17th > June > 2003 Archive

Intel and Sun add X factor to mobile Java

There was a time when Java was seen by many as too slow for desktop applications, let alone mobile devices, writes Rob Bamforth, of Bloor Research. Over the years two things have happened to greatly improve performance. The general implementation of Java has evolved and matured. Secondly, widespread adoption has led to unexpected collaborations. This is especially true where the caffeine hits the silicon, with Java optimised for hardware. However the most recent collaboration is as surprising as it is important. Intel and Sun, who are direct competitors in several areas, have jointly announced a collaborative effort to optimise Java for the Intel XScale silicon technology. XScale technology is designed for low milliWatt to MIPS ratios to give longer battery life for good compute performance for mobile devices. XScale processors include the PXA255 and PXA26x plus the recently introduced PXA800F cellular processor. Devices based on XScale technology include Palm Tungsten C, Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX, HP iPAQ 5400, Motorola A760, Dell Axim X5, Toshiba e550 series and several of the Sony CLIEs. Sun and Intel are optimising the Hotspot virtual machine (VM) for Sun's Java definition aimed at mobile devices known as the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC). This is one of the two configurations of lighter weight specification of Java for smaller devices, Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME). The Hotspot VM is designed to try to get the best software performance for Java by a number of optimisation techniques aimed at the key areas (hot spots) of code which will affect performance the most. The first output from this joint work should be delivered to OEMs in the next three months, and devices incorporating the optimised Java by the end of the year. Both Sun and Intel expect further collaborative developments in the future. As an elegant object oriented programming language Java attracted developer interest, but Java's promise of "write once, run anywhere" was never quite true. Java created a standardised abstraction layer across a wide variety of otherwise very specialised platforms. This has allowed expertise, skills and some significant pieces of software development to be moved and reused in a platform independent manner. The price paid for abstraction was efficiency and ultimately performance. Especially on less powerful platforms. This collaboration is significant because of Intel's recognition of Java as a popular and widespread software platform for real applications that demand the best performance out of the underlying hardware. It's good news for the developers of mobile Java applications, as it will give them more options for innovation in performance hungry multimedia applications. The Java platform was originally developed for a prototype wireless handheld multimedia consumer device, the "*7", well before it achieved fame through applets in the web browser and enterprise server environments. With the levels of performance soon to become available, it's heading back to its roots. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 17 Jun 2003

Shop VAT fraudsters (or else)

Small firms should be aware of possible VAT fraud by their suppliers or they may be landed with a large tax bill themselves, according to accountancy firm Grant Thornton. The warning follows a decision by Customs and Excise to pursue companies for unpaid VAT if they were aware of, or had reasonable grounds to suspect, tax wasn’t paid on goods somewhere in the supply chain. Although the rules will not come into force until the upcoming Finance Act is passed, the government says it will act retrospectively on any VAT dodging that has taken place since April 10. Grant Thornton warns small firms to put in place procedures to ensure they could prove to officials they had not turned a blind eye to VAT fraud. Frank Hartley, VAT partner at Grant Thornton, said any business which bought or sold equipment would need to prepare itself for the “sweeping” new rules. “If they do not, they run the risk of leaving themselves accountable for the VAT liabilities of other businesses both up and down the supply chain. “I am very concerned that the discussion already held on this subject has been focussed exclusively on fraud and may have led some businesses into a false sense of security. “The measure is clearly aimed at the problem of VAT fraud, but unwary businesses may get caught if they are not careful,” he said. Although the Treasury and Customs and Excise have promised to carry out a consultation on best practice in enforcing the new rules, it is expected firms implicated in VAT fraud will be dealt with harshly. The government’s tough stance on tax cheats follows similar statements of intent from the Inland Revenue, which has warned tax dodgers they have “nowhere to hide” in the UK, and has promised prosecution for those committing fraud. © Related stories Customs wins £13m VAT carousel case Five years jail for mobile phone VAT fraudster HM Customs VAT probe paralyses UK CPU broking Seven charged in VAT fraud investigation Customs arrest 22 in £50m VAT fraud probe
Startups.co.uk, 17 Jun 2003

