4th > October > 2004 Archive

PalmOne unveils 256MB Flash drive T5 PDA

UpdateUpdate PalmOne launched the Tungsten T5, its first PDA to ship with 256MB of memory and the first to operate as a USB Flash drive, this morning, as anticipated. The launch confirms what pre-release photos of the device purported: that the T5 uses the slider-less casing of the Tungsten E. The latter's 320 x 320 display is dropped in favour of a 320 x 480 job of the kind already seen on the Tungsten T3. Like the T3, the T5 uses a virtual Graffiti text-entry area and can switch the screen between landscape and portrait mode at a flick of the stylus. The PDA is powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale processor, almost certainly a PXA270. Bluetooth wireless connectivity is built in, but Wi-Fi, the subject of much pre-release speculation, is not. However, there's the usual SD IO card slot, allowing buyers to add PalmOne's own Wi-Fi SD card. The unit incorporates 256MB of Flash, of which 215MB are available to the user: 55MB for on-board memory, the remaining 160MB configured as an internal storage card. The memory comes courtesy of M-Systems' DiskonChip technology. The PDA now includes a new file browser application, PalmOne Files, which is pre-set to be activated from of the buttons on the case. PalmOne is pitching the T5 not only as a PDA but as a highly portable external hard drive, allowing users to carry around important documents wherever they go. The USP over regular Flash drives is the ability to view, and in the case of Microsoft Office documents, edit those files as well as carry them. It's a novel idea and one that crucially paves the way for the incorporation of hard drives into PDAs. That will better position the platform as the worlds of the mobile phone, PDA and portable entertainment device, from the iPod to the Microsoft Portable Media Center, continue to coalesce. The T5 runs PalmOS 5.4.5. It dispenses with PalmOne's long-standing Universal Connector in favour of a new interface, the Multi Connector. Launch today, the new PDA will not ship for a month. PalmOne said it expects to make the device "widely available" on 3 November on its own web store. The T5 will retail for around $399 in the US. PalmOne is cutting the price of the T3 to $349, down $50, to make room for the new model. UK pricing will be around £329. ® Related stories PalmOne to launch 'big RAM' Tungsten next week PalmOne pockets a profit PalmOne 'Ace' Treo piccies leak out PalmOne offers Wi-Fi card... PalmOne extends world PDA lead Nokia guns for PDA, home surveillance rivals Group Sense readies Palm OS 5.4 smart phone
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

Kodak wins Sun Java patents case, wants $1bn

Kodak is returning to court this week to claim $1bn in damages and unpaid royalties from Sun Microsystems. The court found in favour of the camera company on Friday and ruled that Sun had infringed Kodak's Java patents. The case hinged on patents Kodak bought from Wang Laboratories in late 1997. >Kodak welcomed the verdict and said it was part of a bigger strategy to convert its intellectual property into cash. This week the court will decide how much Kodak should receive. Kodak wants a lump sum of $1.06bn - half of Sun's operating profit from servers and storage products between 1998 and 2001, according to local paper the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Kodak will also ask the court to set a royalty for Sun's future use of Java. Sun told the paper it would conduct a "vigorous defence" in the next stage of the trial. Observers believe Sun is likely to appeal the decision. ® Related stories Sun downsizes revenue results Digital print booths: Kodak addresses your concerns Kodak sues Sony over digital camera patents
John Oates, 04 Oct 2004

Mitac's Mio preps next-gen GPS PocketPC

Mitac's PocketPC and smart phone subsidiary, Mio, is working on a second-generation GPS-enabled PDA, if picture posted on a GPS-oriented web site are accurate. Mio's Mio 168, launched almost a year ago, become the first PocketPC device to feature a built-in GPS antenna, although Garmin holds the record on the first GPS-enabled PDA. The 168 is sold in the UK by local PC vendor Evesham, and forms the basis for navigation specialist Navman's PiN handheld worldwide. While the 168 looked like a typical PocketPC, with the antenna flipping up from the back of the device, the new model, tentatively called the 188 in a GPSPassion report, looks more akin to a portable video player. The unit appears designed to be used in portrait mode for PocketPC operation and in a landscape orientation for navigation. In this mode, the five-way navigation control is on the left-hand side. At the right are four buttons that appear to control the appearance of the map, turn points of interest markers on and off, and zoom in and out of the map. They sit above the speaker, undoubtedly used to read out directions. There's also a jog-wheel control on the left side panel, above the power key. The unit sports a USB 2.0 port for synchronisation on what's base of the unit when it's in landscape orientation. On the top (in the same mode), there's an SD or MMC card slot and what's presumably the device's new, flat antenna. As it's mounted on the top, it doesn't need to be folded down for storage. The pictures may be canny fakes, but some of the detail and imagination used in the device's design suggest not. So far, no other information on the Mio 188 has surfaced. ® Related stories Mio launches MS smartphone in UK Mitac unveils first Pocket PC with integrated GPS PDA makers unveil Wi-Fi, GPRS PDAs MS smart phones gain in-car nav kit Garmin preps mid-range integrated GPS PDA Navman preps PocketPC with GPS
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

Alleged Apple Flash iPod 'partner' signs with Rio

Hopes that Apple may be preparing a Flash-based iPod appeared to be dashed on Friday when the company's alleged MP3 chip partner announced a deal with Apple portable player rival Rio. Late last week, it emerged that analyst Jason Pfaum of investment house Thomas Weisel had reported that Apple will use MP3 chip maker SigmaTel's controller chip in an upcoming music player scheduled for a pre-Christmas launch. Said device was claimed to use Flash memory for storage rather than the usual iPod hard drive. However, on Friday, SigmaTel itself announced a two-year deal to supply Rio with controller chips for both Flash- and hard drive-based music products. Rio is already a SigmaTel customer. So is Creative, according to pictures on the SigmaTel web site. SigmaTel's D-Major chip offers MP3 and WMA decoding, the latter including support for Windows Media DRM. With a built-in USB 2.0 controller, D-Major is touted as a compact, low-cost, low-power system-on-a-chip that combines various music player chip components onto a single die. The company said Rio will be using its upcoming ARM-based audio processing chips, which are due to ship early next year. There's nothing to indicate that the deal with Rio is exclusive, so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Apple might partner with SigmaTel. Apple currently sources audio controllers from PortalPlayer, which provides a similar ARM-based SoC product, which supports a variety of transports, including Firewire, USB and Bluetooth, and include memory, LCD and other controllers in addition to the audio stuff. PortalPlayer's chips can also control Flash storage. Pace Pfaum's "numerous sources in Asia", it seems likely that if Apple was pondering a Flash-based iPod, it would stick with its established partner. But is a Flash iPod likely? Again, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility, but Apple's focus on hard drive players - which the market as a whole is tending too - particularly given the big price-per-megabyte advantage they offer over Flash, makes such a move seem unlikely. Indeed, Mini is specifically offered as a better value alternative to Flash-based players. Apple may well feel, however, that a Flash product would not only fill a gap below the iPod Mini, but ease demand for that product. That said, with supplies of iPods and Minis ramping up and said to be nearing demand levels, such a 'back up' strategy may be unnecessary. ® Related stories Apple 'signs second iPod supplier' Sony apes Apple with coloured music players Creative unveils iPod Mini-coloured MuVo2 update Toshiba tilts digital music player line at iPod T-Mobile to battle iPod with music smart phone Samsung shows 'world's first' hard drive phone Archos ships video, audio, gaming handheld
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

