6th > October > 2003 Archive

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ERP users in Europe want Oracle to back off Peoplesoft merger

Users of both Peoplesoft and JD Edwards ERP packages dread a takeover by Oracle in Europe. An ERP survey, completed last month shows that as many as 95% of customers do not want Oracle's bid for Peoplesoft to succeed. The shocking hostility to the merger proposal was uncovered in a general ERP survey conducted by market research firm Rethink Research Associates, which brought together the results this week, interviewing 100 CIOs, evenly spread over Germany, France, the UK and Northern Europe. Over 40% of the sample were customers of either Peoplesoft and JD Edwards and they were vehemently against the Oracle deal going through. However the JD Edwards users were equally scathing about their own supplier, with over half of them unhappy at their choice of supplier and hoping that life under Peoplesoft is going to be an improvement. Peoplesoft customers had one of the highest satisfaction scores of all the ERP suppliers across Europe, with over 60% saying that they would go out and buy Peoplesoft software all over again, no questions asked. Ironically Oracle had the least satisfied ERP customers. SAP and Oracle customers are equivocal on the topic, with roughly half of each in favour of the Oracle deal and half of them against it. But only 1 from 100 ERP customers in Europe thinks that no merger at all should have happened, so clearly the leading CIOs in Europe know that consolidation is inevitable in order to improve their product range and quality of service. Other conclusions from the report are that customers in general failed to find the benefits they were looking for when they signed up for ERP, with top of the wish list being improved control over their business and gaining a clearer picture of which business activities are profitable. Almost none of the respondents felt that they had achieved full profit visibility through ERP. Related Research Buy this survey from The Reg Research store, click here Get the News IS Weekly Newsletter, click here
News IS, 06 Oct 2003

IT spending shifts to business continuity, services

A major new survey, detailing future European IT spending plans, has dealt a major body blow to Linux, showing that it is nowhere on CIO radar screens, relegated to being a low urgency "tactical" purchase. Instead European CIOs put business continuity and disaster recovery in pride of place, with 53% saying that they MUST act on it soon. These are just some of the results from a survey of CIOs across Europe by new research outfit Rethink Research Associates. CIO Business Spending Priorities – Trends 2004 also covers spending plans in, mobile, ERP, CRM, SCM, and SANs, but found perversely that none of the senior managers care whether or not they install Linux, nor when they install Windows 2003. Linux is completely overlooked by senior IT management, while Windows 2003 will be embraced, but not quite yet. Across Europe outsourcing is expected to suddenly pick up too with 65% of respondents planning to outsource some or all of their IT department and two thirds of those wanting to do it in a hurry. And if you run an outsourcing company, head for France, because there the outsourcing mania is cited by as many as 85% of CIOs. ERP systems are set to begin receiving upgrades and this is also the year when Mobility is finally going to come to the Enterprise user in Europe due to constant internal pressure. As for business confidence generally, over half of the respondents (53%) believe the business performance of their own vertical market is improving in 2003, and while the optimism is spread across different sectors, there are marked national differences. These range from 81% of UK panellists who can see improvement in their market, to 35% taking an optimistic view in France and Benelux. Related Research Get this survey from The Reg research store, click here Get the News IS Weekly Newsletter, click here
News IS, 06 Oct 2003

Invisible Networks goes titsup

Wireless broadband outfit Invisible Networks has gone titsup after running out of cash and failing to find a buyer. Without any money to pay for the leased lines that support IN's wireless broadband communities the company has warned its customers that their services are likely to be switched off "within a very short period of time". A last ditch bid to sell the company failed with insiders claiming that the company's debt problem proving to be too much of an obstacle. In an email to customers boss Richard Nuttall said: "Over the past month or so the company has been experiencing cash flow difficulties and the directors have taken professional advice on restructuring the company. "As part of this process we have sought a buyer for the business and assets as a going concern, but regrettably have heard today from the last remaining interested party that they will not be making a bid. "The company is insolvent and cannot continue to trade and in accordance with professional advice the directors have today instructed business rescue and insolvency specialists McTear Williams and Wood to assist to place the company into Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation," it said. No one at the Cambridge-based insolvency outfit was available for comment at the time of writing. In August, IN shed half it jobs as part of a restructuring process which, the company said, was due to the "changing demands of projects" it was working on. At the time the company said that the restructuring had enabled it to "refocus its expertise" and that it was now in a "strong position to grow and move forward in a fast-expanding industry". ® Related Stories Invisible Networks confirms restructuring Invisible Networks confirms job losses
Tim Richardson, 06 Oct 2003

AMD to ship Athlon 64s as mobile XPs?

AMD's plan to market desktop 64-bit Athlon 64 chips as 32-bit Athlon XP chips has been the subject of much speculation for some time. But it now appears that the company may use the same trick with mobile processors, too. According to a story on French-language site x86 Secret, a mobile chip codenamed 'Dublin' will join desktop CPUs 'Paris' and 'Victoria' in offering 256KB of on-die L2 cache. It supports PowerNow and will be fabbed at 130nm using silicon-on-insulator technology. Like Paris and Victoria, it will feature an integrated memory controller and single HyperTransport link. It will be a 754-pin device. But it's not an AMD64 processor. Or at least it won't be sold as one. Essentially, the chip will be limited to operate in the Hammer architecture's 32-bit, legacy mode. Whether that's because AMD is utilising chips that have manufacturing glitches that cause the chip to fail in 64-bit mode, have only 256KB of operable cache, or have been deliberately set to operate only in 32-bit mode isn't know. Since we wrote about Paris and Victoria before, a number of Reg readers expressed their concern that such a tactic was somehow an act of cheating customers on AMD's part. We disagree. Hammer was always designed as AMD's next-generation architecture and to provide better 32-bit performance than the previous generation, which shipped under the Athlon XP brand. If AMD can leverage its production to offer better 32-bit XPs and 64-bit Athlon 64s from the same wafers, that enhances the company's yields, reduces the number of different dies it has to produce and cuts the number of Socket formats mobo makers need to support. The upshot is better financial returns, which is good for the company and for its supporters. It's already doing the same thing, re-branding Opteron 100s as Athlon 64 FXs, and Clawhammers as both desktop and mobile Athlon 64s. But why pay more for an Athlon 64 when I can get a Dublin or Paris Athlon XP for less money? Because you almost certainly won't be able to re-enable either the full 1MB of cache or the 64-bit extensions. As in most aspects of life, you get what you pay for. Of course, if some clever so-and-so discovers that you can enable these features with stability, then AMD will have cocked up, big time. Dublin is due to sample during Q1 2004 before going into full-scale production in the middle of the year. If the claims regarding the cut-down nature of the chip is accurate - the Hammer architecture is modular, so AMD could simply be offering a new die with the AMD64 components removed rather than selling otherwise useless Athlon 64s - sampling ties in with the anticipated full-volume availability of the Athlon 64. Paris is due to ship during Q1 2004 too. Dublin may also be pitched as the low-power alternative to the Mobile Athlon 64. AMD has promised new mobile chips next year which will extend AMD64 into the thin'n'light notebook market. It's not hard to imagine that Dublin is a 32-bit version of one of these chips, just as Paris is the 32-bit version of the current Athlon 64. ® Related Story AMD to ship Athlon 64s as Athlon XPs
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

