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Week of June 24, 2001 News Archive

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Monday June 25, 2001 Top

ePSXe Version 1.4.0 Released

The long awaited new version of ePSXe, v1.4.0 ! post: During the past few months, development on ePSXe has of course continued so we're now proud to present you the results of this development, ePSXe v1.4.0 ! Yeah, you heard right, we skipped one number because 'calb doesn't like 1.3'. Here's a short extract from the list of changes :
  • Included a new wizard guided config which should help new users configure the emulator
  • Added preliminary support for netplay plugins. (Cyberpad)
  • Included support for a new feature included in the video plugins, it now shows a mini-picture from the savestates when you use the F2 key to increase the selected save slot. (It works only with savestates done with the version 1.4.0 or superior)
  • Fixes to the CD-Rom decoder and the core, which make some more games playable like for example Incredible Crisis, Simpsons Wresting, Threads of fate, Tomb Raider I and II (pal), Fighting Force 2 and so on ;)
  • | ePSXe main executeable | ePSXeCutor v1.4.0 (frontend for ePSXe)

    Lexmark Introduces Two All-In-One Printers

    Lexmark International, Inc. today introduced the Lexmark X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers. These value-packed digital imaging centers combine Lexmark’s award-winning inkjet print technology with scan and copy capabilities, enabling creativity and enhanced functionality for home and small office/home office (SOHO) users. “Lexmark is the first to deliver consumers industry-leading 2400 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) print resolution on all paper types, a flexible flatbed scanner, and top-quality copy capabilities - all under $200,” said Tim Craig, Lexmark vice president and president of its Consumer Printer Division. “The new All-In-One Print Centers set a precedent for value-packed, compact solutions that not only handle a variety of imaging needs, but bring memories to life in the form of brilliant photo-quality output.”

    The X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers offer a maximum 2400 x 1200 dpi print resolution in black and color on all paper types and deliver a seven picoliter color droplet size for smoother color blending and more vivid output. Boasting competitive print speeds, the X83 generates speeds up to 12 pages per minute (ppm) in black and up to six ppm in color, while the X73 is capable of up to nine ppm in black and up to five ppm in color. The All-in-Ones feature USB connectivity and Windows compatibility. The X73 will also support Mac operating systems at launch, with a Mac compatible X83 to follow later in 2001. Suited to handle photographs, reports and books, the All-in-One Print Centers feature flatbed scanners with removable lids for the utmost flexibility. Both units offer up to 600 x 1200 dpi optical resolution and 48-bit color scan depth. In addition, the X83 boasts up to 19,200 dpi enhanced resolution, while the X73 features up to 9600 dpi enhanced resolution.

    The X83 and X73 All-In-One Print Centers deliver up to 99 copies from one original and have a zoom range of 25 to 400 percent for reducing and enlarging images. Users benefit from several job-finishing functions for added usability, such as duplex and booklet printing in PC-attached mode. The X83 produces up to 10 copies per minute (cpm) in black and up to three cpm in color, and the X73 produces up to nine cpm in black and up to three cpm in color. The Lexmark X83 and Lexmark X73 All-In-One Print Centers have estimated street prices of $199* (U.S.) and $149* (U.S.), respectively. The X83 will be available in popular retailers such as Best Buy, Comp USA, Costco, Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples, while the X73 will be found in the mass merchant channel at retailers such as Wal-Mart. Both will ship with a high resolution black cartridge, high resolution color cartridge, and a software bundle that includes ABBYY Fine Reader 4.0 Sprint OCR for text editing, Black Ice Fax, and MGI Photo Suite in the box.

    Iomega Introduces New USB Zip Drive

    Iomega Corporation, unveil the new Zip(r) 100MB USB Powered drive this week at PC Expo. The stylish Zip 100MB USB Powered drive is roughly half the size of its predecessor and receives both data and power through a single USB cable. By eliminating the need for a separate power cord, Iomega has made its industry standard Zip drive more portable and easy to use than ever. Included with the drive is Iomega QuikSync(tm) automatic backup software, a $39.95 value. With QuikSync software, files saved to any protected directory are transparently copied to the Zip 100MB USB Powered drive. Users can also choose between continuous backup or customized scheduling. In addition to QuikSync software, the new Zip 100MB USB Powered drive includes software for easily copying an entire floppy collection to a single Zip disk, managing digital audio files, editing digital photos, and accomplishing other tasks. The new Zip 100MB USB Powered drive is also hot swappable, meaning that users can easily connect and use the drive without rebooting the computer. The drive is compatible with Windows operating systems 95, 98, 2000, Me, NT 4.0; Linux (Kernel 2.4.0), and Mac OS 8.5.1 through X. The new Zip 100MB USB Powered drive is expected to be available worldwide in August for a suggested retail price of $99.95.

    New Worm Attacked Government Systems

    A government Internet watchdog warned companies this past weekend of a new malicious program that spreads to previously compromised PCs and seemingly prepares the infected machines to launch a denial-of-service attack, sources said Monday. The program, known as W32-Leaves.worm, places additional code on the compromised machines and synchronizes the PCs' internal clocks with the one at the U.S. Naval Observatory, said Vincent Gullotto, director of the antivirus research team at security company Network Associates. "That may indicate that (the worm) is preparing to do something," he said, but he added that Network Associates has had only three reports of the infection in the past 48 hours. "The government was primarily worried that it could be a denial-of-service attack. Based on their numbers, we decided to give it a medium risk." On Saturday, the National Infrastructure Protection Center posted an advisory to its Web site warning companies of the worm. "Leaves" takes advantage of computers that have been compromised by the illicit installation of the SubSeven system-administration tool, the NIPC stated in the advisory. SubSeven is the program most commonly used by network intruders to control Windows PCs remotely. "The full impact of this new Leaves infection and appropriate fixes are currently under investigation," stated the advisory.

