15th > October > 2004 Archive

Apple iTunes tops 150m downloads

Some 150m songs have been downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store, the Mac maker has announced. And, just in time for the upcoming festive season, the company said it was now selling its gift certificates through BestBuy stores across North America. The certificates are already available at Target stores and Apple's own retail outlets. The BestBuy deal is something of a snub for rival online music company Napster, which in June 2004 paid the retail chain $10m to promote its download service. The deal was never an exclusive, and BestBuy continued to sell iPods. Now it's effectively reselling iTunes songs. But back to the 150m total. Apple finally crossed the 100m mark in July. So it's taken roughly three months to increase that figure by 50 per cent, a sure sign that iPod sales are pulling punters to the online store. Apple sold over two million more iPods in the three months to the end of September. The figures are also a sign that RealNetworks' lure of cheaper songs and their translation into an iPod-compatible form didn't achieve much from a competitive standpoint. Real's 49c song offer lasted three weeks, and yielded 3m downloads - 1m a week. Conservative calculations put Apple's average weekly total during the period at over 3.8m a week. We'd like to compare other services' performance, but none have made their figures public. Apple this week said its weekly average has risen to over 4m songs, helped no doubt by HP's arrival as an iPod and iTunes reseller, though that will inevitably limit the Mac maker's revenues. At this rate it won't make the 200m mark in the 11 remaining weeks of 2004, but Christmas iPod and gift certificate sales should push up the figures post-25 December, and there'll be plenty more people buying iPods and songs for themselves in the meantime. ® Related stories Apple profits leap as iPod sales rocket Apple iPod grabs 82% US retail market share Apple punts prizes as iTunes nears 100m-song target Apple misses iTunes sales target by 30% Dixons offers Napster UK pre-pay cards Napster pays BestBuy $10m to promote music service
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

Netflix delays UK launch

Netflix is synonymous with online DVD rental, but its pioneer status hasn't been much help in fending off ferocious competition Stateside. On worse than expected US figures, stock crashed by 35 per cent and the company said it's cutting fees and delaying its UK launch. All this despite turning in its best ever profit: $22.6m after adjustments, on revenue of $141.6m. Blockbuster's entry into Netflix market was the catalyst for the changes, with Netflix reporting higher than expected churn. But a lack of a long-term competitive strategy hasn't helped either. Netflix hiked its basic monthly fee (for three DVDs at a time) by $2 to $22 in July, but yesterdays' cut takes it down to $18. The cost of acquiring a subscriber has risen by five dollars over the past year: to almost $37. In anticipation of Netflix's debut, some of the UK biggest online DVD rental companies have merged, with Movietrak and Qflicks tying the knot in July, followed by Screen Select and Digital Island in August.® Related Stories Netflix, TiVo sign VoD alliance TiVo and Netflix 'team for movie downloads' Screen Select and Video Island get spliced UK DVD rental firms merge Tesco offers online DVD rentals
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Oct 2004

PeopleSoft begged for earnings help

PeopleSoft asked its key customers to pony up early for large software buys in a bid to make its earnings look stronger than they might have been. PeopleSoft's CFO Kevin Parker this week gave the gory details on the company's aggressive moves to offset Oracle's takeover bid during testimony in front of a Delaware court. Most telling, the CFO stated the company "had asked certain customers to accelerate their deals," according to a report from CNET. PeopleSoft hoped to make its second quarter '03 results come in higher than they would have without this prompting. PeopleSoft, in court, also defended a 2004 earnings per share estimate of $0.94 even though earlier internal documents showed the company expected earnings per share of $0.69. The software maker considered the higher figure an "honest overestimate" that was a result of possible cost savings that could be achieved when PeopleSoft acquired J.D. Edwards, CNET reported. Oracle has pulled PeopleSoft into court, hoping to cancel out the measures PeopleSoft has taken to block hostile takeovers. PeopleSoft held a meeting with HP's CEO Carly Fiorina that resulted in a contract being signed in the second quarter and forged a deal with IBM that quarter that saw IBM receive unusually favorable financing. ® Related link CNET's coverage Related stories PeopleSoft defends poison pills Oracle vs Peoplesoft Customer views from PeopleSoft Connect OK, so Ellison is not a sociopath... Peoplesoft, Siebel predict rosy Q3 Oracle asks court to remove PeopleSoft poison pills Peoplesoft sacks Craig Conway
Ashlee Vance, 15 Oct 2004

Sharp to ship world's first HDD-based PDA

Sharp will next month ship its latest Zaurus PDA into the Japanese market, the consumer electronics company announced this week. The device will be the first PDA to sport a hard drive. The Linux-based SL-C3000 adopts the clamshell casing of Sharp's other Japanese PDAs, with a flip-around display reminiscent of Sony's high-end Cliés. The unit weighs 298g. The new model is based on a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor backed by 64MB of SDRAM and 16MB of Flash ROM. Crucially, the unit also features a 4GB hard drive - the first PDA to do so. The Sl-C3000 sports a 3.7in 640 x 480 LCD mounted above a QWERTY keypad with a five-way navigator control. There's written text input too, with Kanji and Western character recognition. Unlike Sony's PDAs, there's no wireless on the Sharp model, only infra-red. There's an SD and a CompactFlash card slot for expansion, so there's scope to add Bluetooth or Wi-Fi later on. There's also the usual USB port for connecting the device to a PC, and an earphones socket. Will we see the C3000 outside Japan? It seems unlikely at this stage. Sharp ships its traditional tablet-style PDA, the Wi-Fi-equipped Zaurus SL-6000, in the US, but has never brought it to Europe. Indeed, it canned Zaurus sales over here a few years ago. The company no doubt reviews the market regularly, but so far there's nothing to suggest that it might return to the European market, despite the fact that here, unlike other established hi-tech territories, PDA sales are on the rise. Meanwhile, the Sl-C3000 will go on sale in Japan on 10 November. ® Related stories Sharp ships Linux Wi-Fi PDA in US Sharp confirms next-gen Linux PDA specs Sharp preps upgraded, rugged Linux PDA Sharp goes clamshell for new PDAs Sony unveils Wi-Fi multimedia Clié
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

