27th > August > 2004 Archive

Orbitz founder seeks to rattle Sabre

The man behind Orbitz, Alex Zoghlin, says he's signed seven new airlines for his latest attempt to buck the airline ticketing business. His new company, G2 Switchworks has yet to launch the TrueConnect website, but has already indicated that it's taking Sabre, Worldspan and his former company Orbitz head on. Both Sabre and Orbitz are backed by the major airlines, although Zoghlin says that several of the Orbitz backers will also be participating in TrueConnect, naming MoUs from United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, US Airways and Alaska. Zoghlin left Orbitz two years ago, and he lured several of the lead engineers to his new venture. Orbitz was launched with the intention of to breaking Sabre's dominant position on air ticket reservations, but as the major airlines took interests in the company, it found itself being accused of monopolistic practices itself. For once Microsoft, with its Expedia service, was left crying foul. Rivals said that the airlines were dumping juicy offers on Orbitz hoping to cut out other web rivals and travel agents. Sabre was developed in the early 1960s by American Airlines, and the Apollo and Galileo systems by United Airlines. An antitrust investigation by the Department of Justice in 1994 brought against Sabre and Apollo by smaller airlines unearthed anticompetitive practices but decided against declaring them a monopoly. Northwest Airlines is suing Sabre after balking at its usage fees, and is selling tickets direct via its website. ® Related stories Airlines ground online ticket price gouging EU hands airline data to US Lastminute buys German doppelganger Expedia buys Egencia
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Aug 2004

'Large number' of ISPs face ruin - UKIF

A "large number" of the UK's ISPs could go bust following Ofcom's decision to allow the wholesale cost of some business broadband products to rise by as much as 30 per cent. The worst fears of new industry group UKIF were realised today after the monster communications regulator published its statement setting the Margin between IPStream and ATM interconnection Prices. Ofcom maintains that this will help "promote effective and sustainable competition" for wholesale broadband products. However, the UKIF - which represents more than 70 small and medium-sized ISPs - reckons the move has "put them in a position where they will be unable to compete and will be faced with terminating their business". UKIF reckons that instead of "promoting effective and sustainable competition", the move reduces competition and concentrates the control of the market among the hands of a few large ISPs. Said Robert Kemp, MD of KeConnect: "This is not really surprising and it is more of the same of what small and medium ISPs have heard from the regulator. Ofcom claims that it wants to promote competition, but it would be very difficult for my company, and for many other ISPs, to compete in what is essentially a non-competitive market." Last Friday UKIF met with Ofcom in a last ditch attempt to try and block the move which saw some of their wholesale prices for broadband increase by 30 per cent. Speaking afterwards, John Tsai, VP of ISP Entanet, said: "Friday's meeting with Ofcom left a rather bad taste in the mouth. The overriding feeling was that Ofcom had already made its decision." At the beginning of August BT Wholesale told ISPs that it would increase its BT IPStream Office and BT IPStream S products from 1 September. At the time BT said it was forced to increase prices to comply with new regulatory measures. Said a spokesman: "We didn't think it [the price rises] would be popular but it is something we had to do." ® Related stories ISPs tackle Ofcom over BT broadband price hike 70 UK ISPs in anti-BT uprising Small.biz faces higher broadband charges
Tim Richardson, 27 Aug 2004

SCO closes BayStar deal

The SCO Group's stock hit its lowest point since the start of its anti-Linux campaign after settling a truce with one of its major investors. SCO has completed an agreement with BayStar Capital that ends an acrimonious dispute between the companies. Marin County-based BayStar invested $20m in SCO last October, but became dismayed by executives public statements and the company's strategy. Not that it lost faith in SCO's plan to extract IP royalties from Linux companies; quite the opposite: BayStar believed that SCO should drop its residual UNIX™ business and concentrate on licensing. Earlier this year BayStar announced it wanted to trade in its preferred stock, the first time in six years the capital firm had asked for its money back. In a statement BayStar said that it had successfully completed the peace settlement outlined last month and no longer held preferred stock in SCO. For its part, SCO said it had been putting cash in an escrow account for the eventuality. The other major outside investor in the SCO Group, Royal Bank of Canada, bailed out earlier this year with BayStar picking up the preferred stock. SCOX finished at $3.60, higher than its level before its anti-Linux campaign began in Spring 2003, but a long way short of the $20 peak it reached when BayStar's investment was unveiled last Fall. ® Related stories BayStar sets lawyers on SCO Judge junks most of SCO's complaint against DaimlerChrysler SCO makes peace with BayStar Royal Bank of Canada dumps SCO Group shares Bank bails out of SCO Bigmouth McBride turned us off SCO, says investor Investor dumps SCO Microsoft encouraged anti-Linux investment - shock!
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Aug 2004

Introducing the mighty Inova XO übertorch

Winter is a-coming in and that means there's no better time to kit yourself out with some top-of-the-range portable illumination. Cue the Inova XO, a compact instant sun generator which, for just £41.69 (£48.99 inc VAT) boasts the following spec: Light performance TIROS (Total Internal Reflective Optical System) with +90% lens efficiency Highest lumens-per-watt delivery in its size class Up to 200' effective range Up to 2-mile signal visibility High-powered 1 watt lifetime LED Power regulating circuitry for constant non-dimming brightness Power source 2 CR123A (3 V) replaceable lithium batteries w/ 10-year shelf life Operation Constant on/off via twist-activated switch cap Momentary on via switch cap button Operating range -40° to +50° C Body Precision-machined aircraft aluminum body with military-grade, Type III anodizing Mineral glass optical window with double-sided AR coating and Teflon® seal Patent-pending stainless steel head Knurled switch cap with rubber button Internal piston .98" diameter x 5.75" long And you can't say fairer than that. The Inova XO is available right now at Cash'n'Carrion. Let there be light.® Get all the latest cash and carrion offers through the Reg newsletter
Cash'n'Carrion, 27 Aug 2004

