25th > November > 2004 Archive

Don't offshore, pay us instead

Companies looking to save money by offshoring would make bigger savings by looking at the processes behind their software development. Erich Gerber, chief executive of Interactive Objects, a German consultancy, believes Model Driven Architecture (MDA) can cut as much as 40 per cent from the cost of developing software. But offshoring a software development project can only cut 30 to 35 per cent from the total budget. A survey of CIOs reveals that 67 per cent of them do not know any alternative strategies to offshoring. Although a third of British companies are expected to have at least some offshore projects by next year IT directors are still worried by offshoring. Hidden costs are expected by 76 per cent of survey respondents and just over half cite intellectual property concerns over offshoring. MDA is a set of standards for software development which aims to avoid some of the common pitfalls. Gerber believes that investing more time in the design stage of any project can reduce testing times and improve the quality of applications produced. Sandards were agreed four years ago and the technology is now ready for the mass market, he says. "We are leaving the early adopters stage and moving to market adoption. I see this with customers and potential customers, and you can see it in reports from research companies like Butler Group. Other companies are getting involved too - Microsoft, IBM and CA - even if they call it different things." Gerber expects Europe and the US to "be ahead in technology adoption for some time to come" so doesn't expect to have to compete with Indian firms using MDA just yet. Indian firms already using MDA feel free to email me.... The survey was carried out by Vanson Bourne, which spoke to 100 CIOs at companies with more than 1,000 employees. More details on MDA are available on the Object Management Group's website. ® Related stories Java and DRM key to mobile ambitions OptimalJ proves its case Oracle seeks to align Eclipse with Sun's Java
John Oates, 25 Nov 2004

Ecommerce to rocket in 2005

Online businesses in the UK are forecasting that revenues will grow by 36 per cent next year, according to new figures. The figures, released by Media group Cybersource International, also show that 20m shoppers will have spent £17bn online this year, leading the group to project that by 2009 25 per cent of shopping will be conducted over the web. However, such a boom in ecommerce has led to increasing concern among businesses over the issue of security. Fifty six oper cent of UK respondents believe the problem of online fraud will become more serious for them in 2005, compared to 49 per cent in the U.S. In addition, due to the 60 per cent who believe online criminals are becoming more sophisticated, UK merchants are declining their orders by 6 per cent in fear of fraud. Address verification and card security codes are currently the most widely used methods of managing online fraud in the UK. In addition, 17 per cent of respondents intend to implement more sophisticated fraud screening tools. Nathan Jackson, Cybersource managing director, said: "75 per cent of respondents believe the successful rollout of Chip & PIN in the UK will force more fraudsters to turn their attention to online crime." The group says that one in five UK transactions requires reviewing, but 39 per cent of businesses have no automated systems in place. Manual reviewing is labour intensive and therefore costly for businesses, especially as 28 per cent see the need to hire more staff in 2005 to handle the workload. Mark McMurtrie, marketing director of Retail Logic, said: "Sales are projected to grow up to 36 per cent. This implies that most merchants will need to improve productivity to keep up with sales growth. Yet with each manual check requiring three minutes on average, they simply won't be able to cope with demand. Therefore, automated systems are an obvious answer." Copyright © 2004, Related stories Ecommerce getting cheaper and easier Complacent UK corporates 'easy meat' for crooks European online sales to outpace US
Startups.co.uk, 25 Nov 2004
For Sale sign detail

Q3 chip production up despite downturn

More chip-making equipment effectively stood idle during Q3 2004 than Q2 as worldwide capacity utilisation rates fell, the Semiconductor International Capacity Statistics (SICAS) organisation reported this week. But it offered a sign that the downturn may not be as bad as the utilisation figures suggest: since so much of the un-utilised plant comprised new production lines, even as overall utilisation rates fell, chip production was up. According to SICAS, industry-wide capacity utilisation hit 92.7 per cent in Q3, down on Q2's 95.4 per cent and Q1's figure, 93.4 per cent. By contrast, Q3 2003's utilisation was just 85.9 per cent. Despite the decline in utilisation, production - measured in the number of wafers entering the manufacturing process - was up 0.7 percentage points on Q2 and up 13.6 per cent on Q3 2003. The discrepancy arises from a 10.6 per cent sequential increase in 300mm wafer production capacity, pushing 300mm capacity utilisation down to 89.9 per cent from 95.7 per cent in Q2 and 92.1 per cent in Q1. Chip foundries had a bumper Q3 - as witnessed by TSMC and UMC's Q3 results - with utilisation rates down from 99.4 per cent in Q2 to 97.7 per cent in Q3, but still well above the industry average. The equivalent figure for Q1 was 98.7 per cent. During Q3, foundry production was up 8.2 per cent on Q2 and 41.9 per cent on Q3 2003. Above-average foundry performance suggests a much bigger drop in production at chip designer-manufacturers - aka integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), such as Intel, Samsung and co. The same goes for capacity utilisation. TSMC and UMC, the world's two largest foundries, have both warned that utilisation rates will fall during Q4 - by up to 20 per cent, TSMC reckons. By contrast, IDMs should see less of a decline in Q4, since they're better able to balance production across quarters because manufacturing is slightly less dependent on direct customer demand than is the case with foundries. ® Related stories Intel to retain top chip maker title on 04... Chip trade body revises 2004 sales downward September chip sales edge up 1% TSMC, UMC fab utilisation to plummet in Q4 ATI to spend $10m on Korean R&D plant Intel prepares to kill off last few 130nm P4s Intel CEO touts 'much improved' H1 '05 growth
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

