15th > December > 2003 Archive

VIA ships integrated Athlon 64 chipset

VIA has begun shipping its Athlon 64 chipset, the K8M800 - the world's first integrated chipset for the 64-bit AMD processor, it claims. You might wonder why a workhorse like the Athlon 64 would be paired with an relatively low-spec. integrated graphics core, given the focus of 64-bit computing on high bandwidth applications, but VIA reckons there's demand for the part "beyond the realms of high-end workstations and gaming PCs". And AMD certainly claims the 64-bit chip is a better 32-bit processor than its previous 32-bit Athlons. VIA presumably wants to appeal to system builders who feel the same. The K8M800 North Bridge contains an S3 UniChrome Pro 128-bit, 200MHz graphics core with two parallel pixel processing pipelines and support for 16MB to 64MB of shared memory. It has its own MPEG 2 engine, and can still work with an external graphics card courtesy of a AGP 8x bus. Like VIA's discrete Athlon 64 chipset, the K8T800, the integrated part uses the VT8237 South Bridge, which brings the usual array of storage and I/O features: dual Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1 and 0+1; four parallel ATA-133 buses; 56Kbps modem; 10/100Mbps Ethernet; Gigabit Ethernet; VIA's Vinyl surround sound system; support for eight USB 2.0 ports, and so on. While the K8M800 is shipping now, motherboards based on the part aren't expected until early next quarter. Usual suspects Asus, Biostar, Chaintech, ECS, FIX, Gigabyte, Jetway, Mitac, MSI, Shuttle and Wistron are among those mobo makers who have committed themselves to offering K8M800-based boards. ®
Tony Smith, 15 Dec 2003
Click here for the full BOFH range

The BOFH-father: Part One

Episode 31Episode 31 BOFH 2003: Episode 31 . . . Late one evening, in a darkened corner of Mission Control . . . "...and so we agreed that for justice, we'd have to talk to the Operators," a helldesk geek gushes to me. "Why did you go to the Head of IT? Why didn't you talk to me first?" I whisper, sitting back in my padded leather wheely chair. "What do you want? Just tell us - anything, but do what we ask, please!" the geek burbles. "What would you have me do?" The helldesk geek looks around, spots the PFY, decides that this is best kept between us and whispers his group's request. Sigh... "That, I cannot do." "We'll do anything you ask!" he blurts. "We've worked in the same place many years, but this is the first time you've ever asked me for help. I can't remember the last time you invited me to your table at the pub for a cold lager. But let's be frank here, you never wanted my friendship, and you're afraid to be in my debt." "We... didn't want to get into trouble." "I understand. You thought this was a great job. You did nothing, knew nothing, got paid well, and paid your union fees. You didn't need a friend like me... But now you come to me and say, 'Simon, give me justice.' But you don't ask with respect, you don't offer friendship, you don't even call me 'Sir'. Instead you came to Mission Control on the day I'm falsifying my overtime and ask me to accidentally push someone down a comms riser..." "We're asking you for justice!" "That isn't justice - you'll still have a desktop machine!" "It'll be a thin client! We won't even be able to play music! "We'll pay!" he adds, after a conspiratorial pause. "Why do you treat me so disrespectfully? If you came to me in friendship, your department head and the desktop efficiency consultant would be suffering this very afternoon - at the latest. And if by chance an IT 'professional' like yourself lost their desktop machine, then they would in turn have problems with their desktop machines, and they'd think twice about trying to downgrade you." . . . "Be my friend... uh... er... Sir." Sigh... "Good. Some day, and that day may never come - but it probably will - I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a token of our friendship." . . . The next day . . . "Has anyone seen that consultant bloke?" the Head of IT asks. "The bloke you got in to tell you that thin clients were a good idea, even though the rest of the department, including the Head of IT, thinks they're crap?" "Uh, yes." "No, why?" "I was supposed to have a meeting with him half an hour ago. We rang his office, but they say he's been on site since this morning. We found his briefcase at reception and the only thing inside it was some rolled up newspaper with a piece of battered fish in it." "It's an operational message," the PFY murmurs. "It means he sleeps at the chippy." "You mean he's... dead?" the Boss gasps, knowing that consultants - particularly ones employed by management to back up their ludicrous schemes - are generally an endangered species. "No, it means he's gone to the chippy. We had beers over lunch and sent him for food." "You took him out for drinks?" "Oh yes. Keep your friends close, but independent consultants closer." "Well where is he now?" "No idea. Maybe he's revising his recommendations to suggest that we don't use thin clients as they're a bad long-term investment?" "He's changed his mind? He said it was a good idea! I'VE JUST ORDERED 200 UNITS! Why the hell did he change his mind?!" "We made him an offer he couldn't refuse." "You threatened him?!" "No, no. I found a dealer who could undercut the thin client price. Dirt cheap." "Well he can't change his mind now - it's too late!" "Oh, so he gave you a copy of his report?" "Verbally, yes." "Ah, not written. So to the casual upper management observer it might look like you'd committed to a purchase which would fly in the face of the recommendations of an independent consultant?" "I... ah..." "And as you're the person who recommended this hardware in the first place, it might look like there was some oversight in the purchase procedure. You've no prior relationship with the vendor in question?" "Of course not!" "Never received any gifts?" "No!" "Nothing at all?" "Well, maybe a pen or two, a couple of outings on the company boat." "Ooooooh... Conflict of Interest!" the PFY cries. "I hardly think a bloody pen and some fishing trips would be a conflict of interest!" "Oh, so you declared it to the Head of IT at the time?" "No, but..." "Ooooooh... Undisclosed conflict of interest!" the PFY chirps. "It's only a bloody PEN and a couple of social events!" "I'm sure it will come as a great consolation to the company that you sold them out for such a small amount..." "I..." the Boss burbles, before rushing out to cover his tracks and try and cancel an order. >slam<

