28th > August > 2003 Archive

HP sees double with Itanium

HP delivered a double dose of Itanium good cheer on Wednesday with a supercomputer success story and another high benchmark score. Over at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL), HP has helped the scientists upgrade a 1,400 node cluster with the latest Itanium 2 chips. The move from 1.0GHz McKinleys to 1.5GHz Madisons has given the system enough horsepower to claim the title as the world's fastest Linux supercomputer. The new system has a peak performance of 11.8T FLOPS, which just edges out the MCR Xeon-based cluster at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. PNNL told InfoWorld that the upgrade took over a month, as 10 HP engineers installed the new Madison chips in HP's rx2600 servers. "On a weekly basis, a semi truck with processors would show up," said PNNL Molecular Science Computing Facility's manager of computer operations, Scott Studham told the magazine. "I can personally tell you that there are four screws required to take out an Itanium 2 CPU." What Studham didn't mention is that it takes a forklift to carry each of the beastly chips and a special class of flame-retardant gloves to deal with their intense heat. Or so the joke goes. Not be outdone by itself, HP also touted its move into second place on the TPC-C benchmark list. It's bad enough that HP and IBM issue almost monthly releases to do with the number one spot, but now it seems a competition is on to be the best runner-up too. It took 64 Itanium 2s at 1.5Ghz along with Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server 2000 (64bit) to reach a result of 786,646 transactions per minute. With half as many CPUs, IBM had a score of 763,898. HP sure showed them. To its credit, HP is far and away the price/performance leader with its Integrity Superdome system running Windows, coming in at $6.49/tpmC. But when the servers all cost over $5 million, who really cares? Don't be shocked by HP's Itanic news output. The spin machine is being tuned up to full throttle and set to hit ludicrous speed in 2004. HP needs people moving onto Itanic and fast. In the first quarter, HP's Itanium sales declined, according to IDC. That's not a good sign for a "bet the company" product that is meant to be ramping, albeit slowly. The words ramping and decline aren't supposed to go together when you have billions of dollars and thousands of customers at stake. The Madison chips did enter the market this summer, so that should give HP a boost when the Q2 figures roll out. Expect HP to be heading back up the tar-covered ramp, but keep a close eye as to how much. The new data should arrive any day now. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Aug 2003

Webcasters slap RIAA with antitrust suit

The Webcaster Alliance has filed a suit against the Recording Industry Association of America and five major record labels for anti-competive behavior. The case arises from a deal last year, details of which were first reported by The Register, between a handful of small webcasters and the RIAA to set performance royalty rates. The WA alleges that the plan was part of a strategy to wipe out an entire industry at birth - the independent webcasters - and the suit has explosive political implications for senior Congressman Sensenbrenner who forced the deal. Sensenbrenner later admitted taking $18,000 from the RIAA for a trip to the Far East. "A private negotiation between the RIAA and the VOW" - the breakaway group responsible for cutting the deal - "became, by virtue of the SWSA [Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002], an industry deal for all small webcasters." The suit alleges that the VOW agreement "actually put many small webcasters in a worse position" than they had been under the rates set by the Library of Congress' Copyright Office earlier that year, by for example mandating a fourfold increase in in the minimum royalty fee. The Webcaster Alliance alleges that this and an earlier agreement with Yahoo! "had the intent and effect of restraining competition in the market for domestically recorded sound recordings and in the market for the Internet distribution for such sound recordings." "Faced with exclusionary licensing rates," continues the suit, "... Plaintiff's members are faced with certain and imminent extinction." Which may be exactly what the RIAA wants, the suit suggests. The Major Labels named, which own 90 per cent of content, "had a near-exclusive hold on distribution and marketing channels to consumers, such as radio station play, shelf space in major retail outlets, tour books, promotions and music videos" until the advent of the Internet. The suit notes that the Library of Congress has already established a finding of fact that in the Yahoo! Agreement RIAA members artificially inflated royalty fees, the Librarian noting that "the RIAA created a virtually uniform precedent with rates above those that most buyers would be willing to pay." A Yahoo! executive subsequently testified before the House that the agreement set "excessive" rates that were "considerably higher" than what the stations could afford. By sealing a deal, the RIAA sought to wipe out the primary digital distribution mechanism for Independent labels, says the WA. Sensenbrenner played a crucial role in the VoW settlement: forcing the negotiating webcasters to cut a deal with the RIAA or leave his congressional staff to write a deal for them. ® Related Stories - chronological Radio royalties: the ticking timebomb under the RIAA [the deal] '96 pc of Net Radio' to close after backroom deal screws grassroots 'casters RIAA-backed webcast bill 'a disaster for the US' 'RIAA-written' Net radio bill served to Senate Civil disobedience promised after net radio royalty bill falls [the recriminations] New Alliance for webcasters Webcast relief defers Day of Judgement RIAA engineered webcast split - former exec [compromise relief legislation] Helms explains webcasting deal Bush signs Webcast Act RIAA agrees webcasting rates... with non-webcasting AOL, Microsoft AOL Time Warner takes grip of net radio RIAA faces antitrust suit
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Aug 2003

Dell readies slimline Axim x3 PDA

Dell is preparing a slimmed down version of its Axim PDA, dubbed the x3, and has been scheduled for a 15 October release date. So claims Brighthand, citing a variety of sources. Essentially, the x3 is an x5 minus the latter's CompactFlash slot, removed to make the PDA thinner. The x3 will still sport an SD/MMC slot, which will also support SDIO for peripheral cards such as Wi-Fi adaptors. Like the x5, two x3 models will be offered, one at 300MHz, the other at 400MHz. Which processor the machines will have depends on which source you talk to: some say Intel XScale CPUs, others point to the Samsung S3C2410 as Dell's chip of choice. Note that HP has chosen the latter for its new h1935 PDA. Whichever processor Dell selects - and it might use both - the 400MHz model is believed to have Bluetooth built in. Both devices are expected to contain 64MB of RAM and 48MB of ROM. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003

AMD pares Athlon XP prices

AMD quietly trimmed the prices of a handful of bottom-of-the-line Athlon XP processors this week, presumably in a bid to match the cuts Intel made to Celeron desktop prices at the weekend. The Athlon XPs granted price cuts this time round were the 2600+, 2500+, 2400+ 2200+ and 2100+. All other XP prices saw no change. The five prices changed were reduced by only small percentages, between two and ten per cent. Athlon XP price cuts Processor Prev. Price New Price Change 2600+ $103 $93 -9.7% 2500+ $89 $87 -2% 2400+ $84 $81 -4% 2200+ $74 $71 -4% 2100+ $74 $69 -7%
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003
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A Bastard of a late night call-out

Episode 18Episode 18 BOFH 2003: Episode 18 I hate phone calls at the best of times, but phone calls at home - especially during the hours of darkness - do not find me at my personal best. "But it has to be going again as soon as possible!" the user dribbles into the receiver as I fumble with my bedside clock to get the time. "It's 3am in the bloody morning!" I snap, not at all happy. "Yes, but this is really urgent!" "It's a bloody TEST Electronic Document Management System - it's not urgent!" "Yes, but it's got my data in it and I need it urgently for some reports that are due tomorrow!" "You put production data into a test server?" I ask. "Yes, why?" "A server which we told you - REPEATEDLY - that we might shutdown at any time - without notice?" "Yes, but I needed..." "A server which we only have a EDMS demo licence for, which probably expires in 90 days?" "Yes, but I had to store my data centrally to share with other users!" "You're sharing your data with other users - on a test system?" "Uhhh... Yes..." "Who might also be storing data..." "But it's got a massive disk - doing nothing!" "Nothing at all, true. Not even being backed up, in fact." "You're joking!" "IT'S A BLOODY TEST SERVER! Anyway, if I was joking I would tell you about the user who locked his keys in his car and spent half an hour with a coathanger trying to get his family out!" "Wa!?" "Nothing. Anyway, I'm not coming in, none of the test machines are under maintenance, so you'd have to pay call-out fees, parts, etc - if I can find an approved service agent at this time of night!" "I don't care, I need it done!" "Have you any idea of how much it'll cost?" I say, asking the obligatory questions. "How much?" "Ok, I'm guessing 120 to 180 quid an hour MINIMUM with a minimum three hour call out, travel, THEN, if they know what they're doing and can even FIND the problem you'll probably need parts so you'll have to call out their stores person at the same rate and expenses, so you're looking at over a grand, PLUS the cost of the part, which is bound to be more expensive than some cheapo parts company which we could get it from tomorrow morning..." "I don't care, this has to be done, the report's needed for the big arbitration case tomorrow!" "The one where we're trying to prove that we didn't steal another company's intellectual property?" "Yes!" "But we did, didn't we?" "No!" "Sure we did! I downloaded a stack of stuff from their website when it was compromised and slapped it onto our R&D site." "No, it was developed in-house..." "Inside of a week? Yes, I can see that happening in the real world..." "What are you suggesting?" "That someone on staff took credit for a stack of work they didn't do by changing the company and designer name, tweaking some specs and printing it on shiny paper." "I didn't hear you say that!" "Should I speak louder?" "No! Just get someone to come in and fix this server!" "Now?" "Yes." "And not mention that we stole another company's intellectual property?" "!!!" "I'll need an order number to quote to the agency, plus an internal order for my call-out and travel!" "They'll be in your email when you get to the office!" "OK, it's as good as sorted!" ... Bright and early that morning ... "TWO GRAND FOR A BLOODY HARD DRIVE!" he screams. "I told you they were expensive!" "A HUNDRED QUID TRAVEL EXPENSES!" "Yes, apparently he got lost on the way here." "THEN HE CHARGED ME AGAIN AT 150!" "Yes, travel to their store to get the hard drive - then he got lost coming back..." "I'm not bloody paying!" "Well he's still here - you could tell him - but then I think he'd probably take the hard drive back." "Well just tell him we'll pay." "I would, but he won't power the server on until he's got a cheque..." "..it's OK, we'll canc-" "Made out to cash." "DAMN!" ... One company cheque imprint later ... "Right, well get him to power the server on will you - and hurry!" "Sure, and I just need you to sign off on my expenses too while you're at it." "Oh, OK, just this form is i... A HUNDRED QUID ON TRAVEL EXPENSES?" "Yeah, the streets are bloody confusing at night - not to mention I normally ride the tube to wo-" "MEAL? "Yes, standard stuff if you work outside the normal working hours. Took me ages to find a place that was open too - hence the second travel expense claim." "I'm not paying!" "Well you could, but then I'd have to go directly home as my contract states I only need to put in an eight-hour day - ie. four hours at double time." "Well I think I can manage to ask the technician to power the machine on..." "OK, go ahead." "What - YOU'RE THE BLOODY TECHNICIAN!?" "Yes, as I'd said, we needed an approved service agent - and I was the only person I approve of. Still, as luck would have it I was up at that time of the night!" "THIS IS BLOODY BLACKMAIL!" "Not exactly. But you wanting me to switch the machine on as an approved technician is." "Why?" "Because you'd have to pay a call-out fee - unless you wait a couple of hours till I start work. Three hour minimum..." SORTED! ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 28 Aug 2003