Intel ships fastest two-way Xeon

UpdateUpdate Intel has extended its Xeon dual-processor server chip line to 3.2GHz, up from 3.06GHz, the chip giant said today. The chip operates across a 533MHz effective bit-rate frontside bus and sports 1MB of L3 cache. Presumably there's 512KB of L2 cache in there too. Intel is asking $851 for the 32-bit chip, when sold in 1000-unit quantities, rather more than the $794 AMD is asking for its 64-bit, 1MB L2 Opteron 246. The two processors are aimed at the same general-purpose server and digital content creation workstation markets. The 3.2GHz Xeon is available now. ® Related Story Intel cuts Centrino prices
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

Intel cuts Centrino prices

Intel yesterday cut the prices of its Pentium M mobile processors, as anticipated. The prices of the processors themselves fell by up to 34 per cent. Intel also cut the prices of Centrino packages, which bundle the Pentium M, i855 chipset and WirelessPro 802.11b WLAN adaptor, by up to 30 per cent. The cut paves the way for the arrival of the second-generation Pentium M, codenamed 'Dothan' later this year. Intel is expected to cut the prices of its Mobile Pentium 4 chips on 26 October. ® Title Processor Prev. Price New Price Change 1.7GHz Pentium M $637 $423 -34% 1.6GHz Pentium M $423 $294 -31% 1.5GHz Pentium M $294 $241 -18% 1.4GHz Pentium M $241 $209 -12% 1.7GHz Centrino (855GM chipset) $713 $497 -30% 1.7GHz Centrino (855PM chipset) $708 $494 -30% 1.6GHz Centrino (855GM chipset) $499 $368 -26% 1.6GHz Centrino (855PM chipset) $494 $365 -26% 1.5GHz Centrino (855GM chipset) $370 $315 -15% 1.5GHz Centrino (855PM chipset) $365 $312 -15% 1.4GHz Centrino (855GM chipset) $317 $283 -11% 1.4GHz Centrino (855PM chipset) $312 $280 -10% 1.3GHz Centrino (855GM chipset) $285 $283 -1% 1.2GHz Low Voltage/Utra-low Voltage Centrino (855GM chipset) $360 $358 -1% 1.1GHz Low Voltage/Utra-low Voltage Centrino (855GM chipset) $338 $336 -1% 1.0GHz Low Voltage/Utra-low Voltage Centrino (855GM chipset) $338 $336 -1% 900MHz Low Voltage/Utra-low Voltage Centrino (855GM chipset) $317 $315 -1%
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

