17th > October > 2003 Archive

EMC hits software stride in Q3

EMC delivered on some promises in the third quarter, showing gains across all major segments of its business. EMC generated $1.51 billion in revenue for the period, which is a 20 percent increase over the $1.26 billion posted in Q3 last year. The company reported $159 million in net income this quarter versus just $21 million in the same period last year. "We are on track to achieve double-digit growth for the year, which not many large technology companies will do in this challenging economic environment," said Joe Tucci, EMC's CEO. EMC has managed to hike software revenue up to 23 percent of total revenue, which is well on the way to the company's 30 percent objective. Tucci pointed to the recent acquisitions of Legato and Documentum as two major factors that will help EMC's software revenue quest. EMC saw strong gains across the board in the third quarter. The company posted $801 million in hardware sales for the period compared to $662 million last year. Software sales also rose to $345 million from $284 million. Services hit $341 million this quarter compared to $279 million last year. For the fourth quarter of 2003, EMC is looking for revenue between $1.74 billion and $1.78 billion. EMC also forecasted that software revenue will account for 26 percent of total revenue by the end of 2004. ® Related Stories EMC plunks down $1.7bn for Documentum EMC dips into HP's storage exec pool - again EMC beefs up midrange NAS EMC drops WideSky, swallows pride
Ashlee Vance, 17 Oct 2003

Pepsi, Apple team to lure kids to DRM

Pepsi is teaming with Apple Computer to give away 100 million songs on its iTunes Music Store. Apple launched Windows version of the store yesterday, and the Pepsi deal was one of several promotions designed to raise awareness of the hitherto Mac-only product. Lucky cola drinkers will be able to redeem a winning can or bottle for a month next February. In another move to lure children to the world of Digital Rights Management-cripped music, Apple has introduced allowance accounts "so children can access music legally, without giving them a credit card". There's some logic to the moves, beyond simple brand awareness. It's a recognition that a last legacy of Napster, as noted by Joe Menn in his terrific book All The Rave, is that kids now expect to get music for free, and don't see a moral obligation to recompense the artists. But getting stuff "for free" and compensating the artist are two different things. Compulsory licenses - which started out as a plan to allow developing countries access to essential, patent-encumbered drugs, can allow all kinds of compensation models. Which can mean free in the National Health Service sense of being "free at the point of delivery". And it's all about distribution. The RIAA clings to a distribution model now rendered all but obsolete by computer networks. An attorney for the lobby group told webcasters that it would be happy to see 25,000 small Internet broadcasters go to the wall, because its members were happy with the 200 streams that AOL could provide. Controlling the publicity and distribution channels is essential to the dying labels. People simply demand too much diversity for their top-heavy, coercive business models to cope with. Although compulsory licenses are now backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and their success in defying big pharma could be mirrored in the battle against the music oligopolists, the computer industry seems determined to keep the antique distribution monopoly of the RIAA alive, by supporting restrictions on the digital distribution of music. Just as Napster encouraged one form of social conditioning - "you don't have to pay!", messy compromises such as iTMS encourage others. One is that you can't take your music with you. With DRM, your rights are severely restricted. Apple has been congratulated for finding a workable middle way, but for many others it's an answer to a problem that doesn't exist. And secondly, iTMS suits the RIAA just fine precisely because it such a limited distribution channel. On its launch, one reader unkindly compared to "an airport kiosk without the cigarettes and gum." Apple has since doubled the number of tracks on offer to 400,000, but huge gaps exist, and Apple has lost some prominent artists, Radiohead. Never mind, at the San Francisco launch yesterday Steve Jobs won an endorsement from a figure almost as famous as the Apple founder: Bono from U2. If you're wondering how these two messiahs got on in the same room, you'll have to wait - for Bono was on a live feed from Dublin. Bono, as ever, took time to flatter himself - "that's why I'm here to kiss the corporate ass, and I don't kiss every corporate ass" - before flattering his host. He described Jobs as "the Dalai Lama of integration". A tight-lipped Jobs preserved his dignity by keeping a poker face at this crass attempt at humor, and politely told the clown to shove off with a terse "Well, take care." Whereas a few months ago, we'd have bet that the RIAA would die a slow death from compulsory licenses within ten years, it now looks set fair for a good hundred. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2003

