25th > July > 2003 Archive

Stone thy neighbour

It's Friday, so it must be...Photofuck Friday! Each week, The Dutch engage in an online feast that is becoming increasingly popular and will make the satirical magazine Private Eye green with jealousy. Every Friday, The Dutch weblog Retecool ('ass cool') picks a topical issue and offers its readers a tool kit to create a photofuck, a collage of various pictures and text balloons, ridiculing fallen politicians and entertainers. The response is usually tremendous with over a hundred contributions in a couple of hours. Some contenders show off their digital artistry with impressive Photoshop renderings. To avoid capacity overload, users have to store the images on their own server and then link to it. When visitors select the Retecool web page, it pulls in all those images at once (broadband connection recommended). Retecool is best known for its one-off pranks. Earlier this year the web site wrote a small script that queried the webpage of the Dutch radio station Radio 538 so often it was unable to handle the traffic. This in response to many calls from the deejays to their listeners to refrain from visiting the Retecool. Most victims who get roasted by Retecool are of Dutch origin, like Martijn Belevander, who was exposed as a mass spammer recently, or former MTV deejay Adam Curry, who is locked in a fight with the tax collector over his chopper. Occasionally, Retecool addresses international and more general issues, like bumper stickers or the much admired televised briefings by the former Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. When Gerhard Schroder, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, cancelled his planned vacation in Italy recently after accusations by Italian undersecretary Stefano Stefani that German tourists are drinking too much and taking part in burping contests; Retecool immediately swung into action. Most Retecool buffs didn't spare the Germans either, given the impressive amount of beer-bellied jokes. Retecool can't claim exclusivity to Photoshop terrorism. Both b3ta.com and Fark.com host thriving communities of Photoshop satirists, but a swarm of foreign imitators may not be far away. ®
Jan Libbenga, 25 Jul 2003

UK police build massive child porn database

A computer image database which police hope will greatly speed the identification of paedophiles and their victims is being launched in the UK this week. The database, called Childbase, includes 220,000 photos and images of approximately 20,000 children obtained during police investigations into paedophile abuse. Many of the images in Childbase come from Operation Cathedral, an international investigation of a international paedophile ring, called the Wonderland Club, which led to more than 100 arrests in 1998. Child protection officers seizing paedophile images are often faced with the problem of identifying victims. They also have to establish if a picture is evidence of fresh abuse or if it is linked to abuse which has already been investigated. Using Childbase to check whether an image is of a new victim or abuser will help police prioritise their workloads. With the previous manual system, vice squad officers had to spend many tedious and unpleasant hours poring books of photographs to identify victims of abuse. With Childbase matches can be made in a matter of seconds. The system maps the facial characteristics of each subject, producing a digital representation of a face. Detectives can then cross-check this sequence against images in the database to find out if a image represents a new victim or abuser. Canadian firm Imagis, which helped developed Childbase, has refined the system so it can cope with changes to an individual's hairstyle, weight or other aspects of a person's appearance. Jim Gamble, Assistant Chief Constable of the National Crime Squad (NCS), the lead agency in the scheme, told the BBC that Childbase had already saved children from abuse and that a "string of prosecutions" was being prepared. Criminologist Professor John Grieve said the very computer technology paedophiles often used in furtherance of their crimes was being turned against them. The system, which cost the National Crime Squad £500,000 to develop, will be made available to all the individual police forces across the UK. Access to Childbase, or at least information on the system and best practice recommendations, may be extended internationally over time. ® Related Stories US.gov builds huge child porn database Techno cops needed to catch cyber criminals - Blunkett Police bust global Net pedo ring Police tackle global 'elite' paedo ring International Net paedophile ring smashed by UK police Child porn ring smashed (Operation Cathedral) Child porn list leaked to Sunday Times (Operation Ore)
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

The Hackers Who Broke Windows

The Last Stage of Delirium, the hacking group that laid open nearly every version of the Windows operating system last week, could use a little sleep, writes Deborah Radcliff of SecurityFocus. Since going public with the RPC buffer overflow bug that some are describing as the worst Windows security hole in history, the group has been caught in a media frenzy. The hubbub has been just as bad as when, in April, 2001, LSD broke Argus Systems' PitBull security software in a contest for $50,000 in cash. (After the media glare faded, the team was stiffed for $43,000 of the prize money.) Then, as now, the work and its media aftermath kept them up at night when they'd rather be home with their families, said Tomasz Ostwald, one of the four founders of LSD, during a phone interview at 9:00 at night, Poland time. "This has been going on for three weeks. We had to work all weekend, even Sunday," he said with his thick Polish accent. "We're still taking at least two media calls a day." Delirium was dreamed up in 1996 by four security engineers who'd just graduated the master's of computer science program at Poznan University of Technology in Western Poland. Now all between the age of 27 and 28, they manage the security infrastructure for an academic and scientific supercomputing center in the university town of Poznan, where they all live. They also do security engineering consulting and penetration testing for other clients. By night, they crack software. Their day jobs are not to be confused with the work they do with LSD, says Ostwald. And even though they liken themselves to other hacking groups such as the Cult of the Dead Cow, don't call the LSD members hackers: They'd like you to call them security engineers instead. But in the truest sense, these engineers are indeed hackers. What's different between their non-profit group and a number of earlier code cracking groups is the way they conduct themselves. Along with their technical skills, these researchers possess unusual business and media savvy, say their peers. "The LSD team always seems to find problems in critical core technologies," says Chris Wysopal, director of research and development for @stake, Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., which also does vulnerability testing on software applications. "They handle themselves professionally with the technology community and are able to span the cultural and language barriers between Poland and the U.S." The LSD's research is also impeccable (for example, a 50-page paper that exposed implementation vulnerabilities of Java) -- far better than anything produced by the l0pht, the hacking group that grew up to become @stake, Wysopal adds. Exploit Controversy But LSD hasn't completely escaped criticism. In March, the group put itself at the center of a controversy when it released exploit code for a Sendmail vulnerability discovered by Internet Security Systems. "As a security vendor, we don't think it's good business to post exploit code because it enables bad guys to break into systems," says Chris Rouland, vice president of ISS's X-Force team in Atlanta. Ostwald says the group decided to release the Sendmail exploit code because ISS was overstating the threat posed by the bug. "When a threat is overestimated, it makes it hard to perform appropriate risk management. So we put the exploit code out for testing and proved that the threat was not as serious as the vendors claimed," Ostwald says. Off the record, at least one security company now criticizes LSD for not posting exploit code for the Windows RPC bug. "How do you prove the bug without the code?" the source said. But because the bug affects so many of the Windows operating systems, releasing the exploit code would not have given IT managers enough time to patch, counters Ostwald. Wysopal agrees. "If [they] released the code to the Windows buffer overflow attack too soon, we'd have another SQL Slammer on our hands," says Wysopal. Besides, people are already developing the exploit code anyway, says Tim Mullen, CIO of AnchorIS.Com, and a SecurityFocus columnist. And Rouland says ISS had developed exploit code four hours after news of the bug was released to the public. When they're not trapped between the proverbial rock and hard place of releasing or not releasing exploit code, LSD members are generally praised -- even by ISS -- for the way they conduct themselves professionally. The group now enjoys even-handed relationships with vendors. That wasn't always the case, says Ostwald. "In the past two years, we've observed improvements in the way software and anti-virus vendors respond to our findings." Delirium contacted Microsoft's security response center through its Secure@Microsoft.com address on June 27, says Stephen Toulouse, security program manager for Microsoft's response center. "From our standpoint, the entire process with them [LSD] was completely professional. And we appreciate them not posting the exploit code to give our customers a fair chance to install the patch," Toulouse says. If there's one niggling problem with the group's image, it's their name. Ostwald says he can't remember how they came up with "The Last Stage of Delirium." "But lately," he says. "We've been thinking we should change it." ©
SecurityFocus, 25 Jul 2003

