9th > June > 2004 Archive

PalmOne blinds Treo smartphone for Sprint

Sprint today unveiled a camera-less version of the Treo 600 for its CDMA network in the United States, priced at $599. The device is targeted at businesses nervous about employees taking pictures of sensitive information, or even more sensitive situations. Sprint will continue to offer a version with camera, which it calls the PCS Vision Phone. "Companies have credible concerns about the devices being used to copy sensitive information," said Sprint in a canned statement. There's no word yet of Xerox producing a tonerless copier machine, which suggests that the fear of camera phones is more a matter of perception. However Sprint is following the advice of the Meta Group's Old Testament preacher (and analyst) Jack Gold, who became very animated on the subject last December. He advised companies when faced with a camera phone, to "poke it's eye out" and "make it blind". But that's probably a mote point now. (You're fired - ed.) ® Related stories 'Poke your camera phone's eye out' – analyst Up-skirt law to destroy mobile phone biz? US to ban up-skirt voyeur photos MP ejected for picture-phone abuse
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Jun 2004

World safe from nanobot 'grey goo'

Eric Drexler, the man who made nanotechnology synonymous with 'grey goo', now says there is no need for self-replicating machines at all. So the world is in no danger of being mined indiscriminately for all its carbon, and we can all breath a sign of relief. Phew. Drexler is known as one of the leading thinkers in nanotechnology. In his 1986 book Engines of Creation he cautioned that self-replicating machines could just keep on replicating until there was no material available for them to build more copies of themselves, leaving the world a seething mass of grey goo. Now, however, he says runaway replication could only be the result of deliberate engineering, not something that happened by accident. And anyway, we can't build them with the technology available to us at the moment. In a new paper, published in the Institute of Physics journal Nanotechnology, Drexler and co-author Chris Phoenix, argue that discussion of grey goo is distracting from serious debate on the subject. The authors argue that self-replication is unnecessary. Like Asimov's vision of a robotic future, the vision of self replication is based on lots of self contained, highly complex units being used to carry out tasks. In reality, we use robots as components, arms in car factories and so on. It will be the same on the nano scale, with all the machines being tools, not able to operate autonomously. However, we cannot rest easy. Far more serious, according to Phoenix, is the possibility that someone could deliberately abuse the technology. "[There is] the possibility that a large-scale and convenient manufacturing capacity could be used to make powerful non-replicating weapons in unprecedented quantity, leading to an arms race or war. Policy investigation into the effects of molecular nanotechnology should consider deliberate abuse as a primary concern, and runaway replication as a more distant issue," he said. Don't you all feel better? ® Related stories Europe slips behind on nano technology Nanotech buckyballs kill fish Nanotech researchers see the light
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Jun 2004

UK chemists detect air fingerprints

Chemists at Leicester University have developed a new electronic nose, a piece of kit that can identify the components of a sample of air, including perfume or an individual's breath, in less than a minute. The team, led by Dr Paul Monks, Reader in Chemistry, and Dr Andrew Ellis, Senior Lecturer, has developed a new test for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air. The project began as an investigation into urban pollution, but the team believes it will have applications in medicine and forensics as well. Dr Monks commented: "The instrument we have developed has the potential to undertake forensic-like investigation of air. In effect we can capture a ‘fingerprint’ of the air composition, and this has many potential uses beyond urban air monitoring, including medical diagnosis and the development of electronic noses." The body naturally produces VOCs and the presence or absence of these in a patient's breath can indicate specific diseases. A decaying body also produces several specific VOCs. Having equipment that can detect and identify these quickly and accurately could help police search teams. Dr Monks said that chemical plants, oil refineries, gas platforms, vehicle and aircraft emissions, are all major sources of atmospheric VOCs. They are also emitted by many consumer products such as paints, solvents, glues, newspapers, and cosmetics. Many of these VOCs are toxic or carcinogenic, he went on, an although they are usually only present in very small quantities, human safety levels are often exceeded in poorly ventilated buildings. "Increasing concern about the impact of VOCs on human health is feeding a growing demand for devices to detect these compounds," he said. The team is developing a number of science projects to further test their detection technique. One project they have planned is the ultra-sensitive detection of short-lived atmospheric species that control photochemical smog formation. ® Related stories Medical imaging research awarded £4.5m Singapore quarantines 70 after Taiwan confirms SARS case Legality of online pharmacies questioned
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Jun 2004

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Team Register, 09 Jun 2004

Microsoft confirms EC appeal

Microsoft has confirmed that it is taking the EC back to court to appeal against the €497m fine imposed on the company. It also wants to overturn the EC competition ruling that it must offer a version of Windows without its Media Player and supplies competitors with more information about the internal workings of Windows. Horacio Gutierrez, associate general counsel for Microsoft Europe, said the interests of European businesses and consumers "should be at the heart of this case". "The Commission's decision undermines the innovative efforts of successful companies, imposing significant new obligations on successful companies to license their proprietary technology to competitors, and restrict companies' ability to add innovative improvements to their products. The legal standards set by the Commission's Decision significantly alter incentives for research and development..." Competition Commissioner Mario Monti yesterday said he remained confident that the court would uphold the EC ruling. Microsoft will later file to ask for a suspension of the Commissions demands until after the appeal is heard. The case was begun after complaints from Sun Microsystems: it ended its argument with Microsoft this year in exchange for almost $2bn. The appeal will be heard in the Court of First Instance, Luxembourg. ® Related stories US gov questions EC MS ruling Microsoft appeals record-breaking fine Microsoft faces one per cent fine
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

MS hatches June patch batch

Microsoft released a brace of security alerts last night. Neither is particularly serious. First up there's a flaw in the Application Programming Interface (API) of Microsoft DirectPlay. Software which implement this API are typically network-based multi-player games An attacker who exploited the vuln could cause a networked DirectPlay application to fail. The "moderate" vulnerability affects Windows 2000 (SP2 and later), Windows XP, Windows XP 64-Bit Edition SP1, Windows Server 2003 (regular and 64-Bit Edition and DirectX Versions 7.0 and later. Microsoft has issued a patch. This is available by following links in its advisory here. Microsoft has also announced a vuln in Crystal Reports Web Viewer that could allow information disclosure or denial of service. The flaw stems from a newly discovered vulnerability in Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise from Business Objects. Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 (all versions) and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager redistribute Crystal Reports and are therefore affected. Microsoft Business Solutions CRM 1.2 redistributes Crystal Enterprise and is likewise affected by the "moderate risk" vulnerability. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could retrieve and delete files through the Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise Web viewers on an affected system. Microsoft's advisory is here. ® Related stories MS patch day: nothing critical (May 2004) Windows Update groans under patch load MS score card: four patches, 20 vulns, heaps of trouble
John Leyden, 09 Jun 2004

Beatles mull online music store

The Beatles are in talks to make their music available legally for download on the Internet for the first time. The band are considering their own branded store, possibly run by one of the existing providers, according to CNET, which broke the story. MSN is likely to emerge as the winner, according to anonymous sources cited by Reuters. MSN is opening an online music store later this year. Discussions are being led by representatives of surviving band members Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, rather than EMI, their record label. Until now the surviving band members have refused licensing permission for online distribution. Getting the Beatles to back a legal download service, after rejecting the Internet for so long, would be a boost for the industry. Any decision to choose a proprietary format, be it Microsoft or Apple, could focus attention on issues of interoperability. An added complication is that Apple Computer, provider of iTunes, is in legal dispute with the Beatles' company Apple Corporation over rights to the Apple name. ® Related stories Apple must fight Apple in UK - judge 'I'm an iPod user' admits Apple vs Apple judge Music fans beg to buy music
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004
Cat 5 cable

