftermath of the Internet bubble, the technology companies deservedly took a pasting. It ought to be years before the tech sector earns investors' trust again. The best way to deal with a saturated market, with punch drunk consumers, is to stimulate demand, which makes the 3310 and the consumer accessories arguably far more important to the health of the mobile phone industry than 3G, or the Next Big Thing. Think of old fashioned, Keynesian pump-priming. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jun 2003

Fresh variant to tedious worm bores users into submission

Virus writers have released yet another variant in what we must now refer to as the Sobig series. Sobig-D, which first appeared today, is a little different from its predecessors the Sobig-B (support@microsoft.com) and Sobig-C (bill@microsoft.com) worms. This time around infectious emails sent out by Sobig.D appear to come from admin@support.com. The worm is spreading modestly and causing only a minimal amount of damage. Most vendors rate it as low risk. It's still out there, though. So watch out. Although it normally spreads via email, Sobig-D can also spread through network shares. In its more common email form, Sobig-D appears as email with randomised subject lines (such as Re: Documents and Re: Movies) and carries infectious .scr and .pif attachments. Like its predecessors, Sobig-D has a built-in expiry date - in this case July 2. Shortly thereafter we can expect another variant no doubt. How tedious. So what to do? Well if you block email attachments such as .exe, .scr, and .pif at the gateway level, then the vast majority of worms like Sobig (in all its manifestations) need cause you no concern. For consumers, update your AV signature files, or upgrade to Linux or a Mac, whichever you find easier. Write-ups of the varmint by McAfee and Symantec provide more detailed information. ® Related Stories VX writers release sequel to infamous Sobig worm Why did support @ microsoft send me a virus this morning? Why spammers lurve the 'Microsoft support' worm Fizzer blasts Klez-H off top spot in viral charts
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

Regulation drives storage complexity – Yankee Group

Storage infrastructures are about to get a whole lot more complex, according to a report from the Yankee Group. It fingers regulatory and compliance pressures as the main drivers behind the adoption of a multi-layered approach to storage, with different types of storage offering different cost per GB, access speed, quality of service, and so on. "Customers need to make more informed decisions about storage systems in 2003. Gone are the days of just buying a dumb storage array or feature-slim NAS system for your data," says Jamie Gruener, the group's senior analyst for enterprise computing & networking. He expects the main beneficiaries to be those companies selling content storage technology, as this provides the ability to store and access data as fixed content, something that is increasingly being demanded by regulators. In future, storage implementations will need to take account of application requirements and other factors such as data quality of service, says Gruener. This means evaluating applications and their data to figure out the best type of storage for their needs. The ongoing shift to networked storage will help, Gruener adds, but is highly dependent on the industry adhering to standards and providing better pricing and ease of use. He says IP storage will help here and will grow its share of the market, but predicts that Fibre Channel will remain the mainstay of the storage networking for at least the next five years. ®
Bryan Betts, 18 Jun 2003

Freechariot goes titsup

Freechariot, the UK credit card payment services firm, has ceased trading. Management's decision last week to pull down the shutters on the business is likely to leave the many small traders who relied on its services out of pocket. Bolton-based insolvency practioner Ratcliffe & Co is convening a meeting of shareholders and creditors on June 25 to take place in the Blue Room at London's Euston train station at 12pm. It's understood that Freechariot will be placed formally into liquidation. The meeting will provide an opportunity for interested parties to quiz the directors of the company on the failure of its business. The collapse of Freechariot has left some former clients destinctly unchuffed. Lee Savory, of Web design and hosting firm Paridae, told us Freechariot refused to answer emails and letters and witheld payments for weeks prior to the collapse of the firm. "Freechariot acted as a payment processor, customers would visit our site and place an order, two weeks later Freechariot would pay us the monies by which time 99 per cent of the orders have been shipped," Savory writes. "For the last month and half they have held back payments," he adds. It wasn't until Savory received an email from Ratcliffe & Co last week telling him that Freechariot was to close that he realised that its collapse was likely to leave his small firm more than £2,500 out of pocket. Consumers who paid for goods through Freechariot, which weren't subsequenetly received, have recourse through their credit card issuers. However the picture for unsecured creditors, such as small businesses who use Freechariot's payment services, is much bleaker. Under UK insolvency law they're last in line to be paid when businesses are wound up behind former staff, secured creditors, liquidators and the tax man. Anything left (likely very litle) is then split between non-secured creditors. All matters regarding Freechariot should now be referred to Stuart Walker at Ratcliffe & Co. Call 01204 363 800. ®
John Leyden, 18 Jun 2003

Connecticut Yankee enters King Larry's Court

Connecticut's Attorney General plans to file suit against Oracle on Wednesday, charging that a takeover of PeopleSoft would cost the state millions. Connecticut happens to be a PeopleSoft customer. The state signed a large, five-year deal with the software maker in 2002 - part of a $100 million computer system upgrade. A takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle would cause an "enormous and expensive upheaval" to the upgrade process, according to Nancy Wyman, Connecticut's state Comptroller. Oracle today was generous enough to raise its bid for PeopleSoft to $6.3 billion up from the low-ball $5.1 billion first offered. Ellison, however, is not budging when it comes to the future of PeopleSoft applications. They are out. Oracle is in. That's the not so sweet plum spoiling the AG's lunch. "Connecticut has become a national leader using these new technologies in improving government efficiency and saving money," said Governor John Rowland in a statement. "PeopleSoft has been key to the state's progress and this potential takeover could derail our gains and that is unacceptable." Similar quotes from various officials are littered throughout the statement. It reads more like a positive ROI (return on investment) press release than a declaration of war. Connecticut assures us this is not a publicity prank for the IT department. A lawsuit is to be filed in the US District Court in Hartford, alleging an acquisition of PeopleSoft would violate state and federal antitrust laws, hurt the economy and raise software prices for all. Should the deal end up going through, we suggest the people of Connecticut turn to their state motto for help. Qui Transtulit Sustinet - He who transplanted still sustains. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jun 2003