28th > July > 2004 Archive

Motorola touts 'razor thin' metal mobile

Motorola launched its sleekest clamshell phone yet yesterday, pitching the aluminium-clad V3 at the PowerBook crowd and other "lifestyle" users who "want something different and are prepared to pay for it", the company said. The V3 is certainly impressive to look at. Its brushed metal casing looks and feels better than plastic, and its 2.2in 176 × 220 main display is crisp and clear. There's a secondary external 96 × 80 display and a 640 × 480 digicam with 4x digital zoom. The large keypad is metal too and backlit in electro-luminescent blue. Closed, the unit measures 9.8 × 5.3 × 1.4cm and weighs 95g. The antenna is integrated into the base of the handset, while the 680mAh battery sits behind the keypad. It delivers 204-400 minutes' talk time and 156-250 hours' stand-by time, Motorola said. The V3 runs Motorola's own Synergy OS, and will ship with a Java MIDP 2.0 for apps and games. The handset also provides MMS, SMS and email messaging, plus WAP and Web browsing. It also includes a Wireless Village instant messaging client. There are picture and video (MPEG 4) playback apps, and the MotoMixer music-making utility. The handset supports MP3 and polyphonic MIDI ringtones, the former a feature operators will be unable to disable, the company claimed. Ringtones can be transferred across via Bluetooth - using the Class 1 spec. for increased, 100m range - or USB. Indeed, those are the only connectivity options the handset offers beyond its quad-band GSM/GPRS support. And while it supports MP3 ringtones, it doesn't include an MP3 player. That said, with only 5MB of on-board user-accessible memory, there's not a lot of room for songs. The V3 has no memory expansion slot. Motorola did not provide pricing for the handset, but did say it expects the V3 to command a "premium... high-tier" price-tag. The phone is due to ship in the UK and US in the autumn. ® Related stories Apple licenses iTunes to Motorola Guilty until proven innocent - DRM the mobile phone way Chip biz IPO pushes Motorola into the red Motorola smart phone to offer 1.3Mp cam, Bluetooth Sony Ericsson debuts keyboard smart phone Europe: we will buy your PDAs, smart phones Mio launches MS smartphone in UK Mobile phones rot your balls
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004
DVD it in many colours

Nortel hammered again

Nortel saw its shares fall sharply yesterday after the company warned it had more work to do on cutting costs and improving margins. Shares fell 15 per cent to $3.51 after the firm said sales were holding up, but it was not making enough progress in improving margins. Last month it sold off its manufacturing plants to Flextronics. The company is still working on restating its accounts for the last three years. Nortel is under investigation by US regulators and the Mounties. It is also facing class action suits from investors. Bill Owens, president and CEO of Nortel Networks, said: "I remain pleased with Nortel Networks market momentum and continue to expect our revenues in 2004 to grow faster than the market (which we expect will grow in the low to mid single digits). "However, as we move through 2004 and based on the work to date on our financial results, it is clear that our business model is not achieving our targeted operating cost (SG&A and R&D) performance of below 40 per cnet of overall revenues and our targeted gross margin percent of mid 40s." Owens will detail the cost-cutting plans in mid-August when the company releases results for the first half of 2004. Canadian regulators insist Nortel update the market every two weeks. The full statement is here. ® Related stories No news is good news for Nortel Nortel flogs factories to Flextronics No news is bad news for Nortel Nortel re-restates results, fires CEO
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

Peoplesoft profits down

PeopleSoft saw profits fall to $51m in the second quarter ended 30 June 2004. Licensing revenue was $130m and total revenues were $647m. Earnings per share were down to $0.14 versus $0.17 for the same period last year. The enterprise software maker wasted no time in blaming Oracle's attempted hostile takeover for the shortfall. PeopleSoft warned on profits earlier this month but missed even those lowered targets. Craig Conway, president and CEO of PeopleSoft, said: "Our financial results in Q2 reflected the heavy media coverage of the United States of America versus Oracle trial. Clearly it was the elephant in the room for our customers. "Considering the extraordinary circumstances we were operating under, our performance was still solid with more than 160 new customers, and strong cash flow and bottom line earnings." Conway said these signs point to a strong underlying performance once a decision is reached in the takeover battle. PeopleSoft refused to give guidance for the third and fourth quarters until after a decision is made on Oracle's takeover bid. It has spent $70m on defending itself against the buyout. The press release is available for download here. ® Related stories Oracle judge hears closing arguments PeopleSoft blames Oracle for losses US gov and Oracle in court
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

AMD ships Sempron

UpdatedUpdated AMD today rolled out its budget 32-bit processor range, Sempron, just ahead of the arrival of Intel's 64-bit 'Prescott' Pentium 4s on 1 August. The chip maker introduced a range of Semprons, some pitched at desktop roles, other at the mobile space. The desktop parts, ranging from the 2200+ to the 3100+, are available immediately, while the mobile chips will ship in August. The 2600+, 2800+ and 3000+ are aimed at desktop replacement laptops, while separate 2600+ and 2800+ mobiles have been designed for thin'n'light notebooks. The DTR chips consume 62W, the TNL parts 25W. The mobile 2600+ and 2800+ chips all operate at 1.6GHz, so the 2800+ must offer a larger cache, though AMD declined to specify what - presumably it feels the high performance rating is sufficient. The mobile 3000+ runs at 1.8GHz. The desktop Sempron processor are clocked as follows: 3100+ = 1.8GHz, 2800+ = 2.0GHz, 2600+ = 1.83GHz, 2500+ = 1.75GHz, 2400+ = 1.67GHz, 2300+ 1.58GHz and 2200+ 1.5GHz. While AMD didn't announce such a product today, it will ship a desktop Sempron 3000+ in Q4. As expected some Semprons use Socket 754, others Socket A. As yet, AMD has not said publicly which chip has which interface. All of the chips are position head-to-head with Intel's Celeron and are being touted as the ideal solution for homes and business who want a powerful PC for the kind of apps they run - typically tasks that don't require a top-of-the-range chip. Certainly in Europe, Celeron has been making big in-roads into the market of late, particularly in the mobile desktop replacement segment, thus far to AMD's detriment. AMD hopes that Sempron - essentially to the Athlon 64 what the old Duron line was to the Athlon XP range - will reverse that trend. It has already signed up some big names to take the new chip family: HP, Lenovo, Acer, Twinhead and Medion. Duron was never a great success, but perhaps it's time was not right - nowadays there are a number of mainstream apps that will run happily on a 'low-end' CPU. Soon to oppose Sempron will be a Socket T-equipped line of Celerons capable of working with Intel's media-rich i915P and i915G chipsets, which Intel is expected to ship next month. ® AMD's Sempron Line-up Processor Price Desktop 3100+ $126 3000+ TBA 2800+ $109 2600+ $85 2500+ $74 2400+ $61 2300+ $45 2200+ $39 Mobile - Desktop Replacement 3000+ $120 2800+ $108 2600+ $84 Mobile - Thin'n'light notebooks 2800+ $99 2600+ $85 Related stories Semprons to match Athlon XP performance... AMD to ship mobile Athlons, Semprons in Q3 AMD readies low-cost Sempron CPUs AMD knocks up to 30% off Athlon 64 prices AMD ships faster Mobile Athlon 64 Intel mobile, desktop chips for the chop Intel grows Socket T Celeron line-up Intel forecast to cut P4 price by up to 34% Intel to tackle Sempron with 'Celeron price cuts'
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

