29th > October > 2004 Archive

Belkin out on a limb with 802.11n?

What exactly provoked the WiFi Alliance to threaten to withdraw its imprimatur from anybody who started announcing 802.11n technology? An obvious suspect has to be whoever it is who is offering "pre-N" technology, eh, Belkin? Well, it aint them. The proof? They say so. NewsWireless readers were fascinated to hear about the WiFi Alliance warnings, and asked: "Where does this sit with the Belkin product announcement, then?" So we asked Belkin. After all, all the things they say about Wireless Pre-N products are hauntingly similar in their spec to what we would expect next year from 802.11n. "Belkin's new Pre-N products allow you to share your broadband Internet connection farther and faster than ever. They deliver up to 800% the wireless coverage and 600% the wireless speed of 802.11g networking devices - with exceptional data transfer results." And the pre-N router too... We asked, why - so shortly after they announced these Wireless Pre-N products, did the WiFi Alliance threaten excommunication for anybody who jumped the gun on 802.11n? Was it possible that the Alliance disapproved? No. Not at all. "Belkin fully supports the WiFi Alliance initiatives," came the response. "Our Wireless Pre-N products are WiFi certified under IEEE 802.11b & 802.11g standards and are fully interoperable with other IEEE compliant 802.11b and 802.11g products." The explanation continues: "Belkin Pre-N products are not 802.11n certified and are not compatible with 802.11n." Well, yes; that sort of goes without saying, because there is no 802.11n standard yet, so compatibility would be a neat trick. But that being the case, why call it Pre-N? "The Pre-N name is not intended to imply 802.11n standard interoperability. Rather, it represents products that offer consumers dramatically improved benefits over the latest wireless technology. Those benefits include 800% wider coverage, 600% faster speeds than 802.11g, and the ability to enhance the performance of any existing 802.11b and g standard based devices." The choice of the letter "n" was, then, just one of those odd coincidences, like the short time gap between the Pre-N announcement and the Alliance press release. "Let me know if you have questions," concluded the official spokesman. No, thank you: we think that's clear enough for anybody. Copyright © Newswireless.net Related stories WiFi Alliance warns chip makers over 802.11n claims Wi-Fi group says 'no' to pre-standard 802.11n kit Firms tout 'universal' tech for 802.11n Will pressure to speed up 802.11n wreck standards process? Broadcom jumping the gun with pre-standard 802.11n?
Guy Kewney, 29 Oct 2004

US giants move to can spammers

The US's biggest internet companies have launched yet another crackdown against spammers as part of their latest efforts to protect net users from junk email. AOL, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo! filed lawsuits against dozens of people yesterday in federal courts under US "Can-Spam" anti-spam legislation as part of their on-going war against this scourge of the internet. AOL filed lawsuits against 20 "John Does" accused of sending "SPIM" - spam instant messages - while another court action dealt with spammers peddling prescription drugs. Some of the actions were prompted following complaints from AOL's users in Canada and Europe. "These lawsuits demonstrate that AOL's assault on spammers on behalf of our members continues unabated. AOL and our members continue to make spam-fighting a priority, and we continue to use the legal process on their behalf to help put a lid on the worst, most active spammers - no matter where they are, or how they send their unwanted junk," said Randall Boe, General Counsel of AOL. He went on: "This means pursuing spammers who are either using new platforms, such as instant messaging or chat rooms, or those who are peddling junk to our members abroad, such as Europe or Canada, or pursuing spammers who are advertising dangerous drugs. Popping a pill prescribed by a spammer is akin to online 'Russian roulette' or online trick-or-treating - you never know what you're going to get, and it could end up being more than just a scary trick." Yahoo! filed a lawsuit against "East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group, Inc." and "Epoth LLC" for sending sexually-explicit spam to its email users. Yahoo! general counsel Mike Callahan said that the internet giant was "holding spammers directly accountable for unlawfully disguising their identity and using this practice to deceive e-mail users". EarthLink's lawsuits against numerous "John Does" targeted those flogging prescription drugs and low-rate mortgages. Microsoft's sweep also included spammers punting herbal growth supplements and get-rich-quick schemes which all breach the US's CAN-SPAM federal law. This is the second time that AOL, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo! - aka the Anti-Spam Alliance - have taken legal action against spammers. In March they filed six lawsuits against hundreds of defendants including people suspected of being among the US's most prolific spammers. ® Related stories Big US ISPs set legal attack dogs on big, bad spammers Big six unite to can spam US tops junk mail Dirty Dozen - again
Tim Richardson, 29 Oct 2004

Data protection watchdog distributes email mailing list

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA), which supervises the compliance with acts that regulate the use of personal data, was rather red-faced this week when it sent out a newsletter with all of the recipients in the Cc: field instead of the Bcc: field. DPA's news letter goes out to 4000 subscribers. The DPA, which supervises the compliance with the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act and the Dutch Municipal Database Personal Records Act, was lucky that 'only' a thousand subscribers received the letter, but it managed to make the mistake twice. In a message it apologised for sending the first letter, again putting all recipients to the Cc list, so a second apology had to be sent. The Dutch DPA advises the government, tests codes of conduct, studies technological developments, handles complaints, evaluates processing of personal data and, if necessary, takes enforcement action. In 2002 Eli Lilly, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, got punished over its accidental release of subscribers’ email addresses to all those who receive as prozac.com email alert. The company had to pay a fine of $160,000, divided among the states of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont and California. Related stories SurfControl distributes email mailing list Symantec spills email addresses of list subscribers How secure is CA's security mailing list?
Jan Libbenga, 29 Oct 2004

