Net usage up by `one third' in 3 months


There has been a significant increase in Internet usage in Ireland over the last four months, according to a report by Amarach Consulting. TrendWatch Technology Quarter 1 2000 says that 22 per cent, or 592,000, of all Irish adults now use the Internet - 30 per cent more than in October. The report says the largest increase is in home usage with almost 300,000 now logging on from home. Work is the next most frequent place where people access the net, followed by schools and colleges. The report is based on in-home interviews with over 1,000 adults during the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February.

PLAYING GAMES: Microsoft has unveiled the X-box games console in an effort to take on the major players, Sony and Nintendo, by the autumn of 2001. The X-box has a 600 megahertz processor, 64 megabytes of RAM and an advanced 3D graphics chip. It will also be able to play DVDs, connect to the Internet and have more than three times the graphics performance of the latest game consoles, according to a Microsoft spokesman.

LASTMINUTE LEAP: last week raised the price range for its shares by two-thirds, increasing its value to over half a billion pounds. Even at the new price shares in the company which offers flights, holidays and goods for late impulse buyers, look set to soar when they start trading this morning.

NOT SO COOLIO: A 17-year-old cracker questioned by FBI agents about February's attacks on major web sites has been charged with defacing an anti-drug Web page. Dennis Moran, who allegedly used the Net name "Coolio", was charged as an adult with two counts of unauthorised access to a computer system. Each charge carries up to 15 years in prison.

KING'S ESHILLING: Stephen King is embracing e-commerce by offering his new book for distribution exclusively online. Riding the Bullet, a 66-page tale that King describes as "a ghost story in the grand manner," will be available from tomorrow as an e-book.

TURNING JAPANESE: Baltimore Technologies has bought a 72.5 per cent stake in privately held NSJ, the company's exclusive reseller in Japan for $24.9 million. The net cost to Baltimore will be only one tenth of that as NSJ will pay Baltimore $22.4 million to extend its exclusive sales licence for a further 12 years.

RUSSIAN TO THE NET: Siberians are Russia's top Internet users with the concentration highest in Novosibirsk. Isolated from European Russia but known for the size of its science community, 34.per cent of PCs in the city are online.

WEB AS GAEILGE: Conradh na Gaeilge has announced a web site authoring competition `as Gaeilge' for schools in Kilkenny city and county. The aim of the competitions for primary and secondary schools is to encourage students to use the Irish language on their own sites. Sites can be sent for consideration to

EXPORT BAN: Exporting Sony's newly-released PlayStation 2 console is prohibited without permission from Japan's Trade Ministry, company and government officials have said. The console and accompanying 8-megabyte memory cards are subject to controls under Japan's foreign exchange and foreign trade law because of high-powered encryption technology used in the system.

DELL'S ALARM BELLS: Dell Computers is to replace faulty memory chips that could affect up to 400,000 notebook computers it shipped last year. Dell has advised customers who bought Latitude and Inspiron notebooks shipped between February and November of 1999 that the RAM chips might need replacing.

ALTERING DNA: Ulster Television (UTV) is to launch an all-Ireland Internet service as part of its effort to create a new media presence. UTV has bought DNA, Northern Ireland's leading ISP, in a deal worth £4.25 million. DNA will be rebranded under the UTV name.

HP'S NEW VENTURE: Hewlett-Packard is to target Irish Internet start-ups with a package which will include financing options of up to $1 million to lead them towards IPOs.

IN BRIEF...The Irish Institute of Purchasing and Materi- als Management has become the latest partner of the businessto-business portal site, . . Ireland's first Application Service Provider, E-host Europe, was launched last week. . . Gateway has launched a 1GHz PC onto the Irish market. . . Celestica's electronics manufacturing facility in Swords has been accredited to ISO14001, the International Standards Organisation's environmental standard. . . UBid has announced the provision of free shares for each qualified supplier who subscribes to prior to the official launch on May 1st. . . is offering free shares to up to 25,000 customers. . .