11th > July > 2003 Archive

3 UK adds NEC e808Y to handset roster

3 UK has added a fourth 3G phone to its line-up. The NEC e808Y, a non-folding version version of the NEC e808 3 UK already supports, costs from £49 with a contract. We can't see many people buying a phone without a contract - the full price is £449. Which goes to show the huge discounts that 3 is prepared to offer to grab punters. The NEC e808Y has a large colour screen, built-in camera and 'Qwerty' keypad for text messaging. The phone comes essentially offers to same functionality as the e808 in a different form factor. As you'd expect from a next generation phone, the e808Y supports applications such as video and photo messaging, video calling, email, calendering and the rest. There's also Java games support, multi-tasking (so you can make calls whilst using other 3 services) and built-in USB connectivity. The phone, which weighs less than 200g, offers talk time of around 200 minutes and video call time of 101 minutes when fully charged. Standby time for the e808Y is 70 hrs. A spokesman for 3 UK said the company began selling the e808Y from its own stores and other selected retail outlets this week. The phone joins the NEC e606, Motorola A830 and NEC e808 in 3 UK's portfolio. The prices (with contract) of all these phones starts at £49 - much cheaper than they were even two months ago. The NEC e808Y will be available to subscribers of the 3G mobile operator's Kit and Caboodle and VideoTalk contracts as well as user's of 3 UK's 3toGo (pay as you use) service, our man at 3 UK added. ® External Links 3 UK's handset range - now they have four and more on the NEC e808Y Related Stories 3 UK extends half price handset promo Content is king for 3G. But what content? 3 moves into Superdrug Hutch sues KPN over 3 funding (or lack of)
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2003

Cheap DSL will hurt providers: report

A broadband strategy based on cut-rate prices could hurt the commercial viability of broadband providers, a new report says. Cheap broadband availability, specifically DSL, would trip up broadband providers in the same way that it impeded the viability of dot-com companies, since cheap or free services aren't viable in the long-term, a new report released by consultancy company Ovum says. The report said that DSL broadband operators around the world are at risk of falling into the same competition trap as Japan and South Korea by basing their marketing strategies on cheap pricing. Stiff competition among operators in Japan and Korea has led to prices being cut to unsustainable levels. Operators in these countries now have to sell extremely generous service offerings at slashed prices of less than EUR10 per Mbps. This is in contrast to countries such as the US, Germany or France, where the same level of service would cost EUR35, EUR61 and EUR85 per Mbps respectively. "The cost structure in Asia Pacific may be different from Europe and North America, but it is highly unlikely it can support such price cuts," says Michael Philpott, senior analyst with Ovum. "Sooner or later, Japanese and South Korean operators will have to change their business strategy if they are to survive." Philpott also warned against giving away advanced DSL broadband services, which could provide valuable revenue streams to providers. "They should remember that offering multiple 'free services' was one of the downfalls of the high-tech bubble," Philpott continued. But the report notes that as competition in the broadband sector takes hold, operators in other countries are in danger of falling in the price-war trap. In the US, DSL operators are under increasing pressure from cable players and have been dropping their broadband prices and offering free advanced ISP services such as parental control and home networking. In countries where competition is less of an issue, DSL providers often come under political pressure to provide cheap broadband, the report said. Many countries use their neighbours as their benchmark for the availability of broadband and governments press providers to make cheap broadband widely available. "If government pressure is matched by funding or better regulations then it won't work against the operators," said Philpott speaking to ElectricNews.Net. The report suggests that operators create a tiered charging structure to prevent the commoditisation of broadband, whereby different tariffs would be created for different types of users. "Currently 5 percent of broadband users utilise 50 percent of resources," said Philpott. "It would be fairer if tariffs were tiered to take usage into account." © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 11 Jul 2003

Iraq: the view from the ground

With post-war Iraq continuing to create huge controversy - non-existent WMDs, organised Iraqi resistance, uncaptured Saddam, little or no electricity or running water - we thought we'd look at the wholly less controversial issue of IT infrastructure. What there is, what there was and what efforts are being put in to make it better. Aside from a range of information sources, we have also been lucky enough to be in contact with an IT contractor and Register reader working out there who has given us a fascinating account of what is going on from the ground, free from censorship and politics. It is no secret that in the original Gulf War the country's communication infrastructure was targeted - hardly a surprise when you consider the military value of broken communications. Since then, the embargo placed on Iraq has made it extremely difficult for the country to install the kind of IT infrastructure we take for granted in the rest of the world. There is for example an extremely limited internal and international phone system, almost no computer network, phone coverage is extremely patchy even in city centres and there is still no direct cable Internet link to the rest of the world. Instead, Iraq's tiny and centralised Internet access has always been put through a single government-run domain - Uruklink.net - connected by satellite. That the Internet has passed Iraq by is proven by the fact that the .iq country-code domain is still owned by one Saud Alani and his brother Bayan Elashi - both of whom live in Texas and both of whom are currently in US jail accused of funding Palestinian terrorists. Perhaps an indication of the slow progress in Iraq is the fact that ICANN has still not received a formal request for the Iraq domain to be redelegated (something that is inevitable). When the US over-ran Afghanistan redelegation of the .af domain began just three weeks later. Needless to say, the latest attack on Iraq by US and UK forces has destroyed what little infrastructure there was remaining. Uruklink.net went down almost as soon as the attack began three months ago and only recently came back online. According to our source on the ground: "As for ISPs or networks, there are none unless you use a satellite cellular phone. The long distance/international phone system was destroyed in the bombing, and little (if any) progress has been made thus far to assist them with rebuilding anything. Dialup on a satellite phone is not fun at all. "Even with a supposed worldwide phone, coverage is still very, very hard to get as there are no towers left (that function, as far as I know). On casual trips into town, you can see lots of communications towers, TV towers, etc. but the people to man them and keep them running are in very short supply. Materials (spare parts, etc.) are extremely difficult to come by, and so the locals here have been pretty ingenious in keeping things running." And things aren't getting better very fast either, for good reason. "Internet and communications are about dead last on the list. We're still concerned with power and water right now... communications won't be for about another six months to a year." The military is of course able to communicate using satellite systems and so is concentrating on the essentials - and are being hampered by the huge damage the bombing has done and occasional acts of vandalism and sabotage by disaffected Saddam supporters. Incredibly though, despite years of authoritarian rule, the entrepreneurial spirit has found a way: "Since the war, all the underground business here have come out of the woodwork," says our man. "Satellite TV, cellular phone shops, you name it. All of these were forbidden in Saddam's time. I was able to go into a little town and purchase a complete computer system, CD burner, modem and network card, etc. for $430. There are satellite shops on the main street, and plenty more hidden away." And the Internet it appears is somehow filtering through: "Very, very few people are currently online but more are setting up websites and such, and I'm starting to see more email addresses on business cards. Surprisingly, most I have seen are Yahoo email addresses." With the close observation placed on all Internet traffic in Saddam's time now lifted and with ISPs non-existent, it seems Iraqis are taking advantage of free email services to communicate and escape censorship. With Microsoft often considered to be in bed with the US government and military, Yahoo rather than Hotmail it seems is the email system of choice for freed citizens. Despite patchy electricity - meaning that all businesses ran happily with computers - there is a clear demand for PCs and with that has inevitably come the demand for software. Our man tells us: "Software piracy is rampant here. There is a shop here that will sell you CDs containing any kind of software you want (Visio, Photoshop, etc.) complete with serial numbers. Nobody thinks anything bad of it, either. Low-quality and/or sloppy work has become the norm here with the locals, so when Americans come through and show them a better way of doing things, they're surprised but are starting to follow the example. It's almost as if innovation and creative thought was shut off but is now slowly starting to come back." Which would be a nice way of ending our quick insight into Iraq's IT problems, except for the heavy criticism levelled at the US administration in both Washington and Baghdad by people that have had first-hand experience. Senior American official Timothy Carney who was key in helping rebuild post-war Iraq has strongly criticised the US reconstruction plans, saying there was a lack of resources and too little priority was given to rebuilding. That other government ministries were comprehensively ransacked and museums looted while oil fields and the ministry dealing with oil were mostly left unharmed due to heavy military protection has been pointed at by critics as a selfish and transparent decision by the Bush administration with regard to their war aims. Carney said the decision to put the reconstruction team under military control was the wrong one. And that the lack of effort put into rebuilding the phone network was hampering other efforts. He accused the White House of not thinking through its plans properly. Criticism of the US administration was continued by the official adviser to the US and UK of constructing a post-war media network. Stephen Claypole went public to say that political pressures had undermined the aim of creating an impartial media. Instead, he said, the US was using complete control of TV and radio stations to its own ends. He also pointed to the annihilation of the TV and radio stations and transmission infrastructure by precision bombing during the war and complained of constant communication troubles even with satellite phones. Despite all the evidence that IT is very low on the priority list, however, some good news has been filtering through and predictions for the growth of mobiles and computers are extremely optimistic. The EU for example this week agreed to lift the trade embargo so Iraq now has access to whatever goods it needs. Motorola has been granted a big contract for the country. Rebuilding of schools and colleges has been pushed higher up the agenda, including Internet cafes. And a research company called Madar Research has predicted that Iraq will spent $6.4 billion on information and communication technology by 2008 - equivalent to eight per cent of its Gross Domestic Product. It is also pointing to triple-digit growth in mobile phone and Internet use by 2008 - although considering the number of people actually using it at the moment, this is not as impressive as it sounds. Fixed-line subscribers with home PCs will grow annually by between 33 and 47 per cent, it claims. Which all sounds lovely but then it is easy to forget that even with its wealth, Iraq remains one of the most technologically deprived countries on the planet. It will be at least a year before it can even see the people it is chasing in the technological revolution. ® Related stories Iraq, its domain and the 'terrorist-funding' owner RIAA's Rosen 'writing Iraq copyright laws' Iraq's mobile network - Qualcomm to follow the tanks? MCI wins Iraq gig Iraq buys 4000 PlayStation 2s in world conquest bid
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Jul 2003

