21st > January > 2004 Archive

Motorola chip biz reports rising orders, sales

Motorola's soon-to-be-independent chip division made sales totalling $1.4 billion during the group's fourth fiscal quarter, the company said yesterday. That figure represents a two per cent increase over the same period last year and sequential growth of 12 per cent. Orders increase 14 per cent during the quarter to $1.4 billion. Motorola said the increase on sales and orders was mainly due to increased activity among the Semiconductor Product Sector's customers in the networking arena. SPS' income was up too: GAAP operating earnings rose from $18 million in Q4 2002 to $25 million in Q4 2003. Excluding one-off items, operating earnings for the quarter totalled $51 million, up from $7 million in the year-ago quarter. For the year as a whole, however, the division lost $297 million on sales of $4.86 billion. Contributing to the loss was $74 million worth of employee redundancy payments, $30 million of which was taken in Q4. Motorola as a whole notched up sales worth $8 billion during the quarter, up four per cent on the year-ago quarter's $7.7 billion, and 17 per cent sequentially. GAAP earnings reached $489 million (20 cents a share), up from $174 million (eight cents a share) this time last year. Excluding one-off items, net earnings totalled $409 million (17 cents a share), compared to Q4 2002's $291 million (13 cents a share). Looking ahead, Motorola said it anticipates Q1 2004 sales of $6.4-6.8 billion, yielding GAAP earnings of five to seven cents a share. ® Related Stories Motorola seeks SEC approval for chip biz spin off Motorola taps former Sun prez Zander as new chief Motorola touts chip tech to would-be licensees
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Nintendo preps dual-screen portable console

Nintendo today announced a new portable games console with two screens and two CPUs. However, the company denied the product was intended to go head-to-head with Sony's upcoming PlayStation Portable (PSP). The device, tentatively dubbed the Nintendo DS, for 'Dual Screen', will sport a pair of 3in backlit displays, one above the other, backed by dual ARM-based processors and 1Gb of RAM. It will ship later this year. Nintendo will reveal more about the device at the E3 show on 12-14 May in Los Angeles. That's the venue at which Sony is expected to launch PSP, the giant's first attempt to extend the PlayStation brand into the mobile gaming market. The device is believed to be scheduled to ship in November. The two machines will not compete, Nintendo said. "We're not trying to take on PSP, because this machine will be completely different than anything that exists right now," said Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa, according to Reuters. ® Related Stories December bonanza for Game Cube sales How Nintendo almost beat Nokia to the gamephone Nintendo signs IBM for next-gen console New PSP spec to feature 32Mb of RAM Sony pencils November for PSP global launch Sony Playstation Portable pics pop up on web
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Sun buys another piece of its N1 vision

Sun Microsystems continues to refine its data center technology plans via acquisition, announcing Tuesday an agreement to buy networking start-up Nauticus Networks. Sun's intentions for the Nauticus technology seem pretty clear. The privately-held company makes switches that process and accelerate SSL traffic and builds fairly complex load balancing gear. Sun has for some time now been looking to break up different forms of network traffic to cut down the processing load of main server CPUs. Nauticus would certainly help nudge these ambitions along. Nauticus makes its own chipsets that could be built into Sun gear. Sun could also choose to sell the Nauticus switches, although this seems less likely given past chatter from the house that McNealy built. Sun has multicore processors scheduled to arrive this year and next that will handle some SSL processing. In addition, the company has talked about offloading TCP/IP traffic onto separate processors. The idea is not new with companies such as Alacritech already selling product. Our guess is that Sun will use the Nauticus chipsets to complement its own processor work. In total, the Nauticus technology would add to Sun's N1 notion of making data center management easier. Over the past two years, Sun has acquired storage networking company Pirus and software makers CenterRun and Terraspring to bolster N1. Each buy added another layer to the grand plan of having applications provision and manage themselves across server and storage systems from a number of vendors. Sun is not the only hardware giant to have such fanciful thoughts. HP, IBM and EMC are have their own N1-like visions. Dell, of course, will partner to deliver the technology. Sun has placed an all-cash bid for Nauticus, but the exact financial terms of the deal remain a mystery. It's expected to close in the next three months. ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2004

Check Point launches dewormer for internal networks

Check Point Software today launched Interspect, a family of security appliances designed to block the spread of computer worms across internal networks. The appliance segmentg internal networks into security zones to block the spread of worms such as Nimda and Blaster, which spread like wildfire if left unchecked. If a worm-infected laptop is, say, connected to a network, the InterSpect appliance blocks the PC from general access and places it in a quarantined area where it can be more easily decontaminated. This gives sysadmins breathing space when dealing with security flaps. Cisco's Network Admission Control program also combats computer worms in internal networks. Nick Lowe, Check Point director for Northern Europe, says his firm's approach scores over Cisco's by avoiding the need to install client software. Host-based intrusion preventions systems block suspicious behaviour, such as that generated by worms. But the technology is expensive and subject to false negatives, Lowe says. Sorting the wheat from the chaff Check Point is best-known for its perimeter security VPN and firewall products. But last year the company proclaimed its intention to develop technology for internal networks and Web security. Interspect falls under Check Point's new, bigger remit. InterSpect appliances inspect Intranet traffic to block malicious behaviour such as traffic associated with known vulnerabilities. Check Point says its kit can, by using this technique, pro-actively block attacks before virus definitions. InterSpect appliances are based on Check Point's Stateful Inspection and Application Intelligence technologies and designed specifically to inspect the protocols and applications used on internal networks. According to Check Point, InterSpect is better than products designed for perimeter security within Intranet environments because of its greater awareness of internal applications and protocols (such as database protocol SQL). Check Point InterSpect appliances are available immediately in three flavours costing from $9,000 to $39,000. The devices are rackmountable to make them suitable for deployment in service provider environments. Competition is supplied by the likes of Top Layer Networks, Mazu Networks and others. ® Related Stories Check Point looks beyond the perimeter Check Point bolsters apps security defences Don't put app protection on your firewall, Mr Jones Cisco combats network worms
John Leyden, 21 Jan 2004

SGI renders graphics kit full of Linux tools

SGI is trying to make Linux developers look better. The high-end graphics specialist has kicked off a two phase plan to put Linux at the center of the visualization market. Phase one will see SGI contribute more work and code to open source graphics projects, along with the release of a Linux developer tool kit. Phase two will have SGI ship a version of its Itanium 2-powered Altix server that is chock full of GPUs. SGI has been working on projects such as Chromium, DMX, OpenGL and OpenML for some time, but officials say the company is really, really serious about this work now. How serious? Well, it won't commit to any manpower or financial estimates, but is demonstrating a heightened, optimistic tone when discussing the efforts. And why not? SGI sees Linux servers as the low-cost future of the graphics market. Unix and Xeon customers at bio-informatics companies and universities, for example, are looking for ways to perform graphics-heavy tasks on hardware they can afford. And it's Linux running on SGI's Itanium 2 Altix servers that will take them to this promised land. With this in mind, SGI is trying to bulk up Linux to make it perform well on large, multi-CPU, multi-GPU servers. It is putting out the SGI Visualization Developer Tool Kit for Linux to help coders port software onto the Itanium 2 boxes and then tune the applications. The toolkit contains code examples, techniques for moving from single processor to SMP systems and early access to SGI's OpenGL Performer, OpenGL Volumizer and OpenGL Vizserver. "We are taking this first step to get the community really excited," Simon Hayhurst, a product manager at SGI. SGI says the toolkit will help lay the foundation for the GPU-rich Altix server it plans to release later this year or possibly in 2005. A few, select partners have already started testing the four-processor box, but SGI is not saying much about the hardware beyond that. It did, however, describe the box as an Itanium 2 follow-on to the the Onyx4 Ultimate Vision system released last year. With the Onyx4, SGI turned to ATI for commodity graphics parts. SGI thinks it can take the same route with its Itanium 2 boxes and lower the cost of high-end hardware, making it possible for new companies to get giddy about graphics. ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2004

