9th > December > 2004 Archive

Oracle piles Files, App Server and Collab Suite on users

Oracle today made its biggest splash during the OpenWorld conference, announcing new products and updates to a number of its existing products. First up, Oracle went to work touting a new content management package it's calling Oracle Files 10g. The server software due out next year will be available as a standalone product and as a module for the Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g. Oracle is pitching the product as a type of broad content management tool that can be molded to serve different vertical markets. The software can be used for a variety of tasks such as file management, file sharing and work flow. Partners including Adobe, Sun Microsystems and Network Appliance all pledged to build their own tools that tap into the Files 10g software. Oracle also announced that Release 2 of its Application Server product will arrive this month. The company said the new release will work better with the latest version of J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and a host of web services standards. Oracle has been trying to gain share in the Application Server market from IBM and BEA. Away from Oracle's controlled messaging, the company was taken to task for delaying a significant update to its Collaboration Suite. The Collaboration Suite 10g software will not arrive until the middle of next year, which is at least a year delay, according to a report from IDG News Service. "We delayed it a little so we can have a robust content management offering as part of Collaboration Suite 10g," Rob Koplowitz, a senior director of product marketing at Oracle told IDG. "What overwhelmed us was this immense demand for content management functionality." Good spin. ® Related stories PeopleSoft customers learning to love Oracle Dell turns on too pricey Red Hat Oracle's data center of the future doesn't include HP or Sun
Ashlee Vance, 09 Dec 2004

Small.biz loves illegal software (true)

Nearly one in five small UK businesses would consider buying illegal software. A survey of technology trends among UK SMEs, conducted for Microsoft by YouGov, shows that 17 per cent would consider breaking the law in this way, despite the obvious risks to their reputation. The Business Software Alliance says small businesses are most likely to be caught out by counterfeit software, and are involved in more than 90 per cent of cases where illegal programmes are being used. It blames a lack of formal software purchasing policies for the problem. In other findings from the Microsoft study, 85 per cent of business owners said a PC was essential to their business, but despite this widespread recognition only 44 per cent thought that technology could boost the bottom line. More than three-quarters of small business managers use email on a daily basis, whereas just 60 per cent use their mobile phone every day. John Coulthard, director of small business at Microsoft UK, said: "The desktop PC is an intrinsic part of day-to-day operations but to their detriment, managers are failing to realise how technology can help their companies succeed. "Small business managers are unaware of the full capability of the technology that they've already purchased and as a result, they are missing out on a massive opportunity to be as competitive and aggressive as their larger rivals." Copyright © 2004, Related stories London Bridge Software fined for using unlicensed software MS sues resellers for counterfeit certificates BSA raises grass ceiling to £20K UK firm fined £30K for dodgy software 11 charged over 'biggest-ever' MS piracy bust
Startups.co.uk, 09 Dec 2004

McNealy slaps Oracle over pricing

Sun Microsystems has chastised Oracle for its software pricing policies. In his Oracle Openworld address yesterday, Sun CEO Scott McNealy called on Oracle to count chips with multiple processing cores per die as a single chip in per processor licensing schemes. Oracle, along with most of the major software makers, has decided to count dual-core chips such as Sun's UltraSPARC IV and upcoming products from Intel and AMD as two processors. Meanwhile, Sun and Microsoft have vowed to count multicore chips as single units in their pricing schemes. McNealy also took a jab at Oracle for being so vocal about its partnership with Dell and Intel. Historically, the companies are strong partners Earlier this week, Oracle launched a new marketing program with Dell, Intel, Red Hat and Novell, leaving key partners Sun and HP out of the mix. This clearly caught the attention of McNealy. "We have friends too," he said, during his Oracle OpenWorld keynote address. "You hang out with Michael (Dell); I'll hang out with Steve (Ballmer)." McNealy, however, urged that Sun plans to stay as tight as ever with Oracle. "We are planning to maintain that strong relationship," he said. "No matter how much Larry (Ellison) says Red Hat or Intel or Dell because we are their number one platform." Oracle and Sun made billions together during the dotcom boom. Recently though Oracle has been encouraging customers to consider Linux clusters as opposed to Unix systems for its database. ® Related stories< PeopleSoft customers learning to love Oracle Dell turns on too pricey Red Hat Oracle's data center of the future doesn't include HP or Sun
Ashlee Vance, 09 Dec 2004

IBM moves the database goalposts

AnalysisAnalysis At its annual analyst conference last week, IBM announced its next generation database. The big news is that this will not be a relational database. Or, to be more accurate, it will not just be a relational database. IBM has concluded, rightly in my view, that using a relational approach is not adequate for processing XML. Either you store it in relational format, in which case you get a major performance hit because you have to convert it to and from tabular format whenever you store or retrieve it, or you have to store it as a binary large object, in which case you can’t do any processing with it. So, using relational storage is inadequate for one reason or another, and IBM has concluded that another approach is necessary. The company’s next generation database will therefore have two storage engines: one relational store and one native XML store. And let me be quite clear about this: these engines will be completely separate, with separate tablespaces, separate indexes (Btrees and so forth on the one hand, and hierarchical on the other), and so on. On the other hand, all the database management stuff, autonomics, the optimiser and so forth, will all be held in common and sit above the two engines. So, there is a database management layer and two database storage engines. This raises the question as to whether you might have more than two storage engines, to which the answer, in principal, is yes. As far as marketing is concerned, IBM has not yet decided on the name of the new product which, incidentally, has been in alpha since June, and will be entering beta shortly. It is likely that the XML storage engine will be offered as an optional extra though there is obviously the possibility that you might want to license the XML database without the relational engine. As and when IBM moves the DB2 content repository to the new platform (something which has not been announced but which is an obvious next move), this could be a possibility. So much for the hard facts; now for some opinion. First, I think this leaves Oracle and Sybase (as the two vendors with the best current handle on XML) well behind the curve, with Microsoft and the others more or less out of sight. What this release will allow you to do is to build applications that handle both XML and relational data much more easily, without losing any of the richness that this implies, and without degrading performance. To a certain extent this release will help those few remaining vendors with pure XML databases: Software AG, Ipedo and Xyleme, for example; as it validates native XML storage. However, apart from specialised applications, most users want to be able to combine transactional and XML data which is what IBM is doing and these companies are not. This may change in the case of Software AG (see forthcoming article) but in the meantime, of the three companies mentioned, it is most likely to be Xyleme that benefits, as it is essentially a content management database vendor, whereas the other two (at present) are now mostly focused on integration. Finally, I expect to see Oracle, in particular, to froth at the mouth at this announcement. It will no doubt declare that this is the wrong direction and the wrong road. In my opinion it will be Oracle that is wrong: you just can’t get both the necessary flexibility and performance that you need for XML unless you are prepared to move away from a purely relational approach. So any frothing at the mouth will be exactly that: froth and bubble. Related stories Sybase partners with IBM Oracle rebuilds Warehouse IBM puts new DB2 up for inspection
Philip Howard, 09 Dec 2004