Amsterdam: home of the 419 lottery scam

"Fortune Trust Finance & Securities opens a whole new world of opportunities providing you with that financial security you can count on," reads a brand new web site. Take a closer look and you understand why. Profiles of "our dedicated Executive Directors" make you laugh: the low res-pictures are noticeably copied from other websites. And the web site's visual effects are totally inappropriate for a trustworthy financial institution. Fortune Trust Finance & Securities is one of many non-existent companies linked to congratulatory emails, advising victims of their good fortune in winning a million dollar lottery prize. A reply to the email yields a request for thousands of dollars or higher to cover payment of handling, transfer and insurance costs. You guessed it: they take the money and run. The lottery scams are orchestrated by Nigerians operating from boiler rooms in Amsterdam suburbs. They don't target Dutch victims, but foreigners who do not know that companies such as Fortune Trust Finance & Securities could never be housed at Burdenstreet or Alfonstraat in Amsterdam, addresses mentioned in numerous emails. The phone numbers, however, are real; some will even connect to a satellite phone. The Dutch fraud squad last year estimated that at least seven Nigerian syndicates - a group of at least a hundred people - are engaged with 419 frauds from Amsterdam; making it one the most important scam hubs of the European continent. Recently five Nigerian men were sentenced for e-mail crimes, including lottery fraud. Nigerian lottery scams from the Netherlands are on the rise. Several lotteries recently began to put up bogus websites, some of them with pictures of bustling computer rooms or impressive office fronts, claiming to be working for Lee Towers Holdings, after a well-known Dutch Frank Sinatra impersonator, or Johannes Cruyff, the soccer star. Others will let you believe they are accredited by the Dutch Council for Accreditation, prompting this organisation to issue warnings. Germany-based Waruno Mahdi is keeping an eye on several Dutch and UK scam lottery companies at his website. Even The London Metropolitan Police has issued warnings. It is unknown how many people fall prey to these scams. The Dutch Council for Accreditation was approached by a Japanese victim who apparently lost €10,000. Emails to Ready Hosting, the American company that host Fortune Trust Finance & Securities, remain unanswered at time of writing. ®
Jan Libbenga, 11 Jul 2003

Consolidation: what does it mean for small players?

Anyone interested in the enterprise applications market will have had their eyes focused recently on the potential mergers among some of the larger players - Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards. But, as uncertainty reigns, what is happening to the other players in the market, asks Fran Howarth of Bloor Research. At the high end of the market, SAP is certainly emerging as a winner as it cashes in on the confusion. But the effect on smaller players is more mixed. Some of those that rely on those vendors embroiled in potential mergers and acquisitions are having a hard time - one company that sells products complementary to PeopleSoft's offering told me recently that it was seeing a 20% drop-off in business as a result of recent merger discussions, owing to the wait-and-see attitude of customers. Yet that does not hold true for all market players. Mark Donkersley, managing director for the UK of AXSone - a vendor of supply chain management software - claims his firm's business has actually seen an uptick caused by uncertainties in the market. "We've started to see a difference in the attitude of the marketplace," claims Donkersley. He says that in tenders where such companies as SAP and PeopleSoft are the obvious choices for evaluation, best-of-breed vendors such as AXSone are now being invited to tender as well: "We are getting onto tender lists where we didn't expect to be invited." According to Donkersley, this is because so many of the large IT implementations of the past few years have failed to yield the expected results: "Our customers have not accepted the approach of wallpapering a business with just one product." Roughly one quarter of AXSone's customers are Fortune 2000 companies - many of which have tried the approach of implementing solutions from just one large vendor, but have failed to achieve the results anticipated. According to Donkersley, what companies need is a mix of software from best-of-breed vendors. There are two main reasons why businesses such as AXSone have seen more business coming their way: firstly, the depressed economic conditions of the past couple of years have meant that companies can no longer throw cash behind large-scale IT implementations where results are not assured; rather, they are looking at putting in place procedures and software to solve particular problems in order to achieve benefits in the short-term. In such a market, the concept of implementing end-to-end software is too much of a strategic move for companies, owing to the time taken and the upheaval caused. According to Donkersley, businesses today must be so dynamic that they will have changed business processes by the time that large software implementations have been finished. Secondly, the nature of technology has changed, largely owing to the advent of web services. Such web services are available immediately from specialist software vendors that offer services to address a particular point of pain, such as back-end financial management. Because such services are made available over the Internet, they can be accessed immediately without the pain involved in implementing software and making it work. And this is opening the door to best-of-breed vendors. So what will be the outcome? According to Donkersley, the more Oracle postures and the more that SAP insists it is the only viable alternative, the more grateful the smaller players will be - as long as they don't rely on tagging onto the larger players to get their business. The consolidation of the market is ramming home the message to the boards of companies that taking the decision to license products from just one vendor is not the secure, risk-averse decision that they thought. Best-of-breed vendors are proving to be a viable alternative - and this is giving the market a far wider choice. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 11 Jul 2003

EC launches Infineon state aid probe

The European Commission has launched as "in-depth probe" into financial aid the Portuguese government plans to provide to a local DRAM plan owned by an Infineon subsidiary, the Commission said this week. The investigation will focus on a proposed &euro:76.8 million ($87.4 million) grant from the Portuguese government to Technologies-Fabrico de Semiconductores SA for a plant based in Vila do Conde. The EC's initial goal is to determine whether the company is eligible for the grant. Commission officials said that assessment will be based on whether "the proposed project would take place in a sector suffering from structural over-capacity". And they note: "The new Infineon plant is scheduled to produce DRAMs - a market where careful scrutiny of the development of sales proves necessary." If Technologies-Fabrico de Semiconductores is found eligible for state aid, the EC will then determine whether the proposed grant exceeds limits set down by European regulations. The EC said it will "give interested third parties, such as Infineon's competitors, an opportunity to submit their comments". Given almost all of the recent governmental investigations into DRAM makers have come as a result of complaints from rival memory producers, it's almost certain that said "Infineon competitors" will want to stick their oars in. US Department of Commerce and European Commission investigations - and subsequent settings of punitive import duties - into South Korea's Hynix came at the behest of Micron and Infineon, respectively. When Infineon's competitors will get their say isn't yet clear. While the EC has announced its investigation, it has not specified a schedule for the probe's progress. ®
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

