8th > August > 2003 Archive

SGI logo hardware close-up

SCO still offers ‘infringing’ Linux source code

SCO has told the public that its version of Linux is no longer for sale due to its legal pursuit of IBM and Linux users. That much is true. In fact, the code does not cost a penny with SCO providing a rather swift download site for SCO Linux. Close to 30 Reg readers have sent along the following link that leads directly to a FTP download of the Linux kernel, at the time of this report. It's part of SCO's OpenLinux 3.1.1. The funny thing about this source code, which does appear to be on a SCO server, is it's use of the 2.4 Linux kernel. That's the very kernel that has SCO's knickers in a twist. SCO has claimed that IBM illegally threw Unix code into versions of Linux with the 2.4 kernel and above, and launched a $3 billion lawsuit to prove its point. IBM has fired back against SCO today with its own lawsuit, claiming that SCO cannot make claims to Linux code, since it sold its own version of Linux under the GPL. Big Blue's lawyers might be pleased to find SCO is still in the Linux distribution business to this day. This link to SCO's code has been talked about for quite awhile, so we wonder why the legal team of Boies Inc. would let it stay up. ® Related Stories Linux developers ignoring SCO SCO ready to clean out Linux users for $1399 per CPU SCO staff join Linux protests Red Hat takes the fight to SCO
Ashlee Vance, 08 Aug 2003

Google introduces free news alerts

Google is expanding its news section with tools to let users sign up for news alerts or search specific news publications. With the news alerts tool, users type in the news topic they would like to track, and choose whether they would like to receive bulletins once a day or "as it happens." The alerts will be sent to the e-mail address supplied by the user. Google's news service at news.google.com is still technically in beta, but the facility already lets users search 4,500 publications and has also recently added an "advanced search" function. Using the advanced tool users can type in the name of the publication they wish to search, including ElectricNews.net, on a specific topic. However, all news sources users might wish to search are unlikely to feature on the Google search list, and some search results are considerably more fruitful than others, while some find nothing at all. Users must also know the exact name of the publication as recorded by Google, if they wish to specify a news source -- IrishExaminer.com, for example, will return results, but The Examiner will not. Users can also use the advanced search to request articles from sources in particular countries or US states. Google is hoping that these added features will help it retain its dominant position in the search market, in the midst of increasing competition from industry players, Yahoo in particular. In July Yahoo announced its plans to acquire the pay-per-click search company Overture for $1.6 billion. Yahoo has its own news alert facility, where the actual list of sources is available to users under various news areas, such as business or entertainment. To avail of the Yahoo news alert facility, users must have a Yahoo e-mail account. In addition to these news search tools, Google announced in June a new self-service option for Google AdSense, a program whereby Web sites can host ads precisely targeted to the specific content of their individual Web pages. The search company is also advertising Google Toolbar 2.0 beta, with new features including Web logging, form filling and tools to block pop-up ads. In March this year Google confirmed speculation that its first operations centre outside the US would be based in Dublin, creating over 200 jobs over three years. The centre is to link the company's global business, serving Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to its service functions, the Google is locate servers and associated networking equipment in Ireland to handle its growing search traffic. The company claims to perform 200 million searches a day. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 08 Aug 2003

Tablet dumping starts ahead of Centrino shift

When you cut the price of a nice Tablet from £1500 to £600 (to dealers) it's a pretty good sign that you're clearing the shelves of old stock. That's what Northamber, leading UK distributor, has just done with the Fujitsu Siemens Stylistic Tablet. Sales of the Tablet, especially in Europe, have been disappointing. Battery life has been a major issue. There is a solution: Intel's Centrino package - faster Pentium M processor, chipset and Wi-Fi - but the market could get very confused in the changeover from Pentium III to Centrino, if more distributors start dumping the old models. The launch of the Motion Computing Centrino-0based tablet PC last week, triggered the panic, and first signs of an attempt to clear the decks of old stock came yesterday, when Northamber faxed its dealers with the special offer. The Stylistic is one of the few Tablets with a "transflective" display, making it suitable for use out of doors. Unfortunately, the company wasn't sure how many it could sell, and conservatively, decided to launch with a Pentium III processor, rather than a Pentium M (the Centrino processor). The idea was to have a system that was compatible with existing PIII notebooks. The market has, apparently, made it clear that battery life is more important than compatibility with old notebooks. It was probably an incorrect decision, because the Tablet operating system is a special version of Windows XP, and most corporate notebooks are on Windows 2000 or even Windows 9x. Even those with Windows XP are not compatible with Tablet Edition. Few Tablet makers have officially announced their Centrino product. But unofficially, they are all talking about them. HP will switch from the Crusoe chip to Intel Centrino in the next month, and most other suppliers will have to follow suit. Their main problem is keeping to Intel's NDA, because Intel is enhancing Centrino to use 54Mbps 802.11g wireless (the current version uses the much slower 802.11b at 11Mbps) but hasn't released the full version of this yet. That leaves distributors with a heavy problem; sales in Europe have been especially disappointing, even by comparison with the US (which hasn't been good) and they have old inventory. Northamber's price cut from £1500 to £600 will almost certainly shift the old PIII machines, but it will also frighten the market. Distributors who got caught this time, will be pretty wary of stocking up on the new range, and even quite good prices will look high compared to the old discounted ones. ® Copyright © 2003, NewsWireless.Net Some recent articles on NewsWireless.Net If EDGE is 3G, then Wi-Fi plus 3G is (nearly) here on 6,000 sites Segway now available for movers and shakers in the UK
Guy Kewney, 08 Aug 2003

