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Topic 80 of 96: In the news of business and technology

Fri, Sep 22, 2000 (10:40) | (sprin5)
ronks@well.com has granted permission to reprint some of his sage comments on the business technical scene.
142 responses total.

 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 1 of 142:  (sprin5) * Fri, Sep 22, 2000 (10:40) * 20 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Fri Sep 22 '00 (08:29) 18 lines


Small Shops Succeeding On The Net

A recent study (oh boy, more statistics) of small businesses in downtown
commercial districts of older cities by the National Trust For Historic
Preservation shows that mom-and-pop retailers are benefiting from web sales
more than expected, and in many cases more than pure e-tailers. The survey
is not ideal because it focused on smaller cities where some downtown
revitalization was underway, so it might be skewed toward the optimistic,
but the findings are interesting nonetheless. About a sixth of the stores
polled were making sales over the Internet, on average one-seventh of their
sales volume. In-store sales were mostly flat, so their gains just about
equaled their web sales. Many of the stores are in niche markets like prom
dresses (timeforprom.com in Thomasville GA) or old movie soundtracks
(www.bsmusic.com in Montpelier VT) for whom the global exposure has been
significant. And with Amazon.com's network of alliances to small businesses
called zShops, the appearance of such stores on the Net is expected to grow.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 2 of 142:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec  7, 2000 (08:18) * 17 lines 
 

Internet Ad Companies, And Their Revenue, Shrink

DoubleClick let go over 150 employees, or about 7% of its staff, this week;
24/7 Media dumped 200 last month and Engage will boot 175. DoubleClick's
share price sank from $135 earlier this year to $12, while 24/7 went from
$65 to $1.28 and Engage slid from $95 to $1.72. Analysts say the falloff in
revenue is not just due to Internet merchants but includes traditional
advertisers as well. Even the good news in a report by AdRelevance which
says the number of retailers advertising on the Net quadrupled this year was
tempered by the remarkable statistic that the median number of times each ad
was seen dropped from 130,000 last year to 23,000. (I used to think it was
just a coincidence that my spell-checker keeps trying to change "dot-coms"
to "dot-comas"; now I wonder.)
.
- ronks



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 3 of 142:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec  7, 2000 (08:18) * 37 lines 
 
Creditors', Customers' Rights Conflict In Dot-com Bankruptcies

If an online business promises never to sell information on its clients and
then goes under, does the bankruptcy court have the right to treat its
customer list as an asset to be sold? Yes but, seems to be the emerging
answer from a number of cases to date. Creditors of the defunct toysmart.com
site reached an agreement with the FTC, state AGs, and consumer advocates
that any buyer "must be in a related business, must purchase the entire Web
site, and must agree not to resell the data without the customers'
permission". This is not a binding precedent, but it may point the way
toward future compromises; in the toysmart.com example it's not gone to
court because so far no buyers have appeared. Living.com, another e-flop,
has sold its customer data to Martha Stewart and to direct marketer Maxwell
Sroge (I wonder if he has a partner named Marley), with customers
theoretically given the right to "opt out". While customer lists are
regularly bought and sold in the offline world of merchandising, there seems
to be a much greater resistance to allowing the practice among e-businesses.


With Red Ink, A Nice Cabernet

A Santa Barbara winery called SecretCellars.com is offering a bottle of 1996
cabernet sauvignon (which they modestly value at $1500) to "the person who
in 100 words or less writes the saddest tale of an Internet firm gone sour".
The deadline is December 13, and so far 2300 entries have been received. My
favorite is the web designer who works now as an attendant at Bowl-0-Rama.
The winery's CEO says she is not trying to reap a benefit from others'
misfortunes, asserting that "I am not capitalizing on these poor schmucks
who couldn't figure out that spending money on company picnics was not the
way." Such compassion... Another e-business, findwhat.com, offers free
advertising to any dot-com with less than $1 million in cash and still
losing money, or who has announced layoffs and not raised any new funds.
They say they have received about 50 applications so far, but turned most
down for failure to meet the rules. Findwhat itself, with a stock price at
$1 down from $18 nine months ago, may be eligible; they might even win the
wine bottle.
- ronks


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 4 of 142:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec  7, 2000 (08:28) * 35 lines 
 

Covad Cuts

The Internet service provider will lay off about an eighth of its staff to
cut costs. They are also canceling the construction of a third operations
center planned for Georgia.


Dot-Coms Cut

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas released its figures on jobs
eliminated at Internet companies this year, totaling about 30,000 so far.

Month Jobs Cut
Jan 300
Feb 100
March 25
April 400
May 2400
June 1800
July 2100
Aug 4200
Sept 4800
Oct 5800
Nov 8800 (so far)


Discover Offers Single-Use Account Number

As a security feature akin to a single-use password, Discover cardholders
may soon be able to buy over the Internet using an account number good for
only a single transaction. The "Discovery Deskshop" service is said to
resemble Amex's "Private Payments" disposable-number system introduced
earlier this fall.
- ronks


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 5 of 142:  (sprin5) * Thu, Dec 21, 2000 (15:52) * 33 lines 
 
More of ronks stuff, he sure provides some good tech news.


More L&H Woes

A report commissioned by the audit committee of Belgian speech-recognition
software maker Lernout & Hauspie says a pervasive disregard of the rules led
to (among other things) overstating revenue by $277 million in the last 30
months. Besides recording sales before they had a contract, the company
also sometimes attached secret side letters to a contract which changed the
terms. The primary culprits were the US and South Korea offices and Belgian
HQ, including the two founders. Criminal prosecution is a possibility.


Sharps and Flats

The Sharp Corporation says it will offer a 20-inch flat-screen TV for about
$1960 next year, starting in Japan.


Travel Web Sites

A column for the business traveler lists some interesting and potentially
useful Web sites:
includes a clickable "Real-Time Airport Status" map
showing reported airport-level delays.
includes a "Flight Tracker" with flight status by
airline and number, including prospective arrival time if it's in the air.
has maps of airline terminals around the world, with info
on gate locations and ground transportation.
And lists the three-letter airport codes and
relates them to their cities.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 6 of 142:  (sprin5) * Mon, Jan  1, 2001 (21:38) * 45 lines 
 
ronks:

And the year after Chad...

Free ISP Era Ends

NetZero, Juno, and Bluelight have all dropped their policies of unlimited
Web access for everyone - everyone willing to endure a torrent of on-screen
advertising, that is. Caps on the number of hours per month, or charges for
usage beyond a fixed amount, and tiered pricing have replaced the all-you-
can-eat model, for two main reasons. One is the problem of a minority of
users who consume a disproportionate percentage of the ISPs' resources, with
some "using the service to run their business" according to Bluelight's CEO;
the other is a sharp decline in online advertising revenues that supported
the ISPs' business model. With 3.7 million active users between Juno and
NetZero, the companies are likely to stay around, but most likely with a
tiered pricing model, perhaps allowing low-volume users free access and
charging for a premium service with fewer ads and no limits.


Weight-Loss Gizmos Sprout At New Year

As sure as there are new year's resolutions, there will be inventions to
help achieve them with minimal effort. In the current crop:

A Wisconsin man received patent 6,024,678 for a non-electric vacuum cleaner
and exercise machine. You strap a tank on your back and attach special
shoes with bellows and springs, that are attached to the tank with tubes.
When you walk, or dance, or hop or whatever, the action of the bellows sucks
dirt from foot level up to the tank. It is "nearly silent during operation"
except for puffing and grunting sounds of the operator.

Three guys from Montana got patent 6,042,508 for a dumbbell that is also a
TV-VCR remote, to deal with the situation in which "valuable exercise time
is lost" while changing channels. Evidently it differs from a remote taped
to a brick in some way that makes it new.

A New York woman has invented a stairstep machine you can use in the shower.

And Yoshikata Yamamoto of Japan received patent 6,118,064 for "a karaoke
machine that can calculate and announce how many calories have been consumed
for each song." It can be set to total an entire evening's warbles, or
individual songs. However, it should probably not be used while vacuuming
in the shower.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 7 of 142:  (sprin5) * Mon, Jan 15, 2001 (18:15) * 44 lines 
 
More hot items from the awesome ronks



More Bits On The Way

According to a study at UC Berkeley, people and computers will create more
data in the next three years than in the preceding 300,000. Admittedly, the
study was sponsored by data storage company EMC, and the definition of data
is unclear (remember Thoreau's observation "Much is published, little
printed"). What is the resolution of a cave painting, anyway? EMC itself
opines that storage expenses will amount to 70 percent of IT department
budgets by 2005, and that the volume it will be able to fit into "shoebox-
size devices" by then (though they don't say how many boxes or what size
shoes) would in the 1950's have required "an area the size of Argentina".


SDMI Hacked By Princeton Prof; Sshhh...

Edward Felten, a witness at the Microsoft trial, accepted a music industry
challenge to defeat the technology used in the Secure Music Digital
Initiative, and he says he and his colleagues have succeeded. But he can't
say how, because the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it a
crime to "offer to the public" a means of evading such security algorithms.
So you'll just have to take his word for it.


Another Aggregator Packs It In

MobShop is getting out of consumer group buying, to focus solely on B2B.
With its announcement continues the rout that led Mercata, Priceline, and
LetsBuyIt to fold. An analyst observes of the carnage "Consumers never
warmed to the aggregated buy concept; what was missing was a better sense of
affiliation, like group buying for Harley riders." I wonder if cheapbeer.com
is taken.


Waldos Patented

Reader of Robert Heinlein stories should remember those; actually I thought
the gizmos already existed, but anyway two southern California inventors got
patent 6,049,327 for "a glove made of closely fitting elastic embedded with
motion sensors" that transmits hand and finger movement to a computer for
processing.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 8 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Tue, Jan 23, 2001 (15:15) * 1 lines 
 
FuckedCompany.com is a good place for dot-com tales of woe. Very enjoyable :) The Register also has good tech-biz news.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 9 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Tue, Jan 23, 2001 (15:19) * 1 lines 
 
Oh, and the perfect anti-dote to all dot-com craziness is this site.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 10 of 142:  (sprin5) * Tue, Jan 23, 2001 (19:03) * 1 lines 
 
Dot coms are biting the dust, sure, but the internet industry as a whole is still soaring. The big growth is in existing companies use of the internet, not companies that are only an internet presence or website but no backroom to back it up.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 11 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus  (terry) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (07:55) * 3 lines 
 
Im on my palm pilot 183 at Cameron Rd. Lucent laid off a lot of folks. anb netpliance is in danger of being delisted by the nasdaq .im at a stoplight listening to am radio.

practicing my palm speedwriting


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 12 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (11:59) * 3 lines 
 
nerd

:-)


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 13 of 142:  (sprin5) * Wed, Jan 24, 2001 (13:46) * 1 lines 
 
Those stoplights get pretty long in the morning, so I whipped out my PalmPilot and tryied a new browser program I downeloaded the day before.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 14 of 142:  (sprin5) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (07:58) * 16 lines 
 

Mister Kerbango, He Dead

Seeking to hack its way out of the heart of financial darkness (OK, enough
of the Joseph Conrad shtick) 3Com plans major cutbacks, including the demise
of an "Internet radio device" called Kerbango, and Audrey, "the company's
short-lived kitchen-countertop Internet appliance". 3Com also plans a third
round of layoffs in a year and de-emphasis of its high-speed modem line in
order to concentrate on corporate and wireless networking equipment. CEO
Bruce Claflin says he expects to reduce the company's operating losses to
zero, or even turn a profit, by May; losses have been running about $225
million a quarter.


from ronks@well.com
Ron Sipherd


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 15 of 142:  (sprin5) * Fri, Mar 23, 2001 (07:58) * 18 lines 
 
More from ronks, the tidbitmaster.

Bogus VeriSign Digital Certificates Issued - By VeriSign

An impostor posing as a Microsoft employee tricked VeriSign into issuing two
digital certificates that would enable him to electronically sign files,
including executable programs, as if they originated from Microsoft. The
certificates were issued on January 29 and 30, and users are advised to
watch out for them since no valid MS certificates were issued on those days.
Microsoft hopes to make available shortly a program to check for them which
can be downloaded from their Web site. (Or a Web site that claims to be
theirs anyway.) Mahi deSilva, VeriSign's vice president and general manager
of applied trust services says his company can still be relied on because
"we found this problem. We've been very proactive about communicating this
problem to the various authorities." Yeah, right. He also claims "the
person who got the certificates had a sophisticated knowledge of ways to try
to fool VeriSign", perhaps like giving a Seattle phone number.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 16 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Sun, Mar 25, 2001 (03:15) * 1 lines 
 
Yes, I heard about that. Most amusing. Makes you wonder how many other digital certificates out there are bogus...


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 17 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, May  3, 2001 (14:43) * 170 lines 
 
ronks:

YAWS - Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Untethered

Yet Another Wireless Standard has entered the ether derby; Atheros
Communications plans to announce its implementation of 802.11a, which
promises up to 73 megabits per second bandwidth over the 5 gigahertz
frequency. It is not to be confused with the equally euphonious 802.11b
standard, which offers up to 11 Mbits/sec in the 2.4 GHz range, and now
likes to be called "Wi-Fi" in "an effort to sound consumer friendly". The
Standard Formerly Known As 802.11b is said to lead the market despite news
of how easy it is to eavesdrop on. Also in the running is Bluetooth, named
for an obscure Viking but falling behind after Microsoft decided not to
include it in Windows XP. And another called HomeRF, once an Intel entry
but now slipping. (All of these are described as incompatible with one
another, of course.) Continuing, we find another member of the 802.11
family called 802.11G which is faster than and intended to be compatible
with little brother b. Come back here, we're not done yet; Europe shows its
independence with yes, another incompatible standard called HiperLAN, and I
haven't even mentioned the cellular standards 2.5G and 3G, which offer up to
64 Kbits per second. Gentlemen, start your protocols.


Web Radio Stations Shut Down Over Royalties

Clear Channel Communications has stopped streaming the broadcast of 381
radio stations it owns and about 120 others owned by various companies have
followed suit after the AFTRA union notified them its members were entitled
to three times their original fees if commercials they appeared in were
broadcast on the Internet. Another show-stopper is the issue of how much
compensation is due to record companies (that again) under the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act; the Copyright Office has not yet decided what the
law calls for, and payments may be retroactive to 1998. Until the setback,
Web radio was growing rapidly from 56 stations in 1996 to 5500 this spring.


Dot-Com Bust, The Movie

A film-making roommate of the CEO of GovWorks.com, an Internet startup that
went from zero to 250 employees in one year and from 250 to zero the next,
has teamed up with D. A. Pennebaker to produce "Startup.com" based on her
voluminous cinema-verite recordings of the birth and death of the company.
Release date is scheduled for May 11.


Digital Communications Patented

Patent number 6,222,465 was awarded to Senthil Kumar and Jakub Segen for a
system of cameras and software "for using free-form hand gestures to command
a computer". OK, who out there has *not* from time to time used free-form
hand gestures directed at their computer? Didn't think so. Well, now it
will supposedly read and interpret the command, though it may display "I'm
sorry sir but I can't physically do that".


http://www.blug.linux.no/rfc1149/


MarchFirst Meets Chapter Seven

After it filed last month for a Chapter 11 reorganization under bankruptcy
court protection, the Internet consulting firm has been selling off assets
to the point where a major unsecured creditor threatened to hold its
officers and directors personally liable if they continued the fire sale.
So the CFO has quit and the company has decided to liquidate itself formally
under a Chapter 7 proceeding; it has already let go 3,450 employees or half
its staff.


Quote Of The Day

Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, addressing winners of an
economic-policy contest for high school students: "Remember, if you are
practicing to be a central banker - you do not smile."



Loudcloud Lowers Volume

The company had 74 employees in January, rose to 629 last month, and will
boot 122 as the result of a cash shortage. It plans to seek additional
savings "through the reduction of a variety of headcount-related and
discretionary expense items". How great to work for a company that refers
to its staff as "headcount-related items".


Micron Out Of PC Business

Micron has apparently tried and failed to find a buyer for its PC division,
unprofitable despite its $1 billion a year revenue; it wants to concentrate
on Web site operations. (I thought it was also a big chip maker, but that's
not mentioned.) Anyway they dumped the division on a turnaround group to
spiff up and resell; Micron paid them $70 million to take it away, but may
recoup if the operation is later sold at a profit.


Dell Beats Apple In Education Market

But Steve Jobs is fighting back, with a new light (4.9 lbs.) laptop for
$1300 (a photo shows him tossing it in the air, Not A Good Example for bored
students) and a plan to introduce wireless networks in schools for use with
portable computers.



Microsoft Exec Denounces Open Source

Admittedly seeing the open-source movement represented by Linux and the like
as a threat to its hopes of moving up into the corporate server market,
Microsoft SVP Craig Mundie says the company is planning "a broad campaign"
to discredit it (and sow FUD). Their primary target of opportunity is the
General Public License, or GPL, which is one aspect of open-source and
requires the licensee to make freely available the source code of any
software created using licensed open programs. (E.g., if you write a utility
based on say Linux you would share the source code for it). Mr. Mundie says
"the viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of
any organization making use of it"; this is a follow-up to remarks by Jim
Allchin of MS that legislators should be aware of the threat that free
distribution of code poses to software innovation (and should presumably
outlaw it or something). Mr. Mundie seems to want it both ways; he says
Allchin is right *and* that MS already practices "the best aspects of the
open-source model" because its "shared-source philosophy" allows hardware
and software developers to see the code (with perhaps a few restrictions).
Besides the dreaded GPL which Eric Raymond of the Open Source Initiative
says is the one controversial aspect of the movement, Mr. Mundie also cites
the horrors of Unix which has split into different incompatible versions due
to the lack of an iron proprietary fist. His unspoken target corporate
target seems to be IBM, which has embraced Linux; an IBM VP replied "If we
thought this [GPL] was a trap we wouldn't be doing it, and as you know we
have a lot of lawyers."


Scientologists Sue

It's not that again. The co-founder of the Earthlink ISP is a member of the
CoS, and a bunch of people in the next pew claim he bilked them out of over
$35 million with fraudulent investment schemes like a day-trading program
that would produce 60%-plus annual returns. Reed Slatkin is accused of
collecting over $300 million from them; it seems to have disappeared, since
his attorney, a "Santa Monica criminal lawyer" (I think that means here that
he handles criminal cases), says he will "file for financial reorganization"
this week, which sounds like bankruptcy.


VC Investments Plummet

A precipitous drop in venture capital funding for startups occurred between
the last quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001 according to surveys.
One shows the figure falling from $17 billion to $10 B, another puts it at
$20.5 B down to $12 B, about a forty percent decline in three months.
Analysts are now starting to think of the year 2000 spending as an "anomaly"
that will skew comparisons for the future.


Another Online Ad Agency Tanks

Hook Media was founded three years ago, and expanded from Boston to Atlanta
and New York; at the end of last year, they were planning to expand to
Chicago and LA. No more. They just filed for Chapter 11, but their
reorganization consists of selling the company's assets to a larger firm.
The company's CEO blamed "one of our larger clients having financial
difficulties"; candidates are PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Blue Cross of
Massachusetts, and EMC, a disk-drive maker. Things are so bad according to
the article that when another ad agency had phone problems for a day,
clients who couldn't reach them figured they had gone out of business.

:e
:e
.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 18 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Sun, May  6, 2001 (10:49) * 14 lines 
 
Web Radio Stations Shut Down Over Royalties


The DMCA is the biggest screw-up your country ever made, sadly.


Dot-Com Bust, The Movie


Mmmm...I'll enjoy watching that go Straight-to-Video ;-)))


Things are so bad according to
the article that when another ad agency had phone problems for a day,
clients who couldn't reach them figured they had gone out of business


*huge grins*



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 19 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, May  9, 2001 (23:25) * 107 lines 
 
Dragon Systems Seeks Comeback

AD 2000 was The Year Of The Dragon, but it was not a good one for the maker
of speech-recognition software. Founders James and Janet Baker sold their
company to rival Lernout & Hauspie for $600 million in stock. Unfortunately
L&H stock has not been the wisest of investments; Messrs. Lernout and
Hauspie have been ordered not to leave the country (Belgium in this case)
while charges of fraud and stock manipulation are investigated, L&H has
filed for bankruptcy, and the price of a share has declined a bit; from
$72.50 to 63 cents. Dragon Systems as a subsidiary has basically been
gutted, with 2/3 of its staff let go, development at a standstill, and
tumbleweeds blowing down the corridors past the empty cubicles. What's left
of it may be sold off to raise money to pay L&H's debts; the Bakers have
hired David Boies to either retrieve the available bits of the company, or
to get the earlier merger reversed. Chances aren't too good at this point.


Napster, Meet Aimster

The new service is also a form of peer-to-peer file sharing, but the
software from Above Peer Inc. is for users of AOL Instant Messaging (hence
the name) to swap files of all kinds including music, and it lacks a central
directory which was sort of Napster's legal Achilles heel. The company is
pre-emptively suing the RIAA for a declaration that the service does not
violate copyright laws, after the RIAA threatened to sue them.


Digital Signature ID To Be Built Into Microsoft Products

Windows, Office, and other MS software will include a user-identification
facility called Identrus, developed by a consortium of banks. Identrus
relies on digital signatures for users; the banks will issue the electronic
identity certificates. The software has been available for a while, but
incorporating it into an application is said to be made easier with the MS
adoption of the standard.



"IBM Develops New Method for Making LCDs"
Reuters (05/03/01)

IBM has developed a new way to position the liquid crystals used in liquid
crystal displays, a feat IBM scientist Praveen Chaudhari says is the "Holy
Grail" of flat-panel display manufacturing. In the new technique, atoms
are beamed at a sheet of carbon to line up the atoms in rows, upon which
liquid crystal particles attach. The older method, developed 95 years ago,
required using velvet to put the atoms in place, resulting in flaws
difficult to detect. IBM says the new method will result in lower
production costs and better picture resolution.




RLX (formerly Rocketlogix) are announcing a new line of Transmeta
Crusoe-based low-power webservers today, and IBM will resell them.



The RLX can pack up to 24 *complete web servers* into a 3U chassis, which
needs only eight fans total. The servers come on hot-pluggable blades
(Linux blades will reportedly run about $1,500 - 2,200 and Windows from
1,700 - 2,400, while the chassis will be around $2,600), and will be
available either pre-configured or build-to-order.

Transmeta's on a mini-roll; Toshiba's new Libretto laptop models will use
Crusoe CPUs as well. OTOH the company's stock sank 24% yesterday, when the
IPO lockup period expired and people were free to sell shares.

Reuters says 675 cuts at Exodus, 15% of workforce.

http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010509/tc/tech_exodus_dc.html

US Home Internet Access Declines

In a first since records began to be kept on this in 1980, the number of
American households with Internet access declined in the quarter ending
March 31, according to Telecommunications Reports International. The reason
given is "the failure of the free Internet service provider as a viable
business model"; subscribers to free ISPs fell over 19 percent, leading to
an overall drop of 0.25% to 68.5 million US home subscribers of all ISPs.


EMachines For Sale

The company as well as the hardware. The PC maker says it is the third-
largest seller of home computers in retail stores, but its plans to offer
ads on inexpensive machines and sell Internet services have not worked out
as hoped, so it's looking for a buyer.


Cray In The Black

Supercomputer maker Cray Inc. showed a quarterly net profit of $3 million,
compared with last year's first quarter loss of $8 million.


Red Sky At Night

Execs at Internet ad agency Red Sky seem to be making a dash for the exits.
Evidently within days of one another, the CEO and chairman, the chief
financial officer, the SVP for sales, the SVP for client services and
production, and an EVP with the Orwellian title of "chief people officer"
have all quit. Remaining amidst the wreckage are the "chief strategic
officer" and the "chief technology officer"; and the "chief operating
officer and president", who has been promoted to acting CEO. The fate of
the Chief Officer In Charge Of Fancy Titles and Silly Walks was undisclosed.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 20 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, May 10, 2001 (23:47) * 29 lines 
 
ronks@well.com:


Jury Finds Rambus Patent Fraud

The holder of patents on high-speed memory sued Infineon Technologies for
infringement, and Infineon countersued. A Federal court jury found that
Rambus had obtained patents based on "information from an industry standards
group"; the judge in the case thereupon dismissed the patent claims. Rambus
says it will appeal, though generally a jury's findings of fact are not
reversed by higher courts.


Microstrategy's Auditor Settles; Avant's Is Fired

PriceWaterhouseCoopers has agreed to pay $51 million plus interest for
certifying the company's financial reports in 1999, before they read in a
Forbes article that the numbers were wrong. They were restated from a $13
million profit to a $34 M loss; earlier years' claimed profits also turned
to losses under inspection. The company made headlines in March 2000 when
its CEO Michael Saylor announced plans to fund an Internet university to
provide "free education for everyone on earth forever". Mr. Saylor learned
a lot himself since then, as the price of a share sank from $333 to $1.75.
Meanwhile in Fremont CA, KPMG warned the board of software maker Avant that
it lacked controls to determine the accuracy of its financial statements.
Avant then fired KPMG as its auditor; a spokesman says there is "no
connection" between the two events.




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 21 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, May 14, 2001 (14:17) * 65 lines 
 
ronks:


Intel Gets Bigger

Within a couple of months, they will start increasing the size of the
"wafer", the round silicon-plus plate that circuits are etched on, from 200
millimeters diameter to 300 mm (roughly from 8 inches across to 12). The
greater size will permit almost twice as many chips to be produced per
wafer, saving an estimated 30 percent in manufacturing costs. Intel will
need to save: costs to them for the new technology are estimated at $7.5
billion in capital expense plus $4.2 B in R&D (over an unstated period of
time). Wafer-size history: in the 1960's it was about the size of a quarter;
Intel pioneered the move to 150-mm wafers in the 1980's, and IBM led the way
to 200 mm in 1994. This time the leader is Siemens/Infineon and Motorola in
a venture called Semiconductor300. The leader usually has to pick up the
tab for the initial fabrication technology, which is probably why Intel and
IBM were happy to let someone else go first this time.


Internet Gets Bigger

Cisco Systems is expected to announce today the commercial availability of
new router software to handle IP version 6. The current protocol, IPv4,
merely provides for about 4 billion unique Internet addresses; with every
subatomic particle from here to Alpha Centauri needing its own address, that
is plainly inadequate. Kludges like Network Address Translation (NAT) have
staved off address-space disaster so far but Cisco estimates it will hit the
wall in about 9 years. Implementation of IPv6 is another matter; one analyst
notes that "until the ISPs feel the pain, they aren't going to do anything".


Internet Gets Useful

Until now, the global network has merely offered information and the promise
of wealth, knowledge, and sex (of the pictorial variety anyway). However
patent 6,229,430, awarded to Mary Smith Dewey of Dallas, offers to use the
Internet to provide sleep! The miracle device consists of a clock, a
keypad, a modem, and a CPU chip. How it works is you program it for things
like traffic and weather conditions that would make you get up earlier or
later than usual (which you have to tell the gizmo, along with how much
earlier or later, etc.) Let's say it's snowing, evidently a frequent problem
in Dallas since that's the example Ms. Dewey cites. The invention would
wake you at a predefined earlier time so you could plow your way into work -
except suppose that means the airport is closed and your flight has been
cancelled, this machine would know not to rouse you for the futile effort
and let you snooze in some more. Similarly it would (somehow) monitor
traffic reports to determine the amount of delay on Highway ###, to see if
it should nudge you up a bit sooner. Sound good? Well, there is a dark
price to be paid for this blessing: the diabolical Ms. Dewey notes in her
application that "advertising may be substituted for the alarm signal".


E-Caps Offered

If you think the drive for more Internet address space is pressing, it's
nothing compared to man's quest for a new place to advertise (see clock
story above). A firm from media center Winnipeg, Manitoba offers hubcaps
that don't move and you can print ads on. Well, of course they move when
the car does, don't be silly, I mean they don't appear to rotate but instead
stay with one side up so the ad remains readable to dogs and very short
people stepping off the curb. They're 17 inches in diameter, 50 LA taxicabs
are presently so adorned with an option for another 150, and they are
apparently called E-Caps because that sounds trendy in Winnipeg.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 22 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, May 17, 2001 (07:12) * 37 lines 
 




Brits Buy Island

London-based Cable and Wireless just bought San Francisco Web host Digital
Island for $291 million cash plus taking over $49 M of their debt. C&W can
afford it, with $4.2 billion in cash from recent divestments.


AMD Numbering Leap

The chip-maker announced the Athlon 4 for laptops. Rival Intel's Pentium 4
is presently available only for desktop computers and is not expected to be
offered for mobile uses till 2002. This remarkable feat was accomplished by
jumping from the Athlon straight to the Athlon 4; there is no Athlon 2 or 3.
It is not clear if Intel's next chip will be the Pentium 99999999999999999.


Rogue Domains At Large

Still on the name game, Prodigy has partnered with a registry called New.net
to offer their own top-level domains like .free, .shop, and .sports that are
not approved by ICANN. Since nobody else recognizes them, you have to
either use special software or one of their partner ISPs.


IBM Claims Openness

They say their new release of middleware (DB2, Lotus, Tivoli, and WebSphere)
will follow "open standards" that permit connection to other software that
plays by the same rules. So, DB2 is middleware now; who'd a thunk it.


ronks



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 23 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, May 18, 2001 (07:27) * 22 lines 
 
ronks again!



Microsoft Appoints CXO

A new title has been created to join the ranks of Chief Executive Officer,
Chief Operating, Chief Financial, etc. Robbie Bach, described as the
company's "Chief Xbox Officer", announced that the new game machine would be
available in the US starting November 8, in time for the Christmas rush,
listing at $300. They expect to have ~700,000 ready to put under the tree
by that time, with 15-20 games written to run on them.


That Ain't Chopped Liver

George Shaheen, the former Webvan head (CWO? Big Cheese?) who lasted only 18
months at the "beleaguered company", will receive $375,000 a year for the
rest of his life in accordance with a deal made when he joined the online
grocer in 1999. The company says it will "honor our commitment", though he
may end up taking those clams in the form of stale Oreos if the company
doesn't pick up soon.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 24 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, May 18, 2001 (07:29) * 13 lines 
 
ronks@well.com
Ron Sipherd

Host of the Business and Technology (biztech or bt) conference on the WELL.

Author of WDL, a Windows batch facility for Well access

Day job:
automation and communications project management
software license drafting and negotiation

Ron has given us permission to quote his great business tidbits, and it's a great service. Thanks Ron!
!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 25 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, May 23, 2001 (12:45) * 36 lines 
 
ronks:



Speechless

Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products plans to either sell its "speech and
language technology" to satisfy creditors who are owed about $500 million,
or spin off a new company owning the assets to the creditors. L&H's staff
and the remnants of Dragon Systems will be included in the divestiture; what
will actually remain of L&H afterwards is unclear. Some swivel chairs and
filing cabinets, maybe.


CA Boils The Books Some More

Computer Associates has gone to "pro forma" accounting in publishing its
financial reports, which basically means they set the rules. Since they
also have to publish figures in accordance with the generally accepted
accounting principles (GAAP) mandated by the SEC, the comparison shows how
they are trying to make themselves look good. The company also acknowledges
that its new figures include $658 million in revenue they credited twice,
and that their pro forma rules allow them to book revenue from a long-term
contract in any quarter they choose, perhaps to beef up a weak one just
ahead of a new stock offering. The figures below are in millions, for the
fiscal years ended March 31:

This Last Last Last
Year's Year's Year's Year's
Profit Profit Sales Sales

Pro Forma 931 787 5600 5300

GAAP 95 1800 4200 6100




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 26 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, May 24, 2001 (10:40) * 50 lines 
 
ronks never fails to come up with interesting stuff.

This guy is amazing.



Where Home Pages Go To Die

We all know that the Graveyard Of The Atlantic is, um, somewhere in the
Atlantic Ocean most likely, but how many know about the Museum of E-Failure?
Where the corpses of boo.com, eve.com, Kozmo, PlanetRx and others remain
like Lenin preserved for eternity (in Internet time this is about a week,
though the MoE-F may continue at least till the owner loses interest).
Archaeologists of e-commerce may visit
according to the article for defunct pages and some that are put in a
"protective zoo" or e-hospice against their impending demise, such as
APBNews.com and NBCi.com. The creator of the sepulchre is a Yonkers
programmer who once worked for Time's Pathfinder service and observes if he
didn't save dead Web sites, "there's no proof I actually did anything."


Just Add Water

Borrowing a technique from mainframes, IBM has introduced a water cooler to
some of its laptop models. Not the kind people stood around in 50's office
movies to trade gossip but a little tiny water-filled radiator inside the
case. Now that laptop processors generate over 25 watts, using them on
one's lap without a padded apron has become uncomfortable if not hazardous,
so the higher heat-carrying capacity of water over air is expected to make
the units more efficient at dissipating waste therms. The radiators are
powered solely by convection, so no fan is required and they run quieter
than their air-breathing cousins. IBM also claims the amount of water used
in their A20, A21, and T20 models is so small that you don't need to add
antifreeze in the winter.


Razorfish Lawsuit Dropped

A Federal court judge in New York dismissed a class-action suit against the
Internet consulting firm that claimed it inflated share prices with false
info on i-Cube, a company it bought out two years ago. Plaintiffs may still
proceed I think but without the class-action big bucks incentive.


Dell Goes To War

James Vanderslice, Dell's president (and presumably commander-in-chief),
says the PC maker is in a "full-scale price war to increase market share".
Prices for components are falling about 1 percent a week, and the benefits
will be passed on to buyers within 3 days he says.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 27 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, May 25, 2001 (13:59) * 21 lines 
 
ronks, the busy techie:


Be Very Afraid

Buried in an announcement that Lockheed and Microsoft will collaborate on
bids for government e-mail and e-commerce systems was the statement that
Microsoft is developing the software for the US Navy's "next nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier". When that baby BSODs, look out. Maybe they will station
it in Madagascar. (Maybe it will just go there by mistake and run aground.)


Covad Sinking

The ISP delayed release of its annual financial statement for three months,
for unspecified reasons. One of them may have been to put off the news that
they lost $1.4 billion in the year; they also reduced previously published
numbers for earlier quarters. They say their auditors doubt if they can
remain in business; a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon people
begin to wonder.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 28 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, May 31, 2001 (21:16) * 20 lines 
 
ronks:


Outpost Bought Out

New Hampshire based PC Connection (is that the company with the raccoon in
its ads?) has bought the former Cyberian Outpost in a stock swap for an
undetermined amount based on a formula involving the Outpost's sales in the
next three months and the average price of PCC stock for the ten days before
the close of the deal.


TLC and Dragon Deal

The Learning Company of Novato will sell speech products Dragon Naturally-
Speaking and L&H's Voice Express in the US and Canada, under a deal that
requires bankruptcy court approval. The two products are said to represent
"the majority of the $35 million retail market for speech recognition
software".



