10th > March > 2005 Archive

Chicago tries to sneak Wi-Fi network past Illinois

City versus state squabbles over Wi-Fi networks have reached the hilarity zone here in the US, as officials on both sides try to slip networking laws past each other. Chicago Alderman Edward Burke has gone into bureaucratic overdrive, hoping to craft legislation that will guarantee the city's right to run its own Wi-Fi service. Speed is key in this situation because the Illinois General Assembly will soon consider a ban on city-funded broadband networks. Chicago officials see a citywide wireless network as a potential revenue source, a way to bridge the digital divide and a means of attracting tourists. State officials, meanwhile, appear intent on making sure service providers can control wireless networks. The most publicized city/state Wi-Fi spat took place last year in Philadelphia. City officials revealed plans for an ambitious wireless network that would be free for all residents and available at a low cost to tourists. Once word of the network hit the papers, the telco and service provider lobby swung into action. The lobbyists convinced state officials to push through legislation making it impossible for cities to set up networks unless the vendors turn down the projects first. Funny enough, Philly can go forward with its plan, thanks to the kind people at Verizon. Other cities in Pennsylvania, however, must bend to the telcos' will. This kind of fighting can't be good news for consumers, who have already waited years for decent, cheap broadband services. And if you think Philadelphia and Chicago are exceptions, you're wrong. Have a look at Houston or what's going on in 14 other states said to have enacted similar municipal wireless-blocking legislation. (That is if you believe pod person Larry Lessig.) Chicago, like many other cities, sees Wi-Fi as a type of public service. A whopping 78 libraries pump out free wireless. Officials want to complement this service with 7,500 wireless antennas placed atop light poles. An official told local papers such as a service would cost about $18.5m to roll out. The city could make up the costs by charging a small fee to locals and a higher fee to tourists. Chicago could also divvy up revenue with Starbucks, Hiltons and the like. Telcos and coffee shops would obviously like to control the flow of information and payments for broadband networks. But is such intense lobbying against this type of public service necessary? Many consumers and most business will still pay for their own service, hoping to guarantee privacy, security and performance. There should be plenty of room for the city to provide Wi-Fi as a public good. This is the Information Age, after all. ® Related stories Municipal Wi-Fi access schemes unjust - report Abuses of the English language, ID cards... Telcos could block free wireless in Philly Cellular Nation looks perky again Philly goes Wi-Fi crazy
Ashlee Vance, 10 Mar 2005

EasyMobile keeps schtum on tariffs

EasyMobile is on the verge of launching its discount mobilephoneco in the UK, according to the Evening Standard. The London newspaper reports that easyMobile - which is run by Danish telecoms outfit, TDC, piggybacks on T-Mobile's network and operates under the Easy brand - will charge a flat rate of 9p a minute for UK calls and 3p for text messages. Typically, mobile phone charges can range from 5p to 30p a minute depending on network operator charges and the time of day calls are made. EasyMobile has said its discount phone service would launch in the UK sometime in March. Details of easyMobile's pricing are not currently available on its website. EasyMobile chief exec Frank Rasmussen declined to comment on the pricing. He also declined to say when the service would be launched in the UK. It could be today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that. Or the... ® Related stories Orange sues Stelios for 'passing off' First MVNO hopeful throws hat into Irish ring Stelios eyes Europe for easyMobile service easyMobile set for March launch Stelios confirms no-frills mobile outfit
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005
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Why IBM needs ETL

CommentComment IBM needs to develop a modern, fully-functional ETL capability - as opposed to the relatively limited capabilities that are currently provided by Warehouse Manager. Or it needs to buy one. There are two reasons why. The first is because arch-rival Oracle has one. Worse, Oracle Warehouse Builder, in its latest incarnation, is pretty good. Also, Microsoft is doing a lot to expand its capabilities in this area, in the forthcoming Yukon release of SQL Server. However, it is Oracle that is the driver for IBM (if you see what I mean). It is fair to say that ETL in the database is useful only up to a point. It probably isn't the best approach if you have heterogeneous databases across your organisation and, in any case, not all data integration tasks are just about moving data into a database. So, taken in isolation, IBM might have a reasonable argument in maintaining that it will continue to rely on partners, such as Ascential and Informatica, for ETL. However, it is no longer feasible to treat ETL in isolation, which brings me on to my second reason. I have been maundering on about the synergies that exist between ETL and data federation (or EII) for some time, suggesting that there is so much correlation between these two technologies that it makes sense to have a single engine that supports both. But that contention was not borne out by any major players within the market – until now. Recently, both Sunopsis and Informatica have announced that they will be supporting both ETL and data federation (and more in the case of Sunopsis) directly from a single platform. So, now let's turn this argument round: IBM is the major player in the data federation space with WebSphere (formerly called DB2 but still actually a DB2 product) Information Integrator. The question arises as to whether IBM can maintain this leadership position once there are other significant vendors (which there aren't – much – today) in the market that are offering a broader range of capability? The obvious rebuttal from IBM is for it to say that it offers broader capability, in the sense that it offers content as well as data integration capabilities. But Informatica is also planning to be able to move documents and other so-called unstructured data around. So that response won't wash. The bottom line, from my perspective, is that IBM needs to be able to offer ETL as a component within WebSphere Information Integrator, as a separately licensed module, just as Replication is today. It might be billed as Warehouse Manager, but it needs to share technology with WebSphere Information Integrator (for example, a single transformation engine) if it is to be credible. Fortunately, IBM has time on its side: Informatica, for example, will not be completing the expansion of its products into data federation until 2006 (though Sunopsis is this year), but IBM should be seriously considering what its plans are, right now. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories Mixed blessings for Informix users Sun could quell database hunger with Unify buy IBM moves the database goalposts Sybase partners with IBM Linux set for ERP ascendency IBM benchmark leaves server rivals breathless The problem with Informix Oracle rebuilds Warehouse
Philip Howard, 10 Mar 2005

Voda preps cheapo service - Sarin

Vodafone is prepping a low cost service for the "five to fifteen per cent share of customers who do not want support", CEO Arun Sarin said yesterday. "In no market will we be late with an offer of this kind," he told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, by way of Heise Online. Question is: will the mobile operator launch with a Vodafone Lite brand - or trawl for bottom feeders with a virtual mobile operator in tow? In the UK, T-Mobile and 02 have chosen to go the MVNO rout, hanging out with Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile, respectively. Sarin also revealed that the company is designing a voice tariff structure that will be based on the location of the customer. He says this will "totally transform the current price structure paradigm", which probably means discounts when making local calls. Vodafone anticipates 80 per cent of future growth will come organically and 20 per cent through acquisition. It is gunning for big gains in Eastern Europe especially, Sarin told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The company is in "advanced talks" to buy two mobile operators in eastern Europe for up to $4bn, The FT reports today. It wants buy out the 79 per cent it does not already own in Mobifon of Romania and also to buy Oskar Mobil, of the Czech Republic, both from TIW, a Montreal-based holding company. ® Related stories Vodafone signs big distie deals Orange shuts out adult content T-Mobile and Voda face monopoly abuse rap UK unfurls ratings system for adult content on mobiles US telcos Sprint for the line Mobile operators need IT know-how mmO2 posts 'strong' Q3 Vodafone hits 150m customers
Drew Cullen, 10 Mar 2005
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Oyster clams up