3G phones. Another staff headache

A 3G phone could give an unscrupulous employee the opportunity to photograph or film someone in work and send it instantly to a colleague or friend, breaching employee confidentiality. More seriously, 3G phones could be used as a means of sexual discrimination such as a male employee sending an image of a female colleague to his friends or co-workers. According to business advisor Croner, bosses need to be aware of 3G mobile phones being used by staff to discriminate or harass their colleagues. Under current employment legislation the use of mobile phones at work is at the employer’s discretion and it is their responsibility to ensure that employees are made aware of the guidelines. But despite the new issues presented by 3G phones, the government has no plans to update the law. Therefore Croner urgeds employers to update and clarify existing polices to avoid a potential sex discrimination case. It advises bosses to base a policy on standard rules of confidentiality and said employers were well within their rights to request their staff do not bring 3G phones to work. Richard Smith, corporate and training manager and expert in employment law at Croner Consulting, said it would not be long until photo or video messages were used as evidence in a sex discrimination trial, unless businesses updated their policies on the use of 3G phones in the workplace. “We can make a parallel with the Internet and email – it was virtually unheard of ten years ago for companies to have a policy on the use of Internet and email. "Nowadays such policies are vital to ensure employees don't spend too long using company resources for personal means, and to avoid the circulation of inappropriate material, such as pornography," he warned. ©
Startups.co.uk, 17 Jun 2003

Cube protection cracked by pirates?

Hackers working on breaking the copy protection systems employed by Nintendo's GameCube have caused a stir by posting binary images of several Cube games to the Internet - but their claims are more than slightly exaggerated. Several sources reported yesterday that online piracy group "StarCube" has effectively broken the thus-far impregnable security systems of the GameCube, with CD images (called ISOs) of popular games being made available online. The group itself, however, admits that there's presently no way of playing its "ripped" disc images on a GameCube - or on any other piece of hardware for that matter - and suggests that its release of the pirated files is designed to be of informative interest to other hackers only. Some sources have reported rumours that the pirate discs can be played on the Panasonic Q, as it reads standard DVDs, but in the absence of any proof whatsoever of this claim, we'll put that down to wishful thinking on the part of the pirates. That hasn't stopped plenty of people from getting excited (or in some cases, angry) over the prospect of pirated GameCube games. However, this isn't even a very major step in that direction; although Cube discs are very difficult to copy, other more scrupulous groups have successfully managed to do so in the past, but have not posted illegal files based on their efforts in the way that StarCube has. The proprietary discs used by the Cube continue to make copying of its games nigh-on impossible. Were it not for this, piracy would be a worrying spectre for the GameCube; with such small discs, the files for "warez" copies of Cube games would be much easier to download than most PS2 or Xbox titles. Thus far, the PS2 has been relatively unaffected by piracy, mostly due to the high cost of installing mod chips to the system. The Xbox, however, appears to be suffering greatly from the problems of piracy, with cheap and easy to install mod chips plentiful on the market, and applications in existence which will allow PC-style piracy by copying an entire game to the Xbox hard disc. © gamesindustry.biz
gamesindustry.biz, 17 Jun 2003
Broken CD with wrench

Ingres: the forgotten database

Ingres (technically, Advantage Ingres Enterprise) is, arguably, the forgotten database. There used to be five major databases: Oracle, DB2, Sybase, Informix and Ingres, writes Phil Howard, of Bloor Research. Then along came Microsoft and, if you listened to most press comment (or the lack of it), you would think that there were only two of these left, plus SQL Server. The perception is that Informix, Sybase and Ingres are all dead in the water. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, IBM is continuing (despite claims to the contrary by Oracle) to grow the Informix user base. However, the big news that you won't have heard is that Ingres is by far the fastest growing database of these three and, although I don't have figures to corroborate this, it is not unlikely that the growth of the user base for Ingres is comparable to that of the 800lb gorillas. This may seem a remarkable statement. If it's true, why hasn't it been picked up by IDC or other firms that do this sort of statistical analysis? The answer is simple: Computer Associates doesn't count product sales in the same way that other companies do. If you license Unicenter from CA then that counts as a sale of Unicenter. It doesn't count as a sale of anything else. But Ingres has been embedded within Unicenter for 7 years. Every sale of Unicenter has been a sale of Ingres but not one of the latter has been counted by CA as such a sale. Now, put yourself in Larry Ellison's shoes (if you really want to): do you really think that sales of Oracle Financials do not get counted as sales of the Oracle database? Of course they do. From a marketing perspective it is entirely legitimate to count this as a sale of both products, as long as you don't do so from a revenue perspective. Let's go back to CA. Ingres is not only embedded in Unicenter, it is also embedded in BrightStor, eTrust and EDBC (which is the company's middleware connectivity product). In fact, CA is in the process of embedding Ingres in every one of its products (of which there were over 1,200 the last time I counted) that requires a relational database. Put the sales of all of those products together, plus the fact that CA is growing the Ingres user base directly (particularly through VARs and ISVs) and you get a product that is actually growing much faster than you thought: you may have forgotten about it, but CA certainly hasn't: Ingres is much more widely used and deployed than most in the market would give it credit for. Unfortunately for those that want to get a true picture of the market, CA does not limit itself to single counting Ingres. It does the same thing for CleverPath Portal and for Neugents, thus under emphasising the impact of both the portal product and CleverPath Predictive Analysis Server (which is used to develop the Neugents that are embedded to provide predictive analysis capability within applications). No doubt it does the same thing for other products too. Maybe I should congratulate CA for not playing the game - when there are marketing sharks in the water it is certainly safer to keep your toes out of the pool - but it leads to the rest of use getting even more misled. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 17 Jun 2003

