23rd > June > 2003 Archive

Branded pigeons invade Wimbledon

LogoWatchLogoWatch Would you buy a video game because a pigeon told you too? Game maker Acclaim hopes the answer is an emphatic, "yes". It plans to invade this week's Wimbledon championship with twenty Virtua Tennis 2 branded birds, the BBC reports. The homing pigeons will fly down during pre-match warmups, sporting spray-painted logos, and then return to a secret location in south west London. Acclaim officials assured the BBC that no harm would come to the birds. The flying rats will merely be coated in a water-based paint. The Lawn Tennis Association has received warning about the prank, but doesn't see any problems. Let the flying marketeers loose. Acclaim admits the stunt may cause more than a few servings of strawberries and cream to be ruined by pigeon droppings. "The Wimbledon tournament is famous for the occasional descent by pigeons on to Centre Court, but our advertising pigeons are trained to go straight for the fans and flap their logos in front of them," Larry Sparks, vice president of marketing at Acclaim, told the BBC. It seems a tad aggressive to send the pigeons right at the fans, especially in a sport as civilized at tennis. This is, however, the same company that asked people to change their name to Turok to promote a game by the same name. On a side note, IBM will again be hosting the Wimbledon Web site. Big Blue provides this service for every grand slam and does a good job of it. ® Related Links BBC story Wimbledon site
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jun 2003

Nano-technology – more investor folly?

Nano-technology, which revolves around the development of even more powerful technologies on a microscopic scale, (the term nano derives from the word nanometer, which is one billionth of a metre), is becoming a fashionable technology topic, writes Bob McDowall, of Bloor Research. Indeed, it is awaking active investment interest and participation from financial institutions, venture capital companies and more mainstream institutional investors alike. Even the UK Government recently announced plans for an independent study to examine the benefits and risks of nano-technology. Why is this happening now? Current technologies will reach their practical commercial limitations in their current form and application over this decade. A breakthrough beyond these constraints opens up a huge range of business opportunities for investors, technology companies and, principally end user commercial and retail consumers. Some of the strongest proponents of nano-technology view it as "a new industrial revolution" where machines operate on a microscopic scale rather than on a substantial scale. What are the drivers behind it? This is where there must be some unease. Investors and technologists alike want a share of the commercial success and personal rewards, which they believe, will derive from early technical and subsequent commercial success with this technology. They are seeking a slice of the action; they are fearful they might miss out if they are not early investors in and providers of nano-technology. Should we be cautious? The critical issue is to understand the technologies which provide and deliver commercial applications for nano-technology, otherwise the delivery is nothing more or less than pure research; certainly of intellectual value but of unproven commercial application. The commercial benefits and applications of nano-technology must be examined in the very specific confines of the business to which it is intended to apply them. For example, what may be a commercially successful application in the context of medical science, may not work successfully in the context of the automobile industry. Is this yet another dot.com bubble? Bubbles like that are created when greed and enthusiasm substitute for analysis and understanding of the technology and its application and limitations. Viewing nano-technology in terms of blanket commercial applications to enhance the power of technology operating on a microscopic scale is dangerously simplistic. The danger lies in the possibility of hype from investors, pundits and poorly informed commentators. Education and briefing from technology experts and independent analysts should be applied and will go some way to dispelling any myths about the technology and presenting its application in an appropriate and realistic context. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 23 Jun 2003

Penguin on the Desktop

It looks like a Linux-based solution for the PC market is becoming reality, writes Robin Bloor, of Bloor Research. Leading global PC providers are now offering a Linux option for price sensitive markets such as India and Thailand. A few weeks ago IBM introduced an India-only PC offering for the small and medium business sector. Acer of Taiwan launched two Linux-based multimedia PC configurations into the same market. It comes with Redhat v 8.0, an office package (wp plus spreadsheet) email, chat and surfing. Acer will provide Windows if you want but you pay an extra $90 or so - which amounts to a significant extra fee in the Indian market. HP also offers Linux in India, as does a major Korean manufacturer, LG Electronics. It looks as though HP, IBM and Acer are using India (and Thailand) as test markets, and if it works, then other markets will follow. China, if you didn't know, is a major user of Linux on the desktop, but for China - the software license violation superpower - Linux makes political sense. If it moves wholesale to Linux then one day it will be able to claim to be inscrutably honest. Interest in Linux is also exploding elsewhere in the third world from Brazil to the Philippines, so the possibility arises that the Linux desktop will proliferate from the ground up, storming the North American and European markets after establishing economies of scale in the third world. An IDC market survey made available last week, suggests that Linux is acceptable to only 15 percent of global desktop PC users, but that's interesting because Linux PCs only account for a few percent of PC sales, so its acceptance looks to be on the increase. Given all of this, our expectation is that the Linux desktop will 'cross the chasm' this year, and start to proliferate next year. It is beginning to look unstoppable. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 23 Jun 2003

From the Booby Hatch

Senator Orrin Hatch says he wants to destroy music swappers' computers, but what he really means is that kids today have no respect for their elders, says SecurityFocus columnist George Smith. "Powerful Senator Endorses Destroying Computers of Illegal Music Downloaders!" trumpeted the Associated Press last week. What a tremendous headline! Orrin Hatch wants to smash the PCs of pirates. Such opportunities present only occasionally in a journalism career. Impossible to predict, who would have guessed an old but very important poop would be so willing to go apoplectic and voice a desire for revenge on the scofflaw young. Naturally, assorted minders immediately made excuses for the guy. The senator was speaking metaphorically, he didn't really mean it, or -- best of all -- "we all take [his] views very seriously." Yeah, yeah. What Hatch really meant was that kids have no respect for their elders and the RIAA, plus they don't pay for things. I hate kids -- they need to be taught a lesson. Whatsa matter with kids, today? In the short term, I say cast Orrin Hatch in a remake of "Bye Bye Birdie." But that might not happen, so someone should brief the Utah senator or his staffers on ways that computers could be destroyed remotely. These would all be mostly fabrications, but what's the harm in pandering to such an illustrious fool? Arming Senator Hatch with a raft of silly stories that satisfy his impulse to be a scourge of digital freeloaders seems right. It would give him more rope, maybe just enough to really hang himself the next time he pops off. First up would be to resurrect the old canard that viruses or software acting remotely can manipulate PC power supplies. If they can do that, maybe they can start a fire or melt something critical! While this has never been done there's no reason a senator could not be convinced that new techniques make it possible. If computer programmers can make peer-to-peer networks, surely they can brew up malicious software to short circuit the PC permanently. There is no excuse for the violation of copyright, according to Senator Orrin, and if there's no way to convince kids to stop stealing music, then a hundred thousand computers must die. The man's thinking like a computer vandal and to approach those numbers a new flavor of the CIH virus could be one tool. CIH's payload included a routine to write a byte of data to the flash-writable BIOS. This made the machine unbootable until the BIOS chip was reprogrammed at the shop or replaced. The CIH virus was real. But if it doesn't sound like a sure enough thing, the Senate's pirate punishment committee could be appraised of the more fantastic Blitzkrieg server. The Blitzkrieg server, according to the trade magazine that originally hyped it, was "a new virus that automatically launches a lethal counter offensive against hackers... the digital equivalent of Star Wars technology" capable of knocking out the computer on the other end of the line by destroying its hardware and software. That made it "a significant Internet breakthrough that could enhance electronic commerce" and protect data. Although the Blitzkrieg server never lived up to its initial press, it's a story to warm the heart of those looking for ways to strike back at music-stealing children. Another option is to escalate the attack to the physical well-being of the music pirate. For this, Hatch could look into the technology of the Russian Virus 666. First mentioned in an article called "The Mind Has No Firewall" which appeared in the U.S. Army War College's scholarly magazine Parameters, virus 666 was said to be able to cause heart irregularities. It did this by altering every 25th frame of the visual display, putting the user into a trance that results in damage to the heart. Since the senator claimed to be interested in more moderate solutions, the trance state could be shortened so that the user only was made nauseous. And if even that seems too strong a measure, "Toaster" virus technology could be tried. The "Toaster" virus was supposed to cause a high velocity ejection of a diskette. While it would be a long shot, such a thing just might inflict a bruise on the pirate. That would teach those kids -- with their awful clothes and rock 'n' roll -- some respect. © SecurityFocus George Smith is Editor-at-Large for VMYTHS and founder of the Crypt Newsletter. He has written extensively on viruses, the genesis of techno-legends and the impact of both on society. His work has appeared in publications as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice and the National Academy of Science's Issues in Science & Technology, among others.
George Smith, 23 Jun 2003

