27th > October > 2004 Archive

EDS polishes 9,000 gold watches

EDS is offering 9,000 workers early retirement as it struggles to control costs. The services giant said yesterday it was delaying posting its accounts until it can work out how much it has lost providing the US Navy with a new intranet. The firm is hoping about 4,600 employees, out of 9,000 who are eligible, will take up the offer of early retirement. This will reduce costs by $250m per year by 2006. The program - or "Comprehensive Work Force Management Initiative" as the press release has it - is open to most US employees over fifty. Staff above the level of vice president are excluded as are those with government security clearance, people working on the General Motors account and consultants with AT Kearney, according to the FT. EDS will take a $150m charge assuming half those offered retirement take up the offer. It should start seeing savings of about $250m by 2005. It expects client needs will require it filling less than half the vacated positions. EDS confirmed it expects full year revenue to be in the range $20bn to $21bn. The company is also retraining 20,000 programmers to use "next generation platforms" like Microsoft.NET and J2EE. More details available on the EDS website here. ® Related stories EDS suffers US Navy broadside MPs slam government over EDS secrecy EDS hit by US Airways' Chapter 11
John Oates, 27 Oct 2004

Broadcom nicks Philips boss

Chip maker Broadcom has poached the boss of arch-rival chip maker Philips. From 3 January next year Scott A McGregor will take over the jobs of president and chief executive from current incumbent Alan E "Lanny" Ross. He also joins the Broadcom board. McGregor announced his retirement from Philips Semiconductors last month and will work there until the end of the year. Ross welcomed his replacement: "Scott is the ideal CEO for Broadcom at this point in its growth. He has an excellent understanding of our technologies and end markets, and he knows how to identify future promising emerging markets and profitably grow a business." Ross will remain a Broadcom board member after the changes. McGregor has held senior positions at Xerox Palo Alto research park, DEC and Microsoft where he was the architect and development team leader of the original version of Microsoft Windows. He described his new job as "the opportunity of a lifetime". At Philips he is responsible for 30,000 employees and $6bn in annual sales. More on the Broadcom website here. ® Related stories WiFi Alliance warns chip makers over 802.11n claims Broadcom reveals 'VoIP over Wi-Fi' chipset Wi-Fi Alliance moots security set-up standard
John Oates, 27 Oct 2004

Apple opens Euro iTunes stores

UpdateUpdate Apple has launched the iTunes Music Store's pan-Europe incarnation, as it promised to do last June when it opened UK, French and German online stores. And the company said it would open a Canadian store in November. The new version, which was heralded in September by Apple's ITMS chief, Eddy Cue, targets Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Belgian, Finnish, Greek, Portuguese music fans, tempting them with song downloads priced at €0.99. The language is English. Downloaded tracks can be played on up to five Macs or PCs, and burned to CD any number of times, though Playlists can only be burned up to seven times. Tracks can be transferred to any number of iPods. Support for the new store comes in iTunes 4.7, which was released last night. As we've noted before, the launch of the new site highlights the problematic issue of differential pricing. In the UK, Apple has already come under criticism from the Consumers Association because the UK ITMS prices are higher than their German and French - and now Dutch, Italian, etc. - equivalents. Apple blames that on the different licensing regimes in each territory - one of the reasons why CDs are priced differently in different European nations and the US, for example. But its refusal to allow, say, UK buyers to acquire songs from the French store, may run contrary to European Union regulations covering the freedom of trade across EU member states' borders. The fact that it's going to open a 'borderless' version of ITMS for multiple Euro states shows that if it can submerge the different licensing regimes for these countries, it ought to be able to do so for others. ® Related stories Apple unveils color photo iPod Apple to open 'borderless' Euro music store Apple coughs up for iTunes Music Store patent Apple opens iTunes in the UK, France and Germany BT ponders music downloads for payphones Apple updates iBook laptops Apple iTunes tops 150m downloads
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

When Dinosaur telcos ruled the Earth

If you need a guide to the future of telecoms, it seems, just remember the old anarchist joke: "Whoever you vote for, the government gets in." In this case, it doesn't seem to matter how "revolutionary" or "disruptive" the technology is that's giving Emergent pundits a hard-on this month; for at the end of the day, the dinosaur telco incumbents always seem to tighten their control. The Federal Communications Commission's Michael Copps, ruminating on the merger of Cingular and AT&T Wireless, seems to have felt this icy chill too. The FCC gave its formal blessing to the union this week, resulting in the creation of the largest mobile phone network in the US, and one of the most powerful in the world. In a typically thoughtful, but unusually pessimistic warning that goes far beyond today's concerns, the former Clinton administration trade official points out that for the first time Bell companies will control over the half of the wireless market. Earlier this month Copps warned that the internet was dying, under pressure from vested interests who want a closed network, but his words were almost completely unreported. Now, he points out, both Cingular and the erstwhile No.1 carrier Verizon were formed from amalgamations of local Baby Bells. SBC is owned by SBC and Bell South AT&T Wireless, meanwhile, has Ma Bell in the DNA: it's a spin off from the mothership itself. "The chance that wireless will compete effectively with wireless incumbents is diminished," he warns. Regulators call this "intermodal" competition, and it's a reality, with mobile operators in more saturated markets, such as Europe, vowing to make the landline redundant. But Copps thinks this less likely to happen now, and cites the majority FCC judgement in his support. "Can we expect that Bell-owned wireless carriers will compete tooth-and-nail against their wireline parents? I don't think so," writes Copps. "Even the Order agrees: 'The acquisition will also affect intermodal competition through the likelihood that Cingular will not pursue AT&T Wireless’s extensive plans for wireline replacement offerings.' It also notes that rather than developing products designed to compete with wireline services, "Cingular has developed and marketed many of its wireless products and services to complement – and specifically not to replace – residential wireline voice services". The FCC has slapped Cingular co-owner SBC with $8m in fines for failing to comply with its competitive obligations, including one fine in 2002 of $6m. Copps castigates his fellow commissioners for dismissing the problem. He's perplexed by the justification that mobile was never really a competitor to landlines. That's what the majority opinion argues, stating that "'most wireline customers do not now consider wireless service to be a close substitute in the antitrust sense for their primary line obtained from a wireline carrier,' and because 'there remain qualitative differences between wireless and wireline services.'" He adds, sarcastically, "I guess this means we won’t be hearing so much rhetoric in the future about the power of wireless as an intermodal competitor." Copps is a fan of VoIP, which has real competitive potential, but points out that "VoIP [companies] are still reliant on the incumbents - a fact many people seem to forget in their revolutionary enthusiasm. "But we need always to remember," writes Copps, "that as end-users of facilities-based carriers, VoIP competitors are beholden to the Bell and cable companies." "We can cross our fingers and hope that growing duopoly does not discriminate so as to snuff out growing competition - but absent any commitment on the part of this Commission to insist on non-discrimination rules, I remain concerned for independent VoIP providers." And with the US falling behind the rest of the world in broadband choice and penetration, he issues this reminder: "All customers desiring VoIP for their voice service must subscribe to expensive broadband services. As the U.S. continues its free-fall broadband descent - we are now Number 13 in the world in penetration - and with broadband prices still out of the reach of many Americans, there is much to be done if VoIP is to fulfill its potential." Placenta party vs. Manifest Destiny We must apologize for quoting Copps at such length. We only do so because no one else will. The man who warned us that the internet is in mortal peril earlier this month is an optimist, but he's also a realist. But no one ever seems to reads ever the commissioners' dissenting opinions, let alone report on them - even with this citizens' army of weblog vigilantes we keep being told about. Which is a pity, as the Commissioners, being reporters too, have plenty to tell us and they don't even feel obliged to encode it in politespeak. Then again, we doubt if very many professional journalists, let alone citizens with better things to do than pore over government regulations, have read the FCC's 112 page majority opinion on a decision that will affect mobile phone users for a generation. We couldn't find one "citizen weblog" that examines the FCC's decisions. Stack that against the hundreds, possibly thousands, of Wi-Fi happy or pro-deregulation weblogs, and you have to conclude that people who write about technology are more interested in finding a comforting, consequence-free kind of placenta where there's no bad news, but one, and only one certain outcome: a joyous birth to look forward to. Bootnote #1: Some of Our Intelligence Is Missing! Pt.496 Readers weary of the "my computer ate my homework" school of technology marketing excuses (as practiced by Google and the FBI) might enjoy this gem, from the FCC's archives. SBC was pleading against a large fine and produced this in migitation: "SBC reminds us that it deployed an Advanced Intelligent Network-based shared transport product as required by the SBC/Ameritech Merger Order," the FCC noted. Crikey! But the FCC wasn't at all impressed by the deployment of an Advanced Intelligent Network-based shared transport product at all. "However," their adjudication continues drily, "the mere act of compliance with one portion of the law does not insulate SBC from the consequences of significant noncompliance with a different portion of the law." So there. Bootnote #2: How Long Can I Disrupt You? "The concept of disruptive technology is not the only daft idea floating around to be lapped up obediently by the business community. There are others. But the way these dingbat bromides go unchallenged makes you wonder whether anyone can think independently anymore," writes one critic. We'd put money on something vital missing from either the hypester's infant milk supply or more likely, perhaps, the lack of a normal adolescence as the cause for permanently hyping "revolutionary" technology without following through the most basic economic consequences. Er, so is this how "Manifest Destiny" came about, then? There's only one conclusion to that, too. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Oct 2004