Jailbird appeals in bug disclosure case

Bret McDanel already served his 16 months in federal prison for violating the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Now he wants to clear his record, writes Deborah Radcliff of SecurityFocus. McDanel was wrongly convicted under the federal computer fraud statute, criminal code 18 U.S.C. 1030, claims a 62-page appeal filed on McDanel's behalf by his new attorney, Jennifer Granick, clinical director for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. The criminal code was misinterpreted to bring about his conviction, and McDanel's public defender denied him a fair trial, asserts the brief, filed Wednesday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Between August 31 and September 5th, 2000, the 29-year-old McDanel, under the moniker, "Secret Squirrel," sent 5,600 e-mail letters to customers of his former employer, Tornado Development, Inc., a Los Angeles-based unified messaging business that provided Web-based e-mail, voice mail and other communications. McDanel's e-mails informed Tornado's customers of a serious vulnerability in the e-mail system which left e-mail login credentials, called Network Identifiers or NIDs, in plain view in their Web browser address boxes, which could then be scooped up by Web sites that harvest surfing information from visitors' browsers. According to prosecutors, McDanel intended to cause damage to Tornado's mail server by overloading it with too many messages, and caused a costly public relations problem by making public confidential information that was damaging to Tornado's reputation. But the appeal brief claims that the e-mails did not cause a denial of service. Instead, the systems were taken down to repair the security flaw, which McDanel had pointed out a year earlier at Tornado. The government's other argument was that McDaniel impaired system integrity by exposing the vulnerability publicly. Granick says that doesn't fly under existing law. "This is a matter of interpretation of Federal law. The Federal anti-hacking statute prohibits the transmission of data that causes damage to the integrity and availability of a system," Granick said in a phone interview. "The government's argument is that he transmitted harmful data by exposing the security flaw. That argument is not supported by case law." Cindy Cohn, legal director at the San Francisco-based Electronic Freedom Foundation, thinks McDanel's conviction sends a chilling effect on free speech. "We're seeing more cases like this here at the EFF, for example, the Felten case, in which a security professional was threatened by the RIAA for proving its watermarking system for DVD's was completely breakable," she explained. "Just like the Felten case, McDanel attempted to inform users the system they were using is insecure. For the American government to throw someone in jail for that is particularly troubling." The appeal also contends that the trial judge improperly threw out the testimony of an expert witness who proved that McDanel's mails did not cause a denial of service; and that McDanel himself was denied the right to testify on his own behalf because of the failure of his court-appointed defense attorney. It also claims that the jury was prejudiced by knowledge of McDanel's past history with a former employer three years prior, in which McDaniel gained unauthorized access to the employer's system after being denied his salary for his final few days working there. The U.S. attorney's office will not comment on the brief, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Matz. He added that the office will respond only through its own answering brief, which is due on August 28th. McDanel needs to clear his record to regain basic rights taken away because of his criminal conviction, said Cohn. And the courts also need to turn around such a dangerous interpretation of the computer crime laws, added Granick. "Why are we doing this after Bret's served his time? The point is to make the point that the First Amendment doesn't allow this," said Granick. "This appeal will take the conviction off his record and send a message to prosecutors and citizens that it's okay to talk about computer security flaws, even if they are embarrassing to the company that has the problem." ©
SecurityFocus, 08 Aug 2003

Nvidia Q2 sales, income up

Nvidia saw its sales rise sequentially and annually during the second quarter of its 2004 financial year, the graphics chip maker said yesterday. Its income was up too, despite earlier warnings the company's gross margins wouldn't be up to scratch. Revenue for the three months to 27 July totalled $459.8 million, up eight per cent on Q2 2003's $427.3 million and 11.9 per cent on the $405 million it reported for Q1 2004. The quarter's sales yielded a net income of $24.2 million (14 cents a share), compared to the $19.7 million (12 cents a share) it racked up last quarter and the $5.3 million (three cents a share) it announced this time last year. Revenue for the half-year was $864.8 million, compared to $1.01 billion for the same period last year. Net income for the six months to 27 July was $43.9 million (26 cents a share), compared to $88.5 million (51 cents a share), for the year-ago half. Last month, Nvidia said it would meet its sales forecast but its gross margin would fall below expectations thanks to higher-than-anticipated costs related to its 130nm process technology. According to a report published by Pacific Crest Securities analyst Michael McConnell, "Nvidia has informed its add-in board partners that yield problems on the NV35 and NV31 will be remedied by the end of August", so Nvidia should do rather better out of its GeForce FX series this quarter. Nvidia president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang attributed the company's Q2 revenue growth to the FX family, so improving yields should directly lead to improve profitability this quarter. He also pointed to increased Xbox component shipments as a driver for Nvidia's income growth, and noted that the company is already ramping up for the coming Christmas sales season. However, Huang would not be drawn into commenting on speculation that Nvidia's arch-rival, ATI, has won the contract to supply Microsoft with chipset and graphics technology for the next generation of the games console. ® Related Stories Nvidia to fix 130nm yield flaws this month Nvidia DirectX 9 market lead chipped away by ATI Nvidia source confirms ATI Xbox 2 design win - report
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Intel delays Dothan debut?

Intel has put back the release of its next-generation Pentium M processor, codenamed 'Dothan' back to what is effectively early 2004. So claims Japanese web site PC Watch, which has a pretty good record on its Pentium M (aka Banias) forecasts. When Intel announced Dothan, at the Pentium M launch last March, it would only say the chip would ship during the second half of the year. Roadmaps seen by PC Watch not so long ago had Dothan pegged for a September/October release. However, August roadmaps show that the chip, to be initially offered at 1.8GHz, has been put back to the very end of Q4. That allows Intel to say it stuck to its promise of shipping in the second half of 2003, but means that the chip will effectively arrive in Q1 2004. The 1.9GHz Dothan will now officially ship in Q1 2004, and the 2GHz part appears to have been pushed out to Q3 2004. Dothan is Intel first 90nm mobile part, and it's likely that the delay centres on the process technology. Beyond the die-shrink, Dothan is an improved Banias with double the on-die L2 cache (2MB). The 90nm Prescott M, a tweaked version of the next generation of Pentium desktop processor that will be aimed at desktop-replacement notebooks, will ship sometime in Q4 at 2.8, 3.06, 3.2 and 3.46GHz, according to PC Watch's roadmap, before rising to 3.73GHz in Q2 2004. Fabbed at 90nm it may be, but Prescott M will generate 80W of power dissipated as heat. The 2.6GHz Pentium 4 M pumps out around 35W, but that's expected to be phased out by the end of Q1 2004, leaving just Dothan and Prescott M as Intel's major mobile offerings. Dothan dissipates 25W of power. Low Voltage and Ultra-low Voltage versions, due late Q4 2003 take the dissipation down to 12W and 7W, respectively. The LV and ULV will stay at 1.3 and 1GHz, respectively, from launch through Q2 2004, according to the roadmap. The amount of heat Dothan generates is no better than Banias' - despite the drop from 130nm to 90nm. That suggests that current leakage is more of a problem at the smaller process than might have been expected, forcing Intel to up the power to get signals through. Indeed, PC Watch's source claims that Dothan will consume 1.25W to Banias' 1W. In the Mobile Celeron space, Prescott will replace the current top-end Celerons' Northwood core in Q1 2004. The Prescott-based Mobile Celeron will clock at 3.06GHz and contain 256KB of L2. The already anticipated Banias-based Mobile Celeron will ship in Q4 this year at 1.3GHz, rising to 1.4GHz in Q1 2004. Ultra-low Voltage Mobile Celerons will go straight to the Dothan core, in Q4 2003 (ie. Q1 2004). They will contain 512KB of L2 cache and be clocked at 800MHz at launch, rising to 900MHz the following quarter. ®
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

