13th > January > 2005 Archive

iPod surge boosts Apple earnings

A new iMac and the smash hit iPod gave Apple a boost in the quarter ending 31 December. Apple posted revenues of $3.49bn for the three-month period, Q1 FY2005, up 74 per cent from last year, and profits continued to break out, up to $295m (70 cents a share). The iPod accounted for much of the success, selling 4.58m units in the holiday season, double the previous quarter. But Apple topped a million Macs sold, too, or 26 per cent higher than a year ago. As an indication of the iPod's growth ramp, the music jukebox outsold CPUs only three quarters ago. Gross margin rose slightly to 28.5 per cent, up from 26.7 per cent. The company said it had enough G5 chips to fulfil demand for the iMac; only supply of the 2.5GHz processor, used in the PowerMac line, was constrained. Executives attributed the better-than-expected figures to more people buying the more expensive iMacs, and more customers buying direct. Direct sales - which includes the bricks and mortar retail stores - was up 45 per cent for the quarter. In response to questions about yesterday's budget Mac and iPod, Apple said that Mac Mini margins were similar to the eMac, which is below the corporate average, that iPod margins "were close to 20 per cent", and that iPod Shuffle margins were below 20 per cent. Apple sold 456,000 iMacs and eMacs (229,000 the previous quarter), 152,000 Power Mac CPUs (down from 156,000 in Q4 04), 271,000 iBooks and 167,000 PowerBooks. Apple's online music store is running "just above break-even" said executives, but the company didn't see this as a profit center and was prepared to see it make a loss in order to grow, by cutting prices, or recruiting more staff to "take it new places". (Executives ducked questions about possible movie downloads) . "Selling music will help us sell iPods, and that will help us sell computers," CFO Peter Oppenheimer said. ® Related Stories Apple shares hit four-year high Apple profits leap as iPod sales rocket Apple stores are in the black Apple posts highest revenue for three years
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2005
School Computer Lab from Shutterstock

Ruth Kelly: transforming teaching with IT

Ruth Kelly, the new Secretary of State for Education and Skills, opened the education technology fair BETT with an overview of how IT should be used to transform teaching and learning, and a few specific announcements.
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Jan 2005

Nokia cuts hit smart phone, multimedia R&D

Nokia is reining in R&D, with the axe falling hardest on its 3,000-strong multimedia division founded a year ago. The exact number of staff affected isn't known, but a press release issued on Tuesday from Nokia Multimedia says the cuts are intended to reduce R&D expenditure to 9 to 10 per cent of net sales by the end of next year. That's roughly the level it was in 2001. According to Nokia's most recent annual report, consolidated R&D rose from 9.6 per cent of net sales in 2001 to 12.8 per cent in 2003. In a statement, Nokia's multimedia chief Anssi Vanjoki said that while imaging was doing well, "games, music and media are still in a more early development phase". The division is responsible for the N-Gage games console, which with unfortunate timing, disappeared from the ELSPA's weekly sales tallies this week because of low sales, according to one report. ELSPA says it will still track N-Gage games sales, but this is an indication of the failure to make much headway in a highly competitive market. Last year Nokia said it needed 18 months to judge the success or failure of the console, and much of the initial marketing expense seeding developers and promoting the device has been invested. However a third version will be in even hotter competition against Sony's PSP, and the arrival of Nintendo's DS in Europe. Orphan phone, dead platform Sometimes, Nokia's lab teams seem to be more enthralled by the joy of producing strange explosions than looking at what the experiment has produced, once the smoke has cleared. Take for example, one of the casualties of Nokia's ongoing multimedia shake out, an orphan phone based on a dead-end platform. The 7710 is a 640x320 touchscreen Series 90 phone no larger than a Sony Ericsson P910, but last November Nokia confirmed that Series 90 was being folded into the Series 60 platform. The only other Series 90 phone to be made public, the 7710's predecessor the 7700, never even made it to market, being repositioned as a test-bed before launch. Its much vaunted "Visual Radio" feature is in its infancy and the device can't see more than 512MB of MP3s files. But that hasn't diminished interest in the phone, which ironically, has trickled out to joyous reviews and is now selling like hotcakes as an import on eBay. It's not hard to see why: as good, cheap, light MP3 players that run the Opera browser don't just drop out of the sky. Except when they do. ® Related stories Nokia revives media phone concept with pen mini-tablet Archos preps Linux, Wi-Fi enabled portable media player Nokia bows to cellcos in midrange Nokia blames prices for profit fall Nokia steadies in booming phone market
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2005

Apple: iPod domination - or just another fad?

AnalysisAnalysis "I got drunk and ended up with a hooker," said Conan O'Brien, the sardonically witty talk-show host as he compered Bill Gates's CES speech last week. "Bill got drunk and ended up in bed with an Apple computer." Cue picture of horrified billg. However it's not that prospect which should be giving Bill the nightmares. It's tendrils, white tendrils with little bud things attached, spouting randomness. Bill hates randomness - to him it's a swear word ("This is just random!" is his favourite term of abuse of bad work) - but the random-spouting tendrils of white iPod headphones are spreading irresistibly across his formerly pristine domain. The big question: is the iPod a threat to Windows, and Windows Media? Is the Mac mini going to persuade lots of people to abandon their PCs? And will that number make any impact on Windows? First, music. Creative Technologies is sending out champagne to journalists after selling two million flash-memory and hard-drive based music players in the past three months. Woo hoo! Well, Apple sold 4.58 million iPods in the same period, crossing the 10 million total sold threshold on December 16. It increased its share (by volume) of the overall market - which itself grew - from 31 per cent of all digital players in 2003 to 65 per cent in 2004. Flash-based players share halved, from 62 per cent to 28 per cent. And Apple's rival hard-drive makers actually saw their share fall by 1 per cent. Plays For Sure, but Sells Only Sometimes. Meanwhile, on Wednesday Apple announced its biggest-ever quarterly profits and revenues in its entire history - $295m on sales of $3.49bn. And what does Steve Jobs do? Releases a flash player, priced within reach of pretty much anyone, with the iPod name, which comes with iTunes, which is a memory stick formatted in FAT32 so it'll work for file storage with Windows too, which can store about twice as much as the average flash player (which offers about 256MB) for the floor-breaking price of £69. It's not just clever. It's fiendishly clever. "We're really serious about this," said Jobs. "We'd like to go after the remaining mainstream flash market." One can imagine some panicky meetings in the boardrooms of flash memory makers, with designers being thrown bodily at memory sticks and told to come up with something good, quick. These suckers sell Any retailer or reseller will tell you that iPods just won't stay in the stores. Those suckers sell. And how. You thought Steve Jobs had given up his dream of world domination? You underestimate the Stev-ego. And it's not just a player thing. You get more people using iPods; they use iTunes, and the iTunes Music Store; they keep expanding Apple's share of the legal music download market. And while it dominates, Apple's iPod still won't Play, For Sure, billg's Windows Media Audio format. The tendrils! The tendrils! And the iTunes Music Store keeps on growing, to 220 million songs sold; it's now doing 1.25 million per day worldwide. But put the brakes on. It's not clear how big the subscription sites such as Napster are; the songs that people listen to temporarily on their PCs (because Microsoft's Janus technology, to let them move DRM'd music onto their Plays For Sure players, still isn't quite here yet, despite being announced last spring) don't count to the download figures. Subscriptions are an obvious way forward for online music; it's like radio where you get to choose the tracks. If you like it enough, you buy it. The Stevego is dismissive of subscriptions - principally, one suspects, because Apple doesn't yet have the software that can handle it; it's buy those DRM files, or nothing. One thing's for sure: when the team at Apple gets that software written - Quicktime 7? 7.5? - there'll be another Stevenote in which he'll explain that he always thought subscriptions were a good idea, but just wanted to do it right. Just like with flash players, which a year ago he dismissed. In fact, Danika Cleary, worldwide head of iPod marketing, explained on Tuesday that the iPod shuffle took around nine months to develop; and the discussions on whether to develop it preceded that. So even as Steve wrinkled his nose at flash players and unveiled the iPod mini a year ago, he had probably decided already that he would do one too. Moral: Apple is very determined to have all of this business to itself. Yet there's still a huge market out there, and Microsoft is very determined to have as many music download sites going as it can. The only problem, as Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research points out, is that it's so confusing - you have an iRiver player, which you plug into MusicMatch, and buy stuff off Napster. So when it goes wrong, and the computer won't play your music, whose fault is it? Apple has a much simpler story, for now. Now, the Mac faithful will tell you that the Mac mini is thus the perfect way to undermine Windows. Just add keyboard, screen, mouse and another stick of RAM to produce a perfectly serviceable home computer. It has the same "I'll wear it now" takeaway look as the iPod; the boxes even have little carrying handles, because this thing is small, and light. Starting at $499 a pop (£339 in the UK; €499 in most Continental countries) it's an easy buy. These things will walk out of stores too. Less quickly than the iPod, but they'll go. The theory is that Joe or Mary iPod - who already has a Wintel PC - will buy a Mac mini, plug in the PC's keyboard, display and mouse (hereafter KDM) and start using it occasionally for things like photos and movies, and then a little bit more for web surfing and maybe email. Sure, but most of his or her online life is still on the PC, and s/he will still use that for the main work. But the next time a Windows virus comes along, Joe or Mary gets infected, swears to the skies and discovers that the Mac is still working fine. And then over time the PC gets used less and less. Sure, could work - as long as Joe remembered to put plenty of extra memory in. At the base configuration of 256MB, he'll get very bored waiting for OSX to swap the paged-out memory page back from the disk, and probably stick with the PC. For small businesses (the theory goes) it's also a neat, cheap upgrade path, though the processor is old (introduced in August 2002 on the Power Mac line; that's probably how Apple can make any money on these). The businesses have already got the KDM; all they need is the CPU. Sure, could work - in fact I can think of two UK national newspaper offices that will probably jump at the chance to upgrade their hacks' machines far more cheaply than with the Power Macs they presently have. There must be plenty more. Hopelessly divided to you So let's be generous, and assume that Apple does really well with the Mac mini. Let's see, 10 million iPods sold, perhaps 13 million more iPods to sell this year, be generous and reckon 10 per cent will buy - no, be extra generous, say 20 per cent. How many Joe and Mary Switchers does that make? Um, 4.3 million. Woo hoo! (And the Mac market will buy enormous numbers of them, likely to use as media servers or cheap second machines. So add a few million there.) Then you compare those numbers to the worldwide PC market in 2004: 172 million, by IDC's forecasts. Suddenly, the Mac mini looks like only a small weapon in the computer wars - which anyway are well over. And meanwhile, the Windows Media Center, in its confusing complexity, is just beginning to get the start of an inkling of some sort of traction among the first of the early adopters. Well, 1.4 million have been sold after two years of very uphill struggle. However, that still puts Microsoft much closer to the home media experience than Apple. Only in music does Apple have the air of dominance, because the rest of the opposition is hopelessly divided - to the extent that HP has thrown in its lot with both sides, selling Media Centers and iPods. What's needed is some real consolidation; when Woolworths, Oxfam and Napster are all selling music files which you can play on any of 50 machines, the reaction isn't "Great, loads of choice!" It's "Oh hell, how do I choose?" Billg doesn't quite appreciate this. But then, he doesn't get why people like random tracks either, I suspect. What the business needs isn't more sites selling WMA music and more players that can play them, but fewer. In a burgeoning market, people like strong brands. The upshot: people will keep buying iPods until they see a reason not to, and Apple has discovered a knack for giving them just what they want - four new models (iPod mini, iPod Photo, "U2 iPod" and iPod shuffle) in 12 months. A former Apple staffer told me of being in a meeting with Steve Jobs's deputy: "He said that 'if you've lost the battle, one way to win is to move to a new battlefield'". Apple's certainly discovered the right battlefield. On the music side it's starting to look a lot like a rout. But this war too is far from over. The Mac mini may have been the shot heard around the computer world. But does anyone remember who fired the first shots across the trenches in the First World War? ® Related stories iPod surge boosts Apple earnings Mac rumour sites get it completely right Apple unveils CD-sized mini Mac, one ounce iPod Whatever happened to... the Apple Mac? Apple confirms MacWorld rumors with fresh lawsuit Apple iPod Flash said to ship January Apple ships Xsan 64-bit cluster file system Apple preps sub-$500 iMac - report Apple 'readies' 5GB iPod Mini
Charles Arthur, 13 Jan 2005

