3rd > November > 2004 Archive

Top tech nations revealed

Denmark is the world's most tech-savvy nation, deposing Sweden from the top spot in IDC's Information Society Index. The ISI looks at four factors to judge a country's ability to access and use information technology. It considers the number of PCs, IT spending as a percentage of GDP and software spending. It looks at the percentage of people with internet access. The survey also looks at telecoms infrastructure, broadband provision and mobile services. Finally the ISI looks at social factors such as access to education, civil liberties and government corruption. Based on 2003 data 67 per cent of Danes have access to the internet, 84 per cent of them accessing it from home. Twenty two per cent of households have broadband connections and 59 per cent of people have mobile phones. In contrast, the US scores lower for mobile use but has the highest number of homes with PCs and highest software spending. Sweden took second place, the US took third and Switzerland was in fourth. Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Korea, Norway and the UK made up the rest of the top ten. Report author and senior IDC analyst David Emberley noted that civil liberties and education usually determined a nation's level of technology use, but wireless technology is an exception. This is one area in which consumer adoption has been strong "even in some of those countries with lower overall scores for social freedoms," he said. Korea came in eighth and the UK came in 10th place. Indonesia, India, Turkey and Vietnam were the lowest ranking of the 53 countries considered. But the report noted that IDC only looks at countries where it has some local presence; so in effect the countries represent the world's 53 largest IT markets. Press release here and rather funky interactive map thingy is here ® Related stories Sainsbury's suspends online discounts UK.biz urged to get online BT Wholesale to trial 2Mb ADSL
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004
Broken CD with wrench

Veritas puts homemade touch on new OpForce

Veritas has retooled its OpForce management software to improve the way the code works with its existing products and to make it easier for administrators to control applications. Version 4.0 of OpForce is in some ways the most significant release of the product since Veritas acquired it in its buy of Jareva back in December of 2002. Veritas has taken close to 18 months to rework the product from a 3.0 release that was largely a rebadging of Jareva's OpForce IT Automation Suite. The latest version, which starts shipping this month, comes with many of the similar improvements Veritas has made with other products that fit in its utility computing line. First off, OpForce now works well with the Veritas Storage Foundation. That package includes Veritas' key Volume Manager and File System product. So, customers can now tap into Veritas' most mature, complex technology and manage a server from the file system on up to the application layer. Secondly, Veritas has rolled more sophisticated tools into OpForce, refining one of the key parts of its overall utility computing pieces. OpForce can now be used to install and manage BEA WebLogic servers. Customers should find that OpForce automates any number of management tasks typically associated with running BEA's application server. Veritas has also made some more general improvements to OpForce. Customers will now have a tool that scans servers for both prepackaged and custom applications. The tool then creates an inventory of the servers and the software running on them. Administrators can now also set up configuration templates that make it possible to automate the installation of packages of applications. Users of Microsoft's server products and Red Hat Linux Advanced Server will additionally find remote operating system installation tools. Overtime, Veritas expects to create even tighter links between OpForce and its other products such as Veritas Cluster Server. Veritas is also looking to add more support for third party middleware - namely IBM's WebSphere line - with OpForce. The changes to OpForce are fairly similar to those made last month with Veritas' new i3 release in the sense that the company is working hard to put its own touch on acquired products. OpForce 4.0 starts at $7,500 per management server and $500 per managed CPU. It's available for AIX, Solaris, SuSE Linux, Red Hat Linux and Windows. ® Related stories Microsoft mocks software rivals with dual-core chip embrace Veritas puts finishing touches on i3 The risks of remote back-up IT under threat, says Veritas
Ashlee Vance, 03 Nov 2004

No winner in US presidential election

Americans and many people abroad were no doubt hoping for a decisive victory in the presidential election. Sadly, this is not to be. There are delays in both Ohio and Iowa, and these may extend for as long as ten days, and possibly longer still. At this writing, Bush is ahead 249 to 242. Ohio's 20 electoral votes would guarantee Bush a win, or put Kerry back into the race. However, Bush leads in Ohio by over 130,000 votes with 99 per cent of precincts reporting, which certainly sounds like a victory - only the Democrats have refused to concede it. According to the Democrats, Ohio has over 170,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted, and these, the Party predicts, will be almost entirely for Kerry. Early Wednesday morning, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards announced that the Democrats would "make sure that every vote counts, and that every vote is counted." Thus it's clear that the lawyers will be taking over on Wednesday. While the provisional ballots will not likely give Kerry a victory, they might narrow the margin of victory enough for a re-count. If the margin of victory is less than 1/4 of one per cent, Ohio law requires a re-count. This is what the Democrats are hoping for. A re-count will give them the opportunity to challenge thousands of ballots for Bush, and, with luck, get enough of them thrown out to give the state to Kerry. If Bush wins enough electoral votes to win the election without Ohio, the Democrats will obviously abandon this scheme. (We should know if that is so within two or three days.) But if Ohio becomes crucial to Bush, the Kerry camp will do whatever it can to force a re-count, and then the lawyers on both sides will descend like locusts to fight over every ballot, in a process that might go on for weeks. We should mention that the vast majority of Ohio voters use the punch-card ballots that created such a mess in Florida in 2000. Chads, both hanging and pregnant, may well dominate the headlines again. It may take eight to ten days for Ohio to finish counting the provisional ballots. But that will be just the beginning if the process narrows the margin of victory enough to force a re-count, as the Democrats hope. Additionally, there are problems with optical scan machines in Iowa, and these may not be fixed until Wednesday afternoon. Iowa is close, and may not be decided until absentee and provisional ballots have been counted. Provisional ballots will not be counted until Thursday. Exit polls On Tuesday we predicted a decisive Kerry victory. Early exit polls showed a strong lead for Kerry in Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We calculated that if he got those four Eastern battleground states early, he would run the table. But the polls were off the mark. Kerry did win New Hampshire, which Bush won in 2000, and Pennsylvania, which Bush lost previously but fought hard for this time, but Kerry lost Florida early, and seems to have lost Ohio. And even if he pulls it out of his hat, he didn't get the decisive early win that he would have needed to create the momentum for an electoral landslide. Perhaps that's for the best. Bush has an impressive lead in the popular vote, and it's always better for the president to win both. Losing the popular vote in 2000 raised doubts about his legitimacy among many Democrats, and the Supreme Court's interference in the Florida re-count made the situation worse. If Bush wins both votes this time around, Democrats won't be able to whine that he's not really the president. On the other hand, if Kerry does get off the respirator, but loses the popular vote, he will be dogged by the same doubts that plagued Bush throughout his first term. ® Related stories US presidential race comes down to the wire Will the US election matter to the IT sector?
Thomas C Greene, 03 Nov 2004