EarthLink targets 100 spammers

US ISP EarthLink is on the hunt for around 100 spammers it claims are guilty of sending more than 250 million junk emails. Filing a federal lawsuit yesterday, EarthLink alleged that the spammers used criminal means - including credit card fraud and identity theft - to finance their operation. Those targeted by EarthLink are roughly split between Alabama and Vancouver although at the moment, the ISP is unaware of individual identities. Part of the reason for the legal action is to try and seek identification of those behind the spam rings. Associated Press quotes Karen Cashion, lead council for EarthLink's lawsuit, as saying: "Our investigation has been ongoing for a number of months and this is a very tech-savvy spam ring which has made this a particularly challenging investigation." EarthLink alleges that the spammers were behind millions of emails for stuff like herbal remedies and financial products. It also alleges that the spammers were trying to obtain fraudulently credit card and banking details by posing as bona fide companies. For EarthLink, this is just the latest round of action against spammers. In May, it was awarded $16.4 million damages and permanent relief against a notorious spammer - Howard Carmack, aka The Buffalo Spammer - after he was fingered for sending more than 825 million illegal emails. It was also alleged that Carmack and his accomplices "used stolen credit cards, identity theft, banking fraud and other illegal activities to fraudulently purchase Internet accounts and send out unsolicited, commercial emails". Other companies are also stepping up their fight against spam. Last December, for example, AOL won $7 million in damages after it claimed its punters had been bombarded with porn spam. The giant Internet company used the court ruling to warn spammers that it would use the full force of the law to hit at anyone who targets its punters with unsolicited email. And earlier this week Amazon announced it was demanding millions of dollars in punitive damages from 11 'spoofers' accused of sending forged Amazon emails. The lawsuits, which target operators based in the US and Canada, are part of a wider crackdown by the online retailer against email forgeries, a trick known as 'spoofing'. ® Related Stories Amazon.com cracks down on spoofers Buffalo Spammer arrested Earthlink brings down the Buffalo Spammer AOL wins $7m in porn spam case
Tim Richardson, 28 Aug 2003

Apple G5 shipments slow in Europe, Asia-Pacific

Apple's eagerly awaited Power Mac G5 is slowly spreading out into the channel and to buyers, but not without some teething troubles, it seems. While Mac fans and Apple customers are reporting receipt of shipment details and in-store sightings around the world, some web sites have hinted at hardware glitches that have delayed the release of some machines. According to a MacBidouille report, G5 shipments have been held back by "a problem with the door lock that has appeared on the assembly line". Germany's MacNews.de apparently reported a recall of initial shipments of the machine and a freeze on distribution of the 1.6GHz model, though the site admitted it had no official word from Apple on the matter, and couldn't say whether the problem was technical or not. According to Taiwanese newspaper, the Economic News, local manufacturer Hon Hai is punching out the Power Macs on Apple's behalf. Initial production problems are not uncommon, though since the paper claims the manufacturer has been building G5s since June - probably pre-production samples, we'd guess - you'd have thought it would have solved such problems by now. Whether there are technical issues such as the one mentioned by MacBidouille, we can't say. However, it's worth noting that Apple's online store in the UK is noting a three to five week ship time for the standard 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz models, and four to six weeks for the dual 2GHz machine. Those timeframes are listed across Apple's European, Far Eastern and Australia sites. In the US, shipments of the first two models are down to just over a week. Like the UK, North American customers will have to wait four to six weeks for the dual 2GHz G5. According to a distribution bullet issued by Apple to resellers in the US, and seen by ThinkSecret, the 2GHz machine may ship sooner, but education buyers will get their orders first, hence to long wait - out into October, effectively - for regular customers. While Apple Japan has said that it is putting back the release of the G5 by a month, we've heard no similar statement from Europe, even though both regions have the same ship dates listed on their respective Apple Store web sites. Apple Japan's official revised schedule matches the 3-5 weeks and 4-6 weeks listed in Europe for the 1.6/1.8GHz boxes and the 2GHz Power Mac, respectively. All of which suggests Apple is focusing on the US market while Hon Hai ramps up production. As the volume of output builds, Power Macs will begin to arrive in other regions. To what extend the build-up has been affected by the rumoured technical issues isn't known, but shipments of previous new Macs have been similarly staggered. Others have shipped worldwide very quickly after the US debut. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003

Packard Bell iXtreme takes pop at iMac

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Desktop PC UK PC maker Packard Bell has introduced its latest iMac challenger, the all-white iXtreme. Unlike the Apple machine, the iXtreme is a two-unit system, with separate monitor unit and tower, but in addition to the white, curvaceous styling, the Packard Bell ships with a pair of spherical speakers. Not that the iXtreme lacks innovation. The monitor unit isn't simply a flat-panel LCD screen. In addition to the 15in TFT, Packard Bell has built in the optical drive, two USB 2.0 ports and a six-in-one memory card reader. Not all the available ports are passed through the monitor unit, however, and lower-end models incorporate a flat-screen CRT display, alas. There are six models in the iXtreme 6000 series, offering between 256MB and 1GB of DDR SDRAM; 2.6GHz Intel Celeron, 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz Pentium 4, and AMD Athlon XP 2800+ processors; 80GB, 120GB and 160GB hard drive options; DVD/DVD-RW or DVD/CD-RW combo optical drives; and either a 64MB Nvidia GeForce MX 440 or a 128MB ATI Radeon 9200 graphics engine. Wireless or wired keyboards and mice options are available. Some models also offer a 1394 port. Every machine has a 10/100Mbps Ethernet port and a built-in 56Kbps modem. Prices range from £599 to £1199 including sales tax, and the iXtremes are now available from major UK retailers. Notebook PC Dell today introduced an Inspiron notebook incorporating Nvidia's GeForce FX Go 5650 graphics chips backed with 128MB of video memory and powering a 15.4in screen. Lesser chips from Nvidia and from ATI are offered too. The Inspiron 8600 is based on 1.3GHz to 1.7GHz Pentium Ms with Intel's other Centrino platform components, including built-in 802.11b wireless networking. The machine can be configured with 802.11b/g and 802.11a/b/g cards, and with Bluetooth. Up to 80GB of hard drive space are on offer, between 512MB and 2GB of DDR SDRAM, and either a DVD/CD-RW combo optical drive or a DVD+RW/+R unit. But every notebook comes with a two USB 2.0 and a 1394 port, a built-in 56Kbps modem and a 10/100Mbps wired Ethernet connector. Available now in the US, the Inspiron 8600 family starts at $1699. Hard drive accessory Addonics has introduced Mini ExDrive, a enclosure kit that allows PC users to convert any 2.5in hard drive into an external Serial ATA unit. Within the enclosure is an IDE port that connects to your hard drive. Electronics convert the drives output into Serial ATA format. If your system lacks external Serial ATA ports, Addonics will happily provide you with either a PCI or a PC Card add-in adaptor. Instead of a bulky power adaptor, the drive gets all the juice it needs from the host PC's USB chain via a standard USB cable. However, Addonics also bundles a separate transformer if you prefer that approach. The Mini ExDrive costs $55; Addonics' Serial ATA PCI adaptor is $37, the PC Card version $59. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003

Online consumer confidence drops – analyst

Consumer confidence in online credit card security has declined over the last five years, according to research from Forrester. A third of online shoppers are "technology pessimists" who are concerned about online security, it seems. Back in 1998, when Forrester first started collecting this kind of data, fewer than one in five shared those concerns about buying online. Not only are more people concerned about online shopping, it seems punters are spending less time on the Net. While two out of three people in the US use the Net regularly, today's consumers spend less time online than they did in the late 1990s, reported Forrester. Pop these two elements together and Forrester reckons that Net users in the US have undergone "significant changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour" over the last five years. As a result, ebusinesses need to understand and respond to these changes. Said Forrester's James L McQuivey: "Consumers have been through a lot in the past few years - highs and lows that have permanently changed the way they live. Businesses need to understand the shifts that have occurred, so that they can offer consumers a different kind of experience." Despite Forrster's concerns, official figures published last week by the US' Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce shows that e-sales are positively booming. It estimates that retail e-commerce sales for Q2 2003 was $12.48 billion - an increase of 28 per cent on the same quarter last year. Overall, e-commerce sales in Q2 accounted for 1.5 per cent of total retail sales - up from 1.2 per cent in Q2 2002. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Aug 2003

Cellphone jamming scam exposed

A Scottish wide-boy selling mobile phone jamming equipment to hotels has been exposed by local newspaper the Daily Record. Ronnie McGuire was caught selling the illegal devices, which send out radio waves that swamp the signal between base stations and mobile phones, rendering handsets inoperable in the vicinity of the jamming equipment. He was selling the devices, imported from Taiwan, to hotels and bars at £75 a time. His pitch was that mobile phone users would be unable to get a signal in premises where the device is used, forcing them to use expensive hotel or guest house phone facilities instead. The devices also stop hotel or bar staff using their own mobiles at work. The Daily Record reports that McGuire promoted his illicit kit in glossy leaflets that state: "Harassed by mobile phones or hotel phone system not being used? "Then look no further. Purchase a mobile phone jammer for your hotel, restaurant and bar. Small and discrete." McGuire told an undercover reporter from the paper: "I've sold quite a few to hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. "It helps with the internal phone system because people use it and the coin box a lot more. "It comes up on [users' handsets] 'no service' and people think there's no service in that area. But it's best not to tell anyone you've got it because they might not be too happy," he added. Indeed. McGuire, of Crieff in Scotland, sold a Daily Record reporter posing as the owner of a bed-and-breakfast establishment a jammer and battery pack for £75. He sells the devices as a sideline to his Electron Electrical Engineering Services reselling business. The phone jamming equipment is prohibited in the UK and people caught using it are subject to fines from The Radiocommunications Agency, a point McGuire unsurprisingly failed to bring up in his conversation with the undercover reporter. ®
John Leyden, 28 Aug 2003

