26th > January > 2005 Archive

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OpenSolaris makes Sun top donor of open source code

Sun Microsystems today officially made the open source Solaris moves that had been widely predicted earlier this week. It released a tool in Solaris 10 called DTrace under its new Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). It confirmed that all of Solaris 10 will be open sourced under the same license in the second quarter. And it officially named the new version of the operating system OpenSolaris. This will all sound familiar to regular readers who caught wind of the moves on Sunday. What won't be familiar to many of you is Sun stating that it's the single greatest contributor of open source code on the planet. Up to this point, Sun had trailed only the University of California at Berkeley in open source donations. Sun additionally freed up an astonishing 1,600 patents. "We used to be just the largest commercial donator of code," said CEO Scott McNealy during a conference call with reporters. "Without doubt, we are now probably the number one donator of lines of code of any organization on the planet." In reality, Sun won't really be able to claim the position of top open source dog until it actually releases all of Solaris 10 under CDDL. That's scheduled to happen sometime between April and June. Sun also thinks it has set itself apart from typical open source contributors by wrapping Solaris with complete intellectual property protection. No battles with SCO. No small ISV crawling out of the woodwork to sue. Use Solaris at will. Sun drove home the point that open source software and IP should go hand-in-hand. CDDL gives developers the right to take pieces of Solaris and modify the code, if they agree to submit any changes to the public. Software that simply plugs into OpenSolaris can have any license. Sun should receive credit for being as bold as possible with this move. Few companies that spend billions on research and development would be willing to release one of their most prized possessions to the public. It has, however, taken Sun a long time to get to this point, and there's no telling what the end result of the OpenSolaris experiment will be. Will it drum up interest in Solaris x86? Will it make a serious mark in the open source world? Will it help Sun gain new customers? The always brash McNealy certainly thinks so. "This is a super-charging, rocket-launching way of driving what we think is the best IP (intellectual property) in the space today forward," he said. ® Related stories IBM admits to low-end Linux on Power assault HP France plans February Opteron server party Sun offers open source Solaris snack pack Red Hat Q3's 'validate' Linux subscriptions HP confirms that Itanium is Intel's responsibility Sun must acquire Red Hat or Novell - analyst
Ashlee Vance, 26 Jan 2005

UK tech jobs jump in Q4

The number of IT jobs advertised jumped 21 per cent in Q4 2004. December is normally a quiet period in recruitment, but this is the fourth consecutive quarter that IT vacancies have risen, according to CWJobs, the IT jobs site. Overall, demand for permanent staff rose by 24 per cent, while the number of companies seeking contractors climbed by 14 per cent. The west of England and Wales that are seeing biggest increases, with 36 per cent more permanent jobs on offer than in Q3. Contractors will do better in the West Midlands: demand there has risen 44 per cent. Manufacturing and public sector employers are driving the trend with 54 per cent and 49 per cent more vacancies respectively, while the retail sector reports a nine per cent increase. Companies need permanent and contractor staff with Office and SQL skills. Oracle contractors are in high demand, while companies are seeking Java specialists to fill permanent roles. Richard Nott, sales director at CWJobs, said the IT jobs market should "continue to grow in the first half of 2005", with issues like security, corporate governance and compliance staying high on IT directors' agendas. ® Related stories Simply Computers suffers big redundancies Microland goes bust Job cuts hit Freescale earnings
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2005

Inland Revenue predicts bumper year for online filing

With just four and a half days to go until the tax return deadline, the Inland Revenue is expecting a bumper year in terms of people completing their self assessment forms online. As of 17 January, the Revenue has had 895,000 forms completed via its website - it passed last year's total about three weeks ago. However, The Register has heard reports that the self assessment section of the site is struggling to deal with the numbers of people trying to beat the deadline. A reader writes: Their website is running *extremely* slowly (eg pages take minutes to load, or completely fail to load). The affected sections are the dynamic forms for entering self-assessment data - the static sections of the site are fine. The telephone helpline says it's a known issue, that the hardware and software is 'fine', and they hope it'll be better tomorrow... they're saying they couldn't be expected to know there would be such a large peak in demand in the final week... We put this to the Inland Revenue, and were put gently in our place by a jolly spokesman. "We certainly do expect a peak in demand at this time of year," he told us. "The site is certainly getting a lot of hits. There is a huge amount of flow across the site, and it will only get heavier, but as far as we are concerned, it is performing perfectly well. "What I would say is that people should try to file their returns early in the morning or late in the evening, not peak hours. It will certainly work faster then." The moral of the story? 02:00 is a good time to file your forms. Who said tax didn't have to be taxing...now pass us the coffee...® Related stories BT, Kingston face EC illegal state aid probe Customs and tax merger to cost £75m Customs gets new IT head
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2005

FBI backs transatlantic anti-spam summit

A delegation of British MPs heads over to Washington next month to discuss information security with US politicians. During their three-day trip to Washington, the MPs aim to help set the agenda for international policy on internet security issues, including spam, viruses, zombie computers, rogue diallers and denial of service attacks. Claire Hobson, DTI head of UK Telecoms Policy, who leads the Government’s anti-spam policy, will join members of All-Party Parliamentary Internet Group, Derek Wyatt MP, Ian Stewart MP and Ian Taylor MP, to represent the UK at meetings with members of congress and officials at federal departments and agencies. Trip sponsors include the FBI, Microsoft and Messagelabs. Ed Gibson, FBI special agent and assistant legal attache of the US Embassy in London, said the get-together focuses on an important area of information security policy. "But for the viruses there would be no spam. That's why we see ever more virulent viruses," he told delegates this week at the Computer and Internet Crime Conference in London. APIG last visited Washington in October 2003. ® Related stories MPs demand big stick for hackers US should follow EU lead on spam MPs MPs head to US on anti spam mission Botnets, phishing and spyware Feds bust DDoS 'Mafia'
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2005

Europe wants cheaper storage and lots of it

Which came first - lower-cost, high-capacity hard disks, or applications that generate huge amounts of data and need cheap storage? Storage spending is on the up across Europe, but there may not be so much joy in it for the makers of big storage boxes, according to an IDC survey. The market research company predicts that much of the spend will be on high-capacity, low-cost arrays. Eric Sheppard, IDC's research manager for European disk storage systems, says that although the usage of lower-cost disk technology such as Serial-ATA is limited at present, the applications that should drive storage spending over the next 12 months are all ones that end users see as well suited to cheaper arrays. What's less clear is whether that application growth is itself driven by the falling cost of bulk disk capacity and by the perpetual need to do more for less money. "We know that the constant increase in data puts pressure on IT staff to add capacity," Sheppard says. The IDC study, which queried more than 500 end users in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the Nordic countries, found that 43 per cent expect their storage budget to rise this year, while seven per cent expect theirs to fall. It looks like an upward trend too - only nine per cent said their storage spend fell last year. Also on the rise is European SAN adoption, says Sheppard. He adds that the shift towards cheaper bulk storage is not all bad news for array suppliers. "The value of the total storage solution has been migrating away from arrays for some time now," he says. "Most suppliers have known this for some time, and increased their storage software and services offerings to offset decreased hardware margins." ® Related stories The risks of remote back-up Europe's SAN avoidance strategy IT bosses are storage addicts who can't stop themselves
Bryan Betts, 26 Jan 2005

Watch out for bogus health and safety invoices

Safety chiefs are warning businesses about a scam in which bosses are charged hundreds of pounds from a bogus health and safety organisation. The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) says businesses should ignore emails and letters from a group calling itself the 'Health and Safety Registration Enforcement Division'. The HSE first raised the alarm in April last year, when at least three separate organisations were masquerading as health organisations and demanding money from unsuspecting businesses. Thousands of letters were delivered to small businesses requesting amounts of between £125 and £250, to run checks and to register them with an enforcing agency. Under the current scam, requests - sent from a Bradford address - quote £199 for registration if "compliant" or £249 if "non-compliant" with non-existent health laws. The letters should be reported to HSE or to the police. A spokesperson for HSE said: "The Health and Safety Registration Enforcement Division is not connected to HSE and is not an official body. Businesses should ignore any approach from this firm, and any similar offers. "HSE would never write indiscriminately to firms seeking advance payment for services. Many of our services are provided free of charge and much of our guidance is on our website." All UK organisations are required by law to register with a healthy and safety enforcing agency, whether it be the HSE or their local authority. But this service is free of charge. The HSE is liaising with trading standards offices and the police, who are investigating the scammers. Companies can purchase a genuine advice pack from the HSE for £30. Copyright © 2005, Related stories German police bust porn invoice scammers Domain slammer promises to turn over new leaf Watch out, there's a scammer about Dodgy UK websites terminated Watchdog mauls internet directory for bogus invoices Alert over invoices from 'Domain Registry Services' Watch out for the bogus invoice man
Startups.co.uk, 26 Jan 2005