FindWhat.com profits jump in Q3

FindWhat.com, the pay-per-click ad specialist, saw a big jump in revenue thanks to acquisitions and organic growth. For the three months ended 30 September 2004 the Florida-based firm brought in revenues of $58m - up sharply from $17.8m in Q3 2003. Net income for the period was $4.8m, 72 per cent up on last year (Q3 03: $2.8m). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the third quarter was $11.2m, up 129 per cent on the $4.9m recorded in the third quarter of 2003. FindWhat says EBITDA for the full year will now be better than previously forecast. Both US and Europe divisions grew revenue sequentially and espotting added to earnings. In July, the firm bought the Espotting network which provides keyword targeted advertising in ten European countries. The enlarged company competes against Yahoo!-owned Overture and Google for search-based advertising. Unlike its much bigger rivals, FindWhat doesn't have a big internet property of its own, fighting instead for affiliate deals with third-party publishers. This may make it more vulnerable than its competitors; on the other hand, FindWhat is no threat to websites, some of which may balk at climbing into bed with Overture or Google. Press release here. ® Related stories MSN makes its move on search Espotting-FindWhat.com merger is go Yahoo! buys Kelkoo Espotting, FindWhat.com sign new merger pact
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004

Carphone Warehouse revs up H1 profit

The Carphone Warehouse reported a 38.3 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for the first six months of the year, boosted by a "buoyant mobile market and the success of [its] fixed line services". Turnover for the six months to September end increased 25 per cent on last year from £825.5m to £1.03bn, while pre-tax profit jumped from £20.3m to £28.1m. Part of its success is down the to the "wealth of new products and attractive offers for customers", which The Carphone Warehouse suggests makes flogging mobile phones a relatively simple task. As the mobile markets across Europe become increasingly fragmented with more operators entering the sector, the firm is confident that there's even greater need for its brand of "impartial advice" to help customers steer their way through the maze of different products and bundles on offer. Upshot, it's continuing to invest in opening new stores. With 115 new stores opened in the last six months, its total number of outlets now stands at 1,329. These days, The Carphone Warehouse isn't just about flogging mobile phones. On Monday it stepped up the pressure on BT with a new bundled voice and broadband offer for under £20 a month. This builds on the launch of its residential TalkTalk fixed line phone service eighteen months ago, which it markets as a "clear alternative to BT". During that time it has signed up almost 650,000 customers and in the UK the business reported a profit - after all costs - in August and September And in its fixed-line business market, its telco Opal has also "continued to perform well". Although this B2B sector is still highly competitive, the company remains upbeat about the future performance of the business. ® Related stories Carphone unveils bundled broadband Carphone Warehouse rings up higher sales BT and CPW in £1,000 challenge showdown Carphone Warehouse has a good quarter Carphone Warehouse cashes in on 3G
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2004

UK.biz likes buying online

UK Businesses are buying goods and services over the web in increasing numbers. The latest government figures show that 29 per cent of companies bought online in 2003, up 13 per cent from 2002. Broadband has been more widely adopted too: one in four companies had a fast connection by 2003, compared to one in seven the year before. The figures, part of the government's annual e-commerce survey, show that although big businesses tend to buy more online, smaller companies are adopting new technologies at a much faster rate than their larger cousins. The report is based on a survey of 12,000 businesses in the UK,excluding those in the financial sector. Overall, 70 per cent of businesses use a personal computer of some kind, and 62 per cent have internet access. As well as buying more online, businesses are selling more goods in the virtual arena too, although the growth here is very small and seems to be hitting a plateau. In 2002, just four percent of UK companies had an e-tail outlet. By 2003, this had risen to five per cent. This cautious growth is mirrored in the number of businesses with any kind of web presence, up just two per cent to 31 per cent in 2003. A breakdown of the value of e-commerce in the UK will be published later this month, the government said. ® Related stories Sainsbury's suspends online discounts UK.biz urged to get online Consumers hit by net security jitters
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2004

BMA calls warning on NHS IT

The British Medical Association is warning that the project to sort out the National Health Service IT system is risking failure by not engaging with doctors and other health workers. Speaking at the eHealth conference in London yesterday Dr John Powell, chairman of the BMA's IT committee, said the NHS National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT) needed to learn lessons from history. "The national programme must learn the lessons of other high profile public sector IT projects such as the passport office fiasco of 1999. Large-scale public IT projects do not have a good track record in the UK and so it is paramount that the NHS learns the lessons of history and engages with the frontline staff who will be using the new systems. So far the level of engagement and consultation with the medical profession has been wholly inadequate." Powell said doctors would welcome any system which provided real change. "We hope that improvements to IT systems will reduce the administrative burden on doctors so they can spend more time treating patients. This goal will only be realised if the national programme can provide systems that are at least as effective as those currently in use. Clinical staff must be consulted. There is no point investing billions of pounds in systems that do not have the confidence of users." The NPFIT project includes plans to provide every UK citizen with an electronic patient record. The Department of Health has already smashed its own budget guidance. It warned in October that the final bill could be as high as £30bn. A survey of GPs, carried out last month, found 75 per cent of them fear the project will be a failure. More information on the BMA website here. ® Related stories NHS OSS white paper is 'disappeared' NHS IT costs skyrocket Doctors divided over £2.3bn NHS IT project
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004

