14th > April > 2004 Archive

Intel shrugs off Intergraph for strong Q1

Intel pulled out a solid first quarter despite taking hits for legal costs and a slowdown in processor sales. Intel reported $8.1bn in revenue for the quarter. This is down 7 per cent from last quarter but is up 20 per cent compared to the same quarter last year. First quarter net income came in at $1.7bn - an 89 per cent year-over-year gain. "Intel's first quarter results showed healthy growth in both revenue and earnings compared to a year ago, led by improvement in worldwide IT spending," said Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive officer. "We ramped our 90nm process into high volume with the launch of several new desktop processors, and plan to substantially increase shipments in the second quarter including our first mobile and server products." Intel felt the pain of its $225m settlement with Intergraph over patent infringement claims, taking a $162m charge in the first quarter. Intel will spread the remaining $63m over the next five years. Other negatives in the quarter included sequentially lower processor, chipset and motherboard sales. Although, with its Xbox processor sales included, Intel did see a rise in the average selling price of its processors. Looking at year-over-year numbers, Intel did quite well. Its core processor business generated $5.98bn compared to $4.86bn in last year's Q1. Chipset and motherboard revenue went up as well from $912m to $1.05bn. And even flash memory revenues went up from $409m to $417m. Still, Intel did see a slowdown from its stunning fourth quarter performance. This is not a huge surprise given that most companies perform best in their fourth quarter. But given the increase in IT spending and the positive news from Intel partner Dell, one might have expected slightly better unit sales from Intel. Investors appeared unmoved by the results, sending Intel shares down less than 2 per cent in the after-hours markets, at the time of this report. ® Related link Intel's Q1 results Related stories AMD gives up processor profits to Intergraph Intel launches Bulverde, Marathon Intel offices raided in Japan on bad biz concerns Dell ups Q1 forecast on overseas boom Intel cribbed x86-64 tech 'from AMD documents'
Ashlee Vance, 14 Apr 2004

Unix fiends attack universities

A number of research institutions and high performance computing hubs have come under attack with software miscreants performing "sophisticated" attacks on Solaris and Linux boxes. Stanford University last week issued a notice about the assaults, posting a rich explanation of how the coders have cracked the Unix systems. "An unknown attacker (or group) has compromised numerous multi-user Solaris and Linux computers on Stanford's campus using a variety of mechanisms," the notice said. "In most cases, the attacker gets access to a machine by cracking or sniffing passwords. Local user accounts are escalated to root privileges by triggering a variety of local exploits, including the do_brk() and mremap() exploits on Linux and the sadmind, arbitrary kernel loading modules and passwd vulnerabilities on Solaris." Surprisingly, a Slashdot discussion about the attacks steered clear of Microsoft conspiracy theories. A plot to damage the good names of Solaris and Linux is not to blame for the attacks but rather poor patching policies. Fixes to block the attacks have been available for some time. Stanford has urged admins to bring their systems up to date. ® Related stories Auditing the mind of a hacker Stopping the enemy at the gate The perils of Googling Homeland insecurity starts at home
Ashlee Vance, 14 Apr 2004

Foreign workers dominate Dell

Dell is doing its part to create jobs in the US, but it's doing an even better job creating jobs overseas. In a recent SEC filing, Dell revealed that 23,800 of its 46,000 employees are currently working outside of US shores. That leaves just 22,200 workers at home. And even though only 36 per cent of its revenue comes from overseas sales, Dell plans to increase the non-US workforce at a rapid rate. "Dell believes that its ability to attract and retain qualified personnel is critical to its success and achievement of its business plan," the company said in the SEC filing. "Workforce diversity is an essential part of Dell's commitment to quality and the future of Dell." "Dell has recently established technical and customer support and related operations in India, Panama, Slovakia, Morocco, and China and intends to continue such efforts in other regions throughout the world as its international business continues to expand. Dell also recently established design centers in China and Taiwan." While Dell presents a rosy pictures of its overseas aspirations, it has run into problems with foreign call center operators that have yet to master the Texan twang. Last year, Dell was forced to shut down corporate call centers in India after a flood of complaints. Here in Australia a number of loyal Dell consumer customers have complained to El Reg about impossible calls to Malaysia. But, hey, they work cheap. Dell's tip toward a majority of foreign staffers could not come at a worse time for CEO Michael Dell's chums in the Republican Party. The Bush Boys are feeling the heat for a largely jobless economic recovery, which is the last thing you need in an election year. But it would be hard to fault Dell for not doing his part for the Party. Since 2000, Dell has handed out $706,500 almost exclusively to Republican officials and organizations. (See List) The folks in Dell's favor include George W., AG Ashcroft, the charming Every Republican is Crucial PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority and "those wild and crazy gays" Rick Santorum. Dell even donated money to his own company at times, according to the figures. So take it easy on Dell for not doing its part in this jobless recovery. After all, we hear the next Dell Dude auditions are all the rage in Bratislava. ® Related stories Offshore IT jobs = higher employment German chancellor attacks unpatriotic offshoring Bush backtracks on offshore czar post US Senate takes protectionist stance One in six Silicon Valley tech jobs ripe for offshoring IBM to aid American ethos with human capital fund
Ashlee Vance, 14 Apr 2004

