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Week of April 15, 2001 News Archive

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Monday April 16, 2001 Top

Redhat Releases Version 7.1 of Red Hat Linux

Red Hat introduced a new version of its take on the Linux operating system aimed at improving multiprocessor performance and keeping out bugs. Red Hat Linux 7.1, released for downloading Monday, is based on the latest kernel, or essential core, of the Linux operating system. Kernel 2.4 came out in January and is just now being adopted for commercial use. Red Hat Linux 7.1 is designed to run on servers containing up to eight Intel processors, said a company representative. Red Hat Linux 7.0, which came out last September and was not based on an older kernel, could run on eight-processor servers but performed far better on boxes containing four or fewer processors, she said. Red Hat Linux 7.1 also permits each server to handle up to 4GB of memory, far more than previous versions. Although many of the improvements center on the server market, Red Hat 7.1 also contains improvements for the desktop. The graphical interface has been improved, and the new software allows devices to be plugged in through a USB port while the PC is running.

The new OS can provide better protection against attacks from viruses such as the Ramen worm through Red Hat's Software Manager subscription service, the company said. Through Software Manager, Red Hat automatically notifies customers of updates, patches or software bugs and can install any necessary fixes. The service works as a potential bug guard because customers often fail to install antivirus and security software. A patch to guard against the Ramen worm, for instance, existed six months before publicized outbreaks. Subscription services are also one of the tools Red Hat believes will be instrumental to its future. Since Linux software can be downloaded for free, Red Hat and other open-source companies believe their revenue will largely derive from consulting, support and other services.

Visioneer Takes Lead in Scanner Sales, HP Having Problems

"One of the reasons HP's inventory is building up is that they're getting their butts kicked by the new Visioneer PrimaScan Colorado 2400U," Koenig said. "This scanner gives consumers a lot of functionality for a little price." A removable lid for scanning books, a good software bundle and excellent resolution for the money make the Colorado scanner "a solid solution for the price," Koenig said. The Colorado sells for an average price of $58. Typically, these features would cost $40 more from competitors, he said. "Visioneer seems like they're focused on the low end of the scanner market, whereas HP is all over the place," said ARS analyst Duane Smith. "HP lately seems to be pushing all-in-one" machines that combine fax, scanner and printer functions. Overall, the retail scanner market in February grew 11 percent year-over-year. Interestingly, HP sales were consistent with the overall industry, with year-over-year sales growth of about 10 percent.

But Visioneer's sales surged a whooping 250 percent, contributing to Canon's 56-percent retail drop. Year to date, retail scanner sales growth is about 5 percent, according to NPD Intelect. Canon year-to-date retail scanner sales fell 36 percent, HP rose 23 percent, and Visioneer shot up 92 percent. In February Visioneer had 46 percent of the retail scanner market, up from 15 percent a year earlier, according to NPD Intelect. HP had about 29 percent market share, nearly level with February 2000. Third-ranked Canon had 9 percent share, down dramatically from 22 percent a year earlier. "In terms of market share, Visioneer clearly is soaking it up," Koenig said. "Visioneer were the first ones to really push the one-touch button for scanning, which has been hugely popular," Smith said, adding that the digital camera memory-card readers Visioneer has added to some scanners have also been popular with consumers.

Microsoft's Whistler Second Beta Includes New Administration Tools

Microsoft, claiming to have learned from past mistakes, has added a number of features to the second beta of its upcoming Whistler server operating system that it says will make deployment easier, especially for Active Directory--the crown jewel of the server suite. In the second Whistler server beta, sent recently to testers, much attention was given to improving the deployment of Active Directory (or AD), which allows administrators to more easily manage resources on a corporate network and speed up the handling of security access, Thompson said. Documentation shipped with Beta 2 details a number of enhancements around AD, including DNS configuration enhancements to its installation wizard. "This feature is designed to simplify debugging and reporting of an incorrect DNS configuration and help properly configure the DNS infrastructure required for Active Directory deployment," the document states.

Beta 2 also includes several enhancements to the LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) client and server implementation, including support for dynamic entries, Transport Layer Security, Virtual List Views and Dynamic Auxiliary classes, Microsoft said. Microsoft is also providing experts to help with AD deployment design reviews and will be stepping up special training for a broader set of partners and consultants, both inside and outside the company, over the next three months. In addition, Microsoft has spent a lot of time talking to customers to escalate the next level of deployments and has added features to Whistler to help make deployment "easier, more secure and more flexible in a broad range of scenarios," Thompson said.

