22nd > July > 2003 Archive

What the hell happened to StoragePoint?

An online storage company - once blessed by Bill Clinton - has vanished into thin air, leaving an untold number of users in a data void. San Diego-based StoragePoint appears to have shut its doors without uttering a word to some users about where their data has gone. Reports have the company providing flaky service over the last couple of months with its storage system shutting down completely last week. The StoragePoint Web site no longer works, calls to the main number are bounced and the CEO Scott Zimmerman's line has been disconnected. E-mail to Zimmerman has not been returned to sender, so there may be hope. Just don't hold your breath. StoragePoint was once an industry darling, coming on the scene as a strong presence in the online storage market. Its WebDrive service received accolades from big names during the company's short life. No less than President Bill Clinton was impressed with its technology, according to an archived StoragePoint release from the 2000 Comdex trade show. "Wow," the President reportedly said, while at StoragePoint's Comdex booth. "You can do that?" Clinton had just seen a demonstration of StoragePoint's technology for retrieving information off a server with a cell phone. Executives told Clinton that he could retrieve private files without using the White House network by logging onto to WebDrive from any computer. Where would his favorite shots of Monica be now? Microsoft also awarded StoragePoint one of the first .Net Best awards. This is either a sign of .Net limitations or Microsoft's poor judgement. Or both. The good times, however, crumbled fast due, in part, to what one former investor called "psycho" actions by Zimmerman. Investors offered up another round of funding to StoragePoint in 2000, but Zimmerman allegedly turned down the extra cash, deciding instead to layoff half of the company's staff. "There was a disagreement between the investors and the founders," the former investor said. "Communications were not good. The psycho owner did not want to keep the company going." But keep going it did. One user reports being able to access his online account as of July 15, only to be denied a couple of days later. The user pegs StoragePoint's demise happening between July 16 and July 18. A check into StoragePoint's DNS records shows that Zimmerman was a reserved fellow. No telephone numbers are listed. Only a bunch of 9s. And no Scott Zimmerman listed in the San Diego phone book would return calls seeking comment. Maybe Zimmerman has toddled off for a holiday after a stressful five years in the online storage space. While the Web is littered with StoragePoint references from 1999 to 2001, there are few mentions of the company since. How many users did it have? How many have been affected by what appears to be a rather sudden collapse? ®
Ashlee Vance, 22 Jul 2003

Snags hold up biometrics, experts say

While widespread use of biometrics technology is expected by 2008, a lot of work still needs to be done to iron out its shortcomings, according to experts. Speaking at the launch of European Biometrics Forum (EBF) in Dublin on Monday, Anthony Allan research director with Gartner Research outlined the pros and cons of using biometrics technology, highlighting privacy concerns and obstacles to user acceptance, such as the treatment of people with disabilities and respecting religious practices. Headquartered in Dublin, the EBF is a network of some of Europe's key biometrics experts and organisations. The group is supported by the EU and the Irish government and its mission is to promote biometrics, to develop industry standards, and to investigate the technology's shortcomings and potential new uses. Biometrics refers to the use of technology to identify people based on unique physical characteristics such as their fingerprints, voice, iris retina or face. The technology was thought to be the next boom sector after September 11th, pegged as the ideal way to beef up security at airports and other public places. But Allan said that even if sophisticated biometrics gear was in place in US airports, the technology alone probably would not have stopped the attacks. "They were legitimate travellers," he said, referring to September 11th terrorists, "they weren't known as terrorists then, so they wouldn't have appeared on recognition systems." Indeed, Allan said that without adequate back security measures and databases, biometrics equipment is more or less useless. What's more, biometrics has proven to be fallible, with evidence available that has shown that wearing glasses can fool an eye scanner, prosthetic make-up can affect face scanners, a sore throat can change a voiceprint and that breathing heavily on a fingerprint scanner can also make prints unrecognisable. Trying to dispel the perception that biometrics is the answer to world terrorism, Kush Wadhwa, director of consulting for International Biometrics Group said, "Biometrics is a security system like any other. Biometrics is one aspect, but one has to make sure all aspects of the system work." Rather than boosting the biometrics industry, the 9/11 attacks actually slowed growth, Wadhwa said, because everyone who was going to adopt the technology waited to see what the government would do in terms of usage and legislation, and "government cycles are very slow." In Ireland, the introduction of national ID cards and biometric passports has provoked controversy, amid fears of data protection and privacy. On this front, the trustworthiness of staff with access to biometrics systems and data is considered to be important. A question the government and companies would need to ask itself in adopting biometric national IDs is "what checks and balances do you have to prevent them (staff) issuing false IDs to people," according to Allan. The lack of standards is seen as another big problem that needs to be tackled. "There are not enough standards in the biometrics industry and that is a hurdle," said Wadhwa. However, he said EBF will unify Europe in terms of different types of biometrics initiatives, including standards, interoperability (transfer of data from one biometrics system to another), and applications. Yet despite its shortcomings, the technology has its strong points. Since biometric traits are more closely associated with an individual, they are regarded as better than passwords or tokens because they cannot be forgotten. Newer generations of biometrics technology are also more sophisticated and more accurate, such as new fingerprint scanners that incorporate methods of detecting body heat and blood flow and can scan below the surface layer making it more difficult to replicate © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 22 Jul 2003