UK wireless ISP seeks hotspot partners

UK wireless ISP (WISP) Wispanet has begun looking for public locations to host Wi-Fi access points. Wispanet said it will provide location partners will all the equipment they need to offer WLAN access to the Net. The WISP will also install and maintain the equipment. Wispanet operates a revenue-sharing model, splitting the proceeds from users logging on to the service with the hotspot host. Users pay €4 (£2.79) per hour, €10 (£6.99) per day or €50 (£34.95) per month to access the service. Partners will earn 12.5 per cent of the revenue generated per user, and up to 15 per cent if users order Wi-Fi hardware from Wispanet. Roaming customers will yield a different revenue percentage. Wispanet claims this is one of the "most attractive" commission packages in the hotspot business. Wispanet says it will handle local marketing of the service, providing material to promote the availability of Wi-Fi at the partner's venue. Wispanet is an affiliate of Toledo, Ohio-based Airpath, which provides software to integrate hotspots from a variety of WISPs in the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, the UK and Jordan. Airpath provides a unified billing system so that Wispanet's own customers and those of their partners can access affiliated WLANs using their UK login. Wherever they go, they are billed in their own currency by their own WISP. The Airpath affiliates network stretches to some 206 sites around the US, and 54 more in the other countries. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

Mobile operators unveil Simpay

The Mobile Payments Services Association has changed its name, before it's really got started. The group, set up this year by Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica Moviles, is now called Simpay. Simpay is targeting a billion sales transactions paid for by mobile phone a year within five years, and the group is in talks with 14 mobile operators to join the club. M-payments have failed to set the world alight so far because there are, or have been, too many incompatible systems; they are expensive to implement; the operators levy outrageous charges on the retailers; and there simply aren't enough customers to make the exercise worthwhile for the merchants. With Europe's mobile industry uniting around a single interoperable platform (to launch in 2004), and heavily promoted brand, the concept of MPayments may turn into profitable reality. But for whom? Merchants will stay away in droves, unless they get more reasonable rates. Simpay is gunning for big ticket items as well as cheap things, such as MP3 downloads, which would be charged straight to the customer's phone account. For more expensive stuff, Simpay would facilitate payments "using credit and debit cards to complete transactions such as travel bookings, theatre tickets and gift orders". The Simpay rebranding is refreshingly free of marketing bull - the MPSA founders simply say Simpay will distinguish the company as a separate entity from its founding members and should position the brand strongly in the consumer segment. The Simpay tagline is straight and to the point too: "Pay for Stuff with Your Mobile". Even the most high-falutin' claim for the Simpay name is relatively restrained. Simpay "also highlights the evolution of the mobile phone from being purely a communications device to being an essential lifestyle tool that enables payments." OK, we'll let you get away with that one. ® Related stories When is e-money not e-money? When it stays on your mobile phone M-Commerce for All mPay Day for Network365
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 2003

AMD Athlon 64 4300+ to ship Q3 2004

AMD's Athlon 64 will hit a performance point of 3700+ during the first quarter of next year before rising to 4300+ by the end of 2004, according to allegedly internal company roadmaps published by French web site x86 Secrets. The roadmaps show that the Athlon 64 3100+, which will operate at 1.8GHz, is sampling now, and the 2GHz 3400+ will sample in August, as per recent reports. Athlon 64 is expected to launch at 3100+ and 3400+. AMD's performance calculations are a bit of a moving feast, since it does change benchmarks which it uses to come up with a final performance rating. The 3200+ Athlon XP's rating is based on slightly different benchmarks that previous XPs' rating, for example. According to the roadmap, AMD will ramp the Athlon 64 to 3700+ early next year. The last 0.13 micron 64, its clock frequency will be 2.4GHz. x86 Secrets says 2.2GHz, but notes AMD makes on other slides suggests the higher of the two frequencies. Microsoft's 64-bit version of Windows should appear in machines in the same timeframe, the site's slides claim. Both server and client versions of 64-bit Windows 2003 will be released to manufacturing late Q4 2003/early Q1 2004. The chip that takes the Athlon 64 line to 4300+ (2.8GHz) will be a 90nm part codenamed 'San Diego'. Like the first generation of the 64, 'Clawhammer', San Diego will contain 1MB of on-die L2 cache. It will ship in volume at the start of Q3 2004 at 4000+ (2.6GHz); AMD will begin sampling the chip early Q2 2004. San Diego has been seen on leaked AMD roadmaps before, as we reported in April here. Earlier roadmaps also listed the 0.13-micron 'Paris' and its 90nm successor, 'Victoria', which are Athlon 64 parts with just 256KB of L2 cache. Both feature on x86 Secrets slides among the desktop processor. Paris is due to sample early Q4 2004 and go into full production during the same three-month period. Like Clawhammer, it will ship at 3100+ and 3400+. Versions of Victoria running at those clock speeds will appear late Q2/early Q3 2004, along with a 3700+ version (and the 4000+ San Diego). The 4000+ Victoria will ship in the same Q3 2004 timeframe as the 4300+ San Diego. So AMD appears to be building a performance rating lag between Clawhammer/San Diego and Paris/Victoria, suggesting that the latter are indeed low-end parts. Indeed, Paris will replace the 3100+ Clawhammer in Q1 2004 as the arrival of the 3700+ part pushes the original Athlon 64 in the mid-range PC markets. Athlon 64 stats included in the roadmaps, the site says, include a core voltage of 1.4-1.55V, and an 89W power consumption rating. The desktop and mobile Athlon 64s shipped this year will operate at 1.5V, as will revision C samples. Not mentioned by the site is the 90nm uni- to eight-way Opteron, codenamed Athens, which is expected to ship in the same timeframe as San Diego. ® Related Link x86 Secrets: AMD desktop roadmaps (in French) Related Stories AMD to ship Athlon 64 3400+ in August - report AMD roadmap slots 400MHz FSB Athlon XP launch in April/May
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

ATI launches Radeon IGP 9100 chipsets

UpdateUpdate ATI today launched its Radeon IGP 9100 and Mobility Radeon IGP 9100 - aka the RS300 and RS300M - Pentium chipsets as anticipated. Both chipsets have been designed to support a range of Intel processors, including desktop Pentium 4s and mobile Pentium M chips. The chipsets also support Celeron and mobile Pentium 4-M processors. Curiously, the chipset supports the Pentium 4's 533MHz frontside bus but not the latest 800MHz FSB. Hyperthreading is supported. The two IGPs support dual-channel 400MHz DDR SDRAM. AGP 8x support is offered to permit the connection an add-in graphics card, which can operate alongside the chipset's integrated graphics core - at least as far as multi-monitor support goes. The chipset's graphics are not disabled when a card is added, allowing the card to be used to drive extra monitors. The integrated DirectX 8.1 graphics can use up to 128MB of the host PC's main memory as frame buffer RAM. It provides 16x anisotropic filtering, 4x full-screen anti-aliasing, motion-compensated DVD playback, TV out and HydraVision multi-monitor support. Integrated 300MHz triple 10-bit DACs support resolutions up to 2048 x 1536. The core also routes streamed video through its pixel shaders to improve image quality. ATI claims the graphics core delivers "up to six times the performance of the fastest competitors in tests using the industry-standard 3DMark03 benchmark from Futuremark" - a dig at Nvidia if there ever was one. The Mobility Radeon IGP 9100 also features ATI's power management system, PowerPlay. Both chipsets incorporate ATI's IXP South Bridge chips, which provide 10/100 Ethernet, remote wake on LAN, Dolby 5.1-compatible multi-channel audio and up to six USB 2.0 ports. The connection between North and South Bridges is a 266MBps point-to-point interface ATI calls A-Link. Both chips will ship this summer, said ATI, though it didn't reveal pricing. The company did say, however, that Asus, Compal, CP Technology, FIC, Gigabyte, Lite-on, MSI, PC Partner, Quanta, Shuttle and Sapphire have already agreed to use one or both chipsets in future products. ATI has been offering Pentium chipsets for some time, but the 9100 series takes IGP graphics to a new level, the better to compete with the likes of VIA and SiS, which together account for around a third of the Pentium chipset business - Intel owns almost all of the rest. VIA has been pushing integrated graphics from S3, the graphics company and erstwhile big league player alongside Nvidia and ATI. SiS recently spun off its own graphics division as Xabre and wants to acquire chip company Trident's graphics business to beef up its offer. ATI's IGP 9100 family is pitched primarily at both companies, leveraging the strength of ATI's graphics brand. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

