5th > August > 2004 Archive

Intel cool on 802.20

Intel could be closing the door on the emerging 802.20 mobile broadband wireless access standard after the company admitted to uncertainty surrounding the working group's ability to put aside self-interest. But the chip giant has finally accepted the rise of the Bluetooth short-range wireless technology, which will shortly be accommodated in its wireless LAN chipsets. Intel's position was outlined at a journalist presentation given by senior executives from its communications group in Palo Alto, California last Friday. Intel's top-line position on wireless technology support was provided by Sean Maloney, executive VP and general manager for the group. Mr Maloney re-affirmed Intel's commitment to WLAN, WiMax, GSM/GPRS and WCDMA but was equivocal on the likelihood of the company developing chipsets around the IEEE's developing 802.20 standard, also known as mobile broadband wireless access. The technology, which offers high-bandwidth wireless Internet access even when the user is moving at speed, has been seen as a rival to the 802.16 wireless metropolitan area network technology, now embodied in WiMax. However, standards efforts have already been slowed by considerable in-fighting among the main protagonists. Intel, perhaps naturally under the circumstances, appears somewhat skeptical that the situation can easily be resolved, although Mr Maloney did not completely rule out the possibility of adopting the technology at a later date. "I have to avoid saying anything that's interesting enough for you to quote. The WiMax community is full of people that compete with each other but it's a functional family. It seems to me that the arguments around 802.20 are much more complicated," said Mr Maloney. Intel's confidence in WiMax, for which it is a major supporter, has grown. "It's early and [there's a lot of] skepticism around it. We're trying to be cautious but we're six months more confident than we were six months ago. In 12 months time we'll have very considerable experience," said Mr Maloney. "The interoperability of WiMax provides a very high economics both for Intel and the foundries. At some point you've got to look at areas with volume economics," added Jim Johnson, VP and general manager of the wireless networking group within Intel's communications group. Intel's first WiMax-approved chipset is expected to appear commercially before the end of this year. But while Intel has cast doubt on its possible backing of 802.20 in future the company has finally recognized the rise of Bluetooth as an important wireless technology, even if it remains unlikely to develop Bluetooth chipsets itself. Johnson said Bluetooth will be accommodated in its updated line of Centrino chips, with a new technology addition known as Coexistence 2. "We'll be adding Coexistence 2 in the fall a, b, g refresh," said Johnson. "We're now saying let's give Bluetooth its fair bandwidth allocation. Before [in the presence of WLAN] it was just pushed aside." Doubt remains over the future of the 802.20 project after the representatives of leading advocates Navini, ArrayComm and Flarion were voted out of office in June 2003 to be replaced by representatives of Lucent, NTT DoCoMo, and a former senior Motorola executive. This outcome was viewed by 802.20 supporters as a political coup to suppress development of the technology by 3G and 802.16e equipment vendors that had managed to gain voting rights. Where this leaves the 802.20 effort is unclear. However, its supporters remain adamant that the technology is not competitive with WiMax, with the former likely to be rolled out along the lines of a traditional cellular mobile phone network over a large footprint while WiMax installations will probably be relatively small-scale in terms of footprint. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related research: Datamonitor, "MarketWatch: Telecoms Annual Subscription" Related stories Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks Intel: WiMAX in notebooks by 2006 Intel invests in smart antennae to drive Wi-Fi, WiMAX
Datamonitor, 05 Aug 2004

Hynix creditors to vote on China DRAM fab plan

Hynix will today get the green light from its creditors for its scheme to build a $1.75bn DRAM fab in China. The fab will be co-funded by European chip maker STMicroelectronics, and has been the subject of talks that have taken place between the two firms for most of the year. It's this co-operation that appears to have persuaded Hynix' creditors to OK the deal having originally been opposed to it. The creditors own around 80 per cent of the memory maker. Today, it is believed, they will formally give the JV their blessing through a vote on the proposal. "We expect to get approval for the plan this time, as several main creditors have changed their position to support it," an official at one of Hynix' creditor banks told the Financial Times this week. if the plan goes ahead, Hynix and STMicro will both put $500m into the project, with Chinese banks and institutions tossing in a further $750m. Hynix is on a roll right now, having broken its profitability records during Q2 on sales that pushed the company past Micron to take world number two DRAM maker spot. However, the company also faces the prospect of an official Japanese Finance Ministry enquiry into the alleged unlawfulness of the rescue funding its creditors have pumped into it at the turn of the Century. ® Related stories Japan to probe Hynix DRAM dealings Hynix overtakes Micron in world DRAM chart Hynix reports record profit Hynix creditors rethink China DRAM plant plan STMicro confirms Hynix JV talks Hynix cashes in its chips Hynix, STMicro plot Chinese DRAM JV
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

Lastminute.com axes 350 jobs

Lastminute.com is to cull 350 jobs and close ten of its 25 offices in a bid to slash overheads and "streamline" its operation. The cutbacks will be carried out during the 2005 financial year. The exact details of who is for the chop haven't been release although the Internet travel and gift outfit said it would release further details at the end of next month. Although the one-time dotcom darling is reluctant to give away too many details, it seems it wants to "further eliminate duplication and introduce more uniform, streamlined processes across the Group" following a recent round of acquisitions including German doppelganger lastminute.de and Online Travel Corporation (OTC). As a result, six offices in the UK and four overseas will be shut. Once the 350 jobs are cut Lastminute.com's headcount will reduce to around 2,050. "We anticipate that costs will be reduced significantly by the effect of the rationalisation of various call centres as we move forward into the 2005 financial year. This is a carefully considered initiative, which we believe will significantly improve the service quality in these functions," said the company in a statement. Publishing its Q3 results today, Lastminute.com reported turnover of £168m, up from £62.6m during the same period last year. Pre-tax loss increased from £12.2m last year to £17m in Q3 2004. Said chief exec, Brent Hoberman: "We have consolidated our position as the leading online independent travel and leisure group in Europe and have made continued progress in a number of key areas of our operation. Whilst the outlook for the final quarter of the financial year remains challenging we remain confident of making further significant progress." Earlier this year Lastminute.com axed around a dozen IT jobs after deciding to export tech jobs to Argentina. At the time the Internet company said it was a "carefully considered initiative, which we believe will significantly improve the service quality in these functions". ® Related stories Lastminute buys German doppelganger Lastminute losses lessen Lastminute founder injured in Morocco Martha Lane Fox sells £4.6m in shares Lastminute narrows loss Lastminute.com culls IT jobs Lastminute.com cleared of mocking the Christian faith
Tim Richardson, 05 Aug 2004

SEC sends Wells notice to Business Objects

Business Objects, the French software company, admitted yesterday that it had received a Wells notice from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), recommending that charges be brought against the company for allegedly failing to disclose its order backlog. The irony, of course, is that Business Objects is a maker of business intelligence software, named by The FT, business analysts and the company itself, as one of the key technology tools companies will need to help comply with corporate governance regulations. The company confirmed it had received the notice, and said it would be responding in writing to defends its position. In a statement, the company said its disclosures were "compliant with the security laws and are consistent with industry and general practice". It also pointed out that none of its executive staff will be named as defendants, and said it believed the inquiry was not into "revenue recognition" issues. The SEC began investigating the company in May of this year, sending the stock price down to a 52 week low of $18.85. When the company completed its acquisition of Crystal Decisions in January this year, the value of share rose to over $38. Yesterday's news nearly returned the stock to its lowest point as investors sold up. The shares lost 7.4 per cent of their value during trading in Paris. By midday, the shares were down six percent on the NASDAQ, hitting $19.48, but recovered slightly to close at $19.75, a loss of 4.69 per cent. ® Related stories Oracle eyes Business Objects from afar NEC sub defrauds US gov Microsoft treads softly on compliance SEC opens IBM's books
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Aug 2004