Thousands of London commuters travelled for free this morning after the Tube's Oyster card payment system clammed up. A snag with the system's scanner pads - which read travellers' smartcards and deducts cash for their trip - meant that ticket barriers were left open this morning on London's underground network allowing people to travel for free. One reader told us: "Seems that Oyster smartcard system has taken a deep dive into a shallow pool - no Oyster readers anywhere on the London Underground network are functioning at all." A spokeswoman for Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that the system had failed but reported that most of it was up and running again by 10.00am. Last month TfL began exploring new ways of using the Oyster payment system - which lets punters charge up the cards with cash - to pay for items such as newspapers, milk and car-parking. ® Related stories U2 says soz for online snafu BOFH: Goin' underground Londoners top world in leaving laptops in taxis
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005
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Novell woos CeBIT with SUSE Linux 9.3

Novell announced the April release of SUSE Linux 9.3, the next version of its consumer Linux software, today at CeBIT. SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 will include a complete Linux operating system featuring a complete set of desktop applications and home networking capabilities. It is pitched as a reliable and secure alternative to Windows suitable for both experienced users and Linux newbies. SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 comes with a wide range of consumer applications including an office suite (OpenOffice.org 2.0); Firefox Web browser; email and instant messaging clients. It will come bundled with a range of graphics and multimedia applications including F-Spot photo organizer, the GIMP 2.2 and Inkscape graphics programs, multimedia viewers and CD/DVD burners. It will also feature the latest tools for setting up a secure home network (an integrated firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner), running a Web server and application development. Mono 1.1.4, KDevelop 3.2 and Eclipse 3.0.1 are all available out of the box. The release is built on the 2.6.11 kernel and offers support for the latest KDE 3.4 and GNOME 2.10 desktop environments. SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 also offers a sneak peek into upcoming server-based Linux, including the XEN virtualization environment and "intuitive search engines". Mobility improvements were a key theme in SUSE Linux Professional 9.2. Novell has developed this in 9.3 with better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection software, souped-up PDA and phone synchronization and enhanced Voice over IP support. Users can run SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 on both standard 32-bit PC processors as well as 64-bit platforms (AMD Athlon 64 and Intel Extended Memory 64bit-based systems). SUSE Linux Professional 9.3, comes with installation guides and 90 days support, and ships in mid-April with at a suggested retail price of €77.54 (excluding sales tax). Customers of earlier versions can purchase an update for €51.68 (excluding sales tax). US pricing will be announced in mid-April. ® Related stories Desktop Linux cracks Freak Mainstream Red Hat readies new release Mobile add-ons star in SUSE LINUX Professional 9.2 Is Linux security a myth?
John Leyden, 10 Mar 2005

Wireless in the spotlight at CeBIT

Visitors to this year's CeBIT trade fair have been greeted by an array of technological marvels, and wireless firms seem be generating the greatest buzz. The annual week-long event in Hanover, Germany, which this year is expected to draw some 500,000 attendees, has been dominated by cutting-edge wireless technologies and gadgets, with a 7-megpixel digital camera phone from Samsung grabbing the most headlines. The firm demonstrated the SCH-V770 CDMA phone at the event, offering mobile operators and consumers a handset capable of better quality photographs than many pure-play digital cameras can deliver. Meanwhile, the German arm of UK-based mobile operator O2 has signed up to a wireless music downloading service developed by Nokia with Loudeye. First announced at the 3GSM World Congress last month, the music downloading service marks the latest effort by the industry to get into the music business. Sony Ericsson is also keen to get in on the wireless music action, previewing its W800 "Walkman" digital music player phone, which was officially launched at 3GSM in February. Not to be outdone, Nokia trumpeted its 6021 and 6030 models in Hanover, both of which have the ability to download and play music. With 3G (UMTS) technology now a common offering among European and US mobile phone operators, many handset makers are coming to market with new 3G phones. One such company is Siemens, which is showing off its FXG75 at CeBIT, a device that will sell for about €500 when it launches at the end of the year. Likewise, Motorola is at CeBIT with its V1150 clamshell 3G phone, which comes with a 2-megapixel camera and removable optional transflash memory. Meanwhile, the Motorola V1050, a 3G phone designed for Vodafone, comes with an MP3 player, removable transflash memory and a 1.23-megapixel video camera. On the network side, equipment maker Lucent noted at the fair that it had signed 14 contracts worth an estimated $200m with European wireless telecoms. Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, TP, Colt Telecommunications, Telefonica Moviles, Enterprise Digital Architects, Czech Radio and CenterTelecom were among the firms that inked agreements with Lucent. "We are at the beginning of a fundamental shift not only in the way networks operate, but also in the way people are accessing and using those networks. In Europe, for instance, we are seeing increased demand for such applications as home networking, IP-video and online gaming, as well as increased interest in using the latest innovations to improve productivity," said Patricia Russo, Lucent Technologies chairman and CEO. "As a result, many European carriers are investing in new technologies and services that will help them expand and enhance their current networks and offerings." © ENN Related stories Siemens ungags talking SMS Vodafone preps 3G, Wi-Fi palmtop smart phone Who needs 3G? 'Son of DAB' unleashes TV for phones
ElectricNews.net, 10 Mar 2005
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Taiwan police seize suspect chips

Taiwan police raided the premises of Atop Electronics on 8 March, seizing 75,000 'suspect' AMD CPUs and 25,000 fake STMicroelectronics flash memory chips, local paper the Liberty Times reports, via Digitimes. The AMD CPUs are said to be worth TWD600m ($19.4m) and the ST chips worth TWD200m ($6.45m), the paper added, citing Taiwanese police sources. However, AMD denied that any of its chips had been found and taken during the raid, which was mounted to locate tax and customs documentation, the chip maker said. It also denied previous Liberty Times reports that it was suing Atop's chairman for allegedly remarking dud AMD chips as latest-generation processors. In a raid earlier this year, Taiwanese police seized 60,000 AMD CPUs from an Atop customer. ® Related stories Atop chief accused of selling stolen AMD chips Forged Maxtor HDDs turn up in Japan AMD CPUs to sport anti-fake holograms Police grab 60,000 AMD CPUs
Drew Cullen, 10 Mar 2005

