Pressure to get to market at the lowest possible cost means that much software is released too early and in an unfinished and untested condition. This, according to The Corporate IT Forum (tif), is the view of three-quarters of its members, many of whom are senior IT managers and directors across Europe. Although tif has around 3,000 subscribers, only 66 responded to this particularly survey, making it tricky to draw any solid conclusions from the results. Unless IT managers are a particularly homogenous breed, which is not something we are prepared to assume. However, the vast majority (we calculate there were only four dissenters) wouldn't expect software to be perfect on its first release, and would be happy if only proprietary code was free of known vulnerabilities. Terminal optimists, all. The other main gripe of the research posse is the tendency of IT suppliers to over-egg the pudding. This, they said, created false expectations around what it can accomplish, ease of support (47.5 people), ease of installation (46 people) and performance (43.5 people). According to tif, the findings indicate a "widening gulf between users and suppliers". Something must done about the "patch-and-mend" culture in software development. David Roberts, chief executive of tif, says the only way to address the problem is to get talking. "Corporate IT must not be a testing ground for unfinished products but it's not something that suppliers can fix alone - user attitudes and procurement processes have played a part in where we are today," he opined. "It is time to start working together more effectively if we are to have any hope of breaking the cycle of suppliers over-promising and users catching every sort of virus but a cold." ® Related stories One in three IT workers are Bill's Brit IT pros pessimistic on spending IT vendors lose that loving feeling
How about this for a business idea? Take a very useful service, like mobile phones, make it less good by making it one-way, like a walkie-talkie. Charge more for it. Make it jumpy, more expensive to run, and only available in half the country. Call it something baffling like say, push-to-talk, which is a pretty good description of what you do with a mobile already. And you have a killer wireless service, no? Orange may not be quite as ahead-of-the-game as they were in the Hans Snook leather-jacket-and-enema days. But even as a France Telecom-owned shadow of their former selves they wouldn't bring such a crazy project to market. Or would they? Orang's VP of Advanced Service Delivery, Frank Bowman, says it has a way to make push-to-talk work, and he wants to launch it everywhere from Guildford to Guadeloupe. “We have done the research and our customers tell us they want these services,” he says. “They have told us they are willing to pay for these extra services.” Orange launched its new-look push-to-talk last month to corporate customers. It hopes to repeat the considerable success of Nextel's push-to-talk (PTT) service from the US, based on Motorola's proprietary iDEN service, rather than the many abandoned trials and failed launches which have left many wondering what the point of PTT is anyway. Bowman is not talking in person, but in a pre-recorded video for a presentation by Orange’s technology provider, Kodiak Networks. Kodiak bares all The Kodiak technology is something of a back-to-the-future solution. Non-Nextel PTT projects have sent calls via IP over GPRS, which doesn't really have the bandwidth to handle voice traffic efficiently. Kodiak, however, sends PTT over old-fashioned GSM, so it has similar quality of service and latency characteristics of GSM voice. It runs anywhere there is GSM coverage, which is much wider than GPRS. It's even been built to be easy for the Feds to wiretap. Kodiak aims to bring the basic features that made the Nextel iDEN-based service a hit, such as very quick call set-up with no ringing. Kodiak quotes a figure of 1 to 4 seconds rather than 15 to 30 for ordinary GSM to set up a call. "The iDEN approach and the Kodiak approach are virtually identical from a technical point of view," says Bruce Lawler, Kodiak's VP of Business Development. Kodiak claims PTT brings Nextel an extra $18 a month of revenue from the average PTT subscriber. Kodiak has updated the Nextel formula with another layer of added features. These include instant messenger-style presence indicators, one-button upgrade to a normal two-way voice call and easy group calling. So an angry CEO can scream at his entire executive team with the push of a single button on his mobile. It's even been redubbed 'instant voice messenger'. Sagem, Alcatel, Nokia, LG and PalmOne have already signed up to develop Kodiak PTT-enabled handsets, and a Kodiak client can be downloaded onto existing smart phones. PTT is sold as a value-added service, with Kodiak's US customer, Alltel, charging between $5 and $20 a month for the privilege of using it. Blue collar devotees Like iDEN, Orange says that TalkNow trialled well in blue-collar industries such as logistics and construction, many of whom are already walkie-talkie devotees. White collar workers have also been receptive. Whether Orange will be able to reproduce the success of Nextel remains to be seen, but there may well be a niche for PTT in business. However, the consumer market may be a harder nut to crack. PTT is a tough concept to explain, let alone to charge for. Orange, once a pioneer of simple billing, would have to add yet another layer of complexity to monthly bills. "The kids haven't told us yet what they are really going to do with it," said Orange's Bowman. He foresees packs of fifty or a hundred kids hanging out at Piccadilly Circus, all PTT-ing each other. It may well happen. But if it costs teenagers £10 a month to be part of this nightmare vision, Eros can probably rest easy. ® Related stories Orange UK launches corporate push-to-talk Motorola brings push-to-talk to Wi-Fi Nextel vexes Verizon with $5bn spectrum swap
