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Volume 1, Issue 7: Wednesday, December 15, 1999

  • "A Confident Europe in Countdown to Y2K"
    International Herald Tribune (12/15/99) P. 1; Buerkle, Tom

    Europe expects Y2K to have little impact on its critical infrastructure, including the power grid, air traffic control systems, telecommunications, and banking. Although a few problems are likely to affect small and midsize businesses, most of these issues will be delays or errors rather than total failures, the Gartner Group says. "We expect there to be a marginal increase in the hassle factor for computer systems in the next few weeks," says Gartner Group research director Andy Kyte. Action 2000, the British government's computer bug agency, expects glitches in about 5 percent of data functions, which is similar to the level of problems large companies have when they deploy new software systems. Britain was among the earliest nations to rank Y2K as a top priority, and British businesses and government agencies have spent about $32.42 billion on remediation, according to Action 2000. Other countries have benefited from the Y2K information that has been disseminated by Britain, the U.S., and the Netherlands. Many experts say Italy is the least Y2K-ready of all the major European nations. "We have been a bit behind, but I think we are catching up to European standards," says Enrico Giacomelli, CEO of Italian software maker Softsand. Eurelectric, the association of European electric companies, says it is increasingly confident that it will be able to maintain power production. Meanwhile, the Financial Services Authority of Britain says banks, brokers, and financial markets should continue to operate smoothly through the date change. Europe's aviation sector has prepared for Y2K and concerns about flying have diminished.
    http://www.iht.com/IHT/TODAY/WED/FPAGE/y2k.2.html

  • "Sun Microsystems Plans to Offer Linux for Its Hardware Line"
    Wall Street Journal (12/15/99) P. B17

    Sun has announced plans to offer a version of Red Hat Linux that runs on its workstations and servers. In the past, Sun has focused on proprietary technology, developing hardware that runs on its own UltraSparc microprocessors and Solaris operating system. However, some Linux users are demanding access to features of UltraSparc-based computers, including high internal data transfer rates and high-end graphics support, says Sun's Herb Hinstorff. Although Sun has encouraged Linux as a Microsoft Windows rival, the company is concerned about Linux competing with Solaris. In response to Linux, Sun has allowed Solaris to run Linux programs without modification, and plans to open Solaris' source code.

  • "Intel to Push 800 MHz"
    PC World Online (12/14/99); Mainelli, Tom

    Intel next week is expected to announce an 800 MHz Pentium III processor and a 750 MHz Pentium III CPU, reclaiming the lead in its battle with Advanced Microprocessor Devices (AMD) to offer the fastest chip on the market. Originally, Intel had not planned to announce the 750 MHz PIII for three more weeks, and had not scheduled the debut of the 800 MHz PIII for months. In November, AMD announced its 750 MHz Athlon processor, now the fastest processor available, two weeks ahead of schedule. Intel is now shipping some of its new processors to PC makers, but experts believe PCs based on the new chips will not be available before January. The competition between Intel and AMD is redefining high-end systems, and speeding the availability of increasingly powerful technology. Compaq is working on a new Presario model, the Presario 5900Z, based on the Athlon-750. AMD has announced plans to release an 800 MHz Athlon in the first half of next year, although experts believe the release will come within a few weeks. Experts predict AMD will release 900 MHz Athlons at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter. Intel and AMD's rivalry is benefiting everyone in the PC market, says Insight 64 chip analyst Nathan Brookwood. High-end users are able to get cutting-edge technology, while other users enjoy the price cuts on existing processors every time a new model is released.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "U.S. to Computer Hackers: Give U.S. a Y2K Break"
    Reuters (12/14/99); Wolf, Jim

    John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, recently pleaded with computer hackers to delay their activities until after the New Year's weekend has passed. Koskinen says that although some hackers feel that they may be doing a public service by breaking into computer systems to highlight their lack of security, it would be better if such activity was put off for a few weeks after the calendar changes to 2000. Authorities are concerned that January 1 will bring hostile cyber attacks from individuals or rogue nations, although the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, which is in charge of fending off cyber attacks, says that it has no direct evidence of any such activity. However, many anti-virus software manufacturers say that people should be prepared for a slew of viruses triggered to go off on January 1. In preparation for this, several federal agencies, including the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Defense Department, are planning to stop their Internet services for a brief period during the New Year's weekend to avoid any possible Y2K-related attacks or other problems.
    http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/19991215/tc/yk_hackers_2.html

  • "Windows 2000 System, Long Awaited and Long Delayed, May Be Complete"
    Wall Street Journal (12/15/99) P. B8; Hamilton, David P.