TI narrows Q4 forecasts

Texas Instruments this week narrowed its Q4 revenue forecast as the world's semiconductor buyers continue to use up inventory rather than take product rolling off chip makers' production lines. TI previously said the three months to 31 December - the company's fourth fiscal quarter - would yield group revenues in the range $2.96-3.20bn. This week it said it now anticipated the final figure would fall between $3.02bn and $3.14bn. Group earnings will range from 25 to 27 cents a share, compared to 24-28 cents a share from the last guidance note. TI's chip business is now expected to contribute $2.68-2.78bn out of that total, from the $2.63-2.83bn previously forecast. The company said the revised forecast was made the better to take into account the "ongoing inventory adjustments, especially in standard products sold through distribution channels". ® Related stories Intel 'firing on all cylinders' - CEO Samsung maps huge chip biz expansion iSuppli cuts 2005 chip sales growth target World chip sales to fall next year - analyst Intel bumps Q4 forecast higher World chip sales edge up in October Intel to retain top chip maker title on 04... Intel's Barrett looks for chip sales growth in '05 Chip trade body revises 2004 sales downward TSMC, UMC fab utilisation to plummet in Q4 TI launches 'digital TV on a phone' scheme
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

Intel demos 65nm dual-core mobile CPU

Intel has shown off its dual-core, 65nm 'Yonah' mobile processor, but don't expect it to ship until 2006, the chip giant said. That could be seen as a slippage of the processor's release schedule, but since recent roadmaps have the part down for a very late 2005 introduction, a slide into 2006 shouldn't come as any great surprise. Doubly so, since Yonah is expected to be fabbed using the next generation of process technology. Last month, Stat/MDR analyst Jim McGregor, claimed Intel had "quietly pushed out manufacturing on 65nm [to] 2006". What McGregor called "challenging industry conditions" could see the process' ramp fall back to "mid-2006 or later". At the time, an Intel spokeswoman denied the allegation: "We did not push out our roadmap. Our 65nm process technology will be ready in 2005. High-volume products will ship in 2006." That essentially means limited quantities of silicon in 2005, enough to record revenue from it, with the chip itself being formally launched in 2006 just after it goes into mass-production. Yonah is believed to be based on a pair of Dothan cores. It will form part of 'Napa', the third generation Centrino, with the 'Callistoga' chipset and the 'Golan' WLAN adaptor. The latter will add WiMAX and 3G support, Intel has suggested. Callistoga will essentially update the upcoming 'Alviso' chipset family - aka 915PM and 915GM - with a more powerful integrated graphics engine. Alviso is already shipping in limited quantities ahead of its formal introduction early next month. Yonah won't be Intel's first dual-core CPU - the desktop-oriented 'Smithfield' is expected to grab that honour next summer. But it will be the chip giant's first 65nm processor. What speeds and feeds the part will support are not known, and were not mentioned at the analysts' meeting at which the chip's early silicon was previewed. ® Related stories Intel poo-poos 65nm delay claim Intel talks dual Pentium Ms Intel 'firing on all cylinders' - CEO Intel next-gen Centrino chipset ships Intel CEO touts 'much improved' H1 '05 growth Intel puts back 90nm P4EE to Q1 '05 - report Intel said to have set 'Sonoma' launch at 17 Jan '05 Intel 'delays' Centrino 2 chipset to Q1 2005
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

Samsung samples 512Mb GDDR 3 part

Samsung will put a 512Mb GDDR 3 SDRAM chip into full-scale production early next year, the chip maker has said. The chip, which will be pitched at high-end graphics cards and games consoles, Samsung noted, has just started rolling off the South Korean giant's production lines in sample quantities. GDDR 3 operates at 1.8V, down from the original GDDR spec's 2.5V. It is also designed to support higher clock frequencies than its predecessor, up to 800MHz and above. It provides an aggregate bandwidth of 6.4GBps per device thanks to a 1.6Gbps per pin data rate. The third-generation GDDR spec. was first announced by its developer, ATI, back in October 2002, with support from Micro, Elpida and Infineon. Micron was first to claim it had begun sampling GDDR 3 chips in June 2003. Ironically, given the technology's creator, it was Nvidia that first shipped a board based on GDDR 3 - the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, in March 2004. The card used memory chips made by Samsung. Samsung cited research suggesting the graphics-oriented memory market will total $1.47bn next year, up 30 per cent on 2004's expected total. ® Related stories Nvidia touts GDDR 3 'first' Micron samples first GDDR 3 chips ATI designs fast graphics DRAM spec, enlists vendor support Nvidia to unveil 'nForce for Intel' Q1 05 ATI unveils Radeon X850 XT PE, X800 XL ATI rolls out X300, X800 mobile GPUs Nvidia ships mobile GeForce 6800 ATI unveils integrated, discrete Radeon Xpress chipsets ATI tapes out 90nm R5xx chip ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets Nvidia details nForce 4 Nvidia pushes GeForce 6200 at value end
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

The Register upgrades RSS feeds

Today, The Register has made a modest upgrade for our RSS feeds. The description now contains the first paragraph of the story as well as the intro/sub-head. We think this is more useful, and we hope that you do too. (Readers using Live Bookmarks in Firefox won't see the difference, as Firefox only displays headlines.) However, we recognise that things can break when you introduce improvements, so for the time being we are maintaining the old-style feed for current users. This means that you will need to make a deliberate decision to swap over to the new format. More about our RSS feeds here. Any problems? Contact Aaron Crane, our Technical Overlord. ®
Drew Cullen, 09 Dec 2004
cable

Disney backs Blu-ray

Sony has won Disney's support for its Blu-ray Disc (BD) hi-definition video optical format. Disney's home video operation, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, said it will ship "popular new releases and classic pictures" on BD when suitable "hardware launches in the North America and Japan". This is expected to take place in a year or so. Buena Vista issues pre-recorded content under a variety of labels, including Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Hollywood Pictures Home Video, Touchstone Home Entertainment, Miramax Home Entertainment, Dimension Home Video and Disney DVD. However, while its parent, the Walt Disney Company is to take a seat on the Blu-ray Disc Association's board, Buena Vista said the decision to release product on BD is not exclusive. This pavies the way for parallel releases on HD DVD while the market decides which format - in the pre-recorded content market, at least - will prevail. Last month, Toshiba, co-developer and arch-evangelist of the HD DVD format, announced four major home video companies had agreed to back the next-generation DVD. Warner, Paramount, Universal and New Line Cinema will offer movies on HD DVD. Again, such releases are around a year away. The four studios account for 45 per cent of the US retail DVD market. But Buena Vista accounts for a fair chunk too - around 20 per cent of the total. In 2003, it jostled with Warner for market leadership and was claimed five of the year's top ten DVD releases. BD and HD DVD boost the capacity of the 12cm disc by using a blue laser to read the data off the carrier rather than the red laser used in today's DVD systems. The shorter wavelength of blue light means that the 'spots' on the disc's surface, used to encode digital data, can be smaller. Smaller spots means more of them in a given area - a higher capacity, in other words. And, as some observers have pointed out, a greater risk that scratches and marks will spoil playback. Blu-ray wins on the capacity front, offering 25GB on a single-layer disc to HD DVD's 20GB and a more aggressive roadmap to increase capacity. The downside is the need for entirely new disc production lines. HD DVD, by contrast, calls for existing DVD pressing rigs to be retooled rather than replaced. It also has the strength of the DVD brand, which has been very strongly pushed to consumers over the last seven years or so. Toshiba this week announced a hybrid disc containing HD and regular DVD content, making it capable of working in today's DVD players and tomorrow's HD DVD units. ® Related stories Toshiba touts DVD/HD DVD hybrid Major studios back HD DVD HP confirms plans for Blu-ray Toshiba preps HD DVD notebook PC CE giants 'readying Blu-ray camcorders' DVD Forum finalises HD DVD-RW disc spec Blu-ray group mandates Microsoft codec for BD-ROM European sofas brace for HDTV Blu-ray movie disc format unveiled
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