CPW halves cost of mobile phone calls

The Carphone Warehouse (CPW) has slashed the cost of its mobile phone service to trump the launch of a discount service from easyMobile. The thunder-stealing move will see the cost of calls for CPW's Fresh service halved to 7.5p a minute and 2.5p for texts. The new tariffs for Fresh - which has 120,000 users - come into force tomorrow. easyMobile will charge a flat rate of 9p a minute for UK calls and 3p for text messages, the Evening Standard reports today. The new mobile telco, - which is run by Danish telecoms outfit TDC, piggybacks on T-Mobile's network and operates under the Easy brand - declined our requests to comment on the story. But that hasn't stopped CPW from trying to scupper easyMobile's launch and, in particular, having a pop at its link with no-frills airline easyJet. Said CPW chief exec Charles Dunstone: "It's no coincidence that we've chosen today to launch our new Fresh tariffs. But the fact is that the mobile phone business is not an airline business. "The price of mobile phones and the price of mobile calling has been falling every year for the 15 years we've been in existence. There is a big market for simple, low cost, no frills, everyday calls. We've helped create it. We're the price and service leader. We'll stay the price and service leader." Fresh's new half-price deal - which will be reviewed after three months - will be carried out by punters receiving double the number of top-up credits for their cash. ® Related stories EasyMobile keeps schtum on tariffs Orange sues Stelios for 'passing off' Stelios eyes Europe for easyMobile service easyMobile set for March launch
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005
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Quantum opens web quotation tool to EMEA resellers

Quantum is bringing Quantum MarketPlace to resellers in Europe, a year after launching the web-based quotation tool in the US. Quantum Marketplace guides product selection, configuration, pricing and ordering information and incorporates advice on products from Certance, which was recently bought by Quantum. According to the storage vendor, the service will save resellers time and money and reduce mismatched configuration choices and pricing errors. Quantum Marketplace also integrates Opportunity Identification Program, the company's pre-sales support scheme. This enables resellers to register deals, secure competitive pricing for pre-registered sales leads and to gain extra discounts. Quantum's EMEA Partner sign-up page is here. ®
Team Register, 10 Mar 2005
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French security researcher fined

A French court has ruled that security researcher Guillaume Tena acted unlawfully in publishing proof of concept code to highlight security flaws in ViGuard, an antivirus product, from French company Tegam. Tena was given a suspended fine of €5,000 ($6,700 or £3,480) in a case that could have big implications for security research in France. Four years ago Tena (AKA Guillermito) released proof of concept code to highlight security bypass and worm evasion flaws in ViGuard. He produced exploits showing that Tegam's generic anti-virus failed to stop "100 per cent of known and unknown viruses" as claimed. Tena posted his findings to a French Usenet newsgroup in the summer of 2001 before re-publishing the research on a website in March 2002. Tegamd denounced Tena as a 'terrorist', and sent in the lawyers. In June 2002, Tena was prosecuted over alleged violations of French copyright law. Tegam argued a warez version of its software was used in Tena's tests and claimed that he decompiled or disassembled ViGuard and distributed part of its source code on his website. Tena denies these accusations. Tegam claims tens of thousands of ViGuard users in France. However, the product is little used outside the country. The case against Tena came to trial at a Tribunal correctionnel in Paris in January. A verdict - returned this week - found against the security researcher, who will be fined €5,000 if he re-offends within the next five years. Tegam is seeking damages against Tena in a separate civil case, due in court on 12 April. Although Tena's sentence could have been much more severe, French security researchers are alarmed at the potential impact of the case. "This ruling means publishing a security vulnerability or a proof of concept using reverse engineering or disassembly is now illegal in France," Chaouki Bekrar, a security consultant at K-OTik Security Research, told El Reg. ® Related stories Full disclosure put on trial in France California enacts full disclosure security breach law Elcomsoft not guilty DoJ retreats from Moscow Slammer: Why security benefits from proof of concept code Related links Tegam Vs. Tena Write-up of the case by K-OTik Security
John Leyden, 10 Mar 2005
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Security: your input required

Reg Reader StudiesReg Reader Studies It's that time of the month again when we ask you, our beloved readership, for your input on a matter of pressing import. And this time our quick tap on the IT barometer is about something we can all relate to: security. Malware, denial of service, spam, spyware, intrusion, phishing - all almost-human life is here. So, if you can spare us about five minutes of your valuable time to complete our fun-filled, anonymous survey, we'd be grateful. You can get right to it here. Thanks. ® Your industry needs you Sign up here to become a permanent member of our Reg Reader Studies Survey Panel. You'll get the occasional email alerting you to a new survey and may even get the chance to win Reg goodies. Good show.
Lester Haines, 10 Mar 2005

Oz investigators bust 'file-sharing' ISP

Australian anti-piracy operatives have raided an ISP suspected of using BitTorrent to "allow the pirating of hundreds of thousands of songs and video clips", as alleged by a Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) spokesman. MIPI investigators - acting without police support and bearing an "Anton Piller" search warrant used in civil proceedings - searched the premises of Swiftel Communications in Perth and seized "digital evidence relating to web pages and internet transactions consisting of both illegal sound recordings and illegal video clips", AP reports. MIPI General Manager Michael Speck declared the operation "a new and important development in our fight against internet music piracy". He alleged that Swiftel used BitTorrent "to link infringers to music clips and sound recordings", adding that MIPI believed "hundreds of thousands of downloads have been conducted during the last year in breach of copyright laws". Speck warned: "The record industry will continue to take legal action to protect its copyright whether it's on the internet or elsewhere. We will continue to act against ISPs who we believe are set up as vehicles for piracy." MIPI parent body, the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA), is currently in court pursuing a civil action against Kazaa owner Sharman Networks. ARIA claims that Sharman created the world's largest music piracy network, and also knew for what illegal purpose its software was being put and even encouraged such usage. The trial is expected to conclude later this month. ® Related stories Kazaa Oz lawsuit wows the crowd Kazaa trial opens with 'massive piracy' claim Consumer, privacy groups demand seat at Kazaa trial
Lester Haines, 10 Mar 2005

Willie Black enters Nominet advisory board election

It seems that UK registry Nominet really can't do without its ex-chairman Willie Black. We revealed at the end of January that the company had failed to find a replacement for Black, despite him announcing his intention to retire in September and officially leaving on 8 December. The chairman role has still to be filled but it seems that both Black and Nominet have struck on a solution - take him back in a non-paying role. Mr Black has put his name forward for the Public Advisory Board elections, starting this week and ending on 12 April. There are eight contenders for the three places this time, up from six last time and seven the time before that. Among them are current PAB members Clive Feather, Sebastien Lahtinen and Hazel Pegg. Also standing is ex-PAB member Ben Laurie who lost out this time last year. And then two new faces - Jason Johns of The Positive Internet Company and Simon Pearce of Xperience Web. And, of course, Dr Willie Black. According to the statements put out by all candidates, Dr Black was asked back by Nominet staff unable to deal with his loss: "Having announced my intention to leave Nominet, several members expressed regret that my skills, knowledge and experience would be lost. They have asked me to consider standing for the PAB and I now offer myself for election." Dr Black confirmed to us that it had been Nominet members urging him to stand that had swayed his mind. "It's only a day every couple of months," he told us, "and I think I can really help." He ruled out re-applying for his old chairman job though. Well you can hardly question whether Dr Black is suited to the job, is his expertise exactly what the company needs or does Nominet need fresh blood? "If the members don't want me, I've got plenty of other things to do," Black assured us. And it will be Nominet members that get to decide. Voting papers were sent out at the beginning of the week, the poll will close on 12 April, and the results will be announced on Wednesday 20 April. Whatever information you want to make your decision should be available here. ® Related link PAB election candidates' statements Related stories Nominet finding it hard to replace Willie Willie Black resigns as Nominet chairman Nominet's PAB election results in (March 2003) Willie Black resigns as Nominet chairman
Team Register, 10 Mar 2005
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Zen worker arrested over suspected CC theft