When IT departments go bad

OpinionOpinion Despite what vendors and management consultancies say and believe the most important people in the IT industry are the IT departments. These make the ultimate decisions about what to buy and who to buy from. They also, even more importantly, play a key role in choosing what IT applications to implement. For these reasons the telephone number of the IT Director of a major company is one of the most sought after items in the IT industry. The IT department is important to the success of the organisation but it often fails to deliver the goods. There are two common failings – the IT department can become too powerful or too weak. In both circumstances the company does not get the IT support and services that it deserves. How does this happen? The non-IT management of an organisation don’t find IT matters interesting or rewarding and they can leave it all to the IT department. Often a Board cannot agree on a common IT policy As a result, the IT department can become too powerful and independent - especially when managed by an influential manager. Later on business managers may regret leaving it all to IT as their requirements are ignored in favour of the IT department’s agenda. The business managers need involvement in IT programmes and projects or they run the risk of being presented with fait accompli and being bounced into undesirable decisions. In such a climate, IT departments turn inwards and take on a pronounced technical bias. You often find that they have a closer relationship with their IT suppliers than their business users. IT departments can also become too weak. They can be ground down by a continual drive to reduce costs – leading them to be specialists in string and sealing wax solutions. They struggle on heroically until the business realises how poor their performance is and outsources the whole department - spending many times the annual budget in a technology refresh. You could make the cynical comment that just as electorates get the politicians they deserve so companies get the IT departments they deserve. A company with a failing IT department usually has deeper problems. It is no good thinking that outsourcing will solve the problems of the company’s relationship with IT. Outsourcers are not a charity and organisations will find the challenge of managing an internal IT function pale in comparison to managing a profit-oriented hard-nosed outsourcer. The relationship between IT and the rest of the business needs to be like a marriage with a good deal of mutual give and take. Failed marriages can be saved but it isn’t a comfortable process for the partners. Harsh truths have to be acknowledged and long-standing habits changed but the rewards can be great when IT and the business pull together and deliver a coherent strategy. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories IT bosses are storage addicts who can't stop themselves Academia battles forces of IT anarchy How to boost your Business IQ
Martin Langham, 04 Oct 2004

Lastminute seeks £13m savings

Lastminute.com says it is on track to meet targets for Q4, albeit at the lower end of its expected range. Today it will tell analysts and investors how will save around £13m in the 2005 financial year to reduce costs by 10 per cent. Finding an extra £13m per year will cost the firm £9m, including £5m relating to the integration of recently acquired Online Travel Corporation. As reported in August, this will result in the closure of six offices in the UK, four overseas, and the loss of 350 jobs. Most of the costs will be recognised as exceptional items in Q4. CEO Brent Hoberman said the group had continued to grow, despite what he called "challenging trading conditions in the industry during the summer quarter". ® Related stories Potential buyers sniff Ebookers Lastminute.com axes 350 jobs Lastminute buys German doppelganger
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2004

US cybersecurity czar quits

US cybersecurity czar Amit Yoran announced his resignation on Friday after a year in the job. The Department of Homeland Security said Yoran's departure was amicable but there's speculation that his exit was prompted by the Bush's administration's failure to treat IT security as much of a priority. Since becoming director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division in September 2003, Yoran has created a "cyber alert" system and forged closer links between the department and IT security suppliers, particularly over regulation. Commentators quizzed by Reuters said Yoran had become frustrated by the lack of political clout that went with what is supposedly the top computer-security job in US government. "The department has had an identity crisis on cybersecurity for some time now," said Roger Cressey, a security consultant who worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "They have not figured out how to approach this issue in a systematic way." Yoran said he's leaving to spend more time with his two young children and to explore ways in which he can re-enter the private sector. The Department of Homeland Security is yet to name his successor. ® Related stories Former security czar morphs into Rasputin US Cybersecurity Agency launched The FAQ on UK data retention czar's shady video past White House cybersecurity czar resigns. Again Fed cybersecurity initiative boosts TCPA US cyber security may draft ISPs in spy game MS' new security czar is old govt prosecutor
John Leyden, 04 Oct 2004
DVD it in many colours

AT&T and Vonage do battle

Voice over IP calls are getting cheaper - Vonage and AT&T both announced lower monthly charges late last week. AT&T said it would reduce its monthly charge by five dollars to $30 a month for unlimited local and long distance calls in Canada and the US. In response competitor Vonage announced it would also knock five dollars off its monthly charge. Its package for unlimited calls falls to $25 a month. The firm is also simplifying its other call packages. The news is the first sign of a price war in the market for broadband phone services. VoIP services use internet protocols to route calls and so should be able to provide services for far less than a traditional telco using its own network. A spokesman for Vonage said prices could continue to fall as the firm takes advantage of benefits of scale. Vonage claims 200,000 customers out of a total residential market of 1m subscribers. ® Related stories Feds invite comment on VoIP wiretaps Skype launches Pocket PC software Say goodbye, then hello to AT&T phones BT shaves a quid off VoIP service
John Oates, 04 Oct 2004

WorldPay struggles under DDoS attack (again)

WorldPay, the Royal Bank of Scotland's internet payment transaction outfit, is continuing to fight a sustained internet attack which has left its services largely unavailable for a third successive day. Since Saturday (2 October), WorldPay's online payment and administration system has been reduced to a crawl, due to a malicious DDoS attack by unidentified computer criminals. A spokesman for the company stressed that although is fighting a serious "denial-of-service" attack, its systems is uncompromised and customer data remains secure. "We are processing transactions securely but the attack is blocking our ability to operate normally. We apologise unreservedly for any inconvenience caused," he added. WorldPay's techies are working overtime to restore service but can't say when normal service will be restored. In a notice to customers on Saturday (2 October), WorldPay said: "We regret that access to our payment and administration systems is severely disrupted due to a planned and large scale Denial of Service (DDOS) attack by a third party. Our payment and administration systems are working, safe and secure, but the networks around them are being flooded with requests on a huge scale, causing 'service denials'. We are processing payments, but far slower and fewer than we normally would. "We are executing our contingency plans to move to full restoration of the service but cannot at this point in time predict when all customers will have the service restored without further interruption. While attacks of this type can be anticipated, it does take time to identify and deal with the exact nature of a particular attack. We are doing everything that is possible to restore a full service as soon as is possible," it added. Users are advised to check WorldPay's customer service portal for updates. WorldPay was the subject of a similar three-day long denial of service attack last November. One Reg reader writes: "Looks like they have not learned much from last year/s dos attack as the service has been down for most of the day. We have lost thousands in orders." A WorldPay spokesman said the vast majority of customers had been supportive and understanding. He noted that many businesses had experienced DDoS attacks in recent months. Many of these attacks have been linked to extortion attempts, but WorldPay declines to say if it has received any demands from its attackers. ® Related stories UK banks launch anti-phishing website US credit card firm fights DDoS attack Feds bust DDoS 'Mafia' DDoSers attack DoubleClick Online extortionists target Cheltenham WorldPay recovers from massive attack
John Leyden, 04 Oct 2004