C&W claims IBM price gouging

Cable & Wireless has brought a lawsuit against IBM for what it calls "substantial overcharging" by the IT services company. In the Cable & Wireless 2003 annual report published on Friday, the telecom said the legal action relates to a global IT services deal it signed with IBM back in December 2000. As part of the deal, Cable & Wireless was to conduct regular benchmarking exercises to monitor elements like price and service levels provided by IBM. In a benchmark conducted in February 2002, Cable & Wireless said it discovered "significant levels of overcharging by IBM." Ever since that benchmark was completed last spring, the companies have been in dispute over its results and over whether IBM should repay the amount it was deemed to have overcharged. Mediation failed to resolve the dispute and Cable & Wireless is now seeking damages. According to the annual report, Cable & Wireless claims it was overcharged by £115 million in respect of its UK operations and $22 million in the US, and those numbers continue to rise for each month that IBM refuses to drop its charges, the telecoms firm said. IBM has lodged counter-claims, including an action by IBM Japan which alleges that it is due money from Cable & Wireless. A court date for a trial in connection with the overcharging accusations has been set for this September. The annual report also revealed a number of ongoing legal actions against Cable & Wireless by companies in the US and Central America, including a suit by two companies in Panama. The plaintiffs, who had been seeking damages for up to $125 million, claimed that Cable & Wireless had breached its contract terms. The court agreed that the telecoms firm had failed to "maintain in sufficient confidence" certain proprietary information of the plaintiffs and ordered the telecom to pay $67.3 million in damages. Cable & Wireless said it is appealing the judgement and has not paid any of the damages. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 23 Jun 2003

SCO staff join Linux protests

SCO employees in Provo, Utah have made clear their distaste for the company's war on Linux. Staff greeted protesters from the Provo Linux User Group with signs such as "Give communism a try - free Linux", "My son stole code - and published it" and, best of all, "Stealing Software Is Not A Crime" below which is written, "In Iraq and parts of France". The latter is a reference to Iraq's liberal copyright laws, which are full of social provisions, but which are now being revised with the help of the Recording Industry Association of America's Hilary Rosen. SCO identified its holy war with that of the music 'industry' last month. And we can only guess how Rosen can improve these provisions. If only the Revolutionary Leadership Council, which passed the laws in 1971, could have helped liberate the United States from Hollywood. ® Related Links PLUG - photos Related Stories SCO pulls AIX licence, calls for permanent ban SCO invokes RIAA in Linux jihad RIAA's Rosen 'writing Iraq copyright laws' - confirmed
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jun 2003

Win a copy of ‘Red Hat Linux 9 for Dummies’

Site offerSite offer Linux Guru Jon 'maddog' Hall will be signing copies of his latest work - Red Hat Linux 9 for Dummies - at the LinuxUser & Developer Expo - The Linux Zone - at Networks for Business this week. Yup, from 1.00 to 1.30 on 24 and 25 June, the man himself will be gracing stand 200, pen in hand, ready to do the business. However, if you can't get to the NEC Birmingham, The Register is offering readers a chance to win one of twenty signed copies of the book. All you have to do to enter the prize draw is send an email (Subject: Linux) to competitions@theregister.co.uk. The first 20 lucky readers out of the hat will have the book shipped directly to their door. Simple as that. Rules Deadline for entries is 5.00pm GMT Thursday 26 June Only one entry per individual. Multiple entries will be binned. The subject of the email must be "Linux". Winners will be notified by email. All unsuccessful entries will be deleted after the prize draw and details will neither be stored nor passed on to any third party. Readers' attention is directed to our Privacy Policy.
Team Register, 23 Jun 2003

OpenOffice for the Mac goes gold

OpenOffice for the Macintosh is finally out of beta, just in time for Apple's WorldWide Developer Conference. Binaries for the 1.0 General Master are already available for download from mirrors closer to the International Date Line. The Mac version runs under the X11 Windowing System, rather than native Aqua interface, but thanks to Apple's X11 window manager, integration is fast and fairly seamless. The OpenOffice code also supports other X11 window managers, including for example, file browsing support for the OroborOSX/XDarwin window manager. The 170MB binary contains a word processor, spreadsheet, graphics and charting packages and supports 27 languages. We continue to receive regular inquiries about options for Arabic and Hebrew on the Macintosh. Microsoft has left these users high and dry in Office:X and Internet Explorer, and recently announced that development of IE would be discontinued on the Mac. Does OpenOffice help these readers? The answer is, not yet. The next point release, OpenOffice 1.1 due this autumn, will support right to left languages. Microsoft's Israel representatives have told users that an OS X version of ThinkFree Office will support Hebrew. ® Related Stories Sun aims StarOffice PC bundles at Joe User Now we are two: OpenOffice.org celebrates OpenOffice bats for the Mac Microsoft's Hebrew, Arabic snub: your pain OpenOffice suite goes 1.0 OpenGoose suite speaks in tongues
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jun 2003

Microsoft rebrands Pocket PC as Windows Mobile

Microsoft has launched the latest version of its Pocket PC platform: Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs. Not, you'll have noted Pocket PC 2003, but Windows Mobile. The software giant is engaging in a little re-branding, pulling together its various mobile device offerings under a single brand. Essentially, it's pulling Pocket PC and its largely unsuccessful smartphone software. Ironically, Microsoft originally had one brand - Windows CE - but of late it's sought to position that as an embedded OS distinct from the middleware and products (ie. Pocket PC) that sit on top of it. Rechristening the platform Windows Mobile allows The Beast to cross-promote its products more easily, as it could under the Windows CE brand, but in a way that doesn't get in the way of its CE-as-embedded OS marketing. It also more closely connects Pocket PC and the smartphone stuff to Windows, which is the Microsoft brand people are most familiar with. The Pocket PC edition of Windows Mobile enhances the platform's support for the latest mobile trends. Wireless network access is updated with native Bluetooth support, and automatic WLAN detection and connection. Microsoft has also added support for built-in keyboards, and brought Windows Media Player 9 components over to the platform, along with better digital device-level photography storage and management. Support for Exchange Server 2003 has been added too. Stressing the platform's scope for corporate computing and web services, Microsoft said the new Pocket PC is based on Windows CE .NET 4.2, and includes the .NET Compact Framework in ROM. Announcing devices based on Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs included all the usual suspects - Toshiba, Dell, HP, Fujitsu Siemens and others have devices shipping today - and newcomers Gateway and JVC, which will offer products "later this year". ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

TSMC accused of violating 45-year-old chemistry patent

TSMC has returned fire in the opening salvo of a legal battle centring on claims that the Taiwanese foundry violated an obscure chemistry patent filed more than 45 years ago. This past Friday, TSMC filed a complaint with the San Jose US District Court asking the judge to rule that two patents administered by Chicago-based holding company Syndia are "invalid, unenforceable and not infringed by TSMC". The foundry's action follows attempts by Syndia to seeking a licensing deal between the two companies. Negotiations broke down, and Syndia threatened to take TSMC to court, the foundry claims. TSMC got in there first, with Friday's patent dismissal suit. It alleges Syndia sent letters to its customers "requesting the payment of a 'lump-sum licensing offer'," a move it believes was intended to encourage customers to put pressure on TSMC. Syndia was jointly formed in 1994 by inventor Jerome Lemelson, businessman Roger Hickey and Northwestern University Professor James Conley to administer patents held by Lemelson and Conley. In question are two patents filed by Lemelson in 1957 and 1964, and granted in 1987 and 1992, respectively. Both detail methods of initiating chemical reactions. The first patent, 4,702,808, details an apparatus and method for initiating chemical reactions by focusing "radiant energy, such as a laser" onto streams of particles. The second patent, 5,131,941 also details an apparatus and method for initiating chemical reactions, but this time radiation is used to provide the energy kick needed to get the compounds to interact. Incidentally, if readers who view the above patents are puzzled by their recent dates, it's because both were filed as continuations of previous filings, going back to the dates listed above. Which is why it took so long for the patents to be granted. Filing the suit in co-operation with TSMC is WaferTech, a US-based chip manufacturer founded in 1996. TSMC owns 99 per cent of WaferTech. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003
server room

