17th > February > 2005 Archive

HP serves up bland post-Fiorina Q1

After evicting CEO Carly Fiorina, HP today reported first quarter earnings that were neither spectacular or horrific. They were so-so. HP pulled in $21.5bn in revenue during the period, which is a 10 per cent rise over the $19.5bn posted one year ago. Adjusted for currency, HP's revenue rose just 5 per cent, so here's thanking a weak dollar for making the company look good. HP's profit came in at $943m or 32 cents per share, which compares with a profit of $936m or 30 cents per share last year. Analysts had been looking for earnings of 34 cents per share on $21bn in revenue. "While we continue to make progress in growing our top line, there is work to be done to improve our profitability," said interim CEO and CFO Bob Wayman during a conference call with analysts. "As the board conducts a CEO search, our management team is focused on driving improved execution to serve our customers, strengthen our competitiveness and improve shareholder value." During today's conference call, Wayman insisted that financial analysts not raise questions about Fiorina's firing. The analysts dutifully obeyed Wayman and stuck to the standard margin and hardware woes interrogation. Did Fiorina listen in to the call? Or is she already off spending millions on luxury cruises and fine wine? Does anyone care? If you were looking for a clear disaster in the quarter to explain Fiorina's departure, you won't find it. HP's revenue in EMEA jumped 12 per cent to $9.3bn, and revenue in Asia rose 15 per cent to $3.3bn. Sales in the Americas increased just 6 per cent to $8.9n. The PC business reported a profit of $147m - an increase of $87m year-over-year - on $6.9bn in revenue. The Imaging and Printing group saw revenue rise 3 per cent to $6.1bn and posted a profit of $932m. This profit from the typically stellar unit was actually down $35m from the same period last year. HP's enterprise hardware business pulled in $4.0bn in revenue - up 9 per year-over-year - boosted by sales of Xeon- and Opteron-based servers. This unit's profit fell to $71m from $153m last year. HP's services business grew revenue 20 per cent to $3.8bn. It posted a profit of $281m in this year's first quarter versus a profit of $261m last year. HP's software unit continued to struggle, posting a loss of $40m on $240m in revenue. HP is looking for second quarter revenue to come in between $21.2bn and $21.6bn. ® Related stories Bye bye Carly, don't forget to write Carly's landing cushioned by 45m dollar bills HP celebrates Opteron, IBM doesn't Carly Fiorina quits
Ashlee Vance, 17 Feb 2005

Cyberpunk authors get the girls

RSA 2005RSA 2005 Bruce Schneier experiences after writing the last seven pages of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon have prompted the noted cryptographic expert to consider a radical change of career. Schneier's books on information security sell well, but his eyes were opened at a joint book-signing session with Stephenson. "Cyberpunk authors get better groupies," he joked. To date, Schneier's published works have evolved from discussions about cryptography to network security to security's role in society in general with his last book Beyond Fear. His next (as yet unnamed) book will focus on the social effects of security issues rather than technology. Schneier made his comments during a book-signing session at the RSA 2005 conference in San Francisco yesterday. ® Related stories Bruce Schneier on crypto, the FBI, privacy and more Matrix Sequel Has Hacker Cred Beyond Fear: A security primer for troubled minds RSA 2005 All the Reg stories from this year's conference
John Leyden, 17 Feb 2005

Spam gets vocal with VoIP

RSA 2005RSA 2005 We're all learning to live with spam but an even more annoying nuisance lies just around the corner. Spit (Spam over internet telephony) is set to become the next pervasive medium for scammers, penis pill purveyors and the rest. Internet telephony means cheaper phone calls, a great prospect for consumers and businesses alike. It also means that advertising messages can be sent out for next to nothing. And history shows that spammers will take advantage of any broadcast medium available to them, according to Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at Counterpane Internet Security. Spit has the potential to fill people's voicemail in-boxes with junk, he says. "Once you get to the point where you have 10 unsolicited commercial voicemail messages every time you log on people will stop using it or at least only accept calls from people on their white list." Schneier thinks it will be difficult to weed out Spit messages, but some security vendors are considering defence mechanisms. According to David Thomason, director of security engineering at network security firm Sourcefire, Spit messages would likely have a pattern. Junk calls matching that pattern could be blocked in much the same way malign data traffic can be discarded providing filtering technologies were deployed on the network Spit messages are sent from, he said. ® Related stories Users choke on mobile spam Trojan infects PCs to generate SMS spam Phone spam misery looms Stateside Pssst, wanna spam mobile phones? Telecom Italia slammed for spam hypocrisy UK premium rate phone complaints rocket RSA 2005 All the Reg stories from this year's conference
John Leyden, 17 Feb 2005

T-Mobile hacker pleads guilty

A sophisticated computer hacker who penetrated servers at wireless giant T-Mobile pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single felony charge of intentionally accessing a protected computer and recklessly causing damage. Nicolas Jacobsen, 22, entered the guilty plea as part of a sealed plea agreement with the government, says prosecutor Wesley Hsu, who declined to provide details. The prosecution, first reported by SecurityFocus last month, has been handled with unusual secrecy from the start, and a source close to the case said in January that the government was courting Jacobsen as a potential undercover informant. Before his arrest last October, Jacobsen used his access to a T-Mobile database to obtain customer passwords and Social Security numbers, and to monitor a US Secret Service cyber crime agent's email, according to government court filings in the case. Sources say the hacker was also able to download candid photos taken by Sidekick users, including Hollywood celebrities, which were shared within the hacking community. According to a Secret Service affidavit filed in the case, Jacobsen came to the agency's attention in March of last year when he offered to provide T-Mobile customers' personal information to identity thieves through an Internet bulletin board. Jacobsen had access to some customers' Social Security numbers and dates of birth, voicemail PINs, and the passwords providing users with web access to their T-Mobile email accounts. He did not have access to credit card numbers. The company, based in Bellevue, Washington, boasts 16.3 million U.S. customers. T-Mobile says it has notified 400 customers whose data was accessed, but the company leaves open the possibility that it may identify and warn more victims as the case progresses. "I can confirm that based on the information that we have to date, we have notified all the customers that we are aware of," said spokesman Peter Dobrow said Wednesday. "It's still under investigation." Court records suggest the hacker was in T-Mobile's systems for at least a year, ending with his arrest in October 2004. But the company claimed Wednesday that Jacobsen's access was not continuous throughout that period: at some point they detected him and locked him out, but the hacker was apparently able to break back in. "There were two instances that we were able to identify as having Jacobson's fingerprints on them," said Dobrow. "There were two periods of time, beginning in October 2003." Jacobsen was arrested after a Secret Service informant helped investigators link him to sensitive agency documents that were circulating in underground IRC chat rooms. The files were traced to Peter Cavicchia, a Secret Service cyber crime agent in New York who received documents and logged in to a Secret Service computer over his T-Mobile Sidekick - an all-in-one cellphone, camera, digital organizer and email terminal. The Sidekick uses T-Mobile servers for email and file storage. A source close to the case said last month that Jacobsen also amused himself and others by obtaining the passwords of Sidekick-toting celebrities from the hacked database, then entering their accounts and downloading photos they'd taken with the wireless communicator's built-in camera. A friend of Jacobsen's in the hacker community, William Genovese, confirmed that account, and said Jacobsen gave him copies of digital photos that celebrities had snapped with their cell phone cameras. Last month Genovese provided SecurityFocus with an address on his website featuring what appears to be grainy candid shots of Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Nicole Richie, and Paris Hilton. He said Wednesday that he's since removed the photos at Jacobsen's request. T-Mobile declined to discuss specific victims. Reached by phone, Hilton's manager said the company has not notified Hilton of a breach. Now free on bail and living in Oregon, Jacobsen faces a maximum possible sentence of five years imprisonment. Sentencing is set for 16 May. Copyright © 2005, Related stories Hacker breaches T-Mobile systems, reads US Secret Service email Fraudsters expose 100,000 across US Hackers at mercy of US judges Michigan Wi-Fi hacker jailed for nine years 'Deceptive Duo' hacker charged
Kevin Poulsen, 17 Feb 2005

Killing an iPod: harder than it looks?

