2nd > March > 2004 Archive

Cat 5 cable

IBM to aid American ethos with human capital fund

IBM will dole out a modest amount of cash to fund a new worker retraining program, as the company moves to help employees keep their jobs in a fiercely competitive global economy. IBM's CEO Sam Palmisano on Monday announced the Human Capital Alliance at the company's ParterWorld event in Las Vegas. This human capital deal will put $25 million toward training employees and partners to skill up and avoid being laid off as jobs move offshore. Palmisano dedicated five minutes of his ParterWorld keynote to the program, spending most of the hour giving an extended pitch for IBM's on-demand computing concept. The retraining schemes arrives just as IBM, HP, Dell and others are facing increased criticism for sending software and call center jobs overseas. "It is not appropriate for the American ethos to wish ill will on countries that are simply trying to improve the standards of living of their people," Palmisano said. IBM's program will differ from similar government efforts in that it will retrain workers for the future instead of the past, Palmisano said. He mentioned "Linux skills," programming, and "intersection points" as some of the key areas IBM will focus its retraining on - although we're not sure how valuable intersection point knowledge will be in the coming years. IBM's public image has taken a toll in recent months after the Wall Street Journal reported that thousands of US programmers would be replaced by overseas counterparts. IBM responded to the report, confirming some jobs would be sent offshore but adding that it planned to hire thousands more workers in the US. The Human Capital Alliance - surely there was a better name - is a clear response to the grumbling caused by IBM's moves. Palmisano provided little detail on exactly how the program will work, when it will start or how workers can sign up. He did, however, spend a lot of time touting the company's achievements over the last year, particularly with on-demand computing. Palmisano borrowed a page out of rival Sun CEO Scott McNealy's book, talking about creating ready-made bundles of hardware and software. In the past, customers would purchase 10 to 15 products and then put them all together on their own. "(Customers) do not want to be the assembler of piece parts," Palmisano said. "The client is forcing us to focus on solutions." McNealy often talks about selling customers the "whole car" instead of a mix of parts. And now IBM plans to do the same. Unlike Sun, however, IBM has billions upon billions to spend on research and development. At one point in his speech, Palmisano boasted that IBM put just a small fraction - $1 billion - of its R&D budget toward futuristic computing plans - seeing where the market might go. This is about half of Sun's total yearly R&D spend and at least part of this massive total could have perhaps been better spent on the employee retraining instead of patenting new ways to virtually flush a toilet. Palmisano also found time to take coded shots at rival Intel. "For the past twenty years, this (processor) has been defined by a thing called gigahertz," he said. "It drove. It drove. But guess what . . . this thing is getting too hot. It's like a nuclear reactor." Intel often likes to point out that its chips will soon run as hot as a nuclear reactor on their way to rivaling the surface of the sun. IBM, by contrast, is pushing a lower power processor approach. The company will have its Power processor running in everything from Sony Playstations to supercomputers. In each case, IBM makes solid use of multiple processor cores and packaging to up performance while keeping power consumption low. This is far better than Intel-based Thinkpads that can press your pants and "maybe something else too," Palmisano said. A UK man found this out the hard way last year. Overall, Palmisano voiced confidence in the IT industry for the coming year. "We are much more optimistic going into '04 than we have been in several years," he said. The Americas are leading the growth with Asia - Japan excepted - following closely behind. ® Related stories Job fears raised as Demon offshores tech support to India Sending jobs overseas could boost UK economy IBM to outsource thousands of euphemisms
Ashlee Vance, 02 Mar 2004

Computer courses for computerphobes

The British Computer Society (BCS) has introduced a skills course to help people overcome their fear of computers. According to BCS, nearly a third of the UK's population are being left on the sidelines because of a "genuine fear of attempting to use a computer". The new BCS Equalskills course is "non-threatening in its format and structure" and can be accessed via adult education institutes and local training providers. Equalskills is described as the first step on the IT skills ladder, with students then encouraged to move on to the internationally recognised European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) IT qualification, also managed by the BCS in the UK. Said ECDL UK director Pete Bayley: "A great misconception exists that most people are at least familiar with the rudiments of computing and are familiar with popular terms such as 'email' and the 'web'. "But although IT literacy on the whole has increased dramatically in recent years…a serious gap has opened up between the computer literate and illiterate. Equalskills will, I believe, go a long way to help bridge this gap and enable computer novices to become fully involved in the information age." ®
Tim Richardson, 02 Mar 2004
SGI logo hardware close-up

IBM spends big bucks on software push

IBM boss Sam Palmisano will spend more than $1bn to lure software developers back onto IBM software platforms. He wants IBM's software division firing on all cylinders ahead of this year's expected upturn in the global IT market. IBM holds 18 per cent of the middleware market and this will form a key part of the software expansion. It is targeting small developer companies within niche vertical markets. Developers will be offered co-marketing money, free software and developer tools. IBM is particular keen to lure people working on Microsoft's .NET platform. This won't be easy: Microsoft is firmly entrenched in the VAR community, even though, lately, it has been building a big applications software business which competes with some of its reseller customers. IBM has few such issues: it retired hurt from the applications business in 1999 More details are expected to emerge from its Partnerworld conference in Las Vegas. ® Related stories eBay hacker pleads guilty eBay hacker pleads guilty eBay hacker pleads guilty
John Oates, 02 Mar 2004

Businesses: are you tooled up for change?

