13th > August > 2003 Archive

Saudi firm accuses Lucent of bribery

A Saudi Arabian telecommunications group last week filed a lawsuit accusing Lucent of bribing a high-ranking government official to gain business in the Middle Eastern kingdom. In a lawsuit filed in the New York District Court on Friday, the National Group for Communications and Computers alleges that Lucent and Swiss company ACEC lavished a former Saudi minister with bribes worth an estimated $15 million between 1995 and 2002. Ali Al-Johani, a former minister of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Post Telephone and Telegraph, received cash payments, medical expenses, hotel accommodation and free use of private jets in return for pushing the government-controlled Saudi Telecom Company to select equipment supplied by Lucent and ACEC, the suit alleges. As minister, Al-Johani served as chairman of the Saudi Telecom Company over the period on question. National Group further alleges that it suffered damages if $63 million when the minister intervened to allow Lucent to back out of a contract with the Saudi firm. National Group is seeking triple damages against Lucent under US racketeering laws. Lucent has denied the charges against it, describing National Group's lawsuit as meritless. It has pledged to defend itself against the charges. Meanwhile, ACEC is reportedly under investigation by the Swiss government. The curse of Murray Hill After a protracted period of restructuring, which saw the loss of tens of thousands of jobs during the ongoing telecoms slump, Lucent was beginning to show signs of turning its business around and putting a difficult three years behind it. Lucent has an outstanding track record for innovation but a series of poor business decisions and a long string of damaging incidents have brought what was (at least in 2000) a thriving business to relative penury. Securities and Exchange Commission accounting probes and allegations that workers had sold hi-tech secrets to the Chinese have turned Lucent, a former darling of Wall Street, into a tragi-comedy figure. These were followed by rows with its pensioners and shareholders. To its credit, Lucent has somehow managed to navigate its way through these perilous waters. Now, just when it looked like things were on the mend, along comes another banana skin. ® Related Stories Lucent wins $1bn Sprint gig, splashes more red ink Lucent workers busted for inside tech swindle Lucent to probe conduct of dead employee SEC probes Lucent accounting practice Lucent slashes 7,000 jobs Lucent to cut another 15,000 to 20,000 jobs Lucent to restate sales and cut 10,000 (full-time) jobs
John Leyden, 13 Aug 2003

Gateway shelves own-brand PDA release

Gateway has withdrawn from the PDA business - for now, at least. The PC vendor yesterday said it had delayed the release of its 100X Pocket PC indefinitely and at the very least not until 2004. The move follows an earlier pause. Originally planned to ship in July, Gateway put the machine's debut back a month to allow for further product testing. Around that time, it emerged that Dell's Axim x5 Pocket PC had problems running the Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs operating system, and it's possible that that issue motivated Gateway to hold fire on its own device, which was to have been based on the same OS. Whatever the reason for the original delay, Gateway now believes it has "missed our launch window", according to a spokesperson cited by Cnet. The reason: the need for even more testing, apparently. The extra work would involve putting the release back to a point that would seriously affect its sales prospects in the US Thanksgiving/Christmas period. According to the spokesperson, the 100X may yet be released sometime next year. The device was expected to sport a 400MHz Intel PXA255 processor, backed by 64MB of RAM, 32MB of ROM and a 3.5in transflective screen. The 100X is thought to have SD card and CompactFlash slots, and retail for $300-350. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

Thieves snatch £1m phone, Xbox stash

More than a million pounds' worth of mobile phones and games consoles were nicked from a lorry parked outside a Carphone Warehouse store near Birmingham early on Monday morning. Thieves got away with more than 7,000 Nokia mobile phones - including 6310is, 5100s and 3410s - with a trade value £781,000 ($1.25 million). Also among the haul was more than 1000 Xbox consoles worth around £130,000 ($208,330). A Nokia spokesman told us: "A vehicle belonging to a secure delivery company was robbed on the morning of the 11 August while on route to the Carphone Warehouse. "We can confirm that there were goods belonging to Nokia and other companies on this vehicle. While police continue with their inquiries we cannot give any further details at this stage," he said. Police have confirmed that all the phones have been disabled and warned anyone offered a cheap mobile to be on their guard. Officers are currently investigating the crime and have urged anyone with any information to come forward. DI Carl Southwick from West Bromwich police said: "Police want to trace a white man aged in his early 30s, 5' 8'' with blond hair, clean shaven and with a beer belly, wearing a light grey hooded top - he was seen near to the lorry when it was stolen." A "substantial" reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 2003

