30th > March > 2004 Archive

BT wins NI blanket broadband deal

Northern Ireland is to become the first region in Europe with blanket broadband coverage following confirmation that BT has won the contract to supply high-speed Internet services by the end of 2005. BT was one of 27 companies and consortia from across Europe that responded to the tender. It was awarded the contract because it offered the "best value for money". The contract is to be managed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and funded by the EU Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme. Announcing the deal yesterday, trade minister Ian Pearson said: "By the end of 2005 every household and every business in Northern Ireland, no matter how remote, will have access to broadband at the same price. "Local businesses will have the level playing field they need to compete in a global economy. "This vitally important contract will deliver the Government's broadband vision of a fully connected Northern Ireland. In turn it will help make Northern Ireland more competitive." ® Related stories BT favoured for big NI broadband deal Northern Ireland offers broadband funds Northern Ireland aims for 100pc broadband
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2004

Hutchison parcels up little telcos for debt relief

Hutchison Whampoa is to reduce the huge debt it picked up buying 3G licenses by selling off telecoms companies from eight countries on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The deal includes assets in Hong Kong, and in India, Thailand, Israel, Macau, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Paraguay, according to the Financial Times. Together these countries have 8.5m customers. The new unit is called Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. Goldman Sachs is advising the company on the sell-off. ®
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

Intel 'spends $500-700m' on first 65nm kit

Intel has begun buying 65nm chip-making kit, ordering equipment from the likes of Nikon, ASMI, ASML, Genus and Novellus, to name but five. The chip giant is keeping mum, of course, but sources cited by Silicon Strategies have proved willing to pass on the details. Each supplier is providing kit for one or more pieces for the processor production line. Novellus is said to have beaten Applied Materials to a $125m contract to supply copper deposition machines, for example. ASMI's kit adds low-k dielectric and strained silicon layers to the wafer. In partnership with Genus, it has developed a 65nm atomic layer deposition system, which Intel has also ordered, the sources say. ASML and Nikon are providing 65nm lithography equipment. Intel is currently evaluating laser thermal processing products from Ultratech. The sources suggest Daifuku and Asyst Technologies will share Intel's contract fro fab automation systems. Intel has earmarked its D1D 300mm fab in Oregon as the home of its 65nm development work. It is spending $500-700m on its first kit orders, Cristina Osmena, investment bank Needham & Co's semiconductor equipment analyst, told Silicon Strategies. Intel's 65nm process is founded upon an eight-layer metal technology incorporating copper, low-k dielectric materials and strained silicon. Like other chip makers, Intel is shooting to introduce 65nm processors toward the end of 2005. It is working alone - as you might expect the world's largest CPU maker, by a very large margin, to do - but it is working with others on 45nm. Arch-rival AMD is working with IBM to develop its 65nm process. IBM is also co-operating with Infineon, Chartered and Samsung on 65nm technologies. AMD's new fab in Dresden, in addition to introducing 300mm wafers to the company, will also provide 65nm facilities. ® Related stories Intel talks up 65nm process with SRAM cell demo Intel joins 45nm process research team Samsung joins IBM 65nm R&D team IBM to partner with Infineon on 65, 45nm tech Sony pledges to move chips to 45nm in 2005
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

Wal-Mart download service goes live

Retail giant Wal-Mart, once again atop the Fortune 500 list, has just launched its digital musical download service. Despite stiff competition - in the form of Apple, RealNetworks and Roxio - coupled to its late arrival in the market, Wal-Mart says that of all the people who shop in its stores, two-thirds are connected to the Internet and two-thirds of those have broadband. The punters figure Wal-Mart's purpose is less to sell songs than to sell the consumer devices that play the songs. Wal-Mart's Music Downloads service, which has been in test mode since December, officially launched on Tuesday with no subscription fee, 88-cent downloads and the same usage rights on all tracks. The retailer offered 300,000 downloadable tracks when it started the service's test phase and now claims to be up 50 per cent, including a slew of exclusives. It's not as many as Apple yet, though. Country label Curb Records is going digital for the first time, making its songs available for download exclusively on Walmart.com for the next two months before going for broader exposure. Curb, which will offer more than 3,000 songs, is home to country stars such as Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes and Jo Dee Messina. Walmart.com will also offer major label exclusives from Jessica Simpson, 3 Doors Down, Black Eyed Peas, Hilary Duff and Shania Twain. After incorporating user feedback, Wal-Mart added a new download manager with enhanced search and browse that's supposed to make it easier to download complete albums and groups of songs. The service was developed in partnership with Anderson Merchandisers, a company that supplies the stores and website with their music selections. The digital tracks are from Liquid Digital Media, formerly Liquid Audio, whose assets Anderson bought in January of last year. The PC-only service offers music in Microsoft's WMA format and requires the Windows Media Player 9. Users can download the tracks to one computer and back them up on two other PCs. Each track can be burned to a CD 10 times and transferred to a compatible portable digital media player an unlimited number of times. The link to check which players work with the service includes a note saying it doesn't include the Apple iPod. Wal-Mart may be the largest retailer in the physical world, but it's been notoriously late to the online world. Amazon was the established king of e-tail before Walmart.com rang up its first sale. Now, it's up against several brand name services that have been building their business for six months. But Wal-Mart has something going for it that the others can't claim, a huge customer base that drove several competing retail chains and the American downtown into bankruptcy. If even a small number of Wal-Mart's fans check out Music Downloads and buy a couple of songs, iTunes will be facing some serious competition. The company is looking to drive its customers to the site through gift cards that can be used to buy downloads. The cards are available at both Walmart.com and at Wal-Mart stores, so mom and grandma can pick up a couple at the cash register for the kids. If Wal-Mart's lucky, it will build up its own loyal music following before Sony, Virgin and Microsoft launch their competing services later this year. © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 30 Mar 2004

