21st > October > 2003 Archive

NEC and ARM prep mobile SMPs

NEC and ARM have formed a pact to bring multicore processors to the cellphone. The two companies are looking to codevelop and market multicore processors based on the ARM 11 CPU core. Using a multicore design will ideally allow the companies to increase the performance of their chips while keeping power consumption down. They hope this strategy will play well in the markets for cellphones, automotive consoles and home appliances. "We view this next-generation processor core as a key technology to expand the application-rich markets from car multimedia to mobile consumer," said Hirokazu Hashimoto, executive vice president at NEC Electronics Corporation. "The core will be a combination of NEC Electronics' multiprocessing technology and the ARM core architecture, which is widely deployed in various products including mobile handsets." With the deal, NEC and ARM are mimicking a trend taking place in the server world. IBM already sells the dual-core Power 4 chip and HP and Sun Microsystems are shortly coming out with dual-core designs of their own. Putting multiple processor cores on a single piece of silicon turns the chip into a kind of mini-SMP. This allows the processors to handle multiple software threads more easily and to divvy up tasks, giving phone functions, for example, to one core while offloading data crunching to another core. In addition, dual-core chips tend to cost less, use up less space and consume less power than their single-core predecessors due to improvements in the chip manufacturing process. To push this process along, NEC has licensed the ARM11 technology, the ARM966E-S core and the VFP9 vector floating point co-processor. Some early indications shows that NEC and ARM won't be fluffing around with dual-core chips. They are jumping straight into four-core country, according to a report by the EE Times. The same report says the technology could be available in a couple of years. It could be a bit of stretch, but the multicore chips would also have the potential to speed Java on various devices. Both ARM and NEC have shown interest in J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), and the code is already built to work well in SMP systems. Spreading threads across a number of cores could help developers write better code and give end users better applications. ® Related Links ARM and NEC statement EE Times report
Ashlee Vance, 21 Oct 2003

Sony Ericsson talks P900, wireless upgrades

Sony Ericsson has officially announced the follow-up to the P800 smartphone. The device will ship in some EU countries before the end of the year, and appear in the US and China (as the P908) early next year. The design of the P900 may be more business-like than its predecessor, but the company is stressing consumer functions such as video recording, games and imaging. The phone has a 65,000-color screen compared to the P800's 4096 colors, more memory and a faster CPU. Sony Ericsson boasts of 400 hours standby time. It's 2mm smaller all round. Sony Ericsson has retained the Memory Stick Duo format for expansion, which is more expensive than rival formats, and the device maxes out at 128MB, which is the size of the largest Duo card you can buy now. It's been thoroughly previewed already on specialist phone sites. But, as Mobile Burn suggests, the more surprising news is that Sony Ericsson will offer over-the-air Fash upgrades: "Consumers [can] download the latest version of the phone software directly to the phone without having to visit a service centre," according to the company. And there's a Flashy demo here. Its closest competitors are Motorola's 3G phone, the software-compatible A920 and Handspring's impressive Treo 600, which we will review on Monday. PalmSource CEO David Nagel claimed that PalmSource was in talks with Sony Ericsson to license his operating system: a highly unusual claim which Sony Ericsson dismissed. A Palm source described Nagel's comments as "regrettable". ® Related Products Buy the Sony Ericsson P9000 from The Reg mobile store
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Oct 2003

