1st > November > 2004 Archive

China shuts 1,600 cybercafes

The Chinese government confirmed this weekend that it has closed 1,600 internet cafes and fined operators a total of 100m yuan ($12m) since March, when it began its crackdown on violent or pornographic content, and other material it considers harmful to public morality. Government inspectors have checked up on 1.8m cafes since the campaign began, seeking out those letting kids play violent games or access subversive foreign sites. In addition to the 1,600 cafes that have been closed permanently, 18,000 have been shut down for "rectification", according to reports. Zhang Xinjian, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Culture's market department said that "porn, gambling, violence and similar problems have adversely affected the healthy development of the Internet in China". In June, ISPs were invited to sign up to a self discipline pact to prevent the spread of any material that could threaten "national security (and) social stability". The government has also taken action against online activists, and those using the web and other technologies to share unapproved information. The government said that since the summer 445 people have been arrested and 1,125 web sites have been shut down. ® Related stories China jails four for running mucky site Chinese IT student jailed for running XXX site 14 knifed in Chinese cybercafe attack Pornsters face life in China smut crackdown
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2004

Intel 1066MHz FSB chipset slips out

Intel will launch its much-anticipated 1066MHz Pentium 4 frontside bus this week, introducing the new FSB frequency with the i925XE chipset and a 3.46GHz P4 Extreme Edition CPU. Far Eastern mobo makers were busily preparing product announcements last week in anticipation of Intel's introduction. Indeed, some - like ABIT's Fatal1ty series - have been rumoured to be i925XE-based boards for some time. The new chipset is an upgraded version of the existing i925X, aka 'Alderwood'. The i925XE, then, supports dual-channel DDR 2 SDRAM, PCI Express, Serial ATA with RAID, Intel's Hi-Definition Audio spec and its Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT). It is not known if the XE adds any further features to the X beyond the higher FSB speed. Indeed, reports from Japan today add that the chipset has already gone on sale in Tokyo's Akiba zone, hitting store shelves this past weekend. Asus boards have been seen, which reveal the i925XE uses the standard ICH6R South Bridge. Alongside the i925XE, Intel is set to release a 3.46GHz P4EE, probably fabbed at 130nm with 2MB of L3 cache. Interestingly, this is not on sale in Japan yet. The first 90nm P4EE, with 2MB of L2 cache and 64-bit memory addressing, is expected to ship next quarter at 3.73GHz. Like the current 3.4GHz P4EE, the new part is expected to utilise a LGA775 socket and cost $999. ® Related stories Intel preps i925XE chipset with gigahertz FSB Intel readies 3.73GHz P4 Extreme Edition for Q4 Intel puts back 90nm P4EE to Q1 '05 - report
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 gets web airing

Voters in the US will be able to log on to the net tonight and download Michael Moore's controversial documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, for some topical election-time viewing. Net movie provider CinemaNow is making the film available on a pay-per-view basis as of this evening, The BBC reports. Documentaries in alternative political flavours will also be available to viewers on the eve of the presidential election. If Michael Moore's anti-bush stance is not to your taste, DISH Network is showing both Fahrenheit, and Carlton Sherwood's Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal, a 42-minute film which casts a critical eye over John Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activities. Moore has made no secret of his dislike of the Bush administration, and has said openly that he hopes his film will cause Bush to lose this election. Bush supporters have argued that this means the film should subject to the FCC regulations which say TV stations must give equal airtime to each candidate. The Oscar winner had originally signed a deal with iN DEMAND, a pay-per-view cable company, to show the film as part of an election evening special. However, the plans were axed because of legal concerns, the company said. ® Related stories Politics gets messy, Vulture Central style Guardian US vote wheeze down in flames Bush beats Gollum to Movie Villain of the Year award
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2004
For Sale sign detail

Intel lost 6.7% chipset market share in Q3

Intel's chipset competitors stole market share from the chip giant during Q3. So claims a Merrill Lynch report cited by a number of websites. The report assigns 62.1 per cent of the chipset market to Intel, 18.5 per cent to VIA, 9.9 per cent to SiS, 4.5 per cent to ATI and 4.2 per cent to Nvidia. Between Q3 and Q2, Intel's share fell 6.7 percentage points, with VIA taking just over half - 3.6 percentage points - of the lost share. The rest was distributed evenly between SiS, ATI and Nvidia. VIA posted its Q3 financial results last week and pointed to a 25 per cent jump in sales during the period. Clearly chipsets helped - sales were up 17 per cent sequentially for Intel-oriented parts; up 16 per cent for AMD-targeted chipsets - though company insiders also pointed to a big jump in desktop CPU sales too. This quarter, Intel will be pushing at both the low- and high-end of the market with the cut-price 'Grantsdale' parts, the i910 and i915GV, while the just-launched i925XE comes in at the top, bringing the 1066MHz frontside bus with it. VIA and co. may take a little longer to follow its lead, but they have strong AMD-oriented offerings, crucially now with PCI Express support. ® Related stories Intel 1066MHz FSB chipset slips ou VIA narrows Q3 loss on sales boost ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets AMD heralds PCI Express chipsets ATI CEO confirms AMD PCI-E chipsets shipping
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

