Leading Off

Crypto exports loosening?Hope was raised last week by news reports that the White House may finally allow the unfettered export of strong encryption products.

Crypto exports loosening?

Hope was raised last week by news reports that the White House may finally allow the unfettered export of strong encryption products. But provisions of the proposed legislation, called the Cyberspace Electronic Security Act of 1999 and released by the White House late last week, may fall short of expectations.

Under the proposed legislation, the administration will draft new encryption export regulations that will "strike a balance" between the needs of industry and of law enforcement. More details are expected by the end of the year.

CESA would provide funding for an FBI Technical Support Center and protect the confidentiality of decryption techniques developed cooperatively by government and industry. Under a second provision, law enforcement agents would be exempted from requirements that allow defendants to find out how evidence was obtained.

WebSphere keeps turning

IBM will ship early next month a new version of the advanced edition of WebSphere as well as upgrades to the application server's development tools.

WebSphere Application Server 3.0, Advanced Edition, supports Java servlets, Java Server Pages, Extensible Markup Language and Enterprise JavaBeans. Version 3.0 will sell for $7,500 per processor on AIX, Windows NT or Solaris. A standard edition will be available on the same platforms for $795 per processor. WebSphere Performance Pack will sell for $7,999 per installation.

Microsoft warns of hoax

Another Y2K e-mail hoax is circulating through the Internet, and it is deemed "a serious issue," according to Microsoft's security and year 2000 groups.

Microsoft has found that its customers are receiving e-mail from Support@Microsoft.com. An attach- ment includes a Trojan horse that, when executed, takes a user's personal information, such as password and name, and sends it to the author of the virus. Officials encourage users not to open an e-mail attachment unless they know what it is and who sent it. The company also recommends that users keep their anti-virus files updated. More information is at www.microsoft.com/y2k/hoax/ y2khoax.htm.

HP ramps up Rambus

Hewlett-Packard this week will introduce its first systems employing the new higher-bandwidth RDRAM.

HP plans to roll out a new desktop, the Vectra VL600, and replace four of its Kayak workstations with new models, the XM600 and XU800.

A single-processor workstation will start at about $1,400, down from the current entry-level price of $2,000 on Kayaks. The systems will use 533MHz or 600MHz Pentium IIIs as well as Intel's new 820 chip set, which supports 100MHz and 133MHz Rambus dynamic RAM. Intel is expected to unveil the processors and chip set next week.

Also this week, IBM will announce three new notebooks in its ThinkPad 390 line. The models will be available in various configurations, with either an Intel 400MHz mobile Celeron or a Pentium II and displays up to 15 inches wide. Pricing starts at $1,999 for a 12-inch display and a Celeron.

Microsoft has Visio(n)

Microsoft headlined a busy week in the M&A space when it announced that it will acquire Visio and Visio's technical drawing and business diagramming software for $1.3 billion in stock.

Visio will become the Visio Division of Microsoft's Business Productivity Group.

Meanwhile, Informix plugged a gap in its product line with the $83 million acquisition of Cloudscape, a startup that sells all-Java embed dable and mobile database and synchronization software, in exchange for 10 million shares of Informix stock.

Finally, Web analysis vendor Accrue acquired competitor Marketwave, the maker of the Hit List traffic analyzer, which Accrue officials said will expand Accrue's presence on the Windows NT platform.

Appeals on wheels

An old advertising gimmick went digital this month when a half-dozen barkers on in-line skates raced through the streets of New York with Web pages emanating from their bodies.

The "skatertizers" one-upped the classic sandwich-board advertisement method by carrying laptop PCs in backpacks connected to video monitors strapped to their chests.

The laptops, equipped with cellular modems for wireless Internet access, enable advertisers to show their Web sites live, as well as graphics and still photos, according to AdWheels Management, the Washington company that created the concept.

The rolling billboards promoted CheckOut.com to thousands of young adults outside the MTV Music Video Awards. Skatertizers are expected to be seen at trade shows, including next month's Internet World, and anywhere else that crowds gather. But the technology comes with a price tag: Twenty skaters with flat screens and Internet access cost more than $10,000 for 4 hours.

PC Week Quote Of The Week

"It is, far and away, the most argumentative, acerbic group I have ever had the misfortune to be a part of. But don't get me wrong. That has been good for the technology."

Red Hat CEO Bob Young on the Linux Community