12th > November > 2004 Archive

Dell booms in record Q3

Dell's third quarter earnings results proved duller than its products. The company produced record revenues yet again. Dell bagged $12.5bn worth of gross revenue in the period - an 18 percent rise over the same quarter a year ago. Dell's net income came in at $846m in the third quarter, beating out the $677m reported last year. Earnings per share were up as well to $0.33 from $0.26. Add to this $1.8bn in cash generated during the three months, and Dell is sitting pretty as usual. "Dell's disciplined focus on profitable growth around the world and across businesses continues to differentiate us in the market," said CEO Kevin Rollins. "We've been doing that for years." The Round Rock Express did well across the globe during the third quarter. Sales in the US were up 20 percent, sales in EMEA were up 27 percent and sales in Asia-Pacific were up 25 percent. The company enjoyed particular success with its notebooks shipments, which rose 35 percent year-over-year. Funny enough, Dell had an extensive deal on during the later part of the quarter that offered four different laptops for just $750. Shipments for all products surged 22 percent. Executives added that component costs - particularly low disk drive prices - helped it out in the third quarter. Dell is seeing less consumer and government spending this year but more dollars coming its way from large businesses. In the fourth quarter, Dell will release a new line of blade servers. Chairman Michael Dell said, during a conference call, that the systems will be about a third thinner than typical 1U servers and ship at a lower cost Dell expects fourth quarter shipments to rise close to 20 percent year-over-year and for revenue to come in at $13.5bn. Related stories Stressed-out Spaniards attack computers with hammers Dell gets meagre $240m package for North Carolina plant Major server vendors in giant, supercomputing cluster cluck Dell sued for alleged global sales patent abuse
Ashlee Vance, 12 Nov 2004

Intel dauphin Otellini becomes king

Intel's board has given the go ahead for the long anticipated shift in power from current CEO Craig Barrett to current President Paul Otellini Come May 18, Otellini will take over the chipmaker and become its fifth ever CEO. He'll be the first Intel chief not to have a background in engineering. Otellini arrives as a marketing expert instead. God help us all. Intel is really the place where boardroom intrigue goes to die. The company has a rigid succession plan and named Otellini as Barrett's likely replacement long ago. Barrett will become chairman, and current chairman Andy Grove will leave Intel's board and become a senior advisor. New rules at Intel will force Otellini, 54, to vacate the CEO post when he hits the big 60. A handful of vice presidents are already being groomed to fill this inevitable void. Where other great companies often have grand battles for the top spot, hiring outsiders or making insiders fight each other to the death, Intel just plods along. Otellini - Italian for baby otter - started at Intel back in 1974 and will be leading the company during a new, even more conservative phase. A series of product delays, cancellations and total fiascos (hello, Itanic) have caused the firm to tighten manufacturing policies and be more conservative about future product predictions. ® Related stories Laptops, servers buoy Intel's results Intel plans for digital planet Intel chief touts mobile 3D chip, ignores next-gen XScale Who sank Itanic?
Ashlee Vance, 12 Nov 2004

The case of the incredible, disappearing website

An online art news site, operated by a poacher-turned-gamekeeper in the illicit art trade, has been disappeared from the web, following a court injunction issued by a state court in Ohio. James E Ferrell, founder of propane distributors FerrellGas, and Bruce Ferrini, an art dealer, sought an injunction against Michel van Rijn after he breached the terms of a gagging order. In 2002, van Rijn undertook not to mention Ferrell, his companies, or his associates at the Cleveland Museum of Art, including Katharine Lee Reid, director, and Michael Bennett, curator. In 2003, however, van Rijn ran a story on his site in which he linked to a piece on the NYTimes.com website. Although he did not explicitly mention Ferrell, Reid or Bennett, the story on NYTimes.com did. In February 2003, the lawyers descended, and van Rijn was ordered to remove the story. He complied, but continued to argue that he should be allowed to publish because the only reference to Ferrell, Reid or Bennett was through the link to the NYTimes website. The legal battle went on for 17 months. It should be noted, that the US courts would not have had jurisdiction over van Rijn's site, but for the gagging order he signed. He hosts it on servers in his London home, and the Dutch ISP XS4All provides the co-location service. But, on 4 October 2004, in a fit of pique, van Rijn published all his background research on the story. In so doing, he unquestionably breached his gagging order. His lawyer quit the case the same day. The court allowed him some time to find new counsel, but by 25 October the fight was over. The US District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, issued an injunction ordering that van Rijn remove the story, and all references to Ferrell, Reid and Bennett within 12 hours. Defeated, van Rijn says he then complied with the injunction. Ferrell's lawyers dispute this, see update at bottom of page. This should have been the end of it, but Network Solutions was instructed to remove the site from the DNS register. The domain www.michelvanrijn is currently on registrar lock, and cannot be accessed. Van Rijn has written to the court and to Network Solutions with an undertaking not to re-publish the material. At the time of writing, he has had no response from the Court; and Network Solutions says that its hands are tied until the plaintiff's lawyers instruct them that the site can be reconnected. Mark Weston, head of the IP/IT/Ecommerce Group at law firm Matthew Arnold & Baldwin, explains that NSI reserves the right to protect itself when it acts as a registry of domain names, and that the terms of the court order would probably have them worried. "The court order binds everyone involved in publishing the website," he says, "including NSI. But the injunction is limited in scope." It states: This Court GRANTS Third-Party Plaintiff’s request for an injunction completely barring Mr. van Rijn from publishing his website at its current location, or at any subsequent web address to which he attempts to move, until he removes all references, articles, and links relating to those individuals about whom he is prohibited from referencing. Weston continues: "The important part here is that Michel van Rijn is prohibited from publishing until he removes the offending material. If he has removed it, and given an undertaking that he will not re-publish it, then there is no reason for Network Solutions to continue blocking his site. At the moment, he can't even use it to publish family photographs." Network Solutions told us that it couldn't comment on specific accounts, but issued a statement of its policy: "When Network Solutions receives legal orders to turn down and/or lock the domain we must comply. We cannot turn a site back up and/or unlock it until one of two things happens (as noted in our service agreement): 1) Network Solutions is directed to do so by the judicial or administrative body 2) Network Solutions receives notification by the registrant and the other party contesting the registration and use of our domain name registration services that the dispute has been settled". Mark Weston argues that it may be a breach of van Rijn's rights for the site to continue be blocked in this way, regardless of any gagging orders he might have signed. "If he [van Rijn] can prove he has taken this material down, then they have gone way too far," he concludes. Van Rijn has registered a new domain and his art news site is back on the web at www.michelvanrijn.nl. At the time of writing, neither Ferrell nor his lawyers had replied to our emails requesting comment. ® Update Lawyers acting for Mr. Ferrell contacted The Register following publication of this article. They had this to say: Mr. van Rijn has not removed from his website all of the prohibited content as required by the Court's October 29, 2004 contempt/injunction order, and the injunction therefore remains in place. Mr. van Rijn's non-compliance is detailed in a pleading which we filed with the Court yesterday. Network Solutions, LLC has stated that it will not reinstate the van Rijn .com site "until such time as we receive an order or other communication from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio certifying that [Mr. van Rijn has] complied with its various orders." Reinstatement, therefore, awaits only Mr. van Rijn's demonstration to the court that he has fully complied with the October 29, 2004 order. The case continues. Related stories How to kill a website with one email German fined for publishing neo-Nazi web links BAA accused in net 'dirty tricks' campaign
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Nov 2004

Nice article, a*sholes...oh, wait...

FoTWFoTW FoTW has now become completely automated. They flame us about stuff they think we might write, but haven't... Mr. Greene, You always have time for an anti-Bush article, no matter how unrelated to technology! So when an actual murderer and international terrorist dies, you can't come up with a single thing to say? I can't understand the Register not slamming Arafat.... oh wait, I forgot he was a darling of the Left. That wouldn't do, would it? He's OUR terrorist, not like that nassssty Bush. OH! I see. There's no time for terrorists, when we have .... Gonzales!! Oh good, a new whipping boy. This is so disgustingly predictable. Mark Ritchie Blimey. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Nov 2004