Net anonymity service un-backdoored

The Java Anonymous Proxy (JAP) service, a collaborative effort of Dresden University of Technology, Free University Berlin and the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein, Germany (ICPP), has been allowed to suspend its monitoring of users' IP traffic pending a decision on the legality of back-dooring it. Collectively known as the AN.ON Project, the operators appealed a lower court's decision allowing the German Feds to obtain reports on users' access to a particular IP address (no doubt having to do with KP or bomb-making, etc). The appeals court has allowed the operators to discontinue logging until their appeal has been answered. When a decision has been reached, the JAP team says they will document the whole affair, but cannot do so until the court issues its ruling. A single record of access to the forbidden IP address has been logged but not yet disclosed to the Feds pending the higher court's decision, the JAP team says. In a previous article The Register criticised the way the JAP team handled its initial confrontation with the Feds, ie., by waiting quietly until a user discovered the back door before acknowledging the situation. We believe there were better ways of dealing with the court order, either by posting a prominent warning that the service might be subject to monitoring by the authorities, by leaking the information to the press outside Germany, or by disabling the affected proxies temporarily in protest. We hope that if the JAP team should lose its appeal and be ordered to resume monitoring, particularly under a gag order, it will find a way of giving the public a proper heads up. Their previous performance hardly inspires confidence, but there is always opportunity for redemption. ® Related Story Net anonymity service back-doored Related Links Discussion at BugTraq Discussion at Full-Disclosure
Thomas C Greene, 28 Aug 2003

Samsung launches photo phones

Samsung this week announced three new mobile phones, two of them with built-in camers. One of the models, the SGH-X600, has a 640 x 480 camera with a tilting range of 180 degrees forward and back, and is mounted on top of the phone, with an LED mini-flash located around the lens. Weighting only 80g, the GPRS phone offers a 1.6in, 16-bit colour screen with 16-bit doubling as a viewfinder. It also includes Java games. The SGH-E700 is a clam-shell style phone with a small external OLED colour screen and a bigger TFT LC display. The internal screen measures 1.8 inches. Samsung claims that the maximum picture resolution of 640 x 480 pixels outclasses most other telephone cameras. It also has a multi-shot feature, which allows mobile users to take up to 15 photos consecutively. Users can edit their pictures in the phone by converting them to negative, black and white or sepia look, or even to pencil drawing. There are also numerous stored frames which can be included with a multimedia message The third model, the SGH-X100, is a cheaper, 83g designer phone, with Java games pre-installed, a 1.6in screen and polyphonic ring tones. All three phones, available in due course, lack Bluetooth. However, infrared communication is available. Samsung told European continental press at a conference near Schwalbach (Frankfurt) that it is considering manufacturing iMode phones, but the company will not introduce them "unless iMode is a proven success". ®
Jan Libbenga, 28 Aug 2003

SGI to let 600 more workers go

SGI will eliminate 600 positions from its workforce in a bid to cut costs, the company said yesterday. The announcement provides details of the restructuring, which SGI admitted earlier this week it was going to have to implement. The move will increase the number of staff the company has rid itself of already this year to 1000, a quarter of the 4000-strong workforce it began its current fiscal year with. The first round of 400 job cuts was announced back in May. SGI hopes the move will cut $100 million off its quarterly operating expenses bill once its forks out $20 million in redundancy payments. That $100 million saving should allow the company to break even, provided it maintains quarterly sales of $235-240 million and its gross margins meet its expectations. That's a lot of 'ifs'. It also means that the remaining 3000 staff plus other operating expenses will total around $135-140 million, so it's obviously ridding itself of some of its more highly paid staffers. The restructure follows a plan to decamp from the company's Mountain View HQ to a nearby plant that's more cosy and where all those soon-to-be-empty desks will be less obvious. ® Related Stories SGI shivers ahead of storm SGI upgrades kit big and small SGI: new Onyx visualization server may open new markets SGI renders 400 redundant
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003

Philips partners with telcos to tout home WLANs

Royal Philips and T-Com, Deutsche Telekom's fixed network division, today announced in Berlin that they will jointly develop the market for home broadband, wireless networks, connected devices and related services in Germany. Similar agreements have been signed with BT, Belgacom and Telecom Italia. Earlier this year, Philips also announced alliances with KPN and Telefonica. The aim is to offer UK, Belgian, German and Italian consumers a combination of Philips' home networks and connected entertainment and communication systems, along with telcos' broadband Internet access services. The BT alliance, for example, will attempt to create awareness among consumers that broadband reaches beyond the PC. To that end, the two companies will develop product demonstrations and entertainment displays in UK retail outlets. Both companies have also agreed to share product and service roadmaps. The drive behind all this is The Connected Planet, Philips' strategic vision behind a portfolio of consumer products and technologies enabling users to access and enjoy digital content "anywhere and anytime in the home and beyond". Philips was the first company to introduce a micro hi-fi system capable of connecting to multiple online music services wirelessly. Future products will be based on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Philips's own Near-Field Communications wireless connectivity, the company said. ®
Jan Libbenga, 28 Aug 2003

New PS2 set for UK launch next month?

Online reports indicate that Sony's updated version of the PS2, featuring a built-in infrared receiver and improved DVD playback functions, will be released in the UK next month in a choice of black and silver colour schemes. The new model was launched in Japan several months ago, and is expected to arrive in the US shortly. The company isn't making much noise about the new release, with the new hardware apparently simply replacing older PS2s on shelves as hardware stocks run out. All of the updates to the console hardware in this revision are concerned solely with DVD playback, with one significant exception: the company has removed the 1394/Firewire/iLink port from the console, presumably because nobody was actually using it in any games. More interestingly, the online report on GamesRadar suggests that the new hardware will be made available in a silver version as well as the traditional black colour, as part of Sony's forthcoming Silver Prestige line of home entertainment devices. Does this mean we can't affectionately refer to the console as Darth Vader's Toaster any more? ® Copyright ©2003, GamesIndustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 28 Aug 2003

Nokia looks to Russia, India for growth

Nokia has pegged Russia, India and Latin America as potential up-and-coming markets for mobile devices and services. It reckons that investing in these largely untapped markets could help double mobile phone use over the next five years. Current estimates say that some 1.2 billion people around the world use a mobile phone. By 2008, Nokia calculates that that number could swell to a whopping two billion if investment is focused on these new markets. In Russia, for example, Nokia believes that mobile phone ownership could increase by 200 per cent by 2008, with more than 60 million people hooked to their mobiles. At a press conference yesterday - held simultaneously in Moscow and New Delhi - Nokia announced that it planned to introduce a range of consumer mobile phones and business models that would make it cheaper to run a network and own a phone. In a statement, Jorma Ollila, Nokia's Chairman and CEO, said: "New growth markets will be a key driver of the mobile industry in the coming years. "There is extraordinary potential in the number of people currently without mobile service. Despite its remarkable success, mobile service still only reaches less than 20 per cent of the world's population. Some four billion people are still without telephone service of any kind,"he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Aug 2003

Apple sued over use of Rendezvous trademark

Business software company Tibco has filed a complaint with the US District Court for Northern California claiming that Apple's Rendezvous technology infringes upon one of its own trademarks, the company said today. Tibco claims Apple attempted to trade on its goodwill and engage in unfair conduct and - presumably a reference to what it describes as the Mac maker's "continual refusal to honour our trademark". Apple has also allegedly been unwilling to "reach an amicable agreement" over the trademark - cough up money to Tibco, in other words. Rendezvous is the name Tibco has given to its messaging infrastructure, part of its ActiveEnterprise offering, and says it has the name trademarked since 1994. The company has asked the court to force Apple to pay up for the "competitive and economic harm" it claims the Mac maker has done it. Rendezvous is Apple's name for its implementation of the ZeroConf instant network configuration system, launched last year when the company announced Mac OS X 10.2. Since then, it has garnered backing from big name software and peripheral suppliers who have all said they will support the technology in their own products. It's hard to imagine that Apple, as notoriously protective of its trademarks as it is, missed Tibco's own Rendezvous mark when it was choosing a fancier name for ZeroConf. Presumably it then, as now, believes there's no clash of confusion between the two. It has trademarked both the Rendezvous name and logo. Its web site describes the trademarks as covering "networking software". ® Related Story Apple G5 shipments slow in Europe, Asia-Pacific
Tony Smith, 28 Aug 2003