Apple speeds budget Mac

Apple has speed-bumped the bargain basement Macintosh originally aimed at schools. The eMac was last refreshed in May 2003. Both new models of the CRT eMac now feature 1.25GHz G4 processors, up from 1Ghz, and improved graphics cards with ATI's Radeon 9200 superseding the 7500 card. US prices are $799 for the 40GB CD-RW model and $999 for the 80GB model with Superdrive. European prices reflect an escalating mark-up. With current exchange rates that should work out as €670 and €837, or £440 and £550. But it doesn't. Instead Apple is charging £549 and £649, a tax for British buyers of 24 per cent and 18 per cent, or 21 per cent for the €799 low-end eMac. If you're in the UK and you're after a 15" PowerBook with Superdrive, it's once again cheaper to fly to New York and buy it there: the price difference is £568. ® Related stories Latest eMacs sound death knell for original iMac Apple updates eMac to 1GHz Apple launches eMac for the rest of us So, farewell then, original iMac
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Apr 2004

Apple ups eMac spec, cuts prices

Apple updated its CRT-based all-in-one desktop, the eMac, yesterday, bumping up the machine's specs. and knocking up to £150 and $100 off the price while it was at it. Every eMac sports a 17in, 1280 x 960 display, a 1.25GHz G4-class Power PC processor with 512KB of on-die L2 cache, 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, up from a 1GHz and 128MB of 266MHz DDR, respectively. The memory upgrade comes courtesy of a frontside bus speed boost, from 133MHz to 167MHz. Both high- and low-end models include a 32MB ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card (up from a Radeon 7500), three USB 2.0 ports (the previous versions had USB 1.1) and two 400MBps Firewire ports. They continue to offer built-in Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem. The low-end machine still contains a 40GB ATA-100 hard drive and combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical unit, but the price is now £549 including VAT, down from £649. In the US, the price remains unchanged, at $799. The high-end model still features Apple's DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive - this time in a 8x rather than 4x model - and 80GB ATA-100 hard drive, for the reduced price of £699 here and $999 in the US, representing £150 and $100 cuts, respectively. None of the machines offer integrated Wi-Fi, but this can be added as a build-to-order option, along with up to 1GB of memory, and 80GB and 160GB hard drives. An internal Bluetooth module is also available. Education buyers can also select an eMac without an optical drive, but Apple did not provide pricing for that version. ® Related stories Latest eMacs sound death knell for original iMac Apple updates eMac to 1GHz Apple launches eMac for the rest of us So, farewell then, original iMac
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

IBM buys disaster recovery biz

IBM has bought Schlumberger's business continuity division for an undisclosed sum. The deal gives IBM 40 new recovery sites and an extra 10, 000 seats in Europe and the US. Schlumberger Business Continuity Services (SBCS) has long-term contracts with 750 clients. Terms of the deal were not given. The unit will be rolled into IBM's Global Services and 260 staff from SBCS will move across.The unit was the last remnant of Sema which oil services giant Schlumberger bought in April 2001 for $5bn. The rest of Sema was picked up by Atos Origin in January 2004. Atos Origin is providing IT services for the Athens Olympics. IBM said the deal will complement and expand its continuity services. It expects the market for data backup and disaster recovery to grow with the arrival of data protection regulations Basel II and Sabanes-Oxley. ® Related stories Schlumberger Sema: UK eHealth market poised for substantial growth Atos Origin: tough turnaround for Sema Atos Origin buys Sema
John Oates, 14 Apr 2004

UK gov's IT CIO is dumb idea, says likely appointee

The government's appointment of an IT chief is flawed, according to the man most observers see as the front runner for the job. The British government wants a chief information officer to replace e-envoy Andrew Pindar; and favourite for the new role is Richard Granger, who is currently IT chief for the NHS. The post would oversee all government procurement and, hopefully, help the government to avoid any more IT disasters. But Granger, already the UK's highest paid civil servant, thinks the job "lacks clout", according to the Financial Times. He is understood to have said that the job does not have enough power to stop more mistakes being made in the future. Granger told the paper: "I have made some comments about how the role could be more delivery-focused." Other than saying he was "happy doing what I am doing for the moment" he made no other public comment. The advert for the government IT chief first appeared at the end of February with the tag line "the most influential role in UK IT". Granger's success at the NHS is touted by the government as a successful strategy that could be replicated elsewhere. NHS officials want Granger to stay, but his job was split at the end of last month when Aidan Halligan was appointed joint director general of NHS IT. ® Related stories NHS chief mooted as UK's IT 'CIO' NHS IT a wonderful thing NHS EDS to sue NHS over nixed email deal
John Oates, 14 Apr 2004

