12th > August > 2003 Archive

Microsoft fined $520m for infringing patents

Eolas Technologies and the University of California were yesterday awarded $520.6 million after a jury agreed that Microsoft had infringed patents held by both organisations. Eolas and Microsoft came to court on 8 July (see Microsoft to face patent violation claims today), the result of a complaint filed by Eolas in February 1999. At the heart of the case is a patent granted to the University of California but administered by Eolas, a firm set up in 1994 by the inventors of the technology described in the patent to capitalise upon it. The patent, number 5,838,906, was filed in October 1994 and granted in November 1998. Essentially, it describes how a user can use a web browser to access and execute a remotely stored program object that has been embedded in a web page. Eolas contended that Microsoft's ActiveX technology does just that and more to the point does so without Eolas' permission. Its 1999 suit originally named Windows 95 and 98, and Internet Explorer as offending items, and demanded they be banned from sale. Microsoft said it would appeal the decision in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. "We're confident the facts will support our position," said a spokesperson. The company's official line is: "We believe the evidence will ultimately show that there was no infringement of any kind, and that the accused feature in our browser technology was developed by our own engineers based on preexisting Microsoft technology." Eolas' legal representation, Martin Lueck, a member of law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, said: "We think the verdict is vindication that Microsoft has made extensive use of Eolas' technology to make its Internet Explorer the best-of-breed browser." ® Related Stories Microsoft to face patent violation claims today Microsoft sued over alleged ActiveX patent violation
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Transmeta to brand TM8000 ‘Efficeon’

UpdateUpdate Transmeta has revealed to the world the name under which its next-generation TM8000 chip - codenamed 'Astro' - will be marketed. That name is Efficeon. "The Efficeon name and look communicate the ideal of efficient computing," explained Arthur L Swift, Transmeta's Senior VP of Marketing. For what it's worth, Efficeon is eight letters long - the same length as the space allowed for the brand name in the marketing teaser crossword puzzle on Transmeta's web site. Whatever, the new chip will run everyday applications around 50 per cent faster per clock cycle than the current generation of Crusoe TM5800 can. Multimedia apps will run up to 80 per cent per clock cycle faster, the company claimed. Clock speeds for the part have yet to be announced. Products based on the new processor are likely to be announced in Q4, after the chip's scheduled introduction this quarter. It will be fabbed by Taiwan Semiconductor using a 130nm process. The new chip features upgrades to Transmeta's LongRun power-saving technology and its Code Morphing x86 compatibility software, but that's only to be expected. More interesting is a revised architecture allows the TM8000 to execute up to eight instructions per clock, like IBM's upcoming PowerPC 970. The TM8000 sports a 256-bit VLIW engine. The TM8000 will sport three on-chip bus controllers: AGP, DDR 400 and HyperTransport. The latter is clocked at 400MHz. The AGP bus operates at 4x speed. Essentially, then, it integrates its North Bridge onto the die. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

AMD unveils Athlon 64 logo

AMD has unveiled the logo it will use to market the 64-bit Athlon 64 processor when the chip is launched on 23 September. It also launched a logo marketing programme for its broader AMD64 technology, on which the Athlon 64, along with AMD's Opteron family, is based. AMD64 is AMD's name for its 64-bit extensions to the old 32-bit x86 ISA. The logos will be used - AMD hopes - to not only brand machines based on its CPUs, but by software vendors keen to tout 64-bit versions of their applications. "The AMD64 Logo Program allows leading software and hardware developers to signify their support for the extraordinary value of simultaneous, native 32- and 64-bit computing on the AMD64 platform," said Rich Heye, VP and General Manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. "The AMD64 logo indicates that end users can continue using their software and hardware today and migrate to next-generation technology at their own pace," he added. "The AMD64 logo tells you that you're getting the best of both worlds," said Tim Sweeney, founder and president of Epic Games, and long-time 64-bit computing supporter. But since the logo stresses '64' over '32' - of which there's no mention - it's hard to see how the design conveys that 'best of both worlds' aspect Heye and Sweeney hopes it will. It only works at that level with punters who know enough about the technology to read 'full 32-bit backward compatibility' into it - and they're familiar enough with the technology not to need a logo in the first place. ® Related Story Transmeta to brand TM8000 'Efficeon'
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Hynix to ship ‘first’ 1Gb DDR II chip during Q1 2004

Hynix has just put the finishing touches on what it claims is the industry's first 1Gb DDR II chip. Easy to say, of course, since the part won't be available until Q4, and then only in sample quantities. Full-scale production is not due until early next year when, Hynix says, Intel will release its "DDR II chipset". That's a reference to Intel's Lindenhurst and Twin Castle chipsets, both designed for Xeon chips due early 2004. Lindenhurst will support the 90nm Xeon for single-CPU systems, codenamed 'Nocona', while Twin Castle will use 90nm Xeon MPs codenamed 'Potomac'. Both are likely to be based on Intel's Prescott core, the next generation of Pentium chip. Potomac is currently being touted as the first 64-bit x86 Intel chip, courtesy of AMD64-style technology. Meanwhile, Hynix's DDR II part will be fabbed at 110nm using the same 'Golden Chip' process is uses to produce its 512Mb DDR II parts. Touting 'Golden Chip', Hynix said the system leverages existing investment in chip-making kit, reducing the cost of moving from (presumably) 130nm to 110nm by 50 per cent over rival processes while increasing the number of die per wafer by 40 per cent. In short, Hynix can make high-capacity DDR II chips cheaper than other manufacturers, or so the company claims. It may have Elpida in mind. That company received $100 million from Intel earlier this year to boost its investment in DDR II production. ® Related Stories Hynix ready to mass produce DDR 500 Intel offers Elpida $100m to drive DDR 2 production Elpida DDR 2 SDRAM fit for future Intel server chipsets
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