Freeserve to sell capped, cut-price broadband

Freeserve is gearing up to sell cut-price broadband in response to the likes of BT, which recently launched a service for under £20 a month. According to sources, the ISP is to unveil a capped ADSL service that will break the all-important £20-a-month barrier. Details of the new service could be made public as early as the middle of April. A spokeswoman for the ISP declined to comment on the "rumour and speculation". But she added: "We always said were going to be big on broadband this year - that's all I'm prepared to say." In February, this year a senior Freeserve source told The Register that the ISP will make a big push for broadband in 2004. Until recently, Freeserve has focused on selling broadband to existing subscribers, rather than chucking money at marketing the service to the wider market. Now, it seems that the UK division of French ISP Wanadoo is prepared to take on rivals AOL, BT and Tiscali and fight for greater market share. Said a senior spokesman for the French-owned ISP: "This is the year for broadband for us - we're going for it." Indeed, It is also expected to make a series of major announcements over the coming weeks. The ISP has already said that it believes the way forward for greater broadband competition is via unbundling the local loop, something in which it is prepared to invest. One of the whispers overheard by El Reg, though, is that Freeserve could be about to end the long-running "will they, won't they" saga of ditching the Freeserve moniker and adopting their parent's Wanadoo livery instead. ® Related Stories Freeserve gears up for major broadband push Freeserve mulls Wanadoo rebranding - again Freeserve 'committed' to unbundling local loop BT touts £20 capped broadband
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2004

VC-9 essential patent holders, come on down

The MPEG Licensing Authority (MPEGLA) has called forward any firm that thinks it has a patent essential for the VC-9 Codec which runs in Windows Media 9. The call is a first step in taking over the management and collection of royalties for the codec and running them at arms length from Microsoft. But there is every chance that a number of companies will respond and claim that their technology forms part an essential building block for the VC-9 codec as long as they have had a chance to look at the source code and the standards application which Microsoft has already submitted to the Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers Technology Committee, last September. Within 30 to 45 days of this call for essential patents, the MPEGLA will call a meeting where patent expert Dr Kenneth Rubenstein and his team at Proskauer Rose in New York will decide which patents are essential and which will be combined through discussion with Microsoft into a single licensing platform. Only the companies offering technology that Rubenstein thinks are overlapping and essential, will be invited to the meeting so that invite list will almost certainly determine if VC-9 will share royalties as a standard or if it is just Microsoft's alone. An initial group of patent holders whose patents are determined to be essential will be convened within 30-45 days to begin considering terms of a joint license, but the process will remain open and submissions will continue to be welcome even after that date. The MPEGLA says that it always offers licenses on fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory terms - in other words the same for everyone, not more expensive for strong competitors. This move by Microsoft to use the MPEGLA is key to making any of its proprietary digital media products licensable at arms length. Once the license is agreed, an MPEGLA licensing administrator will be chosen by the initial group of patent holders and granted non-exclusive sublicensing rights to the codec, actively promote the program and distribute collected royalties to the patent owners. In the meantime the MPEGLA has also announced that six Japanese broadcasters NHK, TBS, NTV, TV Asahi, Fuji TV and TV Tokyo have said they have reached terms under which they will use the H.264 Advanced Video Codec in the new digital terrestrial TV broadcasting in Japan, which will also be picked up by mobile personal receivers. The codec will also be used in cable TV and satellite TV broadcasts. Under the deal the broadcasters can either pay a one-time fee of US $2,500 for each encoder, or it can opt for annual fees. Negotiations had been going on for over a year and at one point it was considered that the charges would always been too high and contain usage payments. These mobile personal receivers can now go through their final design stages and will be launched in the first quarter of 2006, built into phones and other portable players. The licensees include NHK, Japan's sole public broadcaster with 54 stations; TBS which reaches 120 million Japanese people; and TV Tokyo reaching 32 million Japanese homes. © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 30 Mar 2004

Ecommerce patent speculator drops suit

The company representing a patent speculator who has been pursuing small commercial websites has called off its pursuit. Lawrence Lockwood was granted an e-commerce patent in 2001, USPTO No. 6,289,319, for a "Automatic Business and Financial Transaction Processing System" which was wide-ranging enough to potentially ensnare ATM manufacturers too. A company called PanIP was founded last year to pursue Lockwood's patent, and fifty small e-commerce operations found themselves facing claims of up to $30,000. A statement by a group of the defendents at their website says that PanIP has dropped its claims. None of the small businesses targeted too out a license, according to the PanIP Group Defense Fund. Lockwood had previously been granted a patent for an "Automated sales and services system", which he used to sue the SABRE airline reservation system. Both patents are under review by the USPTO. The Office recently struck down Eolas patent for embedded objects in web pages, but only after the university spin-off was awarded over $500 million in damages from Microsoft, money that Redmond doesn't now have to pay. ® Related story All your e-commerce sites belong to PanIP (and they want your money) External Link PanIP Group Defense Fund
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Mar 2004

Net surrogate mum fleeced couples for £2,500

A 33-year-old woman from West Yorkshire is up before the beak after she admitted taking money from two couples for her unborn baby. Moira Greenslade, 33, contacted the would-be parents via the Internet, eventually pocketing £2,500 from surrogacy agreements, Bingley Magistrates Court heard. In one case, Greenslade received £1,000 from Peter and Sharon Robinson-Hudson. Mr Robinson-Hudson was to declare himself the baby's natural father; his wife could then apply to adopt after the birth. Greenslade later cancelled the deal via email. She also offered the unborn infant to a Scottish couple in February last year. Greenslade pleaded guilty to three charges of obtaining money by deception and three offences under the Adoption Act. Magistrates referred the case to Crown Court for sentencing, noting: "Taking into account all the circumstances we have heard and the likely effects of the victims of your deception, these offences are so serious they deserve greater punishment than we can give in this court." ®
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2004

Google promotes Froogle

A user interface revamp at Google has seen its shopping comparison service Froogle promoted to pride of place on the main page. It takes the place of Google's Directory, based on data from the Open Directory Project. Froogle made its debut as a labs project fifteen months ago, and is labeled as a Beta. Don't read too much into that: Google News is permanently in Beta too. Froogle has some way to go and needs merchants, fast. A search for "Apple Powerbook" yielded 1,460 results. But only a few were for Apple Powerbooks, all the results were from the same merchant (buy-anything-online.com) and all items - including Flash Drives and Toshibas were priced at exactly $2,848.50. Which suggests that either it's been gamed already, or needs to have a few bugs ironed out. Google has also introduced a personalized search - you enter areas of interest first - and an alerts service, similar to the popular third-party Google Alerts service, which uses the Google API. The UI revamp now gives more room to advertisements on its results pages, but has made these harder to click accidentally. But what you probably want to know is how you can bump a page to the top of Google and Yahoo's results using only five domains. We'll explain this soon. ® Related stories Frugal Google aims to be catalog, e-commerce lynchpin Yahoo! launches shopping search site Five-domain Googlebomb explodes in boardroom
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Mar 2004