EDS slashes dividend

EDS is cutting two thirds from its share dividend in an effort to save cash. Shareholders will receive 5 cents per share rather than 15 cents. This should save the firm $50m a quarter. Michael Jordan, chairman and chief executive EDS, said: "Our board carefully analysed the impact of this change on our shareholders and felt it prudent to free up additional funds to further enhance our competitiveness. "The dividend cut will make it easier for EDS to fulfil its promise of achieving zero net debt by the end of the year, from about $4bn today." The announcement was made after the markets closed yesterday but shares still got hit in after-hours trading, falling nearly five per cent. EDS announces second quarter earnings later today. ® Related stories EDS wins $1.1bn gig with BoA Moody's junk-rates EDS debt EDS cuts losses
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

Microsoft attack worm rides on the back of MyDoom

The latest version of the MyDoom could be just the first stage of a two-stage attack targeting Microsoft's main website. MyDoom-M (AKA MyDoom-O) is a mass-mailing worm that opens a back door - Zincite-A - on port 1034/TCP of compromised PCs. This gives attackers remote, unauthorised access to infected PCs. First spotted on Monday afternoon, MyDoom-M has spread like wildfire, causing availability problems for leading search engines because of its use of sites such as Google to hunt for email addresses to attack. Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure is reporting the spread of a new worm, Zindos, which works together with MyDoom. Zindos-A is now hitching a ride on the back of the MyDoom, using the infected machine lists and the backdoors prepared by MyDoom-M, to spread. Zindos's payload includes a denial of service attack on www.microsoft.com. Once Zindos has infected a machine it causes the machine to request the http://www.microsoft.com/ domain in an infinite loop, with 50ms delays. This behaviour could help to explain the difficulties some Reg experienced visiting the software giant's website earlier this week. The first version of MyDoom, which appeared on the scene in January, targeted SCO's web presence. Virus writers have already used the backdoor created by worms in the MyDoom series to spread their wares, so the tactics used by the Zindos worm shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Based on similarities in coding style, F-Secure reckons that the same virus writer created both MyDoom-M and Zindos. F-Secure has a produced a free MyDoom disinfection tool here. ® Related stories We're all MyDoomed Google goes gimpy from MyDoom infection Zombie PCs spew out 80% of spam MyDoom and NetSky cause chaos Worms pour through MyDoom back door Latest Email worm has SCO-facing payload
John Leyden, 28 Jul 2004

ATI unveils top-end mobile Radeon

ATI has begun shipping its latest mobile graphics chip, the Mobility Radeon 9800, which - despite its name - is based on the company's X800 desktop chip. As such, the 130nm 9800 provides eight pixel pipelines fed by four vertex pipelines. It supports ATI's 3Dc 'normal map' compression system, which the company reckons offers more performance and image quality value to games developers than DirectX 9's Shader 3.0, which the 9800 does not support. The chip features a 256-bit quad-channel memory interface, and operates across a 4x or 8x AGP bus. For PCI Express, notebook makers will need the recently announced Mobility Radeon X600, which, just to keep us confused, is based on older technology than the 9800. The 9800 also provides ATI's PowerPlay mobile power-preservation system. You can read a full spec. list here. ATI did not reveal pricing for the product - or clock and memory speeds, for that matter - but it did say the part is already available on Dell's gamer-oriented Inspiron XPS and Inspiron 9100 laptops aimed at the North American and European markets, respectively. ® Related stories ATI breaks revenue record ATI Radeon X800 Pro morphs into X800 XT ATI unwraps latest GPU technology ATI unveils Axiom ATI confirms no Shader 3.0 in Radeon X800 Related reviews Sapphire Radeon X800 Pro ATI Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition XFX GeForce 6800 Ultra Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Nintendo redesigns DS handheld console

Nintendo's DS handheld console will indeed be called the 'Nintendo DS' when it ships later this year, the Japanese company confirmed today. It also revealed the unit's final design - a sleeker, more elegant look than the more old-style shape shown at the E3 show earlier this year. At that time, Nintendo maintained that the DS name - simply standing for 'dual screen' - was just a codename, no more. But the name has stuck, and with World+Dog happy with and continuing to use the 'Nintendo DS' moniker, the console maker has decided to use it on the final version. "Nintendo DS, originally chosen as the code name, has been selected as the official product name," it said today. "The Nintendo DS name evokes the idea of a portable system with dual screens, providing the rationale for the final name."   The Nintendo DS now... ... and at E3 The DS is set to ship in the US and Japan by the end of the year, with the console's European debut scheduled for Q1 2005. We have heard 4 and 11 November for the US and Japanese release dates, respectively. Sony's rival handheld, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), is set to appear in Japan in Q4 2004, and North America and Europe in Q1 2005. Nintendo has already said the handheld will be powered by twin ARM-based processors running at 67MHz and 33MHz, respectively. It will contain 128MB of RAM. The two displays - the lower of which is touch-sensitive - operate at 256 x 192, a little better than the GBA's 240 x 160 panel. The DS will possess decent 2D capabilities, but it also has a 3D graphics system which, the spec. claims, is capable of drawing 120,000 polygons per second, representing a fill-rate of 30 million pixels per second. The unit will support wireless Internet access and multi-player gaming across an 802.11b WLAN. ® Related stories Nintendo DS: more communicator than console? Nintendo plots next-gen console 'Revolution' Sony to expose PSP insides at September show Sony shows wireless PlayStation Portable
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Verizon 3G bets on Vegas

US mobile telco Verizon Wireless is switching on its 3G network in Las Vegas. It will offer subscribers download speeds of up to 500 kilobits per second for a flat monthly subscription of $79.99. Using an Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) network, subscribers can have full access to corporate networks via VZAccess Manager. Verizon claims the service is up to ten times faster than using "a competitor's GPRS network". It is targeted at businesses of all sizes. Verizon Wireless already offers BroadbandAccess in San Diego and Washington. The firm is spending $1bn on the rollout over the next two years. Tami Erwin, regional president for Verizon Wireless, said: "Today's successful professional is a mobile professional, and BroadbandAccess provides the means for Las Vegas professionals to stay connected anywhere in the citywith a true mobile office experience." Verizon says the service is backwards compatible, unlike CDMA networks. Customers moving out of range of the EV-DO network will switch back to Verizon's NationalAccess network based on 1xRTT technology. ® Related stories Verizon dangles cheap VoIP for US land grab Verizon launches VoiceWing Net phones Verizon, Vodafone stake out in the US
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