IT systems constantly need greater protection

Increased interest in security solutions amongst enterprises globally has ensured that security product revenues have exceeded those of many other IT solutions. Ian Williams, program manager for Datamonitor's Enterprise Security team, looks at the growing awareness of the constant need to offer greater protection to IT systems... Enterprise security products generated revenues of $7.1 billion in 2002 and global enterprise investment in security products is predicted to rise to $13.5 billion in 2006. Intrusion protection, vulnerability assessment solutions and security management tools are tipped to be key revenue generators. While North America will remain the largest market, Latin America, followed by Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing. However, vendors have struggled to increase demand in what is still a soft market. Security product vendors with more than one solution in their portfolio have often performed well in one market but have mostly failed to increase sales of their other products. The failure to achieve significant cross-sell opportunities has been a frustrating experience for vendors that have invested heavily in the 'one-stop shop' school of security product promotion. However, vendors have turned to new solution models and subsequently new markets are evolving. Positioning best selling solutions within an overall security framework will allow vendors to better leverage their best of breed products to greater effect and enable them to gain more revenues from areas where stronger growth is predicted in the future. Rise of new security solution models means new markets have evolved Despite being the most mature, anti-virus and firewall solutions have seen strong growth due to a number of high profile virus outbreaks ensuring that perimeter protection solutions remained popular. One of the new models, for 'layered security', will help ensure that these markets continue to grow steadily. The layered security approach encourages enterprises to embed more technologies at each layer of the enterprise: at the perimeter, within the network, on servers and on client devices such as PCs and PDAs. This will increase sales of more traditional security solutions as well as encouraging greater sales in complementary markets such as threat protection and content filtering. Vendors have also increasingly turned to other solution models that combine the properties of a number of solutions to meet a common aim. New markets have subsequently evolved including threat protection, secure content management, security management and identity management. While some vendors are looking to cross-sell opportunities, others see it as a natural way to meet the needs of ever more demanding clients. The secure content management market, for example, combines anti-virus content filtering and employee Internet management solutions to ensure that all unwanted content is filtered out from incoming emails or the Internet: be it viruses, pornographic images or unauthorized text. The security management tools market will grow at an average annual growth rate of 30 per cent from 2002 to 2006 As companies increase the number of products in their architectures, they struggle to manage a heterogeneous environment. Security administrators will look to cope better with the thousands of security alerts their systems generate on a daily basis and as both legislation and regulations force companies in a number of industries to respond to increasingly strict policy compliance mandates. This will fuel the need for security management tools. Vendors of solutions such as threat management and security policy compliance products have responded to this need by pushing more sophisticated solutions to help reduce the IT departments' workload. By bringing with it a powerful return on investment argument, the market for security management tools generated global revenues of $371 million in 2002. By 2006 Datamonitor predicts that this market will be worth $1.1 billion. The intrusion protection and vulnerability assessment market generated revenues of $642 million in 2002 Vendors have learned from their mistakes and as well as improving their technologies to reduce the number of false alarms, they have looked to create closer links between traditional security mainstays such as greater integration with firewall and anti-virus solutions. A more focused positioning of the technologies involved and an industry wide push for more far-reaching 'threat protection' solutions will see the combined intrusion protection and vulnerability assessment grow at a CAGR of 20 per cent to reach over $1.3 billion by 2006. The more traditional security product markets such as firewall and anti-virus demonstrated some impressive growth in 2002 and although some vendors struggled in the face of stiff competition, the overall market increased by around 11-12 per cent between 2001 and 2002. While the market for other products such as intrusion protection and vulnerability assessment solutions will see stronger growth over the next few years than previously experienced they will achieve greater success as part of a more complete security solutions package than by themselves. Related research Datamonitor Enterprise security product markets (DMTC0913) Source Computerwire/Datamonitor Copyright © 2003, Offer Datamonitor is offering Reg readers some of its technology research for free. Check it out here.
Datamonitor, 12 Aug 2003