    Corel Releases Bryce 5 for Mac OS X, With More To Come

    To call Corel's relationship with Mac users rocky is like calling the Pacific Ocean wet. Whether it's dropping development of WordPerfect for the Mac or coming out with Mac software after the Windows version have shipped, Corel's business decision have often left Mac users feeling slighted. Corel executives concede that their company has an image problem among Mac users and have vowed to improve their reputation. So, what better way to make amends with Mac users than by updating an application that's popular among creative professionals and hobbyists alike -- and by making it available as an OS X-native program to boot. Thus, the announcement that Bryce 5 should ship by the middle of next month represents more than just the unveiling of the 3D landscaping tool's latest features. It's also a sign that the Canadian software company has taken the criticism of some Mac users to heart and wants to prove its commitment to the platform.

    Corel bought Bryce from MetaCreations last year in a purchase that included Painter, KPT and KPT Vector Effects. Corel's purchase of the MetaCreations graphics applications left many Mac users feeling uneasy, given the company's shaky Mac track record and ongoing reorganization efforts. To reassure Mac users, Corel released an incremental update to Bryce last August. Version 4.1 added new mapping models. It also put out a public beta of Bryce for OS X in January. But Version 5 marks the first major update to Bryce under Corel's watch. Corel plans to ship Bryce 5 in mid-July for a suggested retail price of US$309; owners of previous versions can upgrade for $159. In addition to running in OS X, the Bryce update also works on Mac OS 8.6 and higher. Expect more OS X-native products from Corel throughout 2001. Painter 7, which is in development right now, should ship later this summer. OS X-ready versions of KnockOut 2 and KPT 7 are expected in the fall. Corel also plans a fall release for the OS X version of its flagship product, CorelDraw 10.

    Tuesday June 26, 2001 Top

    New ATA Standard Receives Industry Support

    Maxtor Corporation announced today, in conjunction with Compaq Computer Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, VIA Technologies and others, support for the industry's next generation ATA interface standard that breaks the 137GB barrier for ATA hard drives. This breakthrough allows the creation of ATA hard drives that can access more than 100,000 times more data than the current 137GB interface standard. "By leading the industry effort to move to capacities up to 144 petabytes (PB), Maxtor has helped lay the foundation for future storage technologies," said Ted Deffenbaugh, vice president of product strategy for Maxtor. "By supporting the standard, which we have submitted to the ANSI T13 committee, Compaq, Microsoft, VIA Technologies, and other companies have increased the ability of hard drives and other supporting technologies to access greater amounts of information."

    "Surpassing the 137GB limit is another notch in the evolution of storage capacity. We are very pleased to be working with Maxtor to enable increased capacity for our mutual customers," said Rob Short, vice president of Windows based operating system development at Microsoft Corporation. "Customers are participating in an increasing number of storage intensive scenarios such as data warehousing, application servicing, multimedia, video and music. Increasing the drive limit allows them to easily meet their needs with fewer drives and, in the case of enterprises, in far less physical space. "The "Big Drive" interface initiative succeeds in breaking through the barrier with an upgraded ATA interface allowing for up to 48 bits of address space on a single drive, and therefore the maximum capacity of an ATA device up to 144PB.

    Windows XP Marketing to Reach 1 Billion

    Microsoft said Tuesday that it, together with Intel, PC makers and retailers, will spend $1 billion promoting Windows XP, the software giant's upcoming operating system. Microsoft and Intel alone will spend $500 million to market Windows XP, which is slated for an Oct. 25 launch, with PC makers and retailers spending another $500 million. In May, Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president, said the company would spend "hundreds of millions of dollars" promoting Windows XP. Greg Sullivan, Windows XP lead product manager, positioned the huge marketing investment as more than just Windows XP. "Intel has mentioned they will spend at least $300 million marketing Pentium 4," he said. "When we talk about what the industry is doing, it's not just about marketing Windows XP but Windows XP PCs." Sullivan said Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices "is going to getting behind Windows XP" as well. Microsoft finalized Windows XP marketing plans on Tuesday during a Las Vegas meeting with 600 partners, including PC makers and retailers. Several PC makers also dismissed concerns that building hype around Windows XP could drive down third-quarter sales as consumers and businesses delay purchases until the operating system's release.

    The news comes as Microsoft reaches the final stages of Windows XP product development. The company last week released what is expected to be the last test version of Windows XP before a highly anticipated preview release. Sources close to the company said the preview code could be sent to manufacturing as early as Friday, but possibly as late as July 4. Sullivan confirmed that the preview, which would also be the first Windows XP release candidate, could come later this week. "We're working hard and coming down the home stretch," he said. A release candidate is a final test version before a software package is distributed. Microsoft is expected to have a second candidate by early August. Microsoft is expected to deliver a completed version of Windows XP to PC makers by the end of August, according to sources close to hardware manufacturers.