$5bn market to sort wireless hodgepodge

There's a $5bn market for anybody who can help smaller companies manage their wireless and mobile hardware, says Strategy Analytics in a new report. "Managing a hodgepodge of wireless devices as fully administered extensions of a company's IT fabric is a daunting proposition," observes author Cliff Raskind, summarising his findings. The report, "Market Outlook: Strategic Perspectives on Enterprise Mobile Device Management," says the issue "will be most acute for smaller businesses, less able to exercise control over a growing population of network-hungry devices as diverse as the individuals who purchased them." This report also highlights opportunities available to mobile operators and MDM (mobile device management) players such as Sybase's iAnywhere (formerly Xcellenet Afaria) that can effectively remove the device management barrier to wireless adoption "by addressing an expanded scope of IT concerns." Beyond patching application software and configuring device settings OTA (over-the-air) potential showstoppers include "the inability to lockdown a device in the event it is lost or stolen, or remotely enforce data encryption, synchronisation and/or backups," says the report. The operators can also score, says the report, by helping users thread their way through billing options. Today's user will have to personally manage a switch from the GSM network to the local WiFi hotspot, and again, when moving back into their office, the switch to their own office LAN. Raskind says the MDM market, now dominated by software licensing, is poised to grow ten-fold by 2010 into a $5bn global market dominated by managed services. "Early enterprise adoption of mobility has either been the result of proactive, well considered strategies granting wireless access to process workers, or reactive short term measures in response to the uncoordinated purchases of wireless devices by knowledge workers," he summarised. "In both cases, IT managers have to make critical policy decisions to protect the integrity of enterprise IT services." The problem, Raskind believes, is that with PCs, it's very clear who owns the device. With mobile and wireless, these policy decisions are not helped by the "unclear lines of device ownership - and the mobility inherent in wireless devices." Some of the strategies available to larger outfits are pretty sophisticated, but the opportunities lie elsewhere. "The market will ultimately be lead by SME's seeking competitive advantage and cost reduction by leveraging less expensive smartphones and personal productivity solutions like email available from operators," he said. What he calls an "under-served SME segment" will provide greater opportunities for operators in terms of service differentiation in the form of customer support and network-centric MDM tasks like least-cost routing and device lockdown. "However, the SME market will not be without challenges, as IT comes under increasing pressure to accommodate users who 'self-fulfill' with their own open OS smartphones." Here, successful operator differentiation must enable smaller businesses to uniformly manage a heterogeneous assortment of devices - one-in-three of which will be purchased outside of the operator's portfolio, Raskind believes. © NewsWireless.Net Related stories Nokia makes play for mobile content Official: crackers have broken into GPRS billing Operators wake up to mobile enterprise needs
Guy Kewney, 09 Dec 2004

Laptops go on sperm killing rampage

Men who use laptops could be risking their fertility, a US study warns. Heat from the processor can cause the temperature of the testes to rise almost three degrees, more than enough to damage sperm, the research reveals. Researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook have warned men to be careful about using notebook computers on their laps. Yefim Sheynkin, director of male infertility and microsurgery at the university, said: "As well as being capable of producing direct local heat, they require the user to sit with his thighs close together to balance the machine, which traps the scrotum between the thighs." Sheynkin explained that sperm concentration could be decreased by 40 per cent per 1°C increase. "The body needs to maintain a proper testicular temperature for normal sperm production," he said. The researchers found that after just fifteen minutes use, the temperature of the scrotum had risen by 1°C. After more prolonged use, the temperature rose by as much as 2.8°C. Earlier studies have shown that temperature rises in this range have a detrimental effect on sperm production. The study, which was published in the journal Human Reproduction, recommends that men keep their laptops on their desks, to avoid making "irreversible changes" to their fertility. ® Related stories Mobile phones rot your balls Mice grow monkey sperm Lesbian sperm bank site proves popular
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Dec 2004

Ofcom slaps premium rate industry

Ofcom is targeting telephone network operators in a crackdown against rogue operators that rip-off customers with expensive premium-rate phone calls. This tough stand follows growing concerns about the fraudulent and misleading use of premium rate services including rogue internet diallers which re-route dial up internet connections onto premium rate numbers without customers' knowledge or consent. These numbers - which begin with 09 and cost up to £1.50 a minute on a BT line - are typically used for TV vote lines, competitions, adult services, chat lines, mobile phone ring tone downloads and interactive TV games. However, an increasing part of the £830m a year industry is being hijacked by crooks who think it's an easy way to make money. As part of a wide reange of measures designed to crack down on rogue operators, telecoms regulator Ofcom wants to delay payment to all service providers for at least 30 days. This would give staff at ICSTIS - the premium-rate regulator - time to investigate complaints into whether or not a service provider was running a scam. Ofcom wants all revenues to be frozen during any ICSTIS investigation - and if necessary for a further three months after an investigation is complete - to ensure that there is money available to repay anyone ripped off by the scammers. Ofcom also wants network operators to keep more detailed information on the service providers they deal with and to increase the maximum fine of £100,000 against those found to be running bent services. Said Ofcom chief exec Stephen Carter: "There is a clear need for action here. These are necessary changes to ensure consumer confidence in the premium rate industry for the long term." Some of the proposals put forward by Ofcom today are already being introduced while others will be subject to public consultation during next year. If all this is too scary, punters can contact their own telco to get premium numbers blocked. For instance, BT will block all calls to premium-rate numbers for free. But if you like to vote in "I'm a Celeb" or "X-Factor", you can pay a couple of quid a month and block calls selectively. ® Related stories Ofcom to crack down on premium rate scamsters 'Dial 9' email (still) a hoax, says watchdog US company fined for UK rogue dialler scam Scammers fined £125k for premium-rate fraud UK watchdog blocks 11 rogue dialler operators BT blocks 1,000 rogue dialler numbers
Tim Richardson, 09 Dec 2004

The strange death of the mass mailing virus

Mass mailing viruses will go the way of macro viruses and become much rarer next year. Viruses such as Sober and MyDoom are simply not as effective as they used to be, Kevin Hogan, a Symantec Europe manager, notes. "People know it’s risky to double click on viruses. For virus writers there's no technical kudos. Also mass mailing viruses are noisy, bringing attention to themselves, and that goes against the trend of developing malware that hides its presence on infected systems," he said. Last year Hogan predicted browser vulnerabilities would become less important in 2004: "I've had to eat my words on that. IE vulnerabilities are often used to surreptitiously load malware onto people's PCs. Client side flaws will continue to be important next year." Once upon a time, Virus writers were motivated by notoriety, but now the profit motive is more important. The use of keylogging Trojans in phishing scams is one way they can make money. Selling access to botnets - networks of compromised machines - is another potential money-spinner, as is adware. According to Hogan, adware purveyors are becoming more aggressive about getting their code onto PCs. Adware that uses software vulnerabilities to spread, hide itself and that is difficult to uninstall is becoming more common, he says. Rise of the machines The first half of 2004 saw a huge increase in zombie PCs. Also called bots, their average numbers rose between January and June from under 2,000 to more than 30,000 per day - peaking at 75,000 on one day, Symantec reports. Botnets are computers infected by worms or Trojans and taken over surreptitiously by hackers and brought into networks to send spam, more viruses, or launch denial of service attacks. Increased collaboration, at least in development, between malware authors means this problem is likely to get worse in 2005. Mass mailing viruses such as SoBig and Trojans such as Gaobot (AKA Phatbot or Agobot), Randex and Spybot are used to create botnets. The source code for Gaobot is in the public domain and has been modified and reposted by "thousands worldwide". "Gaobot has a plug-in architecture. If you want to add exploit code there are people to help you modify it," Hogan says. How to hijack a botnet The easy availability of "common or shared source malware" makes it easier to develop customised attacks. This pooling of knowledge creates a means for crackers to steal access to compromised machines. "You don't have to go to the trouble of setting up a botnet, you can steal it," Hogan explains. "If you know the IRC channel compromised machines join and the Gaobot command set you can hijack access. You can get compromised machines to run a customised version of Gaobot that logs them onto a new channel." Symantec reckons virus writers and those who run botnets are two distinct groups. "It takes a lot of effort to maintain a botnet, keeping a record of which machines are alive and which are dead. Maintaining a botnet detracts from time spent writing new worms and the skills are different," Nolan says. ® Related stories Rise of the Botnets Who would you like to attack today? 'White collar' virus writers make cash from chaos Zombie PCs spew out 80% of spam Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs
John Leyden, 09 Dec 2004