Blaster worm spreading rapidly

A worm that exploits a critical Remote Procedure Call (RPC) flaw to infect vulnerable Windows machines is spreading rapidly across the Internet this morning. Although serious, the effects of the Blaster worm are expected to be less than that caused by the infamous Nimda worm. The Blaster worm (AKA Lovsan, MSBlast or Poza), which began spreading yesterday, is programmed launch an attack against windowsupdate.com on 16 August. Microsoft last month issued a patch to guard against the problem but uptake has been predictably slow, allowing malicious code writers to come up with software that is having a severe effect on many Windows users. Mac, Linux and Unix computers are immune to this Microsoft-specific vulnerability. According to a preliminary analysis of the worm by F-Secure, the worm spreads in a 6176 byte executable named MSBLAST.EXE to Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems unless recent Windows security patches have been applied. Windows NT 4 and Windows 2003 might also be affected but these systems appear to be playing a lesser role in the spread of the worm. The worm launches a command shell and uses TFTP to connect to other infected systems to download the worm's executable. Blaster will scan addresses in the Internet to locate vulnerable Windows machines using TCP/TDP port 135. Once found, it will copy itself over and modify the system so the worm will be executed every time the machine is started. The worm will keep on replicating from every infected machine. Unsuccessful propagation attempts may crash vulnerable computers, or render them unstable. Successful worm outbreaks are causing localised network latency. Blaster contains the following text strings: I just want to say LOVE YOU SAN!! billy gates why do you make this possible ? Stop making money and fix your software!! Security experts have been predicting the arrival of the worm, or something like it, for some weeks. TruSecure, which has been prominent in these warnings, has published an informative advisory on the worm, which gives some indication of its likely spread. The alert states: "TruSecure does not expect LANs to suffer from denial of service conditions due to this infection, even if it becomes infected. This is because internal infections will only propagate if outbound TFTP requests are allowed. If a source is found it can be blocked at either the firewall or router." For these reasons, TruSecure "does not expect this to be as bad as Code Red, Nimda or SQL Slammer". However, the company notes that there has been "numerous problems with Windows Update and St. Bernard's Update Expert - both of which showed that MS patch was installed when it wasn't". It is expecting more trouble ahead. The SANS institute has issued the following advice on guarding against the spread of the worm: Close port 135/TCP (and if possible 135-139, 445 and 593) Monitor TCP Port 4444 and UDP Port 69 (tftp) which are also used by the worm Ensure that all available patches have been applied, especially a fix for the flaw at the centre of the spread of Blaster Pull infected machines from a network pending a complete rebuild of the system Let's be careful out there. ®
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2003

Wireless hotspots begin at home

If the dream of universal public wireless LAN access is to become a reality, one thing's for certain: there will have to be more Wi-Fi access devices used more widely by the general mobile public. That means more laptops with Wi-Fi, more PDAs with Wi-Fi and more games consoles with Wi-Fi. It also means that sitting comfortably using wireless access will no longer be just the preserve of the road warrior or corporate executive, writes Rob Bamforth of Bloor Research. Being comfortable with Wi-Fi is only the first stage, demanding it is what most vendors hope will follow next. So will the growth of home Wi-Fi networks be a major catalyst? The only drawback has been the challenges and awkwardness of installation. Without a tame techie in tow only the brave few have embarked on a home wireless LAN project. With good fortune, some effort, and much swearing at sets of manuals they might reach a successful conclusion. It can be very hit and miss. This is set to change. Telewest Broadband, the UK Cable Internet service provider, has launched a self-installation pack for wireless home access to their broadband Internet service. The pack is priced to tempt at only £35, and is based on a pre-configured Netgear access point married to the cable modem, which is currently built into the cableco's set-top box. Not only is this useful for those wanting to surf from a laptop in bed, on the sofa or in the garden, it also solves the other problem - few homes are cabled up for Ethernet. The regular Telewest Broadband cable modem being part of the set-top box doesn't fit well with most house layouts as the TV is only co-located with PC in one in five homes. So 'wireless' means less wires, even if it's only used to hook up with an existing desktop computer. The cost of adding wireless cards in devices is dropping. Industry initiatives such as Intel's marketing juggernaut around the Centrino chipset are gathering momentum. It's likely more and more manufacturers of a wide variety of products will bundle Wi-Fi access with their products. Sony have recently announced that next year's PlayStation Portable will include Wi-Fi. The move by Telewest is important for them in the increasingly competitive broadband supply landscape. It is sure to be welcomed by their customers, as well as copied by their rivals. The effect on the hotspot market could be even more significant. There is only so much scope for attracting more mobile business users into coffee shops, and keeping them busy in their otherwise idle moments in airports and hotel lobbies. To ensure an adequate coverage model and income for providers, hotspots need to be welcoming consumers. If Telewest's approach leads to a large percentage of broadband users becoming comfortable with wireless data access throughout the home, it might just stimulate sufficient consumer demand to push the hotspot bandwagon a little faster. ® Copyright © 2003 IT Analysis.com Related Stories Wired not wireless to dominate home LAN market 70% of Brits don't know what a WiFi hotspot is Wi-Fi to be embedded in 95% of notebooks by 2005
IT-Analysis, 12 Aug 2003

IT Minds knocks 30% off Oracle DBA SQL Quick Ref

Site offerSite offer If you're a working Oracle DBA, here's the Oracle SQL reference you've been searching for - simple, straightforward and incredibly easy to use! There's no faster way to discover the exact syntax you need... refresh your memory about that option you haven't used lately... find the name of that view you know exists... start using that new Oracle 9i feature you haven't tried yet. Keep it by your desk, near your server... wherever you need fast, reliable answers right this minute! Now available to Reg readers for £16.79 - a saving of 30 per cent. Also available to Reg readers this week at a 30 per cent discount: MCAD Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic(r) .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio(r) .NET Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-305) Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry Securing Systems with the Solaris Toolkit Game Creation and Careers: Insider Secrets from Industry Experts Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morcels of Sonic Goodness Star Trek: Elite Force II Official Strategy Guide Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 One-Click Wow! Making Movies with Final Cut Express MCSE Windows 2000 Exam Cram Pack And don't forget that you can buy all other books at a 20 per cent discount from IT-minds.com
Team Register, 12 Aug 2003