Sony preps slimline 5mp digicam

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Sony will ship is latest ultra-slim five-megapixel digicam in Japan on 29 April, the consumer electronics giant said today. The CyberShot DSC-T11 follows on from the slimline T1 announced last October. At 186g to 180g, the new model is slightly heavier and slightly longer, too: 10.3cm to the T1's 9.1cm, largely thanks to the addition of a curved strap attachment at one end. However, the T11 is thinner - just 1.7cm to the T1's 2.1cm. Like its predecessor, the T11 sports a 2.5in LCD and a F3.5-4.4 Carl Zeiss lens with 3x optical zoom. Inside is a 5.3-megapixel CCD capable of taking a 2592 x 1944 image. It can also handle 640×480 video at 30fps, encoded in MPEG-1 format. Sony claims the "hybrid" LCD offers much better viewing characteristics in bright lighting conditions. Sony claims the camera's imaging processor allows shots to be grabbed and stored within 0.042s of the shutter being pressed. Pictures are be stored on MemoryStick Pro Duo cards, and transferred to a computer via the camera's built-in USB 2.0 port. The same port can connect the digicam directly to a one of Sony's digital photo printers. The camera ships with a USB cradle/battery recharger. The T11 ships with a removable rechargeable battery. The T11 will ship on 29 April for ¥58,000 ($544). Sony will ship the DSC-P100 on the same date, in silver, blue and red cases, followed by the four megapixel DSC-P43 and DSC-P73 on 28 and 14 May, respectively. Between those two, on 21 May, Sony will ship the DSC-W1 in silver and black versions. Like the T11, the P100 (left) and W1 (right) contain 5.3-megapixel CCDs, with F2.8-5.2 lenses offering 3x optical zoom facilities. The compact P100 has a 1.8in LCD, but the W1 sports a 2.5in job. The two weigh 183g and 250g, respectively and measure 10.8 x 5.2 x 2.7cm and 9 x 6 x 3.6cm. The 4.2-megapixel P43 (below, left)and P73 sport a 3x digital zoom and 3x optical zoom, respectively. The former has a fixed F=5mm (33mm) lens, the latter an F=6-18mm (39-117mm) job. Both feature a 1.5in LCD viewfinder. They weight 195g and 236g, respectively, and measure 10.1 x 5.4 x 3.6cm and 11.7 x 5.4 x 3.6cm. Prices for the P100, P43, P73 and W1 have yet to be set. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

Offshore analysts speak with forked tongue

As the political backlash over the wholesale movement of IT services and business process outsourcing jobs to cheaper labor markets gathers pace, those with the most to gain from offshoring are keeping very quiet. Many companies considering an offshore strategy are very reticent to reveal their plans because they are wary of a backlash from consumers and their soon-to-be-redundant workforce... One BPO vendor recently said at a conference that as these companies go to ground, they are leaving the vendors to take the flak. But now vendors have joined them in a virtual vow of silence, and are trying to deny that moving work to lower cost countries should be called offshore at all. For example, an IBM spokesperson recently said that IBM does not do "offshoring" because it is a global company and has always had operations in places such as India. Such doublespeak is already rife in the industry, and the use of the word "offshore" is often replaced. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young calls it "Rightshore", Computer Horizons and EDS both use "Bestshore", and BearingPoint calls it "Anyshore", for example. A measure of silence The National Association of Software and Service Companies recently told its members that they would be better off keeping quiet about offshoring until after the US election. It has also come to our attention that contracts are being signed but not disclosed. In addition, conference organisers have started to bar journalists from their outsourcing events as a result of pressure from attendees and speakers who want to discuss their cost-cutting schemes in private. Those that we have attended have been curious affairs, involving a series of vendors announcing the amazing cost benefits of offshore outsourcing, followed by a series of customers trying to explain that "it's not just about cost-cutting". We've heard managers speak of how Indian employees "love doing repetitive tasks", how cutting 1,000 jobs in Ohio gave one call-centre manager a "fantastic opportunity to move up the value chain to project management", and how touched one executive was by the maturity of his staff training up Indian counterparts to replace them for a third of their wages. No one mentions Kevin Flanagan, the Bank of America employee who shot himself after he lost his job in an outsourcing initiative. Arguments for and against Occasionally the infamous McKinsey report gets wheeled out, which claims that for every US $1 spent on offshore jobs, the US economy gets $1.12 back, but everyone knows the benefits of the $1.12 don't go to the same people that benefited from the $1 in the first place. A consequence of all this cowardice is that much of the great outsourcing debate is never aired - such as the behaviour the public can expect from multinationals, the rights of less powerful nations to utilise free trade to their own advantages for once, and the alleviation of poverty through the economic investment and jobs brought to developing nations. Minor points, we know, especially when $0.01 earnings per share is at stake, but it would make the debate a bit more interesting if Nasscom and outsourcing vendors would at least stand up and fight. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related stories Offshore IT jobs = higher employment Bush backtracks on offshore czar post One in six Silicon Valley tech jobs ripe for offshoring US Senate takes protectionist stance
Datamonitor, 14 Apr 2004
DVD it in many colours

