22nd > April > 2005 Archive

fingers pointing at man

Asia boosts Nokia earnings

With its first positive financial news for a year, Nokia bounded past analyst expectations, and raised its outlook for the remainder of 2005. In Q1 FY 2005, Nokia sales rose 17 per cent year-on-year to €7.4 bn, with net income up to €1.13bn, up from €1bn a year ago. Operating margin fell by a percentage to point to 15.1, while the average selling price is pegged at €111. The greatest growth came from Asia, with China up 69 per cent and the APAC region up 44 per cent, while CEO Jorma Olila vowed to improve the relatively poor performance in the Americas. US success with the 2110 handset once made Nokia a global company, and hastened the demise of analog. But North American carriers' preference for no name handsets, and the public's appetite for unimaginative clones leaves Nokia in the cold. Nokia says the migration away from TDMA also hurt it. Although mobile phones contribute 61 pennies for every pound Nokia earns, sales were up in the other divisions. Networks saw a tidy profit of €221m on sales of €1.4bn, up six per cent from last year. The troubled Multimedia division is back in the black, recording a €155m profit on sales of €1.13bn. The Enterprise business saw the strongest sales growth, up 67 per cent to €307m and is almost in the black, losing €9m. Competitors continue to nibble away at the handset No.1, with Nokia's share slipping to 32 per cent from the final quarter of FY 2004. Nokia expects the world's handset makers to ship 740m mobiles in 2005, up from 643m last year. Nokia bought back 54m shares in the quarter at a cost of €651m. ® Related stories Nokia smiles through falling profits[Q4 2004] Nokia bows to cellcos in midrange[Q3 2004] Nokia blames prices for profit fall Nokia sees sunnier earnings in Q3 Nokia warning send shares falling Jormaspeak - Nokia CEO explains targets, culls and price cuts Nokia: sales slump caused by inadequate product range Nokia warns of handset sales slip
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Apr 2005

Longhorn is big - no, this time we mean it

Having scaled back the vision for Longhorn, Microsoft is re-setting expectations to help drive enthusiasm around the delayed operating system. Chief executive Steve Ballmer was on the Longhorn stump this week calling the repeatedly delayed operating system a platform for the next 10 years. At the Microsoft's Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas, he outlined six key features, or "pillars". His comments come after Microsoft last year ripped the guts from the Longhorn vision that had been laid-out by Microsoft's chief software architect, Bill Gates, in 2003. Speaking at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, California, that year, Gates equated Longhorn with Windows 95, calling Longhorn Microsoft's biggest release of the decade. He unveiled three systems he believed would grant Longhorn that status: the WinFS storage subsystem - christened Longhorn's "Holy Grail" by Gates - the WinFX mark-up architecture and Avalon XML interface, and the Indigo web services communications layer. Last year, though, Microsoft removed WinFS, Indigo and elements of Avalon and re-scheduled them as add-ins to Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP so Longhorn could hit Microsoft's revised 2006 product shipment date. Microsoft has focused since then on more bread-and-butter operating system features to sell Longhorn around scalability, security, management and reliability. Sure enough, Ballmer re-enforced that message at MMS, classifying Longhorn's six pillars as support for 64-bit chip sets, calling search "one of the primary enhancements", saying there’d been a "lot of work" to make Longhorn easier to deploy and manage, improvements to make sure Windows "really just works" without complexity and hassle, and updates to both home and mobile computing. Ballmer claimed Longhorn would take 70 per cent fewer reboots than previous versions of Windows. He termed this the “new" Longhorn. "I think what most people know on a historical basis doesn't really reflect what we will ship next year," he said. ® Related stories New Microsoft Longhorn chief is indigestion expert Avalon, WinFS decoupled for Windows Shorthorn Why Longhorn is going to be different
Gavin Clarke, 22 Apr 2005

Borland open sources JBuilder

Borland Software is releasing code from its core JBuilder integrated development environment (IDE) into the Eclipse open source community after a surprise drop in first-quarter sales. The company hopes to offset JBuilder's R&D expenses by putting the suite into Eclipse, where the open source community would - theoretically - drive API and feature improvements. Speaking to Wall Street analysts yesterday, Borland's chief executive Dale Fuller indicated Borland would continue to develop an enhanced version of JBuilder. "We will give customers something that's differentiated in the market and do it with a lot less investment on our part," Fuller said. Borland is expected to announce full details of its plans during the next couple of weeks, however Fuller did indicate Borland expects to make money from the move by charging enterprise users for support of the open source product. Borland was unable to provide further details at time of going to press. The company's decision, while not unexpected, will be seen by some in the open source community as an attempt to use Eclipse as dumping ground for dying products. JBuilder was once a market leader, according to analysts, that led IBM's Visual Age for Java, later re-branded as WebSphere by IBM. For the overall quarter to March 31, Borland reported increase net income to $3.6m, up from $713,000, on revenue that fell 2.1 per cent to $71.3m. Earnings per share (EPS) came in at half their total for the same period last year, on 3 cents. The company said it closed its lowest number of deals worth more than $1m for six quarters. Earlier this month, Borland warned Wall St to expect revenue between $70m and $72m, with EPS between 3 cents and 5 cents. Fuller declared he was "personally frustrated" by the quarter's performance.® Related stories Borland splits Together for Visual Studio .NET Borland to miss Q1 targets Borland: you only live thrice
Gavin Clarke, 22 Apr 2005
hands waving dollar bills in the air