Digital cameras redesign the photographic process

When you buy a digital camera for the first time there is this wonderful feeling of freedom knowing that you can shoot as many pictures as you like until you get the right one. All of a sudden we can all fancy ourselves as top fashion photographers clicking away like mad just to get the perfect moment. The first digital camera copied the quirks and constraints of the previous generation of film cameras. It took a while for manufacturers and consumers to adapt to the new paradigm and exploit the technology opportunities. This is starting to happen now with camera manufacturers introducing capabilities impossible with a film camera. For example, the latest digital camera from Kodak, the Easyshare DX7590, has an interesting new feature calledBLILO. It is designed to capture the exact photographic moment during an action shot. The way it works? The photographer focuses on the subject and presses the BLILO button. The camera's 5-megapixel image chip then captures pictures into a 32-megabyte RAM chip at two frames per second. When the camera has shot 30 pictures, it starts overwriting the first ones and goes on shooting new pictures indefinitely. Releasing the BLILO button saves the last four pictures onto the memory card, hopefully catching that crucial moment. If you want to catch those first steps of your child walking, you just hold your finger on the button until the little darling actually makes a step. That's OK for still cameras, but what about video? One company, inevitably called Deja View, has produced a wearable video camera called Camwear 100 that captures the events that you could miss. It works on the same principle as the Kodak camera by separating the capture of the image from the selection of the shots you are interested in. A wearable camera clips onto your clothing and records onto the camera body mounted on your belt. You keep the camera recording whenever something interesting is likely to happen. When it does, you just press a button to save the last 30 seconds. The camera is quite expensive for the resolution offered but then people are often more interested in the content of the picture than its quality - as proven by many paparazzi shots. These are the first examples of how rethinking the photography process to separate the capture of images from their selection and preservation leads to innovation. I sure that this will become a standard feature of future cameras. There is perhaps a more serious implication. The accidental privacy that we expect to enjoy because no one has a camera out is reduced, and of course we're going to be subjected to a lot more "You've Been Framed" programmes. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories Printing for camera phones Dutch snap world's largest digital photo Force phonecam voyeurs to flash, says PI Review: Canon Ixus 430 digicam Corel snaps up Jasc Kodak blames digital cameras for jobs cull
Martin Langham, 13 Jan 2005

Griffin adds remote control, Bluetooth audio to iPods, Macs

Stylish accessory maker Griffin Technology has certainly had a busy week. Not settling for the announcement of two major product launches on Tuesday, it has gone on to unveil three more choice items. Top of the list is BlueTrip, a wireless iPod-to-hi-fi link that operates over Bluetooth. The $149 package comprises a receiver for the hi-fi end of the link and a plug-on Bluetooth transmitter for the iPod. The receiver provides RCA audio jacks, plus a headphone port and optical interconnects. AirClick (left), FireWave (top right), BlueTrip (bottom right) The upshot: the iPod is the music source and it becomes a mobile remote control too, operating at up to 9m (30ft) from the stereo. Alternatively, the company will soon offer AirClick, a slightly different PC, Mac and iPod remote control system. This consists of RF wireless - no line of sight needed - remote control and add-on receivers for the portable music player and USB-equipped computers. For the iPod and iPod Mini, AirClick provides an easy way of controlling the player in situations where it's impractical to fiddle with it - when you're driving, cycling or running, for instance. Griffin will bundle a number of mounts and attachments to fix the remote to dashboards, steering wheels, handlebars etc. Once in place, the remote provides play/pause, track skip and volume controls. The computer-oriented version will ship with application control software for iTunes, presentation packages, media and DVD playback software and the like. Users can set up links to their preferred apps if they are not included in the pre-set list. AirClick has a range of up to 18m (60ft) and uses a Bluetooth-style pairing system to allow multiple AirClick links to operate side by side. Finally, Griffin demoed FireWave, a Firewire-connected add-on 5.1 surround sound module, that allows any modern Mac to host a home theatre system. The unit is bus-powered, so all you have to do is hook up your speakers. Its software is geared up to take surround sound audio streams from Apple's DVD Player app and games which support the OpenAL audio API. It can also generate 5.1 playback from stereo sources such as iTunes. Griffin is taking orders for FireWave, AirClick and BlueTrip, but they are not yet ready to ship. AirClick costs $40 for a remote with either a Mac/PC USB adaptor, an iPod add-on or an iPod Mini adaptor, and will ship later this quarter, as will BlueTrip. The latter will cost $150. FireWave will ship in Q2 for $100. ® Related stories iTrip maker readies 'smart' iPod car adaptor iPod gains ghettoblaster accessory iTrip FM beamer back in black for U2 iPod UK bans iPod radio add-on Related review Griffin radioShark
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

April deadline set for new extended warranty rules

Retailers that pressurise customers to sign up for extended warranties have until 6 April to pack it in or risk being in breach of new legislation. The new rules should arm consumers with more information when they buy electrical goods, for instance. Shops will have to show the price of extended warranties alongside goods, whether it's in-store, in catalogues, on websites or in print adverts. Retailers must also give consumers more information about their statutory rights and give customers up to 45 days to cancel extended warranties. Gerry Sutcliffe, consumer minister, said: "From April consumers will be in a much better position to make an informed choice about whether or not to take out an extended warranty when buying an electrical product. Our proposals have been largely welcomed by both business and consumers." Consumer groups had hoped that the government's new rules on extended warranties - which were published last July - would be introduced before the busy festive sales season but retailers warned that the changes would have been brought in too fast. Although many retailers have already implemented the changes, other businesses asked for the necessary legislation to be delayed until after Christmas. ® Related stories Gov delays new extended warranty rules Warranty inquiry lets retailers off the hook Extended warranty hard sell to end
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2005

