16th > August > 2004 Archive

LTO-3 bounces in ahead of schedule

It's tape drive leapfrog again today, as Certance says it will ship LTO Ultrium 3 this autumn, ahead of its technology partners HP and IBM. The former Seagate subsidiary is also giving a boost to the current LTO-2 format, announcing a cheaper half-height drive aimed at the 'value' market. This should make up for Certance being last to market with the LTO-1 and 2 generations, reckons Jack Corrao, the company's marketing and product development veep. "We were late with LTO-1 and 2, but when we built our LTO-2 drive we included features we could leverage for LTO-3. We think it puts us two to four months ahead of the others," he says. Ultrium has doubled in capacity with each generation, so the CL800 LTO-3 drive provides 400GB of raw capacity per cartridge or around 800GB with compression. Write speed is also bumped up to 68MB/sec native, from LTO-2's 36MB/sec. This again gives LTO the lead over SuperDLT. "At £3,200, we've priced it right above SDLT-600," says Corrao. "We're positioning LTO-3 at a 50 percent premium on LTO-2, and I believe you'll see more people making the decision to pay that premium and move to LTO-3, more for capacity than speed to begin with." Leapfrogging roadmaps Quite how long LTO can keep this lead is uncertain though - Quantum's SDLT-1200 is due in the next few months, with 600GB of raw capacity and perhaps twice that once you add data compression. Quantum has a lead too on WORM capability, with its DLTice technology - LTO-3 will be able to write special WORM cartridges, but only via a future firmware upgrade. "The roadmaps are leap-frogging," says Rob Pickell, Quantum's worldwide marketing veep. "We're not too far from a Terabyte tape cartridge for under $100." One other area where Quantum has done well is in the mid market, where it sells the cost-reduced DLT-VS technology that it bought with Benchmark. This is the main target for the CL400H half-height LTO-2 drive, Corrao says. "At around £1000, the value LTO-2 is for customers who couldn't afford LTO before," he says. "We will compete with the VS-160 from Quantum, and the VXA-2 from Exabyte." Both those drives offer 80GB of uncompressed capacity per cartridge, versus 200GB for LTO-2. Corrao quotes research from Gartner which suggests that LTO Ultrium is taking most of the new business in this so-called supertape sector, with SDLT shipments reaching a plateau. "We expect the same general shift to the Ultrium format in the value sector," he adds. "There is a gap between DAT and LTO-2 for a 100GB backup set, and the VS-160 and VXA have filled that. It's not a new market, and the next generation of DAT will target it too, but that's not until 2006. LTO-2 is also faster than VS-160 or VXA." The half height drive is cheaper than full height LTO-2 but slower, at 20MB/sec uncompressed versus 36MB/sec. Corrao adds that while the LTO companies have to maintain media compatibility, there is nothing to stop them innovating in other areas. He cites four specific Certance LTO features: Mediashield to keep dust and debris away, so the media lasts longer; Dynamic Powerdown to avoid snapping the tape if there is a power failure; SmartVerify verify-while-write technology; and 13 available write speeds, so the drive can adjust to match the host server and avoid 'shoe-shining'. ® Related stories Rumours of Tape's death exaggerated EMC measures ADIC for tape rescue EMC taps FalconStor for tape emulation
Bryan Betts, 16 Aug 2004

Intel restrains Radio Free vision

It is almost two years since Intel’s chief technology officer, Pat Gelsinger, first coined the slogan ‘Radio Free Intel’ for his vision of a world where wireless connectivity is in every device down to the wristwatch and where these devices run on adaptive radios that move intelligently between available networks according to requirements. It was a big idea, but one that has been taken up all around the industry. It was an even bigger idea that Intel – a company with virtually no RF experience - should be the provider of those ubiquitous radios. While the general concept may have become common wisdom, the jury is still out on whether Intel can implement the vision in silicon ahead of established experts like Motorola and Texas Instruments. In the past few months, the chip giant has suffered from a string of uncharacteristic delays that have led some to speculate that it has bitten off more than it can chew in its wireless strategy. And last week, Sean Maloney, head of the communications division and generally seen as Intel’s third in command, seemed keen to damp down expectations around the adaptive radio, which only a year ago was seen as the company’s most important project as well as Gelsinger’s personal crusade. When Gelsinger first mooted his big idea of a silicon-based digital adaptive radio - small enough to be incorporated into a tiny cellphone and, uniquely, implemented in cost efficient CMOS - one faction in the company, apparently including CEO Craig Barrett, was concerned that he was promising something beyond Intel’s capabilities to deliver. Last June, when preliminary results of the project were presented at an international semiconductor symposium in Japan , it seemed that Intel was far down the road towards its goal and Gelsinger’s star was in the ascendant. The flexible radio Now Maloney is more commonly heard expounding wireless strategy than the CTO, and his more cautious approach appears to be gaining ground. In a briefing on wireless at Intel’s California headquarters last week, he said the concept of a reconfigurable radio ‘superchip’ was now considered unlikely. "I'm trying to not sound like a hippie, but I think that it is the journey, not the destination," he said and that the company would now seek to achieve similar goals, with the less ambitious project of creating a ‘flexible radio’. Although the idea of the full software defined radio is not dead, according to Maloney, it may well have proved a far more difficult project than Intel had first hoped, and the company cannot run the risk of raising expectations too high, given its recent experiences with Centrino and other wireless delays. The flexible radio is likely to cover a more limited range of spectrum than the adaptive radio, and Mike Chartier, Intel’s director of spectrum policy, said the company was working with the International Telecommunications Union to develop rules that would govern the flexible radio technology by next year. Wi-Fi/3G chips Intel may have pulled in its multi-network horns, but it certainly has not backed off completely. At the briefing, it promised its first Wi-Fi/3G combination chips for dual-mode handsets for mid-2005. Although Intel is behind TI and Motorola in offering this facility, it has made significant advances in terms of silicon design, notably with a 10GHz frequency synthesizer implemented in CMOS – a step towards a hybrid controller for both Wi-Fi and cellular networks. With a 10GHz synthesizer, Intel's processor will handle both the 5GHz bands required by 802.11a Wi-Fi and unlicensed WiMAX, as well as 2.4GHz for 802.11g and 3G protocols. "We're taking the approach that 10GHz covers all the bands of interest,” said Krishnamurthy Soumyanath, director of the communications and circuits lab at Intel. Also focused on flexibility is the media access control layer for the architecture, which will hook up to a 3G physical layer and to radios tuned to various wireless frequencies; and the Adaptive Radio Architecture, the software for managing these hybrid devices. This combines two layers - one designed to manage the radios themselves, and an applications layer to facilitate functions like handing off a voice-over-IP call to a cellular network. The Adaptive Radio Architecture is being built in to Intel's Personal Communicator, a proof of concept device that supports multiple wireless protocols. Intel said, at the same briefing, that Bluetooth would be incorporated into Centrino this fall, a move flagged when the company acquired Bluetooth/Wi-Fi coexistence specialist Mobilian last November. Unsurprisingly, one protocol that is not in the Intel multi-radio plan is 802.20, the IEEE Mobile-Fi standard, which increasingly overlaps with the better supported 802.16e initiative. Maloney said: “The WiMax community is full of people that compete with each other but it's a functional family. It seems to me that the arguments around 802.20 are much more complicated.” However, he took the chance to stress, once more, Intel’s commitment to WiMAX. "It's early and [there's a lot of] skepticism around it. We're trying to be cautious but we're six months more confident than we were six months ago,” he commented. © Copyright 2004 Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks Intel announces death of copper Radio Intel - future or fantasy?
Wireless Watch, 16 Aug 2004