IBM sells off low-end PowerPC chips

IBM last night sold two of its PowerPC processor lines and a licence for the PowerPC instruction set to Applied Micro Circuits for $227m in cash and a renewed foundry commitment. The deal, announced last night, focuses on three low-end (133-400MHz) parts pitched at embedded applications, the 400 series and the 440 family, amounting to some eight 32-bit CPUs in total. Some have on-chip SDRAM, others have built-in Ethernet controllers. All consume no more than 2W and in many cases a lot less than that. All eight chips are fabbed at 250nm, and IBM's foundries will continue to punch them out on Applied's behalf. The two companies already have such a relationship in place for other Applied products. IBM said it will continue to develop and offer PowerPC 40x chips alongside Applied, which will sit its acquisitions alongside its existing WAN and storage-oriented application processors. Applied follows a number of other companies, including Sony, to license PowerPC technology from IBM since Big Blue announced a plan to open up the architecture, paving the way for Linux-style third-party collaboration to help push the platform forward. The move positions IBM as a kind of ARM, licensing out PowerPC to allow multiple vendors to create differentiated but fundamentally compatible processor products. Unlike ARM, IBM is banking not only on royalties but on the foundry trade that may come its way on the back of such deals. ® Related stories IBM's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers IBM CPU sales rocket IBM fabs 90nm G5 using strained silicon IBM 90nm G5 chip to outrun Prescott, Athlon 64 First 65nm IBM PowerPC chip to be dual-core IBM outsources PowerPC production to Samsung
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

Nokia launches N-Gage QD

It's official, folks. Nokia today unveiled the 'N-Gage 2' - officially called the N-Gage QD - as expected. The QD is more compact than its predecessor and now features a hot-swappable MMC card slot for game cards. Nokia has upped the battery life, installed a brighter screen and improved the controls into the bargain. Crucially, the new, more oval shape and re-positioned speaker and microphone, should make the device much easier to operate as a phone handset than its predecessor - "to support 'classic talking'," is how Nokia's Senior Vice President of Games, Ilkka Raiskinen, put it. If it works as advertised, the QD overcomes the two key criticisms of the original N-Gage, which was launched only six months ago. Apart from the first version's bulk, which made holding the phone up to your ear uncomfortable, Nokia has addressed the need to turn off the device, remove a back panel and pull out the battery before you can insert a new game card. The QD supports all existing N-Gage titles. At this stage it's unclear if there's anything new under the hood which developers can leverage to offer QD-only titles. The console's release dates - next May in Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific (a GSM 900/1800 version) and in June for the Americas (the GSM 850/1900 variant) - suggests that the QD isn't based on Texas Instruments' upcoming OMAP 2 platform, as some sources have claimed. But that doesn't rule out OMAP's use in a future N-Gage 2 - the QD is clearly more an N-Gage 1.5, than anything else. Either way, more is likely to be revealed when the console is demo'd at the E3 show in Los Angeles in May - a month that will see Nokia ship an unpdated N-Gage Arena Launcher application. Nokia said the console is "expected" to be priced from from €99/$99 with a contract to €199/$199 SIM-free minus local sales taxes. ® Related stories Nokia N-Gage 2 debuts on web Nokia to fix sidetalking, swapping with Son of N-Gage Doom developer confirms N-Gage 2 Reg Review: Nokia N-Gage
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

Disabled web access is 'being ignored'

A study of 1,000 websites across the UK today revealed not only that most organisations breach guidelines on making sites accessible to disabled users and risk legal action under disability discrimination laws, but that the guidelines themselves may be inadequate.
OUT-LAW.COM, 14 Apr 2004

RM wins £20m Newham gig

RM has been appointed preferred bidder for a £20m, eight-year contract with Newham education authority. The project covers 140 classrooms in 30 schools in the London borough. RM will provide teachers with Tablet PCs. Teaching assistants and more than 4,000 pupils will get laptop machines. The project also includes interactive whiteboards for classrooms and Kaleidos educational software. A spokesman for Newham education authority said RM offered "real educational benefits, as well as technical reliablity." At the begining of April RM announced a similar win in Warwickshire, it is also sole bidder for a project in Lambeth. In other Newham news, executives from Oracle have been "e-mentoring" schoolchildren from the borough. Six staff from Oracle's City of London office have become e-pals to children from Portway Primary School, according to the Financial Times. Andy Sutton, VP of financial services at Oracle, said the scheme was good for the kids but also helped his staff learn how to communicate in clear simple and jargon-free terms. He said responding to emailed questions encouraged staff to "use simple, everyday language that everyday people can understand". ® Related stories UK gov backs £1m blueprint for open source switchers Savage discounts from MS flush OSS desktop from London council MS TCO study fails to dislodge OSS trials from Newham council
John Oates, 14 Apr 2004

