30th > March > 2005 Archive

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Intel and server pals welcome beefy 64-bit Xeon

Intel and friends today did their standard dance to welcome a new Xeon processor meant for largish servers to the market. The Intel collective held an event in San Francisco to unveil the "Truland" platform. Intel has started to use the "platform" label for describing a family of chips and complementary chipsets. In this case, Truland includes the new 64-bit Xeon MP chip - code-named Potomac - designed for four-processor servers and the E8500 chipset - code-named Twin Castle. Partners Dell, IBM and HP announced new servers for the chip at Intel's San Francisco shindig. The new Xeon shows that Intel has caught up to rival AMD by delivering a 64-bit part ready for the four-way market. It supports PCI Express, DDR2 memory and Intel's Demand Based Switching with Enhanced SpeedStep technology. The chipset has a 667MHz front side bus "and is designed with 10.6 GBs of system bandwidth, more than three times the bandwidth of the previous generation," Intel said. The chipset will also work with the dual-core "Paxville" MP chips due in the first quarter of 2006. AMD plans to roll out a dual-core Opteron processor by the middle of this year. Executives from the large server makers all tried to outdo each other by expressing their Intel love at the event. Dell said it's the most efficient Xeon server vendor, HP said it's the four-way Xeon server king, and IBM said it has made the largest Xeon investment of all the vendors by designing its own high-end chipset. IBM and Dell also pointed to their release today of new four-way Xeon servers. HP matched its rivals by revealing two new systems - the ProLiant DL580 G3 and ProLiant ML570 G3. Intel released a number of different Xeon MP flavors for its customers. On the high-end is a 3.33GHz chip with an 8MB Level 3 cache. It costs $3,692 in 1,000 unit quantities. The price drops to $1,980 for a 3.0GHz/8MB chip and $1,177 for a 2.83GHz/4MB chip. Intel's "value" line includes a 3.66GHz/1MB chip for $963 and a 3.16GHz/1MB chip for $722. ® Related stories Intel chooses China for chip test plant Intel to ship 'Potomac' Xeon MP this month Dual-core AMD Athlon 64 benchmarks emerge
Ashlee Vance, 30 Mar 2005
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Centrica wants you

Utility group Centrica is looking to recruit as many as 300 hundred people to bolster its IT department. The firm is looking for CRM specialists, particularly people with experience developing and maintaining SAP and Siebel systems for call centres. The utility is also looking for people with good integration and Microsoft skills. The jobs are mainly west of London, in Slough, Staines and Stockley Park, near Heathrow and Windsor. Centrica's IT department has about 1,100 permanent staff. The firm wants IT to play a more strategic role in the business. Customer service is crucial in an industry where 150,000 people per week change suppliers. The IT department is also important internationally - Centrica has more than 5m customers in North America. A spokesman told El Reg: "We are beefing up our Information Systems capability to support various programmes that British Gas is running." These include a £430m Siebel customer service system currently being used by 7,500 call centre staff. Centrica is adding an SAP billing system so it can offer customers one combined bill for gas and electricity. The second major project is a £40m deployment system for the firm's 8,100 engineers. Scheduling will work via a Smartphone and GPRS and will allow much narrower windows for appointments - one to two hours instead of four. Centrica is also looking to upgrade 24,000 desktop computers to Windows XP and building a new data centre near Staines.® Related stories Centrica buys Telco Global for £43m Centrica mulls legal action over BT tariffs Centrica buys iomart broadband ops
John Oates, 30 Mar 2005
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On Novell and Tally

CommentComment In recent years Novell has quietly built up its ZENworks systems management capabilities. Last week, the company made public another significant advance in ZENworks when it announced that a definitive agreement to acquire Tally Systems Corp. The significance of this moVe should not be underestimated. Tally Systems is one of those relatively small companies that has managed to achieve remarkable visibility in its chosen field of operations, in this case the discovery and inventory of PC and server systems. when asset tracking and software inventory discovery were in their formative stages of development, Tally NetCensus was a yardstick against which other inventory tools were measured. In recent times, Tally Systems has built a number of asset tracking products to supply accurate data to asset management repositories and systems management solutions. The current range includes TS.Census Asset Inventory, TS.Deploy (software delivery for TS.Census Asset Inventory), WebCensus (a hosted PC inventory and reporting offering) and PowerCensus (to provide enhanced inventory for Microsoft SMS environments). The company has also developed Cenergy Patch Manger, a tool to provide, reliably, the delivery and installation of software patches. Beyond these point products, Tally has also created solutions to help organisations better manage their expensive IT infrastructures. Among these, the TS.Census License Compliance Suite combines Tally products to provide businesses with the ability to identify installed applications and to establish the actual usage of installed applications. In this way it becomes straightforward to identify under- and over-licensed software assets, enabling remedial actions to be instigated. As Novell has steadily strengthened its systems management portfolio, it should come as little surprise to see the company acquiring asset discovery and inventory solutions such as those furnished by Tally Systems. As Jack Messman, Novell chairman and CEO, said last week at BrainShare 200, the regulatory compliance necessary in today's business environment "demands accurate tracking and reporting of IT assets. Bringing together Tally Systems' asset management with Novell's change and configuration management gives companies a powerful method of ensuring compliance, reducing software costs, and preparing for software audits." It is essential for every organisation to undertake IT Asset Management. Compliance is one driver that is hard to ignore, but in essence every facet of IT management, including cost control and risk minimisation, can benefit when asset management is handled effectively. As ITIL has it, an accurate knowledge of what you have, where it is, how it is configured and who is using it, should form the foundation on which all systems management is built, and on top of which Service Management can take shape. It will be fascinating to see how Novell takes its newly expanded ZENworks portfolio to market when it has integrated the Tally solutions into its stack. It will be even more interesting to watch how the company develops its capabilities further. Novell now looks ready to say something interesting in the Systems Management space. © IT-Analysis.com Related stories Novell buys Tally Systems Novell gets suite on SMEs IBM and Novell grease Linux development wheels Novell woos CeBIT with SUSE Linux 9.3
Tony Lock, 30 Mar 2005
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Transmeta to re-organise

A near doubling in Transmeta's technology licensing revenue during its fourth quarter proved insufficient to stem the chip maker's losses, it reported Tuesday. And the company held out the prospect of radical changes to its organisation. It will spill the beans tomorrow, it said. During the three months to 31 December 2004, Transmeta's Q4 FY2004, the company recorded revenues of $11.3m, up from the previous quarter's $7m and $3.5m in Q4 FY2003. The most recently completed quarter's revenues split $4.8m to $6.5m, product sales to licensing revenue. The former was up a little on the previous quarter's $3.7m, but the licensing contribution grew 93.9 per cent from Q3 FY2004's $3.3m, and significantly higher than the year-ago quarter's $200,000 licensing revenue. That will encourage the company's leaders, who have vowed to move the firm away from manufacturing to focus on chip intellectual property development. Transmeta CEO Matthew Perry has already said the company is winding down Crusoe and Efficeon production. In their place, it's hoping to encourage more chip makers to incorporate its EPIC architecture, instruction set emulation code and power conservation technology, LongRun 2. It's already had some success with the latter, most recently licensing it to Sony, potentially for the latter's 'Cell' processor. Q4 FY2004's net loss came to $28.1m (15 cents a share), down fractionally on the previous quarter's $28.6m loss (16 cents a share), but up on the year-ago quarter's $21.9m loss (15 cents a share). For FY2004 as a whole, Transmeta was in the red to the tune of $106.8m (61 cents a share), rather higher than FY2003's $87.6m (63 cents a share)loss despite a 70 per cent increase in revenue: $29.4m, up from FY2003's $17.3m. FY2004's revenue comprised $18.8m in product revenue and $10.7m of licensing and service revenue. This compares with $16.2m in product revenue and $1.1m of licensing and service revenue in the 2003 fiscal year. Transmeta ended the year with $53.7m in the bank. ® Related stories Transmeta licences low-power tech to Sony Once fabless, almost chipless - is Transmeta's future hopeless? Transmeta touts Media Center PC design Transmeta may power down chip making biz Transmeta loss widens as revenues miss target
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2005
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Micron remakes a profit