Hynix to boost DDR 400 production

Hynix is ramping up the production of 400MHz DDR SDRAM on the back of expectations that demand for this type of memory will balloon during the rest of the year, the company said yesterday. The Korean chip maker believes demand for 400MHz DDR will be driven by Intel's latest Pentium 4 chipset families, the i865 and i875, which support the processor's 200MHz frontside bus, quad-pumped for an effective bus speed of 800MHz. That's naturally aligned to 400MHz DDR's 200MHz bus speed. So too is AMD's Athlon XP, which now supports a 400MHz frontside bus. Hynix reckons that DDR 400 will account for 35 per cent of DDR sales by the end of the year, and it's upping its production capacity accordingly. DDR chips make up 80 per cent of its DRAM output, the company said. It now wants DDR 400 to account for 90 per cent of that figure, having originally set a 60 per cent year-end target. Hynix also said that its 512Mb DDR 400 memory chips have been given the thumbs up by Intel. The chip giant validated Hynix?s 256Mb DDR 400 part back in February. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Jun 2003

Roll up for LinuxUser & Developer Expo

The line up for a major Linux conference in Birmingham this month is taking shape. To paraphrase The Two Ronnies, there's a packed programme ahead. Heavyweight in the open source community such as Alan Cox, Jon 'Maddog' Hall and Tim O'Reilly are down to present keynotes at the show, which is part of the Networks for Business 2003 conference taking place at the Birmingham NEC on June 24-26. Political support comes from Liberal Democrat party spokesman on Education and Skills, Dr John Pugh MP, who is also speaking at the conference. The LinuxUser & Developer Expo - The Linux Zone, will be launched at this year's Networks for Business 2003 (formerly Networks Telecom) event. The zone is sponsored by LinuxUser & Developer Magazine. The Register is a media sponsor too. Exhibitors at the new Linux zone include IBM, HP, Digital Networks UK, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, SGI, SuSE, Holborn Book, SmoothWall, Transtec, iTS-LiNUX and UKLinux.net. Plenty of big names, then. Executives from these companies will present during a variety of business and technical seminar tracks to take place during the show. This year, Clive Harris, IBM (EMEA) Linux and Grid Service Leader will present The Business of Linux, and Judy Chavis, Worldwide Director, OS Alliances Software CTO Industry Standard Servers, HP will present Leading Linux into the Enterprise. Tremendous. So what are you waiting for? You can sign up to attend the show here. Registration for the conference costs £50 + VAT for a day or £90 + VAT for a three-day pass. ®
John Leyden, 17 Jun 2003

Linus Torvalds leaves Transmeta

Linus Torvalds, creator and chief maintainer of the Linux kernel is moving on, ending a six year association with chip company Transmeta. "I've decided to take a leave-of-absense after 6+ years at Transmeta to actually work full-time on the kernel," he wrote in a posting to the kernel mailing list. Larry Augustin has found a sponsor in the shape of OSDL, the non-profit Open Source Development Lab whose own sponsors are listed here. "Transmeta has always been very good at letting me spend even an inordinate amount of time on Linux, but as a result I've been feeling a little guilty at just how little "real work" I got done lately. To fix that, I'll instead be working at OSDL, finally actually doing Linux as my main job." ® "I'm very pleased that we were able to create a place where Linus will be able to work full time on the kernel," said Augustin. ® Related Stories A very old Linus interview Torvalds blesses DRM, and nothing happens [letters]
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Jun 2003