Bradford IT staff vote to strike

Public services in Bradford could be crippled causing widespread disruption if a proposed strike by IT staff goes ahead later this month. IT workers voted in favour of industrial action following concerns over Bradford Council's plan to privatise its IT department. Although the council's plans are still at an early stage with a contract winner not expected to be named until the summer, workers are concerned about what might happen. Such is the strength of feeling, more than 90 per cent of those balloted by public sector union, Unison, voted for strike action. The 100 or so staff who work in the IT department are worried that any move to bring in private finance to run the service will put their jobs and pay-and-conditions in jeopardy. Unison accepts that if the strike goes ahead it would see the council's business "grind to a halt". A 48 hour strike by all IT staff is due to begin on January 29 with a further seven days of action by data room staff expected to go-ahead from February 2. Unison regional officer Chris Jenkinson,is meeting IT staff today to plan the proposed strike action. In a statement Mr Jenkinson said: "The ballot shows there is overwhelming support for strike action which would have huge implications for the council. The authority would be unable to carry out many of its basic duties, including paying housing benefits. "Our members are deeply worried that a private company would set about slashing wages and conditions to maximise profits. They want to remain as council employees and be seconded to any private company brought in to run the service." He added that Bradford's IT department was "not a failing service" and that staff had worked hard to keep it running, despite "chronic under-funding". He explained that the ballot showed the "strength of feeling" among staff. Jenkinson said he hoped a settlement would be reached, but issued this warning: "A strike would see the council's business grind to a halt and we hope this can be resolved before it is necessary to take this action. "But if there are no guarantees forthcoming our members have said loud and clear that they will be forced to strike to protect their employment prospects." Council leaders held meetings last night to discuss the prospect of strike action and are expected to respond later today. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Jan 2004

Microsoft prepares Mike Rowe legal exit

Microsoft has started making the first sounds about extricating itself from the brouhaha surrounding its legal threats against 17-year-old student Mike Rowe and his MikeRoweSoft.com domain. The Beast of Redmond crossed the line when it sent in its lawyers over the site Mike uses to display his Web design talents, claiming that it infringed the company's trademark. It even went to the trouble of playing out the classic sting where it offered a low amount of money in order to get the owner to ask a higher amount and so "prove" his bad faith with regard to the domain. However, following a huge amount of negative press coverage across the world, Microsoft is now telling reporters that it may have taken the case "too seriously" after all. Microsoft takes its trademarks very seriously, we are told, and the official line is: "We are currently in the process of resolving this matter in a way that will be fair to him [Mike Rowe] and satisfy our obligations under trademark law." The question of obligation is a misleading reference to the stipulation under US law that a trademark holder defend itself against misuses or risk losing that trademark altogether. Why that does not exist here is that MikeRoweSoft is not a misuse of the trademark Microsoft, it is merely a man's name - Mike Rowe - with Soft put on the end, amounting to a phonetic approximation of a different word. Funny how Microsoft's lawyers missed that. However, while Microsoft admits it may have taken it all too seriously, are we in danger of taking Microsoft's apparent promises too seriously? The Beast has not apologised and, note, it has not accepted that Mike Rowe has the rights to the domain or that it has no legitimate claim on it. It won't be the first time that Microsoft, or any other big company, has backed down in the face of press hostility only to relaunch its efforts once the fuss has died down. Due to the nature of the media, this second strike is very rarely reported because it is viewed as "old news". We only hope that Mike Rowe gets an apology and such a promise from Microsoft before he gives the all-clear signal - something that Microsoft's lawyers will be pushing for right this very second. ® Related story Microsoft lawyers threaten Mike Rowe (17)
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jan 2004

NZ army reels under rebranding frontal assault

LogoWatchLogoWatch Hot on the heels of our report yesterday regarding an acute case of rebranding madness in Taiwan, we discover that the infection has already spread to the Antipodes. Evidently, not even New Zealand's battle-hardened grunts are sufficiently well-armed to fight off this threat to national security, despite calling in a tactical reserve of politicos to help repel the enemy at the gate. The striking new image is attracting heavy fire from NZ's National Party, who rejected the suggestion that the old logo (Motto: Kiwis Armed to Make a Difference) did not adequately reflect the army's changing role in society. National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power called the decision "ridiculous" and attacked Defence Minister Mark Burton for suggesting that "the new brand would give New Zealanders 'familiarity, security and trust' in the Army". Still, the new badge cost a mere $24,000 - that's a lot of bangs for your bucks in rebranding terms - and the focus-group-driven makeover gurus responsible for it threw in the traditional checklist of pseudosymbolism as part of the package: New logo communicates teamwork and unity Red: reflects the ideas of tradition, respect and loyalty Black and white: colours with which all New Zealanders identify The Ngati Tumatauenga name: shows the Army's respect for Maori culture and gives it a uniquely New Zealand character Silver fern: symbolises national pride Mercifully, you cannot yet enjoy this pictorial representation of "tradition, respect and loyalty" on the army's website where the old crest continues to hold its ground. A quick poll of the Vulture Central focus group revealed that the embattled veteran, featuring a sword, taiaha, crown and lion - is more than adequate to represent the NZ army's brand frontage. Here's what it says to us at El Reg: Lion: We're as hard as bloody nails Sword and taiaha: We're armed to the teeth Crown: If you so much as think about despoiling the set of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King we'll chop your ears off and turn them into a pouch for chewing tobacco There you go: that's the sort of spirit we need to to contain the global spread of rebranding madness. In the words of the reader who first sounded the air-raid warning on this threat to humanity: "Maybe a way forward would be to sent the New Zealand Army to kill all marketing executives with job titles that nobody understands, for example; Strategic Marketing Focus Co-ordinator." Excellent. Where do we sign up? ®
Lester Haines, 21 Jan 2004

Speed camera clocks motorist at 406 mph

Since we Brits already hold the land speed record as a result of jet-powered Thrust SSC going supersonic in 1997, it seems only natural that we should attempt to be the first nation to break the sound barrier with a petrol-driven reciprocating-engined vehicle.
Lester Haines, 21 Jan 2004