An employee at UK ISP Zen Internet has been arrested for allegedly misusing credit cards details obtained from work. It's understood that the suspect bought accounts for an online gaming service using stolen credit card details before reselling the gaming packages on eBay. The man was arrested after internet gamers - who had bought the accounts at a discounted price via the online auction site - had said accounts closed. When they asked why the accounts had been terminated, they were told it was because they had been bought originally using stolen credit card details. No-one from Rochdale-based Zen Internet was available for comment. In a statement the ISP told us: "We can confirm that an incident has occurred. The matter is in the hands of the police and Zen is co-operating with their investigations. Due to legal reasons we are unable to comment on this any further." A police spokeswoman told us: "A 23-year-old man from Rochdale was arrested on Tuesday 8 March 2005 on suspicion of employee fraud after police in Rochdale received allegations that an employee of a company in Rochdale had allegedly been using credit card details fraudulently. The man has been bailed until 27 May 2005 pending further enquiries." ® Related stories eBay fraudster faces possible jail UK card fraud hits £505m Online fraud could dent economies
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005
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Apple faces patent lawsuits over its iPod

Apple is facing two separate patent infringement suits over the iPod, according to reports. One suit relates to a patent for the protection of software against unauthorised use, while the other relates to a patent for a type of musical jukebox. Hong Kong-based Pat-rights has contacted Apple, according to a posting on its website, to discuss the alleged breach of its US patent number 6,665,797, which covers the provision of “identity information of the rightful user thereof for accessing a network central computer to obtain service(s) or software product(s) or alike”. Apple’s digital rights management system, known as Fairplay, is in breach of this patent, says Pat-rights. The firm is demanding 12% of profits earned by the computer giant from its iTunes and iPod sales and is thought to have given the company until 21st March to respond. The second suit, which has already been filed in a US federal court, charges Apple with breaching US patent rights owned by Chicago-based Advanced Audio Devices. The patent – number 6,587,403 – was granted in July 2003 and relates to “a music jukebox which is configured for storing a music library therein”. According to reports Advanced Audio Devices tried to negotiate with Apple about the patent prior to filing, but without success. Apple has made no comment on either suit as yet. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links US Patent Number 6,587,403 US Patent Number 6,587,403
Team Register, 10 Mar 2005
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Fujitsu exposes Eastern talent pool

CeBIT 2005CeBIT 2005 The tearing down of the Iron Curtain has exposed a wealth of tech talent that will help Europe avoid the kind of skills dearth currently giving US IT execs sleepless nights, Fujitsu Siemens’ CTO said today. In recent weeks Intel’s Craig Barrett and EMC’s Joe Tucci have bemoaned the lack of native engineering talent coming through the US education system, which coincides with a drop in the number of bright foreigners coming to study in the US. Barrett and Tucci both fear that, as its tech talent pool evaporates, the US could lose its tech and science predominance. Asked if Europe faced a similar skills crisis, Fujitsu CTO Joseph Reger said the answer depended on how you defined Europe. If you counted everything between Rekjavik and Vladivostock, then Europe was in a good position, he said. “Having torn down the Iron Curtain, we have a huge pool of talent in the East we can use,” he added. Western Europeans were probably less focused on sciences, and young people there are more likely to focus on areas such as law or economics. "It’s a mindset issue," said Reger. Conversely, Eastern Europeans had had a “traditional” education with a good grounding in basic sciences. “There is an imbalance [that] could be turned into an advantage for Europe,” Reger concluded. ® Related stories UK firms avoid outsourcing tech support Cambridge launches mentor group for women tech researchers Linux and the job market Offshoring benefits UK job market World's cleverest woman needs a job The case for women in the technology business IT skills shortage threatens humanity The curse of IT specialisation
Joe Fay, 10 Mar 2005
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MS gets into the Groove

Microsoft has acquired collaboration software company Groove Networks Inc. for an undisclosed sum. Groove's founder, Ray Ozzie, will become Microsoft's chief technical officer and - once the dust has settled on the deal in Q2 2005 - Groove will become part of Microsoft's Information Worker Business. In a press release Bill Gates says: "Ray and his team are true innovators. Microsoft and its customers will greatly benefit from their experience. After working with Ray for years as a close partner, it will be great to have him on our senior leadership team." Jeff Raikes, Microsoft group vice president of the Information Worker Business, chipped in: "Adding Groove and its products to Microsoft brings together two companies with a shared vision for making collaboration natural and easy. Groove complements Microsoft's collaboration products by helping us better serve businesses with mobile workers and remote offices." Ray Ozzie founded Groove Networks in October 1997. He is best known for creating Lotus Notes, and current groovy products include Groove Virtual Office, which "allows teams of people to work together over a network as if they were in the same physical location". The new member of the MS family will maintain its physical location in Beverly, MA. The full MS press release is here. ® Related stories Kapor quits Groove Is Groove the new Napster?
Lester Haines, 10 Mar 2005

easyMobile launches - finally

easyMobile.com - the discount mobilephoneco backed by no frills airline entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou - has taken off at last. After refusing to comment on a press report earlier today about the launch of the service, the new discount cellco has now been officially unveiled. And as reported, the cost of UK calls is 9p a minute while texts cost 3p. However, this is only a limited offer and from June, those charges will revert to 15p and 5p respectively. "We are very pleased to launch our service in the UK, and I fully believe British consumers will be thrilled to be pioneers as customers of easyMobile.com," said easyMobile chief exec Frank Rasmussen. However, Stelios used today's announcement to take a pop shot at mobile operator Orange, which is suing EasyGroup to stop it using the colour orange in its branding for the new service. Orange reckons easyMobile's logo and colour, both orange, are likely to confuse customers. Speaking today Stelios said: "I think that is why Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd, the competitor owned by the France Telecom, is running so scared that they decided to take us to court over a spurious claim that we cannot use the colour orange. "I have been using this colour for ten years and I will not stop using it now for anyone. Let the battle commence." ® Related stories CPW halves cost of mobile phone calls EasyMobile keeps schtum on tariffs Orange sues Stelios for 'passing off' easyMobile set for March launch
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005
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BT dials up $3bn Reuters gig

BT is to acquire financial services network operator Radianz from Reuters for $175m as part of broader network services deal with the global news and information company. Overall, the deal with Reuters is expected to be worth $3bn over the next eight years as BT supplies managed network services to the news and data organisation. The acquisition of Radianz is part of BT's plan to become a global provider of networked IT services. In recent months the UK's former state-owned monopoly has snapped up other network outfits Albacom and Infonet as it seeks to find new areas of revenue growth. Said BT chief exec Ben Verwaayen: "The network services contract is the latest example of major enterprise customers choosing BT as their global communications partner. The acquisition of Radianz is of strategic importance as the global financial services market offers a huge opportunity to BT, and this will form the cornerstone of our approach to this sector." ® Related stories BT's Infonet acquisition completed BT confirms Italian job BT shells out £520m for Infonet Broadband - BT's new wave saviour
Tim Richardson, 10 Mar 2005