AMD's dual-core AMD64 chips will provide instructions compatible with Intel's SSE 3 technology, the chip maker announced at the Microprocessor Forum yesterday. SSE 3 debuted with the 90nm Pentium 4 processor, 'Prescott', in February 2004. So far, AMD's 64-bit processors support the original Streaming SIMD Extensions and SSE 2 through updates to the company's 3DNow! technology, but this is the first indication that the chips are to gain SSE 3 support. However, the Opteron will offer only ten SSE 3 instructions. Since the dual-core Opteron is based on AMD's 90nm Opteron, it's possible that this part, which is due to ship shortly, will also support SSE 3, as may the 90nm Athlon 64. AMD's Forum presentation also revealed the dual-core Opteron, which the company has already said is due to ship mid-2005, will contain 205m transistors. Its 90nm fabrication means that together, the two cores and ancillary circuitry will take up no more space than a 130nm single-core Opteron. The upcoming chip, which will have a 940-pin interface, will have a 95W power envelope. The two cores will together operate in a symmetric multiprocessing mode, so the OS sees them as two distinct processors. At this stage it's not clear whether they will also be able to operate asymmetrically, in order to run two operating systems, one per core, or two separate instances of the same OS. That's certainly going to be a feature of Freescale's upcoming e600-based dual-core PowerPC chip, and may well be the basis for Intel's upcoming Silvervale and Vanderpool partitioning and virtualisation technologies. Each Opteron core will contains its own 1MB L2 cache. The two cores connect to a combined system request interface and crossbar switch, and on to the chip's dual-channel 128-bit DDR SDRAM memory controller and three HyperTransport links. AMD said it has improved the chip's hardware pre-fetch sub-system. ® Related stories AMD heralds OS support for dual-core CPUs AMD to demo dual-core Opteron box AMD could ship a quad-core Opteron on 2007 Freescale to launch 90nm PowerPC G4 today Freescale to detail dual-core PowerPC G4 Intel to bring server-style virtualisation to desktop chips Intel admits Itanium pains, plots server future
Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion We're delighted to announce today that we have established a new Cash'n'Carrion merchandising email newsletter. This gives readers the chance to take advantage of discounted previews of new lines, exclusive offers and other tantalising apparel teasers. It's pretty simple - sign up here for our monthly mailshot and you will receive advance notification of all new products which will be pre-offered exclusively to subscribers at a discounted rate. You'll also get a headstart on drastic end-of-line reductions and special offers. For example, recipients of last month's first test shot had the chance to buy our new Big Reg Logo T-shirt at £11.48 (£13.49 inc VAT) - a 10 per cent reduction on the normal retail price of 12.76 (14.99 inc VAT) - and you can't say fairer than that. It gets better. For a limited period only, all new UK subscribers will receive a £20 Virgin Wines voucher which they can spend within a month at Richard Branson's viticultural tendril. Strings attached? You redeem the voucher against a case of wine, courtesy of Virgin Wines. Sadly, this offer is open only to UK readers, so our beloved international readership will just have to console themselves with getting the best possible offers on Reg kit. Sign up right now and you will receive your confirmation email forthwith. British subscribers will be able to immediately redeem the attached voucher. Offer limited to one voucher per reader. ®
UpdateUpdate To date, ATI executives have skirted around the issue of providing AGP versions of the company's currently PCI Express-only top-end graphics chips, neither confessing plans to release, say, a Radeon X800 XT AGP nor, more importantly, ruling it out. Currently, say company staffers, the AGP-based Radeon 9800 family is satisfying demand for high-end AGP boards. However, plans to bring the X range to the AGP world appeared to take a step forward this week when a "well-informed" source told X-bit Labs that ATI has developed a PCIE-to-AGP bridge chip, codenamed 'Rialto', to make such a move possible later this quarter. ATI has been firm in its stance that bridging an AGP-native graphics chip to the PCI Express bus makes no sense, but Rialto suggests it's less bothered about bridging a PCI Express-native chip to an AGP bus. The source's comment coincides with the suggestion from one ATI staffer that there's a likelihood that the company will offer an AGP Radeon X part. Of course performance will take a hit, but ATI presumably believes that there are users out there with AGP-based system who are as yet unwilling to upgrade to PCI Express but want the power boost the Radeon X range provides over the 9800 series. Indeed, the PCI Express upgrade market "really hasn't picked up yet", according to our source. By far the majority of PCI Express kit shipping is in the form of new PCs, rather than mobo upgrades and so on. This market may pick up with the arrival of AMD-oriented PCI Express chipsets this quarter. When Rialto-equipped parts ship isn't known. X-bit's source suggests this quarter, but that may simply mark the part's availability to ATI's board partners who may wish to target the AGP market. ABIT, for example, is believed to be preparing AGP versions of the X800 Pro and X800 XT for shipment this month, UK online retailer Overclockers.co.uk shows. ® Related stories ATI readies 'Radeon Xpress' Athlon 64 chipset ATI to unveil Athlon 64 PCIE chipsets 'this month' ATI unveils mid-range Radeon X700 ATI HyperMemory revives little-used AGP 2x feature ATI syncs audio, video with Theater 550 chip ATI unwraps All-in-Wonder X800 XT Nvidia to launch nForce 4 'next week'