Germans top World text league

Europe in BriefEurope in Brief Germans have been crowned world-texting champions. A survey by the Global System for Mobile Communication recently showed that Germans send a whopping 200m messages a day, nearly three times as many as the Finns (75m) or Britons (70m). DPA suggest that texting is popular in Germany because the long-divided country had a patchy telecommunications system until unification in 1990. Most East Germans had no individual phone service, and adopted mobiles instead. And, because call rates were still high, many people opted for SMS. Germany: sensitive data better protected Neuroscientists at Bonn University in Germany have developed a new process for encoding sensitive data in such a way that only the intended recipient can read it. The solution comes in the form of two regular memory sticks. Software converts the two memory cards into two halves of a single entity. The individual coding can only be broken by the owner's second memory card, using biometrical data from iris scanners or fingerprint readers. Eavesdroppers would be unable to decode the data, the researchers claim. The computer screen would only show garbage, but once decoded the pixels "regroup" themselves and the data appears. Bonn University will show its invention next week at the Hanover Trade Fair (Pavilion 18, stand AO2). Italy: Accenture acquires Nomos Accenture has signed an agreement to acquire Nomos Sistema, a Milan-based leading provider of life insurance administration and product management software systems. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase is part of Accenture's strategy to further enhance its market penetration and business process outsourcing capability in insurance in key markets, including Italy. Nomos Sistema had revenues of €14.7m in 2003. Poland: IT companies set sights on exports Polish IT companies are increasingly turning to exports as a way of boosting revenues, Warsaw Business Journal reports. Last summer, ComArch, the Krakow-based integrator, signed a contract to administer the telecom and computer networks of the public administration of Washington, the US home state of Microsoft. That assignment was followed by contracts with two German telecom operators. Now other IT firms are also looking to boost their foreign revenues. Veracomp, a Krakow distributor of security, telecom and mass memory software, is expanding its business into Germany and Austria, while Comp Rzeszów - a portfolio company of the region's largest private equity fund - is setting up an international capital group called Software Center for Central and Eastern Europe. ®
Jan Libbenga, 14 Apr 2004

Apple must fight Apple in UK - judge

Apple Computer's legal battle with the Beatles' Apple Corporation will be heard in the British High Court, the presiding judge ruled last week. The Mac maker had asked that the trademark tussle be transferred to the San Jose District Court, where it is also fighting the Beatles' recording company over the naming of a product not yet available in the UK. However, Justice Edward Mann said the trademark infringement allegations raised by Apple Corp is covered by English law. Apple Comp's online iTunes Music Store(ITMS) is currently only available to US customers, but the judge was told by parties to the case that a UK launch is imminent. He also noted that a trial in California was likely to take longer and be more costly than a hearing held in England. The case centres on ITMS: Apple Corp claims the store violates an agreement reached between the two companies more than a decade ago. That pact, it says, prevents Apple Comp from entering the music business, which is exactly what it has done with ITMS. Apple Corp is seeking substantial monetary damages from Apple Comp, which believes ITMS is not covered by the 1991 agreement -in part because the market for music downloads could not have been foreseen back then. Apple Comp was given leave to appeal the judge's decision. In the meantime, it agreed to pay Apple Corp's costs for the hearing and £100,000 ($181,940) toward a final assessment of the trial's costs. Mr. Justice Mann achieved some notoriety early in the case by admitting the he was an iPod user. "I'm delighted to hear that," Apple Comp's lawyer, Lord Grabiner QC, replied. ® Related stories 'I'm an iPod user', admits Apple vs Apple judge Beatles' label sues Apple - again Eminem sues Apple
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

MS score card: four patches, 20 vulns, heaps of trouble

Spring is a time for growth. And Microsoft has taken this maxim to heart by releasing an unprecedented number of security fixes on the same day. Yesterday it released four security patches to protect Windows users against 20 security vulnerabilities. Eight vulns are critical. The most serious is a critical vulnerability in the Windows Local Security Authority Subsystem (LSASS), discovered by security tools outfit eEye. Serious vulnerabilities have also been uncovered in the Microsoft Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1) library, the Negotiate Security Software Provider (SSP) interface, Microsoft RPC runtime library and the parsing of MIME encoded content by Outlook Express. Less serious problems have been found in SSL handshakes, H.323 parsing in Netmeeting, Microsoft LDAP, and the Help and Support Centre protocol. These flaws are open to a raft of exploit mechanisms which could allow skilled hackers to run amok. Windows (all flavours including the supposedly super-secure Win 2003), IIS Web servers, Exchange servers, Internet Explorer, Outlook and Outlook Express all need patching, for one reason or another. US-CERT has done a good job in summarising these various problems here. An advisory by security tools vendors ISS goes into the issue in greater depth. Microsoft's own summary can be found here which links to the four horsemen of cyber doom: a security update for Microsoft Windows (MS04-011); a cumulative update for Microsoft RPC/DCOM (MS04-012); a cumulative security update for Outlook Express (MS04-013) and a vulnerability in the Microsoft Jet Database Engine which could allow code execution (MS04-014). The Jet Database patch is described as important, while the other three patches earn the dreaded critical sobriquet. As if that wasn't enough , Microsoft also reissued four security fixes (the oldest of which dates back four years) to accompany an update for Exchange Server 5.0. The unprecedented patch batch comes as senior Microsoft execs - including Bill Gates - seek to convince world+dog that security is Redmond's number one priority. Microsoft's most recent "security manifesto" can be found here. ® Related stories MS March patch batch low on peril MS releases double-plus critical security fix Security is our biggest ever challenge Gates MS bigs up Windows XP SP2 Microsoft's high-risk security strategy
John Leyden, 14 Apr 2004

