8th > March > 2005 Archive

Japan calls Intel to task over anti-AMD rebates

Intel is facing demands that it changes the way it does business in Japan or face court action. Japan's Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has ruled that the company deliberately tried to limit AMD's market share, by imposing restrictions on five of Japan's biggest PC makers, which collectively account for 77 per cent of PC sales in the country. We have a summary of the JFTC's findings, courtesy of an AMD press release, namely that: One manufacturer was forced to agree to buy 100% of its CPUs from Intel; another manufacturer was forced to curtail its non-Intel purchases to 10% or less; Intel separately conditioned rebates on the exclusive use of Intel CPUs throughout an entire series of computers sold under a single brand name in order to exclude AMD CPUs from distribution; The mechanisms used to achieve these ends included rebates and marketing practices that includes the "Intel Inside" program and market development funds provided through Intel's corporate parent in the United States. The JFTC has told Intel that it can no longer dole out rebates to Japanese PC makers on conditions that exclude competitors. Intel has ten days to respond to the JFTC, but says it continues to believe its practices are legal. It is deciding what action to take. In a statement Intel expressed concern that Japanese regulator's decision "does not appear to take into account antitrust principles commonly accepted worldwide". Bruce Sewell, vice president and general counsel for Intel, said: "One of the core principles of competition policy is the notion that such policies should be based on sound economics. There is a broad consensus that competition regulators should only intervene where there is evidence of harm to consumers. It is apparent the JFTC's Recommendation did not sufficiently weigh these important principles." AMD has a different take on the ruling: "The JFTC found that Intel illegally manipulated the market to exclude competition, hurting PC users around the world," said Thomas McCoy, AMD executive vice president. "Using market power illegally to limit innovation and, more importantly, consumers' freedom to choose, cannot be tolerated. We encourage governments around the globe to ensure that their markets are not being harmed as well. "The evidence of harm to consumers is obvious. By preventing PC manufacturers from using CPUs of their choice, Intel's misconduct deprived consumers worldwide of the freedom to purchase computers that best fit their needs. Efforts by an avowed monopolist to artificially set market shares to exclude competition clearly violates antitrust standards globally." In July last year the JFTC took similar action against Microsoft, calling for changes to contracts it makes with PC manufacturers. European regulators are also looking at Intel, following complaints from AMD. ® Related stories Intel Japan faces anti-trust action Intel 64-bit Pentium 4s make retail debut World chip sales edge up in October
John Oates, 08 Mar 2005

ISP sues Dutch gov for snooping costs

An Internet Service Provider is suing the Dutch government to recover the costs of making its network accessible to law enforcement. Under Dutch law ISPs are entitled to claim for the administrative cost of each individual wiretap, but not for the cost of equipment which makes such snooping possible. XS4ALL is claiming €500,000 - the amount it says it has spent since 2001 to ensure its network is accessible to police. Apart from getting back the money invested in its network XS4ALL wants to set a precedent to establish who pays for law enforcement - government or industry. It warns that the European Council of Justice and Home Affairs is debating measures to make telecom providers store all traffice data for between one and three years. Again the expense of providing such storage will be met by industry According to XS4all, providers in other European countries including Austria, Italy, Finland, France and the UK are already fully reimbursed for the expense of installing wiretaps. More details available on the ISP's website here.® Related stories BT Retail to trial 8 Meg DSL Telstra rebate amounts to a 'parking fine' Anti-Blair site sparks real-world row
John Oates, 08 Mar 2005

VIA unveils ultra-compact media chip

VIA has integrated its Eden N embedded x86 processor and its CN400 North Bridge into a single package the better to push its products into consumer electronics kit, such as LCD TVs. The combo chip, known by its codename Luke, joins VIA's CoreFusion line-up. It is clocked at up to 1GHz, at which speed it consumes 7W of power - the lowest of its kind, the company says. Luke incorporates VIA's on-die security engine, PadLock, which is a fast random number generator and AES encryption accelerator. The core contains 64KB of L2 cache. The processor also supports Intel's MMX and SSE multimedia-oriented instructions. That couples with the CN400's own media-friendly features, including VIA's Vinyl six-channel audio sub-system, AGP 8x for external graphics and a integrated UniChrome Pro graphics core, MPEG 2 and 4 acceleration with motion compensation, and support for two monitors, including DVI, LVDS, TV and CRT. The North Bridge can connect to 4GB of DDR SDRAM, clocked at 266, 333 or 400MHz. Customers will still need to connect Luke to a South Bridge, but the combo package takes up 15 per cent less board space than the two cores when packaged separately. VIA has yet to announce availability and pricing information. ® Related stories Intel updates Ent PC with audio 'reality amp' VIA unveils Turion chipset Preview: VIA PT-series P4 chipsets VIA unveils P4 PCI-E chipsets Intel, Nvidia were Q4's graphics chip winners VIA 2GHz C7 CPU to debut Q4
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Broadcom buys Bluetooth headphones chip maker

Broadcom is buying Zeevo, a privately held Bluetooth headset system-on-a-chip developer for $32m - $29.4m in cash, the rest in shares. Zeevo pitches its products at makers of mobile phones, PCs, MP3 players and consumer electronics kit. It specialises in enabling high-quality audio over Bluetooth, a wireless technology known for basic, monaural sound - although version 2.0 of the specification enables stereo playback. Broadcom is interested in Zeevo becaus of this audio functionality. It already offers a range of Bluetooth chips for phones and PCs, but will use Zeevo technology to extend coverage into more CE-oriented market segments. Big growth is forecast for Bluetooth headsets, which will reach 90m units sales a year by 2008, according to In-Stat/MDR. Based in Santa Clara, California, Zeevo employs 50 people. Broadcom did reveal its plans for integration post-acquisition. The deal is expected to close by the end of the month. ® Related stories UWB tech groups combine forces Moto exec drops AirPod hint Apple updates G4 PowerBooks with Bluetooth 2.0 TI delivers on single-chip promise Griffin adds remote control, Bluetooth audio to iPods, Macs Toshiba unplugs stereo 'phones with Bluetooth
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Kazaa Oz lawsuit wows the crowd