NetSuite's new offering joins up the dots

AnalysisAnalysis Over the past few years, CRM implementations have come in for much criticism, especially in the elusive area of ROI. This has caused many companies to re-evaluate their technology implementations and heralded the success of new services delivering CRM functionality over the web – rather than making expensive technology investments. One company that has sprung up with such an offering is NetSuite, which entered the European market in earnest about one year ago. NetSuite offers an integrated suite of CRM, ERP and e-commerce technology, all delivered over the web as services. But NetSuite is not talking about the trend for web services. According to Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO, web services provide the communications layer that allows data and services to be presented to customers – but that can only work properly if the underlying data is accessible. According to Nelson, one of the fundamental problems with many CRM systems is that they tend to focus on managing sales pipelines and forecasts, rather than on managing the front-facing customer interactions and transaction history. Rather, in many cases, that data resides in ERP systems and it is problematic to link that directly, in real time, through to data relating to the web site front end. That leaves many companies with gaps in their records, unable to effectively gauge which customers have bought what, how it was shipped, and whether or not they have paid for the goods received. NetSuite believes that it has solved this problem with its one-system architecture – linking back-end data with customer-facing applications through integration of all data into one system. This allows companies to move from managing sales prospects to the ongoing task of effectively managing customer relationships by actively using intelligence gathered on customers to provide a better customer support experience. Nelson explains that it has been a long, hard struggle to get the functionality of its technology to the point where it is today. And the fact that the vendor has just released version 10 of its offerings shows just how mature its solutions have become. According to Nelson, version 10 is a gigantic release across all of the components that NetSuite offers – CRM, ERP and e-commerce functionality. Nelson points to a number of highlights of the new version 10 release, which he refers to as ‘fantasy features’ – that is, functionality that most systems cannot achieve because they are fragmented, with actionable data not natively residing in the business applications and therefore of limited use. He points to the following highlights of the release: Real-time business intelligence – Nelson states that the functionality of NetSuite’s offering now not only allows information to be displayed in real time, but has active agents that can mine databases in order to anticipate customer needs and desires. It uses behavioural intelligence on multiple levels to see, for example, how many people have visited the site and from which URL they were referred – by customer, contact or whatever factor a company wishes. Nelson claims that this places deep, rich analytics right at the heart of a CRM system. Automated upsell – this feature allows companies to mine their entire customer base in order to statistically correlate what they are interested in and what they have bought with suggestions as to what further products they would like to buy. With just one click of the button, this is available to all employees involved in customer service and sales within an organisation. In addition to these, there are a host of new features in all of the applications offered – ERP, CRM and e-commerce. Having originally aimed its products at SMEs, Nelson claims that NetSuite’s products are increasingly seeing take up among larger companies and version 10 has been built out to specifically answer some of their more advanced needs. For such companies, regulatory compliance with laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley is of over-riding importance – and having all data natively residing in one application, rather than pulled from another system such as ERP, is a large step forward towards there being no single point of failure in any data systems. But that is just part of the story – all companies today are looking to purchase technology and services at an affordable price. This is a suite of applications that all companies should consider in their evaluations. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories NetSuite moves up the food chain Oracle waves goodbye to NetSuite
Fran Howarth, 15 Oct 2004

Hydrogen-powered cars creep forward

Fuel-cell-powered cars moved another step closer yesterday with the announcement that a group of British scientists have developed a material that can safely store and release hydrogen. Although fuel cell technology is reasonably well developed, scientists have struggled to find a way of storing enough hydrogen fuel to make them viable alternatives to petrol engines. However, the breakthrough that the Liverpool and Newcastle team has made could change that. It has developed a nanoporous material into which they can load highly pressurised hydrogen. However, once the gas is stored in the pores - nanometres across - its pressure is lowered considerably. Professor Matt Rosseinsky of the University of Liverpool's Department of Chemistry, described the material as "a molecular cat-flap". He explained: "After allowing the hydrogen molecule - the 'cat' - in, the structure closes shut behind it. The important point is that the hydrogen is loaded into the materials at high pressure but stored in them at a much lower pressure - a unique behaviour." Professor Mark Thomas, of Newcastle University's Northern Carbon Research Laboratories said that the breakthrough, published in the journal Science, was a proof of principle. He explained that although it will need further development to make it suitable for powering a car, it is an important step towards the reality of environmentally-friendly power. ® Related stories Stinky socks get nanotech makeover Scientists suck hydrogen from sunflower oil Nanotech aids green hydrogen production
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2004

US air traffic control open to attack

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to examine computer security at air traffic control centers around the country, following a government audit that found the systems insufficiently secured against cyber attacks. Auditors found that the FAA hadn't adequately secured computers running at the 20 "en route centers" that direct high-altitude traffic nationwide. "While having limited exposure to the general public, en route center computer systems need to be better protected," reads the report, dated 1 October. The assessment comes from the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General, in a yearly cyber security review required of all federal agencies under the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). The review covers all of the Department's components, but singles out the FAA for special attention as custodian of the nation's air traffic control - considered a "critical infrastructure" by presidential directive. Auditors' other major complaint was that the FAA's security certification process was "limited to developmental systems located at FAA's Technical Center computer laboratory", and overlooked the systems once they were deployed. "FAA needs to commit to reviewing all operational air traffic control systems - at en route, approach control, and airport terminal facilities," the report reads. The FAA's IT security also suffers in close inspection. "For example, we found that FAA checked vulnerabilities on major computer servers but not on end-user computers," reads the report. "As a result, tens of thousands of workstations on its networks have not been checked for vulnerabilities." "FAA... needs to make certain that it follows through aggressively to implement corrective actions in order to prevent the security program from deteriorating into a significant deficiency next year," the report concludes. Computer security issues have dogged the FAA since 1998, when congressional investigators first reported on pervasive weaknesses in the air traffic control network, and claimed to have found evidence that some systems had been penetrated and critical data compromised. In 2000, a GAO report criticized the FAA for not performing background checks on IT contractors, failing to install intrusion detection systems, and not performing adequate risk assessments and penetration tests on agency systems. In 2002, hackers penetrated an administrative FAA system and downloaded unpublished information on airport passenger screening activities. "The FAA has made significant progress in its information security program," said agency spokesperson Tammy Jones. "We do concur with the Inspector General's report that more needs to be done, so we continue to work on our systems." The agency says it will perform security certification reviews of all operational air traffic control systems within three years. It will also develop a contingency plan to restore essential air service during a prolonged disruption at an en route facility. Though not mentioned in the report, last month the public got a harsh glimpse of the havoc such a disruption might cause when the computer controlling a sophisticated radio system crashed at the Los Angeles Enroute Air Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, California. Controllers were unable to communicate with aircraft for three hours, resulting in hundreds of flights being grounded and five cases of airplanes drifting closer to each other than safety regulations permit. The Los Angeles Times reported that the outage was the result of a worker neglecting to perform a monthly reset of a Windows-based control system, resulting in its automatic shutdown after 49.7 days of operation. A backup system also failed. Copyright © 2004, Related stories The IT security vuln league table of fear US cybersecurity czar quits Hardware appliances to rule security roost
Kevin Poulsen, 15 Oct 2004

Reg road tests the BioNav™ in-car nav wonder

Let's face it - you're no-one these days unless you've got an onboard satnav system in your motor - preferably one that speaks, can guide you to any location to within one centimetre and will tell you when your road tax has expired. Indeed, so impressed were we by the ALK CoPilot Smartphone - as recently reviewed by Tony Smith on a fearless transnavigation of the mean streets of London - that we decided to look into other technologies designed to make your transition from A to B as pain-free as possible. Step forward - literally - the state-of-the-art BioNav™. According to which press release you read, the BioNav™ was either three million years in the making, or knocked up from raw materials in a couple of minutes. Whichever is the case, it's a truly extraordinary piece of technology, comprising millions of moving parts packed into a tactile leather-effect case. In keeping with the current trend to offer kit in a range of colours, the BioNav™ comes in a virtually limitless palette of pleasing tones from black to white and is available with any international language preloaded. Our challenge for the BioNav™ was a short hop from the centre of Colchester, Essex, to a out-of-town supermarket in Ipswich, Suffolk. The route - encompassing both urban and dual-carriageway sections - was challenging enough for the system without streching it beyond what could be reasonably expected. The journey is about 20 miles. We allowed one hour. Installation The BioNav™ is completely self-installing. Simply indicate the vehicle, and it will make its way to the passenger seat without further prompting. Getting started Depending on the route, the BioNav™ may already have the optimum course pre-programmed, or may require the data to be inputted in real time. In the former case, users should note that the BioNav™ memory banks degenerate over time, so it's as well to check that it's confident of the chosen route. In the latter, geographical information can be provided via a road atlas or folding map. Planning your route The BioNav™ is programmed to find the best way to your destination. If the chosen course seems convoluted, it is simply because the system is making complex calculations designed to avoid bottle-necks and snarl-ups. If you do not agree with the BioNav™'s analysis, it is largely pointless to protest. After all, the system will argue, if you know better why don't you navigate yourself? Impeccable logic. Alerts The BioNav™ hardware is designed to alert the driver as to approaching junctions, turn-offs, etc. Interestingly, while the system is pretty effective at low speeds, velocities over 50mph may adversely affect its ability to issue adequate warnings. So, when asked on a fast section of the A12 where the turn-off for Ipswich was, the BioNav™ replied: "We just passed it." The user-nav interface Naturally, overshooting the required junction on a dual carriageway can mean a lengthy detour to reacquire the desired route. This can prove frustrating, but users are strongly advised not to berate the BioNav™ in any way. Strong language delivered at high volume simply confuses the system further - often to the point where it cannot distinguish left from right. This glitch may manifest itself while coming up to a roundabout. Further angry comments will result only in total system crash - instantly recognisable by the BioNav™ throwing the road atlas on the floor, crossing its arms and adopting a resolutely silent and sullen stance. Rebooting The only effective method of rebooting a BioNav™ is to pull over at the side of the road and suggest that it might like to walk the rest of the way. Invariably results in full and immediate restoration of navigational capabilities. Verdict Our test vehicle eventually reached Ipswich after three hours. To be fair, the BioNav™ had not travelled the route for more than three weeks, and so could not be expected to recall every minor detail of the course, such as the general location of Ipswich or the major carriageway which goes there. We found that while the BioNav™ is initially free (you can't buy them in the shops - you just sort of bump into them in pubs and clubs or at work) the long term maintenence costs can be high. Even an undemanding model may cost £5,000 a year, but a top-of-the-range designer offering can set you back £15-20k per annum. On the plus side, you may find yourself warming to your BioNav™'s foibles. Indeed, many owners bond with their BioNavs™ for life. It may not be able to read a map for toffee but hey, who said technology was perfect? ®
Lester Haines, 15 Oct 2004