Sproqit readies real-time PC-to-PDA remote access

Sproqit will next month ship the first major release of code which allows wireless PDAs to access and manipulate PC-based data in real time, the company said today. The Register first saw Sproqit Personal Edition (SPE) demo'd in April 2003, and the software has taken longer than planned to come to market. But it remains an impressive concept. SPE comprises a compact client app, Companion, that runs under Palm OS 4 and 5, and various PocketPC system software releases. It essentially translates transmitted draw commands into device OS UI calls, and relays back the user's actions. There's a Windows-based utility, Desktop Agent, that runs on the host PC. The two make a fast, two-way, secure 128-bit SSL connection brokered via Sproqit's own server, and once in communication allow users to manipulate and view files without transferring them to the handheld or third-party servers. The concept of mobile remote control isn't knew, not is the way the SPE client simply renders a new view of the PC-based data but not that data itself, but SPE is able to operate when bandwidth is lost. Unlike a synchronisation solution, users always have access to the most up-to-date versions of files. Unlike, store-and-forward systems such as RIM's Blackberry, there's no inherent need to rely on third-party servers. SPE uses Sproqit servers to establish client and PCs credentials before allowing them to connect. Upcoming Workgroup (25 users) and Enterprise releases - due December 2004 and Spring 2005, respectively - will provides corporates with their own connection-brokering code. A carrier-grade version is also in the works. SPE's real limitation is the range of apps covered. It ships with links to Microsoft Outlook's PIM and email facilities, and a file browser that can look-up directories local to the PC and any network it's connected to. Sproqit CEO Peter Mansour told The Register that support for POP3 email, Lotus Notes and other email apps is coming before the end of the year. Other apps can be supported through plug-ins into the host PC's utility. Mansour said the plug-in SDK will be released before the end of the year. Even then, only data that is fundamentally text-based can be supported. While "hundreds" of file-types can be viewed, denser, media formats such as JPEG can't. Mansour pledge support for such formats in future releases. He also promised Companion support for Symbian and Microsoft smart phone platforms by the end of the year. The SPE software is itself free, but Sproqit will levy a monthly £8/$10 fee for the connection brokering service. Enterprise customers with their own broker servers will only pay for the software. The server code will run on Windows, Linux and other Unix-based server OSes. In the UK, Sproqit said it had signed local PalmOne distributor Hugh Symons will bundle the SPE software with Treo 600 smart phones. The bundle includes a 14-day trial of the £8-a-month service. ® Related stories Sproqit serves real-time PC access to PDA owners PalmOne unveils 256MB Flash drive T5 PDA Orange to ship Wi-Fi Pocket 'in October' Vodafone launches Wi-Fi Pocket PC O2 unveils XDA IIs, IIi Wi-Fi Pocket PCs
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

BT cuts Basic broadband by £2

BT has cut the monthly cost of its entry-level broadband service in a move that underlines the competitive pressure in the UK's broadband sector. The telco has shaved £2 off BT Broadband Basic cutting the cost of the service from £19.99 to £17.99 a month. BT reckons the move "proves our commitment to delivering the best possible value broadband to our customers and to as wide an audience as possible". It also reckons that BT Broadband Basic is "now cheaper than a number of our major rivals and extremely competitive against other entry level broadband products". While a host of smaller ISPs have cut the cost of broadband, a move by one of the big three shows that competitive pressure is working. In August Wanadoo UK doubled the speed of its broadband service (now 1 Megabit (Mb) ADSL) while keeping the cost of the service the same at £17.99 a month. So what of the other of the top three ISPs - AOL UK? Does it have any plans to cut the cost of its service to match its closest rivals? A spokesman for the company said: "No, we're happy with our price for the time being - we still think it represents the value option compared to the bargain basement." ® Related stories Wanadoo UK punts 1Mb ADSL for £18 Tesco touts broadband for the masses Virgin.net unveils 'Plan Two' broadband offer
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2004

SpaceShipOne goes for X-Prize glory

SpaceShipOne will today attempt to reach an altitude of 100km for the second time in less than a fortnight, and thereby claim the $10m X-Prize for the first private space vehicle to accomplish the feat. The flight is due to blast off from Mojave, California, later today following its ascent last Wednesday to 102.8km. The first mission proved successful despite the vehicle developing a roll which forced pilot Mike Melvill to stabilise SpaceShipOne using its compressed gas "reaction control system". At high altitudes, lack of atmosphere makes traditional control surfaces virtually ineffective. Melvill later dismissed the Mach 2.7 incident as a "little victory roll" and is expected to take the controls again today, although this has not been confirmed. Neither has designer Burt Rutan yet announced whether he is to suit up and hop aboard SpaceShipOne for the flight. He is understood to be keen to hitch a ride for the historic event. ® Related stories SpaceShipOne bids for X-Prize Virgin to offer space flights Rutan bagsies 'shotgun' in SpaceShipOne X-prize race hots up SpaceShipOne triumphs SpaceShipOne ready for go US edges closer to private space flight FAA greenlights private spaceship
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2004

eBay UK is five

Online auctioneer eBay, celebrates its fifth UK birthday today, and what an interesting five years it has been. While in the US, happy bidders can get their mitts on the highly prized letters from LINDOWS, (now Linspire, of course) we in the UK have access to the manure from an Olympic champion horse, a couple of housewives, or the entire financial history of one of Europe's larger financial services groups. We also heard how a UK technology journalist inadvertently bought three seven-ton horse boxes by dint of over enthusiastic clicking. The biggest ever sale in the UK was Maggie Thatcher's handbag, which went for a tasty £103,000, while the ball that betrayed a nation's hopes in the European cup fetched £18,700. The company reports around 7.5m visitors to its site every month, and estimates that 10,000 people actually make a living selling through the site. From sales of illegal stun guns, to accusations of gun smuggling, the site has seen the seedier side of life as well. eBay has taken steps to deal with the issue of fraud - it offers customers up to £250 of protection from non-delivery or for goods that are not as described on the auction site, so long as the vendor is PayPal-approved. However, the Consumer Association says that despite this, up to 200 sales per day are fraudulent. eBay claims dodgy sales account for just 0.01 per cent of its total. ® Related stories L-I-N-D-O-W-S goes up for sale on eBay Hospital suspends ten staff for 'net abuse' eBay Hawaiian skull vendor on federal rap
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2004

Oracle asks court to remove PeopleSoft poison pills

Oracle is back in court this week as its hostile bid for PeopleSoft starts to turn in its favour. Last week saw the ousting of Craig Conway, PeopleSoft's chief executive who strongly opposed the takeover. PeopleSoft shares rose sharply on the news. More good news came last week from the US Department of Justice - it has decided not to appeal a court ruling that the takeover is not anti-competive. The deal still faces investigation from the European Commission, although the rumour is that Competition Commissioner Mario Monti will approve the takeover before he leaves his post at the end of October. The PeopleSoft board announced on Friday that Conway was leaving because it was no longer confident in his ability to run the company. David Duffield, founder and chairman, will take charge. Peoplesoft says Conway's departure is unconnected with the Oracle bid. Oracle had accused Conway of acting improperly for rejecting its takeover offer without giving board directors the chance to consider it. Oracle is this week asking the Delaware court to remove two "poison pill" arrangements which PeopleSoft has made to try and block the takeover. One of these concerns paying customers compensation for disruption caused by a takeover which could total $2bn. The other relates to shareholder's rights to block a takeover. The case will be heard by Leo Shrine who in previous cases has defended the rights of outside shareholders. He ruled against Shorewood Packaging when it was the target of a hostile takeover from Chesapeake Corp. Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer told the FT he was not interested in stepping in to save PeopleSoft from the attentions of Oracle. He said Microsoft considered SAP the most attractive target in the market - and that deal had fallen through: "I know SAP, and they're no SAP." But he refused to entirely rule out a deal, saying "one should never say never." ® Related stories Peoplesoft sacks Craig Conway EU to approve Oracle takeover - reports Peoplesoft staff get golden goodbye
John Oates, 04 Oct 2004