Marine Corps deploys Fallujah biometric ID scheme

US forces in Iraq are attempting to tame Fallujah with biometric ID, according to an NBC news report broadcast last week. The returning population of up to 250,000, reporter Richard Engel said on Tom Brokaw's last Nightly News, is to be allowed back in gradually, a few thousand at a time. "They'll be finger printed, given a retina scan and then an ID card, which will only allow them to travel around their homes or to nearby aid centers, which are now being built. The Marines will be authorized to use deadly force against those breaking the rules." Get an ID card or we'll shoot you - a possible slogan for David Blunkett's ID card marketing campaign? But although that's pretty much the bottom line, the Fallujah effort is particularly interesting as an apparent attempt to use ID to control a large population which is at least uncooperative, possibly hostile, and possibly armed. Bearing these factors in mind it's difficult to see how it can possibly succeed. The underlying theory of the effort can be identified fairly readily. The US has taken quite a few cues from Israel, which operates intensive ID checks (and massive strikes and punishment demolitions), and has been trying to implement an ID system in Iraq, operating small scale exercises in 'controlled access.' This draws on the 'secure hamlet' approach which was used by the British in South Africa (where we pioneered concentration camps, oops) and in Malaya, where it was at least rather better marketed. Alex Jones of Prison Planet has a clip of the relevant broadcast, and in 1999 Jones covered a Marine Corps exercise in Oakland, California, where "resistance fighters" were contained in a mock camp and biometrically scanned. This was part of Operation Urban Warrior, an exercise which took place at several US locations and which also involved the UK, Australia, Canada, Holland and France (no, seriously - this was 1999-2000). Another eye-witness account, where the Marine Corps conducts some kind of census of the Chicago sewer system, can be found here. Although most of the links from the Urban Warrior homepage have ceased to function, it makes it clear that the Marine Corps' training pre-Iraq was for rather different conditions, anticipating only "mid-intensity combat operation in an urban environment against a backdrop of civil unrest, [with the mission to] restore order." A 100-strong contingent from the UK's elite Comacchio Group (now the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, which guards the UK's nuclear capability against sundry threats, including demonstrators, was present at the Oakland operation, which was intended to simulate combat in urban areas, dealing with both an 'enemy' and a civilian population. The plan underlying Fallujah's ID scheme and phased return may be an effort to stop it reverting to a hostile no-go area for security forces, but it's doubtful that this could entirely work. It won't be possible to stop arms and insurgents who haven't been issued with ID from infiltrating an area of this size, nor (once they have) will it be feasible to operate intensive ID checks that could maintain a 'clean' population. By keeping sufficient forces there and keeping a tight lid on the movement of the inhabitants it may be possible to stop Fallujah from blowing up again, but that isn't of major significance against the backdrop of the rest of Iraq, and most of the things governments anticipate they could do with biometric ID in a peaceful society aren't going to be particularly relevant. At the moment, however, the biometric factor has a relevance in terms of producing some kind of local census backed up by a difficult to forge ID that can be tied to the individual. In areas that have been secured, it will be possible to do a local check on the ID, but that clearly only applies in secured areas where the population has submitted to the ID programme. And as the marines are not going to be able to secure, Fallujah-style, the whole of Iraq, it's difficult to see this one as anything other than a weird experiment without any obvious long-term pay-off. (Thanks to Garland and Cryptogon for drawing this one to our attention). ® Related links: Some transcripts of the broadcast
John Lettice, 09 Dec 2004

KDDI unveils 'Love Mate' Windows Wi-Fi phone

Japanese mobile phone network KDDI this week introduced what may be the nation's first Windows Mobile 2003-based 3G smart phone, the intriguingly named 'Love Mate'. KDDI said the handsets are aimed at visitors attending the Aichi World Expo 2005, which kicks off in March and runs through to the end of September. It's not clear at this stage whether they will have a life beyond the show. Love Mate's two versions are dubbed Orange and Blue. Both feature Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition for PocketPC software for PDA and phone operation, said KDDI. Both sport neck/hand bands. To that, Orange adds 3G, CDMA (1x WIN) support, 802.11b Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 1.2, along with web and email software to take full advantage of these numerous wireless connectivity options. Orange is in part pitched at non-Japanese speakers, so presumably it will ship with English-language software and possibly some form of visual translation code to help them navigate the show. KDDI hopes it will particularly appeal to World Expo visitors from overseas. The Blue variant appears to lack the communications components that Orange boasts. Instead it's intended as a portable information terminal to be used by visitors as they make their way around the Expo - essentially doing what Orange does, but without the phone and WLAN functionality. It will operate as a PDA, however. A CompactFlash slot is used to add a Wi-Fi card. There's a mini SD slot in both machines too. KDDI said it will offer 3800 Orange Love Mates and 1200 Blues. Both handsets measure 15.5 x 6.7 x 2.5cm, so they're by no means compact devices. Orange weighs 220g, Blue 190g. Both units are based on a 520MHz Intel PXA270 CPU backed by 128MB of SDRAM and 64MB of ROM. The screen is a 2.8in 240 x 320 job, and there's a VGA digicam. The power pack is a 1950mAh battery, capable of giving three hours' Wi-Fi usage for the Blue and four hours for the Orange. With Wi-Fi off, Orange offers 30 hours' stand-by time and 150 minutes' call time, KDDI said. Device development was handled by Fujitsu. ® Related stories Virgin Mobile goes to China PalmSource to build Palm OS on Linux O2 unveils compact PocketPC phone Tapwave offers Zodiac Wi-Fi pack to UK users Samsung phones outsell Motorola's Nokia aims to dominate mobile email Americas lead booming mobile phone biz Bust-hungry Oz beach perv busted
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

Amazon UK rents DVDs

Amazon UK has entered the DVD rental business in a bid to cash-in on this growing sector of the entertainment industry. For £7.99 a month, subscribers can have two movies at home at one time, with a total of four DVD rentals a month. For £9.99 per month, film buffs can hang on to three movies at home with a total of six DVD rentals a month. The movies are posted to them free of charge from a list of DVDs punters want to see. Once they return a movie, the next on the list is sent. Said Robin Terrell, Amazon.co.uk's country manager: "Our new DVD rental programme offers customers yet another convenient way to enjoy Amazon.co.uk's deep selection and unparalleled online experience. Since we already have their payment and billing information, the millions of existing Amazon.co.uk customers can sign up for the programme with just one click." ® Related stories Netflix delays UK launch Netflix, TiVo sign VoD alliance UK DVD rental firms merge
Tim Richardson, 09 Dec 2004