3GSM3GSM So when do mobile phones really kill iPods? Not before people stop saying 'iPod killer', certainly (because saying it is more of a death wish than the sincerest form of flattery), but not until handset manufacturers figure out pricing, functionality, the target market and its habits. Which is easier said than done, but grasping that just saying 'and it plays music' isn't good enough is a start. Sendo's X2 is one of the latest stabs at the category. Sendo did not say 'iPod killer', in our hearing at least, but does say "Music Phone." So yes, it plays music. The company is particularly keen to demonstrate the quality of the sound reproduction, which is maybe arguable as a benefit, considering much of the target market has either already destroyed its eardrums and/or listens to mobile music under pretty hostile conditions, but if it's going to take off it's probably price and functionality that's going to do the trick. Talks are under way, but no network had been signed off at the time of 3GSM. A pay as you go X2, however, could go for £90 or thereabouts. Without contract you're maybe talking a minimum of £130, and with contract, free. So it's by no means the cheapest entry level phone poverty-stricken yoof can get (spec-wise, it isn't an entry-level phone), but if the music side is deemed a draw by the target market, then you can maybe call it a good deal. Alongside the music capability it's triband GSM/GPRS, has a 1.3 megapixel camera, 32Mb free memory expandable via miniSD cards, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity, so overall it looks a pretty good deal, despite the indications from the projected pricing that it's not intended to have a massive operator subsidy built into the deal. As regards functionality of the music capability, there's an element of the obvious here that usually escapes the manufacturers of multipurpose devices. Sendo has figured out that less is more to the extent that you just need to switch on and press play, which is, if you'll pardon the expression, a start. Beyond that, though, you can consider how the nature of the host device limits the designers' ability to produce anything you could call a no-compromise music player; it's a phone, it has a phone keyboard and therefore you face the hard choice of whether you add music player-specific buttons, and if so how many, or whether you go for mainly on-screen controls using the standard phone keyboard. The latter's fine and allows you to carry it in your shirt pocket providing your eyes are on stalks, right? Too many buttons, confusion, too few, maybe too much compromise. If you're starting with a phone, then you clearly need to have the standard phone key configuration (manufacturers make sporadic attempts to break out of this, but we all know what happens when they try), and how, on top of this, you do a full-function music player that can compete with dedicated devices on equal terms is entirely non-obvious. But how about the other way around? The Register (you may have noticed) is not entirely convinced that the public in general and yoof in particular is going to flock to DRM-rich paid-for wireless music services, but if one suspends disbelief sufficiently to imagine that there is a killer product in there, its essence is the wireless-playing device combination. So while something sold as a phone had ruddy well better function as a decent phone, something pitched primarily as a music player could quite acceptably have music information and purchase as the primary purpose of the wireless capability, with a bit of texting and voice as 'free' extras. Which maybe just gets you one of those weird-shaped things from Nokia that nobody much loves. But maybe the way to play it is for a non phone company with a good brand (er, Apple?) to build and badge it, the point here being that if a phone company puts one out people will just call it a weird phone. Not, of course, that we're saying that phones with a music capability are doomed, as such. This capability is now becoming an essential extra, and being good at it will help, alongside other things, sell phones. And it'll probably hurt generic cheap MP3 players, if there are any unhurt ones left to hurt. But we reckon Apple's safe for a while yet. ® 3GSM 2005 All the Reg stories from this year’s conference
John Lettice, 17 Feb 2005

Investigators uncover dismal data disposal

An investigation into the disposal of computer equipment has uncovered psychological reports on school-children, confidential company data and even details of an illicit affair on hard drives that should have been wiped clean. Universities, schools and global businesses are routinely breaking the Data Protection Act by disposing of computers without removing personal data, researchers found. The Computer Forensics team at the University of Glamorgan examined over 100 hard drives at the behest of investigative journalist Peter Warren. Some of the drives were bought from eBay, others from computer fairs and traders. Only two contained no recoverable data at all, and one of those was brand new. The previous owners of half the remaining drives had made no attempt to remove the data, and the rest had failed to remove it properly, according to Jon Godfrey, at Life Cycle Services, which contributed ten professionally cleansed drives as a blind control. "What the university found was frightening," he told us. "Half of the owners didn't seem to care, and half didn't know how to erase their data. Over half breached the DPA because they held personal data." The Data Protection Act requires that organisations storing personal data do so securely, and that the data is deleted when it isn't needed any more. As well as breaching the DPA, the lax disposal of hard drives could mean sensitive information falling into the hands of organised technology crime gangs in Nigeria and Russia. Godfrey also warned that much of the information on the drives could be used for identity theft. Data recovered from a Yorkshire primary school included names of pupils and details of their school reports. Other information recovered includes: financial details that could leave the companies concerned open to fraud or blackmail; passwords of senior company executives; details that would allow hackers access to central systems of universities including Southampton and Hull. Between two and three million personal computers are disposed of every year in the UK, according to Godfrey. "If you extrapolate from these results, that is a huge amount of information leaching out," he said. Godfrey noted that although the research was conducted by a computer forensics team, this should not imply that the data is difficult to recover. Any computer literate individual could download a data reconstruction tool and learn how to recover the data within half an hour, he said, adding that it would be a totally trivial exercise for anyone familiar with Unix. Individuals as well as companies need to take care when disposing of hard drives. There is readily available software, such as Blancco, which will get rid of everything on your hard drive to the highest standards approved by the government. If you don't want to do that, Godfrey says, take a hammer to the hard drive before you chuck out your old PC. "The shelf life of the data is longer than that of the PC. We saw that with the case of Paul McCartney's old hard drive showing up. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone," Godfrey concludes. ® Related stories SMEs play IT fast and loose Biometrics: the legal challenge Guidelines for FOIA stragglers
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005
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HP goes to bat for the Foreign Office

HP has emerged victor of the prize to run the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices's IT systems. The seven-year deal is worth £180m and is the biggest ever signed by the FCO. It will see HP streamline the department's IT into a single online network, and over the next two years, FCO's offices in the UK and abroad - there are more than 200 overseas - will get new hardware, software and services. It being the government, the project has a code-name: "Future Firecrest". This will replace "Firecrest", as the current FCO's IT infrastructure is called. Firecrest was designed by an inhouse team, FCO Services. They are not being outsourced to HP, but will work with the computer firm through a "joint service delivery model", under joint management. HP will run the show, but will choose who does what on the basis of "which member of the partnership is best placed to deliver". Now for a canned quote from Sir Michael Jay, FCO Permanent Under Secretary: "This has been a ground-breaking procurement, which represents a genuine partnership as opposed to a more traditional outsourcing arrangement. I am confident that HP represents the right choice for us in providing a solution which is flexible yet secure, resilient yet mobile. Having the right IT and high quality services to support it will be critical in helping us realise the FCO Strategy over the next decade. "We believe that the contract achieves excellent value for money for the taxpayer, enabling us to draw on HP's experience and access to technology to maximise potential business benefits for the FCO." The FCO also has nice words to say about HP: "The contract also represents a significant achievement for HP who beat off strong competition to secure the deal after a rigorous procurement process." Press release here. ® Related stories Gov.uk delves into EDS finances Union slams MoT IT system delays Offshoring inevitable, so get over it UK.gov IT: it's broke, how can we fix it? Building disaster into the network: how UK.gov does IT
Drew Cullen, 17 Feb 2005