Queen of the Sky gets marching orders

Air hostess Ellen Simonetti, who was suspended for including photos of herself in uniform on her personal blog, has been sacked by Delta Airlines. She was originally suspended without pay in early October while an investigation was carried out. She took the offending pictures down at that time - they're back up now. Simonetti is taking legal action against the airline for unfair dismissal. In a statement quoted by the BBC, she said: "As a result of my suspension and subsequent termination without cause by Delta Airlines I am moving forward with filing a discrimination complaint with the Federal Government EEOC [US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]." She has a hired a Texas law firm to pursue Delta for "wrongful termination, defamation of character and lost future wages." She has also hired a PR firm because of the number of interview requests she has received. The Queen of Sky blog is available here. The airline objected because the blog, a fictionalised account of trolley dolly life, included a couple of shots of Simonetti in her Delta uniform. Delta described the pictures as inappropriate and a spokesperson for the airline told the BBC there were "very clear rules" regarding uniforms and Delta brands. ® Related stories Airborne blogger has wings clipped Web's most famous hooker kills blog Kerry girlfriend won't give up web shame
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004

Chinese puzzle hampers banks' phishing fight

Banks seeking to have phishing websites located in China taken down face a language barrier. According to senior IT security staffer at a merchant bank, China's security response team's sole staffer speaks Mandarin only. Understaffing has seldom been a problem in the world's most populous country but a group of IT security staffers we spoke to at a First Tuesday event in London last night told us that China's CERT team was a one-man operation, at least in terms of how it appeared to those outside the country. "Luckily we had a Chinese speaker on staff that was able to speak to the chap who did whatever it is he does. The site was taken down quite quickly," a IT security staffer from Deutsche Bank told El Reg. International response to taking down fraudulent websites varies enormously by country, we understand. A phishing website hosted in China or Russia can reappear in Cuba or elsewhere minutes after the first site is taken down. This is a key concern for banking security personnel, who - despite the limited financial losses to UK banks due to phishing attacks - are concerned about the potential of phishing attacks to tarnish brand reputations and turn consumers away from ecommerce. ® Related stories UK banks launch anti-phishing website UK police issue 'vicious' Trojan alert Botnets trawl for phishing victims Phishing for dummies: hook, line and sinker
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2004

UK.biz at ease with data protection

Most UK small businesses are behind the principles of data protection. A new survey, released by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), shows that most respondents were aware of data protection issues, with 80 per cent believing them to be relevant to their business. Small businesses seem well aware of the importance of data protection, with 91 per cent agreeing that privacy and confidentiality are important to their clients and business operations. Data protection legislation requires businesses to comply with eight principles of security. Businesses must make sure customer and employee records are stored securely, and most firms must register with the ICO when processing personal information. Encouragingly, almost 52 per cent of business respondents found it easy to comply with the Data Protection Act. Jonathan Bamford, assistant commissioner at the ICO, said: "Small businesses have a mind boggling array of legislation to comply with and we're trying to cut out the jargon so people know what they should and shouldn't be keeping on file. "The fact that most businesses do not consider data protection compliance a major effort, is a real step towards our aim of integrating data protection into everyday information handling practices across the UK." However, the minority of businesses may be more apprehensive about data protection procedures. The ICO has warned of 'scam agencies' operating in the sector, who demand more than the £35 fee to use their data protection services. You can check if you are affected by the Data Protection Act 1998 by visiting the IC's website, or by calling the the notification helpline on 0870 9027 522. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Whatdya mean, free software? Symantec drives security deep into enterprise Data protection watchdog distributes email mailing list
Startups.co.uk, 03 Nov 2004

NTL supercharges broadband

NTL looks set to take a big lead in the UK's broadband sector by ramping up speeds next year for residential broadband customers while freezing prices. The move will leave a yawning gap between NTL's offering and BT-based ADSL services. NTL's entry level 300k service will be supercharged to 1Mb while still costing £17.99 a month. Its new 2Mb service will cost £24.99 while 3Mb will cost £37.99. The speed increases will be rolled out to new customers during the first three months of next year, although existing customers must cough up a £25 "administration fee" to make the switch. Industry insiders reckon BT will have to follow suit or risk losing out, following this latest shake-up to hit the sector. Said NTL chief exec Simon Duffy: "To retain our leadership position in broadband, we will be increasing the speeds of our ntl: Home products in Q1 2005 to 1Mb, 2Mb and 3Mb at existing prices. This decision reflects our determination to ensure that we will always have the most competitive range of broadband products in the marketplace." The announcement accompanies NTL's Q3 results which showed that revenues swelled five per cent to £583m from £555m during the same period last year. Revenues were boosted by an increase in broadband and telephone subscribers, but offset by lower voice revenues in NTL's business division. Despite this, the cableco scaled down its net loss by 19 per cent to £95.4m from £118.4m in Q3 2003. Part of this is due to NTL paying less interest following its recent refinancing, the company said. It is also trying to cut costs by reviewing its "disconnection and credit management practices", and is in the process of elbowing 23,800 customers during Q4 who should have been "disconnected previously...due to non-compliance with our policies". It's also reducing the number of days customers get to settle their accounts before it disconnects their services. Duffy said: "During the third quarter, we remained focused on our four stated objectives and, despite a more intense competitive environment, were successful in increasing market penetration, growing total revenues year over year, expanding underlying margins and enhancing cash flow. He also added that two call centres had been closed during the last three months. Another six calls centres will close their doors in Q4. "The call centre consolidation, together with other efficiency initiatives, will reduce overall headcount to around 13,100 by the end of the year, underscoring our continuing efforts to improve margins," he said. Incidentally, NTL failed to provide any more detail on its decision to pull the plug on its direct telephone service in Ireland last month amid fears that hardware might overheat. Said NTL: "In October, ntl: Ireland ceased its domestic direct telephone service, which had a customer base of 2,200, after identifying a potential safety risk. This decision did not affect any other service provided by ntl: Ireland." Oh well. ® Related stories 'Overheating' NTL phone kit safe, says Tellabs ComReg keeps tabs on NTL's 'overheating' phones NTL disconnects 2,000 Dubliners NTL takes control of Virgin.net NTL customers told to 'f**k off' NTL joins unbundling bandwagon NTL outsources broadband tech support to IBM NTL to supercharge broadband speed NTL axes 1500 jobs
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2004

