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This is the TBTF Log, an experiment in reporting important breaking news in a very timely way. The TBTF newsletter continues unchanged. The most recent issue is TBTF for 1999-12-16: Humble.

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Thursday, January 20, 2000

1/20/00 10:23:46 PM

  • updated OK, just one two more about Transmeta. [Note added 2000-01-22, 11:49 pm:] Everyone has pointed to this resource, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't. It's good reading. See Jon "Hannibal" Stokes's ArsTechnica article on the Transmeta Crusoe chip. His speculation on future chips to come from Transmeta is particularly thought-provoking.

    Diamond Multimedia, maker of the first portable MP3 player, confirmed that it was the manufacturer of the prototype "Web pad" that Transmeta CEO David Ditzel demonstrated yesterday. Diamond, a division of S3, plans to introduce the device to market in the second quarter of this year.

1/20/00 3:53:11 PM

  • Siliconia run amok: a dot-com town. This is not a story of a region trying to brand itself to attract high-tech jobs. It's the story of an inventive Internet startup, Half.com, pursuing and winning over a small town to the odd idea of changing its name, for a year, to Half.com. It happened in Halfway, Oregon. Yesterday evening the town council voted to accept the name change, and the estimated $100,000 of goodies that Half.com (the company) promised to shower upon them.

    Last December the town council had taken a similar vote with a similar outcome. But they had not first discussed the renaming with the 345 residents. The resulting outcry forced the town fathers to backpedal and to reopen the question. Pennsylvania-based Half.com sent its brass to the town on the Idaho border, soothing and schmoozing.

    Halfway, OR originally got its name because of its position on a stagecoach route in the last century. The two towns that put Halfway in the middle aren't exactly thriving today. Halfway's planner noted:

    One's a ghost town and the other's underwater.

    Thanks to TBTF Irregular Chuck Bury for the concluding link in this story.

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

1/19/00 9:59:16 PM

  • Last Transmeta post, I promise. For a succinct appreciation of Transmeta's sense of humor, see the Daily Diffs page monitoring www.transmeta.com.

    First monitored on Nov. 7, 1998:
    1. This web page is not here yet
    Oct. 21, 1999:
    1. ...but it is Y2K compliant.
    Thanks to TBTF Irregular Gary Stock, godfather to Daily Diffs at Ingenius Technologies (now part of Aeneid).

1/19/00 2:52:55 PM

  • Transmeta details.

    [Note added 10:11 pm: The rest of the coverage: Wired, Yahoo Tech, Interactive Week, allNetDevices, PC World, InternetNews, PC Week.]

    [Note added 3:07 pm: Here's the first EE Times coverage; more detail will surely be added soon. Transmeta's own site is supposed to be up now, but of course it's not responding. Talk about a flash crowd...]

    Here's the wrap. Two chips were unveiled: the TM5400, a 700-MHz processor for lightweight notebook computers running Windows, and the TM3120, a 400-MHz processor for internet appliances running Linux. The notebook chip is available in sample quantities with availability promised for midyear; the handheld chip is available now.

    The company will open-source its implementation of Linux for handhelds.

    Transmeta expects no patent problems from Intel because its manufacturing partner, IBM, already holds extensive cross-licensing patent agreements with Intel.

    Some early coverage: CNet, TechWeb, InfoWorld.

