18th > February > 2004 Archive

Film makers join revulsion at Pepsi RIAA doublespeak

Award-winning film maker and Apple user Brian Flemming has become the second artist to release his critique of the now notorious SuperBowl commercial, which promoted Apple's iTunes store. Documentary film maker James Saldana posted his annoted version here. Now director Flemming, who created the intriguing spoof documentary Nothing So Strange about reaction to the fictional assassination of Bill Gates [our report - official website] has juxtaposed the idealism of Apple's 1984 Superbowl commercial with its Pepsi-sponsored, RIAA-blessed counterpart. "I'm still a huge Apple fan, as I have been for years," explains Brian on his weblog. "Apple's products have had a huge, and positive, influence on my life. That's why I'm so let down by Apple's involvement in this propaganda. Pepsi sells slow poison to children - it's hardly surprising that they'd stoop to this. From Apple I expected better." In Orwell's 1984, Flemming reminds us, "Television is a key device used by The Party to lie to citizens and keep them afraid and obedient… Facts that The Party finds contrary to its purpose are dropped down the Memory Hole, and new facts are manufactured to replace them." Fast forward 20 years, and a few facts have dropped down: "Despite Apple/Pepsi's wording, no target of the RIAA suits was charged with a crime ... However, many parents and kids watching this commercial are likely unaware of the fact. Fear is a primary means used by The Party to maintain control over expression in 1984." "Fear is also a potent weapon used by the RIAA to exert control over the behaviour of music fans," adds Flemming, noting the fraudulent use of paramilitary tactics< to bust a 4 foot 11 inch high Mexican parking lot attendant in Los Angeles before Christmas. (Although it doesn't seem to be working.) The video concludes with this image, which invites us to ponder the question of whether the billionaire founder has become everything he once loathed: As you can see from the reaction, Flemming received a few of the same identikit AstroTurf responses that we received about the subject (although with a little more vernacular: how the f&%$ did Apple get lumpped in with them??? The FACTS are that if you want to do business in the music industry then you MUST deal with the RIAA no matter who you are Apple or Napster or Walmart etc.... Who do you think is holding up the use of ITMS in Canada, Europe, Austrailia etc?????? hmmmmm could it be the record lables, and maybe the RIAA???? hmmmmmm i wonder..... DUMB ASSES!!!! all of em..... - writes one die-hard Apple dingbat. Clearly Apple has a short-term interest in promoting DRM, but in the long-term, it is wise not to bet the farm on the RIAA's tactics succeeding. And it surely hasn't. As Jim Griffin pointed out last week here, Apple's iTunes music store will have a rosy future: as a portal onto flat free services. The iTunes store exists only to sell iPods. With 'piracy' decriminalized, demand for iPods would go through the roof. But it will be a brave or foolhardy Apple shareholder who wants to argue against a model that could revive the arts and our civic spaces - and technology investment - for the cost of a $99 cent download per week. Why would anyone argue against that? That would be plain irrational. But such people exist. Irrationality abounds in this parallel universe, as the satirical reaction to an earlier, brief shower of falling AstroTruf illustrated in 2002 - "Apple users demand higher prices, worse treatment". With over half the votes counted in our poll, 14 per cent of Register readers would happily allow their children to eat worms on television for Apple Computer for no fee. As the POTUS himself might ask: "What values are our kids supposed to be learning, here?" We'll tot up the final scores and present them to you in an exciting multimedia format very soon. Is there a statistician who can help us with this important research? ® Post-iTunes Compensation Models Free legal downloads for $6 a month. DRM free. The artists get paid. We explain how... Why wireless will end 'piracy' and doom DRM and TCPA - Jim Griffin Blur/Banff Proposals 2002 [PDF, 473kb]/a> Related Link 'We Will Bury Them In Their Own Confusion' - Flemming's Critique of Apple-Pepsi ad Related Stories iPod owner's open letter to Apple Apple family values - Pepsi TV row rumbles on Apple users' disgust at RIAA's Pepsi child ad Double Jeopardy for kids caught in Pepsi Apple promo
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Feb 2004
Broken CD with wrench

Slinging disks, NetApp booms in Q3

Network Appliance posted fairly remarkable results in its third quarter, increasing sales well beyond marks set by other hardware vendors. NetApp pulled in $297 million in the period - a 30 per cent increase over the $229 million posted in the same quarter a year ago. The data storage equipment vendor also reported net income of $40.2 million versus $19.7 million in last year's Q3. Most hardware vendors are hovering just above break even, which makes NetApp's 30 per cent growth rate stand out in a big way. "I am extremely pleased with our performance this quarter," said a delighted Dan Warmenhoven, CEO at NetApp. "Our results this quarter mark the return to our target business model, and we remain confident about the market opportunity ahead of us." The big gains for NetApp came from good old-fashioned hardware. Product revenue increased to $269 million from $205 million last year. Services revenue improved to $28 million from $23 million. Investors in the after-hours markets appeared pleased with the results, sending NetApp shares higher by nine per cent to $22.27, at the time of this report. ®
Ashlee Vance, 18 Feb 2004

The pop-up ad is dead (nearly)

Europe in briefEurope in brief Video killed the radio star, but the Internet is killing the ads. Amsterdam-based WebAds Interactive Advertising will no longer sell pop-up ads for its European clients, citing a NFO Trendbox survey which shows that 91 per cent of (Dutch) Net users dislike these intrusive ads. For many years, pop-up ads have generated a steady source of income for online publishers, but not any longer. Toolbars that block pop-up ads have become increasingly popular, and the next version of the Internet Explorer browser, planned for June, will include a built-in blocker. Webads says it is not going to abandon that other much-loathed online ad: the screen-ad, which covers most of the content unless it is closed manually or automatically. Germany: no exodus for Siemens employees Employees of Siemens this week woke up to the news that the German company is planning to move most of its 15,000 software programming jobs from the US and Western Europe to India, China and Eastern Europe. Anil Laud, managing director of Siemens Information Systems, the group's information technology subsidiary in India, told AP that "Siemens recognised that a huge amount of software development activity needs to be moved from high-cost countries to low-cost countries." Siemens Germany yesterday downplayed the story, saying it had no immediate plans to relocate jobs. Netherlands: free bike with your phone No, it is not a joke. Mobile phone operator Orange is to give 'free' bicycles to buyers of its (two year) Orange Free plan, the company announced yesterday. The (Beach Cruiser) bike can be used to charge the phone. It also includes a Bluetooth headset so that cyclists can talk hands-free. What next: a free car? Germany: companies ban camera phones Major corporations in Germany have prohibited the use of camera phones in their buildings, fearing the devices could be used to commit corporate espionage. Both BMW and Volkswagen ask visitors to leave their multimedia phones at the gate, German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung reported yesterday. Even the phone manufacturers have a strict policy towards the use of camera phones on their premises. Nokia and Motorola check bags of visitors for camera phones. The Motorola plant in Flensburg in particular is concerned that peeping toms will capture the newest UMTS equipment manufactured there. ®
Jan Libbenga, 18 Feb 2004

Stafffs opens nursery for mobile computing firms

Staffordshire University’s Faculty of Computing Engineering and Technology has opened a lab at which businesses, large and small, can test the next generation of mobile technology. Using funding from Advantage West Midlands the university has kitted out a lab with PCs, application servers, simulated mobile location data, access to GPRS and SMS data transfer and a WAP gateway provided by O2. Staffordshire University was the first place in the UK to offer degree courses in mobile computing, and now offers and MSc in the subject. Khawar Hameed, principal lecturer at the Uni, said he is particularly keen that local businesses and entrepreneurs take advantage of the facility. The university charges a "nominal" fee for use of the lab, hoping to attract smaller businesses that might not otherwise be able to test and develop ideas. The facility has been set up under the Try 3G initiative, a scheme designed to develop expertise in mobile and wireless computing in the West Midlands. Other services include professional support, product concept evaluation, training, product appraisals, and professional updating in mobile computing. More info here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Email fraud soars

Attempted email fraud and phishing attacks went up 50 per cent in January compared to the month before. There were an average of 5.7 new and unique phishing attacks each day in January, according to research by the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Phishing emails appear to come from well-known businesses but they ask for account details and passwords. The collected details are used for credit card frauds and identity theft. There were 176 unique attacks in January, of which only 13.6 per cent were 'repeats'. eBay was the most targeted company with 51 different emails purporting to come from the online auction house. Citibank and AOL were next with 35 and 34 attacks each. Financial services account for 40 per cent of attacks; 34 per cent appear to come from retailers; and 24 per cent from ISPs. Most phishing attacks direct consumers to a website to input their details. Almost ten per cent of attacks use a so-called 'cousin' URL – these include aol-wallet.com and ebay-secure.com which appear to be official sites but are actually registered by scammers. In December a security flaw in Microsoft IE was identified which could be exploited to display a false URL in the browser's address bar – this was used in 7.8 per cent of attacks in January. A smaller percentage of attacks use Trojans which run key logging software to get hold of passwords. ® For more information, or to report attempted attacks see: www.antiphishing.org Related Stories Clueless office workers help spread computer viruses MS plugs IE phishing bug
John Oates, 18 Feb 2004

AMD's ‘colourful’ chairman to step down

It's official: AMD CEO and President Hector Ruiz will replace company founder Jerry Sanders as Chairman on 29 April. Ruiz was today appointed as Chairman-elect, the company said. The colourful Sanders - how well we recall his bright white suit, with orange socks and tie, burned into our brain after sharing an elevator ride with the gentleman at AMD's Athlon 64 launch - will stay on as Chairman Emeritus. We can well imagine the avuncular fellow shouting out advice to the 'young folks' left in charge of the chip maker he created in 1969. At the very least, we hope he'll still be on call for the occasional choice comment on his arch-rival, Intel. Ruiz joined AMD in January 2000, from Motorola. Initially serving as President and COO, he was promoted to CEO in April 2002, replacing Sanders, who had held the post for the previous 33 years. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004

