24th > June > 2004 Archive

Penis pill peddler stiffs AOL spam insider

An AOL employee has been arrested and charged with conspiracy, after selling 92 million screen names to an Internet gambling operator in Las Vegas. 24-year-old Jason Smathers found out how to access what the charges describe as AOL's "highly secure database" when he was assigned another employee's laptop PC. All the instructions he needed were on the machine. Using his, er, AOL email account, Smathers got in touch with Sean Dunaway, who then sold the list onto spammers. Dunaway later boasted of using the list to boost his own Internet business and charged $52,000 for the full list, or $2000 for each letter of the alphabet, according to police charges. Smathers also gave himself away by using his new database privileges to first check on his own AOL account. The scam came to light when one of Dunaway's customers, whose job we learn, "is primarily the sending out of masses of unsolicited e-mail marketing herbal penile enlargement pills." This source, who isn't named, hopes to mitigate his participation in spamming. It may be the first time anyone has had a reason to stand up and salute someone working in this particular line of business. The prosecution, if successful, will be a high-profile victory for the much-derided CAN-SPAM Law: Smathers and Dunaway face up to five years in jail, or six figure fines. AOL stressed that Smathers, who has been sacked, didn't gain access to credit card records. ® Related stories Californian sues penis pill spammers for fraud PCs throw nine sickies a year 'Spam King' Richter get legal roasting MS sues 200 for spamming Buffalo spammer jailed FTC fines porn spammers $112k Anti-spam laws baffle UK.biz Two thirds of emails now spam: official
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jun 2004

Microsoft patents the body electric

After you shake hands with Microsoft, according to the company's critics, count your fingers. But the warning can be seen in a whole new light after Redmond was granted a patent for "transmitting power and data using the human body". It's a technology first demonstrated and patented by IBM in 1996, when Lou Gerstner used Comdex to exchange business cards by shaking hands. Lou's PAN was developed at IBM's Almaden lab, where researcher Thomas Zimmerman built on earlier exploratory work at MIT's Media Lab, where he was a researcher. It uses the natural conductivity of the body to transmit a tiny electrical current. Data rates of equivalent to a 2.4 mbit/s modem were achieved in those first demonstrations. NTT DoCoMo filed its first patent in this area in 1996, and has been experimenting with the technology and claims speeds of 10 mbit/s. Another phone company, Nokia, has also been experimenting with near field electronics, and an industry forum was established by Nokia, Philips and Sony earlier this year. It isn't hard to see why it appeals to them, as both the handset manufacturers and wireless operators want to merge the phone with the credit card. In its patent, Microsoft envisages the technology being used primarily for power, rather than data transfers. "The devices may be, e.g., a speaker, display, watch, keyboard, etc" it notes. So perhaps The Matrix will come true in one respect, with humans (or pets) acting as the power supply for machines. ® Related stories Nokia, Sony, Philips tout connectivity Utopia MS demos Jetsons' kitchen on FoodTV
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jun 2004

Tyan to ship Socket T mobos next quarter

Mobo maker Tyan this week launched itself into the Socket T market with a pair of motherboards based on Intel's new i915 and i925 chipsets, better known as Grantsdale and Alderwood. The Tomcat i915 is based on the i915G integrated chipset, which incorporates Intel's third-generation Media Graphics Accelerator 900 engine, with DirectX 9 support and the ability to use up to 224MB of main memory. The board can hold up to 4GB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM. It also provides the usual Serial ATA with optional RAID and PCI Express x16 graphics support. The board also offers SPDIF digital optical audio I/O, a 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports (Gigabit Ethernet is an optional extra); four legacy PCI slots and a pair of PCI Express x1 slots; four USB 2.0 ports and a 1394/Firewire port. There are two Tomcat i915 SKUs, one without RAID and Gigabit Ethernet, and a second with both these features enabled. The Alderwood based Tomcat i925X can handle up to 4GB of 533MHz DDR 2 SDRAM. Like the Tomcat i915, it offers a PCI Express x16 slot for graphics and two PCI Express x1 slots for other add-in cards. There are four 32-bit PCI slots for old boards. Tyan has also added an 8MB ATI Rage XL graphics chip for server builders. The i925X provides full RAID support courtesy of Intel's Matrix Storage Technology. It too includes SPDIF digital audio ports, 1394, but provides Gigabit Ethernet as standard, with a second Gigabit port available as an optional extra. Again, there are two Tomcat i925X SKUs, one with multi-channel audio, one Gigabit Ethernet port and Firewire, and another without the audio or the 1394 port, but with the second Ethernet port and the Rage XL chip. The first is pitched at desktop roles, the latter at servers. The Tomcat i915 (S5120) and Tomcat i925X (S5130) will both sample later this month, and will go into volume production in Q3. ® Related stories Tyan aims four-way Opteron board at supercomp makers Intel i915P, G and i925X chipsets Wi-Fi to come late to Grantsdale party Intel launches 90nm Celerons
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Intel Wi-Fi module trims Centrino prices

UpdatedUpdated Intel yesterday announced a pair of new 90nm Pentium M processors, this time extending the line downwards. The chip giant also brought in a host of Centrino bundles, not only based on the new PMs, but adding its 802.11b/g wireless adaptor to the 90nm PMs it launched in May this year. The PMs launched this week are the 715 and 725, complementing the recently released 735, 745 and 755 parts. The new chips are clocked at 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz and are priced the same as the 130nm PMs at the same clock speeds: $209 and $241, respectively. The 90nm chips offer 2MB of L2 cache to the 130nm parts' 1MB, so the pricing parity is clearly part of Intel's attempt to shipthe 90nm chips as soon as possible. This week also saw the introduction of a raft of Centrino bundles featuring the new 715 and 725 and other 90nm PMs. In most cases, the key new component is Intel's ProWireless 2200BG mini-PCI add-in Wi-Fi adaptor, but Intel also added Centrino bundles based on the new PMs and the old ProWireless 2100 adaptor. Intel also added the ProWireless 2200BG to its Low-Voltage and Ultra-low Voltage Centrino bundles. In almost every case the newer wireless part comes in $10 cheaper than the older version. ® Intel's new Centrino bundles Processor; chipset; wireless module Price PM 755; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $699 PM 755; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $696 PM 745; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $495 PM 745; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $492 PM 735; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $356 PM 735; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $353 PM 725; i855GM; ProWireless 2100 $313 PM 725; i855PM; ProWireless 2100 $310 PM 725; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $303 PM 725; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $300 PM 715; i855GM; ProWireless 2100 $281 PM 715; i855PM; ProWireless 2100 $278 PM 715; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $271 PM 715; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $268   Intel's new LV/UV Centrino bundles Processor; chipset; wireless module Price PM 1.3GHz; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $346 PM 1.3GHz; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $343 PM 1.1GHz; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $324 PM 1.1GHz; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $321 PM 1GHz; i855GM; ProWireless 2200BG $303 PM 1GHz; i855PM; ProWireless 2200BG $300 Related stories Intel launches Dothan with Pentium M price cuts Intel 'delays' Centrino 2 chipset Desktop Dothans 'will not replace Prescott' Intel to EOL Mobile P4 in Q1 2005
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Taiwan notebook makers 'unwilling' to sell Athlon 64 kit locally

