DID YOU HEAR?

A 16-year wait will do strange things to people. Fans of the Star Wars series -- who've been camping out in front of the Mann Chinese Theater in Los Angeles since early April to ensure they have tickets when "The Phantom Menace" debuts May 19 -- made sure they kept in touch with others of their kind by installing Internet access to the line in front of the theater. The line was manned by a regular rotation of "Phantom-philes," many of whom coordinated their schedules through their Web site. The site -- Countingdown.com -- was made possible by an ADSL line outside the theater, allowing the site's Web masters to post updates, digital photos and other materials.

=

It may not have the accompanying hype of a Star Wars film, but IBM quietly announced last month that it will only advertise on Web sites that post a clear privacy policy statement. The new policy will take effect in the United States and Canada starting June 1, and will be rolled out later in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The view of IBM -- one of the top Internet advertisers -- is that consumers visiting a Web site should have easy access to a company's privacy policy, be told clearly what information is being collected and how it will be used, and have the option not to provide any information.

=

London's Co-operative Bank announced it is expanding its technology outsourcing agreement with IBM to include a $160 million, seven-year contract to manage its national network of Automated Teller Machines (ATM), totaling 600 units. This represents the bank's biggest ever third-party management contract and is reportedly the largest contract of its kind for an ATM network in Europe. Under the terms of the new agreement, IBM Global Services will support the bank' s existing cash machine network, as well as at least 350 new ATMs which are to be located at Co-op convenience stores over the next two years. IBM will provide all of the ATM service including network management, call center support, software development and installation and maintenance services.

=

IBM has confirmed that it shipped somewhere in the "low thousands" of Aptiva PCs between March 5 and March 17 with an unexpected and unappealing feature: the CIH virus. A company spokeswoman told the Newsbytes news organization that the strain of the CIH virus shipping with the Aptivas replicates on April 26. "It is a known virus and was accidentally introduced onto these PCs during our manufacturing process," she says. The Aptiva model numbers affected were the 240, 301, 520 and 580. IBM says the potentially affected computers have one of the following codes after "MFG DATE" AM909, AM910 or AM911. Affected owners with valid registrations have been contacted by IBM and automatically received an Antivirus Update CD. The Antivirus Update program will also be available to Aptiva owners to download and install systems updates. IBM Aptiva owners can get more information from the Web at http://www.ibm.com/support or by calling the IBM HelpCenter at (800) 600-8235.