The great blue vs. red state debate

LettersLetters Right - it's Friday, and we promised you a dissection and statistical analysis of your responses to the flame-bait that was the New Democrat Outreach Program's Reach out and Sneer piece. We had a big mailbag, almost half as big as that for our Haiku competition, earlier this year. But no more, thanks: this correspondence is now closed. We've broken the replies down as follows: A: Those who spotted that the article was satire, even if the intent was serious (well done): Eight in total, three blue, one red and four of no discernable colour. B: Those who did not: Everyone else, 68 blue, 54 red, 12 neutrals, and 14 apparently insane people. We've split the non-satire-spotting-reds into further sub categories, because although there weren't as many as non-satire-spotting blues, they were much more varied. Blue writers were almost unanimous in their gratitude that "someone finally said it". Red writers, on the other hand, were either straightforward (15), weird (10) or violently abusive (29). Now, we'll not pour too much scorn on you for missing the satire, because, well, this was a closely contested election, and lots of people were saying things just as inflammatory and meaning them. See how nice we are? Incidentally, two people spotted that the piece was unlikely to have been written by an American. The references to 'Primary and secondary schools', instead of elementary, middle and high school, and the British habit of arranging dates in a day/month/year order gave us away, apparently. Blame the sub-editor, not the Brits. Let's get right to the good ones. We've tried to give you a balanced impression of the postbag, but we'll leave it to you guess which category any of them falls into: Nice rant. I was one of the people who voted for Bush. Am I happy about it? Hell no. I think he is a complete moron who isn't qualified to run around the block, much less run a country. So why would I vote for him? Because the Democrats, in all there glorified wisdom, couldn't come up with any choice better than a flip flopping wanker from Massachusetts and his wonder boy sidekick, the personal injury lawyer (who we all know are pillars of virtue). I have been looking forward to voting Dubya out of office since the day he was elected and instead I get a chance to choose between the lesser of two evils. And as is usually the case, people stick with the devil they know. Now all I hear is the touting of our beloved Hillary (yes, I am from New York, unlike her) as your candidate for 2008. I guess you have decided to use the Republican strategy and go for name recognition, instead of actual qualifications. Plain and simple, find a viable candidate and I will gladly vote for him/her. I do agree on one point, we do need a revolution. We need to limit the power of both the Democrats and the Republicans, and create several more political parties. After all, having only two (viable, Nader doesn't count) candidates to choose from is only one candidate away from a dictatorship. Chris "This is not a good man. Not a good man." Mrs. Cheney I hope W outlaws freedom of speech to shut smart asses like you up, praise the Lord. Or at least close the internets that come from Yurup! Sinseerly, Bernd J Ustorf Dear Sir or Madam I read your article in the Register and found it tasteless and insulting on a dozen levels. I am a registered Democrat who did not and does not support the Bush Regime, yet I am living in a 'Red' state. For what it's worth, I haven't spoken to more than three people nationwide who claimed to have voted for Bush. I am a reporter and I covered the elections. I have seen the electronic voting machines and frankly, if our government fixed the election, the average human being wouldn't know the difference. It wouldn't even be difficult for someone with a little computer know-how. Your article doesn't only slam the mindless support of the Republican voters. It slams people for their choices in religion (no one in my fundamentalist, tongues-speaking church supported Bush), and for their jobs. As you rightly pointed out, you (the Blue states) make your living off the backs of those workers. Are you willing to give up the waitress who serves you coffee and croissants? Are you willing to throw away the truck drivers who keep our economy moving, insuring steady supplies of the items our consumerism economy requires to remain solvent? Funny how your support of freedoms don't extend to those areas any longer. You give lip service to freedom but don't really support it. You choose instead to display a bourgeois disregard for the people you claim to want to help. Gee, sounds to me a lot like the Bush regime. I planned to move to a Blue state, and hoped to make a better life for myself. But God help me if I acquire the venom and atrocious judgment you displayed in this article. While you drive home some good points, they are overshadowed by the bigotry. You don't want to help, you want to present a facade of help while continuing the corruption of your own overblown ego. I am sending a copy of this email to the Register, though doubtless they will dismiss it, as I'm sure you will. I plan also to forward this to other outlets, however. Maybe there are a few Blues who still maintain enough humanity to recall a few words of our founding fathers' original documents. The words "and justice for ALL" spring to Regards, LeiLani Dawn Not everyone in the Red States voted to put Bush in the White House. I know several people in Red States that voted for Kerry and whose vote was not enough. It would be better to condemn the Bush supporters not all the people living in these red states. Rick You may have beautiful bodies and clever minds, but you will still get old and die. And then what? AND THEN WHAT??? John Wow, I don't know whether to laugh or feel really sorry for you if you honestly believe all that garbage! It's amazing what nonsense some people will listen to.. Yikes, I fear for a future full of people like YOU! God Bless!! ;) Megan Y'all sure do tell a funny story. Shore 'nuff. Laft so hard, Ah tho't Ah'd wet mah britches. Couldn't quit follow whut you was tryin' to git at, but y'all shore stuck it to those commie bastuhds. Fuckin' Reds. Ain't none of those boys settin' one foot on my farm without gittin' some lead in his ass, Ah'll tell yuh that. "Jerking off a bull." Now, that ain't easy, Ah'm tellin' yuh. Hell, boy, don't let that damn 'lection git you down. It ain't nuthin' but a thang. Ole Georgie ain't gonna do nuthin' whut God don't tell him to do, and if y'all'd ever gone to Sunday school, y'all'd know God is good and merciful. Hallelujah. Chaz We largely understand that it is necessary for you blues to console yourselves with a feel-good superiority piece. It's ok. We forgive you. The fact is, we already know how superior you feel to us. It's why we don't vote for your guy. There is no reason for you to be sore loosers. I would suggest that you use your superior intellect to constructively examine the reasons for your loss from the perspective of someone outside your party. It might not feel quite as good, but it might actually accomplish something. For example, when you talk about reds being held in bondage by multinationals, you might think of the recent stumbling block in California. The Governor had to force the democrats via bad publicity to buck the special interests for the greater interest of the state. You might then think, "Well, this is really just a part of government that is the same for both sides. Perhaps that comment is really unfounded". Try this logic out on other of your comments, I think you might find it eye-opening. When you talk about deficit spending, you might realize that we are in a war... the focus of which is to eliminate the ability of terrorists to knock down your pretty buildings. You see, the financial strength of this country really depends more on peoples perceptions of the strength and resilience of the United States than anything else. A little deficit spending now can prevent an economic collapse later. Only two or three more 9-11s targeted at Silicon Valley, Wall Street, downtown Chicago, etc. would be enough to scare away the perception of strength, and we don't want that for you. We want the perception to remain strong so that the economy can continue to grow, so the deficit can be made up, and so you can continue your happy puffy lifestyle. When you denegrate the soldiers that fight for you, perhaps you should stop to think where you would be if we werent here. You would actually have to defend yourselves. Oh, and I don't know any volunteer soldiers with manicures and bath beads, so you most definately would need a draft. Finally, all other blather needing no comment, I will tell you something you really need to know. More than the red states are under hypnotic control of the superior bushite overlords of the north, the blue states are the unwitting puppets of central Europe. They have you convinced that the term "Rest of the World" refers to the two countries France and Germany. They have you feeling certain that "Saddam was not so Bad" without letting slip that the reason for this belief is that Saddam was rewarding them handsomely for their support. They have you believing, in unison with most of this country's worst enemies, that "Kerry would be a better president" because they know what would make the United States weaker to their influence. You are even speaking of secession as if French capitulation was an American trait. It's not too late. If you try honestly to think logically, individually, and from several perspectives* about the things that seem most important and agreeable to you, you might begin to see the fallacies of your central European ideologies. Despite your best efforts to the contrary, the red states keep you safe and grounded in reality. You're welcome. -John R. Dallas, Texas * "Several perspectives" includes examination of the idea, "What if I am not right?". Best thing I've read all year! Mindblowing! How can I help? Chris Thank you for your article. It put into words the overwhelming anger we Blues feel as we try to continue living in the Red states. I was so hoping for a better tomorrow. Not just for me, but for all people who suffer daily as Americans trying to eke out a better life. Georgia To whom ever is on the recieving end of this note, I'm in a red state and voted for Kerry. You are very fortunate to live elsewhere. Aside from the bad words I'm in strong agreement with you. Ralph You're pathetic. Michael Fuck YOU! Wayne Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Funny stuff, really. Untrue, but funny. Nice try, actually, but not based on reality. Come pay a visit, we have it pretty good out in in the Red zone. Incididentally, you're a coward. Mike From the 59 Million Americans that voted for President Bush - and just in case you didn't hear us, or get the message - We said on Tuesday November 2nd - Very loudly and Very clearly; "SHUT THE FU*K UP! Go Fuck Yourself. You and your kind had your shot and you lost. I don't go to church, I don't shop at Walmart and I don't need some frustrated asshole trying to tell me what to do. Samuel damn, my dad was is a mexican and a "wetback" since he quite literally swam accross back in 1968-69: so, fuck you mother fuckers! ... otherwise great fucken prod, I especially liked the turning of the white trash into the proverbial mexican laborer, then in calling them wetbacks at the end. Not sure if I should be offended, but just in case I should, Fuck YOU you spineless racist, bigotted pieces of shit. Dumb fucks like you probably voted for prop 200 here in arizona with your misguided ideas about migrants... no one escapes taxes except rich people and even then its hard... ok barely, oh also the bums escape paying taxes but hey if you don't have an address how can they get you.... sincerely, someone who isn't going to give you their email address for you to insert into some damn list in order to spam me later as I would if I knew your real email address. /ps don't give a damn about my spelling so fuck you you spelling nazi's! Mercedes How unfair! I'll have you know, you self-rightous prig, that I have indeed had a chance or two to get some seriously good Mexican bud. Oh, the nerve of you to press your prejudiced notions onto others. Check your facts, pal! El pollo de la muerte Slow week for letters? Trolling for FoTW? Good luck, and a pint of the stale pale ale to you! Cheers, John Ahh, rumbled. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 12 Nov 2004

Fast24 completes MBO

Suffolk-based ISP Fast24 Ltd has split from its parent company following a management buy-out. Financial details concerning the MBO were not disclosed. The broadband ISP with dial-up and web host punters was launched by Lark Computers in 2000. It later separated from its parent after turnover outgrew Lark. Since then, the ISP has increased growth and profit year-on-year, according to a statement from the ISP. Said new MD Jason Elsom, said: "Since its launch, Fast24 has seen impressive and consistent growth in customer numbers, whilst remaining profitable in an industry marred with the failure of an array of suppliers and ISPs. "Our business has been on hold for the last six months, due to the sale negotiations, however I now intend to waste no time in building upon Fast24s' foundations with a review of its product range, additional network investment and an injection of resource into its customer services operations." ® Related stories NTL completes Virgin.net buyout The Great ISP Buyout Kingston Comms buys Eclipse Internet
Tim Richardson, 12 Nov 2004
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Micron employees fixed DRAM prices

Micron has effectively admitted that it has in the past engaged in schemes to control the price of memory chips. However, it also said it was co-operating with the US Department of Justice price-fixing probe into the DRAM industry - co-operation that it believes with not leave it open to "prosecution, fines or other penalties". In a statement, Micron CEO Steve Appleton said: "The DOJ's investigation revealed evidence of price fixing by Micron employees and its competitors on DRAM sold to certain computer and server manufacturers. "Nevertheless, if Micron fully complies with the [DoJ's] Corporate Leniency Policy, Micron will not be subject to criminal sanctions or fines, notwithstanding Micron's involvement in the misconduct." Working with the Feds on this one is clearly to Micron's benefit. Last August, Infineon was fined $160m by the DoJ - one of the organisation's stiffest fines - after it pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges arising from the same investigation of which Micron is a part. That investigation has gone on since 2002 at least. In June that year, Micron was subpoenaed for information relating to the enquiry. Later that month, the DoJ sent a similar court-mandated demand for data to Samsung. The DoJ is known to be taking a look at all the world's major memory makers. Despite the actions of the past, Micron now "deplores any effort to fix or stabilize prices and is committed to rectifying past behaviour and ensuring any misconduct will not recur", Appleton pledged. How? By implementing " global programs to ensure our employees understand how to interact appropriately with competitors, suppliers and customers". ® Related stories Infineon pleads guilty to memory price-fixing DoJ lassos Samsung in memory probe DoJ gets up Micron's nose
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2004

Chinese Government nets 'Internet Villain' gong

The Chinese Government has romped home to scoop Future Publishing's first ever "Internet Villain" award for its hard line against the online world. With its crackdown on online porn, political censorship and its decision to close thousands of internet cafes, authorities in China have managed to beat some of the net's nastiest people to win the award. Conversely, Future's readers voted the political lobbying website "FaxYourMP.com" as "internet hero" by given people the chance to contact their political representatives for nowt. Announcing the awards yesterday in London, Stuart Anderton, publisher of .net magazine said: "While the Chinese government has distanced itself from its population by suppressing the free flow of information and closing down cybercafes, a plucky group of Brits has helped the UK population get closer to its Government with FaxYourMP.com. Governments can either embrace or attack the internet - either way, it's not going to go away. "The people who have voted in our awards don't just use the internet, they're the people who create and shape the UK's online experience, so their opinions are massively important to other users and companies who make their money from the internet." Other winners at yesterday's awards - supported by Future's stable of titles such as .net, Internet Works and Internet & Broadband Advisor, included UKFast for best businesses ISP and PlusNet for top consumer ISP. Internet telephony outfit Skype won the best use of internet in business, while Apple's iTunes scooped web innovation of the year. The full list of winners is here. ® Related stories China shuts 1,600 cybercafes 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
Tim Richardson, 12 Nov 2004

