2nd > February > 2004 Archive
IBM's first dual-core G5-class processor will be the PowerPC 976. It will also be the first PowerPC fabbed using a 65nm process. So claims web site TeamXbox following up on a San Jose Mercury story presenting leaked Xbox 2 specifications. The Xbox-oriented site cites a variety of unnamed sources as the basis for its information. Said sources allege that the 976 will be based on IBM's Power 5 architecture, including the latter's simultaneous multi-threading facility - the same basic technology as Intel's HyperThreading - which allows it to process two program threads at once. The sites information, however, is at odds with details we received a little while back that purports to show IBM's 64-bit PowerPC roadmap. Dated December 2003, the roadmap calls the first Power 5-based PowerPC the 980, and has it fabbed at 90nm, not 65nm. The first 65nm chip is the 990, allegedly based on the undoubtedly upcoming Power 6 architecture. That said, the first dual-core PowerPC is based on Power 5 and fabbed at 65nm. However, it's down as the 9800, a name, like that of the 980 and 990, that have been cropping up on the rumour mill since early last year. The roadmap certainly looks like an official IBM document, but we note that the PDF we were sent was not generated by the software IBM usually uses for such work. It also uses the word "HyperThreading" to indicate the use of simultaneous multi-threading technology, and we find it hard to imagine IBM using an Intel trademark with one of its own CPUs, even on an internal roadmap. In short, the roadmap looks a little too much like a PowerPC fan's wish-fulfilment, and we're sceptical of its provenance. We're keeping an open mind on the TeamXbox data too, since we'd expect a version of the 64-bit PowerPC based on a more advanced architecture - ie. the Power 5 - to have a name that more clearly distinguishes it from the 970 series. At 65nm, the chip isn't likely to appear until late 2005 or early 2006 at the soonest, so the name should perhaps be considered provisional. However, with both Intel and AMD developing multi-core chips for their 65nm node product lines, it seems unlikely that IBM would miss this trick too. TeamXbox gives no clock frequency data, but the so-called roadmap suggests speeds of 4.5GHz and up. Again, that sounds a little too good to be true. ® Related Story Xbox 2 to sport three 64-bit IBM chips, ATI R500
ReviewReview The year's not even a month old and already the CPU market is shaping up for another exciting 12 months for the consumer. Following AMD's speed bumped Athlon 64 3400+ on 6 January it's now Intel's turn to play its hand and introduce the latest incarnation of the Pentium 4 processor, Prescott, writes Wayne Brooker. OK, so we've established that there's a new core with a new name, but what exactly makes a Prescott a Prescott? Well, let's run through some of the key features and what they mean to you and I. Prescott is built using the existing NetBurst architecture though it's created using a 90nm process, which in layman's terms means Intel has used improved technology to create a significantly smaller die and as a result is able to put the same elements in a much smaller area than was previously possible. This can bring with it several benefits over the existing 130nm technology in that Intel is able to reduce the core size, which leads to more cores per wafer and thus lower production costs. Alternatively additional features such as extra on-die cache can be added without the core size becoming uneconomically large and expensive to produce. There are other benefits to shrinking the core, including lower power consumption and as a rule faster and more predictable performance too. Although the 90nm process brings with it all these benefits, Intel has taken further steps to safeguard the future of the Prescott-based Pentium 4s and build in a little headroom. These steps include the use of strained silicon and a low-k dielectric material. Take the strain So what's strained silicon then? Inside the core of every CPU are millions of transistors - in Prescott's case, 125 million. One of the limiting factors that dictates how fast these transistors can switch and therefore how high a frequency a CPU can operate at is the speed at which the individual electrons in the current can transport themselves through the lattice of molecules that make up the silicone. Now, although silicon is a very efficient semiconductor as it is, engineers discovered that by stretching it (straining it) during the manufacturing process, the constituent molecules could be spread apart slightly making it easier for electrons to barge their way through. Sounds simple and it is, once the technology has been perfected. The great thing from Intel's point of view is that the strained silicon process results in around a 10-25 per cent improvement in drive current depending on the type of transistor, while adding only about two per cent to production costs. Ultimately this allows processors to run at much higher frequencies than could be otherwise achieved. If you're a trivia fan, a thousand of the transistors used in Prescott sat side by side would measure approximately the width of a human hair. So that's strained silicon, what about this low-k dielectric material business? Well, without getting too scholarly, your CPU is actually created in layers which sit on top of each other, and each of these layers is connected to the one above (or below) using metal connectors known as interconnects. Prescott has seven layers. By the addition of a low-k insulator - carbon-doped oxide (CDO) if you care - between these copper interconnect layers, wire-to-wire capacitance is reduced and internal signal speeds are increased. This is particularly important as the manufacturing process shrinks because the whole circuitry becomes much denser and more tightly packed which in turn increases the risk of signal leakage and cross talk, definitely not a great idea in a mission critical server. By adding an extra layer (previous P4s had 6), Intel has been able to draw a compromise between die density and manufacturing costs. More SSE So what else is new? Well, I'm sure you've heard of SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions) and SSE 2, a collection of specialised instructions designed, in Intel's words to "help accelerate a broad range of applications, including video, speech, and image, photo processing, encryption, financial, engineering and scientific applications". Prescott features 13 new ones, one for floating point to integer conversions, five for complex arithmetic, one for video encoding, four for SIMD-FP using AOS (Array-of-Structures) format and two for thread synchronisation. Not surprisingly Intel has christened this SSE 3. In true Intel fashion there is already support both available and planned to take advantage of SSE 3. Current titles include MainConcept (MPEG 2/4), xMPEG, Ligos (MPEG 2/4), Real (RV9) and On2 (VP5/VP6) with more planned for this year including Pegasys TMPGEnc 3.0, DVD Author, Adobe Premier (to use MainConcept codec), Pinnacle (MPEG Encoder & use DivX Codec), Sony DVD Source Creator ( bundling Pegasis TMPEG Encoder), Ulead (MediaStudio & Video Studio) and Intervideo, Pinnacle, Showshifter, Snapstream (All using DivX Codec) Last but not least there are several claimed improvements to Prescott's thermal protection capabilities and enhancements to the existing NetBurst and HT (Hyper Threading) technology along with a full 1MB of on-die Level 2 cache, an increased 16KB of Level 1 data cache and a 12KB micro-ops instruction cache. Also in the design brief comes