'Mean/Evil' Packard row rumbles on

HP has denied putting pressure on CNET to tone down a remark about co-founder Dave Packard by CEO Carly Fiorina which has caused offence to HP veterans and former employees. In an interview on Monday, Carly related how Dave Packard had been known as "The Evil One". Evil A less Satanic description was offered in later versions of the story. Mean A spokesperson for HP says that the remarks were made at the end of the interview after the tape had run out. "They fixed it," she said. Register readers say they cannot recall Dave Packard being described as either Evil or Mean, nor was it characteristic of the man. "In 25 years of following HP, I have never before heard such denigration," wrote one reader. A spokesperson for HP said that Fiorina could corroborate the claim. "Absolutely - that's what many people told her." "There are many myths about the HP Way, such as there were no layoffs," spokesperson Rebecca Robboy told us. "The point she was trying to make is that after Bill and Dave left the culture was internally focused and self-satisfied. She is trying to revive their restless drive for excellence." A director at The Packard Foundation declined to comment on the episode, but says the Foundation wishes the current HP well. "I don't know if this is a misquote, a journalistic integrity vs corporate pressure tussle, or a quick peek behind the mask. Nonetheless it is interesting and raises some questions in my mind about the principles," wrote one reader. "He was certainly a hard-nosed businessman, and never shirked from a hard decision or cutting off a program, project or product that should have been cut off," says Alan Falk, who spent 24 years at HP. "But, wow... I never ever heard of him refered to as that!" "I got a personal letter a few years ago from Dave Packard, before he died," wrote another reader. "Really nice guy from everything I know - he even sent me a new Test and Measurement book." ® Related Story Carly's 'Mean One' jibe offends HP veterans
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Jul 2003

Today is Sys Admin Day – again

Today marks the third annual Systems Administrator Appreciation Day, when the online world pays its respects to a sometimes forgotten segment of the IT workforce. Yes, it's a happy SAAD day (again), the one time in the year when its OK to stick your head around the server room door and be nice to your techies. Perhaps you might want to send them (hi-tech) gifts, offer to fetch them pizza, or pretend to understand the jokes in BOFH. SysAdminDay.com, host of System Administrator Appreciation Day, has plenty more suggestions along these lines. In the spirit of the day, Big Love goes out from all the Reg staffers to our own sysadmins. Simon, Aaron, Sergey and Reg techies everywhere - we love you. SysAdminDay was first celebrated on 27 July 2001, then on 26 July 2002 and now on 25 July 2003. We were a bit worried that the dates were counting down, like some sort of Mayan Calendar (see also a more scholarly site here), to some 23rd Century networking calamity until we twigged that SAAD day is celebrated on the last Friday in July. What a relief. ® Related Stories Today is SysAdmin Day Today is SysAdmin Day [Mark 2] Today (July 25,2003) is also Photof**k Friday Yesterday was 'Internet Shopping Day' Fab O'Really T-Shirt at Cash and Carrion BOFH in a Nutshell - A Desktop Quick Guide for Dastardly Sysadmins
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

Intel to quash i865 PAT-like behaviour

If you want an Intel i865-based motherboard that's capable of offering Intel's Performance Acceleration Technology-style performance acceleration technology, you'd better get one sharpish - Intel is planning to modify the chipset to stop mobo makers activating it. So claim motherboard manufacturer sources cited by Xbit Labs. If the report is accurate, the move will restrict PAT support to the i875P, the only chipset that officially provides it. The motivation for such a move may go beyond Intel's irritation that motherboard makers discovered how to switch PAT on in the i865P and i865PE chipsets. Enabling PAT in those parts eliminates one of the i875P's key selling points, leading to speculation that sales have been hit. PAT is all the distinguishes the i865PE from the i875P. It's believed that the i875P and i865P/PE are essentially the same product, with PAT and, in the i865P, 400MHz DDR and 800MHz effective bit rate support simply turned off in the lower-end part. Intel denies this, of course, but mobo makers' ability to get PAT-like behaviour out of i865-class chipsets suggests Intel is punting one product at two price points. Fair enough, we say - Intel has every right to maximise its profitability. Equally, however, if it adopts such practices, it can't really complain when third-parties figure out a way of leveraging it to their own advantage. It's no different than overclocking, after all, which is largely made possible because chips from the same wafer are offered at different clock speeds. As yet it's not known when (or if) Intel will revise the i865 chipset family. However, the anticipated arrival of a single-channel DDR version of the chipset may simply provide Intel with all the excuse it needs to eliminate the i865P and i865PE altogether, solving the i875P's problems at a stroke. ® Related Stories Asus drives dual Xeons with P4 chipset Asus crosses Intel with PAT compatibility claim
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

Openwave offers ‘disruptive’ browser suite

It's hard to believe that Openwave, the folk who brought you WAP, could produce software that's in itself aesthetically dazzling and a seriously disruptive technology, but believe us you must. After the WAP hype collapsed, the company hunkered down to produce a ground-up rewrite of a software suite for mobile phones. The investment appears to be paying off. Openwave says it already has seven customers for its Version 7 software, which debuted in Cannes in February. V7 consists of a browser, messaging client and file browser - geographical positioning software is on its way - and it's expected to reach the street by the end of the year. V7 looks great and has ease of use as a major factor - as you'd expect with engineers such as Mike Reed (Apple QuickDraw GX) and Benoit Schillings (BeOS) involved - but the disruptive part is the amount offered in such a low memory footprint. Alpha-blended attachment previews are nice, but it's the memory efficiency that really makes this a proposition. Despite the superior functionality offered by smartphone operating systems, Openwave reckons it can do the important things as well if not better in V7. The success of Vodafone's Live in Europe tell us a few things. People don't mind using WAP, as long as they don't know it's WAP. This walled garden service has met early success where the much vaunted 'Mobile Internet' of WAP failed. And carriers are not only keen to wrestle the branding from the handset manufacturers, but keen to risk pushing tens of millions of marketing Euros behind an unfashionable manufacturer and design (Sharp's clamshell) to prove the point. Openwave offers a much richer email experience than the P800 from Sony Ericsson and Nokia's 3650. Getting the basics right matters. Nokia has signed on with RIM to license its enterprise email gateway, which is fine for businesses, but it's the 'power user' consumers - the sort who remember how good their Psions were - who are being sold a little short here. Openwave isn't so much positioning itself against the smartphone OS vendors Symbian and that other company whose name escapes us, but the really small players. If the phone business is being commoditised - as Nokia recognises, with its 'commoditise with us' strategy - then no one will do it faster than China, which already has more cellphones than the world has PCs. So Openwave ought to be persuading the Chinese that human interfaces have a bit of a useful legacy, and this is how it's done over there. Openwave yesterday said that it had shipped its 400 millionth WAP browser, but forgive and forget, we reckon. This will get very interesting. ® Related Story Earth to Andreessen: browser innovation is at hand
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Jul 2003