Defendant: Microsoft source code sale was a setup

A 27-year-old Connecticut man facing felony economic espionage charges for allegedly selling a copy of Microsoft's leaked source code for $20 says he's being singled out only because the software giant and law enforcement officials can't find the people who stole the code in the first place. "They're using me as an example, to show if you do something like this, they're going to [work] you over," said William Genovese, in a telephone interview Thursday. "Why go after me? Why not go after the guy who took the code? Why not go after the guy who released it on the net?" In February, two 200 megabyte files containing incomplete portions of the source code for the Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems appeared on websites and peer-to-peer networks around the world. Evidence in the files pointed to Microsoft partner Mainsoft, a developer of Unix tools for Windows, as the original source, but how the files were leaked, and by whom, remains a mystery. What distinguishes Genovese from perhaps thousands of other curious computer geeks who shared the proprietary source code at the time is a short message he posted to his website, illmob.org - a hacker destination from which he distributes open source intrusion tools written under his handle, "illwill." "Everyone was throwing up Bit Torrent links and downloading it on IRC," says Genovese. "I wrote on my website, joking, I have it, and if anybody wants it they can donate to my site." Genovese claims he meant it as a joke, and he was surprised when someone actually responded a few days later and asked how much he should donate. "I was laughing, because I thought it was somebody stupid who wanted it and didn't know how to download it," he says. The stranger gave Genovese $20 through the PayPal donation button on his website, and Genovese let him download a copy of the source code from his server. In July, the same man contacted Genovese again. "He emailed me again and said he had formatted his computer and basically he wanted to download the source again," says Genovese. "I didn't have it any more, and he said if you can find it I'll send you more money just for the hassle." Genovese says he found the files easily on a peer-to-peer network, and again provided them to the donor. He isn't laughing any more. According to court records, the mysterious donor was actually an investigator with an unnamed online security firm that Microsoft had hired to track people sharing the source code online. After the first "sale" was complete, Microsoft reported Genovese to the FBI. The Bureau took the case seriously, and the Microsoft investigator arranged the second transaction at the FBI's request. 'Economic Espionage' Armed with a federal criminal complaint out of Manhattan, FBI agents converged on Genovese's Connecticut home early Tuesday morning, searched his condo and arrested him. Now free on a $50,000 signature bond, Genovese stands accused of violating the 1996 Economic Espionage Act. Passed to meet the perceived threat of foreign espionage against American companies, the Economic Espionage Act carries up to ten years in prison for stealing trade secrets for personal financial gain, or for a third party's economic benefit. For the first five years of its existence the law could only be used with approval from the Justice Department in Washington -- a limitation that was lifted in March, 2002. The $20 payment is what opened the door for prosecutors to invoke the rarely-used law, says attorney Jennifer Granick, executive director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. "The statute requires you to act for the economic benefit of someone other than the trade secret owner," she says. "The real question is whether this information remains a trade secret after it is globally available to anyone with an Internet connection," says Granick. "This is something that the courts have been grappling with, so it's pretty shocking that the government would pursue criminal charges for something that the civil courts can't even agree on." Government offices were closed Thursday for Veteran's Day. Microsoft declined to comment for this story. Although the complaint describes him as a "vendor" of stolen source code, Genovese says the only person who took his website post seriously was Microsoft's undercover agent. He claims that the same person later purchased another widely-traded underground file, the Paris Hilton video, for a $15 payment, though the transaction escaped mention in the complaint. If convicted, under federal sentencing guidelines Genovese's sentence would be based on the value of the source code, if any, and his criminal history: Genovese has a conviction for intruding into private user's computers in 2000 and spying on their keystrokes, for which he was sentenced to two years of probation. "It happened right after I got my computer," he says. "I started using Trojan horses and stuff like that, and I ended up getting in trouble." Copyright © 2004, Related Stories MS source code fence busted Source code loss excluded from insurance, says court Sun deputizes Versora for Microsoft attack
Kevin Poulsen, 12 Nov 2004

BOFH: The hostage's guide to lift imprisonment

Episode 39Episode 39 >BIMM< . . . >BIMM< . . . >ERRRRrrr< "Bugger," the bloke next to me sighs as the lift stops suddenly. "MMmmm," I say disinterestedly, unfolding my newspaper. . . . "Do you know when the lift will start again?" he asks. "Sometime after people realise that the lifts are taking a while to turn up." "Can we raise the alarm?" "Go for your life," I say, gesturing at the ALARM button. He presses it several times, to no apparent avail. "Should we hear anything?" he asks. "The alarm bell rings outside the lift on the ground floor," I say. "You won't hear it." "Should I call someone?" "Knock yourself out!" I say, moving away from the phone plate. He presses the call button and we wait while an autodial sounds. "At the tone, it will be 11:15 and ten seconds >beeep<" the voice echoes around the lift. "Ah, the dulcet tones of the speaking clock!" I sigh. "Nice touch." "W..." "At the tone, it will be 11:15 and >BASH!<" "The autodialler seems to have been reprogrammed to call the speaking clock - instead of the 24 hour contact number," I say, putting the remains of the call plate onto the floor of the lift. "My cellphone!" he cries reaching into his pocket. "Who should I call?" "Five quid says there's no signal." "uuuuhm.. no. So we're stuck here!!!" he gasps. "Not entirely." "No?" "No. See this pinhole here? That's the security camera." "So security will see us?" "Only if internet porn goes out of fashion. No, I am prepared to wager my five pound winnings on my assistant watching us very carefully from his desk." "Who's your assistant?" "You don't work here then?" "No, I'm just here for the IT Systems audit." "Oooof course you are. That's just great!" I sigh. "So you won't know my assistant. Yet." "Should we try and tell him we're stuck?" "Oh I'm sure he knows that. No, the way to proceed now is to cover up >plug< the camera pinhole." "Why?" "So he can't see us." "Why?" "So he'll wonder what we're up to." "Why?" "So he'll think about coming to investigate." "And get us out?" "Unlikely." "So why do you want him to come and investigate?" "So we can overpower him, possibly change places with him." "You don't appear to have a very good relationship with your assistant." "I wouldn't say that. In a Machiavellian industry like ours it's good to have someone who appreciates the value of being a team player - on your team" "But?" "With Machiavellian thinking there would need to be a compelling advantage in being on my team." "And there isn't?" "Well, there might be a grand in cash on the premises somewhere that a one-off lift repairman might lay his hands on when I got to it..." >CLICK< >WHIRRRR< With a lurch, the lift starts creeping up the shaft slowly. "So you're going to pay him a grand to let us out of the lift?!" "No, I just wanted to know if there was a microphone in the lift as well as the camera." >SCREECH!< "AHAH!" I blurt, finding a radio mike glued behind the handrail. >STOMP< "Can't you... bargain with him?" "Now I've broken the camera and mike - no. But I wouldn't have done it anyway - it sets a bad precedent." "So we're stuck here?" "Yep." "What are we going to do?" "The lessons of the past suggest the best survival technique is to conserve body fluids ...for.... reuse." "You've been trapped in a lift before!!!?" "No, but there's a pinhole camera, remember?" "You watched them?!" he gasps, horrified. "Watched them!? We made movies! It's rather difficult to make a credible case for the cost benefits of IT staff reduction when everyone in the workplace has seen you crap in your briefcase.." "I.. It's not going to get to that is it?!" "It could well doo-doo - so to speak." "You don't see to be taking this very seriously!" "Well lets face it, it's done now, isn't it? Besides, unbeknown to my assistant and in a stroke of pure luck, I'd purchased a four-pack of drinking water on the way to work this morning." . . . "Uh, you wouldn't consider selling me one would you?" "Of course. A hundred quid!" "What, I'm not paying 100 quid for a bottle of water!" "Suit yourself." . . . . . . . . . "How big's the bottle?" "325mls." "100 quid for 325mls of water! That's extortion!" "I think you'll find it's 200 quid!" "What?! It was 100 a minute ago!" "And it's 300 now." "Ok, I'll take a bottle!" he gasps, realising the shocking rate of lift-based inflation. "Money first, drink later!" "I.. I don't have that sort of cash on me!" "Ah, well then," I say, cracking open a bottle and drinking its contents. "I've got >scrabble< Twe.. Ten quid!" "For 10 quid all you'll get is a bottle of... my... urine." "WHAT!?!" "I said for 15 quid, all you'll get is a bottle of my urine." Rock. Hard place. Lift Inflation. Potential Weekend wait.... "I.. I'll take it!" "It's now 20 quid." "I'll take it!" he gasps. "I'd like you to ask nicely.." "Please sell me a bottle of your urine for 20 quid!" >CLICK< >WHIRR< "Oh thank goodness!" he gasps, happy the transaction didn't have to be made after all. "So in your report say IT spending is appallingly low and overly hampered by middle management." "Why would I say that?" he snaps. "If you think dropping a grogan in your briefcase is career limiting, what do you think propositioning a stranger for his bodily waste will do for you?" "SAY CHEESE," the PFY says from the speaker grille beside the second pinhole... ® BOFH 2004: The whole shooting match BOFH 2003: Year Book BOFH 2002: A Reader's Digest 2001: A BOFH Odyssey BOFH 2K: The kit and caboodle BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99
Simon Travaglia, 12 Nov 2004
homeless man with sign

Dell 'to add' AMD CPUs to product line - CEO

Getting a little chilly down there, Satan? Yes, infernal ice-skating may soon become possible, following Dell CEO Kevin Rollins' admission that the computer giant is close to signing up AMD as a processor supplier. Speaking in an Infoworld interview, Rollins said: "My guess is we're going to want to add that [AMD] product line in the future." How come? "They've been getting better and better. The technology is better. In some areas they're now in the lead on Intel. That is what is interesting us more than anything," offered Rollins. "They are more viable of a company than they once were," he added. It's the server market, he has his eye on, with the Opteron line grabbing his attention. Certainly, that's where Rollins feels AMD has the technology advantage over Intel, he suggests in the interview. But his comments suggest an interest in the desktop space too, with only AMD's own limitations as a manufacturer preventing such a move. "They don't have enough [fab] capacity for us to use them on the desktop," he said. "For us, fundamentally, AMD is much more interesting in the server, workstation or gaming arenas." Of course, we've been here before, so many times. Dell, the only major computer manufacturer not currently sourcing CPUs from AMD, has hinted at a shift from its Intel-only policy on a number of occasions, largely as a bargaining tool with Intel. Rollins' statements this week may be just such a move, but they're certainly the closest the company has come to saying it does intend to use AMD product. Rollins is smart enough not to provide a timetable - "in the future" is about as open as it gets. So there's plenty of room for Intel to make the manufacturer a better offer. And it's not like turning its back on AMD has cost Dell sales. "We have not been losing a ton of business because we haven't had AMD," said Rollins. But is that starting to happen? Certainly its main rivals, the likes of HP, Sun and IBM, have been stoking the fire for Opteron, and Dell may well feel the time has come to follow suit. ® Related stories Itanium sales fall $13.4bn shy of $14bn forecast AMD Opteron noses into Euro x86 server sales AMD grabs Intel market share in desktop arena AMD 'penetrates' Dell - again
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2004

Belgians moot computer licensing

Two Belgian politicians are pushing for a system of compulsory computer licenses to be introduced in Belgium, expat website Expatica reports. Socialist Valerie Deom and State Minister Philippe Monfils of the centre right Mouvement Reformateur party believe that by introducing computer licenses they can combat illegal copying of files. The idea is to make computer licenses obligatory in much the same way as TV licenses are to ensure that creators of works that can be transmitted digitally (such as music, photographs and movies) do not lose out on royalty payments. Although details haven't been worked out, the license would be similar to a levy on blank CDs to compensate recording artists, composers and producers for royalties lost to piracy. The Belgian parliament's economic affairs committee was set to discuss the new copyright plans this week, but the meeting was postponed when not enough committee members turned up. Lack of interest is not the only problem the two politicians face. Industry federations in Belgium strongly oppose licensing. Agoria, the federation of the new technology industries, believes licenses contradict efforts to simplify administration and e-government. ® Related stories EC begins IP enforcement campaign Stealing movies: Why the MPAA can afford to relax Pirated U2 album leaked online
Jan Libbenga, 12 Nov 2004

Q: What does risk mean to you?