Sluggish movement on power grid cyber security

One year after the worst blackout in US history drew attention to the fragility of the North American power grid, progress on protecting the grid from computer intrusions has been slow in coming. This week the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) - the not-for-profit industry group responsible for keeping electricity flowing throughout the United States and Canada - released a list of measures taken to shore up electric grid reliability in the year since the 14 August, 2003 northeast blackout, when a sagging high voltage line in Ohio cascaded into a failure that left 50 million people in eight states and a Canadian province without power. Topping the cyber security portion of NERC's list, the council recently voted to renew for one year a set of rules, called the Urgent Action Cyber Security Standard 1200, that sets minimum cyber security requirements for utility companies in the US and Canada. But that standard - by coincidence enacted the day before the blackout - is relatively small in scope: it applies only to utility control centers, and specifically exempts substations, power plants, and the remotely-operated control systems and relays sprinkled throughout the grid. "It doesn't go far enough," acknowledges Tom Kropp, manager of enterprise information security at the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry think tank. "It is very, very limited in what it applies to." The reason the standards don't reach further, says NERC cyber security chief Lou Leffler, is a pragmatic one: the industry didn't want to impose requirements on itself that it couldn't meet. "There are some area where the technology doesn't exist at this point in time to provide all the protection that we'd like," says Leffler. Concern in Washington SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, in particular, allow utilities to remotely control and monitor generation equipment and substations over phone lines, radio links and, increasingly, IP networks. That makes them an obvious target for cyber attackers. But some existing SCADA systems can't economically be retrofitted with encryption or authentication technology without introducing unacceptable latency into the link, i.e., slowing down communications, Leffler says, voicing a sentiment heard often in the industry. "The devices to provide that kind of encryption, certification or what-not just do not exist," says Leffler. In the wake of the northeast blackout, the narrow focus of the industry's cyber security standard even drew the attention of presidential candidate John Kerry, who, in his capacity as US Senator, asked the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to explain the omission of power plants and control systems from the NERC standard, and from a proposed federal standard that was never ratified. "As you know, the increased integration of generation, transmission and distribution, and control and communications functions, makes the security of the power grid increasingly dependant on the security of its components," Kerry wrote, in a letter dated 8 September, 2003. "I strongly support your efforts to increase the protection of our electric power infrastructure, but I am concerned that the very systems used to control the safe and reliable operation of power generation have been excluded from the rule." Responding to Kerry, FERC chairman Patrick Wood wrote that the failure of individual power plants is not a threat to the grid as a whole, and echoed NERC's position that control systems, while "clearly vulnerable points," could not be secured with cost-effective off-the-shelf solutions, and were therefore properly omitted from security standards. Scattered Incidents If the current rules are limited, observers expect more from the sequel: NERC is working on a new, permanent cyber security standard expected to be in place by the time Urgent Action 1200 expires, one year from now. "What NERC wanted to do with the current one is to set a threshold, give it a try, get the industry comfortable with it and then move on to a more stringent standard," says Kropp. "I think the intent is for [the next standard] to go farther ." "It is my understanding that it will cover the SCADA connectivity, to the extent that there is existing technology to do that," says NERC's Leffler. "I hope that the industry, that the vendors, can develop cost effective security solutions for all of our control systems. I think that is one of the intents." To that end, there are myriad efforts underway to develop SCADA security solutions. Working with NERC, the Department of Energy has produced written guidelines to help utilities voluntarily tighten their control systems, and the department funds a well-regarded National SCADA Testbed at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. This year also saw congressional hearings and a GAO report on the issue of control system cyber security, and an announcement from at least one sizable computer security vendor jumping into the SCADA security market. "There's also a funded, focused effort within the Department of Homeland Security to address this," says Joe Weiss, a control system cyber security consultant at KEMA. "That is a big deal." Reported cases of power grid cyber security incidents are rare, but not unheard of. In the most dramatic incident, early last year the Slammer worm penetrated a private computer network at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and disabled a safety monitoring system for nearly five hours. According to an industry report, the same worm downed a utility's critical SCADA network after penetrating a control center network through a VPN connection, and, separately, disrupted a power company's SCADA traffic by consuming bandwidth on a shared facility. The northeastern blackout was not causes by cyber attack, but a software bug contributed to its scope. A silent failure of the alarm function in an Ohio utilities computerized Energy Management System (EMS) is listed in the joint US-Canada report on the blackout as one of the direct causes of the outage. In April the makers of the software, GE Energy, told SecurityFocus the failure was caused by a race condition in the EMS software that has since been patched. In all, utilities have had enough work to do on basic reliability, that cyber security has taken a back seat over the last 12 months, says EPRI's Kropp. "What I think people have done is they've taken the reliability aspects and the maintenance aspects more seriously," Kropp says. "I think companies are looking at the tools they have to monitor the grid. They're taking much more seriously the preventive maintenance aspects, like cutting tree branches, and making sure the transmission lines are intact and in good shape... They've been taking a second look at their software to make sure there aren't any problems with it. Those all had to be done before they could start worrying about security." Copyright © 2004, Related stories Tracking the Blackout bug Software bug contributed to blackout IT Failures In The Great US Blackout Sparks over US power grid cybersecurity NCSP drafts secure code guidelines Cyber security alliance sets sights on Washington Leeds Uni, MS teach undergrads to write secure code
Kevin Poulsen, 16 Aug 2004