Japan joins global satellite disaster network

Space WeekSpace Week Japan took a step closer to Europe and other countries in space cooperation when the country signed the international charter on space and major disasters in Brussels yesterday. The move is aimed at improving satellite photo responses to major disasters, including forest fires, earth quakes and floods - and was given added impetus by the Asian tsunami on 26 December. At the signing ceremony, a Canadian official said Japan joined because "they saw the tsunami and it might happen to them next. They want to call upon the help of other nations". But a Japanese official insisted Japan had refrained from joining until now because it lacked earth observation satellites able to take high resolution pictures. Later this year, the ALOS satellite will be able to take 2-metre resolution pictures, equalling the capabilities of the European Ikonos satellite, he said. Japan’s signature on the charter marks a closer approach between its space industry and the rest of the world. Japan has historically been very close to the US in aerospace, favouring Boeing over Airbus. It has sent four astronauts on the Space Shuttle, more than any other nation. The charter, whose other signatories include the space agencies of Argentina, Europe (the European space agency ESA), Canada and India, was set up in 1999 and has been invoked 80 times. Signatories can call upon the combined services of all the signatories' earth observation satellite photos, free of charge, to improve responses to global emergencies. The emergency does not have to be in a signatory country. International aid agencies used satellite photos in 2002 after the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Congo destroyed 14 villages and left 500,000 people homeless. The satellites could see through the clouds and show rescue teams which were flat areas safe for refugee camp. and which areas had been most affected and needed the most urgent aid. French and German relief workers were helped by satellite imagery after severe floods in December 2003 caused the Rhone and Gard rivers to inundate the countryside and the town of Arles. Pictures from high resolution SPOT satellites helped workers determine the best location for their powerful water pumps. The Asian tsunami prompted four calls from the Indian agency covering India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, providing more than 150 images. ® Related stories Ariane 5 ECA launch is go /> SMART-1 makes lunar orbit ESA's lunar probe closes on target
Pelle Neroth Taylor, 17 Feb 2005

Crypto researchers break SHA-1

Long rumored and now official, the popular SHA-1 hashing algorithm has been attacked successfully by researchers in China and the US. A collision has been discovered in the full version in 269 hash operations, making it just possible to mount a successful brute-force attack with the most powerful machines available today. This is by no means a disaster in practical terms, as the amount of computational power and mathematical insight needed to perform a successful attack is still great. But SHA-1 has been demonstrated not to be beyond the reach of current supercomputers, as had previously been believed, or at least hoped. Theoretically, 280 operations should be necessary to find a collision. By using reduced-round versions of the algorithm, and the team's technique, it was possible to attack SHA-1 in fewer than 233 operations. Using the same technique, the full SHA-0 could be attacked in 239 operations. SHA-1 is regarded as more secure than MD5, in which collisions were found last year by some of the people who reported the recent discovery. Also last year, collisions were found in SHA-0 by a French team. The researchers in the latest effort, Xiaoyun Wang and Hongbo Yu from Shandong University and Yiqun Lisa Yin from Princeton University, have released a paper briefly outlining their findings. The technical details will be released in the near future. Wang and Yu were part of the team that discovered the weakness in MD5. Hashing is a one-way cryptographic function. It differs from encryption in that the original input creating the hash should not be recoverable under any circumstances, whereas in encryption, the original input is meant to be recovered, albeit under tightly controlled circumstances. Hashing is used in many applications, from passwords and other authentication schemes, to digital signatures and certificates, to creating checksums used to validate files. Ideally, no two inputs would create the same hash. However, in the real world this inevitably happens, and when it does, it's called a collision. Finding a collision is a matter of brute-force hashing until two different inputs are found to create the same output. This could, with considerable effort, be used to forge certificates and signatures. Still, in practical terms, things are not as bad as they might seem. Collisions are irrelevant in a number of crypto implementations, and in those where they are relevant, the trick is to keep them ahead of the practical computing resources required to find them. The chief consequence of these discoveries is that there is now a degree of uncertainty about whether a digital signature, say, is authentic, because it is not impossible for a duplicate to be created. But it's also not likely to happen, either, at least with current technology. Indeed, collisions notwithstanding, the algorithm remains the strongest element of most crypto implementations. It would be wise to approach any encryption or hashing scheme as a fine boost in security that can never be trusted one hundred per cent. Which is exactly how every security scheme should be approached. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has recently begun recommending that government phase out SHA-1 in favor of SHA-256 and SHA-512. NIST security technology group manager William Burr was recently quoted in Federal Computer Week saying that, "SHA-1 is not broken, and there is not much reason to suspect that it will be soon." NIST had been recommending that SHA-1 be phased out by 2010. It looks as if that date will have to be tweaked just a bit. ® Related stories Number crunching boffins unearth crypto flaws Is SSL safe? Crypto attack against SSL outlined Weak crypto casts shadow over ecommerce 109-bit Elliptic Curve Cryptography knocked over with brute force US.gov plans DES's retirement
Thomas C Greene, 17 Feb 2005

DJ fined €1.4m for massive 'illegal' music cache

A "well known" Italian DJ has been ordered to cough up Europe's biggest fine ever for music downloading after being found in possession of and using thousands of illegally copied music files. The DJ must pay a record €1.4m ($1.8m), the Italian financial police have ruled. He also faces criminal prosecution, law enforcement officials said. The fine follows a raid mounted by Italian police earlier this week on a popular nightclub in Rieti, a town between Rome and Assisi. During the investigation, officers seized over 2,000 MP3 files and 500 music videos. FIMI, the Italian equivalent of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), welcomed the whopping fine. "We hope this precedent will serve as a deterrent for those who are thinking of doing the same," said FIMI director Enzo Mazza. "This DJ was touring clubs and making money out of the music he played - while those who had invested time, talent, hard work and money into creating the music in the first place did not get a cent," he added. Earlier this month, a French teacher was fined €10,200 for illegally sharing music files - the first prosecution in France for unauthorised file sharing using a P2P network. To date, the RIAA has issued lawsuits against more than 8,500 named and unnamed individuals in the US, all alleged to have illegally distributed music files using P2P software. ® Related stories RIAA sues the dead First French P2P 'pirate' fined €10,200 RIAA sues 717 alleged copyright cheaters P2P hub operators plead guilty Legal downloads jumped 900% in 2004 Identify file-sharers, judge tells UK ISPs US DoJ searches homes of P2P evil doers
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