ATI denies 'Catalyst 3.8 damaged my monitor' claims

ATI has vigorously denied claims that its latest Catalyst drivers have caused monitors and graphics cards to overheat and malfunction. "Our drivers are not causing these alleged problems," the company said in a statement issued last night. The latest Catalyst driver suite, version 3.8, were released on 8 October. ATI describes them as the "most significant software update in the company's history". Included among the bundled tools is Overdrive, a "safe" overclocking utility for ATI's new Radeon 9800 XT chip. It allows "users to safely maximize the performance level of their graphics processor. Overdrive operates by dynamically over-clocking the graphics processor, while always ensuring that it stays at a safe temperature". Claims that Catalyst 3.8 has been damaging monitors and causing chips to overheat have recently surfaced on a variety of user forums. Some users allege that they have witnessed a 10C increase in temperature since upgrading to Catalyst 3.8. Said ATI in response: "We have spent a great deal of time analysing the temperatures due to the Catalyst 3.8 drivers. We do not under any circumstance see anything near a 10C increase in temperature (but we don't overclock our test cards either). We do see a slight increase in temperature in certain cases (3Dmark2003 Nature Scene, for example). However, any temperature increase is well within our safety range." As for monitor malfunction, the claim is that the new drivers read the wrong configuration information and attempt to force CRTs to operate in resolutions and refresh rates they can't support, resulting in permanent damage to the display's electronics. ATI claims it doesn't use Windows' files to determine monitor capabilities, but sources that information directly by interrogating the screen, or by checking user override files. ATI acknowledges that it is possible for users to choose inappropriate monitor settings, but that's not the fault of its drivers. Such settings can be chosen from Windows' Display control panel no matter what drivers are installed, and requires user intervention. Simply updating to Catalyst 3.8 doesn't inherently involve such a move, ATI contests. "We have spent a great deal of time trying to reproduce this problem and analysing our driver code," ATI said. "There is nothing in our driver code that has changed since Catalyst 3.7 to 3.8 that could possibly cause this behaviour. We believe that our drivers are not causing these alleged problems." The company claims that the 100-odd OEMs it has supplied Catalyst 3.8 drivers to have not reported any such problems. Users haven't called the company's tech support lines on the matter, either - despite the new drivers being downloaded (and presumably installed) "hundreds of thousands" of times. ATI's "comprehensive" QA tests didn't show any such issues. So is there a problem at all? ATI doesn't think so. "We do not currently believe these stories are valid," it says. Such is the level of willy-waving among some of the more infantile graphics card fanboys, we wouldn't be at all surprised if followers of a rival company had posted the claims in order to damage ATI. Nothing new there - in the past, ATI buffs have tried to suggest major problems with Nvidia cards. It's all part of the bizarre war these idiots believe they're fighting on behalf of their favoured firms. While such claims may send a frisson of schadenfreude up the spines of competitors, we'd like to believe none of them countenance this sort of thing. As we witnessed with this year's Nvidia 3Dmark03 story, none of them are above trying to tacitly put the boot in to rivals when they can, but posting claims that drivers damage hardware? We don't think so. But past spats between the companies themselves, typified by the issuing of tit-for-tat press releases, hasn't exactly set down an example of adult competitive behaviour. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Oct 2003

Spam fighters defeat nuisance junk mail lawsuit

Anti-spam activists have won an important legal battle against Florida-based junk mailers. But even though Florida Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks dismissed the case brought by eMarketersAmerica.org with prejudice (i.e. ruling that the lawsuit was without any foundation), anti-spam groups still have to pick up their legal fees. The defendants (including UK-based Spamhaus Project and SPEWS) hope to cover their costs through online donations, but their legal bill has tempered some of the pleasure gained from giving litigious penis pill pushers a legal "bloody nose". In a message to the NANAE newsgroup last week, Spamhaus director Steve Linford sums up his feelings: "Although delighted with the technical outcome, we're left with the costs of having had to defend the bogus lawsuit, as the Florida legal system does not grant costs to the winner even in cases where lawsuits are as fraudulent as this one clearly was." One happy outcome of the dismissal of the suit is that it establishes a precedent which should stop further frivolous legal actions. Anti-spam activists have won the right to carry on their work as normal and without further distraction. Case dismissed The case began in April, when not-for-profit organisation eMarketersAmerica.org (actually a front set up Mark E. Felstein, lawyer for notorious spammer Eddy Marin, according to Spamhaus) went to the courts with a suit seeking to prevent prominent anti-spam organisations from blocking their spam. The nuisance suit sought damages of $75,000 (plus interest and costs) against the defendants on five separate counts: blacklisting IP addresses of the plaintiffs, libel, invasion of privacy, the publication of allegedly false information and "intentional interference with a contract". But, Wellborn & Butler, lawyers for the defendants turned the tables on junk mailers with a motion seeking to force them to hand over their business records. Yikes, said the junk mailers, we can't do that and they ran away from their own lawsuit, prompting a motion for dismissal that brought an end to the case. ® External Links eMarketersAmerica.org site (mirror - original site was removed for abuse / spam violations by its ISP) Related Story Florida spammers sue anti-spam groups
John Leyden, 21 Oct 2003