‘C’ word use shocks IT industry

OpinionOpinion As the "C" word creeps into everyday IT conversation, the confused get scared, and the squeamish, squirm. Of course we are talking commoditization, which not only heralds the end of big margins for the IT establishment, but ultimately the demise of the in-business IT community. Let's look at the IT establishment, and the rush to get into EMC's big margin knickers. How exactly do you make big money on disk storage when it costs less than $1 a gigabyte? Good question, especially if your business model was developed in the halcyon days when a terabyte fetched $1m. Hyping up clever software and mission critical hardware as a value proposition? I don't think so. No matter how hard you multiply small numbers, they still give small results. Today's news is just duplicate and triplicate everything, as it now costs virtually nothing. Spoil your databases with as many storage mirrors as you want, for that matter, and forget the bread around the sandwich filling. Why even bother backing up to tape? The economies and logic don't work anymore - now wasn't Legato such a great acquisition! Well, the best you can do, as in its acquirer (EMC's) case, is remind the business community that actually their information is not a commodity. If bullshit sold by the pound I'd buy EMC stock. And what about those desk top costs -- two years ago, running at over $2,000 per user. With 20 years of PC literacy, increasingly stable cheap PCs, and everybody and their uncle running home computer set-ups with more muscle that at the office without any IT support, how is it all justified? Well it’s not, and the money saved will be welcome by business managers who are stretching to add every penny to the bottom line. In fact I still can't understand why businesses don't insist that employees use their own PCs, rather than provide them. I don't think there's a college in the USA which does not insist that students provide and support their own, and they seem to manage fine. Add a computer allowance into the salary, for crying out loud! Save capital and apply the tools of the trade rule. And what about those in-business networks. What is all this crap about private networks being more secure - have folks been asleep and not noticed standard integrated encryption (especially PPTP) and the collapse in Internet access prices? Or the fact that 30 million homes in the USA run network connections this year that are eight times the speed/capacity of the average company site, and cost one tenth the price. Is it a redundancy or management tools issue? Get real, just buy a second (or even third) access link and have a $600 semantic router handle everything including automatic load balancing. Oh, secure means the networking wonks; now I understand. Finally, baseline services. Am I the only one who has noticed that all the "file and print" services are now bundled into the PC? What are all those costly-to- support servers doing? Wide area print sharing? Nah, that's the job of now-established IP printing. Or unattended, remotely managed shared office disk storage? Hey, even Linksys is bringing one of these devices out. And what about eMail, iMessaging and VOIP? Well, duh, these are now commodity services. You get messaging for nothing, but you can spend as much as $100 a year should you need to. Company directory? Give HR an LDAP service and let them get on with their jobs. VOIP is today's business bargain; have employees buy a Vonage service and tote around the small network device between home and office, and on the road - their phone and calls will go with them, and their voice mail is integrated in their eMail. Oh, in the USA that's another $25 per month bundled with virtually free nation-wide, and rock-bottom international calls. Just add that lot to the salary reimbursement scheme and think of all those servers, telephone switches, administration and hassle saved. Done the math? For historic $2,000, read a lot under $500. And that comes with some kick-ass performance and reliability improvements. You would have to be another type of "c" word not to see it. ® About Cormac O'Reilly: Late sixties IT industry entrant with early developer gigs in London at Abbey National, Unilever & BOC. Senior IT oil field trash in the eighties and nineties; Schlumberger (Houston TX) and Shell (The Hague). Board IT big-wig at Costain (London) before CIO/CTO at Digital and Wang Global/ Getronics (Boston). Non-exec director at two flame-out dot.coms; now spending ill gotten gains and being provocative in Newburyport, MA
Cormac O'Reilly, 08 Aug 2003

Microsoft, Eidos line up to buy 3DO titles

Microsoft, Eidos and Ubi Soft are among seven companies bidding for the remains of collapsed game publisher 3DO. JoWood Productions Software AG, Turbine Entertainment Software, Crave Entertainment and Namco Hometek are also named in papers filed with the US San Francisco Bankruptcy Court, Reuters reports. 3DO sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last May and offered to sell its assets. Which ones each bidder is interested in - or how much they are offering to pay - the filing does not reveal. 3DO is best known now for titles like Might and Magic, and Army Men, but was founded in 1993 to develop its own games console and license it to consumer electronics manufacturers. Licensees included Panasonic, Sanyo, Samsung, Goldstar, Creative Labs and Toshiba. The company was backed by the likes of Matsushita, pre-AOL Time Warner, MCA, Electronic Arts (the company 3DO founder Trip Hawkins had earlier formed) and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Alas, it never took off, being out-evolved by Sega's Saturn and - more importantly - the Sony Playstation. Being expensive didn't help either. 3DO dropped out of the console business and remoulded itself as a games publisher. ®
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Something Awful going on with SPEWS

An unseemly spat between SomethingAwful.com and SPEWS.org has flared up since the IP range used by the humour site was blacklisted by the anti-spam group late last month. Something Awful shared a subnet, hosted by service provident Cogent, that also housed the domain of a recalcitrant spammer. This was enough to earn a blacklisting of the whole sub-domain by SPEWS on July 20. Collateral damage Zack Parsons, assistant editor at Something Awful, tells us that the blacklisting prevented the humour site from sending business-related emails to subscribers and advertisers despite its oft-stated hatred for spam email. "Efforts to have the site de-listed from SPEWS were met with the insistence from SPEWS advocates that the pressure must be applied to Cogent. At some point during this blacklisting Photoshop-related humour site Worth1000 joined Something Awful on the blacklist," he writes. Bun fight Unable to resolve the situation, Something Awful this month advised its users to take advantage of the new official Something Awful Usenet group at news.admin.net-abuse.blocklisting. But this group and news.admin.net-abuse.email were flooded with off-topic posts and trolls from Something Awful users, incensing SPEWS advocates. According to Parsons, many SPEWS activists declared that they had permanently blacklisted Something Awful. He alleges others "turned to less legal means and initiated DDoS attacks on the Something Awful server" or "attempted to hack passwords on the site's forums". These cracking efforts met with little success, Parsons reports. In response, Something Awful subscribers "offered to return the favour for the attacks by DDoSing SPEWS or even re-routing top-level DNS for the site". Something Awful has dissociated itself from these plans. Its owner, Rich 'Lowtax' Kyanka, is urging users not to strike back. Legal action by Something Awful against SPEWS also seems unlikely. Meanwhile Zack 'Geist Editor' Parsons told us he would continue to advocate a high-level boycott of SPEWS.ORG's blacklist "in an effort to erode its 'draconian grip' over email services". Both sides of the story Parsons could do worse than join with critics set up anti-SPEWS Web site, SPEWSMonitor.info, which was established earlier this year to "counter the growing number of out-of-date, inaccurate and often malicious listings by SPEWS of entire subnets". Another site, antispews.org, has similar aims. Defenders of SPEWS.org counter that organisations and individuals make their own choices about whether or not to use the service. All SPEWS does is produce an advisory list. The list's popularity is evidence that many find it useful, the argument goes. Many people who complain against SPEWS.org use ISPs which failed to play their part in dealing with the spam tsunami, hence a blacklisting. Also blacklisting lists are updated more often by volunteers than SPEWS.org critics give it credit for. ® Related Stories Critics set up anti-SPEWS Web site Florida spammers sue anti-spam groups RSPCA in censorship crusade against humour site External Link SomethingAwful's Zack 'Geist Editor' Parsons in anti-SPEWS rant
John Leyden, 08 Aug 2003