Taiwanese notebook makers are reluctant to offer AMD Athlon 64-based machines under their own names, according to insider sources cited by DigiTimes, who claim that Asia-Pacific buyers prefer Intel-based notebooks. AMD needs to address this issue, but the unwillingness of manufacturers to offer own-brand 64-bit notebooks is perhaps less of a problem than it sound at first. For a start, the reluctant notebook makers do not, it seems, address demand for big-name brand/OEM notebooks based on AMD technology - and that's where most of the Athlon 64 notebook sales activity is taking place. Since most of those are sold in the West and Japan - both more advanced technology markets than the Greater China region the Taiwanese makers target with their own brands - you'd expect there to be far more interest in 64-bit processing here than there. In the more mature markets, there is an emerging demand for Athlon 64-based notebooks; but even here it's early days for the platform. AMD only introduced low-power Mobile Athlon 64 CPUs - for machines other than desktop replacements - in May this year. ® Related stories AMD delivers on low-power Athlon 64 pledge AMD updates public roadmap AMD sets date for dual-core CPUs AMD sneaks out 90nm core in 130nm chip
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Sony, PalmOne and the death of the PDA?

Sony pulls out of PDA market shouts the headlines - but why should they be expected to be there forever? Certainly their percentage of PDA market share figures were good, and the design of the Sony devices was excellent as always. I'm a huge fan of Sony's industrial design prowess. But as is often the case, it's not about the technology, but something else. In this case, perhaps it's a combination of other commitments, and linked to that, the life expectancy of the number two in the category player, especially in a maturing market. Arguably Sony's commitment to the PDA market has been very strong, but let's look at the marketing background. The CLIE product line-up is broad, with good design and all the right features. The pricing is fine, although more at the premium user end of the PDA range. Placed with more emphasis on the top-end retailer channel, I more often notice Sony's CLIEs in the top quality department stores, than the regular PC sales sheds. Promotion, for my mind, is always as a smart lifestyle accessory, and not a down and dirty business tool. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this approach per se, but Sony has other product families to promote too. Laptops are strong sellers, with desktop replacement in addition to the road warrior market for slimmer and lighter devices. And rather than pushing a consumer PDA, perhaps there's more mileage for Sony's other product families in the style-appreciating pro-sumer markets demanding MP3 players, digital cameras and the future mobile games machines. With the continuing growth of smartphones, the PDA market is maturing and so the devices are moving from the white-collar early adopters, into either the low-end diary replacements for those wanting a two device solution or into more vertical and blue-collar supporting applications. Sony's market was more often what some might term 'black collar' - the designers, creative types, and perhaps even, Mac users. The group most likely to be early adopters of Blackberries and smartphones. Now might be considered the good timing for Sony to move on. Then there's the life expectancy of the cloner, or market follower. Not that Sony's CLIEs copy PalmOne PDAs directly, far from it, but they occupy a very similar market space. Palm's separation of the software business with the spin-off to PalmSource was wise, and necessary to encourage adoption into a wider range of devices, but this was never going to be enough to massively grow the market for high-tech diary devices. Sony's 15 per cent market share was that of the number two, and unlikely to overtake PalmOne. However, despite pulling the CLIE in most markets, Sony is still planning to offer them in Japan, and retain their investment interest in PalmSource. So, does Sony's partial withdrawal herald the beginning of the end for the PDA? Not really, but it might indicate what might happen next in the market, including other platforms such as PocketPC. Without differentiation and the creation of new market categories, there is only room for so many profitable hardware players. It might also mean that like others before it, PalmSource will have to re-focus on the market for compatible products, and continue to derive value from the developer community they have built. If PalmSource licensees think they can compete directly in the same space as PalmOne, ultimately it's not good news for PalmSource, the licensee or the end user. Better to add extensible PDA functionality to existing products than add PDA products into the line-up. The PDA may be looking dead, but its memories will be kept refreshed by its children. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories PalmOne posts Q4 profit Sony exits global PDA biz PalmOne pledges to boost Treo shipments
Rob Bamforth, 24 Jun 2004

MSN hikes Hotmail storage

Microsoft's MSN today entered the email storage race, upping inbox limits for non-paying Hotmail customers to 250MB - 125 times bigger than today. The upgrade has been prompted by Google's entry into the free email game. The search company upped the ante in April, when it announced beta tests for Gmail, a service offering 1GB of free storage. The catch is that Google scans the email client to deliver targeted text ads, much to the chagrin of privacy activists. Yahoo! threw its hat into the ring last week, increasing the storage limits on free accounts to 100MB, up from 4MB. At the same time it whacked up limits for fee-paying customers to 2GB. Microsoft has adopted a similar policy, distinguishing between fee and free. In the summer it launches an upgrade premium email service. Called MSN Hotmail Plus, the package costs $19.95 a year in the US. Customers get 2GB of online storage and can send attachments of up to 20MB. Also the ads disappear and account expirations are no longer. MSN Hotmail Extra Storage subscribers will be upgraded to the new service on Day One. MSN Premium subscribers will get the storage boost later this year. ®
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2004

eBayer fires salvo at PS2-vending mum

The mother who sold her son's PS2 on eBay has received an online admonition from a fellow eBayer. Those readers who wrote in after our original piece to point out the linguistic deficiencies of the enraged mum's auction blurb will be delighted that the seller of a "new parenting clue" has well and truly taken her to task on the matter, as well as throwing in a few parenting tips: This "CLUE" is for Sale to All Parents of Recalcitrant Teenagers Who Think that an Ebay Auction is a Suitable Means of Parenting~! This clue will entitle you to the following; 1. You will learn how to properly spell the word Congratulations and the word Recoup, so that you don't look like a complete idiot to the rest of the world. I will also include instructions on how to spell even more words so that when you are attempting to punish your 13 year old son in a public forum, you don't look like an ignorant redneck. Perception and Presentation are so important to getting the most out of your Punishment skills!!! Proper grammar instruction, as well as sentence structure and paragraph formation, will have to be pursued through your local adult eduction classes. Please, for your own sake and the sake of the English language, look into those adult education courses!!! 2. You will get instructions on how to parent a teenager with special instructions on how to supervise them on weekends. Included free of charge, will be instructions on wielding a belt, a paddle or any other instrument of shame and real punishment! Pain and humiliation will not "harm" his precious self-esteem. That type of punishment will be sure to get his attention and I seriously doubt that it is something he will brag about to his friends or laugh about as they watch the evening news. Marvellous. Working up a head of steam, the vendor of this priceless advice continues: If my 13 year old son got drunk with his buddies on a Friday nite and then thought he could spend Saturday morning playing his flippin' video games, I would sell ALL OF HIS BELONGINGS ON EBAY! B. Consult with a local attorney and find out just exactly what the law demands in your state and then spell that out to him. Take him to family court and let him learn firsthand what life in juvenile detention is like or let him see what kind of parenting he will get through the foster care system. C. If all else fails, remind him and yourself, that you brought him into this world and you can take him OUT!!! And there you have it. For the record, bidding has now closed on this particular sermon. Surprisingly, it received not one bid, so we can only assume that American teenage ne'er-do-wells will continue to drink dad's beer and quaff expensive champagne with impunity. ® Bootnote Thanks very much to reader Coran Stow for the tip-off. Related stories US woman eBays stroppy son's PS2 Tiffany sues eBay over fakes Teenager gets three years for eBay scam
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2004