Cisco and Intel: the alliance the wireless world should fear

The announcement says "Intel and Linksys." But you have to remember that these days, Linksys is owned by Cisco. Together these two giants, Intel and Cisco, are setting up their own little rival to the WiFi Alliance. Well, not so little, maybe... The first stage is "a technology and marketing program to improve the experience of setting up and operating wireless networks in homes and small offices" using Linksys wireless routers and access points and Intel Centrino mobile technology. There is nothing, at this stage, about what some fear to be the real threat to all rival suppliers of access points and makers of wireless adapter cards - no mention of Cisco Client Extensions, or CCX. But if you can't see the path from here to there, you can't be concentrating. The announcement is seen by Paul Otellini, Intel president and chief operating officer, as crucial to the corporation's future. Otellini himself made the launch presentation, saying that "the rapid adoption of Intel Centrino mobile technology shows that mobile users support Intel's vision of mobile computing and faster, simpler access to the Internet." He elaborated: "Intel Centrino mobile technology and Linksys wireless products are a powerful combination in the effort to broaden the use of wireless broadband." The question is whether anybody else will get a look in. Initially, Intel is conducting engineering testing or "verification" of Intel Centrino mobile technology, to make sure that it works correctly with Linksys wireless access points and routers that are currently available. It's described as "joint engineering and co-marketing work." Here's where the WiFi Alliance should start to worry: the verified Linksys products "will be identified with a 'Verified with Intel Centrino mobile technology' label on the packaging to help inform consumers that the Intel and Linksys products have been tested to work together," says the joint announcement. That, in a nutshell, is what the WiFi Alliance has taken upon itself to do for the industry. The question it faces is this: can it continue to make the WiFi logo the important one? or will people look, instead, for the Centrino and "Verified with" badge? There are those who have ridiculed this idea. They say that rival companies like Agere and Intersil have dominated the market, and won't be pushed aside; and that there have been few successes in marketing to match the WiFi promotion. And they're right! - but the future may be different. Already, things are moving. It would be hard to overestimate the impact of the arrival of Linksys into the market with the high-speed new pre-standard (now 802.11g) at the end of last year. Rival suppliers of access points say that their figures show that sales of access points into the home rose enormously - according to US Robotics, by as much as five times. In the same way that Linksys dominates today's domestic market, so Cisco rules the roost in the corporate space; and now the two have joined together, they pretty much own the access point business. And Intel, while still just "one of the players" in the client wireless business, and still buying its wireless chips from others, has already said what it plans. It plans to incorporate the client circuitry, not just in notebooks, but also in its processor chips. The verification effort is under way, and verified Linksys products will be available at retail locations throughout Europe starting in September. Intel and Linksys have also committed to work on new ways to maximise wireless performance and enhance wireless connectivity as part of the program. This includes plans to develop technology that will allow notebook PCs based on Intel Centrino mobile technology to detect the presence of Linksys wireless products and configure them with minimal effort by the end user. Today, notebook PCs are manually configured to interact with a wireless network. Work is under way to enable Intel and Linksys products with the advanced configuration technology in 2004. "I truly believe that partnerships are one of the keys to the future success of the networking industry — benefiting not just partner companies, but the end customer with quicker access to technologies, greater innovation and ease of use," said John Chambers, president and chief executive officer of Cisco Systems, Inc. "The combination of Intel, Linksys and Cisco technologies helps to fuel wireless adoption in the home and enterprise markets, which are major areas of growth for the industry." Neither Intel nor Cisco has officially embraced the 11g standard (giving 54 megabits per second instead of the normal 11 megabits that 11b offers at 2.4 GHz). But that is due to be announced, probably jointly, towards the end of summer. It's not all going to be plain sailing. The hype says it is. According to the spin machine, Centrino "represents Intel's best technology for mobile PCs" and it has already been "verified interoperable with hotspot service providers world wide" and "Linksys wireless access points and routers deliver seamless, trouble-free wireless broadband connectivity in home or small business environments using wireless LAN (802.11 a, b and g) technology." In reality, Centrino has been just another wireless client, so far, and many people have seen no reason to buy the full Centrino package. The Pentium M processor, which is part of Centrino, works just as well without the rest of the package. And the wireless which Intel currently provides is just another 11b client, while many users (at home, certainly! - not necessarily in the office) want the faster 11g performance, and are prepared to buy the plug-in Linksys card. And similarly, the "seamless, trouble-free" wireless broadband hasn't been the same experience for all users. Retail stores say that the problem is one of installability; they say that returns of "up to 40%" in some stores are reported, by users who simply can't work out how to get networking started. The plan for the future is to make this hype real: to make it a simple plug-in-and-go system where all the user does is switch on the power, plug in the broadband cable, and log in. "Linksys and Intel have committed their relationship to broaden innovative wireless offerings, while improving the user experience for home and small office users," is the way the partners put it. Since January, Linksys and Intel announced several joint development projects on wireless products using Intel's IXP4xxx family of network processors featuring Intel XScale architecture. There will be more... and the WiFi Alliance will find it has a real rival for credibility on its hands. And Alliance members will find themselves increasingly out in the cold. The next stage, however, will be the move into the office. Cisco Client Extensions, or CCX will become a requirement for commercial deployment, if Cisco has its way. And if Intel builds CCX into Centrino - and it will - then it's really hard to see what the WiFi Alliance can do to preserve itself, or its members. Because one thing is utterly clear: Cisco is not going to let anybody else build access points with CCX technology. Except, of course, its new subsidiary, Linksys... © NewsWireless.Net
Guy Kewney, 22 Jul 2003
Broken CD with wrench

OptimalJ proves its case

On Monday (July 21st) Compuware announced version 3.0 of OptimalJ. This has some important new features, writes Phil Howard, of Bloor Research. However, perhaps even more interesting is the simultaneous release of independent performance analyses that the company has commissioned into the performance benefits of OptimalJ compared to Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). These analyses indicate pretty conclusively that OptimalJ offers substantial advantages when compared to the more prosaic coding approaches. Actually, Compuware is keen to point out that it is not really OptimalJ that has been compared to IDEs but the use of a model-driven architecture (MDA) in general. However, there is no getting way from the fact that it is Compuware's implementation of MDA (which is an OMG standard) that has proved to be so much more efficient than conventional coding. Compuware has commissioned three different studies of which two have reported. The first results are from The Middleware Group, which is very well respected within the Java community. The Middleware Group assigned two groups of similarly experienced developers to build the same J2EE-based application, one using OptimalJ and one using a popular IDE (though it is important to note that in the latest release you can use JBuilder, WebSphere Studio or Sun ONE Studio in conjunction with OptimalJ, as well as the built-in NetBeans). The bald figures were that the IDE group took 507 hours to build the application, whereas the OptimalJ group took just 330 hours. Moreover, the quality of the code generated by OptimalJ was higher. Of course this doesn't count the training period for the developers using OptimalJ (who had not previously used it). On the other hand it doesn't take account of the fact that those developers would probably be more proficient. The second reference test was done by EDS which undertook two investigations. In the first case, it looked at the number of lines of code that needed to be manually written to write the Java Pet Store reference application (which was also used by The Middleware Group), using J2EE, J2EE with OptimalJ and for comparison, using .Net. The total application required 14,273 lines of code for J2EE; 3,484 for .Net and just 610 for OptimalJ. The second investigation by EDS was to find out the time taken to migrate from an EJB 1.1 based application (again, using the same application as above), to an EJB 2.0 environment. Normally you might measure such an upgrade in months. Using an MDA approach (with OptimalJ) it took a mere 30 minutes. So far as the new release of OptimalJ is concerned, this contains a number of new features. Apart from the support for additional IDEs (only JBuilder was supported previously) and the introduction of new licensing options, perhaps the most significant new development is that Compuware has opened up the technical patterns in OptimalJ. The technical patterns provide the rules that convert the domain model to the application model. So being able to access these rules means that you can introduce your own rules, where appropriate. For example, if you wanted all EJBs to be message driven then you could define such a rule and then the appropriate generation would be automated. It's unusual but I think the new features of OptimalJ are overshadowed by the results of the performance comparisons it has commissioned. These should do much to further the cause of the OMG's model-driven architecture in general, and OptimalJ in particular. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 22 Jul 2003