Apple files 'chameleon' computer case patent

Apple has attempted to patent the concept of the chameleonic computer - a machine whose shell changes colour at the user's whim. The patent, number 20040156192 was filed in February 2004 and updated on 12 August. Describing an "active enclosure for computing device [sic]", the patent covers "a computing device [which] includes a housing having an illuminable portion. The computing device also includes a light device disposed inside the housing. The light device is configured to illuminate the illuminable portion". Web site The Mac Observer has piccies from the filing here. The light source is a collection of red, green and blue LEDs, capable of being used to generate any colour entered as an RGB value. Might this be a feature of the next generation of iMac? At this stage, it's too early to say. Having maintained a single colour scheme - white and chrome - for its consumer computers, Apple may now be looking at returning to the iMac's most successful period, when the machine shipped in a range of bright colours. This time, however, one machine can yield as many colours as Apple chooses to offer, saving all that trouble with punters demanding too many blue and red models and too few green and yellow. It also opens the way for colours unique to each user, whether selected during the purchasing process or through a control panel within the shipped system's OS. And, suggests Reg reader Alex Poole, how about an iPod that pulses in tune to the music, a physical manifestation of iTunes 'visualiser' facility? ® Related stories Euro filing reveals Apple 'handheld computer' Apple to ship next-gen iMac in September How to turn your iBook into an iMac (sort of) So farewell then, original iMac Apple holds fire on iMac 2 until economy's right Distributors get fruity over sale of iMacs
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2004

AMD Athlon 64 sales forecast to rise 50% in H2

Reduced prices and improving yields will boost AMD's Athlon 64 sales by 50 per cent during the second half of 2004. So claim sources from among Taiwan's motherboard and chipset developer communities, cited by DigiTimes. They also claim that Athlon 64-oriented mobos accounted for just five per cent of motherboards shipped during H1. However, come July and suddenly momentum starts building behind demand for the CPU family - growth that should be maintained thanks to AMD's late July price cuts. Improved yields - particularly if AMD's 90nm transition goes according to plan - should lay the ground for further price reductions and for faster CPUs. ® Related stories AMD knocks up to 30% off Athlon 64 prices AMD slashes Opteron prices AMD sells first 90nm CPUs - analyst AMD to overtake Intel in 2017... Does Sempron herald end of Athlon XP? AMD ships Sempron AMD ships faster Mobile Athlon 64 AMD loses Euro mobile market share to Celeron UK PC biz sees best growth for four years
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2004

China jails woman in porn crackdown

A Chinese woman has been jailed for four years for running an online strip joint. Wang Yanli is believed to be the first woman to be banged up behind bars following China's tough new stand against Internet pornography. According to newswire reports, some 110 people had coughed up 600 yuan (£40) a year to watch Wang's "lewd" shows each night, with state TV reporting that the XXX entrepreneur had racked up a profit of around £2,000 in just three months. The jailing of Wang follows China's decision this summer to crack down on XXX websites. Officials said the "rampant" increase in online porn damaged the moral fabric of the nation - and young people, in particular. One state official said porn "severely damaged social style, polluted the social environment, and harmed the physical and psychological health of the young people". Two weeks ago it was revealed that 700 websites had been shut down and 220 people arrested as authorities tried to censor XXX sites. ® Related stroies Chinese sales staff sent to beg in streets China terminates 700 sites in porn crackdown Beijing stamps down on Net porn China snoops on text messages China urges ISPs to sign 'self-disciplinary' pact Chinese cyber-dissident gets four years' house arrest
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2004

Taiwan ODMs signal notebook sales slowdown

The sales slowdown reported by European notebook market watchers is being echoed by Taiwanese manufacturer Compal, which last week admitted that key vendors have been cutting back on the scale of their orders. The world's second-largest notebook ODM has consequently cut its forecast for the number of notebooks shipped overall in 2004 from 47m to 43-44m, a decline of between 8.5 and 6.4 per cent. And Quanta, the only ODM that out-ships Compal, has reportedly trimmed its internal shipment target from 12m to 11m, anticipated what amounts to an 8.3 per cent decline in demand. Market watcher IDC recently said some 47m notebooks will ship worldwide this year, up 19 per cent on 2003's total of 39.5m. However, its original 2004 forecast was for 50m units, so again, it's expecting 2004's total to come in six percentage points below where it originally thought it would be. Some see Intel's decision to delay 'Sonoma', the second generation of its Centrino platform, to Q1 2005 as a key reason for the decline. Originally due to have shipped in the autumn, Sonoma, with its improved multimedia, wireless networking, PCI Express and Serial ATA support, and faster, 533MHz system bus, could well have provided the mid to late H2 sales kick the notebook business apparently feels it needs and whose lack is diminishing demand. Sonoma, with is stronger consumer focus than Centrino, stood to make a big impression in the holiday sales, they say. ® Related stories Euro notebook sales slowdown signals end of boom UK PC biz sees best growth for four years Consumers want widescreen notebooks - analyst Tablet PCs gain ground Intel 'delays' Centrino 2 chipset to Q1 2005
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2004
SGI logo hardware close-up

AMD could ship a quad-core Opteron on 2007

AMD may "potentially" ship its first four-core Opteron processor in 2007, bullish Goldman Sachs analyst Andrew Root has claimed. The chipmaker has to get its dual-core parts out of the door first, of course, and that's not scheduled to take place until H2 2005, once it's ramped up its 90nm yields sufficiently to support the larger die size required of such a processor. The Opteron and Athlon 64's 'Hammer' architecture was designed to support two processing cores on one due, with both hooking into the chip's single memory controller. That means the move to dual-core should be more a fabrication issue than a chip design one. "AMD has relatively high confidence in its dual-core product development," notes Root. And having done the ground work for dual-core, going quad ought not to present too much of a challenge, architecturally speaking. Again, die-size and yield issues will prove more of a hurdle, which is why, according to Root's latest report to investors, quad-core parts will be fabbed at 65nm on 300mm wafers. AMD is currently building its first 300mm-wafer fab, in Dresden, with a target to go into volume production in 2006, giving the company plenty of time to perfect the plant's production lines in time for 2007's quad-core launch - if Root is correct in his assumption. AMD's 65nm process is being co-developed with IBM. "AMD remains on track for starting production at its new 300mm fab (Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany) on 65nm in H1 2006, with equipment arriving in Q3," writes Root. "Recall that AMD is doing the 65nm technology development jointly with IBM, and estimates that it is about 70 per cent done." Root is pretty confident about AMD's 90nm roll-out. Last week, he wrote claiming that the chipmaker has begun revenue shipments of its 90nm parts, and that it appears less affected by the problems other chip manufacturers have had with their 90nm roll-outs. ® Related stories AMD sets date for dual-core CPUs AMD sells first 90nm CPUs - analyst AMD selects Dresden for 300mm plant Analyst won't be surprised if IBM buys AMD AMD, IBM pool chipmaking development
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2004