SCO blinks – bill us when you can

SCO is to suspend 'indefinitely' its demand that SGI pay it UNIX™ royalties. Perhaps more importantly for Linux users, it's not going to bill end users either. Businesses who run Linux don't have to worry about an invoice from SCO, or at least not yet. The Utah-based company had said it was looking for $699 up to $4,999 for servers and $199 for desktops. Now it's delaying sending out the invoices. SCO claims to have found a couple of mugs who wanted pay the license fees without receiving an invoice. But as analyst Gordon Haff of Illuminata told IDG, billing end-users exposes SCO to counter-suits, at least in the litigious USA. SCO's Blake Stowell recently took issue with IBM and SGI's defense that their licenses were 'irrevocable'. Peter de Silva writes: "But, Doctor Evil, 'irrevocable' doesn't mean 'it can't be revoked', it means 'it can't be revoked unilaterally and arbitrarily". And Charles Duffy suggests SCO should take a closer look at its own contracts. "Amendment 10 to the IBM contract, clearly states: 'Upon payment to SCO of the consideration in the subsection entitled "Consideration", IBM will have the irrevocable, fully paid-up, perpetual right to exercise all of its rights under the Related Agreements beginning January 1, 1996 at no additional royalty fee.' "It also states: 'Notwithstanding the above, the irrevocable nature of the above rights will in no way be construed to limit Novell's or SCO's rights to enjoin or otherwise prohibit IBM from violating any and all of Novell's or SCO's rights under this Amendment No. X, the Related Agreements, or under general patent, copyright or trademark law." "In short: SCO can get a court order to stop IBM from violating the agreement, but they can't revoke the agreement itself. I suggest Mr. Stowell try to answer his question (with regard to why anyone in their right mind would sign an irrevocable license) himself." And the proof's here. Andy Grove last week pointed to IP legislation as a sign of competitive decline in the United States. He didn't quite describe it as a sign of Imperial decadence, but he might as well have done. However finance capitalists - who these terms set the tech agenda - can't get enough of it. The SCO Group has seen its share value rocket since embarking on its litigation campaign against Linux, and yesterday received $50 million in investment from BayStar Capital. That's enough to buy a 17.5 per cent stake in SCO for Baystar, which has invested in companies that exploit patent and other 'IP' properties, including Roxio and Digimarc. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2003

FoTW: Did your dog write this?

Flame of the WeekFlame of the Week Re: Intel's Grove blames unitease on TWHRUPBS From: Major E. "Weber II To: Did your dog write this article? What is the point of publishing this gobbledy-gook? I've looked over the original transcript and there were useful, quotable parts that could have made an interesting article. You chose to pull out the most worthless quotes to print this cheeky-worthless article. Either define the acronyms or wait to publish. My sister is a news editor for the Chicago Tribune, so I think I have a vague idea of what is fit to print! Please stop wasting our time. Major Weber [name withheld] Special Projects Group In a less incandescent mode of enquiry, reader Jamie Roberts adds:- Was CS Lewis a true prophet? First, the main foil of his novel 'That Hideous Strength' (1945) on the dangers of scientificism was the UK NICE. And but a few years ago, lo, the UK gov. created the NICE - something like his... http://www.nice.org.uk/. This was shiver-worthy. But worse, at the culmination of his story, at a meeting of the NICE, the power of rational speech was removed from those attending (before they met a just, Tarantino-anticipating, and well-deserved bloody end). 'The madrigore of verjuice must be talthibianiesed', quoth the director. The plot THWARPENS. If AG is invited to meet the NICE, I suggest we all duck. All will be explained, as we now have the full transcript. You can download it here [36 kb PDF] with accompanying slides (here [152 kb PDF]). ® Recent Flames Which school of journalism did you go to, Moron? My 12-year-old nephew is going to rob your house
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2003

Backup? What backup!

Thousands of UK small firms are teetering on the brink of disaster because they are ignoring simple backup procedures needed to safeguard their critical business data, a survey released yesterday has claimed. According to the online poll, which was conducted by Microsoft, over a quarter of small companies cannot be bothered to back up data at all, while 40 per cent admitted that they only get around to doing back ups less than once a month. The software giant went on to warn that the danger from shoddy backup procedures will be compounded by what it predicts will be sharp increases in the number of laptops being damaged or stolen. The company cited statistics suggesting that 100,000 laptops will be damaged and nearly 67,000 stolen next year, adding that with figures like these, insurers are advising businesses to incorporate the cost of hardware theft into annual budget planning. John Coulthard, head of small business for Microsoft UK, said: "A recent MORI study revealed that half the respondents believed their laptop was susceptible to theft, yet more than a third did not make copies of confidential files. Without backing up your data you are liable to lose everything that you have worked so hard to build. So, we hear you cry, what can be done to halt this apparently inexorable slide toward data disaster? Well, according to Microsoft the answer is to - yes you've guessed it - invest in the company's latest version of Small Business Server (SBS 2003) so you can schedule and centralise backups from the server. For those that are interested in Microsoft's take on the benefits of server-based backup, the company has teamed up with the British Chambers of Commerce to produce a free networking guide which can be ordered from its small business website, bCentral.co.uk. ®
Robert Jaques, 17 Oct 2003