The Earth is flat, the Moon landing never happened, the world will end next week and Ashlee Simpson is one of the great recording artists of her generation. It's funny how misinformation can enter the marketplace and get reported as the truth. It's also funny how the misinformation gets reported so widely. As we already know, on 4 March 2005 the Australian Federal Court refused to grant a request by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) to force the alleged owners of the Kazaa Media Desktop to disclose their assets, and refused to dispose of their assets pending a decision in the Kazaa case. We also know that at least one well-respected publication incorrectly reported that the injunction had been granted. Innocent mistake, or another shot fired in the PR war? You decide. ARIA had sought Mareva orders in order to "restrain... the respondents from dealing with assets under their control so as to dissipate or remove them from the applicants' reach and thereby frustrate a potential judgment in the applicants' favour". ARIA also requested that the respondents be ordered to file an affidavit of assets detailing their possessions as at last Friday. So what actually happened on 4 March 2005? Counsel for the respondents, including Sharman Networks' Nikki Hemming and Altnet chief Kevin Bermeister, sought an adjournment of the request for an affidavit of assets, saying it would "interrupt" them as they are currently preparing a written response to the submissions prepared and lodged by the applicants in preparation of the closing statements of the case. Justice Margaret Stone, the sitting judge on the day, contacted Justice Murray Wilcox who has heard all of the Kazaa case to date. Justice Stone allowed the adjournment following an assurance from Justice Wilcox, that he will hear the applicants' request on 22 March, 2005 - prior to closing statements. What was the point of the application of these Mareva orders? A Mareva order is an order which is granted under Australian law for the administration of justice. It takes the form of a negative interlocutory injunction. Typical Mareva orders include orders for the respondent to preserve assets and not to leave the jurisdiction. They are usually granted to an applicant after they have successfully obtained a judgement against the respondent, but before there has been an order for damages. So, has there been a judgement in the Kazaa case? No. We haven't even heard final submissions yet, so it seems as though ARIA's application was premature. Yet was it premature? No - not if the purpose of the application was to distract the respondents while they are preparing their final submissions. There are only a finite number of lawyers working for the respondents who are involved in this case, and if they are working on a response to a Mareva order application then they are NOT working on final submissions. Great litigation tactic - force your opponent to take their eyes off the ball! This Mareva tactic also suggests that ARIA is very confident it will win its case, or it would like the world to think it is very confident. ARIA is so confident about victory that they are not even waiting for that victory before they apply for a Mareva order! Such an expression of confidence is very risky - given that we are probably at least two months from a decision and no one can read Justice Wilcox's mind. The instigation of all of this fuss was the Altnet press release entitled "Altnet Launches First-Ever Advertising Fund Dedicated to Sharing P2P Revenue". The press release announced "the first-ever online advertising revenue-sharing fund to be split with top independent labels. Among its numerous significant independent label customers, V2, Artemis, Epitaph/Anti, Side One Dummy and Palm, Simmons/Latham, and Koch Media will participate in this fund where they will share the revenue generated from advertising that appears in the user interface of popular Peer to Peer applications". ARIA effectively claimed that Altnet was going to spend their money now by distributing it to other companies - and wanted the court to prevent them from doing so. All of this was very surprising. The amounts of money are very small - we're talking thousands of dollars but not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also, on 1 March, 2005 - three days before the Mareva hearing the following report appeared in one of Australia's most respected music industry columns: "LABELS TAKE P2P CASH... Australia's peak record industry body, ARIA, is currently suing Altnet for copyright infringement - but won't kick out or discipline members of ARIA who take the company's tainted cash. "This has nothing to do with the Kazaa case locally, which is about the unlicensed distribution of sound recordings and the liability for that activity," an ARIA spokesperson says. "Any arrangements which may exist between copyright owners and Altnet in relation to the licensed distribution of recordings is entirely a matter between those parties - it has no relevance to, or connection with, the liability for the unlicensed distribution of recordings via peer to peer networks which is the subject of the local proceedings in relation to the Kazaa network." So when did the change in position by ARIA take place, and why didn't anyone tell the ARIA PR rep? You know that old cliché about the left and right hand... That's the problem with litigation stunts - they can backfire and sometimes you forget to tell your own people you are doing them. Can't wait for the next one... BTW, Ashlee, if you are reading this - I love you, please come home, I forgive you. Or is this more misinformation? ® Alex Malik has a B.Com (Finance) and LLB from the University of New South Wales and an LLM from Sydney University. He is in the final stages of a PhD in Law with a specialisation in intellectual property rights enforcement, at the University of Technology. Related stories Kazaa can't bar child pornographers, court told Kazaa challenged over child porn control policy Kazaa trial opens with 'massive piracy' claim
Alex Malik, 08 Mar 2005

Samsung shows 82in monster TV

Having shown off the world's largest plasma display panel late last year, Samsung this week claims the world's biggest LCD TV. The monster display measures 82in (2.1m) in the diagonal, just short of the plasma panel's 102in (2.6m) size. It is designed for HDTV. The screen will be the first to be offered by the S-LCD joint venture between Samsung and Sony. It was made at Samsung's Tangjeong, South Korea-based seventh-generation LCD fab, which goes into volume production through its single output line later this month. Samsung recently announced plans to open a second production line at the facility. Line two will begin mass production next year. The fab will punch out 23, 26, 32, 40 and 46in panels for LCD TVs cut from 2.2m x 1.9m glass substrates. Samsung says it can get two 82in displays from one such substrate. The 82in TFT LCD uses Samsung's patented Super Patterned-ITO Vertical Alignment (S-PVA) technology to achieve extra-wide viewing angles. It also boasts a low-dispersion colour filter and ultra high aperture ratio, achieving a contrast ratio of at least 1200:1 and brightness of 600cd/m². Response times are at 8ms or faster. Its backlight raises color saturation to 92 per cent. Don't expect to be able to go out and buy one of these monster tellies - unless you have a very deep wallet. However, anyone attending the CeBIT show in Hanover later this week will be able to gawp in awe at its size. ® Related stories Samsung glum on year ahead Samsung shows 'world's first' DDR 3 chip Samsung ships 256Mb XDR chips Sony denies plasma TV pull-out Samsung shows 2.5m monster monitor Sony, Samsung agree to share toys UK prof pioneers new LCD screen system LG, Matsushita trade lawsuits in PDP patent clash
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

TI cuts Q1 sales forecast

Texas Instruments has cut its Q1 FY2005 upper revenue forecast on the back for falling demand for its Digital Light Processing (DLP) display technology. Previously pegged at $2.90-3.14bn, Q1's revenue will come in at $2.91-3.03bn, TI said yesterday. Earnings are now expected to range from 22 to 24 cents a share, down from TI's earlier forecast of 22-26 cents a share. TIexpects semiconductor revenue to come in at $2.55-2.65bn, compared to the previous forecast of of $2.55-2.75bn. TI blamed falling demand for DLP products for the shortfall. While it reckons DLP's share of the high-end TV market grew last year, sales did not meet display manufacturers' expectations toward the end of 2004. That in turn saw them reduce their orders for DLP components from TI during the first three months of 2005, hence the Q1 FY2005 dip. TI also noted the impact of the sale of its commodity LCD operation to Oki. TI's announcement follows Intel's announcement last October that it had canned its own digital display project based on Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology, which would have competed with DLP. Philips also decided to end sales of its own LCoS TVs during October 2004, blaming the technology's failure to capture a suitable share of the high-end, large-format TV market. Put simply, LCD and plasma have the volume sales and consequent price advantage, even if they may not offer the display quality of DLP or LCoS. TI reported sales of $3.15bn during Q4 FY2004, down three per cent on the previous quarter. Net income for the quarter came to $490m (28 cents a share), down 13 per cent from $563m (32 cents a share) in the Q3. ® Related stories TI licences PowerVR phone graphics core TI delivers on single-chip promise TI Q4 earnings slide as sales fall TI narrows Q4 forecasts Intel 'ends' chip digital TV tech work Intel delays cheap hi-def TV tech
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Mixed blessings for Informix users