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 29 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jun  4, 2001 (15:49) * 46 lines 
 

Windows XP A Hacker's Paradise?

The UC San Diego Supercomputer Center reports the number of "distributed
denial of service attacks" in which a hacker takes over other PCs and uses
them as zombies to flood a target site with spurious but time- and
bandwidth-consuming requests is growing. During a three-week period in
February, the center recorded 13,000 such attacks against 5,000 sites, with
about 40 active at any time; while 90 percent lasted less than an hour, 2%
extended for days or weeks. The center estimates it recorded only about
half of the actual number of such attacks, which have numerous variants and
for which instructions are available on the Web. Steve Gibson of Gibson
Research suggests the new Net-centric Windows XP will create "a powerful
network communications standard that attackers could widely exploit",
especially with more users online all the time on DSL and cable modems. (The
article doesn't say if Mr. G thinks the XP standards are vulnerable or if
the popularity of Windows will just offer a large pool of similar targets.)
The manager of Microsoft's Security Response Center says XP will have built-
in features to prevent the zombization of PCs running it.


Microsoft and AOL Negotiate - Or Don't

Depending on who you ask and the time of day, corporate titans MS and AOL
either are or are not talking about settling their licensing and legal
concerns with each other. At one time last week it looked like both parties
had given up over Microsoft's demand that AOL not challenge it over
antitrust issues but they seem to have cooled off and started talking again.
Talks began when AOL's license to use Internet Explorer expired a few months
ago, but they have lots of other items on the menu. Viz., AOL wants a
featured spot on the Windows XP desktop and needs to come to terms with IE
even though it owns Netscape (a Web browser popular back in the twentieth
century). AOL also wants to be a player, or at least not a victim, of
Microsoft's new .Net and Hailstorm consumer-commerce initiatives. MS has a
wish list of its own, of course, besides an antitrust "get out of jail free"
Monopoly card. They want to pry open the clamshell known as AOL Instant
Messaging standards so MSN Messenger can interact with it, and they want to
add Windows Media Player to RealPlayer and other formats supported by AOL.
AOL recently dropped plans for a direct assault on the Windows citadel with
the "AOL PC", a cheap computer running GNU-Linux with a graphic user
interface by the now-defunct Eazel Inc. software developer.


"zombization" I like that.

ronks


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 30 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jun  5, 2001 (16:59) * 52 lines 
 
ronks again:

So MS has not actually described those "other security measures that prevent
DDoS clients from taking advantage of the openness of their sockets code"?
That's expecting people to take a lot on faith, which is not a good way to
run a security operation IMHO.


Napster Near Deal With Record Companies

MusicNet is a consortium of AOL Time Warner, BMG, EMI, and RealNetworks.
They are said to be working out the details of a contract to license their
music to Napster in Real format so long as Napster maintains some specified
security level to ensure consumers don't hear notes they haven't paid for.
The deal would also bar Napster from cutting a deal with MusicNet's enemy
Duet, a Sony-Vivendi Universal partnership. A potential obstacle is the
songwriters, who "want higher royalty rates on digital music than CD's."


Data Storage Standards Developed

Yet another consortium, this time a subset of hardware makers called the
Storage Networking Industry Association, is putting together a set of
standards to let users mix storage equipment on a system. Sun, who has not
been invited to participate for some reason, says they have no details on
the plan. Neither did the author of the story evidently, which is pretty
vague on what the need is or how it will be met.


Microsoft Tries To Enlist Press Against FSF

Seeking to use reporters as a sort of fifth column against the Free Software
Foundation, the company sent them three pages of questions it wanted them to
ask Richard Stallman who gave a talk at the NYU B-school last week. Sample
loaded question: "Does the all-or-nothing viral approach of the GPL [the
FSF's framework license] severely limit business flexibility?" It's unclear
if MS also wanted reporters to ask Mr. Stallman if he had stopped having
carnal relations with barnyard animals.


Quote Of The Day

Not exactly a response to the planted MS queries but still a nice riposte,
FSF general counsel and Columbia law professor Eben Moglen: "Microsoft,
which used to say all the time that the software business was ruthlessly
competitive, is now matched against a competitor whose model of production
and distribution is so much better that Microsoft stands no chance of
prevailing in the long run. They're simply trying to scare people out of
dealing with a competitor they can't buy, can't intimidate, and can't stop."
Incidentally, the IDC research firm reports that users of GNU-Linux rose
from 1000 nine years ago to 9 million last year.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 31 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun  6, 2001 (13:16) * 28 lines 
 


New Covad CEO Fights Doom

In what the article colorfully calls "a desperate attempt to stave off
financial doom", Covad appointed a new president. He has to deal with an
unexpected $1.44 billion loss last year (a billion here, a billion there,
where did it all go), a still-pending delay in announcing last quarter's
results, and a possible Nasdaq delisting. Doom indeed.


Amazon.com puter

The former bookstore that now sells toys, hard drives, and air compressors
will offer PCs in a few months. Unlike books, Amazon won't maintain an
inventory of them but will instead have a distributor ship them. This
"virtual inventory" approach hasn't worked out for other retailers like
Buy.com, but it's been a winner for make-to-order manufacturers like Dell.


Microsoft Takes Aim At AIM

AOL Instant Messaging is the target of the new Windows Messenger due to ship
with Windows XP this fall. MS says it will allow the sharing of documents
(like NetMeeting?), transmission of audio and video files, and even remote
access to other PC's. Copyright issues? Security concerns? Hahahahaha...

ronks, of course


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 32 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun  6, 2001 (13:17) * 1 lines 
 
Sounds like Windows Messenger is a repackaged Netmeeting.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 33 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jun  8, 2001 (11:02) * 30 lines 
 

Virtual Storage Indeed

Myspace.com had 7.5 million registered and 2.2 M active users for its free
online storage service when it vanished from cyberspace four days ago. The
CEO of the SF firm says it gave users e-mail notice six days earlier, but
some say they saw nothing until they tried to visit the site and 404'ed.
While Xdrive, i-drive, and FreeDrive remain, rival Driveway shut down four
months ago for consumers, to focus on paid storage for businesses.


Baby Domains Offered

A domain name registry offers a free domain name for infants born at Redwood
City's Sequoia Hospital through the end of the year. Presumably some older
relative needs to contact www.namezero.com to take advantage of the offer
unless the neonate is exceptionally precocious, though the hospital is in a
high-tech region. Jason.com and heather.com are probably taken already, so
if you want to be sure you might name it Torquemada or something.


Chips Drop

The Semiconductor Industry Association says global chip sales should fall
14% from last year to a piddling $175 billion, as buyers work off a glut
from last year in a slow economy. Still not all is gloom: the SIA says 2002
sales should be up 21%, and another 25% in 2003. Perhaps after hearing the
news, TI shut two Dallas plants with 1800 workers for one to three weeks.

ronks. Who else?


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 34 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jun  8, 2001 (23:24) * 25 lines 
 
ronks (Ron Sipherd):


AT&T Dumps Microsoft

Despite a $5 billion investment by Microsoft, AT&T has abandoned plans to
use their software for interactive TV. For 18 months or more, the hardware
(240,000 DCT-5000 set-top units) has been sitting in warehouses waiting for
MS to develop the code to run it, and it apparently is still not ready; AT&T
may convert the boxes to run as simple digital TV units and abandon the
interactive concept altogether, to promote instead a variety of Internet
services to cable boxes, PCs, and other gizmos. Microsoft's $5 B investment
is now worth $1.1 B; boo hoo. Meanwhile Steve Ballmer says he has found a
customer for his company's interactive TV software, namely TV Cabo Portugal.
Well, it's a start...


NetZero, Juno Merge

Described as "the two biggest providers of free Internet access", the ISPs
account for 7 million subscribers, and the combined firm will be the second
largest ISP, after AOL Time Warner. Both companies will become subsidiaries
of a new corporation called United Online Inc.




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 35 of 142: Marcia  (MarciaH) * Fri, Jun  8, 2001 (23:44) * 1 lines 
 
Wow!! that will be impressive . Had heard that AT&T was not going in with MS on that interactive TV deal. I don't think Bill Gates will be filing for welfare this week, however!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 36 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jun 18, 2001 (16:07) * 60 lines 
 
From the article: "In a conference call yesterday [June 15] with stock
analysts, Mr. Roth [Joe Roth, Nortel CEO] revealed a troubling finding for
Nortel's business and the industry in general. The company calculates that
Internet traffic, which has climbed sharply in recent years, declined
slightly in the most recent quarter, Mr. Roth said."


What If They Built A Network And No One Came?

In the 1870's after the Civil War, the easy availability of cheap capital
led to a rapid expansion in railroad track mileage in the absence of
corresponding demand. Often the entrepreneurs built lines to towns and paid
no attention to how customers would get goods between the station and their
homes and businesses. After a few years, the bubble burst and it took
nearly a decade for the market and the economy to recover. Fast-forward 130
years: companies have spent $35 billion to lay 100 million miles of fiber-
optic lines around the world even though only about 10 percent of US
residences have high-speed links. Only 5% of installed fiber is "lit" and
the remainder is unused. So far this year, investors have lost $12.8
billion on the default of $13.9 B of telecommunications bonds, over twice
what they lost in all of last year. Those who do not remember the past etc.


AOL-Microsoft Talks Collapse

The parties don't even agree on what they disagree about. AOL says the only
area unresolved was MS insistence that AOL drop RealPlayer for Windows Media
Player, while MS says AOL wanted everything, gave up nothing, and "wanted to
sue us over XP". Microsoft's goals in the negotiations seem to be getting
AOL to agree not to raise antitrust issues in litigation and its cooperation
in the rollout of Windows XP, with its many bundled consumer features. Since
MS seems to be gearing up to do to AOL with XP and its "Hailstorm" project
what MS Office did to WordPerfect and Lotus, it's perhaps not surprising
that AOL declined to play ball (or play dead?). Besides agreeing not to sue
MS over antitrust issues (which is a pretty major concession when you don't
know what they're going to do) and ending AOL's arrangement with MS rival
RealPlayer, Microsoft wanted concessions on AOL Instant Messaging; and it's
not clear that MS really had that much to offer in return if AOL is willing
to fight back for its turf instead of seeking accommodation.


The End Of An Era

Autodesk is reported to have stopped holding its free Friday afternoon beer
parties. Sigh. One employee reacted by comparing CEO Carol Bartz's $1.5
million annual salary and $15.3 million stock options with the estimated
$532 weekly cost of 30 pizza, a keg, 6 bottles of wine and 8 bags of chips.


Quote Of The Day

"The market has had the worst correction it's had in a generation, and yet
it's still not cheap."
- Chief Investment Officer Kevin Parke at MFS: noting that Cisco, down from
$80 a share to $16.65, is still trading at 60 times its expected earnings.


Still not cheap! Wow!

AOL and Msft at it still.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 37 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Mon, Jun 18, 2001 (17:12) * 34 lines 
 
Another 10,000 jobs are going at Nortel:

Audience: Nortel Networks Employees

This morning we issued an important announcement regarding our outlook and the steps we are taking to continue to align our business to a severe economic and industry downturn and what is a period of profound adjustment for our customers.

As we indicated in our announcement, we believe that this downturn will be protracted. We should fully recognize how difficult this period will be. The six priorities in our "Alignment Plan" reflect the seriousness of the situation that we, and our customers and other market participants, find ourselves in. We must continue to:

1. Accelerate our cost reduction and reset to "break even" at current business levels;

2. Return to positive cash flow by management of expenses, inventories, capital and receivables;

3. Focus business around core growth areas and exit/dispose of/transition our ownership in others;

4. Retain employees by implementing initiatives such as the Stock Option Exchange;

5. Target top customers and direct sales opportunities for incremental and new revenue and ensure superior customer satisfaction; and

6. Deliver on our key product initiatives targeting high-growth markets.

As I indicated today, and in our town-hall of last week, we are making good progress against this "Alignment Plan." The programs that we have implemented since the beginning of the year are expected to result in excess of US$3 billion in savings on an annualized basis. We have more work to do, but this is a good start.

We have thus far notified approximately 20,000 employees. Sadly, due to the protracted downturn, we will be eliminating another 10,000 positions as we continue to align with the market. We will move as quickly as we can with the aim of having this completed by the end of the third quarter.

Despite the times, Nortel Networks remains one of the best-positioned companies in our industry. Our leadership bench-strength and employees are among the best in the world. We have a world-class portfolio of solutions that lead the market today and we are on track to bring the next generation of solutions to market. Our sales and technical teams are lined up against the top service providers and are focused on delivering a superior customer experience. The challenge before us is clear: execute our "Alignment Plan" and emerge from the severe downturn and this period of adjustment as a strongly positioned company.

I want to thank you all, along with our shareholders and suppliers, for the support we are receiving during this very difficult period. I do not underestimate the toll it is taking on you and your families, and I want you to be assured that we are doing everything we can to get through this period of alignment as fast as we can.

By my retirement in April, my goal is to have Nortel Networks returned to profitability and positioned as the undisputed leader in our target markets and with the customers we serve. Although we will continue to face a challenging market environment for the near term, I am personally committed to building on our leadership, re-establishing our momentum, and getting our realignment completed.

Thank you,

John Roth



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 38 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Mon, Jun 18, 2001 (17:13) * 7 lines 
 

Dotcom casualties litter skid row



Associated Press has uncovered evidence to the contrary after visiting the soup kitchens and homeless shelters that lie on the flip side of the American dream. Depressed database programmers and the like have joined drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill as society's hard luck cases.

...
more...



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 39 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jun 26, 2001 (13:26) * 85 lines 
 


Webtoon Firms Not Ready For Prime Time

A couple years ago before the dot-com bubble burst, the Internet was seen
as
a natural vehicle for online animations and other streaming real-time
media
into the home. Alas, Ye Olde Modemme is not fast enough to handle live
video, and there are too few consumers with DSL or cable modems to keep
the
newcomer industry going. With pseudo.com and others fading to black,
only a
couple like Visionary Media and Bullseye Art, both located in Manhattan,
are
still creating products such as the WhirlGirl series featuring a female
geek/superheroine who "prevents an evil media empire from controlling
viewers' lives". The survivors are using their skills with Macromedia
Flash
to create animations for broadcast TV at a fraction of the old cost; the
article says a half-hour episode of "The Simpsons" or "The Smurfs" costs
around $400,000 to animate (not counting the writers admin costs, and
voice
actors); with Flash the estimated average cost is around $160,000. Does
this mean WhirlGirl is about to sell out to the evil media empire? Yes,
probably; the founder and "chief creative officer" of Bullseye says
"Getting
acquired and becoming part of a studio is not the worst thing that could
happen." Perhaps she will start battling evil pre-IPO upstarts.


Fastest Transistor Contest Heats Up

Actually the physical heat production seems to have diminished, with IBM
announcing its new 210-gigahertz(!) transistor needs 50% less power to
run
than current units. A single transistor doesn't seem very useful in
these
days of large-scale circuit integration, but IBM predicts it will form
the
basis of communications devices capable of speeds up to 100 GHz within
two
years. A couple of weeks ago, Intel announced a transistor for CPUs (and
therefore "not directly comparable" with IBM's, the story says) that
switches at speeds of up to 1.5 terahertz, and will form the core of
processors running at 20 gigahertz.


RIP Alpha

When it was announced by DEC in 1992, the Alpha microprocessor was the
first
64-bit CPU for general use outside of supercomputers. After Compaq
bought
DEC in 1998, they supported its development as well as that of a MIPS
chip
used in their Tandem Himalaya subsidiary. No more; in a deal with Intel,
Compaq will phase out the Alpha and the MIPS by 2004 for its one million-
plus users (though they say Alpha upgrades will continue through
2003) and
replace them with an upcoming generation of Intel's 64-bit Itanium CPU
called McKinley. That seems to leave as rivals only IBM's PowerPC and
Sun's
UltraSparc for high-performance machines.


Napster Case Drags On

It's easy to forget the lawsuit never actually went to trial; instead all
the skirmishing was (and still is) over a preliminary injunction issued
last
July by District Court judge Marilyn Patel. Napster requested an en banc
hearing by the entire Ninth Circuit of an appeal it lost to a three-judge
panel; that request was just denied. Unless they go to the Supremes, the
trial can now begin, though no date for it has yet been scheduled.
Meanwhile, the RIAA who won that appeal has filed one of its own to Judge
Patel's requirement that they provide file names to Napster in order to
get
them removed from the servers. And the Academy (as in Academy
Awards) just
sued Napster for making "live Oscar show
performances" available. Perhaps
simulated Oscar acts would be OK?

Thanks again, Ron.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 40 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun 27, 2001 (14:13) * 55 lines 
 

New Patent Threatens Microsoft

Intertrust Technologies of Santa Clara just received a patent on authorizing
the use of digital media over disparate types of hardware such as PCs, cell
phones, and MP3 players. That is said to be "at the heart of Microsoft's
.NET and Hailstorm software strategies" which in turn are key components of
its Windows XP business plan. The patent breathes new life into Intertrust's
two-month-old lawsuit against MS for infringement of its digital rights
management technology patents by Windows Media Player, also an XP component.
Intertrust is said to be a business partner and ally of AOL Time Warner and
RealNetworks, neither of whom are apt to cut MS any slack out of goodwill.


Dot-Com Job Losses Slowing?

June job cuts were said to be down 31% in June from the month before, to
9,216. They averaged about 13,000 a month in January - May according to
outplacement folks Challenger, Gray & Christmas.


ISP Prices Rising

Earthlink will raise its all-you-can-eat monthly charge $2 to $22, following
AOL's recent increase to $24.


Sneezeless GMO Cat Announced

Well, the new genetically-modified feline might itself sneeze, but it is
intended not to be a source of sneezing in others. Previous bio-pet
research has focused on cloning departed Fidos and Muffys to make new copies
for grieving wealthy owners, but Transgenic Pets is working on a cat without
a protein that triggers an allergic reaction in humans. (Unfortunately,
that protein serves to keep the animal's skin moist, so the bionic cat might
have to be kept in a tub of water; they're working on that.) I'd like to
see one crossed with a chameleon so its fur changes to the color of the
pants leg it's rubbing against, but this doesn't seem to be in their plans.
To protect their R&D investment, Transgenic will sell the cats itself and
they will all be neutered to prevent knockoffs, otherwise known as kittens.


Mobile Phones Dropped

Citing a flat market, Philips will cease making cell phones, except for a
minority share it retains in a Chinese company. They got into the business
in 1996, but only managed to eke out about 3 percent of the market compared
to Nokia who has around 30%, and the division never made a full-year profit.
Ericsson has outsourced all its phone manufacture, and Motorola and Nokia
announced they would expand their outsourcing as well.


Ron Sipherd, ronks@well.com contributed these, as usual.

Thanks, Ron!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 41 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jun 28, 2001 (13:48) * 28 lines 
 
ronks:


Get Ready For Spim

Jargon alert: unsolicited commercial instant messages are apparently now
called "spim". Haven't got any yet? Chances are you will soon, if you use
ICQ, AOL Instant Messaging, or one of those services. ActiveBuddy of NY and
other startups are developing automated instant-messaging software that
sends out messages for FAO Schwarz, Vans Sneakers, Radiohead ("the
alternative rock band" in case you didn't know), and others. So far they
are of the opt-in variety, but some users suspect they are harvesting buddy
IDs for later advertising blitzes. In theory users can block them by
sender, but that often involves declining to accept a message and then
confirming that in a second window. Since spimmers can quickly change names,
blocking may prove useless. Besides ICQ, which some say is already clogged
with unsolicited porno messages, the new AIM 4.7 beta includes a "welcome
screen" with promotions to commercial links.


Roadrunner vs. Acme

When James Turner returned his rental car to Acme Rent-a-Car in New Haven
CT, he found an extra $450 charged to his account. Pursuant to the agreement
which he signed but didn't read (and who reads those things), the car had a
GPS that recorded him exceeding the speed limit three times, for which the
contract said he would have to pay $150 each time. Oops.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 42 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Thu, Jun 28, 2001 (16:53) * 3 lines 
 
Appeals Court have overturned the ruling Microsoft should be split up.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/20061.html


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 43 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jul  3, 2001 (13:15) * 48 lines 
 
Metricom Goes Bust

The wireless ISP who runs the Ricochet wireless ISP has only about 40,000
customers in fifteen cities where it operates, not enough to make a profit.
The charges ($300 for the modem plus $70-80 per month) may be a culprit.
Anyway it filed for bankruptcy; it will continue the service for now, but
its future is unclear. Maybe Iridium will buy it, ha ha.


Napster Goes Dark

The music-sharing service has temporarily lowered its jolly roger while it
revamps to comply with the court order and convert to a fee-based version
later this summer.


i-opener Gets Black Eye

The Netpliance company who makes that web-only gizmo settled charges by the
FTC that it failed to disclose extra fees and billed customers' credit cards
without their consent. It will pay a $100,000 "civil penalty" and have to
reimburse users an unspecified amount.


Webvan Does Reverse Stock Split

25 shares will become one with a value of $1.75 at yesterday's price of 7
cents (down from around 70 cents in February), as the company seeks to stave
off de-listing by Nasdaq by a July 23 deadline.


Chips Sales Sink Some More

May 2001 sales worldwide were down to $12.7 billion, in a steady slide from
around $18 B last September and off 7% from April. Most of the falloff was
in the Americas, down 32% from a year ago. The president of the
Semiconductor Industry Association, who released the numbers, said he
expected an upturn in the fourth quarter of this year. In related news
Intel announced a 1.8 gigahertz Pentium 4, charging quite a bit more for it
($562 versus $352 for a 1.7 GHz).


Web Ad Firms Merge

Continuing the industry contraction, ValueClick of LA just bought Mediaplex
of SF for $43 million in stock.

thanks, ronks.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 44 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jul  4, 2001 (15:27) * 11 lines 
 


L&H Unit Gains Independence

Had to work the theme of independence in there somehow today. Actually the
Mendez division ("translation services and software provider") of Lernout &
Hauspie just exchanged masters, as the Massachusetts firm Lionbridge bought
it for $33 million. L&H originally asked $160 million for the unit which
has $80 M annual revenue, but nobody bit till the price came down by about
four-fifths.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 45 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jul 10, 2001 (00:57) * 58 lines 
 
ronks@well.com contributes these precious tidbytes:


New Generation Of Fiber Optic Cable In The Lab

Called hollow-core fiber, it is speculated to have the potential for a
hundred-fold increase in the capacity of a single line. Basically, instead
of using clear glass to conduct the light which attenuates over distance,
the center of the wire is air, with a casing around it that reflects stray
photons back into the median channel. It's a long way from deployment, but
if it works it could reduce the need for periodic re-amplification of the
light.


He's Ba-a-ack

Philippe Kahn, the founder of Borland and later of Starfish Software, has
taken his share of the $254 million sale of Starfish to start yet another
company with an idea he got as he assisted with the birth of his daughter.
He wanted to be able to take snapshots and quickly send them to family and
friends, but the hospital had no such facility. At that point the LightSurf
company was born (along with its human sibling Sophie). The idea is for a
cell phone attachment that takes photos and transmits them, with adaptations
(unspecified) depending on the type of receiving device. While other
companies are involved in the are, LightSurf is working "closely with
telecommunications carriers to create an entire support structure" on the
theory that ease of use is paramount for the target market of users. Just
in case, Mr. K remains CEO of the Starfish Motorola division.


So What Is An Online Division Good For, Anyway?

Many traditional stores that shoveled megabucks into web counterparts just
as the expected gold rush tanked are looking for value in the ruins. Data
mining of customer attitudes seems to be it. As one analyst puts it, "Sales
aren't there for the online folks, and margins are lower than everybody had
expected, so they're looking for other ways to give back. So they're saying
'Hey, here's our data.'" For example, Nordstrom ran an print ad for clothes
that had a woman wearing a navel ring; it was just a prop and not for sale,
but lots of people went online looking for it, so now the store offers them
and even opened a "body jewelry" store on the web.


So What Is An Online Customer Good For, Anyway?

A recent survey of 4000 adults (with 1700 responses) by BYU professors about
their online buying habits found they broke down into eight groups, with big
spenders and browsers-only separated mainly by one thing: fear of giving out
their credit card number on the Internet. Here are the categories:

- shopping lovers, 11.1 percent
- adventurous explorers, 8.9%
- suspicious learners, 9.6%
- business users, 12.4%
- fearful browsers, 10.7%
- fun seekers, 12.1%
- technology muddlers, 19.6%
- shopping avoiders, 15.6%


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 46 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jul 11, 2001 (00:48) * 28 lines 
 


Microsoft, Verisign In Security Deal

MS will use Verisign to "improve the security of the personal information
collected by .Net" to address concerns over the expectation that the new
Hailstorm technology will provide a pool of personal data. Wasn't Verisign
the company that was spoofed into issuing Microsoft ID digital certificates
to an unknown hacker last year?


Buzzsaw Bought Back

In November 1999, Autodesk spun off a subsidiary called buzzsaw.com who made
software that allowed architects and building contractors to exchange
blueprints and other documents over the Internet, retaining a 40% stake.
They subsequently put $22.5 million into the venture in hopes of a
successful IPO. However as you may have heard, the market for dot-com IPOs
has somewhat diminished in the last year; so Autodesk will buy back the
other 60% for $15 million and re-integrate Buzzsaw with the mother company.


Silver Lining Dept.

George Shaheen, the former Webvan CEO who got a package of $375,000 a year
for life when he quit last April, will have to go to bankruptcy court like
all the other employees and creditors to collect it.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 47 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jul 18, 2001 (23:27) * 36 lines 
 
ronks:


Putting The Ban In Taliban

The Afghan government has forbidden its citizens, almost none of whom has a
telephone, from using the Internet where "un-Islamic influences" reside.


Apple Profit Down

Net earnings for the most recent quarter were $61 million, compared with
$200 M in the year-ago period. Its CFO explained that some of the shortfall was due to planned inventory reductions. The company has a large cushion of $4.2 billion in cash and liquid securities to tide it over bad times, and it is battling Dell for the lead in the K-12 school market.


Russian Hacker Busted

After (perhaps unwisely) giving a talk at the hackers' Las Vegas DefCon
conference on how to break Adobe's e-book encryption, 27-year-old Dmitri
Sklyarov was arrested on charges of violating the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act. He faces five years of jail and a $500,000 fine for his role with Moscow-based ElcomSoft in writing software to decrypt Adobe e-books.


E-Books Apply For Copyright

In a first, two full-length publications issued solely in electronic form
("Business Week's Guide To The Best Business Schools" and "The Hitchhiker's
Guide To The Wireless Web") were transmitted to the US Copyright Office for
registration and sent to the Library Of Congress.


Netzeroistas Bail

Following the merger of their firm with Juno Online to create United Online, which is in trouble just like its two predecessors as online advertising
shrinks, four founders of Netzero have left, to form Layer2Networks,
described as a "broadband networking company". Which they believe the world needs yet more of.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 48 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jul 20, 2001 (15:14) * 54 lines 
 
ronks:


Post-Napster Peer-Based Swapping Services Proliferate

While Napster remains shut pending appeals on whether 99.4% rejection of
copyrighted file downloads is enough, other sites have rapidly picked up the
slack. Unlike Napster, which operated with distributed files but
centralized information on where they were stored, the new services (five of
the six most popular essentially didn't exist 5 months ago) are more peer-
oriented. Technically they resemble Gnutella but with better interfaces.
Record companies are thus left with the unappetizing prospect of suing all
the individual users, which will probably not happen. Some examples of
file-sharing services mentioned in the article are MusicCity Morpheus,
Audiogalaxy Satellite, KaZaA, iMesh, BearShare, and LimeWire.


An Online Grocery Success Story

Tesco.com, a division of the Tesco chain of supermarkets, is estimated to
have made $7 million net profit on $422 M annual sales, on an investment by
the parent chain of a mere $56 M. It took more or less the opposite tack
from Webvan (and of course is showing the opposite in results): it charges
about $7 for delivery, and it has no separate warehouses. Instead it uses
the chain's 690 stores as stockrooms, with staff wheeling specialized carts
that follow an efficient computer-generated route through the aisles and can
load six orders at once. The CEO's observation following his visit to
Webvan last year is worth quoting: "People were making some very strange
decisions. They were saying things like 'I'm going to get the revenue first
and work out the cost structure later.'" Worrying about costs, how quaint.
Tesco is a British chain, but they recently entered a US venture with
GroceryWorks in partnership with Safeway.


PC Sales Down

According to Gartner and International Data Corporation, worldwide sales of
PCs fell about 2% in the last quarter, the first quarterly drop in 15 years.


Sun Down

Likewise posting an unaccustomed loss, Sun Microsystems announced a
quarterly shortfall of $88 million, the first since 1989. The culprits were
Japan, where sales dropped 27%, and Europe, off 17%. Earnings a year ago
were $720 M. Excluding one-time events though, Sun made $134 M profit.


Nortel Wa-a-ay Down

The Canadian networking firm lost $19.4 billion (with a "B") for the
quarter, compared with a profit of $637 million last year. Even excluding
one-time charges, their continuing operations lost $1.6 B.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 49 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jul 23, 2001 (18:53) * 55 lines 
 
ron sipherd (ronks@well.com)


Popular Pop-Unders Pose Problem

A new type of advertising said to have originated at pornography sites, is
appearing with greater frequency around the Web. Called the "pop-under",
it's a separate window opened by the main page without the viewer's request.
It appears "behind" the main page unlike a "pop-up" which displays in front,
so you don't normally see it until you close your browser - or think you
have closed it, only to find one or more of the pop-unders under. The new
format raises two questions:

1. Are the Web publishers that resort to such tactics, who include
Microsoft, Primedia, the NY Times, X10.com, and Yahoo, vile excrescences fit
only for extermination? The argument goes that these ads are giving the
industry a bad name for intrusiveness, since they are not asked for and
don't appear in view at a relevant point but only when you are done surfing
and are trying to close the browser.

2. Should the pop windows (up and under) count as visits to the host's site?
X10.com uses them extensively, and if they are included it ranks as the
Web's fourth-most-visited site, ahead of Lycos; but if not, it drops to
#116. Some raters say counting pops is "as if TV ratings counted beer
commercials as prime-time programming". (Of course some beer ads may be
more entertaining, but that's not the issue here.) Jupiter Media Metrix
counts pops, Nielsen doesn't, take your pick.


DVDs Fly

...off the shelves, even as PCs and other electronic gizmos lag in sales.
Retail US sales were up 69 percent at 5.2 million units in the first half of
this year from the comparable period in 2000. So far, 20.4 M have been sold
since the format was introduced four years ago according to the story, and
460 M disks to go into them. As of February 2000 8% of US homes had DVD
units (96% had VCRs); 15 months later in May 2001 the figure was up to 12%.


Apple Poised For Takeoff?

Although it has less than 4% market share in America and less overseas, some
analysts suggest Apple's time may be here. They observe that the "price-
performance gap" between Apple computers and PCs has narrowed, so you get
about the same bang for the buck with either, and that as the Internet has
become such a focus of personal computing the importance of the operating
system has diminished (hear that, Netscape/Oracle/Sun?). Also showman Steve
Jobs has made progress in turning the Mac into a "digital hub" for consumer
editing of audio and video files, leveraging its strengths with design
professionals. The story also observes this initiative may be related to
Apple's move to open its own stores even as Gateway is bailing out of its
own: while billboards and magazine ads are fine for showing off a new
translucent strawberry-colored laptop say, you need to get people to try new
software features to appreciate them, and that means hands-on testing.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 50 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jul 24, 2001 (09:39) * 54 lines 
 


Popular Pop-Unders Pose Problem

A new type of advertising said to have originated at pornography sites, is
appearing with greater frequency around the Web. Called the "pop-under",
it's a separate window opened by the main page without the viewer's request.
It appears "behind" the main page unlike a "pop-up" which displays in front,
so you don't normally see it until you close your browser - or think you
have closed it, only to find one or more of the pop-unders under. The new
format raises two questions:

1. Are the Web publishers that resort to such tactics, who include
Microsoft, Primedia, the NY Times, X10.com, and Yahoo, vile excrescences fit
only for extermination? The argument goes that these ads are giving the
industry a bad name for intrusiveness, since they are not asked for and
don't appear in view at a relevant point but only when you are done surfing
and are trying to close the browser.

2. Should the pop windows (up and under) count as visits to the host's site?
X10.com uses them extensively, and if they are included it ranks as the
Web's fourth-most-visited site, ahead of Lycos; but if not, it drops to
#116. Some raters say counting pops is "as if TV ratings counted beer
commercials as prime-time programming". (Of course some beer ads may be
more entertaining, but that's not the issue here.) Jupiter Media Metrix
counts pops, Nielsen doesn't, take your pick.


DVDs Fly

...off the shelves, even as PCs and other electronic gizmos lag in sales.
Retail US sales were up 69 percent at 5.2 million units in the first half of
this year from the comparable period in 2000. So far, 20.4 M have been sold
since the format was introduced four years ago according to the story, and
460 M disks to go into them. As of February 2000 8% of US homes had DVD
units (96% had VCRs); 15 months later in May 2001 the figure was up to 12%.


Apple Poised For Takeoff?

Although it has less than 4% market share in America and less overseas, some
analysts suggest Apple's time may be here. They observe that the "price-
performance gap" between Apple computers and PCs has narrowed, so you get
about the same bang for the buck with either, and that as the Internet has
become such a focus of personal computing the importance of the operating
system has diminished (hear that, Netscape/Oracle/Sun?). Also showman Steve
Jobs has made progress in turning the Mac into a "digital hub" for consumer
editing of audio and video files, leveraging its strengths with design
professionals. The story also observes this initiative may be related to
Apple's move to open its own stores even as Gateway is bailing out of its
own: while billboards and magazine ads are fine for showing off a new
translucent strawberry-colored laptop say, you need to get people to try new
software features to appreciate them, and that means hands-on testing.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 51 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Aug 12, 2001 (13:06) * 53 lines 
 
from ronks@well.com Ron Sipherd

Napster Foes Seek Knockout Punch

Record-label plaintiffs in the copyright suit have so far achieved a
"preliminary injunction" against Napster's operations, pending final
resolution at a trial on the merits of the case. Tuesday they asked the
judge to skip that part and issue summary judgement without a trial; they
claim essentially that there are no issues of fact to be tried for which
evidence needs to be presented, or in other words there's no reason to let
Napster put on its case because there's no possibility they have one.


Sun Gets Hot

In a full-page newspaper ad yesterday they trumpeted their partnership with
Hitachi to sell big storage systems to big companies with the statement that the only alternative was *E*xpensive, *M*onolithic, and *C*losed, playing on their main competitor EMC. Today's ad does not come out and literally say
*M*ighty *S*limy, but it criticizes Microsoft for pulling Java out of
Windows XP with the statement "Sure Microsoft believes in freedom of choice. As long as they get to choose". They also observe that you can thwart MS by downloading Java from java.sun.com any time you like.