Europe to revoke Rambus memory patent

Rambus' legal action against memory maker Micron appears to have had the rug pulled from under its feet this week when the European Patent Office said it will revoke one of the company's patents. According to the EPO, the ruling relates to an Access Time Register patent, number EP 0525 068, granted in 2000 to Rambus in the UK, Germany, France and Italy. Rambus submitted the patent application in 1991. In 2000, Micron, along with Infineon and Hynix asked the EPO to review Rambus' patent. In November 2002, the EPO decided to allow the patent to stand, provided Rambus made some modifications. A number of appeals against that decision were lodged between December 2002 and February 2003. Yesterday, following a series of public hearings this week, the EPO's Technical Board of Appeal yesterday announced its decision to cancel the patent. In four to ten weeks' time, the EPO will issue a written ruling clarifying its decision. Rambus said it will respond to the EPO's move when it has seen that clarification. It also points out that the ruling has no effect on comparable patents granted in the US. However, that didn't stop the company's stock from tumbling 17 per cent on the news, closing at $24.35, down $5.26. Today, the stock opened at $25.11, but by the time of writing had dropped back to $24.50. Micron's stock closed at $15.84, down from a daily high of $16.30. Rambus will soon hear if the US Federal Trade Commission has succeed in its action against the company. The FTC claims that Rambus covertly modified memory patents to incorporate technology that it knew industry body JEDEC was going to build into the SDRAM standard. Rambus denies the charge. Micron, meanwhile, is pleased with the outcome. "This decision should result in the termination of a number of cases filed by Rambus against Micron in Europe," a spokesman told Reuters. "There are additional oppositions against related Rambus patents currently pending in the EPO, and we expect the EPO to apply the same reasoning with respect to those patents," he added. ®
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004

Judge throws out FTC case against Rambus

Rambus has won its appeal against an anti-trust ruling by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Judge Stephen J. McGuire, the FTC's chief administrative law judge presiding over the case, yesterday dismissed the FTC ruling against the memory chip designer in its entirety. Rambus says it expects the publication of a 330-page initial decision explaining the ruling on Monday, February 23, 2004. The company is not entirely out of the FTC woods yet: Judge McGuire's ruling is subject to potential further review by the full commission and review by a US court of appeals. The company also has to contend with last week's overturning of a key patent in Europe, and a forthcoming legal tussle with Micron. Now for a quote from John Danforth, general counsel for Rambus: "Today's ruling dismissing the FTC case is a fundamentally important step for Rambus as we seek to be fairly compensated for the use of our intellectual property. The ruling adds to the powerful reasoning favoring Rambus that the Federal Circuit issued in January 2003. It is now time, we believe, for these issues to be set aside, and for Rambus patent claims to be resolved on their merits." A trip down Memory Lane The FTC filed suit against Rambus in June 2002, accusing the firm of deception of JEDEC, the DRAM standards-setting organisation. It ruled that Rambus had covertly modified memory patents to incorporate technology which it knew JEDEC was to build into the SDRAM. In a no holds-barred statement, the FTC accused the company of "violating federal antitrust laws by deliberately engaging in a pattern of anticompetitive acts and practices that served to deceive an industry-wide standard-setting organization, resulting in adverse effects on competition and consumers". Rambus claimed it held key patents in DDR SDRAM, a competing fast memory standard to its own undisputed design, RDRAM. It demanded royalties from memory makers, some of which coughed up, and some, most notably Infineon and Micron, fought back through the courts. Rambus suffered a stunning reverse in its case against Infineon in 2001 when it was found guilty of committing fraud in seeking royalties from Infineon for patents relating to DDR SDRAM. In January 2003, a Federal appeal court overturned this verdict, ruling that the trials court was mistaken in its verdict that Rambus did not have a valid patent infringement claims against Infineon. Most crucially, the appeals court ruled "substantial evidence does not support the implicit jury finding that Rambus breached the relevant disclosure duty during its participation in the (JEDEC) standards committee." ® Related stories Europe to revoke Rambus memory patent Guilty! Rambus committed fraud Infineon damages slashed Rambus damns fraud trial as a 'miscarriage of justice' FTC declares war on Rambus Rambus stuns world+dog with Infineon court victory Rambus stuns world+dog with Infineon court victory
Drew Cullen, 18 Feb 2004

VoIP will be US broadband killer app

Voice over IP is the killer app for broadband, according to a report just released from home networks research house, Parks Associates. The white paper, entitled "VoIP: At Last a Killer App?", says that if regulations stay the same, then consumers switching to a broadband line and VoIP - and throwing away their dial-up and conventional phone - will actually be saving money each month. The savings are small: $8 a month per US family, based on current charges. The report notes, however, that the wrong type of intervention by the FCC could kill of this tiny advantage and crush the nascent industry. It also points out that a family that uses the VoIP phone as an extra phone would be paying $30 a month more, so it needs to be a leap to VoIP-only households to save money. Parks says that this could finally kill off resistance to going broadband in US households. "Among narrowband households not interested in broadband, almost 60 per cent cite price as the main deterrent," said Parks analyst John Barrett. "VoIP changes that equation by offering an overall net savings if you upgrade to broadband." "Eight dollars is not a tremendous margin," Barrett adds. "If regulatory changes cause the cost of VoIP to increase by just a few dollars per month, the incentive to switch disappears. Most people will not go to the trouble." These calculations have been done using VoIP offerings from US telcos. If you did the calculations with the free VoIP services from rogue P2P companies such as Skype, the incentive is even greater, because calls are free. © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here
Faultline, 18 Feb 2004

Irish e-voting furore hots up

Mary Harney, Ireland's deputy prime minister, weighed into the fierce debate in Ireland surrounding e-voting yesterday, expressing some sympathy with opposition complaints about the proposed system. The Irish government plans to roll out e-voting nationwide for June's local and European elections. Joint UK and Dutch partnership Powervote has been charged with providing a secure electronic voting system. Some of those opposed to the e-voting plan have voiced concerns about the closed-source nature of the chosen software system and about the lack of a physical paper trail in the proposed system. Tanaiste Mary Harney made her comments following the tabling of a joint motion in the Dail, which is due for imminent debate. It calls on the government to immediately defer plans for the use of electronic voting in the European and local elections this summer. The motion calls also for a suspension of any further related expenditure on the proposed system until an independent electoral commission has been established to address the concerns of political parties and the public on the issue. "It looks as if there is some movement on the government side in the last few hours," a Fine Gael spokesperson told ElectricNews.Net in response to the Tanaiste's comment. "It is looking more positive than 12 hours ago, but we will just have to wait and see." Meanwhile, a report dealing with the testing of voting machines - cited by minister for the environment, heritage & local government Martin Cullen - does not give any assurances that the Nedap machines are suitable for use in elections in Ireland, according to independent lobby group Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting (ICTE). The ICTE claims government reticence on the release of information relating to the introduction of e-voting is noticeable through the paucity of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. "In one case, over €1,200 of funds has been spent requesting documents under the FOI Act and appeals to the Information Commissioner, some of which are still on-going," noted ICTE representative Colm MacCarthaigh. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 18 Feb 2004

Seagate spins 10k rpm disks

Seagate announced a new range of 10,000rpm hard discs, called Savvio, at the Intel Developers' Forum (IDF) yesterday. The new range is based on a 2.5 inch form factor. The drives have a 40 per cent lower power requirement than their 3.5 inch counterparts, a 15 per cent faster seek time, and three interface options - Fibre Channel, Ultra320 SCSI and SAS. Aimed squarely at the cost-conscious enterprise, the drives are available in a one or two platter design at 36GB and 73GB capacities. The range has also been given a reliability specification of1.4 million hours MTBF, based on testing in a 7/24/365 100 per cent duty cycle enterprise-class workload rather than desktop environment. Seagate says that these features make the range ideal for high I/O density hardware platforms, including new servers, storage arrays and blade servers. General availability for Savvio will be at the end of the second calendar quarter of 2004. Savvio with SAS is scheduled for late Q3 2004. More info here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Quantum offers full line through European channel

Channel RoundupChannel Roundup Storage behemoth Quantum is to offer its complete line of products through European distributors Ideal Hardware and CMS Peripherals.This will include the DLT VS80, DLT VS160 and SDLT 320-branded tape drives. PCA Business Forum The Professional Computing Association's annual Business Forum is taking place on 26 February. The Forum is sponsored by PwC and will cover management issues including credit control and fraud risk. The event is followed by drinks and dinner and is in Manchester. Email Keith Warburton for your booking form. VIP franchises VIP Computer Centre, the Warrington-base distie, has picked up two new vendors, BenQ and PEAK, to flog to its system builder customers. More here. Azlan speaks up for Alcatel Azlan is to distribute Alcatel's VoiP products in the UK. The Tech Data sub, which already flogs Alcatel data kit, describes the new franchise as "highly significant". So there you go. Diagonal buys Egility Farnham-based SAP specialist Diagonal Consulting has bought retail specialist Egility Solutions for an undisclosed amount. Egility is also an SAP specialist but focuses exclusively on the retail market. Bell tolls Big distie Bell Microproducts posted increased turnover and more than doubled profits for the fourth quarter ended December 31 2003. Turnover was up 20 per cent to $640m and profits were $2.4m or $0.09 a share. Revenues for the whole year were $2.23bn, up six per cent on 2002. Something for the weekend Computer 2000 is expecting a full house at its training weekend in Reading next month. The one and a half day event will see around 100 resellers learning about products from various vendors. Computer Associates, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Sony have already confirmed. Delegates can attend six presentations. There will be a business opportunities session on Microsoft CRM products. Red Hat picks Israeli distie Red Hat has chosen Israeli systems integrator Matrix to distribute its Red Hat Enterprise Linux products in Israel. Matrix believes it could win business worth as much as $2m from selling Red Hat software. Alex Pinchev, president of international operations at Red Hat, said in a statement: “Red Hat has set itself the target of increasing its operations international arena and entry into Israel is part of the process.” Red Hat now has a presence in 90 countries. ®
John Oates, 18 Feb 2004