Linux vs. Windows Viruses

OpinionOpinion To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it, writes SecurityFocus columnist Scott Granneman. We've all heard it many times when a new Microsoft virus comes out. In fact, I've heard it a couple of times this week already. Someone on a mailing list or discussion forum complains about the latest in a long line of Microsoft email viruses or worms and recommends others consider Mac OS X or Linux as a somewhat safer computing platform. In response, another person named, oh, let's call him "Bill," says, basically, "How ridiculous! The only reason Microsoft software is the target of so many viruses is because it is so widely used! Why, if Linux or Mac OS X was as popular as Windows, there would be just as many viruses written for those platforms!" Of course, it's not just "regular folks" on mailing lists who share this opinion. Businesspeople have expressed similar attitudes ... including ones who work for anti-virus companies. Jack Clarke, European product manager at McAfee, said, "So we will be seeing more Linux viruses as the OS becomes more common and popular." Mr. Clarke is wrong. Sure, there are Linux viruses. But let's compare the numbers. According to Dr. Nic Peeling and Dr Julian Satchell's Analysis of the Impact of Open Source Software (note: the link is to a 135 kb PDF file): "There are about 60,000 viruses known for Windows, 40 or so for the Macintosh, about 5 for commercial Unix versions, and perhaps 40 for Linux. Most of the Windows viruses are not important, but many hundreds have caused widespread damage. Two or three of the Macintosh viruses were widespread enough to be of importance. None of the Unix or Linux viruses became widespread - most were confined to the laboratory." So there are far fewer viruses for Mac OS X and Linux. It's true that those two operating systems do not have monopoly numbers, though in some industries they have substantial numbers of users. But even if Linux becomes the dominant desktop computing platform, and Mac OS X continues its growth in businesses and homes, these Unix-based OS's will never experience all of the problems we're seeing now with email-borne viruses and worms in the Microsoft world. Why? Why are Linux and Mac OS X safer? First, look at the two factors that cause email viruses and worms to propagate: social engineering, and poorly designed software. Social engineering is the art of conning someone into doing something they shouldn't do, or revealing something that should be kept secret. Virus writers use social engineering to convince people to do stupid things, like open attachments that carry viruses and worms. Poorly designed software makes it easier for social engineering to take place, but such software can also subvert the efforts of a knowledgable, security-minded individual or organization. Together, the two factors can turn a single virus incident into a widespread disaster. Let's look further at social engineering. Windows software is either executable or not, depending on the file extension. So if a file ends with ".exe" or ".scr", it can be run as a program (yes, of course, if you change a text file's extension from ".txt" to ".exe", nothing will happen, because it's not magically an executable; I'm talking about real executable programs). It's easy to run executables in the Windows world, and users who get an email with a subject line like "Check out this wicked screensaver!" and an attachment, too often click on it without thinking first, and bang! we're off to the races and a new worm has taken over their systems. Even worse, Microsoft's email software is able to infect a user's computer when they do something as innocuous as read an email! Don't believe me? Take a look at Microsoft Security Bulletins MS99-032, MS00-043, MS01-015, MS01-020, MS02-068, or MS03-023, for instance. Notice that's at least one for the last five years. And though Microsoft's latest versions of Outlook block most executable attachments by default, it's still possible to override those protections. This sort of social engineering, so easy to accomplish in Windows, requires far more steps and far greater effort on the part of the Linux user. Instead of just reading an email (... just reading an email?!?), a Linux user would have to read the email, save the attachment, give the attachment executable permissions, and then run the executable. Even as less sophisticated users begin to migrate to Linux, they may not understand exactly why they can't just execute attachments, but they will still have to go through the steps. As Martha Stewart would say, this is a good thing. Further, due to the strong community around Linux, new users will receive education and encouragement in areas such as email security that are currently lacking in the Windows world, which should help to alleviate any concerns on the part of newbies. Further, due to the strong separation between normal users and the privileged root user, our Linux user would have to be running as root to really do any damage to the system. He could damage his /home directory, but that's about it. So the above steps now become the following: read, save, become root, give executable permissions, run. The more steps, the less likely a virus infection becomes, and certainly the less likely a catastrophically spreading virus becomes. And since Linux users are taught from the get-go to never run as root, and since Mac OS X doesn't even allow users to use the root account unless they first enable the option, it's obvious the likelihood of email-driven viruses and worms lessens on those platforms. Unfortunately, running as root (or Administrator) is common in the Windows world. In fact, Microsoft is still engaging in this risky behavior. Windows XP, supposed Microsoft's most secure desktop operating system, automatically makes the first named user of the system an Administrator, with the power to do anything he wants to the computer. The reasons for this decision boggle the mind. With all the lost money and productivity over the last decade caused by countless Microsoft-borne viruses and worms, you'd think the company could have changed its procedures in this area, but no. Even if the OS has been set up correctly, with an Administrator account and a non-privileged user account, things are still not copasetic. On a Windows system, programs installed by a non-Administrative user can still add DLLs and other system files that can be run at a level of permission that damages the system itself. Even worse, the collection of files on a Windows system - the operating system, the applications, and the user data - can't be kept apart from each other. Things are intermingled to a degree that makes it unlikely that they will ever be satisfactorily sorted out in any sensibly secure fashion. The final reason why social engineering is easier in the Windows world is also an illustration of the dangers inherent in any monoculture, whether biological or technological. In the same way that genetic diversity in a population of living creatures is desirable because it reduces the likelihood that an illness - like a virus - will utterly wipe out every animal or plant, diversity in computing environments helps to protect the users of those devices. Linux runs on many architectures, not just Intel, and there are many versions of Linux, many packaging systems, and many shells. But most obvious to the end user, Linux mail clients and address books are far from standardized. KMail, Mozilla Mail, Evolution, pine, mutt, emacs ... the list goes on. It's simply not like the Windows world, in which Microsoft's email programs - Outlook and Outlook Express - dominate. In the Windows world, a virus writer knows how the monoculture operates, so he can target his virus, secure in the knowledge that millions of systems have the same vulnerability. A virus targeted to a specific vulnerability in Evolution, on the other hand, might affect some people, but not everyone using Linux. The growth of the Microsoft monoculture in computing is a dangerous thing for users of Microsoft products, but also for all computing users, who suffer the consequences of disasters in that environment, such as wasted network resources, dangers to national security, and lost productivity (note: the link is to a 880 kb PDF file). Now that we've looked at the social engineering side of things, let's examine software design for reasons why Linux (and Mac OS X) is better designed than Microsoft when it comes to email security. Microsoft continually links together its software, often not for technical reasons, but instead for marketing or business development reasons (see the previous link for corroboration). For instance, Outlook Express and Outlook both use the consistently-buggy Internet Explorer to view HTML-based emails. As a result, a hole in IE affects OE. Linux email readers don't indulge in such behavior, with two exceptions: Mozilla Mail uses the Gecko engine that powers Mozilla to view HTML-based email, while KMail relies on the KHTML engine that the Konqueror browser uses. Fortunately, both Mozilla and the KDE Project have excellent records when it comes to security. Further, the email programs themselves are designed to act in a more secure manner. The default behavior of the email program I prefer - KMail - is to not load external references in messages, such as pictures and Web bugs, and to not display HTML. When an HTML-based email shows up in my Inbox, I see only the HTML code, and a message appears at the top of the email: "This is an HTML message. For security reasons, only the raw HTML code is shown. If you trust the sender of this message then you can activate formatted HTML display for this message by clicking here." But even after I activate the HTML, certain dynamic elements that can be introduced in an HTML-based email - like Java, Javascript, plugins and even the "refresh" META tag - do not display, and cannot even be enabled in KMail. Finally, if there is an attachment, it does not automatically run ... ever. Instead, I have to click it, and when I do, I get a dialog box offering me three options: "Save As ..." (the default), "Open With ...", and "Cancel". If I have mapped a file type to a specific program - for instance, I have associated PDFs with the PS/PDF Viewer, then "Open With ..." instead says "Open", and if I choose "Open", then the file opens in the PS/PDF Viewer. However, in either case, the dialog box always contains a warning advising the user that attachments can compromise security. This is all good, very good. For all these reasons, even if a few individuals got infected with a virus due to extremely foolish behavior, it's unlikely the virus would spread to other machines. Unlike Sobig.F, which is the fastest spreading virus ever, a Linux-based Virus would fizzle out quickly. Windows is an inviting petri dish for viruses and worms, while Linux is a hostile environment for such nasties. Some caveats There is one Linux distribution that is ignoring many years of common sense, good design, and an awareness of secure operating environments in favor of a Microsoft-like deprecation of security before the nebulous term "ease of use": Lindows. By default, Lindows runs the user of the system as root (and it even encourages the user to forgo setting up a root password during installation by labeling it as "optional"!), an unbelievably shortsighted decision that results in a Linux box with the same security as a Windows 9.x machine. If you go to the Lindows Web site, they state that it is possible to add other, non-privileged users, but nowhere in the operating system do they advocate adding these other users. Yet they claim their distribution of Linux is secure! In an effort to emulate Microsoft and make things "easy", they have compromised the security of their users, an unforgivable action. No one in the field of security, or even IT, can recommend Lindows while such a blatant disregard for security is the norm for the OS. Yet some Linux machines definitely need anti-virus software. Samba or NFS servers, for instance, may store documents in undocumented, vulnerable Microsoft formats, such as Word and Excel, that contain and propagate viruses. Linux mail servers should run AV software in order to neutralize viruses before they show up in the mailboxes of Outlook and Outlook Express users. Security is, as we all know, a process, not a product. So when you use Linux, you're not using a perfectly safe OS. There is no such thing. But Linux and Mac OS X establish a more secure footing than Microsoft Windows, one that makes it far harder for viruses to take hold in the first place, but if one does take hold, harder to damage the system, but if one succeeds in damaging the system, harder to spread to other machines and repeat the process. When it comes to email-borne viruses and worms, Linux may not be completely immune - after all, nothing is immune to human gullibility and stupidity - but it is much more resistant. To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it. I know which one I'll trust. How about you? Copyright © 2003, Scott Granneman is a senior consultant for Bryan Consulting Inc. in St. Louis. He specializes in Internet Services and developing Web applications for corporate, educational, and institutional clients. The Register Virus News Channel
Scott Granneman, 06 Oct 2003

118 services fail to refund

BT is splashing out £3 million on a new ad campaign in a bid to win back customers to its directory enquiries (DQ) service. The monster telco reckons that it can elbow its way back into the market as long as it focuses on accuracy and speed - two areas it reckons it's got the competition licked. But according to a report by the Mail on Sunday, BT isn't quite so hot at issuing refunds when it gets things wrong. Along with five other DQ operators, the report claims that the monster telco is failing to follow industry guidelines and give people refunds when it dishes out a wrong number. The report claims that punters are being cheated out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by DQ operators. A BT spokesman told the paper: "If they ask for a refund we will give them one - but it's up to them to ask." But this is well out of line, according to a spokesman for the premium rate watchdog, ICSTIS. He told The Register this morning: "If people have a complaint then they should be offered a refund automatically - they shouldn't have to ask for a refund." Elsewhere, the Financial Times reports that MPs are to quiz telecoms regulator OFTEL over its handling of the deregulation of DQ services. Last week Oftel and ICSTIS held an emergency meeting with execs at The Number (118 118) following complaints about the service. ® Related Stories 118 118 ticked off by regulators BT and 118 888 clash in 'half price' slogan row 118 888 boss quits Directory enquiries calls in free fall post 118 - BT 192 switch-off not cheaper for punters
Tim Richardson, 06 Oct 2003

HP Europe resellers desperately ‘seeking new vendors’