More transparency will fuel egovernment

Greater transparency and implementation of best practice will help to fuel the growth of successful egovernment initiatives around the world. That's according to Marie Lowman, a speaker at The National eGovernment Summit 2004 which took place in Dublin on 23 and 24 November. The primary aim of the conference is to provide a forum where key parties within the egovernment sector can discuss developments and assess the challenges that lie ahead. "Egovernment in Europe has come a tremendous way in the past 12 months, but there is room for further growth," said Lowman, SAS EMEA regional business development manager for the public sector. She told ElectricNews.Net that the implementation of best practices and greater transparency will help to fuel this growth in the sector. But there are a number of challenges: current figures suggest that these are proving difficult to surmount for a large number of initiatives. According to the US Department of Labor, more than 70 per cent of government information technology implementations fail to meet expected outcomes. "Government's need to learn from each other and benchmark themselves against others in the sector that are implementing best practices," said Lowman. "A lot can also be learned from listening to those who will be using the service." One of the aims of egovernment is to open up the information channel to the public by allowing the people to become more involved in egovernment processes. Introducing egovernment services is supposed to increase satisfaction levels of citizens and businesses, she said. "End-users need to have a voice in how these initiatives are being run. "Some initiatives tend to judge success with the incorrect indicators Just because a service is provided online does not make it successful; the service needs to be used by the end-user and to provide them with a level of convenience that was not there before." A recent eGovernment Benchmarking Report compiled by IQ Content showed Irish egovernment websites coming up short in the accessibility and user satisfaction stakes. The survey sought to measure the performance of the websites from a user's perspective. "Most egovernment surveys assess the availability of transactional services as a mark of maturity - the more services online, the better the provision," the IQ Content report observed. "But amid the targets, progress reports and maturity surveys, there has been very little attention given to users." Lowman points to the need for more discussion forums and communication between all the concerned parties from government, public and private bodies to service providers and end users. Efficient evaluation programmes are also necessary to ensure that initiatives are assessed correctly, she said. Copyright © 2004, ENN Related stories UK.gov in scrap over school e-register patent UK.gov launches technology five-year plan Government IT laid bare
ElectricNews.net, 25 Nov 2004
For Sale sign detail

Q3 integrated graphics chip shipments soar

Graphics chip shipments jumped during Q3, market watcher Jon Peddie Research said yesterday. Shipments totalled 63.2m devices during the quarter, up 16.4 per cent on Q2's total, 54.3m. Despite the big overall increase, shipments of standalone chips for desktop graphics cards grew just 2.3 per cent, JPR said. Shipments of integrated desktop graphics chips were up 25.1 per cent, while their mobile equivalents were up 25.8 per cent, the researcher added. Recent Mercury Research figures confirm the strength of the integrated market, shown by Intel's commanding lead in the sector. Mercury's numbers put Intel's Q3 overall graphics chip market share at 39 per cent. ATI came second, with 27 per cent of the market, while third-place Nvidia took 15 per cent. The integrated sector remains in Intel's bag, with the chip giant taking 61 per cent of the mobile arena and 66 per cent of the desktop market. ATI was on 26 per cent and two per cent, respectively. Nvidia has two per cent of the desktop integrated market, not being a player in the mobile side of the integrated business. In the standalone graphics chip segment, in which Intel does not operate, ATI took 59 per cent of the market, while Nvidia share was 37 per cent. ® Related stories ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets Intel to retain top chip maker title on 04... Nvidia beats Street with Q3 sales hike Intel lost 6.7% chipset market share in Q3 ATI Q4 sales, income rocket ATI rolls out X300, X800 mobile GPUs Nvidia signs Intel bus licence deal Nvidia ships mobile GeForce 6800 ATI unveils integrated, discrete Radeon Xpress chipsets
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

Hacking tool 'draws FBI subpoenas'

The author of the popular freeware hacking tool Nmap warned users this week that FBI agents are increasingly seeking access to information from the server logs of his download site, insecure.org. "I may be forced by law to comply with legal, properly served subpoenas," wrote "Fyodor," the 27-year-old Silicon Valley coder responsible for the post scanning tool, in a mailing list message. "At the same time, I'll try to fight anything too broad... Protecting your privacy is important to me, but Nmap users should be savvy enough to know that all of your network activity leave traces." Probably the most widely-used freeware hacking tool, Nmap is a sophisticated port scanner that sends packets to a machine, or a network of machines, in an attempt to discern what services are running and to make an educated guess about the operating system. An Nmap port scan is a common prelude to an intrusion attempt, and the tool is popular both with security professionals performing penetration tests, and genuine intruders with mischief in their hearts. Last year Nmap crept into popular culture when the movie the Matrix Reloaded depicted Carrie-Anne Moss's leather-clad superhacker Trinity performing an Nmap portscan on a power grid computer prior to hacking in. But success comes with a price, and on Tuesday Fyodor felt the need to broach the "sobering topic" of FBI subpoenas with his users. He advised his most privacy conscious users to use proxy servers or other techniques when downloading the latest version of Nmap if they want to ensure their anonymity. In a telephone interview, Fyodor said the disclaimer wasn't prompted by any particular incident, and that he'd received "less than half-a-dozen" subpoenas this year. "It's not a huge number, but I hadn't received any before 2004, and so it's a striking new issue," he said. None of the subpoenas produced anything, Fyodor says, either because they sought old information that had already been deleted from his logs, or because the subpoenas were improperly served. In every case the request has been narrowly crafted, usually directed at finding out who visited the site in a very short window of time, such as a five minute period. "They have not made any broad requests like, 'Give me anyone who's visited insecure.org for a certain day,'" he says. Fyodor theorizes the FBI is investigating cases in which an intruder downloaded Nmap directly onto a compromised machine. "They assume that she might have obtained that URL by visiting the Nmap download page from her home computer," he wrote. He confesses mixed feelings over the issue. "The side of me that questions authority is skeptical of these subpoenas," he told SecurityFocus. "The other side says, this may be a very serious crime committed ... and if I were the victim of such a crime I would probably want people to cooperate" Copyright © 2004, Related stories Indymedia server grab - Home Office knew, but isn't telling Indymedia: the tale of the servers 'nobody' seized Indymedia seizures: a trawl for Genoa G8 trial cover-up? Servers seized by FBI returned - but who wanted what? How to kill a website with one email
Kevin Poulsen, 25 Nov 2004