BOFH: When sorry seems to be the hardest word

Episode 37Episode 37 Sigh. It seems that no matter what I do nor how helpful I try to be, there's always someone who's not happy. It seems that all the PFY and I get is negative feedback. It's enough to make a man question his career in technical support. Worse still, I know the Boss has received a complaint about my most recent efforts and has made some very rash promises about how it will be made right... The Boss tries the softly-softly approach at first so as to lull me into a false sense of security - not knowing that all calls originating in the sixth floor and terminating at his office are automatically flagged for my attention. "So, how're things going?" he asks. "Good." "I see... Anything... ... going on?" he asks. "Not really." "No calls from, say Board members?" he hints, with a tiny tinge of annoyance. "Board members.... Board Members.... No, can't say offhand that I... wait a minute! Yes, I got a call this morning from one. Helped him with a mailing problem!" "Yes, he says your instructions deleted all his mail and public folders." "Really? What was the problem again?" "He's had errors accessing his Mail data ever since someone set his home computer up as a synchronisation server." "And does he get errors now?" "Obviously not!" "So you're saying that the problem's gone away?" I respond, helpfully. "Always a pleasure to receive positive feedback!" "Making it disappear is not solving a problem!" "But, it's not causing problems any more!!!" "You can't just resolve a problem by removing it!" "Can't we?" The PFY replies, entering the conversation from the Computer room doorway. "No!" "So I should put the virus back onto the financials fileserver?" "No!" "But you just..." "I know what I said, but if we used that approach to everything the answer to the virus-in-email problem would have been to remove the mail system!" "Why didn't I think of that?!" the PFY blurts excitedly, grabbing a hammer. "Back in a tick!" "STOP!" the boss commands, unsure of what the PFY would do to make a point. "Speaking of Viruses, the board member also claims that when he rang you back about his email being gone you said you thought the SureCam worm must have been unleashed on his desktop and that he should quarantine all his files in the Recycle bin!!" What the hell! "It's a fair cop guv!" I confess, hoping that a quick confession will get the witch hunt over and done with so I can continue my server repair. "Wa?" the boss burbles. "It was me. I did it, I'm not proud of it, I'll never do it again. So, I suppose it's time for a nasty memo to float down from above about us being more kind to people who don't deserve computers." "No, nothing like that. Apparently he rang his wife and all his work is synchronised at home and he only lost a couple of email messages that came in this morning. So all he wants is an apology." "Well I'm sure he's looking forward to your call…" "Ah, no, he'd like an apology from you. In person and in writing." . . . "And I'd like a secure Microsoft application - but we can't always get what we want!" "Well this has been up to the Chairman of the Board himself!" the Boss responds reverently, pointing at the ceiling. "But it's just a quiet word or two, no biggy. Just to show that we're approachable and make mistakes too..." "I see. So he wants me to go up and tell him how sorry I am?" "Him and the rest of the board, yes." Perfect. Two hours later I'm in the lift in my Sunday best. Ten minutes later, I'm back, to the visible pleasure of half the department. "So how did they take it?" the Boss asks, stopping short of breaking out into laughter. "Stunned silence." "Really? I have to admit that I thought you'd rather quit than apolo..." "No, I mean stunned, as in stunned. Did you know that the ornamental copper band around the boardroom table is a perfect conductor?" "I..." "And get this, the footrest at the base of the table is earthed!!!" "What did you do?!" the Boss gasps. "Not a thing!! One of the standalone light units fell onto the table, breaking the globe and electrocuting half the board members. The odds of it happening are astronomical!" "It just 'happened'?" the Boss says drily. "Yeah! I mean to engineer something like that would be.. well it would be a huge job! You'd have to place the lamp just so, overbalancing it so that the slightest touch would tip it over, remove the safety grill and glass, replace the building's residual current circuit breakers with hard fuse, um... earth the foot rests I suppose - it would take... I don't know how long!" "23 minutes, 37 seconds - including travel time," the PFY says. "What?!" the Boss and I both cry. "Did it the whole time you were getting changed for your meeting," he says to me. "I mean how would it look, a computing professional apologising to a luser group!" "RIGHT! You're not getting away with this!" the Boss snaps, storming out to call security. "I..." I say, a bit choked up by the PFY's loyalty. "I don't know what to say! But.. I was away at least three quarters of an hou…" My thanks are interrupted by a >Crash< >ZZZZZzert!< from the direction of the Boss's office just before the lights go out. "Ah! So you'll be wanting a pint then?" "Several," the PFY says, grabbing his coat. Behold the power of positive feedback! ® 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, 29 Oct 2004

US Secret Service busts 28 ID fraudsters

UpdatedUpdated A US-led operation targeting ID fraud crooks has led to the arrest of 28 people across seven countries this week. The arrests follow an undercover operation headed by US Secret Service agents that successful infiltrated gangs that traded sensitive personal information and tips on ID fraud and forgery through online groups called Shadowcrew, Carderplanet and Darkprofits. The organisations were described by the US Justice Department as running a "one-stop marketplace for identity theft". Operation Firewall identified a group of suspects investigators reckon collectively stole over 1.7 million credit card numbers as well as forging driving licenses, birth certificates and passports. Losses to banks through credit card fraud because of the gang's activities are estimated at $4.3m. The suspects face identity theft, computer fraud, credit card fraud and conspiracy charges. "These suspects targeted the sensitive and private information of ordinary citizens as well as the confidential and proprietary information of companies," said Secret Service director W Ralph Basham. He added that the early arrest of the suspects prevented losses that could have run into hundreds of millions of dollars. Operation Firewall began in July 2003 as an investigation in access device fraud before expanding into an investigation of global credit card fraud and identity theft fraud. The US Secret Service singled out the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Europol for praise in supporting the investigation. In a statement (PDF) the US Secret Service said Operation Firewall had led to the arrest of suspects in "eight states and six foreign countries" this week. Among those arrested was a 19 year-old from Camberley, Surrey, who was picked up on Wednesday (27 October). The Secret Service hasn't said which other countries are involved. But since US authorities worked with their counterparts in the UK, Canada, Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine and the Netherlands we can deduce that the suspects came from one or other of those countries or the US. ® Related stories 6m South Koreans exposed in slam and spam scam ID thieves target enterprises Invasion of the identity snatchers World's largest ID theft felon faces 14 years' jail 150+ cuffed in US-led cybercrime crackdown
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2004