Microsoft wins Motorola

It's been a tough year for Microsoft in phones; but maybe the tide is turning. Motorola hasn't officially announced it yet, but MoDaCo has sneaked some pics of the new Microsoft-based clamshell phone. The new phone may just be the first to be based on the new phone operating software, carrying the Windows brand, instead of the Microsoft tag, and the proof will come if the launch mentions Bluetoothamongst the features. According to Paul O'Brien, who runs MoDaCo, the prototype is based on the old Smartphone 2002, without Bluetooth; but he had no information on when it would launch. Motorola's Microsoft smartphone (courtesy of MoDaCo Microsoft sources have promised that the Windows-branded Smartphone range will launch this year. It's hard to envisage a launch of a brand-new Motorola phone with only five months of the year left to sell it in before it becomes obsolete. One possible launch date would be at ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva, next October. However, Motorola will be well aware that there will be other Microsoft smartphone launches at that show, and will probably announce the product earlier. O'Brien said: "The device is slightly smaller than the existing clamshell Smartphone, the Mitac Mio, but doesn't sport an integrated camera. Also unlike the Mio, the phone has no external antenna, and hence sports a very smart, simple design." Photos show a very generic device, virtually identical in its case to the Mitac and the NEC phones. But that, too, could be a prototype issue, and Motorola may well have a next generation case ready for the actual launch. Most phone makers will want to have their products ready for the gift-giving season which starts with November Thanksgiving in the US, and includes the Xmas season in December. Whatever, and whenever, the Motorola brand - if it goes ahead - will be a big feather in the head-dress of Big Chief Microsoft. It started the year promising five "major" suppliers of its smartphone; Sendo, the pioneer, had dropped out in a blaze of litigation, and Samsung, having announced, postponed. Sales of the Orange SPV and the new SPV E100 have been largely restricted to the UK and Scandinavia, and haven't exactly swept the market. However, Reuters says that Motorola told the news agency in February that the design is being prepared "mainly in response to US operators' requests." The easiest explanation for the delay is that the phone network operators are very much afraid of the power of Microsoft to dominate an industry. The other explanation may be simply that the phone industry believes a smartphone has to have Bluetooth to succeed; and Microsoft can't deliver that technology until it gets the new software ready. ® Copyright © 2003, NewsWireless.net Some recent articles on NewsWireless.Net Despite MMS, Vodafone live! loses out to i-mode How wireless is transforming rural Britain with broadband
Guy Kewney, 25 Jul 2003
DVD it in many colours

Nortel Networks stems red ink

Nortel Networks has cut back its loses but is yet to climb back into profitability. The Canadian networking manufacturer yesterday reported dramatically smaller Q2 loses of $14 million on reduced revenues of $2.33 billion. That compares to losses of $697 million on revenue of $2.77 billion for the same period last year. In Q1 2003, Nortel made profits of $54 million on revenues of $2.40 billion. Figures are given in US dollars. Compared to the first quarter of 2003, Nortel's Q2 2003 Wireless Networks revenues increased four per cent, Enterprise Networks revenues decreased 11 per cent, Wireline Networks revenues decreased 12 per cent and Optical Networks revenues increased ten per cent. Income droped across the board from Q2 2002 to Q2 2003. Gross margin was 43.7 per cent of sales in the second quarter of 2003, up from 42.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2003, and 34.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2002. "Our second quarter results reflected the continued cautious spending exhibited by our customers," said Frank Dunn, Nortel's president and CEO, in a statement. "Although the industry conditions remained difficult, our momentum and leadership position continued across our key focus areas." Looking ahead, Nortel said it would continue to manage its business "cautiously in the near term". The company declined to provide a forecast for Q3 beyond saying it hoped to improve its market position going forward. Service provider wins Highlights of some of Nortel activities during Q2 included a four-year $300 million deal to supply T-Mobile USA with mobile network switching equipment. Nortel also strengthened its position in the emerging service provider Voice over IP (VoIP) market with deals with MCI and Sprint that position the Canadian vendor in a leadership position in the market. Nortel is also beginning to build momentum in China. Closer to home, Nortel signed two contracts with BT to deploy Nortel's OPTera Metro 5200 Multiservice platform for storage area network (SAN) connectivity services and OPTera Connect HDX optical switches in BT's pan-European networks. ®
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

Unseasonal demand drives Western Digital profits up 73%

Hard drive maker Western Digital yesterday boasted a "strong" conclusion to an "outstanding" year when it reported its Q4 2003 results. During the quarter, WD shipped around 10.5 million drives which yielded revenues of $680 million, up 26 per cent on the same period last year. Shipments were up 31 per cent, implying a slight fall in average selling prices, but not bad considering the April-June quarter is traditionally a slow sales period, WD said. Net income for the quarter totalled $48.8 million (23 cents a share), including $3.3 million of "investment gains". Even without the one-off income booster, Q4's figure marks a significant improvement on the $13.1 million (seven cents a share) net income the company posted this time last year. For the full year, WD reported net income of $200 million (97 cents a share) on revenues totalling $2.7 billion, up 67.5 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, on fiscal 2002 income of $65 million (34 cents a share) and revenues of $2.2 billion. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

BT cock-up almost cripples island BB plan

A company looking to bring broadband to the Isle of Wight (IoW) claims it was almost crippled following a blunder by telecoms giant BT. Broadband Wight (BBW) claims the cock-up cost it the chance to roll out a service ahead of rivals - including BT - putting back its plans to bring high-speed Net access to the island. BBW project manager Paul Randle-Jolliffe claimed the company was "deliberately misled" after a BT Wholesale account manager failed to place BBW's order. While mistakes were made, BT denies that the gaffe was deliberate. It is understood that the BT Wholesale account manager at the centre of the row has now left the company. So, what happened? Earlier this year BBW ordered a mainland-to-IoW fibre link from BT Wholesale as part of a plan to bring broadband to the island. The company was formed last year to deliver broadband and low-cost leased lines to Net users and businesses on the IoW. In June - just when the service was about to be launched - BBW discovered that the link had not been installed. And when BBW contacted BT, it was shocked to discover that the order had never been placed and processed. This left around 20 local developers and investors - as well as potential customers - in the lurch, nearly bringing the company to its knees. According to BBW, BT has refused to accept any direct responsibility for their account manager's actions or compensate the company. "We think that BT should compensate us but they have gracefully declined any compensation," said Randle-Jolliffe. "It's effectively a 'sorry, nipper, not our problem' situation… it appears to have been a one person wrecking job rather that BT as an organisation. "We have lost business and BT have some responsibility for that. We planned well to be first to market not second to BT.” In a statement BT said: "BT would never intentionally mislead a customer. As soon as BT became aware of the issue, BT launched an investigation, and sought urgently to meet BBW's requirements. It was not possible to do this with the original product requested. We are still in discussion with BBW and do not think it appropriate to discuss any aspect of the matter further in public." What next? Now BBW has been forced to rethink its approach and has signed up with an outfit called Ceragon Networks to provide a high capacity radio link from the mainland to the Island. According to BBW, this approach should make its services even cheaper than those provided by BT. Indeed, Randle-Jolliffe reckons BBW's broadband prices will be around 30 per cent cheaper than a comparable BT service, while its leased lines services could undercut BT by up to 55 per cent. BBW's new service is expected to be launched in the Autumn. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Jul 2003

Gateway stems loss even as sales slide

Gateway beat Wall Street expectations when it yesterday announced a net loss of $73 million for its second quarter (22 cents a share). Analysts had been expecting a loss in the region of 28 cents a share. Gateway put the difference down to the results of a cost-cutting programme and "steadily increasing sales of higher margin non-PC products" such as plasma TVs. It knocked $48 million off its costs of goods sold during the quarter, above its target of $35-40 million, the company said. This time last year, the PC maker lost $61 million (19 cents a share). Last quarter, its loss hit $200 million (62 cents a share), though that figure included a $78 million restructuring charge. Before taxes, Gateway lost $70 million, 25 per cent lower than the $93 million it lost during Q2 2002 and 42 per cent lower than in Q1 - 65 per cent if you include the restructuring charge. Gateway said it Q2 results, particularly net loss and earnings per share, do not reflect a benefit from income taxes included in last year's comparable quarter results. The company reported revenues of $800 million for the quarter, down five per cent on the previous quarter and 20 per cent on the $1 billion it reported this time last year. Some 28 per cent of the most recent quarter's revenue came from non-PC lines, up from 24 per cent in Q1. PC sales were down three per cent sequentially and 25 per cent year on year. "This decline was due primarily to the effect of previously announced store closures late in the first quarter and the company's stated focus on mid to higher end PC sales," Gateway said. The company has begun a programme to revitalise its retail stores, and will move back into the low-end PC market in the coming weeks. Looking ahead, the company said is its "comfortable" with analysts' expectations of Q3 revenue of $874 million, rising to $954 million in Q4. It is sticking by its previously announced statement that it will lose around 19 cents a share during Q3 and nine cents a share in Q4. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