AOL buys Mailblocks to fight spam

In briefIn brief AOL yesterday announced the acquisition of privately held anti-spam firm Mailblocks for an undisclosed amount. Mailblocks, which launched its first commercial service in March 2003, is best known for its development of 'challenge/response' technology to fight unwanted junk email and authenticate legitimate email senders. AOL said it wanted to add this technology to its existing anti-spam measures in order to help its members to keep their in-boxes free of junk mail. The Internet services giant also said it wanted to use other aspects of Mailblocks' technology to spruce up its user interface. The technology will be introduced in a series of phased upgrades. First up AOL will integrate Mailblocks' streamlined user interface for those who access their mail via the web. AOL will then make Mailblocks' 'challenge/response' technology available as an option for all its users. No timescale was given for these plans. ® Related stories Sender authentication is coming Big six unite to can spam Spammer prosecutions waste time and money AOL raffles spammer's seized Porsche
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2004

Dell offers 64-bit Pentium 4 workstations

Dell this week rolled out 64-bit Pentium 4-based workstations alongside its more heavily-publicised 64-bit Xeon servers. The PC maker's Precision 370 family of single-processor workstations is now on sale with 3.2GHz, 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz P4s offered as CPU options. Crucially, each P4 is described as supporting EM64T, Intel's AMD64-like 64-bit extensions to the 32-bit x86 instruction set. For all that 64-bit capability, Dell is not shipping the 370 with a memory complement that exceeds 4GB - an even that amount requires buyers to fork out an extra $1670 for parts and installation. However, the workstations can be bought with Red Hat Linux pre-installed, so that's the 64-bit OS support taken care of. The workstations are offered with Serial ATA or SCSI drives, with RAID on or off, and at capacities of 40GB (one drive) up to 438GB (three drives) That the machines use a 'Prescott' Pentium 4 rather than a Xeon should come as no great surprise: Intel has long offered a line of P4s for the single-processor server and workstation markets. But it does confirm, at last, that the top-end P4s are 64-bit capable. What's not yet clear is the extent to which the functionality can be enabled in the desktop version - is it burned out, or disabled through the BIOS? Prices for the 64-bit 370 with a suitable OS start at $1572 in the US. The lowest-cost model in the UK is £1056 inc. VAT, but here Dell does not offer an EM64T-capable OS, according to the 370 'configure and buy' page. ® Related stories Dell boosts Q2 earnings on tax break Dell and HP have a green moment UK PC biz sees best growth for four years Europe boosts global PC sales in Q2 Intel: common Xeon, Itanic chipset by 2007 AMD Opteron noses into Euro x86 server sales Sun's Opteron fleet finally goes on sale
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

IBM promises no patent assault on Linux

IBM has promised it will not use its stockpile of patents against Linux unless it is "forced to defend itself". The company made its announcement at LinuxWorld, where it laid down the gauntlet to other software companies, challenging them to follow its lead. In a speech at the conference, Nick Donofrio, senior vice president for technology and manufacturing said: "IBM has no intention of asserting its patent portfolio against the Linux kernel, unless of course we are forced to defend ourselves," ZDNet reports. According to Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), IBM holds 60 patents on which the Linux kernel potentially infringes. Given that any one patent suit will cost millions to defend, IBM could wreak havoc on Linux, and on the open source community in general if it chose to pursue the patents. The news will no doubt also be welcome in Munich" where city authorities have postponed their plans to migrate to Linux over concerns about the new European directive covering software patents. IBM's record on filing patents is impressive: it files more patents every year than any other tech company, a cultural tradition that owes a lot to patent lawyer Marshall Phelps. Phelps is now working with Microsoft, which OSRM estimates holds 27 patents covering ideas and techniques used in the Linux code. The Redmond-based software giant has not indicated whether or not it will be taking any such action. For its part, Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), the Linux consortium that now employs Linux inventor Linus Torvalds, said that if it was challenged, it would issue workarounds for code in Linux that infringes on "the legitimate legal rights of others", a promise it has extended to patented material. IBM's promise is a good one, as far as it goes. The company has only promised not to go after Linux, not the open source movement in general, and has said nothing about changing the way it approaches its patent collection. ® Related stories Novell takes SuSE Enterprise Linux to the next kernel Neutered SCO no longer on the offensive Patent fears halt Munich Linux migration
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Aug 2004

Digital print booths: Kodak addresses your concerns

We're obliged to Kodak for getting back to us to answer the questions raised by one reader's recent field test of the Kodak digital print booth as now enjoyed by Boots' customers across the UK. First, there's the matter of payment. Our man on the streets Simon Prentagast noted that you print out your snaps first, then flash the cash at the counter. Of course, there's nothing stop stop you legging it without paying. Reader Ken Tindell offered: On the subject of printing photos and walking away, I was shocked to discover that when I went into Sainsburys last week I was able to walk up to the deli counter, order cheese and noone asked me for money! Amazing. All they gave me was a ticket saying how much the cheese was. I mean, you could just walk out without paying. And all those items on shelves, too. None of them are fastened down: you can just pick them up, put them in your pocket, and walk out without paying. Someone should look into this shocking state of affairs. I think there should be a crackdown on people taking goods and not paying. There should be a law against it. And perhaps some form of Government regulator to enforce a "paying for stuff" policy? The regulators of this "Ofpol" could even wear catchy blue uniforms. Nicely put. Here's what Kodak has to say: Payment - it is possible to activate a password so that staff have to enter a password before the consumer prints, thereby ensuring that the prints are paid for. Boots at head office level have made the decision to disable this function and instead site the kiosks as close to the photo counter as possible. Function disabled? Let's hope so, because here's what happens when it isn't: Interesting article about the Kodak kiosk. About a year ago I visited the largest Boots store in Nottingham (the home of Boots) and used their own Boots-branded kiosk up there to print my photos off a CD full of .jpgs I'd burned. The queue for the usual photo service was massive and I was pleased to find that "Techno Fear" had left the kiosk free. I found the interface easy to use and whipped through the selection and size choices. I then clicked the "Confirm" button and was prompted with a message to contact a member of staff to key in the print authorisation code before printing would commence. So being the polite chap I am, I had to get to the back of the chuffing queue It would have been nice to have been told I would require the intervention of staff before I started the whole "Self-Serve" process. The chap explained to me this was to prevent people "Spamming" the photo printers which are located in the processing lab behind the counter. I guess this also cut out the ability to shuffle off with your prints directly from the kiosk. It would seem that the Kodak kiosks must benefit from the economy of scale of bulk purchase if Boots have ditched their own kit. Does seem odd that they rely on the integrity of the punter to pay after. The Boots online service is excellent though. Really efficient and enables me to send pics of the kids straight from the camera to their website and they send the hardcopies to my parents saving me much hassle. For once, something that works as expected. If you haven't seen it, have a butchers. Thanks to James Jennett for that input. For our extra-Blighty readers, butchers = butcher's hook = look. As regards chuffing, you can work that out for yourselves. Of course, James' experiences were a year ago. We're prepared to believe that Boots has now dealt with this annoying obstacle to fast-photography and that shoplifting snappers can get back to the serious business of "doing a runner" with their prints. Now, what about your snaps being stored in the memory so that any lurking paedo can come in and reel off copies of your little one's first birthday party? Kodak says: Previous pictures button - the kiosk was installed with this function disabled on the request of Boots head office. We can only assume that the store has reactivated it. Would you be able to confirm for me which store Simon visited so that we can address this? We'll certainly ask him. Kodak went on to address the matter of price, although most of our correspondents seemed happy with this aspect of the digikiosk service: Cost - prints from the kiosk are priced at a premium to reflect the convenience of consumer control over selection and free editing functions. Boots themselves have other print from digital options that are slower (e.g. 1 hour) without the editing therefore and at a lower price. Fair enough. On the subject of editing, here's some final solid advice from Bob Cunningham: After trying the newest Kodak kiosks appearing in Radio Shack stores in southern California, I contacted Kodak to discuss what seemed to me to be some glaring problems. I have some experience with imaging systems, and was once employed by a company that had been a division of Kodak prior to being spun-off. First, when you zoom in on part of an image, the system doesn't tell you when the print will start to become blocky or "pixelated". The camera I carry around most is only 1.3 megapixels, so any cropping at all will soon reduce the image to only a handful of pixels. The kiosk will happily print such an image, and the result will have a decidedly blocky appearance. Having some warning before wasting a print would be nice, much less after wasting a dozen prints intended for family distribution. Of course, I've never been asked to pay for what I consider to be "bad" prints, so only my time and Kodak's resources were wasted. An alternative to permitting pixelation to appear is to "re-sample" the image to insert pixels of intermediate values between the too-few pixels in the image. At worst, this will yield an image that appears to be somewhat out of focus. But it won't appear blocky, which is worse. Often enough, my pictures actually are out of focus, so who's to know? Having either of these features, a "low resolution" warning or a resampling capability, would greatly improve the appearance of the images that finally do get printed. My contact with Kodak resulted in an exchange that can best be summed up as: "Well, we thought we were already doing all that stuff." I'm left wondering if they were looking at the same kiosk product I was? If you print only images containing a megapixel or more (after zoom/crop) at the 6"x4" size (scaled appropriately for larger sizes), then your images will appear crisp and have vivid color. Alternatively, you can use freely available software on your PC to zoom and crop your images at home, prior to taking them to a Kodak kiosk for printing. I'd recommend doing this anyway, since spending much time standing in front of a kiosk that isn't quite the right height can soon become uncomfortable. It is far better to arrive with images that are ready to print. Well said, sir. And that concludes this round of the Kodak digital print booth saga. Keep those front-line experiences coming. ® Related stories Reg reader tackles Kodak digital print booth Boots deploys digital print kiosks
Lester Haines, 05 Aug 2004