Brits ‘spend’ £25m a year at work on chat, sex, TV vote calls

According to research by BT, UK workers blew £25 million last year dialing chat lines, sex lines and TV vote lines from their desks. A total of 35 million calls were made to premium rate phone lines – costing up to £1.50 a minute – when employees should have been working. Financial advisors and hotel workers topped the league for rogue callers and London, Birmingham and Chelmsford in Essex were the areas with the highest numbers of offenders. The best-behaved employees were in the health and social work sector. Norwich and Wrexham were the most honest areas. But, BT said, bosses were now able to hit back at this sort of wastage by using their ‘network call performance solution’ which allowed them to pinpoint where premium calls had been made and launch a crackdown. Craig Rowland, managing director of BT Business said every hour 15,000 UK workers call a premium rate number from their desk and this was a graphic illustration of the need for businesses to have greater certainty and control over their phone bills. “For many companies, the amount of premium rate calls can cause an unexpected shock when the phone bill arrives but our new Business Plan lets you analyse your call patterns for free, then decide what action to take. “For example, some companies put bars on certain types of calls whilst others find that a warning to their staff can do the trick. “Our customers are increasingly telling us they want certainty and simplicity with their phone services,” he said. For further information on BT’s Business Plan package customers can ring 00800 389 8721 or visit www.bt.com/btbusinessplan to check their eligibility. ©
Startups.co.uk, 22 Jul 2003

Punters climb on board MMO2

MM02 attracted half a million new punters during the last quarter, bringing its total customer base to just under 19 million. In Germany and the UK the mobile phone company also reported that punters were spending more, although average revenue per user (ARPU) remained flat in Ireland. In the UK, the number of 02 punters increased ten per cent (258,000) on the previous quarter to 12.3 million with each of them spending, on average, around £254 on mobile stuff. Specifically, O2's contract punters spent around £504 - essentially flat compared to the previous four quarters - while its pre-pay punters increased their spending by 17 per cent to £128. In Germany, O2 added 225,000 new customers in the three months to the end of June taking its total base to a smidgen over 5 million. ARPU was also up a tad too. In a statement mm02 chief exec Peter Erskine said the company has "maintained our momentum in both the UK and German markets, in the face of increased competition". However, he accepted that there were still "challenges ahead" referring in part to increased price competition from the likes of 3 in the UK and the recent regulatory ruling from Oftel that should see the cost of mobile phone calls fall for consumers. Shares in MMO2 were down 1.25p (2.31 per cent) at 52.75p by mid morning. ® Related Stories Mobile networks lose Oftel price cuts appeal 3 UK unveils new pricing bundles
Tim Richardson, 22 Jul 2003

DDR 400 prices up 14 per cent

Top-end DDR SDRAM prices are on the rise, Taiwanese online DRAM trader DRAMeXchange has reported. Contract prices for 400MHz DDR rose almost 14 per cent last week over the first two weeks of July, the trader's figures reveal. According to DRAMeXchange, contract prices for 256Mb DDR 400 chips are now at between $4.90 and $5.40, while 256Mb DDR 333 chips are going for $4.40-4.80, up 13.95 per cent and 12.31 per cent, respectively. By contrast, the spot market prices have settled down. Yesterday's prices were $4.80-5.60 for DDR 400, the same as Friday's prices, and $4.60-5.15 for DDR 333, up just 0.7 per cent of Friday's close. Register readers have reported rising DDR prices from memory suppliers. Crucial, for example, is now charging £64.61 for a 512MB PC3200 DIMM, up from around £45 three weeks ago, readers tell us. That has almost certainly occurred because of increased demand among major PC vendors for these types of memory. Initially, that demand put pressure on spot market prices as vendors with long-term purchase deals sucked up top-end DDR chips. Such has been their appetite that inventories have been cleared and contract prices are now rising too, achieving near parity with spot prices. Owners of 266MHz DDR systems can take little comfort from the price increases. Thanks to memory manufacturers' increased focus on the higher end parts, DDR 266 is becoming harder to buy, pushing up prices. Contract prices 128Mb chips are now up to the $2.302.60 range, an increase of 18.42 per cent. Module contract prices have risen too, says DRAMeXchange. 256MB PC300 boards have risen 13.89 per cent to $41-45 between the first half of July and the second half of the month. 256MB PC2700 and 2100 board contract prices have gone up 12.12 per cent to $37-39 over the same period. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Michael Jackson ‘speechless’ on P2P jail bill

Michael Jackson has slammed a proposed US bill which could see music file traders jailed for downloading just one illegal copy. In a statement, the superstar said: "I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music. It is wrong to illegally download, but the answer cannot be jail. "Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws, and we should look to new technologies like Apple's new Music Store for solutions. "This way, innovation continues to be the hallmark of America. It is the fans that drive the success of the music business." Last week Congressmen Howard Berman and John Conyer (both Democrats) teamed up introduce the Authors, Consumer and Computer Owners Protection and Security Act of 2003 (ACCOPS Act). This legislation would, as El Reg's Thomas Greene wrote, "simply assume that any P2P activity with a copyrighted file involves more than ten copies and represents a retail value of $2,500, automatically making it a felony and bringing in the possibility of incarceration. That's ten copies and a minimum of $2,500 assumed per individual file, we believe." This is too whacko even for Jacko. Surely, the bill won't make it through the House? ® Related stories Congress mulls prison terms for KaZaA users US Senator would destroy MP3 traders' PCs Congress to turn hacks into hackers Fab Hacker shirts at Cash and Carrion Caps, mugs, rubberwear too
Drew Cullen, 22 Jul 2003

Court slams Vogon for overbilling Serious Fraud Office

Data recovery specialist Vogon was heavily criticised n court last week for attempting to overcharge the Serious Fraud Office. Judge Richard Seymour, sitting in the Technology and Construction Court division of the High Court, dismissed Vogon's action regarding a disputed claim of payment for data recovery services to the SFO. Vogon had originally estimated that work recovering emails from 50 Exchange Server backup tapes, which the SFO needed as evidence as part of an investigation, would cost £22,500. When Vogon presented a bill of £314,375 (plus VAT) for the work - without further reference back to its clients - the SFO balked at paying the much higher amount. The case went to court where Vogon's claim "resoundingly failed". Neil Barrett, technical director at UK consultancy Information Risk Management (IRM), who appeared as expert witness for the respondent (SFO) in the civil case, told us he had "never seen anything as damning" as the ruling Judge Seymour handed down in the case. The Judge described Vogon's witnesses as "unsatisfactory" and "evasive" and criticised the firm to deliberately attempted to mislead" at the end of the two day case. David Jones, Head of Information at the Serious Fraud Office, said "Vogon had claimed nearly £315,000 for the work - about 14 times greater than the work warranted." "[Vogon's] claim is far removed from reality as it is astronomical," he added. The Judge found in favour of the SFO, putting the bill for Vogon's work at £22,500, which is hardly likely to cover legal expenses arising from the dispute. Vogon is to pay court cost for the action, including the SFO's costs. The firm was denied leave to appeal the ruling. ®
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2003