Nokia makes play for mobile content

Java has suffered as a mobile content platform, compared to Qualcomm Brew, by having a fragmented channel and a confused economic proposition for developers. Nokia aims to change that with its new Preminet aggregation, download and billing framework. Although operators can brand the service themselves, reflecting the shift away from handset branding, in the longer term Nokia could sideline them by accelerating the creation of open IP portals. Nokia aims to stay out of the battle of content branding and ensure that it controls the underlying software and relationships, giving it the critical position whatever trends drive mobile applications in future. Despite the rapid growth of mobile Java and the strengths of the industry forces ranged behind it, Qualcomm's Brew platform has clung on stubbornly in the hearts and minds of carriers and content developers. Brew may have had to adapt to Java's presence (and will run on Java platforms now), but it has not been crushed by the Sun-driven technology. Of course, Qualcomm has made a business of standing against the industry standard with its own technology, but Brew does have some genuine advantages over Java, which Nokia is now seeking to neutralize with the creation of, in effect, the first real ecosystem for J2ME. In so doing, it could achieve a huge level of control over how mobile content is handled, and further its goal of gaining power through software. Brew's advantages Brew's greatest appeal to CDMA carriers is that it offers a ready-to-go system with simple distribution, digital rights management and billing frameworks and aggregated content. Its big advantage for content developers is that Qualcomm controls the value chain and so it is clear where each element sits and how money is made. It's the old Microsoft dilemma - open standards may be preferable, but sometimes there is a reassurance in having just one version of a technology, firmly controlled by one vendor rather than a committee. Sun went some way to matching Brew's advantages in J2ME when it acquired Pixo, whose technology became the basis for its Content Delivery Server for carriers, which aggregates, manages and bills for downloaded material in the same way that Brew does. A year ago, it duly introduced that product and made its first steps towards a formal ecosystem with standard methods of gathering content, provisioning it, collecting payments and sharing them with partners. Key to this was the Java Mobility Advantage Programme to help operators and developers develop, manage and sell Java services. However, little really happened as a result of these changes, and the channel to market remained fragmented between over 100 third party download platforms. Now the baton has passed to Nokia, which has announced a framework called Preminet within its Forum Nokia developer group. This promises to codify the J2ME ecosystem and its mechanisms, just as Qualcomm has for Brew. Preminet is a distribution and transaction service, offering a one-stop shop for developers and carriers on either CDMA or GSM-based systems. While Brew has opened up to Java, Nokia has excluded Brew, mandating J2ME applications for Preminet. It said it had rejected Brew because of its small base compared to that of Java (there are about 38m Brew devices worldwide, while J2ME is embedded in about 500m cellphones, though not necessarily actively used). Nokia, which has a bitter rivalry with Qualcomm, is clearly keen to see Brews sidelined still further. Nokia director Steeg Thygesen managed to damn it with faint praise, referring to it as "an interesting, proprietary solution for an early stage market", but one without a long term future. Operators take brand control - for now Nokia's avid support for J2ME is in keeping with its strategy of encouraging uptake of mobile data applications, thus boosting demand for highly specified cellphones and for the Nokia Series 60 software platform, which supports Java. It is also better positioned than Sun to make an ecosystem really take off for J2ME, with its deep understanding of mobile developers and their requirements. What is more indicative of the changing times for handset makers, though, is that Preminet will provide an operator branded content distribution system. As large cellcos set increasing store by building their own content brands, the handset makers are having to make concessions to this, at the expense of their own brand visibility. This is even true of Nokia, whose brand is a powerful one - a recent study by Unisys found that 75 per cent of under 18s surveyed thought that Nokia was their service provider and that they would specify a phone brand ahead of an operator. But increasingly, the Finnish giant is cultivating that brand in its high end enterprise and multimedia activities, and submitting to the cellcos in the midrange. It recently exited the ringtones business that it had offered through its Club Nokia outlet, presumably under pressure from operators, for which ringtones are their primary source of data revenue after SMS. And mobile operating systems are giving up control of look and feel to the carriers too. PalmSource and Microsoft now allow operators to customize the interface for their systems, and Symbian subsidiary UIQ, which makes the user interface for Sony Ericsson phones, has unveiled an operator configuration package too. With Preminet, the carrier can easily amass and distribute Java-based content, all under its own brand and with its own choices of user navigation and interface. Preminet's real significance However, Nokia may be just biding its time. If Preminet becomes the main framework for J2ME content download, and therefore the dominant one on the whole GSM/GPRS/3G system, it gives Nokia a hugely powerful position in the cellular market. It is one that fits perfectly with its recent goal of gaining influence and revenue through software, taking the Microsoft approach of providing the guts of a system and making itself indispensable, thus making concessions on handset design less painful. We have seen this with the licensing of Series 60, the near-control of the Symbian OS and its increasing focus on creating a developer community to try to rival that for Windows and .Net. Once in control of the content framework, Nokia will have shifted the balance of power neatly in its own direction and will be ready to open up the system to other, more amenable partners. The operators may have the shiniest content portals now, with Live! ahead of the pack, but J2ME's openness also presents a threat to their walled gardens. Broader Java-based content portals are being set up by media companies, and this trend will be accelerated as more handsets feature open IP access. Nokia already plans to work with some of these portals, as well as with cellcos, via Preminet. Media companies such as News International and broadcaster Endemol are seeking to form direct mobile relationships with consumers using Java, and we can be sure that Nokia will grasp the opportunity to help them, prising loose the operators' grip on its current decisions. The operators can use IP blocking to ensure that users remain within their own portals, but they are also attracted by the increased GPRS or 3G traffic open access could generate, as well as scared of backlash from consumers who are increasingly aware of the potential for mobile internet access. Wooing the developers Before Nokia can achieve its desired position, it will have to win over the content developers, just as it has been working to do for Series 60. The main strength for Brew in CDMA - in contrast to the fragmented world of GSM-based download services - has been that its business model is simple and really works for developers. Brew is not known for being either easy or cool to develop for, but it can be very lucrative because of the way Qualcomm controls it. Qualcomm sets the revenue share for the operators, as well as all the billing and settlement, and makes it very easy for subscribers to buy applications, as well as imposing clear guidelines for how much their creators are paid. Nokia must make Preminet equally attractive. The advantages are clear - carriers are presented with a catalog of content from which they can select applications, with a brandable download client, while developers have to just submit their application once for it to be on show to all participating carriers. Preminet provides a framework for content providers and carriers to negotiate a price, so that likely revenues are predictable for the developer because rules are consistent, and handles billing and payment (Nokia takes a cut of content sales). The biggest drawback for developers will be that the scheme will use Java Certified and Symbian Signed QA mechanisms for ensuring quality of the applications. This lowers support costs for the operator and assures subscribers of bug-free software, but developers have to pay for the certification as well as going through the processes, which can be a turn-off for smaller programmers. Java verification starts at $200 and Symbian Signed testing costs $700 plus $400 per year. Developers must also join Forum Nokia Pro, which costs about €3,000 a year. However, while ongoing costs in the Brew program are low, upfront investment can be $10,000. As well as getting pricing right, it will also be vital for end users that, while allowing operators to brand their portals, that Nokia does not let them lock their devices and prevent users installing applications from other content download services such as Handango. This is a real downside of Brew, which is often used by CDMA operators to keep phone users away from content outside their own stores. However, Nokia is operating in a less tightly controlled environment than CDMA, where users do not have to put up with such tactics; and one where it seeks to gain power through opening up software platforms like Series 60, not closing them down and so strengthening the operators' walled gardens. Lee Epting, vice president in charge of Forum Nokia, knows that a streamlined distribution process will not be enough in itself to boost ARPU and encourage upgrades to smartphones. For such content to be consistently profitable, it must be readily available and easily used, something that Brew has made possible in CDMA. "I would say the consumer awareness issue is the one nut we have yet to crack," Epting said. "If we can make it an experience where the consumer doesn't have to go looking for content it will ultimately drive the revenue that will come out of this type of model." Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories World mobile phone shipments up 25% Global smart phone sales soar RIM rises as PalmOne slides in Euro device market
Wireless Watch, 29 Oct 2004

AMD launches PC 'for the rest of us world'

AMD yesterday formally launched 'Emma' - its low-cost Internet access appliance - or the 'Personal Internet Communicator', as its now officially dubbed. As anticipated, the PIC is a compact Windows CE-based machine equipped with an AMD Geode GX500 processor, 128MB of DDR SDRAM, a 10GB hard drive, modem, four USB ports, and a mouse and keyboard and modem to plug into them. It ships with a 15in monitor. As many Register readers have pointed out, AMD could no doubt make the PIC even cheaper if it used Linux as the operating system and other open source software instead of Microsoft's code. The device is the foundation of a new programme to sell more processors... er... bring the benefits of the Internet to the developing world. Its goal is to bring Internet access to 50 per cent of the world's population by 2015. It's a big task, given that only ten per cent of humans have access to the Net today. Let's hope the newcomers use the Internet for education and economic empowerment, as AMD CEO Hector Ruiz hopes - and not for downloading pr0n, disseminating spam, and stealing movies and music. PIC will be sold to telcos who will sell the units, or cover their cost through broadband connection tariffs, to the users. AMD said it had already singed up Indian telco VSNL, Cable and Wireless Carribean, Mexico's CRC. ® Related stories AMD to revive information appliance concept AMD 'Emma' SoC revives Net Appliance concept AMD swaps Sanders for Ruiz AMD heralds PCI Express chipsets AMD slashes prices, ships Athlon 64 4000+
Tony Smith, 29 Oct 2004