Tiscali unveils satellite BB service in Italy

Tiscali has launched a one-way broadband satellite service in Italy. The service - being provided using EutelSat's Opensky platform - costs from €24.95 (£17.70) a month and is aimed that those people who can't readily access ADSL or cable services. The TiscaliSat service comes in two flavours. TiscaliSat Light costs €24.95 a month with an up-front activation cost of €19.99. TiscaliSat Top costs €39.95 a month with an activation fee of €29.99. Both services give a maximum download speed of 2Mbps, with the up-stream speed dictated by the kind dial-up connection used by the punter. In May, Tiscali announced that it had teamed up with Eutelsat to provide a one-way broadband satellite service throughout 15 countries in Europe. At the time, the ISP said the service would begin to be rolled out in Europe from the summer. No one at Tiscali was available to say when the service might be rolled out to the UK. Earlier this year, Tiscali shelved plans to roll-out a two-way broadband satellite service after a pilot showed the service was too costly for users. ® Related Story Tiscali to launch Euro Sat BB service
Tim Richardson, 25 Jul 2003

Nvida preps nForce for Transmeta TM8000

Nvidia is set to launch a version of its nForce chipset to support Transmeta's upcoming TM8000 processor, codenamed Astro. So claims web site NFI, attributing a 'high reliability' rating to the rumour. A bizarre choice, you might think. Certainly, Transmeta has had limited success with its x86 compatible, low power consumption, mobile-oriented processors to date and is pinning its hopes on TM8000, the first of a new generation of Crusoe chips, though it won't be branded as such. Now, the chip includes 400MHz DDR, AGP 4x and HyperTransport controllers on the die. For Nvidia, that essentially means all it needs is to support the processor is a South Bridge part, easily connected via an HT bus. It has some experience in offering such a one-chip solution: the Opteron-oriented nForce 3 Pro. It will be undoubtedly offering something similar for the Athlon 64 come September. Transmeta products in the past have typically been used with VIA South Bridge parts, specifically the VT82C686A/B line, part of the Apollo KT133A chipset and other older AMD-oriented parts. The company undoubtedly wants something rather more up-to-date than that part for the TM8000, and it's no surprise, given the reputation Nvidia has for top-performance AMD-oriented chipsets, that it might want to tap the graphics company's chipset expertise for TM8000. Transmeta is expected to pitch the TM8000 against Intel's Pentium M and Centrino platform, so it needs some impressive chipset technology - not to mention Wi-Fi support - to complete the picture. The TM8000 is due to go into volume production until this quarter, fabbed by Taiwan Semiconductor using a 0.13 micron process, so NFI's claim is certainly timely. The chip sports a 256-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) engine - on top of which runs a new generation of its Code Morphing x86 compatibility software - and an upgrade to Transmeta's LongRun power-saving technology. A revised architecture allows the TM8000 to execute up to eight instructions per clock. ® Related Story Transmeta TM8000 to bring AGP, HT, DDR buses on die
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

Athletes train for first Mobile Phone Olympics

If you spot a large group of people hurling their phones across London's Clapham Common this weekend don't worry - it's only part of what is billed as the inaugural Mobile Phone Olympics. Sponsors of the event, mobile phone retailer Phones 4u and Sony Ericsson, hope the contest will attract up to 15,000 competitors. Mobile Phone Olympians will be tested in four separate disciplines designed to test their all-round ability. Disciplines include: text messaging, sending a 80-character text message as quickly as possible; MMS Messaging, again a test of speed of speed but this time with a photo as well as text being sent; and a mobile gaming challenge, with competitors trying to rack up as many points as possible in a two minute game of Pro Skater 4. But the real test of athletic prowess comes with the mobile phone throwing competition, where contestants attempt to chuck the handsets as far as possible from a standing start. All the tests will be performed using Sony Ericsson T310 handset. As a spin off benefit to the organisers, competitors will be able to test the new handset (we hope none get nicked). The competition kicks off today with the competitor who gains the best overall score (ten points for a win in each discipline) due to be crowned champion of Sunday. The Mobile Phone Olympics form part of the Sprite Urban Games, an annual cult street sports event. As we reported earlier this month, mobile phone throwing competitions are commonplace in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The current record in the phone throwing competitions is 57 metres. Will any Brits this weekend do better? But enough on our obsession on slinging handsets, the Mobile Phone Olympics broadens the scope of competition to make it a multi-disciplinary event. Competitors will need a wide range of skills, don't you know. Jenna Jensen, of sponsors Phones 4u, said: "The mobile phone athletes will need lighting fast fingers, supreme powers of concentration, a strong arm, textual expertise and quick reactions." So now you know. ® Related Stories Mobile phone chucking to become Olympic sport?
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

MS mounts two-pronged attack on Linux server market

The nature of the two-pronged attack Microsoft will be mounting on Linux in the server market became clearer at yesterday's analyst meeting, as Ballmer and Gates on the one hand claimed a storming first few months for Windows 2003, and on the other ramped up "intellectual property" and "open ended liability" for customers issues. The first of these, essentially about convincing everybody you've won already then converting the claims to reality, is a (or whould that be 'the'?) traditional Microsoft sales and marketing play, while the second, only to be expected, plays the SCO Linux litigation for all it's worth. The sign-off in this CNET report provides a little helpful perspective on Microsoft's qualifications to comment on lawsuits. "It was obviously a good year," quips Ballmer: "We were able to resolve more actions than started up." The difference here, of course, is that although Microsoft has a more or less permanent lawsuit processing plant, it is not currently experiencing much in the way of product- and/or customer-threatening litigation (although Intertrust could still have that potential). It has experienced these in the past, but has bought its way out of them, so that's all right then. We could mention that IBM could, probably will if it feels it needs to, shoot Microsoft's SCO fox in a similar fashion, but we doubt you'll hear anything like that from the Microsoft salespeople who'll be toeing the Gates line by whispering "open ended liability without indemnification" around the server market. But what about those Windows 2003 shipment claims? In its first three months on sale, Microsoft claims 2003 has vastly exceeded sales of Windows 2000 server in its first three months, and that it will hit the million mark in far less time than 2000 took. And a recent Netcraft report even showed 2003 taking installations from Linux. The significance of this is less than some people, Steve Ballmer prominent among them, would have you believe; MS CFO John Connors certainly doesn't believe it, predicting a relatively sober 9.5 per cent unit growth for Microsoft server products over the next 12 months, while expecting 24 per cent for Linux. With enemies like these, one might muse, who needs friends? It's always dangerous to make (as Microsoft always does) too much of early sales figures, and there are particular reasons why this should be the case with 2003. You would naturally expect Microsoft server software to be selling more now than it was when 2000 shipped, but more importantly the circumstances are quite different. When 2000 came out customers faced the non-trivial prospect of upgrading from NT 4.0, and were sufficiently reluctant for NT 4.0 upgrades to still be a major target market for 2003. But Microsoft does not face this kind of resistance when it comes to existing Windows 2000 Server customers. In the main, these are already committed to a Microsoft strategy, and therefore accept that 2003 is where they're going, the only question being when. This certainly ought to result in a good number of them deciding to switch early, and that ought to show in the early numbers. Post-launch momentum will also have played a part in the Netcraft figures, which will quite probably turn out to have been a blip when the statistics have settled down.* Even steady, non-spectacular growth for Microsoft server numbers is however good business, because in general the numbers represent high-ticket sales that at least hold the promise of profitable add-on product and service sales. This is not necessarily the case for Linux's impressive growth numbers over the past few years. Preinstalled Linux server shipments were up nearly 30 per cent for the first quarter of this year, according to IDC, but a good slug of these sales will have been of basic, commodity servers with little profit for the software vendor. Continuing high Linux server shipments are clearly an issue for Microsoft in the long run, because they reduce Microsoft's size of the pie while at the same time creating a far bigger market for Linux server software. In the shorter term, however, it's possibly more appropriate to try to compare like with like better by, say, comparing Microsoft's numbers with Linux enterprise server sales by the likes of Red Hat, SuSE and IBM, which would give us a rather lower number. But could that be what Microsoft's doing already? Enterprise-targetted Linux sales are relatively recent, and are clearly the most vulnerable to worries about IP and liability. If you're buying a couple of commodity servers from HP or Dell, then you probably don't give two hoots about lawsuits, but the bigger the customer and the more complex and mission-critical the installation, the more likely it is to be concerned. And indeed, the more likely it is to be on the target list of Microsoft's sales teams, ever-ready to add to these concerns. So perhaps we could view Microsoft's combination of perception-management and IP/liability FUD as being aimed precisely at this area, designed to meet and beat serious revenue challenges on what it sees as its home turf. It does not provide an answer to the threat from commodity server sales, but it's not clear there is an answer to that, aside from commoditising server prices. ® * While we're about it, we should doubt reliance on early figures in the other direction, too. Netcraft is currently suggesting that customers may be untroubled by the SCO action, citing Linux's net gain of 100 new enterprise sites in the two months since SCO issued its threatening letters. But as the lead time for deploying a new enterprise site is somewhat longer than two months, it strikes us as too early to call, and that any dampening effect won't be evident for some months yet.
John Lettice, 25 Jul 2003

