24th > August > 2004 Archive

Broken CD with wrench

Investors back PolyServe's Linux cluster hopes with $20m

File system start-up PolyServe has secured another $20m in funding that should keep it going after the Linux and Windows cluster markets for some time to come. The latest cash infusion was led by Fidelity Ventures, but contributions were also made by past investors, including Greylock and New Enterprise Associates. The extra cash comes as PolyServe tries to carve out a place for itself in what has moved from a niche to a highly competitive market for powerful file systems. Companies such as Veritas, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Oracle and Red Hat are all attempting to show customers that databases and other pricey business software products can run safely and cheaply on clusters of commodity servers. "We'll use this latest funding to aggressively accelerate our sales efforts, fully capitalizing on our unique position in the marketplace and leveraging our customer and technical proof points," said Mike Stankey, CEO at PolyServe. "With this investment, we have built a significant operating cushion that will sustain us well beyond profitability and allow us to fully fund strategic initiatives that we could not otherwise pursue." A couple of years back, PolyServe and Sistina looked set to capitalize on the growing interest around using Linux clusters to run business software. Numerous vendors suggested that Linux clusters would make a quick move out of the scientific realm and into corporate data centers. This transition, however, has taken much longer than the vendors first predicted - big surprise - giving established players time to catch up with start-ups. Sistina, for example, gave up on its go-it-alone approach and was acquired earlier this year by Red Hat for $30m. Veritas also recently souped up its line of file system and volume manager products for Linux, putting them on par with its own Unix code. Add Oracle, IBM and Sun into the mix on varying levels, and PolyServe faces the stiffest of competition. With all the software acquisitions that have been made by IBM, HP, Sun and EMC over the past two years, you have to wonder how PolyServe has avoided being bought - that is unless interest in its products has passed. The company does boast a list of over 300 customers, including Wells Fargo, SBC, the US Department of Defense and Nike. Dell is also rumored to use PolyServe's software. Earlier this year, PolyServe brought its Matrix Server product over to Windows, giving it access to a small but likely growing Microsoft clustering market. Its products are generally used to help administrators spread a database over numerous servers. The PolyServe software makes sure this cluster can handle failures, keep performance high and expand as needed to keep the database running without flaws. In general, the company pitches this is a low-cost alternative to large Unix servers that run databases inside a single box. ® Related stories Veritas makes Linux as strong as Solaris Red Hat sweetens Q3 with Sistina buy GFS and open source clustering
Ashlee Vance, 24 Aug 2004

DTI urges small.biz to embrace digital

A recent DTI report has identified huge commercial opportunities for UK businesses that use a combination of digital media and a greater focus on customer needs. Digital channels, broadband, interactive television and mobile phones are changing the way customers buy products and services, and such is the sales potential of digital channels that revenue is estimated to reach £110.5bn by 2006, rising to £146.5bn by 2008. With over 50 per cent of homes now subscribing to digital TV services, the potential for publicity and new customers is there for those willing to venture into the world of digital communication. A spokesperson for the DTI said: “The development of innovative ideas, processes and technologies will continue to drive market development, growth and ultimately value to the customer. Looking at how a service is currently being delivered and considering how it could be better delivered to add value, is key to improving customer satisfaction and the company’s bottom line.” The financial sector in particular have capitalised on digital services with many run entirely online. With this in mind, the DTI is advising all business sectors, including small businesses, to adopt on-line strategies in order to access untapped revenue. To help business get to grips with the complexities of the digital medium the DTI has produced the Capitalising on Convergence Workbook (PDF). The guide contains 28 case studies of firms finding success through digital resources and practical tips on how to best harness digital technology in your business. Copyright © 2004, Related stories European sofas brace for HDTV US and Europe embrace the digital home Digital home group touts convergence spec
Startups.co.uk, 24 Aug 2004

Tiscali Norway flogged

Tiscali has flogged its Norwegian ISP, Tiscali AS, to Telenor Telecom Solutions AS, for €6m (£4m) as part of its onging plan to concentrate on its core European businesses. As of the end of July, Tiscali Norway had around 18,000 ADSL punters and 27,000 active dial-up users. It's been a busy couple of days for the European ISP. In the last week Tiscali has agreed to flog its South African ISP for €40m (£27m) and also disposed its Austrian ISP business for €12m (£8m). In May, the ISP confirmed plans to sell off four of its country operations - Switzerland, South Africa, Norway and Sweden - in a bid to concentrate on its core businesses. Two weeks ago, Tiscali's board of directors gave the green light for the disposal of these "non-core assets" for a total value of around €250m (£169m). The ISP reckons this will help reduce operating costs by 15 per cent over the next year. ® Related stories Tiscali flogs South African ISP Tiscali to squeeze overheads as losses swell Tiscali to flog four country ops Tiscali mulls sale of some country ops
Tim Richardson, 24 Aug 2004