CommentComment There is both good news and bad news for Informix users. The good news is that Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) 10, which represents a major new release of the database, is now available. The bad news is that future versions of SAP (with NetWeaver) will no longer be available on the Informix platform, with this support to be phased out starting with the next SAP release. Let me first discuss the bad news. IBM tells me that this is not its decision. I believe it. From SAP's perspective this is one less platform to support, which reduces its costs. From IBM's perspective, this means that some proportion of those users will migrate away from Informix, and only a percentage of those will move to DB2 while others will be lost to competitive vendors. So, this makes sense from SAP's point of view, though not from IBM's. Fortunately, my guess is that this only affects a minority of Informix users, though that is no comfort is you are one of that number. As far as IDS 10 is concerned, there are two facets to IBM's latest announcement. The first is that the company will be introducing an Express Edition, for the mid-market, around the middle of this year. This must be good news for ISVs and others targeting small and medium-sized businesses. The second facet to this announcement is represented by the features of IDS 10. These are primarily in five areas: performance, scalability, reliability, security and manageability. However, unless you are a real database enthusiast, most of the new functionality is worthy rather than exciting. For example, one of the new features is configurable page sizes. This has improved performance implications when large keys are used or if you have large rows. It also provides support for multiple buffer pools. Yes, this is important but it will mean nothing to you unless you are seriously involved with databases at a technical level. That is not to say there are no headline features. On the performance side there are improvements to exploit the Linux 2.5 kernel, while the introduction of column-level encryption has important ramifications on the security side, since it will help businesses to meet regulatory compliance standards (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, Basel II). Another particularly useful feature is online index rebuild, which means that you won't have to take the system down to rebuild indexes. You can also create and drop indexes online in this release. However, perhaps the most significant area (in marketing terms) is where extra features have been introduced in order to support the use of IDS as an embedded database. Again, most of the actual features are detail-level stuff such as installation improvements, back-up and recovery improvements (including, notably, the ability to restore a single table or a portion of a table from a back-up) and so on. The various new manageability enhancements will also support this embedded environment. © IT-analysis.com Related stories The problem with Informix More on Informix CopperEye releases datablade for Informix
Philip Howard, 08 Mar 2005

Nuclear cyber security debate hots up

Two companies that make digital systems for nuclear power plants have come out against a government proposal that would attach cyber security standards to plant safety systems. The 15-page proposal, introduced last December by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would rewrite the commission's "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 plan expands existing reliability requirements for digital safety systems, and infuses security standards into every stage of a system's lifecycle, from drawing board to retirement. Last month the NRC extended a public comment period on the proposal until 14 March to give plant operators and vendors more time to respond. So far, industry reaction has been less than glowing. Capri Technology, a small California firm that builds specialized systems and software for nuclear plants, calls the regulations "premature", and says the proposal could deter plant operators from installing new digital safety systems entirely. "The NRC tries to promote the use of digital technology in the nuclear power industry on the one hand, but then over-prescribes what is needed when a digital safety system is proposed," wrote company president William Petrick, in comments filed with the commission. An industry veteran, Petrick advocates withdrawing the proposal until the NRC and industry experts can agree on a more effective cyber security strategy. Framatone, a French company that develops and builds plants from the ground up, had a similar response. The company argued in its comments that the NRC is painting with too broad a brush - for example, by applying the same security standards to software running on a general purpose computer, and to firmware embedded in a chip. Cyber security "is sufficiently important and complex to merit a more considered set of guidance," Framatone argued. "A significant joint effort should be undertaken to publish comprehensive cyber security guidance that covers present and planned uses of software in nuclear plants." Until then, "the entire cyber security section should be deleted and only a passing reference to the subject retained," the company wrote. International concern 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 2003 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 urges vendors to add additional security to their software development process, as a bulwark against saboteurs writing backdoors into the code, or implanting logic bombs programmed to shut down a safety system at a particular time. But securing the software from its own developers "would not be practical to implement", according to comments filed by Virginia-based energy company Dominion, one of two plant operators who chimed in on the proposal. "Access of the programmer to the software is a matter of trust." Dominion also takes exception to NRC's preference against interconnection. "Remote access to safety system data from outside the physical plant is not necessarily a potential vulnerability," the company wrote. "Access to data through one-way or fixed function gateways should be allowed, assuming proper verification of the integrity of the gateway is verified." Dominion operates the Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut, and two plants in Virginia. Nebraska's Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), which operates the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, took issue with the proposal's emphasis on technological access control solutions. Obliging plant operators to protect systems with a combination of passwords, smart cards and biometrics could create more problems than it solves, the company wrote. "Requiring additional security features could compromise the integrity of the safety system itself," wrote the company. "It is OPPD's position that a Safety System Security Plan that includes network security and has well-defined roles and responsibilities of the staff organization is more beneficial than adding unnecessary complexity to the safety system." Though they suggested changes, neither utility opposed the plan entirely. If the measure is approved, adherence to the new guidelines would be strictly voluntary for operators of the 103 nuclear reactors already running in the US. Copyright © 2004, Related stories US to tighten nuclear cyber security Nuke watchdog issues cybergeddon alert Five lose jobs over nuke lab security debacle
Kevin Poulsen, 08 Mar 2005

MMS virus discovered

The first mobile phone virus capable of replicating via MMS messages has been discovered. Commwarrior-A, which targets Symbian Series 60 phones, is not spreading, but its ability to propagate via Multimedia Messaging Service messages (MMS) worries some experts. To date. Phone viruses have spread over Bluetooth - so they are only capable of affecting nearby phones. A MMS virus could potentially spread as quickly as an email worm. Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure thinks the virus may be from Russia because it contains text that says "OTMOP03KAM HET!". Which roughly translates to "No to braindeads". MMS messages are text messages that include an image, audio or video. They are sent from one phone to another or via email. ® Related stories Symbian worm source code slips out Double trouble from Symbian virus Mobile virus epidemics: don't panic
John Leyden, 08 Mar 2005