We've found the perfect solution to spam: Mark takes the stand

Right of ReplyRight of Reply We have found the perfect Solution to Spam Greetings 'GIEIS' or the Global ISP Email Identity system offers Mr McCarthy the 'Technical Satire of the Year Award'. The entire development team has had such a great laugh at the article posted here by 'The Register'. So, just to even the score a little, in a good nature of course, we offer this quote from his article by Mr McCarthy: "The annotated diagrams show tremendous labour and each element appears to have been produced on computer, printed out, cut up and pasted on a separate sheet and then scanned in to make a jpeg." Wait a minute, this doesn't sound right, why go to all that bother when you can use crop and save it as a jpeg. Then just import it into dreamweaver. Enough said, let's get on with it. ASRG Who? The Internet Research Task Force's (IRTF) working group known as the Anti-Spam Research Group (Asrg) has a serious problem. As it has been mentioned I accused the chair of having an open conflict of Interest in relation to the issue of spam. He is not the only person with financial interests in the issue to be posting to the group. I am not going to make any accusations against him or anyone else, I just feel that it is inappropriate for them to be essentially guiding the development of anti-spam solutions for the web. In my view, it is not in their interests to resolve the issue, in fact, if anything, they will only gain financially by increasing the problem. I openly ask anyone to examine the posts of the last six months to the group and to decide for themselves if the posts tend to move in circles. In addition, I would ask those with technical knowledge of MTA and MX systems to examine the 'technical solutions' proposed over the same period, they are very weak and easily bypassed. I have noticed since my departure, that the group is on their best behaviour, let's hope it remains that way and we will be monitoring it. Just to demonstrate how bad the situation is there, one regular poster, who accused me of not knowing anything in regards to email, suggested using a VPN for the email system. This gentleman also is supposed to work with mail servers. Need I say more? The ASRG Archive may be located here: In response to the accusation that I was 'over-posting', I have several comments to make. Firstly, the ASRG is an open forum with no rules or limits imposed on the amount of times posts can be made. Secondly, if you examine the posts made to the ASRG, you will notice that I only replied to those who addressed me or 'GIEIS'. Finally, the chair offered to let me return to posting on the condition that he could moderate the 'content' of my posts, not their frequency. I refused. Therefore, the chair's 'excellent excuse', is highly questionable in my view. I do admit, fully, that I am completely arrogant in the posts I made, however, arrogance is not a crime. Another point we wish to put across is that the organisations developed to design a coherent framework for the Internet were designed to work in research environments, not a global market place. This has led to all sorts of conflicts of interest and has directly led to situation we are beginning to see on the web of the world wide wait. We are going to attempt to bypass this process completely, thus, avoiding all 'interested' parties. 'GIEIS' will approach ISPs and email suppliers directly and obtain support from other companies. The people who really run the web, rather than quango organisations. Do I really know anything about IT? Now Mr McCarthy has accused me of recently learning HTML, email systems and their protocols. Perhaps the confusion has come about due to the fact that I was never contacted in regards to the original story nor given the opportunity of correcting a number of innocent mistakes throughout it. So, 'The Register' has let me respond and I am happy with that. I myself am an engineer with multiple disciplines. I starting programming at the age of 6 on a ZX spectrum given to me by one of my uncles. By the age of 9 myself and my younger brother were involved in constructing complex electronic devices such as radio transceivers. My mother always enjoys telling people of how when we were children, we had a pressure sensor under a mat to warn us of when our parents were coming upstairs. It was finally discovered by my father and he could do nothing but laugh. In secondary school (well, college really), I was the nightmare of the IT department. I began my career pirating games and selling them on for £3 per 5 and a quarter inch disk, and yes, it was the BBC Micro. At this time, the first generation of the Acorn Archimedes had just been released and I was hooked and so the nightmare began. I started to reverse engineering the RISC OS and then I had some fun. Machines in the school would boot up and immediately shut down again, some had their FPemulator (Floating Point emulator) unplugged and others played the tune 'Get Ready For This' and had a dancer on screen moving to beat. This was ripped from a virus known as 'Funky Demo'. Numerous virus' appear in machines throughout the school at regular intervals. Also, at this time I was introduced to the Apple Macintosh classic. These machines were protected by software from a company connected to the Western Education and Library Board known as Computer Development, based in Omagh, Northern Ireland. I took particular exception to this product as it was very good. I traced at board level the route of certain instructions for the password protection that revealed the Mac OS. After a few experiments, and a few lost Macs, I figured out that I could run a patch lead between two points on the board. When the password was entered the patch lead caused an error and the protection OS collapsed revealing the Mac OS. From here we just removed the system folders and the little Macs showed their disapproval with a sad face on boot. Computer development released a number of versions to counter-act my hacking, however, they were never successful. At 14, we had another bit of fun at the expense of WELB. Myself, and another individual who will only be named as George, performed our first successful social engineering experiment. We managed to convince library employees to provide us with the passwords to access their Apple Macintoshes, with the excuse of not being able to load certain files. We promptly removed all the system folders and left a few gifts, the damage was estimated in the region of £2000. I was reprimanded by my computer teacher for the incident, however, he could see the funny side of it and I was too young for any form of prosecution. I think I spent the majority of my education in the year head's office denying all knowledge of any computer vandalism. I knew they could never prove anything. I am still, to this day, best friends with the son of the computer teacher I tortured. For my GCSE in computers, I used my knowledge that I had gained in reverse engineering the RISC OS and created a computer assisted learning package for physics on the A5000 which used RISC OS 3. I got slapped a little over structure, however, I still got the one of the highest marks that year. After this, I moved on to do mechanical, electronic and computer engineering. It bored me to tears, they were doing things I had done before I was even 11. So, I applied for a job with MSN technical support and was offered the job in front of 20 other applicants immediately after the interview, I was only 17. Throughout my time with MSN I was taking 3 times the call volume compared with anyone else. Most averaged 600 calls per month, my average was in excess of 1800. I punched quite a number of holes in Microsoft's software, unfortunately, I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement and I cannot discuss them, ever. It was upon leaving MSN that the idea for 'GIEIS' began to develop. I swiftly got bored of the call-centre and vowed never to use a telephone again. Even conversations with friends were completed in under 3 minutes flat. I became a network engineer supporting networks all across Ireland, from banks to schools. We installed everything from routers to email. I think the only thing I haven't connected to a PC is a kitchen sink, and before you ask, yes, we have tried a toaster. We used the Com port and a few stepping motors to achieve it, however, we soon became annoyed that we had to boot the PC every time we wanted toast. I would advise any reader not to get a group of engineers drunk as the results can be unpredictable. After this, I went round Europe for a year and returned to do an honours degree in E-business in Europe's foremost technical University, the University of Ulster, Magee. I also had started with Dr John DeSalvo's GPGRA (the expert on the Shroud of Turin) as part of the advisory board and he even wrote some of my references for entry to the University citing both my mathematical and technical ability. At the time I was also the webmaster for the association and won an award for the website design as voted by the general public. The design of the site I am using for 'GIEIS' is just the result of not having the time, nor the interest, to develop. I can program in VB, ASP, PHP and SQL as well. I was the director of e-business with a failed start-up Internet company, however, I did come in very late on the project and by this stage all I could do was damage limitation for the directors involved. So, I used my talents and examine all current business legislation pertaining to the UK and provided several options. Since, they are not jail, I think I done my job quite well. I am also trained in advanced mathematics. accountancy, business management, e-business management, software development and marketing. I plead the Fifth on my Internet activities. Right now, I am on summer vacation and I got bored with designing the wireless WAN topologies for several regions of Ireland. So, I decided to menace big business for a while. 'GIEIS', fact or fiction? 'GIEIS' is fact. The confusion over the system has been due to a number of factors. Firstly, the system is being developed online from 6 years of rough draft notes. The online version number that changes every 24-48 hours as it is reflecting the chronology of those notes. This includes changes and alterations made over that period. The site has been up for less than 2 weeks and has already caused a storm on the Internet. If it was really junk, which there is ample amounts of on the web, why all the fuss? Secondly, part of the marketing strategy behind 'GIEIS' is to create as much controversy as possible. This only leads to marketing that we could not even hope to purchase. In my work for the GPGRA one thing I was really good at was creating controversy and I have just modified those techniques for 'GIEIS'. It has worked, because here you are reading about it. We knew that by causing a storm in the ASRG that companies such as Verisign, Ciphertrust, Spamwolf, McAfee, etc. would become very worried at the development of 'GIEIS'. 'GIEIS' would either cause the closure or a severe drop in profits for these type of companies. We also suspected that one or more of these type of companies would attempt some form of preemptive strike against the technology. Fortunately, this came in the form of the story published here by 'The Register'. When the story finally broke, we knew we had them all terrified and we now have come out of our corner, in true Irish fashion, fighting. Thirdly, we deliberately introduced confusion over the systems architecture. This was not to protect any secrets we had, it was just another tactic in the controversial marketing tactic. We are well aware that 'GIEIS' must be a public entity and can never be run by any form of company. Thus, we have no real requirement to hide our work. It generated a large volume of posts on the subject, therefore they were doing all the donkey work of establishing the system as a serious contender. Finally, we let it 'slip' that we were about to begin an extensive marketing campaign to several individuals on the ASRG mailing list. We made one post to lisnews.com in regards to the inappropriate content filter and how it would be offered to libraries for free, saving them large volumes of money due to the court ruling on the matter. Then suddenly, 'The Register's' story appeared on the subject bearing all the information that had appeared from the ASRG. Very strange. We received a tip-off that certain companies, which shall remain nameless, had people tasked to follow our online marketing campaign and attempt to refer all readers of it to the article if possible. We were impressed to say the least, but we had our doubts, so we monitored google for the lisnews.com link to appear on 'GIEIS'. As soon as it appeared we moved to lisnews.com and monitored the site. Within 30 minutes a comment appeared directing people to the article under the name of 'Anonymous Coward'. You may view it here: We were stunned that we caused so much concern. 'GIEIS' was a contender. Is there a conspiracy against 'GIEIS'? If there is it is the worst one in the history of mankind. Anyone would think that the story reported here would have killed off 'GIEIS', but in fact, it had the opposite effect. We were flooded with messages of support for every area of system development and just support in general. People really respected that we were attempting one of the biggest ever job creation schemes and also that we were trying to protect their children. How does it work? The principle is so simple, you will be surprised at how anyone could get confused. The main confusion with engineers is that they are used to terms such as MTA and MX, etc. 'GIEIS' represents a radical departure from current email provisions and the terms are new. Quite a lot of people understand about 80% of what we are proposing, although they are impatient waiting on extremely low-level technical material. Personally, until they can grasp the system at high level, I would feel that they would be completely lost at low-level. Our view is very simple, SMTP/NNTP, the current email and news architecture is directly responsible for the spread of spam, virus', trojans, etc. SMTP (and NNTP) was never designed to used in a global marketplace. It is a trust based architecture, in other words, it relies on the goodwill of senders. It was designed at a time when the Internet was extremely small compared to todays standards and before any online ventures had been established (AOL was around). Anyone can setup a server and begin transmitting emails all you require is access to the Internet and a good speed DNS. 'GIEIS' is not trust based. 'GIEIS' would completely remove all current SMTP technology, or make its use redundant on a large scale. I will remove all the terminology and demonstrate it. I will also remove all the encryption and security tests. No user or company will be able to set up a server for mail. They can of course, setup an SMTP server, however, it will not deliver anything to any network under 'GIEIS' and with the global spread of 'GIEIS' there would be very few people to transmit to. Instead all emails are routed to a central server at either the business' or individual's ISP. All security options are dictated by this server, not the client. The business or individual after transmission to the special server has no more input in the equation. Now, the sender's special server does its tests and sends the email to the recipient's special server with a code attached to it. The recipient's special server contacts 'GIEIS' and presents it with a code that was attached at send time by the sender's special server. 'GIEIS' then contacts the sender's special server and confirms if the mail was sent from it or not. If it was sent from there, then 'GIEIS' instructs the recipient's special server to allow the email to pass to the receiver's inbox. If not, 'GIEIS' instructs the recipient's server to destroy the email. Any mail without a code, such as that from SMTP, would be automatically destroyed. 'GIEIS' and the nine step program to a better Internet To Send 1. Upload message to special server at ISP. 2. Server performs tests and attaches code to those that pass. 3. Server sends mail. To Receive 4. Receive email. 5. Send code to 'GIEIS'. 6. No code, Destroy email. At 'GIEIS' 7. 'GIEIS' decodes code and connects to the sending server. 8. 'GIEIS' checks the DB and confirms message was/was not sent. 9. 'GIEIS' contacts receiver and says 'deliver' or 'destroy'. Simple when you know how. What is so confusing or incoherent about this? Security All 'GIEIS' servers will run on a separate transmission protocol (not TCP/IP). They will be connected to the rest of the Internet via a bridge (gateway). Therefore, no mapping or other network information can be obtained using standard TCP/IP tools. Furthermore, 'GIEIS' servers will only respond to encrypted commands. The encryption code will be changed frequently. The servers will not even produce an error response to any failed attempt at communication. There is an extensive list of measures that are employed including back-tracing, virus scanning (outbound as well as inbound), rate limitations, daily limits, recipient limitations, real-time monitoring, heuristics, encrypted codes, etc. No one, since 'GIEIS' has been released has been able to demonstrate a method of bypassing the system. 'GIEIS' is not based upon client/server architecture but rather, client/server/server architecture. This additional level, creates a buffer between communication systems and the general public. In effect, an inner communications loop that is isolated. 'GIEIS' will not have one central point to its architecture but around 1100 different centres across the world that can absorb the flow of traffic in times of failure(s). There will be a central controlling centre, however, the rest can operate independently should it fail. The Infamous Brian Hamilton Mr Hamilton, not his real name, is another member of the 'GIEIS' development team. Brian is employed by one the UK's major ISPs as is one of their senior network engineers. With almost 20 years of experience there are few that can compare with him in the field. The company that Mr Hamilton works for currently has partnerships with anti-spam solution providers that 'GIEIS' would put out of business upon implementation. When Mr Hamilton posted to the ASRG he did not attempt to hide where the email had come from. We could have selected a different ISP, disconnected to receive a new IP address, or simply used an anonymous proxy. Brian even set the address up using my own personal ICQ address. Easily traceable. We were simply making the point that no one really knows who or how many are involved in 'GIEIS'. Also, no one knows who these people currently work for or the seniority of their positions. There are numerous benefits operating like this. Mr Hamilton offered me a piece of advice, "Take it easy on them kid. They are only humans." Any more surprises we should know of? Three components that have not been released yet, we will mention here today. The first is an anti-spam system for SMS (and MMS), it is only a matter of time before these services, like email, are free to the public again from the Internet. The second, relates to PC to phone features, these service could be exploited to get round local legal problems of contacting customers, by moving completely out of the jurisdiction and using cheap Internet based calls. The third system and the most important is that 'GIEIS' would have the capability to prevent copyright theft across the Internet, including p2p file sharing systems. Good news for the music and film industries. Comments to affected Companies Those companies that can foresee themselves being made redundant by 'GIEIS', should take a pro-active response to the situation. There is no point them burying their heads in the sand, praying that 'GIEIS' will go away. This has only been 2 weeks, imagine what it will be like in 1 year from now? Anyone made redundant by 'GIEIS' will be offered employment with the new public body automatically. 'GIEIS' is all about several main issues; employment, child protection, business protection, and human rights. Egyptology and the Giza what? I shouldn't really have to do this, 'GIEIS' should be judged on its own merits not on my interests, however, since the subject was brought up I feel I have to respond. Early in 2000, I was reading a book by Graham Hancock entitled 'FingerPrints of the Gods'. The book detailed a fascinating correlation between ancient societies and presented evidence of their incredible knowledge in numerous fields. Generally, history presents us with a picture of development of society from primitive and follows a linear pattern until we arrive at modern man. This would stand to reason, however, the scientific evidence completely refutes it. These anomalies are often completely ignored, or the most bizarre explanations appear to account for them. There was a portion in the book that described how the Great Pyramid can be shown to be a scale version of one hemisphere of the Earth on a scale of approx. 1:43,000. Now as a mathematician, I knew that this could be said of any structure based on pi, including a tennis ball, however, I thought, if the other two pyramids beside the Great Pyramid can be shown to be scale representations of two other planets and the scale factors are the same, then we really have something. As both the other pyramids are smaller than the Great Pyramid then I knew I had only Mercury and Venus to choose from. So, I sat down with my trusty calculator and done a few calculations, then the unbelievable happened, the same scale factor appeared accurate to with +/- 4%. I had done it, I was the first in the world to prove, beyond any doubt, that the pyramids of the Giza Necropolis were, in fact, a scale representation of the three inner planets. Furthermore, I proved that the building themselves were mathematically encoded with various pieces of information. The next stage after this was to determine if there was a logical pattern that progressed to reveal additional information. Thus, began 'The Case for the Giza Necropolis Primer'. There were only two sources of accurate information on my research, one was at my site and the other was at the world's largest research association dedicated to the Giza Necropolis, The Great Pyramid of Giza Research Association (GPGRA, www.gizapyramid.com). Any other material that appears on the web was not authorised by myself, as you will see from my site below, there is no mention of any asteroid or anything of that nature. I was an advisory board member along side people such as Dr Volodymyr Krasnoholovets senior physics director of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. Dr Volodymyr Krasnoholovets worked on both the Mir space station and the Russian Nuclear program, my homepage was referenced from his personal site in relation to discussions the nature of reality, we also had extended private conversations in regards to the abstract nature of zero (sounds really interesting doesn't it). Here is a copy of my proper website: There are numerous facts I can cite to support myself. The first is that out of 80 or so pyramids found in Egypt, not a single body has been found in any, thus completely refuting the 'tomb only' theory. The Great Pyramid is accurately aligned to the cardinal points of the compass to within 3 seconds of a degree (1 second being 1/60 of 1 degree) along sides that are the length of the Empire states building. Egyptologist's claim that this was done using visual observation of a star. I could just picture some Egyptian shouting the length of the Empire States building, 'To the left a bit Jim!'. You have my permission to pause until you stop laughing. If you want something that will really blow you away, follow this link and read the section entitled 'Unusual effects induced by the Pyramid'. Conclusion I am right, everyone else is wrong. Told you I was arrogant. Mark McCarron Related Stories Dutch mass spammer loses grip US anti-spam laws 'will legalise spam' Earthlink brings down the Buffalo Spammer AOL wins $7m in spam case Evil spammers jailed for two years AOL spammer pleads guilty to forgery Rise of the Spam Zombies On Spam cures that are worse than the disease Anti-spam packages 'too unreliable' to certify Fab O'Really T'shirt at Cash and Carrion How to deal with Spammers - permanently
Mark McCarron, 11 Jul 2003