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Team Register, 02 Mar 2004

London tube gets mobile access

London Underground (LU) is in talks with the four main mobile networks to allow mobile access on the Tube network. Underground networks elsewhere, like Newcastle and Prague, already have full mobile access. But London's 113 mile network of tunnels is likely to be a more challenging project. A spokeswoman for LU said: "This is something we've been thinking about for some time - we've always been restrained by our customers, because they haven't been keen, but that seems to be changing. Most people are in favour of allowing phone use on platforms and public areas but people are less keen on phones being used on trains." LU will trial mobile access in one or two deep-level stations to judge customer demand. The company stresss that this is unlikely to be a big money spinner, and it will be guided by the wishes of its customers. It has not decided what technology to use, but is likely to use the mini aerials, or micro cells, as chosen in Newcastle. ® Related stories Geordies text from underground Citywide 'citizen cards' to hit London London Mayor mulls broadband subsidy Related Products Find your next phone in The Reg mobile store
John Oates, 02 Mar 2004

Rosetta space-bound at third attempt

Rosetta, the £600m comet-chasing probe, lifted off at the third attempt from its launchpad in French Guiana this morning at 08:17 CET. Following a standard ascent - lift-off, booster separation and burn-out of the central core stage of the Ariane 5 rocket - the upper stage entered a prolonged ballistic phase. This was followed by a delayed ignition of almost 17 minutes, two hours after take off. After this burn, Rosetta successfully separated from the upper stage, the European Space Agency reports. It is now on an Earth-escape trajectory, and its next encounter will be with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. Two launches were aborted last week, firstly because of concerns over the weather, and then for urgent repairs to the rocket's fuel tank insulation. Rosetta will soon release four main attachment points securing its payload - the probe Philae. During its 10-year cruise through the solar system, the washing-machine-sized lander will be connected to the spacecraft by a central motor alone. For most of its journey, Rosetta will simply be coasting. Then, in 2011, a last burn will direct it towards its final rendezvous. When it arrives at Churyumov-Gerasimenko three years later, Rosetta will finally release the lander about a kilometer from the comet. Philae then faces a 30-minute trip to the surface. The gravitational field of the comet is very weak, so Philae will touch down at walking pace. Even so, it is equipped with harpoons to secure it to the comet and prevent it bouncing back into space. The experiments will begin almost immediately after landing. The primary phase, which needs battery power, will last for about 60 hours. The secondary phase, powered by solar cells, will continue for approximately three months. ® Related stories Rosetta still earthbound Comet-chasing Rosetta still on launchpad Comet chasers seek secret of life
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Mar 2004