Feds urge secrecy over network outages

Giving the public too many details about significant network service outages could present cyberterrorists with a "virtual road map" to targeting critical infrastructures, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, which this month urged regulators to keep such information secret. At issue is an FCC proposal that would require telecom companies to report significant outages of high-speed data lines or wireless networks to the commission. The plan would rewrite regulations that currently require phone companies to file a publicly-accessible service disruption report whenever they experience an outage that effects at least 30,000 telephone customers for 30 minutes or more. Enacted in the wake of the June 1991 AT&T long-distance crash, the FCC credits the rule with having reversed a trend of increased outages on the phone network, as telecom companies used the disclosures to develop best practices and learn from each others' mistakes. The commission is hoping for similar results on the wireless and data networks that have become integral to the US economy and emergency response capability. The proposal would expand the landline reporting requirement to wireless services, and generally measure the impact of a telecom outage by the number of "user minutes" lost, instead of the number of customers affected. It would also require telecom and satellite companies to start issuing reports when high-speed data lines suffer significant outages: specifically, whenever an outage of at least 30 minutes duration affects at least 1,350 "DS3 minutes." A DS3 line carries 45 megabits per second, the equivalent of 28 DS1 or T1 lines. The reports would include details like the geographic area of the outage, the direct causes of the incident, the root cause, whether not there was malicious activity involved, the name and type of equipment that failed, and the steps taken to prevent a reoccurrence, among other things. To the Department of Homeland Security, that's a recipe for disaster. "While this information is critical to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the system, it can equally be employed by hostile actors to identify vulnerabilities for the purpose of exploiting them," the DHS argued in an FCC filing this month. "Depending on the disruption in question, the errant disclosure to an adversary of this information concerning even a single event may present a grave risk to the infrastructure." If the FCC is going to mandate reporting, the DHS argued, it should channel the data to a more circumspect group: the Telecom ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center), an existing voluntary clearinghouse for communications-related vulnerability information, whose members include several government agencies and all the major communications carriers. Data exchanged within the Telecom-ISAC is protected from public disclosure. "The ultimate success of our critical infrastructure protection effort depends, in large part, not merely on having the necessary information, but on having it available when and where it is most needed," the DHS argues. The FCC hasn't ruled on the matter. Telecom companies are generally against the proposed new reporting requirements, arguing that the industry's voluntary efforts are sufficient. Copyright © 2004, Related stories US extends biometric passports deadline Accenture wins $10bn Homeland Security gig Federal agency faulted for weak security TIA lives? Report lists US gov 'dataveillance' activities
Kevin Poulsen, 24 Jun 2004

When spyware crosses the line

One of my friends called me in a panic the other day. It seems his eight-year-old daughter was surfing the Internet, searching for Barbie dolls, games designed for children, and other things of interest to eight-year-old girls, when something bad popped up on the screen. She may not have understood what she saw, but she knew it was bad and so she called Mom and Dad. You can probably guess what popped on the screen. That's right, a page with explicit, graphic pornography. But wait, there's more. It gets worse. Bookmarks for "mature porn" also popped up all over the computer, placed everywhere from the desktop to the Quick Links toolbar of the browser, to the Favorites area in Internet Explorer - and these links appeared for all three users who can login to this system. The browser was also redirected, or "hijacked" to display an explicit porn site as the home page, and any attempt to change it back were to no avail. An application also started running secretly in the background, ensuring any attempts to remove these links would be replaced. My friend, who works in the software industry, knew that their family computer had been infected with spyware. Nowadays it only takes a single click. He also knew what to do. He ran the free spyware removal tool, Spybot Search & Destroy, to no avail. Then he ran another popular free tool, Ad-aware, also to no avail. He made sure he had downloaded all the updates to both these tools, then ran them again in safe mode. Both tools found the spyware hijacker, but were unable to remove it despite multiple reboots. Still, the links to mature porn would reappear. His daughters were told not to use the computer until this "spyware" was removed - which in this case, was proving surprisingly difficult to remove. As it turns out, the "spyware" in question had self-updating code, and had updated itself to a newer version that could not yet be removed by any of the major anti-spyware tools. Instead, my friend spent significant time figuring out how to manually delete a malicious, system-level application that he never installed. Self-updating code. Hijacked home pages. Applications installed without your knowledge. Toolbars you don't want and never asked for. Your movements on the Web are tracked and recorded. All this, and yet we still call this stuff "spyware"? It's a sad day for the Internet community when an 8-year-old girl, through a single click, is not only subjected to graphic pornography but has caused a nefarious, hard-to-remove application to be installed. An application that spews porn at every turn — plus gives you links to more porn that cannot be removed without a significant investment in a parent's time and frustration. When spyware crosses the line, it's not spyware anymore. It's a virus - and in my opinion, should be dealt with by the anti-virus companies. Drawing the line An entire cottage industry has sprung up with the advent of spyware, and a few people are making a great deal of money using shady tactics. For the most part these people and companies can be identified, tracked and held accountable for their actions. Yet today, it rarely happens. Why? I believe one of the problems is that a clear line has yet to be drawn between what is "acceptable" spyware versus what is unacceptable. Clearly, porn hijackers, self-updating applications, and domain-blocking applications are unacceptable. Yet I would argue that any application that gets installed without your knowledge is unacceptable and by nature crosses the line. And of course, the line from here to the legality of such things is very murky indeed. Not only can spyware be installed on a fully-patched Windows machine running the latest anti-virus software, spyware companies and the slimeballs who run them have been known to find, use and exploit undisclosed IE vulnerabilities to their advantage and for financial gain. In the Internet community that I grew up with, one that existed long before the Web, that kind of activity would never have been allowed to sustain. Patch the cheese, please Before you rush to email me your thoughts on this assertion, understand that the spyware issue has little to do with a lapse in a user's desktop security. The bane of good security practice whereby you patch/firewall/anti-virus everything in sight still won't fully protect you - spyware gets installed through ActiveX, or by exploiting zero day vulnerabilities that (eventually) get patched in Internet Explorer. Simply disable ActiveX, right? Well, it's not quite that easy. Some of the sites you visit may know you're running IE and believe that they truly need to use ActiveX. Other options? Here's one: try surfing the Web with IE configured to "ask" about running ActiveX scripts and controls. But be forewarned. It will nag you worse than your ex-wife's cranky mother. Spyware is largely (though not exclusively) an Internet Explorer problem. And like it or not, Internet Explorer, the Swiss cheese of the Internet, commands about 80 per cent of the world's browsing. But individuals can freely switch to Firefox or Opera and effectively bypass the spyware problem, at least for now. Sure, security holes can, have and will be found in these browsers too but the difference in their security track records compared to Internet Explorer is absolutely night and day. Corporations and Enterprises can use desktop management software to centrally distribute these new browsers, and save money by not having to license anti-spyware applications to clean up the mess that's been swept through IE. I give accolades to Scott Granneman for having the guts to tell people it's time to dump Internet Explorer. Never mind all the features competing browsers have that enhance the browsing experience. Personally I think it's worth switching for the spyware problem alone. I've read comments from people who've said they've been using Microsoft Internet Explorer for many years and have never encountered a single case of spyware. Oh really? My response to that is very simple: what planet are you living on?! It's not the benign spyware that I worry about, either. It's the ease with which these more malicious "spyware" applications can install themselves without your knowledge - and hijack your browser so it displays porn to an eight-year-old girl. Then it updates itself so you can't remove it. This is "spyware" that has clearly crossed the line. Copyright © 2004, Kelly Martin is the content editor for SecurityFocus. Related stories US moves towards anti-spyware law Utah sees first spyware case No need for anti-spyware laws - FTC The average PC: spyware hotel Anti-piracy vigilantes stalk file sharers
Kelly Martin, 24 Jun 2004