iTrip FM beamer back in black for U2 iPod

With a pledge to make your car... er... "rattle and hum", hip accessory maker Griffin Technology has released a "none more black" version of its iTrip FM broadcaster pitched (geddit?!?!) at the new U2 edition iPod. The iTrip plugs onto the iPod and when tuned to a (relatively) empty band of the FM radio spectrum transmits the songs the player is playing. A nearby radio - your car's stereo, say - can tune into the iTrip and pump the music through its speakers. It's a great and inexpensive way of using the iPod in a car without having to drape wires across the dashboard. The device ships with support for US FM frequencies, but a European frequency enabler can be downloaded free of charge from Griffin's website. iTrip uses a sequence of MP3 files which encode a signal that tunes the device to each frequency increment. The transmitter is powered by the iPod itself, so there's no need for batteries. The new model not only matches the special iPod's black shell, but is equipped with a red LED, the same colour as the U2 player's clickwheel. Griffin said the black iTrip will ship in November 2004, but it's taking pre-orders now. The unit costs $35, the same as the white version. The U2 iPod is about three weeks away, according to Apple. ® Bootnote for UK readers Use of the iTrip remains illegal in the UK. To quote Ofcom: "The use of the FM broadcast band to transmit a radio signal from a device used in a vehicle to the car radio is illegal... Such use - despite the relative short range involved - is subject to licensing under Section 1 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949. As the FM broadcast band is allocated for the exclusive use of licensed broadcasters no other systems are permitted to operate within the band. Use of these systems therefore constitutes an offence. "Transmitting offences under the WT Act 1949 attract a maximum penalty of £5000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months." Phew. The joys of living in the free world, eh? Related stories Apple unveils color photo iPod Apple preps 'black iPod' U2 limited edition promo Apple opens Euro iTunes stores Apple iTunes tops 150m downloads Apple profits leap as iPod sales rocket Apple eyes Birmingham for next UK store Related review Griffin radioShark
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

AT&T and Cingular tie the knot

Cingular Wireless has finally taken over AT&T Wireless, making it the largest mobile carrier in the US. The new firm has 46m customers who will see no immediate changes to charges or tariffs. AT&T shareholders will get $15 per share, valuing the telco at $41bn. Stan Sigman, chief exec of Cingular, promised customers bigger networks, better call quality and better handsets. Looking forward Sigman said: "We are also committed to expanding our high-speed Third Generation services to the ever-growing community of mobile data users. And Cingular is laying the foundation to enable rural carriers to bring 3G services to rural America." Sigman claimed that because Cingular is itself the result of mergers so it has the skills to integrate the companies. He said: "Cingular itself is the result of a merger of major wireless providers, so we know a lot about successfully combining companies, networks and operations. We'll use our employees' experience and expertise to bring the full benefit of the combined company to our customers" Stan Sigman stays in charge as president and CEO. Ralph de la Vega stays on as chief operating officer, Pete Ritcher will be chief financial officer and Thaddeus Arroyo will be chief information officer. Customers of either firm will be able to use both networks without being charged roaming rates. Job cuts are likely although the firm is focussing on supposed customer benefits. The US Department of Justice announced its approval of the merger on 25 October. More details on the Broadcom website here. ® Related stories Vodafone loses AT&T Wireless battle Cingular eyeing AT&T Wireless again Cingular eyes AT&T Wireless for mobile mega merger
John Oates, 27 Oct 2004

Schoolkids need science, says Royal Society prez

The president of the Royal Society has told the government that scientific reasoning must be a core part of school education up until the age of 19. Lord May of Oxford said that he was alarmed that the government had not explicitly committed to tackle the crisis in science in the proposed diploma system for 14 to 19 year olds. The Tomlinson report, which proposes a four-level diploma qualification, says that core standards must be reached in Maths, English and Information Technology, but makes no explicit mention of science. Lord May said there was a "widely acknowledged crisis for science and mathematics in our schools and colleges". Indeed, this year's entries in science subjects were down as much as 34 per cent on those from 1991. "The dramatic long-term decline in these A-level subjects will have two deeply damaging effects on the country if we do not act to tackle the problems that these trends reflect," Lord May warned. Scientific reasoning is a critical skill in everyday life, he argued, giving examples of weighing up the risks and benefits of immunising children, or evaluating the environmental impact of different methods of transport: "It is hard to think of something that might be considered more 'functional' - to borrow a term from the Tomlinson report - than science," he noted. ® Related stories Student-designed satellite set for space UK tech specialist school pioneers open source switch DTI calls women back to science and technology
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Oct 2004

Scammers fined £125k for premium-rate fraud

Premium rate watchdog ICSTIS has fined two companies a total of £125,000 for running scam telephone services that ripped off punters. Reading-based Power Promotions copped a £75,000 penalty for a dodgy service that offered consumers a bogus "free" holiday worth £2,000. Punters complained that they received spam phone calls offering them the holidays and then asked to phone a premium-rate number to claim their prize. ICSTIS found the holidays didn't actually exist and that all that was on offer was a booklet of money-off vouchers. Manchester-based Premier Hotline Promotions also pulled a similar stunt offering punters the chance to phone a premium-rate line to win a non-existent holiday worth £2,000. In this case, punters received an unsolicited telephone call in which they were played an automated recorded message telling them to call a premium-rate number. ICSTIS fined this outfit £50,000. Indeed, the problem of consumers being targeted by recorded messages has been getting worse over the last couple of months. In its latest industry briefing ICSTIS warned that it had seen a "significant increase" in the number of complaints received about premium rate services that are promoted by unsolicited and unwanted automated messages. Under the "Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003", it is illegal to use automatic calling equipment to make unsolicited direct marketing calls. As in the case of Premier Hotline Promotions, many of the services plug non-existent prizes such as luxury holidays or cash. The regulator has warned the industry that it will take tough action against any operator in breach of the regulation. "We will continue to bar access with immediate effect to services that are deemed to be causing serious consumer harm, as well as asking for all revenue to be withheld from the service provider pending the conclusion of our investigation. Where breaches of our code are upheld in respect of such promotions, service providers can expect heavy sanctions to be imposed," it said. Related stories Ofcom accused of helping premium-rate scammers UK watchdog blocks 11 rogue dialler operators British Gas warns punters about rogue diallers Ofcom to crack down on premium rate scamsters
Tim Richardson, 27 Oct 2004

