18th > January > 2005 Archive

Man in £20 van makes it to Gambia

After crossing France, Spain, Morocco, the Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal and finally the Gambia, Group One of this year's Plymouth-Dakar rally made it safe and sound to Banjul late last week. The cars were auctioned off on Saturday morning and broke all previous records for the amount raised. Twenty-eight cars went under the hammer, the rest were either given direct to deserving causes or will be sold later, and they raised a total of 1.4m dalasis (£30,000) - more than all three auctions made last year. Top price was 110,000 dalasis for an Opel Astra estate and even the aged East German Trabant went for 16,500 dalasis (about £300). The organisers managed to get the import duty reduced to 10,000 dalasis for all cars in the auction. Camping equipment, jerry cans and various other bits of kit were also sold off. Team 145's plucky Citroen van, piloted by Reg hack John Oates and Alexei Boltho, sold for 45,000 dalasis - just less than £900 - a decent profit margin on the £20 purchase price. Plumber's mastic kept the drive shaft together through the three day desert crossing and over Gambia's extremely rutted roads. We covered 7,172 kilometres with just one puncture. We also used two litres of oil. We had no other mechanical problems except a window popping off its runners when we crossed a river a little too quickly in Senegal. Her new owner - Lamini Saho is still not sure what she will be used for - a bush taxi or delivery van seem most likely. The money raised will go to a variety of projects in Gambia. A big thank you to our sponsors including all at Classic Car Storage for mechanical genius, Microsoft UK for picking up the petrol bill, all at El Reg and numerous other generous individuals. Anyone with Christmas money left can give to Medecins Sans Frontieres here. ® Related stories 'In Europe you have watches but in Africa we have time' Reg hack in daring Gambia charity dash
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005
channel

Intel, Pantech talk smart phone development

Is Intel about to enter the crowded mobile phone market? That's one conclusion that might be drawn from reports that South Korean handset maker Pantech is in negotiations with Intel over the joint manufacture of such devices. Another, of course, is that Pantech, South Korea's third-largest mobile phone maker, simply wants to use Intel's chips in future smart-phone designs. That the two companies are talking was revealed yesterday by South Korean newswire Yonhap. It cited a Pantech spokesman who confirmed that talks have taken place and that Pantech CEO Lee Sung-kyu approached Intel last month to discuss smart-phone development. The chip giant will no doubt have been keen to talk. While its ARM-based XScale processor family has won considerable success in the PDA market, it hasn't achieved quite the same level of support among mobile phone makers. Given Intel's new focus on platforms rather than individual silicon products, a design win with Pantech would give the company not only a new customer but an example to justify its latest reorganisation, announced yesterday. The restructure saw, in part, the company's old Communications and Mobile Platforms Groups merged into a single unit, the Mobility Group. Pantech today launched its latest handset, slider-phone with integrated camera and a ruggedised design. The unit will be pitched as a "sport and leisure" handset for consumers with active lifestyles. ® Related stories Intel restructures around platforms Intel delays death of 100MHz Pentium Sony unveils 'Centrino 2' notebook family Boxed 533MHz FSB Dothans seen on sale Intel's record Q4 run ends with profit drop Toshiba announces Sonoma-based notebook early
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2005
graph up

Data-storage laws fail to drive Euro sales

A survey of European IT directors reveals that although they believe data storage is crucial to business continuity, they are unclear about the role of legislation in forcing businesses to use the technology. Around 76 per cent of those questioned believe storage is crucial to enterprise continuity. But 52 per cent either don't know or disagree that recent legislation is increasing uptake of storage kit. Recent legal changes like Sarbanes-Oxley and Basel II have been credited with increasing demand for storage technology, but only 27 per cent of respondents, mostly in the finance sector, reckon compliance is driving the storage market. Gary Smith, CEO and president of Ciena, which commissioned the survey, said the results showed the differences between attitudes in Europe and the US. He said that although legislation was important in the US, "it is not surprising that IT directors in Europe differ in opinion on the importance of this issue, because regulatory compliance is not yet mandatory for all industries in European regions". But Smith warned that US changes will have a knock-on effect in Europe and IT directors need to be aware of their legal responsiblities. Firms in the finance sector were best informed about their legal duties under new legislation. When asked about the details of storage technology, most respondents were refreshingly unaware of specific technologies. Asked about the benefits of Synchronous Digital Hierarchy versus Wave Division Multiplexing, 78 per cent of those questioned were not able to provide a response. The survey, carried out by Vanson Bourne, questioned IT directors at European firms with more than 1000 employees. ® Related stories Sun posts one penny profit in Q2, as revenue falls BMC buys French identity software maker for $33m Cisco likes the look of EMC's NAS
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005

UK onlines sales surge

E-tailers recorded a cracker of a Christmas with online sales jumping 20 per cent as more people shopped online during November and December 2004. Research outfit Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) found that half of the UK population shopped online this Chrimbo, spending more than £3bn. Their purchases accounted for almost seven per cent of total UK retail sales over the festive period. Overall, the UK sploshed out £14.5bn in online retail sales during 2004. Said IMRG's chief executive, James Roper: "Growth was slower this Christmas than last year but the entire marketplace has been more difficult and ecommerce hasn't escaped that. It has still done well and, as the take-up of broadband increases and more retailers invest in their online sites, more shopping will move online." Predictably, online sales of electrical goods in the run-up to Christmas proved popular, surging 42 per cent higher than last year as people bought MP3 players and other digital gadgets. Booze sales soared 45 per cent. Sharing his thoughts on the bumper sales, Brent Hoberman, chief executive of Lastminute.com, said: "Every year since we started the business, we have consistently seen more and more consumer interest in buying Christmas gifts online. Each holiday season the consumer seems to be leaving their Christmas shopping later and later, and this year was no exception - we sold 33 per cent of Christmas gifts in the two weeks prior to Christmas Day, compared to 21 per cent last year. "We achieved almost 50 per cent growth in gifts over Christmas this year. For me, one of the key reasons we have been able to deliver strong growth year after year is because of the ever-expanding range of unique and unusual gift ideas we offer our customers, as well as increased consumer confidence in shopping on the Internet." And it appears that this consumer confidence is critical to the ongoing success of ecommerce. Some reports before Christmas warned of a 'gift shambles' with scaremongers claiming that many presents would not be delivered in time while stocks ran out and postal services failed. These fears proved unfounded, according to IMRG, which said few instances of gear failing to turn up in time have been reported. ® Related stories Festive sales boost Dixons UK e-spend on the up-and-up US goes on Xmas e-spending orgy
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2005