AMD loss shrinks in Q3

AMD's loss narrowed during its third quarter on the back of much-improved sales during the three months to 28 September. The chip maker lost $31 million (nine cents a share) on sales of $954 million. Sales were up 88 per cent on the $508 million it reported this time last year and up 48 per cent on the previous quarter. Processor sales were up 91 per cent year on year to $503 million. That figure represents a sequential increase of 24 per cent. Flash sales, at $424 million, were more than twice what they were during Q2, but bear in mind that AMD now incorporates figures from its Flash JV with Fujitsu, FASL, into its books. For the year-ago quarter, AMD reported a loss of $254 million (74 cents a share), and was $140 million (40 cents a share) in the red during Q2 2003. "As a result of our sales growth and operational efficiencies, we reduced our third quarter operating loss by 76 per cent to $30 million from $123 million last quarter," said AMD CFO Robert J Rivet. "We more than doubled our positive EBITDA quarter-to-quarter to $277 million, generated positive cash flow from operations and ended the third quarter with a cash balance of $1.076 billion, up from $706 million in the second quarter." ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2003

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner (that BT wages get me down)

More than 120 workers gathered outside BT's HQ yesterday lunchtime to campaign for an increase in their London Weighting Allowance. The placard-waving crowd included two demonstrators dressed as highwaymen. One demonstrator described BT's refusal to increase London Weighting - an allowance first introduced 30 years ago to compensate staff for the extra cost of working in the capital - as "daylight robbery". [hence the highwaymen outfits, geddit? Ed] Yesterday's action was organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which claims that London Weighting for BT staff has stood still at a time when the cost of living and working in London has increased massively - making the capital Europe's most expensive city. One of the flyers handed out by those taking part in yesterday's action reads: "You don't have to be Einstein to work out that it costs more to live in London than the rest of the UK. "Because it is more expensive to live in the capital, BT's London workers are the poorest in the UK on their grade. Despite this, BT refuses to acknowledge that London is an expensive place to live." ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2003

Emergency fixes for blog-clogged Google

LettersLetters It's hard to say what needs patching more urgently, right now: Microsoft Windows or Google. But at least Microsoft makes its fixes conspicuously available. Google's notorious culture of secrecy forbids it from offering even the most innocent explanations. Fortunately, Register readers have come to the rescue. On Sunday Google admitted to the Washington Post that it was working on a bug it had found which was withholding thousands of legitimate search results from its users. The bug was in response to another bug: Google's susceptibility to being gamed by spammers who set up 'link farms' to tripwire its PageRank™ algorithm. "Is Google starting to show signs of strain against spammers and Web scammers?", asked the Post. And this week yet another bug seemed to illustrate that the patched-up search engine was losing the battle. Google can't weed out its search results for 'blog noise', such as the millions of empty pages created by Movable Type's "Trackback" feature, we reported. If you compare Google's search results for OS X Panther discussion with AltaVista's, AltaVista scored a clean sweep - providing a Top Ten free of the Trackback virus that Movable Type webloggers have unwittingly dumped on the Internet. Seven out of the top ten results from Google were duds: empty trackback pages. In the absence of a bug-report from Google, here are some emergency patches, from Register readers. "Perhaps the answer is to put -trackback into google whenever you search," writes Paul Fleetwood. "It certainly fixed the example you provided. Though maybe google need to make it a default setting." Stuart Bell agrees. "Perhaps Google should consider such an innocuous fix? Granted, we'll end up in yet another arms race between the blogger software folks and Google filters, but that's life out on the wild and wooly Internet frontier, eh?" Paul Tomblin offers the more sophisticated filter -mt-tb.cgi - which seems to do the trick nicely. "I suppose the simplest way to do this would be putting a new section in the Google preferences page - a noise filter, spam filter, blog filter, whatever - which has either hard-coded or user editable exclusions for searches," Andrew Hodgkinson. "To be much use for the 'average casual searcher' who doesn't know about preferences, advanced search or blogs, it probably ought to be switched on by default - a little risky (as with any spam filter it might block legitimate content), but surely no more so than SafeSearch." Indeed so. Perhaps with its executives fixated on an IPO, and aggressively expanding the company's advertising franchise, Google has forgotten that it once had a search engine too, way back when. Perhaps the executives would like to attend to it now. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2003