Carphone Warehouse has a good quarter

Carphone Warehouse had a good first quarter, boosted by improved subscriptions and new handsets and camera phones. For the 13 weeks ended 27 June, Carphone Warehouse saw total subscriptions grow 21.9 per cent to 1.22m. The group turned over £489.5m, up from £382m for same time last year. Contract connections grew by 25.6 per cent and pre-pay sales grew 18.5 per cent. Retail revenues were up 23.2 per cent to £221.5m. Fixed line revenues grew 71.9 per cent to £94.1m. Excluding the impact of acquisitions N Tel and Xtra, revenue grew by 47.7 per cent. TalkTalk had 511,000 customers at the end of the period. Carphone Warehouse intends to launch broadband services later this year and "will offer line rental when a "fit for purpose" wholesale solution is available". Charles Dunstone, chief executive at Carphone Warehouse, said: "The year has started very well. The retail business has continued the momentum of last year and the benefits of sustained subscription connections growth are feeding through strongly into our other business streams. TalkTalk is increasing its market share in a competitive environment and Opal’s margins are ahead of our expectations, thanks to a significant improvement in the revenue mix." The firm opened 65 new stores in the period bringing its total to 1,279. Its next trading update will be released 6 October. The full update is here. ® Related stories BT rivals demand Ofcom action Carphone Warehouse cashes in on 3G Carphone Warehouse goes Swiss
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

Tissot preps pricey Microsoft data watch

Picture ExclusivePicture Exclusive Swiss watchmaker Tissot is to offer a timepiece capable of receiving information from Microsoft's MSN Direct service. The High-T is the sixth watch to support MSN Direct, which broadcasts personalised weather reports, news, sports results, stock prices, horoscopes and so forth on the FM band. The service costs $9.95 a month and is only available in North America, but it's not likely to appear elsewhere before the end of the year, if at all. To date, MSN Direct has been supported by two manufacturers: Fossil and Finland's Suunto. Their products are cheap in comparison to the Tissot, which will retail for $725. Suunto's N3 costs around $300 while Fossil's range from $180 to $200. Microsoft launched its Smart Personal Object Technology (Spot) in January 2003, promising watches and a service based upon it (MSN Direct) in November of that year. Come November, and the company was forced to admit that it had delayed the launch until January 2004. In January this year, as it was about to ship its Spot watch, Fossil finally canned its ill-fated and oft-delayed Palm OS-based wristwatch. Spot-compatible watches have been shipping since then, though Microsoft lost one early partner, Citizen, on the way. Officially, Citizen is evaluating demand, the company said in November 2003. For its part, Microsoft claims "thousands" of watches have been sold since January. It's planning a big promotional campaign for this coming Christmas. ®   Related stories Microsoft watch requires three-fingered reboot Fossil revamps MS Spot watch line Microsoft Spot watches delayed Fossil buries ill-fated Palm OS wristwatch Fossil puts back Palm Wrist PDA launch to 2004
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Veritas beats revised targets

Storage specialist Veritas Software turned in a profit of $86m for the second quarter ended 30 June 2004, up from $46m for the same period last year. Turnover was $485m, up from $408m last year. Earnings per share were 21 cents, beating analysts expectations of 19 cents. In early July, Veritas warned profits would disappoint earlier estimates, blaming a sudden "drop-off in US enterprise spending". Gary Bloom, chairman, president and CEO of Veritas, said: "While total revenue was up 19 per cent year-over-year, the June quarter was challenging in our US enterprise business, particularly for license transactions at the end of the quarter." License revenue was up seven per cent and service revenue was up 38 per cent year-on-year. EMEA and Asia Pacific regions grew 44 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively. Veritas finished the quarter with $2.75bn in cash and short-term investments. It expects revenue for the September quarter to be in the range of $485m to $505m and diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $0.19 to $0.21 on a GAAP basis. It is holding firm on full year forecast of $2bn revenues. The Veritas board has approved a $500m stock-buy-back programme over the next 18 months. The press release is here. ® Related stories Veritas secures Invio for $35m Veritas lowers Q2 forecast. Investors lower Veritas Veritas cleans up financials
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

PalmOne extends world PDA lead

PalmOne may be faring less well than HP in the Western European PDA growth market, but around the world it's well ahead of its rival, the worldwide Q2 figures from market watcher IDC show. Global mobile device shipments were up sequentially during Q2, by 3.2 per cent, but down 2.2 per cent on the year-ago quarter. That marks a slight improvement over Q1, which saw shipments fall sequentially and year-on-year by 33.1 per cent and 11.7 per cent, respectively. In total, just over 2.20m units shipped worldwide during Q2. IDC's preliminary figure for Q1 came to just under 2.25m, so it obviously revised down its Q1 total to 2.14m to get that 3.2 per cent growth. IDC may yet revise its Q2 total too. PalmOne saw shipment rise by only 0.6 per cent year on year, but double-digit sequential growth - it released its Zire 72 and Zire 31 consumer PDAs during the quarter, and may already be winning users who would have turned to Sony had not the Japanese giant said it will pull out of the US and European PDA markets - saw it extend its market share. HP, by contrast, lost share on the back of an 8.2 per cent drop in shipments between Q2 and Q1 2004. However, it increased shipments 39.2 per cent over Q2 2003, and this week's six-device launch should set the vendor up well for Q3 and Q4. The star of the show, however, is Medion, which grew its market share on the back of moves to broaden sales of PocketPC-GPS bundles out of its native Germany and into the UK and the Netherlands. Selling product almost exclusively in Europe, Medion was still able to stand alongside PDA vendors addressing global markets. Sony's shipments fell significantly sequentially and year on year by 14.6 per cent and 33.2 per cent respectively. Dell's shipments were up 4.6 per cent on Q2 2003 but 7.8 per cent down on Q1 2004. ® Q2 Worldwide PDA Shipments Rank Vendor Q2 Shipments Q2 Market Share Q1 Market Share 1 PalmOne 924,364 42% 36.1% 2 HP 530,239 24.1% 25.7% 3 Sony 171,513 7.8% 9.3% 4 Dell 145,071 6.6% 7% 5 Medion 90,325 4.1% N/A   Others 341,461 15.5% 19.7%   Total 2,202,973     Related stories Europe: we will buy your PDAs HP extends PDA lead World PDA shipments plunge PalmOne, HP slog it out over Euro sales PDA, smartphone sales rocket in Europe HP rolls out Wi-Fi PDA phone PalmOne posts Q4 profit Toshiba bows out of PocketPC arena? Sony, PalmOne and the death of the PDA?
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Updata goes a bundle on UK local loop unbundling