Big company, crap security

I'll tell you a secret. If you're looking for a security consultant during the day and he's not in the office, you might find him in a neighborhood coffee shop consuming large doses of caffeine, and using a laptop with wireless net access. It's nice to people watch, catch up on the news, review technical articles and yes, even work, while enjoying that magic elixir (coffee) thanks to the wonders of Wi-Fi. I find it a great way to take a break. You can imagine my disappointment early last week when I swung by one of my favorite haunts, grabbed a latte, opened up a terminal and watched my SSH attempt fail. Shoot - their internet connection must be down. I quickly fired up tcpdump and was surprised to see the screen light up with packets flowing back and forth. That's odd, I thought, so I opened a browser. But instead of my usual homepage I was greeted with a stern, legal warning. My wireless coffee shop was now all grown up. At some point since my last visit, they had implemented a rather slick wireless authentication system. The homepage explained that people had been abusing the free access, doing all sorts of nefarious things. To combat this and to protect their customers, the owners were now requiring a username and password authentication that could be obtained from a barista. Hah - I thought, they must be handing out the same name and password to everyone. I was shocked again as the gentleman behind the counter confidently explained that they had implemented randomly generated combinations "for better security". I wandered back to my seat, a little stunned and a little proud. People, businesses, even small coffee shops - they were finally starting to understand the value of security. I entered my randomly generated name and password, fired up my browser and began to catch up with the geek news I had fallen behind on. With a tinge of irony, I read about three recent security breaches at large organizations who, at first glance, appear to be less secure than my neighborhood coffee shop. Choicepoint, one of the nation's largest information aggregators, had mistakenly allowed criminals to access the private identity and credit information of thousands of individuals. Approximately 50 "fake" companies had a crack at the billions of records the company stores on almost every citizen in the US. Bank of America announced that it had "lost" tapes containing information on over 1.2 million federal employee credit cards -- exposing the individuals involved and the government to fraud and misuse. T-Mobile is in the news again with another celebrity cellphone hack. The cause of this breach remains unknown, but combined with other high profile leaks, one involving a Secret Service agent - T-Mobile's internal security is not looking good. The irony of the situation has everything to do with size and resources. Here I sat in a small, local coffee shop that had just shelled out a decent chunk of change for someone to implement a relatively sophisticated authentication system that protects both themselves and their customers. Then I read about these massive companies, with almost endless resources and many years of security experience completely dropping the ball. Each incident is troubling for different reasons. In the case of Choicepoint, their business is quite literally in information. Yet they have continually failed to protect our personal information, as this is certainly not their first security breach. Two things about this situation terrify me. First, we have no choice in our involvement with Choicepoint. If you have a credit card, have filled out credit forms and applied for credit, or bought something on credit - you're in their system. We're not customers to them, we are merely bits of information and records in their massive database. What incentive do they have to protect us? Secondly, the only reason Choicepoint was obligated to release this information on the security breach is due to a California law that requires a company to inform California residents that their identity might have been compromised. If that law did not exist would we have ever heard about this? It's doubtful. Bank of America's data loss is alarming too. Certainly, as a bank they have experience in fraud and obviously understand how costly it can be. Perhaps this was a logistical error and the tapes will turn up in a few weeks. But look at it like this: let's assume someone did get hold of this information, say, 10 per cent of it. And of that 10 per cent (120k records), 10 per cent of those records get used in some sort of scam for a mere thousand dollars each, a very conservative estimate. That's 1.2m dollars in fraud. Let's compare this story to one where armed robbers intercepted a bank truck and made off with more than a million dollars. You can bet it would be headline news across the nation. Now, let's factor in the manpower and time lost for the individuals and companies involved - such a sum is nothing to scoff about. Identity theft is quickly becoming the modern criminal activity, with a low risk and high reward. I can confirm first hand how devastating this can be for the individuals involved. Time, money, reputations are lost or put on hold in definitely. And in this case we have a major company that accidentally loses 1.2 million credit profiles. That is simply unacceptable. T-Mobile has had a security problem for several months. The press got wind of three high profile breaches recently, but how many more are there? And why have the problems not been fixed? Once again, we may not be getting the full story, and perhaps these hacks were the result of some rather low-tech errors. But if they aren't, how poorly does this reflect on T-Mobile and their reaction time? Each company above has an obligation to protect our information while it is in their possession, but too many seem to be failing. What will it take for them to resolve their security issues? Drops in revenue, class action lawsuits or congressional regulation? Security, both for a company and its customers, is a necessity and a selling point in today's economy. We see normal people taking this into account everyday. I have neighbors calling me about spyware protection, relatives recognizing what SSL enabled websites are, clients requesting more security layers, and friends shredding their private mail. Why then is it so hard for the big companies to take security seriously? When will these companies "get it?" Copyright © 2004, Matthew Tanase is president of Qaddisin, a services company providing nationwide security consulting. Related stories Fraudsters expose 100,000 across US Paris Hilton's Sidekick hacked T-Mobile to probe Paris' security breach
Matthew Tanase, 08 Mar 2005

Leaked Doctor Who episode available for download

The first episode of the new series of Doctor Who has mysteriously appeared on the internet. The 45-minute episode is called Rose - after the Doctor's new assistant, played by Billie Piper. It is unclear whether the show was leaked accidentally or as part of a devilish viral marketing campaign. The press launch for the series is being held in Cardiff this evening. The BBC insisted it was "a significant breach of copyright which is currently under investigation". It urged viewers to wait for the finished episode to be broadcast. The broadcaster blamed a co-production partner for the leak. The episode is available on Bit Torrent and other file sharing networks. Rumours are the 13-part show will be broadcast from 26 March. The speculation was apparently confirmed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row arts show last night. It has also emerged that star of the show, Christopher Ecclestone, emailed the new series' developer and chief writer, Russell Davies, to ask if he could play the Doctor. ® Related stories The BitTorrent P2P file-sharing system Flying golden Daleks menace the web Daleks invade Blackpool Top British boffin is a muppet
John Oates, 08 Mar 2005

UK LLU improving says Telecoms Adjudicator

BT is showing signs that it is beginning to co-operate with rival operators as they look to provide broadband services direct to end users. The latest update from the Telecommunications Adjudicator shows that BT has pulled up its socks and stopped dragging its feet quite so much over local loop unbundling (LLU) - the process that enables rival companies to provide telecoms services direct to end users by-passing BT. The former monopoly's track record of preparing exchanges ready to house kit from operators has improved recently, with 85 per cent of exchanges ready for telcos on time. The Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) says this as an "excellent performance improvement", although by the end of March BT's "Plan & Build" target should be 98 per cent. Ensuring that LLU installations work first time and on time is also improving with "Right First Time (RFT)" end user delivery standing at around 75 per cent. Although this is still behind target, said the OTA, it's still improving. BTmay be more responsive to the needs of rival operators, but the OTA is also dealing with a dispute lodged by Bulldog Communications concerning fault repair times. The Cable & Wireless-owned operator claims that BT repairs faults on its own lines more quickly than it does for competitors and has called on the OTA to intervene. Despite this recent blot on BT's copybook, the latest update is a marked turnaround compared to late last year. In November, the OTA reported that LLU wasdogged by difficulties. While some significant milestones had been passed, take-up of unbundled lines continues to disappoint and "significant operational problems remain", said the adjudicator at the time. At the end of February there were around 36,000 unbundled lines in the UK. ® Related stories 'LLU Czar' to rule on Bulldog/BT dispute Easynet invests more in LLU UK LLU roll-out 'continues to lag' BT DSL price cut undermines LLU competition HomeChoice extends VoD reach
Tim Richardson, 08 Mar 2005