RIM stock rises on acquisition speculation

Blackberry developer Research in Motion (RIM) could be the subject of a takeover bid, Goldman Sachs suggested this week after dubbing the company a "very attractive" acquisition. The report helped push RIM shares up 7.4 per cent on speculation that there may be more to the investment bank's comments than meets the eye. On Nasdaq, RIMM stock closed at $78.44, up from the previous day's closing price, $73.02. Yesterday's closing price values RIM at $14.7bn. GS' report mentions two possible suitors, Nokia and Motorola, which might be interested in RIM to boost corporate sales. Both are best known for their handset hardware, and despite its focus on enterprise software, RIM is similarly perceived as a hardware company, making over 70 per cent of its revenues from device sales. That puts it head-to-head with handset makers, while other other enterprise push email providers, such as Good Technology and Extended Systems, focus on server software and code for a range of third-party client devices. RIM's efforts in the latter area have been hampered by a longrunning legal battle with NPD over alleged patent infringement. The Canadian company recently lost its appeal against a lower court verdict that it had indeed violated NPD's intellectual property rights. The US Court of Appeals overturned a ban on the sale of RIM's client software on devices other than its own, but the injunction could be reapplied when the case returns to the lower court. To date, RIM has built a subscriber base of over 2m users. This week, UK mobile phone network O2 said it would offer RIM's handset-styled Blackberry 7100 to consumers and business users. The 7100 is seen as a key tool in growing RIM's subscriber base by attracting users previously put off by its bulky devices, most of which make good email systems but poor mobile phones. ® Related stories O2 falls for Blackberry 'Charm' RIM revenues rise RIM infringed NTP patents, appeal court rules Good Tech touts over-the-air PDA set-up RIM ships Blackberry Enterprise Server 4.0 RIM takes active-user total to 2m
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

US slaps on the wardriver-busting paint

Security-minded US decorators' supply outfit Force Field Wireless claims to have developed a DIY solution to the international menace of marauding geek wardrivers - DefendAir paint "laced with copper and aluminum fibers that form an electromagnetic shield, blocking most radio waves and protecting wireless networks". According to a South Florida Sun Sentinel report, one coat of the water-based paint "shields Wi-Fi, WiMax and Bluetooth networks operating at frequencies from 100 megahertz to 2.4 gigahertz", while two or three applications are "good for networks operating at up to five gigahertz". Simple as that. Of course, there are a few downsides to this miracle product. First up, you must be careful how you slap it on. Force Field Wireless rep Harold Wray admits that "radio waves find leaks", while the company asks users to be aware that the product "must be applied selectively" otherwise it "might hinder the performance of radios, televisions and cell phones". Reg readers can make of this apparent contradiction what they will, and are asked to direct any technically-based sceptisicm to Force Field Wireless, and not to Vulture Central. Thankyou. Another snagette is that DefendAir is available only in grey - a fact sufficient to provoke what is known in the UK as "interior designers' wobbly". Mercifully, it can be used as a primer, so those who require wireless peace of mind plus bold fashion statement can rest assured that coat of "Wardriver Crimson" will cover it up quite nicely. It only remains for us to say that DefendAir costs a cool $69 per gallon (US gallon, presumably). Still, that's a small price to pay for the absolute certainty that High School students are not right now sitting across the street recording your credit card details for later deployment in the online purchase of pornography, drugs and semi-automatic weapons. ® Related stories Business frets over wireless security UK scientists roll out Wi-Fi proof wallpaper Michigan wardrivers await sentencing Wi-Fi 'sniper rifle' debuts at DEFCON
Lester Haines, 13 Jan 2005

Easynet upbeat about wholesale LLU

A number of ISPs and alternative telcos are interested in supplying broadband services direct to end users instead of routing their services via BT, according to a trading update by broadband telco Easynet. In December, Easynet began providing wholesale broadband to telcos and ISPs at prices it claims are 30-35 per cent cheaper than those offered by BT. Using its own kit installed in BT exchanges via a process called local loop unbundling (LLU), Easynet is offering operators the chance to provide unbundled services direct to end users using its new LLUStream product. Today, Easynet reported that the launch of LLU Stream "has been well received in the market" and the company "expects to sign up a number of ISPs, carriers, and integrators during 2005". Easynet's first customer, announced last month, was Middlesbrough-based ISP Onyx which is to sell "innovative, differentiated high-bandwidth services to its customers in the North East of England and Scotland". Easynet expects revenue growth in excess of 20 per cent year on year and EBITDA (earnings before interest, etc) to meet market expectations. Chief exec David Rowe expressed himself "pleased with progress and with the take-up of our next generation 'IP' services", and added: "The market is changing rapidly as alternative last mile infrastructure provides further stimulus for the ongoing 'death of time and distance' in telecommunications." ® Related stories Onyx hooks up with unbundler Easynet Easynet squares up to BT with wholesale broadband Ofcom orders BT price cuts for broadband rivals Wanadoo UK begins major broadband drive
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2005

Apple brings discord to Hymn

Apple's latest iTunes update, which takes the jukebox software to version 4.7.1, breaks the anti-DRM utility Hymn, it has emerged. The move marks the latest step in the Mac maker's attempts to prevent users stripping away the limitations it imposes on music downloaded from its iTunes Music Store. Using applications like Hymn is, of course, contrary to Apple's ITMS terms and conditions. In the US and Europe, using the software is also an infringement of laws that forbid the circumvention of copy-protection mechanisms. Hymn advocates, however, argue that the code simply re-establishes usage modes to which they have become accustomed, such as converting files to MP3 in order to play them on non-Apple portable music players. They stress that the code is not intended to facilitate unauthorised distribution of iTunes-sourced content, although the software does make this possible. But then so does ripping tracks from any standard CD. Hymn strips away the DRM rights management data, space for which is incorporated into the AAC audio format Apple uses for ITMS. Apple also uses other elements within the file structure to identify protected AAC tracks, and one or more of these seems to have been added to iTunes 4.7.1's list of checks. Apple appears to use the same procedure to spot files converted by Real Networks' Harmony software, which transplants Real's Helix DRM code for Apple's FairPlay DRM information. Like ITMS, Real's Rhapsody online music uses AAC as its file format. Hymn users may be annoyed with the breakage, and the hoops they may now have to jump through to get tracks playing again. but Apple's has solde 230m songs to date and is selling 1.25m on averager each week; this shows that plenty of people are willing to work with Apple's - fairly liberal, as these things go -DRM limitations. Real has pledged to get Harmony working again, so Rhapsody customers can once again copy and play their downloads on iPods. Hymn's developers say they too will tweak their code. Expect Apple to do so too. The game of cat and mouse continues. ® Related stories 2004 in review: downloading digital music Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony France rules Apple's DRM denial not anti-competition Big guns board Intertrust DRM bandwagon iTunes Japan hits 'inadequate DRM' hurdle Real anti-Apple poll swamped by pro-Apple posters DVD Jon cracks Airport music streaming Virgin demands Apple license iTunes DRM Real fires back at Apple in DRM dogfight
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