Sun wins big with China Mobile Java gig

Sun has signed a major deal with China Unicom for the cellco to use Java Technology for the Wireless Industry (JTWI) to create a mobile Java platform - UniJa - for its 90m subscribers. Although Java is a the leading content delivery platform for mobile phones, Sun has had varying success in exploiting that in terms of building strong relationships with operators. This is partly because, until recently, it lacked some of the advantages of its rival Qualcomm Brew - notably a standard way of aggregating content, billing and provisioning. But Sun and the Java Community Process have started to include aggregation facilities into J2ME, the mobile version of Java, and to bring it closer to Brew. These developments are important in the UniJa concept and the China deal is an important breakthrough which builds on an agreement Sun signed with the cellco and with Chinese service provider ZRRT last September. Unicom's UniJa platform will be comparable to the likes of Vodafone Live! It will provide a unified platform to which service providers and content developers can write and which will incorporate features such as security. The three partners will open a Java Technology Lab to develop next-generation UniJa services, identify new opportunities and carry out certification and testing. The JTWI initiative, kicked off last year within the Java Community Process, aims to address the real problem of fragmentation of J2ME, but may also be a means by which Sun can wrest back full control of the platform's evolution from Nokia and the other mobile phone makers. The JTWI aims to lay out an overall architecture for J2ME in mobile phones, which is still incompletely standardised and therefore represents another brake on development of smartphone applications. The specification identifies configurations, profiles and APIs, such as IDP 2.0, that are essential for JTWI compliance. This is vital to reduce fragmentation of mobile phone platforms and increase the level of base functionality. This in turn reduces the need for extensions and the danger of incompatible solutions. Device-specific API extensions have proliferated on mobile phones because the MIDP profile is targeted at all mobile devices and so omits many phone-specific requirements - address books and particular user interface behaviour included. However, the danger of the JTWI approach is that Sun is trying to create too generic a platform for mobile phones ranging from games-optimised devices like the N-Gage to business-focused PDA hybrids. © Copyright 2004 Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
Wireless Watch, 18 Feb 2004

Sybase beefs up Pocket PowerBuilder

Sybase has shipped a new version of its Pocket PowerBuilder development environment, specifically designed to speed up and simplify the creation of mobile and wireless applications. It's the latest move in Sybase's bid to make the mobile enterprise the centrepiece of its strategy, and to boost corporate interest in mobilisation by making applications development simpler. The company claims that Pocket PowerBuilder allows applications to be created in hours, deployed in days and offer complex data synchronisation with enterprise databases within the remit of a rapid development tool. Among its features are a full integrated development environment with many ready-made components, drag-and-drop rapid programming techniques and a patented technology called DataWindow. The latter supports data access and processing and presentation without coding. MobiLink is the synchronization tool with links to DB2, SQL Server, Sybase Adaptive Server and Oracle databases. Integration Predictably, there is tight integration with the iAnywhere mobile tools and ultrasmall database. A first for the database market will be planned support for real time publish and subscribe from the Sybase SQL Anywhere database to mobile devices, enabled by an embedded Java Messaging System. In November, Sybase set out its stall for 2004 under the Un-wired Enterprise banner, which integrates products from its fastest-growing unit, iAnywhere, with others from the main company and those under the main Sybase brand. At that time, the company promised an overhaul of the whole range within six months. It has also launched various developer support programmes to encourage uptake of mobile technologies. Last autumn, it signed up Intel to announce a joint developer training program to raise awareness of iAnywhere's capabilities. This follows hard on its product agreement with Intel last month, to offer a hardware and software bundle called Wi-Fi Toolkit. This aims to simplify the task for developers building corporate applications, particularly for small and medium businesses. Capital The overall plan is to make greater capital from the established name of Sybase. This week's product announcements are the first stage in the process of pulling together, over the coming three months, all its data management and middleware options into a tightly integrated package called Unwired Server. In the second quarter, Unwired Toolkit will do the same for Sybase's development tools. Sybase has a good chance of success in this market. Its ultralow footprint database is well ahead of the pack with over 70 per cent market share. What's more, the Sybase product set - even without the repackaging - provides a more integrated end-to-end mobile platform than any of its competitors apart from IBM WebSphere Everyplace. © Copyright 2004 Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
Wireless Watch, 18 Feb 2004

Stob: McDosh hires Titbits

StobStob Stob Dateline: Two hours 37 minutes ago. US software and litigation giant Softwron Inc, has upped the stakes in the battle of its patented 'Wron number, recently stolen and released onto the 'Net.
Verity Stob, 18 Feb 2004

P2P service makes beautiful music with EMI and others

UK online music service Wippit has added a second music major to its roster, hot on the heels of becoming the first P2P system to attract the attention of the industry's big boys. The company this week signed its second major contract having already shaken hands with EMI. It says it has two more deals at contract stage. Wippit has survived the last few years on indie music only, signing 200 of the less well-known independent record labels and only now having the credibility to open negotiations with the big guys. Blowing bubbles Wippit CEO Paul Myers burst a few of the bubbles about online music services and cast some doubt over just why it is that Apple iTunes and Roxio are having trouble tying up European rights with their record labels. "If I can do it, and get world-wide online rights, then I don't see what's holding them up. It's certainly not the red tape and bureaucracy of individual European countries, like they say it is." The real problem is likely to be a combination of greed and a worry that the European market will not be easily shaken from its piratical ways. Most online music services in Europe that offer a "price per track" system like Apple, are being encouraged to set this at 99 pence rather than 99 cents. Given that the currencies are trading at over $1.80 per UK pound, that means a hefty 80 per cent hike over the US prices. Any lower and retailers, who have been charging that amount for years, would find that they were priced out of business. This year's model Myers has a different model and charges £30 ($54) a year (not per month) to each of his 180,000 registered users. He splits revenue - including any advertising revenue he gets - 50/50 with all of his partner labels, and they each get an pro-rata amount related to the number of downloads that happen on the network. His system is to gradually place content on the site; not deliver it all in one go. He treats it like any other publishing process. "BskyB doesn't put all of its good films on all in one go," he said, "and it's a bit like that. You have to keep new stuff coming in all the time." Because so many of his record labels are independents, many of them cannot get air play on the radio, and so they opt for unprotected MP3 files to be placed on his site and give permission for file-sharing rights between all of the Wippit customers. Others need the security of Windows Media DRM wrapped around them and file sharing is not allowed. Kajagoogoo In about a week he will flood Wippit with selected EMI tracks. "We have been given access to about 97 per cent of the EMI catalogue but we will be selecting the cream. These sites that talk about having 500,000 tracks have too many Kajagoogoo B sides for my liking and that makes it confusing to use as a service and denigrates the user experience." Myers confesses that his formula works out quite well for his record labels. "We have operated on a quarterly basis at prices per downloaded track to the label of between 44 pence (79 cents) and £1.12 ($2) using that method. That's more than they would get from a retailer, and they don't have the price of making a CD." Myers is a little shy when you ask about rumours that he himself is going to add a "per track" option, but under his contracts he can set it as low as 29 pence (52 cents) a track. His final word is reserved for OD2 which services nearly all the European online music services through its own delivery mechanism. "Business there is slow. There are albums that you can buy for £8.99 ($16) on Amazon that will arrive next day, that if you buy from OD2, by the time you have bought each track and paid for the CD and burnt it yourself, will cost you £24 ($43)," he concludes. If that's true, then it's hardly a way to convince millions of people to stop illegal file sharing. © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 18 Feb 2004

Inova X-5 in blue, red and green

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion If you're looking for some form of illumination to see you safely home through the gloom of a British February evening, or possibly just looking forward to a Summer camping trip while struggling gamefully to work though the drizzle, then now is the time to arm yourself with the right equipment. We at Cash'n'Carrion have just expanded our lovely range of torches, notably adding new LED colour options for the most excellent Inova X-5. This top-of-the-range piece of kit is now available in anodised black with white LEDs, or titanium finish with blue, green or red LEDs at £38.25 (£44.95 inc VAT). Just to recap the bangs you get for your bucks, the X-5 is made of 2011 aircraft aluminium and features 5 LEDs pumping out 96 lumens/m2. It's virtually indestructible, waterproof to 150 feet and comes complete with 2 lithium 123a batteries offering roughly 20 hours illumination. That's an awful lot of torch, to be sure. Another Inova goodie in store is the X-5's little brother - the X-1 - which offers a similar high spec. with a single white LED for £17.81 (£21.99 inc VAT). You can have it in any colour you like, as long as it's black - or titanium. And for those who like their kit to be multi-functional, what about the Inova 24/7? This illuminatory entertainment system comes in yellow or camouflage case options, and its eight LEDs offer Low Output White, High Output White, Signal Strobe, SOS Signal, Night Vision Red, 3 Colour High Visibility, Distress Strobe, 2 Colour Emergency Beacon and Locator Beam functions. True, it won't make the tea, but for £42.54 (£49.99 inc VAT), the 24/7 delivers tremendous value and clear white light for up to 75ft. All of the above torches are available right now, right here. They are complimented by the monstrous 75,000 candlepower Streamlight Ultra Stinger and compact Traser PALight. And, if you like your light source to be nuclear-powered, Traser are also responsible for the near-legendary GlowRing, shown here for your viewing pleasure with some of the other products listed above. Enjoy:
Cash'n'Carrion, 18 Feb 2004

Help! I married a Net porn star

An unnamed 30 year-old Greek man got a bit more of an eyeful that he bargained for when he was checking out an exhibitionist porn site. While happily surfing vids of couples getting it on, he happened upon one of his wife getting jiggy with another man. A 23-year-old man was later arrested on charges of running a website that functioned as a club for exhibitionists. According to a report in Greece’s English-language newspaper eKathimerini he set the site up six months ago, and says he gets 30,000 visits every day. Hubby, meanwhile, claimed that he found the site while trying to work out why his missus spent so much time online. The red-faced chap immediately notified the Greek police, demanding that the clip be removed to protect his wife’s privacy. However, as the site was free to access, and registration demanded that visitors submit pornographic images of themselves, she was likely aware of the use to which her footage would have been put. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Cisco parades extra trade discounts