AMD 'Athlon 64 4200+' benchmarks surface

Has AMD begun shipping its Athlon 64 4200+ to OEMs? Apparently so, if leaked processor specification screengrabs posted on a Chinese web forum are genuine. The shots, initially posted on Digital-Info and re-published on XtremeSystems, purport to show the 4200+ up and running. Unfortunately, the test utility CPU-Z reports the chip as an Athlon 64 2200+, but the 2.6GHz clock speed, 1MB of L2 cache and presence of SSE 3 instructions suggest the part is a second-generation 90nm part, codenamed San Diego. San Diego is due for release during H1 2005, according to AMD's public roadmap, but some sources have pointed to a Q1 debut. The arrival of the 4400+ is believed to be earmarked for Q2. AMD's roadmap also lists the arrival of Venice Athlon 64s during H1, although their placement suggests a lesser spec than San Diego - most likely a reduced, 512KB L2 cache size. To date, the fastest Athlon 64 AMD is the 2.4GHz 4000+. ® Related stories Japan calls Intel to task over anti-AMD rebates AMD filing off by a few words AMD invests in Intel accuser AMD slashes processor prices AMD unveils next-gen 90nm Opterons AMD's 2006 roadmap - details emerge
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Atop chief accused of selling stolen AMD chips

AMD has accused the chairman of Atop, a Taiwanese electronics firm, of masterminding the theft and re-sale of 60,000 dud chips earlier this year, according to police sources cited by local media. Atop chairman Chen Yue-han denies the allegations, Chinese-language newspaper the Liberty Times reports, by way of DigiTimes. The paper said that AMD has begun legal action against Chen. The paper cited Taiwanese police sources. According to Liberty Times, Chen said he was involved in 2003 in the legal importation and sale of secondhand AMD processors. Along with a fellow, unnamed, Atop shareholder, Chen formed a company called DCP, based in Singapore. DCP acquired, cleaned and re-tested a large quantity of used chips before selling them on to companies around the world. Police in Taiwan sized the dud chips in January following a tip-off from AMD's Taiwan operation. The CPUs, a mix of 32-bit and 64-bit parts, were said to be defective and earmarked for destruction. According to police reports, the chips came out of AMD's Singapore testing plant and should have been destroyed two years ago. At the time of the seizure, more than 1m such parts, then valued at TW$300m ($9.4m) had already been shipped to China and Germany, Liberty Times says. Atop has not commented on the Liberty Times story, but AMD told The Register is had not engaged in legal action against Chen or made any public accusations against him. ® Related stories Forged Maxtor HDDs turn up in Japan AMD CPUs to sport anti-fake holograms Police grab 60,000 AMD CPUs
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Student in High School zombie terror threat

An 18-year-old US student is today behind bars after police uncovered his plot to raise a zombie army and attack his high school. The wannabe Papa Doc Duvalier's chilling plan was uncovered after the youth's grandparents discovered his written proposal for the outrage in Winchester, Kentucky, lex18.com reports. Mercifully, William Poole was cuffed before he could execute his macabre scheme. He faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge after investigators discovered "materials at Poole's home that outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers, and police". Naturally, the fledgling Baron Samedi has claimed that the writings were nothing more than a short story he penned for his English class. He said: "My story is based on fiction. It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, [and] the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies." "It didn't mention nobody who lives in Clark County, didn't mention [George Rogers Clark High School], didn't mention no principal or cops, nothing. Half the people at high school know me. They know I'm not that stupid, that crazy." Despite his protestations, the authorities have wisely decided to cage the miscreant youth. Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill noted: "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky." Accordingly, a judge last week reflected the seriousness of threatening your high school with annihilation at the hands of the undead by raising Poole's bond from one to five thousand dollars at the request of prosecutors. He is currently reflecting on his folly in the Clark County Detention Center. ® Related stories Bomb disposal disarms napalm-making teen Florida teacher cuffed for bomb-making classes Police cuff US student keystroke logger
Lester Haines, 08 Mar 2005

Updata inks LLU deal with Dorset

Local loop operators Updata has won yet another public sector contract to provide unbundled high speed services to the public sector. The Reigate-based company struck a £4.7m deal with Dorset County Council to provide a managed DSL broadband service for up to 29 of Dorset's 75 exchanges. The five-year contract will provide symmetrical DSL services (SDSL) at speeds of between 2 and 10 Meg to 243 council buildings, including 193 schools and 34 libraries, in the first year. More than 100 additional council buildings have been earmarked for connection in the following year. Small businesses in broadband blackspots will also be able to hook to the service. Updata has now unbundled - or is in the process of unbundling - 70 exchanges across the country under eight public sector projects including agreements with Bedfordshire, North Somerset and Pembrokeshire. According to its own projections, it should have unbundled around 100 exchanges by late summer. Updata director Vic Baldorino said that LLU - the process that enables rival companies to provide telecoms services direct to end users by-passing BT - is getting easier. "When we first started we were confronted by a lot of red tape," he said. "But now we have a good working relationship with BT." Exchanges are ready for hand-over within two or three months and costs have come down. While 80 per cent of the LLU process is working, the rest still needs refining, he said. Baldorino's comments support the latest assessment by the UK's telecoms adjudicator which said that LLU in the UK is improving. ® Related stories UK LLU improving says Telecoms Adjudicator Easynet invests more in LLU Updata goes a bundle on UK local loop unbundling
Tim Richardson, 08 Mar 2005
SGI logo hardware close-up

Zeus Technology raises £3m

Zeus Technology has raised £3m in third round funding from Scottish Equity Partners and Cazenove Private Equity. The money will be spent on sales and marketing activities for Zeus's Extensible Traffic Manager (ZXTM) product. ZXTM launched April last year to help manage and optimise traffic around busy websites. Cazenove Private Equity has invested in Zeus for several years and predicts the firm will soon be seeing faster growth. Tod Bensen, chief executive at Cazenove Private Equity, said: "the company is poised to enter a period of rapid growth." The Cambridge-based firm launched a cheaper version of its product earlier this month. Zeus, which started in 1994, claims 800 customers with over one million websites. Customers include BT, blueyonder, dooyoo, eBay, Expansys, Thus and Telefonica Data .® Related stories Websites strain under net traffic load Zeus throttles app-level DoS attacks Zeus not what the Doctor ordered?
John Oates, 08 Mar 2005

Britain talks tough on stem cell research

The UK will today vote against a UN general assembly committee proposal to ban all forms of human cloning. British stem cell research advocates recently slammed the "political" vote which carried the nonbinding statement, and intends to walk it like it talks it at the full UN general assembly. The Government today said: "The UN declaration is non-binding and has no legal status, but it calls on countries to prohibit all forms of human cloning. This is totally unacceptable to the UK government which strongly supports stem cell research, including embryonic stem cell research which involves the use of cloning technology. Stem cell research could lead to new treatments for serious and fatal diseases that affect millions of people." On the highly controversial issue of "reproductive cloning", UK health secretary John Reid says: "Reproductive cloning is already illegal in the UK. Anyone attempting it in this country faces a 10-year prison sentence and unlimited fine. However, the UK Government supports all types of stem cell research, including those involving therapeutic cloning. Stem cell research is still in its infancy but it has the potential to revolutionise medicine in this century in a way that antibiotics did in the last. The Government is determined to use every opportunity to let science find ways to cure diseases." He notes that the UN declaration is "non-binding and will make no difference whatsoever to the position of stem cell research in the UK: therapeutic cloning will continue to be allowed. The UK remains 'open for business' in stem cell research." The UK's stance is endorsed by stem cell research supporters such as Belgium and Singapore. It is opposed most notably by the US, which backed the non-binding statment. Islamic nations have already said they will abstain on the vote "in the absence of a consensus". ® Related stories UN committee backs human cloning ban Congress seeks stem cell side-step UK scientists want £100m stem cell foundation
Lester Haines, 08 Mar 2005

