Archive 10

Even being the richest man in the world doesn't stop you from getting a pie in the face.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV).

Intel Problem

Posted 14 May 2000.

Intel acknowledged a problem with components inside some Pentium III computers that causes systems to freeze. Released in November, Intel's "memory translator hub" is used by computer makers that want to incorporate the 820 chipset without using Rambus, a high-cost, high-speed memory technology.

Unfortunately for Intel, the fix won't be cheap.Intel has offered to replace the motherboards inside all computers containing the MTH, as well as replace the current memory with Rambus chips.

In a worst case scenario, replacing the motherboards alone may cost $100 million. Swapping out ordinary memory with Rambus memory, however, will likely raise the cost considerably. Rambus memory costs around three times as much as standard memory. Some analysts estimate Intel has set aside reserves totaling several hundred million.


IE Bug Bites Mac (aka The Long Arm Of Microsoft)

Posted 18 May 2000.

Microsoft's browser bug team is working to patch an Internet Explorer glitch that afflicts Apple Macintosh computers running the latest iteration of IE. The bug, which can expose private files and, in some circumstances, grant unauthorized access to sites on a company's intranet, first cropped up in late 1997. Microsoft patched it then, only to reintroduce the bug with the release of IE 5.

The hole in Microsoft's Web browser is tied to the browser's use of Java, Sun Microsystems' cross-platform programming language. The hole concerns the way Microsoft exposed IE's networking code to the Java virtual machine.

Emphasis added. Would you buy a used program from that team?

Ya Gotta Love These Viruses

Posted 20 May 2000.

There's a new virus in town... and there isn't any cure (yet).

A new virus on the loose could make the "Love Bug" pale by comparison but so far has not spread nearly as widely or as quickly.

Antivirus firms are closely monitoring the new outbreak this morning and say so far only a handful of instances have been reported to them. But they caution that the virus has the potential to spread rapidly and cause even more damage than its recent predecessor.

"Everything on the computer is destroyed," said Vincent Weafer, director of Symantec's antivirus research center.


The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center this morning issued an alert on the virus and has dubbed it "NewLove.VBS." The NIPC has also opened an investigation into the matter, the posting said, and is warning people not to open any email attachments.

Perhaps even more disquieting than the destructive payload is the fact that the virus alters itself to sneak around traditional virus scanners.


Like the "I Love You" virus, the new virus exploits features of Microsoft's Outlook email program to send itself to all contacts in the victim's address book.

Microsoft this week pledged to shore up Outlook with an upgrade meant to thwart the spread of viruses such as the Love bug.


The new virus does not overwrite computer files; instead, it shrinks them down to nothing, targeting files on both local and network drives.

In addition, it imitates the behavior of biological viruses by making subtle alterations as it spreads.

The mutation occurs in three places. First, the virus changes the subject header of the email by selecting at random from various document files found on the victim's computer and adopting that file's name, preceded by "FW:."

Next, the virus renames itself with the same name, followed by ".vbs."

Finally, the virus inserts random text in the VBS script itself. This code does not alter the behavior of the virus but throws virus scanners off its scent.

Symantec said it was at work on a fix that would exclude those randomly generated comments in identifying the virus.

Emphasis added. Note: They don't have a cure yet.

Symantec (Norton Anti-virus) has seen around 30 variations on the I Love You virus. The "New Love" virus is not related. And I own a Mac. :-)

Slashdot Fires Back at Microsoft

Posted 20 May 2000.

Reported on this one a while back (Open Source, But Not Open, Archive 9). Here's an update.

Influential open-source Web site has fired back at Microsoft over the software giant's demand that it remove certain postings from its site.

Slashdot today posted a letter from the attorney for its parent company, Andover.Net, questioning the rationale behind Microsoft's demand.

As previously reported by CNET, Microsoft last week sent Andover.Net a "notice of copyright infringement" regarding postings on Slashdot concerning details of the Kerberos Web security program included in Windows 2000. Even though Microsoft had made the information available on its Web site, it claimed that Slashdot's republication violated trade secrets.

The new letter, from Mark D. Robins of Hutchins, Wheeler & Dittmar, pokes at Microsoft's argument, asking in part, "How can Microsoft claim trade secrecy for a protocol that is distributed over the Internet?"

Take a look at the response here for those wanting to delve deeper.

MS Bomb Attack

Posted 3 June 2000.

Microsoft's South African office damaged in bomb blast

By Reuters

Special to CNET

June 2, 2000, 9:20 a.m. PT

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa--A bomb explosion rocked the South African office of software giant Microsoft today, shattering windows but causing no injuries, police and a company spokeswoman said.

"It was a bomb attack, there's no doubt about it. As yet we have no motive or suspects," police spokesman Chris Wilken said.