Cisco is offering resellers extra discounts on kit if they register potential sales before closing the deal.
John Oates, 18 Feb 2004

Moon-sized diamond found in space

The biggest ever diamond has been found floating in space. The gem, estimated at close to 10 billion trillion trillion carats, is at the core of a dead star (BPM 37093) - a crystallised white dwarf. The newly-discovered diamond in the sky is a whopping great chunk of crystallised carbon 50 light-years from the Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It is 2,500 miles across (the moon is approximately 2,200 miles across) and weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds. It has been dubbed "Lucy" in reference to the Beatles' song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Diamond specialists told the research team that if nothing else, the diamond was much too big to wear*. Theorists have long speculated that the cores of extinct white dwarves would crystallise, but until now have had no way to prove it. However, the white dwarf is not only radiant but also harmonious. It rings like a gigantic gong, undergoing constant pulsations. "By measuring those pulsations, we were able to study the hidden interior of the white dwarf, just like seismograph measurements of earthquakes allow geologists to study the interior of the Earth. We figured out that the carbon interior of this white dwarf has solidified to form the galaxy's largest diamond," explained Travis Metcalfe, head of the team at Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. Our own Sun will become a white dwarf when it dies 5 billion years from now, having first expanded to engulf almost everything in the solar system. Two billion years after that, the core will crystallise, leaving a giant diamond in its place. ® *Ms. Lopez, please take note: there are limits...
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

£48m cash infusion for JET fusion

The UK’s fusion research programme got a cash injection of £48 million today, as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) bestowed its largest ever grant on UKAEA (United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority) Culham Division. The grant will fund the programme for four years, starting this April. Usually, money is allocated annually. Chris Carpenter, a spokesman for UKAEA, said the ability to plan over a longer period will make a real difference to the kinds of projects it can undertake. Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, Director of UKAEA Culham, said the grant is a measure of the UK Government’s commitment to fusion research, and a vote of confidence in the UK’s contribution to the field. “It is essential that we have a wide range of energy options to meet the needs of our 21st century world with less reliance on fossil fuels. Fusion has a key role to play alongside renewable sources of energy,” he said. The grant comes during a period of great excitement in the fusion community, as scientists await a decision on the location of a new, larger reactor, ITER (International Tokomak Experimental Reactor). This grant will enable the UK to maintain its key role in this defining period. So: is fusion, which has been just around the corner for decades, really going to materialise? Carpenter thinks it will: “We have much more confidence than ever. The results we are getting from JET mean that we know ITER will work. Also, scientists can train on JET, and go to ITER and get research up and running immediately. Once we build ITER, and start working in parallel, we’ll be well on track to see something in operation within a 25 year period.” ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Ethernet compo winner announced

So here is the explanation of the (terrible) joke in the Intel photonic switch story (Light dawns at Intel) we ran yesterday. The answer we were looking for had to include reference to the Michelson Morley interferometer experiment, which is very similar to the description of the generation of photonic modulation in its operation. It was designed to prove that there was an ether, a medium through which it had been suggested light would propagate. It ended up proving the opposite: that the ether did not exist. Light was split into two beams which were recombined after travelling along orthogonal paths. If there had been an ether, the light beams would have interfered with each other as the direction the light moved through the ether would affected the motion of the light wave. No such result was found, thus proving there is no ether. Hence ethernets won't benefit. :-) A pun, no less. The T-shirt prize goes to Edward Smallwood, who was first back with a reference to the intrepid scientists. Nice one, Ed. Let us know what size that T-Shirt should be, and we'll get it in the post. Well done, also, to everyone who suggested that an Ether Net might be usful for catching an Ether Bunny. No prizes, we're afraid, beyond the knowledge that you made us laugh. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Using photon momentum to trap viruses

The European Commission announced the first ten projects to be granted funding as part of the NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technology) programme. Among the projects given the go-ahead is one that will develop a kind of Optical Tweezer – that is, a way of moving atoms around using the momentum associated with photons. This would allow for trapping and localising tiny biological samples such as viruses and DNA, and has promising applications in fundamental science (optics, atomic physics) and technology, including micro-fluidics. Also granted funding is a team working to develop the next generation of electron microscopes. Using new experimental results, the team aims to develop a new way of accurately measuring the absorption of circular polarised light. This will provide better measurements of sub surface magnetic properties and in multilayer materials at nanometer resolutions. Another team whose investigation into producing chemicals from CO2 and H2 under ‘mild’ conditions may have important implications for solar energy and dealing with greenhouse gases was also given the Nod. They plan to use the size selectivity of nano porus membranes in combination with the catalytic properties of noble metals to ‘burn’ the hydrogen without it going bang! NEST was established to promote high risk interdisciplinary research, the kinds of projects that would not be budget priorities, but could generate exciting new technologies. Research commissioner Phillipe Busquin said that the focus was on the unexpected, rather than solely on existing successes and consolidated scientific dogma. The EC has called for submissions to be considered for its next round of funding. More information here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

ESA probes Beagle 2 failure

The European Space Agency has launched an inquiry into the (sadly) failed Beagle 2 lander. Working in conjunction with the British Government, the ESA said that the inquiry will shed light on the craft’s inability to communicate with the mothership since it set off on its own for Mars. Lord Sainsbury, science and innovation minister, said that future teams could benefit from whateverlessons are learned, a clear indication that the European Space programme is not hanging up its moonboots. The investigative team, which will have had no direct involvement in the project, is asked to identify any 'issues or shortcomings' that could have contributed to the Beagle’s lack of bark. It will look at the development material, the data generated during the integration of the Beagle 2 lander on Earth and that generated just prior to release of the spacecraft to Mars. The inquiry has been welcomed by everyone involved in the project and will follow normal ESA procedures. The team will report to Lord Sainsbury as well as the ESA’s director general as the inquiry is into a British-built lander. It is expected to conclude its report by the end of March. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Universities cash in on IP

Universities in the UK are generating more income from intellectual property, filing more patents and spinning out more companies than ever before. The annual Higher Education Business Interaction (HEBI) survey shows that during the 2001-02 academic year, turnover of spin-off companies increased from £212m to £289m, and the number of people employed by these companies increased from 10,500 to 12,000. In the same period, higher education establishments’ income from IP increased 83 per cent, up from £18m to £33m, and the number of new patents filed rose 8 per cent, from 896 to 967. The University of Oxford's technology transfer office, Isis Innovations, has spun out 44 companies to date and files, on average, one patent per week. Isis is responsible for the formation of NaturalMotion, whose proprietary virtual stuntman software was used in the final Lord of the Rings film and will be seen again in April in Hollywood epic Troy. Lord Sainsbury, said the government has made "large investments in knowledge transfer over the last few years and it is good to see it bearing fruit". In Manchester, a company called Dmist was founded by researchers at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). It has developed technology which can clean up live or recorded video images where the presence of fog, haze, rain or smoke has impaired the quality of the image. The technology has the potential to help a wide range of sectors including general security surveillance, traffic monitoring, defence and shipping. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Oldest galaxy found behind big cluster

Scientists at CalTech may have discovered the most distant object known, and thus the oldest ever seen. If the galaxy, which lies behind the Abell 2218 cluster, is as old as researchers currently think, then the light which has now reached Earth is just 750 million years younger than the universe itself. The galaxy was identified using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck telescopes on Mauna Kau in Hawaii. It is visible thanks to the gravitational lens effect of the Abell 2218 cluster which is so massive that it bends and amplifies the light passing through it, acting as a natural lens in space. As the universe expands, everything in it moves away from everything else. This causes light to be red shifted; the wavelength of the light increases. The further away an object is, the faster it is receding, and the further redshifted the light is. In this case, the ultraviolet light has been shifted to the infrared. The astronomers estimate that this object is approximately 2,000 light-years across. This is very small compared with our own galaxy, which is approximately 70,000 light years from centre to tip. The little galaxy is also forming stars extremely actively. It apparently lacks the typically bright hydrogen emission line, while its ultraviolet light is much stronger than that seen in star-forming galaxies closer by. "The properties of this distant source are very exciting because, if verified by further study, they could represent the hallmark of a truly young stellar system that ended the Dark Ages," added Dr. Richard Ellis, Steele Professor of Astronomy at Caltech. "Dark Ages" refers to the time in cosmic history when hydrogen atoms first formed but stars had not yet begun to shine. Nobody is quite clear how long this phase lasted, and the detailed study of the cosmic sources that brought this period to an end is a major goal of modern cosmology. Hubble may be on borrowed time, but researchers are making sure they get good use out of the time they have left. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Mice grow monkey sperm

A team of US scientists has created viable monkey sperm in mice, using transplanted testicular tissue.* From the date of the transplant, it took seven months for live sperm to be produced. Amusing as the image of a mouse with monkey balls on its back is, the research is being done for a purpose, not just the entertainment of the faculty staff. The technique will initially be used to reduce the amount of experimentation on primates, but could be used to help conserve endangered animal populations. Researchers also say that it is possible that human sperm could be grown in the same way – a novel, if controversial, approach to human fertility treatment. The testis skin from a young rhesus macaque monkey was implanted under the skin on the back of a mouse with a depleted immune system. This minimised the likelihood that the tissue would be rejected. The mouse was also castrated, so that it would produce a higher level of the hormone that switches on sperm production. This causes the transplanted skin to grow faster. The next step, say researchers, is a trial with domestic cats as a prelude to work with big cats that only rarely survive to reproductive age in captivity. Mouse sardines Not content with shouldering baby-monkey balls, hard-working research mice have also made contributions to our understanding of heart health, memory and smell this week. Genetic engineers have inserted a gene into mice that enables them to produce omega-3 fatty acids. These are the acids associated with good heart heath, and are most readily available in fish. The researchers want to see if they can accomplish the same with farm animals, so that meat and dairy produce could “grow their own” Omega-3. However, the team at Harvard acknowledges that the public is still a touch sceptical about genetically modified food, especially in Europe. In New York, meanwhile, mice have helped in the development of a treatment for age-related memory loss. According to Nobel prize-winner Dr. Eric Kandel the drug, Mem 1003, works by preventing calcium building up in brain cells and makes the cells more responsive to incoming signals. "If you are a mouse, we can handle your age-related memory loss," he said. The drug is now in the first stages of human trials. Finally, a missing protein could be the answer to the centuries old riddle of why some people think wine smells of strawberries and cabbages, while others can smell only grape. Mice without a protein called Kv1.3, a molecule used in nerve communication, were able to track down hidden food in half the time of those with the protein. Debi Fadool from Florida State University in Tallahassee and her colleagues found that the genetically altered mice were able to detect smell 1000 weaker than their au-naturelle cousins. ® *Try saying that, quickly, after a couple of beers
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

