6th > December > 2004 Archive

Telecom Italia to mop up mobile minorities

Telecom Italia is buying the outstanding shares in its mobile division for $21bn. It currently owns 56 per cent of Telecom Italia Mobile, which it spun off as a separate company in 1995. Shares in both companies will be suspended while the bid is decided. Mobile telecoms have enjoyed better growth than fixed line business in recent years. By regaining full control Telecom Italia will have to extend its debt but should be able to increase dividend payments. The telco will have to borrow between €8bn and €12bn, according to sources quoted by the Financial Times. One fund manager quoted by Bloomberg said it was a positive move and something the telco should have done some time ago. Shareholders in TIM include some of Italy's best known industrial names, such as the Pirelli and the Benetton families. ® Related stories Telecom Italia slammed for spam hypocrisy Mobile giants deny cartel slur 3 Italia: one million subscriber target postponed
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

IBM, Lenovo to announce JV 'this week'

Far Eastern sources continue to claim that IBM and Chinese PC maker Lenovo are in joint-venture discussions rather than pursuing the all-out acquisition of Big Blue's PC division. Neither company has formally commented on their talks, first reported a few weeks ago. The story was re-ignited last week when a number of US news services claimed IBM was attempting to sell its PC operation. Reports claimed IBM has hired Merrill Lynch to seek a buyer for the Personal Systems Group (PSG), allegedly with a $2bn asking price. PSG achieved revenues of $3.3bn during the three months to 30 September 2004, but lost $50m. It's the world's third biggest PC company in terms of sales. Last week, IBM announced the formation of a consortium, Power.org, to promote the use of its Power and PowerPC processor lines in the Asia-Pacific region for both embedded and computing products. That might seem confirmation of a shift of focus away from x86, but PowerPC comes out of IBM's Systems and Technology Group (STG), which has always had a different agenda from PSG. Sources said to be familiar with the deal say an announcement will be made on Thursday, 9 December this week, according to a DigiTimes report. Meanwhile, Chinese-language newspaper the Economic Daily News has pegged 15 December as the date at which Lenovo and IBM will formally comment on their discussions. Far Eastern sources continue to suggest, contrary to last week's reports out of the US, that IBM and Lenovo are exploring the merger of their respective operations into a separate, jointly owned company. The JV would leverage both firms' brands, and seek to exploit the economies of scale. ® Related stories IBM said to be in PC divison sell-off talks IBM, Lenovo ponder world desktop PC JV IBM to Power China IBM, Sony to detail 'Cell' PS3 CPU February 2005 IBM, Moore's Law and the POWER 5 chip Dell drops out of China's low-end PC market
Tony Smith, 06 Dec 2004

Cable broadband regs draw high court review

When the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided in 2002 that broadband Internet access via cable is legally distinct from other broadband services, and should be left largely unregulated, it set the stage for a confrontation with telcos that have a large shopping list of regulatory burdens and obligations to contend with. In April, 2004, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling that cable broadband may be subject to common-carrier regulations, and all that this entails. The decision contradicts an earlier FCC ruling that cable broadband (as opposed to, say, DSL) is an "information service" subject to FCC regs. The Commission essentially said that cable service is not a "telecommunications service," and is therefore exempt from Title II common-carrier regulations, and attendant public obligations. This sort of hair-splitting did not go down well with telcos, which are required to provide various public services, including opening their infrastructure to competitors, and obligations to contribute to federal universal service programs that are supposed to bring services to rural areas and low-income subscribers. Hence their lawsuit against the cablecos and FCC, which they have, so far, won. Sort of. As so often happens, there is irony in getting what one wishes for. The idea was to level the playing field in broadband, which now turns out rather a Pyrrhic victory, leaving telcos with little more than the Schadenfreude from knowing that their cable competitors are as much stuck with regulation as they are. Ideally, industry would like to see a somewhat different solution, in which telcos would get the same, though perhaps limited, exemptions from public responsibility that the cablecos once had, but the courts have not seen things that way. The Supremes will hear arguments in March and issue a ruling early next Summer. ® Related stories Philly sells Pennsylvania to Verizon Telcos could block free wireless in Philly Consumers want big telcos to supply VoIP services
Thomas C Greene, 06 Dec 2004

US health secretary resigns

US Health and Human Services Secretary and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson resigned his post on Friday, evidently due to nerves. Apparently, the high-strung Thompson is surprised to be alive, and believes that we're all living on borrowed time. "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do," he said, puzzled by his own survival to date. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that," he added, exhibiting a decided lack of imagination in contemplating the geographic distribution of angry jihadists. Thompson also fretted much about a flu pandemic that he believes is on the way, perhaps as soon as next year. He is best known for confusing the public over the relative dangers posed by the October, 2001 anthrax letters circulating about Washington, and for delaying a long-needed recall of the drug Vioxx, which has killed far more Americans than anthrax. On the plus side, Thompson did not embrace the Bush Administration's slavish appeasement of Big Pharma regarding the importation of foreign drugs, although he did knuckle under in regard to stem cell research. Overall, he is unlikely to be missed, although there is little danger that his successor will become a popular favourite. The President is said to be leaning towards Mark McClellan, the doctor brother of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. ® Related stories John Ashcroft resigns All terror attacks use false passports, claims Interpol chief Pentagon's $20bn war internet will 'cure world hunger'
Thomas C Greene, 06 Dec 2004
homeless man with sign

Aussie jailed for flogging bogus Canon servers

An Australian man has been jailed for ripping off millions of dollars by selling counterfeit computer equipment. John Michael Parker, as a director of a reseller called Matrix, had an exclusive distribution deal for Canon equipment in Toowoomba, Queensland. In 1992 the firm was contacted by McCafferty's, a bus company, which wanted to upgrade its ticketing system. Parker sold it two "super file servers" and associated equipment for AU$523,000 ($406,000), claiming it was all the latest Canon technology. In fact the boxes had been made by Matrix engineers and then had Canon badges attached. The system worked but needed frequent maintenance and crashed frequently. Matrix continued to supply McCafferty's with IT kit and over five years and charged the company AU$2.5m ($1.94m). In 1997 the fraud came to light when McCafferty's tendered a contract to upgrade IT systems. It emerged that Canon Australia was unaware of the agreement. Parker was sentenced to three-and-a-half years, to be suspended after nine months, for four years. McCafferty's has already taken civil action and successfully sued Matrix for AU$3.9m ($3m). It is unlikely to retrieve any money as Matrix has gone bust. The Toowoomba Chronicle has more. ® Related stories How scammers run rings round eBay Fraud warning for UK resellers Paradise Computers goes titsup
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

AMD pitches PowerNow! at servers

AMD today said it has added its PowerNow! power conservation technology to its Opteron processor line, the better to pitch the parts at high-density servers and blade-based systems. The move essentially mimics Intel's addition to SpeedStep to its Xeon processors last summer. Again that was done to make Xeon more suitable for blade roles, particularly as severs become more densely packed and enterprises fret over their rising power and air-conditioning bills. Technically, PowerNow! isn't new to the platform. AMD has been building the technology into its Athlon 64 desktop chips from the start, albeit under the Cool'n'Quiet brand, reserving PowerNow! for its notebook-oriented products. It's not clear whether PowerNow! has always been a part of the Opteron design and AMD is just now choosing to turn it on, or whether PowerNow!-equipped Opterons will be cut from a new cloth. AMD is expected to release 90nm Opterons any day now - it has certainly promised to do so before the end of 2004, though as of the 24 November update to its public roadmap, the 90nm 'Venus', 'Troy' and 'Athens' remain "future" releases. If PowerNow! is a new addition to Opteron, the shift to 90nm would provide the ideal time to add it. The first Opterons with the power conservation system will ship "in the first half of 2005". The arrival of PowerNow! in that timeframe - if it is linked to the 90nm roll-out - implies a slight delay to the 90nm Opteron's debut. Other additions to the Opteron line said to be in the pipeline include DDR 2 SDRAM support through the CPUs' integrated memory controller and even an extension to 3DNow! to handle Intel's SSE 3 instructions, though AMD has yet to announce any of these. However, since the new Opterons are rumoured to be set for a January 2005 introduction, the company could well be saving these snippets up for the launch. Certainly, AMD's anticipated dual-core Opteron is expected to support SSE 3, and since it is expected to use the same core as the upcoming single-core parts, it's not unreasonable to assume they have SSE 3 support too. Whether it will be enabled from the start is another matter, of course. A January debut would also mean that Venus, Troy and Athens had not slipped... much. And if Dell announces Opteron kit, on the same day, who'll notice? ® Related stories AMD took bigger slice of x86 server market in Q3 AMD roadmap drops Athlon XP AMD ships Mobile Sempron 3000+ AMD's Opteron loses ground where it kind of counts AMD updates roadmap Dell 'to add' AMD CPUs to product line - CEO AMD signs foundry for 64-bit CPU production AMD turns profit on strong 64-bit chip sales AMD dual-core Opterons gain SSE 3 support
Tony Smith, 06 Dec 2004