speculative pre-computation that uses idle time to compute calculations it predicts may be needed next or soon. HyperThreading is a technology that Intel is very proud of and if it's a term that doesn't mean a lot to you, let me quickly explain the principle. It doesn't take too much technical knowledge to realise that having two CPUs beavering away on your behalf will be more productive than having a single CPU, and in essence that's what HyperThreading does. But rather than you needing to buy two separate CPUs, HyperThreading allows your single CPU to divide itself in half and work on two things simultaneously. Now you may be thinking that most processor can do that, but in actual fact when you're working on two things at once using a non-HT processor it's actually dividing its time back and forth between those two tasks rather than actually working on both at the same time. Despite how it might seem, HyperThreading isn't twice as fast as non-HyperThreaded processing, in fact it's not even close, but it does help provide a bit of a boost provided your software has been written to take advantage of it. Think of it kind of like employing a guy who can work with both hands at the same time slowly rather than employing two guys who would be significantly quicker. With three 300mm fabs online for 2004 Intel is obviously planning on getting large numbers of this chip on shelves in the shortest possible time, an area where rival AMD has struggled to perform recently. Announcing new processors is all well and good but if you can't buy them they may as well not exist. Performance Our initial batch of benchmarks certainly seem to suggest that Prescott is slower than its equivalent speed Northwood predecessor but I'd suggest it's not enough to be noticeable in general use. However, it's also perfectly reasonable to conclude that these initial results don't portray the whole story in that none of the benchmarks used were written to take advantage of SSE 3, HyperThreading or indeed a great many Prescott-specific features. Much as we saw when the Pentium 4 was first introduced it may be a case of having to wait a little while for software to evolve in order to see the full benefits of the newly re-jigged architecture. Impressive though many of Prescott's new technologies are, most have been implemented in order to give Intel room to introduce faster chips without needing to completely redesign it, probably up to around the 5GHz level if speculation proves accurate. Verdict So in summary we have a more feature rich if slightly slower processor with far greater headroom to scale to much higher frequencies. And the price? Well, OcUK has the Prescott 3.2GHz listed at £225.00 + VAT while the Northwood 3.2GHz is selling for only very slightly less at £222.50 + VAT. On that basis your buying decision is simple. If you want maximum speed today and nothing else matters buy Northwood. If, however, you don't want to face upgrading again in the short term and you're prepared to gamble that Prescott's new features will catapult it to ever increasing levels of performance as software learns to make the most of the new capabilities, buy Prescott. Intel 'Prescott' 90nm Pentium 4 Rating 80% Price See Intel prunes Pentium 4 prices More info The Intel web site Related Reviews Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition Visit The Reg's Review Channel for more hardware coverage
IBM Global Services' attempts to extend its outsourcing reach beyond its clients' IT infrastructure, and into its back-office departments such as finance and accounting, have been met with skepticism from fast food giant McDonalds. The resistance highlights some of the major issues facing IT services companies trying to establish themselves in new outsourcing areas. Speaking at a business process outsourcing conference in New Orleans, the head of McDonalds' shared services unit, Jerry Calabrese, said it had turned down IBM to outsource its finance and accounting functions, and it had regretted employing them to benchmark its processes. He said: "IBM wanted to send 70% of our finance and accounting work offshore, and we decided that it was not worth the risk. Finance and accounting is still new to IBM, there is no proven history there yet." According to Everest Group, IBM has 31.7% of the nascent finance and accounting outsourcing market, a figure inflated by a small number of large deals such as one with BP, which it inherited through its acquisition of PwC Consulting. Everest Group believes that IBM Global Services currently has only six of the 86 major F&A outsourcing contracts that it has tracked over the past seven years. This is in contrast to its dominance in IT outsourcing, where IBM Global Services secured 21% of major contracts tracked by ComputerWire in 2003. Like most companies considering a major outsourcing initiative, McDonalds decided to benchmark the costs of its existing processes to test whether it would reap any significant cost savings by handing them over to a third-party services provider. But Mr Calabrese advised an audience of finance department leaders that they should seek independent help in this area. "Choose someone who will not get one more cent after the study is done. When IBM were brought in to benchmark the study, it immediately brought suspicion within our organization that their numbers were simply to be used as the basis for a pitch. I would recommend getting an independent study. We got no best practices from IBM and we got nothing from them that we could leverage," he said. Mr Calabrese's comments are indicative of the problems that some of the large IT services companies are having in attracting major BPO clients. Hewlett-Packard has yet to announce a significant BPO contract win, despite having a network of global shared services centers. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related Research IT and Business Process Outsourcing in European FS
We have in the past made merry at the linguistic deficiencies of 419 advance fee fraudsters, but nothing the boys from Lagos have ever issued even comes close to what some chancer has just sent reader Joskyn Jones. The email purports to come from Citibank, (not a new line of attack, as we previously reported) and is a bog-standard phishing scam, to wit: the recipient is asked to verify details online and thereby inadvertently gives his or her credit/debit card number and PIN to the waiting phishers. However, this particular missive is so spectacular in its ineptitude that we are convinced it is unlikely ever to be bettered: --- citi_bank_
From citi_bank_ Sat Jan 31 02:19:56 2004
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 05:19:56 -0500
Subject: citi_bank Email Veerification
Dear _citibank Mebmers,
This leter was sennt by_the Citi_Bank serevr to veerify your E-mail addres_. You must clomptee this psrecos by clicking on the link below and enntering in the litle winddow your Citbiank Debit_ full card nummber and PiN that you_use on_the Atm Machine. That is done for your pocetrtion -m- becourse some of_our memebrs no lengor have accses to their email addseesrs and we must verify it.
To veerify _your_ _email_ adress and access _your_ _citibank account, clic on_the link below_.
Read it and weep - with laughter. What is really special about this magnificent piece of imbecility is that it seemingly comes from "americanfootball.com", a really convincing touch.
The link, btw, really does give a pop-up window over the main Citibank site. Once you have obligingly entered your details, you are informed "Your E-Mail Address Was Successful Verified", so they couldn't even get that bit right.