Iomega to re-enter removable hard drive biz

Iomega is getting back into the removable hard drive market, years after relegating its Jaz drive to its legacy product file. The new release, as-yet unbranded and known for now as the Removable Rigid Disk (RRD) system, will offer 35GB per disk. Each 2.5in disk is housed in a cartridge "smaller than a deck of playing cards", Iomega claims. The RRD drive will fit into a standard 3.5in bay, the company said. Iomega will pitch the system at back-up applications, particularly as an alternative to tape back-up systems. The company reckons its system will be cheaper to run that tape, offer better data fidelity and faster back-up times. Iomega claims a 20GB system image would take ten minutes to back up, but we'd note that copying in images isn't the same thing as backing up a working drive, and that Iomega's figure assumes the user has data compression turned on. The company cites maximum transfer rate of 22MBps, rising to 44MBps with 2:1 compression. Iomega doesn't explicitly say so, but we assume that the compression option is built in, as it is with many tape-based systems. Unlike Jaz and earlier removable HDD set-ups, the drive motor is built into the RRD cartridge rather than the drive unit itself. That leads to fewer opportunities for dust contamination - the removable drive's key bugbear - and thus improved data reliability. Reliability will be key to take-up of the RRD. Removable HDD systems have a patchy record on mid- to long-term data integrity, as anyone who's ever tried to pull old files off even six-month-old SyQuest cartridges will recall. Iomega bought SyQuest's assets after that company collapsed in the late 1990s, don't forget. Jaz had a better record, but was pitched as a personal back-up system, and this at users assumed to be less intolerant of occasional errors. Not so the business and enterprise markets Iomega plans to tout RRD to. The RRD is being evaluated by a number of potential OEMs, Iomega said, who will, it hopes, build its drives into their PCs and servers. The drive is expected to come to market early next year. The RRD announcement, like the earlier 1.5GB micro drive launch last month, shows Iomega is moving out of the problems it has experienced over the last four or five years, as demand for its Zip, Jaz and Clik products slumped, partly on the back of poor product innovation but mostly because PC hard drive capacities have ballooned to the point where most users no longer need archival storage systems. Iomega's recovery strategy has to date centred on leveraging its brand while delivering standard products and established formats, such as CD-RW drives and external HDDs. Clearly, it now believes the time has come to go on the innovation offensive once again. ® Related Story Iomega touts 1.5GB micro drive as Flash killer
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

Intel launches mainstream 800MHz FSB chipset

Intel this week released its single-channel DDR, 800MHz effective bit rate frontside bus chipset, as anticipated. The i848P chipsets sits between the single-channel i845 chipset family and the dual-channel i865 series. In addition to supporting 400MHz DDR SDRAM and the higher Pentium 4 FSB speed, the new chipset supports AGP 8x, a feature missing from the i845 line. Unlike the i845 family, the new chipset uses the ICH5 family of South Bridge chips (the older chipsets are based on ICH4), which supports Serial ATA with RAID, ATA-100, six-channel audio, USB 2.0 support and gigabit Ethernet. The chipset represents Intel's attempt to pitch the 800MHz FSB at the mainstream - its i865 and i875 parts are primarily aimed at the high-end of the desktop market, with the latter edging into the workstation and low-end server arena thanks to its ECC memory support. The i848P is priced at $31, we hear, well above the i845PE's $23 price-tag. Boards based on the i848P are expected to arrive mid-September. ® Selected Intel Pentium 4 Chipsets Chipset Max. FSB clock Max. DDR clock DDR channels AGP i865PE 800MHz 400MHz 2 8x i865P 533MHz 333MHz 2 8x i848P 800MHz 400MHz 1 8x i845PE 533MHz 333MHz 1 4x i845P 533MHz 266MHz 1 4x
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

BT wilts in the heat

BT has admitted that some of its leased-line customers may have suffered problems recently due to the UK's record-breaking heatwave. One reader told us how his connection began wilting as temperatures in the UK touched 100°F. And when he contacted BT he was told: "It was due to the heat." A BT spokesman told us: "The air conditioning and cooling systems in exchanges have been working flat out in the heat." Even so, he confirmed that there had been some "leased-line outages" reported but explained that it was not a widespread problem. ® Related Story UK heatwave strains servers
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 2003
DVD it in many colours