Pipex gift-wraps VoIP for business

Broadband ISP Pipex has ripped off the wrapping paper from its new internet telephony service for businesses. "VOIP for Business", as it's called, enables firms to save money on calls by routing them over the net. The VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service includes security measures that lets people access the net and make phone calls "simultaneously, without losing voice quality or being exposed to hackers targeting their network assets". According to Pipex chief exec Mike Read, this converged solution provides "forward-looking organisations with consolidated voice and data capabilities and the opportunity to deploy IP-based applications in the future". Elsewhere, Woking-based Magrathea Telecommunications, a wholesale VoIP outfit that provides services to internet telephony service providers, has announced it can now offer countrywide coverage of UK geographic numbering to its VoIP subscribers. This means that end users can opt for phone numbers similar to those offered by BT-line services and the cablecos. Linus Surguy, Magrathea's technical director, said: "We firmly believe that this was the only way forward to allow VoIP retailers to offer a truly competitive service to the traditional telephone network." ® Magrathea, is a founding member of ITSPA, the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association. ® Related stories UK VoIP sector gets trade body Callserve WLTM partner with VoIP, GSOH etc. Gossiptel touts cheapo flat fees for overseas calls BT in VoIP giveaway
Tim Richardson, 06 Dec 2004

Congress moots intelligence overhaul bill

The intelligence overhaul bill that the 9/11 Commission inspired, and the President says he wants, but has done little to promote, might just squeak through Congress this week. After passing the Senate, it got tied up in the House last week due to Republican intransigence. The idea of placing another layer of federal bureaucracy over the various military, paramilitary, and civilian agencies involved in intel and national security has struck some conservatives as a recipe for monumental intelligence foul-ups. The idea of shifting some military support organizations, like the National Security Agency (NSA), for example, to civilian control, likewise strikes several members as bogus. Supporters of the legislation point out that unless someone has overall authority, it will be impossible to force these agencies to work and play well with others. Someone has got to ensure that information gets to those most in need of it and most able to use it, as quickly as possible. No one argues with that; the question is whether another federal bureaucracy is the way to get it done. This weekend, the President used his weekly radio address to lobby for the bill. Of course, he had no choice. After campaigning on a platform of, essentially, "vote for us or terrorists will kill you," he is in no position to reject any major package with counterterrorist airs, however ill conceived it might be. "The many elements of our intelligence community must function seamlessly, with an overriding mission: to protect America from attack by terrorists or outlaw regimes," the President said. He characterized the bill as "a strong new law [that will] make America more secure". And if his last-minute appeal fails, no one can say he didn't take a swing at it. ® Related stories All terror attacks use false passports, claims Interpol chief ID scheme, IT the key to Blunkett's new terror laws How good is UK.gov at its own security agenda?
Thomas C Greene, 06 Dec 2004

High-school drop-out to become Homeland Security Czar

President George W. Bush has nominated former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Secretary, marking a significant departure from his tendency to choose educated, Patrician types for his Cabinet. Kerik, a high-school drop-out abandoned at age four by his prostitute mother in the gritty town of Patterson, New Jersey, served as an Army MP in South Korea, and later worked in private international security rackets, most interestingly in Saudi Arabia. He joined the New York City Police Department in 1985. He followed that with a stint as Warden of the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey, and became the Training Officer and Commander of the Special Weapons and Operations Units. In 1998 he was named New York Corrections Commissioner, and established an ironclad, head-cracking discipline in the City's notorious detention facilities. A favorite of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Kerik had the honor of seeing the Manhattan Detention Complex, known to locals as "the Tombs," re-named the Bernard B. Kerik Complex by then-mayor Giuliani. Kerik left a minor cloud of corruption behind, with allegations that one of his lieutenants used correctional staff to work illegally in Republican campaigns. In 2000, Giuliani named Kerik Police Commissioner, to assist him in a vast anti-crime crackdown, where the chief tactic was for police to pounce aggressively on even the most chickenshit offences, such as spitting on the sidewalk. Upon his retirement from City politics, Giuliani decided to cash in on post-9/11 security hysteria by founding his own security outfit, Giuliani Partners LLC. Kerik has served as senior vice president at Giuliani Partners, and CEO of Giuliani-Kerik LLC, a vendor of law-enforcement "performance systems". Meanwhile, Giuliani has founded several spin-offs, such as Giuliani Capital Advisors LLC, and the Rudolph W. Giuliani Advanced Security Centers (ASC), a cyber-security outfit formed in connection with Ernst & Young. Recently, Kerik shipped out to Iraq to train the local policemen who are routinely blown to pieces by insurgents and terrorists. There, he enjoyed the snappy titles of Interim Minister of the Interior, and Senior Policy Advisor to the US Presidential Envoy to Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority. Kerik lasted only four months, and the Iraqi police are still as incompetent, weak, and corrupt as when he arrived in country. Kerik began making his transition from local to national politics by campaigning for President Bush's re-election, alongside his political patron and business partner, Rudy Giuliani. Kerik has been a devoted booster of the so-called Patriot Act, having given several speeches in its support while campaigning for Bush. In anticipation of his rise to national office, Kerik recently sold his $5.8m in shares of Taser International, makers of absolutely safe police stun guns that are now routinely used against old women and children. He is expected to be confirmed by the Senate without difficulty. ® Related Stories US Homeland Security Czar resigns US cybersecurity czar quits Uncle Sam demands all air travel records Airport security failures justify snoop system U.S. House approves $30 billion security blanket
Thomas C Greene, 06 Dec 2004

Intel updates price list

Intel updated its microprocessor menu yesterday, adding a number of juicy new items to its bill of fare. Actually, 'new' might be stretching the point a little. Essentially, all the products added to the price-list are parts put on sale since Intel last updated the document, back in October. So now we see the 775-pin 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition with its 1066MHz frontside bus, pricing at a less-than-compelling $999, the same as the 3.4GHz/800MHz FSB version. And there's the Pentium 4 570J with its 1MB L2 cache, 3.8GHz clock frequency and Execute Disable Bit (EDB) support. It's priced at $637. The new Celeron 345J also supports the EDB, though it's also available as the EDB-less Celeron 345. Both run at 3.06GHz over a 533MHz FSB and contain 256KB of L2. Both cost $127. For notebooks, Intel has added the Pentium M 765, clocked to 2.1GHz and running a 400MHz FSB but with 2MB of L2. Available on its own for $637, it can be bought in a number of Centrino bundles from $695 to $702, depending on whether you select the 855GM or 855PM chipset, or pick the 2200BG or 2195ABG ProWireless mini PCI Wi-Fi adaptor. Indeed, Intel has updated the entire Centrino price list to add bundles incorporating the new tri-mode 2915ABG. 'Madison 9M', the Itanium 2 with 9MB of L3 cache, also makes an entry onto the price-list, at $4227, as does the $1980 6MB version. Both are clocked at 1.6GHz and run a 400MHz FSB, as does the new, $910 1.5GHz part with 4MB of L3 and the 1.3GHz, 3MB L3 chip, at $530. For a 533MHz FSB, look to the 1.6GHz, 3MB L3 part at $1172. The solitary addition to the Xeon line is a 2.8GHz, 90nm, low-voltage model at $259. Finally, Intel has appended the list with the 64-bit enabled 3.8GHz F-class 90nm Pentium 4 for servers and workstations, priced at $637. ® Related stories AMD pitches PowerNow! at servers Intel cans Pentium II Transmeta licenses LongRun 2 to Fujitsu Intel pushes own-brand mobos with Nvidia bundle World chip sales to fall next year - analyst Intel bumps Q4 forecast higher Chips are down for Taiwan foundry giants Itanium inventor bobs to surface as chip's savior?
Tony Smith, 06 Dec 2004

Apple of IBM's eye?