Storage buoys InTechnology

Network and storage specialist InTechnology increased turnover by 42 per cent to £223.5m for the year ended 31 March 2004 and credited increased demand for storage services for the growth. The company reduced group operating losses for the year to £3.8m from £6.6m for the year before. Charles Cameron, chief executive at InTechnology, said: "Relentless growth in storage volumes, increased concerns over data security and the network, and the growing burden of regulatory compliance for businesses provide a healthy background to demand for our products and services." For the year ahead the company will concentrate on integrating its UK sales, marketing and professional services divisions into a unified structure. A summary of results is available for download here. ® Related stories InTechnology builds UK-wide storage network InTechnology gets NAS from IBM Resellers to score with Web sales
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

Scottish dealer jailed for chip VAT fraud

A Scottish businessman has been sentenced to four years in jail for failing to pay VAT on computer chips he imported from EC countries, sold to UK customers with VAT included and then failed to pass the tax onto the Revenue. Michael George Voudouri, 36, from Bridge of Allan, Stirling evaded £3m in VAT payments. Trading as Computer Technics (GB) Ltd, Cortek Management and Fairwood Trading Ltd he imported processors from Denmark, Ireland and Luxembourg which were sold to him without VAT in accordance with EC regulations. He then sold the chips on, adding 17.5 per cent VAT, but he never paid the tax. He used the proceeds to maintain a lavish lifestyle with a £1m house in Bridge of Allan and a string of luxury cars. Voudouri was sentenced to four years in the High Court Glasgow yesterday. Judge Carloway said Voudouri would have got a six-year sentence if he had not pleaded guilty. Gordon Miller, head of customs investigations in Scotland, said: "This highlights Customs' commitment to pursuing criminals who rob honest taxpayers of funding for public services to line their own pockets. "From day one, Customs investigators have actively pursued and restrained assets obtained from the proceeds of this crime. We are continuing to pursue confiscation through the courts, as we aim to ensure criminals do not profit from their crimes." ® Related stories VAT man claims five fraud scalps Dealers win High Court VAT action against Customs Customs swoop on £25m chips-to-gold VAT gang
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

Apple security patch problems fixed

Register readers experiencing problems with Apple's Security Update 2004-06-07 can take heart that the update does work, and its apparent inability to cope with some exploits can be solved using a little Terminal trickery. We were not alone in having troubles with the update when we applied it to our own Mac yesterday. A number of readers emailed us to say they too found the patch permitted certain vulnerability tests to operate. The issue centres on those who have taken the test before. Mac OS X's LaunchServices sub-system records what apps have been run, which document types they 'own' and which URIs they respond to. If, like us, you've previously run the test, either to determine its effects or to test Unsanity's Paranoid Android utility, the patched LaunchServices will happily let it through when you run the tests again. Apple's patch was - understandably - designed with the reasonable belief that no Macs had been exploited, even benignly. Our thanks, then, to reader Dave Schroeder who pointed out this tip over at Mac OS X Hints. The instructions allow you to reset LaunchServices' database, forcing it to lose the application-data-URI links registered by the vulnerabiltiy tests. Just run Mac OS X's Terminal app and paste in the following: /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user Note that you may need to edit the line in a text editor first, to remove carriage returns and spaces between the slashes. We can confirm that the reset allows the patch to do its stuff with the tests and a number of those here. Security Updates for Mac OS X v10.3.4'Panther' and Mac OS X Server v10.3.4 can be found here and for Mac OS X v10.2.8 'Jaguar' and Mac OS X Server v10.2.8 here. ® Related stories Apple posts second Mac OS X vuln patch Mac OS X update fails to fix vulnerability Apple posts Mac OS X update Apple patches critical Mac OS X hole Apple picks 15 June for iTunes launch? Apple stamps on next-gen Power Mac pics Apple to slow annual OS X update rate
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

EC relaunches Intel antitrust probe

The European Commission has re-opened its investigation into allegations of unfair trade practices made against Intel. The move follows fresh complaints from the chip giant's arch-rival, AMD, which claims Intel used rebate deals and marketing funds to coerce European PC makers into only buying Intel processors. In April, AMD went to court in the US to seek access to 60,000 pages of Intel documentation it believes adds weight to its claim. The papers were offered up by Intel during a separate case. AMD believes that US law allows papers made public in such circumstances to be accessible to overseas judiciaries - in this case the EC. AMD has already won the right to pass on the documents, thanks to a District Court ruling. On 1 October 2003, AMD asked the San Jose District Court to force Intel to release to EC investigators expert witness testimonies presented during Intergraph's anti-trust and patent violation action against the chip giant. The EC's investigation into AMD's claims against Intel - allegations echoed by VIA - has gone on for three years, but was halted earlier this year. The EC said there was insufficient evidence for it to take action. However, the EC said yesterday that a renewed complaint from AMD, which also supplied new evidence - presumably all or part of the 60,000-page haul - had proved sufficient cause to open "a fresh fact-finding mission". A three-year probe made by the US Federal Trade Commission ended in September 2000 with no solid evidence of illegal business practices being found. The EC has already ruled against member states which had previously specified Intel-only products in IT project tenders, though it said Intel was in no way complicit with that particular anti-competitive behaviour. In the US, meanwhile, Intel faces three separate allegations of patent infringement. ® Related stories Europe commences Intel investigation Curtains finally close on FTC Intel gig AMD, Intel to meet in court - again France bans Intel-only IT contracts EC threatens court action over Intel-only contracts Tech firm seeks $500m for Intel patent 'violation' Intel accuser alleges 150 others violate chip patent Intel sued for Pentium patent infringement Intel, Dell sued over SSE, HyperThreading
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

Commissioner 'increasingly alarmed' by ID card scheme

David Blunkett's ID card draft bill came under fire yesterday from Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, who told the Home Affairs Committee ID cards inquiry that his views on the subject had changed from healthy scepticism to "increasing alarm." Thomas, who intends to publish a critique of the draft next month, attacked the draft for lack of clarity or any clear statement of purpose, and pointed out that the real issue was not the individual's ability to identify themself with a piece of plastic, but the nature of the information to be held on the central ID register. The Home Office, astoundingly, responded that Thomas was engaging in a "bit of grandstanding", expressing surprise that he hadn't raised his concerns directly with Home Secretary Blunkett. Thomas did in fact submit a 30 page document and a summary of his views to the Home Office as part of the entitlement cards consultation exercise. In the latter, he said: "I am not satisfied that the current proposals would lead to establishing a data compliant scheme. A much more focused proposal needs to be brought forward with greater safeguards in relation to the quality, amount, and adequacy in relation to those narrower purposes. However, and most significantly, any new proposals need to have much more reliable safeguards against function creep over time, with strict legislation and independent and independent control being crucial features.... Should government decide to take forward its proposals I would be happy to work with the government to help ensure that only a scheme that is fully compliant with data protection legislation is developed." So what part of that was it that the Home Office didn't understand? The draft bill is the next generation proposal, and given that is is even less focused and more multi-purpose than its predecessor, Thomas liking it any more would seem improbable. But as he said to the Committee, he now likes it even less, and draws attention to its Sir Humphrey/Yes Minister statement of statutory purposes of the register. Clause one subsection two, for example, defines one purpose as being to provide "a record of registrable facts about individuals in the United Kingdom." That is the purpose of the register is to be a register, which is possibly not a great deal of help. He declined to state absolutely that the draft bill was taking us into 1984 territory, but the Committee chairman responded that the Committee could draw its own conclusions on this. ® Related stories ID card backlash: is the poll tax effect kicking in? Biometric ID card trials kick off in Glasgow Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card
John Lettice, 09 Jun 2004