Nortel faces $30-40m restructuring charge

Nortel Networks plans to take a hit of between $30 million and $40 million in restructuring charges this year, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week. The news spells signals more misery ahead for workers at the struggling telecoms and network equipment firm, who have seen their numbers dwindle from 95,000 down to around 36,000 at the end of Q2 2003. Nortel has been forced to cut its workforce by two-thirds and restructure its business because of the slump in telecoms equipment sales that has hit the Canadian vendor particularly hard. A Nortel spokeswoman told Reuters that the charge is to cover its previously announced restructuring which is "substantially completed". The SEC documents show Nortel's margins remain under pressure. Its gross margin, which stood at 43.7 per cent of sales at the end of Q2 is expected to stay "in the low 40 per cent range for the remainder of 2003". At the end of July, Nortel reported a net loss of $14 million (Q2 2002: $697 million loss) on declining Q2 sales of $2.33 billion (Q2 2002: $2.77 billion). It took a $5 million restructuring charge for the quarter. Nortel declined to provide any specific future revenue or earnings guidance in announcing its Q2 results. ® Related Stories Nortel in network security product blitz Nortel leapfrogs Cisco in VoIP sales Nortel Networks stems red ink War hits beleaguered networking sector
John Leyden, 13 Aug 2003

Sun touts network identity systems

When Stephen Pelletier, Sun Microsystems' VP of SunONE Network Identity, Communications and Portal products said recently that "a secure identity management infrastructure is a core foundation component to building the next generation of federated commercial Web services and is essential to managing the lifecycle of an identity - whether it be a person, community, device or service", he wasn't saying much different from anyone else who get excited about the potential of Web services, writes John McIntosh of Bloor Research. What was interesting about his comment was all the ammunition with which he backed it up. Aside from the obvious Liberty Alliance programme, Sun's Network Identity armoury is very well equipped. Sun recently announced the latest versions of its portfolio of scalable, high-performance identity management products for Web services. These new products include the Sun ONE Directory Server 5.2, the Sun ONE Directory Proxy Server 5.2, the Sun ONE Directory Server Resource Kit 5.2, the Sun ONE Meta-Directory 5.1, the Sun ONE Identity Synchronization for Windows 1.0 and the Sun ONE Identity Server 6.0, Service Pack 1.0. The Company states that these products will include support for the Liberty Alliance Identity Web Services Framework and OASIS Web Services Security (WS-Security) standards early next year. Sun is determined to be the leader in delivering solutions for federated network identity, but it has fierce competition from both Microsoft and IBM, as well as Novell's NSure. There are two core components of Sun's Network Identity offering. The first is the Sun ONE Identity Server 6.0 software is a standards-based product designed to help organisations manage secure access to Web and non Web-based applications both on the intranet and extranet. Identity Server 6.0 supports both SAML and Liberty protocols and Sun recently announced the Sun Solution for Network Identity, a pre-configured federated network identity solution specifically designed to help customers install their core identity management infrastructure quickly and efficiently. The second component is the Sun ONE Directory Server is one of the most successful LDAP directory solutions with close to 2 Billion licenses sold. Sun ONE Directory Server enables the deployment of more cost-efficient and consistent security services by acting as the central authentication resource across all applications and devices. Sun describes Network Identity as the fusion of network security and authentication, user provisioning and customer management, single sign-on technologies, and Web services delivery. Sun ONE Network Identity offers a comprehensive, integrated enterprise-scale solution that combines software, systems, storage, and consulting services to enable Web single sign-on, policy driven role-based access to applications and services and integrated user/identity management. Network Identity also addresses the need for consolidation of authentication, authorization, and management in a federated environment. ® Copyright © 2003, IT Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 13 Aug 2003

300mm wafers set to rise 10% in Q4

Here's a further sign that the chip business is moving into recovery: prices are going up. Specifically, the prices of 300mm blank wafers are rising, and are expected to be around ten per cent higher during Q4 than they are now, Taiwanese wafer manufacturers have said, DigiTimes reports. The rise is all down to demand outstripping supply - an indicator of a growing market. During the downturn, wafer makers cut their output as demand fell. Chip makers now want to buy more wafers than wafer producers can supply, forcing the latter to up prices until they can expand their own capacity to meet today's higher levels of demand. 300mm wafer production capacity, at least in Taiwan, is expected to increase by 50 per cent by the fourth quarter over its level during the first half of the year. That increase is being driven by capacity expansion programmes at the major chip foundries and memory makers, in turn on the back of expanding orders from hardware manufacturers. It should be noted that not all wafer makers are so enthusiastic. DigiTimes notes that unlike Taiwan's Taisil Electronic Materials and Shin-Etsu Handotai, Japan-based Komatsu Electronic Metals and US-based MEMC are taking a more cautious approach. In any case, wafer production capacity will likely remain constrained for the rest of the year at least. But the trend does lend weight to the various forecasts that while chip industry growth this year will be shallow, 2004 is going to perform rather better. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