Intel powers more TOP500 supercomputers

The number of Intel systems in the TOP500 supercomputers more than doubled in the last six months from 56 to 119. "This is a major shift in this marketplace," commented the compilers of the Top500list, a new version of which was published today. "With this increase, the Intel processor family joins IBM's Power architecture and Hewlett-Packard's PA- RISC chips as one of the dominant processors used in high performance computing systems," they added. Top place in the supercomputer list goes to the Earth Simulator supercomputer built by NEC and installed last year at the Earth Simulator Center in Yokohama, Japan, with a benchmark performance of 35.86 Tflop/s ("teraflops" or trillions of calculations per second). The ASCI Q system at Los Alamos National Laboratory, with 13.88 Tflop/s, occupies the number two spot. ASCI Q was built by Hewlett-Packard and is based on the AlphaServer SC computer system. Hot on the heels comes Intel-based monster machines. The Intel Xeon-based MCR cluster at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory outranked ASCI White (fourth place) and achieved the highest position ever for any cluster (third place). It uses a Quadrics interconnect and was manufactured by Linux Networx. Two notable newcomers among the top 10 are: Fujitsu's PrimePower HPC2500 system at the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, the largest new Japanese system at number seven; and at number eight the largest ranked Itanium-based system, produced by Hewlett-Packard and installed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Gaining entry into the top 10 positions on the new list now requires achieving a Linpack performance just shy of 4 Tflop/s. The total combined performance of all 500 computers on the list is 375 Tflop/s, compared to 293 Tflop/s just six months ago. In terms of total performance of all the installed systems, the latest TOP500 edition still shows IBM as the clear leader with 34.9 per cent, ahead of HP with 24.1 per cent and NEC with 11.7 per cent. A total of 159 systems on the TOP500 list were installed by Hewlett-Packard, compared to 158 systems by IBM. SGI is third in this category with 54 systems. The number of clusters in the TOP500 grew again, now totalling 149 systems. Of these, 23 clusters are labelled as self-made. The overall growth in cluster systems reflects the increased importance of this class of system in the high performance computing market. The TOP500 list will be presented in detail at the ISC2003 Conference in Heidelberg, Germany, which starts Wednesday, June 25, and continues through Friday, June 27. ® Related Stories NEC crowned supercomputer king (again) Buy this supercomputer on eBay Clustered Linux shines on commercial TPC-C test
John Leyden, 23 Jun 2003

House bill would cast FBI as copyright Pinkertons

House bill would cast FBI as copyright Pinkertons P2P hackmeister Berman pulls out all the stops 765 words International terrorists will be able to sleep easier if US Representatives Lamar Smith (Republican, Texas) and Howard Berman (Democrat, California) have their way. A new bill Smith and Berman are sponsoring on behalf of their entertainment-industry patrons will divert limited FBI investigative resources from solving serious crimes and preventing terror attacks to waging a new War against File Sharing. The FBI has long served as an unofficial 'copyright 911' organ at the pleasure of the media plutocracy, but to date it has fallen largely to the RIAA and MPAA to perform the legwork in discovering copyright miscreants. Berman's bill would ease that burden, saddling the FBI with responsibility to patrol the Internet, monitor P2P networks and root out evidence of copyright improprieties on its own. According to the bill, "The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall (1) develop a program to deter members of the public from committing acts of copyright infringement by (A) offering on the Internet copies of copyrighted works, or (B) making copies of copyrighted works from the Internet without the authorization of the copyright owners; and (2) facilitate the sharing among law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers, and copyright owners of information concerning activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1)." While it's true that the Feds customarily involve themselves in cases of serious piracy, this legislation is calculated to bring them in on petty infractions that would normally be handled in the civil courts, like the recent $60K judgment against four university students who did nothing worse than index music files. There's great economic wisdom in this: by criminalizing such minor misbehavior, the RIAA taps public funds to bankroll its petty squabbles. We should all be so lucky. In addition to the FBI's new enforcement regimen, the DoJ will be burdened with its own Stalinist mandate to 'educate' the populace about the sacred nature of copyright: "There shall be established within the Office of the Associate Attorney General of the United States an Internet Use Education Program. The purpose of the Internet Use Education Program shall be to (1) educate the general public concerning the value of copyrighted works and the effects of the theft of such works on those who create them; (2) educate the general public concerning the privacy, security, and other risks of using the Internet to obtain unauthorized copies of copyrighted works; (3) coordinate and consult with the Department of Education on compliance by educational institutions with applicable copyright laws involving Internet use; and (4) coordinate and consult with the Department of Commerce on compliance by corporations with applicable copyright laws involving Internet use." Tellingly, there's no mandate for DoJ to educate the public about their rights to duplicate copyrighted works according to the doctrine of fair use. No confusing distinctions are to be made between copying legally-purchased media, which is a privilege granted by court precedents, and piracy, which is a crime. Indeed, 'making copies of copyrighted works from the Internet without the authorization of the copyright owners' is to be understood as a crime hands down. Only the problem here is, fair use is not and never has been authorized by the copyright owners. It's authorized instead by the US Supreme Court. Berman is trying to do a legislative end-run around the Sony decision on behalf of his greedy Hollywood owners. Speaking of which, RIAA President Cary Sherman gushed about the Smith/Berman bill in a recent press release: "The Smith/Berman legislation will strengthen the hand of the FBI and other federal law enforcement officials to address the rampant copyright infringement occurring on peer-to-peer networks. This common-sense, bipartisan bill will help ensure that federal prosecutors across the country have the resources and expertise to fully enforce the copyright laws on the books -- especially against those who illegally distribute massive quantities of copyrighted music online," Sherman trilled. Berman made himself famous last year by trying to legislate an exception to computer misuse laws for copyright owners wishing to hack P2P networks. Then, only last week, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican, Utah) did him one better, recommending that copyright owners be granted an exception allowing them to destroy the computers of file traders. But now Berman's back on top, turning the Federal Police into virtual Pinkertons bound in service of a cartel. We expect this of little third-world dictatorships rich in gem stones and tribal warlords, but it's always a bit startling to encounter it in a modern, industrialized nation. ® Related Links E-mail Howard Berman Contact Lamar Smith
Thomas C Greene, 23 Jun 2003