ATI schedules Radeon 9200SE for July launch

ATI will launch a budget graphics chip, the Radeon 9200SE, before the end of the month, DigiTimes reports citing unnamed sources. The 9200SE is essentially a cut-down version of the 9200. It's clocked at 200MHz (the 9200 runs at 250MHz) and has a 64-bit memory bus (the 9200 has 128 bits of memory bandwidth). The 9200SE supports 333MHz DDR memory, compared to 400MHz DDR on the 9200. The Radeon 9200 Pro, by comparison, has a core clock frequency of 275MHz, a 550MHz DDR memory clock and 128 bits of memory bandwidth. All three chips support AGP 8x and DirectX 8.1. That ATI has such a chip in production is clear to see from VisionTek's web site, which has a page dedicated to the company's Xtasy 9200 SE board, which it's offering in PCI and AGP versions, with either 64MB or 128MB of video memory. VisionTek's page lends weight to claims that the part is already available - though possibly in limited quantities - and the launch will simply mark its official debut and mass production. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Philips spin-off sells design tools team to ARM

ARM has bought DSP specialist Adelante Technologies' A|RT co-processor design tools operation. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition transfers ownership of A|RT to ARM, along with the Adelante's Adelante Technologies Belgium subsidiary, based in Leuven. Adelante will continue to develop its other embeddable DSP designs, Saturn and Galaxic in its Dutch and US facilities. Like ARM, Adelante specialises in developing technology which it licenses to chip manufacturers rather than producing devices of its own. It focuses on wireless, media processing and what it calls "infotainment applications" - MPEG 2/4 and DVD encoding and decoding, in other words. Adelante was formed in 2001 when Philips turned its DSP design operation into an independent company and merged it with Mentor Graphics' recently spun off Frontier Design subsidiary. Adelante's Leuven facility was formerly Frontier's home, where it created and maintained A|RT. Essentially, the sale of Adalante Technologies Belgium to ARM amounts to selling off Frontier. That suggests there's some truth to industry rumours that emerged earlier this year that Philips wants to reintegrate Adelante. Philips owns 92 per cent of Adelante. It originally said it wanted to reduce its stake in the company to under 50 per cent, but in the semiconductor industry's current troubled economic climate, it has failed to find companies willing to invest in the spin-off. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Intuit opens UK small.biz support service

Sometimes it appears that a small business can't move without having someone, somewhere trying to proffer advice how to do it properly. Now Intuit, the accountancy software developer, is getting in on the act in the UK. It is setting up an independent advice site "primarily" for its own Quickbook customers. Unlike, say, our small business content partners Startups.co.uk and bCentral.co.uk, Intuit is to charge a subscription for its support service to the tune of £200 a year. Its value-add is supplied through content from Croner, the business information provider, supported by an unlimited use hotline and newsletter and, we guess, a fairly deep understanding of QuickBooks. Intuit's Business Support service is designed to help small business customers with "all management issues", the company says. Intuit cites research conducted by Barclays Bank last year that "small firms using business support services are around 20 percent more likely to stay in business after 26 months than those that do not". Which means more renewals on those QuickBook support contracts. ® Related links Intuit press release Intuit introduction to Small Business Service
Drew Cullen, 22 Jul 2003

Transmeta TM8000 to support LPC Flash

Transmeta's long-awaited TM8000 processor will support Low Pin Count (LPC) Flash from Sharp and STMicro, the company said today. Essentially, the TM8000 will be able to control and access LPC Flash chips without the need for ancillary chips. That, Transmeta says, will lead to improved energy efficiency in TM8000-based systems. It also leads to superior security, the chip maker claimed, since the Flash memory will be connected directly to the CPU. LPC Flash is typically used to store system BIOS settings. The LPC format is itself designed to reduce system complexity (and thus cost) and power consumption. Operating across a parallel bus, it's also faster than current serial Flash interfaces. LPC isn't new - 8Mb devices have been available on the market for some time now - but both STMicro and Sharp used the Transmeta announcement to tout their new 16Mb parts - the M50LPW116 and LHF00L01, respectively - which they claim are the first chips of that density to come to market. The TM8000 is on track to go into production this quarter, Transmeta said. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Post TI deal, Sendo and Orange settle MS phone suit

Sendo and Orange today announced the "settlement" of Sendo's patent lawsuit against the phone network, with a singularly minimalist statement. "Sendo and Orange today announced settlement of the patent action between Sendo and Orange. Sendo have withdrawn the lawsuit and will contribute to Orange's costs. The terms of the settlement are to remain confidential", the pair statemented in harmony. But while Sendo paying Orange's costs might be seen as a capitulation, and hence a severe blow to the company's IP protection hopes, the opposite seems to be the case. Yesterday TI announced it had struck a patent licensing deal with Sendo "related to smartphone technology" and in the department of delphic utterances, added "as a result of the licensing agreement, TI will not be changing its prices for OMAP devices". You could conjure with the question of why somebody felt motivated to shove that one in all day, but we won't. The bottom line is that the patent that was the subject of Sendo's action is included in the TI deal, making pursuing Orange pointless from Sendo's point of view, so the action magically vanishes. It also means Sendo has gained some acknowledgement from TI of it's IP claims. A Sendo spokeswoman said the company still does not exclude future action against companies it sees as infringing its IP, and noted that it is necessary to act on infringement of patents in order to be able to maintain them. This is simply a reiteration of previous Sendo statements, and makes it pretty clear that somewhere within those confidential terms lies an acknowledgement. Otherwise, Sendo would have difficulty in pursuing action under UK patent law against future offenders, should there be any. Not suing TI customers however thins down the potential targets a tad. ® Related story Sendo sues Orange over MS SPV smartphone IP
John Lettice, 22 Jul 2003