Macrovision gives forth on DRM

It’s been bothering Faultline of late that Macrovision may be getting itself a little sidelined in the war to combat piracy, so we thought we’d update our file on them and chatted this week to Adam Gervin, VP of marketing for the high-flying content protection company. The concerns we put to him were three fold. The first issue is that the two High Definition DVD standards (Blu-ray and HD DVD) are looking to embrace new content protection technologies, which means Macrovision’s might be less useful. And with 55 per cent of Macrovision’s revenue based on DVD protection royalties, that’s no joke. The second is that the recent reluctance and even hostility of Apple to open up Fairplay to connect to other DRM’s put Macrovision’s stated intent for its CDS 300 to be able to handshake with Fairplay, in danger. The third is that its new Hawkeye system for protecting music and films from free distribution around the P2P systems on the internet, may well be compromised by the emergence of newer P2P systems that work differently, using hash checking to ensure people are stealing the right file. In reverse order, Gervin challenged each of these concerns last week. “When people go onto the internet they often go to a standard starting place like Google,” said Gervin. “We want Hawkeye to become more and more like Google. When people go to a P2P site we want the next thing they touch to be Hawkeye.” But surely if you are a youngster looking to download a track for free and you end up at a different place where the track costs money, aren’t you just going to be angry? “People are angry when they download a poor copy or when it takes hours to download the files they want. But not when they end up under Hawkeye. “We have done a lot of consumer research on this and the answer is no. Not if we don’t push Hawkeye purely as a way of preventing people getting to the files they want. There need to be some freebies at the end of it, some tracks that cost say just 20 cents. There needs to be a feeling that they haven’t arrived at the wrong place,” explained Gervin. His point is that the experience when filesharers search for a track should be very similar to the experience they usually get, results should come back like regular results. They shouldn’t be taken to a heavily commercial place which tells them off for trying to steal tracks or films and which is intrusive. Hash checking But surely the new generation of file sharing services such as BitTorrent and eDonkey, which use referring sites and hash checking to defeat spoofed files (almost complete copies that are deliberately put up to prevent downloading the real thing), make this far more difficult. “For a start most of the these services which need separate web sites are far more available to being shut down via legal remedies and you will find that BitTorrent and other systems are already moving to become more like search based product as well. But you are right that some companies that try to use pure brute force to build dummy files and block traffic, will have a problem with BitTorrent file downloads. But Macrovision doesn’t. “None of the new P2P file download applications are exceptions to how Hawkeye works. There are no exceptions and we’re not concerned about them,” he said. So how does Hawkeye differ from other competitive systems out there such those offered by Loudeye etc…? Gervin wouldn’t exactly say, but did contribute simply, “We do things fundamentally differently. We understand the underlying protocols entirely, but I can’t tell you quite how it works, that would be commercially confidential.” It might also give pirates a clue how to attack Hawkeye. “But I can tell you that one of the major content companies will shortly be using Hawkeye to put out a major piece of content using P2P networks. Hawkeye is as much about using P2P to put content out there as it is stopping illegal copying.” On the subject of working alongside Apple’s Fairplay DRM, Gervin is a little more reticent. “We are in favor of stopping unprotected ripping but want to support ripping,” is how he explains Macrovision’s position. In effect the company doesn’t want to see unprotected Red Book audio (or video) anywhere on the market and is trying to come at CD copy protection from the point of view of building in copy protection that can then release a file to be protected under another DRM, for instance from Microsoft or Apple, which then controls that file safely when transferred to an MP3 player or iPod. Fair play? Apple has famously refused to release details of Fairplay and RealNetworks was famously wrong footed by breaking into it in order to let its own music services offer tracks that could run on an iPod under Fairplay protection. New versions of Apple software both on iTunes and on newer iPods have now stopped this RealNetworks hack from working. Marovision clearly didn’t want to find itself in the same position. “We have developed the technology to move content between DRMs, but we have to have the co-operation of any given DRM owner so that we can push content into any juke boxes and portable players. Microsoft opened up its DRM right away, but Fairplay is closed and is under review by major content owners and Apple,” said Gervin. He wouldn’t be drawn into any further discussion on Apple, but it is fairly safe to assume that pressure is being applied to Apple to open up the doorway into the iPod from protected CDs even if movement the other way won’t be considered. “I can tell you that 2005 will be the year when the entire music industry in the US moves to CD copy protection,” adds Gervin. “It will be a watershed year because there is just too much pressure to protect content.” Most iPods are being filled by content that comes from either CDs but which is not protected, or from piracy, because they can accept unprotected content in MP3 format, so a shift to protected CDs would put Apple in a position where it was obliged to open up Fairplay, at least as we say, in one direction. Finally, on the subject of AACS, the Advanced Access Content System that is being planned for the HD DVDs that will gradually emerge towards the end of this year, Gervin says he is also not worried, but he sounded less convincing on this count, and it is the most important aspect for Macrovision given how much revenue it has in the balance. “Our technology is going to be enabled as part and parcel of that technology,” he began. “we are a member of the Digital Entertainment Group and partner with companies like Disney and Microsoft.” But Gervin accepts that Macrovision is not part of AACS that is actually adopting the content protection standard for HD DVD. To start with he limits his comments to the analog hole. “Wherever there is an analog interface, Macrovision ACP is there to fill it,” he said, which is true. Macrovision moved early during 1997 to set up circuit gain procedures that chip designers were obliged to build into DVD chips by the freshly adopted Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It’s a limited defense against making a copy of a film at the point where it is turned into an analog signal within a DVD player, but it is more or less universal and bypassing it is illegal in virtually every country. But most of the copy protection in the current generation of DVDs was down to the Content Scrambling System that was so famously broken by a 14 year old Norwegian student (DVD Jon) and instructions of how to go about it left all over the internet for anyone to look up. As a result Macrovision launched something called Rip Guard, a CSS rip control product, which has been adopted by many content owners for DVD manufacture and which now forms a big chunk of Macrovision’s revenue. “A number of content owners will be putting that on 100 per cent of their DVDs later this year,” said Gervin, “and with 1.5 billion DVDs shipping last year, we have no worries about revenue from our DVD product line.” Recently, Faultline carried details of one of the submissions from Cryptography Research, which is seeking to create the equivalent of the CSS system for the HD DVD. An attack of realism Both Cryptography Research (CR) and Macrovision are both realistic and realize that no encryption process is uncrackable, but CR’s submission will make it so that DVD players can have their decoding rights revoked if any content that was decoded by it appears on a P2P network. This revocation can be carried either online or by subsequently published DVDs. Gervin believes that even this process, if adopted for AACS, will be cracked just as CSS was before it and sees opportunities for Macrovision once this happens with its Rip Guard product line, but also doesn’t see the high density format taking off any time soon. He rightly points out that no standard has yet been adopted, that there is little HD content that needs anything other than a standard DVD to store it, and he believes that DVDs are likely to have 5 years or longer of continued growth. Gervin sees the biggest problem and therefore reward, in creating an entire ecosystem to examine all DVD players and set tops, and ensure that they are all working with multiple DRM systems and he believes that the Macrovision brand makes it a natural first door to knock on. It is easy to see that if the HD DVD does take off rapidly and if whatever AACS selects as the replacement CSS, has learned lessons from CSS and becomes a success, then Macrovision may find in the medium term (three years or so) that it has a revenue hole to replace as conventional DVD shipments diminish, and then its legendary valuation of nine times its revenue, may look a little too heavy for it to carry. Copyright © 2004, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories Indie music label rejects lock-down CDs Sony Japan dumps lock-down CDs Macrovision CDS-300 version 7 beta
Faultline, 13 Jan 2005

Schools look beyond the electronic whiteboard

The BETT exhibition in London's Olympia this week is stuffed to the gills with companies showcasing how their particular brand of technology can transform education, help students achieve more and relieve pressure on teachers. Some technology on display is administrative: for example Bromcom is there showing off its wireless pupil registration system, and we saw electronic payment systems for canteens, useful, the company said, to avoid embarrassing kids who have free lunches. Other companies want to get students using laptops to do homework, or teachers to use tablet PCs to run their lessons. What most of it has in common is that it is about using IT as a replacement for existing systems: where there pencils and paper, now there is a keyboard; where there was a pin board, now there is a web portal; chalk and duster have made way for electronic whiteboards. While implementing technology to support teaching and learning in these areas is useful, nothing really innovative has been done. Not so at the Nesta Futurelab stand. Nesta is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Its Futurelab division acts as a coordinating point between people with technology expertise, and people with really different and interesting ideas about how technology could be used in teaching and learning. For example: how would you approach teaching kids about lion behaviour? You'd sit them down with a slide show and a video maybe, get them to do some multiple choice questions, possible a bit of reading comprehension? Or would you give them all PDAs and send them off into the playground to pretend to be lions. Nesta's project Savannah takes the latter approach. The children's PDAs simulate a virtual savannah mapped onto their school playing grounds. This environment comes complete with charging elephants and other prides competing for the space. As well as the savannah, there is a den, where children can plan their strategies, and think about how they will survive as lions. A Nesta representative explained: "When the kids are confronted by an elephant, the system asks them what they would like to do. The immediate answer is always that they, as lions, will attack and eat the elephant. They learn very quickly that a lion won't win a fight with an elephant." Another Nesta project is Moovl, a freeform drawing environment where the artists (primary school kids) can assign physical characteristics, like heaviness and friction, to their drawings. You can play with it online, and read more about it here. Nesta's role is to get these projects to prototype stage, test out ideas with children and teachers, and put together plans that can be picked up by other companies. "We are not competing with all these guys" Nesta's rep told us, indicating the other exhibitors. "We are just trying to get some really good, innovative and fun ideas together about how technology can change education." ® Related stories Ruth Kelly: transforming teaching with IT BETT hosts finals of F1 in Schools design challenge DfES wants school kids spaced out UK.gov in scrap over school e-register patent
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Jan 2005

Carphone trumpets telecoms success

The Carphone Warehouse had a booming Christmas as sales of mobiles and other telecoms services continued to generate double-digit growth. Retail revenues rose 24.9 per cent to £355.8m for the 13 weeks to 25 December driven by greater demand for mobile phones and punters spending more cash using them. The success of The Carphone Warehouse is in marked contrast to The Link, owned by the Dixons Group, which saw flat like-for-like sales over the festive period. While the sale of mobile phone gear marches on, The Carphone Warehouse's own fixed line service - which takes great pleasure competing with BT - saw revenues soar 58 per cent to £99.7m. It's TalkTalk UK fixed line telco business added some 114,000 new punters in the quarter, taking the total number of subscribers to 762,000. Said chief exec Charles Dunstone: "These figures represent a further period of strong growth. Our stores traded well and we achieved like-for-like growth despite an excellent Christmas last year. TalkTalk continues to attract customers at a healthy rate and the initial response to our broadband package [which it unveiled in November] has been promising." Looking ahead, the company remains upbeat about the progress of its own telecoms services and of the performance of stores reselling packages from the major mobilephonecos. It expects the take-up of 3G services "to gain significant momentum" in the second half of the year. The market welcomed today's figures from The Carphone Warehouse. By late morning shares in had risen 13.75p (8.7 per cent) to 171.75p. ® Related stories Carphone Warehouse revs up H1 profit Carphone unveils bundled broadband Mobile operators put the squeeze on retailers - report Festive sales boost Dixons Post Office delivers phone service
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2005

