Oiled up Joker crashes Vista party

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Gates comes to London to launch Vista

Well, there was only topic on everyone's lips this week. Yes, exactly how many air miles did Bill Gates clock up touting Vista to a "whatever" world.

As far as we can make out, between last Friday and Tuesday, Gates popped up in Davos, New York, London, and Scotland. Who knows, maybe he even made it home for a shower and a quick spin for his washing. No wonder he appeared a trifle tired when he pitched up at the British Library to launch Vista to consumers.

And how did the long-awaited OS go down? Well, Microsoft may have shot itself in the foot publicity wise by launching it to corporates back in November. Plus, let's face it, anyone who really cares about these things has spent the last five years watching the feature set get pared down.

So...within hours we were being treated to claims that the much vaunted/bitched-about DRM had been hacked already.

On a more local level, British customers were complaining about Gates' tenuous grasp on the £/$ exchange rate when asked why UK punters are being charged almost double their US counterparts.

We could go on. Or you could go here for a complete listing of our Vista stories.

Yet another joker gets into the UK

Meanwhile, a joker – literally – made fools of Dutch and British border controls. Robert Coleman, himself a security guard by profession, flew to the UK using his national ID card, in which he was made up as Batman's arch enemy. With a hat. Apparently, Coleman made it as far as 10 Downing St, but had his card confiscated on his return to Holland. More details here.

Court rules on email harassment

Speaking of jokers, the California Courts have given employers similar protections to ISPs when it comes to liability for emails distributed via their systems. The case centred on claims that an Agilent employee used his employer's email system to send threatening emails to workers at another firm. More here.

(Please don't) Contact us

Let's stick with email. A security firm warns how the "contact us" button many firms have on their websites can be used by naughty people to subject companies to a type of DoS attack. Worried? Check here to see if you should be.

Halifax needs a little extra help...

Remember how mail mergers used to be such an annoying part of every day life? They still are at Halifax Bank of Scotland. Someone must be taking some heat after a woman in Aberdeen received account details for around 70,000 customers after requesting a simple statement of her account. The bank is investigating. As is the Financial Services Authority.

And so does Scotland Yard

Feeling overwhelmed by security worries? So is the Metropolitan Police, which admitted last week it is unable to cope with cybercrime since a shake-up of the forces arrayed against e-criminals following the creation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. One stand out figure – demand for associated forensic services is expected to increase by 30 to 40 per cent next year.

But Korea, Holland hit back

There was some good news on the security front though. No, we're not talking about Vista. Two men were arrested in Korea on suspicion of being tremendously prolific spammers – we're talking 1.6 billion unsolicited emails.

Meanwhile, two Dutch men who operated a botnet were handed jail sentences and fined. They both walked free, due to time already served while awaiting trial.

If you love someone, set them free – including the boss

They weren't the only ones who walked blinking into the light last week. Kevin Rollins' tenure as CEO at Dell has come to an end after just 30 months. Rollins is being replaced by...Michael Dell.

Dell (the company, not the CEO) has been having rough time for the last couple of years. Some might be reassured that the man who dreamed up the Dell model is coming back to take the helm. Others might remember how erstwhile Dell wannabe Gateway went through some similar management moves.

Meanwhile, Susan Whitney is to retire from her role as IBM's x86 server chief. Whitney is a 35 year IBM veteran – not including three stints as a Big Bluer while at college.

Back in the UK, John Oughton is moving on from his role as chief exec of the Office of Government Commerce. His replacement will be sought through a "competition". What'll be second prize we wonder?

GovIT? What a waste

GovIT watchers will no doubt be heartened by the news that government IT projects have overrun by more than £260m in the last five years. Lower than you thought? Yes, we thought so too. It all depends how you slice and dice the figures, apparently. Either way, the LibDems condemned it as "chronic mismanagement on an epic scale". Pity they couldn't have been more direct.

Prints all over the place

Sticking with confusion in the corridors of power, the Information Commissioner said this week that schools should ask both parents and children for permission before swiping their dabs. Last September, it said only kids needed to be asked, as long as they were old enough to make up their minds.

Though no one can make up their mind about when a child is old enough. It's enough to make you throw you throw up your hands – if you were sure someone wasn't going to grab a quick fingerprint.

It wasn't all bad news for govIT though. British boffins proudly unveiled a database of shoe characteristics, to enable British police to track crims by their footprints as well as their DNA, dabs. Apparently they have over 1,000 distinguishing marks for Nike trainers alone.

Offshoring? Not as cheap as you think

Thinking of cutting your costs by offshoring? Think again, says analyst Clive Longbottom, as globalisation push up wages in China and India. Yes, globalisation isn't all Starbucks and McDonalds. Sometimes the locals get something nice out of it.

Intel unveils trannys for a new generation

While software, in the shape of Vista, dominated headlines, there were advances on the chip front last week. Intel unveiled its upcoming 45nm chip architecture, sprinkling round phrases like high-k dielectric, metal gates and leakage reduction. The technology will go into production this year, and you guessed it, this all means Moore's Law is safe for a few more years. IBM chimed in with details of its own advanced tranny technology. Except for saying when it would ship.

While 3Com flashes its blade

Now, for some hardware that you can get your hands on right away... 3Com has unveiled Linux-based blades for its 6000 Routers. It runs open source applications you know, and the company hopes to build an "ecosystem". Who doesn't?

Meanwhile, Cisco used its annual beano in Cannes to unveiled a rake of Gigabit and Power over Ethernet kit.

And IBM, BT, Symantec and Citigroup flash the cash Course, buying some new kit isn't enough for some. Companies signing on the dotted line this week include Softek which has taken the IBM shilling. Or should we say, an undisclosed sum? Symantec took control of Altiris, in exchange for $830m. BT boosed its North American operations by snaffling up International Network Services. And Citigroup pocketed Prudential's Egg online bank for a bargain £575m.

Google underachieves

Google failed to excite the markets this week, announcing a mere 176 per cent increase in profits for the fourth quarter. Honestly, talk about underachievers.

eBay, meanwhile, upped revenues and profits by 29 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Creative Technology's numbers also received a boost, as Apple took a license for its MP3 player patent – albeit unwillingly.

And finally...

Spare a thought for the Ohio student who stripped naked, covered himself in grapeseed oil and ran around his school's lunch hall. Taylor C Killian got a double tasering for his trouble. The local police said: "He said he was looking to create some excitement and get an adrenaline rush. Hindsight being 20/20, [he] should have ate a burger instead. Put a jalapeno on it. I don't know."

Perhaps there's a lesson right there for the Microsoft marketing machine. See you same time next week. ®

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