BT to save £1bn a year with IP network

BT is to migrate its national phone network to an Internet Protocol (IP) platform. The move will take five years to complete and should produce savings of £1bn a year for the UK's dominant fixed line telco. The new multi-service IP-based network will carry both voice and data services and will replace the UK's public switched telephone network (PSTN). The 21st Century Network programme (21CN), as the upgrade is called, will involve installing IP kit, called Multi Service Access Nodes (MSANs), in exchanges which are capable of carrying both voice and data traffic. The mass migration of customers onto the new network is set to begin in 2006 with the majority shunted across by 2008. Trials kick-off in October this year. In a Stock Exchange statement, BT Wholesale chief exec Paul Reynolds said the move to the IP network would provide the same quality of voice services as punters experience today. "We want to be absolutely clear that using IP technology in our network for our premium quality services is a gulf apart from the new budget voice over the Internet services being launched almost daily by a wide range of providers. "The 21CN programme will deliver our vision of a converged, multimedia world where our customers can access any communications service from any device, anywhere - and at broadband speed. "21CN will drive a radical simplification of BT's operations including significantly lower costs and the capability to launch new services to market faster than we can today. It will empower all our customers, giving them control, choice and flexibility like never before." Trials of 21CN are due to begin in Cambridge and Woolwich later this year. BT is also planning to trial fibre to the home in a technical and commercial pilot. ® Related stories Telcos forge convergence alliance Converged networks find increasing favour BT signs global network deal with Manpower BT, Voda confirm mobile link-up VoIP to transform telecoms market BT & Vodafone: uneasy bedfellows
Tim Richardson, 09 Jun 2004

The curse of MSN strikes another MS VP

It was five years ago today...It was five years ago today... There was a time when the life expectancy of an MS exec could apparently be measured in days. It was all a bit like Caligulan Rome with bloody assasinations and mysterious disappearances, although Bill Gates never, to our knowledge, appointed his favourite horse to the board. Of course, this being the 20th century, errant management could not be obliged to take hemlock or fall on their sword. Chillingly, though, a far worse fate awaited - they were moved to MSN awaiting execution: The curse of MSN strikes another MS VP By John Lettice Published Wednesday 9th June 1999 16:16 GMT Another Microsoft executive has been "disappeared" - this time it's John Ludwig, VP of the consumer and commerce group, who's signed-up for an extended leave of absence. Ludwig was involved in the development of IE, and has left a number of fingerprints in the trial transcripts. But more recently he drew the Microsoft lemon job, which included responsibility for the Microsoft Network. Consumer and commerce is the sort of nebulous poison chalice that tells you somebody at Microsoft is probably trying to tell you something. Ludwig therefore seems to have decided to fall on his headhunter, and is taking a three month leave of absence to "spend more time with his family and consider new opportunities." The casualty rate at MS seems to have ramped somewhat since Steve Ballmer took the helm. All parties concerned deny that Ballmer is organising firing squads, but when we saw him a couple of weeks back we couldn't help noticing the crazed look in his eye and - grief - how much he's started to resemble Uncle Fester these days. We've now got Brad Silverberg largely out of the loop (he's allegedly back as a part time consultant, no longer a major mover and shaker), Ludwig's old boss Pete Higgins on extended leave, and both of the Myhrvolds, Cameron and Nathan, out. Cameron resigned, while Nathan steadfastly maintains he's on a year's sabbatical, and he's coming back. As he wasn't there very often when he wasn't on sabbatical, his return, if it happens, could be exceedingly difficult to spot. Well, Silverberg turned up in March 2000 at the helm of Ignition, "a sort of post-PC VC outfit specialising in wireless". On board were Cameron Myhrvold and - no surprises here - John Ludwig. Cameron's brother Nathan also had a cash interest in the venture, which we described at the time as "an interesting group of former MS execs with a shared shady past". Fast forward to right now and Ludwig is still with Ignition, as are Myhrvold and Silverberg. And what a cheerful bunch they look. Happily ever after? It looks that way. ®
Team Register, 09 Jun 2004

Czechs indulge in Wi-Fi swapping

Europe in BriefEurope in Brief Wi-Fi has reached the Czech Republic, but with one remarkable difference, according to Prague Post. Ad hoc groups such as CzFree.Net and companies like WideNet and My Net are allowing hotspot owners to swap Wi-Fi signals. You can get online for tariffs as low as 200 to 500 Kc ($7.50 to $19 per month). Users who pay for a Wi-Fi connection can become a hotspot themselves through a variety of partnership programs that share one person's Internet bandwidth. At present there is no government regulation to limit the reselling of Internet bandwidth. CzFree.Net, a nonprofit ad hoc community of Internet activists, allows members to freely sell connections to their neighbours. In some cases the hotspot owner gets 65 per cent of the revenue. Ideally, 10 subscribers are enough to recoup a hotspot investment. Finland: US electronics company culls 150 US electronics manufacturer Remec is sharply cutting back on its workforce at its factory in the northern Finnish city of Oulu, Helsingin Sanomat reports. Remec manufactures filters and amplifiers for mobile telephone base stations. The company is moving production to China and Costa Rica, where labour is cheaper. Process development and prototype manufacture are to remain in Oulu. Pekka Talala, regional secretary of the Metalworkers’ Union, estimates that about half of the jobs in the IT sector in Oulu have disappeared in the past couple of years. France: Sogeti-Transiciel hires IT staff At last, some positive news: Sogeti-Transiciel, a subsidiary of information technology services consultancy Capgemini, launched a European campaign last week to recruit 2,000 IT engineers this year, AFP reports. The company says it is the biggest recruitment drive in the industry in Europe. Sogeti-Transiciel employs more than 14,000 people in France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Since the beginning of 2004 the group has recruited 500 engineers in 11 countries. Greece: 3G video streaming Greek mobile company Cosmote has announced the commercial launch of 3G services and the introduction of video streaming for the first time in the Greek mobile market, Digital Media Europe reports. Cosmote aims to work with content partners such as Antenna TV and Databank in Greece. Video calling will enable customers can see the person they are talking to. However, Cosmote's 3G network currently covers only 30 per cent of the country's population, mostly the metropolitan areas of Athens and Thessaloniki. ®
Jan Libbenga, 09 Jun 2004

German fined €8000 for Kazaa uploads

A 23-year-old man has become the first music sharer to be successfully convicted in Germany for uploading songs to Kazaa.
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