CA re-organises management

Computer Associates doubled profits for fiscal Q3 and is changing its senior management structure to make it more like IBM. John Swainson, who takes over as CEO next month, is dividing CA into business units rather than product-based divisions. Swainson did 26 years at IBM and credits the business unit structure with Big Blue's success. The theory is that managers take a wider responsibility for performance than if they are attached on one brand or product. Bonuses will be based on whole company performance rather than individual units. Russell Artzt, co-founder of CA who previously ran security software, will help oversee the changes and take responsibility for future product development. Mark Barrenechea takes charge of future acquisitions to "ensure that CA is on the forefront of the consolidation trend", according to an internal email seen by Reuters. For the third fiscal quarter of 2005, which ends 31 December 2004, CA brought in revenues of $911m, up nine per cent on last year. Earnings were $36m compared to $17m a year ago. For the full fiscal year 2005, ending March 31, CA forecasts revenues of between $3.526bn and $3.546bn. ® Related stories CA ups reseller bonuses CA finds Big Blue exec for CEO role CA intros usage pricing for mainframes CA forks out $430m for Netegrity
John Oates, 26 Jan 2005

Yahoo! bets on Betfair

Betfair and Yahoo! are to build a Yahoo!-branded version of Betfair's gambling exchanges for UK and Ireland. The joint venture is due to launch in March. Exchanges work by facilitating bets between punters. Rather than offering odds and taking bets themselves Betfair charges commission on all winning bets. The site claims 70,000 active punters and over a million bets placed every day. It takes bets on everything from basketball to yachting. Betfair is the largest UK betting exchange by far and was set up in 1999. More on the BBC here. ® Related stories UK betting exchanges face taxing future Punters warm to online poker Betfair and FA deal on dodgy bets Betfair.com scoops Queen's Award
John Oates, 26 Jan 2005

P2P radio wins big money

P2P webcasting company Mercora has won a vote of confidence from investors, snagging $5m from VC company Norwest Venture Partners. Mercora was formally launched in May 2003 and began to gather a following last summer. The 'IM Radio' service allows you to crossplay your music collection to anyone else on the network, legally. Mercora pays all rights holders, including the RIAA's digital collection arm, SoundExchange, and also reduces the massive amount of paperwork required to run a legitimate webcast. There are some caveats: users must not tell people what they're going to play in advance, play the same three songs in a three-hour period, or four from the same album in the same period. Apart from that, it's a free for all. Srivats Sampath, CEO and co-founder, describes Mercora as "Radio managed by 300,000 people. It's a 100 per cent end-user contributed network, just like Google or eBay." Some 300,000 listeners contribute around 15 million songs, although not everyone is online at once. Built around the simple crossplay is chat and other community features such as collaborative filtering. Back-end systems at Mercora use the files' MP3 tags to keep track of who's playing what. Near misses and partial entries are matched up to a database of albums information. Sampath admits that there's little to stop people announcing their shows in advance, via some other means, but says that this is tolerated as long as it's not explicit. The recording industry at the end of the day is simply glad to collect some money. "SoundExchange have been good to us because we've been writing them checks from the day we launched the beta, and they worked with us," Sampath told us. "We've also written cheques to all the other rights' agencies, such as ASCAP and BMI." The business challenge now, with so many users, is monetizing the network without pricing away users. Sampath says Mercora hasn't decided on what the premium fee will be, but he wants "to keep it nominal" and deliver real features for the privilege, such as "lean forward", or look-ahead searches. "The onus is on us to give something so people want to pay. But there will always be a free component to it," he said. As for the future, Sampath wants the industry to head in the direction of flat fees, or compulsory licenses, but said rights holders would resist having just one price predetermined for the music. Closer to the present, he believes the 99 cents per song model isn't sustainable and that the market will settle down at $4 or $5 for "renting" or $10 to $15 for all you can eat. As Cherry Lane's Jim Griffin points out, US consumers have only at most spent $5 per month for music. At $10 that gives everyone a chance to prosper. ® Related stories McAfee founder returns with 'legal p2p radio' Grokster touts 'legal, licensed' p2p music share system Digital music: flat fee futures Webcasters slap RIAA with antitrust suit RIAA engineered the webcast split former exec
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2005

Microsoft flying car spotted over Fishguard

Word of Microsoft's secret flying car project spreads - with a convincing sighting of the amphibious vehicle over parts of south of Wales and the Republic of Ireland. Reg reader Chris Lawrence was trying to get from Swansea to Birmingham in Autoroute 2002 when he found himself mysteriously borne aloft by a vehicle which took him on this strange journey: Click to enlarge He's not alone. Route optimization? We've heard of it Colin Linahan tried to use MapPoint to get from Haugesund to Moscow and found himself in East Ayrshire, Scotland. A forgiving man, he concluded "That would be the Moscow most people would choose". Reader Fitz Busher has an even more alarming story - as if there's anything more alarming than being stranded in Ayrshire without a return ticket. Planning to go from Peacehaven in East Sussex to Wales, he was directed to France before being shot back through the tunnel. Get me to nowhere - and get me there quickly! John Johnson points out some rules that Microsoft's mysterious nowhere-at-all-costs people transporter seems to follow. "MapPoint shows no roads in Norway, at all although neighboring Sweden has them (for all those Volvos presumably). Checking the MS website we find in the specification that while MapPoint Europe covers 27% of Norway at street level, this comprises 100% of Oslo, Akershus and Ostfold and 0% of the remaining provinces and does not offer routing outside those three cities. Finland has a similar situation. Presumably the online version uses much the same database." Any more sightings? Let us know. Meanwhile, Chris thinks he may be on to a winner. "The good thing is our company accept Autoroute journeys as proof of mileage." Until word of this gets out, we suspect. Come on. We can, and must do better. A prize as yet undetermined awaits the most spectacular journey to be undertaken by Microsoft's Flying Car. Mutilations and pictures of vapor trails and hoverbots will not do. We want hopeless optimizations - and we want them now. ® Related stories Briton invades France in amphibious car Flying car less likely than flying pig Flying car more economical than SUV Swiss set to unleash flying car Indian flying car shot down - Israeli rival soars India to levitate flying car So, where is my flying car? Where's my flying car?
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2005

Earthlink wins cash from spammers

Two members of the Alabama Spam Ring, really, have paid undisclosed damages to Earthlink and signed a court order promising to never send another spam email. Earthlink began legal action in February 2004 against the Alabama Spammers - so called because of their use of phone lines around Birmingham, Alabama. The Alabama Spam Ring, comprising 16 individuals and organisations, sent more than 250 million unsolicited emails. The lawsuit accused Damon DeCrescenzo and David Burstyn of using false names and addresses to try and hide their identities. They used dynamically-hosted websites to advertise Viagra, herbal supplements, matchmaking and spam services. The two were charged with breaking federal and state laws including RICO laws, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act. They were accused of using stolen and falsified credit cards, identity theft and banking fraud. At the time DeCrescenzo was one of the world's worst spammers - according to Spamhaus's list: the Register of Known Spam Operations. Larry Slovensky, assistant general counsel for Earthlink, said filing lawsuits and seeking court orders that put alleged spammers out of business is "an important way that EarthLink helps preserve the integrity of the internet for all users." Earthlink previously won judgments, and a $16.4m settlement, against Howard Carmack, the Buffalo Spammer. The Earthlink press release is here. ® Related stories FBI backs transatlantic anti-spam summit Tsunami spam scammer cuffed Texas sues student 'spammer' for $2m
John Oates, 26 Jan 2005
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Rambus sues four for GDDR 'infringement'