High Definition and the future of viewing

AnalysisAnalysis Over the past 20 years, the potential of high definition (HD) has seen development in a number of interlinked fields - broadcasting, consumer electronics and pre-packaged content.
Screen Digest, 08 Mar 2005

Sony preps iPod Shuffle 'killer'

Sony will next month ship its 'iPod Shuffle killer', a compact Flash-based music player with up to 1GB of storage. What distinguishes the Sony product - apart from the distinctly disposable lighter styling - is the integration of an OLED read-out into the player's casing. The device doesn't have a screen as such - track details, the time and tuner station information - appear on the surface of the player. Sony will offer two models, one with an FM tuner (NW-E50x) and one without (NW-40x), both in 512MB and 1GB versions, and each available in a range of colours, including... er... "froth tea silver" if our translation software is to be believed. Other colours include midnight black, ocean blue, rose pink and olive green. A limited edition gold version is on the cards too. In addition to the usual Sony support for ATRAC 3 and ATRAC 3 Plus, the players will support MP3 natively. The unit measures 8.5 x 2.9 x 1.4cm and weighs 47g. While it connects via USB, the player appears to have a non-standard connector, so it won't connect directly to a PC's USB port, just the bundled cable. Sony claims the devices will operate for a staggering 50 hours on a single charge, but that's when playing back 105Kbps ATRAC 3 files in "power saving mode". It's not clear what this mode is - presumably it's with no EQ and the display turned off. Still, it's a big leap over the Shuffle's 18-hour play time. If it's long playback times you want, Sony also announced today a 70-hour capable player, the NW-E10x, available with 256MB, 512MB and 1GB of Flash storage. Unlike the NW-E40x and NW-E50x, the circular-shaped NW-10x is powered by a AA battery rather than an internal rechargeable cell, charged over by USB. It too is available in a range of colours: silver, blue, "velvet" and orange. The NW-10x will ship on 21 March for ¥10,000 (256MB NW-E103), ¥14,000 (512MB NW-E105) and ¥20,000 (1GB NW-E105). The radio-less NW-E405 (512MB) and NW-E407 (1GB) will retail for around ¥17,000 ($162/£85) and ¥22,000 ($209/£109), respectively, on 21 April. So will the FM-capable NW-E505 (512MB) and NW-E507 (1GB), for around ¥20,000 ($190/£99) and ¥25,000 ($238/£124), respectively. ® Related stories Stringer takes top spot at Sony Apple faces iPod, iTunes patent violation claims Sony slays Beatles-Metallica hybrid Apple music store downloads top 300m Sony Ericsson launches 'Walkman' Europe probes 'rip off' Apple iTunes pricing Sony preps 'iPod killer' - again
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

Siemens to cut phone biz costs by €1bn

Siemens will reduce costs at its loss-making mobile phone division by €1bn ($1.3bn) to bring the unit back to profitability. The German giant had already announced plans to cut up to €600m ($793m) during the company's current fiscal year, which ends in September. But today the company's communications division chief, Lothar Pauly, said another €400m ($529m) worth of cuts will be made. The axe will fall most heavily on marketing and advertising budgets. Also R&D spending will be cut 15 per cent over the next three years. The group will introduce 15 new handsets in 2005 - by comparison, Nokia will launch 40 models this year. Siemens' mobile phone business lost €143m ($189m) during its most recently completed quarter, Q1 FY2005. Quarterly sales fell year on year from €1.49bn ($1.97bn) to €1.17bn ($1.55), down 21.5 per cent. Unit shipments fell from 15.2m units in Q1 FY2004 to 13.5m in the three months to 31 December 2004. The company's average handset selling price fell year on year from €98 ($129) to €86 ($113), a figure Pauly described as "dismal". He re-iterated that Siemens is still considering selling off its mobile phone business, spinning it off, merging it with another company, or even shutting it down altogether. The cost-cutting programme announced today, in addition to the cost-reduction schemes already in place, make all but the last of these options more likely. In the past four months or so, it has been claimed Siemens entered into exploratory sell-off talks with South Korea's LG and, separately, China's Ningbo Bird. However, both parties have denied any interest in the loss-making German operation. ® Related stories Siemens readies digital TV, VoIP Wi-Fi handsets Mobile phones shipments up 38% in Q4 Siemens delays decision on handset biz fate LG rejects interest in Siemens mobile biz LG sniffing round Siemens mobile phone biz Siemens mobile arm for sale or closure China rejects Siemens phone business
Tony Smith, 08 Mar 2005

C&W axes 480 more jobs

Cable and Wireless (C&W) is to axe 480 jobs in the UK to help trim overheads. The job losses are on top of those announced by the UK telco in November when 600 jobs were earmarked for the chop in the UK and Europe. Many of those jobs were zapped as part of C&W's decision to close its head office in London and relocate to Bracknell. Many of the job losses in this round of cuts will centre on the UK's sales and marketing division plus its network operation. C&W's UK headcount stands at around 4,500. These latest job cuts will take numbers to just above 4,000. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is scathing about the cuts and says it will do everything in its power to support and back its members to protect their jobs. However, the CWU is not recognised by C&W, which refuses to enter negotiations with the union. Attacking C&W, CWU organiser Dougie Rafferty said: "This is becoming an annual event for our members in C&W. These 480 jobs represent 10 per cent of the ever diminishing and demoralised workforce." A spokesman for C&W said that if the telco is to be successful then "it has to have a lower cost base than rivals". ® Related stories C&W to axe 600 jobs Cable & Wireless slashes 1,500 jobs C&W touts wholesale line rental
Tim Richardson, 08 Mar 2005