China Netcom drops IPO share price

China's second largest fixed line telco has cut the likely price of shares in its Initial Public Offering (IPO). US shares in China Netcom will go on sale for between $20.24 and $23.12. Netcom is selling 47m American Depositary Shares, representing 941.39m ordinary shares. This values the company at about $1bn, substantially lower than the $1.5bn that was expected. This reflects fading interest in Chinese companies, according to the FT. The offering opens 4 November and runs until 9 November. Shares will list in the US 16 November and the next day in Hong Kong. The company is hoping to attract plenty of international investors by offering large dividends. Netcom is promising to distribute as much as 40 per cent of profits in dividends to shareholders. China Netcom has 77.6m fixed-line subscribers in northern China. It has 4.2m broadband subscribers. It is expanding services in the south of the country where it competes with China Telecom. Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corp are overseeing the IPO. The telco is in ongoing talks to buy a stake in Hong Kong's largest fixed-line operator PCCW. The Chinese government will retain a 70 per cent in the company after flotation. ® Related stories NEC goes all out for China 3G market China Telecom: provincial investment China to get 130 million DSL lines
John Oates, 27 Oct 2004
channel

Global smart phone sales soar

Worldwide sales of mobile phones and other handheld devices rocketed during Q3, market watchers reported this week, but its clear that its voice-enabled machines that are winning the hearts and minds of most consumers. According to Canalys, mobile device shipments grew 83 per cent in that quarter compared to Q3 2003. While PDA shipments were up 18 per cent over the same period - that's those with and those without wireless connectivity of some form - smart phone shipments were up 190 per cent. IDC's figures for Western Europe, released earlier this week, put PalmOne at number four in the chart, behind Nokia, HP and Sony Ericsson. The PDA pioneer fared better globally, charting ahead of the rest in North America and taking the number two slot in Canalys' worldwide chart, behind Nokia. While the Treo 600 has played second fiddle to European networks' own-brand smart phones and Blackberry offerings, the device appears to have been more strongly promoted elsewhere, particularly in the US, where it shipped over 250,000 units to take 55 per cent of the smart phone market. Nokia has a 23 per cent share. PalmOne shipped 1.08m handhelds globally during Q3, less than half the 2.95m devices Nokia shipped. The phone giant's growth - 230 per cent between Q3 2003 and Q3 2004 - dwarfs PalmOne's 22 per cent rise, and is matched only by Fujitsu's 210 per cent, though that company's Q3 2004 509,210 shipments were dwarfed by the phone giant's. Fujitsu pushed Sony Ericsson out of the top five during the quarter, Canalys said, but the other four players' positions remained unchanged. The Japanese company's success arose almost exclusively from sale in its home territory. Nokia now commands 40 per cent of the global market, up from 33 per cent in Q2 2004. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, it commands 87 per cent of smart phone shipments. Only RIM's growth exceeded Nokia's, according to Canalys, as shipments rose from 137,140 in Q3 2003 to 509,210 in Q3 this year, a rise of 351 per cent. RIM came fourth in the chart, behind HP, which, despite strong European shipments, shipped 689,410 units worldwide, well below PalmOne's total. PalmOne remains the world PDA leader, despite faring poorly against HP in Western Europe, and a 12 per cent year-on-year decline in shipments giving it a 25 per cent share of the global market. By contrast, HP's shipments rose 19 per cent worldwide, taking its share to 23 per cent. These figures confirm PalmOne's decision to acquire Handspring and get its hands on the Treo, which is clearly going to dominate the company's sales going forward, keeping it toward the top of the charts even as PDA shipments decline. Nokia's dominance ensured Symbian remained the mobile OS leader, extending its lead over Windows Mobile during Q3 2004 thanks to impressive 201 per cent year-on-year growth to take just over 50 per cent of the market. The reliance on Nokia is demonstrated by Symbian's weakness in territories where the Finnish company isn't dominant. In the US, for example, only six per cent of the mobile devices shipped during Q3 ran the Symbian OS, well behind Microsoft (25 per cent) and PalmSource (43 per cent). Clearly, while the Europeans want smart phones, North Americans want wireless PDAs. Though the Treo's success suggests that attitude might now be changing, a factor that may help Symbian going forward. ®   Q3 Worldwide Mobile Device Shipments Rank Vendor Q3 2004 Shipments Q3 2003 Shipments Q3 2004 Market Share Q3 2003 Market Share Growth 1 Nokia 2,951,450 894,480 39.7% 22% 230% 2 PalmOne 1,076,470 879,340 14.5% 21.7% 22% 3 HP 689,410 579,940 9.3% 14.3% 19% 4 RIM 619,020 137,140 8.3% 3.4% 351% 5 Fujitsu 509,210 164,500 6.9% 4.1% 210%   Others 1,583,480 1,406,020 21.3% 34.6% 13%   Total 7,429,040 4,061,020     83%   Q3 Worldwide Mobile Device OS Shipments Rank Vendor Q3 2004 Shipments Q3 2003 Shipments Q3 2004 Market Share Q3 2003 Market Share Growth 1 Symbian 3,732,030 1,238,170 50.2% 30.5% 201% 2 Microsoft 1,503,950 1,131,400 20.2% 27.9% 33% 3 PalmSource 1,253,450 1,218,010 16.9% 30% 3%   Others 939,610 473,740 12.6% 11.7% 98%   Total 7,429,040 4,061,420     83% Related stories RIM rises as PalmOne slides in Euro device market Nokia steadies in booming phone market Researcher ups world mobile sales forecast Nokia and co 'to ship 625m handsets' this year PalmOne extends world PDA lead Europe: we will buy your PDAs HP extends PDA lead in EMEA
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

Cassini glimpses Titan's face

The first pictures from Cassini's fly-by of Titan have been beamed back to Earth. The pictures reveal glimpses of surface features, with some clearly delineated dark and light areas tantalising the earth-bound scientists. According to Associated Press reports, NASA's imaging team leader, Carolyn Porco, described the pictures as "tantalising" for those studying the moon. Although nothing is certain yet, she speculated that the bright areas could be icy regions, rising out of a slushy area, "or maybe that's lava that's flowed and covered up some of the terrain and is forming the sharp shoreline-looking boundary". The craft reached its closest approach to the cloudy moon at 17:44 BST yesterday and its data was received by NASA's deep-space network antenna in Madrid, nearly nine hours later. These pictures were taken when Cassini was still more than 50,000 miles from Titan. It snapped the moon with its narrow field camera through an infra-red-sensitive filter, centered at 938 nanometers. This fly-by has not only provided scientists with their best ever views of the moon, but has changed Cassini's orbit of Saturn, shortening its period from four months to 48 days. The craft will make its next close approach to the moon on 13 December, and will release the European-built Huygens probe on Christmas day. ® Related link Images from the Cassini mission are posted here at the Ciclops (Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory fro Operations) website. Related stories Cassini gives Iapetus a wide berth Cassini approaches Titanic flyby Cassini finds two tiny Saturnian moons Cassini eyeballs Saturnian lightning storms Cassini runs rings round Saturn
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Oct 2004

