A long-awaited standard for wireless LANs that offers more carrying capacity than the current IEEE 802.11b specification while using the same frequencies won final approval recently. The new standard, 802.11g, lays out the ground rules for wireless LAN (WLAN) gear that is capable of at least 24Mbps and up to 54Mbps, while remaining backward compatible with existing 802.11b gear that runs at a maximum 11Mbps.

Both use radio spectrum in the range of 2.4GHz. Another standard, 802.11a, defines 54M bps gear in the 5GHz range. Many vendors have already been shipping equipment based on drafts of the standard for months and have said they will make those products meet the final specification through free firmware downloads.

PeopleSoft board rejects Oracle bid

PeopleSoft Inc.’s board of directors voted unanimously to recommend shareholders reject Oracle Corp.’s unsolicited US$5.1 billion bid to take over the company, PeopleSoft recently said.

PeopleSoft’s board cited Oracle’s low valuation of PeopleSoft as another factor in its rejection. Oracle’s tender offer, which commenced Monday and runs through July 7, offers US$16 for each tendered PeopleSoft share. Since Oracle announced its bid on Friday, PeopleSoft (PSFT) shares have continuously traded above US$16.

Java apps soon to run on Palm Tungsten handhelds

Enterprise Java applications will be able to run directly on Palm Tungsten handhelds now that Palm Inc. has licensed IBM Corp.’s WebSphere Micro Environment Java run-time environment. Palm will offer WME on all its Tungsten devices.

Applications written with any Java development tool will be able to run on the Tungstens through WME, but IBM’s WebSphere Studio Device Developer will be optimized for creating Palm-based Java applications, the companies say. Palm also will offer a free development tool kit that will work with WebSphere Studio Device Developer. WME will become available as a download for Tungsten users in September and probably will ship with new Tungsten devices starting early next year.

3Com to lay off 10 percent of workforce

Networking provider 3Com Corp. is laying off approximately 10 per cent of its worldwide workforce of approximately 3,900 to reduce costs amid a continued weakness for networking equipment, the company said recently.

The layoffs will take place over the next two quarters and primarily affect the company’s employees in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 3Com said, with the deepest cuts coming in the company’s Santa Clara, California, location. 3Com moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Massachusetts last month. 3Com had roughly 3,900 employees at the end of its fiscal third quarter in February, according to a company representative. The layoffs come in part as a result of the close of the sale of the company’s CommWorks carrier equipment business in May to UTStarcom Inc.

Amazon dives into technology services

Online retailer Inc. formally has become a technology services company, providing an array of e-commerce services for leading U.S. retailers. The launch of Amazon Services, a new subsidiary, was unveiled recently at the Retail Systems 2003 show in Chicago by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He told an audience of several hundred IT professionals that Amazon Services already provides 20 percent of the company’s unit sales volume – the number of books, robot lawnmowers, men’s suits and other items bought online at the Web site it is the company’s fastest growing business.

The new subsidiarycan offer retailers a complete, turnkey e-commerce service, or any part of that service: access to Amazon’s 30 million active customers, the Web front end for online buying and other customer activities, order fulfilment (packaging and shipping), and customer service for e-mail and phone inquiries, according to the company. The retailers keep full control over the look and feel of the Web site, and can use the Amazon services without having to alter internal business processes.

Bugbear threat level has been raised

Network Associates Inc. raised its risk assessment of the Bugbear.b mass-mailing worm to high after the virus attacked over 1,000 banks across the globe recently. The virus is an Internet mass mailing worm that, once activated, e-mails itself to addresses found on local systems, spoofing or forging the sender’s address. It is the first known virus to target financial institutions and the virus reportedly tries to steal corporate passwords. The threat level was increased this week when Bugbear attempted to attack some of Australia’s largest banks.

Joanne Hayes, a spokesperson for the Bank of Montreal in Toronto, said it has been monitoring the virus situation. “There has been no indication that there has been any impact on our systems” to date, Hayes said. The bank said it is using standard antivirus commercial products to fend off attacks. She added that Bugbear is seen as a “high” threat because it is a blended threat of a virus and Trojan horse. For more information, visit