Memory chipmaker Micron made a profit in the second quarter of fiscal 2005 ended 3 March, despite the continuing fall in memory prices. The company made net income of $118m on sales of $1.3bn compared to a loss of $28m for the same period last year. This works out to 0.17 cents per diluted share. The profit is impressive considering the 15 per cent fall in per megabit average selling prices for memory chips. Net sales were up 32 per cent which offset falling prices. Megabit sales volume was up 36 per cent. Micron managed to slightly decrease the cost of materials in production, "work in process inventory", thanks to more efficient manufacturing. More details here.® Related stories Hynix, Micron neck-and-neck in Q3 Micron employees fixed DRAM prices Infineon pleads guilty to memory price-fixing June world chip sales top $17.8bn
John Oates, 30 Mar 2005

Select Committee criticises ID Cards Bill

Government plans for a national identity cards scheme will change the fundamental relationship between the State and the individual, according to a report published last week by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution. The Committee, which considers whether draft laws will have unexpected or ill-advised consequences for the constitution, warns that the Identity Cards Bill seeks to create a database that will record more information about every adult in the UK than has ever been placed on a single database before. Such is the significance of the database to the Government proposals that the Committee suggests that the Bill should more properly be known as the “National Identity Register and Identity Cards Bill”. “Such a scheme may have the benefits that are claimed for it, but the existence of this extensive new database in the hands of the State makes abuse of privacy possible,” says the report. The report suggests various methods by which privacy concerns may be lessened, stressing that the information contained on the Register should not be regarded as the “property” of the Home Secretary. Fundamentally, says the report, the Home Secretary should not be responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of the scheme, but should be responsible only for the development of the proposals and the regulations within which it will operate. An expert advisory or consultative committee should be set up to assist with this. An independent Registrar, reporting directly to Parliament, should be created to oversee the maintenance of the Register, says the report, which compares the possible independence of the Registrar to that currently enjoyed by Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue. Operation of the scheme should be overseen by the proposed National Identity Scheme Commissioner, as set out in the current proposals, according to the Committee. However, it expresses concern over the lack of provision in the Bill for the independence of the Commissioner from the Secretary of State, or the empowerment of the Commissioner to deal with complaints from individuals concerned about the Secretary of State’s handling of their cases. Accordingly the Committee suggests that the Commissioner should be independent, his powers increased and that he should be empowered to report directly to Parliament – rather than to the Secretary of State, as is currently proposed. Finally, on the question of timing, the report suggests that Ministers should not try to provide in the current proposals for the future extension of the scheme from a voluntary one to a mandatory one. At present the draft leaves Ministers with the power to enact the “compulsory” aspects of the Bill through a “super-affirmative” procedure, but does not detail the date on which the Government is likely to create the necessary legislation. Ministers have said in the past that this is likely to be in 2012 or 2013 and that the legislation will be pushed through once a critical mass of the people have voluntarily received identity cards. The Committee suggests there is no urgent need to provide for this now and that the Bill should be limited only to the introduction of the voluntary stage of the scheme, on the grounds that later legislation will better reflect the inevitable practical changes that experience of such a scheme will bring. This is especially important, concludes the report, as “these measures reflect a significant change in the constitutional relationship between the State and the individual”. In these circumstances, “the change to a universal and compulsory scheme should not be brought about by secondary legislation, even by a “super-affirmative” procedure”. The report follows in the wake of two earlier Parliamentary Committee reports critical of the Government proposals; one by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons and the other by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related link House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution Report on the Identity Cards Bill (6-page PDF) Related stories ID scheme will be a costly, dangerous failure, says LSE report ID scheme to die in pre-election cull? Madrid plotter used ID stolen from Spanish mint, say police ID scheme to bite dust in pre-election terror rush? Scottish Parliament lines up against ID scheme How Blair high tech 'security' pledge will fix the wrong problem Biometrics: the legal challenge Tory party set to withdraw ID scheme support Tory group report attacks ID scheme as a con trick Parliamentary report flags ID scheme human rights issues MSN Belgium to use eID cards for online checking Home Office tackles ID fraud. By hiring one UK gov ready to u-turn on passport-ID card link? Home Office builds 'harm model' to track fear, threats BT has 'Big Brother' wobbles over ID scheme bids
OUT-LAW.COM, 30 Mar 2005

Eidos bidder wins second major backer

UK-based games publisher SCi has won a second major backer, adding weight to its £80.4m bid for rival publisher Eidos. SCi has already gained Schroder's thumbs-up - the investment house owns around 20 per cent of Eidos. Now it has Merrill Lynch's backing, the Financial Times reports this morning, and with it ML's 4.87 per cent stake in Eidos. SCi said it will offer one of its own shares for every six Eidos shares held. It launched its bid last week the day after US-based Elevation Partners, the venture capital firm which lists U2 lead singer Bono and ex-Electronic Arts president John Riccitello among its partners, said it would pay £71m in cash for loss-making Eidos. With Schroder's, ML and other shareholders on its side, SCi has 26.3 per cent of Eidos' shares behind it. That means EP's bid, which required the support of 75 per cent of Eidos' shareholders to succeed, will have to be reformulated. However, EP, which has the backing of Eidos management, can change the bid in such a way that it needs the backing of only 50 per cent of the publisher's shareholders to take possession of the company. ® Related stories SCi launches bid for Eidos Bono to buy Eidos Eidos does due diligence on would-be buyers Eidos plunges into red Eidos confirms takeover talks Eidos issues profit warning
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2005

Charlotte Church topless pic busts onto mobes

UK tabloid The Sun says it has refused to pay £20,000 for a topless picture of Voice of an Angel Charlotte Church which is currently doing a tour of the UK mobile phone circuit. The "Page Three" style snap was snaffled from Church's squeeze Gavin Henson's mobile phone after he mislaid it on on a night out in Cardiff. As is the local custom, the lucky chap or chapess who subsequently found the phone immediately set about sending the picture to as many people as possible. Nature then took its course. The Sun quotes a "close pal" of the Welsh chanteuese as saying: "Charlotte and Gavin sent sexy texts when they started dating. The photo was just some private fun. I think they'll be more careful." The paper further states it will not publish the photo to spare the poor girl further embarrassment. ® Related stories Cop 'downloaded nude snaps' from suspect's mobile phone Mobile porn is a 'time bomb' US to ban up-skirt voyeur photos
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2005
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AMD to reveal 'Pacifica' processor virtualisation spec

AMD will next month detail its answer to Intel's Virtualisation Technology (VT) with the publication of its AMD64 platform's virtualisation system spec. Dubbed Pacifica, the technology will allow AMD's 64-bit server, desktop and mobile processors to host multiple operating systems - or many instances of the same OS - simultaneously. It's a technique well established in the 'big iron' mainframe world, but one makers of chips for low-end servers are keen to adopt, the better to eat into mid-range to high-end system sales. Intel has been touting such a system for the last 18 months or so, and in January this year brought VT's desktop release forward to this year from 2006. According to Intel's internal roadmap, it will ship updated Pentium 4 processors next quarter, and these are expected to sport VT. AMD first mentioned Pacifica last Autumn, and it's clearly chasing Intel. Today, it said Pacifica will be implemented "by introducing a new model and features into the processor and memory controller" of its AMD64 CPUs. Pacifica appears to implement the technique through a series of extensions to the core x86 and AMD64 instruction sets. The first chips to incorporate them will appear in "the first half of 2006", AMD said. Pacifica will be applied to both single- and dual-core processors. As it has with Intel's VT, virtualisation software specialist VMware today affirmed its support for Pacifica. What else can it do? Virtualisation is going to be a key component of the x86 platform, and it has to deal with that. Better to leverage VT and Pacifica to simplify and enhance its own code than try and battle both with a software-only solution. ® Related stories P4 to get Virtualisation Tech before dual-cores do Intel drops 'Vanderpool' handle AMD's 2006 roadmap - details emerge Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule AMD updates roadmap Intel to bring server-style virtualisation to desktop chips
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2005