The Edible Resume?

A Kansas company called Sweetart at www.sweetart.com takes H-P color inkjet
printers and modifies them to print images on cake icings. The units, which use food coloring cartridges in place of ink, are integrated into systems
with a scanner and a PC. And a movable arm holding the print heads, because do you know what a cake looks like after it's gone through a sheet-feeder?
They say they have sold "several thousand" systems to bakeries and grocery
stores, and one customer even uses his to create sand paintings.

Iomega Shrinks

The maker of cheesy removable storage devices (as the saying goes they
didn't invent the click of death, they just made it popular) will cut over a third of its staff, from 3300 to 2050, and take a $65 million charge as part of a reorganization plan.


Flooz Poofs

The online-currency dot-com who spent $8 million on Whoopi Goldberg ads was
created in 1999 by Robert Levitan, a co-founder of the women's Web site
iVillage. It was named for (they say) an ancient Persian form of cash, back when air travel meant flying carpets. But it never really took off, since
merchants had to modify their systems to accept the currency and consumers
had to tie up funds till they bought something. Competitors like Beenz.com
and eCash have faced similar problems. Lately, Flooz and Beenz.com have
tried to move into B2B but Flooz looks to have abandoned all hope, as they
shut their site, stopped accepting their own currency for payment, and asked retailers to remove links to Flooz.


Host Floats

At least I hope so. I'll be canoeing down the Missouri out of Fort Benton
MT next week and seriously out of touch; don't let anything interesting
happen while I'm gone, eh?



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 52 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Aug 22, 2001 (11:13) * 56 lines 
 
ronks rides again.


@Home @End Of Road?

A financial analyst briefly summed up the prospects for high-speed ISP @Home
as "Put butter on them; they're toast." With a loss of over $346 million
and only $183M in cash reserves, a statement from their auditors to the SEC
that there is "substantial doubt" whether they can survive, and a stock
price of 49 cents (down 40 cents from a day ago) which may cause it to be
de-listed by Nasdaq unless they do a reverse split, this is not the best of
times for them. Also, a deal expired two months ago that required three
major shareholders (AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast) to use @Home for
their high-speed service offerings, and the former captive owners have fled.


Agilent Not Doing Too Well Either

The 1999 spinoff from H-P will boot 4,000 employees (about 9%) after an
April 10 percent pay cut proved inadequate to stem losses. They lost $219
million last quarter compared to a $1545 M profit a year ago, with sales
down 23%.


The Worm Turns

A consortium of security businesses like McAfee has been formed to fight the
attack of the killer worms such as Code Red I through LXXXXVIIII, and to
develop technology to thwart distributed denial-of-service attacks, with
input from three network firms called Arbor, Asta, and Mazu.

Paul: Glad you're back from vacation Ron!

Thanks! I enjoy writing them, though it was a relief to spend a week away
from news of technology (not to mention the Middle East, Wall Street, and
anyplace outside the Missouri Breaks). I read "Trent's Last Case" and a
history of Glacial Lake Missoula, 500 cubic miles of water that drained in
about a week onto the Palouse at the end of the last Ice Age. Blub.

An Emmy For Apple

Not to Steve Jobs for Best Supporting Actor, but to IEEE 1394 (nee Firewire)
which was developed in the 90's and included in Macs since 1999 for high-
speed data transport. Besides being used widely in TV production to
transfer images among cameras, editing gear, and computers, it "has been
adopted as a standard for high-definition television". The award should
help Apple in its drive to sell its Macs as "digital hubs" for households as
well as pros to edit home movies and the like.


And Then There Were Two

Two gigahertz, no waiting. Eighteen months after it offered a CPU that ran
at one GHz, Intel will offer a 2 GHz processor starting next week. AMD will
release its 1.5 GHz Athlon chip then too.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 53 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Aug 23, 2001 (11:07) * 51 lines 
 
ronks rides again.


Infrared, Release 2

Infrared beams have long (well OK over ten years) been used in low-bandwidth
applications like TV remotes. Researchers at Penn State have developed a
technique that involves a lattice of echoing IR beams to create a 2-gigabit/
second network within a room; previous attempts foundered on scattering of
the beams creating a kind of IR echo, which they claim to have solved with
"a holographic filter". While IR has some defects relative to radio waves
used for most wireless nets such as the inability to go through walls, it
has some major advantages. Such as the inability to go through walls, which
makes eavesdropping from outside much harder and prevents one room-net from
interfering with another. Also, IR is an unregulated wavelength unlike the
radio spectrum. If low-level radio waves are ever found to pose health
risks, IR will be at an advantage there too. Plus it keeps the room warm in
winter..


Wanted: Chirpy Accountant

One day after Ernst & Young, auditors for Excite@Home, announced in a filing
to the SEC that the ISP might not generate enough cash to survive, they were
replaced by their client with another auditor. A spokespern for Excite said
"I know the timing looks kind of funny." What a sense of humor those guys
have. The ostensible reason is that AT&T owns 23% of Excite, and they
wanted to use the same auditor for consistency. Ya sure you betcha.


Big Brother Loves You

It's unlikely that the IRS will soon adopt the ubiquitous slogan from
Orwell's 1984, but in practical terms they're moving that way. They just
let a $10 million contract to Peoplesoft for a "customer relationship
management" system, no doubt to keep taxpayers from going to a competitor.
By next year, tax preparers will be able to access information on their
clients' accounts, and by 2004 (twentieth anniversary; coincidence?) IRS
agents and members of the public will be able to view their tax history
online. "Perfect information about every customer" is the goal, according
to a Peoplesoft VP. Oh, and of course the connection will be "secure".


Online Broker Loses

Things are so bad in the stock market that even the brokers are in trouble.
TD Waterhouse, the third largest Internet dealer after Schwab and Fidelity,
says it suffered its first-ever quarterly net loss. It was $22 million in
the hole compared to a $35 M profit a year ago, with commissions down 36%.
The volume of trades was off 18% from the previous quarter, to 101,700/day.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 54 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Aug 27, 2001 (13:33) * 65 lines 
 


Flooz Bamboozled

A couple of weeks ago the online-currency site stopped operating and
merchants stopped taking their e-money. Last weekend the company officially
went out of business. BTW another similar site called Beenz.com also
suspended its operations last week, and Buy.com told the SEC it may have to
close though it later said it would keep going for now. Anyway, one factor
in Flooz's demiiz seems to be a bunch of credit-card-number-nappers in
Russia and the Philippines who bought around $300,000 of flooz-bucks in the
last three months with stolen ID. When Flooz's credit card processor
learned of the fraud from complaints by the real cardholders, it stopped
crediting Flooz for the transactions, holding up around a million dollars
which "created an untenable cash flow situation".


IBM Builds Tube Switch

They took a step closer to the "post-silicon" era by making a carbon
nanotube 10 atoms wide they can turn to "true" and "false" states like a 1/0
bit. They say they need to do another couple years' R&D before they can
determine if the technology is practical to manufacture in volume, but if it
is they believe they can achieve a transistor packing density of 10,000
times that of silicon, which may run into its physical limit in 10-15 years.


Now We Know

One distinction of Web advertisements is that their effectiveness can be
measured accurately with "click-through", the number of times people respond
to an online ad by clicking on it to visit the vendor's own site and buy
something, unlike say magazine and TV commercials where one can only guess.
Procter & Gamble even decided a few years back to base its online ad
royalties on click-through volume. Alas, an article today notes that
accountability has turned out to be Web ads' weakness not its strength, as
advertisers discover that almost nobody clicks on those colorful animated
dealies. Various reactions are surfacing: marketwatch.com will simply stop
reporting click-through rates (well, that should solve the problem); other
vendors will use "view-based conversions" that attempt to measure the number
of people who visit their site after an ad has been sent to their browser,
though that may raise some privacy questions. And some quote retailer John
Wanamaker, who said more or less that half his ad budget was wasted, he just
didn't know which half.


Cable Beats DSL

A report from Cahners research says there are 5.3 million US cable modem
users compared to 3.1 M DSL customers, and that for the last nine months the
sale of cable modems has exceeded DSL modems by 30-50%. They cite two
problems with DSL: one is that it often requires dealing with two or more
vendors who try to blame the other for any problems in lieu of fixing it;
the other is that DSL providers keep dying, like Northpoint and Covad.


Computer Error Of The Week

A glitch blamed on video processing at HBO inserted scenes of African women
playing basketball into a drama called "Six Feet Under" about a family who
runs a funeral home.


ronks



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 55 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Aug 29, 2001 (10:34) * 47 lines 
 
ronks:



Lucent Drop Prompts Questions

With its stock down 91 percent in the last year and a half, current and
former workers at Lucent regret their participation in the company's stock
purchase plan and taking bonuses in now-worthless stock options. But
outside of that, they're asking why their employer sank 30% of its 401(k)
investments in its own stock. And "sank" is the word. Economists involved
with pensions funds suggest that the trustees' need to act "with prudence"
dictates no more than 10% should ever be invested in a single company.


Gateway Dumps Staff, And Most Of World

The PC maker, whose sales are concentrated almost entirely in the weak
consumer market and who is battling Dell in a margin-eating price war, saw
its revenue drop last quarter to $1.5 billion from $2.2 B last year, and
lost $21 million compared with a net profit of $118 M in 2Q2000. They
earlier axed 3,000 staff, but they are laying off another 5,000 or a quarter
of the remaining employees, and eliminating all operations in the Asia-
Pacific area and nearly all in Europe, leaving only a small Latin America
overseas presence.


AT&T, Bells Duke It Out In DC

A bill working its way through the US House of Representatives would free
phone companies from having to open their local networks to rivals like ISPs
and DSL providers at wholesale prices, claiming they would (they say)
install more high-speed bandwidth, for the ultimate benefit of the consumer,
if they could charge for it whatever the market would bear. ISPs and DSL
providers, backed by cable companies including AT&T, seem to think their
having to pay more would not be in the public interest. The two sides have
already spent over $10 million in lobbying pro and con. Current betting is
that the Bells may prevail in the House but will lose in the Senate.


Sun Casts A Cloud On Domain Names

In what one called a "scare tactic", Internet domain-name registrars got a
letter from Sun's lawyers last week demanding they refuse to register any
sites with names that include the words "sun", "enterprise", "ultra",
"cobalt" and several others that Sun claims exclusive rights to. Companies
like Enterprise Rent-A-Car (www.enterprise.com) expressed dismay.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 56 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Sep  3, 2001 (16:38) * 62 lines 
 
This is the funniest thing ronks has ever written (Flops of Tomorrow, about the catalapult)


Flops Of Today

Flooz.com filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; it says it has about $296,000 in
assets and $14 million in debts. It blames a $300,000 credit-card fraud for
contributing to its demise; the actual amount was not so much, but it
triggered a panic among its card processors who stopped payments to Flooz.
NetObjects will cease to be an object itself; the Redwood City software
maker says it has shut down and will auction off its assets. 48 percent
owned by IBM, its stock has sunk from $46 six months ago to 28 cents now.
Come to think of it, I remember a product called NetObjects Fusion which I
though was pretty successful, though I can't recall what it did.


Flops Of Tomorrow

I think the Patent Office must have a silly season in the summertime.
Rodney Java of San Francisco received patent # 6024264 for a hiker's
headgear (specifically not a hat, please) consisting of a retractable hood.
On top is a swiveling pyramid covered with solar panels which power
electric motors that run fans. "The purpose of the fans is to cool the
head", he notes helpfully. Wait, there's more. Attached to a built-in
water bottle are two tubes and pumps; one "delivers a measured portion of
drinking water to the hiker", presumably in the vicinity of the owner's
mouth. Another sprays water into the twirling fan blades which is "directed
onto the head of the user in the form of a cooling mist". The unit also
includes a net to draw down over the face, ostensibly for protection against
insects but possibly, the story notes, to hide the fog-enshrouded, motorized
twirling-pyramid-topped user from recognition. Rudolf Susko of Edmonton
California (all these guys are from California - coincidence?) received
patent 6,210,285 for a human-body-tossing "beach catapult". His application
states that "Its use will be in ejecting projectiles into the air .. wherein
projectile means people." "The use of the present invention has not been
documented to date", he observes candidly, though its utility to certain
organized crime syndicates is obvious. "He sleeps with the flying fishes"
could become a new tag line. How it works: "Upon releasing the seat
[containing the victim], the tensile bows are capable of recovering original
positions and thrusting the seat in an inclined path, whereby an occupant
placed therein is ejected into a free flight." Hopefully toward the water.
And Mr. Larry Dunks (I am not making these names up) of Oroville got patent
6,152,461 for a covered wagon "which can be converted for use to a picnic
table with benches and then back to a ranch wagon configuration for lawn
decoration". I wonder if it could be catapulted into the ocean as well.


Measuring Web Effectiveness, Chapter MDCCCLXVIII

An analyst for Jupiter Media Metrix noted recently that "retailers find it
difficult to measure their Web sites' impact on in-store sales". Well, duh.
But he goes on to say that while online sales pay back directly less than
half the money spent on them, the benefits in helping customers do pre-sale
research, in customer service, and in operating efficiency constitute the
primary benefits to the merchant. Consequently, thinking of a Web site
solely as a "transaction engine" for sales is apt to lead to failure. And a
Forrester Research analyst examined techniques used by catalog companies
such as Sharper Image to track Internet-based sales, even when placed by
phone; they use a different product code for the same item displayed on
their Web site and in their paper catalog, so they can track purchases to
their source.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 57 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Sep  5, 2001 (14:05) * 33 lines 
 
ronks 10/5/01

There seems to be a great deal of skepticism over whether the HP-Compaq
merger is good for their customers or the companies themselves, and whether
in fact it will survive antitrust scrutiny or the shareholders' vote to
approve. Compaq stock was down over ten percent after the announcement and
HP shares sank more than 18%. Regulators are likely to ask if the public
needs one less PC brand in stores now that Packard Bell and Acer have left;
they may have been turkeys (PB and Acer, not the regulators) but they
provided some competitive pressure. While the new company is expected to
focus more on services and paid support there was a brief mention that it
hoped to make a splash with an unnamed new "server operating system" that
would compete with Sun and MS.


Ellen Hancock Bails

The former IBM executive who joined Exodus Communications three years ago as
CEO has "unexpectedly quit", though her replacement says she left by mutual
agreement: the stock price of the website operator has sunk 98 percent and
it accumulated $3 billion of debt as it acquired rival GlobalCenter. In the
last two months, three board members have quit and the CFO was replaced.


Dell Buys Dell

Michael Dell exercised his options yesterday. He bought 4.2 million shares
of the PC maker named by him and after him. It was not a bad deal, since
his options price averaged $3 and the rest of the world has to pay over $22
for them. He now owns 296.2 million shares personally, and his wife and a
trust he controls hold another 49.1M, for a total worth around $7.7 billion.
Yes, but is he happy?



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 58 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Sep  6, 2001 (14:04) * 35 lines 
 
Butter PDA Available

A fifty-pound Palm VII made of butter, and first place winner at the
Minnesota State Fair (though the category is unclear; "50-lb. slippery
yellow PDAs" seems too narrow to attract many entries), is being auctioned
off on EBay at . Purchase
money will be given to the Minnesota 4H Foundation. The article says the
device is compatible with toast and any flavor of jelly.


EBay Picks WebSphere

Speaking of EBay, they evidently need something more robust than a buttery
PDA themselves to drive operations; they just let a contract worth an
estimated $50 million to IBM to use WebSphere for their "e-business platform
software". Bragging rights are probably part of the deal, with EBay as a
trophy client; it's big, it's profitable, and it's growing, something that
many other e-commerce sites are not (in case you didn't know). Its volume
of transactions from 35 million registered users can be prodigious,
especially at the end of an auction period. IDC and Giga estimate last
year's revenue from this type of software at $2.2 billion and $1.6 B
respectively, with a 40% annual growth rate. Maybe now IBM will auction off
those dumb WebSphere spacesuits.


Disney To Rent Movies On Demand

They signed up with the News Corporation to operate movies.com, where users
with video-on-demand facilities will be able to view new films directly from
the Net with the ability to stop and restart them, and users without VOD
will be able to download them to their PC for viewing. Charges are
anticipated to be on a par with store rentals and pay-per-view. Another
group of five studios (MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner) is
working on a similar service.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 59 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:50) * 30 lines 
 
PenCam Is Here

The lead for Most Useless Gadget Of 2002 seems held for now by a new device
that combines (as its name implies) a pen and a video camera. Its purpose,
which vendor Upper Deck feels the world has been waiting for, is to ensure
that a baseball or like memento has been signed by the person whose name
appears on the orb.

How it works: the superstar, or a flunky, swivels the
camera lens up toward his rugged face to "establish identity"; then it is
turned back toward the tip of the pen as he signs his name, or perhaps marks
it with an X or whatever.

The images "are sent wirelessly [so the PenCam
also includes a transmitter?] to a computer and entered into a database";
the video file is then matched with the signed object for sale to a fan.
Its first live test was with Michael Jordan, whose response was "he wanted
us to make it lighter and smaller", understandably. Signing with both hands
is probably awkward.


Cyberboy Is Here

Not a cartoon hero, but "a combination personal organizer, MP3 player,
digital camera [with video capture], audio recorder, and FM radio", all it
needs is a pen attachment and you could sign baseballs with it while playing
music and checking your calendar. At $349 from CMC Magnetics, it may be
priced for sports celebrities, but its name is perfect for product placement
in a movie: Cyberboy meets Cybergirl, Cyberboy loses Cybergirl, ...



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 60 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:51) * 21 lines 
 
Good Customer Service Is Not Here

A recent survey by Jupiter Media Metrix of 250 Web sites last month showed
the following breakdown in time to respond to customer requests:

Within 6 hours: 30 percent
6 to 24 hours: 18 percent
1 to 3 days: 18 percent
Over 3 days
or not at all: 34 percent

The results were well below customer expectations: 1/3 or the respondents
expected a reply within 6 hours, and all did within 2 days. Dream on.


IBM Scores On Patents

The company received 3,411 patents in 2001 (up from 2,886 the year before),
well ahead of any other business, none of whom have ever exceeded 3,000 in a
year. It collects $1.7 billion annually in royalties from patent licensees.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 61 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:52) * 27 lines 
 
ronks:

Nukes Drive Wee Batteries

All those tiny micro-electro-mechanical (MEM) devices on the drawing boards
to monitor roads, bridges, tires, etc. need power, and a wall plug would be
larger by orders of magnitude than the gizmo. Groups at Caltech and the U
of Wisconsin are experimenting with small (~ 1 centimeter long) batteries
that use radioactive isotopes.

Nickel 63 emits beta particles and is the
present favorite; alpha emitters are promising except for their tendency to
destroy their packaging. Tritium is another potential source - an Illinois
company is testing it. Makers say that while all the units are "nuclear",
their small size makes them no more dangerous than a smoke detector which
uses radioactive americium. They say.


Future Auto To Be Built On Skateboard

Albeit a very large one. GM's new concept car, the Autonomy (clever, huh?)
consists of a more or less flat base with four wheels, a fuel-cell engine,
and on-board computers. Onto the "skateboard" base goes the body, with
seats, steering, roof, walls, that sort of thing, which you may elect to
change for different purposes (cargo vs. passengers) or just to suit your
mood (SUV, sports car, humvee).



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 62 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:53) * 28 lines 
 
Visor Add-on Promotes Sleep

The "Jetlog 24x7 PowerNapping Springboard Module" (I am not making this up)
for $100 permits the user up to 40 minutes of light sleep so long as he
keeps his thumb on a button. If he lets go, or after time's up, "an alarm
with increasing volume blasts out of the Visor's speaker". The maker
specifically disclaims responsibility for damage, in the event the user
relaxes too much and drops the unit (or is set upon and mauled by everyone
else on the bus).

Credit Card Issuers Seek Online Teen Spenders

Though the US under-18 crowd spends an estimated $155 billion a year, only a
measly $1 billion of that is shelled out online. Seeing an untapped market
there (sort of like China), plastic merchants are targeting the young'uns.
Visa has something called Visa Buxx and MasterCard has plans they aren't
ready to disclose yet, but American Express just threw in the towel on its
Cobaltcard. The problems are daunting, and the article divides them into
three types: fees, marketing, and uses for the cards. The fees are a
problem because to avoid legal and ethical problems with underage kids
getting in debt, the accounts are all prepaid debit cards that draw on money
put into an associated account. No debt means no fat interest charges, so
the plastic people (hmm, reminds me of a song) rely instead on transaction
fees: to put money into the account, to check your balance, etc. Kids
quickly learn the concept of being nickel-and-dimed to death, and stop using
the cards. Marketing problems sum up to the eternal difficulty of pitching
something that appeals to both the kids and their parents; if credit card
makers can solve that one, achieving world peace should be a cinch.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 63 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:53) * 41 lines 
 
ronks:

Thumbprint Mistaken For Potato Chip

The DigitalPersona company, maker of the U.are.U fingerprint recognition
units, though it would be a swell idea to promote their product at the
recent Consumer Electronics Show by hiring a guy to dress up in a thumb suit
to walk around the floor. Unfortunately it mostly just resulted in a very
high error rate, probably not DP's intention. Most attendees thought the
actor represented:
a lima bean
an Easter egg
a psychedelic cookie
a raisin
a jelly bean
a cracked M&M
an M&M on crack
a potato chip
a surfboard
a germ
an amoeba

An embarrassed VP for product marketing tried to shift blame to his
potential customers by observing "people aren't used to seeing a dancing
biometric running around." The digital actor helped out: "When people stare
at me long enough, I'll just blurt out 'I'm a thumbprint!'"

Tue 15 Jan '02 (08:26 AM)

Dot-Name Starts Today

Around 60,000 .name Web and e-mail addresses registered through December 18
become active now, and another set registered later will go online later
this month.


End Of Internet Week

The publication started in 1984 as Communications Week and changed its name
in 1998. Its last issue was January 7, and employer CMP Media says that
"some" of its staff will be reassigned. Guess what happens to the rest.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 64 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:53) * 33 lines 
 
ronks:

Apple Claims New Users

The maker of candy-colored computers says forty percent of those who bought
machines at its 27 retail stores were purchasing their first Macintosh.
That would address one of Apple's main problems: a core of intensely loyal
users who constitute 5 percent of the market, but not much new blood.


Symantec Claims Income Gains

Not easy when your quarterly GAAP profits fell to $100,000 from $14 million
a year earlier; but by issuing a pro-forma statement that ignores expenses
for acquisitions, closing of offices, and other unpleasant facts, they were
able to show earnings of 78 cents a share compared to the expected 64 cents.
Perhaps they hired some unemployed Enron auditors.


Gates Claims Interest In Security

In a company-wide memo likened to his 1995 declaration that the Microsoft
battleship had to turn around to deal with the Internet, the maximum leader
has told his minions to make their code "trustworthy". The article says all
OS development will stop in the month of February while everybody goes to
training camp on security. While skepticism is understandable, there are
signs that top MS execs are feeling stung at having Gartner recommend
clients abandon its IIS Web server software because of its chronic weakness,
and announcing that all buffer-overrun problems were fixed only to have them
resurface big-time in Windows XP with Universal Plug And Play, especially
after they talked up XP as NT-based and hence more reliable than Windows 9x
versions. Chances are they have even noticed people adopting Linux on high-
profit-margin servers on account of MS security problems.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 65 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jan 20, 2002 (20:54) * 27 lines 
 
ronks:

Dvorak Claims Broadband Dead

The same day I read about a TechNet report requesting the president and
Congress to declare a national policy to bring "high-speed Internet access
to 100 million homes and businesses by the end of the decade", I saw John
Dvorak's column in PC Magazine on who killed broadband. I think you have to
take Mr. D. with a grain or more of salt, but he makes some good points, and
DSL, cable, satellite, have probably not lived up to growth expectations so
far. The reasons he cites for the "lost cause of the Broadband Revolution":

- continued growth of dial-up, with V.92/V.44 modems at 300 Kbps
- nobody but servers needs 24/7 availability anyway, and it's a big
security headache
- it costs more than POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), $500-1200 a year
- "clueless repair personnel", no roaming, low peak-hour bandwidth
- broken promises: slow downloads, streaming media that stutters
- "bad reputation" as the corpses of failed companies like Northpoint,
Excite, etc. litter the field
- "cell phone threat" if 3rd-generation broadband enables wireless
high-speed hookups [this is a threat?]
- "saturation" now that "everyone who wants high-speed access has it"
- "AOL syndrome"; he seems to mean by this that the vast market of the
Great Unwashed Public is quite happy with AOL's training wheels and
dial-up.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 66 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 24, 2002 (07:18) * 37 lines 
 
Risky Business I

The CERT center at Carnegie Mellon University for tracking Internet security
issues logged six incidents in 1988. My, how times have changed. In 2001,
the number had risen to 52,658 as both hacker attacks and public willingness
to report them increased. Part of the graph is hard to read, but some of
the numbers (from the Software Engineering Institute) are:
1988 6
1989 132
1990 252
1994-1997 ~2K-4K, with a slight decline in 1997
1998 4000
1999 10000
2000 21000
2001 52658


Risky Business II

Worldwide estimated revenue at Internet gambling sites for both 2001 and
2002 is down by half a billion US dollars for each year (to $3B and $4.1B
respectively) from earlier predictions. Not because half the states here
prohibit betting on the Internet. Not because all states prohibit the
operation of an Internet casino. Not because the Federal Wire Act bars
sports betting (and possibly other forms) over the Net. But because so many
gamblers are refusing to make good on their credit-card gambling debts that
banks and CC companies decline to authorize the transactions. American
Express and Discover have forbidden such use for "several years"; Wells
Fargo, MBNA, and Providian do likewise; and Visa and MasterCard are
tightening their restrictions and may bar it altogether. The article
reports that some casinos are finding 80% of their transactions denied, and
that some operations have been forced to close as a result. Matthew Katz,
the owner of gambling consultant ECasino Solutions, complains "Nobody looks
at gaming as an industry with any respect. Everybody says it's shady."

from Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 67 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Mar  1, 2002 (11:27) * 406 lines 
 
Fast Computer Sales Slow

Dataquest reports that global sales of servers rose only 1.8 percent in
2001, the lowest rise in five years. Dell edged out IBM for second place
behind Compaq's 23% lead. Workstation sales fell 11%; Dell remained on
top
with 32% of the total, followed by Sun and Compaq.


Linux Goes To The Movies

The open-source OS helped create "Shrek" and Dreamworks, the studio
behind
Mr. Shrek's success, just signed a "multimillion-dollar alliance" with
H-P
to implement GNU Linux on its animation systems. Pixar is also reported
moving toward Linux on its workstations.


Intel Off The Hook In Europe

After investigating complaints by AMD and Taiwan's VIA Technologies that
Intel abused its 83% share of the microprocessor market with its
customer-
loyalty programs and with connection-design licenses that allegedly
raised
compatibility hurdles for competitors, the European commission has
decided
to drop antitrust proceedings.

Information Wants To Be Expensive

The Motley Fool financial-advice site will soon join Salon,
TheStreet.com,
and Yahoo in converting some of its free sections to paid-subscriber
only.
Starting on Valentine Day, its discussion areas will be open to those who
have committed $5 a month or $30 for a year. Salon says its premium
services now account for 30% of its total revenue.


Fast Company

The International Solid State Circuits Conference takes place in San
Francisco this week, and chip-makers are rushing to issue press releases
and
secure bragging rights. IBM seems to be focusing on power consumption,
with
a CPU that uses no more than needed for its chores by switching instantly
between high and low-drain states. But Intel is swinging for the fences
with news of 10 gigahertz circuitry in a demo CPU. Reportedly their
current
2.2 GHz Pentium 4 contains sections that run internally at 4.4; the lab
unit
more than doubles that speed by a new means. Instead of shrinking the
entire circuitry the old-fashioned way, their engineers are concentrating
on
reducing a particular portion called the "physical gate length" of the
transistors. They say they have now got it down to 90 nanometers, or
about
360 atoms; two years ago it was thought that 140 nm was the limit.

IBM, Microsoft In Joint Venture

After the results of their previous collaboration to produce OS/2 you'd
think they would get the message, but those who do not learn from the
past
are condemned etcetera. Anyway the old monopolist and the new monopolist
are back together again with BEA Systems as a third partner in WSIO, the
Web
Services Interoperability Organization. Its purpose per a participant is
"testing Web software from different suppliers to verify that it really
does
allow the open sharing of data across the Internet". The driving force
seems to be the reluctance of corporate and private users to employ the
Web
for transactions like inventory management and calendar scheduling out of
concern that incompatible standards will lead to errors. Presumably WSIO
will ensure that no one large vendor attempts to pollute the standards.
Hmmm; fox, meet henhouse.


Critical Path In Plea Bargain

The Internet company reached a deal with the SEC over findings that it
was
"creating spurious sales contracts, hiding contingencies affecting
revenue
recognition, and back dating software license agreements" that led to a
false doubling of its sales over two quarters. The former president and
the
ex-VP of sales agreed to civil fines and other penalties; they will also
face criminal charges for fraud and insider trading.


Acrobatic Accounting Claims Another Victim

Enron and Tyco have to make room on the podium for Computer Associates,
whose share price dropped 13.5 percent after Moody's lowered the
company's
bond rating. They did that because its cash flow was off 25% from last
year.
Unfair, says CA CFO Ira Zar: that happened because some big customers
prepaid their license fees the year before which should be a Good Thing,
no?
Yes, but. Mr. Z left something out; Moody's (and investors) look at CA's
cash flow as a measure of its performance because it has so twisted its
standard financial reports (balance sheet, income statement) as to render
them virtually unintelligible even by experts. About a year and a half
ago,
CA adopted pro-forma accounting, a method that according to the article
lets
them "double-count some sales that CA has already made and makes the
company's profits appear far larger than they do under standard
accounting".
CA is still required by law to file financial statements using standard
GAAP
principles, but to avoid that inconvenience it "changed its contracts
with
customers that made the standard results essentially meaningless".
Having
now succeeded in that effort, they wonder why nobody believes them any
more.
Arthur Andersen to the white courtesy telephone, please.


Network Associates Sued Over Censorship

"The customer will not publish reviews of this product without prior
consent
from Network Associates Inc." That is the text that appears on media and
until recently on the Web site for McAfee Virus Scan, Gauntlet firewall,
and
other NA products. In 1999 a reviewer for Network World received a
demand
based on that license clause for a retraction of an article on firewall
software. The state of New York is now suing NA for infringement of
users'
First Amendment rights; the company through its general counsel responds
that NA has "the right to set the terms of its license" and the state may
not interfere. But just in case, they're hedging their bets by saying
the
intent was merely to ensure that reviews covered up-to-date products, and
the Web site now says users may not publish "tests regarding this product
without first verifying with NA that you possess the correct product for
the
test", or you may be guilty of "misrepresentation or deceptive practice".
Prior notification would of course also alert NA that you should be sent
a
specially tailored product to ace the tests.


Letters, They Get Letters

The Tunney Act requires the court to allow a period for public comment in
anti-trust cases. A rough tabulation of those received in the Microsoft
case shows:

30,000 - total comments received
15,000 - opposed to the proposed DOJ settlement
7,500 - in favor of the settlement
7,500 - did not refer to the settlement
2,900 - "containing a degree of substance" (compared to e.g. "Bill
sucks")
2,800 - form letters with "essentially identical text"
1 - "pornography"


Healthy Chocolate Patented

Candy-maker Mars received patent 6,312,753 for a method of roasting cocoa
beans that results in "improving the health of a mammal". Which mammal
was
not specified, but it probably includes the species that buys chocolate.
Anyway the process raises the level of cocoa polyphenols, said to work
against "cancer, tumors, periodontal disease, gingivitis,
atherosclerosis,
and hypertension" as well as providing an antiviral antibacterial
response.
Suggested uses for the new medicine are cookies and brownies. Doctor
Alice
B. Toklas would no doubt be pleased.


A Cellphone In Every Pot

The US may be approaching the point where everybody who could possibly
want
a cellphone has one. The number of users is still growing, but less and
less
each year. In 1999 it was up 26 percent, in 2001 17%, and this year's
prediction is for a 14% rise, to 126 million subscribers from 69 M at the
end of 1998.


Department of Chutzpah



British Co. Claims Hyperlink Patent
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- British Telecommunications PLC claimed in
federal
court Monday that it owns the patent on hyperlinks -- the single-click
conveniences that underlie the Web -- and should get paid for their daily
use by millions of people.

The patent application was filed in 1976 and granted in 1989 according to
the full story, so its terms have to be strained to fit: for example, you
have to consider mouse buttons as a "keypad".


CERT, DoD Issue SNMP Warning

A somewhat unusual collaboration between the CERT computer security
center
and the Department of Defense resulted in a joint announcement of a flaw
related to the Simple Network Management Protocol that could allow
hackers
to take over computers or routers. The story says the flaw was
discovered
last summer by Finnish researchers; CERT determined that products from
3Com,
Cisco, H-P, Microsoft and others were vulnerable and notified them then,
but
that the response was so underwhelming (even after CERT sent letters to
their CEOs) that it went public this week when reports emerged that
hackers
were using the flaw to hijack machines. Basically there seems to be
nothing
wrong with the SNMP protocol for remote system operation, but some
devices
allow such operation without need and without controls against misuse.


Comcast Is Watching You

An AP story on today's wire says the cable company is recording and
storing
(for an amount of time it declined to disclose) which Web pages each of
its
customers in Detroit, Delaware and Virginia visits and will soon expand
the
practice nationwide. The company responded there was no need to tell
subscribers of the change since its privacy statement states it may
collect
such data, and that the purpose is to configure its proxy server to store
the most popular pages. Inktomi, whose software is used by Comcast for
the
purpose, says that tying sites visited to individuals is unnecessary for
server balancing, and that its software may also be used to collect
passwords and credit card numbers. Analysts noted that once the data had
been collected, it would become available to law enforcement agencies and
parties in lawsuits, even if that was not Comcast's intention in
collecting
it. I wonder if Comcast uses SNMP...


Nvidia Suspected Of Accounting Shenanigans

Enron didn't invent dishonesty, they just made it popular; so other
companies' potential pecuniary peccadilloes have been popping up in
papers
ever since. (I wonder if I can work Peter Piper in there somehow;
naahh.)
Anyway Nvidia, the Santa Clara maker of graphics cards and specialty
chips,
is now under the microscope of the SEC and federal criminal prosecutors
for
illegally shifting expenses around and recording cash reserves to dress
up
the net results for a desired quarter. The company is said to be (until
yesterday, when it sank 10% in trading after hours) one of the last high-
flyers on the Valley, with sales up a hundred-fold in the last four
years.