eBay posts record profits, ups forecast

eBay has continued to defy the downturn, posting a 91 percent increase in second quarter revenue to $509.3 million. The on-line auctioneer and retailer said that its revenue for the April to June quarter rose to $509.3 million from $266.3 million for the same quarter last year. The firm's latest quarterly sales figure marginally exceeded its own second quarter expectations of $500 million. eBay's gross profit was $410.1 million, or 81 percent of revenues, and the company said that its 2002 acquisition of PayPal, an e-payment services provider, contributed substantially to the rise in revenue. Excluding PayPal, the company would have posted revenue of $407.7 million. Net income for the quarter was up 102 percent -- hitting all-time highs -- to $109.7 million, or $0.33 a share, from $54.3 million, or $0.19 a share last year. Yet despite the incredibly strong numbers, which surpassed most forecasts, eBay's share price fell back $5 in after hours trading, with analysts noting that some investors were expecting even stronger numbers. Still, eBay shares are up a stunning 67 percent on the year after closing at $115.74 on the Nasdaq on Thursday. Reflecting the massive growth in the value of eBay stock, the company said in its results that it had approved a two-for-one split, which will be recorded on 4 August. "Q2 was another great quarter for eBay," said Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay. "Our thriving community of buyers and sellers continues to spread the word the eBay is a great place to trade, build a business, make friends and have fun." The company's transaction revenues from the US were up 45 percent from last year to $242.4 million, and just as Amazon posted a proportionately massive increase in international transactions, eBay's overseas transactions rose by 146 percent from last year to $155.2m. Contributing to the higher transaction figures, the number of active users using the site to bid, buy or list, rose by 57 percent in the quarter to 34.1 million, from 21.8 million active users in the second quarter of 2002. GMS (Gross Merchandise Sales), the total value of items sold, was $5.6 billion in the quarter, up 66 percent on last year. eBay has nine product categories that generate more that $1 billion in worldwide yearly GMS. These include eBay Motors at $6.3 billion, consumer electronics and computers both at $2 billion, books/movies/music at $1.6 billion and sports at $1.5 billion. With its results, eBay reissued its full-year profit forecast, upping it by $0.05 a share to $1.31. The company's full-year revenue forecast is $2.08 billion, up $25 million from initial expectations. However this figure falls short of analysts' predictions of $2.1 billion in revenue for the full year, according to Thomson First Call. Some analysts have voiced concerns that eBay's European business could suffer as a result of VAT imposed on Internet auctions and other digital services from 1 July. eBay said it is too early to ascertain what the impact of the tax will be. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 25 Jul 2003

Microsoft rethinks Japanese Xbox tactics

With less than 500,000 Xboxen thought to have been sold in Japan since the console launched last year, and Tecmo's Dead or Alive-based titles the only games to top 40,000 units, Microsoft is starting to take the situation over there very seriously. Speaking at a press conference this week, Peter Moore spoke of how the company will introduce various Xbox Live updates announced at E3 to the Japanese service, while cutting down on the wait for new European and American titles with its new "Xbox World Collection". However the somewhat bewildering decision to fight a lack of interest in Western titles with, er, more Western titles, is not the only thing Microsoft plans to do. According to Moore, the Redmond based giant is dropping the price of Xbox Live so that a one-month subscription is just 680 yen (around €5), a 12-month sub is 4,980 yen (€36) and a Starter Kit, including the Communicator headset and a year's subscription, is just 6,800 yen (€50). Microsoft is also throwing around figures of 16 new first party titles and 81 third party titles to be released in Japan in the next 12 months. It seems that after continued troubles in the region, Microsoft is now reining in the Xbox so that it falls directly under Redmond's control, instead of delegating its control to its local subsidiary headed by Hirohisa Ohura. "Perhaps there were mistakes," Moore said of Microsoft's Japanese effort so far. "However, I want to take the lessons we have learned from the mistakes of the past and use them in the future... I want to listen to and understand the needs of Xbox users in Japan, as well as our publishers and retailers." Maybe we're cynical, but to us this new approach doesn't sound very different to the old one, with prices slashed again and plans to release successful titles like Splinter Cell sooner rather than later at the centre of Microsoft's strategy. The question at this point surely has to be what the software giant is really planning, because it seems inconceivable that with so much money to spend on getting it right, this is the best they could come up with for 2003 and beyond... © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 25 Jul 2003

Microsoft world's number one IT brand

Microsoft, IBM and Intel are the world's leading technology brands, well ahead of the likes of Sony and Apple, according to BusinessWeek magazine's annual survey of brand value. As the magazine rightly asks, how do you place a value on brand? BusinessWeek uses consultancy Interbrand's methodology: you work out its future earning potential. Says the magazine's 4 August issue: "Those projected profits are then discounted to a present value based on how risky the projected earnings are - that is, the likelihood that they will, in fact, materialise." That analysis brings Microsoft a brand value of $65.17 billion, putting it at number two in the cross-industry chart, behind Coca-Cola. IBM comes in at number three with a valuation of $51.77 billion. Intel's figure is less than half Microsoft's: $31.11 billion, enough for a number five ranking, and just ahead of Nokia's $29.44 billion brand value. Scrolling down the list, we see HP at number 12 and valued at $19.86 billion, up 18 per cent on the $16.78 billion it scored last year. Most of the IT players have seen small, single digit shifts in their brand value, and while HP's is impressive, it's not as large as Samsung's which was today toasting its 31 per cent leap to number 25 in the chart, courtesy of a brand valuation of $10.85 billion. Of course, go out and ask real people how aware they are of Samsung, and the company will rate very differently we suspect. Ditto Sony, which would surely rate much higher on a brand awareness test than the number 20 position it gets thanks to its brand value of $13.15 billion. Between HP and Sony lies Cisco, number 17 in the world, with a value of $15.79 billion. Apple, since we mentioned it at the start, and surely one of the best recognised if one of the least purchased technology vendors around, comes in at number 50, with a brand value of $5.32 billion, up four per cent on last year's chart thanks to iPod, iBook and the iTunes Music Service, which "left rivals in the dust", according to BusinessWeek. As we reported earlier this week, a Harris poll of the US' best loved brands recently put Sony at number one, ahead of Dell (number three) and Microsoft (number five). What does this tell us? That a brand may not be half as important as brand consultants would like us to think, perhaps. Microsoft's earnings potential is fantastic - as the brand value calculation shows - and almost five times' that of Sony, but that's not enough to get people to like it as much as they do the Japanese giant, as per the Harris poll. Conversely, being the best loved brand around isn't enough to guarantee Sony the kind of future earnings that Microsoft is slated to receive. People may not like you as much, but it they give you more money, who cares? ® Related Story Americans love Dell, Microsoft (but Sony most of all)
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