Lastminute.com floored by increased losses

Shares in Lastminute.com dipped sharply this morning after the online travel business reported a whopping increase in losses. The company admitted that its performance had "fallen short of expectations" and blamed the £77.2m pre-tax loss (up from a loss of £47.7m in 2003) on recent acquisitions. Turnover for the year jumped 130 per cent to £440m from £191m. Said boss Brent Hoberman: "Whilst demonstrating continued improvements in most key metrics our financial performance has fallen short of expectations. Our acquisition strategy has given us the necessary scale to compete across our core European market but this has come at the expense of a higher cost base." He said the integration of these businesses "is underway" and that Lastminute.com has "identified significant cost savings that we will deliver in 2005 ... The underlying performance of the lastminute.com brand remains robust with 58.2 per cent organic growth in the year, and a record 2.9mn customers throughout the Group in the year." In early trading Lastminute.com shares were down 15.75p (13 per cent) at 104p. Separately, UK internet bank Egg has confirmed that it is to sell its loss-making French division to ING Direct France. The sale will transfer 45,000 savings and investment accounts to ING Direct France and lead to the "redeployment of up to 40 of Egg's 450 French workforce". ® Related stories Lastminute.com chairman calls it quits Lastminute seeks £13m savings Lastminute.com axes 350 jobs Lastminute buys German doppelganger Egg finally flees France
Tim Richardson, 25 Nov 2004

Broadcom sues seven over 'stolen' chip secrets

Wireless chip maker Broadcom has accused start-up MagiComm Technology Inc. of engaging in "a well-orchestrated, international scheme to steal from Broadcom trade secrets" - allegations MagiComm's legal representative described as "fallacious and inflammatory". Broadcom has launched legal action against three current and four former employees it claims attempted to pilfer Broadcom technology to fuel MagiComm's product development efforts, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuits, filed on 3 November in the US District Court for Santa Ana, claims one Leo Li, until 5 October this year a senior director within Broadcom's Mobile Communications Division, and three other ex-Broadcom staffers not only took mobile phone chip technology secrets with them when they quit in order to run MagiComm, but also attempted to use those secrets to take business away from their former employer. As evidence, Broadcom claims to possess a number of emails sent from MagiComm to a Broadcom employee. The emails, it says, attempt to persuade the employee to send its chip designs to the start-up. However, Li's lawyer, Brad Blocker, told AP that Broadcom had got it wrong. MagiComm is not in the business to competing with Broadcom, he said, but to design mobile phone handsets based on Broadcom's technology. All seven individuals cited in Broadcom's lawsuit joined the company in 2002 when it acquired Mobilink Telecom for $258m. Mobilink was bought to kick-start Broadcom's own entry into the mobile phone chip market. ® Related stories Broadcom nicks Philips boss Broadcom reveals 'VoIP over Wi-Fi' chipset Broadcom simplifies Wi-Fi security set-up Broadcom acquires Sand Video Toshiba takes Hynix to task in patent clash Graphics patent holder sues Sony, MS, Nintendo LG, Matsushita trade lawsuits in PDP patent clash Lexmark suffers setback in DMCA case Nvidia accused of patent violation Cornice countersues Western Digital
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

Oracle must wait for poison pill decision

Oracle's proposed takeover of Peoplesoft has hit another barrier. A Delaware judge has delayed his final ruling over Peoplesoft's poison pill defence, saying that he needs to hear more evidence. Judge Leo Strine said he wanted to hear why the Peoplesoft board had rejected Oracle's most recent bid of $24 per share. Peoplesoft's shareholders have voted to accept the bid, but the board rejected it. It says it will not sell the company for less than it is worth, and that the current bid undervalues the company. In its defence against Oracle's hostile takeover bid, Peoplesoft promised to give its customers rebates worth between two and five times their licensing fees, in the event of a takeover. The deal, which represents a liability of at least $800m, would begin if the company is bought in the next two years, and if support for product lines is reduced within four years. Oracle wants the court to overturn the measures. In its suit, it claims that the measures are unlawful because then-CEO Craig Conway misled investors. The Delaware court is thought unlikely to overturn the Peoplesoft board. Which leaves Oracle with the much more time-consuming and expensive option of a proxy battle to gain seats on the board. Yesterday, Oracle announced that will nominate four candidates for election to Peoplesoft's Board of Directors. That vote will take place at PeopleSoft's 2005 annual stockholders meeting. Jeff Henley, Oracle's Chairman of the Board said: "We believe that the current board of PeopleSoft is not acting in the best interests of stockholders and that a large majority of those stockholders are in favor of a change." Judge Strine has pencilled the hearing in for 13 or 14 December, but declined to say when he would make his final ruling. ® Related stories Oracle v. Peoplesoft round-up PeopleSoft holds firm It's War! - PeopleSoft investors side with Oracle PeopleSoft threatens to sue Oracle
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Nov 2004

Warning: critical Winamp vuln

Security researchers are warning of a serious - and unfixed - security hole with the popular Winamp media player. A remotely exploitable stack based buffer overflow creates a means for hackers to take over machines running Winamp- providing they can trick users into running maliciously constructed files. For example, a malformed .m3u playlist file, hosted on a web site, would be automatically downloaded and opened in Winamp without any user interaction. The vulnerability, discovered by pen testers at Security-Assessment.com, arises from a buffer overflow in library file (called IN_CDDA.dll) used by Winamp. The vulnerability has been reported in version 5.05 and confirmed in version 5.06. Prior versions might also be affected, security firm Secunia warns. A proof of concept exploit was released yesterday by security outfit K-OTik. K-otik advises users to uninstall Winamp or at the very least disassociate .cda and .m3u extensions from Winamp until the bug is fixed. ® Related stories AOL axes Nullsoft - whither Winamp, Shoutcast? WinAmp flayed by skins attack XP audio vuln shout goes out Related links Security-Assessment.com's advisory (PDF)
John Leyden, 25 Nov 2004