AV bigwigs weigh in on Sobig debate

Reg LettersReg Letters We've had plenty of feedback to our op ed piece yesterday on the wider implications of the Sobig worm. It wasn't easy but we managed to extract your insightful gems from the torrent of junk descending into my mail box. But it was worth it. Most of you agree with our central thesis that the outbreak of Sobig has exposed the weaknesses of current generations of antivirus tools, but there's disagreement about the way forward. Dr Alan Solomon, the founder of Dr Solomon's Anti-virus reckons the way forward is to charge for email. We dislike this idea on general principle (email should be open) but he advances a strong argument as to why other approaches are doomed to fail. Scanners cannot work any more. That was true about three to four years ago, it's only now becoming obvious. No way am I going to install software on my computers that's had less than a couple of days of testing from the programmer's hands to my systems. Believe me, I know what happens when you release AV software that isn't sufficiently tested. And no way can anything less frequent than a weekly update make sense. Heuristics only work for really poor virus authors. The more sophisticated ones merely use trial and error until they've evaded the heuristic. Behaviour blockers won't work either. Been there, done that. They didn't work 20 years ago, they won't work now. What, you're going to block any program that sends out an email with an attachment? Or you're going to pop up a box asking the user to make a decision that he cannot possibly make, and he'll click on OK every time? The answer is, a change in the email protocol that can wipe out spam and severely curb virus spread, and the change isn't actually very complex or difficult to understand. What we need is the pre-paid penny post. When it costs you a penny to send an email, you'll think, hey, that's a bargain compared to the cost of texting, it won't deter you from chatting with friends, but it will make the 10,000,000 email spammer think twice about spending £100,000. And it'll curb the spread of email viruses, because users who let their computers become virus-spreaders, will face the cost of the mess they're making. Or they'll run out of "stamps" and the virus on their computer won't be able to spread itself. But it needs someone to get the idea accepted. I don't know anyone who is doing so. In our article, we highlighted the new generation of behaviour-based blocking tools (also known as host-based intrusion prevention systems) as an alternative approach to stopping malicious code executing on users' desktops. This approach isn't without it pitfalls, notably the difficulty in establishing rules on allowed and disallowed behaviours, and there's mixed reaction from our postbox on this idea. Dr Solomon, like a substantial number of you, was of the 'been there, done that - it didn't work' school of thought. However Reg reader Peter Holzleitner was more receptive to the concept. The very minimum in "behaviour based" filtering would suffice, which is to eliminate ALL executable content. There is NO business need for it. We use http://www.mailscanner.info with great success - it stopped Sobig even before the AV tables were updated. It is free, will work with your preferred AV scanner (which is still useful to kill macro viruses without clobbering the documents) and uses SpamAssassin as a plug-in. Many of you pick up on our annoyance about auto-responses from AV scanners or badly configured mailservers sending out spurious messages when they receive copies of Sobig with spoofed email addresses. New England-based reader Benno Belhumeur advances a theory that these auto responder messages may be part of what the virus itself is doing. One of my users has been hit particularly hard by these "auto responders" and the odd thing is the responses are coming back with worm attachment still attached (and being detected by NAV [Norton Anti-Virus] (and then a response is sent out)). Looking at the headers it seems they're all coming from a few IPs and with forged return addresses. As far as I know NAV doesn't include the virus file in its response nor does it forge senders e-mail addresses. I think the text virus e-mail itself may have been changed to the text of a NAV auto-response. This is the only thing I can think of that would explain what's happening here. An interesting theory but how it's not just auto response messages from Norton we're dealing with here. Evidence from our in-boxes suggests Belhumeur is probably incorrect. Then again, without a complete, comprehensive analysis of the worm (and why is that taking so long to appear? We only learned about Sobig's second wave attack days after it first appeared) its difficult to say. However this message storm is being generated, reader Clive Page, of the UK's University of Leicester, highlights widespread general annoyance about this aspect of the problem. He also makes a good point about how difficult it is for home users with only narrowband connections to download all the patches Microsoft advises it is necessary to apply. The storm of messages with spoofed "From" fields have been made worse by the messages being rejected by so many corporate mail hubs and simply sent back to the apparent sender, usually with the virus attachment intact. I think the original virus outflow has stopped, but I'm still getting rejection messages complete with payload. In my view, most of the anti-virus products have simply made matters worse by this stupid behaviour. Secondly: I'm a fairly typical home user with Windows on my PC, but I haven't been able to apply all the critical Microsoft patches. I don't have a broadband connection, and the total volume of updates now comes to many megabytes: I don't want to take the risk of staying online for the several hours it would take to download all these. I have tried to download them here, where we have a fast connection, to take home on a CD, but Microsoft will not allow patches to be downloaded except to PCs running Windows, so I am stymied. I expect similar problems have led to the vast number of unpatched, hence insecure, home PCs still on the net. So Microsoft are, yet again, partly to blame for this situation. Indeed there's no shortage of entities Reg readers would like to put in the stocks for the Sobig pandemic. Microsoft (chiefly for creating the malware magnet that is Outlook), ISPs (for not filtering viruses - even though this has to be a ready market many users would be happy to subscribe to), AV vendors (for producing tools that are incapable of responding to fast-spreading worms) and the virus authors themselves all come in for criticism in our postbag. Some of you said we're overplaying the privacy concerns involved in trusting ISPs or managed services providers to filter malicious messages from email traffic. Others, a minority, say this is a real issue. Meanwhile, Sam Bailey reckons its users wots to blame for the sorry state of many in-boxes. You take your average small / big biz user sitting in front of a powerful machine with massive amounts of bandwidth... most are sadly clueless about anything beyond using Word or Outlook let alone viruses, worms and whatever else. My approach is to simply have the mail client act more responsibly via plug-in via random testing i.e. popup a "you receive a mail entitled Anna Kornikova naked pics! Do you a) send to all your friends b) delete it immediately c) save it for after the working day" etc. According to the users answer the mail client / server controls there behaviour and alerts IT staff of a user in serious need of some training. The account can even be locked down until they pass a test - the "I have to ask someone I perceive as beneath me to let me use my email" is usually enough to get them using there brain a little more actively and suddenly the virus problems are cut by three-quarters. Alternatively MS license the "read the text in the picture" to be added to the users approved list would help no end. Not sure we're that keen on challenge response systems but we hear what you're saying, Sam. Manni Heumann is also inclined to blame end users. Sobig is not a technical problem. Give us the best AV technology you can think of. Give us email clients that will never ever start a program unless the user makes it. The next worm will still spread based upon the fact that users like to click their attachments. Don't blame people for not updating their AV software. Blame them for clicking every [expletive deleted] attachment they receive. As long as each moron can get on the internet, worms and spammers will have something to feed upon. I am as sick and tired of the windows-security-holes litany as of the security holes themselves. In fact, the vision of really good AV software and a windows version without security holes scares the hell out of me. Just think of it: Imagine years without worms, without security alerts from MS, and without a post on BugTraq. But someday, somebody will be clever enough to figure out how to make that thing blow up. And what then? By then, people will rely even more on their AV software and their blessed OS as they do now. They will know longer know that you are not supposed to click anything that looks even remotely clickable. And thus, they will click. Software doesn't kill email, morons do. Don't hold back, Manni. And remember it's not about users clicking attachments - remember that many worms have exploited the auto-preview feature in Outlook (Express) to spread. Yes, Microsoft has fixed this and yes, many people have still not applied this fix. Go figure. Rod Furey believes open source software is the answer. As we've repeatedly noted Linux, Mac OS, OS/2 and Unix users are immune to the virus itself but are still getting carpet bombed by the message storm it generates. I'm just sick of people complaining about this sort of thing. The usual car analogy will suffice: Bill: My car has 60,000 faults which render it susceptible to someone else taking control of it whilst I'm driving. Fred: Really? Mine has less than 100 and I can go where I want to. Bill: Give me the name of your dealer - I'm going to buy one of yours. And for computers: Bill: My operating environment has 60,000 faults which render it susceptible to someone else taking control of it. And I spend all of my time applying security patches (30 so far this year). Fred: Really? My operating system has less than 100, far fewer security patches and I spend my time doing what I want. Bill: Yes, but no one uses your system. Hello? Excuse me? What? So it's 'Johnny Manager' - not the helpless end user that's to blame. A good point, to which we'd add that any approach that premised on users doing the right thing seems bound to run into trouble sooner rather than later. Over time, the prevalence of these MS-centric viruses will become a stronger and more compelling reason for users to consider open source alternatives. Microsoft is well aware of this, hence the Trusted Computing initiative. Redmond is taking steps to produce more secure code, in its own self interest, but this is taking time to reach the market. In fairness to Microsoft, its security experts (at least in private) are happy to acknowledge this point. But we digress. We'll leave it to Denise Rosenberger, wife of Vmyths editor Rob Rosenberger, who's currently on active service in Iraq, to close this selection of correspondence. Rob Rosenberger is my husband. He called from Iraq to ask if the Internet had finally died. He said that you would know the answer, and, that I am supposed to ask you. Rob (and Denise), I'm pleased to say the Internet is very much alive and well. The Sobig epidemic is a major nuisance but we're getting through. ® Related stories Why Sobig is bad for privacy and AV vendors Blaster rewrites Windows worm rules Sobig second wave attack fails to strike Sobig-F is fastest growing virus ever - official Auto-responders magnify Sobig problem Email worm joins Blaster attack on Windows Why spammers lurve the 'Microsoft support' worm (Sobig-A) On Spam cures that are worse than the disease Virus writers outpace traditional AV AV vendors sell 'blunt razor blades'
John Leyden, 28 Aug 2003

Online ticket to ride

Since the buzzphrase electronic commerce was invented in the mid-1990s, there have been some spectacular failures of the promise of the Internet to transform business, writes Fran Howarth of Bloor Research. The dotcom boom has come and gone and the majority of online marketplaces - hyped as the future of business - have closed up shop. Yet Internet sales are slowly gathering pace. Evidence from the retail travel sector in the Netherlands shows that customers are increasingly turning to online sales - and the travel companies are doing everything that they can to encourage the use of the Internet. In the airline sector, a report released by Euromonitor on the travel and tourism market in the Netherlands indicated that online sales accounted for only 5 per cent of total reservations in 2001. In March 2003, KLM's CEO stated that its Internet sales were experiencing double digit growth. To encourage this to increase further, its is boosting the quality of its online offerings, including enhanced customer service, and will make electronic ticketing available on all of the routes worldwide served by itself and its partners. To encourage customers to take up this service, it is offering a €5.50 discount for all tickets bought online and is cutting the ticket sales commissions that it used to pay travel agents, which previously amounted to 7 per cent of the price of a ticket. In contract, its competitor in the European short haul market, EasyJet, has long encouraged its customers to book tickets over the Internet by offering cheaper tickets than those available if the booking is made over the phone. In 2002, EasyJet sold 88 per cent of its offerings via the Internet, and by 2003 that had increased to 93.8 per cent of all tickets sold. This allows it to greatly increase the productivity of its staff at the same time as providing a better service to its customers. As their share in the market continues to fall, travel agents have been responding by increasing the amount of their own services that are accessible over the Internet. But the pattern of sales indicates that there is a concurrent move towards the greater need for personalised service. For example, when booking domestic trips, 19 per cent of Dutch booked over the Internet, compared to 14 per cent of those booking foreign travel. In 1988, Internet sales only accounted for 5 per cent of the sales in this sector. But the need for tailored services is shown in data that indicate that in-person consultations account for 17 per cent of domestic travel sales, compared to 50 per cent of foreign trips. So, while use of the Internet is growing as a means for consumers to book their leisure activities, the greatest differentiator is the level of service that is offered - preferably tailored to the needs of the particular consumer. The use of the Internet for sales is not about convenience alone; it is about giving the consumer exactly what they want, when they want it. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 28 Aug 2003
server room

Super fast Linux supercomputer goes online

The Department of Energy (DoE) powered up the US's fastest unclassified supercomputer this week, a 11.8 teraflops behemoth to be used in scientific research. Powered by 2,000 Intel Itanium2 processors HP Integrity servers running Linux, the monster system will be used for applications in the fields of environmental and molecular sciences, including chemistry, biology, climate and subsurface chemistry. The supercomputer find its home at the DoE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Based on peak performance, the PNNL machine is the fifth fastest system in the world and the fastest unclassified computer operating in the US. The PNNL system is the world's fastest supercomputer based on the Linux operating system and is the biggest machine ever built using Intel's 64-bit architecture, according to a DoE statement on the project. The PNNL supercomputer is housed in the Molecular Science Computing Facility of the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a DOE scientific user facility located at PNNL. As such, scientists from around the country can access the supercomputer for research through a competitive proposal process. The new capability will enable scientists to solve complex scientific problems more quickly than would otherwise be possible. ®
John Leyden, 28 Aug 2003

BBC news site facing extinction?