Cisco to buy Airespace

Cisco is to buy WLAN switch maker Airespace, laying down $450m worth of shares for the privately held firm. The move, forecast here last year, heralds the start of much-anticipated consolidation in the emerging enterprise-level Wi-Fi market. Provided regulatory bodies and shareholders raise no objections, Cisco will take possession of Airespace on 30 April. If the deal goes ahead, Cisco will broaden the company's existing WLAN switch portfolio and see Airespace technology incorporated into existing Cisco products. To date, the WLAN switch market has been dominated - in mind share at least - by a host of start-ups founded to bring Wi-Fi to enterprises by providing the security, management and integration (into existing networks) features demanded by big business but missing from a market that has been so led by consumer products. Airespace was one of them, and has taken second place in the market behind Symbol, an established player that leveraged its vertical market WLAN specialism to move into the switch arena. Cisco was slow to enter the market, citing doubts over the willingnes of corporates to invest in wireless. But customers are jumping aboard, and the giant moved into the WLAN switch market in May 2004. The Airespace acquisition became the subject of rumour last week, but Cisco appears to have been nosing around the start-ups for some time. Airespace rival Aruba, which is currently third in the market, claims it too was approached by Cisco, but rejected its overtures. Buying either Aruba or Airespace would pitch Cisco into the top league, but the deal still leaves it behind Symbol. However, lesser competitors, such as Extreme and the troubled Trapeze, will find it harder to stay in the running. Cisco appears to be planning to retain the Airespace brand, just as it did with consumer-oriented Wi-Fi equipment maker Linksys. Indeed, Linksys may benefit from Airespace's more SME-oriented products and technologies. ® Related stories WLAN switch makers fight for survival Aruba to bring WLAN-level security to LANs Airespace extends WLAN switch line to SMEs Aruba touts Wi-Fi grid scheme Cisco offers WLAN switching Switch start-ups turn to WLAN security
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

Trojans exploit Windows DRM loophole

Virus writers have subverted digital rights management features in Windows Media Player to spread Trojans and other malware. License-protected movie (.wmv) files infected with the WmvDownloader-A or WmvDownloader-B Trojans have entered circulation on P2P networks, reports Madrid-based antivirus firm Panda Software. Normally when a user tries to play a protected Windows media file, and a valid license is not stored on a computer, the application will look for it on the internet, so that the user buy access to copyright-protected content. This new technology is incorporated in the latest Windows Media Player 10 update as well as XP SP2. If the user runs a video file that is infected by one of the "DRM Trojans", they pretend to download the corresponding license from the net. In reality users are redirected to sites that take advantage of Windows vulnerabilities to download spyware, adware, premium-rate diallers and other viruses onto victim's machines. The Trojans have been detected in video files with extremely variable names circulating across P2P networks such as KaZaA or eMule. File traders beware. The video files infected by these Trojans have a .wmv extension and are protected by licenses, supposedly issued by the companies overpeer (in the case of WmvDownloader-A) or protected media (for WmvDownloader-B), Panda reports. Overpeer was previously hired by the recording industry to dump fake versions of songs on file sharing networks. Later it lobed pop-ups and adware at users. Loudeye - overpeer's parent company - told PC World last December that P2P users are getting what they deserve. Whether overpeer has begun using more aggressive tactics is unclear, the evidence against it is circumstantial and it could be other parties have used its name as a convenient smokescreen. ® Related stories Firm gives P2P networks adware infection Fizzer stealth worm spreads via KaZaA P2P virus fakes nude Zeta Jones pics
John Leyden, 13 Jan 2005

Xwireless goes titsup

UK mobile messaging firm Xwireless has gone titsup. A terse notice on the firm's website confirms that the Stockley Park, Heathrow-based company has "ceased trading" and that all relevant parties will be contacted in due course. Xwireless was founded in 2000, to provide mobile business services, focusing on SMS network services and associated technologies, to corporate and SMEs. It was led by entrepreneur Nigel Harte, but he left the company in January, 2004. Customers included Scandinavian telco Sonera, opticians chain David Clulow, UK National Milk Records and London charity Volunteering Lewisham. The firm's phones (0870 77 00 470) have been switched over to an answerphone carrying the same message. What went wrong with its business remains unclear. At time of writing XWireless's directors have not responded to our request for comment. ® Related stories Carrera goes titsup Cambridge wireless network to close Operators wake up to mobile enterprise needs 3G battle centres on consumers
John Leyden, 13 Jan 2005

UK.gov to hire IT project SWAT team

The government is to bring in a team of IT specialists to oversee big technology projects and prevent them from failing. Chief information officer Ian Watmore described the team as a "heavy hitter brigade" when he announced the scheme at a government CIO meeting last week. The team will be managed by the e-government unit, but will be funded by individual departments as and when they call upon its services, according to Computer Weekly. The trade magazine reports that the team has yet to be selected, but that Watmore hopes to attract six to ten leading consultants. As well as overseeing ongoing projects, the team will be involved at the planning stages, advising on the feasibility of particular ideas and programmes. Too often, problems emerge on projects that ought to have been picked up earlier on. As projects progress, these get more and more difficult to deal with. Watmore acknowledged that the government has something of an image problem when it comes to large scale IT projects. "At best," he told CW, "we have a low public perception of our capability." But he added that public sector IT projects are "inherently more complicated...than the private sector" and "as challenging as anywhere on the planet". This is because the UK is significantly larger than a big corporation's customer base, with its 60 million citizens. Yet it is not so large than projects are easily broken down regionally, something that happens in "countries significantly larger than [the UK]", Watmore said. ® Related stories MoD imposes 'failure clause' on EDS UK police fingerprint system collapses UK.gov IT: it's broke, how can we fix it?
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Jan 2005

NTL may chop off Irish arm for €200m

The Irish Times reported on Thursday that the parent company of NTL Ireland is aiming to unload its Irish division sometime before April at a price of between €150m and €200m. At least one consortium of Irish investors is preparing a bid, while UGC Europe Communications - which purchased Ireland's Chorus Communications last month - is also expected to make an offer, the paper said. Goldman Sachs is said to be advising NTL Group on the sale process, which has been given the codename "Jameson", according to the newspaper. An NTL Ireland spokesperson said the firm had no comment on the report. Previously called Cablelink, NTL Ireland has over 340,000 customers in Dublin, Waterford and Galway and was purchased by NTL Group in 1999 for around £533m (€680m). As Cablelink, the business was run as a joint venture between RTE and Eircom (Telecom Eireann). Though profitable, NTL Ireland has never proven to be worth the 1999 purchase price, which most analysts agree was highly inflated due to the telecoms boom. The exorbitant price that NTL paid for the unit, as well as several other acquisitions during the period, contributed to NTL Group's recent financial troubles, which included bankruptcy proceedings in the US that eventually concluded in a massive $10.9bn debt-for-equity swap in 2002. Since that time, there has been regular speculation that the company would offload its Irish business as it focuses on its core UK operations. Almost two years ago, a report in an Irish newspaper suggested that NTL Ireland was on the verge of selling for as little as €100m. At the time, venture capital group Apex Partners and entrepreneur Denis O'Brien were named as possible bidders. O'Brien also sought to buy Cablelink in 1999, but was eventually outbid by NTL and its then-CEO, Barclay Knapp. Since the 1999 buyout, NTL Ireland has been forced to rein in some of its more ambitious schemes, which at one time included integrated phone, internet and cable services. In recent years, the company has made strategic decisions to curtail its telephony offerings, although in mid-2004 NTL Ireland did say that it would invest €100m in broadband internet infrastructure. In its most recent set of financial results, NTL Ireland posted a rise in revenues and said it had boosted its residential and broadband customers. The company's revenues in the third quarter of 2004 were up by 3.5 per cent year-on-year to €26.5m, while segment profit in the quarter declined by 17.6 per cent to €8.9m. Benefits realised in the third quarter of 2003 from the renegotiation of a number of contracts with major suppliers were not repeated in the third quarter of 2004; the company cited this as the primary reason for the decrease in segment profit. In the results, the Irish arm of NTL also said that it had increased the number of homes that it can market to for broadband connections in the third quarter by almost 40,000, bringing the total up to 66,500. Broadband customer figures increased to 5,400, marking a penetration rate of 8.1 per cent. © ENN Related stories NTL's CIO quits NTL flogs broadcast division for £1.27bn NTL completes Virgin.net buyout NTL supercharges broadband
ElectricNews.net, 13 Jan 2005

Euro AMD Opteron server demand slows

Sales of AMD Opteron-based servers in Europe appear to be slowing, market watcher Context warns. After tracking Opteron sales throughout Europe's seven biggest economies, Context today said that sales growth collapsed during the early month of Q4 2004. In Q3 2004, sales grew month on month by up to 50 per cent, but October sales were only 8.6 per cent up on September. In November, sales fell 18 per cent on the previous month. Numbers for December 2004 are not yet available. Context expects Opteron-based servers to take under one percentage point of x86 server market share in Europe during Q4 2004. Small that may be, but the platform is now regularly appearing on the monthly sales charts, showing sufficient demand to lift the platform out of the 'purchase a few machines for evaluation' stage. During Q2 2004, Opteron-based machines accounted for 0.45 per cent of the x86 server market in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. By Q3 Opteron's share had risen to one per cent, Context told The Register. Context monitors shipments through European resellers. The key suppliers are HP and IBM. ® Related stories AMD CPUs to sport anti-fake holograms AMD unveils Centrino spoiler 2004 in review: processors and semiconductors AMD to gain market share in 2005 AMD battles Intel over F1 number crunching AMD ships 90nm Opterons Sun shooting for double-digit piece of the x86 market AMD pitches PowerNow! at servers AMD Opteron noses into Euro x86 server sales
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