    Maxtor Introduces Improved FireWire Drive

    Maxtor Corp, today announced volume shipments have begun for the new Maxtor Personal Storage 3000DV, a high-speed IEEE 1394-based (FireWire, iLink) external storage solution designed to handle demanding applications such as video editing and graphic-intensive gaming. Operating up to four times faster than internal laptop drives and 56 percent quicker than Maxtor's previous generation of external storage devices, the 3000DV provides users with an easy way to add 60GB of storage without opening their computers. The 3000DV raises the bar for video performance, allowing users who require high-end capability to access, edit, and view digital video directly from the drive, with fluid playback and without dropped frames. Users playing advanced games from the drive can expect realistic action, free of choppy motion. The drive's large capacity and speedy performance make it an ideal storage solution for both PC and Apple Macintosh platforms.

    Maxtor Personal Storage 3000DV's enhanced electronics, combined with its 7200 RPM speed, make it more than 56 percent faster than the company's previous generation of external storage devices. In Winbench testing, the 3000DV scored two-to-four times higher than internal laptop hard drives and is up to 15 percent faster than an internal desktop 5400 RPM ATA 100 disk drive. Maxtor Personal Storage 3000DV is shipping immediately and will be available through and retail stores at $379.95. The Maxtor 1394 PCI Adapter Card is currently available at major retailers and directly from The 1394 CardBus will be shipping to retailers and will be available on beginning next week. The Maxtor PCI Adapter Card is priced at $49.95 and the Maxtor 1394 CardBus is priced at $99.95.

    IBM Introduces Super High-Resolution Monitor

    IBM announces the T220, the world's highest-resolution flat panel monitor, enabling photograph-quality imaging for science, banking, engineering, publishing, medicine and business critical visualization tasks. The T220, with a screen that shows 12-times more detail than current monitors, becomes the highest resolution monitor to be announced and makes IBM's monitor lineup the industry's most comprehensive. With 200 pixels per inch and more than 9 million pixels in total on its 22.2-inch screen, the T220 monitor displays photographs with a degree of realism not previously possible. Applications for this technology are wide-ranging, encompassing any field that requires extremely high resolution images -- medicine, weather forecasting, publishing and graphic design, banking, product development, satellite mapping and more. The T220 also can show several of the highest definition HDTV channels simultaneously. "The T220 monitor will promote groundbreaking new applications,'' said Bob Artemenko, director - new market development, IBM Display Business Unit.

    "It enhances the exchange of all types of visual data between machine and the end user, making it possible to see levels of clarity and resolution in electronic images previously attained only in the highest resolution printed media.'' This technology eventually could make its way into displays for laptops, desktops, handhelds and other computing devices, making the viewing of video and digital photos a completely new and more realistic experience. The IBM T220 will be available in limited quantities this month and with full scale production beginning in 3Q01. The IBM T220 will be available through IBM representatives or through an IBM reseller. The starting price for the new monitor announced today is $22,000.

    Apple Hires Open-Source Leader

    Apple Computer has hired Jordan Hubbard, founder and leader of the effort behind the open-source FreeBSD version of Unix, to work on Apple's operating system derived in part from FreeBSD. Hubbard, one of the co-founders of FreeBSD, launched in 1993, announced the news Monday on a FreeBSD mailing list, saying he'll shift his emphasis to Darwin, the open-source underpinnings of Apple's Mac OS X operating system. "The FreeBSD product line has reached the stage where I feel comfortable taking a job that allows me to focus more on Darwin," Hubbard said in the posting. "Ever since Apple released the initial public beta, I've been following OS X's progress with great interest and an increasing desire to get involved with it somehow."

    The move has the potential to increase the ties between the FreeBSD movement and Apple, helping Apple fulfill its hopes of capitalizing on the successes of the open-source movement in which programmers collaborate by openly sharing their programs' source code. And FreeBSD could benefit from some of Apple's work as well. Hubbard said he hopes to foster such ties. "Darwin is substantially based on FreeBSD 3.2, and Apple certainly doesn't want the technology transfer to end there or to be strictly one-way. Part of my mandate will in fact be helping Apple to be an even better open-source citizen, increasing collaboration and strengthening relationships with FreeBSD and other open-source projects," he said. Hubbard and Apple didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. However, in a note posted to an Apple mailing list, Core OS Engineering Director Brett Halle said Hubbard will be manager of BSD technologies at Apple.

    Wednesday June 27, 2001 Top

    Intel Introduces Upgraded Pentium III's

    Intel has moved forward in two major areas of the chipmaking process with "Tualatin," the new Pentium III processor the company showed off at the PC Expo trade show Wednesday. Tualatin, also known as Pentium III-M, will initially be used mainly in notebooks. Intel executives said all of the major notebook makers, including Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer, Fujitsu and Sony, will adopt the new chip. Several have shown Tualatin-powered notebooks at PC Expo, part of the Technology Exchange Week New York event. Tualatin uses Intel's new 0.13-micron manufacturing process, which allows smaller circuits to be printed on the chip, thus increasing the processing power that can be squeezed onto a piece of silicon. Tualatin also marks Intel's entry into the chip industry's copper shift, using the metal to connect circuits on the chip.