Teen hacker is not guilty

Aaron Caffrey, the teenager hacker accused of crippling the Port of Houston's web-based systems, was found not guilty today. The jury took just three hours to reach their verdict. Prosecution and defence agreed that a DDOS attack had begun from Caffrey's home PC. But Caffrey claimed the evidence against him was planted on his machine by attackers who used an unspecified Trojan to gain control of his PC and launch the assault. Neil Barrett, an expert witness for the prosecution, said that Caffrey's machine showed no trace of the tell-tale signs that would be left by such an attack but today's verdict, shows that this did not persuade the jury. Caffrey, of Shaftesbury, Dorset was accused of conducting a DDOS attack against the Port of Houston, crippling its Web-based systems for hours in the early hours of September 21 2001. This was the result of a misdirected attack by Caffrey against a fellow chat-room user, the prosecution claimed. Caffrey's case is the first ever in the UK decided by a jury under the Computer Misuse Act. But the Trojan defence has succeed before in a British court. In April this year, Karl Schofield, 39, was cleared of possession of child porn when prosecutors accepted expert testimony that the unnamed Trojan could have been responsible for the presence of 14 child porn images on his PC. ® Related Stories UK teenager accused of 'electronic sabotage' against US port UK teen in 'elite' hacking group Trojan defence clears man on child porn charges
Drew Cullen, 17 Oct 2003

BT's trigger-less 400 exchanges – ‘cynical’

BT's decision not to give trigger levels to more than 400 exchanges has been described as "cynical" by a leading UK broadband pressure group. Broadband4Britain (B4B) reckons the move is a ploy by BT to try and win public money to help support its roll-out of broadband. B4B spokesman Andy Williams told The Register: "I think this is a cynical move by BT to win subsidies. It is fishing for grants and public money to upgrade these exchanges." And he urged other operators to take the lead and service the demand for broadband that BT so far refuses to meet. BT's broadband registration scheme is meant to map demand for broadband in areas currently not wired up to high-speed Net access. The theory is that if enough people register their interest, BT will invest the cash needed to convert their exchange to DSL. However, the scheme is dependent on the setting of a "trigger level" - a set number of users needed to pay for the upgrade of an exchange. Without it, exchanges cannot be upgraded regardless of the interest. Earlier this week ADSL Guide reported that BT Wholesale had added a further 322 exchanges to the 100 or so it currently regards as commercially unviable to convert to broadband. In other words, these exchanges do not have a level of demand set that would trigger BT investment. And it means that even though several hundred people per exchange are prepared to pay for broadband, BT has decided that this is not enough - at the moment - to cover the cost of converting the exchange. B4B's attack is the latest in an ongoing row over the cost of converting exchanges to DSL. Last year, the independent pressure group consulted independent analysts, industry experts and equipment suppliers and concluded that any local telephone exchange in the UK can be affordably "broadband-enabled" with just 50 paying customers. Even at this level B4B reckoned BT would see a "rapid pay-back on [its] capital investment". A spokeswoman for BT insisted that the telco is still looking at other ways to convert these 400 or so exchanges to DSL including teaming up with public sector organisations to help offset investment costs. Indeed, BT could be about to announce plans along these lines. Said the spokeswoman: "We haven't ruled out setting triggers for these exchanges. We're actively looking at what more can be done. For anyone to suggest we are sitting back and waiting for funding is wrong." ® Related Story BT scoffs at broadband upgrade figures
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2003

eBay piles up the cash

eBay has had a barnstorming Q3 with net income up 69 per cent year on year to $103.3 million on sales up 84 per cent to £530.9 million, The US e-tailer-cum-fraudster's paradise reports strong sales overseas, especially in Germany, the UK and South Korea. And it's gung-ho about prospects for the holiday season - you can even buy eBay gift certificates now. eBay is sitting on a $2.6bn mountain of cash. Surely, it's time to start paying dividends. After all, the company can't sustain growth at this rate for forever, can it? But from the noises that CFO Rajiv Dutta is making, the company looks like it has some other things in mind. In a conference call, he said the company is considering acquisitions. "We have enormous potential," he said. "We were struck by the number of extremely attractive opportunities that lie ahead." ®
Drew Cullen, 17 Oct 2003