Intel boffins build first continuous beam silicon laser

Intel scientists have developed what they claim is the world's first continuous-wave laser constructed from silicon in a single chip. To date, a number of silicon-based lasers have been developed but they have all been capable only of emitting pulses of optical energy. Getting a silicon laser to operate continuously is a key step in the development of optical interconnects between microprocessors and, ultimately, chips that operate using optical rather than electronic switches. Intel's chip uses the Raman Effect, a process whereby one laser beam - called the 'pump' - is used to amplify a second, low-power, data-carrying beam of a different wavelength. The Raman Effect has predominantly been used to transmit data across very long, multi-kilometre glass fibre optical links, but Intel's goal is to utilise the technique in silicon. Intel's chip laser consists of a silicon waveguide sandwiched between two semi-transparent mirrors, with the pump laser input at one end and the signal output at the other. Building a waveguide in silicon to channel the beams is relatively easy, because silicon is transparent to infra-red light. It's desirable because silicon chip fabrication is cheap and a relatively straightforward process to apply. But the trick has been getting the pump strength up to a point where the energy of the amplified data beam is greater than the energy lost as imperfections in the waveguide impede the beam. Then there's the so-called two-photon absorption problem, which limits how far you can turn up the pump strength. Beyond a certain point, pairs of photons - particles of light - collide simultaneously with an atom of silicon providing sufficient energy to create a free electron in the waveguide. These electrons, in turn, absorb energy from the pump and amplified data beams, reducing the strength of the output signal, potentially far enough to counteract the Raman Effect. It's this two-photon absorption problem that has so far limited silicon lasers to pulse-only operation. Intel's breakthrough is to use a transistor structure to surround the waveguide and pull the free electrons away from the beam, allowing the pump strength to rise to a point where a good, continuous output beam is generated. "We have demonstrated stable single mode laser output with side-mode suppression of over 55dB and line width of less than 80MHz," the company said in an article published today in the science journal Nature. The technique is simply an R&D project today, but Intel said it reckons the process could be commercialised by the end of the decade. ® Related stories Alliance touts holographic disc 'revolution' Elpida licenses 'DVD on a chip' memory tech Germans demo working quantum register Light dawns at Intel IBM builds world's smallest torch Optical computing ushers in 10GHz chips
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

Grand Theft Auto firm faces 'murder training' lawsuit

Take Two, the publisher of the Grand Theft Auto game series, is once again facing a lawsuit that alleges its software was complicit in murder. The legal action was filed on behalf of the families of police force staff shot dead in Fayette, Alabama in 2003, allegedly by one Devin Moore. Moore was apprehended on suspicion of driving a stolen car. He is claimed by state prosecutors to have snatched a policeman's gun and shot officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump, and a dispatcher, Leslie Mealer. The lawsuit maintains that Moore's actions that day were inspired by the GTA series, games he is claimed to have played obsessively. The games amount to "training" for the alleged killings, the families' lawyer told local paper the Tuscaloosa News. Moore is now 18 years old, but at the time of the shootings he was 16. As such, the lawsuit claims, he should not have been sold GTA III and GTA: Vice City, which carry an M rating - for 'mature audience only', ie. anyone 17 years old or more. On that basis, the plaintiffs requested that the book also be thrown at retailers Wal-Mart and Gamestop for allegedly allowing Moore to buy the games. It also names Sony, as manufacturer of the PlayStation 2 console on which Moore is said to have played the games. This isn't the first time GTA has got its publisher and retail partners in trouble. At least two lawsuits relating to the game are currently pending against Take Two and, separately, BestBuy. The lawsuit was announced in the same week that the US Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) publicly criticised the California legislature's attempt to ban the sale of violent games to children. The proposed bill, dubbed "redundant... frivolous... irresponsible [and] unconstitutional" by the IEMA, seeks to amend existing state law concerning content harmful to children to include games which "depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel". If the bill becomes law, retailers caught selling such material to children could faces fines of up to $1,000. The bill was proposed by California Assembly member Leland Yee who last year suggested a similar bill only to have it voted down. The IEMA said that games are already sufficiently labelled, though the US ESRB ratings scheme, to show the ages for which they are suitable. It claimed that it is already working hard to ensure its members do not sell games to under-age customers. ® Related stories China bans The Sims Topless teen wins trivia game ban New Zealand censor pulls Postal 2 JFK assassination game branded 'despicable' Retailers bans Manhunt after murder link claim Haitians seek Vice City ban $100m Grand Theft Auto lawsuit threatens to become class action Grand Theft Auto in the dock over US road killing
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

Intel fortifies mobile transactions

3GSM3GSM Intel has joined Orange and Visa International to better protect premium digital content and transactions on mobile handsets. The company will use a combination of hardware and software to provide more more security for consumers to pay for online music or video, the company announced this week at 3GSM in Cannes. The new Intel Wireless Trusted Platform is comparable with solutions Intel has developed for desktop PCs. Connected to the motherboard or the inner circuitry is a Trusted Platform Module, which contains a unique digital signature of the platform's software configuration. When booted, the digital signature is recalculated and compared to previous signatures. If the signature can't be validated, devices are notified of a change in the reported platform's state. It will not only protect users against viruses and software corruption, but also secures content delivery and downloads. Orange will integrate its Orange Operators Virtual Machine (OVM) technology, a middleware environment targeted at hosting security demanding services, with the Intel Wireless Trusted Platform. Orange and Visa both hope to develop a secure payment solution that eliminates the possibly of payments transactions being conducted if the mobile phone has been stolen or lost. At present mobile handsets mostly rely on software for security purposes. That has a couple of drawbacks, including a high energy uptake, in particular with encryption-based solutions. With hardware, this isn’t really a problem. Intel stresses it will not take away business from DRM or anti virus software manufacturers. Those applications can still run on top of Intel’s platform. ® Related stories People want to pay by phone Mobile virus epidemics: don't panic Samsung phones to double as wallets 3GSM 2005 All the Reg stories from this year’s conference
Jan Libbenga, 17 Feb 2005

Apple suspends online hack subpoenas

Apple has agreed to suspend legal action against three journalists who disclosed advance product information against the company's wishes, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said yesterday. In December 2004, Apple subpoenaed the three to try to discover the names of individuals who leaked allegedly illegally-obtained information to two news websites. The previous month, PowerPage and AppleInside published stories about 'Asteroid', a still-unreleased Apple device for connecting musical instruments to computers. Apple's legal action also targeted news site MacNN, which hosts AppleInsider. And the company applied for a subpoena against ISP Nfox.com, seeking emails that it believes will identify PowerPage's sources. But last night the EFF, an internet rights group, said Apple had agreed to suspend the requests, eWeek reports. Apple has not commented on the lawsuits - or responded to the barrage of criticism fired its way, particularly for its sideways attack on NFox.com. "Rather than confronting the issue of reporter's privilege head-on, Apple is going to this journalist's ISP for his emails," said EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl in a statement. "This undermines a fundamental, First Amendment right that protects all reporters. If the court lets Apple get away with this, and exposes the confidences gained by these reporters, potential confidential sources will be deterred from providing information to the media, and the public will lose a vital outlet for independent news, analysis, and commentary." Apple's tactics call into question how far the law can be used to overcome a journalist's right to protect his or her sources, and US online publications' right to the same protections afforded to older media. Apple is also suing website Think Secret for publishing details of its Mac Mini product ahead of the compact computer's introduction in January. The company claims the publication of the leaked information caused it financial injury, and is seeking compensation. Apple has long fought a battle of wits with websites and paper publications - including a number of well-known pro-Mac newsstand titles, not to mention the online organ you're reading now - that report and comment upon unannounced Apple products. ® Related stories Apple sues three journalists for emails French consumer group sues Apple, Sony Journalists must reveal their sources (if Apple asks) Mac rumour sites get it completely right Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit Apple confirms MacWorld rumors with fresh lawsuit
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