Litigiously inclined memory technology developer Rambus has filed four more lawsuits against memory chip makers it claims used its intellectual property without permission. Hynix and Infineon are already being sued by Rambus, but Nanya and Inotera represent new targets for the company's very busy legal team. In all four cases, Rambus maintains that the defendants' DDR 2, GDDR 2 and GDDR 3 chips contain technology over which Rambus claims ownership. It says 18 patents have been infringed, and has asked the court to block the sale of the allegedly infringing products and to force the four to pay up damages for their "wilful infringement". Last week, Hynix was deemed by the US District Court of Northern California to have infringed 50 claims enshrined in 15 Rambus patents. The ruling followed seven requests for summary judgement, six made by Hynix, one by Rambus. As a result of the ruling, the case goes to trial in March. For Infineon, the suit will only exacerbate the company's belief that Rambus is using the courts not to seek recompense for damage done, but as a competitive weapon to pressure chip makers into coughing up royalties. In December 2004, Infineon filed a motion with the US District Court of Virginia asking the presiding judge, Judge Robert Payne, to dismiss Rambus' lawsuit against it on the grounds that Rambus engaged in "litigation misconduct". ® Related stories Samsung ships 512Mb XDR chips Hynix infringed 50 Rambus patent claims - judge Rambus poo-poos Hynix Euro patent victory claim Rambus income slides despite revenue gains Rambus board plays musical chairs Infineon accuses Rambus of 'litigation misconduct'
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005
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Hynix execs arrested on bribery charges - report

South Korean law enforcement authorities have arrested two Hynix executives, charging them with bribery, local reports claim. Details remain sketchy, but one of the two executives is alleged to have bought KRW70m ($67,908) worth of shares from a Hynix sub-contractor for just KRW30m ($29,104), according to a Yonhap report. In return for the discount, the executive allegedly promised to help the sub-contractor win business with Hynix. The first accused is said to be a 51-year-old executive vice-president named Nam. The second man arrested was not named in the report. Details of the actions of which (s)he is accused were not provided. ® Related stories Rambus sues four for GDDR 'infringement' Hynix infringed 50 Rambus patent claims - judge Mosaid sues Hynix Rambus poo-poos Hynix Euro patent victory claim WTO backs Hynix over US DRAM duties Four Infineon execs heading to jail on price-fixing charges Toshiba takes Hynix to task in patent clash
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

Vodafone hits 150m customers

Vodafone gained 5.4m customers in the last quarter of 2004 ended 31 December. The mobile giant now has 151.8m customers across the world. It gained 3.9m Vodafone live! customers, giving a global total of 28.3m. In a trading updated today, Arun Sarin, Vodafone chief executive, trumpeted "another impressive quarter for customer and revenue growth. We have seen consistently strong performances across Europe and in the US, whilst we continue to focus on our turnaround in Japan." In the UK Vodafone has 15.2m customers, up nine per cent on last year. But average revenue per user (ARPU) fell to £314 from £318 in Q3. The firm blames the fall on call termination charges in September for the shortfall. But growth in subscriber numbers offset falling ARPU. Japan remains a problem - Vodafone pledged to "continue to focus on executing a successful turnaround programme in Japan throughout 2005 and into 2006." Vodafone has 14.8m customers in Japan, an increase of 36,000 in the quarter. Customer churn was stable but ARPU fell to £387.53 (Y75,133) from £395.0 (Y76,590) in September 2004. Vodafone blamed the competitive environment, increased market penetration and growth in prepaid customers for the fall. Press release here (pdf). ® Related stories Vodafone to offer in-flight Wi-Fi EU regulators probe mobile roaming charges Vodafone dividend doubled, shares up
John Oates, 26 Jan 2005
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VIA 2GHz C7 CPU to debut Q4

VIA's next-generation x86-compatible processor, 'Esther', which has been designed to take the chip family beyond 2GHz, will ship in Q4, online reports suggest. That's two quarters later than anticipated. The company announced Esther some time ago, most recently - September 2004 - saying the chip would ship as the C7, when both desktop and mobile versions of the part will go on sale. To date, VIA has said that the chips will operate using an 800MHz frontside bus clock. It will sport the fourth generation of VIA's PowerSaver energy conservation technology and provide RSA encryption (with Montgomery Multiplier support) and Secure Hashing (SHA-1 and SHA-256) acceleration to the hardwired security-oriented functionality the current C3 chips already provide. C7 will also support Intel's SSE 2 and 3 multimedia-oriented instruction sets and the 'no-execute bit' support. It will feature a larger L2 cache than the C3's 64KB. VIA has already said that the C7 will be fabbed by IBM using a 90nm silicon-on-insulator, low-k dielectric process and 300mm wafers. The C7 is expected to consume 3.5W at 1GHz, but be capable of being clocked to 2GHz and beyond. But in an email reportedly issued by VIA it's claimed that the chip will consume 25W at 2GHz, with 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8GHz versions consuming 12-22W. According to the email, the C7 won't hit 2GHz until Q4 2005. In the past, VIA has said the chip will ship sometime during H1 2005. So either it won't launch at 2GHz or the part's release has been put back. ® Related stories VIA pitches chipset at multi-display applications Intel lost 6.7% chipset market share in Q3 VIA's 90nm CPU to be branded C7 IBM to fab next-gen VIA CPU
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005
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TI Q4 earnings slide as sales fall

Texas Instruments saw earnings slide during the fourth quarter of FY2004 on a small sequential dip in sales, the company reported yesterday. And with the prospect of even lower sales in the current quarter, the chip maker said it would not increase its spending on new plant this year. TI's sales for the three months to 31 December 2004 totalled $3.15bn, down three per cent on the previous quarter but still up 14 per cent on Q4 FY2003. The latest figure was at the top end of the company's most recent forecast, of $2.96-3.2bn. Of that total, some $2.8bn came from TI's semiconductor business, the same as the Q3 FY2004's figure but up 14 per cent on the year-ago quarter. TI attributed the year-on-year increase to booming demand for its wireless and Digital Light Projection (DLP) products. Net income for the quarter came to $490m (28 cents a share), down 13 per cent from $563m (32 cents a share) in the previous quarter and 4.3 per cent $512m (29 cents a share) this time last year. Still, the company managed to beat the Street, which expected to see earnings of 26 cents a share on sales of $3.1bn, according to Thomson First Call's average. For the full year, TI racked up sales of $12.58bn, up 28 per cent on FY2003's total, thanks to a 31 per cent increase in semiconductor sales. Once again, the chip industry's inventory correction was blamed for a decline in sales of standard products. TI itself cut its own inventory by $100m during the quarter, putting pressure on margins, President and CEO Rich Templeton admitted, but leaving the company better place going into FY2005. He also said he believes the chip channel made "good progress" reducing its own inventory during H2 2004. Looking to Q1 FY2005, Templeton noted the tradition of weaker sales and a contemporary dip in order backlog. TI expects Q1 revenue to fall between $2.9bn and $3.14bn, yielding earnings of 22-26 cents a share. Semiconductor sales are forecast at $2.55-2.75bn. The company said it plans to spend $1.3bn on new plant in 2005, the same as it spent in 2004. ® Related stories Mobile open-standards group recruits key players TI narrows Q4 forecasts Intel to retain top chip maker title on 04... TI launches 'digital TV on a phone' scheme Intel 'ends' chip digital TV tech work
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005
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Nvidia chisels away at ATI market share

ATI's Q3 2004 lead over arch-rival Nvidia was eroded during Q4, the latest figures from market watcher Mercury Research suggest. During the quarter, Nvidia added three percentage points to its share of the overall graphics chip market, taking it to 18 per cent, while ATI stuck at 27 per cent, its share in Q3, as did all the lesser players combined. Intel continued to dominate the arena with almost 40 per cent of the market. The desktop chip sector's discrete segment saw Nvidia nudge back towards its Q2 share of 58 per cent from Q3's low 42 per cent share. During Q4 it accounted for 46 per cent of the market. ATI's still in the lead, but its share slipped from 55 per cent in Q3 to 51 per cent in Q4. Nvidia took 25 per cent of the standalone notebook chip market in Q4, up from Q2's 22 per cent, while ATI's share slid slightly to 69 per cent from 72 per cent. Combined discrete graphics chip sales were up 13 per cent on Q3. In the integrated mobile market, in which Nvidia is not a player, ATI's share fell seven percentage points to 19 per cent, as Intel grabbed 11 more percentage points to come out of Q4 with 72 per cent of the market. That's likely to increase further now that its Graphics Accelerator 900-enabled 915GM, 915GML and 915GMS chipsets, part of its second-generation Centrino platform. ® Related stories ATI launches Mobility Radeon X700 PCI Express push ATI sales up Nvidia apes ATI to revive mid-1990s AGP feature Nvidia to unveil 'nForce for Intel' Q1 05 Q3 integrated graphics chip shipments soar ATI rolls out X300, X800 mobile GPUs ATI to spend $10m on Korean R&D plant Nvidia signs Intel bus licence deal Nvidia ships mobile GeForce 6800 Nvidia beats Street with Q3 sales hike ATI tapes out 90nm R5xx chip ATI trounces Nvidia in desktop, mobile, integrated markets
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005
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Intel to bring 64-bit to P4, Celerons in Q2