OpinionOpinion As the IT world digests the fact that IBM has, according to the New York Times, put its PC division up for sale, another set of speculation revs up. No, not the fact that the rumored potential buyer is Chinese company Lenovo, nor the cruel related joke that many old IBMers caught in the sold PC division would quickly will appear on a Chinese take-away menu, thereby helping fix IBM's embarrassing pension funding problems. Instead, an even better and more audacious speculation is that once publicly free of the PC division IBM will either buy, or form a close joint venture with Apple to sell its PCs, which coincidentally are now built around IBM's PowerPC chip. Selling its PC Division would also pave the way for such an IBM move to be approved by the FTC. To add even more heat to already hot gossip, it turns out that Apple is not among the published list of early companies signing up for IBM's PowerPC consortia - a rather strange gap given Apple's now absolute dependency on that microprocessor range. Well, you may ask, why would they sign up if a romance with IBM was in the air, or maybe even already consummated? And, knowing just how difficult it is to keep secrets these days, is it coincidence that some financial analysts have doubled their estimate of Apple's stock price expectation recently? Just think how many positives for IBM such a marriage would provide. IBM would give the same credibility to the Macintosh computer, and its Microsoft-beating operating systems as it provided for the PC in the first place, thereby opening the flood gates of corporate demand. Then of course there is Darwin, Apple's version of BSD Unix at the heart of its Mac OS X operating system, which would nicely provide IBM with a non Linux semi-open source alternative, and one that is focused on its on benchmark beating P (sorry G) 5 microprocessor. And of course there is all that synergy in the high performance, bargain priced Unix server and disk array products that Apple has taken to market, which must be hard to resist. Hitching up with Apple would provide IBM with a real inroad into the fast growing 'lifestyle' market, something the men and women in blue suits kind of missed. Perhaps most of all, it would be a way for IBM to get even with Microsoft for all that bad blood over the early versions of Windows, which IBM partnered in, and apparently accidentally part-funded. Remember that what IBM got out of that for its money was an operating systems that chairman Gerstner famously named Warp, which turned out to be the speed at which it hurtled into oblivion. Cast your mind back to Apple's announcement that hell had frozen over when they launched a Windows version of iTunes. I wonder what in hell will happen if there is any substance to this rumor. We shall see... ® About Cormac O'Reilly: Late sixties IT industry entrant with early developer gigs in London at Abbey National, Unilever & BOC. Senior IT oil field trash in the eighties and nineties; Schlumberger (Houston TX) and Shell (The Hague). Board IT big-wig at Costain (London) before CIO/CTO at Digital and Wang Global/ Getronics (Boston). Non-exec director at two flame-out dot.coms; now spending ill gotten gains and being provocative in Newburyport, MA Related stories Apple threatens iTunes.co.uk owner The post-PC era is upon us IBM, Lenovo to announce JV 'this week' IBM said to be in PC divison sell-off talks IBM to Power China
Cormac O'Reilly, 06 Dec 2004

Cisco and Fujitsu pool R&D for big routers, switches

Cisco and Fujitsu are teaming up to develop high end routers and switches. Cisco will tap into Fujitsu's expertise in high-reliability and high-availability technologies, so bringing advanced features to market more quickly. This will help it to fend off competition from arch rival Juniper Networks. The Cisco -Fujitsu alliance will focus at first on the Japanese market. The companies will collaborate on development of Cisco's IOS-XR operating system for multi-terabit routers, marking the first time Cisco has worked with another equipment maker in router operating system development. From Spring 2005, Fujitsu will sell co-branded routing products running IOS-XR to Japanese telcos. The two firms aim to expand their alliance to other markets in Asia, before moving on to the rest of the world. Neither firm said how much many it expected to make through the deal. For Cisco the deal gives it a highly regarded systems partner in Asia and the opportunity to push out key products earlier. The agreement gives Fujitsu's networking business, which it reportedly considering shelving earlier this year, a new lease of life. ® Related stories Cisco unveils monster router Cisco market share slipping Enterprise routing market as flat as a pancake Fujitsu preps 'early 2005' single-chip WiMAX part
John Leyden, 06 Dec 2004

Offshoring, not just for IT...

LettersLetters Register readers are not easily riled. But talk of offshoring (Offshoring inevitable - so get over it) can get them hot under the collar. Nathan McCourtney represents the voice of reason... From Nathan McCourtney: What a silly line of reasoning. Let me see if I can map out this train of thought: 1. An implosion of consumer confidence resulting from multi-billion dollar companies being revealed as little more than shells for creative accounting causes a recession. 2. The recession resulted in a massive loss of jobs in the tech sector (among others). High-paying jobs that generated billions in tax revenue to pay for schools and other social benefits. 3. As jobs disappeared, consumer spending evaporated and sent the economy further into the hole. 4. To save us all from the horrors of recession, companies and government institutions opted to pay slave wages to unqualified staff in third world countries, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless as their unemployment benefits ran out. So, if I'm to understand correctly, consumer spending which accounts for 2/3s of the American economy, is going to be bolstered by jobs disappearing never to return? And instead of paying for social benefits here, the taxes generated by these jobs will line the pockets of corrupt third world governments? And all this was done to save us from competition by whom exactly? Is there a database being marketed by a company in New Delhi that is threatening to lay waste to Oracle's market share? Has Microsoft passed along these call-center cost savings to the consumer? Who is the third-world Honda to Sun's GM that enjoys such low cost of production that a company in the US can't hope to compete with it? And I have personally interacted with numerous outsourced positions overseas. The idea that they could write software successfully half a world away is laughable. Not only that, but the call center personnel are useless. One of the reasons I've personally moved toward open-source technology is that private companies no longer seem able to solve problems with their own black boxes. John Q. Callcenter, who was with the product from version 0.8, is now pumping gas. Instead, a third-world worker who can't even afford to buy a computer for his own house is going to help you troubleshoot IIS 6 today! He's got a lovely script translated from the help files to walk you through! You say all the managers who made the outsourcing decision are happy? I wonder what their customers would say. In my opinion, studies like this are commissioned to keep the state of FUD in effect: Don't even try to stop it because you'll only make things worse! Be happy you can get a job pumping gas! Sorry you lost your house, but the American economy is strong, by god! The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it.< A lengthier and angrier email comes from Walter Nodelman, from Connecticut. I refer to John Oates' illogical and arrogant Pro-OFFSHORING item. Specifically . . . http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/12/03/offshoring_unstoppable/ I am writing from the perspective of an unemployed high tech American. I became a victim of TERRORISM when my employer's Manhattan Agency in the 47 story office building of the WTC burned on the evening of 9/11. I am also a victim of OFFSHORING since all high tech IT work has been sent to India. I have been seeking work in Connecticut, or Boston, or Manhattan across the past 163 weeks. I obviously disagree with nearly everything that John Oates wrote. "Inevitable" in the title is cockiness bordering on lack of sanity. My reaction is ...The bigger they are (corporations) - the dumber the decisions and the harder they fall, - more likely the predictable outcome. You defend the villains who are committing treason against my country and the UK, (by hollowing out the skilled high tech workforce) and you never disagree with their activities. You will write anything for a price. You claim to see inevitability and benefits while I keep seeing reality of 163 weeks without a paycheck. When enough people lose enough paychecks, the entire economy will crash, and the newspaper goes bankrupt with no advertisers to sell anything and no readers with money to buy anything. You lump everything together (France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the US and UK) and create fictional numbers which are unprovable. I know what the real numbers look like. Here are a few accurate numbers. Maury Harris of (that foreign) Union Bank of Switzerland in Stamford Connecticut recently wrote that 400,000 American Jobs are lost - while NBC tells us that Connecticut alone has lost 70,000 jobs. Mr. Harris's numbers are lies. NBC's numbers are understated, but provable. That 70,0000 number is supplied by INS (United States Immigration and Naturalization Service) Statistical Yearbooks, and reported by www.toraw.org. Here is the Connecticut 6 year history of Non-Immigrant Visas Issued Annually. It represents the selected multiple categories of H-1B for high technical Information Technology, the H1C for Registered Nurses, the H2 and H3 for temporary Agricultural, the alpha O for extraordinary achievement in Sciences, Art, Education, Business, or Athletics, the P for Athletes, Entertainers, Artists, the Q for Cultural Exchanges and finally the R category of visas for Religious Occupations. As I stated, the numbers are Connecticut only. Every single person on this count represents a Connecticut job that was removed from availability to a Connecticut citizen. H-1B Temporary Workers year 1997 2,979 H-1B Temporary Workers year 1998 2,979 H-1B Temporary Workers year 1999 3,826 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2000 4,310 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2001 4,663 H-1B Temporary Workers year 2002 4,835 Six Years Total 23,592 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1997 5,711 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1998 5,711 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 1999 6,708 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2000 7,918 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2001 8,693 L-1 Intra-Company Transferees 2002 8,609 Six Years Total 43,350 Grand Total Connecticut Jobs Lost 66,942 NBC 30 reported Connecticut Jobs Lost 70,000 Difference (overstatement) 3,058 This 66,942 only represents those jobs which were stolen from us by foreign workers who arrived here to work. The number does not count jobs taken by spouses or young adult children of that visa holder. Multiplied by 50 states, that calculates out to 3,347,100 jobs lost across my country. Not 400,000 which is UBS's fictional numbers. In addition to these 66,942 stolen jobs, there are the "OFFSHORING" situations where the USA job itself was sent to India or elsewhere, rather than bringing the foreign worker to Connecticut. There is more truth to be found in a Harry Potter book then can be found at UBS, or Computerworld, or The Register dot com, or many similar barely competent sources. The inevitability of success under OFFSHORING is far from certain. The higher the quality of the journalist, the lower the certainty of offshoring's future. You (John Oates) and your numbers represent one end of the believability range scale. Here is an example of your journalism profession when that job is done by a very competent professional. How often do you see a journalist of The Register receiving a standing ovation by 1,000 admiring fans? You, journalist, editor, author, John Oates should be interested in reading a communication which I sent to the editors of Editor and Publisher Magazine. I apologize for the length. We, the unemployed get very angry. You will understand that anger very soon. In my opinion, in your writer's occupation you are about to join us in the ranks of the unemployed. It may be true that John Oates' type of low quality journalism CAN now be done in Calcutta on the cheap. Now there's a thought...(El Reg moots Bangalore hack outsource plan). ®
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

IDG: e-magazines 'not good value'