150+ cuffed in US-led cybercrime crackdown

A three-month crackdown on cybercrime has resulted in the arrest of more than 150 people, the US Department of Justice announced at a Washington press conference yesterday. The ongoing action - which involves US federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies - has been dubbed Operation Web Snare. The operation is targeting a variety of online economic crimes including "identity theft, fraud, counterfeit software, computer intrusions, and other intellectual property crimes". According to a DoJ statement, more than 160 investigations have been opened as part of Web Snare. Investigators have identified more than 150,000 victims with estimated losses of more than $215m. Investigators executed more than 140 search and seizure warrants, and prosecutors have initiated 117 criminal complaints. Examples of those arrested as part of the operation include previously announced cases such as the prosecution of a Romanian cracker and five US accomplices over allegations they conspired to steal more than $10m in computer equipment from Ingram Micro. It also involves newer prosecutions such as the first-ever case involving sophisticated denial of service attacks for commercial advantage. Jay R. Echouafni, chief executive officer of Orbit Communication Corporation, was indicted by a federal grand jury this week on multiple charges of conspiracy and causing damage to protected computers in connection with this alleged DoS attack. ID theft crimes feature prominently in Operation Web Snare. Attorney General Ashcroft has directed the Justice Department offices to make full use of the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, signed into law by President Bush last month, to impose though prison sentences of convicted ID fraudsters. The DoJ said Operation Web Snare showed the "extent to which alleged online criminal activity increasingly is not only multi-jurisdictional, but involves the blending of traditional crimes with various forms of computer crime, such as computer intrusion and malicious computer programs". Operation Web Snare is a follow-up to Operation E-Con and Operation Cyber Sweep, announced in May and November 2003 respectively. E-Con resulted in charges against more than 130 individuals. Cyber Sweep resulted in the execution of more than 90 search and seizure warrants and the arrests or convictions of more than 125 individuals. ® Related stories US agencies arrest 125 in Operation Cyber Sweep Six charged in $10m Ingram computer fraud Russian extortion gang faces 15 years Spammer charged in huge Acxiom personal data theft Police arrest ID thief in Wells Fargo case Bush to sign anti-phishing bill US defends cybercrime treaty Fraudsters prey on apathetic Brits UK ID theft gang jailed for £350K fraud
John Leyden, 27 Aug 2004

Feds bust DDoS 'Mafia'

A Massachusetts businessman allegedly paid members of the computer underground to launch organized, crippling distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against three of his competitors, in what federal officials are calling the first criminal case to arise from a DDoS-for-hire scheme. Jay Echouafni, 37, is a fugitive from a five-count federal indictment in Los Angeles charging him with aiding and abetting computer intrusion and with conspiracy. As CEO of the online satellite TV retailer Orbit Communication Corp., Echouafni allegedly paid a business associate to recruit members of the computer underground to cripple three online stores, resulting in long periods of downtime and an estimated $2m in losses to the businesses and their service providers. Paul Ashley, 30, of Powell, Ohio, is named in a separate criminal complaint as Echouafni's go-between in arranging two of the attacks. Ashley was the network administrator of the Web and IRC hosting company CIT/FooNet, run from his home, which was shuttered sometime after being raided by the FBI last February. Three other Americans and one UK citizen are charged with actually carrying out the attacks. "This is an example of a growing trend: that is, denial of service attacks being used for either extortionate reasons, or to disable or impair the competition," says FBI supervisory special agent Frank Harrill. "It's a growing problem and one that we take very seriously, and one that we think has a very destructive impact and potential." According to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, Echouafni was a client of CIT/FooNet's hosting services when he made a deal with Ashley, then the owner, in October of last year. Echouafni allegedly paid Ashley $1,000 to snuff out two competing websites that he claimed had stolen some of his content and were staging DDoS attacks against his company. Ashley in turn used his connections in the underground, and in at least one case the promise of free CIT/FooNet server, to recruit three associates to do the dirty work: Joshua Schichtel, Jonathan Hall, and Lee Walker, known online as "Emp," "Rain," and "sorCe" respectively. Each of the three apparently had sizable "botnets" at their disposal, meaning they could each command thousands of compromised PCs to simultaneously attack a single host -- Walker alone had control of between 5,000 and 10,000 computers through a customized version of the Agobot worm, according to the FBI affidavit. Schichtel's network of 3,000 zombies was more modest, and he quietly subcontracted the job to Richard "Krashed" Roby, who allegedly took the assignment in exchange for a free shell account. The attacks began on 6 October, with SYN floods slamming into the Los Angeles-based e-commerce site WeaKnees.com, crippling the site, which sells digital video recorders, for 12 hours straight, according to the FBI. The company's hosting provider, Lexiconn, responded by dropping WeaKnees.com as a client, sending the company to more expensive hosting at RackSpace.com. RackSpace fought back, but the attackers proved determined and adaptive. In mid-October the simple SYN flood attacks were replaced with an HTTP flood, pulling large image files from WeaKnees.com in overwhelming numbers. At its peak the onslaught allegedly kept the company offline for a full two weeks. (The company declined to comment on the case). RapidSatellite.com, which sells satellite TV receivers, was hit at the same time and with similar results. The company responded by quickly moving their electronic storefront to the distributed content delivery services of Speedera, only to be crippled three days later by an attack on that provider's DNS servers, which for an hour also blocked access to other Speedera-hosted sites, including Amazon.com and the Department of Homeland Security, according to the FBI affidavit. RapidSatellite then moved to Akamai, but were out again within a week when the attackers switched to an HTTP flood attack, running massive numbers of queries through RapidSatellite.com's search engine. Behind the scenes Ashley was allegedly micromanaging the assault. A chat log recovered from Schichtel's hard drive shows Ashley admonishing his subordinate to stay on top of his portion of the attack: "u gotta keep ane [sic] eye on it...cuz they could null route the ip and change the dns...and it would be back up." When Schichtel asks, "what did they do to you?," Ashley replies with an answer fit for Tony Soprano. "[F]---ing with us...well, a customer." "Operation Cyberslam" In December, the alleged DDoS conspirators' informal relationship became more corporate, when Echouafni purchased CIT/FooNet from Ashley, and kept Ashley on as network administrator at $120,000 a year salary. Ashley, in turn, formally hired Hall to perform "security" for the company -- which the FBI suggests was a euphemism for launching more DDoS attacks against Echouafni's enemies. In Feburary, Echouafni -- now the boss -- phoned Hall directly to order an attack on a new target, according to the government: another satellite T.V. retailer called Expert Satellite. Hall dutifully launched a SYN flood against the new victim, but the results didn't please his CEO; Echouafni contacted Hall repeatedly to inform him that the site had resurfaced, and to express his disappointment. "Echouafni also implied that [Hall] would be fired if he did not launch the attacks," reads the affidavit By then, law enforcement was making progress on the investigation they code named "Operation Cyberslam." FBI cyber crime agents had spotted what appeared to be reconnaissance for the HTTP flood attacks in WeaKnees.com's October log files, originating from a shell hosting company called Unixcon. Unixcon traced the activity to an account that had been established with a stolen credit card number, but an FBI source, whose identity is protected in the affidavit, fingered U.K. resident and Unixcon administrator Lee "sorCe" Walker as the culprit. Walker was already known to the FBI from an investigation earlier in the year, when one of Walker's IRC enemies complained that Walker had DDoSed him. The Bureau even had Walker's home address. An FBI agent traveled to the U.K. in February to accompany London police as they raided Walker, who admitted to the WeaKnees.com and RapidSatellite.com attacks, and fingered Ashley as his handler, according to the affidavit. The Bureau raided Ashley's home on Valentine's day. Before they hauled away CIT/FooNet's servers -- an act that would briefly cause controversy in the hosting community -- Ashley allegedly admitted to the attacks, and named all three of his cyber button men and Echouafni. Echouafni was arrested in Massachusetts, and released on $750,000 bail secured by his house. "We've alleged in the indictment that Echouafni was the manager, organizer and leader of the group," says assistant U.S. attorney Arif Alikhan, head of the Los Angeles computer crimes section, who's prosecuting the case. He's also missing. According to court records, last month Echouafni's attorney won a motion to permit Echouafni's wife and children to "travel freely within and outside of the United States of America," and to have their passports returned. That was Echouafni's last action in court: the government says he's disappeared, and officials believe he's likely in Morocco. "He's a native of Morocco, and he was arrested in March as he returned from Morocco into the U.S.," says the FBI's Harrill. Echouafni's attorney did not return a phone call. The Echouafni investigation was one of a handful of cases specifically cited Thursday by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in announcing what the Justice Department called "Operation Web Snare -- a tallying of over 150 recent and ongoing federal criminal cases relating to computers or identity theft. Ashcroft said the case illustrates "the increased use of the Internet to damage rival businesses and communicate threats for commercial advantage." "I think it's the first case of its kind involving a DDoS for commercial advantage or for hire," says Alikhan. "There are DDoS attacks all the time organized on IRC, but this is certainly the first case where you have a corporate executive who was using the services of another person to launch attacks against competitors." Copyright © 2004, Related stories DDoSers attack DoubleClick Cybercops seize Russian extortion masterminds Watch out! Incoming mass hack attack
Kevin Poulsen, 27 Aug 2004

The polluted Internet

CommentComment I've spent a significant amount of time in New Delhi - which was, until a few years ago, one of the most polluted cities on the planet - and I've seen the effects of all those toxic fumes. A low cloud of fog lines the narrow streets at night, and the pollution seeps in through the windows while most people are fast asleep, breathing it in. Forgive my analogy, but that's pretty much the state of the Internet today: more polluted than ever, and getting worse. Unlike the city of Delhi, which took some extraordinary measures a few years back to dramatically reverse this ugly trend, little or nothing is being done to stop the growing pollution that now plagues the Internet. If you live in a major metropolitan city where high bandwidth connections are as common as your plain old telephone service, take a look at your firewall and IDS logs. It's not exciting at all, but you should do it. Compare the results with what you saw even just six months ago. Unwanted packets from worms and trojans are now hitting your network every second. New viruses, old viruses, mutated viruses, you name it. Big worms, fast worms, and worms that have been alive for years, they all reach my firewall and are silently stopped. Nothing new. The only thing new about this is the magnitude of the problem. Stare into the light If you have a cable or DSL modem at home, pause and reflect for a minute as you look into the light. Let me explain. Take a few short moments to watch the receive light on your modem or unfettered ethernet connection. Here in high bandwidth Canada, that flashing light now flashes almost solid. It's almost unbelievable. It's almost all malicious traffic. I check my firewall connection status, in this case using 'pftop'. Everything's fine, no activity on my end. Yet the packets keep coming. Filtered, scrubbed and released, the LED light showing the packets that reach my home network barely registers a blip. Aunt Fern's honeypot I am finding it increasingly difficult to explain to laypeople about security on the Internet. The situation is only getting more complex, and worse. My Aunt Fern pulls her old computer out of the closet and plugs it in. Big mistake. She'd be better off with a typewriter, I tell you. In a few minutes her machine is already 0wn3d, and she just flipped it on. She looks at me with disbelief. Worms, I tell her. She wrinkles her nose. She clearly doesn't like worms, so now we start talking about "compromised bots", but all I see is a newly puzzled face. Beyond the word 'worm', which was the extent of her comprehension, lays the rest of the World Wide Internet and Bill Gates' great vision of a computer on every desktop. I bet he never envisioned how many of them would be crawling with worms. How to help your aunt There's nothing wrong with admitting you have a problem. The first step is admitting it to yourself, and the next step is to find a long-term solution or effective treatment that will rid yourself of the problem once and for all. Instead of explaining to my Aunt Fern the myriad of ways she is hopelessly unqualified to be on the Internet, as I eat one of her excellent home-baked cookies I simply point at that little flashing light on her Ethernet card. I tell her it's just "pollution" on the Internet, and she needs some help. It's a concept she can understand -- and it has the added benefit that I don't have to tell her about the worms. People shouldn't have to be computer experts to own a computer. But without a firewall, router, mega patches, anti-virus and anti-spyware, my auntie Fern has little hope. There are many potential solutions that would benefit the Internet as a whole, but very few are being implemented, and for a multitude of complex reasons. Everyone must take their share of blame for the problem, but the biggest share of that belongs with your ISP. You can blame the uneducated user community, but that's entirely the wrong approach to take. ISPs could start offering "filtered" accounts for their less technically-savvy users, but if it costs more people won't buy it. If it costs less, the gamers and power users wanting unrestricted access would complain. If it sells for the same price, it still costs the ISP money in added infrastructure and support. ISPs could very easily track down the worst offenders, such as that evil SPAM-spreading, open-proxied malicious bot that my Aunt Fern used to keep her recipies on -- and some do. But many say it's not their problem. It's not their responsibility, and it would cost them money. Power users and admins could write scripts that counterattack or tarpit the infected machines, removing the infection or simply powering the machine down. It love it. Simple, elegant... but illegal. The last thing you want is to be the nice guy who ends up in jail, just because you tried to help. Monoculture isn't that bad About 95 per cent of the world runs Windows on their desktop. That won't change in the corporate world to a significant extent any time soon. Deal with it. The tiny 5 per cent of the world that's leftover and running something other than Microsoft, well, their owners have reason to rejoice. Those of you who use Linux/Gnome/Kde or X Windows on BSD, or the incredibly cute Mac OS X desktop... or Amiga or Atari or whatever, please keep quiet. For all intents and purposes, we've slipped under the radar. Let's keep it that way. And in the meantime, I predict that in a year's time, that receive light on my cable modem will glow completely solid, even with no activity on my part at all. A stream of nasty pollution we call malicious traffic, that will never stop. Copyright © 2004, Kelly Martin is the content editor for SecurityFocus. Related stories Watching the Net's background radiation The Internet's background radiation - who pays? [Letters] Watch out! Incoming mass hack attack The Wi-Fi explosion: a virus writer's dream Worms spread faster, blended threats grow
Kelly Martin, 27 Aug 2004

Broadband users are impatient

Broadband users are an impatient lot that expect the same speed of service in the "real world" as they do online. So says a survey by Cable & Wireless which found that high-speed Net users demand an always-on, instant response in other areas of their life too - and not just when they're cruising online. Not only are broadband users hacked off with slow websites, they're also cheesed off if they have to wait in a queue. And when it comes to being impatient, it seems men are much worse that women and are only prepared to hang on for three minutes before bogging off somewhere else. For instance, one in five chaps gives up waiting in a shop after three minutes if they haven't been served, while half of the chaps surveyed said they would give up online if they had to wait for something to load. And when it comes to being put on hold on the phone, four in ten blokes said they would hang up after three minutes. According to C&W, the impatience of the UK's "three-minute men" soon boils over and leads many of them to turn their backs on companies. Said Royston Hoggarth, chief exec of Cable & Wireless UK: "There is a serious point to this research. Customers can lose patience with organisations and be gone in 180 seconds, often without that organisation even knowing there's a problem. And once they're gone, they stay gone. "Businesses work hard, and spend hard to maintain their brands. However for consumers, five minutes of waiting on hold, can undo years of advertising and brand exposure. "Technology is fuelling consumer expectation, and applied properly it can help businesses to meet the needs of their customers. However too little or poorly executed investment can exacerbate the situation, infuriating customers left on hold, or left with only an email address for contact." Among the top five irritations cited in the survey were automated answering services, that awful phone 'muzak' companies play when you're on hold, and slow Internet connections. ® Related stories Lara Croft more popular than Jordan Net porn good for you: official Small.biz loses rag with late payers
Tim Richardson, 27 Aug 2004

Cisco snaffles P-Cube

Summer used to be the time of year when business slowed down from its usual frenetic pace and a degree of calm settled over organisations. This year has been somewhat different and a few days ago Cisco, one of the most widely recognised IT suppliers, agreed to splash out some $200m to acquire P-Cube. P-Cube Inc. is a privately held company based in Sunnyvale, California that has developed a range of IP service control platforms. The agreement will see Cisco pay some $200m in cash and options for P-Cube and, subject to the usual closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of Cisco’s fiscal year 2005. At that time it has been announced that the P-Cube employees, currently numbering 118, will report to Pankaj Patel, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Broadband Edge and Midrange Routing Business Unit. P-Cube’s solutions are designed to provide advanced traffic control and bandwidth shaping functionality. The company’s Service Engine family of purpose built network devices utilise ASIC components and RISC processors to perform stateful, bi-directional inspection of IP traffic flows. The system’s subscriber awareness allows the IP traffic flows to be mapped to user ownership thereby supplying detailed information on network usage in real time. If so desired, this information may then be used to control the traffic based on configurable rules. The Service Engine performs layer 7-3 stateful wire-speed packet inspection and classification to currently support over 600 protocol/applications, including Streaming and Multimedia protocols such as RTSP, SIP, HTTP-STREAMING and RTP/RTCP. The engine has transparent network and BSS/OSS integration into existing networks. P-Cube currently offers two major solutions, Engage and Encharge on top of its Service Engine technologies. Engage provides Cable and DSL service providers with capabilities such as P2P Detection and Control, Specialised Service Delivery, Content Based Billing and Application Differentiated Traffic Shaping (Tiered Services). For Mobile service providers Engage enables detailed Service Delivery Control and Service Differentiation. Encharge allows mobile service operators to enable Post- and Pre-paid Service Control along with User and Service Quota Enforcement. In effect, P-Cube begins to make it possible for service providers to differentiate between services like Voice-over-IP, web browsing, music downloads, video streaming or P2P traffic thereby making it possible to control the quality of individual services or to charge for them at different rates without necessitating costly network infrastructure upgrades. Bandwidth need no longer be the only payment model in town. The move is certain to enhance Cisco’s standing within the Telco community, an industry with which it is keen to expand its business. Cisco has already started working on deep packet inspection and the acquisition of P-Cube may prove to be very shrewd. Indeed, as organizations look more and more closely at the services they run, the costs associated with said services and the business value of those services it is likely that the capabilities available in P-Cube’s technologies could bring benefits to organizations in many verticals, not just the large Telco service providers. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories You can lose a job by buying Cisco Cisco turns revenue switch higher in Q4 Cisco hunts for small.biz
Tony Lock, 27 Aug 2004

Bosses fear employee fraud

Fraud is now considered to be as big a threat as burglary, however many employers are failing to take the most basic precautions. Research carried out by financial advisers MacIntyre Hudson, shows that 38 per cent of employers questioned pointed to fraud as the single biggest threat to their business. The biggest concern is the possibility of fraud by employees, with 27 per cent of owner managers believing employee fraud as the biggest risk to their firm. Although no manager would dream of leaving premises unlocked, they seem less vigilant when it comes to fraud. Only 39 per cent ever check for irregularities through on the spot checks. While 82 per cent of business owners claim to check referees provided by new employees, only 39 per cent check the legitimacy of academic qualifications and criminal records. Also, only 26 per cent of employers polled required double signatories on checks and only 11 per cent ever change staff who reconcile their bank accounts. Howard Lewis, partner at MacIntyre Hudson, said, “ Fraud in the workplace is as common in a smaller business as in a large company. However, for small businesses, it is more difficult and time consuming to undertake the necessary checks. “Moreover, the close family-type working environment which characterises many owner-managed businesses is often based on mutual trust. Whilst the vast majority of people are honest, this situation does mean that directors can let their guard down and staff can start to abuse the trust that is bestowed upon them. “We cannot stress enough how important it is for owner managers to foster an environment where trust is combined with vigilance and backed up with robust systems to remove temptation.” Copyright © 2004, Related stories Small.biz crap at security (redux) Bosses warned on employment 'myths' UK workers warm to the skive
Startups.co.uk, 27 Aug 2004

HP iPod to ship 15 September

HP's North American online store has begun accepting pre-orders for the PC maker's own-brand version of Apple's iPod. Dubbed the 'iPod+HP' - aka 'the Apple iPod from HP' - the device is being offered in its 20GB and 40GB incarnations for $300 and $400, respectively. Orders taken from today onwards will ship on 15 September, the site estimates. The two models on offer are the fourth-generation iPod, which Apple unveiled in July. HP announced its decision to offer the iPod back in January. In March, HP began to offer a customised version of iTunes and Apple's online iTunes Music Store. Later that month, the company began shipping PCs with iTunes pre-installed. The HP site pictures white iPods, not blue ones as some had speculated that the company might offer. HP CEO Carly Fiorina is expected for formally announce the iPod+HP availability later today. ® Related stories Next-gen iPod details emerge Apple creates separate iPod business unit Christmas continues for iPod sales HP to bundle iTunes late March Apple posts Compaq iTunes as HP music store goes live How HP invented the market for iPod resellers HP agrees to be Apple DRM dealer
Tony Smith, 27 Aug 2004

PalmOne 'Ace' Treo piccies leak out

PalmOne's next-generation Treo smart phone, codenamed 'Ace', has surfaced on the web. A number of pictures at TreoCentral - one here and another here - in a forum posting reveal a device that superficially matches the existing Treo 600. One shot appears to confirm that the device will support Bluetooth connectivity - a feature that many Treo 600 users have demanded since the device's launch in September 2003. Earlier leaks suggest the new version will sport a 320 x 320, 16-bit colour display. Based on a 312MHz ARM CPU and 32MB of RAM, Ace is said to run Palm OS 5.x. The smart phone is also believed to incorporate a 1.3 megapixel digicam with digital zoom. The new photos suggest the device will indeed feature a removable battery and new mobile phone-style call and hang-up buttons. The handset is also said to support push-to-talk communications. Quite when PalmOne will launch Ace is not yet clear, but with analysts predicting 2004 will be a bumper year for mobile phone sales - and strong demand for smart phones - it will certainly want to get the handset out as soon as it can. While demand for smart phones is on the rise, pure-play PDAs appear to become less attractive to consumers. ® Related stories Next-gen PalmOne Treo details show up on Web PalmOne offers Wi-Fi card... Researcher ups world mobile sales forecast Nokia and co 'to ship 625m handsets' this year PalmOne extends world PDA lead Europe: we will buy your PDAs
Tony Smith, 27 Aug 2004

Intel unveils tri-mode Wi-Fi for Centrino

Intel launched its 'Callexico 2' tri-mode Wi-Fi adaptor for notebook PCs yesterday, as anticipated. The part, which will ship as the ProWireless 2915ABG, adds 802.11a support to Intel's line-up of 802.11b and 802.11b/g-supporting Mini PCI add-in cards. The chip giant took the opportunity provided by the launch to update its wireless set-up software, which is said to offer easier configuration and tougher security options, including support for Cisco's CCX technology. The 2915ABG also supports the recently ratified 802.11i security standard, along with Wi-Fi's old WEP and newer WPA security protocols. The Wi-Fi Alliance is set to launch elements of 802.11i under the 'WPA 2' brand next month, and Intel said it expects that the new part will be certified for WPA 2 in due course. The 2915ABG will be offered as part of Intel's range of Centrino bundles, which also include Pentium M processors and i855-series chipsets. The new adaptors will be introduced next month, with availability improving through the remainder of Q3 and into Q4, the chip giant said. Each adaptor costs $27 when purchased on 10,000-unit batches. ® Related stories Intel readies Centrino Wi-Fi update Intel 'delays' Centrino 2 chipset Wi-Fi group intros standards support stamp Intel preps chip to link 3G, Wi-Fi networks Wi-Fi group to update WLAN spec Wi-Fi Alliance preps WPA 2 security spec Multimedia 802.11e standard speeds up
Tony Smith, 27 Aug 2004

Aussie PM slammed for spam

The Prime Minister of Australia has been accused of "double standards" after employing his son's company to spam voters in his Sydney constituency of Bennelong. John Howard has already admitted that he hired his son's firm, Net Harbour, to e-mail voters. However, the electioneering has caused an outcry "down under" with critics claiming that the PM has broken the country's own anti-spam laws. Earlier this year new legislation made spamming illegal although emails from charities and political groups were exempt. However, opposition spokeswoman, Kate Lundy, said that using a commercial organisation to send the PM's spam was illegal and has called for an immediate investigation. Said Senator Lundy: "The PM has breached the spirit, if not the letter of anti-spam laws that came into effect just four months ago. John Howard's Government banned commercial spamming this year, but then the Prime Minister goes ahead and spams the public for political benefit. This is a clear case of double standards. "Mr Howard obviously thinks he is either above the law or is cynically exploiting a loop hole against the spirit and principle of a law his own Government has been touting as evidence of its social responsibility for the past year. "This is another example of the PM casting ethics aside and arrogantly applying one set of rules to himself and another for other Australians," she said. ® Related stories US cracks down on spam mountain Summer spammers get raunchy London schoolkids drown in spam tsunami Porno blog spam turns nasty US, UK and Australia sign anti-spam act
Tim Richardson, 27 Aug 2004

4,000! BT! Yahoo! punters! get! double! billed!

As many as 4,000 BT Yahoo! broadband punters have been billed twice for their Net access service this month after a billing cock-up at the company. BT is still investigating what went wrong but has given assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be resolved. A spokeswoman for the ISP said that between 3,000 and 4,000 have been wrongly billed. Although details are still sketchy, it's thought that the problem could have hit those punters upgrading from a 512k service to a 1Mb. One hacked-off punter told us: "Thought you might be interested that overnight BT have double-debited accounts. To sort this out I need to chase them, fax them a bank statement and wait for two weeks while they get their act together." ® Related stories O2 billing blunder cuts off thousands 60k AOL UK punters hit by billing cock-up 18,000 Net users caught in BT billing error
Tim Richardson, 27 Aug 2004

Filipino mobe users scammed over virus scare

Unscrupulous Filipino phone shops are cashing on recent stories about mobile phone viruses to flog worried punters services they don't need. A virus called Cabir (AKA Caribe) which targets mobile phones running the Symbian operating system and spreads via Bluetooth was discovered back in June. Handsets from manufacturers such as Nokia, Siemens, Panasonic and Sendo running a Symbian Series 60 operating system could theoretically be infected. The virus, the first capable of infecting mobile phone, was not in circulation at the time of its discovery. Since then there have been rumours but no firm evidence that Cabir is spreading. Despite this Manila phone shops are offering to clean "infected" mobile phone handsets for between 500 up to 1,000 ($8.90 to $19.60) pesos a pop, Jamz Yaneza, a senior antivirus consultant of Trend Micro, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The paper reports that local phone shops are advertising their mobile phone virus removal services with signs like "Repair Virus Caribe". Cabir does not have a damaging payload and protection is easy so even if the virus was circulating users have little need to use the snake oil services of back-street Manila phone resellers. Consumers with mobile phones running a Symbian Series 60 operating system need only keep their Bluetooth in non-discoverable mode to guard against Cabir. Turning off Bluetooth will also stop the worm dead in its tracks, AV firm F-Secure points out. ® Related stories Virus attacks mobiles via Bluetooth Mosquitos smartphone 'Trojan' there by design First PocketPC virus found
John Leyden, 27 Aug 2004

Sheep, planes and Lara Croft

LettersLetters Let's get right to it. The most important story this week, without any doubt, is the wonderful news that sheep feel happier when surrounded by family photos. One, two three...Ahhhhhhh. This is not a laughing matter, friend. These folk kidnap sheep and subject them to sense deprivation, subliminal manipulation, and brainwashing. It is obvious what is going on here. They are training an army of sheep assassins. Released back to the flock, they will live normal lives --for years, if necessary-- until Der Tag. No one will suspect until it's too late, not even them. Aristus Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention I have thrown away all the pictures of triangles I had in my wallet and feel MUCH less stressed now. Kerry thanks for your story on sheep, it made me cry tbh It goes toward proving what some of us have known intuitively for years. Namely that we are nto so separate from the animals abused by us for food. That they can feel pain is undoubtedly true but people have scoffed for years that they feel emotional pain from the farming system. Meat is murder, it's plain and simple. Matt Lester, Philip K Dick would have loved this. Perhaps the subject header should have been "Do Ovines yearn for a gratifying bleat"? Cheers, Rory "Yes, the image of a woolly lonesome pining for farmer Giles on some wind-swept Cumbrian hillside is an appealing one." Oh dear oh dear. Shouldn't that be 'appalling'? :o) Adam We also brought you news of a billion dollar research and development effort that aims to make new and cleverer unmanned military aircraft: With manned aircraft there is a major imperative for the pilot to exert high levels of care and skill to bring the craft back to base - loss of said craft is likely to result in consequent loss of associated pilot. No such compelling driver (or compulsion on the driver?) exists for RPVs - expect attrition rates for these devices to be significantly higher than comparable manned aircraft. Richard I just read you article "US throws $1bn at unmanned attack aircraft" and I was wondering why you seem to have such a problem with the expenditure? I can see no reason from the article why this is any different from the many other military R&D projects currently under way. Most R&D projects will fail, and it is impossible to know which ones will be successful. In the end, the military learns from each failed project as well, so just because the project didn't produce a tangible result, doesn't mean that the money was a total waste. Unmanned vehicles might or might not be the wave of the future, the only way the military can find out is by trying to develop them. At any rate, the technology being developed is as interesting as it is scary. I don't think it's fair to belittle the efforts of so many scientists and engineers simply because the end vehicle may prove to be inviable. Of course, if you have a problem with all military R&D in general, I guess that's fair. I don't know if it really justifies the condescending tone, but that's The Register. Robert "reduce the cost per target killed" There's a nice warm personal phrase that should go down in the annals of history. Its nice to know that if you are a British soldier getting your legs blown off by friendly fire at least it was done in a US taxpayer friendly manner and you didn't have to put too many people to any trouble, you might even feel inclined to doff your cap and say "thanks, guv'nor" Malcom "while minimizing the prospects for geolocation errors" Would that be 'missing the target' then? Phil "US unmanned aircraft projects have to date proved expensive and troublesome." Both the Predator and Darkstar UAV platforms have essentially proved themselves on the battlefield, both from the perspective of survivability, the lack of PR fallout from pilots seen on Al Jazheera and the relatively new concept of sticking AGM onto the platform which the CIA used to great effect against a landrover. One thing that is slightly troubling is that both designs *appear* to be lifting body designs based on the B2 fluidic surface created to deflect radar at high angles of incidence; this is inherently unstable and very unsuited to any kind of air superiority regime due to the difficulty of turning a flying wing through sharp angles, although you don't have to contend with the pilot blacking out and you're approaching the 22G limit for airframes. Of course, this does mean that a hard turn presents a twocking big reflective surface to any nasties while you're trying to get in a firing position. James I think you have missed the point of the release and got caught up in the "Newspeak" of the release. The real point is that the Pentagon has realized that it is all right to tell people publicly that we will have armed robots roaming around the skys that can be taken over (I'll let your imagination do the rest), so that they can perform a precision strike on a toll booth, etc. I don't know about you, but this stuff scares me because of all those wonderful folks out there on the 'net turning machines into zombies and writing viruses. Can you imagine the want ads fronted for Osama, "Expert in RF encryption/decryption with experience with RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles). Other qualifications include MCSE credentials." Why the Windows expertise? Everytime I see one of these systems on the History Channel or the Discovery Network, I notice the hardware and the software being run and Windows it is! Maybe Mr. Bill wants to try a precision strike on the Lindows . . .Ooops! . . .Linspire home office. Jerry Some of you found the details of the X-Box murders a little gruesome, and felt we had strayed a little from silicon paved super highway of information: Well this is a bit more gratuitous than needs be. I like TR and most of your stories and I hope I'm in the minority of comments (as it shows you've picked your audience well). In this case I'd prefer the details to come from (and I hesitate to use the term in this case) less sensational sources. And I realize as I write this that I have become a hippocrite as I love the purient stories that you and the rest of the staff report. Damn. [Normally I wouldn't send this in but I feel a need every few weeks to comment on an article and I guess this is your time again.] David Much as I hate to complain, I do feel that this story thread by now has only the most tenuous link with core The Reg territory, and the gory details are not really what I personally would like to hear. Unless of course one of the Xbox games found at the home of one of the alleged perpetrators enacts a similar scene of horrific abuse - an Abu Graib training CD perhaps ... OK that's far too cynical, and quite enough from me ! Regards, Mike Of course, other writers were perhaps just a little the worse for wear... Ashlee, That article about the XBox killings just goes to show I was right all along. I was going to get my kids(*) a console and the decision came down to social values. The XBox and the GameCube, preacher told me the PS2 was made by Godless HeathenCommies. I read up on capabilities, price, games and values, and the GC came up a clear winnner. It seems the last set of mass murders over a GC were much better. The 7 people were all tucked into bed, read a story, and smothered to death with a giant mushroom. Which would you rather your children grow up with, baseball or mushrooms? -Charlie (*) I have none New music download deals for universities in the US have left some UK readers a bit confused: '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.'" Now it may just be me, it could be a Brits versus Yanks thing but I distinctly remember when I was a student that paying the rent, paying for food, paying for books, my overbearing overdraft, my multiple student loans, having to work crap jobs to survive while getting coursework in on time, passing exams and actually getting my degree where all up there pretty high on the list above being able to play music on my computer. In fact I would safely say that having cash spare at the end of the week, how many pints of larger it would take to get ratted and the chances of getting laid where much more serious concerns. As I said, it may just be me but I dont think throughout the whole four years of my college life the subject of playing music on my computer came up once. I guess British universities and colleges are just too concerned with educating their students than entertaining them, that must be why more young people are passing their exams with high marks and getting degrees on this side of the pond these days. Paul C Hartley amazingly paranoid and missing the point as usual. where did your axe to grind come from? was a loved one killed in some freak tower records accident?! seek help! Gabriel L Unsurprisingly, we've had more than a few letters in about the relative merits of the computer sprite, Lara Croft, and the utterly inflatable glamour model, Jordan. You wil recall that a recent poll of geeks at a gamer show put Lara ahead by six votes to four: > "Lara typifies everything men wish for in a partner. > She's strong, smart and looks wicked in shorts." Whatever these gamers use to keep going must be good stuff if even only one of them can come up with something as ludicrous as that and allow their name to be used. Once this young chap has burried his nuts a few times strong and smart will no longer be part of his vocabulary. After a while "looks wicked in shorts" might not seem so important either. Chris Winpenny "We'd like to hear you say that within earshot of Peter Andre, Mr. Tufnell." Why? Because he might cry? Sure the boy's got a sixpack, but he lacks the little plastic thingy to hold it all together. (Appologies to the original author...) Here in Australia, we were forced to endure Mr Andre and his whiny, nancyboy, pop dribble years ago. "Mysterious Girl"? The only thing mysterious about Mr Andre is his sexuality. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We all took a vote and tried to drop him off in New Zealand, but they didn't want him, so our PM stepped in and had him sent to England. Please don't send him back. There could be a fiver in it for you... Geoff Geoff, we too had to endure the musical torment on "Mysterious Girl" ten years ago, and then again more recently. The nation was only just recovering from the first release when the record company put the tune out again... Dear Lucy, I wasn't part of this poll, but I think perhaps you miss the point of the findings. Personally I would rather go on a blind date with a potted cactus than with Jordan. I am not in the habit of fantasizing about Lara Croft, but I could definitely see advantages in taking a computer game out for dinner in preference to that vacuous bimbo. Or perhaps I’m judging her unfairly, based on her media persona! Oh well, such is life. Cheers Malk Er, actually Malk, that is a very good point, and one well made. Enjoy the long weekend. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Aug 2004

Telewest warns punters off cheap broadband deals

Telewest reckons punters should beware of "stingy bandwidth restrictions" before signing up to ISPs making "extravagant claims" about their cut-price, high-speed broadband services. Commenting on this week's announcements from Wanadoo and PlusNet offering 1Mb ADSL for under £20 a month, Telewest reckons these packages will "ultimately disappoint consumers already confused by a plethora of extravagant claims". Telewest's gripe is that while the headline figures concerning speed and price sound attractive, the strings attached to these offers will ultimately disappoint punters. In a statement, Eric Tveter, Telewest president and COO said: "Hype over lower pricing and faster speeds is being used as a fig leaf to hide inadequate services with heavy restrictions. A low-cost 1Mb service with a 1Gb or 2Gb monthly cap defeats the whole point of faster broadband." A spokeswoman for Wanadoo dismissed Telewest's comments insisting that its usage allowance "is enough for nine out of ten of our users". "Almost three thousand signed up [for Wanadoo's 1Mb service] on the first day - it's what punters want," she said. Marco Potesta, Marketing Director at PlusNet said: "What we are doing is making broadband more appealing for those people who are used to spending £10-£15 per month on dial up internet access. We are not capping anyone's usage and we have lots of account options included uncapped so, when people have learnt how useful broadband is on a "Lite" account, they can enjoy the full potential of a broadband conenction and choose the right account type to match their ongoing usage needs." He added: "If Telewest opened up their cable network with a wholesale offering, we could then show them how a service can be delivered. ® Related stories Punters flock to PlusNet cut-price ADSL Wanadoo UK punts 1Mb ADSL for £18 ADSL? Fast? Pah!
Tim Richardson, 27 Aug 2004

Scientists suck hydrogen from sunflower oil

In the future, your car might run on sunflower oil, or at least on the hydrogen that can be derived from it thanks to research being conducted at the University of Leeds. A research team led by Valerie Dupont, has found a way to extract hydrogen from the hydrocarbon chains in sunflower oil. The technique does result in some carbon dioxide being released, but the team points out that growing sunflowers would offset it. Hydrogen is the ultimate environmentalist fuel: when it burns it produces water vapour and nothing else. The trick is to find a way of generating the hydrogen without burning more of the fossil fuels it is supposed to replace. Dupont explains that the team uses two catalysts to extract the hydrogen in a process known as unmixed reforming. One catalyst is carbon based, and the other contains nickel. The reforming process means the team does not reply on fossil fuel at any stage in the process. Earlier this month we reported that a UK company has developed a way to extract the hydrogen from water using nothing more offensive than sunlight. However, the sunflower oil may have an advantage over the solar technology for mobile applications, at least. For one thing, being able to generate hydrogen in real time eliminates the rather tricky question of where to store the hydrogen - particularly in a car - because a hydrogen tank would need to be 3000 times the size of a conventional petrol tank to deliver the same amount of energy. Dupont's team think their sunflower oil converter could eventually made small enough to be built into the engine of a hydrogen powered car. The main drawback of the technology is the cost. Dupont concedes that the compounds are expensive. Still, we'll probably only need a couple more years of instability in the Middle East before oil prices make it a viable proposition. ® Related stories Nanotech aids green hydrogen production Toshiba touts pump-free fuel cell for MP3 players Sulphur fuels battery breakthrough
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Aug 2004

Japanese banks deploy biometric palm scanners

Japanese banks are turning to a new biometric identification system, based on the unique nature of the patterns of veins in our palms. Fujitsu says it has sold the vein pattern recognition technology to two banks already, one of which has implemented the system already, according to IDG News reports. The system requires three snapshots of the palm, taken in near infrared light. In the image produced, the veins show up as dark patterns. This data forms the basis of the security system: it can be loaded onto a smart cash card and used at cash machines to identify the user of the card. The scan to identify the user takes a couple of seconds, Fujitsu says, and involves the cardholder putting their wrist into a cradle which holds the palm in the right position to be scanned. Kazuaki Ishida, a spokesman for Fujitsu, said that the technology would help combat shoulder surfing: "It's quite easy for criminals to watch people input their numbers, steal their cards, and withdraw money. Also the number of fake cards is increasing. This system is much more secure." Fujitsu claims the palm scanning technology is a good balance of security and convenience. He pointed out that most people don't want to submit to retinal scans every time they withdraw cash from an ATM. Fingerprint scanners were also considered, but market research found that women responded badly to the hygiene implications of sharing the print recognition pad with so many other people. Suruga Bank has already installed the system and it has been in operation since June this year. Meanwhile, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi plans to deploy the system by October. Fujitsu says it is speaking to several other "megabanks", but would reveal any more details. ® Related stories CBI wishes for the ID scheme we're not getting Home Office prohibits happy biometric passports Biometric DRM is 'empowering' says iVue maker
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Aug 2004