Couple names baby Yahoo

A newborn baby boy has been named "Yahoo" by a Romanian couple - cos they met over the net. Mum and Dad - Cornelia and Nonu Dragoman - courted online for three months before finally tying the knot, reports a local paper by way of Reuters. Lucian Yahoo Dragoman was born last month. "We named him Lucian Yahoo after my father and the net, the main beacon of my life," said mum Cornelia. Aaaaaahhh! ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2005

Police clairvoyants protect DC subway

Members of the Washington, DC Metro Police have been trained by gurus at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in a new form of crimebusting voodoo that purports to help them "profile" the public, and zero in on vibes emanating from bad people. According to a recent Washington Post article, the police are "targeting people who avoid eye contact, loiter, or appear to be looking around transit stations more than other passengers... Anyone identified as suspicious will be stopped and questioned about what they are doing and where they are going." "It is effective," Metro spokesperson Lisa Farbstein gushed. She boasted to the Post that "a few pickpockets have been caught over the past six months as officers in uniform and plain clothes have been applying their special observation skills." One such TSA program, at Boston's Logan International Airport (which has nabbed an unknown number of pickpockets) is currently under challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU is concerned that it could serve as a smokescreen behind which racial profiling can be concealed. It filed a lawsuit in November of 2004. However, "Logan's behavior recognition program is specifically designed to ensure the protection of everyone's constitutional and civil rights," the Massachusetts Port Authority explained. Actually, that's probably true, so far as it goes. It's only the preposterous ease with which police can indulge in racial profiling while claiming to have been performing behavior profiling that makes it an issue. The pretext for introducing the airport scheme into the DC Metro system is to enhance security for the upcoming presidential inauguration, which is imagined to be a tempting occasion for a terrorist attack, or at least a spike in petty crime. Obviously, the scheme will remain in place long after the inauguration. It is not known at this time whether other city transportation authorities intend to adopt it, but DC's inevitable future claims of roaring success will no doubt provide an inducement for trial programs elsewhere. At least it makes more sense than face recognition, which has been an expensive and miserable failure. And it's certainly less invasive than the practice of amassing vast databases of people's personal details, and demanding ID at every turn in one's daily life. Assuming that it's actually effective, the only remaining problem is that abuse will be absurdly easy to conceal. ® Related stories Blair's Britain vies with US in ID snoop wars US lubes passports with RFID snake oil US, Belgian biometric passports give lie to UK ID scheme How to fool ID card system - give a false ID, say UK gov DHS and UK ID card biometric vendor in false ID lawsuit Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card Biometric recognition gets right in your face Airport security failures justify snoop system Biometrics vendors face 'more lean years' Campaigners fight biometric passports
Thomas C Greene, 13 Jan 2005
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Maximum sentence for SA software pirate

A South African was this week jailed for three years for selling counterfeit Microsoft software and infringing Microsoft's copyright. Craig Marnoch received the maximum sentence for his crimes at Pretoria Commercial Crime Court - a first in South African legal history - despite an earlier guilty plea. "Having established himself as an online distributor of software products, Marnoch sold counterfeit Microsoft products under various company names, misleading the public," according to a Microsoft SA. Evidence from Microsoft resellers over the course of two years led to Marnoch's arrest in October 2004. He was charged with offences under South Africa's Counterfeit Goods Act, later pleading guilty to the first two counts of selling pirated Microsoft software. IT lawyer Lisa Thornton said piracy and counterfeiting have become widespread in the South Africa over the past decade, IT Web reports. Oh Canada In separate news, Microsoft is suing a Canadian firm for C$250,000 ($208K) over allegations that it sold and distributed counterfeit Windows certificate of authenticity labels. Raeco Industries, from Mississauga, Ontario and its director, Ross Borge, are charged with infringing Canada's Trade-mark Act in a lawsuit filed last month. It's claimed that Raeco ran an outfit called Planet-Rom.com offering that offered the bogus labels for sale. In selling counterfeit Microsoft goods Borge is allegedly breaking a settlement with the software giant signed in 2002 when he was with a separate Ontario firm and a separate 2003 court judgement, according to local reports. Because of these alleged misdeeds, Microsoft is seeking punitive damages as well as a restraining order. The allegations against Raeco Industries and Borge are yet to go to court. ® Related stories MS takes big stick to Dutch resellers Judge blocks Microsoft from banking Utah software piracy winnings Small.biz loves illegal software (true)
John Leyden, 13 Jan 2005

Napster subscriber tally hits 270,000

Napster entered 2005 with over 270,000 subscribers, 90,000 more than at the end of Q3 2004, the music download firm said today But it remains a dwarf, when compared with its major rival, Apple's iTunes Music Store. Napster's latest subscriber numbers yield a quarter-on-quarter sequential growth rate of 50 per cent, enough to make it the "fastest growing subscription service in the industry", according to CEO Chris Gorog. Of the 270,000 subscribers, 44,000 were from university-funded subs, which in the past Napster has said yield little revenue. But assuming all of the remaining 216,000 were subscribing on day one of Q4 - a generous assumption - that amounts to subscription revenue of under $7m for the quarter. Napster forecasts Q4 FY2005 revenues of $11m, so either a very big chunk of its revenue is coming from a la carte downloads - in spite of Napster's attempts to push buyers toward the higher-margin subscription products - or a shortfall is looming. Napster's Q4 FY2005 equates to Q4 calendar 2004. Gorog said the 50 per cent sequential subscriber growth supports "our belief that the future of digital music is subscription services". Maybe, but it's interesting to note that Apple's iTunes Music Store contributed $177m to Apple's bottom line, according to the Mac maker's latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing. To be fair, that figure incorporates sales of iPod accessories and related services, such as battery replacements. Based on the download numbers Apple has put out since October 2004, we reckon it sold around 80m downloads during Q4, which works out at around $79m in total at $0.99 a track - still way beyond Napster's revenues. This suggests the pull-through from hardware sales - in this case demand for iPods - is a much greater force when choosing a music vendor than either the subscription or the a la carte download models. ® Related stories SightSound looks to shut down Napster - again Napster UK pares prices iTunes launches in Ireland Nappletizer users - getting physical? Napster trades on Nasdaq
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

Isle of Man welcomes US online punters

The Isle of Man now allows US punters to gamble in online casinos based on the island, the NY Times reports. The announcement will rattle US authorities opposed to American citizens having a flutter beyond the reach of US legislation. Indeed, US prosecutors have launched a series of actions against operations doing business with foreign online casinos. Some credit cards, Amex included, do not allow customers to gamble on the web at all. In response, the WTO recently declared that this prohibition of cross-border trade breaks breached the 1994 general agreement on trade and services, and ruled in favour of Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda in the matter. The Isle of Man has operated online casinos since 2001, initially attracting some big-bucks operators including MGM Mirage. However, after an initial boom, a flattened market provoked many, MGM among them, to shut down their Irish Sea operations. The island's new policy came into force on 1 January, and is clearly an attempt to revitalise the online gambling economy. Tim Craine, the head of electronic business for the Isle of Man, said: "There's a lot of business looking to relocate to a reputable, regulated jurisdiction. We're hoping to capitalize on that business by changing our policy." Craine confirmed that the Isle of Man is particularly looking to attract representatives of the burgeoning online poker business, currently worth between $2m and $2.5m per day worldwide. ® Related stories Punters warm to online poker Online roulette has Germans in a spin WTO rules against US gambling laws UK Gov unwraps Gambling Bill Amex prevents punters gambling online Online poker ace scores £4,500 - per week Irish punters enjoy online betting
Lester Haines, 13 Jan 2005

Ofcom outlines radio spectrum plans

Ofcom has published details of twelve radio spectrum bands that it expects to be available by the end of 2008. These can be used for a range of different applications including next generation mobile services and wireless broadband. Some of the spectrum bands on offer could also be used for emergency services communications, digital radio and broadcasting. Publishing its consultation document today, Ofcom said a priority is to make this spectrum available to the market as quickly as possible. That said, it wants to hand out the licences in an "orderly process [so that] optimal use is made of the spectrum". "Another priority is to help spectrum users plan more effectively by setting out a clear set of proposals for future spectrum awards," added the regulator. Today's Spectrum Framework Review: Implementation plan outlines Ofcom's intention to extend spectrum trading to the 2G and 3G bands in 2007. In particular, it proposes that there should be no restriction on the use of spectrum for mobile phone services other than 3G and is also keen to consider how and when liberalisation might be extended to existing 2G licences. Under the terms of the 3G licences issued in 2000 - which cost the UK's mobile operators a whopping £22.5bn - each cellco has to provide network coverage to 80 per cent of the UK population by the end of 2007. Despite pressure from the industry, Ofcom is not removing this obligation. The regulator "suggests that licence revocation is only likely to be proportionate in serious cases of non-compliance, not least given the serious consequences that this could have for existing customers of any licensee. The document also discusses other options for action short of revocation." mmO2 commented: "mmO2 welcomes Ofcom's pragmatic position on the 3G roll-out obligation. mmO2 has consistently maintained that market demand should determine the pace and scope of network roll-out." The cellco is currently trialling its 3G service on the Isle of Man ahead of a summer launch. The closing date for responses is 24 March 2005. ® Related stories Ofcom readies spectrum review UK wireless watchdog to 'open' 72% of public spectrum Vodafone to splurge £100m on 3G launch 3G VAT appeal goes to Europe Ofcom unshackles radio spectrum
Tim Richardson, 13 Jan 2005