New Technology Works To Improve Streaming Media

Hampering these events has been the difficulty of figuring out just how much infrastructure is needed to support the number of expected viewers. More viewers mean more physical pieces of computer equipment, or streaming media "servers," dedicated to the task. If these servers are overtaxed, the streams are unavailable or of poor quality. Digital Fountain's technology addresses this problem. The company has discovered a new way of encoding video and audio files that allows each piece of equipment to serve far more people and makes the individual streams far more stable. Ordinary Web streaming chops a file into tiny pieces, or packets , that it then sends one by one to a computer on the other end of the Internet connection. To display a video, an individual computer has to receive these packets in the right order and put them back together as though it were filling in a jigsaw puzzle. If one or several goes missing, a common occurrence on the Net, then the computer has to ask the server to retransmit it, a big cause of the jerky images familiar to anyone who has used video online.

Digital Fountain's technology instead uses something called "meta-content." The files are still broken into packets, but each packet contains identical instructions for reconstituting the entire file, rather than just puzzle pieces. The receiving computer needs only a minimum number of these packets, in any order, to show the file. Digital Fountain will have considerable hurdles to adoption by mainstream companies, however. Its servers require a steep initial investment--about $40,000--for the first product, which will theoretically do the job of about 30 ordinary servers. Moreover, the company's [Swimming with sharks] technology requires individual viewers to download new software that pieces together the new kind of data, even though it supports ordinary streaming formats such as RealNetworks' and Microsoft's Windows Media. Analysts say consumers have been loath to take this step, and companies seeking a wide audience have been reticent to adopt technologies that can be used only if each customer jumps though certain hoops.

Official OS X Update is Released

The official release of the update, a collection of bug fixes and minor new features, arrives two weeks after a pirated version of the update appeared on the Web. The update follows the release of Apple's latest Mac operating system by about three weeks. The update improves USB connectivity, boosts the stability of older software applications and fixes minor glitches, according to Apple's Web site. It also puts Mac OS X through a "system optimization" procedure that can greatly improve performance. Posted Friday, Apple's update raises Mac OS X to version 10.0.1 and Build 4L13. People who downloaded the leaked update, or Build 4L5, must delete the file "10.0.1Update.pkg" from the Receipts folder found in Library before Mac OS X will download and apply the fix. The update does not deliver CD-rewritable capability, something Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the company would provide by the end of April. In a controversial move, Apple shipped Mac OS X without support for CD-RW, DVD playback and DVD recording--all features touted in either current or past promotional campaigns.

Tuesday April 17, 2001 Top

Simple Attack Could Knock Out Microsoft Server Software

A Microsoft Windows 2000 server software package can be crashed by sending it a comparatively simple request for a Web page, a security firm has discovered. SecureXpert Labs reported the vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Security and Accelerator (ISA ) software, which is used to protect internal networks from outside attackers and to bridge internal networks with the public Internet. Microsoft acknowledged the problem Monday and issued a patch. An attacker can take advantage of the vulnerability by sending the server a request to view a Web page with an unusually large address--for example, one with the letter A repeated 3,000 times, SecureXpert Labs said. Sending such a request will prevent the ISA software from letting computers inside its network view outside Web pages or letting outside computers view inside pages. While the vulnerability wouldn't permit an attacker to take over a company's server, it could be used to make a Web page inaccessible to the public, Microsoft said. In the array of possible methods to attack a server, this type is very simple and easily launched.

Intel Announces Weak Earnings, Plans For This Year Detailed

In its worst quarter in years, Intel on Tuesday edged past lowered earnings expectations for the first quarter but said it's still going to be a tough year. The Santa Clara, Calif., chipmaker reported earnings excluding one-time costs of $1.1 billion, or 16 cents a share, for the first quarter. Revenue came to $6.7 billion. Analysts polled by First Call expected earnings to come in at 15 cents a share on $6.5 billion in revenue. The figures, however, pale in comparison to Intel's results for the same period last year and even last quarter. Net income for the first quarter of 2000 came in at $3 billion, 64 percent higher. Revenue stood at $8 billion, about 16 percent higher.