In September 2001, channel research house Context polled European resellers for their opinion of what HP would be like following a takeover of Compaq. Two years on, the company has revisited those resellers with the same questions. The outcome is somewhat different. In September 2003, Context asked 467 European dealers how the merger had affected them. Here's the summary: In September 2001, 75% of resellers polled said the merger would result in a new HP that was "stronger". Today, 49 per cent believe this to be the case. 15 per cent of resellers reported customer reaction as "positive" on news of the merger; 29% are now said to be "positive" to the reality. Only 18 per cent of resellers polled in September 2001 said they were considering selling other vendors' products; 46 per cent say they are now actively doing so. . "There's little doubt that what European resellers expected two years ago is quite different from their reality today," says Jeremy Davies, Context senior partner. "Few expected HP to drive change in Europe as hard as they have. The result is a new HP that dominates Europe's channel and accounts for over 35% of the business today." So the good news for HP is that more customers are positive about the merger than before. The bad news is that this is still only 29 per cent of the customer base. Of some concern must be the reaction of their resellers. HP wants to squeeze as much cost out of the reseller chain to compete toe-to-toe with Dell. It does not need to compete hard for the business of resellers, now that Compaq is in the fold. It should come then as no surprise that dealers are actively seeking new vendors: no business would want 35 per cent of their hardware revenues tied up with a single supplier. But what about the fall in the number of resellers (from 74 per cent to 49 per cent) who think that HP is stronger following the merger. This is not encouraging. ®
Drew Cullen, 06 Oct 2003

David Bedford gets the hump over 118 118 ads

The Number - whose ads featuring two moustachioed 1970s-style runners have been elevated to cult status - are facing legal action from former British athlete David Bedford. Mr Bedford has written to the directory enquiries (DQ) outfit demanding compensation after he alleged that The Number had ripped off his image without his permission. A spokesman for The Number confirmed that legal letters had been exchanged but stated that it had not been served with a writ. "The allegations are ridiculous," the spokesman told The Register. "We did not model the image [of the joggers] on David Bedford." Instead, he explained that The Number wanted a "1970s retro style" and actually loosely based its characters on Steve Prefontaine - the US athlete who died in 1975. The spokesman added that many sportsmen - including footballers - sprouted facial hair and wore their hair long in the 1970s. ®
Tim Richardson, 06 Oct 2003

US cableco seeks to quash RIAA subpoenas

Charter Communications, the US cableco, is challenging the RIAA's attempt to hand over the names of 150 customers who allegedly swapped music files illegally over the net. The company filed suit on Friday in its home town of St Louis, Missouri seeking to block subpoenas obtained by the RIAA. Tom Hearity, associate general counsel for Charter, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "We are the only major cable company that has not as yet provided the RIAA a single datum of information," AP reports. In September, the RIAA filed suit against 261 American file traders, armed with information obtained from their ISPs. Among the haul included a 12 year-old girl and a 66 year-old female pensioner. The latter's case was quickly dropped by the RIAA, when it realised that the woman was entirely innocent. The recording industry blames unauthorised downloading and CD bootlegging for an 11 per cent fall in music sales in the first half of 2003. ® Related stories Music industry blames Net for falling sales Music biz slams Oz Net piracy plea bargain RIAA withdraws $300m suit against innocent pensioner
Drew Cullen, 06 Oct 2003

Confusion surrounds suicide Webcast

There's confusion today over the possible suicide of a terminally ill patient due to be broadcast on the Web last Saturday. According to reports, the Webcast of a suicide during a rock concert did not take place after the Web site was floored by a denial of service attack thought to originate from Hong Kong. Shock rock outfit Hell on Earth had planned to show the suicide on its Web site as it played on stage somewhere in St Petersburg, Florida. Reports suggest that both the suicide and the gig didn't take place but have been postponed for a week. The band's Web site was down at the time of writing. However, the St Petersburg Times is quoting a radio DJ who claims to have video footage of the band playing over the weekend and some "'crazy' footage that purports to show a sickly-looking man committing suicide through 'some sort of asphyxiation'." The DJ, Shane Bugbee, isn't convinced it's for real but told the paper that he would reveal more on his radio show due to be broadcast today. City officials had taken action last week to ban the gig and suicide - a move dismissed by band leader Billy Tourtelot, who said he'd sworn an oath to his terminally ill friend to Webcast the suicide. ® Related Story Band goes ahead with Webcast suicide
Tim Richardson, 06 Oct 2003

Motorola to IPO chip division

Motorola is to float off its semiconductor business, the company said today. Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) has been rumoured to have had a 'for sale' sign up for some time, with Europe's STMicroelectronics at one time touted as a potential buyer. But with no purchaser in the offing, Motorola has clearly decided that a float is the only remaining cost-effective way to rid itself of its loss-making division. According to a company statement, issued this morning under the name of Chris Galvin, Motorola's soon-to-retire chairman and CEO, SPS will undergo an initial public offering. Motorola will retain a portion of the SPS shares before distributing them to "shareholders in a tax-free manner, subject to Motorola board approval, favorable market conditions, regulatory approvals and other customary conditions" at a later date. The decision was made, said Galvin's statement, the better to increase Motorola's focus on communications and integrated electronics systems. "Over the past several months, we have carefully weighed the best way to optimise the long-term potential of Motorola's semiconductor business," said Galvin in the statement. "After completing our four-month-long technology and strategic reviews in August, I recommended to the board of directors in September that... our 'asset light' semiconductor business could prosper as a separate entity. Our board of directors has given its full support to this recommendation." Newly appointed SPS president Scott Anderson said he was "excited" about the opportunities the move will bring to the spun-off company. Motorola chiefs some years back said they would ditch the chip business if it failed to improve its financial performance. After a long period in the red, SPS finally returned to profitability during Q4 2002, but fell back into the red during the first quarter of this year. During Q2, which ended on 28 June, it lost $134 million on the back of an 11 per cent year-on-year decline in sales to $1.1 billion. Orders slipped 25 per cent year-in-year to $1 billion. Now it's seeking Wall Street approval for the move, Motorola noted that "the semiconductor industry cycle appears to be in an upswing" - it failed to mention that SPS' finances have of late been moving in the opposite direction. The company's Q3 figures, for July, August and September, will make interesting reading. As yet no timetable has been given for the float. ® Related Stories Tundra buys PowerPC tech for $20m Motorola pushed out of global chip making elite Motorola Q2 chip sales slide Motorola appoints insider as chip unit chief Motorola looking to sell PowerPC producer - report
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