UK card fraud hits £505m

the banking industry hopes that losses in future will be contained by schemes such as Chip and PIN. UK losses to credit card fraud soared last year to £504m, up 20 per cent on 2003, according to the annual report by banking organisation APACS. Card-not-present fraud (CNP) continues to be the biggest single type of fraud tup by 24 per cent to £150.8m in 2004). APACS said these losses grew in line with the growth of businesses now offering transactions made by phone, fax or online. Identity theft (fraudulent applications and account takeover) was up 22 per cent, but accounted for only £36.9m in losses. Counterfeit (skimmed/cloned) cards accounted for losses of £129.7m (up 17 per cent) while stolen or lost plastic is blamed for £114.4m in fraudulent transactions, many of which took place at cash machines. Fraud at UK cash machines grew by 81 per cent to £74.6m in 2004, up from £41.1m in 2003. Chip and SPIN Altogether fraud on lost and stolen cards and counterfeit cards accounted for almost half (48 per cent) of all losses. APACS reckons that the widespread use of chip and PIN will stem these losses, achieving the results of similar schemes in continental Europe. However online anti-fraud organisation Early Warning reckons Chip and PIN is has less to do with reducing fraud and more to do with card firms offloading their liabilities to merchants in cases of theft. Chip and PIN will merely displace credit card fraud onto the internet rather than reducing overall losses, the organisation says. Early Warning managing director Andrew Goodwill said: “Our figures very much back up the view that Chip & PIN is simply displacing the fraud problem into CNP sales channels rather than solving the problem per se. When the fraud is perpetrated in this way, the retailer is fully liable and the card companies can simply ignore the problem. What is happening is that the retailer effectively gets screwed twice – once by the fraudster and then again by the card company taking its fees on the fraudulent sale.” Credit card firm schemes for detecting fraud - Verified by Visa and MasterCard’s SecureCode system - require the credit card owner to register their details on the programme. "To date both of these systems have suffered from very disappointing numbers of cardholder and retailer sign up," according to Early Warning. Phishing losses on the up APACS notes the roll-out of Chip and PIN is bringing its own short-term problems. The unusually high number of cards - around 200,000 a day - sent out due to the roll out of Chip and PIN last year was accompanied by a rise in losses from cards never received by consumers. Mail non-receipt losses came out at £72.9m last year, up 62.7 per from 2003. The one bright spot in the otherwise uniform rise in plastic fraud painted by APACS is a reduction in overseas fraud by 11 per cent to £92.5m, an improvement attributed to the card companies' use of "increasingly sophisticated fraud intelligence systems to detect fraudulent spending on cards". As well as plastic card fraud, organised gangs also moved into other types of financial crime. In 2004 total losses for online banking fraud were recorded for the first time and reached £12m. The banking industry blames these losses on either straightforward phishing scams or the use of Trojans to capture security credentials through keystroke logging, a tactic which allows fraudsters to subsequently raid online banking accounts. The industry has established sites to help online banking consumers stay safe online and on how to protect themselves against identity theft. APACS’ fraud prevention website is here. ® Related stories Retailers set straight on Chip and PIN The chip and PIN insecurity card Trojan targets UK online bank accounts Big guns back UK IT security drive Four charged in landmark UK phishing case Chip and PIN intro fuels mini-boom in card crime Credit card crime squad celebrates success US hit for $548m in fraud losses
John Leyden, 08 Mar 2005

German ISP told to cough up customer's details

German ISPs may have to provide customer data to law enforcement agencies without a court order. The latest issue of the German specialist journal New Law Weekly cites a ruling by the District Court in Stuttgart, in which telecom giant T-Online was asked to hand over details of an unknown customer who was suspected of trading porn. All the police had was an IP address. Initially, T-Mobile refused to hand over details, arguing there was no written court order, which is mandatory under the German Telecommunications Act. The District Court, however, rejected the complaint and said there was enough reason to believe that the person behind the IP address was responsible for the distribution of porn. The implications of this ruling are uncertain. The big question is whether ISPs in the future may have to bow to the demands of holders of music or video rights. So far, that hasn't been the case. Recently, the German Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt-on-the-Main rejected the claim by a music group to hand over the name of a customer who allegedly ran an illegal music server. ® Related stories German courts go techno Music biz serves writ on German IT site German court protects P2P ne'er-do-well
Jan Libbenga, 08 Mar 2005

Domain seller leaves thousands in limbo

UpdatedUpdated Thousands of UK domain owners have been left in limbo by the actions of Cambridge-based registrar Firevision. Customers have been flooding internet message boards complaining that attempts to buy, move, update and renew domains names through Firevision have been faced with a brick wall. The owner, 27-year-old Graham Briggs, has not replied to emails or phonecalls. However, reports that the company is in liquidation are incorrect. Companies House lists the company as being put under the authority of the Official Receiver in November last year. However the company's debts were paid in December, the local receiver's office informed us, the wind-up order was rescinded and the company is entitled to trade as before. Except it doesn't appear to be trading. There is no mention of the wind-up order or the company's current status on its website. Briggs, who started the company with his wife in 1999, is also not responding to emails or phonecalls to his mobile (which is now dead) or his home. The company isoverdue with its accounts. The last record was left with Companies House in April 2001, the most recent was due in February 2003 - over a year ago. In 2001, the company gave a stated loss of £11,320 on revenue of £77,588. The UK registry Nominet, which runs all .uk domains and authorises registrars, told us that the problem has not yet registered on its radar. Eleanor Bradley, its director of operations, told us that if it get reports of problems, it will investigate them but that it has "certainly not been inundated" over Firevision. She declined to discuss individual cases, but her advice for uncertain domain holders is clear. "In general principle, if you are not happy with your registrar, there is the option to go elsewhere." There are fairly frequent liquidations of registrars and Nominet even has a page on its website explaining what to do. The difficulty however lies in the fact that Firevision appears to be still operating. Domain holders can, for £15 a time move their domain to another registrar, although any more than two is still charged at £30. Bradley was keen to dispel the myth that domain holders will also have to renew their domains through Nominet at £80. If they transfer their domain to another registrar they will be able to renew the domain through them, and that should work out far cheaper, she explained. With regard to the unknown status of Firevision, Bradley assured us that Nominet keeps a close eye on its tag holders (registrars) and that if it becomes clear it is a big problem it will ultimately contact all affected domain holders itself. ® Update Graham Briggs, owner of Firevision, has got in touch. He told us: "We're trying to sort things out at the moment, but email support became really difficult last year due to spam." He claims to have received 10,000 spams a day and to have been out of contact recently due to illness. But his intention is to get to grips with the situation and "the long term aim is to sell the customer base to another company", he told us. "In the meantime," he advises, "customers should contact the company at support@support.firevision.net or me personally at mail@graham-briggs.co.uk." Firevision is still registering new domains and Mr Briggs assures us that it is still making nameserver and tag changes on existing domains. "Top level whois changes can also be done at https://manage.opensrs.net/, a facility provided by the registry we utilise," he explained. He also intends to put a notice up on the Firevision site explaining the situation. Although as of 12pm on Wednesday 9 March, nothing has appeared. Related links Firevision Nominet liquidation advice
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Mar 2005