Here's a bit of advice for the people behind this nasty little scam: in the unlikely event that you ever lay your hands on some authentic credit card details, use them to sign up for a crash course in English, a decent dictionary and, for the love of all that's Holy, an at least half-convincing email address. Please - you're killing us. ®
Sony today said it plans to invest ¥120 billion ($1.13 billion) during its next fiscal year on 65nm chip fabrication line using 300mm wafers. Some ¥36 billion ($340 million) of that total will go toward production lines at IBM's East Fishkill, New York facility. Of the rest, ¥53 billion ($500 million) will go toward upgrading Sony's Nagasaki fab, and ¥31 billion ($293 million) on a Toshiba plant in Oita, South-west Japan. Toshiba is itself investing ¥42 billion ($397 million) on that facility. Test production from all three lines will commence during the first half of 2005, IBM said. The three firms will together ramp up to an output capacity of 15,000 300mm wafers a month, Sony added. Sony, IBM and Toshiba are jointly developing the 'Cell' microprocessor, expected to be used as the basis for Sony's PlayStation 3. IBM, meanwhile, is also working on the PowerPC-based CPU that will sit at the heart of Microsoft's Xbox 2 - aka Xbox Next - which will go head to head against the PS3. Both consoles' CPUs are expected to be fabbed at 65nm. The investment is aimed specifically at gearing up for Cell's production. Sony's 2005 fiscal year commences 1 April. ® Related Stories Sony PSX's 90nm CPU is 'not 90nm' Sony and Toshiba close to sampling Cell technology Xbox 2 to sport three 64-bit IBM chips, ATI R500 Xbox 2 to get 65nm CPU - report
US mobile operator AT&T Wireless may be the target of an acquisition bid by multinational mobile firm Vodafone, which is looking to increase its US presence. According to a report in The Observer, Vodafone is drafting a proposal for a takeover worth USD30 billion. If such a deal were to go through, it would represent the company's largest acquisition since it gained control of German operator Mannesmann in 1999, a deal worth roughly $170 billion. Any bid for AT&T Wireless would have to be approved by Vodafone's shareholders. It was reported that Vodafone chief executive Arun Sarin is keen on the proposal, believing it will strengthen the firm's presence in the US and be of commercial benefit in the long term. However, it is also believed that some of the company's largest shareholders may block a bid since it could reduce earnings over the next couple of years. In order to bid for AT&T, Vodafone would first have to divest itself of a 45 per cent stake in rival US operator Verizon because of US competition laws. Verizon has an estimated 24 per cent market share, making it the biggest US mobile network. However, the majority stake in the company is owned by Verizon Communications. Vodafone's minority share means that it cannot use its brand name in the US. AT&T has around 14 per cent of the US market. However, buying out the company would mean that Vodafone could rebrand it in a similar fashion to other acquisitions and integrate it into the Vodafone Group. AT&T Wireless announced on 22 January that it is exploring a sale. The company said that it encountered significant interest from other parties and, as a result, would examine strategic alternatives. Japanese firm NTT and rival US firm Cingular are also rumoured to be interested in the company. AT&T Wireless was spun off from AT&T Corporation in 2001. Vodafone released key performance indicators for the quarter ending in December last week. The company revealed that it had acquired over 4.3 million new customers in the quarter, increasing its customer base to over 130.4 million. Its total data revenues increased to 15.9 per cent of controlled service revenues for the year to December 2003 from 13.9 per cent for the prior year. The company revealed that it had 4.5 million Vodafone Live customers at the end of December. Vodafone is the largest player in the Irish mobile market. The firm acquired Eircell, the former Eircom subsidiary, in 2001. © ENN
Visto, the acquisition-hungry US firm, has bought Psion Software for an undisclosed sum. This will give it ownership of Psion's Transcend Mail, a push email/PIM product for mobile devices. The company is to integrate the technology into its portfolio of software for mobile operators. California-based Visto has now bought three firms since raising $50 million in equity financing in the first half of 2003. Psion Software was supposed to be a second revenue generator for Psion, joining Psion Teklogix, the PDAs-for-warehouses-and-carpark-attendants business, to keep the company afloat until the long-expected Symbian royalties start flooding in. So what will Psion do with this undisclosed sum? It has two choices: use it for corporate expenses, or pump it into Symbian, the smartphone OS invented within Psion and in which it is a major shareholder. ®
Virgin Mobile is sniffing around Danish no frills, low cost mobile phone outfit, CBB Mobil, according to Reuters. News of Virgin Mobile's interest in buying CBB coincides with last week's amicable resolution of a bitter row between Virgin Mobile and its 50:50 joint venture partner T-Mobile. As part of the healing process, Virgin Mobile is also going to buy-out T-Mobile's share in the JV, paving the way for a possible floatation perhaps later this year. And if Virgin succeeds in buying CBB it could lead to a massive shake-up of the mobile industry in the UK. According analyst firm Strand Consult, operators such as CBB have helped revolutionise the Danish mobile market. Employing low-cost, no frills business models, these operators have forced down the cost of using a mobile phone. In the last six months, for example, Strand reports that the price of a mobile minute has dropped from €0.17 to €0.09, while the cost of an SMS has fallen from €0.07 to €0.03. Now, Strand is seeing the business models employed by this new breed of Danish discount operator being exported to other European countries. Virgin's interest, it seems, is to acquire that expertise and bring it to the UK. As one senior industry source put it: "The mobile industry would be turned upside down in much the same way that the no-frill airlines have revolutionised the airline industry. No one from Virgin Mobile was available for comment at the time of writing. ® Related Stories T-Mobile and Virgin settle long-running dispute Virgin Mobile crows over record quarter
SCO has pulled the plug on its main Web site in response to a huge DDoS initiated from PCs infected with the MyDoom worm last weekend. In a statement, SCO said that its site was "flooded with requests beyond its capacity". "This large scale attack, caused by the MyDoom computer virus that is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, is now overwhelming the Internet with requests to www.sco.com," said Jeff Carlon, worldwide director of Information Technology infrastructure, The SCO Group. Rather than saying the attack was "overwhelming the Internet" it would be more accurate to say that the assault was swamping SCO's main site. The Internet, as a whole, is behaving normally. www.sco.com has been taken out of DNS records - effectively removing it from the Internet - in response to the DDoS attack. Netcraft reports that SCO may have taken this action under pressure from ISPs to put a stop to the http traffic been generated from infected machines. SCO said it expects the attacks on its Web site to continue until February 12, when MyDoom-A is programmed to stop spreading or attacking the SCO site. The company said it would outline contingency plans it intends to take to defend against the MyDoom attack later today. SCO has put up a $250,000 bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the author of MyDoom-A. Since the appearance of MyDoom-A a less prolific variant, MyDoom-B, has been unleashed onto the Net. MyDoom-B is programmed to launch DDoS attacks on both www.sco.com (not sco.com as previously reported) and www.microsoft.com. Both MyDoom-A and MyDoom-B infect only Windows machines. ® Related Stories Latest Email worm has SCO-facing payload SCO posts $250,000 worm bounty
A year ago, 10 Downing Street published a dossier on Iraq's security and intelligence organisations. It was cited by none other than Colin Powell in his address to the United Nations. Then a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University discovered that much of the 19-page document was copied from three different articles, one written by a graduate student. How did he know? In the document there was a listing of the last 10 edits of the document, showing the names of the people who worked on the file. These logs are normally hidden and cannot be viewed directly in Word. MS Word is notorious for containing private information in file headers, but not any longer. Microsoft has quietly released a tool to scrub leaky metadata from documents edited with its software. The Remove Hidden Data Add-In will permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint files. For Office XP/Office 2003 only, we should add. ® Related stories Feeling secure with Microsoft Word EMC PR caught in a spin MS fumbles Word privacy scare