Compounding the anemic demand, Intel is also in the midst of a difficult product transition. By the end of the year, the company hopes the Pentium 4 will replace the Pentium III, still its biggest seller, on most corporate and consumer desktops. Unfortunately for Intel, the Pentium 4 is more than twice as large as the Pentium III and costs a lot more to make. The cost won't go down until the fourth quarter, when Intel shrinks the size of the chip by switching to a 0.13-micron manufacturing process. Earlier, the transition was expected in the third quarter. In addition, the Pentium 4 still only works with Rambus memory. For Intel, that's bad news because it continues to offer PC makers rebates for each Pentium 4 PC sold with Rambus memory. Chipsets from third-party manufacturers and Intel will emerge later this year that will let PC makers marry the chip to cheaper standard memory.

MPAA Using To Legal Strength To Stop Moving Trading On Gnutella

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA ) has sent hundreds of letters to major Internet service providers and universities, warning them that some people on their networks are violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by trading copyrighted movies through Gnutella. Some of the universities that have been targeted in the MPAA's investigation include Harvard University and the University of Connecticut. Meanwhile, ISP Excite@Home has sent out about 20 e-mails and letters over the past four days telling Gnutella users their services will be terminated within 24 hours if their alleged movie sharing continues. The MPAA already has aggressively--and successfully--sued several companies, accusing them of aiding copyright infringement by allowing people to record and trade copyrighted content. They include Scour, and But until now, Gnutella systems have flown below the legal radar screen of many copyright holders, partly because it's so difficult to track infringement on systems that lack central servers. Harris Schwartz, Excite@Home's senior manager of network policy management, said the MPAA contacted the company and met its standards for notifying customers. "We're pretty strict about them providing us evidence," Schwartz said. He added that his company has received notices in the past from the entertainment industry, requesting that it help warn abusers of other networks. "Gnutella is kind of the next thing," he said.

Rivalry In The Linux Business Continues To Grow

VA Linux Systems has lured a prominent programmer away from rival Linuxcare, while releasing a new higher-capacity storage server. VA hired Andrew Tridgell, one of the lead programmers creating the Samba software that lets a Linux computer share files on a Windows network. The software is a key part of products from VA and numerous other companies trying to grab a share of the money spent on special-purpose storage devices such as NAS (network-attached storage) machines. At VA, Tridgell joins Jeremy Allison, another top Samba programmer, who has done stints at high-end hardware maker SGI and Cygnus Solutions, now a part of Linux company Red Hat. Troubled Linuxcare merged with Turbolinux in February. Caldera Systems lured another Samba guru, John Terpstra, from Turbolinux in November.

Wednesday April 18, 2001 Top

Intel Previews Pentium 4 Based Xeon Processors

Intel will show off Foster, the Pentium 4 chip designed for workstations and servers, for the first time next week at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker will demonstrate two-processor workstations running the new chip, which will hit the market commercially later this quarter, a company representative said. Foster will be the first member of the Xeon chip family to be based on the Pentium 4. Current Xeons are based on the Pentium III. The chip will clock in at 1.4GHz or faster and, like other Xeon chips, will feature some enhancements for the workstation market. Workstations featuring the chip will also contain Intel's 860 chipset and Rambus memory. A 1GHz Pentium III Xeon, for instance, sells for $425 each in quantities of 1,000. By contrast, a standard 1GHz Pentium III sells for $225. Functionally, however, the two chips aren't radically different and cost about the same to produce, analysts have noted. Some Xeon chips for servers contain more cache memory than their desktop equivalents, but these cost even more. Intel also faces almost no competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices in the workstation and server market, although this could begin to change toward the end of the year, when AMD comes out with Athlon chips for servers and workstations.

Microsoft Explains Why There Be No USB 2.0 Support in Windows XP

For the past year and a half or so, Intel has been pushed USB 2.0 as the future for peripherals and high-speed devices such as video cameras and storage, hoping it would relegate standards such as IEEE 1394 (also known as FireWire) to consumer electronics. But USB 2.0 devices have taken longer to appear than planned, and last week the standard took a further knock when it came to light that Microsoft will not support it in Windows XP--at least not at launch. Since the new Windows--designed to bring Microsoft's consumer and business operating systems together--won't appear until the second half of the year, native USB 2.0 support would seem to be some time away. Microsoft said the reason is that the standard isn't yet up to scratch, while FireWire devices (which will be supported) have been on the market for years. "It's simply a timing question in terms of support for USB 2.0," a Microsoft spokeswoman said. "There hasn't been a sufficient array of production-quality products for testing."