Olympus Camedia C-370 Zoom

ReviewReview The C-370 is about as easy to use as a digital camera can be without taking the shots for you. Its very basic specification makes this is an ideal camera for technophobes. Priced at a remarkable - for a three megapixel camera, anyway - £120 this camera looks almost too good to be true, writes Doug Harman. Special menus explain what each of the camera's four scene modes do, each selected using a small dial positioned to fall nicely under the right thumb. The scene modes on offer are portrait, self-portrait, night scene and landscape. You also get a fun movie mode offering 320 x 240 movies with sound and recording to the limit of the xD Picture card storage. Exposure control is run through an accomplished Program Auto exposure mode that provides true point-and-shoot ease of use. PictBridge support allows shots to printed off directly from any compatible printers without the need to transfer pictures to a PC first. The 3x zoom lens has an unremarkable 38-114mm focal range, but it's more than adequate for this camera's typical user and has a respectably fast F2.9 maximum aperture. The C-370's stand-out feature has to be its great 2cm macro mode. It works well and provides stunning, frame-filling close-up capability. However, there are a couple of problems. The most irritating is the lack of a custom set-up feature that allows you to set the camera for repeated use within the same mode; it always 'resets' back to the default settings. This means you have to repeatedly set the camera up again, each time you turn it on - even the quality setting isn't retained. Picture quality is reasonable at best, with a fair amount of noise though, particularly in the blue channel, and the camera's processing algorithm seems unable to deal with it. However, it's not all bad news. The largest print size likely to be printed from a camera such as this is never likely going to be bigger than the 6 x 4in area and at that size, noise problems are not intrusive allowing for nice looking prints. Verdict A combination of ease of use, simple specification, nice handling and a super price make this camera good value for its target audience. Problems with image quality probably won't become an issue considering the price and sheer pocketability of the C-370. Olympus Camedia C-370 Zoom   Rating 70%   Pros Size and simplicity, plus ease of use combined with a great price for a three-megapixel camera.   Cons Image noise and the lack of custom setting modes.   Price £120   More info The Olympus site Recent Reviews Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router Nokia 9300 Communicator Apple 15in PowerBook G4 Sony Vaio VGN-FS115B 'Sonoma' notebook Bose SoundDock iPod speakers Firebox VoIP Cyberphone IBM ThinkPad T42p mobile workstation
Pocket Lint, 08 Mar 2005

Battling teen crushes roboarm menace

Just as we at the neoLuddite Resistance Army were putting the final touches to a truly chilling round-up of the inexorable Rise of the Machines™, (due for publication this Friday - prepare your spines for X-rated tingling), we received news that a 17-year-old high school student has crushed a fledgling uprising of arm-wresting robolimbs. Panna Felsen - a name now elevated to the Pantheon of Glory here at the NRA - arm-wrestled into submission a trio of experimental cyberarms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California. The contest was apparently set up to "encourage the development of polymer-based artificial muscles". Organiser Yoseph Bar-Cohen say the whole project is aimed at "improving on existing actuators - or muscles - currently used in prosthetics and robots". According to New Scientist: "Electric motors tend to be too weak, while hydraulics and pneumatics are too heavy for use in robotics or prosthetics. EAPs [electroactive polymers], in comparison are lightweight, quiet and capable of energy densities similar to biological muscles." Those readers not au fait with electroactive polymers should note that they are "plastics that can change shape when activated either electrically or with chemicals" - a concept which has Lizard Alliance written all over it. Sadly for the three teams competing in the arm-wresting challenge (two from the US, and one from Switzerland), the battling teen easily overcame her adversaries "in a matter of seconds", leaving the unfortunate developers to report abject failure to their dark masters*. This is not an end to the matter, however. Bar-Cohen says the ultimate aim of the EAP plan is to produce a robotic arm which can defeat the strongest human. Tune in on Friday to discover why this scheme holds the terrifying prospect of humanity enslaved to murderous self-replicating hoovers serviced by monkey-brain-controlled EAP-powered limbs. In the meantime - be safe out there. ® Technical note *The price of failure is, we understand, to be dumped unceremoniously into a pit heaving with enraged cyberloos. It's the least they deserve. The Rise of the Machines™ French join motorised Lizard Alliance Lizard Army develops copulating robot We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace Lizard Army invades Alaska London menaced by flaming DVD players Killer hoover attacks Scotsman Car self-destructs in assassination bid The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Japanese unveil trumpet-playing robot Boffins unleash robotic cockroach Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated US develops motorised robobollard Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie A robot in every home by 2010 Cyberappliances attack Italian village Fire-breathing buses threaten London Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent Spanish cyberkiosks claim second victim Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager Hi-tech toilet caught on camera Hi-tech toilet swallows woman
Lester Haines, 08 Mar 2005

DNS cache poisoning bugs hits Symantec shops

Crackers are using a security vulnerability in Symantec's enterprise products to redirect surfers to websites hosting malicious code. The main vector of the DNS cache poisoning attack, detected by the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Centre on 4 March, has been traced back to a vulnerability affecting Symantec firewalls with DNS caching. Symantec has issued a hotfix for its Symantec Enterprise Firewall and Enterprise Security Gateway appliance products. Even users who applied a July 2004 fix to correct a previous DNS cache poisoning problem are advised to revisit the issue. A few non-Symantec users reported similar issues, so the problem is not solely confined to Symantec firewall users. The SANS Institute, which is tracking the issue, has issued general advice on dealing with the problem. As a result of the attack, enterprise users visiting popular domain names such as google.com, ebay.com, and weather.com were redirected to servers hosting malware (the ABX toolbar spyware). The spyware was loaded using an ActiveX-controlled blocked by XP SP2, but other Windows shops will have to clean up client machines as well as patch enterprise systems. ® Related stories Of mad snipers and cyber- terrorists Caught in a BIND Phishing morphs into pharming Bofra exploit tied to 'massive botnet'
John Leyden, 08 Mar 2005

Arizona tags naughty file-trader

An Arizona youngster has earned the dubious distinction of being the first person convicted under state laws for pulling copyrighted songs and films off P2P networks. The Feds tend to dominate copyright cases, but in the case of of Parvin Dhaliwal, Arizona stepped in to charge the boy with a crime. The University of Arizona student pleaded guilty to IP (intellectual property) violations in exchange for a three-month deferred prison sentence, 3 years probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine, according to an AP report. Quite comically, a judge commanded Dhaliwal to attend a university class on copyrights as well. That'll learn him. Arizona prosecutors moved forward with the case because Dhaliwal, at 17, was only a minor when first charged. He's 18 now. "His age was a big factor," Krystal Garza, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office told AP. "If it went into federal court, it's a minimum of three months in jail up front." Dhaliwal separated himself from many of the college pirates out there in that he was accused of selling the material downloaded from the internet. Not the best way to give file traders a good name. ® Related stories German ISP told to cough up customer's details Leaked Doctor Who episode available for download Kazaa Oz lawsuit wows the crowd BPI nails 'music pirates'
Ashlee Vance, 08 Mar 2005

Oracle puts $525m between SAP and Retek

Oracle continues to prove its passion for acquisition and annoyance. It announced an offer today for software maker Retek that beats out an earlier bid from rival SAP. Oracle said it will make a tender offer on Wednesday for Retek of $9 per share in cash or close to $525m. That's considerably more than the $8.50 per share - or $496m - bid placed last week by SAP. Retek specializes in retail software used to track inventory and to control distribution systems. "Oracle's Applications business in North America is larger than SAP's," said Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison. "We intend to defend our number one position." Keeping things really interesting, Oracle revealed that it purchased 5.5m shares of Retek stock this week. That amount is close to 10 per cent of Retek's outstanding stock. Retek's board had already approved and recommended the SAP purchase. The company pulled in $174m last year and has more than 200 customers. Neither SAP nor Retek immediately returned calls seeking comment. SAP must know it's in for a real battle after seeing Oracle's protracted effort to buy PeopleSoft. Database Larry won't give in anytime soon. ® Related stories SAP plays down Microsoft threat Ellison confounds sceptics over PeopleSoft Let's play the Magic Quadrant game Oracle finally has its prize
Ashlee Vance, 08 Mar 2005