‘Unscrupulous’ Net drugs trade led to death of student

Web sites selling prescription drugs on the Internet are "cynically manipulating vulnerable people who are desperate". Sue Bracknell was speaking after the inquest into her son's death found that the 24-year-old had taken his own life while suffering from depression. Liam Bracknell, a Durham University graduate student, became addicted to a cocktail of drugs after ordering them online. He committed suicide in June after stepping out in front of a tube train in east London. According to the Independent, Bracknell was receiving up to 300 anti-depressant pills a day through the post after ordering the prescription drugs online. Now Mrs Bracknell has called in the Government to do more to stop unscrupulous companies selling prescription drugs on the Internet. She told the BBC: "If the government persist in their refusal to address this problem, lives will continue to be destroyed by unscrupulous profiteers who are given free reign to peddle and push their drugs. "I felt I was tiny compared to the Internet. It's an invisible enemy." Earlier this year a US study found that half of the online pharmacies investigated were unlicensed giving rise to concerns that people were obtaining prescription drugs that might not be suitable for their needs. ®
Tim Richardson, 08 Aug 2003

LINX to Webcast next meeting

The next meeting of LINX (the London Internet Exchange) - Europe's largest Internet exchange point which handles up to 96 per cent of the UK's Internet traffic - is to be broadcast over the Web. In a move described as being in the true spirit of the Internet as "an open, transparent and co-operative organisation", the 42nd LINX members' meeting will be Webcast live on August 18 and 19. On the agenda is a discussion about the future technical development of the LINX exchange. Other issues include Internet regulation, the battle against spam and improving protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The decision to open up this latest quarterly meeting to anyone who is interested in the affairs of LINX follows a live Webcast of a meeting earlier in the year to LINX members. Details of the Webcast are due to be published on the LINX Web site. ®
Tim Richardson, 08 Aug 2003

Wanadoo is not caching your KaZaA

Wanadoo Netherlands has suddenly dropped Joltid's PeerCache, software designed to reduce costs of network traffic by caching frequently traded files within file-swapping system such as KaZaA, saying “it was only an experiment”. It seems that Wanadoo's parent company in Paris became a little too anxious about copyright liability. In a corporate statement describing the experiment a couple of weeks ago, Wanadoo underlined that it didn't want to encourage “infringements on copyrights”. Peercache is built to work for FastTrack, one of the most widely used P2P protocols. Wanadoo's Dutch subsidiary was one of the first ISPs to work with the software. It cached 0.8 terabyte of frequently asked files (albeit not in any recognisable form) on local servers, thereby reducing the volume of international traffic by 25 per cent or more, according to Wanadoo business development manager Lammert van Raan. Wanadoo Netherlands believed the cache was legal, saying that several countries had amended their copyright laws to permit temporary caching and that caching only impacted the load on the ISP's network. Joltid founder Niklas Zennstrom, who co-founded KaZaA, also defended Peercache. He emphasized that caching internet traffic has nothing to do with “encouraging the use of P2P software for illegal purposes”. The IFPI, the trade association representing the international recording industry, didn't agree. It said the word “caching” doesn't mean that the service is automatically excused from copyright liability. A couple of weeks ago Joltid announced that three major service providers in Europe have licensed its Peercache technology, but these partners have not yet publicly disclosed their association with the company. According to Zennstrom more than 20 ISPs are still evaluating the product. ® Related Stories Wanadoo is caching your KaZaA KaZaA founders to 'borrow' your PC to distribute content
Jan Libbenga, 08 Aug 2003

Microsoft unveils Live Web

Microsoft has announced more perks for US Xbox Live players. They can now look forward to "Live Web", which lets them see which games their friends are playing, view stats and scoreboards and download content via a special website. Microsoft recently confirmed plans to debut "Live Now", its new Dashboard with Friends list and Voice Chat accessible from the Xbox interface (rather than just in-game, apparently). Live Web also marks the introduction of XSN Sports, the service announced at E3 in May, which will gives players access to rankings, game stats and scoreboards for titles like NFL Fever 2004 (launching Stateside this month). We're told that to begin with, Live Web will also track results in Ghost Recon: Island Thunder. Although it's not clear when Live Web is due to launch in the UK and Europe, if Island Thunder will also be the first game here, then we can expect something to happen around October 3rd when the game is scheduled for release. Meanwhile, Microsoft is also offering US buyers of NFL Fever 2004 two months of free Xbox Live access, with all the benefits of having stumped up for a Live Starter Kit including Gamertag, the Live Now features and of course Live Web. Live Web is due to launch on August 25th, but while yesterday the Live Now website promised an August 25th launch, now it appears to have been pegged back to mid-September. © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 08 Aug 2003

Tory councillor resigns over kinky photo email

A Tory councillor has resigned from the party after kinky pictures he emailed to 'an admirer' found their way into the in-boxes of his fellow councillors and members of the press. Married father-of-two Phil Grayson, 45, resigned the Conservative party whip this week but continues to sit as an independent member of Bracknell Forest Borough Council. He faces a standards inquiry over accusations from rival Labour councillors that the sexually explicit emails he sent brought the council into disrepute. Councillor Grayson got into a email friendship by someone claiming to be a 23 year-old woman (Julie Masters) interested in older men back in March. Flattered by this attention, Cllr. Grayson began exchanging messages about his sexual fantasies and peccadilloes, which became progressively raunchier over the course of the next three month. These raunchy exchanges came back to haunt the councillor when a photo of him wearing a suspender belt, tights and no underwear he emailed to 'Julie Masters' was publicly released. Cllr. Grayson maintains he is a victim of a conspiracy to discredit him. He has reported the matter to the police. However in an interview with local paper the Bracknell News, Cllr. Grayson admitted his actions were naive. "I have been stupid and deeply regret the pain and anguish caused by this being made public. I was at a low ebb at the time and it was pure escapism," he told the paper. ®
John Leyden, 08 Aug 2003