Nokia held back by falling prices

Falling handset prices and the weak dollar hit Nokia's results, leading to a 5% decline in third quarter sales, although net income climbed 35% year-on-year and the company remained strong in market share and margins. The company reported net income of €823m, up 35% from a year ago when profit was curbed by a €306m charge related to bad debt. Stripping out that charge and other exceptional items, Nokia's net profit would have slipped 2%. Sales were down 5% to €6.87bn. Nokia's shares, which have boomed since it announced its recent reorganisation, dropped back 3.5% on the results announcement. As usual, the market was focusing on the short term, something that increasingly frustrates CEO Jorma Ollila, who has threatened to curtail his company's mid-quarter updates to leave his executives more free to focus on the strategic. In the next two quarters, Nokia will be pressurised by falling prices and currency fluctuations, but longer term, its reorganisation demonstrated a company positioning itself strongly to succeed in a changed market, and it has the most detailed and creative product roadmap of any of the handset makers bar, perhaps, Samsung. Lower average phone prices are no surprise to anyone, especially as Nokia is seeing increasing proportions of sales from India, China and other developing markets, where model prices are low. However, we have to remember that the Finnish giant is specifically targeting these territories and is creating low cost ranges for them that will preserve respectable margins, while spinning the high end smartphones and digital media gadgets into a separate division that will look for maximum profit. Investors reacted strangely as always, getting highly excited about Sony Ericsson's turnaround, even though the company warned that next quarter would be hit by the release of a larger number of cheap phones; but slamming Nokia, which has well documented plans for increasing its margins – through more sophisticated models at the high end and even more efficient production cycles at the low end. However, Nokia's massive dependence on handsets, which are over 80% of its revenue, is always a cause for concern, and one reason for its recent restructuring. Not that it has any problems with market share - its unit shipments rose 23% in Q3 to 45.5m, which equates to almost 40% share, but prices fell 19% year-on-year. Ollila said about half of this fallback was because of the dollar and said that, combined with the launch of new models, he was "confident that we can have double digit revenue growth in a matter of quarters". A confident prediction from a notoriously cautious CEO. Nokia predicted that mobile phone sales would be flat or slightly up year-on-year in the current fourth quarter and that group earnings would be flat or up to 10% down. The ailing Networks division made a small profit but Olilla believes turnaround will be long term in this unit. "I think we can get into reasonable margins in the next two to three years," he said. ©Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the Wireless Watch Report and Weekly Newsletter, click here
Wireless Watch, 17 Oct 2003

Vodafone, DoCoMo will not launch 3G ‘until it works’

In the debate over the future for 3G, we seemed in mid-2003 to have reached a consensus: 3G was rolling out at last, especially the CDMA2000 variants; it was less attractive to users and operators than had been hoped, and was moving slowly, but it would definitely become a major force within a couple more years. Now 3 has experienced further setbacks in its deployment and Vodafone says it will not launch 3G "until it works", with the implication that this may be some way off, while DoCoMo is putting a 10-year timeframe on 3G ubiquity. In the mean time, GPRS and EDGE are taking on roles that were never envisaged for them and IP-based next generation services are creeping up behind. The bets on 3G ever repaying the investment that has been made in it remain firmly off the table. The European operators are in a particularly difficult situation of course, because of the high prices they paid for their 3G licenses and the stringent obligations that went with them. This week, the heads of Europe's largest telcos urged the European Union once again to soften these obligations and so encourage the roll-out of 3G. The chief executives of Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom – owners of T-Mobile and Orange respectively – joined equipment makers Philips and Ericsson and BT to call on the EU's information society commissioner, Erkki Liikanen, to "review license conditions, since 3G delays have made the initial conditions in some markets unrealistic". The CEOs estimate that the cost of 3G licenses in the EU has totalled €110bn and that rollout will cost an extra €105bn, although – disastrously for the base station makers – only €12bn of this has been spent so far because of delays caused by technical hitches and uncertain market demand. The telcos want greater latitude to share infrastructure and spectrum and acquire each other's assets, since consolidation is the only way that most 3G projects will survive. Such options are currently highly restricted. They did not make much headway – Liikanen's view seems to be that the regulatory framework is sound and the telcos need to invest more money in order to reap their rewards. The experience of the main 3G operator with a service up and running in Europe, 3, plus the cautiousness of Vodafone, suggest this view is highly over-simplistic. The two operators are at the opposite ends of the 3G spectrum in terms of approach. 3 looked to win by being first to the market, gaining customer share and a headstart with cutting edge services. Vodafone is determined not to venture into 3G until demand is firmly established and in the mean time is seeking to enhance the appeal of its existing GSM and GPRS based offerings. ©Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the Wireless Watch Report and Weekly Newsletter, click here
Wireless Watch, 17 Oct 2003
SGI logo hardware close-up