The American way of spying gets a makeover

A controversial intelligence reform bill inspired by the 9/11 Commission has finally passed through both chambers of Congress and will soon be signed by the President. The bill, which had previously been stalled by House Republicans, was approved by a wide margin during a brief lame-duck session this week, after language that the nay-sayers believed could allow civilian authorities to hamper military intelligence gathering and dissemination was re-jiggered. National scapegoat The main feature is a new national intelligence czar, to whom, it is imagined, the many federal agencies engaged in intel and counterterrorism will report. Previously, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the de facto Godfather; but he has no budgetary control over other agencies, hence no power to punish, and is more than occupied with the task of administering the CIA, and testifying before myriad Congressional committees. The new post will have some budgetary authority, but not a lot. Republican skeptics believed that putting too much power in the hands of a civilian could jeopardize military operations, so there was a last-minute scaling-down to get the bill passed. This may result in one of Congress's most plentiful products, a 'worst-of-both-worlds' compromise. Critics charge that the last thing needed in any reform effort is another layer of Washington bureaucracy, and there's wisdom in that position. Supporters claim that someone has got to be in charge of the 20+ agencies involved in national security, or they'll be doomed to work at cross purposes. The reform bill, as adopted, gives us someone in charge, but doesn't give him all the power he needs to succeed, if, indeed, he can succeed. Basically, the bill creates an Office of Security Scapegoat, so that the next time the United States suffers a spectacular, mass-casualty attack, Congress will know who to blame. This feature alone accounts for much of its allure among Members. Whenever things go sideways, Congress is always looking for someone to blame. Members find it comforting to know ahead of time who that unfortunate bugger will be. I spy with my little eye The bill marks the federal government's final triumph over the Act of Posse Comitatus, a niggling restriction on the use of military assets in domestic law enforcement. Boosters have used such gimmicky euphemisms as "breaking down the walls" and "connecting the dots" to describe the business of wholesale intel sharing among military and law-enforcement bodies, but the wind up is that distinctions between the two are being dissolved on counterterrorist pretexts. There are new, expanded powers and lower barriers for federal electronic wiretaps; and there is a most regrettable expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that basically lets the Feds apply it to anyone they wish to investigate without first establishing that they are, in fact, foreign agents. The bill also throws extra money at futile biometric ID schemes, and makes gestures toward standardized driver's licenses and birth certificates. It lays the early groundwork for the eventual establishment of a national, biometrically-enhanced ID card, without really saying so. People would complain about that, so the idea here is to equip us with them before we know what they really imply. Window dressing On the plus side, the bill mandates a certain amount of futile Congressional oversight (as if there weren't enough of that already), and the establishment of a White House privacy and civil liberties liaison to help with policy decisions, in case the President wishes to be so advised. Unfortunately, the White House remains in a position to sideline the privacy and civil liberties office in case it should become troublesome, as it might when, say, a war is proposed on utterly fictional pretenses, or when people with Arabic names might need to be sweated in jails without access to legal counsel. Not that this would ever occur in such a highly-evolved Democracy as the USA, mind, which is bringing Liberty and the blessings of a bourgeois Protestant God to the far corners of the Earth. But, theoretically, it could happen if, by some odd chance, the Bill of Rights or the Geneva Conventions were ignored, say. Purely an outside chance, certainly. ® Related stories Close the email wiretap loophole Ashcroft proposes vast new surveillance powers
Thomas C Greene, 09 Dec 2004
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Dell to build second factory in Europe

Dell is looking to build a second manufacturing plant in Europe, but Ireland is unlikely to be considered as a possible location. The PC maker has confirmed reports of a speech made by founder and chairman Michael Dell this week that it is considering a new plant to deal with increased demand. The company reports 30 per cent growth in Europe in the past year. Dell has a plant in Limerick, Ireland which employs more than 3000 people; but high manufacturing and labour costs mean that it is unlikely that Dell would consider establishing a second plant in the Republic. In his speech at the Oracle World San Francisco, Michael Dell didn't specify a location for the new plant. Industry sources quoted by Reuters claim that France is under consideration. But other reports have quashed this speculation, claiming that the new Dell plant will be located elsewhere. A spokesperson for Dell told ElectricNews.Net that the firm is assessing needs for additional manufacturing capacity, but Limerick remains central to European operations: "Dell is a growing company and we constantly evaluate options of expansion into countries in order to meet the demands of that growth in a way that provides the best value to our customers. "With continued strong growth in the region, it is reasonable that in time Dell will require additional manufacturing capacity, however neither a location nor a timeframe has been agreed and at this time our European Manufacturing Facility in Limerick Ireland currently has capacity to serve the region." The establishment of a second manufacturing plant in Europe is considered an unusual move for any firm in the computer-making business, with most Dell's rivals producing PCs via contract manufacturers in Asia. This week number three PC maker IBM announced it would transfer its PC business to a joint venture controlled by China's Lenovo, in a $2bn deal. PC market on the rise However Dell's decision to expand its European manufacturing base coincides with a predicted rise in PC shipments next year. According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, strong third quarter results and ongoing commercial activity are reinforcing expectations for market growth in 2005. Although growth in worldwide consumer PC shipments slipped to less than eight per cent in the third quarter of 2004 from a peak of over 25 per cent a year ago, growth in commercial shipments of 15.9 per cent was down only one per cent from a 4.5 year high of 16.9 per cent in the first half of 2004, and was up from 13.5 per cent a year ago. "We've expected the market to slow from peak recovery in 2004 since mid-2001," said Loren Loverde, director of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "However, despite the relatively weak consumer market, commercial and portable demand continue to drive growth." Commercial growth is expected to slow in 2005 as the recent recovery matures, but should remain relatively robust at 11.3 per cent, versus projected consumer growth of only eight per cent. Total shipments are expected to reach $195.1m in 2005 on growth of 10.1 percent, with total shipment value growing by 3.9 per cent to $201bn. © ENN Related stories IBM CEO's memo clarifies PC biz sell-off IBM sells PC biz to China The post-PC era is upon us Weak US drags down PC sales growth Dell drops out of China's low-end PC market UK PC biz sees best growth for four years
ElectricNews.net, 09 Dec 2004

The Met goes psyops with bus station weapons 'detector'