Intel and Clearwire forge WiMAX alliance

Two of the most powerful forces behind WiMAX, Intel and Craig McCaw's Clearwire start-up, have formed a partnership aiming to accelerate development of 802.16 networks. The two companies will work together on technology development and network deployment, and Intel's venture capital arm has made a 'significant', though unspecified, investment in Clearwire. McCaw set up Clearwire earlier this year with the aim of building a national broadband wireless network and, before the Intel deal, had raised $160m from private investors. Incorporated in the new company are the original Clearwire entity, which ran local services around Florida; NextNet, the pre-WiMAX equipment maker; and various spectrum holdings that McCaw has been buying up over the past year. McCaw expects to have live services in 20 US markets next year and is also looking to the European auctions of 3.5GHz spectrum to expand there for the first time. The first territory to go live was Jacksonville, Florida, last summer and next month this will be followed by St Cloud, Minnesota and Abilene, Texas. Intel deal On the equipment side, NextNet had already committed to migrating its Expedience range to 802.16e standards, once they are finalized, with Intel-based subscriber equipment, and has been testing prototypes with the chip giant. This effort will now be accelerated, with a view to standards-based gear, and services running on the Intel-based subscriber units, being launched in early 2006. Perhaps more interesting is Intel's increasingly intense involvement with operators and spectrum holders. It has helped to finance several WiMAX-oriented broadband wireless deployments in the US and other countries such as India, and is widely expected to invest in spectrum itself during the next round of US auctions. But the Clearwire alliance is on a different scale, since McCaw has a hugely ambitious plan to cover most of the US with WiMAX, and also has holdings in the pan-Canadian WiMAX roll-out of Allstream and Microcell, which is using NextNet equipment. Success in this venture would be a huge boost to Intel's desired outcome, ubiquitous WiMAX services, driving uptake of its chips and of next generation PCs. The chipmaker would not comment on the size of the investment, but wireless chief Sean Maloney said it was 'significant'. Intel Capital's normal pattern is to take a minority stake of 10-15 per cent but this deal is widely thought to be far larger, with the potential to give Intel a sizeable influence on a potential major operator. This carries echoes of Microsoft's multibillion dollar investments in the last wave of broadband wireless operators in the US. Avoiding the Nextlink failure Clearwire is already operating its first services in Florida, and will upgrade to WiMAX equipment as it becomes available from NextNet. Apart from his legendary ability to raise funding, McCaw is being taken very seriously in his broadband wireless venture because of his track record. He founded the first US cellular network, McCaw Cellular, and sold it to AT&T in 1994 for $11.5bn, and went on to invest heavily in, and help turn around, Nextel. However, despite his reputation in cellular networks, he ha a more patchy record in broadband wireless - urban BWA operator Nextlink went bankrupt before reemerging as XO, and Teledesic, a satellite ISP venture with Bill Gates, also failed. Many factors were behind the Nextlink failure - and that of a wave of broadband wireless ventures of the late 1990s, such as Teligent and Winstar - and many of the problems are addressed by the fact of having a standard this time around. The most critical element in the bursting of the last BWA bubble was the cost of subscriber equipment. Hence the vital importance of the link to Intel. The McCaw-Intel deal has been presented as a dark alliance, with Intel using its venture capital fund as a carrot to lure Clearwire to buy its chips. Of course a company like Intel will use its many methods of influence to acquire customers, but this misses the point of why the chip giant and the wireless operator have such a strong mutual interest. While a successful national WiMAX network with Intel-based subscriber equipment would be a useful boost to the chipmaker's wireless unit's revenues, it is even more significant for the general boost it will give to Wi- MAX' credibility, driving a far broader market for 802.16 chips and upgraded notebook PCs or PDAs. And without the option of subscriber equipment based on commodity chips, Clearwire will face the same challenge as Nextlink - how to compete in an urban environment with DSL or cable, with a subscriber unit priced at $500 or more and requiring a truck roll. The only way to be price competitive with DSL, with equipment at these prices, is to subsidize it so heavily that time to profit is severely impacted, and there is a need to retain customers over multiyear periods before they deliver a contribution to the bottom line. "We've been through all this a couple of times before," McCaw said in an interview. "I personally understand all the pain and suffering that goes into it." He added: "We are tempered by the fact that everyone that's tried to do this has failed." On the equipment side, McCaw is not looking to stay in that business long term. Buying NextNet has given him initial tight control over roll-out of his network, but he is looking to spin the unit off again once it has launched its standards compliant gear and sees deployments ramping up. This sounds like a dream for NextNet. It will go through the first difficult period of WiMAX roll-out, during which we expect many specialist equipment vendors to be acquired or fail to survive, under the wing of McCaw, and so will be better funded than it would have been as an independent, and with a guaranteed major customer. But it can then regain its independence and so compete in the open market - all of which can be expected to deliver a major return to McCaw on his initial investment in purchasing the start-up. Voice Voice will be critical to the strategy. McCaw understands intimately how the cellular wireless market works, and argues that he can exploit this awareness at Clearwire, with the benefit of the cost savings that come from designing a technology from the ground up. "We know the cellular market very well and how 3G works," he told the CTIA conference. "Our partnership will show a definite cost advantage, since this is designed from the bottom up." Having helped set in motion the wireless revolution that disrupted wireline operators' voice revenues so badly, he is now poised to help repeat the exercise, this time challenging cellular and wireline with VoIP over WiMAX. Though, of course, McCaw toed the WiMAX community line, insisting that the technology is complementary with 3G rather than disruptive to it. "No one technology wears out," he told the audience. "Look at Western Union. They're moving money for al-Qaida now." While talking up VoIP over WiMAX, he was careful not to take on the cellcos head-to-head - not yet at least. "The fairest way to run yourself out of business is to take on an incumbent with vast revenue and lots of customers. The question is how can we be different and not do what they are doing. We're targeting different markets," he said. This is somewhat disingenuous. There are certainly markets where cellular will remain the best option for many years with its high mobility, extensive coverage and convenient handsets. However, the plum new revenue streams that the cellcos are targeting are well within WiMAX' grasp. Even if data users are prepared to accept the slower speeds of 3G compared to 802.16, they will force operators to respond to WiMAX' flat rate pricing, once they have been taught by Wi-Fi and broadband wireless that they do not need to stay within the operator walled garden any longer. In McCaw and the other senior managers he has gathered around himself, Clearwire has a team that understands business models for wireless voice and data in a way that no other early WiMAX adopters do. This will make it a formidable competitor in certain markets, now that it has the chance to overcome the critical stumbling block for Winstar, the expensive, proprietary subscriber equipment. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories AT&T to deploy WiMAX in 2006 Famous American launches 4G - but this time, is anyone listening?
Wireless Watch, 29 Oct 2004