MS invokes DMCA to stop SP2 file sharing demo

Legal threats have stopped P2P activist group Downhill Battle from continuing to offer Windows XP Service Pack 2 through BitTorrent. Downhill Battle set up the SP2Torrent.com site to illustrate how file sharing technology can help distribute large files as an alternative to centralised distribution. It offered the 272MB file designed to allow SP2 to be installed on a network of multiple machines, not the smaller file for installing SP2 on single machines, due to become widely available from Windows Update today. Microsoft lawyers were not amused and within days issued takedown notices against SP2Torrent.com and a second site (which linked to a torrent file on another server), citing the the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Downhill Battle has fought the DMCA before, but this time around it is complying with Microsoft's request. The group reckons the demo has already served its purpose. In a statement issued on Friday, Downhill Battle said: "At this point I think we've made a pretty good case for the helpful role p2p can play in distributing major software releases, and so, for the moment, we've taken down the BitTorrent links. The site has been a huge success in demonstrating P2P technology - we've had over 100,000 visitors in the past few days." Visitors to SP2Torrent.com are being redirected towards Microsoft's official SP2 download site. Meanwhile, searches on BitTorrent reveal that Windows XP SP2 continues to be available. Microsoft's actions have shut down one high profile server; but it is naive to think that people will stop exchanging the file through unofficial channels. ® Related stories WinXP SP2: stop moaning and get downloading Corporates can delay XP SP2 auto-update How to order WinXP SP2 now Should XP pirates get SP2? MS bigs up Windows XP SP2
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2004

Ebookers ups revs, narrows losses

Ebookers reckons that the prospects for the online travel market look "encouraging", following the slow travel market in June caused, in part, because of holidaymakers staying at home and watching the Euro 2004 football championships. Trading so far in Q3 has improved and is now "in line with our expectations", the company said. It remains upbeat after the long-haul sector also showed signs of continued recoverey. Revenues hit £17.3m in Q2 compared to £14.9m a year ago while pre-tax loss improved slightly from £6.9m to £6.4m over the same period. With prospects for future sales looking good, ebookers hopes to cash in on the restructuring from earlier this year as it continues to pull the plug on less profitable parts of its business. This year the company has sold or shut nine shops in the UK and the Netherlands and announced the loss of 270 jobs. Ebookers also continues to invest in technology as part of its bid to increase efficiency and productivity. Said chief exec Dinesh Dhamija: "Ebookers is delivering high levels of growth in our core online business and transferring its focus away from less profitable offline channels. At the same time we are increasing investment in online technologies, particularly higher margin non-air products such as hotels, cars and insurance. This investment is creating a strengthened platform for longer term growth." At lunch, ebookers was up 10p (eight per cent) at 132.5p. Related stories Ebookers sales up but jobs down Axe falls on Ebookers jobs Ebookers chief defends offshoring ebookers looks to India for cost savings Lastminute.com axes 350 jobs
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2004

HK feds bust illegal cricket fighting ring

Hong Kong punters with a penchant for the unusual will have to get their gambling jollies without the participation of giant insects after local police busted an illegal cricket fighting syndicate. Feds slapped the cuffs on 115 miscreants at what was apparently a sort of entomological Fight Club between belligerent crickets from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou. The raid - in Kowloon's Monkok district - netted 200 crickets, $HK8,000 (around $1,000), "small baskets that were used to house the insects and bamboo sticks used to agitate them". Monkok police inspector Angus Yeung Fu-yin explained that while gambling on dogfights and clashes between birds is commonplace, "Gambling of this type is very rare here although it was very popular in the old days, so we were very surprised when we first heard about it." The South China Morning Post points out that the venerable sport of cricket fighting "can be traced back to the Tang dynasty of 618-907 and had long been confined to aristocrats, senior officials and wealthy merchants. Winning brought honour while losing meant shame". The paper adds that cricket coaches hunt down the stroppiest insects and devote much time and energy turning them into six-legged Mike Tysons. A champion cricket can secure up two thousand dollars for a KO and transfer fee of 20,000 yuan ($2,600). Mercifully, police confirmed that the busted betters did not have any known connections to organised crime. Presumably, the triads are too busy organising dogfights where a winning pooch can scamper off with a $HK1,000,000 (about $128,000) purse. ® Related stories Inside the mind of the gay sheep Mice grow monkey sperm Alphabetical zoo killer terrorises Brazil
Lester Haines, 16 Aug 2004

Dell drops out of China's low-end PC market

Dell has quit the highly competitive low-end PC market in China, focusing instead on higher-end kit and servers. The company's move, revealed by its Asia-Pacific chief, Bill Amelio, during an interview with Reuters, isn't entirely surprising. Western PC companies entered China's nascent PC market in the 1990s on the back of high, double-digit growth forecasts and declining demand in their own, domestic markets. But local players, with their better understanding of local tastes and needs, and better access to local non-urban distribution channels, have stormed ahead. Lenovo, formerly known as Legend, shot well ahead of the likes of Dell, HP, IBM and even Acer - the latter with Taiwanese roots - to dominate the Chinese PC market, particularly at the low end. Others, such as Great Wall Technology, Beijing Founder Electronics, HiSense and Fujian Start, have shown similar major-brand beating performance. Alas, the rush to satisfy booming demand has led to fierce price competition. For Dell, the game is now simply not worth the candle and, according to Amelio, it's moving up-market to the "higher price bands of the consumer space". Still, it must bridle that Dell's own meteoric rise in the West, driven by the lower prices made possible by first its direct sales model and later its scale, should not only fail to be mirrored in China, but that it has, in effect, been beaten at its own game. Down, but not out. While growth reached 25-30 per cent in 2001, this year, according to market watcher IDC, PC sales will be up just 19 per cent, so there are signs the heat of previous years is cooling. The territory remains Dell's fourth biggest market, and despite its move away from low-end PC sales, it still expects to see growth in the region of "two times" the overall market rate, according to Amelio, down from its previous forecast of three times higher. ® Related stories Dell dances past the IT sector with strong Q2 Dell nabs HP notebook exec Dell offers 64-bit Pentium 4 workstations China agrees to drop chip tax rebates China agrees to drop WAPI wireless sec spec AMD bags Chinese giant Chinese PC giant sets new benchmark in branding banality
Tony Smith, 16 Aug 2004

OFT fingers Bristol man over misleading data protection ad

A Bristol businessman has been fingered by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for misleading small businesses over data protection legislation. Peter Hardy - who was involved with an outfit called "Data Protection Registration Department" based in Emersons Green, Bristol - has given written assurances to the OFT that he will no longer issue misleading ads concerning compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. The letters gave the impression that they came from an official government body (using a logo similar to the Information Commissioner's official mark), thus misleading many recipients, who thought they had to cough up £49 to comply with the rules. The mailshots failed to explain that not all businesses have to register with the Information Commissioner. While most businesses processing personal data are required by law to notify the Information Commissioner, many small businesses that process personal data for limited purposes are exempt. And even if they did have to register with the Information Commissioner, the fee is only £35 if SMEs go direct. Said OFT Executive Director Penny Boys: "We have taken action against a number of misleading data protection mailings and will continue to work closely with the Information Commissioner, trading standards departments and the police to stop those who make deceptive claims. Businesses should contact the Information Commissioner if they are in any doubt about their obligations to notify under the Data Protection Act." ® Related stories Spanish invoice scam targets UK Alert over invoices from 'Domain Registry Services' Watch out for the bogus invoice man
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2004