UK heatwave strains servers

The heat wave under which the UK is wilting could have an adverse effect on network and server equipment. Hosting firm Interxion - who we congratulate on being the first IT firm to get a news angle out of Britain's red hot, hot summer - is warning that unwelcome outages will result if equipment is allowed to overheat. An obvious point, perhaps, but one worth making again as the UK basks in unprecedently high temperatures. Sunday witnessed the highest recorded UK temperatures 38.1°C (100.6°F). For British sysadmins this represents uncharted territory. Interxion is advising firms to check that the ambient temperature around server cabinets does not exceed 22°C, otherwise they risk major malfunctions due to overheating and high humidity. Manufacturers always advise of the maximum temperature at which their equipment can run. However, Interxion has found that equipment performance can deteriorate even before this temperature is reached. Above a certain threshold, network and server life can even decrease by as much as 50 per cent for every 2°C temperature rise. "Much like people, IT equipment suffers fatigue as the temperature begins to rise," said Interxion's MD, Anthony Foy. "To prevent their networks from slowing down - or even falling over - businesses need to continually monitor and control the temperature of their IT cabinets." As well as monitoring the temperature of servers, Interxion is advising that businesses implement back-up cooling systems in case primary systems become overloaded and fail. ® External Links Whew! What a scorcher! Related Stories Server room dangerous? Here's BOFH armageddon Computers will disturb heat balance of universe, says Sun's Gage
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2003

Dutch anti-piracy group targets file swappers

Dutch anti-piracy organisation Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands (BREIN) is going after individual music files swappers and will bill or prosecute people who offer large amount of files through services as KaZaA, Gnutella and Grokster. BREIN has an impressive track record of battling counterfeit software, CDs and movies. Its partners include the movie industry's local trade organisations, Dutch recording industry bodies, as well as the Association of Phonogram Retailers. All criminal investigations are carried out by the FIOD-ECD (Fiscal and Economic Crime Service), which operates under the supervision of a special unit of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service. Last year BREIN carried out over 6000 private investigations, most of them into the offer of illegal digital files on the internet. More than 200 illegal online dealers were closed down. By hunting individual file swappers, BREIN is following the lead of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), which recently started an unparalleled campaign to track down the identities of alleged file-swappers in the US. Some believe the threat is only intended as a deterrent. In recent months anti-piracy groups in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy have already attempted to bill file traders, but they are faced with strong opposition from ISPs who are worried they are being forced to police the Internet for illegal song copying. BREIN also largely depends on voluntary notice and take down procedures. In the future this may change. In June a majority of Euro MPs signed a declaration that calls for a more concerted action against alarming levels of piracy in the Member States. ®
Jan Libbenga, 12 Aug 2003

SiS samples integrated Athlon 400MHz FSB chipset

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Chipset SiS today unwrapped its latest 400MHz frontside bus chipset for AMD's Athlon XP, an integrated product based on the company's Real 256E graphics engine. The chipset, the SiS741, supports 400MHz DDR SDRAM, along with 266MHz and 333MHz memory. It offers an external AGP 8x graphics bus, but internally its graphics engine connects to main memory across SiS' Ultra AGP II bus, which boosts the throughput to 3.2GBps on a 400MHz DDR system, well above AGP 8x's 2.1GBps bandwidth. The chipset can support screen resolutions of up to 1600 x 1200. SiS calls the Real 256E a "high performance graphic engine" that "totally redefines the top-of-the-line graphic standard of the integrated chipsets". However, we note that it also points out that the engine is only compatible with DirectX 7 - two generations behind the current version - so we're not sure that the SiS741's graphics really can be said to be top of the line. The SiS741's SiS964 South Bridge provides dual-channel ATA-133 and two Serial ATA channels. The SiS964 also supports Multiple RAID modes, including RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD. It also offers eight USB2.0 ports, full 5.1 channel surround sound, 56Kbps modem and 10/100Mbps Ethernet. The SiS741 is currently being offering in sample quantities, with mass production to commence later this month. SiS expects mobos based on the chipset to ship in volume in September. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Slovenian hacker found shot dead

A Slovenian hacker who ran into legal conflict with one of the country's leading banks over an alleged security weakness was found dead last week. Police believe Robert Skulj, 28, killed himself with a shot to the head from a gun found at the scene. Skulj's body was found in his locked apartment in the city of Trzic last Friday. Last year, Skulj claimed he had found a serious security hole in an electronic business system called Klik used by Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), a bank in Slovenia. According to local reports, he entered into negotiation with NLB to sell a Trojan horse that exploited the flaw he had discovered - along with a security fix - to the bank for €500,000 ($568,050). NLB treated the approach as blackmail and brought charges against him last October. Slovenian police arrested Skulj and confiscated the technology he was offering to sell to the bank. Skulj was subsequently acquitted of any fraud by the Slovenian courts. He then sued the bank and the state of Slovenia for 200 million Slovenian Tolar (€850,000) for wrongful prosecution and the confiscation of his Trojan code. But before the case could be heard, Skulj apparently took his own life. His exact motives remain unclear but it is believed he was unable to cope with the stress of the court case brought against him and his own the follow-up action. ® Thanks to Reg reader Gregor Papez for informing us about this story.
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2003