BOFH: We who are about to dial salute you

Episode 7Episode 7 BOFH 2004: Episode 7 It's quiet. Damn quiet. And I like it! Apart from the boredom that is... The PFY's skipped off to an extended lunch with some woman he was "accidentally" stuck in the lift with for a couple of hours yesterday, and I have the place to myself. Peace. Quiet. Boredom. >clickety< >Ring< "My mail's just come up with an error when I send - is there something wrong with the server?" the user whines. "I doubt it, mail's still coming and going like it normally does," I respond, looking at the mailer logs. "Not for me," the user snaps. "Right, so the problem seems to be isolated to you, which means we should ask the technical fault diagnosis questions." "You mean like: 'What has changed?'" he asks. "No, more like: 'Who have you pissed off?'" "What?!" "Did you bring a car to work today?" "Yes." "Cut anyone off?" "No." "Park in someone else's park?" "No." "Fail to hold the lift door open for someone with a geeky look about them?" "No." "Say something nasty - however quietly and discreetly - about a technical support person?" "No." "Laugh when someone else did?" "No." "Date someone that a technical support person has had a recent failed relationship with?" "No." "Date someone that a technical support person is trying to have a failed relationship with?" "What?! No." "Run off at the mouth about some technical standard or the other which you don't subscribe to?" "No." "Push in front of someone at the lunch queue?" "No." "Push in front of someone geeky looking at the pub?" "No." "Spill your beer on someone geeky looking at the pub?" "No." "Only shout half-pints when it was your round at the pub?" "No. And I don't go to the pub anyway." "You don't go to the pub?! That could be it!" "What?!" "Yes, you're right, you're a user and it's next to impossible for a user to offend a technical person with their absence. Nope, you've got me stuffed, I have no idea why your mail client's not working!" "It wouldn't be something to do with the O-something Service pack that the support guy installed this morning would it?" "By service pack you mean something that looks like a cheap electronic clock with a couple of large waxy sticks connected to it by wires?" "What! No, he installed something on my computer." "Right, good point. Open your browser will you?" >clickey< "Ok." "Is your favourites tab full of links to porn sites, and has your hard drive been running non-stop since the 'Service Pack' was installed?" "No, and.. uh.. No." "Hmm. Perhaps they DID install a Service Pack…" "That's what I told you!" he whines again. "Yes yes, well done. What mailer are you using - Outlook Express?" "No, Outlook." "Which is updated by the Office Service Pack, not the OS Service pack." "I...." "Tricky." "Yes, but when will I be able to send my email? It's important!" "Of course it is - all our clients are important to us. Ok, I'll have to give you a call number to track this while I look into it. You'll need to quote this number when you call back, so write it down." "OK." "7PQ8339017B," I say, reading the serial number off my deskphone. "7PQ8339017B." "No, P." "7PQ8339017P?" "No 7PQ8339017B" "That's what I said the first time!" "Ok, read me what you've got?" "7PQ8339017B," he blurts. "Ah, I see the problem, it's 7PQ8339017B!" "That's what I said!" "With one B and one P." "But not in that order," he says. "In what order?" "The BLOODY NUMBER!" he shouts. "7PQ8339017B!" "Look, I can see that you're getting a little upset about this, so why don't I give you a shorter number," I say, calmly. "Right. What?" "17." "17," he repeats. "No 70, 7-0." "70." "And that's a shortcut to the first number?" "Yeah, we don't get that many calls. OK, can you call me back in five minutes?" . . . Five minutes of relaxation later . . . >Ring<

"I'm calling about my call." "Which call was that?" "Call number 70." "Seventy? That's not a call number!" "You said you'd give me a short one, 70!" "Ah. You don't have the 11 digit one do you?" "NNGggg.... Yes, I WROTE it down. 7PQ8339017B." ">clickety< Ah right, you can't get to the website www.screaminglygaycontacts.com. Huh, there's no username logged against it. Hang on, I'll just put yours in. >clickety<" "THAT'S NOT MY CALL!" "Sure it is - it's the number you gave me." "7PQ8339017B?" "uhhhhhh, yeah." "What about 7BQ8339017P?" ">clickety< Ah, user can't send mail. Short call code 17." "Nnnnggggg... Can you take my name off the other call please?" "The first call you logged?" "I DIDN'T LOG IT!!" "Oh, right. Well, I've assigned it to the helpdesk group, so you'll have to talk to them to get them to cancel it." "I DON'T WANT IT CANCELLED, I.." "Just want to get to the website, I know. Although frankly I think you should probably be doing that sort of thing from home..." "IT'S NOT MY BLOODY CALL!" "But you gave me the call number?" "It was the number you gave me when I logged my call!" "About not being able to get to the screamingly gay site. Yes." "No, about my mail!" "Your mail? What mail?" "BASTARDS!" he snaps, slamming the phone down. "Who's bastards?" the PFY asks, back from the pub with a 5 degree lean. "We are, apparently. Guy's mailer won't work." "That the user you blacklisted this morning cos you were bored?" "Probably." "Service Pack Job?" he asks. "I think so." "The CD version?" "He called you a bastard," I murmur. "Not the CD version then. Got any clock batteries?" . . . Boredom. The silent killer. ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 02 Mar 2004

Blaster beats up British business

Half of UK businesses suffered from computer virus infection or denial of services attacks over the last 12 months. This was up from 41 per cent in 2002 and 16 per cent in 2000, The Department of Trade and Industry's 2004 Information Security Breaches Survey reveals. Yet again, computer viruses were the biggest problem. Other key findings from the telephone-based survey of 1,000 firms of all sizes include: Three in four (72 per cent) of all the companies polled had received worms, viruses or Trojans in the last year. For large companies this rises to 83 per cent. Most companies have virus protection - 93 per cent of those surveyed, and 99 per cent of large companies, have AV software in place Despite this, half of UK businesses (and 68 per cent of large companies) suffered from virus infection or denial of services attacks in 2003 Blaster was by far the biggest culprit in these infections. It caused a third of all infections (and over half of those in large companies) Of companies who admitted any kind of security breach, two in three said virus infection was the main culprit Damage from virus incidents varied from less than a day's disruption and no cost to major disruption to services for a month or more. Preliminary findings from the study show that only a third of businesses store their back-ups off-site, and less than 20 per cent back-up their desktops. And only eight per cent have tested their disaster-recovery plans to see if they would work in practice. Full survey findings will be announced at the InfoSecurity Europe conference in London in April. ® Related stories E-crime costs UK business billions UK plc reamed online UK plc leaves door open to hackers - report UK firms flop in the data back-up department External Links DTI Information Security Breaches Survey home page
John Leyden, 02 Mar 2004