MS demos Jetsons' kitchen on FoodTV

Microsoft is hard at work solving the problems of moneyed illiterates who hate to cook. Those who can't quite manage to interpret the microwaving instructions printed on a cup of dehydrated soup no longer need to worry: the Microsoft Kitchen is alive with RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders that tell the microwave oven how long and at what intensity to nuke your soup powder or Macaroni & Whey Dinner for perfect results every time. A recent FoodTV special called "Kitchens of the Future," narrated by "Good Eats" presenter Alton Brown, gave MS (and IBM, about which more below) a chance to dazzle us with their latest culinary kit. The Microsoft Kitchen features a heavy reliance on RFID for inventory control, and numerous, unnecessary Internet connections. It also includes a magic countertop that reads the RFID information emanating from each appliance and grocery placed on it, then offers to instruct one in manipulating them in quest of a meal. It does this in two ways; first it projects text instructions on the counter's black work surface, consuming half of it. Second, it talks; and it's very precocious, MS says. Program Manager Pam Heath demonstrated by placing an electric mixer and a sack of flour on the magic counter top, which immediately deduced that dough would be involved, and began haranguing her in a tinny, synthesized voice. "Wouldyou like someassistance?" the disembodied fembot demanded. It then offered several sets of instructions for using dough in cookies, pastry, bread, and the like. Heath chose bread, and the gadget began barking orders at her. "Stepone: Diviiide thedough. Spring kel thewood surface liberrraaaly withsome flour and some sem olina orcorn meal." "Steptwo: Formthe doughcutpaaarchment paper to a bakingsheet." (Which I think means, 'form the dough into a loaf and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a sheet pan.') The gizmo had no sense of how long each step might take, and continued its litany of orders while the user would likely still be occupied with a previous task. Which explains why people prefer to read recipes as they work. Unfortunately, with all that flour scattered about the black countertop, the projected text becomes difficult to see, and one must ask the fembot to repeat itself. However, in a kitchen full of noisy, rambunctious brats, there would be little hope of understanding its atonal blather. There is little here beyond an amusing gimmick, though MS seemed rather proud of it. "One thing that makes people really excited when they come into the Microsoft Home is this idea of being able to use your voice as a tool in the kitchen," MS Senior Director John O'Rourke gushed, with all the reflexive cheer of a summer camp director. IBM also had a shot at dazzling the gullible, and, like Microsoft, a shot at hard-selling RFID, which the tech, retail and transportation industries are desperate to inflict upon us. Again, voice synthesizers were used to break the ice. But instead of a talking countertop, IBM demoed a talking iron. And not just a talking iron, but a verbose talking iron that does nothing so much as hit one in the face with the fact that it talks. "Your eye urn is on a high temperature setting and possibly unattended," it said, where "caution, hot eye urn" would have done nicely. "Your eye urn is now off. But it's still hot. Please use caution," it went on tonelessly. Spokesman Bill Bodin of the Internet Home Alliance, a lobbying and advisory outfit dedicated to RFID-chipping and Internet-enabling as much household kit as humanly possible, demonstrated a Net-enabled oven from Whirlpool. After fiddling with an elaborate series of menus, he succeeded in programming it to bake cookies in his absence. An hour later, he adjusted the program settings remotely with his cell phone, after much additional fiddling. In all, he put a good deal more effort into the exercise than any manual oven would require, with no obvious advantage. One needs only ten minutes to bake cookies, after all. The message behind both the MS and IBM fantasy kitchens is that industry is determined to find justifications for mass-scale RFID chipping, but hasn't yet come up with an adequate enticement that consumers will accept. Talking countertops, talking irons, and refrigerators and microwave ovens able to identify products are hardly an improvement over the standard models, except for the blind. It would be nice if the thrust behind this research were to make kitchen work more convenient for the blind, but it isn't. It's about treating those of us who can see as if we were blind, selling us expensive solutions to problems we haven't got to justify mass RFID adoption, and calling it progress. ®
Thomas C Greene, 18 Feb 2004
cable

Nanotech researchers see the light

Researchers in the Mazur group at Harvard have found a way to make nanofibres only 50nm thick; thinner than the wavelengths of light they carry. Made from silica, the nanofibres transmit the light by acting as a guide for it to flow around, rather than through; and because they can be made smooth and of uniform diameter, the light remains coherent as it travels. This property allows the fibres to transmit more information using less space, which means the material will be useful in building sensors, medical products nanoscale lasers and communications tools. The fact that light can now be sent down such a small path will make a real impact on sensor design, according to the research team, as the size of each detecting point is a limiting factor in how sensitive a device can be. As these fibres are so tiny, more can be bundled together. This would mean faster and more accurate detection and identification of substances. The National Science Foundation (NSF) requested increased funding for research like this. Far from raising concerns about grey goo, it argues that discoveries in the field of nano-biotech and nan-technology will: “enable development of revolutionary technologies that contribute to improvements in health, advance agriculture, conserve materials and energy and sustain the environment”. The team, led by Eric Mazur and Limin Tong first reported their findings in Nature. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

DTI's £50m bet on Nanotech

UK businesses have until March 26th to apply for a share of a £50 million the DTI has allocated to fund research into commercial applications of nanotechnology. The fund has been established to help ensure that the UK does not miss out on a market which the US National Science and Technology Council Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology sub-committee (2001) estimates will be worth $1 trillion globally, in the next 10 years. Lord Sainsbury, science and innovation minister, said it is vital that the UK gains a significant share of this emerging market. The money is to be doled out in stages over the next three years. Further calls for applicants are planned for early 2005 and 2006. In this first round of funding, £15 million is available for about 30 projects. Applicants should apply for a grant that would cover up to half of a project’s costs, and should also note that applications must be collaborative and involve at least two UK companies. Once the outline proposals have been assessed, between 60 to 90 will be asked to proceed to the next stage and provide full proposals for further consideration. Businesses interested in applying for a grant from this programme should visit www.mnt.org" for all relevant forms and guidance. A series of roadshows for potential applicants are also being held at the following locations around the UK: Manchester, Hilton Manchester Airport - 12 February Bristol, Holiday Inn, Bristol Filton - 16 February London, Ernst & Young LLP, SE1 - 18 February ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

Homer Simpson let loose on US nuclear weapons facility

Homer Simpson has apparently relinquished his post at Springfield nuclear plant to take up a new position with US Energy Department's Pantex plant in Texas. Our suspicions are aroused because the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has reported that workers at the Amarillo complex nearly totalled the Lone Star State twice while dismantling old nuclear warheads. In the first incident, highly-skilled operatives inadvertently drilled into the warhead's core, provoking a full-scale evacuation of Pantex. They later made a second Chernobylesque blunder by bodging a highly-explosive warhead part back together with tape. Had they subsequently dropped the component, the likely outcome would have been a "violent reaction", with "potentially unacceptable consequences", as safety board chairman John T. Conway rather conservatively put it. Pantex is operated by BWX Technologies Inc. The facility's website assures visitors that BWXT Pantex is "Maintaining the safety, security and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile" through "Teamwork that delivers... Results!". Presumably the ... represents the slight delay between the team dropping the warhead and then delivery of the Results! in the form of Texas reduced to an irradiated wilderness for 10,000 years. There is, mercifully, some hope that that Texans will not in future be obliged to check their steak and fries with a Geiger Counter since the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has an inspector permanently stationed at Pantex. We're certain he's ensuring they buck up their ideas; but if he should turn out to be Sideshow Bob, here is BWXT's cut-out-and-keep guide to what you should do once the sirens sound, entitled "WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ADVISED TO TAKE SHELTER" and culled from Pantex's entertaining Managing Emergency Events: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ADVISED TO TAKE SHELTER To protect yourself, you need to avoid physical contact with radioactive materials and avoid inhaling them: Stay indoors in your home, work place, or a nearby building. Once inside, do not leave unless you are told it is safe to go out or you are advised by your emergency management officials or law enforcement personnel to evacuate. Close all windows, doors, and fireplace dampers. This keeps outside air from entering your home or work place. Turn off any heating or cooling system that draws in air from the outside. If it becomes stuffy, use portable or ceiling fans to circulate the air inside. If you have been outside during the period just before you were warned to take shelter, take a shower or at least wash your face and hands with a washcloth using soap and tepid water. Change into clean clothes; put the clothing you were wearing and the washcloth into a plastic bag. Keep your radio on and tuned to one of the local EBS stations- KGNC-AM (710) or KGNC-FM (97.9). Listen for information and instructions Begin to assemble items you may need in case you are advised to evacuate. If you must go outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth to avoid inhaling any radioactive materials that might be present. Top advice. On the other hand, you could just join Homer down at Moe's, rack up a few beers, and wait for your skin to fall off. ®
Lester Haines, 18 Feb 2004