IBM Is Too

Not quite so serious, with no criminal investigation underway, but Big
Blue
may have fudged the $340 million sale of its optical transceiver business
to
JDS Uniphase last year, booking the revenue under ordinary sales as
though
it were a bunch of disk drives instead of listing it as a one-time event.
The deal was not even mentioned until yesterday in passing at a
conference
call with financial analysts.


Publish Or Patent?

A number of companies with new ideas that would be too expensive or time-
consuming to patent right away are publishing them, often at a site
(IP.com)
set up for that purpose, to establish "prior art" as a defense against
anyone else who might try to claim the concept. Domestic patents are
said
to take an average of 25 months from filing to issuance, and run up a tab
of
about $15,000 ($50K for international patents), while publishing on
IP.com
costs $155 per document.


Patent Models Required

Not to pose for artists at the USPO though; up till 1880, inventors were
required to submit scale models of their inventions as part of the
application. In that year the requirement was waived for all inventions
except flying machines and perpetual-motion devices. After the Wright
brothers proved the former was possible, the rule was reduced to just
require PM machine models. A number of the 19th century models have
survived fire and budget cuts and were recently put on display at a
museum
in Virginia.

Quote Of The Day

"It seems to me that if your side has access to it, then the other side,
frankly, should have access to it."

-Judge Kollar-Kotelly, ordering Microsoft to allow review of the
Windows
source code by the nine states that have not signed on to the proposed
DOJ
settlement



Cruel And Unusual Copyrights?

The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishments without
specifying
what they are; the courts have taken on the task of drawing the line.
Similarly, the US Supreme Court has decided to look into the authority of
Congress to issue copyrights and patents "for limited times", as the
length
of copyright protection has grown from 14 years plus another 14 if the
author was still alive to over 100 years. The lawsuit, originally
regarded
by some as a "fanciful academic exercise", challenges the 1998 Sonny Bono
Copyright Term Extension Act that extended the duration of existing
rights
by 20 years at the demand of Disney and other large publishers and
copyright
holders. The plaintiffs lost 2-1 in the DC Circuit last year, and the
decision by the Supremes to accept the case took many by surprise. It
could
have a profound effect on the present balance between copyright holders
and
those, especially on the Internet, who seek to use the works.


Be Stings Microsoft

Remember BeOS? Well, the company is gone as an independent entity,
acquired
by Palm; but it has sued MS for destroying its business "through anti-
competitive practices". The complaint alleges that MS imposed deals on
PC
makers that barred them from installing more than one operating system on
any machine that used Windows.



Who is bringing the copyright case to the supremes?

Or, is there a link for that story. It would be too good to be true
for the Bono law to be rolled back, but i can hope.


The article says the plaintiffs in Eldred vs. Ashcroft are "a coalition
of
publishers and individuals"; Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law filed their
USSC brief. It's on the docket as 01-618.

CA Sinks A Sixth

Computer Associates stock fell 17 percent on reports the company is being
investigated by the FBI over its reporting of revenue, not a good thing
to
have published about you these days. A Federal criminal inquiry into
possible overstatement of net profits for the purpose of boosting share
prices and executives' bonuses is known to be underway, but a CA
spokesbot
says they have no information on the new trouble.


EU Proposes Restricted Law On Software Patents

Unlike US and Japanese law which permit a wide range of software
business-
method patents (like one-click buying), the European Commission's
proposal
would allow coverage only for "software applications of a technical
nature"
and none for business methods. The MS-backed Business Standards Alliance
said the plan "departs from what we had hoped to see"; it may also raise
some interesting international conflict-of-law issues for ideas that are
protected in some places, not in others, and sold everywhere.


all from Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com

Thanks, Ron!!!!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 68 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Apr  4, 2002 (15:05) * 42 lines 
 
ronks:


The Modular OS As Death Sentence

Microsoft is reported deeply concerned at the possibility it may be ordered
to offer a core Windows system capable of being packaged by PC makers with
third-party add-ons like browsers and media players. The article observes
that while the appeals court affirmed MS used a dozen or so illegal means to
protect its monopoly status, the "commingling of code" was the only one the
defendant asked them to reconsider. Even though the court declined to do
so, MS continues to fight the battle. The proposed settlement with the DOJ
and some states would allow Microsoft to bundle all the features it wants
into the OS, but permit their desktop shortcut icons to be hidden. An AOL
VP testified recently that MS would retain substantial power to coerce PC
makers not to hide the icons, and said there is a feature in Windows XP that
urges users "to sweep competing icons off the screen after 14 days", which
he said blocks "meaningful customization of the desktop experience by anyone
except Microsoft". A Microsoft attorney countered that the proposed remedy
would fail to create competition, except between different "customized
versions of Windows".


MS President Quits

The president and chief operating officer of Microsoft, Richard Belluzzo,
announced he will leave that position next month. Mr. B came to MS about 3
years ago; before that he was CEO at Silicon Graphics and an exec at H-P.
He says he does not presently have another job lined up but wants to "run a
business and be a chief executive", not a likely chance at Microsoft where
Messrs. Gates and Ballmer have the best corner offices and the power;
especially after a coming corporate reorg that will offer more autonomy to
business unit heads under CEO Mr. Big B.


New Release Due

Bill's wife Melinda is reported to be expecting "Gates 3.0" sometime in
October according to a "family spokesman". They now have a 5-year old
daughter and a son, 2. There is absolutely no reason to believe the news is
related to Mr. Belluzzo's sudden departure.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 69 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Apr  4, 2002 (15:05) * 1 lines 
 
Baby XP?


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 70 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Apr  8, 2002 (13:25) * 50 lines 
 
Taxi Ride As Relationship Business

Most city trips in a taxi are pretty anonymous: you go somewhere, hand over
the money, and walk away. Fine, so long as you're not short on cash and you
don't leave your umbrella behind in the cab. Patent 6,347,739 addresses
those concerns as well as the driver's over being a rolling piggybank. It
consists of a wireless modem and a credit-card reader attached to the taxi
meter; you get a record of your expense and the ID number of the cab in case
you left something behind, and the driver has less cash on board.


Lights! Action! Credit!

More and more institutions are issuing credit cards these days and people
are carrying multiple plastic. So when they open their wallet (to pay the
cabdriver, say) they see a card from every bank where they had an account,
every university they took a class at, every jail they were paroled from
maybe. Rising to the top of the stack is a challenge attacked by patent
6,325,284; a card using this idea flashes and/or makes sounds when it senses
"a change in ambient light, pressure, or noise" and emits "different tones
or phrases" and "intermittent pulses of light ... produced according to a
predetermined pattern". The idea is for the card to call attention to
itself, not (presumably) to antagonize other theater patrons or whatever.
But the article observes that the inventors (who include security guru Bruce
Schneier and Priceline.com patent-holder Jay Walker) may license their
invention to many institutions, so every time you go to buy something you
could face "a wallet full of flashing, beeping plastic". There may also be
prior art: in Tolkien's _Hobbit_ Bilbo tries to filch a troll's purse.
"''Ere, 'oo are you?' it squeaked as it left the pocket."


Microsoft Reform School Extended

Classes in how to write secure code for MS programmers were supposed to run
till the end of February, after a series of nasty hits like Code Red and
Nimda to its best corporate customers led many to wonder if its software was
safe to use. Well, it's April and the re-education camps continue; the
current phase may wrap up this month, though executives and PR types insist
the new mindset will remain forever yadda yadda. The program director
acknowledged that the students "initially showed some resistance to the
project, but in the end the experience of seeing offending code on a giant
screen in a large auditorium proved humbling". Skepticism remains
especially among proponents of open-source software, who observe the absence
of public scrutiny leaves the effectiveness of the training unknown until
the next reported incident. Speaking of which, the FBI published a survey
they conducted with large corporations and government agencies that
indicates "about 90 percent detected computer security attacks in the last
year but only 34 percent reported those attacks to authorities".

ronks@well.com Ron Sipherd wrote this


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 71 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Apr 12, 2002 (06:15) * 53 lines 
 
ronks:


Hailstorm Over, Skies Clearing

Microsoft's "My Services" initiative (originally code-named Hailstorm) to
give everyone a kind of roving identity so they could log on anywhere to get
e-mail and buy stuff, with personal data securely stored on MS servers (I
hear you laugh, but that was the plan) for global use is reported to be
getting a quiet burial. Or according to Microsoft general manager Charles
Fitzgerald, "We're sort of in the Hegelian synthesis of figuring out where
the products go once they've encountered the reality of the marketplace."
Well, you can see why he's a manager; anyone who talks like that is
obviously incapable of doing useful work. The reality seems to have come in
two doses. One is foreign restrictions on transborder data flow especially
in Europe, which limits the transfer of personal information between
countries. In the US there was the unexpectedly (to MS) stiff resistance of
companies to letting The Octopus, or to a lesser extent any third party,
maintain sensitive data about their customers. Despite MS' earlier
predictions they would sign up vendors right and left, the article says
"after nine months of intense effort the company was unable to find any
partner willing to commit itself to the program". One possible Hegelian
synthesis, or maybe just a way to salvage a few bucks from the effort, is to
license My Services technology to companies so they can privately maintain
their own customer info.


YACIF

Yet another consortium is formed; this time IBM, Microsoft, and VeriSign
will join forces to create WS-Security, described as a set of extensions to
SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). The goal is to persuade companies to
share consumer, product, inventory etc. data for easier interchange. A sort
of non-proprietary EDI, I think, so that for example one business's
inventory system can query a supplier for items the buyer is running low on
and place an order over the Web. Might use some leftover MS technology and
staff from the late Hailstorm project too, come to think of it.


DoubleClick Tombstone Up

They're not dead; a tombstone is what they call those legal notice ads
packed with tiny print. "All persons in the United States who have had any
information about their computers or about them gathered by DoubleClick as a
result of their Internet activity or who have had DoubleClick cookies placed
upon their computers or browsers" are told "This Notice contains important
information that may affect your rights." Namely that the class action on
privacy has been settled, DoubleClick promises to change its wicked ways
(for example, their cookies will now expire in a mere five years), and the
plaintiff's lawyers get $1,800,000 for their pains. Of which the actual
plaintiffs will receive $0,000,000. Details on this fabulous offer
available at . Call now!



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 72 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Apr 25, 2002 (19:05) * 21 lines 
 
ronks:

AOL Time Warner Loses $54 Billion In Quarter

Their colossal flop seems due mostly to the AOL division whose new
subscriptions have leveled off and whose ad revenue has plummeted; meanwhile
the movie and other old-line segments of the company, "once dismissed by
dot-com acolytes as stodgy relics, have steadily forged ahead". The CEO-
elect Richard Parsons, who earlier "irked some investors" by observing that
an obsession with individual quarters was shortsighted and suggesting a
longer-term view, seems to have capitulated and says his new focus is on
avoiding bad quarters. The current whopper may in fact be part of the plan:
by taking an immense one-time charge, Mr. Parsons can get that out of the
way and make the subsequent accounting reports look nicer. I mean it is
pretty hard to do much worse than losing $54 billion net in three months.
The company is also trying to get people to stop looking at standard GAAP
measures like revenue and profit, and track "ebitda" instead. Even so, their
expected "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization" is
now down to 7 percent from an earlier predicted 10%. Time to call in Arthur
Andersen to pretty up the books..



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 73 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, May  3, 2002 (12:35) * 31 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Fri May 3 '02 (10:54) 29 lines


Why They Left

Sun Microsystems is said to be planning a long-range effort, internally
named N1, that led Scott McNealy to tell senior execs recently they should
either plan to stay around for five years' minimum, or go now. Many went.
He has also begun thinking Long Thoughts about corporate directions after
joining GE's board and mulling the management philosophy of its former CEO
Jack Welch. One of the goals of N1 is to reduce the company's reliance on
hardware, which presently accounts for about 70% of its business but is
evolving into a low-margin commodity operation. N1, which will surely have
a catchier name when it's announced on May 22, is Sun's strategy to build
the Internet computer, described as "a combination of hardware and software
that will in effect combine the entire computing resources of a company ...
to work as one vast computer", meshing mainframes, servers, and desktop
units from different manufacturers running different operating systems.


No Easy Cure For Sex, Say Researchers

The National Research Council has released its study "Youth, Pornography and
the Internet" on how to shield children from bad things on the Web. Their
conclusion in a nutshell is there's no simple answer. "Though some might
wish otherwise, no single approach - technical, legal, economic, educational
- will be sufficient", they say, and there is no "'quick fix' to the
challenge of pornography on the Internet". They observe for example that
kiddie filters "can be highly effective ... if the inability to access large
amounts of appropriate material is acceptable".



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 74 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, May 13, 2002 (09:48) * 44 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Fri May 10 '02 (11:24) 42 lines


High Speed To The Wall

The current (May 2002) issue of Scientific American has an article on the
future of "ultrawideband wireless" data transmission, particularly over
short distances. The technology is based on the premise stated in the
article that "Many in the developed world already spend most of the day
within 10 meters of some kind of wired link to the Internet", so the field
of greatest payback for vendors is in spatial capacity rather than raw
bandwidth. Spatial capacity is a measure of bit rates over area, similar to
how light fixtures are measured in lumens per square meter. UWB transmitters
operating at 100 megabits per second, about today's level, really shine (so
to speak) at spatial capacity and low power drain per the following matchup:

Power, Kilobits/
milliwatts Sq Meter

802.11b 50 1
Bluetooth 1 30
802.11a 200 55
UWB 0.2 1,000

UWB employs a different form of transmission from your father's radio (or
your kid's cell phone); it has no carrier frequency. Instead it consists of
brief pulses over a wide range of frequencies, varying in amplitude,
polarity, timing, and other characteristics to create Fourier approximations
of square waves. This factor renders it more likely to interfere with other
wireless devices, and in turn to suffer interference from them as well as
from hair dryers and the like. (At present there seems no great danger that
hair dryers will spontaneously turn on in the neighborhood of a wireless
LAN, but when they start to get their own IP numbers, look out; we'll
probably have to go back to fanning our heads with ostrich feathers or
whatever people used in olden days.) Anyway, the likelihood of UWB being a
source of interference is minimized by the devices' short range and low
power: a 0.2 milliwatt UWB transmitter generates about 1/3000 the radiation
of a 600 mw cell phone for example. Engineers are working meanwhile on
electronic filters to address interference, multipath distortion, and
similar input problems. The article concludes by noting that in 1976,
before the advent of short-hop communications like cell phones, "telephone
providers in New York City could handle only 545 mobile telephone customers
at a time". That has changed.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 75 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun 12, 2002 (11:56) * 30 lines 
 


Broadband For The Masses

Only 7 percent of US homes today have high-speed Internet access, per the
FCC. Cost is the primary reason; not just the monthly fees but also the
expense of wiring the "last mile" to the house, and within ye olde domicile
itself. Two guys in a garage (really; just six blocks from Apple's
birthplace and probably not far from Messrs. H & P's house) have figured out
a way to modify the code on 802.11b Wi-Fi circuit boards that allows for
wireless high-bandwidth data transmission up to twenty miles, thus
eliminating much of the need for DSL and cable Internet connections. Their
company is called Etherlinx and with a whopping $200,000 of investor money
already serves about a dozen paying customers in their Oakland trials.
Larger companies have expressed interest, but most are said to be waiting on
a new wireless standard under development called 802.16 that may address
long-range transmission in a more buttoned-down official format.


Apple's 12-Step Plan

They intend to run a series of ads featuring people against a plain white
background talking about they swore off Windows and embraced the Macintosh
faith. One calls his MS usage like "being stuck in a bad relationship".
Steve Jobs sounded almost pleading with Mr. Bill not to take offense, saying
"What's a few marketing points between friends? It wouldn't matter to them,
and we would be eternally grateful." This may call for a new definition of
"friends" and "eternally".

Ron Sipherd (ronks@well.com)


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 76 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun 19, 2002 (06:45) * 17 lines 
 

It Takes An iVillage

The network of women's sites has undergone a makeover: two-thirds of the
staff has been liposuctioned out, "flamboyant" CEO Candice Carpenter was
replaced two years ago by a man, and instead of paying AOL and MSN to carry
their content they may start to charge $5 a month for viewing privileges.
They have also branched out into a line of branded "nutraceutical" pills,
books with not very liberated titles like "How To Find and Keep A Man" and
"Heirloom Recipes", and a "$35 six-week online sexual self-improvement
course" which provided $100,000 in revenue. (Exactly how it improved the
2857.14 women who took it was not described, nor did the article suggest a
need for lab assistants.) One thing remains, however: they have yet to make
money. They had $60 million revenue in 2001, down from $76 M the year before
and another net loss, though reportedly narrowing.

Ron Sipherd, ronks@well.com. Thanks Ron!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 77 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jul  8, 2002 (13:16) * 33 lines 
 
Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com :



The Empire Strikes Upwards

The second generation of the Itanium CPU, evidently much larger than its
parents, is to become available today; it represents according to the news
story Intel's latest attempt to crack the data center ceiling. While Intel
chips are in 85 percent of servers today, that's mostly in smaller ones like
print and Web servers. About half the $49 billion annual revenue for
servers goes to bigger machines, mostly from Sun, that drive back office
operations like manufacturing and finance, and Intel wants a piece of that.
Even the best hardware will take time to be accepted at those levels though,
largely due to the cost of converting applications, so results are not
expected to show up for a while.


There They Go Again

The US government, who brought us Ada and kept OSI on life support long
after it had flatlined everywhere else, is set to develop a uniform standard
for information interchange. A bill introduced in the Senate would create
the "Office of Electronic Government"; despite its alarming name, it's not
intended replace those pesky humans in the legislature with machines, but to
set up a bureau to standardize the format of data both publicly available
and for internal use. Chances are they will settle on XML, but that still
leaves a myriad of details like whether you call a data item ,
, , and so forth. Even within the Defense
Department they have not decide what a name is: first and last, first and
middle initial and last, or all spelled out. Expect a long costly effort,
followed by long costly hearings on why it failed.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 78 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jul 22, 2002 (11:34) * 48 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Mon Jul 22 '02 (09:24) 45 lines


Real Challenge

RealNetworks is expected to announce new server software that can distribute
audio and video files in Windows Media as well as Real's own and other
formats. Although the Helix product was developed with "clean-room"
techniques, Real says it would not be surprised if Microsoft sued them over
its proprietary streaming media features. Licensing of Helix is a variant
of open-source called "community source": the source code is freely
available, but a fee is required for development of Helix-based commercial
products. The article says the Java license was a model; it also sounds
like TrollTech's licensing strategy for its Qt GUI interface software.
Although the RealOne player has the lead on client machines for now, it has
to watch its heels: Jupiter says RealOne has 29.1% market share, Windows
Media is right behind with 28.2%, and Apple's QuickTime has 12.1%. But if
Real can persuade Sun and IBM to bundle Helix with their OS, much as
Microsoft did with Windows Media, it could get a significant (almost said
real) boost.


Some Guys And The Future

According to some guy named John Schwartz (), some futurist named
Howard Rheingold () predicts that wireless phones and messagers could
lead to a major new social phenomenon that he calls "smart mobs": groups
acting in concert, perhaps without even realizing it. For example, word of
a party or demonstration spreads out over the devices like ripples in a pond
and people converge on the event. In Finland a cooperative called Aula runs
a club for its 500 members whose "radio-frequency ID tags" not only let them
in but also let others know they're there; its goal is to supplement the
virtual community with a real meeting space; sort of like the Well picnic.


The Internet Is Not Dead

Another article says that despite the flight of investors, and the recent
shakeup at Time Warner AOL that suggested the print media has ousted the
webby usurper, the online world has shown considerable growth down at the
consumer level where the revenue comes from. However, the reality is
shaping up to be much different from the entrepreneurs' visions of a few
year back; "the Internet has turned out to be more of a souped-up telephone
than a delivery vehicle for media and entertainment". The story notes that
61 percent of adult Americans use the Net today, nearly a third more than in
2000, and e-mail is the most popular use.

Thanks Ron!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 79 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jul 25, 2002 (13:39) * 49 lines 
 
(ronks) Thu Jul 25 '02 (08:54) 48 lines


Got Laptop?

Denver airport officials put up the sign above at security check stations
after 95 computers were left behind by harried travelers in the month of
February. Increased scrutiny of airline passengers since 9/11 means they
have to take the PC out of its bag and show the National Guard it can play
Solitaire; in the rush to gather raincoats, suitcases, explain why you
packed forbidden nail clippers and other instruments of mass destruction,
many forget to put the machine back in the bag. Seattle-Tacoma airport had
330 of them left behind in the seven months after they started inspections,
and 204 in just the last three.


It Isn't Easy Being Green

Computer Associates spokesperns are at great pains today to explain that the
ten million dollars the company gave Sam Wyly to drop his proxy fight to
elect five members to the board, thus leaving shareholders with no choice
other than management's pick, is not greenmail. They seem to feel the need
to say that because everybody outside the company thinks that's what it was.


.Net 101

Called by one participant ".Net For Dummies", Microsoft brass made an
elaborate presentation to reporters and analysts to explain what the vastly
trumpeted initiative is about, two years after it was introduced. The
article seemed to suggest it's still not entirely clear; according to VP Jim
Allchin, "It really is about plumbing and concrete and protocols", yet no
plumbers or foundation contractors attended the session. From the story,
it's also about fighting IBM, Oracle, Sun, and a host of smaller firms for
control of the supposedly big-potential Web services business; it's about
persuading customers to rent software rather than buy licenses; it's about
ending the era of "open computing" and the "free exchange of digital
information" through a group called the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance
that MS seeks to influence to make PC builders include self-limiting
circuits to limit the media they play and the code they will run.
(Persuading people this brave new world of renting and crippled computers is
an improvement sounds like a major challenge, for anyone but a monopoly.)
And it's about a new "communications server" called Greenwich, a new SQL
server called Yukon, a Windows Media Center to display ".Net-style
information to the television in the living room" (so the whole family can
crunch databases in the evening?); last and greatest it's about Longhorn,
the new OS two years off that will be just better than anything ever before
etc. One gets the feeling from reading the article that the reporter was
not persuaded.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 80 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Aug 12, 2002 (11:31) * 21 lines 
 
(ronks) Mon Aug 12 '02 (08:37) 19 lines


Linux At The Edges

As competition develops for its Solaris-based servers from rivals like IBM,
and cost conscious buyers move to clustered Linux systems running on old or
commodity-priced hardware, not to mention the slumparoonie in the dot-com
and telecom industries, Sun Microsystems has seen its revenues fall by about
a third. One apparent response is to rethink its strategy of pushing thin
clients and fat centralized servers. Microsoft has graciously, if
unwittingly, sent an opportunity their way; the new MS policy of forcing
corporate customers to rent software seems to be leading many to look to
Linux as a way to regain control over their systems and costs. So Sun will
introduce its new LX50 server today, a $2800 model running a 1.4 GHz Intel
CPU which the article compares to a $3700 Dell/RedHat unit. Analysts note
Sun's timing is good, since the movement to Linux is still new and IBM and
H-P, though pioneers, don't have a lock on the market. They also speculate
Sun's strategy may be to retain its high-margin Solaris servers at the core
while promoting Linux units "at the edge of the network and in desktop
applications".


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 81 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Aug 19, 2002 (15:18) * 55 lines 
 
ronks rides again.


iPhone On The Way?

An article in today's paper suggests that Newton II may be on Apple's
drawing board, despite the role of its daddy in ending CEO John Sculley's
career there. The new device, whose existence is largely denied by Mr.
Sculley's predecessor/successor Steve Jobs, would be both a cell phone and a
PDA. While the present Apple management is mum about such plans, the story
notes how the foundation is being laid with a license that allows the iPod's
software (bought from a third party, Pixo) to be used on a second product
and numerous handheld-friendly features in the new Mac OS X. Such as (takes
deep breath) chat, e-mail, an address book, a calendar, automatic
networking, data synchronization, handwriting recognition, and additions to
the Sherlock information-search tool that include restaurants, movie times,
and airline schedules. Apple faces a changed world since Newton I: on one
hand the cost of components has declined greatly and the concept is no
longer so new or risible; on the other, the playing field is already crowded
with competitors like Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, and Palm, and startups
Handspring and Danger.


Mist-On On The Way

Patent number 20020088475 was issued to Texas inventor Thomas Laughlin for
his "system for coating the human skin". The device, a sort of walk-in
closet with nozzles, can spray the victim er client with suntan lotion,
insect repellent, instant tanning cream, "skin bleaches" (presumably not at
the same time as the instant tanning glop), "decontamination agents, muscle
relaxants, and wrinkle treatments". Also with something called "massage
aides", which appear not to be tiny large-handed homunculi but scented oil.
After which I imagine a real person performs the rubdown, though Mr.
Laughlin may be working on the Iron Masseuse; stay tuned.


Video Spam On The Way

Talkway Communications of Fremont CA has unveiled a software product for
sending full-motion sound-and-video e-mail messages that don't require "any
special software" on the recipient's end. The product, VmailTalk, is said
to have "positive effects for customer acquisition"; soon spammers will be
able to show just how much they can enlarge any desired organs, with
animation yet (and make them talk too, another boon). Science marches on.


Vanilla Ice Cream In Path Of Monster?

The Toho Company of Japan, owner of the "Godzilla" name and character, has
threatened to sue David Linabury, host of davezilla.com, over his "use of
the 'zilla' formative" and his "emaciated cartoon dragon" for infringement
of their rights. Mr. Linabury has refused and offered to battle Godzilla
(in court) over it. Toho reps decline to comment, but with hundred of other
sites using the dreaded formative including mozilla.org, the monster and his
lawyers may be gearing up for a busy season.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 82 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 23, 2002 (18:32) * 36 lines 
 
ronks rides yet again.

Novell Up

The software and services company reports a quarterly profit of $10 million
compared to a $19 M loss a year earlier, and a 13% rise in sales.

Off The Clock

A story in yesterday's paper covered much the same ground (though faster) as
an article in the August issue of Scientific American: asynchronous computer
circuits. In CPU chips today, a central clock sets the pace for almost all
operations, like the drum-beater in a Roman galley ship. Besides providing
the manufacturer with bragging rights (2 gigahertz! 2.2 gigahertz! 2.22 GHz!
and so forth), the clock sets the pace so the operations of data fetching,
calculation, storage etc. in different sections can interoperate. This
uniformity comes at a price, though: up to a third of the chip's electrical
power may be devoted to the clock and its circuitry, a particular problem on
battery-powered devices; the clock always runs, generating waste heat even
when the computer is idle; and the fixed frequency of the clock generates
radio signals in tune with its harmonics that can interfere with wireless
devices. Equally important, the clock forces faster sections of the chip to
operate at the pace of the slowest component. By contrast, an asynchronous
chip is more like a bucket brigade; if you are ready to pass the bucket onto
the next person downstream and they are ready to receive it, you can do so
without regard to some central metronome's pace. Of course, this approach
poses its own problems: CPU clocks weren't invented just to slow everybody
down. The two main issues identified to date are (1) determining when all
the components of the predecessor task have been marshaled so that the next
task can begin, known as the Rendezvous; and (2) arbitrating which of two
requests (say for shared memory) is to receive precedence. The SA article
goes into mind-numbing length on the resolution of these issues to date,
including a 14th century parable about an ass placed exactly between two
equal piles of hay who starves from inability to decide. Zzzzzz.. Oh yes,
the story; anyway, more info for the terminally curious is available at
.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 83 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Aug 26, 2002 (13:46) * 15 lines 
 
Thanks Ron!

Now We Know

When the Arizona attorney general's office shut down Scottsdale Internet
merchant CP Direct and inventoried its assets, they uncovered a number of
facts about the world of e-mail marketing. The company was apparently a
major source of those annoying ads for pills to increase the size of the,
ah, male organ. The treatment was found to consist of pumpkin seeds,
sarsaparilla, and "oyster meat" (for some reason in quotes, maybe they
swapped in clam meat, no wonder it didn't work - never mind). Anyway their
profits were wonderfully enlarged, probably since the bottles they sold for
$60 cost them $2.45; the company's property included "$30 million in luxury
real estate and a herd of Mercedes-Benzes, Rolls-Royces, and a Lamborghini".



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 84 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Sep  3, 2002 (08:52) * 27 lines 
 
Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com writes:



The Next Twenty Years

The effect on Social Security of the changing US demographic over the coming
decades has been endlessly debated, but its larger effect on the economy is
less well known. The nonpartisan Aspen Institute has just released a report
comparing the previous two decades with the next two. A couple conclusions
stand out, with most workers of 2022 already born; growth in the work force
will be considerably slower, and disparities in income will widen as fewer
skilled workers are available for more openings and fewer unskilled jobs are
available. From 1980 to 2000, the baby boom and the influx of women workers
pushed the workforce up 50%; by 2020, that figure should rise by only 16% as
boomers retire and women's figures cease to bulge [must find better way of
phrasing that]. The number of educated US workers grew by 19% since 1980,
but will only rise 4% in 2020, and the pool of age 25-54 Americans may not
grow at all. Potential effects of the diminished US labor growth are:

- a slowdown in the annual growth of the GDP by up to a percent;
- increased wage premiums for skilled applicants;
- increased reliance on foreign workers (who accounted in 1996-2001 for 89%
of US growth in workers 25-54, and 53% of those with advanced degrees),
especially for occupations not requiring physical relocation to the US;
- a rise in on-the-job training for needed skills.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 85 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Sep  6, 2002 (16:28) * 28 lines 
 

Rather Ripped Napster

Ripped as in R.I.P. The music-sharing company has been inactive for over a
year, since a Federal court declared it abetted the infringement of
copyrighted material. It entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy three months ago and
planned to take a $9 million buyout from German media conglomerate and part-
owner Bertelsmann; but that plan was just blocked by the court since
Napster's CEO Conrad Hilbers had "divided loyalty" as a former Bertelsmann
executive. Mr. Hilbers responded that the company would move to Chapter 7
(liquidation) proceedings. Then he laid off all his staff and quit; this is
not considered a good sign for the future of the business.


Time Slices, Like An Arrow

The September issue of Scientific American is devoted to the concept of
time: its physics, psychology, etc. One article describes divisions of time
from one attosecond (a billionth of a billionth of a second, but still lots
longer than a unit of Planck time, which is 10 **-43 second) on up to a
billion years and the evaporation of the last black hole in 10 **100 years.
Anyway, it introduces a new measure akin to the Standard Human Hair or the
area of Rhode Island: 1/350 of a second, or the amount of time in which
Americans (presumably in the aggregate) eat one slice of pizza.



Thanks Ron!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 86 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Sep  9, 2002 (13:02) * 20 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Mon Sep 9 '02 (10:32) 18 lines


Promoting Open Source Can Get You Fired

At least it seems to have gotten Bruce Perens fired from H-P. Before the
merger with Compaq, Mr. Perens was H-P's GNU Linux evangelist, urging
customers to consider it and then letting the company's sales force explain
why H-P was the best choice for Linux products. After the merger, H-P
became "the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers" and
hence at the mercy of the giant of Redmond who has funded a front er an
"industry group" called the Initiative For Software Choice whose goal is to
fight "legislative proposals, government statements, and studies" that
support using open-source software. (Studies even? Once somebody starts to
study the issue they become a potential enemy of the people evidently.) Mr.
Perens was informed ten days ago that he was terminated. In related news,
market-research firm StatMarket has pronounced Netscape effectively dead,
with less that 3 percent share compared with Internet Explorer's 96%, all
achieved you may be sure by free and unconstrained public choice.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 87 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Sep 11, 2002 (10:01) * 17 lines 
 

A Step Forward, A Step Sideways

H-P researchers say new molecular-level chip fabrication techniques,
described as "an ultra-high-tech waffle iron" (hold the syrup), should lead
within the next few years to memory densities of over a trillion bits per
square centimeter. Today's memory is said to max out at around half a
billion bits. They anticipate making wires within the circuits no more than
an atom wide. The company just received a patent on aspects of the
technology, which is also being pursued by IBM and probably others.
Meanwhile Intel says its new processors will include "advanced security
features" which create a sort of virtual vault for data secure from hackers;
the "LaGrande" technology is intended to work with Microsoft's Palladium
security software initiative, and will also prevent you from sharing music,
video and other files that the suits don't want you to pass around.

Thank you, Ron.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 88 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Sep 11, 2002 (10:44) * 9 lines 
 
ronks is busy today.


Hands Down

IDC reports worldwide sales of handheld PDAs fell 9.3% last quarter to 2.6
million, the second decline in a row. Palm is still the leader followed by
HP-Compaq, Sony, Handspring, and "Hi-Tech Wealth" of China.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 89 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Sep 24, 2002 (11:40) * 37 lines 
 
ronks rides again.

Poor Software Foundation Holds Fundraiser

As Richard Stallman likes to point out "Free software is free as in freedom,
not as in free beer". Companies make money selling it even if they don't
have the same ownership rights as Microsoft and Apple over their creations;
just ask Red Hat and IBM. But that doesn't mean they're putting much of it
back into the Free Software Foundation, especially in the current business
downturn, and the FSF has expenses even if most of its technical work is
done by volunteers. So it held a benefit dinner and passed the hat last
week at the NY apartment of a GNU software company founder, raising $6,000
from the 25 guests.


Fat Pipes At Post Office

One of the largest conduits for the delivery of digital media is - the US
Postal Service, thanks largely to the growing industry of video on demand
and DVDs. A company like Netflix who mails out movies for rent or sale to
consumers accounts for an estimated 1500 terabytes of data a day, compared
to around 2000-4000 terabytes a day for the Internet.


Peregrine Lays An Egg

Business-software maker Peregrine Systems filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy
and sold off its Remedy unit to BMC Software for $350 million. Investors
are still waiting for audited financial reports for fiscal years 2000
through 2002, and the company says it expects to restate revenue for 11
quarters downward by about a quarter billion to reflect transactions booked
as sales that should have been called loans. They are suing their former
auditor Arthur Andersen - take a number, guys - for negligence and fraud.
Apart from the fact that AA will likely be picked clean before the case gets
to trial, it will be interesting to hear the plaintiff claim to be a victim
because its auditor went along with the plaintiff's own schemes.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 90 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Oct  9, 2002 (13:33) * 94 lines 
 

Who Needs Moore's Law Anyway?

This just in: humans are not getting any faster, and most don't need their
PCs to do so either. With primary consumer uses like e-mail, Web surfing,
and word processing, systems beyond 2 gigahertz look to many like a 1000-
watt lightbulb; impressive but unnecessary. A recent review of households
showed the number "very likely to purchase a new PC in the next six months"
had fallen to 11%, from an average in the late nineties of around 14% and a
spike in late 1999 of 21% as people rushed to buy new systems able to handle
the year 1900 (oops). Demand has slackened despite the fact that for the
first time in eight years, most home users have machines over two years old.
Analysts suggest the industry is still in denial over the decline; as one
put it, they're "walking around like members of the cargo cult after World
War II." An indication of their attitude comes from their expressed belief
that the new drivers for new-PC demand will be games and home video editing.
Some of the downturn appears attributable to the recession, but it may also
herald a shift away from spending "techno-lust" disposable income on PCs and
toward other gizmos like cellphones, PDAs, and portable music players.