BT to trial fibre-to-the-home

BT is begin limited trials of fibre-to-the-home to assess its technical and commercial viability. Up to 1,500 homes and businesses in Martlesham Heath in Suffolk, Milton Keynes and London's Docklands are to have fibre lines up and running in October. New fibre optic cables are to be installed between BT exchanges and the properties of those taking part in the year-long trial. However, BT has made it clear that even if successful, it is likely to install fibre only to new-build sites and developments. It has no plans to engage in the widespread replacement of existing copper cables. BT Wholesale chief exec Paul Reynolds said the real benefits of this trial are expected to be in "informing our thinking on the relative costs and benefits of deploying fibre, rather than copper, to homes and businesses in green-field sites or new-build developments". News of BT's fibre trial came as the UK's dominant fixed line telco announced a five-year plan to upgrade its existing phone network to an end-to-end IP (Internet Protocol) network. The 21st century network (21CN) will replace the UK's public switched telephone network (PSTN) and will carry both voice and data services. The mass migration of customers onto the new network is set to begin in 2006 with the majority shunted across by 2008. Before then, BT is to trial 21CN in Cambridge and Woolwich. From October, BT will divert voice calls between these areas to its 21CN IP network. Calls will be carried using IP packet technology rather than the circuit switched technology used on PSTN. BT says the switchover will be "seamless" e. If all goes to plan, another 18 exchanges in South East London, Kent and East Anglia - which are connected to the network nodes in Cambridge and Woolwich - will also take part in the trial. ® Related stories BT to save £1bn a year with IP network Telcos forge convergence alliance Converged networks find increasing favour BT signs global network deal with Manpower BT, Voda confirm mobile link-up VoIP to transform telecoms market BT & Vodafone: uneasy bedfellows
Tim Richardson, 09 Jun 2004

Sony - BMG wedding hit by EC spoiler

Sony and Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) have denied that they work together to fix CD prices and that a merger of the two record companies would reduce competition. Last month the EC sent the companies a "statement of objections" detailing its concerns about the proposed merger. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti believes the deal would further reduce consumer choice. He is also concerned that savings in overheads made by the companies would not be passed onto customers in the form of lower prices. According to the Commission, the movement of CD prices from the big five music companies shows evidence of "tacit collusion", if not actual cartel behaviour. Sony and BMG have prepared evidence to counter the claims. They say that pressure from big retailers has increased pressure on prices to the benefit of customers. The Commission will hear evidence Monday and Tuesday next week from the two companies. It aims to reach a decision by 22 July. Independent record labels have already threatened legal action if the EC allows the deal to go ahead. ® Related stories London council clamps down on Sony and BMG Music biz waves axe at goose that laid golden egg Sony music download service to launch in June
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

Apple rebuked over G5 speed-lead claim - again

Apple today had its wrist slapped for running a series of magazine adverts which falsely alleged that its Power Mac G5 was the "world's fastest computer". The UK's advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), received two complaints about Apple's ads, both challenging not only the Mac maker's speed claim but its insistence that the G5 was "the first [computer] with a 64-bit processor" and that "the systems built around the G5 can shatter the 4-gigabyte memory ceiling that limits every other PC on earth". Upon "expert advice", the ASA ruled that the independent tests carried out on Apple's behalf and which formed the basis for the company's speed-lead claim simply showed "the Power Mac G5 was faster than the other two processors on some applications under certain conditions, but not that it was the fastest processor in all circumstances for all applications". Worse, the ASA "understood that the G5 machine tested was still under development and the tests seemed to be configured in a way that might have given the Power Mac G5 an unfair advantage". On that basis, Apple was told not to make the claim again. However, the ASA ruled that Apple could legitimately say that its machine was the first 64-bit desktop personal computer, and that, at the time the adverts were published, no other PC could access more than 4GB of memory. It's not the first time Apple has faced scrutiny by advertising regulators over its Power Mac G5 campaign. In November 2003, the UK's Independent Television Commission (ITC), now part of OfCom, ruled that Apple's claim to offer the "world's fastest, most powerful personal computer" was "misleading". In the US last March, the company faced a similar complaint from the Council of Better Business Bureaus' National Advertising Division (NAD). ® Related stories Watchdog bans Apple Power Mac G5 ads Apple stamps on next-gen Power Mac pics IBM's PowerPC 975 - verified or vapour? Apple delays world iPod Mini launch Apple delays dualie Xserve G5 to April
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

Oracle discounts revealed in court

Oracle was in court yesterday trying to overturn the Department of Justice decision that it can't buy PeopleSoft. But video evidence from Oracle exec Keith Block revealed that the database giant is prepared to cut prices by as much as 70 per cent - because of competition from other vendors. The DoJ is opposed to the deal because it believes it will reduce enterprise software providers from three to two. According to the DoJ, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP are the only players in this market. Block said Oracle never discusses price until it is sure it can offer the customer what it wants. Block also said Oracle was planning a stripped-down version of its software to sell to medium-sized businesses. Government lawyers said this undermined Oracle's claims that there is no difference between selling to large and medium businesses. The court also heard evidence from Richard Bergquist, PeopleSoft's chief technology officer, who testified that Oracle and SAP are the main competition it sees for big customers. But Oracle lawyers introduced PeopleSoft documents which named Lawson Software as a serious threat. Bergquist also admitted that there was no clear definition of what the market was or the kind of customers they were going after. He told the court he believed Microsoft would enter the market for enterprise software in 2006 or later. Microsoft yesterday said that it held talks on a possible takeover of SAP late last year. Oracle first made its hostile bid for PeopleSoft in June 2003 with an offer to shareholders of $5.1bn. This was rejected by the PeopleSoft board. In November 2003 the EC announced it was to investigate the proposed deal. In February 2004 Oracle raised its offer to $9.4bn but was again rejected by the board. The Department of Justice then filed a civil anti-trust suit to try and scupper the deal. Even if Oracle convinces the court in the US still has to satisfy European regulators that the deal is good news for consumers. ® Related stories Oracle trial gets boost from Microsoft US gov and Oracle in court PeopleSoft: the real ale analogy
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

Amazon turns camcorder on shaven nudists

We at El Reg are fully aware that 97 per cent of all digital stills/video/phone camera purchases are made by foaming-at-the-mouth perverts who use them purely to capture sunbathing beach nudes and upskirt shots. This would explain why - when you go to www.amazon.co.uk and search for "Panasonic NV-GS55B Digital Camcorder" - you are automatically informed that you "may also like" Shaven Nudists by Dieter Nagel: Enough said. The camcorder will set you back £491.67. Shaven Nudists is an absolute snip at £29.99. ® Bootnote Thanks to Tim Bentley for alerting us to Amazon's uncanny insight into the mind of the average camcorder user. Related stories Brits move into edible Colombian ant market Amazon opens online bijouterie Sodomites overrun Amazon.com
Lester Haines, 09 Jun 2004

Report raps Wi-Fi providers for 'location inflation'