Intel ships 'execute disable' Pentium 4s

Intel yesterday introduced its first desktop processors to support what it calls Execute Disable Bit (EDB) technology - essentially the same code-disabling technology found in AMD, Transmeta and other CPUs, and used by Windows XP Service Pack 2 to render some viruses ineffective. The update was expected: Intel documents seen by The Register in July 2004 pinpointed a Q4 release of EDB-enabled P4s and Celerons. The chip giant also introduced its first Socket T Celeron chips. Intel's EDB-enabled processors include both new and old models. All of them are indicated by a 'J' after the CPU model number. The technology is now incorporated into all 90nm, Socket T Pentium 4 5xx processors, from the 520 to the 560, through a new core version, E-0. Older versions, based on the D-0 core, are still available alongside the E-0 parts. Prices remain unchanged: the 520 and 520J are $163; the 530 and 530J, $178; the 540 and 540J, $218; the 550 and 550J, $278; and the 560 and 560J, $417; The first 775-pin Socket T Celerons are the 325J, 330J, 335J and340J, clocked at 2.53, 2.66, 2.80 and 2.93GHz, respectively. Again, they're priced to match the existing, EDB-less parts: $79, $83, $103 and $117, respectively. The 340J is a new clock speed for the Celeron desktop line, and was accompanied by a second new model, the 340. Intel's 90nm mobile Celeron M 350 and 360 also made an appearance on the company's price list yesterday, at $107 and $134, respectively. So did the already announced $262 Mobile Pentium 4 548. Next up for a 'J' release is Intel's 64-bit Xeon DP chip, 'Nocona'. These were expected to have made an appearance at the end of September, but as yet they have not been added to Intel's official price list. EDB allows the CPU to be set not to run code stored in 'data-only' sections of memory. That, it's hoped, will block a number of viruses that hide within such areas of RAM. ® Related stories Intel to add NX security to Pentium 4 in Q4 Intel 'Nocona' Xeon to get 'no execute' support Intel grows Socket T Celeron line-up
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

PalmOne Wi-Fi SD Card

ReviewReview With more and more of us turning to PDAs to give us access to our contacts book and diary when out and about it's only natural that we would start to want Wi-Fi being built in to the units, writes Stuart Miles. Of course you can get wireless enabled PDAs already, but for the most part they are expensive. PalmOne is hoping that by introducing a Wi-Fi card for its Zire 72 and T3 models that those people who bought in at entry-level will be able to super-size their PDA to allow them to access the web and ultimately emails on the move whenever they encounter a wireless network. In practice the card works very well, although you won't be able to run Bluetooth at the same time. The size of a slightly longer than usual SD card, it simply slots into the SD card slot on the top of the two models. We tested it with the Zire 72, and found that the only real problem with this is when the unit is in your pocket. Because of the way that the SD Card slots in, you can find that the card is liable to pop out when it depresses against something for a brief moment. What this means in real terms is that we were forever slotting the card back in when we got it out to use. Setup was simple. Once we had installed the relevant software via hotsyncing with our Apple PowerBook, we were ready to try out the connectivity of the unit. The Wi-Fi card had no problem finding our office network and no problem connecting to it. A clear signal strength indicator tells you how good the signal strength is. For a more conclusive test, we jumped on the train to Waterloo Station in London. Even here the unit had no problem finding the eight or so Wi-Fi hotspots in the station and as we walked around the promenade the unit picked up different hotspots as we entered their coverage. Verdict Overall this product is limited to a select few members of the PalmOne fraternity. However, for those selected members this unit is very good. Installation was simple, the software easy to use and more importantly the experience was very user-friendly. Better still, if you're running a wireless network on your base computer you can Hotsync over the network rather than having to do it with a cradle. If you're a Zire 72 or Tungsten T3 user this will certainly boost your PDA's productivity, just make sure you check the bottom of the bag for the card every time you get the handheld out. ® PalmOne Wi-Fi Card   Rating 80%   Pros Gives you wireless access for your PDA   Cons Only works with two models in the Palm range   Price £78   More info The PalmOne site Visit The Reg's Review Channel for more hardware coverage.
Pocket Lint, 04 Oct 2004

Business Serve snaps up Vital Online

Lancaster-based ISP, Business Serve, has snapped up its fifth acquisition since it floated on AIM in February 2004. It's paying £200,000 in cash and a bundle of shares for business-focused ISP Vital Online Ltd. Vital - which has a turnover of around £700,000 and flogs stuff like leased lines and broadband - will continue to trade under its own name as part of the Business Serve Group. It's been a busy six months for Business Serve. In March, it acquired automated online company, Domain Names GB.com Ltd, for £400,000 in cash and ISP RealTouch Internet Ltd for £60,000. In May it paid £1.87m to buy Manchester-based Designer Servers Ltd, a small ISP which offers managed servers and hosting for a range of customers including Panasonic. In July, Business Serve plc stumped up £404,000 to add KB Media Limited - which flogs broadband targeted at the reseller market - to its stable of companies. The ISP now employs over 180 people and claims has more than 40,000 business customers. ® Related stories Business Serve floats on AIM Business Serve buys Legend Internet NTL takes control of Virgin.net Kingston Comms buys Eclipse Internet Your Communications seeks buyer
Tim Richardson, 04 Oct 2004