ParkerVision touts Wi-Fi range boost tech

Radio Frequency (RF) transceiver maker Florida-based ParkerVision claims its Horizons wireless adaptor products significantly improve the range of standard 802.11 networking kit - regardless of which vendor's base-station the client accesses. The company says it can extend the outdoor range of Wi-Fi communications by to 1.6km - more than five times the range achieved with standard 802.11 devices. ParkerVision also claims its Direct2Data (D2D) technology eliminates almost all indoor dead zones - spaces where standard Wi-Fi signals can't reach. Don't expect such a long range without a Horizons access point, however. Like many range-extending technologies, such as Atheros' XR technology, the D2D system works best with its own equipment at either end of the connection. But unlike most proprietaryt extenstions to the 802.11 standard, ParkerVision insists users will see significant range gains in multi-vendor environments. Not that it offers numbers to back this up, mind you. However, the company claims that adding a Horizons adaptor to a beta tester's PC allowed his off-the-shelf access point to be reached throughout his three-floor site rather than just half of it as was the case with a third-party WLAN adaptor. D2D is based on direct conversion signal processing. According to ParkerVision, it "directly demodulates the baseband information from the RF carrier with an optimised signal-to-noise ratio. Conversely, when used as a transmitter, the D2D circuit modulates the baseband information directly onto the RF carrier". Cutting through the technobabble, the technique essentially involves converting the analog radio signal into digital form as early as possible, at a high sample rate, then using DSP technology to manipulate the digital data. Direct conversion systems have been around for some time. To date the technique has largely been applied in cellphone base-stations and digital satellite TV receivers. Traditional Wi-Fi transceivers perform more work in the analog domain, which is easier to do, but requires more complex - and more costly - RF circuitry and components for signal processing and frequency manipulation. Issues such as local oscillator signals leaking through the antenna and creating noise, and the precise amplitude and phase balance required to make DC work are some of the challenges ParkerVision has presumably solved in the development of DC for Wi-Fi applications. The first Horizons product, a $99.95 802.11b/g PC Card, the HZ1500, is shipping in the US today. ParkerVision promises an access point product by the middle of Q4. The Horizons PC Card is currently only available direct from ParkerVision. ® Related Stories Atheros triples Wi-Fi range to 1km Intel blasts proprietary Wi-Fi tweaks Intel announces death of copper
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003
SGI logo hardware close-up

IBM debuts hard drive ‘airbag’ crash protection

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch IBM today debuted a new hard drive system designed to prevent data damage when the notebook is dropped. The technology, dubbed the IBM Active Protection System (APS), will appear in new ThinkPad R50 and T41 series machines. Essentially, APS watches out for sudden movement and parks the hard drive's read/write head when it detects. The heads are released when the system is no longer moving. IBM compares the technology to a car's airbag system, and although APS just parks the drive heads, IBM reckons that should be enough to protect the drive when the host machine is dropped. While a fall will probably break the rest of the notebook - screens are particularly vulnerable - at least the data will remain intact, allowing corporate IT departments to swap the drive and all its valuable data into a new machine, IBM believes. In our experience, damaged laptops that have been surrendered to company BOFHs for repair rarely come back without the hard drive reformatted in any case, but IBM clearly knows some more accommodating IT staff than we do. APS will be added to the new ThinkPad R50, a 3.3cm (1.3in) thick 2.5kg (5.6lb) portable offered with either a 14 or 15in screen. IBM is offering a variety of processors, including the Pentium M Centrino chip, Mobile Celeron and Mobile Pentium 4s. A range of hard drive capacities, optical storage units and graphics chips are available through IBM's BTO service. As an alternative to Centrino's 802.11b WLAN adaptor, IBM is offering its own a/b/g wireless card. The T41 extends the T series, with its 14.1in displays, ATI Mobility Radeon graphics and Pentium M processors, 40 or 80GB of hard drive space and DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. Both new models feature IBM's Embedded Security Subsystem, its wireless security enhancement technology. In addition to launching the R50 and T41, IBM today updated its X31, R40, R40e and G40 ThinkPads, adding wireless connectivity to more models and upping the Mobile Pentium 4, Pentium M and desktop Pentium 4 processor clock speeds available. All new ThinkPad models are available immediately online at www.ibm.com and through IBM's reseller channels. US prices for the ThinkPad R50 start at $1529; prices for the ThinkPad T41 start at $1649; prices for the ThinkPad X31 start at $1449; prices for the R40 and R40e start at $1129 and $849, respectively; and prices for the ThinkPad G40 start at $899. ®
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

IBM and EMC swallow each others' API pride

IBM and EMC are swapping APIs, at long last. The two companies have already forged API deals with just about every other major storage vendor around but could not come to terms on an IBM/EMC exchange. This ends with both companies deciding to fork over their storage system APIs, including future ones based on the SMI-S standard, although they warn that full API disclosure will take time. In addition, EMC has agreed to license programming interfaces from IBM to improve the links between IBM's mainframes and EMC's high-end arrays. This last bit gives IBM a nice new revenue stream. IBM and EMC have not been the best of mates in the storage industry. While IBM's Tivoli storage software group has worked with EMC, its storage hardware group has given the folks from Hopkington the cold shoulder and vice versa. The two vendors appear to have put their squabbles aside with customers' best interests at heart. Along with the API exchanges, the companies plan to provide better support to users with both IBM and EMC gear. Their shared support services will cover a wider range of servers and storage systems, and they plan to respond better to problems in shared installations. The wording of their agreement indicates that it will take some time for IBM and EMC to hammer out the fine details of the API swap. So far, they have only created a "framework" for how the swap will pan out. However, a pride-swallowing exercise of this scale almost ensures the two will come through in due course. Users can expect to see all of the bells and whistles from both IBM and EMC's storage software packages work on each others' hardware. This deal continues a massive change of heart over at EMC. The company had vowed to crack competitors' APIs and handle storage management on its own under the once fabled WideSky program. EMC, however, has since killed off WideSky in favor of a standards-based management future. On IBM's side, it's good to see the company opening up to EMC, as this should make life much more pleasant for end users. It's never good to have two of the biggest players in an industry at odds. ® Related Stories EMC drops WideSky, swallows pride
Ashlee Vance, 06 Oct 2003

Legality of online pharmacies questioned

A restaurateur and her son were sentenced last month to federal prison in Florida for running an unlicensed Internet pharmacy which fulfilled orders from a bedroom in her suburban home. Although they operated only two websites, mother and son generated a stunning $1.3 million in sales, Associated Press reports. What about the legality of offers we get in our mail box from other companies pretending to be Internet pharmacies, we asked ourselves? Are these all bedroom companies too? Out of curiosity we indexed all the spam from a company called Pharmacy Worldwide or Pharmacy Discounts (http://www.pharmacyzone.biz/webstore). Almost every mail referred to a different address on the web. That’s not surprising. Many internet pharmacies are not your run-of-the-mill click and brick companies, but multi-level marketing firms. They hunt for individuals like you and to me to set up a website, and to sell merchandise they have to order from them. That’s why you get so much spam. (Many of these firms claim to have zero tolerance towards spam. But when you want to complain to them by filling in a form, the site often reports an error.) Is it legal to sell prescription drugs through multi-level marketing? We doubt it. Legitimate internet pharmacies display a seal indicating they meet state licensing requirements. We almost never see those at smartvertised sites. Usually, there is no address to write to or a phone number to complain, putting customers in limbo when they want to complain. Not long ago, we even found a multi level marketing company called Internet Laboratories International hosted from a Brazilian website with the sardonic domain name www.m-la-ta-di.com.br. It may well be that the real people behind these companies are located in Canada. That’s not just guessing: occasionally, you’ll find a Canadian return address cleverly hidden on these sites. Manitoba's internet pharmacy industry alone is now worth $1.2 billion a year, thanks to cross-border sales of prescription drugs to the US. An estimated one million U.S. residents buy prescription drugs through Canadian online pharmacies. Canada has price controls of prescription drugs. Which makes this country a very attractive proposition for Americans to buy their medicine online. Obviously, the US pharmaceutical companies are not amused. Pfizer recently cut off supplies through wholesalers to 50 Canadian Internet pharmacies. However, not all is well in Canada either. Canadian online pharmacies are under increasing scrutiny. A House of Commons standing committee on health last Thursday heard that Canadian internet pharmacies aren't making people any healthier and may be open to fraud. Often there are no assurances that the doctors who need to prescribe the drugs are authentic. Nor are the drugs they offer always safe. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week reported that nearly 90 per cent of the imported mail-order drugs stopped at the borders of the US were potentially dangerous and possibly counterfeit. Snake oil vendors seem to pop up everywhere. German customs officers confiscated 40,000 fake tablets of Viagra in a package off a cargo plane from India. And a Chinese Pharmacy Enforcement Unit of the State Health Department scored the biggest seizure so far of Chinese-made imitation Viagra. Guess who were going to sell them? Before the Internet, drug hucksters ran small ads in newspapers offering toll-free numbers to order prescription drugs. These days, profiteers can launch web sites overnight and reach hundreds of thousands of people just by spamming. As early as 1998 public health advocates at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), warned consumers to beware of schemes offering to sell fake drugs over the Internet. But despite ongoing law enforcement and consumer education campaigns, the sale of fake medicine on the web has proliferated. Meanwhile, the FDA says it will tighten requirements for drug wholesalers so it's tougher to sneak counterfeits into legitimate supplies. Companies such as Pfizer will also step up their efforts to fight illegal pharmacies. Our advice: read these guidelines carefully before ordering. ®
Jan Libbenga, 06 Oct 2003