HP iPaq h6340 Wi-Fi, GSM PocketPC

ReviewReview I've been an advocate of the PDA pretty much since its inception. I've had everything from a Psion Organiser to a Compaq iPaq travelling around with me over the years, and during that time I've seen the PDA evolve significantly, writes Riyad Emeran.
Trusted Reviews, 03 Nov 2004

Sage buys business intelligence firm

Sage has bought IntelligentApps Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed sum. IntelligentApps makes business intelligence software. The two firms have been working together for a year selling a Sage-branded version of their product called Sage BI to mid-market customers. Gavin May, business development director at Sage, said: "The acquisition of IntelligentApps is a further step in Sage's strategy to provide our customers with key technologies and specialised software that integrates to their existing Sage accounting and CRM software." IntelligentApps, he said, had developed a state of the art set of products that can extract data from accounting, CRM or other systems to provide a powerful management dashboard for business users and a product set that will at last truly deliver on the promise of "business intelligence to the masses". IntelligentApps is part-owned by investment group NewMedia SPARK which was a poster child for dotcom exuberance. The firm made a swathe of high profile investments between 1999 and 2000 when prices were at their highest point. In early 2000 it invested more than £800,000 in Swedish start-up funplanet.com to pay for a UK launch. It also paid £1m for a minority stake in B2B site travelstore.com. As sentiment drained away from the dot-com sector NMS was left with an expensive portfolio of investments in dubious dotcoms. But among the dross was also some pearls, Now the VC firm is starting to cash in. Its first major exit of an early stage firm was the sale of Pricerunner, the comparison shoppping site, to ValueClick in August for $36m. Charles Berry, director at New Media SPARK, told The Register: "We've had a number of exits, Pricerunner was the most high profile. There has definitely been a change in the market, there are more opportunities for new investment and for combining our existing investments." He also noted it was about different kinds of deals - IntelligentApps worked with Sage for a year before they were convinced enough to buy them. Berry said this was partly the natural VC cycle - investments take five years or so to mature - and partly the realities of the market. He believes the sale of Pricerunner demonstrates the increased US appetite for investment in European technology firms. Following the Pricerunner sale NMS rejigged the board, moving Andrew Carruthers from MD to CEO. It also saw the departure of non-executive directors John Maples and Tony Sarin. Speaking at the time Tom Teichman, chairman of NMS, thanked them for their help "during an extended period of turbulence in the technology sector." ® Related stories New Media Spark wins German bid battle Thomson rids itself of Marketeye.com Cash Register: 15-21 Feb 2000 Cash Register: Jan 4-31, 2000
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004

Game makers hit with graphics patent violation suit

A US legal firm specialising into corporate law is taking the world's biggest computer games publishers to task over what it claims is the violation of a 1987 3D graphics patent. The patent, number 4,734,690 is owned one-time printing and graphics specialist Tektronix and covers the display in 2D of a 3D image. It was filed in April 1987 and granted almost a year later. The technique described is used by almost every game that uses 3D modelling, from the latest titles right back to the likes of Quake and possibly right back to Doom and even Wolfenstein - all products of the 1990s. It covers the use of a 3D space - the UAC HQ on Mars, say - to encompass one or more 3D objects - half a dozen Cacodeamons, say. The patent details how panning across the scene - sidestepping past a plasma bolt, say - can be realistically depicted on a 2D display, such as a computer monitor. Given its ubiquity, the firm behind the suit, Dallas, Texas-based McKool Smith, has named all the big guns in the gaming industry, including Electronic Arts, Activision, Take Two, Ubisoft, Atari, THQ, Vivendi Universal, Sega, Square Enix, Tecmo, Lucasarts and Namco. Some smaller firms are also in line for action, apparently. Prior art may yet come to their rescue. Early 3D games, such as The Colony and Spectre, released in the late 1980s, may just come in ahead of the 1987 filing. Early CAD and 3D graphics apps may also utilise the kind of process outlined in the patent, which doesn't explicitly focus on games, though that's clearly where the money is these days. Heck, even Elite, from the BBC Micro days, might well utilise such a techique. ® Related stories Campaign warns of software patent menace Nvidia accused of patent violation Novell to defend against open source IP attack 34 tech firms sued for alleged LCD patent theft Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards Microsoft FAT patent rejected
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2004