Symantec outlines plans for Veritas

Symantec has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to help it integrate soon-tobe-acquired Veritas. The firm has also hired Bain & Co. to deal with customer-facing issues surrounding the takeover. Spin doctors for the firm are claiming the deal will mean more opportunities for its channel partners rather than just removing competition, which is how they describe Oracle's acquisition of Peoplesoft. More on eChannel here. Ed Gillis, Veritas's CFO, is in charge of integration planning for both companies. He is setting up joint teams to focus on: planning for sales, services and business structure, outlining the business and technology roadmap, detailing both firm's "go-to-market plans", integrating services and support, combining finance, infrastructure and legal operations. John Thompson, chairman and chief executive of Symantec, said: "Symantec and Veritas are highly complementary in terms of product lines, account coverage structure and go-to-market approaches... Our synergies, along with the commitment of both companies' employees and the integration teams, should help make the integration process more manageable." ® Related stories 2005: huge turbulence in IT market Can the new Symantec make merging look easy? Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005
cloud

Vendors target IBM ThinkPad market share

Notebook makers are hoping to carve up IBM's mobile market share following the sale of Big Blue's PC division to Chinese vendor Lenovo last month. HP, for example, is reported to be running an ad campaign in Taiwanese newspapers that promotes its machines as US-developed systems, an approach that clearly plays on the fact that soon IBM ThinkPads won't be made by IBM at all. The irony is that HP's machines, while designed in the US, are almost entirely made in Taiwan, as are pretty much all of the world's big-brand and no-name notebook computers. Dell, meanwhile, is said to be preparing to extend its 12.1in notebook line the better to attempt to win business away from IBM's ultra-light X series, DigiTimes reports. A recent letter to Taiwanese businesses claimed "IBM has gone", according to the Chinese-language Economic Daily News. The site notes a similar thrust from Acer to target potential IBM customers who might be concerned that the Lenovo deal means they won't get a 'true' IBM notebook. All these companies, and others, are expecting notebook sales to ramp up over the coming months thanks to Intel's launch tomorrow of 'Sonoma', the second generation of Centrino. Slowing sales through the latter part of 2004 have seen channel inventories scaled back, in part paving the way for the new platform. Taiwanese vendor sources cited by local news services indicate not only the use of Sonoma to push sales at the high end, but to revive lower-end demand, too, by sacrificing some of the platform's more advanced features - such as PCI Express and DDR 2 SDRAM - to keep the price down. And expect an even greater emphasis on widescreen displays, they say, as vendors increasingly push notebooks at consumers. ® Related stories Intel restructures around platforms Sony unveils 'Centrino 2' notebook family Apple said to ship PowerBook G5 in Q2 2005 Boxed 533MHz FSB Dothans seen on sale Toshiba announces Sonoma-based notebook early AMD unveils Centrino spoiler IBM hands Lenovo billion-dollar PC loser IBM sells PC biz to China Laptops go on sperm killing rampage
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2005

Scot in court on DDoS charges

A Scottish man suspected of orchestrating DDoS attacks on online businesses appeared in court yesterday following his arrest in a joint US/British crackdown on cybercrime last weekend. Matthew Anderson, 27, of Drummuir, near Dufftown, Moray, was charged with offences against the Computer Misuse Act 1990 at a private hearing at Elgin Sheriff's Court. No plea was entered and Anderson was released on bail pending further police inquiries. Anderson was arrested Friday, 14 January as part of an investigation into attempts to extort a "significant quantity of money" from online businesses across the world, the Daily Record reports. The inquiry, dubbed Operation Casper, is being led by US Secret Service agents and officers from the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. ® Related stories Scots man held over DDoS charges Botnet used to boost online gaming scores Russian extortion gang faces 15 years Extradition ruled out in bookie extortion case Security incidents and cybercrime on the up
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2005

Intel 2.13GHz Pentium M 770 arrives

Pentium M 770 processors have begun to appear in Tokyo shops today, ahead of tomorrow's formal launch of the 533MHz frontside bus-supporting chips. The debut, spotted by local site PC Watch, comes a week after other boxed 533MHz FSB Pentium Ms began appearing in the Japanese market. The PM 770 is clocked at 2.13GHz, Intel's fastest 'Dothan' chip yet. Like the previous top-of-the-range model, the 765, it contains 2MB of on-die L2 cache. The Socket 479 part is intended to work with Intel's 915PM or 915GM chipsets, both members of the 'Alviso' family - the mobile equivalent of its 'Grantsdale' desktop chipset range. The 770 is priced at around ¥73,535 ($720), but is likely to be formally priced at $637 when it's launched tomorrow. ® Related stories Intel, Pantech talk smart phone development Intel restructures around platforms Sony unveils 'Centrino 2' notebook family Intel delays death of 100MHz Pentium Boxed 533MHz FSB Dothans seen on sale Intel's record Q4 run ends with profit drop Toshiba announces Sonoma-based notebook early
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2005