Security experts warn of 'scary' new web scam

A Lancashire-based PC hardware site has become the victim of a sophisticated and disturbing new online fraud. Laptop Bits Ltd managed to get the bogus web site - laptopexpress-ltd.com - shut down last night just hours after being alerted to the scam by a regular customer. What make the scam so "scary", as one security expert has already described it, is the time and effort spent by the fraudsters developing the fake site. In effect, they've assumed the identity of a legitimate business with a very professional-looking site. Contact and company details were lifted from Laptop Bits Ltd and even the domain was registered in the name of a director at the company. The site was so complete and professional-looking it would be very hard to spot that it is bogus. Although the fraudsters assumed the identity of a legitimate business, the give-away is that the goods have to be paid for by "money transfer" rather than by cheque or credit card. At this stage it's not known if anyone has fallen for this particular scam, which is only thought to have been up and running for a couple of days before being unearthed. Initial investigations suggest the scamsters are based in the UK. "Whoever is behind this faked a complete company web site and assumed their identity," said Andrew Goodwill, MD of online security experts Early Warning UK Ltd. "This is taking phishing to an all new level." Having managed to get the rogue site pulled, he's now working to getting the fraudsters' bank account shut down too. "This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this," said Goodwill. "This is scary." And the reason it is so scary is that fraudsters appear to be willing to go to such extraordinary lengths to hoodwink consumers. Tony Brocklebank of Laptop Bits Ltd said: "We're extremely concerned. Almost anyone anywhere could try and do the same thing tomorrow. The fraudsters have put time and effort into this. It is very worrying." ® Related stores Scammers say 'No' to drugs, 'Yes' to fraud JK Rowling warns of Harry Potter phishing scam Small.biz demands scam protection UK targets scammers in month-long campaign One in five Brits 'buy software from spam'
Tim Richardson, 17 Feb 2005

University launches semantic web interface

The University of Southampton has launched a new semantic web interface, called mSpace, that it says will make searching for information online, and learning about a subject, much easier. mSPace is a framework that gathers information sources and presents them to the user in a single window. It can potentially be applied to any subject, provided the basic information is available. The researchers say this means users will no longer have to wade through lists of undifferentiated data when researching a subject. Dr monica schraefel (sic) headed the research project, and put together a demonstration based on a search for information about classical music. She contrasts the semantic web approach with that of Google or iTunes, both of which return long lists of links or tracks. This is useful up to a point, schraefel argues, but supposing you don't actually know much about classical music: how much would you learn from these searches? The semantic web interface, meanwhile, brings together audio, text, links, and images about the domain, in this case classical music, in a way that people can explore the subject more fully. Wrapping an mSpace around the data allows the user to preview music, learn about the history of each composer and so on. The researchers have applied the same framework to film (through IMDB.com) and academic research, and say it can be applied to any subject. They have released the framework to SourceForge so that other developers can take the basic ideas further. There is a demo of the classical music mSpace running here for those with Mozilla based browsers. More information on the project is here. ® Related stories Southampton uni honours Berners-Lee with professorship Microsoft's Google-killer arrives with a 'whuh?' W3C completes framework for the Semantic Web
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005

Congress seeks stem cell side-step

Members of Congress yesterday introduced bills which aim to bypass president Bush's restrictions on state-funded stem cell research. Advocates of such research from both major parties said they had "given up on persuading Bush to change his policy". The bills propose that any embryonic stem cell lines should be eligible for federal funding, while providing for close federal monitoring of their use, Reuters reports. In 2001, Bush issued an executive order "restricting federal funding for stem cell research to only those batches of the cells that existed at the time". It was later discovered that these existing stocks were useless due to contamination with non-human a molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid - most likely when they were grown in a lab culture containing animal-derived materials from mice and calf foetuses. One of the bills' sponsors, California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, explained the need for the proposed legislation: "If the federal government doesn't act, we're going to have a patchwork of state laws - and that's already happening. California, for instance, is launching a $3bn initiative to fund cutting-edge stem cell research. In 2004, New Jersey created a $25m embryonic stem cell research center." Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin added: "It's now clear that the president's policy offers only false hope to the millions of people across this country who are suffering from diseases that could be cured or treated through stem cell research - diseases like juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease], and many more." Feinstein also asserted that she and other senators will introduce a bipartisan bill to back "therapeutic cloning" - or somatic cell nuclear transfer - which produces stem cells directly from a patient. ® Related stories UK scientists want £100m stem cell foundation Scientist looks to clone Little Bo Human US stem cell research in jeopardy
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2005

IBM ThinkPad T42p mobile workstation

ReviewReview IBM's ThinkPad T42p is the high-end, workstation model of the T42 range and as such, it doesn't come cheap. But it's also a quality product with a look and feel that most other notebooks can only aspire to, writes Riyad Emeran.
Trusted Reviews, 17 Feb 2005

WorldCom CFO lied, he admits to court

Defence lawyers for ex-WorldCom boss Bernie Ebbers attempted to undermine the credibility of the government's star witness yesterday by getting former CFO Scott Sullivan to admit he lied about the accounting fraud. Facing his first day of cross examination Sullivan, 42, told the court he lied to board members and investors over the $11bn (£5.8bn) accounting scandal. Ebbers defence lawyer Reid Weingarten also probed Sullivan's private life and his use of cocaine and marijuana. Weingarten told the court that Sullivan was only testifying for the government in return for a lighter sentence, although the former CFO denied this. In one exchange, reports the BBC, Weingarten referred to a meeting Sullivan had with auditors in 2002. "If you believe something is in your interest, you are willing and able to lie to accomplish it, isn't that right?" asked Weingarten. "On that date, yes. I was lying," replied Mr Sullivan. Sullivan has already pleaded guilty to his part in the accounting scandal that led to the financial collapse of WorldCom in 2002. Ebbers denies the fraud charges against him. ® Related stories Ebbers trial halted 'till Wednesday Ebbers failed to tell of book fiddling Ebbers 'drove Worldcom fraud' - Sullivan Sullivan fingers Ebbers in WorldCom fraud whodunnit WorldCom directors $54m lawsuit deal unravels Ebbers fortune at risk as share prices slid Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m Ebbers never made 'an accounting decision' - witness Ebbers feared fortune would be 'wiped out' Ebbers knew of financial fiddling Ebbers' financial know-how probed Gloves off in Ebbers WorldCom fraud trial 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, 17 Feb 2005

Vampires live longer: official

Scientists at Stanford University have confirmed what Vlad Dracul knew all along: a refreshing dose of young blood can put the spring back into your step. According to science journal Nature, via Wired, the Nosferatu-inspired boffins found that blood from young mice introduced into their older counterparts "activated stem cells in the old muscles that allowed them to recover from injury". The research team reckons the discovery will have implications for work on stems cells, tissue regeneration, elderly care and spinal cord injuries. However, we should warn readers now hungrily eyeing their fellow workers' necks that it's not quite a simple matter of donning a black cape and draining the office trainee's delicious plasma - the mice in question were genetically identical, thereby avoiding the kind of immune system anarchy which would result if you connected two humans' blood supplies together. Furthermore, the mice had their blood supplies interconnected for six weeks - an awfully long time to spend with your chops clamped round someone's neck in the stationery cupboard. Dr Thomas Rando, Stanford University School of Medicine associate professor of neurology, explained: "It's not so much about making people live longer, but if some older person gets a broken bone or skin wound, maybe we could improve their recovery rate. Maybe there's a chance to enhance the potential of old tissues." Sadly, this interesting research comes a little too late for Hungary's Elizabeth Bathory, the literally bloodthirsty Countess believed to have killed 612 women in order to bathe in their vital essence - a sort of 16th century equivalent of slapping on Pro-Retinol-A-packed anti-ageing creams. Bathory's activities did not impress the authorities, who imprisoned the Countess in her own torture chamber. Incredibly, she managed to live a further three years - proof, perhaps, that her methodology was sound. We feel certain that if an inconvenient incarceration had not prematurely terminated her exciting research programme she would today hold a professorship at Stanford and be delighting academia with papers such as "Rejuvenation of aged progenitor cells by exposure to the blood of Hungarian virgins". Speaking of which, you can find the real Stanford University abstract here. ® Related stories Beer fights cancer: official Peruvians develop super-tasty guinea pig Romanian villagers flee disco-dancing aliens
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2005