Rambus sales, earnings rise on royalties

Memory technology developer Rambus saw last year's XDR licences start to pay off during the third quarter of its 2004 fiscal year, the company reported last night. Q3 yielded revenues of $38.8m, generating income of $10.4m. Both figures mark sequential and year-on-year gains. Revenues were up 10.0 per cent on Q2 and 35.7 per cent on Q3 2003, from $35m and $28.6m, respectively. Earnings rose 25.3 per cent and 108 per cent over the same periods, from $8.3m and $5m, respectively. Cash and equivalents fell $13m to $219m, much of the drop going into a $11.1m cash payment for the purchase of "certain serial link patents and cells" from Cadence. The company also bought back $7.6m worth of its own stock. The $5.7m discrepancy between the loss to the cash reserve and the total spent was covered by operating cash flow, Rambus said. Q3's revenues were driven by ongoing royalties: $30.5m, up 24 per cent on Q3 2003 and three per cent on Q2 2004. Those royalties came primarily from the XDR memory technology - aka 'Yellowstone' - licences Rambus signed with the likes of Samsung, Toshiba and Elpida during 2003, it said. Another defining factor in Rambus' Q3 numbers was the cost of litigation. The company's cost of operations rose 15 per cent sequentially, from $22.2m to $28.1m. Some $1.9m of the extra expenditure was due to an "increase in litigation expense", Rambus admitted. Rambus is currently fighting memory maker Infineon, with both companies sueing each other. Rambus also has lawsuits in action against Hynix, Micron and Siemens, Infineon's former owner. It alleges they conspired to prevent Rambus' RDRAM competing fairly in the market. It wants a total of $1bn in damages from them all. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is appealing against its own administrative judge's ruling that the organisation has no case to back its claim that Rambus acted fraudulently in its dealings with JEDEC, the memory standards organisation, during the development of the SDRAM specification. ® Related stories Rambus stock falls 13 per cent on appeal failure Rambus sues for $1bn FTC outlines appeal against Rambus ruling FTC appeals against Rambus ruling Judge throws out FTC case against Rambus Rambus offers DDR controller cores Rambus renames Yellowstone as XDR DRAM
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004
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BOFH: Seek, locate and destroy

Episode 35Episode 35 BOFH 2004 There are times in a professional Systems Administrator's life when he must ignore the opinion of Managers and even cast aside the sage advice of his assistant. For from his experience he knows what all others do not - that this is a pivotal situation with issues at stake that others are unaware of. In these situations, the professional administrator shines out, weighing up his practical experience and taking the burden of decision (and possible blame) upon himself - The Bastard Operator's Manual It's one of those times. It's dark - almost pitch black thanks to a cleverly disabled switchboard - and I'm outside a prison camp with my MP5. And I'm annoyed... "Switch off Night Vision and creep up to the Guard Box!" the Boss whispers. "No," the PFY counters. "The Proximity Detector's off, no-one's there! Keep night vision on, do a circuit of the Camp to eliminating any guards, THEN switch Night Vision off, and enter through the main tower!" "Sssh!" I murmer, flipping on the Sniper Scope and looking around the camp. BINGO! Guard standing beside the far tower... Playing Ghost Recon during work hours isn't an approved work activity, but it certainly draws the crowds and passes the time. The entertainment provided by a Quick Mission during a slow period can only be devalued by the input and distraction presented by others. I decide on the unsubtle approach to the tower problem... >BZerrrrrt!< >BZzzzzzerrrt< I wheel the recently cattleprodded PFY and Boss into the corner of the room, returning to my desk to find that I've lost a team member. Suppressing the urge to give them another zap for the inconvenience, I get back to the game... I sneak up to the Camp doorway as the proximity detector comes on. I slowly creep around the corn... >RING!< The game's interrupted by a phone call from HR. "Systems," I say on hands free while creeping up the Prison Camp steps. "The helpdesk say I have to talk to you about a file problem, they can't help me - it's something to do with a space problem on the Server." "Which means you'll need to delete some files to free up space." "But we need all our files!" "When the disk space runs out, it runs out. It's what we call a finite resource…" "Can't you do something?" "Well I could delete all your files for you?" "I... uh.. No.." "Ok, nice talking with you then!" I get back to the game and am creeping into the Camp with the phone rings again. The tiny distraction of looking at the caller ID display is all that's required for me to lose another man >BOOM< to a grenade launcher. "YES?" I snap. "Uh, it's me again. The helpdesk said that maybe you can archive some material from the server." "Did they? Well sure, just slap it into a folder called 'DELETE ME' and I'll back it up for you." "Don't you mean 'Archive Me'?" "Yes, of course - my mistake, I was distracted." "And when can you have that done by?" "The stuff in the 'DELETE ME' Folder?" "No The 'Archive Me' Folder!" "Yes, right! Ahh.. I'm copying it over now." One drag-and-drop later… "Is it done?" "You betcha!" "Ok, Thank... Was that the trash bin emptying noise?!?!" "No no, that was something else. Bye now." I'm in the prison camp and am half way to the prisoner's compound when THE BLOODY PHONE GOES AGAIN! The Boss and PFY are no help, still being in half-stupor (although the PFY twitches slightly as >Boom!< I LOSE ANOTHER MAN TO THAT BLOODY GRENADE LAUNCHER!) "YES?!" "Sorry, I need to revert to the first version of the file I was working on, which is in the Archived folder. Can you bring it back online please?" "Sure, but it's on tape, so it'll take a day to recover." "You just deleted my files before didn't you?" the user sighs, "and now you're going to recover them from backup tape - aren't you?" "No…" "So you did archive them?!" he gasps. "No." "But you said they weren't on backup tape either." "No, I said I wasn't going to recover them. But they are on backup tape and NOT on archive." "Well how do I get them back?" "You'll have to speak to my assistant." "Can I speak to him?" "He's Incapac… >BANG!< BUGGER IT TWO DOWN!. You'll have to ring back later!" >slam< The remains of my team make it through the prison camp gates and I progress slowly through the camp eliminating my opposition, which has a strangely calming effect on the annoyance I felt moments ago. It's almost enough to… >RING!< >BOOM!< "Yes?" "Just ringing back to tell you that you don't need to recover that file after all, I just undid all the changes I'd made and it's all worked out. Hey, was that an explosion sound? Are you playing games..... Hello? Anyone there...?" . . . It's dark - almost pitch black thanks to a cleverly disabled switchboard - and I'm in the HR stairwell with my cattleprod. And I'm annoyed... I reach up to the fire alarm breakglass... ® BOFH 2004: The whole shooting match BOFH 2003: Year Book BOFH 2002: A Reader's Digest 2001: A BOFH Odyssey BOFH 2K: The kit and caboodle BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 15 Oct 2004