PC World to flog D-Link Wi-Fi, home LAN kit

Networking firm D-Link today announced a retail partnership with the Dixons Group to sell a range of the manufacturer's broadband and wireless networking kit throughout the PC World chain. The partnership will see all 125 PC World stores in the UK selling D-Link products. From August onwards, PC World will stock D-Link's AirPlus XtremeG 802.11g wireless range, including the DI-624 Router, DWL-2000AP Access Point, DWL-G650 Cardbus Adapter and DWL-G520 PCI Adapter. The chain will also stock the DSL-604+ ADSL Router with Wireless LAN Access and built-in four-port Switch. PC World said it was fleshing out its home networking portfolio in anticipation of growth ahead in the segment. D-Link described the partnership with Dixons as a "major coup" despite the fact D-Link products have been readily available from retailers in technology retail hot-spots like London's Tottenham Court Road for some time. Said Tahira Perveen, Sales Manager, D-Link, UK and Ireland. "The agreement will certainly drive the D-Link brand further into the consumer arena." The agreement with PC World is the latest announcement in a concerted effort by D-Link to execute its retail strategy, ensuring its products become more accessible to consumers. D-Link recently announced similar partnerships with major retailers Maplin and John Lewis. ® Related Stories ATI unveils All-in-Wonder 9600 Pro (mentions D-Link WiFi kit) Vendors in Wireless G upgrade scramble WLAN goes gangbusters
John Leyden, 13 Aug 2003

FutureMark seeks accord on driver ‘optimisations’

FutureMark will soon say just how far graphics chip companies can go to optimise their drivers to improve their 3DMark scores. The move follows the fight between the benchmark company and Nvidia earlier this year. Having tweaked its drivers to improve 3DMark scores - widely believed to be at the expense of image quality - Nvidia was accused by FutureMark of cheating. FutureMark later retracted much of its initial criticism, stating that Nvidia has convinced it that the drivers weren't cheats but application-specific optimisations - a highly subtle distinction at best. At what point does an optimisation become a cheat? Presumably when the performance gain is made at the expense of some other desirable quality. Plenty of users certainly felt that Nvidia had stepped beyond that line with its driver tweaks. Nvidia, understandably, claimed it hadn't. FutureMark's guidelines are no doubt intended to answer that question, though when that answer will come, it isn't saying. "It's something in the works. We haven't finalised it yet," said Tero Sarkkinen, FutureMark's executive VP of sales and marketing in an interview with ExtremeTech. "When it's done we'll publish it." FutureMark is currently canvassing member companies for their views, including Nvidia, now it's a member of the 3DMark beta programme again, and its arch-rival, ATI. He added: "What we are hoping and pursuing here is that each and every player we hope will contribute to this draft and endorse it." That assumes a compromise can be found. It's not hard to envisage one or more companies deciding they don't like the majority view, and pulling out of the process altogether. We hope they're all mature enough to reach a decision they can all accept, but the graphics chip business is a highly competitive one - which is why so much fuss is made over the benchmarks - that we don't believe that reaching a compromise will be easy. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

Broadband take-up to spike

Increased dissatisfaction with sluggish dial-up Net access is likely to increase demand for broadband services. So says US-based research outfit - Parks Associates - which claims that the uptake up broadband is likely to spike over the coming months (following a dip in Q2) as more and more people satisfy their need for speed. Its survey of Net users found that only one in ten of dial-up users is "extremely satisfied" with their narrowband connection compared to two years ago, when three in ten Net users were chuffed to bits with their service. At the same time, half of those quizzed said they planned to hook up to a broadband connection at some point during the year. "When combined, these two factors suggest favourable demand for broadband in the next few quarters," said Park Associates' Michael Greeson. "Although little has changed in the substance and quality of narrowband service, dial-up subscribers are increasingly judging the quality of their connection based on the perception of what broadband has to offer," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 2003