The Metropolitan Police's x-ray weapons scanner is having an outing this week as part of the Operation Blunt knife crime initiative. A scanner has also been deployed to operate on passengers at Hammersmith bus station, but this one is not a Rapiscan 1000 x-ray unit - which is significant. According to an eye-witness account published at Spy Blog, the Hammersmith unit ("Two metal poles with boxes mounted on them, with red and white flashing lights") is a heavily detuned conventional metal detector sited at one escalator, with no other exit covered. At a busy interchange a detector can't realistically be set to actually detect much, given that it will be set off by keys, mobile phones, money, all the bits and pieces you have to put in the tray before you walk through the detector at the airport. It has got to be, as Spy Blog says, "security theatre." The Hammersmith scanner clearly has an effect in terms of profile and getting people used to the idea of being scanned, and might have had some impact before word got around. Luckless tooled-up youths walking through it could be searched, tooled-up youths obviously walking around it could be searched too, but in operation it would really only be a pretext to stop and search suspicious-looking youth, rather than a genuine deployment of weapons-detection equipment. It is not clear what powers are being used by the police for these procedures, but it might be possible to use section 60 of the 1994 Public Order Act, which does not require reasonable suspicion that an individual may be carrying offensive weapons, but which can be deployed in response to "a major increase in robberies at knife-point in a small area; or reports that individuals are regularly carrying weapons in a particular area" (Home Office guidance July 2004). Is that stretching it? Guidelines currently require that details of the search be recorded by the officer responsible, while new rules coming into effect in April will also require the stop to be recorded. But even without the stop and search such a deployment requires the presence of officers, at the very least to make sure nobody steals the detector. Which makes it even more of an exercise in being seen to be tackling knife crime. The deployment is described as a pilot, for this week only, and the overall exercise is taking place in Hammersmith, Sutton and Southwark, with a rollout to the rest of of London planned in the future. A rollout of what is not entirely clear. What about the x-ray machines? The Rapiscan, which is a cubicle affair (which takes your clothes off, yes we know) is even less appropriate for a high throughput security checkpoint than a conventional metal detector. And as it is a mobile unit, putting it in a fixed location for any length of time is a bit silly. So you can't put it in busy places, there's a limit to how frequently you can use it to say, cordon a pub and search everybody inside, and responding to knife crime by using it to search everybody in a shopping centre isn't likely to prove totally popular. Skip privacy and civil liberties, people - what imbecile bought this useless piece of gear in the first place? Well, an upside is that the Met at least appears not have paid for it. The current operations are described by the Metropolitan Police Authority, here, where among other thing it tells us "The X ray machine is supplied at no cost." It's at least conceivable that the Home Office's stocks, which have been offered on loan to other forces, are all evaluation samples, but that still wouldn't provide adequate justification for the costs associated with the deployment of the devices. The MPA document, which describes Operation Blunt as "initiative to deter young people from carrying knives on the streets of London", makes it pretty clear that it's consciously a marketing operation, as opposed to one that can be expected to produce many actual arrests. It notes that the initiative "affects this section of the community to a greater extent than the general population" ("this" being young people, but more likely young black people) and therefore: "To mitigate this there are specific activities in this initiative to engage and consult with young people, so that they can inform us on what would deter them from carrying knives." The x ray machine will therefore be taken to "key public events for demonstration purposes to illustrate to young people the technology available for detecting the carrying of knives. It will provide an opportunity for the exhibitors of this equipment to discuss with young people the reason why knives are so prevalent and what could be done to prevent them being carried." So, impressively, there's a conventional metal detector at Hammersmith operating under conditions where it can't rationally detect much useful, and a more sophisticated x ray scanner which is largely inappropriate for live deployments being used as part of a marketing campaign to show young people what the technology can do (except it can't really), and to engage them in discussion about knife crime. It's psyops, but actually down there underneath the huge pile of techno-flummery you can see the Met starting to arrive at our best shot at an answer. It isn't possible to stop people carrying knives by detecting all the knives and confiscating them, and even if you (accompanied by choruses of 'What have you got to hide?') soften up the public to accept selective area stop and searches, you're still only running a marketing campaign. Actually getting people to stop carrying weapons is a much more complex task involving, among many other factors, engagement and persuasion. That's a tough one, and not something the Met can do on its own, but as the tech-based approach clearly can't work at all, it's better than the alternative. But couldn't we maybe just drop the technology nonsense, skip the tough talking about sentencing from the Home Office and cut straight to the point, in future? ® Related links: BBC news report Clarke's x-ray specs - police swoops, detectors for schools Home Office stalls on weapons scanner health risks 'See through clothes' scanner gets outing at Heathrow
John Lettice, 09 Dec 2004
fingers pointing at man

Canon loses printer recycling case

Selling recycled Canon printer cartridges does not constitute an infringement of the company's intellectual property, the Tokyo District Court has ruled. The judgement marks the latest stage in Canon's legal battle against printer cartridge recycler Recycle Assist (RA). In April this year, Canon sued RA, claiming the company was violating its patents. The verdict, that RA wasn't, paves the way for other such companies to begin taking in old printer cartridges and refilling them with ink or toner - with a commensurate loss to the major printer makers' earnings from new cartridge sales. Such are the juicy margins on new printer consumables, the printer manufacturers have been willing to stop at almost nothing to defend them. In the US, Lexmark has similarly been pursuing Static Control Corporation (SCC) through the courts in order to block the company from selling toner cartridges compatible with its own. Despite some initial success, centred on its use of the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Lexmark has since seen the case go SCC's way on appeal. Canon, meanwhile, may itself appeal against the Tokyo verdict. The company recently changed its printers to allow the use of new, no-brand toner cartridges following the launch of an inquiry by the Japanese Fair Trade Commission. The FTC had received claims from generic-cartridge manufacturers that Canon was tweaking its machines to make it harder for owners to fit anything other than Canon-branded consumables. According to the Financial Times, general consumables account for 25 per cent of Japanese toner sales. They are typically half the price of branded alternatives. Recycled cartridges could become cheaper still. ® Related stories Lexmark suffers setback in DMCA case Lexmark loses round 2 in DMCA chip case Lexmark slapped with anti-trust suit Lexmark wins Round 1 in DMCA chip case EU recycles Lexmark ink cartridge probe Lexmark unleashes DMCA on toner cartridge rival Printer majors rally around ISO toner lifespan standard Printer ink seven times more expensive than Dom Perignon
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

Cambridge launches mentor group for women tech researchers

The University of Cambridge has set up a mentoring group to support women in IT and computer science research. Women@CL, was officially launched last night at the Roger Needham Award lecture. The project's goal is to restore balance to the number of men and women in leadership roles in the academic and industrial worlds. Women account for just one in 20 computing professors, one in eight researchers and one in four PhD students. Despite this, more women (33 per cent) than men (22 per cent) report a desire to take on a leadership role. The group has devised a programme of career development activities including regional and national workshops, mentoring and networking. Later this month Women@CL is holding a meeting in London, where there will be a series of presentations from women engaged in computer science research. Professor Ursula Martin, of Queen Mary University of London and director of women@CL, says there are plenty of initiatives to encourage more women to study IT at school and at university. But these peter out once you get into post-graduate or industrial research. She points to a "frosted glass ceiling" in the sector. She says that while it is far from unbreakable, it is sometimes hard to see through. "The aim of our group is at least partially to fill that void: by celebrating, informing and supporting women in the UK who are, or plan to be, engaged in computing research or academic leadership," she said. "The business case for having diverse teams to tackle these challenges is clear: diverse teams make better progress. But the opportunities for effective, diverse teams decrease when there are too few women in leadership positions." The project is funded largely by the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) but is also backed by Microsoft and Intel's research facilities in Cambridge. ® Related stories The case for women in the technology business IT skills shortage threatens humanity Schoolkids need science, says Royal Society prez
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Dec 2004

SMS shorthand is annoying: official

Nearly half of mobile phone users want a guide on 'text etiquette', a study by research company YouGov has found. The study, carried out for predictive text software provider Tegic Communications, shows that of the 2,680 mobile phone users polled 44 per cent would approve of a guide to 'text etiquette'. Text shorthand is not popular, the survey found, and is only used by 13 per cent of all mobile users, but 23 per cent of 18-29 year olds admit to using it. 54 per cent of respondents said that messages in shorthand were "difficult to understand", with 41 per cent seeing text messages as "sloppily written". Seventy Seven per cent would oppose the inclusion of common text abbreviations in the Oxford English Dictionary. Text messaging is however seen as a useful way to communicate: 56 per cent of those surveyed have wished someone a merry Christmas via SMS. 70 per cent have used text to say 'happy birthday'. Women are more prolific than men, with 46 per cent admitting to gossiping using SMS compared to 34 per cent of men. Women send 19 text messages a week compared to men's 15. Text messaging appears to have become the language of love for some, with 56 per cent of 18-29 year olds saying they have flirted using text. 19 per cent said they have texted a partner to say "I love you" for the first time, but only one per cent have proposed via SMS. 10 per cent said that they had used text messaging to end a relationship. SMS is becoming more popular in the workplace, the study shows. 17 per cent of employees surveyed used a text message to say that they would be late, and seven per cent have 'texted in sick'. The study also found that predictive text input software is popular, with 41 per cent of 18-29 year olds who use the software saying they couldn't do without it. ® Related stories Stelios to hop into bed with T-Mobile Operators wake up to mobile enterprise needs People want to pay by phone
Robin Lettice, 09 Dec 2004