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Team Register, 24 Aug 2004

DQ prices up, service down

A year after the UK's directory enquiries (DQ) sector was deregulated critics claim that punters are worse off because they're paying more for an inferior service. DQ outfit 192.com claims punters are being forced to cough up £64m more today for obtaining phone numbers than they did under the old 192 service supplied by BT. A year to the day since the DQ sector was opened up to more than 100 operators, punters are paying 37 per cent more for their number enquiries and often getting a second-rate service. What's more, it's also estimated that of the 2,500 extra call centre staff taken on last year to cope with the expected demand post de-regulation, the majority are no longer employed due to the drop in call volumes. Analysis by 192.com - which offers free DQ services at its website - reveals that the number of calls made to DQ operators has fallen by 40 per cent on the year and that one in ten people have stopped using the service completely. Part of that slide has been blamed on the increased cost of the services and confusion among users about what services are on offer. Alastair Crawford, CEO at 192.com, believes that the dereguation of the DQ sector - one of the last major initiatives of former telecoms regulator Oftel, before it was replaced by Ofcom - has failed to live up to the hype and expectation. And he believes that obtaining numbers should be free, especially since it is the telcos who benefit from people making the calls. Said Mr Crawford: "Being charged for DQ is like going into a restaurant and being charged to see the menu." BT has also acknowledged that the change to 118 XXX services has not been without problems. Said Paul Elliott, chief executive of BT Directories: "Oftel's withdrawal of 192 was extremely unpopular with customers. The restrictions on how we communicated the change to 192 callers led to confusion and we saw a huge drop in call volumes." However, he reckons things have picked up since then and that BT is now the leading DQ provider in the UK. Earlier this year the National Audit Office (NAO) launched an investigation into just how effective the liberalisation of the UK's DQ sector has been for consumers. The study is looking at how well Oftel managed the switch-over and whether the expected benefits for punters - better, cheaper and more accurate services - have been realised. The NAO is expected to publish its report later this year. ® Related stories The Number & BT in DQ supremacy spat BT in 118 500 price hike Thus pulls out of 118 to protect reputation 118 services not up to scratch Oftel Which? slams 118 services Directory enquiries calls in free fall post 118 BT 192 switch-off not cheaper for punters Confusion reigns ahead of 192 switch-off
Tim Richardson, 24 Aug 2004

BOFH: How do you deal with authority?

Episode 27Episode 27 BOFH 2004 The problem with being an authority for something is there's always a bit of testosterone involved when someone wants to show you who's really boss. How do you handle the transition of power into another hands? Take this little test to find out... 1. The boss is concerned about the amount of network traffic you consume and asks you to come and explain it. You'd take with you: A. Traffic logs showing it was mostly Windows security updates B. Falsified traffic logs showing it was mostly... C. Your union representative D. An axe, a large roll of carpet, and a large quantity of polythene, a bag of lime... 2. The finance user group wants you to explain the poor performance of their fileshare at their weekly meeting. Your first response is: A. What finance user group? B. What weekly meeting? C. What performance problems? D. >clickety< what fileshare? 3. The company auditor is concerned about anomalies in the asset register. You would assuage his fears with: A. Comprehensive asset tracking information B. Falsified tracking information C. A large cash payment D. An axe, a large roll of carpet... 4. The police are called in because of the disappearance of some senior members of staff. In helping them with their enquiries, you might need access to: A. Security camera footage. B. Swipe card access records C. A bank vault D. A hardware shop and a carpet factory... 5. A staff member complains about his files disappearing from the fileshare and the poor quality of the recovery mechanism. You would: A. Check records for evidence of the files existance B. Check backup logs for evidence of their removal C. Cast your mind back to your recent needs for space to store music D. Clean out his desktop machine as well - as a warning to others 6. The helpdesk would like a definitive answer on the time to resolve a user's problem. You would approximate the time by: A. Past experience B. Passing the case onto an assistant C. Picking a number out of the air D. (C) and reporting it in weeks. 7. Security want you to account for your movements the night you were working overtime and the boardroom plasma screen disappeared. You would: A. Produce swipe card logs for the period B. Produce login information and records C. Produce your online gaming stats for the time D. Produce a cattleprod and ask them to repeat the question... 8. With the turnover of managers, one thing that concerns you is: A. The loss of institutional knowledge about why you do things the way you do B. The need for some managers to assert their authority over you C. Their bitchiness when you convince them otherwise D. The high price of carpet and lime when they can't come to terms with (C) 9. The buildings maintenance people have identified that the computer room is only half utilised and wish to recover some space to create a new office, citing the opinion that the building is theirs to allocate as required. You would: A. Argue that the growth of computing will more than account for your ongoing needs for office real estate B. (A), then take them on a field trip to a similar organisation C. (A), then take them on a field trip to a group of similar organisations D. (A), then take them on a field trip to an end-of-run carpet warehouse... 10. You've got a floor tile up moving some cabling inside Mission Control when the Health and Safety person informs you that you haven't put high visibilty warning signs outside the office, filed a work plan with the Buildings Maintenance people, roped off the open area... You: A. Thank them for their input and suspend your activities B. Say you did, but Security's dog ate all your documentation C. Say you did all the paperwork and left it beside the pump action shotgun in the computer rooom, and hopefully you'll remember which one you're supposed to bring back - if you have to go and get it D. Remember to tell everyone that you saw a rat's nest under the floor - to explain the smell in a couple of weeks...  
Simon Travaglia, 24 Aug 2004