Philips licenses PowerVR MBX core

Philips has become the second chip maker to license Imagination Technologies' PowerVR MBX mobile graphics core, courtesy of the developer's partnership with ARM. Philips will license AMR's MBX R-5 core, derived from PowerVR MBX. Philips will combine it with an ARM 9 core in a processor aimed at the mobile market. In January this year, ARM sub-licensed the PowerVR MBX core to Samsung. In April 2003, Imagination licensed the technology to Texas Instruments. Last month TI said it would incorporate the technology into its new OMAP 2 platform. Intel is also a licensee, as are Hitachi and Sharp. It is thought that the Imagination core forms the basis of Intel's upcoming Marathon mobile graphics part, designed to work alongside its next-generation ARM-based XScale CPU, Bulverde. PowerVR MBX uses the screen-tiling technique, long a feature of PowerVR graphics. The core renders a screen as collection of independent tiles, which speeds the overall rendering process considerably. This means the chip is relatively simple, in turn keeping the power consumption down. Sega recently said it would use PowerVR in its arcade game units. Its relationship with Imagination stretches back to the Dreamcast console, which contained a previous generation of the graphics technology. ® Related stories Samsung licenses PowerVR MBX Intel to run with Marathon mobile graphics chip TI builds graphics hardware into mobile chip Texas Instruments licenses PowerVR for PDA, cellphone CPUs UK threesome ARM for Wireless 3D
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

Intel Dothan to offer 533MHz FSB at launch?

Has Intel brought forward the release of Sonoma, its second-generation Centrino platform? A statement issued by memory maker Hynix suggests it has. Hynix yesterday launched what it claims is the world's first - aren't they always? - 1GB SO-DIMM based on DDR 2 SDRAM technology fabbed at 110nm. The process is crucial to Hynix's "industry first" claim - rival memory maker Elpida has shipped a 1GB DDR 2 SO-DIMM since mid-February. Micron is sampling similar products. Hynix's version comes in 400MHz and 533MHz flavours. It will go into mass production "next quarter... to coincide with the release of Intel [sic] DDR 2 chipset". Now, Intel is expected to launch desktop DDR 2 chipsets next month, codenamed Alderwood and Grantsdale, pitched at high-end and mainstream 90nm Pentium 4-based systems, respectively. Alviso, Intel's DDR 2 chipset for notebooks, isn't due to ship until the second half of the year. Alviso is a key component of Sonoma. In addition to DDR 2, Alviso brings PCI Express, Serial ATA and a 533MHz frontside bus to the Centrino platform. As recently as February's Intel Developer Forum, the chip giant let slip that Sonoma would ship this coming Autumn. Dothan, the 90nm version of the Pentium M, is due to ship next quarter, but Intel originally planned that it would work with the existing Centrino chipset, the i855 family, and operate with a 400MHz FSB (as per the current generation of Pentium M). Dothan's 533MHz FSB capability would be utilised when Alviso shipped. Hynix's comment suggests that, at the very least, Alviso will be launched early, alongside Dothan. Dothan was to have launched this quarter, but Intel was forced to hold it back until Q2, because "our validation processes recently showed the need to make some circuit modifications to enable high-volume manufacturability", as chief operating office Paul Otellini put it. The company may have brought Alviso forward to compensate for the delay. Of course, an Alviso launch doesn't necessarily presuppose a Centrino 2 launch - or whatever 'Sonoma' will ship as. Nor does it mean immediate availability. 'Launch' and 'availability' don't mean the same thing. Intel may well offer the 90nm Pentium M with a 400MHz FSB and simply commit itself to a 533MHz FSB timetable, courtesy of an Alviso chipset sometime in Q3 or Q4. Indeed, Hynix's launch was geared to "meet the projected DDR 2 demand for notebook applications in second half of this year", so it looks like that aspect of Alviso's feature set won't be needed for some time. ® Related stories 'Centrino 2' to launch next Autumn Intel i855GME to pave way for 'Centrino 2' next year Elpida launches 1GB DDR 2 notebook DIMM Micron samples DDR 2 mobile DIMMs
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

TeliaSonera chairman ousted

Tapio Hintikka, the Finnish chairman of TeliaSonera, has been forced out of the telco in a Swedish-backed putsch. TeliaSonera was formed in late 2002 as a merger between Finland's Sonera and Sweden's Telia. The Swedish government still owns 45.3 per cent of the combined company and the Finnish government has a 19 per cent stake. The row kicked off when Hintikka's proposed replacement for board member Ingvar Carlsson, a former Swedish prime minister, was rejected by Swedish board members and the Swedish government. Hintikka told the Financial Times: "I thought TeliaSonera should act purely from a business point of view. but in this nomination process I've become involved in Swedish political games and I don't like it." He accused the Swedish government of undermining Finnish influence on the company and of viewing it as a purely Swedish enterprise, according to Finnish newswires. The company said it will appoint another Finn to replace Hintikka on Friday. The Swedish government said he had resigned because he had lost the confidence of the board. ® Related stories Voda leads race for branded content services TeliaSonera expands Euro hotspot roaming range Telia blocks spam-sending Zombie PCs
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

Apple seeks iPod UI, scroll patents

Apple is attempting to patent the user interface for its iPod. The application was filed at the US Patent and Trademarks Office in October 2002 but only published last week. The eighteen month lag is typical, as is Apple's desire to prevent a simple, clean and consistent design innovation from being copied badly. It's remarkable only because the iPod had been on the market for a year when the patent was filed. But the USPTO has recently published two more interesting and related applications from Apple Computer. Both are related UI improvements which haven't made it into products yet. Application No.20040046741 is for a mouse with an optical scroll area rather than a scroll wheel. Another, No. 20040021694 describes how an on-screen 'blob' can help with mouse navigation. The blob allows users to switch between scrolling and cursor modes, or as the application describes it, is "an improved scrolling technique that is ergonomic (e.g., allows the mouse to scroll through a window without holding down a button), that is available to all users regardless of the input device (e.g., does not need a dedicated button) and/or that provides visual stimulus indicating that scrolling is initiated is desired." Jaguar beta testers will remember a user interface element in the shape of a blue disc that - if we remember correctly - hid open windows, but this is quite different, and obviously much more sophisticated. "One advantage of the invention is that mode switching may be implemented using any mouse including a single button mouse. That is, the invention eliminates the need for a dedicated scroll button," concludes the second patent. Although copyists have pilfered much from the Mac, often taking the words while forgetting the tune. Microsoft's Longhorn's UI borrows from Apple's ten year patent on 'Piles' by grouping related documents together; but we wouldn't want to bet on Microsoft actually releasing its version of Piles before Apple. ® Related Stories Doing The Right Thing: Apple UI history Deep inside Apple's Piles Apple attempts to patent fast user switching Apple patents perturb PNG programmers Apple defeats patent infringement claims - again Related Products Buy your iPod from The Reg mobile store
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Mar 2004
cable