IBM lobbies Sun in open source Java debate

The controversy surrounding the open sourcing of Java continues unabated, writes Bloor Research analyst Robin Bloor. Printed below is an open letter from Rod Smith (VP, Emerging Technogies, IBM Software Group) to Sun, suggesting that it should be made available to the open source community. Officially, the letter was sent to Sun's Chief Engineer Rob Gingell. The text has been very slightly edited: Hi Rob, This is an open letter to Sun. I read a eWeek (February 5th) article in which Simon Phipps (Chief Technology Evangelist at Sun) was quoted on open source Java with quite a bit of interest. In the article, Simon asked "Why hasn't IBM given its implementation of Java to the open-source community?" I'm sure you recall the discussion we had over dinner in December around open sourcing Java. Simon's comment appears to be an offer to jointly work towards this common goal. IBM is a strong supporter of the open source community and we believe that a first class open source Java implementation would further enhance Java's position in the industry by spurring growth of new applications and encouraging new innovation in the Java platform. Here is the offer: IBM would like to work with Sun on an independent project to open source Java. Sun's strong commitment to open source Java would speed the development of a first class and compatible open source Java implementation to the benefit of our customers and the industry. IBM is ready to provide technical resources and code for the open source Java implementation while Sun provides the open source community with Sun materials including Java specifications, tests and code. We are firmly convinced the open source community would rally around this effort and make substantial contributions as well. This would be a very exciting step for IBM and Sun. I am convinced that the creation of an open source implementation of the Java environment would be of enormous importance to the developer community and our industry's collective customers. It would open a whole world of opportunity for new applications and growth of the Java community. In addition, this would accelerate the growth and adoption of technologies that are built on Java and are critical to our customers today, including Web services and Service Oriented Architecture. The reply from Rob Gingell - again, very slightly edited - reads: Rod What this means, according to IBM, is that IBM is willing to discuss open sourcing a subset of the Java language infrastructure, run time, and libraries (but not the whole of WebSphere). In our view, this is an excellent idea, and something along these lines needs to happen in some way. Java has become the de facto development language of choice and while Sun, IBM, BEA and others need to keep hold of some of their proprietary software development jewels, open sourcing part of the Java platform makes eminent sense. The problem is that IBM and Sun compete heavily with each other, so an Open Source arrangement that suits them both is difficult to arrive at. Also, once you let the Open Source genie out of the bottle, it will be impossible to get it back in. The Java issue is particularly difficult for Sun, who, after all, gave the world Java, but had to tread a narrow line to popularize it without giving it away completely. Sun never reaped as much of the benefit that it had hoped for, but it did make Java stick. It will be interesting to see whether Simon Phipps, or anyone else at Sun responds to IBM's challenge. © IT-Analysis.com
IT-Analysis, 02 Mar 2004

EA president piles into N-Gage

Electronic Arts president and COO John Riccitiello has described Nokia's N-Gage system as a "dog" and further stated that software shipments on it have been "non-meaningful". "When I picked that thing up I knew it was a dog - it just feels stupid," Riccitiello told news agency Reuters in an interview last week, before reportedly mimicking the difficulties presented in using the awkwardly-shaped system as a phone. The criticism is all the more damaging for Nokia because EA is actually a key supporter of the N-Gage on the software front, with the Finnish mobile giant hoping that games such as FIFA 2004 will help to improve the game deck's fortunes. Riccitiello said that unit shipments of EA's titles on the N-Gage have been "non-meaningful" to date - suggesting that regardless of hardware sales, software sales for the device are extremely weak. However, he was adamant that Nokia should not be counted out of the games industry just because of the problems with the N-Gage system - which Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila admitted last week was not living up to sales expectations. "Nokia will figure it out," Riccitiello commented, "it's just that they haven't figured it out yet." He described Nokia as one of the best design engineering companies he knew, and stated his belief that it will eventually succeed in the games industry. Copyright © 2004, GamesIndustry.biz Related stories Nokia 'fesses up to poor N-Gage sales Key US retailer drops N-Gage from 450 stores Reg review: Nokia N-Gage
gamesindustry.biz, 02 Mar 2004