Fossil buries ill-fated Palm OS wristwatch

Watchmaker Fossil appears to have decided that its attempt to bring a Palm OS-based timepiece to market was so cursed that it has quietly dropped plans to offer the product. According to the company's web site, the three planned Wrist PDA models - Sport, Casual and Dress - all now feature the message: "We are sorry, but this product is no longer available." Not that it ever was. And the price of each watch, originally around $299, is now listed as $0. The Wrist PDA had a chequered history. Originally announced over a year ago, in November 2002, the timepiece won a Best of Comdex award for its innovative attempt at squeezing a PalmOS 4-based PDA into a wristwatch. Alas the device failed to live up to its promise. At the very least, it missed its initial June 2003 launch window, and suffered a series of shipment delay during the latter half of the year. We were told last June that the timepiece would ship as planned, but despite a flashy New York coming-out party, the Wrist PDA was delayed again, again and again. Amazon.com, the erstwhile exclusive online supplier of the line, dropped the WristPDA from its portfolio last September. A few days later, Fossil blamed the delays on its WristPDA manufacturing partner, Flextronics. At the time, the company would not give a revised ship date. "Once production complications have been resolved and product quality specifications have been met or exceeded, Fossil will begin shipments of the Wrist PDA with Palm OS," Fossil told The Register. The new message on the company's web site suggests it no longer feels that those two goals can be met. ® Related Stories Fossil blames Flextronics for Wrist PDA delay Amazon.com drops Fossil Wrist PDA Fossil Wrist PDA delayed to 30 Sept. Fossil delays US Wrist PDA shipment Fossil says Wrist PDA will ship in the US this month after all Fossil puts back Palm Wrist PDA launch to 2004
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Asus unveils Dothan-based Centrino notebooks

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Notebooks AsusTek has introduced its latest Centrino-based notebook line, the M6000N series, which will feature Intel's upcoming 90nm 'Dothan' processor. Offering 14.1, 15.1 and 15.4in screen options, the range features 40, 60 and 80GB hard drives; DVD-RW and DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical options;512MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, expandable to 2GB; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics with 64MB of video RAM; and a range of I/O, including 1394, four USB 2.0 ports, a four-in-one card reader (SD, MMC, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro) and a four-speaker surround sound system. The family's wireless networking support comes courtesy of Intel's WirelessPro 2100 802.11b/g add-in card. The M6000N series will ship with 1.3GHz to 1.7GHz Pentium M processors with 1MB of L2 cache - the current 130nm 'Banias' chip - and a 1.8GHz version with 2MB of cache: Dothan. Asus doesn't name the processor as such, but it's clear that's what it is from the cache size. Asus did not disclose pricing or availability. Toshiba has extended its Portégé line with the A100 - the company's attempt to match the look of Apple's 12in PowerBook G4. The A100 sports "brushed aluminium-style keys and neutral silver polycarbonate casing", so it lacks the PowerBook's aluminium shell, but like the Apple notebook offers a 1024 x 768 12.1in display. The screen is driven by the notebook's integrated Intel 855GM chipset, using 64MB of main RAM as a video buffer. The A100 ships with 256MB of DDR SDRAM. The Portégé is powered by a 1.4GHz Pentium M. A Centrino machine, it offers 802.11b wireless networking, backed by wired 56Kbps modem and 10/100Mbps Ethernet connectivity. Storage comes courtesy of a 40GB hard drive and integrated DVD/CD-RW optical unit. The Portégé A100 is available from Toshiba's website for £949 (excluding sales tax). It will also shortly be available from the company's reseller channel. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

How to help MS, harm OSS by not buying Microsoft

London's Newham Borough Council remains in pricing negotiations with Microsoft, but an apparently counter-intuitive migration issue bodes ill for the open source desktop alternative, and speaks volumes about the legacy hills that will have to be climbed in order to switch away from Microsoft. By not buying Microsoft software, Newham is severely restricting its ability to make a general deployment of open source desktops. So not giving Microsoft money increases the chances of it giving Microsoft money, and decreases the chances of it spending money on open source software. How does that work, then? Newham is an Exchange shop, and in order to run Linux desktops while sticking with Exchange, it would have to upgrade to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. If it doesn't upgrade, then it will be driven to continuing use of Windows clients, meaning that it has to maintain/extend/negotiate over its client licensing deal with Microsoft. According to Microsoft's lifecyle charts Exchange Server 5.5 actually went out of mainstream support at the end of last month, which makes not upgrading to 2003 something of a Microsoft issue too, but Newham has nevertheless said it's not upgrading, pleading lack of funds. Effectively, despite the knife-edge negotiations and Windows versus open source playoffs that have been public for some months now, Newham has Microsoft lock-in. Sure, there are alternatives to Exchange, but that is a 'rip and replace', that is an 'I wouldn't start from here.' Newham has gone on the record as saying that it does not see short-term savings through switching from Microsoft, but that it sees it as important to continue developing knowledge and skills in alternatives. So although it would seem to have little choice in the short term, it has some negotiating clout in that it has been mapping out possible escape hatches for the future. The key is that upgrading to Exchange Server 2003 would cost Newham several hundred thousand pounds which it has not got. The Register now proposes to start speculating, but the logic is so inexorable that we find it difficult to see how what we are about to say could be off the mark. Newham can't switch to open source because it can't afford Exchange Server 2003. But it's going to have to upgrade to Exchange Server 2003 one day, given that the product it's currently running isn't getting any younger. Should the money magically appear from somewhere, however, it will then be a lot cheaper for it to switch to open source desktops. Or if it's a couple more years down the line when it's a bit more confident about open source it could consider switching away from Exchange entirely. The trick for Microsoft is therefore to avoid striking short term discount deals solely on client software, as this would simply buy the customer time, and postpone the issue. Instead, it needs to maintain linkage and renew the lock-in with a deal sufficiently long, and sufficiently advantageous, to ensure that Newham carries on down the Windows/Exchange path. A long term deal would also provide some justification for larger discounts than usual. So when it's finally signed off, we wouldn't be at all surprised if Newham professed a long-term commitment to Microsoft, substantial cost savings and a satisfactory outcome. And that somehow, it managed to afford Exchange Server 2003 at some point in the near future after all. ®
John Lettice, 21 Jan 2004

CD Wow backs down in parallel importing row

The British and Irish record industries have struck a mighty blow for consumers by forcing online retailer CD Wow to stop selling CDs imported from outside the EEA. Upshot: customers will have to pay an extra £2 for each CD. Currently, CD Wow charges £8.99 for CDs. CD Wow's price increases could mean a big fall in sales for the company, considering that its prices will now be more expensive than those of many supermarkets. And boy, is the music industry happy. "It is not the consumer that will suffer, just CD Wow's profit margins. They made a lot of money out of cheap CDs," one insider told the FT. CD Wow settled with the British Phonographic Institute (BPI), two weeks before the two sides were due to meet in court over parallel importing. It still faces music industry action in Germany The retailer imported cheap CDs from Asia and sold them in Western Europe. CDs are cheaper in Asia, because the music industry deploys differential pricing. Briefly, record companies charge more in Europe because they can. Where there is differential pricing, e-tailers and consumers can arbitrage the difference to their advantage, by importing goods from the cheaper country. Manufacturers use, when they can, restrictive distribution contracts to stop cheap imports. Within the EU, this is illegal - we're supposed to be a Common Market, right? But trademark law, and maybe copyright law too - but that has to be tested in court - supports the manufacturer in enforcing restrictive distribution for their goods which come from outside the EEA, as the landmark case between Levi Strauss and Tesco confirmed. So much for Globalisation. It beggars belief that CDs should be subject to differential pricing. They are small commodity items and there are millions of them, which makes them ideal for buying and selling over the Internet. According to the FT, the BPI is mulling over sueing Amazon.com over parallel exports to the UK. A BPI rep later downplayed, but did not exactly deny the report, in an interview with The Register. ® Related stories BPI down plays Amazon.com 'illegal importing' probe The Tesco ruling - what does it mean for grey MS software?
Drew Cullen, 21 Jan 2004