Vicarious Revenge On Spammers

When Sparklist.com, the host of Marketing Sherpa's e-mail address list
containing 10 million names, was sold to a rival, disgruntled former
employees sold the list to spammers. The resultant deluge of pornography,
make-money-fast, and organ-enlargement ads sent to their customers was
"mortifying" according a Sherpa executive. So for kicks they created
where you can subject sleazy characters
like Mr. Viagro and cartoonish nubiles to vats of boiling oil, hordes of
crazed flying monkeys, and of course an avalanche of e-mail.


We're All Bubble Boys On This Bus

In the firm belief that every burnoose-clad barbarian is cooking up pots of
anthrax and smallpox spores to lob at the civilized world, the homeland-
security folks are beefing up hospital decontamination wards. But getting
all the civilized sickos to the ward without spreading the stuff around is a
problem. Enter the living-body bag, AKA the "personal pod". These things,
for which patents are issuing, are described as a "giant Ziploc sandwich bag
with a blower and a filtered exhaust". Another version seals "with an
adhesive similar to that found on disposable diapers". I feel so much safer
now.


SIA Says Chip Sales Up

A survey by the Semiconductor Industry Association shows a 14 percent
increase in worldwide sales of chips from a year ago, primarily for use in
consumer products such as mobile phones, DVD players, and digital cameras.
It predicts sales this year should total around $143 billion.



ASAP RIP

Forbes ASAP, created in 1992 to provide coverage of the "digital economy",
is no more; it has been shut by ailing parent Forbes. It came out six times
a year, then four; now zero. A spokespern said "There is no market for a
dedicated new-economy publication." Taking a longer view was John Battelle,
former head of the company that published the now-defunct Industry Standard,
who observed "These magazines are gone until they come back, though probably
in different clothing. There will be another boom in the business cycle,
and there will be a new crop of magazines to cover it."


Follow The Money

Charles James, the DOJ antitrust chief who capitulated I mean negotiated a
settlement of the federal suit against Microsoft, is quitting for a job at
Chevron-Texaco because he says it offered him more money and a place on its
executive committee. Robert Pitofsky, former FTC head, noted that while Mr.
James verbally "was very supportive of enforcement ... he didn't bring many
cases of note at all", fewer in fact than Reagan's antitrust chief William
Baxter.


Tons O' Phone

An EPA report estimates that in three years about 65,000 tons of old cell
phones will be discarded annually. "Old" in this context meaning "replaced
by something more appealing" as in "old ex-spouse", not just say a 1970's
shoebox size cordless. Anyway, one approach is the "Take Back Your Phone"
drive to make manufacturers accept returned units and recycle them, though
simply rearranging the components for resale may not fool everybody; perhaps
they can be made into postmodern 65,000-ton sculptures that comment on our
throwaway digital lifestyle. Or perhaps not. Anyway, the makers of cell
phones don't like the idea; they prefer that "old phones be turned over to
charities or resold in less developed countries." So if a new mountain pops
up on the banks of the Limpopo or wherever it might not be a volcano, just a
pile of Nokias.

- ronks


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 91 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Oct 14, 2002 (16:31) * 36 lines 
 
(ronks) Mon Oct 14 '02 (08:46) 34 lines


Patents And Copyrights And Trade Secrets, Oh My

As the US pursues its war on piracy of intellectual property, it's worth
noting that the biggest Jolly Roger in the 1800's was flown by a country
located between Canada and Mexico. Prior to 1891, only citizens and
residents of the US could obtain copyright protection for their works, so
that for example Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" sold for six cents here as
opposed to the equivalent of $2.50 in England. By the 1890's however it had
become apparent that Americans were producing books and other works that
needed protection abroad, only available if we reciprocated, and since then
the US has become one of the loudest voices decrying other countries doing
what we did. The Trips ("Trade related aspects of intellectual property
rights", sounds better than Traoipr I guess) agreement being pushed on
members of the WTO would require nations to enforce a standard and a strong
set of IP rules worldwide. The World Bank just did a study of who wins and
who loses from Trips: it concluded the US would gain about $19 billion a
year in additional royalties, Germany about $7 B, Japan $6 B, and France
around $3 B. China would lose $5 B, Mexico $3 B, India $1 B, and Brazil
about $0.5 billion. While Trips has been on a roll among WTO signatories,
the World Bank study reinforces a feeling born of the AIDS epidemic and the
high cost of patented drugs leading third world countries to rethink its
virtues. Of course once they too become rich and famous, they may see
things differently, just as we did..

In other news, the feeling among the plaintiffs seeking in the Supreme Court
to overturn the recent extension of US copyright terms is not optimistic.
At a meeting after oral arguments the general perception was that while the
Supremes felt "disdain" for the law, they were reluctant to declare it
unconstitutional. Still the plaintiffs felt they had lit a fire that might
in time ignite public opinion and persuade legislators to see both sides of
the issue rather than just Disney's. As one attorney put it, "A lot of us
feel this is like the environmental movement before 'Silent Spring'".



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 92 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Oct 15, 2002 (11:38) * 18 lines 
 
(ronks) Tue Oct 15 '02 (09:32) 15 lines


Return Of The Mainframe

Well, not exactly. But ancient computer maker Unisys, who has also branched
out into the more up-to-date services biz, reported quarterly earnings of
$59 million, up from $21 M last year even though revenue was off about 4%.


Play With Your Phone

In what is either a visionary breakthrough or one of the silliest uses of
new technology, Intel is expected to announce a new generation of flash
memory and stacked processor chips based on the ARM design that will
"give cell phone users the ability to execute such performance-intensive
applications as MPEG4 video, speech and handwriting recognition, and Java".



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 93 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Oct 25, 2002 (07:22) * 160 lines 
 
ronks:


Return Of The Mainframe

Well, not exactly. But ancient computer maker Unisys, who has also branched
out into the more up-to-date services biz, reported quarterly earnings of
$59 million, up from $21 M last year even though revenue was off about 4%.


Play With Your Phone

In what is either a visionary breakthrough or one of the silliest uses of
new technology, Intel is expected to announce a new generation of flash
memory and stacked processor chips based on the ARM design that will
"give cell phone users the ability to execute such performance-intensive
applications as MPEG4 video, speech and handwriting recognition, and Java".


Funky Pundits

A conference of high-tech boosters called Agenda, held in Scottsdale this
year, was a gloomy departure from the usual optimistic mood of prior years.
The major debate seemed to be over whether the industry had simply "matured"
into a slower-growing phase that would last indefinitely, or whether the
slump was temporary (maybe long-term but still finite) due to overbuilding
and overinvestment in fiber optic pipes, chip fab plants, and other capacity
that led companies to take on long-term debt just as demand plummeted.


Voodoo Econometrics

An article in the paper today (not meant to be taken seriously, I hope)
tracks the correlation between the stock market and the reoccurrence of
World Series between California teams. In 1974, 1988, and this year,
(regular 14-year intervals, hmm) the rivalry is between a team from the
north of the state and one from the LA area. A year after the first one,
the Dow was up 26%; a year after the second, it was up 23%. Then there was
1989, when there was a recession, a threat of war in the Mideast, and the
Dow went up only 2%, not to mention the earthquake; but that was between two
Bay Area teams so any resemblance to this year is of course purely
coincidental..


Flat Apple

Not a new monitor, but the company's quarterly financial results. Gross
sales were essentially the same as a year ago, though the number of units
shipped was down 14 percent to 734,000. The $66 million profit of the
quarter a year ago turned into a $45 M loss, mostly due to one-time charges
like a decline in its Earthlink investment; without those, Apple made $7 M.
CFO Fred Anderson was not hopeful for the future: "There's uncertainty in
the economy and the PC industry and the possibility of war. I don't see any
point in being optimistic at the moment." Don't invite him to your next
party.


How To Drive Customers Away

Microsoft's new corporate pricing plan, which basically converts software
license to a rental mode, is producing some short term gains as clients
signed up to beat a July 31 rate increase, but a lot of grumbling and some
defections. Overall, most companies will probably pay about the same, some
a little less, and some will have to pay more; but the losers are the ones
whose budgets were tightest in the first place and are the most sensitive to
price gouging by a monopoly. The city of Nanaimo in British Columbia has
responded by moving to convert its 350 desktop units to Sun StarOffice,
estimated to cost about 15% of MS Office.


Sun Down

Sun may be the gainer from the MS plans in Nanaimo, but its reported to be
losing the OS wars to Microsoft and Linux. As a result its prices reflect
lower profit margins, and as a result of that, its credit rating was just
lowered by S&P (to BBB from BBB+, still investment grade but nearer junk).


More Layoffs At Adobe

The graphics software maker is expected to let go about another 250 staff in
the fourth quarter; it dropped 247 a year ago, out of about 3500 on its
payroll.


Talk Faster

Lucent reports chip prototypes for cell phones that can send and receive at
eight times the speed of today's units; it is expected to be used for
wireless data as well as high-speed babbling. They use inverse multiplexing
(which I haven't heard much of recently), merging signals from several
antennas into a single stream.


Sun Squeezed

As one analyst put it, "They're a big company, they're not going away", but
the challenge "would be to remain relevant to its customers". Facing a 4%
quarterly decline in sales from a year ago and a $111 million net loss
(though better than the $180 M loss this time last year), Sun has to deal
with challenges to its proprietary software from Microsoft and open-source
Linux as well as a decline in clients' capital spending on technology.
Plainly losing less on lower revenue comes from cost-cutting, which Sun
intends to continue with a planned layoff of about 4,400 employees or 11%
worldwide. Longer term it remains to be seen if the company can be
profitable as the Unix market shifts; Sun's one reported victory in the
story was over H-P's own proprietary OS. Another bright spot, if a small
one, was $6 million in sales of its Star Office suite.


Quote Of The Day

S&P energy analyst Craig Shere, on UBS's purchase of Enron's trading unit:
"They bought intellectual capital, and if your intellectual capital
winds up behind bars that's not going to help them."


Billy Bass, Pirate

Senator Ernest ("Fritz") Hollings of South Carolina has introduced the
Consumer Broadband And Digital Television Promotion Act. This long-stemmed
bill would require makers of "digital media devices" to incorporate copy
prevention systems to ensure they do not unlawfully utilize copyrighted
material. Unfortunately the act's definition of a digital media device is
somewhat broad: according to Princeton professor Edward Felten's Web site
, copy
protection would have to be incorporated in digital hearing aids, baby
monitors, Shop With Me Barbie toy cash registers, and Big Mouth Billy Bass.
One imagines the FBI taking a break from dealing with people who shoot back
to employ the majesty of US law enforcement in busting basster.com, a cartel
devoted to downloading century-old (but still copyrighted) songs to a wall-
mounted fish. Or hearing aids blasting rap songs into the ears of oldsters
break-dancing on the floor of the rest home. An aide to the senator says
"details of the legislation remain to be worked out".


No Curb Cuts in HTML

Federal judge rules that the ADA doesn't apply in Cyberspace, dismissing
suit against Southwest Airlines:



Loss At CA

Embattled software giant Computer Associates reported a quarterly net loss
of $52 million. This was down from its $291 M loss in the quarter a year
ago, but the story does not say if the figures are GAAP or CA's own made-up
"pro forma" figures.


Games Lose Appeal

Video-game makers Eidos and THQ are delaying new releases and reporting
gloomy financials as analysts speculate on slow holiday sales. Eidos PLC
was off 15 pence (how British) after announcing the delay of its next Tomb
Raider game, and sales of both Nintendos and Microsoft Xboxen are lower than
expected. Could it people are growing tired of this sort of thing?




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 94 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Oct 27, 2002 (15:10) * 158 lines 
 
ronks

Return Of The Mainframe

Well, not exactly. But ancient computer maker Unisys, who has also branched
out into the more up-to-date services biz, reported quarterly earnings of
$59 million, up from $21 M last year even though revenue was off about 4%.


Play With Your Phone

In what is either a visionary breakthrough or one of the silliest uses of
new technology, Intel is expected to announce a new generation of flash
memory and stacked processor chips based on the ARM design that will
"give cell phone users the ability to execute such performance-intensive
applications as MPEG4 video, speech and handwriting recognition, and Java".


Funky Pundits

A conference of high-tech boosters called Agenda, held in Scottsdale this
year, was a gloomy departure from the usual optimistic mood of prior years.
The major debate seemed to be over whether the industry had simply "matured"
into a slower-growing phase that would last indefinitely, or whether the
slump was temporary (maybe long-term but still finite) due to overbuilding
and overinvestment in fiber optic pipes, chip fab plants, and other capacity
that led companies to take on long-term debt just as demand plummeted.


Voodoo Econometrics

An article in the paper today (not meant to be taken seriously, I hope)
tracks the correlation between the stock market and the reoccurrence of
World Series between California teams. In 1974, 1988, and this year,
(regular 14-year intervals, hmm) the rivalry is between a team from the
north of the state and one from the LA area. A year after the first one,
the Dow was up 26%; a year after the second, it was up 23%. Then there was
1989, when there was a recession, a threat of war in the Mideast, and the
Dow went up only 2%, not to mention the earthquake; but that was between two
Bay Area teams so any resemblance to this year is of course purely
coincidental..



Flat Apple

Not a new monitor, but the company's quarterly financial results. Gross
sales were essentially the same as a year ago, though the number of units
shipped was down 14 percent to 734,000. The $66 million profit of the
quarter a year ago turned into a $45 M loss, mostly due to one-time charges
like a decline in its Earthlink investment; without those, Apple made $7 M.
CFO Fred Anderson was not hopeful for the future: "There's uncertainty in
the economy and the PC industry and the possibility of war. I don't see any
point in being optimistic at the moment." Don't invite him to your next
party.


How To Drive Customers Away

Microsoft's new corporate pricing plan, which basically converts software
license to a rental mode, is producing some short term gains as clients
signed up to beat a July 31 rate increase, but a lot of grumbling and some
defections. Overall, most companies will probably pay about the same, some
a little less, and some will have to pay more; but the losers are the ones
whose budgets were tightest in the first place and are the most sensitive to
price gouging by a monopoly. The city of Nanaimo in British Columbia has
responded by moving to convert its 350 desktop units to Sun StarOffice,
estimated to cost about 15% of MS Office.


Sun Down

Sun may be the gainer from the MS plans in Nanaimo, but its reported to be
losing the OS wars to Microsoft and Linux. As a result its prices reflect
lower profit margins, and as a result of that, its credit rating was just
lowered by S&P (to BBB from BBB+, still investment grade but nearer junk).


More Layoffs At Adobe

The graphics software maker is expected to let go about another 250 staff in
the fourth quarter; it dropped 247 a year ago, out of about 3500 on its
payroll.


Talk Faster

Lucent reports chip prototypes for cell phones that can send and receive at
eight times the speed of today's units; it is expected to be used for
wireless data as well as high-speed babbling. They use inverse multiplexing
(which I haven't heard much of recently), merging signals from several
antennas into a single stream.


Sun Squeezed

As one analyst put it, "They're a big company, they're not going away", but
the challenge "would be to remain relevant to its customers". Facing a 4%
quarterly decline in sales from a year ago and a $111 million net loss
(though better than the $180 M loss this time last year), Sun has to deal
with challenges to its proprietary software from Microsoft and open-source
Linux as well as a decline in clients' capital spending on technology.
Plainly losing less on lower revenue comes from cost-cutting, which Sun
intends to continue with a planned layoff of about 4,400 employees or 11%
worldwide. Longer term it remains to be seen if the company can be
profitable as the Unix market shifts; Sun's one reported victory in the
story was over H-P's own proprietary OS. Another bright spot, if a small
one, was $6 million in sales of its Star Office suite.


Quote Of The Day

S&P energy analyst Craig Shere, on UBS's purchase of Enron's trading unit:
"They bought intellectual capital, and if your intellectual capital
winds up behind bars that's not going to help them."


Billy Bass, Pirate

Senator Ernest ("Fritz") Hollings of South Carolina has introduced the
Consumer Broadband And Digital Television Promotion Act. This long-stemmed
bill would require makers of "digital media devices" to incorporate copy
prevention systems to ensure they do not unlawfully utilize copyrighted
material. Unfortunately the act's definition of a digital media device is
somewhat broad: according to Princeton professor Edward Felten's Web site
, copy
protection would have to be incorporated in digital hearing aids, baby
monitors, Shop With Me Barbie toy cash registers, and Big Mouth Billy Bass.
One imagines the FBI taking a break from dealing with people who shoot back
to employ the majesty of US law enforcement in busting basster.com, a cartel
devoted to downloading century-old (but still copyrighted) songs to a wall-
mounted fish. Or hearing aids blasting rap songs into the ears of oldsters
break-dancing on the floor of the rest home. An aide to the senator says
"details of the legislation remain to be worked out".


No Curb Cuts in HTML

Federal judge rules that the ADA doesn't apply in Cyberspace, dismissing
suit against Southwest Airlines:



Loss At CA

Embattled software giant Computer Associates reported a quarterly net loss
of $52 million. This was down from its $291 M loss in the quarter a year
ago, but the story does not say if the figures are GAAP or CA's own made-up
"pro forma" figures.


Games Lose Appeal

Video-game makers Eidos and THQ are delaying new releases and reporting
gloomy financials as analysts speculate on slow holiday sales. Eidos PLC
was off 15 pence (how British) after announcing the delay of its next Tomb
Raider game, and sales of both Nintendos and Microsoft Xboxen are lower than
expected. Could it people are growing tired of this sort of thing?


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 95 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Oct 29, 2002 (11:43) * 69 lines 
 
ronks rages on.


IBM As Water Company

CEO Sam Palmisano is expected to unveil tomorrow his view of the future of
corporate computing, as a utility service in which customers buy just what
they need from bulk suppliers like IBM as they now purchase electricity or
other commodities. Called "computing on demand", it is based on the ability
of processors across a network to share tasks, like SETI@Home but more in
real time. This "grid computing" is said to be one of the features that
differentiate the concept from the failed 1960's model of computer time-
sharing. Whether there is sufficient difference to make it a success
remains to be seen, but it is an ambitious strategy that would require a
major change in the mind-set of clients. It also sounds very like an
attempt to resurrect Big Blue's old strategy (back in those halcyon days
when the mainframe was king and IBM monopolized the mainframe business) of
"account control". Proponents dismiss the gloomy time-sharing analogy with
the observation that the Internet was also conceived in the 1960's, but only
recently enabled by the evolution of hardware, software, and fat pipes. In
any case, IBM is not alone in its effort to become the PG&E of computing:
HP, Microsoft, Sun, and Accenture (who shed the Arthur Andersen name just in
time) are trying to move in the same direction. I would guess that
Microsoft's .Net architecture is a major part of MS's plan. Personally, as
a matter of corporate sociology, I've seen real eagerness on the part of MIS
execs to replace PCs with servers under their control and "thin clients",
formerly known as 3270's, on the desktops; but I wonder very much if those
same execs who want that control will be eager to cede it to old monopolist
IBM or new monopolist MS, or anybody else for that matter. The would-be
utilities will have to target a layer of management above them to succeed.


Shazam! It's Beethoven

Or possibly someone younger. A London startup named Shazam Entertainment
offers a novel dial-up service: you call their number and point your cell
phone (with a text display) at a music source. According to the article,
their service analyzes the sound, scans its database of 1.6 million songs in
less than a second, sends a text message naming the tune and the artist, and
charges you 75 cents (or 50 pence in English). Users can later log into
www.shazam.com for a history of their calls and links to merchants who sell
recordings. The service was created by graduates of UC Berkeley and
Stanford, but the founders have no plans to introduce it in the US because
of Americans' "resistance to using their cellphones for anything but
talking".


Waywayback Machine Debuts

A full-page ad on the back page of today's NY Times business section seems
to have fallen through a wormhole from either the last or the next April
Fool's Day. A company calling itself "Bagotronics.com" is advertising a
time machine, for business travelers only who want to reverse bad strategies
or perhaps sell their stock in Enron and MarchFirst.com when it was worth
something. The "Business Time Machine", based on the latest (possibly even
the future) "quark-gluon plasma chip technology" is pictured on the ad.
Looking like an escapee from a 1930's sci-fi movie, the BTM is built on a
sort of Chippendale, or perhaps Louis Quattorze, walnut base with brass
handles. In front are two switches, knobs, and red lights; one each for the
future and the past perhaps. The top is a sort of bell jar within which are
set an alarm clock and a kind of Slinky in a cage, plus a couple of
solenoids and what looks like a medicine bottle. The latter is probably
where they store the Kool-Aid on which the process depends. Details alleged
to be available at . Oh, and because the BTM is
for businesspersons only, the ad states that the user will not be encumbered
with hoi polloi like "travelers to Gettysburg" and "stage enthusiasts
returning to Shakespeare's England"; still, you could probably pick up a
First Folio of "Hamlet" there for cheap and resell it on EBay...



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 96 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Nov 22, 2002 (08:09) * 134 lines 
 
ronks:

Here They Come

According to a survey by Circle 1 Network and SpectraCom reported in the
latest PC Magazine, last year forty percent of children aged 4 through 18
had a "wireless device". (It's true this could strictly speaking include a
teddy bear, but I think they mean a wireless device as we know it.) One-
third have a cell phone, a fifty percent jump from the previous year, and
the top item on their wish lists is a laptop computer.

Smaller Blackberry

Not the device (or the fruit); the company, actually Research In Motion Ltd,
will lay off about 10% of its staff to "tighten operational efficiencies".


New Blueprint

In other wireless news, Microsoft and Samsung will offer a set of design
specs to "allow any electronics manufacturer to produce a relatively
inexpensive version of a hand-held Pocket PC". The move is seen not so much
as a desire by MS to increase competition as a move to squelch Palm's new
$99 unit.


Mr. Gates Goes To Delhi

On a goodwill visit, with a large wallet. Besides contributions from his
charitable foundation conveniently announced this week, his company will
pump $400 million into the country to "increase computer literacy" and
expand access to technology. And perhaps to blunt India's support of Linux.


Short Term Storage

Do not use this for file archives; a new type of DVD has been created by a
New York company called Flexplay. Within eight hours after the sealed
package is opened, a special dye layer oxidizes on contact with air and
renders the disk unreadable. The dye can be formulated to let the DVD live
for up to 60 hours, and the disk becomes unusable within a year whether
opened or not. Copies are being given out free to fans of a group called
Nappy Roots as a marketing experiment, evidently to test whether they are
stupid enough to buy music disks that self-destruct. Perhaps you might pay
for them with checks written in ink that becomes invisible in 30 minutes,
but I suppose the vendors would consider that unfair. The article says the
disk technology was originally designed for the distribution of software.
Yes, it really says that. Can you imagine waiting an hour to talk with tech
support who tells you to reinstall the app from the disk, unless of course
you opened the package more than eight hours ago? Oy.


Yet Another Accounting Firm In Trouble

It might be simpler just to list the ones that aren't, but where's the
Schadenfreude in that? Anyway, the SEC has reinstated charges against Ernst
& Young that they violated auditor independence rules by partnering with
PeopleSoft to jointly develop and market a software product at the same time
as they were policing the software company's books, a conflict of interest.
And why did the charges have to be reinstated? Because the first time around
so many SEC commissioners had their own conflicts of interest that only one
person was able to vote on whether to pursue the case. I believe that
decision was unanimous..

Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can't, ...

Online credit card company NextCard was once a high-flying startup, but too
many clients treated it like a VC firm or a free lunch. Failure of its
customers to pay led regulators to seize its banking operations in February
and cut off its card operations in July; the company was running on a
"service contract" with the FDIC which expired at the end of last month.
Yesterday it filed for bankruptcy, owing the FDIC up to $400 million and
under SEC investigation. The interesting part is that it filed under
Chapter 11 with a plan to reorganize "as a consultant to other financial
services firms". Like Typhoid Mary could go into restaurant-hygiene
consulting..


Optical Router At Heart of New Campus Network

It had to happen. The slowest component of the network planned for UC San
Diego is not the connections but the computers. The campus-wide system
(called an "optiputer") is to be linked with optical fibers and a light-
signal router from Texas-based Chiaro Networks. It will essentially
constitute a grid supercomputer whose 500 Intel processors run the Linux
operating system.


Object-Oriented With Real Objects

Bill Gates' keynote address to Comdex was expected to announce Microsoft's
support for "smart personal objects" like Dick Tracy wristwatches that
display weather, sports scores, news, and text messages. And probably spam,
though he may not mention that. Microsoft is said to be working with
National Semiconductor and appliance makers to develop gizmos of all sorts,
available in about a year, that demonstrate his claim that "the industry"
(there's only one?) is moving from personal computers, those boring old
boxes with low profit margins even for a monopolist, to personal computing.
O brave new world, where we have to buy an annual license to use our own
watches... BTW, the promoter of Comdex is poised to declare bankruptcy
after attendance dropped from 200,000 in 1999 to 125,000 last year with no
signs of an upturn. If this continues, Las Vegas will have to return to its
core values like gambling and prostitution. Which leads to:


S&M Web Sites Tied Up In Red Tape

Purveyors of Internet bondage sites are howling with pain as they feel the
lash of increased credit-card payment restrictions. My, this is metaphor
city. Anyway, the payment process works like this: subscribers and one-time
visitors pay for whatever services and views they seek by credit card, with
is often laundered through an "Internet service payment provider" who helps
to mask the identity of the site on financial records. The customer pays
his credit card service, the service pays the ISPP, who pays the smuttist.
However, the system is breaking down at both ends. The johns have a high
rate of repudiation of the charges, perhaps upon discovery by their wives,
at which point they claim some bad kinky person stole their CC number (and
dialed from their phone number too in many cases). Rather than fight and
lose a customer, the bank reverses the charge and debits the leathery
"merchant". But not all repudiations are false: there is some evidence
these sites often fail to honor requests to cancel, and charge for lapsed
subscriptions. Consequently, Visa and MasterCard are charging such
merchants $500 signup fees and $250 annual renewals as "high risk"
operations. This is no problem for large companies: Gerald van der Leun,
recently retired VP of Internet activities at Penthouse, says many of his
competitors have "a fast and loose relation with their customers' credit
cards". But many smaller ones - mom and pop bondage sites, as it were - say
they are being unfairly singled out for punishment (oops, another metaphor)
as part of a campaign by the plastic companies to clean up their image after
denying their facilities to gambling sites. The card companies say no,
Internet gambling is simply illegal in many jurisdictions and they can't
afford to sort it all out, and smut sites are just a bad business risk.




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 97 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Nov 22, 2002 (08:09) * 62 lines 
 
More ronks.

Computer Associates' Wang Is Out

Chairman Charles Wang, who founded CA in 1976 as an aggressive buyer of
mainframe utility software companies whose products he then cut technical
support for while he raised prices, has resigned his post effective
immediately. He will retain the "honorary and unpaid title of chairman
emeritus" and receive no pension. Don't worry about him going hungry,
however; he made $670 million in pay alone in 1998, he owns the New York
Islanders hockey team, and he has been ranked one of the highest-paid
executives in the world. Although he built CA into the 5th-largest software
firm globally with $3 billion annual sales (perhaps; see below) and 16,000
employees, he is leaving a troubled legacy. Besides practicing extortion on
customers, the company's manipulation of accounting figures is under
investigation. In one case Mr. Wang stood to receive over 12 million shares
of CA stock if he could get the price up to a certain amount; during that
time profits may have been artificially inflated. In another, CA adopted an
accounting rule that allowed it report the same sales and profits two times.
One analyst summed up his legacy as "They didn't have a pretense of saving
the world through better technology - it was, we are sort of out to
consolidate the industry and gather economic value in the process."


Extremely Big Blue

IBM has received a $290 million contract to build two supercomputers for the
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Livermore that together will exceed the
computing power of the next five hundred fastest machines in the world.
Leading the duo is Blue Gene/L, made of 130,000 specialized processors; it
is expected to perform 360 trillion math operations a second, ten times that
of NEC's next-place Earth Simulator. Its little brother, ASCI Purple, will
consist of a mere 12,000 Power 5 processors. An IBM executive says that
with these machines "we have the ability to help people solve some of the
demanding problems of everyday life in the world we live in", perhaps
forgetting that LRL is a nuclear-weapons development facility.



CA Investigation Intensifies

The Brooklyn prosecutor looking into Federal criminal charges against
Computer Associates (the CA DA, as it were) has brought a grand jury into
the case and is sending out subpoenas. At issue appear to be two actions.
In May of 1998, the three top executives of the company received a total of
over 20 million shares free, a grant that had been conditioned on the price
of the stock remaining above $53.33 for 12 months. The value of that
windfall, based on the price of the shares, was around $1.1 billion. In July
the company announced sales and profits would fall, and the stock dropped
below the $53.33 level, but only after the grant of shares was completed.
The Feds are exploring whether (1) the execs manipulated figures up to 1998,
such as by booking all expected revenue from long-term contracts as of the
date of sale, to pump up the share price and fulfil the grant conditions and
(2) continued to falsify the numbers afterwards to hide the previous shell
game. The second count involves the company's accounting rule changes that
allowed it to double-count sales and profits from transactions. A attorney
described the status of the investigation as "When you really want to start
compelling the production of documents and taking testimony, you do it by a
grand jury subpoena. Otherwise it's just a request."


./


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 98 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Dec  1, 2002 (15:12) * 186 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks) Fri Nov 22 '02 (08:57) 46 lines


Me And My Shadow

A story in the paper today says the US Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency or DARPA has been exploring the possibility of preventing Internet
anonymity by requiring a digital signature for Net use which would tag every
packet a user sends. Called eDNA, the idea was to first extend it to
government sites, then financial institutions, and "after that [to have]
been broadened even further". A summary of the plan sent to participants at
a workshop on the proposal said "We envision that all network and client
resources will maintain traces of user eDNA so that the user can be uniquely
identified as having visited a Web site, having started a process, or having
sent a packet." DARPA funded SRI to hold the workshop last August; it was
chaired by Matt Blaze of AT&T and Victoria Stavridou of SRI, and included
Whitfield Diffie and Marc Rotenberg. The workshop attendees reportedly
criticized the proposal as both poor technology and poor policy; Mr. Blaze
later said he had been fired by Ms. Stavridou who wanted to "hijack" the
proceedings and give DARPA a more positive reply. After a planned
teleconference with all participants was canceled, Ms. Stavridou privately
briefed DARPA on the/her conclusions of the workshop. DARPA has also been
in the news recently for hiring convicted but pardoned Iran-Contra felon
John Poindexter to head the agency's Information Awareness Office to "mount
a vast dragnet through electronic transaction data ranging from credit card
information to veterinary records." DARPA says it has no plans to pursue
the eDNA project further, but of course they would say that anyway...


The Qubit Engineers

An article in the November Scientific American suggests the possibility of
practical quantum computing may be at least visible on the horizon. I won't
try to do more than summarize the argument (trying to go too deep into this
gives me a brain cramp), but the author, physics professor Michael Nielsen,
suggests that we are moving from knowing the basic rules of quantum
mechanics to understanding the "emergent properties" of the subject.
Analogies in two areas seem to sum up his thesis. Perfectly understanding
the rules of chess for example is of little practical use in winning if you
don't realize it's foolish to sacrifice a queen for a pawn, or the use of
positioning forces; those strategic issues emerge from the formal rules and
are critical to success. Similarly, the science of thermodynamics consists
of equations relating energy, heat, temperature and other variables which
may imply that a steam or internal-combustion engine is possible but aren't
sufficient by themselves to build a useful one. Nearly practical projects
to use quantum computers for tasks like data compression or error correction
of transmitted data hint the subject may be poised to move out of the lab.


Verity Buys a Search Engine

Verity, a brand leader in the enterprise knowledge management market,
apparently discovered that companies wanted search to go with whatever
it is that they get when they invest in KM and "social networking
software". Having not changed the Verity core search engine
significantly since 1997, they bought the Inktomi enterprise search
engine for $25 million cash. Verity officials indicated that they are
considering returning to the name “Ultraseek.” Ultraseek was originally
developed by Infoseek Corp. in the 1990s. It was included in Go
Disney’s acquisition of Infoseek in July 1999 and subsequently sold to
Inktomi in June 2000 for more than $300 million in cash and stock.
Verity has offered positions to 40 of the 100 Inktomi staff on the
project, including all the programmers. Inktomi customers are
uniformly unhappy about the change, with many of them pointing out that
they left Verity for good reasons.

Whither H-P?

An article in today's paper says all but one of Dell's competitors have
dropped out of the effort to contest it for overall supremacy in PC sales,
opting instead for niche business segments. The exception is H-P, whose
merger with Compaq in May briefly put it ahead of Dell; but they quickly
lost the #1 slot when Dell's sales rose 21% in the next quarter and H-P's
fell 3%. As one analyst observed, "H-P was the market share leader for
about three minutes". Still, H-P has not given up; it has cut costs,
reducing its PC sales losses in the last quarter to $87 million on $5
billion volume. And it is pushing its R&D people for innovative products as
an edge. A sort of concept computer based on H-P's "Agora" project is being
demo'ed at Comdex; it features enhanced videoconferencing, instant
messaging, data sharing and collaboration components for the corporate
market, and is planned for rollout in about a year and a half. The problem
with that, critics note, is that the benefit from unpatented innovations
lasts only till they are cloned by cheap rivals who didn't spend money on
the R&D effort; or as another analyst commented, "In the PC business,
innovation does not mean you can charge a lot more money for it."


Will Streamline Tax Laws For Food

Or ultimately for money: $10 billion in state sales taxes that goes
uncollected from online interstate purchases, expected to grow to $25B by
2007. As customers of Lands End and Amazon know, out-of-state mail order
sales do not include sales tax if the merchant does not have a "presence" in
the buyer's state. The tax is legally owed, but Federal courts have
repeatedly held that the merchant can't be required to collect it. Congress
has the power to change the law, and retailers with stores in many states
like Wal-Mart and JC Penney are constantly whining about the unfairness of
the present rules, but one major obstacle has been the enormous complexity
it would impose on the sellers. There are over 7,600 different tax districts
in the country; besides the states, there are counties, cities, and agencies
like BART and hospital and mosquito-abatement agencies. And many of them
have conflicting rules: some tax food, some don't, some tax it at a lower
rate, some consider candy a food, some don't; some tax clothing, some don't,
some consider a hanky clothing, some don't, and so on. About three dozen
states are trying to unify their tax rules and rates in hopes of persuading
Congress to let them at that $10-25 billion revenue pie. But the lack of
some unifying efforts is pointed out by potential losers like Amazon: for
example, the proposed rules don't say if downloaded music or other content
is a good or a (non-taxable) service, or if shipping & handling are taxable.
The battle is likely to simmer for some time unresolved.