Webloggers deal Harvard blog-bores a black eye

"Who is Dave Winer?" asks weblogger Atrios, echoing the concerns of dozens of mystified progressive and pro-Democrat bloggers this week. Atrios shouldn't worry. Winer is real. Winer is a software developer, but one very few software developers people have heard of: he developed "outlining" software for the Macintosh in the 1980s and claims co-authorship of a couple of obscure web protocols, which are too boring and unimportant to mention. Rightly or wrongly, he has a reputation for alienating people. Now let's see what the cheeky monkey has been up to. Along with best-selling political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, Atrios was "invited" to participate at a gabfest at Harvard's Berkman Law School called BloggerCon, to be held in October. Most recipients were flattered until they saw the price tag. Rather than being offered a speaker's fee, the spam actually asked the bloggers to cough up $500 each to attend. By contrast, the three-day long DefCon event costs just $75 and the excellent CodeCon conference, which also spans a long weekend, costs $95 (or $75 for students). Both are annual events, and bring together a high class international field of luminaries, and regularly make the news. Any bemusement soon turned to apoplexy when the bloggers saw Berkman's idea of a representative panel. The stars of the Left were being asked to stump up $500 to hear bete noire Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), a conservative Law Professor and author, and Berkman's own Jim Moore, a venture capitalist notorious for the Googlewashing episode, to whom we shall return to in a follow-up, such was the magnitude of his crime. All hell broke lose, and the blog-vendor lobby who patronise the people who in their dot.com terms, "provide the content" for their "blogosphere" (on which they are now claiming mining rights), got a real sharp repost. One minute these tools guys extol the grassroots as their validation for being important, and the next minute, they see them as a worm farm, to be harvested at leisure. Needless to say, bloggers weren't buying into this power relationship: "The only way I would attend such a conference is with 'a bottle in front of me or a frontal lobotomy'," wrote Dwight Meridith. "A convention for blogging is like a convention for... I dunno, handwriting. Or cassette tape recording," noted John Kusch, acidly. But John, techno-utopians can't understand that computers are simply tools, not artifacts that should be revered in their right. Teresa Nielsen Hayden explained how genuine grassroots conventions are organized, and asked: "Granted, some weblogs are more read and linked-to than others; but I literally can't think of anyone who'd be $500-a-head more pertinent, relevant, and valuable to the proceedings than some of the invitees who're being asked to ante up." Tom Tomorrow, whose is promoting his new book through his weblog - it's currently 23rd in the Amazon best-seller list - wasn't impressed. "But you know," he wrote, "even if Kos and Atrios were both attending - hell, even if the panels were moderated by naked supermodels flown in specially for the occasion - $500 to spend a weekend listening to people talk about blogging? Sweet Jesus. Give me the bathtub full of ice." But it was the choice that the self-appointed 'leaders' of the blog revolution made to appoint that really ranked: "I'm gonna pay $500 to listen to Instacracker and not insult him?" asked Steve Gilliard. Cartoonist August Pollak runs a blog to showcase his work, and he accurately describes the attendees of such jamborees: "Apologies to the 90% of the audience at this thing who will likely be reporters for magazines and websites, their fees paid by their respective editors to Find Out What The Kids Are Up To These Days, but I not only am not going to this thing, but publicly and pre-emptively pity anyone in that remaining 10% who would actually pay that much to do so." Like cream, quality rises to the top Atrios and Tomorrow don't get read by accident: they get read because they're really good. Pollak got some impassioned emails for defending the mediocrity, from lunatic blog-evangelists. But allow us, for a moment, some context. Cast your minds back to another 'revolution', the desktop-publishing era, when a combination of easy-to-use publishing software on cheap desktop computers, and low-cost laser printers, made it easy to publish newsletters and flyers for your community. The DTP era produced a deluge of bad design, aesthetic atrocities which were ridiculed by professional designers, but at no point did the tools vendors - Aldus, Adobe, Quark and Apple - treat this as a personal affront. This is what distinguishes today's tools vendors and their permaflunkies - a contingent of reporters, 'analysts' and marketeers who have unearthed a lucrative junket circuit by exploiting weblogging. Every attack on a lousy weblog is met with outrage. This terribly smacks of insecurity, and suggests they aren't concerned with quality as much as failing to discern volume. As if the solution to bad speech is lots more bad speech. August's eloquent reply is worth reproducing in detail: "If Blogger and MT and LiveJournal all dissolved into the ether tomorrow, I would still be a cartoonist. I would still be trying to do cartoons and animation, and I would still be trying to post news links and interesting things on my website. The only thing that would change would be the level of convenience. That's why I find the blogging paradigm overplayed. "The very purpose of blogging software is to increase the ability for as many people as possible to use it. The Internet is not exactly the best place to start creating private clubs for selective members - and then, of course, demanding fees for the privilege of hearing self-proclaimed 'masters of their trade' tell you how important they are it is. "The core element, to me, is still not the blogging software. It's that those people exist in the first place." Amen to that. But on what grounds does Dave Winer, backed up by a small circuit of adoring journalists and fellow webloggers, have to uphold his right to fleece them for real bucks? (Sometimes the journalists are weblog evangelists and HTML coders themselves, which raises all kinds of tantalising conflict-of-interest questions we shall return to in due course). It's real simple. It's a question of political economy (something we hope is still taught at Harvard University, if not the Berkman Center itself. 'Political Economy' isn't exactly in abundance at the Berkman website, although lots of dot.com-era buzzwords such as 'cyberspace' and 'meme' are plentiful.). So, is this obscure software tools-vendor worth two hoots, or are the real stars the galvanizing webloggers who have used his tools? Who, exactly, is getting famous off of who? Well, unlike the HTML coders who populate the blogging-about-blogging part of blogdom, these excellent, content-first webloggers spend little time congratulating themselves on their choice of medium. None of them use sticky weblog distractions (sorry, 'innovations!') such as Trackbacks, which cause so much grief for Google users. In fact, they spend most of their time writing well, rather than congratulating themselves for being "bloggers". The medium is not the message. Imagine how tedious newspapers would be if every other story proclaimed "We use INK!!!" The writers don't care, and the readers don't care, how this message was delivered: but readers do care about quality. Atrios and company are entitled to be offended at Berkman's choice of panel. But the worst is yet to come, and and we shall examine the credentials of Berkman's in-house "progressive" in some detail tomorrow. Folks, this isn't pretty. It's dirty work, but someone has got to do it. And it might even save you $500. ® Related Stories Most bloggers 'are teenage girls' - survey Wi-Fi toting bloggers invade Parliament Blog noise is 'life or death' for Google Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed... in 42 days
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Aug 2003