BT's batphone swoops closer

BT is hoping for a spring launch for its combined phone which will allow people to make VoIP, mobile or landline calls from the same handset. When you use the phone near your home or office the call is routed using your landline connection. If you are out and about it will use the mobile network to connect calls. But if you are within a Wi-Fi hotspot the phone automatically uses VoIP to route the call. The "Bluephone" will be launched in spring 2005, according to the Financial Times. The combined phone is seen as a way to reverse the flow of call revenues away from fixed-line operators and to mobile companies. Ovum estimates that about 30 per cent of mobile calls are made at home where there is a fixed-line alternative. What is not clear is how much BT will charge for the service. The telco is "exploring" the option of offering "BT Together" tariffs to punters using their shiny handsets in Wi-Fi hotspots or at home. ® Related stories BT signs up VoIP with Yahoo! Calling a BT Bluephone could cost you dear BT, Voda confirm mobile link-up BT flogs bluephones to the masses
John Oates, 01 Nov 2004

VoodooPC pitches 'world's fastest' PC

Canadian performance PC maker VoodooPC today introduced what it claims is the "world's fastest gaming computer", based on the latest processor and chipset technology from AMD and Nvidia. Odd, then, that the Voodoo Rage SLi, despite being based on Nvidia's nForce 4 SLi chipset is named after an old ATI graphics chip. In addition to the Nvidia chipset, the new machine boasts and AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 processor, up to 2GB of 400MHz DDR 2 SDRAM, and a pair of Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultras operating in SLi mode. Such a system will set you back over $4850 (£2638) but by trimming back the spec. you can get the price down to $3017 (£1640). As for its performance boast, VoodooPC's website more cautiously claims the machine is the fastest air-cooled PC, but company chief Rahul Sood was nonetheless willing to stick his neck out. The Rage SLi is faster than liquid-cooled systems, too. "To put it bluntly, with Rage SLi you can bet your entire bank that our system will destroy any Xeon-based SLi system in any game - liquid cooled or not," he said. The upshot, according to company software chief Trentent Tye is Doom III running at 107fps, despite being set to high detail and a resolution of 1600 x 1200. "To put this in perspective, current high-end gaming systems will run Doom III with the same settings at 30fps," he said, without detailing said machines' specs. VoodooPC is taking orders for the Rage SLi from today. It did not indicate when machines will ship. ® Related stories Nvidia details nForce 4 ECS unveils nForce 4 Ultra board AMD heralds PCI Express chipsets
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

Google blocks Gmail exploit

Google has fixed a flaw in its high-profile webmail service, Gmail, which created a possible route for hackers to gain full access to a user's email account simply by knowing their user name. Using a hex-encoded XSS link, the victim's cookie file could have been stolen by a hacker, who might 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. It's unclear whether the hole, first reported by Israeli news site Nana last week, has been maliciously exploited. In any case the issue has now been resolved. In a brief statement released on Saturday (30 October), Google said it "was recently alerted to a potential security vulnerability affecting the Gmail service. We have since fixed this vulnerability, and all current and future Gmail users are protected". Which is nice. ® Related stories Gmail accounts 'wide open to exploit' - report Google finally fixes Desktop security vuln Google Desktop privacy branded 'unacceptable' Google's Gmail: spook heaven?
John Leyden, 01 Nov 2004

Iomart offers free broadband

Scottish ISP Iomart is offering small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) free broadband for a year if they subscribe to its NetIntelligence security product. Outfits signing up to the NetIntelligence service - which costs £29.99 a month and provides mail filtering, monitoring and reporting designed to protect company email systems from viruses, spam and phishers - will get high-speed net access free for 12 months. The offer of free broadband follows a deal with BT designed to make it easier for operators to offer broadband. By using a white-label broadband product from BT Wholesale called "BroadbandScope", it means Iomart can offer its punters broadband while remaining "hands-off". Iomart is the first company to sign a BroadbandScope deal with BT Wholesale. The Glasgow-based company has already been testing the offer for a couple of months without any marketing and has been signing up around 50 new customers a month. At the end of November Iomart plans to start marketing the product for real and ramping up the offer. Separately, Thus - the Glasgow-based alternative telco behind the Demon internet brand - has won a contract to upgrade the telecomms network serving Scottish Prison Service (SPS). As part of the deal Thus will provide a secure, flexible MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) IP Virtual Private Network linking its HQ to 15 prisons and young offenders institutions throughout Scotland. Like SPS's inmates, financial details were not released. ® Related stories UK crawls up Euro BB league table Nildram launches SDSL promo Broadband is great, say business bosses Demon does entry-level DSL
Tim Richardson, 01 Nov 2004

For sale: Vulcan bomber, one belligerent owner

If your next-door neighbour has just bought a thrusting silver 4x4 with tints, alloys and bull-bars and spends all of his time waxing it suggestively on the front drive just to make sure everyone else knows just how inadequate they are in the vehicle department, then eBay may have the answer. Yup, for just a little over £6k (current top bid £6,100), you can snap up Avro Vulcan XL391 - complete with engines - just as long as you're prepared to move it from Blackpool airport where it is currently menacing passers-by. Details, it must be said, are sketchy. No indication as to whether it's got tax and MOT or what insurance class you might be expected to pay before taking it for a spin. The vendor simply notes that there is no postage on this particular item. Still, it must be worth a punt - despite its reportedly less-than-perfect condition. After all, it's all very well revving your chav Rav-4 on a Sunday morning but how's that going to compete against the might of four Rolls Royce Olympus 301s? We rest our case. The auction for Vulcan XL391 has five days left to run. Those wishing to keep up with, and ultimately blow away, the Joneses, should have a shufti here. The Avro Vulcan First flown in 1952, the Avro Vulcan was developed in response to the need for a four-engined nuclear bomber to counter the growing threat of the Soviet Union. The planes saw service with the RAF from 1956 to 1984 and won signal successes in the 1982 Falklands Islands conflict, participating in the famous Black Buck missions against Argentinian installations 3,886 miles away from the nearest useable airfield. XL391 - a Vulcan B Mk.2 - was one of 136 of the type built (including two prototypes) and first flew in 1963. She was among a number disposed to interested parties after retirement by the RAF. Details of her service history are hard to come by and we'd welcome any additional info which we can pass on to prospective buyers. Related stories Utah grounds low-flying Santa US throws $1bn at unmanned attack aircraft UK scientists seek silent aircraft
Lester Haines, 01 Nov 2004
globalisation