Brits feast on SPAM in Hormel ad frenzy

Hormel, the manufacturer of SPAM, is stepping up its effort to reclaim 'spam' from its association with unsolicited email via a £2m ad campaign. A five-week ad push reminding over-45s that canned spam meat is still available launches in the UK next week, the BBC reports. The campaign seeks to promote British sales of the pork, ham meat, salt and water brick, compressed into an eccentrically shape tin, which, astonishingly, reached an all-time high last year. TV ads will feature a range of Brits, "including builders, campers and pantomime performers", feasting on spam (are they mad? - ed). Hormel is sensitive about the term spam becoming associated with the junk mail menace rather than its products; and the campaign is one of a series of moves it has made to reclaim its trademark from its association with penis pill purveyors. In June 2003 Hormel sued anti-spam firm Spam Arrest over alleged trademark infringement because it of the use of the word "spam" in the firm's name. Self-styled "Spam King" Scott Richter's plans to market a line of spam-branded clothing also triggered a legal action by Hormel. Hormel doesn't object to the slang term "spam" to describe unsolicited commercial email but it object to the use of the word "spam" as a trademark or the use of images of its products in connection with junk mail. Hormel wants people to recognise SPAM - as referring to its product - while allowing that spam (all lower case) can be used to describe junk mail. Hard though it is for Hormel to stomach, such subtleties will fly over most people's heads. Ultimately, Hormel is on a hiding to nothing. When even legislation (e.g. the CAN-SPAM Act) uses the word spam as a generic term for unsolicited commercial email it is time to concede that a meaning, whether desirable or not, has become ingrained in the language. ® Related stories 'Spam King' Richter get legal roasting Junk mail from MS: whose spam is it anyway? US giants move to can spammers CAN-SPAM means we can spam
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2004

Gizmondo grabs troubled UK games maker

UK stock market-listed games developer Warthog is to be bought by US-based Tiger Telematics, owner of the Gizmondo mobile gaming console for almost 500,000 Tiger shares and $1.13m in cash - together worth $8.1m. Tiger will acquire all of Warthog's operating subsidiaries, along with the group's debts, and Warthog's CEO, Ashley Hall, COO Steven Law and CFO Simon Elms, will become Tiger employees. The completion of the sale was formally announced today, with the transaction bypassing shareholders in order to complete the deal as "rapidly as possible". Why the need to act so quickly? "Because the group has continued to face difficult trading conditions within the games development industry," the company said. In the year to March 2004, Warthog lost over £9m on sales of £5.7m - almost all of it in the form of development advances - down "significantly" on the previous year. Tiger is best-known as the owner of Gizmondo Europe, a subsidiary that this past Friday launched the Gizmondo console in Europe. The device needs to build up a library of quality titles, and the Warthog acquisition may be seen as a way of doing so. Warthog's team also has close ties with key games publishers and franchise owners. Warthog itself was founded in 1997 by ex-Electronic Arts staffers. It employs 250 in offices in Manchester, the US and Sweden. To date, the company has focused on developing games on behalf of publishers such as EA, Warner and Universal. In particular it has worked on a number of key cross-media franchises, such as the Harry Potter games. ® Related stories Gizmondo UK debut set for 29 October Gizmondo fishes for game coders with cash fund fly Gizmondo pushes Button after Jordan F1 deal deflates Gametrac morphs into, er, Gizmondo Gametrac mobile console to ship for under £60
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2004

BBC develops Welsh-English tooltip translator

A big congratulatory pat on the back to the BBC today for a new online language initiative aimed at helping anyone learning Welsh - BBC Vocab. It's all pretty simple - the programme highlights Welsh words in the browser window which are available for translation. Roll over any of these and a tool-tip box pops up giving the English translation and a "more" link leading to further linguistic background. BBC developer Iwan Standley says the team behind the project is hoping to "expand to other languages across the BBC site soon, and even different uses such as explanations of technical terms". What's more, the whole thing will be open source, so "hopefully there'll be even more ingenious uses for it appearing on other websites," as Standley puts it. Well, we can think of one immediate use for this smart idea: Reg Vocab, by which Proper English terms such as "punter", "boffin", "blag", "geezer", "fag", "quid", etc, can be marked for swift translation into US English (customer, scientist, robbery, guy, cigarette and pound, respectively). This will be an invaluable service for our long-suffering readers across the pond who have endured years of such alien terminology; and a welcome respite for the poor sod who has to answer all the "What the hell does [insert Cockney slang term] mean, for chrissakes?" ® Related stories Germans broadcast news in Klingon You lookin at mah website, pal? Welsh open sourcerers get language boost Learn English with Apple - at a price
Lester Haines, 03 Nov 2004

Microsoft wins £500m NHS contract

Microsoft has won a £500m contract to provide desktop software to the National Health Service. The deal followed personal negotiations between Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and NHS IT chief Richard Granger. The contract runs for nine years, with break points every three years, and covers up to 900,000 licences for Microsoft's Windows operating system and desktop software. It should help the Health Service cut £112m from its licensing costs in the next three years and £330m if the contract runs its full term. Richard Granger, Director General NHS IT said: "The NHS is in a uniquely strong position as an IT customer, currently the largest procurer of IT services in the world. This agreement illustrates Microsoft's commitment to supporting the needs and demands of one of its most important customers." "It represents not only substantial savings over both previous NHS pricing but also that of other public sector purchasers. Extremely favourable terms and conditions for the NHS have been secured." Last month the Office of Government Commerce, which guards the government's purse strings, published a report saying Open Source software now provides a viable alternative for governments. But the OGC said they were quite happy with the Microsoft deal. A spokesman for the OGC told The Register: "We look at best value for government. We have a Memorandum Of Understanding with Microsoft which formed the basis of negotiations between Richard Granger and Steve Ballmer so we start from a lower price. Additionally those units count towards the targets in the MOU so smaller departments with less buying power will see further savings in future from lower prices." Microsoft is also promising a £40m investment in creating a dedicated health service user interface which could further benefit the NHS if it is licensed to other health services. Press release on the Microsoft site here ® Related stories BMA calls warning on NHS IT Open Source ready for prime time in UK.gov, says OGC NHS OSS white paper is 'disappeared'
John Oates, 03 Nov 2004