Bhutan plans first unattended phone booths

Bhutan has belatedly joined the 20th Century telecoms revolution with plans to install the remote Himalayan kingdom's first unattended public phone booths. Existing phone booths in Bhutan (population: two million) require operator supervision. But now the country is going hi-tech, with plans to introduce phone boxes that allow punters to make their own calls. Local paper Kuensel agonises about the effect the new phone booths will have on Bhutan's telephone operator workforce. Meanwhile, it charts the progress in getting the technology hooked up. "BT [Bhutan Telecom] has placed five unmanned booths, three along Thimphu main thoroughfare and two at the road safety and transport authority office. The telephones inside the booths are yet to be installed but it will be done any day now say BT officials," the paper reports. Bhutan Telecom should not, of course, be confused with BT plc. After all, our own BT would never be implicated in a delay in installing telecoms equipment. Perish the thought. Getting back to the story, the finances of the whole project are already been questioned. Kuensel reports: "The unmanned booth will require users to buy BT's pre-paid 'scratch' cards that was launched several months ago and has almost gone out of public memory." It seems that the good people of Bhutan have gone for a US-style system rather than the smart-card based calling cards commonplace in Europe. "Customers will first have to dial 800, enter the card number, personal identity number (revealed upon 'scratching' the back of the card) and dial the desired number. An automated voice informs the caller of the balance value of the card," the paper reports. "Using the call cards will be cheaper because the existing public booths charge a 30 per cent commission on calls." And there are other advantages too. The new unattended phone booths are not aimed at putting existing manned phone kiosks out of business, rather they will provide an "additional services to its [BT's] clients during emergencies when the public booths are closed and sleeping." Err, yes, we think we see what you mean. But wait. Even before the unattended phone boxes go operational, there are already concerns about vandalism. When street lights are broken and destroyed BT officials expect unmanned booths may be vandalised. So there's no immediate plan for a wider roll-out of the technology beyond the nation's capital city. "Right now we want to see how it works in Thimphu," a cautious BT official told Kuensel. ® Related Stories The pay-phone is not dead! This phone box does not exist BT and Marconi to install 28,000 e-payphones BT (that's BT plc) cuts off payphones
John Leyden, 13 Aug 2003

Intel preps 2.8GHz, 3GHz Prescotts for
Q1 2004

Intel's plans to drive its 90nm 'Prescott' processor - the successor to the Pentium 4 - quickly down-market into the PC mainstream as well as establish it at the top-end of its desktop CPU line-up. To that end, it will follow the chip's launch at 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz during Q4 with 2.8GHz and 3GHz version the quarter after that. So says a report on Japan's PC Watch web site. Intel will also release a 3.6GHz Prescott during Q1 2004. The story's based on an August roadmap, which shows a 3.8GHz version earmarked for Q2 2004. The site extrapolates a 4GHz part in Q3, rising to 4.4GHz in Q4. That 4.4GHz part will be based on the 'Tejas' core, the report implies. Tejas will introduce yet another pin spec., the 775-pin Land Grid Array, the better to support the 800MHz effective bit rate frontside bus. Tejas will be supported by its own chipset, 'Grantsdale'. Grantsdale will be based on PCI Express, using the next-generation bus spec. to link the chipset's North Bridge to the graphics card across a 4GBps link. The South Bridge uses lesser PCI Express links to provide two non-graphics add-in slots, plus 802.11 and Gigabit Ethernet support. The chip will support a single parallel ATA bus (to allow up to two drives to be connected) but four Serial ATA channels, allowing RAID 0+1 support out of the box (not to mention regular RAID 0 and 1, of course). The chipset will handle 333MHz and 400MHz DDR SDRAM and, interestingly, 400MHz and 533MHz DDR II memory - up to 4GB of either, in dual-channel configuration. PC Watch suggests Grantsdale will ship well ahead of Tejas, presumably to support a 775-pin version of Prescott aimed at PCI Express systems. Lower clocked Prescotts may solve the alleged compatibility problem highlighted last month between Intel's i865 and i875 chipsets. Some motherboard manufacturers have claimed that both parts are not compatible with the 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz Prescott because they can't support the new CPU's higher I/O voltage requirements. Such a problem may not be the case with lower-clocked Prescotts, which would in turn allow Intel to stand by its promises of Prescott support in its latest P4 chipsets. The roadmap shows Prescott-based Celerons coming to market in Q2 2004, also at 2.8GHz and 3.06GHz and effectively replacing the 2.8GHz P4-based Celeron due during the first quarter of next year. After Q1 there will no new P4-based Celerons, the roadmap suggests. Equally, the 3.2GHz P4 launched this past June will be last P4 release. ® Related Link (in Japanese)
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