A virus ate my exam results

The West Bengal Education Minister, Kanti Biswas, has blamed a computer virus after students received incorrect marks in Higher Secondary examinations this week. Biswas told the State Assembly in Calcutta that an unnamed virus attacked computer systems earlier this year, resulting in a number of errors on mark sheets. Nineteen separate cases of irregularities in marking were discovered, and blamed on the mystery infection. Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus, agreed with us that the problem could just as easily be explained by someone pressing the wrong button on a computer or some other form of human error. Even if a virus was responsible for the latest problem it still doesn't excuse the minister of responsibility for the problem. "Saying 'a virus ate my exam results' is no excuse. No computer is immune from virus attack, so all users should take steps to ensure their PCs are protected against the latest viruses," Cluley added. According to local reports, opposition politicians have called for resignations because the latest incident is far from the first time Higher Secondary examination results in the Indian state have been found to be in error. Biswas told the State Assembly that he regretted the faults in the examination system and announced that there would be a full review of the marking process next year to avoid similar problems in the future. It's far from the first time in recent months that mystery virus infections have reared their head in government. In April, a virus was held accountable for disrupting the counting of votes in a US district council election in Will County, Illinois. A central server responsible for tallying votes in the election was flooded with bogus requests as a result of a virus infection. And back in January, the Norwegian Data Inspectorate, Datatilsynet, was forced to apologise to subscribers to its computer security email newsletter after it accidentally sent them the FunLove virus. According to Datatilsynet, FunLove infected its external email server and sent itself out to 1700 subscribers of the agency's newsletter on 20 January. FunLove, which first appeared in 1999, is a particularly nasty virus whose previous victims include Dell and Microsoft. But our favourite such cock-up ocurred in 2001, when the FBI's elite Net-security National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) squad managed to infect themselves with the infamous SirCam virus. D'oh. ® Related Stories FBI cyber-brainiacs infect themselves with SirCam SirCam virus hogs connections with spam Microsoft security fixes infected with FunLove virus HP distributes virus infected drivers Fun Loving Criminals torpedo Dell factory
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

Alcatel beefs up router security with Tripwire

Alcatel and Tripwire this week announced a strategic alliance to provide greater network protection. This shows just how far a layered approach needs to go, if all the attack angles are to be covered , writes John McIntosh of Bloor Research. The recently discovered Cisco flaw, that affects over 100 different Cisco products, shows that even apparently "secure" routers and switches may be vulnerable to denial of service attacks. By sending some specially crafted IPv4 packets, Cisco routers could be tricked into thinking they are full and so stop processing traffic. Alcatel already has its own security framework, CrystalSec, offering a variety of techniques to protect its devices, drawn from a number of equally well-qualified technology partners. CrystalSec incorporates useful capabilities such as network device hardening, high availability and redundancy, denial of service testing, security vulnerability management and secure management. The joint Alcatel and Tripwire solution should help improve integrity by reducing the impact of unwanted changes to switch or router configuration files - minimising vulnerabilities and the time needed for repairs and downtime. One benefit is that Tripwire for Network Devices monitors switch or router configurations and provides instant notification of internal and external changes, automated rollback and complete audit trails of all changes to devices. This is important, not just because there might be an external attack but because maintenance staff and engineers might inadvertently change configurations and introduce vulnerabilities. Tripwire's focus is all about change management. Who made the changes, are the changes authorised and what constitutes good practice. The Tripwire products integrate with Tivoli and HP Openview, to provide better visibility about when the system is healthy and, as important, what healthy actually looks like. Tripwire claim a strong tie-in with risk management practices and provide templates to assist their customers to achieve good practice. It would be good to see the company take this further and align their solutions with ISO17799. Would the Alcatel/Tripwire approach avoid the type of problem experienced by Cisco? Not really. The Cisco flaw lies in the way the Cisco network operating system, IOS, processes IP version 4 (IPv4) packets. There are no practical workarounds for the flaw and the only sensible approach is to patch. That in itself presents some difficult decisions. Assuring the integrity of switch and router configurations is essential to an organisation's layered security strategy. Tripwire's security and integrity solutions, paired with Alcatel's switches, seems to be the right way to go to provide greater network availability amidst a new range of threats against the fabric of the Internet itself. © IT-Analysis.com Fab O'Really T-Shirt at Cash and Carrion BOFH in a Nutshell - A Desktop Quick Guide for Dastardly Sysadmins
IT-Analysis, 25 Jul 2003

Young men fingered in online porn study

Young, techno-savvy middle class men are most likely to be found peddling in e-porn. So says a new study from New Zealand, which looked into the backgrounds of 106 people investigated by the country's Censorship Compliance Unit. It found that all but one of those investigated for possessing illegal material was male, most were Caucasian and the average age was 30. Around a third of those collared were students. While much attention about Web safety is directed at protecting young people, the report's author, Angela Carr, told the BBC: "The fact is that young people could be the horrible pervy Internet people." The full report is due to be published later this month. The Beeb's story can be found here. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Jul 2003

Hyperion: swooping for Brio Software

Business intelligence vendor Hyperion Solutions has tabled a bid for struggling Brio Software in a stock deal worth about $142 million. The two companies' portfolios are highly complementary and the deal will allow Hyperion to target new BI suite entrants while Brio can focus on core product development without having to worry about fiscal viability. Officials at Hyperion believe a merger with Brio, worth $142 million in stocks, will strengthen the firm's leadership in the performance management market, creating "the world's largest provider of business performance management (BPM) software". On paper both companies' product sets are considered to be highly complementary. Whereas Hyperion develops an extensible set of mostly financially oriented analytic applications (driven by its Essbase OLAP server), Brio develops a broad BI suite branded as Brio Performance Suite 8. Significantly, with Brio's technology on board, Hyperion will also be able to lower its sights and target customer requirements at the start of the BI cycle - characterized by simple reporting needs against transactional source systems. It is likely that Hyperion will absorb specific elements of Brio's Performance Suite 8 into its own BPM platform - specifically bringing on board Brio's newer Metrics Builder products and its more mature query, reporting and analysis tools. Brio and Hyperion have worked closely together since 1996 as technology partners and in a separate announcement, Hyperion said it has also signed a new OEM agreement with Brio. The deal means that Hyperion will immediately become a reseller of Brio's enterprise reporting, query and analysis, and dashboard tools. Acquisition may not be such a bad thing for Brio, which along with Business Objects and Cognos, was one of the original pioneers of client-side BI software. But after an ill-thought-out foray into the business portals market following its $311 million stock acquisition of Sqribe Technologies in March 1999, Brio has consistently lost ground to its rivals. The company has struggled to gain any momentum in revenues and growth since. Revenues for its last fiscal year (2002) dropped 7% year-over-year to $103.1 million. The reassuring and relatively stable wing of Hyperion may well allow Brio to once again focus its energies on core product development rather than trying to stay financially viable. © Datamonitor is offering Reg readers some of its technology research FOC. Check it out here. Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor Related stories Hyperion buys Brio Business Objects: not quite Crystal clear
Datamonitor, 25 Jul 2003