BT struggles to repair Manchester fire damage

BT engineers have begun work to repair the damage that wiped out more than 130,000 telephone lines in Manchester following a fire in an underground cable tunnel. Engineers were the given the all-clear by firefighters to enter the tunnel at 9.00pm last night. Working conditions in the tunnel, which is 30m under the centre of Manchester are said to be poor; but BT hopes that as new cable is laid more and more people will have their phone lines restored. In the latest update the UK's dominant telco said: BT was given clearance to access the tunnel at 21.00 on Monday night. Teams have worked through the night getting equipment into the tunnel, and setting up power, lighting and ventilation systems. Jointing on the first cables will begin shortly and will continue round the clock. Working conditions in the tunnel are poor, and we cannot say at this stage how long the whole process will take. As cables are brought back into service, service to customers will be gradually restored. Separately we have set up alternative ducts between the two buildings and will be putting in fibre cable during the course of the day – once this is in place and operational (probably from tonight) this too will bring service back to customers. We now have two banks of payphones in place (at Macclesfield and Prestbury) and we are continuing to work closely with the emergency authorities to reduce the impact on communities. ® Related stories BT fire disrupts emergency services BT cable fire causes 'extensive damage' in Manchester
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2004

Intel denies LGA775 P4 delay

Intel has denied that it has knocked back the 775-pin version of its 90nm Pentium 4 processor a month to June. The claim, made yesterday in a DigiTimes report citing Taiwanese PC manufacturer sources, centred on Intel's plan to promote 90nm CPUs and get the chips' production output up. The delay was also thought to have had something to do with Intel's decision to adopt a new naming scheme for the processors. Desktop P4s will be shipped as 500-series chips, Intel has said. The new naming scheme will debut next quarter, probably with the 90nm Pentium M, 'Dothan', which will ship as the Pentium M 7xx family. ® Related Story LGA775 Pentium 4 slips 'to ship June'
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

AMD sneaks out Athlon 64 2800+

AMD yesterday quietly added an Athlon 64 2800+ processor to its product list. The 1.8GHz part contains 512KB of on-die L2 cache, and costs $178 in batches of 1000 chips. It's a Socket 754 part. The 2800+ emerged on roadmaps that leaked onto the web earlier this month. The roadmaps also accurately forecast the arrival of the Athlon 64 FX-54, suggesting that AMD is on course to deliver the 2.4GHz, 1MB L2 Athlon 64 3700+ next month, followed by a series of Socket 939 parts in May. ® Related Story AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 to launch this month
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

OpenOffice spring cleans with 1.1.1

OpenOffice.org has released version 1.1.1, the latest version of its open source office software suite. The software, which is the foundation of Sun’s StarOffice product set, is an open source alternative to commercial software packages and runs on Linux, Windows and Mac. Louis Suarez-Potts, community manager of the OpenOffice.org project, told DesktopLinux.com that the latest version incorporates plenty of bug fixes, and should be much cleaner than RC1. It also features the OOoDic Autopilot which lets users download automatically any one of 87 spelling, hyphenation and thesaurus dictionaries and supplies better support for languages that use a comma instead of a full stop as a decimal point. According to Forrester Research, over eight per cent of large US companies have installed the free software package. A Forrester survey of 140 companies found 69 were using some form of open source software; 12 had already installed OpenOffice and eight more were planning to do so. OpenOffice has also caught the attention of Microsoft. It has issued sales guidelines to resellers explaining how to sell against OpenOffice. It advises dealers to "Question the ‘free’ argument, question the ‘good enough’ argument and to show the total value delivered by Microsoft". OpenOffice 1.1.1 can be downloaded from the OpenOffice site, and any issues with the code should be reported here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2004

Level 3 launches residential VoIP

Level 3 is launching a white-label residential VoIP service for partners to sell to residential customers. Services will begin in the US during the second quarter of this year. They are branded VoIP Enhanced Local service and HomeTone. VoIP has long been feted as the killer app for broadband. It is also a major challenge for established telcos which face losing their lucrative international and long-distance call revenues. Sureel Choksi, president of Softswitch Services for Level 3, said in a statement: "The US consumer voice market, which is valued at over $65bn per year, is on the verge of fundamental change. The growth of residential broadband access... is allowing a wide variety of companies to pursue the consumer voice market. We believe Level 3, with its extensive softswitch platform and local network infrastructure is in a strong position to capitalize on this trend." Enhanced Local service is described as building blocks for companies wanting a do-it-yourself approach to residential VoIP using their own switching infrastructure. HomeTone is described as a simpler service. BT will begin trialling its IP service "Communicator" in May in the UK - based on Yahoo Messenger it will also allow voice calls over a broadband connection. AT&T announced on Monday that residents in New Jersey would be first to try its home VoIP service called CallVantage. Users will get an adapter to plug into their, or anyone else's, broadband connection. The service also includes IP-based voicemail that can be accessed through a web page. ® b>Related stories BT spreads VoIP love across Europe VoIP set to generate megabucks Sysadmins suffering VoIP headaches
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

US space tourist set for blast-off

US millionaire Gregory Olsen has booked himself a quick trip to the International Space Station in April 2005. Olsen, 58, is paying $20m for the eight-day jaunt, which is organised by extra-terrestrial package holiday specialist Space Adventures. The intrepid native of Brooklyn will not, however, simply spend his time writing postcards and taking pictures out of the window on a disposable camera - his mission has real scientific purpose. Olsen intends to carry out experiments on behalf of his own Sensors Unlimited: some involving infrared cameras and others concerning crystal growth. As Olsen explained to space.com: "This is primarily a science mission, though I’ll get a pleasure doing it." The would-be astronaut leaves the US today en route to training at Russia's Star City. "We'll do our zero-gravity flights and lots of procedures on what to do both the Souyez and the International Space Station - we’ll have complete mock ups of everything in Star City," he said. Assuming everything goes to plan, Olsen will join a very select list of private individuals who have enjoyed the ISS experience - Dennis Tito in 2001, and Mark Shuttleworth in 2002. Meanwhile, those of us who - for fiscal reasons - remain firmly earthbound, can follow the mission's progress here. ® Related stories Russians punt $40m space honeymoon
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2004
Broken CD with wrench

