Tech/Net Briefs

HP lays off 180 in N.H.

About 180 workers in New Hampshire were notified earlier this month that they had been laid off by Hewlett Packard, according to several employees of the company’s Spit Brook Road campus in Nashua.

The layoffs involved the Tru64 Unix group, a type of Unix software, part of which was centered at the Spit Brook facility, because the company had decided not to keep developing that software, the employees said.

The company confirmed that there were layoffs in the state, but declined to specify how many, or in what programs they occurred. The company has two other New Hampshire locations, in Exeter and Lebanon.

Digital Equipment Corp. initially developed a version of a Unix operating system it called Tru64, and Compaq continued developing it after it acquired DEC. When HP bought Compaq, it decided to incorporate certain aspects of Tru64, such as its high-powered clustering ability that allows multiple computers to be joined, into HP’s Unix, which is called HP-UX. But HP recently decided it would no longer continue trying to finish that process because it could get the job done quicker by using software developed by Veritas Software Corp., based in California.

Storage signs $2m licensing deal

Storage Computer Corp. has signed a licensing deal worth $2 million with Galactic Computing, based in China, according to company officials.

The agreement will allow Galactic to embed Storage Computer’s intellectual property and software for computer data storage in Galactic’s supercomputing blade system. Galactic also will provide research and development resources for Storage Computer’s next-generation CyberVSA storage management products.

“This agreement provides the engineering resources to move rapidly along our VSA road map with the next product to be completed in the April ’05 timeframe and the existing map finished by the end of the year,” said Sean Murphy, Storage Computer’s vice president of product.

The contract comes at an opportune time for Storage. In November, the company reported that it had less than $100,000 in revenue during the third quarter. The company has also instituted a number of layoffs, cuts in pay and other ways to save money over the last couple of years.

Storage also is appealing a notice from the American Stock Exchange that it may delist the company’s stock from the exchange because it no longer complies with listing standards involving sustained losses and inadequate shareholder equity.

10% growth seen for PC market

The global personal computer market is expected to grow at a modest pace in 2005 as the economic recovery slows, according to a report by a Massachusetts market research firm.

IDC forecasts worldwide PC shipments will grow by 10.1 percent to 195.1 million in 2005. That compares to growth expected to come in at 14.5 percent this year with a shipment forecast of 177.2 million units. The growth rate was 11.9 percent in 2003 and 1.9 percent in 2002.

The firm said its 2005 forecast is buoyed by strong third-quarter results and continued PC demand in the commercial sector.

N.H. computer crime efforts expanding

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte says her office is considering a proposal to create a “master computer brain” to help investigate computer crime. The machine, she said, would help investigators decode information on computers seized as evidence, she said.

She also announced that the state is hiring another analyst to check out computers that have been piling up at the state’s forensic lab, and it is working with the University of New Hampshire on a survey to identify computer-crime experts around the state and to determine how best to use them.

“We need to keep up with the pace of the criminals on this issue,” Ayotte said. “Let’s face it: The criminals are using computers to bilk our citizens of millions of dollars. They’re using computers, unfortunately, to be predators with our children. And so, we need to get ahead in terms of law enforcement on this issue.”

Presstek wins court fight

A bankruptcy judge in Philadelphia has ruled that Presstek Inc. of Hudson, N.H., can’t be forced to take over the real estate and equipment leases of A.B. Dick Co., the graphic arts equipment maker whose operations it bought in November.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Peterson turned aside a bid by creditors of A.B. Dick for a ruling that would have required Presstek to pick up all of its former rival’s open contracts.

Had the creditors won, Presstek would have been forced to pay about $5 million in back payments to cover defaults in leases and other contracts it was taking on.

Presstek has already paid $3 million to make good on contracts that it does want to take over, Peterson noted.

The company sold its name as well as most of its operating assets to Presstek for $40 million, and has until Feb. 10 to file a plan to distribute the cash to creditors.

In the order extending the former A.B. Dick’s exclusive rights, Peterson ordered representatives of the dissolving company to provide creditors with copies of all information used in formulating a distribution scheme “so the committee will be in a position to promptly propose any amendments.”

Four in N.H. accused of file-sharing

The music industry has filed federal lawsuits against at least four New Hampshire residents, accusing them of violating copyright laws by downloading music and sharing it online.

The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in Concord over the past four months against Renee Elderd of Nashua, Dan Makely of Laconia, Paula Greenwood, whose hometown was not available from on-line court records, and Tracy Nabors, whose hometown also was unavailable.

The lawsuits, which are virtually identical except for the plaintiffs and defendants, are seeking fines and attorneys’ fees. The recording companies also want the defendants to stop downloading music illegally and destroy all copies of the pirated recordings.

The lawsuits are part of an aggressive strategy by recording companies to halt music piracy, which recording industry executives claim costs them more than $4 billion a year. Industry officials say they are targeting the most egregious offenders.

About 7,000 copyright claims have been filed against individual computer users or owners in the past year, and about 1,300 have been settled, most for payments of about $3,000, said Jonathan Lamy, spokesman for the Recording Industry of America.

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