France Telecom job cuts hoped to kick-start privatization

France Telecom is to shed 7% of its global workforce as part of its restructuring plans, helping the French government to kick-start its stalled privatization program. The carrier remains some way behind its European rivals in efficiency terms but its management team continues to make progress. The carrier is to lose 14,500 jobs during 2004, but insists the cuts will come about through early retirement and reassignment to other branches of the state civil service, rather than lay-offs. The cuts would move the operator close to its goal of cutting 22,000 French employees between 2003 and 2005. At the end of 2003, France Telecom employed approximately 216,000 people (126,000 in France and 90,000 abroad). It expects this figure to shrink to about 202,500 by the end of this year. Union representatives said they were concerned about the effects of the job losses. "It's going to lead to chaos in our services, and we're going to lose skills," said Jacques Lemercier, head of the communications workers' arm of the Force Ouvriere union. The cuts are part of France Telecom's attempts to gain operating efficiency, as the French government looks to restart its stalled privatization program. The French government's 56% stake in the company, which has a market capitalization of E56 billion, is by far the most valuable of the government's liquid holdings. By law, the French government's stake must remain above 50%, but a new law that took effect this month removed the government's obligation to maintain a controlling stake in the one-time national telephone monopoly. It is widely expected that the French government will sell a significant part of its holding in coming months. Unfortunately, the French operator still has some way to go before it can match the operating efficiency of some of its European competitors. In 2002, France Telecom was nearing collapse after a spending spree left it facing a huge debt pile of E68 billion. However, a combination of new management, a highly controversial cash injection of E9 billion by the French government, and a restructuring program, has helped put the carrier on the road to recovery. France Telecom is currently saddled with a debt burden totaling E49 billion. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related Research Voice Business Market Update: Enter the Titans
Datamonitor, 21 Jan 2004
Broken CD with wrench

Veritas expanding Linux utility offerings

Veritas has delivered the next steps in its Linux-based utility computing vision, expanding support for SuSE Linux with its Cluster Server, Foundation Suite and OpForce products. Cluster Server will also provide support for Vmware, underlining the continued importance of Vmware to Veritas despite the software's recent acquisition by storage rival EMC. Veritas has recently acquired several technologies as part of its move towards utility computing. As well as OpForce, it also acquired application performance and availability management vendor Precise Software Solutions in late 2002, and server farm management software start-up Ejasent earlier this month. Merger and acquisition activity in the utility computing space is rife at the moment and it is no surprise that Veritas has balanced its acquisition of Ejasent with the announcement of expanded support for VMware ESX Server, the server virtualization software that Veritas's storage rival, EMC, acquired at the turn of the year. Veritas has announced that its Cluster Server software is now available for VMware ESX Server, providing high-availability functionality for ESX virtual servers. Using Veritas Cluster Server, ESX users can now monitor virtual servers and fail over to another cluster node in the event of server failure. Veritas's continued support for VMware following its acquisition by EMC indicates not only the importance of VMware's software, but also the fact that it has retained a degree of independence as a subsidiary of the storage giant, which is a direct competitor of Veritas following its acquisition of storage management software vendor Legato Systems. EMC has committed to maintaining VMware's relationships with potential rivals. The move also highlights the fact that despite its acquisition of utility computing technologies that have some crossover with VMware, Veritas wants to continue its relationship with the firm. Veritas's recent acquisition of Ejasent might have given it some server virtualization technology of its own in UpScale, but for the time being VMware is the much more established player with valuable partnerships with the leading server vendors. Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor Related Research The Storage Outlook: Managing to maintain growth
Datamonitor, 21 Jan 2004

Ultra-Personal Computers – PCs in a pod

So-called 'ultra-personal computers', or UPCs, which squeeze a full-blown PC into a form factor more reminiscent of a PDA, have been touted as the next big thing for several years. The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has finally shown that the UPC may at last have become a practical proposition. The realization of the UPC concept can be attributed to a couple of crucial factors. First, component miniaturization, especially of high-quality VGA displays and hard drives, is now making a desktop-type experience feasible on a small device. Secondly, the commitment of chip vendor Transmeta to the UPC concept, with the latest generations of its low-power Efficeon and Crusoe designs, provides the necessary horsepower to drive devices based on a 'full' desktop operating system as opposed to the relatively slim-line operating systems used by today's PDAs. But is there really a market for such devices? To date, none of the vendors pursuing the cause has made much of an impact on the global market. Indeed, some have been stuck in a pre-production phase lasting several years. Can they escape? PDAs and smart phones have sold the concept of ultra-portability to millions of users worldwide, but not without a few caveats. Synchronization technology might help blur the distinction between document formats on the device and those on the desktop, but the relative lack of sophistication of high-end business applications on PDAs could provide an opportunity for pygmy PCs. The familiarity of the desktop operating system, or systems, used by UPCs might also prove a boon for corporates, with additional training, development of new applications, security considerations, maintenance and integration issues all largely-covered within existing policies. Of course, PDAs themselves are not standing still and are developing rapidly in terms of performance and integration with other systems. But the differences between the technologies involved could leave the door open to UPCs, which could prove more flexible than their more slim-line counterparts in many circumstances. What is really needed is a respected enterprise hardware supplier to back the concept, but many of the most likely candidates are already committed to PDAs. Without it, the UPC looks set to remain at best a niche product. Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor Related Products Browse for Pocket PCs in The Reg mobile store
Datamonitor, 21 Jan 2004

Broadband needs new milestones – BSG

The Government should begin thinking about the future of broadband in the UK before committing to "clear milestones" that should be reached before 2010. So says the third annual report from the Government's advisory body, The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), which reckons that while "significant progress [has been] made to date...there is no room for complacency as the challenge of delivering next generation broadband comes into view." The BSG highlights a number of areas it reckons are important to the UK's broadband sector. For instance, it wants to see the creation of "a thriving and competitive content services and applications sector in the UK - exploiting and optimising the potential of UK talent for creative media in a pro-competitive way". It also wants to investment encouraged in "next generation" broadband infrastructures and services "ahead of the demand curve" and reckons Government has a critical role in creating the right investment climate for technological development. Said BSG chief exec Antony Walker in a statement: "It's clear that broadband has taken off - people are seeing real benefits every day. The real challenge is to meet the growing expectations of both consumers and businesses as they adopt, adapt and absorb broadband into their daily lives and to make sure that we build a thriving and sustainable broadband market in the UK - this needs a new target for the next phase beyond 2005." According to the Guardian the Government is already thinking hard about these milestones and could even make them "election promises" by including them in its next manifesto. Last month, the BSG was nominated for an "Internet Villain" industry award "for being beset by a minority of interests, achieving little with their Government funding and not appropriately representing the true broadband industry". ® Related Story MP fingered for 'Net Villain' award
Tim Richardson, 21 Jan 2004