US plugs into power-line broadband

US telecoms regulator - the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - has given the green light for operators to provide broadband over power lines in a move which it hopes will increase the availability of high-speed net access and increase competition. In a ruling yesterday the FCC said it wanted to "encourage the development of Access Broadband over Power Line (Access BPL) systems" while ensuring that the technology does not interfere with other devices. It added: "By facilitating access to BPL, the commission takes an important step toward increasing the availability of broadband to wider areas of the country because power lines reach virtually every home and community. In areas where consumers already have broadband access, BPL can enhance competition by providing another broadband alternative." In the UK, Southern Electric is one company that is already offering broadband over power cables. The service costs from £19.99 a month for a 150k service although availability is limited. ® Related stories Punters stay away from Winchester Powerline BB trial in droves Endesa's power line broadband coup Power cable broadband trial goes live today Powerline broadband pilot nets 200 trialists Scots BB over power lines trial goes commercial
Tim Richardson, 15 Oct 2004

Intel readies updated 90nm Celeron cores

Intel's programme to upgrade the cores of its 90nm 'Prescott'-derived processors will continue with the Socket 478 Celeron line-up, it has emerged. The chip giant will ship low-end chips based on the E-0 90nm core on 20 December, according to documents seen by The Register. As with other D-0 to E-0 upgrades - most recently of the Pentium 4 and Celeron chips based on the 775-pin Socket T infrastructure - the new Socket 478 Celerons will be pin-compatible with their predecessors and gain "power optimisations to enable speed enhancements", according to Intel's documentation. Interestingly, while the E-0 upgrade has brought support for Windows XP Service Pack 2's 'no execute' anti-virus feature to the 775-pin P4s and Celerons, this does not appear to be a facility Intel is going to tout with the updated 478-pin Celerons. Neither does is appear to be doing so with the E-0 Mobile P4, which was scheduled to have shipped on 1 October. The E-0 478-pin Celerons, clocked at up to 2.93GHz, should arrive after Intel has begun shipping E-0 Xeons, currently scheduled to take place on 29 October. ® Related stories Intel decides speed matters less these days, kills 4GHz Pentium Intel delays Xeon E-0 core update to 29 October Intel ships 'execute disable' Pentium 4s Intel to add NX security to Pentium 4 in Q4 Intel to update 90nm Mobile P4 core
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

Corel snaps up Jasc

Corel has acquired Jasc software, the company responsible for the Paint Shop software range, for an undisclosed sum. The company indicated the deal was the start of a new growth strategy, saying that other acquisition deals are "on the horizon". Corel will add the Paint Shop Pro, Paint Shop Pro Studio and Paint Shop Photo Album products to its portfolio, and says it will invest in the R&D needed to create the next generation of the Paint Shop software. Amish Mehta will stay on as CEO, and several members of the Jasc senior management team will join Corel. He commented: "The Paint Shop family gives us strong entry level graphics and imaging software products that will help Corel capture millions of new customers." The acquisition, which will officially close at the end of this month (October) means the company now has around 60m customers. It takes Corel further into the consumer imaging space, a market for which analysts predict a very rosy future. Globally, sales of consumer digital cameras are expected to grow at an annual rate of 20 per cent, and over half (55 per cent) of those sales will be accompanied by the sale of digital imaging software, according to InfoTrends research. Corel was taken back into private ownership in 2003, when it was bought out by San Francisco-based venture capitalists, Vector Capital Group. ® Related stories Kodak blames digital cameras for jobs cull Hewlett-Packard: a wannabe Kodak? Adobe proposes universal digicam 'raw' image format
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2004

6m South Koreans exposed in slam and spam scam

South Korean police want to question 15 mobile phone workers and brokers over allegations they traded the personal information of an estimated six million people in the northeast Asian country. The group netted 360m South Korean Won ($314,0000) by allegedly selling the personal details of an estimated one in five of south Koreas 30m net users. Police are still investigating exactly how the group obtained the sensitive data but some details are already emerging. The Chosun Ilbo reports that seven of the accused sold the data on 920,000 mobile phone store customers to a telemarketing company in July. This information - name, mobile phone number, email address and type of cell phone used - was used in attempts to get consumers to switch mobile operators or sign up to broadband services. One of the suspects made an alleged 130m Won ($114,000) through the ruse, with the telemarketing firm pocketing between $52 and $130 for every successful sale. One suspect sold email addresses of consumers to porn spammers. The same broker allegedly sold data on five million mobile users to operators and shopping malls, the Chosun Ilbo reports. The paper reports that three suspects have already being arrested by police investigating the alleged crimes. Police have put one of the chief suspects - president of a marketing company - on their wanted list. ® Related stories South Korea mulls spam curfew N. Korea bans mobile phones South Korea leads the way on 3G (even though it's 2.5G) Spammer charged in huge Acxiom personal data theft
John Leyden, 15 Oct 2004

Exabyte slashes media costs

Storage ExpoStorage Expo Tape drive pioneer Exabyte reckons it has worked out why it doesn't have much market share anymore - its media was too expensive.
Bryan Betts, 15 Oct 2004

The risks of remote back-up

Storage ExpoStorage Expo If you're shopping for remote back-up services or software, make sure the storage behind it is up to the job, because choosing the right hardware is not as simple as it might seem.
Bryan Betts, 15 Oct 2004

Colourful US PC company calls it quits

Controversial US PC vendor Liebermann has shut its doors. According to an open letter to customers posted on the company's web site, it is "no longer in a position, from a financial standpoint, to continue doing business". "[With] a lack of investors, venture capital groups, angel investors, or someone to take a solid founding interest in us... it has become very difficult for us to proceed," the company bemoaned. "[We] never managed to attract the attention of individuals, companies, experienced management teams and organisations interested in investing and establishing a financial partnership." In short, with no backers and - by the sound of it - too few customers, the company has simply run out of cash. This despite "the thousands of emails that are coming in on an hourly basis, expressing [site readers'] encouraging thoughts". Indeed, the company said it must now "liquidate our assets in support of our financial responsibilities". That means ensuring existing orders are fulfilled, the company said. No new orders are being accepted, it added, but promised to maintain technical support and driver software updates for an undisclosed duration. Liebermann was launched in September 2003 and immediately drew fire for its website's blatant imitation of Apple's, not to mention the Apple-like approach to the styling of its PC products. Its descriptions of products were a sea of new technology brand names and a ocean of trademarks. The company's fondness for hyperbole and florid language is well displayed in its (farewell?) missive: "Like no other has such a small company managed so to quickly to be so inventive and groundbreaking and like no other has a young business in technology so rapidly reached the minds and hearts of so many people from all parts of the globe and capture their imagination." No wonder some of the more hard-boiled PC buyers took an immediate dislike to the company. Indeed, Liebermann engendered scepticism for the apparently wild claims it made about its products' capabilities. Some bloggers even concluded the whole thing was an elaborate hoax - particularly after the company announced its four-panel monitor. And the company's collapse comes while it was on the verge of shipping a number of new systems - all due for a Q4 2004 release, according to the website - including a line of high-performance small form-factor PCs, a 5GHz personal super computer, a 64-bit Media Center PC and a Xeon-based dual-processor notebook. Liebermann claims to have working prototypes, but alas it now appears they will never see light of day. However, many of Liebermann's claims were not without precedent or beyond the bounds of possibility. A case in point: its November 2003 announcement of a notebook based on Intel's desktop-oriented Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip was widely scorned - until Dell announced one of its own three months later. And a number of US journalists of our acquaintance claim to have received evaluation units from Liebermann and found them not too shabby. So too have Register readers who say they bought product from the company. Liebermann said it is "studying and exploring all possible venues to keep this venture alive and renewed", so they may yet get a chance to do so again. ® Related stories PC maker puts P4 Extreme Edition into... notebooks Dell unveils Pentium 4 Extreme Edition notebook
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