The Conservative Party's culture spokesman John Whittingdale made the BBC's annus horribilis even worse this week when he said he was "not persuaded" that a public service website was a necessary thing. This was immediately translated into "Tories to shut down BBC News website if they win election". It's a catchy headline. Plus such a move would appeal to all the UK's other media organisations who are sick of the BBC's domination of the Internet and provide the Tories with some much-needed backing. It is, however, total nonsense. Mr Whittingdale is on holiday, leaving his spokeswoman to explain the point he was making. "It is not clear why BBCi is on the Net when, by and large, the same services are provided by commercial operators," she explained. "He thinks the BBC should only provide services that no one else does." It would be political madness to have a policy to shut down arguably the best and largest news website in the world. BBC News online receives 660 million page impressions a month, with 9.1 million UK users reading it (around 30 million worldwide). Compare this with its nearest rival - Guardian Unlimited - that has 80 million page impressions a month and 7.2 million users, many from outside the UK. All other newspapers' sites are at least a third the size of the Guardian's. Despite a recent redesign that has made the site harder to use, BBC News online remains one of the most comprehensive and impressive websites that exist on the Internet. Rivals fume at its resources and public money being wasted, but costing somewhere around £10 million a year - less than one per cent of the BBC's total revenue or less than 20p a year for each UK citizen - it is extremely good value. Most of what the news site does is repackage already produced news items for use on the Web. UK citizens have already paid the production costs and for a nominal extra fee, all that information is made available instantly on the Internet. There is room for cuts though, and the BBC knows it. There are too many dedicated online staff hired to create original content of questionable value. At the end of March, it axed 100 new media staff - eight per cent of the total. More are expected to go some time this year. The real issue However, the question of the BBC News site is a red herring. What everyone, including Whittingdale, is really getting at is the £112 million spent this year on its Internet services - BBC Online. When funding for BBC Online was first approved in 1997, critics claim the director-general John Birt promised to spend no more than £21 million annually. But in 2001, the BBC spent £52.4 million; in 2002, £100.4 million. The BBC now runs 25,000 different websites covering every topic under the sun, and many people, particularly companies, feel this is a waste of public money. Why should all UK citizens be forced into paying for content that a free market is already supplying? It didn't help either when, because of its gargantuan size and bureaucracy, huge overlaps occurred in material put online. In 1998, for example, there were no less than three BBC websites dedicated to the World Cup. But BBC Online itself is just the pawn in a much larger game of media chess which includes radio, magazines and, most importantly, TV. The BBC now exists in an entirely different world to the one it was created in, yet it has changed surprisingly little. The fact that is funded by every household in the UK paying a government-decided TV "tax" of £116 every year puts it in a unique position. On the one hand it is free from all the rigours of advertisers and commercialism, but on the other hand it needs to justify what it spends the money on. This balance is struck through a Royal Charter and an accompanying Agreement between the government and BBC that outlines its autonomy and details its public obligations - in particular its famous remit to "inform, educate and entertain". You can review both at http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/charter. The first charter was created in 1927 after the then chancellor Winston Churchill unsuccessfully tried to turn it into a government body when it gave a fair account of the General Strike that he didn't like. There have been seven since then and the current 10-year charter is up for renewal on 31 December 2006. And this is the key issue. When the current charter was created in 1996, the media was on the cusp of several huge developments. The Internet was barely known, Sky (or rather BSkyB) was beginning to find its feet, Channel 5 had just been approved and widespread digital TV was on the horizon. The new charter to be agreed in 2006 will not only have to account for the previous decade's huge changes but also prescribe for the following decade. And not surprisingly, the BBC, the politicians and all the BBC's commercial competitors have different perspectives on what should be in it. The BBC knows it has to move in a more commercial direction as the reality of a television licence becomes less viable in the modern world and it has desperately trying to strike the right balance between public service and popularity. While many criticise the current director-general Greg Dyke for shifting the corporation in this direction, his appointment in 2000 could hardly have been a clearer signal of the BBC's intentions. Dyke spent almost his entire career in the commercial TV world: He was managing director of LWT, chief exec of Pearson and is on the board of the most commercially orientated football clubs in the world - Manchester United. The BBC's Internet efforts will however prove particularly contentious in the shaping of the new charter. Not only is the Internet clearly going to become a more and more important element of our lives but people are very slowly getting used to the idea of paying for Internet content. Everything that the BBC can be forced not to offer for free, can be supplied for a fee by someone else. The controversial history of BBC Online BBC Online has been provoking outrage from its very inception in September 1996. Deputy director-general Bob Phillis initially planned to use the Web to sell content. Beeb.com was a commercial company that would make £50 million a year with computer giant ICL. BBC rivals were furious and said so. But while news (pulled back under BBC control just three months later and spectacularly launched as the BBC News site a year after that) shows just how right the BBC can get the Internet, Beeb.com shows its total inability to function in a commercial Internet environment. Two years after its launch, ICL finally pulled the plug on an ailing Beeb.com. And then, two years' later in September 2000, the BBC tried again. A multi-million-pound ad campaign relaunched Beeb.com as a shopping site (and threw a huge party where, this writer remembers, possibly the world's greatest ever group of talentless ego-maniacs gathered). Investors pumped in £32.5 million. Two years later, the same story - Beeb.com was shut down and millions of pounds were written off. But the BBC, freed from constraints in this new medium and caught up in the dotcom madness, remained determined to make money from the Net. Execs discovered the cancer of brands and tried to "leverage" them. They failed. A BBC Internet service provider, Freebeeb.net was announced in 1999 on the back of the ISP boom. Millions of pounds were wasted in advertising, millions more in setting up the service. It stills exists to this day but only because the BBC doesn't want the embarrassment of shutting it down. New BBC Online head honcho Ashley Highfield then tried to make money from a commercial international news site at BBC.com, complete with advertising. It was stillborn. Then he suggested a pay-per-view online service. That was over two years ago and still nothing. November 2001 saw all BBC online content renamed BBCi. And as with all the best rebrandings, it didn't make the foggiest difference. But while the "blue sky" thinkers, execs and dotcom yuppies continued to waste millions on harebrained schemes, the company's Internet Services arm continued to expand, releasing vast quantities of free content out onto the Web. This, says critics, is a waste of money and resources. But does it "inform, educate and entertain"? Well, yes it does. Plus, the BBC argues, without the tons of information it put out on the Internet for free, would we really have seen the huge take-up in Internet access across the UK? If you remember, the government made big play of how it would encourage Net access, yet its various programmes were a complete failure. Do we have the BBC to thank for much of Britain getting online? The same is happening again now with broadband. New Labour claims it wants everyone to have it. BT has been knocked for six by demand for fast Internet access. And commercial content suppliers say it is a vicious circle that people don't want it until there is some content and they can't afford to do it unless there are enough people out there. Has Auntie come to our rescue again and broken that circle? Plus, as those inside the BBC see it, it is not the Internet that is somehow the problem here. The Internet is no-more-no-less than a medium and the BBC is simply making its products available on it. At the same time, it is pushing the boundaries by realising what can be done with the technology. How can anyone argue that having TV and radio programmes available to watch or listen to at a time of your choosing is not a good thing? Foe or foe? Hopefully these questions will form part of the review of BBC Online that the government this year and which will be carried out by ex-Trinity Mirror chief exec Philip Graf. Graf is a man who knows all about wasting money online - he lost £90 million building sites for his papers and creating an ISP. In the end, hundreds were left without jobs and the ISP's customer list was sold to an investment firm for £4.5 million. It is uncertain whether he can see the positive aspects behind expanding into the Internet. The Tories meanwhile, as the most technically inept political party, have not restricted themselves to BBC Online in their own review, headed by ex-head of Channel Five, David Elstein. Mr Elstein is on record as saying the BBC licence fee is worse than the poll tax. He is joined by David Cox - an ex-LWT exec, friend of John Birt's and a man who reportedly wrote "Fuck off Dyke and don't come back" on the current BBC director-general's leaving card when he left LWT in 1983. Mr Cox has already expressed his opinion in an article in the New Statesman. Using the wonderfully harmonious issue of class, he wrote: "Since the BBC's output is consumed disproportionately by the middle classes, the system picks the pockets of the poor to fund the pleasures of the better off." Observers have no idea how the Tories final report into the BBC will come out. And if you thought the New Labour government was a friend to the BBC, look no further than the current saga surrounding dead scientist Dr Kelly - where the Blair government went head-to-head with the corporation, sparking an almost unprecedented Hutton Inquiry. New Labour had clearly been spoiling for a fight ever since John Simpson didn't quite agree with the government line while standing under missiles in Belgrade. The left-wing bias of many BBC employees has always made it unpopular with right-wing governments. And then there's Rupert Murdoch, who is so virulently opposed to the BBC for blocking his domination efforts in the UK's TV market that the heads of his media arms spending more time attacking the BBC than they do telling people why they might be better. Often they come up with new ideas over how the BBC can be helped into the future. Tony Ball, for example, the chief exec of BSkyB. He took the opportunity of his keynote speech at the recent Edinburgh TV festival to outline his view of the BBC's future. The BBC should be forced to sell off its most popular programmes he suggested. And banned from buying any imports. Then the "cash-stuffed" organisation would put its licence fee to proper use - something that 51 per cent of people don't think is value for money. According to a poll sponsored by Sky. Greg Dyke wasn't impressed and pointed out quite fairly that Sky spends just five per cent of its revenue on original British production and treats programmes as saleable commodities rather things of inherent worth. It could also be pointed out that Sky's annual revenues are £3.1 billion, while the BBC's are £2.7 billion. And that the BBC's TV programmes, radio and Internet services cost £116 a year, whereas Sky's sole TV options vary from £300 to £500 a year. Even Channel 4 hates the BBC. At the end of last year, presenter Jon Snow asked whether the licence fee was a "healthy" idea. "I'm not sure it's healthy to have an artificial situation that's dependent on a tax," he explained, saying that because Channel 4 was poorer, it had less access to important places like Westminster. The reason behind the frustration is clear. According to the ITC, in 2002, the BBC's revenue went up by six per cent. Pay TV's revenues (including Sky) went up by four per cent. But advertising revenue, which ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five are reliant on, went down seven per cent. The BBC has more money and didn't have to work for it either. The crux of it Why is the BBC so reviled at the moment then? It is all simply a matter of envy? No. Everyone knows someone richer than themselves but if that person is polite, friendly or agreeable, it doesn't bother you. The problem is that the BBC of today is an incredibly arrogant organisation - and that gets people's backs up. As the BBC has grown more and more out of touch with the world around it, it has desperately clung to its culture. And that refusal to change has seen it faced with frustration and anger, which in turn has seen it tighten up in indignation. The National Union of Journalists recently revealed that the BBC was the worst media organisation in the UK for bullying. Numerous examples of blame culture have emerged in recent years. People from outside the organisation have been appalled by the politics and cliques within the BBC. Tales abound of petulant, unpleasant, even sadistic, producers and middle-managers lashing out to disguise their all-too-real fear of discovery. Comic of the moment Ricky Gervais said on his radio show recently that he was amazed at the number of hopeless executives within the BBC that are highly paid but don't appear to do anything. "It makes you want to wander up to them and say 'What do you actually do?'," he said. The arrogance extends throughout the organisation. While the media feeds off itself and rarely attributes where the story originally came from, the BBC is almost legendary in its belief that if it wasn't featured on the BBC no one would have heard about it and that it has no need to say where it came from. Experts and specialists are regularly asked for the benefit of their experience but the very fact it is the BBC asking is supposed to be compensation enough for their time and effort. And in the ultimate act of arrogance, if someone isn't prepared to drop everything, the BBC will remove them from a list of potential spokespeople. Unfortunately, this has led in many cases to disparate news arms of the BBC using precisely the same contacts each time. The fact that the entirety of the BBC appeared to have only source regarding the Iraq war dossiers is testament to this self-defeating approach. But Auntie is changing, slowly, gradually. The move towards more commercial programmes shows that the BBC realises the licence fee, as it is, cannot last forever. But while it is pumping out intrinsically worthless but popular programmes along the same lines as ITV, it will face the fury of commercial rivals and BBC viewers that feel cheated. Greg Dyke, to his credit, is trying to reform the BBC's culture in time for whatever comes after 2006 and inevitably this is making him a lot of enemies. Perhaps he foresees a future put forward by some of his competitors - that the public's money is put into a national pot from which public interest programmes are funded and any TV company is entitled to bid. But in the meantime, he will do everything he can to hold onto the licence fee while others try to pull it away. What will become of the BBC only time will tell. What we do know though is that a public content provider is as much a part of Britain's consciousness as the National Health Service. Both are impossible to scrap and argument along these lines should be roundly ignored. What we do need to find is a way to make their transition into the modern, competitive world as smooth and painless as possible. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Aug 2003