All businesses face risk of some sort. Traditionally, the risks facing organisations have tended to range from incidents such as a fire in a building or production line, or environmental factors, such as damage sustained by flooding or storms. In past years, such physical risks made up nearly 100 per cent of the major risks faced by business. Today, some feel that the risk of environmental or natural disaster is still important, but they now account for around 70 per cent of the risk faced by business. The remaining 30 per cent comes from non-manmade sources and much of this is accounted for by the changing nature of business. One area in which business is changing is that it is becoming increasingly global, with companies looking to outsource non-core aspects of their business in order to gain access to lower cost resources. This places many in unfamiliar business surroundings with new risks, including those of government corruption, security and employee safety. Not only are businesses facing risks from new sources, but new legal and industry-specific regulations are raising the bar on dealing with risk. These include legal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, which places the onus on senior executives to personally vouch for the quality of the business information that it publishes and which looks set to be replicated across Europe, and industry regulations such as the food safety laws that come into effect in Europe in January 2005, which require greater disclosure of the provenance of all materials used in the production of food items right throughout the supply chain. Coming soon, the Basel II capital adequacy accord will force greater disclosure of the risk profiles of banks and other financial institutions. However, recent surveys show that perceptions of risk vary widely within organisations and what executives care most about in terms of the risks that they face varies widely according to their area of expertise. A survey undertaken by MORI, on behalf of the UK Confederation of British Industries, asked chairmen, CEOs and other senior executives of UK companies about the greatest risks that their businesses face. The results are interesting, but in marked contrast to those released in 2004 by FM Global, a leading insurance and risk management organisation. The respondents to this survey were drawn from the ranks of CFOs and treasurers, risk management professionals, and investment professionals. In the CBI survey, 57 per cent of chairmen and CEOs indicate that they are particularly worried about IT and computer network security - but this is in direct contrast to the FM Global survey, where just 11 per cent of risk managers, eight per cent of CFOs and treasurers and three per cent of investment professionals in Europe see risks to IT and telecommunications systems as being severe hazards facing their companies. There are differences among the professionals interviewed by FM Global for its 2004 survey - 72 per cent of CFOs, treasurers and risk managers see property-related threats as the most important threats facing their organisations, compared to just 19 per cent of European investment professionals. Another marked contrast is that very few of the respondents to the FM Global survey view newer threats, such as sabotage or terrorism, as serious risks to their organisations. In contrast, one third of CEOs and chairmen responding to the CBI survey view terrorist action as the type of security threat causing the most worry, and one fifth cite environmental terrorism. Among these respondents, more mentioned the actions of animal rights activists as being a threat than the danger of fire or flood, especially among larger companies. The greatest difference can be seen in how investment professionals assess the risks facing business. Whereas CFOs, treasurers and risk management professionals are more focused on property-related risks, 81 per cent of investment professionals point to non-property-related risks as being the most important. Within this category, pricing fluctuations were seen as important risks by 46 per cent of European investment professionals and government and regulatory requirements by 17 per cent. For risk managers, these were seen as important by just nine per cent and one per cent respectively. But the one area in which respondents to both surveys appear to agree is that companies need to spend more on security than they did previously and that security is of such importance that it needs to be put under the supervision of the board of directors. However, many admit that there is still some way to go and the surveys show that doubts remain about the workability of security plans in practice as well as the ability to keep pace with newly emerging threats. Taken together, these two surveys show that companies are thinking more seriously about security than they did previously, but gaps remain. In addition, some company officers appear to have their heads in the sand with regard to new risks that they face in their operations, including their ability to comply with new regulations. Industry observers such as investment professionals and analysts appear to be more tuned in as to the risks that these regulations pose to businesses. It is time for businesses to wake up now to the threats such regulations pose to their operations - before the first legal cases are tried. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories Counting the cost of security training Business frets over wireless security Symantec drives security deep into enterprise
Fran Howarth, 12 Nov 2004

Microsoft's Google-killer arrives with a 'whuh?'

Google's executives might be sleeping a little easier this weekend after Microsoft unveiled its much-hyped new search engine. It's fast, slick, and comes with a raft of interesting new features: confounding some expectations as surely as it confirms others. In short, Microsoft has produced a search engine that's better in almost every way than Google, except for one: its search results are terrible. But let's start with the good stuff. Incredibly, MSN Beta Search trumps Google for speed: it's an order of magnitude faster. Anyone who doubted that Microsoft could deliver a large scale distributed cluster, and that's probably most of you, will be surprised at the nippy performance (although the true test comes when the system has to scale under heavy loads, of course). Microsoft has also made building complicated queries much more attractive than its rivals. Click on the "Search Builder" option and you get five additional fields which you can add, one at a time, the fifth being three gauges for altering the search term's topicality, popularity, and semantic accuracy. This puts all its rivals to shame, and makes Google's Advanced Search page look about as appealing as an Assembly Language manual. Microsoft's new engine also has a rough caching service modeled on Google's cache, but without the keywords highlighted in colors: one of Google's most subtle and indelibly useful UI features. Microsoft has also been busy in other departments. It attempts to produce a natural language answer to something it thinks is a particular kind of question. What's the capital of England? Gives the answer: London, for example. It didn't fare so well with the question "How many mickle in a muckle?", but it's a start. But MSN Beta Search falls down badly where it really matters: in delivering results with any relevancy. Like Google, it struggles to distinguish between a source query and an effect query. Searching for "John Leyden"+"blaster worm" and "John Lettice"+"Windows" returned a lot of prattle, but hardly any original articles. When a search is so specific, you're reasonably expected to receive source articles, you might think, rather than what people are saying about them. And this illustrates a fundamental blindspot that both search engine designers, and web-happy techno utopians both exhibit: they mistake the web for the world. Fancy a quick search query? You might want to try this experiment for yourselves. Imagine yourself in a foreign country with full access to Google or WAP, and a bar full of strangers. You need to find a good local restaurant, or a bar, or just something to remember your visit by. Who will give you the answer quicker, and who will give you the better answer - your immediate neighbors, or the computer network? Ten minutes with Google or WAP aren't going to deliver anything useful to you - whereas ten minutes interacting with a stranger might produce quite extraordinary and unexpected results, for this is where the world lives. As long as humans venture outdoors to socialize, computer networks will always come a poor second. Equally, computer networks will continue to frustrate everyone except the kind of people who design computer networks. After so long smelling only your own shit, the whole world starts to smell tangy and brown, and both Microsoft and Google allowed themselves to indulge in this whimsy yesterday. On Google's PR blog, we learned that Google's index had doubled overnight to 8 billion pages. (Where had they been keeping the new 4 billion pages all this time, you might well ask.) "Together these pages represent a good chunk of the world's information, but hardly all of it," wrote Google's VP of engineering Bill Coughlan, in what might be the understatement of the century. Precious little of the "world's information" is even written down. Much of is it encoded in enduring transmission mechanisms such as music, the visual arts, religion and myths, for example. And almost all of the stuff that is written down isn't ever going to be accessible through the public internet for very practical reasons. You can get some of this piped into your computer if you're lucky enough to belong to a local library, but that's because a consensual social mechanism has been invoked to bypass such restrictions. What the internet's public search engines are left to work with is a toxic wasteland largely characterized by the generation of real time noise - both private and commercial - and what the machines churn out in answer to our hopeful "queries" isn't of much use to the rest of us. To technologists, the solution is obvious: it's either going to require either a technical fix, or some huge change in social behavior, the creation of a world where we're all moored to our computers twenty four hours a day, so making society conform to the limitations of today's machines. But we all know this isn't going to happen. Fortunately, there are better ways out of this conundrum. Just as governments have realized that using collective, centralized bargaining power against large pharmaceutical companies is a great way of reducing the cost of drugs used by the population, so one day, governments will realize that collective social bargaining with copyright owners and database can help bring good quality information to the population at large. This is a win-win agreement that makes the copyright holders richer beyond their wildest dreams, and gives us high quality databases to which we could never have before been able to access. If the cult of "information" is as important as technophiliacs tell us it is, we need to develop social mechanisms, not fancier search engines, to get us to the Holy Land. Don't look to the privatized information scavengers of the web for answers. So all the while we were consumed with the "search engine wars", what we were really looking at was the "library wars". And whoever has the best library wins, in this case. ® Related link MSN Search Related links Google the only archive we'll ever need? Google founder dreams of Google implant in your brain Google buys search engine PageRank RIP?
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Nov 2004
For Sale sign detail

Hynix, Micron neck-and-neck in Q3

Having fallen behind South Korea's Hynix in Q2, US memory maker Micron managed to draw level with its rival during Q3 despite an almost negligible increase in overall DRAM sales. So market watcher Gartner Dataquest's latest figures show. Q3 worldwide DRAM revenues were up just 0.2 per cent on Q2 to $6.9bn, but up 39.7 per cent on the year-ago quarter. Samsung remained the market leader, increasing its market share from 29.7 per cent to 31.4 per cent in the process, just as it did between Q1 and Q2. Micron and Hynix ended Q3 level-pegging, both with 15.2 per cent of the market and both down on the previous quarter, Micron by just 0.1 percentage points, Hynix by 1.5 percentage points. By revenue, Micron's was up 1.9 per cent sequentially to $1.04bn while Hynix saw revenues fall nine per cent from $1.14bn in Q2. Gartner attributed Hynix's Q3 decline, coming after a strong second quarter, to falling average selling prices. Fourth-placed Infineon also saw its market share slide, despite a 1.5 per cent increase in sales, from Q2's $941m to Q3's 955m. Elpida, like Infineon, retained its ranking - number five - but experienced a big jump in sales: up 16.7 per cent to $455m, enough to push its share of the market from 5.4 per cent to 6.6 per cent. ®   Q3 Worldwide DRAM Vendors Rank Vendor Q3 Revenue Q3 Market Share Q2 Revenue Q2 Market Share Change 1 Samsung $2.16bn 31.4% $2.06bn 30.1% 4.6% 2 Hynix $1.04bn 15.2% $1.14bn 16.7% -8.7% 2 Micron $1.04bn 15.2% $1.02bn 14.9% 1.9% 4 Infineon $955m 13.9% $914m 13.8% 1.5% 5 Elpida $455m 6.6% $390m 5.7% 16.7%   Others $1.21bn 17.6% $1.29bn 18.8% -6%   Total $6.85bn   $6.84bn   0.2% Related stories Hynix overtakes Micron in world DRAM chart Micron employees fixed DRAM prices Infineon and ProMOS kiss and make up Toshiba takes Hynix to task in patent clash Hynix bullish despite Q3 sales, income slip Rambus sales, earnings rise on royalties Renesas seeks Nanya DRAM ban Elpida announces '$990m' IPO Hynix guilty of accounting fraud Hynix pumps up 2004 capex Infineon pleads guilty to memory price-fixing
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2004

Brace yourselves for Xmas spam surge

PC users are being told to stay alert in the run up to Christmas, as research shows cyber-crime is increasing and getting 'smarter'. Crimes committed over the internet or through email have rocketed in recent years, with spammers and code writers constantly coming up with new ways to breach IT security. Despite conservative efforts to clamp down on cyber-fraudsters, the cost of breaches continues to rise, with UK businesses directly in the line of fire. Research by software security group Prevx, shows that a quarter of people polled had fallen victim to cyber crime at some point. The most vulnerable age group proved to be 16 to 24-year-olds, as fewer than half of this age bracket knew about automated hacking tools. This is compared with 60 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds. Over 55s were found to be the group most aware of internet worms, registering 93 per cent against 74 per cent of the youngest age group. People and businesses in London were also particularly vulnerable, with 35 per cent claiming to have fallen victim to online credit card scams. This compares with only 22 per cent of people living in the East of England. In addition, separate research by security group Clearswift, revealed the extent of scams targeting email and internet users. It claims spammers are relying on 'social engineering', a process by which people are persuaded to part with their money. Analysis of 19,000 emails revealed scams involving expensive watches, phoney bank accounts and online auctioneers. Alyn Hockey, technical director ar Clearswift, said: "It makes sense for spammers to target our weak spots. Though their success rate remains minimal, their constantly evolving tricks means organisations have to rely on robust email security software." Both organisations forecast a steep rise in scams during the run-up to Christmas and are urging bosses and their staff to be vigilant. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Banks brace for cashpoint attack Eight fined in eBay auction scam Aussie 419 ringleader jailed for four years
Startups.co.uk, 12 Nov 2004