Bloggers invade Austin music fest

The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin has always had a technology bent to it. Intermingled with the voluminous quantity of music and movies were speeches from leading IT pundits, open source gurus and the like. Sadly, this tech bent has turned to a blogger hell with the globs set to consume an inordinate amount of airtime - and air - at next week's show. Does Robert Scoble really work at Microsoft? One has to wonder after seeing his name appear on the SXSW speaker list. Scoble seems to scoot around the country - by Segway most likely - annoying all kinds of audiences with his "revelations" about blogging. Shouldn't someone be required to write something interesting before being asked to talk about writing interesting things? Or maybe you prefer, the Wonkette, Sean Bonner, Jason Calacanis, Henry Copeland, Jason Goldman, Jon Lebkowsky, Cameron Marlow or Tony Pierce. Surely one blogger is plenty to describe the idea of an online journal. It's not hard to imagine the SXSW organizers looking back on this year's lineup with shame. On a more positive note, the tech savvy part of the SXSW crowd has organized a massive music dump. You can download 750 of the songs that will be performed at the show courtesy of a 2.6GB BitTorrent file. SXSW attendees will be able to download all of the songs from the "Showcasing Artist" catalog - mostly tunes from up and coming or unsigned artists. In addition, they can pull down a complete schedule of the show onto their iPods and search by artist name, showcase data, club name or genre. Both the music and schedule downloads are being delivered by CitzenPod. For those who haven't heard of SXSW, there's a handy introduction page here. More impressive, however, is a sample of the music lineup. Here's one day's worth of tunes. And so you understand Austin's title as Live Music Capital of the World. [No -ed.] There's also a full list of speakers here. Most notably, Bram Cohen - the inventor of BitTorrent - will be speaking at the festival. Do your worst, hippies. ® Related stories Oz investigators bust 'file-sharing' ISP BitTorrent gets major revamp Leaked Doctor Who episode available for download Loki puts donations toward $1m MPAA payoff
Ashlee Vance, 10 Mar 2005
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Nvidia previews nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition

CeBIT 2005CeBIT 2005 Nvidia today "threatened" to release an Intel-oriented chipset product, but couldn't quite bring itself to announce the long-awaited nForce 4 for Intel just yet. No, the chipset's formal unveiling will take place later this month, Drew Henry the chip maker's chipset products chief said. The company's CeBIT meeting was merely a preview. Henry did at least reveal the product's official name: nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition. He also pledged the product would generate 3DMark 03 and 05 scores at 1600 x 1200 that are 70-75 per cent higher than any other Intel-oriented chipset. The company also confirmed motherboard makers Asus, MSI, Foxconn, Epox, Gigabyte, ABIT, DFI and Biostar would be among the first firms to offer nForce 5 SLI Intel Edition boards. According to market watcher Mercury Research, Nvidia's chipsets accounted for 48 per cent of the AMD Athlon 64 and Opteron motherboards that shipped in Q4 2004. Henry added a detail or two: 1m nForce 4 chipsets have shipped in the last three months, of which 350,000 - 35 per cent - were SLI-enabled versions. nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition will support the 1066MHz Pentium 4 frontside bus and PCI Express, Henry said. He did not address support for Intel's upcoming dual-core Pentium D, but that will undoubtedly be made clear at the chipset's formal launch. Ditto such Pentium-peculiar technologies like HyperThreading and Extended SpeedStep. Its feature-set is likely to match that of the AMD product, though we're clearly looking at a product that incorporates the North Bridge functionality unnecessary in the AMD version because it's built into the CPU. MediaShield RAID technology, nTune, SerialATA support, and ActiveArmor TCP/IP processors and firewall protection will appear in the Intel Edition as it does in the AMD version. Nvidia announced that it had licensed Intel's latest P4 bus technology in November 2004. ® Related stories Nvidia 'nForce for Intel' wins PCI-E certificate Nvidia signs Intel bus licence deal Nvidia to unveil 'nForce for Intel' Q1 05 Nvidia signs Intel bus licence deal Nvidia ships 'world's fastest' notebook graphics chip Nvidia Q4 sales best yet - almost Nvidia updates GoForce phone chip Nvidia updates mobile Quadro FX graphics chip line
Tony Smith, 10 Mar 2005
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Apple backs Blu-ray

CeBIT 2005CeBIT 2005 Apple has joined the Blu-ray Disc Association, throwing its weight behind the more technically impressive but perhaps less strongly branded HD optical medium. The Mac maker formally gave its support to the next-generation disc format at a BDA meeting in South Korea on Monday, but the decision was only made public today. It joins the likes of Sony, Dell, HP, Sharp, Philips, Panasonic, Hitachi and eight other consumer electronics, IT and media companies on the Association's board of directors. Apple has tended to stay away from such inustry consortia unless it's had a hand in the creation of the technologies the groups are promoting. In this case, however, the company's strength in the digital content creation market and its desire to not only retain but also build its market position appears to have persuaded it to come off the fence on the BD vs HD DVD debate. Indeed, Apple used the announcement of its BDA board of directors membership to re-iterate its support of HD video across its range of consumer-friendly 'i apps', such as iMovie HD, and pro tools like Final Cut HD. Apple has already said it will support the H.264 HD video codec in the next major release of QuickTime, version 7, due later this year alongside the release of Mac OS X 10.4 aka 'Tiger'. BDs can stored 25GB on a single-layer disc, 50GB on two-layer versions, significantly more than HD DVD's 15GB and 30GB single- and dual-layer capacity. The BDA believes it has the medium's durability problems sorted out, courtesy of a dust, grease and dirt-repelling hard coat developed by TDK. Against BD's technical superiority stands the mindshare the rival format has thanks to those three letters, D, V and D, now totally associated in the mind of consumers with high-quality digital video. ® Related stories Chinese manufacturers sue DVD patent pool Studios announce HD DVD movie release lists Game firms back Blu-ray Blu-ray Disc maker to 'abolish cartridges' JVC preps dual DVD/Blu-ray disc Toshiba launches HD DVD consortium Toshiba touts DVD/HD DVD hybrid Major studios back HD DVD
Tony Smith, 10 Mar 2005
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AMD details its Turion mobile processor

