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Welcome to InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors. InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors is a daily column. It features news coverage of new PC and Mac computer hardware and software, Internet news, and other technical news items.
Every Sunday, News and Rumors features "Sunday Shopping Watch", which is a comparison and analysis of Sunday computer store advertisements.
The Computer News and Rumors is an archived column, so feel free to review previous week's or month's computer news by clicking on the link below. Previous computer news articles can also be searched, by using our site search feature found in the right-hand column.
InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors Article Index Date (Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to the Index.) Apr 16 NEC First to Introduce Transmeta-based Ultraportable Apr 16 Fujitsu PC Corporation Unveils Next Generation Pen Tablet PC Apr 16 Dell Announces Notebook Computer Capable of Playing 3D Games Apr 16 Worldwide AOL Membership Surpasses 29 Million Apr 15 Sunday Shopping Watch Apr 14 Nintendo readies launch of Game Boy Advance Apr 14 Intuit details Last Minute Tax Tips Apr 13 Rambus profits decline as lawsuits against DRAM manufacturers continue Apr 13 Tax Procrastinators Turn to the Web in Record Numbers Apr 13 Higher Memory Capacity in MP3 Devices Increases Prices Apr 13 EarthLink Launches Wireless E-Mail Service on Motorola's Talkabout T900 Apr 12 Dell takes lead in Education Market Apr 12 Sony, IBM, and Toshiba dedicate new Microprocessor Research Facility Apr 12 Infineon Technologies Introduces Fastest DDR Memory for 3D Graphics Market Apr 12 Logitech Optical Trackballs Get a Fresh New Look For Spring Apr 11 Sony Introduces Intel 1 GHz Pentium III and Duron 800 MHz Processors in VAIO Notebooks Apr 11 Cell Phone Service Costs Drop 0.3 Percent in March Apr 11 PhotoStreak Free Download Provides Greatly Improved State-of-the-Art Image Compression Apr 11 Intel Itanium Processor Shows e-Commerce Security Performance Apr 10 Fujifilm's FinePix Digital Cameras For 2001 Now Available Apr 10 SCSI Trade Association Adds Next Generation Ultra320 SCSI Technology Resource to Web Site Apr 10 United Messaging details 'Seven Deadly Sins' of Computer Virus Protection Apr 9 LaCie Shipping Industry's Highest-Capacity FireWire Desktop Hard Drive Apr 9 Industry Executives Predict a Major Battle Among Video Game Hardware Manufacturers Apr 9 Motorola Unveils Strategy to Provide Embedded Bluetooth Computing Solutions Apr 9 Web Becomes Active 'Mall That Never Sleeps'
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April 16 - NEC First to Introduce Transmeta-based Ultraportable. NEC Computers Inc., a leading provider of mobile, desktop and server computing solutions for the enterprise market, today introduced two new ultraportable notebook systems, the NEC Versa(R) DayLite(TM) and Versa UltraLite(TM) notebook computers. These notebooks are the first sub-3.5-pound ultraportable enterprise notebooks to include lithium polymer batteries in combination with lithium ion batteries, and the power-saving technology of the Transmeta (Nasdaq:TMTA) energy-efficient Crusoe(TM) microprocessor.
NEC engineered the Versa DayLite and Versa UltraLite notebook computers with the Transmeta Crusoe processor to leverage the chip's advanced Code Morphing(TM) Software and LongRun(TM) Power Management that matches system performance levels with application demands, significantly lowering power consumption while helping to conserve battery life. This functionality is key for mobile professionals who are typically working away from an AC power source for an extended period of time.
The new NEC Versa DayLite notebook computer, weighing 3.3 pounds without its two external drives and with a profile of 1.2-inches, integrates a low-voltage 600MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, and includes a 10.4-inch TFT SVGA reflective LCD panel that uses typical daylight for illumination. The Versa DayLite notebook computer uses an internal lithium polymer battery, a rechargeable battery technology that while similar to traditional lithium ion notebook batteries, uses space-saving gelatinous polymer cells to supplement the removable lithium ion battery and drastically increase the Versa DayLite's battery life.
By merging the low-voltage Transmeta Crusoe processor, an innovative new reflective display and an advanced lithium ion and lithium polymer battery combination, users of the Versa DayLite notebook computer can use the system for everyday applications for up to eight hours(1) on a single charge, making the Versa DayLite an ideal solution for mobile computing in outdoor environments.
"Ultraportable notebooks are reaching into new categories of users, but to continue this trend systems must be designed to incorporate better and more compelling technologies for the mobile end users," said Jim Forbes, editor of DEMOletter and producer of DEMOmobile. "The NEC Versa DayLite and Versa UltraLite notebooks combine two new key technologies -- lithium polymer batteries which provide very long battery life and reflective LCDs, which allow notebooks to be used in direct sunlight."
Similar to the Versa DayLite in appearance, the NEC Versa UltraLite also operates with a 600MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor for lower power consumption, but includes a standard backlit 10.4-inch TFT XGA display. The notebook also incorporates a lithium ion and lithium polymer battery combination that enables mobile professionals using the Versa UltraLite for applications like word processing, spreadsheet computation, e-mail and Internet browsing to work for up to 5(4) hours on a single charge.
"These remarkable new machines are another example of NEC's long tradition of technological innovation," said Larry Miller, vice president of marketing, NEC Computers. "We have identified a number of vertical markets, including television and motion picture production, agriculture and higher education that require a small, instantly mobile yet robust system usable indoors, outdoors, throughout the work day. We designed the Versa UltraLite and DayLite for just these types of computing situations."
"The NEC Versa UltraLite and Versa DayLite systems represent the next-generation of ultraportable notebook computers with exceptional battery life for the corporate market," said Jim Chapman, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Transmeta Corporation. "NEC's two new notebooks with the Crusoe microprocessor, along with innovative battery and screen technologies, can deliver wireless computing for a full work day."
Pricing and Availability
More information about the systems is available by visiting www.neccomp.com.
April 16 - Fujitsu PC Corporation Unveils Next Generation Pen Tablet PC. Fujitsu PC Corporation (FPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu, Ltd., today introduced the lightweight Stylistic(TM) 3500, a high-performance, full featured portable computing solution. This represents FPC's commitment to developing a mobile computing device for mainstream enterprise adoption.
Incorporating industry-standard processor and operating system technologies, the Stylistic 3500 can easily be transformed into a desktop replacement and used as the primary computing device for both vertical and professional users. FPC is drawing on its success in vertical markets, such as sales force automation, merchandising, inspections, insurance claim handlers and healthcare in creating the Stylistic 3500 and positioning it as a mainstream computing solution.
"The introduction of the Stylistic 3500, coupled with the support of major software companies, demonstrates FPC's commitment to the transition of the pen tablet into a mainstream enterprise computing device," said Sara Nelson, FPC's vice president of marketing. "We developed this solution to combine the mobility and flexibility of a pen tablet with the ability to deliver the high-performance and computing power of a desktop computer."
"As the leader in the pen tablet marketplace, FPC has been `first to market' with many technologies and the Stylistic 3500 continues that tradition," she said.
A recent market study published by International Data Corporation (IDC) reported FPC held a 70 percent worldwide share of the pen tablet market, validating the company's position as the undisputed market leader.
The new pen tablet features a reflective 10.4" TFT SVGA outdoor viewable color display. The new display combines the outdoor brightness of passive reflective screens with the high-contrast and fast-speed of active matrix screens to deliver an unmatched level of outdoor viewable screen technology. Although the reflective display is ideal for outdoor use, it can also function in a standard office environment.
In addition to the new outdoor display, the Stylistic 3500 is available with an SVGA indoor/outdoor or an XGA indoor-only display, creating one of the most versatile and complete collection of display options available in the pen tablet market. These screen options also incorporate liquid-filled digitizer technology reducing glare and reflection to deliver a crisp and clear, highly readable display. All three of FPC's pen tablet displays feature "palm rejection" technology to better distinguish between the user's palm and pen to ensure data is entered accurately.
The Stylistic 3500 houses an ultra-low voltage Intel(R) Celeron(TM) 500MHz processor within its 11" by 8.5" by 1.1" form factor, making it the fastest pen tablet in its class, and as powerful as today's notebook and desktop computing solutions. The new CPU provides users with the processing power to easily manage the most intensive applications without effecting power consumption.