    It's unusual for a chipmaker to make two major shifts with the same product, but Intel felt the time was right for both, Frank Spindler, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile Computing Group, said in a PC Expo interview with CNET The 0.13-micron manufacturing process essentially shrinks the size of processor features from the current 0.18-micron process. That means faster chips that consume less power. "We think everything about the 0.13-micron technology is significant," Spindler said. The move to copper interconnects--the metal wires that connect transistors--also promises faster clock speeds. The first Tualatin chips are expected to range in clock speed from 866MHz to 1.13GHz when they debut late next month. Later, Intel will introduce low- and ultra-low-voltage versions of the chip.

    Windows XP Piracy Protection Could Lock Out Users

    Microsoft's new product-activation technology, which locks Office XP or Windows XP to a particular PC hardware configuration, can deactivate unexpectedly, rendering the software useless until a code number is obtained from Microsoft. The feature could present the biggest headache to people that frequently upgrade or change components on their PCs. Already, the activation technology, introduced to thwart piracy and promote software subscriptions, is controversial with some users of the new Office software package. Microsoft introduced product-activation technology with an update to Office 2000 but made it standard fare with Office XP, released in late May. It will also be standard with Windows XP, the new version of the operating system set to launch Oct. 25. In testing versions of Windows XP, the product must be activated within 14 days by using an included activation wizard to connect to Microsoft online, "locking" Windows XP to the existing hardware configuration.

    If Windows XP is not activated within 14 days, it stops working and directs users to the Internet to automatically activate the software. To reactivate the software in the case of reinstallation or due to too many hardware configuration changes, a 44-key code must be obtained from Microsoft by telephone. Office XP and Windows XP are capable of deactivating if the user makes radical changes to a computer's hardware configuration, which could trick the software into thinking it has been moved to another system."When you activate, what it does is lock the software to the hardware--takes the signature of the hardware," explained Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq. "The technology is designed to detect changes in the configuration. Should the hardware fingerprint change, the activation technology may think you're running the software on another machine."

    The potential for problems is greatest on desktops whenever consumers or businesses upgrade components, but it can also affect notebooks, where software could be rendered virtually useless on the road if the owner made substantial hardware changes. Tom Bailey, Microsoft's lead product for Office, acknowledged this scenario can happen. "In order for the activation to take, it identifies a wide variety of components in your system," he explained. "If a certain number of components change over time--for example, you get a new video card, add memory, this, that or the other thing to that PC--it will ask you to reactivate." Once the software detects a hardware discrepancy it can't reconcile, the consumer or business must reactivate the software using the original installation CD. This requires calling Microsoft to get a one-time, 44-key code reactivating the software. In the case of Office XP, the software enters a reduced functionality mode where people cannot create or save files until reactivation.

    Faster Pentium 4's to Come Next Week

    Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker, on Wednesday set a launch date of next week for the next-fastest version of its Pentium 4 microprocessor, which the company had said would be available only in the third quarter. Intel's 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Pentium 4 chips will be launched next week, said Executive Vice President Michael Splinter during his keynote speech at the Technology Exchange Week in New York. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel's fastest microprocessor--the primary computing engine for PCs--now runs at 1.7GHz. A company representative said that the 1.6GHz Pentium 4 lets Intel and its PC maker customers offer PCs at a broader range of prices. Currently, the Pentium 4 comes in 1.3GHz, 1.4GHz, 1.5GHz and 1.7GHz speeds. The newest chips have already been shipped to PC makers, and systems will begin to be announced next week, the representative said. The early availability of the latest Pentium 4 means that Intel is satisfied that the chips per wafer it's getting makes economic sense.

    Napster Plans To Shut Out Older Clients

    Napster plans to shut off old versions of its file-swapping software late Wednesday night to push a version that includes a new filter for blocking copyrighted music. Napster is funneling people to a new version of the software that includes technology supposedly able to identify a song accurately using a digital representation of its sound. When it released the software last Friday night, the company touted it as a way to release many previously blocked songs back into its network. CNET readers, however, report that almost no songs are getting through the network with the new software. A quick look at the Napster network gave access to about 1,600 songs--fewer than some MP3 lovers have on their own hard drives. According to consulting firm Webnoize, which has tracked Napster usage over the past few months, the average Napster user was sharing just 1.5 files by Wednesday morning, as compared to about 220 files in February. "By further reducing the music available through the current service, Napster has provided another nail in the coffin of the service consumers originally loved," Webnoize analyst Matt Bailey said in a statement.

    Napster lovers have already begun to complain. Last weekend, after downloading the new software, Napster user John Quincy said he found it virtually useless. The old "Napster allowed me to share about 160 of the nearly 700 MP3 files in my shared folders. Napster (version) 10.3 allowed me to share zero files, not more files," even with the program configured correctly, he wrote in an e-mail to "Needless to say, I got rid of (version) 10.3 and went back to 10.2." Starting Thursday, he and millions of others won't have that option. Despite the Napster crackdown, however, file swapping is alive and well on numerous Napster clones that provide access to a wide range of top hits for free. Although Napster's decision to force the switch may bring it into compliance with the court, it will likely hasten the exodus of former fans to such alternatives, which include Audiogalaxy, Music City, Morpheus, Kazaa, BearShare, LimeWire, iMesh and others.

