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HMRC still looking for disks - just don't ask Microsoft's Santa

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Santa Claus is coming to town - hide

It'll be Christmas soon enough, and we can all relax. Well, unless you're the developer behind the filthy Santa robot Microsoft stuck at the end of its festive Messenger progam.

A few ho ho hos, and the jolly old gent was alternately discussing oral sex and insulting message senders. Microsoft pulled the plug sharpish, and promptly blamed the kids for bullying the software into insulting them.

Booze gets you nookie

Sticking with the festive theme, it appears that drinking alcohol can lead to more nookie. This essential party season revelation was not considered a good thing by the researchers behind it. They seem to think this puts people at risk. Well, I guess some of the scenarios on those Lynx ads are quite dangerous.

OK, enough silliness. Let's get back to business.

Capita covers SMEs

Small business in fact. Congestion charge services firm Capita are coming after them big time. The services firm issued a bullish forecast this week on the back of a strong 2007. However, it said, it would be concentrating on winning more SME business. This after it saw corporate and government spending squeezed.

Spooks warn on China stranger danger

And if it isn't Capita, it's China, which is looking to take away your business secrets, MI5 warned this week. The counter spook spooks warned 300 British business that government backed red hackers were targeting their secrets via electronic espionage. The Chinese government has denied having anything to do with targeted hacking, while even security watchers noted it was highly unusual for one country to accuse another so openly.

Zuckerberg slapped by Judge – all over the net

Someone who no longer needs to worry about having his private info plastered all over the web is Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

He failed in a bid to stop a magazine publishing court documents that contained extracts from his college diary and his social security number. This in the same week that Facebook was forced to backtrack on its Beacon advertising program which served up users' shopping habits to their intimate Facebook friends.

Users can now switch the program off, completely. Still, who knows what other wheezes Zuckerberg and co will come up with next.

Whitehall loses wits over disk loss

Talking of bad jokes... the UK's political classes continue to reel under the impact of one technological-based embarrassment after another. The Information Commissioner told MPs that since the HMRC scandal broke, numerous other departments as well as private companies have come forward to cough up to their own breaches.

Meanwhile, the UK Justice Secretary has launched a nationwide investigation into how the court system updates the Police National Computer after a review earlier this year threw up flaws in the process.

HMRC ex-boss keeps low profile – in Cabinet Office

Meanwhile, eyebrows were raised when Paul Gray, the former HMRC boss who resigned in the wake of the scandal, will still be hanging around Whitehall for a while yet. In fact, he'll be working on special projects for the Cabinet Office. Like looking for those lost CDs, perhaps.

Gov offers disk award

And just to continue the ongoing rubbishing of government/IT convergence, the gov is offering a 20 grand reward to get the disks back.

That should turn the head of any criminals who've got hold of them and can't be bothered going through all the rigmarole necessary to realise the £1.5bn some reckon the info is worth to the baddies.

It wasn't just Whitehall that was having a little techie trouble. Scottish politicians were having a few issues themselves.

Pirates aren't on Vista

Going back to Microsoft, the vendor claimed that rates of counterfeiting of Vista are running at half that of Windows XP. Microsoft thinks this is a good thing. An alternative reading of supply and demand might suggest it's not. All the same, the software giant said it was going to ease up on some of the more draconian aspects of the OS's anti-piracy measures.

Microsoft all RC about the future

Meanwhile, Redmond has made release candidate 1 of the Vista Service Pack available for download. The final product appears sometime early next year. At the same time, release candidate 1 for Windows Server 2008 has also been made available.

The really, really long-awaited OS is slated for launch on 27 February, 2008. The theme of the launch will be "Heroes Happen Here". Does this mean you deserve a medal if you try to install it?

Web goes a little wibbly here, wobbly there

Things were going a little awry at both ends of the internet this week. A power cut in London knocked out half the servers in a Rackspace data centre leaving customers, shall we say, frustrated.

Meanwhile, customers at Fasthosts continued to fume over a botched password upgrade process following a security breach at the hosting firm. The cockup has left people locked out of their websites. The firm has been drafting in extra support staff, and has even committed to using first class post to get new passwords out. Well, that's more than the HMRC has done.

Google grabs for spectrum – why?

Google continued to baffle the world by revealing it planned to bid for a chunk of US spectrum. Everyone had been expecting it would make a grab for the chunk of the 700MHz band. The only problem is, no one has a clue what the search beast wants to do with it.

Penryn set for lappies

Intel said punters can expect 45nm, dual core Penryn chips to start appearing in mobiles next month. The cache-heavy new chips should have the same thermal envelope as the current range, meaning vendors can just whack 'em into their existing designs.

Welcome to the SAPiPhone

SAP dampened down speculation that it was in Microsoft's sights last week, but tried to make itself young and hip nonetheless by saying it would allow users to use their iPhone to access the next generation of its CRM software, courtesy of the Safari browser. Glory be – the Jesus phone goes corporate.

Ofcom demands faster number switches

Ofcom made life a little easier for anyone wanting to switch mobile providers while keeping their numbers. The UK cellcos had already been working towards a two day port early next year. Now, the regulator has mandated a two hour process by 2009.

AMD says schtop

AMD has clarified what has happened to its missing-in-action Barcelona chip. It hasn't stopped shipping because it was never shipping in the first place. Clear? There's a breakdown of Opteron breakdowns here.

Gold medals for computers

Who's won the contract to supply the 2012 Olympics with computers? The answer is here. It might not be who you suspected.

Dell gives into dealers

Dell's direct selling days may be over. The company has unveiled its partner programme and will be chucking marketing funds at anyone selling enough of its boxes. The firm has always flirted with the channel, but this looks like a more serious relationship.

Wiki-weak

It's been wiki week on the Reg. We've had the strange story of the secret mailing lists. And the even stranger story of the editing of the online grafitti board's section on short selling.Not to the mention German politicians calling for police action over the use of swastikas on the site. We also heard from founder Jimmy Wales who reckons students should be citing the site in their work.

This is costing you money, you know

This week, some in-depth research into just how much the Reg is costing you. With the recession upon us we thought it time to see just how much damage we were doing to the world's economy.

We've also been trying to garner just who you are, beloved readers. Go here to let us know what you like and dislike about the Reg and how we can do a better job of serving you up your daily dose of IT news. You know you want to. ®

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