Samsung creeps up on Motorola

Samsung's share of the global mobile phone market has jumped 34 per cent since last year, thanks to the success of its clamshell phones with digital cameras. At this time last year, Samsung had just 10.3 per cent of the global market, but it now holds a 13.8 per cent share, having shipped 22.7m phones in the third quarter to the end of September. According to the latest figures from In-Stat/MDR, Samsung is still a long way off market-leading Nokia, which has a 31.2 per cent share of the market. But it does mean that the Korean mobile manufacturer threatens the second-place position of Motorola, which has a 14.1 per cent market share. "On a global basis [Samsung's] success is distribution and product branding," said Neil Mawston, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics, speaking to ElectricNews.net. "Their handsets are more widely distributed than before and the product quality and design quality have all improved significantly." He said that consumers were looking for alternatives to the so-called "candy bar" form factor and were looking to upgrade from black-and-white screens, and that Samsung had developed some of the best alternatives. Siemens is now the fourth-biggest mobile phone manufacturer in terms of market share, followed by LG and Sony Ericsson, with a 7.2 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent market share, respectively. Total mobile phone shipments for the third quarter were 165m. In-Stat/MDR forecasts full-year shipments of 653m mobile phones, a 22 per cent increase over last year. It also predicted that unit shipments would grow to around 705m units in 2005. The other important trend in mobile sales is the recovery of Nokia. It has now regained the market share it enjoyed at this time last year, and its market share is bigger than it was for the two previous quarters, having shipped 51.4m handsets in the third quarter. Nokia has regained its lost market share by cutting handset prices. This strategy paid off in Western Europe, although it had no effect in North and South America, since the company continued to lose market share. Samsung and LG made considerable gains in those markets over the same period. The In-Stat/MDR figures tallied with a report released by Strategy Analytics at the end of October. However, Strategy Analytics predicted a higher overall shipment total for 2004 of 670m. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related stories Carphone Warehouse revs up H1 profit Nokia revives media phone concept with pen mini-tablet mmO2 eyes German i-mode service
Ciaran Buckley, 03 Nov 2004

Etailers fail ecommerce test

Etailers are still failing to cash-in on online sales, according to London-based internet outfit E-consultancy. Its latest report into ecommerce found that etailers need to make "vast improvements" in product search, promotion and customer support if they want to attract more customers. Its report Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks found that etailers could give a massive boost to sales overnight if only people could find the products they were after. The problem is so bad the study found that half of all products sought were not found by simple keyword searches. It also seems that etailers lack imagination when flogging gear. By bundling products and linking to related offers, E-Consultancy reckons punters could be persuaded to spend even more cash. Summing up the obstacles facing etailers the report said that all retailers can make "vast improvements" if they improve "search, support and promotion". Said E-consultancy spokesman Dr Mike Baxter: "Our report shows clearly that some aspects of online shopping are still struggling to reach basic levels of performance – search effectiveness, for example." Government figures published today showed that more and UK Businesses are buying goods and services over the web. One in three companies is buying online, compared to one in 20 in 2002. The report also found that businesses are flogging more gear too. ® Related stories UK.biz likes buying online UK.biz urged to get online Consumers hit by net security jitters
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2004

T-shirt for sale despite US election

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion Well, it's been a white-knuckle rollercoaster sort of a day what with the nail-biting conclusion to the US presidential election and all that, but elsewhere in the world, life must continue regardless. Which is why we're offering the eleven readers who are still with us and not glued to the BBC's exciting wall-to-wall coverage of said Clash of Titans - replete with massed ranks of pundits speculating themselves into a state of nervous exhaustion - the chance to snap up the long-awaited reprint of old favourite fsck /linux. We don't really need to elaborate on the blurb, which describes the shirt as "one for BOFHs and propellorheads everywhere". Suffice it to say that the 100 per cent premium cotton t-shirt is available in sizes from medium to XXL and goes out for a decidedly Democratic £12.76 (£14.99 inc VAT). Click on the pic or here to go straight to the shirt. ® 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, 03 Nov 2004

Intel to add Wi-Fi to Pentium 4 chipsets - again

Intel will integrate Wi-Fi into its next generation of desktop chipsets, the chip maker has revealed, two months after admitting it will not ship promised WLAN adaptors for its 'Grantsdale' and 'Alderwood' Pentium 4 chipsets. Speaking in Taipei this week, Intel chipset marketing chief Sunil Kumar said Wi-Fi support will return in new desktop chipsets due H2 2005. That's almost certainly a reference to 'Lakeport' and 'Glenwood', the follow-ups to the i915 and i925 chipset families. Originally due to be introduced during Q2 2005, it appears Lakeport and Glenwood have been put back to coincide with the release of 'Smithfield', the dual-core 90nm P4 derived from the current 'Prescott' chip. The next-gen chipsets are expected to bring to mainstream P4 family the 1066MHz frontside bus Intel introduced this week. The faster FSB is currently only supported by a 3.46GHz P4 Extreme Edition chip. The chipsets are also believed to support 667MHz DDR 2 SDRAM. Intel's chipset roadmaps note that Lakeport and Glenwood will incorporate 'Caswell 2', an add-in Wi-Fi module. The chip giant had planned to offer such a part with certain i915 and i925 chipsets, touting its ability to let the desktop PC act as a Wi-Fi access point. In the end, the module was first delayed then dropped altogether, standalone access points and broadband gateway prices having fallen so far as to make the PC add-in unattractive. Whether Caswell 2 will be pitched as an access point or simply as a desktop WLAN client isn't clear at this stage. Intel is expected to promote Smithfield and Lakeport/Glenwood as a digital home platform, and wireless is likely to play a key role when it comes to touting the PC's entertainment credentials. ® Related stories Intel 'plans' December Grantsdale price cuts Intel lost 6.7% chipset market share in Q3 Intel 1066MHz FSB chipset slips out Intel puts back 90nm P4EE to Q1 '05 - report Intel said to have set 'Sonoma' launch at 17 Jan '05 Intel slashes Centrino prices Related review Intel 3.46GHz P4 Extreme Edn and i925XE chipset
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2004