Microsoft appeals French piracy fine

Microsoft went to court in France last week to appeal its conviction in 2001 for software piracy, for which it was ordered to pay $425,000 in damages, costs and interest. Today we publish an eyewitness account of the appeal by Lionel Berthomier, who has been covering the case almost single-handedly since 1996. But first some background. In 1994, Microsoft bought the company Softimage Creative Environment. It sold the company on to Avid in 1998. Softimage’s code illegally included proprietary software from another company. Raymond Perrin and Isabelle Cuadros, 3D animation software developers and authors of the misappropriated software have been fighting the case for six years. June 17th, 2003 the "Microsoft piracy" case is brought before the 12th Chamber of the Versailles Appeal Court. Here are Judge Denis Coupin, his clerk, the plaintiffs, their lawyer, a computer specialist, Microsoft's lawyers, a Softimage engineer, two journalists and a curious passer-by: the place is empty! No one could have expected a US$19 million piracy suit would attract so few people. However, the audience will proceed in a small committee room. 2:30 PM: after Judge Coupin's opening statement, the floor is open to Ms. Renard, a brilliant Parisian lawyer acting on behalf of Microsoft. The main argument: "only the code is copyrightable... and a software's functionalities cannot be protected by author rights.". To prove her point, the young lawyer, silently supported by her colleagues of law firm August & Debouzy uses the "elevator trick". All elevator makers around the world have developed the functionality that enables to reach the desired floor by pushing the corresponding button, without having to sue each other. She explains that her client, "totally rewrote and copied the functionalities" in question, when the contract tying the company to the plaintiffs was breached. On the unfair competition indictment, she uses a judicial subtlety: one cannot use this as "protection vs. counterfeiting". In regards to parasitism, Ms. Renard guarantees her client "did not try and obtain a determining advantage with the eight asserted functionalities". She adds: "In 1995, these functionalities were already considered as standard". Then, a Softimage engineer, who came in straight from Quebec, proceeds to present the functionalities and, in an effort to communicate with the audience, recalls the great commercial success of his employer, citing Jurassic Park, for instance. Ms. Renard claims that Microsoft, "the undisputed anti-piracy champion", had seen its image tarnished in this affair "by a press campaign". And she concludes that in the name of "the free course concept" regarding the redeveloped functionality, her client's conviction for counterfeiting in 2001 should be dismissed. Judge Coupin then turns to Mr. Alterman, lawyer for Perrin and Cuatros. Alterman builds his advocacy on concrete facts such as the settlement proposal for the asserted functionalities, made to his clients on the eve of Softimage's acquisition by Microsoft, or the contract requesting that Softimage "drop them in case of contract breach". Alterman goes down Memory Lane. He explains how Raymond Perrin and Isabelle Cuadros were "seduced" by Softimage after the projection of "The Puppet" movie in Montreal in the early 1990s. He wonders why the asserted functionalities are qualified today by Microsoft's defense as "not of great interest", but are nevertheless the object of so many attempts at transaction. And regarding author rights, he reminds the hearing that the organic descriptions and the detailed analysis of the functionalities developed by his clients were registered at the APP (the French association for software protection). How Much? Furthermore, Alterman questions the level of expertise which resulted in Microsoft's conviction in 2001, pointing out that the difference found while comparing the two source codes was not 16,000 bytes as mentioned in the official report, but exceeded 110,000 bytes. Finally, whereas Ms Renard had called into question the method Alterman had used to estimate his clients' prejudice, qualifying it as "unjustified", he reminded the court that three concurring experts showed that the asserted functionalities corresponded to 6 per cent to 8 per cent of Softimage's software value. This was scaled back to 5 per cent of the software's value during the period until Softimage's sale to Avid (1998), while applying the usage fee specified in the initial contract (50%), it all adds up to about 2.5% of the turnover generated by the software (a little over US$790 million), that is to say US$19 million. This is precisely what he requests before the Appeal Court as damage and interest for Raymond Perrin and Isabelle Cuadros, along with the unconditional removal of the pirated functionalities, knowing that should the case go criminal, damage and interests would correspond to the full amount of the software's turnover! The session ends. It is 4:30 PM in Versailles on June 17th, 2003. The Appeal Court will announce its verdict on October 9. ®
Lionel Berthomier, 23 Jun 2003

Wireless deregulation lobby arrives in UK

Europeans may be surprised to be learn that they need a wireless infrastructure as broken as the one in the United States, but stand by for a deluge of ideology from American lobbyists to convince you otherwise. Of course this time, the deregulation lobby isn't parading its poster children: Enron and ClearChannel. It knows it needs to present a warmer, fuzzier, more populist face. So the task has fallen to Canadian blogger Cory Doctorow. Doctorow described the World Economic Forum's annual piss-up - positively, we think - as the "hyper-leet Davos forum"! Doctorow is paying a flying visit to the UK. Naturally, the question we're supposed to consider is framed in terms of Chicago School economics, the same people who gave us monetarism. "Is Spectrum Commons or Property?" asks Doctorow, echoing the question posed at a two-day summit held at Stanford earlier this year. The question was first posed by free-market economist Ronald Coase, from - you guessed it - Chicago. The only sensible answer is, "you wouldn't want to get there from here". Social policy is usually measured by social outputs. Business policy only makes sense when business itself is regarded as the manifestation of social activity, rather than some theoretical pie-charts. We've seen that when a policy begins from such narrow ideological inputs the result is rarely a success. Linux makes a good contrast: it overcame both economic obstacles ("how can you make money?") and legal obstacles ("this is theft!") because the social outcomes of software libre were widely perceived to be a Good Thing. Meanwhile, the deregulation lobby's frame of reference - the artificial commons/spectrum question - is so weak it doesn't even convince libertarians. At the Stanford Spectrum Summit in March, EFF co-founder John Gilmore pointed out from the floor that whatever spectrum policy the United States decided, nine tenths of the world would ignore it. Gilmore said the spectrum as property analogy breaks down because you can't put down fenceposts. Nokia's effervescent Erik Anderson had his own views here. While not perfect, there's very little wrong with European wireless infrastructure when compared to the deregulated mess in the United States. Some operators carry a heavy burden for bidding in the short-lived spectrum auctions, but they owe much more of their debts to bad investments made during the last telecomms bubble. The deregulation lobby's warnings that wireless is so broken we need a US-fix are likely to be given short shrift, and rightly so. The deregulation lobby has pinned its hopes on the Spectrum as the next Internet: a new playground where venture capitalists can make great fortunes. The US has always found it easier to create new frontiers to cross than to fix stuff. We're between the bubbles, they hope. However the technology sector has blown it so badly by creating the Internet bubble - using the same rhetoric we keep hearing from the Spectrum lobby - that it could be many years before technology gains investors' trusts. But however forlorn their hopes, vigilance is needed. We suggest watching two areas. Given the number of former Marxism Today staffers in British think-tanks, the lobby may well get a hearing. Many of these writers, who mesh with Downing Street's policy staff, born-again libertarians who swapped out one simple ideology for another at the turn of the nineties, may well be dazzled. Another area to watch is whether spectrum deregulation becomes part of the agenda of the World Bank and the IMF. The two traditionally impose conditions in the name of "liberalizing markets", typically favoring established US interests. It sounds nuts - but stranger things have happened. ® Related Story Radio Intel
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jun 2003

Lik-Sang founder speaks out on Nintendo court case

Following last week's triumphant announcement by Nintendo that it had won a victory over Hong Kong based mail order retailer Lik-Sang, one of the company's founders, Alex Kampl, has spoken publicly about the ruling. We were also contacted this week by Pacific Game, the company which took over the running of Lik-Sang.com last November, who pointed out that the current court case does not affect the mail order service as it stands now, since Pacific Game and Lik-Sang.com are not named as defendants in the case. We have reproduced Kampl's statement in full below - it highlights a number of key facts which were not made clear in Nintendo's announcement, most notably the fact that this was a Summary Judgement rather than a full trial, and that a Notice of Appeal has already been served by Kampl. While Nintendo's comments last week suggested that this was the end of a story, it would now appear that it's only the beginning - and the final outcome may be of vital importance to how the industry as a whole approaches piracy, especially in the pirate hotbeds of the Far East such as Hong Kong. Alex Kampl statement I hope with the following information I am able to give you a little insight into the recent happenings and about the misleading press release of Nintendo. Before the Nintendo Press release has been distributed, I have delivered a Notice of Appeal to Nintendo, as well as to the High Court of Hong Kong. I am not exactly sure why Nintendo’s press department didn’t mention a word about it. The Judgment was not a real trial yet, it was a Summary Judgment with a single Judge. Usually such Summary Judgments are in case of bounced bank checks where no trial is needed and everything is straight forward. With all due respect to the High Court of Hong Kong, but no Intellectual Property (IP) specialist was assigned to this case. Already at the first hearing the Judge mentioned that it’s a pity Hong Kong has no IP specialist anymore and that he finds the Copyright Law of Hong Kong very confusing. After some research, it looks like the Judge is a specialist for maritime laws. He made several comments during the hearings which seemed to observers like this was his first IP case ever. The Summary Judgment itself was based on the Section 273 of the Hong Kong Copyright Ordinance about "circumventing a copy-protection". No copy-protection exists in the Gameboy or Gameboy Advance game cartridges. The Judge didn’t hear a specialist or at least an independent 3rd party expert opinion - he took it for granted from the explanations by Nintendo that there is a copy-protection. Furthermore, the Judge found that "by analogy with drugs, it[the setcion 273] is not aimed at the drug addict but at the drug trafficker". I fail to understand his logic, as this would mean that the drug store selling the injection needles to drug addicts or maybe even the manufacturer of the container where the drug addict keeps the drug could be held liable? After legal actions in the USA against Bung Enterprises in the late nineties (for selling and manufacturing videogame development and backup equipment) this was the second Court Judgment ever regarding products of this nature. Regarding information made available to me in the Court Room, the case against Bung and its US distributor Carl Industries Inc was brought to an end in their disfavor by Bung not complying with Court Orders and not paying ordered penalties. The actual judgment was written by Nintendo representatives, without the Judge properly going through the arguments. The legality or illegality of the products in question has therefore never been argued in a real trial anywhere in the world. A serious trial, with competent Judges, is now definitely needed to settle the question once and for all. This is why I have decided to appeal. I am not happy about the direction where this is heading, neither are supporters and legitimate users of the tools. Again, I have to stress once more, that the very same hardware under attack is used by thousands of hobbyist users and even professional developers for legitimate purpose. Very embarrassing for Nintendo: even the large publisher, who made the original game used in Court for demonstrating purpose, bought hundreds and hundreds of Flash Cartridges from my company for beta testing. And so did numerous other top 10 publishers listed in the stock market. The products I have sold are not circumventing any copy protections, same as a Floppy Disk Drive and a 3.5" Disk doesn't – in fact there is no copy-protection existing, as commonly known by the gaming industry. I completely understand Nintendo’s fight against piracy, but I believe they are aiming at the wrong targets. With Digital Media and the Internet nowadays, publishers will have to change their strategy. They just can’t win the fight against the Progress without removing our primary rights: presumption of innocence and the right for backup. Nintendo doesn’t need to prove you are a pirate anymore, it is assumed you all are if you have the technical means to copy. Alex Kampl
gamesindustry.biz, 23 Jun 2003