BT's phone network hit by 'illicit access'

BT has admitted that someone has gained "illicit access" to its network after half the homes in Norfolk village Thurne were billed for calls made to premium-rate XXX phone numbers. The cluster of calls - which wildly inflated bills of those hit - happened in the middle of the night during early May. At first, BT didn't believe punters when they insisted that they had not made the calls, the Eastern Daily Press reports. Instead, it told worried customers that the calls must have been made from within their homes. After it became apparent that this was not a one-off and that a cluster of homes had been hit in the village, BT began to look at the matter more closely. In a statement, the monster telco told us: "An investigation by BT Security has shown that a number of customers in the East Anglia area have been affected by illicit access to the BT network. "This has resulted in some customers receiving bills with unrecognised calls listed. The investigation has shown that the calls in question were not made from within customers' homes and we are in the process of refunding the customers that have been affected. "BT Security is vigorously investigating this situation in order to identify the perpetrators and will take appropriate action once this has been done." Although the company is reluctant to disclose too many details about the incident, it has ruled out any notion that this was an "inside job". ® Related stories Regulator fines Net sex firm Premium rate scam hits London US spammer fined £75k for porn sting Dial 9 scam snares Wilts Police
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2004

MS to request stay of EC ruling

Microsoft is to ask for a stay of the EC ruling that it must share information with its competitors, pending its appeal. The full appeal process - already filed with the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg - is legally complex and could take as long as five years to complete. A decision on a stay could be made much more quickly, even as early as this year, the FT reports. The outcome of this latest move by Microsoft will have huge implications for the relationship between Brussels and the software giant. In March this year, the European Commission ordered Microsoft to pay a $600m fine; share interface information with its competitors and offer a version of Windows that does not include its Windows Media Player. If the request for a stay is granted, Microsoft gets a huge amount of breathing space. It will still have to pay the fine, but as was reported at the time, that is small change to Microsoft. Conversely, if the request is denied, the European Commission may be sufficiently emboldened to pursue other legal actions against the company. Even in the short term, this move is a nice delaying action. At the very least, the court is likely to suspend the Commission's ruling while the longer suspension request is considered, or risk prejudicing the outcome of the stay request. Longer term, for the stay to be granted, Microsoft must show that it could suffer irreparable harm from the Commission's decision. ® Related stories Microsoft appeals record-breaking fine US DoJ condemns MS ruling Windows ruling is biggest IP heist in EU history, claims MS Sun welcomes EC Microsoft ruling MS gets EU fine, orders for server info and WMP-free Windows
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2004

Napster pays BestBuy $10m to promote music service

Napster has followed its joint-marketing deal with British high street consumer electronics retailer Dixons by signing a similar promotional arrangement with US giant Best Buy. In return for promoting Napster as its "leading" - but not, you'll note, 'only' - digital music service, Best Buy will receive $10m worth of shares from Napster's parent company, Roxio. The promotional activities the pair have in mind include BestBuy offering a co-branded version of Napster via its web site and sponsoring "in-store marketing activities" and "extensive broadcast, print and online advertising". Since the battle for dominance in the digital music market will almost certainly be won through brand and marketing, deals like this represent Napster's best hope for success. Apple is committing big marketing resources to promote its iTunes Music Store, and other entrants, most notably AOL, MTV, Sony Connect and the upcoming Virgin Digital, are likely to leverage hardware sales, retail channels and brand awareness to promote their own services. Napster will find that harder to do, thanks to the inevitable constraints imposed by working at a loss. Roxio's sales fell 17.5 per cent to $99.3m during its last fiscal year, 2004, while its loss ballooned to 348.5 per cent from $9.9m (51 cents a share) in 2003 to $44.4m (162 cents a share). Napster lost the company $9.8m in Q4 2004 alone. Hence the need to enter into deals with the likes of BestBuy - companies that can afford to undertake the kind of marketing Napster needs but would be hard to undertake itself. Providing a stake in the business saves Napster having to pay out cash and gives its partner an incentive to promote the service. How well that works out remains to be seen. BestBuy hasn't committed to promoting Napster exclusively. The Dixons deal is exclusive, but from what we've seen of Dixons stores of late, it may as well not be. The retailer seems very keen to sell iPods - thanks to their high ticket prices, no doubt - which are, of course, incompatible with Napster's service. Dixons isn't promoting ITMS, but every iPod it sells is de facto a gain for that service and one more customer Napster can't win. BestBuy also sells iPods, with the same result. Other, some of them better, many of them cheaper, portable music players are available of course, but few have had the promotional weight behind them that Apple has given to its machine. ® Related stories NTL signs up Napster Dixons signs Napster promo exclusive Napster gives away MP3 players Napster parent Q4, FY loss widens Virgin Digital sets US, UK debut dates Apple iTunes Europe shifts 0.8m songs in first week Peter Gabriel sells digital music firm HMV iPods not compatible with store's music downloads Wal-Mart download service goes live
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Java Database Connection and RMI

Register TrainingRegister Training The Register's new Training Site has proved to be hugely popular with readers, and today we're taking the opportunity to highlight a new course: Java Database Connection and RMI. According to the blurb: The JDBC API is the industry standard for database-independent connectivity between the Java programming language and a wide range of databases. The JDBC API provides a call-level API for SQL-based database access. JDBC technology allows you to use the Java programming language to exploit "Write Once, Run Anywhere" capabilities for applications that require access to enterprise data. Java Remote Method Invocation (Java RMI) enables the programmer to create distributed Java technology-based to Java technology-based applications, in which the methods of remote Java objects can be invoked from other Java virtual machines, possibly on different hosts. RMI uses object serialization to marshal and unmarshal parameters and does not truncate types, supporting true object-oriented polymorphism. This course has been developed for people involved with Web publishing and Web technology based GUI development, or people writing multi-tiered networking applications and although there is no specific prerequisite for this course the student should, however have a good level of Java programming knowledge. Topics explored in the course are, JDBC elements, the steps used to access a database with JDBC, data retrieval issues, and some of the advanced features that will gain more support with future releases of the JDBC API, Databases and Java, Structured Query Language SQL, JDBC Overview, The java.sql Package, Executing DML Commands, Joins and Transaction, PreparedStatement, CallableStatement, Cursors and Batch Updates, Remote Method Invocation (RMI), Distributed Applications, Introduction to Java RMI, RMI Architecture, Building a Client/Server Application, Dynamic Class Loading and Advanced Concepts in RMI. If that's not your cup of tea, then we're certain that at least one of more than 490 online courses will be more to your taste. A year's access to the complete range costs just just £99 - or $149. The benefits of home self-study are legion: you can study as many courses as you want; choose from a wide range of topics and learning levels; download and print courses to peruse at leisure; learn at your own pace; and when the time comes, sit exams for selected courses and gain certificates of achievement. There's a full list of currently-available courses here. The roster includes: Technical: Web Development MCSE A+ Certification Cisco I-NET+ Certification NETWORK+ Certification UNIX Programming User-level: MOUS CLAIT ECDL E-QUALS Management: Appraisal Techniques Assertiveness Skills Creative Thinking Techniques Effective Management Skills Leadership Skills Negotiation Skills Problem Solving and Decision-Making Techniques Stress Management Team Building Techniques Time Management Skills Of course, you might like to persuade your boss that he or she should foot the bill for your prefessional advancement - and why not? Details of this option are available here. If you want any further details of any aspect of this new Register initiative, you can talk to the people in the know via the online contact page. ®
Team Register, 24 Jun 2004