BT denies cable fire was in A-bomb exchange

While BT was tackling its underground cable fire yesterday, the burning issue for many Web watchers was whether the blaze was in an old telephone exchange buried deep below Manchester and designed to withstand a twenty-kiloton atom bomb. The Register was flooded with emails yesterday from people convinced that the fire had broken out in what is known as the "Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange". According to this fascinating insight into Manchester's Cold War past the "Guardian" was built in 1954 some 34m underground and was designed to withstand a Hiroshima-size atomic explosion and ensure that communications could continue in the event of Manchester being flattened. Yesterday, BT officials denied that the fire was anywhere near the underground exchange. Today, though, a spokesman told The Register: "The tunnel in which the fire broke out was built at the same time as the former underground 'Guardian' exchange - in the 50s. "The exchange no longer exists - it was decommissioned in the early 70s and all the gear removed. "The tunnel is and always has been a cable tunnel between the two BT (then GPO) buildings - Dial House and Rutherford House." No one at the telco was available at the time of writing to say if the tunnel was part of the bomb-proof underground structure. ® Related stories BT struggles to repair Manchester fire damage BT fire disrupts emergency services BT cable fire causes 'extensive damage' in Manchester
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2004

US silver surfers hit the Web

The percentage of US seniors going online is growing rapidly, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. This rise in silver surfers mirrors a similar increase in the UK. Twenty-two per cent of Americans aged 65 and over go online, Older Americans and the Internet reveals. This represents a 47 per cent increase on 2000, when only 15 per cent had Internet access. Overall, about 8 million Americans aged 65 and over use the Internet. 58 per cent of Americans aged 50 to 64 go online, but this figure jumps to 75 per cent in the 30 to 49 age bracket and 77 per cent between 18 and 29. "The 'silver tsunami' of older Internet users is gaining momentum," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. "Internet users in their 50s who work, shop, and keep in touch with friends and family online will age into and transform the wired senior population." Many of seniors' favourite online activities, from sending email to playing games, mirror the preferences of the general population, according to the report, which is based primarily on survey data collected between 3 February and 1 March 2004. Older women are leading the charge and the gender ratio among "wired seniors" is now equal. The number of seniors who live in households with moderate incomes has risen greatly, as has the number whose education ended with a high school diploma. Bbut the online senior population is still dominated by white, upper-income household members, and those with college degrees. "As younger Americans weave the Internet into nearly every aspect of their lives, their parents and grandparents are starting to follow suit, especially when it comes to email and information searches," says Susannah Fox, director of research at the Pew Internet & American Life Project and author of the report. American trends mirror the United Kingdom experience. Last year, then communications watchdog Oftel revealed that the over 65s are now the fastest-growing group of Internet users in the UK. In 2002, the over-75s became the fastest growing part of that group. the over-55 population is currently the fastest growing group online, Research analyst Datamonitor reported last year. "When looking for health information, seniors with Internet access are favoring online resources as the primary source of information," it said. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 30 Mar 2004

Kazaa and co ‘not cause of music biz woes’, say Profs

File sharing has no effect on CD sales, a pair of US academics have claimed. The finding will not make pleasant reading for the music industry, which claims file-sharing is the cause of the huge decline seen in North American, German and Italian CD sales. Harvard Business School Associate Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Professor Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina base their claim on research carried during the Autumn and Winter of 2002 to compare song download volumes with CD album sales. The duo used data taken directly from file-sharing networks to calculate the number of genuine downloads made during a 17-week period. They also looked at official US CD sales data. Factors such as network congestion, song length - ie. download duration - as well as international school and college holidays were taking into consideration. They then used statistical methods to work out whether the sale of an album declines if it is downloaded more frequently. The result, the professors say, is that there is no such connection. "File sharing has no statistically significant effect on purchases of the average album in our sample," their report states. "Moreover, the estimates are of rather modest size when compared to the drastic reduction in sales in the music industry. At most, file sharing can explain a tiny fraction of this decline." Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf estimate that it takes on average 5000 downloads to reduce album sales by just a single copy - and that, they say, is a worst-case scenario. On that basis, US CD sales in 2002 would have fallen by two million copies. In fact, they fell by 139 million units between 2000 and 2002. If the professors' analysis is correct, file-sharing may have actually limited that decline. The professors' study suggests that for the top 25 per cent of albums - those with sales of 600,000 copies or more - one extra copy was sold on average for every 150 downloads. That said, downloads did tend to impact less popular albums - those with 36,000 sales or less. Overall, however, the effect is beneficial, since the music industry makes most of its money from the most popular albums. "While downloads occurred on a vast scale during this period - three million simultaneous users shared 500 million files on the popular network FastTrack/Kazaa alone - most people who shared files appear to be individuals who would not have bought the albums that they downloaded," the professors say. However, the professors do provide circumstantial evidence that backs the music industry's claim. The greatest download activity was recorded for users in the US, Canada, Germany and Italy - which are all countries that, according to the London-based industry anti-piracy watchdog the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), have seen some of the biggest declines in music sales. That seems a pretty close parallel, but the professors suggest we look to other reasons for the decline. Sales, they say, are not lost to downloads since most download are made of songs music fans would not buy anyway. They also point to a similar large decline in LP sales during the late 1970s and early 1980s - a trend that prompted the music industry's 'home taping is killing music' campaign, we recall - which was reversed when CD was launched. Indeed, CD sales were long been inflated during the 1990s as consumer re-purchased in the new medium albums they already owned. "Movies, software and video games are actively downloaded, and yet these industries have continued to grow since the advent of file sharing," not the professors. Reasons for the decline in music sales include, they suggest, "poor macroeconomic conditions, a reduction in the number of album releases, growing competition from other forms of entertainment such as video games and DVDs - video game graphics have improved and the price of DVD players and movies have sharply fallen - [and] a reduction in music variety stemming from the large consolidation in radio along with the rise of independent promoter fees to gain airplay". Related Link The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales - An Empirical Analysis (PDF) Related Stories UK, Oz album sales rise despite 'Kazaa crisis' BPI threatens uploaders with big stick RIAA sues lots more students
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