News magazine The Economist this week forecast that Apple's share of the emerging online music business would plummet later this year when Microsoft moves into the market. But according to a Billboard report, the two firms' love-hate relationship may be tending toward the former in order to build links between their music encoding and digital rights management technologies. Essentially, the hardware and music industries want a single standard to work to. While that might have fallen to Microsoft's Windows Media format, the success Apple has experienced with its iTunes Music Store, which uses MPEG 4 as the basis for song encoding, has made Microsoft's dominance less certain. In any case, music industry staff have long told us they are very keen not to allow the Beast of Redmond to control the technology on which their future fortune may be based. The upshot: "There's a substantial discussion going on among these companies [Apple and M$] about interoperability," says Paul Vidich, executive VP of strategic planning and business development for Warner Music Group, quoted in the Billboard story. Apparently, the talks centre on ways Apple's AAC files and Microsoft's WMA files can be easily cross-coded while maintaining each's DRM data. Certainly the availability of a variety of formats has always been viewed as one of the chief barriers to building a successful online music market. Few users are happy about running different applications to find, purchase and play songs from different services. Or with the limitations some services put on which devices songs can be transferred to. Napster chairman Chris Gorog recently lambasted Apple for not providing WMA support, particularly on its popular iPod player. Equally, it hasn't proved keen to allow other hardware vendors to support iTMS through their devices. We can't see it changing its mind on that point, nor about extending support to WMA, but industry and - to a lesser extent - consumer pressure may force a rethink on Apple's part. We'd certainly welcome one. If you can buy a CD from any store and know for sure it will play on any make of hardware, you should be able to do the same with a digital download. Building a strong digital music retail presence should be dependent on providing quality of service, good branding and so on, not on the extent to which you control the technology. ® Related Stories Double Jeopardy for kids caught in Pepsi Apple promo Free legal downloads for $6 a month. DRM free. The artists get paid. We explain how... Coke's music download site falls flat How HP invented the market for iPod resellers DRM: who needs it? UK label stands up for its customers
Intel will today launch 'Prescott', the 90nm version of the Pentium 4, along with a pair of faster P4s based on the 130nm 'Northwood' chip. Five Prescotts will debut: two at 2.8GHz, and one each at 3GHz, 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz. Priced at $163, $178, $218, $278 and $417, respectively, the chips will the suffixed with an 'E', to distinguish them from Northwood P4s running at the same clock speed. The prices are a few bucks more than those published by many web sites which were keen to jump the gun ahead of Chipzilla's official announcement. The first four Prescotts will go on sale today - the 3.4GHz will follow in March. The two new 130nm parts are a 3.4GHz P4 and the 3.4GHz P4 Extreme Edition. The former will be priced at $417, the latter at a whopping $999 - more than the cost of entire systems based on lesser P4s. All but one of the seven processors support an 800MHz effective bit rate frontside bus. The EE release has 2MB of L2 cache; the 3.4GHz P4 has 512KB, while the Prescotts have 1MB of cache apiece. A single 2.8GHz Prescott ships with a 533MHz FSB and lacks HyperThreading support. The Prescotts also introduce 13 new x86 instructions, dubbed SSE 3. A revised architecture based on a longer, 31-stage instruction pipeline will allow Prescott to reach clock frequencies of 4GHz and beyond. Northwood has a 20-stage pipeline. The chip contains 125 million transistors. Prescott extends the Northwood architecture with improved instruction and data pre-fetch, better branch prediction - for a forecasting accuracy of a few fractions of a percentage point more than Northwood- a tweaked HyperThreading system, lower shift-rotate and imul latencies, and extra write-combine buffers. Yesterday, Intel trimmed the prices of its existing range of P4 chips, as expected. It also cut the prices of its Mobile Pentium 4 chips, again as anticipate, making way for upcoming Prescott-based version of the parts. ® Related Stories Intel prunes desktop, mobile Pentium 4 prices Prescott pipeline longer than Northwood's - Intel
LettersLetters Our spine-tingling discovery of the number "19" on the surface of Mars last week - proof were it needed that we are all in fact descended from extraterrestrial robot beings - immediately provoked a spectacular meteor storm of emails. The implications of this written evidence of mankind's ancestry are too unnerving for most of us to contemplate. Not for Werner Offenbach though, whose scientific German mind offered this insight: Apparently, they already used English back on Mars. Which may imply the British as a whole originated off Earth. A fact that would not surprise the rest of Europe. ;-) Indeed, humanity has a lot to thank these aliens for, to be sure: and not only the Mother of all Tongues, but also additional side benefits of civilisation, as Alice notes: Regarding the article on the mysterious 19 found on Mars... Could the fact that the numerals seem to be in a Club suit shaped hollow suggest that they are a Bridge playing intelligence? Absolutely. If they spoke English then it's Bridge, Gin and Tonic and cucumber sandwiches all round. Lovely. In fact, the only thing which could possibly spoil this idyllic scene of afternoon tea with the Cyberrenglish would be the arrival of the black helicopters and Ron Gordon: While your theories may be interesting, the real, and much more mundane explanation is that NASA, in their haste to drag their Apollo sets out of mothballs, forgot to turn over stage prop 19. Note that other "rocks" in the "pictures from mars" are identical to "pictures of rocks from the Moon". Specifically, the following stage props can be seen in both places: Prop # 33 - small undistinguished rock Prop #200A (bulk) - grayish brown powder Prop #'s 701-755 - small angular fragments, 0.5" to 2.5" max length. The list is much longer, but these will give you a starting point to verify the utter laziness of the engineers involved in these continuing NASA hoaxes. So, has NASA staged the whole thing, or is there an even more sinister plot being played out by the Agency?: Need I mention the recent "discoveries" of several other artifacts on Mars? Like the box, the machine fitting, the bowl, the safe, the stove, the slot rock, the blocks within blocks of rock, collections of mechanical bits and much more. See www.enterprisemission.com Why hasn't this research group reported seeing black helicopters yet? They've been at it for years. A good point made there by Peter. Had you considered, however, the possibility that www.enterprisemission.com is itself a hoax perpetrated by the CIA in order to lure IT news sites into ridiculing conspiracy theorists and thereby undermining their credibility? Mind you, with Chris Norris at large, the spooks don't need to put themselves out too much: Dunno about the number 19 in the picture from NASA linked at the bottom of your story, but if you look at the center of that linked picture and follow a line at about 45 degrees you'll find Gandalf himself peeking out of the dirt! It's really weird! Yup, it's really weird alright, but it's about to get weirder still, thanks to Ian Nebe Barnett: I wonder if these super-intelligent machine beings are also reponsible for genetically coding hidden messages, one letter or number at a time, into butterfly's wings here on Earth... www.insects.org/ced4/scaly.html www.butterflyutopia.com/diaethria.html Sorry, it was the lizard people who genetically modified the butterflies during their war for supremacy against the dolphin race, a conflict which sadly ended in the destruction of Atlantis. Nope, we're just going to have to accept that - apart from the English language and Bridge - there are few remaining legacies of Earth's colonisation by the Martians. Perhaps, though, we should ourselves consider the possibility of a return to the Red Planet, spearheaded by our most able emissary. Albert Lederer would like to nominate the following: Let's send Kevin Warwick to be our ambassador since he's the closest thing to a machine being (superintelligent being questionable here). Considering the guy's a cyborg anyways, he shouldn't need food or water for the journey to Mars, nor will he need a space suit. He should easily be able to adapt his power and communications systems to match that of the ancient civilization and may be able to activate any dormant computer systems that are there. An excellent choice. God forbid, though, that Captain Cyborg should set foot on Mars and find his journey has been in vain. Pete Jones has the last word on this madness with a new, shocking theory: The photo is upside down! It's actually 61, which transposes to FA, or Fuck All.