Captain Cyborg issues chilling TV warning

Hopes that Kevin "Captain Cyborg" Warwick might finally be towed away and broken up for scrap were dashed last night when the ubiquitous robopundit made an extended appearance on BBC TV's Jeremy Clarkson's Inventions That Changed The World. Clarkson will be familiar to UK readers as the host of the Top Gear motoring programme and a range of other technology-related series. His latest offering is a typically flippant gander at the kit which has radically advanced the human species. True to form, Clarkson yesterday set about the computer, at one point venting his spleen by taking a hammer to a laptop. All highly entertaining, until Captain Cyborg trundled onto the screen to give Jeremy the benefit of his vision of a cybernetic future. Backed by archive footage of his famous chip-implanting stunt, Warwick stunned a boggle-eyed Clarkson with his apocalyptic vision of a computer-driven armageddon. At least we think that's what he said. Suffice it to say most of Warwick's performance was drowned out by derisive laughter punctuated by occassional light abuse. Unforgiveably, Mr Clarkson fell for the whole thing hook, line and sinker, and at no point deployed his sarky tongue to dismantle the publicity-fixated cybercharlatan's prognosis. This is indeed a black day for television. Jeremy: you've let your friends down, you let your family down, but worst of all - you've let yourself down. Enough said. ®
Lester Haines, 18 Feb 2004

Handheld porn comes closer

Adult content provider MobVision is fully launching its content delivery and billing system for mobile phones. Mobile porn has long been predicted as the saviour of next generation phones and researchers at Visiongain estimate that profits from adult content could be $4b a year by 2006. MobVision offers a simple way to send content and receive payment. It also has a library of a million still images and twenty thousand videos – all legal and licensed. It offers content and billing services or can convert existing material so it can be distributed and paid for on mobile phones. The service has already gone live in Australia and will launch soon in Europe, South Africa and the US. Sadly a call from El Reg to the mobile pornster's HQ in Covent Garden was met with voicemail – they must be away from their desks checking the screen quality on their mobiles. In other news, Dixons has bought a stake in MonsterMob which provides ringtones, games and porn to mobile phone subscribers. MonsterMob claims to have 140,000 subscribers to its various services. Subscriptions were previously sold in Link stores and are to be extended to PC World and Dixons shops. Dixons spent £500,000 on the 1.28 per cent stake. ® Related stories Content is king for 3G. But what content? Sex and gambling drive mobile content sales No porn for kids, say mobile phone operators
John Oates, 18 Feb 2004

Ellison appeals direct to PeopleSoft shareholders

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is going over the heads of the PeopleSoft board of directors and appealing directly to shareholders to back his offer for the company. The letter, signed by Ellison and chairman and CFO Jeff Henley, describes Oracle's offer of $26 a share as the "final price". The letter outlines the generosity of the Oracle offer – based on a "compelling value" and then attacks the PeopleSoft board of directors. The letter states: "PeopleSoft's directors have ignored our requests to meet and refused to put your interests ahead of their own. Instead, they have devised schemes to further entrench and enrich themselves at your expense. We have serious doubts about the actions of PeopleSoft's CEO and other members of the board." ® Related stories Brussels to rule on Oracle-Peoplesoft deal by May 11 'It was all Craig Conway's idea, anyway' -Oracle Peoplesoft spurns Oracle's final final offer Oracle hikes Peoplesoft bid to $9.4bn
John Oates, 18 Feb 2004

‘Centrino 2’ to launch next Autumn

IDFIDF Intel's second-generation Centrino platform, 'Sonoma', will be launched next Autumn, the chip maker's mobile products chief, Anand Chandrasekher, said today. Sonoma incorporates 'Dothan', the 90nm Pentium M, along with 'Alviso', the next-generation Centrino chipset. The platform was unveiled at last autumn's IDF, and given a broad release timeframe, sometime in the second half of 2004. Chandrasekher revistited Sonoma during IDF this week. He confirmed speculation that Alviso will provide a 533MHz effective bit rate frontside bus. There's dual-channel DDR 2 SDRAM support in the mix, too - up to 2GB of it - along with the next, third version of Intel's integrated Extreme Graphics, with its dual-display capability and TV out. Alviso features Intel's High Definition Audio sub-system, formerly known as 'Azalia', which is built into the ICH6-M South Bridge. As revealed last year, it also provides Serial ATA and Gigabit Ethernet support, along with room to cope with up to eight USB 2.0 ports and four PCI Express ports, primarily for ExpressCard devices. Canny readers will have already noted the considerable similiarities between Alviso and 'Grantsdale', Intel's next major desktop chipset release, a point Chandrasekher himself conceded. Sonoma's third component is the 'Calexico 2' tri-band 802.11 adaptor, which should ship sooner than 'Centrino 2' - or however Sonoma is finally branded. Chandrasekher said it would ship mid-2004, and feature new software, codenamed 'Muroc', that provides a much easier to use interface. Intel has also built in hardware-based AES encryption. ® IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004

Intel to ship 64-bit Pentium ‘in time for Longhorn’

IDFIDF Intel confirmed it will bring 64-bit technology to the desktop when Microsoft ships the next major version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. And it is likely to bring the recently announced AMD64-like "64-bit extensions" system to the mobile market in the same timeframe, company representatives said today. Describing the shift from the server environment to the mainstream client as a "big jump", Bill Siu, general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, admitted that the process of recompiling device drivers and the like for a 64-bit desktop PC would take "some time to complete". He said Intel expects to see a Windows OS delivering "comprehensive 64-bit support in the Longhorn timeframe". That puts the arrival of 64-bit addressing in the Pentium 4 sometime around 2006 - and possibly even as late as 2008, if you believe the prognostications of analysts like Gartner. Whenever Longhorn ships, Intel will be ready, following its previously announced decision to support 64-bit on the desktop "when there is software from an application and operating system standpoint", as President and COO Paul Otellini put it not so long ago. Anand Chandrasekher, general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, made much the same comment when asked at what point we will see Intel's 64-bit extensions brought into a mobile context. ® IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004

90nm Dothan to lead consumer Centrino drive

IDFIDF Intel today promised to push its Centrino notebook platform at consumers, a scheme backed by the arrival next quarter of the long-awaited 90nm Pentium M processor, 'Dothan'. Speaking at IDF today, Anand Chandrasekher, general manager of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, confessed that he was "disappointed" that the chip maker had been forced to put back Dothan's release at the eleventh hour. Most recently scheduled for an early Q1 launch, the 90nm chip will now ship during Q2, probably in May. However, Chandrasekher pledged to ramp up Dothan quickly through the rest of the year, promising to converge the company's 90nm and 130nm products during that period - essentially to replace the latter with the former. Bill Siu, general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, later said that Intel currently has two fabs punching out 90nm processors, with a third coming on line later this year. Dothan will initially ship with a 400MHz frontside bus before being upgraded to a 533MHz FSB next Autumn when Intel ships 'Sonoma', the next generation of Centrino. Sonoma is set to offer significantly better audio and graphics performance than the current version of Centrino, and both capabilities are likely to feature heavily in any move to drive consumer Centrino sales. ® Related Story 'Centrino 2' to launch next Autumn IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004

The point of Itanium keeps floating with new chips

IDFIDF The years of Itanium preaching have taken their toll on St. Fister, and it shows. Intel's bedraggled server chief Mike Fister took the stage today at IDF to try and clean up the mess made yesterday by CEO Craig Barrett. As you are probably aware, Barrett unveiled Intel's 64-bit extensions for Xeon processors. This puts Intel in the unusual position of following rival AMD and of undermining one of its biggest investments - Itanium. In the past, a clean cut St. Fister has been known to cure people of their Itanic wickedness. His soothing touch convinced customers that despite the processor's decade long development and slow sales, things were moving along just as planned. But now a scruffy, bearded St. Fister has set to work flushing any overblown Itanium enthusiasm out of Intel itself. While once billed as a Xeon replacement, Intel appears more ready than ever to admit that Itanic belongs in a niche. Not since the product first launched in 2001 have the terms "strong floating point performance" and "high-end" so often been heard. These were the terms Intel first used to attract high performance computing customers to Itanium. Intel would go on to use more general purpose computing language as time went on, showing Itanium's ability to handle a wide variety of corporate workloads. But now the high-end language has returned with Xeon and its extensions meant to pick up the slack elsewhere. To his credit, St. Fister did try to inspire a bit of fervor around Itanium during the IDF keynote. The company confirmed the Fanwood processors due out this year. The Fanwood chips are the next rev of the DP (dual processor server) Itanium 2 and low voltage Itanium 2. The DP Fanwood will come out at 1.6GHz and the LV Fanwood will run at 1.2GHz. Intel also talked up Fanwood's successor - the Millington processors. These chips will arrive with Montecito, which is Intel's first dual core Itanium processor due in 2005. The Millington chips will be dual core as well with one aimed at dual processor systems and the other aimed at low power consumption. Following Millington, Intel will then release Dimona chips. These fit in the Tukwila - aka Tanglewood - line of multicore chips. As you can see, all is going well with the Itanium family. You know, except for the lack of sales and that Yamhill thing. Speaking of Yamhill, Intel disclosed that its Nocona processor for two-way servers will come out at 3.6GHz. Nocona is the first Intel processor to be blessed with 64-bit extensions. Fister had a few close friends help out with Itanium and Xeon (now enhanced) presentation. HP and Dell sent in their CTOs and IBM chipped in with a executive in charge of Intel servers. It was a touching showing given that both HP and IBM are building out their Opteron server arsenals. It's easy to give Fister a hard time mostly because he has had a hard time of late. But you really had to see him to believe him. We knew the Yamhill thing would be touchy and uncomfortable. But is it as bad as it looks, Mike? ® Related stories Who sank Itanic? Analysis Intel's Barrett hints at 64-bit compatibility glitches Intel unveils 64-bit capable Xeon IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Ashlee Vance, 18 Feb 2004