MS offers real Windows XP to users of counterfeit software

A Microsoft UK replacement scheme for pirate copies of Windows XP suggests the company is testing the waters to see how feasible it is to convert sections of its unlicensed user base to legitimate users. The scheme is however limited at the moment - to the UK, and to copies sold pre-installed on a new computer prior to 1st November. There are however clear signs that Microsoft considered running the offer for standalone retail product before taking a step back. The instructions, for example, say at several points that you should send in "the product" without adding any 'if available' qualification, and in most cases with OEM Windows preinstalled on a PC you're not actually going to have a product apart from the PC itself. Similarly, the boilerplate witness statement looks very much like a witness statement written on the assumption that it will be applied to a standalone software package. Clearly Microsoft needs to clarify the online instructions, given that the confusion they're likely to cause will affect the uptake rate. A Microsoft spokeswoman suggested to The Register this morning that the witness statement is likely to be a general one used by Microsoft for pirate software reporting, but if that's the case it's still not very helpful. Microsoft does have a long term and wide-ranging ambition to turn the very large numbers of users of counterfeit Windows into legitimate users. At the same time, it wants to hunt down the companies selling new PCs with pirate software on board, the (probably sensible) rationale here being that if this channel for pirate software is throttled then quite a lot of the problem will go away. Quite a lot of people will end up with pirate Windows installations via this route and either won't know or won't care, whereas a lot less people are likely to go to the trouble of of downloading and installing software when they've already got something on the PC. So one of the questions here is whether it's more important with the current offer for Microsoft to legitimise the users, or more important to obtain leads and evidence that will allow it to take action against the sources. Or possibly, even to just frighten a reasonable percentage of the sources into cleaning their acts up. Aside from being limited by the confusion factor, volume licence purchasers are excluded, as are people under 18 (which is perhaps a bit thoughtless, but is likely to be related to the validity of the witness statement) and "employees of Microsoft or its affiliates" (come on, would they really dare?). The offer itself expires at the end of next month, but you can make up to five submissions per person. There isn't much obvious advantage in the offer from the user's point of view, as first you have to use the standard Microsoft process to check whether or not your software is genuine, then collate any accompanying documentation, invoice or receipt, and the witness statement, then send it all to Microsoft. Then they might send you back a copy of the real software - unless there are other factors at play, then it's a bit of work for little obvious return. Probably, vast numbers of people will not stampede to take this up, and we would not be surprised if the cost of the support phone calls far exceeds the other costs of the programme. There are however signs of where Microsoft would like to be with this kind of operation, as opposed to where it is at the moment. Its product identification guide for example claims that there's an "Is this copy of Windows legal?" link in Windows Explorer's help menu. Your writer failed to find this, and kept getting kicked into the Help Center instead, but readers tell me it exists, so no doubt it's me. Finding myself ignorant of bits of Windows always cheers me up anyway. The Windows Genuine Advantage scheme potentially provides another component of an online legitimisation service. Here Microsoft is experimenting with easy terms validation in exchange for downloads and sundry special offers, and you could see how this could be expanded into a kind of combination carrot and stick system. You can envisage an ideal (from Microsoft's point of view) world where software was authenticated online, where support and fixes were conditional on the software either being legitimate or legitimised, and where the penetration of pirate copies of Windows was at least substantially reduced. How do you get there from here, though? Microsoft is clearly testing the waters, but really all that means is that it's trying to find out how. ®
John Lettice, 25 Nov 2004

Danon quits BT

BT retail boss Pierre Danon is jumping ship to take the top job at Cap Gemini. The move to chief operating officer of the IT services company is a promotion for Danon and sees him return to France. Danon joined BT as chief executive of BT Retail, BT's consumer facing division, in October 2000 and was appointed to the board in November 2001. During that time he has been forced to protect BT's sliding market share against fierce competition from rival operators. Despite this, he has overseen "a significant increase in profits and cash flow within BT Retail...[while] costs have been reduced by £800m" said the telco in a statement. But his tenure at BT has not been without incident. Most recently, there were widespread reports of a rift between Danon and the company's other bigwigs - chairman Sir Christopher Bland and group chief exec Ben Verwaayen - over future strategy. Even though the company denied there was any tension at the top, reports emerged of boardroom rows. In January Mr Danon was linked to an "increasingly acrimonious power struggle" at the company. His departure, expected to be early in the new year, comes at a testing time for BT, which has been given just three months to change the way it operates or face the threat of being broken up. Commenting on Danon's departure, one employee told The Register: "I have only met Pierre a few times but have found his leadership clear, his focus undiminished and his success generally positive." Another insider told us: "He won't be missed." ® Related stories BT cool on board rift speculation BT execs in bitter row report BT faces life-changing three months
Tim Richardson, 25 Nov 2004

Napster nips into newsagents

Napster UK today continued its pursuit of lesser net-worth individuals than arch-rival Apple is chasing by signing a deal to sell its music download vouchers in papershops and convenience stores throughout the nation. Over 1000 McColl's, Martin's, Forbuoys, RS McColl and Dillons shops, all part of the TM Retail group, will stock Napster Music Vouchers from today. Green vouchers provide two and four months' access to Napster's £10-a-month subscription service for £20 and £35, respectively. Blue vouchers costing £10, £20 and £30 can be used, respectively, for ten, 22 and 33 one-off downloads. The TM Retail deal comes after Napster vouchers went on sale earlier this month throughout the UK's chain of around 15,500 loss-making Post Offices and, in October, through Dixons Group's more profitable Dixons, Currys, PC World and The Link shops. All these generally target demographic groups not traditionally seen a big music customers. Napster sees such chains as a key way of attracting consumers without credit cards - much as Inspired Broadcast Networks is gearing its digital music vending machines at the cash economy. But with the digital music market being driven by device purchases rather than the other way round, it's questionable how many owners of pricey MP3 players are going to prefer buying songs via the Post Office or a newsagent than online. "For those who may be unfamiliar with the Internet or perhaps don't have a credit card, Napster vouchers offer a very easy route to the Napster service," said Napster UK chief Leanne Sharman. The trouble is, surely, online music sales demand a considerable familiarity with the Internet? ® Related stories Dixons offers Napster UK pre-pay cards Napster pays BestBuy $10m to promote music service NTL signs up Napster Napster UK goes live Napster to announce 'partnership' with NTL Dixons signs Napster promo exclusive Digital music download coin-op to offer 'all formats, all DRMs' Tesco opens digital music store Woolworths to take on Apple iTunes store
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