1/19/00 12:42:26 PM

  • Transmeta's announcement in realtime. I'm watching Transmeta's coming-out press conference now. I'll be posting bullet points continuously from it.
    • 1:17 pm: (OK, that's it, I'm done. Can't run WMP more than 4 minutes before my machine freezes. Will update the Transmeta/Crusoe news later today after the EE Times reporter files his coverage. The press event ends in 45 minutes.)
    • 1:07 pm: (Damn again, another crash. Takes at least 6 minutes to restart and reestablish context: WMP, Netscape, BBEdit. Though I did discover that Internet Exploder does not need to be running to use Windows Media Player, hooray for that. I think WMP is behind the crashes.)
    • 12:58 pm: A technology they call LongRun automatically controls the power usage of the chip, throttling back intelligently based on the application in use. Makes the battery last longer. It really was designed from the ground up for mobility.
    • 12:52 pm: (Damn, that's annoying: lost 9 minues to a crash & reboot; MacOS 9, Windows Media Player, MS IE 4.0, Netacape Communicator 4.6 running simultaneuosly.) Their chip uses VLIW (very long instruction word) technology, as speculated: a 128-bit word.
    • 12:42 pm: Their chip does code-morphing, as speculated. It is fully x86 compatible, as speculated.
    • 12:35 pm EST: The CEO is now showing a mobile computer; it looks about 12" wide by 8" high, maybe 1/2" thick. He mentioned that it runs Linux (surprise), but hasn't demoed it yet.
    • Their manufacturing partner is IBM.
    • Transmeta will sell to computer manufacturers, not to end users.
    • They are introducing a family of microprocessors, with the first two Crusoe chips demoing today -- at 400 and 700 MHz. Each draws less than 1 Watt of power.

1/19/00 12:14:08 PM

  • Attack on "dining cryptographer" protocol. This note from Declan McCullagh's correspondent, who is identified only as "Ralph," graphically indicates the dangers cryptographers face every day. Hmm? Oh, the "dining cryptographer" protocol? See this 1995 paper by David Friedman.

    Declan -- Be glad you aren't here... food poisoning from the rsa conference lunch buffet. My colleagues are floored by it, I am merely miserable. Missing all of the soirees tonight, but if it is widespread, and I think it was, there will be a bunch of sick folks tomorrow. My colleagues think it was the potato salad, I had know, so I think it was that AND the regular salad with fruit in it, which I barely tasted. No more buffets for us! Saving self for Cryptographers Gala Wednesday night. -- Ralph

    Thanks to TBTF Irregular Ted Byfield for the concept and the cite.

1/19/00 11:15:50 AM

  • Transmeta's secret will out today.

    [Note added 2:57 pm: Windows Media Player is by no means a walk in the park (at least on my Macintosh). See above.]

    [Note added 12:17 pm: Watching the press conference now. (I had just downloaded Windows Media Player -- running on my Macintosh -- and it works much better, faster, and cleaner than Real's current offering, IMO.) Transmeta is introducing a family of microprocessors, with the first two Crusoe chips demoing today -- at 400 and 700 MHz. Each draws less than 1 Watt of power. Here's a quote describing Transmeta's Crusoe in a single sentence:

    Crusoe is the first microprocesser whose instruction set is implemented entirely in software.]

    [Note added 12:12 pm: I can't get in at the ZDNet site linked below. No big surprise there...]

    In less than an hour we'll see an end to the speculation about Transmeta, the company where Linus Torvalds works. (Here's my note on Linus's ten-timezone move in TBTF for 1997-03-09.)

    Whatever the eventual impact of Transmeta's products, the company surely will go down in Silicon Valley history for perfecting the technique of stealth buzz. In more than 4 years exactly nothing has leaked out about what Transmeta has been working on. The company's resolute silence has fueled, not dampened, the speculation game; Transmeta rumors have been a long-time feature of the Slashdot forum. I covered the buzz, probably in the process adding to it, in TBTF for 1998-11-17 and 1999-10-05.

    At noon today Eastern time, Transmeta will announce and demonstrate their technology. You can watch the live webcast along with me courtesy of ZDNet.

Sunday, January 16, 2000

1/16/00 6:01:31 PM

  • NBC fuming at CBS's virtual logo theft. As you probably heard, CBS put new video technology to use in a controversial fashion on their New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square. Their anchor, Dan Rather, appeared before a Square in which rival NBC's huge video advertising screen was missing from the outgoing signal, covered over by a digitally-created CBS logo.

    Now NBC is demanding an end to the practice and mulling legal moves, while Dan Rather has publicly crossed his network bosses by apologizing for the affair.

    Using this graphic technique for advertising product placement in a TV sitcom or a movie wouldn't bother me; but using it in news programming crosses the line. As Jim Naureckas of the media watchdog FAIR said:

    This is a slippery slope CBS has gotten on to and it could have big consequences as far as its news credibility... Getting the toe of this technology into [news] programming... is dangerous.

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