Google touts stalking service

The war between Yahoo! and Google has intensified, as Yahoo! introduced more of its own search engine technology for its US site yesterday. The portal has used Google's search for the past four years, but began to blend-in its own listings eighteen months ago. Google responded by sending co-founder Sergey Brin on a rare press tour, which is as uncommon a sight as Dick Cheney leaving his bunker. The two web giants have a commercial relationship as complex as their technical relationship: but to oversimplify the situation somewhat, Yahoo! decided that it could do as good a job without paying Google. With its revamped search tool, Yahoo! has followed Google's winning formula closely, but indexes more of each web page than Google and returns, by default, twenty entries. Google has responded by touting an increased image database, and boasting of five new tweaks to its algorithm. It's too early to say how good the Yahoo! search really is, but for Yahoo! it may be good enough. It's as clean and fast as Google, and the results look remarkably similar. Both are wrestling with a formula that was appropriate for the Web in 1998 but is now prone to manipulation and pollution. Trackback For example, running the query "Mac OS X discussion" that so severely tripped up Google last year, Yahoo! returns just three "trackbacks" in the first 20 results, while Google returns six in the first ten. (The software authors responsible for trackbacks have corrected the problem in TypePad, and bloggers are advised to keep trackbacks inline.) So Yahoo! appears to take such problems more seriously than Google, although it's wise to wait several weeks before drawing any firm conclusions. The much-cited "search engine business" is trivial in comparison to the much more significant war between the two over classified text advertisements, which sees Yahoo!'s Overture pitted against Google's Adwords and Adsense programs. As Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan noted here, Yahoo! paid Google a mere $7.1m in 2001. But as advertising brokers, the pair are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, which has enabled Google's rapid and apparently chaotic growth over the twelve months. We know where you live But Google is fighting back to preserve its reputation as the world's favorite search engine. Google already performs a reverse lookup of US telephone numbers, and with one click, can take you to a map of the subscriber's house. Describing the enhanced features, Google co-founder Sergey Brin explained, "It helps, for example, if you're searching for a person like your next-door neighbor, you may get no result," said Brin this week. "Now you'll get one." We've always found knocking on your next-door neighbor's door with a bowl of sugar is a terrific way to make friends. However, for the sad, the lonely and for potential stalkers everywhere, this could be a boon. Remember: it's a feature, not a bug. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Feb 2004

Swastika still controversial, shocker

Letters:Letters: Is it possible to file a story mentioning the word ‘Swastika’ vizout, sorry, without eliciting a flurry of informative, and often angry, mail from your readers? (We refer to a recent article about a patch that got rid of a couple of pictures...) It would seem not. Communication poured in from those who would educate us, those who would shame us, those who were worried about the black helicopters and those who had a genuinely interesting story. Actually – let’s start there: Subject: The Swastika is on our county courthouse... Believe it or not. The Jefferson County Alabama courthouse was built sometime in the late '20s...well before the Third Reich was in anyone's vocabulary save for you-know-who. It is clearly visible on the steps going up to the courthouse. Still is. And why has no one ever made a deal of this? Even during WWII and after, even during the Birmingham civil rights mess of the '60s ? Turns out that many American Indians used it as their symbol,usually turned backwards from the way the Ubermensch displayed it. A local tribe was one of those. Truth is stranger than fiction, ain't it? Regards...ron smith...leeds...(alabama) You couldn’t make that one up, so we’ll have to agree, yes, truth is stranger than fiction in this particular case. A couple of people wanted us to have a clearer idea of the origin of the swastika. Lester, The symbol removed from the Bookshelf font is technically a swavastika, the clock-wise facing version of the ancient sunwheel symbol. In Sanskrit, swastika means amen, or so be it. The swastika itself is thousands of years old, and prior to its death at the hands of PR hacks after World War II, it was revered in many religious cultures including Buddhism as a symbol of universal harmony. Hitler adopted the mirror-image of the swastika for his flag, either for aesthetic or symbolic reasons... but it isn't a swastika, and it wasn't his invention. A ‘swavastika’ eh? Is that a more courteous and smooth version of adhesive label? (Say it: a ‘suaver sticker’. Sorry) Dear Lester, May I comment on the Swastika. The Swastika is NOT a Japanese or a Buddhist sign. It is a sign derived from ancient Sanskrit texts and is the sign of the Hindu god Ganesha who has an elephant head. In reality, the Swastika is a cross that spins clockwise when viewed from the front. Bypassing its mythological aspects, like the elephant head, etc, the Swastika represents a subtle centre which relates to the prostate gland in the male and the uterus in the female. Our Swastika is debased when we are licentious or become religious. Crikey! If we had only known…Do go on: Just because the ancient Romans, which is where Hitler and his unbalanced advisors got the idea in the first instance with inputs from Tibetan monks who gloriously got it wrong by depicting the Swastika as spinning anti-clockwise in some instances, used it in their name for destruction, doesn't mean that the Swastika is evil or represents evil Gotcha. The symbol itself is not inherently evil. Did we suggest that it was? Onward, gentle readers, to the next letter: Hey Lester As a company that feels it has every right to be sole owners of the word 'Windows', I suppose it follows that M$ would immediately associate a generic symbol which has existed for thousands of years, usually in a peaceful and friendly manner, with a dominating, all-powerful evil... Wait a minute... The next writer might not like your sentiments there Mr. Merison… Subject: Extremely inflammatory article - please take action to correct. Your article about Microsoft removing the Swastika symbol from Office 2003 is incorrect and extremely inflammatory. The article states that the Microsoft patch removes the Swastika and the Star-of-David symbols, and suggests that this may be a conspiracy. The reality is that the patch completely erased ALL symbols from the bookshelf 7 font. The picture that was made by James Wilkinson , as the article claims, is an inflammatory fake. Please take care to correct this info as soon as possible. Also, it may be worthwhile to note that the Star-of-David symbol (as well as the Cross and other religious symbols) are still present and accounted for in other fonts, such as the classic Wingdings, which has been with us since the beginning of time. Respectfully yours, Erez Ben-Ari Microsoft Generally, we take a couple of ibuprofen and have a little lie down to deal with material of an inflammatory nature. Sorts everything out in a jiffy. Lastly, of course, there are the messages from the brotherhood of geek. If it wasn’t for people like you, civilisation would probably never have got started in the first place. Subject: RE: MS tears swastika from roof of Office Buddhist and Neo-Nazi Office users can continue to express their sentiments with the character U+5350 in Arial Unicode MS, of course. Thanks Chung. More from a chap called Patrick: Lester, Don't worry - the 'Buddhist' version of the swastika is alive and well as character 534D in any font with CJK unified ideographs - for example Batang. How about that for a piece of geekery! Patrick Topgeekery indeed. To close, however, we should probably clarify that when we mentioned the black helicopters, we were suggesting that conspiracy theorists would find grist for their mill in the removal of the symbols. Not that there was a conspiracy. Quite a leap between the two. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

EC wants biometrics on passports

The European Commission today outlined how a coherent, pan-European approach to security will mean that all citizens will need two biometric identifiers in their passports. Current rules mean that only one, a photograph, is compulsory, but the new proposal makes fingerprints’ inclusion mandatory. It also leaves scope for governments to require further identifiers, such as iris scans, should they deem it necessary. The proposal is yet to be passed by the European parliament. However, with the US now requiring biometrics from tourists and other visitors, and the UK’s decision that passports issued after 2007 must contain a chip with biometric and other data, it seems unlikely that the recommendation will go unheeded. The regulation will provide only the legal basis for biometric data to be included on passports. If passed, implementation of the law and processing of biometric data will be left to the 25 member states individually. The proposal also applies to residence permits and visas for third country nationals. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

BSA software audit ‘will not trigger legal action’

The Business Software Alliance last week launched a 'software detox' initiative to help organisations check their software licenses. Today, the anti-piracy group rejected concerns that firms could incriminate themselves via the on-line audit returns. Software asset management is an integral part of good business governance. Last year, over 4,500 businesses completed the BSA's Software Audit Return. The online form enables businesses to review the software in use and the licenses purchased. "While many organisations realise the risks associated with illegal software, few are taking proactive steps to prevent software mismanagement," said Mike Newton, BSA spokesperson. "The Software Audit Return form enables companies to take the vital first step towards implementing effective software asset management processes and ensuring they are free of illegal software that could put the business at risk." The BSA describes itself as the voice of the world's commercial software industry and its hardware partners before governments and in the international marketplace. Recent research carried out on its behalf revealed that 32 per cent of companies either are not software compliant or do not know whether the software installed has been copied or downloaded illegally. But a fear of some organisations is that completing the BSA's audit could incriminate them if the results reveal, for example, too few software licenses for the number of users - and the BSA is known for taking tough action against non-compliant organisations. OUT-LAW.COM put this concern to the BSA: Will it use the results of the audits to identify new targets for legal action? "Absolutely not," said Graham Arthur, legal counsel at the BSA. "All information received through the audit process is kept confidential and will not be passed to our enforcement team and will not trigger legal action." Arthur continued: "If a company comes forward to complete the audit, no action will be taken. The only exceptions to that would be if the company was already under investigation or if it is later reported to us independently, for example by an employee. "If the audit process reveals unlicensed software, we will only recommend that a company either pays for the appropriate licenses or deletes the software. We may follow that with a letter seeking confirmation that the company is now compliant." We asked what would happen if the BSA sent such a letter and received no response from the company. Arthur explained: "That will be the end of the process. However, if the company is later reported to us independently of the audit and enforcement action is taken, that letter may be used as evidence to show that the company was aware that it was non-compliant." He was anxious to point out to organisations that the focus of the BSA's new approach is on effective software asset management, that it can help to highlight other dangers of illegal software use, such as susceptibility to viruses and lack of support. "The emphasis is on raising awareness, concludes Arthur. "It is not about enforcement." © copyright 2004 OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Masons. Related stories BSA 'software detox' scheme targets illegal software IT firms top UK software piracy roll of shame BSA imagines open source policy, attacks mass.gov
OUT-LAW.COM, 18 Feb 2004

