30th > November > 1999 Archive
Software developer Richard Warr has taken a dispute with toy store Toys 'R' Us onto the Internet by registering the domain name toys-r-us.co.uk and putting up a site to air his grievance.
IBM seems to be in a hiring and firing mood, announcing it will take on 500 software sales staff worldwide to compete with rivals such as Oracle.
Corel shares soared yesterday on speculation that Red Hat was planning a bid for the rival Linux distributor. The market clearly views the possibility as a marriage made in heaven, because Red Hat stock promptly hared after it. Corel stock closed at $20 7/8 (up 48 per cent) and Red Hat at $236.625 (up 11 per cent). In the last week, Red Hat's share price has increased 95 per cent, giving it market capitalisation of more than $15 billion. Those not in on the ground floor in August when Red Hat was initially priced at $14 will be eyeing the present $236.625 with some disappointment. As yet, there's been a no-comment-on-speculation from Red Hat, and "we haven't been approached by Red Hat" from Corel. So far, the trading pattern in the shares suggests that it is day traders who are jumping in on the high level of activity, rather than action by insiders. The rumour resulted from financial analyst speculation that because Red Hat had acquired the privately-held tools maker Cygnus in mid-November for $674 million, other acquisitions were likely. Other possible objects of Red Hat's affection, and significant financial leverage, include Sendmail, and perhaps Mozilla. Red Hat announced yesterday that it had concluded a deal to provide consultancy and support to AutoZone, an auto parts retailer that plans to install Linux terminals in its 2,800 stores. In September, the Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse installed Linux in its 260 stores. It certainly would make sense if a Red Hat-Corel deal were consummated. Corel could bring to the party its retail distribution capability, its WordPerfect suite, and its graphics for the masses. Corel's Linux distribution has been topping the download charts, so there could be some concern by Red Hat that although Red Hat has 68.7 per cent of the US market, according to IDC, Corel could rapidly become a contender. The prize however for Red Hat would be Corel's WordPerfect suite, especially in view of the Linux editions and the continuing affection for the product, despite its troubled history. Even the Department of Justice and Judge Jackson use Word Perfect. The big loser in the WordPerfect story has been Novell: it finally disposed of its Corel shares just before the Corel share price spiralled upwards. Yesterday Corel launched its WordPerfect Family Pack at $79, with a mail-in rebate of $20 for North American users. The product includes WP8, the Quattro Pro8 spreadsheet, as well as graphics, photo, typing, clipart, and the Compton encyclopaedia. Corel CEO Michael Cowpland still has an appointment with the Ontario Securities Commission in January following an investigation of alleged insider trading, which he strongly denies. ®
LetterA reader has pointed out that we missed quite a few other things that Intel got wrong in 1999. And he adds that there are other factors, earlier in the decade, which ought to be taken into account when judging the company's performance.
Chip giant Intel has signed a deal with, and put money into, a technology called Choice Seat, owned by CSI. Described as "an interactive experience for sports fans", Choice Seat lets sport jocks make games more interesting when they are dull by fiddling with a 10-inch touch screen built into other fans' seats, during a game. The technology is already in place in New York's Madison Square Garden. Williams Communication has a majority share in CSI, and Intel has become a minority investor in the company, to the tune of a sum which has not been disclosed. According to executives at Intel, the technology agreement and investment form part of a strategy it has. This part is intended to bring interactive video and data to fans both inside and outside sports stadiums. Fans can fiddle with other people's seats at Madison Square Gardens during Knicks, Rangers and Liberty Games, said Intel. Somehow, we're not sure we'll ever see the technology take off at Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen United, where touching anything belong to another fan, especially his or her seat, brings the retort CUJimmy*. ® *See The Register Guide to Acronyms
Kalamazoo is to slash up to 99 jobs as part of a £2 million cost cutting scheme. The reseller said the decision, part of the ongoing Advantage 2000 review started by CEO Malcolm Roberts after his appointment last June, would include a one-off charge of £700,000. The reorganisation will run to the end of the company's financial year, 31 March 2000. Until then, "Kalamazoo will refine the organisation structure and reporting lines to strengthen its focus on customers", it said in a statement today. "Simultaneously, Kalamazoo will continue to reduce the level of costs in the business." According to Roberts, CEO at the company since last June: "We therefore intend to remove around £1.5 million to £2 million of net annual cost from the business." This includes redundancies across the business, with a Kalamazoo representative confirming the company was in a consultation period with employee representatives to finalise numbers. This is the second round of redundancies at the company this year. In March, it announced 130 job cuts as part of the same Advantage 2000 review. Most of the staff went from the group's base in Northfield, Birmingham. At the time, there was a one-off cost of £1.5 million, resulting in pre-tax losses of £2.2 million for the year ended 31 March 1999. ® Related Story Breakeven best scenario for Kalamazoo