FBI snoops around MCI

The FBI has called on anyone with the right information to come forward to help it with its ongoing investigation into alleged shenanigans at telecoms giant MCI. In what is being described as an unusual step, the FBI's computer crime unit issued a statement yesterday asking for further information concerning allegations that MCI improperly rerouted long-distance calls in the US and Canada in order to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in access fees to other phone companies. Earlier this month MCI - the troubled telecoms group formerly known as Worldcom - published details of an internal investigation in which it claimed that the allegations, originally made by AT&T, were groundless. Instead, it said that the AT&T's claims were merely an attempt to "delay and derail" MCI's exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Separately, MCI today announced the appointment of Richard R Roscitt as its president and COO. Reporting to chairman and CEO, Michael Capellas - he of Compaq/HP merger fame - Roscitt has worked in the telecoms industry for more than 30 years including president of AT&T Business Services and president and CEO of AT&T Solutions. ® Related Stories Church group asks FCC to vet MCI MCI returns fire at AT&T US bars MCI Worldcom from new federal contracts MCI denies national security 'compromised' MCI faces new fraud inquiry
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 2003

Today is Left-handers' Day

Site of the DaySite of the Day Things have taken a 'sinister' turn today as left-handers mark the 11th annual Left-Handers' Day celebrations by declaring their homes and offices "Lefty Zones" where right-hand dominance, for once, will be banned. This year, Left-Handers' Day celebrations will be focused on Internet-based activities in order to reach more people. The 28,000 members of The Left-Handers Club, and the thousands of visitors to the left-handersday.com web site are celebrating their sinistrality by turning the tables on right-handers, who will experience how awkward and frustrating it can be living in a "back-to-front-world". Organised by the International Left-Handers Club, the purpose of Left-Handers' Day is to create awareness among the right-handed majority, in a light-hearted way, of the problems right-biased design of everything from scissors to sinks, chequebooks to computer mice, and musical instruments to microwaves can have on the 13 per cent of the population who do not use their right hand for tasks. The people behind the day also want to educate designers and manufacturers towards accommodating left-handers' comfort and safety in new product and building design and to dispel many of the superstitions that have surrounded left-handedness in many cultures down the years. Visitors to the Left-handersday.com web site can win prizes playing a host of games and activities online that highlight the strengths and attributes left-handers bring to society. They can read greetings from famous lefties, join the lefties chatroom and discover what jobs and hobbies left-handers prefer, with the results of the Left-Handers Club year-long survey of Lifestyle Groups. All the prizes (donated by specialist retailer Anything Left-Handed Ltd) are, of course, designed with left-handers in mind. Famous left-handers include Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci, Jimi Hendrix, Nicole Kidman and pretty much all the top footballers (Pele, Cruyff, Maradona and Charlton), according to the site. So too is The Simpson's Ned Flanders. It's not all good though - Jack the Ripper was a leftie too, allegedly. ® External Links Left-handersday The International Left-Handers Club (free to join) Related Stories Today is Sys Admin Day - again Today (July 25,2003) is also Photof**k Friday Today (July 24, 2003) is 'Internet Shopping Day'
John Leyden, 13 Aug 2003

Intel unveils ‘Wi-Fi Chair’