Intel yesterday reduced the prices of a number of its Pentium 4 processors ahead of today's debut of 'Prescott', the 90nm version of the chip family. Prices fell between 33 and 16 per cent, but only the 130nm chips the match the new 90nm introductions' clock frequencies were adjusted: 2.8GHz/533MHz FSB, 2.8GHz/800MHz FSB, 3.06GHz/533MHz FSB, 3GHz/800MHz FSB and 3.2GHz/800MHz FSB. Chipzilla also pruned prices of its top-end Mobile Pentium 4 line, by up to 32 per cent. Pentium 4 Desktop Prices Processor Prev. Price New Price Change 90nm 3.4GHz, 1MB L2, 800MHz FSB $417 130nm 3.4GHz, 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB $417 90nm 3.2GHz, 1MB L2, 800MHz FSB $278 130nm 3.2GHz, 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB $417 $278 -33% 90nm 3GHz, 1MB L2, 800MHz FSB $218 130nm 3GHz, 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB $278 $218 -22% 130nm 3.06GHz, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB $262 $218 -17% 90nm 2.8GHz, 1MB L2, 800MHz FSB $178 130nm 2.8GHz, 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB $218 $178 -18% 90nm 2.8GHz, 1MB L2, 533MHz FSB $163 130nm 2.8GHz, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB $193 $163 -16% 90nm 2.6GHz, 512KB L2, 800MHz FSB $178 $178 90nm 2.6GHz, 512KB L2, 533MHz FSB $163 $163 Pentium 4 Mobile Prices Processor Prev. Price New Price Change 130nm 3.2GHz, 512KB L2, HT $433 $294 -32% 130nm 3.06GHz, 512KB L2, HT $294 $234 -20% 130nm 3.06GHz, 512KB L2 $278 $218 -22% 130nm 2.8GHz, 512KB L2, HT $234 $202 -14% 130nm 2.8GHz, 512KB L2 $218 $186 -15% 130nm 2.66GHz, 512KB L2, HT $202 $202 130nm 2.66GHz, 512KB L2 $186 $186 130nm 2.4GHz, 512KB L2 $186 $186
Global chip sales grew 18.3 per cent last year, rising from 2002's $140.8 billion to $166.4 billion, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said today. That's just 1.5 percentage points lower than the 19.8 per cent forecast the SIA made back in November 2002. Come June 2003, following the Iraq conflict and the SARS outbreak, and the SIA downgraded its prediction to 10.1 per cent. Last November, on the back of growing sales through the second half of 2003, the SIA upped its forecast to 15.8 per cent. In the event, the second half of 2003 yielded sales of $91.4 billion, up from $75 million in the first half. Q4 2003 alone contributed $48.1 billion worth of seminconductor sales, up from $43.3 billion the previous quarter. December's sales were 28 per cent higher than December 2002's total. The SIA has forecast 19.4 per cent growth during 2004, yielding sales worth $198.7 billion, based on today's 2003 total. Microprocessor sales were up 7.9 per cent in Q4 2003 over Q3. DRAM sales grew 10.6 per cent over the same period. Fabs' capacity utilisation exceeded 95 per cent in Q4, propelled by strong seasonal demand, but should drop slighting during the current quarter, reflecting historical industry patterns, the SIA said. "All geographic markets recorded rising chip sales in the final quarter of 2004, with sales in Europe up 14.5 per cent sequentially, Japan up 10.5 per cent in the quarter, sales in the Americas up 10.2 per cent, and Asia Pacific revenue up ten per cent," the SIA said. ®
Couples whose relationships are in trouble are using the Internet to avoid dealing with their problems, according to counsellors at Relate. Computers have a bad impact on up to one in ten relationships, says Paula Hall, one of Relate’s couple’s counsellors, who bases the estimate upon her caseload experience. In the past couples going through a rocky patch would use the television to avoid talking to each other: now they can spend time apart by going online. The threats from the Net are fairly simple: easily accessible porn and flirty chat-rooms can all contribute to a sense of isolation in a relationship, as well as acting as catalysts for rows. "It would be rather sensationalist to suggest that the Internet is causing couples to break up," Hall maintains. "But it can distract couples from sorting out problems as well as providing a way to meet new people which can further complicate things." One relationship that got particularly complicated was that of the Woodhouses. Readers may remember the story of Janet Woodhouse who left her husband and two sons for a man she met in Cyberspace. After telling her family she was going for a session of the 'leccy beach*, Janet nicked off on a one-way flight to Australia, letting her family know where she was one week later. By email. New people are not the only threat to relationships either, as FriendsReunited proved when a rash of people left marriages for old flames. But the Net is not all bad, Hall insists: "The Net can be a great place to nurture relationships as well. For shy or socially nervous people, the Internet presents a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk to new people in a safe environment.” ® *A tanning salon, for those of you from anywhere other than the North of England.