Geneva court dismisses Motorola fraud appeal

Motorola has failed in its latest attempt to prove the owners of Telsim guilty of fraud, the Turkish cellular telco said today. The Geneva Court of Justice ruled that Motorola could not show it had sufficient evidence to back its allegations and consequently chucked the case out. Motorola had gone to the Court to appeal against an earlier judgement which prevented the cellphone maker from pursuing the Uzan family, Telsim's owners. Motorola sued the Uzans back in January 2002, as did Nokia. Both companies accused the family of fraud, alleging they had pocketed loans provided by the technology companies in order to allow Telsim, Turkey's second largest mobile phone company, to buy their kit. Such 'vendor financing' had by then become commonplace in the mobile industry as vendors sought to persuade telcos to buy more handsets and infrastructure hardware. The practice was born in the boom times, as a way to allow rapidly expanding telcos to meet demand for handsets and network capacity, but in more recent, more difficult years vendor financing hit balance sheets hard. In Telsim's case, Motorola argued that its loan - worth around $2.7 billion - was secured with a promise of Telsim stock. If the telco defaulted, Motorola would take ownership of 66 per cent of the company. The vendor alleged that the Uzans deliberately took the money and put it onto other family businesses in which Motorola had no stake. One result of the action, it claimed, was that its anticipated stake in Telsim was significantly devalued. Telsim's value has been hit the worldwide telecoms slump too. "It is, rather, a premeditated and unlawful attempt by the Uzans to rob both Motorola of our assets," the vendor said at the time. It accused the Uzans of extortion, intimidation "and hacking into Motorola's computer system". Telsim has always denied the charge, and claimed it never repaid the loan because the equipment it received was substandard. Motorola sued Telsim in the New York court, but the fight has extended to the British court - an attempt by Motorola to get the Uzans extradited from Turkey to the UK, since they refuse to attend the New York court - and, more recently, to Switzerland, where the Uzans have been hoping to take the case to arbitration. Racketeering and organised crime allegations brought against Telsim by Motorola and Nokia were dismissed by the New York court last April. The Geneva case is simply part of the broader manoeuvring. Telsim CEO Hakan Uzan believes the Court of Justice ruling demonstrates the "futility of Motorola's pursuit of costly and damaging litigation in the US courts", but it's unlikely that Motorola will agree. Or that it's going to see its $2.7 billion any time soon. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

For sale: Motorola's PowerPC 7457 for $5046.96

Can't wait for new PowerBooks based on Motorola's upcoming PowerPC 7457 chip? Fancy upgrading your existing system by whipping out its current G4 and swapping in the new model? Well now you can - at a price. If you've got a little over $5000 to spare, you can beat the crowd to the hottest Mac processor this side of IBM's 64-bit PowerPC 970 - aka the G5. Not that it's an upgrade for the faint-hearted - or anyone with a wallet less capacious than an elephant's scrotum. Motorola is offering a version of its Valis X3 chip evaluation board equipped with a 1.3GHz 7457, codenamed 'Apollo 7'. The Valis X3 MPC7457 slots into Motorola's Sandpoint X3 chip testing system, but you won't need that. Simply call your nearest Motorola chip distributor - there's a list on Moto's web site - and demand part number PPCEVALSP37457. Arrow Electronics, for one, is offering the board for $5046.96 - that's got to be good for a few air miles. When the box arrives, go to work removing the 7457 and soldering it onto your PowerBook motherboard in place of the chip you already have. Friday afternoon frivolity aside, this isn't something we'd recommend anyone attempt, no matter how wealthy they are. Besides potentially destroying your valuable notebook, the 7457 won't necessarily be a final release version - the chip has yet to go into volume production - and may contain bugs (sorry, errata) missing from the shipping version. Quite apart from which, you're going to look very silly if Apple does indeed manage to work out how to cram a G5 into a notebook... ®
Tony Smith, 25 Jul 2003

SA police arrest man in Absa Net bank fraud case

South African police have arrested a man on suspicion of the fraud involving the illegal transfers of hundreds of thousands of rand from Internet accounts held at Absa, the country's largest bank. The case involves the unauthorised removal of R500,000 (£41,300) from bank accounts run by an estimated ten separate Absa customers in South Africa's Western Cape province. A man in his 30s, from the Cape Town area, was arrested by police in connection with these offences yesterday, ITWeb reports. Charges are yet to be made. A further statement on the case is expected from police tomorrow (Saturday, 26 July). Officers from the Western Cape commercial crimes unit are leading the investigation. Meanwhile, despite been criticised for its handling of the problem earlier this week, Absa said it had signed up an extra 1,273 new clients in the past four days. Absa has 405,000 Internet banking clients. "This proves that our clients are loyal to Absa and know that Internet banking is safe," said Alfie Naidoo, Managing Executive Absa e-channels. "We would like to thank our clients for standing by us during the investigations. The growth in new registrations shows that the public trust the Absa brand." Of course, the incident doesn't prove the bank's Internet accounts are safe - in fact it's evidence of the opposite. Nonetheless you got to hand it to Alfie for the brass balls in trying to spin such a line, and (in fairness) the bank deserves credit for stopping most of the fraudulent transactions and reimbursing its clients for monies lost. Absa says its own systems are secure and blames the problem on security mistakes by its clients. Police are working on the theory criminals used "spy ware" to gain access of victims' PCs to swipe Internet banking information and transfer money out of their accounts. In response to this, the bank has reissued guidance on steps Internet banking clients can take to help prevent their digital credentials getting swiped (click on link from Absa's front page). According to Absa, only three client accounts were affected by the raids but since the security problem first came to light earlier this week additional people have come forward to the South African media to report they too have been affected. The closely watched investigation is rapidly becoming a touchstone case for the future of e-banking in South Africa. ® External Link Absa's latest statement on the case (including reference to the arrest) Related Stories Trojan infection linked to SA Net bank thefts 'Online banking in SA was a time-bomb waiting to go off'
John Leyden, 25 Jul 2003

Tiscali UK cans two-way satellite BB service

Tiscali UK has officially pulled the plug on its two-way satellite broadband service after deciding that the service was too expensive for the mass-market. In an email sent today, Tiscali told the handful of people still using the service that it plans to discontinue the two-way broadband satellite trial service on 31 August. "As a goodwill gesture in light of your support of the trial, Tiscali is willing to let you keep your equipment and connect it to an alternative provider," said the email. In March, the ISP decided to delay the commercial roll-out of a two-way broadband-via-satellite service until it has assessed the impact of the trial. Although the trial proved successful, it seems consumers were put-off somewhat by the up-front costs (around £600) of installing a satellite broadband service. As a result, the ISP decided to look for an alternative product to see if other options can be found with lower up-front costs. In May, the ISP announced that it was hooking up with Eutelsat to provide a more affordable one-way broadband satellite service throughout 15 countries in Europe. The service went live in Italy earlier this week. ® Related Stories Tiscali unveils satellite BB service in Italy Tiscali to launch Euro Sat BB service Tiscali UK mulls roll-out of Sat service
Tim Richardson, 25 Jul 2003

RIAA blocks attacks with TST-Secure-OS

It's time for would be RIAA attackers to run for the hills. The pigopolists have installed TST-Secure-OS on their Web servers. This Web server brand is not well know to hacker neophytes. Those in-the-know, however, tremble in fear when TST's rock-solid software rears its ugly head. The code was developed as part of a ten-year, government funded engineering effort to block hackers from unpopular Web sites. Well, not really. More likely, the TST-Secure-OS is a disguised version of Microsoft IIS 6.0. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has remodeled its "Hide the Web site" game into a "Hide the Web server" contest. Hackers have largely had their way with the music label-backed mob's Web site. There were times this year and last when the homepage was down for weeks. Then there was that embarrassing snafu when a hacker managed to put copyrighted tunes up for free download on the site. If the RIAA had real class, it would subpoena itself for that episode. To try and stem the hacking abuse, the RIAA turned to security pioneers TST. The site map on TST's Web site provides a fine example of how ingenious these folks are. A look through Netcraft's logs of the RIAA's Web site shows that the organization - no doubt upon recommendation from TST - decided to upgrade to Windows 2003 Server and IIS 6.0 in June. This move came as part of an RIAA site redesign and, by all accounts, has helped curb the hacking abuse. While the RIAA was proud to show its support for Microsoft's new OS and Web server as of mid-June, it has since turned its back on Redmond and now relies on software subterfuge. The operating system is currently marked as "unknown" and TST-Secure-OS is listed as the Web server. Given TST's stunning records in uptime performance, it will be interesting to see how long the TST-Secure-OS holds up. The big, bad scary name is sure to keep the naughties away. ®
Ashlee Vance, 25 Jul 2003