Fortnight worm exploits antique Windows vuln

Windows users are being infected a JavaScript worm – even though protection has been available for almost three years. The Fortnight JavaScript worm exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft VM ActiveX which makes it possible for malicious code to execute simply by reading an message in an HTML aware email client. Microsoft issued protection against the vuln in October 2000. Despite this, users are still becoming infected (albeit to a modest extent) with recently released variants of the JavaScript nasty, JS/Fortnight-D and JS/Fortnight-F. As explained here, the worm's actions include changing registry keys and adding links to various Web sites (e.g. Nude Nurses.url) to a victim's favourites list. Although the virus is relatively uncommon, the fact that it is spreading at all is causing concern in security circles. "We're getting some reports of infection by Fortnight but it's not particularly widespread. We're alerting people about Fortnight because it focuses attention of the failure of some people to apply security patches," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "There really is no excuse for failing to apply a patch which has been around for three years.” Sophos advises users to sign-up for (and act on) Microsoft's security alerts and to practise safe computing. ® Related Stories Fresh variant to tedious worm bores users into submission On MS, AV and Addictive Updates Fizzer blasts Klez-H off top spot in viral charts
John Leyden, 23 Jun 2003

Intel launches 3.2GHz P4 – h'ware sites launch reviews

Reg Review RoundupReg Review Roundup Intel today launched its 3.2GHz Pentium 4, as anticipated, and the reviews are already beginning to appear on the web. The new chip contains 512KB of on-die L2 cache and operates over 400, 533 and 800MHz frontside bus frequencies. It is fabbed using a 0.13 micron process. The new chip just leads fellow Pentium 4 stable mates in performance. Surprise, surprise, says Hexus,, and adds: "Testing and reviewing this processor was something of an anti-climax. We knew it was going to be faster than anything we'd had before. It duly obliged us with the fastest set of stock benchmarks we've seen thus far. There's little need for us to discuss its performance potential; it's fast; it's very fast." But how fast? Testing the new chip, PC World.com reports that the new chip scored 132 when tested to the magazine's internal benchmark suite, PC WorldBench 4. "That's a largely imperceptible four per cent faster than the average score of 126 achieved by three previously tested and comparably configured 3GHz P4 systems," the site says. All test systems include Intel's recently introduced 800MHz frontside bus. "Two previously tested and comparably configured systems using AMD's new Athlon XP 3200+ processor (which runs at 2.2GHz using a 400MHz frontside bus) netted an average score of 137. That's an equally imperceptible four per cent faster than the new Intel-based system," says PCWorld.com (our italics). The Athlons performed less well in Return to Wolfenstein frame-rate tests, but match the 3.2GHz P4 in Unreal Tournament. Hardware Extreme noted a far greater disparity, in favour of the Intel chip, with the 3.2GHz P4 beating the 3200+ by between five and 50 per cent in tests such as SETI@home ten-workunit averages and SysMark 2002 office productivity and Internet content creation tests. "From all the benchmark[s] we've conducted, the new 3.2GHz Pentium 4 clearly outperform[s] the fastest 3200+ Athlon XP. Thus, with no hesitation, we're glad to say that the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 is the fastest processor that money can buy," the site concludes. "However, the price can be very steep," it also admits. Tom's Hardware offers a similar conclusion: "The P4 is always in the lead." The site grudgingly admits that "AMD offers a good performance/ price ratio with its Athlon processors", but "it still cannot quite keep up with the Intel CPUs." "Clearly, Intel has the upper hand right now in desktop processors, and the situation doesn't seem likely to change until AMD delivers its new Athlon 64 processor this fall," says Tech Report. "As always, the top-of-the-line Pentium 4 3.2GHz is going to be very expensive for a little while, and the slower variants will be more affordable. AMD may be able to remain competitive for the next few months by undercutting Intel's prices. "Preliminary listings at online vendors currently show the P4 3.2GHz somewhere north of $700. By contrast, the Pentium 4 3.0GHz is hovering around $400, and the Athlon XP 3200+ show up at about $440. I'll let you decide whether having the absolute fastest chip available is worth paying the premium. "I also reserve the right to mock you for paying $300 for an extra 200MHz. "Those prices indicate a bit of trouble for AMD. The Pentium 4 2.8GHz generally matches or outperforms the Athlon XP 3200+, and the P4 2.8GHz is selling for around $275, or over $160 less than the 3200+. Unless AMD recognizes that its ratings system has been blown up by advances in Pentium 4 clock-for-clock performance and lowers prices accordingly, the question for many PC enthusiasts may no longer be whether to buy an Intel or AMD, but simply which Pentium 4 chip to buy." ® Related Links PCWorld.com: first Tests - 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Hardware Extreme: Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz vs. AMD Athlon XP 3200+ Tom's Hardware: bidding adieu - P4 3.2 vs. Athlon XP 3200+ Tech Report: Intel's Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor Hexus: Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz 800FSB CPU Other 3.2GHz P4 reviews A HREF="http://www.gamersdepot.com/hardware/cpus/intel/p4_3.2/001.htm" target="_blank">Gamers Depot, Hard Avenue, HardCoreWare, Hot Hardware, MB Review and Sudhian.
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