Another major advancement is the incorporation of a 15GB hard drive and expanded 256MB total memory capacity.
"By almost tripling the pen tablet's hard drive size and making available several docking options, FPC pushes the limits currently available to mobile enterprise users and further positions the Stylistic 3500 as a mainstream computing device capable of satisfying everyday computing needs," Nelson said.
The Stylistic 3500 incorporates several Microsoft(R) Windows(R) operating system choices, including Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows 2000 Professional or Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. The new pen tablet supports Windows Pen Services as well as Communication Intelligence Corporation's (CIC(R)) PenX(TM) operating system extensions for handwriting recognition. This dedication to using industry standard solutions ensures FPC's users are given the security and stability required to effectively manage critical and sensitive data.
The newest addition of the Stylistic family will be available through a worldwide network of Fujitsu PC Corporation value added resellers (VARs) and system integrators. Pricing for the Stylistic 3500 will start at $3,899.
For more information on Fujitsu PC Corporation's pen tablet and notebook computers go to www.fujitsupc.com.
April 16 - Dell Announces Notebook Computer Capable of Playing 3D Games. With a breakthrough in mobile video graphics performance, Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) announced new models of the award-winning Inspiron 8000 notebook computer today.
These new models combine the rich performance of Nvidia's GeForce2 Go powerful 3D graphics engine with Intel(R) Mobile Pentium(R) III processors to deliver an impressive combination of leading-edge performance and versatility.
The GeForce2 Go delivers breakthrough 3D power that now rivals desktop systems. GeForce2 Go accelerates everyday business and Internet applications as well as graphic- and CPU-intensive tasks like digital content creation, video editing and 3D games.
"Until the introduction of the new Inspiron 8000 from Dell, there were no notebooks that were really acceptable for playing high-end 3D games," said Mark Reins, vice president of Epic Games -- the makers of Unreal Tournament. "The graphics performance and features of this notebook are truly amazing. I can finally play Unreal Tournament on a notebook without any compromises! This is awesome! This is truly a major step in notebook computing. I'd recommend the Inspiron 8000 to anyone."
The new Inspiron 8000 models offer new levels of multimedia power as the first notebooks to combine DDR video memory and integrated Harman/Kardon Odyssey2 speakers.
With industry-leading features like the 1-GHz Intel(R) Mobile Pentium(R) III processor, a super-sharp 15" UXGA display, combination DVD-CDRW drive, 48 GB hard disk drive, integrated antenna for internal wireless and personalized color palm rests, the addition of GeForce2 Go to the Inspiron 8000 product continues Dell's reputation as a leader in the desktop replacement category.
About Nvidia GeForce2 GO
GeForce2 Go is the world's first mobile graphics processor supporting transform and lighting in hardware and is able to process more than 17 million triangles/second and 286 million pixels/second with a memory bandwidth of 2.6GB/second. This delivers faster frame rates and more-lifelike action for games and video playback.
GeForce2 Go also provides a full feature set previously available only in desktop computers including: per-pixel shading, Nvidia's TwinView(tm) multi-display architecture and Digital Vibrance Control. This combination provides clean, bright, crisp visuals.
GeForce2 Go is available in the Inspiron 8000 in configurations of 16MB or 32MB of DDR SDRAM memory.
Pricing and Availability
Prices for the Inspiron 8000 with Nvidia start at $2,118 for a system equipped with a 900-MHz Intel Pentium III processor, a 15-inch SXGA+ display, 64 MB of RAM, 16 MB DDR Nvidia video graphics memory, 24X CD-ROM drive, 10 GB hard disk drive and an internal 56Kb modem.
Information on Dell and its products can be obtained on the World Wide Web at www.dell.com.
April 16 - Worldwide AOL Membership Surpasses 29 Million. America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, today announced that the worldwide membership of its flagship AOL service has surpassed 29 million.
The Company said that AOL members are averaging almost 70 minutes on the service daily, up from 64 minutes a year ago.
America Online credited its hallmark ease of use and convenience, new features in AOL 6.0 and 24x7 free customer support as important drivers of membership growth and customer satisfaction. In addition, the Company pointed to its innovative marketing programs with OEMs and leading retail outlets, including Sears, Target, Office Depot and Circuit City.
Barry Schuler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of America Online, Inc., said: "We couldn't be more pleased with the strong membership growth. AOL 6.0's new features, such as the AOL Anywhere site and expanded AOL-PLUS broadband content, together with our robust parental controls and industry-leading privacy and security protections are enabling members to derive even more value from the AOL experience.
"And through strategic marketing agreements with a wide range of partners, we're helping to bring more and more people online in the US and around the world."
Schuler added, "The membership growth and the rise in daily usage show that AOL is becoming an increasingly central part of our members' lives. As we begin the next Internet revolution, and we see increased broadband adoption during the next few years, we look forward to providing new services and additional benefits to our members."
AOL can be found on the Web at www.aol.com.
April 15 - Happy Easter! Sunday Shopping Watch.
Special Discounts and Financing. In addition to sales on specific items, the following store-wide sales are advertised this week. (Note: All stores are closed Easter Sunday.)
Best Buy is giving away 1 year of free MSN with any computer purchase. They are also offering a $100 instant savings on in-store Intel Pentium processor computer packages, and 18 month no interest financing on all computers and notebooks.
Circuit City has a $100 mail-in rebate on any desktop computer package with a CD-RW drive.
Office Depot no ad this Sunday.
CompUSA no ad this Sunday.
Staples no ad this Sunday.
HHGregg is giving away a digitial camera with all desktop complete packages and laptop purchases.
Internet Rebates. All stores continue to offer 3 year, $400 Internet Rebates. Please see our article, What You Need to Know About Internet Rebates and Free PCs, for an in depth discussion of Internet Rebates.
Definitions. A complete system/package is defined as a computer with monitor and printer or scanner.
A built-to-order system is customized at eh retailer and then ordered from a Vendor's store. In addition to the computer's stated price, you still pay sales tax and shipping charges (if you order direct from the vendor without going through the chain store, you may not have to pay sales tax and you could get a better warranty).
* Prices discussed in this article. Advertisers typically deduct the $400 Internet rebate from an items true price. We report all prices without subtracting the $400 Internet rebate, however all other rebates and discounts are usually subtracted.
Caution about advertised prices. When reading advertisements, read the fine print of the ad to make sure you know what is being advertised and what it cost. For example, many advertisers will show a complete system with computer, monitor, and printer but advertise a price for the computer only.
Best Deals this Sunday Category Product Description Price* (see above) Store Best Celeron Deal Compaq 800 MHz complete system $999 Best Buy Best Pentium III System Compaq 866 MHz complete system $1049 Circuit City Best Pentium 4 System Compaq 1.3 GHz build-to-order system with monitor $1799 Best Buy Best Duron System None Advertised Best High End Athlon System HP 1.2 GHz complete system $1649 Best Buy Best Low Cost Notebook Toshiba 700 MHz Celeron $999 Best Buy Best High End Notebook Compaq 1 GHz Pentium III build-to-order with DVD/CD-RW $2579 Best Buy
Additional Information. For additional technical information, advice on how to buy a laptop or desktop, and vendor and manufacturer links, please see our Computer Buying Advice page.
About Sunday Shopping Watch. Sunday Shopping Watch appears every Sunday (except some holidays like Easter and Christmas) in our News and Rumors column. It is a review of the highlights of local (Dayton, Ohio) computer chain store advertisements. While we can not guarantee your local chain store have the same items, this article should help you to make informed buying decisions.
April 14 - Nintendo readies launch of Game Boy Advance. Life is about to advance for video game players everywhere -- not once, but every time they turn on Nintendo(R)'s new Game Boy Advance. As Americans eagerly await the June 11 launch, their already-piqued curiosity will be heightened to a fever pitch through an extensive marketing campaign that encourages people to enjoy "Life Advanced".
The heart of the multi-media "Life Advanced" campaign will be three exciting 30-second television spots, focusing first on the Game Boy Advance hardware, next on the new Super Mario(R) Advance game, and finally, on the library of launch titles. The television spots will begin airing April 30 in conjunction with the kick-off of in-store pre-sell efforts.