Motorola appoints insider as chip unit chief

Motorola has quickly replaced outgoing Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) chief Fred Shlapak with Scott Anderson. Shlapak announced his decision to quit his post as SPS' president just a couple of weeks ago. He took the job on in September 2000, replacing interim president Fred Tucker who himself took over from Hector Ruiz following the latter's move to head AMD. Shlapak has worked for Motorola for 33 years. Anderson is an insider too - of 25 years' standing. He current runs the company's Transportation and Standard Products Group. As part of SPS, the Group sells chips to the automotive industry. Indeed, according to Motorola, it represented nearly half of the Sector's $5 billion 2002 sales. Anderson has an insider's understanding of the chip unit - and the problems it faces, not least of which is the effect on morale of so many different chiefs, with different strategies and priorities, in recent years. Equally, he may lack the objectivity that an outsider would bring to the Sector. Anderson starts his new job on 1 July. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Jun 2003

Energis lodges new broadband complaint with Oftel

Energis has submitted a new complaint to Oftel under the Competition Act in a bid to increase the pressure on BT to loosen its "stranglehold on the [UK's] wholesale broadband market". The latest complaint - backed by Tiscali and Your Communications - highlights what Energis describes as the "exclusionary and anti-competitive pricing" of BT’s IPStream and DataStream broadband products. Energis - along with a number of others - complained to the telecoms regulator in April about price cuts that favoured BT and discriminated against alternative telcos. They claimed that BT had an unfair grip on the wholesale broadband market by pricing rival operators out of the ISP and corporate markets. But that complaint was made under the Telecommunications Act which Energis claims doesn't have the clout to deal with the matter. A complaint lodged under Competition law, on the other hand, has more teeth. Said John Pluthero, chief exec of Energis: "This shows the determination in our fight to ensure fair pricing for all customers in order to speed up the roll out of broadband in Britain and end BT’s stranglehold on the wholesale broadband market. "Our new complaint carries more weight under the Competition Act 1998 and will ensure that Oftel’s decision is fully scrutinised. We urge Oftel to examine the evidence in light of our new complaint and impose a swift and full price reduction upon BT’s Datastream." This latest episode of tension between the incumbent telco and those in the industry kicked off in April, when BT announced it was to cut the wholesale cost of its IPStream product. However, the move was savaged by those who accused BT of anti-competitive behaviour, claiming that the price cuts discriminated against operators with rival networks including those involved in opening up the local loop. They argued the price cuts applied only to BT's wholesale IPStream product, which provides an end-to-end ADSL service solely using BT's network. The cuts did not apply to DataStream products, which use competing national networks from alternative rival carriers. Last month BT bowed to pressure form Oftel and cut the cost of its wholesale Datastream product. However, Energis and others say the cuts are not deep enough. ® Related Stories 'Monopolistic' BT kicked where it hurts BT backtracks on broadband pricing cuts MP critical of 'unfair competition' from BT Two more telcos run to Oftel over BT BB 'margin squeeze' Oftel could block BT's ADSL price cut Thus complains to Oftel over BT ADSL 'margin squeeze' Tiscali blasts BT's 'anti-competitive' ADSL price cuts
Tim Richardson, 17 Jun 2003

Torvalds leaves Transmeta

Linux creator Linus Torvalds is to quit Transmeta after six years to work full time on the open source operating system's kernel. In an email posted on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, Torvalds announces the long-awaited 2.5.72 kernel release. But tucked down toward the bottom, he says: "The other big news - well, for me personally, anyway - is that I've decided to take a leave-of-absence after six+ years at Transmeta to actually work full-time on the kernel." To be fair, it seems that's largely what he's been doing at Transmeta. The chip company always said, when his appointment was announced back in early 1998, that he would be granted time to continue his work on the kernel. Indeed, the man himself admits that "Transmeta has always been very good at letting me spend even an inordinate amount of time on Linux" and "I do not expect a huge amount of change as a result, testament to just how freely Transmeta has let me do Linux work". "As a result, I've been feeling a little guilty about how little 'real work' I've been doing lately," Linus admits. Is he being political? Did he jump or was he pushed? Linus is a pretty self-effacing fellow, and his BS quotient seems pretty low, so it's worth taking the email at face value. So from 1 July, Linus will be working for the non-profits Open Source Development Lab, whose own sponsors are listed here. Larry Augustin, CEO of VA Software, an OSDL sponsor, said:"I'm very pleased that we were able to create a place where Linus will be able to work full time on the kernel." Oddly enough, we looked at the ODSL situations vacant column but there was no sign of a 'Full-time Open Source Deity, must be non-smoker' listed among the Wanted ads. Clearly the vacancy has been filled... Whatever, Linus is finally being paid to do what he loves doing most, and you can't fault him for that. ® Related Stories A very old Linus interview Torvalds blesses DRM, and nothing happens [letters]
Tony Smith, 17 Jun 2003