RoadmapRoadmap Intel plans to upgrade its current LGA-775 Pentium 4 line-up with its AMD64-like EM64T 64-bit addressing technology next quarter, the company's latest roadmap update reveals. Intel also plans to add the technology to its top-end Celeron processors. According to a report on the usually accurate Japanese site PCWatch, Q2 2005 will see the debut of P4s carrying the model numbers 521, 531, 541, 551, 561 and 571, clocked liked today's P4 line-up at 2.8, 3.0, 3.2, 3.4, 3.6 and 3.8GHz, respectively. The single point added to the model number represents the effect of enabling EM64T. The new chips will supersede today's P4s, ensuring that all P4s support the technology come Q2. Today's mainstream P4s are equipped with EM64T, but it's disabled. The 64-bit system only ships today on a series of P4s aimed at single-processor workstation and server roles. The arrival of EM64T into the desktop space will take occur later this quarter with the debut of the P4 6xx series, which not only add the 64-bit addressing capability but also a 2MB on-die L2 cache, double today's P4 cache size and likewise double the cache of the upcoming 5x1 P4s. Curiously, some appear to have a very short lifespan, with the 2.8GHz version not surviving the quarter even, and the 571 and 561 being culled at the end of Q3. Their demise is presumably predicated on the successful roll-out of 'Smithfield', the 90nm dual-core P4 8xx series, now scheduled to ship late Q2, but with volume shipments probably not arriving until Q3. Both the new 5x1 P4 line-up and the 6xx P4s appear to be scheduled for replacement in the Q2 2006 timeframe, when they'll be pushed aside by 'Cedarmill', Intel's 65nm single-core desktop CPU. It will ship in the same quarter as 'Presler', the 65nm successor to Smithfield. Also marked for termination is the P4 Extreme Edition, which gets no upgrade beyond this quarter's 3.73GHz version, and doesn't appear to extend beyond Q4 2005. Back to Q2 2005, and we'll see the debut of desktop Celerons with model number 326, 331, 336, 341, 346 and 351, clocked at 2.53, 2.66, 2.8, 2.93, 3.06 and 3.2GHz, respectively. Like the new P4s, they too will sport EM64T support. All this activity on the EM64T front strongly suggests that Microsoft will finally release the completed 64-bit version of Windows XP in the H1 2005 timeframe. Intel always said it would not push EM64T out into the mainstream until key operating systems supported 64-bit addressing. Linux has for some time, of course, but to make 64-bit computing mainstream, you need Windows behind you. Like the P4 line, the EM64T-equipped Celerons will replace the existing LGA-775 Celerons, though older, 478-pin versions will continue to be made available. Q3 will see a further addition to the family: the 3.33GHz Celeron 355. ® Related stories AMD's 2006 roadmap - details emerge Intel 'Smithfield' dual-core to debut as 8xx series Intel 64-bit Pentium 4s make retail debut Intel's 65nm desktop CPU to ship Q1 2006 Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule Intel 'Smithfield' to run 130W hot Intel revamps Centrino Intel 2.13GHz Pentium M 770 arrives
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

Gloves off in Ebbers WorldCom fraud trial

The fraud trial of ex-WorldCom chief exec Bernie Ebbers kicked off yesterday with the man at the centre of the case accused of telling "lie after lie after lie". The opening of the most eagerly awaited fraud trial in years saw Ebbers portrayed as the driving force behind the $11bn (£5.8bn) collapse of telco WorldCom in 2002. Aware that WorldCom would not meet the ambitious forecasts Wall Street was expecting, Ebbers told his people as early as 2000 to fiddle the figures, said prosecutors. David Anders, the US attorney leading the prosecution's case, said that Ebbers knew the "books were cooked", because "he told people to do it", reports The New York Times. And the fact that Ebbers himself owned millions of WorldCom shares - which were used as security against personal loans - meant his motive was driven by financial preservation. In his opening address, defence lawyer Reid Weingarten told the Manhattan court that Ebbers just wasn't capable of masterminding such a complex financial fraud. Ebbers was portrayed as a victim in this corporate collapse, an entrepreneur from a modest background who left accounting issues to his CFO Scott Sullivan. Sullivan, who last year he admitted "engaging in a fraudulent scheme to conceal WorldCom's poor financial performance", is the Government's star witness against Ebbers. Weingarten tore into Sullivan, accusing him of masterminding the fraud and calling him "not only a liar, [but] a poseur". Rounding on the credibility of Sullivan and of the Government's case, the defence added: "There are zillions of documents in this case and there ain't one smoking gun." The trial is expected to last eight weeks. If found guilty, Ebbers faces 25 years in jail. ® Related stories Ebbers fraud trial kicks off Ebbers faces WorldCom court showdown Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m MCI breaks free from Chapter 11 WorldCom gets sums wrong by $74bn Bernie Ebbers faces criminal charges
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2005

Lawyers demand hard time for Blaster teen

Federal prosecutors are calling for the author of a variant of the infamous Blaster worm to be jailed for 37 months - ahead of a sentencing hearing due later this week. Jeffrey Lee Parson pleaded guilty last August to releasing a modified version of the Blaster worm. Under a plea agreement signed last year, Parson will be imprisoned in a federal jail for between for between 18 and 37 months. Parson risked a possible sentence of up to ten years for "intentionally causing damage to a protected computer" if the case had gone to trial and he had been convicted. The Seattle Times reports that Parson's lawyers are trying to make sure their client avoids spending his entire sentence in federal prison. They propose six months of "hard time" followed by six months at a community treatment centre and six months of detention followed by three years' probation instead. Prosecutors oppose any such move, arguing that it invalidates the plea bargaining agreement. Blast off Parson created the Blaster-B variant of the worm after modifying the original Blaster worm and launching it onto the internet in early August 2003. Blaster-B launched a distributed denial-of-service attack against a Microsoft's Windows update website from infected computers. Blaster and its variants are internet worms which spread through exploiting a well-known vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. Blaster-B is functionally equivalent to its predecessor but creates a file called teekids.exe - rather than msblast.exe - in the Windows system folder. Parson's online handle is "teekid" or "t33kid". This and various other clues led the authorities to his door and he was arrested on 29 August 2003. The original Blaster worm infected about one million computers in the summer of 2004. Parson's variant hit far fewer computers - infecting approximately 48,000 PCs and causing $1.2m in damage, according to court filings. The US Attorney's Office wants Parson to pay $622,500 in compensation to Microsoft, the Seattle Times reports. Lawyers are arguing the toss ahead of a (delayed) sentencing hearing before US District Judge Marsha Pechman scheduled for Friday, 28 January. ® Related stories FBI arrests Blaster suspect Feds sexed up case Blaster suspect Blaster teen pleads guilty MS puts $250k bounty on virus authors' heads Russian fined for virus-writing exploits
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2005

MS updates: real Windows users only need apply

Microsoft is to stop providing updates to non-genuine versions of its Windows XP operating system as part of its anti-piracy campaign. The company also says it is changing the way some of its Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) are matched during activation. This is because "a significant number" of COAs are stolen from resellers and resold as new. From the middle of 2005, the company will require users to participate in its "Windows Genuine Advantage" authentication program, if they want to receive software updates from the Microsoft Download Centre or from Windows Update. However, it will still provide security patches for pirated systems, which will be available via Automatic Updates in Windows. The scheme has been running as a pilot since September 2004 for English language version of XP. These trials will now be extended to include 20 more languages, and Microsoft says more content from the download centre will be made available to participants. In addition, a variation of the scheme in China, Norway and the Czech Republic will offer discounts on genuine copies of XP to participants who discover that they are unwittingly running pirated software. Microsoft says pirated software hurts resellers, as well as taking a hefty chunk out of its own bottom line. It argues that counterfeit versions of Windows can be sold at artificially low prices, pushing legitimate system builders out of the market. ® Related stories Maximum sentence for SA software pirate US software pirate jailed for 18 months Police grab 60,000 AMD CPUs
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2005