Nintendo will spend more than $25 million on marketing activities to promote the Game Boy Advance launch, and approximately $75 million total by year-end. The campaign will primarily target the 9-to-17-year-old market.
The Game Boy Advance system will carry a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $99.95, while new game software will retail for between $29.95 and $39.95. Game Boy Advance will be available in three colors at launch: Arctic (white), Glacier (translucent blue) and Indigo (violet).
About Game Boy Advance
Nintendo's 32-bit is the revolutionary all-new version of its best-selling portable video game system, Game Boy. Selling more than 110 million systems and 405 million games since its launch in 1989, the Game Boy family of handheld video game systems is acknowledged as the most popular video game platform in history.
With a new horizontal orientation and dual shoulder buttons, the compact Game Boy Advance features high-resolution graphics on a 2.9" full-color LCD screen -- 50 percent larger than that of Game Boy Color, and supports four-player multi-player gaming and other innovative gameplay. The system also has the ability to play the entire library of existing Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles.
For more information about Game Boy Advance or any other Nintendo product, visit the company's web sites, www.nintendo.com or www.gameboy.com.
April 14 - Intuit details Last Minute Tax Tips. With only four days left to file your taxes, the tax experts at Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU), the makers of Quicken(R) TurboTax(R), have some last-minute tax preparation and filing tips to help you weather the storm and perhaps save money.
According to IRS statistics, 20 percent of Americans wait until the last two weeks to prepare and file their income tax return. If you're one of these last-minute filers, are you taking advantage of all of your options to relieve some of the stress associated with preparing and paying your taxes?
When you are preparing to file your return this weekend, consider these tips to help make the experience less "taxing" while maximizing your deductions:
-- PREPARE YOUR TAXES ON THE WEB: Not surprising, preparing your taxes electronically is one of the biggest time-savers and stress relievers available to you. Online tax preparation tools like TurboTax for the Web (http://www.turbotax.com/), take the hassle and stress out of preparing your taxes and is 20 times more accurate than the old paper and pencil way. It can also help you find deductions you may not know you are eligible for and ends the confusion associated with filling out confusing tax forms. Plus, it's available whenever you're ready without having to download or install software. Just visit turbotax.com.
-- FILE ELECTRONICALLY: By electronically filing your tax return, you can get your refund back in less than half the time than if you mail it. And this year, e-filing is completely paperless with the IRS's new Self-Select Pin program that further speeds filing your return.
-- DIRECT DEPOSIT: If you are one of the more than 70% of Americans who receive a refund each year, have it direct deposited into your bank account. This speeds up the refund process further with some taxpayers receiving their refunds in as little as 10 days.
-- OPEN AN IRA: Most taxpayers forget they have until April 16 to contribute up to $2000 as a tax deduction. If you're doing your taxes and it shows you may owe, why not contribute and reduce your tax liability.
-- COMPARE LAST YEAR'S RETURN: You may have thought last year's return may never see the light of day but it's good to give it the once over this year. Compare your 1999 tax return to this year's to see if you've missed any deductions that may help this year.
-- GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR DEDUCTIONS: Taxpayers lose hundreds of dollars a year because they don't know what they can deduct. The most often missed deductions are: student loan interest, mortgage points, health insurance premiums for the self-employed, adoption credits and child-care credits.
-- GET SOME MORE TIME: And if you just can't wrap up your tax return in time for the April 16 deadline, file for an extension, which will allow you until August 16 (October 16 with an additional extension) to file your 2000 income tax return. REMEMBER, if you owe, you must still pay ANY TAXES due by April 16 or face penalties.
April 13 - Rambus profits decline as lawsuits against DRAM manufacturers continue. Rambus Inc. (NASDAQ: RMBS) today reported financial results for its second fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2001. Revenues for the quarter were $31.2 million, up 99% over the same period last year and down 10% from the previous quarter.
Included in second fiscal quarter results was $23.6 million in royalties, nearly seven times the amount reported in the same period last year and down 12% from the previous quarter. The quarter's results included the initial royalties from Matsushita for use of Rambus patents in logic devices which control SDRAMs and DDR SDRAMs.
"Due to delays in our litigation in Europe against Hyundai and Micron, and in the US against Infineon, expenses associated with this litigation exceeded our expectations," said Geoff Tate, CEO of Rambus Inc. "While it would be tempting to focus attention on income before litigation expense, we need to point out that royalty revenue from the eight companies who have licensed our patents for use in SDRAM-compatible ICs still far exceeds the cost of litigation against the three companies who have chosen to go to court rather than to conduct good-faith negotiations. We expect some decisions in this litigation during the next quarter. Expenses in our fiscal second quarter were also impacted by higher rent and other operating costs in our new building. Overall we expect our current level of costs and expenses to be maintained in the next quarter."
"Our second fiscal quarter results show the effect of both declining SDRAM prices and costs associated with the continuing vigorous legal defense of our intellectual property. The good news is that royalties on RDRAM-compatible ICs increased sequentially during the quarter and we anticipate that this growth will continue. Prices have continued down on RDRAMs, but we anticipate that increases in unit volume will more than offset the price declines. We are very pleased with the success of RDRAMs in the marketplace, as the continuing ramps of the Sony PlayStation2, Intel Pentium 4 and digital TVs are leading RDRAMs to an increasing share of the DRAM market.
"Royalties on SDRAM-compatible ICs declined in the second fiscal quarter due mainly to a reduction in average selling prices (ASPs). We expect this trend to continue and in fact to accelerate in the next quarter because SDRAM ASPs declined in the latest quarter by an estimated 50% sequentially. Since the majority of our royalties are still from SDRAM-compatible ICs, we anticipate an overall decline in our total revenues from current licensees next quarter by 20% sequentially, plus or minus several points. Of course the signing of additional licensees could improve this outlook.
"Despite the sequential decline in revenues and net income, Rambus remains solidly profitable and cash-flow positive. Our cash balances during the second fiscal quarter increased to $151 million from $144 million last quarter. And we remain highly confident of ultimate victory in the various litigations in defense of our intellectual property."
April 13 - Tax Procrastinators Turn to the Web in Record Numbers. With the busiest weekend of the tax filing season still ahead, Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU), announced that its Quicken(R) TurboTax(R) for the Web(SM) service today filed its two-millionth federal income tax return. This milestone sets a new record for most returns filed via TurboTax for the Web, topping last season's 1.4 million federal returns.
With 20 percent of taxpayers waiting until the last two weeks to do their taxes, according to IRS statistics, TurboTax for the Web has seen a steady rise in the number of customers as the April 16 deadline approaches and taxpayers look for the fastest and easiest way to complete and file their tax return.
Those taxpayers used to delivering their paper return to the post office before midnight on deadline day can now prepare and electronically file their tax return by 11:59 p.m. local time via TurboTax for the Web and get a digital date stamp that is proof their return was submitted on time.
"Consumers have embraced TurboTax for the Web in record numbers because it offers the fastest and most convenient way to complete their return," said Bob Meighan, vice president of the Intuit's consumer tax division. "Taxpayers don't need to stand in long lines at the post office. Instead, they can use TurboTax for the Web to beat the filing deadline and save themselves the time and aggravation they may be accustomed to this time of the year."
More information can be found at www.Intuit.com.
April 13 - Higher Memory Capacity in MP3 Devices Increases Prices. According to marketing information provider NPD INTELECT(R) Market Tracking, the average selling price of MP3 players in February 2001 was 18% higher than pre-holiday pricing. This is true across all channels, including traditional retail and e-commerce outlets.
Month/Year Nov. `00 Dec. `00 Jan. `01 Feb. `01 Avg. Price $196 $206 $229 $231
The steep increase over the short four-month period is due to added memory included in newer MP3 players. MP3 devices with higher-capacity removable memory and devices with hard drives are dominating category sales. By contrast, MP3 Players with limited-capacity, imbedded memory have lost share since last November.
Products including Sony's Memory Stick Walkman, Iomega's Hip Zip and Creative Labs' Nomad Jukebox offer opportunity for more music downloads. Consumer desire to grab more music from the Web is driving sales of higher priced MP3 Players.