UK mobile operators seeking billions of pounds in tax rebates on their 3G licences will have their case heard before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The operators claim that the cost of the 3G licences included VAT, and that they should be able to reclaim that money from the government. In total, the operators spent £22.5bn on the 3G licences. If this figure is ruled to have included VAT, the rebate will be worth £3.35bn. This is a tidy sum, no doubt, and would be most welcome in an industry still trying to work out exactly how to make these licenses pay. The case hinges on whether or not the UK government is deemed to have been engaged in "economic activity" when it licensed the spectrum; and this in turn depends on the definition of the word "telecoms", the Financial Times reports. The case was originally put to Britain's VAT tribunal last year, but has been referred to the higher court for clarification over whether the auction of the 3G licences should be defined as telecoms activity. Under the European VAT directive, public authorities, such as the government, are not normally defined as carrying out economic activity. The government argues that this means VAT was not paid on the licences. However, elsewhere, the directive states that a government can be defined as engaging in economic activity if this activity relates to certain specific industry sectors: one sector is the telecoms business. According to Paddy Behan, a VAT specialist at accountancy firm Grant Thornton, the meaning of the word telecommunications could decide the case. He told the FT: "If the operators' definition is accepted by the court, it is hard to see how they could lose." ® Related stories Intel, Symbian to define 3G smart phone 'standard' O2 shuns 3G hype Vodafone seeks punters for UK consumer 3G trial
Imagine this nightmare scenario: you and your Morris-dancing mates are in the minibus having just completed a seven-hour stick-bashing session at the Little Pizzle Cyder Fayre. Your throats are drier than a silica gel maker's handshake, the Hobby Horse needs the loo sharpish and the heavily-embearded driver has been struck by the sudden urge to sing acapella Norfolk oyster-raking shanties to an appreciative audience of folkies. The problem is, it's dark, you're lost and you've simply drunk too much cyder to read the map. What's your next move? Step forward the Good Pub Guide, which as of right now is offering to point you in the direction of the nearest approved hostelry for a mere 50p plus network charges. That's right - you simply text GOODPUB to 85130 and in a jiffy you'll receive the location of the most proximate public house as recommended by The Good Pub Guide 2005. What's more, if you've got a WAPtastic colour display mobe, you can access street maps which will lead you to liquid salvation. And it gets better. Reply to the original message within two hours with the word NEXT and you'll be sent details of another nearby inn - thus enabling the SMS pubcrawl. The service is offered in conjunction with iTAGG, which apparently uses triangulation to pinpoint your mobe's position to within one cell. Instructions are then dispatched accordingly. We have received assurances from iTAGG's PR representative that the company will not be offering a parallel service by which enraged spouses will be informed as to which pub their giddy partner is most likely to be at that moment warbling Scottish crofters' laments to a backdrop of lutes and bodhrans. ® Related stories London boozers offer beer via SMS Reg road tests the Wi-Fi pub 60 real ale pubs to get Wi-Fi IT company gives workers free beer - wins award
SiS will next month join ATI, Nvidia and VIA in becoming a supplier of PCI Express chipsets for AMD processors. November will see the company commence volume production of its SiS761 North Bridge, which will support a PCI Express x16 bus for the addition of an external graphics card. Following the SiS716, the company plans to offer the SiS761GX, an integrated part containing SiS' own DirectX 7 Mirage1 graphics core, according to a DigiTimes report. The GX is set to ship in Q1 2005. DirectX 9 support isn't scheduled to appear until Q3 2005, when the SiS770 goes into volume production. It incorporates the company's Mirage3 graphics core. The company is also said to be preparing for release in the same timeframe as the SiS770 a follow-up to the AGP-based SiS756. Dubbed the SiS756FX, the part is said to offer a Mirage1 graphics and a pair of external PCI Express x16 interfaces which can support two Nvidia SLI graphics cards. SiS' AMD PCI Express chipsets will follow Nvidia's nForce 4, ATI's Radeon Xpress and VIA's K8T890 chipset, all of which are due to ship later this month. ® Related stories SiS samples second Socket T chipset Nvidia to launch nForce 4 'next week' ATI readies 'Radeon Xpress' Athlon 64 chipset Athlon 64 PCI-E chipset here by end of year 'for sure'
Transmeta will launch an updated version of its 90nm Efficeon TM8800 processor later this year that supports Intel's SSE 3 instructions, the company said yesterday. AMD's 90nm 64-bit processors are set to support SSE 3 technology, which was introduced in February 2004 with the debut of Intel's 90nm Pentium 4 processor, 'Prescott'. Transmeta's move to add the extra x86 instructions to its own chips was probably rather easier than it was for AMD. Efficeon essentially emulates the x86 ISA in software coded for its native 256-bit VLIW core. Adding SSE 3 will have simply involved modifying that emulation layer. Transmeta began shipping the 90nm TM8800 early in September 2004, in limited numbers. The company expects volumes to ramp through the remainder of the year Fabbed by Fujitsu, the TM8800 currently clocks at up to 1.6GHz and includes an integrated 400MHz DDR SDRAM memory controller, HyperTransport bus (400MHz) manager and AGP 4x bus controller. It sports 1MB of L2 cache, and support Intel's MMX and SSE 2 multimedia instruction sets. It consumes 3W of power at 1GHz. The TM8800 also supports Windows XP Service Pack 2's 'no execute' technology - Transmeta calls it 'AntiVirusNX' - which prevents apps executing from memory set for data storage. Transmeta is known to be preparing an updated TM8800 capable of running at up to 2GHz, but in the past it said this part would ship in 2005. However, the part is expected to sample this quarter, and it's likely that it will be this 2GHz version that provides SSE 3 support. ® Related stories Transmeta ships 90nm Efficeon Transmeta shows working 1.6GHz 90nm Efficeon Transmeta pledges 'no execute' security support Transmeta sales grow as losses mount AMD dual-core Opterons gain SSE 3 support Intel ships 'execute disable' Pentium 4s