Unexpected GSM mobile phone network found in Baghdad

A Reuters report so wacky we feel sure it must be true reports the mysterious appearance of a mobile phone network in Baghdad yesterday. And it is erm, a GSM mobile phone network. The company formerly known as WorldCom currently runs a network for the US military and related operations, but - at least until yesterday - there was some confusion as to whether the jury was still out on who was getting the gig, or whether at least one tender had been awarded. Yesterday's weirdnesses would however tend to suggest that we have some kind of done deal, and furthermore that it has been done with ungrateful foreigners in defiance of the Qualcomm campaigning of frothing congressman Darrell Issa. Life is somewhat complicated if the foreigners turn out to be valued allies and/or domiciled in local friendly countries it's important to keep onside. Reuters reports that foreign registered GSM phones were receiving welcoming text messages saying "MTC-Vodafone wishes you a pleasant stay in Kuwait," and that some users achieved brief service on Bahrain's Batelco. MTC already operates in Basra, but the administration has plans for three licences across Iraq. Or would that be two? Or maybe one? ®
John Lettice, 22 Jul 2003

Euro Q2 smartphone sales sky rocket

The European PDA market is bouncing back, according to the latest figures from market watcher Canalys, with Palm and Sony doing particularly well out of growing demand for mobile devices. That demand is highlighted by a 239 per cent increase in unit shipments between Q2 2002 and Q2 2003, Canalys reports. Of course, that growth was driven by sales of smartphones, notably Sony Ericsson's P800 and Nokia's 3650, but PDA have performed well too, the company said. Shipments of PDAs with and without wireless communications - what Canalys terms 'data-centric devices' - jumped 51 per cent during the second quarter to 2003, from 415,350 units in Q2 2002 to 627,520. By contrast, shipments of smartphones 'voice-centric' handhelds - rocketed 1156 per cent during the same timeframe, from 85,050 devices to 1,068,430. Among PDA providers, Palm and Sony showed significant year-on-year growth of 45 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively. HP's shipments grew too, by two per cent, but not enough to prevent its market share tumbling from 36 per cent to a quarter. Canalys said it expects HP to do better during Q3, thanks to new models and better inventory management. The release of Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC may help too. Medion came from nowhere thanks to a Pocket PC bundled with a GPS navigation system, all targeted at the German retail market. However, the real winners in the PDA market were the unnamed vendors - the likes of Handspring, Casio, Toshiba etc. - who together saw 86 per cent growth and achieved better combined unit shipments than all but Palm. PDA Vendor Shipments Vendor Q2 2003 Shipments Q2 2003 Market share Q2 2002 Shipments Q2 2002 Market share Q2 2002 Change Palm 210,850 34% 145,080 35% 45% HP 154,600 25% 151,530 36% 2% Medion 47,450 8% N/A N/A N/A Sony 46,100 7% 28,090 7% 64% Others 168,520 27% 90,650 22% 86% Source: Canalys Among smartphone vendors, Nokia unsurprisingly took the lion's share of the market - 78 per cent of it. Indeed, Nokia shipped more smartphones during Q2 2003 than the PDA guys combined. The number two, Sony Ericsson, only accounted for 15 per cent of shipments, but its growth was almost four times that of its rival. Orange took five per cent of the market, thanks to its Microsoft Pocket PC-based SPV. Smartphone Vendor Shipments Vendor Q2 2003 Shipments Q2 2003 Market share Q2 2002 Shipments Q2 2002 Market share Q2 2002 Change Nokia 838,650 78% 59,220 70% 1316% Sony Ericsson 164,750 15% 3,410 4% 4731% Orange 58,070 5% N/A N/A N/A Others 6,960 1% 22,420 26% -69% Source: Canalys
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Linux and Linus in Las Vegas

At CA World in Las Vegas, CA devoted a day to Linux, writes Robin Bloor of Bloor Research. This included a panel session for press and analysts, chaired by Sam Greenblatt, SVP and Chief Architect of CA's Linux Technology Group. The panel was made up of a selection of the great and the good from the Linux community. It included: Linus Torvalds, living legend and creator of Linux, Jon MadDog Hall, President of Linux International, Larry Augustin, Chairman of VA Software Corp, Jay Peretz, VP Oracle Corp, Michael Evans VP, Red Hat and Juergen Geck, CTO of SuSE Linux. The following are edited highlights of the session. Question: What do you think the effect of the SCO legal case will be on Linux adoption? Larry Augustin (VA): We have seen no effect at all on end user adoption. This is a single contract instance dispute between SCO and IBM. I believe IBM knows how to take care of itself in legal disputes. I don't think it will affect anything. Question: Why did SuSe win the Munich deal? What does it mean for Linux? Juergen Geck (SuSE): I think the primary reason was that SuSE was able to provide an enterprise level offering that stemmed from a single code base - plus we were able to offer in depth support, guaranteed for 5 years. Two weeks ago I was on a panel with three people from the Microsoft German office. The same question came up and Microsoft were behaving very defensively. They said "While you have won Munich, we won Frankfurt." Michael Evans (Red Hat): We are now witnessing unbridled growth of Linux sales in all dimensions - different geographies, different vertical sectors, different applications, different hardware platforms. Larry Augustin (VA): We are witnessing something new: customer pull. Previously we had to evangelise and take the Linux story to the customer. Now the customer is coming to us and asking us how do they get on to Linux. Jon 'Maddog' Hall: Microsoft doesn't understand. They don't have an answer. They have not figured out a way to compete with Linux or to embrace Linux. Question: What does the panel think about Linux fragmentation? Various panel members in discussion: There are 150 distributions of Linux, but it is a standard architecture and there is a standard kernel. It is not as bad as it sounds. There is no distinct intellectual property within Linux. Because of that, none of the distributions have any interest in varying the code in an attempt to get some advantage - as happened with Unix. It is a matter of which release and which components are provided. In fact it is a shared business driver (for Red Hat, SuSE, VA, etc.) that there should be no real fragmentation. Question: What are you hearing from the customers? Michael Evans (Red Hat): The main thing that is happening now is that customers are asking "What is your Linux story?" and "How can you help me get on to Linux faster?". There is still a lot of work to be done in education. Question: What does the panel have to say about the accusation that some companies donate code to Linux for their own corporate advantage? Linus Torvalds: I do not take code from IBM, or Intel, or CA, or Oracle. I take code from engineers. It just happens that some of those engineers work for IBM or Intel or CA or Oracle. But this is not a consideration when we accept donations of code. Question: Is there a practical barrier to the spread of Open Source products? Linus Torvalds: I used to think there was a barrier, but now I do not. There is a barrier to Open Source in niche areas perhaps, where the open source model may not create a large enough community to make an open source approach worthwhile. Question: Does the panel have any further comments they'd like to make? Jon 'maddog' Hall: It's humbling to think of thousands of programmers working together to a common aim. They are not working for nothing, they are working for each other. Larry Augustin (VA): My only disappointment so far, is the time it has taken for the Linux desktop to take off. This is happening now, but I had hoped it would happen sooner. Jay Peretz (Oracle): Open source is turning software vendors into service providers. Michael Evans (Red Hat): One year ago I saw the tornado as being about a hundred miles off, a few months ago it was on our doorstep, now we're inside the tornado of demand. Juergen Geck (SuSE): One OS for everything, from embedded systems and hand held devices to massive clusters. It is unique. Jon 'maddog' Hall: I've seen Linux applications running on a Sony Playstation - and an X-Box. Larry Augustin (VA): Code is moving in one direction only. It is moving into open source. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories SCO says it's time for Linux users to pay up Microsoft down and out in Munich Revealed - Microsoft's Munich sweeteners CA takes Linux to heart Fab Hacker shirts at Cash and Carrion Caps, mugs, rubberwear too
IT-Analysis, 22 Jul 2003