A Danish broadband operator reckons it will have unbundled around 100 telephone exchanges in the UK by the end of the year as it targets local authorities with high-speed Internet services. In particular, privately-funded Updata is targeting local authorities in rural areas in response to the Government's plans to aggregate public sector demand for broadband and roll it out to areas not currently served by existing broadband networks. Updata has already unbundled the local loop (LLU) in other European countries, including Denmark. This is the process by which telecoms operators access the incumbent telco's network so they can provide services direct to homes and businesses. In September 2003, it unbundled its first exchanges in Dorset and as of today, it has installed its kit in eight BT telephone exchanges providing SDSL services to council offices and other public sector premises. Thanks to deals with local authorities in Bedfordshire, Dorset, North Somerset and Pembrokeshire, Updata plans to have 100 exchanges unbundled by the end of the year, providing services over as many as 3,000 telephone lines. Said Updata director Vic Baldorino: "There is no mystery surrounding LLU or its pricing. We can quote an affordable cost per exchange and per line on symmetrical services from 1-100MB. LLU allows new assets to be built and we're keen to unbundle in areas of the UK that other providers will be reticent to touch." Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, is throwing its weight behind LLU as a way of providing greater wholesale competition for broadband operators. In response to pressure from Ofcom, BT has already cut LLU costs and has signalled its intention to co-operate with rivals keen to open it network. Ofcom is currently reviewing LLU in the UK. This month it appointed Peter Black - who previously worked at BT, Thus and NTL - as an independent Telecoms Adjudicator to sort out disputes over access to exchanges. BT has accepted the authority of the adjudicator and will accept his decisions. Twelve other companies, including AOL, Bulldog, Cable & Wireless, Thus and Wanadoo, have also signed up. ® Related stories Ofcom appoints Last Mile adjudicator C&W buys Bulldog BT's olive branch to Ofcom Video Networks to speed up LLU roll-out Industry warms to BT's LLU price cuts Ofcom hails BT wholesale price cuts BT to slash LLU costs
Tim Richardson, 28 Jul 2004

DDoSers attack DoubleClick

Internet ads firm DoubleClick was the victim of a distributed denial of service attack yesterday. A flood of malicious traffic from a network of zombie machines reduced DoubleClick's ability to serve ads over the Web, affecting many of its high-profile customers. Services have now been restored to normal. But at the height of the assault yesterday afternoon (UK time) the availability of Web pages featuring ads served by DoubleClick was severely reduced. Website hit particularly hard included Nortel Networks, Gateway, CNN.com and Schwab.com and The Washington Post. Admins had to stop DoubleClick's ads from running on their sites in order to make the rest of their content accessible. DoubleClick's own website was also hit by the assault. DoubleClick spokeswoman Jennifer Blum said the attack targeted the firm's domain name servers (DNS) causing "severe service disruptions" for all 900 customers, the The Washington Post reports. The attack ran from approximately 10:30 EDT to 14:00 EDT. The Washington Post compares the assault on DoubleClick to a recent brownout of sites served by content distribution firm Akamai. Akamai blamed a software glitch for problems that rendered a variety of high-profile websites and services temporarily unavailable for approximately 90 minutes on 24 May. A better comparison for the attack against DoubleClick might be a DDoS assault against Internet payments firm WorldPay last November. Many such attacks originate from a network of hosts compromised by viruses such as MyDoom and Phatbot. These turn infected machines into zombie drones under the control of virus writers or their accomplices. Owners of these zombie PCs are often ignorant of the involvement of their computers in attacks, which are growing more sophisticated. A simple DDoS attack is relatively straightforward to block, but some tools allow hackers to launch 'mutating attacks' against targeted systems. By running through a spectrum of attacks it's possible to keep a site locked down for hours, or even days. ® Related stories Search drives US online ad sales WorldPay fights 'massive, orchestrated' attack WorldPay recovers from massive attack Akamai software glitch provokes Web brownouts Cybercops seize Russian extortion masterminds (suspects in DDoS attacks against online bookies) Bagle copycat builds Zombie attack network Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs Microsoft attack worm rides on the back of MyDoom
John Leyden, 28 Jul 2004

64-bit Windows delayed

Microsoft is delaying the launch of 64-bit Windows again. Originally due for earlier this year the software will not now be ready until the first half of 2005. A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed to IDG that Windows Server 2003 for 64-bit Extended Systems and Windows XP 64-bit Edition will not be available until some time in the first half of next year. Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003 has also been delayed til next year. AMD and Intel already sell 64-bit chips which crunch more data per second and have better access to memory. Applications written for 32-bit machines will still work on the new chips. On the server side, the delay could benefit rival operating systems like Linux or Sun's Solaris, which already runs on the new chips. But Microsoft's power on the desktop could see people delaying replacing their machines until Microsoft software is available to run on them. ® Related stories AMD ships Sempron Sun targets HP-UX and Windows with software subs Intel: common Xeon, Itanic chipset by 2007 Sun staff give birth to 64-bit Solaris on Opteron
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