Telewest spanked for broadband ad

UK consumers continue to be misled by broadband ISPs who compare their own services to rivals. With some 60,000 people a week signing up to speedy net services, the advertising watchdog continues to intervene in squabbles between rival providers over whose service is faster or cheaper. The latest pronouncement by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld two complaints against cableco Telewest, which buried the details of its comparison with BT Broadband in the small print. The ASA also took issue with Telewest's use of the term "faster broadband". Still, Telewest was cleared on its "free modem" offer although, somewhat curiously, the ASA did not agree that Telewest's comparison of its 256kbps service with BT Broadband's 512kbps service was misleading. The issue of misleading punters is something that has concerned the Consumers' Association (CA). It told a group of MPs in November 2003 that UK consumers needed a clear definition of broadband to prevent them from being misled. The consumer watchdog was concerned that there was "widespread confusion about the term 'broadband'" and argued that different definitions (especially over service speeds) only served to confuse consumers who found it difficult to compare different products and providers. In their report MPs agreed that there is "disagreement about what actually constitutes broadband". ® Related stories Tiscali disses Pipex broadband claims Wanadoo comes a cropper for 'full speed' broadband ad MP's broadband report the choice cuts Define broadband please CA
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2005

US to tighten nuclear cyber security

Federal regulators are proposing to add computer security standards to their criteria for installing new computerized safety systems in nuclear power plants. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) quietly launched a public comment period late last month on a proposed 15-page update to its regulatory guide "Criteria for Use of Computers in Safety Systems of Nuclear Power Plants." The current version, written in 1996, is three pages long and makes no mention of security. The replacement would expand existing safety and reliability requirements for digital safety system, and infuse security requirements into every stage of a system's lifecycle, from drawing board to retirement. Last year the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned of growing international concern about the potential for cyber attacks against nuclear facilities, and said it was finalizing new security guidelines of its own. No successful targeted attacks against plants have been publicly reported, but in 2001 the Slammer worm penetrated a private computer network at Ohio's idled Davis-Besse nuclear plant and disabled a safety monitoring system for nearly five hours. The worm entered the plant network through an interconnected contractor's network, bypassing Davis-Besse's firewall. The NRC draft advises against such interconnections. It also advises plant operators to consider the effect of each new system on the plant's cyber security, and to develop response plans to deal with computer incidents. Vendors are told how to reduce the risk of saboteurs planting backdoors and logic bombs in safety system software during the development phase. "I really liked the notion of making people aware that they need to address security throughout the process of developing new software and systems, and not just as a test at the end," says Chris Wysopal, a Boston-based computer security researcher with the Symantec Corporation. "They talked about that going all the way back to the requirement phase, which I thought was good." But for all its breadth, adherence to the new guidelines would be strictly voluntary for operators of the 103 nuclear reactors already running in the US - a detail that irks some security experts. In filed comments, Joe Weiss, a control systems cyber security consultant at KEMA, Inc., argued the regulatory guide shouldn't be limited to plant safety systems, and that existing plants should be required to comply. "There have been numerous cases of control system cyber security impacts including several in commercial nuclear plants," Weiss wrote. "Many nuclear plants have connected their plant networks to corporate networks making them potentially vulnerable to cyber intrusions." Wysopal, who reviewed the draft at SecurityFocus' request, agrees that it could use more juice. "It's kind of sad," he says. "I see that people have all these great notions of how we can build software and systems more securely, but it's always voluntary." The NRC is accepting public comments on the new guide until 11 February. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Nuke watchdog issues cybergeddon alert Five lose jobs over nuke lab security debacle US nuclear lab suspends secret work Homer Simpson let loose on US nuclear weapons facility
Kevin Poulsen, 26 Jan 2005
For Sale sign detail

ARM income, revenues rise

ARM's growth trend continued unabated during the last three months of 2004, with revenues and income up sequentially and year on year. Q4 revenues totalled £41.5m, up five per cent on the previous quarter's £39.4m and 22 per cent higher than the year-ago quarter's total, £34m. ARM's key licensing and royalty streams grew to £16.2m and £16.3m from £14.6m and £16m, respectively, in the previous quarter. The company heralded the signing of 19 new chip IP licences in Q4, a number of them with four new licensees. Royalty-bearing unit shipments reached a record 367m parts, up 7.6 per cent from Q3's 341m units. Before tax, ARM made £5.3m, more than double the £2.5m it earned in Q4 FY2003. Excluding one-off charges and other special items, the company earned £13.5m, up from £8.9m in the year-ago quarter, but down on last quarter's £13.7m. Gross margins for the quarter reached 28 per cent, down from 30 per cent in the Q3 but up on Q4 FY2003's 22.4 per cent. ARM quit the quarter with £128.8m in the bank, taking into account costs relating to the acquisition of Artisan and that company's own addition to the overall cash pile. Looking forward, CEO Warren East forecast a 20 per cent increase in the business' dollar revenues despite "a likely flatter trading environment". With over 90 per cent of ARM's sales made in dollars, the company quotes results in both sterling and us dollar equivalents. The latter figures can be found here. ® Related stories ARM rise bucks Q3 trend Once fabless, almost chipless - is Transmeta's future hopeless? Mobile open-standards group recruits key players AMD profits disappear in a Flash Intel's record Q4 run ends with profit drop Global chip sales edged up in November 04 PalmSource to build Palm OS on Linux Nintendo lauds 500,000 first-week DS sales PowerVR MBX gains OpenGL ES Linux support
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

EA sales, profits slide

Electronic Arts saw revenues and income fall during the Christmas quarter, as growing demand in Europe and Asia failed to compensate for a big dip in US sales. The three months to 31 December, the third quarter if EA's fiscal year, yielded sales totalling $1.43bn, down 3.2 per cent on Q3 FY2003's $1.48bn. Sales were up nine per cent in Asia, to $70m, and the company achieved a single percentage point gain in European sales, to $666m, but neither could cover the eight per cent drop in US revenue, which fell to $692m. Still, many analysts had expected US sales to fall even further, given a strong showing from the company's rivals, most notably Microsoft's Halo 2 and Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. EA also released only 11 titles during the quarter, compared to 13 in Q3 FY2003. This time round, its best-selling titles included Need for Speed Underground 2, FIFA 2005, The Lord of the Rings and Sims in the City EA's income fell 4.4 per cent year on year to $375m (118 cents a share), at the top of the range the company had previously forecast and in line with Wall Street expectations. The company is now looking forward to better results in 2005, thanks to the arrival of the Nintendo DS and Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) and "the possibility of next-generation consoles". The latter is undoubtedly a reference to Microsoft's second-generation Xbox. According to a leaked EA press release last week, this will launch later this year. ® Related stories 'EA leak' yields late 2005 Xbox 2 ship date Game firms back Blu-ray Sims 2 hacks spread like viruses EA to buy 20% of Ubisoft - report Graphics patent holder sues Sony, MS, Nintendo Gizmondo grabs troubled UK games maker Game makers hit with graphics patent violation suit EA swallows Criterion Software
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005
SGI logo hardware close-up

Lite-on ships 'fastest' DVD rewriter

Lite-on today announced what it claims is the fastest DVD rewriter yet. The SOHW-1673S internal drive provides 8x DVD+RW and 6x DVD-RW rewriting speeds, the company said. The drive also handles DVD-R and DVD+R at 16x, and dual-layer DVD+R at 4x. The unit connects over an Atapi/E-IDE interface, and incorporates a 2MB data buffer. It also features "floating double suspension systems" to reduce drive noise and vibration. The drive uses Lite-on's SmartBurn buffer underrun error prevention code and its Smart-X speed optimisation software. Lite-on will also bundle an array of DVD authoring and disc burning software, including PowerDVD, Nero Express 6 and Nero Vision Express. The SOHW-1673S is available now for £65. From May Lite-on will bundle in the extra bezel set. The set will include black as well as standard white frontpieces. Lite-on also said it will follow up today's launch with an external, USB 2.0 version of the drive, the SOHW-1673SX. ® Related stories Chinese manufacturers sue DVD patent pool CE giants open DRM to the community London menaced by flaming DVD players Studios announce HD DVD movie release lists Game firms back Blu-ray Blu-ray Disc maker to 'abolish cartridges' JVC preps dual DVD/Blu-ray disc
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