E-Data goes after Microsoft music service

For the past 8 years E-Data has been terrorizing just about who ever it can with a single broad patent claim that it owns the rights to virtually any technology that allows a product to be downloaded to a kiosk and copied. After various false starts from 1995 onwards it won an appeal case against Compuserve in the US in 1999. Now it is coming after European companies that download music, video or software programs to kiosks, that need to be written onto separate media. It's latest move suggests that the online music distribution deal between Microsoft and On Demand Distribution, in conjunction with ISP Tiscali, breaches what it known as its "Freeney" patent. So far E-Data has either sued or signed distribution agreements with hundreds of companies, including Agfa, Adobe, Apogee, Intuit, McGraw Hill and Dun & Bradstreet. A recent settlement in Europe with Satellite Newspapers is encouraging it to try to establish the patent as valid in Europe. The Satellite Newspapers' system downloaded newspapers to a kiosk for on-demand printing of newspapers. However in its original settlement papers in the US, the patent was clearly limited to processes where people travel from their homes to go to a kiosk with the sole purpose of downloading and writing something onto a digital media format and taking it home. Though even that is far too broad to define a technology. The online music service that it is now suing is targeted at home users and it may well be beyond its patent claim. Microsoft is almost certain to fight the claim. The E-Data release states, "The OD2 platform enables Tiscali Music Club customers to download individual music tracks for a fee using Microsoft's Windows Media Player and Digital Rights Management technology." It goes on, "Microsoft, Tiscali, and On Demand Distribution are in blatant violation of our patents by jointly enabling consumers across Europe the ability to download music tracks. The Freeny patent covers the downloading and recording of information, such as music, from a computer onto a tangible object, such as CDs, DVDs and MP3 players. As a result, we are seeking an injunction to prevent further violation of our intellectual property." There were many services that allowed the download of software over the internet prior to the patent being awarded and we know of some dating back to 1993. The only patent that would hold would be a single specific approach to downloading, not the concept itself. The company also has pending litigation against HMV Group and a prior suit against On Demand Distribution in the UK. Companies that scour the markets for publicly available and obvious existing processes and them file patents for them are retrograde and slow down the pace of innovation. This company is just like others that establish a patent that does not rest on its own inventiveness and who have never tried to exploit the technology in any way directly by bringing products to market. It would be fitting if it were bankrupted in the European courts and if this led to its successful US appeal being re-examined. © Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the Faultline Newsletter from Rethink Research
Faultline, 21 Oct 2003

Broadband wireless growing

Not such a big surprise but home networks research outfit Parks Associates thinks that broadband wireless is set to take off. In the light of IEEE 802.16 technologies (WiMAX) and IEEE 802.20 Mobile-Fi and all the developments in smart antennae, that's not too surprising, but Parks says it's been on the cards for some time. It estimates that 1% of all US broadband connected households currently use broadband wireless access technologies already, drawing the data from a recent consumer survey of more than 3,300 US broadband households. "Broadband wireless has a very small residential market compared to DSL and cable modem services," said Yuanzhe Cai, research analyst with Parks Associates. "Of the 21-22 million U.S. broadband households, approximately 200,000 of them are using broadband wireless services. That estimate includes subscribers to services based on licensed and unlicensed broadband wireless technologies." Residential rollouts of unlicensed broadband wireless technologies are still largely limited to rural, urban edge, and other underserved markets. Nonetheless, a few independent service providers offering UBW services as part of their service portfolio to both residential and enterprise customers are seeing some success in even the overbuild markets. "Demand for unlicensed broadband wireless products has been slowly building in the past two years, but market fragmentation may preclude large contracts and make the industry dependent on the growth of the number of wireless ISPs." © Copyright Rethink Research Associates 2003 Related Research Get the Faultline Newsletter from Rethink Research Get the Wireless Watch Report and Weekly Newsletter from Rethink Research
Faultline, 21 Oct 2003

Symantec snaffles Safeweb

Symantec yesterday bought SSL VPN appliance vendor SafeWeb for $26 million in cash. The acquisition is yet another sign of consolidation in the hotly-tipped SSL VPN remote access market, following NetScreen Technologies' agreement this month to acquire SSL VPN company Neoteris for $265 million and F5 Networks's purchase of uRoam in July for $25m. Vendors are jockeying for position in a market segment which, although still small, is expected to grow strongly over the next three years. Analysts Infonetics reckons the SSL-based remote access market will exceed $600 million (slightly lower than previous estimates) by 2006. The technology scores over earlier IPSec-based VPN technology by eliminating the need to install client software on worker's machines. SSL-based VPN (clientless) technology uses the security functions built into Web browsers to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying, managing, and maintaining secure access to remote users. Symantec intends to offer SafeWeb's Secure Extranet Appliance technology as a standalone offering beginning in the first quarter of 2004. In addition, Symantec plans to integrate clientless VPN capabilities into the next version of the Symantec Gateway Security Appliance series later in 2004. ® Related Research Enterprise Security Product Markets
John Leyden, 21 Oct 2003