Dating website dumps serial shagger

A web dating agency has dumped a 55-year-old male subscriber after he indulged in a five-year debauch which resulted in 100 notches on his bedpost, UK tabloid the Daily Mirror reports. Llanelli-based former miner Clive Worth arranged 119 dates via DatingDirect.com - most of which ended in rumpy-pumpy. Sadly for Worth, the agency struck him from its books after receiving complaints about his "lack of commitment", even though he appears to suffer no lack of commitment to the cause of getting his end away. Worth lamented: "I'm gutted about being kicked out. I've done nothing wrong. The agency said they received complaints because women were travelling to meet me and wanted commitment, but I didn't. But it's just that I haven't met the right woman yet." Worth told the Mirror that he would not take the ban lying down, and pledged to join another agency and continue his tireless quest for Ms Right until he's 80. ® Related stories Could you be descended from a Shagger? Have sex, save the planet Forget dogging, here comes toothing
Lester Haines, 12 Nov 2004

Trojan targets UK online bank accounts

Virus writers have created a new Trojan horse capable of helping crooks to break into the accounts of British internet banking customers. The Banker-AJ Trojan targets users of UK online banks such as Abbey, Barclays, Egg, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide and NatWest. The malware records passwords and keystrokes once users of infected machines visit targeted websites. This data is then surreptitiously transmitted to crooks, allowing fraudsters to later empty bank accounts. "People are increasingly aware of the threat from phishing emails which direct innocent users to fake banking websites in order to capture personal details, but this Trojan is different - it waits until the user visits a real banking website and then surreptitiously monitors the login process," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It's like having a mugger looking over your shoulder as you type in your PIN number." Sophos said that the techniques used by the Banker-AJ Trojan are a repeat of tactics previously used by malware authors to gain access to Brazilian online bank accounts. The use of malicious code and phishing scams to extract confidential account details from consumers have cost British banks more than £4.5m over the last year, according to estimates from banking group APACS published last months. APACS and UK police warn that the use of malicious code in such attacks in beginning to eclipse conventional phishing attacks in its severity. ® Related stories UK police issue 'vicious' Trojan alert Brazil cybercrime bust nets 50 Four charged in landmark UK phishing case Email scammers target Halifax, Nationwide, Citibank UK banks launch anti-phishing website
John Leyden, 12 Nov 2004

Sony Ericsson V800 3G handset

ReviewReview Vodafone's launch of its 3G service is good news for the UK 3G scene. No longer does 3 have to carry the lantern. But aside from the parties, aside from the huge amount of cash spent on the launch - not to mention getting the licence in the first place - is it any good and, more to the point, will consumers actually find it improves their telephone lifestyle? asks Stuart Miles. With five other handsets in the initial Vodafone 3G line-up, the Sony Ericsson V800 has its work cut out for it. It's up against Motorola's entertainment-oriented e1000 and a two megapixel camera phone from Sharp. Retro in its styling, the V800 represents the next stage on from the z1010 in our minds. Still, there's the shiny but buffed casing that's present on most of the current range, including the Z600, and this gives a solid, well made feel to the device. The clamshell design gives little away aside from the colour display on the top. Under the screen is a small speaker and the hinge hides a 1.3 megapixel camera similar to Motorola swivel models. Open it up and the phone has been well laid out with nothing too risqué happening to the keypad a la Nokia or Siemens. In addition to the standard 12 keys, Sony Ericsson has added three buttons: videocall, menu and a 'my entertainment' button for quick access to all three areas. Above this is the standard D-pad, select, back and cancels buttons. The opened clamshell design also reveals the camera, which, as mentioned, can be rotated. Interestingly and obviously to appease the nightclubbing fan club, the phone comes with a very bright flash to help light up whose dark moments. For the most part camera flashes or even lights on phones have been half-hearted attempts, but this is two bright bulbs in your face. It's a bit disconcerting, but nonetheless gets the job done. All this is displayed on a large 2.2in, 262,000-colour screen that is as bright as the GX30 - and as Vodafone is probably fully aware - shows off its logo in bright vibrant colours. The integration of the new services through Vodafone is amazing. The Vodafone Live! service has been completely overhauled. Loading up the first page gives you headlines from ITN. These can then be examined further and video clips played. The service, which is updated four times a day, offers all the latest news across a variety of areas and as its ITN - it does the news for Channel 4, Five and ITV. It's very consumer friendly. Scroll past the news and you're offered movie trailers, music downloads and more. With the 3G service, Vodafone has now also gone into the music download business. At £1.50 per track it's a bit pricey, but they are hoping for the occasional instantaneous purchase rather than expecting you to start significantly extending your music collection. The V800 comes with a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, and with a quick upgrade means that this phone could easily become a small MP3 player. Combine that with the phone's impressively good speaker and you've got a winning combination. Movie trailers like the music are quick to find and within seconds we were watching the latest teasers. Picture quality is excellent and even with dark movie clips the phone presented a good image. After watching the movie trailer you can then find the nearest cinema, triangulate your position so you can work out where you are and then dial the cinema booking line to order the tickets. Vodafone hasn't ruled out the idea of payment over the phone, DoCoMo-style, but that's not here just yet. Verdict With Bluetooth, 3D gaming, global support including Japan, and every other feature you would want to put on a phone, the V800 has more baubles on it that a Christmas tree. To put it shortly, we are very, very impressed. The phone is a gem to use, and what makes it better still is that the integration of the services is very good as well. At no point did we feel that crap we didn't really want was being shoved down our throats. Vodafone has adopted a rather risky, in our minds, price plan that on the surface seems to be more expensive that other such services. However, almost everything bar the music downloads on offer through the updated Vodafone Live! is included in the price. This for us meant that we didn't have the fear - as we have with Vodafone Live! On 2G - that every time we click on a button we are going to get charged. If this is just the start of 3G, we're eagerly looking forward to where it's going to go next. Sony Ericsson V800   Rating 90%   Pros — Stylish; easy to use; good features all round.   Cons — Takes Memory Stick rather than SD card.   Price £50-250, depending on contract   More info The Sony Ericsson UK website The Vodafone website Recent Reviews Mio 8390 smart phone PalmOne Tungsten T5 Creative Zen Touch 20GB music player Danger Hiptop 2 Vodafone Blackberry 7100v HP iPaq h6340 Wi-Fi, GSM PocketPC Olympus Mju-mini digicam Intel 3.46GHz P4 Extreme Edn and i925XE chipset Orange Mobile Office 3G data card
Tony Smith, 12 Nov 2004

Vodafone leads charge in 3G offensive

AnalysisAnalysis After the phoney war of the operators’ launch of 3G data cards in Europe, the real battle commences for the mass 3G market, with Vodafone leading the charge. The company went live with its phone service in its native UK and 12 other countries this week, with CEO Arun Sarin saying this was "payback time" for the £7bn invested in licenses and build-out in the UK alone. He is right, but it is highly uncertain that such payback will be forthcoming. As devices and applications mature, 3G will have large measures of success in terms of uptake, but the wireless goalposts have shifted so far since the 3G auctions of the turn of the century, that it is unlikely the operators will ever be able to generate the ARPU and profits incorporated in their original business plans. Vodafone’s initial target is to win 10m 3G customers by February 2006. Its huge market reach and purchasing power enable it to make a more aggressive launch than those of rivals such as T-Mobile, which have adopted a soft approach so far. Not only can Vodafone get handset prices – and operator subsidies – down rapidly because of its size, it can also put pressure on vendors to create attractive devices quickly. One of the biggest obstacles to early 3G plans was the limited choice of handsets, and the large size of those that were available. Perhaps the most urgent motivation behind Vodafone’s full-on launch is to regain some lost ground in Japan, its largest revenue market but where rivals KDDI and DoCoMo have 20m 3G customers, against Vodafone Japan’s 250,000. Half of the initial roll-out of 3G handsets will go to Japan, with the launch in other territories being less aggressive. 3G tariffs Can the operators generate the revenue they need from 3G? Vodafone is setting the pace with voice and data tariffs that are lower than for 2G. Of course, the greater spectral efficiency of UMTS compared to GSM means that it can deliver far more voice and data but Vodafone is refusing steadfastly to reveal any ARPU targets. 3, by contrast, claims ARPU of almost £43 a month, higher than any 2G service in the UK, but still far off the £80 that was estimated, at the time of the auctions, to be necessary for cellcos to meet their ROI targets. And that ROI window has closed significantly since those forecasts were made – a fourth generation, based on broadband wireless, was once expected to be just on the horizon in 2010, but is now feasible by 2007-8; and huge pressure has been put on mobile data pricing by the availability of Wi-Fi. Hotspots may be limited in range and functionality, but they have completely shifted the expectations of what a broadband data service should deliver in terms of bandwidth and pricing. This is already being seen in the US. According to The Yankee Group, competitive pressures from within the cellco sector and outside are driving down voice ARPU from $51.36 in 2003 to an expected $42.42 in 2007. Data will make up some of the shortfall, growing from an ARPU of $0.80 in 2003 to $5.95 in 2007, but this will not be enough to keep the ARPU from shrinking over all. The impact of Wi-Fi With Wi-Fi and the promise of WiMAX pressurizing operators to adopt flat rate data tariffs and to open their walled gardens – both moves that could reduce overall ARPU - a new price war is widely expected on voice. Already sparked by 3’s attempts to win UK customers for its early UMTS service with cheap voice calls, it will be accelerated by the launch of wireless voice over IP services. So the impact of Wi-Fi and WiMAX is throwing ever larger question marks over the operators’ ability to generate the required levels of ARPU to justify their UMTS investments. Researchers forecast that by 2006, there will be 20.6m active Wi-Fi users and 831,000 WiMAX subscribers in Europe versus 21.2m 3G subscribers. Many of these, of course, will have at least two of these subscriptions but, though the average spend on wireless data services will rise steadily, a multi-network subscriber will spend less on 3G than a 3G-only user (in other words, WiMAX will not be purely an additional spend – there will be cannibalization). In particular, WiMAX will be in a strong position to cream off the most high value, high bandwidth applications, such as business videoconferencing or consumer interactive gaming, leaving lower ARPU services to 3G. It also has the advantage of strong prioritization capabilities and flexible network design, both of which make it well suited to segmentation of services. Unlike traditional voice service, the adoption of 3G services is segment specific – the Japanese and South Korean operators have found that targeting is vital, with some users are interested in video, others not, some in games, others in traffic updates, and so on. On data, broadband customers are traditionally used to spending $30 to $60 per month, more in rural areas or for premium services like video on demand. While this figure will erode, the mobility aspect of WiMAX should support a similar rate in 2007, plus high value revenues from enterprises. Although there is currently strong association between adopters of broadband and of 3G, the ability of WiMAX to span both camps could make 3G data less attractive or drive its operators to low, flat pricing to compete. Yet Analysys estimates that the monthly ARPU required for a European 3G operator to gain ROI on its network investment will be, in 2005, about $25 from voice and $30 from data, with the voice figure declining to 20 per cent by 2010 but data rising to $60. This will be difficult to achieve using flat rate pricing models in direct competition with the faster data capabilities, mobility and VoIP support possible with WiMAX. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Vodafone 3G is go Qualcomm seeks markets with bold TV network move China homespun 3G unravels in trials
Wireless Watch, 12 Nov 2004