Napster tunes into mobile ringtones

Napster is to enter the mobile phone ringtone market next year, launching an own-brand service on the back of mobile content delivery company Dwango Mobile. The announcement comes after US market watcher PJ McNealy of American Technology Research (ATR) downgraded parent company Roxio's stock from Hold to Sell. The Dwango deal will see the formation next year of Napster Mobile, a service pitched at North American consumers, initially selling ringtones, but presumably with music downloads in mind when the bandwidth's there to make it practical. The more ringtones punters buy through the Napster-branded service, the more points they earn which can be used to offset the cost of PC- or music player-based track downloads. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, so it's not yet clear to what extent the deal will earn Napster revenue directly or whether it's more about getting mobile phone owners to buy song downloads or subscriptions from the company. Revenue is one of ATR's concerns. In a report to investors, McNealy said parent company's Roxio's revenue forecasts did not justify the company's high share price, which was yesterday trading for almost $10, but closed at $8.67. Given the company's likely revenue expectations going forward, which will see its income come almost entirely from Napster, "we believe that ROXI's valuation is now too high... for a business that has not demonstrated profitability or tremendous growth rates", McNealy said. Napster's - and thus Roxio's - performance ultimately depends upon paying-user numbers, something the company has to date been unwilling to put a figure to. Getting the number up in order to increase revenues to the point at which its current share price is justified will require gaining many more customers to buy into Napster's high margin subscription services. It's efforts to do so "have been limited by the number of devices that support the service and a lack of consumer understanding about why they should pay nearly $180 per year for access to music", McNealy said. If BestBuy's promotional plans for Napster kick in as planned, and the number of compatible devices in use rises thanks to the Holiday sales period, Napster may be able to show solid revenue growth. But whether it will be enough to drive sales to four times the $35-40m it expects to record in the year to 31 March, FY2005, in order to justify Roxio's share price on the back of anticipated FY2006 revenues, remains to be seen. ® Related stories Napster UK song sheet passes 1m mark Napster nips into newsagents Wippit to gain over 1m major-label tracks Musicians 'unconcerned' about file sharing UK govt takes iTunes gripe to Europe Shawn Fanning's Snocap touts vision of P2P heaven Apple opens Canadian iTunes store Apple iTunes adds Band Aid 20 - for 79p Digital music download coin-op to offer 'all formats, all DRMs' EMI looks to digital as download sales quadruple
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

Nokia 6670 smart phone

ReviewReview Based on the popular 7610, the 6670 tries to offer the same features in a different, more business-oriented packaging. But is it enough to woo the public once again? writes Charlie Brewer. The phone itself is a fairly standard tri-band GSM handset. Options such as being able to record ten minutes of video on the megapixel digicam with 4x zoom may be useful, as might the 64MB reduced-size MMC card that comes lodged in the phone's innards for storing extra images, applications and ringtones. It has a poor (these days) 8MB of memory built in. The handset's 900mAh battery offers a reasonable 140 minutes of talk time or 240 hours on stand-by. Its display is 65,535-colour 176 x 208 job of the kind we've already seen on the 6600. Design aficionados may think it terribly deconstructionist to have the numeric keys arranged in slanting pattern, but the pond-hopping business executive can easily tire of such novelties. At least the keypad is arranged in the usual 3 x 3 grid fashion, rather than the 7610's sloping layout. The designers of the new layout should have made the five-way paddle in the centre of the keys larger, as the centre depression is not precise enough and often as not you end up changing direction rather than selection and option. The real points of interest seem to be the new software Nokia and its chums are collaborating to deliver. Netforce, a mobile browser with PDF support first seen a while ago on Sony's Clié PDAs before they were untimely ripped from the UK markets, is back, on the 6670. Look out too for Lifeblog. Even though the name is almost too pretentious to stomach, the idea is quite sound. Lifeblog is designed to store sequentially all the images recorded and messages received, on your phone and your computer. This keeps a permanent record of the phones activities, without having to fill the relatively small on-board memory. Complaints have arisen that the relatively new software is still a little buggy and can bring down Windows XP, and I concur after the downloaded version reduced my office PC to a black-screened paperweight, so there's still work still to be done on this program. Many of the applications, as well as the Symbian OS (version 7.0s, by the way) require repeated confirmation of actions before they are completed, frustrating as this is it also means that you are pounding the keyboard a lot more than needed. A poor person's GPS system has also been included in the form of an application called Positioning. This basically triangulates the phone's position within the cell it is currently receiving a signal from. Nokia points out this can vary from 300m, in the centre of large city, to 15km in the great outdoors, so it's not really designed for pinpoint precision, more as an aid to locating services in your vicinity. At the time of this review Nokia was unable to confirm that this function will be supported by all the UK's networks. The 6670 is also one of the new breed of handsets that lack infra-red. Of Nokia's many recently released models, most have had this mainstay removed. It seems that Bluetooth is striking the death knell for IR. Verdict Overall, the 6670 is a showboat. The large memory (thanks to the free MMC card) and 1152 x 864 camera are simply vessels with which to demonstrate the latest software developments. Mobile phones are no longer about the basic functionality of the handset, or even the design of the body or the configuration of the keys, they are about the software the phone carries inside.   Nokia 6670   Rating 70%   Pros — Better laid out key configuration than the 7610; good software selection; 64MB card in box.   Cons — Poorly defined five-way navigation pad.   Price £450 without contract; around £100 with contract   More info The Nokia 6670 site Related reviews Voq Pro smart phone HTC 'Blue Angel' Wi-Fi PocketPC phone Mio 8390 smart phone Motorola e1000 3G phone Sony Ericsson V800 3G handset Vodafone Blackberry 7100v Recent Reviews Creative Zen Micro 5GB music player Leadtek WinFast PX6600TD GeForce 6600 card Sony Vaio U70P Wi-Fi micro PC ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition Sony Cyber-shot DSC P150 Sapphire Hybrid X700 Pro graphics card Sony Network Walkman NW-HD1 Pentax Optio X digicam
Pocket Lint, 09 Dec 2004