Music biz takes P2P jihad to Europe and Canada

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is starting legal action against named Europeans and Canadians it accuses of sharing music files. The 247 people are in Denmark, Germany, Italy and Canada have used file-sharing networks including Kazaa, WinMX, eMule and iMesh. Similar moves in the US attracted controversy when the RIAA took action against a twelve-year-old schoolgirl. The IFPI says the action is justified because it comes after a long education effort warning consumers; also there is now a large catalogue of legal downloads available. Action is being taken by IFPI-affiliated recording industry bodies in the relevant country. In Denmark 120 people will receive "civil demand" letters asking them to stop file sharing and pay compensation or face legal action. In Germany 68 individuals have been reported to the police. Police in Italy have already raided addresses after 30 were charged with copyright infringement - 25 computers and 30 hard disks were seized. In Canada, 29 face copyright claims after action was taken against ISPs to force them to reveal subscribers' identities. According to IFPI, file sharing is a major cause for falling album sales across the globe. The Tzotziles people of the Chiapas region of Mexico believe that modern cameras can capture and steal their souls. Record industry representatives in Sweden are today starting an instant messaging campaign warning file sharers that they face possible legal action. ® b>Related stories UK, Oz album sales rise despite 'Kazaa crisis' RIAA student lawsuits. Haven't we been here before? Anti-piracy vigilantes stalk file sharers
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

US IT spending on the up

Economic and profit growth will boost US spending on IT kit this year. The fourth quarter on 2003 saw good growth, especially in networking gear, according to Forrester Research. The analyst firm forecasts spending may be a little lower than expected in the first quarter due to price cutting, but growth will continue. Computer hardware sales will grow 10 per cent over the year. Software will grow 8 per cent mostly in infrastructure and security spending although there will be some increase in enterprise applications. The research also reveals that hardware price falls are slowing - suggesting stronger demand. Forrester also announced its first poll of CIO confidence. It talked to 112 CIOs, 75 per cent of whom were from companies with more than 1,000 employees. Two-thirds of respondents believe the business climate in their sector will improve over the year. But more than half expect IT spending to "remain at the budgeted run rate for the remainder of the year". Related stories Voice and data – is this network big enough for both of us? Online consumer confidence drops - analyst Bluetooth to outship Wi-Fi five to one - report
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

Outsourced US outfit rattles eBay begging bowl

If you’re a European firm looking to outsource your 3D graphics, animation, and rendering requirements to an impoverished nation where jobs are harder to find than an Iraqi biological weapon of mass destruction, then today’s your lucky day. For bids in excess of a modest $510, you can secure the services of “eDream Team”, specialists in said field who are flaunting themselves like two-bit hussies on eBay, desperate to attract some passing trade. We can confirm that they are based in a country which has historically displayed some expertise in computing, but where programmers are now reduced to rifling dustbins for stale pizza crusts because their own jobs were outsourced to Kyrgyzstan. You’ve guessed it — eDream Team are based in San Francisco, bless ’em, and have resorted to web prostitution because: “Our jobs were offshored because companies need to focus on the bottom line. We feel it is THEIR LOSS, YOUR GAIN.” Not for El Reg, sadly. Our own graphical needs are serviced by a highly-skilled team of eight-year-olds in Ulan Bator. If, however, you have not yet seen the light and transferred all of your day-to-day administration to the Third World, here’s what the eDream team can offer: “Your winning bid will give you the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the team. Your demonstration of support for a highly creative and dedicated group of people will guarantee that America stays at the top of the technology curve insuring its ingenuity and edge aren’t exported.” For the record, eDream Team say they worked on Mission Impossible, The Last Samurai and The Matrix. Impressive, unless they mean the second two Matrix films, in which case they’d be well advised to keep shtum. The hard-sell continues thus: “It would take an employer years to amass our collective, synergistic talents. Our goal is to find a win-win fit with a company that sees the value in a ready-made talent pool.” Spot on. This is a great way to sell yourself to British companies — all of which can spot value in a ready-made talent pool from 5,000 miles. Which is, co-incidentally, the approximate distance from London to Bangalore. And so we ask all readers with an interest in supporting developing nations to get out their chequebooks and throw some money at these boys. The proceeds of the auction, btw, will go to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, because “we, too, believe in the power of innovative learning environments — that’s what helped inspire our love of what we do.” In the meantime, eDream Team might like to compare notes with ZDNet’s Tech Update, another US-based operation which also offered itself on eBay. Sadly, that auction was quickly pulled — hardly the sort of spirit required to address the spectre of offshoring currently stalking the US like an apocalyptic, horse-mounted Indian callcentre operative. ®
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2004

Overture searches for WAP gold

Overture has done a deal with Vodafone and Orange to provide travel directories on their UK WAP portals. Browsers will see Overture advertising listings, triggered by keywords, next to the searches they are performing. Advertisers pay the Yahoo! subsidiary Overture according to how many clickthroughs they receive. Overture said the deal would help it better understand mobile users before a full launch of paid-for-searches later this year. It is kicking off with text and location-based services, before "gradually moving on to more sophisticated applications allowing easy migration to 3G". The service is being launched with location specialists Mobile Commerce Ltd. Overture says it is talking to other operators and will announce further partners shortly. ® Related stories Yahoo! buys Kelkoo Yahoo! takes! Overture! to! Europe! Yahoo! buys! Overture!
John Oates, 30 Mar 2004

SecureWave revamps alternative to desktop AV

Intrusion prevention outfit SecureWave is challenging the place of traditional AV software on the desktop with a revamped version of its behaviour-blocking technology, due out next month. Instead of applying the "black list" logic (if it is registered as bad, deny), that underpins signature-based AV products, SecureWave's Sanctuary product line will allow only known and allowed applications to run. This "white list" approach is far more effective in combating viruses and worms the traditional AV scanners, SecureWave argues. Sanctuary Application Control and Device Control will allow administrators to create rules on the use of PCs controlling applications and I/O devices, respectively. Unlike SecureWave's previous SecureEXE and SecureNT software technology, Sanctuary also creates a means to allow designated users to run application and executable files they personally know and trust. Bob Johnson, chief operating officer of SecureWave, said Sanctuary is an alternative to AV software on the desktop. However, he stressed that corporates would still need to have AV software at the gateway and separate firewall defences even after they deploy Sanctuary. "You need AV somewhere in your environment but not necessarily on the desktop," he said. SecureWave is focused on desktop and server security, so users would need to look elsewhere for network-based intrusion prevention and firewall technology. Web-based email filtering services, which help minimise the bandwidth drain caused by viruses, also fit in with SecureWave's approach. Time to change It's becoming increasing evident that fast-spreading worm can bypass AV protection (false negatives), but the behaviour-blocking approach caries with it the possibility of false negatives - the Achilles' Heel of intrusion detection systems. Also, wouldn't adding new applications to a white list create an extra headache for sys admins? That's not a problem in practice, according to SecureWave, which reports that users of its technology experience a decrease in help-desk inquiries. SecureWave claims to have solved the management problem of applying white lists into businesses and its impressive roster of clients such as Barclays Bank, Norwich Union, The Metropolitan Police and NATO backs up its assertion that traditional AV vendors should watch their backs. "We're offering zero day protection, stability and configuration control. Traditional AV vendors - who are attached to an outdated approach that has made them rich - can't match that," said Johnson. At first, SecureWave will be marketing Sanctuary to corporates but it promises a consumer version of the product by the end of 2004. This marks it out from competitors in the emerging host-based intrusion prevention market such as Cisco who are only interested in the enterprise market. Cisco positions its technology as an extra layer of protection - rather than an alternative - to desktop AV packages. ® Related Stories Virus writers outpace traditional AV The trouble with anti-virus Cisco combats network worms Memory sticks are the latest security risk, claims SecureWave
John Leyden, 30 Mar 2004