"In spite of the sales, there has to be a concern in the MP3 industry, since the courts have effectively shut-off the flow of free-music downloads. Still, many companies are betting on the MP3 format by including it throughout their product lines. For example, Samsung has a boombox that contains both a removable MP3 device and a CD player. Many manufacturers have personal CD players and car CD players that read MP3 files `burned' onto CDs," commented Jim Hirschberg, director of consumer electronics for NPD INTELECT.
For more information about NPD INTELECT, visit www.intelectmt.com.
April 13 - EarthLink Launches Wireless E-Mail Service on Motorola's Talkabout T900. Continuing its mission to extend its business beyond the traditional desktop PC and to make the Internet more accessible to consumers, EarthLink (Nasdaq:ELNK) today formally launched its second wireless e-mail solution -- this time on the popular Motorola Talkabout(R) 2-way model T900.
EarthLink's new wireless product -- part of the "EarthLink Everywhere" initiative -- lets consumers send and receive e-mail from their primary e-mail address -- any time, from anywhere! Talkabout T900s using EarthLink's wireless e-mail service come with an EarthLink e-mail account and can also be configured to send and receive e-mail from most other open-standard Internet e-mail addresses.
"This is a great product for people who want the convenience of on-the-go wireless communication seamlessly integrated with their most important e-mail address," said Lance Weatherby, executive vice president of EarthLink's "EarthLink Everywhere" initiative. "Our newest wireless service lets users communicate with anyone through their e-mail address, whether they're PC-based e-mail users, Talkabout T900 users or people with other wireless devices."
With today's initial Talkabout T900 offering, EarthLink subscribers can direct their existing e-mail accounts to be delivered to their handheld device, where they can reply, forward, delete and store e-mails.
Available in four popular colors, the Talkabout T900 weighs less than 4 ounces and is only about the size of a large pack of gum. The unit has a full QWERTY keyboard and four-line display screen that allow for easy reading and composing of messages.
Its address book accommodates information for up to 250 contacts and makes it easy to remember important numbers and e-mail addresses for friends, family and colleagues.
EarthLink plans to add additional services and capabilities to its Talkabout T900 offering, including Instant Messaging, content delivery, enhanced preferences and mailing list capabilities. Today's service offering is priced at $124.95 for the purchase of the T900 unit (plus tax and shipping), with a monthly service fee of $24.95.
Consumers can sign up for the service online at www.earthlink.net/mobile/.
April 12 - Dell takes lead in Education Market. Dell (Nasdaq:DELL), the No. 1 provider of personal computing systems to the U.S. education market, announced today that it has gained more than 50 multi-million dollar wins in the K12 and higher education markets within the last 12 months.
The announcement comes on the heels of the latest market data from IDC, listing Dell as the leading supplier of personal computing systems to the U.S. education market for the year 2000, gaining more than five points of market share during calendar year 20001. This is the first time that the company has been the No. 1 provider to education for the entire year.
"Technology is becoming a critical component to the world of education," said Bill Rodrigues, Dell's vice president and general manager for education and healthcare. "It is no longer a tool that sits in a lab to be used periodically. Through wireless networks and mobile computing, technology has become a powerful tool to increase teacher productivity and improve student performance. As the U.S. leader in providing technology to the education market, we take our role very seriously. Our teams are dedicated to making it as easy as possible for educators and administrators to take full advantage of technology in education. That's our job, and that's what we're focused on throughout the year."
Dell has served the education market for nearly 10 years with dedicated teams for K12 and higher education. Education customers are turning to Dell for a variety of reasons, including the company's quality products, award-winning service and support, and dedicated education organization of sales, service, and customer support.
teams.Information on Dell and its products can be obtained on the World Wide Web at www.dell.com.
April 12 - Sony, IBM, and Toshiba dedicate new Microprocessor Research Facility. Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), IBM and Toshiba Corporation today launched a joint technology development center in Austin, Texas to support the design of an advanced "supercomputer-on-a-chip" for a new wave of broadband-attached, pervasive devices.
Less than a month after announcing a collective investment of more than $400 million to develop a new genre of microchips, code-named "Cell," IBM, SCEI and Toshiba have established a design center that will be staffed with nearly 300 skilled computer architects and chip designers dedicated to the project.
To commemorate the milestone (pictured, from left), Takeshi Nakagawa, president and CEO for the Semiconductor Company of Toshiba Corporation; Dr. John Kelly, senior vice president and group executive for the IBM Technology Group; and Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO of SCEI participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the design center located within IBM's facility in Austin, Texas. (Business Wire photo)
Apr 12 - Infineon Technologies Introduces Fastest DDR Memory for 3D Graphics Market. Infineon Technologies (FSE:IFX))(NYSE:IFX) today introduced a new 128-Mbit Double Data Rate (DDR) Synchronous Graphics RAM (SGRAM), for use in high-performance 3D graphics acceleration application. The new product enhances Infineon's family of graphics memory for the growing 3D accelerator market, and follows the pioneering 32-Mbit DDR SGRAM, which contributed to the image quality improvements in 3D graphics.
The 128Mbit SGRAM is organized 4Mx32, and hence is an ideal graphics memory for 32, 64, 128 and 256 bit bus applications. Featuring a JEDEC standard Ball-Grid-Array (BGA) package supporting clock frequencies up to 300MHz, this memory breaks bandwidth barriers imposed by TSOP and TQFP packaging. At this operating speed the new device is capable of handling data bandwidths up to 2.4 Gigabytes per second, which makes it the fastest DDR memory available today.
Infineon is pioneering new features with this product, introducing a 1.8V matched impedance interface. Operating at 1.8V means significant power savings over a standard DDR interface which uses 2.5V -- this will be critical to reach the high performance levels required of 3D graphics cards and power reduction for Notebook PCs. Additionally the BGA package ball-out of 12x12 incorporates 16 thermal balls for cooling.
"The 1.8V matched impedance interface and BGA package has excellent thermal performance, removing the need for memory cooling blocks on graphics boards," said Ernst Strasser, Director of Product Marketing for Graphics and Specialty Memories at Infineon's Memory Business Group. "The matched impedance interface and mirrored ball-out simplifies layout. This will lead to significant cost savings."
Recently 3D graphics have developed at a blistering pace, and Infineon has played a pivotal role in these advances. The leading 3D graphics processors are now programmable and support advanced texturing techniques, which enable lifelike realization of complex visuals. Games developers will take full advantage of the new hardware features to produce games with amazing imagery. In order to accommodate these new software features, frame buffers will need to grow both in terms of bandwidth and size, enabling a swiftly increasing level of graphic detail.
The industry's demand for more bandwidth and memory density, combined with the user community's desire for affordable 3D graphics available on a wide range of platforms were strong drivers behind this new product. With the 128-Mbit DDR SGRAM Infineon has met its own target to further push out the previous restrictions inherent in current graphics memories, namely bandwidth and form factor.
On the PC front, novel small form factors for Desktop PCs require a reduction in the space taken up by graphics boards. The increasing prevalence of fully-featured multimedia boards with TV capabilities places further pressure on board space. The Notebook PC has traditionally lagged the Desktop PC in graphics capability, but increasingly it is seen as a desktop replacement and requires matching graphics capability. Infineon's 128-Mbit DDR SGRAM answers the Notebook PC's graphics requirements with high bandwidth, low power and small form factor. Compared to graphics memories mounted in the standard TSOP or TQFP packages, the form factor of the 128Mbit DDR SGRAM is reduced by more than a factor of two by using a BGA package. The footprint of the 128Mbit device is 11mm x 11mm.
"We tailored the 128-Mbit DDR SGRAM to meet the aggressive bandwidth demands of Desktop PC 3D graphics and the form factor demands of the Notebook PC without compromising performance," said Noel Clarke, Product Marketing Manager for Graphics Memories at Infineon's Memory Business Group.
April 12 - Logitech Optical Trackballs Get a Fresh New Look For Spring. Logitech (Nasdaq:LOGIY); (Switzerland: LOGN, LOGZ), the worldwide leader in trackballs and mice, is refreshing its popular optical trackball family and adding a new member. Building on the ongoing success of Cordless TrackMan(R) Wheel, the company is now offering a corded version that features a sleek new metallic silver finish. Marble(R) Mouse, Logitech's best selling trackball, will also be refreshed with the same metallic look.