War against shoplifters goes hi-tech

A Birmingham- based crime reduction scheme has developed technology to help retailers to stay one step ahead of shoplifters in the fight against retail crime. Birmingham’s Retail Crime Operation (RCO) has gone live with a new database system that can predict patterns of criminal behaviour based on past experiences. Chris James, MD of Birmingham’s Retail Crime Operation (RCO), said the scheme has used database systems since its inception in 1999 but the new system is far more advanced. "The new system has a predictive element. We can look at patterns of data and analyse it in far greater details," he told El Reg. "By getting a clearer picture of what's likely to happen stores can be more pro-active rather than relying on chance to catch shoplifters." The database system, dubbed Active Crime Intelligence System (ACIS), is based on Microsoft Access. It was developed in-house by Birmingham’s Retail Crime Operation (RCO) over the last 10 months. "There was nothing on the market that gave us what we wanted," said James. James, a former police officer, said the system enabled it to warn member stores of who to look out for before crooks strike. This information could be used to prevent well know offenders from entering stores. Stores are emailed daily reports in the form of encrypted Word documents. These 'intelligence reports' contain photographs of suspects. The system contains details of the criminal behaviour of more than 7,800 offenders. The system can help prevent stock loss, costs from which are ultimately paid by honest customers. Active Crime Intelligence System has proved its worth in two months of operation. James reckons crooks are unlikely to change their offending behaviour in response to the technology. "People are creatures of habit," he said. ®
John Leyden, 21 Jan 2004

UK outsourcing flees abroad

Despite suffering a recent backlash from several high profile contract failures, outsourcing is firmly back in fashion with global businesses dramatically increasing IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) during 2003. According to research published today by Datamonitor, the total value of major global IT services outsourcing contracts during 2003 was $119bn, representing a 44 per cent increase over 2002. The number of outsourcing deals with a value greater than $100m was estimated to have increased almost 50 per cent to 244 during last year, while those worth in excess of $1bn more than doubled to 29. A clear trend identified by the report is a "massive increase" in the use of the offshore outsourcers, where clients cash in on cheap application development and management skills from low-cost countries such as India and China. The study tracked $1.66bn of contracts with an offshore delivery element in 2003, which represented a huge 890 per cent increase over 2002. The analyst firm observed that companies such as HSBC and BT Group have come under fire recently for their plans to replace some IT and back office processing positions in the UK with offshore labour. However, Datamonitor found that only a very small amount of deals in 2003 involved offshore delivery - just 1.4 per cent. The independent market analyst firm's IT Services Contract Tracker found that, this increase has largely been driven by big new contract awards by public sector organisations including the UK National Health Service and the US Department of Defense, which have brought in private sector firms to upgrade their existing technology infrastructures. Nick Mayes, managing analyst for Global Computing Services at Datamonitor, said: "There was a big surge in the number of mega-deals last year. But the majority of them will not be as profitable for the services providers as those long-term contracts that they signed in the 1990s, as it has become a buyer's market. "Clients have been able to squeeze some big cost reductions out of their incumbent suppliers, which are also being held to increasingly tight performance targets." IBM Global Services was estimated to have taken the largest share of major contracts in 2003 with 21 per cent, while Computer Sciences Corporation and HP made significant gains. Datamonitor said that these increases marked a reversal of fortunes for outsourcing firms, many of which had attracted a significant negative publicity in 2003, as clients including the UK Inland Revenue and the US Internal Revenue Service ran into problems with their incumbent suppliers. The study cited the UK Inland Revenue as a prime example: After ending a heavily criticized deal with EDS, the Government department signed a new $5.1bn deal with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in December 2003, in what ranked as the year's largest single contract. The biggest spending sector was found to be the central government sector where the analyst firm tracked $18.5bn of contracts, which was more than double the level in the previous year. The defence sector was identified as the second biggest investor, with $18.2bn in deals during 2003. ®
Robert Jaques, 21 Jan 2004

Gov.uk ain't got the knowledge

Intellect, the UK hi-tech trade association ,today gave the Government a slap on the wrist for failing to develop a coherent strategy supporting its stated objective of turning Britain into a knowledge-driven economy. The Government must develop a policy framework across Whitehall departments that is driven by No.10 and Treasury, if it is to put Britain's digital house in order, according to Intellect. And it says that a ministerial 'owner' of the project based in The Treasury, should be matched by a single owner on the industry side. Only such a pan-Government policy framework can help Britain realise its full potential as a knowledge economy, Intellect said. Giving evidence to the Trade and Industry Select Committee inquiry 'Progress Towards a Knowledge Driven Economy', Intellect director general, John Higgins, argued that technology underpins the tools and processes across all industries and government needed to support a knowledge economy. "The benefits of technology however, will not be achieved unless it is implemented with the necessary skills and understanding of change management processes," Higgins said. "Education of policy makers on how to best utilise technology to reach knowledge driven economy aims is essential and regulatory impact assessment must be improved to ensure that technology can be fully exploited to the benefit of UK plc." ®
Robert Jaques, 21 Jan 2004

PalmOne spreads into sandwich business

Lunchers more used to £2 Marks and Sparks Prawn and Mayo sarnies may balk at rival sandwich maker Benugo's £349 offering, but the costly confection comes with an unusual ingredient: a PalmOne Tungsten C. Yes, choose a Wilture ham and fig marmalade filling from the London-based purveyor of posh butties' Great Portland Street and Clerkenwell branches and you'll get a wireless PDA, too - to go, presumably. It's all in aid of Wireless Broadband Week (WBW), of course, which kicks off next Monday (26 January). The brainchild of Wi-Fi provider BT Openzone, WBW gives ISPs, hardware makers and software developers a public forum to propound the benefits of wireless Internet access using 802.11. ® Related Products Buy the Palm Tungsten C from The Reg mobile store
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Wi-Fi providers target train travellers