Gigabyte alleges Asus is mobo speed 'cheat'

UpdatedUpdated Gigabyte has accused rival motherboard maker Asus of rigging recent benchmark tests. It alleges that Asus "clandestinely" enabled a hidden overclocking mode in its BIOS that made certain Asus mobos appear to run faster than they do in the real world. Asus quickly responded to the claim by formally launching the hidden mode as "an exclusive innovation for graphics performance enhancement". According to a memo published by ExtremeTech, Gigabyte decided to test Asus' boards based on Intel's i915 and i925 chipsets after its rival's products took the lead in a number of independently conducted third-party tests that explored the a variety of Intel-based boards' graphics performance. When it came to Asus' P5AD2 Premium board - based on the i925X - Gigabyte claims an investigation of the board's BIOS revealed a setting called 'PEG Link Mode'. "This setting clandestinely overclocks the frequency of memory and core engines of ATI-based PCI-Express graphics," Gigabyte's memo claims. "It was also found that 'PEG Link Mode' is not an enhancement feature for the motherboard, as it provides enhancement only to the graphics card's memory and core engine frequency, ostensibly with the sole purpose to obtain higher benchmark results on 3D graphics". Gigabyte alleges that Asus did not tell reviewers that it had enabled 'PEG Link Mode' or told buyers that their ATI graphics cards would automatically be overclocked. The upshot, said Gigabyte, is that this "clandestine overclocking" of the attached graphics card's memory and core clock frequencies is "misleading to the public, seeks an unfair means to gain an advantage over the competition and frankly sets a bad example which competitors may be forced to follow". There's perhaps less of an issue here if all P5AD2 Premium boards ship with the graphics enhancing mode since the tests will represent users' experience of off-the-shelf products. Even so, it's still questionable behaviour - on any product maker's part - to overclock one or more components of a user's system without the user's knowledge. Asus has now admitted the mode is present, as a "unique feature that enables users to boost graphics card performance for superior video quality", and has added a PEG Link Mode user-adjustable setting to its BIOS. Would it have done so it Gigabyte had not made its allegations public? ® Related stories Apple accused of cheating over G5 benchmarks Further Nvidia driver 'optimisation' detected - report FutureMark: Nvidia didn't cheat ATI admits it 'optimised' drivers for 3DMark 03
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

FCC approves taps on broadband and VoIP

US regulators yesterday ruled tentatively in favor of an FBI and Justice Department proposal that would compel Internet broadband and VoIP providers to open their networks up to easy surveillance by law enforcement agencies. At issue is the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a federal law that mandates surveillance backdoors in US telephone networks, allowing the FBI to start listening in on a target's phone calls within minutes of receiving court approval. Last March, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration jointly petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a ruling that cable modem companies and other broadband providers are also covered by the law. "Our support for law enforcement is unwavering," said FCC chairman Michael Powell, reading from a statement at a public meeting of the commission Wednesday. "It is our goal in this proceeding to ensure that law enforcement agencies have all of the electronic surveillance capabilities that CALEA authorizes to combat crime and terrorism and support homeland security." The 5-0 ruling is open to public comment before it takes effect, and the FCC is seeking guidance on some implementation details, including the issue of how much time to allow service providers to wire their networks for spying. Though the ruling was unanimous, two commissioners expressed concern that the FCC's interpretation of the 1994 law was precarious, and might later be overturned in the courts. "There are better was to build a system that will encourage judicial approval," said commissioner Michael Copps." As it is, the ruling is "too flush with tentative conclusions that stretch the statutory framework almost to tear," Copps said. The decision is a milestone for the Justice Department, which first began lobbying for CALEA's application to the Internet over two years ago. Federal law already compels ISPs to cooperate with law enforcement in court-approved surveillance of customers, but as police rely more on Internet snooping - with tools like the FBI's "Carnivore" DCS-1000 packet sniffer - they've begun to crave the speed and ease-of-use of the wiretapping infrastructure that CALEA grafted onto the modern telephone network. The EFF, ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Democracy and Technology all filed comments opposing the plan, and an ACLU letter-drive generated hundreds of mailings from citizens against what the group called "the New Ashcroft Internet Snooping Request." Related stories Webtapping battle lines drawn Spooks want more Webtapping powers
Kevin Poulsen, 05 Aug 2004