This Year, Give The Gift Of DWDM

Cisco Systems may have got into the spiked eggnog a bit early. A recent
press release suggests "the gift of learning" with stocking-stuffers like
_Digital Wave Division Multiplexing Network Designs and Engineering
Solutions_, _Web Security Field Guide_, and _Voice-Enabling The Data
Networks_. Perhaps tied up with colorful ribbon cable it would certainly be
a surprise, and certainly more modern than a lump of coal .


Bearded Hens, Come Not Near

Kevin Ploetz hunts turkeys in upstate New York; although he has evidently
shot so many that his wife complained the house was filling up with their
stuffed and mounted carcasses, he says he finds the pursuit challenging.
Or in his own words, "It's frustrating that a bird with a brain the size of
a quarter can outsmart me." Right, Kevin. Anyway, it turns out that just
like Indians collected scalps because it was inconvenient to attach the
corpses of all your victims to your belt, turkeys have a symbolic token
called a "beard", a clump of hairlike mutated feathers at the chest below
that red rubbery thing. Like elk antlers, the size of the beard is
considered a mark of the creature's (obviously former) virility, ranging
from 3 inches for a young bird to 18 in prize specimens. Some hen turkeys
have a beard, but hunters regard catching a bearded female bad luck. Well
anyway to relate this back to biztech, Mr. Ploetz - you remember him,
outsmarted by a coin-sized brain, has a house full of dead stuffed birds -
has invented a convenient means of preserving the turkey beard by cramming
it into the remains of the souvenir fatal shotgun shell. Apparently the
beard feathers tend to fall apart easily, and some unscrupulous hunters have
even been caught parading turkey beard toupees for lack of a presentable
genuine. I mean is this weird or what? So Patent Number 6,451,393 has been
issued to Mr. Coinbrain for his "turkey beard display device".


K 2 H P

Hewlett Packard has hired computer-design legend Alan Kay as a senior
researcher. While he declined to say the direction his work there would
take, most recently he has worked on using computers in children's education
to help them understand "complex systems like software". Around 1968, when
computers ranged in size from a refrigerator to a string of freight cars,
Mr. Kay proposed the Dynabook concept: a portable computer with wireless
communications that weighed about as much as a book, could be held on the
lap, and included a flat screen and a keyboard, and could recognize
handwriting done with a stylus on the screen. Later at the Xerox PARC labs
he was in the lead of teams that created the mouse, the GUI, and windows for
a system called the Alto. Later he and others developed one of the first
object-oriented languages, called Smalltalk. He did say of his planned
work at H-P, "The goal is to show what the next big relationship between
people and computing is likely to be. ... I don't think the real computing
revolution has happened yet." Which suggests work along the lines of David
Gelernter to remove the hardware as a definer of categories.

Supreme Court Shakes Booty

This is not strictly speaking a business & technology matter, and I hope the
hosts here don't find out about the irrelevancy, but a really funny "Summary
Notice of Class Action and Hearing on Proposed Settlement" is so rare it's
worth mentioning. Besides, the venture capitalists and Chief Technology
Officers and Head Software Evangelists are probably all tucked away dreaming
of sugarplums, or is that another holiday? Anyway, the Supreme Court of The
State of New York has a message for all purchasers of Fruity Booty(tm); also
buyers of Veggie Booty and Pirate's Booty. If you contact them - not the
judges themselves of course, some lackey of theirs who handles such trivia -
they may have a prize for you in connection with the matter of Victor Klein
And All Others Similarly Situated vs. Robert's Gourmet Food. Apparently Mr.
Klein either overpaid for his booty or choked on a toy whistle or something,
so his law firm has sued Poor Robert and called it a class action. Chances
are the "all others similarly situated" will end up with an edible whistle
or the like while the lawyers get several zillion bucks, but surely that is
a small price to pay for such an entertaining Summary Notice.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 99 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Dec  2, 2002 (21:24) * 59 lines 
 
ronks


A New Front In The Software Piracy War

The Well's reports in today's paper that expensive engineering
programs with military applications are increasingly popular in the black
market, and little effort is being made to fight the trend. A New Jersey
software maker called Intelligent Light says its $12,000 package is
available from "Chinese entrepreneurs" for $200 complete with a "step-by-
step install guide and crack file". Several factors seem to hinder the
effort to prosecute violations. First, the public still pretty much sees it
as ensuring "that Bill Gates and Britney Spears get every penny" at the
expense of students and the less well-off generally. Second, offshore
prosecutions are not in the toolkit of most DA's: as one US Attorney puts
it, "it's an issue of sovereignty and diplomacy, which is sort of outside my
realm." Publishers suspect the federal government is afraid to annoy Red
China during the current charm offensive, even though the Business Software
alliance claims 92% of commercial software there is pirated. And finally
there is the sense among some government agencies and prosecutors that the
publishers are unwilling victims on a very selective basis. They recall
that when they tried to enforce laws against exporting strong crypto,
software makers were in the opposition, and they wonder if the present
change of heart is real. That probably translates to a lack of enthusiasm in
taking cases now, though of course none will actually say so.


November E-Sales Up

The numbers for the first three weeks of last month suggest a boom in online
merchandising: $4.5 billion in non-travel goods, up 29% from the same period
last year. Looks like a green Christmas at Amazon. Still, the figures may
be a bit misleading. Thanksgiving came later this year than last, meaning a
shortened post-turkeyday season; many merchants began promotions like free
shipping earlier this year, perhaps for that reason; Hanukkah began last
Friday, earlier than 2001; and outside of favored climes like California,
the November weather turned cold and kept people inside at their computers.


New Patents

For the recipient who has everything, reversible shoes. You don't actually
turn them inside out, you disassemble them first into a removable sole, side
panel, and heel panel; South Carolina inventor Leslie Hunter notes they
store flat that way and take up less closet space. Ehsan Alipour offers an
iron that won't burn: if you leave it with the plate down, little legs pop
out and lift it up out of harm's way. While making charitable contributions
in someone else's name as a gift is not new, placing a bet for them on an
online gambling server may be, according to inventor Adam Kidron of New
Jersey. They get the winnings (if any) and you get the undying gratitude.
James Logan offers the dubious value of a watch that races ahead several
minutes at unpredictable times (so to speak) "to encourage punctuality".
But my favorite is what might be called the "Sonny Bono Memorial Ski Parka";
not in fact named after the late Congressman-singer who skied into a tree
and came off the worse for it, the garment includes an approaching-object
sensor with an alarm, a microprocessor that detects if the wearer is too
fast or too dumb to avoid the encounter, and an air bag in front that
automatically inflates. I suppose calling something the Sonny Bono Air Bag
would be redundant, though.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 100 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Dec  4, 2002 (09:15) * 55 lines 
 
ronks rides again. Ron Sipherd. ronks@well.com. Thank you.


The AOL Of The Future

With ad revenues down, subscriber growth slowing now that every man, woman,
and child on the planet has over a dozen free-offer CDs, rising costs and
more competitors for high-speed access, AOL is reported about to reinvent
itself; sort of. According to the story, its game plan emphasizes selling
content to subscribers who get broadband Internet access from other ISPs.
AOL presently has such an offering, but promotes it so feebly that half its
subscribers who have broadband connections still pay AOL for dial-up access
anyway. Besides offering productions from siblings like Warner Brothers and
Turner, AOL will push online versions of Time Inc. magazines such as a
children's version of Sports Illustrated, Time4Kids, People, Teen People,
and Little People for pre-teens (just kidding). Upcoming AOL 9.0 will offer
features like the ability to chat while watching the same movie online, thus
recreating a typical if annoying quality of real theaters. They will also
tailor their promotions and expenses more carefully, pushing more crud on
the gullible (er, "sending more offers to customers who like them") and - I
am not making this up - "providing less-attentive customer service to less-
profitable users".


And Then There Were Two

West Virginia says it will join Massachusetts in appealing the trial judge's
decision in the Microsoft antitrust case. BTW, still pending are "dozens of
class-action lawsuits" as well as non-governmental antitrust cases filed by
Sun and by Netscape's owner AOL.


One Word

Plastics. A Xerox researcher described as "Beng Ong of Mississauga" says
his company is developing plastic transistor circuits that can be laid down
with ink-jets in place of the current photo-lithography. These chips would
be flexible, much cheaper than existing circuits, and resistant to oxidation
which has been the bane of organic semiconductors to date.


CA At It Again

Criminal investigation of the company's finances and those of its hyper-
wealthy execs shows that founder Charles Wang made a personal $40 million
donation to a university (SUNY - Stony Brook) whose president was on the
company board, one of the four nominally outside directors, and on the
three-person audit committee that approved its deceptive accounting
practices. She is described in proxy statements referring to the gift as a
"non-employee" but not a board member. She is shocked, just shocked that
anyone could link the $40 million gift to her votes as a director. So is
former senator Al D'Amato, also on the audit committee, and who saw gifts of
around $135,000 from the generous Mr. W to his re-election campaign and his
party.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 101 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Dec  5, 2002 (12:01) * 19 lines 
 
More ronks



Broadband Growth Slows

A recent study by InStat/MDR says that while the number of US businesses and
households with high-speed Internet access rose 50 percent this year, they
expect the increase to taper off sharply: to 38% in 2003, then 23%, and down
into the teens in 2005. Presently about one-sixth of American households
have broadband, though 70% are able to get it; about 2/3 of the 15 million
subscribers use cable modems, and the rest DSL with a small fraction using
other means such as satellite. The cost ($40-50 per month) is viewed as the
throttling factor; 28% of homes with incomes over $100,000 have it, but only
4% of those making less than $35,000. At the projected rates the story says
less than a third of households will have broadband by 2006, casting doubt
on AOL's plan to grow by offering premium content to them.




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 102 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Dec  9, 2002 (14:52) * 49 lines 
 

Fight Spam With Haiku

Two companies are trying to create the electronic equivalent of certified
mail, by striking deals with senders who agree to use their service only for
good and with recipients' access providers to let the post through on faith.
One company, Habeas of Palo Alto, sells a haiku poem to a sender for $200,
plus a half-cent per message. The poem is embedded in the e-mail, and
Habeas claims it has deals with AOL, Yahoo, and 18 others not to block such
mail. Habeas says it will sue any sender who uses its poems outside of its
license, which requires the licensee only send such missives to those who
have agreed to receive them. (BTW another article in the paper titled
"Enter Maze and Find The Opt-Out Cheese" notes that to tell mp3.com you
don't want mail from them or their "partner product announcements" you have
to click through 21 separate Web pages, which gives an expansive meaning to
the term "agree to receive".) IronPort of San Bruno requires a similar
contract with senders, and likewise negotiates with access providers to give
its mail a free pass, though without poetry. The fee is not specified, but
the penalties for violation are: 50 cents each for the first ten complaints,
rising to a buck each for the next ten, on up to $1,000 per message. Since
they do no checking, a vindictive recipient could just generate a flood of
complaints, which seems to be a weak spot in the plan. IronPort says it has
agreements with 700 access providers, but no big ones yet. Of course neither
company's strategy addresses the zillions of real spammers offering Nigerian
gold or big organs, and it's unclear how many virtuous senders will sign up
to pay to do what they do for free now.


Wee Circuit

IBM says it has designed, and perhaps built, a transistor circuit less than
one-tenth the size of the smallest transistor available today. It's nine
nanometers in length; by comparison the infamous Average Human Hair is over
3,000 nanometers in diameter and could store several CPUs if you never
shampooed.


The Next Big Bubble?

Many venture capital firms are still licking their wounds over the collapse
of the dot-com industry. But some with either less scar tissue or shorter
memories are rushing to fund tiny companies with weird names in the latest
hot field: Wi-Fi. Although some analysts caution that the technology "is
unlikely to represent more than a tiny fraction of the overall telecomm
market", businesses like Boingo, Buffalo, Dlink, FatPort, HereUAre, and Surf
And Sip are already lining up at the trough.


from ronks@well.com Ron Sipherd. Thanks again!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 103 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Dec 18, 2002 (08:36) * 91 lines 
 
Combo Phones A Drag

Nokia reports lower current and anticipated sales, largely due to less than
expected demand for its newer, fancier, higher-margin cell phones with
cameras, color viewing screens, Web browsers, and other doodads. In what is
described as a "worrying trend for the mobile phone industry", customers in
areas like Africa, China, and Latin America are said to prefer cell phones
they just use for, you know, talking, when the leaders of the industry want
them to spend their food money on pocket mainframes. How perverse.


The Unsold-Inventory Beowulf

Gateway Computer has developed a new version of the "if you have lemons,
make lemonade" adage. With eight calendar quarters in a row of declining
sales they have a lot of PCs sitting on their shelves. So they are linking
8000 of them into a networked Beowulf-type supercomputer and renting out the
claimed 14 trillion teraflop system to businesses who submit job requests
and pick up output just like the old days of batch processing, except this
time around it's done over the Internet instead of a counter.



Noisy Refrigerator Developed

This does not at first sound (so to speak) like much of an advance,
especially when the unit is said to produce a volume level of around 173
decibels, which is considered pretty awesome acoustics. By way of
comparison, the sound level right up next to the speakers at a rock concert
is given as ~120 decibels, into the threshold of pain unless one's mental
capacity has been sufficiently numbed by consumption of pre-concert
anesthetics. And the story says a level of 165 decibels would cause your
hair to catch fire. So far this is not a terribly useful advance. However
the refrigerator research at the University of Pennsylvania, sponsored by
Ben & Jerry's, actually uses the sound to cool the unit with compression
waves that drive metal plates attached to heat exchangers, without Freon and
other CFC gases blamed for global warming which is bad for ice cream and
other living things. One has even been tested on the space shuttle, where
presumably the noise is unlikely to disturb the neighbors. The systems as
developed are designed to confine the hubbub to the interior cooling chamber
without escaping even when the door is opened, and with fewer moving
mechanical parts they may be more reliable than today's standard models.


Big EDS-BofA Deal

The Bank of America has agreed to a 10-year, $4.5 billion contract for
Electronic Data Systems to provide services to "transform" the bank's voice
and data networks. Also to be transformed are 1,000 BofA employees who will
be turned into EDS staff.


Froogle Test Site Opens

Search firm Google presently allows ads to appear next to its "real"
results; now it's getting deeper into commerce with a novel sort of shopping
engine at . It will show pictures of the
sought product and prices for it at different sites. Sellers don't pay for
placement or for click-through purchases; instead Google plans to sell ads
on Froogle (this is starting to sound like baby-talk; if they ever join up
with Boingo I fear for the language) the same way as on their main site.
Some analysts are concerned the company may be heading for a collision with
customers like AOL and Yahoo, but Google may be looking to broaden its
service in preparation for a Google-Froogle IPO oobie doobie next year.


http://google.blogspace.com/


WiFi On The Radar

The Department of Defense has floated a proposal to restrict expansion of
the "unlicensed spectrum" (frequencies that can be used without a specific
permit) in the 5 GHz range, claiming it may interfere with radar. The issue
if raised formally would be decided at the World Administrative Radio
Conference next June in Geneva where analysts say it would lose, since that
band is already used internationally without ill effects and American
industry is lobbying heavily against it. With 16 million WiFi devices
already in use and Intel planning to equip all its new mobile processors
with wireless capability, the technology is seen as a potential savior of
the sagging tech industry but vulnerable to limits on its expansion. A
technique called Dynamic Frequency Selection exists to enable transmitters
to avoid interference with other sources, but the Pentagon wants it beefed
up to such a degree of sensitivity that companies say it may no longer work.
The Pentagon's insistence on pressing ahead alone with its proposal seems to
rub many in the international regulatory community the wrong way and could
doom it regardless of the merits.


Thanks Ron (ronks) Sipherd again.
y.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 104 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jan  8, 2003 (12:58) * 93 lines 
 

Vox Populi

Once upon a time the Internet was the province of academics and
intellectuals who filled it with talk about, oh academic and intellectual
stuff I suppose. Now one of the most popular sites is called Yahoo, and
just try asking them if they have a counterpart called Houyhnhnm. (BTW I
was just reading that the term "yahoo" is "compounded from two expressions
of disgust, 'yah' and 'ugh' (or 'hoo') common in the eighteenth century";
now we know.) Anyway, Yahoo the Portal Of Disgust has just named the top
Web pages in Britain and Ireland, "selected by a panel of expert surfers".
They include PoppedClogs.com with novel obituaries of dead celebrities, the
Wallace & Gromit animations site, animation site RatherGood.com, "a site
dedicated to watching the recovery of a sick cat", and IUsedtoBelieve.com
which lists things that people, well, used to believe when they were kids.
If only Swift were alive today, what material for a sequel to Gulliver.


IP Phoning Grows

A recent survey says that over 10% of all international telephone traffic
last year went over the Internet instead of through traditional circuit-
switched phone companies. That totaled 18 billion minutes, up from less
than 10 billion in 2001. Much of the volume was generated by phone-card
companies who route their long-distance business over the Net, but cable TV
providers (who presently have 2.1 million US local-dial voice customers) are
expected to jump into the act in a big way in the next few years.


Microsoft On The Move Again

The company is expected to license its Windows Media Player audio and video
technology to makers of consumer-electronics devices like CD and DVD players
at substantially lower prices than rivals such as MPEG 4 and probably Real
Player. Offering it below cost to drive out rivals would constitute
"predatory pricing" especially when done by a monopolist; it will be
interesting to see if MS rivals call them on it. Speaking of monopolies, MS
and its ally the DOJ jointly oppose an appeal of the recent trial-court
ruling in its antitrust case. The Software Industry Association and the
Computer And Communication Industry Association have requested appellate
review; the two new buddies oppose having to "endure further proceedings".


IBM Gets Away From Hardware

Moving to what an analyst calls a "focus on design and customer service" in
place of boring old computer making, IBM has already sold off its disk drive
business to Hitachi in a phased deal; a story in Monday's paper describes
how IBM lost its edge there when it sent its disk R&D offshore from San Jose
to Japan, and let rivals take the lead. It has also let a $5 billion
contract to Sanmina-SCI to make its NetVista PCs. Now it's in a second deal
for about $4 B with Sanmina to make servers, notebooks, and other desktop
PCs. Unlike say Dell, IBM seems unable to make much money in the PC business
with an estimated $10 million pre-tax profit on $11 billion sales.


Apple Gets Away From Microsoft

Or at least takes some steps in that direction, with its own free Web
browser called Safari based on open-source software (Mozilla maybe?) and a
$99 rival to PowerPoint called Keynote. Chairman, co-founder, CEO, chief
salesman and who knows what else Steve Jobs also revealed to rapt Macworld
attendees two new laptop models (with 17 and 12 inch screens) and declared
that over a third of Apple computers to be shipped this year would be
laptops, though analysts are skeptical that the company can make much
headway against Wintel portables selling for up to $1000 less. Apple is
also an object of some unwanted buzz over its patent application
#20030002246 for a computer that changes color with a rainbow of LEDs on its
"computing device active enclosure", described by one writer as a sort of
desktop mood ring. The problem is that Apple was recently working with
another company called Color Kinetics on the same concept, but backed out of
a deal with it just before committing to anything; Color Kinetics has also
filed a patent application (#20020113555), for "self-illuminated consumer
devices" including computers.


DeCSS Creator Acquitted in Norway

A couple of years ago Jon Johansen of Oslo found he couldn't play his
legally acquired DVD movie disks on his Linux system because decoding
software didn't exist for Linux. So he wrote some, called DeCSS, to unlock
the security codes that prevent copying and other access. The Motion
Picture Association filed a complaint in Norway accusing him of pirating and
facilitating piracy by defeating the locks. A Norwegian panel consisting of
a judge and two technical experts has just ruled that Mr. Johansen's
development, use, and distribution of the software did not violate the law,
and that "someone who buys a DVD film that has been legally produced has
legal access to the film" on whatever system he wishes.



Thanks Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 105 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 16, 2003 (09:30) * 47 lines 
 
Microsoft Goes Open-Source

Ha ha, got your attention with that one. Actually it's true but in a very
limited sense; to take advantage of it you have to be somebody like NATO or
a national government. Under the new Government Security Program they can
view 97 percent of the source code for Windows in the comfort of their
bunkers; for the remaining super-secret 3% (the Clippy drivers, maybe) they
have to go to Redmond. Microsoft will also let them use their own crypto
and security code via API sockets direct to the operating system. The story
says it suggests that MS is taking notice of the threat from Linux and GNU,
as countries like China and Germany promote its use and emphasize its
transparency. With "Microsoft security" seen as a self-contradiction on the
order of "giant dwarf" or "military justice", and rumors spreading that
their software includes secret back doors to permit wiretapping by the FBI
or whoever, the company seems to be responding by inviting skeptical biggies
to see for themselves. Of course, whether the source they will see matches
the executables is another matter... In any case, this program seems to be
just an expansion (or maybe only a public announcement) of earlier programs;
some major customers including the US have already had a degree of access to
MS source code for years as I understand.


Record Companies Break With Hollywood

Until recently, there were two camps battling over ways to prevent copying
of copyrighted media: hardware and software makers on one side arguing that
technological barricades like preventer chips would not work long-term,
would make devices cost more and would slow the pace of development. And on
the other, music publishers and movie makers ranting about piracy. But the
music industry had a different kind of fight on its hands, since it has
already faced what may be its worst threats in the form of Napster and its
progeny; while the movie business with its vastly greater bandwidth and file
storage requirements, and the upcoming move to digital TV, looks toward a
future threat. Anyway the music biz in the form of RIAA has reached a sort
of separate peace with the tech industry in the form of a loose agreement
that one side will stop demanding laws to require anti-copying components in
PCs and players, and the other will drop support for proposed amendments to
the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act which would expand the rights of
end users. The agreement is so loose that Intel says it still supports the
amendments but will maybe do so more quietly now, and some consumer-
electronics makers say they will press on. The main effect may be to make
it harder for Jack Valenti and the movie industry to muster support for more
restrictive laws since one of their main allies has shown the white flag.



Thanks, thanks, thanks, Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com for allwoing us to reprint these awesome observations of yours. I hope someones reading it!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 106 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Jan 20, 2003 (12:45) * 48 lines 
 

The Penguin And The Crystal Ball

As Linux World (opening this week in New York) becomes more of a confab for
suits than open-source revolutionaries, articles are appearing on the future
of the free operating system. Not so much for the user desktop, still owned
by The Giant Of Redmond and The Feisty Midget Of Cupertino, but for servers
and other back-office operations. The consensus seems to be that Linux is a
credible competitor and serious threat in the short term to proprietary Unix
versions as represented by H-P, IBM, and Sun; in fact both H-P and IBM are
promoting Linux on their hardware at the expense of their own brand's OS
which they may drop in time. Sun is seen as too tied to Solaris to abandon
it and may be most at risk from the Linux trend. Online broker E*Trade for
example says it explored Linux two years ago but found it initially "too
risky"; then when it saw H-P and IBM moving there it recanted and converted
about 2/3 of its data center to $4000 Intel/Linux machines from $200,000 Sun
systems. Its chief technology officer claims the company saved $13 million
in expenses last year alone from the move, though it has not yet gambled on
moving its crown jewels - the customer and trading databases - over.
Probably because of the cost of converting apps, a concern everywhere, which
leads some to speculate the movement will be gradual and associated with new
ventures. To sum up, a Goldman Sachs report titled "Fear The Penguin"
concludes "All of Unix is more at risk than Microsoft's Windows in the next
few years. But what is really at risk is the concept of a proprietary
operating system. And that has to affect Microsoft."


Non-Instant Non-Messages

A recent study by Keynote Systems of San Mateo says that 7.5 percent of text
messages sent via cellphone were not received within 2 minutes, and 5% never
got to the recipient at all.


Unplugged Colleges

A series of surveys over the last 3 1/2 years shows the percentage of full-
time college students with cellphones rose from 29 to 70, and at Columbia
University where traditional long-distance service is centralized, revenue
has fallen by half since 2001. As a result some places are throwing in the
towel, yanking the cord, [insert metaphor of choice here], and removing
wired phones for student and faculty use entirely from their buildings.





ronks thank you!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 107 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Jan 24, 2003 (15:57) * 90 lines 
 
c

Multipath For Higher Bandwidth

Most city dwellers are familiar with multipath distortion; the muddling of
radio and TV signals as they bounce off buildings on their way to the
receiver, leading to ghosts and echoes. Bell Labs researchers have found a
way to use multipath for higher transmission speeds to wireless devices.
Called "Blast", the technology grew out of a review of bandwidth limits in
the writings of telecomm pioneer Claude Shannon. The reviewers noticed that
his studies all presumed a single transmitter and receiver; to generalize
the theory they tested dividing the data into multiple streams (sounds a bit
like packet switching) that were picked up by antenna arrays and reassembled
at the destination. To their surprise, they discovered that reflections of
the waves actually improved the capacity of the system, apparently by
creating additional temporary virtual transmitting antennas. Prototypes of
Blast chips have been demonstrated running over 3rd-generation (3G) wireless
networks at 19.2 megabits a second, close to 8 times faster than the present
limit of 2.5 Mbits/sec. The limiting factors are (1) the need to space the
antennas at least half a wavelength apart, not a major hurdle at the high
frequencies used by cell phones and PDAs, and (2) the processing power - and
electrical power - required to reassemble the incoming signal, which becomes
hard to fit in a handheld device for more than four streams. Another
concern is the slow adoption of 3G nets in the United States, which are
essential for Blast; but once they are deployed, only the base stations and
handhelds need to be modified for Blast. Of course, finding people outside
New York City who can talk at 19 megabits/second may be a challenge..

Freedom Of Expression On Trial

Literally. An Iowa professor named Kembrew McLeod says he registered
trademark rights on the phrase "freedom of expression" in 1998 and is
threatening to sue AT&T for using it in ads that offer free long-distance
calls as a bonus for signing up with them.


54-Gigabyte DVDs On The Horizon

A new technology called "Blu-ray" sponsored by a consortium including
Hitachi, Philips, Pioneer, Sony and others uses the shorter wavelength of
blue-violet lasers to store data at higher densities on an DVD-type disk.
It is said to have the potential of holding more than 11 times the data of
today's 4.7-gigabyte DVD disks, and is presently targeted at high-definition
TV video. One such disk could hold two hours of HDTV, or 13 hours of
standard video, and who knows how many copies of the Library of Congress.
The units may become first available in 2004, and in affordable quantities
three or four years later.


To Pursue Personal Interests

The co-founder of Broadcom, Henry T. Nicholas III, is described as "a man of
large appetites" who "bragged about his all-night drinking parties, had a
15,000 square foot estate, a Lamborghini Diablo Roadster and kept a personal
trainer on 24-hour call". Broadcom makes specialized communications
processor chips for cable modems, TV set-top boxes, servers and the like;
its stock has declined from $273 a share 29 months ago to a recent low of
less than $15. He abruptly announced during an telephone earnings report
conference this week that he is leaving the company to pursue his divorce
full-time. Work can be such a distraction...


Signs Of Hope

Disk storage manufacturer EMC reported a slight upturn in sales; combined
with positive results from rivals Storage Technology and McData, some
analysts see a mild rebound in IT spending this year. EMC quarterly sales
were actually down 2 percent from a year ago, but rose 18% from the previous
quarter; it lost $70 million net, but excluding one-time restructuring
charges it showed an operating profit of $53 M.


More Signs Of Hope

In a rare display of bipartisan unity, the US Senate unanimously approved
limits on the government's Total Awareness Project that would bar it from
"scanning information in Internet mail and in the commercial databases of
health, financial, and travel companies here and abroad".


Least Important Fact Of The Week

The CEO of Amazon.com announced that since his company began offering
apparel last November, it has sold 31,000 pairs of underwear and that
"briefs outsold boxers but not by a statistically significant amount."
Now we know.



iThank you Mr. Ron Sipherd for the great news feed!!!!!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 108 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Feb  3, 2003 (18:46) * 70 lines 
 
ronks



The Next Big Thing, Chapter MDCCCLXVIII

Venture capitalists, start your wallets: "Web Services" is hot. For some
reason this is said to be symbolized by the fact that Microsoft just changed
the name of its upcoming product from Windows .Net Server 2003 to plain
Windows Server 2003, though they say it's only a clarification. Anyway, the
battle lines are forming for what vendors think will be a major upheaval in
how people and businesses use their computers, emphasizing machine-to-
machine transactions. On the home side, the concepts sound a little silly
and like a Web version of "Modern Times": somebody's computer negotiates
unaided with his doctor's computer to set up an appointment (probably 3 AM
on a Sunday when the largest block of free time is available on both sides),
or the dutiful child's PC orders flowers for Mother's Day every year
regardless of her demise. Businesses though may have an actual use for it
to handle back-office stuff like inventory management and claim processing.
In hopes they do, Microsoft is moving to link it all to Windows; the other
side, basically everybody with IBM Websphere in the lead, is striving for a
more neutral concept of middleware based largely on Java that would defeat
the MS strategy to lock in customers to one line of software and run on a
variety of operating systems.


Walk This Way

Researchers at Georgia Tech and England's University of Southampton are
testing ways to identify individuals by their gait, or distinctive way of
walking. For example they have determined that "women sway their hips more
than men", a fact evidently unknown heretofore. While security types are
interested in using it as a potential means of spotting bad guys (and hip-
swinging bad women presumably too), the technology has a ways to go. For
one thing, at present it requires that the suspect first be recorded walking
through a lab while wearing metallic sensors on his butt, and even then he
can only be spotted if he is observed solo and not in a crowd. And it
appears the system can be fooled by adopting a different gait such as
springing into the air every three steps, though a person seeking to avoid
notice may prefer something more subtle. Remarkably the BBC story at
does not once mention
John Cleese and his Ministry Of Silly Walks.


Sims Bore

Game maker Electronic Arts is in general having a good year: Harry Potter,
NFL football, Lord Of The Rings, and something called Medal Of Honor
Frontline added to an overall total of over a million sales in the last
quarter. But their most highly publicized effort, Sims Online, in which
people pay $40 upfront and $10 a month to chat and carry on with other
subscribers in real time, seems to be a dud with only 82,000 members.
Reviews from users have not been good. One posted on Amazon that she was
"bored to tears", and while she tried "leaving the game running while I went
off to do other things around the house" to see if something interesting
would happen while she was away, she eventually went back to her offline
version after concluding the online form "has all the fun of watching your
screen saver".


The Last Big Thing

Coffin salesmen are going online, after some initial hesitation and despite
some states' laws that restrict sales to licensed funeral homes. Memorial
Concepts Online and Funeral Depot (I am not making this up) offer theme
coffins, such as one with an auto racing motif and another "done up like a
special-delivery package and stamped 'Return To Sender'".

ronks



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 109 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Feb 12, 2003 (02:47) * 93 lines 
 
Thanks again, Ron Sipherd, ronks@well.com for the good stuff.


Electropants

According to Dr. Michael Shur of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, "The
clothing we wear doesn't contain electronic elements." Besides physics, he
appears to specialize in Discovery Of The Blindingly Obvious; anyway, this
is changing as companies like DuPont makes yarn with conductive fibers, and
even a metallic form of bulletproof Kevlar called Aracon. First applications
have been in the military, where a shirt can function as a less conspicuous
and more convenient radio antenna, and bulletproof garments come in handy.
Civilian uses seem a bit more of a stretch (stretch fabric, get it, um never
mind). Some prototypes include a built-in warmer for football games like a
wearable electric blanket; car upholstery that senses the occupants' weight
and tunes the air bags to match, and a T-shirt that detects the wearer's
heart rate and temperature. One proposal is to build radio receiver circuits
into a shirt, with the radio buttons being you guessed it; and an MP3 player
incorporated into a jacket and hood. Still to come is a power source, such
as solar cells woven into the fabric; as Dr. Shur further observes, "people
wear their clothes all day."


New Day For Sun?

Sun Microsystems has not been a sunny place lately: its stock is down from
$64 a share less than two and a half years ago to $3.07 Friday, and it lost
a record $2.28 billion in the last quarter. It is considered uniquely
vulnerable to the challenge of GNU and Linux because of the degree to which
it relies on a proprietary form of Unix, compared to IBM and H-P who are
promoting the open-source alternative. This week the company is expected to
announce a major initiative with the snappy name of N1, described as a
"technology [that] links servers, storage systems, software and networking
so the parts can be centrally managed". The goal is to shed its image as a
seller of server and peripheral hardware, and compete with IBM, H-P, and
others as a full-service general supplier of hardware, software and services
for data centers of all sizes. Financial analysts don't argue with Sun's
proposed strategy; one called it "absolutely the right thing to do", but
notes that Sun's rivals have such a head start in the field that it may be
too late for it to catch up.




Push And Pull

It has long (at least in Internet years) been recognized that TV viewing is
qualitatively different from Web browsing. Both involve staring at a monitor
but TV is essentially passive while perusing the Internet is typically more
active, with the user choosing to visit a site. Advertising has not always
been aware of the difference, assuming that what works for couch potatoes
like a bunch of dancing frogs telling you to drink more beer naturally
translates to an audience of sophisticated, intelligent, hip consumers like
ourselves. Pop-up and pop-under ads are an example of how to infuriate a
segment of the surfing audience. Some designers are now pursuing a "pull"
strategy for their Web sites in place of the TV-style intrusive "push"
approach. Microsoft Network seems to be one: according to the "chief media
revenue officer" at MSN, they are creating custom solutions for clients such
as Lexus.msn.com that try to provide value in various ways along with the
opportunity to click on product-info links. MSN's Lexus site is said to
focus on "Luxurious Living" lifestyle data like guides to hotels, high-tech
homes, and farmers' markets. (I see jet-setters filling their SUV with fresh
rutabagas and driving back to the Ritz to have them artfully prepared.)
Other similar approaches are taken by subscription sites: the Economist
waives its $70 annual fee to users who agree to get e-mail from Oracle, and
some place called salon.com offers access to its paid sections to users "who
agree to interact with an ad from Mercedes-Benz".


Bye Bye, Bulb?

Solid-state lighting, typically bright LEDs, is showing up in traffic
lights, brake lights, exit signage, and flashlights, and analysts speculate
it will start to expand into significant roles in home and office lighting
within about four years. Its present drawback is price; most LED devices
cost about 40 to 100 times as much as an equally bright incandescent bulb.
But they draw only one-fifth the electricity and last about ten times longer
and when they start to go they do so gradually rather than burning out at
once. In addition, many devices consist of a hundred or more LED units, so
even if a few fail the stoplight or whatever still works. The DOE estimates
that wide adoption of LED light in the next twenty years could save US users
overall about $100 billion annually. Another potential for the technology
is mood lighting on a major scale; with simple chips driving the lights,
they can vary the intensity and the hue of the units, possibly mitigating
the effects of decreased winter sunlight and the constant sameness of
institutional lights in offices and nursing homes. Theaters have already
adopted LEDs for dramatic effects on the stage and in outdoor marquees. One
company even claims to have keyed room lighting to a Star Trek computer game
so when the Enterprise passes through a red nebula, so do you. Gosh.
However, even more futuristic lighting technologies are in development that
may give LEDs some competition by 2007; chief is "organic light emitting
diodes" or OLEDs that can be manufactured as continuous polymer sheets at
less cost than individual LED lens units.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 110 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Feb 24, 2003 (11:21) * 42 lines 
 
Thanks ronks!