BT Openzone today said it will roll out Wi-Fi hotspots at 15 railway stations in the UK. The announcement comes a day after fellow mobile Internet access provider Broadreach said it will be offering to put Wi-Fi on British rolling stock, courtesy of a tie-in with Canadian railway Wi-Fi specialist PointShot. Openzone's roll-out will bring hotspots to London stations Euston, Liverpool Street, Waterloo, Victoria, Fenchurch Street, Paddington, Cannon Street and Charing Cross, along with Birmingham New Street, Leeds City, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh Waverley, by the Spring. Come Summer and it will have added access points at London Bridge and Glasgow Central. It will have some competition. Broadreach is already in Euston and Paddington thanks to partnerships with coffee shops, and Swisscom has a number of access points around Paddington. Openzone already has hotspots at other UK stations, including Ipswich, Norwich and Belfast Central Station. Broadreach, which offers net access under its ReadyToSurf brand, this week signed up to offer PointShot's RailPoint on-train Wi-Fi technology to UK rail providers. RailPoint has already been used in the US to provide wireless Internet on the Altamont Commuter Express in California. No takers have yet been announced, though Broadreach already has a deal with Virgin to roll-out Wi-Fi access on trains running between London and the Midlands. ® Related Stories Delayed GNER Wi-Fi train trial steams out GNER to spend £1m on Wi-Fi trains Silicon Valley to get US' first Wi-Fi train Related Products Visit the Wireless, 802.11 & WiFi Department of The Reg mobile store
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Motorola beats the Street with profits surge

Motorola had a good fourth quarter with a big leap in profits on a modest rise in sales. On the downside, handset revenues were down a tad - the company blames delays in shipping new product for the fall. Revenues in the quarter to December end were $8.02bn (Q4 2002: $7.7bn) and net income was $489m (Q4 2002: $116m). So Motorola gets to declare an earnings per share of 20 cents, comfortably exceeding consensus analyst forecasts of $0.16 EPS. The personal communications division didn't do as well as expected, pumping out Q4 revenues of $3.28bn, down three per cent year-on-year. Motorola blames the fall on delays in getting new handsets to market. The new handsets have been shipping only since mid-December, which means that Motorola missed out on the pre-Christmas sales rush. But on the bright side, "t he reception to these products has been positive from consumers, as well as from the wireless service providers which have placed significant orders for them". Also, the traditional seasonal sales slump in Q1 may be offset this year by stronger handset sales, the company says. ® Related Products Browse Motorola phones in The Reg mobile store
Drew Cullen, 21 Jan 2004

dabs.com rings up Xmas sales

Online retailer dabs.com enjoyed a bumper festive season with sales up 26 per cent in Xmas 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. The number of orders dabs.com processed also increased last Christmas. In November and December 2003, dabs.com recorded total sales of £30.47 million compared to £24.1 million for the same period in 2002. Consumer purchases on dabs.com accounted for £23.2 million, while Dabs' offline business-to-business sales division pulled in £7.27 million. dabs.com processed 103,720 individual orders in November 2003 and 108,351 orders in December 2003, a combined total of more than 212,000 orders. This is 16 per cent up on 183,000 shipments for the same two months in 2002. Digital audio products such as Apple's iPod and the Creative Labs' Zen were the most sought-after goods with unit sales up 185 per cent last Christmas. All-in-one multi-function devices (printer, fax, scanner and copier in one unit) also stood out as big sellers for Christmas 2003 with unit sales up 151 per cent on 2002's festive season. Retail industry group IMRG reports that Internet shopping in the UK reached a new all-time high in November, reaching an annual growth rate of 44 per cent compared to a three per cent growth rate for the UK retail industry as a whole. According to the IMRG, Britain's 16 million online shoppers spent £1.175 billion online during November 2003, accounting for seven per cent of all retail sales. ® Related Stories dabs.com profits double dabs.com pushes into corporate market UK etail Xmas sales top £2.5bn UK e-tailers 'lose £300m' in Xmas sales (because of flakey web sites)
John Leyden, 21 Jan 2004

Danish spammer fined £37k

A Danish company flogging telecoms kit has been fined a record £37,000 for sending spam. A Danish court handed down the Danish Krone 400,000 fine today after the company - Aircom Erhverv ApS - was found guilty of sending 15,000 unsolicited commercial faxes. Denmark, like the UK, is one of six European countries so far to have introduced new anti-spam laws based on an EU directive. In the UK, spammers can expect to receive fines of up to £5,000 if the case makes it to a Magistrates' Court. Should they opt to have their case heard by a Crown Court then spammers face an unlimited fine. Of course, that legislation has only just been introduced in the UK and it could be at least a year before the first cases of spamming come before a court. In the meantime, there's always the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) to give offenders a ticking off. Like the one today, where a London-based spammer was told off for sending "several e-mails" for a prank telephone call service and for a CDROM. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Jan 2004

PalmOne to axe 12% of workforce

PalmOne today said it will rid itself of around 100 workers - 12 per cent of its headcount - in a bid to streamline the company following its acquisition of Handspring. Todd Bradley, the PDA maker's president and CEO, described the decision to embark on this "second phase" of the integration of the two companies as "tough but strategic". The move centres on a "rebalancing" of the investment split between its PDA and smartphone divisions, and will "enable us to reduce overall spending", said Bradley. That, he hopes, will help the company achieve profitability in fiscal 2005. The company is currently a month or so into the third quarter of its 2004 fiscal year, so it's giving itself plenty of time to achieve the "growth and profitability" it's after. The company declined to state what financial impact the redundancies will have, or when it will account for the cost of the restructure, which will leave it with 740 employees. ® Related Products Visit our Palm, Sony & Handspring Department
Tony Smith, 21 Jan 2004

Oldest Working PC (redux)

More lettersMore letters The replies are still coming in for our call Oldest Working PC sightings. So here's another, final, round of contenders. Russ still runs the first computer he built in '77, completely homemade with hand-etched PC boards. Features are (among others): 4k of SRAM, home made cassette tape storage, wooden box enclosure and "blinky lights" This old-timer was programmed in Hex. "I run it every few years to see if it is still alive, and recently moved my collection of program tapes to my Sun workstation. I can still boot the machine by playing the tapes back from Sun's Audiotool." Another reader still worships his VAXstation-II (MicroVAX-II with graphics head) that he purchased new in August 1987. It got its first Internet connection in 1990, and is still his primary email machine. It runs VMS (version 6.2, now about seven years out of date), and has been amazingly reliable, especially compared to all the "Billy-box crap out there", our reader says. It only gets rebooted when a power failure outlasts the UPS. The Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago was the home of several TI-99 running interactive demonstrations a couple of months ago, another reader informs us. We told you about a group from Texas using old Commodore 64s, an Atari 2600 and a Compaq luggable as instruments, but there is also a band from Birmingham (UK) called the Spectrum Orchestra. They produce music and visuals at their gigs using ZX spectrum computers, which must give Sir Clive Sinclair a big smile. More info here. Ian Thomas says we missed one organisation famously still for using old computers, NASA. See this story about them looking for replacement 8086 parts for use in the Space Shuttles and supporting systems. Speaking of which, Leslie Donaldson believes the Voyager probes are the oldest working PCs (scroll down) out there. Total number of words among the six computers is 32K. Which is still 608K short of the 640K Bill Gates had in mind for us earthlings back in 1981 (to give Bill credit: he has denied this story ever since. ®
Jan Libbenga, 21 Jan 2004