Bulldog to resubmit BT complaint

A row between Bulldog and BT over fault repair times is rumbling on even though the formal complaint has been pulled - for now at least. Last week the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) announced that the dispute was withdrawn by Bulldog "due to significant progress having been made on the BT LLU (local loop unbundling) Fault Repair Terms and Conditions". However, the complaint about discriminatory fault repair times contained three parts. And while Cable & Wireless-owned Bulldog has withdrawn two of the three because it says BT has agreed to provide new customer care levels, it intends to resubmit another complaint on the third issue. In a statement C&W said: "Bulldog requested three new fault care levels, two of which would provide parity with BT's wholesale broadband products, and the third of which would provide parity with BT's PPC (partial private circuits). BT has now agreed to provide the two new care levels providing parity with its two wholesale broadband products. It has not agreed to provide the third care level (ie parity with PPCs). "Bulldog has withdrawn the dispute, as two of the three issues have been resolved, and is planning to resubmit the dispute on the third point," it said. Snag is, BT doesn't quite see it that way. According to a BT Wholesale spokeswoman, BT hasn't budged an inch. She told us: "BT has demonstrated to Bulldog that it definitely does not discriminate against its Wholesale customers. BT has also said that it is reasonable for Bulldog to request a new product. "BT believes that it would be appropriate for Bulldog to continue with the facilitation offered by the OTA to achieve the new product, rather than to go to dispute. As a result the dispute has been withdrawn," she said. Yesterday, BT boss Ben Verwaayen - who reckons BT is changing into an "innovation company" - told the UK's telecoms industry to stop moaning and "get on with life". ® Related stories 'LLU Czar' to rule on Bulldog/BT dispute UK LLU improving says Telecoms Adjudicator a href="/2005/03/29/bt_verwaayen/">BT tells industry to 'get on with life'
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2005
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Griffin launches iVault to encase iPod Shuffle

iPod accessory maker Griffin Technology will ship its first add-on for Apple's iPod Shuffle in two months' time: a range of brightly coloured aluminium "armour" cases. The iVault entirely surrounds the Shuffle, locking the MP3 player in place with four screws that bond the holder's front and back halves together. Anodized red, blue, purple and silver, the aluminium iVault not only gives the white Shuffle that Maglite look, but also some security and weight, almost doubling the player's mass from to 22.1g (0.8oz) to 42.5g (1.5oz). The case exposes the earphone socket, control wheel, status LED, rear power switch, and base USB connector. The iVault range is scheduled to ship in May, for $30 a pop. In the US, Griffin is already taking pre-orders for the product via its website. UK readers should watch out for the iVault's debut at local Griffin distributor AM Micro. ® Related stories Should iPods carry health warnings? Australian school bans iPod Inspector Gadget hits Gizmoville Matsushita readies iTunes-friendly music player Apple's iPod stokes MP3 player market 'boom' Apple faces patent lawsuits over its iPod Sony preps iPod Shuffle 'killer' Griffin adds remote control, Bluetooth audio to iPods, Macs iTrip maker readies 'smart' iPod car adaptor Related reviews Creative MuVo V200 Creative MuVo Micro N200 MP3 player Apple iPod Shuffle Griffin radioShark
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2005

Welsh villages lose analogue services

Two villages in Wales are the first in the UK to lose their analogue TV signal - it was switched off early this morning. The government has been running a trial since November to see how people react to the changeover. If the people of Ferryside and Llansteffan are anything to go by all the government needs to do is give everyone a free Freeview box and they'll be happy to change. Analogue broadcasting is expected to be switched off across the country in 2012. The 450 households were given set-top boxes in November last year and a helpline set up to offer technical advice. The vast majority of people installed the boxes themselves but there was one-to-one support available for older residents. Almost everyone, 98 per cent of the 85 per cent who responded, wanted to keep the digital services. Previously the two villages, just south of Carmarthen, had access to four basic channels, on a weak signal, but not Channel Five. Thanks to the online Welsh dictionary provided by the University of Wales, Lampeter here. ® Related stories Sheep have best friends: official OpenOffice.org learns Welsh Welsh open sourcerers get language boost
John Oates, 30 Mar 2005

NHS chief cans patient control over health record access

Government claims that patients would be able to opt out of the new National Health Service care records service (NHS CRS) have been undermined by the Department of Health's head of digital information policy. Assurances on privacy and confidentiality have previously been made by the Minister responsible for the NHS Programme for IT, John Hutton, but in a series of emails to a GP policy boss Phil Walker made it clear that patients will have little real control over their personal records. According to a report by Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Walker said that decisions regarding the storage of patient data would primarily be the responsibility of the GP, and that the patient would have no right to veto the recording of information, or to say what should or should not be recorded. A spokesman later claimed to the programme that patients could discuss what details were recorded with their doctor, and have control over who is allowed to access them, except in an emergency. This was claimed as constituting the "opt out" Hutton had previously offered, and Walker's emails were claimed to be entirely in line with this policy. The arguments over patient records arise from the nature of the change being brought in with the NHS CRS. Currently patient records are held by the GP in whatever format the GP chooses, whereas the new centralised system will allow instant access to any patient's medical records from anywhere within the NHS. In principle this should make treating patients throughout the service more efficient and reliable, and immediate access to data could be life-saving in emergencies. But who is allowed to access the data, when, and the nature of the data recorded clearly becomes an issue of concern for both the patient and the GP. Seeking to squash suspicions about this area for the new centralised NHS IT structure, Hutton had said that patients could choose to have no records kept on the NHS CRS at all, or to restrict access to sensitive information in a sealed "electronic envelope" which could be accessed only in emergencies. Walker's statements however seem to suggest that the patient's rights here are dependent on the particular GP agreeing to them, i.e. it's not a patient opt-out, it's a GP-agreed patient opt-out. If this is the case, Hutton's previous statements have been somewhat opaque on the subject. In answer to a parliamentary question last year, Hutton said: "The national programme for information technology is incorporating stringent security controls and safeguards that will mean patients have more control over who has access to their information than is possible with existing systems... A fundamental principle in the implementation of the national health service care records service (NHS CRS) is that confidentiality and privacy of sensitive patient information must not be compromised" and "Patients will have the right to specify that detailed information recorded at the point of contact with the NHS should not be available to other NHS organisations via the summary record held on their NHS care record. They will also have the right to define some information as especially sensitive and only accessible under terms of explicit consent. This reinforces the key statutory safeguards set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, with which all information users must comply. These facilities have been designed in to the NHS CRS... "The Data Protection Act also provides patients with a right, where they are suffering substantial damage or distress, to object to processing of their data, including to prevent their data being held at all in an identifiable form, though this is expected to be a very rare event. We are currently considering how this right should apply to implementation of the NHS care record." (Examples of other Hutton answers can be found here and here.) Today's revelations cast considerable doubt over these apparently cast-iron guarantees, and reopen the whole question of patient rights, privacy and confidentiality. In another answer last year Hutton trailed a "major public awareness campaign... to address the full range of issues posed by implementation of a national health service care records service (NHS CRS) and to ensure that NHS patients know their rights and how information about them can be used within the health service." Right now that looks just a little bit urgent, although the NHS should probably nail down what the policy actually is before it kicks off the campaign. ® Related Stories: DoH broadens technology choice for GPs NPfIT boss prepares to cut failing suppliers GPs have no faith in £6bn NHS IT programme Flagship NHS project in danger
John Lettice, 30 Mar 2005