Microsoft expands Mac Office line with x86 emulator

Microsoft has re-released the Mac OS X version of Office and its component applications, cutting prices and throwing in a copy of VirtualPC x86 CPU emulation software into the bargain. Office v.X, as the Mac release is styled, now comes in four varieties: Standard, Professional, Student and Teacher. The last two will both retail for £120 in the UK ($149 in the US) and are aimed at the education market, as their names suggest. Curiously, US reports suggest Microsoft isn't seeking a formal statement that the buyer is either a student or an education professional, so it's hard to see why anyone will splash out for the £369/$399 Standard edition, even if it is £60 cheaper than it was last week. The Professional edition, like Student and Teacher, is a new addition to the Office family. The £470/$499 package bundles Virtual PC 6.1 and a copy of Windows XP Pro to go with it. Microsoft acquired Virtual PC from its developer, Connectix, earlier this year. Essentially, Microsoft wanted the technology, which it's using to develop virtual server solutions. Its Mac Business Unit will continue to develop the client versions, which Connectix will sell on its behalf. The MBU is currently working on the next major release of Mac Office, presumably derived from Office 2003, which is due to ship for Windows in September or October. Work on Office goes on despite the end of the five-year agreement Apple struck with Microsoft in 1998. The end of that deal recently resulted in the MBU's decision not to continue updating Internet Explorer. Since Microsoft was committed to giving IE away for free, and the MBU is a commercial operation, that decision makes sense, particularly since Apple launched a free browser of its own. Safari may not be as compatible with as many web sites as IE, but there's no doubt it's a better app. Apple is also be said to be preparing productivity applications to match those in Office. It has already shipped Keynote, a presentation tool, and since it did, Microsoft seems to have renewed its interest in Office, having previously complained about v.X's poor reception. Version v.X was always going to fare less well than previous releases, since it targeted Mac OS X exclusively at a time when many Office users had yet to migrate from Mac OS 9. With that migration process now running more smoothly, largely thanks to Mac OS X 10.2, Office v.X sales have presumably picked up and, according to Microsoft, has met its sales expectations. Past upgrades to the Office v.X have centred on security and bux fixes. However, its email component, Entourage, was recently updated to provide connectivity with Microsoft Exchange servers. The new version of Entourage and the other Office apps, all at version 10.1.4, will be included in the new releases. All the new versions will be available in the UK early next month. They will be released in the US on 18 August. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Cypress ships low-cost wireless USB system

Chip maker Cypress has begun offering a wireless version of USB in a bid to pull the rug from under the feet of Bluetooth. Cypress' WirelessUSB product is a $2.20 system-on-a-chip part that delivers USB 1.1 connectivity through the same 2.4GHz band that Bluetooth and 802.11b operate in. By designing the system around typical USB 1.1 applications: low-bandwidth peripherals connected to a host computer with a short cable, Cypress has been able to narrow the chip's throughput requirements to 62.5kbps. That, in turn, has allowed it to offer WirelessUSB rather more cheaply than Bluetooth, the chief wireless alternative to printer cables. Unlike Bluetooth, WirelessUSB provides a high level compatibility with existing USB human interface device software stacks, making it easier for peripheral and PC developers to roll out the technology. Cypress is primarily targeting keyboard, mouse and game controller makers, but it's not hard to see the technology being extended to other roles, such as wireless printing, where Bluetooth has had relatively little success. As it stands, WirelessUSB isn't much use for some of other Bluetooth applications, most notable digicam picture transfers and PDA synchronisation, largely because these all demand more bandwidth than WirelessUSB can supply. Sync'ing a PDA using Bluetooth is slower than using a USB cable, but not enough to outweigh the benefit of eliminating cables. We're not sure the same is true of WirelessUSB. Bluetooth also has momentum. There's a long way to go before Bluetooth could be said to eliminate the need for cables altogether - OS support isn't great (it's there, but not all the options are supported - try printing from the supposedly Bluetooth-friendly Mac OS X, for example) and plenty of peripherals have yet to integrate Bluetooth, particularly cheaper ones. Price is the issue here, with Bluetooth chips costs under $5. Two-way WirelessUSB parts cost $2.20 now, but Cypress expects that to fall to under $1 over the next few years. At that price, peripherals vendors may well be tempted to go down the wireless USB route rather than choose Bluetooth. Though as with the other wireless technologies, getting it inside host computers, rather than dongling it on, is essential for real success. In addition to the two-way part, Cypress is shipping a $1.95 transmit-only device. Both devices have a typical standby current of one microamp, which should improve devices battery lives. WirelessUSB incorporates a unique DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) coding scheme to ensure "robust" operation in the presence of 802.11 and Bluetooth networks. It also enables WirelessUSB to support thousands of devices in close proximity, Cypress said. In separate Bluetooth news, Cambridge Silicon Radio said it has added an HID proxy capability to its BlueCore chipset. The upshot: a Bluetooth-connected mouse or keyboard can be used while the host system is booting up and before the OS has loaded. Essentially, the software necessary to allow keyboard and mouse connections runs on the chipset, which presents itself to the host as an emulated USB device. That means the BIOS will recognise them, in turn allowing users to change BIOS settings or boot into 'safe' mode, something they'd otherwise need a wired keyboard to do. When the OS loads, the chipset switches out of USB emulation mode and can operate as a regular Bluetooth device. ®
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