BT and CPW in £1,000 challenge showdown

The Carphone Warehouse's (CPW) pledge that if it ain't cheaper than BT it'll cough up £1,000 could be about to be tested following BT's claim that it is now cheaper than CPW. BT says that Carphone has raised some bill-paying charges to £3.50 a month, while the monster telco insists it only charges people who don't pay by direct debit just £1 extra. Plus, the UK's dominant fixed line telco says that some of its tariffs are now cheaper that CPW's TalkTalk service, based on analysis from comparison site uSwitch.com. As a result, it's egging on TalkTalk punters to take up a challenge made by CPW boss, Charles Dunstone, in April who boasted: "We are so convinced TalkTalk will save you money over BT, if we can't prove it, we'll give you £500." Since then, the cash on offer has doubled to a cool grand with CPW claiming "Cheaper than BT Guaranteed! Or we'll give you £1,000". Now BT has decided to face the "challenge" head-on and is calling Dunstone's bluff. Tough-talking BT exec, Gavin Patterson said: "They made a big play of offering £1,000 to any BT customer who changed to Carphone Warehouse and wasn't better off as a result. Well we think it might be interesting for people to take Charles Dunstone at his word and see if they can relieve him of £1,000. "Carphone Warehouse has scored a bit of an own goal by charging customers who don't pay by direct debit an extra £3.50 a month. Our prices were already great value and within a whisker of the cheapest available. These charges mean that for some people who want to see the bill before writing a cheque BT will now be cheaper than Carphone Warehouse," he said. A spokeswoman for CPW said: "We don't understand Gavin's point. Direct debit is mandatory to join TalkTalk: if you can't pay by direct debit you can't be a TalkTalk customer. This is made very clear if you try to join TalkTalk on the site [uSwitch.com] referred to by BT. ® Related stories BT punters flee Carphone Warehouse has a good quarter Carphone Warehouse in minimum wage 'sting' One.Tel in free calls offer BT fires gimmick salvo at Carphone Warehouse Carphone Warehouse declares war on BT Carphone Warehouse in free call offer
Tim Richardson, 05 Aug 2004

FBI publishes computer crime and security stats

Every year for the past nine years, the Computer Security Institute and the FBI undertake a computer crime and security survey among companies and institutions in the US. These surveys provide interesting insights into the level of computer crime being experienced by companies, as well as how they are responding to security breaches. Computer security has evolved from being purely the domain of IT resources to the point now where even the board of a company take an interest. This growing concern about security has come about as the internet has emerged to be a ubiquitous business tool. When the CSI and FBI started performing this survey in the mid-1990s, computer security concerns largely centred on technical issues such as encryption, access controls and intrusion detection systems. By 2004, the ninth annual survey indicates that companies are becoming more concerned with the economic, financial and risk management aspects of computer security in addition to the purely technical aspects. This indicates the greater importance that is being placed on security by senior management in organisations. Overall, the 2004 survey indicates that the frequency of successful attacks against corporate information systems is decreasing - and has been in steady decline since 2001. In fact, only 53 per cent of respondents indicated that they had experienced unauthorised use of their computational systems in the past year, which is the lowest level since 1999. Over the past year, there has been a dramatic drop in reports of system penetration, insider abuse and theft of intellectual property. Across respondents, there was also a fairly even split between reports of breaches coming from inside and outside of the organisation. This is a substantial change from last year's survey, when 80 per cent of respondents reported insider abuse of networks to be the most common form of attack or abuse and indicates that security implementations are having some level of success in stopping these attacks. Even though 99 per cent of organisations surveyed are using anti-virus technology, virus attacks were cited as the most common form of security incident, affecting 78 per cent of respondents. Further, virus attacks are contributing the most in terms of financial loss stemming from security incidents owing to the emerging threat of virus attacks being combined with denial of service attacks - costing companies more than double in monetary terms than any other type of security breach reported. The next most costly forms of attack are theft of proprietary information, insider abuse of networks and the newly emerging threats of abuse of wireless networks. After virus attacks, insider abuse of networks was cited as the second most common form of security incident, reported by 59 per cent of organisations, followed by laptop or mobile phone theft, which affected 49 per cent of the survey sample. For the first time, the survey asked respondents whether or not they conduct security audits of their information networks to look for vulnerabilities in a proactive manner. Whilst 82 per cent of respondents indicated that they do conduct such audits, that still leaves a sizeable 18 per cent of organisations that do not conduct this exercise - one of the most fundamental aspects of boosting the security of organisations. One further new area was examined in the 2004 computer crime and security survey - that of the impact of regulation, specifically Sarbanes-Oxley, on the information security activities of companies. Corporate governance has been on the lips of corporate executives for the past year, and high-profile court cases have begun to hand out strict jail terms for transgressors. But, surprisingly, only among executives from the financial services, utilities and telecommunication industries did the majority state that Sarbanes-Oxley had affected their information security activities. In contrast, most of the respondents from other industry sectors did not agree that Sarbanes-Oxley had raised the level of interest in information security in their organisations or had shifted the focus from technology to corporate governance. It is my bet that this is a situation that will change dramatically over the coming year. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories Al-Qaeda cyber terrorist panics US Your data online: safe as houses Sasser kid blamed for viral plague
Fran Howarth, 05 Aug 2004

BT launches fixed-line SMS

BT has launched a range of phones that will allow people to send a receive text messages on their fixed telephone lines. The service will send texts to and from mobile phones and between fixed line phones. For those without SMS enabled handsets, BT will convert the text to speech. So far, Vodafone, T-Mobile BT Mobile and 3 have signed up and BT says it expects O2 will introduce the service within weeks. As for land line customers who want to text, naturally BT's own customers can play, as can those of Kingston Communications and Telewest, although Telewest's outgoing service will not kick in until the end of the year. Mike Short, chairman of the Mobile Data Association (MDA) said that fixed line text was a technically complex service, but "BT has the advantage of being able to learn from the efforts and challenges of European incumbents and benchmark performance to ensure that the UK gets it right". Figures from the MDA at the end of 2003 indicate we Brits send, on average, 59m text messages every day, and BT would dearly love to tap into that revenue stream. Pricing is in line with the cost of texting using a mobile phone. For BT customers, texts sent from a land line will cost 10p, or 8p for BT together customers. Fixed line to fixed line texts are being offered free until November this year. Texts sent from a mobile to a BT phone are charged at the normal operator rate. The phones are on the market now, and start at £29.99. ® Related stories Pssst, wanna spam mobile phones? Team moots car alerts via SMS Singaporean sets SMS world speed record
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Aug 2004

UK.biz hit for £250m in phone bill blunders

Billing blunders and the misuse of company phones by employees are costing UK businesses an extra £250m a year, according to alternative telco Energis. Its study found that three quarters of business phone bills are wrong and that seven in ten businesses are paying over the odds for their calls. Bolt on all those "personal" calls made by workers and Energis reckons companies are facing a real financial headache. Said Peter Northing, corporate telephony expert at Energis: "The bigger the phone bill, the greater the risk of billing errors and misuse not being picked up. Fraudulent phone use alone can add up to 15 per cent to the bill but still pass unnoticed." Although these figures are based on a survey of big firms one of those behind the research warned: "If this is the deal that corporates are getting, we can only assume that small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are getting a worse deal." ® Related stories Small.biz faces higher broadband charges Scottish small.biz gets £1m broadband hand-out Broadband ISPs must wise up to small.biz needs
Tim Richardson, 05 Aug 2004

