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Beautiful faces, Trojans and Fasthosts

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It’s the end of the week. Thinking about that after work pint? Getting ready for the Rugby final?

Pity the bods at Gloucester-based Fasthosts then. The hosting firm warned customers on Thursday morning that it had called in police to investigate a major data breach.

Here’s the fun bit. It told us: "As a precautionary measure, Fasthosts has asked its customers to update their passwords. This includes their control panel, email, FTP, and database passwords, all of which can be changed via the customer control panel.” Don’t worry, it’s now implemented password encryption.

A bad week? Not even the start of it. The warning came a day after Fasthosts admitted that a botched upgrade had sent a substantial chunk of customer emails to the great waste paper basket in the sky.

Hello, Trojan calling

Got the old security antennae twitching now have we? Good. Looks like there’s a nasty Trojan marching around harvesting Skype user logins. The Trojan displays what seems to be the Skype log-in page, which then claims the data is not recognised. While the user scratches his chin, the data – as well as passwords, etc, in Explorer - is already well on the way back to the evil masterminds behind the whole shocking scam.

This, after eBay confirmed that a write down on the value of the VoIP operator had left it with a big fat loss for the quarter.

It wasn’t all bad news though. Skype did strike a tie-up with MySpace, which is the hottest place for the young and beautiful people to hang out on the net. Least it was two years ago.

Beautiful Facebook

Facebook, of course, is where the beautiful people are now hanging out. At least it was the last time we poked it. And that is the reason founder Mark Zuckerberg can say he just ain’t thinking about an IPO at the moment. Wait till they ain’t so beautiful Mark.

SAP buys Yasu’s greatest hits

And anyway, who needs an IPO when some big firm out there may just shower you with cash anyway. Last week saw SAP open its wallet for Business Objects to the tune of €4.8bn, before Oracle flashed its wad on Friday, bidding $6.7bn for BEA.

This week, SAP continued flexing its corporate plastic, hoovering up Indian-based rules software vendor Yasu Technologies. The sum was undisclosed, but is probably less than Business Objects got. But with just 120 employees, a little will go a long way at Yasu.

Money, money, money

Sticking with money, it’s earnings season. IBM saw overall revenues and profits up, but dreary old hardware couldn’t keep up with shiny services and software.

Intel was pleasantly surprised to shift more chips than expected, while Seagate was feeling the same about disk drives. Course, the tricky thing is, how quickly will those components turn into actual PCs that people will pay for?

Microsoft graduates UCS...

Yep, getting people to pay for stuff. Always tricky. Microsoft hopes people will pay for its shiny new Unified Communications Server, unveiled this week in San Francisco. Bill Gates called it "a complete transformation of the traditional PBX". Then said you could use it tandem with your existing PBX, attaching your PC and your desk phone. Or just using your PC. Or something. It’s all about communications, apparently.

...And reads our minds

And if Gates has his way, it won’t be just phones and PCs. The company has lodged a patent to understand how humans interact with computers BY READING OUR MINDS. Do we have to say more? Thought not. More here.

As Leopard leaps free

Gates didn’t get it all his way this week, though. Apple gave its acolytes something to dream about, telling them that Mac OS X 10.5 will appear next week.

Steve Jobs also cheered app developers by revealing it would indeed release a software development kit (SDK) next February. Did this contradict his earlier assertion that no SDK was needed for the one and true iPhone? Who cares, came the reply.

Still, some Apple fans might have been more cheered by the fact that Apple’s love-in with Orange in France might be complicated by the fact that exclusive tie-ins are a non-non under French law, raising the possibility of officially unlocked iPhones .

Amazon feels patent pain

Oh the law. Such a troublesome thing. Almost as bad as patents. Amazon had a tricky week, with the US Patent and Trademark Office rejecting a slew of claims in its controversial 1-click patent. You know, the one that some people think means it has patented a large chunk of ecommerce. Out of 26 claims in the patent, 21 have now been rejected.

EDS won’t kiss the sky

Wish someone had told EDS and BSkyB that. The outsourcing giant and the sat TV giant have squeezed themselves into a courtroom to argue the toss over a £48m contract for a customer service system that was first agreed in 2000.

BSkyB is demanding £709m after the deal went sour. Did we say sour? BSkyB’s lawyers allege deceit, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract by EDS as the case opened in the High Court this week. EDS says it will vigorously defend itself.

Russians fume over dodgy wiring jibe

No one likes to be accused of sloppy workmanship. So it’s no wonder some Russian techies got the hump this week over a dodgy wiring job. The job in question? Hooking up the computers on the International Space Station (ISS).

It seems a computer shutdown on the ISS – a potentially fatal situation we think you’ll agree – was caused by "a shocking design flaw [in that] there was a 'power off' command leading to all three of the supposedly redundant processing units."

The Russians had previously blamed the yanks for installing an enormous solar panel. Dodgy wiring? Solar panels. Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. More here.

A world of storage

OK, before we go, there was plenty of hardware hitting the streets, specially in the storage line. It is Storage Networking World week after all. Fujitsu dared say the SMB word when it announced a cut down version of its Fibre Channel line.

Meanwhile, the Storage Networking Industry Association has launched another green initiative. And Brocade has launched into the 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel market.

Nokia has something for your pocket, and your hand

If you’re looking for something you can slip in your pocket, Nokia might have something for you. This week saw the launch of its 8GB N95, followed quickly by the N810, its latest Linux-based Internet tablet, which it seems to be tipping more firmly towards the computer end of the market.

Mmm, flash phones, computers? Sounds like someone else we know. And yes, Anssi Vanjoki reportedly said: "We are competing with Apple on all fronts with all cylinders... Let the best man win." Yep, choose your weapons, sliders at 20 paces.

Fat cats bite back

Course, not everyone has the money to spare. Business lobbying groups are crying foul over Chancellor Alistair Darling’s proposals to overhaul Capital Gains Tax.

While some investors gain, those who’ve built up companies over years reckon they’ve been stuffed by the introduction of a flat 18 per cent rate and the axing of taper relief. So, curtains for fat cats then?

If you do have any lying around, and wanna get rid of em, don’t rely on the Fire Service to do your dirty work anymore. Lancashire Fire and Rescue said it will charge the next time it’s called to help a large person out of bed.

That’s it for now. We’re off for a long run and a sauna, so we don’t have to call the fire brigade next time we have to leave the office. ®

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