Excite@Home not thrilled with glitch

Excite@Home Inc. recently suffered a server problem that kept a large part of its content and e-mail services inaccessible for more than 48 hours.

Excite@Home provides Internet access to almost two million residential customers, and is now rolling out DSL services. The company also provides more than 6,000 business with access to the Internet. Excite encountered a problem when a backup to its domain name server network went down one night. When the backup system went down, the problem corrupted some crucial data stored on the network. The DNS server is essentially responsible for recognizing a user’s identity and serves as an entry point into Excite’s network. Around 25 per cent of some of the company’s network equipment was affected by the technology mishap, hampering an unknown number of users from accessing its Web site and services. “It’s a problem that should not happen again,” said an Excite spokesperson.

Outlook target of new worms

Security experts are warning that a new variant of the mass-mailing worm “W.32Navidad” virus is out there.

Symantec Corp.’s Antivirus Research Center initially reported the worm, which affects Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook e-mail application, in early November. The first W.32Navidad worm discovered would only launch once and would insert itself in a reply-to-all e-mail messages with attachments in the user’s inbox. A new version has emerged, however, that launches each time the user activates the e-mail program. Symantec also is reporting that it has received a low-risk worm called Afeto. Like Navidad, Afeto comes in through Microsoft Outlook and attaches itself to e-mail. The worm regenerates by fastening itself to e-mail messages and going to a small number of addresses.

CIA fires workers for secret chat room

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recently disclosed that it has fired four employees and disciplined 18 others for taking part in a secret chat room set up inside the intelligence agency’s classified computer systems.

According to the CIA, the “wilful misuse” of its network began in the mid-1980s as an “unofficial users’ group” on the mainframe system the agency was using at the time. As it migrated to new systems, the hidden databases were moved to those machines, the CIA said. It added that about 160 individuals – some of whom have retired or otherwise left the agency – were involved in the unauthorized usage at one time or another. In its public statement, the CIA said an investigation into the matter that began last year “uncovered no [evidence] involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information” through the secret chat room. But, it added, the activities “were a clear and serious violation of the trust expected of all agency employees.”

NEC Crusoe-based laptops recalled

NEC Corp. recently announced it is recalling about 10 per cent of the notebooks it has produced that were based on Crusoe microprocessors from Transmeta Corp. because of a fault inside the chips.

The company began recalling a total of 284 computers based on the TM5600 Crusoe processor due to a problem with cache memory inside the processor itself. A representative for NEC said the company suspected the problem was not due to a fundamental flaw with the processor itself, but with a faulty batch of chips. The faulty cache causes problems when Microsoft’s Windows 2000 OS is loaded onto the machines, said the representative. Transmeta said it was working with NEC on the issue and that the microprocessors NEC is replacing came from a limited manufacturing batch.

Sony will not recall Transmeta-based Vaio

Sony Corp. is not recalling any of its notebooks in the U.S. that have Transmeta Corp.’s Crusoe chip, a spokesperson for a public relations firm working for Sony Electronics Inc. has said.

“There is no recall,” said Danielle Ward, a spokesperson at Mindstorm Communications, which is contracted by Sony Electronics. “We have received no calls on the Sony Vaio C1VN Picturebook.” This comes after NEC Corp. announced it would recall computers based on the TM5600 Crusoe processor due to a problem with memory inside the processor itself. The Sony Vaio C1VN Picturebook is the company’s only model in the U.S. to run on Transmeta’s chip. It uses the TM5600 Crusoe chip with a clock speed of 600MHz. In a statement, Sony said the “anomaly” with the Transmeta chip occurs in rare instances when recovery CDs are used to reinstall the drive image onto their notebook. In a separate statement, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta said the Crusoe microprocessors it is replacing in NEC machines came from a limited manufacturing batch.

Nominations open for CANARIE IWAY Awards

CANARIE Inc., Canada’s Internet development organization, has opened nominations for the sixth annual CANARIE IWAY Awards.