Toshiba recalls notebook RAM

Toshiba today said it could replace memory modules installed in certain Tecra, Satellite and Portégé notebooks after it emerged that some may malfunction and cause data-loss. Toshiba did not reveal how many machines worldwide might be affected by the problem. The company said that third-party DIMMs fitted into a range of machines "might potentially cause blue screens, intermittent PC lockups or undetected memory data corruption... under certain conditions and when used in combination with certain other components". Toshiba stressed that the likelihood of such an outcome was "extremely low". The following computers may be affected by the faulty RAM, Toshiba said: Tecra S1, 9100, M1 and M2 laptops; Satellite 2400, 1110, Pro M10 and M30 machines; and Portégé R100 and M200 notebooks. Not all PCs of these types contain the potentially faulty memory, the company added. Toshiba said it will replace these machines' factory-installed DIMMs free of charge, but owners have until 30 April 2005 to take advantage of the offer. For now, they need to download a free utility which will test the memory installed on their computers. The software will flag up potentially faulty RAM and provide details of how the memory can be replaced. The utility is also available on CD from local service centres, Toshiba said. Back in June, HP similarly recalled a range of notebook memory modules which might cause data loss under certain circumstances. Then, as now, the notebook vendor did not disclose which third-party supplied the memory modules that might malfunction. ® Related stories UK reseller sues over Great Fujitsu HDD Fiasco Dell recalls 4.4m notebook power adaptors IBM recalls 500,000 melting notebook adapters Apple recalls 15in PowerBook batteries Dell issues adaptor electric shock warning HP recalls notebook RAM NCR recalls inkjet refill kits Lexmark recalls 40,000 laser printers
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

Undead worms dominate Halloween viral chart

NetSky-P and Zafi-B continue to be the most frequent causes of computer virus infestation months after their releases in March and June this year. NetSky-P accounted for more than a third (35.8 per cent) of all viral incidents monitored by anti-virus firm Sophos in October. More than a quarter (28 per cent) of other reports compiled by Sophos were about Zafi-B. The variety of social engineering tricks used by Zafi-B accounts for its relative success, according to Sophos. Emails infected with Zafi-B appear appended to text messages in many different languages, a factor that may have induced many, used to English-language only worms, into opening Zafi's infectious attachment. Only one new virus - Bagle-Zip - made in it into Sophos' monthly viral charts. "With only one new entry, at the bottom of this month's chart, the dominance of Netsky-P and Zafi-B seems unshakable," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos. "These viruses are so prevalent and well established that it is very difficult for newer viruses to compete. Thousands of copies are circulating all over the world - it may be that unprotected PCs in areas where computer security is not a top priority are responsible for keeping the menace alive." Sophos analysed and protected against 1,131 new viruses in October, bringing the total number of viruses Sophos protects against to 96,156. Sophos reckons that 4.6 per cent (or one in 22 emails) circulating in October were viral. That makes October a quiet month. By comparison almost one in ten emails (nine per cent) sent out in July were infected with a computer virus. ® Top ten viruses in October 2004, according to Sophos NetSky-P Zafi-B NetSky-D NetSky-Z Bagle-AA NetSky-B NetSky-Q MyDoom-O NetSky-C Bagle-Zip Related stories Sasser kid blamed for viral plague NetSky tops virus charts by a country mile Zafi-b speaks in many tongues Viruses up - or down
John Leyden, 01 Nov 2004

Business frets over wireless security

There is no question that a number of the new mobile solutions that are being developed could help many business processes function more efficiently. The results of a recent survey, carried out at an executive briefing held by IT consulting services and solutions provider C&C Technology, sheds some light onto the perceived advantages of wireless working and some major concerns regarding these solutions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, wireless network security was highlighted the most significant concern with 39 per cent of IT directors of the opinion that security concerns pose the biggest challenge. It is true to say that in too many organisations today there are few 'corporate' procedures covering the introduction of wireless systems. Even more worrying is the fact that with Wi-Fi technology readily, and cheaply, available many individuals inside companies take it on their backs to install access devices on the corporate network, often with no understanding of the potential security hole being opened. It is interesting to see that the survey went on to find that in far fewer than half of the organisations interviewed (39 per cent) no more than a quarter of the workforce were utilising mobile solutions. The driving factors likely to increase the use of mobile systems were given as "greater flexibility" (73 per cent) and "greater access to business applications" (58 per cent). Jason Colombo, Technical Director at C&C Technology stated, "Wireless and mobile working can deliver enormous benefits, however there are still a lot of security concerns regarding these networks. To get the most out of wireless technology, businesses need to address the issues that are preventing them from moving forward. We focus on helping companies to deploy an access strategy to ensure their wireless network operates efficiently and securely for the purpose for which it has been designed." It is clear that the introduction of wireless technology into mainstream business must be managed with the same business oriented change management processes as every other area of IT. This means that companies must make IT departments responsible for all wireless deployments and, much more importantly, ensure that all staff realise the consequences of doing their own local rollouts. With all organisations ever more dependent on IT systems it is essential that network security integrity be maintained at appropriate levels; this means that local management must dissuade well meaning IT amateurs from installing any wireless access technology. Wi-Fi can be secured but it requires knowledge; Wi-Fi can deliver business benefits but it takes care, forethought and ongoing maintenance and support. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories Wi-Fi 'sniper rifle' debuts at DEFCON Wi-Fi Alliance acts on dodgy wireless kit US wardriver pleads guilty to Wi-Fi hacks
Tony Lock, 01 Nov 2004