Lindows unveils $449 PC

Consumer Linux specialist Lindows yesterday launched KooBox, a $449 PC - including monitor - moving the company even further into the hardware arena. The KooBox is actually made by US systems builder MicroTron 2000. It's based on a 1.2GHz AMD Duron processor, bundles 256MB of PC133 SDRAM, offers 20GB of hard disk storage and a 56x CD-ROM unit. Graphics acceleration is integrated into the unnamed chipset, which also offers 10/100 Ethernet and a 56KBps modem. The ATX case, which apart from the name, is visually indistinguishable from any other no-brand PC, packs in two PCI slots, two USB 2.0 ports and legacy connectors. Bundled with the PC is a 14.1in 1024 x 768 LCD panel, speakers, keyboard and mouse. Lindows calls it an all-in-one system, but with an external monitor, the KooBox doesn't really count as one. The unit ships with LindowsOS 4.0, which includes SurfSafe, an anti-porn filter that blocks smut-ridden email and web pages. It also ships with VirusSafe anti-virus software (it's based on Central Command's Vexira), but that's only available for free for the first 90 days - after that, users have to cough up a $29.95 annual membership. Are there really enough Linux viruses out there to warrant that, albeit small, fee, we wonder? Buyers will also have to pay extra $59 for the 24/7 toll-free support hotline and next-day on-site repair service if they want to use it beyond the 90-day tech support warranty shipped with the KooBox. That sum buys you a year's "premium" support, but you can buy up to four years' worth at a time. The launch of KooBox follows on from Lindows' $169 WebStation HDD-less PC last month. Alongside the 'basic' KooBox, Lindows is offering a "deluxe" version with triple the hard drive capacity, more RAM, a CD-RW and DVD-ROM drive, and upgraded speakers, all for $669. ® Related Story Lindows unveils HDD-less $169 Linux appliance
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Nintendo halts GameCube flow

Nintendo has suspended production of GameCubes in a bid to empty is warehouses of unsold consoles. Provided Nintendo can sell off sufficient stocks of its unsold inventory, GameCube production will recommence in the Autumn, the company said. Company president Satoru Iwata wouldn't say how many machines Ninentdo has piled up, waiting to ship. However, he confessed that the company hadn't brought the console to market as well as it should have done. He also conceded that Nintendo had failed to ensure the GameCube had good supply of great software. To date, Nintendo has shipped some ten million GameCubes since the consoles 2001 launch. By contrast, Sony has shipped over 51 million Playstation 2s since 2000. Iwata blamed falling games sales on overly complex titles that are too tough for newcomers and casual gamers. They're also bad for the business, he added - gamers can spend months playing them, and while they're doing so, they're not buying other titles. Those who find they can't win get so fed up with the experience, they don't feel inclined to buy an alternative title. Nintendo's message to the industry seems to be: forget about discs jam packed with ever more complex levels and involving gameplay, and give the punters something they can complete quicky - and get out to buy more of the stuff. Iwata wants Nintendo to focus on games that have a broader appeal. ®
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Broadcom, Intel agree to end fight, share toys

Broadcom and Intel have confirmed that hostilities have ended and the war is over. Last week, the two companies asked the Texas Court that the patent infringement lawsuit brought by Intel against Broadcom be dismissed. Today, the duo revealed they have "settled all outstanding litigation between the companies as well as all litigation involving their affiliates". They also said they have "entered into reciprocal releases covering all patent claims and certain other claims". Such cross-licensing deals are the usual outcome of such 'You stole my intellectual property! No, you stole mine!' spats. This particular deal, described by the parties as "comprehensive", lasts until each individual patent expires. It is also royalty-free. What does the cross-licensing agreement include, precisely? Neither company would say, hiding behind the opaque: "All existing products of each party are licensed by the other. Certain proprietary products of each party are not licensed to the other, but neither company believes that the license exceptions are material to its business as currently conducted or planned." Which basically says, each company has licensed all the other's products - except the ones it hasn't. Presumably Broadcom won't be offering Pentium 4 processors of its own, since it's not planning to enter that market. Unless, of course, it is... Contrary to earlier reports, the actions will not be dismissed without prejudice: one upshot of the settlement is that Broadcom will pay Intel $60 million in cash in two $30 million installments to be accounted for in Intel's Q3 and Q4 results. Broadcom will take the full $60 million hit on its quarter ended 30 June 30, results of which it has yet to file with the SEC. Broadcom filed to sue Intel in November 2001, claiming the chip giant had violated its intellectual property rights. It claimed Intel had used its graphics technology in Intel chipsets without its authorisation. That suit was a response to legal action taken by Intel in August 2000. Then, Intel claimed Arima Communications had infringed a number of its patents. When Broadcom bought Arima in September 2000, the purchaser became the target of Intel's spleen. In fact, it was a target in any case - Intel sued Broadcom in March 2000, alleging the company had obtained its trade secrets "by stealth". Late in September of that year, Broadcom claimed the chip giant has used its chip secrets to speed up development of Intel's own products Two of the claims in the Arima case, covering networking and digital video patents, were spun off into a separate case that came to court late November 2001 and was dismissed by the judge the following month. ® Related Story Intel, Broadcom suspend hostilities
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Net share sting claims UK victims

A small Welsh business lost a "substantial amount of money" after buying shares in a non-existent company which lived only online. The fraudsters behind the scam also ensnared a Manchester-based businessman and theire could be many more British and Irish victims, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Alpha Fasteners, in Brecon, says it was conned by a Zurich-based concern called Smith Fairchild which claimed to be a major VC. Smith Fairchild contacted Alpha in March this year, pumping shares in a Seattle-based company called Sun Biometrics, supposedly soon to get a listing on NASDAQ. Alpha Fasteners researched the company online and duly parted with its cash. In return it received a certificate for the purchase delivered by courier. The fraudsters then pushed their luck. In June, yet another company, called Warren and Baker, appeared on the scene. The new players told Alpha Fastening that their shares "were doing very well, but they needed to pay an extra bond". At last the penny dropped for Alpha, which promptly got on the blower to the Financial Services Authority. The FSA informed them that there were no such companies as Sun Biometric, Smith Fairchild and Warren and Baker. Their Web presence was entirely illusory. Here are the URLs which fooled Alpha www.smithfairchild.com www.sunbiometrics.biz www.warrenandbaker.com As you can see Sun Biometrics site is still live. Alpha paid for its shares through Wells Fargo bank in the US and HSBC in Taiwan. This gave it a false sense of confidence, it told the Forum of Private Business (FPB). The Sun Biometrics scam was set up over months, by fraudsters operating out of many countries. Puget Sound Business Journal has an excellent, exhaustively-researched feature on the sting. ®
Drew Cullen, 08 Aug 2003

