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Lost e-mail lists will come back


July 6, 2001

SEATTLE - A technical glitch interrupted Microsoft MSN Messenger service for about 10 million users yesterday and Wednesday.

About a third of the service's 32 million users temporarily lost the lists of people with whom they regularly communicate using the free text-messaging service. Microsoft said the "buddy lists" have not been lost and will return when the glitch is repaired.

Problems arose when a database server's disk controller failed, then a backup controller also had an error, according to a spokeswoman at Microsoft's public-relations company, Waggener Edstrom.

MSN officials declined comment, and the spokeswoman could not say why the outage lasted so long.

Glitches are not unheard of, but they are embarrassing for a company that's trying to position itself as a repository of sensitive personal information, such as finances, and as a facilitator of online commerce and communications with tools such as MSN Messenger. The problem also comes during an advertising campaign touting the reliability of Microsoft's database servers.

'Big Brother 2' streamed to your PC - for a fee

LOS ANGELES _ Viacom's CBS network and RealNetworks, the maker of RealPlayer media software, will charge a fee to consumers who want to watch Internet video from the set of "reality" show "Big Brother 2."

"Big Brother 2," whose second season premiered last night on CBS stations, depicts people locked in a house for about three months, with cameras capturing conversations and actions on tape.

CBS and Seattle-based RealNetworks said they believe it's the first time a U.S. TV network has streamed a show over the Internet, exclusively for paying subscribers. Viewers must pay $19.95 for the three-month season of "Big Brother 2," starting Monday, or watch it with a subscription to RealNetworks' GoldPass service, at $9.95 a month.

Last night's broadcast will be available online for free through Sunday.

RealNetworks hopes to strike similar agreements with broadcasters for subscription-based Webcasts of other prime-time shows, said Mark Hall, the company's vice president of programming.

RealNetworks agreed in March to broadcast Major League Baseball games online to paying subscribers.

ARCH Venture Partners has $380 million to invest

SEATTLE - ARCH Venture Partners of Chicago - which has five U.S. offices, including one in Seattle - announced yesterday the close of its fifth venture-capital fund, making it ready to invest in early-stage companies specializing in biotechnology, information technology, communications, optical networking and physical science.

The fund totals $380 million, far outreaching its last fund of $175 million. Steve Lazarus, one of the founders, said the size has grown to accommodate investments for the life of 25 to 35 companies. There is now a $700 million under management.

ARCH also announced that Patrick Ennis, who joined the firm in 1998, would become a partner in the Seattle office, joining Robert Nelsen and Alex Knight to help manage the fifth fund.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Kirkland company

SEATTLE - A class-action lawsuit alleging that Kirkland-based Captaris had misled shareholders last year about its future performance was dismissed in Seattle's U.S. District Court, the company said yesterday.

"It's a typical stock-drop case against a tech company, and AVT (which changed its name to Captaris in April) was as surprised by the economic downturn as (the shareholders were), which was borne out by the judge's decision," said Dan Dunne, the company's attorney.

The case, filed in March 2000 against the company's directors and officers, consisted of various suits that had been consolidated. The dismissal by Judge Robert Lasnik applied to all of the cases filed.

The plaintiffs have 30 days to file an appeal.

Treadmill-patent claim is ruled invalid on appeal

SEATTLE - A technology-patent claim by treadmill manufacturer Life Fitness has been deemed invalid, enabling other fitness-equipment companies such as Bothell-based Precor to use similar technology without the threat of lawsuits.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week upheld Precor in a patent-infringement lawsuit brought against it by Chicago-based Life Fitness.

Life Fitness sued for infringement on its treadmill shock-absorption technology but lost in a lower court in 1999.

Company spokeswoman Julie King said Life Fitness is consulting with its attorneys about another appeal.

Precor is the second-largest manufacturer of fitness equipment for health clubs and homes behind Life Fitness.

The companies use similar technology for a treadmill-surface support system that is pliable on impact.

Nation/World

Mortgage rates inching up but are down since last year

WASHINGTON - Rates on 30- and 15-year mortgages around the country rose this week, while one-year rates fell to their lowest level in two years.

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 7.19 percent for the week ending today, up from 7.11 percent last week, according to a nationwide survey released yesterday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, increased to 6.74 percent this week, compared with 6.63 percent the previous week.

At the same time last year, rates for 30-year mortgages averaged 8.16 percent, and rates for 15-year mortgages averaged 7.88 percent.

On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.71 percent, down from 5.77 percent the week before. This week's rate was the lowest since May 13, 1999, when one-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.71 percent. Last year, one-year adjustable mortgages stood at 7.27 percent.

Compiled from the Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2001 The Seattle Times Company


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