Xmas party ends in explosive origami climax

LettersLetters Alcohol. The basis of several entire cultures. The Antipodeans have been known to sink a bevvy or two and let no one try to pretend the Americans are sober and well behaved. We’ve all watched Spring Break on MTV, y’know. But yet more research indicates that we Brits are a nation of drunken louts. All very useful, we’re sure: Dear Tim, Having read your article on "Forty per cent of IT workers vomit at office Xmas party" and the one on workers having a liquid lunch and getting back to work in the Tipsy mode, I am happy to send you my resume. Hoping for a new life in the glorious UK IT family, I only ask for some meager salary and the usual compensation, to wit daily liquid lunch, and of course the wonderfull oppurtunity to snogging at my boss after I puked on him... I mean, I cannot get much better, don't you think ? Hoping to read from you, a faithfull reader. Knewbie Occasionally I find stories about stupid research the U.S. government has allocated my tax dollars for and I get discouraged. Science, surveys and statistics collected to prove worms can get drunk... great. But here we have some hard core science with true benefits for humanity. Barf rates at corporate holiday gatherings. Certainly at this very moment every reader is trying desperately hard to remember which percentage they actually fell into 11 months ago. Before you know it someone will be analyzing the emotional attachment levels in sheep. I mean really, come on... If more researchers spent their time on important issues instead of crap like this, the world would be a better place. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to start researching the meaning of the term "snogging" you brits use it ever so fluently (where did I put that protractor?) Wolfy Given the ratio of women to men in IT I think throwing up all night is far preferable to snogging with a colleague, unless of course you're Net Admin for a chain of strip joints. Some lucky bastard has that job! cheers Clunk Is it just our imagination, or have the people with the oddest names written in about this one...? Your thoughts on Rutan’s thoughts on von Braun. All getting a little derived, somehow... I enjoyed the artcle on Burt Rutan and Werner von Braun. The reference to von Braun's wartime activities brought to mind a comment from one of my Jewish friends on von Braun's autobiography, "We aim at the Stars." My friend said the subtitle should have been "...but sometimes we hit London." Very apt! John How is possible to do an article on von Braun without quoting from the classic Tom Lehrer song on the topic? (Repeated here for your convenience... :-) Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun, A man whose allegiance Is ruled by expedience. Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown, "Ha, Nazi, Schmazi," says Wernher von Braun. Don't say that he's hypocritical, Say rather that he's apolitical. "Once rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun. Some have harsh words for this man of renown, But some think our attitude Should be one of gratitude, Like the widows and cripples in old London town, Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun. You too may be a big hero, Once you've learned to count backwards to zero. "In German oder English I know how to count down, Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun. Steven Brilliant scientist or war criminal? I'm reading this and once again struck by the the juxtaposition of ideals imposed on people where war is concerned. Did he design a technical marvel that was used to kill people? Yes. So did Oppenheimer and his team. Who killed more? Barnes Wallace was a brilliant scientist who designed aircraft and the Dam Buster bomb, but that mission had minimal impact on the German war machine although it killed thousands of civilians and no one worries about if he should have been prosecuted. Von Braun wanted to explore space, and Oppenheimer wanted to split the atom - it was their governments who determined the purpose of their inventions. Remember that history is written by winners, and the losers are often portrayed as villains. (But make no mistake - the Nazis were truly villains) But how many allied personnel stood trial for Hiroshima or the fire bombing of Dresden? Name witheld Check out the "editorial" section of my website on Leni Riefenstahl. I believe the questions you raise on von braun are legitimate and worth consideration. regards, Patrick Sunspots, trees and cosmic rays. Must be time for that coffee.... The Max Planck institute studying tree-rings? Surely a wind-up! Regards Simon Good one. More on the utterly fascinating news that people fall over if they squat down: Hello, On a less frivolous note, many Australian and American P.O.W. in Vietnam were in agony when their captors required them to squat. At first, the Viet Cong did not realise that Westerners would find this painful and be unable to hold a squat position. Those who failed were often beaten. Some P.O.W.s injured their Achilles tendon forever. Most finally became accustomed to the position, and a few say they sit like this even now, when picnicing or in from of the TV, as it's comfortable, stable, natural position. Most, understandly, abandoned the position as soon as they were home. C. A. Clarke This reminds me of the best research paper I accidently found when looking at the human factors of user interfaces for my PhD. I've never forgotten the paper's title "The ergonomics of toilet seats" (in the "Human Factors" journal) .. for some reason it caught my eye! If I remember it rightly (it was 15 years ago when I read it), it described an experiment in a UK university which created a mini-lab with mock toilets whose seat height could be adjusted up and down and tilted backwards or forwards. Volunteers were asked to adjust the seats to find the most comfortable position ... funnily enough, I think the average height and position was very close to a standard toilet seat 8-) Richard Apple’s musical selections are not to all tastes: Hi Tony, I see Apple has made a special $149 download on its iTunes Music Store that will contain the entire U2 music catalog. ...Unless of course you live in Ireland which despite the patronage of our biggest music act Apple has not included us in it's new iTunes music line up. After Bono has finished counting his money possibly he could have a word with Steve Jobs about this. Seems a bit hypocritical, buts what’s new? Best regards, Peter. I'm not sure how Apple can call their recently announced iTunes expansion the "EU iTunes Music Store", since it doesn't include long time EU members Ireland and Sweden, or any of the 11 recently added States. British users may bemoan the fact that downloads are more expensive for them, but at least they can buy from the store, unlike some of us. "Borderless ITMS" me arse... Peter Tagging sick people: the culmination of a technological revolution "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" cough,cough,bullsh*t,cough it will be the first computerised system in the history of the nhs that manages to reduce errors! guess i know where i'm going to be wardriving this weekend. Mike S Deeply paranoid thoughts about the lack of decent science education in schools: Mr. Blunkett had better hurry up and get the ID card going quickly then, or else an increasing fraction of the UK population will be able to see through the hype, and reject it. Maybe that's also one of the reasons that Philosophy isn't taught in UK schools ... [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/zthursday_20040826.shtml at 0830: Philosophy] Regards, Mike W Supercomputers. The brainchild of the electricity companies? Great , 10K itatium2 processors with an average power consumption of 100W per processor, that's 1M Watt just for the processors, Yuck! For the Yearly cost of running that monster (power bill and AC bill + Maintenance, etc... ), I would prefer that money going to other department of NASA and have those scientist wait a few minutes. Funny that nobody talks about cost ! I wouldn't be surprised if it cost 10cents per teraflops per year. My 2 cents, Francois And finally, origami. Not much in the way of an IT angle, but frankly, that was never the point with this story: "wowed Londoners by pulling off the world's biggest paper penis outside the city's London Assembly building." So, was he done for littering? After all the street must have been covered in cumfetti. Ian We’ll leave that right there. Enjoy your weekend. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2004

Sportingbet snaps up Paradise Poker

Sportingbet - the UK-listed internet betting outfit - is snapping up Paradise Poker for £169m ($297.5m) as part of its bid to become a monster online sports betting and gaming based entertainment business. Sportingbet is shelling out £105m ($193m) in cash and the rest in shares for Paradise, which is one of the four largest internet poker sites around. Established in 1999, Paradise is thought to command a ten per cent market share of the online poker sector generating turnover of $37.2m (£20.3m) and an operating profit of and $21.3m (£11.6m) in the first seven months of 2004. Nigel Payne, chief executive of Sportingbet, reckons the deal is a "significant step forward" in its strategy to become "the world's leading online sports betting and gaming based entertainment business". It means that it can offer its punters even more ways to lose their money by offering sports betting, casino, bingo, gaming and poker under one virtual roof with a "shared purse" so that customers have a single user name, password and account. Earlier this month the Government published its new gambling bill designed to shake up the betting industry. Although the legislation covers the whole of the industry, part of it also covers the explosion in internet gambling and casinos. The Government insists the new measures would protect children (by including compulsory age checks for gambling websites for example) and the vulnerable. Critics claim the measures - which include a relaxation of some existing laws - would lead to a massive rise in gambling addiction and indebtedness. ® Related stories UK Gov unwraps Gambling Bill Amex prevents punters gambling online Net extortionists in child porn threat
Tim Richardson, 29 Oct 2004

Symantec drives security deep into enterprise

This week, Symantec has unveiled its new corporate positioning. Long regarded as one of the leaders in the security technology space, the vendor has been building out its portfolio of offerings to drive security deep into organisations, whilst maintaining the high levels of computer systems availability that companies need to keep their businesses running efficiently. Symantec's view is that a company's business information is its most strategic asset and must be protected at all times. This is not something that will be new to any business executive, especially given the number of legal and industry regulations, such as data protection and privacy, Sarbanes-Oxley and regulations regarding food safety that affect a wide variety of businesses. This has upped the ante in the need to protect information from being altered in any way - or protecting the integrity of that information. In order to be able to assure the integrity of business information, companies need to have the availability to scan all of the computational assets that they have in their networks to gauge the risk of vulnerabilities, security exposures and threats. This allows organisations to understand the resources that they have in place so that risk posed by security exploits that threaten the availability of those systems can be assessed. Once the risk assessment exercise has been performed, organisations are in a better position to address those threats and can prioritise the actions that they are going to take to remediate against those vulnerabilities based on the value of the information to a company. Once a company is in the position to act on real-time security information, it is better placed to deal with incidents and disasters when they happen, and safeguard against threats in the future by establishing the policies, procedures and control mechanisms that are required for safeguarding information systems. Using Symantec's capabilities for monitoring and managing threats, along with real-time business reporting and analysis, companies are better able to ensure that information integrity is being achieved - taking them one step nearer to legal and industry compliance. In line with its new corporate positioning initiative, Symantec has just announced the availability of some new products. These include the latest version of its Gateway Security Manager appliance, which provides network security capabilities including firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, antivirus policy enforcement, content filtering and virtual private network technology. This latest version extends gateway security capabilities to include mobile networks with the inclusion of a secure wireless LAN access point, making it suitable for use in remote and branch office environments as well as within the four walls of the corporate office. Even with effective network security products, disaster can still occur, and information integrity can only be achieved if companies can recover from a catastrophic disaster affecting their networks. For this, Symantec has developed its LiveState Recovery family of products which allow full system restoration or recovery of any files on a server or desktop to ensure that information is available when needed - and hence reducing downtime to a business. Finally, Symantec has brought out the latest version of its Enterprise Security Manager, which provides functionality for reporting on compliance with regulations, including pre-configured assessment templates designed for specific regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley and Gramm-Leach-Bliley. With the release of these new products, Symantec is rounding out its portfolio of products to take it a large step nearer to ensuring the integrity of its customers' information assets. Symantec admits that gaps still remain, but it is working hard to fill in the remaining parts. Companies that should take a look at Symantec's new offerings include those that wish to take a holistic view of all of their information assets in order to drive security right into the heart of their enterprises - exactly where it belongs. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories Data protection watchdog distributes email mailing list Cisco, IBM and MS in network security love-in Fighting the army of byte-eating zombies
Fran Howarth, 29 Oct 2004