US throws $1bn at unmanned attack aircraft

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Northrop Grumman a healthy $1.03bn to develop its X-47B unmanned combat aircraft. The project forms part of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) demonstration program - in which Boeing is also strutting its stuff with the X-45C. J-UCAS is a "joint DARPA/Air Force/Navy effort to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value for a networked system of high performance, weaponized unmanned air vehicles to effectively and affordably prosecute 21st century combat missions, including Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), surveillance, and precision strike within the emerging global command and control architecture". The X-47B is further evidence of the US military's current enthusiasm for unmanned aircraft, and the DARPA blurb outlines the philosophy behind the concept: The J-UCAS vision is to develop a weapon system that expands tactical mission options and provides revolutionary new air power and penetrating surveillance capability. The J-UCAS weapon system will exploit the design and operational flexibility of an uninhabited vehicle to enable a new paradigm in warfighting while maintaining the judgment and moral imperative of the human operator. The J-UCAS is designed for minimal maintenance to reduce cost. It will be capable of dynamic mission replanning with varying levels of autonomy. The J-UCAS has the potential to fully exploit the emerging information revolution and provide advanced airpower with increased tactical deterrence at a fraction of the total life cycle costs of current manned systems. The J-UCAS weapon system will enable a new affordability paradigm by reducing both acquisition, and operation and support (O&S) costs. Removing the pilot from the vehicle eliminates man-rating requirements, pilot systems, and interfaces. New design philosophies can be used to optimize the design for aerodynamics, signature, reduced maintenance and low cost manufacturing processes. Advances in small smart munitions will allow these smaller vehicles to attack multiple targets during a single mission and reduce the cost per target killed, while minimizing the prospects for geolocation errors and fratricide. Improvements in sensor technologies also allow significant advances in surveillance and reconnaissance over high threat areas. The J-UCAS will be highly effective with a significant reduction in life cycle costs over current systems. While it looks like the Strategy Boutiques have been having a field day over there at the DARPA press release department, the idea is pretty simple: unmanned kit costs less, is expendible and you don't have to explain later to some sky jockey's relatives how his F-18 came to be downed by a Patriot battery. Or that's the idea. In reality - and although it looks on paper as if all of the technology to allow the J-UCAS "vision" to "enable a new affordability paradigm" by reducing the "cost per target killed" is available off-the-shelf - US unmanned aircraft projects have to date proved expensive and troublesome. Northrop Grumman is also behind the hi-tech Global Hawk "high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system". Of seven prototypes, four had crashed by early 2003, although in every case this was attributed to operator error or inadequate maintenence - proof that taking the pilot out of the loop doesn't prevent cock-ups when the "judgment... of the human operator" is found wanting. And the J-UCAS program is a big step forward from the Global Hawk in terms of operational ambitions, as DARPA notes: "The system’s objectives include an air vehicle combat radius of 1,500 nautical miles with a weapons payload of 4,500 pounds, electronic warning system and an integrated synthetic aperture radar. The vehicles are designed to survive in a high threat environment and feature beyond-line-of-sight network connectivity for global operations." While the Global Hawk boasts an operation range of 13,500 nautical mile range and 36-hour endurance during which it can comfortably "conduct surveillance over an area the size of Illinois" controlled either by line-of-site or satellite-connected operators, it is not expected to deliver 4,500 pounds of ordnance down Osama bin Laden's chimney without hitting the orphanage next door while controlled by a very human operator in an air-conditioned trailer thousands of miles away. It remains to be seen whether DARPA's substantial investment in the X-47B really does provide "revolutionary new air power" or an expensive flying turkey. ® Related links Northrop Grumman X-47B press release (PDF) DARPA X-47B press release (PDF) Global Hawk Boeing X-45 Related stories Eurofighter at risk of 'catastrophic failure' Patriot missile: friend or foe? UK scientists seek silent aircraft
Lester Haines, 24 Aug 2004

Games outfit catches rebranding cold

LogoWatchLogoWatch It's been a while since we've reported on an outbreak of rebranding madness, and mercifully the following delve into the twilight world of the Strategy Boutiques constitutes a mere attack of the sniffles compared to the full-blown, whalesong-driven insanity. Step forward games outfit NCsoft, (motto: Imagine the Next Life. Build the Next Game. Create the Next Culture) which has not actually knocked up a new logo, but rather chosen to celebrate its old corporate brand frontage on a revamped, go-ahead website. As is the local custom, you can't just stick up the logo and be done with it. No, there has to be at least a whiff of joss-sticks about the whole exercise. NCsoft, come on down: The Corporate Image of NCsoft is its dynamic role as a Global Online Game Publisher. The symbol configures the Roman alphabet 'N' and 'C', so that the company name would be easy to read and remember. Yes, easy to remember, with you so far: Color NC orange symbolizes the exciting experience that the games provide, and NC violet expresses the mysterious charms that the games possess. The harmony of these two colors symbolizes the relationship between the company and its customers. Violet and orange? Harmony? Did you run that one past your Feng Shui consultant? We think not: Definition The blocks that configure 'N' and 'C' symbolize the games that NCsoft develops and publishes. The geometric connection of the blocks symbolizes an endless enjoyment that our games provide and through that it shows its attachment with the customers. Also through the spaciousness created by the letters 'N' and 'C' it shows the broad virtual world. Enough. What a load of old cobblers. And if the virtual world is broad, it obviously isn't broad enough to enable one to escape from this kind of corporate hocus-pocus. Taxi! ® Related stories Strategy Boutiques invade Japan Capgemini succumbs to rebranding madness Taiwan hit by sudden outbreak of rebranding madness
Lester Haines, 24 Aug 2004
Cat 5 cable

Intel pledges to bring Itanic down to Xeon price-point

By 2007, Intel's Itanic processors will not only deliver a 50-100 per cent performance advantage over the chipmaker's Xeon line, but both server chip families will cost the same. So said the chip giant's EMEA strategic marketing manager, Alan Priestley, today. Essentially, the move signals not so much the demise of Itanic at the hands of the now 64-bit enabled Xeon, but a move to push OEMs in the over direction. According to Priestley, while Itanium today costs 30-40 per cent more than Xeon, for which buyers get around 30-50 per cent more performance. End users will clearly pay a lot more for a given Itanium system than a Xeon one, but that's roughly the difference for the basic hardware, when processor numbers are matched, he said. Complete Itanium systems typically costs significantly more that Xeon rigs - by a factor of more than ten, according to market watcher Gartner's numbers - and given the roles the two processor families are typically being put, that's unlikely to change significantly over time. So Intel is essentially planning to subsidise Itanium-supporting server OEMs' margins. They'll be able to continue charging through the nose for Itanium-based hardware, but the chips and chipsets themselves won't cost them any more than their commodity Xeon products do. The upshot for Intel: Xeon largely becomes the choice of customers who need to support legacy 32-bit apps and possibly non-mission critical 64-bit code, while Itanium is the standard platform for all new 64-bit roll-outs, from the low end to the high. Such an outcome is predicated on Itanium spreading downmarket rather than Xeon expanding the other way. That's certainly the approach that AMD is taking, and it says something of the threat Intel perceives its arch-rival presents here that it needs to bring Itanium's heavy artillery to bear on the x86 market. Priestley played down EM64T, Intel's recently released AMD64-like 64-bit extensions for x86. To him, the technology is no more revolutionary than the addition of SSE 3 or a faster frontside bus. He also claimed that 64-bit x86 apps won't really be ready until mid-2005. Intel expects to have its entire Xeon line supporting EM64T by that date, but if it'll take that long to clean up 32-bit code for 64-bit compilation then to get it revalidated, why ship 64-bit Xeons now? Because AMD is a threat - customers may not yet be adopting Opteron wholesale, but if they use it to evaluate and develop 64-bit code, it makes it more likely they will subsequently use Opteron to run the finished stack. In short, EM64T is more about providing a reason not to buy AMD than a reason to buy Intel. Long-term, that's not an durable strategy, so the better to draw a distinction between Intel server processors and their AMD alternatives, Intel will use Itanium rather than Xeon, with its 'better performance, same price' scheme. Hence this week's price cuts and the prospect of deeper ones as Itanium goes to 90nm and, later, 65nm. Intel's strategy is also a tacit acceptance that Itanium has failed to hammer high-end Risc. Priestly cited Gartner numbers that suggest Itanium has a 3-5 per cent share of the high-end iron market. While he claimed Intel's forecasts anticipate "significant inroads" into the Risc market, he didn't offer up a timescale. Certainly, Itanium has won the support of the big system sellers, with the exception of Sun, but none has yet switched exclusively to the Intel processor. And those who have said they intend to do just that appear to be taking rather longer to do so than they once forecast. Intel has already expressed its intention to develop a common chipset platform for Itanium and Xeon, and that's really the first step toward price parity. ® Related stories Intel Itanic prices chopped Intel: common Xeon, Itanic chipset by 2007 Motorola plumps for HP Linux-on-Itanium boxes HP unveils Unix roadmaps Intel gets quiet about the competition NASA splashes out on shiny supercomputer Intel's CEO gets blunt about poor execution Sun's Solaris shines on Itanium
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Nvidia 'nForce 4' details leak