IT workers need more skills – bosses

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North of England can all expect to see an increase in demand for IT jobs over the next year. However, the increase in demand for IT staff - estimated to grow by 4 per cent in some regions over the next twelve months - is likely to be offset by further downward pressure on jobs in London and the South East. According to the latest research from the industry body e-skills UK, more than 24,000 IT jobs could disappear in London and the South East over the next year or so. Overall, the 'e-skills Regional Gap - UK' report also found that programming and IT operating system skills were most in demand. While the jobs market is still looking patchy, the report also throws some light on the skills levels of those currently in work. The research found that six in ten employers believe their IT staff need additional skills to help increase productivity. Last year, five in ten employers thought their staff needed more skills training. ®
Tim Richardson, 08 Aug 2003

3G, security drive smart card sales

The advent of 3G and various credit card security programmes will enable smart card manufacturers to leave behind a troubled 2002 and look to a period of sustainable growth. Fierce competition in the low-end SIM market dampening revenue growth in 2002. But the expansion of 3G will create brisk demand for high-end 32k and 64k SIM cards this year, analyst firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts. At the same time, financial and identification applications are offering opportunities for vendors to expand their markets. Mobile market Slow growth in the mobile subscriber base in Europe, over-capacity of low-end 8k and 16k cards and the cancellation of orders by Chinese telecom operators created tremendous price pressures in the global SIM card market in 2002. As manufacturers resorted to aggressive price-cutting strategies to gain market share, revenues and profit margins declined. Frost & Sullivan expects prices to continue falling in 2003, but at a lower rate than last year, when prices of SIM cards fell 25-30 per cent. Manufacturers are expected to offset price declines through improved product mixes, with a focus on Java cards as well as on high-end 32k and 64k SIM cards with higher prices and larger memory. As telecom operators roll out 3G coverage and value-added services on GSM networks demand for high-end SIM cards is likely to rise. Increased penetration of mobile telephony in countries such as India as well as in Africa and Eastern Europe also provide opportunities for growth. Visa et al push smart card-based credit cards Frost & Sullivan reckons SIM cards are critical to providing secure mobile transactions over GSM networks. And the migration from magnetic stripe cards to smart cards within the financial sector is expected to provide greater opportunity to use these cards for mobile commerce. This migration has been delayed in Europe and parts of Latin America. However, high fraud rates together with incentives from Visa and MasterCard are expected to accelerate compliance with EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) standards. A case in point is the UK's Chip and PIN programme. Frost & Sullivan notes that both Visa and MasterCard have initiated several low-cost smart card programmes that offer a range of smart cards from single application payment cards to sophisticated multi-application Java-based cards of various memory sizes. This provides a sound business case for financial organisations to start issuing smart banking cards, according to Frost & Sullivan. The 9/11 effect Post 9/11, the number of government-sponsored ID projects has spiralled. Governments worldwide are assessing smart card-based systems for secure identification. Frost & Sullivan notes a particular interest is combining the use of smart cards with biometrics for secure identification. "Contactless smart cards are being identified as among the best ways to store biometric data on travel documents such as passports, visas and identity cards," according to Frost & Sullivan. "[Meanwhile] both Visa and MasterCard are backing the use of contactless technology as a faster and more convenient way to conduct payment transactions, a sign that bodes well for the smart card market." Fax and figures In 2002, a total of 1,906.4 million smart cards were shipped globally, with memory smart card accounting for about 55.7 per of unit shipments. Microcontroller smart cards make up the reset. Frost & Sullivan forecasts this balance will reverse by 2006 with microcontroller smart card units capturing 55.5 percent share of the total 2,541.3 million smart card shipments predicted that year. With a 43.1 per cent market share, EMEA accounted for the majority of smart card unit shipments in 2002. The region led in both memory and microcontroller unit shipments, followed by Asia Pacific and then the Americas. Competition was fierce across all regional markets with price wars affecting every market player. Despite painful restructuring and falling unit shipments over 2001-2002, traditional giants such as Gemplus, Schlumberger and Oberthur Card Systems (OCS) continued to hold sway over the global market. Multinationals such as Giesecke & Devrient and smaller companies such as ORGA also turned in strong performances. The major competitive development last year was the emergence of local players especially in the Asian region such as Ming Wah, Eastcompeace, Tianjin and AMS. This trend is likely to put a further squeeze on short-term profits while intensifying competition, Frost & Sullivan forecasts. Frost & Sullivan smart card analyst Shalini Chowdhary concludes: "Selecting and developing strategic partnerships and alliances prior to entering a new market segment will be critical for smart card vendors. Specifically, vendors need to make the right partnerships to take advantage of the enormous potential of the ID and security market segments." Frost & Sullivan latest study of the smart card market, which costs $5,500, can be purchased from its smart card market microsite. ® Related Stories Smart cards, ID cards, nice, nasty, inevitable? US names the day for biometric passports Smart credit on UK cards. Will it cut fraud? Latest addition to hacker toolkits - a light bulb Research signals safer smart cards
John Leyden, 08 Aug 2003

BT faces fresh Datastream complaint

MediaWays.uk - a subsidiary of German Internet outfit Telefonica - has lodged a new complaint with telecoms regulator Oftel over plans by BT to increase the cost of its wholesale broadband product, Datastream. In June, BT was forced to reduce the price for DataStream by 70p a line following a barrage of complaints from rivals accusing it of anti-competitive behaviour. Although the price cut was welcomed, rival operators argued that it did not go far enough. Now, BT has told Oftel it plans to increase the cost of an element of DataStream, which MeadiaWays.uk claims will lead to an increase of around 60p a line - effectively wiping out the cut made three months ago. Said Martin Kuetter, MD of MediaWays.uk: "BT's consistent abuse of its market power is stifling competition and placing excessive burden on the operators. "Worryingly, Oftel's ability to keep pace and react to anti-competitive price tactics such as these is in question," he said. BT defended the move insisting that the new costings are based on specific charges for different components rather than an aggregate cost. A BT Wholesale spokesman said he was unable to comment on the 60p per line increase quoted by MediaWays.uk since the cost would vary depending on how operators "assembled their Datastream-based services". In April, BT announced it was to cut the wholesale cost of its IPStream product. But the move was savaged by many in the industry who accused BT of anti-competitive behaviour, claiming that the price cuts discriminated against operators with rival networks, including those involved in opening up the local loop. They argued the price cuts applied only to BT's wholesale IPStream product, which provides an end-to-end ADSL service solely using BT's network. The cuts did not apply to Datastream products, which use competing national networks from alternative rival carriers. In June, BT bowed to pressure form Oftel and cut the cost of its wholesale Datastream product. However, rivals claimed this did not go far enough. One competitor, Energis, submitted a new complaint to Oftel under the Competition Act in a bid to increase the pressure on BT to loosen its "stranglehold on the [UK's] wholesale broadband market". A spokesman for Oftel confirmed that it had received a complaint from MediaWays.uk and that it was investigating the matter. ® Related Stories Energis lodges new broadband complaint with Oftel 'Monopolistic' BT kicked where it hurts BT backtracks on broadband pricing cuts Two more telcos run to Oftel over BT BB 'margin squeeze' Tiscali blasts BT's 'anti-competitive' ADSL price cuts
Tim Richardson, 08 Aug 2003

