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'As to Mars – it is a planet that does not like Earthlings'

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QuotW This was the week when recruiter Dominic Connor was stirring equal measures of admiration and ire from Reg readers with his calculated putdowns of IT job-getting skills, both at the application stage and once the BOFHs get their foot in the door.

It was also the week when Team Register got its hands on the hot list of PE12 VRT-ed licence plates banned from the UK's roads and the week when the newest fondleslab and pretender to the iPad throne, the Kindle Fire, got rooted and stripped down.

And it was the week when Steve Jobs still refused to leave the headlines despite having left this life, with the news that he had considered setting up his own networks so he could ditch mobile operators.

As if all that wasn't enough, it was also the week when Facebook got pwned by some seriously disturbed spammers who papered poor users' walls with smutty pics of Justin Bieber (photoshopped of course) and photos of dead animals. Once it had got things back under control, the social network said:

We've built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down the malicious Pages and accounts that attempt to exploit it. We have also been putting those affected through educational checkpoints so they know how to protect themselves.

It really wasn't Facebook's week, since it also had to back down from a row with Salman Rushdie over his Facebook profile that was being conducted on Twitter. The controversy-courting author took issue with the social network insisting on using his real name:

NOW... They have reactivated my FB page as 'Ahmed Rushdie,' in spite of the world knowing me as Salman. Morons. @MarkZuckerbergF? Are you listening?

Then later:

Victory! #Facebook has buckled! I'm Salman Rushdie again. I feel SO much better. An identity crisis at my age is no fun.

Web giant Google was thumbing its nose at pretty much everyone this week, first telling the world at large that it was up to them to stop their WiFi access point appearing on its location services by renaming it with a trailing '_nomap':

As we explored different approaches for opting-out access points from the Google Location Server, we found that a method based on wireless network names provides the right balance of simplicity as well as protection against abuse. Specifically, this approach helps protect against others opting out your access point without your permission.

And then opening up its Google Music service with words from Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s head of digital content for Android, that basically got all up in Apple's face:

The Google Music service will continue to be free. Other cloud music services think you have to pay to stream music you own - we don’t.

Meanwhile, patent and trademark disputes continued to figure prominently in tech news.

First, a porn company decided to get in on the action by suing HTC for its Vivid smartphone. The similarly-monikered Vivid Entertainment sent over a cease-and-desist letter telling the Taiwanese firm that naming their phone that infringed on their brand. HTC said:

We are reviewing the complaint and don't expect to have any further comment until it is resolved.

And then Samsung decided to avoid yet another spat with arch-nemesis and close colleague Apple by redesigning its Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market. Samsung spokesman Jason Kim said:

The newly modified device will be renamed the Galaxy Tab 10.1N and we've made two changes to the design. The design of the bezel has been changed and the speaker has also been relocated.

Over at Microsoft, Steve Ballmer rubbished the idea of spinning off any of the tech firm's divisions like VMWare and EMC have done before, or like HP is isn't is isn't doing with its PC business. The head honcho said:

There’s nothing I see as creating fundamental value in splitting the company up. Having minority investments makes it harder to manage synergies.

Finally, it was a good week and a bad week for space exploration. Russia pulled off getting the newest three crew members onto the International Space Station, but it also spent the week chasing the lost Martian probe Phobos-Grunt across the sky as it orbited uselessly around Earth after its engines failed to send it to the Red Planet. Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin was pragmatic about the whole thing though, saying the Russian space programme would continue and:

As to Mars - it is a planet that does not like Earthlings. Only 30 per cent of Soviet-Russian launches to Mars were successful, the Americans have had 50 per cent success, while all attempts by Japan and Europe have failed so far.

Meanwhile, NASA had its usual comforting statements to issue about potential catastrophes from space. The space agency said that solar flares next year wouldn't quite obliterate the planet, but still they were a bit worrying:

There simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth ... even at their worst, the sun's flares are not physically capable of destroying Earth.

[Solar flares are] a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem. One can protect oneself with advance information and proper precautions. During a hurricane watch, a homeowner can stay put ... or he can seal up the house, turn off the electronics and get out of the way.

And if that isn't feeding your 2012 end-of-the-world suspicions enough, the agency would also like to tell you that they have no way of knowing whether or not we'll be hit by a super-volcano next year:

Scientists have no way of predicting with perfect accuracy whether a supervolcano will occur in a given century, decade, or year – and that includes 2012. But they do keep close tabs on volcanically active areas around the world, and so far there’s absolutely no sign of a supereruption looming anytime soon. ®

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