TrackMan Wheel features a two-button design with a scroll wheel that provides quick and easy scrolling in all applications and on the Internet, and also functions as a third button for increased productivity. All buttons can be customized as application-based or Internet shortcuts. The small ball positioned for thumb operation provides accurate and fast cursor control in all applications. Light from the LED illuminates two tiny crescent-shaped panels, which encircle the trackball, giving off an attractive red glow. To provide added comfort during long hours of use, TrackMan Wheel has a contoured shape, which allows the hand to rest in a natural position.
Marble Mouse is a comfortably designed finger-operated trackball for both left and right handed users. It features two programmable buttons. This innovative trackball provides the familiar fit of a mouse and the easy movement of a trackball. Both of the new trackballs feature Logitech's patented Marble(R) optical tracking technology, which delivers unsurpassed reliability and precision. Marble optical technology means little or no maintenance, as there are no mechanical parts to collect dirt.
"Comfort, style, design and precision are key features that make Logitech's trackballs continual top sellers," noted Wolfgang Hausen, senior vice president and general manager of the company's Control Devices Division. "This expanded line of trackballs will give users a broader selection to choose from while providing the comfort and quality that they have come to expect from the market leader in trackballs."
All of Logitech's trackballs include MouseWare(R) software, with its innovative WebWheel(TM) feature that provides instant Internet access at the touch of a button. They use either a USB or a PS/2 interface and are compatible with Windows(R) 3.X, Windows 95 and 98, Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium Edition, as well as Macintosh(R) 8.6 or later operating systems. The TrackMan Wheel carries a five-year limited warranty and the Marble Mouse has a three-year warranty.
This month both trackballs will be available at various retail locations and online at www.logitech.com. TrackMan(R) Wheel enters the market at a suggested retail price of $39.95. And, the price for Marble Mouse will continue to be a value at $29.95.
April 11 - Sony Introduces Intel 1 GHz Pentium III and Duron 800 MHz Processors in VAIO Notebooks. Sony Electronics is incorporating the fastest mobile processor currently available for notebook PCs, the Intel 1 GHz Pentium(R) III processor with SpeedStep(TM) technology, into its new Spring FX VAIO notebook line-up.
The new 1 GHz PCG-FX290, arriving in stores this month, also comes with a 30 GB hard drive, 256 MB of SDRAM, and the industry's first combination DVD/CD-RW drive, which allows VAIO notebook PC owners to download and store music; create and rewrite CDs that incorporate movies, digital images and other snazzy graphic elements; back up data; and watch movies on DVD, whether in the office or on the road.
"Incorporating the mobile Intel 1 GHz Pentium III processor into VAIO notebook PCs -- known for their inspiring, easy-to-use complement of audio video applications -- opens the floodgates of creative possibilities for mobile movie-making, multimedia presentations, and the related business and entertainment-oriented applications for which VAIO PCs are known," said Mark Hanson, vice president and general manager of VAIO PC marketing at Sony Electronics.
"This kind of horse power, storage and memory capacity in a notebook PC helps make conducting even the most demanding applications a breeze," Hanson added.
Featuring a 15-inch SXGA + TFT screen with state-of-the-art display technology, the PCG-FX290 provides crisp, impressive images and DVD playback brilliant as a living postcard.
800 MHz AMD Duron(TM) Processor: Performance and Affordability
Responding to the needs of cost-conscious consumers who want a practical solution to performance, Sony is among the first PC manufacturers to incorporate the new 800 MHz AMD Duron mobile processor in a notebook PC. The VAIO notebook encompassing this chip is the PCG-FX210, which features a 10 GB hard drive, 128 MB of SDRAM, a DVD player and built-in floppy drive. With its built-in DVD player, the PCG-FX210 is ideal for consumers seeking a fast, fully-functional and affordable communications and entertainment system in a portable PC.
Encompassing an ATI Rage Mobility video card, the FX210 delivers heightened computing experience by enabling users to maximize multimedia capabilities. With 8 MB SDRAM video memory and AMD's enhanced 3DNow!(TM) multimedia technology, it renders enhanced performance for graphic-intense applications and Internet browsing.
Connectivity and Performance Capabilities
The FX290 and FX210 -- as well as the entire FX product line -- are equipped with integrated 10Base-T/100Base-TX Ethernet ports and V.90 56K modem for quick network connectivity to home, office and abroad. And to facilitate rapid digital video, audio and data transfer among Sony Digital Handycam(R) camcorders, Sony Cyber-shot(R) digital still cameras and other compatible devices, all VAIO notebooks come equipped with Sony's i.LINK(R) (IEEE 1394) digital interface.
Both the PCG-FX290 and the PCG-FX210 come standard with NTSC video out. VAIO FX series products can easily connect to a wide variety of media devices, bringing multimedia presentations and entertainment experiences to a new level.
Sony, in conjunction with Go America(TM), is offering a free wireless modem (valued at up to $480) to those purchasing a VAIO notebook PC through July 31, 2001.
The PCG-FX290, which comes with a Windows(R) Millennium Edition operating system, will have an estimated selling price of about $3,400. Its Windows 2000 counterpart, the PCG-FX290K, will sell for around $3,500. The PCG-FX210 comes with the Windows Millennium Edition operating system and sells for about $1,550. All models ship this month.
For additional information about Sony computer products, visit Sony's Web site at: www.SonyStyle.com.
April 11 - Cell Phone Service Costs Drop 0.3 Percent in March. Unlike the roller coaster ups and downs of stock prices, the cost of cell phone service in March continued to descend like a glider, drifting 0.3 percent lower than the average costs in February, according to the latest survey by Econ One, an economic research and consulting firm which studies costs in the wireless industry.
The average monthly cost of service in 25 major cities, across four typical usage plans (30, 150, 300 and 600 minutes) was $38.90 in March. Average costs were down in 16 cities, up in five cities, and unchanged in four.
"For four of the last five months, our survey cost index has varied by less than one percent from month to month," said Charles Mahla, Senior Economist with Econ One. "For some time now, we've been noting that wireless price changes would likely diminish in their swings. It appears that we're now seeing that. Plan changes have slowed, and month-to-month drops in costs have slowed with them."
Two Florida cities showed the greatest percentage increases of the 25 surveyed in March -- Miami up 2.8 percent to $38.99 and Tampa up 1.8 percent to $38.76.
San Francisco had the largest decrease -- 2 percent to $43.34 -- but, even so, it remained the most expensive city surveyed. Minneapolis and Phoenix had the next largest decreases.
"Local cost changes continue to be driven by one or two plan changes rather than sweeping introductions of new pricing schemes," Mahla said. "It doesn't take much in the way of specific plan changes -- one or two small alterations to a plan will do -- to see the kinds of changes in costs we are now witnessing."
The five most expensive cities surveyed in February -- San Francisco, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Boston and New York -- were the most expensive in March, as well.
Atlanta, for the second month running, had the lowest average cost -- down 1.1 percent to $36.43 -- and Phoenix, again, had the second-lowest -- down 1.5 percent to $36.77.
Those who wish to see Econ One's survey in detail, or who would like to be notified by e-mail of future survey results, may visit Econ One's Web site: www.wirelesssurvey.com.
April 11 - PhotoStreak Free Download Provides Greatly Improved State-of-the-Art Image Compression. Compression Engine Technologies Inc., a leader in digital image compression, has introduced two new powerful and easy-to-use products that significantly speed the sending of digital images across the Internet.
"Whether it's to family and friends or an online photo developer, sending high-quality images over the Internet via e-mail has been one of the most frustrating tasks for the average personal user," according to Debbie Michelle, director of product marketing.
"The problem to date has been that the file sizes created by today's high resolution digital cameras and scanners are far larger than can be reasonably sent over still-popular standard dial-up Internet access lines."
In fact, as Internet usage at home has soared to now include 58% of U.S. households, or 162 million Web users, 88% of them are still using modem speeds of 56 Kbps or less. (Source: Nielson/NetRatings). And, according to a recent study by SBC Communications 62%, more than 100 million, of these users are sending photos via e-mail. That's a lot of wasted time waiting for large-file images to upload and download. PhotoStreak has just solved that problem.
PhotoStreak enables people to speed the sending of their photos over the Internet by speeds of 5 to 10 times faster. Sending these photos faster over the Internet leaves more time for other activities online.