Motorola to ship Microsoft smartphone? Just ask

Reuters yesterday reported that Motorola was bringing a Microsoft-powered smartphone to market later this year. This would represent a major win for Redmond, which has failed to sign a Tier One handset vendor for its software platform despite lobbying hard for six years. And Motorola is a prize indeed: it's the world's second largest phone manufacturer. However, senior Motorola sources indicate that although the company has had a Microsoft phone project for some time, but no decision has been taken to bring the model to market. Officially the company's position is full square behind Linux/Java, but it will build to order if the carrier so wishes. So that's something less than a ringing strategic endorsement for Microsoft's smartphone platform and equally, less than a pledge of alliance to Symbian, either. Motorola joined Symbian at the last minute before its launch five years ago, but has been something of a sleeping shareholder in recent years. It has yet to bring a Symbian-powered smartphone to market although a 3G model, code-named Paragon, is expected to reach the shops by the end of the year. (Paragon uses the Symbian UIQ pen-based user interface licensed which debuted in the SonyEricsson P800 phone. UIQ is a project with a very strong SonyEricsson flavor, emerging from the Ronneby lab which Ericsson spun off to Symbian.) Nokia has been licensing two smartphone platforms to anyone who wants them, but not surprisingly, Motorola and SonyEricsson think they can get by without depending on technology from the market leader. Motorola's decision to back Linux is a win for its APAC division, and executives were bullish back in February (see Motorola gambles big on Linux, Sinocapitalism) However the important dynamic here is that any alternative gives carriers bargaining room with Nokia. Carriers want customers to think of them, and right now Pope Juha will take any manufacturer he can find. ® Related Stories MS Smartphone to hit 28m units in 2005 - oh, really? Microsoft's masterplan to screw phone partner - full details MS smartphones: Pope Juha marshalls his divisions Reg test-drives MyOrigo motion control smartphone [off topic but a must-read]
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Jul 2003

Netscape – we hardly knew missed you

LettersLetters re: AOL kills Netscape Last week AOL jettisoned its Netscape browser brand, throwing the development team overboard with a $2 million lifebelt. Mozilla and its derivatives, of course, will live on, as long as there's a body prepared to maintain and develop the code. But it marks a watershed because AOL was a multinational corporation with a worldwide user base that for five years believed it could develop a mass market browser. So what killed the noble project - poor code, or poor management? Here's a selection of your views. Your piece is an unfortunate caricature that, while somewhat entertaining, mischaracterizes the contribution, the problem, the process, and the potential. Your idea of a browser as merely a window onto the web is at the root of your misguided thesis - many Reg readers, including Microsoft, have long seen the browser as an alternative execution environment - an alternative to the Windows Desktop for a world of users much more encompassing than my grandmother (she's dead). The "great experiment" surely failed Time Warner and the 50 coders that lost their jobs, but the Phoenix, aka Firebird, lives. Your piece amounts to what you Brits call pointless "willy waving". Mark Estes Austin, TX I was a AOL call center worker at Jacksonville, FL from in 2001. I was specifically in the saves department tasked to get people that were fed up with AOL to stay just a bit longer. Miserable fucking job! I was there when the entire Jacksonville call center was taken off-line for half a day to participate in a real-time satellite fed conference with Steve Case and the AOL big-wigs discussing the new merger with Time-Warner. During all the bullshit about the synergies with the companies, the one thing that was mentioned that brought the entire call center to a rousing ovation, many standing up as well, was the announcement that the underlying browser technology of the AOL experience was to be shifted from Microsoft IE to Netscape. More bullshit ensued about Gekko rendering technology, less breakage of the AOL browser, BLAH, BLAH.... Of course just a few days ago I saw where AOL was dropping Netscape from that option under AOL and now your article as well. I am a die-hard capitalist....but unethical, lying, bastard capitalism is really no better than socialism. And it makes America, arguably the last best bastion of capitalism, look at best hypocritical. Once again, well done, great article. [name supplied] AOL have always been the MacDonald's of the internet. Their agenda is the bottom line. I don't believe they have any view beyond that. Netscape isn't their first scalp, and I don't suppose it will be their last. In the 1990's they did exactly the same thing to CompuServe. They purchased it, they creamed off as much of its user base as they easily could, and then they turned it into another AOL Happy Meal. Pretty much indistinguishable from everything else they serve. There was no thought then for the majesty of the CompuServe Forums that even all these years later remain wholly unequaled despite the advances in the physical medium of the Internet. I certainly don't believe the Internet has grown short of tools that can delight, what it has really wasted is the original non-commercial bed-rock that could inspire. Don't look to AOL. It never was a guardian. It is no fallen angel, it has no concept of majesty. It crawled out of the commercial swamp. Register Reader In terms of who's at fault, I think it's both on AOL and the developers. AOL could've used their user base as leverage against Microsoft, and for some stupid reason did nothing. That would've forced Microsoft to improve that piece of crap called IE. They had their chance and blew it. I strongly agree with your point that the developers were writing vanity code. From what I heard about the Mozilla project, it was all hype and very little substance. A lot of the people involved had big egos and it doesn't surprise me that in the end, it was a complete flop. I decided to download and try it out at one point, and it was basically an unstable and unusable piece of crap. I gave up on it and went to Opera. In my opinion, Netscape/Mozilla has been dead for 4 years and living on life support. I became an Opera user for roughly 4 years ago and haven't looked back. Erik Burd While Mozilla is alive, well, and will be packaged with every *nix distro forever, the first thing I do after a Linux install is install Opera. A.Lizard If you look at your own article you'll see the coders couldn't have made any difference in the outcome. I'm sure that as part of the settlement (.75 G$ cash), AOL was required to sign up for IE, and probably buried in the document, further covered in the usual confidentiality terms, is the requirement that they drop Netscape. How could it not be? Even if the Mozilla crew had come up with Opera, AOL was such an overblown shell of a company that it would be Opera being killed today, instead of Netscape. TimeWarner/AOL need the cash. Consider the possiblities further; even if Mozilla were Opera-quality code (and not open source), it would likely be going private today (instead of being truly set free), the same way as Corel/WordPerfect is going private. Corel needed cash, too, and MS provided it. Now Vector Capital is doing Microsoft the favour of taking Corel private -- for not much more than the amount of cash held by Corel (92 million shares , divided by half (for control), less the 22 million shares Vector already owns, times $1.05) ((92/2 - 22) * $1.05)million. If Mozilla/Netscape were a viable business, it would be facing a similar fate. But, since the code is open-source, it can't be retired like WP. Pretty amazing that was worth so much. Corel only cost Microsoft US$123 million (assuming Vector succeeds, which it will, based on current stock prices). So, even excellent code/UI (like Opera or WP) can't make a difference in the face of boneheaded business moves when the competition is the most valuable company in the world, with more cash than it knows what to do with. Derek Shaw "So it's more than an accident that Opera, with its relentless focus on the Human Interface - and looking after the needs of users like your grandmother" Opera's looking pretty good these days, but its user-interface is not what I'd call, um, elegant. Try to figure out its 747-cockpit of a Preferences dialog, or open more than 20 or so tabs. I've got a top-ten list of Operatic tragedies. "the corrupt suits at AOL failed to appreciate the majesty of the Mozilla code" ... "the Mozilla team wandered off into Lotus-eating land and spent four years creating esoteric frameworks" ... "Creating a neat C++ framework when what the world needs a non-Microsoft browser is nothing but a deriliction of duty: a piece of vanity code" The original Netscape code was a terrible mess, and it had to be thrown away and redone. We looked at it years ago to possibly be the basis for iRider, and quickly realized there was no way. If Netscape, Mozilla, or Opera would actually do something innovative, maybe IE would recede. Ken Broomfield iRider Thanks all. More of your letters here. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Jul 2003