Tiscali France sale imminent

Tiscali's sale of its French operation is expected to be done and dusted shortly, the European ISP confirmed today. Publishing its draft results for 2004 the company said: "The Board of Directors of Tiscali SpA has analysed the offers received for the acquisition of the French subsidiary, Liberty Surf, and has empowered the Executive Directors for its disposal which is expected to be formalised shortly." Telecom Italia is favourite to snap up the business for anywhere between €250m to €300m as Tiscali looks to flog its French operation to pay-off a €250m loan due in July. The deal could be inked as early as this week. Elsewhere, Tiscali reported that revenues for the year were up 20 per cent from €901m in 2003 to €1.08bn in the 12 months to the end of December 2004. Revenues from its internet access business (both dial-up and broadband) accounted for 68 per cent of turnover. The ISP's pre-tax loss declined by 9 per cent to €269.1m from €295.6m. At the end of December 2004, Tiscali had 7.4m internet punters including 5.7m dial-up users and 1.65 ADSL customers - 840,000 more broadband users than the year before. ® Related stories Tiscali France sale to be inked next week Tiscali 'flogs French ISP' Bids made for Tiscali France Tiscali denies France sell-off reports
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2005
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Buffalo TeraStation Network-Attached Storage

ReviewReview The Network-Attached Storage (NAS) appliance may be the easiest way to communal storage to your network, but these products are often overly expensive, particularly for small businesses. Take Iomega's NAS 200d, for example. It offers an impressive range of storage management features but the bottom line is you're getting barely 500GB of hard disk space yet spending over a grand. Buffalo Technology is aiming to turn this notion on its head, as its compact TeraStation delivers a whopping 1TB for around £600. Even more remarkably, the appliance offers full support for a wide range of RAID arrays allowing you to implement fault tolerance as well, writes Dave Mitchell. The TeraStation is reasonably well designed and will look good on any desktop. The front panel is home to an impressive range of status indicators showing general operations plus disk and network activity, but it will also keep you posted on disk errors and when the drives have reached full capacity. The appliance is equipped with a 266MHz Freescale PowerPC processor teamed with a healthy 512MB of SDRAM. The network connection comes courtesy of a Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controller. Buffalo's controller board has all components hardwired so there's no option to upgrade. There's a basic Linux kernel running on all this hardware. The storage is provided by a quartet of 250GB Western Digital ATA-100 hard disks mounted in a cage above the main board. It all looks good so far but you'll need plenty of patience when swapping out a failed hard disk. To access the hard disk cage you must first remove the unit's four rubber feet, the main cover, the front panel, the internal chassis side panel, the disk cage mounting screws, and all power and interface cables. Stay calm during reassembly - we dropped one of the last screws inside the chassis and had to dismantle the whole unit again to retrieve it. Installation won't take long as Buffalo's TeraNavigator utility hunts down appliances on the network and leads you through initial configuration. You provide a name and IP address and then decide on how you want to use the hard disks. All four drives can be combined into a single RAID 0 stripe or you can opt for two RAID 1 mirrors which will halve capacity. For RAID 5, three disks are combined, with the fourth used to store parity data. Or you can use all four as individual devices, or JBODs (which stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks - honest). Four USB 2.0 ports add some extra versatility as you can add external hard disks or connect USB printers and share them over the network. A client utility is installed on each workstation which displays all available TeraStations, their IP addresses and the status of the hard disks. You can view network shares and jump straight over to the web browser management interface. This is well designed and easy to use with all options accessible from a tidy menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Client support is basic but good enough for the target market as the TeraStation supports the CIFS/SMB and AFP protocols allowing both Windows and Macintosh clients to access it. It'll also function as an FTP server, and you can decide which options are to be active for each shared volume. Usefully, a Recycle Bin is provided for each share and can be enabled or disabled as required. These also apply to any USB drives as well. We tested these features using a Maxtor OneTouch and USB Flashdisk and the appliance worked fine with them, although it's worth noting that NTFS partitions are not supported. Access can be controlled with usernames and groups, while read or write permissions can be applied on an individual basis or by group membership. Disk quotas aren't supported so you can't limit the amount of space a user can have. Back-up options are surprisingly good as up to eight full or differential tasks can be created to secure selected shares to another location on the internal drives or to an attached USB device. Each job can be scheduled to run at regular intervals and data can be compressed and encrypted. You can also copy data to another TeraStation and the management interface will show all available units on the network. Verdict The TeraStation offers a big serving of networked storage at a price well suited to small businesses and individuals on a tight budget. Access controls are more limited than the higher end NAS appliances and disk removal is a real pain but for the price the TeraStation is very tempting. Review by Buffalo Technology TeraStation   Rating 95%   Price £617 inc. VAT   More info The Buffalo TeraStation site Recent Reviews Creative MuVo V200 Creative MuVo Micro N200 MP3 player Fossil Wrist PDA FX2008 Nokia 9300 Communicator Olympus m:robe 500i media player Nintendo DS handheld games console Netgear MP101 wireless music player Seagate 5GB USB 2.0 Pocket Hard Drive
Trusted Reviews, 30 Mar 2005

Webcam Aussie fights UK crime

A public-spirited Australian has ensured that the streets of Exmouth are safer for decent, God-fearing citizens after tipping off local cops about an incident he spotted on a webcam in the Devon town. Andrew Pritchard, 52, hails from Boorowa, New South Wales. According to the BBC, his little piece of the Lucky Country has only just been hooked up with broadband, and Pritchard wasted no time in availing himself of the net's finest content - the Exmouth webcam. Pritchard takes up the story: "I checked the clock tower and then swung around the Esplanade and looked at the rain. I was about to log off when this car came along and stopped abruptly on the Esplanade. Two guys got out and headed directly to the kiosk, they appeared to try out the shutters, it looked like they were trying to break in." The crimefighting Aussie immediately located the local police number and alerted the authorities before watching as "police officers arrived at the scene, with two running either side of the kiosk while another police car blocked the suspects' vehicle". Mercifully, the pair of suspects turned out to be not a pair of rampaging ne'er-do-wells, but rather a couple having a bit of a tiff. Nonetheless, police praised Pritchard noting that they "always rely on public spirited people to act as our eyes and ears and to report suspicious activity at the time they see it". They added: "Needless to say getting information from the other side of the world like this is not an everyday event." Quite so. Those readers wondering what on earth audio-visual producer Pritchard was doing logging onto Exmouth in his lunchbreak (3.30am Blighty time) should note that the webcam in question runs a continuous live feed reckoned by the Aussie to be "one of the best in the world". Judge for yourselves here (be patient - Exmouth is currently unavailable due to excess media interest). If you do, however, get connected and spot Colombian cocaine barons exchanging high-class merchandise with heavily-armed members of al-Qaeda by the Seafront Swingboats, do your civic duty and contact Devon and Cornwall police here. ® Related stories Webcam Trojan perv gets slapped wrist Chav burglar collared by webcam Webcam snares toff 'tea leaf'
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2005

Onliner gamer stabbed over 'stolen' cybersword

A Shanghai man stabbed to death a fellow online gamer who sold a virtual sword they had jointly won while playing "Legend of Mir 3", Reuters reports. Qiu Chengwei, 41, repeatedly stabbed Zhu Caoyuan after discovering that Zhu had sold the "dragon sabre" for 7,200 yuan (£464). Qiu had lent his friend the cybersabre last February, later reporting it as "stolen" when he learned of the transaction. Police, however, told him that - as the disputed weapon was virtual property - he had no recourse to law. A Shanghai court heard on Tuesday that "Zhu promised to hand over the cash but an angry Qui lost patience and attacked Zhu at his home, stabbing him in the left chest with great force and killing him." Qui has admitted "intentional injury" and awaits the court's verdict. China Daily notes that the sorry affair raises something of a legal poser regarding online "possessions". Wang Zongyu, an associate law professor at Beijing's Renmin University of China, told the paper: "The armour and swords in games should be deemed as private property as players have to spend money and time for them." A lawyer for a Shanghai-based internet game company countered: "The 'assets' of one player could mean nothing to others as they are by nature just data created by game providers." Indeed, a Japanese woman recently had a run-in with the authorites after deleting her ex's online gaming data - including clothes and weapons. In this case, though, she was charged with "violating a law banning illegal access" rather than offences pertaining to the wanton destruction of her former lover's virtual goods and chattels. ® Related stories Spurned woman deletes ex's gaming data Greece to face Euro court over video games ban Botnet used to boost online gaming scores
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2005