    Microsoft says it could complete work on Windows 2000 and release the operating system to manufacturers as early as today, although the operating system will not be commercially released until Feb. 17. For months, Microsoft has been saying it is on schedule to release the program to manufacturers by the end of the year, although the date is still not fixed and could be pushed back if glitches appear. Windows 2000, already more than a year overdue, is one of the most complicated software projects ever attempted. The operating system is the core of Microsoft's effort to dominate the Internet computing market. Windows 2000 will be Microsoft's first operating system for high-end server computers, and Microsoft believes Windows 2000 will rival Unix systems in reliability and stability. Windows 2000 will run the Internet and e-commerce applications that are part of Microsoft's Windows DNA 2000 initiative. Microsoft says Windows 2000 will help it overtake companies such as Oracle that make individual e-commerce applications.

  • "E-tailing Is Next Frontier for Logistics Providers"
    Journal of Commerce (12/14/99) P. 1; Atkinson, Helen

    E-commerce vendors, especially startups with little experience, might face an order-fulfillment nightmare this holiday season, experts say. As a result, some e-commerce firms might decide to outsource distribution to logistics providers. U.S. consumers are expected to spend $4 billion online between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1, with 8.6 million households shopping over the Internet, according to Forrester Research. The rise in online shopping means that many packages that customers would ordinarily have transported themselves will need to be shipped instead. Meanwhile, many e-commerce vendors have very little experience with the U.S. delivery network. Many vendors worked to gain market share for the holidays without thinking about order fulfillment or profits, says Forrester analyst Stacie McCullough. This holiday season might motivate online vendors to outsource their order fulfillment to companies such as United Parcel Service and Federal Express, says analyst Mike Simonetto. Catalog retailers such as Fingerhut can also capitalize on the order fulfillment situation, says Simonetto.

  • "Ford Set for Europe Deal With IBM"
    Financial Times (12/14/99) P. 27; Burt, Tim

    Ford intends to extend its European e-commerce services through a new partnership it is expected to announced today with IBM, with their alliance to include supply chain management, purchasing, and vehicle design. The five-year deal would create two accelerated solutions centers (ASCs) in Cologne, Germany, and Essex, England, where about 100 new e-commerce applications would be developed annually. Ford will save about 30 percent a year through the arrangement, based on a pilot test of the program this year in the U.S. The applications created by IBM and Ford would allow closer integration with Ford's Oracle and Microsoft ventures. The IBM deal is the first major effort by Ford to cut down on software development costs in Europe.

  • "AT&T Says It Is Y2K-Ready but Warns of Problems in Rural Areas, Abroad"
    Wall Street Journal (12/15/99) P. B23; Blumenstein, Rebecca

    AT&T announced that its network is ready for any Y2K-related problems, but said customers may have trouble in rural locations or when making international calls. AT&T's John Pasqua believes the company has fully readied itself for almost anything that could occur as a result of Y2K. AT&T's preparations include a contingency plan for widespread power failures. The company has dedicated a minimum of $700 million to make sure its 285 million lines of code will not encounter any problems. However, AT&T may not be able to avoid all problems because the global telecom network consists of multiple interconnected networks. AT&T and other carriers route calls to hundreds of other carriers after getting them from regional Bells and other local telcos. These telcos, particularly ones in rural areas and high-risk countries, have caused concern for AT&T officials. The company is primarily worried about countries that have not sufficiently invested in Y2K compliance, according to Pasqua. But Pasqua said 90 percent of countries called most often are ready.