DRS quits .uk sales, in Nominet legal battle

Domain Registrar Services Ltd (DRS) - which flogged domains by falsely claiming it was linked to Nominet UK - is to quit the business following legal action by the UK domain Registry. Last year Nominet won a temporary injunction against DRS, and its sister company UK Names, after the companies made unsolicited attempts to flog domains to unsuspecting punters. What riled Nominet was DRS' dodgy sales tactics and the claim that it was acting with the support of Nominet. Following legal action, those behind DRS - Scott Denny and Matthew Hayes - have now agreed that "they will not at any time in the future engage directly or indirectly in any business associated with domain name registration and/or maintenance, whether under the .uk top level domain or otherwise." In addition, they have agreed not to pass themselves off as Nominet and agreed to provide Nominet with a list of all those approached by either company. DRS also has to stump up £40,000 to cover Nominet's costs in pursuing the case Said Nominet MD Lesley Cowley: "We are delighted with this result, as people will no longer be confused by cold calls supposedly from Nominet. "The terms of this agreement are very stringent, demonstrating that we will not allow anyone to abuse Nominet's name or position as the .uk domain name Registry." ® Related Stories Nominet wins injunction against DRS Nominet UK takes legal action against DRS Nominet warns of dodgy domain sales tactics
Tim Richardson, 21 Oct 2003

Senators propose Patriot Act limitations

A bipartisan group of senators this week announced the latest in a steady trickle of legislative proposals to trim back some of the enhanced search and surveillance powers granted to law enforcement under the USA-PATRIOT Act. Under the proposed ?Security and Freedom Ensured Act (SAFE), the FBI would no longer be able to obtain "sneak and peek" warrants allowing them to secretly enter a person's home or office, except in cases when an overt search would endanger someone's physical safety, result in a flight from prosecution, or permit the destruction of evidence. Under current law, as modified by USA-PATRIOT, agents can keep a search secret, with a judge's approval, any time disclosure would seriously jeopardize an investigation or unduly delay a trial. As of April 1st, 2003, the Justice Department had applied for, and received, 47 such warrants. SAFE would also cap the length of time a search could be kept secret at seven days, though a judge could repeatedly extend the blackout period in weeklong chunks. The bill also introduces a disclosure requirement that would compel the U.S. Attorney General to report to Congress every six months on the number of sneak and peek warrants the Justice Department and FBI sought and obtained. The proposed legislation would also put limitations on the FBI's use of so-called "roving wiretap" orders, which permit agents to eavesdrop on any telephone or computer used by a suspect. The act would force the FBI to specify a particular person to be surveilled, and to ascertain that the target is at a particular location before beginning their surveillance. Finally, the SAFE Act would put limits on the FBI's ability to obtain secret national security orders that give them access to a person's utility records, credit card purchases, medical records, and any other documents. SAFE would limit such orders to records of suspected terrorists or spies, while under current law anyone's records are fair game in a terrorism or espionage investigation. The Act would also put some limitations on the FBI's access to a target's library records. The bill was authored by Senators Larry Craig (R-Id.) and Dick Durbin (D- IL), and is cosponsored by Russell Feingold (D-WI), John Sununu (R-NH), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). "This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation's fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight," Craig said in a statement announcing the bill this week. In October, 2001, the Senate voted to pass the USA-PATRIOT Act by a margin of 98-1, with Feingold the lone dissenter. It also passed by a wide margin in the House. But since then growing concerns about the potential for abuse of the added surveillance powers have put the Justice Department on the defensive, and the SAFE Act joins several other legislative proposals to roll back, or provide more oversight for, the added surveillance powers. "The public concern with government over-reaching transcends political affiliation, so it is no surprise to see this level of bipartisan support for the SAFE Act," said attorney Lara Flint with the Center for Democracy and Technology, in a statement supporting the bill. The Justice Department says concerns about USA-PATRIOT are based on misconceptions, and that the law has helped the government detect, disrupt, and prevent potential terrorist plots. Copyright © SecurityFocus
Kevin Poulsen, 21 Oct 2003

Brightview to move call centre to India

Around 30 jobs are expected to be lost at Brightview - the ISP behind such Net brands as Madasafish and Totalise - following its decision to move its call centre to India. The Putney-based call centre is due to be shut by the middle of next month. Staff at the centre are currently going through the usual "consultation" process. One insider told us that all the new staff in India are to adopt "English sounding" pseudonyms to fool customers that the call centre is really in the UK, although this was strongly denied by Brightview boss David Laurie. Instead, Brightview reckons the move to India will "improve the efficiency and consistency of support provided to [its] customers". Separately, Brightview is expected to relaunch another ISP brand - Freenetname - within the next couple of weeks. The ISP will offer dial-up and broadband services and will also give punters their own free domain, giving them the chance to own their "own their identity online". ® Related Story Brightview acquires XO UK ISPs
Tim Richardson, 21 Oct 2003

Smart card consortium offers Wi-Fi access spec.