The mysterious case of the 'gay-bomb' request

The US military, planned to use stink bombs, chemicals that cause bad breath, and a so-called "gay-bomb" that would make enemy soldiers irresistible to one another as part of a range of non-lethal, but disruptive and morale-damaging weapons. An Air Force laboratory in Ohio applied for $7.5m funding to develop these, and other similar ideas described as "harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals". The 1994 proposal was uncovered by The Sunshine Project, a chemical weapons watchdog group. In the hunt for "Chemicals that influence human behaviour so that discipline and morale in enemy units is adversely affected", the researchers proposed that strong aphrodisiacs be dropped on enemy troops. The idea was that the deliriously loved-up men would unable to resist one another, but would be suffused with regret once the potion wore off. The "gay bomb" was just one of many ideas. Researchers at the Wright Laboratory planned a chemical weapon that would encourage swarms of wasps of rats to attack the enemy soldier. Other proposals include a chemical that would cause "severe and lasting halitosis", so that enemy soldiers could be identified even out of uniform; a substance to make skin painfully sensitive to sunlight light and a so-called "who me?" bomb, essentially a very large scale stink bomb that would make enemy living quarters unpleasant places to be. That last idea was abandoned because, according to the government papers: "people in many areas of the world do not find faecal odour offensive, since they smell it on a regular basis". Marine Captain Daniel McSweeney explained that the Pentagon receives hundreds of suggestions for non lethal weapons, but stressed: "Gay Bomb' is not our term.It was not taken seriously. It was not considered for further development." The US observes chemical weapons treaties, he added. ® Related stories The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Self-heating latté stirs controversy The American way of spying gets a makeover
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jan 2005

Lawson lures Peoplesoft punters

Lawson Software is looking to lure Peoplesoft and JD Edwards customers away from Oracle with an improved migration programme. The move to Lawson products would take 12 months, and the company promises discounts on Peoplesoft and OneWorld maintenance support during that time. Aimed at IBM iSeries users, the scheme includes consulting services from IBM premier partner CIBER. Dean Hager, chief product officer at Lawson Software, said: "We believe PeopleSoft/JD Edwards World and OneWorld customers will find a much greater future for their business applications software in moving to Lawson. "This programme is designed to make that move extremely affordable, and as quick and smooth as possible," he claimed. More details on the Lawson site here. ® Related stories Oracle and the culling of the 5,000 Oracle finally puts PeopleSoft in its pocket OracleSoft coming out party set for Jan. 18
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005

Sony admits PSP 'update' is genuine

Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation Portable (PSP) updater that leaked onto the web this past weekend is genuine. However, it publicly warned owners of the handheld console not to run the software, which it said will "cause the PSP hardware to stop operating". The updater is configured to install a number of bug fixes, along with a text-to-speech utility, a calculator, web browser, email application and - most interesting of all - a word processor and spreadsheet tool. However, the update installer as posted does not yet contain all - or indeed any - of these software components. The update was said to have been retrieved from a Sony server, but until now the software's bona fides were in doubt. However, a Sony Computer Entertainment International (SCEI) spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that the code "has not been issued officially by SCEI", according to an IDG report. "We have become aware that there is a software program going around on some web sites and Internet bulletin boards claiming to be an update file that rewrites the system software of the PSP hardware," she said. "We advise our users not to execute or apply the program as it will cause the PSP hardware to stop operating." Anyone who has applied the update can send their malfunctioning PSP back to Sony for a repair, she said, but the company will charge them for the privilege. Meanwhile, online retailer Amazon.co.uk reinstated its PSP sales page after a few days' absence. Once again, it states 18 March 2005 as the handheld console's UK release date. The price is £180. ® Related stories Sony PSP 'update' adds office apps, browser, email Sony PSP to ship in UK on 18 March - Amazon Sony PSP takes off on schedule Sony selects 25 March 05 for Euro PSP launch
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2005

Telewest, NTL unveil VoD services

The UK's two cablcecos have unveiled their video-on-demand services today as they look to bring greater flexibility to digital TV viewers. Telewest has brought a movies-on-demand service to its dTV punters in Bristol ahead of plans to launch a wider choice of TV-on-demand services beginning summer 2005. The UK's second largest cableco is investing around £20m in the development of its TV-on-demand and personal video recorder (PVR) services in 2005. Initially, the new service will be available to more than 2100 dTV customers who will be able to watch the latest films whenever they want through their existing cable set-top box. The movies-on-demand service also provides the same controls as watching a DVD or video including pausing, fast forwarding and rewinding programmes. NTL's new Video-on-Demand (VoD) service is to be launched in Glasgow before being rolled out to other parts of NTL's franchise. Much like the Telewest service, NTL On Demand, as it's called, will give viewers access to hundreds of hours of additional programming, including advert-free children's programmes, a music video jukebox service and adult content. For both Telewest and NTL, the movie service is provided by FilmFlex, a joint venture company between Sony, Disney and the On Demand Group, will offer hundreds of films including the latest blockbusters and golden oldies. Said Telewest boss Eric Tveter: "This new service puts consumers in control, giving them the freedom to watch the movies they want, whenever they want to watch them. It's simply the easiest way to enjoy a movie and there's no need to visit the video store, miss the end of a film or pay late fees ever again." Today's announcement by NTL was overshadowed by news that the cableco is cutting the number of engineers who maintain the cableco's TV and broadband network by 35. According to insiders, staff were told yesterday and have been given 30 days' notice. A spokeswoman for NTL said the job losses were part of an "ongoing process" at the cableco. However, she denied reports by Cable Forum that NTL is about to embark on a major redundancy programme that could result in the loss of between 10-15 per cent of its entire workforce ahead of a merger with Telewest later this year. ® Related stories UK leads Europe in VoD Amazon UK rents DVDs Sony, Disney VoD JV wins EC approval NTL tunes in to video-on-demand Telewest upgrades network IBM shunts NTL tech support jobs to India NTL may chop off Irish arm for 200m BT gets into film, TV and music
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2005

German court rules email blocking 'illegal'

Selectively filtering out emails of a specific sender may constitute an offence, the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Karlsruhe ruled on Monday. Two years ago a university in Baden-Württemberg blocked the email of a former employee who left after a quarrel with his peers, but continued to stay in touch with scientists and friends. His former peers decided to filter out every message in which his name was mentioned without informing the ex-employee or his friends. The Higher Regional Court now has ruled that blocking email by content is unlawful as it is considered confidential in German law. Blocking is only allowed when, say, a viral attack is imminent. The implications of the ruling aren't yet fully clear. Whether the Higher Regional Court has unintentionally legalised spam (which frequently is filtered by content) remains to be seen. ® Related stories Verizon persists with European email blockade Protect us from smut, whimper trembling workers Google's Gmail: spook heaven?
Jan Libbenga, 18 Jan 2005