Winners named in £300m Laptops for Teachers gig

The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) has named 28 new suppliers for its Laptops for Teachers scheme. This is simply the first hurdle: the dealers and system builders have sailed through value for money, build quality, battery life and financial solvency tests to join 10 incumbent suppliers. Now they have to tough it out for the business, worth an estimated £300m over three years. (The pot was increased in January, when Charles Clarke, Education Secretary, announced the government's plan to pump in an extra £195m into the scheme.) Becta has learned a lesson from previous accreditation rounds. It now insists that all contractors supply a bullet-proof warranty that will survive their insolvency. The agency says the need for robust warranty arrangements has become "more apparent over the last twelve months". At the prices the laptop suppliers are charging, how can it be surprised? Here's a quote from Stephen Lucey, Director of Educational Technology, Becta: “Securing the inclusion of independently guaranteed warranty provision from the educational ICT supplier community represents a significant step change and will allow LEAs and schools to buy with confidence”. ® If you've got this far you will probably want to know the list of accredited suppliers. So here goes: Acer UK Ltd Akhter Computers Ltd Apple Computer International CBC Computer Systems (Kirklees) Ltd Centerprise International Ltd Chisholms Computers Ltd Compusys Computacenter (UK) Ltd Computer Village Egton Consulting and Technical Elonex plc Ergo Computing UK Ltd Evesham Technology Ltd Hi-Grade Computers plc Jarvis-MPC Systems Ltd Micro Warehouse Ltd Misco Computer Products NEC Computers UK Research Machines plc Stone Computers Teksys Ltd Time Group Ltd Tulip Computers UK plc VdotCOM Viglen Ltd Watford Electronics Ltd Westwood Associates Ltd XMA Ltd
Drew Cullen, 17 Jun 2003

Lawyers must be culled like rabbits – Nokia VP

Nokia's Erik Anderson, an American Finn, has enlivened many a presentation in the past. Now that he's Senior Vice President for business applications, the company's best communicator shows no sign of getting dull. Anderson spoke to The Register about the deregulation lobby, which is girding its loins for a fight ahead over the US wireless spectrum. US consumers already enjoy the "choice" of four incompatible digital wireless air interfaces (CDMA, GSM, TDMA, IDEN) - a choice that only a nerd would care about - with the result that capital investment is so low that cellphones rarely work indoors, and carriers exploit the differences in technologies to tighten their lock-ins. Anderson seems to have the measure of the lobbyists. "Such arguments very quickly get wrapped up in ideology," he told us. "And any ideological position can be taken to absurdity." "Competition requires rules, just like football. It can be healthy or it can be unhealthy." "In an unregulated environment the winner takes all. The only relevant thing is to kill your competitor. Winning or keeping your customers doesn't matter" "What would happen if the roads were unregulated?" he asks. "What if safety regulations were scrapped and the largest and heaviest cars were considered the safest? People would be driving tanks down the street." Actually, at times it feels that they already are. Only tanks don't roll over so easily. "Deregulation is one reaction to the mess," he told us. "But that mess is a reaction against the regulation philosophy. People look for easy answers. We deregulated the power industry in California with spectacular results. It really needs a more thoughtful analysis of competitive forces." As for spectrum deregulation itself, Anderson believes that the spectrum is a finite resource (and you can hear the sound of a hundred Apple PowerBooks being thrown to the floor in horror). So much for "Open Spectrum". Anderson takes a more subtle position than the ideologues, noting that government can make decision by inaction, too. But he doesn't sound like he believes that the regulators should be allowed to grow comfortable, he explains. "Legal services are drawing the blood out of the US economy. Speaking as an American living abroad - and this is my own position not Nokia's - I find it incredible that you can buy a house with a two or three page contract here, while it would run to thirty or forty pages in the US," he says. "'Odd' is the word - it's not entirely natural." "No one is eating the regulators, and they spread like rabbits. A Ronald Reagan only comes along every fifty years or so. The trouble is no one is eating the lawyers."® Related Stories Will the WiFi Bubble hypesters kill WiFi? Radio Intel - future or fantasy?
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Jun 2003