BEA tools up for apps security

BEA has released the first fruits of its acquisition of CrossLogix in February with the launch of WebLogic Enterprise Security for managing application security policy. The product revolves around CrossLogix' centralized authentication policy manager and takes BEA into the increasingly hot market of application level protection – as opposed to the network level where most conventional security houses focus. The tool fits into the vision of BEA's CEO Alfred Chuang of a single platform from which all decisions are made, something BEA labels 'business process oriented programming'. As well as authentication, the new offering will provide authorization and audit integration with single sign-on, through partnerships with Symantec and Verisign. "It's not a client/server architecture, but distributed in the sense that we take policy and configuration information centrally and distribute them to the services that run in the enterprise," BEA said. "The services never go back to the central server, they keep running, so when there are any changes to policy it's distributed to them. "A lot of programs go back to the central server and ask for information, and that doesn't scale and that doesn't give you the performance you need." ©Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the News IS Weekly Newsletter, click here CIO Survey: ERP Trends 2003 [Includes attitudes of CIOs to proposed Oracle/PeopleSoft takeover]
News IS, 17 Oct 2003
Broken CD with wrench

Siebel bags brace of firms

Siebel may have had a hesitant start in the hosted applications market, but it is now moving forward aggressively with two acquisitions and a partnership with Sun. The company has acquired services-based software house UpShot for up to $70m in cash and the assets of business applications house Motiva for about $3m. The former deal is designed to kickstart Siebel's recent move into hosted CRM software with the launch of CRM ONDemand, a simplified version of its full blown customer relationship management software, delivered over the web for a subscription fee via an alliance with IBM Global Services. Siebel will merge the UpShot service with its own CRM OnDemand with the same rationale that underlies most of its acquisitions, to gain significant market share rapidly. UpShot employs 100 staff and its customers include Xerox and Hewlett-Packard. Before this month, Siebel had been steering clear of the vogue for offering software as a web-based, on demand service, concerned about the effect on the margins of its core business and stung by an earlier unsuccessful attempt to enter this game with the now defunct unit, Sales.com. Siebel's chief rival for OnDemand will be Salesforce.com, whose CEO Marc Benioff told journalists he did not regard it as "a credible threat". He added: "They know how to shove big software licenses down big companies' throats." The OnDemand effort, which will go live at the end of this year, is also boosted by a new alliance with Sun, which will help find application hosting partners, in addition to IBM, for the software. A distribution deal with Sun could be valuable since Sun has recently made a point of pursuing relationships with services companies such as SchlumbergerSema to offer ondemand systems based on its servers, and key applications from third parties. Meanwhile, the Motiva purchase gives Siebel an additional string to its business software bow, with specialist applications for tracking staff's performance based compensation. ©Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the News IS Weekly Newsletter, click here CIO Survey: ERP Trends 2003 [Includes attitudes of CIOs to proposed Oracle/PeopleSoft takeover]
News IS, 17 Oct 2003

BT's Freeview deal ‘cobbled together’

Telewest has rubbished BT's claim that it's challenging cable operators by announcing a new digital TV deal. In what is fairly tame knockabout stuff for a Friday afternoon, Telewest says that BT "has cobbled together its telephone service with a Freeview TV box and pay-as-you-go internet access via the TV". A Telewest exec described BT's new package as a "pale imitation of cable's consumer-friendly offering". Yesterday, BT formally announced that it would start flogging Freeview boxes to its 19 million residential customers as part of a "triple play deal" of phone, TV and Net access. The move is designed to take a swipe at cableco's ability to offer all three services in one hit. News of BT's Freeview deal caught the monster telco on the hop last week when the story leaked out. ® Related Story BT flogs Freeview TV boxes
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2003

iTunes comes to Windows

Apple today released a Windows version of iTunes onto its website. In a pitch on its home page - titled Hell Freezes Over - Apple describes its new baby as "the best Windows app ever". iTunes has proved exceedingly popular with North American Mac afficionados, who have bought gazillions of music downloads since the launch earlier this year. Apple, of course, accounts for just three per cent of PC users - but maybe more of music-loving, music-ripping people. Extending iTunes to Windows will enable the company to more easily defend its new turf against even newer upstarts. ® Related stories eBay pulls iTunes song auction Pepsi, Apple team to lure kids to DRM AOL Europe preps music download service Sony to tie online music service into hardware Microsoft beats Apple iTunes Music Store to Europe
Drew Cullen, 17 Oct 2003