ATI tapes out 90nm R5xx chip

ATI has completed its design for the upcoming R5xx series of graphics chips. The chips will be the company's first to support Shader Model 3.0, and may be the company's first 90nm parts. So claims a Goldman Sachs report cited by Beyond3D, issued after last week's analyst meeting at which ATI apparently confirmed the chip family will be released in H1 2005. The design has now taped out and been sent to ATI's fabrication partner, TSMC, for an initial production run using the fab's 90nm process, according to information received by Goldman Sachs separately. The tape-out has subsequently been confirmed by ATI sources cited by Xbit Labs. The ATI mole also confirmed the decision to use TSMC's 90nm process, though company CEO Dave Orton has publicly indicated that that was the chip maker's goal. The new core will be compatible with G-DDR 4, which ATI is said to expect to appear during the latter part of the year, and support memory clocks of up to 2.4GHz (doubled up from 1.2GHz). ATI was believed to be submitting the technology to JEDEC, the memory standards body, this quarter. The part is also likely to support HyperMemory, ATI's 're-invention' of a key element of the original AGP bus specification which allowed the graphics chip to use main memory as well as on-card video RAM. ® Related stories ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets Intel lost 6.7% chipset market share in Q3 ATI CEO confirms AMD PCI-E chipsets shipping ATI Q4 sales, income rocket ATI unveils mid-range Radeon X700 ATI HyperMemory revives little-used AGP 2x feature ATI syncs audio, video with Theater 550 chip ATI unwraps All-in-Wonder X800 XT
Tony Smith, 03 Nov 2004

eBay not an auction house says German court

A German civil court has ruled that commercial sellers on eBay are obliged to accept returned goods, even if the purchaser gives no reason for sending the item back. The decision was taken based on a piece of European legislation, The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations Directive, which was passed in 2000. This covers both goods and services, and applies where the contract is made without any face to face contact between supplier and consumer. The ruling means eBay transactions are classified along with other methods of distance selling, such as mail order catalogues, for example, rather than as auctions. In Germany, auctions are not covered by the directive. For guidelines on how the law works in the UK, go here. Judges at the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe said that exceptions should be rare. In an email quoted on on Bloomberg the court said: "The consumer who buys a product in an Internet auction is exposed to the same risks as in other forms of distant selling". Judges made the ruling after hearing a case brought by a jeweller who was not paid for a bracelet sold on eBay because the purchaser was unhappy with the product. Legal experts in Germany are concerned that the decision could have significant repercussions throughout Europe, saying that disputed sales could even end up in European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the EU's highest court. They also warn that the ruling could discourage sellers from setting low minimum prices, as they will need to cover the costs of potential returns. In the UK, eBay flags the directive on its policies page, warning sellers that their goods might be covered by the act. ® Related stories Phishing for dummies: hook, line and sinker German flogs Saddam's left leg on web For sale: Vulcan bomber, one belligerent owner
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2004

Relentless EMC eats up one more SMB storage player

With little fanfare, EMC has picked up another minor player in the SMB storage software market by pulling Allocity to its side. EMC sealed the deal for Allocity on Oct. 22 but made no public mention of the deal. Byte and Switch first broke word of the move, placing the acquisition cost at close to $10m. EMC has now confirmed the buy but won't say if the $10m figure is accurate. Allocity specializes in making storage software for customers running Microsoft Exchange on EMC's Clarrion hardware. Allocity's Live!Ex product plugs into Exchange System Manager (ESM) and handles tasks such as freeing up more storage space for users and backing up data. The idea is to let the software perform functions on its own without needing administrator attention. Last month, EMC picked up Dantz - another storage software maker aimed at SMBs - for $50m. These two recent buys have no doubt caught rivals' attention, as EMC looks to expand past its large business roots. It has been acquiring companies of all shapes and sizes for the past two years, but seems to be dead focused on the SMB market of late. This strategy makes particular sense given the success EMC has enjoyed by partnering with Dell on lower-end storage systems. ® Related stories IBM advances in storage arms race EDS allies with Cisco, Dell, EMC, MS and Sun Software gains plump EMC's Q3 EMC makes run for SMBs with Dantz buy
Ashlee Vance, 03 Nov 2004

Wells Fargo in ID theft flap (again)

The theft of four servers from a company that prints loan statement leaves thousands of consumers who have taken out loans or obtained mortgages from Wells Fargo at risk from potential identity fraud, AP reports. Computers nicked from the Atlanta offices of Regulus Integrated Solutions include personal details including names, addresses, and social security numbers of Wells Fargo customers. It seems likely the robbery was a straightforward theft but there's no good reason to take chances. Last week Wells Fargo wrote to customers whose data might have been compromised urging them to take extra precautions. It has offered these consumers a year's free subscription to its credit-monitoring service. Wells Fargo is doing the right thing in the aftermath of a crisis but really it ought to be taking better care of customer data in the first place. It's the third time in little more than a year that Wells Fargo has been obliged to issue advice following the theft of customer data, according to AP. Identity theft reports accounted for more than 200,000 complaints from consumers to the Federal Trade Commission last year, the biggest and fastest growing crime recorded by the agency. It's unclear how crooks seized hold of sensitive financial information but security breaches from Wells Fargo and other lapses in consumer security by database company Acxiom can only fuel the growing problem of ID theft. ® Related stories Police arrest ID thief in Wells Fargo case The Wells Fargo example 150+ cuffed in US-led cybercrime crackdown Online fraud, ID theft soars ID theft hits 10m Americans a year
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2004