Novell, CCIA evidence may be tossed out in MS EC case

A European judge is to hold a closed-door meeting today to discuss the lifting of sanctions by the EU in its anti-trust ruling against Microsoft. Judge Bo Vesterdorf of the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. has called the meeting to discuss the future of the case, following the withdrawal of Novell and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). In March this year the European Commission ruled that Microsoft had abused its dominance of the PC market. The EC imposed sanctions on the company including a fine of nearly $650m, instructions that it publish details of its Application Programming Interfaces and provide a version of Windows without Windows Media Player. However, since Microsoft settled suits with the CCIA and with Novell, both organisations have withdrawn from the anti-trust case. The departure of the CCIA is particularly contentious. Around half of the $20m settlement is alleged to have gone directly to the group's president, Ed Black. Nokia confirmed that it had quit the organisation in protest of the settlement, describing the process and content of the settlement as "inappropriate". Black himself denied that the CCIA had been bought, saying that the CCIA has not switched sides. According to The Guardian Judge Vesterdorf wants to discuss how to treat evidence from those parties that have quit the case. Although many smaller groups such as the Free Software Foundation are still pressing the case against the software giant, Real Networks is the only remaining corporate opponent. Without the evidence from the CCIA and Novell, the settlement may be renegotiated. Judge Vesterdorf is expected to rule soon on whether the penalties imposed on Microsoft should be suspended, while the company appeals against the ruling. ® Related stories MS rewards reformed critic with $10m MS latest: Nokia quits trade group in disgust Why MS paid Novell half a billion bucks today
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Nov 2004

SCO board member flees

Long-standing SCO board member Thomas Raimondi is stepping down. Raimondi joined the SCO board in September 1999, but says he is now too busy in his full-time job as CEO of MTI Technology Corp. So no disagreement there: Raimondi remains in lockstep with the rest of the board over SCO's attempt to extract IP royalties from Linux world+dog. In his valedictory statement he says: ""It has been an honor to serve on The SCO Group's Board of Directors. I continue to support the Company's strategy and wish the Company continued success." SCO has places for eight board directors. It aims to announce a replacement for Raimondi at the 2005 annual meeting of shareholders. ®
Drew Cullen, 25 Nov 2004

PCCW hits back at wireless broadband roll-out report

PCCW has shrugged off reports that it has ditched plans for a nation-wide roll-out of its wireless broadband service in the UK insisting it never committed to a countrywide roll-out of the service. According to the FT, PCCW is backing away from ambitious plans to roll-out its wireless broadband service because it would be too expensive. UK Broadband - the wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong telecoms giant PCCW - soft launched its wireless broadband service in May this year. The Netvigator service - which costs £18 a month for a 512k service - was made available initially in the Thames Valley. Speaking to The Register, Joan Wagner, director of corporate communications at PCCW said: "When we launched in May we said we were evaluating six or more roll-out scenarios ranging from coverage in one area - through to rolling out to 75 per cent of UK households. "Since then, the company has had very good feedback from the soft launch, in terms of proving the technology and achieving market share and we will progressively extend our coverage in the UK, taking a prudent and managed approach." Although PCCW is planning the next phase of its roll-out and looking to expand into a different area, so far it's keeping that under wraps. "I can't say where, we don't want to tip off the competition," Wagner said. ® Related stories PCCW launches UK wireless broadband PCCW opens kimono (a little) on UK broadband wireless plans Why PCCW is laughing all the way to the bank
Tim Richardson, 25 Nov 2004

Infinium chases further funding for Phantom

Infinium Labs, the company behind the highly hyped Phantom games console and similarly named online service, needs to find $11.5m if it's to go ahead with the launch. The confession is made in its latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In the document, Infinium reveals it will have to spend $22.2m in the next 12 month in order to execute its "current business strategy". "We estimate we will need approximately $11.5m to launch the Phantom Game Service and sell the first 10,000 units of the Phantom Game Receiver", the company says. "After launch, we estimate that we will need approximately $10.7m to achieve cash flow break-even." In addition, the company said it anticipates having to spend a further $20.2m over the next 16 months promoting the console and the service it connects to. The problem Infinium faces is that, as of 30 September, it had just $20,991 in the bank, leaving it with a very considerable cash shortfall to make up if the launch is to proceed as planned. The company said it has hired SG Capital to help it raise the funding it requires, and indicated that it was already talking to a number of potential backers. It also plans to discuss a debt-for-equity scheme with its current creditors. But it warned: "If we are unsuccessful in raising capital or we do not launch the Phantom Game Service when currently planned, we will need to curtail our proposed spending." The Phantom console and service were due to launch this month, but in September this year it put the release back to Q2 2005 at the request of "marketing and retail partners" unhappy with that timeframe - no great surprise, given the strength of both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 holiday offerings, not to mention the debut of the Nintendo DS in the same period. To be fair, SEC filings tend to paint an overly negative picture, the better to avoid the risk of annoying shareholders. Infinium's business plan is unlikely to be predicated on such an early break-even date, given the sheer cost of developing, manufacturing, distributing and promoting a new hardware platform. Even this likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft don't expect hardware sales to pay for themselves for a very long time, if at all. However, those companies have significant internal financial resources to call upon, and that's what Infinium lacks. It really is dependent on winning funding for a significant chunk of the $40m-odd it expects to spend over the next year if it's to stand a chance of launching Phantom and building a sustainable business on the back of it. ® Related stories Infinium Phantom delayed Infinium to launch $199 Athlon XP console 18 Nov Ex-Infinium exec sues company... Infinium Labs countersues HardOCP HardOCP takes big stick to Infinium Infinium Labs gets litigious with HardOCP Infinium Labs names key executives To Infinium and beyond: Kevin Bachus talks Phantom
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