    Introduction of File Sharing Program Free-Net Delayed

    An ambitious attempt by an international coalition of hackers to create a file-sharing program that can defeat censorship has gone back to the drawing board, the project's leader said Wednesday. Known as "Peekabooty"--and previously as Project X--the program could allow dissidents in authoritarian countries to speak out online by hiding the identity of its users. Although the program was expected to be released at Def Con, the well-known hacker to-do, the group has decided to solve some sticky technical problems first. "I have decided to delay the release in the interests of end-user safety," the project's leader, a hacker known as "Oxblood Ruffian," said in an e-mail Wednesday. "Although I am very pleased with what we've accomplished to date, it would be irresponsible to release the software in its current state."

    Peekabooty combines the Internet's distributed file-sharing abilities--similar to those made famous by Napster--with technology to hide the source of data traveling around the network. The problem with the software, Oxblood said, is that it doesn't operate as stealthily as the nearly two dozen programmers working on the project would like. "This is not an insurmountable problem," he said in the e-mail. "We've rejigged our design, and I've recruited a team of network programmers to deal with this issue. We shall continue development and testing until I'm satisfied the software is sufficiently discreet."

    Thursday June 28, 2001 Top

    Breakup of Microsoft is Stopped

    Microsoft and the government claimed victory Thursday after a federal appeals court vacated an order calling for the breakup of the software giant but also determined that it illegally maintained its monopoly in operating systems. In a 125-page decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a previous ruling that Microsoft used illegal conduct to retain its OS monopoly and asked a trial court to determine an appropriate remedy. The appeals court also asked the trial court to revisit the controversial issue of tying products such as the browser to Microsoft's ubiquitous PC operating system. "I am pleased to say that the court unanimously found that Microsoft engaged in unlawful conduct to maintain its dominant position in computer operating systems," said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. "This is a significant victory." However, in a crucial win for Microsoft, the appeals court said the trial judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, "seriously tainted the proceedings." It removed him from the case and tossed out his order calling for the breakup of the software titan.

    In addition, the court threw out a claim that Microsoft attempted to extend its monopoly to the browser market. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates described the ruling as positive and said it could lead to a settlement with the government. "With this ruling there is a new framework, and so it would be a good time for all parties involved to sit down together," he said at a press conference at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Sorting out the real winner depends on what the expectations were for the appeals court. In that regard, Microsoft is likely to be more disappointed in the split decision. For the past several weeks, many analysts and some Microsoft executives had anticipated a fairly sweeping victory. As a result, being labeled an abusive monopolist and having the tying issue remain unresolved is considered a loss. On the other hand, the elimination of the breakup order and judge Jackson are important wins.

    "I don't think this was a very good ruling for Microsoft," said Andy Gavil, an antitrust professor with Howard University School of Law. "I've heard Microsoft is trying to claim some victory out of it, but I don't see a lot of victory for them." Thursday's decision came almost exactly a year after Jackson ruled that Microsoft violated antitrust laws by exploiting its monopoly in the market for operating systems to capture the market for Web browsers. As a remedy, Jackson said the company should be split into two pieces: One would focus on operating systems, and the other would develop applications and other products. In Thursday's decision, the federal appeals court unanimously vacated that order and sent parts of the case back to a lower court. In addition, the court determined that the case should be heard by a new judge.

    Dell Throws its Support Behind DVD+RW

    Dell Computer has thrown its weight as the No. 1 PC maker behind the rewritable DVD standard known as DVD+RW. The Round Rock, Texas-based company announced Wednesday at PC Expo--which is part of Technology Exchange Week New York--that it is joining the DVD+RW Alliance and will begin shipping computers with integrated DVD+RW drives later this year, after the drives become available. The company has not decided how much to charge for the drives yet. Last week, Hewlett-Packard, one of the founding companies of the DVD+RW Alliance, announced that it will use DVD+RW drives in its line of home PCs. In a battle reminiscent of the one between Betamax and VHS in the 1980s, DVD+RW is competing with DVD-R and DVD-RAM to become the industrywide standard. Mary Craig, an analyst at Gartner, stopped short of saying that the support of HP and Dell swings the momentum in the favor of DVD+RW.

    "We've been hearing a number of companies hyping different standards, but (no DVD+RW drive) is shipping yet," she said. "Don't get caught up in the hype just yet. Once drives starts shipping, then we can talk." She added that it is too soon to even discuss DVD+RW in the present tense because after three years of talk there are no products yet. Jim Porter, an analyst at Disk/Trend, said Dell's decision is a "strong" show of support for DVD+RW. "But it's not a clincher," he said. Porter added that continuing competition among the three standards is a "silly point of politics." Rewritable DVD has long been on the tips of manufacturers' tongues as the successor to CD-rewritable. Rewritable DVDs can store significantly more data than CD-RWs, for example, giving consumers the ability to store longer home movies.

    Caldera Starts Charging for Each Copy Used

    Bucking a trend in the Linux business, Caldera International has begun charging for each copy of Linux customers use. Red Hat, SuSE and other companies that sell the Linux operating system typically allow users to install a copy of the software on as many computers as they want. Caldera, though, now requires users to pay for a "certificate of license authority" for each copy, said John Harker, vice president of server product management. "Among the people we sell to and expect to get money from, I don't think it will cause any ill will," Harker said, adding that there still is a free version for noncommercial use. But some Linux fans disagreed. The General Public License that governs Linux's heart, or kernel requires that any changes to Linux be published publicly. Caldera does so but also includes higher-level software covered by more restrictive licenses, Harker said. Caldera, one of the few Linux companies to hold its initial public offering before investor enthusiasm for Linux and technology in general began to wane, has been struggling with today's more stringent environment. In a recent interview, Caldera Chief Executive Ransom Love said he expects his company to achieve profitability "within the next four to five quarters. We're on target or ahead of most of the industry," he said. Hampering the move was a write-off of investments such as those in Linux hardware and software company Ebiz Enterprises.