Axe-wielding Texans savage oak tree, post pics, get caught

UpdatedUpdated One guiding principle of committing the perfect crime is to leave or no evidence of the misdemeanour. A good set of prints on the murder weapon or a size-ten shoeprint in the flowerbed will not help your case when the Feds come hammering on your door. Sadly, the five Texas men who took an axe to an oak tree in Austin completely ignored this criminal tenet when one of them posted a full photo spread of the outrage on his website. Three of the five are core members of the distributed.net cryptography project, used by 60,000 computer users worldwide. According to The Austin American Statesman, Jeffrey Lawson, 25, Daniel Baker, 20, and David McNett, 32 - and two unknown accomplices - assaulted the tree at Riata Apartment Homes in Northwest Austin on 1 Jan 2002. Sixteen months later a Riata employee "stumbled across" the incriminating snaps on Baker's website and the police dragnet closed in. Local residents are suitably furious about this piece of malicious deforestation. The three felons must take some comfort from the fact that they have chopped down the one thing from which they might otherwise have been dancing the Tyburn jig - as is the local custom in Texas for a range of offences from horse worrying to eating cherries on the Sabbath. Instead, they face charges of criminal mischief, punishable by up to two years in the penitentiary. Three of the five are key members of the crypto cracking project distributed.net founded in 1997, which boasts tens of thousands of users. The 'firing line' lists the group's leaders as Daniel "dbaker" Baker, Network Operations, David "nugget" McNett, Statistics, and Jeff "Bovine" Lawson, who wrote the code for the proxy. The non-profit org.founded in 1997 in response to the RSA Lab's RC5 cracking challange. Thousands of PCs each process a portion of the code required to crack they key. ®
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2003

Intel enables RAID 1 support on 865, 875 chipsets

Intel has updated its chipset support software to enable RAID 1 arrays. It also adds support for Windows 2000. The release, version 3.5 of Intel's Application Accelerator RAID Edition, enables RAID 1 - disk mirroring - on certain 865 and 875 chipsets. The previous version, 3.0, only offered RAID 0 - data 'striping' - support. However, users of the new software will still have to decide which RAID level they wish to implement - the software doesn't support the use of both modes, aka RAID 0+1, ExtremeTech reports. The software works with Intel's 82801ER Serial ATA RAID controller, which hooks up to the Intel 82801ER I/O Controller Hub, aka the ICH5R South Bridge, one of the two such chips offered as part of the 865 and 875 chipsets. Users will need to check with their specific motherboard's maker whether their boards use that part. While Application Accelerator RAID Edition 3.5 adds Windows 2000 to its list of supported operating systems, Intel has yet to implement a Linux version. So far only Windows XP Home and Pro are supported. The update can be downloaded here. ®
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