ZigBee in danger of falling apart

The domination of the 802.16 process by a handful of vendors is often criticized, but at least it has resulted in a measure of unity that is looking increasingly enviable as the other key IEEE wireless efforts fall prey to dangerous fragmentation, which could significantly devalue the role of the standards body itself. We have examined the deep splits in the 802.11 camp over the approach to the upcoming 802.11n standard for 100Mbps-plus Wi-Fi, and the even more damaging battle over the proposed 802.15.3a specification for high data rate, short range communications based on UltraWideBand. Now 802.15.4, or ZigBee, the standard for low data rate personal area networking, is also threatening to shatter into conflicting pieces. The problem, according to a new study from West Technology Research Solutions, is one already familiar in Wi-Fi – the race by vendors to build market share by releasing proprietary, ‘prestandard’ products. This means that, “instead of becoming a standard for low data rate network environments, ZigBee is in danger of evolving into simply one among many proprietary options. The proliferation of proprietary 802.15.4 solutions in advance of the availability of the ZigBee standard has effectively marginalized the overall market opportunity for ZigBee”, says West. To reflect this risk, West has downgraded its predictions for ZigBee chip shipments and now expects gradual growth from 19m in 2006 to 123m units in 2009. This would put ZigBee at under 20 per cent of the total market, with proprietary variants controlling the rest. More sanguine is ABI Research, which believes around 80m ZigBee chips will ship by the end of 2006. ZigBee is generally associated with industrial control applications but its biggest opportunity lies in the digital home, ABI believes. It says that the market for wireless home controls and other short range applications will explode in the home from 2006, and this is an easier sector, technologically, for vendors to enter than industrial networks. Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and so-called ‘father of the internet’, commented: "I see parallels between ZigBee and Ethernet. As Ethernet has connected millions of computers, [ZigBee] has the potential to net-work-enable billions of devices that previously couldn't communicate.” He was speaking on taking the chairman’s role at ZigBee mesh start-up Ember, which has raised $25m in funding. In April, Ember, maker of sensor-based meshes based on pre-standard ZigBee, acquired technology and personnel for ZigBee from the UK’s Cambridge Consultants. The company is working on a single-chip device for the personal area standard and expects the technology to be running on an UWB physical layer by 2006, which will increase speed and power efficiency. This shows how the innovation and release of products is running well ahead of the yet-to-be finalized standards. This hints at a future – echoed in 802.15.3a and 802.11 – where the impetus behind a new market will be sufficient to create a mass market for a technology, even in de facto variants, where real standards cannot be agreed in a sufficiently rapid timescale to meet market demand. UltraWideBand in ZigBee The next ZigBee challenge will be devising the proposed extension to the 802.15.4 standard, ‘4a’, which could be based on UltraWideBand too. This would make UWB the common technology for both low and high data rate short range networks. However, the continuing standards war, and severe limitations on where and how UWB is regulated, could hold it back so badly that its place in its largest potential market, the digital wireless home network, will be usurped by 802.11n (assuming that can overcome its own splits). While chipmakers and analysts fret over that clash, start-up Pulse~Link, which has already demonstrated UWB over wires and over Lan distances, was taking an inclusive approach, showing off a chip that can support both UWB and narrowband wireless, including Wi-Fi, simultaneously. At this week’s UltraWideBand Conference in California, the company showed UWB communications across in-home electrical wiring, on a 750MHz cable television network, and using narrowband carriers at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. All transmissions were demonstrated in simultaneous operation from a single chip. Again, the market predictions are so divergent as to be irrelevant. In-Stat/MDR predicts that UWB devices will grow at annual rate of over 400 per cent between 2005 and 2008 because their high speeds (up to 480Mbps) will see off challenges from fast Wi-Fi and will attract OEMs even if standards are only de facto. But the Diffusion Group is in the camp that believes 802.11n will be ‘good enough’ should the industry fail to sort out standards for 802.15.3a soon. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Ericsson ditches Bluetooth IEEE groups fight for control of key standards PCCW opens kimono (a little) on UK broadband wireless plans
Wireless Watch, 04 Oct 2004

Working for El Reg

The Register is always on the look out for talent. If you'd like to work for us, please take the time to read about our current vacancies below. If you believe you have the skills that we're looking for, send us your CV/Resume and we'll give it due attention. We're only looking for people to fill the vacancies below so please don't send speculative CVs/Resumes. Current Vacancies Sales Executive Account Manager We will try to respond to everyone that contacts us but because of the volume we receive it's not always possible. Please direct your CV/Resumes to Philip Mitchell.
Team Register, 04 Oct 2004

Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards

We have examined before how patent lawsuits are threatening to stifle the adoption of wireless standards. Symbol, fresh from an intellectual property victory over rival Proxim, is the latest to assert sweeping licensing rights in 802.11 technology, while VIA is seeking to extend its proposed ‘intellectual property pool’ to WiMAX. With the emerging WiMAX and RFID wireless technologies both subject to major patent claims, as well as numerous intellectual property disputes in Wi-Fi, the arguments are growing louder that standards are kept royalty-free. This would basically give companies – particularly start-ups – the choice of keeping their inventions proprietary and seeking to build a de facto standard with a full royalty revenue stream, Qualcomm-style; or donate the innovations to industry bodies for free, but with the hope of creating a far larger market in a shorter timescale, in which to sell products and services. Call for royalty-free standards Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the W3C standards consortium, is one of the high profile supporters of the royalty-free view. Speaking at MIT’s Emerging Technologies Conference this week, he said it was important that the web, whether wireless or not, is not “tripped up by software patents”. "If you want a good laugh, go look at patent applications," he said, claiming that all companies developing products in emerging markets feel threatened by the possibility of a sudden patent lawsuit that could change their cost base entirely. "You could never find out what patent could possibly apply to what technology," he said. "You could never guess what things people might have the gall to say they have patented already. It really is a universal fear." Symbol’s move Hard on the heels of WiMAX vendor Wi-Lan asserting its intellectual property rights in OFDM technologies used in both 802.16 and 802.11a, wireless switchmaker Symbol is claiming that the patents concerned in its Proxim dispute are included in all Wi-Fi products. This means that all the vendors could, in theory, be liable for royalty payments Proxim had to pay $23m in damages and 2 per cent royalties, though other vendors would owe 6 per cent says Symbol. Cisco has already been sued by Wi-Lan and, with its deep pockets, is the obvious target for any form of royalty hunting. However, if it does not choose to pay up voluntarily, getting aggressive with the giant would also carry a serious risk for Symbol, since Cisco has greater resources than Proxim to fight the basis of the patent claims and try to get the recent rulings reversed. Proxim gave in largely because, to continue the legal battle, it would have had to post a bond for a large part of the $26m it now owes, and, given its recent financial tribulations, did not want that additional pressure. If Symbol decides, like Wi-Lan, to chase large numbers of vendors, it raises the issue, once more, of how far such actions will hold back the WLan market. While vendors have the right to defend their intellectual property, equipment makers could find themselves paying several percentage points in royalties on so many aspects of the product that it becomes price prohibitive to launch one at all. Symbol holds 702 patents. The one at issue here concerns power management in a frequency hopping environment and, according to Proxim, is a standard feature in every 802.11 access point. According to the recent jury decision, Symbol’s patent is only infringed at the point that a chipset is built into a system, so it will be the equipment makers, not the chipmakers, that are faced with demands for royalties, which Symbol is setting at 6 per cent. That could add up to a revenue stream of tens of millions of dollars a year. Symbol is keen not to be over aggressive and said it only resorted to lawcourts when Proxim “made an enormous effort to stop our licensing effort. They failed, and our entitlement to a six-percent royalty has now been tested and validated by jury and judge”, as Symbol's general counsel, Peter Lieb, told Techworld. Ironically, Symbol also expects to gain licensing revenues from some patents it has acquired from Proxim. The latter handed over some patents, also in the power management field, to reduce its royalty burden from 6 per cent to 2.3 per cent. These last until 2014, while Symbol’s own expire in 2009. Via’s WiMAX licensing program One company that has been active in trying to find a middle ground between inventors’ intellectual property rights and the rapid uptake of standards is Via Licensing, a subsidiary of Dolby. Earlier this year it proposed bringing 802.11 patent holders together in a unified system that would streamline the process of licensing Wi-Fi technology and collecting royalties. Now it is aiming to set up a similar scheme for 802.16. Via this week issued a call for essential patents related to 802.16, with the aim of identifying the owners of those patents that are “necessary for the practice of the IEEE 802.16 standard. Essential patents are understood to be issued patents that have one or more claims that would necessarily be infringed by the implementation or use of the IEEE 802.16 standard”. Via then plans to convene the claimants of these patents, to work out common and “fair” licensing terms. Such a process has the advantage, while not going as far as royalty-free standards, of at least making licensing more transparent to equipment makers. Pressurizing patent holders to show their hand upfront and agree on common terms removes the nervousness that many smaller players feel – as alluded to by Berners-Lee – that patent suits or royalty demands will appear unexpectedly and force a major shift in the business plan. The other main carrot is lower litigation costs, since the group will provide a one-stop shop for patent licenses, saving the holder having to get protection from each vendor individually. Via Licensing has created a business in administering licensing programs, or patent pools. It has formed similar groups for the MPEG 2, MPEG 4 and H.264 consumer electronics standards and in March branched out into Wi-Fi, with the aim of stemming a wave of destructive lawsuits that was rising in the 802.11 world – including those between Proxim and Symbol, Agere and Intersil, and Standard Microsystems and Wayport. Another development that may reduce licensing costs in wireless is the tendency of major players to offer their technologies royalty-free in order to encourage the adoption of their inventions by the IEEE. This has been particularly visible in the bitter battle to provide the 802.15.3a standard, based on UltraWideBand, with both contenders making promises of free technology if their platforms are adopted. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Second consortium unveils 'broadband Wi-Fi' proposal Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash Wireless industry intellectually challenged
Wireless Watch, 04 Oct 2004
Click here for the full BOFH range