Pocket PC makers line up to support Windows Mobile 2003

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch PDA Alongside Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs launch, (see Microsoft rebrands Pocket PC as Windows Mobile), hardware vendors have been announcing PDAs based on the new operating system platform. New Pocket PC provider JVC today launched its iO PDA. Based on a 400MHz Intel XScale PXA255 processor, the iO line contains two models: the MP-PV131 and the MP-PV331. The latter offers built-in 802.11b WLAN access and an MPEG 4 streaming server should you have a JVC camcorder connected. It will capture digital video and remote-control the camera, too. Both models play MPEG 4 video, MP3, WAV and the open source Ogg format courtesy of JVC's own AV Player app. Both models come decked in black and silver livery, and feature 128MB of SDRAM, 32MB of Flash memory for firmware, an SD slot and a Type II Compact Flash card slot, a 3.5in transflective display, and a USB port for syncing. Both weigh 170.4g (6oz) and measure 13 x 7.5 x 1.8cm (5.2 x 3 x 0.7in). The MP-PV131 and MP-PV331 will ship in the US in September for $499.95 and $599.95, respectively. Gateway will ship is much-discussed Pocket PC sometime next quarter. It didn't say much about the device itself - other than the fact that it will run Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs - and as it has already said it's preparing a PDA, its announcement boils down to little more than a (very broad) ship date. New HP PDAs have also been the subject of much pre-announcement discussion on specialist forums and web sites. Today it said that it will launch four new models: the iPaqs h2210, h1940, h5150 and h5550, all with integrated Bluetooth, transflective display and an SD IO expansion slot. The h5150 ships with 64MB of RAM and up to 4MB of iPaq File Store Flash RAM. It contains a 400MHz XScale PXA255 processor and a removable slimline rechargeable battery. The h5550 shares both these features, but bundles 128MB of SDRAM and up to 17MB of iPaq File Store. It also sports integrated 802.11b wireless networking and fingerprint-based data access security. The h5150 costs $549, the h5550 a whopping $649. The $399 h2210 also features a Type II Compact Flash card slot, and HP claims it's the smallest PDA with SD and CF slots. It contains 64MB of SDRAM (56MB for the user) and is driven by a 400MHz XScale PXA255 processor. The h1940 costs $299. It too includes 64MB of memory (56MB for user stuff), but is based on Samsung's 266MHz S3C2410 processor. ViewSonic will follow up its V35 Pocket PC with the V36 in August. Based on a 300MHz Intel XScale processor, the V36 has 32MB of ROM and 64MB of SDRAM - though only just over half of it, 36.5MB is available for user data). It has a 3.5in 16-bit 320x240 transflective display. Taking a leaf out of Palm's book, the V36 features a built-in 640x480 digicam, as per the Zire 71. Like the Zire, it lacks wireless connectivity of its own, but an SD IO slot allows users to add Wi-Fi cards for WLAN support. Unlike Palm's consumer device, the V36's rechargeable battery is removable, and the device even allows you to swap batteries while the unit's operating. The V36 will ship in the US in August and will be priced at $329. Toshiba today upgraded its existing Pocket PC e750, e755, e350 and e355 PDAs to run Windows Mobile 2003 - or from whenever next quarter Microsoft ships the software. All new models will ship with the operating platform, but buyers who have bought e75x series machines since 23 May will be able to upgrade free of charge. If you bought one before then, the update will cost $50 all in. The e350 and 355 sport 300MHz Intel XScale PXA255 processors, 64MB SDRAM, 3.5in 16-bit 320 x 240 display, one USB port and one SD card slot. The e750 and 755 offer bigger screens, faster processors and more memory: 400MHz PXA255s, 3.8in transflective 16-bit 320 x 240 displays, and 96MB of RAM, 32MB of which is non-volatile Flash. The e75x series also features a Compact Flash slot, stereo audio in and out, and integrated 802.11b. The two ranges starts at $299 and $499, respectively. Symbol has likewise updated its rugged Symbol PPT 8800 PDA family, with availability sometime during Q3. The PPT 8800 is based on an Intel XScale PXA250 processor and typically contains 32MB ROM and 32MB RAM. Expansion is provided by a Compact Flash card slot. It features a 320x240 16-bit colour display. Fujitsu Siemens' Pocket LOOX 600 has been upgraded to support Microsoft's rebranded operating platform. PDAs bought between 23 May and 23 September can be upgraded to the updated OS for free. Those bought before 23 May can also upgrade, but "for a small handing fee", which FSC didn't specify. Those are exactly the same dates as Toshiba's and other vendors' upgrade offer periods, suggesting this is a Microsoft-mandated deal. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

One in five US firms have sacked workers for email abuse

One in five (22 per cent) US companies have fired an employee for abusing corporate email facilities, according to a survey published today. The survey from the American Management Association, Clearswift, and The ePolicy Institute also found out that workers spend about a quarter (25 per cent) of their working day dealing with email. The average respondent to the survey spent about 107 minutes on email every day. While 24 per cent report spending less than one hour, 31 per cent spend more than two hours and 8 per cent more than four hours dealing with electronic messages. Meanwhile three in four of the 1,100 US workers quizzed during the survey said they had lost time in the last year due to email system problems. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) reckon they think lost more than two days of work due to email system failures. Despite email outages and the growing spam nuisance, 86 per cent of respondents to the survey agree that email has made them more efficient. Legal liabilities The 2003 E-Mail Rules, Policies and Practices Survey is a follow-up to a survey by the American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute on the same topic in 2001. The latest survey found that 14 per cent of organisations has been ordered by a court or regulatory body to produce employee email. That's an increase of five per cent over 2001, when nine per cent of respondents reported employee email had been subpoenaed. Despite this only 34 per cent of employers have written email retention and deletion policies in place. That's the same figure reported in 2001, unchanged despite the fact five Wall Street brokerages were fined $8.25 million by the SEC for failing to retain email last year. "Most employers drop the ball when it comes to educating employees about e-mail risks, rules, and responsibilities," said Nancy Flynn, executive director of The ePolicy Institute. The use of technology to monitor email and control message content has increased since 2001, when 24 per cent of respondents reported using software to conduct key word or key phrase searches of email and/or computer files. In 2003, over 40 per cent of employers report using software to control written email content. And while 90 per cent of employers have installed software to monitor incoming and outgoing e-mail, only 19 per cent are using technology to monitor internal e-mail among employees. This is a dangerous loophole, according to content security outfit Clearswift, co-sponsors of the survey. "Management's failure to check internal email is a potentially costly oversight," says Ivan O'Sullivan, Vice President of Clearswift. "Off-the-cuff, casual email conversations among employees are exactly the type of messages that tend to trigger lawsuits, arm prosecutors with damaging evidence, and provide the media with embarrassing real-life disaster stories. The ePolicy Institute's Flynn added: "Last week's NASD ruling that Instant Messaging (IM) records must be retained for three years should serve as a wake-up call to financial firms that have yet to adopt e-mail policies and procedures to help manage business risks and reduce legal liability." ®
John Leyden, 23 Jun 2003

Apple recodes OS X Finder for ‘user-centric’ computing

Apple has torn up Mac OS X's old Finder file manager and has started on a new, more "user-centric", less "computer-centric" version, Steve Jobs told Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) attendees in San Francisco today. Top of the list of additional features this new Finder will offer is Labels - colour-coding for icons that Apple last offered with Mac OS 9. Finder's column view has been enhanced to make files easier to search, with a live search feature that narrows the search as you type in extra search characters. Again, Mac OS 9 offered something similar - typing a file name in List view narrowed zipped to the file in question in the same way. The new version of Finder, which will be incorporated into Panther, the next major release of Mac OS X, due "before the end of the year", also offers a Windows XP-style Action button which shows what users can do with any given file, and an iTunes-style panel on the left-hand side of each window providing a list of volumes and key folders. Apple has redesigned the classic Open and Save dialogs to include this same side panel. A distinctly Mac OS X element is the brushed metal look of Apple's iApps. Finder will get it too, making its even more an application and less of a key operating system component. These Finder changes are just part of the 100-odd new features have been added to Mac OS X, Jobs told attendees, including dynamic network browsing, better Active Directory support, printing via SMB, an IPSec-based VPN technology, and faster PDF rendering than even Adobe's software can achieve, Jobs claimed. The new release will also feature Expose, a technology that Jobs promised will make multi-tasking even easier. Based on Quartz Extreme, Expose tiles and shrinks windows into tiny versions on the desktop to provide a visual index of all the windows you have open, not unlike a set of Docked windows. Clicking on one instantly brings it to the fore. Mac OS X's security has been improved with FileVault, which encrypts and decrypts a user's Home folder in real time, protecting your data if your Mac is lost or stolen. As expected, Panther will introduce fast user switching, a way of switching between users without having to close down apps. Available in Windows XP, this features has been a constant of pre-WWDC Panther speculation. It is implemented with a menulet, users can switch quickly with or without having to enter their passwords. And there's a cute cubic map of the multiple desktops that's animated when a switch is made. Mac OS X's Mail application has been enhanced, said Jobs, with HTML rendering provided by Apple's web browser, Safari. Safari's rendering engine framework has been separated from the app itself to allow other software to utilise it, Mail being the first. Mail will also be able to cope with recipients with multiple email addresses, and there's a bulletin board-style threaded view of each in-box, the better to track correspondence with particular individuals. Incidentally, Safari has now gone golden master, shipping later today. Panther will feature a new version of iChat, Apple's instant messaging application, which will soon offer full-screen video and audio conferencing as well as text chat. It offers your own image, picture-in-picture, so you can make sure your camera is pointing in the right direction. Speaking of cameras, iChat will work with any Firewire-connected imaging device. The software will continue to work with AOL's IM service, but soon with .Mac, Apple's subscription-based email service, and Rendezvous, its zero configuration 'instant LAN' technology - but not, it seems, other IM services, such as Yahoo. It even works with a 56Kbps modem, apparently. Apple will bundle the new iChat with Panther, but OS X 2 users will be able to buy it for $24 - presumably Apple will point to this as a saving you can make if you spend $129 on Panther. Until release it will be made available as a free beta version. The new version of the operating system finally - "by popular request", said Jobs - gets faxing built in, delivered through the OS' Print dialog. Just as you can now Save to PDF... with Panther, you'll be able to Fax... documents too. Printing and document creation will be made more friendly with Panther's pro font tools, which allow users to better manage the typefaces at their disposal. Since Mac OS X has at minimum four Font folders, it comes not a moment too soon. And OS X's old NeXT-derived Font panel - which was only available to Cocoa apps in any case - is ripe for renewal. In its place comes an Address Book-metaphor font finder. Like previous major Mac OS X releases, Panther will cost $129. Jobs gave no specific timeframe for the OS' release - it's due before the end of the year - suggesting that the company has some way to go before it's completed. Developers will get their first pre-release copies now, however. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