PhotoStreak works by significantly compressing the digital image, while maintaining superb visual quality and image size, to a small file size that outdated compression techniques, such as JPEG and GIF, cannot accomplish. PhotoStreak can reduce a 2MB file size to 20 KB (a ratio of 100:1) or smaller while maintaining excellent image quality.
In fact, PhotoStreak can compress some images 200 to 300 times while still maintaining acceptable image quality. PhotoStreak utilizes a patented and proprietary technique based upon wavelet compression.
A comparable quality JPEG file for the same image would be 5 to 10 times larger (around 100 KB to 200 KB) than a PhotoStreak file.
Another benefit of PhotoStreak's smaller file size is that it consumes significantly less storage space. PhotoStreak images consume only about 20% of the storage space that similar-quality JPEG or GIF images require.
PhotoStreak, an Internet Photo Accelerator, is a free full-featured download for personal use that allows for significant compression of digital images. PhotoStreak Pro is an enhanced version that is available for use by corporations and government users for $29.95. Both are available for download at www.photostreak.com.
April 11 - Intel Itanium Processor Shows e-Commerce Security Performance. Intel Corporation announced today that the Intel(R) Itanium(TM) processor shows a significant increase in security transaction performance measured against competitive offerings, as verified in independent lab findings.
"The lack of speed and reliability in security is one of the roadblocks to large-scale adoption of e-Commerce," said Mike Fister, vice president and general manager, Intel Enterprise Platforms Group, in a keynote address here. "Today's news confirms that Intel's Itanium architecture delivers the performance to enable scalable and protected e-Business transactions."
In a document published by Cordiant, the 800 MHz Itanium processor showed a greater than 10 fold advantage in processing secure transactions over existing, RISC-based processors. For example, a server configured with four Itanium processors performed more than 1,376 security transactions without hardware acceleration, compared to 114 transactions achieved on a comparably configured Sun Enterprise 420R system.
"Itanium processor-based systems achieve the best 4-processor security performance results we have ever seen in our labs," said Eric Packman, chief technology officer, Cordiant.
Designed to address the requirements of high-end servers and workstations, the Itanium processor is the first in a family of 64-bit processors from Intel, and the most significant new development in Intel microprocessor architecture since the 32-bit 386 processor was introduced in 1985. Platform release of the Itanium processor is expected later this quarter, with initial deployments from several server and workstation manufacturers.
The Itanium processor's floating point performance, 64-bit addressing, large cache, and high bandwidth bus are well suited for the high performance servers and workstations used in e-Commerce security and transaction processing, large databases and data-mining, mechanical design, and scientific and technical computing applications.
Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products.
Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com.
April 10 - Fujifilm's First FinePix Digital Cameras For 2001 Now Available. Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. today announced the first nationwide shipments of the two newest additions to its FinePix digital camera line -- the stylish and versatile FinePix 6800 Zoom, with its new 3.3 million-sensor Super CCD and High Definition Color Processing Technology for more colorful pictures with resolutions as high as six million pixels, and the FinePix 2300 digital camera, the latest in Fujifilm's popular line of entry-level FinePix digital photography products.
"A leader in digital photography innovation, quality and design, Fujifilm offers a wide choice of imaging products for photographers of all levels," said Darin Pepple, Brand Manager, Consumer Digital Products, Consumer Markets Division, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. "Residing on either end of the consumer camera spectrum, we've incorporated a number of today's most in-demand options -- advanced interconnectivity, a user-friendly interface and the ability to produce exceptional prints -- into both the FinePix 6800 Zoom and FinePix 2300 models, meeting the wide range of needs of today's consumer. Whether users desire album-quality prints, E-mail sharing abilities or quick and easy image-downloading to a home PC or Macintosh(R), Fujifilm's line of FinePix digital cameras has a product for everyone."
With suggested list prices of $899 and $279 respectively, the FinePix 6800 Zoom and the FinePix 2300 offer these useful features and functions:
FinePix 6800 Zoom
With a body conceived by F.A. Porsche, the same designer that brought the world the distinctive and timeless look of the classic Porsche(R) 911(TM) sports car, the FinePix 6800 Zoom features a new 3.3 million-sensor Super CCD, High Definition Color Processing Technology and a host of useful features that will appeal to a wide range of consumers and businesspeople.
For example, users can attach 30-second voice notes to each picture, record up to 160 seconds of AVI video with sound, communicate, live, with loved ones, friends and business associates online via the camera's videoconferencing capabilities and record up to 60 minutes(a) of audio.
As a complement to all these digital convergence features, the camera ships with a PC-Sync cradle for videoconferencing, quick and easy image transfer and the recharging of the camera's battery.
Designed with the first-time digital photographer in mind, the FinePix 2300 offers point-and-shoot convenience with a 2.1 megapixel CCD sensor for simple, quality picture taking with outstanding color.
The FinePix 2300 mimics the lightweight, user-friendly design of its MX-1200 and FinePix 1300 predecessors, allowing users to work its main functions via a few controls on the back of the camera. Aside from the 1.6-inch color, liquid crystal display -- on which the user can view the subject both before and after the picture is taken -- the most recognizable feature of the FinePix 2300 is its function control dial. This dial allows users to navigate effortlessly through the camera's menu system for easy access to the various shooting, playback, five flash and six white balance modes. If a consumer is comfortable around a 35mm film camera, he or she will certainly feel comfortable with the FinePix 2300.
Not to be overshadowed by its own functionality is the FinePix 2300's ability to take great pictures. Endowed with Fujifilm's Advanced Color Processing Technology, the FinePix 2300 produces images with vibrant color and detail at resolutions as high as 1600 x 1200.
In addition, so the user can get the most out of his or her pictures, both the FinePix 6800 Zoom and FinePix 2300 -- as well as all new FinePix digital cameras -- now provide easy entrance to the Internet imaging world through a newly designed FinePixViewer software program. At the click of a few buttons, the FinePixViewer will link users directly to the World Wide Web for answers to frequently asked questions, picture taking tips, support utilities, updated drivers and the receipt of periodic and pertinent promotional announcements from Fujifilm.
Additional provided software for the FinePix 6800 Zoom include DP Editor and Exif Launcher, Adobe's PhotoDeluxe(R) Home Edition 4.0, ActiveShare(TM), VideoImpression(TM), QuickTime(R) and NetMeeting(R). The FinePix 2300 ships with Adobe PhotoDeluxe(R) Home Edition 4.0 software.
For more information on Fujifilm's FinePix 6800 Zoom, the FinePix 2300 and other Fujifilm digital imaging products, consumers can visit the company's Web site www.fujifilm.com.
April 10 - SCSI Trade Association Adds Ultra320 SCSI Technology Resource to Web Site. The SCSI Trade Association (STA), the member-run industry group, established to support and promote SCSI technology, announced today that its new Ultra320 SCSI web site is online and available to visitors.
Included on the Ultra320 SCSI page are the trademark licensing program, a white paper and an FAQ. In addition, as STA member companies and non-member SCSI vendors make Ultra320 SCSI products available to the market, the products will be listed in the product section of the STA web site under Ultra320 SCSI, where a resident search engine will quickly find the requested product. All products are listed under the SCSI generation (Ultra 160, Ultra 320), vendor name and product category, with a link to the vendor. The search engine also locates SCSI documents and topics throughout the site.
Ultra320 SCSI is the seventh and newest generation of SCSI technology. It operates at 320 MBytes/sec, doubling the data rate of the previous generation, Ultra160 SCSI. An important new feature of Ultra320 SCSI is paced data transfer, which includes packetization, Quick Arbitrate and Selection (QAS), a free running clock, driver pre-compensation, skew compensation and training patterns at the start of a transfer series. All Ultra320 SCSI devices support packetized protocol. Additional features are domain validation and the optional receiver Adjustable Active Filter (AAF). Expander communications techniques have also been defined.
Paul Aloisi, president of the SCSI Trade Association, commented, "Ultra320 SCSI is the most powerful and highly featured SCSI generation to date. The first generation of SCSI products ran at five MBytes/sec, in contrast to the current speed of 320 MBytes/sec. SCSI data rates have increased over the years to stay abreast of disk drive speeds. Ultra320 SCSI features make it the most versatile and flexible high-end storage I/O technology on the market and with its popularity and large installed base, we expect it to continue to serve the needs of the industry for many years to come."