CeBIT 2005CeBIT 2005 AMD today introduced its Turion 64 processor, the chip it hopes will help it wrest dominance of the notebook CPU market from Intel's Centrino. The chip family provides much the same feature set as the 754-pin Mobile Athlon 64 for thin'n'light notebooks, such as 64-bit processing, AMD's PowerNow! power conservation system, on-board memory manager and so on. All of which suggests Turion really is just an exercise in branding. As is calling it a "Mobile Technology" rather than a mobile microprocessor. Depending on configuration, the Turion chips contain either 512KB or 1MB of on-die L2 cache. All the versions offer 128KB of L1 cache, support for a HyperTransport bus clocked at up to 1.6GHz, and the ability to deal with single-channel DDR SDRAM with ECC running at up to 400MHz. The 90nm chips have a maximum power draw of 25 or 35W, with CPU clocks running from 1.6GHz to 2GHz. They support Intel's SSE 3 SIMD multimedia instructions, along with 'no execute' bit anti-virus support. AMD introduced yet another model numbering scheme, separating the Turion line from both the Opteron and Athlon 64 ranges. The new chips have an 'M', for mobile, followed by a second letter, the higher up the alphabet it is, the more 'mobile' the processor, apparently. After that comes a number designed to convey how clock speed and cache size combine to give performance. The chip maker nonetheless insisted on stressing the chips "wireless compatibilty", even though there's no on-board WLAN adaptor. Really, Turion is no more "wireless compatible" than any other modern mobile microprocessor. AMD said seven Turion models, the ML 30, 32, 34 and 37, and the MT 30 and 32, are available immediately, but vendors aren't expecting to ship machines until late next month, we note. Vendors giving the thumbs-up to the new chip include Acer, Asus, Averatec, BenQ, MSI and Packard Bell. The chips prices run from $184 to $354, with the 25W MT parts costing more than the 35W ML chips, at the same clock-speed and cache size. The ML-37, ML-34, ML-32, ML-30, MT-34, MT-32, and MT-30 are priced at $354, $263, $220, $184, $268, $225 and $189, respectively. ® Related stories VIA unveils Turion chipset ATI ships 'first' mobile AMD chipset AMD unveils Centrino spoiler
Tony Smith, 10 Mar 2005

Moto's iTunes phone - please try again later

Motorola has unexpectedly delayed plans to unveil a mobile phone that ships with a version of Apple's iTunes, and not so subtly blamed the networks for the hold-up. Announced last July, bullish comments from Motorola management before Xmas raised expectations that the handset would ship sooner rather than later. But at CeBIT today, a Motorola source told The Register that the phone would be launched when the carriers give their approval. Despite the handset's absence, Moto was happy to promote Apple's iTunes Music Store on its stand, under a "Here! Music Downloads" banner... The excitement about the deal, and recent front-page prominence given to the recent flurry of such agreements, is offset by a range of issues which continue to bedevil all the participants - on the technology and entertainment interests - and which are no nearer resolution than they were a year ago. The Motorola handset syncs with PC or Mac iTunes, but executives stressed at the time of the original announcement that it wouldn't support over the air (OTA) downloads. That's no surprise, as even with today's 3G networks, the capacity isn't really here yet to support a mass market. Network operators would prefer you to sample and buy songs much like ringtones today, only with with the download being sent to a PC. In addition, the carriers could use their expensive high street presence to install proximity servers to give passing customers instant gratification. The upside of this approach is that the model gives them a cut of the transaction revenue the downside is that in a market which leaves just a few pennies for all but the recording rights holders, that cut of the transaction revenue will be keenly fought over. What terrifies the biggest recording rights holders isn't what they say in public - "piracy" - so much as the loss of their distribution channels. At 3GSM in Cannes last month Microsoft and Nokia partnered to offer what they claim will be slick and seamless DRM downloads to Nokia phones. It's significant in that it doesn't (as we originally thought) involve transcoding, but is a dual-stack approach which sees Microsoft support OMA and AAC codecs within WMP, and Nokia supporting Windows Windows Media 10 DRM and MTP on its phones. Loudeye will build the stores. This in itself doesn't guarantee smooth synchronization (not one of either Nokia or Microsoft's historical strengths) but it should assure people that they'll be able to play the media - DRM notwithstanding. Last week, Sony Ericsson revived the ancient Walkman brand for its first serious "music phone". So the non-Apple world is gradually getting its act into shape, and Motorola can't afford to rest on its laurels. ® Tony Smith, reporting from CeBIT 2005, contributed to this report. Related stories Sony Ericsson preps Walkman phone French consumer group sues Apple, Sony Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit Apple talks up mid-range Motorola 'iPod phone' Napster beams songs to Windows smart phones MS, Apple pitch music at mobile phone makers Nokia moves to counter Apple-Moto music alliance Apple - Moto iPhone deal full of promise... Apple licenses iTunes to Motorola Symbian founder on mobile past, present and future
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Mar 2005
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MP pitches Denial of Service law to Parliament

Derek Wyatt MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG), will try to persuade Parliament next month that the country's 15-year-old Computer Misuse Act needs updating, to increase penalties for hackers and to criminalise denial of service attacks. The Labour MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey said today that his Ten Minute Rule Bill – a type of bill offering a back bench MP just 10 minutes to pitch legislation to the House of Commons – is scheduled for a hearing on 5 April. Wyatt's bill picks up on two main recommendations in last summer's APIG report on the 1990 Act: to add a specific Denial of Service (DoS) offence; and to increase the sentence for hacking – where no manipulation of data or further crime takes place – from six months to two years. Aggravated hacking offences would still carry up to five years in prison. A DoS attack involves flooding a server with data – sometimes just thousands of emails – to the point where it collapses. More advanced attacks are launched from several machines – known as Distributed DoS, or DDoS attacks. The consensus is that the Computer Misuse Act probably covers some DDoS attacks, because third party computers are compromised without permission. Whether a plain-vanilla DoS attack is covered is a moot point. The relevant wording in the current Act is that it's an offence to cause "an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer". Some say a DoS attack amounts to a "modification"; others disagree. APIG, which exists to provide a discussion forum between new media industries and parliamentarians, wants to remove the ambiguity. It also wants to send a clear signal to the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts that DoS attacks should be taken seriously. And it hopes that publicity about the new offence will deter potential attackers by making it explicit that their actions are clearly criminal. This is the second attempt to tack a DoS extension onto the Computer Misuse Act. The first was a Private Member's Bill introduced by the Earl of Northesk in 2002; but like most Private Members' Bills, it failed. And Derek Wyatt has no illusions about his Ten Minute Rule bill becoming an Act in the short term. Due to the brevity of the pitch, the Ten Minute Rule bill is a process generally used as a means of making a point on the need to change a law. It's also an opportunity to gauge Parliamentary opinion. Notice of the bill is circulated and one opposing motion is allowed in the House. Wyatt explained: "The All Party Group was hoping that an MP would have picked this up as part of the Private Members’ allocation for bills but sadly no-one did so it seemed sensible given the work we undertook last year to at least place on record what we think the Bill should look like in the hope that the Government will come back to it after the General Election” His Computer Misuse Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill says it would be an offence to do something without authority which causes or which is intended to cause "directly or indirectly, an impairment of access to any program or data held in any computer". 'Seriousness they deserve' This much is similar to the Earl of Northesk's bill of the same name. But that version went no further, and was criticised for being too wide. Wyatt's version specifies that there must be "intent to damage the performance of an activity for which the relevant computer, or any program or data held on that computer, is used." Wyatt's bill also suggests a maximum sentence of two years for a basic DoS or DDoS attack. The Earl of Northersk's would have applied the Act's maximum sentence of five years. But with Wyatt's bill, where there is intent to commit further offences, the penalty would be five years. This might apply to those who launch attacks and try to blackmail the victim with the threat of further attacks. Richard Allan MP, Liberal Democrat spokesman for IT, and Vice Chairman of APIG said: "This reform is necessary if we are to treat these attacks with the seriousness which they deserve." The Computer Misuse Act has been used in a jury trial over a DDoS attack. But it has only happened once. Dorset teenager Aaron Caffrey was acquitted in 2003, after convincing a jury that he was not responsible for the attack that hit the computer systems of the Port of Houston in Texas. Aaron Caffrey gives his first interview in the latest edition of OUT-LAW Magazine, out next week. Caffrey says that the Act should be scrapped, not amended. The UK's second high profile DoS case may take place later this year: In January, Matthew Anderson appeared in Elgin Sheriff Court, Scotland, facing charges under the Act. He is accused of carrying out DoS attacks as part of an extortion plot that targeted companies in Scotland and the US. But it is early days in that case: there is no guarantee that it will go to trial. Scotland also has a common law offence of "malicious mischief" that could possibly be used to prosecute DoS attacks. Wyatt's bill excludes Scotland, but not because of this extra law. The most likely reason is that, while the Computer Misuse Act applies to Scotland, changes to it now fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament. Jon Fell, a partner with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said of the new bill: "It's disappointing that APIG's recommendations never made Parliament's agenda, despite assurances from the Home Office at the time that they would be given full consideration. The aim of today's bill is laudable: we need clarity on how the law treats DoS attacks. But the biggest problem is not the lack of laws to deal with computer crime. The biggest problem is catching the criminals." Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links Derek Wyatt's bill of 2005 (5-page PDF) Earl of Northesk's bill of 2002 (2-page PDF) Computer Misuse Act 1990 Related stories Japan.gov weathers DDoS attack Charges dropped against 'DDoS Mafia' Unholy trio pose DDoS risk for Cisco kit Online extortion works Scot in court on DDoS charges
OUT-LAW.COM, 10 Mar 2005
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It's time to pick your favourite virus