'Leaked' Xbox 2 spec no hoax, claim developers

The controversy over what will be included in Microsoft's second-generation Xbox console continued yesterday with the publication across the Net a purported internal Microsoft whitepaper describing the console's specifications. Opinion is divided as to whether the document, said to come from the pen of Pete Isensee, Xbox Advanced Technology Group development lead, is genuine. But at least one site is claiming that software developers who have seen the white paper say it's very close to what Microsoft is telling development partners. The document discusses the three-core IBM PowerPC processor clocked to 3.5GHz or more, memory complement of 256MB or more, and 500MHz graphics chip from ATI with 10MB of embedded SDRAM already detailed in an alleged schematic for the console that appeared on the Web last April. Apparently, the CPU will feature anti-piracy and anti-hacking security technology on the die, along with 1MB of shared L2 cache - up from the schematic's claim that there would be 512KB of L2 - and 64KB of L1 cache per core split 50:50 for instructions and data. Each core is enabled for simultaneous multi-threading - the ability to convince the host OS it's two cores rather than one. In other words, the OS - derived, says the document, from Windows NT - sees six logical cores rather than three physical ones. Each core is said to be able to issue two instructions per clock, which is fewer than the PowerPC 970/G5's five. The document also mentions "128 vector (VMX) registers", when the G5, for example, has a single register file containing space for 32 architected registers and 48 renameable registers 128-bit vector instructions. The GPU is said to contain a shader core equipped with 48 arithmetic units "that can execute 64 simultaneous threads on groups of 64 vertices or pixels" - whether they work on vertices or pixels, depends on the workload, apparently. "The GPU has a peak pixel fill rate of 4+ gigapixels/sec (16 gigasamples/sec with 4_ antialiasing). The peak vertex rate is 500+ million vertices/sec. The peak triangle rate is 500+ million triangles/sec. The interesting point about all of these values is that they're not just theoretical-they are attainable with nontrivial shaders," the doucment states. Interestingly, it also mentions the GPU's ability to snoop the CPU's L2 cache, apparently a feature little-known outside the developer community until now. Indeed, developers working in Xbox 2 - aka 'Xenon' - code told GamesIndustry.biz that the document was close to what Microsoft has indicated to them separately. "I've not actually seen this specific document coming from Microsoft," one developer said, "but there's certainly nothing in there which doesn't fit with what they've been telling us. "If this is a hoax, which I doubt, it's a hoax so close to the truth that it hardly makes any odds." The document doesn't address Xbox backward compatibility, but does not the difficultly in offering such a feature. However, it implies there's enough horsepower in the CPU to cope with the emulation overhead. ® You can read the full document here or here. Related stories Microsoft poo-poos Xbox 2 backwards compatibility 'fiction' MS 'to drop' Xbox compatibility from Xbox 2 Xbox 2 innards laid bare on web
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Oracle-Peoplesoft merger will boost competition - SAP

An senior SAP executive has testified that a merger between Oracle and Peoplesoft would increase competition in the enterprise software market. Combined with Microsoft's evident expansion into the sector, the testimony could strengthen Oracle's case in its fight with the Department of Justice, which moved to block the buy earlier this year. Giving evidence at the month-long trial over the DoJ's attempt to block Oracle from buying Peoplesoft, Richard Knowles, vice president of SAP in North America, stated that if Oracle was a larger player, the market would be more competitive as SAP would have to fight hard to maintain its position. If Oracle did merge with Peoplesoft, the combined entity would hold a 38 per cent market share. If Oracle can show conclusively that Microsoft does intend to move into the space, this would give it a strong argument to show that the sector is about to get more competitive, and that its merger with Peoplesoft would not give it an unfair advantage. SAP currently hold a 34 per cent market share, making in the largest player in the sector. However, the company has been increasingly concerned about Microsoft's ambitions in the Enterprise software space, the FT reports. Microsoft had said it was not interested in the big enterprise companies SAP sells to, a position the DoJ was happy to accept. Nevertheless, an internal SAP study showed the Redmond-based company was gaining ground in the sector. A memo went out at SAP calling for immediate containment of Microsoft's activities. It said: "The Microsoft warning signs should be taken very seriously because Microsoft is venturing out into SAP territory." ® Related stories Oracle eyes Business Objects from afar Oracle - Microsoft sales battles revealed in court Larry Ellison's shopping list Oracle trial gets boost from Microsoft US gov and Oracle in court
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2004

Accenture wins £400m Barclays outsourcing gig

In briefIn brief Barclays has appointed Accenture to run its banking systems applications development in a six-year £400m deal. The outsourcing contract will see 900 bank staff handed over to Accenture under TUPE rules. So jobs and benefits should be safe for two years. No-one appears to be complaining - banking union Unifi says the deal was signed only after tough negotiations. Wanna know more? The Barclays release is here. ® Related stories Barclays to cut IT staff Barclays: Internet scam victim Email fraudsters target Barclays Barclays BACS system crashes
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2004

AOL splashes $435m on Advertising.com

America Online (AOL) is to splash out $435m (£240m) cash to buy online ad outfit Advertising.com. The deal is expected to be completed by late Summer - subject to the usual checks - and should help boost advertising revenues for the Internet giant. Combining AOL's own advertising inventory with the Advertising.com network will provide advertisers with an "unprecedented opportunity" to reach more than 140m Net users, the company said today. Advertising.com employs more than 300 staff and is based in the US. It also has branches in the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Last year it saw revenues jump 80 per cent to $132m (£73m) generating $12.1m (£6.7m) in income. Said AOL chairman and chief exec Jonathan Miller: "Online advertising is showing very strong growth across the industry, and the acquisition of Advertising.com underscores AOL's determination to strengthen its competitive position. This acquisition is a strategic move that will bolster AOL's advertising business, building on the strides made in the past year." AOL ad revenues rose from $204m (£113m) in Q4 2003 to $214m (£118m) in the first three months of this year. It also racked up two consecutive quarters of advertising growth for the first time since 2000. ® Related stories Penis pill peddler stiffs AOL spam insider AOL to target Hispanic Net users in ad campaign AOL UK ticked off for 'exaggerated' ad claim Time Warner sprints ahead, AOL crawls Espotting-FindWhat.com merger is go
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2004

Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash

Canadian wireless technology licensing company Wi-LAN has begun legal action against Cisco, alleging the networking giant's Linksys and Aironet products are making use of its intellectual property without permission. It wants the court to force Cisco to license the technology and to pay unspecified "punitive damages". At issue are three Wi-LAN patents - one Canadian (2,064,975), the others registered in the US (5,282,222 and 5,555,268) - which cover the use of orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), a technique incorporated into the 802.11g and 802.11a Wi-Fi standards. Wi-LAN claims Cisco's 802.11a and 802.11g products make use of this technique without a licence to do so, and now it wants the networking company to cough up. Wi-LAN lists Redline Communications - over which it recently prevailed in the courts - Philips' semiconductor subsidiary and Fujitsu as its licensees, implying there are plenty of other Wi-Fi equipment suppliers out there whose products may also be open to legal action. By taking on Cisco, to "put the industry on notice", Wi-LAN is hoping to convince other vendors that it has a strong case, that it's willing to take on one of the biggest names in the business, and that they should get in touch to discuss licensing. Most will await the outcome of the Cisco fight. But it's not just Wi-Fi that Wi-LAN has its eye on. It recently bought a raft of 17 patents, some granted, others pending, that it claims "are necessary for the implementation... of WiMAX". "It is our intent to collect, either directly or through component manufacturers, royalties from any company selling 802.11a, 802.11g or WiMAX certified equipment," the company said. ® Related stories Wireless industry intellectually challenged Microsoft patents the body electric Intel invests in smart antennae to drive Wi-Fi, WiMAX Nokia to rejoin WiMAX Forum Proxim, Intel to develop WiMax reference kit WiMAX approaches tipping point with new specs and carrier support BT's Wi-Fi technology faces courts trial Aussie troops to become Wi-Fi GIs Nomadix patents Wi-Fi hotspot log-in tech
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

If Slot A is Athlon, is Slot B Bi-Athlon?

It was five years ago today...It was five years ago today... Short, sweet and pleasing - that's today's dip into the well of history: If Slot A is Athlon, is Slot B Bi-Athlon? By Team Register Published Wednesday 23rd June 1999 11:13 GMT A reader points out Athlon is AMD's uniprocessor, and that should make Slot B, which we announced at the end of last week, the Bi-Athlon. He also says that we can expect Triathlons, Pentathlons and Decathlons. Is there no limit to these Olympian aims? Lovely. ®
Team Register, 24 Jun 2004

We have the knife for the man who has everything

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion If you're the kind of person who has climbed to the very pinnacle of the achievement tree and has the trophies to prove it - Bentley, beach house in Bermuda, motor cruiser on a Roman Abramovich scale - then you will definitely need to get your hands on the latest Victorinox knife from Cash'n'Carrion. The Victorinox Classic Silver Polished is just that - a seven-feature Classic knife with a hallmarked, polished silver casing. It comes complete with faux velvet-lined presentation box for £42.54 (£49.98 inc VAT) - small change for the kind of discerning punter who will slip this beauty into the top pocket of his Armani suit. Alternatively, if you are not an oil-rich Russian football club owner, we have a knife to suit every budget - from the standard Classic at £5.95 (£6.99 inc VAT) to the eminently practical, 17-function-plus-digital-clock Voyager at £28.93 (£33.99 inc VAT). You can see the full range here. ®
Cash'n'Carrion, 24 Jun 2004

Sony Ericsson Vodafone-only phone to go Live! in July

Sony Ericsson will begin selling its first Vodafone-only handset next month. The F500i is tied into Vodafone's Live! multimedia service, so naturally it features an integrated digicam with 4x digital zoom and a dedicated activation button on the side of the handset. Snaps can be edited and have special effects applied directly on the handset and displayed on the handset's 128 x 160, 1.9in 16-bit colour screen. The phone has also been set up to make sending picture messages, downloading 40-voice polyphonic ringtones, grabbing wallpapers and screensavers, and running Live!-supplied games easy. It contains 10MB of memory on which to store all this stuff. Well, the press release says 10MB; Sony Ericsson's web site says 12MB. User can create their own ringtones using Sony Ericsson's bundled MusicDJ software. The F500i is a GSM/GPRS device with WAP 2.0 support. Neither Sony Ericsson nor Vodafone provided pricing for the phone, which will ship mid-July across all territories in which Vodafone Live! is offered. ® Related stories Mobile operators push next gen services Vodafone finds mobile workforce Mobile porn is a 'time bomb' Vodafone shares dip on results Sony Ericsson pressures Nokia
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

ABIT AS8 Socket T mobo with AGP

ReviewReview With all the fuss about the new Intel chipsets, DDR 2 memory, new CPUs and PCI Express, one might wonder if there is a path for people who want to upgrade their PC, but want to stick with their AGP graphics card and DDR memory. The good news is that ABIT already has a product ready if you fancy a new Socket T processor, but don't want to replace your AGP GeForce 6800 Ultra that finally arrived in the post last week, writes Lars-Goran Nilsson.
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

Fancy appearing in Hitchhiker's Guide movie?

If you fancy winning a spot as an extra on the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, then you'd better get your camera out and your skates on. The BBC is holding a competition which asks entrants to submit "a photograph of the place on Earth you think deserves to survive the planet's destruction". One lucky winner will travel to Elstree to take part in the filming of the movie on 8 and 19 July. The deadline for entries is, however, tomorrow. Full details here. ®
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2004

IT outsourcing goes east

Could Oymyakon in eastern Siberia - named the world's coldest inhabited village according to Guinness World Records - ever be the Silicon Valley of the future? It's not as unlikely as it sounds. Analysts see the early signs of an eastward migration of white-collar jobs in IT services. Polish company ComArch, the country's third-largest IT integrator, is considering moving most of its operations to Ukraine "within one to three years," according to the Warsaw Business Journal. The Polish company, based in Kraków, has already established a subsidiary there. Like so many former eastern bloc countries, Poland has greatly benefited from European firms looking for cheap IT labour. More and more Western companies rely on skilled coders in the Baltic states, Bulgaria or even Romania. Russia's current revenue from IT outsourcing alone is between $150m and $200m annually. But now that some of these countries have joined the EU, benefits such as low labor costs are likely to disappear. Hungarian companies have already outsourced their production to China, Taiwan and Vietnam. There are 4,000 Hungarian-owned companies in Romania alone and a third of them are totally dedicated to outsourcing. Ukraine in particular is becoming popular. Bill Gates, whose wealth exceeds the gross domestic product of that country, described the area as the fourth most important source of innovation in computer programming. He is not joking: Ukrainian engineers reliably developed software for Boeing space and military programmes. The Ukrainian IT industry grew by a staggering 24 per cent last year, and now represents 6.5 per cent of GDP. This is more than three times the ratio in Poland, even though only three per cent of Ukrainians can afford a PC. Of course, eventually even Ukraine will lose its appeal and it is only a matter of time before companies will have to migrate even further. Maybe even to Siberia’s polar regions. Arctic coders get ready for business. ® Related stories Accenture wins £400m Barclays outsourcing gig Outsourced IT staff fingered porn stash banker Inverclyde IT staff fight outsource threat
Jan Libbenga, 24 Jun 2004