Net downloads prompt retrial in rape case

A rape conviction has been overturned by appeal judges and a retrial ordered, after a juror apparently downloaded related documents from the web. According to reports, the judges ruled that the conviction was unsafe, after the documents were found in the jury room. Jury members could have been influenced by the documents, the judges said. The downloaded material was found by a bailiff after the conviction in November 2003. One documents was called The Feminist Position on Rape and the other, downloaded from the Colchester Rape Crisis line, was entitled Rape and the Criminal Justice System. In a written statement, Lord Justice Judge said that the internet has many benefits, and this ruling should not diminish its value. However, "Just as a juror should not speak about a case to anyone other than another juror, and for precisely the same reason of principle, he or she should not conduct private research for information which may have a bearing on the trial." Jurors considering extraneous information from the internet contravenes two well established legal principles, he continued, and if the material had influenced thier thinking, the verdict returned could not be considered a true verdict. "The first is open justice, that the defendant in particular, but the public too, is entitled to know of the evidential material considered by the decision-making body. This leads to the second principle, the entitlement of both the prosecution and the defence to a fair opportunity to address all the material considered by the jury when reaching its verdict." "Of course, not every site is always right. Some sites seek to persuade. The contents of some are inconsistent with the assertions made in another. The internet cannot discuss the case. It can, however, provide material which may influence a juror’s views. If used for research purposes during the trial it can just as easily influence the juror’s mind as a discussion with a friend or neighbour." No date has been set for the retrial. ® Related stories Ebbers trial halted 'till Wednesday Charges dropped against 'DDoS Mafia' Full disclosure put on trial in France
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005
homeless man with sign

Northamber doubles interim profit

Northamber shrugged off a weak January and expressed confidence in the year ahead after reporting profits more than doubled in its first half. The UK distie yesterday announced sales were £124.5m for the six months ending 31 December, up 8.3 per cent on the year. Pre-tax profits came in at £1.36m, up 106 per cent on the same period in 2003. Northamber said the performance was all the more “encouraging”, given price erosion on many of its volume lines. At the same time, it said, the figures reflected its continuing reduction in overheads. Looking at the first half of 2005, Northamber said January proved weak across the entire sector, but “February appears to be returning to expected levels of activity.” The board remains confident in the outcome for the full year, subject to the performance of the wider economy. Northamber as set an interim dividend of 2 pence, compared to the 1.1 pence paid last year. ® Related stories http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/28/northamber_fy04_results/
Team Register, 17 Feb 2005
channel

Bell swings into full year profit

Bell Microproducts yesterday reported a 140 per cent increase in fourth quarter profits. The distributor’s revenues in the period ending 31 December were $808m, up 26 per cent on the year, while net earnings were $5.8m, compared to the previous year’s $2.4m. For the full year, sales came in at $2.8bn, up 27 per cent on the year, while net earnings were $11.3m, compared to the previous year’s $4.5m loss. Improvements at Bell’s European operation underpinned an improvement in gross margins from 7.5% to 8%. President and CEO, Donald Bell, said the company’s growth rate was 27 per cent, compared to 10 per cent for the technology distribution sector overall. He expects to boost the company’s share in the current year. ® Related stories Bell Micro buys UK distie Bell Micro picks boss for Europe
Team Register, 17 Feb 2005

Florida teacher cuffed for bomb-making classes

A 42-year-old Orlando teacher was cuffed on Monday after instructing students in bomb-making techniques. David Pieski allegedly "used an overhead projector in class to give students detailed instructions in bomb-making, including advising them to use an electric detonator to stay clear from the blast", the Orlando Sentinel reports. One of his trainees subsequently detonated a device on a local golf course, and videotaped the blast for later approval by Pieski. The teacher is reported to have described the explosion as "cool". A month later, police were called to a house near the golf course after an acid bomb alert. One youngster at the scene told officers that "Pieski showed students in class how to make the explosive device". His mother added that he had told her the bomb was a school chemistry project. On 8 February, the authorities decided to pay Pieski a visit at work. He admitted that he had "detonated chemicals in a coffee can by a ball field four times for his students", claiming it was an experiment to "show a reaction rate". He then showed investigators a can of black powder and an electric detonator he used to set off the devices. Police examined a book marked "Demo" containing "information, including the chemical breakdown, about an explosive known to be used by suicide bombers in the Middle East" - described in the arrest report as "one of the explosives of choice for foreign terrorists" and "extremely unstable yet easy to produce". The school confirmed that they had told Pieski he could not store explosives on site. Pieski was last week reassigned to a desk job in the school district area Superintendent's office pending the outcome of an internal investigation. He is currently on $1,000 bail following a short visit to the Orange County Jail on Monday. He faces a charge of "possession or discharging of a destructive device and culpable negligence". ® Related stories Norfolk man in French car bomb terror ordeal
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2005

Qwest goes public with $8bn MCI bid

Qwest was prepared to stump up $8bn (£4.23bn) to take-over MCI, the Denver-based telecoms outfit revealed yesterday. On Monday, US telco Verizon confirmed that its $6.7bn (£3.55bn) shares and cash offer to take-over MCI had been accepted despite reports that Qwest had bid more for MCI. Yesterday Qwest went public stating it had offered $8bn for MCI - a bid rejected by MCI. Some MCI shareholders have already voiced their concerns about the deal and why execs accepted a lower offer. Now that Qwest has gone public on its offer, some observers believe it could kick off a new round of bidding for MCI. Publishing Q4 results on Tuesday, Qwest revealed that it managed to narrow losses on the back of slightly reduced revenues. The telco made a net loss of $139m (£73.6m) in Q4 04 compared to $407m (£215m) a year earlier. Revenues for the quarter were down a smidgen from $3.49bn (£1.85bn) to $3.43bn (£1.81bn). Part of the decline in losses is down to improved efficiencies and productivity gains, including the shedding of 5,500 (12 per cent) of its workforce in 2004, mostly in the second half of the year. Qwest also added 81,000 DSL lines in the fourth quarter and ended the year with more than a million broadband lines. Qwest chairman and chief exec Richard Notebaert said he was "pleased with the progress made in 2004 and we like the momentum we have entering 2005 to drive additional growth in our key lines of business". ® Related stories Verizon's MCI takeover faces shareholder revolt Verizon and MCI to tie the knot Verizon close to MCI deal - report Qwest courts MCI for telecoms take-over
Tim Richardson, 17 Feb 2005

More online buying from HM Gov

The government has established a new set of online procurement tools, it says will make it easier for small businesses to compete for lucrative government contracts. The final testing of the system will be completed by the end of May 2005, when the system will be launched as part of a larger e-procurement toolkit. OGCbuying.solutions, the trading arm of the Office of Government Commerce, has signed a four-year deal with and electronic procurement specialist BravoSolution, to host and manage a web-based buying service, covering the full life cycle of the bidding process. BravoSolution is the company behind the online reverse-auction procurement system that recently saved the Department of Constitutional Affairs £250,000 on a contract for new IT kit. This new system will move the whole tendering and request for quotation process online, and should help level the playing field between suppliers. A spokeswoman said: "With traditional procurement processes there are costs for paper, printing, stamps maybe even courier costs." But because this service is all online, it doesn't cost anything to submit a bid, she added. These costs are not a big factor for larger companies, but can quickly add up for smaller businesses. The system covers four main areas: tendering, evaluation, contract management and collaboration. It also allows companies to submit their bids at the last minute. ® Related stories Reverse auction saves probation service £250k Intellect gets tough on best practice compliance UK.gov simplifies IT procurement
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005