Pop-up goes the commission

Some of you may remember N-Case. The Active X program, which automatically installed itself onto desktops through online ads and bombarded users with unrequested pop-up ads, stirred many complaints. Apparently, N-Case is no more. US company 180Solutions, which describes itself as "one of the furthest reaching contextual search marketing companies worldwide", has replaced it with Zango, a more moderate "user-friendly" permission-based search assistant application that provides access to a wide range of websites, applications and information. But Zango may have a few problems on its own, according to extensive research by Harvard law student Benjamin Edelman. He says the company violated the policies of two affiliate marketing networks by soliciting commissions from merchant members, and redirecting to itself commissions that should have gone to other affiliates. The company, Edelman says, was able to do this by deploying double and hidden pop-ups. This led merchants' tracking systems to conclude that users reached merchants' sites, thanks to 180's efforts, even when users actually reached merchants on their own, or through other affiliates. 180Solutions denies all charges. "We do not siphon, poach or seize affiliate marketing commissions," the company says in a statement. In the fascinating world of affiliate marketing (a $200 million-a-year business) websites or merchants often pay commissions to independent third-party publishers (affiliates) who recommend and link to merchants' products. This is where the use of adware such as Zango becomes essential, because it opens advertisements that fit your preferences. When you purchase merchandise from the advertised website, the affiliate receives payment from the merchant. According to Edelman, affiliates are losing money to 180solutions that they are entitled to. Also, some merchants are also paying commissions for sales that aren't the result of affiliate traffic, he says. Edelman's research suggests that 180Solutions interferes with the referral of customers to websites by automatically overwriting tracking cookies. Unlike ordinary "adware" popup ads served by companies such as Claria and WhenU, Edelman says, 180solutions ads cover competitors' sites with a 180Solutions tag. Sometimes the company also uses "hidden pop-ups", which tag the invisible site with one of 180solutions' advertisers. 180Solutions categorically denies allegations of illegal business practices. It says it does not incur any revenue from its deployment of double and hidden pop-ups. Instead, these pop-ups or i-frames are used to protect clients from other competitive online advertisers. 180Solutions conducts its business through two affiliate marketing networks, Commission Junction and LinkShare, which manage thousands of commerce hyperlinks and the commission payments they generate. Although LinkShare's policies clearly state that "hidden windows are not a permissible way to set tracking codes and earn commissions", the company hasn't cut 180solutions out of its network yet. The biggest affiliate network, Shareasale, however, did remove 180Solutions from its network and has taken steps to stop 180 advertisers from receiving Sharesale commissions. "What we did see was a software application that generated as many click thrus as it could," CEO Brian Littletold told The Register. "With this type of approach you would expect to see conversion rates that are extremely low, not worthwile for a merchant anyway." Littletold says that earlier this year his company ran into a problem where affiliates were being approached by 180Solutions to place ads in their software. "We saw this basically as a way for 180Solutions to get around the fact that we didn't want them in our network. Although we still receive several applications per week from them, each is declined." Meanwhile, 180Solutions says it has retained one of the top US independent audit firms to review its affiliate marketing practices and verify its contractual compliance with affiliate marketing networks. Whatever the outcome, it seems the online affiliate business is in desperate need of standards and regulations. ®
Jan Libbenga, 28 Jul 2004
Broken CD with wrench

NASA splashes out on shiny supercomputer

NASA has asked Silicon Graphics (SGI) and Intel to build a Linux-based supercomputer to support its research into space exploration, climate change and aerospace engineering. The new supercomputer, the Space Exploration Simulator, will increase NASA's computing power by factor of ten. The machine will be powered by a total of 10,240 Itanium 2 processors, 20 512-processor SGI Altix systems, and a 500-terabyte (and perhaps misleadingly named) SGI InfiniteStorage "storage solution", making it one of the largest Linux-OS based machines in the world, according to SGI. It is also indicative of a trend away from bespoke supercomputers to a more off-the-shelf approach. Recently, IBM, known worldwide for its proprietory DeepBlue supercomputers, has also experimented with a more standardised approach with its BlueGene prototype - a supercomputer built from readily available components. Intel CEO Craig Barrett says that exploring the universe is one of Man's greatest remaining challenges. "The 'Project Columbia' supercomputer...will enable the world's brightest designers and scientists to look a little deeper and reach a little farther in their understanding of, and achievements in, space," he said. In addition to research into exploration of space, the supercomputer will crunch numbers for shuttlecraft designers and those investigating the human impact on weather patterns. NASA will also make some time on the machine available to other researchers, in response to a recommendation from the Office of Science and Technology Policy. ® Related stories US Navy buys IBM supercomputer NEC declares Teraflopian war Met Office bags shiny new supercomputer IBM overtakes HP in top of the teraflops
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Jul 2004

Avon pasted for mobile phone promo

Cosmetics firm Avon is in need of an image makeover after failing to honour a free mobile phone offer for punters. The company had promised a free Siemens or Samsung Pay as You Go (PAYG) mobile phone that could be used on the Orange network if punters bought more than £15 worth of skin-care products. Unfortunately, Avon failed to predict just how popular the offer would be, claiming that demand "greatly exceeded their estimate". And even though the smallprint said that the offer was "subject to availability", the advertising watchdog agreed with aggrieved consumers that the promo wasn't up to scratch. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) fingered Avon because it continued to plug the offer, even though it knew it would be unable to meet demand. The ASA told Avon to take "immediate and unambiguous action to minimise disappointment in the event that demand for future promotional items exceeded supply"...and to "take more care when administering future promotions". Avon wasn't the only company gnawed by the watchdog today. BT - the UK's dominant fixed line telco - got a kicking for claiming that one of its phone packages offered "all UK calls" for a fixed monthly fee. The ASA rejected this because, as it was pointed out, some call types (such as dial-up Net access and non-geographic numbers) aren't covered in the price plan. Still, in the tit-for-tat world of UK telecoms, BT managed to score a win against One.Tel, after complaining to the ASA that the discount telco's ad for its international call plan was neither "clear" nor "fair". ® Related stories Sloppy businesses fingered by phone recording service BT coughs to broadband ad blunder Wanadoo rapped for 'misleading' search results AOL UK ticked off for 'exaggerated' ad claim
Tim Richardson, 28 Jul 2004

Motorola delays MPx220 MS smart phone

Motorola has formally announced its upcoming Microsoft Windows Mobile-based smart phone, the MPx220, almost a month after a preliminary press release briefly appeared on the company's web site. The MPx220's hardware specifications remain the same, but its introduction has also been put back, from Q3 to Q4, a new press release reveals. As previously reported, the handset features a 176 x 220 270,000-colour display and an integrated 1.23 megapixel digicam with a 3x digital zoom and flash. The original release said 1.3Mp, but we were told soon afterwards by Motorola staffers that it should have read '1.2Mp'. The handset supports Bluetooth, and includes 64MB of Flash ROM, but there's no indication of how much RAM is on board. However, there's a Mini SD card slot capable of taking a 512MB memory card. The unit weighs 113g and measures 8.9 x 4.8 x 2.7cm. Its design is broadly similar to that of the 200, but the screen hinge is mounted further down the keypad half of the clamshell device. The 220 will be offered in silver and black colour schemes. The MPx220 will offer quad-band support - 850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz - GSM and GPRS connectivity. The smart phone's existence wasfirst revealed last December when it emerged that Chinese manufacturer Chi Mei had been contracted to manufacture a bigger Motorola smart phone line-up. ® Related stories Motorola smart phone to offer 1.3Mp cam, Bluetooth Motorola touts 'razor thin' metal mobile Apple licenses iTunes to Motorola Chip biz IPO pushes Motorola into the red Motorola widens Microsoft smartphone line Mio launches MS smartphone in UK
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Nvidia confirms Socket 939 Semprons on way