Germany tops porn Web hosting superleague

Germany is the Web host with the most - at least in terms of pornography. The .de TLD boasts 10,030,200 pages of smut, beating the UK's 8,506,800 pages into the runners-up spot. That's according to Secure Computing, which has just carried out a study of the global distribution of pornographic web pages by the top 100 individual country domains - excluding US domains - using the Secure Computing SmartFilter(R) v4 Control List. Secure Computing's report into the findings contains some interesting factoids. For instance, by far the biggest concentrations of porn are to be found in Europe and the Pacific. Indeed, humble Niue (.nu) hosts three million pages, elevating it to fourth spot in the league. The Middle East, by contrast, is almost porn-free. Only Israel (.il) appears on the filth radar with 77,800 pages; and the single Arab nation to host people getting naked is Libya (.ly). Naturally, the Europeans are going at it like jack rabbits. Every European domain contains some porn pages, with even Liechtenstein (.li) taking time off from producing stamps to knock together 27,800 pages. And as for Africa, of the 389,400 total pages recorded a whopping 307,000 were found in the Sao Tome (.st) domain. According to Secure Computing veep Mike Gallagher: "Pages of commercial pornography, like spam, continue to not only grow at an alarming rate, but spread to new countries as they join the Internet. These millions of pages of pornography may create serious liability and productivity problems for employers around the world "Given the international nature of the Internet, filtering at the gateway level for networks in businesses, schools and homes will remain for the foreseeable future the only effective way to control Internet pornography." The full top ten is: Germany: 10,030,200 United Kingdom: 8,506,800 Australia: 5,655,800 Niue: 2,947,800 Japan: 2,700,800 Netherlands: 1,883,800 Russia: 1,080,600 Poland: 1,049,600 Spain: 852,800 Tonga: 848,800 The total Web pages by region is: Europe: 28,430,600 Pacific: 12,352,600 Asia: 3,193,000 Latin America: 1,048,600 Africa: 389,400 Canada: 283,600 Caribbean:255,000 Middle East: 77,800 Total: 46,030,600 Related stories BT's modest plan to clean up the Net Danish IT firm gives workers free Net porn Buy pornography, fight psoriasis UK web hosts spurn illegal content
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2004

Calling a BT Bluephone could cost you dear

People phoning BT's yet-to-be-launched "Bluephone" service could be stung for the cost of a mobile phone call - even if the Bluephone they're calling is connected to BT's fixed-line network. So far BT is keeping mum on pricing for the new service and will not say whether it plans to differentiate the cost of calling a Bluephone. Critics claim this is yet another BT ruse to increase tariffs and revenue. Although Bluephone users making calls will see their phone charges vary depending on whether they are connected to a mobile or fixed-line network, people phoning a Bluephone are facing inflated costs. A senior BT spokesman told The Register: "Calls will be charged at mobile rates unless BT decides to offer a discount." Whether BT will offer a "discount" is unlikely to be known until later in the year when the telco gears up for the commercial launch of the service. BT confirmed last month that it was going ahead with its converged handset project. According to the monster telco: "It [the Bluephone] removes the need to own more than one phone, as customers will be able to use a single device that can switch seamlessly between networks, giving more convenience, a better service with more guaranteed coverage and lower overall costs." ® Related stories VoIP suffers identity crisis BT & Vodafone: uneasy bedfellows BT, Voda confirm mobile link-up BT flogs bluephones to the masses
Tim Richardson, 24 Jun 2004

Britain's Web presence to be saved

A group of British archiving and educational institutions, including the British Library and the National Archives, have come together with the aim of preserving a record of Britain's Web presence. The UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) is the latest of several online archiving projects, and follows in the footsteps of high profile efforts to preserve otherwise ephemeral Web content such as the Wayback Machine and Web.Archive.org. Online content currently has an average life span of 44 days, which, as the British Library points out, is the same as a housefly. UKWAC will work, with the rights holders' permission, to ensure that "invaluable scholarly, cultural and scientific resources remain available for future generations". Each of the institutions involved in UKWAC, which also includes the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher and Further Education Councils (JISC), the National Library of Wales, the National Library of Scotland and the Wellcome Trust, is responsible for collecting and storing sites relevent to its own area. For example, the British Library will archive sites reflecting national culture and events of historical importance. These won't be limited to 'official' records either. The Library says it will be checking (selected) blogs, museum Web pages, e-theses, and Web-based literary and creative projects by British subjects. The Scottish and Welsh libraries will do likewise for Scotland and Wales. The duty of preserving medical information on the Web falls to Wellcome, the National Archives will archive governmental information and the JISC will preserve websites from interesting ICT projects taking place in UK colleges and universities. As well as working separately, the groups will collaborate on developing selection policies and "to investigate the complex technical challenges involved in collecting and archiving Web material", according to a statement issued by The British Library. The project will initially run for two years, and it aims to collect and archive approximately 6,000 UK Web sites. ® Related stories Law seeks deposit of web sites with UK libraries Archive.org to Vivendi: we'll host MP3.com's files The Web as historical record
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2004

Shuttle shows Socket T SFF PCs

Taiwanese small form-factor barebones PC specialist Shuttle this week said it was adding Intel's new i915G chipset - one of the Grantsdale family - to its XPC desktop line-up. Two machines are getting the new chipset: the SB81P and the SB83G5 - the former the world's first SFF PC with a Socket T processor, Shuttle claims. Both models feature a new, heatpipe-based cooling system. The SB81P includes a Silent X 350W power supply build into its new chassis, designed to support three 3.5in Serial ATA hard drives in order to allow users to configure the machine with the i915G's RAID support. There's a parallel ATA bus in there, too, for optical drives. The chipset also provides DirectX 9 graphics through Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 900 engine, but Shuttle has still incorporated a PCI Express x16 slot for a dedicated graphics card. Like the SB81P, the SB83G5 also features Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire/1394, four USB 2.0 ports, optical and coaxial audio I/O with the i915G's multi-channel surround sound support. Wireless connectivity is available via a plug-in WLAN module, the PN15. The SB83G5 is powered by a 250W Silent X PSU. Shuttle did not provide prices for the models, but the SB81P is expected to ship for around $300/£165, we hear. ® Related stories Tyan to ship Socket T mobos next quarter Intel intros 775-pin Pentium 4s Makers tout i925, i915-based mobos ahead of Intel launch Wi-Fi to come late to Grantsdale party Nvidia rejigs nForce 3 for AMD's Socket 939 Intel launches 90nm Celerons Intel preps P4 core update Related reviews ABIT AS8 Socket T mobo with AGP Intel i915P, G and i925X chipsets
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2004