"So ends Operation Fredo?" the PFY asks. "Uuuuuhhhmmmmm... One last fishing trip I should think..." ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 15 Dec 2003

The return of the ‘free’ PC

A British start-up is to offer up to free PCs to the public. The catch? The PC fills the screens with ads for 60 seconds every 20 minutes. Each month, the company, Metronomy, mails a CD containing targeted advertising. Your PC will work only if the CD is installed. You must also agree to use the PC at least 30 hours a month and you must sign up to use the Internet. It is unclear from weekend newspaper reports if the punters must pay for Internet access, but if this service is free, Metronomy will have pulled off a extraordinary feat of economic engineering. Customers sign up for three years, but can simply return their PCs, if they don't want to continue with the scheme, company founder John Thornhill told the Mail on Sunday. Metronomy will monitor computer usage - but not Internet surfing activities - as well as as ad-watching activity. If enough people sign up, this will give the company an opportunity to flog market research, we figure. And Metronomy is thinking big. In the first phase of the campaign, 200,000 PCs, supplied by IBM, are up for grabs. The company hopes to roll-out the scheme to up to two million homes within three years. The first free PCs will start rolling out early next year. The venture is funded to the tune of "several million pounds" by Terry Fisher, a former chairman of Huddersfield Town FC, who made his fortune from the travel industry. And several institutions are underwriting the deal, according to the Mail on Sunday. We guess Metronomy needs enough capital to satisfy IBM that it can meet long-term leasing commitments for the PCs. Also unnamed advertising companies are said to be backing the venture. Metronomy's Big Idea is interesting, but we been in this territory before. The US was awash with free PC offers in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, for example, Microsoft, AOL and Prodigy ran free or nearly free PC promotions. But those were the days when there was plenty of gross margin in Internet access to play with. And if these promotions had worked out financially, we'd all be using free PCs now, no? The free PC idea, as with the mobile phone and games console industries, is to subsidise the hardware in return for software and services income. But it is difficult to see how Metronomy can generate enough advertising income from what will inevitably be a downmarket demographic. Add in a couple of quid a month for Internet access, and bring down the PC costs by running Linux desktop software, and it is still difficult to see how this stacks up. Especially, when the customers call for help. The problem with mass market PCs is that after-sales service is a logistical nightmare, especially as there is little or profit to be had in the hardware. We suspect that Metronomy customers will quickly tire of having to stop what they are doing on their PC for three minutes an hour. Returns could be a big headache. ® Related story Free PCs for the poor on sale in black market
Drew Cullen, 15 Dec 2003

‘Bored’ teens blow £80m in e-shopping spree

Three "bored" German teenagers blew a staggering £80 million (€130 million) in just two hours after they ran amok in an online spending spree. Using stolen credit card details the trio bought airplanes, works of art, designer clothes, restaurants, industrial machinery, patents and sound systems. They were arrested by police on Friday more than six weeks after carrying out their astonishing haul. According to Reuters, when police asked them why they had done, they said they were bored. ®
Tim Richardson, 15 Dec 2003