  • "Customer Service Site Looks to New Technology For 'Answers'"
    E-Commerce Times (12/09/99); Hillebrand, Mary

    Answers.com, an online customer feedback company, launched a new service Dec. 8 that can answer specific questions based on company information. The new AnswerBase claims to be more efficient than both FAQs lists and email-based customer responses because it instantly gives specific answers to specific questions. Canadian-owned Net Shepherd, which recently bought and relaunched Answers.com, believes it takes customer interaction to a new level. The site works in accordance with a company's existing customer service providers by filtering through customer inquiries, answering those that it can, deferring others to live customer service representatives, and, all the while, learning as it goes. Answers.com says the service will cut down on the number of expensive 800 number calls and emails a company receives.
    http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles/991209-4.shtml

  • "Samsung Signs Compaq Chip Accord"
    Financial Times (12/14/99) P. 27; Burton, John

    Compaq has signed a preliminary agreement with Samsung Electronics to improve Compaq's Alpha chip over the next five years. Next year Samsung will invest $200 million in its subsidiary Alpha Processors to increase Alpha production. The move is part of Samsung's shift toward the non-memory chip business and away from DRAM chips, which are vulnerable to market downturns. Teaming with Compaq will help Samsung learn about developing the non-memory chips that it plans to use in its new digital appliance offerings. For its part, Compaq has agreed to purchase $300 million worth of Alpha chips next year. The two companies say Alpha is the fastest 64-bit chip, and plan to compete with Intel in the market for advanced chips for high-end systems.

  • "Nifty Ways to Leave Your Hard Drive"
    Industry Standard (12/20/99) Vol. 2, No. 38, P. 197; Goodin, Dan

    Exchanging information online has not proven as easy as was hoped, as file sizes, different software, and glitches often slow things down. But a new branch of Web-based services could prove an alternative, and a dozen companies are offering them. The services act as Web-based hard drives, allowing users to store information on the Web instead of on a computer hard drive. X:drive, I-drive.com, and similar firms offer 25 MB of remote disk space for free, and more for a charge, while Netdrive.com offers 100 MB for free and does not require a browser for the user to access files. Companies like Desktop.com and MagicalDesk.com add a number of other services such as email and calendars. However, so far users say the new services are a good start but nowhere near perfect. Creighton University professor Juli-Ann Gasper uses I-drive to post information and to allow her students to drop off assignments; passwords prevent anyone other than Gasper from accessing papers. But she notes that while I-drive lets the students access from anywhere, not just on campus, the system is not really saving them time. Vi Nguyen volunteers for Aid to Children Without Parents, which has offices in California and Vietnam. Staffers used to transfer files using email, but now they use X:drive, which is much easier, though some complain of problems when accessing with older browsers. The services can save downloading time--I-drive even automatically downloads files from its site to a PC during off-hours. A new fee-based service, AtBackup, can automatically back up designated files. However, the market for virtual storage services appears ready to shake out soon, which could mean that the big Web portals end up with the services.
    http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,8036,00.html

  • "Is Intel Loosening Its Hold on Making Crown Jewels?"
    Investor's Business Daily (12/14/99) P. A6; DeTar, James

    Intel has been outsourcing some of its manufacturing to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) since 1997, and might eventually outsource its Pentium manufacturing. Currently, TSMC makes logic chips and chipsets for Intel, and is Intel's only outside chip maker. "Obviously, Intel is the dominant microprocessor company, and they are not outsourcing their microprocessors, but I hope that one day they will," says TSMC Chairman Morris Chang. Outsourcing Pentium production would be a large change for Intel, which bases its business on design and manufacturing. Intel now says it minimizes costs by owning its own facilities, despite the large expense of establishing and maintaining the plants. However, Intel will not rule out the possibility of outsourcing Pentium manufacturing to TSMC "where it makes strategic sense," says Intel's Tom Beermann. Meanwhile, BancBoston Robertson Stephens analyst Sue Billat says it is entirely possible that TSMC will one day make Pentiums, but notes that Intel is unlikely to outsource its cutting-edge technology.
    http://www.investors.com/stories/IF/1999/Dec/14/42.html