A potential stumbling block to Vodafone launching a bid for AT&T Wireless was removed last week, after Verizon Communications, the majority shareholder of Verizon Wireless, said it would not oppose a decision by Vodafone to sell its 45% Verizon Wireless stake. Verizon Wireless is a successful business, but Vodafone prefers to have a controlling stake in its ventures. "We feel very good that our relationship with Vodafone is working very well," said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon Communications' chief executive, but "we certainly would not shy away from wanting to own 100% of Verizon Wireless," he said. "The real choice on this is Vodafone's. It's their call to make the step." It is no wonder that Verizon Communications seems keen to gain full control of its wireless operation. It has seen its traditional fixed-line revenues come under pressure from a user move to mobile phones and email. In the last quarter alone, Verizon lost 4.2% of its local telephone access lines. To offset declining fixed-line sales, the operator has been pushing into new markets such as wireless, long-distance telephony and high-speed wired and wireless Internet access. The company has also unveiled a plan to rollout consumer and corporate VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) services. Vodafone's 45% stake in Verizon Wireless would almost certainly be sacrificed to help it raise the necessary capital to acquire full control of AT&T Wireless. But launching a bid carries risks for Vodafone, with many analysts and financial institutions not convinced it would be a wise move to exit its successful minority Verizon stake, especially considering the $30 billion plus price tag AT&T Wireless carries. Vodafone is keen to resolve its troublesome set-up in the US. In the past it has been frustrated by Verizon's refusal to sell its majority stake, as Vodafone's typical overseas expansion policy has been to increase its shareholding in its foreign operators, obtain a controlling stake, and then fully buy it out. Vodafone management is therefore currently faced with some important decisions: it must decide whether to launch an aggressive bid for the number three US mobile operator, or instead go after control of French mobile operator SFR, which is currently controlled by troubled media giant Vivendi. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related Research Mobile Consumer Update; data data data
KnowledgePool Limited - the former Fujitsu-owned training outfit that recently went titsup - axed 30 jobs last week as administrators continued to find a buyer. The job losses hit staff in KnowledgePool's UK offices in Bracknell, Brighton and Stockport. And unless a buyer for the business can be found soon, the administrators cannot rule out more job losses in the future. Staff at KnowledgePool's offices in Bracknell, Brighton and Stockport were told of the job losses last Thursday. One insider told The Register of the dismay among workers concerning the collapse of the company. Another claimed that staff at the top and bottom of the organisation in Brighton had been "topped and tailed" to pave the way for a quick sale of the office to a competitor. This was denied by a spokeswoman for the administrators who said they were still "confident of selling the business as a whole". Asked whether any more job cuts were on the horizon she said: "If we sell the sell the business we won't need any more redundancies." Last week The Register reported how the demise of KnowledgePool has left long-serving staff without their full redundancy pay-out. ® Related Story KnowledgePool UK goes titsup
IBM on Monday kicked off phase one of a new sales strategy that includes bundles of middleware targeted at specific vertical markets. And the first such market to be hit is the financial services sector. The chest-thumping from IBM here is a bit confusing at first. The software is not new and neither are the services that come as part of the package. IBM has also been selling software and services to the financial community for many, many years. So what gives? Well, Doug Brown, a marketing director at IBM, tells us that the new attack comes down to a better-trained sales force. IBM locked its 16,000 strong sales staffers in a dark room for several months, filling their brains with all the ins and outs of what the company can offer a bank, insurer or broker. The hope is that the Big Blue folk will have a better idea of what IBM's rich middleware portfolio can do and, more importantly, that the salespeople can convince business executives and not just IT staff of the software's value. "We want to go in and talk to a CIO or vice president of claims just as easily as we would talk to the tech staff," Brown said. In total, IBM wants to prove it can save customers time and money by rolling out a package of software as opposed to bits and pieces over a long period of time. There are three basic bundles at present - middleware for financial markets, middleware for banking and middleware for insurance. Each package comes with five applications tailored for that industry. In the financial markets package, for example, IBM offers Risk and Compliance, Front Office Insight, Trade and Order Management, Financial Information Interchange and Post-Execution Integration software. Like other large vendors, IBM also has hardware to go along with the code should the customer ask for it, as part of its industry integrated solution offering. Most of the software in the three packages is geared to run on IBM's pSeries Unix servers but Linux work is well underway. Overtime, IBM will roll out similar bundles for government, communications companies, retail and industrial distribution. So how much do the packages cost? "It's hard to say what the price is," Brown said. Uh-oh. Customers can buy the five pieces of each package as a whole or break off the parts they need. So, depending on the customer's size, the price will vary quite a bit. We are, however, assured that customers worldwide can begin asking about the software bundles as of today. ®
A UK teenager who admits breaking into the network of Fermilab, a US high-energy physics research lab, has escaped imprisonment. Joseph McElroy, 18, from Woodford Green in East London, was today sentenced to 200 hours community service at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court this afternoon. Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Goymer told McElroy: "You have only just escaped prison." People found guilty of similar offences in the future would not be so fortunate, he said. Fermilab had pressed for £21,215 compensation from McElroy, but he escaped a fine, on the grounds that he had no means to pay. McElroy pleaded guilty to hacking into 17 computers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in June 2002 at a hearing at Bow Street Magistrates' Court last October. His actions contravened the UK's Computer Misuse Act. McElroy’s escapades were described by the prosecution as at the low-end of hacking crimes. The Crown accepted that the youth had no malicious intent. But McElroy's actions had serious consequences, even though his objective was only to use the lab's network to download films and music from the Net. The lab's computer systems had to be shut down for three days once the intrusion - which triggered a full-scale alert - was discovered. Fermi Lab is run by the US Department of Energy. It was quickly established that classified systems were not accessed, but the authorities pressed ahead with a prosecution. US investigators tracked the intrusion to the UK before passing the case over to Scotland Yard's Computer Crime Unit; it in turn tracked McElroy to his parent’s home in east London. ® Related Stories Sentencing date set in nuclear lab hack case Sentencing postponed in nuclear lab hack case London police quiz suspected US DoE cracker External Links The US DoE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. The atom-smashing lab at the eye of the storm.