UK Govt should do more for broadband

The Government should do more to ensure that all of the UK - and not just towns and cities - is hooked up to affordable broadband services. That's one of the suggestions put forward in a report Always on, Changing Britain published by communications thinktank, The European Media Forum (EMF), which examines the social and economic potential of broadband in the UK Sponsored by BT, the report consists of essays from the likes of e-minister Stephen Timms, the information commissioner Richard Thomas and BT futurologist Ian Pearson. Sociologist Professor Frank Furedi reckons that Governments should play a more active role in the universal provision of Internet infrastructure. "The aim should be to secure broadband access on fair terms and at competitive prices to all communities regardless of location. The British government has set the target for having 100 per cent broadband coverage by 2005. However this is likely to require more than exhortation to reach all the one in six of the population that are at present not served by DSL or cable access," he writes. And he reckons that the UK could learn a thing or two by looking at how other countries have approached the roll-out of broadband. "For example, the South Korean government's system of backing for the rapid dispersal of high speed residential cabling cannot be replicated exactly in the UK, but relevant lessons should be assessed by government and could be applied here." Last month, that tack was effectively ruled out by Ofcom boss David Currie who insisted that the Government should rely on good-old competition to deliver true broadband services. "We do not 'do' state monopolies well in this country," he told delegates at a conference. "So we should be just as wary of putting all our eggs in one basket in broadband as we are in other areas of economic activity. We have to work with our capital markets and our system. Competition. Let's harness Adam Smith. Our vision has to be that we have to get to 10 Mb, competitively." Elsewhere, Professor Furedi argues that email, instant messaging and chatrooms have "brought about ways of maintaining social relationships, which already has had profound effects". "While internet communication has partially displaced some existing forms of social contact - letter writing, phone calls - the more important effect has been to create many more linkages between people," he wrote, leading to new social practices such as online communities. ® Related Story UK fixated with ADSL roll-out - Ofcom
Tim Richardson, 02 Mar 2004

HP gets deeper into DRM

HP has licensed digital content protection technology from Intel. The printer giant is also working with Philips to make copy protection technology. HP CEO Carly Fiorina signalled the move in January when she used her speech at the Consumer Electronics Show to attack file sharers. Intel's technology protects video streams as they travel between devices such as a computer and a display screen, Reuters reports. HP is working with Philips on protecting digital video content in compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. A code is added to content which controls how or if it can be re-broadcast or copied. The companies have submitted the technology to the FCC and hope it will be approved for DVD-R and DVD-RW formats, among others. ® Related stories HP declares war on sharing cultureHP goes after UK Sun clan HP grabs two more software makers
John Oates, 02 Mar 2004

Chancellor wants nation of boffins

The Government is to spend more money on making the UK a better place to do science. But how much more? The FT, which splashed the authorised-looking leak on its front page today, isn't saying. Perhaps Treasury spin doctors want to keep something back until chancellor Gordon Brown meets members of the scientific establishment today. He is to announce a review of the state of scientific endeavour in the UK, and outline plans to make the sector one of the most "attractive locations for science and innovation", the paper says. The UK has budgeted £3bn of investment on science and engineering in 2005-6. We may have to wait for the next Budget - on 17 March - to see how much rhetoric translates into hard cash. The news comes at a time of crisis in scientific education in the UK. Fewer students than ever are opting to study maths at a higher level. A government inquiry found that to sustain current levels of staff, half of all Maths graduates will have to go into teaching. Professor Smith, author of the report, is one of the scientists who will meet Brown today. Treasury beancounters acknowledge that Brown's plans wil not come cheap. They are looking a various ways of raising the extra cash, such as tax breaks for companies and new ways to support science in schools. The government also wants to encourage partnerships between academia and business, to turn pure science into products and commerce. ® Related stories Universities cash in on IP DTI's £50m bet on Nanotech
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Mar 2004

So how does Avecho's AV work?