Data watchdog slams ID card plans

Britain is at risk “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” because of David Blunkett’s identity card scheme and other UK government plans, according to the UK's Information Commissioner. Richard Thomas also cited plans for a population register by the Office for National Statistics and a database on children, in warning of a slide towards a Big Brother-style system of ubiquitous surveillance in the UK. Thomas predicted Britain risks moving towards an East German Stasi-style snooping culture if current plans are followed through. Thomas's comments came in an interview with The Times published today. He said: “My anxiety is that we don’t sleepwalk into a surveillance society where much more information is collected about people, accessible to far more people shared across many more boundaries than British society would feel comfortable with." The Information Commissioner is not opposed to ID cards on principle. But he is concerned about what he sees as the Home Office's failure to clearly define a purpose for ID cards, the amount of information that would be held on any card and who might be able to access this information. Clamping down on benefit fraud, control illegal immigration and preventing terrorism have been cited as the main reason why Britain needs ID cards by the Home Office at one time or another. The government proposed ID card scheme will involve the establishment of a national register of citizens’ personal details, widely accessible to government departments. This approach gives the UK's Information watchdog the fear. In response to the Home Office’s consultation on identity cards, Thomas concludes “whilst I am not fundamentally opposed to the introduction of ID cards I do have significant concerns about the current proposals. The privacy implications of an extensive national identity register are, in many ways, of far greater concern for individuals. This aspect needs more of a public debate." ® Related stories CBI wishes for the ID scheme we're not getting ID cards: a bad idea, but we'll do it anyway Tag, track, watch, analyse- UK goes mad on crime and terror IT Blunkett appoints development partner for ID card project Glitches in ID card kit frustrate Blunkett's pod people ID cards to use 'key database' of personal info UK public wants ID cards, and thinks we'll screw up the IT ID cards: a guide for technically-challenged PMs (special report) Related links Get your Blunkett-bashing NO2ID shirt here
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2004

IT staff strike 'indefinitely' in Swansea

One hundred IT staff at Swansea Council have begun industrial action today over plans to outsource the local authority's IT department to a private firm. All IT support has been suspended "indefinitely" - apart from the Child Protection Register, which will continue to be maintained by a special team. As a result, 20 other systems - including social services, benefits and payroll - have been hit by the action. The council has pledged to keep its services going with support from "external experts". Two weeks ago 97 per cent of Unison staff voted in favour of a strike, after Swansea Council and the union failed to agree terms and conditions for any future move. Two companies - ITNET and Cap Gemini - have been shortlisted to take on the council's IT division and help implement its Service@Swansea egovernment initiative. Said Unison regional organiser Jeff Baker: "We need to convince the authority to be more transparent on the true costs of this project. Staff would have no guarantee of their future status and we have no idea if the new employer would recognise either national or local agreements on their terms and conditions. Of course, IT firms are just not set up to deal with collective bargaining in the first place." The council has devised a contingency plan to maintain its IT systems in a bid to continue providing services for residents and employees. Said a council spokesman: "We are determined to minimise any potential disruption to our customers and employees. Ninety nine per cent of our employees will be in work as normal throughout the strike and all our offices will be open as usual. We have contingency plans for this kind of situation and we will be bringing in external experts to ensure we continue to provide vital services for the people of Swansea." However, union officials have slammed the council's efforts to ensure that services are kept running during the industrial action. In a statement the union said: "Hurried measures by the Council to make private arrangements to provide emergency cover during the strike met with dismal failure. It is known that at least four companies were approached, including IBM, Fujitsu and Computacenter, all of whom refused to undertake strike-breaking work. We are very grateful for their support and applaud their integrity. And it warned that any move by ITNET - one of the companies shortlisted to take-over the running of Swansea's IT division - to provide cover "will certainly put any future working relationship between the bidding company and City and County of Swansea ICT staff in grave jeopardy". "Unison will mount a campaign to highlight the actions of any such contractors," it said. ® Related stories Swansea IT staff to strike over outsourcing deal IBM offshores 500 UK jobs to India Swansea IT jobs are 'safe', says council Swansea Council IT staff threaten strike over outsourcing ITNet in Cabinet contract blow
Tim Richardson, 16 Aug 2004

On the Beastie Boys 'virus' CD

ReviewReview Widely-circulated claims that the Beastie Boys' new album To the 5 Boroughs exhibits virus-like copy-control behaviour are unfounded, according to tests. EMI's statement regarding these claims, however, is incorrect, since the album does install software if played on a Windows PC. The tests also show that the copy control system on the disc is so weak that Mac and Linux users won't even realize it's there. That's fine with us, say sources in the recording industry. The allegations of virus-like behavior have been rampant because the US and UK versions of the Beastie Boys' album are not copy-controlled, so many users were unable to verify them first-hand and simply spread the rumour. I contacted EMI in Italy, where the record is protected by Macrovision's CDS 200. The company kindly sent a sample of the copy-controlled version of the album, which was tested under MacOS X, Windows XP and Linux. The disc contains a data session and an audio session. It's not a CD, as it doesn't carry the Philips "Compact Disc" logo. The data session includes 128-kbps compressed versions of the tracks of the audio session, a custom player (player.exe) and some DLL files. When inserted in a plain-vanilla Windows XP system, the file autorun.inf is run automatically, launching the player. The first time the player runs, a warning is displayed, stating that "a number of files need to be updated on your PC". Some files, including the DLLs, are then installed, as logged in the install.log file, which is also written to disk in the root directory. This essentially contradicts EMI's initial statement that "CDS-200 does not install software applications of ANY KIND on a user's PC". However, one might argue that DLLs are not "applications", so perhaps EMI is left with some wiggle room. In any case, this is clearly not virus-like behaviour. The user is warned, albeit tersely, that something will be installed. An uninstaller is also provided, in the form of the uninstallplayer.exe program on the disc. The record sleeve also bears a "Copy Controlled" logo and microscopic warnings, which may baffle non-English-speaking buyers. The installed software, moreover, does not cripple the PC in any way, apart from raising CPU usage to a steady 100 per cent during disc playback (overclockers beware). The audio session of the disc can be accessed and played by simply pressing the Shift key during disc insertion or by using Microsoft's TweakUI or similar utilities to disable the Windows Autorun function. CD burning is not impaired in any way. From a computer-security standpoint, the copy-control system would seem to be extremely ineffective. Nero 5.5 and a standard DVD/CD burner had no trouble ripping the audio tracks and burning a copy of the disc, which played without audible errors both on a Windows PC and on available home and car stereos. All the user needs to do is select the audio session for ripping after overriding the Autorun function, which is probably already disabled by most security-conscious users. Life is even easier for Mac and Linux users. When inserted in a Mac OS X system, the disc simply plays in iTunes. No DRM warnings is displayed and no software is installed, and iTunes imports the tracks perfectly. On a Linux system (Mandrake 10.0 was used for the test), the user can simply choose between playing the audio session and browsing the data session. CD burning programs for Linux, such as k3b, are able to burn a copy of the audio tracks without errors. Essentially, the only way a Linux or Mac user will notice that the record is copy-controlled is by reading the warning on the sleeve. When asked why they even bother with such an apparently ineffective copy control scheme, sources within EMI Italy had an interesting comment to make. Sure, it's weak DRM, but it's still good enough to make a difference, they claim. The reason is that most Windows users are not computer-savvy enough to know the Shift-to-kill-Autorun trick, so a significant number of buyers will not be able to copy the disc. Mac and Linux users are so few that they are essentially irrelevant. The current copy control system, in other words, is not intended to block all copying, but simply to stop the average computer user from ripping the Beastie Boys for his friends. It will prevent only a few thousand illegal copies and do nothing against organized piracy, but that's all it takes, the EMI source claimed. Sales are now so low in some countries (Italian families, for example, buy less than two legitimate CDs per year, according to recording industry figures) that just a few thousand more copies sold thanks to weak copy control can carry an album to the top of the charts and spare a record company from having to fire employees. © Paolo Attivissimo - www.attivissimo.net Related stories Beastie Boys claim no virus on crippled CD Beastie Boys CD installs virus
Paolo Attivissimo, 16 Aug 2004