Disgo Pro 1GB USB Flash drive

Reg ReviewReg Review Disgo is one of the pioneers of the USB Flash drive business and while there's now a deluge of the things, Disgo hasn't been lost in the flood thanks to a steady line of improvements, incorporating higher capacities, the faster USB 2.0 specification and security features. The 1GB Disgo Pro is the company's most advanced product to date. The 'Pro' label marks it out as a USB 2.0 device, but unlike earlier Disgos, it sports a slimline, black casing, part of which is transparent, allowing you to peer through at the circuit board and activity LED within. Disgo has a trick of applying different tints to each Pro drive's transparent casing. The 256MB version was blue, the 512MB sea-green and the 1GB model is brown. For geeks who like to keep these things tucked into their shirt pockets, there's a pocket clip built into the casing. There's a key ring too, but that's removable. The case design isn't simply a matter of aesthetics. Long and thin, the device is larger than many USB Flash drives we've seen, but skinny enough to connect to the spare USB port on our two-port notebook without us having to unhook the mouse first. While owners of large form-factor notebooks and desktop machines might not appreciate that, it's a boon to the rest of us. Not having to disconnect mice, or plug in extension cables is a big plus. Lock-in Other folk may find its security facilities appealing. The device comes pre-installed with Disgo's KeySafe software. Essentially, it allows you to partition the drive into two and protect one of them with a password. Opening the secure area requires KeySafe to be installed on each machine that partition is to be accessed from. Without the software, your data is not only inaccessible, but the partition is to all intents and purposes non-existent. So, split the 1GB into two, and all anyone else will see is a 512MB drive. Pop the drive into someone else's computer and attempt to reformat it and you will only be able to format that second, 512MB partition. Protection is consistent across multiple platforms. We set up a 650MB protected area on an Acer TravelMate 661LMi. When we later connected the drive to our PowerBook G4 and ran Mac OS X's Disk Utility app to reformat it, we could only process the remaining 310MB. However, KeySafe has a... well... key failing when in comes to multiple platform environments. While Disgo happily warbles on about the drive's cross-platform support, its software remains available only to Windows users. So a crucial selling point for the drive can't be utilised by Mac and Linux buffs. Given that the ease with which USB Flash drives can be swapped between operating systems is a factor in the format's success, this is disappointing. It also means that if the drive is formatted using an alternative file system before the protected partition is set up, the KeySafe software is lost. Actually, you can potentially zap it by reformatting the drive using a Windows format utility. If you use KeySafe to do it, it automatically makes a copy of itself on the freshly formatted drive. Performance Having removed the secure partition and reformatted the drive to its maximum capacity - you're left with around 986.5MB of user-accessible space. We copied over our 100MB test file. On the Acer notebook, which has USB 2.0 ports, we got an average write speed of 6.9MBps. Repeating the process on our PowerBook, which only supports USB 1.1, we got a write speed of 893KBps (approx. 0.87MBps). The read speed was better, as you'd expect from a Flash device: 960KBps (0.94MBps). Both speeds are better than other USB Flash drives we've looked at, though other drives have been 128MB, USB 1.1 units. Verdict The Disgo Pro 1GB is a fast drive that's easier to use than many of its rivals - and offers a solid data security system that protects your data, but allows you to share less crucial information too. It's a shame that the KeySafe software isn't cross-platform, and the drive loses rating points as a result. It also scores lower than it might otherwise have done because of its price. Higher capacity drives are always more expensive, and the 1GB Disgo Pro is not uncommon in that it's more than twice the price of a 512MB unit. But you can buy more generic 1GB, USB 2.0 drives for £230 - £70 less than the Disgo Pro. They don't look as nice, nor are they as secure, but the difference is tempting, especially when you're a Linux or Mac user who can't run KeySafe. ® Disgo Pro 1GB Rating 75% Pros — Good data security — Narrow enough that you don't need to remove other USB devices to connect it — Very capacious Cons — Expensive — Security system isn't cross-platform — Not a small drive Price £300 More info The Disgo web site Visit The Reg's Review Channel for more hardware coverage Buy memory and storage products from the Reg Mobile Store
Tony Smith, 15 Dec 2003