Those readers who are from the Garden of England™ - aka Kent - will be more than familiar with "Chavs". Or, if you prefer, Neds, Townies, Kevs, Charvers, Steeks, Spides, Bazzas, Yarcos, Ratboys, Kappa Slappers, Skangers, Scutters, Janners, Stigs, Scallies and Hood Rats. Our non-UK readership will have to bear with us for a moment while we direct you towards enlightenment in the form of splendid online resource www.chavscum.co.uk - a "user's guide to Britain's new ruling class". Yes indeed, here is everything you ever wanted to know about Chavs - two typical examples of which are pictured left - and a little bit more besides. Those without experience of the world of chavdom are directed first to How to spot a Chav, which explains it thus: Chavs have such a tribal dress code that you can spot one yards away! Now what makes the Chavs attire so funny is that they think they are at the cutting edge fashion and that by adorning their body with hunks of worthless 9ct gold crap they look rich! In reality what they do look like are a bunch of f**king pikeys! Yes, it's Burberry baseball caps, Nickelson polo shirts and sovereign rings we're talking about here. Nasty. Moving on, we learn that essential Chav cultural prerequisites are a mobile phone - the flasher the better - a 15-year-old Vauxhall Nova, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a healthy regard for Rap, R&B and Dance. Interested in embracing chavness? Well, get some pointers from chavscum's exhaustive list of celebrity Chavs, exchange tips with other Chavs, and finally, when the time comes for you and your partner to welcome a little chavette into the world, try the Naming your Chav baby service. This absolutely essential online resource informed me that: "Your new little girls name is... CRYSTAL KEELEY HAINES!!!" Bless. ® Oh yes, we nearly forgot - you'll need some Chav jewellery and home furnishings. Get yourself straight down to Argos and type "chav" into the search box. The results will certainly delight the wannabe Chav. Of course, Argos may not be aware of their contribution to the promotion of chavness, so here's a screen grab - just in case. ® Bootnote Thanks to all those readers who wrote to point out that the rather disappointing reason the Argos search offers chairs and chains is that it only uses the first three letters - cha - as already noted in the b3ta newsletter. A heads-up nevertheless to Neil Rickus who first alerted us as to these shopping opportunities. Ta very much too to the reader who complimented us on our up-to-the-minute news savvy, and asked: "Will you be reporting next week that Kennedy has been shot?" Shot? We'd heard he was going to Dallas, but... Related stories Sheppey, Chatham, Sidcup - the UK's triangle of fear Chatham Girls - the online user guide Welcome to Sheppey - the UK's fight capital
Europe's biggest mobile phone retailer, Carphone Warehouse, said in a trading update today that sales are up on the back of a 25 per cent leap in new connections. The UK-headquartered company, which runs over 1,300 shops across Europe, said that pre-pay connections were up by almost 30 per cent in the 13 weeks to 25 September, while contract subscriptions rose by more than 18 per cent. The total number of connections in the quarter came to 1.55m. Carphone Warehouse is paid a commission by mobile operators for each new subscription, with post-pay contracts especially lucrative. Ever-lower rates for mobile phone calls, and the availability of stylish and cheaper handsets, have driven the firm's success in recent months. "All of our core businesses continue to perform well and trading over the first half has been ahead of our expectations," said Chief Executive Charles Dunstone, who predicted interim profits to be £27m ($48m) more than current expectations. "The mobile market remains buoyant and we have achieved further good growth in both subscription and pre-pay connections." In the Republic, business has also been especially good this year, according to David Turnbull, retail director of Carphone Warehouse Ireland. "We are expecting our strongest Christmas ever," he added. Dunstone said that the firm's landline TalkTalk service was continuing to "dominate the UK CPS (carrier pre-select) market, leveraging the competitive advantages of the Opal network and our high street presence." Carphone Warehouse added another 137,000 TalkTalk customers in the period, taking its total to 648,000, which should allow it to meet its target of 900,000 by March 2005. TalkTalk enables subscribers to make free landline calls to other individuals who have signed up with the company. While the firm has recently expanded the service to Spain and Germany, Turnbull said that there are no immediate plans for an Irish TalkTalk launch. Sales of phones without a subscription, or SIM-free sales, rose by 36.8 per cent to 140,000 units. Fifty new stores were opened in the period, taking the total to 1,329, an increase of 154 over September 2003. Phone House Telecom, the firm's German mobile service provider, added 39,000 new customers over the quarter, taking the total to 747,000, representing year-on-year growth of 15.2 per cent. Overall, Carphone Warehouse's mobile customer base, including Fresh and FM operations, increased by 11.3 per cent to 2.08 million. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related Stories Dial-a-Phone hitches ride on Comet Tiscali UK in free calls offer Phone spam misery looms Stateside