The article on Connectix says they are also writing code to allow a single
Intel box to run multiple servers such as Win 2000, Unix, and Linux. That
might be a draw for MS, though I think they would prefer to drive out the
competition; maybe they will buy the company and kill the project.


Price Caps Are Off DSL Service

Yesterday was not FCC chairman Michael Powell's day. In months of debate
over new rules on how much the local phone companies can charge third-party
providers, he wanted to take the lid off local voice service and keep it on
high-speed broadband access. He lost on both counts. With caveats for the
usual exceptions, footnotes and complexities of the bureaucratic decision,
it seems to mean that the owner of the lines from home or office to the
phone company's exchange (the "central office") can charge as much as it
wants to somebody like Covad, who then sells it to an ISP like Earthlink.
The article says Covad charges the ISP about $30 a month and Earthlink bills
the end user around $50; that will likely increase in a kind of domino
effect as Covad has to ante up more to the phone company. The new rules
will not affect ISPs who buy broadband direct, such as AOL and MSN; but they
and the cable companies can't help but notice the price increases all around
them and think about hitching a ride on the gravy train.


Imitation Of Life, At A Price

Meanwhile for the unwashed masses who use dial-up connections, ESPN is
offering a new service to bring TV-quality animation to a monitor near you.
Called ESPN Motion and taken from ESPN owner Disney, it is intended to deal
with the problem that over POTS, live action looks like someone "performing
in a badly dubbed foreign film". It requires special downloaded software,
which retrieves A/V film clips from ESPN during the day while connected and
stores them on the users' hard drive for showing at local channel speed.
However; the clips are preceded and/or followed by mandatory viewing of 15
to 30-second commercials. The premise seems to be that some advertisers
won't pay for Web ads unless they effectively mimic television; but others
observe that users don't access the Web passively the way they watch TV. The
fat lady has yet to sing on this marketing ploy.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 111 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Feb 24, 2003 (19:07) * 59 lines 
 
Ronks rocks. He reeally does!



Another Month, Another Restatement

At least this time it's not somebody's bogus revenue figures. When Jupiter
Media Metrix collapsed last June, they sold off part of their Web-site
audience measurement business to ComScore; but archrival Nielsen got the
tracking software which they claimed patent rights to. Somewhere in the
shuffle ComScore ended up undercounting visits, especially by viewers at
work whose companies frown on letting them install tracking software.
ComScore now says the most popular sites like About.com, EBay, Lycos, and so
on had 20-25 percent more viewers in the last three months of 2002 than they
thought; e.g., 56 million instead of 44 M for about.com. They still have a
credibility problem though, largely because their numbers vary widely from
Nielsen's (107 M Yahoo viewers vs. Nielsen's 81 M for example), leading many
to disregard them both except as gross approximations, especially since both
companies refuse to allow audits. Still, the effect of this whole dust-up
may be largely internal: as one analyst observes, "Stock prices are no
longer tied to the number of visitors you have. Now investors have this
little idea of being profitable."


Coke Issues Own Debit Cards

The company says "Coca-Cola has built incredible relationships with its
customers by being more than just a beverage provider; we have an obligation
to help them solve their business problems." Incredible indeed; except they
don't mean customers like you and me, they mean restaurants. Many have
hourly staff with no bank accounts, making it hard to pay them via cheap
funds transfer, so Coke is offering an ATM card that takes payroll deposits,
issued via Citibank; it will split the transaction-fee revenue with Citi,
thus helping Coke with some business problems of its own.


Broadband Sellers Gear Up After FCC Decision

Now that the FCC says phone companies can charge ISPs more for high-speed
DSL access, hardware suppliers like Cisco, Intel, and Juniper are salivating
at the prospect of a boom. The theory seems to be that since they can raise
prices, the phone companies will rush to install more broadband routers and
other gear; exactly how rising prices will translate to more end-user demand
is not mentioned in the euphoria. The phone companies themselves, though
active sellers of the Kool-Aid to the FCC, appear less ready to drink it:
SBC for example is looking to buy DirecTV satellite operations, a direct
competitor to DSL.


Age-Old Principle Rediscovered

Glenn Argenbright, CEO of security consultant Saflink, on customers' habits
in purchasing access-control biometric recognition equipment: "Good-looking
devices outsell ugly ones regardless of reliability; it kills me."




Rockin' Ronks.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 112 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Jun 25, 2003 (14:26) * 69 lines 
 
Fabrics Woven From Nanotubes

Scientists at universities in Dallas and Dublin have developed a technique
for constructing extremely strong thread from carbon nanotubes, which
normally are less than .00005 inches long. Even a petite size garment needs
longer threads than that, and these have been spun to lengths of up to 100
yards, enough for an XXL. The news article suggests fancifully that with
their electronic properties they could be woven into a bulletproof shirt
that plays MP3 files and acts as a cell phone. On the other hand, someone
wearing a shirt-phone that played music might need for it to be bulletproof.
In any case, these threads now go for $15,000 an ounce, pricey even by the
standards of Paris couture.


Everybody seems to be suing everybody today:

Connecticut Sues Oracle; Oracle Sues PeopleSoft and JD Edwards

PeopleSoft was suing Oracle already, so they don't make the marquee, but
that was with the claim that Oracle's hostile buyout offer was "diabolical"
and a "sham" meant to destroy competition from PS. (You know, with that
beard of his Larry Ellison does look a bit like Mephistopheles; I wonder..)
Oracle is suing PS on behalf of PS's own stockholders who it says were
deprived of the opportunity to vote when PS made the JDE takeover a cash
deal. Connecticut, which is a couple of weeks away from turning on a $100
million PeopleSoft application and is unhappy about Oracle's stated plan to
kill PS software, is suing Oracle for violating state antitrust laws,
claiming the number of vendors for enterprise software would effectively be
reduced to two with Germany's SAP the only comparable rival.


Private Groups Sue Microsoft

Massachusetts is not entirely alone as a plaintiff in the MS antitrust case.
The Computer and Communications Industry Association (which before it took
on communications used to be the CIA, much to the confusion of many) and the
Software and Information Industry Association filed anti-MS friend-of-the-
court briefs at the original trial(s) and received permission from the judge
to oppose the settlement before the appeals court. MS is arguing they lack
standing to object, apparently because they merely represent rivals crushed
by the monopolist and are hence of no account legally.



Spam On Senate's Plate Again

For the third time in four years, Senators Conrad Burns and Ron Wyden have
introduced a bill to curb the excesses of unsolicited commercial e-mail.
This year's edition appears stronger than before, and the opposition to it
weaker, giving it a better chance of becoming law. The Commerce Committee
unanimously approved the bill which would declare a Federal crime the use of
fraudulent or deceptive return addresses and false headers or subject lines.
It would also outlaw the robotic harvesting of addresses, and this year's
bill prohibits dictionary attacks, hijacking other computers to send mail,
and opening large numbers of false e-mail accounts; and it requires the
sender to provide a physical mail reply address, offer an opt-out mechanism,
and label the mail as an ad. Businesses who knowingly employ spammers to
promote their products or services would also be held liable. The bill would
allow states "to enact and enforce their own antispam legislation". While
the Commerce Committee bill declares violations a misdemeanor (though with
up to a year in jail), the Judiciary Committee may beef up the penalties.
Besides growing clamor among the public to Do Something, former opponents
are coming around to see its value; a spokesman for the Direct Marketing
Association gets the Quote Of The Day award for his

"We can't communicate with our consumers because their in-boxes are full of
Nigerian widows and body enlargement stuff."

Thanks Ron!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 113 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Jul  8, 2003 (09:27) * 232 lines 
 
Sun 1, Microsoft 1, Java 0

A Federal appeals court yesterday held that Microsoft did not have to
include Sun's version of Java software with Windows but that it could not
include its own either. The decision reversed a lower court's ruling that
MS
as an OS monopolist needed to bundle Sun's Java lest it "tip" the market
toward its own .NET standard, saying that while a "serious danger" of
that
existed as the trial court found, it did not threaten the "immediate and
irreparable harm" needed to justify an injunction. But it held
Microsoft's
own version of Java probably violated Sun's copyright and could not be
bundled with Windows; the actual case to decide that and settle on the
amount of damages will most likely not get scheduled before 2005, but
even
now it is of mostly academic interest except for the $1 billion Sun is
asking for. One analyst notes that "history and market forces have
largely
passed this case by", since MS has already stopped including either kind
of
Java with Windows and PC makers like Dell and H-P load Sun's version on
machines they ship.


I suppose it depends on the dog? Anyway I checked the story and lunch is
what the man said; maybe he had a different excuse in mind.

In Microsoft We Trust

An article today discusses the "Trusted Computing Group" backed by
monopo-
er, industry leaders such as Microsoft and Intel, with support from
wannabes
like AMD, IBM and H-P, to create a special chip on motherboards with
secret
identifying keys. Never mind that Intel tried something like this in
1999
that led to the phrase "Big Brother Inside" and was a PR flop on the
level
of their floating-point processor who-needs-accuracy gaffe, they're at it
again. Intel says the activation of hardware features will be
"voluntary"
on the users' part, though it may be an offer they can't refuse if they
want
various features. Coupled with the proposed Windows Palladium
initiative,
now known as the "Next Generation Secure Computing Base" to be included
in
the Longhorn release, it involves two operating system partitions, one of
which is like today's and the other locked down with security features to
protect the record industry I mean the user. Though MS denies it, Lotus
founder Mitch Kapor opines they may some day offer Office software and
other
applications only on the locked half. Other criticisms are that the
initiative focuses on turning the PC into a media conduit for commercial
entertainment despite the inappropriate nature of such uses for corporate
and most SOHO users, though it would provide companies more tools to
control
employees' use of desktop systems. Another is that it facilitates
creation
of a secure illegal "Darknet" for file swapping and other nefarious
activities among trusted conspirators. Apple meanwhile relies on
software
for music-file protection with its iTunes function, but the Wintel
companies
appear to take no lesson from its success.


DHS.com

Shopping is fun when you can print money; the Department of Homeland
Security has a big budget and means to use it on buying tech toys to spy
on
us. (The name DHS.com was coined by the department's Assistant Secretary
Robert Liscouski.) Unlike the DOD who designs say a bomber and puts out
bids for it, the DHS is going out to procure stuff already available;
partly
out of the current administration's belief in Private Enterprise and
partly
because a government-designed router would probably bring the net to a
dead
stop if they turned it on. Speakers at the "Information Technology
Leadership In A Security-Focused World" painted a picture that "involves
collecting vast sets of personal information in computer databases, then
sorting and analyzing the data to look for suspicious activities".
Whether
that collection of users' data would be hindered or helped by the secret
features of the Trusted Computing Group was not mentioned in the story.


SAP To Oracle: Hold Your Coat?

The battle for control of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards leaves SAP smiling,
the
way a bruising primary battle among Democrats is a welcome sight to
Republicans. With current and prospective customers wondering if Oracle
will drop PeopleSoft's products, and whether PeopleSoft will do the same
to
JDE's, and if the whole set of deals will be snarled in legal challenges
for
years (the DOJ just said it is extending its query), SAP is taking out
ads
asking "Will your needs continue to be addressed? Or will you find your
business playing second fiddle to the turmoil of mergers and
acquisitions?"
SAP, which stands for Systems, Applications, Products for Data-Processing
(no wonder they abbreviate it) was founded in 1972 by four ex-IBM
engineers
and is now "Europe's largest software developer and the world's leading
supplier of business software". Per the following figures from the
paper:

$Bil 2002 Market
Revenue Share
SAP 7.8 35%
Oracle 2.5 13%
PSoft 1.9 10%
JDEdw 0.9 5%



Oracle Bid Delayed

Some more on the DOJ's statement that it will "extend its review" of
Oracle's $6.3 billion hostile takeover proposal to PeopleSoft
shareholders.
The review is expected to take several months to run its course; that
goes
past the present July 7 expiration of the tender offer, though Oracle can
and probably will push the deadline rather than give up its effort. More
serious for them, it gives PS time to complete its $1.75 B buyout of J D
Edwards, which poses three problems for Oracle. First, it makes PS
bigger
and would likely require raising the offer price for it; second, it means
merging three companies instead of just two; and finally it increases
antitrust scrutiny by reducing further the already small number of
vendors
offering enterprise software. Of course, it means more and longer
uncertainty for current and potential customers of PS and JDE as well.


The 40-Hour Laptop

NEC says it has developed a laptop power source based on a fuel cell that
provides about ten times the useful life of today's lithium-ion battery.
It
hopes to market the system by 2005, though if it uses a hydrogen tank for
a
power source it's unclear how many airlines will allow it on board.
Chances
are NEC will not use images of the Hindenburg or the Challenger in its
ads.



Quote Of The Day

US District Court Judge Milton Pollack, dismissing class-action suits
against Merrill Lynch by investors (not ML clients) who claimed their
stock
market losses were due to overly optimistic company evaluations:

"plaintiffs would have this court conclude that the federal securities
laws
were meant to underwrite, subsidize, and encourage their rash speculation
in
joining a free-wheeling casino that lured thousands obsessed with the
fantasy of Olympian riches."



Why The Bubble Burst

An article by two NYU B-school professors in the latest Journal Of
Finance
looks at causes behind the spectacular rise and fall of tech stocks and
finds two main explanations. One was public faith in their value, which
far
exceeded the belief of insiders and institutional buyers. The other was
a
sort of structural limit on short selling, which kept pessimists from
having
the market effect they might exert in more widely traded companies. The
latter arose from the fact that most tech stocks were recent IPOs,
prevented
by underwriters from offering for sale more than 15-20% of authorized
shares
until after a "lock-up" period; with so few shares publicly available,
the
cost of selling them short was raised by brokerage rules. At the end of
the
lock-up term, tech stocks dropped in value about twice as much as other
types and they continued to drift downward. Move now to the spring of
2000:
an unusually large number of tech stocks came out of the lock-up period
at
about the same time, releasing $300 billion of essentially new shares at
a
time when the level of public optimism was insufficient to absorb them
all
at existing prices. So prices fell, further disillusioning the potential
buyers, leading to more declines, and the rest as they say is history.
Reviewer Hal Varian, dean of the School of Information Management and
Systems at Berkeley, notes that already in the latest market rise it is
speculative issues like biotech, Chinese Internet companies, and penny
stocks that are leading the advance with individual buyers while
institutions lag behind them; or in other words "Here we go again".


Laptops On Top

Per the NPD market research firm, retail store sales of laptops accounted
for 54% of the total, exceeding desktop systems for the first time ever
and
more than double their 25% share in January 2000.



Pneumatic Hose Makes News

From the BBC at
comes
the story of aerosol stockings, evidently a craze in Japan. They don't
snag, they're more comfortable than the woven kind in hot weather, and
even
in monsoon season they don't run (as in dissolve). Available for $12 a
can
of about 20 pairs worth, they come in terracotta, bronze and "natural";
fishnet seems to be beyond the technology, though with a screen who
knows.
They can be washed off with "a bit of scrubbing".


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 114 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug  1, 2003 (03:34) * 10 lines 
 
More Wireless Burger Joints

McDonald's is super-sizing its network menu. It's beefing up its NYC
outlets
so equipped from 60 to 75 (access is free through the end of next month,
then goes to $3 a day) and plans to install the facility in up to 20,000
locations. Already 75 restaurants in SF have it and Chicago is next.


Thanks Ron.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 115 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Fri, Aug  1, 2003 (07:08) * 3 lines 
 
My old uni town, Brighton, has just wirelessed the beach up.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3068915.stm


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 116 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sat, Aug  2, 2003 (18:37) * 2 lines 
 
Do you have a wireless rig of some sort, Mike?



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 117 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Sun, Aug  3, 2003 (17:57) * 1 lines 
 
no...don't even have a network at home at the moment. Will have by the end of the week...building myself a second machine as part of the very early phase of starting a company.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 118 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Tue, Aug  5, 2003 (08:25) * 2 lines 
 
Cool Mike, what's the company going to be doing?



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 119 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Wed, Aug  6, 2003 (14:46) * 1 lines 
 
if it happens we're going to be providing tech support/installation/config services to small/medium companies who don't have the need/money for a full time IT person.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 120 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Aug  7, 2003 (04:48) * 1 lines 
 
Good business to be in! What's your company called?


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 121 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Sun, Aug 10, 2003 (16:37) * 1 lines 
 
no name as yet...still in the planning stages...but we might be associating ourselves with my friend's girlfriend's PR company, "Bamboo PR". So it could be "Bamboo Technology" or something along those lines.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 122 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Aug 11, 2003 (08:44) * 1 lines 
 
That's a great name and suggests all kinds of possibilities for logos.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 123 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Tue, Aug 19, 2003 (04:06) * 1 lines 
 
Check out www.bamboopr.co.uk. I particularly like their "panda feet" logo.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 124 of 142: Stacey   (stacey) * Tue, Aug 26, 2003 (23:34) * 1 lines 
 
Yay Mike! Way to insert yourself into a niche market! Good luck!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 125 of 142: host  (mikeg) * Wed, Aug 27, 2003 (12:56) * 1 lines 
 
fingers crossed...have some potential clients, too. This thing could actually work...


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 126 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 29, 2003 (18:45) * 76 lines 
 
ronks rides again:


Who Is Mr. Big?

While the author of the Sobig worm is still unknown, a few clues to his
identity are emerging. Over the last eight months six variants of the
program have been issued as he refines it to evade countermeasures. The
main functions of the worm appear to be obtaining information about the
victim's e-mail lists and mailing the worm to those on it. Just like
spam
with a toxic twist. Speculation centers on the likelihood that the
author
is building a tool to flood the Internet with e-mail from either the
primary
victims or a secondary set (like the 20 IP addresses the victims were to
be
told to contact on a given day); doing so from these machines would
bypass
blacklists of known spam sources. It's unclear if the author has
commercial
or simply disruptive intent; the latter would include a sort of
distributed
denial of service attack on the entire Internet. The current version,
Sobig.F, expires on September 10 with self-inactivating code; some time
after that a new release is likely to appear with possibly more clues for
the white hats to unravel.


Shareholder Web Site Proposed For Worldcom

As the scandal-ridden telecomm company (now renamed MCI) tries to emerge
from bankruptcy as less of a poster boy for corporate fraud, one
innovation
is a Web site for owners of stock. That is probably not a new idea per
se,
but this one has some novel features. According to the report,
"investors
can bring concerns to the attention of the board - and other
shareholders.
The site will allow them to have resolutions voted on without having to
win
approval to do so at the annual meeting." It's not clear from the story
if
the votes would be binding, or how shareholders without Internet access
would vote.


Phone Games

Bored SUV drivers with no one to talk to on their cell phone who might be
tempted to waste their attention on driving don't have to worry now.
Nokia
is coming out with the N-Gage handheld phone, radio, Web browser and
music
player, and if that isn't enough it will include games from Electronic
Arts.


Silicon Shrinks

Silicon Graphics will reduce its staff by a sixth (600 jobs) in its quest
to
cut expenses and "return to profitability". Its high-end systems,
largely
targeted to Hollywood and the military, have not sold well lately.


Earthlink Sues

100 defendants were listed in the ISP's complaint against spammers in
Alabama and Canada, said to have created "an elaborate chain of fake
names
and nonexistent companies" to shield their issuance of over 250 million
unsolicited commercial e-mails. Bank fraud, identity theft, and stolen
credit cards are also alleged in the complaint.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 127 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Sep  4, 2003 (13:24) * 12 lines 
 
Float Like A Penguin, Sting Like A Big Blue Bee

IBM is rolling out a new suite of curious ads identifying itself with Linux.
In them, the operating system (which is about ten years old) is played by a
10-year-old boy like a young Luke Skywalker receiving "words of wisdom" from
Muhammad Ali, professor Henry Louis Gates, and coach John Wooden; also a
movie director, an astronomer, and a plumber. Some of them (the ads that is,
not the Jedis) are said to be interactive at www.ibm.com/open and some will
run during the US Open tennis tournament if it ever stops raining there.
Use the Force, Linus.

Ronks - ron sipherd is the source!


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 128 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Oct  5, 2003 (11:48) * 117 lines 
 
Busy Techie (ronks)

Security Patches Breed Viruses

An interesting article today suggests that Microsoft's publication of a
fix
actually provides fodder for exploitation of the weakness it corrects.
Writers of worms and viruses are said to dissect the patch to analyze the
flaw it addresses and take advantage of it on machines whose owners are
slow
to (or simply fail to) apply the patch. The infamous Blaster worm for
example appeared 25 days after the issuance of a fix for it; as it
happens,
a similar patch to another area of MS code came out 19 days ago so look
out.
The story also includes the:

Understatement Of The Week

"The PC business model has not placed much value on building secure,
well-
engineered software."

RF Tags In The News

The conference has a more in-depth topic on radio-frequency
tags,
but there was an overview of the business in a recent news story. While
they a still a ways from replacing those bar-code tags you see on items
in
the store, they're gaining. The Defense Department and Wal-Mart are
expected to require some or all of their suppliers to attach the tags by
2005 at least to cartons and pallets of materiel delivered for inventory
control, using a newer version that can "be read by scanners anywhere in
the
world". The present cost of each tag at about 25-30 cents makes them
impractical for cheap mass-market items today, but they are still so
ubiquitous that a group originally formed to protest data mining of
credit
and grocery-store cards is raising the alarm over RFID's privacy issues.
They paint a 1984+ picture of "companies and government agencies ... able
to
monitor what people read or where they assemble, from radio tags embedded
in
their books or woven into clothing". The industry is expected to have
revenue (for the tags, the readers, and associated software to pursue
novels
and trousers) of about $1.13 billion this year, with projected annual
growth
rates in subareas like:

Security & access control: 9.5%
Automobile immobilization: 6.4
Transportation: 18.9 (when not immobilized)
Supply chain management: 38.3
Toll collection: 9.8 (like CalTrans' Fastrak)
Asset management: 21.5 ("tracking people, equipment, or
documents")


European Ruling A Threat To Microsoft

A squabble in Brussels between two American health services could cast a
shadow on Microsoft's licensing policies. Atlanta's NDC Health sued IMS
Health in the EU Court Of Justice over an obscure issue: the Connecticut
defendant's refusal to let NDC license its drug-sales database structure.
The preliminary finding by the European Advocate General, likely to be
adopted by the court, is that "a company should have access to a
[dominant]
rival's intellectual property if it planned to offer a different product,
or
if the sharing was necessary to create competition". The decision could
serve as precedent in a European case involving Microsoft's refusal to
license its software code to rivals like Sun and IBM who want to use it
to
create server operating systems that interface with Windows, the dominant
desktop OS. An analyst observes the court could hold that "a refusal by
Microsoft to license the necessary parts of Windows could be an abuse of
its
dominant position". The EU court has no jurisdiction in this country,
but
once the code is out of the bag...

"Dominant" is borrowed from another sentence by the Advocate General: if
the
court finds that NDC intended to offer a better or different product,
"that
would render a refusal to grant a license an abuse of IMS's dominant
position". Basically as I understand it the EU law somewhat tracks US
law
in holding that a monopolist is subject to more scrutiny and limits than
a
player in an atomized market (many competitors, none dominant) or one
with a
small market share.

Icann Do It; VeriSign Caves

A couple days after domain-name registrar VeriSign announced its strategy
on
September 15 to hijack misspelled .com and .net URLs to its own
advertising-
supported site with the hope of reaping millions, the Internet oversight
group Icann asked them to stop, since the unannounced change wrought
havoc
with some spam blockers and caused other problems. VeriSign refused.
Yesterday, Icann decided to stop being Mr. Nice Corporation; it told
VeriSign if it did not terminate the "service" by 6 PM today, Icann would
"seek promptly to enforce VeriSign's contractual obligations" such as
being
a neutral registry administrator and not a rival to other search sites,
resulting in a possible $100,000 fine and the termination of VeriSign's
registration rights. Mighty VeriSign responded with a request "for a few
days' reprieve". Icann refused. VeriSign then agreed to stop. Perhaps
the
good guys don't always finish last after all.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 129 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Oct  6, 2003 (22:32) * 82 lines 
 

Caller ID For E-Mail?

A sort of Internet-wide whitelist feature is being proposed as a solution
to
spam. "Whitelisting" is used by the Well and many ISPs to allow users to
define senders of mail who should be let through spam filters, but many
fail
to list say Land's End before placing their first online order, so the
confirmation and subsequent mailings are treated as spam. The original
trusting nature of the Internet, from back when users were PhD's swapping
theses and obscure jokes about John Von Neumann, has left a legacy
structure
that may have to be completely revamped to be more secure from unwanted
Viagra vendors, but the big legitimate online merchants are pressing for
a
solution. Outside of the technical challenges, which are not trivial, is
the problem of widely divergent goals among the players.

Merchants want a sort of seal of approval that gets them a blanket pass
unless the user specifically blocks them;

ISPs worry about their customers and disfavor the free-pass idea out of
concern over complaints from users who don't want any more @#$% Land's
End
turtleneck ads; and some of the bigfeet ISPs already have proprietary
spam
filters they see as selling points to their customers;

and there is also a smaller group that presently sells e-mail filters and
doesn't relish the idea of being superseded by a free global solution.

A major issue is how to keep Mr. CheapViagra.com from passing himself off
as
Land's End. Kevin Doerr of Microsoft waves away the issue with "IP
spoofing
is hard to do and easy to detect", but others are not so breezy about it.
There seem to be two major solution candidates, akin to the pea-shooter
and
the howitzer. A simple registry of good-guy e-mail servers could be set
up
quickly and used as a kind of good-faith badge; if it is not spoofed. To
guarantee against that, the heavy-duty solution is digital certificates
based on long binary keys like those used for encrypting online orders.
Whether either solution could avoid the necessity for all recipients of
e-
mail to install new software is unclear.


MS Sued Over Bugs

LA film editor Marcy Hamilton says she suffered a case of identity theft
because the Windows software on her PC where her Social Security number
and
other ID codes were stored is defective. So defective as to violate
California consumer-protection laws and be an unfair business practice.
Her
lawyer is seeking class-action status for the case on behalf of all
Windows
users. It could serve as a major precedent and a test of MS and other
vendors' software licensing terms. Unlike other products which are sold
and
are subject to product-liability statutes, software is licensed; the user
gets a right to use the code, but not much by way of a "product" other
than
a shiny CD. So far the article declares "Microsoft ... has suffered no
reverses in court that would establish any liability for flawed
software."
The plaintiffs may claim that Microsoft's disclaimer of responsibility in
the license agreement is void because nobody reads that stuff before
clicking "Yes"; this has been tried before, but with limited success,
mostly
against vendors who stupidly don't show you the agreement before telling
you
to consent. More broadly, they may try to override the license provision
on
consumer-protection grounds like the implicit guarantee a product is "fit
for its intended purpose", which in some cases cannot be negated by
agreement of the parties.


from Ron Sipherd ronks@well.com


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 130 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Oct 29, 2003 (13:32) * 466 lines 
 
Ron Sipherd (ronks@well.com) has more great stuff:

Borland Slumps

The company that imagined itself a contender for the
office-software market,
ran afoul of the Microsoft juggernaut years before Netscape and
was turned
into a corporate grease spot on Highway 17, is still alive but
struggling.
Its shares fell 17 percent on announced plans to let go 125 staff,
declining
sales, and barely break-even profits for the last quarter.


Execs Out At CA

Computer Associates is shedding people too, but closer to the top
of the
pyramid. It fired its CFO and the SVP and VP of finance following
an
investigation of how sales were booked. The company has been sued
over
charges it manipulated its accounting to show a pretend profit and
give the
CEO $1.1 billion in unearned bonuses.


No State Regulation Of Internet Phone Calls, Says Judge

A federal trial court in Minnesota has declared the state may not
treat a
company offering VoIP (Voice over IP) services as a local phone
company.
Vonage offers unlimited calling in the US and Canada for $35 a
month over
the Internet. Reasons for the decision are to be announced Friday,
but it
may be on interstate-commerce grounds. Speculating on the growth
of the
industry, a UBS analyst made the

Quote Of The Day

"VoIP technology has the potential to do to [phone companies] what
file
sharing is doing to the recording industry."


Hot Products

Nokia cell phones have lately developed the unfortunate habit of
spontaneous
combustion. The company blamed earlier instances of blazing
communications
on third-party replacement batteries, but two recent cases in
Holland, most
recently of a teenager whose Model 7210 burned a hole in his
pants, involved
all Nokia components (other than the trousers).



Even Hotter Products

Rod Sprules, a Canadian engineer, has received a patent on
fireplace logs
made from coffee grounds. Called the Java Log, it all started
when he found
in a reference book that burning coffee grounds produce more heat
than
burning wood. Several years later, he began to capitalize on the
idea by
scrounging used grounds from the dumpster of Ottawa's Planet
Coffee. This
entrepreneurial approach to obtaining raw material was not without
its
drawbacks, he says: "Have you ever seen a wet bagel? It swells to
the size
of an inner tube." He now hopes to strike deals with Starbucks,
Krispy
Kreme, and the like which will obviate the need to rummage in wet
trash.
And he says his company Robustion is working on a log that doesn't
smell
like coffee for those who prefer a non-aromatic variety.

Et Tu, SCO?

SCO, who is suing IBM over the latter's claimed incorporation of
its code
into Linux, is controlled and mostly owned by an investment firm
called
Canopy, who until recently also owned a software developer named
Lineo.
Lineo has just settled a claim that it incorporated the
proprietary code of
another company into GNU and stripped off the copyright notice of
the
developer, Monte Vista. Lineo required that the terms of the
settlement be
sealed, and neither party will discuss it on the record, but it is
speculated that Lineo claimed the infringement was an innocent
mistake
deserving of only token damages, a defense that IBM could as
easily raise to
the embarrassment of SCO.

Overseas Profit Up At Two Companies

Philips Electronics reports quarterly net profit of $145 million,
compared
to a loss over twice that size a year earlier, largely based on
sales of its
LCD monitors and despite sluggish sales of consumer products in
the US.
Similarly Intel doubled its quarterly profit from last year,
mostly on
strength from Asia, Europe, and high-end notebooks while US and
flash-memory
volume lagged.


Transmeta's Got A Secret

Another one, from the company who kept their low-power CPU under
wraps till
rollout. They are said to have lost ground to Intel for general
mobile-
computer use and to be making a stand with specialized
applications.
However, Intel made no presentation to this year's Microprocessor
Forum and
is reported to be dealing with problems as they reduce circuits to
etched
lines of 90 nanometers. Tiny circuits and fast-switching ones
leak current;
and tinier and the faster they get, the more they lose. Enter
Transmeta.
They say they have a software solution to the hardware dilemma,
though they
declined to provide details.


E-Mathoms

Katie Hafner reports that many computer users accumulate useless
gadgets
that look good in the catalog but end up gathering dust on the
shelf or
being sold off on EBay to the next gullible fool, to the point
where NIB or
"new in box" has become a standard abbreviation on auction offers.
No one
here would do this of course, but she says there are people with
webcams, a
"universal remote that came with a manual as thick as a Russian
novel",
massive CD duplicators to share music with friends whose tastes
differ, GPS
locators that give the exact latitude and longitude of your
backyard (in
case you need to call in an airstrike on the gophers), belt-clip
monitors
that tell how many dozen miles you ran that day for uploading onto
your
database (with optional heart monitor and perhaps a navel
thermometer),
flatbed scanners, cordless everything, probably even cordless
cords, PDAs
for storing all your committee meetings, and oh so much more. She
observes
"all too often the buyers find they cannot really change their
lives just by
acquiring something new and different." If this fact gets out the
economic
recovery is done for.


From One Ster To Another

Wayne Rosso, described as "a colorful music business veteran", has
left his
post as president of the Grokster file-sharing company to become
CEO of
Blubster. Owned by Madrid-based Optisoft which he will also head,
the Blub
is said to offer secure and anonymous file-sharing for music
lovers that
dare not speak their name. Especially to the RIAA.



Data Mining For The Rest Of Us

A recent news story discusses the expansion of data mining to
something
called "text mining" that doesn't require as much structure to the
information it sifts through, and is adaptable to a wide variety
of uses
outside the business world. Phone call transcripts, articles,
e-mail and
other sources feed into products from ClearForest and SPSS at up
to 250,000
pages per hour to look for correlations among terms, for medical
research
and spotting of behavior patterns. One of the most dramatic uses
of the
technique however occurred long before the current generation of
tools: in
the mid-1980's a researched at the University of Chicago observed
an
unexpected linkage in articles on Medline between the terms
"migraine" and
"spreading depression", and another with the use of magnesium to
forestall
occurrences of the latter, suggesting that "magnesium deficiency
might be a
causal factor in migraine", which had not been thought of before.


Sun Down Yet Again

With the regularity of the fall of dusk if not the frequency, Sun
Microsystems announced another quarter of declining sales (the
tenth in a
row) and a widening net loss. The loss amounted to $286 million
compared
with $111 M a year ago, and revenue was off 8 percent. Cash flow
was a
negative $49 million and margins are off 1.1%. Last year Sun let
go 11
percent of its staff, and last month it said it would boot another
3%; no
plans were announced in the latest gloomy report to lay off any
more of the
company's employees. Either of them, ha ha. A Merrill Lynch
analyst says
it may soon become "acquisition bait".


The Fish Is Back

Red Herring magazine is described as "an early messenger of the
new
economy"; it is of course dead, along with many other once-shining
stars of
those heady days back in the previous millennium. However, it may
make a
comeback; Frenchman Alex Vieux, impresario of fancy confabs like
the
European Technology Roundtable, has bought the brand name and
hopes to re-
start it up. He can't send it to the magazine's subscriber list,
or even
print it till next fall - Time Warner bought the list with an
18-month no-
compete clause last April - but he says he is hiring writers and
other
staff, perhaps for an earlier Web edition. Emphasizing a global
perspective
from his present offices in Mountain View, he made the

Quote Of The Day (Utterly Obvious Division)

"Silicon Valley is not America. It is not a mirror of the
country."