Spooks seek right to snoop on Internet phone calls

If a rapid-fire series of announcements from cable and telecom bigwigs last week confirms that Voice over IP (VoIP) has a future as a mainstream consumer technology, it's worth noting that the electronic surveillance mavens in the FBI and Justice Department saw it coming. On Thursday, AT&T announced plans to deliver consumer Internet telephony services to the top 100 markets in the first quarter of 2004. Earlier in the week, Time Warner Cable announced a strategic partnership with Sprint and MCI to offer residential VoIP service around the country. And on Monday, Qwest Communications International began rolling out VoIP services to customers in Minnesota. In a statement, Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert declared: "The future of voice communications will be based on the Internet." The announcements came on the heels of a day-long public forum held 1 December at the FCC to address the most contentious issue surrounding VoIP: whether or not it should be subject to the same government regulations as traditional wireline telephone services. Two days after that public forum, according to FCC filings, FBI officials had a more private meeting with half-a-dozen FCC staffers to reiterated the Bureau's view on the matter: VoIP should be regulated - at least enough to ensure that the FBI can listen-in. At issue is the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the Federal law that required telephone companies to modify their networks to be wiretap-friendly for the FBI. CALEA created a vast electronic surveillance infrastructure that gives the government quick-and-easy access to telephone conversations, with prior court authorisation. But in the absence of any clear ruling that the law applies to Internet access providers, the FBI's been forced to use special tools and equipment, like its 'Carnivore' DCS-1000 packet sniffer, to perform Internet surveillance. So last year, the FBI and Justice Department began lobbying the FCC to find that broadband companies are telecommunications carriers, and thus subject to CALEA. Last March, the bureau zeroed in on Voice over IP when it opposed a bid by entrepreneur Jeffrey Pulver to win an FCC declaration that his peer-to-peer Internet telephony service Free World Dialup is an "information service", and thus not subject to telecom regulations. And in October the FBI opposed a similar effort by Vonage Holdings, after a federal judge in Minnesota ruled that the company's VoIP service could not be regulated by the state, and the company sought the same nod from the FCC. Regulators are believed to be near a decision, and at least one commissioner has come down squarely on the FBI's side of the debate. "First, we must understand the concerns raised by DOJ and FBI that classifying Vonage's VoIP as an information service severely undercuts CALEA," said commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, at last week's FCC forum. "They say that call content and caller identification could evade lawful electronic surveillance, and that VoIP jeopardizes the ability of federal, state, and local governments to protect public safety and national security against domestic and foreign threats." "Public safety," Adelstein added, "is not negotiable." Copyright © 2003,
Kevin Poulsen, 15 Dec 2003

16,000 punters sign up for 1Mbps ADSL

More than 16,000 punters have signed up to BT's faster 1Mbps ADSL service since the product was launched a month ago. News of the growing appetite for faster broadband services came as the telco announced it is to cut the wholesale cost of some of its broadband products in the New Year. The offer, which runs from January 12 to April 30, means that the wholesale cost of upgrading to BT IPStream Home 1000 service will fall by £10 from £35 to £25. BT also claims to have also simplified the upgrade process for its 1Mbps ADSL service. Separately, BT is also halving the connection costs of a number of its wholesale "Datastream" products from £50 to £25 up to the end of April. DataStream products (Tiscali's 150k ADSL service is a Datastream product, for example) enable operators to use their own network to provide a broadband service. In both cases, the cuts have been made at the wholesale level. It's up to ISPs to pass on those cost savings (or not, as the case may be) to end-users. Indeed, Tiscali sounds like it may well be prepared to pass on those savings to punters. Here's what Tiscali's ISP exec, Steve Horley, had to say: "This is good news, Tiscali has been lobbying for a reduction of the activation fee for some time, and we still believe it can go lower if based on a 'Cost Plus' model. "We have recently reduced the price for our 512kbps to £24.99 a month (free activation and free modem) and we will be introducing similar competitive promotions for other products in January - watch this space." ® Related Story BT confirms 1Mbps launch
Tim Richardson, 15 Dec 2003