Virus experts fret over Myfip

The Myfip worm which was discovered in the wild a month ago is starting to spread, according to email security firm MessageLabs. The worm assumes the guise of an email from a webmaster at eBay. The email asks the recipient to take part in a 'Multiple Item Auction' with the chance of winning a prize. But the worm's most worrying characteristic is its use of a previously unknown packing utility. There are a number of different utilities available to virus authors that allow them to compress and encrypt their viruses. Inexperienced authors often use common packing programs that are readily available on the internet. With the Myfip worm, the virus writer is using what is termed a nested compression technique - meaning that the file is compressed numerous times - which serves to confuse mail scanners according to Conor Flynn, technical director at Irish security firm RITS. "Myfip uses a packer previously unseen in email virus distribution. The use of an uncommon packer could make it more difficult for antivirus software vendors to identify and protect against the malicious code within," according to MessageLabs. The worm, once initiated, searches an infected computer for poorly protected network drives. It then copies itself to those drives using a file tagged "Iloveyou.txt.exe". Security firm, Symantec has said that if the worm encounters password-protected drives it will attempt to log on as an administrator by using a list of common passwords. "Antivirus vendors have issued updates to deal with this threat but it is up to individuals to download these patches independently," said Flynn, speaking with ElectricNews.Net. "Vendors have said that they will be including a code change to handle this threat in their next releases," Flynn added. The worm, though spreading, is not exceptionally virulent at the moment. Whilst security experts have not rated Myfip as a high-level threat the way in which is it travelling - through the uncommon packer - is worrying and could be indicative of a new trend in virus writing, experts have said. Due to the increasing number of viruses in recent times people have become more wary of opening attachments, explained Flynn. MessageLabs also cited the poorly written text in the Myfip email is using as something which should arouse suspicion in PC users. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related stories 80 per cent of home PCs infected - survey Insecurity begins at home Mac OS X rootkit surfaces
ElectricNews.net, 27 Oct 2004

Man erects 10ft origami penis

Pornogamist Nick Robinson - practitioner of saucy paper-folding and author of new guide Adult Origami - has wowed Londoners by pulling off the world's biggest paper penis outside the city's London Assembly building. Robinson took half-an-hour to erect the 10ft phallus, after which he delighted tourists and locals alike by waving it about from the Assembly's gallery as a stunt to promote his book. Rather appropriately, the London Assembly is known to some as the "Glass Bollock" in recognition of its ground-breaking testicular form. London Mayor Ken Livingstone's reaction to his authority's newest member is not known. Likewise, we have yet to receive word from Pornogami Master Sugoi - previously interviewed by El Reg here - as to how he will counter this challenge to his authority. We reckon that nothing short of a 50ft representation of a woman's reproductive parts hanging from London's highly-suggestive Gherkin will suffice. Let battle commence. ® Previously Interview with the pornogami Grand Master Bored? Try pornogami
Lester Haines, 27 Oct 2004

Bush website adopts isolationist stance

International access to the official re-election website of Us President George W. Bush (www.georgewbush.com) has been blocked. Surfers from outside the US trying to reach the site receive an "access denied" message. Netcraft reports that the site, hosted at SmarTech Corporation, began using the Akamai content distribution network to manage traffic on 21 October. The move followed a six hour outage on 19 October, which also the official site of the Republican National Committee. Neither organisation gave reasons for the temporary blackout. Since Monday morning (25 October) GeorgeWBush.com began rejecting web requests from outside the United States, Netcraft reports. Those outside America can only reach the site through US based proxies (such as proxify.com) but not through European proxies, Reg readers report. As a security measure this doesn't make an awful lot of sense but the move does mean soldiers and other Americans abroad can't reach the re-election website. A number of reports (such as this by news agency AFP) suggest the site was inaccessible yesterday because of an attack by hackers but this would seem to be a misinterpretation of the site's newly-instigated isolationist policy. GeorgeWBush.com is built on IIS 6, the latest version of Microsoft's web server platform. ® Technical Update Although overseas visitors to www.georgewbush.com are blocked https://georgewbush.com or http://65.172.163.222 still work. http://65.172.163.222 resolves as GeorgeWBush.com which illustrates how cack-handed the blocking is. Related stories Guardian US vote wheeze down in flames Lime-sucking Brits absorb heavy US flak Bush's search for clean Cuban hookers goes awry Republicans put $1.5m behind internet push WindowsUpdate on Linux an urban legend is born
John Leyden, 27 Oct 2004
globalisation

World mobile phone shipments up 25%

World+Dog bought more mobile phones during Q3 2004, market watcher Strategy Analytics (SA) said this week. Shipments from vendors reached 168m units, up 24.7 per cent from the year-ago quarter. The researcher reaffirmed its earlier forecast that some 670m handsets will ship worldwide in 2004. It said the Q3 shipments were led by "surging" replacement/upgrade business in established markets and booming demand in newer territories. Looking ahead, SA said it expects 2005 shipments to reach 726m units, representing an increase of eight per cent - well down on the 30 per cent growth seen between 2004 and 2003, if momentum is maintained through Q4 2004. The decline will follow slowing upgrade monochrome-to-colour sales. The winners during the third quarter of this year were Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson, who all achieved trend-exceeding growth of 51.3, 55.3 and 50.7 per cent, respectively. The losers - if a growing market at such a rate can be said to have losers - were Nokia, Motorola and Siemens. While all three saw shipments increase between Q3 2004 and Q3 2003 - by 13, 15.4 and 4.2 per cent, respectively - they nevertheless saw their shares of the market decline. Nokia is still the world's largest phone seller, but its share of the market fell from 33.8 per cent in Q3 2003 to 30.6 per cent in Q3 2004. Likewise, Siemens was down to 7.5 per cent from 8.9 per cent, and Motorola's share dropped from 15 per cent to 13.9 per cent. That leaves it only fractionally above Samsung's 13.5 per cent, giving the South Korean combine a very good chance of taking the world's number two slot this Christmas. Motorola's market share has steadily declined during the past three quarters, SA's numbers show, while Samsung's has grown consistently over the past four. Q3 saw Nokia get back over the 30 per cent barrier. ® Q3 Worldwide Mobile Phone Shipments Rank Vendor Q3 2004 Shipments Q3 2003 Shipments Q3 2004 Market Share Q3 2003 Market Share Growth 1 Nokia 51.4m 45.5m 30.6% 33.8% 13% 2 Motorola 23.3m 20.2m 13.9% 15% 15.4% 3 Samsung 22.7m 15m 13.5% 11.2% 51.3% 4 Siemens 12.5m 12m 7.5% 8.9% 4.2% 5 LG 11.8m 7.6m 7% 5.7% 55.3% 6 Sony Ericsson 10.7m 7.1m 6.4% 5.3% 50.7%   Others 35.3m 27.1m 21% 20.2% 30.3%   Total 167.7m 134.5m     24.7% Related stories Global smart phone sales soar RIM rises as PalmOne slides in Euro device market Nokia steadies in booming phone market Researcher ups world mobile sales forecast Nokia and co 'to ship 625m handsets' this year PalmOne extends world PDA lead Europe: we will buy your PDAs HP extends PDA lead in EMEA
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

AOL UK cuts cost of broadband

AOL UK has cut the cost of its entry-level broadband service following in the footsteps of similar moves by big-boy rivals BT and Wanadoo UK. Its 256k service - AOL Broadband Silver - now costs £17.99 a month, down from £19.99 a month. The service is uncapped, comes with no upfront fees and also benefits from a free customer helpline. The ISP also announced that it now has more than half a million broadband punters in the UK, a milestone it passed in August, and some 2.3m customers in all. AOL UK also plans to trial a 2Mb service later this year for existing punters. Said AOL UK chief exec, Karen Thomson: "By making AOL Broadband Silver available for just £17.99 a month and announcing our plans to trial a service at up to 2Mbps, we are opening up the possibilities of broadband to even more consumers." In April Wanadoo UK (formerly Freeserve) shook up the market among the leading ISPs by launching a new £17.99 per-month 512k broadband product with a 2 Gig a month cap. In August, it doubled the speed while keeping the monthly fee at £17.99. At the beginning of October BT cut the monthly cost of its entry-level broadband service shaving £2 off its BT Broadband Basic service bringing it down to £17.99 a month. ® Related stories BT cuts Basic broadband by £2 Wanadoo UK punts 1Mb ADSL for £18 Punters flock to PlusNet cut-price ADSL
Tim Richardson, 27 Oct 2004