Nvidia has revealed that AMD plans to release Socket 939 Sempron processors. AMD formally launched its Sempron budget processor line earlier today, listing desktop and mobile, and Socket A and Socket 754 CPUs among the line-up. Nvidia dutifully announced to the world that "current and future" nForce chipsets will support the new processors. "Nvidia has nForce MCPs [media and communications processors] for all flavours of the AMD Sempron processor family," the company gushes. That includes "nForce 2 IGP for 462-pin/AGP, nForce 3 250 for 754-pin/AGP and next-generation nForce MCPs for 939-pin/PCI Express". In other words, the Socket 939 PCI Express nForce will support Sempron - ergo Sempron will go Socket 939. Nvidia adds: "Next-generation PCI Express [MCPs] are scheduled to be available later this year in time for AMD Sempron market availability." That may well be the Sempron 3000+, which wasn't mentioned in AMD's announcement today, but turns up in the chip maker's online FAQ. It will ship in Q4, the AMD web site reveals. It's likely then that the PCI Express nForce part(s) will ship in Q4, too. No doubt all this arises from AMD's decision to pull forward the Sempron unveiling from 17 August (we hear) to today, ahead of the arrival of 64-bit Xeon DPs (aka 'Nocona') and workstation-oriented Pentium 4s from Intel on Monday. ® Related stories AMD ships Sempron Semprons to match Athlon XP performance... AMD loses Euro mobile market share to Celeron AMD to ship mobile Athlons, Semprons in Q3 AMD readies low-cost Sempron CPUs
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

IBM signs up CNT's mega-director

IBM has signed up CNT's UltraNet Multiservice Director (UMD) as the new high end of its TotalStorage SAN range. "If you need a high port count, go with CNT," says Scott Drummond, IBM's storage networking programme director. "UMD is the first choice for an ultra-scaleable Fibre Channel and FICON director over local, metro and global distances." The UMD design is modular with 5Tbps of system throughput, which allows it to support up to 512 non-blocking 4Gbps Fibre ports. The first models go up to 256 ports, and CNT will also have an entry level box with just 32 ports. CNT's Euro marketing director Robin Pilcher says more ports per box means a simpler SAN, as less are needed for inter-switch links. "It's a new family with a 4:1 footprint reduction, which we're very happy about, and it has slicker partitioning into logical SANs than the previous generation," says Drummond. He adds that, by comparison, "Cisco's largest is 224, and in reality it's more like 192. But Cisco is the way to go if you want to marry Ethernet and Fibre Channel." UMD's modular design will enable CNT to put its FCIP wide area SAN technology into a blade alongside the linecards. Drummond says that CNT is IBM's major supplier for Fibre Channel extension technology, alongside some 17 other vendors. Although the CNT box has more ports than Brocade's SilkWorm 24000, the Cisco MDS 9000 or McData's Intrepid 6140, all of which IBM also resells, Drummond says there is rarely sales conflict between the four product lines. "We have had good luck with all four - customers pretty much self-select," he explains. "We don't have many director customers who don't already have other equipment, and interoperability is still a dodgy proposition fabric-wide. CNT and Brocade have done some work, but interoperability mode deletes some of the higher level functionality." This week also saw IBM announce an enhanced SAN Volume Controller blade for the MDS 9000. Jointly developed with Cisco, this embeds storage virtualisation software within the director, with the new version adding support for both iSCSI and non-IBM storage arrays. And it announced that McData's Eclipse 1620 SAN router has successfully completed TotalStorage interoperability testing. This is the device that McData bought with its acquisition of Nishan Systems, and which can interconnect SANs over IP networks via iSCSI or iFCP. ® Related stories IBM ups rates on server financing deals Adaptec grabs RAID technology from IBM ONStor's virtual NAS for SAN convergence IBM gives SAN File System a second try EMC goes low with new NAS head
Bryan Betts, 28 Jul 2004

Green card scam couple jailed

A Florida husband and wife team who made millions from victims through a long-running Green card visa lottery scam have been sent to prison and ordered to pay massive fines. John Romano, 30, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was sent to jail for 37 months by US District Judge James Cohn last Friday after pleading guilty to mail fraud offences in connection with the scam. Romano's wife, Hoda M. Nofal, 29, began a six-month sentence in April after pleading guilty to obstruction of mail offences related to the same racket. According to court records, the couple ran eight websites which misled consumers into believing they were affiliated with the US governmen. The sites offered help in applying to the annual green card lottery for a fee of $250 a throw. The sites - which unsurprisingly had nothing to do with the government - were charging a tidy sum for a service the US State Department provides for free. The lottery is designed to encourage individuals from countries with low immigration rates to move to the US. The State Department approves 50,000 lottery applications a year under the scheme. Such is the appeal of green cards (US permanent resident visa) that the duplicitous duo were able to enjoy a lavish lifestyle on the back on money they fleeced from victims, many of who came from their own Hispanic community. The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports that Romano and Nofal "deposited about $3.5 m into the bank during the year before their October 2003 arrests, paid off $739,000 in credit card debt and bought a $1.5 million waterfront mansion in Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Isles". That's all history now. Romano and Nofal's Global Web Solutions (alias "USA Immigration Services") business has been shut down. In order to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the couple have agree to pay $2.2m in restitution to victims. The couple have sold their mansion, a 2004 Jaguar sports car, Rolex watches and hawked their jewellery to pay the fine, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reports. They also agree to put up a $5m "good behaviour" bond before they set up any business marketing "government-issued travel or residency documents". The case against the pair is part of a wider FTC crackdown on fraud targeting Spanish-speaking consumers. ® Related stories Senate backs visa waiver extension MS wins $4m from spammer scammmer UK website flogs forged degree certificates US agencies arrest 125 in Operation Cyber Sweep
John Leyden, 28 Jul 2004

Does Sempron herald end of Athlon XP?

What does today's Sempron launch mean for AMD's original 32-bit processor, the Athlon XP, and its mobile sibling, the Athlon XP-M? According to AMD, it will continue to sell both types of XP into 2005, but it admits that the chips' future is under continual evaluation. The prognosis is not good. AMD roadmaps now show both XP and XP-M out into the second half of 2005, but with the dreaded words 'As market requires' appended. That's how the Duron family ended up, and while it is still possible to buy them, they've essentially been relegated to emerging markets. It seems likely the XP and XP-M will go the same way. Interestingly, AMD's roadmap now list once upcoming XP and XP-M chips as future Sempron parts. 'Georgetown' is now the 90nm successor to today's 130nm Mobile Semprons for desktop replacement laptops. Similarly, 'Sonora' is the 90nm low-power Mobile Sempron. 'Palermo', once the 90nm successor to today's 130nm Athlon XP and its immediate follow-on, the 130nm 'Paris', is now the future of Sempron desktops. Paris, due H2 2004, is almost certainly the foundation of the Socket 754 Semprons. Not that the loss of Athlon XP is any great surprise. Having been pushed downmarket by Athlon 64, it might have had a place as a low-end alternative to Intel's Celeron. But having once been positioned as a high-end chip, it's hard to re-cast it in such a lowly role. Better to use it as the foundation of a new CPU brand that customers will always think of as budget processor line, not one that has seen better days. And that's essentially what AMD has done with Sempron. ® Related stories Nvidia confirms Socket 939 Semprons on way AMD ships Sempron Semprons to match Athlon XP performance... AMD readies low-cost Sempron CPUs AMD knocks up to 30% off Athlon 64 prices AMD loses Euro mobile market share to Celeron Intel to tackle Sempron with 'Celeron price cuts'
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