eBay has asked an appeals court for a new trial over claims that its online auction house infringes patents held by Virginia-based MercExchange. After a month-long trial last year, a jury ruled that eBay's direct sales transactions, the "buy it now" option, did involve an already patented process. The court ordered eBay to pay $35m to MercExchange, a sum later reduced to $29.5m. eBay now says the jury had not been properly instructed at the time of its ruling, and that claims of patent infringement are unfounded. It argues that the MercExchange patent covers the transfer of ownership and that this part of a sale is not featured anywhere in an eBay transaction. Jeffrey Randall, acting for eBay, told the appeal court judges that although there was no agreement about the date of invention, the jury had not been properly instructed about exactly when Woolston said he developed his ideas. However, Thomas Woolston, patent lawyer and head of MercExchange, filed for his patent in 1994, a year before eBay was born. His legal representation countered that "the jury did not need to be instructed on something that is of no consequence", and called it a "red herring". Woolston originally claimed that eBay's main auction system was covered by his patent but this was thrown out by a judge. ® Related stories eBay 'second chance' fraud reaches UK Empress of eBay dethrones Queen Carly Microsoft FAT patent rejected
Fujitsu Siemens Computers had a good first half year with sales up 15 per cent between April and September to €2.56bn, compared with last year. Pre-tax profits climbed 60 per cent to €18m. Which is nice, but profits should be much bigger for a company of Fujitsu Siemens' size. Even if it is in the cut-throat computer hardware sector. Unit shipments for the mostly-hardware company were up 32 per cent for the first half, showing that average selling prices (ASPs) were down. Either that or the margin mix has deteriorated - i.e. fewer servers, storage monsters and ancillary services, and much more desktops and notebooks. By its own reckoning, Fujitsu Siemens outgrew the market in EMEA by eight per cent in its first half. So who is it clawing market share from? The firm is not saying. Also is the market-grab success coming at the expense of profits? Fujitsu Siemens is now five years old. It combines the European computer hardware businesses of Fujitsu and Siemens. Fujitsu operates on its own account in the rest of the world, while Siemens... does it have a computer hardware business outside Europe? Answers on a postcard, please. The firm forecasts five per cent revenue growth for the rest of the year (at current exchange rates) and ten per cent for the full year. It names mobiles, servers, and supporting services as "primary growth areas". Now for a quote from Bernd Bischoff, President and CEO of Fujitsu Siemens Computers. “We have shown healthy revenue and profit growth, and our company continues to outperform the market. We are nevertheless aware that competition remains very tough and that we always need to go the extra mile for our customers." ® Related stories Transmeta: 2GHz Efficeon to offer SSE 3 support Sun hypes new UltraSPARC and Siebel love Hitachi readies notebook Serial ATA hard drives Evesham Voyager 64 Athlon 64 notebook
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told resellers at the European Partner conference that anyone in danger of losing business to Star Office should email him and he would send in the cavalry. In a question and answer session after his closing speech a delegate asked what he should do faced with public sector customers interested in Star Office, Sun's budget rival to Microsoft Office. Ballmer replied: “Email me immediately and we’ll send in the cavalry. I’m joking...but I’m not. There is no reason to lose business to Star Office - it’s as good as what we were shipping seven years ago, it’s not compatible with Microsoft Office and it’s missing key applications like Outlook.” Ballmer said there was a perception that Microsoft was more expensive but they would happily take a Total Cost of Ownership test. He added that some governments talk about open source software being better - but that was something the company would debate. “You’ll get Microsoft people very interested very quickly, if not, tell me and I’ll get them interested very very quickly.” The Microsoft boss opened his speech by thanking partners for their work over the year, noting that the firm had seen the second best growth in its history for the fiscal year ended in June. He said Microsoft’s partner model would be “tweaked” but not face fundamental change. Ballmer said innovation would continue to drive the company’s growth but he did not rule out acquistions. Asked if he would consider a pay-per-use model he said customers rarely asked for it, and those who did were really asking for a lower price. But he said Microsoft was looking at metering technology for data centres where there is demand for systems to provide back-up or occasional use at peak times. Asked what new technologies particularly excited him Ballmer said: “Natural language stuff and speech recognition. Mobile devices which can use wireless and 3G networks will surprise people. And I’m very excited about interactive TV, admittedly I’ve been excited about it for about eight years but the market might be ready for it now.” When asked, at a separate press Q&A, what impact the firm’s ongoing fight with European Commission meant to partners, Ballmer said no partners had asked him about it. He blamed the success of Linux in the public sector on influential academics, who favour it because universities are Unix environments, and policticians reacting to “noisy constituents - and those Linux people are noisy.” Ballmer was also asked how he saw the future role of offshore development. He said the firm had small development centres in China and India, as well as higher cost locations like Denmark. He said it was not just about cost but skills - India and China produce more computing graduates than almost anywhere else. ® Related stories Most songs on iPods 'stolen' - Microsoft CEO Bill Gates stalks Nintendo - again Ballmer has seen the future, and it s Danish