Rockall Times reignites anti-smoking jihad

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion So popular have UK satire website The Rockall Times' contributions to the ongoing smoking debate proved that the North Atlantic-based ne'er-do-wells have just been obliged to reprint their top-notch campaigning apparel for a third time: While we concede that they're not for the faint-hearted, it's certain that both these t-shirts will leave onlookers in no doubt that smoking is either a) the greatest evil currently threatening humanity bar David Blunkett's voluntary/compulsory ID card scheme or b) something which should be available free on the NHS. Readers are invitied to make their own minds and purchase one of these top-quality, 100 per cent cotton offerings which are on sale for just £12.76 (£14.99 inc VAT), at Reg merchandising tentacle Cash'n'Carrion. Sizes available range from medium to XXL. ® Cash'n'Carrion newsletter Sign up here for our monthly merchandising email and receive advance notification of all new products which will be pre-offered exclusively to subscribers at a discounted rate. You'll also get a headstart on drastic end-of-line reductions and special offers.
Cash'n'Carrion, 01 Nov 2004

Carphone unveils bundled broadband

The Carphone Warehouse is stepping up the pressure on BT with a new bundled voice and broadband offer for under £20 a month. TalkTalk Broadband gives punters uncapped 512k ADSL (with no set-up fees and a free modem) plus free evening and weekend phone calls. Calls to other TalkTalk customers are also free. The decision by The Carphone Warehouse to bundle a voice and broadband offer in one competitive package is likely to increase the heat on BT Retail which is seeing its traditional voice customer base attacked by rival operators such as Centrica and Tele2. But although the rival telco insists it wants its service to be as "straightforward as possible" that's not quite the case since anyone wanting to sign-up to the £19.99 a month offer must also have to subscribe to the TalkTalk phone service. Signing up to The Carphone Warehouse's broadband service alone will cost punters £21.99 a month. Said chief exec, Charles Dunstone: "Our customers have been demanding a broadband service for a while now and it's only right that we provide them with one that offers the highest possible quality with no download caps, at the lowest possible price. TalkTalk voice offers customers the best possible value through free calls and a guarantee to always be cheaper than BT." In the 20 months since The Carphone Warehouse launched its TalkTalk service it has signed-up more than 650,000 punters and reckons it is enjoying "continued strong growth". The company is so confident it can save punters money against BT that it will cough up £1,000 if punters can ever prove otherwise. ® Related stories Carphone Warehouse rings up higher sales BT and CPW in £1,000 challenge showdown Carphone Warehouse has a good quarter Carphone Warehouse in free call offer
Tim Richardson, 01 Nov 2004

Getronics snaffles PinkRoccade

BriefBrief The two biggest Dutch ICT service companies - Getronics and PinkRoccade - are to merge. Getronics will buy the outstanding shares of PinkRoccade, listed on Euronext Amsterdam, for €338m. The management board will be chaired by Klaas Wagenaar, existing chairman and CEO of Getronics. The companies believe that the new combination will have a much stronger presence in the ICT services markets in the Benelux, the UK, Spain and Italy and in other continents, with annual revenues in excess of €3bn and a workforce of more than 29,000 operating in 30 countries. One-off savings are estimated at €35m to €45m. The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (Autoriteit Financiële Markten), Euronext Amsterdam NV and the trade unions have been informed of the intended offer. ® Related stories Numbers don't add up for Telcos Atos Origin: tough turnaround for Sema PinkRoccade: heavy debts and other problems
Jan Libbenga, 01 Nov 2004
arrow pointing up

Apple London store doors to open 20 November

Apple has formally announced that it will open its first UK - nay, first European - Apple Store on Saturday, 20 November. On that day, at 10am, the doors at 253 Regent Street, London, W1 will open to the public for the first time and "extend Apple's reputation for innovation and flair... bringing a totally new retail experience to Europe". All of which is no great surprise, Apple having long ago admitted it was working on a UK store, largely through details exposed through its necessarily public recruitment programme. Still, it will be nice to see the site complete after the best part of 12 months' construction and shop-fitting work. As for the opening itself, Apple fans will undoubtedly be tempted by the free T-shirts the company is handing out to the first 2500 people to show up and enter. They and other punters will have the chance of winning over £2000 worth of "digital lifestyle" kit. Not only that but 300 packages of products "with an estimated value of over £700" will be sold "for just £249". Pah, Apple, you shouldn't be playing the "estimated value" game - tell us what the combined retail price would be, not what you think it's all worth. We could "estimate" it to be worth £7, and where would that leave "lucky" buyers? Finally, rockers Steriogram will perform a live set for store vistors' delectation. So a London store is opened by a band from New Zealand. Do Jobs and co. actually know where the UK is? Or are they confusing Middle Earth with Middle Engand. Go figure. ® Related stories Apple eyes Birmingham for next UK store Apple London store 'to open 20 November' Apple UK store to open 'Autumn 2004' Apple confirms UK AppleStore opening Apple to open flagship London store this Xmas
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