ReviewReview UK-based email filtering firm Avecho is something of the enfant terrible of the anti-virus world. Since forming 18 months ago, it has consistently attacked the scanner approach and business model of traditional AV firms. Avecho argues that relying on scanning or heuristics (automatic detection) as a reliable method to protect against viral infection is doomed to failure. Instead, it has developed a signature-free anti-virus service - which combined with an anti-spam filter - promises to provide a "worry-free email service" from between £1 to £2.50 per in-box a month. The service is cheapest for customers who defect from rival services, such as MessageLabs. Avecho started selling its services to small businesses before expanding into the enterprise and ISP market approximately a year ago. Black box technology remains a mystery Like MessageLabs, Avecho's Web-based service aims to stop all spam messages and email viruses before they reach a customer's network. MessageLabs uses a series of three AV scanners from leading suppliers along with its own heuristic scanner, Skeptic, to detect infected messages. Avecho is not prepared to say how its GlassWall technology works, beyond claiming its server-based approach provides "absolute protection" from all email viruses. Avecho's marketing claims ("100 per cent protection", etc.) frequently come across as more than a little strident. Company sales execs are probably capable of talking varnish off a chair leg. But what of the substance? Avecho execs say they could tell us how the technology works, but then they'd have to kill us. Couldn't they explain it a bit and just rough us up, we asked? No, not even that. Road test So, instead of a slapping, Avecho gave us the use of a trial account, which we've used intermittently since last July. The anti-virus filtering side of the equation has always worked well, but it's only since Avecho gave us more control over spam filtering that we've been able to get the most out of the service. Setting up Avecho's Web-based service was straightforward and akin to setting up any new Web-based email account. Once users have put in their details and paid via a secure server, they're able to administer the account. Depending on the type of service, administrators can set up a number of email accounts. Email to existing email accounts can be re-routed to these new accounts using Avecho's Postman mail collection facility. Multiple legacy email accounts can be re-routed through Avecho's filtering service in this way. Users can define how frequently email is checked. Once the passwords and account details entered through this process are verified, users can pick up their email directly from the Web or via a desktop email client. Tune up Our experience suggests most users will have to fine-tune the spam filtering aspect of the service, although Avecho's virus-busting technology needs no adjustment. The virusCENSOR (filtering) part of the Avecho.com service is fixed and requires no configuration. Avecho's GlassWall technology will not allow executable and binary files such as applications and installers to be received. However, an administrator can allow users to receive these files. In such cases, files will have passed only through a traditional AV scanner, but not GlassWall. The blocking options in spamCENSOR are trickier. Blocking options range from denying email to anyone not on a clean list, to allowing anything that isn't on a user's dirty list. We found the "allow any email unless the sender is blocked in my address book, or is in a public dirty list" option - which is less strict than the default setting - worked best for us. Additionally, users can choose to reject image-only emails. When we first tried the service, Avecho treated anything sent by blind carbon copy as spam. This crude rule meant all the press releases received through the account were automatically quarantined. Yes, we could retrieve them but the service became more trouble than it was worth, so we stopped using it. Since November, Avecho has let users to specify they are happy to receive bcc emails. Which is nice. As a result, false positives have dropped from a thumping 20 per cent when we first used the service to around one per cent. With the filtering sorted out we've been able to use the option of having Avecho quarantine suspected spam emails with a summary every 24 hours. The frequency of this summary email is user-defined. This is an elegant approach. Instead of wading through scores of emails looking for a false positive there is only one to worry about. If the sender and subject line on a quarantined email looks legit it can be retrieved at the click of a button. Some spam messages do evade Avecho's filter but using the service restricts their number to less than ten a day from more than 200 we'd receive in just one account (sans filtering). That's not quite as good as Spam Assassin but pretty close and some of the other features to Avecho's service make it a good choice, particularly for small businesses. Holding back the viral tsunami The email addresses of Reg hacks are widely published across the Net. The downside is that we get carpet-bombed by every mass mailer that scours infected users' PCs for fresh victims. We're normally among the first to see mass mailers and Avecho's service did block a variety of such nasties before AV signature definition files were available. We're confident that - as advertised - no email viruses reached us through Avecho's service in all the time we've used it. That's pretty good, but the service is far from perfect. Firstly there were a number of false virus positives. In one instance, I forwarded a set of three emails to my home address - which had already passed through Glasswall - to a second email account. They were blocked. What's more, Avecho - like most AV vendors - insists on sending an email every time it catches a virus. Why not simply send a single email summarising emails blocked by virusCENSOR as with the spam summary? Avecho is poor at filtering out auto-responder messages, which are a particular problem during outbreaks such as SoBig and MyDoom. You don't get infected, but you still get the tidal wave of spam associated with the epidemic. To wrap up the niggles, another inconvenience: email collection from third-party accounts via Avecho became troublesome during SoBig last August. I fairness this was far less of a problem during last month's (even more) prolific MyDoom outbreak. Improving - but not there yet Everybody, if they're honest, would admint that anti-spam technology is immature. Avecho deserves credit for letting us look at the service - warts and all. Last summer we'd have said the anti-spam aspect of the service had serious shortcomings. Now, with further development, Avecho is worth serious consideration. One neat trick with the Avecho service is the ability to retrieve any email sent to the account from an email vault even if it's been deleted or lost from a user's PC. The availability of Avecho's website during the trial period was excellent and download times speedy. One of the advantages of using a Web-based approach is that email can be retrieved far more quickly than if you use a desktop-based spam filtering package. The company is one of the few security firms to tailor its offering to small businesses where it should prove a winner. Enterprise and ISPs might also find the service attractive, although much here would depend on administrator functions which we did not test. ® Pros Protection from email viruses without signature updates Easy-to-use Web-based approach Fast email downloads Tailored to the needs of SMEs Email retrieval Cons Improving - but still far from perfect - spam filtering False positives
John Leyden, 02 Mar 2004