Nvidia will next month announce not one but four versions of its upcoming CK8-04 chipset, according to an anonymous Russian source cited by a French web site. The site, x86 Secret, claims the next-generation AMD64-oriented chipset line will ship in both standard and Ultra versions, the latter providing Serial ATA II support. A Pro version will be pitched specifically at servers. All three chipsets will offer PCI Express support. So too will the so-called SLI release, which presumably provides either two PCI Express x16 buses for two SLI-enabled graphics cards, or allows the integrated graphics engine to co-operate with an external card, again utilising Nvidia's SLI technology. A piece over at AnandTech appears to confirm the regular, Ultra and SLI versions of the chipset, which may or may not be called nForce 4. It claims the vanilla version essentially adds PCI Express and 7.1 high-definition audio to the nForce 3 250Gb. Expect Gigabit Ethernet and a hardware firewall too. In addition to SATA II, the Ultra version offers broader network processing features, along with the firewall - presumably the same kind of functionality already offered by the nForce 2 Ultra 400Gb. Nvidia has already admitted that "next-generation nForce MCPs" will not only support Socket 939 Athlon 64s, but provide PCI Express support too. ® Related stories Nvidia confirms Socket 939 Semprons on way Nvidia roadmap said to tout AGP at high-end well into 2005 Nvidia migrates Quadro line to PCI Express Nvidia touts media access tool for 'living room' notebooks Nvidia rejigs nForce 3 for AMD's Socket 939 Nvidia brings hardware firewall to Athlon XP rigs
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Beagle 2 team none the wiser on failure

Beagle 2's operation team has published the findings of its investigation into the fate of the European Mars lander, broadly supporting the theory that the craft got into trouble in the Martian atmosphere. However, the inquiry found that the technology largely worked as planned, and was unable to identify a single obvious point of failure. The investigation then focused on the elements of the mission that could have contributed to the craft's failure to make contact, and highlights a number of places where things might have gone wrong. Mission manager Dr Mark Sims of the University of Leicester said that the most likely scenario was some kind of failure during entry descent and landing. He reiterated the European Space Agency's suggestion that a thinner than expected Martian atmosphere caused the lander's parachutes to deploy either too early, or too late. Professor Pillinger, also at the press conference, said that the mission "could have worked and should have worked, but it didn't, and we don't know why. All the failure modes we've identified are low likelihood, but something killed it". The trigger for Beagle 2's parachutes was based on data input from an accelerometer. When the lander had decelerated by the appropriate amount, the chutes would be deployed. If models of the Martian atmosphere were incorrect, then the chutes would deploy at the wrong time, resulting in a crash landing for Beagle 2. Scientists have scanned the surface of the planet for the crater than this would have caused, but have found no conclusive evidence. Both NASA's Mars rovers came into their landings faster than expected, Sims added, only just decelerating in time even with the benefit of braking thrusters. Pillinger said that although this evidence supported the theory of a too thin atmosphere, it was by no means the certain fate of Beagle 2. Dr. Sims said that it was entirely possible that the craft made it safely to the surface and was just unable to broadcast a signal. "My nightmare scenario is that the antenna is damaged, and the craft is on the surface trying to talk to us," he told reporters. "It would be soul destroying if that is the case." Beagle 2 had a "pocket watch" structure: that is, it had to unfold on landing for all the instruments to access the Martian surface. The designers also put the antenna on the inside of the casing, a move which was designed to protect it, but which in retrospect, both Professor Colin Pillinger and Sims suggest was a mistake. Pillinger added that he would defend the management of the project to his dying breath, countering ESA criticisms by saying that Sims was the one of the most thorough men in the space business. The charismatic scientist also refused to blame a lack of funding for the loss of the lander, but did acknowledge that having the money earlier in the process would have been helpful. "Obviously more money means you can do more testing, but testing isn't everything, it still has to work on the day." Both Sims and Pillinger remain convinced that another European mission to Mars is a possibility, saying that it is more important to look to the future than to continue the dissection of the Beagle 2 mission. Pillinger says that the science Beagle 2 was designed to do is still ahead of anything planned by NASA in the next three years. He called on everyone involved in the European space effort to make a decision soon about a return to the Red Planet. "I've written to NASA suggesting that the Beagle 2 science package should be considered as a standalone instrument package on the planned 2009 mission to Mars," said Pillinger. "I haven't had an answer yet, but if I don't hear from them soon, I'll ring them up and ask if they are taking me seriously." ® Related stories Aurora rattles tin for space exploration Final report on Beagle 2 Beagle 2 was 'poorly managed'
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Aug 2004