One of the most successful publishers in the e-magazine market has warned his rivals that the technology is not proven to be good value. Patrick Kenealy, CEO of IDG, told the Quvu e-magazine publishing forum in New York last week that for many titles, the effort of producing a digital edition of a successful magazine, was not worth the cost. "Digital distribution of magazines is a business which is sandwiched between the Internet, where readers and advertisers are convinced there is value, and print where we come from," said Kenealy, keynoting the forum in the New York Hilton hotel. "It's like 8-track, a technology which was squeezed between reel-to-reel and cassette," Kenealy said. "We feel we have to invest in the web and defend our turf, and there's much debate internally about whether this is another small distribution idea like CD-ROM or bind-in tape, or something huge like the Internet." In his presentation, Kenealy warned that he was going to do a "dangerous thing, and tell the truth, mentioning real numbers, sharing some success, and reporting some challenges". What he had to say was not always entirely welcome in a forum where several companies like Texterity and Qmags and Zinio, market leaders in e-mag publishing software, were hoping to increase the hype, rather than deflate their fledgling industry. Kenealy drew a sharp distinction between true e-magazine publishing - sending a replica of a paper magazine to subscribers who chose digital distribution over postal delivery - and "putting a title on its own website". He said: "If you think having a website for a title is a form of e-publishing, then we're very successful at it. But we've done a big internal survey of true e-publishing, and it's sometimes discouraging." When it works, Kenealy said, it brings real benefits. Benefit one: quick delivery, with the new subscriber not having to endure a four-eight week wait for their first issue with instant delivery as you order; and benefit two: for international subscribers, who normally don't get their issue on time, "they love getting [an] early edition." But the response to a trial by a business-to-business title like ComputerWorld was less encouraging, he said. "We served 822 copies per week for 21 weeks via Qmags between May and September. A total of 17,262 copies were sent to free qualified subscribers - people we acquired via telemarketing, and who were in addition to the rate base." People signed up to receive these copies, and yet, Kenealy said regretfully, download rates were low, never higher than 26.5 per cent and as low as 8.3 per cent; 44 per cent never downloaded. Only 35 subscribers downloaded each of the 21 issues. "It was clear that we could do a lot of things better than we were doing," he admitted, but even so, Kenealy was clearly sceptical about the value of extending this. He showed figures, which were not a tribute to success. Download percentages are the number of people who signed up, received an email notification that their copy was ready for download, with a URL to click on - but who simply never clicked. These download percentages started at 26.5 per cent, then dropped steadily, down to 8.3 per cent at the end of the experiment. Other titles were very encouraging, however. "We did this testing with 6-7 other IDG cc magazines. With Network World we had a slightly different offer, and there the top download percentage is 76 per cent and bottom is about 50 per cent - a wide variation. But with ComputerWorld, 44 per cent of the people who filled in a complex qualification form with 12 questions in order to get it ... never downloaded a single edition!" But despite seeing lukewarm to chill response from magazine publishers in the group, Kenealy felt the experiments would continue. The technology, he felt, is still "only just about acceptable" he said frankly. "The current user interface: it's spectacular on my 25-inch wide office flat-screen monitor. But at home on my 17-inch CRT it's not spectacular - especially with portrait lay-out - it is hard to read." But if it's not ready for mainstream deployment, digital distribution appears to be of most interest to users with specific needs - international markets, particularly, Kenealy felt. He pulled no punches: "The technology is being over-used by a few. Digital rights management (DRM) issues have not been resolved; and this is a big deal for PCWorld and MacWorld titles, who want to be clear about rights. Also, there are developments like geolocation software, credit card software, integration of all that is happening in the Internet world at lightning speed... it's slower in this world. The support tools around digital magazines are getting scarcer, and around the Internet, they are increasing." For the future, he echoed the predictions of a recent media survey by AFAICS Research, whose report "Developments in e-book and e-magazine reader technology" pointed at the emergence of data format standards as the key development of the future: "We make the general observation from afar: that the reader base is going away from individual readers to browsers and Acrobat." Fighting about standards, he said, was proceeding very much as the industry fighting about laser printer standards 10 or so years ago. "That could be messy for a decade," he said. Kenealy concluded that the vendors should get together, and promote some "real research" figures - not "organised crime" - internal figures. And he encouraged publishers to persist, especially for international sales - "and don't buy into vendor research figures!" ® Related stories Novell fires counterblast at Ballmer Linux summary SCO not sure pro-SCO site is a good idea IBM and others blamed in E-rate scandal hearing
Guy Kewney, 06 Dec 2004

German Supreme Court rules in favor of 'generic domain grabbing'

The German Supreme Court has ruled that merely registering generic terms as domain names does not constitute an unethical intent to cause damage, online magazine Heise Online reports. The court says that registering domain names is typically based on a first-come, first-served principle. The resulting advantage for the person who registers first can thus not be seen as unethical, the Court argues. The decision comes after several regional courts ruled in favor of Germany's Axel Springer, the country's second-largest magazine publisher, which sued a businessman from Kaarst for registering more than 4000 generic domain names, including www.welt-online.de. Die Welt is one of the newspapers Axel Springer owns; however the name 'welt online' (world online) can also be used in a generic way. Although the businessman was forced to hand over the domain name www.welt-online.de to Axel Springer, he managed to hold onto www.weltonline.de, for which Alex Springer sued him again. Now the court has come to his rescue. The ruling doesn't necesarily mean that domain name grabbers have free play. The German Trademark Act (Markengesetz: MarkenG), the Unfair Competition Act (Gesetz gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb: UWG) and sections of the Civil Code (Buergerliches Gesetzbuch: BGB) can still prevent domain grabbers from having it their way. ® Related stories ICANN selects its wardens ICANN works Harry Potter magic on net ICANN pitches the internet's future
Jan Libbenga, 06 Dec 2004

Linux and the job market

The principles of economics, as Computerworld reports, are finally affecting Linux. Linux is increasing its market share so rapidly that, in consequence, some companies find it difficult to secure the resources to handle Linux development and installation. Naturally, the contractor or salary costs rise. This may reduce the prospective cost savings on Linux related IT projects. Apparently the key skills required are in programming and documentation, file editing and the ability to modify source code. Over and above that, there is a need for technical management skills to manage these tasks. Management experience is another plus. How serious is the skill shortage? Will it seriously impact the pace of IT projects which are signed up to use Linux? Does the industry need to embark on wide scale re-skilling of the existing technical resources in the use and application of Linux technology, as some suggest? Many organisations take a pragmatic view of the situation, recognising that the "retooling" of technical workers takes time; that one skill set cannot readily be transformed into a new set to meet rising demand at the optimal pace; and that getting up to speed will not happen overnight. It is an economic reality that demand increases before the supply of skilled people is available. It will be a good market for those people with the skills. They will reap the benefits of their Linux skills by selling them at a premium price, but it is a matter of conjecture as to how long the window of opportunity will last. It will not last forever but it may exist for the foreseeable future. For IT companies and in-house departments, Linux presents a problem, particularly during its early commercial adoption stages. It can be difficult to find the same level of skills on Linux as on other software technology, although some say that IT departments can in fact find the skills they need without much extra effort or additional pay. The lack of personnel with Linux expertise affects the rate at which companies adopt the open-source system. A major challenge presents itself where the Linux practitioner knows the technical elements but doesn't understand the business. This is typical with a new commercial technology, where junior people learn new technical skills but do not have a perspective of the wider business of the project. The critical issue in any technology skills' review is assessment of the business risks for the enterprise. To what extent is the lack or level of Linux skills offsetting the purported savings made by using Linux on a project? The issue does admittedly become serious where the delivery schedule severely overruns. Even more critical, and potentially damaging to reputations, is where the project has to be re-assigned, as opposed to being sub-contracted, to an enterprise possessing the requisite skills. The crux of the Linux debate in commercial terms is if and how quickly will it become a major software technology? In what timeframe should investment be deployed in this eventuality? This will only be determined if and when suppliers and customers can gauge the technical and commercial success of any projects and publicise those achievements. We are not yet at that point. Copyright © 2004, IT-Analysis.com Related stories MS wins Isle of Man government IT deal Microsoft excluded from DoCoMo's ecosystem Linus and friends lead charge against software patents
Bob McDowall, 06 Dec 2004