VoodooPC preps Athlon 64 gamers' notebook

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Notebook Gamer-friendly notebook maker VoodooPC has introduced an AMD Athlon 64-based machine to its line of Envy Pentium-based portables. The Envy m:855 is built around a VIA K8T800 chipset. Its graphics sub-system is driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 chip with 64MB of video RAM, hooked up to a 15in screen. Since all of VoodooPC's machines are built to order, the company didn't detail memory, hard drive and DVD-RW optical storage, but the HDD it's offering is Hitachi's 7200rpm notebook-friendly Travelstar, probably a 60GB version. The unit includes a built in card reader, an S/P DIF audio port, four USB 2.0 ports, a 1394 connector, 56Kbps modem, 10/100Mbps Ethernet. And a 12-cell battery. With 12 cells, says VoodooPC, this is the first desktop replacement offering "decent" battery life. Generic tests show around 3.9 hours, but two hours is probably a better 'real world' life. The (8lb) m:855 will come in an array of coloured cases, with room for personalised decals to be added on the buyer's behalf. The machine is expected to begin shipping at the end of the month, internationally as well as to North America. Desktop Sony launched its latest all-in-one Vaio, this week. The slimline, black PCV-V100G crams the entire consumer-oriented rig into the 15.3in LCD panel housing, resulting in a PC that the company claims is barely thicker than a standalone LCD monitor. Aimed at home users, the PCV-100G also operates as a TV and a TiVo-style personal video recorder, activated using the machine's remote control unit and powered by a built-in Giga Pocket MPEG 2 Realtime Encoder/TV tuner board. Stereo speakers are built-in too. Sony bundles its own Vaio Media software, which allows music, movies and photos to be shared over a local network. Inside the PC is a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of 333MHz DDR memory, an 80GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW combo optical drive. The system's graphics come courtesy of the SiS651 chipset. External connections can be made using the integrated 56Kbps modem or 10/100Mbps Ethernet port. There are also two USB 2.0 connectors and a 1394 (iLink) port. There's a Memory Stick slot too. The PCV-100G ships with a wireless keyboard and mouse. In addition to Sony's software - which also includes its Creation Suite Plus collection of content management and editing tools - the PCV-100G ships with Windows XP Media Center Edition. Sony will begin shipping the PC in the US later this month, though it will begin taking pre-orders via its Sony Style web site from tomorrow. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2003