Web Conferencing – Ready for Prime Time

Like many new technologies, when teleconferencing was first introduced it was desperately difficult to get it to work, writes Martin Langham of Bloor Research. I can remember struggling to match 10 different plugs to 10 different sockets and configure a PC in a desperate attempt to have a teleconference. In the end, the struggle was too much and I resorted to speakerphone. Several factors prevented the wide scale adoption of teleconferencing: It was very hard to set up and to use It was expensive The quality of the visual information and the lack of integration between data and video reduced the effectiveness of meetings The sound quality left much to be desired Web conferencing over IP networks and the Internet rather than via ISDN has improved teleconferencing out of all recognition. We have reached a tipping point when it is easier and more productive to teleconference than to travel to a meeting. Vendors such as WebEx are now offering what they call a media dial tone - it is as easy to set up a Web conference as a telephone call. Some Web Conferencing vendors don't even need client software so you can conference with anyone with a PC and even share video if they have a Web cam. Unlike ISDN-based video conferencing, which is expensive to use, Webconferencing is available at a flat rate and can be used wherever there is an IP network connection. The art of providing information in a teleconference is to provide enough information but not too much. You can go cross-eyed watching talking heads, a rolling slide presentation, comments from the audience and maybe even a transcript of the talk. This is too much information. What you do need is high quality graphics. Especially as people persist in treating PowerPoint Presentation pages as though they are Word documents and cramming them with information. You can argue about the need for high quality video pictures. Some would say that when you already know all the participants, you can manage just as well with a set of photos on top of your PC. I think this is just prejudice created by previous low quality video. We can't maintain this argument if we also accept the wisdom that 70% of communications are non-verbal. Pioneers of video conferencing found very early on that a talking head was not sufficient for a high quality dialogue. You had to see the whole torso because the whole torso is used to convey the body language. It may seem strange that the most fundamental driver of the quality of a remote meeting is the quality of the sound but this carries the most information in meetings. Setting up a phone to pick up group conversation in a room is not a trivial technology. Echoes in the room have to be detected and cancelled electronically. Another problem is that people are not the same distance from the phone. Their softer and louder voices, which we compensate for automatically when we are physically present, have to be handled electronically. And just to challenge the technology a little more, some people take to pacing about when they present. Polycom, which was responsible for those triangular shaped conferencing phones on most meeting room tables, has solved most of these problems. It has also come up with the must-have of the executive boardroom - a wide band phone. Technology doesn't seem to have progressed very rapidly at the handset end and we have become used to the tinny sound that comes out of most phones. It is tinny because a handset will only transmit a three-kilohertz segment of the entire bandwidth created by the human voice. (A good hi-fi set will manage from 100 Hertz to 20 kilohertz.) Polycom has more than doubled this bandwidth to seven kilohertz. So what, you may ask. Well, you have to listen to a wide band phone to appreciate the difference. Not only does the quality enable you to catch many more of the inflections and nuances of the conversation but it is also much easier and more relaxing to listen to a wide band voice. It's a difference between listening to Maria Callas on a wind-up gramophone compared to a hi-fi set. With developments in ease of set up and use, reduced costs, the improved integration and richness of the visual experience, and in wide band voice technology, we've arrived at a point where Web conferencing is ready to take off. Which is just as well, as travelling around the UK by road or rail is becoming increasingly difficult. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 11 Jul 2003

About that Sony static electricity claim

LetterLetter "A spokeswoman likened the shock to strength of a static electricity charge" Sony recalls 18,000 Vaios Reg Reader Dan writes: I do love it when spokespersons (to be properly PC here) say things like "... a shock such as that from static electricity". Last time I checked, lightning was static electricity. So's that produced by Van Der Graf's generator, as located in Boston Science Museum (from memory, the potential that thing kicks out is in the order of ten million volts). I'm sure Sony's users would be ever-so-pleased to learn that their Vaio could fry them to a crisp with it's static-electricty-like shocking effect. Regards, Dan. ®
Team Register, 11 Jul 2003

Sharp cans Linux PDA in Europe?

UpdateUpdate Sharp's introduction of two new Linux-based PDAs for the Japanese market appears to have heralded the death of earlier members of the Zaurus line in Europe. Register readers have been told by various Sharp support personnel that the Zaurus SL-5500 has been discontinued. One reader was told in email signed 'Z UK Support': "We can confirm that we will not be launching the SL-5600. However, there are other PDA products planned for launch in the UK, although we can't offer any details at this time." Launched in Europe in April 2002, the SL-5500 was first Linux PDA to be offered by a leading consumer electronics manufacturer. Its integrated micro-keyboard - hidden behind a Palm Tungsten T-style slider - comprehensive software bundle, performance and good I/O won it some rave reviews at the time. The device was based on 206MHz Intel Strong ARM CPU and ran version 2.4 of the Linux kernel from Embeddix. It included Insignia Solutions' Jeode PersonalJava virtual machine and a desktop interface from Trolltech. It had a 16-bit 3.5in colour screen, 64MB of RAM, CompactFlash slot and SD/MM card slot. Unlike the upcoming clamshell-format Zaurus SL-C750 and SL-C760, the 5500 was offered in the classic PDA mini-tablet format. News of the machine's demise appeared this week on Sharp's Zaurus Developer Network online forum. One developer revealed that the 5500 had been officially end-of-lined in Germany, and had been told unofficially that it was being killed of throughout Europe too. Indeed, searching for 'Zaurus' and 'sl-5500' on Sharp's UK website generates no results. Contrary to some online claims, however, the site's Zaurus pages are still up and running at www.sharp.co.uk/zaurus/, though they're out of date. All may not be lost for Zaurus. Online Sharp retailer Digi-UK states that the 5500 has indeed been discontinued, but points to a follow-up model, due this month. PDA specialist Expansys provides further insight: an unannounced Zaurus SL-5600, which ups the processor to 400MHz and a more modern Intel XScale design. Other specs. match those of the 5500, though we note the new model contains only 32MB of RAM, but adds 64MB of Flash storage. Unfortunately, the 5600 turns out to be a model Sharp launched in the US last November, and while it might have made it over to Europe, that looks increasingly unlikely. What of the 5500? It appears as to be had for neither love nor money. One Developer Network poster claims Sharp told him all remaining stock had been sold to UK retailer Argos, but an online search of some of the company's London stores found the £250 to be largely out of stock. Readers tell us some stores do have them in, so check with your local branch. Update A Sharp UK spokesman told The Register: "We can confirm that there won't be any new Zaurus products in the UK this quarter, but no decision has been made regarding Q4 2003." In short, watch this space... ® Related Story Sharp goes clamshell for new PDAs
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

Chip VAT fraud gang sentenced to 31 years

A criminal gang found guilty of an £11m VAT carousel fraud * involving computer chips has been sentenced to a total of 31 years in jail. Confiscation orders totalling £7.1m have been made against some of the nine gang members. The convictions in a three trials at Blackfriars Crown Court follow a joint Customs and National Crime Squad (NCS) surveillance investigation into the criminal activities of Raymond May and Vincent Stapleton. In a highly complex operation the criminal organisation established companies in England and France to buy and sell high-value computer chips in what is called a 'carousel' fraud. The NCS uncovered the VAT fraud in April 2000, following the establishment of a business premises in South West London by Vincent Stapleton and this led to the joint investigation with Customs. Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Customs Minister, John Healey said: "Customs Law Enforcement has dismantled a sophisticated international fraud organisation. These criminals enjoyed wealthy lifestyles with big houses and luxury cars. We will make every effort to pursue not only the criminals but their profits too and hit them where it hurts the most - their pockets." A National Crime Squad spokesman, said: "This verdict sends a clear message to all criminals that the resources of the National Crime Squad and Customs & Excise will be brought to bear on those engaged in serious and organised crime, including those who perceive that this type of fraud is low-risk, high-return. It is an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation." Actually, the last trial was last year, so why is Customs publicising the convictions now? VAT missing trader fraud, mostly involving computer chips and mobile phones, has grown exponentially in the UK. And Customs is keen to show that it will chase after criminals and secure their convictions. This week, the Office for National Statistics(ONS)revised (pdf) The UK's trade statistics for four years to reflect the impact of missing trader intra community fraud. According to the ONS, the fraud involved the previously unrecognised importation of £23bn worth of goods, during the period, with £11.1bn of this coming in 2002 alone. In April, The Government announced its intention to impose rules which would see companies rendered liable for VAT bills if any broker in its supply chain was discovered to be fraudulent. In response, Carphone Warehouse put on ice its phone distribution business while it assessed the impact. Many legitimate CPU and memory chip brokers, and system builders which dabbled in CPU broking on the side, are retiring from this market, too. Now for the list of convictions. Raymond George May, of Chislehurst,Kent 46, pleaded guilty on 20.09.01 and was sentenced to five years. In August 2002 a confiscation order of £3,264,277 was made with three years given to pay or a further five years in default. Vincent John Stapleton, of Kingston, Surrey, 52, pleaded guilty on 20.09.01 and was sentenced to five years. A confiscation order of £2,365,769 was made with three years to pay or a further five years in default. Jacques Bravard, a Frenchman living in London, NW9, 47, pleaded guilty on 20.09.01 and was sentenced to five years. A confiscation order of £1,386,383 was made with three years to pay or a further five years in default. Herbert Fowles, 52, West Norwood, London, pleaded guilty in July 2002 and was sentenced to two years. A confiscation order of £66,000 was made. Darren Hope, 32, West Norwood, London, pleaded guilty in October 2000 and was sentenced to two years. Vincent Stapleton Jr, of , Kingston, Surrey, 22, pleaded guilty on 20.09.01 and was fined £10,000. James Pullen, of Addlestone, Surrey, 47, was found guilty on 08.12.01 and sentenced to three years. A confiscation order is yet to made in his case. Steven Lawrence, of Minster, Isle of Sheppey, 41, was found guilty on 08.12.01 and sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment. A confiscation order has yet to made in his case. Robert Brown-Jones, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment at the High Court in Edinburgh in November 2001. * HM Customs definition of VAT Missing Trader Fraud. VAT Missing Trader Fraud or 'Carousel' fraud involves importing goods into the UK from the EU that are correctly zero-rated for VAT. The goods are then sold on through a series of companies in the UK, all liable to VAT at the standard rate, before being exported back to the EU. In this particular fraud the goods were exported back to the original supplier. The company importing the goods incurs a considerable VAT debt as it has to account for VAT charged on the sales. It has no VAT repayment claim as the goods were zero-rated on import. In a fraud of this type this initial 'link' in the chain 'goes missing' and never accounts for the VAT due. Related stories Shop VAT fraudsters (or else) 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
Drew Cullen, 11 Jul 2003