Wanadoo UK punts 1Mb ADSL for £18

Wanadoo UK is doubling the speed of its broadband service offering punters the chance to hook-up to 1 Megabit (Mb) ADSL for £17.99 a month. From tomorrow, new punters signing up to Wanadoo's broadband service will be able to get 1Mb ADSL broadband for £17.99 a month. Although the service has a 2GB monthly usage allowance, the ISP (formerly Freeserve) reckons this is more than sufficient for nine out of ten of its punters. Wanadoo also said it would not enforce the cap limits until early next year. Even so, anyone busting the cap will be able to upgrade to its "Broadband for Above Average Usage" service, which provides a 6GB cap for £22.99 a month, or the "Heavy-usage Broadband" package with a 30GB cap at £27.99 a month. Punters whose phone line can't support a 1Mb service will be offered 512k instead. While the offer might seem attractive for punters, it does mean that Wanadoo UK will "take a hit" on each connection and lose money. However, it reckons it's worth it to attract more broadband users. At the moment the ISP has around 375,000 broadband users and Wanadoo is prepared to carry a loss while it grows its customer base in the UK. Looking ahead, it hopes that lower network costs will help it turn a profit. The company has made no secret that it is looking at its network options on both Datastream and local loop unbundling (LLU), which could help reduce costs in the future. Coupled with the fact that Wanadoo's mass market appeal is attracting a greater number of "light users", the ISP is confident that its cost base will fall over time making the numbers tally. Said Wanadoo chief exec, Eric Abensur: "We are bringing 1Mb to everybody who is able to receive it at an affordable price. We believe 1Mb is a basic right for all Internet users, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of faster browsing and downloading, higher quality sound and video, and the enhanced online experience that 1Mb Broadband provides. "We always said we wanted to open up the UK Internet market. This offer shows how much we really mean business, and we look forward to making more exciting Broadband announcements [including Voice over IP (VoIP) Internet telephony service and Video on Demand] over the coming months." ® Related stories Wanadoo comes a cropper for 'full speed' broadband ad Wanadoo unveils wireless broadband gizmo BT's DSL market share carries on falling AOL UK to offer cut-price broadband Wanadoo UK racks up 192k broadband punters Freeserve morphs into Wanadoo
Tim Richardson, 24 Aug 2004

Intel readies Centrino Wi-Fi update

Intel is set to launch its anticipated tri-mode Wi-Fi adaptor this week at an announcement the chip giant says will "introduce its latest wireless technology for Intel Centrino notebooks". With 802.11b and 802.11b/g ProWireless cards already on offer for Centrino systems, adding support for the enterprise-friendly 802.11a flavour of Wi-Fi is the obvious next move for Intel. Intel is also known to be working on an add-in that combines Wi-Fi and 3G mobile phone network connectivity, but it is not expected to unveil this product until later this Autumn. If Intel does announce an 802.11a part on Thursday, the day of the announcement, it will almost certainly pitch the part at corporates, who have been the only significant supporters of the technology. 801.11a offers 802.11g-level data throughput - up to 54Mbps - but operates in the 5GHz band, a less noisy segment of the spectrum than 802.11b and 802.11g's 2.4GHz band. As such, a is inherently incompatible with b and g, which has hindered its uptake. Intel is also expected to begin shipping Wi-Fi adaptors for its i915 'Grantsdale' series of chipsets later this year, after failing to ship the part when the chipsets themselves were made available in June this year. ® Related stories Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks Intel backs in-flight Wi-Fi initiative Intel 'delays' Centrino 2 chipset to Q1 2005 Intel preps autumn Pentium M price cuts Intel Wi-Fi module trims Centrino prices Intel: WiMAX in notebooks by 2006 Wi-Fi to come late to Grantsdale party Japan ponders Wi-Fi tax
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Police cuff 'international computer piracy gang'

Police forces from five countries have jointly smashed an online piracy ring with the arrest of more than 100 people yesterday. Law enforcement agencies in the UK, US, Australia, Poland and Slovakia targeted individuals believed to have been involved in selling unauthorised copies of software, games, music and movies online. According to an Agence France Presse report, police claimed the gang was comprised of hackers who broke into university and college computer systems in a number of countries and used these resources to serve and sell the pirated content. In Poland, five programmers, believed to be the ring's leaders, were arrested. They face up to eight years in prison, if convicted. Earlier this month, British police and anti-fraud investigators swooped on 57 people in a bid to tackle sellers of pirate DVDs. ® Related stories UK music downloads up 200% since 1 June Record biz hammers 'ostrich' downloaders Vote now to name BSA's antipiracy weasel Cut-down Windows will boost piracy - Gartner UK's youth boards pirate ship to bootleg island UK gov moves to bust bootleggers 57 cuffed in UK anti-piracy crackdown Cottage shop games pirate, spammer and pornographer jailed
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Fujitsu preps 'early 2005' single-chip WiMAX part

Fujitsu's US chip division, Fujitsu Microelectronics America (FMA), will roll out a single-chip WiMAX product early next year, the company said today. The chip, which incorporates both the 2-11GHz radio interface (PHY) and the data controller (MAC) onto a single piece of silicon, is set to appear at the "beginning of 2005", FMA said, with adoption set to "accelerate" through the "second half of 2005 and throughout 2006". That broadly matches Intel's timetable for WiMAX adoption. FMA's announcement puts it head to head with the chip giant to offer the chips that will power both service providers' base-stations and the transceivers on end users' premises walls - and eventually within mobile devices like notebooks. Intel has already signed up Proxim and Alcatel to develop WiMAX base-station and CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) kit. ® Related stories Intel: WiMAX in notebooks by 2006 Intel readies Centrino Wi-Fi update Intel restrains Radio Free vision Second consortium unveils 'broadband Wi-Fi' proposal Firms tout 'universal' tech for 802.11n Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash Proxim, Intel to develop WiMax reference kit Intel invests in smart antennae to drive Wi-Fi, WiMAX Nokia to rejoin WiMAX Forum Nokia quits WiMAX Forum Wireline operators flock to WiMAX Navini comes in from the cold
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Reg readers name BSA antipiracy weasel