VIA narrows Q3 loss on sales boost

A 20 per cent increase in desktop processor shipments during its third fiscal quarter helped VIA narrow its loss to TWD50m ($1.5m), the chip maker said today. That's less than a third of the TWD1.68bn ($50m) loss the company posted at the end of its second quarter. VIA's sales were up almost 25 per cent sequentially, from Q2's TWD4.49bn ($134m) to Q3's TWD5.59bn ($167m). According to a Merrill Lynch report cited by DigiTimes, that revenue jump and the shipments behind it took VIA's share of the x86 desktop CPU market to 2.5 per cent during Q3 - small, perhaps, but nonetheless an improvement on its share in Q2. Then, according to Mercury Research figures, it shared 1.8 per cent of the x86 market with Transmeta and other x86 CPU makers. ® Related stories VIA announces 64-bit x86 processor VIA's 90nm CPU to be branded C7 IBM to fab next-gen VIA CPU ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets Chip biz slowdown to stretch through Q1 '05 Chip capex set to fall in 2005 - analyst Chip makers' efforts fail to cut excess inventory IDC ups '04 PC sales forecast Inventory issues fail to hamper chip biz growth AMD to overtake Intel in 2017...
Tony Smith, 29 Oct 2004

RIAA targets 963 alleged file-traders

The Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) this week filed almost 1000 lawsuits this week, all of them accusing individuals of sharing unauthorised copies of songs on P2P networks Some 750 people are unnamed, with 213 more citing alleged copyright infringers' names. The latter had all received demands to cease their activities and make some remuneration for their acts, but in each case the deadline for settlement had passed, the RIAA said. To date, the RIAA has issued over 6200 lawsuits against named and unnamed individuals, most recently 762 complaints filed late September. The first lawsuits were sent out in September 2003. Earlier this week, it emerged that the RIAA had settled its copyright infringement action against the operators of Spain-based MP3 seller Puretunes.com for a total of $10.5m. ® Related stories Spanish MP3 site owner to pay RIAA $10m Music sales rise despite RIAA's best efforts Supremes sidestep RIAA's John Doe challenge RIAA hunts down more file-trading scum Much smoke to BPI's fileshare suits, but where's the fire? Identify file-sharers, judge tells UK ISPs Music boss can't wait to sue British file sharers 9 out of 10 cats prefer CDs to downloads P2P jail bill moves forward
Tony Smith, 29 Oct 2004

Bagle variant outstrips Google-bashing worm

A new variant of the Bagle email worm is spreading rapidly across the internet today. Email filtering firm BlackSpider Technologies reports that it was blocking 2000 copies of Bagle-AT an hour since its first appearance earlier this morning. Bagle-AT is one of three new variants of the long-running email worm series released over the last 24 hours but the only variant to cause a significant problem. Emails infected with Bagle-AT come with one of several executable attachments (COM, EXE, SCR) and attachment names such as Price or Joke. Typical subject lines of infected emails include 'Re: Hello' or 'Re: Thank you!'. Like previous variants, Bagle-AT is also capable of copying itself into shared folders of infected machines, thereby allowing it to spread across file-sharing networks. Also in common with its siblings, Bagle-AT contains a backdoor that enables virus writers or their associates to control infected machines. The worm also tries to disable a range of security applications, along with any instances of the NetSky worm it finds on infected machines. Anti-virus vendors rate Bagle-AT as a medium to high risk threat. Google-bashing worm makes modest debut In other viral news, a new email worm which launches a denial of service attack from infected PCs against Microsoft, Google and the Hungarian Prime Minister's website is spreading (modestly) across the Internet. The Zafi-C worm is far less widespread than the earlier variants of the worm. Most AV vendors rate it as a low risk. Nonetheless Windows users would be well advised to be on the look-out for emails with subject lines such as "Re: Hey buddy!" and "Re: very sick little girl!" that fit the profile of Zafi-infected emails. If users run the attached file, it can launch a distributed denial of service attack against the website of the newly-appointed Prime Minister of Hungary, the millionaire businessman Ferenc Gyurcsány, as well as attacking the websites of Google and Microsoft. All three of the targeted sites are readily available at the time of writing. The previous version of the Zafi worm, Zafi-B, has continued to spread widely since June with a message calling for the death penalty to be introduced in Hungary. All the email worms discussed above only infected Windows machines, as is the local custom. ® Related stories Rise of the Botnets Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs New Bagle worm drops in and downloads Price isn't right for new Bagle variant Zafi-b speaks in many tongues
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2004

Vodafone inks global deal with Sun

Sun Microsystems has concluded a global deal with Vodafone to provide Java enterprise and desktop software to the mobile phone network's operations across more than 26 countries. Sun's Java Enterprise System (JES) will be used to deliver core enterprise network services at Vodafone. The Java Desktop System is also included in the deal and will include the StarOffice productivity suite, Mozilla browser, Evolution e-mail and calendar client. The desktop system runs on the Linux operating system and competes with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows. Sun said the agreement will serve as a model for other organisations who wish to simplify and integrate their global IT requirements, while controlling costs. Sun charges a fixed fee of $100 per annum for every JES user. "With this agreement with Sun, we anticipate significant cost and synergy savings over the next few years due to reduced support and deployment costs," said Detlef Schultz, global supply chain director at Vodafone, in a statement. Sun's deal with Vodafone includes hardware, software and services product line. Vodafone is already one of Sun's biggest users of the Java System Directory product. Vodafone's subsidiaries in Greece, Spain, Germany, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands have already purchased licenses under the new contract. The global nature of the deal reflects the mobile operator's "One Vodafone" programme, which aims to create a single global identity for the company. In September, Vodafone said that it expected the programme to lead to a boost in revenue and reduced costs to the tune of £2.5bn by 2008. The company is now three years into the seven-year programme, which is aimed at creating a single corporate identity and range of products and services. The programme was also initiated to provide economies of scale for the company, which is the world's largest mobile operator in terms of revenue. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related stories Vodafone: thin in Japan Java and DRM key to mobile ambitions Vodafone lets Sun wear the trousers
Ciaran Buckley, 29 Oct 2004

Telewest tempts dial-up users to broadband

Telewest is looking to tempt dial-up users in its cable franchise areas with a "no brainer" offer designed to lure them onto broadband. From Monday, new punters (tough luck, existing users) will be able to subscribe to Telewest's 256Kbps broadband service for £14.99 a month - a similar price to what they might pay for unmetered dial-up packages from the likes of AOL UK, BT, Tiscali or Wanadoo. The promo price is available for a year after which it reverts back to the usual price of £17.99 a month. The cabelco - which has more than 250,000 narrowband punters and in excess of 500,000 broadband users - wants to tempt hard-to-budge dial-up users to switch to broadband. Said Telewest bigwig Eric Tveter: "There are now no reasons not to take broadband - the price is the same as dial-up but there are none of the frustrations and the advantages are obvious - faster speeds, an always on connection and you can use the phone and the internet at the same time." On Wednesday, AOL UK cut the cost of its entry-level 256Kbps service - AOL Broadband Silver. It now costs £17.99 a month, down from £19.99 a month, and is uncapped, comes with no upfront fees and also benefits from a free customer helpline. ® Related stories AOL UK cuts cost of broadband Virgin.net unveils 'Plan Two' broadband offer Tesco touts broadband for the masses Telewest brags of record broadband sign-ups
Tim Richardson, 29 Oct 2004