Deep Impact en route to Tempel 1

NASA's Deep Impact probe has successfully launched from Cape Canaveral and has begun its journey to Comet Tempel 1. The space agency says that "data received from the spacecraft indicates it has deployed and locked its solar panels, is receiving power and achieved proper orientation in space". In other words, all's well so far. When it arrives in six months time, it will send its payload off on a collision course with the comet. The impact of the 37,000kph projectile will release energy equivalent to 4.5 tons of TNT, and could blast a hole the size of the Colosseum in the comet's surface. NASA scientists hope this hole will reveal more about the composition of the comet, so shedding light on the formation of our solar system. Comets are preserved pieces of our solar system's primordial days; leftover pieces of the original matter that went on to form the planets. Some scientists think that organic molecules needed to form life, and even speculate that much of our planet's water was carried to Earth by comets. The fly-by section of the craft will watch the collision and will send data back to Earth. NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes, and other terrestrial 'scopes, will also observe the crash. ® Related stories Countdown to launch for Deep Impact NASA throws Deep Impact spacecraft at comet Tree rings show calendar of sun spot activity
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Jan 2005

Sapphire Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition

ReviewReview It's been just over a month since we took a good look at ATI's Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition reference board. To follow it up, we took a look at a retail version of the card. It's made by Sapphire, the company that actually manufactures ATI's reference boards and indeed boards for several other manufacturers too. It's no surprise, then, that the card looks identical to the reference design. As a dual-slot card, an external power connector is required but according to the spec sheet only a 300W power supply is needed. If you want to try overclocking, you'll need more than that but it's likely that any PC this monster card was placed into would have a meatier PSU anyway, writes Benny Har-Even.
Trusted Reviews, 13 Jan 2005

Blue LED boffin wins $8.1m from ex-employer

The brains behind those flashing blue lights used in almost all the world's Bluetooth devices to show they're working has won $8.1m from the company he alleged had failed to compensate him appropriately for his discovery. The inventor of the blue LED, Professor Shuji Nakamura, was orginally paid an extra $200 for his work by his then employer, Nichia, a Japanese chemicals company. Today, he is engaged in research at the University of California. Nakamura took Nichia to court in 2001. He was initally awarded a whopping $189m in compensation, but his opponent appealed, claiming the payment would puts its future in jeopardy. Last month, the Japanese high court told the two parties to reach a settlement that would leave Nichia still standing. Lawyers for both sides thrashed out the $8.1m deal, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, a figure with which Nakamura said he was "completely dissatisfied" - who wouldn't be in the circumstances? - but felt he had to accept. His lawyer, however, said the settlement still amounted to a "major victory for the researcher who claimed his rights as an individual". ® Related stories SightSound looks to shut down Napster - again MEPs call for fresh start on software patents IBM pledges 500 patents to OS developers Hitachi lobs lawsuit at Chinese disk drive maker Budding inventors warned of dishonest promoters DualDisc roll out challenged by Euro patent holder
Tony Smith, 13 Jan 2005

Report warns of dangers of UK's DNA database

In addition to "sleepwalking towards a surveillance society" via the ID scheme, the UK is snoozing nearer to a Big Brother state, with the aid of the National DNA database, according to a new report by GeneWatch UK. The Home Office has ruled out adding DNA data to the biometrics to be held on the entire population via the ID scheme, but the data which is being collected for the Police National Database already makes it one of the most substantial DNA databases in the world, it's growing fast, and it's possibly significant that the Home Office has stressed that it can't bind future administrations to keeping DNA out of the National Identity Register. ID scheme-related research has indicated that the population, while knowing very little about it, supports the idea of everyone's DNA being collected. The police database, however, can grow substantially for quite some time without being compulsory, both because DNA data is a useful crime-fighting tool (hence public support), and because of the growing opportunities for DNA sampling that have been created through a series of legislative changes. Genewatch accepts the usefulness of and need for a database, but argues that it needs to be operated within limits and with adequate safeguards and supervision. 'What have you got to hide?', as they say. Well, one of the things about DNA is you don't necessarily know that. Yet. There are currently 2 million records in the police database, and this is expected to expand to 5 million following the most recent changes in the law. DNA can be taken from those arrested, and retained permanently even if they're not charged or found guilty, and the collection of scene of crime samples is also a valuable mining area. In the case of arrests, you could see situations where large numbers of demonstrators are arrested then released without charge (this happens fairly often), but have their DNA added to the database anyway. The state of play with scene of crime samples is that they are collected with the consent of the subject, who is given a choice of having the data used for the particular investigation and destroyed afterwards, or having it permanently added to the database. Those involved are generally pleased to cooperate, but GeneWatch warns that they don't understand the full implications of irrevocably committing the sample to the national database. And there are also examples of pressure, amounting to blackmail, on people to 'volunteer.' During a rape investigation in south London, for example, a Met detective wrote in a letter sent out to the local population: "Consider that the suspect is likely to refuse to provide a voluntary sample; catching him will be far easier if he is the only one." Which is of course true, but one might feel just a little pressured. If one didn't, one might then take "I will be reviewing the circumstances around your refusal and will notify you of my decision" as being somewhat more menacing. Even without that last bit of menace, area population samples accompanying high-profile investigations will add large number of entries, many of them permanent, to the database. Errors and false DNA matches have led to miscarriages of justice, and these can create major difficulties for those wrongfully convicted because, like fingerprint evidence, DNA is widely regarded as absolutely conclusive, meaning that those without strong alibi evidence will tend to be presumed guilty. At the moment the DNA database itself can be viewed largely (but not entirely) as a growing suspect list that is mainly used to check samples from new and unsolved crime, but the existing data can be (and has been) used for broader purposes, and the UK practice of retaining the sample as well as the data allows it to be used for further testing for other purposes as the science develops. We're seeing glimpses of what is possible with familial testing, which establishes links to family members where the suspect's DNA might not be on the database, and although the first instance of this was viewed as a coup, if used widely the procedure would find relatives you didn't know about, and reveal that people weren't related to the people they thought they were. So what have you got to hide? You don't know, and maybe you don't want to know. Another 'breakthrough' last year involved DNA profiling which was claimed to establish a suspect's origins, based on his DNA, as being from the Caribbean. Police even attempted to drill this down as far as a particular island, although the Florida company which carried out the analysis said that while DNA might be used indicate broad ethnic ancestry, it wasn't possible to say that an individual came from any particular country. This particular instance, however, serves to illustrate what police think DNA can or will be able to do, and the police's view of the database as a resource that can be mined in growing and novel ways. In the near future mobile scanners, which can generate results in 15 minutes, will come into use, prediction of ethnicity may become feasible, as could predicting health and general appearance. Various studies have claimed to have found genetic links to traits such as homosexuality, aggression, depression or addictive personality, and while GeneWatch notes that none of these studies has stood the test of time, the quest for the criminal gene holds obvious attractions for the forces of law and order. With predictive profiling, says GeneWatch, "a major concern is that the police could misinterpret such DNA evidence as a certainty, whereas the tests can really indicate only a probability." And although the National Identity Register will not, at least initially, hold DNA records, there are other current and planned DNA databases, and these can be matched across databases by any organisation with the clearance to access them. There has, for example, been discussion of the possibility of profiling DNA at birth and storing this on the individual's NHS electronic health record. This would ultimately produce a complete national database, and given the current government's record on 'balancing' privacy against security, it is by no means inconceivable that the police would be allowed to access such a resource. We can be even less sure about future governments. GeneWatch recommends the creation of an independent body to govern the use of the database, the destruction of DNA samples after the completion of investigations, an end to the practice of allowing genetic research using the database (the Forensic Science Service, which until the recent addition of private contractors, carried out all the testing is now itself being privatised), and independent research into the effectiveness of database in tackling crime, and the implications of new technologies. It opposes the expansion of the database to include the whole population, warns of the dangers of permanent storage, and calls for a public debate. Well worth reading in full, here. ® Related links: GeneWatch UK police fingerprint system collapses Delete records, or profile the whole UK, says DNA print pioneer Police to retain DNA records of cleared suspects
John Lettice, 13 Jan 2005