Using your mobile phone account to pay for your use of public Wi-Fi hotspots should become rather easier thanks to the publication of a 'universal' smart card specification that can be used by WLAN providers to authorise WLAN access. Developed by the WLAN Smart Card Consortium, the WLAN-SIM 1.0 specification also details how smart card technology can be used to allow users to roam seamlessly from hotspot to hotspot. Essentially, the smart card is the wireless networking equivalent of a phone SIM card. It identifies the user, allowing the hotspot owner's back-end system to provide access to the network and trust that they will receive payment from the wireless ISP (WISP) the user has subscribed to. According to the Consortium, the specification builds on existing standards, including 802.1x and EAP for authentication and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) for data encryption. Most - if not all - public hotspots don't use encryption keys because of the complexity of setting them up on the user's computer. New keys are needed for each hotspot the user will connect to. The Consortium hopes its specification will permit the easy application of keys to allow hotspot providers to guarantee data security without the hassle of forcing non-technical users to configure their software manually. Dan Cunningham, Chairman of the Consortium's Business Committee, the specification provides a "go to market" opportunity for carriers, and hotspot aggregators and owners to "commercialise WLAN such as Wi-Fi hotspots with smart card security and roaming capabilities". The WLAN-SIM specification covers the smart card technology used as the basis for the system and how the card can talk to the hotspot provider's back-end security, access and billing systems. Now, the Consortium will work on a standard methodology for connecting and using the smart card with the user's hardware, including notebooks and cellphones, which act as a medium for the authentication process. The organisation is also developing the specification to meet the needs of enterprises looking to deploy smart cards as the basis for authentication on their own, private networks. Potentially, that will allow staff to connect as easily to the company LAN via a public network as they can through a direct link, at the same time as allowing the public access to be billed according to the company's contract with its wireless ISP. The Consortium is also working on a specification to allow mobile phone networks to integrate such technology with their own mobile SIMs. Among the 23 members of the WLAN Smart Card Consortium is Visa, which opens the possibility that it might integrate the specification into its own smart card technology, allowing users to log on to a hotspot and have payment billed directly and automatically to their credit card. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Oct 2003

E-Plus to bring Danger Hiptop to Europe

Germany's E-Plus has become the first wireless operator to offer Danger's Hiptop mobile Internet access device to European consumers. Hiptop will be offered to German punters next month for €249 ($290) plus €19.95 ($23) for network access. Hiptop is essentially a wireless PDA with an integrated mobile phone. Think of a funkier, web and voice-enabled Blackberry, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it's about. Like the RIM product, Hiptop ties into the mobile network provider's back-end systems, allowing the carrier to offer the device as a complete consumer-oriented mobile communications platform. The clamshell device opens to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and 16-bit colour display. It provides not only PIM functionality but web browsing, email access and instant messaging using a version of AOL Instant Messenger. The system supports downloadable apps, games, ringtones and even software updates, plus texting and multimedia messaging - all the services, in other words, carriers are keen to use today to beef up their average income per user figures. However, E-Plus has eschewed the usual GPRS per megabyte tariffs in favour of an unlimited monthly fee. Danger already has North American partnerships with T-Mobile and SunCom in the US, and Microcell in Canada, but the E-Plus deal marks its first European venture. Danger - which counts Apple founder Steve Wozniak among its board members - also offers its core hardware for licensing, but as yet has announced no such partners. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Oct 2003