Sony Ericsson profits leap 28%

Mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson made a net profit of £55m in Q4 FY2004, ended 31 December, an increase of 28 per cent on the same period last year. The joint venture shipped 12.6m handsets in the three-month period, up from 8m in the fourth quarter of 2003. Sales were £2,005m, up from £1,437m for the same period of 2003. Demand for 3G phones helped increase Average Selling Price to €160, up from €157 in the third quarter. But the firm warned it expects the market as a whole to grow by less than ten per cent in 2005 - 2004 saw the market grow by more than 20 per cent. Miles Flint, Sony Ericsson's president, said in statement: "The fourth quarter continued a trend of expansion in both volume and sales, showing the company's ability to effectively compete in this dynamic market. Strong growth in Q4 was led by good up-take of our latest 3G UMTS phone which has laid the groundwork for future expansion of our 3G portfolio." ® Related stories Sony Ericsson carries on making money Sony Ericsson debuts keyboard smart phone SonyEricsson follows Palm in RIM deal
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005
server room

Enterprise WLAN firms update switch tech

WLAN switch makers Aruba and Trapeze today upgraded their enterprise-oriented wireless networking offerings. Aruba has updated its AirOS switch operating system to version 2.3, adding a new set of security and management to the package. The upgrade allows remote-office WLANs to be controlled by the switch through an IPSEC VPN. If a native IPSEC tunnel can't be established with the remote wireless router, AirOS 2.3 will build a tunnel using the UDP protocol, Aruba said. The OS can now redirect traffic to a range of authentication servers using domain names, the company added. The update also provides support for the 802.11i (aka WPA 2) wireless security standard. For network managers, it can generate real-time radio frequency coverage and interference surveys. Aruba also introduced its latest Grid Point thin access point, its first hybrid unit that supports both wired and wireless connections. The wall-mounted unit incorporates 802.11a/b/g radios supported by a single tri-band antenna, along with a pair of Ethernet ports and a USB connector. The Aruba 70 grid point costs $595, but AirOS 2.3 is available free of charge. Separately, Trapeze updated its RingMaster software, adding wizard-based configuration tools, automatic configuration verification and enhanced change-management features. The upgrade also adds an improved monitor read-out to provide time-based feedback on WLAN conditions. The new version of RingMaster costs $1995. ® Related stories Cisco to buy Airespace WLAN switch makers fight for survival Gigabit Wi-Fi looms large Aruba to bring WLAN-level security to LANs Airespace extends WLAN switch line to SMEs Aruba touts Wi-Fi grid scheme
Tony Smith, 18 Jan 2005

Sunncomm gets a nod and a wink from Universal

DRM software maker SunnComm has signed another major music label up as a customer - sort of. SunnComm last week touted its new deal with Universal Music Group (UMG). The agreement, however, would carry a bit more weight, if announced in less apprehensive tone. "The world's largest music company may choose at some point to elect the use of [SunnComm's] MediaMax technology," SunnComm said. "SunnComm will receive a royalty from UMG should the company decide to use the technology. MediaMax is one of several technologies currently under review by UMG." That's hardly the ringing endorsement that some SunnComm watchers had been looking for. The company has been under pressure to sign up another large customer alongside BMG. UMG did not return numerous calls seeking comment about how extensively it planned to use the SunnComm software. SunnComm is best known, much to its dismay, for having an early version of its DRM software break when a Princeton University student held down his PC's Shift key while inserting a 'protected' music CD. The company threatened to sue the student for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) but then backed down from this attack. Since that embarrassing episode, SunnComm has enjoyed a successful run. Its digital rights management software has been used by 25 record labels and is currently controlling 10m CDs out in the wild. Sold short? SunnComm, however, continues to be followed by the odd episodes that have dominated its history. For example, two days before it announced the deal with UMG, SunnComm appeared on a new Nasdaq list of companies that failed to have a certain number of share transactions complete in a set period of time. SunnComm attributed its inclusion on this list to abuse by short-sellers. "I feel that our company's inclusion on this Threshold Security List supports our contention that there have been substantial naked short positions that may have caused failed deliveries of SunnComm shares resulting in a substantial dilutive effect on shareholder equity," said SunnComm's CEO, Peter Jacobs. "It is unfortunate that a company like ours, with so many accomplishments and that has worked so hard to successfully penetrate the lucrative US music business, has had its value negatively impacted by these activities." Then, one day before the UMG deal was announced, SunnComm was profiled by Shazamstocks.com in a pseudo research report. Shazamstocks, run by former UBS Paine Webber broker Ken Weiner, received $87,000 from a "third party" for its glowing report on SunnComm. Weiner did not return a call asking who this third party was. Weiner has received substantial payments from companies looking to be profiled on his stock picking site. The site advises investors that they can enjoy large gains simply by benefitting from Shazam's membership all chasing the same stock. "Our paid membership grows eveyday [sic]," the site says. "Our picks get a nice kick just from buying from our membership. 72 hours later the pick goes out to our free list. Our free list is huge and growing every day. If you like to buy low and sell high, then the paid membership is for you." However, in the profile section where SunnComm was included, Shazam warns, "we are not stockbrokers or investment advisors. We are neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice". SunnComm, while seeming to get ever closer to the big labels, continues to be hounded by bizarre business deals. It is, however, one of the largest independent DRM makers and a dominant player in the US market. ® Related stories JetGroove culls songs as music biz says 'cease, desist' MP3 music service draws industry fire Sony Japan dumps lock-down CDs Is SunnComm a sham or the next, big DRM success? Macrovision CDS-300 version 7 beta Macrovision and SunnComm court Apple for a seachange in CDs
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2005