Online payment firm in DDoS drama

Online payments processing firm Protx is continuing to fight a sustained internet attack which has severely impacting its services for the fourth successive day. Since Sunday (31 October), Protx's systems have been reduced to a crawl because of a malicious DDoS attack. Although Protx felt it was on top of the problem by Monday (1 November) the attack once again intensified, prompting the company to draft in heavy duty DDoS defences which it hopes will finally thwart the assault. In a statement, Mat Peck, chief technical officer, Protx said: "Earlier today [1 November] the parties responsible for the Distributed Denial of Service attack on our systems stepped up their assault, this time pushing our systems beyond their capacity to cope. A large number of compromised machines from a wide range of spoofed IP addresses have been attacking our site in a varied and well structured manner. We have been working all day with Globix, our ISP, to implement a specific DDoS solution which can burst up to 1Gb connectivity during periods of peak load whilst also analysing and killing traffic generated by zombie machine on the Net." "We have migrated the WWW site across to this system first to check the functionality and now that's working, we will be moving the payment servers in the next few hours. This new service, whilst expensive, still mainly developmental and bleeding edge, should enable us to continue to process transactions even under DDoS attacks ten times the size we've seen so far. Future attacks will be dealt with in a matter of minutes instead of hours (or days as many victims of such attacks have found). We're continuing to work closely with the National High Tech Crimes Unit (NHTCU) to bring the perpetrators to task," he added. On 2 November Globix said it was also beefing up the hardware used by its systems in the process of moving across to a new platform. "Whilst all the payment services are available, some of the auxiliary services will not be available until tomorrow," Peck wrote in an update. However Register readers report problems processing payments through the service today. "Thousands of small transactional websites, like mine, have been affected," Reg reader Bruce Stidston tells us. At the time of writing Protx's website was unavailable but you can get an insight into what's going on through Google's cache of the firm's status page. ® Related stories WorldPay struggles under DDoS attack (again) US credit card firm fights DDoS attack Feds bust DDoS 'Mafia' DDoSers attack DoubleClick Online extortionists target Cheltenham
John Leyden, 03 Nov 2004

AOL loses 2m US customers

AOL lost two million customers in the US over the last year. At the end of September AOL had 22.7m US users, a fall of 646,000 on the previous quarter and down two million a year ago. In Europe, AOL has 6.3m subscribers - down 8,000 compared to Q2, but up 33,000 compared to the same period last year. Publishing Q3 results today AOL reported that revenues rose one per cent - $26m (£14m) - to $2.1bn (£1.14bn) although gains in advertising revenue were offset by a $52m (£28m) decline in subscription revenues. The continued fall in subscriber numbers is likely to fuel speculation which surfaced this week that Time Warner's internet division is set to axe more jobs in a new round of blood letting. Separately, Time Warner Inc. - the monster media company behind America Online - said it has tucked away $500m (£271m) in legal reserves related to pending government investigations. The media giant also intends to restate its accounting for its interests in AOL Europe prior to 2002, the company said today. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are continuing to investigate past accounting and disclosure practices at AOL concerning advertising and the reporting of subscriber numbers. The creation of the legal fund is viewed by some to be a signal that the matter - which has dogged Time Warner in recent years - could be resolved soon. Said chairman and chief exec Dick Parsons: "While we're continuing to work to resolve the government investigations, we're staying focused on moving the company forward." ® Related stories AOL to slash 700 jobs - report AOL warns of falling revs as punters flee service SEC to nose round AOL TW report AOL reveals accounting for barter deals DoJ zeroes in on AOL accounting practices AOL to pay $3.5 million over accounting irregularities
Tim Richardson, 03 Nov 2004

Supernova revealed in gamma rays

An international team of astronomers has produced the first ever picture of a supernova using gamma rays. The picture provides evidence that supernovae are one source of cosmic rays, highly energetic particles that bombard the planet, passing through us in their thousands every day. Making an image using gamma radiation is very difficult because it is so penetrating - i.e. it passes through nearly everything. However, in this case astronomers have used Cherenkov radiation, flashes of blue light that last mere billionths of a second, to make the image. Cherenkov radiation is caused by a charged particle exceeding the speed of light in the medium through which it travels - in this case by gamma rays interacting with the atmosphere. That doesn't mean the absolute speed of light has been exceeded, just that the gamma rays are moving so fast that they are going faster then the speed of light in the atmosphere. Dr Paula Chadwick of the University of Durham said: "This picture really is a big step forward for gamma-ray astronomy and the supernova remnant is a fascinating object. If you had gamma-ray eyes and were in the Southern Hemisphere, you could see a large, brightly glowing ring in the sky every night." The picture was taken using the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.), an array of four telescopes, in Namibia, South-West Africa. The UK's involvement is funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, PPARC. PPARC's Professor Ian Halliday commented: "These results provide the first unequivocal proof that supernovae are capable of producing large quantities of galactic cosmic rays - something we have long suspected, but never been able to confirm." ® Related stories NASA re-schedules Swift launch X-ray fireworks could signal supernovae Smart telescopes probe galactic mysteries
Lucy Sherriff, 03 Nov 2004