Sony SDM-HS73P 17in X-Black monitor

ReviewReview Sony SDM-HS73P
Trusted Reviews, 05 Aug 2004

Oz teen's crime spree financed mobile phone addiction

An Australian judge has warned of the possible arrival of a disturbing new trend of teenagers stealing goods to finance their addiction to mobile phones. The warning came as the judge sentenced a 17-year-old thief to two years and three months on probation for a series of robberies. Brisbane District Court heard the youth, whilst still a juvenile, was involved in a gang that stole A$30,000 in cash and goods. The unnamed Brisbane teenager pleaded guilty in July 2003 to breaking and entering into a clothing store to steal A$3,000 and one count of burglary involving the theft of A$15,000 in cash and A$12,000 in jewellery from a safe in a house. At a sentencing hearing this week, defence barrister David Kent said the teenager had used proceeds from his crime to pay his mobile phone bill, The Australian reports. It seems unlikely that the teenage ne'er-do-well spent anything but a small proportion of his illicit income to finance his mobile addiction but nonetheless Brisbane District Court Judge David Robin was quick to warn of the arrival of a "disturbing new trend". Well, it does make a bit of a change from robbers stealing mobile phones directly. "For the first time in my experience it appears the acquiring and financing of mobile phones is the motivation for the offence. I bet that will be the new trend – stealing money to finance mobile phones rather than drugs," Judge Robin said. No compensation order was made against the teenager because he lacked any means of compensating victims of his crime spree. ® Related stories Muggers refuse to nick crap mobile phone GSMA declares war on mobile phone theft Police crack down on mobile phone thefts Kids targeted in mobile phone theft lesson Text junkies seek SMS detox
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2004

FCC awards small win to TiVo sharers, MPAA slips safety catch

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided Wednesday that small clusters of TiVo subscribers may exchange content files over the Internet without causing the total collapse of the entertainment pigopoly, Reuters reports. According to the wire service, the FCC has certified a proposed DRM scheme for TiVoToGo, which currently is vaporware, but if launched, would enable one user to send broadcast digital TV to a maximum of nine peers registered on the same account, regardless of their location. If implemented, this would allow subscribers to play content on more than one device in their home, to take it on the road via a laptop, and possibly to share it with a few friends and family members remotely. The FCC determined that TiVo's proposed DRM scheme is adequate to prevent large-scale Internet piracy. The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) and the National Football League (NFL) begged to differ. They are expected to fight the FCC decision. The MPAA is not persuaded that TiVoToGo can perpetuate its total, iron-fisted control over every pixel of Hollywood content, and the NFL is concerned that sport contests might be sent via the Internet to regions that it has blacked out for broadcast. "TiVo has always tried to maintain an appropriate balance between consumer interests and the rights of content providers," TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay insisted. However, since TiVoToGo has not yet materialized, it is difficult to predict what features will ultimately be involved; and the threat of lawsuits from such well-heeled organizations as the MPAA and NFL may well influence how functional it will turn out to be, if and when it is finally launched. ®
Thomas C Greene, 05 Aug 2004

Bosses finger workers for virus attacks

Workers are to blame for many of the security breaches that wreck firms' computers networks, according to research by the Institute of Directors (IoD). Of the 1,240 UK small and medium sized businesses (SMB's) quizzed in its survey, half said they had suffered a virus attack as a result of "misuse" by staff. Six in ten of the companies surveyed said they had been hit by a virus attack. Downloading non-work related applications, opening infected emails and deactivating security software were cited by bosses as the main threats posed by the workforce. Said Sal Viveros, SMB director for McAfee, Inc., the security outfit that carried out the survey with the IoD: "After years of education, human vulnerability is still one of the major causes of network downtime following a virus outbreak. "All too often businesses are preoccupied with patching holes, updating anti-virus and configuring firewalls without looking at the dangers posed by their employees. "Businesses can have the most robust and integrated security system in the world but one end user could still be responsible for introducing malicious code onto the network with potentially serious consequences," he said. The IoD said bosses needed to work together with staff to prevent such slip-ups. ® Related stories SMEs slap hard cash on the IT table UK.biz complacent over virus threats Viruses and spam hit small firms harder Anti-spam tsunami hits SMEs
Tim Richardson, 05 Aug 2004

Apple coughs up for iTunes Music Store patent

Apple has agreed to pay undisclosed royalties to a company that challenged the core concept behind the iTunes Music Store. E-Date Corp. owns European and US patents that describe a "system and method of distributing [commercial] digital content over electronic and wireless networks". The company claimed that ITMS was just such a system, and as such required Apple to license its intellectual property. And that's what the iPod maker has just done, gaining the right to use E-Data's patent throughout the world in exchange for not only future royalties but a payment to cover past usage. Apple hasn't been E-Data's only target. In October 2003, the company instigated legal action against UK-based digital music distributor, On Demand Distribution (OD2), a number of the company's customers and its software supplier, Microsoft. OD2 and co. settled with E-Data last February. The company is also pursuing litigation with online digital photography libraries Corbis and Getty Images. E-Data's key IP is dubbed the 'Freeny Patent' after its inventor, Charles Freeny. In the US it is recorded as patent number 4,528,643, in Europe as EP 0 195 098 B-1. Filed in the mid-1980s, the invention covers the authorised, commercial downloading of content from to a "material object" - essentially a PC, Mac, MP3 player, optical disc, etc. Apple, meanwhile, is also being sued by a British technology firm, BTG, which claims the company's Software Update system infringes a patent it holds for "web-enabled software update technologies". BTG is pursuing Microsoft on the same grounds. ® Related stories E-Data goes after Microsoft music service BTG sues Apple and MS over software downloads IBM promises no patent assault on Linux Patent fears halt Munich Linux migration Cisco drops Huawei lawsuit Sony sued in digicam patent clash Google sued by Planet Goo MS defeated in ergo keyboard patent appeal
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

Google must buy back buddy stock

Google was lauded for bypassing institutional cronyism when it opted for an auction process for its initial public stock offering. But a different kind of cronyism has landed it in breach of financial regulations. Google has been obliged to buy back $28.8m worth of stock and options offered to employees, contractors and buddies after belatedly discovering it had failed to register the giveaways, thus breaching IPO regulations in 18 states, including New York, California and Texas. Google granted the shares to 1,105 employees or contractors, and 301 others. The recission, as it's known, could cost the company almost $26m. There's a problem, however. Two of the largest shareholders have refused Google's buyback price of 20 per cent. Some of the options were granted for as little as 30 cents, while the IPO is priced at between $108 and $135, and of course, stockholders are expected to make a further killing when the auction process begins. Google designed the auction process to bypass the pre-flotation sweeteners that gave the dot.com IPO era a bad name. Venture capitalists who funded the bust-to-begin-with stocks offered generous helpings to financial institutions involved in the IPO process, and to their CEO pals, ensuring they cashed in when the stock started trading. The auction process was intended to be more equitable and more appealing to small investors. However in a CBS poll, over 90 per cent of small investors said they'd give the company a pass. "My take is Google doing the auction (for the little guy) and then pricing shares so outrageously is like a veteran rock group saying they're going on tour for the fans and the cheapest tickets are $500. A lot of fans will skip it and the average investor will be priced out," complained one. It's not the first instance of the bright young things at Google failing to hand in their homework correctly. The company failed to realize that Gmail trademark was already registered in 80 countries and is being sued by the franchise that looks after a popular children's book, the Googles. Both the domain registration and website Googles.com predated the search engine by several months. ® Related stories Google prices IPO, names ticker Google sued by Planet Goo Google prices IPO, names ticker Google demotes Coca Cola jingle Google's public-auction IPO: smart move?
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Aug 2004