JetGroove culls songs as music biz says 'cease, desist'

Controversial music download site JetGroove has removed more than 50,000 songs from its database after receiving cease and desist requests from the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) and its UK wing, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The move comes after it emerged that the website had contacted the UK's Association of Independent Music (AIM) "this summer" with a view to opening negotiations to secure a licensing deal. According to AIM sources, no agreement had yet been reached by the time JetGroove went live with a 'beta' site earlier this month. That launch prompted numerous complaints to the BPI and AIM from British independent labels who discovered their material listed on the site without authorisation. Those complaints prompted a BPI and IFPI investigation of the site, which in turn resulted in their demand that JetGroove pull the song listings. While JetGroove was not offering unauthorised songs for sale - a move that would clearly have got it into very hot water with international anti-piracy bodies like IFPI - it was nevertheless offering streamed previews of those songs. JetGroove's scheme was to list the songs, measure demand for them, then approach their copyright owners with a view to licensing the tracks for sale. The strategy allowed JetGroove to list a huge selection of songs - over 500,000, it claimed - but only spend money on licences when demand reached a sufficiently high level. Attempts to purchase an unlicensed song presented buyers with a 'this track is not yet available' message. However, by jumping the gun on its negotiations with AIM, JetGroove landed itself in trouble. Its song previews, depending on their duration, require licensing just as much as selling the tracks do, and it's this alleged copyright violation that the BPI and IFPI have used to stamp on the site. Whether JetGroove simply failed to appreciate that previewing a song can be just as much a copyright issue as selling it, or something more sinister has been going on, isn't known. AIM and the BPI both said they are keeping their minds open on that point. Either way, JetGroove has proved more than a little economical with the actualité - the BPI said today that 50,000 songs had been removed from JetGroove's listing. Our check revealed only 750 titles listed this morning. Together, both figures fall far short of the 500,000 claimed in a press release dated 5 October. According to the BPI, JetGroove is based in Moscow with servers maintained in the US. Some material is hosted on servers in the UK and continental Europe, The Register understands. The organisation warned that while it is satisfied that the songs currently available on JetGroove do not infringe its members' copyrights, it would keep the site under surveillance. Meanwhile, an AIM spokesman confirmed that the organisation remains in "correspondence" with JetGroove. "They appear keen to seek a licence from our members," he said. However, it's clear the company's 'beta' launch and what it itself admits is the "confusion" surrounding its actions, have left UK indie labels sceptical of its claims. We will see how negotiations progress. ® Related stories MP3 music service draws industry fire Russian 5c MP3 site 'unlicensed' Love DRM or my family starves: why Steve Ballmer doesn't Get It iPod owners very honest, not thieves at all, says MS Most songs on iPods 'stolen' - Microsoft CEO How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved 9 out of 10 cats prefer CDs to downloads Is SunnComm a sham or the next, big DRM success? Music biz should shift to flat-fee, P2P model - industry exec
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

Electronic underwear warns of heart attack

Electronic underwear sensitive to fluctuations in the wearer's heart rate has been developed by the Philips Research facility in Aachen, Germany. The garment will automatically call emergency services when necessary, for example if the wearer suffers a cardiac arrest. This represents a considerable advance on the mobile phones which tell you when you're having a heart attack, as you don't have to hold the underwear in front of your heart for it to work. It also represents a step up from the current portable elctrocardiograms, as it does not require electrodes covered with electrolytic gel to be stuck to the wearer's skin. These can be uncomfortable if worn for long. The device uses sensors woven into the fabric of the underwear. These detect electrical fluctuations on the skin, which are used to tell how rapidly and with what force the heart is beating. It also records activity and stress levels, both important factors in determining a person's risk of a heart attack. However, an obstacle for the developers is the need for software to distinguish between increased heart rates due to stress or physical activity. The reasoning behind sticking a monitor into underwear is twofold. Firstly, it is not intrusive or noticeable - so-called "Ambient Intelligence" in which electronics do not intrude on the users' everyday lives. Secondly, the sensors must remain in contact with the skin and tight-fitting underwear allows this. The British Heart Foundation welcomes the development, but suggests that trials are needed to identify any unforeseen problems. These are being planned, says project leader Koen Joosse. ® Related stories ESA commissions super spacesuit Is it a bra, or an anti-mugging device? Mobile phone can save you from a heart attack
Robin Lettice, 15 Oct 2004

China jails four for running mucky site

Four men have been jailed for peddling porn as China continues to wage its war against online smut. The four men - Liang Hongbin, Li Yufei, Yu Jianhong, and Chen Dong who are all in their twenties - have been jailed for between 12 months and two-and-a-half years. According to state media, the men rang up a profit of 16,000 yuan (£1,070) during the couple of months their site was online. During that time it attracted some 16,000 hits as punters paid to watch mucky movies. Ever since China began tough line on porn in the summer, some 445 people have been arrested and 1,125 web sites have been shut down. What's more, officials have handed out around 2,000 yuan (£133) in rewards to people snitching on illegal sites. Last month a 22-year-old Chinese computer student known only by his surname Xie was jailed for four years for running a porn site. Earier, Wang Yanli was jailed for four years for running an online strip joint. She is believed to be the first woman to be banged up behind bars, following China's tough new stand against internet pornography. China's XXX clampdown is meant to halt the "rampant" increase in online porn that the Government believes is damaging the moral fabric of the nation - and young people in particular. One official said that porn "severely damaged social style, polluted the social environment, and harmed the physical and psychological health of the young people". ® Related stories Chinese IT student jailed for running XXX site Pornsters face life in China smut crackdown China jails woman in porn crackdown
Tim Richardson, 15 Oct 2004

Four charged in landmark UK phishing case

Four eastern Europeans appeared in a London court yesterday charged with defrauding online banks of hundreds of thousands through an elaborate 'phishing' scam. The two men and two women from Russia, Estonia and Ukraine are allegedly leading members of a gang that siphoned cash from ebanking accounts after conning consumers into handing over confidential banking details. Russian Olga Borissova, 31, Ukrainian Vitalij Kirilenko, 34, and Estonians Liiv Ravino, 30, and Teni Terje, 25, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud financial institutions and a single laundering charge at a hearing in Bow Street Magistrates Court. Bail was refused for all four. A preliminary hearing at Southwark Crown Court has been scheduled for 21 October. Police are on the lookout for three other eastern European suspects, arrested as part of the same investigation, who have gone on the run. Officers from the UK's National High-Tech Crime Unit are leading the case, which it describes as "the first time in the world charges relating to phishing have been pressed" in court, the Financial Times reports. Scam emails that form the basis of phishing attacks pose as 'security check' emails from well-known banks. These messages attempt to trick users into handing over their account details and passwords. The collected details are used to engineer fraudulent transfers. First seen in the UK approximately a year ago, phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated, directing users to bogus websites which accurately reproduce the look and feel of legitimate sites. Industry organisation the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) has noticed a reduction in growth of phishing and a greater use of malicious code (often including key logging and Trojan) components in fraudulent scams. Earlier this month the banking industry launched a website (banksafeonline.org.uk) designed to warn consumers about the risk of phishing attacks. APACS reckons phishing scams have netted 2,000 UK victims over the last year resulting in losses of £4.5m. ® Related stories UK police arrest 12 phishing mule suspects UK police arrest copycat phisher DIY phishing kits hit the Net UK police issue 'vicious' Trojan alert UK banks launch anti-phishing website
John Leyden, 15 Oct 2004