XP x 5 = 2003

Microsoft's new Office 2003 product which officially went on sale
this week
is not getting a lot of good press: PC Magazine's summation is
"end users
will probably not find Office 2003 a compelling upgrade". The
main features
seem to be in Outlook (a program for the transmission of viruses
and e-mail)
and workgroup authorship-sharing tools. And XML, for those who
write letters
in Extended Markup Language. In fact, MS Office appears to be in
trouble:
of the company's major product lines, it has the slowest sales
growth rate
over the last three years now that every man, woman, child and
vertebrate
life form has a copy, and there is actually a hint of competition
from Sun's
StarOffice and Linux-based products. So, what to do? Build on your
strength,
which in Microsoft's case is a cash hoard the size of Neptune, and
quintuple
your advertising budget over the rollout of the previous (XP)
release. They
plan to shovel $150 million to persuade users to upgrade and not
to defect
to rivals, with ads on "The West Wing", "CSI", and the Travel
Channel. The
first to appear in the newspapers give a hint of the new "tongue
in cheek"
tone, as well as the lavish budget: in yesterday's NY Times they
took out
four full-color full-page ads featuring: a baseball diamond, empty
except
for a guy on a tractor raking the infield and desks on the mound,
in the
outfield, and so forth (title: "Swing for the cubicle wall"); a
basketball
court, again empty except for a conference table at center court
("Light up
the scoreboard from a swivel chair"); a football stadium filled
with
cubicles ("Split the uprights with a keystroke") and finally a
bunch of wage
slaves in a huddle ("Great moments don't just happen on a playing
field").
Gee, I think I'll buy two...


The Ultimate Apple

Virginia Polytechnic Institute has just built the world's fourth
fastest
supercomputer in one month out of 1100 Macintoshes for about $5
million
(plus an unstated amount of free pizzas and football tickets given
to the
assemblers), rivaling units that cost around $100-250 million and
take years
to construct. Its speed was ranked by testers at 7.41 trillion
operations a
second.




National ID Card Proposed

The interesting thing is that it's proposed as a private business
venture by
Steven Brill, creator of CourtTV and the American Lawyer and
Brill's Content
magazines. His Verified Identity Card Inc. startup wants people
to pay
about $50 up front and "a few dollars each month" for cards that
vouch the
possessors "are not on terrorism watch lists and do not have
certain felony
convictions on their records". He says data about the customers'
misdeeds
or lack thereof will be stored on a central database, which others
have
criticized as "an attractive target for subversion" and a "single
point of
failure for multiple security systems" that rely on it, but he is
unfazed by
these issues. He also says that while the system will be
developed "in
close cooperation with the government", customer data will not be
sold or
shared (except with anyone who hacks into the system), and the
card will
never be used to track a customer's movements from place to place.
What, never? No, never. What, never? Well, hardly ever. The
idea is to
speed impatient air travelers through lines and skip searches,
though not
envious looks from the other passengers; but that requires
airports and
agencies to agree to accept his word the client is a loyal
citizen.

The Future(s) Of Computing

A story in today's paper examines the diverging visions of IBM
("on-demand
computing") and Microsoft ("seamless computing") for the direction
of PC and
Web technology. Both are not above lobbing the dreaded mainframe
analogy at
one another, with an IBM VP calling Windows "a superb legacy
business" and
MS execs likening IBM's plan to dumb 3270-like browser terminals
driven from
a central server. While they cooperate on developing standards
for Web
services like XML and SOAP, the article suggests they agree on
little else.
(For example, IBM is a big Linux champion; MS wishes it would just
go away.)
They agree that the future involves more than downloading stuff;
for example
they both see business computers automatically conducting
transactions such
as parts purchases, and consumers' PCs scheduling dentist
appointments for
their unhappy owners. But how they do it is where they part
company. MS is
said to focus on "technology tools" such as the upcoming Indigo
project that
lets programmers write code to run on PCs, cell phones,
hand-helds, and
perhaps even mainframes without modification. IBM by contrast
wants to
"free companies from the previous constraints of technology" and
let them
focus instead on their business requirements by shedding their
server farms
and buying technology services from suppliers - like IBM. The
article
doesn't mention it, but it may be that people don't actually
*want* their
computers to buy parts or trundle them off to the dentist without
their
knowledge. Both of these future have a whiff of "Modern Times"
about them.



Microsoft Deals - And Finds An Unlikely Ally

Five states (the Dakotas, North Carolina, Tennessee) and DC agreed
yesterday
to resolve their consumer class action suits against Microsoft for
about
$200 million total. Earlier this year it reached a deal with
Florida,
Montana, West Virginia, and California to compensate buyers for
claims they
were overcharged. The California arrangement in brief provides
buyers of MS
products in (roughly) 1995 through 2001 with vouchers: $16 for
Windows or
DOS, $29 for Office, $26 for Excel, and $5 for Word or Works;
multiple
purchases (e.g., Windows 95 and 98) get multiple vouchers.
Details and
claim forms at . The
company still
faces suits by Massachusetts, Sun, and the European Union over its
practices. It is also being sued for patent infringement by
Michael Doyle
and his Eolas Technologies over its browser technology to execute
programs
from another site, and two months ago a jury awarded the
plaintiffs $521
million. Comes now the World Wide Consortium into the battle; in
a letter
to the director of the US patent Office, director Tim Berners-Lee
asks him
to re-examine and invalidate Eolas' patent on the grounds that it
is not a
new idea, having been preceded by (for example) the Write program
in Windows
3.1 which summoned other programs. The letter from a group not
normally
though of as a friend of MS also cites the "substantial setback
for global
interoperability and the success of the open Web" if the patent is
upheld,
with potentially mortal threats to Java, RealPlayer, Flash
plugins, Adobe
Acrobat, and Apple Quicktime.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 131 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Nov  6, 2003 (18:33) * 60 lines 
 
ronks brings us more great stuff. Awesome, Ron!


The End Of Silicon?

Just in time with Saudi Arabia saying it's nearly out of sand (see
: Saudis 'fear sand
shortage'), Intel says it has a new material to replace silicon dioxide
as
an insulator in semiconductor chips. They haven't yet said what it is,
though they may have more details today when they discuss it at a tech
confab in Japan, but it addresses the problems of separating circuits
that
are growing (so to speak) ever smaller, from 130 nanometers now to 90,
then
to 65, and later to 45 nm around 2007 when the new stuff would become
necessary. It's been reported that Intel's next-generation Prescott CPU
is
being held up on account of current leakage across insulation. The human
hair has long since disappeared as an analogy: the story today says
transistor gates are "approaching thickness of just five atomic layers".


The End Of SuSE?

Not so, says Novell, who just bought the German Linux company for $210
million with $50 M help from IBM (who got 2% of Novell in return).
Novell
says SuSE and its staff of 400 will remain largely independent and the
product separately branded from Netware for "the foreseeable future".
With
the Netware network OS battered by Microsoft and other rivals, Novell has
moved to shore up its line by emphasizing Linux; it bought developer
Ximian
three months ago. SuSE is Europe's largest Linux vendor, though it
trails
Red Hat in the US; I almost installed it myself until I read the company
"goes through CEOs faster than drummers with Spinal Tap". Maybe it will
find the groove now.


The Bounty Hunters Of Redmond

Microsoft is offering rewards for catching virus writers. Bringing the
head
in to their corporate offices is not required, or even encouraged, and in
fact the reward is not that easy to achieve by its terms: up to $250,000
for
evidence leading to the *capture and conviction* of the *original
authors*
of MSBlast and SoBig, with a total pot of five million in the program.
Some
cynics suggest MS might better spend the money to make its code secure;
but
the company calls that criticism "unfair", saying it already spends on
that
and a variety of approaches is useful. One analyst thinks "It will
probably
be easier to get a $250,000 reward than to break into some company's
network." I wonder.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 132 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sat, Nov  8, 2003 (18:29) * 18 lines 
 

Stick It In Your Ear

From the BBC at
comes
news of a new Japanese cell phone. A wristband functions as a
microphone,
and also as a transducer that will "convert the sounds of conversation to
vibrations that can be heard when the finger is placed in the ear". The
Finger Whisper phone from NTT DoCoMo is dialed by speaking the number
into
the wristband; you answer incoming calls by placing your forefinger and
thumb together and jamming your finger in your ear; you hang up by
placing
forefinger and thumb together again. No date has been set for commercial
availability of the unit, which is probably not for drivers or those who
make a lot of hand gestures while they talk.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 133 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Nov 10, 2003 (11:27) * 34 lines 
 
ronks:

Grid Wars

According to a story in today's paper, while the US is most often the
catalyst and the initial innovator in a new technology, Europe is
frequently
in a better position to take advantage of it for two reasons, both
related
to the greater role of government there. Europe is said more likely to
have
a common mandated computing or communications standard, and the
authorities
there take a more active part in bringing new ideas to market. Sometimes
this can backfire: the article says "Europe's telecom companies have
wasted
tens of billions of dollars" on third-generation cell phone services that
nobody seems to want. In networked supercomputing, which depends less on
the fickle public, the Old Country seems to be more successful;
businesses
like Switzerland's Novartis use their own office PCs (and American
software)
to sift for promising pharmaceutical compounds, and the EU has initiated
two
big grid-computing science projects to start next year. The goal of the
"Enabling Grids for E-Science in Europe" is to link PCs into a 24-hour
computing network for universities and research consortia, while France's
National Center for Scientific Research is building an optical net to
join
seven supercomputers into effectively one. American scientists have
applied
to use the E-Science grid, but Europe in turn says it wants some NSF
money
if it is to share the benefits with its new-world colleagues.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 134 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Dec 18, 2003 (10:16) * 500 lines 
 
Once again, a big thanks is owed to Ron Sipherd (ronks@well.com) for his
brilliant and timely observations on the tech business scene. We are
privileged that he allows us to republish these comments. Another big
thanks, Ron!


Just Want Somebody To Sue

The SCO Group just gave $1 million cash and 400,000 shares of itself to
its
law firm Boies Schiller & Flexner; in return, David Boies promised to sue
somebody, saying that within the next three months "we will identify a
defendant" who uses Linux and hasn't caved in to SCO's license demands.
SCO's suit against IBM is set to begin next March in Utah, and the
company's
CEO Darl McBride "predicted that the current General Public License that
accompanies some open source software would not survive".



The Itanium Jubilee?

Intel's president Paul Otellini says "I'm going to declare this the year
of
Itanium" in a presidential proclamation honoring his company's two year
old
64-bit CPU chip. So far it looks more like the winter of his discontent;
while he expects to see 100,000 units shipped this year, analysts think
it
will take at least till 2006 for the architecture to become popular,
since
it requires special programming to take advantage of its new features.
Intel's rival AMD offers a "more evolutionary" 64-bit chip that is
reported
to work better on today's 32-bit apps as well as providing an easier
migration path for developers. Intel has prototyped such a chip itself
according to industry reports; it's called the Yamhill, but the company
is
vacillating on whether to introduce it. Either they don't want to
cannibalize sales of the Itanium, or the challenge of selling a new high-
speed processor named after a pile of sweet potatoes is too much for
them.


YAPS

Yet another patent suit: AT&T filed against EBay over claimed ownership
rights to the business process of secure Internet payments used by EBay
subsidiary PayPal.


Today Is T-Day

No, not turkey day; that's Thursday. This is "Transfer Your Wireless
Service Without Changing Numbers" day, but TYWSWCN sounds like an obscure
Welsh village, perhaps near Llareggub. The consequence of the
long-delayed
event is expected to hasten the shakeout and kill off one or more of the
six
major wireless providers (Verizon, Cingular, AT&T, Sprint, Nextel, and T-
Mobile in decreasing order of size) as the friction of changing is
reduced.
The article on today's event suggests "tens of millions of consumers are
expected to switch companies"; it says Verizon's reputation is for
quality,
but if that becomes more uniform across carriers, the price advantage of
Cingular and T-Mobile may give them an edge if they have the deep pockets
to
last out the storm. The business is already cutthroat: with 70% of US
adults
owning a cell phone, there's not much room for growth except by stealing
rivals' subscribers. A loss of 25-30% of a company's base in a year is
typical and would be fatal did they not do unto their competitors as
well.


Machine Poems

Ray Kurzweil, who created a melody-composing computer program when he was
16
and went on to other more practical ventures like text-to-speech and
speech-
to-text software (not to be used together, of course), is up to his old
ways. An article on his latest venture notes, "Were he not such a
successful
entrepreneur, Mr. Kurzweil might be considered something of a crackpot".
Anyway he has received patent number 6,647,395 for a "cybernetic poet"
capable of producing lines like
Sashay down the page
through the lioness
nestled in my soul.
Yes; well anyway, perhaps in defense of his creation Mr. K belittles
other
similar software as the poetic equivalent of Mad-Libs. Poetry thrash! A
free version of the software suitable for open-mike nights is available
at
www.kurzweilcyberart.com; a "deluxe" version, no doubt capable of tossing
off dactylic hexameter, anapests, trochees, and casual references to the
wine-dark sea, is $29.95.


SpamCop - And Robbers

IronPort Systems in Silicon Valley makes "a specialized computer with the
reputation as the fastest way to send millions of junk e-mail messages";
they are known as spam cannons according to the ePrivacy Group. But
times
change and that business, though lucrative, doesn't do much for one's
reputation as a good Internet citizen; also, there is probably money to
be
made on the other side of the street with the white hats. Last July,
IronPort bought SpamCop, a service that publishes a list of spam senders;
they didn't admit the purchase until this month in response to queries
from
reporters who found out elsewhere. Of course if they were to cripple
SpamCop or retool it to let favored clients have a free pass they could
make
profits from both sides of the battle, but they say they do "not plan to
water down SpamCop's current service". What, never? No, never. What,
never?
Well, yes a little actually; IronPort has opened a line of business
called
Bonded Sender for spammers who "promise to send messages only to people
who
request them". Such customers will go on a SpamCop white list and will
not
be blocked. Of course none of these customers would ever bury the
"agreement" in tiny white letters on a white background. What, never?
Etc.




This just in, from the BBC at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/africa/3241710.stm

"Nigeria is to launch an inquiry into internet fraud ... The "419"
swindle -
named after the penal code that outlaws it - will be targeted in
particular.
In the scam, people overseas are promised a share of non-existent riches
in
return for details of their bank account - which is then emptied. ... The
419 scam has been so successful in the past 20 years that experts say it
is
now the third to fifth largest foreign exchange earner in Nigeria. But
...
the government is keen to stamp out the fraud as it is giving Nigeria a
bad
name."


http://www.419eater.com/index.htm they made my day!


Something New To Worry About

Now that we're done being thankful, let's get back to our normal state of
anxiety with a story on cell-phone viruses. This is almost as good as my
all-time favorite, deadly invisible odorless radon gas seeping up out of
the
ground in your basement while you sleep, but we'll take what we can get.
Anyway, the Japanese phone company NTT DoCoMo reports customers have
received messages that caused their phones to freeze up and dial 110,
Japan's equivalent to the 911 emergency number. Since the first
complaints
came in, NTT has installed central office filters that now block 55
percent
of incoming text messages, and another 26% are blocked by filters
installed
in the users' handsets.


Chip Sales Up

October semiconductor sales rose over 23 percent from the previous year,
and
2003 is up 16% from this point in 2002. Primary factors are global PC
sales
and strong growth in cell phone purchases in China, with about 5 million
new
subscribers added a month.


Longhorn For Sale

Although not supposed to be released until 2005 or later, the next
release
of Windows (code-named Longhorn) can be purchased for 5 ringgit (about a
dollar fifty) in Malaysia software souks. Don't count on MS support,
however - as if you ever could, eh? Anyway, the CDs are believed to be a
beta version distributed to programmers at an LA conference in October.



Google As Equalizer

A story in today's paper discusses gains that small merchants and even
SOHO
entrepreneurs are making via use of search engines, auction sites, and
Web
portals. Unlike earlier Internet commerce efforts that made a big splash
when they opened and another when they failed, these guys had "no venture
capital to blow through" so they started at a level they could handle -
what
a concept - with a few EBay offerings, a virtual store on Yahoo, or a
sponsored listing on Google. Unlike expensive banner ads and popups,
Google
and Overture search sites charge per search term, which puts small
targeted
vendors at an advantage over say Wal-Mart which offers zillions of types
of
merchandise. It seems to be working: the owner of a family-run New
England
hardware store chain that bought Google placement for "Christmas light
sets"
says "Instead of us chasing customers around, on search engines the
customers chase us around". Visa reports that for the post-Thanksgiving
week just ended, online sales rose 47 percent from last year while
in-store
sales were up just 9%.


HP, As In Hit Parade

Hewlett Packard has definitely come out of the garage, unless you count
garage bands. Bye-bye oscilloscopes, hello "Hewlett-branded online music
store" which the company is expected to open next month along with the
announcement of an HP digital music player.


Names In The News

OK, this is not strictly biztech but I was surprised to see the name of
Michael G. Tyson prominently featured on the stock page next to the S&P
500
and NYSE reports. Mr. Tyson, who is or was a pugilist of note, gets
nearly
a quarter page; unfortunately he heads the bill as "Debtor" in a
tombstone
ad published by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern
District
of New York. I don't think I ever saw his middle initial before.


Microsoft Claims To Unclench A Bit

Frequently accused in the US and Europe of blocking rivals from accessing
its technology and preventing competitors' products from inter-operating
with its own, even to the point of violating the weak settlement terms
that
ended the US antitrust suit, Microsoft announced "a more liberal policy"
of
licensing patents and copyrights. They say some will be let out free of
royalties to industry standards groups in areas like Web services and
machine-to-machine communications; others will be made available for a
fee.
Examples of the latter are ClearType, a technology for displaying text on
LCD screens, and the File Allocation Table (FAT) protocol for disk file
storage. Actually FAT is so old I suspect the core patents have already
expired, but MS hopes to see it used in digital cameras and other
hardware
where it does not presently dominate.



On Hold

The FCC has asked AT&T Wireless to explain delays of over a week in some
cases handling the transfer of numbers for customers who switch
cell-phone
service providers. The apparent cause is breakdowns in automation of the
turnover: the customer's name, address, Social Security number, and other
data must match between the from and to companies for the process to
work,
and AT&T's end has failed about three out of five times for the hundreds
of
thousands of transfers. When that happens the two companies must
manually
walk through the records, which is said to take days. (Though the idea
of
two phone company reps waiting for hours on hold is kind of delicious.)
While AT&T is far from alone in the problem, its handling seems to be the
worst of the major carriers, perhaps because it uses a different transfer
agent from the others. If it's any comfort, the other companies fail
about
half the time, and AT&T is as bad at handling incoming customers as
outgoing
ones, though it's reported they're losing more than the other carriers.

Topic 158 [biztech]: In the news for 2003
#755 of 764: Busy Techie (ronks) Mon Dec 8 '03 (10:12) 50 lines


World vs. USA Yet Again

The United Nations has created a working group to study Internet
governance,
with an eye to putting it more under global management; it is to report
its
findings in 2005. According to the BBC, "developing nations had been
pushing
for the UN to have a far greater role in the regulation of the net, while
western countries opposed handing over control to an international
agency."
The NY Times has a similar story, noting that while Web users in China
are
expected to constitute over half of the world total in four years, the
entire country has fewer IP addresses than MIT.


Viruses For Fun And Profit

"At least a third of all spam circulating on the Internet is now sent
from
or relayed by personal computers that have been taken over" and used in a
Kazaa-like peer network that both expands the originator's capacity and
shields his identity, according to an exec at anti-virus firm Sophos.
Trojan
horse programs like "Sinit" seen in the last three months create rings of
zombie PCs to send spam and bogus credit-card number requests. Hacker
Web
sites like Carder Planet reportedly carry ads for "remote administrators"
or
"radmins" who offer the services of their controlled systems.


After Wi-Fi, What?

OK, so Starbucks now has 2600 out of its 4100 outlets equipped with
wireless
hot spots; but who doesn't anymore? With cities, non-profit groups, and
merchants' associations offering free access to draw customers, you need
something more, they reason. Besides coffee, that is. So Starbucks,
McDonald's, and Schlotsky's Deli (a chain) are starting to offer new
bonus
items like free streaming blues, holiday stories, an interview with
Sheryl
Crow, and the like. A Starbucks rep suggests it may keep customers in
the
store long enough to buy a second cuppa.


Web Site Of The Week

Mr. Picasso Head may not be ignored. The site www.mrpicassohead.com is
the
product of Ruder Finn, a Manhattan PR firm; visitors may select facial
features from a variety of Cubist and Blue Period works for assembly into
a
portrait of sorts, or a landscape of noses if you like that sort of
thing,
and have it displayed in an online gallery; though it will take some
effort
to stand out from the 40,000 already there. The firm's chief creative
officer says he got the idea from his 3-year old son. Inasmuch as this
is a
Business & Technology topic, it would be remiss of me not to drag in some
vague relation to business, however remote; the exec says it demonstrates
"the power of viral marketing"; i.e., word-of-mouth, even off to the
opposite side from the eyes. Think expressionist Fotolog.



VoIP Set To Explode?

Telephone call services that use the Internet, called VoIP for "voice
over
Internet Protocol" and rhymed with er, ah, xoip and qoip are poised for
dramatic near-term growth. British Telecom plans to offer it to
customers
there, Time Warner Cable to its cable TV subscribers, and now AT&T has
jumped in with plans for cheap unlimited local and long-distance calling.
All of the services require an underlying high speed Internet connection,
whether cable or DSL. At stake are "tens of billions of dollars in fees
and
taxes now paid" to phone companies for the use of their network which at
present do not mandate fixed charges for data traffic (which is how VoIP
is
presently classed) as they do for circuit-switched voice calls. Needless
to
say, federal and state governments and local phone companies are the
losers
and may have something to say about that, but for now AT&T sees a savings
of
$11 billion a year; its CEO calls VoIP "the most significant fundamental
new
technology shift in telecommunications in decades". Besides the
regulatory
savings which could be undone, there are said to be genuine economies in
treating voice calls as packet-switched data transfers: installation and
operation are less costly, and users could employ computers to, say, not
allow incoming calls after bedtime (or disable the ringer and route the
message to a recorder), to forward calls to a cell phone, and to filter
incoming calls like e-mail with whitelists and blacklists. On the other
hand, VoIP is more subject to power outages and at present is considered
less reliable in real time during periods of Internet congestion (though
that can be a problem at present: think of Mother's Day). AT&T estimates
that 23 million US households already have cable or DSL and would be
eligible for their service, expected to run about $35-40 a month compared
with $50-70 for regular unlimited calling plans.


Which Paradigm D'Ya Like?

The US telephone system is closely regulated, in the past due to AT&T
monopoly domination, but today for the purpose of keeping phone service
both
affordable and accessible to low-income and rural users who are in effect
partly subsidized by city and corporate customers. The US Internet
structure is "essentially unregulated" out of concerns that the new
technology will best develop without government interference. With the
recent decision of AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and others to offer voice
call
service to millions of broadband users, the worlds have collided.
Michael
Powell, son of Colin Powell and FCC chair, believes "there is no
functional
or technical difference between an Internet phone call and other data"
and
therefore Internet voice service (VoIP) should be left alone. Consumers
Union and other groups believe there's no functional or technical
difference
between an Internet phone call and other phone calls: they both involve
somebody talking at each end and they are both carried over the same
network
paths for most of the way. CU and its allies also concerned that free
competition could lead to the sort of thing that airline and energy
deregulation have produced, in the form of a small number of providers
charging as much as they can and ignoring low-margin accounts. A third
view
is expressed by Cox Communications, who suggests the degree of regulation
should vary by market share, with large providers heavily overseen and
smaller ones like, er, Cox Communications left alone. Analysts see an
element of self-interest there and that plan is unlikely to go far, but
battle lines are being drawn between proponents of the other two.


UN Voices Ineffectual Support For Poor

This is news? Well it's recent anyway: a conference in Geneva on the
governance of the Internet fought to a standstill between industrialized
nations who "feared that developing nations would vote for the UN to take
administrative control of the Internet and call for a new pool of money
[to
be provided by guess who] to help poorer countries go online", and third
world countries who wanted the UN to take administrative etc. The
result?
Why of course they formed a committee to study the issues, which made the
delegates happy and insured they would all be able to get together again
in
fancy Swiss hotels for many fine lunches and dinners into the indefinite
future. Besides the menus, one of the "working groups" will study
"whether
to introduce more international oversight" of the Internet's
administration,
and another will "review ways of paying for efforts to connect the
world's
poor to the Internet". The Geneva group also bravely voted in favor of
"intellectual property rights as well as human rights and media freedom".
Adding to the farce, Robert Mugabe lectured the delegates on human rights
for an afternoon. However, the meeting was not a total loss since it
produced the


Quote Of The Day

"Unlike the French Revolution, the Internet revolution has lots of
liberty,
some fraternity and no equality."

- Shashi Tharoor, UN under-secretary for communications



Just Bought A TV? Don't Read Any Further

Intel is reported set to announce a new line of "advanced semiconductors
that ... will improve the quality of large-screen digital televisions
and
substantially lower their price". The new products "integrate display,
television receiver, and computer electronics on a single piece of
silicon"
and could "lead to lightweight 50-inch TV screens only 7 inches thick for
about $1000." OK, OK, the gnashing of teeth is so loud I'll stop
quoting.
Anyway, chipmakers are looking into consumer electronics for profits as
Moore's Law turns to Moore's Curse with buyers constantly expecting
faster
cheaper computers, and getting them. Intel's work is similar but not
identical to Texas Instruments' development of Digital Light Processing
(DLP) screens; while TI has concentrated on microscopic mirrors, Intel is
focusing ha ha on tiny shutters in a technology known as Liquid Crystal
on
Silicon or LCoS. Intel will probably save its official announcement for
the
Consumer Electronics Show next month, but analysts expect sets using the
chips to be available in time for next Christmas. Of course, by then
there
will probably be some reason to wait for 2005...


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 135 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Dec 18, 2003 (13:19) * 8 lines 
 
David Boies at SCO gets the $mil and 400k shares of SCO. Wonder if this
is the same David Boies who took on Bush and the Supreme Court on behalf
of Al Gore?

With that Kurzweil poetry maker, I can now make the scene at the open
mikes. Harold cohen looks a bit like Allen Ginzberg. He has software to
create art as well.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 136 of 142: nick a'hannay  (pmnh) * Thu, Dec 18, 2003 (22:28) * 10 lines 
 
Sashay down the page
through the lioness
nestled in my soul


think i'm gonna have that printed on
all my stationary...

same david boies
(he gets around)...



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 137 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Dec 19, 2003 (08:50) * 3 lines 
 
Is he a candidate for Saddams' defense attorney?

I think Johnny Cochran is retired.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 138 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Mon, Dec 29, 2003 (17:12) * 81 lines 
 

Format Wars

A new generation of DVD players and disks is on the drawing boards,
driven
by the data demands of moviemakers and high-definition TV. Sony already
has
a model for sale in Japan; at about $3500 US for the recorder and $27 a
disk
it is not surprising they have sold only a few hundred units, even though
the media has about five times more capacity than current models. With
volume production not expected till 2005, a multiplayer standards battle
is
underway like the days of Betamax vs. VHS. Several factors seem to be at
work here; the anointed winner at the DVD Forum's Technical Coordinating
Group will probably be in line to collect major royalties from licensing
the
technology, and it will also be advantageously placed to thwart
competition
from its Chinese / Japanese / Silicon Valley rivals. The antagonists
have
more or less coalesced into two blocs. The NEC-Toshiba side champions
the
HD DVD, which uses mostly existing manufacturing techniques for their
disks.
Arrayed against them are Sony and Matsushita (who owns Panasonic and JVC)
with their "Blu-Ray Group", whose candidate requires expensive new
machinery
to create the disks (which are enclosed in a protective jacket like a
diskette), and whose players need two lenses if they must also read Ye
Olde
DVDs of Yore as well as their native kind. The Blu-Ray specs so far do
not
include read-only disks, only more expensive rewritable ones which
Hollywood
is not at all happy with; moguls want cheap unmodifiable media and are
leaning toward the HD DVD in consequence. Looming over their shoulders
however like Time's winged chariot is the growth of broadband, which
could
end up replacing disks altogether as a means of delivering movies to
homes.


The Rhodes-Jamison Weight-Loss Program

R-J was a large-scale sand and gravel dealer in Berkeley; retail buyers
of
up to a few tons of stuff drove their truck on the scale when they went
in,
and again on leaving to determine how much they just loaded. Yefim
Kriger
of Connecticut received patent 6,649,848 for an intra-vehicle high tech
version of the R-J scale designed to "weigh drivers, track pounds lost or
gained, ad warn them when they overeat". On first entering your new
fatmobile (garaged in the fatcave?) as the driver-on-a-diet, the system
weighs you; it is designed not to be fooled by driving over a hill to
reduce
gravity, and requires the vehicle to be "parked or driving slowly" while
the
driver enters a profile of age, height, gender, and other data (more on
that
later). It continues to monitor changes to make the profile more
reliable,
and after it thinks it knows you well enough it responds to extra weight
in
the seat by (I am not making this up) "asking for information about shoes
and clothes in an effort to account for the weight of the attire." If
you
don't come up with a credible story about heavy boots or an infant in
your
lap, the display screen issues a warning and brings up "a list of diet
and
exercise programs"; it can even - get this - use the car's cell phone to
telephone or e-mail your doctor to snitch, if you have been so incautious
as
to enter the contact info. I suspect this gizmo will not be part of many
people's New Year's resolutions.


And another thanks goes to Ron Sipherd (mailto://ronks@well.com) for
providing us with so much great information.


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 139 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Wed, Dec 31, 2003 (17:08) * 56 lines 
 
Ronks the Soothsayer and Future Seer


The Year Ahead

"For I dipp'd into the future, far as human eye could see,
saw the vision of the world and all the wonder that would be";

- thus Tennyson in 1842. With 2004 upon us, here are some predictions
and
quotable punditries.

PC component makers are rushing into the TV business, now that
flat-screen
sets are becoming a larger version of the monitor. Big names like Dell,
Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola, as well as lesser fish like
China's
Konka, BenQ and Sampo of Taiwan, and South Korea's LG are all expected to
offer sets: an analyst at Insight Media opines "you can pretty well
expect
anyone selling PC's appliances or TVs to have an LCD TV within a year."

Cable service providers, long-distance phone companies, and "local" phone
companies are all trying to offer it all at each others' expense, as well
as
Internet access and wireless service. Although bandwidth is
usage-neutral
and frankly becoming something of a commodity, repeated examples have
shown
that customer "churn rates" decline with subscribers who use multiple
services from one source. From the Yankee Group: "Every company is going
to
try to provide every service to every customer."

Venture capitalists; remember them? They're baaaack, though in a small
way;
money raised by VC firms in this country in the last three quarters
totaled
about $6 billion compared to the champion $76 billion raised
3Q1999-1Q2000.
Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future observes "the turtle is
cautiously poking its head out of its shell, but it's still protecting
its
vital organs". [Which evidently does not include its brain.]

Other stuff to come: this may really be the year that 3G (3rd-generation)
cell-phone service takes off, though that's been predicted about as
regularly as the Year of ISDN. Software companies will continue to mate
and
merge whatever becomes of the Oracle-PeopleSoft bid. And for biometric
ID,
good old fingerprints are expected to gain in the marketplace over newer
fads like iris and face scans and silly-walk analysis, er "gait
patterns".




 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 140 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Mar 11, 2004 (09:08) * 18 lines 
 
Who Owns Ya, Baby?

That nervy orphan may have to move over for a new definition of chutzpah.
Pentax Camera has taken out multi-page newspaper ads proclaiming itself
"The Official Digital Camera Of The Internet" (TM). Canon, Olympus, and
Sony are specifically declared ineligible for the title, which is "a
trademark of Pentax USA". The copy declares the company's products are
"recognized" as the ODCotI on account of their "greatness", but never
says
by who exactly; presumably the entire world, minus those three losers.
This self-declaration could lead to some interesting imitators; imagine
the
official coffee drink, or lip balm, or paint thinner of the Internet. Or
"the title of Official Ocean of the Internet, formerly the Atlantic, has
just been outsourced to - of course - the Indian Ocean."


Tanks ronks


 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 141 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Mar 18, 2004 (16:07) * 54 lines 
 
Ronks Rocks, of course. Thanks again Ron Sipherd, at the WELL

Taking The Heat

Diamonds' crystal structure resembles silicon's sufficiently that they are
candidates for use as semiconductors. Very pretty, expensive semiconductors,
but still. They do have some practical advantages such as being able to
operate at temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, 800 degrees above
where silicon stops functioning. Recent developments in growing industrial
diamond crystals with vapor deposition suggest they may be practical in
time. They've been grown from seed crystals in a methane-hydrogen mix in
sizes up to 1/5 inch thick by 2/5 inch wide. Their depth? Sorry, the
article doesn't say. Anyway, two types are needed as with silicon: positive
and negative, to use the shorthand. P-types have been fairly easy to make
so far using boron, but n-types have proved much more difficult to fabricate
though recent lab tests with phosphorus doping and boron-deuterium show it's
possible.


CA Bond Rating Lowered

Moody's has declared Computer Associates debt to be junk-bond level, in view
of questions regarding its accounting practices. Its short-term commercial
paper was also lowered to "Not Prime".


The Matrix Retreated

An article in today's paper by covers the declining fortunes of the
Matrix or "Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange", a program
developed by Florida company Seisint which received $12 million from the US
Homeland Security Department to build a mega-database of everybody's
personal information for use by law enforcement. All (Federal and
participating state) government-held and publicly available data about
individuals, drawn from criminal records, vehicle registrations, real estate
transaction, drivers' licenses, credit bureaus, and so on is to be fed into
the computer for retrieval in the event of suspected anti-social activity.
At one time, up to 16 states had joined the jihad er program to monitor
everything known about everyone; but after its auspicious rollout, some
began to have reservations about the privacy implications of the thing and
now all but five states have withdrawn their support and declined to provide
information to it. With New York and Wisconsin bailing out last week, that
leaves only its home state Florida plus Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, and
Pennsylvania. Many critics see Matrix as an end run around the killing off
of the Bush administration's unpopular Total Information Awareness
initiative; as the article colorfully puts it, "opponents of the Pentagon
program regarded the development of Matrix as a sign that the bubble was
simply moving under the wallpaper". Matrix was perhaps not helped by the
discovery that the founder of Seisint, Hank Asher, "was involved in the
1980's with a group of cocaine smugglers". As states drop the project over
concerns of misuse, supporters are reduced to arguments like this from Mark
Zadra, Florida's Chief of Investigations: "It really comes down to trust. Do
you trust law enforcement to do what is right?" Oh hahahahahaha.



 Topic 80 of 96 [news]: In the news of business and technology
 Response 142 of 142: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Sun, Jun 13, 2004 (04:29) * 3 lines 
 
Microsoft building China beach head

June 21 issue - Microsoft's largest beachhead outside the United States is in the state most hostile to it: the People's Republic of China. Since arriving in Beijing in 1990, the Gates empire has assembled a network of business ...

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