Trojan horse stalks PocketPC

Russian virus hunters Kaspersky Labs have detected a Trojan horse programme capable of infecting PDAs running Microsoft's PocketPC operating system. Although a very small number of PocketPC viruses have been located, Brador-A is said to be the first backdoor program capable of infecting handhelds running PocketPC. Previous PocketPC viruses have been written as experiments in coding not for malicious intent. Brador-A breaks this pattern by coming pre-loaded with a series of malicious routines. David Emm, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky Labs, said that PocketPC owners should not be too worried about the Trojan, at least for now. He pointed out that thus far the malware has only been seen in the Lab. It is not circulating on the wider Internet. Also PocketPC users would have to run the Trojan in order to become infected. "It could be spread by sending out emails saying 'check out this cool game for PocketPC' so there is a risk but at the moment PocketPC owner should not be unduly worried." Brador-A is designed to allow its author full control over the infected PDA via the port that the Trojan opens. Like all backdoors, Brador cannot spread by itself: it can only arrive as an email attachment, be downloaded from the Internet or uploaded along with other data from a desktop. After the backdoor is launched, Brador-A creates the svchost.exe file in the Windows auto run folder, loading the malware every time a handheld is turned on. Brador next identifies the machines IP address and sends it to back to its author, informing him that the handheld is in the Internet and the backdoor is active. Finally, Brador-A opens port 44299 and awaits further commands. "We were certain that a viable malicious program for PDAs would appear soon after the first proof of concept viruses emerged for mobile phones and Windows Mobile", said Eugene Kaspersky, head of AV research at Kaspersky Labs, "Brador-A is a full-scale malicious program ready to go: unlike proof of concept malware, Brador has a complete set of destructive functions typical for backdoors." According to Kaspersky Labs, Brador was probably written by a Russian virus writer. The Trojan was attached to an email with a Russian sender and Russian text inside sent to Kaspersky Labs. Its author offered to sell the client part for the Trojan to any interested parties. Kaspersky warns that there is a real chance that the backdoor may be bought by somebody who will use it commercially (bot network creation, for instance). Kaspersky Labs has already updated the antivirus databases with protection against Brador-A. Other AV companies can be expected to follow suit. ® Related stories First PocketPC virus found Virus attacks mobiles via Bluetooth First 64-bit Windows virus sighted Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs The illicit trade in compromised PCs
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2004

Fox bravely shops 9/11 source to Feds

White House gazette Fox News has betrayed to the Feds a high-profile source who exposed intelligence blunders by the National Security Agency (NSA) in dealing with terrorist communications, the Washington Post reports. According to the story, US Senator Richard Shelby (Republican, Alabama), former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has been fingered to the Feds for leaking the embarrassing information to the press. Fox News's Chief Political Correspondent, Carl Cameron, has admitted confirming to the FBI that Senator Shelby disclosed possibly classified information during an interview in June of 2002. Allegedly, Shelby blew the whistle on two messages intercepted by the NSA just before the 9/11 atrocities, claiming that "tomorrow is zero hour," and "the match is about to begin." Unfortunately, the messages were not translated until after the calamity. Shelby, apparently, thought the public needed to evaluate this information. Fox's Cameron claimed that FBI agents frightened him with stories that a grand jury subpoena for his testimony was being sought. He caved in to FBI pressure tactics and coughed up his source, rather than endure the hot seat, even though no such subpoena has ever been obtained. The Justice Department has since dropped its case against Shelby, who is now under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. It is not known whether there is any more evidence than the word of a fearless Fox journalist against him. ®
Thomas C Greene, 05 Aug 2004

Easy VoIP wiretaps coming soon

Virtually everything done via TCP/IP, with the (for now) exception of instant messaging, is on its way to becoming wiretap-friendly, thanks to a tentative 5-0 decision by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday. Thanks to relentless lobbying and fear-mongering by law enforcement outfits and the companies that sell surveillance equipment to them, all broadband communications, including VoIP, will have to be modified to allow the Feds to patch in easily and immediately, in order to comply with the 1994 Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). VoIP schemes that work only between computers will not be affected. Only so-called 'managed' services - those that allow VoIP and PSTN to communicate - will have to comply. Instant messaging is also exempt, although the Feds lobbied ruthlessly for its inclusion, and will no doubt continue until the government finally gives it to them. Encrypted VoIP is available, but only through pricey services geared towards corporate clients. It is possible that the FCC action might result in the development of inexpensive encryption solutions for more basic VoIP services, perhaps via TLS (Transport Layer Security), though it is difficult to imagine extending encryption to calls where VoIP and PSTN are communicating. Other regulatory disputes involving VoIP were not considered in Wednesday's vote. Additionally, 'push to talk' walkie-talkie mobile phone services are equally affected by the CALEA, the FCC has decided. It does not appear that broadband and VoIP providers will receive assistance with the costs of implementing CALEA compliance, unless Congress decides to come to their rescue. The public comment period for VoIP CALEA compliance is still open, but with such a strong bias visible in Wednesday's preliminary vote, it is highly unlikely that anything can alter the FCC's direction. Final approval is all but certain. ® Thomas C Greene is the author of Computer Security for the Home and Small Office, a comprehensive guide to system hardening, malware protection, online anonymity, encryption, and data hygiene for Windows and Linux.
Thomas C Greene, 05 Aug 2004

Bill Gates stalks Nintendo - again

Bill Gates still wants to buy Nintendo, despite being turned down by majority shareholder Hiroshi Yamauchi a few years ago. Speaking to German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche this week, Gates revealed he had maintained his interest in the console maker. And if Yamauchi - a former Nintendo president - gives him a call, "I will pick up at once" and make an offer for his shareholding. Gates first made a play for Nintendo in the late 1990s. His bid was rejected, as was a similar attempt to acquire Sega. The failure to acquire either company is thought to have led Microsoft to develop its own console, Xbox. Last week, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer admitted that the company was hard at work on Xbox's successor, but said that it will not announce any new console in 2005. Some observers suspect he was referring to Microsoft's fiscal year, which ends in June 2005, allowing the software giant to announce 'Xbox 2' sometime within calendar 2005. Sony is expected to formally announced PlayStation 3 early next year, once it has begun shipping the PlayStation Portable. Nintendo may have rejected Gates' ownership overtures, but it remains a fact that it too is working on a next-generation console and that, like Xbox 2, it is based on graphics technology from ATI and PowerPC processor(s) from IBM. We've gone on record before to note our feeling that that two consoles might go further than share chip suppliers, and could even be the same box, pitched at slightly different markets. Nintendo wants to pursue younger gamers, while Microsoft has its eye on a broader home multimedia role for Xbox 2, which it appears to see as a kind of Media Center Jr. ® Related stories Billg on Xbox 2 GameCube sales leap doubles Nintendo Q2 profits Nintendo redesigns DS handheld console Sony to expose PSP insides at September show Sony to unveil PlayStation 3 early '05 Games too complex, Nintendo chief warns Microsoft Xbox has lost the console war already - Sony exec Microsoft readies x86, Nvidia-based rival to PlayStation
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

Pfizer takes big stick to Viagra spammers

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, has declared war on spammers and online pharmacies, illegally peddling pills under the Viagra brand. The company says it will pursue the offending persons and organisations in court. It is taking the action after its market research revealed that a quarter of men think Pfizer is the source of spam emails advertising the drug. The company is suing five websites for trademark infringement and is seeking to seize the domain names of other sites selling 'generic' Viagra pills. It says there is no such things as a generic version of its product, because the no other company is licensed to sell sildenafil citrate, the chemical name for Viagra. It is understandable that Pfizer want to protect the Viagra brand: last year it reported global revenue of $1.9bn from sales of the drug. The company says it also wants to raise awareness of the dangers of unlicensed medication: it said the drug was not the appropriate treatment for all cases of impotence should only be taken after consultation with a doctor. It warned that impotence has many causes, and that taking Viagra could even exacerbate some of these. "Pfizer is taking these steps to help raise consumer awareness about the problems posed by illegitimate online 'pharmacies' and to directly address the source of these problems," said Jeff Kindler, legal spokesman for Pfizer told the BBC® Related stories Porno blog spam turns nasty AOL buys Mailblocks to fight spam Ofcom to crack down on premium rate scamsters Anti-spam spamvertisers agree to quit
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Aug 2004