BT customer signed up for five years - without his consent

BT has apologised to a small business punter after signing him up to a five-year telecoms contract without his consent. Scott Allison - the boss of Glasgow-based Freedom Mobiles Ltd - was contacted by BT approved reseller Glasgow Telecom before Christmas. Glasgow Telecom is one of BT's army of 82 BT Local Businesses across the UK that earn commission flogging BT services. Although Allison said he was happy with his current telecoms services he discovered later that Glasgow Telecom had switched his one-year ISDN2 contract to an extended deal that locked him in for five years. "I might have expected some fly-by-night company to submit erroneous orders...but I certainly would not expect a business which BT have personally approved and permitted to trade as BT to submit orders for long term line rental contracts without any instructions from the customer," said Allison. When he challenged the order, he was told his "daughter" had authorised it - even though he has no children. In his pursuit for further clarification he discovered that Glasgow Telecom had no record of who actually confirmed the order. Although BT insists this is an "isolated occurrence" the UK's dominant fixed line telco has sought changes in the way its BT Local Business in Glasgow handles the signing up of long term orders. A spokesman said: "BT would like to apologise to Scott Allison for the confusion regarding his contract with the BT Local Business in Glasgow. An order was placed to switch his ISDN2 contract to a discounted five-year contract, which Mr Allison did not want. BT has introduced a new process for the Glasgow Local Business asking that all long term contracts are accompanied by a signed order." BT has since cancelled Allison's long term order and returned him to his original contract. ® Related stories Broadband minnow takes on BT over unacceptable behaviour Watch out for bogus health and safety invoices Businesses failing to recognise cybercrime dangers BT backs down in substantial discount row
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2005

Energis all smiles amid whispers of sliding revenues

Alternative telco Energis has secured major contracts worth more than £500m, the company bragged today. A string of deals with the Financial Times, DHL and the RAC among others over the last six months has helped the telco rack up double-digit growth in its core corporate market. Said Energis CEO John Pluthero: "We're seeing growth right across our core markets of data, contact centres and hosting - as well as voice. And we're breaking into new sectors like retail financial services, government and the automotive industry. We're delighted with the progress we are making," His upbeat assessment coincides with a hammering received by Energis in the weekend press. Quoting unnamed industry sources, the Independent on Sunday reported that revenues at Energis are on the slide with the 16 banks that own the company becoming increasingly nervous and looking to ditch their holdings. ® Related stories Energis appoints new CFO LLU is 'uneconomic', says Energis Energis puts frighteners on UK biz
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2005

China bans The Sims

China has banned 50 computer games - to create "a good environment" for Chinese children. Games given the thumbs-down include The Sims 2, Manhunt, FIFA 2005, Painkiller: Battle out of Hell, Age of Mythology: The Titans, Battlefield Vietnam, Conflict Vietnam, Vietcong: Fist Alpha and Devastation, local news agency Xinhuanet reported today. The clampdown centres on pirate copies of the games listed, a sign of the country's greater willingness to protect intellectual property, Beijing said. However, motivation for the ban also comes from China's anti-pornography operation and press-monitoring programme, so it's unlikely that legitimate copies of the games will be permitted, either. The country is keen to stamp out any content that might have a "negative influence" on Chinese youth, as Xinhuanet puts it. Beijing has called upon local administrators to monitor software sellers and come down hard on anyone distributing any of the listed titles. ® Related stories Topless teen wins trivia game ban New Zealand censor pulls Postal 2 Greece to face Euro court over video games ban Australia bans Manhunt Chinese government censors online games Haitians seek Vice City ban
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

Sony PSP outships Nintendo DS

Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) is beginning to outsell the Nintendo DS, Japanese weekly sales charts reveal. According to the latest sales figures, for the week commencing 16 January, some 64,600 PSPs were shipped to retailers in Japan, over 10,000 more than the 53,500 DS consoles shipped in the same period. Of course, Sony has a long way to go to overtake Nintendo's total sales of the DS. The DS launched some weeks ahead of the PSP, and with a much greater number of machines in the channel ready to sell. And don't forget that the figures cover shipments to retailers, not sales to end users. Shipping product is (relatively) easy; selling them less so. Last week, Sony Computer Entertainment chief Ken Kutaragi said the company had shipped 800,000-odd PSPs since the handheld console's 12 December 2004 debut. Today, Nintendo said it had shipped 2.84m DS units since its late November launch, though that figure covers both the US and Japan. To date, the PSP has only been officially available in Sony's home territory. Nintendo now expects to ship 6m units of the console by 31 March, well above its earlier forecast of 5m units, the company said today. ® Related stories Electronic Arts' sales, profits slide Gizmondo store shuffles to London's Regent Street Sony PSP ship total hits 800,000 Sony admits PSP 'update' is genuine Sony PSP 'update' adds office apps, browser, email Sony PSP to ship in UK on 18 March - Amazon Nintendo sets DS date down under Nintendo ships 2m DS consoles worldwide
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

Fans rage as U2 ticket sales site falls over

Thousands of U2 fans are up in arms after the website handling the advanced ticket sale of the band's 2005 Vertigo tour fell over U2 fans - who had forked out $40 (£21) for the privilege of joining U2.com enabling them to snap up tickets to gigs before they went on general sale - had received a six-digit code which they could use to buy tickets. But organisers misjudged the demand for tickets and the site flogging the tickets ground to a halt rendering the codes - which can only be used once - useless. Sources say that as many as 15,000 fans were hit by the glitch, but Ticketmaster, the outfit handling the ticket sales, declined to comment on numbers. Apologising to punters, it explained: "Ticketmaster experienced an incredibly high level of demand. This resulted in the website, ticketmaster.co.uk, offering a slower than normal service. "Unfortunately some customers were timed out of the website and found that when they attempted to continue with their transaction, the six-digit code was no longer valid." The company has emailed all those U2 fan club members who received a code explaining that "there is still ticket availability at all UK venues". "We are confident that all those affected by the problem today will still be able to purchase tickets," it said. The band begins its eagerly awaited Vertigo 2005 world tour in San Diego on March 28. ® Related stories Glastonbury online ticket sales fiasco Glastonbury blames BT for ticket sale fiasco Internet fraud is easy, says judge...
Tim Richardson, 26 Jan 2005

Are Microsoft's licences unfair to open-sourcerers?

Lawyers acting for the Free Software Foundation have accused the software giant of making it impossible for open source software developers to take part in its protocol licencing scheme. Microsoft was ordered to begin licencing its protocols by the European Union in its anti-trust ruling. This requires the company to make the code available under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms. Carlo Piana, a partner at Milan law firm Tamos Piana & Partners, which represents FSF Europe, told eWeek:"Microsoft has proposed a licencing agreement blatantly tailored to exclude free software from accessing it." The terms of the Microsoft licence require that the holder does not distribute the source code of their implementation of the protocol, except to other licence holders. Developers are allowed to show the source code to non-licence holders, but only in their offices, and only if the other party is willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The licence overview says: In addition to not disclosing your source code directly, you also need to make sure not to subject your implementation to any other licenses that would require such source code disclosure. For example, under certain circumstances, other licenses may require your implementation to be disclosed in source code form when you distribute your implementation with other technology that is already subject to that other license. In short, you can't subject your authorized implementations to any license that requires you do things that are contrary to the scope of your licence and your obligations under the license agreement. Basically, the FSFE says, this boils down to: if you sign this licence, you can't make your work available under GNU GPL. Dirk Delmartino, Microsoft's anti-trust spokesman in Brussels, said: "We offer the same terms to everyone, including developers of free software, or what ever you would prefer to call it. We don't prevent anyone from taking a licence. It would be discriminatory if we offered different licence terms to different groups." We asked if Microsoft could see the inherent conflict between the terms of the GNU GPL and its own licence. Delmartino said: "I am not an expert in GPL licences. What we can do is make licences available to all. Our terms are as they are." ® Related stories MS updates: real Windows users only need apply Dutch govt ends exclusive MS upgrade talks FBI backs transatlantic anti-spam summit
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2005

Nintendo's Q3 income falls 43%

Nintendo's earnings slumped during the Christmas quarter, the videogame pioneer revealed today, despite a small year-on-year increase in sales. For the three months to 31 December - Nintendo's third quarter of FY2005 - the company's sales reached ¥231.4bn ($2.22bn), up 1.4 per cent on the year-ago quarter's figure, ¥228.2bn ($2.19bn). However, net income fell over 43 per cent from the ¥37.4bn ($359.3m) reported this time last year to ¥21.3bn ($204.6m), a figure calculated by subtracting the company's published first-half earnings from the nine-month total it reported today. Nintendo blamed the decline on slow sales of its Nintendo DS titles, falling demand for the ageing GameCube and the strength of the yen over the US dollar. DS software may be proving hard to shift but the handheld console itself has proved something of a success. Nintendo said it had shipped 2.84m of the machines to the US and Japan since its late November launch. It also upped its forecast for the number of units it will have shipped by 31 March, the end of its current fiscal year, from 5m to 6m. However, it now expects to ship 10m copies of DS games by the same date - well down on the 15m it forecast in November 2004. To date it has shipped 5.01m copies, Nintendo said. In the first nine months of FY2005, it shipped 72.6m GameBoy Advance SP titles, up from 61.5m this time last year. GBA unit shipments were up too: from 13.2m last year to 13.6m. However, GameCube shipments slumped. Some 3.5m consoles shipped in the nine months to 31 December 2004, down 20 per cent on the same period last year. Analysts attribute the decline to a lack of popular games. Nintendo said it now expects to sell 4m GameCubes in the year to 31 March, down from its previous forecast of 4.5m units. It also cut is full-year income forecast to ¥70bn ($672.5m) from ¥90bn ($864.6m), a reduction of just over 22 per cent, and its sales forecast from ¥540bn ($5.19bn) down 3.7 per cent to ¥520bn ($5bn). ® Related stories Sony PSP outships Nintendo DS Electronic Arts' sales, profits slide Sony PSP ship total hits 800,000 'EA leak' yields late 2005 Xbox 2 ship date Nintendo sets DS date down under Nintendo ships 2m DS consoles worldwide Nintendo preps DS media module Nintendo lauds 500,000 first-week DS sales Nintendo to spill Euro DS plans in January
Tony Smith, 26 Jan 2005