Digital music firm demands big-name business boycott

Wippit, the UK-based digital music service, has called on the music industry to boycott major British and international firms, accusing them of fuelling "illegal" P2P services with advertising dollars. However, many of the companies concerned claimed their ads' appearance on P2P applications - in particular, eDonkey - was cock-up, not conspiracy, with "human error" to blame. Wippit's boycott call takes in a number of well-known names, including financial organisations NatWest, First Direct, and Halifax; mobile phone networks Vodafone and O2; cable TV company ntl; airline KLM; car-maker Renault; and MSN subsidiaries Expedia and bCentral. It says all of them have been caught advertising their products and services on eDonkey. That activity, said Wippit CEO Paul Myers, gives "financial oxygen" to what he alleged were "pirate services" and "copyright violators". Addressing the music industry in an open letter, he said: "If you're supporting a company that is not supporting you, or they are supporting a business that aims to put you out of business by giving your property away for free, follow me by dumping them until they change their ways." The Register sought comment from all of the firms Myers names. Alas, Renault UK, which has recently used popular beat combo Groove Armada's Shakin' That Ass to advertise the Megane, was not prepared to comment on the appearance of ads on a site where that song can almost certainly be downloaded for free. Other companies on Wippit's list claimed to have been unaware that their advertising had appeared on eDonkey until we spoke to them. "We would never knowingly associate ourselves with a site that enabled music piracy," an ntl spokeswoman told us. High Street bank NatWest, echoing HSBC's online offshoot First Direct, claimed that such a placement ran contrary to its online advertising policy. While the legal status of such sites and networks remains a "grey area", they will not advertise with them, a NatWest spokeswoman said. An investigation is underway to discover why that policy had not been followed in this case, she added. Both banks claimed their respectively advertising agencies had admitted they had "mistakenly" failed to follow those instructions in the case of eDonkey. "We never asked to be on that site," said a First Direct spokeswoman, "and were quite clear we don't want to be on those sorts of site because we don't think we should be supporting something that could be used for illegal behaviour." Vodafone re-iterated that point. In light of Wippit's move, it said its online advertising agency had suspended campaigns running through the site aggregation contractor responsible for the eDonkey placement while it too investigated how the mobile phone network's advertisements had appeared on that site. The eDonkey placements appear to have come through 'low-cost, high-volume' ad slot aggregators who may have been overly zealous in their targetting. Nat West and First Direct also pledged to ensure their ads were not running on the controversial site "as quickly as possible", but could not give a deadline for their removal at this time. Expedia.co.uk did not confirm it would pull the ads from eDonkey, though it promised "it will be taking the necessary course of action to ensure that this does not happen again". Wippit's Myers remained unsatisfied with such responses: "If it's a cock-up, it's a big one," he said. "If I was responsible for spending other peoples' money, I'd be responsible. Luckily an idiot like me can recognise these big brand logos on a copyright infringing service." Of course, P2P software development is legal, even if the actions of the code's users may not be. That judgement was reached by the US District Court in April 2003 and confirmed by the US Court of Appeals this summer. That judgement was made on the basis that such apps have legitimate uses and users who don't share files for which they have no authorisation to distribute or enable the distribution. As such, anyone can advertise with them legitimately. However, it's telling that, of those firms on Wippit's list who were willing to comment on the matter, all of them expressed their regret and dissatisfaction with their association with eDonkey and its ilk. Yet the association with eDonkey will have done them no harm in the eyes of the young consumers all these companies are trying to attract, usually by attempting to give their brand a little more edge. The eDonkey affair may prove to be simply an online advertising aggregator's error, but some observers may feel neither the buck nor the bucks stop there. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Oct 2004

Gmail accounts 'wide open to exploit' - report

Google's high profile webmail service, Gmail, is vulnerable to a security exploit that might allow hackers full access to a user's email account simply by knowing the user name, according to reports. The security flaw allows full access to users' accounts, with no need of a password, Israeli news site Nana says . Using a hex-encoded XSS link, the victim's cookie file can be stolen by a hacker, who can later use it to identify himself to Gmail as the original owner of an email account, regardless of whether or not the password is subsequently changed. Following up a tip from an Israeli hacker, journos from the site confirmed the attack and verified the exploit with local security firm Aladdin Knowledge Systems. It's unclear whether the hole has been maliciously exploited. Google has been notified of the issue and is reportedly working on a fix. No-one from the company was available to update The Register on the issue at time of going to press. ® Related stories Google finally fixes Desktop security vuln Google Desktop privacy branded 'unacceptable' Google's Gmail: spook heaven? California votes for Google mail safeguards Yahoo! and Google escalate portal wars
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2004

UK crawls up Euro BB league table

The UK is slowly clawing its way up the league table of European broadband nations after recently overtaking Germany, according to stats from regulator Ofcom. Its latest quarterly report found that the UK had 7.5 connections per hundred population at the end of June compared to 6.1 in Spain, 6.3 in Italy, 6.4 in Portugal and 6.7 in Germany. However, the UK still trails France (8.3), Sweden (12.1), the Netherlands (15.8) and Denmark (15.6). The research also found that demand for broadband is still strong, with 50,000 new broadband connections being hooked up every week. As a result, there are more than 5.3m broadband connections in the UK at the moment with punters continuing to sign up to new services prompted by increased availability and falling prices. Elsewhere, the study found that there's little to separate AOL UK and BT (18 and 17 per cent respectively) as far as being the leading consumer ISP, followed by Wanadoo (formerly Freeserve) on 15 per cent share. Anyhow, there's sheds more stuff in the Ofcom's quarterly update, which can be found here [pdf]. Related stories Wanadoo UK down 230k punters AOL UK cuts cost of broadband Broadband is great, say business bosses Ofcom provokes unbundling battle
Tim Richardson, 29 Oct 2004

Turing honoured with bronze statue

The Earl of Wessex unveiled a bronze statue of Alan Turing at Surrey University today. The statue, sculpted by John W. Mills, shows Turing walking across the campus with his books under his arm. It is on display in the campus' main piazza, in front of the computing department, Alan Turing was one of the Great Ones of Computing. In the 1930's he developed the concept of a Turing machine, arguably the basis of modern computing. Later, his work at Bletchly Park during the War was vital to Allies' efforts to break the Germans' ciphers. As well as his intellectual achievements, Turing was a world class distance runner, with a personal best time over the Marathon distance of 2 hours, 46 minutes and 3 seconds. This is just 11 minutes slower than the winner of the 1948 Olympic marathon race. After the war, he returned to academic study, and in 1950 proposed a method for identifying machine intelligence, which has become known as the Turing Test. He was arrested and stood trial for his homosexuality in 1952, a charge he never denied, instead bravely stating that there was nothing wrong with his actions. Rather than endure a prison sentence, he agreed to be injected with oestrogen for a year, to suppress his libido. A barbaric sentence, no doubt. After his conviction, Turing went into a depression from which he never recovered. He died of cyanide poisoning in 1954. The coroner's official verdict was suicide. ® Related stories Manchester honours Alan Turing Computing needs a Grand Challenge
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2004