Dell to ship iPod Mini rival next month

Dell launched its anticipated iPod Mini challenger, the Pocket DJ 5, yesterday, along with an updated version of its higher-end model in matching livery. The Pocket DJ 5 provides 5GB of storage, measures 8.8 x 5.3 x 1.3cm and weighs 125g. Dell hasn't given much else away: the DJ 5 will cost $199 in the US, and supports Windows Media 10 and MS' 'Plays For Sure' initiative. So too does the new 20GB DJ 20, which is a thinner version of the older DJ line, decked out in a new, silvery shell. It will retail for $249 and, along with the Pocket DJ, goes on sale in November. ® Related stories Archos unveils 20GB iPod Mini-sized player Creative unveils 5GB Zen Micro Virgin unveils 5GB mini music player Apple iPod grabs 82% US retail market share Creative, Dell prep iPod Mini rivals Dell recalls 4.4m notebook power adaptors Dell launches Axim X50 wireless media PDAs MS PlaysForSure - GoneForNow ? Related reviews Toshiba Gigabeat F 60GB Sony Vaio Pocket VGF-AP1L digital music player
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

Archos unveils 20GB iPod Mini-sized player

French media player maker Archos has launched what may the world's smallest 20GB hard drive-based music player. The Gmini XS200 measures just 7.6 x 5.9 x 1.9cm and weighs 120g. That's comparable to Apple's iPod Mini, Dell's Pocket DJ 5 and Creative's Zen Micro - all of which offer a storage capacity that's a quarter or a fifth of the size of the XS200's. The downside is that it's less attractive that the other players, the display's a basic 2in, 128 x 128 job and the UI aesthetics aren't anything to write home about, but you can't argue with the capacity and the size. Or the price: €300 (£206/$371) - €29-49 less than the 20GB iPod, depending on which continental European country you buy it in. However, the device's rechargeable battery is capacious enough for only ten hours' continuous playback. Supporting MP3, WAV and WMA files, the XS200 hooks up to a PC or Mac via a spare USB 2.0 port. The device supports on-the-fly playlist creation, and even sports an on-screen virtual keyboard for renaming files and folders. Archos did not say when the XS200 will ship beyond the fact that it's "coming soon". ® Related stories Dell to ship iPod Mini rival next month Archos ships video, audio, gaming handheld Archos launches modular MP3 player Creative unveils 5GB Zen Micro Virgin unveils 5GB mini music player Apple colour-screen 'PhotoPod' said to be in production Sony apes Apple with coloured music players Toshiba tilts digital music player line at iPod
Tony Smith, 15 Oct 2004

US science alliance eyes artificial retina

Nine US research institutions, including five of the Department of Energy's (DOE) laboratories, have forged an alliance in a bid to speed development of an artificial retina. The deal specifies that all institutions involved in the programme will share any intellectual property rights and resulting royalties. In this way, the architects of the agreement hope to encourage free sharing of information, ideas and results. Second Sight Medical Products, the only private company involved in the alliance, will have a limited, exclusive license for inventions that come out of the work. Spencer Abraham, US Secretary of Energy, said: "This project is one such example where biology, physics, and engineering have joined forces to deliver a capability that will enable blind people to see. This agreement between the DOE laboratories and the private sector will facilitate transfer of many aspects of DOE technology to a clinical device that has the potential of restoring sight to millions of blind individuals." There are several conditions that could be treated with an artificial retina: age related macular degeneration, for example, or retinitis pigmentosa, a condition where the neural connection from the eye to the brain is intact, but the eye's photoreceptors - the rods and cones - are inactive. The prosthetic retina is a miniature disc with an electrode array that is implanted in the back of the eye. It works much as you would expect: it captures visual signals with a small video camera sited on a pair of glasses, converts them to electrical impulses which then stimulate the optic nerve. The first prototype contained 16 electrodes, and the detail it could provide the wearer was naturally limited. The first of these was implanted. The recipient had been blind for fifty years, and can now differentiate between a knife and a bowl, for example, and can see large letters. The version currently in pre-clinical trials will have between 50-100 electrodes, but the research agreement is to develop a next generation device that will have 1,000 and would allow the wearer to see actual images. ® Related stories Electronic underwear warns of heart attack UK gov urges science to engage with public Scientists call for nanotech caution
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2004

Schools, patents and the future of Linux

Open source activists need to get Linux into schools if Windows' pre-eminance on the desktop is ever to be seriously challenged, a panel discussion at LinuxWorld conference in London last week concluded. StarOffice is offered free to schools and has made significant progress as an alternative to Microsoft Office. But Windows remains "entrenched" in schools, so children have no opportunity to get to know alternatives. Vendors on the panel gave mixed responses about their companies' interest in introducing open source technologies into schools. Brian Green, director of Linux at Novell, said that it intending to unveil a spectrum of initiatives to push Linux, adding that details will come later. But Adam Jollans, worldwide Linux strategy manager at IBM, said that Linux on the desktop is still leading-edge. Jeremy Allison - who heads up HP's Samba team - pointed that it would be difficult for vendors to make a profit from pushing Linux into the classroom. He said if people wanted to effect change they needed to do it at a local level. This might not be straightforward, however, with members of the audience pointing out some schools would be reluctant to accept Linux boxes even if they were given away free. Steve Hnizdur, technical director at consultancy Netproject, said only be when Linux comes pre-loaded on boxes in PC World will it reach the mainstream. Where do you want to go tomorrow? Vendors on the panel were asked about their plans to develop their open source offerings over the next 12 months. Red Hat VP Michael Tiemann said it would focus on directory products, ID management and "stateless" Linux. Novell's Green said that 2005 would be the year of Linux on the desktop. "Linux in data centre become mainstream at expense of Sun," he added. IBM's Jollans agreed that the release of the 2.6 kernel would help take Linux into the "enterprise heartland". HP's Mike Balma predicted that Linux would make great inroads in the telecoms arena. A Sun representative begged to differ that Linux was pushing proprietary Unix technologies towards oblivion. Patently absurd Participants in the debate warned that proposed European patent legislation poses a severe risk to innovation in open source development. The introduction of US-style patent laws in Europe needs to be resisted before current proposals become set in stone, panellists said. A European directive on patent could be finalised by the end of the year. LinuxWorld delegates were urged to lobby their MEPs and MPs on the subject. HP's Allison described patent law as a "blight on innovation". "Patents become a legal game for large companies to crush small. It's too late in the US, but there's a chance to fight [proposed patent laws] in Europe," he said. Red Hat's Tiemann added that although in the US we have to "live with how the patent cake is baked" the battle in Europe was far from lost. Some companies, such as IBM, have promised not to prosecute open source companies but other organisations may be far less scrupulous, he warned. Earlier this week Novell promises to use its own patents in defence against any legal threat to the open source technologies it markets. ® Related stories Novell to defend against open source IP attack Sun: MS truce clears way to open source Solaris Microsoft hoovers millions from UK schools update Linux poised for move from data centre to desktop - report 'Independent' report used MS-sourced data to trash OSS
John Leyden, 15 Oct 2004