Nokia and co 'to ship 625m handsets' this year

Mobile phone makers will ship 625m handsets this year, 20 per cent more than they did in 2003, market watcher iSuppli has said after upping its quarterly shipments forecast. The researcher calculates that some 155m handsets shipped in Q2, up just 1.6 per cent on Q1 2004, but a big 35.4 per cent on Q2 2003, which say phone shipments total 114.5m units. The sequential growth may be been slim, but the "robust" level of shipments has led iSuppli to revise its figures for Q3 and Q4 upwards to 156m and 161.5m units, respectively. Those numbers represent sequential growth of 0.7 per cent and 3.5 per cent, respectively. Around 73 per cent of the 625m handsets that will ship this year will be sold as upgrades to buyers' current phones. That proportion will rise to 90 per cent by 2008, the researcher said. Cameras and colour displays are leading the demand - 20 per cent of handsets now shipping come feature a built-in camera - but 3G connections are helping too, with shipments rising in Q2 and Qualcomm's WCDMA royalty revenues up during Q2, too. iSuppli said it reckons WCDMA handset shipments will be up 300 per cent this year over 2003. Alas, it didn't say what proportion of those 625m handsets they will account for. Nokia commanded 29.3 per cent of the mobile phone market in Q2, iSuppli said, after shipping 45.4m handsets. Motorola was second (15.3 per cent), closely followed by Samsung (14.6 per cent). ® Related stories PalmOne extends world PDA lead Europe: we will buy your PDAs HP extends PDA lead Global mobile phone sales soar Chip biz IPO pushes Motorola into the red Nokia warning send shares falling Sony Ericsson carries on making money PDA, smartphone sales rocket in Europe
Tony Smith, 28 Jul 2004

BEA eases Java development

BEA is aiming to make it easier to develop Java service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications by releasing code for Apache Beehive. Apache Beehive code is now available here. The company also announced at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention that XMLBeans, to simplify Java and XML development, has been accepted as an official Apache Software Foundation project. Cornelius Willis, VP of developer marketing at BEA, said: "Apache Beehive and XML Beans are the most recent efforts by BEA to help simplify some of the more complex tasks associated with J2EE and SOA development." Greg Stein, chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, also welcomed the announcement: "BEA has contributed greatly to the strength of our Apache Beehive and Apache XMLBeans communities, which can help to foster future innovations and increased collaboration among our projects. "Apache Beehive has the potential to make Java enterprise application development easier while giving developers state-of-the-art innovations they can use with any platform." The press release is here ® Related stories Beehive pollinates Eclipse Software giants feel open source pressure Open and closed source software defects reloaded
John Oates, 28 Jul 2004

What's the point of NHS IT? No one knows

UK Government spending on IT is under the microscope, with a new report from the Institute of Public Policy Research highlighting significant failings in the multi-billion pound NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Drawing on an analysis of ICT (information and communications technology) pilot projects, the think tank warns that the programme could be undermined by a failure to consult properly with medical professionals, a dearth of IT skills within the healthcare service and poor understanding of exactly what the health benefits are supposed to be. The report, which comes just days after an all-party committee of MPs slammed IT spend as 'an appalling waste of money', says inadequate project evaluation means that it is impossible to tell if ICT projects are delivering benefits. Trials of electronic records, for example, have given no insight into whether the system would be more flexible than the current system, improve the quality of treatment, or save money. Jamie Bend, ippr Research Fellow and author of the report, argues that ICT has the potential to bring real benefits to the NHS, but that these have yet to be demonstrated in practice. "Unless it's proven that things like electronic health records work," he says, "it will remain difficult to justify to doctors, nurses and patients existing and additional spending on ICT." He points out that problems with evaluation are recurring, and that this contributes to the impression that ICT projects have failed. This does not mean we should abandon IT projects wholesale. Instead, we should focus on demonstrating that technology can be used effectively, he says. In response The NPfIT stated that a new framework for assessing projects was in development, silicon.com reports. The(pdf) ippr report is here. ® Related stories IT revolution threatened for US health service NHS squares EDS over nixed email deal Patients, GPs to have a say on care record plans How safe is your medical record?
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Jul 2004

Cray's Q2 revenue gigaflops

Supercomputer specialist Cray is looking far from super after posting a massive drop in second quarter revenue earlier this week that has since sent its shares tumbling. Cray generated $27m in the second quarter, which doesn't match up terribly well with the $62m reported in the same period last year. Cray's lackluster revenue led to a net loss of $55m in this year's Q2, which compares to a net gain of $8m last year. The poor results prompted a 40 per cent drop on Cray's shares, sending it to its lowest mark in nearly two years. "While we expected the second quarter to be weak, the weakness was compounded by a contract delay for a major order and a continued general slow-down in the defense segment," said Jim Rottsolk, CEO of Cray. Cray managed only $9.5m in product revenue during the quarter with the vast majority of that coming from its Cascade and Red Storm projects. The Cray X1 - "the company's only current product" - led to negligible sales. Services carried the company in the quarter on $12.2m in revenue and higher margins. As a result of its performance, Cray is now looking to cut costs by 20 per cent and will trim 15 per cent of its staff or 150 workers. This should get it to a point where quarterly costs come in between $17m and $18m. Cray expects its full year 2004 revenue to be under $200m, but hopes new products will get it to $300m in 2005. The brightest news for Cray is an increased order backlog. It currently has a backlog of $126m, which is $51m higher than expected. "In addition to this increase in backlog, we announced major wins that will be booked in future periods," Rottsolk said. "Basically management has suffered from a perfect storm so far this year," Alan Robinson, an analyst at Delafield Hambrecht told CBS MarketWatch. "It had a slowdown in its key defense client's spending and a delay in the rollout of two new products expected to launch in the middle of this year. That combination caused not only actual results to come in below expectations, but expectations for the rest of the year to fall below Wall Street's forecasts." There has been some minor speculation that Sun Microsystems could acquire Cray in a bid to boost Sun's high performance computing prowess and Opteron processor-based server line. Cray's shares are trading down almost 5 percent today at $2.90. This is a massive drop from its 52-week high of $13.99. ® Related stories Met Office bags shiny new supercomputer IBM overtakes HP in top of the teraflops Windows HPC edition in the works Cray to buy AMD cluster maker Cray to set Strider and Black Widow loose on server world Cray preps new Opteron-based product line
Ashlee Vance, 28 Jul 2004