Palm Tungsten T2 launch imminent

ExclusiveExclusive Palm will release the Tungsten T2, the follow-up to the popular Tungsten T, later this month, possibly as early as Wednesday, 23 July. According to official details seen by The Register, the T2 is the same form factor as the current model, so the version we reported on earlier today, is not, at least for now, the next generation of the PDA. However, the new machine does match leaked details of the T2 which appeared on a Chinese web site in June. The T2 features a 320x320 transflective colour screen to match those of Palm's more recent Zire 71 and Tungsten C devices. The machine's memory has been upped to a disappointing 32MB - well short of the 64MB bundled into the C and now commonplace on rival Pocket PC devices, but double the T's meagre 16MB. Making the extra 16MB accessible is Palm OS 5.2.1, which powers the new PDA. The new version of the operating system also includes Graffiti 2, as per the Tungsten C and Zire 71 (see our reviews of the Tungsten C and the Zire 71). The T2 is, like the T, powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP 1510 processor. It's not yet clear whether Palm has upped the T2's clock speed from the T's 144MHz. The T2's dimensions (7.5 x 10.2 x 1.5cm) and weight (159g; 5.6oz) are identical to those of the original model. The unit's case is exactly the same as that of the T. Palm will be bundling the usual array of applications, including Documents To Go, Chapura's Microsoft Outlook conduit, RealOne Player, Kinoma Player and Producer (port movies to your Palm), AvantGo and VersaMail 2.5. The T currently retails for around £299 including UK sales tax; $349 in the US. The T2 is set to ship in the UK for £329 including sales tax - and probably around $399 in the US, though we don't yet have official confirmation of this. ® Related Stories Second Tungsten T successor surfaces Palm Tungsten-T follow-up revealed? Review: Palm Zire 71 PDA Review: Palm Tungsten C Wi-Fi PDA Introducing Reg and Hacker branded USB kit
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

One US.gov smartcard ID to fit all

The United States government is moving towards issuing single smart card identity credentials for all federal employees. To ensure these smart IDs work across all of the government, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has established a new committee, the Federal Identity and Credential Committee (FICC), to co-ordinate smart card technology roll out programs across government departments. Policy makers see smart cards as a key element in a more secure and more efficient government. The departments of Defense, Interior, State and Treasury have between them issued approximately 3.5 million smart ID cards to date to strengthen security and add new capabilities including identity verification and secure network access. It's hoped that new policies and maturing standards would broaden the use of smart cards in government. FICC will build on the existing implementations as well as the newly released version 2.1 of the Government Smart Card Interoperability Specification developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "In the future we hope to have a full implementation of an interoperable smart card for all employees of the federal government," said Lolie Kull, senior security specialist for the US Department of State and chair of the Interagency Interoperability Task Force. "The OMB defines policy, and there is now a clear path to establish workable interoperability. FICC is the new kid on the block, but it is the kid with the most power," she added. Speakers at the Smart Card Alliance's Government Conference and Expo conference last week reinforced the need for interoperability and were enthusiastic about the role of the new FICC organisation. "We need to eliminate the need to carry around multiple cards," said Mary Dixon, director of the Access Card Office of the Department of Defense. ® Related Stories UK ID scheme complex, costly, won't work, says expert Citywide 'citizen cards' to hit London UK.gov blows £1.5bn on botched IT projects
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2003

Nvidia powers up high-end Quadro FX

Nvidia today introduced the latest additions to its Quadro line of workstation graphics cards, the FX 3000 and the FX 3000G. The new chips more than double the memory bandwidth of Nvidia's previous top-of-the-range offering, the Quadro FX 2000, from 12.8GBps to 27.2GBps. Boards based on the new parts will support up to 256MB of DDR 2 SDRAM, double what the 2000 can handle. That 256MB will allow display resolutions of up to 3840 x 2400 pixels. Both chips support the ability to manage two overhead projection units, allowing them to be combined to create a single, large image, or to blend two separate images together. In addition, the 3000G provides framelock facilities so that cards in multiple systems can be clustered to co-operatively render a single image. It also offers genlock video signal synchronisation for high-end video post-production work. Like previous Quadro FX chips, the new 3000-series parts provide fill 128-bit floating point precision and 12-bit sub-pixel precision. They can render eight pixels per clock and apply 16 textures per pixel. They offer 16x full-screen anti-aliasing. Nvidia said the Quadro FX 3000 will be initially made available on boards built into workstations from IBM and HP. The 3000G will be offered by both companies, from HP in the autumn and from IBM "by special order". Both chips are in volume production now. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Lindows unveils HDD-less $169 Linux appliance

Consumer Linux company Lindows.com is getting into the information appliance business, the company said today. It has begun offering the WebStation, a small office/home office-oriented PC, for a mere $169. Of course, that doesn't buy you a top-spec. system. You don't even get a monitor. The WebStation is based on a VIA C3 733MHz processor and comes with 256MB of PC133 memory (which Lindows mistakenly describes as "DDR"), a 24x CD-ROM drive, keyboard, mouse and a pair of speakers. Each unit sports a couple of USB ports. Clever readers will have noted the lack of a hard drive specification in that list. The WebStation doesn't have one - it boots off the bundled LindowsOS 4.0 CD. Lindows boasts that this makes the system "virtually indestructible" because "system settings are not subject to long-term damage when settings are changed. Simply restarting the WebStation instantly restores it to its original settings". We'd note that that will make start-up and application loading times rather long. It also limits Linux's virtual memory facilities somewhat, so we dread to think what the performance of this thing is like. Then again, what can you expect for a sub-$200 machine? Users concerned such about performance issues might be more interested in the $299 system offered by Tigerdirect.com, one of Lindows.com's two online WebStation retailers, which includes a 20GB hard drive, a 56x CD-ROM, a 1.2GHz Celeron CPU and a built-in modem. WebStation is available with higher specs. for a higher price - you can add a 20GB hard drive for $67, for example. Lindows' WebStation spec. doesn't list a modem or Ethernet port, so we wonder whether the base model can even connect to the Net - something of a failing for a machine branded WebStation. A closer look at retailer idotpc.com's listing for the WebStation reveals an integrated 10/100 Ethernet connector is included. Phew. To tempt punters who might be worried about Windows compatibility, Lindows is bundling "a robust Microsoft-compatible office suite" - OpenOffice, in other words. Web browsing, instant messaging and digital content playback apps are included too. Lindows sees the WebStation as an ideal second PC for the kids, and for more vertical uses, such as kiosks and library terminals. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2003