Wi-Fi hotspot aggregators' coverage claims have been taken to task after independent research has revealed that the way they count access locations and covered sites diverges widely. In particular, remote-access provider GoRemote - formerly known as Gric - has come under fire from Wi-Fi Networking News, which conducted the survey, for listing multiple hotspots within a single venue as individual locations. WFNN compared the hotspot databases maintained by GoRemote, its arch-rival iPass, and US-based aggregator Boingo. All three bring together Wi-Fi hotspots - and other connectivity options - to provide customers with a single log-on and billing scheme across multiple networks. Each touts their ability to provide access at a large, diverse array of sites. WFNN compared how each company records locations in three US cities: Seattle, New York and Houston. In New York, Boingo lists 62 separate locations; iPass lists 258 access locations hosted at 247 physical sites; GoRemote "had 61 listings, but only 21 locations, with the Warwick Hotel accounting for 37 separate entries". Seattle saw similar discrepancies: GoRemote lists 35 access locations in just seven physical sites. iPass' 149 venues yield 160 entries on its list, while Boingo's 26 sites are all unique locations. iPass's figures reveal that in almost all cases only airport hotspots are listed as multiple locations. Other venues, whether they have one access point or one hundred, are listed only once in the company's database, WFNN found. Across the US, the survey found Boingo listed 2665 locations with only one or two per cent of the total overlapping. iPass's total was 6829 locations, with an overlap rate of under three per cent. However, GoRemote's 1361 listed locations translated to 843 unique sites, WFNN claims. "GRIC doesn't appear to be differentiating in its marketing between the necessary additional entries required for roaming across a venue, and the unique number of locations that a purchasing decision might be made on," the report concludes. GoRemote did not respond to WFNN's request for clarification. A separate demonstration given to The Register by iPass using location databases downloaded by the company's own remote access software and Gric's - as it was then - confirm WFNN's own findings. As the Wi-Fi market matures, international aggregators like iPass and GoRemote will increasingly act as the interface between user and Wi-Fi network providers. Users seeking better roaming opportunities will turn to such companies - who primarily target big businesses - as a way of gaining Internet access at a multitude of locations without the need to maintain a separate access account for each of them. What attracts customers to the aggregators is the size of their reach. The more locations aggregators can provide via that single account, the better. With no standard methodology in place, aggregators can count locations by whatever metric they choose: physical venues, installed access points, or a mixture of the two. WFNN's research suggests it's time the Wi-Fi industry needs to develop, agree and implement upon an apples-to-apples approach to venue tallies. ® Related stories Wayport wins McDonald's hotspot gig Wi-Fi biz gears up for roaming offensive iPass aggregates T-Mobile US hotspots Broadreach scoops up roaming partners iPass aggregates Swisscom hotspots Remote access provider expands Euro Wi-Fi coverage
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

Police to monitor chat rooms

Police around the world are to join forces to monitor Internet chat rooms in a bid to deter paedophiles from "grooming" young victims online. The National Crime Squad (NCS) in the UK will work with the FBI in the US and officers in Australia to keep tabs 24 hours a day on chat room conversations and intervene if necessary, according to a report by the BBC. One idea is that officers would display a symbol in those chat rooms it was monitoring. Monitoring chat rooms is understood to have been discussed at a meeting six months ago of international police chiefs that make up the Virtual Global Task Force. A spokesman for the UK's NCS confirmed that the monitoring would take place but was unable to outline specific details about how law enforcers would tackle the scale and scope of eavesdropping on so many different chat rooms. NCS is due to issue a formal statement later today. In December, the Virtual Global Task Force set up a fake child porn Web site in a bid to identify and catch paedophiles scouring the Net for illegal images. At the heart of sting - codenamed Operation Pin - was a website which purported to contain images of child abuse. Anyone who continued to use the site in search of illegal images, despite repeated warnings, was nicked. Earlier this week BT confirmed that it is to begin technology trials within the next couple of weeks to block its Internet users from accessing illegal images of child abuse. The system, called Cleanfeed, will censor access to several thousand websites on a blacklist compiled by UK Internet trade body, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The blacklist features sites contain images of child sexual abuse that are "illegal to view" in the UK, under the 1978 Child Protection Act. ® Related stories Police in paedo porn sting BT to block child pornography BT's modest plan to clean up the Net Parental Internet fears put kids at risk
Tim Richardson, 09 Jun 2004

Nokia takes bullet for hijack victim

A South African man has proved that yakking on your mobile while driving may not be the threat to road safety many claim it is. In fact, it could save your life. André Steyn owes his current wellbeing to his mobile phone after the selfless device took a bullet for the merchant during an attempted hijack. In early May, Steyn was travelling outside Johannesburg in a four-ton truck and trailer when a gang of would-be hijackers opened fire: "I heard a 'doof-doof' sound and one of my colleagues shouted 'they are shooting at us!' Alongside the truck was a bright red car with a man hanging out the window. I saw a flash and after the second shot I felt a pain in my hand," Steyn later recounted. In fact, a bullet passed straight through Steyn's hand and would have done some serious damage to his temple had his mobile phone not intervened. Steyn then thwarted the hijack by forcing the attackers' car onto a roadside embankment, although they subsequently escaped. Despite two bouts of surgery on his hand, Steyn is understandably full of praise for his departed mobile, noting: "At least I know who my angel is: it must be Nokia." Steyn now packs a 6610i. The model of its bullet-proof predecessor is not noted. ® Related stories Mobile phones drive us mental: official Nokia deploys 'wave messaging' mobile Mobile phones are a pain in the neck
Lester Haines, 09 Jun 2004

Apple launches liquid-cooled G5 Mac

Apple today updated its Power Mac G5 desktop line, equipping each machine with two processors, as expected, including a top-end model clocked to 2.5GHz. What was not anticipated, however, is the introduction of liquid cooling technology, which potentially calls into question the energy efficiency of the G5 processor at high clock frequencies. The liquid system - "more efficient than a traditional heat sink", says Apple - is only used in the 2.5GHz model. Apple has been known to be exploring liquid cooling technology for some time. Last October it emerged that the company had been working on prototype systems with US-based start-up Cooligy, which has developed a scheme for directly cooling a CPU with water. Cooligy's approach - called Active Micro-Channel Cooling (AMC) - involves scoring hundreds of tiny channels into a silicon layer placed on the upper surface of the chip package. Water circulates through the channels drawing heat away from the core. Cooligy claims AMC can cool a CPU by up to 1kW per square cm. The best a passive system can manage, it says, is 250W per square cm. However, Cooligy tells us that it is not supplying the fluid cooling system for the G5 The new Apple line-up comprises three models, with dual 1.8GHz, 2GHz and 2.5GHz 64-bit processors, respectively, with 900MHz, 1GHz and 1.25GHz frontside bus speeds per CPU. The low-end model supports up to 4GB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM and ships with 256MB. The other two Macs can handle up to 8GB of memory, but ship with 512MB apiece. Both come with 160GB Serial ATA hard drives; the 1.8GHz model has an 80GB unit. The bottom two models bundle an Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics card with 64MB of DDR video RAM. The 2.5GHz model has an ATI Radeon 9600 XT with 128MB of VRAM. All three models ship with a 8x DVD-R/CD-RW 'superdrive'. Available now, the 1.8GHz and 2GHz machines cost £1499/$1999 and £1849/$2499, respectively. The £2199/$2999 2.5GHz dualie will ship in July. UK prices include VAT. ® Related stories Apple stamps on next-gen Power Mac pics Intel, AMD and Apple test on-chip water cooling tech Apple builds wireless hi-fi bridge with pocket router Apple rebuked over G5 speed-lead claim - again Apple security patch problems fixed
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

Norwich Union axes 950 IT jobs

Norwich Union is to axe some 950 IT jobs to reduce costs and make the insurance firm more nimble in "changing market conditions". Many of the jobs - predominantly software development and application support - are to be transferred to other companies and shunted overseas to India, Europe and the US. Staff were told of the jobs cull this morning. Some 700 permanent jobs among IT, facilities management and business systems will be lost by the end of 2005, while the insurer will also be ditching 250 contract workers. The location hardest hit by the job cuts is Norwich, which will lose 250 jobs. One hundred and fifty will go at offices in York and Bristol, while Stevenage will lose 100 and Croydon 50. Although Norwich Union is to spend £1m to provide career advice and staff support, it expects all the job losses to be compulsory. Gary Withers, Norwich Union Life's chief exec, said: "Decisions that affect staff in this way are never easy to make. However, recent market conditions in the UK long-term savings market have been tough and we have to ensure that the company continues its drive for efficiency. "We will do everything we can to help and support staff during these challenging times and we will ensure they are kept fully informed throughout this process." Once the jobs cull is completed, around 750 IT jobs will remain in-house at Norwich Union. ® Related stories Lloyds mulls offshoring deal with IBM PCG slams Abbey's India jobs move Wanadoo UK offshore threatens 200 jobs Shell signs 'Mother of all outsourcing deals'
Tim Richardson, 09 Jun 2004