IBM and the Japanese camera manufacturer Olympus have produced a prototype of a wearable PC weighing 14.3oz (370g). IBM also demonstrated another prototype in Tokyo in September last year which weighed a little less. It's been such a long time coming that there is a real danger that it will be distinctly out of fashion by the time it's available, although it could hit the stores "soon". At present, there is no keyboard, since speech recognition is used. The device is planned to appeal to consumers who want to look at files or play audio. There is a banana-shaped handle that has a two-button touchpad that allows icons to be selected on an Olympus "eye-trek" screen that flips out from a headset. Readers seriously wishing to know more about the cyberborg potential could enroll in the next University of Toronto course on Personal Cybernetics, but perhaps they should first see a picture of the present class at wearcomp.org. There are also photos of Steve Mann's wearable devices going back to 1980. The only readily available kit at the moment appears to be the Xybernaut MA IV, which is now fortunately lighter than the first version, but is still rather heavy at two pounds (900g), and even heavier on the pocket (around $9000 initially, but now through the $6000 barrier for a basic head-mounted display version). The main use so far has been in situations where PDAs can't easily be used, for example in certain maintenance work where hands-free working is essential, including medical applications such as endoscopy. The common features of wearables so far as been Windows and mostly Intel chips, but IBM made the point last year that Windows 98 was used for demonstration purposes. But with IBM's ViaVoice already being offered for the Red Hat distribution, it may not be long before the smart dude is seen wearing a Microsoft-free version, which will make Bill G's digital wallet look pretty old-fashioned. ®
SiS International Holdings was braying for CHS Electronics' blood this week over claims that the distributor owed over $42 million for a buyout agreement. According to Reuters, the US distribution group said on Monday it had begun foreclosure proceedings against CHS. In February 1998, CHS had agreed to buy 80 per cent of SiS' distribution group SiS Distribution for $70.4 million. However, SiS claimed it was still waiting for CHS to cough up the remaining $42.24 million, which it has owed since March. In addition, the troubled Miami distributor failed to pay the balance to SiS even after a revised payment schedule had been banged out. SiS said it was legally entitled to the sale shares and had already started foreclosure proceedings. It added that it had not been damaged by CHS' lax payment because, by some bizarre foresight, it had not committed itself to invest the cash. The move followed revelations earlier this week that CHS was being investigated in the US over money laundering claims. ® Related Stories CHS losses unveiled in full Receivers called in at CHS Electronics UK
The Sherriff may be an enigma wrapped in a mystery to some folks, but was flattered to find that delegates at the AMD investor conference (no telephone booth jokes please --Ed) apparently felt strongly enough to hold a debate as to his (or her) true identity. Amidst the electronic sackload of emails generated by yesterday's stories was the following gem: "Many people in the AMD investors' conference have concluded that you are a joke... a pen name used for outrageous stories, intended as a subtle form of The Register humour. A minority of us just believe that you are a very young man who needs guidance. This isn't meant as an insult, but it should hopefully open your eyes about how differently the world is viewed by others." (email address supplied) Robert Lewis opines: "You are absolutely right about Intel's PSN. (Just thought you'd like to hear that someone agreed with you.)" While Adam suggests (I think) that Intel will sell you information about P3 owners if you offer enough cash: "… the reason no one has taken you up on your challenge is because none of us who regularly peruse The Register have enough peanuts to feed the Inteliphant what he wants for your info (and none of those who DO have the legumes aren't reading your column anyway...sorry, couldn't resist the zinger :)" (The Editor writes: "I have met Peter Sherriff in the flesh and I can vouch for the fact that he is very far from being a spring chicken.") ®