UK ATC system falls over - again

Thousands of travellers were last night delayed in British airports after one of the National Air Traffic Services' (NATS) air traffic control computers failed. Engineers identified a problem with the Flight Data Processing System (FDPS) at West Drayton, Middlesex, and were forced to shut down the 30-year-old system and switch to manual operations for half an hour. The NATS' new £623m Lockheed Martin set-up at Swanwick relies on a data feed from the venerable FDPS, so if the latter goes down, so does the whole kit and caboodle. Despite the short duration of the outage, restrictions on the number of aircraft entering UK airspace or taking off from domestic airports quickly created delays. This is not the first time the UK's ATC computer system has crashed and burned. The very, very expensive Swanwick kit itself fell over last year in spectacular style, prompting us to call it "perhaps the ultimate hopeless government IT project". And while frustrated customers may curse the cantakerous ATC kit, the airlines too may soon be feeling the effect of future cock-ups where it hurts - in the pocket. European legislation introduced today allows passengers to claim compensation for flight cancellations which means NATS could find itself at the receiving end of a bit of tin-rattling by the flyboys if they think that NATS' wobbly ATC computer has cost them hard cash. The solution? Well, here's what the business sector has to say, according to BMC Software's Paul Arthur: ''In industries where minutes count, the timely and appropriate identification of technical failures and their impact on customer facing services relies heavily on not just having the right technical tools but also the processes and methodologies in place. ''By aligning technical components to business services the impact of an incident can be easily assessed allowing the right priority to be assigned to the problem. Applying business service management methodologies to the management of that incident means that high customer impact issues can be resolved first and the process can be tracked closely to ensure quicker resumption of customer service. Incident management is key in today's service orientated culture and is the only way to ensure that business downtime is minimised.'' Or in realspeak: "Get your bloody act together - sharpish." Enough said. ® Related stories Snowed-in code blamed for Comair's Xmas flight collapse US air traffic control open to attack UK air traffic control computer fails
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2005

MS recalls 14.1m Xbox power cables

Microsoft today asked Xbox owners around the world to return their consoles' power cables in a bid to prevent them suffering singed body parts. The recall takes in some 14.1m power cables shipped into Europe before 13 January, 2004 and in other territories before 23 October, 2003. The Xbox debuted in the US in November 2001, and to date more than 20m of the consoles have shipped. The recall covers over 70 per cent of that installed base. Microsoft's move follows 30 or so reports from users suffering minor burns, singed upholstery or scorched carpets as a result of power lead malfunctions, the company said. Its own tests revealed a one in 10,000 failure rate. Xbox owners should visit Xbox.com and enter their machine's serial number to find out how to obtain a replacement power lead. It is not known who produced the offending cables. ® Related stories Motorola 'recalls' MPx220 smart phone Toshiba recalls notebook RAM Dell recalls 4.4m notebook power adaptors NCR recalls inkjet refill kits Lexmark recalls 40,000 laser printers IBM recalls 500,000 melting notebook adapters
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

Chav burglar collared by webcam

A 19-year-burglar has just begun an 11-month stretch at Her Majesty's Pleasure after he was captured burgling a house by the owner's webcam. Fed-up software engineer Duncan Grisby set up the surveillance system following a previous burglary three years before. It recorded deliciously crisp images of Benjamin Park who delighted police immediately identified. Cambridgeshire Police Burglary Squad supremo, Det Sgt Alan Page, told the BBC: "The webcam was set up in his computer and began filming once it registered motion. It captured every movement Park made. At one point he stared into the computer as if it might be making a noise or something to make him suspicious. "He then stole the computer but it didn't matter because Mr Grisby had set it up so that as it was recording it was sending the images to an email address. When the break-in was discovered Mr Grisby simply gave us the email address and we were able to watch several minutes of footage and say: 'That's Ben Park'." Page continued: "Mr Grisby is an extremely bright man. He'd set this up because he'd been burgled some years ago and the quality was superb. It was better than a burglar alarm and when Park initially denied breaking in to the property we were simply able to show him the footage." Cambridge magistrates heard that Park - who has more than 13 previous convictions for theft, and was on bail for attempted burglary when he struck at Grisby's hi-tech domicile - lifted computer equipment and other property with a value of almost £4,000 from the house. They jailed him for 11 months. Grisby noted: "The burglary was a real violation of my private space but at least he got caught. I just wish he'd got a longer sentence." ® Bootnote Thanks to reader Mike Plunkett whose Chav radar is in fine working order today. Further Chav resources eBayers go mental for Burberry-clad Chavmobile Oi, Chav! Check out me website! Related stories Webcam snares toff 'tea leaf' Mobile fingers UK's thickest armed robber Blaggers lift 60 CCTV cameras
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2005

European Parliament votes to scrap software patent text

The European Conference of Presidents (CoP) has given its blessing to a parliamentary request to restart the legislative process on the Computer Implemented Inventions (CII) directive. Parliament now has the green light to ask the Commission to send the legislation back to the drawing board. The Scottish National Party immediately called on the commission to listen to the will of the elected representatives. Ian Hudghton, MEP, said: "The European Parliament is demanding at the very highest level that the Commission rethink its flawed strategy in the field of computer software. It's time for the Commission to play fair by Europe's software writers - and listen to the elected representatives." Other opponents of the bill have responded cautiously. Hartmut Pilch, president of FFII, issued a statement warning that although the commission must consider parliament's request, it is by no means certain that it will honour it, nor that it would use the opportunity to draft what he called "a good text". The next step is for the Commission to consider this restart request. If it grants the request, the bill goes back to the beginning. If it does not, the common position agreed last May will be accepted, and the bill will progress to its second reading. ® Related stories Software patents law dodges another rubberstamping European software patent law hangs in the balance Software patents: EU votes for restart
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005

Taiwanese agents detain Chinese foundry chief

J H Hsu, chairman of Hejian Technology, the China-based chip foundry at the centre of allegations that Taiwanese foundry UMC is in "breach of trust" with the island's government, was yesterday detained by officers from Taiwan's Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Hsu was subsequently released by the Hsinchu District Court on bail pending the results of further MoJ enquiries, according to a Central News Agency report. Bail was set at TWD10m ($316,910). The Hejian chairman's detention follows raids by MoJ officials yesterday on UMC's HQ and the homes of key executives carried. UMC is under investigation for allegedly investing in a Chinese company without declaring the matter to the Taiwanese government as local laws demand. UMC today reiterated in a statement filed with the Taiwan Stock Exchange that neither it nor its executives hold stakes in Hejian. It also said it has not assigned staff to work at the Chinese foundry. Hsu was said by a Court spokesman to have founded Hejian with others shortly after they all quit their jobs at UMC in 2002, a report in the Chinese-language newspaper the Commercial Times said today. The paper added that Hsu worked at UMC for 16 years. During that time, he ran the foundry's Fab 8AB production facility. ® Related stories UMC HQ raided in China investment probe UMC Q4 income plummets on inventory adjustments SMIC coughs $175m to settle espionage allegations Toxic gas leak at TSMC fab hospitalises 21 TSMC Q4 decline mirrors chip market iSuppli cuts 2005 chip sales growth target Chips are down for Taiwan foundry giants
Tony Smith, 17 Feb 2005