ATI settles financial misconduct claims

ATI has agreed to cough up CAD900,000 ($743,000) to the Ontario Securities Commission to settle allegations that it failed to disclose key financial performance information and made "misleading statements" to the Commission. The payment, agreed at an OSC hearing in Toronto yesterday, will see ATI pay CAD400,000 to cover the costs incurred by the OSC during its five-year probe into the company and a further CAD500,000 in punitive damages. "We are pleased to put the matter behind us," ATI said in a statement. The company also agreed to institute new procedures on trading shares and corporate governance. The case goes back to April 2000, when the OSC began investigating claims that ATI had withheld from investors revelations of lower-than-expected revenue and earnings for Q3 FY2000. It was also alleged that a number of ATI executives profited from that failure to disclose by selling shares at a price above that which the shares would have commanded had ATI issued a profit warning for the quarter. That alert did not come until 24 May 2000. In January 2003, the OSC formally stated its allegations against ATI; company chairman Kwok Yuen Ho and his wife, Betty; the company's head of investor relations, Jo-Anne Chang, and her husband, David Stone; marketing admin manager Mary de la Torre and her husband, Alan Rae; and ATI general counsel Sally Daub. The named executives held their postions during the crucial period 1 September 1999 and 31 August 2000. The OSC was also due to hear yesterday a proposed settlement with de la Torre and Rae. The outcome of the hearing has not yet been made public. Today, hearings will open to probe the allegations made against the remaining executives and their partners. Daub, accused of lying to OSC investigators, reached a settlement with the Commission on 14 December 2004. She agreed to pay CAD5000 to cover costs. ® Related stories ATI posts 'strong' Q2 sales gains ATI announces phone video chip ATI paves way for sub-$50 graphics cards ATI ships AGP-edition X850 XT graphics chip ATI ships 'first' mobile AMD chipset ATI buys cable modem chip biz for $14m
Tony Smith, 30 Mar 2005

Bahnhof slams antipiracy ambush

Swedish ISP Bahnhof is considering legal action after it emerged that illegal material uncovered in a raid on its premises was placed there by a paid informant of the antipiracy group that mounted the operation. Swedish anti-piracy organisation Antipiratbyrån has confirmed to The Register that it has used a paid informant, dubbed Rouge, who is active in Sweden’s piracy underground, but also claims that underground activity in the country had dropped significantly since the raid. The two organizations have been locked in a public slanging match since Antipiratbyrån, together with Swedish officials, raided Bahnhof’s Stockholm offices on 10 March. Speaking to The Register, Jon Karlung, Banhof’s CEO, claimed that the pirated materials found on its servers were placed there by Rouge. “He logged in from outside,” he said. Karlung said that Rouge’s activities had potentially compromised the ISP’s systems: “We don’t know what this guy has been doing.” Bahnhof was “the victim of a badly arranged ambush”, said Karlung, which had only resulted in what Swedish police viewed as “a low priority case”. “Maybe we will take legal action against Antipiratbyrån,” he said. Henrek Pontën, a lawyer with Antipiratbyrån, confirmed that the agency had engaged Rouge to give it an in to the piracy underground in Sweden. He said Rouge had had contact with others inside Bahnhof. “What is true is four servers were taken by police [from Bahnhof],” said Pontën, and that one of these had pirated material on it. But Antipiratbyrån now appears at least willing to consider that Bahnhof may itself have been a victim of Sweden’s piracy underground. “We don’t agree with the picture Bahnhof has made,” said Pontën, but he said the two organizations were working to “clear things out.” Whether Bahnhof had been an unwitting victim of Rouge, illegal activity in Sweden had dropped since the raid, said Pontën. “The scene in Sweden is totally quiet right now.” This may in part be because Sweden’s digital underworld has turned its attention to Antipiratbyrån. Pontën confirmed the organization’s web site has been under attack since the raids. In addition, he said, Antipiratbyrån’s office had come under physical attack and he had received death threats. ® Related stories Swedish ISP raid prompts backlash Firms paying too much for software, says anti-piracy group UK DrinkorDie members convicted of software piracy Oz investigators bust 'file-sharing' ISP
Team Register, 30 Mar 2005

Science too hard for juries

A group of British MPs has called for juries to be dropped from trials involving complicated scientific evidence. The Commons select committee on science and technology argues that jury members are often unable to evaluate this kind of testimony, and can be swayed by the charisma of the witness. It says that the effect of a witness' personality on the credibility of his evidence is widely acknowledged as a problem by the police, witnesses, prosecutors and judges, The Guardian reports. It blames a complacency within the Crown Prosecution Service, which it criticised for failing to tackle the issue. It also called for a system to be established that could validate scientific testimony before it is presented in court. It recommends establishing a Forensic Science Advisory Council to do just this. In their recommendation, the MPs note: "If key players in the criminal justice system, including the police and experienced expert witnesses, do not have faith in a jury's ability to distinguish between the strength of evidence and the personality of the expert witness presenting it, it is hard to see why anyone else should." But the jury is not the only group that fails to understand the evidence presented by expert witness, the committee found. It cited the case of Manchester solicitor Sally Clark, who in 1999 was convicted of murdering two of her babies. In 2003, the conviction was quashed, upon her second appeal. In her case, paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow testified that the odds of two cot deaths occurring in a family like Clark's was 73m to one, despite the fact that he was not a statistical expert. During the first appeal, the court refused to hear testimony from a statistician because it was "hardly rocket science". The committee also argued that the ban on research into jury deliberations should be lifted so that experts can investigate how juries deal with scientific evidence. This is not the first time the possibility of trials-without-jury has been raised: the collapse last week of a £60m corruption case has led to calls for judges to hear complex fraud cases without a jury. ® Related stories Scientists complain of industrial meddling in research Business school 'hack' raises ethical questions Hollywood brow-beats second BitTorrent Brit
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2005

Brits talk posh on the blower

Brits talk posh when chatting on the dog and bone, according to research by Privilege Insurance. More than a half of punters quizzed said they changed their accents while making calls with one in three 'fessing to making their voices sound "posher". Women are the worst offenders and almost twice as likely as men to stick a plum in their gob to talk toff. Four in ten Londoners admitted to talking posh, while three in ten from Up North admitted to hiding their regional accents. Said Privilege Insurance spokesman James Gore: "Surprisingly in this day and age, some people clearly still believe they are able to get a better deal in life if they have a posh accent." Whatever. ® Related stories Watch out, there be scammers about, warns watchdog How computers make kids dumb Amstrad slashes cost of E3 e-mailer
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2005

In the red states, no-one can hear you scream

Small-town meanness and technological illiteracy have come together in Ohio, where Butler County Commissioner Michael Fox believes that GPS "microchips" should be implanted in former convicts on parole and probation, so that they can be monitored remotely, and denied opportunities for rehabilitation more effectively. "People have these GPS chips put in their pets and - in some cases - in their children, in the event they are lost or kidnapped," local newspaper the Journal News quotes Fox as saying. "I don't see why the same can't be done with probationees." Fox has apparently made a muddle of various news reports covering, separately, the VeriChip, RFID badges for school children, and GPS. Obviously, there is no such thing as a GPS transceiver that can be implanted with a hypodermic needle as a tiny microchip. Such a gizmo would be as big as a pacemaker, and would have to be implanted surgically. But the delusion that "high technology" can solve all of mankind's problems with a tiny, "intelligent" gizmo, is a widespread and enduring one. It's no surprise that Fox got confused in his eagerness to pander to draconian law-and-order voters in his red state Valhalla. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones proved to be somewhat more realistic about the technology, if meaner. He would "support the type of electronic monitoring that delivers an electrical shock to an offender if he or she is doing something in violation of probation," the Journal News reports. "No type of electronic monitoring will keep an offender from committing another crime," he observed with refreshing technological realism. "Electronic monitoring doesn't stop them from moving around the community; it just lets you see where they were when a crime was committed," he lamented. So the good sheriff, unlike his addle-brained politician counterpart, does grasp the practical limits of extreme hi-tech cruelty; it's only a pity that he's less acquainted with the Eighth Amendment. Perhaps a pacemaker that he could disable remotely would suit him, and the wise voters of Ohio, even better than a hi-tech shock collar. ® Related stories Parent power detags US schoolkids Reach out and sneer: Dem radicals speak to the Red States Anti-RFID outfit deflates Mexican VeriChip hype Feds approve human RFID implants Barcelona nightclub chips customers Subdermal RFID chip provokes furore
Thomas C Greene, 30 Mar 2005
server room