Power failure leads to BTo blackout

BT Openworld went titsup yesterday afternoon after power problems at a data centre in Ealing crippled the service. One reader was told by tech support that BT Openwoe's ADSL service was "down for half the country" yesterday afternoon hitting both home and business users. Unfortunately, no one at BT Openwound was available to comment on the size and scale of the problem. However, in a statement, BT's ISP said: "Just after 1500 today (Monday 16 June), BT suffered at power outage at its Ealing Data Centre. "The source of the incident has been traced to a point between the main power feed and its narrowband and ADSL servers. The cause of the power outage remains under investigation. This source of the short circuit was downstream from the backup generators, which would have otherwise compensated for an external power failure. "During the incident, narrowband customers were re-routed to gateways at other data centres, but regrettably some customers experienced delays re-connecting to the service. "All servers were restored at 1600, at which time the servers were brought back online. The servers then climbed back to full service, with slight delays caused by the necessary authentication of all users." News that BT's ISP went titsup yesterday coincided with the announcement that the monster telco was pensioning off BT Overandout in favour of a new relationship with Yahoo!. Under that arrangement, BT will provide broadband access while Yahoo! will supply the content. While the industry mulls over exactly what this will mean, Ovum analyst Jan Dawson already has a few ideas. "The BT Yahoo! Broadband model will set the tone for the future of broadband in Europe. The model is already established in the US, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes prevalent in Europe. "BT's move will make it much harder for all alternative broadband ISPs to get an edge, and may well lead to AOL dropping its pretensions to being a broadband access provider. BT's market share will rise as both BT Broadband and BT Yahoo! Broadband stimulate further take up for the incumbent," said Dawson. ® Related Story BT! and! Yahoo! in! BB! marriage!
Tim Richardson, 17 Jun 2003

Software is king – Check Point

Check Point, the firewall vendor, is planning a marketing assault on the clientless remote access market. SSL VPN appliance start-ups such as Aventail, Netilla Networks and Neoteris dominate this sector, but Check Point yesterday voiced its ambition to leapforg to the head of the pack. SSL VPNs are emerging as a simpler alternative to IPSec-based VPNs for remote access, and therefore a possible threat to Check Point's revenues from its VPN-1 product. In recognition, Check Point moved into the budget SSL-based extranet/VPN market last July, with a clientless version of its SecureVPN gateway. Now it plans to redouble its sales efforts. "We want to become the leader in clientless remote access," said Marius Nacht, Check Point's co-founder and CTO. Nacht made his comments at a press conference in London yesterday where he championed Check Point's software-based approach against hardware-centric rivals such as Cisco and NetScreen. ASIC architectures compromise flexibility, Nacht argued, repeating Check Point's view that improvements in standard server architectures will allow software firewalls to keep up to speed. Last month, Check Point announced plans to build greater "application intelligence" into its flagship VPN-1/FireWall-1 Next Generation products. Nacht singled out this ability to "dive deeper" into traffic flows and to provide better analysis tools as key planks in the company's development efforts. As an example of improved analysis tolls, Nacht refer to SmartView reporter, a firewall component which allows administrators to determine which firewall rules are most used or not used at all over a particular period. Mobile threats The telecoms bust has constrained Check Point's growth in the service provider marketplace, which nonetheless remains a key focus in the Israeli vendor's development efforts. David Aminzade, Check Point's wireless and broadband manager, said the company is re-engineering its core technology to fit the needs of carriers running GPRS and 3G networks. Check Point already provide products for border gateway security but wants to develop its technology to allow telcos more control, for example, barring pre-paid users for a particular country e.g. Chechnya (Aminzade's example). Conventional IP firewalls don't understand such rules (in Aminzade's words "you can't communicate with a Russian in Swahili") so Check Point has had to get to grips with GPRS tunnelling protocol. Work on Check Point's tunnel inspection technology is continuing with integration with telco fraud checking and billing systems due be completed early next year. Aminzade said Check Point has built flexibility into its architecture because of the uncertainty of the future security risks that may arise in mobile networks. Like us, he does not foresee the likelihood of smartphone viruses anytime soon. Denial of service and various forms of billing attack would appear to present the more immediate risks. These are problems Check Point has designed its technology to protect against. ® Related Stories Check Point bolsters apps security defences Check Point claims victory in Firewall/VPN tests Aventail touts SSL-VPN appliance When firewalls and intrusion detection just aren't enough Firewall/VPN vendors saw growth in 2002 Check Point upgrades SmartCenter Check Point brings out budget VPN NetScreen puts heat on software firewall vendors Mobile security needs to change with GPRS McAfee highlights mobile network threat risk
John Leyden, 17 Jun 2003