Nokia to sell ‘several million’ N-Gages in 2004

Nokia's N-Gage phone-cum-handheld games console goes on sale at midnight tonight in more than 30,000 stores in 60 countries around the world. The way Nokia talks, you'd think there has never been a portable games console before, but N-Gage is a risky venture for the Finnish phone maker, so it's not surprising the company is hyping the launch as much as it can. For example: the company told Reuters it expects to sell "several million" N-Gage units next year. In the meantime, a "very promising order intake" indicates strong sales momentum from tomorrow's launch through the Christmas sales period to the end of year, the company said. N-Gage provides both solo gaming and multi-player action across a Bluetooth connection. Nokia intends to offer networked games across the handset's cellphone connection, but not until next year. Gamers will be able to access the web-based N-Gage Arena, but competing against other players through this medium is limited to downloading characters uploaded by their opponents. And while N-Gage Arena is free now, Nokia's is describing that as a trial offer, so expect it to introduce charges in due course, probably when it enables multi-player gaming by GSM/GPRS/CDMA. N-Gage will launch with a version of the first Tomb Raider title, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell and a number of other titles. More will ship by Christmas. But at around £250 ($417), N-Gage is expensive and its catalogue of games limited - far less than the £99 ($165) Nintendo GameBoy Advance (GBA). Mobile phone networks are expected to subsidise the handset to gain competitive advantage over games resellers, though given Nokia's keenness to push the device as a game console first and a phone last (behind even its radio and MP3 player features), it can't be too happy about having such giants squeezing out the entertainment market players it's courting. O2, for one, is expected to offer N-Gage for £99.99 alongside a £20-50 monthly airtime package. Nokia's forecast for 2004 is interesting, given it will be pitched against not just wireless networking add-ons for the GBA, but Sony's handheld PlayStation, the PSP. However, neither of these has a phone component, allowing Nokia room to build sales on the back of its status in the handset business. It may ultimately fall back on this side of the story, re-positioning N-Gage as a phone that plays games, rather than a games console that happens to be a phone. "Several million" N-Gages is a long way short of the 450 million handsets sold each year, and if a gaming device doesn't sell on its own merits, it might just be enough to persuade handset buyers that they should upgrade their existing handset to an N-Gage. ® Related Stories Hands-on: Nokia's N-Gage O2 set to offer N-Gage for £99 Sony details PlayStation Portable specs. Nintendo preps wireless add-on for GBA N-Gage boss slams GBA Related Products N-Gage available to order from the Register's PDA store
Tony Smith, 06 Oct 2003

O2 launches mobile video service

O2 in the UK has launched its first mobile video service, which is free until 31 January 2004 and is to be available in Ireland early in the new year. The service operates on a GPRS (2.5G) network and is supported on the Nokia 3650 and the Sony Ericsson P800. The company said that next month availability will expand to the new Xda II, Nokia 6600, Siemens SX1, Motorola V600 and Sony Ericsson P900. O2 customers can access the video service through the O2 Active menu, from which users choose the service they want, such as Internet browsing, multimedia messaging (MMS), games and information. While a mixture of video content is being provided, O2 UK is really pushing its Rugby World Cup 2003 service, whereby customers can download or stream clips of the matches and interviews. It includes half-time and full match highlights from Australia, interviews with coaches and players and up to 100 RWC 2003 moments, such as 'top tries.' The clips vary in length from 10 seconds for a try and 45 seconds for an interview. The length also depends on the way in which the customer chooses to view the clip, either to stream it (watch it once) or to download it and store it for future viewing. Streaming takes about 10 seconds, while downloading can take up to a minute and a half. Other content includes footage from ITN, CNBC Europe, Classic Comedy, Bake, Fashion TV, GMTV, Extreme Sports Channel and Extreme International. Interestingly, during service trials, which started lasted April, O2 UK found that breaking news was the most popular part of the video service, followed by sports and music. According to the company, the trial service as a whole met or exceeded the expectations of 78 per cent of the trial group. Customers said they used the service on an average 3.5 times a week, and 94 per cent of the 350-person sample had demonstrated it to friends and family, according to O2 figures. O2 is also offering multi-media messaging in the UK, with an introductory offer of £0.16 per message. O2 Ireland is starting a month-long period of customer trials in the next few weeks and expects the video service to be available here early in the new year. "It will operate on the 2.5G network, with a view to making it available on 3G when suitable handsets are available in volume in the current market," said Aoifah Jones, media relations executive with O2 Ireland. O2 Ireland could not confirm that there would be a free period for the service, such as that announced in the UK Monday, or provide any indication as to what the cost of the service might be. The service in Ireland will include a mixture of content available in the UK and content exclusive to O2 Ireland. The Irish content to be included is subject to the conclusion of commercial negotiations, Jones said. ®
ElectricNews.net, 06 Oct 2003

NetScreen nets Neoteris for $265m

NetScreen Technologies today announced an agreement to acquire SSL VPN company Neoteris in a deal valued at $265 million. The acquisition, for approximately $245 million in stock and $20 million in cash, represents the security industry's largest acquisition of a private company since May 2001. The deal represents a further sign of consolidation in the hotly-tipped SSL VPN remote access market, following the purchase of smaller SSL Virtual Private Networks (VPN) firm uRoam by F5 Networks for $25 million back in July. NetScreen, chief challenger along with Cisco to Check Point in the firewall market, said that the acquisition of Neoteris accelerates its ambition to become the number one provider of network security products. Neoteris is one of the leading companies in the emerging "clientless” (SSL VPN) remote access market, which allow workers to securely access corporate resources via a standard Web browser. Vendors are jockeying for position in a market segment which, although still small, is expected to grow strongly over the next three years. Analysts Infonetics reckons the SSL-based remote access market will exceed $600 million (slightly lower than previous estimates) by 2006. The technology scores over earlier IPSec-based VPN technology by eliminating the need to install client software on worker's machines. Upon close of the deal (expected by the end of 2003), Neoteris’ SSL VPN remote access products will join NetScreen’s portfolio of hardware-based network security products. In addition to its SSL VPN technology, Neoteris’ application security gateways will bring to NetScreen’s portfolio new access management functionality, including the ability to implement forms and header-based Web single sign-on (SSO), password management integration and cross-enterprise online meeting functionality. NetScreen said Neoteris’ technology and expertise will help it to "accelerate the integration of application-level security into the network infrastructure". ®
John Leyden, 06 Oct 2003