A report in today's Daily Mirror claimed that the municipal authorities in Paris are to insert microchips into trees on the capital's boulevards. The aim of the scheme, according to the Mirror, is to warn the authorities when individual trees feel they're about to peg it. And, the tabloid continues, London is thinking of implementing a similar scheme for its trees. The report did not say which company would supply the chips, but it would be a way of disposing of processors that were past their sell-by date. A case of getting rid of the dead wood, perhaps. ®
UpdatedUS data storage specialist C3D will today show off a technique for creating a CD-sized disc capable of holding up to 140GB of information. Current CD-ROMs can store 0.65GB of data. Double-sided DVD-ROMs can hold 6GB. C3D's system, dubbed FMD ROM, uses a multi-layer disc containing fluorescent materials as the active optical storage medium. Regular CD units operate by reflecting laser light off the surface of the disc to read. FMD (Fluorescent Multi-layer Disc) uses the laser simply to stimulate the fluorescent material to emit light. "This fluorescence property enables writing and reading of multi-layer structures with much greater storage capacity than offered by current optical memory products," says the company. One interesting side-effect of the use of fluorescent materials is that each disc is transparent -- to visual light, at any rate. And since the technique isn't based on reflection, a single laser can pass through the disc, activating the fluorescent material in each layer as near as damnit simultaneously, allowing multiple tracks to be read at the same time. That means data can be read much more quickly than before. But there's a snag: the system isn't compatible with current CD and DVD drives. However, C3D reckons existing equipment can be made to read FMD ROM discs with "minimal retooling". That's probably part of the reason why the technology won't see light of day before Q4 2000. As with current optical technologies, FMD will initially only be available in read-only formats -- write and re-write versions will come on-stream sometime later, though the company couldn't say when. C3D is also working on a compact version of the technology, aimed at the mobile market, that squeezes a sliver of FMD material plus reader/writer hardware into a PC Card case. ®
Budget-price PC vendor eMachines is to buy up rival supplier Free-PC in a stock swap which signals the end of the great PC giveaway. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the companies said they would not be expanding the customer base of either Free-PC or its free ISP, FreePCNet. That suggests eMachines' doesn't see Free-PC as a going concern. The deal will see Bill Gross, Free-PC's chairman, join the board of eMachines. Stephen Dukker, President and CEO of eMachines, will stay in his current position, and Donald La Vigne, Free-PC's CEO, will become eMachines' executive VP. eMachines, spawned from the loins of Korea's TriGem Computer and Korea Data Systems, sells cheap PCs from $399. Free-PC sprang into the US market last year offering free PC hardware in return for users being bombarded with adverts. eMachines will be able to harness Free-PC's advertising base and combine this with offer for its own cheap hardware. "eMachines' goal has always been to capitalise on Internet revenue opportunities arising from the fact that the vast majority of our customers are purchasing our PCs to go online," said Dukker. ®
Egg is to stop sending out credit card details in unsafe e-mails after the online bank finally realised such actions may compromise customers' security. The Prudential-backed online bank also admitted that was described as an "isolated" incident was, in fact, common practise within the company. "We didn't think [sending credit card details in unsafe e-mails] was a security problem," a spokeswoman for Egg conceded today. "We've now accepted that this was not best business practise." The online bank only took the decision after the incredibly lax procedure was highlighted in a number of media reports. But many industry watchers -- and customers -- remain gobsmacked that Egg could have taken such a relaxed, nay incompetent approach to security in the first place. ®
Plans for the first Asian broadband seamless network have come nearer to fruition with the signing of a deal announced in September between Global Crossing, Microsoft ($175 million for a 3.5 per cent stake) and Softbank (also $175 million for 3.5 per cent), to create a joint-venture company called Asia Global Crossing. Its East Asia Crossing network will consist of a high-capacity fibre optic link between China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and the Philippines, and is scheduled for completion in June 2001. It is intended that the JV will expand to include Thailand, India, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. A couple of weeks ago, Hutchison Whompoa and Global Crossing agreed a 50:50 joint venture to tackle telecoms and Internet opportunities in Hong Kong. When the present plans are completed, Global Crossing will be able to offer network access to some 80 per cent of the world's telecoms traffic, but whether Asian users will be able to afford the tariffs remains to be seen. It has six undersea systems: Atlantic Crossing (AC-1, which started operation in May 1998), Pacific