AOL Faces Major Suit Over MP3 Decoder Technology

Closely held Playmedia Systems says AOL Time Warner uses the software in America Online 6.0 for Windows, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Playmedia is seeking a court order to stop AOL's use of the allegedly infringing software, as well as damages in excess of $47 million. Playmedia filed a similar complaint in March 1999 against Nullsoft, whose Winamp MP3 player allegedly infringed Playmedia's AMP MP3 decoder. Nullsoft two months later agreed to pay a licensing fee, ending the litigation. That same month, AOL purchased Nullsoft for about $90 million in stock, the suit said. Playmedia contends the Nullsoft license to the old AMP code, which was limited to use in Winamp, does not cover AOL's current use of the software in 6.0. AOL Time Warner spokesman Nicholas Graham said the company cannot immediately comment because it has not yet seen the lawsuit. Los Angeles-based Playmedia says the infringement has cost it at least $47 million in actual damages, and it seeks additional, unspecified monetary damages.

AMD Sees Continued Slowness in The PC Sector

AMD finished its first quarter with a good position in the PC market, analysts said. The chipmaker was able to keep inventories from ballooning and at the same time improve its market share. AMD's share of the PC processor market rose from 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2000 to 21 percent in the first quarter of 2001, according to preliminary numbers released by Mercury Research. Intel's share, on the other hand, fell from 81 percent in the fourth quarter to 77 percent in the first quarter, according to the preliminary numbers. While only four points, it was the largest jump in market share AMD has seen since it launched its Athlon processor in 1999. At that time, AMD jumped from 12 percent to 16 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 1999. It took the company five more quarters to move from 16 percent to 17 percent, according to Mercury.

"AMD, we don't think, suffered any decline in unit shipments," said Dean McCarron, principal researcher at Mercury. Meanwhile, Intel reported a decline in chip sales for the first quarter. The problem stems mostly from excess inventory in the PC market, one of the chief markets served by AMD, McCarron said. PC makers had "component and also finished product inventories up the wazoo" in the fourth quarter, he said. But sales could rebound in the second quarter. "A lot of the inventory has burned off, so sales are coming back," McCarron said. However, sales are lower overall compared with last year, so "it's not coming back to the same level."

Apple Records Strong Sales in The Second Quarter, Makes A Profit

Buoyed by shipments of new models, Apple Computer reported a fiscal second-quarter profit Wednesday that significantly topped Wall Street estimates. However, Apple also reduced its outlook for the second half of its fiscal year. Excluding a gain and a write-down related to its investment portfolio, Apple earned $40 million, or 11 cents a share, in its second quarter on revenue of $1.43 billion. Although analysts' predictions varied considerably, the consensus estimate was for earnings of 1 cent a share, according to First Call. Revenue was expected to be $1.38 billion for the quarter, which ended March 31. In its second quarter last year, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker earned $233 million, or 64 cents a share, on revenue of $1.95 billion. The quarterly earnings are in sharp contrast to a brutal $247 million operating loss in Apple's fiscal first quarter.

The computer maker said it shipped 751,000 Macintoshes during the quarter. The company added that it reached its goal of having four weeks of inventory in the hands of retailers and distributors, which Apple says is ahead of schedule. Anderson said Apple had previously predicted it might take take a few quarters to reach the four-week level. Anderson characterized Apple's Titanium PowerBook G4 as a hit, saying the company shipped 115,000 of the notebooks in the quarter and expects to reduce its backlog of orders for the sleek portable to a normal level by the end of April. Apple also benefited from falling prices for parts. "Component costs continued to soften during the quarter, and we were able to take advantage of that," Anderson said.

Thursday April 19, 2001 Top

Mandrake Releases Version 8 Of Mandrake Linux

Mandrake has finished version 8 of its edition of Linux, the first from the company to incorporate the new 2.4 version of the kernel , or heart, of the operating system. Though the new version currently is available only for download, retail stores will begin selling it in mid-May, the company announced. The software also includes the new version 4.0.3 of the Xfree86 graphics system and the latest KDE user interface. Mandrake, a French company that lags Red Hat in market share, is striving to convince customers that Linux is good for desktop use as well as for servers, where Linux is an acknowledged power. Red Hat released its version with the 2.4 kernel Monday.