ESA shows off Titanic views

The European Space Agency has released a new image of the surface of Titan. The composite shot, made from a jigsaw puzzle of 30 images, shows the moon from a height of around ten kilometres, just over a kilometre higher than Everest. The pictures were actually snapped as the probe fell from an altitude of 13km to eight kilometres. The pictures are all at a resolution of 20m per pixel, and the area photographed extends out to 30 km, ESA says. The mission has been hailed as a resounding success, with messages of congratulations being offered to ESA from all involved. NASA's chief administrator Sean O'Keefe said: "We're very proud of the Cassini-Huygens teams that helped to make this both an engineering and scientific victory." The only blot on an otherwise unmarred landscape is the loss of one of the two data channels returning information to Cassini. The data loss means that only half the 700 hoped-for images have been returned to Earth. Professor David Southwood, ESA's director of science, said that the problem was caused by human error, and was ESA's responsibility. An investigation into the failure has been launched. Based on the initial results, scientists said the probe had landed on a solid-ish surface with a consistency of Creme Brulee. Colour images reveal the world to be dominated by its orange atmosphere, with hazy marmalade skies above a boulder strewn surface. ® All the images from Huygen's descent can be found here. Related stories Huygens lands on Titan, and the data floweth Huygens probe alive and kicking Huygens: the countdown to splashdown Huygens probe gets clean bill of health
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jan 2005

Red Hat readies new release

Linux distributor Red Hat is readying the next release of its enterprise operating system which will have improved security and full support for the 2.6 Linux kernel. The launch will coincide with Valentine's Day and LinuxWorld in Boston, according to this story on IDG. The release will be the most significant upgrade since October 2003. It includes changes to way the input-output system writes data to disk which should speed up applications like databases which deal with lots of information. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0 is expected to fully support the latest Linux kernel and include features from the National Security Agency's Secure Enhanced Linux programme. This effectively separates different applications so security holes in one cannot be used to exploit another application. RHEL 4.0 will also include new versions of the business applications bundled with the software. Other changes include the ability to deal with files larger than one terabyte. The software should let Red Hat compete more effectively with Novell - it released its SuSE enterprise server, based on the 2.6 kernel back in August. The kernel is the central part of the operating system dealing with basic core functions. ® Related stories Red Hat Q3's 'validate' Linux subscriptions Sun must acquire Red Hat or Novell - analyst Dell turns on too pricey Red Hat
John Oates, 18 Jan 2005

Verizon and Yahoo! forge broadband alliance

Verizon Communications Inc - the US's largest telecoms company - is hooking up with Yahoo! to promote a co-branded broadband service. Both companies reckon the pairing will help increase demand for broadband and attract cable punters to DSL. Verizon and Yahoo! intend to promote the service with an "aggressive" marketing campaign via the Yahoo! network and through Verizon's own ad channels. As part of the deal, Yahoo! will receive monthly fees based on subscriber numbers while Verizon will earn a slice of revenues from premium services subscriptions, searches and advertising. For consumers, the merger combines Verizon's high-speed access with Yahoo!'s content and services, such as email, storage and broadband content. Said Verizon bigwig Bob Ingalls: "Broadband users looking for more value and a superior online experience will come to Verizon because they know they can count on us to deliver innovative services like the new Verizon Yahoo! product." This isn't the first time that an access company and content provider have joined forces to boost their services. In 2002, US telecoms giant SBC hooked up with Yahoo! to offer bundled services. While in the UK, BT cuddled up with Yahoo! in 2003 to offer a jointly-branded service. ® Related stories Yahoo! and! SBC! cuddle! up! BT! and! Yahoo! in! BB! marriage! BT! and! Yahoo! hold! hands!
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2005

Airbus rolls out A380

Airbus this morning rolled out its twin deck, 555-seat A380 superjumbo at a celeb-packed ceremony in Toulouse. Politicians including Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac queued up to praise the €11bn project: the latter hailed it as the "crowning achievement of a human and industrial adventure" while the former confirmed the A380 as "the most exciting new aircraft in the world, a symbol of economic strength and technical innovation". The A380 has already attracted orders from 11 airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic included. Totals orders are reported as 149 aircraft, well on the way to the 250 unit break-even figure estimated by Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard. It is not all, however, clear blue skies for the A380 project. Earlier this year, Virgin announced that it was postponing delivery of its first A380 until 2007, due to "delays in airports - particularly that of Los Angeles (LAX) - preparing to receive the enormous aircraft". The company also reported difficulties in obtaining kit to customise the behemoth's interior. Unsuprisingly, the A380's budget has attracted some concern, notably in the area of government "launch aid loans" without which pundits speculate the aircraft would never have got off the ground. For its part, Airbus is playing it cool on the matter of a possible €1.5bn overspend. Airbus commercial director John Leahy told the BBC: "That sounds quite a lot of money until you realise you are dealing with a programme which is about €11bn." Rival Boeing, meanwhile, is directing its energies into smaller aircraft, notably the 7E7 Dreamliner (Flash site) - already ordered by Continental, Japan and Vietnam Airlines. The A380 will make its first flight in April. Deliveries of the aircraft begin in 2006. ® Related stories Airbus behemoth faces the press A380 Airbus suffers Virgin knock-back Airbus offers MS a lift
Lester Haines, 18 Jan 2005

HP takes on RISC with Itanium 2 gambit

HP threw its weight behind Itanium 2 processors yesterday with the launch of a range of Integrity servers based on Intel's Madison chip. It also debuted a pay-per-use pricing policy for Windows, improved virtualisation software and support for a fourth operating system, OpenVMS 8.2. The systems vendor is hoping to persuade customers to replace IBM mainframes and Sun systems with a new range high-end and mid-range server-computers running a faster version of Intel's controversial Itanium chip. Through this high stakes gamble, HP hopes to carve out a greater share of the $20bn market served by RISC processors. A range of HP Integrity servers based on Itanium is available now with support for HP-UX 11i v2, Microsoft Windows Server 2003, OpenVMS and Linux operating systems (Red Hat and Novell SuSE). The range runs from the 2-way HP Integrity rx1620-2 server for $4,119 through 8-way, 16-way and 32-way versions of the server up to the beefy HP Integrity Superdome server at $185,252. All aboard The product announcements come a month after Intel agreed to hire HP's Itanium design team, ending a joint development project by the two companies on Itanium that has lasted ten years. Despite this, HP remains committed to the platform. It has agreed to invest a further $3bn in Itanium-related product development over the next three years. HP said its HP Integrity server business brought in $1bn in sales last year. It also announced a number of HP Integrity server customers, including The Bank of New York, PREMIER Bankcard and CRI/Criterion, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/Shell group. The products, launched yesterday, will be formally announced at a webcast featuring HP chief executive Carly Fiorina and executive vice president Ann Livermore later today. ® Related stories HP sends Itanic boat people to Intel Intel to debut 9MB Itanic 2 'on Monday' Processors and semiconductors (year in review)
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2005
Broken CD with wrench