NTT DoCoMo, mmO2 to 'partner' on UK i-mode

British mobile phone network O2 will launch an i-mode service next year after licensing the technology from Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo, newspaper reports have claimed. O2 parent mmO2 is certainly considering an i-mode implementation. Chief executive Peter Erskine recently said the company would come to a decision by the end of the year on whether to adopt the mobile Internet technology. Today's Nihon Keizai Shimbun report suggests that the decision to proceed has now been taken with a view to a mid-2005 launch. The paper said that mmO2 and DoCoMo have now agreed on the terms and nature of a licensing agreement, though it's not clear whether a deal has been signed. A separate Financial Times report claims the two companies will announce the deal next week. Britain remains the only European country without an i-mode based service. While the technology was central to Japan's adoption of mobile phone Internet services, in Europe the rise of the GPRS packet data extensions to GSM networks and weak support for i-mode from handset vendors has hindered the technology's adoption here. In Japan, some 43m subscribers use i-mode. Compare that to the 3m i-mode users in Europe, a very small figure in spite of the fact that i-mode didn't arrive here until 2002, three years after its Japanese debut. DoCoMo has been talking to UK networks about bring i-mode to Britain since deciding to abandon hopes that 3G network 3 - in which it had a 20 per cent stake until May this year - would offer the technology. ® Related stories mmO2 looks set for first ever dividend mmO2 eyes German i-mode service mmO2 ups sales forecasts mmo2 numbers are up mmO2 hunts prepaids with German coffee chain DoCoMo hunts for UK partner
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

Nintendo to spill Euro DS plans in January

Nintendo will tell European gamers when it can get their hands on its new DS console in January, the company's UK general manager said yesterday. They'll also learn how much they can expect to pay for it, Nintendo's UK chief, David Yanton, added, according to a GamesIndustry.biz report. The Nintendo DS launched in the US and Canada this week, and will go on sale in Japan next week - just ahead of Sony's PlayStation Portable debut on 12 December. So far the console company has not commented on when the two-screen handheld will appear in Europe. Early reports suggested it had chosen the week commencing 18 March 2005 for the launch - said to be the date on which the PSP will ship over here too. Current speculation centres on the DS' price, said to be £130 - rather more than the price of the machine in North America, $150 (£80). ® Related stories Nintendo unveils DS launch titles Nintendo aims high with low-cost console Nintendo redesigns DS handheld console Sony, Nintendo pick March '05 for Euro console launch Nintendo DS: more communicator than console? Sony to ship PlayStation Portable for under $200 Nintendo plots next-gen console 'Revolution'
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

PalmOne to give Treo 650 users 128MB SD cards

PalmOne has pledged to provide every Treo 650 owner with a free 128MB memory card until it can fix a memory issue that has drawn a significant number of complaints from early adopters. The problem also affects Tungsten T5 users, but PalmOne focused its attention on its top-of-the-line smart phone product, which contains only 32MB of RAM to the T5's 256MB. Both, is said, have ample memory for new users, but it accepted that anyone upgrading from a Treo 600 to the 650 might run into difficulty. The issue arises from company's decision to equip both devices with Flash rather than SDRAM, to ensure data isn't lost even if the device runs out of battery power. Both the Treo 650 and the T5 use a special file allocation system for data stored in Flash. That's fine as it goes, but the size of each block in which data can currently be stored to is 512B. The upshot is that files smaller than 512B still take up that amount of Flash, the result being that files copied to the new machines suddenly appear rather larger than they are. It's a problem hard drive upgraders used to see when they copy files over to new, much more capacious drives, which invariably had larger block sizes than their smaller predecessors. However, here the issue could be addressed by re-partioning the drive into smaller sections, which usually resulted in a smaller block size. To solve the problem, PalmOne said it would offer a ROM update that will "increase memory use efficiency to allow users to recapture most of the non-volatile file system (NVFS) overhead space currently lost to them" - in other words, reduce the block size. In the meantime, it said it will next month offer Treo 650 users a gratis 128MB SD card to use if they find their machines running short of memory. It did not offer any further details of the scheme, simply noting that full details will be posted on the Treo 650 support website "early December". ® Related stories Treo 650 delayed till February PalmOne launches Treo 650 PalmOne updates Tungsten T5 firmware PalmOne to launch 'big RAM' Tungsten PalmOne preps Bluetooth GPS bundle PalmOne chops PDA prices RIM rises as PalmOne slides in Euro device market Related reviews PalmOne Tungsten T5 PalmOne Wi-Fi SD Card
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

Exeter uni cans chemistry department

In a move that has been dubbed as 'disastrous' by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Exeter University is to drop the teaching of chemistry as a subject. 130 staff are to be made redundant after the university said that the department was losing £3m a year. The university's music and Italian departments will also be closed. The announcement comes in spite of a 21 per cent rise in applications to the university this year, with five students competing for every place, the Independent reports. The university blamed the decision on a change in funding by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Exeter university's chemistry department was awarded four stars out of five by Higher Education Funding Council for England. This meant that it received £21,000 per academic, less than half of the £46,000 per academic provided to the university's five-star physics department. The university has said that it will be offering staff short-term contracts on courses until they end, to allow current students to complete their programmes. However, Students fear that the measures will force them to finish their courses at other universities, as staff may not want to continue at a department with no future. "None of the lecturers I have spoken to want to return," a student told BBC News. Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, has expressed concern over the closures and has asked members of the Cabinet to submit lists of "subjects of strategic national importance". In the past decade 10 university chemistry courses have closed. The Royal Society of Chemistry predicts that between six and 20 will still be open in a decade's time. ® Related stories UK prof pioneers new LCD screen system Oxford Uni 'hackers' suspended Turing honoured with bronze statue
Robin Lettice, 25 Nov 2004