    Microsoft Increases Time to Upgrade to Office XP

    Microsoft has given business customers another five months to upgrade to the new Office XP in a controversial new licensing plan, a company executive confirmed Thursday. Customers will now have until Feb. 28, 2002, rather than the original Oct. 1 deadline, to make the change as part of the company's new "Software Assurance" licensing program announced earlier this year, said Simon Hughes, Microsoft program manager for worldwide licensing and pricing. Software Assurance contracts effectively commit customers to buying operating system and application upgrades at a discounted rate on a periodic basis, rather than purchasing the upgrade when the customer decides it's time. The new program lowers costs for businesses that upgrade software frequently but would force those who upgrade less frequently to pay more. A survey by researcher Gartner estimated that medium-sized businesses upgrading software every three years will pay anywhere from 33 percent to 77 percent more under the new plan than they did with the old plan. Four-year upgrades would cost 68 percent to 107 percent more.

    One of the requirements for switching to the new licensing program is that companies must be using the latest version of a product, which would mean Office XP for customers of that software package. Business customers using Microsoft's current "Open" and "Select" licensing plans can ignore the Software Assurance switch, but the Open and Select plans expire when Software Assurance kicks in. So when these companies do decide it's time to upgrade their software, they'll pay full price. "The alternative to Software Assurance is that you resign yourself to the fact you're going to have to pay full price next time you upgrade," Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq said. The new deadline for upgrading to Office XP was prompted by feedback from customers who were ready to make the change but couldn't find the money so late in the year, Hughes said.

    Flaw Found in Digitally Singed and Encrypted Email

    Common encryption standards that allow users to digitally sign their e-mail have a well-known flaw that could allow the message to be surreptitiously forwarded to another person, a researcher plans to announce Thursday at a technical conference. The problem could allow the recipient of a signed and encrypted e-mail to forward the message to a third party, while making it seem as if the original sender mailed the message directly. If the message contained, say, trade secrets and the third party was a competitor, the technique could be used to, among other things, frame a co-worker. "The recipient is liable to assume that encryption security guarantees that no one but the sender has seen the mail, but encryption experts know that isn't true," said Don Davis, corporate architect for security at Web application firm Curl, who will present his findings at the USENIX Technical Conference in Boston. The flaw, which has been well known in encryption circles for years, rests in the common method of sending secure e-mail. Digitally signing the text and then encrypting the message so only the recipient can read it only guarantees who wrote the message and who can read the message, not who sent it.

    For Davis, the issue is one of context. If the sender makes statements in a signed message that are not clearly addressed to the recipient or have the context stated in the subject line, the recipient could use surreptitious forwarding to send an incriminating e-mail. For example, if a company consists of co-workers Alice and Bob and their boss Charlie, Alice might send Bob a message with the subject "If there was no hunger..." and the body text "the world would be a better place. -Alice" Bob could surreptitiously forward the message to Charlie and change the subject line to say "If you were dead..." without invalidating Alice's signature on the original body of the text. The result: Charlie believes Alice sent him a message anticipating his demise. While largely theoretical, opportunities to exploit the flaw abound. The flaw has crept back into oft-used encryption standards, Davis explained, undermining the degree to which a person can trust an e-mail message's apparent source. Common encryption standards, such as Pretty Good Privacy, S/MIME, MOSS, Privacy Enhanced Mail and PKCS#7, have all incorporated the flaw. Applications based on those standards could fall prey to surreptitious forwarding.

    Friday June 29, 2001 Top

    Microsoft's Celebration May End Soon

    Although the Redmond, Wash.-based software company claimed victory after Thursday's appeals court decision, legal experts characterized it as a loss for the software giant that could complicate its plans for future products. Microsoft dodged the breakup order issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, but the court upheld the core monopoly claims against the company. "Microsoft may have ducked the murder-one conviction and the death penalty, but they sure look like they've been hit with a murder two," said Rich Gray, a Silicon Valley antitrust attorney who closely followed the trial. "They have been found by the full panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals to have illegally maintained their monopoly in violation of the Sherman Act. That's devastating." So solid is the government's remaining case, no matter what happens next, that Microsoft will be forced to change how it conducts its business, legal experts say.

    Breakup also remains a viable option when the case returns to the trial court, where a new judge will craft a remedy. "They're going to have to live with the fact they are an adjudicated monopolist, and that's going to have to change how they do business," said Andy Gavil, an antitrust professor at Howard University School of Law. "I don't see that as a victory. There isn't a lot of light at the end of the tunnel that could ultimately get Microsoft to believe they ultimately will be vindicated." For Microsoft, the decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit places in jeopardy the company's recent Windows XP bundling efforts and .Net, its ambitious software-as-a-service strategy. More seriously, the court determined it has a right to tell a monopolist how products should be designed--a decision that could have far-reaching effects on other technology companies.