New Reg newsletter redefines choice paradigm

Site newsSite news We've just completed a major overhaul of our Reg newletter to drag our email news alert service kicking and screaming into the new millennium. After weeks of tireless work by an elite team of coding troubleshooters, we have improved, extended and refurbished the service to such an extent that even battle-hardened Vulture Central hacks conceded a grudging grunt of approval. First up, the new newsletter comes in two flavours - text and html. Next, we have added the ability for users to pick exactly what bits of El Reg they'd like to receive in their inboxes. So, if you have a penchant for BOFH, for example, then just select "Odds'n'Sods". If, on the other hand, servers do not ring your IT bell, then simply deselect "Enterprise". It's as simple as that. What's more, you can have your choice of headlines emailed to you daily, or once a week. And once you're signed up, you can log in and change your preferences at any time. (Existing users fear not - you too can get in there right now and exercise the democratic right to choice to your hearts' content). The registration page can be found here. There are other options, too, such as whether or not you want to receive our monthly Cash'n'Carrion newsletter, packed with exclusive special offers and discounts, and an opt-in for our periodic Reg surveys. And, for a limited period only, new UK subscribers will get a free £20 voucher to spend at Virgin Wines. The deal is this - the voucher is redeemable off a case of wine worth 50 quid or more, excluding P&P. A case is defined of a minimum of 12 bottles of 275ml each. The offer is availble to all of the UK excluding Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The voucher will be emailed to you after registration, and must be used within a month of receipt. So there you have it - a new, all-singing, all-dancing, 21st-century newsletter with the chance of discounted plonk for new Brit subscribers. Marvellous. ®
Team Register, 12 Nov 2004

WISPs blaze trail for WiMAX

AnalysisAnalysis The WiMAX community has been awash for some time with optimistic predictions about the technology's prospects in the WISP world. A quarter of US wireless ISPs will migrate to WiMAX in 2005-6 and a further 25 per cent in 2007-8, according to ABI. Broadband is now offered by 92 per cent of rural service providers, with 22 per cent of them using at least some wireless, usually in unlicensed bands. Now, as equipment testing and availability draws closer, some of these WISPs are making their move. The telcos may be hoping to kill off the ISP through a wired/wireless triple play offering, but their strategies will take time to get off the ground and, in the mean time, trailblazers hope to gain critical mass in unlicensed spectrum in their chosen markets. Outside of rural areas with no access to DSL and cable, the primary target is the enterprise, at least until the subscriber equipment becomes sufficiently cheap to be deployed to the mass market without heavy operator subsidies. TowerStream The most high profile example is TowerStream, which has already launched enterprise services based on pre-WiMAX Aperto equipment in Boston, New York, Rhode Island and Chicago and this week announced its latest location in Los Angeles, with San Francisco the next target. The company is building points of presence on tall buildings in Los Angeles, such as the Aon Center, to deliver services over a 10-mile radius from early next year. In San Francisco, service should be up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2005. TowerStream shows just what can be done with the technology today, even ahead of the formal standard and certification processes for WiMAX that will make the technology dramatically cheaper, and mainstream, next year. It is building its base gradually and cautiously with a profitable T1 replacement business, but this low risk start is laying the ground for a future, more ambitious move into offering the triple play of voice, data and video to the mass market, in competition with cablecos and telcos. The way in which it is building its coverage is confirmation that grass roots businesses can emerge in broadband wireless, in just the same way that they did in Wi-Fi, but that there is an acceptable business model available to them. Because the most important fact about TowerStream is that with funding of just $6m from friends and family, it is already operating at a profit. This is at a time when a base stations cost around $30,000 and each customer premises equipment is between $500 and $700. Think how profitable it might be when volume chip pricing cuts in. TowerStream already has 700 customers in total, uses Aperto equipment from end to end, and has 'networks in the sky' built on just nine base stations in Boston, where it says it already has three per cent of the T1 market, and fewer still in the other cities where it operates. The simplicity with which a smart thinking start-up has approached broadband is evident in the company's model. It wanted to bypass the RBOCs completely, knowing that if it went into competition with them on T1 prices, its backhaul would end up priced at just enough to squeeze out most of the profit. So it bypasses them and either terminates all of its traffic directly at a major internet hub, or contracts with long distance carriers to take it there from one single point. "We decided to put 18GHz microwave towers up as a kind of network in the sky. These need line of site to work. The first thing we did was negotiate their sites, and we then used these for backhaul for our broadband wireless base stations which use some of the same locations," said COO Jeff Thompson. The TowerStream service then carries data in 5.8GHz unlicensed spectrum from the base stations to the customer. The targets right now for TowerStream are mostly the smaller to medium sized business, but it will take on 10Mbps-20Mbps delivery for just over $3,000 a month and is happy to talk to bigger enterprises about bigger loads. It offers a Service Level Agreement just like any other service supplier, which it is happy to leave on its web site, where the performance guarantees include 4 x 9s reliability (99.99 per cent) on network uptime, low round trip latency and less than one per cent packet loss. But it's TowerStream's approach to the future that makes the most interesting listening. "From the day WiMAX 802.16d equipment is available, we will install it. It's not a big part of the costs of the network, it's mostly the site acquisition that make up the bulk of our network costs," said Thompson. TowerStream has towers on the Empire State building in New York and the Standard Oil Building in Chicago. "And when 16e (the mobile version) is ready, the WiMAX Forum is trying its hardest to make it a software download, so it should be a simple matter to turn our metropolitan networks into a mobile telephony business overnight," added Thompson. As a precursor to this, and to prove that he is deadly serious, Thompson hints that he is about to pull the trigger on an experiment that will get his company ready for this service sometime towards the end of 2006, by trying out Wi-Fi now. "Yes we are experimenting with Wi-Fi SIP phones. We expect a trial to start in about two months," he says. With existing Wi-Fi hotspot operators loath to upgrade their locations to support the upcoming 802.16e quality of service protocols, essential for robust voice services, there will be chances for companies like Towerstream to steal a march. "This isn't with the cheap hotspot Wi-Fi chips, but with Cisco chips which get the best out of its SWAN (Structured Wireless Aware Network) architecture. You can also offer roaming," said Thompson, quite clearly indicating that Towersteam plans to slowly build its own dedicated hotspot network, as well as perhaps sign up hotspots, or take excess capacity on enterprise WLans to a SIP-only Wi-Fi phone network. From there Thompson pictures a transition to a seamless shift from Wi-Fi to WiMAX as people wander in and out of hotspots with hybrid phones, once the 16e standard yields roaming mobile handsets, probably during 2007. So from a T1-only business, with consumers taking additional mobile bandwidth and perhaps also signing up for using that same bandwidth at home, TowerStream can see a gradual shift to at least a double play. It may well offer VoIP through a partner. "We don't have the brand recognition that AT&T has for VoIP," Thompson said. "We're looking to partner with top brands." What about the third option, television? Thompson is even more circumspect on this subject. "Perhaps if you put a DSS (digital satellite system home satellite dish) and a WiMAX antenna together and use the satellite dish to download programs and WiMAX for everything else, including the return path, that might work," he said. Is TowerStream doing this? "We're looking at TV options," is all that Thomson would confirm. "While we just have 6MHz channels it might not be right to opt for a triple play in the home. But once WiMAX has 10MHz or 20MHz channels you could feed 250 homes with at least half to one megabyte per home." For now, like most early entrants, the company wants to keep using T1 replacement as its main business. It aims to be in 10 major cities by early 2006, building its network in the sky that can overnight be turned into a metropolitan mobile network. Expansion will be aided with a move into reseller partnerships from early 2005, which could take TowerStream into some larger enterprises that would not deal with a start-up. Speakeasy It is not the only WISP taking this two-stage approach, moving from T1 replacement to VoIP to mass consumer mobility. Another example is DSL and dial-up provider Speakeasy. Three months after it received funding from Intel Capital to support its move into wireless, it has announced its first trial of WiMAX ready networks, in Seattle, Washington. Speakeasy plans to add wireless to its DSL, T1 and VoIP mix to plug coverage gaps - it says 30 per cent of customers who apply for Speakeasy wireline services cannot reach them. It will provide premium services, or enhanced coverage, in the top 10 US cities, or to target metro areas where it has not managed to obtain wireline. The real opportunity for Speakeasy lies in mobility - by 2007 it aims to have a service that integrates VoIP, data and video and can be taken throughout the US via mobile WiMAX devices and public hotspot access. The Seattle trial is promising 3Mbps of symmetrical bandwidth with optimization for voice. The target market, until subscriber equipment gets cheaper, will be businesses, where Speakeasy will undercut T1 lines by half. With 1.5Mbps T1s costing around $750 a month in the area, it aims to offer double that bandwidth for about $600-$700 a month. Installation time will be 24-48 hours rather than up to three weeks for T1. The company believes it is a steep hike from 1.5Mbps T1 to the higher bandwidth options such as T3 or OC3 - even a fraction of the full 48Mbps can cost $10,000 - and that WiMAX can exploit this gap. For Speakeasy, WiMAX is also a chance to move into wireless mobility in the 2007 timeframe, and to hedge its bets against possible regulatory changes that could limit its access to last mile providers and so hurt its DSL broadband business. The company raised $24m in fourth round financing last March to support the launch of a voice over IP service and expand its rollout of integrated broadband/Wi-Fi services for consumers and in August it added an undisclosed sum from the Intel Communications Fund, specifically earmarked for WiMAX deployments from 2005. Speakeasy's earlier round was led by 3i Ventures and BV Capital with participation from previous investors Ares Management, Cornerstone Ventures, Matthew G Norton and Granite Ventures. It has raised $50m to date and hit profit in 2003. The company was founded in 1994 as one of the world's first internet café chains and now provides DSL and Wi-Fi in 120 US cities. NextWeb Also interested in the voice potential of WiMAX is NextWeb, a Californian broadband wireless provider, which has signed a VoIP partnership with Level 3 Communications. NextWeb will launch a service for its 2,000 business customers in the middle of next year. Like Towerstream NextWeb is forced by shortage of spectrum to offer enterprise services in unlicensed 5.8GHz bands but it claims that a well designed system can be as robust as a licensed option. The largest BWA operator in California, the company serves business customers in the Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay and Orange Country regions. The company recently made a string of acquisitions of ISPs, not only pointing to a consolidation trend in the US but also giving it a claim to be America's largest business oriented WISP. It has made four acquisitions in two years, buying up Innetix of San Jose, California, World Wide Wireless Networks of Orange County, Oakland- based Libritas and finally SkyPipeline, from another wealthy Californian area, Camarillo. NextWeb claims it has not experienced any interference problems in 5.8GHz and offers service level agreements guaranteeing 99.99 per cent uptime - the same as licensed BWA services, though less than some wired alternatives - and 50ms latency. NextWeb uses equipment from Axxcelera, with roof-mounted base stations covering a three mile radius, supporting 250 subscriber units each with user rates of 25Mbps, and will migrate these to WiMAX. Two weeks ago it announced that it was upgrading its backbone using microwave radio systems from Alcatel, to cope with expanding demand. By focusing on business rather than residential, and on SME in order to avoid the long sales cycles of the top enterprises, NextWeb now boasts ARPU of $470 per month and achieved positive cashflow a few months ahead of schedule. Scalability is key to fixed wireless advantages, says the company, which claims it can double the number of customers on its network for only 10 per cent of variable costs. NextWeb also offers a sub-1Mbps, SLA-less offering for small businesses. This is not its key focus and, like other providers, it says it is hard to make a business model based on such services in the developed areas, since DSL is so price competitive. But it offers the option for companies that may, in future, grow into wanting the full platform - and will step up this focus when WiMAX subscriber equipment falls to commodity prices. Also piloting WiMAX-ready networks is Futura Technologies, which has kicked off a 60-day trial in Kansas City and its surrounding areas. It will bundle the broadband wireless offering with its FuturaVoice VoIP offering and aims for a nationwide roll-out by 2006. Its current services are available in 47 states. Copyright © 2004, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here. Related stories Vodafone leads charge in 3G offensive Qualcomm seeks markets with bold TV network move Cisco rethinks 802.16
Wireless Watch, 12 Nov 2004