BOFH tests the law of redundant supply

Episode 33Episode 33 BOFH 2004 Exciting times... It seems the power supply of our webserver crapped itself and, in an excellent example of superior technology, grounded the phase for the rack - which in turn tripped the breaker and took out all the non-redundant powered systems within. The PFY is on the job in a flash having seen exactly this type of thing many times before in kit from this vendor. (It's always reassuring to note that when a company merges with a company that in turn merged with the original hardware manufacturer, they still manage to incorporate the worst design features from the original product.) But I digress. "When's the website going to be up?" the Boss asks, sputniking around me madly. "Not sure," I respond. "It'll depend on how long the engineer takes to get here." "Can't you fix it?" "I could, but it would void the warranty - me not being a certified engineer and all." "Well, have you called it in?" "Just getting round to it," I say, firing up the systems page on the browser to get the serial number. >scratchey< >scratch< “Righto, Sorted." "Where are you going now?!" the Boss gasps as I get up. "Just getting a coffee and some lunch." "But it's only 11:30?!" "Yeah but I am planning on waiting on the line till they answer..." ..later that day outside the Boss' office.. "So how important is it that we get the website back online?" I ask. "Very!!" the boss blurts. "Ah!" "Why?" "I told them it was a severity three call." "That's good isn't it?" "Not really. Watering their pot plants is Sev-2, so I doubt they'll be here today..." "What?! Ring them back, change the severity!" "Well, I could try calling, but it's 4pm now and their call desk closes at five." "THAT ISN'T SERVICE!" "No, but it's only a web server." "Every minute the site's down we're losing money!" he gasps. "No we're not. We don't do any business over the web so we're not losing money! Had it been the Stocks trading server at this time of day though, it'd be a completely different story and half the company would be banging on your door.." "But the web's a valuable customer interface!" "If you're Amazon, or Sendit, but not if you're us. We're a web nothing! Baby seals get more hits!" Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I realise I may have stepped over a line here - if only in good taste. "I..." the Boss says, slightly deterred, "... but it's core business!" "Nah, that's just what the website company said. In reality, it could disappear without anyone noticing." "I think that's an overstatement!" "How much traffic does the website do on the average day?" I ask the PFY. >clickety< >tap< >tap< >click< "Hmm, about a meg. Including the index rebuild," The PFY responds. "And the index rebuild generates?" "Just under a meg." "So in effect, the loss of our website would have as much impact..." "As Karen Carpenter on a Salad Bar," the PFY says, joining me over this side of the line. "Well I still want it up!" the Boss snaps, liking the feel of an executive decision. "But the only way to get it up today would be to borrow the spare supply out of another server," the PFY suggests. "A more important server. We don't generally like to do it beca.." "JUST DO IT!" "Bu.." "GET IT DONE!" Five minutes and one large >clack< from the powerboard later. "What the hell's happened?" the Boss blurts. "The only similar power supply was in the Stocks and Tradings server, so I whipped that out to test if it would work, but the problem seems to be on the motherboard so it's cooked another supply," the PFY gabbles. "YOU USED THE REDUNDANT SUPPLY FROM THE STOCKS TRADING SERVER!" the Boss gasps. "No." "Oh thankgoodnessforthat!" "No it seems it wasn't redundant after all." "What are you telling me?" the Boss asks, paling slightly. "You can take the power supply out and the machine will work ok." "Yes?" "..for about five minutes, then it overheats because the cooling fan in the power supply is missing from the machine," the PFY finishes. "THAT'S BLOODY CRAP REDUNDANCY!" the Boss shouts. "Sort of. You see, there's a fan unit somewhere that you remove when you install the redundant power supply." "Then put it back in the machine!" "There's the problem, no-one knows where it is, and there's less than a minute left." "So what do we do?" "I'm going to check the stock exchange website to see what the company's holding in its system and get a printout up to the traders. You might want to grab the newspaper." "To check stock prices?" "Nah. The job pages. I foresee another crap redundancy on the horizon..." ®;;;;;;; BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 04 Oct 2004

Web to get dose of plain English

The Plain English Campaign is stepping up its war against linguistic obfuscation with a new campaign in association with ebiz outfit TechnoPhobia. The plan is to promote user-friendly websites which conform to the amended Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) of 1995. As of 1 October, the DDA requires, for instance, that job adverts on websites must - by law - be "available to people of mixed ability, whether they are able-bodied, have hearing or sight difficulties, or are suffering from any physical disability". Accordingly, the Plain English Campaign and TechnoPhobia have joined forces to "promote easily understood content for the web". The two allies reckon that too little is being done by "New Media" to get straight to the point. The Plain English Campaign's George Maher said: "When you are involved in writing for a website, you can become too fixed on the job in hand and it is easy to confuse users by slipping into industry jargon." The solution is simple: clean up your act and see if you can get a Plain English Campaign Internet Crystal Mark - the e-version of its respected print sign of approval. Why bother? Well, as TechnoPhobia's Pip Thorne puts it: "The business case for Plain English Campaign accreditation is obvious; if your website is usable and the content is easy to understand then it naturally follows that visitors will be more likely to convert into shoppers. The combined spending of the UK's disabled population is estimated to be in excess of £45 billion a year and an accessible site will allow purchasing on-line from a wider section of users." And there you have it. Less is in this case most certainly more. ® Bootnote We at El Reg have been known to indulge in a bit of the old IT-related banter with a smidge of jargon and a soupçon of obtuse lexicological flourish, so we decided to make amends by supporting this year's Plain English Day - due to be celebrated on 6 December. We are not at this point able to reveal just how this audacious initiative will work, but readers can rest assured that they will most certainly be pleasantly surprised. Related stories IT vendors talk rubbish: official IT firms use jargon to deceive More Net-speak enters Oxford English Dictionary BT's gibberish payment guide could cost you £193
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2004