Airborne blogger has wings clipped

A Delta Airlines air stewardess has been suspended without pay for including photos of her in airline uniform on her weblog. She received no warning or request to remove the pictures until she was called to a meeting 6 October and suspended without pay or health benefits. Delta described the photos as "inappropriate" and said the suspension would last until their investigation was finished. The blog was a fictionalised account of her life and work. She described the airline as Anonymous International Airlines, herself as Queen of the Sky and her hometown as Quirksville. Queen of the Sky, or Ellen Simonetti according to the BBC, fears the company will suspend her indefinitely until she quits. She has filed a discrimination complaint against Delta with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Simonetti told the BBC she could not understand how Delta thinks the blog damages the airline. The guest book is full of supportive messages. One noted: "Your employers are making themselves look ridiculous, I am sure that the managers who put you on suspension couldn't conceive how much negative publicity they would get. Leave your blog up , encourage other disgruntled employees to post on it , then get a job with the opposition." ® Related stories Free info for London visitors Web's most famous hooker kills blog Blogging 'cruelty' allegations rock post-DNC calm
John Oates, 27 Oct 2004

Sony to ship PlayStation Portable for under $200

Sony will ship the PlayStation Portable for ¥20,790 ($195), the Japanese consumer electronics giant said today. The PSP-1000 - to give the device its official model number - will go in sale on 12 December, achieving Sony's goal of shipping the handheld by the end of the year. It is due to debut in the US and Europe by the end of March 2005. At that point, Sony said, non-gaming content - ie. music and movies - will go on sale encoded on the handheld's unique 1.8GB Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical drive format. The PSP's Japanese ship date has been the subject of much speculation, most of it centring on Sony's ability to meet the deadline. A company executive recently admitted that the chosen date would be largely determined by games publishers. The deadline would be achieved only if they were able to offer sufficient launch titles, he said. Well, Sony today announced some 21 titles will go on sale in December. Titles from Sony itself include a multiplayer golf game and what appears to be a network messaging product. Touting the unit's WLAN functionality, Sony said up to 16 PSPs can talk to each other in 'ad hoc' mode. There's also infra-red and USB 2.0 for networking and connectivity. A Memory Stick Duo Pro slot paves the way for expansion. Indeed, Sony will offer a 32MB Memory Stick with suitable PSP branding. Other accessories include remote-control headphones and - crucially - a battery pack. Sony said the 280g PSP will run for between four and six hours on a single charge; four to five hours if you're watching movies rather than playing games. Power comes from an internal Lithium-Ion battery. ® Related stories Too few games could set back PSP launch - Sony exec Sony: PSP will ship by year's end Sony licenses VIA tech for PSP Sony talks up PlayStation Portable's chips Nintendo unveils DS launch titles Nintendo aims high with low-cost console Nintendo redesigns DS handheld console
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

Blunkett sets out store on compulsory ID cards

The Home Office today confirmed, as first reported here, that the UK national ID card is to be issued alongside passports.* This effectively pre-empts a future Parliamentary decision on whether or not they should be made compulsory, because anyone who needs to renew their passport will be 'volunteered'. The move, which comes alongside the announcement of a new executive agency to run and deliver the ID scheme, the publication of the results of the latest consultation and David Blunkett's riposte to the Home Affairs Committee, was made in order to "simplify the operation of the scheme, and reflects public support for a universal card." The Register has already tracked the heavy massaging of process and procedure that has led to this verdict of "public support", and for the moment we'll confine ourselves to pointing to the procedure's failure to comply with Cabinet Office consultation guidelines, as noted here yesterday. Further massaging is however all too evident in the latest pile of documents, so we'll be returning to the matter. The latest consultation itself has been deemed to cover the rollout process alone, and we are told: "The Government has already announced its intention to introduce a national identity cards scheme... The consultation was therefore on the terms of the legislation necessary to introduce identity cards." And the legislation itself was brought in on the basis of "public support" - right? In today's announcement Blunkett turns the ratchet further, saying "I am pleased that the Home Affairs Committee accepted the clear and convincing case in favour of a national ID card scheme... I welcome the constructive suggestions the Home Affairs Committee and others have made, and the improvements to the scheme I am announcing today will make our planned scheme simpler, clearer and more effective. I will now bring forward legislation to bring in a compulsory, national ID card scheme." The Home Office's response to the Committee's heavily critical report appears to include a measure of dumb insolence and bobbing and weaving, for example on criticism governing the Parliamentary process ("proceeding by stealth") of the move to compulsion: "The Government notes the Committee's view, but does not believe that their proposal differs substantively from what is already proposed..." The general tone appears to be that the procedures proposed in the draft bill are perfectly adequate, and that many of the Committee's objections are in fact covered there. We will however subject it to a more detailed analysis later. Having its cake and eating it, the Home Office includes in the 'you've decided already' consultation report some new opinion research data. This is based on focus groups and polling carried out in June and July, and seems of doubtful validity. The polling in particular appearing to indicate a general acceptance of ID cards as 'a good thing' on the part of a public that has scant knowledge of the ID card scheme, because it has not been told. For example: "Despite the low levels of knowledge regarding biometric information, the majority of UK respondents were in favour of providing all three types of biometric details (fingerprints, a facial digital photograph, and an iris digital photograph)". So the government is telling us something like, 'seven out of ten people who don't know what they're talking about think this is a good thing.' Less helpfully, the public continues to fail to provide a clear indication of how much it's prepared to pay for an ID card, 'nothing' apparently not being one of the check boxes. So the verdict here is inconclusive, although by some alchemy we can't quite grasp the report settles on an 'indication' "that respondents would prefer to pay on average between £20 and £30." Hmm... ® * Thank you, everybody, yes we know about the BBC story that says moving away from plans to combine passports, ID and driving licence is a change of plan in response to the Home Affairs Committee. In our opinion it has been clear for some time that a combined card was not going to ship, so we think the BBC is shooting at the wrong target here. In any event, if this was the story it would have been the story when Blunkett referred to a separate card shipping with passports at the Labour Party Conference last month. We expect the BBC will have some footage of this it could consult. Related stories Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card Blunkett poised to open ID scheme offensive tomorrow Home Office seeks spin doctor to sell cuddly ID card brand UK ID cards to be issued with first biometric passports Biometric gear to be deployed in hospitals and GPs' surgeries UK gov pilots passenger tracking in fight against terror Tag, track, watch, analyse - UK goes mad on crime and terror IT
John Lettice, 27 Oct 2004

NASA's Columbia benchmarks 43 teraflops

NASA's Project Columbia supercomputer, which went online yesterday, has clocked a top speed of 42.7 teraflops, or 42.7 trillion floating point calculations per second. Recent progress in the super computing field means that the current Top 500 list of the world's best performing super computers is well and truly out of date. Last month, IBM published benchmark results for its BlueGene machine that put it just ahead of the long standing No. 1 performer, the Japanese Earth Simulator. Mere weeks passed before NEC announced a new machine with a theoretical top speed of 65 teraflops, which would obliterate the 36 teraflops achieved by BlueGene. However, this number is still theoretical, and because there is often a substantial gap between theory and practice, supercomputers must complete a series of calculations known as the Linpack benchmark to qualify for a chart ranking. NASA's new machine, named in honour of the crew of the Columbia space shuttle, passed this benchmark test with flying colours, operating at 88 per cent efficiency, NASA said. Columbia is comprised of an integrated cluster of 20 interconnected SGI Altix 512-processor systems, for a total of 10,240 Intel Itanium 2 processors. It provides NASA a ten fold boost to its computing power, and NASA reports that feedback from scientists has been extremely positive so far. The research and analysis ranges from providing more accurate hurricane predictions, to climate change, galaxy formation, black holes and supernovas. The next chart is due to be published at the SC2004 supercomputing conference on 6-12 November.® Related stories NEC brings supercomputing crown back to Japan BlueGene sneaks past Earth Simulator Cray comes to market with XD1 Sun lassoes Longhorn-sized supercomputer win Brits to demo world's largest computing grid
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Oct 2004

