LAB NOTES

LAB NOTES

USB rules. Makers of so-called legacy-free desktop PCs are not only eliminating cards and ports in favor of the Universal Serial Bus, they're also adding color to the chassis.

SGI's cobalt-blue workstations and Apple Computer's translucent, berry-colored iMacs led the way. Compaq is keeping its iPaq a conservative black and silver, but other PC makers are introducing green, purple and other hues. So far, government green and khaki aren't in the color palette.

Other makers have followed Compaq Computer Corp., introducing legacy-free PCs without PCI and ISA cards, PS/2 plugs for mouse and keyboard, or parallel and serial ports. Anything that connects has to fit the USB interface.

IPaq, meet webpc. PC users looking for a device to give them Internet access and other simple computing functions can buy a Dell webpc.

The slim tower weighs 10 pounds and is about one-third the size of a conventional Dell Computer Corp. desktop PC.

The webpc comes in Tahoe blue, Red River red, Sedona orange, Sea Island teal and Napa purple.

It comes standard with a 433-MHz Intel Celeron processor, a 15-inch CRT monitor, a Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 610CL printer, a built-in 56-Kbps modem, Microsoft Windows 98 and a year of Internet service through Dell.

The webpc's five plug-and-play USB ports are amazing in view of how many higher-end systems lack USB hub capacity. The webpc sells for about $1,000.

Dell last month began selling its 600- and 733-MHz Precision WorkStation 420s with new noise-reduction chassis to shush as many as four 10,000-rpm hard drives. The Precision WorkStation 420 accepts up to two 36G and two 18G drives for a total of 108G.

Another innovation might even quiet the workstation's future troubleshooters: Important charts and diagrams are attached right inside the chassis cover.

Notes needs closure. Lotus Notes 5 administrators need to close a security hole that leaves user names and passwords in plain view, according to a security mail list distributed by antivirus vendor Panda Software of San Francisco.

The vulnerability arises when Notes works in combination with Microsoft Internet Explorer through a proxy server. If the start page for each user is opened from the browser, the current user name and password appear, stored in a text file.

Panda Software has recommended encrypting the perweb.nfs'database locally on Notes Release 5 client machines, where confidential log-in information is stored.

'Michael Cheek, mcheek@gcnlab.com,

John Breeden II, jbreeden@gcnlab.com,

and Susan M. Menke, smenke@gcn.com

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