PlusNet throws strop at BT cheapest broadband claim

Sheffield-based ISP Plusnet has blasted BT for misleading punters over the cost of its new "no frills" basic service. BT Openworld boss Duncan Ingram was asked on a BBC radio show yesterday: "This [BT Broadband Basic] isn't going to make you the cheapest is it?" Mr Ingram replied: "It's certainly going to make us the cheapest for a full broadband experience, which is ten times faster. Quite a lot of all the other lower-priced services you talk to, are offering perhaps at best double normal dial-up, or perhaps two or three times." However, the remark has angered PlusNet, which has got the hump over Mr Ingram's assertion that the launch of BT Broadband Basic "makes us [BT] the cheapest for a full broadband experience". The ISP, with more than 50,000 broadband punters, has already pointed out that it has been offering a full, uncapped 512k service for the last 20 months. And at £18.99 a month with up-front costs of £59.99, it is considerably cheaper than BT's basic service. Marco Potesta, PlusNet's marketing director, said: "We're miffed that they are ignoring us in the competitive landscape. We want BT to acknowledge that there are viable alternatives to its basic service." A BT spokesman declined to comment when asked to clarify Ingram's claims. BT launched its no-frills, capped, strings-attached basic product yesterday. The headline figure of £19.99 a month grabbed the spotlight, but it didn't take long before rivals turned on BT by claiming it is misleading punters. With up-front costs of £80, the service is more expensive than full 512k services from many ISPs. One industry insider told us: " Consumers may not find this very compelling once they look beyond the headline monthly price, particularly as it lacks the free firewall, anti-virus, features and content offered by some other providers." ® Related stories Rival ISPs rubbish BT Broadband Basic BT touts £20 capped broadband
Tim Richardson, 02 Mar 2004

Tiscali names new chief exec

Tiscali has named former World Online finance bigwig Ruud Huisman to succeed Renato Soru as chief exec of the Italy-based pan-European ISP. Huisman's appointment still needs the green light when shareholders meet in April. Until then, he will act as Tiscali's managing director. Huisman has been CEO of Tiscali Benelux and Scandinavia and member of the Executive Committee of Tiscali since October 2002. He comes from World Online International in the Netherlands, which he joined in 1998, first as COO and later as CFO. After Tiscali's takeover of World Online in 2000, Huisman helped to integrate the business into the Tiscali Group. Soru is stepping aside to pursue a career in politics. He will remain executive chairman of the board of directors of the company. ® Related Stories Tiscali mulls sale of some country ops Broadband helps Tiscali narrow loss Tiscali racks up 1m broadband users
Tim Richardson, 02 Mar 2004

Brocade and Quantum toot their own horns

Brocade and Quantum moved this week to do some damage control by dangling favorable analyst reports in front of the press. Over the past year, Brocade has been beaten up from time to time in the SAN (storage area network) switch game for falling behind rivals McData and Cisco. The main complaints stemmed from users who were upset that Brocade did not roll out new and improved kit at the same pace as competitors. But on Tuesday, Brocade highlighted a report from TheInfoPro which placed the vendor top of the SAN switch food chain in terms of customer satisfaction. "Brocade was rated highest overall among switch vendors on TheInfoPro's proprietary Fulfillment Index, a composite summary of user ratings based on product quality, solution customization, delivery on vendor promises, technical support, and sales force quality," Brocade said. "Brocade also received the highest rating among switch vendors for product quality. In addition, end users rated Brocade as "excellent" in reputation, product quality, interoperability, and delivery on vendor promises." The TheInfoPro study polled 1,000 end users during the fourth quarter of 2003. Brocade is moving to diffuse negative attacks against it, especially as SAN switch newcomer Cisco heats up its attack. Overall, Brocade is a clear leader in the SAN switch market and is trying its best to hold onto this position. The new study bodes well for Brocade in 2004, if the company can deliver on new kit. Struggling Quantum has a more daunting image reparation task ahead of it. The company has been losing a fair bit of cash and reorganizing its structure as slow tape drive sales have hurt Quantum's bottom line. But things could be on the up and up for Quantum, according to new research from Freeman Reports. Shipments of Quantum SDLT tape drives surged 36 per cent year-on-year in 2003, according to the research firm. "Quantum's growth in SDLT tape drive unit shipments represents significant gains that defy a challenging economic year as experienced by the data storage industry as a whole," said Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, in a Quantum statement. "The demand for SDLT tape drives demonstrates broad customer support for the technology and can be attributed to reliability and backward-read compatibility." Quantum gave a plug for the sexy, new SDLT 600, saying it should help increase sales in the coming year. ® Related stories Quantum trims workforce for the holidays Quantum pulls back Q2 forecast on slow tape sales Quantum shows heart-pounding tape drive Storage switch users place McData and Cisco ahead of Brocade
Ashlee Vance, 02 Mar 2004