The CANARIE IWAY Awards honour individuals and groups that have contributed to this country’s information society. Recipients are the visionaries and inventors behind Canada’s advanced broadband technology innovations – they see the future, create the future and develop it to ensure that Canada’s information society grows and prospers in a way which provides advantages for all Canadians, the organization said. CANARIE IWAY Award winners are nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of information and communications professionals from across Canada. Nominations close at midnight EST on Jan. 19, 2001. Nomination forms can be found at www.canarie.ca/iway.

IBM invests $150 million in Quebec plant

IBM has announced it will invest approximately $150 million in its high-tech assembly plant in Bromont, Que. in 2000/2001. This announcement is part of the company’s previously-announced US$5 billion expansion of worldwide capacity for its growing semiconductor business.

This investment in Bromont is intended to help IBM meet its growing customer demand in semiconductor-related products and services. IBM also plans to add 400 new employees in Bromont in 2001, bringing Bromont’s total workforce to approximately 3,400 people, an all-time high. Bromont is IBM’s largest microchip assembly facility worldwide. It performs the majority of IBM’s value-added internal assembly and test operations for its most technologically-complex products. Tens of millions of chip packages were produced in Bromont in 1999, making IBM Bromont one of Canada’s major exporters.

Andersen Consulting changes name

On Jan. 1, 2001, the global management and technology consulting organization Andersen Consulting will change its name to Accenture.

“We are a very different organization today than we were when we formed Andersen Consulting back in 1989, so adopting a new name and brand identity is a logical next step in our growth strategy,” said Joe W. Forehand, managing partner and CEO of Andersen Consulting. Accenture is a coined word that connotes putting an accent or emphasis on the future, the company said. The name change follows an independent arbitrator’s August ruling in favour of Andersen Consulting in its arbitration with Andersen Worldwide and Arthur Andersen. Under the terms of the ruling, Andersen Consulting was excused from any further obligations to Andersen Worldwide and Arthur Andersen, including any obligation to make termination payments, and given until Dec. 31, 2000 to adopt a new name.

Older Canadians surfing more

Media Metrix Canada recently released a report at the Canadian Advertising Research Foundation (CARF) breakfast series about the on-line behaviour patterns of Canadian surfers aged 55 plus.

Presently one of the smallest age groups on-line, surfers age 55 plus represent just seven per cent of all visitors to the Web, with a total of 837,000 unique visitors. However this group has grown steadily and rapidly over the last year, increasing 41.6 per cent since January. During September of this year, surfers age 55 plus visited the Web or used digital media applications on average nearly 16 different days in the month, viewing over 570 pages each. That is more than the total Canada at home average and much more than any other age group. This amount of time spent on the Web may indicate that surfers in this age group are more likely to go deeply into the sites they visit. Since Spring of this year, data has shown a dramatic increase in time spent on the Web, with Canadians age 55 plus taking the lead spending an average of 748.8 minutes each – 80 minutes more than the average Canadian surfer.

Canadians avid health surfers

A substantial number of Canadian Internet users are frequent visitors to Web sites offering health-related information, new findings from Ipsos-Reid show.

The study of 1,066 Canadians with Internet access in September shows that 55 per cent of them have visited a health-related Web site in the past twelve months. The Ipsos-Reid study also shows that 70 per cent of Canadians now have Internet access, which translates into 39 per cent of all Canadians visiting health Web sites. There is also a substantial core of loyal visitors, with about 41 per cent of Internet users visiting health-related Web sites on a monthly basis, and a smaller group of core users (16 per cent) who frequent them on a weekly basis. Web sites that offer information about diseases, prevention and cures are the most popular types of sites visited, followed in popularity by sites that offer information about nutrition and prescription drugs.

Privacy concerns cool holiday spirit

Even as the ranks of on-line shoppers swell, persistent concerns about security and privacy are still making many consumers shy about spending their money on-line this holiday season.

Although Web sales still represent a fraction of overall business, some retailers are looking to capitalize on the high-stakes shopping season with Web site design and privacy policy changes that reassure consumers, particularly in the wake of several dot-com e-tailer mishaps and failures. As many as 15 million more people will be potential on-line gift shoppers this year, according to Jupiter Research. But nearly one-third of Internet users do not purchase on-line because of worries over the privacy and security of credit card and personal information, according to a recent survey.