Nvidia and 3DFX Deal Is Finalized

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia announced Thursday the completion of its buyout of most of 3dfx Interactive's assets. According to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia, it paid $55 million in cash to 3dfx for patents, patent applications, trademarks and brand names related to 3dfx's graphics chip business. Subject to certain conditions, Nvidia will also pay 3dfx 1 million shares of Nvidia common stock or a combination of up to $25 million in cash and fewer shares. The close of this deal marks the dismissal of a patent-infringement suit between Nvidia and 3dfx. The sale was initially announced in mid-December.

New Version Of Samba Released, Improves Performance

Programmers have released a major update to Samba, software that lets Linux computers mimic Windows machines, encroaching further onto Microsoft's turf. Samba lets a computer share files or manage print jobs like a Windows file server or print server. Like the Linux operating system on which it often runs, Samba is open-source software collaboratively developed by many people. The new version 2.2 of Samba brings the software up to speed with Windows 2000 changes and adds several other improvements. Jeremy Allison, one of the lead Samba programmers, calls it a "major update" that will help Samba systems slip more smoothly into Microsoft networks. The software offers cost savings not only because customers don't have to pay for the server operating system, but also because they don't have to pay "client" license fees for all the computers that use the server.

One major change to Samba 2.2 is the ability to slip into a Windows 2000 network easily without having to be specially configured, a feature called "single sign-on," Jeremy Allison, one of the lead Samba programmers, said. Another change lets Samba servers automatically send computers the software needed to use a particular printer. HP personnel helped get this feature working, and HP's John Reilly has been named one of about 10 Samba programmers authorized to make changes to the software, Allison said. Samba 2.2 also can act as an "authentication source" for Windows 2000 computers, meaning Windows 2000 machines can be fooled into thinking the server is a Windows server. Writing this authentication feature was a "nightmare" requiring months of work, Allison said. "The main problem is getting something that works without crashing the (Windows) NT/2000 client." Luke Leighton and others working on an alternate version of Samba called Samba TNG discovered the protocol Microsoft uses for the task, Allison said. The new version also works within Microsoft's structure for setting rules on which computers get access to which files on a server.

Rambus-Infineon Trial To Begin

Barring further delays, the trial pitting Rambus and Infineon will begin Friday in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia. Jury selection will begin in the morning in Judge Robert Payne's court. Oral arguments will take place starting Monday afternoon with the introduction of the first evidence the next day. Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus claims that the German memory maker owes it royalties for manufacturing synchronous dynamic RAM, the most common form of memory in PCs today, and double data rate DRAM, a likely successor. Infineon denies the charges. The outcome of the case could have a tremendous impact in the high-tech world. If Rambus wins, the verdict will likely allow it to cement royalty agreements with other manufacturers. If it loses, the value of existing royalty agreements for SDRAM and DDR DRAM with other companies will plummet.

New Intel Software Allows Converts Real World Action Into Data

With partner OradNet, Intel announced the release of a new sports program, called TOPlay , which allows PC users to control their view of a game. One perspective is a ball's-eye view, meaning that viewers can witness the game from the perspective of the ball. The games can be streamed from a Web site over a 56kbps connection, according to Intel spokesman Manny Vara. "The application was created to compensate for low bandwidth and poor resolution so that users can get a good picture of the game," Vara said. As previously reported, the project comes out of Intel's software labs in Oregon. Another piece of software that will hit the market soon is called "ink messaging," which lets people send handwritten notes across instant messaging networks. Asian markets will likely adopt it first, partly because of the difficulty of typing Asian characters, researchers at the company have said. The initial version of the sports program takes live soccer matches and converts the actions, including player and ball movements, into data. The data is then used to create three-dimensional representations of the game. Viewers can zoom in and out of plays, use slow motion for replays and change the perspective so they can watch a game through the eyes of a player--or from the ball's perspective. An entire soccer match takes up about 4MB, Vara said. The audio streams at 5kbps and the video at 25kbps.