Net porn good for you: official

A government-funded study into porn consumption Down Under has concluded that a little of what you fancy might do you good - and may even make users "more relaxed about their sexuality" and lead to healthier marriages, news.com.au reports. The survey - nicely entitled "Understanding Pornography in Australia" and carried out by a team led by Dr Alan McKee - quizzed 1000 porn users and concluded that "pornography is actually good for you in many ways", as McKee put it. McKee's findings have added fuel to the punch-up over Labor proposals to force ISPs to filter porn in order to protect kiddies from online smut. The author of the draft legislation - Australia Institute executive director Clive Hamilton - hit back at McKee's findings with: "No man who regularly uses pornography can have a healthy sexual relationship with a woman," adding: "The question is - how much are we willing to pay to protect our children from damaging pornographic images?" McKee, however, asserted: "The more we try and turn porn into something that's seen to be bad and has to be kept away from families, the more problems we might be causing for ourselves." The doc drew the line, though, at suggesting that pornography was good for children: "I think you come there to an issue we can't answer - should children who are 16-years-old be allowed to be sexual?" he evaded. ISPs and politicians have weighed into the debate with the former calling the legislation "unworkable" and the latter calling for investment in greater parental awareness and increased funding for Australian Broadcasting Authority agency Netalert - the watchdog which deals with Net porn - rather than draconian censorship rules. ® Related stories Hey, where'd my porn go? The porn must go on - US Supreme Court BT's modest plan to clean up the Net
Lester Haines, 16 Aug 2004

Infected PCs spew MyDoom variant

The MyDoom worm saga continued today with the release of yet another variant of the noxious email worm. The latest variant - MyDoom-S (AKA MyDoom-Q or MyDoom-R) - poses as a funny photographs in order to dupe users into opening an infectious attachment called photos_arc.exe. MyDoom-S runs when a Windoze user (Linux or Mac users are immune) clicks on this malicious attachment. Thereafter the worm mass-mails itself to email addresses harvested from the infected machine with the subject line "photos" and message body "LOL!;))))". Like other variants of MyDoom, MyDoom-S also tries to download a backdoor Trojan (in this case Surila-G) from one of a number of websites onto infected PCs. The Trojan allows infected machines to be controlled remotely by attackers in order to send spam, for example. Finnish AV firm F-Secure reckons virus writers bulk-mailed copies of MyDoom-S from machines infected by earlier versions of the worm in an effort to give their latest creation a kick-start. In an advisory, F-Secure states: "The source addresses of the spams appear to be from DSL and cable modem pools, suggesting that the MyDoom gang is using a botnet created with earlier MyDoom variants to send this one out. They've also carefully checked that none of the common antiviruses detect this new variant. The worm contains a backdoor. System administrators may also want to block access to domains www.richcolour.com and zenandjuice.com from their network for a while. This variant tries to download components from these addresses but the sites themselves have nothing to do with the virus group." MyDoom-S began spreading (fairly extensively) today. Most AV vendors rate MyDoom-S as a medium risk threat. MyDoom-S is programmed to stop spreading on 20 August 2004 but the backdoor does not have an expiration date. ® Related stories Latest MyDoom hunts victims via Yahoo! We're all MyDoomed Microsoft attack worm rides on the back of MyDoom Google goes gimpy from MyDoom infection Zombie PCs spew out 80% of spam Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs MyDoom and Netsky cause chaos MyDoom is the worst virus ever
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2004

Cut-down Windows will boost piracy - Gartner

The Gartner Group has warned users to avoid Windows XP Starter Edition, the cut-price, feature-light version aimed at Asian markets. Analysts Dion Wiggins and Martin Gilliland don't think home users will miss LAN and file and print sharing features, but warn that users will dip back into the black market because they don't have a legitimate, discounted upgrade path from XPSE to the full-featured version. "Microsoft has not enabled XPSE to grow with the user as he or she gains experience," they write. "Gartner believes that this will likely increase software piracy, because the only upgrade path offered by Microsoft requires that the user pay full the retail price for XP Home." XPSE also limits the user to three applications at any one time, and doesn't allow individual local user accounts to be created. Gartner commends Microsoft for adding tutorials and revamping the help system for first-time users. Meanwhile, the pan-Asian project backed by the governments of the Chinese Republic, Japan and South Korea to create desktop and server operating systems based on Linux, will launch its first products within six months, according to Lu Shouqun, president of China Open Source Software Promotion Union. Shoqun denied that this was a breakaway "Asian Linux", and said the software, which will be licensed free to local ISVs, will adhere to existing standards. Distributions are aimed at the public sector and intended to encourage the local software market. ® Related stories Windows pricing begins to buckle Sun nabs AIB desktop contract Gates offers Asia slimmer Windows Red Hat hits the desktop Asia-Pacific govts sign Linux promo pact
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Aug 2004