SCO faces ejection from Nasdaq

The Nasdaq exchange has threatened to delist The SCO Group unless the company can get up to date with a key filing meant for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). SCO today revealed that Nasdaq officials may pull it from the exchange unless it files its Form 10-K in a "timely fashion." Already packed down with lawsuits against IBM and Novell, SCO will now have to endure another hearing with Nasdaq officials if it wants to remain on the exchange. Without such a hearing, SCO will disappear from the market on Feb. 25. "The Company expects to make a request for a hearing with the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel to appeal the Nasdaq staff's determination," SCO said. "This request will stay the delisting pending the hearing and a determination by the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel. There can be no assurance that the Panel will grant the Company's request for continued listing." SCO has failed to file the Form 10-K for its fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2004 as a result of an internal investigation into how it handled stock compensation. "The Company is working to resolve these matters as soon as possible and expects to file its Form 10-K upon completion of its analysis," it said. SCO's shares dipped more than 5 per cent once word of the potential delisting broke. They're sitting at $4.06, at the time of this report, well below the 52-week high of $14.50. The company's stock once surged past $20 per share with some investors showing they believed SCO could win its patent and contract disputes against IBM. Over the past couple of years, however, investors have appeared less optimistic that SCO can prove IBM infringed its copyrights by allegedly placing Unix code in Linux. ® Related stories SCO dodges bullet SCO parent sued by former execs OpenSolaris makes Sun top donor of open source code Hand over the code, judge tells IBM SCO's vanishing licensing biz hits Q4 revenues
Ashlee Vance, 17 Feb 2005

Aussie watchdog to rule on broadband pricing row soon

Australia's competition watchdog could be about to rule on whether incumbent telco Telstra should face legal action over alleged anti-competitive broadband pricing. In February last year Telstra cut the cost of its retail broadband service undercutting what it charged other operators for wholesale broadband. Rivals said this was unfair and an abuse of Telstra's dominant position. In March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) agreed that Telstra had engaged in anti-competitive conduct and slapped the company with a competition notice. If found to be in breach of competition law, Telstra could be fined AUS$10m and a further $1m (£400,000) for each day it continues with its anti-competitive behaviour. Now, after almost a year since it became embroiled in the argument over broadband fees, ACCC regulator Graeme Samuel told a group of politicians that a decision is close and would be made in a "very short while". However, the Sydney Morning Herald cites unnamed inside sources who claim that the case will be resolved out of court. Of course, any settlement would be closely vetted by the industry. Last summer, for example, Greg Wilson, the boss of Aussie telco Primus, said that Telstra should be fined more than AUS$100m (£38m) to deter the telco from engaging in such behaviour again. He told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney: "Boy, I'm hoping that a massive great stick will come down on Telstra. They need to be given a massive disincentive not to do this to the industry again." ® Related stories Fine Telstra AUS$100m, rival ISP demands Telstra backs down in BB pricing row Telstra faces court over broadband price cuts Telstra faces fines over broadband price cuts Broadband war breaks out in Australia
Tim Richardson, 17 Feb 2005

Sage calls for new MS anti-trust probe

One of Microsoft's rivals says it expects Europe's competition regulator to launch a fresh investigation in the company's bundling practices. Sage Software made its statements when Microsoft announced plans to include a small business accounting program in the Office product suite. A spokesman for Sage said that as Office is a monopoly, bundling products into it is unfairly leveraging that monopoly, Computerwire reports. Microsoft points out that the program is still in beta testing, and that pricing and packaging have yet to be finalised. But it is still hedging its bets a little, and is making the product available as a standalone product, or as part of a new Office suite specifically aimed at small business users. "Other Office suites will continue to be available - without Small Business Accounting included," it said. The decision to sell the software alone, as well as bundling it, refects the anti-trust ruling that Microsoft had unfairly used its Windows monopoly to break into new markets. The company is currently appealing the ruling that it make Windows available with and without Media Player, and the €497m fine the commission has imposed. So, is this likely to prompt a new investigation? Or is Microsoft doing enough by promising to make available a version without the bundled addition? The Competition Commission was unable to provide comment in time for this article, but we will update the story as soon as we hear anything further. ® Related stories Gates drops in on Brussels MS out of the bundling business? MS loses Europe appeal, will ship WMP-free Windows version
Lucy Sherriff, 17 Feb 2005

Compuware calls IBM a 'killer'

Compuware's day in court has at last arrived, and the company's lawyers have not held back in their attacks against IBM. Compuware has charged IBM with nothing less than trying to kill the company by blocking sales of its mainframe software. IBM copied Compuware's mainframe management and testing applications and then used its monopoly position in the market to promote its own code, according to Compuware. In response, IBM says it competed fairly and helped lower the price of mainframe software. The trial between the two vendors kicked off this week in Michigan. Compuware originally sued IBM in March of 2002. It is seeking hundreds of millions in damages from IBM. "This case is real simple. This is about theft of technology worth millions and millions of dollars," Compuware lawyer Daniel Johnson told the jury, according to media reports. "This is about IBM, one of the largest companies in the world, going out and embarking on a plan - not an accident - a plan to kill Compuware." Johnson, a lawyer for Silicon Valley powerhouse Fenwick and West LLP, argued that IBM recruited former Compuware staffers who revealed trade secrets about the File-AID and Abend-AID products, the Detroit Free Press reports. IBM would go on to create similar products and then sometimes give them away as part of larger hardware sales, the lawyer said. These Compuware products accounted for a huge portion of the company's revenue. IBM's attorneys dismissed these claims, saying the company used decades old, in-house technology to develop its own software. Big Blue put out File Manager and Fault Analyzer, which made the mainframe software market more competitive and improved the quality of both IBM and Compuware products, IBM said. More on the case here. ® Related stories Compuware extends DevPartner Studio IBM software vendors feel the love Judge - IBM must pay for Compuware software probe Compuware sues Moody's over rating Compuware launches antitrust suit against IBM Is Monterey Unix's revenge?
Ashlee Vance, 17 Feb 2005

Cryptographers to Hollywood: prepare to fail on DRM

RSA 2005RSA 2005 Movie industry representatives at RSA 2005 in San Francisco today called on the IT industry for help in thwarting illegal file sharing before the problem threatened its revenues. But they were told that they must recognise the limitations of digital rights management in their fight against digital piracy. Speaking on the RSA conference panel Hollywood's Last Chance - Getting it Right on Digital Piracy, Carter Laren, security architect at Cryptographic Research, noted that cryptography is "good at some problems, such as transmitting data so it can't be eavesdropped or even authentication, but it can't solve the content protection problem. If people have legitimate access to content, then you can't stop them misusing it. "Anyone designing content protection should design for failure and if it fails update it," he added. John Worrall, marketing VP at RSA Security, agreed that content protection systems should be easy to upgrade. The entertainment industry must also learn from its previous mistakes in pushing the weak CSS copy-protection system for DVDs. "If content providers open up standards to good cryptographic review they will get a better system," he said, to applause from the RSA 2005 audience. The entertainment industry also needs to be responsive to changing market conditions and consumer preferences, according to Worrall: "Don't lock down a set of content rules that look draconian five years from now. Be flexible enough to incorporate change in rules. If rules are too restrictive people will go to other channels, including pirated material." Andy Sentos, president of engineering and technology at Fox Entertainment Group, argued that device manufacturers need to recognise the requirements of the movie industry in the design of their products. "There's a value in both content and functionality but there has to be a balance," he said. ® Related stories SuprNova.org ends, not with a bang but a whimper The BitTorrent P2P file-sharing system MPAA closes Loki Stealing movies: Why the MPAA can afford to relax Norway throws in the towel in DVD Jon case RSA 2005 All the Reg stories from this year's conference
John Leyden, 17 Feb 2005