Giving voice to the mobile workforce

When your seven year old daughter asks: "Why is Grandma's phone attached to a piece of wire? Is so she doesn't lose it?", it draws your attention to the to the fact that there is a whole generation who won't need to make the transition from wired to wireless - wireless is all they will ever have known. Cellular communications are playing a key role in reinforcing the wireless mindset. The mass adoption of mobile phones amongst European teenagers and young adults is pretty obvious. Ed Vonk, CEO of the EVUA, an industry association made up of some of Europe's largest multinationals, also points to the increasing role of cellular phones in the domestic context. As he says: "In some countries, many young people setting up their first home don't even bother with a fixed phone at all." With trends like this taking place in our personal lives, it begs the question of whether our working lives will go in the same direction. It was for this reason that the EVUA, along with co-sponsor Ericsson, commissioned Quocirca to interview 150 corporate IT and telecoms managers on how communication services are provided to increasingly mobile workforces. We found, not surprisingly, that the majority of mobile workers now have a mobile phone that is paid for by the business. We also found, however, that over 95 per cent of corporate mobile phone users also have a fixed phone on their desk. When asked why this was, two reasons were given. Firstly, there was a view that the desk phone had advantages from a call routing and management perspective, as a result of the extensive functionality built into PBXs nowadays. This includes everything from switchboard operator monitoring and routing, through internal call management, to voice mail, hunt groups and other multi-user functionality. But, by far the biggest reason given for mobile users having a fixed phone on their desk, however, was cost. The logic here is pretty simple - making land line calls is cheaper than cellular and even free for internal communication. It therefore makes sense for the mobile worker to restrict use of their cellular phone to occasions when they are actually mobile, and use their fixed line when sitting at their desk. Nice theory. The problem is that whilst this might make sense from a corporate cost control perspective, it doesn't make sense to many users. The chances are that if they are away from their desk for a significant amount of time during the average working week, those frequently needing to reach them learn not to bother calling their fixed line when there is a high risk of it not being picked up. The mobile will always be answered if the person is in a position to take a call so you might as well dial that first. For many, the mobile phone has therefore become the default device for receiving incoming calls. To handle calls that still come into the desk phone, users simply forward their desk number to their mobile. Reasonable though this might seem, they usually don't realise that every call forwarded is treated as an outgoing call from the desk. This effectively means that the company pays for incoming calls to the desk at cellular rates. Additional costs incurred in this manner are not the only way in which user behaviour leads to wasted money. Mobile workers with frequently used numbers programmed into their mobile often dial from that rather than picking up the fixed handset two feet away from them. If the person they are calling is a mobile colleague, we end up with the ludicrous situation of the company paying for a cellular to cellular call between two employees who might be sitting in the same building. This and other mobile user behaviour that drives up costs in ways that are not necessarily fully appreciated was confirmed by the Quocirca study. The study also found that a third of companies were considering ditching the desk phone for mobile users as a result, though less than 10 per cent are actually making any moves in this direction. One of the reasons organisations are holding back is the perceived cost of integrating mobile handsets into the corporate telephone network so they can become fully functional "mobile extensions". Related to this, and a point made by many EVUA members according to Vonk, is a general lack of understanding of the extent of the problem and true cost of ownership of both the desk phone and the mobile. Without these parameters tied down, it is hard to construct a meaningful business case, despite the advanced technology and creative services emerging from equipment manufacturers and service providers to encourage companies to go purely mobile. Interestingly, though, Vonk sees a link between "fixed/mobile substitution", as the industry likes to call it, and much of the investigation of IP Telephony that is taking place in the corporate sector at the moment. In his view "Going purely cellular for mobile users will ease migration to VoIP. You have fewer VoIP handsets to purchase which leads to huge savings". He goes on to talk about a specific example, saying "One EVUA member migrated a large office to mobile only and VoIP simultaneously, avoiding the deployment of approximately 1,500 VoIP handsets that would otherwise have been needed. This was important because the handset cost was a very significant element of the VoIP investment as most of the infrastructure was already there". This kind of example highlights the need for joined-up thinking as organisations consider how best to provide communications services to the workforce in the future, something underlined further by respondents telling us that smart data enabled cellular devices were accelerating the marginalisation of desk phones for mobile users. Whether it's mobile versus fixed, voice versus data or convergence versus substitution, the key is therefore to consider user requirements and think holistically about how best to meet them. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Vodafone leads charge in 3G offensive Major telcos tout Wi-Fi roaming pact Qualcomm seeks markets with bold TV network move
Dale Vile, 12 Nov 2004

Say hello to the 'time bomb' exploit

Prepare yourself for "time bomb" exploits that attack web-based systems at a pre-determined time. A recent whitepaper, Second-order Code Injection Attacks, by UK security consultancy NGS Software (NGS) explains how new techniques for attacking web-based applications alter the security landscape. Gunter Ollmann, professional services director at NGS, and author of the paper, explains: "Many forms of code injection targeted at web-based applications (for instance cross-site scripting and SQL injection) rely upon the instantaneous execution of the embedded code to carry out the attack. [But] in some cases it may be possible for an attacker to inject their malicious code into a data storage area that may be executed at a later date or time". These "second-order code injection attack" involve injecting malicious code into applications where it is later retrieved, rendered and executed by the victim. Targeted systems could be internal application - not just the web-based application - creating a higher risk than classical code injection attacks, according to NGS' David Litchfield. "Malicious code could be injected at any time and not "activated" until some later period - ideal for professional criminals," he added. More about the new type of attack and how it can be combated can be found in NGS' white paper here. NGS discovered the flaw which was exploited by the infamous Slammer worm and is highly regarded in the field of vulnerability research. ® Related stories Critical Win2K flaw yields multiple attack vectors Oracle's first monthly patch batch fails to placate critics Meet the future of Windows security exploits
John Leyden, 12 Nov 2004

NASA scramjet goes for Mach 10 burn

NASA's X-43A scramjet will on Monday undergo its third test flight during which scientists will attempt to push the vehicle to Mach 10. The X-43A is an air-breathing supersonic ramjet, which ducts air directly from the atmosphere, mixing it with hydrogen before combustion. The forward speed of the vehicle provides compression, thereby eliminating the need for conventional jet engine turbines. The speed of the airflow through the engine remains supersonic throughout. The programme has not been without its hiccups. On 2 June 2001 the first X-43 flight ended in disaster when the vehicle self-destructed shortly after ignition of the Pegasus booster rocket intended to accelerate the X-43A to a sufficient velocity for the scramjet to kick in (roughly Mach 5-6). A faulty Pegasus was later fingered as the culprit. On 27 March 2004, however, the second X-43A successfully reached Mach 7 for an independent flight of 15 miles. NASA has reportedly made a some modifications to the X-43A in anticipation of its latest outing, notably to the wing leading edges and nose in anticipation of temperatures of up to 2000°C generated by the tremendous speed - considerably greater than the 1400°C which toasted its snout during the Mach 7 trial. The X-43A and Pegasus have already been hitched under their B-52 launch aircraft, and the NASA team hopes that - weather permitting - the test will go ahead off the coast of Southern California at around 1pm Pacific Time on Monday 15 November. The flight will mark the last scramjet test for the time being, since NASA has yet to commit extra funds for continued research into scramjet powerplants for its Hyper-X programme, designed to examine fast future transport systems. ® Related stories NASA scramjet hits Mach 7 NASA scramjet probe hots up NASA scramjet crashes and burns
Lester Haines, 12 Nov 2004

Mars Express sends postcard from Phobos

Photographs taken by ESA's Mars Express spacecraft show the surface of Mars moon Phobos in greater detail than ever before. The images offer for the first time an unblurred continuous view of the moon's surface at the highest resolution. The 10 images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard the spacecraft, show the Mars-facing side of the moon, enabling the body's shape, topography, colour, 'regolith' light-scattering properties, and rotational and orbital states to be determined. The regolith is a small-grained material resulting from multiple impacts on the moon's surface. Phobos possesses a 'groove network', a regularly spaced network of channels, seen in great detail in the new images. Scientists are unsure whether the grooves existed before the large cratering events, and exist deep within Phobos, or came after the cratering events and were superimposed on them. The images may help answer this question. The Mars Express spacecraft passes near Phobos periodically for about one hour, during which time it trains its camera on the moon's surface. It will grab more snaps of Phobos over the coming months. Mars Express is also charged with studying the orbit of Phobos, to hopefully determine whether the moon is truly in a 'death spiral' which will result in its eventual destruction. ® Related stories Lack of cash killed Beagle 2 UK backs Aurora Euro space programme Final report on Beagle 2 Beagle 2 was 'poorly managed'
Robin Lettice, 12 Nov 2004

Anti-virus outfit defends job for VXer

Czech company Zoner Software has explained why it employed a prominent former virus writer to develop anti-virus software on its behalf. The firm - whose main business is graphics and multimedia - hired Benny, one-time member of the 29A virus writing group, to develop security software to protect servers run by Zoner's Internet division. Benny, 22, has become the main developer of this Zoner Anti-Virus (ZAV) product. Although this product is not being sold to end users yet (though this is a possibility for the future), Zoner's appointment is still controversial. In general, the industry wants to distance itself from malware authors and to discourage the idea that writing viruses is a path into a lucrative career in computer security. Zoner said it hired Benny because he was skilled in computer security and - despite his previous activities - committed to making a positive contribution. Erik Piper, of Zoner software, explained: "Paradoxically, Benny's works, even though they have been in the virus creation and virus proof-of-concept areas, have been good proof that he understands how computer security attacks work, what are common approaches, what cutting-edge approaches are coming up, etc. Virus coders frequently state that the security approach in this or that product is naive; we believe no such objection could be made to Benny's work." "Still, this would be immaterial if we felt that Benny had no sense of morality. Fortunately, we do not have such a feeling. Benny's focus has been on proof-of-concept and on pointing out flaws where none were thought to exist; the number one thing that drives him is an urge to prove his technical skill and creativity, not to hurt others. Work in the anti-virus field gives him an opportunity to satisfy this urge while guaranteeing that the work won't be hurting others. On our side, it's a chance to hire someone of proven skill," he added. Sympathy for the devil Benny, 22, was involved in the computer virus underground for five years, culminating in his membership of 29A (hex for '666'). 29A is well known for developing proof of concept code not mass mailing viruses. Benny's chief claim to fame was the creation of virus designed to infect Windows 2000 two weeks before the release of the OS. He did this in order to humiliate the software giant. Benny claimed never to have released any of the viruses he wrote. But how do Zoner's hosting clients know they are safe from the possibility that Benny might create a backdoor in systems? Zoner's Piper said that Benny was well aware that if he tried anything like this not only would he lose his job but he'd be unlikely to be employed in the Czech IT sector ever again. Anti-virus firms commonly argue that the skills needed to develop security software are different from those needed to write malicious code. Piper said they may be some truth in this observation but that Benny was an exception to the rule. "I don't think it's impossible for one human being to accommodate both skill sets. There's a tendency for them not to overlap, naturally, especially since the lifestyle and stances of a virus writer tend to promote haphazardness. But as that same person ages - Benny, for example, is now 22 - they mature. We take this for granted in non-programmers. Thus I don't believe it's unbelievable for programmers as well." Securepoint partner terminates relationship The employment of former VXers by computer security firms is rare but not unprecedented. German security company Securepoint created a controversy back in September when it hired Sven Jaschan, self-confessed creator of the notoriously destructive NetSky and Sasser worms, as a trainee software developer. Jaschan is working on developing Securepoint's firewall products. German antivirus software manufacturer H+BEDV announcing today that it had withdrawn its cooperation with SecurePoint because of its decision to hire the alleged virus author as a trainee. SecurePoint worked with H+BEDV as a sales and technology partner but this relationship has been put on hold. The decision illustrates how sensitive anti-virus firms are about having any association with virus writers, reformed or not. Even though everyone is keen to see former virus writers rehabilitated, many security firms would rather this was done outside the IT security industry. "We take a dim view of employing virus authors. The attempt to offer a second chance to an allegedly reformed virus author must be balanced against the exclusive security interests of our customers," said Tjark Auerbach, chief exec and founder of H+BEDV. "Whatever SecurePoint does is its own decision, but I do not wish to see any stage of our product development closely linked to an alleged virus author. After weighing all the pros and cons, I cannot truly support the decision by SecurePoint. Although it has been reported that the 18-year-old has expressed regret about writing the viruses, the tolerance shown to him is nevertheless questionable, he added. ® Related stories Czech virus writer joins anti-virus firm Win2k virus beats Win2k to release First PocketPC virus found (more from 29A) Hunt for Code Red authors turns into witch hunt Sasser author gets IT security job Sasser kid charged with computer sabotage
John Leyden, 12 Nov 2004