Veritas retools its Backup Exec baby

Veritas has once again beefed up its popular storage software - Backup Exec - aimed at small- and medium-sized customers by adding a number of tools typically found only with its more expensive products. Veritas CEO Gary Bloom today unveiled Backup Exec 10.0 in front of a large crowd full of reporters, analysts and customers here at the Essex House hotel in New York. The software meant for customers running Microsoft Windows servers should make it easier to backup data in small chunks, to use higher performing disk storage instead of tape and to monitor a large number of systems from a single management point. Overall, Veritas has brought some of the tools found in its pricier NetBackup product down to Backup Exec and made the new software work better with its Storage Exec and Replication Exec products. "The number one thing (SMBs) need is efficiency," Bloom said. "They need low cost IT. We are talking, in some cases, about organizations that have handfuls of people at the most to run IT." One of the higher-end additions to Backup Exec 10.0 is the "synthetic backup" technology first introduced with NetBackup. This software lets an administrator create a full backup once and then rely solely on incremental backups from there on out. Backup Exec will, as instructed, take all of the incremental backups and combine them to form a full backup. This saves customers from performing numerous full backups, which require lots of processing power and time. Another time saver comes in the form of something Veritas is calling the Central Administration Server Option. This means customers can now manage all of their Backup Exec servers from one point. A number of users interviewed at the product launch were enamored with this tool, saying it should cut way back on the time it takes to make sure backups at various offices have been completed. Veritas has also made it possible for SMBs to set up a type of backup staging process where they can first transfer data to disk storage for a given period of time and then have that information automatically go to tape for archiving purposes. This means that customers should be able to retrieve recently used data at a quicker clip than in the past. Over the past year, Veritas has been working to create bundles of its various software products and this is again the case with Backup Exec 10.0. Veritas unveiled the Backup Exec Suite, which includes the core backup product and Replication Exec 3.1 and Storage Exec 5.3. The upshot of this is that customers can trigger tasks in either the replication or storage products and see these tasks running from the Backup Exec management window. The Suite is really aimed at customers performing pretty sophisticated tasks. Veritas is providing a price break for buying all of the products. Backup Exec 10 starts at $895 and the replication (need two copies) and storage software are priced at $1,495 and $795, respectively. The Suite starts at $4,280 with a full year of technical support. So the price cut comes out to about $500. Some of the lower-end but popular features also in Backup Exec 10 are tools for controlling PCs and laptops. Administrators can set up the software to backup specific files on users' machines and to let users retrieve their own files. This lets admins make users fend for themselves and should cut down on annoying phone calls. "At most places, and Veritas is no exception to this, if you want to look after the data on a laptop then that is a self-service exercise," said Veritas EVP Jeremy Burton. "A lot of departments have kind of given up on protecting that precious desktop and laptop data." No more. In addition, Vertias' software can block the storage of certain types of files such as MP3s or videos because you never know when the RIAA (Recoding Industry Association of America) will come knocking. "I think there is a $1,500 fine for every illegal MP3 stored inside a corporation," Burton said. Veritas has also built its DirectAssist product into Backup Exec instead of making customers search for this on a support web site. This software can perform diagnostics and recommend ways to fix problems. It can also send system data straight to Veritas. "Now when (customers) call up, we don't have to spend the next hour going over all the versions of software they might have," Bloom said. Veritas' Backup Exec holds more than 50 percent of the Windows market, and there weren't a lot of surprises with the new version of this storage mainstay. As mentioned, Veritas has been busy filling the product with pretty solid tools that SMBs won't likely find in many other backup packages. Veritas also brags that Backup Exec can perform a full restore at the twice the speed of CA's ARCServe 11.1 and HP's Data Protector 5.5. Last but not least, Veritas now has agents available for Linux and Unix clients as well. In the long run, it remains to be seen how seriously Microsoft takes the low-end of the backup market. Last September, it made a feeble threat to encroach on some of Veritas' turf by announcing the Data Protection Server product. This software is said to arrive in the second half of this year, but Microsoft hasn't exactly established a tradition of on-time arrivals. Veritas should continue to enjoy its large Windows market share without something radical popping out of Redmond. ® Related stories Symantec outlines plans for Veritas Can the new Symantec make merging look easy? Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock HP laughs off Tru64 promises, welcomes Veritas
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2005

Liberty Media and UnitedGlobalCom to merge

Cable TV giant Liberty Media International, Inc. and broadband outfit UnitedGlobalCom, Inc. have agreed to merge. The newly formed company - Liberty Global - will be one of the largest owners and operators of broadband communications systems outside the US with a share in companies serving more than 14m punters in 17 countries. As part of the deal, Liberty Media International and UGC will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Liberty Global. UGC is currently 53 per cent owned by Liberty Media International. UGC operates in 14 countries with its networks connecting 15.5m homes and more than 11.1m subscribers including video, voice and broadband punters. Its largest operations are based in Europe and include UPC Broadband, which provides video, voice and data services to more than 10m customers in 11 countries. It also has interests in Chile and Australia. LMI is a holding company owning interests in broadband distribution and content companies operating outside the US - principally in Europe, Asia and Latin America. John Malone, LMI's Chairman, President and CEO, described the deal as a "merger of equals creating one of the largest broadband services companies outside the United States". The merger still needs the green light from shareholders but is expected to be completed by the summer. ® Related stories Verizon and Yahoo! forge broadband alliance Telewest, NTL unveil VoD services UK leads Europe in VoD
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2005