CommentComment The other day I was browsing through the top virus threats for February and March 2005, looking at the assorted nastiness, when a funny thought occurred to me: is it possible to pick a favorite virus (or virus family)? I think it is. We can look at their innovations and evolution with a source of envy, even if we universally despise them all. All viruses are malicious, nasty little programs written by misguided people. In my book, they are all manifestations of bad intentions by programmers who are well on the road to becoming evil. However... The best viruses are the ones that infect without any human error or intervention at all. And most interesting to me are the ones that innovate with new infection vectors. No, I'm not referring to any generic, run-of-the-mill email virus that requires a user to first click on yet another executable attachment. The authors of Beagle/Bagel, Netsky, Mydoom and Erkez/Zafi should hang their hats, head down into their dark basement dwellings, and get back to work. Their latest variants released this year can barely stifle a yawn. The best viruses are the ones that use new, novel propagation techniques that really work. Forget social engineering. Yes it still works, and yes it will always work, but it's also an excruciatingly boring way to target only the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. Just because a new virus variant was able to trick my Aunt Fern into clicking on it doesn't mean it's novel, innovative, or even interesting. I can tell my Aunt Fern a thousand times not to click on that attachment, and mark my words: one day, she's not going to click on it. Her action sets the virus in motion. Click, infection. Action, reaction. These are topics that she can conceptually understand. Viruses that spread without human intervention are called worms, of course. These are a little harder to explain to the public at large. But worms have been having a tougher time lately, as personal firewalls become more commonplace (think XP SP2), home routers become the norm, and most Windows systems have automatic updates turned on. Old worms continue to crawl the Internet, infecting and reinfecting a few million unpatched machines, but the fact is that there hasn't been a major outbreak in quite some time. A long time ago I tried to explain the concept of a worm to my Aunt Fern, and even when she stopped squirming, I'm not sure if she was able to understand. No warning, no notification, no noise at all Try to explain to an average user about web-based virus droppers that install backdoors and worms via a browser, however. These average users are people that SecurityFocus readers typically support, people found everywhere in corporations, government, and in homes around the world. They visit a website (either directly, via a search engine, or via a simple link sent in an instant message) and ten minutes later a backdoor has been installed on their machine. No warning, no notification, no noise at all. Should I tell my Aunt it's no longer safe to click on web links? Give me a break. Think this won't happen? Imagine the response when a high profile website (or its ad server) is compromised... the opportunity will appear again. Getting infected via the web makes me feel like I'm in grade school again. The Web and web browsers are now the perfect place for virus writers to find new ways to infect a fully patched, firewalled machine. After all, it's a lot easier to find unpatched, exploitable holes in Internet Explorer than it is to automate your way through a personal firewall. Once inside, it's much easier to call home, download updates, and then start to spread. Isn't it great that Internet Explorer is now a part of the operating system? While I've written about it before, the infamous CoolWebSearch family of malware is still my favorite of these malicious creations, because it's still very current, very nasty, and it's the clearest example of how you can easily get a virus-backdoor-trojan-worm (your choice) installed through your browser. Just click on a web link using Internet Explorer. Since these "droppers" commonly exploit known and unpatched vulnerabilities, they are continually updated and enhanced (and are still extremely difficult to remove). As a virus dropper, it's an easy way to deliver and install an even nastier virus of someone's choosing. Basically, your users can still visit a website with a fully patched machine that allows for the download and execution of arbitrary code. Without user interaction (and no, I don't consider clicking on a web link to be "user interaction," thank you very much). Try to explain that one to Aunt Fern. Many people in the security community look at viruses now with disinterest, because our defense-in-depth strategy makes us feel protected. As virus writers find new infection vectors that use a browser, however, your big investment in multi-layered security starts to look woefully ineffective. Think web based infection vectors. I think I've found my favorite virus (well, virus family) after all. Copyright © 2005, Kelly Martin has been working with networks and security for 18 years, from VAX to XML, and is currently the content editor for Symantec's independent online magazine, SecurityFocus. Related stories Trojan Horse Christmas Bofra worm sets trap for unwary Rise of the Botnets PCs throw nine sickies a year
Kelly Martin, 10 Mar 2005