Sex toy creates Oz airport pandemonium

A discarded vibrator at Queensland's Mackay airport caused pandemonium after cleaners noticed a rubbish bin humming in a suspicious manner, the Herald Sun reports. Cafeteria manager Lynne Bryant said: "It was rather disconcerting when the rubbish bin started humming furiously. We called security and next minute everybody was being evacuated while they checked it out." It was only after an hour that security declared the offending item nothing more than a "adult novelty device". It is not reported whether the authorities attempted to apprehend the person responsible for wreaking havoc with passengers' schedules. Presumably, they simply had to look for a smiling and chilled-looking woman among the screaming, terrorised travellers. ® Bootnote Thanks to all those readers who wrote to point out that we were wrong to assume that the miscreant who discarded this vibrating fun stick was a woman. Mike Robinson notes: FYI: The vibrator was discarded by a bloke who subsequently revealed (correct terminology?) himself to police on the scene at the airport. Best part of the drama was watching a member of the Queensland police force describe the incident, and the discarded device, on the evening news. We gather that the poor guy chucked the vibrator because he realised it would not get past security. Which is the right thing to do, of course - unless it's going to go off in a rubbish bin. We apologise unreservedly for assuming that it is only women who require the services of "adult novelty devices", and consider ourselves duly educated. Related stories Novelty farting dog sparks US terror alert Utah grounds low-flying Santa The Houston Airport Rangers
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2004
fingers pointing at man

Sage loses small business head

BriefBrief Accounting giant Sage has lost the managing director of its small and medium business division. Adrian Grace has left the firm to take up a job elsewhere, according to a Sage spokesman. Grace has been replaced by Jo Ray - she starts her new job today. Ray was previously marketing director at Sage. Usually such moves are heralded by press releases. but Sage is keeping quiet this time. A spokesman would only confirm that Grace has left and been replaced by Ray. ® Related stories IT industry warned over wasted money Sage co-founder goes to Glasgow Sage: more acquisitions ahead
John Oates, 04 Oct 2004
graph up

Sun signs Interface for Opteron dealer push

Sun Microsystems UK has signed up Birmingham-based distie Interface Solutions to wholesale Sun servers, desktops and workstations. The two firms will particularly target HP resellers by offering Sun AMD Opteron servers and workstations. Rob Tomlin, enterprise business manager at Interface Solutions, said Sun's relationship with AMD was an important part of the deal. He said: "We feel that Sun's X86 strategy based on its strong relationship with AMD, will enable us to break into new markets such as the public sector and finance. We will now be able to offer our customers a wide range of Sun Services which not only complement our existing portfolio..." Tomlin told The Register that Sun was looking for faster turnaround on its AMD Opteron boxes. He said: "We went to Sun about six months ago and things just clicked. We've recruited some people from GE Access and we think this is going to be a busy area for us." Gary Nugent, iForce partner and mid-market director at Sun, said the deal gave the company, access to "new markets in regions across the UK, bringing a great opportunity for growth and the chance to expand the Sun offering of Linux and StarOffice into previously untouched markets.” ® Related stories Kodak wins Sun Java patents case, wants $1bn Sun does Opteron can-can for French bank GE Access changes name
John Oates, 04 Oct 2004

UK gov ads warn kids of net perils

The government has announced a new radio and web advertising campaign which warns kids of the perils of the internet. The ads are launched today to coincide with Parents Online Week, and "reflect real life scenarios" to make young users aware of the dangers of net paedophiles. Paul Goggins, the Home Office minister charged with child protection, said: "Awareness of the dangers posed by paedophiles using the internet is extremely high among 11-14 year olds, but we know that despite this some children still put themselves at risk. We need to ensure our public awareness campaign continues to reach the right people with the right messages. "The case in Lancashire where a 'respected' family man groomed several young girls by posing as a modeling agent highlights the small but very real risk to children from paedophiles. We have used this as a scenario in one of our new online ads where a paedophile offers young girls the prospect of a modeling contract and asks them to go to his studio." Detective Inspector Neil Hunter of Lancashire Constabulary's Public Protection Unit added: "This incident in Lancashire highlights the dangers of young people engaging with individuals on the internet who they don't know and who claim to be somebody they are not. Lancashire Constabulary treat all offences of this nature extremely seriously and they are thoroughly and sensitively investigated by specially trained officers. "Young people should continue to use the internet safely and never reveal personal details about themselves or arrange to meet anyone through the internet without being certain who they are, and only do so with their parents' or carers' permission. Parents and carers also have a responsibility to take an active interest and establish who their children are engaging with on the internet." Kids and their parents can get some guidance at www.thinkuknow.co.uk. The ad campaign will run until the end of January 2005. ® Related stories Judge hands paedophile 10-year Net ban 102 UK kids saved from paedos Barnardo's calls for greater Net protection for children
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2004

SpaceShipOne claims X-Prize

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne appears to have today claimed the $10m Ansari X-Prize as the first private space vehicle to successfully make two trips to above 100km within a two-week window. The triumph came on the anniversary of the 1957 launch of Sputnik - the first man-made object to leave Earth's atmosphere. The craft was manned by test pilot Brian Binnie, rather than Mike Melvill who took SpaceShipOne to 102.8km last Wednesday. SpaceShipOne is the brainchild of aviation pioneer Burt Rutan and was constructed by the Paul Allen-funded Scaled Composites. It has a rocket motor which propels the vehicle vertically upwards after release from its White Knight mothership at around 14km. After skirting the edge of space, it simply "shuttlecocks" back through the upper atmosphere - a technique designed to reduce the craft's velocity and thereby remove the need for substantial heat sheilding - until it reaches an altitude at which the conventional controls become effective. SpaceShipOne then glides back to base. SpaceShipOne first flew to 64km on 13 June. On 29 September it made the first of its two X-Prize flights, exceeding 100km despite suffering serious roll during its vertical ascent. Today's flight appears to have passed without incident. Although some slight roll could be observed during the boost phase of the mission, it seems that Binnie managed to bring this under control before he got the "tumble dryer" treatment. The as-yet-unconfirmed figures say that the second flight reached 114.64km. The news of SpaceShipOne's success will be welcomed by all those would-be astronauts prepared to shell out substantial sums for the trip of a lifetime. British entrepreneur Richard Branson recently announced he would buy five scaled-up versions of SpaceShipOne to offer mere mortals a quick jaunt to the edge of space for £100,000. ® Related stories SpaceShipOne goes for X-Prize glory SpaceShipOne bids for X-Prize Virgin to offer space flights Rutan bagsies 'shotgun' in SpaceShipOne X-prize race hots up SpaceShipOne triumphs SpaceShipOne ready for go US edges closer to private space flight FAA greenlights private spaceship
Lester Haines, 04 Oct 2004

Lessig launches Creative Commons for the UK

Larry Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University and all-round intellectual property guru, was in London today to announce the launch of the UK version of the Creative Commons licence. It will be available for use from 1 November, and the public consultation on the final draft begins today. Comments are invited before 18 October. Creative Commons is designed to provide a balance between an entirely regulated digital world where "all rights are reserved, and then some", and a world with no controls, where authors have total freedom, but their work can be exploited very easily. The idea is that authors will be able to set out terms of use when they create their work. A creator can say at the time of publishing "I am happy for others to use this for anything they like, as long as it is not for commercial purposes", or "This work is totally available to everyone for commercial and non commercial purposes" and so on. This way ideas can be protected, but the author is able to encourage some other uses of their work. “The licence is built on a common insight which is not new,” Lessig told an audience of journalists, technologists and academics. “That is, creators are not pirates, even if they build on the past.” The idea has proven popular, and Lessig has persuaded many high-profile musicians (including the Beastie Boys) to release their content under a Creative Commons licence - it will be on the front cover of the next US edition of Wired, he told us. In the UK, the licence has been designed to fit in with the BBC’s Creative Archive project, a service whereby Auntie is putting her content in the public domain. “The enemy is not the corporations, and it is not the authors who want to make money from their work, the enemies are the lawyers who think there is only one way to protect creativity,” Lessig explains, adding that he isn’t totally against the idea of having lawyers, “I do produce them for a living, after all”. ® Related stories Germany debuts Creative Commons Copy-crippled CDs launch in UK, baffling Auntie Beeb Lawrence Lessig's birthday spam
Lucy Sherriff, 04 Oct 2004