Nildram launches SDSL promo

Nildram - part of Pipex Communications - has cut the cost of SDSL in a bid to stimulate the take-up of the business broadband product. So far, the take-up of Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL) - which is aimed at SMEs that need to send (as well as receive) large amounts of data - has been patchy. Nildram hopes that its decision to cut the monthly cost of its SDSL products by up to 29 per cent will help encourage businesses invest in SDSL. As an added incentive, for a limited period of time Nildram is also waiving the set-up fee for its 1Mbps and 2Mbps SDSL services - a saving of £475. Said Nildram's Andy Taylor: "With SDSL now becoming more widely available and increased interest amongst the business community in the technology, we are pleased to be able to make substantial reductions in price at this time." ® Related stories Bulldog targets SMEs with unbundled SDSL BT cuts cost of SDSL BT cuts cost of SDSL BT flogs SDSL to data-heavy small firms Fifty more exchanges to get SDSL
Tim Richardson, 27 Oct 2004

Big.biz struggles against security threats

Most large companies are struggling to protect themselves against security threats, a survey from security consultancy NetSec published today reveals. Failure to patch and update systems effectively after the identification of known threats is the single largest operational risk UK-based companies with operations overseas and more than 5,000 employees. A third of the sample of 40 senior UK-based IT security personnel quizzed by NetSec said it took more than six hours to contain a new threat across their organization. Speed of response to known threats and vulnerabilities is vital in limiting systems damage and subsequent cost of remedial work, so the inability of many large companies to nip security problems in the bud is a serious concern. Patching was rated the greatest security headache by a third of respondents to the survey. A quarter (25 per cent) saw Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks as the single largest risk to their business, whilst laptop and Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) theft was the key concern for 8.3 per cent of respondents. Application-level threats are by far the most significant emerging threat for large companies this year, with 58 per cent of the sample stating that attacks against enterprise apps gave them the fear. PDA security (31 per cent) and Voice over IP (5.6 per cent) were also rated as significant emerging threat by respondents to the survey. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is seen as having the most impact on enterprises’ information security management planning in 2004 with 36 per cent of the sample giving this a top rating. Basel II came in as the second most important piece of regulation with 25 per cent naming it as having the most impact on information security management planning. BS7799-2:2002, the government's gold standard for information security, came in third with just 19 per cent even though it was rated as the best framework for defining companies’ Information Security Management Systems by the security pros quizzed by NetSec. David Howorth, sales director of NetSec UK Limited, commented: “The findings illustrate that large enterprises already recognise that they are buckling under the strain of the workload created by new vulnerabilities and threats. They are also finding it difficult to resource necessary remedial work in-house. They see new threats emerging and need greater visibility to information about who is responsible for which remedial activities as well as more effective progress reporting to senior management.” The survey was conducted via a written questionnaire circulated at a First Tuesday event held in London on 5 October. Responses were collected from 40 senior director-level individuals working within major companies. Over 80 per cent of the sample was from the banking and financial services markets. The remainder was from the telecoms, central government, media and education markets. ® Related stories Security Report: Windows vs Linux Securing the mobile enterprise US.biz practicing Homeland inSecurity Banks fail to protect IT systems
John Leyden, 27 Oct 2004
channel

ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets

Mercury Research will today publish market data putting ATI well ahead of its arch-rival Nvidia in the graphics chip business. Both, however, are still some way behind the market leader, Intel. Mercury's numbers put Intel's Q3 market share at 39 per cent, up a single percentage point over the previous quarter, separate well-placed industry sources told The Register. ATI came second, with 27 per cent of the market - up four per cent - while Nvidia saw its share fall eight per cent to 15 per cent. In the standalone graphics chip segment, in which Intel is not a player, ATI took 59 per cent of the market, up from 50 per cent in Q2, while Nvidia 37 per cent, down from 46 per cent the previous quarter. Drilling down to the mobile side of the standalone market, ATI ranked market leader, with 72 per cent of the market to Nvidia's 22 per cent, with the rest being mopped up by the likes of VIA and SiS. ATI has long stayed out front in this arena, conversely falling behind in the standalone desktop segment. No longer. During Q3, ATI came away with 55 per cent of the market, growing its share 17 percentage points over the previous quarter. Nvidia lost 16 percentage points of market share, ending up with 42 per cent of the market. In Q2, Nvidia had 58 per cent of that market, ATI 38 per cent. To be fair, Nvidia was able to claim a single win: it took 64 per cent of the high-end, up from 26 per cent in Q2. But that still leaves ATI with the remaining, far larger portion of the desktop standalone space. The integrated sector remains in Intel's bag, with the chip giant taking 61 per cent of the mobile arena and 66 per cent of the desktop market. ATI is on 26 per cent and two per cent, respectively. Nvidia has two per cent of the desktop integrated market, not being a player in the mobile side of the integrated business. Overall the numbers aren't surprising, given the financial data posted by the two graphics chip makers. Nvidia saw its revenues fall 3.4 per cent to $456.1m between Q1 FY2005 and Q2 FY2005, while ATI's sales 16.4 per cent to $575.2m in Q4 FY2004 from Q3 FY2004. ATI's Q4 completed a month after Nvidia's Q2, which would have missed some of the back-to-school sales period and been more heavily affected by the late calendar Q2/early calendar Q3 inventory correction issues that have hit the chip industry hard. That aside, ATI does appear to have benefited from its focus on native PCI Express, which has won it plenty of support from among PC vendors. A big chunk of the more-than-a-million PCI-E parts ATI said in September it had shifted by that time are believed to have gone into Dell's assembly plants, for example. And despite the very limited availability of top-end Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition parts, lesser chips appear to have sold very well. Nvidia will released its results for Q3 FY2005, which ended 24 October, soon, and has already said it expects the quarter's sales to come in well ahead of expectations, with the mid-range GeForce 6600 line expected to have made a big contribution to its bottom line. It also strengthened its lower-end offerings with the GeForce 6200. Nvidia is looking for sales between $510m and $515m. ATI's current quarter, Q1 FY2005, is due to end with come 30 November, and will yield revenues of $600-640m, if the company's expectations are met. Depending on where the final figures fall, Nvidia could close the revenue gap on ATI or see it widen. ® Related stories Nvidia ups Q3 sales forecast Nvidia Q2 sales, income slide Nvidia pushes GeForce 6200 at value end Nvidia revs GeForce 6600, 6600 GT ATI Q4 sales, income rocket ATI breaks revenue record ATI unveils mid-range Radeon X700
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