Zip file encryption compromise thrashed out

Compression software companies PKWare and WinZip have agreed to make their rival approaches to encrypting zip files more compatible. The latest beta of WinZip's software is able to read files wrapped up and encrypted using PKWare's PKZip. Meanwhile PKZip, the free reader application, will be able to open up files compressed and encrypted in WinZip's programme. The agreement eases fears that the ubiquitous Zip standard could become fragmented by incompatible methods of encryption. Both companies have agreed to support the other's password-based decryption. This is positive for interoperability but shouldn't be confused as an agreement on a single standard for secure zip. PKWare's PKZip uses an RSA-based encryption algorithm but was allegedly slow in revealing the specs of its technology to WinZip. Because of this alleged delay WinZip implemented a cryptographic approach based on AES, the next generation US –government backed encryption standard. These rival approaches meant that, prior to this week's agreement, compressed files encrypted with one application couldn't be opened by the other - irrespective of whether or not you knew the correct password. Compatibility has never been a problem for unencrypted files. CBR reports that co-operation on interoperability between secure zip files between the two firms was kick-started by PKWare's new licensing program. This program, announced last October, offers free Secure ZIP licenses to competitors. Both firms continue to describe the others approach as proprietary, so an agreement for a single standard on secure Zip still looks some way away. ®
John Leyden, 21 Jan 2004

UK plays asylum card to expand visa biometric scheme

The UK Home Office has announced the next step in its love affair with biometrics. As of March, visa applicants in five east African countries will be required to provide a record of their fingerprints. This is what applicants for visas for the US have to do these days, but in Britain we appear to be going for the thin end of the wedge rather the 'fingerprint the lot of them' counterstrike favoured by the Brazilians. The Home Office move is an initiative to tackle asylum abuse rather than to guard against terrorism and, says the announcement, "is part of a Government action plan to tackle unfounded asylum claims from Somali nationals and fraudulent claims by individuals claiming to be Somalis [and] represents the next step in the Government’s phased roll-out of biometric technology to tackle immigration abuse." "We know that a significant proportion of asylum seekers claiming to be Somali are actually from neighbouring east African countries," says Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes. Indeed, and as the announcement says, that significant proportion is 10 per cent. The Home Office also knows, via its research service, how many asylum applicants claiming to be from Somalia it has. That number, for Q3 2003, was 1,440, which means that for that quarter the number of people it reckons applied for a visa in east Africa and on arrival, destroyed their documents and claimed to be Somali, was 144. Somali applications represented about ten per cent of the total for that quarter. The UK currently receives in the region of 150,000 immigrants per year, while total asylum applications for 2002 were 84,130. An estimated 42 per cent had some success (grants of asylum, 10 per cent; exceptional leave to remain, 23 per cent; allowed appeals, 10 per cent). So at the current rate we can assume fingerprinting all of the visitors from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda (Kenya to follow) will help catch 600 fraudulent applicants a year. We can't go on historical numbers, because Somali applicants went up 60 per cent from Q2 to Q3, and we can't say it will be wholly responsible for catching them, because many of them are already being caught by other means. Nowhere in the announcement does the Home Office tell us how much it will cost to equip the relevant visa offices with the technology. It does however reveal that the east African initiative follows "a successful pilot" with Sri Lanka which ran for six months from July 2003. This "led to the identification of seven undocumented asylum applicants who destroyed their passports after entering the UK, and a further two people have been prosecuted." Nine collars fingered in six months - outstanding. But it was such a success (sic) that the Sri Lanka project is being extended. There were 4,285 asylum applicants from Sri Lanka in 2002, with 3,670 of these refused. ®
John Lettice, 21 Jan 2004

Mobile DBMS – user requirement or vendor greed?

When you're carrying a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, writes Rob Bamforth of Bloor Research. Databases provide a very useful way to manage and access potentially huge amounts of data. Mobile networks from wireless LANs to third generation cellular are providing increased bandwidth, and handsets have client browsers and thin applications to connect back to the enterprise core. So why would anyone need a database on a mobile device? Most established large system database companies provide mobile and embedded versions of their products, and there are some additional companies who specialise only in this field, so is there really a need? Well, firstly I suppose it depends on how much value you place on the information you might wish to store on your mobile device, and how much you or your company wants to be able to manage it. It can be quite easy to store data in an unstructured way, but then it's still just raw data, and not necessarily useable information. On a mobile device, usability is key when there is so little time or functionality for fiddling with menus, pop-ups or mousing around. Then there's management to consider. The data might not be yours, but belong to the company you work for. There may be many reasons a company wants to keep control of information. Clearly there's a need for secure management to protect against loss of intellectual property, valuable assets like customer account lists or other secrets. But what about the effects of data protection legislation? If a company holds personal contact information gathered for one purpose, it cannot be wantonly used for another. When data moves onto mobile devices the risks of this increase, so managing this type of data through the controls of a mobile database becomes valuable. With all sorts of concerns surrounding corporate governance, the audited use of data, and protection of its access, become even more important. One way to assess this is to decide whether the mobile devices are an extension of the corporate infrastructure, with all the management controls and overhead which that implies, or a standalone tool to be managed by the employee. It was an easier decision to make when mobile devices were either mobile phones with the capacity to store only a few dozen frequently called numbers, or an intermittently networked PDA diary replacing a paper one. Now smartphones and wireless PDAs are creating new applications, as they become slim mobile clients. Not quite as fat as a laptop, with desktop operating systems, the standard office applications and familiar full function user interfaces. Not quite as thin as a 'network computer', after all, network access limitations dictate some standalone capability is required. For the applets and applications on the device this poses some challenges. Among them, secure management of data, given a limited memory footprint, low processing power and a wider variety of operating systems on the client, and potential networks for connection. It's this hybrid role that sets the requirements, and the limitations of mobile database technologies. It's a challenging environment, but with no current dominant platform, and high growth in volume of mobile devices, it's potentially a very lucrative one. Small wonder then that big players are keen to do small things with mobile data. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 21 Jan 2004

Adaptec tempts mobo makers with Serial ATA

A pair of storage vendors this week were all aflutter after inking large distribution deals for their products. Adaptec made some inroads with motherboard makers to have its Serial ATA chips built-in designs from Asustek, Gigabyte, Supermicro and Tyan. This opens a path to Adaptec's HostRAID software and RAID add-in cards for workstation and server customers. In addition, it should help further Adaptec's push to sell direct attached and NAS (network attached storage) hardware. Adaptec is touting up to 1.5 gigabit-per-second throughput per port with its Serial ATA RIAD product. Adaptec uses the same software to manage its SCSI, Serial ATA and upcoming Serial Attached SCSI products. Serial ATA gives customers a lower cost storage option than high-performing SCSI products. Alacritech also scored a big win for its TCP/IP offload cards, signing a distribution agreement with Ingram Micro. "There’s a growing demand for solutions that incorporate the kinds of products that Alacritech offers. Right away, we’ll be able to offer Alacritech Accelerators as part of a solution for our HP Authorized resellers that targets a specific need for the HP server customers. We’re pleased to extend this technology to our resellers and their customers," said Lori Snow, a vice president at Ingram Micro US. Alacritech's products offload TCP/IP requests from server CPUs to help speed up overall performance. ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2004