Smart phone predicts owner's behaviour

US boffins are developing mobile phones which learn user's daily habits so that they can become "mobile digital secretaries". Going beyond the calendar feature common in many current mobiles, the "smarter smartphone" learns about people's preferences by logging calls and noting when application like cameras are used. Location-based functions allow the phone to keep record where you work and socialise. The phone also makes note of Bluetooth pairing bonds, in theory allowing it to build a profile of who you socialise with. This information would be sent to a server which processes data and returns suggestions or reminders. Beyond predictive texting the phone is touted as a device that predicts what you will do. The New Scientist reports possible applications include reminding you not to drink too much the night before an important presentation. Some people might balk as the idea of being monitored - and nagged - by their personal technology. But US scientists reckon they've hit on a winner. The technology is the brainchild of Nathan Eagle and Sandy Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The system is based on mobile messaging software called Context, written by developers at the University of Helsinki and Helsinki Institute of Technology led by Mika Raento. The software build a profile of user's routine by asking them what they're up to when they come into range of a new mobile mast. The New Scientist reports that the software has been installed on 100 of Nokia 6600 smartphones in a trial involving MIT students. Data is downloaded onto a server at MIT and processed using pattern recognition software. Boffins reckon the phone can help students work out how long they have spent partying and working in a week or how long it is since they last saw a friend. It might even be able to work out the strength of a friendship. Results from the trial could be useful to researchers investigating how social networks build as well as technologists, New Scientist reports. ® Related stories Nokia guns for PDA, home surveillance rivals Fujitsu and Nokia team up for mobile services gNokia 6600 smart phone
John Leyden, 25 Nov 2004

Finland threatens to scrap Tele2 3G licence

Tele2 could lose its 3G licence for Finland, because of delays in building its network. Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications this week told Suomen 3G, the Tele 2 owned-operator, that it had until 7 January to explain its tardiness. "If the clarification is not satisfactory, the company's license could be canceled," it said in a statement, Reuters reports. "A license does not mean that a company just has the right the build a (3G) network, but that the company also has an obligation to build it," Leena Luhtanen, minister of communications, said. Finland's 3G licencees are obliged to build a network covering 35 per cent of the country's population. ® Related stories Tele2 slips 3G into Sweden Tele2 slams BT over switching claims Orange flogs Swedish 3G licence
Drew Cullen, 25 Nov 2004

Last shout on the Inova Microlight keyring

Cash'n'CarrionCash'n'Carrion We're clearing the decks here at Cash'n'Carrion in anticipation of some fresh lines in the new year and have decided to knock a couple of quid off the compact and bijou Inova Microlight keyring. What's more, we're offering free P&P on this while stocks last, so the price you see is the price you pay. As is the local custom, we'll let the blurb do the talking: Compact yet punching well above its weight, the Inova keyring Microlight's LED will give more than 15 hours use from two lithium watch batteries (included). The Microlight is manufactured from crush-resistant polycarbonate housing a gold-plated switch which actives the torch with a quick squeeze of thumb and forefinger. Available in four LED colours - blue, green, red and white for £7.65 (£8.99 inc VAT and delivery). Marvellous. And if that doesn't take your fancy, there are plenty more illuminating products in our torch section, including the Inova X-5 and Streamlight Ultra Stinger. As someone famous once said - let there be light. ® Last Cash'n'Carrion Xmas order dates The last order dates for pre-Xmas delivery of Cash'n'Carrion goodies are as follows: South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa. Middle East, New Zealand, Australia - Sunday 5 December Japan, USA, Canada, Eastern Europe - Thursday 9 December Western Europe - Sunday 12 December UK - Wednesday 15th December
Cash'n'Carrion, 25 Nov 2004

Eidos does due diligence on would-be buyers

UK games publisher Eidos has formally begun looking into the backgrounds of possible suitors, the company said today, having whittled down the list of prospective partners to those it believes have a good chance of proposing. The announcement marks the latest stage in the attempt by Eidos' management to seek a buyer, the conclusion of a strategic review carried out by the company's board and revealed in June this year. In August, Eidos confirmed it was talking to a number of parties concerning the sale. Since then, it said today, it has held "preliminary discussions on a confidential basis with short listed candidates as well as with certain other interested parties who approached us directly". Naturally enough the company isn't willing to comment on the identities of anyone it has held such a conversation with. However, it has now begun the due diligence process with "certain of these parties". Behind the need for a sale lies Eidos' red balance sheet. In the year to 30 June 2004, the publisher lost £2m - down from income of £17.4m the previous year - on an 11.6 per cent decline in turnover to £133.9m. Part of the problem is Eidos' ongoing inability to get major releases out of the door on time. ShellShock: Nam '67 has sold 800,000 units since its September release, Eidos said, but then the game was supposed to have shipped back in June this year. Likewise, Eidos' big pre-Christmas release, the latest in the Championship Manager series, has been put back from October 2004 to sometime between January and June, the company said. Other top-league titles coming up in the second half of Eidos' fiscal year include the next instalment of the long-in-the-tooth Tomb Raider series and a sequel to Hitman. The company admitted that the outlook for the company continues to be "challenging", and it tacitly admitted that despite a wealth of talent, it simply hasn't had sufficient hits. Hence the need to join forces with a fellow publisher or developer who has. ® Related stories Eidos plunges into red Eidos confirms takeover talks Eidos issues profit warning Eidos snaps up IO Interactive Eidos profits defy Legacy of Kain
Tony Smith, 25 Nov 2004