Dell joins domain name hall of shame (again)

CommentComment Dell has joined the domain name hall of shame, alongside such notables as Microsoft, the Easy Group and BAA, for its flagrantly unjustified hounding of website www.dellwebsites.com. According to Dell's laywers - old hands at this sort of thing - the owner of Dellwebsites is committing "an act of parasitism" and "creating a risk of confusion" between himself and the online PC vendor Dell. It wants the domain signed over to it, at the owner's cost. The theory runs that as soon as someone sees or hears of www.dellwebsites.com, they immediately think "oh that lovely company that sells cheap but well-built PCs has got into web design". They are then overwhelmed with revulsion when they find out it's nothing to do with Dell the PC maker. Yes, incredible as it may seem, the name "Dell" did exist before 1984. You may think this was obvious since the company is named after founder Michael Dell. If nothing else, his parents would have used the name before him. Does Michael not realise that other families may also the same surname? He probably does, but tough-arse businessman that he is, he's not afraid to screw over his own kin. In this case that is one Paul Dell. Paul lives in Spain and, incredibly, makes websites for a living. Paul thought the Internet domain Dellwebsites.com was therefore a pretty good description of what he was up to online (apparently, Dell.com had already gone). But while Mr Dell (Paul, that is) was pleased with his purchase back in April 2001, it now appears that he was trying to rip off Mr Dell (Michael) and his enormous US company. Quite what the enormous impact Paul's website has had on the PC giant is hard to gauge. For the first half of this year, Dell's revenue actually went up 20 per cent to $23 billion. No mention of Paul Dell's web design business has appeared in its financial results as having a negative impact on these sales. Nonetheless, it's not just about the money, it's about the principle, isn't it? Which perhaps makes it hard to understand why it was that Dell backed down the last time it tried to take Dellwebsites.com off Paul Dell. Yes, Paul Dell has been through this charade once before, in April 2002. Dell was still adamant that it rightly owned the domain, but when Paul Dell make it clear that he wasn't prepared to cave in to pressure, the company walked away. Why didn't it take him to a domain arbitrator or a law court, you ask? Most likely because it didn't stand a chance in hell of winning the case. And so jump forward two-and-a-half years and we're here again. What has changed? Not much it seems: "You continue to use the denomination DELL WEB SITES as trade mark, company name, trade name or shop sign to designate your activities," roars Dell's lawyers - Lovells. Er, yes. "Alike you continue to use the denomination DELL WEB SITES as domain name and within the copyright notices to which the Site links." Well, that's because that's where I run my business, haven't we been here before? "Finally, you modified the copyright notice to 'Copyright 2004, Paul Dell, Dell Web Sites' in order to include your first name." That's it! They've got Paul Dell bang to right because - get this - he included his first name as a copyright notice on his own website. This would be funny were it not so worrying for the individuals and small businesses that find themselves at the end of such unwarranted demands by powerful legal firms and international businesses. It shows how much there is still to be done on pulling the Internet into the world's legal systems when big companies continue to issue threatening letters with impunity. Who can a legitimate domain owner turn to when they are hounded by a huge corporation? What mechanism exists to punish those companies guilty of trying to steal online property through misrepresentation? As far as we can see, nothing. Except of course public exposure and embarrassment. Mike Rowe got expenses, a visit to the Microsoft campus, an X-box and other assorted goodies when the fact that Microsoft was threatening him over the domain www.MikeRoweSoft.com started appearing in the press. It made a good story, he was a kid and the phonetics were so good that it was irrestible. But it didn't stop Microsoft for one second. It continued to pursue, and eventually beat Mike Rushton and his "Mikerosoft.net" domain. It had no rights to that either. It was only when Microsoft went for "mocosoft.com" that a WIPO arbitrator finally revealed where the limits lay in the great domain name grab. On this side of the Atlantic, Stelios Haji-Iannou of Easy Group has embarked on a similar crusade, claiming, incredibly, that any domain that begins with the word "easy" (or even, "easi") is his by right. It is simply ludicrous, but when faced with a huge company and aggressive lawyers, who can blame an individual for handing over their domain rather than deal with the pressure? Again, Easy Group knows that it has no rights as recognised by either the law courts of the domain arbitrators but that doesn't stop it from claiming it does in threatening legal letters. And if a company really does want that domain, it is prepared to go further than that. In the case of Gatwick.com, BAA appeared to repeat the iron-fist tactics it had earlier applied to win Baa.com, sparking a number of accusations from the lawyer hired by Gatwick.com's owner that the company had knowingly and purposefully lied and misrepresented itself to the domain arbitrator. Dellwebsites.com is just the latest in a long line of unfair disputes and the situation will continue so long as big companies hold sway over the Internet and no one institutes a system of penalties for abusive behaviour. The domain arbitrators aren't going to introduce it because big companies are their bread and butter. The registry owners - VeriSign and the like - virtually define themselves by their refusal to accept any liability for the product that they grow rich on the back of. Perhaps it's time for Internet overseeing organisation ICANN to show some mettle and start making the internet a medium for the planet and not just lawyers and multi-nationals. ® Related stories Microsoft halted in phonetic domain crusade Mike Rowe goes soft, hands over PR victory Stelios High Court favourite vows to battle on Gatwick.com owner wins WIPO battle BAA.com domain battle settled out of court
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2005

Mattel Juice Box kids' portable media player

ReviewReview No matter what people say, gadgets are expensive, especially the latest ones. It's no surprise then that a face of horror would come over your face if you saw a small child toying with your newly acquired, £400 portable media centre. These things are supposed to be robust, but who are we kidding, we know kids mangle their own toys, let alone ours, writes Stuart Miles. Whether it's because it has seen a gap in the market, or just sees kids as an easy target, Mattel has launched the Juice Box, a portable media centre aimed specifically at children. The JB sports a 2.75in screen, offers video and MP3 playback and costs around £80, meaning that you won't be so terrified when you see a little one with their mitts all over it. The video playback quality is poor, but then the kids and parents we showed the unit to didn't seem to mind much. The sprogs were kept quiet, and as one parent put it: "Cartoons don't need to be hi-res to work." It's a good point and one that has obviously allowed Mattel to keep the price down. Aside from the player, which sports the usual pause, play, fast-forward, and rewind controls, you get a cartridge with which to load up more content. The cartridges are small and will probably get lost very quickly. The player runs off three AAA batteries, enough for six hours' constant use, Mattel claims. It even offers an in-car adaptor to help keep the tykes happy on six-hour or longer journeys. There's an MP3 starter kit in the box too, comprising software, a spare cartridge, a 32MB SD card and an SD Card reader. This bundle is a stroke of genius in our minds, and means that you can decide what content you want your kids to use. The software is straightforward and the fact that its SD makes it all easier to use. Of course, some might say it's just more bits waiting to be lost, but it certainly beats the Video Now system where you're tied into purchasing content on proprietary discs. Verdict This isn't a player you'll want to borrow for yourself, but then it isn't supposed to be. What we like most is the fact that this device doesn't insist you sign up to any particular format that only Mattel sells, at an inflated price. Think kids' videos, think audio books, think you having full control over what goes on the device. For all that, this device scores highly in our books. Mattel Juice Box   Rating 80%   Pros — Easy to use; durable; the bundled MP3 expander pac.   Cons — The screen is not great quality; getting cartridges in and out is a pain.   Price £80   More info The Mattel site Recent Reviews
Pocket Lint, 26 Jan 2005