Anti-scam website pressured by scammer

A website set up to advise small businesses about how not to get caught up in a European directory scam has come under increasing pressure from the company it exposes, European City Guide. StopECG.org has received lawyers' letters from St Louis in the US insisting its domain name infringes the European City Guide's ECG trademark and that unless it hands over the domain an injunction will be sought to seize the URL. European City Guide doesn't actually own the ECG trademark - though it has just applied for one - but the threat of legal action has been enough to worry site owner Jules Woodell. He is a former victim of the company - which has in the past fallen foul of the UK's Office of Fair Trading - and a man who knows better than most the company's aggressive tactics. Legal threat That the letter stems from St Louis is interesting in that the European City Guide and its assorted other businesses that run the same scam are based and act solely in Europe. The company is largely grounded in Spain but its financial base is, perhaps inevitably, in Switzerland. Whether St Louis has a different interpretation to the rest of the US and the world of how trademarks can be applied to websites, we do not know. But even with an injunction, Mr Woodell is not obliged to do anything since he is based in the UK, as is his ISP. The StopECG.org site details the scam, lists the various regulatory body decisions made against European City Guide and provides useful advice to companies caught out. European City Guide and its other sister companies make their money by sending out forms to small businesses which offer what appears to be a free directory service. It is only once the form is filled in and returned and the details entered on their limited site that an unexpected invoice is sent out, Mr Woodell says. In his case, he was informed he had to pay £500 for his inclusion on the directory. A review of the small print also reveals that the contract is for three years and will be automatically renewed unless the company is informed in writing. Mr Woodell's refusal to pay was greeted with stern legal threats and harassment from a Swiss debt collection agency closely associated with the company. Interest and additional fees continued to be added to the sum, adding further pressure. However, it was only when Mr Woodell looked on the European City Guide site and contacted each of the other 23 businesses listed in his area that he realised they had all been duped. One had already parted with £900. He swiftly set up a mailing list on Yahoo so other small businesses under pressure could talk to one another. The list was inundated. Following legal threats from European City Guide though, Yahoo followed its usual practice and shut the list down. Mr Woodell is now seeking a replacement list host. Despite Mr Woodell's best efforts, it seems European City Guide remains free to continue in business. The UK's Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints made against the company in 1999. The Office of Fair Trading ruled against the company two years ago but is powerless to do any more since the company is not based in the UK. "It is hiding behind international borders," says Mr Woodell. "And so far we estimate 200,000 people - all small businesses - have been caught up in it." His site does, however, provide people faced either with the company's mailshot or with legal threats a quick way to assess the situation. A search for "European City Guide" on Google lists Mr Woodell's site at number three - and plenty of other, similar sites. That, more than anything, is why the company is playing heavy legal games. Fortunately, those legal threats are as valid as the thousands it issues every month in order to extract money from duped businesses across Europe. ® Related Link StopECG.org
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Aug 2003

Merrill Lynch shackles employee Net access

Merrill Lynch today introduced a company-wide ban on access to third-party email services from corporate PCs. In a memo to staff, the investment banker said it was prohibiting workers from picking up or sending email through Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and the like because of "regulatory requirements" and as a means to cut off a possible route by which viruses might enter its network. Access to external message boards, chat rooms or forums have all become proscribed activities for Merrill Lynch workers. Using home email accounts at work have also been outlawed. Merrill Lynch's ban extends rules that apply to workers on Merrill Lynch's trading desk across its 48,000-strong global workforce. "We believe it is appropriate for that policy to be extended throughout the firm, without exception, to help ensure that electronic communications to and from Merrill Lynch facilities are subject to proper monitoring and surveillance," said the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Cnet. Merrill Lynch's hard-line policy is similar to those already introduced at rival investment house Goldman Sachs. Access to external Web and Internet services is being closely controlled - or banned outright - across the investment banking community as part of wider regulatory changes introduced in the wake of the Enron affair. The growing desire of finance houses to control access to unauthorised services has created a niche security market, with employee management firms like Websense and numerous others only too happy to step into the breach. Meanwhile, related industry developments have boosted the market for enterprise class Instant Messaging products, which provide enhanced security and auditing features over mainstream IM products from AOL, MSN and Yahoo. ® Related Stories EDS bans IM Memory sticks are the latest security risk Personal storage sites are the latest 'security risk' Websense hopes to filter more than just the Web Net 'misuse' costs corporate America $2000 per second
John Leyden, 08 Aug 2003

Cherie Blair dance track hits Number One

"Will you still love me, will you still hug me, when I'm number 1?" read a story in The Independent on 4 August, which revealed the startling news that Cherie Blair, wife of the Prime Minister, was to become the summer's biggest dance hit sensation. According to the article, a sample of Cherie singing The Beatles' 'When I'm Sixty-Four' at a Chinese press conference last month had found its way onto a dance track and become an instant hit. "The sample has serious novelty value. It's a catchy tune and an eccentric performance. When people realise it's Mrs Blair it is difficult to know how they will react but it is set to be red hot this summer," an apparent spokesman for Radio 1 in Ibiza told the reporter. "The tune has taken off in a big way in the nightclubs all over Europe. It was treated as a bit of a joke but it's now proved to be a big favourite on the dance floor," said a "music industry source". The news was too good to miss and suddenly every media outlet was running wild with the tale, picked up off the Internet. Most, in the best tradition of British reporting, omitting to mention the fact that they had stolen it from The Independent. The song is "proving a hit" said the Evening Standard, stealing the same record industry quote. The same quote is then found all over the US media. The Age in Australia revealed it was "dazzling Britons on the dancefloor". The Scotsman is confident that it will "storm the UK's pop charts". The Mirror knowingly tells us it is "a hit in clubs from Ibiza to Ayia Napa". According to Sky, the single has sparked a "dance craze". The same hyperbole is repeated all over the world.* Except, except, except. Five days after the sensational news was revealed to an astonished world, has anyone actually heard this incredible summer hit? Thousands of clubbers are, even as we speak, dancing to it, yet no one save a so-called Radio 1 spokesman and a "music industry source" has had anything to say about it. And - possibly the final proof - it hasn't appeared on any of the file-sharing networks. Maybe we're wrong. Maybe the song is so devastatingly good that the listener's mind is incapable of remembering it mere seconds later. But it would seem that Cherie's Song will only be number one of one chart this summer and that is the Media Hoax Top Ten. ® *With the exception of the BBC, which appears to have learnt from its numerous previous cock-ups and gone with the headline 'Mystery of Cherie's Ibiza 'hit''.
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Aug 2003