Poll resultPoll result Well, the votes have been counted in our poll to name the BSA's anti-piracy weasel - or rather its fluffy ferret mascot designed to warn children of the perils of IP violation. Over 8,000 of you put mouse to button, and the percentage of votes cast for each of the ten options was: Warez the Weasel - 27 FUD the Ferret - 20 Fluffy, eighth minion of the Weaselarchy - 8 Baron von Robber Rodent - 8 Evil Knweasel - 8 Bill - 8 Quisling - 7 Neferretous - 6 Popgoes (the weasel) - 6 The Mad Mustelid - 2 So there you have it. We hereby declare that said creature will henceforth be known as "Warez the Weasel™" The BSA has been informed of our beloved readers' decision and a hefty invoice for the first ten years' exclusive use is in the post. Failure to forward payment by return will, naturally, result in immediate litigation. We thank all those who took the time to participate in the democratic process for the greater good of decent, law-abiding Americans. ® Related stories Name that antipiracy weasel, BSA asks kids 'Stealing songs is wrong' lessons head for UK schools College kids are thieves, thieves, thieves
Team Register, 24 Aug 2004

US tops junk mail Dirty Dozen - again

The US is still the biggest single source of spam emails, according to figures released today. Anti-Virus firm, Sophos, said that almost 43 per cent of unsolicited mail sent in the last month originated in the United States. This puts the US well clear of other high volume spamming nations. In second place, South Korea accounts for around 15.5 per cent of spam. The UK makes it into the top ten, accounting for 1.15 per cent of spam mail. Best performing in spam-busting was Canada, which managed to reduce its spam output from 6.8 per cent of the global total six months ago to 2.9 per cent today. South Korea, meanwhile, has taken up the slack and tripled its contribution since February's figures were released. The Dirty Dozen United States 42.53 per cent South Korea 15.42 per cent China (& Hong Kong) 11.62 per cent Brazil 6.17 per cent Canada 2.91 per cent Japan 2.87 per cent Germany 1.28 per cent France 1.24 per cent Spain 1.16 per cent United Kingdom 1.15 per cent Mexico 0.98 per cent Taiwan 0.91 per cent Others 11.76 per cent Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said that the figure demonstrated very clearly that legislation has failed to curb the anti-social behaviour of bulk emailers, although he says such legislation must be part of any attempt to tackle the problem. Some cases have been brought under the CAN Spam Act: In March, Microsoft, Earthlink, AOL and Yahoo all filed lawsuits against alleged spammers. But since only governments and ISPs can use the law, its scope is limited. "Ultimately the only way that spam will stop being sent is if it's no longer profitable for the spammers to send it," Cluley told The Register. Which means someone out there must be buying this stuff. The message to these people, in a nutshell, is "Stop it!" Nearly half of all spam is sent out from so-called zombie computers, so the most effective thing anyone can do to tackle the problem is to make sure they aren't contributing to it. "Everyone needs to ensure they have protected their PCs with anti-virus and firewall software to ensure they aren't adding to the problem," Cluley says. ® Related stories Meet the Peeping Tom worm IBM dissects the DNA of spam ISPs gang up on spammer-run websites
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Aug 2004

MS to 'quietly launch' iTunes rival this week

Microsoft will this week release the next major version of its Windows Media system - incorporating its 'Janus' DRM technology - along with its much-anticipated online music store. So claims a report at SiliconValley.com, which reckons the new player looks not unlike Apple's iTunes. Napster, for one, is known to be preparing a Janus-based update to its service. Janus will allow subscription services to better support portable players, and is seen as a key factor in making the subscription model more attractive to consumers. Given the timing of Virgin Digital's expected US and UK launch, it's likely it too will be based on Janus. Virgin Digital is powered by digital music distributor MusicNet, which has just updated its web site, logo and such. Certainly, Rio's upcoming Carbon portable player is Janus-compatible, and it's expected to go on sale at the end of this month - circumstantial confirmation perhaps that Windows Media 10 is due to ship this week. Windows Media 10 was released as in beta form in June. ® Related stories Rio pitches Carbon player at iPod Mini Here's locking down you, kid - MS hawks vision of DRM future Macrovision: iPod support for lock-in CDs in Q4 Macrovision preps '99% effective' CD lock-in tech Real anti-Apple poll swamped by pro-Apple posters Virgin Radio touts Napster chart deal Virgin demands Apple license iTunes DRM Virgin Digital sets US, UK debut dates MusicNet to deliver music downloads to UK Virgin to open music download service
Tony Smith, 24 Aug 2004

Ship's anchor cuts cable to Sri Lanka

Internet and international telephone services have been disrupted in Sri Lanka after a ship's anchor is believed to have damaged an undersea cable connecting the island to the rest of the world. More than 800,000 Internet and phone users have had their services hit by the damage, according to Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), after the cable was damaged at the weekend. The telco is now suing the vessel, the Indian-registered State of Nagaland for $5m for damages. The ship is currently anchored outside Colombo Harbour. The incident happened at the weekend and repair work is not expected to be completed for a couple of days. Until then, Net users are suffering from an intermittent service. Lanka Business Online reports that the Colombo District Court has orderd the vessel to remain in port until the SLT's case is heard on 6 September. ® Related stories Glasgow vandals cut 5,000 phone lines Torpoint tames cruel sea in ADSL hook-up Aftershocks of undersea cable outage hit UK ISPs Shark blamed for China's Net problems
Tim Richardson, 24 Aug 2004