ESA on mission to surf gravity's waves

A UK company has won the contract to build the heart of an ESA experiment designed to detect gravity waves, predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity. The Lisa (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Pathfinder mission, scheduled for launch in 2008, is a precursor to the main event. The Lisa mission itself could revolutionise astronomy, scientists say, but before that can happen, they need to know whether their experiments will work. This is where the pathfinder mission comes in. Identifying the ripples in space-time is no easy task, and although there is indirect evidence for their existence, no-one has ever detected one directly. Experiments on Earth searching for gravity waves do so by bouncing laser beams down tunnels that are hundreds of metres long, and checking for tiny path deviations.The disturbances the astronomers are looking for are vanishingly small - approximately a thousandth of the size of a proton. The idea behind the Lisa mission is that in space, a laser beam can be sent rather further, and so the disturbance in the photon's path will be larger and easier to detect. Easier, but not easy, and still only around a billionth of a millimetre over five million kilometres. The Lisa mission will consist of three spacecraft flying in a triangular formation. The sides of this equilateral triangle will be five million kilometres long. Each craft will hold a free floating gold block held in place by electrostatic fields. The lasers will measure the distances between these blocks. Part of the job of the pathfinder mission is to find out how well insulated the scientists have been able to make the craft from background noise that could overwhelm the instrumentation. They have also developed ways of allowing for the gravity of the individual components which also need to be tested. Professor David Southwood, Esa's director of science told The BBC: "To find answers you have to search the unknown. Lisa takes us into totally new activities; a totally new kind of astronomy. Pathfinder is the necessary technological step that kicks us off into an unknown Universe." ® Related stories Chocks away for NASA's Einstein test Einstein probe launch delayed Perfect balls and rubber sheets Einstein fends off Reality Distortion Field
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Jun 2004

BOFH and the workplace hazards

Episode 20Episode 20 What the hell's that?" the PFY asks as he enters Mission Control, narrowly missing a huge pile of paper just inside the door. "That would be the identified hazards in our workplace," I reply. "What the BLOODY HELL are they playing at?!" the PFY snaps, echoing my own frustration. "They've been annoying us for more than a bloody year now!" "They claim that the IT Division’s injury rate approaches that of a small civil war so they're paying particular attention to the Division, and our office in particular." "So that' the office covered then?" "No that pile is just for this room!" "You're joking!" "No, they've really gone overboard," I reply, grabbing several sheets of paper. "These bookshelves, >tap< >wobble< >wobble<, are not fixed to the wall and have heavy objects at a height which raises its centre of gravity dangerously." "But they made us put them there because they said they were too low before and would cause back strain in lifting!" "Uh huh. >flip< And this table >clank< >clank< has a wobbly leg, which could mean that if someone stumbled into it, it would collapse, dropping that machine onto someone's foot." "It was them who made us turn the table around because they said it blocked an egress path." "Again, yes. >flip< These boxes of tapes are also dodgy, bump into them and they might topple down on top of you..." "But they said the tape room was too overcrowded for people to access and that we’d have to store some tapes in a different location!" "Uh-huh. >flip< The table top bulk eraser has no electrical earth." "It’s double insulated! It’s not supposed to have an earth! The only way it’d cause a problem unless you poured water down it! Anyway it's isolated on the deskside UPS." "AH HAH!" I cry ">flip< Overvoltage warning lamp on deskside UPS unit." "It's done that since we bought it. It's perfectly alright. Anyway, it's only an eraser." "You're talking to the wrong man. >flip< That >scuff< carpet tile in the doorway has lifted, causing a trip hazard." “THEY BLOODY LIFTED IT WHEN THEY WERE TESTED THEM TO SEE HOW WELL STUCK DOWN THEY WERE." "Again, I am not disagreeing with you." "So you're just going to fix all these things now so that the solutions will be next inspection's problems?" he asks sarcastically. "Not at all. I rang the inspector bloke, who, it has to be admitted, has the personality of a tamponvending machine, who told me that once we read the 150-page newly-revised safety-in-the-workplace manual, we'll know all we need to about making the place safe." "I don't do manuals," the PFY snips. "Yes, that's what I said, but he told me that it's our responsibility to have a safe workplace. He also said that he'll be doing fortnightly inspections to ensure that we comply with the company's new work-safe policy." "What new work-safe policy?" "Buggered if I know. Anyway he said he'd walk us through the main points today so that we could make a start and avoid the non-compliance penalties." "Penalties?" the PFY says "Yeah, in the work-safe policy. It's a carrot and stick idea, with more of the stick than the carrot. Apparently, the company's considering moving to a deferred bonus for staff and contractors, and this could be one of the things that puts the kybosh on your bonus. You know, too many accidents, no bonus." "The bastard!" "No, no, he's just doing his job, keeping us safe. Anyway, he should be here anytime to..." >Knock Knock< "Just thought I'd grab the bull by the horns and get down to business as soon as pos.." he starts, tripping on the aforementioned carpet tile, then regaining his balance momentarily by standing on the large stack of H&S violation reports ... ...which slides out from under his foot. "Whoops!" he says, ploughing into one of the aforementioned bookcases. >Wobble< >CRASH! "Hey, they were right about that bookcase!" the PFY cries, surprised. >Clank!< >Crash< "And that table!" >Topple< >Crash< >crash< >crash< "And the boxes of tapes." >KZZZZZEeeerrrrrt!< >ZZzzzzzzzzzap< >Bang!< "Maybe that overvoltage light was actually working after all," he mumbles as the smoke clears. "Bloody lucky we had a Health and Safety bloke to point it all out to us..." >slam< "What the hell is going o..." the Boss starts, crashing into Mission Control to see what all the noise is about. >trip< >Wobble< >CRASH< >BZZZERRRRRT!< >Zip< >Zip< >zzzzap< .. one ambulance ride for two later . . "This place is a BLOODY DEATHTRAP!" I gasp, recounting the past half-hour. "I'd agree," the PFY responds. "We definitely need to be putting some things into place." "Warning signs?" I suggest. "I was thinking more of a video camera. I almost pissed myself when the boss faceplanted the bulk eraser. A memory like that would have been priceless on tape." "Yeah. And we could have made a tidy little sum from those bloopers shows too." "Ah well, there's always next time," the PFY sighs, picking at the corner of a floor tile...® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here BOFH is copyright © 1995-2004, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 24 Jun 2004
ASCII picture of tombstone

Programming pioneer Bob Bemer dies at 84

Bob Bemer - the man who helped bring ASCII, the ESCape and backslash keys, and Y2K warnings to the world - died this week at his home on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. Bemer, 84, died as a result of cancer, his stepson told the AP. During his storied career, Bemer worked at RAND Corp. Marquardt, Lockheed, IBM, Univac, Bull, General Electric and Honeywell. He is perhaps best known for playing a role in the development of the ASCII code for representing English characters as numbers. Reg readers no doubt know ASCII well. Bemer also laid claim to the creation of COBOL, the ESC key, the backslash key and the 8-bit per byte standard. Last year, Bemer received the IEEE's Computer Pioneer Award, and his many achievements can be found here. The programmer also gave early warnings in 1971 and 1979 about upcoming Y2K problems. You might get a kick out of Bemer's "Yes, I am the father of ASCII" license plate seen here. His wife Bettie drives a Mercedes with an "ESC KEY" plate. Bemer was born on Feb. 8, 1920 in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. He left some amazing writings on computing history here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2004