Ilkka Raiskinen on N-Gage, and more

InterviewInterview As Finnish mobile communications giant Nokia unveils the second generation of N-Gage hardware, GI.biz's Rob Fahey speaks to Nokia's head of games, Ilkka Raiskinen, about the company's plans for the future - and lessons from the past year.
gamesindustry.biz, 14 Apr 2004

IT vendors talk rubbish: official

IT and telecoms vendors have pulled off an impressive feat: beating lawyers and even PR operatives in the art of obfuscation. According to a survey of 340 UK small and medium-sized businesses carried out by VIA NET.WORKS, 51 per cent of respondents thought that "IT and telecoms suppliers were the biggest culprits for using confusing jargon out of all the services suppliers they deal with". Lawyers, in contrast, managed to confound a mere 28 per cent of their victims, with PR companies achieving a paltry 11 per cent success rate. There is, however, a serious issue here: 26 per cent of those left scratching their heads when faced with gibbering salesmen went on to make "incorrect purchasing decisions" as a result. The solution? Well, eight per cent of those polled called technical jargon a "total turnoff", and 21 per cent reckon tech vendors should cut the bull altogether and "stick to plain English". Simple as that. ® Related stories IT bosses baffled by new products UK small.biz blows £1.5bn on useless software IT firms use jargon to deceive
Lester Haines, 14 Apr 2004

102 UK kids saved from paedos

UK police reckon they have saved more than 100 children from abuse during a two-year investigation into users of paedophile websites. As part of Operation Ore, police have investigated 6,500 British people suspected of using a paedophile portal in the US. The operation has so far led to 3,537 arrests, 1,679 prosecutions and 1,230 convictions. In 102 cases, police discovered evidence that UK children had been abused to produce pornographic images that could be traded online. Suspected perpetrators in these cases have been prosecuted and the children involved have been removed from danger. Jim Gamble, assistant chief constable of the National Crime Squad, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning: "We are talking about children from two years through to 14-15 years of age who have been abused by individuals, sometimes known to them, sometimes in positions of trust like school teachers." He described Operation Ore as one of the largest operations ever mounted by UK police, and called for extra police resources to tackle paedophiles. Senior detectives from throughout England and Wales are attending a one day conference on the progress of Operation Ore today (Wednesday, 14 April). The investigation began here 18 months ago after the FBI turned over the details of more than 7,200 British child porn suspects to UK police. Some of these names were duplicated or referred to people who had died or fled the country, so the final tally of those investigated was somewhat smaller. The list contains names, addresses and credit card details of UK subscribers to an American child porn aggregator. Members paid £21 a month to Landslide Productions of Forth Worth in Texas, for access to 300 child porn sites. Around 250,000 people worldwide had paid to access this material. The list was compiled by the US Postal Service, which busted Landslide in 1999. The raid led to the conviction of Texas computer consultant Thomas Reedy, who ran the site, three years ago on child porn offences. ® Related stories UK Net paedo crackdown bags 600 Typical child porn user is white male IT pro Child porn-lite users to wriggle free from court hook Child porn list leaked to Sunday Times
John Leyden, 14 Apr 2004

Lindows throws in the tow - l

Linux distributor Lindows is changing the name of its operating system to Linspire. The company hopes "this puts a halt on the international lawsuits." Microsoft has been busy suing the company in the US and in Europe alleging that Lindows is too similar to Windows. After failing to persuade the US courts the software giant filed trademark lawsuits against Lindows in Finland, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Canada. The case became ever more surreal with Microsoft lawyers claiming that Lindows first changed name Lin--s is pronounced "Lindash" "which bears an auditive resemblance to Windows". Michael Robertson, chief exec at Lindows, said: "Last week, Lindows won in French courts when Microsoft was denied a preliminary injunction. Despite our victories in the United States and overseas, a name change is still necessary to counter Microsoft's strategy to sue us in courts around the world. We're hoping that this puts a halt on the international lawsuits." The company aims to have rebranded all its software in the next two weeks. Lindows will remain as the corporate name but Linspire will be used for all software. The company asked customers for suggestions for a new name and received hundreds including Linvu, Door and LinIUS. The two-year fight with Microsoft will continue in the US. ® Related stories Judge OKs Microsoft Lin---s offensive Lindows asks US court to halt MS worldwide assault MS legal case: Dash is 'dows, 'dows means Windows, which we own
John Oates, 14 Apr 2004