Creative Zen Touch 20GB music player

Reg reviewReg review Creative may claim to have introduced the world's first hard drive-based music player, but its efforts have always been undershadowed by Apple's iPod. It's easy to see why. Literally so, in fact. While Creative's Singaporean product designers have focused on functionality, Apple's worked on look and feel. So while the iPod is eye-catching, Creative's Nomad Jukebox family, later dubbed the Zen line, have never looked comfortable alongside consumer electronics kit.
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

NASA eyes May launch for Shuttle

NASA has announced that the Space Shuttle will take to the skies once more next year, in a launch window that lasts from mid May to early June. It will be the first mission in more than two years after all flights were grounded in the wake of the Columbia shuttle disaster in which seven astronauts died. The space sgency had originally planned to get Shuttle back in orbit early in 2005, but the (already tight, possibly too tight) schedule slipped somewhat thanks to Florida's busier-than-usual hurricane season. Several of NASA's facilities had to shut down because of the storms. William Readdy, Space Flight Leadership Council co-chair and associate administrator for Space Operations commented: "After four hurricanes in a row impacted our centers and our workers, it became clear, we needed to step back and evaluate the work in respect to the launch planning date." Eileen Collins, NASA's first and only female commander, will take the helm on flight STS-114. She previously commanded mission STS-93, on which the Chandra X-Ray Observatory was deployed. Around 28 more shuttle missions are planned, NASA says, most of which will help with the construction of the International Space Station. ® Related stories NASA green lights robotic Hubble fix Hubble loses an eye NASA seeks Hubble robot rescue input
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2004

Celebrity mugshots get date with destiny

Anyone who knows the special pleasure of seeing pictures of their favourite celebrities immediately after they've been arrested will welcome the launch of a calendar including all of Hollywood's A-list felons. Celebritymugshotcalendars.com offers 12 celebs including Robert Downey Jr looking a little crazed after he was arrested for drug possession. Al Pacino (guns), Matthew McConaughey (marijuana), Christian Slater (weapons) and our very own Hugh Grant (floppy fringe) are also included. The police ID pictures are not of the best quality but you do feel you are sharing a special moment. For a mere $12.99 you get a nicked celeb for every single month of the year. The firm behind the calendar is not only targetting cinema fans. Apart from the Hollywood version there is a sports edition, and a separate NFL version - stand up OJ Simpson - a music selection, featuring Michael Jackson's ferrety features, and a Hip-Hop calendar fronted by Eminem. To get you in the mood the Smoking Gun has a fine selection of such images available here or you can order a calendar here. ® Related stories P2P virus fakes nude Zeta Jones pics Am I annoying or not? TV stars move in to Pig Brother sty
John Oates, 01 Nov 2004

BT Wholesale to trial 2Mb ADSL

BT Wholesale has begun recruiting ISPs to take part in a trial for a new 2Mb ADSL service. The trial is to kick off on 29 November and is set to run for at least eight weeks. The BT IPStream 2000 product is due to be tested within BT during November before the introduction of a broader commercial trial. BT reckons the "wires only" self-install product will provide an "attractive solution for the more demanding first time broadband user and address the needs of customers in the consumer market who may be looking to upgrade to a higher bandwidth product". BT Wholesale announced back in April that it intended to pilot a 2Mb service in the autumn. At the time, the wholesale cost of the service was set at £38 a month, which suggests that end users could expect to pay somewhere between £50 and £60 a month, when the product becomes available commercially. ® Related stories BT to trial 250K, 2Mb DSL services BT doubles DSL speeds for business Iomart offers free broadband
Tim Richardson, 01 Nov 2004

Intel 3.46GHz P4 Extreme Edn and i925XE chipset

ReviewReview It wasn't so long ago that Intel released the i925X chipset, and there was a lot to shout about. The chipset broke a lot of new ground, like the introduction of DDR 2 memory, Matrix RAID capability and Hi-Definition Audio. Then there was the long awaited debut of PCI Express. But one thing that remained static: the frontside bus (FSB) speed, at 800MHz, writes Riyad Emeran.
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

IT skills shortage threatens humanity

British business is already suffering material harm because of a lack of skilled IT staff, a Gartner survey has found. The poll of 3,200 companies showed that 76 per cent of businesses which had problems finding staff have been forced to delay launching new products and services because of problems filling IT vacancies. One third of businesses are suffering such shortages. Part of the problem comes from the continued lack of women in the IT workforce - only 20 per cent of IT workers are female. Researchers believe the problem is bad now and will get worse in the future. They predict the IT workforce will grow at between 1.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent per annum for the next ten years. Apart from new jobs, recruits are also needed to fill posts left empty by people leaving the industry, taking a career break or retiring. This replacement demand is expected to be nine per cent for IT professionals and 14 per cent for the IT industry. This means the UK needs to find between 156,000 and 179,000 entrants a year. Offshoring will have an impact in changing the kind of skills people need. Although purely technical jobs may be lost, most offshoring contracts do create other jobs or opportunites in areas like Business Process Outsourcing. Managing outsourced suppliers and innovating will become more important parts of remaining IT staff job function. The UK has 580,000 people working in the IT industry and another 590,000 people working as IT professionals in other industries. The survey also found that 20m out of a total workforce of 27m use technology as part of their jobs but 40 per cent of them have never had any training. ® Related stories Brits apathetic? Apoplectic, more like Billions wasted due to IT skills deficit Work drying up for IT freelancers
John Oates, 01 Nov 2004