BCS certifies Freedom of Information

The British Computing Society(BCS) is offering a new qualification to help IT pros ensure they are ready for 1 January when the Freedom of Information Act comes into force. From New Year's Day all public bodies must be able to provide the public with any information they require under the Act within 20 days. Despite having had four years to comply there are fears that many bodies are still not ready. Central and local government, schools, hospitals and the police must all comply with the law. David Clarke, chief executive of the BCS, said: "The threat of hefty fines and possible prison sentences means that the need for certified IT professionals responsible for enforcing the Act, is imperative." The ISEB (Information Systems Examinanation Board) certificate will show public sector IT professionals what they need to know. The five-day course covers the background to the legislation, responsibilities under the new law and how to enforce it. It covers both the Freedom of Information Act and FOIA Scotland. The course is available across the country from Mason's Solicitors. More here. ® Related stories BCS says skills beat outsourcing BCS offers members proof of professionalism Women, and the future of IT
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

mmO2 hikes 3G speeds

mmO2 says improvements to its Isle of Man 3G network will make it three times faster than rival services from Vodafone and 3. Due to go live next summer the network uses HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) technology and IMS(Internet Protocol Multimedia services). But the extra speed is available only through data cards in laptops - not through handsets - which won't be available until the second half of 2006. A spokesman for mmO2 said: "Lucent are the only current provider of this technology which in simple terms is a software upgrade to the base stations." The network will be built by Lucent and will provide speeds of 3.6 Megabits per second at launch but can support speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. At launch customers will be able to send a 5Mbyte video clip in less than 30 seconds. Lucent is providing equipment developed by Bell Labs as well as Flexent OneBTS base stations, Radio Network Controller and UMTS kit including Serving GPRS Support Node and Gateway GPRS Support Node. mmO2 offers 3G services for business customers in Germany and will launch in Ireland and the UK early next year. Press release here. ® Related stories O2 to bring i-mode to UK in 2005 UK 3G rollout targets 'too tough' Could DoCoMo be the saviour of MMO2?
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

BT stands firm against Ofcom

BT has signalled that it won't roll over and comply with new regulatory demands made by Ofcom if such moves are too damaging for its business. In its review of the UK's telecoms sector last month Ofcom called on BT to give rival operators equal access to its products and services (aka "equivalence") and to bring about "substantive behavioural and organisational changes" within its sprawling organisation. Failure to make these changes would lead to BT facing the threat of being broken up, said Ofcom. But BT boss Ben Verwaayen today told the Financial Times that it would not meet all of Ofcom's demands if it meant damaging its business. "If equivalence means everything that is invented by BT must be available to everybody else, then the answer is that's not equivalence, "he said. "You have to define what [equivalence] is...otherwise every invention that somebody in BT comes up with immediately goes to the rest of the world - that would be ridiculous. [Equivalence] is about that part that has to be regulated because it is uneconomic or technically impossible [for rivals] to replicate." Verwaayen called for greater co-operation within the industry to help bring about the changes demanded by Ofcom. "I think it's possible, but it takes two to tango and in this case it takes a whole army to tango because the whole market has to tango with us," he said. But his comments have already caused concern. One source, who asked not to be named, told us: "We'd love to go dancing with BT, but every time we put on our posh frock BT changes the tune." Insiders reckon this is exactly what BT is doing now. Faced with a February deadline to show that it will comply, they claim BT is back to its same old tricks and putting up resistance to the regulator. It's also facing up to Ofcom, which effectively issued an ultimatum - comply or face being broken up. "BT is stalling - it's buying time. It's had plenty of time to talk in the past but never did. Now the pressure is on it's decided it wants to discuss this with the industry. Ofcom will have to watch out that BT doesn't string it along like it did so well with Oftel," said the source. No one from Ofcom was available for comment. ® Related stories Ofcom tells BT: shape up, or split up Ofcom review 'misses golden opportunity' BT faces life-changing three months LLU dogged by 'significant operational problems'
Tim Richardson, 06 Dec 2004

The post-PC era is upon us

AnalysisAnalysis IBM is trying to sell its PC business. Korea has already launched a programme called "The Post-PC Era." Jonathan Schwartz, president of Sun Microsystems, told the New York times: "We've been in the post-PC era for four years now." Can we really manage without the PC? For rivals to IBM, the news that its ThinkPad range may be taken over by China's biggest PC builder, Lenovo - or another bidder - is good: less competition from the acknowledged market leader in portable PCs. HP and Dell, however, are whistling in the dark if they think this is going to ease pressure on them; quite the opposite is probably true. For a start, the unpalatable truth is that the PC is in real danger of becoming an unsellable product. At the moment, people still think they need a PC. But spyware and viruses and Internet worms and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on large corporations are costing millions in hard currency. And they are also taking a more insidious toll: buyers are becoming reluctant to switch their machines on. A brand-new notebook computer arrived at NewsWireless for test last week. The first thing we did with it was to connect to the Internet and download the Spybot spyware blocker, and AVG antivirus program. When they ran, the machine was already infected by six "suspicious" items of malware. Freelance computer repair professionals are becoming a cottage industry, charging quite reasonable fees for coming around to do a sweep of malware on their neighbours' machines - a general backup/restore and sometimes even a complete re-install of Windows on machines which are running too slowly to be used, or which insist on dialling South American ISPs on premium phone lines, or which are sending spam messages on behalf of criminals on the other side of the globe - or have, quite simply, closed down and refuse to work. And of course, the takeover of IBM's business will, almost certainly, lead to greater price competition, not less, for HP and Dell. China's reputation in electronics is not one of "go for the top quality, never mind the cost" and other PC makers and marketers will find the future tough. Finally, the need for a huge, mega-powerful PC is getting harder to justify. Small, cheap information appliances based on Via's mini-ITX board, for example, can sit, silent and cool-running, out of sight in a cupboard, and handle much of the work that PCs traditionally do. Microsoft is betting a lot on the success of the Media Centre PC, which replaces a personal digital recorder and an MP3 storage/play unit - but which may not be any cheaper to run or install than several commercial PDR boxes. So what are the alternatives? Far-seeing outfits like Xybernaut think that wearable electronics, and true mobility is the answer. Today, the wearable computing specialist has announced that it is setting up a Korean subsidiary, to take advantage of a Government sponsored development scheme based on little more than the death of the PC. Korea is completely convinced that the day of the PC is over. Xybernaut said: "In a 2004 strategy document issued by the Korean Ministry for Information and Communication, the Republic of Korea created the IT839 Strategy and the 'Post-PC Era initiative' to maintain its leadership in information technology." The plan is simple enough. Wearable computing, wireless and broadband everywhere, and RFID sensors to track the users and interface to them will be rolled out as quickly as possible. The Wireless and broadband project, or WiBro, aims to produce ubiquitous internet. Korea expects 8m subscribers to Wibro by end 2006 - maybe sooner. Coupled to that will be a Telematics scheme. This will be the main and obvious carrot for Xybernaut: it aims to "establish Korea as a top five telematics market providing telematics "terminals" (devices) to 27 per cent of the total population by 2007" and it walks hand in hand with an RFID project, aiming at seeing a "ubiquitous" RFID sensor network by 2010. There will also be digital multimedia services to the majority of homes, and at least 60 per cent of households will have a home network by 2007. Frankly, nothing of Xybernaut's product range of wearable computing power looks all that "post-PC" - it's basically PC technology packaged differently. But this may be the point: instead of being a general purpose machine, this sort of hardware has clearly defined - and limited - functions. The Intel vision of the PC was described by Centaur founder Glenn Henry as "a black hole" - this huge, all-powerful processor, carrying out all the cyber-functions that the user would ever want. No need for a modem chip; the Pentium's native signal processing capabilities already do that. No need for any sort of wireless: the CMOS radio Intel hopes to build will emulate any other device just by software. No need for interface cards: PCI Express and USB 2 use the PC chip itself to replace circuits ... and so on. But the trouble with a device that can do everything, is that it can do anything. Anything, including spam, virus, spyware, and other malware, whether you intend it to, or not. Switching from Windows to another OS - like, say Linux - merely postpones the problem. There are those who claim that Unix variants are inherently more immune to virus technology; others suggest that this merely reflects the priorities of the virus writers. Probably, if the world switched to Linux, they would quickly perfect their ability to fool Linux users into running their software. More significant, in the long term, is IBM's perception that the days of corporate PC growth are over. As the New York Times put it: "IBM's retreat from the PC sector may be an irreversible transition from a world where corporate workplaces have personal computers on each desktop to one where corporate offices run on centralised computer systems with simple monitors on desks known as 'thin clients' that have network connections." Xybernaut technology depends on a failed concept: the Microsoft Smart Display. But the reason the Smart Display failed, was simple enough: it was a thin client, in a world where it lost touch with its host if you moved out of wireless range. In a ubiquitous wireless world, you are never out of range. The smart display today, turns into a useless lump if it can't see your home WiFi network; in the Korea post-PC era, this simply can't happen. The bulk of the cost of a PC is the central processor. After that, the display, and then the battery swallow up the profit. But in the future, we can see the arrival of innovative personal displays that generate the effect of a full-size 20-inch display, hanging in the air in front of the viewer, or projected onto the wall, with minimal power needed. The processor in a smart display is little more powerful than that in a mobile phone. And the battery likewise, costs a fraction of what a PC battery takes to build. Free the user of the need to carry a full-blown PC around town, and let us all carry something which we call a phone, but which has access to all available IT functions, and what happens to the market for big desktop iron? Mostly, it goes into the server business. Servers made of Intel and AMD processors and supporting disks and network management software, will expand rapidly as the mobile IT dream unfolds. These things will be very restricted in what they do; they'll certainly refuse to run malware, whatever operating system they use. But they'll store our music, our photos, our home videos, and our office data. They'll be multiply redundant; if one dies, nobody will ever know, as others seamlessly take over the work of rendering images for us, and backup systems imperceptibly restore damaged files. Will this mean the end of PCs altogether? My own view: no; they'll always be around. There will always be people who want to do what the safe, orthodox systems can't provide; people who can't wait for a new function to be provided by central management, and people who are skilled enough to cope with the problems caused by keeping a general purpose system clean. But, in much the same way that there are more skilled motor mechanics today than there were owner-drivers 80 years ago, these skilled folks will be, nonetheless, a minority. The typical car user barely knows how to pop the hood of the engine, never mind having the know-how to understand what we see if we do. Instead, drivers are skilled at finding their way to new destinations, using safe, but unexciting hardware to spin the tyres. And that, I suspect is the future of the PC: a toy for gamers, a playground for experimenters, and a tool for big server/communications centre managers. But for the rest of us, they'd be a hazard. We'd no more think of using one by the year 2010, than we think of buying a metal turning lathe today to make spare parts for our road vehicles. And for big office workers, the option to play with dangerous toys like that will, quite simply, be taken away from us. It won't happen overnight, and whoever buys IBM's PC business will no doubt, make a lot of money out of the deal for the next two years. But within five years, the picture will change - enormously. Copyright © Newswireless.net Related stories Apple of IBM's eye? IBM, Lenovo to announce JV 'this week' Corporate PCs 'riddled with spyware'
Guy Kewney, 06 Dec 2004

Who would you like to attack today?