FAST buys AltaVista's enterprise search biz

FAST has bought the enterprise search business of AltaVista from Overture. The company is to migrate AltaVista's 200-plus customers to its own FAST Data Search suite. Terms of the deal are undisclosed but it's reasonably safe to infer that the purchase price was considerably less than the $100m (plus the promise of $70m perfomance incentives) shelled out by Overture for FAST's consumer business in February this year. Overture bought AltaVista for $140m in April. The paid search listing firm has now got the search technology in place, courtesy of FAST, and it has the search brand names, AltaVista and AlltheWeb.com. AltaVista needs a helluva lot of reviving, though. Now let's see how Overture combats mighty Google. ® Related stories Ask Jeeves flogs enterprise search biz Ask Jeeves: Why did you junk Espotting for Google? Overture buys FAST's web search biz AltaVista flogged to Overture Yahoo! buys! Inktomi! Inktomi back to square one after Verity search sale
Drew Cullen, 17 Jun 2003

Brits flash the Net cash – £2bn a month

British adults are buying £2 billion a month worth of stuff over the Net. Research from the Royal Bank of Scotland discovered 51 per cent of men with internet access used the Web every single day compared to around 41 per cent of women – another 26 per cent of men used the Web at least three times a week. Most respondents spent less than £100 online in an average month, reflecting the popularity of low-cost items purchased via the Internet, but ten per cent admitted to spending more than this. The average online spend across genders and age groups was just over £86 per person, per month, but the bigger spenders were males who spent an average of £95. The survey found that 25–34 year-olds used the Internet every day. Although older people were less likely to have the internet, those who did in fact surf the net – "silver surfers" - did so more frequently than those in younger age groups - 43% of older internet users used it everyday compared to only 28% of 16-24 year olds. Richard Johnson, Head of eCommerce at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the results demonstrated some interesting demographic differences in people’s online behaviours. CDs, DVDS and videos (41 per cent ) and books (31 per cent) remain the most popular internet purchases - nearly one in three women (31 per cent) but only 18 per cent of men have bought clothes online and 26 per cent of all adults have purchased travel online. Nearly a quarter – 22 per cent – of all women have bought groceries or wine over the web but 10 per cent of men have done the same. In contrast nine per cent of men but only 2 per cent of women have purchased electrical goods online. ©
Startups.co.uk, 17 Jun 2003

IT subbies out of work and out for the count

The UK Government is ignorant of the true scale of unemployment and the downturn in IT industry. So says the Professional Contractors Group (PCG), which claims that inaccurate unemployment figures has given Government a false impression about the true health of the UK's IT sector. Yesterday PCG Chairman, Simon Griffiths, wrote to the Prime Minister telling him of the despair felt by many contractors who were out of work. The letter - along with a dossier highlighting the problem - followed comments made by the PM last month that "there are increasing employment opportunities in IT." This angered the PCG, which received hundreds of personal testimonies from freelancers and IT contractors who are out of work or in jobs where their skills are not being used. The PCG believes that the Government's perception of the IT sector is based on dodgy stats. Mr Griffiths told the PM in a letter: "We believe that the majority of IT workers who are currently unemployed are not reflected in the official unemployment figures because very few of them are claiming the Jobseekers Allowance. "In fact, we believe that there is a strong case for investigating a different category of jobseeker that is available for work in highly specialised areas, but is not seeking to claim benefit. This, we believe would give a more accurate picture of the unemployment situation with regard to independent freelancers." Last month the PCG wrote to the PM asking him to explain why he believes there is full employment in the IT sector. The PCG has yet to receive a reply. ® Related Story So Mr Blair, you really think techies can all get jobs?
Tim Richardson, 17 Jun 2003

Privacy in the workplace is a 'myth'