HP unveils Unix roadmaps

HP WorldHP World HP will be a pitching a story of Unix harmony and advancement at its HP World user conference here this week. The harmony comes from better aligned processor and operating system support for HP-UX, and the advancement comes in the form of upgraded partitioning and clustering tools. Most of the new technology, however, will take a long time to arrive. First up, HP has now released HP-UX 11i V2 for both its Itanium and PA-RISC based servers. This means PA-RISC customers no longer have to wait until HP-UX 11i V3 arrives to use the same operating system as their Itanium counterparts. The bad news, however, is that both sets of customers will have to wait until the second half of next year to get their hands on V3 - a product once due at the end of this year. HP's customers have endured a number of Unix technology delays, including the new version of HP-UX and the clustering (now due in 2006) and advanced file system software (now due in the second half of 2005) from Compaq's Tru64 operating system. It's unclear if HP's Unix development has turned out to be harder than planned or if cuts to its Unix workforce have slowed progress, or both. With the HP-UX 11i V2 processor parity, HP is clearly offering customers a concession for these delays. The PA-RISC users now get to enjoy the same performance improvements and advances as the Itanic users, including support for up to 128 processors. HP users will see improvements with the Virtual Server Environment (VSE) software for HP-UX, which allows administrators to manage applications by changing things such a I/O, storage and processor configurations on-the-fly. Within VSE, HP will start shipping the Global Workload Manager, which combines the older HP-UX Workload Manager and Systems Insight Manager for Intel-based systems into a single tool. This software is also due to start shipping for Linux and may one day work with Windows and OpenVMS too. Free Alpha upgrades Customers with both Itanium and PA-RISC servers will likely be pleased to find that HP can now support both systems in a single cluster with its Serviceguard software, which is part of VSE. The clustering software has been improved as well to detect a failure and move an application onto a new server within five seconds. On the partitioning front, HP plans to bring its virtual machine technology found on PA-RISC systems today over to the Itanium-based Integrity boxes. This will let customers run numerous copies of an operating system on a single processor. HP is touting something it's calling HP-UX Compartments as well. These Compartments make it possible to run numbers applications on a single copy of the operating system. The technology is similar to Sun Microsystems' N1 Grid Containers with both sets of technology running each application in its own secure cell. Ideally, customers can cut down on management headaches and costs by dealing with just one copy of the OS instead of running different applications on multiple copies of Unix. The problem with most of this technology is that it will take a while to arrive. Most of the Serviceguard software is shipping already, but the new Global Workload Manager won't arrive until the fourth quarter, the partitioning tools don't come until the first half of next year and the Integrity virtual machines ship in late 2005. In the first half of next year, HP also plans to extend its pay-per-use technology to Windows, and its Instant Capacity on Demand (iCOD) technology should arrive for Linux in the second half of next year. Given that IBM has just released a new version of AIX and that Sun has Solaris 10 coming in December, HP is starting to look way behind on the Unix front. This is bad news for a company already dealing with a massive migration of PA-RISC and Alpha customers onto Itanium-based servers. Again, HP doesn't seem to be adapting as quickly as it should be. HP has, however, thrown the Alpha crowd a wee bone in the form of a free processor upgrade. Customers should expect a 17 per cent performance boost with new 1.3GHz EV7z chips for the GS1280 and 1.15GHz chips for the ES47/80 systems. HP will not charge extra for the added horsepower and plans up to 40 per cent price cuts on boxes with the old chips. HP additionally made it possible to run processors of different speeds in the same server. In its third quarter hardware bomb, HP noted a 25 per cent drop in NonStop sales and a 32 per cent fall in Alpha server sales. You have to believe that IBM and Sun are picking some of these customers up. While HP-UX is impressive on a number of fronts, including the iCOD and nPar/vPar technology, it has certainly fallen well behind AIX and especially Solaris overall. Both IBM and Sun appear to be able to advance their OSes at a quicker clip than HP. If HP is putting serious R&D money into HP-UX, it's not showing as well as it should. PA-RISC, Alpha and Itanium customers must be concerned. ® Related stories Sun forgets about Novell, remembers products Veritas makes Linux as strong as Solaris Sun targets HP-UX and Windows with software subs HP issues apocalyptic Netscape HP-UX warning IBM chases HP and Sun with i5 Fiorina touts HP advances
Ashlee Vance, 16 Aug 2004

McAfee buys Foundstone for $86m

In briefIn brief Security firm McAfee today announced a deal to acquire vulnerability management company Foundstone for $86m cash. Foundstone's services and technology help customers to relate IT security risks to the operation of their businesses by correlating assets with vulnerabilities and current IT security threats. Foundstone competes with vendors such as TruSecure in the vulnerability assessment and management market, which IDC reckons will be worth $1.6 bn by 2008. McAfee (formerly Network Associates) wants to combine Foundstone software and services business with its own intrusion prevention technology to produce more effective IT security defences. McAfee plans to deliver enhanced risk classification of prioritized assets, automated shielding and risk remediation using its own intrusion prevention technology, and automated policy enforcement and compliance technology from Foundstone. McAfee expects the transaction to close in the next 60 days, subject to various formalities. Assuming successful completion, Foundstone's professional services organisation will become part of McAfee's services team. ® Related stories Network Associates warms to behaviour blocking NAI buys Entercept for $120m NAI buys IntruVert for $100m Responsible bug disclosure by corporate fiat
John Leyden, 16 Aug 2004

Newham and Microsoft sign 10-yr deal

Microsoft and the Newham Council have signed a ten year agreement - worth at least £5m - making Microsoft the council's software provider of choice. This is the concluding chapter in a long-running battle between the Redmond based software giant and the open source software community for pride of place in the London borough's IT department. As well as significant upgrades to the IT infrastructure and standardising on one version of Windows, the deal will see social workers equipped with Tablet PCs - part of making home visits more efficient. It looks good too: the pilot study indicates that using mobile technology in assessments of those in need of social services will save care workers an hour per assessment, and a whole load of to-ing and fro-ing. One of the deciding factors for Newham in appointing Microsoft as its strategic partner was an IT audit and analysis carried out by CapGemini. Although CapGemini makes a big noise about being independent from Microsoft, the study was indeed funded by the software firm . One of the main conclusions of its research was that as well as being cheaper than OSS, Microsoft is more secure than the open source alternative. It takes a lot to raise a laugh at an IT press gig, but this news tickled the spot for the journalists at today's press conference in London. So how did this all happen, when Newham was one of the OGC's standard bearers for open source trials? Let's recap: Newham had brought in open source consultancy netproject to conduct a study of the feasibility of an open source deployment. It recommended that the council deploy a mixture of open source and proprietary solutions, including an upgrade of its MS Exchange server. Microsoft responded by commissioning Cap Gemini to audit Newham's IT, and to run cost / benefit analyses of both the open source option, and the 100 per cent Redmond solution. The CapGemini report recommended Microsoft, all the way. Newham said, yes, yes, very interesting, but we still need to talk to Microsoft about costs. Cue very high level negotiations, and the eventual abandonment of the open source trials. Netproject's Eddie Bleasdale says his consultancy was used as a negotiating tool to get a better deal out of Microsoft. He argues that the council never really intended to deploy an open source solution at all - because it doesn't have the expertise to do so. Richard Steel, Newham's head of IT, rejects the claim: he says Bleasdale is "inferring things that are not justified by the facts". But what of this study, funded by Microsoft, which proved so persuasive? We've yet to see a copy of the full report, although we are promised one soon. In the meantime, here are some highlights: On TCO: Based upon the Gartner TCO tools, the study indicated that an open source solution would provide approximately half the cost savings of a comparable Microsoft solution, but would cost three times more to implement due to significantly increased migration costs. On migration costs: Migration costs for the Microsoft solution were estimated to be 68 per cent lower than the switching costs of migrating to an open source platform. This was because of higher costs of training ICT and users, the need for additional testing, increased support levels and the costs for converting, testing macros and the 120 office based custom applications that exist within Newham On the risks of Open Source: Open source vendors are currently experiencing more vulnerabilities and receiving more security advisories than Microsoft. In addition, Microsoft has made a substantial investment in further improving security levels with its Trustworth Computing initiative One final point to note is that Newham will be using Internet Explorer. Steel explained that this is because Microsoft is very serious about addressing security concerns. ® Related stories MS, open source, The Facts and the fit-ups Microsoft, Sun, IBM and the war for government desktops Gates to meet Brown, OGC and NHS chiefs Sun, OSS in crosshairs? Savage discounts from MS flush OSS desktop from London council How to help MS, harm OSS by not buying Microsoft UK police issue 'vicious' Trojan alert Corporates can delay XP SP2 auto-update Long-awaited IE patch (finally) arrives
Lucy Sherriff, 16 Aug 2004