Juniper snaps up Kagoor

Network equipment maker Juniper Networks is to acquire Kagoor Networks to give its VoIP business a little more oomph. Kagoor - which generated $5m in revenues last year - is big into internet telephony. In particular, its session border control (SBC) technology is vital to delivering security to VoIP and other rich media services. Now that Juniper is coughing up $67.5m to acquire Kagoor - its HQ is in California and its R&D centre is in Israel, btw - it will be able to get its mitts on the technology. Said Juniper bigwig Kittu Kolluri: "Network operators worldwide are increasingly looking to deliver enhanced VoIP and other rich services to their enterprise and consumer customers, but they need to do this in a secure and assured fashion. SBC technology is a key element in delivering these attributes." The deal is expected to be completed by June. ® Related stories Asterisk a star of the future? VoIP carriers launch international peering network VoIP security group goes on the defensive
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2005

Brits voice fraud fears over high-tech voting

The vast majority of Brits think new, high-tech voting methods, such as voting by email or through a dedicated website, will make it easier to commit electoral fraud, according to research. A MORI poll, commissioned by fraud specialists, Detica, also found that almost forty percent of the voting population in the UK is already concerned about election fraud. David Porter, head of security and risk at Detica, describes electoral fraud as "identity theft, pure and simple. Someone has taken over your voting account, if you like," he said. Although many potential voters had not noticed that no proof of ID is required to vote at polling stations, nearly sixty per cent think identity cards are the solution to electoral fraud. Detica itself is slightly more circumspect, and stops short of calling for the introduction of compulsory ID cards. Porter suggests that some kind of check on identity should be made when people turn up to vote at polling stations, but says that postal ballots are the most vulnerable target for would-be fraudsters, as recent events in Birmingham have demonstrated. "The authentication regime for postal votes is very weak," he notes. Three Labour councillors have appeared in a special Election Court, accused of vote rigging. The court heard that the men were caught handling unsealed postal ballots during the local elections in June last year. The Electoral Commission yesterday introduced a new code of conduct for those involved in handling postal votes in a bid to "minimise the risk or perception of fraud". Detica's research, which was conducted before the Election Court convened, found that over half the population thought postal votes would make it easier to commit electoral fraud. These fears are even more widespread for other voting channels, with 74 and 66 per cent respectively expressing concern about voting by SMS and email. Porter also warned against putting all faith in technology to solve this problem: "My advice to your readers would be to get down to the polling station and vote. I wouldn't pin your hopes on biometrics just yet," he said. On the flip side, younger people did say that new voting channels would make them more likely to vote: with 51 per cent saying a dedicated website would encourage them out of their voter apathy. Touch screen voting booths were the exception here, with some respondents reporting that they would be less likely to vote if the government introduced these. "People are more aware of fraud thanks to the publicity around phishing scams and so on," said Porter "If the government wants to introduce new voting channels, it needs to learn the security lessons of the big retailers and the banks." ® Related stories Politics needs a technology injection MPs heading for electoral online disaster Ireland faces 50m e-voting write-off E-gov to cost Europe 4bn+ Florida e-vote conspiracy theories grow
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2005

Spectrum-starved US prepares to feast

From being one of the most spectrum starved nations on earth, the US is racing towards offering a range of frequencies for wireless services that is in line with other developed economies. The opening up of the 3.6GHz band a few weeks back, with a simple ‘light licensing’ scheme and relatively generous power allowances, is a major step towards enabling operators to provide broadband wireless services, including mobile services, without making multimillion dollar investments in spectrum. And changes in technology, particularly from the pre-standard mobile WiMAX camp, are making the long neglected 2.3GHz bands look appealing again, with a new deployment in Massachusetts pointing the way forward. This roll-out, announced this week, is being undertaken by local service provider MegaNet in the state’s Bristol County around New Bedford. The service costs $20 to $40 a month (depending on speed), and can be accessed within a five-mile range of a transmission tower. The initial network will support up to 3,000 users with expansion plans to serve over 10,000. The plan would be unremarkable if it were not for three factors. First, a broadband wireless operator is offering full mobility, in direct competition with cellcos, with a flat rate for data that peaks at $40, with open access to the internet. This is the key promise of WiMAX, providing mobile broadband data for prices that make 3G look uneconomic, but MegaNet is delivering the promise now, using pre-WiMAX technology. In our view other, larger players will do the same Clearwire in 2.5GHz (once its NextNet technology supports full mobility) and other holders of 2.3GHz spectrum. Second, the cost of the network is about $100,000 (based on four base stations) and nearly all the cost of the customer premises equipment (CPE) is borne by the end user because, with the mobility factor, the service is so competitive with other cellular or DSL offerings, and the communities it serves are relatively wealthy. MegaNet is using mobile, non-line of sight technology from Navini, a specialist in highly mobile broadband wireless networks that is committed to supporting the 802.16e mobile WiMAX standard once that is ratified. The CPE is self installable so the customers, while paying for their terminals, do not have to pay for an engineer’s visit. These economics look highly attractive, despite the relatively high cost of Navini equipment compared to other pre-WiMAX options with more limited mobility. The third factor is that MegaNet is using 2.3GHz spectrum. Navini, though its customer list is short so far, is one of the pivotal start-ups in WiMAX because of its headstart in the market for 2.3GHz Wi-MAX. There is no official WiMAX profile for 2.3GHz, the US profiles are for 2.5GHz and 5.8GHz, but there are national licenses in this band, held by several major players and, until now, virtually unused. The adoption of equipment such as Ripwave in this band will demonstrate the suitability of the spectrum for WiMAX broadband wireless and is sure to put a 2.3GHz profile on the WiMAX Forum’s to-do list. The Ripwave equipment operates in various frequencies, but 2.3GHz is important because it is used in Korea for the upcoming WiMAXalike Wi-Bro service, and is likely to be significant in broadband plans for India and China too. Navini has been involved in several trials with major Korean operators, and also with BellSouth, one of the largest holders of 2.3GHz spectrum in the US, giving it a significance in early WiMAX beyond its small size, especially as it supplies the equipment for BellSouth’s trials, and is the OEM partner for Alcatel, BellSouth’s major next generation network supplier. The main holders of 2.3GHz in the US, which are Verizon, BellSouth, AT&T and the owners of the assets of former operator Metricom, have let the licenses gather dust, partly through fears of cannibalizing their other services and partly because the band is more difficult to exploit in America than elsewhere. This is because there is limited space compared to other countries, just 30MHz in two channels, from 2305MHz to 2320MHz and from 2345MHz to 2360MHz. Those two channels are separated by the DARS (Digital Audio Radio Service) band. This raises possible interference problems from DARS satellite radio terrestrial repeaters, which have high power limits (2,000 watts). The satellite radio operators, Sirius and XM, having paid $80m each for their DARS frequencies, are highly protective of their signals and even tried to limit 2.4GHz Wi-Fi. That move failed, but their aggression might cause problems for operators in 2.3GHz. However, Fujitsu is one company that believes that the spectral efficiency inherent in OFDM modulation, combined with work being done by various WiMAX developers on enhancing that still further, could make the WCS bands highly usable by 802.16. Several developments have turned new attention on 2.3GHz – the ability of spectrally efficient new technologies such as WiMAX to use them effectively without interference; the decision by the FCC to consider repossessing licenses that are not being actively used by 2007; and the need by the regional Bell operators to react to the growth of independent challengers such as Clearwire, using unlicensed or MMDS (2.5GHz) spectrum to launch broadband wireless offerings and chip away at DSL and cellular at the same time. The likely entry of South Korea Telecom, a major user of 2.3GHz broadband wireless in its home country, into the US market, via its joint venture with Earthlink, accentuates the threat. The opening up of 3.6GHz will only make this prospect worse, and the Bells with 2.3GHz assets may look at them in a new light, as a potential weapon to fight back. The MegaNet/Navini system, is using spectrum leased from a company called BalRivgam, whose business is acquiring and developing spectrum property. It already holds metro or rural licenses in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Boston, Minneapolis-St.Paul, and Milwaukee and is seeking to build a significant footprint across the country with a patchwork of licenses, creating a national system that can be leased to service providers and even to launch its own services. As Clearwire has shown, this will become an increasingly popular model – buying up currently undervalued spectrum assets at low cost, to create widespread coverage using a patchwork approach, and then adopting a two-tier model of leasing and direct services. Copyright © 2004, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories US telcos scramble for spectrum Make-or-break year for WiMAX WiMAX roadshow rolls into town
Faultline, 30 Mar 2005

