News Schmooze: Hacker attacks and Amazonion profits

Hewlett-Packard reckons the future will be called CoolTown, and Amazon hope the colour of the future is black. Meanwhile, UK ISP Cloud Nine blamed hackers for the fact it ain't got no future at all

Amazon.com used to wow investors and headline-readers with its revolutionary business plans and the ground-breaking vision of its invincible boss, Jeff Bezos. Fast forward a few months later and "Earth's biggest" seller of books, CDs, garden furniture and kitchen equipment is still confounding expectations and amazing financial journalists -- this time by finally turning a profit, adding up to one cent a share. Good for them, but it's getting kind of like following the latest news about Wal-Mart.

Amazon posts first profit

We have seen the future, and it is in Wokingham. If you've ever wondered what all this e-commerce stuff, Segway gadgetry and seamlessly integrated wireless networking is leading to, there's now Cooltown from HP, which is apparently designed to seduce fuddy-duddy British chief execs into the digital age. Your PDA will be built into your shaving mirror and your car will make conversation on the morning commute, but it doesn't really matter, because in the Silicon Valley vision of the universe you'll probably spend most of your waking hours at the office. Pass the steak and kidney pie....

HP opens UK Cooltown for digital nomads

Good news: you no longer need to bother with the same old gold- and black-diamond-encrusted mobile phones from Motorola and Ericsson; Nokia will sell you gold or platinum phones that also feature the finest quality, hand-built transistors and custom-tuned software, sort of the Rolls-Royce of mobile phones. The phone number list will be pre-entered with the home numbers of select movie stars, financiers and football players. Automatic alerts will remind you to pick up the Ferrari from the garage. A worldwide concierge service, included with each phone, will discreetly arrange cover stories for your marital infidelities. Leave it in the back of a taxi, though, and it's £14,500 down the drain, not that you'd notice particularly.

Nokia to launch gold-plated phones

A few months ago it would have seemed like a hilarious joke, but nowadays the notion of a company such as Red Hat selling out to an established giant like AOL Time Warner is all too plausible. What would it achieve, the Schmoozer wonders, other than giving AOL a non-Microsoft platform for its service -- which, incidentally, it already had in the form of Gateway's failed "Touch Pad" Web appliance. And then there's the spectre of millions of computer newbies getting an AOL CD-ROM in the post, installing it and being faced with Linux in all its glory, something that still has the power to confound and terrify non-technical people, despite the valiant efforts of GNOME, KDE, Ximian et al. On the other hand, it might be worth pushing the deal through just to be able to observe such a quixotic spectacle.

Comdex: Gateway Net device blow

Sources: AOL not bidding for Red Hat

How gleeful the life of a hacker must be nowadays. Once upon a time, you could deface the Pentagon homepage or take down Microsoft.com for a week and barely get noticed above the endless roar from the dot-com hype machine. Compared to that, hackers must now feel like Godzilla crashing around in a plate-glass factory. Web companies are so infirm that a little push can send an entire organisation crashing to the ground, as appeared to be the case this week with Cloud Nine. Even Microsoft, which used to blithely ignore everything going on around it, has been stung so many times by this or that kit-manufactured worm that it now has to assure the world that security is its No. 1 job.

Hack attack leaves ISP's future in doubt

A peek at the calendar told The Schmoozer that it's only six weeks until CeBIT, so he quickly used the power of the Internet to apply for press accreditation for Hanover's annual product and news fest. However, he must report that the world's largest computer show seems to have failed to grasp the full power of the Web. Having filled in the online form (name, address, favourite drink, etc), he was startled to discover that he is expected to print out said form and post it. Bit 19th century, wouldn't you agree?

Fair enough, there is also the option of faxing it -- but even that doesn't really capture the spirit of groundbreaking technical innovation. The Schmoozer fears that CeBIT may include a hall dedicated to latest breakthroughs in the world of the abacus.

The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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