Crossing (PC-1), Mid-Atlantic Crossing (MAC), PanAmerican Crossing (PAC), South American Crossing (SAC) and AC-2. In addition, it has the PanEuropean Crossing (PEC) and Global Access Limited (GAL) in Japan. For its part, Global Crossing, with $4 billion of funding, has through its Global Marine Systems subsidiary the biggest fleet of cable-laying and maintenance vessels in the world. Last week, the acquisition of Racal Telecom was completed following the October agreement by Global Crossing to buy it for £1 billion in cash. Racal's network has a traffic flow consisting of 65 per cent data. The network, with its London metropolitan ring, is expected to be within 5km of two-thirds of UK businesses by 2001. A key feature is that Racal has more BT connection points than any other UK network, which reduces the interconnection costs. The Racal and Global Crossing networks are currently being linked together in the London docklands. ®
Sources close to AMD have told us that the long-awaited K6-III/500 is now timed to hit the streets, in volume, on the 12th of December. That is the date that Intel has confirmed it will introduce its first price drops on its Coppermine processors, launched on the 25th of October last. The move is timed by AMD to coincide with Intel's price drops in a bid to capture an area of the market Intel has hitherto dominated. At Dresden, earlier this year, AMD executives said that they would introduce iterations of the K6-III at times when they believed the market would demand such parts. Meanwhile, other sources close to AMD suggest that the company will be able to implement its copper technology much faster than most expected. It used the K6-III as a testing bed for fabrication and is now happy it can execute early in the New Year. And we still have good reason to believe that AMD will into its 1GHz processor earlier than anyone expected. No-one from AMD was available for comment at press time. ®
Oftel has finally given the green light for telecoms companies to compete with BT and operate broadband services in Britain. The decision is a long-awaited and much-flagged milestone in the deregulation of the British telcoms market and effectively signals the end to BT's monopoly of the local loop -- the short distance that links people to the local telephone exchange. Once other telcos are in place, consumers should be able to chose which telco provides them with broadband services. That's the plan anyway. For this to happen Oftel has been forced to take strong-arm measures against BT by imposing mandatory conditions on the telco to co-operate with the regulator over unbundling the local loop. Oftel claims this will lead to greater competition and reduced prices, but due to a lengthy timetable it won't happen until July 2001. What's more, due to the technological shortcomings of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology, a fifth of Britain won't be able to hook up to broadband service, effectively turning the country into a nation of e-have and e-have-nots. Among today's key announcements Oftel said that all telecoms operators would have the right to interconnect with BT's network and upgrade BT's lines with their own equipment. It said there would be no restrictions on the types of services that telecoms operators would be able to provide over BT's network, although this is subject to technical compatibility. Oftel also said it would take responsibility for setting the price for those telcos who want to use BT's local loop. Provisional figures aired today suggest that BT could charge operators between £100 and £115 a year for a single line. Once other operators' costs are taken into account consumers could be expected to fork out around £300 a year for ADSL access, although Dave Edmonds, Director General of Oftel, said he thought this was probably on the low side. "My decision today will enable a wide range of telecoms companies to compete directly with BT to deliver new higher bandwidth services to homes and small businesses using the local telecoms network," said Edmonds. "BT has assured Oftel that it will co-operate fully with the rest of the industry to meet this timetable. BT has agreed to work with Oftel to introduce a new licence condition, which will set out how these arrangements will work. However, since nothing involving BT or Oftel is ever straightforward, the industry will have to wait and see what really happens. ®
UpdatedThe news that AMD released its 750MHz Athlon processor caused its share price to top $30 in New York yesterday. The same news (probably, or perhaps even possibly), caused Intel's share price to slip around a point from $80 a share to $78 15/16. Now, we understand from sources close to Gateway, that the company might well back the Athlon processor. But all of the AMD-powered machines it sells will be at the high end, we are given to understand. Gateway is not as happy with Intel as it formerly was. The source said: "Here is the deal. GTW and AMD are back on. However, Intel is still vying to keep the desktop market theirs. GTW is still shipping other AMD stuff that have not yet EOL'd. It is a tight race. Most think it will ship and now official pronouncements are that it will