Open Source begünstigt Ende des EU Patentrechts

Open source prepares to kiss EU patent ass goodbye Deutsche übersetzung von Arick Hofmann Am 1. September (ursprünglich heute, dem 30. Juni 2003) wird es eine Abstimmung im Europäischen Parlament geben, der enorme Auswirkung auf den weltweiten Software-Markt hat. Abgestimmt wird, ob ein Bericht des Rechts- und Binnenmarkt-Ausschusses angenommen wird, der Richtlinien zum patentieren von Software in Übereinstimmung mit vorhandenen Gesetzen in den US und Japan empfiehlt. Es schaut so aus, als wenn trotz weit verbreiteter und tiefer Kritik der Bericht angenommen wird. Dies zieht vermutlich eine Machtverschiebung von kleinen Software-Firmen und von der Open-Source Gemeinschaft zu den großen multinationalen Konzernen nach sich. Wenn die Patente erlaubt sind, können kleine Software-Firmen sich plötzlich Patent-Klagen gegenübergestellt sehen von IBM, von Microsoft, von HP, von Sun usw. usw. Sie können dann wählen Lizenzgebühren zu zahlen, die ihre Profite schmälern, oder vor Gericht durchschnittlich 300.000 £ pro Fall aufzuwenden. Für Linux schaut es sogar noch schlechter aus. Die neue Warenzeichen-Klage der SCO gegen Linux hat bereits Tumult verursacht. Die Furcht ist, dass mit dem erlaubten Patentgesetz die Flutgatter geöffnet würden, und Linux Distributoren mit Klagen überflutet und in den Bankrott getrieben würden - mit Microsoft in vorderster Front. Wenn die Änderung durchgeht, müssen traurigerweise Jene, die am meisten gegen die Gesetzesänderung sind bei sich selbst große Mitschuld suchen - dank ihrem Versagen auf einem sehr menschlichen Niveau zu verstehen wie die Welt funktioniert, und insbesondere, wie Politiker funktionieren. Es sind Politiker, die das Gesetz formulieren, und es sind Politiker, die überzeugt werden müssen um das Gesetz in die Richtung zu bewegen, die sie wünschen. Aber, obwohl Politiker eine eigenartige und verschiedenartige Brut sind, gibt es drei Dinge, die ziemlich sicher nicht viel Einfluss auf sie ausübt: 1) IDEOLOGISCHE ARGUMENTE. Politiker sind vor allem eines: Pragmatiker. Ihr Überleben basiert auf Erkennen von woher der Wind weht und entsprechender Anpassung. 2) KLEINER-MANN-VERTEIDIGUNG. Politiker riskieren es nicht reiche und mächtige Leute und Firmen zu gefährden, es sei denn ein Grundprinzip steht auf dem Spiel: nämlich, dass die Regierung allein letztlich entscheidet. Deshalb ist die Argumentation einer mächtigen Instanz die Macht einzuschränken oder gar wegzunehmen absolut kontraproduktiv. 3) KRITIK. Politiker reagieren nicht gut auf Kritik. Tatsächlich werden sie um so störrischer je mehr sie davon erhalten. Schmeichelei ist der sicherste Weg zu ihren Herzen, also sie sich wichtig fühlen zu lassen. Wein trinkend zusammen Speisen, Zuhören, ihren tiefen Einblick loben und dann erst die eigenen Ideen ansprechen. Leider passt jedes zusammenhängende und überzeugende Argument (und davon gibt es viele) der Gegner der Änderung des Patentgesetzes genau in eines der drei obigen Kategorien, und darum werden die Patentgesetze der EU am Montag wohl geändert werden. Das Thema Patente Natürlich ist die komplexität des Themas Software-Patente nicht sonderlich hilfreich. Für jedes Argument gibt es ein gleichermaßen gutes Gegenargument. Für jede Behauptung gibt es anekdotenhafte Beweise oder logische Argumente, die sie untergräbt. Die Grundsatzfrage ist, ob Computer-Software patentiert werden kann oder sollte. Wenn ja, kann der Software-Entwickler verhindern, das irgendwer es und die Idee und/oder die Methode dahinter verwendet - es sei denn, er erteilt seine Erlaubnis dazu, was normalerweise das Zahlen einer Gebühr bedeutet. Fair genug, sagen Sie. Nur: Patente gehen ja darüber hinaus - sie können Kontrolle auf den Prozess ausüben, der Software überhaupt entstehen lässt. Ein berühmtes Beispiel ist Amazon.com und sein Ein-Klick Patent. Amazon fand es sei eine gute Idee, wenn ihre Kunden mit einem einzigen Klick auf eine Schaltfläche ein Buch kaufen könnten anstatt verschiedene Bildschirmseiten zu durchlaufen um ihre Kreditkarte, Adresse, Anlieferung usw. zu bestätigen. Es war eine sehr gute Idee, aber kaum eine herausragende Leistung der Phantasie. Das Schwierige daran war dagegen eine Software zu schreiben, die das für Sie tun würde. Sie taten es, und patentierten die Idee. Dann gingen sie vor Gericht um zu verhindern, dass ein Konkurrent das Gleiche anbot - obwohl der Code von Grund auf neu geschrieben wurde. Barnes & Noble wurde daran gehindert eine Ein-Klick Option anzubieten, bis die Beiden sich zwei Jahre später außergerichtlich einigten. Amazon hält aber nach wie vor das Patent. Patente gibt es jedoch aus einem sehr triftigen Grund. Die Hauptnutznießer von Patenten sind pharmazeutische Betriebe. Es kostet Milliarden um neue Medikamente zu entwickeln und zu prüfen, bis schließlich ein kommerziell verwertbares gefunden wird. Ohne ein Patent auf dieses Medikament würden Konkurrenten in der Lage sein die Droge zu kopieren und von der Forschung und Entwicklung der Firma zu profitieren. Es bedarf zwar keines Genies um zu forschen und entwickeln, aber ohne diesen Schutz gäbe es einfach keine neuen Medikamente mehr. Ist Software irgendwie anders? Ist Software eine solch andere Sache, dass die Verwendung derselben Gesetze, die vor langer Zeit zum Schutz umfangreicher Forschung festgelegt wurden, seiner Natur nicht gerecht wird? Dieser Streit hat jahrzehntelang gewütet. Tatsächlich ist es der Vertrag von 1973 (verbessert 1991) über die Bewilligung europäischer Patente, der gegenwärtig geändert werden soll. In diesem Vertrag steht deutlich, dass (aus dem engl. übersetzt) "Europäische Patente für alle Erfindungen bewilligt werden, die industriell anwendbar sind, neu sind, und einen erfinderischen Schritt voraussetzen" außer "(a) Entdeckungen, wissenschaftlichen Theorien und mathematischen Methoden; (b) künstlerische Werke; (c) Entwürfe, Richtlinien und Methoden geistiger Handlungen, Spielen oder geschäftliches Handeln, und Programme für Computer". Seit den neunziger Jahren jedoch hat die stark wachsende Computer und Software-Industrie zunehmenden Druck ausgeübt um das Patentrecht auch auf ihre Produkte zu erweitern. Alan Greenspan, Vorsitzender des Federal Reserve Board und folglich einer der wichtigsten Männer der Weltwirtschaft, hatte im April dieses Jahres zum Thema dieses zu sagen: "Während des letzten halben Jahrhunderts kann die Zunahme der Rohstoffpreise nur einen Bruchteil des gesamten Wachstums des US-Bruttoinlandsprodukts erklären. Das restliche Wachstum reflektiert die Integration von Ideen in Produkten und Dienstleistungen, die Verbraucher schätzen. Diese Verschiebung des Hauptgewichtes von physischem Material hin zu Ideen als dem Kern der Werte-Erzeugung scheint sich in den letzten Jahrzehnten beschleunigt zu haben." Er fuhr fort: "Wenn es unser Ziel ist Wirtschaftswachstum zu maximieren, erhalten wir dann auch ein Gleichgewicht zum Schutz der Rechte am geistigen Eigentum? Ist der Schutz umfassend genug um Innovation anzuregen ohne wiederum so weit zu reichen, dass Folge-Innovation ausbleibt? Ist dieser Schutz so unpräzise, das Ungewissheit entsteht und das Riskiokapital und die Kosten der Kapitalbeschaffung erhöht werden? Wie angemessen ist unser gegenwärtiges System - entwickelt für eine Welt in der Sachanlagen vorherrschten - für eine Wirtschaft, in der Werte in zunehmendem Maße durch Ideen anstatt durch dingliches Kapital entsteht?", Wenn Alan Greenspan keine Antwort darauf hat, verwundert es nicht, dass kein Anderer einstimmt. Der Hauptgrund jedoch, warum das Europäische Parlament das Patentrecht zu ändern sucht ist der Druck der Vereinigten Staaten. In den neunziger Jahren wurde das US-Patentrecht Jedermann und Allem vor die Füße geschleudert. Seit damals ist die Zahl der Patente hochgeschnellt und, sagen Kritiker, hat die Patentämter derart überlastet, dass Tausende von wertlosen oder falschen Patenten jedes Jahr zugeteilt werden. Dies verursacht einen zukünftigen rechtlichen Alptraum, weil Firmen Rechtsansprüche auf scheinbar völlig unterschiedliche Produkte anmelden werden. Erdnussbutter-Sandwiches Ein berühmtes Beispiel dafür ist die Bewilligung eines Patentes der Nahrungsmittelfirma Menusaver für Erdnussbutter-und-Gelee Sandwiche ohne Brotrinde im Dezember 1999. Bevor man "Iss das" sagen konnte, begannen schon Gerichtsverfahren dieser Firma gegen Albie's Foods wegen Verletzung seiner Rechte durch deren Erdnußbutter-Gelee Sandwich. ("das Eindringen der mittleren Füllung in die äußeren Brot-Schichten wird verhindert durch die umgebende Erdnussbutter" liest sich ein Teil dieses lächerlichen Patents.) Am Ende war es die Aktivität eines Mannes - Bruce Lehman -, die jeden Aspekt der modernen Welt einer Patentierung auslieferte. Als US-Beauftragter für Patente und eingetragene Warenzeichen setzte