Worm poses as porn-purging program

A new mass-mailing worm which tries to scare naive users into running it by saying pornographic content has been found on their PCs has begun doing the rounds. Users are told that adult material on their PC can be hidden by running an attached program called "Evidence Cleaner", actually the Baba-C worm. Baba-C turns the frequent trick of offering malware posing a XXX-material on its head by offering to remove adult content from Windows PCs. The end result is much the same though. Users duped into running Baba-C further the spread of the worm and open up backdoor access to their Windows system. Although there have only been a small number of reports of the Baba-C worm, vigilance (and update anti-virus signatures to detect the worm) is never a bad thing. Emails sent by the worm (screenshot) typically arrive with the subject: "Important! XXX sites found on your computer!" ® Related stories MyDoom returns (posing as passwords to XXX sites) Italian Senate in gay porn worm attack outrage Trojan poses as naked XXX pics Trojan serves porn off home PCs, not many dead Porn diallers and Trojans the new face of malicious code Gadzooks! My PC has the pox
John Leyden, 18 Jan 2005

Veritas CEO promises Symantec buy will be kind and gentle

Veritas CEO Gary Bloom assured nervous customers that the proposed merger between his company and Symantec will not result in massive layoffs or massive drops in support. "It is not about cuts," Bloom said, during a product launch for BackUp Exec 10 here in New York. "We have been very clear about that." Symantec has proposed a $13.5bn all-stock buy of Veritas that is still dependent on shareholder and regulatory approvals. Should the buy go through, Bloom promised that it won't look like another software merger - that of Oracle and PeopleSoft - in which 5,000 staffers were sent packing. Bloom will become vice chairman and president of the new company. "We've talked about $100m in cost-saving synergies in the first twelve months," he said. "That $100m is mostly in back office functions." It's rare to see a CEO try and play down potential savings of a large merger. Both Symantec and Veritas, however, want to assuage fears that product support will drop off as the two companies merge. "We want to raise those service levels," Bloom said. "You will see very, very few layoffs." Should all go according to plan, the deal will close in the second quarter. A number of analysts have voiced concerns of the all-stock nature of the acquisition and have complained that the combined company might have meager growth rates. The companies counter saying they will grow faster than the world's other software giants. ® Related stories Veritas retools its Backup Exec baby Symantec outlines plans for Veritas Can the new Symantec make merging look easy? Symantec buys Veritas for $13.5bn stock
Ashlee Vance, 18 Jan 2005

MPs to scrutinise Ofcom's telecoms review

MPs are to scrutinise Ofcom's strategic review of the telecoms industry to assess the regulator's approach to promoting the right framework for a competitive broadband market. The Trade and Industry Select Committee (TISC) wants to examine the progress of the review so far and to make sure that the year-long investigation into the UK's telecoms sector is heading in the right direction. In particular, the TISC wants to focus on the UK's broadband market, local loop unbundling (LLU) and the functional separation of BT. The intervention of TISC is, effectively, a "review of the [telecoms] review" said one source. In November, Ofcom published phase two of its Strategic Review of Telecommunications. While it rejected calls to break up BT, Ofcom warned that unless it made "substantive behavioural and organisational changes" - including giving rivals equal access to its wholesale product range - then it would take action against the UK's dominant fixed line telco. Evidence for TISC's review needs to be submitted by 18 February. A year ago the TISC's own review into the UK's telecoms sector found that the UK lacks effective wholesale broadband competition and needs regulatory intervention to restore confidence to the industry. Said the report ahead of Ofcom's telecoms review: "It is imperative that those looking to invest in the market have confidence in the robustness of the regulatory regime. Without wishing to anticipate the detail of the ultimate outcome of the reviews, it is vital that the matter is resolved. It may be that that the advent of Ofcom gives the opportunity to re-establish confidence in the regulatory regime where currently it is lacking." ® Related stories Ofcom tells BT: shape up, or split up Tough-talking Ofcom boss slaps BT BT stands firm against Ofcom BT faces life-changing three months
Tim Richardson, 18 Jan 2005