Bank manager blows customer millions on online betting

An Australian bank manager who stole AUD19 million ($13 million) to fund his online gambling addiction faces sentencing on Friday after pleading guilty to crimes spanning five years. Incredibly the misappropriation of funds from the Commonwealth Bank by Kim David Faithfull, 36, of Karratha in Western Australia, only came to light after he came forward to admit his wrongdoing. The confession brought an end to a five-year losing streak funded by money stolen from term deposit accounts and foreign currency notes held by the bank. Faithfull used the bank's computers to transfer this purloined money into an online betting account with Darwin-based International All SportsBet (IASBet). Up to $400,000 a week would be transferred to this account, making Faithfull easily IASBet's biggest punter. Despite massive bets - averaging AUD20,000 - often placed on long shots, none of Faithfull's bets were refused. "Faithfull's bets were so erratic they were a joke - if they weren't so big. That made them scary," a former IASBet employee said. "He bet on up to 20 races on a Saturday. He'd put a lot of money on no-hopers at long odds. Sometimes two in the same race." The Age quotes staff who said it was "common knowledge" among IASBet staff that Faithfull was a bank manager. Despite the size and regularity of the thefts, regular audits by the Commonwealth Bank failed to unearth anything suspicious. By early this year, Faithfull had lost AUD8 million. Over the next six months he tried to dig himself out through a series of increasingly desperate bets that saw him squander another AUD11 million. Faithfull lived modestly with his partner and five-year-old son in a bank-owned house in Karratha, where he was a popular member of the local community. His massive losing streak might have carried on indefinitely, had Faithfull not called a halt to his own slide into the abyss. He placed his final bet on Saturday, 2 August. The next day, he left a note at his bank confessing to his crimes. He was summoned to Perth and questioned by bank investigators. They turned the case over to the police. After these investigations, Faithfull was charged with theft as a servant, in what is (unsurprisingly) the biggest case of its kind in Australia. He pleaded guilty at a hearing before Perth Magistrates in August and faces sentencing from crimes that carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison on Friday (24 October). Meanwhile, police are helping investigators to trace the money Faithfull stole in advance of any legal action for its recovery. Follow the money The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Faithfull isn't the only punter suspected of betting large quantities of stolen money with online bookmakers. Dennis Craig Telford, 39, a company secretary and chief financial officer, has pleaded not guilty to 59 charges of stealing AUD22 million from South Australian firm K&S Corporation to gamble with Darwin-based Sportingbet Australia and other online bookies. In a civil action by K&S, Supreme Court judge Justice Anthony Besanko ruled found that Telford "unlawfully transferred" AUD11.5 million between August 2001 and April 2002. Justice Besanko found that Sportingbet had "wilfully and recklessly failed to make inquiries an honest and reasonable man would have made" and ruled that K&S was entitled to $2.78 million held by the bookmaker, which is appealing the decision. The case raises serious questions about failures in corporate auditing and the regulation of online bookmaking in Australia. Regulators are still to respond to these concerns despite probing from the SMH. Questions about whether bookies query suspicious activity will only increase when Faithfull in sentenced later this week. ®
John Leyden, 21 Oct 2003

Tele2 unveils UK phone service

Sweded-based Tele2, a pan-European telco that did have links with one-time wireless broadband outfit Tele2 UK Ltd, is to offer fixed-line residential services in the UK. Tele2 has more than 20 million customers in 23 countries across Europe with revenues in excess of $4 billion. Now it's turning its attention to the UK market and reckons its phone calls are up to 80 per cent cheaper than those offered by BT. Like many other operators in this increasingly crowded area, Tele2's service is based on Carrier Pre Selection (CPS), which enables punters to switch their phone services from BT without having to tap in extra digits, PIN numbers or install additional hardware. In a statement, Tele2 chief exec, Lars-Johan Jarnheimer, said: "We have had huge success in rolling out the Tele2 service to 23 countries over the last ten years and we are now bringing our low cost model to the UK. "The introduction of carrier pre-selection means that alternative telecoms provision is now a viable proposition in the UK and we are taking this opportunity to launch in one of the most significant markets in Europe," he said. Yesterday, telecoms regulator Oftel reported that two million people have deserted BT thanks to CPS and opted for an alternative telco to provide their phone services. It claims that that signing up to the likes of Carphone Warehouse, One.Tel, Tiscali - and now Tele2 - could enable punters to "get a better deal on their phone bill". ® Related Story BT loses 2m punters
Tim Richardson, 21 Oct 2003

HP knocked Palm off top Euro PDA sales slot during Q3

HP outshipped Palm in Western Europe for the first time during Q3 as a 32 per cent increase in mobile device shipments saw the Pocket PC vendor's PDA shipments leap 94 per cent year on year, market watcher IDC said today. HP shipped almost 179,000 mobile devices between July and September, 14 per cent of the market, which includes PDAs, smartphones and phone-enabled handhelds such as O2's XDA. Palm shipped almost 166,000, taking 13 per cent of the market. During Q3 2002, the two companies' market shares were nine per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Fellow market researcher Canalys offered slightly different figures to IDC, but it too said HP had outshipped Palm. The news isn't entirely bad for Palm. It shipped eight per cent more PDAs during Q3 than the year-ago quarter. But HP almost doubled the number of units shipped. IDC suggested the boost experienced by HP was the result of Windows Mobile 2003 devices coming on stream. Palm may see a similar hike this quarter, thanks to the release of its new Tungsten T3 and E devices. Neither came close to market leader Nokia. It too saw shipments rise year on year, by seven per cent, but like Palm it lost market share: down to 44 per cent from 54 per cent in Q2. The remaining top five vendors - Sony Ericsson at number four and Medion, which ranked fifth - both came from nowhere in the intervening 12 months to take nine per cent and four per cent of the market, respectively. All other suppliers together accounted for 17 per cent of the market, down from 22 per cent this time last year, despite a five per cent increase in shipments. While Sony Ericsson is well known outside Europe, Medion is a local German retailer that has built a phenomenal market share on the back of a Pocket PC/GPS bundle. Sony Ericsson and Nokia togerther took more than half of the market, clearly showing that smartphones rather than PDAs are becoming the mobile data devices of choice among the 1.3 million or so mobile devices shipped during Q3. ® Related Reviews Palm Tungsten T3 Palm Tungsten E Buy PDAs, smartphones and accessories from The Reg mobile store
Tony Smith, 21 Oct 2003