The Wi-Fi explosion: a virus writer's dream

OpinionOpinion With the consumer Wi-Fi explosion, launching a virus into the wild has never been easier and more anonymous than it is today. Like a sneeze in a crowded subway, it's hard to find the human source of the latest viral infection. On the Internet it's not much different. The people who write these nasty little programs and release them into the wild almost never get caught. Why? The answer is easy, but it's also a sort of technical nemesis: there's simply no way to track these people down. The current approach to catching virus writers isn't working. Code analysis and disassembly provides clues about the author, but it's not enough. Virus writers boast of their accomplishments in private bulletin boards, yet only the most vocal and arrogant few will get caught. Even with logs, IP addresses and private access, it's still near impossible to track them down. Law enforcement agencies in every country are clearly ill-equipped to deal with the myriad of technical hurdles required to track virus authors down, and so they turn to a few elite security consultants, some working as threat analysts at the major A/V vendors for help. They can usually narrow down the source of a virus to having been released in a geographic part of the world, but the rest is a mere packet in the bitstream. Add Microsoft's new $250,000 bounty into the mix and at first glance, you'd think we're right on track. Not a chance! There are simply too many ways to be anonymous on the Internet, and more so today than ever before. You don't even need to spoof IP addresses these days; there are too many ways to have perfect stealth. Imagine you're a virus writer and need a launchpad for your evil work. Just start with an untraceable MAC address on a borrowed IP address, linked into a wireless router down the street which has access logging disabled, and then you tunnel through countless proxies and compromised zombies until you reach the desired launch point. Someone who does not wish to be caught (and knows what they're doing), cannot be caught. With wireless, it become a physical battle between a million victims and one guy walking down the street. Why Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi has exploded. Welcome to the truly anonymous Internet. There is no easier way to slip on and off the Internet now without being noticed than on an insecure 802.11x wireless network in a coffee shop, under a tree in Central Park, at a library or even just leaked through the walls of the apartment next door. North America, and indeed the rest of the world, already has an incredible number of wireless devices that are effectively free, unsecured, and readily available to anyone - to such an extent that it's more difficult to avoid these sprawling networks than it is to connect to them now. My Mac with embedded g-band happily connects to just about any network it can find, and it appears there are literally dozens, perhaps hundreds of insecure wireless Access Points now within a short walking distance from my office. There are a mind-boggling number of Wi-Fi devices now, and only the ubiquity of these devices is new: while four or five years ago I may have been the first on my block with Wi-Fi, now there are so many devices I have to worry about interference to make sure I'm using the right pipe. More than that, there are a mind-boggling number of wireless access point that are not Secure by Default, out of the box - just like the machine owned by your average Microsoft Windows user. But even if they were, it wouldn't matter. I live in a sparsely-populated area, at least for a major metropolitan city. Yet without even leaving the couch of my living room, I can "borrow" someone else's Internet connection, mask my MAC address and have complete stealth on the Internet. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to ever track me down or prove a request or download came from me. If I wanted to be a bit smarter about things, however, I'd walk to the park and get my access from there... less likely that the police come knocking on my door. Or I'd drive down to the coffee shop, and set up a launch from there. Or better still: point my home-made antenna (made out of a soup and used according to the exacting laws of wavelengths and physics) and bounce the signal off a digital satellite dish, extending my network's range by up to 2km. In other words, I could literally get my Internet access from home by simply pointing my directional antenna towards metropolitan downtown. I have no malicious intent, however. I'm generally not searching for these insecure networks, they just appear all on their own. When I'm not publishing articles on SecurityFocus, I go for coffee at a shop at the bottom of our building. There is free wireless Internet access available, sure - though I'm not sure if it's actually provided by the coffee shop, or if it's coming from an office next door, or below me, or above me - the service has never been advertised. The owner of the shop doesn't know what wireless access means. One day I was sitting down and drinking chai... I opened up my Mac with OS X, and there was a new network(broadcasting itself, with no security). Most Windows machines, by default, similarly connect to the strongest local signal without discretion, and voila. I check the connection, and can instantly surf the web. SSH works fine, and thus secure (and dynamic) SSH tunnels are possible. And secure email, through port 993, is possible as well. Web access, like usual, is in the clear (except when using SSL and then it too, is secure). No security whatsoever. It's wide open. I drink my chai and imagine opening up a can of worms... or rather, imagine someone logging onto his bot network through IRC, sitting anonymously in some coffees shop, drinking espresso and launching DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. If I fudge my MAC address and make up a fake one, it will be impossible for anyone to know it's me. I'll change the apparent MAC address again tomorrow and maybe I'll sit in a different coffee shop, too. Free but insecure networks What I'm trying to get at is this "promiscuity" of wireless networks has already made security on the Internet redundant - a virus writer using this technology could never be tracked down. There are hundreds of access points within a five kilometre radius of me, and the number is growing every day. Having had 802.11x access myself for a long time, I clearly know that the technology and its weaknesses are hardly new. What's new is the proliferation of access points, the vast majority of which are freely available for personal use. Even a robustly secured wireless access point can be cracked in a matter of hours. The extreme, industrial-strength security afforded using LDAP and/or RADIUS and rotating keys ciphers is possible, but not for the faint of heart. In other words, for tens of thousands of access points across the country and around the globe, basic wireless security is already irrelevant. For someone searching for a novel launch point for their virus, your router might just be the next in line. Salon published an interesting (and entertaining) article by Micah Joel (requires free day pass) about the opening up access points and its legal implications: no security, broadcast the SSID, and turn logging off. Encourage people, in fact, to use the free connection. With no way to know who has used your Internet connection, there's no way that you could be held liable for inappropriate (or illegal) use. You'd be just like everyone else who took it out of the box, and plugged it in. No officer, you can't possibly prove that action was taken by me. While this theory has yet to be help up in court, at least here in Canada, a precedent is waiting to be set. It's already being done almost everywhere. Don't believe me? CNN published an article recently only confirming what many of us already knew: the insecurity of wireless networks has become extreme. Of course, it would be just as easy to launch a virus from an Internet café in many other parts of the world, like Asia and India where anonymous access is given for a mere dollar an hour. And then there are the libraries, colleges, user groups and other institutions everywhere else that, once again, provide a bastion of easy, cheap anonymity. Let me now be clear about my motivations: while I do not have the skills to write a virus myself, there are many, many people out there who do. Writing it and sharing code is one thing; launching it into the wild is another thing altogether. Similarly, technical stealth is now very easy to achieve in a multitude of ways, so we're left to rely on the social components to catch a writer: a coder who shows some arrogance, perhaps does some public code sharing, things that will ultimately do him in. The only way he might be caught is if one of his inner-circle friends squeal on them - and then traditional law enforcement steps in, grabs all the electronic equipment, and the forensics start. You might think the informant has a good chance at getting that juicy $250,000 bounty, but once he's linked to that inner circle of people sharing code, the token bounty once again fades into the mist. Virus writers can launch their dubious malcode from just about anywhere in the world, a form of cyber-terrorism that cannot be stopped. Anonymity is generally a good thing, but not always. The promiscuity of the Internet is here. Copyright © 2004, Kelly Martin is the content editor for SecurityFocus. Related stories US wardriver pleads guilty to Wi-Fi hacks Attack of the bandwidth-hogging hackers Broadcom simplifies Wi-Fi security set-up
Kelly Martin, 09 Jun 2004