Readers storm Verizon email blockade

LettersLetters This week, we'll begin with a selection from the rather large response to Verizon's decision to block all European emails by default. It says the move is designed to reduce spam (uh-huh) and despite reports to the contrary, claims that it only blocks spam messages on an individual basis: Hi John, To quote Bart Simpson, "The ironing is delicious" (he meant irony). I have a block in place for myself and all of my customers, to stop email from all of Verizon, due to the amount of spam coming from their own DSL network. Seems like they ought to get their own house in order before they start fingering us! I believe they win the "Muppet of the month" award. (I just made that up cos it's a Saturday and it sounds funny!). Good morrow :) Gary Right, that's enough, time to invade the idiots and put the British flag back in Washington!!! NB: any historical errors are intentional!! Jeremy I now find myself wondering how I might contact anyone at Verizon to complain. I suppose I have to work through whois and the like. And then use snail-mail or telephone. Do they think we're French? Dave Apparently not: Just letting you know that email from New Zealand (and probably Australia too) appears to be blocked as well. Cheers, Steve And its not just Europe and the Antipodes: Sir, You can see by my e-mail address that I am one of Verizon's customer victims. I recently spent over 2 weeks in the PRC (China) giving all my verizon address to contact me. Verizon blocks China as well and I have been forced to use an alternate e-mail address for communication. This is not only very embarrassing but makes me wonder how much longer I wish to remain their customer. I have had similar problems with European colleagues. If spam-blocking is their goal then I would suggest that they block ALL American ISP's, since I believe that most spam comes from America, not Europe and not Asia. Thank you. Art Should Microsoft be allowed to sell a virus clean-up tool? Hell yes! Or No. Don't ask us... Hello, Isn't it funny how the security vendors contradict themselves? If Microsoft really did sort itself out as the gentlemen from BlackSpider network suggests, the security vendors business would be nonexistent as it is and he could shut his business down. If you're afraid of the competition you obviously cannot compete. The security industry as aimed at the home and small business user is only possible due to badly implemented security and code, as such companies like that should be thanking Microsoft. MS's bug-ridden code provides their bread and butter. As to Microsoft cutting into security vendors market share, that interests me little. I want securer systems for as little cost as possible and in that sense, I don't care who I receive it from. Anything that prevents or reduces the number attack platforms, zombie-nodes and virus-incubators makes my Internet experience more pleasurable and less frustrating, no matter where it's from. thank you and kindest regards Oliver "Microsoft should spend more time, energy and money addressing its own security weaknesses inherent in its products, which are exploited by virus writers and hackers, and less time trying to erode the businesses of existing security vendors." Ah, the classic trap that one can simply shift manpower around and problems will get solved faster. We hear it open source all the time "why are you doing X when Y needs doing" and yet the person who is good at X won't necessarily be any good at Y. or to sum it up in a homily : I might be good at mopping up water but I can't fix a leaky roof. Matt Isn't this rather like buying a condom with holes at both ends and then having to buy a course of penicillin from the same person? Mahatma Coat (yes, we know it is a joke name, but what can you do?) A warning not to use a toilet brush for personal hygiene seems rather unnecessary to us, as it did to the voters in the Wacky Warning Label contest over the other side of the pond. Sadly, it seems there is a need for such warnings. Oh. My. God. The toilet brush warning against being used for personal hygiene may not be as dumb as it would immediately seem. I've read in the past that some hugely overweight people actually do use them for it. Matthew Re stupid warnings...I just got married and one of my wedding cards from my work colleagues had a warning sticker on the back "Do not give to children under 36 months". I've heard of child brides, but that would be ridiculous... Richard I expect you're going to get a lot of these, but my personal favourite 'wacky warning' is on the back of a bottle of _baby_ cough syrup: "May cause drowsiness. If affected do not drive or operate machinery." (http://www.mypharmacy.co.uk/medicines/medicines/t/tixylix/tixylix_night_time_sf.htm for example). I wonder if rat poison will start to warn: 'May cause death. Do not operate high performance military aircraft if ingested'? Chris This weekend I saw one of the hammiest warnings ever - pick up a Tesco's pork joint and look at the label for 'CAUTION - This product contains raw meat". I really wonder how we ever coped without cautions like that - is the world really full of people who sue Tesco's for being duped into buying a raw pork joint in the raw pork section? Can they really warrant the time and effort in thinking these cautions up and printing them? Can I sue them because there is no caution that the contents contain pork product? Can a vegetarian sue them because there is no caution that it is unsuitable for them? Can I sue them because I didn't realise a pig had to die and it's made me very sad and angry that they've murdered a poor animal just for profits? Or is it just acceptable to sue them for selling raw meat cunningly disguised as raw meat.... Brendan Finally our thanks to all the readers who pointed out the warning on the iPod shuffle website. Absolute class. This next complaint is really too tame and well-spelled for a flame. Perfect for Letters though: normally i like reading the register, i find the quality of the journalism professional and to the point... today i read this opening line from you article about BT's broadband crash which begins: "BT's broadband service went titsup this afternoon" So it went "titsup" did it? What kind of lingo is that? Are we all a bunch of fat computer geeks down the pub now admiring the bird's tits and talking about things going "titsup" because we're all Jack the lad and we like to slip the word tits in wherever possible? Do you think by using the word "titsup" it makes your article appear slightly playful / cool? In actual fact it just makes you look like some bearded wanker who can't get a girlfriend who probably shouts "Waayyyyyy" when the barman drops a glass. Stop acting like a dick, start acting like a journalist. Simon Erm, soon as someone clearly defines the difference, we'll give it some thought. More trouble (which we've now sorted) in relation to the Panix domain hijack: As a long-time vulture spotter, I was very disappointed to read your story. It had one glaring inaccuracy, it failed to take note of the really critical matter that's worthy of being printed, and as far as I can tell you made no effort to contact us before printing it (though I will admit that the situation here has been difficult and I might be unaware of such an attempt). The major error is that we were not simply inattentive to a notification of transfer, as you claim ("Panix... apparently fell foul of these rules."). Even the new streamlined rules require an active confirmation to the gaining registrar. Furthermore, the losing registrar (Dotster) did not receive notice of transfer, as required. The critical point that you missed, therefore, is that the registry system is broken. It's been hacked, or abused from the inside. The full scope of this exposure isn't yet known. It's incumbent on Verisign and the registrars to fix their software and systems so that this can no longer happen. There's a lot more to this story that what you (and now I) have said, but much of it's still to be learned. We and many others are working on it. There's also plenty more that's already known, that can't yet be discussed because it could compromise the investigation. Over the next few weeks, I'm sure that plenty of interesting details will emerge. Alexis Thanks for writing Alexis. We've updated the story and we look forward to hearing those juicy details as they emerge. Lastly, a reader mourns the passing of Quicken: I'm sure that I keep hearing that the reason GNU/Linux can't take the desktop for many users, is their dependency upon Quicken, and the fact that GNUCash/etc are not up to the same standard? If Quicken is killed off, where do these users stand? Is QuickBooks really better? £70 better? Is a F/OSS version worth the £60 incentive for someone to do some (real, actually improve the software) work on GNUCash? If GNUCash got its act together - it holds some promising cards, but it doesn't seem to have acquired any /useful/ new features for years, just holding pace with the latest and greatest GNOME libraries (to no apparent benefit for the end user, other than "rpm-hell", or compilations headaches) - surely it could get some significant increase in its user base from this - and, in turn, give some of the "need Windows for Quicken" users an opportunity to change their OS. I've always got the impression from the GNUCash developers that they're more interested in making themselves seem 'knowledgeable and important' than in getting a useful product out there - even after the changeover a couple of years ago. Regards, Steve Back on Friday. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 18 Jan 2005