Switzerland launches EDGE nationwide

Swisscom has announced a broadband mobile network based on EDGE technology with nationwide coverage. Live television, video streaming and the transmission of large files to phones are now possible nearly everywhere in Switzerland. EDGE data rates are three times faster than GPRS and increase mobile bandwidth from 30 to as much as 200 kbps. However, a specially enabled mobile phone, such as the Nokia Communicator 9300 (EDGE) or 9500 (EDGE+WLAN), is required for the new network. Swisscom Mobile also plans to launch an EDGE-enabled PC card this summer. From June, Swisscom Mobile will offer a flat rate of CHF 79 (£35.1) per month for mobile data communication (for up to 1 GB) on all broadband networks. EDGE complements Swisscom Mobile's existing technology mix, which includes UMTS and WLAN. UMTS requires an entirely new infrastructure of base stations, making the technology far more expensive than EDGE, which is based on the existing GSM technology. Despite its appeal, EDGE isn't widespread yet. Most mobile operators in Europe have been paying governments billions of euros to acquire a UMTS license. Offering a much cheaper EDGE subscription would not help recovering those investments. Swisscom Mobile says it remains committed to UMTS as the technology of the future, and will continue to expand the network. Swisscom Mobile's UMTS network currently supplies some 90 per cent of the Swiss population and is complemented by more than 800 WLAN hotspots enabling high bandwidths in some locations. Related stories Broadreach to bring Wi-Fi to motorway eateries T-Mobile widens UK airport Wi-Fi cover PC Card maker touts 'seamless' Wi-Fi, 3G access Swisscom to connect UK Premier Lodge hotels
Jan Libbenga, 30 Mar 2005

UK street scum face wrath of shouting lamppost

Graffiti artists, prostitutes, drug dealers and miscellaneous street scum across the UK face a new challenge to their nefarious activities today - the Q Star FlashCam-530 shouting lamppost currently being deployed across the nation. The vociferous US-developed FlashCam has already been attached to street furniture in 52 locations in London, Glasgow and Birmingham, where it has apparently been successful in holding back the tide of al fresco criminality. Q Star's blurb explains: The FlashCam-530 was designed to deter vandalism. The two most popular applications are deterring graffiti and illegal trash dumping. Water companies are using the system as a first line of defense in protecting water storage tanks against intruders. Some systems are being used to deter burglary. Other customers report it deters drug dealing and prostitution. The FlashCam-530 senses motion up to 100 feet away. When motion is detected, the system starts taking 35 mm photographs. A bright flash goes off and a loud voice message warns the intruder to "leave the area now" and that his/her photograph is being taken. Q Star's head honcho, Steve Galinsky - a former London Met police officer - enthused to the Guardian: "They have already caught lots of people - some quite literally with their pants down, engaged with prostitutes. The look of utter amazement on their faces when the camera starts to shout is priceless." We don't doubt it. The Guardian does, naturally, wonder exactly how the FlashCam distinguishes between strumpets administering illicit sexual relief to punters and old ladies out walking their dogs. We are reminded of the most excellent case of blaggers who lifted 60 CCTV cameras in Wakefield, despite said kit being fitted with speakers which enabled remote operators to issue stern warnings to would-be miscreants. Naturally, it all went a bit Pete Tong, with the thieves making off with the lot and the only effect of the amplified deterrent being to convince an old lady next door that she had heard the voice of God "telling her, in a strong Lancashire accent, to leave the vicinity as soon as possible". ® Related stories Blaggers lift 60 CCTV cameras Chav burglar collared by webcam Council suspends CCTV Peeping Toms
Lester Haines, 30 Mar 2005
globalisation

Analysts slam hacker law changes

Technology darling Derek Wyatt MP is proposing changes to the Computer Misuse Act next week but analysts from the Butler Group says the changes don't go far enough. Wyatt, generally seen as a "tech-friendly" MP, is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group. He wants to increase sentences for hacking from six months currently to two years. And he wants to introduce a specific offense for Denial of Service attacks. But Wyatt has only got the equivalent of an "elevator pitch" to convince Parliament. Wyatt is proposing a Ten Minute Rule Bill next Tuesday 5 April. Alan Lawson, analyst at the Butler Group, said: "These recommendations are simply too light...as hardened criminals would continue to ignore this legislation, if enacted." Lawson also said there was a high likelihood of the government ignoring the recomendations. Derek Wyatt, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, told El Reg: "Well they're being naive if they think there's any chance of it becoming legislation - that's not the point. The chances are the election will be announced just after I finish speaking. But the point is to get this out there and into the public domain."® Related stories Politics needs a technology injection MP pitches Denial of Service law to Parliament MPs hold inquiry into UK computer crime law
John Oates, 30 Mar 2005

Microsoft, Intel and HP unite for small biz

Microsoft, Intel and HP have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help Europe's smaller businesses get access to European Community grants for investing in technology. The EU Grants Advisor Consortium will have a dedicated website and offer consulting advice on technology, employment and business grants. It will even help small businesses fill in the forms to apply for such grants. There are 20 million small and medium businesses across Europe employing 140 million people. This initiative aims to improves the percentage of these businesses which are aware of EC grants - 55 per cent do not know there are such grants. Only four per cent of SMEs apply for grants and of those only a quarter are successful and win funding. The programme was piloted in Spain and more recently in the Czech Republic and France. For more information there's a Q&A on Microsoft's site here. ® Related stories EC sees tiny increase in women in science jobs Microsoft and EC row deepens EC launches 'Your Europe' portal
John Oates, 30 Mar 2005

Galactic prang fingered in star formation mystery

Astronomers now have direct evidence that stars form when galaxies collide. Data from the ISO, the European Space Agency's (ESA) infrared observatory, has shown that the shock wave caused by the collision of two galaxies has excited the gas from which new stars form. The discovery could shed light on how the first ever stars formed. It has been known for a while that shock waves from supernovae excite clouds of gas, which causes the cloud to collapse and eventually to form a new star. Hydrogen molecules radiate at a particular frequency when they are excited by this process, and it is this signature that scientists have spotted in the colliding galaxies known collectively as Antennae. The region where they overlap is very rich in excited molecular hydrogen. The two galaxies are located 60m light-years away in the constellation 'Corvus'. They are at a very early stage (relatively speaking) in their encounter. Although the excitation of the gas has been detected, there are relatively few supernovae in the region which means that winds from these massive explosions cannot be responsible for getting the hydrogen all worked up: it has to be a result of the collision. The researchers now believe that shock waves from collisions of early clouds of gas could have triggered the formation of the very first stars. The researchers from the AIRUB Institute in Bochu and the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie in Heidelberg estimate that new stars will be born over the next million years or so, causing the galaxies to become twice as bright in the infrared. The results will be published in full in Astronomy & Astrophysics, this spring.® Related stories Astronomers spot first ever dark galaxy New 'scope snaps Orion in infrared Galaxies rent asunder in huge cosmic collision
Lucy Sherriff, 30 Mar 2005