Apple launches 2GHz, 64-bit Power Mac G5

UpdateUpdate Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled what he claimed was "the world's fastest personal computer" today, ending more than six months of speculation over whether the Mac maker would use IBM's 64-bit PowerPC 970 processor. It is. Apple will offer Power Macs based on the 2GHz processor, and Jobs boldly promised a 3GHz version this time next year. The 970, which Apple is marketing as the G5, as per last week's web site cock-up in which specs. for new Power Macs based on the chip were revealed, is a 64-bit chip that runs 32-bit apps natively, said Jobs. IBM will fab the 58 million transistor chip at 0.13 micron using silicon-on-insulator technology and punch them out on 300mm wafers. The ill-posted specs. proved correct: the 970 will run at up to 2GHz with a 1GHz frontside bus. Describing its "new architecture", Jobs said it has been designed from the ground up for SMP - Apple will offer single and dual-processor systems, he added, with both chips connected to the system controller chip across independent buses. The chip can handle up to 215 in-flight instructions. It has 512KB of L2 cache, but no L3 cache support. He also called the 970 the "first 64-bit desktop processor", which may gall AMD fans, though then Opteron was designed for servers and workstations, not desktop PCs. Apple's first 970-based desktops will support up to 8GB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM across a 128-bit (dual channel) 6.4GBps bus. They will offer AGP 8x Pro, 133MHz PCI-X slots, 1.5GBps Serial ATA with independent interfaces to each drive, digital optical and analog audio I/O, Firewire 800 and 400, Gigabit Ethernet, AirPort Extreme, Bluetooth, and USB 2.0, as per the 'officially' leaked specification. In addition, Jobs said all models would ship with Apple's DVD-R SuperDrive. If the system is cutting edge, the graphics cards aren't, running from Nvidia's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra (with 64MB dedicated video DRAM) at the low-end to ATI's Radeon 9600 Pro (128MB) on the top pre-specced model. The new Power Macs' PowerBook G4-style aluminium enclosure contains nine fans - they're quiet, Jobs promised, indicating they're half as noisy as the most recent Power Mac G4s - which shows just how much heat the 970, ancillary chips and hard drive all pump out. Both the front and rear of the machine is meshed to improve air circulation. Three models will ship in August, said Jobs: a 1.6GHz machine with 256MB SDRAM and an 80GB HDD for $1999 (£1549 in the UK), a 1.8GHz box with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $2399 and a dual 2GHz system also with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $2999. Jobs compared the dual-2GHz Mac to a top-of-range Dell based on twin Intel 3GHz Xeon operating over a 533MHz FSB. The Mac won the shootout. Citing SPEC tests, Jobs said the G5 is three per cent faster on integer maths, but 41 per cent faster on FPU than the dual-Xeon system. Of course, Intel has just move the bar up to 3.2GHz, and it will be interesting to see what effects HyperThreading and an 800MHz frontside bus has on the situation. We await independently-announced test results with interest. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Jun 2003

EU backs biometric passports

European Union governments last week agreed to embed computer chips containing biometric data in passports. The plans to create passports carrying information on a person's fingerprint or retinal scans are presented as a way to reduce counterfeiting and fraud. Biometric chips would also be implanted in visas issued to foreign nationals travelling to Europe. The idea, backed by €140m in EU funding for a feasibility study, was put forward as part of a raft of measures designed to "co-ordinate the European Union's immigration policy" at a summit in Greece last week. The US is the main driver for biometric passports, the International Herald Tribune reports. A European Commission official told the paper that EU governments are bound by a timetable set out by the US government after September 11. Under the US Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, countries whose citizens enjoy visa-free travel to the United States "must issue passports with biometric identifiers no later than Oct. 26, 2004," the IHT reports. "The solution which is mostly likely is a chip in the passport containing fingerprints and eye scans," Pietro Petrucci, an EC spokesman told the paper. Privacy activists are concerned about the lack of openness by governments on what data the chip might contain. If our own Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary are anything to go by, European governments are unlikely to pay much heed to such concerns. Leaps and bounds Biometric technology is developing apace. This month, a security specialist from BT's research arm BTExact showed us a prototype of a biometric passport. The sample, which he obtained through attending a conference on biometrics, contained details of his fingerprints within a chip with a hologram picture of his face embossed on same sheet within a passport. It's unclear when biometric passports for Europeans will be introduced but signs are it will be far earlier than the 2006 introduction the UK Passport Service was talking about last year. Meanwhile there's no talk yet about any insistence about biometric passports for Americans travelling to Europe. Funny that. ® External Links Links to documents from the summit, via Statewatch Related Stories Public opposes ID cards, govt admits Blunkett to intro UK ID cards, via £25 passport tax Too many Watch Lists - Congress Flying to the US? Give US.gov all your personal data Biometric passports for Brits - by 2006
John Leyden, 23 Jun 2003

Veritas goes virtual with server software

Veritas has made good on its acquisition of Jareva Technologies with the release of a new server provisioning software package. Version 3.0 of Veritas' OpForce software will start shipping in early July and is based on the OpForce IT Automation Suite formerly built by Jareva. The product fits in under the broad virtualization software heading. It's designed to make application provisioning easier when dealing with servers from various vendors and a mix of operating systems. Veritas announced its plans to acquire Jareva and Precise Software last year , hoping to build out a strong server-side application portfolio. The company has long been a leader in storage software but has since turned to areas such as clustering and server management to help boost revenue. The OpForce software is one of the key pieces in this plan. The product was built to automate many of the tasks typically handled by an administrator. It will look out over the network, detect and configure various bits of hardware, including servers, switches and load balancers. The OpForce product currently works with Solaris, AIX, Red Hat Linux and Windows servers. HP-UX will no doubt be added to this list over time. The OpForce software delivers most of what is asked from a virtualization product. It lets users manage a wide-range of hardware from one console. The software also handles some advanced features such as moving workloads between systems to get the highest levels of server usage. Virtualization is the buzz word of the moment for hardware and software makers alike. Sun, HP, EMC, CA, IBM - the list goes on and on. Each vendor claims to manage multivendor networks the best. All of the hardware in a data center pops up in a nice GUI and management is a breeze, they say. The vendors preach no lock-ins, strict adherence to standards and openness all around. Despite the hoopla, users have been slow to pick up the virtualization kit. It's new to the scene and people aren't quite sure how if the products work as billed. Overtime, companies such as Veritas hope to overcome the skeptics and woo users with products that combine server and storage virtualization features in one package. The OpForce management server starts at $7,500 and $500 per managed CPU. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jun 2003

Supreme Court backs library porn filters

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that filtering Internet content is a must in order for libraries to receive certain types of federal funding. Free speech crusaders cried as the top court handed down a 6-3 decision in favor of filtering on Monday. The court argued that the Internet changes too fast and has too much content to be monitored manually. Filters are required to keep children safe from porn and other such smut. This decision supports the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which passed in 2000. CIPA called for libraries to block nasty Internet sites from youngsters or give up federal funds. In 2002, a panel of judges ruled that CIPA was unconstitutional. Now the Supreme Court has said, "think again." The U.S. wants to maintain the pure, pristine state of its youth. Blocking large breasts and exposed behinds is a must even if it means some information about the Holocaust, Emma Goldman or the KKK goes missing. Should adults want to have a look at the "bad" sites, two judges suggested they ask their local librarian for permission. Even if you have the look of a porn-fiend in need of a fix, the librarian is to turn the filter off. "Concerns over filtering software's tendency to erroneously 'overblock' access to constitutionally protected speech that falls outside the categories software users intend to block are dispelled by the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled," the court wrote in its decision. Librarians now hold the key to public Internet access, which seems downright odd. It's been a while since we asked for permission to use "all" of the Internet, but apparently it's something we should get used to. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Jun 2003