Competition Tribunal rules against BT 'save' calls

BT has been fingered for using "dirty tricks" to try and hang on to customers who want to leave the telco for another phone operator. In the past, it called customers who wanted to leave BT to ensure that they were aware of the services on offer. BT said part of the reason behind the "save call" was to ensure that customers had not been the victims of mis-selling or "slamming". Rival telcos said BT used the call to sweet-talk customers into staying with the telco. However, a ruling today by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) supported earlier findings which found that BT had "unlawfully misused confidential customer information for marketing purposes". Bill Allan, chief exec of Thus and one of the companies that made the complaint, said: "The dismissal of BT's appeal by the Tribunal vindicates our complaint and the Regulator's original decision, and reinforces the need for continued regulatory vigilance in the UK telecommunications market." In November 2003, telecoms regulator Oftel upheld a complaint from Thus and Broadsystem Ventures Ltd (BVL), preventing BT from using information about the transfer of customers to alternative telecoms suppliers such as One.Tel, Tiscali and Tele2. Oftel found that BT - which was calling customers who had decided to move to rival operators - was using this information to try to persuade punters to stay with the company. At the time, Oftel said: "Until now, BT has passed this [transfer] information to its marketing department, which has then contacted the customer to try and persuade them to stay with BT. Oftel has today ordered BT to stop carrying out this practice, on the grounds that it is forbidden under the new EU Access and Interconnection Directive that came into force in the UK in July 2003." Thus welcomed Oftel's statement on "BT Dirty Tricks" but in January 2004, BT appealed the decision with the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT), the UK's highest specialist competition law court. BT described Oftel's decision as an "ill-conceived move that will cause widespread confusion for customers". It warned that unless BT is able to contact customers, it could open the floodgates for 'slamming', a process where customers are switched phone providers without their knowledge or consent. A spokesman for BT said today: "We stopped used the "save calls" in December 2003 - we just wanted legal clarification" ® Related stories BT ordered to stop dirty tricks BT appeals dirty tricks banning order Tele2 slams BT over switching claims
Tim Richardson, 09 Dec 2004

UK.gov simplifies IT procurement

The government has standardised contract terms, replacing the wide variety of public sector documentation with two standard forms. According to the Office of Government Commerce, the new terms will be easier to administer, simplify the tendering process, and make it easier for small and medium-sized companies to compete for government business. The new contract terms have been hammered out in collaboration with the IT industry and government departments, the OGC said. It has also produced a set of guidelines to help suppliers use the new terms and conditions. The overhaul was prompted by the findings of the Better Regulation Task Force's investigation into the relationship between the government and its suppliers. Produced jointly with the Small Business Council, the report entitled Government: Supporter and Customer? found that smaller companies faced significant obstacles when pitching for government contracts. "These new contract terms will simplify the IT tendering process and deliver significant time and money savings for suppliers and public sector buyers," said John Oughton, chief executive of the OGC. "The publication of these new terms shows that the Government continues to listen to the IT industry and is determined to simplify procedures and reduce duplication and bureaucracy in IT contracting." ® Related stories Microsoft opens e-gov collaboration portal UK Gov open source policy gets an upgrade UK gov extends mobe procurement deal
Lucy Sherriff, 09 Dec 2004

AMD battles Intel over F1 number crunching

AMD's fight with Intel continues to extend into the Formula One racing circuit. With both chip makers already tussling for those all-important hard-to-see-on-TV car-component sponsorship spaces, they are now attempting to outdo each other in the car design arena. AMD today lauded Sauber Petronas' decision to do aerodynamic simulation and testing on a supercomputer built out of 530 Opteron processors. But it's not so long since Intel wanted us all to see the 320-odd CPU Itanium 2-based number cruncher Toyota has put in place for the much the same applications. Both teams run Linux on their respective supercomputers, by the way, preferring its scalability and resilience over Microsoft's alternative. You can't blame the chip makers for trying to bring a little of the glamour that surrounds the world's premier motorsport competition to the rather more prosaic endeavour of selling 64-bit microprocessors. Alas, while modelling the flow of air over a car's numerous surfaces and doing so as quickly as possible, saves teams a serious amount of money - wind-tunnel construction and testing time is incredibly expensive - it's not exactly going to catapult either team to the top of the constructors league. And no one but the team techies think of fluid dynamics simulations when Schuey is up there on the podium spraying the champers. Which is of course while AMD sells kit to Sauber, it sponsors Ferrari. Sauber came sixth in 2004, Toyota eighth. But Sauber has been in the F1 game for the best part of 12 years, Toyota for less than a third of that duration. ® Related stories AMD ships 90nm Opterons AMD pitches PowerNow! at servers Intel bumps Q4 forecast higher AMD took bigger slice of x86 server market in Q3 Sun begs partners to sell more Opteron servers Dell eclipses Sun in server sales Intel is killing Itanium one comment at a time AMD's Opteron loses ground where it kind of counts Dell 'to add' AMD CPUs to product line - CEO
Tony Smith, 09 Dec 2004

EC presses for safer internet

The EU Telecommunications Council today today launched Safer Internet Plus, a scheme to help parents and teachers control what children view online. An EU-wide survey on internet use has found that almost 60 per cent of parents do not know where to report illegal content. In response, Safer Internet Plus will set up hotlines for reporting illegal net content. These reports will be passed on "to the appropriate body for action". The four-year programme will provide funding for the development of more effective content filters and to test the effectiveness of existing filters. The Commission will run a safer internet forum to enable regulatory bodies to pool their experiences. >The programme will also facilitate the exchange of information about spam and how to deal with it, and will help to raise awareness of safe internet use. "Today's parents and teachers want internet safety tools and skills. We must get more actively involved in our children's use of new media and in teaching them to use the Internet safely." said Viviane Reding, information society commissioner. ® Related stories Phishing losses overestimated - survey One in four Brits on net for Porn UK.gov simplifies IT procurement
Robin Lettice, 09 Dec 2004

Probably the simplest phishing trick in the world

Many popular browsers are affected by a vulnerability that makes it easy to spoof the content of websites, security firm Secunia warns. Features built into browsers makes it possible for malicious websites to change the content of pop-up windows created by trusted websites such as online banks. Users would have no inkling that potentially hostile content has been injected into a pop-up window. Exploits rely on misusing browser functionality rather than taking advantage of a software bug. Thomas Kristensen, Secunia’s chief technology officer, described the problem as “perhaps the simplest phishing trick yet.” Secunia has confirmed the vulnerability on fully patched versions of Internet Explorer 6.0 and Windows XP SP1 and SP2 (advisory here), Mozilla 1.7.3, Mozilla Firefox 1.0, Netscape 7.2, Apple's Safari 1.2.4, Opera 7.54, and KDE's Konqueror 3.2.2-6. Other versions of these browsers might also be affected. Secunia has issued five advisories (summary here) and an on-line test. Secunia describes the vulnerabilities as "moderately critical". It advises users not to browse untrusted sites while browsing trusted sites. ® Related stories Phishing for dummies: hook, line and sinker Is Microsoft creating tomorrow's IE security holes today? Poison applet peril affects IE, Opera and Firefox A bumper crop of browser glitches
John Leyden, 09 Dec 2004

Playgirl virus attacks Chechen rebel sites

An email virus that poses as pictures of a nude glamour model actually contains malicious code designed to launch denial-of-service attacks on websites run by Chechen separatists. The Maslan-C worm spreads via email with the subject line '123' and an attached file called 'Playgirls2.exe'. It also spreads across network shares. Running the infected attachment further spreads the email worm as well as turning infected PCs into participants in a distributed denial-of-service attacks. This attack is timed for the first day of each month. But since Maslan-C has infected few victims it is unlikely that its programmed actions will succeed in swamping targeted websites. "These websites play a key role in the propaganda war between the Chechen rebels and the Kremlin," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Clearly whoever has written this virus wants to make it harder for the Chechen separatists to publish information about their cause on the internet. Whether you agree with the intention or not - spreading a virus to do this is clearly criminal behaviour." ® Related stories German hate mail spam attack stuns experts New worm tries to bring down Downing Street website Nike Web site owned by hacktivists Hacktivist group jumps on the DDoS bandwagon
John Leyden, 09 Dec 2004