Freeserve offers punter £19.99 ADSL carrot

Freeserve is offering cut-price broadband to its punters - to stop them from leaving the ISP. Following our story this morning that Freeserve/Wanadoo UK is about to introduce a capped broadband service for under £20 a month, we've been contacted by a reader who tells us he's just been offered broadband for £19.99 a month. Apparently, this long-serving Freeserve/Wanadoo UK punter recently tried to move to a rival ISP to benefit from a cheaper service. To his amazement, he was offered Freeserve's service for £19.99 a month. "The [cancellations] advisor offered to supply my service for £19.99 if I stayed with Freeserve. This has now been actioned and my new Freeserve BB price is indeed £19.99 per month. "We also spoke about services and the advisor told me that not only are Freeserve looking to reduce the price of the service, but they are also going to introduce differing speeds ranging from 512Kbps - 2Mb," he said. So, is this some soft launch of Freeserve/Wanadoo UK's new capped service as reported by El Reg earlier today? Not so, said a spokeswoman for Freeserve/Wanadoo UK, who told us: "This is just a standard retention technique which we've introduced in response to other broadband products available on the market." Such inducements to stay with the ISP are only available to a small number of people, we understand. ® Related Stories Freeserve to sell capped, cut-price broadband Freeserve gears up for major broadband push Freeserve mulls Wanadoo rebranding - again Freeserve 'committed' to unbundling local loop BT touts £20 capped broadband
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2004

Andromeda galaxy home to ten black holes

Astronomers have discovered ten possible black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy after scanning the area for a particular X-ray emission signature peculiar to the phenomenon. Joint research teams at the Open University and the University of Leicester made the discoveries using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray observatory to examine double star systems known as low mass X-ray binaries (LMXB). These LMXB systems consist of a neutron star paired with a star similar to our own. The dense neutron star sucks in material from its neighbouring star, causing a huge heating effect and X-ray emissions. The astronomers examine these emissions for clues about the mass of the neutron star. If it is sufficiently massive, it will collapse in on itself to form a black hole. The rate at which material spirals into the neutron star - coupled to the the system's luminosity - can provide evidence of this. If the neutron star is more than three times as massive as our sun, it is likely to be a black hole. Dr Barnard, who led the research at the Open University commented: "Black holes are elusive beasts. We can never see them directly, only the effects they have on the stars and gas around them. But if black holes exist, the ten X-ray sources we have singled out are very likely black holes." The new detection technique has allowed astronomers to identify these Andromedan black hole candidates in a very short time period: just 18 months. Searches for potential black holes in our own galaxy have turned up ten candidates too, but these were identified over several decades, rather than months. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2004

This Googlebomb cost $44.75 (or three weblogs)

Businesses spending thousands of dollars to get their websites prominently displayed by Google should look at a much cheaper option that archivist Daniel Brandt demonstrated last week. His Googlebomb is still exploding. Using just five domains he's managed to place a page at No.1 in Google, Yahoo!, MSN search and Alltheweb. The latter two use Yahoo!'s search results, reminding us how we heavily we rely on such a vulnerable information pipe. The page in question is returned by a search for "out of touch executives". Brandt says he hopes this will be the last Googlebomb; he performed the exercise because he thinks Google executives are being complacent by dismissing the gaming as harmless fun. The five domains cost $44.75. However, as Brandt explains, subdomains might do the job just as well. Google indexes subdomains as if they are distinct sites, so fred.googlebomber.com, jane.googlebomber.com and harry.googlebomber.com can contain the links. Google is aware of this, and has intervened in a recent rigging attempt which saw a search for "california apartment insurance" return dozens of pages from subdomains at areaguides.net. Now the results return fifteen results, with over 800 more not shown. Brandt has a fascinating service at Yahoo! Watch which compares Google and Yahoo! search results. A London-based weblogger has gone one better. He's rigged Google to return a page with just three weblog entries. "I decided to do this as a joke after being treated rather rudely by the staff at one of my local pubs," writes Matt Armstrong. "Inspired by the group of New York bloggers who did something similar, I managed to successfully Googlebomb the pub's website so that it is now the top result for the search: rudest pub (which was actually better than I hoped for: I was going for 'rudest pub in Islington', but no, apparently it is the rudest pub anywhere)." "Frankly, I'm amazed how easy it was, and couldn't believe that it only took just over a month for Google to start showing it in their results." Here is one example that Yahoo! caught: it places his description of the bomb first, but not the target. For small web businesses who depend on visibility in Google or Yahoo!, it's no laughing matter. Google doesn't put paid-for entries in its main results pages, but in a parallel column. Yahoo! mingles the two slightly more explicitly. But are they really so different? If web businesses can't get prominence on the results pages by creating legitimate pages that conform to good web practice, then the message is clear: if you want visibility, take out ads. And both Google and Yahoo! will be delighted to help you there. ® Related stories Five-domain Googlebomb explodes in boardroom Google bug blocks thousands of sites Options dwindle for London baseball mavens
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Mar 2004