Carphone takes on calling cards with cut price calls

The Carphone Warehouse has unveiled a new mobile phone network geared to punters who make lots of international calls. With no line rental or contract, calls from Mobile World are up to 98 per cent cheaper than some rivals, claims Carphone. For instance, a call to the US or Canada via Mobile World costs 5p a minute. For 6p a minute, callers can buzz Australia, New Zealand, China or Hong Kong. A call to China using a BT phone box, on the other hand, would cost £3 a minute while Vodafone would cost £1.49 a minute. Carphone reckons its service will tap into the calling card market which gives punters the chance to make cheap overseas calls. This market is worth around £500m a year in the UK and Carphone reckons that many punters are being ripped off by hidden charges. Said Carphone chief exec Charles Dunstone: "There are a huge number of people in the UK who need to make regular international calls to family and friends abroad or to international work colleagues. Until now they have either had to pay extortionate rates on their mobile or face the mass confusion of the calling card market, riddled with hidden charges." ® Related stories Carphone slips in 'stealth' price rise Fresh undercuts discounted easyMobile tariffs CPW halves cost of mobile phone calls
Tim Richardson, 30 Mar 2005

HP's Hurd lets us pretend Compaq never happened

HP's board hired Mark Hurd as the company's new CEO for three main reasons - he's duller than Carly Fiorina, he's supposed to have more operational expertise than Fiorina, and he's not at all associated with the Compaq acquisition Fiorina engineered. Hiring reason number three stands out after Hurd today held his first press conference. The subject of the Compaq buy only came up once or twice during the event - a rarity in HP Land. The failures, the successes, the analyst scorn, the employee loathing all belong to Hurd but aren't of him. He didn't create the mess. He has to clean it up. "I can think of few companies that have such a strong foundation of talent, leading edge (research and development) and enviable market position," Hurd said, during the press conference. He's right too. It's not like Fiorina turned HP into a total disaster from a financial point of view. HP had its up and downs during her tenure but quite a few major tech players still have their pre-bubble CEOs in place and have not performed as well as HP in recent years. It's that Compaq albatross hanging around Fiorina's neck that pushed her onto the exclusive unemployment line reserved for fabulously wealthy business superstars. She just could not escape the Compaq baggage. It's always amusing to see a fresh CEO try to navigate his way through that initial press conference. Reporters want immediate answers about what direction the company will take. What changes will be made. When will they be made. Who's on their way up? Who's on their way out? Hurd did the standard dance and emphasized that he doesn't start until April 1 and had only been at HP's headquarters since "11 o'clock last night." "I think I will take my time to understand where we are before we go out with any strategy discussions about really any topic at this point," he said. Hurd also faced the inevitable questions about whether or not he planned to break HP up either into consumer and enterprise companies or into separate computing and printing/imaging firms. Fiorina met the same questions but had fewer answer options. She could hardly shove HP through a difficult breakup just a couple years after cramming it together with Compaq. Hurd, however, might be able to pull this off . . . eventually. He doesn't have the tonnage of ill will weighing him down. . . yet. One reporter who pushed hard on the breakup issue received the only retort that neared the confrontational. "I really do think that question is probably misplaced," Hurd said. Fiorina would have killed to use that line - just once. But past actions made dodging the issue impossible. To be sure, Hurd will be loved for taking a bit of pressure off HP. No need to have the press always pounding away on the company's ills. "Nothing to see here. I used to sell ATMs. I'm boring. Check out my crap suit." Hurd will also be loved if he can in fact make HP a smooth running machine - Dellian, if you will. Fiorina had many pieces of flair, but she failed to master the craft that is nuts and bolts. At one point, Hurd indirectly charged Fiorina with making mistakes. "It's also clear that the company is not performing to its potential," he said. Hurd then quickly backed away from this terse statement, saying he did not want to talk about the past. "The one thing that has probably always stood out to me is the passion of HP's employees." Good. "When I look at HP, I see a company that is fundamentally sound." Better. We're not going to see any disastrous mergers out of you, are we? We'd like to forget that Compaq mess. Please, dear god, let us forget and move on. "I don't think you'll find me really trying to do anything very tricky." That's it! ® Related stories Never Hurd of the new HP boss? HP bets on the Hurd mentality for CEO Boeing sends flirtatious CEO packing HP whacks own storage software in favor of AppIQ
Ashlee Vance, 30 Mar 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

IBM sells storage software to partner Cisco

As promised, IBM today came out swinging against EMC in the storage software wars, saying it achieved a "watershed moment in the storage industry" by establishing sales momentum. A watershed moment in the history of gwana-gwana, perhaps, as new products were nowhere to be seen. IBM decided to take a shot at rival EMC by announcing the 1,000th customer of its storage virtualization software during an event in Cambridge, Massachusetts - a happening exclusively predicted yesterday by El Reg. The 1,000th customer - Cisco - was rolled out to prove that IBM is making a serious charge in the storage software market dominated by EMC and Veritas. IBM, in fact, held the momentum event in Massachusetts just 20 miles from EMC's headquarters to really drive home its attacking stance. "IBM offers the industry's broadest range of storage virtualization capabilities from software to disk to tape solutions," said new IBM storage GM Andy Monshaw. "Building on our broad set of Virtualization Engine technologies for servers, today's announcement marks a milestone in delivering innovation that matters for our clients and the industry." IBM rolled out plenty of storage software customers such as IKON, Oakwood Healthcare and the always admired city of Saskatoon. That 1,000th customer, however, was a bit dubious. Cisco is one of IBM's main storage partners. IBM, for example, on Tuesday dropped the price of the Cisco MDS 9120 Fibre Channel switch it resells by as much as $2,000 on some models. And there's Cisco appearing one day later in an IBM customer momentum press release. IBM can't control in which order the customers come in, but you'd think it might ask Cisco to hold off on a storage virtualization software purchase to let a real customer take that prized 1,000th spot. Cisco notably did not provide a statement in the IBM press release as is standard procedure in these momentum exercises - especially if they are "watershed moments." We digress. IBM held the event to tout its wide range of virtualization products, stretching from file systems and managers to servers and switches. It also gave the company a chance to drag Monshaw - the third storage GM in as many years - in front of East Coast reporters. (IBM didn't invite any non-East Coast press to the shindig.) One of IBM's biggest advantages in this battle is its line of Unix servers that are typically attached to high-end SANs (storage area networks). These popular systems give IBM a direct tie in to the customer. So far though, storage specialists such as EMC and Veritas have dominated the sales of fancy virtualization code - not that any vendor is selling tons of the stuff. EMC did its best to counter IBM's announcement by making its own news today. The vendor didn't have a 1,000th customer to expose but did have a new product called ControlCenter SAN Advisor. What does this software do? Take it away, EMC. "SAN Advisor features an automated data import engine that downloads detailed SAN environment data and uses it for analysis, baselining, SAN modeling and predictive change management testing. SAN Advisor helps ensure peak availability by automatically validating the SAN against 130 rules for availability and array configuration." It's your standard "does all this hardware and software work together?" tool. The code can warn of potential errors that might occur when a new product is added to a SAN and can also run some performance analysis tests. It starts at $5,000. ® Related stories IBM plans storage blitz on EMC's turf Seagate 5GB USB 2.0 Pocket Hard Drive IDC's storage winners and losers Microsoft's Sun server fetish revealed IBM rediscovers ancient plan for renting powerful computers
Ashlee Vance, 30 Mar 2005