ship, but the Intel race is not yet over. They could come in and fight for additional processors." Meanwhile, brokers Josephtal & Co re-iterated its opinion that AMD was a buy, just going to show that financial analysts know a bandwagon when they see it trundle down Wall Street with a heap of hacks tooting their trumpets on the back. To Josephtal's credit, however, we have received information that the firm first started upgrading AMD's stock on the 7th October. A representative said today that other brokers had joined after that, including Lehman Brothers, and latterly Gruntal and Salomon Smith Barney. The representative said: "The Stockzilla's of the world still haven't gotten the picture but I am sure they will after the fact when the stock will be too expensive for us to recommend with a straight face." Even one day is early in Wall Street, he commented. Those who dumped their AMD shares back in summer will be kicking themselves mightily. For some months, AMD's share price trundled along at around $16, and now it is almost double that. Over eight million AMD shares and 16 million Intel shares were traded yesterday, just going to show the volatility of putting your money on a company that shifts purified sand. The 52 week low for AMD came on the 14th of April, when its share price was trading at $14 9/16. Intel's 52 low was $50 1/8 on the 1st of June. ® See also Inteltrashes huge Gateway rebate scheme No Athlon for Gateway -- officially
Dell has joined Compaq and Hewlett-Packard by releasing a cut-down, low cost PC aimed squarely at the Internet user. The WebPC basic model (433MHz Celeron, 15in monitor) will cost $1,000 (£628), with a 466MHz model costing $1,099 (£690) and with a flat-panel screen, $1949 (£1,223). It comes in a range of colours a la iMac and with a range of peripherals including scanner, digital camera and joystick. Dell revealed its WebPC intentions in August and released it just in time for Christmas but several weeks behind Compaq's iPaq and Hewlett Packard's e-PC. The WebPC is more expensive than the $499 (£313) iPaq but equivalent to Gateway's cut-down PC, Astro. All the models are essentially dumb terminals designed for simple Internet access. The low price is achieved by cutting out many of the usual PC features such as a disc drive, CD-Rom or expansion ports. Dell believes it has an advantage over other systems, however, since it is marketing the WebPC solely at consumers. The PC will also incorporate two buttons: one will automatically connect the user to an online technical support and the other is a sleep button, similar to a TV's standby button. The WebPC will run on Windows 98 and can be ordered from Dell's site, but – alas – it won't be available in the UK until the first half of next year. ®
1 One day BT went to Ludgate Hill, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The operators of UK were told: "BT is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." 3 But BT lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the legislative constraints, and tore them loose. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Westminster. 4 Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Watchdog whose name was Oftel. 5 The rulers of the Operators went to her and said: "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels [approx £5m]." 6 So Oftel said to BT: "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued." 7 BT answered her: "If anyone ties me with seven fresh regulations that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man." 8 Then the rulers of the Operators brought her seven fresh regulations that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. 9 With men hidden in the room, she called to him: "BT, the Operators are upon you!" But he snapped the regulations as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered. 10 Then Oftel said to BT: "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied." 11 He said: "If anyone ties me securely with new regulations that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man." 12 So Oftel took new regulations and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him: "BT, the Operators are upon you!" But he snapped the regulations off his arms as if they were threads. 13 Oftel then said to BT: "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied." He replied: "If you weave the seven licences of my head into the bidding process and tighten it with the review, I'll become as weak as any other man." 14 So while he was sleeping, Oftel took the seven licences of his head and tightened them with the review. Again she called to him: "BT, the Operators are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the review and the bidding process, with the licences. 15 Then she said to him: "How can you say, 'I love you', when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me. 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. 17 So he told her everything. "No law has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Monopoly set apart to Profit since birth. If my local loops were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." 18 When Oftel saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Operators: "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Operators returned with the silver in their hands. 19 Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the local loops, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. 20 Then she called: "BT, the Operators are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought: "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LAW had left him... Editor's note: The text breaks off here. What the future holds, we can't be sure ®