Friday April 20, 2001 Top

Best Buy Beginning PC Recycling Program

Electronics retailer Best Buy plans to create a recycling program for old PCs and other electronic goods such as TV sets and VCRs. The Minneapolis-based company will launch the program in several states this summer. Collection will take place during designated weekends. Consumers will have to pay a fee for each discarded item. Best Buy is working to secure partnerships with manufacturers, recyclers and government agencies. Panasonic is the first manufacturer to commit financial support to the program. Recycling of electronics has become a point of contention between industry and government, which is looking for manufacturers to make so-called end-of-life electronics safer and to take responsibility for their proper disposal. The aging equipment is growing in volume and carries materials such as lead and mercury that could pose a threat to the environment and human health if not properly disposed of.

Napster Plans To Begin Identify Songs By Wavelength

Napster is preparing to use stronger measures to block copyrighted songs from its file-swapping network, a move aimed at mollifying its critics as it lays the groundwork for a planned paid version of the service.Napster said Friday that it has licensed acoustic fingerprinting technology from Alexandria, Va.-based Relatable that identifies songs using the wavelength patterns produced by their sounds. It was unclear, however, when the file-swapping company planned to implement filters based on such a system or whether such an approach would satisfy its adversaries. The deal follows renewed threats this month of a court-ordered shutdown of the wildly popular file-swapping network. The company is battling a massive copyright infringement suit against the record industry and has already begun to block some song files from its network. But those efforts, which rely on text-based filters that identify songs by title and artist, have been widely judged a failure.

Relatable's fingerprint technology, called TRM, identifies each song uniquely by comparing acoustic patterns. Since no song sounds exactly alike, the software can assign an identity for every song that it encounters, although it requires a master list for comparison. Theoretically, the technology works like this: If a Napster user tries to download "Hotel California" from another computer's hard drive, the filtering software will know what song it is and whether it can permit the transfer. If the song has been identified by the record industry as a copyrighted work, then it's blocked. The system is considered potentially more effective than text-based filter systems, such as the one currently employed by Napster, which identify songs by file name. Text-based filters are widely used in search engines, but they're not effective in peer-to-peer systems where dozens of file names may represent the same song.

After Napster began text filtering, for example, people began offering tools to change the spellings of popular songs and encrypt titles, making it more difficult to police the network. That's not to say Relatable's system is foolproof. There are still ways of tricking the fingerprinting system, but these methods are more sophisticated than simply misspelling the song's title. Gene Hoffman, chief executive of EMusic, which also uses Relatable products, said someone savvy and malicious enough could trick the software. The compromiser could feed nonsense codes and numbers while the software searches for song identities.

Broadband Prices Will Likely Rise Soon

Higher prices for high-speed Internet access--via DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable--is the natural follow-up to the major industry shakeout of the last year. With much of the competition gone, and with many of the surviving major players carrying huge debt loads and desperate for profits, prices have to rise. The market-share gold rush is over, at least for now. No one has the stomach for more price competition. Carriers will go for profits and try to be the last one standing. The price increase is not confined to North America. We are seeing a strong trend toward higher prices in Europe as well. For instance, DSL price increases of about 30 percent were announced in Sweden two weeks ago. The shakeout has left the entire industry to an oligopoly of large players including the telephone companies, a few large cable operators and, of course, AOL Time Warner. The question is whether this field will act like the airline market--and other markets dominated by a few large players--in which the dominant players tend to raise and lower rates together.

Rates will probably go up 20 percent in most areas, although that will vary depending on the state of local competition. To make the increases more palatable to customers, both the telephone companies with DSL and cable companies will bundle additional services. The cable companies definitely will offer more cable channels--which will cost them virtually nothing extra to transport--to sweeten the deal. It's the standard model: Push up the rate for basic cable service and provide discounts for those willing to add premium services and therefore commit to a larger total monthly fee. The news gets worse. Unless the economy picks up, the telephone companies will be putting further DSL versions on hold. So if you don't have service now, you probably won't see it anytime soon.

Apple Schedules Press Event, Major Announcement Likely

Apple Computer on Friday scheduled a press event for May 1 with CEO Steve Jobs, sparking speculation that he will unveil new Macs or announce plans for retail stores. An Apple representative wouldn't say what will be announced at the event. But sources have told CNET that Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is working on a slimmer version of its iBook consumer notebook. There has also been speculation that Apple will introduce new dual-processor PowerMacs. Both of these products are expected to come no later than July at Macworld Expo in New York, but some sources have said they will come sooner. "Apple CEO Steve Jobs and senior management will make some exciting announcements and host a Q&A," Apple said in its invitation to reporters. Apple press events are relatively infrequent and, in the past, have served as launches for new products. Apple does not comment on its future products. However, Jobs said at Wednesday's annual shareholders meeting that the company will introduce products this year in events other than keynote speeches at industry trade shows. "I think you will see some major products announced this year--not at keynotes," he told shareholders. The company has also been making plans to open a series of retail outlets, with locations said to be set in Chicago, Minneapolis, Palo Alto, Calif., and Littleton, Colo., among other locales. Apple has repeatedly refused to comment on those plans.