Logitech upgrades credit-card cam

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Digicam Logitech has updated its credit card-sized digital camera, the Pocket Digital, by upping the camera's native picture resolution from 640 x 480 to 1280x1024 and dropping the original's Autobrite light enhancement software in favour of a built-in strobe flash. The result is a new model, the Pocket Digital 130 that retains the credit card length and width dimensions but is slightly thicker than the original. Alas, Logitech hasn't seen fit to increase the camera's on-board memory or add an SD card slot to boost the camera's storage capacity further. The Pocket Digital ships with 16MB of RAM. That, says Logitech is enough for over 130 pictures taken at 640 x 480 or more than 40 at the camera's native 1.3 megapixel resolution. The previous version, with the same amount of memory, could hold just 52 640 x 480 images or the same number of larger pictures, interpolated up from that native resolution. Like the earlier model, the 130's lens is revealed by sliding two halves of the camera body apart. The camera's built-in Lithium Ion battery is recharged through the USB cable used to transfer pics to a host PC. Logitech ships drivers for Windows 98 and up, and Mac OS X. The Pocket Digital 130 is available now, retailing for around $150 in the US, and £99.99 in the UK. DVD Media Verbatim has followed up the release of its Digital Vinyl CD-R discs printed to look like 45rpm singles with recordable DVDs sporting a film reel look and feel. Yes, it's a bit daft, but undeniably cute, too. Verbatim is shipping the Digital Movie DVDs in packs of three. Both DVD-R and DVD+R versions are available, the company said. Either format is designed for 1x to 4x recording speeds and hold up to 4.7GB of movie data. Each disc comes in a large-format clear plastic jewel case so burned discs can sit one the shelf alongside all your other DVDs and VHS cassettes. Backed by a lifetime warranty, Digital Movie DVD-R and DVD+R media are expected to cost around $11.99 per three-pack and will be available in November. ®
Tony Smith, 21 Oct 2003

Victoria's Secret to pay up for poor panty privacy

New York Attorney General Eliot Sptizer has sorted through Victoria Secret's dirty undies and is set to doll out a $50,000 fine to the company for online privacy violations. Spitzer has spent several months looking into charges that Victoria's Secret Web site allowed shoppers to take a peek at other customers' orders. An apparent flaw in the lingerie giant's ordering system made it possible to tweak customer ID numbers and see what kind of knickers people were buying - a clear violation of Victoria's Secret online privacy policy. The New York AG and Victoria's Secret reached a settlement on Monday, according to the New York Times. Jason Sudowski of Niantic, Connecticut was looking for a nice matching bra and undies set for his loved one when he discovered the panty raid flaw. He reported the incident to a customer service representative that dutifully told him to shove off. "I talked to somebody who said, 'Well, there's no credit card numbers being displayed, so what's the big deal?'" he told the New York Times. "I said, 'I don't think Tammy so-and-so from Ridgefield, Connecticut, would want me to know that she ordered this or that.'" Sudowski then told a reporter about the problem, and one story later, Victoria's Secret fixed the Web site. Spitzer hit Victoria's Secret with the usual charges of bad business practices, false advertising and the like. Victoria's Secret refused to admit any wrongdoing but will pay the $50,000 fine. The AG determined that three people had their undies exposed to the public, and they will be informed of this. They will also receive a full refund as compensation for having their g-strings paraded about the Internet, according to the Times. Another 559 customers who could have their sundries up for public consumption will be notified. Twenty-six New York residents - Spitzer's home state - will be awarded gift certificates. Spitzer has long called for more transparency from corporate America, and we think he'll have a hard time topping this panty crawl. ® Related Link NY Times on undie patrol Related Stories Spitzer the Blitzer unseals more Bubble Era memos
Ashlee Vance, 21 Oct 2003