US should follow EU lead on spam – MPs

The US should follow Europe's lead against spam, according to an eagerly awaited report published today by the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG). With half of all email sent today estimated to be spam, APIG's enquiry concludes that tackling unsolicited commercial email is a global issue. "We recommend to the US Congress that they adopt an anti-spam law that is modelled as closely as possible along the lines of the European Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications," said the parliamentary group in its report. Although it accepts there could be some resistance from the US, APIG feels "very strongly that the advantages of having a consistent set of laws between Europe and the USA (and also with Australia who are moving towards a European style scheme) would have huge advantages for everyone." This conclusion comes ahead of a trip by APIG to the US to try and convince legislators on Capitol Hill to align its laws more closely with those in Europe. However, one European politician has already warned that APIG faces an up hill battle to get its views heard. Still, the view of those who submitted evidence to the enquiry appears to be one of cautious optimism. "If" the USA was to make spamming illegal then those "professional" spammers who are currently resident in the USA would go "off-shore". In fact, there's evidence to suggest that this might even be happening already with some operating from China. "However, if Europe and the USA were to have consistent laws then there would be considerable pressure on other parts of the world to also fall into line," said the report. Said APIG chairman Derek Wyatt MP in a statement: "It is essential that co-ordinated global action be taken against spam. I hope that this report can help build international support for both legislative and technical measures to deal with spam." However, there are some who just aren't convinced that workable legislation can be introduced. Despite calls for international cooperation, the UK's own approach to spam has not been universally welcomed. One industry remarked that the UK's anti-spam was "toothless" and would "do nothing to stop spam in the UK". APIG's report [PDF] can be found on its Web site here. ® Related Stories MPs' spam report due out Monday Doubts raised over MPs' anti-spam crusade MPs head to US on anti spam mission UK Govt fouls up anti-spam plans, say experts
Tim Richardson, 06 Oct 2003

SCO can ditch its Benelux distie

SCO has won a court case against its Dutch distributor Dupaco. And it's got nothing to do with Linux. SCO, the company now best-known for its crusade against IBM and other companies over Linux copyright issues, recently terminated its 18-year relationship with Dupaco, preferring a European franchise model. Dupaco became a distributor of SCO Xenix as early as 1986. CEO and co-founder Erik Monninkhof told LinuxWorld recently that he attended every SCO Forum since then, and has turned down offers from other vendors to sell their UNIX distributions in addition to the SCO line. Dupaco has built a multi-million dollar revenue stream out of the SCO offerings. Naturally, Monninkhof wasn’t pleased when SCO informed him that in 30 days the distribution contract would be terminated and that he could only remain as a zero-margin reseller. Country managers in Europe are offered exclusive franchise arrangements. Monninkhof tried to reason with SCO, but didn’t succeed. At first SCO agreed to talk, so Monninkhof flew to SCO's headquarters in Utah, but learned that there was no-one to meet him and that visitors were not allowed in the building. Security then escorted Monninkhof off the premises. He was also given a letter indicating that his company was no longer welcome at SCO Forum. A judge in Breda today ruled that the contract Dupaco had with SCO specified a lawful 30 day notice for termination. Monnikhof had hoped that the length and nature of the business relationship would be taken into consideration. Dupaco wanted €200,000 in damages. Despite the setback, Dupaco is not in trouble: SCO accounts only around five per cent of total revenue. Elbert Vlastuin will now be SCO’s Regional Manager for the Benelux. ®
Jan Libbenga, 06 Oct 2003

Belgacom: minority shareholders eye windfall

The Belgian government has revealed details of its flotation plans for the telecoms carrier Belgacom, much to relief of its minority shareholders who have been waiting to realize their investment in one of Europe's most financially robust telecom operators. Bankers have valued Belgacom at $11.6 billion, after the Belgian government, a consortium of minority shareholders, and Belgacom itself signed an agreement on key objectives for the future development of Belgacom and on a series of transactions. This agreement paves the way for an IPO of Belgacom sometime next year. Belgacom has one of strongest balance sheets of any European telco, with total debt at the end of 2002 of $560 million. An IPO and the proceeds it would generate would allow Belgacom to raise dividends or fund an expansion to combat its decline in fixed-line operations. It will also allow the carrier to sell the shares currently owned by the ADSB consortium to a broad base of public investors. Under the terms of the deal, Belgacom will be the first to buy back the shares held by the minority consortium. At the moment, the Belgium government is the majority shareholder in Belgacom, with a 50.1% stake. The minority 49.9% stake is held by ADSB, which includes SBC Communications, Denmark's TDC, and Singapore Telecommunications. SingTel especially looks set to benefit from its 12.15% stake, which it purchased for $487 million in 1996. If the IPO goes ahead, then SingTel's stake would be worth $1.56 billion. This would be a welcome boon to the carrier, which is in the process of disposing of non-core assets in order to reduce debt burden. Meanwhile, US telecoms giant SBC Communications could raise approximately $2.1 billion from the sale of its 35% stake in Belgacom. It could add the cash raised to its war chest, or for share buybacks. If the Belgian government decided to sell its majority stake, the proceeds would help reduce the massive state debt, which is in excess of its gross domestic product. However, last month the Belgian minister in charge of the state's majority stake reiterated that he would not reduce the state's 50.1% stake. Selling the carrier would help plug budget holes, as Belgium is one of several European countries cutting taxes to buoy an economy hovering on the brink of recession. Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor Related research Datamonitor, Mobile consumer update; data data data
Datamonitor, 06 Oct 2003

