Dell buys reseller, BT buys PlusNet and everyone buys HP

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Results, or not...

Dell was forced to delay quarterly results this week and admitted that the probe from the SEC has turned formal. The company was due to report on Thursday but now hopes to release results by the end of the month.

HP, meanwhile, shrugged off recent spying scandals to show revenue of $24.6bn for the three months. Boss Mark Hurd said the figures showed HP's turnover was well on track.

What's Dell up to?

Apart from not producing results, Dell was also in the news this week for buying a Scottish reseller. Although famous for direct sales, Dell has always been helpful to resellers wanting to flog its kit. Which makes sense.

But last week we revealed how Dell was cutting off reseller discounts, and this week it bought a 200 person Scottish company called ACS. The little, by Dell's standards, reseller and services company also provides managed application software for centrally managing software upgrades. So is Dell going after the services business? And if it is, why start from such a small base? Answers on a postcard to the usual address please.

PlusNet gets bought

In less surprising news, BT put in a formal offer for mid-sized ISP PlusNet. BT will pay £67m for the company it described as having "a strong reputation for both customer service and innovation". There have been long predictions of consolidation among smaller ISPs – and with the arrival of well-funded triple-play and quad-play competitors this is likely to increase.

ISP support woes continue

Broadband customers might have more choice of provider now, but they're not any happier with the service they're receiving. Sky broadband customers are waiting months for connections and spending hours on the phone to technical support to sort out problems.

And they're not alone. A survey this week shows that although prices might have fallen 17 per cent, customer satisfaction is down by even more. If you thought your home broadband was bad – check this research to ensure changing providers won't make it even worse. Unhappy broadband punters.

Security round-up

When internet access at Reg Towers goes down we have been known to borrow a little bandwidth from someone else's wireless network. We know it's wrong, but if the office next door won't put a password on the network what can we do?

So we feel a little sympathy for the student in Singapore who faces up to three years in jail for squatting on his neighbour's wireless connection.

This week also saw a tightening up of the UK's computer crime laws. Don't worry, you can still borrow bandwidth off your neighbour but you can't use it to launch a denial of service attack. Such an offence can now get you up to 10 years in prison. Or it will do once the Queen's signed it.

And that's not all – changes to the fraud act this week mean it now covers offences relating to phishing attacks.

Security screw-ups of the week:

eBay scam still online after a year.

Microsoft labels Gmail a virus.

It's the Security risk Top 20! What are the biggest threats to your organisation? VoIP phones and IE added to the list.

In other list news, Spamhaus has released its list of the world's worst spammers. The top 10 makes interesting reading...unlike the mails they send out.

Also this week was Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday – and this week was a big one. Five critical vulnerabilities were fixed.

Microsoft news

Microsoft's row with the European Commission rumbles on. Competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said this week she'd waited long enough for Microsoft to provide interoperability information to its rivals. She gave Microsoft nine days to hand over the documents.

Heard of Microsoft's answer to the iPod? The Redmond giant is launching Zune in time for Christmas – it went on sale in the US this week. But it appears the widget is not compatible with Vista – the operating system it is launching early next year. Now this could be no more than lawyer-proof small print or it could point to a genuine problem.

Microsoft is also under fire for its pre-emptive royalty deal with Universal – basically, Universal get paid everytime Microsoft sells a Zune. But some see the deal as unfair – if the Zune is being used for content which hasn't been paid for, why should only Universal get compensated?

NHS boss needs friends and family

You've got to feel a bit sorry for Richard Granger – the man in charge of the government's doomed ambitious NHS IT programme. He's not exactly long of supporters in the first place, without his mum getting involved. Especially when she's telling newspapers that he failed the computer studies part of his degree course and was only allowed to resit after this mother wrote to Princess Anne.

Barely pausing for breath she told reporters: "I can't believe that my son is running the IT modernisation programme for the whole of NHS. Keep talking like that mum and he won't be.

Don't mess with Texas

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has long harboured ambitions to launch a commercial space vehicle – and frankly, if Virgin has a better chance of running space flights than running trains then why not? The only trouble is he chose Texas as the place to build his space port. He's busy buying land but hasn't taken any time to glad-hand the locals. And the locals are feeling a little snubbed.

SuperComputing summary

A flurry of supercomputer news this week not unconnected with a trade show. Intel makes writing parallel applications easier.

Supercomputers is a world of its own, which is why so many people were quick to dismiss Microsoft's attempt to get into the market. One of the criticisms was that Microsoft clusters weren't big enough to justify the term. Turns out not to be entirely true. More than half of MS clusters have more than 1,000 processors. Still no word on how many of the things Microsoft has actually sold though.

Also this week - Sun shrinks its blade chassis – get three in a rack.

Internet brownout

Thursday saw a bit of an internet brownout in the UK. MSN was hit along with NatWest and several other big corporate websites. Backbone provider Telstra Europe – the new owner of PSINet got the blame for problems with its domain name servers. If you suffered, please send your reports to the usual address.

Government IT – the highlights

Government IT projects might suggest enormous + disaster to you, but the National Audit Office (NAO) would beg to differ. The NAO seems to have given up offering advice in cases where projects went wrong, and is looking for success stories instead. Not only that – it even found some.

That's right...successful government IT heard it here first.

The audit office found no less than 24 bloody brilliant government projects. Admittedly, one of these was the Environment Agency's £200,000 grand fishing rod license scheme – but hey, a success is a success.

Christmas is coming

And it's getting colder. If your office is a little mean with the central heating then try the heated mousemat...It looks a bit like a large-mouthed dolphin – stick your hand, and mouse, inside, connect to a spare USB port, and all is well. If you're still cold, there are also USB-powered gloves and slippers.

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

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