A massive rise in phishing attacks this year may lead on to customised email security attacks targeted specifically at individual or small groups of companies, according to email security firm MessageLabs. In September 2003 MessageLabs intercepted 279 phishing emails. In September 2004, it netted more than two million. So far this year, MessageLabs has intercepted more than 18 million phishing-related emails. Recently, phishing emails have been designed to include malicious code so that online banking details can be captured without having to persuade a user to visit a maliciously constructed website. The perpetrators of phishing attacks have also attempted to dupe unsuspecting users into becoming middlemen for money laundering operations via spamvertised job offers. Along with the huge increase in phishing, spam and virus volumes also increased this year, although much less dramatically. In 2004, one in every 16 emails MessageLabs scanned was infected with a virus, compared to one in every 33 emails for 2003. MyDoom-A was the single biggest virus nuisance this year. Seventy-three per cent of emails scanned by MessageLabs this year was spam, compared with 40 per cent last year. E-mail attacks get personal Tailored malicious activity - ranging from Denial of Service (DoS) attacks targeted at blackmailing online gaming sites through to threats that send out child pornography in the name of organisation - have been used by extensively cyber-criminals this year. Mass defacements and the like, which used to be the staple of cracker activity, are still taking place, but have receded in importance. Malicious code attacks may follow a similar pattern as virus writers move on from mass mailing worms to the development of targeted malware. MessageLabs predicts that Trojans and other malicious code specifically developed to compromise particular organisations will become a greater threat next year. Mark Sunner, chief technology officer, said the singling out of certain companies to be the victim of phishing attacks "could signal the beginning of a wider trend. Already particular businesses are threatened and blackmailed, indicating a shift from the random, scattergun approach, to customised attacks designed to take advantage of the perceived weaknesses of some businesses." Getting to grips with regulatory compliance will be major issue in 2005, according to MessageLabs. Laws surrounding financial reporting and disclosure of information require companies to have policies for monitoring, securing and storing all business transactions: including email and instant messaging. "Compliance is already a big issue, and many firms have yet to grasp the impact it will have on the administration, management and security of email," Sunner said. A breakdown of stats, alongside trend analysis, can be found in MessageLabs' Intelligence Annual Email Management and Security Report 2004 (PDF). ® Related stories Bofra exploit tied to 'massive botnet' Phishers develop sophisticated lure Phishermen attack on a viral scale Fraudsters recruit phishing middlemen UK banks launch anti-phishing website We're all MyDoomed MyDoom and NetSky cause chaos Zombie PCs spew out 80% of spam
John Leyden, 06 Dec 2004
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Tulip Computers freezes Dutch aid to Bangladesh

Tulip Computers today won a court case against the Dutch Government over a derailed €10m development project in Bangladesh. The dispute saw the small Dutch PC maker successfully freeze the Dutch government's development aid funds to Bangladesh worth €30m a year. Four years ago Tulip Computers started a project in Bangladesh, co-ordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Development Aid. The aim was to train 7,700 teachers in IT. Tulip Computers was to provide 11,000 computers and additional hardware, as well as the courses for the teachers. The Dutch government would pay half of the project costs, about €10m. But after a government change, Bangladesh reportedly wanted to back out. It told Tulip that the price agreed upon was too high. This in spite of the fact that, because of the contribution of the Dutch Government, a 50 per cent discount applied. Numerous talks and diplomatic efforts followed, but to no avail. Last year the contract was cancelled under the condition that the Government of Bangladesh pay damages of €4.2m to Tulip, as compensation for investments already made for the project. When Bangladesh refused to pay Tulip Computers’ claim, even after it was forced to do so by a Dutch Court last year, Tulip decided to embargo the Government of the Netherlands' development aid funds to Bangladesh, which is possible under international law. Because the project had been supervised by the Dutch Ministry of Development Aid, Tulip argued that the Dutch Government should pay the remaining €5m. Today Tulip could finally claim victory. A Dutch Court ruled in favour of the PC maker. This is another remarkable court case for Tulip. Last year the company dragged Dell to court over a patented motherboard design. That case was settled by Dell with a stunning $49.5 million payment. ® Related stories CBM 64 licence deal heralds emulator clamp down Dell patent infringement comes to trial Tulip wins access to Dell exec emails PC Vendor Bender Tulip sues Dell over alleged $17bn patent infringement Profit puts spring in Tulip's step
Jan Libbenga, 06 Dec 2004

Akamai and C&W kiss and make up

Akamai and Cable and Wireless have settled their patent dispute, which has pushed the two in and out of court for the last four years. A jury found in Akamai's favour back in December 2001 C&W subsidiary Digital Island was guilty of infringing patents. Akamai and C&W today agreed the amount of damages to be paid, including a cash sum to Akamai. The case centred on C&W's internet content system, Footprint. Melanie Haratunian, vice president and general counsel for Akamai, said: "We are very pleased by the resolution of this long-standing dispute, because it reaffirms the value of Akamai's intellectual property and sends a strong message that we can and will successfully defend our business....While we prefer to demonstrate the superiority of our technology in the marketplace, rather than the courtroom, we will continue aggressively to enforce our intellectual property rights when necessary to protect shareholder value." More here. In a related development the Federal District Court in Boston has granted a motion brought by Akamai to overturn the jury verdict as it related to 703 patent claims 17, 18 and 22. These claims, covering aspects of Akamai's content delivery, are not now invalid. ® Related stories Court not persuaded C&W infringes Akamai patents C&W seek another injunction against Akamai Contempt Filing Likely After C&W Patent Injunction Subsidiary drawn into C&W-Akamai court battle
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

Disruptive IT forces gather in London hotel

Last Friday saw this year's Economist Leadership Forum which ended with a panel discussion of disruptive technologies to watch out for in the year ahead. The panel included Microsoft's European chief executive, Dell's European president and the chief technology officer for mobile network Orange. The great and the good were gathered in a central London hotel to hear the panel's thoughts on "A force for disruption - what technologies are set to change the way we do business?" On the panel were Simon Powell, chief executive of retail travel specialist Comtec, Paul Bell, European president at Dell, Christian Morales, VP and general manager at Intel, Jean-Philippe Courtois, European CEO for Microsoft and Vivek Badrinath, chief technology officer at Orange. It was chaired by Economist technology editor Tom Standage. Badrinath believes consumer behaviour is starting to change as people get used to having broadband and are getting used to wireless connections too. He predicted some demand for video on mobile phones - but short news, music or sports clips rather than longer TV or film content. Paul Bell from Dell said although people value wireless access it is hard to measure improved efficiency or savings from it. He said that although 95 per cent of Dell laptops are wireless ready only 20 per cent of them actually get used. He believes the biggest change in the coming year will not be consumer items but the big iron inhabiting the back of corporate data centres. Pressure on costs will push more and more CIOs into replacing machines running proprietary Unix - either with Linux or with Windows, he forecasts. Now for the panel's predictions on hot technologies for 2005: Vivek Badrinath, CTO at Orange, said: "Broadband everywhere - the promise is coming to be real - we need to see what the customers do with it now." Jean-Philippe Courtois, CEO for Microsoft Europe, said: "Rich and real-time collaboration will integrate into business life with VoIP and other networks talking to each other." Christian Morales from Intel predicted more digitalisation of the home and workplace and the continued march of wireless. Bell predicted that network management software in large data centres would have the biggest impact because it will allow CIOs to manage system migrations which will save them money. Simon Powell of Comtec said: "The emergence of intelligent search engines is going to be the biggest change for the travel industry." ®
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