UK teenager accused of ‘electronic sabotage’ against US port

A British teenager allegedly brought down the Internet systems of a major US port while attempting to extract revenge on a fellow IRC user, a court heard today. Aaron Caffrey, 19, allegedly slowed systems at the port of Houston in Texas to a crawl as the result of an attack actually aimed at a fellow chat-room user, called Bokkie. Bokkie’s anti-American remarks days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks annoyed the British teenager so much that he allegedly sought to take out her Net connection using an attack tool he had created. Caffrey, of Saftesbury, Dorset, pleaded not guilty to the single charge of unauthorised modifications of a computer contrary to Section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 at the start of his trial today. Collateral damage Prosecutor Paul Addison said the port of Houston’s systems were one of an unknown number of intermediary server systems used in the PING flood attack Caffrey allegedly initiated in the early hours of September 21 2001 (UK time). The court heard extracts from an IRC conversation during which Caffrey (or someone using his AaronX nick-name) argued with Bokkie, a South African 17 year-old then living in the US, over her remarks that Americans were arrogant or "Almighty". Caffrey took particular exception to these remarks because he was in love with an American girl, called Jessica, at the time. Caffrey had christened his computer Jessica and references to his affection for the girl were found in text strings within a DDoS attack tool, allegedly created by Caffrey, which investigators ultimately recovered from his computer. Computer logs from the Port of Houston enabled police to trace the attack back to a computer in Caffrey’s Dorset home. He was arrested by UK police in January 2002. Caffrey denies creating the attack tool (named in court as IIS Unicode Exploiter – PING DDoS tool, coded by Aaron) or launching the attack. He maintains that evidence against him was planted on his machine by an attacker who used an unspecified Trojan to gain control of his PC and launch the assault. Addison said the prosecution will call expert witnesses to disprove these claims. Electronic sabotage The court heard that an attack launched against the Port of Houston’s Web systems on the evening of September 20 (Central Standard Time) affected the performance of its entire network. As a result data (tides, water depths and weather) to help pilots navigate through the harbour and by shipping companies became inaccessible. Addison said that the attack "could have had catastrophic repercussions for those reliant on the computer in the Port of Houston", the world’s eighth-busiest maritime facility. Although no injury or damage was caused, Caffrey’s actions still amount to a form of "electronic sabotage", Addison told the jury. The court heard that the Port suffered a similar DDoS attack in August 2001 for which a US citizen has already been convicted. Caffrey is not suspected of involvement in that attack. The case against Caffrey is one of the first times a computer crime prosecution has been put before a jury in the UK. In most such cases, the accused enters a guilty plea or (more infrequently) the prosecution abandons its case long before reaching this stage. Caffrey suffers from Asperger's Syndrome - a mild form of autism – which impairs his ability to concentrate over extended periods, among other thing. As a result of his medical condition, Judge Loraine Smith allowed Caffrey to sit next to his lawyers and scheduled frequent breaks in the proceedings. The case, which is scheduled to last for three days, continues. ®
John Leyden, 06 Oct 2003

Iraq goes GSM

The US Coalition Provisional Authority has finally awarded cellular licenses for Iraq. Shunning the powerful CDMA lobby, all the networks will be GSM and use Middle East-based know how and capital. The awards divide Iraq into three regions. In the north, the award goes to Asia Cell Telecommunications, a new consortium which includes Kuwait's second GSM operator Wataniya Telecom. The central region and Baghdad goes to Egypt's Orascom Telecom, and the south to Atheer Telecom, in which Kuwaiti operator MTC-Vodafone provides the know-how. But it's a snub for enterprising Baharaini operator Batelco, which in a few weeks had build and activated a small GSM network without any of the occupying forces noticing. The licenses run for two years. The CPA had twice delayed the announcement of the winners, the Saudi Gazette reported last week, originally due to be announced on September 5. A rescheduled date of September 12 came and went without the awards being announced. The Gazette cited sources who attributed to the delays to disagreements between the US-run CPA and ministers. ® Related Story Love me Tender - bidding for Iraqi cellular
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Oct 2003
SGI logo hardware close-up

HP puts Madison-powered workstation into pond

HP has added to its Itanium ecosystem with a new workstation running on a 1.4GHz version of Intel's 64bit chip. The zx2000 is a single processor system built with design engineers in mind. It's available with Intel's third generation Itanium processor - Madison - at speeds of up to 1.4GHz and with 1.5MB of L3 cache. HP is using its own zx1 chipset and supporting HP-UX, Red Hat Linux and Microsoft Windows 64bit Edition with the new kit. In the past, HP has mostly marketed Itanium-based workstations at software developers. The HP kit has been at the center of the porting grunt work needed to bring code over to Itanic's EPIC instruction set. With a fair amount of porting work complete, HP is now presenting the workstations as engineer ready. The zx2000 is billed as a nice tool for MCAD (mechanical computer-aided design) and CAE (computer-aided engineering). "This single-processor workstation is geared for design engineers working with large assemblies, complex models or sophisticated simulations - such as finite element analysis, crash testing or fluid dynamics," HP said. The system, however, does face the same battle as any Itanium-based kit. Not too many customers are interested in it. The second quarter numbers from IDC show that Itanic is still the slowest selling chip around. Only 3,250 Itanium servers were moved last quarter - 3,178 of which were sold by HP. While billed as an industry standard, Itanium is looking more and more like a PA-RISC and Alpha replacement. The coalition of ISVs and hardware makers backing Itanium swear this is not the case, and that an Itanic "ecosystem" exists. If so, this is an ecosystem teetering on collapse. HP - the big bad predator - sits atop the food chain, swallowing up the investments of minnows such as SGI. The zx2000 is available now with a phone call to HP but won't appear with 1.4GHz chips in the online store for another month. It will cost $6,734 with 2GB of RAM, 2 SCSI drives and an HP x1 graphics card. ® Related Stories HP has one free port for Sun customers Curse of Itanic doomed MigraTEC Intel's Deerfield chip goes on sale Monday Itanium fends off Opteron for slowest selling chip crown
Ashlee Vance, 06 Oct 2003

Day the music died at MP3.com

Yesterday was almost the day the music died for MP3.com after the firm forgot to renew its domain name, documents received by The Register claim. According to Steve Cox, a musician who promotes his music by posting it on the site - part of the mighty Vivendi Universal empire - only his quick-witted action re-registering the expired site saved MP3.com from a long and deafening silence. "I am the guy that saved MP3.com, or at least their website," Cox, who sings under the name Voice of Golden Eagle, told The Register. "When I went to my artist site URL this morning, I saw one of the infamous VeriSign redirects instead of my music, complete with the dreaded message, 'We didn't find: artists.mp3s.com'. There is no Website at this address." Cox added that further investigation showed that the site was "almost entirely broken", with just the front-page remaining and all links and sub-domains dead. He claimed that the firm's multi-million dollar web presence had been stopped dead over a $35 renewal fee. "As an artist being directly affected by this breakdown my next actions were clear. I picked up the phone and called Network Solutions customer support. Within minutes I used my own credit card to purchase a one year renewal for the MP3S.com domain," Cox said. "As I wait I smile, thinking about how the Net's "Premiere Music Streaming Service" had to be rescued by.me!" Our curiosity was further whetted when we received a message from Reg reader John Moppett saying that Verisign has struck again and taken over the site: "Went to MP3.Com, but can't pick up any links, they all end up with Verisign!!" A quick whois search does show that the San Diego-based MP3.com, part of Vivendi Universal's US Internet and technology unit, has indeed renewed its domain today. However, running host -t soa mp3.com to find the SOA record (Start Of Authority), which should show who owns, or is responsible for the domain gives up the following suggestion that nothing is untoward. mp3.com SOA sdns00.mp3.com hostmaster.mp3.com( 2003092900 ;serial (version) 14400 ;refresh period 3600 ;retry refresh this often 604800 ;expiration period 10800 ;minimum TTL ) At the time of going to press MP3.com had not responded to our voice messages or emails - despite the fact that we carpet-bombed all the contact addresses and numbers listed on the site. However, we were surprised to note that that the main email address listed for press enquiries, pr@vunetusa.com, was bouncing mail this afternoon with the following error message. SMTP error from remote mailer after RCPT TO:
Robert Jaques, 06 Oct 2003