Shares fall on Arm takeover

British chip designer Arm is to buy Silicon Valley's Artisan Components in a deal worth over $900 million in a cash plus stock deal. Artisan licenses physical component designs to over 18 chip manufacturers, and to integrated circuit design teams at over two thousand companies. Arm argues that it will broaden its sales channel with the acquisition. Arm licenses a RISC chip core and instruction set widely, with growth in recent years being fuelled by mobile phones. Arm has made small acquisitions before - the most recent, of Belgian designer Adelante Technologies last year for its embedded signal processing - but never on a scale like this. Despite a cash pile topping $300 million, the City fretted that Arm is paying too much for its new partner. In the half year that ended in June, Arm Holdings earned £71.9 million, or $127.6 million. That's up fifty per cent from the same period last year, and with Arm being a design and licensing operation, it boasts gross margins of over 90 per cent. In the twelve months that ended in June, Artisan earned profits of $63 million of income of $82.9 million. Arm shares fell 18 per cent. The two companies hope to tie up the deal in the fourth quarter of the year. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Aug 2004

Luddite Reg readers want flat weather, please

LettersLetters Several of you were upset by the plans announced by Auntie Beeb to start using some new fangled technology to generate 3D weather forecasts in real time. What was wrong, you wondered, with those nice magnetic charts with stick on clouds and smiley sunshines? I can't be the only one thinking "noooooooooooooo!" The current BBC weather report graphics are just perfect, unlike the tacky nonsense on pretty much every other channel. It's like replacing the current tube map with a satellite image of London. Impressive, but useless. Nige Hi Lucy, Just thought you would like to know this technology was developed by a NZ company (I think it was the same dudes who wrote the America's Cup and WRC virtual spectator, not sure about that one tho...) and has been in use on TV3 news for about 6 months now. Looks good too, although a lot of people prefer the 2D weather as 3D can be rather confusing to watch. matt. Of course, others still were just interested in the kit. But we knew that: Reading the specs of their database "servers" for the BBC 3D Weather system... "ooh"ing and "aah"ing until i read the hdd sizes... 146GB each, that all? Surely they could afford something a bit meatier, like a few TBs, considering the size of mass internal storage these days you can get at high street stores... And since when do database servers have to render stuff? Wouldnt it be better to have a dedicated distribution of machines to do that... and a bunch of computers with their cpu time spent on storing stuff... sounds like a vague minded gaming guru wrote the article that was found on the BBC website... K i'll get me coat now... Ciao, James Yes. Ciao, James. It didn't take long for you lot to come up with alternative uses for new rules dreamed up by ISPs to try to crack down on spam in the UK. The newly approved code of practice gives ISPs belonging to LINX the mandate to shut down websites promoted through spam, even if junk mail messages are sent through a third-party or over a different network. What a fantastic way to shut down a website you have a downer on, why bother with the illegality of a DoS attack when all you have to do is "advertise" for them ;-) Ian While it is not a bad idea in theory to shut down websites advertised by spammers, I wonder if these do-gooders have considered that they're also introducing new DDOS opportunities. While you probably couldn't get a big company like--for instance--Microsoft shut down with these tactics, it has potential as a petty revenge tactic, especially since the lack of global support means it won't be too useful for legitimate spam protection. Ann So now the best way to keep UK web users from accessing my competitors' web sites is to engage in spam for their benefit. As far as I can tell, this sort of thing just does not work well. George I hope and trust that the LINX ISPs understand the term "joe job" - a mode of attack on innocent account holders and Web sites. George regarding the LINX war on spam. BRAVO! this is a good step. to destroy the spammers one must attack them at all levels including there clientelle and there infrastructure. Implementing basic standards of practice and ethics for this is a good thing to do and certainly raises the bar world wide. Keep up the good fight! [ps: dear echelon: "spammers are terrorists, please bomb them"] [only half joking] ;-) Sean Er, yes...we at El Reg, of course, do not endorse any bombings of anyone. Vultures don't like soup. Hiding from the lawyers is not the best approach to take when someone sues you. This is fairly obvious. Couple of people in the US, however, thought that sticking their head in the sand would help when they were accused of illegal downloading. Not so, you said. And rightly so, we feel... The Ostrich syndrome is common, it's the first thing that people are advised against when they are trying to get themselves out of debt, stop throwing away the letters, open them and deal with them.... The same thing applies here, part of the problem is that most people don't understand the court system, folk also don't get that judges and magistrates are often sympathetic towards people who don't understand the court system and find themselves alone and facing high powered legal representation. The defence is simple, 'No, I don't understand the charges, no I don't know why I am here, I don't know, I just plugged my PC in and turned it on, what's P2P? Norton said I had a virus but I didn't know what to do, I don't know' The burden of proof is then irrevocably shifted on to the copyright holder to prove that *you* breached their copyright, something that is in fact difficult to do beyond doubt. If your PC is hijacked twenty minutes after plugging in to the net then it's much more likely to be some shifty russian character who hi-jacked your PC, or even al qaeda. Judge: "so it's possible that this PC was being controlled by someone other than the defendant?" Burying your head in the sand because 'you can't afford lawyers' will result in judgement in default. Alan Lastly, a short exclamation from a reader who was so upset by Macrovision's plans to incorporate FairPlay support into its CDS-300 copy control that his caps lock key seems to have got stuck. Perhaps as a result of pounding the keyboard? We'll never know for sure: Noting the latest Macrovision inventions re IPod,, I WILL NOT BUY ANY CD CONTAINING ANY FORM OF COPY PROTECTION. END OF DISCUSSION, 'NUFF SAID. Also, I still running W98SE and Office-95, and will not purchase any further upgrades or software from M$$ Corp. due to their ongoing program of integrating anti-consumer DRM schemes. -- js Duly noted, JS, thanks for that. More on Friday. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 24 Aug 2004

