Jokers, roamers, and the human sardine can

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Mobile phone roaming costs – up, up and away...

Ever dreamt that roaming abroad with your mobile might actually be a financially viable concept? That dream may be about to come true. UK company Awayphone is selling subscribers a SIM card which routes over the internet whenever possible and offers a local phone number in foreign territories. CEO Sherry Madera (yes, that is her name) claims this can save people a lot of money on call costs.

Operators have had it sweet for a long time, but with companies like Awayphone chipping away at the competition, they're having to rethink their strategies.

3 last week announced plans to make roaming free in some countries for customers, and 02 also seems to have realised this by offering existing punters the same handset and tariff deals as new customers in a bid to reduce network churn. Customers are not afraid of moving operators in search of better deals - UK network operators lose an average of 30 per cent of customers each year as punters search for a better handset or tariff.

Cisco's bug shot

Network giant Cisco has issued three security advisories to fix multiple flaws in its core operating system. The worst of the trio creates a means for hackers to load hostile code onto a range of Cisco routers and switches running IOS.

Results, results, results!

More quarterly results this week as Yahoo!'s net income dipped in December to $269m, compared with $683m recorded the previous year. The company has blamed increased stock compensation expenses for the low numbers.

EMC beat analyst and its own expectations to bring home a continued run of good figures. The storage firm's profits were helped by a $76.7m tax gain to a GAAP net income of $389m. Revenue for the last quarter reached $3.22bn.

Sneaky hacker tricks

Those pesky hackers have been at it again. This time they've defaced the website of hackers' defacement archive Zone-h.org. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't a defacement but a DNS redirect – visitors to the site were secretly redirected to another website that contained the slightly abusive phrase "screw you".

In other news, a hacker, who previously broke the DRM technology of HD DVD, has now cracked the copy protection on Blu-ray disks. Muslix64, as he or she is known, used a similar plain text attack in both attacks.

Where is Google Deutschland?

Google this week apologised after its German site disappeared overnight and was replaced by a page from domain holding company Goneo. Reports suggest a mix up over the ownership of goodle.de caused people to be redirected. Google said the website was unavailable, but did not mention a cock up at its end.

Linux bodies huddle together

Two vendor-backed Linux groups are to joining forces to get more sway over the standards and direction taken by the open source OS. Open Source Developer Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) will become a single entity called the Linux Foundation in a bid to look at enterprise Linux by sponsoring developers - including Linus Torvalds - and standardising applications across the different distributions.

IBM moves into MySpace territory

IBM has pledged to move customers towards the MySpace model with its Lotus product suite today. IBM said the product, due later this year, is the industry's first business-ready social software platform and will allow corporates to ape sites like MySpace, with "member profiles", user groups, blogs, and tagging. The question is, what makes it better than MySpace?

McAfee muckup?

Reports are coming in of application clashes with a recent upgrade of McAfee's VirusScan product affecting the running of Lotus Notes. The problem apparently causes Lotus Notes to display an error message informing users that they are not authorised to receive their own email.

'Rammed trains are safer than empty ones,' rail chiefs say

Sounds dumb doesn't it? The claim comes from the rail safety watchdog the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in response to a letter from an MP asking for action against First Great Western for the "appalling" service from West Berkshire to London. The ORR replied: "Research in the late nineties...found that where there was a crowded or overcrowded train carriage there was no detrimental effect to people involved in crashes." That makes us feel a lot better, then.

Porn scars reveal all

Porn stars are moaning that the high quality of HD filming is showing more detail than they would like. While the porn industry is known for being one of the first adopters of many media technologies, stars are reporting that scars and unwanted marks are now showing up on film. According to reports, porn star "Jesse Jane" now plans to undergo surgery to deal with her breast implants, which on HD appear to "bulge oddly on screen".

'We want NHS IT review,' say academics

Academics have published a "dossier of concerns" and asked for a technical review of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Professor Brian Randell has said the dossier will help Parliament's Health Select Committee with its pending inquiry.

Human microwave launched...

The US military has revealed a new crowd-control weapon that sends out a concentrated microwave beam. The "Silent Guardian" emits a 95GHz millimetre wave "active denial system" designed to repel crowds "without causing injury". Lovely.

The weapon has a range of 500 metres and heats its targets' skin to 50°C. According to the BBC, journalists who voluntarily put themselves in the firing line during a demonstration at an air base in Georgia "described the sensation as similar to a blast from a very hot oven - too painful to bear and forcing them to dive for cover".

Joker plays ID card

A man dressed as the Joker from Batman has blagged a national ID card from Dutch authorities. The 35-year-old man, with painted face, goofy grin, and hat was astounded that his new appearance was accepted without a hitch.

Even better, Dutch interior minister Johan Remkes, who now has to explain how this could have happened, rather brilliantly said: "We don't think there are many people dressed up as clowns in this country."

CCTV for camera safety

Authorities for the Scottish Borders are considering training CCTV security cameras on speed cameras to ensure the Gatsos are not vandalised. The Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership has had to replace three of the seven cameras after a spate of attacks.

Power and money – where does IT fit in?

Power consumption, cooling, and energy efficiency in the data centre are set to be top of CIO agendas this year. Over the past months, we have seen vendors focus on the issue of energy efficiency through various initiatives including HP's Smart Cooling, EMC's Energy Efficiency Tool, Sun's Cool Threads, the latest Energy Star Specification, and VMware's energy utility rebates.

Check out what's happening in this area in this analysis...

More Apple IP fuss

Watford-based security developer Securipod has accused Apple of applying a different set of standards in its wrangle with Cisco compared to disputes with smaller firms.

Securipod said it is "bemused" about how the biometric wallets it's developing might be confused with an iPod Mp3 player, but an Apple iPhone mobile device could not be confused with Cisco's iPhone. Apple's conduct amounts to bullying tactics in laying claim to the name Securipod, the UK security product developer alleges.

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

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