AnalysisAnalysis Doubts about the effectiveness of regulations designed to safeguard privacy in the workplace have surfaced just days after the long-delayed rules were introduced. Last week the UK Information Commissioner published a code of practice on surveillance in the workplace. This requires companies to inform employees if they are monitoring phone calls, emails and Internet use. The Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said the guidelines try to balance the needs of employers with the rights of employees. However, critics say the Employment Practices Data Protection Code, more than two years in development, is still too vague. Dai Davis, an IT lawyer at Nabarro Nathanson, said the regulations fail to provide clear guidance. This is unsurprising, he notes, because the rules deal with issues touched by the very different requiremnet anti-terror, data protection, human rights laws and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. "The regulations are very late and still unsatisfactory," Davis said. "What the Information Protection Commissioner says is not law, just guidance. The Commissioner is only the policeman trying to interpret very complex offences. It will be ultimately up to European courts to decide where the law stands." According to early reports, businesses which fail to comply with the new code of practice could be taken to court by disgruntled employees. But Davis argues that this is expensive and unlikely to happen. For the same reason, the Commissioner is unlikely to use the law as a tool against firms which fail to implement the code. Jamie Cowper, a technology consultant at messaging specialist Mirapoint, warns that employees should be under no illusion that the code guarantees email privacy. "Essentially, any communication that goes over a company's network is the property of that organisation. It is the organisation that is ultimately liable for even accidental security breaches, so unnecessary risks should be protected against," he said. Currently, many firms monitor their employee's online activities, in order to guard against spam, viruses or the circulation of inappropriate material within offices. This level of monitoring can still to be justified, according to Mirapoint, providing that companies define a clear email policy and communicate it to employees. Employee management firm Websense supports the call for a clear, written policy as the foundation of a firm's monitoring practices. However, this remains a vexed legal and ethical issue, according to chief technology officer Harold Kester. "Whenever you have monitoring there is a risk of abuse. This has to do with managing employees' expectations of privacy," he said. ® Related Stories Big Bother for Big Brother firms Email snooping code of practice delayed IT workers expect Big Brother-style snooping at work TUC gets arsey about RIP email laws
John Leyden, 17 Jun 2003

AMD extends Athlon XP-M mobile line to 2800+

AMD introduced three new mobile Athlon XP-M chips today, taking the line to 2800+ performance and beefing up the chip?s low-voltage product family with 1900+ and 2000+ models. The introductions take AMD?s Athlon XP-M family up to 23 models, comprising chips aimed at desktop replacement notebooks, mainstream portables, and sub-notebooks (the low-voltage chips). The 0.13 micron chips contain 512KB of on-die L2 cache and support frontside bus speeds of up to 266MHz. The XP-M 2800+ costs $230, while the low-voltage 1900+ and 2000+ cost $123 and $134, respectively. Prices are per processor when sold in batches of 1000 chips. All three processors are available today. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Jun 2003

Staff unrest at Lastminute.com

Lastminute.com could be facing legal action among call centre workers amid allegations that the online bucket shop has imposed new working conditions without proper consultation. A lawyer told the Guardian that there was "massive industrial unrest" at the call centre in Farringdon in London. There is even speculation that staff may have already taken the matter into their own hands with only one person turning up for work last Sunday, although this is denied by Lastminute.com. Staff claim that the new working conditions will lead to new shift patterns and possible pay cuts. No one at Lastminute.com was available for comment at the time of writing. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Jun 2003

Microsoft takes 15 spammers to court

Microsoft is taking on spammers on behalf of its beloved customers. Fifteen complaints were filed in the U.S. and U.K. against alleged spammers said to have sent out more than 2 billion e-mails. Microsoft held press conferences on both sides of the Atlantic to promote its campaign against "flooding Microsoft's customers and its systems" with spam. It's touching to see Microsoft back such a worthy cause. For some time, Hotmail users have had to put up with more than their fair share of spam. They need help. The legal action might also help clear up those pesky virus spams directed at Microsoft users. There's nothing worse than facing an inbox full of chocolate-covered schoolgirls and computer-crippling support notices at the same time. In the U.S., Microsoft is taking spammers to task under the Washington state antispam law, which provides ISPs with some measures to stop unsolicited email. Two civil suits were filed in the U.K. under the Misuse of Computers Act of 1990. "In some cases, defendants are alleged to have used deceptive and misleading subject lines to disguise e-mail messages that actually contained pornographic images, dating service solicitations and other adult services," Microsoft said in a statement. "One case involves e-mail messages that include a false virus warning." You don't say. Redmond is not depending on the courts to stop the spam scourge. Products such as MSN 8 and the upcoming Exchange and Outlook messaging client in Office 2003 will have "effective" antispam technology. Hopefully, Microsoft will push some of that effective technology over to Hotmail where messages users send to themselves from another account often end up in the Spam box, while notes from pistol-whipped midgets go right on through. ® Related Stories Spam makes kids feel 'uncomfortable and offended' Return to sender, false address unknown MPs hold public inquiry into spam
Ashlee Vance, 17 Jun 2003