Sun's Linux wins right to be considered in Japan

Sun Microsystems has opened a second front for its Linux-based desktop operating system in Asia with a Japanese win of sorts. Sun's Java Desktop System has been picked as one open source OS of preference during a competition held by the Information-technology Promotion Agency in Japan (IPA). This clears the way for Sun's software to be picked as an open source alternative to Microsoft's Windows at Japanese schools. Sun last year enjoyed a much bigger and more concrete win in China when the government selected the Java Desktop System for at least 500,000 desktops. "METI is promoting the deployment of open source software to provide more choice of desktop environments for users," said Takashi Kume, a deputy director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan. "METI has delegated project implementation to IPA and the Sun Java Desktop System was selected as a platform for the open source software verification program for the educational community. METI believes that when open source software is used more pervasively, starting with initiatives like this one, the open source community becomes more active and will promote increased choice of information technology in Japan." This announcement would be a lot more impressive if Sun could say that some actual Java Desktop Shipments were making their way to Japan. It's a bit unusual for a vendor the size of Sun to issue a statement about winning the rights to be considered for something. Perhaps there is a nuance to this deal that eludes us, but we doubt it. If the Japanese government had placed orders for shipments, you would most certainly have heard about it. That said, Sun is making noticeable open source headway in Japan. Most notably, Sun's StarOffice productivity suite earned mythological status earlier this year in a Japanese convenience store. The software inspired a woman to give birth to a horse right between store racks full of magazines and candy bars. Back to your blogs, Sun staff. And tell us some news, next time. ® Related stories One standard, one Microsoft - how the NHS sold its choice Vodafone inks global deal with Sun Security Report: Windows vs Linux Sun: MS truce clears way to open source Solaris McNealy: Microsoft needs Sun to beat IBM and Red Hat
Ashlee Vance, 12 Nov 2004

Florida e-vote conspiracy theories grow

There's been a good deal of Internet chatter about the possibility that the Florida vote was rigged, although optical scan machines, not touch-screen systems, are suspected. A pair of charts provided by Kathy Dopp breaks down the county vote in relation to registration rolls. Before the election, everyone in the tech press (El Reg included) assumed that touch-screen machines were destined lead us all to months of confusion, doubt and frustration. Ironically, the Florida counties using touch-screen machines showed the fewest surprises, as reflected in the first chart. The real puzzles come in the counties using paper ballots read by optical scanners, as shown in the second chart. It is a dramatic difference, one has got to admit. And it is odd that Kerry lost Florida precincts in which he polled high, and in which Al Gore previously did well, then lost them decisively. Strictly speaking, this is not evidence of vote rigging: it is evidence only of the fact that the election results were surprising. There are many innocent reasons why Bush might have done better than expected: Democrats and Independents might have voted for him in significant numbers, for example. It gets weird only in view of other factors. For example, it is undeniably strange that counties using touch-screen machines should have posted results that conform closely to registration rolls and exit polls, while counties using a different type of electronic tabulation should be far off the mark. However, we need to balance that with the fact that both Diebold's and ES&S's optical scan machines show the same peculiar results, which means that any rigging would have to be pulled off either 1. without cooperation from either of the vendors, or 2. with cooperation from both vendors together. Neither is terribly likely. But there are other factors. While a departure from the registration rolls can be explained easily by cross-party voting, it is more difficult to dismiss departures from exit polls, which tend to be fairly accurate. When they're off, they're usually off by a relatively small margin, and they tend to break for both candidates in different regions. But in this case, we find only one candidate, John Kerry, over-reported by exit polls. That's not quite what one would expect. Republicans have offered a few incredibly lame explanations, such as the one holding that they, being a naturally modest folk, were less likely to consent to be interviewed. But if exit polls had been reliable in the past, this factor must have been calculated into them, or it is an incredibly recent phenomenon. (Where they might have got a sudden blush of modesty after screaming bloody murder about the Liberal Gomorrah that mysteriously sprang up about them while they were in possession of the federal bureaucracy, both chambers of Congress, and the Supreme Court is difficult to pinpoint, but we're looking into it.) Another issue in Florida is the simple fact that its Governor is the President's brother. This is hardly sufficient to cast suspicion on the process, but it is, perhaps, enough to withhold an automatic presumption of innocence. However, this needs to be balanced with the fact that Governor Bush has, over the past four years, grown significantly more popular among Floridians than he was in 2000. His lobbying for the President may well have had an effect among Democrats and Independents. Still, his close relationship with the President is reason to approach the Florida election results with a measure of caution. Not cynicism, mind, just healthy skepticism. The wind up here is that there are a few intriguing questions about the Florida vote that deserve good, straight answers. The anomalies should be investigated, although the findings are unlikely to be decisive. But we will learn what we need to know about the reliability of optical scan machines, and the vendors who make them, whether the news should be good or bad. The President's margin of victory is in the range of 3.6 million votes nationwide. So even if there has been mischief in a few counties here and there, the margin of victory is quite likely to exceed the margin of doubt. Thus, it appears that a failed Texas oilman and cowboy wannabe really is President of the single most influential nation on Earth. This time around, anyway. ® Related Stories E-voting promises US election tragicomedy E-voting security: getting it right
Thomas C Greene, 12 Nov 2004
cloud

Dell, AMD make Friday bull run

Shares of Dell and AMD scrambled higher Friday with investors patting Dell on the back for a solid quarter and others buying into speculation that AMD will swallow large gobs of Intel's server processor market share in the months to come. Dell's share price soared right past its previous 52-week high of $37.80 to $40.44. Investors enjoyed an 8.5 per cent gain on the day with 75m shares trading hands. The significant jump comes after Dell yesterday posted an 18 percent surge in revenue during its third quarter to $12.5bn. Dell's shares have hovered between $32 and $36 for much of the last year, despite consistent revenue gains in previous quarters. For some reason, management's optimism of continued growth caught investor's attention this quarter. AMD experienced a similar gain on the day, as its share price shot up more than 13 per cent to $21.01. AMD's shares started out the week at $17, but rose steadily due to favorable analyst reports. The most influential report appeared to come from Merrill Lynch, which declared: "We don't think there's any workable strategy that Intel can use to counter AMD's share gain in the server processor market." The analyst firm set a price target of $22 per share for AMD, and investors have quickly pushed the stock close to that level. AMD has also benefited somewhat from renewed speculation that Dell will pick up its Opteron processor for servers, workstations and gaming PCs. Such speculation, however, has been hovering over AMD since the dawn of time. ® Related stories Dell 'to add' AMD CPUs to product line - CEO Compaq's servers save HP from enterprise sales hell On Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 HP gears up for Opteron server binge
Ashlee Vance, 12 Nov 2004

That's enough peace - Novell sues MS just one more time

This week Microsoft's lead counsel stressed that the company's antitrust woes were receding into ancient history, as he tried to bounce the EU into dropping its sanctions against the company. But like the Whack A Mole game, another antitrust suit has popped up today. Novell has sued Redmond over anti-competitive behavior relating to the WordPerfect office suite, which Novell briefly owned for a couple of years in the mid 1990s. It promises to reopen one of the bitterest periods in Microsoft's history: for Redmond's determination to rip into Novell at the time made subsequent engagements with Sun Microsystems and Netscape look gentle by comparison. Although Novell and Redmond reached a settlement after a year of talks on Netware, with Microsoft paying Novell half a billion dollars in reparations, the two were unable to reach an agreement about the office applications. Novell alleges that Microsoft withheld technical information about Windows, integrated specific technologies to exclude WordPerfect "from relevant markets", and put the squeeze on OEMs not to bundle the suite. Microsoft's tactics have been exhaustively documented in both the FTC's and the DoJ's antitrust cases against Microsoft. The task usually fell to Reg favorite Joachin Kempin, Microsoft's unfailingly charming OEM enforcer. "vERY CLEAR TO ME; nO CHICAGO, NO COOPERATION, no beta, no alpha code, total war", he wrote after he discovered that AST was going to launch a line of PCs bundled with OS/2. Chicago was Microsoft's internal code name for Windows 95. A colleague made haste with the instruction: " Pls add AST to the no-ship list for Chicago & Snowball materials," he added. (Ironically, Kempin is the only Microsoft executive to have been brought to justice: although in Joachin's case, it was for the offense of illegally shooting antelopes in Montana.) Novell had acquired DR DOS, widely believed to be a superior product to Microsoft's MS DOS, driving down the OEM fee. Caldera assumed the right to sue Microsoft and the two settled in January 2000, with Microsoft paying Caldera around $300m. In a typical fit of paranoia, Gates had identified Novell as the main threat to his desktop business, and the tactics discussed were as nasty as anything that subsequently emerged in the DoJ's trial. At one point in 1994, a staff toady recommended psyops tactics to Gates. "At yesterday's Exec Staff meeting you asked what else could be done to attack Novell/WP. At the Exec Retreat in Feb, I suggested that we should lock up the LDS Church [Latter Day Saints] (and BYU) [Brigham Young University] as a 100 per cent MS account. While this may not be Novell's or WP's largest account, it is certainly an emotionally and psychologically important account. Were we to own this account, we would inflict an incredible amount of FUD on the new Novell/WP. The influence of the LDS church in the Utah economy and culture is difficult to appreciate from a distance." Novell paid around $1bn for WordPerfect and Borland's Quattro Pro, but disposed of the assets at a knock down price three years later, with WordPerfect going for $170m. It's sometimes alleged that WordPerfect lost its share because of poor software rather than anti-competitive tactics - as if the two are mutually exclusive. The WordPerfect Corporation dominated the DOS word processing market but had botched the 1991 introduction of a Windows version with a product that was widely regarded as shoddy. But by 1995, it had licked it into shape. In truth we'll never know whether WordPerfect and Quattro could have succeeded on their merits in the marketplace: because Microsoft never allowed Novell a clean fight. ® Related stories Sun deputizes Versora for Microsoft attack Why MS paid Novell half a billion bucks today Novell fires counterblast at Ballmer Linux summary
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Nov 2004