Wednesday 15 December: Roundup of the IT news from the national and international press.
President Clinton has said that all but a few of the government's most important computer systems are Y2K ready, writes USA Today. The US government said only 16 of its 6159 most important systems are not prepared for the date change, but said the others will be ready later this month.
The Financial Times reports that the recent increase of private investors buying shares online is expected to intensify as several foreign owned discount stockbrokers start to lend money to customers to trade. US discount broker TD Waterhouse next year plans to become the first mass market provider in the UK to allow individual traders to deal without having to pay the full cost of the share up front.
Oracle's second quarter profits rose 40 per cent yesterday, beating analysts' estimates, reports The Washington Post. The company said its net income for the past three months rose to $384 million compared to $274 million last year. Oracle said the Internet helped reduce its overhead through online distribution and ecommerce sales.
The San Jose Mercury reports that US Internet shoppers are frustrated and disappointed with online shopping. Consumers have complained that shopping online has pathetic customer service, out of stock merchandise, botched orders and late deliveries. But more than 10 million new people in the US are expected to shop online this Christmas.
Fresh produce group Fyffes is in talks with venture capitalists to discuss the possible spin-off of its ecommerce venture WorldofFruit.com. The company, which last month bought a 50 per cent stake in fruit exporter Capespan, saw its pretax profits for the year increase by five million euro to 83.9 million euro.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Serious Fraud Office has charged six people in connection with fundraisings by two startup companies, Free Dot Net and Discount Telecom. Three directors of Free Dot Net, which has raised £4 million from the public over the past three years, have been charged with conspiracy to induce investments through "misleading, false or deceptive" statements.
Reliable Software Technologies has said its researchers have found a potentially serious security flaw in the Netscape Web browser email system, reports The Wall Street Journal. The company said that two of its engineers took just eight hours to copy the mathematical algorithm Netscape Mail uses to scramble users' passwords.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
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Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago