28th > September > 2004 Archive

Claranet buys VIA NET.WORKS UK

Claranet has snapped up the UK business of VIA NET.WORKS, Inc. for £7.3m ($13.2m), in yet another round of consolidation in the UK ISP sector. The deal comes a year or so after Claranet snaffled up Netscalibur UK. No one from the company was available for comment at the time of writing to discuss the wider implications of the deal. However, in a statement, Claranet chief exec Charles Nasser said: "Following our past acquisitions on the continent and last year's acquisition of Netscalibur, Claranet is consolidating its position as the leading non-telecommunications Internet Service Provider to business, adding to the group's revenues and profits." Rhett Williams, VIA's CEO, chipped in: "Following our acquisitions of Amen and PSINet Europe this year, this transaction furthers the emphasis of our revenue mix towards hosting, security and other managed services. It also allows us to focus on our core operations in continental Europe and the US." ® Related stories VIA NET.WORKS buys PSINet Europe Jobs go as Claranet confirms Netscalibur buyout Claranet in talks to buy Netscalibur sources Claranet mops up Netscalibur's German ops
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 2004

Nuke watchdog issues cybergeddon alert

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency warned Friday of growing concern about cyber attacks against nuclear facilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced in a statement that it is developing new guidelines aimed at combating the danger of computerized attacks by outside intruders or corrupt insiders: "For example, software operated control systems in a nuclear facility could be hacked or the software corrupted by staff with insider access," the group said. The IAEA's new guidelines on "Security of Information Technology Related Equipment and Software Based Controls Against Malevolent Acts" are being finalized now, said the agency. The announcement came out of the agency's 48th annual general conference attended by 137 nations. Last year, the Slammer worm penetrated a private computer network at Ohio's idled Davis-Besse nuclear plant and disabled a safety monitoring system for nearly five hours. The worm entered the plant network through an interconnected contractor's network, bypassing Davis-Besse's firewall. News of the Davis-Besse incident prompted Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) last fall to call for US regulators to establish cyber security requirements for the 103 nuclear reactors operating in the US, specifically requiring firewalls and up-to-date patching of security vulnerabilities. By that time the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had already begun working on an official manual to guide plant operators in evaluating their cybersecurity posture. But that document, finalized this month, "is not directive in nature", says Jim Davis, director of operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry association. "It does not establish a minimum level of security or anything like that. That isn't the purpose of the manual." A related industry effort will establish management-level cyber security guidelines for plant operators, says Davis, who believes industry efforts are sufficient. "I think we are taking it seriously... and I think if the industry doesn't go far enough in this area we'll see more attention from regulators." Neither the NRC manual nor the industry guidelines will be made public. Separately, the NRC is working on a substantial revision of its regulatory guide, "Criteria for Use of Computers in Safety Systems of Nuclear Power Plants", which sets security and reliability criteria for installing new computerized safety systems in plants. It would replace the current guide, written in 1996, which is three pages long. A working draft of the NRC guide reviewed by SecurityFocus would encourage plant operators to consider the effect of each new safety system on the plant's cyber security, and to develop response plans to deal with computer incidents. Additionally, it would urge vendors to maintain a secure development environment, and to probe their products for backdoors and logic bombs before shipping. Copyright © 2004, Related stories UK stumps up £1.1m for cash-strapped nuke watchdog Five lose jobs over nuke lab security debacle US Emergency Alert System open to hack attack US nuclear lab suspends secret work
Kevin Poulsen, 28 Sep 2004

PalmOne to launch 'big RAM' Tungsten next week

PalmOne is set to cut the prices of its current PDA line-up next month as it gears up for the Holiday sales period and the release of its latest Tungsten handheld, The Register has learned. Reliable sources familiar with the company's plans suggest that the new Tungsten's launch could come as early as next Monday. The new machine is expected to be dubbed the Tungsten T5, skipping past the T4 moniker to avoid offending buyers in nations for whom the number four is held to be bad karma. Past leaks, if accurate, have pointed to a machine with a 520MHz Intel XScale PXA270 CPU and 128MB of memory. Comments from people claiming to have seen the device suggest the new machine contains 256MB of memory, possible some or all of which is Flash, in order to preserve data after hard resets. It has also been claimed that part or all of the device's memory can be mounted on a host computer's desktop as a removable storage device. Interestingly, that's a feature that was many years ago suggested as an option Apple and (then) Palm were working on for early versions of Mac OS X. In the end, Apple developed iSync. More recently, PalmSource - as the OS developer is now called - said it would no longer support synchronisation with the Mac OS. But back to the T5, and our sources strongly suggest that PalmOne will be talking up the PDA's memory configuration at launch. That suggests to us that the 256MB figure. Like the current top-end Tungsten T3, the T5 is said to feature a 320 x 480 display (switchable between landscape and portrait views) but this time minus the slider that has become a key feature of the Tungsten T line-up since the first model shipped almost two years ago. Like past Tungstens, the T5 is expected to include Bluetooth support, and possibly Wi-Fi too, if some past speculation proves correct. The latter could be provided by bundling PalmOne's new Wi-Fi SD card. PalmOne is also known to be working on a successor to the Treo 600 smart phone, but it is not believed that the so-called Treo 650 - aka 'Ace' - will be launched next week. Sources close to PalmOne confirmed a number of upcoming PDA price cuts, but were unable to provide further details. ® Related stories PalmOne Tungsten 'T5' turns up on web PalmOne pockets a profit HTC 'begins Treo 650 volume shipments' to PalmOne PalmOne 'Ace' Treo piccies leak out PalmOne offers Wi-Fi card... PalmSource reboots Cobalt, but no phones until 2005 Group Sense readies Palm OS 5.4 smart phone
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004

Progress pockets Persistence

It is not often that I get a genuine scoop, but I got a briefing today on Progress Software's acquisition of Persistence, even before the guys on Wall Street. Here's how it happened: I was starting a tele-briefing with the ObjectStore division of Progress when I got an email through to me announcing the acquisition, and informing me of the webcast to be broadcast an hour later to the financial guys. Naturally enough, I asked my briefer about it and got the low-down on what the ObjectStore division is planning to do with Pervasive. More of that anon. The ObjectStore division is, in fact, announcing a number of things today apart from the acquisition, notably ObjectStore 6.2 and, more particularly, the ObjectStore RFID accelerator. This will be generally available in October. In addition, though it has not been formally announced, the ObjectStore Trading Accelerator will also be available within the same timeframe, though financial and program trading environments is a market that Progress has addressed for some time and the Trading Accelerator will extend the company's solution rather than create a new one. ObjectStore is an object-oriented database and its target markets are complex applications, real-time data caching and event-driven environments, though the last two of these are often used in conjunction. In particular, Progress sees a significant growth in the requirement for real-time, event-driven processing as a consequence of the expansion of use of RFID. In order to serve this market it has developed a number of specific facilities that augment the capabilities of the database, which provides an in-memory event cache. The most notable of these facilities are the Event Query Language, which has been specifically designed to process incoming events (as opposed to the set-based processing in SQL) and product output that is usually an action - such as "sell this stock". Secondly, with respect to RFID it is providing a standards-based interface (in conjunction with partner ConnecTerra) that will accept input from front-end third party RFID specialists. And thirdly, it has integrated ObjectStore with the Sonic Enterprise Service Bus so that information from the event management system can be passed to back-end ERP and similar applications. It is also worth bearing in mind the company's PSE product, which is a cut-down version of ObjectStore with a small footprint that can run on handhelds and PDAs. This means that you can capture RFID data remotely and then load it into the main system as required. This is neat stuff and confirms ObjectStore's leadership in the market for real-time data services. However, it will be augmented further by the acquisition of Persistence, whose core product is to be renamed ObjectStore EdgeXtend. To put it briefly, this product makes application servers go faster through object-relational mapping on the one hand and data caching on the other. Where it gains over the existing ObjectStore capabilities is in the mapping and development tools that it has, and it also has clever caching capabilities though it is likely that ObjectStore can expand on these and it can certainly add new persistence capabilities to the product. This is certainly a sensible acquisition. While there is some overlap between the product sets there is also considerable potential synergy. The companies share a number of the same customers and this purchase can only extend ObjectStore's position in the object oriented market. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories XML database: big fish lose out to the minnows Tesco extends RFID chip roll-out IBM opens RFID test centre
Philip Howard, 28 Sep 2004
DVD it in many colours

The end of the internet is nigh

BT's Graham Whitehead has told the Irish Internet Association's Congress that the internet is dying, but that the future for broadband and networked technology is bright. In a keynote speech during proceedings at Clontarf Castle, Dublin, BT Exact's principal consultant said that the anarchic and hazardous nature of the public internet meant that companies were now constructing supervised private IP networks. These private networks would be able to handle the amount of traffic that would be generated when broadband was ubiquitous, phone networks were IP-based, and common household objects had their own IP addresses. "The internet is dead, or dying; it's full of viruses, worms and porn, you have to wear a kevlar suit before you go online," he said. "BT is creating a private network, which will be joined to other private networks, to which we will add voice over IP." He said that the relatively low rate of broadband uptake in the UK, where there are 3 million DSL and 1.5 million cable broadband subscribers, is due to the fact that people don't see a need for broadband in their daily lives. He said that the evolution of data networks into always-on real-time access (AORTA) networks would lead to an increased number of networked devices in the home. He predicted a future where washing machines, TVs, security systems and other electronically-controlled systems would all be networked, controlled and maintained by a virtual domestic supervisor. He even predicted the low-cost household items, such as tins of beans, would also have their own individual IP addresses, using the IPv6 protocol. This would allow intelligent supermarket shelves to order additional stock when required and would allow intelligent kitchen shelves to know whether or not an additional tin of beans is required. Whitehead said technology would be driven by demographic changes in society, as the average household size falls towards one person per domestic unit and people turn to virtual communities for company and services. Robots would also be required to carry out tasks for which no humans are available. "Who do you think will be there to push your wheelchair around a nursing home, when we're not producing enough young people who will want to do that kind of thing?" he concluded. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related stories Happy birthday, the internet The polluted Internet
ElectricNews.net, 28 Sep 2004

Freescale to launch 90nm PowerPC G4 today

Motorola's erstwhile chip division, Freescale, is expected to launch its latest G4-class processor, the MPC7448, today at its Smart Networks Developer Forum, being held this week in Frankfurt. The new chip is Freescale's first 90nm G4 and is based on the company's e600 core, the foundation for Freescale's upcoming line of dual-core chips. The 7448, however, contains just one core, clocked to beyond 1.5GHz. It contains 32KB of L1 cache and 1MB of L2, double the 512KB of L2 found in the MPC7447A currently driving Apple's PowerBook G4 and iBook G4 notebooks. Indeed, the 7448 is likely to provide Apple with its next notebook speed bump, as the company struggles to fit the hot-running PowerPC 970FX - aka the G5 - into a laptop. However, it will have to wait: the 7448 is not expected to sample until H1 2005, Freescale said. Unlike other e600-derived chips, the 7448 lacks an integrated memory controller. Instead, it talks to a North Bridge chip across a 200MHz MPX frontside bus, up from the 7447A's 167MHz. That's presumably for better compatibility with existing G4-based systems and, indeed, the 7448 and 7447A are pin-compatible. The 90nm 7448 provides 0.9, 1.0 and 1.1V operating voltages, yielding power dissipation of 10W at 1.4GHz, Freescale claims, with compares well with the 7447A's typical and maximum dissipation figures of 21W and 30W, respectively, at 1.4GHz. While the 7448 is clearly geared toward existing G4 roles, the dual-core MPC8641D, also based on the e600 core, is targeted at embedded applications. Each core has its own 1MB L2 cache and AltiVec SIMD engine, and the chip also features a dual 64-bit DDR 2 memory controlled clocked at up to 667MHz with ECC. The chip also contains two PCI Express 1x-8x bus controllers and a 1x/4x Rapid IO bus controller. The dual-core part uses a 960-pin interface. Cunningly, the 8641D can not only appear to the host OS as two processors, but is capable of running a separate operating systems on each core. The 8641D - and a single core version, the MPC8641 - will sample H2 2005. ® Related stories Freescale to detail dual-core PowerPC G4 Freescale posts Q2 profit on rising sales History repeated as Apple slams CPU supplier Motorola chip launch paves way for 1.5GHz PowerBook G4 Motorola renames chip division Freescale IBM 'readying dual-core G5' AMD heralds OS support for dual-core CPUs Apple: no 3GHz G5 'any time soon' Intel dual-core desktop chip 'to ship mid-2005'
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004
channel

EC 'supports special interests of rivals' - Microsoft

Microsoft will argue that the market for media players is much more varied than the European Commission claims when the two meet in court at the end of the week. It says that "much of the evidence that the Commission presents on this issue [of media players]" in its anti-trust ruling against the company is wrong, the FT reports. Microsoft will claim the market for media players is vibrant and varied and there is no sign of the market "tipping" in its favour. Evidence for this includes the recent launches of music services from Apple, Sony and Yahoo!'s recent acquistion of MusicMatch. The software giant is asking the Court of First Instance to put punishments on hold while it appeals the case. The EC ruled in March that Microsoft had abused its monopoly position and should pay a record-breaking fine of €497m, provide better access to its server protocols and offer a version of Windows without Media Player. Microsoft has "spent millions of dollars" on building a Media Player-free Windows. So it is able to comply immediately if the court does not stay the punishment, Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said. But he warned that forcing the firm to offer a version of Windows without Media Player would frustrate and annoy consumers and damage the "value of our name and our trademark". He accused the Commission of supporting Microsoft's rivals in the market. Brussels had ignored the interests of consumers and competition in the industry in support of the "special interests of a handful of our rivals". Smith also said that European software developers would have to bear the extra costs of ensuring their products work with the new "degraded" version of Windows. Get Real But RealNetworks, a bitter competitor of Microsoft, told the FT that tying Media Player to Windows did limit competition and that Microsoft was trying to get "a stay to the sanctions so that they can continue their unlawful conduct." Real is suing Microsoft for $1bn in damages plus costs. It alleges that Microsoft used its OEM contracts to block distribution of the Real Player, and with held API information. RealNetworks' media player was once something of an obsession with its Seattle neighbour. As recently as 2001, Microsoft was found to be pressuring AOL to block its users from accessing content via Real Player, and requesting caps on content streamed in non-Microsoft formats. Those talks ended in acrimony. And Windows boss Jim Allchin admitted at trial that Microsoft had planned to keep the descriptions of Windows Media Player APIs away from RealNetworks. ® Related stories MS has Media Player - less Windows, just in case... Airbus offers MS a lift Microsoft meets EC judge
John Oates, 28 Sep 2004

Ofcom provokes unbundling battle

The unbundling wars started in earnest in the UK this week, after months of pressure from regulator Ofcom to encourage companies to invest in unbundling the local loop. And one conversion to unbundled ADSL broadband lines will send a shockwave through the cable TV community, with US quoted NTL throwing of the shackles of being a dyed-in-the-wool cable operator, and stating categorically that all its future cable investment will be in ADSL. NTL promised to put DSLAMs into 300 of the 1300 or so telephone exchanges owned by British Telecom, spending £65m ($117m) in the process. It will continue to deliver television services, high speed internet and telephony to the homes passed by its digital cable systems, but it will not build out any more infrastructure using that technology. The company says that it is too expensive. And arch-rival to BT, Cable and Wireless (C&W) has promised that its freshly purchased broadband subsidiary Bulldog Communications will also roll out DSLAMs to 400 exchanges of its own, some 30 per cent of the UK population, with a similar investment. Both companies plan to attack BT in its heartland of wired telephony too, offering Voice over IP services through bundles with entertainment services and broadband internet. C&W said it would spend up to £100m ($180m) on the plan. It took over Bulldog just a few months ago paying over £18m ($32.4m). Bulldog was only operating around London offering 4 Mbps and fast broadband lines to those close enough to the public switch to achieve this using plain old ADSL, roughly 2 kilometers. C&W also talked about supplying broadband for businesses, and offering television services to residential customers with the aim of creating a £250m ($450m) business within four years. The trigger for the company to buy Bulldog was the decision made with BT’s agreement by regulator Ofcom, to cut BT’s attachment and lease charges to unbundled players for its last mile lines. The deal was done in a trade off whereby BT was allowed a free hand in pricing IP Stream, is range of very high speed internet lines. It is often these lines that act as backhaul for the broadband lines. Until that decision there really were about 8 unbundlers in the UK and most of them were on the borderline in terms of making any money. This was because of BT dragging it heels to co-operate under previous guidelines and the regulator (before Ofcom) doing little about it. Ofcom was formed last year out of five previous regulatory bodies, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, the Office of Telecommunications, the Radio Communications Agency and the Radio Authority, plus some other organizations, merged into one. One of its key focuses has been to stimulate competition in broadband and promote its use. If other regulatory bodies such as the FCC were allowed the same kind of power in the US, then incumbent Telcos the world over would have to accommodate far more competition than they do presently. The end result has been a drop of 70 per cent (in two steps) to the price of broadband access to the last mile from BT to the unbundlers, which is now in line with the pricing for other European countries. Bulldog announced just a week ago that it was entering the phone business over broadband, pricing a 4 Mbps internet service, plus unlimited telephony at £52 ($93) a month. Bulldog offers various bundles, including one for a home office and some that cap the price of calls to mobile phones. Although this remains more expensive than the US, it is cheap for a UK bundle at this point in time. But with Bulldog, C&W, PCCW and Homechoice about to all enter the triple play market and with most ISPs expecting to offer VoIP, there is set to be a royal price war for basic UK telephony over the next two to three years. At the moment Bulldog is offering no IP TV options, but it is sure to be lining up entertainment services, probably from third parties, as incumbent British Telecom is also known to be. Copyright © 2004, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories NTL joins unbundling bandwagon BT cuts LLU costs Ofcom must answer broadband price hike charges - MP C&W to throw £85m at LLU 'Large number' of ISPs face ruin - UKIF Ofcom reveals prices for LLU
Faultline, 28 Sep 2004

Pregnant mobile user arrested for talking too loudly

A pregnant woman was knocked to the ground, handcuffed and arrested at a Washington DC metro station for the crime of talking too loudly on her mobile phone. The 23-year old woman was on the phone to her fiance when a transport policeman at the station told her to keep her voice down. The woman, Sakinah Aaron, admitted she gave the officer "a little lip". The officer responded by grabbing her arm, forcing her to the ground and kneeling on her back while he handcuffed her hands. She was taken to the police station and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. After four hours in a cell she was released. The police officer says he was "practising good customer service" because the woman was swearing loudly and upsetting other passengers. Aaron insists it was a friendly conversation with her fiance. The story was picked up by the Washington Post which notes other examples of Transit Police exuberance. It points to "the July arrest of a 45-year-old woman for chewing a PayDay candy bar and the 2000 arrest of a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry" as evidence that the police were guilty of over-reacting. But Robert Smith, chairman of the Metro, told the paper that "ranting youth" were an increasing problem on the network and stronger enforcement was needed. More at the Northern Virginia Journal. (Monday's edition). ® Related stories HELLO...I'M ON A PLANE...YES...A PLANE!! Mobiles more dangerous than wild elephants More mobile madness: fines, lashes or jail
John Oates, 28 Sep 2004
fingers pointing at man

IDC ups '04 PC sales forecast

World+dog will buy 176.5m PCs this year, market watcher IDC said yesterday, in the process raising its forecast for this year's annual growth figure from 13.5 per cent to 14.2 per cent. The reason? Businesses are buying more computers again, not only matching the slowdown in consumer PC acquisition but exceeding it. According to IDC, commercial PC buyers will acquire 113.3m PC in 2004, compared to the 63.2m PCs consumers will buy. Those totals represent 15.5 and 11.8 per cent unit growth over 2003's figures. Last year saw PCs shipments rise 11.9 per cent to 154.6m units. That total is split 56.5m to 98.1, consumer to commercial, each growing 13.3 and 11 per cent, respectively, over 2002's numbers. While consumer growth is slowing, commercial growth is accelerating. However, both constituencies will still buy more machines this year than they did in 2003. That trend will continue through 2005, IDC forecasts. Total shipments will grow 10.5 per cent over 2004's 176.5m unit estimate to 195m units. But while consumer growth will decline further, to 8.7 per cent, so too will commercial growth, falling to 11.5 per cent, the researcher estimates. That's not necessarily a cause for concern - the higher growth simply reflects increased acquisition activity over depressed years. In essence, said IDC, the coming slowdown in growth is a sign of the market settling down after the bust and then the boom. The divergence between the booming commercial sector and the slowing consumer arena will be seen most strongly in the US, IDC said, less so in Western Europe as the strong euro drives recovery across the board. But it cautioned: "growth will begin to slow as portables growth cools and year-on-year comparisons become more difficult". In Japan, "slow growth is expected to continue while business spending remains conservative and competition from other products limits consumer demand". ® Related stories Slowing H2 chip sales to hit 2005's growth - report Microsoft sees sluggish PC growth ahead Inventory issues fail to hamper chip biz growth UK PC biz sees best growth for four years AMD to overtake Intel in 2017...
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004

Homechoice wakes up and smells the coffee

Tucked away in London, Homechoice can be considered the grandfather of television over a telco’s telephone line. Back in the early 1990s it created ideas like time shifted viewing, which it called “replay TV” long before anyone had ever heard the word TiVo. Even though after 8 years of offering VoD and IP TV services the company has managed to attract only just over 3,000 customers, by next year it believes it will blossom into a full triple play and begin the long journey out of its London roots to the rest of the UK, and probably a public quotation. The Homechoice service comes from the company Video Networks, funded personally by Chris Larson, said to be one of the Microsoft founders. It started off technology development back in 1992 and began trials in Hull in 1996. When it was launched it sported a CEO that had been the head of J Rothschild’s technology investment arm, and a chairman that had been chairman of Reed International and Capital Radio. It also tried to get a public flotation off the ground back in 1998 after it first began operations, looking to raise £100 million ($180 million) and its ambition has never left it, not even after the broadband revolution swept past it during the past three or four years. People often get it confused with efforts that British Telecom had at the same time (we certainly did) which were also trialing back in the early 1990s, but it turns out that the only thing they had in common were the phone lines and the same brand of customer premises equipment (CPE) and BT’s DSLAMs, both supplied by Alcatel. Alcatel has long since left the CPE business and Homechoice no longer uses the British Telecom supplied DSLAMs, but its own DSLAMs now come from Alcatel. An innocuous order with Alcatel, announced exactly one year ago for $16.6m for DSLAMS, first alerted us to the fact that the sleepy Homechoice network was waking up, and talking to new CEO Roger Lynch this week we got the inside track Two years ago the company had a rethink and began preparing a relaunch. Larson put another round of funding into the company, brought Lynch on board. The unbundling decision has proved inspired, with an agreement between telco incumbent British Telecom and its Ofcom regulator that BT will slash prices for connection and rental of unbundled lines by up to 70 per cent over two years, putting a huge amount of margin into the Homechoice existing business. It will also stimulate investment into the unbundling sector and days after the new pricing was announced Bulldog Communications, an unbundler offering high speed internet lines, was sold on the back of the improved margin to Cable and Wireless. “Our network now can reach 1.25 million people in London through 73 telephone exchanges in the London area,” says Lynch. “We have plans to go further afield, and a second phase taking us to 140 exchanges is going ahead.” Advertising blitz Anyone based in the target areas of London cannot have missed the massive advertising campaign that has been conducted through poster, TV and transport advertising costing millions. “It might look like we’ve spent a lot on advertising,” says Lynch, “but that’s just because you’ve been in the targeted area which we are trying to saturate.” In answer to the $64,000 question, so are they signing up? Lynch says, “We wouldn’t be putting in another 70 exchanges if we weren’t seeing the kind of uptake that we needed to turn a profit.” Homechoice is understood to be aiming for 25,000 sign ups by the end of 2004 with a future break even point of around 100,000 customers. Lynch is delighted this week at the news that arch-rival NTL is now adopting ADSL instead of expanding its own cable network further. “They say they are trying to reach another 2 million homes and that ADSL is the cheapest way to go,” he says laughing. “I know what cable costs,” he adds, “I spent years working on the continent with Chello Broadband,” (now owned by UGC International part of Liberty Media). “At Homechoice we use our own servers and we make our own CPE,” boasts Lynch, but this is a bit disingenuous. The original media servers for Homechoice were always on Digital Equipment Alpha risc servers, and are probably on some other similar Hewlett-Packard server (they bought Compaq who bought Digital Equipment), perhaps even still the Alpha (the architecture is still supported, just). The new CPE that Homechoice has come up with is based on the Texas Instruments AR7 chip, a DSP based chip that can be software downloaded to switch between a ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ and other ADSL variants. “We are using basic ADSL right now,” confesses Lynch, and will move to ADSL2+ some time next year. We haven’t decided exactly when yet because there are some migration issues and a critical choice of line cards to be made.” That line card choice certainly is critical, because Video Networks will rely on it to take the Homechoice service into a fully functioning triple play. Cards on the table Lynch wants to offer phone services and will begin later this year using simple “carrier pre-select” technology, which is the basis for discount telephony in the UK, opting to jump to the nearest entry point for a particular wholesale carrier. “We’re doing that because we want to be offering primary telephone lines, not secondary. Voice over IP can be used as a primary line, and it will be, but we need to select a line card that can support both ADSL2+ and offer VoIP, while still powering the line from the DSLAM.” Most VoIP services go dead once power is off in a household, something that has stopped them being used for primary phone services, with regulators worried about emergency calls. The PSTN has its own power supply and VoIP suppliers try to get around the problem with local miniature UPS, but Lynch is waiting for a line card that powers up on its own. “We’ll have that next year and that’s when we can jump to ADSL2+,” explains Lynch. At the moment Homechoice offers around 4.5 megabits per second which restricts its customers to being within 2 kilometers of the public switch. That 4.5 Mbps is taken up with either 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps broadband line for high speed internet access, and the rest is used for TV services, offering a single channel at a time from a choice of 60 channels, 1,000 films on pay as you go VoD, and most TV series free on VoD, all for around £27 ($48) a month. It has recently signed the BSkyB sport and film channels which have to be bought extra. Prior to the BSkyB deal customers were prone to taking the Homechoice service alongside BSkyB or NTL, but with the new BSkyB deal it can be a home’s only TV service, saving the entire cost of NTL and putting pressure on cable TV suppliers. Extended reach Homechoice is also almost ready to step up its codec to H.264 MPEG 4, from MPEG 2. “When we first started in this business it took about 6.5 Mbps to give a picture of a particular picture quality. Currently we are getting that same quality with under 2 Mbps, because the codecs have improved. “We expect the same thing to happen with H.264. Initially it won’t give us too much improvement, but it will gradually get better and cut the bandwidth required for the service,” he says. Both the use of ADSL2+ and H.264 will mean that Homechoice can extend its reach. ADSL2+ uses a 2.2 megahertz signal which attenuates faster than the 1.1 megahertz ADSL signal, but carries far more data. The net result is that Homechoice will be able to service people up to 4 kilometers from a public switch at its current speeds, and if it can use less bandwidth it can go even further afield, or more likely offer two tuner services (one to view and one to record) over the same capacity and offer DVR services in its CPE. It could also enter the TV film downloading market, and when asked if he’s considered this Lynch mere says, “Yes, that’s a possibility.” Film downloads can be sent over far greater distances than streamed content, potentially form the other side of the world, and because Homechoice has full UK rights to most of its content, it could offer a download service off the same servers at no extra cost, with a retail piece of CPE, extending its business model. If it adds voice at the same time as it jumps to ADSL2+ and H.264, Homechoice should comfortably be able to double its revenue for the same amount of installed infrastructure, except for the addition of more servers. At the moment Homechoice uses just three big mega servers and fast lines connecting them to the respective DSLAMs. It will have to invest in a bigger server network to support the 70 new DSLAMs anyway. Lynch analogizes his service to the well documented Fastweb service from e-Biscom in Italy and to Iliad in France, and says as such Video Networks should be able to have access to public funding in an IPO, if it so chooses. But already Video Networks is on the lookout for further funding, and is said to have appointed the same bank that managed the sale of Bulldog, to raise between £70m and £80m in new equity by the end of this year. Copyright © 2004, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories
Faultline, 28 Sep 2004

Microsoft ends free Hotmail access from Outlook

Hotmail users who use Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express clients will now have to pay for the privilege. Users must sign up to either a Hotmail Plus account for $19.95 a year or an MSN Premium account, at $99.95 a year to continue accessing the service from their desktop client. Microsoft cited abuse by spammers as the reason. Because its email clients are scriptable, Microsoft had been grappling with spammers who automated the sign-up and bulk sending processes. Rivals such as Yahoo! also charge a premium for POP3 access to their email services. This being Microsoft, things aren't straightforward. Just as Outlook uses common email protocols and obfuscates them in dense wrappings of RPC (Remote Procedure Calls), Hotmail shuns POP3 for a Microsoft implementation of WebDAV, a much richer web publishing protocol for which email is just one application. So, apart from a few clever hacks, client access to Hotmail has been limited to Microsoft email clients. Ximian's Connector software scrapes Exchange Server's WebDAV interface to provide Office interoperability for its Linux desktop, so it's theoretically possible that third party email clients will take up the onerous challenge. It's just very unlikely that they'll see much reward in the task.® Related stories MSN hikes Hotmail storage Hotmail bins email accounts on hearsay Hotmail spam plan grand slam MS opens Hotmail to bulk mailers Hotmail back online Microsoft meets real world half-way MSN email spoofer pleads guilty to wire fraud Hotmail caps email Hotmail, Yahoo! erect roadblocks for spam sign-ons Junk mail evades Hotmail filter MS addresses Hotmail spam blizzard. At last
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Sep 2004

Stinky socks get nanotech makeover

Consumers will soon see the benefits of nanotech research, as a Pennsylvania-based company plans to use the technology to create socks that resist l'odour du fromage. NanoHorizons has developed a technique for manufacturing nanoparticles (defined as particles smaller than 100nm) of gold and silver. Both metals are already incorporated into materials because of their antibacterial properties, but the manufacturing process is far from simple. Metals can be mixed into a polymer in their macro form, but this uses a lot of metal which adds cost, weight, and can even change the properties of the material. Using nanoscale particles of the metals has several advantages, not least that because of their smaller size, a greater surface area is exposed with a smaller quantity of the metal. Dr Stephen Fonash, NanoHorizons chairman, said that while "silver has been used since antiquity for its antimicrobial properties, these are the first commercially available noble metal nanoparticles engineered for use in plastic-based products, making them economically viable for innumerable products and applications". He explained that the particles are terminated with specific surface chemistries and delivered in organic solvents. This makes them compatible with the polymer manufacturing process. The particles could be incorporated into a wide range of products, as well as socks, including other clothing, shoes, food containers and other plastic products. According to CNET, the company is already working with a sock manufacturer, and expects the products will be on the shelves within a year. ® Related stories Scientists send Buckyballs to detox UK gov awards £1m to bio-terror detector firm Nanotech aids green hydrogen production
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2004

Labour fingered for cyber 'dirty tricks campaign'

The Labour Party has been accused of being behind a "desperate dirty tricks campaign" after it registered three domains bearing the name of Tory leader Michael Howard. The Tories accusd Labour of being "cyber-hypocrites since cybersquatting is against Government rules. The domains in question - including www.michaelhowardmp.org, www.michaelhowardmp.net and www.michaelhowardmp.org.uk - are all registered to "The Labour Party" based in Westminster, London. The Tory leader's official website is Michaelhowardmp.com. Said Michael Fabricant, Shadow Minister for Industry and Technology: "I do not believe the Labour Party have registered these websites in Mr Howard's name in order to sell them back to him. That would be bad enough. I believe the plan was to launch a dirty tricks campaign. How desperate have they now become? "By having three websites compared to the genuine one, search engines like Google, would be far more likely to hit on the fake website rather than the genuine one. What was the Labour Party going to put onto the website?" The MP for Lichfield added that the "cyber-squatting" was also in direct contravention of Government policy. "It exposes Labour as cyber-hypocrites," he said. A spokesman for the Lapour Party said it did own the URLs which were to be used to "highlight Mr Howard's record in Government". ® Related stories Emergency advice parody misses Gov UK funny bone People must come first in e-government UK gov computer misuse is 'rife' Blair reveals some games 'unsuitable' for kids
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 2004

Learn how to Integrate Cisco and UNIX Network Architectures

Site offerSite offer UNIX gateways introduce massive performance possibilities at a fraction of the price of dedicated proprietary appliances by performing network tasks entirely in software. With Cisco Systems routers dominating the Internet and enterprise networking, and UNIX routing and gateway solutions spreading from within server farms and data centers, new opportunities and possibilities arise for system and network administrators who understand the benefit of integrated designs. For example, the use of UNIX gateways can enable intrusion detection, firewalling, cable and DSL access, terminal servers and access concentrators, VPNs, roaming user support, and other LAN and WAN services. Far from being mutually exclusive, Cisco devices, UNIX operating systems, and open source applications can enjoy a peaceful, perhaps even inevitable, coexistence for years to come. Integrated Cisco and UNIX Network Architectures shows how Cisco routers, switches, and firewalls seamlessly work together with UNIX operating systems in an integrated networking and security environment. Integrated Cisco and UNIX Network Architectures reveals not just the feasibility but also the desirability of Cisco/UNIX integrated routing with regard to systems integration, interoperability, and feature requirements. If you want to master and maximize the operation of your UNIX and Cisco network architectures, this book shows you how, and at just £30.09, Register readers can save £12.90 on the RRP. Thousands more great titles all discounted by 30 per cent at the Reg Bookshop. Order now for free delivery for all orders to the UK and Europe C++ Without Fear - RRP £19.99 - Reg price - £13.99 An experienced and highly regarded programming author makes C++ easy to learn--and fun--for complete novices. Patterns for Parallel Programming - RRP £37.99 - Reg price - £26.59 The Parallel Programming Guide for Every Software Developer Home Networking - RRP £19.50 - Reg price - £13.65 Get the information you need to set up and secure your home network -- nothing more, nothing less Routing First-Step - RRP £23.50 - Reg price - £16.45 Learn about routing, routing protocols, and the challenges of network operation Robust Java - RRP £39.99 - Reg price - £27.99 THE one-stop resource to exception handling for effective Java development Effective Enterprise Java - RRP £34.99 - Reg price - £24.49 A panoramic view: covers the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of J2EE application development Breaking Through the BIOS Barrier - RRP £23.99 - Reg price - £16.79 Extend the useful life of a PC and reduce overall cost of ownership by just simply upgrading your BIOS Microsoft Office Access 2003 in a Snap - RRP £17.99 - Reg price - £12.59 This book presents each Access task, complete with illustrated steps and tips to maximize efficiency. Hibernate In Action - RRP £40.50 - Reg price - £28.35 Using a single, continuing example, learn how to use Hibernate in practice, how to deal with concurrency and transactions, how to efficiently retrieve objects and use caching. Way of the Samurai 2™ Official Strategy Guide - RRP £9.99 - Reg price - £6.99 BradyGames' Way of the Samurai 2 Official Strategy Guide provides a comprehensive walkthrough for each possible story path. Service Strategy - RRP £34.99 - Reg price - £24.49 Learn from the "dos" and "don'ts" - mistakes made over and over again by many companies. Solution-Focused Coaching - RRP £16.99 - Reg price - £11.89 This book will equip the reader with usable, effective, proven techniques for improving, communication, collaboration and co-operation at work. The Definitive Guide to Project Management - RRP £21.99 - Reg price - £13.99 Show you, step by step, how to deliver the right projects in the right way at the right time, while keeping your life in balance. To browse or buy the other great discounted titles available to Reg readers, simply click on any of the links below: The Reg Bestsellers Last week at The Reg Great new releases This weeks book bag
Team Register, 28 Sep 2004

Michael Stipe demands ringtones for electric cars

REM frontman Michael Stipe has taken a refreshing break from the time-honoured rock star pastime of pontificating on world hunger and political injustice to address a far more pressing matter - how to avoid getting run over by electric cars. Stipe's solution to this perambulatory nightmare is as brilliant as it is simple: said vehicles must play ringtones to warn pedestrians of their approach. Stipes enthuses to Time Out: "It will blow the music business wide open! Everyone will love it. In the country they'll be able to play whatever they want; in Vegas it will have to be classical. Or reggae. Or bluegrass. Could you imagine?" Yes we can, Michael. The idea came to Stipe when he nearly got totalled by a battery-powered vehicle in Los Angeles. He then experienced a blinding moment of clarity in which "I suddenly thought to myself: 'This is going to be a big, big problem. People will be run over by electric cars all the time. They make no noise. No sound. They're silent!" Stipe quickly rejected the idea that electric jalopies should mimic the sound of a petrol-driven engine on the grounds that it would be "stupid". "And then it struck me - ringtones," he says. "People will program their car, as part of the insurance policy that states: 'Don't run people over with your silent car', with ringtones." Stipe's opinion on the effect of DRM on insurance prices is not noted. Neither has he considered a cheaper and simpler alternative which uses existing technology - simply giving it some on the horn, cranking up the car radio to full blast, leaning out of the window and shouting: "Get out of my effing way you bald-headed prat!" ® Related stories Boffin hits it big with breast-enlarging ringtone Ringtone royalties top $71m No cool ringtone, no style, says survey
Lester Haines, 28 Sep 2004

Infinium Phantom delayed

Infinium Labs has put back the release of its PC-based games console and accompanying broadband content delivery service. The move was made at the behest of the company's "marketing and retail partners", who say the original 18 November launch date won't favour the products. You'd have thought that entering the US market in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas would be ideal, but no, Infinium's partners reckon a post-holiday launch, when potential customers will be buying for themselves rather than others, makes more sense, GamesIndustry.biz reports. Infinium announced the November date for the Phantom consoles and Game Service last May. Clearly, Infinium and said partners believed that a holiday launch was the best approach then. It's unlikely that the target audience has changed much, so what else may have changed? For starters, Infinium is adamant that it's having no problems developing either the console or service. More likely, then, it's simply being squeezed out by the imminent arrival of the Nintendo DS targeting mobile gamers, the redesigned, Ethernet-enabled PlayStation 2 being pitched at home-bound players, and Halo 2 giving the Xbox a similar kick. ® Related stories Infinium to launch $199 Athlon XP console 18 Nov To Infinium and beyond: Kevin Bachus talks Phantom Ex-Infinium exec sues company... Infinium Labs countersues HardOCP HardOCP takes big stick to Infinium Infinium Labs gets litigious with HardOCP Infinium Labs names key executives
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004

NTL takes control of Virgin.net

Virgin.net is now fully under the control of NTL after the cableco snapped up the remaining 51 per cent of its joint venture ISP. Financial details were not disclosed. NTL and Virgin hooked up in 1996 to form the JV, which now has some 590,000 customers. Now, the cableco has complete ownership of Virgin.net but intends to carry on using the Virgin brand. NTL chief exec Simon Duffy, said: "This is a very good acquisition for NTL. Virgin.net has a strong presence in the internet arena, underpinned by a powerful brand name and an outstanding team. I welcome them to NTL and look forward to their participation in the business. "I am confident Virgin.net will accelerate our growth by giving us access to new market segments, thereby complementing our strategy of extending our network through local loop unbundling." Last week NTL announced plans to invest £65m on installing its kit in BT exchanges to provide telecoms services direct to customers. The "last mile" investment is expected to take two years to complete with NTL believing that it is cheaper to invest in local loop unbundling (LLU) than physically rolling out cable to extend its own network. Also last week, Virgin unveiled a new ADSL package called "Plan Two", which offers a 512k broadband service for £17.99 a month with no 12 month contract and a three gig cap. ® Related stories NTL customers told to 'f**k off' Virgin.net unveils 'Plan Two' broadband offer NTL joins unbundling bandwagon
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 2004

Reg Readers hail NTL abusive message

LettersLetters An old skool-style hack caught all our attention this week: poor old NTL woke up on Monday to the news that someone had recorded over their standard customer service message with a less polite alternative. The message asked callers to "f**k off and leave us alone". A novel and interesting approach to customer relations that should be nurtured and encouraged, you said: Great!! Maybe this will inspire a rash of honest answerphone messages. Like those competitions on telly that are so obvious that if you were born yesterday you'd know the answer to ("What Letter follows next in this sequence A, B...? a) C, b)Jack Lemmon c)A Cruiseliner") could greet you with: "Thanks for lining our pockets by dialling a premium rate number, there's a chance you MAY win but you're more likely to just die sad and alone and penniless". Steven Hi, I think this could be the first sighting in the wild of a truth virus. Tom I feel I have to point out that people have got the wrong end of the stick on this. The telephone message was not a hoax at all but the real thing. NTL are merely articulating the message that they have been giving their customers for years. I look forward to BT jumping on the bandwagon and updating their customer service helpline message along the same line. Grahame I don't understand why people are so upset about this message. Surely in this age of denial and spin NTL should be commended for actually telling the truth? -James Next, a company called Jeftel stuck its head over the parapet and claimed to have a solution to the problem of spam email. Really, it should have known better: Robert Barr needs to take off those rose-tinted glasses and listen to Matt Sergeant. I'll take the politeness and gladly shove it. How is a proprietary system the HOLY GRAIL? Let's all go out and buy this wonderful new product, and let those pratts that fall for this marketing twaddle chat via their email in private whilst the rest of the human race passes them by. Good grief! Dave So this Jeftel system lets you send email directly from machine to machine, rather than through public servers? So how will my machine know where to send an email to? Hmm..it'll probably need to ask a server, most likely owned by Jeftel. So this new, revolutionary, secure email system will work by routing all email through servers owned by one company, instead of letting any old riffraff run their own SMTP server? You've got to wonder why it took someone so long to think THAT one up. Tom Isn't this what we already have with a Linux/Unix host running the usual stuff that comes with it, and having a DNS record of its own? Even from the Windows mailserver we have here, using the british program from paul Smith - VPOP3 - much of our outgoing mail goes by SMTP-Direct - the MX record is looked up and the mail pushed straight to the advertised mail server for the recipient usually in my case the server in their building or their workstation. What is it that is new, and why if the £25 is for convenience have they followed Microsoft et al in taking something well-known and making a secret version of it? Pity. Adrian I was going to give them the benefit of doubt, but the major flaw is this: They don't provide source code or specifications of any kind. How can we possibly trust them to: Not be spyware (forward our emails to them, etc...) Not use flaky encryption algorithms Not use a completely flawed protocol Their website lacks essential details, that would be needed to convince anybody vaguely interested in security. There are people far more paranoid than me, and there are people who understand a lot more about security than I do. I'm sure Bruce Schneier would have fun with this one... Kind regards, Florian If you have permission addresses, i.e only allow incoming mail from a defined list of addresses, you achieve the same result, without the need for the sender to have additional technology! The case study, MD sending to secretary, hmmmm, they will more the likely be on an internal mail system not using SMTP/Internet mail at all.... Nice idea, good luck to them, but it will probably not work out ...and if it does take off, the virus writers will just write viruses for it! Mike I don't mean to be negative but isn't this just msn messenger without the messenger bit? Another way to look at it is like a postal service which costs more but has no postmen so you have to deliver your own mail! If both parties have to be online at the same time then I don't see how this can possibly work! Nice to see someone thinking about the problems with email but I doubt this is the solution. Cheers Dave Andrew Orlowski went to the In the City convention last week and spoke to music industry bigwigs about digital music, filesharing, DRM etc. We ran a full transcript of his speech. In the intro, our editor suggested that some of those in the audience might actually have listened to him. A likely tale, you said: Dear Reg, Its nice to see the publication of Andrew Orlowski's sensible views on the future of music and file-sharing, and how the two can actually go hand-in-hand towards end-user happiness, and extended corporate greed - a touching speech. Not only does it pacify both music fans, and the record industry, but it gives off a lovely sense of social harmony aswell. Too bad then, that it was published a mere 4 hours after Andrew's own article about John Kennedy, and how he just "can't wait to sue file-sharers". Clearly our friend Mr. Kennedy was keeping an open-minded perspective throughout, advocating the suing of 12 year-olds and grandads and all that. Therefore I'd like to take this opportunity to nominate Mr. Kennedy for the inaugural "Comical Ali award for unfathomable stubornness in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary". Its a little long-winded, I know, and it might be difficult to inscribe on a trophy, but I think it accurately captures the message being directed. I know that I personally cannot wait for the personal area network, and I dearly hope that somebody takes the opportunity to 'bluesnarf' Mr Kennedy on a bus or a street somewhere, possibly donating him some music in the process. Or maybe even some sense! Regards, Martin Lastly, the mobile phones on planes debate refuses to die. Today we have two new submissions; one questioning readers' (and our own) statistical competence, and another responding to a correspondents fears about phones on planes being used in terrorism: Hi there, This is in reply to the mistake basically all people writing in about the cell phones on planes story made: For instance this guy: "The flip side of the research being that over half of the 1200 people questioned would rather travel on planes that didn't allow mobile phones... Stuart" No, that is not the flip side, that's an assumption. The fact that perhaps 40% of the persons asked would PREFER to able to use the cell phone does NOT entail that 60% have a problem with other people using theirs. It CAN mean that they would prefer not to be able to use it themselves, and it CAN mean that they don't really care either way. It makes NO statement whatsoever regarding the number of people who think they'll be annoyed by the increased usage. It is a fairly reasonable guess to say that the people who would prefer not to be able to use a cell phone do so because the usage irritates them, but it's still a guess and of course we don't have any idea about the number of people who'd prefer not to etc. This is fairly obvious and I really don't see why you printed like 8 letters without at least pointing it out. Regards Moritz Well, Moritz, we didn't need to, because we knew that someone would write in and do it for us... What a load of crap. Yes, mobile phones were used but it was the alarm function of the phones that were used. So the mobile phones were basically low-tech timing devices. If you want high-tec devices then contact the Libyans, they do very accurate long delay devices as used by the IRA when they nearly got Maggie in Brighton all those years ago. See this article on the Scotsman. But one more dud - the 14th bomb - went undetected for 12 hours until a mobile-phone alarm sounded amid luggage that had been taken from the bombed trains to a police station. The alarm was rigged to trigger the detonator but the bombers had mistakenly set it for 7:40pm instead of 7:40am, when the other devices exploded on the trains. Checking facts before spouting sh*t is always a good idea. Dave. But Dave! Where's the fun in that? ®
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2004

Terrorists grow fat on email scams

Organisations such as al-Qaeda, ETA en PKK are copying Nigerian scams to fund terrorism, two Dutch experts told Dutch daily De Telegraaf this week. Harald Koppe, head of the Dutch Unusual Transactions Reporting Office (MOT), and Harry Jongbloed of the Dutch criminal investigation department, say there is "strong evidence" from international crime fighting organisations such as the FBI that at least some of the terrorist funding is coming from advanced fee fraud (such as Nigerian-style scam emails) and the sale of pirated software, including CDs and DVDs. Using the internet to raise funds is fairly risk free, experts say. According to an Interpol report prepared for the US House Committee on International Relations earlier this year, intellectual property crimes are indeed a growing resource for terrorist groups from Northern Ireland to the Arab world, including al-Qaeda and Hizbullah. Last year Interpol already called for a global crackdown on software and music piracy. A couple of months ago the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said it had evidence that illegal CD plants in Pakistan were financed by international terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, although some people have downplayed these claims as blatant propaganda. But what about Nigerian scams? Could these seriously be a source of funding for terrorism? Or are terrorists merely copying their tactics? To date, solid evidence for such claims hasn’t been presented publicly. In fact, the supposed link between Nigerian scammers and terrorists is still a matter of debate among experts. Some believe the cultural background of the perpetrators makes terrorism funding highly improbable. Others, such as Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of the book Funding Evil, say that as 50 per cent of the Nigerian population is Muslim, there is an ideological affiliation with some terrorist organisations. Hmm. A recent survey found that the proportion of Nigerian Muslims who view the United States favorably fell from more than 70 per cent to less than 40 per cent last year. Ehrenfeld stresses that in many cases the collaboration is just financially motivated. "People who buy fake Gucci bags and Swiss watches sold by Nigerians on the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan contribute to terrorism," she claims. The Dutch Unusual Transactions Reporting Office (MOT) believes there are some disturbing trends. Suspicious money transfers emanating from the European countries these days can often be linked to West African criminal networks, MOT concludes in its annual report. There also appear to be connections with the drugs trade. Under the code name "Hyena", the Dutch criminal investigation department managed to freeze a total of €1m in bank accounts linked to Nigerian scams in the past couple of months, but it admits it is still only a very small part. ® Related stories Al-Qaeda computer geek nearly overthrew US Al-Qaeda cyber terrorist panics US 'Electronic Jihad' fails to materialise Terrorism at all-time low, US gov says Warning: virus terrorism stories may contain nuts
Jan Libbenga, 28 Sep 2004

ATI readies 'Radeon Xpress' Athlon 64 chipset

ATI will ship its first PCI Express chipsets next month, initially targeting AMD processors, followed by Intel-oriented versions in November. And the new chipsets will ship under a new brand, Radeon Xpress. So claims Anandtech, citing no sources so presumably basing its commentary on a peak or two at the graphics chip company's roadmaps. The report matches what an ATI official let slip a few weeks ago. First out will be the Radeon Xpress 200G and 200P, both due to appear in October 2004, and better known as the RS480 and RX480, respectively. The 200G incorporates an RV370 graphics core - the same core that's behind the Radeon X600 and X300 - while the 200P offers no integrated graphics, as expected. AMD-based PC vendors and their customers are apparently much keener on add-in graphics cards than their Intel equivalents, so ATI's decision makes sense. Both parts will support a range of HyperTransport bus speeds, to ensure compatibility with a variety of Opteron/Athlon 64/Sempron processors. ATI will follow these two chips with the RS482 in April 2005, a Radeon Express 200G variant that adds component video output. A separate South Bridge update is noted for February 2005, which updates the original's AC 97 audio to Intel High-Definition Audio. Whether it will be added then, or when the RS482 ships, isn't yet clear. The Radeon Xpress chipsets for Intel processors will appear in November, again with RV370 graphics cores, but with a choice of single- or dual-channel DDR 2 SDRAM support. The two versions are codenamed RC400 and RS400, respectively, Anandtech claims, though both will ship as the Radeon Xpress 200G - presumably ATI will differentiate the Intel parts from each other and the AMD-oriented 200G in due course. The dual-channel part offers component video out. The RC400 will be updated to the RC410 in April 2005, when the chipset is remade using a 110nm process. Further off, we see parts codenamed 'Kaleidoscope', but since details are scarce and the release date is more than a year away (Q1 2006), speculation is redundant. Likely, it's a version pitched specifically at 'Longhorn', the next major Windows release, due sometime in 2006. But since Microsoft appears to be reconsidering the roll-out of a new compositing engine and the UI that's based upon it - both of which would require a DirectX 9-standard graphics engine - ATI's plans may change. ® Related stories ATI to unveil Athlon 64 PCIE chipsets 'this month' Athlon 64 PCI-E chipset here by end of year 'for sure' ATI unveils mid-range Radeon X700 ATI syncs audio, video with Theater 550 chip ATI 'to ship R420 as Radeon X800' ATI HyperMemory revives little-used AGP 2x feature ATI unwraps All-in-Wonder X800 XT Avalon faces axe as Microsoft dismembers Longhorn Related reviews ATI Radeon X700 XT ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004

Boffins boost DVD capacity tenfold

Scientists working at London's Imperial College have come up with a way of radically increasing the storage capacity of optical discs. The technique is called 'Multiplexed Optical Data Storage' and essentially allows each pit in the disc's reflective data layer to store multiple values instead of just one. The pits and peaks in today's DVDs and CDs encode a single 1 or 0. Light from a laser is reflected back on to a detector as the disc spins, generating a stream of 1s and 0s. The base of each pit is essentially flat, but MODS pit-bases contain many faces, at an angle to each other, effectively harnessing the not-quite-flat nature of the pit's base. Angling the laser differently can reflect up to ten different data streams off each of these pit-bottom faces. The upshot is a disc that can theoretically hold a hundred times the data than a current DVD can, though in practice the results yield a lower increase - from 4.7GB to around 250GB. Boost the number of layers within each disc, and the capacity grows even further. Imperial College's Dr Peter Torok detailed the technique at the Asia-Pacific Data Storage Conference 2004, held in Taiwan last week. While the idea was conceived some years ago, only now has Torok and his team been able to calculate precisely the properties of the reflected light, in order to determine how much of it can be used to carry the digital signal. That said, the team estimate that it could take five more years to perfect the technique in the lab, with further work then needed to commercialise MODS. ® Related stories FalconStor wants to WORM your disk arrays Blu-ray group mandates Microsoft codec for BD-ROM DualDisc roll out challenged by Euro patent holder Forum approves Apple music format for DVD Audio Blu-ray founders rename, open group to new members
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004

Orange network wobbles after planned upgrade

Orange has blamed a "minor fault" during a "planned upgrade to [its] network" last night for punters being unable to use the service this morning. A number of readers contacted us this morning complaining that they were unable to make or receive calls using their Orange phones. The scale of the glitch is not known but is thought to have affected one in 20 calls made this morning. A spokesman for Orange said: "We confirm that unfortunately, a small number of Orange customers experienced difficulties when making or receiving calls on the Orange network between 8am and 10.30am today. This was due to a minor fault that occurred during a planned upgrade to the network. Engineers have now rectified the fault and normal service has been restored." Orange "very much regrets any inconvenience", said a spokesman. However, a number of readers have contacted The Register about Orange's claim that the "minor fault" has been resolved. One told us: "I'm surprised to hear that the fault was fixed at 10.30 this morning, as I seem no more able to make a phone call now on my mobile than I was then." Another said: "Orange is our business mobile supplier and none of our people had network this morning. It was not the case that some calls were not connected, there just wasn't service full stop. "When I called Orange customer service I was told (by a very polite and apologetic young lady) that the majority of the UK network was down, they didn't know why, were working hard to sort it out but couldn't estimate when service would return." ® Related stories Orange admits crossed line fault with Vodafone Crossed lines leaves Orange punters seeing red MP fingers O2 in overcharging rumpus
Tim Richardson, 28 Sep 2004

Xonix 256MB MP3 Watch

ReviewReview While an MP3 watch may seem like an obvious development in the wearable device market, examples to reach the UK's shores have been few, and far, between, writes Dan Leonard. The Xonix 128MB MP3 Player Watch is one of these first MP3 Player watches to arrive. The watch itself is analogue-style, with a range of flashing indicator lights, side buttons and a sporty strap. Unfortunately, the look is garish and the build quality dire. The plastic strap is uncomfortable, and thanks to the USB plugs hanging from it, as ugly as the face of the watch itself. "With 256MB of memory, a graphic equalizer and 3D Stereo sound" - as the blurb puts it - one might be foolish to think the Xonix MP3 watch would be the perfect way to combine purpose and enjoy music on the move. One would be surely - and thanks to the strap sorely - mistaken. Although the headphones were missing from our review model, accompanying literature assures us they are comfortable to wear and have an extra-long lead. With an alternative set, we hit problems. Running the lead up one's sleeve works well enough (the schoolboy's favourite), but without such cover, the chances of snagging oneself on passing cyclists, commuters, hedges (delete as appropriate) are massively increased. The controls may be a little confusing, but the buttons are clearly marked (perhaps too clearly to be stylish) and the back of the watch has a helpful navigation menu guide. Unfortunately, this can't be seen when the watch is worn. The good news is that one Flash device is much the same as another. As such, the Xonix MP3 watch ticks the usual boxes on the functionality front: 256MB storage, file storage and voice recording. In fact, Xonix offer your choice of branding, so expect to see various grey import versions of this product. The Xonix comes with a mains charger, installation CD and a USB cable to bridge the gap between the strap plug and your computer. Verdict At least it works on Mac OS X and 9, as well as Windows (98/Me/XP), but for best results, stick to MP3 and WMA - it didn't take too well to iTunes or more varied file formats. There's a separate battery for the watch, so even when the MP3 is flat, you will still be able to tell the time. Awkward to wear, awkward to use, but despite the naff look and feel, it doesn't sound too bad. ® Xonix 256Mb MP3 Player Watch   Rating 40%   Pros — Average sound, storage and voice recording   Cons — Ugly, impractical, uncomfortable   Price £129   More info The Xonix site Visit The Reg's Review Channel for more hardware coverage.
Pocket Lint, 28 Sep 2004

Microsoft offers cut-price cut-down Windows to Russians

Microsoft will start selling its cut-price, cut-down version of Windows in Russia from early next year. Windows XP Starter Edition goes on sale in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand next month. According to the Business Software Alliance, 89 per cent of Russian software is pirated, compared to a worldwide average of 39 per cent. Windows XP Starter Edition is aimed at the first-time user. It is pre-configured and has improved help functions with a more detailed Getting Started section. The firewall is switched on and the software includes country-specific pictures and screensavers. The software is only available on an OEM basis to PC manufacturers - so Russian punters will have to buy a new PC to get the benefits . A fifth market for cut-downs will be announced in a few weeks. There is more info here on the Microsoft website. ® Related stories MS has Media Player - less Windows, just in case... MS tweaks volume licensing Windows pricing begins to buckle
John Oates, 28 Sep 2004
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UK firm fined £30K for dodgy software

The Business Software Alliance has extracted £30,000 from Nationwide Accident Repairs Services Plc in an out of court settlement over the firm's lack of correct software licenses. The BSA received an anonymous tip-off via its website before starting the investigation. The firm was actually carrying out an audit when the investigation began. Nationwide was "quick to realise its responsibility and gave BSA its full co-operation during the investigation". Siobhan Carroll, regional manager at BSA, said if companies should ask the BSA for help if they have trouble ensuring compliance: "If a company puts its hands up to the BSA and admits there are problems with their licences or with their software then they are effectively protecting themselves from blame and they are protecting themselves from us investigating their software licensing at a later date." She added that the BSA has guides and online tools to help organisations properly audit their software. ® Related stories German lawyer arrested in piracy crackdown UK's youth boards pirate ship to bootleg island 57 cuffed in UK anti-piracy crackdown
John Oates, 28 Sep 2004

10.48pm is best time to pull women: official

The whole of the UK has apparently been abuzz this week about AQA - the "any question answered" SMS service which delivers solutions to complex queries straight to your mobe. Yup, for a quid a pop you too can put your mind to rest about such matters as "Whats better for me - a banana or a bowl of broccoli?" or "What is an intermediate vector boson and how much does it weigh?"* But it's not these posers which alerted the Brit media to AQA - it's the fact that the service has identified a significant spike in sex-related questions at 10.48pm. Messages received include "Am I looking hot 2night?" and "Am I going to have sex with the bird next to me?", to which the answers are "Mate you're more than hot. You're sizzling. You're so hot you may well be the cause of global warming" and "If you are confident, friendly and polite you will be able to charm anyone, even the girl next to you", respectively. The 10.48pm peak is hardly news, however, as any self-respecting Brit knows. With a mere twelve minutes left to get the vodka and Red Bulls in, and beer goggles firmly on, the desperate lone male will do pretty well anything to score - including, it seems, asking a txt Q&A service about the best way to get his rocks off. Still, the TV and tabloids love it and it's all cash in the bank for AQA. But one question remains: can AQA deliver responses to real, mission-critical queries? When El Reg first reported on the service back in April, Andrew Orlowski asked: "Let us know how it shapes up. If it does, pub quizzes and school exams may never be the same again." Accordingly, we decided to pitch AQA a quickie. Resisting the temptation to ask "What's the best brothel within a ten-minute walk of All Bar One and can I pay by credit card?" we opted for the pretty straightforward: "What's the best UK IT news site?" No more than two minutes later came the reply: "Depending on what area of IT you are interested in, the best UK IT website could be one of quite a few..." Yes, yes, we gasped, scrolling frantically down the screen. "...Try www.compinfo.co.uk and www.eweek.com" With which this plug for AQA is terminated. ® Bootnote *The answers given were: "Broccoli is said to have the highest nutritional value of any food, with as much calcium per unit weight as milk, and plenty of vitamins and fibre", and "Intermediate vector bosons are the quantum exchange particles of the weak nuclear interaction, one of 4 fundamental forces of nature. Two types, W , charge (+/-), mass=80.4 Giga electron Volts, and Z , Charge (0), Mass=91.2GeV." Any corrections to these should be directed to AQA. Related stories Former Symbian, Psion boss answers all your questions Mobile porn is a 'time bomb' Forget dogging, here comes toothing RU lonesum tonite?
Lester Haines, 28 Sep 2004

Amazon, Microsoft set legal dogs on phishers, spammers

Amazon and Microsoft have launched a new anti-spam offensive - filing several lawsuits against organisations they allege have spoofed the Amazon.com domain name in spamming and phishing operations. "Since August 2003, Amazon.com has received tens of thousands of emails from customers, alerting us to potentially fraudulent email activity," said David Zapolsky, vice president and associate general counsel for Amazon.com. "We are going to continue our efforts to protect customers from these schemes and will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extents of the law." The Seattle-area companies filed a joint federal suit against Gold Disk Canada, alleging that the company is responsible for sending "millions of deceptive emails". Barry Head and his two sons are also named in the suit, filed in the US District Court in Seattle, accused of carrying out illegal spamming campaigns that misused Hotmail, and also spoofed the Amazon.com domain. Separately, Amazon has filed three lawsuits in the King County Superior Court in Seattle, alleging that the unidentified defendants went phishing with the aim of defrauding Amazon.com customers. Microsoft has also filed a suit on its own account: it alleges that Leonid Radvinsky spammed hotmail.com users with deceptive messages, some of which purported to be from Amazon.com accounts. None of those named in the suits is on Spamhaus' Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO.) ROKSO is a list of 200 organisations around the world thought to be responsible for 90 per cent of the spam that clogs our inboxes. An organisation has to have been cut off by three consecutive ISPs for serious spam offecses to qualify for the dubious honour of inclusion. The companies say the legal action should be a wake-up call for spammers. Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, noted: "The industry is teaming up, pooling resources and sharing investigative information to put [the spammers] out of business." ® Related stories HFC bank loses its marbles over customer CC details MS fires armour-piercing suit at 'bullet-proof' spam host Spammer prosecutions waste time and money
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2004

Sony Vaio Pocket VGF-AP1L digital music player

Reg reviewReg review You have to hand it to Sony. Having allowed Apple's iPod to take the lead in the hard drive-based portable digital music player market, the Japanese consumer electronics giant is battling hard to win it back. It's not pinning its hopes to one product but several. August saw the release of the NW-HD1 Network Walkman, and in October Sony will ship the Vaio-branded 20GB VGF-AP1. The Register took a look at a pre-production 40GB model, the VGF-AP1L.
Tony Smith, 28 Sep 2004
hands waving dollar bills in the air

GE Access changes name

General Electric's marketing bods have left no stone unturned in their search for "a new branding architecture". The upshot so far as GE Access, its Sun Micro distribution business, is concerned is a tweaked name. GE Access is now to be called "Access Distribution, a General Electric Company". Not a big change, so why the makeover? Here is what Deborah Lees, UK marketing manager at Access Distribution, has to say on the matter: "The modification allows the business to still benefit from the reputation and recognition it has earned with the 'Access' name, and at the same time, align itself with the power and brand recognition of GE. We will benefit from the support and leadership of GE, and yet continue to strengthen our own reputation and service as Access Distribution." As one would expect from a cost-conscious distie, Access Distribution is going for a slow phase-out of old-name branded materials. ®
Team Register, 28 Sep 2004
fingers pointing at man

Cost cuts bear fruit for Northamber

Northamber has turned in a healthy profit on the back of two years of cost trimming. The pan-UK distie expresses confidence for this year too, pointing to increased market share for its franchises, as well as better market conditions. For the full year to 30 June 2004, The company produced a pre-tax profit of £2.2m (FY 2003: £422,000) before an exceptional property-related loss of £393,000 following the assignment of the lease of the former principal trading property. Sales were down a little to £233m (FY 03, £240m), reflecting price erosion, albeit at a reduced rate from recent years, the company says. Also chairman David Philips notes its continued "avoidance of loss making sales of mere revenue products", enabling it to reduce total overheads by 8.3 per cent. Average staff numbers during the year fell10.7 per cent to 299 and property costs are down. Upshot: a 3.4 per cent percentage increase in gross profit margin. Northamber ended the year with £9.15m in the bank and nil debt. Which is nice for a distie these days. The board is to recommend a final cash dividend of 3p (net), taking the full year tally to 4.1p (FY 03: 3p). More here (PDF). ®
Drew Cullen, 28 Sep 2004

Get ready for biometrics at work

IT directors across Europe are bracing themselves for the introduction of biometric technology in the office. An Hitachi Data Systems' survey found that 65 per cent expect to see iris scanning and fingerprint recognition systems introduced in the near future. Nearly half, 44 per cent anticipating the technology being implemented within two years, and a very excitable five per cent expect deployment in the next six months. Although 54 per cent expect staff would resist the introduction of technology, the same number felt it would be an acceptable security measure. However, just over a quarter said they were concerned that the technology could be abused. Since many companies and buildings already have swipe card entry systems, the introduction of a biometrics based system is almost a moot question. After all, the privacy implications are not much different. Whether you are associated with a number or a fingerprint, your movements are still recorded each time you go through a door. (We are assuming - dangerous, yes - that IT managers would also deploy robust encryption to protect the biometric data.) Indeed, the building housing El Reg HQ itself, has numbered swipe cards allocated to each company. Going through the wrong door is a crime punishable by concierge. (This is less trivial than it sounds.) But we digress. Tony Reid, European director of storage solutions at Hitachi Data Systems, says the survey indicates a change in attitude towards biometrics, as the technology becomes more common. "Of course, companies will still need to comply with various privacy and data protection regulations that govern how long personal information can be stored and what it can be used for - which presents a further IT challenge for many," he added. However, the enthusiasm for the new tech is not without its limits. Well over half (58 per cent) of the respondents were concerned about the risk of ID theft from companies using and storing biometric data. Others (61 per cent) were concerned that staff could be locked out of the building by mistake. Researchers quizzed 821 IT directors from 21 countries across the EMEA (Europe, Middle EAst and Africa) region for their views. ® Related stories Home Office stacking the decks in ID scheme pilot? UK school cans 'world-beating' biometric scanner Japanese banks deploy biometric palm scanners
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Sep 2004

Lexar device puts passwords at your fingertips

The days of being forced to remember tens of password for various web sites and accounts may soon be behind us thanks to a new USB flash drive from Lexar Media that comes equipped with a biometric fingerprint sensor. The JumpDrive TouchGuard handles all the basic functions of a flash drive - most notably storing up to 256MB of data. This device, however, also ships with a fingerprint sensor and related software that lets customers store up to 200 user names and passwords without needing to remember a single one of them. The user simply hits a website, plunks down a finger and then keeps surfing. Customers can carry this small USB device from computer to computer, so their passwords stay with them at the office, at home or on the road. Users need to install the password management software on their main PC and then configure various web sites for their fingerprint. Once that step is taken though, remembering passwords should hypothetically become a nuisance of the past. No software is required for remote PCs, and different family members can all set up unique accounts off the same flash drive, said David Klenske, director of product marketing at Lexar. The JumpDrive TouchGuard device is the latest in a long line of flash drives from Lexar that each have their own, unique attributes. The company sells sleek drives for the fashion conscious, large-capacity drives for the memory hungry, ruggedized drives for travelers and others with built-in software for working smoothly with Microsoft email software. It's a bit odd to think there is such extensive customization for a simple USB storage product. Most users, we imagine, would simply be looking for the most capacity at the cheapest price. Lexar, however, is convinced that differentiation is king, and, heck, its strategy means the company gets more than its fair share of shelf space at the local retailer. "It's kind of nice to go in a store and see all of our products lined up and then see the competition only has one or two products," said Klenske. The biometric device should start popping up in stores over the next few weeks. It supports 256-bit encryption and works with Windows 2000 and XP computers. It should come in at an estimated retail price of $69.99. If Lexar finds that customers are flocking to this product, it may roll out similar authentication technology more broadly across its full line. ® Related stories Sony ships lifelike colour X-brite LCD panels Sony adds HDD to USB Flash drive line-up Email on a memory stick MS seeks to merge Flash, HDD storage
Ashlee Vance, 28 Sep 2004

Dell jumps on UK recycling bandwagon

Dell UK is helping business to recycle their IT equipment. The service is a response to the new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation, which is to be introduced in 2005. The legislation comes into effect on 13 August 2005 and makes it illegal to inappropriately dispose of IT equipment while ignoring treatment centres which have been introduced to effectively recycle office hardware. Through the new Dell Recycling Programme, customers can recycle their used equipment via the Dell website with no extra cost with a new purchase. The company has also agreed to recycle Dell-branded equipment without the need for an added purchase. According to The Environment Agency, at least 1m tonnes of electrical and electronic waste from domestic and commercial sources are discarded in the UK every year. With this in mind Dell seeks to help consumers meet the stipulations of the WEEE directive as well as help businesses become more conscious about the amount of waste they produce. Pat Nathan, Dell’s global sustainable business director, said: “Our survey shows that awareness among both businesses and consumers of how to responsibly retire used computers is very low. Our UK programme will be a key element in helping us meet our global goal of increasing recovery of used computer products by 50 per cent over the amount collected in Dell’s fiscal year 2004, which ended on 30 January 2004.” Coming into effect at the end of the year, Dell will also introduce a service that will allow firms to donate old equipment to charity Nathan said, “The new UK programme will help one person's unwanted kit into a life expanding tool for those who have not previously had the benefit of such computer technology.” Copyright © 2004,
Startups.co.uk, 28 Sep 2004

The CD is king

Sales of downloaded digital music in Europe will continue to grow steadily in the next five years, but will not replace the CD anytime soon. That's according to a report by Jupiter Research called "European Digital Music: Identifying Opportunity," which predicts that digital music revenue will reach €836m, or eight per cent of the total market, by 2009. "Our figures show strong adoption of digital music but it will remain a minority pursuit. We're forecasting single digit percentages of penetration over the next five years comparable to the impact of mini-disc players, which haven't revolutionised the way people consume music yet. That said, digital music devices will have a stronger role as time goes on but its not about to replace the CD," said Mark Mulligan, lead author of the Jupiter report. This extensive report based on consumer surveys, interviews with online music executives and Jupiter's ranking of every legitimate online music service in Western Europe in areas such as catalogue availability and pricing. Western European digital music revenues have grown considerably in the last 12 months, from €10.6m in 2003 to €46.3m. Growth was driven primarily by new market entrants such as iTunes and Napster who both launched services in June 2004. More recently Stelios Haji-Iannou, of easyJet fame, announced the launch of easyMusic, his online music store. The popularity of online music has prompted a number of heavyweights to establish an online music presence. At the beginning of September Microsoft launched the MSN music store and Yahoo! bought digital music company Musicmatch. Yesterday, Virgin announced its launch into the online music market in the US with a view to expanding to other regions in the future. As for who will succeed in this competitive industry; the Jupiter report expects companies who are not singularly focused on online music, but have other pre-existing revenue streams like selling devices or providing broadband access, to thrive. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 28 Sep 2004

RIAA hunts for Leader of the Pack

Tens of thousands of performers have failed to claim their digital dues from the Recording Industry Ass. Of America's royalties agency, SoundExchange. If they don't get in touch by the end of the year, SoundExchange will keep the royalties that were owed to them between 1996 and 2000. SoundExchange was set up to bring the US into step with the rest of the world by paying a performers a royalty. ASCAP, BMI and SESCAP are the collection agencies responsible for distributing the songwriting royalty. SoundExchange's remit covers satellite broadcasts, cable music and webcasts. (The RIAA lobbied Congress for a compulsory license (or "digital pool", or "flat fee") to raise money from internet broadcasters. That's a good compulsory license, they argue. But the RIAA has lobbied against a compulsory license (or "digital pool", or "flat fee") for recordings on digital media. Because that's a bad compulsory license. We hope you see the distinction.) The decisions to make it an opt-in scheme, and to retain the unclaimed royalties have both raised hackles. As many as 38,000 artists - including backing performers - have failed to step forward. SoundExchange says these include The Shangri-Las and The Count Five, of Psychotic Reaction infamy. Families of performers who have inconveniently died since recording their work are urged to step forward on their behalf, to here.® Related stories McAfee founder returns with 'legal p2p radio' Radio royalties: the ticking timebomb under the RIAA RIAA engineered the webcast split - former exec RIAA bids for control of online royalty payments
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Sep 2004

Memo to Carly - HP customers need help!

LettersLetters Last week, HP's Carly Fiorina moved to calm customer fears about product shipments. She promised a crowd of investors that HP's broken supply chain was all fixed. At the time, we asked the dear Register flock if this was indeed the case. The overwhelming response? Hell, no! (Identities withheld to protect the innocent.) We ordered ProLiant DL320's last month, and it took over 3 weeks for all the parts to arrive. 2 weeks after the order was placed the extra RAM arrived, no servers, just the RAM. I guess when we turned down the overpriced installation service that applied to the optional components also. Then a week later the 'servers' arrived. At least HP said it was the servers. In reality it was 2 fans for a rack. A few irate phone calls latter and 2 more days, and we got the servers. The other servers will come from Dell. HP shipping is too slow and the DL320s are so loud! I would go into detail about the salesperson who sold the servers and their confusing and poorly written quote, but that is not HP's fault. Name supplied My employer currently has a small amount of product that was ordered on Aug. 13th. However, we only just found out that the product was kitted on Sept. 14th. There is no available answer for the one month delay, nor is there likely to be one except for blaming it on the SAP migration. On the small pieces of the order that we have received, we are seeing double shipments. We had ordered 26 SATA drives, but received 52 with the accompanying paperwork not matching any of the hard drives shipped. There is a whole host of issues that are going on every day, and even new orders that are put into the system are still being found to have errors, if they are found at all. If we had been in an all-fired hurry, we too would have abandoned our order and moved to another vendor. IBM might cost a bit more, but every single time I've called them for product (some dozen times this year) they have had exactly what I've wanted, confirmed to be in a warehouse that was no more than 3 days away. If HP Chief Fiorina is saying things are "all clear," she is completely without a grasp of the realities of this situation. Or more to the point, maybe she is fully engaged and knows that if the truth became mainstream there would be blood it the water. By the way, our sales rep told us the same thing Carly is saying now, some three months ago.... Name supplied As a previous customer of Compaq (since the merger I REFUSE to identify my self as an HP customer) I can say that the internal culture of HP is one that needs to be addressed not just the shipements of equipment. I have spent as long as 2.5 months waiting for my laptop to be returned (with what seemed to be related to the SAP debocle) and dispite much esclation it took the fact that I was a persistent SOB that I got anywhere (and the fact I had to E-mail the CEO AND the internal help desk of HP) Suffice it to say, my next laptop purchace was with Dell, dealing with India never felt so good :) Pat D. Is it fixed? Not in the least. Recently (2 weeks ago) ordered a simple base server through HP Direct and had it's ship date bumped out 3 times. Cancelled the order and got it through distribution overnight. Our corporate policy is now NOT to order through Compaq direct, but to order everything through distribution so that we can be assured we're getting our order on time. We're telling our customers that anything they order through direct is at risk of not being shipped. Throughout this entire debacle HP lied to us, and failed to provide any (much less good) customer service. Phone calls weren't returned, ship dates were promised and not met, and orders were totally bollixed up. Sent an email to various people in the supply chain saying we were fed up and got nowhere. We've been a Compaq/HP dealer for over 20 years in two different companies - we're now looking at IBM servers. Name supplied I enjoy reading your articles about HP, esp. when the focus is on Carly. I was recently working at one of the HP engineering facilities as a contractor. We actually did start getting equipment in early September that had been on order for months. All at once. In July one didn't have a prayer of getting any equipment internally, no matter how important your group was. It was all going to the customers. Does that mean the UNIX division is doing just fine? Oh, no. In the first half of September all contractors working in the Enterprise Unix Division were let go. I don't know the number, but upwards of 200 was mentioned as a possibility. Apparently the financials aren't looking good for this quarter so they're covering their asses. There's also been re-orgs and some development work shifted overseas. Name supplied We placed an order with HP Direct over two months ago for some Proliant servers and they just arrived today. We'll see how fast they can deliver the next order. Tom B. Grin and delay it, folks. We hope to bring you more on phase II of the SAP migration soon. Send help! ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Sep 2004

Motorola sends 1,000 drones packing

Motorola plans to axe 1,000 workers across a number of business units, hoping to reduce costs as it refocuses on its wireless business. Staffers from the commercial, government, industrial solutions, broadband communications and integrated electronics units will all be let go, resulting in $50m of severance charges. Other cuts come as a result of Motorola's semiconductor business spin-off - known as Freescale. Motorola expects to spread out the charges from the third quarter of 2004 to the first quarter of 2005, it said today in a filing with the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). "The productivity plans are designed to adjust our workforce to align it with the company's focus on seamless mobility and to eliminate positions in our corporate functions in connection with the pending distribution of shares of our subsidiary, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., to our stockholders by the end of the year," Motorola said in the filing. Motorola also revealed that it sold $218m worth of Nextel Communication shares. Motorola has been working steadily to regain lost ground in the handset market. The cuts, however, clearly do the most to help out the bottom line. The 1,000 workers make up close to 1 percent of Motorola's staff. ® Related stories Freescale to launch 90nm PowerPC G4 today MS, Apple pitch music at mobile phone makers MS smart phones gain in-car nav kit Moto, Proview LCD TV pact 'in doubt'
Ashlee Vance, 28 Sep 2004

Red Hat hates money, which makes it better than Sun

LettersLetters The reaction to our story on the failings of Red Hat's Michael Tiemann's blog attack against Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz was as to be expected. In one corner, Linux zealots called us out for being Sun shills and the evil oppressors of all that is good - namely Richard Stallman. Across the ring, a new flock of Red Hat skeptics charged that Tiemann is foolishly assuming to speak for the open source community at large when he is actuallyl but a lone voice. First from the man in question. Ashlee, Thanks for reading my blog. What you seem to not understand, or what I have not sufficiently articulated, is that I'm calling Sun on a particular claim: that they support open source with all their heart and all their energy. You won't see me tilting at windmills that are blown only by purely proprietary breezes. If Sun had said "to heck with open source, we're doing it our way!" the most I'd say was "knock yourself out!". (And I'd likely say nothing at all--as long as they don't interfere with my rights, I don't really care what they do with theirs.) I'm just saying that /if/ they are serious about the claims they are making, if it really is all their heart and all their energy, then open sourcing Java is a good test. Any less and they are just pretenders. Michael Tiemann VP Open Source Affairs Red Hat, Inc. Michael and I ended up having a lengthy exchange on all of this - we'll spare you the details. Thanks for reading The Register though, Mike. Couldn't agree more with your article. There's an interesting debate between Eric Schrock (of Solaris kernel team) and Greg K-H (of Linux kernel) through their blogs. It's more technical but nonetheless interesting and I see some interesting parallels between Schwartz and Tiemann's. http://blogs.sun.com/eschrock/ and http://www.kroah.com/log/2004/09/23/#2004_09_23_sun_rebuttal It's getting more and more interesting... Seongbae That's a good Sun employee. I don't defend big corporations, and despise them for all sorts of deplorable things. But, I will say that Dell has contributed to the kernel community in a positive way. They have a team that has implemented and supported a few features in the kernel: EDD - Extended Device Data for disks, some PCI Hotplug extensions and fixes, and some SCSI driver fixes. Probably some others, but that's what I get from a few minutes of looking through changelogs. What's more is that they have been good people to work with, and have always been cooperative with the rest of the kernel community. This is not uncommon - while the executives of a company make rash decisions, sometimes at our expense as developers and users, the engineers align themselves with the rest of the community and do real work of a high standard. Suffice to say, they probably get a lot of flack internally and have to wage fierce political battles with the always-unknowing middle-managers and executives. I can safely say that about the people I know and work with from Dell, Redhat, IBM, Oracle, HP, and even Sun. It's true that Dell has not donated much, if any, code to the Open Source Community. But, that's a good thing. Donated code is usually only a publicity stunt to assert a place on the Buzzword Bandwagon. Name supplied it is obvious you are a SUN patron. it is also obvious that you actually believe your rants actually constitute news. but i must ask: how do you live with the fact that 9 out of 10 readers think your rants are nothing more than cute rhetoric devoid of merit? seriously, you gotta try harder man. your opinionated "obviously british" approach is is too arrogant to make it past fringe wit. go have a slurpy. Robert Interesting take, Robert. Your statistics, however, are inaccurate. Only 2 out of 10 readers think my rants are nothing more than cute rhetoric devoid of merit. We've got the data to prove it. Also, I'm not a Brit. Can't stand them. When not claiming to be an Aussie, I claim to be a Texan. What a load of crap - I thought the reg was a bit better than this and leave RMS out of this open source bollocks. A McKinnon An interesting take on the Redhat response. In fact the entire column seems to glance over the reality of what the bloggers actually said. I don't understand the villification of RedHat in this instance, except for the fact that the Register has a giant SUN advertisement on the top of their web page. Other than that, your column makes no sense in regards to the POV. RedHat was accurate in it's statements. He doesn't need to take med's. You do. Either you are ignoring simple things like SUN funding SCO and getting a 1.2 Billion dollar Microsoft enima, or you are ignoring the past years waffling of Sun from aggressor to protector of OSS. I don't understand your column at all. Your take is novel though, I'll give you that. Statiscally, you can chalk this particular piece up to a statiscical term called an outlier. Regards, John Heidingsfelder Sorry, but you're WAY off base on this story. You claim Tiemann somehow "loses" this blog war and is being "petty", but, if you really understood Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), you'd know that his points are spot on. Sun can proclaim all they want about what they've already done, and they have released quite a bit of code, but, so long as they hold onto the proprietary model for things like Java, when the open model would plainly work better, they will continue to gain the ire of the community. The place where Tiemann is actually wrong is where he says it's "what you have done". In reality, it's more "who you are" -- and RH displays a true commitment to FOSS, while Sun does not, as evidenced by their decisions vis-a-vis Java, and so RH will ALWAYS retain more cred with the FOSS community as long as this is true. You say that Sun will win because their officers are clever or because they make a lot more money than Red Hat. I'll type this slowly, so you can read it the same way and try to understand, since the message is apparently not sinking in with you: FOSS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY AND BUSINESS PROFITS. Period. Joe Fish You're right! It's hard to imagine how Red Hat's CEO Matt Szulik will get by on just a couple hundred million. Well done, very funny. You may even have redeemed yourself from those excruciating multiple-choice opinion polls with this one-- congratulations. Chuck Swiger Beautiful writing. One of the things I love best about el reg is it's writers ability to turn the most mundane material into a humorous read. Keep it up! Robert Bolender Er, thanks, I think. Richard Stallman actively has nothing to do with Open Source, you insensitive clod. He's a Free (as in freedom) Software guy. And you call yourself a tech reporter... ***shakes head mounfully*** Alex L This is a very poorly written article. Especially bad given the prominent Sun logo in the upper right hand corner of the page. It's bad starting with the slanted headline. It is also clear that you do not have any idea who michael tiemann is. Go do a little research before you write meaningless, obviously biased material like this. you should be ashamed of yourself. And go read the other articles on this topic by the real technology news outlets, who handled the story in a much more professional way. Perhaps you too could write like this one day. Tough guy didn't give his name or a real e-mail address. Grrr. Great article, up to the usual Register standard. Thanks, I learned a few things, which is why I read the Register. I enjoy the vigourous and opinionated style, soundly based in cited and checkable facts. So why spoil it with a cheap dig at Stallman? Maybe I'm missing something, but could you kindly cite where Mr Stallman has "(made) claims that don't stand up"? As far as I know (not *that* much, admittedly) Stallman has a habit of turning out to be right (that, and being derogatory about folks who are not so swift on the uptake). Take his collection of essays "Free Software, Free Society", for example. Care to point out where in that RMS makes the unsustainable claims that you claim? I think we should be told! All the best, John Tucker I just have to say I utterly disagree with you. I've been following Schwartz's blog and I have to say I lose respect for SUN with every word. While I don't support some of Red Hat's decisions or business practices, I think RH and Tiemann's position are more credible than Schwartz or SUN's. A majority of the FOSS community thinks SUN is playing both sides of the fence. We believe SUN isn't serious about joining the community, but rather trying to craft devious ways of benefitting without giving back. Like not opening Java and not supporting OO.o from patent protection, nor backing the community in spirit and trying to bring the corporate BS to the party such as Schwartz's blog. SUN is wrong. We don't like the commercial mudslinging that businesses are so use to slinging at each other. We see it for what it is, and Sun looks like they have mud on their faces. Fred ®
Ashlee Vance, 28 Sep 2004