Server crash blitzes Florida's e-voting records

As the 2004 US Presidential Election race gets under way, Florida is again at the centre of a vote counting controversy. The department for elections has admitted that server crashes have wiped out the voter records from the Miami-Dade county elections in 2002. Although no one in the department knows what caused the crash, officials claim that the problem has been remedied, according to The Miami Herald. A nifty bit of tech support, to be sure. The data losses were uncovered by the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, campaigners who say that the crashes show how flaky the electronic voting system can be. "We will never know how good or bad the audit capability because the data is gone," Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, an attorney and chairwoman of the coalition told The Herald. "What this shows from a big-picture perspective is that no one knows what's going on." Florida is seeking to restore credibility to its electoral systems after the Hanging Chad fiasco of 2000, but this news is not likely to inspire voter confidence. The state has also been widely criticised for suspending voter rights of convicted felons, a prohibition that continues after the completion of any sentence. It is one of six states that maintains this practice. The coalition argues that because there is no paper trail to follow in the event of a recount, the electronic voting machines - supplied by Election Systems & Software - are unsafe. The server crashed in both May and November 2003, ditching nearly all the electronic data from the municipal elections the year before. The touchscreen voting system involves keeping voting records on flash cards for 10 days after an election. However, when the servers crashed in November (not long after a local election), it is not clear that a recount would have been possible if it had been called for. The law requires that the data on the flash cards be kept. The idea is that with two storage streams for voter data, if one is potentially compromised, there is another data trail against which it can be checked and verified. However, a bug in the code meant that this data was scrambled, according to an earlier audit. Election Systems & Software says that this problem has been fixed. Seth Kaplan, a spokesman for the election department, said the data is now immune to computer failure as it is backed up to tape. Let's hope the tapes are stored away from flammable liquids. ® Related stories E-voting terminals: gambling with data? We want our e-voting paper trail E-voting security: getting it right E-voting security: looking good on paper? Dutch e-voting software goes open source
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Jul 2004

Segway owners beat each other with homemade mallets

The only thing worse than paying $4,000 for a scooter has to be using said scooter for a game of polo. Yes, friends, it has come to that. A small band of Bay Area Segway owners have set a new low for the device - an almost impossible feat when you consider that "IT" was meant to have revolutionized cities by now but has actually ended up being little more than a poor selling toy. About ten of the Segway grunts recently gathered for a disturbing go at scooter polo. The Segway owners created homemade mallets out of PVC pipe, foam and duct tape. The mallet building instructions are here [PDF], although Segway LLC has surely started production on a more refined version of this essential accessory. A video of the polo battle shows a collection of fairly uncoordinated bloggers on wheels, running into each other and falling down. Did you expect any less? "We had a great time playing polo on the Segway," says on member of the Bay Area Segway Enthusiasts Group. "Not a huge turnout but the game was fun and pretty competitive. It's also harder than it looks. Who says that riding the Segway isn't exercise?" That's the spirit! Inspired by the Segway enthusiasts' passion for exercise, your reporter left the office this morning with a six-pack in hand, hailed a cab, drank the six-pack, returned to The Vulture Compound and then waved his arms wildly while riding the elevator back up to the office. This feat did not cost $4,000, and it left us with a shred of dignity. We're still waiting for Chicago officials to begin redesigning the "second city" to accommodate the myriad Segways here. It may, however, take a few thousand more arse-feeds, BPEL services and reality altering blogs to pull off this lifestyle revolution. ® Related stories Segway of the sea starts shipping Down Under Segways banned from happiest place on Earth Could Segways replace soldiers as hired killers? Toddler wounded in Segway hit-and-run Battery and assault, Segway style Segway riders get high on Mount Washington Bloggers on wheels Police grab Wang in covert Segway opp Bush okay after Segway attack First Segway owners are rich, bright, but not fat San Francisco bans Segways on sidewalks, bike paths
Ashlee Vance, 28 Jul 2004

Bush's search for clean Cuban hookers goes awry

Cuban prostitutes have received an unwelcome compliment from President Bush courtesy of an Internet search gone wrong. Earlier this month, Bush launched an attack against Fidel Castro and his alleged promotion of sex tourism in Cuba. Our fearless leader dug way back to a 1992 speech given by Castro to prove his case. "The dictator welcomes sex tourism," Bush told a room of law enforcement officials in Florida, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Here's how he bragged about the industry," Bush said. "This is his quote: 'Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.'" As it turns out, Bush had lifted that quotation not from an actual Castro speech but rather from a 2001 essay written by then Dartmouth University undergraduate Charles Trumbull. In the essay, Trumbull did appear to quote a Castro speech about prostitution. Sadly, the student made the quotation up. According to officials, the actual quotation from Castro's 1992 speech reads as follows: "There are hookers, but prostitution is not allowed in our country. There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist. Those who do so do it on their own, voluntarily…. We can say that they are highly educated hookers and quite healthy, because we are the country with the lowest number of AIDS cases." Castro admitted that prostitution does exist in Cuba, as it does here, but tried to defuse the matter by pointing to the country's high health and education standards. This is hardly "welcoming sex tourism" as Bush claims. And this isn't the first time the Internet has baffled Bush. Back in 2003, the President cited another student's thesis when making a case to go to war. The student's work ended up in a government document describing Iraq's weapons capability. Not exactly the kind of hard intelligence needed to justify an attack on another country. But just as the Bush administration did with the Iraq evidence, it is not backing down about being wrong on the Castro issue. "The president's point in citing Castro's quote was to highlight Castro's morally corrupt attitude to human trafficking," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told the LA Times. How funny then that the quotation ended up pointing out how inept the Bush administration is at research. Surely, the White House is committed to improving its information gathering practices in the future? Well, no. Bush's speech "was vetted the same way all the president's speeches are vetted," Buchan told the paper. The Dartmouth student, now studying law, went on the offensive about Bush's use of his work, chiding the president for taking his research out of context and not reading the rest of the paper, which you can see here [PDF]. But, while Trumbull makes a good point, he doesn't seem much more forthcoming than W. He did, after all, fabricate the quotation in the first place, setting up an unavoidable accident. In addition, he is not the defender of Castro's prostitution policies that he claims to be. "In 1959 Castro spoke out adamantly against prostitution, and for 30 years, there wasn't any," Trumbull said in a 2000 interview with a Dartmouth paper. "In the '90s, it returned. Castro could eliminate it again, but he doesn't. He knows sex tourism brings in a huge flow of U.S. dollars." Away from this fray, Internet news scourge Matt Drudge has been having a go at the Kerry campaign. Drudge has hyped up the idea that NASA intentionally leaked these photos of Kerry in a boffin bunny suit. At least, like Cuba's prostitutes, Kerry likes to stay clean. ® Related stories Guantanamo Bay loses 'least worst place' status - Navy FoTW: Take your SMPs to Cuba! Tony Blair like Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro Bush relaxes computer export controls
Ashlee Vance, 28 Jul 2004