Do Not Spam list and filtering firms join hands

A company that runs a Do Not Spam list and a spam filtering firm this week launched a reciprocal discount scheme. Global Removal and DAIR Computer Systems, the publisher of spam filter SpamAI, said their discount scheme gives their customers "two forms of spam protection for the price of one". The Do Not Spam List, from Global Removal, "removes customer email addresses from the lists used by mass-emailers" for a one-time fee of $5. Starting immediately, Global Removal customers will be credited the entire $5 amount toward the purchase of the SpamAI Multi-User Spam Blocker software. Meanwhile, SpamAI customers will be credited $5 toward inclusion in the Global Removal Clean List. The announcement of the deal has been accompanied by much excited marketing blather between the two companies about "synergy" and the like. However, there are several reasons to wonder about the effectiveness of the combined approach advocated by the duo. Firstly, only companies who have subscribed to Global Removal's network are promising not to send people on the list spam. Even if you assume that bulk mailers who subscribe to the list are ethical, this approach still leaves out the worst offending spamsters. And what of the fear that a Do Not Spam list might fall into the hands of spammers? Global Removal says it's encrypted and can't be used to send email, so people shouldn't worry about the disclosure of the list. Subscribing to Global Mail makes sense for bulk mailers, the company argues. By cleaning their lists, mass-emailers eliminate the most vocal anti-spam individuals from their lists, so mass-emailers and their customers will receive fewer complaints from end-users and ISPs. In addition, the quality of their lists is improved, increasing value (at least in theory - some make money simply by generating traffic for Web sites). Finally, Global Mail pays the mass-emailer to clean their lists, giving bulk mailers even more reason to join the list. But why should people have to pay not to be spammed? This seems all wrong. Telemarketing-oriented 'do not call' lists are free and are - in the UK - observed. Will list makers in the US play by the rules? A recent Security Focus article about US email list brokers provides food for thought. ®
John Leyden, 08 Aug 2003

Macworld Expo to stay in Big Apple?

Apple appears to be close to winning its battle with Macworld Expo organiser IDG World Expo over the location of the bi-annual show's East Coast venue. David Korse, IDG World Expo's new chief, has told the Boston Herald that he is examining the merits of New York and Boston, and will make a final decision on the show's location on 1 September. If he chooses to stay in New York, the show's East Coast home for the past few years, it will be good news for Apple. IDG World Expo announced it was moving the show to Boston back in 2002, the East Coast show's former home. The first Boston show was scheduled for the summer of 2004. Soon after, Apple said it thought the move a mistake and promised not to take part. It also said it would reconsider its support for the 2003 show, which took place last month. And, indeed, CEO Steve Jobs decided not to give his customary keynote speech. Instead, Apple beefed up its Worldwide Developers Conference, and Jobs made all the announcements he might otherwise have made at Macworld at WWDC. Having downplayed its participation at Macworld Expo, Apple had little choice but to transfer Job's announcements to WWDC. It's possible the Conference's move from San Jose in May to San Francisco's prestigious Moscone Center in June was made to make it possible to announce the Power Mac G5. Apple may have been sending a IDG World Expo a warning: look, guys, we don't need you, we can do this kind of thing ourselves. Heck, it may even have done so to give developers a better, more feature-complete view of Panther, the next version of the Mac OS, but odds have to be on one or both of the former. We haven't seen the figures, and we weren't there ourselves, but anecdotal evidence suggests this year's Macworld Expo in New York wasn't as popular as it has been. Not only the Jobs no-show, but having WWDC scoop Expo almost a month ahead, must have had an effect on attendances. There were fewer exhibitors too. The traditional 'more people visited than last year' press release is conspicuous by its absence. The very fact that Korse is considering keeping the show in Now York is a sign that Apple's strategy has, in part, worked. It prefers New York because the location better signifies the image Apple is keen to project as a major player. The move to Boston, while welcomed by many regular attendees - the city's cost of living is cheaper than The Big Apple's - might be perceived is a diminution of the relevance of the Mac, and understandably Apple couldn't back such a move. ®
Tony Smith, 08 Aug 2003

Sun scoops up CenterRun

Sun Microsystems is doing its part to eliminate the glut of small virtualization companies haunting the IT market by acquiring them one at a time. The latest addition to Sun's virtualization stable is software maker CenterRun based in Redwood City, California. Sun is said to have offered up close to $60 million to purchase CenterRun in an all cash transaction. The deal is expected to close this quarter - the first of Sun's fiscal year. Sun has plenty of cash in the bank - close to $6 billion - and isn't afraid to use it. In recent times, Sun has gobbled up intelligent switch-maker Pirus and Terraspring - another virtualization software company. There have been a couple of additional pick-ups to round other parts of Sun's business such as content management. CenterRun appears to do very similar things to Terraspring. It's software is billed as a tool for installing and managing applications on multi-vendor hardware. Both CenterRun and Terraspring fit into Sun's N1 technology for server and storage management. CenterRun is of particular note for a couple of reasons. For one, it actually has living, breathing, existing customers. VeriSign, Seagate, Genentech and a host of others pop up on the company's Web site. Secondly, CenterRun pays particular attention to moving customers onto Linux from other platforms. Sun needs help here big time. Acquiring a Linux-focused software company seems to indicate Sun is more serious about the open source OS for servers than it may let on at times. Besides its data center products, CenterRun sells a line of proprietary keyboards. Jump onto the company's Web site and have a look at the "Deploy Board 2000." CenterRun has removed the "Return" key in favor of a "Deploy" key - clearly an effort to make life easier on administrators. Sun claims to be all about open standards, which makes the keyboard a weird addition to its product mix. Admins might enjoy it, but regular users have to go through a 12-step process to use the regular "Return" function. However, an add-on "Return" module is available for $199. Okay, the keyboard bit isn't true, but the difficulties Sun will have combining all of its acquired product lines are very much a reality. There isn't a huge need to virtualize as of yet, so Sun has some time. Most users are weary of the panacea talk vendors are throwing at them and are not close to being ready to use next-generation management products just yet. Still, Sun will need a way to make all of these differing product lines work together if N1 is to function as billed. Sun has the expertise to pull this off, but it will take time. Go ahead and get your feet wet with the Deploy Board 2000 now but don't expect to virtualize with ease for a couple of years. ®
Ashlee Vance, 08 Aug 2003