  • "The New Laws of Dynamic Pricing"
    Internet World (12/15/99) Vol. 5, No. 35, P. 26; Andrews, Whit

    Dynamic pricing is a growing trend in e-commerce, as technology erases issues such as availability and facilitates negotiation, writes Whit Andrews. Soon every product on the Internet will have flexible pricing, Andrews says, and companies that sell products or services should embrace dynamic pricing while the models are still being formed. Companies should consider the possibility of dynamic pricing for every product, regardless of the product's current popularity. The bidding process helps determine demand for a certain product and prices can be raised or lowered accordingly. Dynamic pricing applies to all categories, Andrews says; eLance, for example, matches contract workers with suitable clients. Another rule Andrews suggest is that companies should structure their data carefully. If prices are not fixed, all of a product's other features should be described in great detail. Buyers want to know exactly what they are getting, and sellers want to target only bidders worth their time, Andrews says. Companies should also look for a new opportunity, forming a new market that includes services that make it invaluable. In addition, a business should consider not only price, but other factors such as availability, freshness, and quality that might appeal to a customer. To ensure that buyer and seller are both satisfied with a transaction, companies should remember to educate their buyers, Andrews says. Another important consideration is allowing bots to access a site. Bots will soon be advanced enough to make small purchases themselves, and sites must organize information concisely to accommodate these software agents. Finally, Andrews suggests that companies waste no time in learning about dynamic pricing. By waiting, Andrews says companies risk winding up like brick-and-mortar firms that were late to embrace the Internet and are now struggling to keep pace with startups.
    Click Here to View Full Article

  • "Streaming Media Goes Mainstream"
    InformationWeek (12/06/99) No. 764, P. 69; Riggs, Brian

    Streaming media is expanding into mainstream business as companies realize that the technology can improve communication and possibly reduce costs. This year companies are expected to spend between $600 million and $700 million on streaming media products, and the amount is expected to jump to $4 billion by 2003, according to Perey Research. Although about 9 percent of U.S. firms now use streaming media on their Web sites or intranets, the figure will reach about 30 percent within a year, Dataquest says. Jacobs Engineering Group uses Vuent's Envision-i real-time visual collaboration platform to allow employees at different locations to work together on complex, 3D diagrams. Instead of waiting for a team member at another office to send CD-ROMs of the latest diagram, engineers and designers at Jacobs can now receive diagrams immediately using streaming media. In addition, Envision-i allows Jacobs to send only the relevant part of the diagram, reducing the size of the files that are exchanged. Faster communication is considered the top benefit of streaming media. The technology is used to train workers, broadcast executive speeches, and move closed-circuit television onto data networks. Streaming media adoption is expected to grow as the technology is incorporated into browser and email software. Lotus tied Microsoft Windows Media Player and RealNetworks' Real Player into Notes R5 messaging and collaboration software in September. Meanwhile, White Pine Software modified its CU-SeeMe videoconferencing software so it can be integrated into Web servers and viewed with media players. However, some IT departments at this time are reluctant to use streaming media because of bandwidth and storage issues.
    http://www.informationweek.com/764/stream.htm

  • "Root Certificate Warning May Rattle Consumers"
    TechWeb (12/10/99); Krochmal, Mo

    Certificates of identification are expiring in Netscape Web browsers prior to Communicator version 4.06, which might cause users to believe they are encountering a Y2K problem. Users will see a warning page that informs them their certificate has expired. The problem does not affect Microsoft Internet Explorer, and is the result of certificates issued from AT&T, VeriSign, and CyberTrust that were issued with five-year expiration dates, most of which are set to expire December 31, 1999. Newer browser programs have certificates with 10-year expiration dates. Forrester Research analyst Carl Howe says, "It's really more of a PR problem than a Y2K problem. Newbies see the message and freak out." The problem can be solved by updating the Web browser.
    http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB19991210S0011