Gizmondo fishes for game coders with cash fund fly

Another week, another Gizmondo press release. This time the publicity hungry handheld console developer has said it wants to offer developers money for games. Gizmondo Europe today announced a "game innovation fund". The hoard will be used to "support emerging developers who want to take gaming to the next level by leveraging the outstanding range of features of the Gizmondo mobile gaming device". If the handheld is as exciting as its creator would have us believe, you'd have thought developers would be queuing up to code for the console, not waiting for such financial inducements. The truth is Gizmondo, which is due to be launched in the UK and Europe later this year, and in the US during Q1 2005 - about the same time that the PlayStation Portable is expected to show up on that side of the Atlantic - is desperate for games. Last week, the company announced it was buying Swedish games developer Indie Studios, which has already agreed to create two titles for the handheld. Gizmondo is spending $8m of parent company Tiger Telematic's money on the developer. Some 12 more games have been promised by UK-based Fathammer, which is also providing the console's games engine, X-Forge. Other titles may be coming from other developers, but the Gizmondo web site currently lists just four upcoming titles: two apiece from the aforementioned studios. "We're seeing that the industry is suffering from stagnation in innovative titles," bemoaned Gizmondo Acquisition Manager Mikael Astrom. Or they're simply too busy bashing out PSP and Nintendo DS games. "So at an early stage, we've decided to make incremental support money available to our publisher partners in bringing new, innovative titles to our platform," Alstrom adds. Until recently Astrom was the producer on Colors, the urban gang warfare first-person perspective shooter Indie is developing for Gizmondo. Astrom did not say how much cash his company was putting in its game development fund. ® Related stories Gizmondo pushes Button after Jordan F1 deal deflates Gametrac morphs into, er, Gizmondo Gametrac mobile console to ship for under £60
Tony Smith, 05 Aug 2004

Rutan bagsies 'shotgun' in SpaceShipOne

Burt Rutan, the pioneering aviation engineer behind the SpaceShipOne mission, has hinted that he will be aboard the vehicle when it makes its next flight in a bid to become the first commercially-funded craft to leave the Earth's atmosphere. To qualify for the $10m Ansari X-Prize, the craft must make two trips to an altitude of 100km, carrying ballast equivalent to two passengers. Both journeys must be made within a two-week period. The first leg of that journey is scheduled for 29 September. Speaking to BBC Online Rutan said that the team hadn't decided whether some of that ballast would be replaced by him during one of the attempts, but that he will be "one of the first passengers, for sure". On 21 June, when the team made their first flight into space, the craft was piloted by Mike Melvill. Along with Rutan, Melvill is responsible for the design of the craft. Upon landing, he told the press that the experience was "mind blowing", but that he probably ought to back off a little bit now and ride his bike instead. Three pilots have trained for the next attempt and Rutan says a decision about who would be taking the controls would be made in the next two or three weeks. ® SpaceShipOne is part-funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of, and long since cashed out of, Microsoft. Related stories X-prize race hots up SpaceShipOne triumphs SpaceShipOne ready for go SpaceShipOne readied for 21 June launch
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Aug 2004

Legal threat halts second proposed BBC Tech strike

A second proposed strike by BBC Technology staff later this month has been called off following a threat of legal action by the monster broadcaster. BECTU - the union which represents around a quarter of BBC Technology's 1,400 staff - is opposing the sell-off of the department to Siemens. A two-day strike by BBC techies due to start at the end of July was scrapped after employers made a second revised offer to staff. But the union said that industrial action planned for 13/14 August would still go ahead if the revised offer was rejected by staff. Union negotiators want to ensure that staff win certain employment and pension guarantees, such as a promise that no ex-BBC Technology staff would be redeployed within Siemens outside the city they are currently working in. Now, though, BECTU has abandoned plans for this strike to go ahead after the BBC threatened to take the union to court. The union's own lawyers said the BBC's legal threat was "serious". Even if members vote to reject the latest offer on the table by the time the consultative ballot closes on 12 August, there will be no strike on the following day. Despite this setback BECTU has said that unless it wins sufficient assurances it will take industrial action. Said BECTU Assistant Gerry Morrissey: "There are still a significant number of issues unresolved between BECTU and the Corporation concerning BBC Technology which, if not resolved, will lead to a further ballot for industrial action." ® Related stories BBC Technology strike off BBC Tech staff to vote again for strike action BBC Tech strike over outsourcing BBC outsource deal includes staff black list BBC shortlists tech division buyers BBC to flog technology division
Tim Richardson, 05 Aug 2004

'Stealing songs is wrong' lessons head for UK schools

At the beginning of last month the British Government launched a "Music Manifesto" to promote music in schools. But already this typically Blairite bundle of good intentions is being hijacked (with not a little cooperation from the minders in Whitehall) in order to inflict copyright lessons on schoolchildren, from pre-school onwards. The launch itself produced a small fissure in the musical community, with composer Julian Lloyd Webber amongst others boycotting it on the basis that the manifesto didn't actually come in with any funding for activities and instruments. And at the launch EMI commented: "We would like to see schools teaching copyright awareness so that pupils understand its importance not only to those contemplating music as a career, but to society generally" (both these reported here). EMI, one of the manifesto's founding signatories, is a singularly appropriate sponsor of this particular spin on music for kids - not a lot of pigopolists have classic songs specifically about them. But other grinding axes can be heard. A half-day seminar on copyright education took place two weeks ago, and there the Times Educational Supplement reports that "Estelle Morris, the arts minister [she gave the keynote], education and music industry professionals expressed concern that children were increasingly downloading illegally copied material from the Internet." And according to The Guardian EMI is planning a conference for teachers, and "working on lesson plans to explain copyright properly." The government seems to be falling hook, line and sinker for the curious notion that you need to understand that downloading music is stealing before you can possibly learn about, to make and to enjoy music. The copyright seminar was organised by British Music Rights "in partnership" with the Department for Education and Skills and Estelle Morris' Department for Culture, Media and Sports. As BMR general manager Henry Yoxall writes: "[BMR] has signed up to the Government's Music Manifesto by pledging to help deliver an awareness of copyright and a value for creativity. Given the importance of the creative industries to the UK economy, society and culture we believe that it is essential to nurture both potential creators and innovators, as well as inform consumers and audiences of the links between creativity and copyright. We believe that building awareness of copyright and creativity should happen at the very earliest stage in the education system, in primary schools, and that throughout school this should be at the core of appropriate curriculum subjects, e.g. the arts, design and technology, citizenship and enterprise, rather than just as an optional extra." And here it comes, folks. BMR has been involved in the development of lesson plans which have been piloted in a dozen schools in the UK, and a full-scale "awareness initiative" is to be launched in Brussels with the help of the European Music Copyright Alliance in September and rolled out across European schools in October. As far as we can gather, the DfES is currently claiming that it plans to make intellectual property a part of "citizenship" lessons (another piece of Blairite busybodying) but that the details of this have not yet been determined. How 12 UK schools (we believe the DfES is in some vague way associated with these) came to be running pilot lessons in copyright devised by the BMR and friends is therefore unclear to us, nor is it particularly clear who's green-lighting the EMCA schools push in Europe. The EMCA does however have a "Copyright Curriculum" (available here sooon, we're told), which will include " a step-by-step easy to follow lessons plan, definition and information sheets, and exercises for students, real life examples on copyright cases and so on." No doubt we'll see how many European governments are willing to salute in September. The arrival of such schemes in Europe follows a laughable brainwashing attempt by the MPAA in the United States. This is covered entertainingly in Wired, and we particularly draw your attention to the reactions from the Yonkers school, whose students seem to nail it all beautifully. ® Related links: Music Manifesto home The Manifesto Software pirates cost $9.7bn in Europe - BSA Napster gags university over RIAA's student tax
John Lettice, 05 Aug 2004