er immense Änderungen im US-Gesetz in sehr kurzer Zeit durch. Durch die Eigenheiten des Patentrechtes benötigte er keine Zustimmung des Kongresses und keinerlei Unterstützung durch Gerichte. Kritiker zeigen auf die erzwungene Schließung des 'watchdog Congressional Office of Technology Assessmen' in 1995 - vorgeblich zur Kostenersparnis - und das angebliche Schikanieren von Angestellten des Patentamts zur reibungslosen Durchsetzung dieser Änderungen. Der einzige Block gegen Lehman's Tätigkeiten kam auf als er versuchte die Kontrolle über die US Copyright Behörde von der Kongress-Bibliothek auf seine eigene Abteilung zu übertragen. Aber wie auch immer recht oder unrecht die Veränderungen der USA zu einer offenen Patentkontrolle hin sind, sie bestehen, der US Handel hat sich daran gewöhnt, und der möchte sie auch im Rest der Welt angewandt sehen. Bei einem Welthandelskongress in 1994 drohte die USA den Saal zu verlassen, wenn Andere nicht in Erwägung zögen ihr Patentrecht zu ändern. Die resultierenden 'Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights' (TRIPS) (Aspekte des Handels bei Rechten an geistigem Eigentum) geben an: "Unbenommen der Bestimmungen der Punkte 2 und 3 sollen Patente jeglichen Erfindungen zuteilbar sein, ob Produkte oder Prozesse, in allen Gebieten der Technologie, vorausgesetzt, sie sind neu, beinhalten einen erfinderischen Schritt und sind industriell anwendbar." Das Einzige, was Software daran hindern könnte dem Patentrecht auch außerhalb der USA völlig zu unterliegen war die Phrase "ein erfinderischer Schritt". Dem anhaltenden Druck nachgebend folgte Japan einfach dem US Vorbild, das Diet Oberste Gericht umgehend. Im Juni 1997 veröffentlichte die europäische Kommission ein vorläufiges Dokument, dass vorschlug das Patentrecht zu überprüfen. Es dauerte drei Jahre bis das europäische Patentamt eine neuen Version der Vereinbarung vorlegte, die die "Computerprogramm" Klausel ausließ. Und drei Jahre danach findet nun die Abstimmung darüber statt. Pros und Contras Welches sind also die Argumente, die für eine Erweiterung des Patentschutzes sprechen? Innovation, Investition und Harmonisierung der Rechtslage in der Welt. INNOVATION: Wenn Firmen ihre originale Arbeit schützen können, regt das Leute an sich um diese neue Super-App zu bemühen, darauf 20 Jahre lang Anspruch zu haben und eine Menge Geld daran zu verdienen. Ohne diesen Schutz könnte ihre Idee von Anderen gestohlen und vermarktet werden. In diesem Sinne schützen Patente nicht nur große, sondern auch kleine Firmen (1994 gewann Stac 120 Mill. Dollar von Microsoft nachdem die ihr Kompressionsprogramm in Windows einbauten). INVESTITION: Durch die Möglichkeit eine neue Erfindung zu schützen werden Firmen ermutigt Kapital in die Entwicklung neuer Ideen zu investieren. Im Fall des UK haben einige große US-Firmen sich dort niedergelassen um am dort reichen Talent-Pool teilzuhaben. HARMONISIERUNG: Offensichtlich kann viel mehr Gewinn geschöpft werden, wenn Patente weltweite Geltung haben, als wenn in jedem einzelnen Land dafür gekämpft werden muss. Ökonomie der Größe. Alle diese drei Argumente sind simpel, schnell erläutert und Politikern instinktiv verständlich. Die Gegenargumente sind komplexer. Auch basieren sie auf vorausgesagten Gegebenheiten - "was ist wahrscheinlich wenn". Das bei Weitem stärkste Argument ist, das Software durch Aufbau auf andere Software funktioniert. Dies ist gewisslich wahr und verleiht enormes Gewicht der Feststellung, dass Software-Patente Innovationen unterdrücken werden, weil man belastet wird von der Sorge Anderen nicht auf die Füße zu treten. Aspekte von Software zu patentieren zerbricht genau den Prozess, der Software entstehen lässt. Ein anderes sehr starkes Argument, dass kaum Verwendung gefunden hat, ist der riesige Erfolg von öffentlichen, patent- und lizenzfreien Standards. Wenn es je ein Gegenargument gab gegen den Innovationsanspruch großer Konzerne, ist es, dass das Internet so erfolgreich ist, weil keine Beschränkungen oder Patente darauf bestanden. Hierdurch ist es enorm gewachsen, hat neue Märkte entstehen lassen und hat Allen zum Vorteil gedient. Eine falsche Vorstellung, die beide Seiten als Argument nutzten, ist, dass es unmöglich sei in der EU Software patentieren zu lassen. Das stimmt nicht. Wenn der "erfinderische Schritt" aufgezeigt werden kann, ist Software patentierbar - Tatsächlich existieren 13.000 EU-Softwarepatente. Ein Beweis für das funktionierende EU-Patentrecht, behauptet die anti-Patent Gruppe. Ein Beweis dafür, sagt das pro-Patent Aufgebot, dass das Gesetz verwirrend ist und ausgeräumt werden sollte. Leider passen alle weiteren Argumente wiederum in die anfangs aufgezählten drei Kategorien: 1) IDEOLOGISCHE ARGUMENTE: Betrachten wir Richard Stallman. Während er einen sehr überzeugenden und unterhaltsamen Auftritt hat, wird die Ideologie, die er leidenschaftlich vertritt nie eines Politikers Meinung ändern. Zwanzig-Jahres-Patente sind zu lang (Wo war der Computer vor 20 Jahren?) Wie kann man nur eine Idee patentieren? Regierungen hören nicht auf die Meinungen der Bevölkerung. Das System ist zu kompliziert. Wie können wir open-source nicht unterstützen? 2) KLEINER-MANN-VERTEIDIGUNG: Kleine Betriebe können sich nicht gegen patentrechtliche Klagen wehren. Große Firmen haben Patent-Teilungs-Vereinbarungen untereinander, aber schließen alle kleinen Leute aus. Kleiner Mann versteht das alles nicht. Kleiner Mann kann sich ein Patent nicht leisten. Große Firmen werden einfach versuchen kleine Konkurrenz auszuschalten. Bei all diesen Argumenten wird ein Politiker wahrscheinlich denken: "Tja, es ist halt eine ziemlich harte Welt da draußen". Die Wahrheit ist, das Geschäftsleben aus Cut-and-Push besteht, und dass die meisten anti-Patent Argumente den Status Quo attackieren oder große "Missbrauchs-" Firmen einschränken wollen. Aber große Firmen haben ihren Wert darin unter Beweis gestellt, dass sie Millionen von Produkten herstellen können und sie breit gefächert anderen Betrieben anbieten. Idealisten und Klein-Programmierer haben das nicht getan - warum sollten also deren Argumente selbst einen Bruchteil des Gewichts erhalten? Es war diese Reaktion gegenüber kleinen Software Herstellern und im Besonderen der Open-Source Gemeinschaft, die diese einzigartige Internet-Reaktion hervorrufen ließ mit lauter Dingen, die Leute nicht mögen: Schwere Kritik und Missbrauch. Die Vorsitzende der Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee, Arlene McCarthy - genau die Person, dessen Meinung äußerste Bedeutung hat - wurde von der anti-Patent, pro-Linux Lobby zu einer Hass-Figur gemacht. Anstatt ihr ihre Sichtweise zuzugestehen, oder einen Versuch zu unternehmen sie zu verstehen und dann davon zu überzeugen versuchen sie könne unrecht haben, wurde sie mit einer undurchdringlichen Wand der Kritik konfrontiert. Sie haben unrecht, wir haben recht, wurde ihr gesagt. "Sie wiederholt nur die gleichen Argumente, wir haben ihr Massen an E-Mails zugesandt die aufzeigen, wo sie einen Fehler macht aber sie kam noch nicht einmal wieder auf uns zu!" Hunderte von Webseiten haben gebrüllt. Zahlreiche Artikel sind in der Presse erschienen, die beschreiben wie das Kommitee eine falsche Entscheidung trifft. Eine Lobbyisten-Konferenz wurde in Brüssel abgehalten in der, umgeben von Leuten, die sowieso schon gleicher Meinung waren, die anti-Patent-Lobby umhereilte, sich gegenseitig auf die Schulter klopfend für ein gut gelungenes Argument. Aber Arlene McCarthy und Andere, die "noch nicht mal zuhören" wurden nicht eingeladen. Noch wurde ihnen Gelegenheit gegeben Ihre Sichtweise darzustellen. Und so, dies im Auge, mit zwei Gruppen in Auseinandersetzung, aber Eine davon ihren Blickpunkt zu erklären versuchend und die Andere Missbrauch schreiend (Die Erstere das ganze Geld und den Einfluss habend), was glauben Sie, wie Arlene McCarthy und das Kommitee sich entschied? 19 Stimmen zu 9, mit einer Enthaltung. Die Tatsache bleibt bestehen, dass einige starke Argumente gegen die Ausweitung des Patentrechts nicht vorgebracht wurden oder im Streben nach berechtigter Empörung vergessen wurden. Wenn zum Beispiel es Arlene McCarthy erklärt worden wäre, dass das Ändern der Regeln mehr Probleme entstehen lässt als es löst; dass 13.000 existierende Patente effektiv ausgelöscht würden, dabei europäische Unternehmen gefährdend; dass Innovation und Geschäft durch teure Rechtsstreitigkeiten erstickt werden; dass allein die Existenz der Open-Source Bewegung darauf hindeutet, dass Software ein Sonderfall ist, in dem Zusammenarbeit effektiver ist als Protektionismus; dass europäische Unternehmen im Ergebnis schlechter dastehen werden, weil US-Firmen die Mehrzahl an Patenten innehat sowie das Patent Know-How... Tja, dann hätten wir vielleicht einfach ein anderes Ergebnis. ®
Team Register, 28 Aug 2003