PC Card maker touts 'seamless' Wi-Fi, 3G access

Option, the developer of Vodafone's 3G add-in card for notebook PCs, has launched a version of the product that also support Wi-Fi and GPRS network technologies. Crucially, its driver software allows the host notebook to flip transparently between each technology on the basis of whichever one is offering the highest bandwidth at any given time. Option claims the switch between, say, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a UMTS link is "seamless", requiring no action on the part of the user. Essentially, the system relies on maintaining all three connections whenever possible and simply routing data packets onto whichever offers the fastest throughput. The new card will initially be offered by Swisscom's mobile network subsidiary, Swisscom Mobile, with shipments commencing in August. It will brand the card Mobile Unlimited. The availability of the card ties in with Swisscom's Wi-Fi hotspot roll-out and its implementation of 3G. The company said it hopes to have 83 per cent of the Swiss population within range of a 3G base-station by the end of the year. Whatever connection technology the card adopts in a given circumstance, the user will pay the same per-byte pricing, Swisscom said. Prices range from CHF80-100 ($65-81/£35-44) per month, depending on the number of bundles bytes included in the package. ® Related stories Orange squashes SPV smartphone Asus shows second MS smartphone Dialogue demos 'total wireless' sub-notebook Greek 3G 'ready for Olympics' Carphone Warehouse cashes in on 3G Tele2 slips 3G into Sweden 3 won't flee UK NTT DoCoMo flees 3 UK Cingular kicks off 3G trial in Atlanta US to embrace Wi-Fi - not 3G - for data
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

Global P2P jihad claims success

The number of music tracks available through file-sharing networks has fallen 27 per cent compared to the same period last year. The figures from the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) show there are 800m illegally copied songs or files available compared to 1.1bn in June last year. The research claims the number of infringing music files available on peer-to-peer networks has fallen to 700m in January 2004, compared to 1bn in June 2003. The IFPI claims the fall in numbers is due to the success of legal download sites like Napster and increasing public understanding of the legal position of file-sharing. The IFPI sues individual file sharers and has taken action against 200 people in Denmark, Germany and Italy. It is taking legal action against another 24 people in Denmark. It claims seven out of ten Europeans now know file-sharing is illegal. Jay Berman, chief executive of IFPI said: "Today's results show that litigation, combined with the rollout of new legal online music services, is having a real impact on people's attitudes to illegal file-sharing, and this in turn is affecting levels of file-sharing activity. We are not claiming victory yet, but we are encouraged by the way the market is developing, and by the shift we see in public opinion." But not all observers are convinced that the figures smell of victory. It would take a large pile of CDs to store 800m songs. It is not clear if IFPI is looking at all file-sharing networks or just the big names like Kazaa which has been losing members in recent months. Canadian researchers IT Innovations and Concepts point out that some users are blocking access to shared files because of fears of legal action. ITIC also ask how legal download sites, which they estimate as making up 0.1 per cent of illegal downloads, could absorb nearly a third of files. They estimate that the number of file sharers fell 3 per cent but that would not account for a 27 per cent fall in file numbers. Read the whole statement here. ® Related stories RIAA wants your fingerprints US music swappers change their tune Global P2P jihad stumbles
John Oates, 09 Jun 2004

Paedophiles face credit card blacklist

Paedophiles who use credit cards to pay for access to child abuse sites risk having their credit cards withdrawn. National Crime Squad Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble said UK police were working with banks and credit reference agencies on procedures to blacklist offenders. The same credit cards sometimes feature in prosecution of repeat offenders. "By using credit cards to perform an unlawful act they will have breached their card issuers' terms and conditions. We can't allow credit cards to become instruments of crime," said ACC Gamble. Stolen credit card details are occasionally used to access child abuse websites. ACC Gamble said police have "diligent procedures to double check information" so that paedophile allegations are not made on the basis of a credit card transaction alone. Police are also keen to persuade card issuers of the wisdom of withdrawing merchant status from aggregators guilty of knowingly doing business with pay-per-view child abuse sites. The idea was discussed at a meeting of the Virtual Global Task Force in London this week. The Task Force, which brings together police forces and other agencies, was set up six months with the goal of making the Internet a safer environment for youngsters. Plans for police across the world to co-ordinate the monitoring of Internet chat rooms in order to deter paedophiles from 'grooming' prospective victims online were discussed at the conference. Details of the monitoring scheme, including when it might be introduced and how many officers might be involved, remain sketchy. At a press conference this morning police were repeatedly asked how they could hope to monitor a huge number of Internet sites. Gamble noted that police were targeting resources. "We're not looking to occupy every chat room. We're following an intelligence-led approach taking information from our cyber-tip off lines and elsewhere," he said. The monitoring scheme is part of establishing a visible police presence online separate from undercover investigations of paedophile activity online, which might still take place. The success of the scheme will be apparent from its deterrent effect of driving paedophiles out of chat rooms and from any arrests made, ACC Gamble said. ® Related stories 102 UK kids saved from paedos Police in paedo porn sting BT's modest plan to clean up the Net Pervert! You're using the Internet MSN Chat: It's the child protection lobby wot's to blame LINX
John Leyden, 09 Jun 2004

Medion MDPPC250 PocketPC GPS Bundle

Reg reviewReg review During 2003, German electronics manufacturer Medion came from nowhere to wrest a significant share of the European PDA market from PalmOne, HP, Sony, Dell and co. The secret of its success was no revolutionary new PDA technology, but the simple move of offering an own-brand PocketPC with a separate GPS antenna and navigation software.
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

IT workers' morale hits rock-bottom

Staff morale among IT workers is at rock-bottom as companies have cut budgets and ditched staff in a bid to ride out the prolonged downturn in the industry. So says IT research and advice outfit Meta Group which reckons that companies should do more to lift the spirits of workers. Not only will staff be chirpier, such a move would also help improve the productivity of companies. According to its study 2004 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide, seven in ten of the 650 companies surveyed said that having down-in-the-mouth IT workers was a "serious issue" that could threaten the future of those companies concerned. In a bid to reverse the trend, half of those companies surveyed have already begun implementing employee recognition programmes in a bid to boost morale [you lucky, lucky people - ed], while four in ten are offering more skills training. However, only one in 20 companies is using hard cash to perk up glum workers. Said report author Maria Schafer: "Working through this prolonged recession, which has seen budget cuts across the enterprise, numerous staff cutbacks, and general sector uncertainty, has definitely taken its toll on IT employee morale. "The combination of these factors creates a difficult situation for the IT organisation: productivity is hurt by having fewer people, fewer investment dollars for projects, and a perception that companies do not focus on retention." ® Related stories 60 face axe at Dixons call centre IT failure costs SMEs £6k a year Lost generation of bosses blamed for IT mediocrity
Tim Richardson, 09 Jun 2004