BT Openworld - the ISP division of the UK's dominant telco - is ditching all reference to "Openworld" in the names of its products. From February 4, "BT Openworld Broadband", for example, will become BT Business Broadband. "BT Openworld Business 500 plus" will be changed to "BT Business Broadband Network 500" while "BT Openworld Business 500 Plug & Go" will become "BT Business Broadband Single 500". Get the gist? While it's ditching the "Openworld" brand from product names, the name of BT's ISP division will remain unchanged and still be called BT Openworld. And those users with "openworld" in a their email addy can also breathe a sigh of relief since this will remain unaffected by the changes. According to BT, the changes are meant to simplify the telco's stable of Internet products. ®
Italy is the cheapest country in Europe for broadband, according to consultants Teligen. Its report Broadband Pricing in Europe found that the cost of broadband in Italy is less than €20 a month, compared with the UK at just over €30 a month. Greece wis the dearest at almost €70 a month. Indeed, the difference in price between the best performer (Italy) and worst (Greece) was more than 300 per cent, said the survey. Talking of the cost of broadband, Freeserve is tempting new users with a cut price offer for its 512k service. From tomorrow, punters signing up to the service can get the first three months for £15.99 a month and £27.99 a month thereafter. The ISP is also chucking a free broadband modem and connection in with the offer too. Elsewhere, Eclipse Internet has unveiled a trial of a phone-based "Broadband Status Checker". By calling a special number, punters can check if their ADSL line has been, or is currently, affected by an outage. The checker will also provide info on whether broadband services have been, or will be, affected by planned engineering works. ®
More than half (57 per cent) of the work-age population will benefit from 'accessible technology', according to Forrester Research. And numbers will grow as the demographic of the West shifts to the grey and a greater proportion of the population experience problems with sight, hearing and dexterity. Accessible technology is something we can all benefit from, despite its traditional association with the disabled population, according to Microsoft. The software giant, which sponsored the Forrester report, has set up an online resource with tips and advice for workers as part of its Aging Workforce campaign, which can be found here. The report is welcomed by the RNIB, which aims to challenge the stereotype of what a disability actually is; we should all think about the way that we use technology, and reject bad solutions, it argues. "No-one actually wants to identify themselves as disabled. We tend to think of the disabled as a group outside ourselves," said Julie Howell, digital policy development officer at the RNIB. "But the reality of the situation is that as we age, our bodies wear out. We might say 'oh, I just don't see so well anymore'; our experience of the world is the same as a disabled person." According to the US Chamber of Commerce, it is essential for businesses to supporting an aging workforce if they are to retain skills. Jim Emmerman, COO of the American Society on Aging, explains: "Whether out of choice or necessity, mid-career and older workers are planning to stay active in the workforce much longer, and having access to technology that recognizes and accommodates their changing abilities is going to be critical." To deal with the issue properly, we need to change how we interact with technology altogether, Howell says. The way we currently use technology puts the computer, rather than the user, in control, she argues. "I hope this research will highlight that none of us need to accept the standard setups of our technology as adequate. We don't have to fit ourselves around an unnatural set-up: we can do better the standard mouse, the standard keyboard, the standard settings. It isn't normal for us to squint at a computer screen under fluorescent lights for eight hours of every day and we need to modify the technology we use to reflect that." ®
A large chunk of CSC employees hoping to enjoy some time off received word last week that any vacations must be cancelled to help the company meet business goals. Workers at CSC's San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) found out that there will be no holidays or sick days allowed through the end of the fiscal year, according to docs obtained by The Register. This is the second year in a row that employees have been forced to give up their vacation days to meet lofty productivity goals, and the practice has left a bad feeling in the workplace. "Apparently, the SDRC have made a bad business forecast, and we loyal worker bees are supposed to rescue them by forgoing vacation," writes one disgruntled employee. "They basically want everyone to take 2 weeks vacation and our 9 holidays and never get sick. Many of us acrue 3 or 4 weeks vacation per year." The SDRC is part of CSC's Global Transformation Solutions (GTS) organization. The unit was formed to help boost CSC's outsourcing aspirations. But workers in other parts of CSC say that vacation cancellation is a common practice at the company. An internal memo from a SDRC director reveals how desperate things have become. The San Diego Regional Center is not meeting our fiscal year productivity and therefore causing a negative impact to the GTS financial objectives. There are some actions that must be taken. 1. Effective immediately, SDRC is freezing all vacations for billable employees through the end of our fiscal year, April 2, 2004. If you currently have an approved vacation, contact your CTM, Delivery Manager, Captain to establish alternate dates or justify extenuating circumstances. If you are uncertain if you are billable or non-billable, contact your CTM, Delivery Manager, Captain . 2. Please be certain to complete TES accurately each week. And, comply with our policy to report all hours worked. 3. Review your own productivity over the past 9 months. Your CTM, Delivery Manager, Captain can help you with this. 4. Are your labor adjustments, if any, fully executed. Did you miss a day in labor recording and never corrected it. I encourage everyone to pay particular attention to the details of self management to improve your productivity as part of your daily routine. I thank everyone in advance for your support in helping this Center and GTS to achieve our goals. Such polite language for a grinch. The part about taking back already approved vacations is particularly compelling, don't you think? ® Related Stories CSC, Accenture win NHS Care Records contracts CSC wins $1.5bn SAS outsourcing gig CSC: delays dog FBI delivery CSC wins £450m Marconi outsourcing gig
Believing there is strength in numbers, a group of US city domain owners have banded together for what they hope will be an advertising bonanza. Associated Cities has formed a collection of what it calls "pure city.com" Web sites, which is less interesting than say "pure cocaine" but more interesting than "pure fluff." The company has brought together the owners of Atlanta.com, Charleston.com, Chicago.com, Hiltonhead.com, LasVegas.com, MyrtleBeach.com, NewOrleans.com, Parkcity.com and SanDiego.com to form an advertising collective. The group lays claim to more than 25 million total city-dwellers and more than 30 million page views per month. Given that we are two to three years away from dot-com glory stories - eBay, Yahoo! and Amazon excluded - you may wonder who cares about this virtual venture. Well, we know of at least one man who cares quite a bit. Last week, we sat down with Josh Metnick, CEO of Chicago.com, and he explained a bit of the Associated Cities premise. With some of the most attractive US tourist spots on its side, Associated Cities is looking to tempt hotels, car rental companies and other folks in the services industry that have nation-wide operations. By plunking down some ad money for an Associated Cities listing, the customers receive a fairly broad reach on fairly targeted Web sites. The advertiser needs only pay the Associated Cities collective to pop up on 9 different sites at once. Part of the Associated Cities pitch is the tight connection between