    Bill Gates Willing to Settle Case

    Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Friday he was "very open" to reaching a settlement in the case against the computer giant after an appeals court overturned an order to split up the company. In interviews with morning television shows to comment on Thursday's court ruling, Gates said extensive litigation was not good for either side in the case. "Microsoft, as we have been throughout the case, is very open to the idea of settlement. We don't think extensive litigation and the resources that involves are really good for anyone. We will see if that's a possibility," Gates told ABC's "Good Morning America". In an interview with NBC's "Today" show, he said the company would do its best to reach a deal with the Justice Department, which has said it will review Thursday's ruling before deciding how to proceed. "We will do our best at that (reaching a settlement). At least if we go back to court we will have a much, much more narrowed case," said Gates. Asked whether he took some satisfaction that the appellate court had spoken out against Jackson, Gates told ABC the best way for justice to be served would be to have a new judge. Jackson's conduct in the case showed that "the process was not as fair as one might expect," Gates told "The Early Show" on CBS Gates told NBC his company had done its best to minimize distractions during the protracted case and had done a lot of good work on new products in the interim.

    MP3 Virus Hoax Created

    Virus experts and members of online message boards are decrying a purported MP3 virus as a hoax. A document dated June 27 and posted to several Internet newsgroups warns of an "imbedded hybrid computer code" named MusicPanel that has been secretly buried in the MP3 files of 500 popular songs distributed over the past eight months among users of popular music file-trading networks Napster and Gnutella. The warning says that this virus will strike downloaded MP3 music files on July 4. Rob Rosenberger, operator of, a Web site devoted to debunking computer virus myths and hoaxes, posted an alert on his site calling the document a prank. "The hoax describes itself as a 'press release,' yet it reads more like a manifesto against music piracy," the Vmyths alert states. "Case in point: the hoaxster insists MusicPanel 'was not developed in conjunction with any record labels or publishers nor with the Recording Industry of America or other organization.'" Vmyths also notes that the document refers to the MusicPanel code as a "global weapon" against music piracy. Rosenberger and other virus aficionados on message boards point out that data files such as MP3s cannot execute by themselves and thus cannot have computer viruses embedded in them.

    Napster Clones Cut Off By Recent Upgrade

    The record industry may hit two birds with one stone as Napster upgrades to new software aimed at filtering copyrighted works from its network. The upgrade is causing a ripple effect on the popular OpenNap shadow network, which now faces technical problems that could incite many of its members switch to alternative services. Kelly Truelove, chief executive of, a company that tracks and supports peer-to-peer file-swapping services, said Napster's new software makes it harder to use OpenNap servers. "Napster with its new client has not only blocked access to Napster from its cloned client, it's also made it impossible to utilize the Napster client to connect to the clone server," Truelove said. "This break-in compatibility does have for the moment a profound effect on how easy it is to get connected to those clone servers." OpenNap allows people to set up their own file-swapping hubs that--like Napster's own servers--create indexes of songs available on other people's hard drives. The Napigator software program acts as a road map to this Napster underground, letting people point their regular Napster software to one of these independent file-trading hubs instead of to the company's servers. Napigator has already posted a notice on its Web site saying the application does not work with Napster's beta 10.3 software. As a result, new members will be unable to download Napigator.

    Dell Possibly Adding AMD Chips to Its Line Up

    Is longtime Intel champion Dell Computer testing the waters for home PCs based on Advanced Micro Devices processors? A recent survey commissioned by the leading PC maker asks customers to state a preference between a PC based on AMD chips and one that uses Intel processors. Dell is the only major North American PC maker to use Intel processors exclusively. Others, such as Compaq Computer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM offer both Intel and AMD chips in their desktop lines. Dell's status as the worldwide leader in PC sales would make a move to AMD chips a significant shift for the company. Founder and CEO Michael Dell has at times blasted AMD's Athlon processor as an unproven computing platform. But these are desperate times in the PC business, and Dell could be looking for a way to further differentiate its systems from competitors or to offer lower prices. The Dell survey first asks customers if they would consider AMD's Athlon and Duron processors, Intel's Celeron, Pentium III and Pentium 4 processors, and also PowerPC processors. It then asks participants to state which processors they would most and least prefer and why.

    The survey concludes by asking, "Assume you are in the process of purchasing a new desktop computer for your home. Also assume that the two desktop computers you are considering have IDENTICAL product features with one exception. One desktop computer has an Intel Pentium III 1GHz processor and is priced at $1,099. The second desktop computer has an AMD Athlon 1GHz processor and is priced at $1,049. Which computer would you most prefer?" Despite the implications of the survey, a Dell representative downplayed it, stating the document is not indicative of any change in the company's product plans. "It's just market research and anticipating future demand," the representative said. It's "a chance to touch customers and get some feedback from them about what they're looking for...but it's not indicative of any certain move. "We're always evaluating technology, and we'll make the right decision for the customer."