NTL boss Knapp quits

NTL boss Barclay Knapp is to quit his job after claiming that his work bringing the cableco through its recent reorganisation is now complete. Although he will step down formally on Friday, to be replaced by COO Simon Duffy, the NTL chief exec will continue working at the company until the end of the year. He will advise on strategy. In a statement, Knapp said: "With this quarter's positive results and the favourable conditions I see ahead for NTL, I believe my mission in bringing NTL through its reorganisation has been accomplished. "I want to again thank all of our customers, suppliers, stakeholders and most of all - our associates [that's NTL speak for employees] - for not only another quarter of great results, but also a whole decade of wonderful experiences and personal growth for me," he said. Of course, the idea that the last decade was full of "wonderful experiences" may jar with some industry watchers following the company's recent "turbulence" such as Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, job losses, etc. According to a leaked Knapp memo last year: "When the telecoms markets first nose-dived back in 2000, I likened the experience to having a window blow on a jetliner at 25,000 feet." "Although it's controllable, you have to almost crash-dive the plane to below 10,000 feet so that at least you can keep breathing. And because of the steps we've taken, even though we've flown through a heck of a lot of turbulence, we're still breathing and the plane's still in one piece. The same can't be said for some of our competitors," said Knapp. News of Knapp's departure coincided with cableco's Q2 results to the end of June, which saw revenues slightly up on last year at £551.3 million ($886.82 million). Net loss for the quarter ran in at £159 million ($255.77 million) - down 38 per cent compared to Q2 last year - thanks to improve profit and reduced interest payments. NTL managed to attract a further 103,300 broadband punters over the quarter bringing the total number of high speed Net access customers to 764,200. As of 3 August, the cableco had more than 802,000 broadband customers, the company reported today. ® Related Story NTL was jetliner in power dive, says leaked memo
Tim Richardson, 12 Aug 2003

T-Online buoyed by broadband

The continued take-up of broadband and helped Europe's largest ISP, T-Online, to post better-than-expected results today. Publishing numbers for the first half of the year, T-Online reported that income before taxes was €23 million ($26.13 million), compared with a loss of €130 million ($147.69 million) in the first six months of 2002. Revenues increased from €731 million ($830.49 million) in H1 2002 to €894 million ($1.02 billion) - up around 22 per cent on the same period last year. Part of this improvement is down to increased proportion of broadband customers (from 24 per cent in Q1 to 25 per cent in Q2) signing up for higher speed Net access. T-Online has 3.01 million broadband customers compared to 2.19 million at the same time last year, an increase of 27 per cent. In Germany, broadband punters make up around three in ten of its customers, the company said in a statement. ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Aug 2003

IBM: warming Dell customers

IBM has announced that it is throwing a "lifeline" to Dell customers in the high-end server market. Dell announced a few weeks ago that it did not intend to come to market with an eight-way Pentium 4 Xeon MP server that it was working on in conjunction with Intel, and now IBM is trying to make hay from that announcement. However, by concentrating on its work with Oracle on RAC, Dell's strategy is not wrong, it is just different to IBM's approach. Under a new marketing campaign internally known as "Dell on Ice", hundreds of IBMers will be attacking the Dell customer base to try to win sales for IBM's own "Summit" xSeries 440 and xSeries 445 servers. While it is easy to take pot shots at Dell for not having eight-way or larger machines, Dell's strategy of working closely with Oracle on Real Application Clusters (RAC) for Oracle9i is sound. IBM itself has endorsed exactly the same approach with its DB2 Integrated Clustering Environment (DB2 ICE) clustering technology, which can gang up hundreds of nodes based on two-way or four-way (or larger) servers into one giant, resilient virtual database server. IBM has not been very big on pushing Oracle RAC, unlike Dell and Hewlett Packard, but its Global Services team will sell whatever customers want to buy, this much is certain. The fact of the matter is that some customers want to throw hardware at their problems, and they don't want to learn a new trick, at least not today. For them, a big SMP box is the best answer. The other thing to remember is that IBM has spent beaucoup bucks on designing and manufacturing the Summit machines, and if it can give its sales force a story to tell that makes it look like it has an edge over Dell, IBM is going to tell that story. IBM has to push big boxes as much as clusters because that is what it has on the truck. This doesn't make Dell wrong so much as different from IBM. Finally, with virtual partitioning software from VMware available for Windows and Linux platforms and soon from Microsoft for Windows platforms, even a four-way Gallatin box with lots of memory can be partitioned up into plenty of slices for server consolidation. Dell is going to be able to make some hay here, too, even if it does not have an eight-way or larger box. Related research Datamonitor, The IBM Corporation: Firmly on top of the IT mountain (RBTC0058) Source Computerwire/Datamonitor Copyright © 2003, Offer Datamonitor is offering Reg readers some of its technology research for free. Check it out here.
Datamonitor, 12 Aug 2003

AOL Time Warner must drop AOL name, says AOL

AOL - the Internet division of AOL Time Warner - has asked its parent company to ditch its name from the corporation's title. In a memo to employees yesterday, AOL boss Jon Miller said that "AOL's brand would benefit from being removed from the corporate name". The matter is currently up for discussion although there's no indication as yet when such a move might be implemented. He also insisted that he asked for the change off his own back and that it was not a response to pressure from the AOL TW. Miller argues that since the merger in early 2001, "the three letters AOL have ceased to stand for the Internet and the promise it entails, and instead have become the shorthand for the world's largest media company". He believes the use of "AOL" as shorthand for AOL TW and its Internet division is confusing and that "any controversy or criticism involving the corporate entity has actually hit our consumer brand". "I believe it's time for us to get our brand back," said Miller before adding that such a move would give the media "yet another opportunity to write negatively about the merger of AOL and Time Warner". Whatever can he mean? ®
Tim Richardson, 12 Aug 2003