TSMC-Acer Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp plans to increase production by 40 per cent by the fourth quarter of next year. The Taiwanese company said it aimed to up manufacture of wafers from the current 30,000 to 43,000 per month at its "TA-1" factory. This was based on using 200mm wafers. By product, this can be divided into 10,000 DRAMs, 5,000 flash memories and 28,000 logic LSIs per month, according to the AsiaBizTech newswire. This will be fuelled by a 21 billion yen investment ($0.2 billion) in operations. The company also outlined its longer-term expansion plans for its other plant, "TA-2". It aims for wafer manufacture at this site to reach 25,000 per month by the fourth quarter of 2001. Today Philips Semiconductors also unveiled its expanded facility in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, which will push production capacity at the MOS4 fab from 200,000 to 300,000 8 inch wafers per year. According to Philips: "We anticipated the timing of the upswing in the semiconductor industry and invested to increase our production capacity at the right time." Hence, the 250 million (£158 million) expansion. These moves are systematic of a market moving from a state of overcapacity to undercapacity, according to Joe D'Elia, senior microprocessor analyst at Dataquest Europe. "Everyone is looking to add capacity, and it is quicker to increase production capacity in an existing facility than to build a new one," said D'Elia. ® Related stories: Acer, TSMC to expand in Taiwan despite quake Acer Semi to merge with TSMC? Chip market showed steep decline in 1998
Hewlett-Packard today unveiled a deal with Amazon.com that will use the vendor's servers and technology for Amazon's Web infrastructure. As part of the agreement, HP will beef up its range of products sold through Amazon's consumer electronics store. The Seattle-based etailer will also start sourcing products directly from HP. Amazon said it had enlisted the help of HP as it was expecting demands on its systems to be three times greater this Christmas than in previous seasons. HP already sells its printers, scanners, digital cameras, PDAs and calculators through Amazon's site. The two companies said they had agreed to share the sales and advertising for the scheme. ® Related stories: HP issues profit warning
The case for cybersquatting has been strengthened further with the arrival of a satirical US site on George W Bush's presidential campaign. The site (which is really quite funny) contrasts Bush's pledges with his actual behaviour and stated views prior to the campaign. If ever there was democracy in action, this is it. While Bush has millions of dollars at his disposal to persuade America what a God-fearing demi-god he is, it takes only a domain name and a bit of imagination to give the other side of the story. Set up by a 29-year-old computer programmer, the site draws attention to the less-savoury aspects of Bush's past, including his cocaine use and sub-standard academic grades. George is none too pleased. When asked at a news conference what his opinion of the site was, he said it was produced by a "garbage man" and that "there ought to be limits to freedom" - not an ideal phrase in the Land of the First Amendment and a quote subsequently reprinted on bumper stickers available on the site (others include "GWBush: Born with a silver spoon up his nose" and "GWBush: Not a crackhead anymore!"). The Register frowns (or is that smirks?) at the lampooning of a such a public figure. If a famous man can't get immunity from criticism, who can? But apart from petitioning the site for using copyrighted pictures and text, there is little Bush lawyers can or want to do about the site. According to its owner Zack Exley he was asked to sell the domain by the Bush campaign. His suggestion of $300,000 was not accepted. This democratic use of cybersquatting was mirrored this week in the UK by a man with a grievance against toy store Toys 'R' Us. He registered the domain toys-r-us.co.uk and made clear that he wanted to discuss his ill treatment with the company's management. While cybersquatting has had a bad image in the past - with scoundrels making money out of vast conglomerates or porn sites revelling in sound alike public establishments - these two examples clearly demonstrate the table-turning that can be done in cyberspace. Sadly, cybersquatting is on a limited lifespan - companies have learnt their lesson and in the future are likely to buy up all obvious references to their main site. Plus it's getting harder to get any kind of domain name these days. Enjoy it while you can. ® Related items: Click here for the George Bush satirical site. Or here for the official site