Casualties mount in Apple vs customers war

AnalysisAnalysis It's hard to think of anything that makes Apple's music store more attractive to the general public than the guarantee that the music you've bought will play wherever you want it in your home. However, Apple frowns on such good citizenship, and as we reported earlier today, is using every trick it can to make sure the music stops playing. But the most remarkable thing about the latest skirmish between Apple and its music customers, reported here, is the sophistication of the underground medicine. The Hymn Project restores the health of AAC files by stripping them of the locks and keys Apple attaches to songs it sells. "I just want to say thanks to iOpener for allowing me to listen the music I have legally brought on not only my iPod but also my ordinary MP3 player," writes one happy user. Over the New Year, a new version of the JHymn application for Windows and Mac appeared which takes the files bought through iTunes Music Store and converts them into regular MP3 format. Once converted by Hymn to MP3, the file is safe from the chicanery we saw this week. People who downloaded the iTunes 4.7.1 client software discovered that music they'd legitimately purchased had been crippled. The software update restored the locks and keys to the .mpa files. What's interesting about this week's to and fro is that users could restore the rights without downloading a new version of Hymn. Only three fields were needed to be ticked off in the user friendly graphical client. Sanity was restored. iTunes Music Store files are proving toxic to the idea of the "converged home". While the innovative new network music players like Elgato and Roku Soundbridge cope with unprotected AAC file just fine, they choke on the lock-down DRM AAC files that Apple sells. Manufacturers don't even have the luxury of paying a licence fee to Microsoft to fix this problem, as Apple won't license the format at all. Fine, shouldn't we allow Apple a monopoly over home audio equipment? But music won't even flow from Apple to Apple, as Apple intended. Try cross-playing a file bought through iTMS from one PC running iTunes to another. Up pops a dialog asking for authorisation. It takes an unholy alliance of music pigopolist and computer monopolist to force us to beg for permission to use our own ears. "It doesn't make sense for them to charge us a dollar per song for a song in some format that disables us from using it with anything other than an iPod or our computer," writes one iTunes Music Store customer. For another, patience is wearing thin: "APPLE: If you continue to pull shit like this, I will stop buying music from you and go back to the CD stores. Once I have the music, it is my right to be able to play it without worry of you keeping iTunes in business. What if McCartney shuts you down? Do I lose the ability to play all the music that I've bought? BS. Stop fucking with us," he writes on the Hymn forum. And if one unholy alliance wasn't enough, we have two. Microsoft's own Windows Media DRM has similar consequences. But the Asian manufacturers aren't exactly falling over themselves to license it: they've long been wary of a technological dependence on Microsoft, which they see as expensive and unnecessary. Ditto Apple. Developers are taking two approaches to restoring their rights. The FairKeys approach using code from 'DVD' Jon Johansen connects to Apple's own servers. Hymn looks where Apple has hidden the keys. It's an immensely challanging job as Apple has lots of ways to block its customers from enjoying music they've bought. It constantly issues new keys, it can change the wire protocols, and waiting in the wings is the patented watermarking technology it's developed. But the fact that the Underground Music Doctors dealt with the latest bout of DRM flu so slickly suggests that Apple will need to devote an increasing amount of resources to battling its own customers. The message this sends to the market is simple. Stay away. ® Related stories Apple brings discord to Hymn Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony Digital music: flat fee futures How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved Why wireless will end piracy and doom DRM and TCPA Jim Griffin Free legal downloads for $6 a month. DRM free. The artists get paid. We explain how
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2005

HP and Falconstor team on fancy storage kit - report

HP could be developing a storage virtualization box meant to compete with similar kit from IBM and EMC, according to an online report. Storage site Byte and Switch has a number of sources placing HP in a deal with Falconstor to create this new system. The box would be used to manage storage systems made by different vendors and help create the often mythical "pool" of storage out of these boxes. IBM already sells the SAN Volume Controller to handle these types of tasks, and EMC is reported to have a system called the Storage Router - a software/switch pairing - on the way as well. "The new HP offering would ostensibly replace the embattled HP OpenView Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA), which the company recently lost the right to sell after a drawn-out legal battle with EMC," the online rag reports. HP inherited a protracted legal battle with EMC over patent infringement claims when it bought StorageApps. These legal squabbles continue to hang over CASA. HP's partnership with Falconstor would serve as a work around to the CASA problems. Falconstor is said to tell partners that it's working with a "Tier 1 OEM" on new technology, according to Byte and Switch. You can read the full report here. ® Related stories HP must open source Tru64 goodies - users HP replaces part of UDC with acquired OpenView package HP confirms plans for Blu-ray
Ashlee Vance, 13 Jan 2005

Sun posts one penny profit in Q2, as revenue falls

Sun Microsystems managed to eke out a profit in its second quarter but failed to impress analysts or investors with a drop in product sales. Sun reported second quarter revenue of $2.84bn - a disappointing total given that it's a 1.6 per cent fall from the $2.89bn reported one year earlier. Sun did, however, post a profit of $19m or 1 cent per share, which compares favorably against last year's net loss of $125m or a loss of 4 cents per share. Analysts had, on average, been looking for Sun to pull in $2.92bn in revenue and to post earnings per share of 1 cent. "It feels good to ring up a modest . . . profit," said Scott McNealy, chairman and CEO at Sun. On the plus side, Sun increased its gross margin percentage by 0.5 percentage points to 42.3 per cent. It also generated $52m in cash during the quarter, leaving it with $7.5bn in the bank. Sun's product revenues, however, were less than stellar. It shipped $1.8bn worth of hardware and software during the second quarter. This compares to sales of $1.9bn in the same period last year. Sun's services revenue did increase this quarter hitting $1bn. Last year, Sun posted $944m in services revenue. Sun's shares quickly fell by about 6 per cent in after-hours trading, as investors reacted to the quarterly report. Sun noted that it suffered from an unusually slow quarter in the US - a sentiment echoed by Intel, which also reported earnings earlier this week. Telcos and government customers pulled back on their spending, according to Sun, but financial services customers remained strong. "Our effort to take back Wall Street is paying off," McNealy said. Sun's sales of one processor to eight processor servers were solid, but it failed to move as much high-end kit as it would like. The company hopes this trend will change as some of its larger customers pick up Solairs 10, which starts shipping at the end of this month. "We hope that will drive a nice upgrade cycle in the midrange to high-end servers," McNealy said. Financial analysts battered Sun during a conference call with the company's management. Sun executives revealed that the company expects to post a loss next quarter due in large part to $250m in charges related to restructuring and a settlement with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Sun's rare profits have largely come as a result cost-cutting measures such as layoffs and better inventory management not from increased revenue. "We are not done with cost reductions," McNealy urged. "You may think it's done but nobody here thinks it's done." "The discussion with the customer today is very different than one year ago, two years ago or three years ago," he continued. "Three years ago there was no discussion . . . We see the differences . . . We feel the differences." ® Related stories Euro AMD Opteron server demand slows Run from Sun ahead of Q2 - analyst Sun ready to let public taste Honeycomb storage box Scott McNealy's Xmas dream
Ashlee Vance, 13 Jan 2005

Space launches make kids sick

Children living close to the old Soviet Union's oldest space launch pad are more likely to suffer hormonal problems and blood disorders, according to a Siberian study leaked to the journal Nature. The study claims that the rates of such diseases have doubled in some cases in populations near the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. However, the research has not been published, and was rejected by Russia's space agency. A spokesman for the agency said it kept a close eye on pollution levels, and was not aware of any health problems. He added that areas that were polluted were compensated. The Baikonur Cosmodrome saw the launch of the rocket that carried Yuri Gagarin to space, and is the oldest space launch pad in the world. It is also where flights leave for the International Space Station. The Russian Space Agency leases the facility from Kazakhstan. Researchers studied the medical records of 1,000 children in areas close to the launch pad. It found that children in areas most affected were twice as likely to need medical treatment as those in unpolluted areas. The authors conclude that waste hydrazine fuel, left unburned from early stages of launches, is responsible for the high rate of illnesses. Fabio Caramelli, an engineer at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, said the fuel was "nasty and toxic", BBC Online reports. "A tablespoon of hydrazine in a swimming pool would kill anyone who drank the water," he said. The ESA uses the Baikonur facilities, but a spokesman for the agency said the pollution "is a matter for the Russian space agency,". ® Related stories Deep Impact en route to Tempel 1 Shuttle launch moves closer Galileo launches will go ahead
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Jan 2005

Internet black widow ‘stalked pensioners on the net’

US police are investigating if a 69 year-old Canadian woman already convicted of killing her first husband murdered her second spouse. Melissa Friedrich is also accused of drugging a 73-year-old man she met an online dating service in order to systematically fleece him of $20,000, CBC News reports. Investigators suspect Friedrich forged relationships with elderly men in order to rip off their life savings, leading her to be dubbed the "internet black widow" by the son of her latest alleged victim. Canada's wrinkly femme fatale Friedrich served two years in prison for manslaughter after she fed her first husband, Gordon Stewart, a lethal dose of prescription drugs prior to running him over with a car in 1991. She claimed rape by Stewart prompted her lethal assault. At the time, Stewart had 30 convictions for fraud, false pretences and impersonation dating back 15 years, The Daily News in Halifax, via AP reports. Following her release two years into a six-year sentence, Friedrich left Nova Scotia and eventually settled in Florida. She married second husband, Robert Friedrich, in 2001. The couple met through an online matchmaking service. His death a year later at 83 initially caused no concern. But Florida police have now reopened the case after uncovering evidence that Friedrich drugged and defrauded her latest partner. Friedrich moved in with Alexander Strategos in Pinellas Park, near Tampa, Florida last year after meeting him through an online Christian dating service. Trace of guilt Soon afterwards, Strategos's son, Dean, became concerned when his father's health suddenly deteriorated. When a blood test by Dean on his father revealed traces of unprescribed sedatives he called in the police. A suitcase filled with pills was subsequently discovered at his father's condominium. Investigators say Friedrich drugged Strategos and persuaded him to hand her a power-of-attorney via which she withdrew $18,000 from his bank accounts over three months. Friedrich has been charged being held on a charge of "exploitation of the elderly" with bail set at $10,000. She's not allowed to leaving the US. Friedrich is also in trouble for allegedly lying to the US Department of Homeland Security about her Canadian manslaughter conviction. No charges have been made in the death of Robert Friedrich. ® Related stories My Internet love is a corpse-hoarding granny Date rape drug two arrested for Net sales Cupid, love hearts, revenge and monkeys
John Leyden, 13 Jan 2005