Oxford Uni 'hackers' suspended

A pair of Oxford University students have been suspended over a little hacking project they undertook to "expose" security flaws in the University's IT system. First-year students Patrick Foster and Roger Waite were able to snoop on traffic sent over the network - including email passwords sent in plain text, a contravention of University security policies - and unencrypted CCTV footage. They published an account of their activities in the Oxford Student paper in May 2004, suggesting that University IT systems were "wide open to hackers". Systems were not "hacked" but "snooped on", according to University techies, who criticised the duo's reporting as inaccurate and “sensationalist”. Oxford dons were also angry with the student hacks' actions and instigated disciplinary proceedings. Last week Oxford's Court of Summary Jurisdiction suspended Foster, 20, from the university until May 2005. Waite, 21, was banned from university buildings and facilities (a process known as rustication) for a lesser period of one term. He's been suspended from the second year of his history course until January, the BBC reports. Both undergraduates admitted the various charges (unauthorised access, violating users' privacy and wasting staff time) against them. Foster, a politics, philosophy and economics student, who has since become editor of Oxford Student, and Waite have both vowed to appeal their sentences. ® Related stories Oxford Uni hacks-to-hackers land in hot water Hacking, downloading and bad Web design Student hackers: we didn't defeat campus debit card system Victory for commonsense in nuke lab hacking case
John Leyden, 01 Nov 2004

Net poll trashes Get Carter remake

Sylvester Stallone has his place, but Get Carter is not it. This is the overwhelming conclusion of movie fans, who voted the 2000 version of the 1970s classic the "worst remake of all time" in an online poll. Get Carter, arguably one of the greatest British films of all time, tells the story of Jack Carter, a man on a quest to Newcastle to avenge his brother's death. How anyone involved in the remake thought Stallone could fill Michael Caine's shoes, or thought they could reasonably set it in Seattle is a mystery beyond comprehension. The poll, carried out for online DVD rental firm ScreenSelect, put the remake of the Hitchcock classic, Psycho in second place, Thunderbirds in third and the utterly forgettable The Assassin, the remake of French-language film La Femme Nikita in fourth. Charlie's Angels came in fifth, although since the original was a TV series, we think that is a little unfair. [Although that should not be interpreted as any kind of judgment about the quality or otherwise of the film - Ed] The new version of Alfie made it to number six on this Top Ten worst list. ScreenSelect founder Alex Chesterman says this proves "you just can't beat Michael Caine". ® Related stories Harry Potter IP claim pinned down on the beaches Mitnick movie comes to the US UK DVD rental firms merge
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2004

German flogs Saddam's left leg on web

Punters eager for a piece of Gulf War II memorabilia - albeit a rather large piece - should mosey on down to German auction site azubo.de where they can snap up Saddam Hussein's left leg for offers currently in excess of €3,400. Of course, it's not really Saddam's leg - he'll be needing both of those when he finally stands trial for making a thorough nuisance of himself for the last 30 years or so. Nope - this leg is is the leg formerly known as the limb attached to the famous Saddam statue as heroically toppled by US forces and then beaten senseless by shoe-wielding Iraqis. According to the site's English blurb: The left of these two legs is now for auction. Following the revolution of the statue, the entire place, including the legs, was cleaned by English soldier. Subsequently, the legs were token by the Englishmen. The legs were offered by different contacts to me for the resale. After positive examination of authenticity, made by the help of a lot of photo such as video photographs, I will offer one of these legendary legs. Hmmm. We had a sneaking suspicion that the Brits were involved in there somewhere. UK citizens will know what we mean - you leave an enormous metal leg of a toppled dictator outside your front gate for two minutes, and someone's swiped the bloody thing. Then, before you know it, it's turned up in Germany mounted on a plinth. So, now we know how 10 per cent or so of hopalong Hussein ended up in Europe, just two questions remain: where is Saddam's right foot (also detached at the toppling ceremony, we believe) and does anyone know the whereabouts of the rest of the poor chap? ® Related stories For sale: Vulcan bomber, one belligerent owner Man flogs wedding invite on eBay eBay Hawaiian skull vendor on federal rap
Lester Haines, 01 Nov 2004

BT spins prop on SME VoIP promo

BT has cut the ribbon on a new internet telephone service aimed at small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). The "BT Business Broadband Voice" service lets workers save money on voice calls by routing them over the net. Subscribers to the service plug in a "BT Broadband Voice box" into their broadband connection and then use a standard telephone to make calls. BT reckons the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service could save companies 64 per cent on renting a second line. "Broadband Voice is an important step in getting smaller companies on to a level playing field with their larger competitors, allowing them to take advantage of the same cost savings from VoIP. It also offers more mobility for employees, as they can use the technology either remotely or in the office," said BT bigwig Craig Rowland. Connection is free until January 17. After that it will set back punters £40. Monthly subscription to the service is also cheaper until then. Analysts reckon VoIP is set to be a major earner for companies. However, experts are predicting that those firms that have pioneered VoIP - such as Vonage - are unlikely to stay ahead for long. Instead, analysts argue that they are now losing market share and will ultimately be overtaken by the major telecoms player. Said Yankee Group analyst Kate Griffin: "While alternative VoIP providers such as Vonage and many of the Vonage-like providers have a first-to-market advantage, their lead will be short-lived." ® Related stories BT's batphone swoops closer Broadband wireless threatens 3G voice ambitions Business Serve buys VoIP outfit Former Freeserve duo dial in to VoIP
Tim Richardson, 01 Nov 2004