domain owner and his/her respective city. Metnick, for example, actually lives in Chicago. Imagine that. A similar relationship holds true for the other "pure city.com" players. There are entrepreneurs to be sure, but a kinder, gentler breed of business types. Most the domain owners have been nursing their city.com lot for quite a while and claim to know a fair bit about the culture and nature of their locale. So if advertisers want a site with a clue, they may well look at the Associated Cities group as an attractive place to start. But the Associated Cities idea may be compelling for other reasons than the domains' down home feel. Some hotel operators, for example, have started an attack against online travel sites such as Expedia and Travelocity. It seems that a fierce online market is both a curse and a blessing. Hotels have managed to use the Web as a tool for filling rooms at the last minute. A PwC study estimates that $715 million in extra hotel business was created last year via the Web. At the same time, however, the Web has created a pricing war. "Increased price competition spurred by the Web cost hoteliers $2 billion in potential revenue, meaning the Web on the whole cost hoteliers about $1.3 billion in revenue," according to a recent Reuters report. With that in mind, hotels are looking for ways to cut out the middle man and bring guests directly to their own sites - a bit of a brand loyalty game. This trend could make "pure city.com" domains appear a tad more attractive to large chains. Just a thought. ®
LettersLetters "Apple: I use to think you were different than Microsoft and more family-oriented," writes a horrified reader. "Instead, you showed the world your true colors." The backlash against Pepsi's decision to humiliate the victims of the RIAA's campaign against file sharing in front of a mass TV audience continues to appall Register readers. The computer company remains proud of this debacle. You can now see the advertisement on Apple's site, here. One reader, inspired by Mao's show trials, was inspired to produce this artwork. It's freely distributable, and hauntingly appropriate. [Click to enlarge for a 1024x768 screen background] Here is a selection of letters:- What a world...here I am a very long time dedicated Mac user (there are currently 5 late model Macs in the house)......I own maclovers.org, and yet Apple has again participated in an undefendable act. Eric Cohen Your article was an excellent accounting of the Pepsi/Apple ads run during yesterday's SuperBowl! I was shocked that they would go that far to hock sugar water. Nice job! Linda Kimmelman America is definitely NOT a civilized country. I thought it before. Now I'm sure! Jean-Dominique Veuve Steve Jobs really has sold his soul to the RIAA... I hope he at least gets something in return. Like going to hell for it. Jeff Schwartz Dear All at Apple, I am aware this mail will end up in the wrong mailbox; please forward it to the appropriate recipient. I am writing apropos the following news story: http://www.theregister.com/content/6/35259.html concerning Apple & Pepsi's plans to 'name and shame' the DRM offenders on behalf of the RIAA. I implore you not to go ahead with this exercise in marketing suicide. In a world where the Macintosh advertisements tell us to 'think different', encourage us to look to the individual instead of the corporate and champion the little guy, there is no surer way of putting Apple on the wrong side of the digital revolution in the eyes of the 'guy on the street'. The world of intellectual property is changing faster than the ability of the law to keep up, and our current payment structure for rewarding artists is slowly breaking down. What happens on the other side of this revolution is anybodys guess, but this advertisement, if screened, will ensure that Apple is stuck on the losing side supporting an archaic and crumbling regime, and I'm sure will be used to 'name and shame' Apple once the dust has settled in years to come. Shaun Roe We seem to be talking about money-grabbing parasites becoming involved with re-writes of Stalinist show trials in which the innocent plead they are guilty. But this is the land of corporate rule in which the drive to make money has degenerated into little more than running a protection racket of enormous size and power. It's about making land-grabs for intellectual property where the idea of common ownership doesn't exist. We have junk-food companies who claim it doesn't make you fat, soda companies who claim their drinks don't rot the teeth out of your head and DRM-peddlers who claim it doesn't interfere with your freedom. It's making double-think anddouble-speak acceptable, how Orwell must be proud... Kevin At least two readers maintain that the children exploited in the advertisement are fighting the Man. I have read many pieces of biased "journalism" in my day. I'm over half a century old, have read many forms of journalism and still read both print and 'net reporting on many fronts. However, you have really gone over the top on this one. And to top it all off... the line in the advertisement about the fact that they are still going to be downloading music for free off the Internet ... and there's nothing anyone can do about it, tells it all. These people are still defiant. They are still against the improper methods sometimes used by the RIAA. They just don't believe they are shamed. They believe in fighting back in any way that is effective. For them getting Pepsi to pay for their music while getting something they would probably buy anyway is a way of getting the establishment to fight against itself. They are getting big money to give them something they want without doing anything they would normally not do. Think about that. Franklin H. Williams, Jr Um, yes. What blend of drugs are you on? Have you seen the ad? The kids as much as flip the bird at the RIAA in it, with 135 million people watching them as they do. Steve Tsuida The tone however is consistent. If anyone tried this in the UK they would fall foul of child protection laws that prevent the identity of a minor who is being sued/prosecuted being revealed unless there is a "Public Interest" as in the James Bulger murder case. Come to think of it a minor ( under 18 ) cannot be sued in the UK, as they have not reached majority, as they cannot consent to credit agreements, or be sued in the Civil Courts. If the RIAA or MPAA tried to sue a 12 year old in the UK they would be vilified in the same way as a paedophile would be, and certainly could not publicly identify them in the press, like the hapless New York 12 year old girl, nor extract money. Any loan agreement entered into by a minor is void in the UK and cannot be enforced unless the minor consents to said enforcement on reaching the age of majority, 18 in the UK. If they don't consent, the lender has no redress. The RIAA tactics are of dubious legality at best. Rob Redhead Shame on Pepsi and Apple for publicly humiliating children on national public television, and especially during a popular event such as the Super Bowl. Corporate America never fails to amaze me how low, insensitive and socially irresponsible they can be. And all for the sake of making a profit. Did these teenagers break the law? Yes, but there is no justification in using (bullying or forcing) these children in a TV ad and then put labels on them. I wouldn't be surprised if these children were psychologically scared from this. Why not take them onto the football field a Half Time and beat them with a belt or tree branch? Or better still, let's have someone tell these teenagers how worthless they are, how they'll never amount to anything, how they're leeches on society, and how everyone would better if they were stuck in a prison somewhere and forgotten. Even though it's against the law, physical or mental abuse would be no worse than how Pepsi and Apple 'legally' used these children. You can talk to me about the RIAA all you want. There is no excuse for this type of behavior. This ad will not deter teenagers from illegally downloading music any more than laws deter people from committing other types of crimes. Apple: I use to think you were different than Microsoft and more family-oriented. Instead, you showed the world your true colors. Paul Ammann New Fairfield, CT ®