Terry Annecke, marketing director for Microsoft's South African operations, said the explosion in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Sunninghill had occurred at around 5 a.m. local time (8 p.m. PT).

Police forensic experts and the bomb squad were at the scene combing for evidence.

"We don't know whether it was a commercial or military device, but it was certainly a bomb and not a gas explosion," Wilken said.

Annecke said windows had been shattered by the blast, but there was no structural damage to the building. The company had not received any threats before the incident. A Reuters cameraman on the scene said shards of glass were strewn about the courtyard next to the building's cafeteria.

No staff, apart from four security guards, were in the building at the time of the explosion.

Microsoft's Johannesburg office provides marketing and customer support in southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.

The company's 170 employees were asked to work from home or visit clients today. Microsoft's head office in Redmond, Wash., had been notified.

Johannesburg, the commercial capital of South Africa, has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. Many international corporations employ private security firms to protect their employees and buildings.

Inferior CDs

Posted 10 June 2000.

In a recent article regarding CD-R colours emailed to me from Adaptec, Bob Starrett ( says you can pick any colour because they're all really good:

So, no matter what media you use, it is likely that your finished discs are of better quality than that Windows 2000 pressed disc that you just bought.

He could actually have chosen any pressed CD title. Interesting he picked on Microosft. Or perhaps just to be expected.


Posted 10 June 2000.

From Standards, the Offical Magazine of Standards New Zealand, June/July 1999:

In a recent statement on HTML, Microsoft notes, "Previous proprietary extensions from Microsoft and other vendors have confused the market, hampered interoperability and been ill-conceived with respect to the design principles underlying HTML"

Yeah? What other vendors are we talking about here, huh?

More Proof MS NOT Innovative

Posted 21 June 2000.

In a very sad move, Microsoft has bought up amazing computer company Bungie, makers of the Marathon and Myth computer games. The upcoming Bungie game Halo is currently one of the four most eagerly awaited computer games (along with Blizzard's Warcraft III), and Microsoft, in its typical fashion, just bought up the company in order to get it.

For a company that has always prided itself on independence, Bungie's sale to Microsoft seems more than a bit counterintuitive.


So smack dab in the middle of Microsoft's world, the long-haired, Mac-using Bungie crew will plop down with their bean bags, knickknacks, and entirely different (and independent) corporate culture.

One colleague wondered yesterday if there were any Microsodit games that MS hadn't either bought or based on someone else's work.

"We've got a lot of respect for what they have done and how they've done it" - Bungie cofounder Jason Jones.

So what has Microsoft done? Become a monopoly and misused that position to eliminate competition.

Daily Radar: What do you suggest Mac gamers do with all the hair they are going to pull out of their heads at this news?

Jason Jones: If they had some red and yellow dye handy, they could arrange it in the shape of a bulls-eye towards which we can aim the handy new Microsoft mind-control laser we got as part of the deal.

Translation: "UP YOURS, loyal Mac users."

"In a lot of ways, the heart and soul of Bungie is Marathon" - Jason Jones.

And Bungie has just sold its soul to ...

Moral: Don't Rip Off Apple?

Posted 21 June 2000.

The budget computer maker Emachines is doing rather badly at present. Emachines rose to notoriety for copying Apples iMac a little too closely. From my normal computer news source:

Amid what it sees as a glut of cheap PCs in the market, budget computer specialist Emachines today said it would post a much wider than expected loss as it slashes prices on its substantial inventory of already assembled computers.


The move sent the already languishing stock plummeting. Shares closed today at $2.59, down $1.09 or almost 30 percent. Emachines went public in March at $9 per share.

Ouch. Now, if only the same fate would befall...

Royalties For Hyperlinks?

Posted 21 June 2000.

U.K. phone company British Telecommunications says it has asked 17 U.S. Internet service providers for fees for a patent that it says forms the basis of links that connect Web sites.

The company said it has held a patent for linking online documents since 1976. Ten of the companies have said they will review the request, according to BT.

BT added that it will take legal action in U.S. federal court if the companies, which include America Online, decline to pay the fees. BT did not disclose how much it is asking for.

The patent, which details a way of connecting documents accessed online, was discovered four years ago in a routine check. A BT employee, who has since retired, invented it. While BT held the worldwide rights to the link, all but the rights in the United States have expired. Rights in areas outside the United States expired by 1998, BT said.

"One of the questions that might arise is why BT has taken so long to pop out of the woodwork," said Gary Moss, a patent attorney at Taylor Joynson Garrett, a legal firm in London. "In my experience, a lot of U.K. companies are not as familiar with intellectual property rights as their American counterparts."

The U.S. patent expires in October 2006.