Nvidia rolls out GeForce 6800

Nvidia today launched its latest top-of-the-range graphics chip, the GeForce 6800, largely as expected. Two products derive from the chip formerly known as NV40: the GeForce 6800 and the GeForce 6800 Ultra, both 220 million-transistor beasts. Both provide a new architecture based that can process 16 pixels in parallel with full floating-point precision throughout its pipeline length and with support for DirectX 9.0c's version 3.0 pixel and vertex shaders. That includes the ability to deal with multiple render targets in memory. Version 3.0 of Nvidia's own Intellisample system provides 16x anisotropic filtering and lossless compression for colour, texture and z-buffer data to speed it through the pipeline. Nvidia has also tweaked its UltraShadow shadow-casting technology for better performance, it said. Nvidia also redesigned the texture engine to allow up to 16 textures to be applied per rendering pass. "Non-power of two textures" are supported, along with the sRGB texture format and both DirectX and S3TC texture compression algorithms. The new chips can handle GDDR 3 SDRAM across a 256-bit memory interface. Memory runs at 1.1GHz on the 6800 Ultra for 32.5GBps of bandwidth. The Ultra can churn out 6.4 billion texels per second and process 600 million vertices in the same time. Nvidia's also touted the parts' on-chip programmable video processing engine. That already gives it support for MPEG 2 and WMV 9 with motion compensation which can also be applied to other formats, such as MPEG 4, H.264 and DiVX. Its programmable nature makes it particularly suitable for pro tasks such as '3:2 pulldown', the process of converting an moving image encoded as interlaced fields to a frame-based picture sequence more suitable for playback on a computer display. It can also be put to gamma correction, colourspace conversion and a host of video effects. The 130nm 6800 and 6800 Ultra are shipping to card vendors, Nvidia said, who are expected to ship boards to end users within the next 45 days. The chips support AGP 8x, but can be added to PCI Express boards courtesy of Nvidia's own bridge chip. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Apr 2004

SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: FTC labels porno spam

The US Federal Trade Commission is to enforce the labelling of spam containing pornographic content. From 19 May, spam that contains sexually oriented material must include the warning "SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:"; in the subject line. The senders face fines for violations of the recently-introduced CAN-SPAM Act. The "SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:" label will make it easier for ISPs and users to filter out salacious material. The proposal is the brainchild of the Federal Trade Commission, which was authorised by last December's CAN-SPAM Act to come up with a plan to place tighter controls on emails punting pornographic content. The FTC describes the label as the electronic equivalent of a "brown paper wrapper". This is what a recipient will see initially when opening a message containing sexually oriented material. The brown paper wrapper will "include the prescribed mark or notice, certain other specified information, and no other information or images". In other words, no pornographic pictures should be contained in the spam. Advertisers of pornographic content are prohibited from using rude words in the subject line of sexually explicit images. The consultation also prompted the FTC to close a possible loophole in its porno email- labelling plan: the mark must involve characters from the ASCII character set, a move designed to prevent porno spammers from rendering the label in unreadable form. Although CAN-SPAM has had little effect on the junk mail tsunami it has created a firm legal basis for ISPs to haul prolific spammers into court for misrepresenting the content of their junk mail (e.g. by spoofing the From: line in emails). Rules for labelling porno email come against a backdrop of the increased prevalence of sexually explicit emails. Mail filtering outfit Brightmail reports that 15 per cent of the email it blocked last month contained adult material, making it the third most prevalent type of spam content behind general product and financial junk mail. Children receive an average of 10 pornographic emails every week, according to a survey by email filtering outfit KidsGuard out today. ® Related stories Congress passes anti-spam bill Spammers not deterred by Can Spam Act Big US ISPs set legal attack dogs on big, bad spammers UK anti-spam law goes live UK.biz largely indifferent to spam tsunami
John Leyden, 14 Apr 2004

Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra

ReviewReview After the arguably disappointing GeForce FX family of products, Nvidia has launched its latest graphics chip, which has been the subject of rumours from all corners of the world over the past few weeks. But now it's finally here and it's officially called the GeForce 6800. That's it, no fancy moniker in front of the numbers this time, just plain old 6800. But this time Nvidia has a product that will blow your socks off and no, I don't just mean a noisy fan this time around, I'm talking about the quality of the graphics and the outlandish performance, writes Lars-Göran Nilsson
Trusted Reviews, 14 Apr 2004