Digital memories: cheap to take, cheaper to lose

LettersLetters The consequences of the dotcom bubble - being remembered this week five years on from the start of the crash - aren't just financial. The largest loss of wealth in human history created a wasteland of dead pages and broken links. Now many of the same Dotcom People are back, persuading us to trust them with our most valuable digital memories. And judging from the rhetoric alone, nothing has been learnt. Preserving stuff on the internet isn't a given, as we discussed with David Rosenthal, here. Because of carelessness, corporate burn-out, or government pressure, material gets lost. Sometimes material disappears as if by magic. But there is no magic - just the usual suspects. Rosenthal, an alumnus of Sun and Nvidia, has spent five years devising a decentralized peer to peer system LOCKSS for librarians and archivists. It's a system that ensures documents are preserved through redundancy. But it may be five years, he told us, before the protocols are scalable enough for such a system to be used by you and me. But Rosenthal is old school. He belongs to the generation of "pessimistic engineers" who worried about things going wrong. Was there a cultural divide between the systems guys and the new dot com kids, for whom 1995 really was Year Zero, we wondered: "...This, we suggested, was a consequence of the web generation of developers not taking data integrity seriously enough. When you meet database designers or real system people, data integrity is priorities One, Two and Three," we wrote recently. Reader Carson Harding rose to the challenge. It's quite unfair to tar all web coders with the dotcom brush, we might add. It's probably only a small minority of few Perl coders, mostly USA-ian, who get so excited about mandelbrots, emergent ant farms and the self-healing hive mind of the interweb that they become very careless with your data. Maybe, Carson suggests, we should take a bit of responsibility. Perhaps we don't really care about the consequences of the technology we use. As a, I suppose, "real system person", I am constantly amazed by how people look after their digital media, even when they are confronted with its fragility. When I'm not being a system person, I'm often taking pictures. I'm still using film, which I scan, retouch in Photo Shop, and print on an inkjet. The film part is mostly due to cost: I haven't saved up enough to buy the digital that can replace it yet. But at the moment, in the event of digital failure I yet retain the negatives, and can redo my work if need be. But going all digital is getting close for me, and has great workflow and creative advantages. The one thing that scares me is then every can be lost to a power surge or equipment failure or theft. (A lot more likely than the house fire that would currently wipe it all out.) My current plan is to maintain all data ever spinning, ever growing. I will backup to media available at the time for disaster recovery only, with no expectation of archiving. So for the moment, for cost effectiveness this means an external hard drive that I store at someone else's house. Everytime I back up to it, it is tested. I may add another hard drive and alternate, I may switch to other media at some point, but my plan is that everything will always there online where it is accessible and can/will be converted when file formats change, and there will be offsite copies for recovery. (There are also multiple other copies of small set of really important things, etc.) There are three things about this: 1) It requires effort, planning, and future work adapting it as things change. I already tend to think about this sort of thing, so it's not too hard for me; 2) Even given that I tend to think about this sort of thing and plan for it, it's a pain; 3) Most people do not think about it at all; and they don't want to. "Various neophiles I know seem to keep their material scattered across various machines, and copy it to DVD or CD when they think of it. (They also don't pay attention to the quality of the DVDs and CDs they buy.) They treat their other data similarily. When I mention risks, and suggest other ways or doing things, I get the same looks and responses as when I suggest that having a firewall between their Windows machines and the Internet might be a really good idea. "(In both regards I have much better luck with complete neophytes, to them I sound with some authority. Most of the gadget geeks know their way around Windows far better than I do, yet have no real idea of my professional responsibilities and concerns, and so I think they discount my words.) "But back to the topic: their CDs can't be read after a while (or perhaps even at the start, it's unlikely they tested them after writing them), their hard-drives crash, their computers succumb to viruses and theft. Even their prints fade. (I went inkjet when I could get a good pigment-based printer. And even then my data will still be around to print it again if I need to.) "My conclusion: they don't care. Or they don't care enough to make the effort. Memories (or in this case, mementos) are not like money. People will happily benefit the producers of a technology for the chance to play with the new toy, for the convenience. The object that the tool produces has at most a quickly passing sentimental value. I don't think this is new. My mother-in-law is not in the digital age, she appears to assign great value to her pictures of family and family history, but I discovered that she throws her negatives away once she has the prints. No (good) enlargements can be done, no picture replaced if it is damaged. "This shocks me, but really, as the old saying goes, "actions speak louder then words". None of all this river of pictures is of real value to them, it's just a flood of ephemera. Perhaps my pictures only matter to me because I am: 1) a professional pack-rat, used to looking after other people's data that does matter to them, and 2) I'm trying in the photos I do produce to make something worth keeping on its own, and therefore preserving my attempts matters to me. "From the things I've read here and there, the only photo people who really care about digital preservation are the people who depend on it, professional photographers and archivists, and a very few keen amateurs. "Perhaps the rest find the current online services exactly tailored to their requirements? - Carson Harding Which gives us a lot of food for thought. Yesterday's gee-whizz dotcom types are beside themselves with excitement about Flickr and similar services. But rarely a moment's attention is given to the long term consequences. If we really are walking into the future blind, with the risk that no family will have a photo album in 50 years, then the problem requires urgent attention. ® Related stories Strength through pessimism! Keeping your stuff safe Digital memories: we can forget them for you wholesale! Google - the only archive we'll ever need? How key Microsoft emails 'autodestruct'
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Mar 2005
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Wizards at Cisco find brain for storage switches

Come June, Cisco will release a new piece of storage networking hardware that will let it and others build sophisticated switch software for managing data. The MDS 9000 Storage Services Module (SSM) will be Cisco's next attempt at putting pressure on networking rivals Brocade and McData and on hardware makers such as EMC and IBM. The product - a 32-port Fibre Channel line card - should make it possible for switches to handle many of the tasks typically done on servers or storage boxes. The first tools customers will see are data acceleration and replication packages from Cisco, but ISVs will create their own new applications this year. The new module will plug into the same chassis as Cisco's MDS 9500 Series directors and MDS 9200 Series switches, said Paul Dul, a senior manager in Cisco's storage group. It will cost about 25 to 30 per cent more than current 32-port gear and will be sold by Cisco's partners. A relatively new player in the Fibre Channel switch market, Cisco is doing its best to create more interest in its gear. Last month, for example, it kicked off a program to reward smaller resellers with cold, hard cash if they can move a certain amount of MDS 9000 switches. Now, Cisco expects ISVs to design code for the MDS 9000 SSM. Dutiful partners that they are, EMC and Veritas have already pledged to roll out software for the SSM. EMC will sell some storage virtualization software code-named called Storage Router for Cisco's product. Veritas will eventually follow with similar code. Alacritus Software, Cloverleaf Communications, FalconStor Software, Kashya, Topio, and XIOTech will also create software that works with the SSM and Cisco's MDS 9000 SANTap-equipped appliances. Cisco also has its own class of software ready for SMS. It has designed products described as Network-Accelerated Storage Applications. The first such application is aimed at the backup market. Customers can use Cisco's SSM and software to offload much of the traffic usually handled by a media server in storage area networks (SANs). "We found that we can reduce a four-and-half hour backup to about three hours," Dul said. CA, CommVault and Veritas should be able to make their own software tap into this backup code from Cisco. Cisco has also prepped a Fibre Channel Write Acceleration application, which should help customers who have sophisticated disaster recovery systems. By using the SSM, customers can boost synchronous data replication between Fibre Channel SANs. The Cisco software and module basically step in to speed up the time it takes to issue and confirm "write" commands. All in all, Cisco has laid out an ambitious new course for its switch gear. It's trying to add a lot of intelligence to the switch layer of storage networks, but it's not clear that customers are ready to pick up the smart hardware. Cisco's product requires a lot of partner help, and many of these partners are focused on their own virtualization strategies. Let's see who lines up behind the SSM when it arrives in June. ® Related stories HP whacks own storage software in favor of AppIQ EMC puts a super-Google in Centera boxes McData seesaws through Q4 Disk drive shortage cramps EMC style Cisco switch partners see Fibre Channel green EMC admits to iSCSI fleet
Ashlee Vance, 10 Mar 2005