Sprint to shed another 700 jobs

US telecoms giant Sprint is to shed 700 sales and support jobs as it continues to jiggle its business about. In a statement issued today the company said that the job losses would be achieved "through attrition, voluntary separations and layoffs". However, those facing the chop can expect to receive a wedge and other benefits. Sprint also said that it would take a financial hit reducing the value of its long-distance network because of "competitive conditions, recent regulatory rulings [and] evolving technologies". However, the extent of that is being kept under wraps until Sprint publishes its Q3 results next week. In June Sprint announced that it was culling 1,100 jobs in response to being squeezed by the "highly competitive" long distance market. Some 850 jobs were erased from its Sprint Business Solutions (SBS) unit while a further 250 corporate jobs supporting SBS were also scrubbed out A week ago AT&T announced that its plans to cease marketing traditional consumer services would result in the loss of further 7,400 jobs. The US telecoms giant had already planned to cull around 4,900 jobs during 2004 - a cut of around eight per cent of its workforce. But in an update it warned that it would "significantly exceed its previously estimated workforce-reduction target...[and] now expects to reduce total headcount by more than 20 per cent in 2004". ® Related stories Tim Richardson, 15 Oct 2004

Wobbly footballs and electronic pants

LettersLetters You know what? Writing a story about open source stuff is a bit like poking at a beehive with a stick. You know you'll get some kind of response, but it is often hard to tell whether it be a load of honey, or an angry bee sitting on your nose: What exactly do you mean by "circumvent some of the commercial difficulties of the Open Source license (the GPL)" ? Do you mean the limitations to stop companies taking thousands of man-hours of other people's work, adding a few extensions of their own, and selling the whole lot at extortionate prices? The GPL makes it perfectly clear how commercial interests fit with the open source software, including the right to sell it for any price you want - as long as you make the source available. For mass-market software, such as Open Office or Linux Mandrake, there are a lot of people who see the GPL as meaning "free as in beer" - and that is a right that they have under the GPL. For more specialised software, such as large databases, it's not a real issue as long as the prices charged are reasonable - the customer gets what they pay for in terms of service, support, and lower risks. Renting out GPL'ed application time on servers is just another type of service - they are not "circumventing" anything, since the providers are following the GPL. You could perhaps argue that since the ASPs are not required to provide the source for GPL'ed extensions or modifications they write (since they are not distributing any binaries), that they are trying to avoid the "spirit" of the GPL - but again, this is perfectly valid under the GPL. And it's not a new idea - web and email hosting has worked this way for many years. David "In theory if their sales are climbing then their unit costs are trending down, but the consumer rarely sees the costs fall. " I find that statement a little disengenuous. I agree with your theory, and I agree with the statement that the consumer rarely sees the cost fall. It's not unreasonable (though it severely limits the number of vendors constrained by the statement) to qualify that with the fact that he consumer in some cases also does not see the costs rise over time, effecting a net fall in costs after consideration. (like some areas of consumer electronics, the price does not actualy fall but the device becomes more feature rich) Alan I was impressed by your analysis but my many years experience as a conultant points a big hole in your logic. The larger the organization the more risk adverse they are and only apply a solution provided by an 'approved' vendor. What this really means is they are only amenable to the marketing efforts of the larger vendors who put on good dog and pony shows for top mangement accompaned by always expected perks. Reason goes right out the window. It's easier not to think and take a risk. The few times I tried to apply a new technology or bring in a new vendor I usually lost both the client and the battle. Howard In response to news that the Recording Industry Ass. of America has failed to get the Supreme Court to review its P2P challenge against Verizon: Actually Hollywoods lobbying clout is rather diminished these days: They had the gall to employ a democratic head-lobbyist rather than a republican and got a rather smaller bone in the free-for-all pork law that was passed this week. Poul-Henning News, also, that other mobile lottery operators are unimpressed with The National Lottery's efforts in the area: It's disappointing that Camelot haven't come forward with anything more innovative considering the potential already emerging in Java games. I am intrigued to see how consumers repond to the 20 pence per text charge when customers of the Manchester Mobile Lottery only pay their standard rate SMS charge, which can be as low as three pence. Ultimately, Camelot has missed a trick. We think the real opportunity is to introduce new types of game which are relevant to the mobile channel, not just replicating access to existing products at a more expensive price. Ian Milligan Million-2-1 Next, the fabulous news of more functional underwear that we had ever anticipated. Probably not available in M&S anytime soon: I have to wonder how many false call outs the ambulance service is going to get for someone taking their pants off! Bob And where do they suggest you keep the batteries for these wonder pants? Tris We can actually answer this one: there is, apparently, a small pouch supplied with the underpants, so users need not avail themselves of nature's own battery cavity. Football's coming home, but only in a wobbly line: The comment from your footy-loving friend stuck a chord with me and presumably with others who follow baseball. Fans of this other fine sport will know of the specialist pitch known as the "knuckleball", a niche trick whose popularity is sadly declining but which is entertaining indeed when practiced well. The most famous remaining practitioner is one Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox. It works on exactly the same principle as the kick your friend described; the idea is to throw the ball at a moderate pace with as little spin as possible. Apparently, the pitch works best in evening games on windy days. The lack of spin allows all sorts of things to happen to the ball, caused (according to various experts) by things like wind and moisture and atmospheric pressure. This is a good explanation. When the pitch is thrown successfully, it is virtually impossible for anyone - the pitcher, the batter or the catcher - to know what's actually going to happen to it. Watching the world's best hitters swing wildly several inches away from a gently-thrown ball that crosses the plate dead centre is a continuous source of amusement for knuckleball aficionados. Its decline in popularity is probably due to the fact that it's rather tricky to pitch, and if you get it wrong, what you wind up with is a gently-thrown pitch with just enough spin to cause it to fly straight and true and very, very predictable. The likely result of *this* is Derek Jeter hitting the thing into orbit, which tends to happen to knuckleball pitchers with depressing frequency. When it works, though, it's a thing of beauty. Adam A reader puts forward an alternaltive hypothesis for the naming of the Coral Consortium, the new association of "consumer electronics companies, one computer company, a DRM specialist and one of the content majors": You theorize that they took the name Coral because "...but perhaps it's the way a coral under water seems to branch out and connect seamlessly to the next." That may well be right, but in the context of the DRM our RIAA and MPAA would want, I see another parallel. Have you ever noticed the way a coral reef is a community that is built exclusively on the skeletons of others and has only a thin veneer of life on the outside. Bill We took the revolutionary BioNav™ in-car navigation system out for a road test. We experienced an unprecedented level of consumer feedback from our review: Hi Lester, r.e. the BioNav, I managed to get hold of an early prototype model that I've been using for a while and thought you might be interested in my experiences :- I'm going to attempt a journey from Leamington Spa to Ross on Wye this evening with my BioNav finding the way for me. I must admit that I'm a bit dubious about getting to my destination though, as this particular BioNav has completed the journey on a number occasions before, but has yet to repeat a route. When it struggles, I have tried a "soft" reboot as you suggested on a number of occasions and have even resorted to a "hard" reboot with a rolled up road atlas a couple of times, but my unit just doesn't improve after a reboot. Perhaps mine is broken as needs trading in for a newer model? One thing that I have found that helps though is equiping my BioNav with "laptop and GPS unit" plug-in. Although this certainly helps, the BioNav really goes to pieces when the laptop battery runs out. All the best, Nik Dear Sir, Due to your recent article on the BioNav, I wish to propose you review the "BackSeatNav." This unit autonomously seats itself in your vehicle and will constantly scan the vicinity for any and all dangers to the driver - in addition to having the common direction giving capabilities of it's peers. The BackSeatNav will give loud warnings not only about red lights passed and turns that occurred five minutes ago, but will also alert you when you drive into questionable areas of town. Immensely useful when you live IN a questionable area of town. I am expecting to obtain a high-end Italian version in late November. Consuming only Illy and sugar, this model will make comments such as "Dovevi giri a destra" while pointing it's indicator to the rear of the car; "Che schifo;" "Sei un rompicoglioni," as well as the ever popular "Mamma Mia." Please contact me if you are interested in road testing this unit. Sincerely, Alex McDiarmid It was unlikely we'd get through the whole of letters without some reference to the launch of Froogle, so we thought we'd keep it light hearted: "[And wine is technology related exactly how? - Ed]." ....it's a lubricant. duh Alan The term "Froogle" (or at least "Frugal") has already been used as a verb, in one of my favourite jokes: My 8 year old came home from school with a piece of homework - she had to write a story using the word "frugal". I looked up the dictionary with her and told her that to be frugal is to save or preserve. This is the story she wrote: "One day a beautiful princess was taking a swim in a river. The current was too strong, and she was swept away. Just then a handsome prince came riding along. The princess shouted "Frugal me! Frugal me!". So the prince frugalled her, and they lived happily ever after. Colin Seems like a good note to end on. Enjoy the weekend! ®
Lucy Sherriff, 15 Oct 2004