GSM Association calls for MMS push

The GSM Association yesterday issued a rallying call to the wireless industry to speed the arrival of enhanced, fully-interoperable Multi-media Messaging Services (MMS) services and devices. The influential trade association wants to drive the acceleration of MMS roaming, national MMS network interworking, and terminal interoperability by promoting the adoption of new standards. One objective of the GSMA's Board is that 3G Partnership Project's Release 4 specifications concerning network functionality are implemented by December 2003, and that all new MMS terminals are based on the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) standards. GSMA CEO Rob Conway. said "Now our Board wants the industry to connect by driving through their implementation and adoption so that more customers can enjoy the benefits of interoperable MMS services across networks, handsets and international boundaries." Interoperability is seen as key to the growth of MMS an application which is central in many mobile operators' plans to drive up ARPU (average revenues per user). Analysts such as In-Stat and Analysys warn that the increase in meesaging revenues will be less than service providers forecast, unless operators work harder at making data service easy and appealing to users. Key to this is cross network transmission in Europe which is still patchy in Europe, and almost non-existent in the US. As we reportedthis week on the launch of US carrier Verizon's MMS service (compatible with global standards but users can't send messages to punters on rival networks) true interoperability remains elusive. ® Related Stories 360 bn text messages this year (2002) GPRS roaming tops agenda at Rome summit GSM Association launches new standard for next-gen mobiles Verizon launches MMS Next gen wireless data services leap like dachshund Mobile messaging revenues carry on climbing MMS to boom - Nokia Orange and 02 users able exchange picture messages today
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2003

Let's do PS3 launch… in 2005

A late 2005 launch date for the PlayStation 3 looks increasingly likely today, with confirmation from Elpida that it will be beginning production of memory chips for the console early that year. Earlier this year, Elpida was officially named as the memory supplier for the PS3, with the company set to supply memory architecture based on the Rambus XDR DRAM technologies. The same brand of memory will also be used on other Cell based broadband devices - see our story Rambus renames Yellowstone as XDR DRAM. Both Elpida and Toshiba, which is also to manufacture XDR DRAM chips, will be beginning initial production in late 2004, and will ramp up to full production in early 2005. It's likely that the vast bulk of Elpida's output will be destined for PlayStation 3. This suggests a production schedule for the PS3 which would see the console launching in 2005, as anticipated by most pundits. We're not gambling types, but if we were, we'd put money on a mid-2005 launch in Japan, followed by US and European launches only a few months apart later that year - perhaps September 2005 in the USA, and November 2005 in Europe... ® Copyright © 2003 gamesindustry.biz Related Stories PS2 gaming service browser hacked Sony to demo Cell by March 2004
gamesindustry.biz, 11 Jul 2003

Chip makers' 2003 capex to buck downward trend

Semiconductor manufacturers are set to increase spending on chip-making equipment this year, reversing the downward trend witnessed over the last few years, market watcher Gartner claimed this week. That, it reckons, is a sign of incipient recovery, with the industry starting to "emerge from its holding pattern and... to move forward again". Gartner reckons worldwide semiconductor capex will total $29.9 billion this year, 7.9 per cent up on last year's figure, $27.7 million. In 2002, spending fell 37.9 per cent year on year. Spending is favouring 300mm wafer equipment. "On a regional basis, Japanese companies are most aggressively raising spending this year with a possible increase of 25 percent to 30 percent over 2002, funding its newly restructured ventures," aid Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing VP for Gartner's semiconductor manufacturing and design research group, in a statement. "DRAM has been strong so far, led by Samsung's aggressive plans to increase spending by more than 50 per cent over last year. Foundry is the wild card. We expect foundry [spending] growth to be flat in 2003, but this can change in the blink of an eye." The company's figures show an increase in worldwide wafer fab utilisation, rising to 81 per cent in Q2 across the board and 90 per cent for 180nm/0.18 micron process and under lines. "In the second half of 2003, we anticipate utilisation rates to rise further," said Rinnen. "Overall utilisation should cross the 85 per cent mark during the second half of the year. Leading-edge utilisation [180nm or below] should end the year at a projected 95 per cent." This year, worldwide foundry revenue will grow 23 per cent, Gartner forecasts, driven by rising wafer shipments on the back of growing chip demand, primarily in the consumer and PC sectors. Gartner said it expects a PC upgrade cycle to commence in the second half of the year, albeit a slow one. ® Related Story Chip industry turnaround coming in Q4
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

ATI gears up for Q3, Q4 chip launches

ATI's release schedule is proceeding as planned, with follow-ups to the Radeon 9600 Pro and 9800 Pro coming later this month and mid-to-late August. So claim unnamed sources cited by Xbit Labs. The two upcoming chips are dubbed the RV350 and R360, respectively. Further down the line, ATI is expected to unveil the R420 in November, in time for the Christmas sales season. It will be followed by a more mainstream version, the RV420. Both chips are believed to deliver next-generation pixel and vertex shader technology and DirectX 9.1 support. R420 will almost certainly go up against Nvidia's anticipated NV40 chip, the company's first chip to be offered on PCI Express boards. NV40 is said to double the performance of the GeForce FX 5800, so R420 will need to offer a comparable leap over the Radeon 9800 Pro. As previous Nvidia roadmap reports have suggested, the GeForce FX 5x00 line will be extended in the summer with the NV36 and the NV36X towards the end of the year. ® Related Story Nvidia preps NV40 for PCI Express migration
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

BBC Domesday Project saved for Nation

The BBC's Domesday Project, the groundbreaking multimedia tour of the UK as it was in 1986, is again open to the public. You can pop along to the National Archive at Kew, to view it on a PC for free. This is a very appropriate home, as the original Domesday Book also lives there. At one time, the BBC Domesday Project looked doomed by its reliance upon an dead, almost unreadable, hardware platform. Set up to celebrate the 900th anniversary of The Domesday Book, the BBC project collected huge amounts of material, 50,000 photographs and 250,000 screens of text. The content was stored onto two video Discs. A BBC Acorn Micro and the Phillips LV-Rom laserdisc player was required to see the results. But a collaboration between the National Archives, BBC, Andy Finney of ATSF Ltd and Adrian Pearce of LongLife Data saved the day, transferring the original source material onto digital format. Click here for technical details of the rescue. Peter Armstrong, the original Head of the 1986 BBC Domesday Project, attended the official re-launch of the system. He said: "So many people who were at school in 1985 remember taking part in local surveys. It's great that they now have the chance to see how it all came together". ®
Drew Cullen, 11 Jul 2003

Oftel dismisses Freeserve BT complaint

BT's broadband marketing does not breach the Competition Act, Oftel has ruled. The regulator investigated BT's tactics after a complaint from Freeserve alleging that BT was behaving anti-competitively by using its 'blue bill' and '150' customer service line to market BT Broadband products. BT's joint telephony and Internet billing packages are also anti-competitive, Freeserve further alleged. Following an investigation, Oftel ruled today that these practices did not give BT an unfair advantage over its competitors, such as Freeserve. The use of the BT retail '150' customer support number as a sales and marketing channel for BT Broadband is not a threat to competition, the regulator ruled. "Oftel's investigation showed that the number of consumers taking BT Broadband as a result of '150' marketing was sufficiently low not to have a material adverse effect on competition," it says. The regulator ruled that BT's practice of bundling promotional material for BT Broadband with residential phone bills isn't a competitive threat either. This is a scatter-gun approach, the regulator reasoned, and BT's "competitors can more specifically target likely broadband users by using direct marketing at a similar or lower cost". Oftel concludes that the benefits of offering a joint billing (or 'blue bill') service, where telephony and broadband bills appear on the same bill, "can be easily replicated using credit card payments or direct debit". David Edmonds, Director General of Telecommunications, commented: "Oftel looked at each of the issues raised by Freeserve, and considered them in detail. In this instance we have concluded that BT's marketing activity using the 'blue bill' and '150' customer service line does not prevent Freeserve competing on a fair basis." The Director General's decision on the Competition Act investigation into BT can be found on Oftel's Web site. No-one at Freeserve was available for immediate comment on the ruling. Relations between Britain's biggest French ISP and the regulator have been strained of late after Freeserve appealed Oftel's ruling on a separate complaint it made to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT), the UK's highest specialist competition law court. The CAT's April ruling upheld Oftel's decision on three of the four points of contention. However the CAT told Oftel to look again at allegations of predatory pricing in the broadband sector by BT, after ruling that the regulator's initially inquiry was insufficiently thorough. Both Oftel and Freeserve have claimed victory in the dispute and the row between the pair has rumbled on through the letters columns of the broadsheets. ® Related Stories Freeserve hits back at regulator Oftel and Freeserve competition row rumbles on Freeserve and Oftel both claim victory in key competition dispute Freeserve nears 70k BB punters BT admits distribution talks with Dixons BTo tops Oftel complaints league table BB punters would 'tolerate' price rise
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2003

Autonomy swoops on Virage

Autonomy, the world's most hyped search software company post-AltaVista and pre-Google, is snapping up Virage Inc. for $24.8m. The net purchase price of this US webcast and video production software developer falls to $13.3m after Virage's expected net cash balance is put into the pot. Autonomy expects the purchase to be accretive to earnings within six months of closing and says it will have a cash balance of around $110m on completion. It will be interesting to see how Autonomy will turn around Virage, a company which lost a whopping $18.1 million on sales of $12.9m for the year ended March 31, 2003. The previous year, the company recorded a net lost of $27.8m on sales of $$16.7 million. With a record like this you can see that Virage's cash balance wasn't necessarily going to last too long as an independent. For its money, Autonomy gets c.400 Virage customers and the chance to shoehorn its unstructured search technology, IDOL, and its own video production software, Dremedia, into Virage products. It expects combined Autonomy and Virage products to hit the street in the first quarter post-acquisition. In a statement, Dr. Mike Lynch, CEO, said Virage will "also significantly broaden Autonomy's installed base of enterprise, media and entertainment, educational and government customers." Virage's board has recommended the deal which has already received 40 per cent acceptance. Broadview advised Virage on terms, while Autonomy used Deutsche Bank Securities. ® Autonomy press release
Drew Cullen, 11 Jul 2003