EC mulls MS DRM monopoly trawl

The EC has postponed by another week whether or not to examine the monopoly implications of Microsoft and TimeWarner's control of DRM company ContentGuard. With Microsoft already judged to be a monopoly in Europe, and Time Warner's enormous media holdings, the two joint owners of the company have enormous market clout. The two giants snuggled up last spring, when Time Warner agreed to license Microsoft's DRM technology and continue to use its IE browser technology in its AOL software. (See Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape) Microsoft is a long-time investor in ContentGuard, which has had some success in persuading standards bodies, including the MPEG group, to adopt its specifications. Redmond has adopted ContentGuard's markup language in its own products. In April, after Microsoft was obliged to pay $440m in DRM royalties to InterTrust, it increased its stake in ContentGuard and Time Warner stepped in, giving the two equal holdings. Now owned by Sony and Philips, InterTrust is a shell operation, the licensing house having long ceased to do any R&D work of its own. It's too early to say the EU's interest in this new consumer choke point will be followed up with an examination of other players in the market, including InterTrust. Given that the European Commission's interest was piqued by Real's plea for a competitive media player market, one would think that it would. But don't hold your breath. ® Related stories Intertrust ready for DRM role Time Warner invests in ContentGuard Microsoft squares Intertrust DRM suit for $440m Sony, Philips to buy InterTrust for $453m InterTrust sues Microsoft (on just about everything) Sony buys in InterTrust DRM technology InterTrust asks court to ban Windows Browser wars suit ends with death knell for Netscape Mickey Mouse blesses Microsoft DRM Microsoft monopoly says Apple monopoly is too restrictive
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Aug 2004

HP preps little EVA starter box

HP WorldHP World In a bid to boost its lagging storage business, HP today announced a new "starter kit" system in its EVA line that can scale up to 16TB. The EVA3000 starter system is meant to help customers roll out low-end to midrange-sized SANs (storage area networks). It arrives as a SAN array with 2Gb Fibre Channel and bundled management software. HP is especially proud of the hardware/software pairing available with the new kit, saying this is a first in "all-in-one pricing and packaging." The new box comes at a time when HP's storage business is being hammered by rivals - namely EMC. The new EVA3000 box ships with two controllers, one disk enclosure and just over 1TB of capacity with eight 146GB Fibre Channel drives . As promised, the system also comes with HP OpenView Storage Operations Manager (OVSOM) Version 1.2. It includes the activation of two Secure Path host licenses for either HP-UX, Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX or NetWare as well. All told, this system will ship on Sept. 1 for a price of $42,000. Last week, HP blamed a poor third quarter performance by its hardware division on storage failings. HP was punished by tight pricing and lost ground to EMC in the period. Some have pointed to HP's few refreshes to the popular Compaq produced EVA line as one reason for the losses to EMC. There's more information of HP's new EVA system available here. ® Related stories HP unveils Unix roadmaps HP: The Adaptive Enterprise that can't adapt HP shares tumble on weak Q3 HP maps growth path
Ashlee Vance, 16 Aug 2004

HP's Livermore opts for 'content free' content

HP WorldHP World HP's David Booth stole the show during the opening keynote today at HP World. The problem is - he wasn't meant to. Booth, vice president of sales in HP's Customer Solutions Group (CSG), introduced bigger fish Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group, at the event here. As it turned out, Booth's brief ten-minute song and dance turned out to be the only message of substance delivered on the day. Booth briefly addressed some of the more touchy issues facing HP, while Livermore produced nothing more than an extended advertisement. Booth began his address of the HP and old Compaq customer base by saying, "you could not miss the coverage" that HP's poor third quarter generated. And indeed a flood of horror stories rolled out last week that addressed HP's poor performing hardware business and the reasoning behind the company's decision to axe three executives. From there, Booth tried to explain the third quarter gaffes, noting that HP's storage business had a bad run and that a typical uptick in end of quarter sales did not arrive. He also pointed to the mysterious SAP rollout gone wrong. Apparently, HP's took twice as long as expected to get a new SAP ordering system up and running, which forced it to "air freight equipment to meet delivery dates" and tap the channel to help complete sales. Booth is about the fourth HP executive to point to this SAP travesty as one of the main contributors to $400m in lost Q3 revenue. The mind boggles when trying to figure out how a flood of FedEx deliveries could cause a loss on this scale, but that's what you're being told. HP will improve its ordering system and storage to put it in prime fighting position against the likes of EMC, Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems, Booth said. "We are making investments in storage that will allow us to leapfrog our competitors," he said, while moaning about HP's fallen stock price. And then Livermore came on. Her talk was perhaps best described by a conference attendee who called it "content free," and the giggles in the press room backed up this assessment. Livermore simply walked the HP World attendees through several customers wins with companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks and Unicef. There were some flash commercials shown too, but ever since HP used The Cure's "Pictures of You" in an ad, it has been hard for many to stomach the company's marketing. Ironically, Livermore pitched HP's Adaptive Enterprise concept again and again. "It was a little lover a year ago since we introduced our vision of where IT is going - a vision called the Adaptive Enterprise," she said. "The Adaptive Enterprise is not something you buy. It is something you build. It is a journey that you go on." It also apparently makes things simpler, more manageable, flexible and able to adapt to change. It is not a failed SAP rollout that contributes to $400m in lost revenue over a three month period, as far as we know. The stuff Livermore was hawking sounded great, if only HP could figure out how to buy what it sells. ® Related stories IBM overtakes HP in top of the teraflops HP maps growth path HP sees double with Itanium HP narrows focus for mega services deals
Ashlee Vance, 16 Aug 2004