For more information, visit their web site at www.scsita.org.
April 10 - United Messaging details 'Seven Deadly Sins' of Computer Virus Protection. Computer viruses - those evil multiplying bits of code that arrive via e-mail and cripple your entire computer system -- are getting worse.
According to the Network World Messaging Newsletter, the U.S. "virus infection rate" now stands at approximately one in 400 e-mails. It is estimated that about 12% of Fortune 500 organizations have had to completely restore their messaging systems as the direct result of a virus attack -- an average of twice a year.
For many companies, the cost and turmoil creates a near-insurmountable hurdle for overloaded IT departments as they struggle to keep systems up and running. As a service to executives and managers, United Messaging, a West Chester, PA-based messaging and e-mail outsourcing provider has created a list of what it has found to be "the Seven Deadly Sins of computer viruses."
Sin No. 1 Letting down your guard
Don't assume "it can't happen to you." Implement a layered defense and ensure that it is updated regularly -- and that someone monitors that defense 24x7. It's vital that your mail server be located behind a firewall.
Make sure antiviral filtering and virus scanning is up and running on your mail server(s) and ensure they are constantly updated in real time. Frequent, timely updates are essential - a system that was updated last week is typically out-of-date when it comes to the latest bug.
Make sure antivirus software is installed on every desktop. Even if software is updated, a virus may slip through and be dormant until activated by opening the file, so scan all saved files regularly.
Sin No. 2 Security Shortcuts
Don't cut corners when it comes to security. Many organizations justify low expenses for security by pointing to their blemish-free record of security incidents. Ask what they use to detect break-ins or infections and the real blemish becomes obvious. All network components, applications, and servers should be monitored. Use secure logging and make sure you audit it daily.
Sin No. 3 Communication Failure
Don't assume all IT staff knows your system and processes for combating viruses. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will maximize coordination and minimize duplication. Since speed is critical, you don't want people guessing about what the next step should be. Make sure your team knows what tools and resources are at their disposal.
For a widespread event, make sure end-users are able to communicate with the incident response team in a pre-defined automated manner. Communicate the team members, processes, and procedures to all employees.
Sin No. 4 No Backup Plan
Expect the unexpected. Don't wait until tomorrow. If a virus does destroy your files, you'll need recent backups of vital files to recover. Viruses can strike at an inconvenient moment, despite your best efforts. It's imperative that you consistently backup your files and store them offline.
Sin No. 5 End-user Dependence
Don't assume your employees, as skilled as they may be, can keep you out of trouble. Employees may be empowered, trustworthy, dependable and knowledgeable, but it only takes one error or omission to open the door to a serious virus. The best defense is to make sure that it never becomes an end-user problem.
Push the antivirus software out to users and log them. Don't depend on users to be diligent about security. Users who access free mail accounts from inside the corporate network can introduce many infections. Prohibit access to unsecured systems through policy and tools -- and don't forget communication and training.
Sin No. 6 Maintaining a Closed Door Policy
Don't ask, don't tell, is no way to deal with the issue. Don't keep your security procedures a secret. In many organizations, security is someone else's problem. Make it everyone's responsibility. Clearly define the rules and make sure everyone follows them.
Spell out the consequences. Help users view security from a personal prospective with the example driven from the top. When it's part of the corporate culture, the mission becomes possible.
Sin No. 7 Taking on More Than You Can Handle
Don't overburden your already frenetic IT staff with frustrating e-mail virus issues. Consider outsourcing your corporate e-mail to a messaging specialist for better economic impact, reliability, and tighter security.
Even large companies now find it a daunting task to keep up with the necessary technologies, measures, updates, and audits. Outsourcing makes good financial sense and often leads to improved messaging strategies that, in the end, may lead to a more rewarding business afterlife.
United Messaging will continually update this list and post it on www.unitedmessaging.com.
April 9 - LaCie Shipping Industry's Highest-Capacity FireWire Desktop Hard Drive. Known worldwide for combining its leadership in mass storage solutions with the latest advancements in FireWire(R) technology, LaCie has announced the availability of the industry's highest-capacity FireWire drive.
The 3.5" 7200-rpm desktop hard drive provides up to 75GB of capacity -- enough to store more than five hours of DV video, more than 100 CD-Audio images or more than a mile-high stack of text documents.
By enhancing the external 75GB drives with a built-in FireWire controller, LaCie provides digital video, music and digital imaging professionals with a secure storage capability. The compact high-speed drive also provides a fast and efficient means of exchanging large files such as high-resolution photos and digital videos with no risk of quality loss.
The LaCie 75GB FireWire HDD can be quickly and easily connected to the native FireWire ports that are standard with Macintosh(R) G3, G4 and iMac DV systems as well as PCs incorporating Windows(R) 98 Second Edition or Windows 2000. Visit LaCie's Web site at www.lacie.com.
Designed to match the performance of the leading FireWire or 1394-equipped computers, the LaCie 75GB drives have been optimized to provide an access time of 9ms and a sustained transfer rate of up to 14 Mbytes per second. The drives have an enclosed, integrated universal power supply and two 6-pin IEEE-1394 connections. There is no need for any external power supplies.
Available now through authorized resellers, the LaCie FireWire hard drives include the LaCie 1394 cable, an internal international power supply for worldwide use, and LaCie's Silverlining drive utility software for MacOS environments. Silverlining 98 is also included for Windows 98SE (Second Edition). Pricing was not announced.
Visit LaCie's Web site at www.lacie.com.
April 9 - Industry Executives Predict a Major Battle Among Video Game Hardware Manufacturers. According to a new report from DFC Intelligence, executives in the interactive entertainment industry are gearing up for the most competitive video game hardware battle ever.
The report, Executive Interview Series: The State of the Game Market 2001, is based on interviews DFC conducted with some of the leading executives in the video game industry. Combined, the executives interviewed for the report, represented companies that accounted for nearly 75% of U.S. interactive entertainment software revenue in 2000.
A primary topic of the interviews was the market potential for the leading new game systems, the PlayStation 2, the X-Box, the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance. Unlike what DFC has found in past industry surveys, many executives felt that the game industry could be split among 3 or more hardware systems. There was significant disagreement on how well each hardware platform will do over the next several years.
The PlayStation 2, from Sony (NYSE:SNE), was the favorite among industry insiders to be the market share leader. This was the despite the fact that many executives are extremely disappointed with Sony's handling of the PlayStation 2. Nevertheless, the main difference seems to be between those that think the PlayStation 2 will win the hardware race by a "country mile," and the executives that think the market could be fairly evenly split among three game systems.
The interviewees were less certain about the GameCube, from Nintendo (OTC:NTDOY). The less than unanimous consensus was that the GameCube would be the number two system behind the PlayStation 2. Most respondents felt that Nintendo would focus almost exclusively on the 6-14 year old audience and let the PlayStation 2 and X-Box fight it out for the over 14 demographic.
The greatest area of disagreement was over the outlook for the X-Box, from Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT). Many respondents hope that a large new entrant like Microsoft will take the game industry to the next level. Other executives came outright and said they thought that the X-Box would be a failure. There was some significant concern about Microsoft's lack of marketing ability for this type of consumer product. Other respondents were worried about Microsoft's track record of not getting products right the first time around.
There was also some substantial concern about whether the X-Box and GameCube would actually be released in 2001. Many respondents thought the launch date of one, or both, of these systems may slip to 2002. Even if these products ship in 2001, they may ship in very limited quantities due to manufacturing shortages.
The DFC web site can be found at www.dfcint.com.
April 9 - Motorola Unveils Strategy to Provide Embedded Bluetooth Computing Solutions. Motorola Computer Group, a business unit of Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Monday announced its strategy to provide Bluetooth wireless technology for the first time on embedded infrastructures running on a choice of three operating systems (Linux(R), VxWorks(R) and Windows 2000(R)) and two architecture processors (PowerPC(R) and Intel(R)).
This wide computing choice, offered on Motorola's flexible and powerful embedded Bluetooth computing platforms, will help provide the infrastructure needed for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to add wireless communication capabilities to stationary equipment including MRI machines, desktop printers and copiers.