Cisco unveils 'mini' monster router

Cisco has launched a router and application management platform which pushes more intelligence into service provider data networks. The Cisco CRS-1 8-Slot System adds a new member to the firm's flagship router family, joining the Cisco CRS-1, which launched in May. The CRS-1 8-Slot Single-Shelf System has a total switching capacity of 640Gbps. It is designed to meet the needs of large enterprises and service providers. The CRS-1, with a switching capacity of 92TBps, is purely for telcos, which need its capacity to handle 40Gbps data feeds. To manage the flow of traffic across these monster routers, Cisco launched two hardware appliances the Cisco 1000 Service Control Engine and 2000 Service Control Engine. Both devices stem from Cisco's recent P-Cube acquisition. They enable carriers to analyse, manage and control applications, provide subscriber and application-aware security, adjust pricing, offer application-level quality of service (QoS) and to track transactions by content-type and subscriber. Previously announced applications of P-Cube's technology include tracking and tracing the zombie PC components of botnet attack networks. Cisco said its new products will help service providers to provision and new services such as applications that offer voice, video, data with roving capabilities. Or a "triple play on the move", as Cisco terms it. Neil Walker, a product marketing manager at Cisco, said the products allow carriers to move from offering an "information superhighway to a personalised tollway with differentiated, personalised services". Cisco CRS-1 8-Slot Systems start at $225,000 and are available now. Pricing information for the Service Control Engine appliances was not available at the time of writing. ® Related stories Cisco and Fujitsu pool R&D for big routers, switches Cisco outs really big router Cisco unveils monster router P-cube goes hunting for zombie PCs Cisco snaffles P-Cube
John Leyden, 06 Dec 2004

IBM wins £500m Lloyds TSB VoIP gig

Lloyds TSB, the UK retail bank, has picked IBM to provide network and VoIP services for the next seven years. The £500m contract covers a converged network carrying voice, video and data as well as 70,000 Voice over Internet Protocol phones from Cisco. The nationwide network will be rolled out over the next 20 months. The network will provide better performance with fibre links between branches providing lots of bandwidth - it will also be better value providing an: "eight-fold increase in throughput for approximately a quarter of the previous overall cost." The converged network will be able to tell different applications apart and so ensure that each gets enough bandwidth The bank hopes that improved bandwidth will allow it to use application previously regarded as too demanding for its network. Vanco will provide the network management and integration expertise. Vtesse Networks is building a virtual private network using optical connections from various vendors. Lloyds TSB has 2,500 branches and about 1,000 other sites across the UK. It currently has a traditional voice network with over 30 different supplier contracts. ®
John Oates, 06 Dec 2004

Apple threatens iTunes.co.uk owner

Apple has accused the owner of iTunes.co.uk of being a cybersquatter, and taken him to UK registry Nominet demanding to be given the domain. Unfortunately, the owner happens to be one Benjamin Cohen, the "dotcom millionaire" of lore, whose father is a solicitor, and Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on. As a press release put out by Cohen makes clear, he registered the domain "itunes.co.uk" on 7 November 2000, and two days later made use of it by forwarding it to a music search engine service at his CyberBritain site. Apple, on the other hand, only had trademark for "iTunes" published in the Trade Marks Journal on 6 December 2000. It was granted a limited trademark that did not cover music products on 23 March 2001, and eventually went live with its iTunes offering in June this year - four years after Ben Cohen first registered iTunes.co.uk. Cohen claims he had no idea that Apple was planning to build an iTunes service, and that he has been using it legitimately all that time. Nevertheless, Apple has been dogged in its pursuit of the domain. Since November this year, CyberBritain has received between 30 and 40 letters from Apple's solicitors over the domain and even offered a small sum for it (a common domain ploy which seeks to prove some kind of profitable intent by the owner). Finally, it has taken the issue to Nominet, where it will be put through the organisation's domain resolution process. Fortunately for Cohen, Apple's approach is more bark than bite. Apple would have a hard time winning such a case through ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP), which is notoriously friendly towards big companies. However, a .co.uk domain is the jurisdiction of Nominet, and the UK registry has taken a far more commonsense approach to domain disputes. Nevertheless, Cohen told us that unless his father, a solicitor, had explained the law and dispute system, he would probably have caved into pressure from Apple. He remains "reasonably confident" that CyberBritain will win out, however he points out that under Nominet's recently changed rules, a company need not be granted a trademark before a domain is registered to seize control of a domain. He is referring to one small part of Nominet's rules which states that if "the Respondent is using the Domain Name in a way which has confused people or businesses into believing that the Domain Name is registered to, operated or authorised by, or otherwise connected with the Complainant", then it could be taken to be an abusive registration. However, in his defence, Cohen can argue that he has "been commonly known by the name or legitimately connected with a mark which is identical or similar to the Domain Name" and that he has "made... fair use of the Domain Name". All in all, the domain was registered before iTunes, as Apple knows it, existed. How it can then expect to extend its rights back in time is something an IP lawyer will have to try to argue. As such, Apple can waste £750 taking the case through Nominet or it can do what it should have done as soon as it realised Mr Cohen was not going to fold under pressure and offer a decent price for something that isn't its property. Apple has so far refused to comment on the case. Although it is currently being investigated by the authorities for price fixing with its iTunes service, so it probably has its hands full. ® Related stories UK govt takes iTunes gripe to Europe BAA accused in net 'dirty tricks' campaign Penguin backs down on Katie.com Lord of the Rings domain fight enters realms of fantasy Fur flies in animal rights domain dispute Powergen awarded whistleblower's domain
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Dec 2004

Internet fraud is easy, says judge...

A judge has told a court in Leicester that it's a doddle to swindle people on the net. His remarks came as he sentenced Sara Hambridge, 28, from Leicester, who netted more than £3,000 when she sold non-existent tickets to the Glastonbury festival via eBay. When the punters complained the tickets hadn't arrived, she insisted she'd posted them - although she later owned up to the scam. Because of ill health, Hambridge received a nine-month suspended sentence, according to the BBC. Sentencing the former payroll clerk, Judge Richard Bray said: "There may be certain safeguards that I have not been told about, but that appears to be the case and you took advantage of that. "These trusting people, they get on the internet and they ask for a ticket and they send a cheque without any knowledge of who they are sending it to. Provided you don't have fraud against you on eBay, you are all right as a fraudster. You can get on and sell anything you like." eBay insists just a tiny fraction of the transactions that take place via its site are fraudulent, but it is facing increasing pressure to do more to stamp out fraud. Last month The Register reported just how easy it is for scammers to run rings round eBay while in the US, eight people were told to pay $90,000 (£48,575) after admitting they artificially inflated the price of their goods in an eBay auction by bidding themselves. ® Related stories How scammers run rings round eBay Police cuff 28 in £10m counterfeit haul Eight fined in eBay auction scam Spanish eBayers in open revolt
Tim Richardson, 06 Dec 2004
Broken CD with wrench

Oracle's data center of the future doesn't include HP or Sun

HP and Sun Microsystems should take note. Oracle has announced its "architecture of the future," and HP and Sun have been left off the plans. Oracle today kicked off its OpenWorld customer conference in San Francisco with the company's President Charles Phillips giving the grandest of endorsements to Dell, Red Hat, Novell and Intel. These vendors, along with Oracle, will next year send executives around the globe to enlighten customers on what they see as the architecture or data center of the future, Phillips announced during a keynote. This architecture will obviously be centered around clusters of Linux servers tuned to run Oracle's "grid-enabled" database software instead of relying on the traditional, large Unix servers used by many Oracle customers. Oracle's decision to relegate HP and Sun to its "architecture of the past" must be seen as a major slight to the companies who joined Dell, EMC and Intel as the "diamond sponsors" of Oracle's conference. Almost comically, Phillips announced Oracle's architecture of the future just moments before he introduced HP's CEO Carly Fiorina as the first major keynote of OpenWorld. During her speech, Fiorina touted the performance of Oracle's database and cluster software running on HP's high-end Superdome servers with HP-UX. In case you're not keeping track, that's the architecture of the past. Admittedly, there isn't much meat to Oracle's architecture of the future plan. It's no secret that Oracle has been pushing Linux and specifically Linux clusters from Dell for a long time. In addition, all Oracle and its "partners of the future" plan to do is travel next year to 14 cities and hold seminars telling customers how wonderful their technology is. HP and Sun can surely afford to miss such gatherings. HP, however, must be feeling a bit burned by Phillips touting its arch-rival Dell just ahead of Fiorina's speech. Phillips did not even mention a deal between HP and Oracle announced on the day. The two companies plan to offer a bundle of Oracle's E-Business Suite Special Edition running on HP's ProLiant servers to resellers in North America. This program is meant to strengthen the companies' attack on small- and medium-sized businesses. Fiorina was left to talk up the shared effort on her own. While this architecture of the future gig isn't that big of a deal, HP and Sun have surely taken note of Oracle's Dell-loving agenda - not that there's much they can do about it. An Oracle spokeswoman describing the week's keynotes from Fiorina, Sun's Scott McNealy, EMC's Joe Tucci and Dell's Michael Dell went so far as to call Michael Dell her "personal favorite" in front of 25,000 customers and partners. Thanks for showing up, Carly. In a post-keynote question and answer session, Phillips indicated that Fiorina had noticed the snub. "There's nothing against Sun and HP not being involved," he said, according to IDG News Service's Stacy Cowley. "Carly let me know she was interested when she walked offstage." We bet she did. Also on the day, Oracle made a significant product announcement. It revealed its plans to make a major move in the business intelligence software market by announcing a product aptly named Oracle Business Intelligence 10g. This standalone software package is set to arrive in the first quarter. It includes some of the business analytics tools found in Oracle's Application Server product and then adds a couple more. The previous tools will still be included with the Enterprise Edition of the Application Server, but customers running lower-end versions of the Application Server software will now be able to pick up the business intelligence goodies separately. The four main components of Business Intelligence 10g are Oracle's Discoverer, Spreadsheet Add-In, Warehouse Builder and BI Beans tools. ® Related stories HP laughs off Tru64 promises, welcomes Veritas How MS will end the Dell - Intel love-in Linux set for ERP ascendency HP's Fiorina stood up by Argentina's President
Ashlee Vance, 06 Dec 2004