PC rage turns the air blue in UK households

Computers are damaging our health, thanks to rising stress levels induced by so-called 'PC pests' like spam, pop up ads and viruses. More than four in five (86 per cent) of British computer users get irritated and stressed by PC problems, according to a survey commissioned by security firm Symantec. Only 14 per cent of those quizzed had the Zen-like calm to say problems with their PCs never irritate them. The survey of 500 UK adults, conducted by Ipsos Research, came up with five irritants most likely to make a user’s blood boil. In order of annoyance these were: slow performance and system crashes (cited as worst irritant by 23 per cent of those quizzed); "spam, scams and too much email" (20 per cent); pop up advertisements (15 per cent); viruses (14 per cent) and files getting lost or deleted (four per cent). And just as different PC pests annoy people in different ways, so our reactions vary from mild annoyance to extreme anger. According to the survey, 39 per cent of us are likely to have an extreme reaction to computer-induced stress, including "swearing, shouting and even violence". Pressing random keys out of sheer frustration "in an attempt to make something happen" is also a popular response to problems. And while 40 per cent of us will go for the pragmatic approach - looking to resolve a problem ourselves or seeking help from others - almost one in five of us will eventually give up on their machines when problems arise. A quarter of respondents admitted that computers failed to make their lives easier and said they are "not worth the hassle". Furthermore, a third of the respondents are suffering from "PC paranoia", admitting that they sometimes feel as though their computers are “getting the better of them". Blimey. Mike Fisher, training director at The British Association of Anger Management, commented: "As Symantec's research reveals, stress brought on by PC pests can all too easily turn to anger, which is not only unpleasant, but will impact on those around us and inhibit our productivity. "If you are suffering from stress, the best thing to do is breathe deeply, remind yourself to keep your cool and take a break from your computer for a few minutes," he advises. Symantec has come up with a number of top tips for dealing with PC pests, before stress levels get out of control: Look after your hard drive - check the integrity of your hard drive to avoid irregularities in the way your PC stores files and defrag to ensure that files are not saved in fragments. Clean up after yourself - remove unnecessary web clutter such as Internet history files, cookies and cache. Back it up - back up your hard drive on a regular basis so that you are prepared if the worst does happen. Avoid viruses - Don't double click on attachments unless you know what they are and who they're from (D'oh). Use software to your advantage - utility software can check your hard drive's integrity, defrag it and remove clutter. Take advantage of spam filters and antivirus software, as well as firewalls to keep your personal information private and avoid the prying eyes of hackers. ®
John Leyden, 21 Oct 2003

IBM sends speedy Shark system into open waters

IBM's Shark storage systems is swimming a little faster these days after the vendor made a couple of tweaks to the hardware. One big boost for the Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) - aka Shark - is the addition of Fibre Channel support for IBM's Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (PPRC) software. The software is primarily used for disaster recovery, data migration and remote backup functions. Users can now run the services over Fibre Channel instead of the current ESCON (Enterprise Systems Connection) channels. Using a Fibre Channel connection reduces the total number of channels needed for data transfer and should cut down on customer costs. In addition, IBM is reporting much higher data transfer speeds - between 8x and 16x - by using Fibre Channel instead of its own ESCON technology. The second speed up to the Shark comes from the new Turbo II processor that IBM is offering as an option. The processor can speed transactions by up to 30 percent over a base ESS Model 800, IBM said. As proof that it's opening up to competitors, IBM has also tweaked the ESS API. IBM has added its Copy Services management to the list of technology that can be accessed with SMI-S (storage management initiative specification) compatible software. This should allow other vendors to trigger the Copy Services with their software packages. These additions to the Shark products do not go into effect until Nov. 21. ® Related Stories IBM's Storage Tank arrives missing half its ammunition IBM and EMC swallow each others' API pride
Ashlee Vance, 21 Oct 2003

Sendo's Symbian phone imminent

British phone vendor Sendo has announced its Symbian smartphone, based on Nokia's Series 60 software, and says it will ship before the end of the year. The company was, for a while, Microsoft's flagship phone OEM, until an acrimonious falling out drove Sendo into the Nokia camp. Sendo is suing Microsoft, alleging fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, and unfair competition, amongst other things. Sendo is differentiating itself from other Series 60 licensees such as Siemens and of course Nokia itself, primarily by pumping up the specifications. The Sendo X will have a whopping 32MB of user memory, a 65,000 colour screen, SD card support and all in a package 10g lighter than Nokia's 3650. Unusually for a cameraphone, this one has a flash. The device also uses sturdier materials such as aluminium. Sendo promises that a package of accessories including a keyboard will be available separately. The Series 60 platform already works pretty well as a "portable Office" viewer, but a keyboard would turn the phone into a tolerable content creation tool, too. Sendo has more details here and pictures here. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Oct 2003