SAP Q4 profits up 29%

SAP net profit for Q4 2004 was up 29 per cent to €542m (Q4 03: €420m), a little lower than consensus analyst forecasts of €548m. Revenues were € 2.4bn (Q4 03:€2.2bn). New software sales advanced eight per cent in the quarter to €1bn, with a 26 per cent jump in the Americas, compensating for flat sales in Europe. For the full year, SAP had revenues of €7.5bn, up seven per cent and net income of €1.3bn, up 22 per cent on 2003. The company forecasts 10-12 per cent growth in software licence revenues for 2005 and aims to hire 3,000 more people this year. Press statement here. ® Related stories HP's PC biz braced for SAP hell SAP ups profits
Team Register, 26 Jan 2005

Postcard arrives from Europe's lunar probe

The first pictures from the SMART-1 lunar probe, the first European spacecraft to have reached lunar orbit, have arrived on Earth. The images were snapped from altitudes of between 5000km and 1000km above the lunar surface during a test of the craft's instruments. This picture shows two large craters. The largest is called Brianchon, and the second largest, at the bottom of the image, is called Pascal. Researchers use the shadow lengths to calculate the depth of the craters, and the height of the crater rims. "This image was the first proof that the AMIE camera is still working well in lunar orbit," says AMIE principal investigator Jean-Luc Josset of Space-X. The craft arrived at its destination in mid-November 2004, 13 months after it launched from Earth; it did not travel by the most straightforward of routes. Although the moon is only 380,000km away [Only? - Ed] in a straight line, SMART-1 orbited the Earth more than 300 times, and travelled a total distance of 84mkm. This could have got it to Mars and back, quite comfortably, if it had travelled in a straight line. When it first arrived it was at risk of missing a stable orbit and either crashing into the surface, or skipping past the moon altogether. Mission scientists used the ion-engine to control its descent, and it has now spent the last two months gradually spiraling towards the surface. Now that its orbit is stabilised, SMART-1 will scan the lunar surface for resources, particularly water, for future, manned, missions to the moon. The European Space Agency says it will continue its medium resolution survey until 9 February. Astronomers hope the data it sends will reveal more about how the moon first formed. ® Related stories SMART-1 makes lunar orbit ESA's lunar probe closes on target China plans five-day space mission
Lucy Sherriff, 26 Jan 2005

Fathers 4 Justice slams ‘support’ virus

Campaign group Fathers 4 Justice has distanced itself from the release of mass mailing viruses (Mirsa-A and Mirsa-B), which featured messages supporting the group. "This is nothing to do with us, and we're upset our name has been misused in this way. It's not a style of message we would use," Fathers 4 Justice activist Andrew Neil told El Reg. Fathers 4 Justice members have used high profile media stunts, such as scaling the walls of Buckingham Palace dressed as the superhero Batman, to raise awareness about the plight of fathers denied access to their children following the breakdown of relationships. Neil explained that the group’s campaigns were restricted to "non-violent direct action" and certainly didn't encompass virus writing. Either the viruses were written as an attempt to discredit the group or they were written by a misguided sympathiser "at the fringes" who acted stupidly, he added. The Mirsa-A and Mirsa-B virus are typical mass mailers with the twist that the malware drop a section of text onto the hard drive of infected Windows boxes. The following text is plopped by W32/Mirsa-A into a Word document: Fathers 4 Justice Coded by UK Digital Binary Division UK Government will listen Fathers 4 Justice respect to: RanSid DILENGER NEWORDER KJ VosLar Mirsa-B drops a similar message into a Word documents in addition to creating a file called Fathers4Justice.txt on an infected user's desktop containing the following text: UK Digital Binary Division MRSA: coded by the UK Digital Binary Division we support Fathers-4-Justice Neither Mirsa-A nor Mirsa-B has spread widely. Both are low risk. If you're unlucky enough to see one, the infected emails have subject lines such as "How NOT to get Promotion", "Memorandom to all staff", "Urgent Document", "Extremely Important", and "Private and personal" containing infected attachments, typically posing as a CV. ® Related stories Worm poses as porn-purging program VXers hit new low with tsunami-themed worm Worm plays Tetris with victims Playgirl virus attacks Chechen rebel sites
John Leyden, 26 Jan 2005

Oracle finds an extra penny to boost 2005

Oracle today planted a bold, fiscal stake in the ground, saying 2005 earnings will likely come in one penny ahead of analyst estimates. It then went one step further, boasting that 2006 figures will crush Wall Street forecasts. Oracle is looking to show per share growth of 24 per cent in 2005, posting earnings per share of 62 cents. Analysts had been looking for the company to report 61 cents in earnings, on average. The database maker pointed out that its PeopleSoft acquisition "is on track to contribute" to both Fiscal 2005 and Fiscal 2006. So there you have the extra penny. Looking far into the future, Oracle expects 2006 earnings per share growth between 22 per cent and 28 per cent or 76 cents and 80 cents per share. The wise men of Wall Street put Oracle's 2006 earnings at 71 cents per share. After a brief jump on the optimistic outlook, Oracle's shares cooled and are sitting just 1.25 per cent higher, at the time of this report, at $13.76. Oracle is looking to benefit from serious cost-savings after it gave 5,000 workers the axe earlier this month. The vast majority of the staffers once worked at PeopleSoft. ® Related stories Oracle boss forecasts PeopleSoft customers' future Lawson lures Peoplesoft punters Oracle and the culling of the 5,000 Oracle shy about new mobile database
Ashlee Vance, 26 Jan 2005

EMC aims 'switcher' campaign at Veritas users

The moment EMC bought Dantz, you knew it was coming - a big time marketing attack against Veritas. EMC will officially let the hounds loose tomorrow when it announces something called the "Safe Switch" program. Marketing materials being distributed to the press show that this program will center on convincing customers to shift from their Vertias data backup products to rival software from EMC. The storage giant is looking to play on potential fears Veritas customers may have about the Symantec merger and is planning to tout upcoming releases of both Legato and Dantz products. While EMC plans to "unveil" Safe Switch tomorrow, its executives actually started talking up the program earlier this month. David DeWalt, an EVP in EMC's software group, gave CRN a sneak peek at what's coming. "The idea is to create a complete, programmatic way of giving our customers and our competitive customers ways to switch to EMC products," he told the magazine. We want to make that total cost of ownership easy for them to move. "Specifically, we are going after (Veritas) Net BackUp in the data center with NetWorker, with disk-to-disk types of solutions. We have a lot of ways we can usurp Veritas' position in the data center." EMC intends to offer support services as part of Safe Switch to customers moving to Oracle's 10g database. The idea being that customers upgrading their database might also be in the market for a new backup product. EMC, however, will have to be very convincing to shift customers from the popular Net Backup software to the NetWorker code acquired in its buy of Legato. But this high-end competition between EMC and Veritas isn't terribly new. What is new is that the Safe Switch campaign will see EMC using its Dantz software to really attack Veritas further down the food chain for the first time. EMC will provide the same type of support services to customers picking up new versions of Microsoft Exchange. It hopes to use the Dantz code to push Veritas' Backup Exec out of the way. This will likely be EMC's hardest sell of all given Backup Exec's dominant position in the Windows backup market. EMC might win over the miniscule Mac customer base with Dantz product, but Dantz is hardly the fist name that comes to mind for Windows Server backup customers. In addition, Veritas last week released its best version of Backup Exec to date. Whatever upgrade EMC has planned with the Dantz code will have to be very impressive. EMC stated that it managed to steal 100 Veritas customers during the second half of 2004 and expects the Safe Switch campaign to continue this trend. EMC has enjoyed a banner year with the software side of the house kicking into overdrive. Such success no doubt caught the eye of executives at Veritas, and they're sure to take the EMC backup threat seriously. Still, it will take far more than a marketing move to unseat Veritas from its position as backup king. Customers interviewed recently by The Register don't seem terribly concerned about the upcoming Symantec integration and are pleased with the direction Veritas has taken in the backup arena. And, despite its ties to tape, Veritas is placing just as much emphasis as EMC on disk-based backup these days. It remains to be seen whether the Safe Switch program is light and fluffy or chock full of real benefits to customers. Either way, both EMC and Veritas clients are sure to benefit in the long run from a heated backup battle between the vendors. Let the games begin! ® Related stories 2005: huge turbulence in IT market Can the new Symantec make merging look easy? Oracle gets really, really virtual with VMware Customers pay billions for storage software in Q3
Ashlee Vance, 26 Jan 2005