Oracle 'sitting on security fixes'

Database giant Oracle has been censured by a leading security expert for sitting on fixes to defend against a wide variety of security vulnerabilities affecting its database software. UK-based Next Generation Security Software (NGS Software) has identified 34 security vulnerabilities affecting various versions of Oracle's database software. Around half these flaws affect the latest version of Oracle's database software, 10g. At least one of these bugs could be exploited to give attackers remote access to corporate database servers without a user ID or password. NGS Software told Oracle about the vulnerabilities in January and early February. Oracle is holding up the release of fixes - developed two months ago, according to NGS Software - until its new patch distribution system is ready to go live. David Litchfield, managing director of NGS Software, is critical of the delay which he argues could have been prevented if Oracle had kept the old version of its patch delivery platform in commission. Oracle's tardiness has prevented NGS Software from discussing its findings with other security experts at last week's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. Litchfield told The Register: "I'm all for vendors having as much time as needed when it's clear they're working on a problem. It's important that a supplier produces robust patches that don't break customer applications. But for Oracle to have written patches, tested them until they're blue in the face and then sit on them is something else. I don't know why it didn't keep its old patch distribution platform in place until the new platform was up and running, perhaps running the two in parallel." It's not the first time Litchfield has had cause to criticise Oracle's handling of IT security issues. Back in 2002 it was NGS Software that first debunked Oracle's claim that its Oracle9i database software was "unbreakable" by unearthing 24 security vulnerabilities with the software. Oracle has reportedly said patches for the latest vulnerabilities identified by NGS Software will be available shortly. What the heck is going on? We don’t know because the company is yet to respond to our request for comment on this story. ® Related stories Oracle e-biz suite needs patching Oracle 9i Database, Ap Server bust six ways to Sunday How to hack unbreakable Oracle servers Exploit Code on Trial Slammer: Why security benefits from proof of concept code
John Leyden, 05 Aug 2004

IBM sweetens G5 Linux deals

While IBM is offering new incentives for its sales force to sell Linux on its POWER processors, Apple partner Yellow Dog has updated the Linux distribution that runs on G5-based Macs. Big Blue makes the processor that powers its own AIX and OS/400 systems, as well the 970 POWER variant that Apple brands the G5. Amongst the gwana gwana aimed at the channel, IBM has doubled the discount that Value Advantage Plus resellers can qualify for. They can now receive up to $600 for every $1000 of IBM software for Linux they sell. IBM has made DB2, Informix, Websphere and the Rational tools available on the POWER versions of Linux. Meanwhile veteran Yellow Dog is offering a dual-processor Apple Power Mac G5, preloaded with the super computing version of its eponymous distribution Y-HPC, for under $2500. Yellow Dog announced that it had ported a prelimary version of Linux to the Xserve G5 back in May. Although you can't buy Y-HPC as a standalone product, Yellow Dog has tweaked the general purpose distro to 4.01, making a release candidate available for download, with revamped installer and desktops based on Gnome 2.6 and KDE 3.2.2. Apple has promised full 64bit support for the G5 in the next version of Mac OS X Tiger, due by mid-2005.® Related stories IBM 'readying dual-core G5' US Navy buys Linux on Apple kit A fresher Linux for Macs An iMac supercomputer cluster you can carry home History repeated as Apple slams CPU supplier IBM gives Unix servers a Power5 injection
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Aug 2004
server room

Sun forgets about Novell, remembers products

LinuxWorldLinuxWorld After stealing the spotlight on day one of LinuxWorld, Sun Microsystems settled down and managed to make some actual product announcements at the show. Heading up Sun's Linux push was a preview of the Sun Ray Server Software Version 3.0. This thin client software, due out by year's end, has traditionally run only on Sun's Solaris servers with UltraSPARC processors. Now that Sun has a new line of Opteron-based systems, it will take the Sun Ray code and make it available for Linux as well. Due to the power of AMD's Opteron chip, customers can expect to see significant cost reductions should they go the thin client route. Sun is estimating that well over 20 Sun Ray users can be supported on a two-processor Opteron server. While a Sun Ray thin client costs about the same as a basic PC, Sun maintains that customers will save money over time by moving to a centralized client management model. One administrator can, in theory, administer myriad thin clients from a single console. In addition, Sun's thin clients are stateless devices with few moving parts, meaning they don't have to be upgraded every couple of years, and they don't drown offices with sounds of busy fans. When the 3.0 Version of the Sun Ray software arrives, Sun will also deliver its long-awaited Wan Ray technology. The Sun boffins have managed to make thin client computing effective for users with 300Kbps connections and above. This means employees can now simply carry their Java card back and forth between home and work have basically the same PC at their disposal. You can imagine service providers piggy-backing on this idea and delivering cheap thin clients to business customers or consumers. AOL could, for example, take its $300 PC deal to the next level by shipping an even cheaper thin-client to homes. It could manage the systems for users and promote the product almost as a web surfing, e-mail appliance for those interested not in frills but low bills. This thin client fantasy, however, has been going on for some time now. While Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy might like to reminisce about the good old days by sending e-mail with their tiny machines, most users still seem more comfortable with fat clients humming away under their desks. One day though . . . one day. Elsewhere in the Sun kingdom, the company touted a not so secret effort called Project Janus. For years, Sun has been looking to make Linux applications run well on Solaris, and in Solaris 10, the company is certain it's "mission accomplished." Linux applications can now run unchanged on Solaris. This means, "there is no longer a reason to make sacrifices when choosing between Linux and Solaris," according to Sun software chief John "Kicking Windows one day at a Time" Loiacono. With Solaris 10, customers will be able to run Linux applications and still use some of the OS's newest features, including DTrace and the ZFS file system. Project Janus arrives with Solaris 10 near the end of this year. Sun also used LinuxWorld to plug its "disruptive" eBay hardware auctions. Sun has been offering up its entire Opteron-based fleet from the four-way V40z down to its workstations on the auction site. The average selling price of the four-processor box has been $5,500. Sun is hoping to push the price of these boxes higher by using CEO Scott McNealy's signature. As we understand it, HP plans to counter this offer with Carly Fiorina leaving lipstick marks on ProLiant systems. ® Related stories Novell takes SuSE Enterprise Linux to the next kernel Veritas makes Linux as strong as Solaris Sun turns WSJ into Novell buy spin machine Sun targets HP-UX and Windows with software subs Sun's Opteron fleet finally goes on sale World's best-dressed Linux backer leaves Sun Sun staff give birth to 64-bit Solaris on Opteron
Ashlee Vance, 05 Aug 2004