LLU dogged by 'significant operational problems'

Local loop unbundling (LLU) - the process that enables rival companies to provide telecoms services direct to end users by-passing BT - is still dogged by difficulties. That's according to Peter Black, the independent Telecoms Adjudicator appointed in July to make LLU work in the UK. In an update published yesterday Mr Black noted that while some "significant milestones" have been passed, take-up of unbundled lines continues to disappoint: "Significant operational problems remain", he said, even though he acknowledged that BT is showing more willingness to engage in the LLU process. Wrote Mr Black: "We continue to have the support of the Industry and BT in moving the LLU capability forward. Order levels are climbing both for co-location and customer lines. Both are following the curves we expected, however the actual volumes are lagging slightly. Significant operational problems remain; however most operators see improvements and in particular the intensity of interest from senior BT management is having a noticeable and welcome impact." While not all the operational problems are down to BT, most are. Internal processes that were never meant to see the light of day are now being exposed to scrutiny. And it ain't pretty - underlining the depth and complexity of work that needs to be done to make LLU work. A major concern among operators is the fear that BT just can't handle a huge demand for unbundled lines. This is improving, but until LLU can be done on an industrial scale, mass market operators are unlikely to commit themselves if they face being hammered by administrative and operational cock-ups. Even so, there are currently around 24,000 unbundled lines in the UK with numbers swelling by around a thousand lines a week. Based on forecasts for the number of lines operators are looking to unbundle against the capability for BT to deliver those lines, the LLU regulator has outlined a number of key targets. By January 2005, for example, he wants BT to have the capability to unbundle 50,000 lines. By June, that figure rises to 250,000; a year later and BT should be able to deliver one million unbundled lines. Black concluded: "BT have demonstrated their 'intent to succeed', we must now move to the 'evidence and confidence of delivery' phase." ® Related stories LLU is 'uneconomic', says Energis Ofcom appoints Last Mile adjudicator Ofcom provokes unbundling battle BT cuts LLU costs UK Online unveils unbundled 8Mb broadband
Tim Richardson, 25 Nov 2004
DVD it in many colours

Dell eclipses Sun in server sales

Worldwide server revenue surpassed $11.8bn in the third quarter of 2004, six per cent up on last year, according to Gartner Dataquest. Server sales of commodity x86 servers showed the strongest growth in revenue. "This, along with the acceptance of Linux in additional application areas in the enterprise space will continue to drive demand," said Mike McLaughlin, principal analyst for Gartner. These trends helped Dell grow server revenue by 17 per cent, overtaking Sun Microsystems for the third spot in the server market with a share of 9.8 per cent against Sun's 9.5 per cent. IBM retained its leadership with a 32 per cent share of the server market, ahead of HP with a 27.6 per cent slice of the pie. The estimated revenue splits worked out as follows: IBM - $3.79bn, HP - $3.29bn, Dell - $1.16bn, Sun - $1.13bn, Fujitsu/Fujitsu-Siemens $652m and others - $1,825bn. WorldwideuUnit shipments were 1.6 million units, 16.3 per cent up on Q3 last year . Linux continued to be the growth leader in operating systems in both revenue (up 55.7 per cent from Q32003 to Q32004) and units (up 45.2 per cent). Windows gained another two points in market share in Q42004 compared to Q42003, earning 36.5 per cent of all revenue, or approximately $4.3bn for the quarter. Meanwhile, both Unix and “Other OS” categories continue their slow decline, with revenue falling 3.6 per cent for Unix, and 5.8 per cent for “Other OS” in the third quarter. In EMEA, the server market produced sales of $3.5bn in the third quarter of 2004, up three per cent on Q32003. The x86 category was also strong, with revenues up 18 per cent on last year. The higher end of the market was weaker, with the Unix market falling six per cent in revenues. ® Related stories Server makers shift more boxes than cash in Q2 Server vendors work hard for their money in Q1 HP calls in Gartner cheerleader for Opteron launch Itanium sales fall $13.4bn shy of $14bn forecast How MS will end the Dell - Intel love-in
John Leyden, 25 Nov 2004

Music giants feed the Wurld

A new agreement between a peer-to-peer network and the major music labels has created the first peer-to-peer file sharing network for licensed digital music. Wurld Media has concluded agreements with Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to facilitate the licensing of music exchanged on its peer-to-peer music network. The three music giants have agreed to license their music catalogue to the Peerimpact.com portal, which is Wurld Media's new peer-to-peer file-sharing network. The service is to be launched in the first quarter of 2005 and will distribute only licensed and public domain content. "Our objective has been to reach out to the consumer and help build a secure and legal file-sharing community, which also ensures that digital-rights owners get compensated," said Greg Kerber, chairman and CEO of Wurld Media. Until now consumers could either subscribe to a music download service, such as Apple Computer's iTunes, or could download unlicensed music through peer-to-peer file swapping networks. "Peer Impact actually revolutionises P2P in two ways: By minimising distribution costs and by allowing legal file sharing within a closed network," Kerber said. In early October the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) filed 459 new lawsuits against the users of music file-sharing networks across Europe, hoping to stem the shift from licensed to pirated music. The IFPI represents some of the largest music companies in the world, including EMI, Warner Music and Universal Music. The trade group said that suits had been filed in the UK, France and Austria, countries in which it had not previously attempted to prosecute file-swappers. It has also filed a new round of law suits in Germany, Italy and Denmark, bringing the total number of suits underway in Europe to 650. The music industry has announced lawsuits against 5,700 individuals in the US since this time last year. The cases are a combination of criminal and civil suits and are aimed at "uploaders," the people who offer music, rather than the downloaders who copy the files off their networks. The campaign singles out users of Kazaa, eDonkey, and Gnutella. © ENN
ElectricNews.net, 25 Nov 2004