Microsoft's Shared-Source defeats Trustworthy Computing

OpinionOpinion The recent leak of Windows source code onto the Web has made a lot of people jumpy. According to MS news blog Bink.nu, the company has already discovered at least one downloader and sent him a nastygram. If this is true, it indicates an aggressive response back in Redmond, a scrambling to plug the leaks and intimidate in the curious RIAA-style. It should surprise no one that the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. Microsoft's security is in part a function of keeping its source code out of the wrong hands. Thus the Shared Source gimmick is in direct conflict with that portion of the company's Trustworthy Computing gimmick that depends on secrecy. No one wants malicious coders to get their hands on enough of the Windows source to accelerate development of the never-ending torrent of novel exploits already coming out on a weekly basis. Keeping the code under lock and key is a brake on exploit development: it works simply by making the process more difficult. But by sharing it with numerous partners, the company also makes it more difficult to keep the lid on. Shared Source means that future leaks are inevitable. And these leaks have consequences. It took only a few days for a computer enthusiast to find a simple exploit against IE 5 based on the leaked code. It wasn't a terribly important one; but it was, the enthusiast claimed, based on a quick review of the code. More serious exploits may yet be found in the code now circulating, or not as the case may be. But the next time source code is stolen or accidentally released - and it will happen - there might be widespread and very serious security implications. Deep in the Bowels of Redmond Consider that the 'recent' ASN.1 vulnerability needed six months to be fixed. The problem was not so much Microsoft's bureaucratic inertia, but the fact that the flaw was located deep in the bowels of Windows. It was difficult to fix because it affected many interdependent components. Microsoft's penchant for system integration and interdependence is itself an obstacle to developing patches that work properly and don't break other things. It's no wonder the company is jumpy. Its nightmare consists of a dual threat: first, that more source code will leak and lead to the discovery of a serious exploit, and second, that the problem (like the ASN.1 bug) will be so deeply rooted in the system that patching it will require months of work. It is reasonable to foresee a situation in which millions of Windows boxes would be susceptible to an exploit that can't be patched adequately for many months. It could happen as a result of the recent code leak, or we might have to wait for the next blunder. But it will happen: it's only a matter of time. But if (perhaps in some alternate universe) Microsoft products were open source, the need to maintain secrecy would be eliminated, and with it, a significant source of anxiety. But that's not an option. Security through obscurity can work in some situations, but only so long as obscurity is maintained. If I bury money in my yard, it will remain safe so long as I don't tell anyone about it, and so long as some accident doesn't reveal it. If you go down that path, you have got to stay on it, and that's difficult under the best of circumstances because accidents do happen. Undeserved obscurity Microsoft's mistake is trying to have it both ways. It wants to keep the code under wraps, yet share parts of it with big clients and partners whom it hopes it can trust. But some trustees will be unscrupulous while others will be incompetent, and occasional failures in obscurity are inevitable. As Poor Richard's Almanac noted many years ago, "three can keep a secret if two of them are dead." The security of MS products, bad as it is, will only be degraded further so long as the company relies on keeping its source code secret, while at the same time sharing it with hundreds of 'select' outsiders. This is a contradictory approach. It simply can't be made to work over the long term. Unfortunately, at this point, there is no solution. The code can't be put back in the box. This is simply a bad decision that the company has made, the consequences of which have yet to be felt firmly. But they will. It's only a matter of time. ®
Thomas C Greene, 18 Feb 2004
Broken CD with wrench

Home Office to centralise police intelligence

Police officers are still deleting important records because they fear prosecution under the Data Protection Act, according to the Police Federation. The organisation, which represents rank and file officers, called for clarification of the way the Act should be implemented, in a submission to the Birchard Inquiry into police handling of data, set up following the Soham murders. Ian Huntley, now convicted of the murder of two 11 year-old girls, had been accused of rape on four occasions, and of indecent assault on a minor. However, this information was not passed on to authorities in Cambridgeshire because of data protection laws. There is currently no nationwide database of police intelligence in the UK; but in its submission to the inquiry, the Home Office has provided details of a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) pilot of such a database. It will list everyone in the UK on whom the police hold information, and includ so called soft-intelligence, that has not led to a conviction. The data itself would not be held centrally, but would “identify the force(s) to which the CRB would need to refer its inquiries,” the Home Office said. The inquiry also heard today that The Home Office has set up a working group police officers to review the implementation of the Act, which is interpreted differently by different forces across the UK. The CRB currently handles background checks on those who apply for jobs working with children or vulnerable adults. According to the Home Office, one in five job applicants checked with the CRB is ruled out for employment because of the information on file. However, it only holds records of actual convictions, not other police intelligence. The Police Superintendent’s Association told The Guardian that over-riding other human rights was acceptable in order to protect the right to life, arguing that soft intelligence should be kept along with the reasons for not prosecuting. The Home Office said the Huntley case had highlighted a need for clearer guidance to forces “on the implications of the Data Protection Act on the retention and use of criminal conviction and local intelligence." In slightly-related news, the Metropolitan Police Force is planning to bundle all its IT and telecoms contracts into one blockbuster outsourcing deal. The whole package could be worth up to £750 million, and is likely to save the Force a considerable sum, i>silicon.com reports. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Feb 2004

HP to pump IDF full of Opteron boxes

IDFIDF Shocking as it seems to us, HP looks set to announce its new line of Opteron servers on Thursday - day three of the Intel Developer Forum. A couple of sources peg tomorrow as the day HP will do the deed and chum up to Intel rival AMD. If true, the Opteron server launch would cap off a busy week for HP with it backing Intel's new 64-bit Xeon extensions and Itanium as well. But strangely, HP's Prince of Darkness, Shane Robison, did not mention the Opteron boxes at all during a shared keynote speech with Intel's server chip chief Mike Fister. We thought this must be some mistake given the nature of Robison's slides. "HP is committed to bringing choice in industry standard servers architectures to all tiers of the Adaptive Enterprise," reads one slide. The problem is that only Xeon and Itanium processors appear on the page. So, even though HP plans to roll out one to four processor Opteron boxes (ProLiant DL585), it's temporarily playing the same game as Intel, pretending AMD's technology does not even exist. Clear as Mud A trio of HP executives were a tad more forthcoming about Opteron. In an interview, all three of the HP staffers admitted they have heard of the processor. They even went to so far as to say: "it's pretty clear that 64-bit extensions are good for customers." Something that was apparently less clear before Sun and IBM started shipping Opteron gear. Paul Miller, HP's vice president of industry standard servers, denied that HP has pushed a confusing 64-bit strategy, despite our arguments to the contrary. HP, after all, has been leading customers with full force to Itanium for the past three years. We're sure large customers knew of Intel's Yamhill plans, but some of the others must feel misled now. Would you have gone through the pains of a EPIC migration, if you knew HP planned to pump out both 64-bit Xeon and Opteron systems? But if Intel and HP had admitted to Yamhill last year, the revelation likely would have hurt the adoption of Madison - the third generation Itanium processor. And both companies needed that chip to show some success. HP does, however, admit that customers may waffle on Itanic now. "I think there will be some customers who delay Itanium purchases," Miller said. But he added that 64-bit extensions for Xeon should help accelerate the move to 64-bit computing overall. In total, HP plans to keep up its attack against Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems with Itanic on the high-end and an Intel/AMD mix below. The company has no plans at this time to bring a version of HP-UX for x86 systems as Sun has done. But the awkward silence present when we asked if such an OS existed was intriguing to say the least. ® IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Ashlee Vance, 18 Feb 2004

Grantsdale DX9 support limited to pixel shader only

IDFIDF The integrated graphics component of Grantsdale, Intel's upcoming mainstream Pentium 4 desktop chipset, supports only half of DirectX 9's key shader functionality, it emerged today. Intel revealed earlier this week that Grantsdale's integrated graphics core will support DirectX 9's Pixel Shader 2.0 specification. However, Desktop Products Group chipset marketing director Bill Leszinske today confirmed that the core does not provide Vertex Shader functionality. Geometry processing will be handled by the CPU, he said. The graphics engine - which will almost certainly be branded Extreme Graphics 3 - contains four parallel pixel processing pipelines, the chip maker revealed today. It also supports up to 128MB of shared SDRAM. While its support for dual independent displays was confirmed by Intel earlier this week, the company today said Grantsdale will automatically adjust the display resolution to match the capabilities of the screen to which it has been connected.ola The system automatically detects what kind of monitor it's connected to and synchronises accordingly, Leszinske said. Grantsdale supports CRTs, LCDs, TVs and HD TVs - indeed, its integrated graphics component has been optimised for HD playback, he added. This auto-sensing feature extends to the chipset's HD Audio sub-system, which can tell whether a particular audio jack has been hooked up to speakers or a microphone. The HD Audio circuitry tests the impedance of the connected device and automatically configures the port as a line in or line out, microphone or 'phone socket. The user can also specify the role of each socket in software. HD Audio supports sample rates of up to 192kHz, 24-bit digitisation and up to eight channels. It can also handle THX, dts and Dolby Digital Surround sound. Multiple audio sources can be streamed to different devices simultaneously. Grantsdale itself support both DDR and DDR 2 memory, for now up to 533MHz, in dual-channel configurations. The chipset will operate with 800MHz FSB Pentium 4s, but it can also work with a 533MHz bus. Leszinske said that 400MHz FSB support was not part of the chipset's specification. It supports up to eight USB 2.0 ports and four Serial ATA drives with RAID 0 and 1. Legacy port support is there too, along with a single dual-device ATA-133 bus. Grantsdale's ICH6 South Bridge provides four PCI Express slots for add-in cards, while the North Bridge can talk to a graphics card via a PCI Express x16 slot. At least one member of the Grantsdale family will ship without integrated graphics, and its high-end sibling, Alderwood won't either. Alderwood offers the same feature set as Grantsdale, but additionally provides a foundation for Extreme Edition CPUs and offers "enhanced memory pipelining" and lower memory latency, Intel said. Leszinske would not comment on pricing. However, he confirmed that the chipsets would support the upcoming Tejas processor - the successor to Prescott - and the 775-pin LGA connection scheme. ® Related Story Intel moots Centrino-style home PC platform IDF Spring '04 coverage in full
Tony Smith, 18 Feb 2004