Compaq will signal to the troops this week that OpenVMS continues to be key in its enterprise strategy, albeit with increasingly tight ties to Windows NT. At the Decus 98 user conference in Los Angeles, Compaq will unveil version 7.2 of the OpenVMS operating system it inherited when it acquired Digital Equipment. When it ships in January the operating system will include native Com services for distribution of applications across OpenVMS and NT. This support fleshes out the joint announcement in mid-September, where Compaq and Microsoft said they would work on performance, scalability and availability of OpenVMS clients, servers and clusters used with NT. Compaq will likewise announce Advanced Server 7.2 for OpenVMS, which provides network connectivity to NT and lets NT desktops access OpenVMS data and applications. Analysts said the moves signal a slow exit strategy off VMS. ?They?re saying ?Let?s provide a reasonable 10- to 20-year migration off,? said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata.
Internet Week, 5 October
Chips with everything
The wife of a cybernetics professor is to be fitted with a computer chip implant in an experiment which should enable her to sense his strong emotions. Kevin and Irena Warwick are hoping to use the devices to develop telepathic communications. Professor Warwick, an expert in cybernetics, recently had a computer chip implanted in his arm to allow him to switch on lights automatically. He is now looking at electronic communication directly from one person to another. He believes the technology for such an implant will be available before 2000. If the plan to link the couple?s central nervous systems is successful, Mrs Warwick?s chip will receive signals every time her husband has strong feelings, including when he thinks about her.
The Times, October 5
You could gain an MA in ET
The University of Washington in Seattle announced the creation of a graduate program to train students in the search for extraterrestrial life. Students on the doctorate course in Astrobiology will compare extreme environments on Earth to those on other planets such as Mars and Europa, one of Jupiter?s moons. The program will begin in the fall semester of 1999, and is funded from a five-year $2m US government grant.
Wired News (US), 2 October
Email via payphones planned in BT initiative
British Telecom has announced plans to introduce multi-media payphones that will enable people to send and receive email without a computer. The first thousand multi-media payphones will be installed within the M25 in December. BT said it needed to start the service with a ?robust device?. Accordingly, the first systems will not have pull-out keyboards, but will instead display a picture of a keyboard on an LCD screen. Users will type letters by touching them.
The Guardian, 1 October
Call for government to bolster Bug Buster campaign
The computer industry?s national training body is to press the government to fund an advertising campaign to resuscitate Tony Blair?s Bug Buster programme. Only 150 business people have signed up for the #30m scheme, which was set up to train 20,000 people from small and medium-sized firms to tackle the millennium bug in the UK within six months. The IT National Training Organisation will meet with the Department for Employment and Education over the next few days to discuss a rescue plan. ?We need consolidated advertising and a single message. The campaign does not necessarily have to be a national campaign, but we need to give companies a strong message if we are to be effective,? the ITNTO said.
Computer Weekly, 1 October
Sun insiders overruled on Java contract query
Although Sun Microsystems insiders questioned the wording of the contract to license Java to Microsoft, a company executive ordered them to stop worrying, court documents reveal.
In the continuing legal battle between Sun and Microsoft, Microsoft attorney Charles Quackenbush quoted email from Alan Baratz, president of Sun?s Java software division, that read: ?You all ought to stop reading the contract.? Sun sued Microsoft last October, accusing it of illegally tampering with Java. Quackenbush added that a Sun executive had written the word Wintel (referring to the Microsoft-Intel duopoly) on a document, and then drew a circle around it and a line through it ? this supposedly indicating Sun?s strategy for Java. One of Sun?s legal strategists deemed the doodle a trade secret and edited it out from the document.
PC Week (US), September 30
Preparing for the millennium meltdown
No-one will get through the millennium date change totally unaffected, but there are some steps you can take to minimise the damage. It?s a good idea to keep all your financial papers in order, so that you can easily identify discrepancies. Keep hold of your utilities bills, so that you have a record of the meter readings. Records are held on computer at your GP?s surgery. Keep a record of any drugs you receive by repeat prescription. If you receive a credit or debit with a ?00? expiry date, keep all transaction slips in a safe place and check them off against a statement.
Computeractive, 24 September
Netscape tunes up in scramble for website traffic
In an effort to drive traffic to its Netcenter website, Netscape is rolling out the kind of aggressive strategy it has often attributed to its rival, Microsoft. Netscape has developed software that ties Microsoft?s Internet Explorer browser to Netcenter. Netscape TuneUp for IE is an Active X control that runs on top of IE. Netcenter will offer it for free this month. Once they download TuneUp, IE users can choose from a number of Netcenter services, including Web Mail and a software-updating service. Microsoft?s aggressive marketing tactics may have made it easier for Netscape to try such moves. ?Netscape can get away with things that Microsoft wouldn?t,? said analyst Barry Parr, of International Data Corp.