Register Reader Studies

You may remember that The Register used to run reader surveys online and publish summaries. More than 8,000 of you signed up to participate in the surveys, some conducted online and some by way of email. Some of you may even receive the occasional email from our former survey partner seeking assistance in compiling a survey or two. Well, we think it's time to start again. We're back with a new survey technology partner, Quocirca, and a heap of enthusiasm. But that's nothing without our readers. Come along with us for the ride. We have nothing to give except our undying gratitude and executive summaries of all the reports you contribute to. Oh, we'll run a monthly draw from Reg Reader Studies members - the winner will get a Reg Shop goody bag. Reg Reader Studies will run on two tracks. One is State of the Nation stuff, a set of bi-annual barometer studies, which will monitor trends and patterns in IT and the businesses users. The second track is more ad-hoc - surveys of hot, mostly enterprise-led, technologies. Quocirca will take the anonymous* results and turn it into a report. We'll see if we can get someone to sponsor it and then make it freely available to everyone as a download PDF a couple of weeks later. Interested? Then fill in the form below. Sign up should only take a couple of minutes. The information we ask for includes your name and email address, we will be the only ones to use that information. And we will only use it to let you know when the studies are ready. QNB Intelligence will use the other information, about company size, roles etc, to build generic profiles of the people completing the study - so we can say that X% of people work in SMEs, or are developers etc. We won't pass any personal details onto anyone else. Here is our privacy policy. 1. Your Details This section is compulsory. If you’d like to know how we handle the information you supply to us, please read our Privacy Policy. Please tell us your name. Please tell us your email address. Please choose a password. Please confirm your password. 2. Personal Information We’d find it helpful if you could give us a little more information about yourself and your influence on IT spending decisions. If you prefer not to give us this information, don’t worry — you can still take part in the surveys. Please tell us which country you are in. - United Kingdom United States Afghanistan Åland Islands Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People's Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Please tell us your job function. - Analyst/Programmer Software/App Developer Webmaster/Web Developer Business Analyst Support/Helpdesk IT Manager Senior Management Middle Management CIO/CTO/IT Director/Head of IT FD/CFO/Controller/Treasurer responsible for IT Director responsible for IT MD/CEO/COO/Proprietor Consultant Contractor Other: Please tell us the kind of industry you work in. - Accounting Aerospace Agriculture Automotive Arts Banking and Insurance Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Business Services Chemicals Construction Computer dealer/reseller/VAR/ Defense Design Education and Training Electronics Energy Entertainment Environment Engineering Employment and Work Food and Beverage Government and Public Services Healthcare Internet IT equipment and/or software manufacturer Network integrator/systems integrator Employment and Human Resources Hospitality Investing Industrial Goods and Services Professional Services, Consulting and Legal Manufacturing Marketing and Advertising Media, Printing and Publishing Real Estate Retail Telecommunications and Networking Transportation and Logistics Other: Please tell us the size of your organization in terms of employees. - Less than 10 11 to 25 26 to 50 51 to 100 101 to 250 251 to 500 501 to 1000 More than 1000 What is your job title? What is your company name? Which best describes your involvement in the commitment of IT spend? - I manage or approve all significant IT spend I manage or approve IT spend in my specific department or area I manage or approve IT spend on specific projects or initiatives I make recommendations on significant items IT expenditure My opinion is often sought on on significant items IT expenditure I am rarely/never involved in significant IT spend discussions 3. Email Preferences From time to time, we may wish to send you emails informing you about offers and discounts that you may be interested in. Do you want to receive such emails from us? Yes    No From time to time, our partner organizations may wish to send you emails informing you about offers and discounts that you may be interested in. Do you want to receive such emails from third parties? Yes    No 4. All Done That's it! Just click the button to sign up, and we’ll send an confirmation email to the address you’ve given. Once you follow the link in that email, you should be able to start taking part in our surveys.
Team Register, 15 Dec 2003

O2 test runs 3G in Ireland

O2 on Monday announced that its 3G network is in operation and is currently being piloted by a number of customers. The company is required under ComReg licensing conditions to open its network before the end of this year. Vodafone already made a similar announcement in May of this year, when it revealed that its 3G network was being used by a number of selected business clients. The other license holder 3, owned by Hutchison Whampoa, has yet to make an announcement on the opening of its Irish 3G network, although communications regulator ComReg said in its last quarterly update that 3 had in fact started services. O2 announced that some 25 customers have been equipped with Nokia 6650 handsets and are using O2's 3G network for their voice and data communications. The customers are using the service on a pilot basis and, as such, are not paying for it at present. A spokesperson for O2 said that it was envisaged that they would become paying customers after a number of months. In addition to voice services, the company said that initial applications would centre around high speed Internet access as well as video messaging and other multimedia services. The company said that its 3G network coverage extends to over 35 per cent of the population and covers major urban centres such as Dublin city and county and the cities of Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Kilkenny. O2 said that it would continue expanding its 3G network across the country over the coming months. O2 was unable to give an exact date as to when the service would be fully available on a commercial basis. The company said that it hoped to bring mass market 3G services to Ireland in the second part of 2004 and into 2005. However, according to O2, the availability of a range of good quality handsets is the main deciding issue on a launch date. "We are pleased with the progress we have made in building an extensive 3G network and making it available to a limited number of customers," said Niall Norton, chief financial officer at O2 Ireland. "However, the success of 3G will be dependent on the availability of good quality handsets at competitive prices and on the growing market demand for compelling data services. We intend to be an industry leader in providing 3G services in Ireland and are committed to a long term investment strategy to ensure its success as a quality, customer friendly service." © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 15 Dec 2003

Sanyo sub-sonic mobile phone to ship by month's end

Japanese electronics giant Sanyo has developed a truly silent mobile phone. Instead of a loudspeaker, the handset, the TS41, uses the user's own skull to transmit the incoming call. Using bone to conduct sound waves isn't new, but this is the first time we've heard the technique being used for a mobile phone. Sanyo claims it's a world's first. When you hold the handset against your cheekbone, it vibrates and the vibrations are transmitted through your skull to the bones in your inner ear. They vibrate in turn, just as if they were under the influence of a sound wave and send signals into the brain accordingly. The upshot: the user hears a 'sound' that isn't actually there. Sanyo claims bone conduction makes the 'sound' easier to hear, especially in a noisy environment. Sanyo's handset will be offered by Japanese network provider Tu-Ka at the end of this month. The clamshell handset weighs 98g. Inside is a 2.1in, 176 x 132 16-bit colour LCD. On the back is a 1in, 64 x 64 16-bit colour screen that display the time. It can play 40-voice polyphonic ringtones. The TS41 contains a conventional speaker. Using it, the phone can provide 140 minutes' worth of talktime. With the sub-sonic speaker, it can only manage 130 minutes. Standby time is 400 minutes. ® Related Products Buy your next phone from The Reg mobile store
Tony Smith, 15 Dec 2003
server room