PalmOne preps Bluetooth GPS bundle

PalmOne Europe has continued its push into the emerging market for PDA-based satellite navigation systems with two new bundles. PalmOne launched its first GPS package earlier this year, pairing its Tungsten E PDA with a wired GPS receiver. The first follow-up takes the same approach, combining a colour Zire 31 device with ViaMichelin's own bundle, which ViaMichelin's maps and MapSonic software, and a Kirrio GPS antenna. A dashboard mounting kits and an in-car power connector are included too. MapSonic provides the usual route-planning with spoken directions, 2D and 3D maps in both night and day colour schemes, and nearby places of interest alerts. The software also ties into PalmOne's own PIM apps, to use contacts' addresses as route-plan destinations. The low-priced £249 inc. VAT bundle provides region-specific maps including a variety of pre-loaded POIs. Extra POI data can be downloaded from ViaMichelin's web site, some of it for a fee, such as the €40 Michelin Green Guide. Alas, the bundle lacks the latest speed camera maps, though this can be downloaded free of charge, PalmOne said. Upcoming legislation may render the sale of speed-camera information unlawful, so ViaMichelin is playing it safe, we understand. The bundle also lacks a memory card on which to store map data beyond the route-specific information that can be transferred to the PDA's main memory. The second bundle, pairing the ViaMichelin package with a Zire 72 and a Bluetooth GPS antenna, includes the software and local maps on a 128MB SD card. Around 1m GPS receivers are expected to ship this year, up from 200,000 in 2002 and 100,000 in 2000, with the UK lying in second place behind Germany as the European nation most actively buying GPS solutions. In third place is the Netherlands. All three territories are actively targeted by Germany's Medion, which pretty much created the low-cost PDA-based GPS market. The Zire 72-based package should retail for around £349 inc. VAT. Both bundles will be shipping shortly, with the Zire 72 product likely to hit the market first. ® Related stories PalmOne unveils 256MB Flash drive T5 PDA PalmOne pockets a profit PalmOne 'Ace' Treo piccies leak out Mitac's Mio preps next-gen GPS PocketPC MS smart phones gain in-car nav kit Related reviews PalmOne Wi-Fi SD Card Tapwave Zodiac 2
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

Most songs on iPods 'stolen' - Microsoft CEO

It's official. All iPod users are music thieves - according to Microsoft CEO Steve 'Monkey Boy' Ballmer. "The most common format of music on an iPod is 'stolen'," he told reporters in London today, according to a Silicon.com report. Ballmer conveniently ignores not only that there are many non-Apple music players out there, on which there are probably as many, if not more "stolen" songs. He singles out the Mac maker for attention because - wait for it - "we've had DRM in Windows for years". The implication is that DRM hasn't been in the Mac OS for a similar duration, and that's what's allowed all those stolen tracks to seep through onto the web. Windows has, of course, also had Napster, Grokster, Streamcast, Aimster, Kazaa full and lite, et al for years, but - again - none of that Windows-only music theft apparatus has registered on Mr Ballmer's radar screen, it seems. No, there's no music piracy on Windows, and that's because Windows has had DRM for so long. People haven't been ripping CDs. They haven't been sharing the songs using Windows-based P2P software. And other folk haven't been downloading and transferring them to portable players. Clearly, all those shared tracks have just popped out of nowhere. Actually, it's a wonder Ballmer didn't accuse Apple of offering them itself. "Part of the reason people steal music is money, but some of it is that the DRM stuff out there has not been that easy to use," he said, pledging to reverse the trend with "easier, easier, easier, easier to use" code. Until Apple's FairPlay came along, of course, which is one of the reasons why its iTunes Music Service has become popular - the DRM system is as unobtrusive as a DRM system can be. Then again, Microsoft has been promising to offer easier to use DRM since at least 2002, as its then Windows Media Player wish list revealed. Yes, that's right WMP users want what MS wants, ie. DRM and more of it, please. Alas, even Ballmer seems to accept the inevitable. "Most people still steal music," he said. "We can build the technology but there are still ways for people to steal music." That should keep the iPod going for a little while longer then, eh, Steve? ® Related stories Ballmer cheers Apple's iPod with Monkey Boy Dance WMP users 'wish' for better DRM, wider takeup of WMA MS, Apple pitch music at mobile phone makers Sony Japan dumps lock-down CDs 3G chiefs choose AAC for mobile music delivery 9 out of 10 cats prefer CDs to downloads Microsoft tells music biz to 'back lock-down CD standard' Apple's Jobs 'offered iTunes team-up deal to Sony' Microsoft listens to the music
Tony Smith, 04 Oct 2004

Time to RAID PVRs, says Silicon Image

Silicon Image is looking to make dumb consumer storage devices a little smarter with the introduction of a new processor that adds sophisticated technology for protecting data to systems like Tivo. The company is using the fabled system-on-a-chip concept for its new SteelVine design. This basically lets a chip handle storage functions such as RAID, disk striping and making many disks look like one. Consumer device makers could plug the chip into their storage systems - media appliances or PVRs (Personal Video Recorders) - and give customers a bit more data protection. "Once you put a disk drive in those devices, the reliability of the device goes down significantly," said Steve Tirado, president of the storage division at Silicon Image. "That's means consumers could face some of the things they don't like about PCs. So we're providing a way to add storage in a reliable manner." Silicon Image's strongest pitch for the technology is that consumers may soon be hurt by their uptake of media storage systems. Cutting-edge users are dumping all of their family photos onto a box and then assuming the pictures will be there forever. The same can be said for movies or any other content someone spends a long time assembling and storing. So far, however, the collapse of a Tivo does not seem to be a massive concern. If media appliances become more popular, Silicon Image would appear to have a better case. All of your music, movies, photos and other content would be safely mirrored without you even knowing what is happening. Its technology adds a minor cost to consumer devices, so you're basically getting extra protection at no charge. "We took all of the software and management stuff that is quite complicated and crunched it down onto a chip," Tirado said. "To a Windows or Linux box, we look like a disk drive." OEMs can use the SteelVine chip to configure whatever data protection services they want. DirectTV, for example, could create a disk back-up system so that consumers' TVs don't go blank when the DirectTV box's disk crashes. Silicon Image is also hoping small- and medium-sized business might find its storage technology attractive. With that in mind, the company is rolling out a storage appliance called the SV2000. This system will be sold through VARs in a five-drive configuration, starting at around $3,000. This again should give small companies enterprise-like storage functions for a fairly low cost. ® Related stories Tyan aims four-way Opteron board at supercomp makers Netflix, TiVo sign VoD alliance How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved
Ashlee Vance, 04 Oct 2004