TechWeb, 1 October
Token Ring ready to take a spin at high speed
Network managers finding it hard to stick with Token Ring are about to get a good reason not to abandon the technology. The major Token Ring vendors ? IBM, Olicom and Madge Networks ? are each delivering products that use the newly standardised HSTR (High Speed Token Ring) specification. HSTR, which is fully compatible with existing 4Mbps and 16Mbps Token-Ring equipment, transmits data at 100Mbps.
IBM will kick off the HSTR onslaught with a multispeed 100/16/4Mbps Token Ring adapter card for both desktop and server applications. Olicom will ship an HSTR NIC and two-port switch modules, while Madge plans to release adapters and switch modules.
PC Week US Online, 1 October
Euro to spark high street chaos
Britain?s high street shops face chaos as soon as the Euro is launched, the Bank of England has warned. A secret report authorised by governor Eddie George predicts pandemonium and panic next January 11 as 11 EU states switch over to the new currency. The crisis is looming because many companies? computers will be unable to handle the sudden switch to dealing in euros over just one weekend. If they freeze, it will have a domino effect with one company failing to pay another, and banks could collapse. A Bank of England source said: ?This is highly sophisticated economics but it will affect everybody, including Sun readers.?
The Sun, 1 October
Microsoft wants to have it taped
Microsoft has subpoenaed hours of taped interviews with Netscape executives and engineers made by two professors researching a book on browser development. The authors, Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT?s Sloan School of Management, and David Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School, are fighting the subpoena. Microsoft wants to use the material to show that Netscape?s own business decisions, not Microsoft?s unfair practices, caused Netscape?s browser market share to falter. The authors? book, Competing on Internet Time should be published next month ? at about the same time as the US Department of Justice?s antitrust case against Microsoft is due to begin. The book will catalogue what Netscape did well and didn?t do so well. ?The reality is they had some difficulties in browser development and made some mistakes,? said Cusumano. ?We try to examine how the very fast pace of the Internet was affecting the processes of strategy-making and product development.?
Computerworld Online News, 30 September
Phoebe fails as Acorn sheds jobs
Acorn Computer has abandoned its Phoebe second-generation schools PC because it believes the product will be forced off the market within six months of its launch. A company spokesman said: ?The problem was that it would have had a retail cost about twice as high as for a comparable PC.? The announcement of Phoebe?s demise was accompanied by news that Acorn is to shed 75 jobs, reducing staff to 100. Acorn says the decision to drop Phoebe is consistent with its restructuring to focus on digital TV and thin-client markets.
Electronic Times, 28 September
Nortel drops a bombshell
Nortel Networks may not have meant to drop a bomb at its New York analysts? meeting. But intentional or not, the dust from the explosion has yet to settle. According to analysts present, at the end of an upbeat presentation Wes Scott, chief financial officer, said Nortel?s revenue growth would not meet third-quarter projections. Rather than the 20% or so that analysts had been led to expect, Scott admitted that growth would only be in the low double-digits. The comments touched off a wave of selling that knocked almost $4bn, or 12%, off the value of the company before trading was halted at 1pm on Tuesday [29 September]. The company has been left with the task of restoring its reputation with investors. ?It?s terrible handling. People are going to use the phrase management credibility,? one New York analyst said. According to those at the meeting, Mr Scott made only a brief statement, but then was surrounded by 20 to 25 analysts trying to get more details.
Financial Times, 1 October
Better to be safe than sorry
Anyone worried about the security of ecommerce might find a nuclear bomb-proof server room slightly excessive, but that is exactly what London-based company AL Digital, the company behind the Apache-SSL secure Web server, is offering host servers at The Bunker, an ex-military base that was formerly a key British Ministry of Defense communications centre. The company said the facility had secure chambers buried deep underground and communications capacity available on tap. ?We feel physical security is often overlooked,? said AL Digital director Adam Laurie. ?Hacking and cracking are not the major risks anymore because of strong encryption; where you?re vulnerable is at the physical point at which you decrypt the data.? Laurie said servers based at The Bunker would be protected against electronic eavesdropping, physical intrusion, and electromagnetic damage ? and a nuclear strike.
Network Week (US), 30 September
? Some stories have been edited for length