El Reg in 419 glut scandal

DAER friEND, you will be SurPRise to hear my letter, as I AM NOT know to you. pleASE help me i TRUST you. I have in bank accoutn many 419 stories, with a value of at least $19,0000,00,000. However some, people think I have too many and want me to stop. I NEED YOUR help to get my 419 STORIES out of my country. I enclose following picture as proof of sincerity. GOD BLESS YOU. PLEASE SEND BANK DETAILS AND PRIVATE PHONE/ADDRESSS TO ME AND I WILL GIVE YOU 10% OF THESE 419 STORIES as thanks for you HELP. Apologies to Dave Holland, who wrote in: please! I'm all for a bit of a laugh but do you have to cover every tiny detail? dave Thanks for the artwork, Dave. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 02 Mar 2004

Intel adds more muscle to Xeon MP

Intel's high-end Xeon processor received a pair of improvements on Tuesday with the chip's clock speed reaching 3.0GHz and a large cache being added on the product. The new Xeon MP - code-named Gallatin - is aimed at the multiprocessor server market and particularly at servers with four processors. The 3.0GHz, 4MB cache version of the chip can boost some software by up to 25 percent over the previous high-end model, running at 2.8GHz with 2MB of cache, Intel said. As with any new Xeon chip, a number of server makers such as Dell, HP and IBM are expected to roll out systems with the product at a quick clip. Intel held a conference call in tandem with research firm Thomson Financial to promote the product's performance. Jeremy Lehman, SVP of technology at Thomson Financial, said his company has been moving to replace SPARC/Solaris systems from Sun Microsystems with Intel-based gear for some time now. "The real reason is because (Intel) delivered the results we needed," he said. Lehman added that he felt less locked into a single vendor by picking Intel-based servers. This points to Intel's aggressive moves against Sun and IBM to creep into the higher-end of the server market. Intel dominates the workstation and two processor server space but has had a tough time cracking the four processor and above segment of the market. It's these multiprocessor systems that account for the majority of server revenue. Intel hopes to make a strong charge against Sun and IBM next quarter with a new version of Xeon - code-named Nocona - aimed at the one and two processor server space. This will be the first chip from Intel to contain 64-bit extensions. Intel followed rival AMD with this type of technology after bashing it in favor of the 64-bit Itanium chip for several years. A Xeon MP with 64-bit extensions won't arrive until 2005. This chip - code-named Potomac - will be the follow on to Gallatin. The new 3.0GHz Xeon MP is priced at $3,692 in 1,000-unit-quantities. ® Related stories Gartner analyst explains HP and Itanium leanings Tell us why this is a Land of Confusion Intel and HP color self-preservation as customer choice
Ashlee Vance, 02 Mar 2004

Dell CEO confirms line of Opteron waiters

Dell Inc. plans to roll out a fleet of Opteron-based waiters to sit alongside Xeon-based servers, according to a report out of France. Last week, trusted French trade publication 01net published an interview with Michael Dell in which the CEO contradicted past positions regarding AMD's Opteron processor. The story was titled: "Michael Dell: 'We will launch soon waiters containing processors AMD.'" Okay, the waiters part comes from a Babelfish translation that uses an accurate although perhaps too literal translation of server. We turned to a charming French expert to get the real skinny on Dell's plans. Michael Dell: First of all, I think taking the x86 architecture and extending it to 64-bits is a great idea. But AMD isn't the only vendor doing that anymore. Intel is also doing it. We will offer servers using x86 processors with 64-bit extensions even before compatible software becomes available. Now to the question of whether or not it makes sense to offer both Intel and AMD servers in our portfolio, the answer is clearly yes. Was Mikey hitting the champers too hard? How else can you explain this sudden change of heart. During Intel's Xeon (now enhanced) launch, Dell representatives said they had no plans to offer Opteron gear even though they have been testing the processor for some time. Dell often likes to play rivals off of each other in the press, suggesting a love for Linux or Opteron where appropriate. This seems to be a reminder to the Wintel mob to stay in line. Dell will be rolling out servers based on Intel's 64-bit chip technology next quarter. At present, it's the only major server vendor not to back Opteron in some form. That is unless you believe Michael Dell. ® Related links Interview in French Interview in Babelfish Related stories Intel and HP color self-preservation as customer choice Who sank Itanic?h Dell stays strong in Q4
Ashlee Vance, 02 Mar 2004