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HP bosses blame everyone but themselves

HP continues to make the news for all the wrong reasons. Two executives have left the company and the rest are busy blamestorming – pointing fingers in all directions. Someone is to blame for the original, and possibly illegal, investigation into board members, journalists and their families.

But equally damaging to the firm is the incompetent way the aftermath was dealt with. For now HP shareholders must be praying that Mark Hurd doesn't get drawn in any deeper and that ex-chairman Patricia Dunn embraces her role as apparent fall guy.

Dunn is pointing the finger at HP's former top lawyer Ann Baskins and giving her credit for running the investigation.

Meanwhile, the legal fallout begins – phone provider Verizon is suing 20 people for illegally getting hold of other people's phone records – a practise Dunn claimed to Congress she thought was legal.

If HP's share price keeps falling, it won't be long before shareholders launch a class action case against the directors for costing the company money.
See: Dunn's evidence to Congress provides religious moment.
Hurd apologises for not reading report, failing the company.
Verizon sues HP for phone snooping
HP's top lawyer leaves with blame and $4m.

Intel makes the news

Intel's Developer Forum is always a good glimpse into the future and this year was no exception. First up, Intel seems to be moving towards a less fundamentalist view of sharing space with other companies. AMD has been making louder and more specific noises along the same lines – it will let other chip makers use its Opteron slots. There's more here on Intel getting all liberal, and here is some analysis on what all this is going to mean, especially for servers. Go here for Intel's CEO Paul Ottelini on why the firm is on the way back to the top for server chips. But it's not all chips at IDF - this story, and pictures, is about a laptop with a rather funky tiltable screen.

Execs gambling on freedom

A weird week for IT execs on the run. Jacob Alexander, ex-boss of Comverse, was arrested in Namibia. He faces extradition to the US to face charges of backdating share options and illegally removing $57m from the US to Israel.

Of course, execs from online gambling firms are used to life on the run. US authorities warned this week that they're still gunning for such companies and that warrants have been issued for certain people's arrest if they arrive on US shores.

Worries about the situation led William Hill to stop taking bets from customers with US credit cards. Several companies already do this but it's not clear whether US police regard that as enough. The continuing problems also led to the departure of World Gaming's chairman James Grossman.

Talk Talk letting customers go

It's not often we congratulate a company for letting customers go, but anyone who's tried to get a home broadband connection switched off will welcome news from Talk Talk that it is agreeing to cancel customers' contracts.

The company has been plagued with problems and overwhelmed by demand, so allowing unhappy customers to leave makes sense. Be even better if they upped the service so customers weren't unhappy - but one step at a time, eh?

Worst British spammer loses appeal

A particularly nasty spammer who operated out of a bedroom in his parents' house has had his appeal refused. Peter Francis-Macrae, a 24 year old from Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to six years, not just for spamming but for threatens to kill police and trading standards officers. After he was first questioned by police he sent out a mass mail which included the chief Constable's phone number.

Microsoft's DRM debacle and dodgy lobbying

Microsoft's DRM debacle has left Sky customers unable to use the broadcaster's recently launched download service. Microsoft is still struggling to create a patch which will last longer than five minutes.

This hasn't stopped the company from going to the courts to pursue the alleged hacker claiming he, or she, infringed their intellectual property. That's the problem – no one knows who the hacker is – they are known only as Viodentia.

Meanwhile, Sky punters are left in the dark as to when their service will be switched back on.

It also emerged this week that Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes was contacted by officials from the US embassy in Brussels asking her to be "nicer" to Microsoft. This came after off-the-record briefings from the State Department warning of the apparent damage EC action against the software giant may cause.

Also this week, a European tour by the two men in charge of the Vista launch and simultaneous launch of an updated Office suite. Still no definite date, but we were told that the repeated delays to Vista meant both more customer feedback from testers and more "pent-up demand". Gartner analyst Brian Gammage wasn't so convinced. Have a look here to see who you agree with.

Another week and another hole in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. But this time the company was forced to deal with it in a slightly different way. Because the hole was being exploited, Microsoft rushed out a patch rather than wait for its usual monthly update Patch Tuesday. Go here for the whys and the wherefores.

'Nother news

The European Central Bank has admitted it ignored data protection laws when it let American investigators crawl all over European bank records. Central banks in every European Union country were also informed of the illegal data haul but chose to keep schtum.

Any clichéd view of Apple users as sandal-wearing, probably bearded lefties, took a blow this week with news that Greenpeace has condemned the Mac brigade for being dirty polluters. The campaign includes a rather brilliant parody Apple website. Unlike the usual finger-pointing, Greenpeace has spent two years pushing Apple to go a little greener. Only when this failed did they decide to go public.

George Bush has already contributed an awful lot to peace in the Middle East, so laughing at this latest cunning plan is probably unfair. He is sending two technology bosses to Lebanon to sort out rebuilding the country he allowed Israel to destroy.

Cisco CEO John Chambers and Intel chairman Craig Barrett are visiting the country to discuss rebuilding priorities. We wish them luck, but can't help wondering what exactly their qualifications are. But then who knew that HP's chief ethics officer was mainly responsible for running spying operations on board members?

That's all for this week. See you next Friday. ®

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