Caffrey acquittal a setback for cybercrime prosecutions

The acquittal of the teenage defendant in a high profile cybercrime case today is a setback for police that will have profound implications to the future of criminal prosecutions for computer crime in the UK, according to legal and security experts involved in the case. Aaron Caffrey, 19, was cleared after a jury unanimously decided he was not guilty of unauthorised computer modifications related to the attack that crippled the Port of Houston's Web-based systems in September 2001. The jury of six women and five men reached its verdict after deliberating for just three hours. Prosecution and defence in the case both agreed an attack that slowed the massive American sea port's Web systems to a crawl was launched from Caffrey's home PC. The debilitating attack on the Port of Houston's vulnerable NT-based systems was the result of a misdirected attack by Caffrey against a fellow chat-room user, the prosecution claimed. But Caffrey, of Shaftesbury in Dorset, claimed the evidence against him was planted on his machine by attackers who used an unspecified Trojan to gain control of his PC and launch the assault. A forensic examination of Caffrey's PC found attack tools but no trace of Trojan infection. The case therefore hinged on whether the jury accepted the defence argument that a Trojan could wipe itself or expert testimony from the prosecution that no such technology existed. Today's verdict shows that the prosecution case failed to convince the jury. Speaking after the verdict, Caffrey said he angered by the accusations against him and at how he was "interpreted" by the police and portrayed in court. He was "delighted" to have been cleared but "very nervous and shaky". Caffrey hopes to rebuild his life and look for a job in either computer security or programming. Outside the court his barrister, Iain Ross, said: "He [Caffrey] has always insisted he was not guilty and that he was a victim of a criminal act rather than being a criminal himself." Ross described the case as a setback for the police. "How can the prosecution ever prove someone wasn't the victim of a Trojan horse attack? Trojan horse attacks can happen at any time," said Ross. "The case is a setback for police in the prosecution of computer crimes," he added. Neil Barrett, technical director of security consultancy IRM, who appeared in the case as an expert witness for the prosecution, agreed with this assessment. "This is a setback because it opens the floodgates to Trojan arguments, not just in hacking cases, but in the prosecution of paedophile cases," Barrett told The Register. "It's very difficult to counter the quite simple argument that someone else did it and ran away. We had hoped to showthat if someone else did it they would have left footprints and that, in this case, there weren't any." "It's difficult to prove something hasn't happened," Barrett added The case is likely to prompt a review by police of how evidence is put before a jury in computer crime cases, he added. Parties on both the defence and prosecution side of the case floated the opinion that complex computer crime cases might better be tried before a panel of experts, rather than a jury. However juries are frequently asked to consider complex cases involving fraud. Also since changes in the rights of a defendant to trial by jury could only by authorised by Parliament this proposal is more a debating point than a practical suggestion. Caffrey's case is the first ever in the UK decided by a jury under the Computer Misuse Act. But the Trojan defence has succeeded before in a British court. In April this year, Karl Schofield, 39, was cleared of possession of child porn when prosecutors accepted expert testimony that the unnamed Trojan could have been responsible for the presence of 14 child porn images on his PC. ® Related Stories Teen hacker is not guilty UK teenager accused of 'electronic sabotage' against US port UK teen in 'elite' hacking group Trojan defence clears man on child porn charges
John Leyden, 17 Oct 2003

IBM speeds up low-end server line

Infused by stellar recent performance, IBM's server group has conducted a mass upgrade of kit across both Intel-based and Power 4-based server lines. In the second quarter, IBM managed to gain share from fierce Unix rival Sun Microsystems and keep Intel competitor HP at bay. Big Blue continues to use an aggressive pricing strategy against its competitors, selling hardware at a discount in order to pick up lucrative software and services sales. IBM is one of the few companies that has the size and diverse set of businesses needed to pull this tactic off, and it knows it. Making matters worse for rivals, IBM is not resting on its laurels. This week, it launched a fairly massive upgrade of kit, adding Intel's latest Xeon processors and faster Power 4 chips into the product mix. In addition, IBM fixed some problems with its workstations and rolled out new software. Starting from the bottom up, IBM says its now shipping a 1Gb integrated Ethernet port with the IntelliStation Power 275 workstation. Some readers will recall that IBM pulled the Ethernet controller from this product for unspecified reasons, although Broadcom is a suspected culprit. Nonetheless, the 10/100/1000 Mbps controller is back with IBM halting shipments of a separate Ethernet adapter replacement part. Next in line for an upgrade is IBM's low-end p615 Unix server. The system had been shipping with a 1.2Ghz version of IBM's Power 4+ processor but will now come with a 1.45GHz processor. The two-way box can run either AIX or Linux and ships in both tower and rack configurations. Starting price for an AIX box is around $8,254. In addition, IBM has released version 1.3.2 of its Cluster Systems Management software, which includes new support for Linux clusters on the pSeries systems. Already available with the xSeries servers and AIX on IBM's pSeries gear, the cluster software now works with SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and TurboLinux Enterprise Server 8 on IBM's p615, p630, p650 and p655 servers. IBM has also added the x445 and Blade Center HS20 8832 products to the list of supported Intel hardware along with improving the installation of the cluster software on SuSE Linux. On the Intel side of the house, IBM has upgraded its x235, x335 and x345 servers. All three systems are now shipping with the 3.20GHz Xeon chip from Intel. IBM has also souped up its blade servers in a couple of ways. The BladeCenter HS20 system is now available with both the 3.20GHz and 3.06GHz Xeon processors. To address power concerns, IBM is now shipping an 1,800 watt power supply for the BladeCenter chassis. All in all, the product upgrades have IBM's low-end server line good to go for a few more months. ®
Ashlee Vance, 17 Oct 2003

Software engineers – the ultimate brain scientists?

Guest OpinionGuest Opinion Bill Softky is a scientist at the Redwood Neuroscience Institute, founded by Jeff Hawkins. He has worked as a software architect, visualization designer, and educator.
Bill Softky, 17 Oct 2003