Orange Mobile Office 3G data card

ReviewReview Vodafone's Mobile Connect 3G data card is an invaluable tool for anyone who needs to stay connected on the move. One of the things that make the Mobile Connect so great are reduced connection prices. The reason for the drop in tariffs was increased competition, in particular from Orange's Mobile Office Card, writes Riyad Emeran. I didn't expect there to be a huge amount of difference between the Vodafone and Orange data card offerings, but this assumption was far from correct. Let's start with the way the cards look, although I'm well aware that this isn't going to be enough to sway anyone's buying decision. The Vodafone card is bright red, showing off the corporate colours, while the Orange card is black with a square orange badge on it. They both protrude about the same distance from the side of your notebook, but at first I thought that the Orange card didn't have a connector for a booster antenna. Flipping the card onto its back I spotted a small plastic bung which hides the antenna connector. Not only does this placement of the connector make it more difficult to plug in an antenna, but it also leaves you with a small plastic bung lying around that you're bound to lose. Another slightly disappointing aspect about the Orange Mobile Office Card is that it doesn't come in a protective case like the Vodafone card. OK, perhaps this is a small point, but I like the fact that I can keep the Vodafone card in my bag protected by its figure hugging plastic case. If you want to keep the Orange card protected, you'll have to carry it around in its DVD packaging-style case. You could leave the card in your notebook, but then it does stick out and could cause damage to your PC Card slot. Loading up the software for the Mobile Office Card was pretty painless, leaving you to just insert the card and get going. The Orange application isn't as instantly intuitive as the Vodafone version. But then looks and ease of use are only a small part of the problem. With the Vodafone card, once you're connected you can do anything from browsing the Internet to sending text messages. The way that Orange has set its application up, however, you can only do one thing at a time. If I choose to connect to the Internet, that's all that the card will be able to do. So, if I decide that I need to send an SMS while I'm browsing, that message will just sit there in my outbox until I disconnect from the Internet. The minute that the Internet connection is dropped, your SMS will be sent. I would say that the modular nature of the Mobile Office Card software is the most bizarre part of the package, but it isn't. Without a doubt, that honour goes to the signal strength indicator. Now, we're all used to signal strength indicators because every mobile phone has one - it's a little gauge with bars, that tells you how much signal strength you have at that moment, so you're probably wondering how Orange could have got this feature wrong. But the signal strength indicator on the Mobile Office Card doesn't show you how strong your signal is at that moment, oh no. To quote the manual: "The more bars showing, the stronger the signal. This will not alter while a connection is in progress; it will show the signal strength when you first launched the application." Yep, that's right, the signal strength indicator doesn't show you your current signal strength, but instead shows you how good your signal was an hour ago when you connected. This is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that you could be using your notebook on a train, so you're being told what the signal strength was like at another time and in another place. I just can't imagine what would have possessed Orange to implement things this way, but what you end up with is a signal strength indicator that's as good as useless. Just like the Vodafone card, the Orange Mobile Office Card should give you a maximum transfer speed of 384Kbps with a 3G connection, but I didn't once manage to achieve a connection higher than 115Kbps. As a result, the Orange card does feel sluggish compared to the Vodafone Mobile Connect, and I did test both cards one after the other in an array of different locations. Also, the coverage seemed to be slightly better from Vodafone - both cards had no problem connecting all around London and in Bracknell. However, while I was in St Albans waiting for a new set of brake pads to be fitted to my car, I was unable to get any form of connection from the Orange card, while the Vodafone card provided me with access, albeit via GPRS rather than 3G. To be fair though, I'm sure there are places where the Orange card will have coverage and the Vodafone won't, but it's worth remembering that if you're planning on being outside a major city, either of these data cards could let you down. The last part of the puzzle is cost and just as with the Vodafone Mobile Connect, the initial purchase price of the Orange Mobile Office Card varies depending on which tariff you choose. With a purchase cost of £149 and a monthly charge of £23.50, you get 65MB of download data per month, whereas using the Vodafone Mobile Connect you get 75MB for exactly the same cost structure. To be fair, as I already mentioned, Vodafone dropped its pricing in response to Orange's price plans, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Orange's costs drop sometime in the near future. I would also hope that Orange will look into its software and try to create a more usable environment that allows you to use all the services all of the time. However, as things stand Vodafone is offering a better package, with superior software, faster performance and more bundled data. Verdict Orange has been slow out of the gate with its 3G service, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. However, with a clumsy interface, slower connection speed and less competitive tariffs, Orange will find it tough to compete with the already established Vodafone Mobile Connect. Orange Mobile Office Card   Rating 60%   Price £149   More info The Orange website Recent Reviews Sony Ericsson P910i smart phone Navman PiN GPS PocketPC Griffin radioShark ALK CoPilot Smartphone Philips 755 mobile phone Samsung X10 Plus slimline notebook Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music Evesham e-box Media Center 2005 PC
Trusted Reviews, 27 Oct 2004

HDTVs and iPods set to be Xmas crackers

High-definition televisions (HDTVs), plasma TVs and iPods are set to become the must-have electronic Christmas gifts this year, according to a report by Forrester. Its survey of gadget lovers in the US and Europe found that digital gear is once again set to pour out of shops in the run-up to the annual shopping splurge. As well as TVs and music players, analysts reckon DVD-playing laptops will prove a hit with parents keen to keep the kids quiet for a couple of hours. Digital cameras and photo printers are also expected to sell well. Said Forrester analyst, Paul Jackson: "Newly affordable technology, like digital cameras and super-cheap DVD players, will once again propel technology to the top of people's Xmas lists. This season, avoid devices that require too much learning from the poor friend or family member who gets it. Instead, think about which product will slip into their lifestyle." If none of these ring your festive bell and you're still looking for gift ideas for someone special, then the experts reckon digital weatherstations (forget oak-mounted barometers) or some glowing mood ball could be just the ticket. What's the matter with a pair of novelty socks and aftershave like last year? ® Related stories Philips' athletic MP3 player hits the track Sharp launches '3D' LCD screen iTrip FM beamer back in black for U2 iPod Apple unveils color photo iPod
Tim Richardson, 27 Oct 2004

Hospital networks Wi-Fi patients

A UK hospital is tagging patients with Wi-Fi transmitters and tracking their movements with a wireless network in a bid to reduce medical errors and reduce litigation costs. When patients arrive for an operation at the Heartlands Hospital in the Midlands, they will be snapped with a digital camera and tagged with a transmitter. The picture and transmitter details will then be paired with their electronic record. Although the hospital and the companies behind the system insist that this wireless tracking system is a world first, it is not the only outbreak of patient tagging. The Jacobi Medical Centre in New York recently started tagging patients with RFID chips to speed identification, while in Mexico City, Authorities took to chipping Alzheimer patients. Normally we at El Reg delight in such deployments of cutting-edge technology but we must confess to a certain fondness for the time-honoured practice of sticking someone's name on a bit of "paper" and pinning it to their chest. The data can easily be read using the "eyeball" device, and as a second, failsafe method of identification, the revolutionary facial recognition system known as "brain" can be engaged. However, this age-old technology has its problems, as David Morgan, an Ear Nose and Throat consultant at the hospital explains: "Our current paper process is error prone, technology is available now which can help reduce human error and improve Operating Room theatre efficiency. These improved efficiencies translate into saving more lives, reducing costs and significantly improving the patient experience." He can now locate a patient to within yards using the tracking system, and can update the operating list while he makes his rounds, rather than dealing with a typed list. Similarly, patient data can be routed to the room they are in without having to send a person with the right records. Heartlands Hospital has paid £25,000 to install the system in two operating rooms and one ward. ® Related stories Feds approve human RFID implants RFID promoter can't stand being tracked Outbreak of RFID tagging at medical facilities
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Oct 2004
Broken CD with wrench

iPass to link phones, PDAs to corporate LANs

Corporate remote access provider iPass this week announced a move into the mobile device management sector after revealing rising Q3 revenue and income. For the three months to 30 September 2004, iPass realised revenues of $41.9m, up 3.7 per cent on the previous quarter and 19.7 per cent on Q3 2003's $35m. Q3's sales yielded $5.2m (eight cents a share) of net income, up 15.6 per cent sequentially from Q3 2003's $4.5m (seven cents a share) and $4.5m in Q2 2004. Operating income totalled $8m, up from the previous quarter's figure of $7.2m and the $6.2m recorded for Q3 2003. During the quarter, iPass saw the number of users accessing its aggregated network of dial-up numbers, Wi-Fi hotpots and wired Ethernet links jump from 415,000 in September 2003 to 526,000 in September 2004, though that figures is down on July 2004's total, 528,000. Looking ahead, iPass said it expects Q4 to yield earnings of around six cents a share, down from operating earnings of seven cents a share thanks to the cost of acquiring the privately held Safe3w, a provider of device 'fingerprinting' technology which it will use in its Policy Orchestration system - the foundation of the company's evolution from a provider of remote access to effectively offer outsourced extensions to the corporate LAN. The company also said it has agreed to acquire Mobile Automation, which develops software to allow corporates to centrally manage mobile device assets to ensure they can be used to connect to an enterprise's network securely and keep OS and apps up to date. That's clearly a key component of iPass' Policy Orchestration, particularly as more handheld devices are used to connect back to base rather than laptops. It also ties in to the Safe3w acquisition. IPass' Q4 forecast does not include the cost of privately held Mobile Automation acquisition, which comes to $20m in cash, to be paid from iPass' reserves. The purchase is expected to be completed by the end of November 2004. ® Related stories iPass extends Wi-Fi coverage to stratosphere iPass touts network access policy devolution Report raps Wi-Fi providers for 'location inflation' iPass aggregates T-Mobile US hotspots Broadreach scoops up roaming partners iPass aggregates Swisscom hotspots
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