A Wi-Fi chair, since you ask, is not a Professorship in mobile IT. It is a chair made out of the cables which people are throwing away because wireless LANs are making them obsolete. It symbolises the British wireless resurgence. Apparently... Truly, a Wi-Fi Chair is a Symbol of the Future. You can see one this week, in London at the Deluxe Gallery in Hoxton Square - the exhibition runs from 12-29 August - and after that at 100% Design, Earls Court, from 25-28 September. But why? "To symbolise wireless Internet revolution," says Intel, the company behind (as it were) the chair. "To promote the Centrino brand," responds the sceptic. The publicity stunt carries a payload: Intel quotes research from analysts at Gartner showing: "that Britain is leading Europe's drive to access the Internet wirelessly". The survey says the number of people using wireless hot spots in the UK to connect to the Internet is set to reach nearly half a million this year (456,000) "and the number of installed hotspots will climb to over 4,100, accounting for 27 per cent of Europe's total number of hotspots, ahead of Germany on 23 per cent." And the chairs? "The chairs contain 'fossilised' computer cables, encased in clear resin, to reflect the end of the cable era." The chairs are designed to be placed in select hotspot locations, like train stations and hotels, allowing hotspot users to access the Internet and email in comfort. The project appears to have been funded by the considerable promotional budget which Intel has poured into its Centrino Mobile Technology which integrates wireless capability into its latest generation of low-power mobile PCs. The report goes on to note that UK wireless Internet usage is also set to increase rapidly, with Gartner predicting that the number of frequent users of UK wireless hot spots will more than double in 2005 to reach over 1.5 million. Commenting on the growing trend towards "wireless living," Ian Keene at Gartner said: "As PC users increasingly want to stay connected on the move, wireless LAN technology adoption is starting to gain real momentum. The UK is in the forefront of the wireless revolution in Europe and usage is set to grow dramatically as people start to appreciate the benefits of staying connected to friends, family and work colleagues on the move." Jill Fehrenbacher of the Design Laboratory commented: "The Intel Wi-Fi chairs were created as a way of letting the public experience this revolutionary new technology. The aim is to inspire people to explore the possibilities of wireless technology and we are already in talks with manufacturers about making them available nationally to take this further. This project is part of the Design Laboratory's ongoing relationship with Intel bringing technology to life through conceptual designs." "We are delighted to be unveiling these innovative Wi-Fi chairs today, as they symbolise the exciting new trend towards wireless computing in the UK. Intel is proud to be playing a central role in enabling Britain to 'unwire'," commented Rick Skett, director of UK and Ireland, Intel. ® Copyright © 2003, NewsWireless.net Some Recent NewsWireless Articles Burger-surfing: McDonalds announces "biggest WiFi move yet" in Chicago The mouse that got away - wirelessly
Guy Kewney, 13 Aug 2003

Hynix Q2 loss narrowed on growing DRAM demand

Hynix today said its losing streak continued into the second quarter of its current fiscal year, with the company seeing a net loss of KRW530 billion ($448.96 million) - rather better than the previous quarter's KRW1.047 trillion ($886.91 million). However, its operating loss widening from Q1's KRW241 billion ($204.15 million) to KRW258 billion ($218.55 million). Sales for the period totalled KRW778 billion ($659.04 million), up 14 per cent on the previous quarter's KRW682 billion ($577.72 million). Hynix attributed the increase to a 20 per cent rise in DRAM shipments. However, that was offset by a "marginal" decline in its DRAM average selling price. Ongoing cost-reduction programmes and the shift to a 130nm process helped the company extract real revenue from the sales rise, despite the falling ASP. Memory products accounted for 82 per cent of the company's business, by the way. Despite that 20 per cent growth, Hynix still said DRAM demand was "depressed" during the quarter, thanks to the usual suspects: SARS and Iraq. However, it noted that "demand for DRAMs seems to be turning to recovery phase since the introduction of Springdale chipset by Intel in last May and price of DRAMs is steadily rising since the end of June". Looking ahead, Hynix said: "Beginning in the third quarter of 2003, the company expects real demand to show for memory and IC products mainly due to the anticipated recovery in corporate IT spending, seasonal demand increase from back-to school demand, and steady increase in memory per system." ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003

Nvidia drivers reveal GeForce FX SE parts

Nvidia's Detonator 45.23 drivers reveal something the company might not have wanted us to know yet: the names of three new graphics chips it has yet to launch. Listed among all the supported products are the GeForce FX 5200 SE, 5600 SE and 5900 SE, Xbit Labs reports. The 5600 SE has emerged before, but the presence of the other SE parts, suggest Nvidia plans a whole family of them to sit alongside the regular GeForce FX chips and the Ultra variants. The SEs appear to be 'value' versions of the standard parts - lower priced versions targeting the same enthusiast, performance and mainstream sectors Nvidia is aiming the 5900, 5600 and 5200 at, respectively. The 5200 SE recently turned up on a Nvidia roadmap pegged for a second half of 2003 release, around the same time as the NV36, which will ship as the GeForce FX 5700. However, since that part isn't mentioned in the drivers, its arrival may come later. We've seen mid-November listed as the likely ship-date. Interestingly, said roadmap doesn't mention the 5600 SE or the 5900 SE by name. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 2003