VeriSign antitrust claim against ICANN rebuffed

VeriSign has suffered a legal setback in its courtroom battles with Internet governing body ICANN over its controversial Site Finder service. Judge A. Howard Matz of the District Court in Central California this week threw VeriSign's anti-trust claim against ICANN out of court, dismissing its case with prejudice. The judge rejected VeriSign's allegations that its competitors manipulated a vote by ICANN's board about Site Finder after ruling that VeriSign had failed to turn up any evidence of a conspiracy against it. Judge Matz's decision is available at here (PDF). Site Finder was launched in September 2003 when VeriSign applied a "wildcard" entry into the .com and .net Top Level Domain zones redirecting traffic that would otherwise have resulted in a "no domain" response to the controversial search site. This "typo squatting service" enraged techies who argued that the service was detrimental to the smooth running of the Internet. VeriSign was forced to suspend Site Finder less than a month later, following an order from ICANN, which claimed the company was in breach of its terms of operation. VeriSign maintains that ICANN exceeded its powers in compelling it to drop the service and launched suit. The Court dismissed VeriSign's original complaint on 18 May 2004. But it allowed VeriSign to file an amended complaint over allegations that commercial pressure from its rivals was behind ICANN's decision to force VeriSign to withdraw its controversial Site Finder service. Despite the failure of these claims to win favour in court, VeriSign has vowed to continue its legal fight. ® Related stories All your Web typos are belong to us VeriSign DNS change broke my HP printer (letters) ICANN demand sees VeriSign pull SiteFinder VeriSign's Site Finder is undead VeriSign calls ICANN bluff in world s biggest game of poker
John Leyden, 27 Aug 2004

Phone win for Apple

Sprint has agreed to deliver video to its phones using Apple's QuickTime video technology. Sprint's PCS Vision Multimedia Services will deliver clips, including 'Sprint TV', to the Samsung MM-A700 handset. It's a minor announcement in the larger industry context, but a major deal for Apple, which can boast of its first carrier customer. So far, Real Networks has made most of the running in the mobile space, delivering news and sports clips for AT&T's new EDGE network through the Nokia 6620. The Real Player comes standard with Nokia's own Series 60 smartphones. It's a double win for Apple, as Sprint has also nominated its Xserve G5 racks as back-end infrastructure to host QuickTime Streaming Server. Two and a half years ago Apple put into place a partnership with Sun to host the infrastructure on SPARC. Now Apple doesn't need Sun anymore, at least for the streaming part of the proposition. QuickTime was one of very few technologies regarded strategic enough to survive the R&D cull when Steve Jobs regained control of Apple in 1997. QuickTime has supported the phone world's small-size 3GPP file format since version 6.0. ® Related stories Apple: Your smartphone's best friend MPEG 4 is go (licence fees capped) Apple outs Quicktime 6 - without MPEG 4 deal Humble Jobs launches Apple server Apple pushes Mobile QuickTime bundle, delays release of 6.0 Apple licenses iTunes to Motorola Microsoft's masterplan to screw phone partner full details
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Aug 2004

Deafening phone - Siemens issues health warning

Siemens has issued a warning about potential ear damage caused by its 65 series phones. If the battery is exhausted during a phone call, the handset shuts down, but before clapping out altogether, it plays a tune. Rather loudly. That's more polite than screaming "I'm spent!" in German into your ear, but the problem is serious. The handset plays the shutdown melody so loudly that the user's eardrum may be damaged, says Siemens. The flaw affects version 11 of the software of the C65, CX65, M65, S65 model phones, and then only if the phone has already issued three low-battery warnings. Siemens has promised that users will get a free upgrade when it's available, and in the meantime recommends turning off "the disconnection melody".® Related stories Mobile phones get on your (ear) nerves Mobile phones rot your balls Nokia phone explodes in Finland 3G in new health scare Text messaging could damage your kidneys Mobile phones are akin to cyanide, says academic 102 ways to kill your computer
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Aug 2004

Avalon faces axe as Microsoft dismembers Longhorn

ExclusiveExclusive Cattle mutilation appears to be a phenomenon more common on the MidWest prairies than the Pacific coast, but one steer in particular faces a very nervous weekend: Microsoft's Longhorn. Microsoft project managers have demanded that features be jettisoned in order for the next major version of Windows to ship as projected by 2006, and the major loser is the new GUI, codenamed Avalon, according to multiple sources who spoke to The Register on condition of anonymity. Features are being "decoupled", according to current Redmond jargon, meaning they may be introduced at a later date. Or not. Avalon features a new compositing engine and a new, vastly simplified API that makes coding Windows forms much like writing a web page. The two year project has been the victim of high staff turnover already say sources, but had previously been thought to be sacrosanct. In two years' time much higher pixel densities will make Windows XP's hardwired fonts hard to read, and a modern GUI was considered a necessity. (In anticipation of higher density LCDs, Nokia recently introduced a "double" sized version of its Series 60 user interface). Avalon had won praise for its elegant API and speed at PDC earlier this year. How much of the work, if any, will ship in Longhorn will be decided in the next few days. Another feature likely to be "decoupled" is WinFS, or Windows Future Storage. However Indigo, Microsoft's middleware infrastructure, is not considered a candidate for mutilation. Microsoft has promised to backport it to Windows XP. Reports earlier this year that WinFS would lose network functionality were strongly denied by Microsoft staff, who pointed out that the company had only ever slated these features in post-Longhorn releases, towards the end of the decade. Bill Gates described Longhorn as Microsoft's largest ever engineering project, but it has been bedeviled by slippages. Two years ago, Gates said that Longhorn was "the equivalent of many moon shots". How much of this expense is absorbed by the "strategic" deployment of 1,400 webloggers isn't clear - nor is it clear how much they contribute to the slippages. (And they certainly don't tell you anything useful, like what won't appear, preferring to make up fictional 'features', instead). But slip it has: in October 2001 Chairman Bill vowed that Longhorn would hit the CD pressing plants in 2003. Last year some members of the Longhorn team threw a "Gold Release" party three years early, prompting witty readers to make suggestions for what the acronym 'RTM' really means. But now that looks like a good bet - it might be the only opportunity some staff ever get to celebrate releasing any Longhorn code. ® Related stories Longhorn RTM: what it means to you Microsoft developer hoax backfires MS Trusted Computing back to drawing board Windows Shorthorn is dead-on-arrival Microsoft celebrates Longhorn Gold Release early Longhorn to erase Cairo mis-step with 1995 ship date Now MS trails 2006 for Windows Longhorn Windows Longhorn slips again, becomes megaproject In victory, Microsoft morphs into IBM, and loses it Gates confirms Windows Longhorn for 2003, Blackcomb MIA?
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Aug 2004