9/11 'entrepreneur' on fraud rap

A Californian man who claimed to be developing post-9/11 face recognition system has been arrested by Feds probing allegations of fraud. Ross Rojek, 36, of Sacramento in California, is charged with wire and mail fraud in relation to the operations of a business called Face Information Technology (AKA Face IT), AP reports. FBI investigators also allege in an affidavit made public on Monday that Rojek ran a company called American Equity Group LLC under the alias of Jason Williams. Rojek allegedly told investors he was developing an advanced face recognition system capable of identifying terrorist suspects. The business was promoted through unsolicited phone calls backed up by an allegedly bogus prospectus. These approaches resulted in the investment of at least $467,000 by 32 people into Face IT. This money was quickly milked through a series of cash withdrawals, according to bank records. A further 47 investors put around $590,000 into American Equity Group, a San Francisco-based "real estate investment trust". Part of this money ($218,900) found its way into the coffers of American Entertainment Group - President Ross Rojek - while the rest of the money was allegedly siphoned off from the business. Federal investigators have thus far been unable to find any evidence of progress on the Face IT project. "It doesn't seem to be anything he [Rojek] was seriously working on," Karen Twomey Ernst, an FBI spokeswoman, told AP. ® Related stories Anti-terror face recognition system flunks tests Tampa cops send face recognition code packing Face recognition kit fails in Fla airport Grampian police trial facial biometrics Facial ID as plain as the smile on your face
John Leyden, 14 Apr 2004

Microsoft: May expectations for Longhorn

Microsoft is expected to deliver its first draft of the delayed Longhorn OS next month, with some of its ambitious sub-system features trimmed down. If Longhorn is not ready in time for May's WinHEC hardware conference, Microsoft could lose goodwill from OEMs, developers and customers. It is believed Microsoft will release alpha code for Longhorn, the first publicly available code for the operating system, at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), in Seattle, Washington, between 4 and 7 May. Should Microsoft miss WinHEC, it risks costing developers' goodwill and throwing out hardware upgrade and development cycles. Longhorn's final delivery is now scheduled for the first half of 2006, having been pushed out from 2005. Longhorn is being designed to utilize PC resources that are otherwise under used and could be better deployed to serving Windows. For example, Microsoft plans a graphics subsystem, codenamed Avalon, which use PCs' graphics subsystems to produce better-quality graphics and to remove load from processors. However, Microsoft has warned that it will scale back features in Avalon, in Longhorn's WinFS storage subsystem, and in its Indigo web services architecture. The degree of scale-back is unclear, though, as Microsoft itself has not yet reached a final decision. By releasing Longhorn code at WinHEC, Microsoft would give OEMs, device manufactures and customers their first peak into the operating system's hardware needs. WinHEC is Microsoft's premier hardware developers' conference. After WinHEC, customers could then begin buying adequately specified PCs while OEMs and developer begin their development cycles. However, changes by Microsoft to the basic Longhorn footprint after WinHEC would require OEMs and developers to throw-out work based on the WinHEC code and to start again, while customers who bought PCs because of what they saw at WinHEC would be forced to scrap purchases, costing time, money and goodwill. One feature that could be thrown out is Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB), the digital rights management (DRM) system-on a chip architecture planned for Longhorn. Hardware manufacturers who would have to support NGSCB in products like graphics cards and mice have not been building for the system in large numbers, indicating this is one feature Microsoft can afford to drop for now. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor
Datamonitor, 14 Apr 2004

AMD mocks the Street with bumper Q1

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) surged past analyst expectations in its first quarter with strong sales across the board helping it post a profit for the second quarter in a row. AMD reported $1.24bn in sales for the first quarter and net income of $45m. This marks a 73 per cent increase in sales compared to the same period a year ago. In last year's Q1, AMD reported sales of just $715m and a net loss of $146m. Cheers all around for an improving economy. In this year's Q1, AMD posted earnings per share of $0.12. This shattered the always observant street's consensus estimate of $0.03 per share. AMD also posted a profit in its fourth quarter, breaking a more than two year run in the red. "Our performance in the first quarter of 2004 was driven by record sales, solid growth and strong execution," said Bob Rivet, AMD's chief financial officer. "Our Flash memory and microprocessor businesses delivered solid sales results in a seasonally down quarter and both business lines were profitable. Sales were especially strong in Asia Pacific and Latin America." Rival Intel enjoyed year-over-year gains as well, when it reported first quarter results yesterday. AMD's flash memory business boomed in the first quarter with sales of $628m - a 188 per cent jump over the same period last year. AMD attributed the gains to strong demand from the wireless and embedded markets. Processor sales also rose to $571m versus $470m in last year's Q1. During the quarter, AMD signed up HP as an Opteron seller with the vendor joining IBM and Sun Microsystems as backers of the 64-bit chip. AMD was fairly muted about expectations for the coming quarter. It expects memory sales to "increase modestly" in Q2 and for processor sales to "decline modestly." Oh, go on, don't be modest. In total, AMD expects second quarter sales to be flat. ® Related stories Intel shrugs off Intergraph for strong Q1 AMD gives up processor profits to Intergraph Intel offices raided in Japan on bad biz concerns Intel cribbed x86-64 tech 'from AMD documents' AMD to drop Athlon 64 taxonomy for Intel's AMD sneaks out Athlon 64 2800+
Ashlee Vance, 14 Apr 2004