Sun gives Solaris x86 a nudge with new test suite

Not too long ago, Sun Microsystems had a confused relationship with its version of Solaris for Intel and AMD chips, but these days company staffers plug the OS every chance they get. The latest addition to the Solaris x86 fest is a hardware certification test suite (HCTS) that Sun will give to ISVs, device makers, OEMs and end users for free. The test takes about one day to run on a pair of servers and qualifies x86 kit as Solaris 9 compatible. Sun's obvious goal here is to expand the list of supported hardware for Solaris x86, and it has pledged to service and support any hardware that passes the test. Sun once made the mistake of relegating Solaris x86 to the position of a neglected platform. Sources indicate that a variety of internal squabbles about the cost of maintaining the OS and the rise of Linux led to this decision. The user outcry, however, was so profound that Sun decided to bring the OS back with better support than ever before. Unix fans everywhere rejoiced. Sun is looking to prop up its Linux business, but doesn't deny its preference for Solaris. The company bills Solaris x86 as the most mature, secure and reliable OS available for Intel and AMD hardware. Over the past four months, 250,000 users have registered a copy of Solaris x86. This adds to millions of downloads in the last couple of years. Sun also boasts 1,000 applications for the OS, 100 new supported third-party systems and 100 new components - all HCTS certified. Despite this momentum, you don't see a lot of customer win announcements coming out from Sun for Solaris x86. Marketing teams salivate when a customer win release hits the wire, so this is cause for concern. If there is so much Solaris x86 action, why aren't we hearing about it? Sun's official position is that some deals will be announced at its Sun Network conference next month. The customers are there; they just don't like to talk publicly about their OS decisions. What would be even more impressive is a deal with a major OEM. Dell, for example, has admitted to having a modest Solaris x86 business. With Sun's new found love for the OS, it could conceivably tempt a rival to give Solaris x86 a shot, and executives have hinted a deal with a Dell or IBM may be in the works. We have our doubts. While large hardware makers such as IBM do a lot of business on Solaris, they have little to gain by promoting Sun's OS over Linux. Should a customer make a large order for custom machines, IBM or HP's services organizations will rush to make the deal go through. But they will not become a major HCTS user. With that reality in mind, Sun has turned to Electronic Business Solutions (EBS) and Xoriant for help. EBS will begin qualifying and supporting HP's Proliant servers with Solaris x86. Xoriant will help customers go through the certification process for a wide range of hardware. Taking a peek over the certified hardware list, it's clear that laptops are a major point of interest for Solaris x86 users. What Unix admin doesn't enjoy bringing some work home? The server list still runs a tad thin. The top level certification or "Sun certified" chart shows five systems. Three of these are Sun's own x86 kit of which one is the LX50 - a box Sun no longer sells. Surprise, surprise, there is Dell's PowerEdge 2650 ready to go as well. The second level or Test Suite certified list has nine servers from the likes of Dell, Intel, RackSaver, IBM and HP. The Reported to Work list has close to twenty more boxes. We'll keep an eye on this site over the next few months to see how well the HCTS helps push things along. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Aug 2003

Intel to talk up Itanium present, future at IDF

The Fall Intel Developer Forum is approaching, and a couple of speculative Itanium tidbits have fluttered into our inbox just in the nick of time. With the Madison launch already passed, Intel will be hard pressed to find some Itanic news to keep IDF attendees happy. The vendor, however, does have to put on a good show and instill confidence that this decade old 64bit experiment is still alive and kicking. Always marching forward. That's the Intel way. Intel has hinted that Deerfield - the low voltage Itanium 2 - is set for release in the third quarter. The chip is to run at 1GHz with a 1.5MB L3 cache and a low 62 watt power envelope. Unlike its scorching compatriot Madison, Deerfield's power-friendly features make it well suited for thin one- and two-processor servers. Oddly enough, OEMs have tended to pick Madison for their future blade designs. With the third quarter coming to a close, Intel will likely use IDF to say that Deerfield has started shipping or will do so by the end of September. The company's server chief Mike Fister will gloat about more OEMs picking up the chip and the wide range of systems that Itanic can power. Intel has been forced to ignore the shocking Q1 Itanium shipment numbers from IDC that showed chip sales declining instead of ramping as planned. By the time IDF kicks off, IDC should have released a new set of figures for Q2 that include Madison sales. With any luck, the numbers will be good enough for Fister to hold up on stage. When not using his usual backwoods tone to describe the current state of the Itanic, Fister will likely turn to the chip's future - Tanglewood. After having a nice run of Tanglewood exclusives, we suspect Intel will put an end to The Register-only affair and make the processor public. As reported before, Tanglewood is set for release in 2007 as a true multicore processor. Intel has said Tanglewood will run 10 times faster than McKinley. It's doubtful that Fister will do more than acknowledge Tanglewood's existence. Fister will, of course, throw in a couple of his signature "nices," "groovies," and "neats" to describe the chip, but that is all. Don't expect details. You are probably better served by looking at Mr. Tanglewood's past than listening to Fister's marketing drivel. It is, however, important in and of itself for Intel to admit to Tanglewood. The company is looking woefully behind in the multicore processor game. Yes, Itanium screams on benchmarks, but it appears that a honking general purpose server processor is not the way to go. Multicore chips surrounded by lots of memory and able to handle many software threads may put a dent in Intel's performance lead. Intel will not release the dual-core Montecito chip until 2005, and we hear it's not what you would call an elegant design. Tanglewood, however, is. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Aug 2003

Segway riders get high on Mount Washington

Segway owners can now proudly say that one of their own has climbed a mountain, after a circus clown dressed as a butler pulled off the feat earlier today. Rob Owen, a retired clown, and two other riders surged up Mount Washington at 12.5 mph, the AP reports. It took the Segway riders two and half hours to complete the 7.6 mile endurance test. The team used six batteries, fought off 50 mph winds and battled bitter cold to reach the 6,288-foot mountain summit. All of which begs the question, why not buy a motorbike? This latest episode adds to a string of odd scooter-related events, including the capture of a Segway thief and the troubling rise of bloggers on wheels. Segway owners will stop at nothing to make their $5,000 investment pay off. It remains unclear as to why Owen dressed up like a butler for the epic ride up Mount Washington. It surely won't help reduce the ridicule he receives from neighbors and friends. Perhaps he felt it lent a bit of dignity to the affair. "Winds were gusting from all sides and I had to stay down, just like skiing," Dick Norris, 69, a train conductor and fellow rider told the AP. "It’s like doing a boogie dance the whole time. You’re using your muscles all the time. "I’m going to be sore tonight." Dick's pain and effort won't go without reward. In addition to the obvious glory and inevitable fame associated with riding a scooter, Dick and his two companions will receive a bumper sticker. The sticker reads, "This Segway climbed Mount Washington" and can now be proudly displayed on their, um, car. ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Aug 2003