Massive MyTravel losses blamed on botched IT system install

MyTravel, the UK's biggest travel company, lost up to £60 on every holiday it sold last year. If that wasn't bad enough, the holiday group had no idea of the hole it was digging for itself - the firm thought it was making a profit of £40-£50 on each sale. Upshot, MyTravel fell £911m to the red last week, of which the lion's share came from trading losses. The company blames a botched IT system install for its woes. In 2001, the group put in a new £15m reservation system, from Anite Travel Systems to speed up computer traffic to and fro its Going Places retail shops. The system was also meant to interface with the group's new Oracle Financials installation as well as legacy systems. In an interview with the FT, Peter McHugh, chief executive, takes up the story: "Other than being old, the old systems worked fine. The new systems were supposed to make things better but when you do a major upgrade, the systems need to talk to one another and have interfaces and as the new system was implemented and lost the interface between them." MyTravel is not blaming the software, an industry standard (The FT notes that First Choice is also a customer and it produced strong figures last week), but "poor execution". This meant that important management information, including information on profit margin, disappeared in much of 2002. And no-one noticed! According to McHugh, the systems are now at the stage where they talk to each other and are producing enough information to run the business properly - but "it's still not 100 per cent". ®
Drew Cullen, 15 Dec 2003

E-envoy gets the chop

The UK Government's post of "e-envoy", currently held by Andrew Pinder, is to be ditched and replaced with a new job - "Head of e-Government". Four years after the position was first created "to champion e-commerce" in the UK and "spearhead a wake-up call to British business", the Government has decided it's time to change tack. Douglas Alexander, Minister for the Cabinet Office, reckons the appointment of a Head of e-Government represents an "evolution in the e-envoy role which will build on the achievements of the last four years". "The Head of e-Government will play a pivotal role in supporting the Prime Minister’s vision for public service reform. Their task will be to focus on ensuring that IT supports the business transformation of Government itself so that we can provide better, more efficient, public services." Recruitment for the new post is expected to begin early in the New Year. Elsewhere, the Government has published its fourth UK Online annual report, which shows, apparently, that the UK "remains one of the best connected economies in the world". That's because almost all of the population has - or knows where to find - access to the Net. What's more, the report maintains that the UK remains "one of the best environments in the world for e-commerce" with e-transactions topping £23 billion last year. The report is also upbeat about the accelerating uptake of broadband and improvements in the availability of high-speed Net access. What's more, it says that more than two-thirds of government services are now online with more than half of all Net users having used government services and information online. Despite this progress the Government is still concerned that more must be done to bridge the "digital divide". That's why the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and e-Minister, Patricia Hewitt, announced plans for a private sector-led "Digital Inclusion Panel", which will advise Government on how to get more people to hook up to the Net and digital television. Said Ms Hewitt: "While it is great news that so many people have access to the Internet, we must continue to bridge the digital divide. "The Digital Inclusion Panel will play a key role in helping us ensure that every home in the UK should have a connection to online services through a digital network by 2008 – whether through a personal computer, DTV, mobile phone or other device." ®
Tim Richardson, 15 Dec 2003

Germany regulates dialler market

From today, all PC dialler programs in Germany must dial only through 09009 numbers. All other numbers (including 0190 and 0900 numbers) are deemed illegal, according to a new decree by the German Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Posts. With these measures the watchdog aims to end the growing abuse of call numbers. Internet users can now simply block access to 09009 numbers. In Germany phone fraudsters have raked in €300 per call by using programs that secretly dial expensive numbers, sometimes even to foreign countries. Since most phone companies share revenues with service providers, rogue diallers seem to make good money. The German site Dialerschutz recently warned against diallers which connect through Emsat, Eutelsat's satellite system which provides telephony and data services to regions where terrestrial cellular networks have not yet penetrated. Apparently, Emsat also has a shared-revenue model. Earlier this year the Regulatory Authority cancelled the registration of almost 400,000 diallers and ordered the immediate disconnection of call numbers under the new Act on the Abuse of Value Added Services. "By taking this steps we make it quite clear that we shall not accept any grey area on the dialler market", said Matthias Kurth, president of the authority. ®l
Jan Libbenga, 15 Dec 2003