Virus hysteria debunk-site in difficulties

The popular Vmyths Web site which has for several years ridiculed the excesses of virus and cyber-terror hysteria may be going down for the count. A chronic lack of advertising income has left editor Rob Rosenberger pretty much the sole, volunteer contributor, but now he's been called up for military duty overseas. The site does not generate enough income to hire a substitute editor for the period between now and when Rosenberger is expected to return. The site is appealing to fans for support, but the fundraiser has been slow going. Without an angel, the site will not be updated during Rosenberger's absence, and may be scrapped entirely. Which would definitely be a pity. ® Related Links Details of the site closure Vmyths donation page
Thomas C Greene, 11 Jul 2003

DTI doles out £5.4m in hi-tech research grants

The Department of Trade and Industry today dished out £5.4m in high-tech research grants, "the largest DTI payout in recent years" to EUREKA projects. The money comes from the Government as part of a Europe-wide initiative to promote multi-national R&D partnerships and is split between 36 UK companies working on 17 projects. The DTI press release, complete with full list of winners, is here. ®
Drew Cullen, 11 Jul 2003

Premium rate scam hits London

Parcels delivery company Interlink Express today distanced itself from a premium rate telephone scam taking place in the London area over the last few days. The scam involves a bogus company claiming to be "Interlink International Post" contacting members of the public via door-drop cards or by telephone requesting prospective victims to call about a parcel supposedly held for the fly-by-night outfit. The contact telephone number given is a premium rate number (0906 909 1111) which connects to an automated music recording, leaving punters paying through the nose to listen to canned music. BT's Fraud Bureau Services have terminated the number following complaint by Interlink Express, which was forced to deal with a number of aggrieved punters who wrongly though the it was somehow involved in the scam. Meanwhile Interlink Express plans to pursue legal action against the people responsible for the deception, who has yet remain unidentified. Interlink, through its lawyers, have complained to the police and local council, a spokeswoman for the company tells us. Kay Phillips, Interlink Express chief operating officer, said: "I wish to assure the public and our customers that this scam is not in any way related to our business. We are disappointed that some people attempted to abuse our good name and reputation in order to deceive and steal money. We have taken immediate steps to terminate the scam and held discussions with the trading standards people at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, who are also investigating the extortion." Interlink Express, is part of express parcel group, GeoPost UK, the third largest distribution group in the UK. Interlink Express operates through a franchised distribution network of 99 franchises located throughout the UK. ® Related Stories Text complaints on the up, up, up Euro porn ops fined £125K for premium rate abuse
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2003

Oftel should ‘raise awareness’ of BT rivals

Oftel, the telecoms watchdog, should do more to raise public awareness of BT rivals, the National Audit Office claims. In a report to be presented to Parliament today, the NAO notes that just 23 per cent of consumers could name a telecom supplier other than BT. Which just goes to show that it is unwise to underestimate the intelligence of the Great British Public. According to the NAO, BT has around 70 per cent market share, losing much less to new entrants than traditional incumbents in the gas and electricity sectors. This means that seven per cent of customers don't know the name of their supplier. As we said, it is unwise to underestimate... Gas and electricity watchdogs have been much more proactive than Oftel in making consumers aware of choices, according to the NAO. Yes, yes, but BT's market share for Internet and mobile phones (even if you take into account O2, its former subsidiary) is much less than this, and much less than PTTs in other major Europe countries. Oftel has implemented many changes ahead of publication of the report, it told the FT. It has published several consumer guides, for instance. Which is nice. But is it really Oftel's role to highlight BT's rivals? Are they really so lacklustre at promotion? Surely a cull of the marketing departments of the alternative telcos would be more effective than aiming a kick up Oftel's backside? ®
Drew Cullen, 11 Jul 2003

90% of notebooks to bundle Wi-Fi by 2008

The Wi-Fi hotspot bubble may yet burst, but WLAN access is going to play an increasingly important part in the notebook market over the coming years, according to the latest report from market watcher Strategy Analytics. This year, some 24 per cent of notebooks will ship with built-in 802.11a, b and/or g support, around eight million units, SA reckons. By 2008, the figure will have hit 90 per cent - and there will be around 141 million WLAN-connected notebooks in use, the researcher claims in its report, Wireless Connectivity Options Beyond Cellular: WLAN and Notebook PCs, due to be published next Tuesday, 15 July. Recent research from Forrester puts the figure at 80 per cent, but the principle's the same: come 2008 the vast majority of notebooks out there will have integrated Wi-FI. This trend will be driven by two groups: notebook makers and networking vendors. The latter will increasingly promote WLAN usage in the enterprise, and the former will push WLAN integration as a differentiator. We're a little less convinced of that last point, at least in the longer term. Yes, notebook makers will tout Wi-Fi, but pretty soon world+dog will be bundling 802.11 in one form or another, thanks to falling chip and module prices. It won't be long before first 802.11b and then g will become as important a differentiator as on-board Ethernet or USB ports. 802.11a's greater enterprise suitability should allow notebook manufacturers to better target the corporate market, but the rise of dual-band WLAN adaptors has already begun In the short term, however, bundling Wi-Fi will help push system sales toward notebooks rather than desktops. Now that notebook sales have officially overtaken desktop sales - at least in US retail channels; in May, 54 per cent of system sales were notebooks, according to researcher NPD Intellect - the trend toward replacing desk-bound kit with more mobile machines seems confirmed. Indeed, SA reckons that by 2008, 41 per cent of client and server hardware sales will be notebooks, up from around 25 per cent this year. SA believes that shift will quickly extend into the enterprise arena over the next five years, primarily in the US, which will become the dominant market for notebooks with integrated Wi-Fi. The efforts of Intel, Cisco and co. to push wireless LAN technology will bear fruit when corporate IT begins to pick up. One barrier to this progress is security. "Security concerns will remain an issue, particularly in the on-campus enterprise segment," warns David Kerr, VP of SA's global wireless practice. "However, security concerns will inhibit wireless data usage rather than actual notebook sales." In other words, while there may be a lot of WLAN-enabled notebooks in use in 2008, quite a few may not be being uses to access wireless services, at least not on campus. Forrester's figures for the use of public hotspots (see Bluetooth to outship Wi-Fi five to one) suggests they won't be being used much off campus either, a point with which SA broadly agrees. Incidentally, security worries may prove less of an impediment once the 802.11i standard is ratified, in around nine months' time and as the lesser Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) spec. takes off in the meantime. The issues surrounding the reviled Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) should soon be behind us. However, enterprises in Western Europe and the US on average put WLAN infrastructure roll-outs fairly low on their current list of priorities, says SA senior analyst Neil Mawston. By and large, they're waiting at least two years before considering large-scale Wi-Fi projects, he says. By then, they hope, budget restrictions will have been lifted sufficiently for corporates to replace their existing systems - "There are lots of pre-Y2K notebooks and desktops out there waiting to be replaced," says Mawston - and many of them will be notebooks. Next year will see the start of a big rise in notebook spending activity, SA predicts, rising through 2005/6, before settling down again toward 2007/8. Next year will see Intel pushing much higher specced Centrino systems, based on the 90nm 'Dothan' Pentium M CPU with 2MB of cache and higher clock speeds than today's versions yet with comparable power consumption and battery life. Next year should see Intel finally deliver 802.11a and 802.11g wireless components to the Centrino platform. ®
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

UK ID scheme complex, costly, won't work, says expert

UK home secretary and serial control freak David Blunkett's national ID card scheme has come under fire from an unlikely source - the company currently deploying Belgium's national ID card scheme. This has a certain piquancy, given that Blunkett thinks the UK is "out of kilter" with Europe on ID cards, yet here we have an outfit that knows what it's talking about reckoning that he is out of kilter with ID card thinking. Bart Vansevenant, director of European security strategies for Ubizen, says Blunkett is too ambitious in planning to use biometrics in the scheme. "The point of an ID card is to prove that a person is who they say they are. In order to prove one's identity, name, home address, date of birth and ultimately signature will suffice for most 'authorities'. If not, you are probably using the cards to close your million-dollar bank account and further authentication may be needed. Today, if asked to prove your identity, when are you ever asked to leave your fingerprint or to have the iris of your eye scanned? I would think not even once a year." Vansevenant also notes that biometrics on a piece of ID does not necessarily prove you are who you say you are - it merely proves that you are the person whose biometrics are on the ID. So if there are security holes in the issuing process (or if forgery turns out to be feasible), the authorities merely end up replacing one potentially compromised piece of ID with a more expensive potentially compromised one. A simple example of this relates to the US plans to require biometrics on passports at entry points - countries with corrupt and/or deficient issuing systems will act as sources of false passports, and it will remain extremely difficult for the US immigration services to detect these. On a national scale, as planned in the UK, it will prove extremely expensive to police the issuing of ID. Particularly as it is not entirely unknown for British government agencies to - woops - issue false passports and driving licences. The ability to check validity with a central database is seen by the home office as one of the biggest advantages of the ID card scheme. Vansevenant however points to the privacy implications of this, the difficulties associated with the control of entry points to the database and the large number of false positives that will be thrown up by such checking. If you are simply checking that the fingerprint, face or whatever of the person with the piece of ID matches both the ID and the central record, then it's just about technically feasible because the data should be a very close match. If however you're checking the face against centrally held pictures of Saddam Hussein, then you will end up wrongfully detaining many, many, people, because that does not yet work. In summary, Vansevenant feels that the UK will be creating many new problems in attempting to solve one. Compared to Blunkett's plans, the Belgian system seems almost cuddly. In common with most of Europe, Belgium has a compulsory ID card system and its new digital ID system is the next generation of this. Cards are issued via a town hall registration process, and then a root key is used to create a PKI signature on the card. Information on the card is legally limited to your national number, name, address and picture. Basically the card functions in the same way as the old version did, but the PKI aspect is intended to be used in conjunction with a pin number in order to facilitate electronic transactions with government. Compulsory ID cards are traditional and accepted in Belgium, so the government is able to build the authentication necessary for e-government onto this, and it's probably acceptable in a culture that already accepts compulsory ID cards. The UK, however, is doing it backwards as usual. Belgium is deploying a system that includes, effectively, the universal "entitlement" card of Blunkett's previous dreams, and it's probably secure enough for that purpose. Blunkett has however switched horses on ID, from entitlement to security, and the over-ambitious objectives of the scheme will make it costly to build, vulnerable to security breaches, threatening to privacy and dubious in value. Vansevenant says when designing such scheme you first have to ask yourself what it is you want to do, and then work out how to do it as reliably and securely as the purpose warrants. It would seem to us that Blunkett is not entirely clear as to what it is he wants to do, but has nevertheless become entranced by a misconceived notion that biometric technology will provide a bulletproof mechanism for him to do it with. Authentication, says Vansevent, is something you have, something you know, or something you are, the latter being obviously the strongest, so he feels biometrics will eventually provide the "are". But it won't do it now, nor will it do it when (or if) the US goes ahead with its biometrics requirements, currently planned for next year. Privacy issues aside, until such time as it is workable the pro-ID authorities would do well to consider the 'what do you want to do' question and answer it with levels of security that are both achievable and commensurate with the job in hand. ®
John Lettice, 11 Jul 2003