Introducing the fighting, drug-taking virtual footballer

Argentinian computer games publisher Evolution is developing a football management game that presents a "warts-and-all-version" of the beautiful game. Football Deluxe players have to contend with fights on the training ground, financial problems and demanding fans as well as the team strategy decisions that are the mainstay of more conventional football management games. The game is currently undergoing testing and is likely to be released in Britain sometime next year, Ananova reports. Future versions of Football Deluxe will incorporate bribery and drug-taking, reports Terra Noticias Populares via Ananova. Developer Santiago Siri, 21, said: "We thought it would be cool to include a bit of the Argentine temper. We made the game funnier. In the next edition I will include the possibility for club owners to buy off referees and footballers will be able to take drugs to enhance their performance." A good start and with the further introduction of references to sexual shenanigans and tunnel bust-ups the developers will get even closer to representing English football. Screenshots and more information on Football Deluxe is available here. ® Related stories UK fields footballing RoboBeckhams Beckham penalty outrage ball to tour UK Football League clubs to offer Wi-Fi Football. Culture. Everything in between
John Leyden, 27 Oct 2004

Wobbly Aussies fail squat-to-pee test

Australian research into the perfect peeing position has faltered because a third of the study's volunteers couldn't squat properly. Apparently, a third of the 100 women who were taking part couldn't hold the squat position for even 30 seconds before falling over, leading the researchers to conclude that Westerners cannot squat. This baffled us sufficiently that we had to conduct a field trial, to find out exactly what it is about squatting that is so difficult for Westerners. The good news is that everyone at The Register can squat quite comfortably, although we stress that we were not trying to pee at the time of the test. For those who must know, the correct squatting position involves the feet being flat on the floor, and it seems this is the tricky part. Our tight Western calves mean that when our feet are flat on the ground, we tend to fall over backwards. The research, being conducted at the James Cook University by Professor Ajay Rane, is the second phase of a project designed to investigate causes of incontinence. Earlier, Professor Rane determined that the best possible position to pee in when sitting on a toilet, is feet flat, leaning forward as if reading something on the floor. In this phase, he collected data on the 100 women for two years. Equipment collected data on the speed and volume of urine and measured how long it took to get to maximum peeing speed. No, we are not making this up. More on the health benefits of squatting can be found here Seriously, have a look. It's a riot. ® Related stories Aussie boffins probe lesbian cows Swearing makes you impotent: official Peruvians develop super-tasty guinea pig Killer hamster ices owner
Lucy Sherriff, 27 Oct 2004

Dell pushes Linux into the data centre

Dell is to certify and pre-install Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 on select Dell PowerEdge servers worldwide, the system vendor announced today. The deal, an extension of the previously announced relationship between the two companies, means Dell customers will be able to buy Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 with their single-and dual-processor PowerEdge servers. Dell said the agreement will make it easier for customers to replace costly proprietary Unix-based systems or to deploy Linux for the first time. "This is another great example of Dell and Novell's ability to work together to move standards-based computing further into the data centre," said Linda York, vice president of global alliances marketing in Dell's Product Group. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, is based on the new Linux 2.6 kernel, and is positioned by Novell as a replacement for proprietary Unix platforms in web farms, IT infrastructure and custom applications. The operating systems will be available with Dell PowerEdge 1850, 2800 and 2850 servers worldwide in the fourth quarter. Deployment will be supported by Dell services through a collaborative support agreement with Novell to give customers a single point of contact. Annual maintenance subscriptions will cost $175 per single-CPU server and $269 for a dual CPU subscription. ® Related stories Novell takes SuSE Enterprise Linux to the next kernel SuSE and Dell buddy up Raising the Linux Standard
John Leyden, 27 Oct 2004

Spanish MP3 site owner to pay RIAA $10m

Four men who attempted to use what they believed was a loophole in Spanish law to allow them to sell MP3s online legally, along with the company behind the site they ran, have agreed to pay music labels $10.5m to settle the copyright infringement case brought against them by the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA). The site, Puretunes.com, was set up in May 2003 to sell music download subscriptions. According to one-time Grokster CEO Wayne Rosso, who left the P2P company to join Puretunes, the site was established in Madrid to take advantage of a quirk of Spanish law that the company believed allowed it to sell to the US music licensed through Spanish music publishing agencies but without having to deal with the record labels themselves. Unfortunately, no such loophole existed. According to Rosso, the company killed the Puretunes.com site when it became clear that this was the case. The site was shut down in June 2003, less than a month after it opened for business. While it was operational, Puretunes sold download subscriptions, ranging from $4 for eight hours a month access to the site, to $168 for a 12 months' access. Since the closure, a number of former users have alleged that they never received refunds when the site closed. And an investigation carried out by German IT site Heise Online at the time revealed a number of tracks made available by Puretunes contained ID3 tags added by controversial Russian music site allofmp3.com, suggesting they had been copied. The RIAA sued four named Puretunes operators - in addition to Rosso, it named Daniel Rung, Michael Rung and Matthew Rung - and the firm that owned it, Sakfield Holding Company SA, in July 2003. It alleged not only copyright infringement but that the defendants had defrauded customers into believing Puretunes had secured licences from RIAA members evn though they hadn't. A Register investigation at the time revealed the Madrid-based Sakfield was owned by Dutch company Chantik Financing Services, which was then administered by NCS in Amsterdam on behalf of owners Dean Properties on the Caribbean island of Curacao and MTM Group on Bermuda. Dean Properies was at the time administrated by a trust agent in Miami. The settlement of that suit will see Sakfield pay RIAA members $10m, with Rosso and the Rungs together coughing up an additional $500,000. All of them agree not to undertake any activity that would violate music labels' copyright. ® Related stories Much smoke to BPI's fileshare suits, but where's the fire? Consumer, privacy groups demand seat at Kazaa trial MPAA asks Supreme Court to crush P2Pers UK record industry sues 28 file-sharers Kazaa colleague sues RIAA Aussie judge sets Kazaa trial date RIAA sues Spanish music site DRM-less MP3s from $3.99
Tony Smith, 27 Oct 2004

Bush website conspiracy theories darken skies

The official Bush re-election website - which blocked access to most of the world outside the US this week - is still visible to Canadians. We don't know if it's fears about future attacks by hackers, concerns about keeping bandwidth costs to a minimum or an aggressive response to pinko UK broadsheet The Guardian's recent shameful pro-Kerry political lobbying efforts in Ohio which are behind moves that have rendered GeorgeWBush.com inaccessible to world + dog. Or, to be strictly accurate, most of the world bar the US and Canada which is presumably considered bandwidth-friendly, hacker-free and mercifully bereft of pinko broadsheets. We called the Republican National Committee for comment but they couldn't get back to us because campaign volunteers are not allowed to phone outside the US. So, we can't see Bush's website because of reckless politicking by pinko broadsheet agitators, Republicans can't call outside the US lest they be corrupted by pinko broadsheet agitators, but Canadians are exempt because - well, readers will have to answer that for themselves but a massive black swarm of black helicopters is already hovering menacingly on the horizon. Meanwhile, the official website of the Kerry/Edwards campaign (JohnKerry.com) is still accessible to all and sundry - as is the satire site GeorgeWBush.org. How many would-be visitors to GeorgeWBush.com - including US service men and citizens living abroad and now denied their God-given right to freely surf the Land of the Free - will wind up at the satire site, we wonder? We weep for democracy. ® Related stories Bush website adopts isolationist stance Guardian US vote wheeze down in flames Lime-sucking Brits absorb heavy US flak Bush's search for clean Cuban hookers goes awry
John Leyden, 27 Oct 2004