Email filter patent puts industry on edge

A US patent granted to Postini, the email security company, could grant it legal ownership of a large chunk of the methodology underlying anti-spam and message filtering technology on the market. The implications for the mail filtering business are huge - if the patent can withstand a legal challenge. The patent effectively says that any system which intercepts mail, filtering viruses and spam messages from the inbox and then sends what's left to the intended recipient is using Postini's intellectual property (IP). This could apply to a large section of the anti-spam and anti-virus market. Postini's patent describes using a modified DNS address to redirect email to an email pre-processing service which can "detect and detain unwanted messages such as spam, viruses or other junk email messages". It covers various actions that could be performed on an incoming message, based on a user's settings. These include deletion, forwarding, forwarding of partial messages and mailing to several addresses. It also covers broadcasting the message to one or more wireless devices. Postini’s founder, Scott Petry, agrees that the remit of the patent is broad, but said that it had to be to cover the work the company had done. He told The Register that the company had filed the patent based on work it considered novel, and that all of it was developed in house. “All our technology is home grown,” he said. “And we protect our IP when we can. If nothing else, this patent will be a good defensive bargaining chip in the event that we get sued for infringing someone else’s IP.” This is an interesting illustration of the cut-throat world of patenting in the US software business, certainly, but not everyone is convinced the work was novel, even back in 1999 when the patent was filed. Alyn Hockey, product director at Clearswift, a rival email filtering firm, argues that there is nothing new in the patent, and that if Postini was to seek license fees from Clearswift, the matter would be decided in court: “We have so much prior art on this, it is incredible. There are things in here that are very familiar from other patents I’ve seen in this area.” Steve Frank, a partner in the patent and intellectual property group of the Boston law firm Testa Hurwitz & Thibeault, told IDG that the patent has many tell-tale signs of weakness: its research section in which the appellants establish originality only cites other patents. According to Frank, this often indicates poor background research, making it more likely that a legal challenge would be successful. Petry argues that Postini’s job was not to check the validity of its claim, or to find prior art, but to make the claim in the first place. “It may turn out that there are people in the industry whose methods infringe this patent”, he said, but argued that the company did not file the patent to find a loophole to exploit, but to protect the work they had done. Postini has no immediate plans to try to enforce the patent, but Petry would not speculate about any such activity in the future. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2004

iPod: this season's must-have for muggers

West Midlands police have issued a stark warning to iPod users: ditch the white headphones or pay the price. Fashion-conscious music lovers are apparently being targeted by muggers. The Times tells the sorry tale of 22-year-old language student Roland Baskerville, who lost his 20GB model on the mean streets of Birmingham: "I was walking down the road near to my home when a man who was walking the other way pointed at my headphones." The thief then asked Baskerville if he was listening to an iPod and, receiving an affirmative answer, he "pulled a knife out and started waving it at me, saying: ‘Well hand it over, then.’ I gave it to him and he ran off. He must have known I was wearing an iPod because of the white headphones." The police are advising iPod junkies to use less distinctive headphones, something which is apparently akin to asking Victoria Beckham to shop at Oxfam. The Sun quotes one iPod representative as saying: "There are guys who’d rather be robbed than change the colour of the headphones." Quite right. What's the point of buying a must-have fashion accessory unless everyone within a 300-yard radius can enjoy it too? As one poster to an Ipodlounge.com forum puts it: "I always pick out the iPod people when I'm walking down the street. I know who all the cool people are." Yes, it's certainly lovely to stand out from the crowd. ® Related Products Buy your replacement iPod from The Reg mobile store
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2004

Intel to pay $225m to settle Itanic patent clash

Intel and Intergraph have settled their remaining differences in the last of their numerous clashes over who really owns the rights to each others' patents. The settlement also lets Dell off the hook. Indeed, the Texas PC maker gains a license to the Intergraph patents under dispute. Intel and Intergraph today asked the US District Court of Marshall, Texas to dismiss the case with prejudice. If the court concurs, neither party will have any further financial obligations too each other, as per a separate settlement reached in April 2002. The move follows an Appeal Court ruling made last February that sent the case back to the District Court. The case centres on Intergraph's Parallel Instruction Computing (PIC) patents, which the company claimed Intel infringed when it developed Itanium's Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) architecture. Intergraph sued Dell for using allegedly infringing Itanium CPUs in a series of servers and workstations. Intergraph sued Intel separately for alleged infringement of its so-called Clipper patents, which it claimed were violated by Intel's 32-bit Pentium processor family. Intel and Intergraph settled that case in April 2002, with Intel paying out $300m to license the Clipper patents. It also agreed to pay Intergraph $150m after the PIC ruling, along with the promise of a further $100m if it lost the appeal. The Court of Appeal rejected the lower court's ruling that Intel had violated two Intergraph patents, but upheld judgements which stated that Intel had infringed other intellectual property. February's ruling doesn't necessarily amount to a lost appeal, but today's announcement is tantamount to an acceptance on Intel's part that Intergraph has come out on top. Intel will pay Intergraph $125m by 5 April and a further $100m in quarterly $25m instalments. The chip giant hasn't decided how it will account for the payment, but a proportion of it - maybe even the full $225m - will reduce Q1 2004's bottom line. In return for the payment, Intergraph has agreed not to sue any of Intel's customers who use the chips giant's processors, chipsets and mobos "in combination". Hence the Dell deal. The PC maker claimed it "had a unique indemnity agreement with Intel that... obligates Intel to indemnify [it] from patent infringement claims in the litigation which relate to combining Intel microprocessors and other components in Dell systems". Intel says that's not the case, but has "decided to remove the current dispute from the courts and resolve the disagreement privately". This may account for the extra $125m Intel has to pay Intergraph above the $100m earmarked in the April 2002 settlement. The details of Dell's claimed indemnity against legal action against Intel will no doubt play a part in the legal action brought last week by MicroUnity against the two firms. That case alleges Intel's SSE and SpeedStep CPU technologies violate seven patents held by MicroUnity. ® Related Stories Intel, Dell sued over SSE, HyperThreading Appeal judge bats back Intel-Intergraph patent case Intel loses Itanium patent infringement case Intel to appeal $150m Itanium patent ruling
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2004

AOL raffles spammer's seized Porsche

As a nice publicity adjunct to its ongoing war against spam, AOL is holding a raffle to offload a $47,000 Porsche Boxster S which it seized last year as part of a settlement against an unnamed spammer. The company says the car's original owner made over $1m by unleashing a 1bn email spam tsunami on its users and claims the motor has "symbolic value". AOL's Randall Boe said: "We'll take cars, houses, boats - whatever we can find and get a hold of." Punters have until 8 April to stake their claim on the wages of sin. The competition is open only to existing adult AOL customers living in the continental US, who must enter online via the AOL website. ® Related stories AOL wins $7m in porn spam case
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2004