Say goodbye, then hello to AT&T phones

Cingular, soon to be the United States' largest cellular network, will drop the AT&T brand six months after it completes its merger with AT&T Wireless. After that, AT&T will be free to launch its own cellular services under the brand. In May, the phone giant inked a reseller agreement with Sprint PCS to rebadge Sprint's phones under the Death Star logo, potentially making it one of the US' biggest "virtual operators". AT&T has also raced into the domestic VOIP business with all guns blazing. AT&T decided to spin off its wireless division during the dot.com era when wireless companies were given inflated valuations. Given the conventional wisdom that AT&T Wireless isn't highly regarded by the public, Cingular probably can't wait to see the back of it. AT&T Wireless' billing and service quality were rated above average until its botched introduction of number portability sent many subscribers racing to new cellphone providers. The company lost over 360,000 in the first quarter of this year alone. By the end of the year, when the merger is expected to be completed, the two largest US cellphone carriers - Verizon and Cingular - will not only be former Baby Bells, but two synthetic brands based on very bad puns. ® Related stories AT&T goes live on 3G Are you a winner in the T-Mobile, Cingular spectrum swap? Sprint exec dials the wrong acronym Dust settles on AT&T Wireless battle
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Aug 2004

More red ink spills all over online college music scene

A new player has entered the awe-inspiring college music downloading market, giving rival Napster a run for its money or, in actual fact, a run for its losses. Start-up Ruckus Network, based in Boston, has inked a deal with Northern Illinois University (NIU) to test out its online music rental service. This is the first "big win" for Ruckus in the downloading scene, but, of course, likely another loss for college students and their parents who are being called upon to shell out millions to set up campus music stores for the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). Ruckus, like Napster and Real, is trying to convince consumers that paying perpetual monthly service fees to rent music is a better option than buying CDs one at a time. A grand total of 170 NIU students are testing out the Ruckus software with the school shelling out $5 per student per month for the service, according to the Northern Star campus paper. The price lets students download as much music as they want and to stream as many movies as they want, although none of the content is permanent. Once the students leave the NIU network, their music disappears. Thus far, Napster has led the college music rental market with eight schools signing up for its service. None of the parties involved in those deals will release specific figures about how much they pay Napster. Most, however, have admitted to receiving huge discounts from the standard $10 per month fee - something in the range on $2 to $3 per student per month. Napster has confirmed that it makes no money off of these arrangement but is using them instead as a way to tempt more schools into signing up for its service. Presumably so it can make money one day. The RIAA has backed Napster up on this attack. The music label mob promotes the subscription service model as a healthier alternative to P2P networks and has shied away from filing lawsuits against Napster-compliant schools. You could think of Napster as RIAA protection, if you were to stoop to gangster lingo. To Ruckus' credit, the company - founded by a pair of MIT students - offers a little something different from competitors. It is focused solely on the college market and has software that combines music and movies with chat rooms and other online destinations for students to post pictures or to chat. Also unlike its rivals, Ruckus has shied away from offering a fee to make downloads permanent. Both Napster and Real allow consumers to pay between 79 cents and 99 cents to burn a song to a CD or to transfer it to a device. "The feedback we received from a vast majority of students was that they just wanted the ability to play music on their computers," said David Galper, a Ruckus co-founder in an interview with The Register. That logic, however, seems to grate against the hundreds of millions of dollars Apple is making selling the iPod music player. Apple is the only company currently earning significant revenue in the music downloading market, as it has focused on hardware sales and is not offering a subscription service at all. And Apple's success appears to have the RIAA and others concerned. Neither Napster or Ruckus support Mac computers with their service. This is a disconcerting practice when you consider the high number of Mac users at colleges and add the fact that many of the Napsterized schools tack on the music service fee as a mandatory component of the students' IT costs. At Wright State University, this policy has left close to half the student body paying for a service they can't use. "I have become a little suspicious about universities and how they do things," said Luke Kenley, an Indiana State Senator. "Students are their captive audience that they are making money off of." Kenley has been fighting to reduce university costs and is concerned about schools making things such as Cable TV required services. "It's expensive enough to go to college now without adding these charges, especially when they are mandatory," he said. And what about the no Mac policy? "I don't care for that at all," Kenley added. When asked if Ruckus planned to add Mac support, Galper tossed out a shocking answer. "We are working with the entertainment community on that," he said. This, however, left us wondering what the RIAA had to do with writing Mac software. "My understanding is that there are some issues around digital rights management involved with that," he said. Only a moron would think the RIAA is trying to keep Apple out of the college music market because it does not offer a subscription service. The RIAA is happy to welcome all "legal" music options even if it means students won't be tethered to lifelong music subscriptions. Right? If you read this embarrassing story by Jefferson Graham at USA Today, you would actually think Napster and Ruckus have taken the world by storm and captured the hearts of America's youth. "About 25 of the nation's 3,300 colleges will offer music to their students on campus networks this fall," Graham writes. "An additional two dozen or more are finalizing deals in coming weeks. 'There are very few things in life that are more important to students than music,' says Penn State President Graham Spanier. 'Any school that buries its head in the sand on this is not serving its students well.'" Penn State's Spanier has been the RIAA's most obedient lap dog for some time now. He clearly has no problem describing other schools as being irresponsible if they don't open up music stores for his friends at the RIAA. This despite the fact the P2P networks have once again been confirmed as legal and despite a Harvard/North Carolina study (PDF) that found P2P networks have almost no effect on music sales. Reading USA Today's Graham and others, however, leaves one to believe Napster, Ruckus and the RIAA have already won. Music stores will become mandatory on campus with parents shelling out hundreds of millions to fund the shops. Students will replace their CDs with tethered downloads, and the technology vendors will struggle to make any money off this process, as the music labels skim cash from every subscription sold. Enjoy! ® Related stories 'Stealing songs is wrong' lessons head for UK schools What went wrong at Wright State when Napster arrived More universities agree to RIAA/Napster 'protection'
Ashlee Vance, 24 Aug 2004