T-Mobile has begun using 802.1x security to authenticate users logging on to its US pubic Wi-Fi hotspots in a bid to make it harder for hackers to obtain legitimate users' names and passwords. The move replaces the company's traditional web-based login system with an updated version of its own utility, Connection Manager, or software built into Windows XP and Mac OS X. Not only is the initial login more secure, but users' connections will now be encrypted. Traditional, web-based gateways control between the open WLAN and the Internet. This method was favoured because it didn't require the user to walk through a complex set-up process at each hotspot in order to ensure a secure connection. Even then, 802.11's Wired Equivalent Protection (WEP) security system is not the most robust of security standards. T-Mobile's approach allows the company to use the newer, much more secure Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security scheme to encrypt traffic flowing across the WLAN. Essentially, the 802.1x client code negotiates access through a dedicated encrypted link to T-Mobile's authentication server. If the user enters the correct username and password, the server tells the local access point to issue a WPA key to the client and from then on data is encrypted and access to the Internet granted - all in a highly secure form. T-Mobile will continue to support the older method, primarily to allows users with pre-WPA Wi-Fi kit to continue to use the service. Many corporate users will continue to connect using VPNs, of course, and T-Mobile said 802.1x logins will provide a further level of protection. But the company is more concerned with attracting business users who don't have VPN access but are nevertheless concerned about the lack of security at public hotspots - a key barrier to business' adoption of Wi-Fi, many observers believe. "CIOs across the country have been asking for enhanced security," said Joe Sims, VP and general manager of T-Mobile HotSpot. "The roll-out of 802.1x across our network will enable IT managers and business professionals to use T-Mobile hotspots as a more secure virtual extension of their corporate networks and offices." T-Mobile will initially add 802.1x to its US network, but the company indicated that it will bring the technology to its European locations in due course. ® Related stories Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards Linksys sends corporate WLAN standard home WLANs go feral in corporate undergrowth Reg road tests the Wi-Fi pub Don't price Wi-Fi to death, operators warned
IBM today announced that Websphere 6, the long awaited-update to its application server software, will be available by the end of the year. It has been two years since the last rollout, and IBM has used the time to stuff this next version full of new features. Websphere 6 has been designed to detect problems - like power supply issues or network glitches - and respond to them automatically. IBM says a downed server will now be available again within seconds, not minutes. The system should also be faster to restore. For example, if a server goes down, Websphere 6 will transfer any applications running to a fail-over server so that the transaction is not lost. Websphere 5 requires that the server be rebooted before the application can resume. If there is a bigger problem - like a blanket power outage, the software can move data via the internet to a totally different location. As well as protecting applications against downtime, Websphere 6 will provide better scaling, allowing more users to access an application at any one time. A drag-and-drop approach to automating laborious stages of application development will shorten development time, and should ease deployment, IBM said. ® Related stories PeopleSoft goes a bundle on IBM IBM Eclipses Linux IBM UK in running for £50k innovation purse
US wireless internet service providers have been hit with demands for hefty royalty payments from an intellectual property exploitation company claiming it owns gateway page redirection. Acacia Technologies last week began sending details of a patent it owns which details the process by which a WISP's servers redirect connected computers' browsers to a login page, Wi-Fi Networking News reports. The patent in question is 6,226,677, and was acquired by Acacia from LodgeNet. Granted in May 2001, the patent application was originally filed in January 1999, long before the Wi-Fi hotspot business emerged. Curiously, Nomadix, a company that sells network access control software to WISPs, announced earlier this year that it had been granted a similar patent, number 6,636,894. Nomadix' patent describes "systems and methods for redirecting users having transparent computer access to a network using a gateway device having redirection capability". Acacia's simply talks about "controlled communications over a global computer network". Essentially, they amount to the same thing, and since Nomadix' version goes back only so far as December 1999, Acacia has the potential to cry 'prior art', should the two firms come to blows. Acacia's patent simply describes page redirection. Nomadix' patent, which cites a number of other patents but not Acacia's, applies redirection to the specific task of garnering and processing login data in order to decide whether or not the user should be granted access to the Internet. Many WISPs weren't overly concerned with Nomadix' patent. Plenty use software like the code Nomadix offers, and they expected their own software partners to deal with any claims made by Nomadix. Only those who had developed their own redirect code needed to worry about licensing the technology. Acacia, however, appears to be targeting WISPs directly. According to WFNN's report, the company is demanding $1000 a year for up to 3500 redirected connections. Beyond that number, each redirected connection will levy a fee of 5-15c. However, the company claimed the fees need not put any hotspot owners' business at risk. "We think we set the royalties at a low enough level where it shouldn't have any affect on the market," Rob Berman, Acacia's executive VP of business development and general counsel, told WFNN. "These royalties should not affect anybody's business in a negative way." WISPs have 30 days to respond, he said. After that, anyone found infringing the patent could be liable for a patent violation suit. However, just as Acacia's patent pre-dates Nomadix' IP, so some WISPs claim to have been doing redirects even earlier, potentially grounds to challenge the validity of both patents. ® Related stories Nomadix patents Wi-Fi hotspot log-in tech Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash T-Mobile boosts public WLAN security Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards
A European indie music label is taking an unusual approach to the issue of CD copy protection - it is branding all its releases with a sticker proclaiming the absence of any such control measure. While the major labels and other indie labels are considering the use of copy-protected CDs in order to prevent disc contents being quickly ripped and posted on P2P networks, !K7 has rejected the idea. "Copy protection kills customer relationships," the label says on its website. "That's why, from now on, !K7 releases will carry a new logo: 'NO copy protection - respect the music." The company believes it's all a matter of trust. "Only those to whom respect is given show respect themselves," it notes. In other words, treat your customers as potential pirates and they'll soon tell you to f**k off and not buy your product. Such an outcome certainly appears to have prompted labels who once touted copy-protection technology to drop it. In September, for example, Sony Music Entertainment and fellow Japanese label Avex both announced plans to stop using CD lock-down mechanisms. !K7's approach is founded upon the principle that P2P downloads don't in fact represent lost sales - they're casual listeners who probably wouldn't buy its CDs in any case. That's not to say the company is happy with the P2P situation. The logo "makes it clear that you've bought a CD and you can use it however you want. It's also clear, therefore, that good music has a prerogative - it has a right to be treated with respect," it says, pointing to the quid pro quo: if we agree not to lock-down CDs, we expect you not to abuse the move. ® Related stories Sony Japan dumps lock-down CDs Microsoft tells music biz to 'back lock-down CD standard' Review: Macrovision CDS-300 version 7 beta Macrovision: iPod support for lock-in CDs in Q4 Macrovision preps '99% effective' CD lock-in tech BMG to punt cheap, no-frills CDs Lock-down CD scores No.1 hit Big guns board Intertrust DRM bandwagon Most songs on iPods 'stolen' - Microsoft CEO Intel, MS and co. to tout copy-friendly DRM tech BMG to punt cheap, no-frills CDs
Computer Associates (CA) is to acquire Netegrity, a computer security firm in an all-cash deal valued at $430m, or $10.75 per fully diluted share. The deal sees the company add to its security product portfolio, following the $50m purchase of anti-spyware firm PestPatrol, this August. CA last week announced 800 redundancies in cost-saving moves designed to give it more room to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy. Some jobs are to go at Netegrity too, although CA says it will retain the majority of the company's 400 employees. Officially a merger, the agreement is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. CA expects it will close the deal in 90 days, and claims the support of 10 per cent of Netegrity's voting shareholders already. Computer Associates recently settled with the US Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission over a $2.2bn accounting fraud, which saw sales booked too early as revenue. It is paying $225m restitution to shareholders. ® Related stories CA to shed 800 workers CA's Kumar pleads not guilty to fraud Former CA chief Kumar indicted as firm coughs up $225m
Last month Trend Micro, the anti-virus firm, recorded a six-fold increase in malware compared to September 2003. It detected 1,485 new items of malware last month, compared to 250 new types of malicious code in the same period last year. TrendLabs attributes the increase in malware to a change of motives among virus writers. Previously VXers were looking for their 15 minutes of fame; but now they are more interested in making money. Trend points to the increased prevalence of malicious code designed to create 'zombie' networks, also called botnets. These can be auctioned off to the highest bidder to execute denial of service attacks or to use as spam relays. TrendLabs has seen successive releases of information-stealing trojans which try to obtain personal information, such as bank details, from infected users. TrendLabs reports that 'Trojans' now account for 61 per cent of all malware detected; 79 per cent of worms in September were 'bots'. This is a significant jump from last year - when only 17 bots were detected, compared to more than 400 between 25 August and 25 September 2004. Trend also records the emergence of the first JPEG virus in September, and notes that the most damaging variant of the Sasser worm - Sasser-B - is still prevalent four months after its first appearance in the wild. ® Related stories P-cube goes hunting for zombie PCs Rise of the Botnets Telenor takes down 'massive' botnet Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs Virus writers add network sniffer to worm Viruses up - or down JPEG exploit toolkit spotted online Microsoft warns of poisoned picture peril
Whatever pleasantries once existed between Sun Microsystems and Red Hat have vanished. This won't come as a shock to many of you. The companies have been jawing in the press for some time. The extent, however, of Sun's loathing for Red Hat is more profound than many imagine, with Sun's CEO Scott McNealy largely confirming a shared attack with Microsoft against the Linux vendor.