RIAA goes hunting for 532 more file-traders

The RIAA has launched Version 2.0 of its lawsuit filing program, suing 532 music fans in Washington and New York. The music label mob scrapped Version 1.0 of the lawsuit program after a federal appeals court blocked the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) from acquiring file-traders' identities from ISPs via subpoenas. The RIAA has now been forced to file suits against "John Doe" defendants and to acquire their identities through a longer, more costly legal process. The pigopolist mob reckons most of the 532 consumers had more than 800 files on their PCs. Once the trader's identity is discovered, the RIAA has graciously offered first to try and settle out of court for thousands of dollars before wringing its customer base through the legal system. The RIAA has been blasting out lawsuits in waves since June of last year with mixed results. Peer-to-Peer file-trading appears to be rising again after a brief decline. In addition, CD sales in the UK, which has yet to face the record labels' wrath, have soared, leading some to believe that attacks against your own customer base might not be the best tactic for reviving sales. With tens of millions of people trading files online, it will take the RIAA many years to complete the copyright sweep in the courts. To its credit though, the lobby group has implemented a firm, military approach to its program that could push things along. One Chicago lawyer who has settled close to 20 cases for song swappers suspects the RIAA may begin to raise the average settlement price as its forced to work harder in the courts. "They are mitigating their costs," said Charles Lee Mudd, head of Privacy Resolutions. The average settlement with the RIAA has been around $3,000, according to Mudd. The RIAA comes in with a standard form and after a bit of chit-chat walks away with its gold. Any requests to change the wording of the document quickly pushes the cost of settling closer to $20,000. Mudd has worked for a number of teenage clients as well as adults. None of the clients have yet asked Mudd to defend them in court. "I would love to test my legal theories if an individual wants to take the case to court," he said. "But for most individuals, the best option is to settle, especially when they could face much higher fines down the road." The big question is how much the RIAA's tactics will hurt its constituents in the long run. "I think this practice will leave a distaste in peoples' mouths for a long time to come," Mudd said. Consumers are already starting to realize that the legal, online music options pushed by the RIAA are a threat to the way they have traditionally enjoyed music and technology. It seems a tad unreasonable to sue your customer base and then expect them to buy poor quality music to fix the situation. ® Related Stories Coke's music download site falls flat Crypto plan to anonymise P2P, thwart RIAA Suing grannies for MP3 swapping - will it start in the UK? DRM: who needs it? UK label stands up for its customers HP users cry foul at death of the open PC
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2004

Nokia prefers Python to Perl for smartphone scripting

Nokia tells us that Python, not Perl, is the preferred language for scripting on its smartphone platforms. Last week Lee Epting, the VP responsible for developer programs, told us that an internal build of Perl for Series 60 would make its way into the wider world. This is still the plan, but in a statement released internally, Nokia says "Within the context of a relatively new platform, Series 60, one implementation of a technology concept tool will actually involve the evaluation of Python as the scripting language, with the existing potential for Perl to be a strong evaluation candidate in a secondary phased approach." "In order to get the best feedback into the viability of such technology concept tools, initial evaluation will be restricted within Forum Nokia to a limited group comprised of professional developers familiar with Nokia platforms and implementations." What this means, a Nokia spokesperson tells us, is that the company won't simply fling it at the company's 1.3 million developers, but offer a more controlled access program. We've learned of several projects outside Nokia which will may sate developers' appetites for building script-based applications, including a third-party Python. David Frith tells us about his MobileBasic, which is a Java-based BASIC interpreter that can create Java Applets or MIDlets for phones. A BASIC running in a JVM may sound slow, but it has its advantages, says David, as it makes interrogating net applications pretty trivial - as this code sample indicates - OPEN #1, "http://www.mobilebasic.com/HelloServer.php", "OUTPUT" PRINT #1, "Name" INPUT #1, N$ CLOSE #1 On the same theme, AppForge today announced that its Crossfire tool that brings .NET to PocketPC, Palm and Symbian UIQ and Series 60 devices would will eventually support additional languages to VB.NET. At $1,070 for a license, it isn't cheap but for Microsoft shops it's one of the quickest ways to deploy in-house apps across a range of devices. ® Related Story Nokia to release Perl for smartphones
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2004

FoTW: Apple is the most successful company ever, you idiot!

Flame of the WeekFlame of the Week From: Paul Mindolovich To: Ashlee Vance Subject: re: "How HP invented the market for iPod resellers" Article You're quite stupid. 1. The iPod has less DRM than anything a Wintel company could come up with for an MP3 player. 2. Being partnered with the most innovative, successful ( in this day and age of floundering monolithic PC companies - read: Dell, Gateway, et al... ) is one of the most brilliant moves a Wintel based corporation could have done. It's extremely forward-thinking and ballsy on the part of HP to have partnered with Apple. You'll see... You, like most Wintel-centric minded people, don't give anything having to do with Apple a halfway decent chance... You're ready at the helm to poo-poo anything that the little company that could tries to do to get itself a little more marketshare. - You simply and unequivocally do not relent in this regard. You can't give Apple credit for innovating, and you simply won't allow it more market share ( as per your article... It quite unabashedly reaks of the same old anti-Apple sentiment that permeates the most of Tech articles and the minds of most tech "reporters" like you... ) It would have been just too unbelievably unbearable for you to give cheers just once to Apple, right? You saw too many articles actually giving Kudos to Apple, and said "hmmm, how could I badmouth Apple today? - It's just getting WAY too much positive feedback for once... Uh-uh - mustn't let THAT happen..." Time and time again, you "naysayers" when it comes to Apple have been proven wrong. This will be no exception. And with this e-mail, we have proof of the paranoia that runs so deep through Apple users' minds. Who knew that our iBook could willingly produce such an anti-Apple story? Does Steve Jobs know about this? ®
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jan 2004

Microsoft watch requires three-fingered reboot

Ever since Microsoft announced its intentions to put its software into phones, TVs and cars we've had to suffer the lamest jokes about phones, TVs and cars offering Blue Screens of Death (BSODs). We deplore this kind of unimaginative humor. However Peter Rysavy, who runs a couple of community sites, one for Tablet PCs and a sideline on Microsoft's SPOT watches, has been having trouble with one of his. SPOT stands for 'Smart Personal Object Technology'. "Take off a sweater. Touch a thermostat. Have a co-worker touch your watch. All of those actions can at least temporarily disable your Abacus watch," he writes. Help is at hand, however. Peter found a way to revive the watch that DOS veterans will find reassuringly familiar: "I tried the three-finger salute for the Abacus (push all three buttons on the right side - I'm not sure if it's the same for all the other watches) to reboot it, but nothing much seemed to happen. The watch eventually turned back on a few minutes later. " Peter had lost his data, and the watch had reset itself to midnight on January 1st. A year and a bit into the great SPOT experiment, some fixes are needed. "The last thing we need is for them to turn off for 15 minutes every time it gets cold and we get a little static electricity buildup," Peter concludes. Microsoft isn't alone: today it emerged that Fossil's PalmOS smartwatch had been canned. And naturally, we'll shun the opportunity to perpetuate juvenile gags about downtime, BSODs and three fingered salutes. ® However, if it happened to you, it may look something like this: Related Stories Microsoft Spot watches delayed Fossil revamps MS Spot watch line
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2004