    Weekend June 30 & July 1, 2001 Top

    Windows XP Release Candidate 1 Released

    Microsoft on Friday released the first of two expected final testing versions of Windows XP. The Redmond, Wash.-based software company completed Windows XP Release Candidate 1 days ahead of schedule. A second release candidate is expected in late July or early August. Sources close to PC makers said Microsoft has told them to expect gold--or final--code no later than early September. They will use this version to preload on new PCs. Windows XP, which debuts on Oct. 25, will ship in two versions: Home and Professional. Basic features--among them Internet Explorer 6, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger and Internet firewall--are essentially identical. The Home version is the upgrade to Windows 95, 98 and Me, while Professional replaces Windows NT and 2000. Release Candidate 1 will be distributed as part of the Windows XP Preview Program . People signing up for the program pay $9.95 to download the about 500MB preview release, or an extra $10 to receive a CD by mail. Those subscribing to the program will need a valid code from Microsoft to activate the software--essentially locking it to their PC configuration--or Windows XP will stop working after 14 days. Windows XP automatically guides users through the process, which is completed over the Internet or through a phone call to Microsoft.

    Usenet Co-Creator Jim Ellis Dies

    Jim Ellis, who helped create the information-sharing electronic bulletin boards that predated the World Wide Web, has died. He was 45. Ellis, who had been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for two years, died at home in Beaver County early Thursday, said his wife, Carolyn. Most recently an Internet security consultant with Sun Microsystems, Ellis was one of the creators of Usenet, which linked computers and allowed people to share information and reply to messages. Usenet began in 1979 when Ellis and another Duke graduate student, Tom Truscott, thought of hooking together computers to share information. At the beginning of 1980, the network consisted of two sites at Duke and one at the University of North Carolina. Usenet quickly become a popular means of trading and sharing information internationally before the World Wide Web came into existence. By using bulletin boards--later called newsgroups--people who were linked to the system could share information and hold discussions. By late 1999, the number of newsgroups was estimated at more than 37,000.

    Allan Fisher, chief executive officer of Carnegie Technology Education, a subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University that develops Web-based courses, said Usenet could be considered "the first big community application" of an interconnected system of computers. "The social importance was it allowed this community building and prefigured a lot of what happened on the Web," Fisher said. Ellis and the other creators of Usenet, including Steve Bellovin and Steve Daniel, made no money from it, said Carolyn Ellis, because it was not set up as a commercial venture. "They launched this thing and had no idea where it was going," she said. After working in North Carolina, Ellis and his wife moved to western Pennsylvania in 1986 when he took a position with the Super Computing Center in Pittsburgh. Later, he joined Sun Microsystems, working from his home in western Pennsylvania. "He had a good wit. He loved bridge. He loved his family of course," Carolyn Ellis said. "He was not afraid of his impending death."

    HP Moves Farther Into Consumer Electronics

    Hewlett-Packard licensed digital photo technology from PictureIQ and will collaborate with the company on related products for the home. HP licensed PictureIQ's PhotoBoard design, a collection of hardware and software that allows consumer gadgets to edit, organize and view digital photos. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP will use the design in future products, the company said this week. Iomega already uses the design in a product called FotoShow that plugs into a television to display images. The move bolsters HP's push into consumer electronics, a market long dominated by Sony. HP hopes it will be able to capitalize on the brand recognition it has attained by virtue of its printer and PC business. HP recently made another consumer electronics move when it demonstrated the prototype of a digital stereo that can download music from the Internet and record CDs. Expanding into consumer electronics gives HP more diverse revenue sources during difficult times in the PC industry. But going up against the established giants of the electronics market will be tough, analysts have said. The PhotoBoard product dovetails with HP's digital imaging strategy. The company sells digital cameras for creating digital images and printers for printing them.

    Router Bug Threatens Net Security

    Networking hardware maker Cisco Systems and the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordination Center have warned of a bug in Cisco routers that could allow hackers to disrupt Internet traffic or intercept sensitive information. The bug, revealed Thursday, allows an attacker to gain control of any Cisco router running certain operating software. Routers are devices that control how data moves around the Internet. Malicious attackers could stop Internet traffic, intercept information such as passwords and credit card numbers, or redirect traffic from Web sites. The vulnerability allows a person to take control of the router without authorization. It affects "virtually all" mainstream Cisco routers and switches running Cisco's proprietary operating software, known as IOS. "This access allows a remote attacker to inspect or change the configuration of the device, effectively allowing complete control," Internet security watchdog CERT wrote in an advisory Thursday.Cisco said it has not had any reports of the bug being exploited. The bug originally was reported by independent consumers. "We've had no reports by customers of active exploitation of these vulnerabilities," a Cisco spokeswoman confirmed in an e-mail interview. "The vulnerabilities have been or are in the process of being fixed, and the security advisories are being shared with customers."

    Updated Preview Version of iCab Released

    A New "preview" version of iCab is available for download in various flavors. iCab is an alternative Web browser distinguished because it has been developed especially for the Macintosh. Separate versions are available for "Classic" Mac OS and Mac OS X. The preview version is set to expire in October. Changes in iCab Preview 2.5.2 include: full support of ECMAScript (the ECMA262-3 standard), support for the Mac OS X version of URL Manager Pro, some workarounds for server bugs which were causing "stalling" problems, some bug fixes for JavaScript, CSS and Mac OSX. After iCab's development is complete, the developers plan to release a commercial "Pro" version for US$29. A free version will still be available. System requirements for iCab call for a 68020 or better-equipped Mac; System 7.0.1 or higher; Mac TCP or Open Transport; 5MB available RAM; Internet Config 1.2 (or Mac OS 8.5 or newer). | Download iCab Preview 2.5.2

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