Apple attempts to patent fast user switching

Apple has filed for a patent that suggests the company is working on a new mobile device capable of supporting multiple users. Either that or it's cunningly trying to outflank Microsoft's lead on fast multi-user switching by retrospectively patenting the technique as its own. Almost as interesting as the patent's content is the name of its lead inventor: Steve Capps, erstwhile Mac OS Finder co-designer and more recently Microsoft's Windows UI architect. Capps is also remembered as the designer of the UI used in Apple's Newton PDA. That gives you an idea of the application's heritage. The application, number 0030107606, is entitled 'Multiple personas for a mobile device'. It describes how a computer system's settings can be immediately changed to reflect a new "persona" when the user chooses from a list of available personae using a graphical user interface displayed on the computer's screen. Aimed at mobile devices it may be, but to us the patent's abstract recalls Mac OS X 10.3's fast user switching system, demo'd in public for the first time by CEO Steve Jobs as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last month. When that facility is enabled in the new version of the multi-user OS, codenamed 'Panther', users can instantly activate their own accounts by selecting from a menu of users in the top right-hand corner of the menu bar. Switching this way doesn't log the current user out of the system, or kill his or her apps, it simply changes the system's settings and application states to those of the user who'd just switched in. The change is engaged with a rather cute rotating cube graphical metaphor. At WWDC, Jobs admitted that Microsoft had beaten Apple to market by offering such a feature in Windows XP, but he claimed Apple's implementation was the better of the two. That would imply, surely, that Microsoft has a solid prior art claim? No. The current application, filed last November and updated this past June, turns out to be a continuation of a patent, number 6,512,525 filed in August 1995, long before Windows XP arrived, and finally granted in January 2003 with the same title. That patent is also assigned to Apple. The downside - if Apple's intent is to outflank Microsoft; we're only guessing here - is that the patent refers to multiple personas of a single user, not multiple users. While Panther's approach to fast user switching might perform its magic by treating multiple users' preferences as different personas of a single, virtual user, it's questionable whether the original patent covers such a use. Incidentally, it does, however, cover uses such as the Mac OS' Location Manager, which switches network-related settings according to the user's location. The patent extends that idea to cover other, more personal settings and data, that might depend on the user's location/identity, ie. the computer's owner as public individual and as company employee. Whatever, Apple's continuation application applies the concepts relevant to fast user switching retrospectively to the original patent. The continuation application is reworded to imply the kind of functionality delivered by Panther's fast user switching. There are references to "said persona being one of multiple personas available on the computer system and associated with one or more users of the computer system" a concept seemingly missing from the original patent. The later application also refers to linking personas to passwords - another pointer to fast user switching. So the new application clearly associates fast user switching with multiple personas, essentially allowing Apple to claim it has owned that technology since 1995. And, of course, this is perfectly permissible under US patent law, an intellectual propery attorney of our acquaintance told us. Continuations can be and are filed to retrospectively add claims to already granted patents. Sometimes that's because the inventor is appealing against claims that were originally disallowed, more often it's done to slip one past a competitor - an approach we've heard described as "Machiavellian". Will Apple use its new-found intellectual property rights? Maybe not, but like its use of QuickTime patents to win a $150 million investment from Microsoft demonstrated some years back, it may now have the opportunity to do so if it ever hears the words 'cancelled' and 'Microsoft Office' in the same sentence. ®
Tony Smith, 11 Jul 2003

IBM, Sun and HP locked in giant Unix OS spat

Analysts say the Unix operating system market is dwindling with speed, but the major server vendors are fighting hard to hold onto their clientele and to attract new customers with a host of Unix migration offerings rolling out in recent weeks. Right atop IBM's Web site is a handy link to a Solaris onto AIX migration program. IBM has offered up hundreds of pages in technical comparisons between its AIX operating system and the Solaris OS, trying to show why a migration in this sour economy makes sense. "Today, many Solaris users are contemplating their options," we are told. "Do I try to hang tight with a proprietary architecture that may not have kept technological pace? Do I try to take the leap to another UNIX vendor who is in the midst of switching his microprocessor architecture. (That's for you HP users -Ed) Do I see what my Linux options are?" The sudden concern for Solaris users comes as a result of tit-for-tat squabble between IBM and Sun. SCO's decision to attack IBM's AIX and Linux business gave Sun ample opportunity to go after its rival. Last month, Sun kicked of a campaign to "help" AIX users worried about SCO's legal licensing threat against the OS. "You chose UNIX® as your network computing platform because you knew you were in it for the long haul," Sun said. "You'd expect your IT partner to show the same kind of commitment. . . So, for all of you stranded AIX users, Sun is offering a solution. For qualifying customers, we'll conduct a two-day Migration Consultation, gratis, to assess and analyze your migration feasibility to the Solaris OS. We're even willing to take a trade-in on whatever Blue boxes you're running now." But shifting AIX users onto Solaris is not enough for Sun. The company is also starting a program on July 21 to move HP users off of Tru64. We've seen Blue Away and now it's time for HP Away. Same terms and conditions apply for both. HP, of course, has its own migration program in place. Users are to move off of their PA-RISC and Alpha boxes and onto the good ship Itanic-based kit. The new EPIC instruction set used by Intel with Itanium will demand a fair amount of code-shifting from HP's user base. Maybe Sun has something here with the HP Away program. Why make the move to unproven EPIC chips when a venerable RISC option is around? HP would argue that it is building the key clustering and file system technologies from Tru64 into HP-UX, giving its Itanic users the best Unix OS. It has the same deals going on as Sun and IBM but does not want to get caught in the marketing fray. "HP does have comprehensive and coordinated company-wide programs in place to aggressively pursue and migrate customers from Sun and IBM systems to HP systems, and we have been very successful in doing so," said a HP spokesperson. "However we are not actively publicizing these as marketing programs as our focus continues to remain on execution." All told these migration programs amount to little more the PR smoke and mirrors. Users rarely make major migrations and are less likely to do so with a bad economy crimping their budgets. There are indictors that Unix users are shifting to Linux for certain kinds of applications, and Microsoft with the help of Dell and others has been able to woo a Unix user or two. Despite these moves, the fight between IBM, Sun and HP confirms that Unix is alive and well and still pulling in billions the cash-strapped vendors desperately want. It would be interesting to know which vendor is actually seeing success with their migration program. ® Related Stories IBM keeps the AIX flag flying Linux in Europe HP-UX upgraded for Itanium 2
Ashlee Vance, 11 Jul 2003

Inflexible work kills creativity

UK companies are jeopardising creativity through inflexible working hours. The common practice of working late into the night kills creativity - except in workers under 24, according to research sponsored by Corel released today. Afternoon brainstorms which try to force creativity are actually killing productivity, the study suggests. The survey finds that creative time varies by both gender and age group. For example, few (16 per cent) of those between 16-24 feel at their most creative in the morning, compared to 44 per cent of 55-64 year olds. The majority of 16-24 year olds feel most creative in the evenings (46 per cent) whereas many 25-44 year olds feel most creative in the morning (30 per cent). A third of men feel creative out of conventional working hours compared to only 24 per cent) of women. Corel concludes that employers which require creativity in staff should offer more flexible working hours to improve imaginative output. Many companies are considering, or already offer, their staff flexible working hours but this survey suggest that companies may need to take a more structured approach by finding out when the individual works best if they want to improve productivity. "As part of our campaign for creativity we wanted to find out how British employers can maximise the creative talent within their organisation," said Amanda Bedborough, executive vice president, Corel. "Our study supports the beliefs of many chronobiologists or body clock scientists, who have suggested that if we don't listen to our body clock we won't perform as effectively. With a skill that it is so intangible such as creativity it is critical that it is not forced. Employers need to therefore consider helping their employees structure their day around when they perform tasks most effectively." The survey, carried out by Dynamic Markets on behalf of Corel, quizzed 1,000 people of mixed aged groups and sexes throughout the UK on their attitudes to work and creativity. ® Related Stories Bosses and workers split over flexi-working Flexi-working not so flexible Tech firms climb on flexi-working bandwagon Related Stories Early Riser or Night Owl, it's all in the genes
John Leyden, 11 Jul 2003