Bapco releases Sysmark 2004

Benchmark consortium Bapco has released the latest version of its PC performance testing suite. Sysmark 2004 uses an "updated" range of commercial applications in its scoring system, including Adobe's Acrobat 5.0.5, After Effects(R) 5.5, Photoshop 7.01 and Premiere 6.5; Discreet 3DS max 5.1; Macromedia Dreamweaver MX and Flash MX; Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Series, Access 2002, Excel 2002, Outlook 2002, Word 2002, PowerPoint 2002 and IE 6.0; Network Associates McAfee VirusScan 7.0; and WinZip 8.1. Most of these apps have been superseded by more recent versions, and we're surprised Sysmark 2004 doesn't use these later releases. However, Bapco does say that the latest suite is the first to contain app-level tests devised by "application experts". The 2004 release also attempts to take into account usage scenarios involving multiple apps running simultaneously, with users frequently switching between them. It also sends keystroke data "at a rate that approximates how fast a human will type" and copes with what Bapco calls "thing time... the time where the user is assessing what to do next. To reflect this real world occurrence, Bapco's workloads include think times between user interactions." Sysmark 2004 requires Windows XP and is on offer for the princely sum of $400, give or take five cents. ®
Tony Smith, 15 Dec 2003

American football star phones mom (in middle of game)

New Orleans Saints footballer Joe Horn set a new low on Sunday, becoming the first player to be hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty for using his cell phone during a game. The flash receiver caught his second touchdown pass of the day in a game against the New York Giants and then met teammate Michael Lewis in the end zone. Lewis had pulled a cell phone out of the padding wrapped around the goal post and then handed Horn the phone. Horn proceeded to call his mum in the middle of the game. "I had told my kids to be at home, watching the game, and I told my momma, "Mom, if I score the second one, I'm going to get my cell phone out,'" he said after the game. The gag did not go over well with officials or Horn's coach Jim Haslett. Horn's team was hit with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Haslett then laid into him on the sideline. "You don't do stuff like that,'' Haslett said after the game, according to the AP. "I know it was premeditated. I know it was national television. But you don't do it." U.S. footballers have entered a disheartening game of trying outdo each other with foolish stunts. Last year, San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens pulled a pen out of his sock to sign a football for his agent after a touchdown. "I have great respect for Joe Horn, but that's not original," New York defensive end Michael Strahan told the AP. "Terrell Owens already beat everybody to that stuff. That's bush league." Right. It was not possible to tell what brand of phone or carrier Horn was using. Lucky for him, the phone did not explode during the celebration. You can see a picture of the attention-needy player here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 15 Dec 2003
Broken CD with wrench

EMC eyes the server with $635 million VMware buy

In one of its boldest acquisitions to date, EMC has announced plans to scoop up virtual machine software maker VMware. EMC has pounced on a number of software vendors over the past year - Legato and Documentum - but none of the past deals place the company so squarely on the server. VMware makes the industry's premier set of partitioning tools for running both Windows and Linux on a single server and running multiple applications on a single system. EMC plans to grab the privately held VMware for $635 million in cash. The two companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2004 if customary approvals go through. VMware has been on a heck of a run over the last couple of years, as companies looked to consolidate their data centers and squeeze as much as possible out of every machine. The company has an impressive customers list and has forged strong ties with IBM, in particular, and HP and Dell. All three hardware makers resell VMware's software, and IBM touts the technology as a key piece of its Intel-based server software strategy. With VMware on its side, EMC will be looking to move deeper into server management and how. The company is already talking up a storage-to-server virtualization package. EMC has been working on a stealth project with VMware over the past year, according to EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci. The project includes building parts of VMware's virtual machine technology into EMC's storage management software. Tucci would not say exactly what this technology does or when it will roll out but tried to stir up interest in the effort with a series of vague comments. "I don't want to give a time for when we will launch it," Tucci said. "It will have a significant impact on things." Tucci did describe a scenario where VMware's software could be used to backup new forms of data. EMC can currently perform long distance backups of static information. With VMware's VMotion product, however, ECM reckons it might be able to do long distance backups of all the information on a server, including what is stored in memory and registers. It's this kind of talk that must have folks at IBM and HP worried. "VMware was a nice, little company that provided great value for IBM's xSeries (Intel servers)," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. "Suddenly - even if EMC still willing to do everything that VMware was - IBM won't be as comfortable." "IBM was willing to cede or at least share various software control points to VMware because VMware was not really a threat, but EMC is." The plot thickens at speed. Tucci, however, worked hard during a conference call with analysts to dispute such concerns. VMware will operate as a subsidiary and remain "open" and "committed" to past OEM and ISV relationships. "We have contacted (HP and IBM) and assured them of our openness," Tucci said. EMC, as you all know, has a long tradition of openness with IBM and HP, so these companies were sure to find comfort in this promise. On the Dell/EMC front, all looks well. Dell invested tens of millions in VMware and is in a hardware pact with EMC. VMware is stacked full of hardcore engineering types right up to the top of the executive ranks, and these people have longed for their products to be industry standards. It's hard to imagine them giving into EMC with the thought that all of the OEM and ISV ties would dissolve. Still, stranger things have happened. One of the more intriguing questions the VMware buy raises is how Microsoft will respond. Microsoft tried to acquire VMware last year, only to end up settling for Connectix - maker of VirtualPC. Microsoft has yet to roll out a server version of the the Connectix product, delaying the release several times. These delays come as Microsoft has refused to support customers who use VMware. Will EMC be able to put some pressure on Redmond to field support calls from now on? Potential troubles aside, VMware now has a larger sales force and services organization backing it up. The company has been profitable for five quarters in a row, and should post between $175 million and $200 million in revenue next year. EMC could provide the VMware folks with a much bigger channel for moving the GSX Server and ESX Server products. On the EMC side, the company is confident it can handle integrating three software companies into the fold at once. Legato is moving along nicely, and the Documentum deal is about to close this week, Tucci said. EMC has truly upped its position in the data center management space with all of these acquisitions. The fact that a vendor such as IBM did not snatch VMware first points to EMC's intense ambitions and focus moving forward. Whether or not the storage giant can beat out server rivals for CIOs' hearts remains to be seen. But the groundwork is well underway for such a move. ®
Ashlee Vance, 15 Dec 2003