Web paedophile jailed for four years

A 35 year-old computer consultant was today sentenced to four years imprisonment after he admitted downloading more than 96,000 paedophilic images and movies from the net. Ian Baldock, 35, from St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of distribution of indecent images of children and 32 counts of making indecent images of children. His Honour Judge Kemp jailed Baldock for four years for the charges of possession, three years for the charges of distribution and three year for the charges of making images of child abuse. All three sentences are to run concurrently. It's the second time bald Baldock has been convicted of child abuse offences. In 1998 he arrested as part of Operation Cathedral, a National Crime Squad investigation into the "Wonderland Club", and subsequently jailed for two and a half years. The latest investigation into Baldock began in April 2004, following the June 2003 arrest of David Ward in York. In June 2004 Ward was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment at York Crown Court after pleading guilty to the attempted rape of a nine-month old baby girl, taking indecent photographs of the assault and the distribution of more than 33,000 indecent images of children. Ward made these images available on an internet file service which, investigators discovered, was frequently accessed by Baldock. The investigation into Baldock was led by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit assisted by officers from Sussex Police. Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Deats, Head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, said: "Trading in indecent images of children is a despicable crime and we are determined to track and find those who perpetrate it. This is not a victimless offence. The images show real children, suffering real time abuse and we are determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. "Law enforcement is determined to identify, target and prosecute criminals who abuse children on or off-line. If people like Ian Baldock did not create the demand for these images, there would be no reason for their supply. We are sending out a clear message that that there is no hiding place for paedophiles on the Internet," he added. ® Related stories Child porn ring smashed (Operation Cathedral) Paedophile says why he loves the Net Pedos volunteered system passwords to cops 102 UK kids saved from paedos (Operation Ore) BT blocks 230k attempts to access child porn
John Leyden, 01 Nov 2004

Indian Muslim divorces wife by email

Indian Muslim clerics have the rather tricky task of deciding whether an email sent by a US-based husband divorcing his wife in India is valid, the Hindustan Times reports. Rahat Iqbal married Rubab in 1998. He left for the US shortly thereafterafter, promising to call for her in three weeks. Six long years later, she received her official email notification of divorce from the absent Rahat. Clerics are now debating the validity of Rahat's e-divorce. Maulana Khalid Rashid stated that since emails contained no signature, the husband would need to authenticate the missive - preferably by calling her to confirm his intentions. Furthermore, the email must adhere to the "triple talaq" principle - whereby a wife can be disposed of if her spouse repeats "talaq" ("I divorce thee" or thereabouts) three times. However, Maulana Akhtar Raza Khan decreed that "divorce should be handwritten and the wife should recognize the handwriting", thereby putting paid to the digital quickie divorce. Furthermore, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad considered email termination "absolutely illegal", adding that the triple talaq scheme is widely accepted only among Sunni Muslims. Interestingly, the Hindustan Times notes that "Malaysia, which was facing a massive problem of divorce through SMS and e-mail, has banned such divorces". ® Related stories Jilted lover jailed for email stalking Cybersex blamed for half of divorces Internet blamed for marriage break ups
Lester Haines, 01 Nov 2004

China plans five-day space mission

China has announced that is to send a second manned mission to space in 2005, signaling a firm commitment to its emerging space programme. Space authorities made the announcement at an air show in the Guangzhou Province. Two astronauts will blast into orbit on a Long March 2F rocket, in a capsule called Shenzhou-VI. Their mission will outlast the Chinese' first manned space flight by some time: Shenzhou-V flew with one astronaut and was outside the atmosphere for just over 21 hours. On this occasion, they will remain in orbit for five days, although their craft could support them for up to one week. The astronauts will live in the orbital section of their craft, and will use their time in zero G to conduct unspecified scientific experiments. The China Aerospace Science and Technology (CAST), the Chinese equivalent of NASA, plans to put a satellite in orbit around the moon with in two years, and to send a lander there by 2010. The lunar orbiter has been named Chang'e-I - a reference to a story about a fairy called Chang'e who flies to the moon. CAST also plans to send a sample return mission to the moon by 2020. ® Related stories Cassini glimpses Titan's face NASA re-schedules Swift launch Virgin space tourists will blast off to Bowie
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Nov 2004

Europe indifferent to portable video

European consumers want music not video or games on their portable gadgets. According to Jupiter Research only a lowly five per cent of people would like a music player which could also play films. A mere 13 per cent of people expressed any interest in a portable movie machine. But a third of people are interested in music players like the iPod. France is the most enthusiastic country with 39 per cent of French punters enthusing over portable music players. Brits came in second with 31 per cent. Ian Fogg, personal technology and broadband analyst at Jupiter, told El Reg: "If consumers could get video added to their devices without adding any weight, size or price they'd go for it." Fogg said manufacturers need to add features which bring more to the music without damaging battery life or sound quality. He cited Apple's decision to include album art which, apart from its own value, makes it easier for punters to find their way round their own music collections. Jupiter believes hardware manufacuturers should ignore hybrid devices and concentrate on improving sound quality on standalone music players. Jupiter spoke to 5,000 consumers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Separately Jupiter is predicting the value of the Europeam digital music market will leap from €10.6m at the end of 2003 to €836m by the end of 2009. ® Related stories UK reseller unveils 'video iPod' iRiver to ship third 'video iPod' in July Personal video devices to challenge music players
John Oates, 01 Nov 2004

Grokster, Sony BMG to do legit P2P service?