Weekend April 21 & 22, 2001 Top

Latest AMD Prices

This listing reflects pricing for direct AMD customers in 1000-unit tray quantities as of April 18, 2001.

AMD Athlon Processor for Desktop:
  • 1333MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $350
  • 1300MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $318
  • 1200MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $294
  • 1200MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $268
  • 1133MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $265
  • 1100MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $241
  • 1000MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $224
  • 1000MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $204
  • 950MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $182
  • 900MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $172

  • AMD Duron Processor for Desktop:
  • 900MHz $129
  • 850MHz $111
  • 800MHz $90

  • Ruling Protects Freedom To Speak On The Internet

    A federal judge in Seattle has ruled in favor of upholding the right to speak anonymously on the Web, marking victory for those seeking to protect online speech from legal dragnets. U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly struck down a subpoena that would have required Web service InfoSpace to disclose the identity of nearly two-dozen people who posted anonymous comments on message boards. The decision will make it harder to obtain the identities of people who post messages on the Net unless they are directly named in a lawsuit or are essential to a claim. The ruling comes at a time when it's increasingly common for companies to try to silence critics on Internet message boards by obtaining the real identity from the Net service, such as Yahoo, that hosted the chat board.

    Lawsuits implicating such anonymous online posters, or John Does, have been on the rise, and the debate has turned into a flash point for civil libertarians. While Thursday's decision limits the types of people who can have their identity revealed, it does not completely end such disclosure. "The issue becomes: What is that standard under which someone's anonymity should be breached?" said Lauren Gelman, attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "We want the courts to step in to say, 'If you want to unmask an anonymous poster, you need to show that this person's identity is central to your claim.' That's what Judge Zilly did." So far, the courts have been split over whether companies running the largest message boards--including America Online and Yahoo--must unmask the identities of anonymous posters. Judges have sided with free-speech advocates in some cases and the companies seeking the identities in others.

    New Info On Microsoft's C#, Next Generation Programming Language

    After several years of development, C# (pronounced "C-sharp") is the Redmond, Wash.-based company's answer to one of its biggest threats--the Java language created by rival Sun Microsystems and supported by two other fierce Microsoft competitors, Oracle and IBM. With software companies racing to make applications available as a service over the Internet to PCs and handheld devices, Microsoft is hoping the companies will write their Web-based software and services using C# instead of Java. And Microsoft is hoping businesses will choose its .Net family of e-business software to run Web services, instead of software based on Java. Java, however, is six years old, and C# is still in Microsoft's womb. While test versions are available, the company's final version of the C# software development tool won't ship until late this year at the earliest.

    Analysts view C#--which, like Java, traces its roots back to the C++ language--as Microsoft's way of keeping its legions of C++ developers from switching to Java. For example, C# copies features that Java offers, including "garbage collection," a popular feature that greatly reduces the complexity of software development by tidying up the computer memory a software program uses. It also includes a universal engine that lets programmers use many types of programming languages to write their applications, meaning they don't need to learn a new language such as Java to build their Web software.

    EU To Tax Downloads From Outside EU, By EU Citizens

    The European Union is close to imposing a tax on music and software downloaded on the Internet from outside Europe by EU citizens, EU Financial Services Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said. The proposal, which could spark a clash with the United States, would tax all "digital" products sold to EU customers. Currently EU businesses levy that tax; their non-European rivals are exempt. The 15 governments are working on a compromise to share the tax revenues. "It may take another couple of months," Bolkestein said. EU online tax negotiations reached a stalemate last year as Sweden and Denmark--which charge 25 percent tax--feared non-European sellers would gravitate to rates of 15 percent in Luxembourg. Under the compromise, Net tax revenues could "be shared out according to the final destination of the digital product," Bolkestein said. "Luxembourg is in favor."

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