Airlines ground online ticket price gouging

Price discrimination in the sale of airline tickets online is no longer a problem in Europe, the European Commission confidently asserted today. Last year the Commission received numerous complaints from citizens who felt that they had been discriminated against when buying plane tickets purely because of where they lived in Europe. Internet sales were a particular focus of complaints. Depending on their country of residence, some consumers were quoted widely different prices for identical tickets. Price differences were as high as 300 per cent were recorded. In December 2003, the Commission wrote to 18 European airlines, asking each of them whether it charged different prices for exactly the same ticket depending on the customer‘s country of residence, and if so, why. By the end of April, the Commission had received answers from 16 airlines of the 18 it contacted. Most companies said their prices were the same irrespective of the home country of a passenger. Several carriers admitted that did applying pricing differences but said that these "restrictions" have now been eliminated. Test bookings showed that the restrictions observed last year had been nixed. The price differences previously recorded have "mostly disappeared", the Commission reports, except for rare cases involving paper-based tickets. And some differences in handling fees for Net-based tickets. As a result, price levels are now similar for all EU residents. The Commission said it will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that price discrimination because of residence does not raise its ugly head again. Which is nice. ® Related sories EU hands airline data to US Online ticket to ride Leading airline favours Web for ticket sales Big Pharma puts squeeze on Canadian Net pharmacies E-pharmacies guilty of blatant disregard for health
John Leyden, 09 Jun 2004

Apple: no 3GHz G5 'any time soon'

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' promise to announce a 3GHz Power Mac G5 within a year of the processor's launch will not be made, a senior company staffer has admitted. The reason: the "challenges" of moving to the 90nm node have proved rather less surmountable than they appeared almost 12 months ago when Jobs made his prediction. Says who? Tom Boger, Apple's director of Power Mac product marketing, quoted by MacCentral. "When we made that prediction, we just didn't realize the challenges moving to 90 nanometre would present," he said. "It turned out to be a much bigger challenge than anyone expected." So: "No, we are not getting to 3GHz any time soon." The blame lies more with IBM than Jobs or Apple. The chip maker has always been rather bullish about its shift to 90nm and the new technologies it has implemented to reduce leakage, that nasty phenomenon that causes a chip's transistors to waste energy when switching off. The smaller the transistor, the greater the potential for leakage. IBM hoped that its established silicon-on-insulator technology - which does limit leakage - plus newer techniques, such as strained silicon, would ease the problem when it took the PowerPC 970 to 90nm (as the 970FX). Boger's comment suggests that those tricks have proved less successful than IBM anticipated. That's undoubtedly one reason why Apple has adopted a liquid cooling system for its new, top-end 2.5GHz dual-CPU Power Mac G5, launched today. IBM admitted earlier this year that 970FX yields were not as high as it had anticipated. Equally, Boger warns that we shouldn't expect a PowerBook G5 any time soon. Again, the 970FX was seen as the part that would make such a product possible. Apple may yet pull something out of its hat, possibly thanks to the same liquid cooling technology found in the new G5, but we are unlikely to see it "any time soon", according to Boger. "Certainly not before the end of the year," he said. ® Related stories Apple launches liquid-cooled G5 Mac Apple stamps on next-gen Power Mac pics Intel, AMD and Apple test on-chip water cooling tech Apple builds wireless hi-fi bridge with pocket router Apple rebuked over G5 speed-lead claim - again
Tony Smith, 09 Jun 2004

SCO trumps Sun's open source Solaris bid

With so few friends in the world, The SCO Group made the obvious decision today to go after one of its largest behind-closed-doors allies - Sun Microsystems. A SCO marketeer has seized on Sun's vague plans to open source Solaris, saying it will not permit Sun's version of Unix to go under the GPL (General Public License) knife. Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz tempted the public with the promise of an open sourced Solaris during a user conference last week in Shanghai - although he, like most Sun staffers, won't provide exact detail on how this magic will happen. But before Sun, which has paid $100m in Unix System V license fees, makes the peace, love and Unix move, SCO has warned against it. “While the details of Sun's plan to open-source Solaris are not clear at this time, Sun has broader rights than any other Unix licensee,” SCO marketing manager Marc Modersitzki told Computerworld. "However, they still have licence restrictions that would prevent them from contributing our licensed works wholesale to the GPL." We dare say Modersitzki over-stepped his bounds with the last part of that comment. Sun and Microsoft are the two companies that benefit most from SCO's attack against Linux, since they have the healthiest non-Linux operating system franchises. With that in mind, Sun doesn't tend to attack SCO in public like another large Unix vendor based in Armonk. By the same token, Sun doesn't really celebrate SCO either. Sun has tons of open source software in its arsenal - Open/StarOffice and Linux servers - so there is no huge reason to back the great Utah IP defender. Sun is in a pretty harmless - to SCO - middle ground where SCO is concerned. Beyond all of this, Sun isn't even sure what it wants to do with Solaris just yet. "There are a number of details that Sun has yet to work out (with an open source version of Solaris," said a company spokesman. "It's far too early to discuss the impact or ramifications with SCO." High-level sources at Sun back up these claims. They say Sun has yet to come close to picking either the GPL, a commercial license or a combination of the two for Solaris. All that has been solidified is that Sun will pursue the matter. And that's not even news. As Sun's "open source diva" Danese Cooper points out in her glob, the company has been "leaking" the open source Solaris idea since 2000. And during the whole Solaris x86 fiasco, Sun executives speculated time and again about creating an open source community edition of the OS for Intel and AMD systems. Sun, however, faces major legal hurdles in open sourcing Solaris. It's a research and development, IP-focused company with big name customers. Sun can't have mysterious bits of code with questionable ownership floating around. In addition, Sun produces Solaris on a rigid quarterly schedule. Every new feature is tested and then retested and then meticulously scheduled to enter the production build. Fitting random developer additions into Solaris could be tough. So why in Linus Torvalds' name is SCO nitpicking Sun before Sun even knows what it's doing? Not smart to say the least. A wiser company would have ignored the issue for the moment or kept the chit chat private. Away from the Solaris mistake, SCO requested this week that its trial with IBM be pushed back from April 2005 to September 2005. SCO is set to report its second quarter results on Thursday. ® Related stories Sun gets liquored up on own code Sun to share 3-D stash with developers Can Sun mature from Xeon boy to x86 man? EBS outpaces Sun with Solaris x86 kit HP offers Linux users SCO protection
Ashlee Vance, 09 Jun 2004

AMD bags Chinese giant

AMD has worked its way into the heart of the Chinese computer market, announcing a deal today with leading manufacturer Lenovo. Lenovo is set to roll out the Feng Xing V series of consumer PCs running on AMD's Athlon 64 and Athlon XP processors. AMD, for the first time, joins Intel as a supplier for Lenovo - the largest PC maker in China. Lenovo is actually the Western brand of China's Legend Group. The deal should help AMD make way in a growing PC market. Last year, China surpassed Japan as the second leading PC buyer with 13m units shipped. Around 90m people in China surf the Internet as well. AMD had existing deals with Founder Group - China's second largest PC vendor - and HP to sell its processors in China, but Legend is a much bigger win with close to 30 percent of the market versus 10 percent for Founder. Lenovo will sell one system with the Athlon 64 3200+ chip and another with the Athlon XP 3000+ chip. Both systems are aimed at customers looking for high-performance gear, particularly the Athlon 64 box that can run 64-bit software. "The AMD processor-based consumer computer launched today will be able to better satisfy end user needs on broadband, 3D gaming, audio visual entertainment, and special applications based on 64-bit platforms," said Jia ZhaoHui, general manager of Lenovo's retail products group. AMD must be thrilled to see Lenovo give it a chance, after being snubbed here in the US for so long by Dell. Lenovo and Intel have a tight relationship, and it looked like the company, like Dell, might be going the single-supplier route. ® Related Stories Chinese PC giant sets new benchmark in branding banality Can I have an email quickie? Phoenix says, Yes 419ers open Chinese takeaway
Ashlee Vance, 09 Jun 2004