Novell today announced the November release of SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2, described as an all-in-one Linux product suitable for both Linux newbies and technical enthusiasts. SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2 will come with latest open source functionality, including 2.6 Linux kernel enhancements and the KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.6 desktop environments. It will also make it easier for users to get online while they're on the move with simple system configuration and support for Bluetooth and wireless LANs. Improved power management through ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) and suspend-to-disk features will make computing easier for laptop users keen to run the popular open source OS. SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2 will ship with more than 3,500 packages including office, internet, email and multimedia software, server services for home networks and development tools. The OpenOffice.org 1.1.3 office suite will come as standard along with Novell Evolution 2.0, the latest community edition of the Linux email and personal information client. Additions include also include GIMP 2, an image processing and graphics creation tool, and Nvu, a web authoring system. A selection of commercial software, including full versions of the text processing application TextMaker, spreadsheet application PlanMaker from SoftMaker and full-version backup software sesam from SEP, will be included in the release. A demo version of MainConcept's video editing software, MainActor 5, also comes bundled with SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2. Further YaST installer improvements include greater security via the automatic activation of a firewall after installation and a redesigned user interface to permit easier setup of SAMBA, DNS and DHCP servers. Users will be able to run SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2 on both standard 32-bit PC processors as well as 64-bit platforms (AMD Athlon 64 and Intel Extended Memory 64-based systems). Novell said SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2, which will come with installation guides and 90 days support, will ship in early November with a retail price of $89.95 (€89.95). ® Related stories Novell reaffirms open source strategy Linux poised for move from data centre to desktop - report Novell takes SuSE Enterprise Linux to the next kernel Novell announces SuSE Linux 9.1
LinuxWorldLinuxWorld IP Telephony systems based on open source technology will eclipse revenues from Linux over the next two years, a leading open source guru predicted today. Jon 'Maddog' Hall, president of Linux International, told delegates at the LinuxWorld conference in London today that open source VoIP technology, such as Asterisk, would take the market by storm. He said systems based on Asterisk would be up to ten times cheaper than proprietary IP PBX (softswitch) products from the likes of Cisco and 3Com. Mick Balma, worldwide strategy and planning manager at HP, said that the use of open source technology on embedded systems, such as consumer devices and networking kit, was growing rapidly. Low costs and easy customisation are making the use of open source technologies such as Linux on embedded devices an attractive option for developers. ® Related stories VoIP to transform telecoms market Ofcom sets out stall on VoIP IP telephony tests go global FCC approves taps on broadband and VoIP New York warms to VoIP BT shaves a quid off VoIP service Corporate VoIP to challenge Skype VoIP will be US broadband killer app
LinuxWorldLinuxWorld The BBC demoed an early version of an open source codec it hopes will give proprietary video technology a serious run for its money at the LinuxWorld exhibition today. Dirac, currently alpha software, can deliver equivalent results using only 50 per cent of the bandwidth needed for video files encoded using the MPEG-2 format, according to its developers in the BBC's research and development division. The codec is aimed at a wide range of applications including streaming media and storage of video content. Lead developer Dr. Thomas Davies said that the BBC wants to collaborate with the open source community and academics in the further development of the technology. Dirac is a general purpose video codec which uses wavelets, motion compensation and arithmetic coding techniques to achieve what Davies described as the most advanced open source codec ever developed. Davies said the codec could live on anything from mobile phones to high-definition TVs but not before a lot of further work is completed. For one thing, Dirac doesn't currently work in real-time. Davies also reckons that the compression offered by the technology could be further optimised. The BBC is working on integrating the technology with its other systems, but the corporation would welcome more help in developing Dirac. The technology - first conceived more than three years ago - is scheduled to go into beta within the next 12 to 15 months. By that point the BBC hopes the technology will be integrated within a number of video players such as windows Media Player and QuickTime. Dirac is being released under the Mozilla Public License 1.1. Davies said the BBC had taken care to make sure the technology could be taken up by the community without entangling developers in patent disputes. Dirac is far from the BBC's first foray into open source development work. Other current open source projects include development of the Material eXchange Format (MXF), a mechanism of exchanging multimedia data. ® Related stories DiVX to move 20 million CE devices by Christmas UK reseller unveils 'video iPod' BBC develops 'alternative' codec Open Source Windows replacement, MPEG coming out of the East Real opens source but keeps its crown jewels