Sony BMG - aka 'Bony' - the merged music label is in talks with Grokster, the P2P software company has confirmed. Negotiations are believed to be focused on the development of a new, label-friendly P2P network. If launched, the service - said to be called Mashboxxx - would provide both free material and contact with a price-tag attached, according to an Associated Press report citing sources close to the talks. The Mashboxxx name may not make the final cut, since some crafty so-and-so has already nabbed it - on 29 October 2004, no less. It's not clear yet how the service would work. Given the Grokster connection, P2P has to be a strong part of the mix, but with a DRM component. Undoubtedly, the client code would block the sharing of unauthorised material, allowing other files to be traded in the usual way. Suitably programmed DRM rules might allow anyone to download a song, play it once or twice, and then require payment before copying to a CD, digital music player or for further listening on the PC. The Bony/Grokster service is said to utilise digital fingerprinting technology ensure only authorised files are shared. In the UK, music service Wippit has been taking this 'walled garden' approach for some time now, using it as the basis of its MP3-based unlimited download subscription service. Mashboxxx's technology partner is believed to be Snocap, the company set-up by Napster founder Shawn Fanning. This is the kind of thing Grokster has had its eye on for some time and represents the kind of deal the music industry might have been able to build with a variety of P2P companies if it hadn't got so stuck in its 'P2P = bad' mantra in the early Napster days. Certainly, a number of P2P companies have tried to license content to enable it to be shared openly, but have thus far stumbled partly on label hostility and partly on the sheer complexity of setting up a broad licensing scheme. Protected P2P services are already emerging - Faircopy and Weed, for example - but the Bony/Grokster deal, if it succeeds, marks the first time a major label has been willing to get involved. Back in April 2003, then Grokster CEO Wayne Rosso told The Register he'd been talking to a high-placed music industry executive about this kind of thing, and had received a broadly favourable response. Only the music business' extreme sensitivity to any reference to P2P prevented him from naming said executive. The AP report's sources name him as Bony CEO Andrew Lack. ® Related stories Spanish MP3 site owner to pay RIAA $10m Digital music firm demands big-name business boycott Consumer, privacy groups demand seat at Kazaa trial MP3 music service draws industry fire How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved New P2P software could end illegal music squabbles Court tells RIAA and Congress to let P2P software thrive P2Pers: we can make file-sharing secure and outsell iTunes Crypto plan to anonymise P2P, thwart RIAA P2P software suppliers team to fight RIAA and piracy
Tony Smith, 01 Nov 2004

Beware of Yahoo! spam scam

Spammers are trying to con users into setting up email accounts on their behalf via a series of bogus emails. The email requests, which claim to help Yahoo! prevent automated registrations, actually attempt to dupe users into creating fresh email accounts for spammers. Last years Yahoo! Began using technology to block the computerised creation of web mail accounts. Rather than manually create new accounts themselves, spammers have found out a way to con ordinary computer users into assisting them. Email filtering firm MessageLabs reports that the scam emails contain a fake Yahoo.com URL which redirect through a Google URL three times, in order to obfuscate the path of the link, before landed surfers on a fake Yahoo! web address. This page loads a real Yahoo! help page with legitimate information explaining the code verification process, followed by a fake pop-up window which shows the user a Yahoo picture ID and asks them to enter a code. Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, said: "This scam is another demonstration of how spammers and fraudsters attempt to manipulate computer users into doing their dirty work for them. Not only do they try and turn innocent users' machines into zombies for spam distribution, but they want them to set up new email accounts for them as well. The advantages for a spammer include increased capacity and flexibility when sending spam, as well as making it harder to trace the spammers themselves." MessageLabs urges Yahoo! members to be wary of fraudulent emails asking them to verify their Yahoo! ID code. The Yahoo! scam emails are being detected in relatively low volumes. MessageLabs speculates this might be because scammers are trying to maintain a low profile. MessageLabs said the method used in the Yahoo! verification scam follows a similar pattern to phishing attacks directed at a well-known US bank back in September. These fraudulent emails had the same triple Google redirection, suggesting that the same group could be responsible for both scams. ® The bogus emails have the characteristics shown here: Subject: Automatic Yahoo identifier completion Body text: Dear Yahoo! Member, We must check that your Yahoo! ID was registered by real people. So, to help Yahoo! prevent automated registrations, please click on this link and complete code verification process: [ URL removed ] Thank you. Related stories Hotmail, Yahoo! erect roadblocks for spam sign-ons Yahoo! sets decoy email traps for spammers US tops junk mail Dirty Dozen - again Big six unite to can spam
John Leyden, 01 Nov 2004

BT dangles Wi-Fi for a quid

BT is trying to drum up business for its Wi-Fi broadband service by offering an entry-level package for just £1 a month. Snag is, you have to be an existing BT Business Broadband, BT Broadband or BT Yahoo! Broadband customer to take up the offer. That aside, anyone signing up to the time-limited promo before the end of the year can get 500 minutes of wireless broadband access for three months for just a quid. After that, the 500 minutes will cost £5 a month. BT's Wi-Fi "Openzone" service - which has some 7,000 access points in the UK - usually starts at £6 an hour. Chris Clark, chief exec of BT Wireless Broadband, reckons the UK's dominant fixed line telco is trying to "fuel growth of the Wi-Fi market". ® Related stories Business frets over wireless security Wi-Fi Alliance certifies first converged kit UK WISP offers two weeks' free Wi-Fi access Don't price Wi-Fi to death, operators warned
Tim Richardson, 01 Nov 2004