Motorola pilots 'digital wallet' phone trials

Motorola has teamed up with Mastercard to conduct US trials of technology that allows mobile phones to act as "digital wallets". The phones in the field trial will be equipped with MasterCard's PayPass, a contactless payment technology touted as making it far more convenient for users to pay for goods and services based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. "In essence your phone will become your wallet, key chain and your ID,” said Ron Hamma, VP and director of enterprise business development at Motorola. The phone can function as a contactless reader, "paving the way for a variety of marketing and promotional applications," Motorola says. "Applications can be loaded into the secure area of the phone ‘over the air,’ offering potential operational savings to card issuing financial institutions, as well as revenue opportunities to wireless network operators." The handsets will incorporate a number of security features to protect financial data and to ensure consumers a secure financial transaction, Motorola assures potential users. Quite what these features are isn't specified. Motorola phones enabled with MasterCard PayPass technology are expected to be trialled by the end of this year in select locations across the US. Two model types will be involved but Motorola isn't saying which for now. The Motorola trial is part of wider industry plans to get us using our mobiles as payment devices, which to date have focused predominantly on the Far East. Nokia and Samsung Electronics have both announced plans to incorporate contactless payment technology into their respective handsets. ® Related stories Samsung phones to double as wallets Moto peddles world s most integrated handset chip Credit cards: a contactless future Credit card-sized smart phone ships... sort of
John Leyden, 15 Oct 2004

IBM's Power5 beast takes on Sun, HP - and IBM

IBM is set to start shipping the biggest, baddest Unix servers in its history. Come November, customers will see the Power5-based p5-590 and p5-595 servers hit the market. The 32-way 590 is a direct replacement for the current Power4+-based p690. The 595, however, breaks new ground for IBM, as the company has finally delivered a box that can hold up to 64 processors. IBM is also touting a new 64-way box in its iSeries line - the i5-595. These long awaited systems obviously go head-to-head against similar servers from the likes of Sun Microsystems and HP. IBM revitalized its Unix server line with the release of the dual-core Power4 and now looks to put even more pressure on rivals with the high-performing Power5 chip and a more sophisticated version of AIX tuned for the processor. Of particular note, IBM brags that each Power5 chip can be split up to handle up to 10 logical partitions. This gives customers a way to run more workloads on a single box. In addition, the Power5 chips can churn through more software threads via IBM's multi-threading technology, which was not available on the older Unix boxes. Customers can run AIX, Linux or i5/0S on any of the systems announced today. While these new features put more pressure on Sun and HP, they also make IBM's Unix machines more competitive against its own mainframe boxes. The 64-processor i5-595 and p5-595 deliver many mainframe-like features but fall a bit more in the "open systems" category, meaning customers can gain price/performance advantages and be less dependent on very proprietary mainframe tools. The 590 will be offered with a 1.65GHz version of the Power5 chip, while the 595 can ship with either 1.65GHz or 1.90GHz processors. Customers should note that IBM tends to differ from competitors in the way that it counts processors in a server. When it says a 64-way box, for example, it's using 32 dual-core chips to reach that number. Using this same counting method, Sun's E25K server is a 144 processor box. Overall, you have to hand it to IBM for pushing its Power5 chip at a steady clip. Sun and HP have only recently rolled out dual-core processors, and Intel won't have a dual-core Itanium chip until next year. Meanwhile, IBM is on its third-generation part. IBM, however, seems to fall behind rivals a bit with AIX. The company is slow to upgrade the OS and is lacking a number a features offered by competitors. ® Related stories Sun kicks off fiscal '05 with a $174m loss Compaq's servers save HP from enterprise sales hell IBM slays Shark, intros Power5 storage monster IBM proclaims open blade spec a success
Ashlee Vance, 15 Oct 2004

Boffin channels god, scares students

A physics professor at a Louisiana university has been suspended and is being held for evaluation after allegedly flying into a fit of rage in front of his students. Louis Houston, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette boffin, apparently let his emotions get the best of him during a Wednesday class. The professor is said to have slapped one student before claiming he was a god. "Then he told us if we got out of our seats he's gonna kill us," student Kacie Spears told KATC-TV. "He went on the black board and wrote "911 now," so we were really in fear for our lives." The students patiently waited for class to end and then called campus security about the incident. Houston was later taken to an in-patient treatment facility for a mental health check and suspended by the university. Students have complained about Houston's rants in the past, but the professor passed medical evaluations. One student has filed charges against Houston, who faces one count of terrorizing and a count of battery. His bond has been set at $50,000. It should be noted that the University's theme for this year's homecoming is "Feel the Rage!". ® Related stories Boffin hits it big with breast-enlarging ringtone Brits design fly-eating autobot UK 'nation of computer buffs' BBC boffins trial Olympics by multicast
Ashlee Vance, 15 Oct 2004

Google Desktop privacy branded 'unacceptable'

Google's Desktop represents a privacy disaster just waiting to happen, a rival has warned. David Burns, Copernic CEO, says users should know that the giant ad broker intends to mix public and private queries in the future, leveraging its key moneyspinning product: contextual advertising. "If you lined people and said, 'Stick your hand up if you want Google to know what pictures you have, and what MP3 files you have,' I don't think many would." Burns had offered these capabilities to partners before, but received some pushback. "Major brands don't want to compromise their reputation. We've offered this in the past to potential partners, and had a major PC hardware company and major portals say 'No, we can't do this'", Burns told us. With the subpoena-happy RIAA getting support from state law enforcement in its war on copyright infringers, Google represents a single point of compromise for millions of file traders. Copernic offers a native Windows search application both as a free download and as a branded offering to partners, and has toyed with merging the two before. But it's realized personal archives are very different to Google's snapshot of the web - and the queries are different too. "I don't deny desktop and web on the same page is attractive," he added. "But we're not going to do it." Burns was former US chief of FAST, which created the All The Web search site before selling it to Overture. Yahoo! now owns both. Google Desktop Search allows users to opt out of sending the company back detailed usage data, but it isn't possible to firewall it completely. Much more ominously, reckons Burns, Google's product manager Marissa Mayer said she expected the private queries to generate more hits for google.com. Most people, she believed, would choose to combine personal and web searches resulting in more revenue for Google's ad business. "As a result, we will serve more Web results pages and more ads, and those ads have more chances of getting clicked on. So there will be incremental Web search revenue from this product," she told the Washington Post. In January, Eric Schmidt said the company's goal was to create a "Google that knows you". With the addition of personal information, it's just taken a giant step towards that goal. ® Related links Copernic Google Desktop Related stories Google's Gmail: spook heaven? Google launches desktop search for Windows PCs Google slammed for corporate sleaze SEC to examine Playboy for boobs The battle for email privacy
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Oct 2004