Motorola's platform provides OEMs with a one-stop-shop Bluetooth solution. As a result, equipment manufacturers gain a competitive edge with faster time-to-market, decreased material costs and increased revenue opportunities.
Motorola is a leader in the development and implementation of Bluetooth wireless technology, with an extensive company-wide roadmap of Bluetooth products and as a member of the Promoter group, which leads the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
Motorola's commitment to integrating innovative solutions will help spread the adoption of Bluetooth wireless technology. With Motorola's new embedded Bluetooth computing solutions, equipment manufacturers will now have a wider choice in the computing platforms they use to design Bluetooth capabilities, without having to design and manufacture these platforms themselves.
They will also be able to get the latest Bluetooth products to market faster by purchasing the embedded computing platforms already configured for their needs.
"The Internet's phenomenal growth has been the driving force of the wireless network, and we can expect to repeat this growth phenomenon with Bluetooth," said Dr. Jeff Harris, director of research and system architecture, cross-industry business unit, Motorola Computer Group.
"In fact, analysts estimate that the total market potential for Bluetooth wireless technology infrastructure could approach 100 million units per year by 2005.
"Our customers who are building equipment in the medical, printing and imaging markets see Bluetooth wireless technology as a competitive advantage and a way to set themselves apart in their industries. Over the next year, we will work closely with them to develop our platforms to their equipment specifications to help bring these products to market."
Motorola will be exhibiting an embedded single-board computer enabled with Bluetooth wireless technology at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco, April 10-12, in booth 1302.
Motorola will demonstrate printing and remote access to the user interface of an embedded computer over a Bluetooth wireless link. Other possible Bluetooth applications lie in the medical market. For example, Bluetooth wireless technology can be included in diagnostic equipment to help provide physicians with immediate access to their patients' test or treatment information.
Patient information can be wirelessly transferred to the stationary diagnostic machine, eliminating manual input errors, increasing patient accuracy and providing the doctor added convenience.
"As these medical equipment and printer applications demonstrate, Bluetooth wireless technology goes way beyond traditional wireless networking," said Jorge Magalhaes, vice president and director of marketing, cross-industry business unit, Motorola Computer Group.
"Simply put, our infrastructure solutions are the other side of your Bluetooth connection. We're excited to help take Bluetooth to another level by enabling OEMs to help develop these 'back-end' Bluetooth devices in their stationary equipment."
With this new initiative, Motorola will collaborate with OEMs throughout the year and anticipates the first Bluetooth wireless technology platforms to be available early in 2002.
Motorola Inc. can be found on the Web at www.motorola.com.
April 9 - Web Becomes Active 'Mall That Never Sleeps'. Despite widespread talk of setbacks in the dot-com revolution, the Web is surprisingly successful at convincing users to part with their money, according to a new Internet study released today.
The online research, conducted for the Unilever Interactive Brand Center by Cyber Dialogue, found that about three-quarters of men and women say they will make purchases online if they browse for items there in the first place. E-shoppers in general seem to enjoy shopping; they logged onto the Web an average of 63 times this past year to either browse or make product purchases. In addition, more than one in four shoppers (28%) say the Internet makes them shop more often, while one in three women (33%) say they usually exceed their shopping budget online.
The Unilever E-Shopping Report - which examines the shopping habits of active online users, primarily women - identifies four prototypical online shoppers: the Bargain Hunter, the Destination Shopper, the Avid Shopper and the Impulse Shopper. E-consumers were asked to classify themselves after reading descriptions of the four shopper types.
The study finds that most shoppers, no matter which group they fall into, make purchases about one-third of the time they go shopping online. Yet not all online shoppers shop equally. Those who shop online most often tend to make more purchases than other shoppers. As a result, certain online shoppers are more apt to buy than others.
"The E-Shopping Report provides consumer feedback on the Web with the goal of making it a friendly and useful place for women, who are our primary customers," said Mark Olney, Vice President of the Unilever Interactive Brand Center (IBC), a unit responsible for developing interactive strategies for Unilever brands. "As one of the world's largest consumer products companies, our vision is to use the Web to improve the everyday lives of consumers as they move to the Internet," he added.
According to the study, which looks primarily at women, two of the four shopper types - Bargain Hunters and Impulse Shoppers - are "born to shop" and could be the most valuable segments for the widest variety of shopping sites. Impulse Shoppers are the smallest group, but the most frequent shoppers. They browsed an average of 92 times in 2000 and made purchases on 32 of those occasions times. Bargain Hunters are also frequent online shoppers, having browsed an average of 89 times last year, and/or made purchases on about 30 of those occasions. Both Bargain and Impulse Shoppers are promotion-sensitive; more than 60% of both types of shoppers are drawn to sites after hearing commercials or advertising.
Avid Shoppers say they love to shop, but did less shopping than others. They browsed an average of 59 times last year, and made purchases 21 times. Destination Shoppers, who shop when they "know what I want and where to get it," browse and buy far less often - they browsed 27 times last year and made purchases on 10 occasions.
The study also found that the Internet has made e-shoppers more price-sensitive than ever and has motivated them to do more research prior to purchasing. Brands are a strong influencing factor (90% of men say brands are "important" when shopping online, compared to 82% of women).
The third in a series of reports on women's Web use, the report takes an in-depth look at shopping segments both online and offline. It provides information on how frequently Web users shop and buy items, features that annoy them, and views on how Web sites can develop trust among shoppers. It also sheds light on the changing habits of e-shoppers, including those who shop online but purchase in brick-and-mortar stores.
The study also found that the Internet is transforming America into a nation of nocturnal shoppers. Results indicate that nearly half of Web users (46% of women and 47% of men) say they've become late-night shoppers, using the Internet as "the mall that never closes."
While many shop late at night, there is a reverse trend of "sneak shopping" taking place during work hours, particularly among men. Nearly one in three men and one in five women "sneak shop" while on the job, thus earning money while simultaneously spending it.
"The survey suggests that the Internet is giving late-night TV serious competition for the attention of millions of shoppers," added Olney of the IBC.
Report profiles e-shoppers
As for shopping styles:
-- Destination Shoppers: The largest group of online shoppers, Destination Shoppers shop online far less often than other online shoppers, but when they do, they are only slightly more likely to buy something, in spite of knowing what they want. One-third of e-shoppers (34%) placed themselves in this category. Ease of use and convenience are of utmost importance to these shoppers.
-- Bargain Hunters: They form the second largest group of shopper types, representing 30% of online shoppers. Nearly half of Bargain Hunters (48%) are mothers with children under 18 living at home. Bargain Hunters are also more drawn to visit shopping sites by offers of free shipping or delivery, banner ads with discount offers or message board recommendations. Personalized shopping sites don't add value to their online experience, as 57% of Bargain Hunters have stated.
-- Avid Shoppers: The third largest group, representing 22% of e-shoppers, consists of avid, or recreational, shoppers. They shopped an average of 59 times last year and bought something 21 times, frequently arriving at shopping sites they have used in the past. They are the most brand-conscious (88% say they buy specific brands online), and they are most apt to use search engines to find products and online services (57%).
-- Impulse Shoppers: The smallest group consists of Impulse Shoppers, comprising only 13% of online shoppers. About half of Impulse Shoppers (49%) tend to shop more often than the other shopper types, and nearly one-third of Impulse Shoppers (32%) tend to spend more money in any given month. They respond to free shipping/delivery, banner ads, email notifications of special offers or discounts, and personalization features.
Purchasing on the Web is "easier".
According to the report, active Web users have a strong preference for shopping online. Two-thirds of online shoppers say that purchasing products online is easier than it is offline. One-third of e-shoppers say customer service on the Internet is superior to its offline counterpart, and a majority of e-shoppers (77%) say that product or service information is more helpful online than in stores. E-shoppers report that online shelves tend to be better stocked, and personal shopping assistants pop up when needed - a service preferred by more men than women.
Cyber Dialogue conducted the survey online with 1,494 highly active online users (994 women and 500 men). The survey was conducted from January 10 to January 13, 2001. According to Cyber Dialogue, women currently comprise 52% of the U.S. adult population and half (49%) of the adult U.S. online population.
Unilever can be found on the Web at www.unilever.com.
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