Samsung plots Ultra-wideband WLAN future

Samsung is to develop wireless connectivity products based on Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, the South Korean chip maker said today. Co-operating on the project is US-based Staccato Communications, which will provide the UWB know-how. Samsung's contribution is its semiconductor development expertise and facilities, not to mention its consumer electronics and PC manufacturing clout. The products the pair intend to come up with will target high-speed applications. They are aiming at offering 480Mbps data rates - perhaps not coincidentally the same throughput as USB 2.0. The first UWB chipsets the two offer will support the IEEE 802.15.3a specification. IEEE 802.15.3a is an extension to the IEEE 802.15.3 draft standard for a high-speed wireless personal area network (WPAN) physical layer. The IEEE task group charged with defining 802.15.3a is currently weighing up a number of proposed specifications, many of which centre on using UWB. Once determined and, ultimately, ratified by the IEEE, 802.15.3a will provide the basis for home multimedia networks. For example, the WiMedia Alliance, of which Samsung is a member, is working to develop the Protocol Abstraction Layer (PAL) to allow 1394 traffic to operate across an 802.15.3a link. UWB radio is about transmitting digital data over a wide range of frequencies at very low power. Pulses of very short duration (typically less than a few trillionths of a second) are broadcast simultaneous across the frequency range. One upshot is the ability to beam signals through physical obstructions that tend to hamper more frequency-limited wireless technologies. Because the pulse are so short, they are far less likely to interfere with other broadcast communications. By spreading the pulses across the spectrum, you can deliver extremely high data transfer rates - think of the higher speeds offered by older parallel buses over serial buses. The wireless equivalents of those serial links are traditional, narrow-channel radio wave communications, such as those used by 802.11. Shortening the pulse duration increases the bandwidth too. ® Related Story Team targets 802.15.3 for wireless video networks
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Michigan law chief slams ‘bogus’ anti- spam group

Remove.org, the "Do Not Spam" list outfit that has been accused of making false claims about its offering and even spamming people itself, has been warned by the Michigan Attorney General to buck up its act. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox yesterday issued a legal notice to Remove.org warning the company that it faces a potential lawsuit under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act for deceptively marketing its supposedly anti-spam service to consumers. Cox criticised the organisation for making illegitimate claims that it was "a complete service offering protection from spam email, junk mail, and telemarketers". The Attorney General takes issues with a number of other claims made by Remove.org on its web site, including calling itself a non-profit organisation; promising to stop all spam and telemarketing; related claims that the outfit would "protect children against adult material" and claiming it has offices in Washington DC - when the address it gives is only a private mailbox. Remove.org claims that it offers more protection than the federal government's Do-Not-Call list, because Remove.org will contact "the companies not covered by the National Do-Not-Call Registry and have your phone number removed from their lists", also provoked the ire of Michigan law officers. In a hard-hitting statement, Cox said: "This organisation's Web site is decorated with the American flag and the Statue of Liberty, yet there are few more un-American practices than lying to the public about being a charity recognised by the IRS. Remove.org's blatant deception is a slap in the face of the many legitimate charities that take pains to comply with state and federal charity laws. "The representations this company makes about its service are outrageous. The boastful claim that consumers will see 'no more annoying and offensive spam' is itself offensive. "Spammers who send pornographic images and deceive consumers for the purpose of obtaining their personal information are not likely to change their ways merely because a consumer has paid ten dollars to become a 'member' of this bogus charity," he added. Remove.org has ten days to contact Cox's office to explain its practices. Unless an agreement is reached with the company, the Attorney General will be authorized to file a lawsuit under the MCPA, which provides for restitution to consumers and/or damages, in addition civil penalties of up to $25,000. Why Do Not Spam lists are a bad idea Respected spam fighters Spamhaus describe Remove.org as a scam run by spammers. Spamhaus has published a detailed critique of Spam removal lists describing them as "at best a scam and at worst a 'live address' confirmation system for the spammer". We weren't aware of this critique when we wrote last Friday in only mildly sceptical terms about plans from Do Not Spam list firm Global Removal and spam filtering company DAIR Computer Systems to offer a reciprocal discount scheme. We apologise for not being more critical. Although backed by some members of Congress (eg. Senator Charles Schumer), we're increasingly coming to see the whole Do Not Spam list concept as fundamentally misconceived. In the fight against spam these lists probably do more harm than good, it would seem. ® Related Stories Do Not Spam list and filtering firms join hands US anti-spam laws 'will legalise spam' EU regulations to control web cookies Spammers break law with covert tracking Spam clients outed, credit card details published We've found the perfect solution to spam: Mark takes the stand We've found the perfect solution to spam
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2003

Mitac smartphone to hit Europe next month

The first mobile phone based on the reference design worked up by Intel and Microsoft is set to arrive in Europe by the end of September, the handset's vendor, Mitac, has revealed. Mitac's phone, branded the Mio 8380, runs Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 operating system on a 200MHz Intel PXA255 processor backed by 16MB of PC100 SDRAM. The clamshell case contains a 2.2in, 16-bit colour, 176 x 220 transflective TFT screen. There's also a 64 x 48 subsidiary mono LCD that displays phone status information. The 143g phone features an integrated 110,000-pixel digicam plus an SD card slot for memory expansion. The 8380's radio supports GSM and GPRS communications at 900, 1800 and 1900MHz. Mitac claims the Mio's rechargeable Li-polymer battery yields two-three hours' talk time - 100 hours on standby. The Mio 8380 was launched in Taiwan back in June. At the time, it gave no date for broad roll-outs. However, Mitac's Mio web site is now saying the device will ship in Europe at the end of Q3. At the same time, it is believed, the company will launch a second smartphone in the Far East, followed by its third such handset toward the end of Q4. Mitac has said that it's not restricting itself to Microsoft's smartphone OS, and may evaluate operating systems from other vendors. So there's no guarantee its other smartphones will be based on the Windows Mobile variant. ® Related Story Microsoft wins Motorola
Tony Smith, 12 Aug 2003