Sun shooting for double-digit piece of the x86 market

Sun Microsystems hopes to grab at least 10 percent of the x86 server market by 2007. The Register obtained this figure when a presentation meant for Sun's partners arrived on our desk. Sun is looking to sell 94,000 x86 servers next year, 200,000 in 2006 and 414,000 in 2007. In the US only market, Sun is looking to sell 40,000 units next year, 84,000 in 2006 and 174,000 in 2007. Interestingly, Sun has limited what it sees as the available x86 server market. A Sun slide shows the company estimating that 1.6m x86 servers fit into its selling zone in 2005. However, the total number of x86 system sold in 2005 by all vendors should be close to double that figure. The company explained that it used its own formulas to come up with an "addressable opportunity" for its x86 boxes. Sun is looking primarily at the market for Unix/Linux sales with just a bit of Windows sales thrown in. By 2007, Sun estimates that 2.5m x86 servers will be up for grabs in its "addressable opportunity" zone and 174,000 sales would give it 16 percent of that market. As previously reported, Sun has asked key partners to help it achieve these sales goals by offering them free systems and training. Sun's x86 efforts are centered around its current and upcoming Opteron-based servers. Sun does sell Xeon-powered boxes but rarely mentions the kit and seems to be straying away from the Intel path at pace. At present, Sun is in a type of server sales holding pattern. Its volume of SPARC-based systems sold has increased recently but revenue has remained very flat. Over the next couple of years, Sun will likely see its Unix sales decline, along with those of IBM and HP, at a slow and steady rate. Obviously the addition of 100,000 Opteron units to Sun's sales totals in 2005 would be a welcome change to this slow and steady decline. Sun would particularly benefit from any of the Opteron boxes sold with Solaris running on them, as this opens up other software sales. It's safe to imagine that optimistic minds at Sun are hoping for an even larger share of the x86 market than their partner estimates indicate. Sun has several Opteron systems that it has designed in-house which should roll out the door in early 2005. These boxes are meant to carry Sun's engineering expertise to the x86 market and catch competitors off guard. Numerous pundits, however, question whether Sun's past magic will work once again, especially in a market not always that dependent on research and development savvy. ® Related stories AMD took bigger slice of x86 server market in Q3 Sun begs partners to sell more Opteron servers Dell eclipses Sun in server sales
Ashlee Vance, 06 Dec 2004

Lycos goes straight

After a week of well-deserved criticism, Lycos is abandoning its scheme to launch denial-of-service attacks against spammy websites. Did the company reform in time to avoid criminal prosecution? A short-lived project by Lycos's European subsidiary to give users a method to "attack" spammers was an overall bad idea, albeit motivated by a laudable goal. On December 1, 2004 Lycos Europe NV offered users the ability to download a special screensaver that reportedly used the spare cycles of your computer to continuously send HTTP requests to a list of sites that Lycos has put on its "blacklist" as belonging to identified spammers. The assumption is that, if enough people download the screen saver, the "spammers" will be bombarded with tens of millions of HTTP requests, thereby slowing down their servers, and substantially impeding their ability to send spam. A spokesman for Lycos Europe reportedly defended the tactic stating that it was not a denial-of-service, since the attack was designed to only use up 95 per cent of the available bandwidth, always making sure that at least five per cent of capacity was available - thus, it was lawful, Lycos claimed, because service was not completely "denied." While the goal of eliminating spam and punishing spammers is a laudable one, the approach taken by Lycos Europe was not only wrong-headed, but likely felonious. The first problem with the Lycos screensaver solution arises out of the blacklist itself. While many companies maintain such a list, they don't appear to be required to have any particular standards for maintaining, updating, and most importantly removing entities from these lists. And woe to the unfortunate company or entity that finds itself on such a list through an accident or momentary oversight. Lycos' approach raises the blacklist stakes considerably. It's one thing to be on a list that prevents you from sending mail - quite another if your inclusion suddenly makes you the target of an attack. This is one of the primary reasons that the law traditionally disfavors "self-help". If my company were the victim of a distributed "almost denial-of-service" attack from users of the Lycos screensaver and blacklist, you bet I would be hauling their collective derrieres into court. Moreover, its not just the blacklisted entities that would suffer in these attacks. The ISPs that host these entities will also experience significant slowdown in performance, as will anyone else whose websites or services are hosted on the same ISP. This is particularly true if the ISP attempts to "load balance" the unusual volume of traffic. Now, you may reply: "Serves 'em right for hosting the damned spammers." Okay; fair enough. But such a result would mandate that the ISPs be responsible for the content, volume and nature of traffic sent across their networks. We already require ISP's to "take down" infringing copyrighted and trademarked materials, notify the cops if they see illegal porn - now we are going to require them to determine whether a website they host is promoted by someone sending too much email to the wrong people? I don't think so. Crime and Punishment The second issue for the screensaver purveyors is distinguishing such software from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and malicious spyware as applied to the computers onto which it is downloaded. If those who downloaded the screensaver weren't aware of the fact that they will be a vector for an attack, than the program might be illegal. The essence of the US computer crime statute, like the UK computer misuse act and its variants throughout Europe and Asia, is to proscribe "unauthorized access" to computers. Programs that run on your computer without effective consent and do things you don't want them to (like spyware and Trojans) potentially run afoul of these statutes. More importantly, if the downloaders did know that they were downloading software that is designed to slow down other people's computers without their consent, then the they themselves run the risk of criminal prosecution. It's not a valid defense to claim that an individual computer itself did not slow down the victim's computer. That means Lycos Europe was effectively encouraging thousands (if not millions) of people to engage in concerted illegal conduct. Another problem with the software is that it makes not only its purveyors but also its users potential targets for attack. It has already been reported (and denied) that Lycos Europe was the target itself of a denial-of-service attack. Although its developers claim that the IP addresses of those who use the screensaver and therefore send the traffic are not available to the victims, I personally don't see how you can establish HTTP sessions anonymously directly from your machine. Thus, corporate network owners may find themselves the victims of an escalation of attacks and counter-attacks. See what happens when we take the law into our own hands? Finally, to Lycos's claim that it was not furthering an "actual" denial-of-service, but merely slowing down the spammers' computers, I say "Nuts!" In fact, virtually none of the actual "denial-of-service" attacks that have been successfully prosecuted involved a complete denial-of-service. The law merely requires that the attack "affect" the victim's computer, or impair its operation. If a Trojan horse were to merely slow your computer down by 95 per cent, but not completely stop it, would this preclude a prosecution of either its author of its purveyors? After suffering week of well-deserved criticism, Lycos announced on Monday that it's abandoning the denial-of-service program. Smart move. In the US, we have a name for people who intentionally distribute and use software designed to impair the operations of others' computers without their consent. We call them "defendant." Copyright © 2004, Mark D. Rasch, J.D., is a former head of the Justice Department's computer crime unit, and now serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Security Counsel at Solutionary Inc. Related stories Lycos antispam site taken offline Hackers nobble Lycos anti-spam plan Lycos screensaver to blitz spam servers
Mark Rasch, 06 Dec 2004

Amazon unavailable for holiday shopping madness

Amazon.com went down just in time for the holidays. The shopping site was tossing up "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable" messages to users in the US throughout Monday. The problem started in the morning and continued on throughout the afternoon. According to The Register's clock, Amazon was mostly functional at 4:30 p.m. CST. Several readers, however, note that while they can access the site now, they are still unable to use the "My Account" tools. "We just had some intermittent problems this morning," said Amazon spokesman Craig Berman. Apparently "morning" defines a much broader stretch of time in Amazon country than it does elsewhere. Amazon reckons that it has "really complex systems" that will go down from time-to-time. Berman declined to provide any other details on the incident and said the company "probably will not" have more details to provide if we call back later. Given that this is prime shopping season, you have to imagine that Amazon lost more than a few sales due to the outage. Lucky for mum the site is back up and taking orders now. She'll be getting a copy of "Usability for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work" in time for Christmas. ® Related stories Amazon supremo joins space race Dell sued for alleged global sales patent abuse Amazon profits up (but not enough for Wall Street)
Ashlee Vance, 06 Dec 2004