Losing stuff but finding buried treasure

To subscribe to The Register's weekly newsletter - seven days of IT in a single hit - click here

Keep it safe out there

This week we learnt the importance of backing up data. A boring task, but you don't half feel clever if it all goes wrong and you need it. But sometimes stuff gets lost. We've all lost photos of holidays, given mobile phones to the great pub gods, and parted company with sets of keys. But if you went somewhere really special you'd be careful to keep the snaps safe wouldn't you?

So how the hell has NASA lost the original footage of the moon landings? Yes, the original footage of mankind's first steps on the Moon. Lost.

NASA has spent a year looking for the tapes and hasn't given up yet. In the interest of fairness we should give the last word to John Sarkissian who's part of the search team: "I would simply like to clarify that the tapes are not lost as such. We are confident that they are stored at Goddard...we just don't know where precisely." A very familiar sounding excuse.

Others learning this hard life lesson this week were several ISPs who thought back-up meant putting servers in one of those super-duper, ultra-safe, co-location places. You know the ones with uninterruptible power supplies and robot security guards. Unfortunately, this week Telehouse was unable to keep the lights on and the partial power failure hit several ISPs.

Read a Reg Reader Study

Downtime across a business is bad enough, but this week's Reader Study looks at the impact of the helpdesk - which works to stop individual users effectively having downtime. It is a thankless task being abused by users all day, and the study looks at ways of supporting the front line troops.

Researchers spoke to over 2,500 Reg readers (and we know how clever they are), and there are some top tips and cunning plans for sorting out IT support.

Big Blue brings big iron

Big Blue is going a bit green. Announcing five new boxes based on AMD's Opteron chips IBM said they would include sfotware to monitor and control heat emissions and power usage - this year's hot summer in the UK has caught out many companies. The news comes at an odd time - just after Intel's announcement of its Xeon chips. Here's a more detailed analysis of the news.

Linux license lightened

One of the joys of open source software is not having to deal with tricksy proprietary licensing right? Well not exactly. Most open source software is governed under a General Public License. But a bit of a row has broken out over GPL v3 means many people are sticking with GPL 2. Including Linus Torvalds who described GPL 3 as a total disaster. We've got more on the impact of disparate licenses here.

Zippo batteries cost Sony dear

Also standing in the corner wearing the pointy hat this week was Sony, which is going to have to pick up the bill for Dell's record breaking recall of flaming batteries. Sony is keeping quiet on how much it will cost to recall, and replace, 4.1m batteries.

US authorities are investigating batteries in other devices so things could get even worse. But we've collected together some of the best, and worst, guesstimates of what it will all cost. Dell itself reckons there won't be a "material" financial impact - unless customers turn their backs on the feature-rich firestarter laptops.

Will AOL's "screw-up" mean better protection?

And we can't resist revisiting AOL's blooper - last week it released half a million customers' searches. The damage might have been done, but the blogosphere and Reg readers are still finding new, weird, gems.

Reading what other people have been searching for is strangely compelling, but mainly just strange. See some of our favourite weird AOL searches.

The piece also looks at how this time the dull old data retention question might get the public interest - it's not nice getting a phone call from a reporter who starts reading out everything you've been searching for on the internet for the last three months.

And, of course, AOL is not alone - it emerged this week that Amazon is on its way to creating the world's largest customer database. To make things worse, it is patenting the idea too.

Pirate spammers buried treasure

Not content with scarring our brains with such an intimate look at their customers' "minds" AOL also showed that it's not all dull being an ISP. It was in court this week seeking an order to dig up the garden of a convicted spammer. Why does it want to dig up a garden? Because it believes spammer Davis Hawke has buried treasure - proper treasure - bars of gold and platinum, hidden around his parents or grandparents' homes.

AOL was awarded $12.8m in damages against Hawke and reckons his buried stash might be worth $500,000. His mum says she hasn't seen her son for a year and he's buried his pirate chest somewhere else.

Irish phishers smiling

Well, they might not be Irish, but they were targeting the Bank of Ireland this week. A new phishing scam fooled at least a few customers and just over €100,000 was lost. The bank issued a securty alert, but not in time to save everyone.

Talking of bank security, we are still waiting to hear back from Barclays after we alerted them to a security hole in their online banking service. The flaw is being exploited to help make phishing scams look more convincing.

Kirk's back

Good news for Trekkies. This week we learnt that William Shatner is to return as Captain Kirk - not in a telly series, or an awful film, but in a video game that's due out in October.

But Kirk better update his space maps - we've got a few more planets since the last time he graced our screens. To find out whether or not Pluto is still a planet, click here.

Mobile vigilantes and lav chemists

If you're off on holiday this week, make sure you don't use your mobile while driving near Portsmouth - more on the knife wielding anti-mobile vigilante here.

And if you're flying anywhere and worried about the recent liquid explosives arrests, have a look at this nice reassuring story. Well, reassuring unless you think about the implications of our security services pursuing yet another red herring. By the time you've repacked your bag and queued up for six hours, you'll be too tired to be worried anyway.

That's it for this week, thanks for reading. ®

Sponsored: Minds Mastering Machines - Call for papers now open

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018