Israel accelerates free software migration

The strategic decision to loosen dependencies on Microsoft software instigated by the Israel Department of Commerce is gathering momentum in other government departments. More intriguingly, departments are demanding that Microsoft follow suit with its Thai price cuts - which Microsoft has steadfastly refused to contemplate in the more affluent EMEA market. Writing for Israel's Ynet, Gal Mor reports that the Israeli Treasury has decided to walk away from the Government's contract with Microsoft. Signed two years ago, the contract expires this month, and the ministry is testing localized builds of Mandrake Linux. The Department of Commerce was the first to break cover, and has begun a project to switch most, but not all, of its desktop users from Windows/Office to Open Office running on IBM hardware. OpenOffice now supports Hebrew and Arabic - right to left languages vital in the country. However the Financy Ministry holds a key strategic position in the procurement process. Departments which want to sign deals over 400,000 sheckels (around $90,000) will need the Treasury's blessing. Microsoft heaped scorn on the Commerce Department's decision to abandon Office for the software libre alternative. The procurement decision relegated users to second best, said local Microsoft officials, comparing OpenOffice 1.1 functionality to Word 97. But that appears to be plenty good enough for the department. The cost of migrating away from a Microsoft desktop infrastructure is far from trivial, but appears to be worthwhile for an increasing number of public sector users. It raises the tantalizing question: will Redmond respond to price cuts similar to those made in Thailand recently? ® Related Stories MS scorns Israeli OpenOffice defection Israel slams the door on Microsoft Apple Israel chief calls for 'Save Hebrew' write-in Microsoft's Mac Hebrew snub prompts Israeli AntiTrust complaint Mac users to MS: your Right to Left defence is Upside Down Antitrust trouble brewing for Microsoft in Israel
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Dec 2003

Very flat, Norfolk – for Voda users

Vodafone users in East Anglia are still suffering connection problems, the monster mobilephoneco confirmed this evening. On Saturday, punters in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire reported their inability to register with the Voda network, rendering their phones effectively useless. This glitch was resolved, only to be replaced by another unrelated problem hitting users in the area today. As a result some (not all) subscribers in the region have been unable to use their mobile phones. A spokeswoman for Vodafone said that tests were ongoing but that the "root cause had yet to be found". It's hoped the service should be fully restored by the end of the day, she said. ®
Tim Richardson, 15 Dec 2003

IBM mulls sending engineer jobs to India

IBM is planning to move up to 4,730 programmer jobs offshore, the Wall Street Journal reports today. The plans are still under debate, according to the newspaper, which cites internal documents, but involve Application Management Services group, part of IBM's Global Services operation. As is the modern fashion, a final humiliation will be expected of the doomed US workers: they'll be expected to train their offshore replacements. While the trend to move backoffice functions such as administration, accounting and call center support to cheaper locations such as India and China has been evident for some time, only this year have CEOs targeted trained IT professionals. Estimates suggest that one in ten white collar jobs Stateside will be sent offshore by the end of 2004. But is this the whole picture? The CEO of a privately held software company told us recently that in contrast to IT jobs which demand 'real' engineering skills, such as the C++ programming language, 'dot.com' jobs involving web design or database work were overpaid. He told us he could save money and employ more US citizens: resulting in a net gain for the economy. However, publically quoted companies such as IBM are under pressure simply to return higher profits to their shareholders, and can't afford to be so altruistic. ® Related Story US tech industry staff decimated in offshore stampede Intel's Grove: US software, services face meltdown
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Dec 2003