Two-in-one ID theft, fee fraud scam debuts

UpdatedUpdated Scam artists who dupe users into revealing sensitive financial information have applied the social engineering tricks of 419-fraudsters in a new email scam. Reg readers forwarded us copies of an email they received this morning, purporting to come from US-based e-payment company Swiftpay International (Swiftpay.us), which informs targeted individuals that they have 'won a prize'. Like numerous scams before it, Swiftpay.us tries to trick users into thinking it is a legitimate firm - in this case Swiftpay.com. In the scam email, punters are told an administrative fee has been deducted from the supposed goodies (sounds familiar) they are been offered. It's implied that further fees will be taken off anyone who fails to enter their debit card details to receive the non-existent money. By mid-afternoon (in Europe) the site had been pulled. "Unlike most spams, this is not just annoying, it seems to be a fairly sophisticated attempt at identity theft," writes one Reg reader who'd received the email. Indeed, the scam seems to combine advanced fee fraud tactics with a ruse designed to get people to hand over their financial information. The email (copy below) first tells its target that they have a $976.40 payment waiting to be deposited in their bank account, but to receive the money they first need to be signed up as an account holder with Swiftpay. As an added incentive, it is claimed that they've deducted $23.40 from the account already. "Following the URL they provide leads to http://www.swiftpay.us/signup/ which is a quite sophisticated and realistic-looking website for a PayPal-style company," our correspondent said. "The first page of the signup process requests details such as name and address, date of birth, Social Security Number and mother's maiden name. Further pages ask for a bank account number, credit card details (including the 3-digit security code from the back of the card), and ATM PIN number," he added. The scam is nothing if not ambitious. Our correspondent (who was shrewd enough not to be taken in by the scam) adds that despite what it claims on the Web site, none of this info would be sent over a secure connection. "This (to me) appears to be a simple case of attempted identity theft, although it's been very well executed and made to look very realistic," he adds. We quizzed a couple of scam experts, Andrew Goodwill of Early Warning and Graham Cluley of Sophos, which maintains a database on hoax emails. Both said if something looks too good to be true then it normally is. Users should be wary of strangers offering them money out of the blue for no particular reason, a hallmark of email scams. ® From: support@swiftpay.us To: Subject: Transaction#: 218-185-15792 Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003 02:01:52 +0000 (GMT) Userktdinc just send $976.60 USD to you: SwiftPay UserID: ktdinc Transaction#:218-185-15792 Date: 12-08-2003 Comments: Membership #0218397 was selected to receive this month's bonus. We cannot send funds directly to your debit card's bank account because our merchant currently disabled this option. If you use your Lloyds TSB debit card, SwiftPay will not charge your card for the transfer, this is due to current promotion; we already deducted $23.40 from your funds for the service fees. Your E-mail is not registered with SwiftPay. In order to receive your funds you need to apply for account with us and verify your identity. All information will be kept confidential. Please follow the link: http://www.swiftpay.us/signup/ When you enter our service your funds will appear in your account balance under overview page. You can withdraw the outstanding balance to your debit card account that you added during the registration process. SwiftPay's intuitive interface makes sending and receiving money over the Web as easy as one two three. Simply logon at SwiftPay and select which SwiftPay service you wish to avail of, whether it's to fund your account, send money to friends family or businesses, request money or check your account details. With everything you need available at the click of a mouse, paying with SwiftPay couldn't be easier. Don't forget, we value our commitment to Customer Service at SwiftPay - should you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact us andd we'll do our best to answer your query as soon as possible. Kind Regards, SwiftPay Customer Support Related Stories You've got Scam! ID harvest scam targets AOL users Email scammers target Nochex users Email scam aims to swipe PayPal users' credit card details Amsterdam: home of the 419 lottery scam PC builder takes 419ers for £171
John Leyden, 12 Aug 2003

Court tells RIAA to take subpoenas somewhere else

The race is on between file-traders and the RIAA's lawyers to see who can do more damage to the music labels' bottom line. As of Friday, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) legal team has captured a comfortable lead in this contest. A Massachusetts court has sided with two universities, ruling that the RIAA cannot run a centralized subpoena sweatshop from Washington D.C. and expect to attack all 50 states. The court has called on the RIAA to file subpoenas against file-traders in their respective jurisdictions. This ruling must sting the RIAA. The music label mob may well have to go back and re-file thousands of subpoenas - a costly, time-consuming process. "Today's ruling requires the recording industry to file subpoenas where it alleges that copyright infringement occurs, rather than blanketing the country from one court in D.C.," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer, in a statement. "The court ruling confirms that due process applies to Internet user privacy nationwide." MIT and Boston College had taken a stand against the RIAA, looking to protect their students' privacy and make sure proper legal process was being followed. This is a refreshing stance compared to other schools such as Loyola University Chicago that were all too eager to hand over their students' names. With more and more challenges popping up against them, the RIAA's lawyers are starting to look about as competent as the organization's hosting company. ®
Ashlee Vance, 12 Aug 2003