Logical flogs French ops to MBO team

Logical, the Datatec-owned networking equipment reseller, is flogging its French ops to an investment constortium including the current management. Terms are undisclosed. In a statement Datatec and Logical Group chief executive Jens Montanana said the disposal was consistent with Logical's decision to concentrate on countries where it has critical mass. "Logical is concentrating on areas where it has demonstrable differentiation, rather than be distracted by activities which require disproportionate investment and management time,". Datatec is a South African-owned business which says it is divesting itself of what it terms non-core operations. Click here for some background on recent financial performance. ®
Drew Cullen, 22 Jul 2003

US names the day for biometric passports

A senior US government official has laid out detailed plans for the timing and form of US government issued biometric passports. Frank Moss, deputy assistant secretary for Passport Services, presented his organisation's plans to evolve to a new, more secure "intelligent document" from today's paper-based passports at the Smart Card Alliance's Government Conference and Expo conference last week. "Our goal is to begin production by October 26, 2004," Moss announced. Current plans call for the new passport books to include a contactless smart chip based on the 14443 standard, with a minimum of 32 Kbytes of EEPROM storage. The chip will contain a compressed full-face image for use as a biometric. European biometric passports, by contrast, are planned to feature both retinal and fingerprint recognition biometrics on their smart cards. For US passports, the image and the passport information stored on the contactless chip will be digitally signed to ensure the integrity of both the data and the passport itself. With this approach "you can read a chip and confirm its validity, but you cannot create one. That is the beauty of public key technology," said Moss. The United States produces about seven million passports per year. For the US Passport Services' program to move forward successfully other countries must also agree to common specifications, so US officials are working closely with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to drive the process forward. There's little doubt this is a US government initiative, fueled by post-9/11 terrorism fears, which is rapidly gaining momentum. 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 October 26, 2004. Quite how effective biometric passports will be in frustrating terrorist activity is a completely different matter... ® Related Stories EU backs biometric passports Biometric passports for Brits - by 2006 Blunkett to intro UK ID cards, via £25 passport tax Now Blunkett wants to charge £39 for ID cards Flying to the US? Give US.gov all your personal data UK ID scheme complex, costly, won't work, says expert
John Leyden, 22 Jul 2003

Broadcom awful quiet about server chip flaw

Broadcom will not utter a peep about how many customers may be affected by a defective chip that caused Sun Microsystems to suspend shipments of two servers. The problem, uncovered earlier this month by El Reg resides in the Broadcom 5704 chip. Sun found that the four onboard Ethernet ports on its low end V210 and V240 servers would send out corrupted packets from time to time and traced the problem to Broadcom's kit. As numerous readers pointed out, the problem is very rare, and Sun has done its part to help customers by sending out replacement gear. Overall, Sun users appeared very impressed with the company's response to the situation. The same cannot be said for Broadcom. Companies such as Sun, HP and IBM use Broadcom gear, but it's unclear as to who is experiencing problems with the 5704 chip. That's because Broadcom won't tell anyone what is going on. Broadcom did not respond to e-mail or phone requests from The Register. It did, however, issue a curt statement to The Orange County Register. "This is an issue that has been identified and resolved with the customer, to their satisfaction. The underlying cause has been fixed. It is a fact of life in the semiconductor industry that technical problems in very complicated chips occasionally occur. When that happens, you respond as we have quickly and with your customer's best interests in mind," Broadcom said. It's been a bad month for Broadcom. On top of the Sun snafu, its ServerWorks subsidiary also had a cock-up with the GrandChampion LE chipset. Can you say, "Quality Control?" Maybe Broadcom will be more forthcoming following its second quarter earnings release, which will arrive later in the day. ®
Ashlee Vance, 22 Jul 2003

Linux in Munich – Gartner gets retaliation in prematurely?

In what some less incisive souls are viewing as ammunition for the counter-attack, a recent Gartner 'first take' (the research outfit's free info-gobbets) warns that Munich city council's decision to migrate to Linux should not be seen as proving the case for Linux on the desktop. Which is no more than, as we say over here, the bleedin' obvious, but although the conclusion is sensible enough (in a bleedin' obvious sort of way, that is), the note also includes some claims that some people might interpret as suggesting Munich's decision was thoroughly perverse. Gartner does not say outright that it thinks the Munich switch will turn out to be a costly failure, but it seems to question the move in terms both of cost and methodology. The migration, it says, will cost around €30 million, whereas an upgrade to Windows would have cost €27 million, excluding the extra discounts from Microsoft which Munich spurned. Alongside this, Gartner claims that "many applications will not migrate to Linux" but will be run either as thin client systems or "using virtual machine software, such as VMware." Gartner then points out that too many VMware implementations "or other workarounds" would result in a higher residual reliance on Windows than planned. As it would - this too is obvious, but it seems to us that we have here a tiger largely of Gartner's manufacture. For starters, there are as yet no lucky winners of the Munich Linux contract, therefore no definitive infrastructure architectures, and therefore no proven case from Munich for Linux on the desktop, or anywhere else for that matter. Munich has taken an in principle decision to switch to Linux, but although it seems likely that local player SuSE, and IBM, will get slices of the action, the contractors have not been formally decided on. After the appointments, the design and the rollout we (should it all work) might conclude we have an indication that Linux can play on the desktop, but proof? Not from one rollout, no matter how large, obviously. Gartner misses the point rather more drastically when it comes to 'VMware and other workarounds.' Certainly you could count use of these as "residual reliance on Windows", but it's a curious way of looking at a setup that will have to be designed in order to handle existing applications currently in use by the customer. Would, one wonders, a 'rip and replace' make Gartner happier, and what does the outfit make of Microsoft legitimising (if this could ever be said of the company) virtual machine technology by buying some? Although Munich's implementation hasn't yet been firmed up, it would not be in the slightest bit surprising if it used a combination of thin client, "other workarounds" (SuSE, for example, could be expected to offer Crossover Office to run some key Windows client apps) and virtual machine technology. The first of these three would require Windows app servers, the last higher spec hardware, but all three are perfectly reasonable mechanisms for deploying a new Linux infrastructure when you have numbers of existing Windows users to cater for. And it's a bit of a stretch to jump from this (although Gartner itself doesn't do this) to assuming that Munich will merely be deploying Linux boxes then running Windows wholesale on them under emulation. And the tab? €30 million versus sub-&euro$27 million doesn't sound particularly clever, but we have known since the decision was made that Munich spurned Steve Ballmer himself, bearing an extra-special deal that undercut the Linux bid. The price tags offered to major customers that Microsoft wishes to stop defecting will frequently be lower than the alernative offers, but to presume that this must mean the outfits turning them down must be mad is again to miss the point. Government is well to the fore among these customers, and they are far more concerned about the long-term costs of lock-in than they are about short-term discounts. Gartner claims that Munich currently uses "many older versions of Windows," observing that this class of migration is easier to cost-justify, but wasn't that a point we just saw galloping by, apparently unnoticed by the Gartner analysts? If you are currently using Windows 9x or even 3.1, then you must surely be thinking about upgrading. If you were to upgrade to WinXP, then it will be more costly and difficult for you should you later decide to migrate somewhere else. So a cheaper Windows deal now is only cheaper if you accept lock-in, and rule out migration for a period of years. Aside from worries about the general hazards of lock-in, customers are concerned about the more specific ones evidenced by Microsoft's new licensing model. To many of them this provided a pretty clear indication of how hard Microsoft is prepared to squeeze when it knows you have no choice, so there's more than a little sense to taking steps to retain choice, the sooner the better, before doing so gets even more expensive. All of that needs to be factored into the cost, and customers' increasing grasp of this will make it increasingly difficult for Microsoft to retain business via slush funds and the rapid deployment of senior executives. How, though, do you escape? The significance of Munich is that it will provide useful data, whether it succeeds or not, on a number of possible escape routes, Linux on the desktop merely being one of them. But it shouldn't be viewed as an 'either or', with success meaning the triumph of Linux, and failure the continuing domination of Microsoft. Either way, the desire for an alternative will remain, and if the current best shot at an alternative doesn't work out, a better one, sooner or later, will be built. ® Related link Gartner's note
John Lettice, 22 Jul 2003