Retailers still not prepared for Chip and PIN

Thousands of retailers are calling for more time to adopt Chip and PIN guidelines, despite an extensive campaign by the government to boost awareness, a new report claims. The Forum of Private Business is hoping card issuers will take its concerns on board and extend the deadline given for businesses to install Chip and PIN terminals. Although many small businesses have already adopted the new technology, recent research shows that around half of retailers are doubtful they will make the 1 January 2005 deadline. The system will replace signatures with a four-digit PIN number as the main way of proving customers' identities. When paying, customers use a keyboard on the till to type in their personal number. The digits will then be compared with a code stored on a microchip embedded in the payment card. Shop owners are being urged to order terminals, as they will be liable for losses where a Chip and PIN card is used fraudulently at a terminal which is not able to accept the new system. "We call on the credit card issuers to see sense and extend the transition period for businesses to install these new machines, said FPB chief executive Nick Goulding. "Banks cannot rest on their laurels and expect small businesses to fall into line with Chip & PIN. Banks need to provide effective guidance on how to install the new system and what its costs are. "They should understand that small retailers do not have the manpower or financial resources of major national retailers and are often unsure how to comply with important changes." It is hoped that the system will bring down retail fraud, currently costing shops £400m a year. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Chip and PIN intro fuels mini-boom in card crime Cardholders clueless on chip and pin Chip and PIN gathers pace UK terminally unready for Chip and PIN Retailers must embrace Chip and PIN. Or else Retailers warned on Chip and PIN
Startups.co.uk, 29 Oct 2004

Wireless access point triggers bomb scare

An Australian man whose wireless access point triggered a bomb scare has spoken of his shock at been treated like a potential terrorist. Student Bobby T, 20, set up a Dlink 2100AP wireless access point outside his home in the suburbs of Sydney to act as a node in a community wireless network. But the kit ("a Dlink 2100AP wireless AP, removed of its casing and with the PCB siliconed onto a black weatherproof electronics box") was only up and running for 10 hours before he was visited by two NSW state police and two local police acting on a tip-off from worried neighbours this Monday (25 October). Police dug up cables in his garden and quizzed him on other users of the wireless LAN, while denying him the opportunity to make a phone call, Bobby T told The Register. "I was never formally arrested or taken away. Everything happened in my home. Apparently the case is now closed. They thought it was a bomb, but found it was not," he said. Police later told Bobby T's friend that they were "about to evacuate half the suburb and call in the bomb squad". The police handling of the alert has left Bobby T fuming. "Everyone that I've told about this story laughed their head off but I've never managed to find it funny - only scary, threatening, and intimidating. I had a very good impression of the police until that incident. Now I feel violated, insulted, and with my rights trampled upon," he said. Bobby T harbours no ill feeling towards his neighbours over the incident. "Community ignorance is very understandable especially considering all the fear that's been instilled upon them. I didn't mind the cops reacting to calls but I'm just not happy with the attitude with which they handled the matter," he added. ® Related stories Wi-Fi 'sniper rifle' debuts at DEFCON Aussie telco moots payphone Wi-Fi hotzones Blanket Wi-Fi smothers Amsterdam (community wireless)
John Leyden, 29 Oct 2004

UK.gov database 'rationalisation', the ID scheme way

Among the Home Office "concessions" on ID cards hailed (with quite remarkable promptness) this week by Home Affairs Committee chairman John Denham MP (Lab) was "the rationalisation of current database proposals and the dropping of the Citizen Information Project." Denham appears however to have been in error in cheering the demise of the CIP on behalf of his Committee, for just 24 hours later Treasury Chief Secretary Paul Boateng issued a written statement to Parliament indicating the CIP is actually being reworked to use the national ID register. Or vice versa? According to Boateng's statement: "The CIP team has investigated the costs and benefits of a range of potential options for delivering a population register. It has recommended that proposals for a national identity register (NIR), as part of the Government's proposals for ID cards, mean that if ID cards were to become compulsory then it may be more cost effective to deliver these benefits through the NIR, rather than develop a separate register. The Government has accepted this recommendation." The CIP has been going through the works via the Office of National Statistics as a sort of cuddlier cousin to the ID scheme. The modernisation of births, marriages, deaths and the like led government thoughts to turn to what kind of additional related services could be offered to the citizen, with these ideas being fairly neatly encapsulated in the concept of the "through life record". As the white paper Civil Registration: Vital Change tells us "the creation of a central database of registration records provides the opportunity to make improvements..." Which is all well and good until alongside this particular register of names addresses and sundry details about the population there arrives another register with, as the Home Affairs Committee report put it, "a very large degree of overlap". In its response on Wednesday the Home Office did not say 'dropping' - it did say: "The Government believes that the NIR has the longer term potential to fulfil some of the functions envisaged for the national population register. In the light of developments to the NIR, CIP is no longer actively exploring options to improve the quality and effectiveness of existing registers, including the possible use of personal reference numbers." So the CIP is no longer developing its own population register as the electronic implementation of births, marriages and deaths, and the National Identity Register becomes that population register, with the CIP going ahead, but now hinging on the NIR. Which you might view as more of an expansion of the ID scheme than a concession, as such. Alongside the specific CIP complaint, Home Affairs expressed its concern over the growing number of government databases in general. "We believe that the Government must tackle this proliferation of databases, examining in each case whether the number, identifier or database is needed, what its relationship to other existing or planned databases, how data will be shared or verified and other relevant issues. For this action to be effective, it must be co-ordinated at the highest levels of the Civil Service... an identity card should enable access to all Government databases, so that there would be no need for more than one government-issued card." In its response the Home Office appears to indicate that the CIP-NIR approach could present a model for other services, saying "we believe that the identity card will provide an opportunity for more joined up Government by providing a consistent and standard business key for future systems evolution." Which represents a strengthening rather than a weakening of the ID scheme. Here however the Committee was effectively arguing for a strengthening, and as David Blunkett envisages the ID card and register as becoming the key to everything, this is precisely the kind of "concession" he wants to make. It does rationalise (as Denham put it) current government database proposals in the sense that it makes them dependent on the NIR. The databases themselves will continue to proliferate though. It's possible that shoehorning CIP functionality into the ID scheme may cause some delay to the ID scheme bill itself. Spy Blog points out that if the CIP stage 2 feasibility study plans aren't to come (as Boateng said) before Ministers until June 2005, they might knock the ID bill back beyond the next election. It's possible the CIP study might be accelerated, but Gordon Brown's Treasury might on the other hand not view it as a top priority. Or worse. Spy also notes that the change will mean incorporating children under 16 in the NIR, and raises the issue of the Children's Bill. This sets up another universal database, of children this time, and will operate with a number of other databases, including the NHS one and Connexions. In its Home Affairs response the Home Office said that the "National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is putting into place an infrastructure of card readers across the NHS, which will facilitate the checking of cards" and that in the case of the Connexions card readers, which are issued free to schools and colleges, there may be "cost savings to be realised for identity cards by exploiting the existing infrastructure." So some more opportunities for rationalisation here, no doubt. ® Related stories Blunkett sets out store on compulsory ID cards 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, 29 Oct 2004

Boffins strive for the touchy-feely robot

A research group at the University of Hertfordshire has taught a robot to play pass the parcel in a bid to make electronic friends of the future seem more human. Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, project leader at Hertfordshire told The BBC that it is important that Robots be able to understand the human concept of personal space, and be able to deal with people as individuals with different cultural backgrounds and preferences. She said: "I want robots to treat humans as human beings, and not like other robots." The stated aim of this particular area of research, part of the European Cogniron robotics project, is to socialise robots so that they can mix better with humans. It will codify its findings into a set of rules for human-robot social interaction. However, even the researchers admit that they might be a bit ahead of the game, and are "assuming a situation in which a useful human companion robot already exists". But a bigger question remains: even assuming we do want a robotic companion in our homes, will we want to play pass the parcel with it? ® Related stories Brits design fly-eating autobot Qinetiq bags robot maker Epson parades tea cup-sized flying robot US army dips into nanotech research
Lucy Sherriff, 29 Oct 2004