IBM giving SuSE Enterprise Linux away

IBM has put on a clean, white glove and given a slap to both Intel's Itanic chip and SCO. It has started a new Linux giveaway program for customers ready to purchase a pSeries Unix server. Those customers willing to pick up some fresh hardware (up to four processors) can receive a free license for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8. Estimated value - $2,300. Customers outside of North America may not apply for the promotion, according to documents seen by The Register. On one hand, the deal confirms where IBM's Linux loyalties reside. The pSeries 650, 655, 670 and 690 systems are covered. These boxes all run on IBM's own Power4 chip, and there is no mention of Itanic-powered kit in the offer. "The main purpose behind this is revving up their 64-bit Linux on Power play against Itanium," said Illuminata's Gordon Haff. IBM is battling with itself and HP in the Itanium market. Big Blue prefers to tout the homegrown Power chip over Intel's beast. IBM has put a limit of one free SuSE license per IT shop, making the deal more of "give it a try" promotion, as opposed to an all out Linux on Power campaign. This brings us to the second point. IBM is urging customers to run Linux on one- to four-way servers, which places it at the center of SCO's latest legal grumbles. SCO is upset about the appearance of SMP code in the Linux kernel, which makes the operating system scale well on systems with more than one processor. While SMP work has been going on for a long time at various places, SCO claims its Unix SMP code, in particular, has found its way into Linux and isn't happy about it. IBM has been at the center of SCO's complaints since day one, so it's amusing, if nothing else, to see the company come out and promote Linux SMP machines. "The promotion certainly does have the side effect of emphasizing that IBM is serious about enterprise-class Linux," Haff said. IBM is now fighting a two front battle to keep the momentum of its pSeries systems going, and it's damn fun to watch. ®
Ashlee Vance, 22 Jul 2003

BT talks tough in biz market

BT has hit back at claims that its telco services to business customers are dearer than its rivals. The UK's monster telco reckons its BT Business Plan tariff, launched earlier this year, provides average savings of 12 per cent compared to rival services - a saving of £144 million against the average competitors' best rates, said the telco. Quoting research from Deloitte & Touche the UK's dominant telco insisted that its telco services for businesses were cheaper than its rivals such as ntl, Telewest, Energis and Cable & Wireless. In a bid to underline its commitment to the business sector, BT announced today that it has cut the cost of calling the USA to a maximum of 10p for up to an hour. This announcement coincided with news that BT has now signed up 100,000 punters to its BT Business Plan tariff since it was launched in January. In a statement BT Retail chief exec Pierre Danon said: "Our rivals in the business market had better watch out. BT is fighting back and we intend to show businesses that we are nowhere near as expensive as our rivals claim." He insisted that the Deloitte & Touche study showed that BT was "right up there with the cheapest". Earlier this year BT announced that it was capping the cost of phone calls for businesses as part of a move to overhaul call tariffs. ® Related Story BT caps biz phone calls at 10p
Tim Richardson, 22 Jul 2003
Cat 5 cable

Sun holds onto profit as revenue falls

Sun Microsystems continued to see revenue slump in its fourth quarter, as hardware sales remain tough to come by. The server maker posted $2.98 billion in revenue for the period ended June 30. This marks a 13 percent decline compared to the same period a year ago when Sun pulled in $3.42 billion. Net income hit $12 million in the most recent quarter versus $61 million last year. It's good to see Sun stay in the black, but times are clearly tough. On a positive note, Sun continued to generate cash from operations, which is one of CEO Scott McNealy's favorite items of note. Sun brought in $335 million in the quarter, leaving it with $5.7 billion in the bank. For the full fiscal year, Sun posted revenue of $11.43 billion - an 8.5 percent decline from the $12.50 billion in FY02. Sun took a heavy net loss of $2.4 billion in 2003 due in large part to a $2.1 billion charge for its Cobalt acquisition. Gross margins improved 3.9 percentage points year-on-year to 43.2 percent. Sun saw its services business revenue rise 7 percent year-on-year, while systems revenue fell 20 percent and storage revenue fell 16 percent. Sun did, however, see strength in high end server sales and a higher attach rate of storage to its own servers. Sun plans to up research and development spending during the next year. The company often draws criticism from analysts for this practice, but Sun executives maintain R&D is key to its future as a company. Sun said it has a backlog of orders for its V210 and V240 servers that amounts to $50 million. The company stopped shipping these systems due to a defective Broadcom chip, as first reported by The Register. The servers are to resume shipment in the coming weeks. Sun's results closely mirror those of rivals IBM and EMC, which reported results last week. Hardware companies, in general, came in flat for the quarter. ®
Ashlee Vance, 22 Jul 2003