AMD tells software companies to re-think dual core

AMD has urged ISVs to re-examine their software licensing policies for dual-core systems, the same day IBM reportedly said it will pursue separate policies for x86 and its own Power5 processor. While Oracle has declared it will treat dual core chips as separate processors, and price its software accordingly, Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft have pledged to treat multi-core chips as a single product. Ben Williams, an AMD vice president, said Thursday the software industry "really has to take a hard look at licensing" as chip manufacturers go beyond dual core. Williams was speaking the same day AMD launched its first dual-core Opteron processor. "Dual core is only the beginning. We have multi-core chips and more and more virtualization coming," Williams said. AMD's comments came as an unnamed IBM representative told told CNet that IBM would treat dual core x86 processors as a single chip, because the chips provide only "incremental" advances. However, IBM will charge per core on Power5. The company justified the move saying its processor - used in the pSeries servers for Unix and Linux - featured more advances and that software would need to be optimized accordingly. The change comes after IBM had said it would price its software for each core on x86 separately. IBM was unavailable to confirm the new policy at the time of going to press. The move, though, would seem to be geared to protecting the company's software income on the pSeries. Overall, sales of WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli and Lotus software last year accounted for 15.7 per cent of IBM's revenue compared to 32.3 per cent for hardware. Software, though, produces a greater margin, with 87.3 per cent gross profit for 2004 compared to hardware's 29.6 per cent. Last year, analysts at the Gartner Group warned customers could see their software licensing costs double within two years as ISVs charged per core instead of per processor. Garter said server virtualization and computing-on-demand strategies would also help to drive-up software licensing.® Related stories AMD dual-core Opteron pricing slips out McNealy slaps Oracle over pricing Enterprise software faces 50 per cent price hike
Gavin Clarke, 22 Apr 2005

Email destroys the mind faster than marijuana - study

Modern technology depletes human cognitive abilities more rapidly than drugs, according to a psychiatric study conducted at King's College, London. And the curse of 'messaging' is to blame. Email users suffered a 10 per cent drop in IQ scores, more than twice the fall recorded by marijuana users, in a clinical trial of over a thousand participants. Doziness, lethargy and an inability to focus are classic characteristics of a spliffhead, but email users exhibited these particular symptoms to a "startling" degree, according to Dr Glenn Wilson. The deterioration in mental capacity was the direct result of the trialists' addiction to technology, researchers discovered. Email addicts were bombarded by context switches and developed an inability to distinguish between trivial and significant messages. Incredibly, 20 per cent of trialists jeopardized their immediate social relations by rushing off to "check their messages" in the middle of a conversation. Wilson's research is no flash in the pan. Computer technology in its modern, "interconnected" form is dumbing down the population more rapidly than television. A study of 100,000 school children in over 30 countries around the world testified that non-computer using kids performed better in literacy and numeracy schools than PC-using children. Education experts have dubbed it the "problem solving deficit disorder". Awash with facts, we've forgotten how to think. King's College's pioneering study focussed solely on messaging - but there are many other emerging technologies that could be dumbing down technologies too, and their consequences haven't been fully explored. We look forward to studies that examine the IQ lossage involved in the many other unavoidable parts of everyday life. Chores such as editing the Windows Registry (-2) , writing a weblog (-15), or reading the Ask Jack column in The Guardian (-175). ® Related link Emails 'pose threat to IQ' Related stories How computers make kids dumb RIAA attacking our culture, the American Mind
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Apr 2005
fingers pointing at man

Boston jumps on Opteron bandwagon

Boston Limited is spreading its processor wings, by taking on AMD for the first time. The server room products distie is kicking off with its own-brand AMD Opteron and AMD dual-core rack servers in 1U, 2U, 3U and 4U heights. And now for a quote from Boston’s MD, Manoj Nayee, to explain the firm’s defection from the Intel-only camp: "Boston Limited has historically provided exclusively Supermicro Intel-based server solutions. However, our new range brings the AMD option into the realms of a server-class reality, complete with a full range of features not previously available to the OEM community including genuine server management." So there you have it. ® Related stories Adaptec tempts mobo makers with Serial ATA Supermicro preps dual Itanium 2 mobos
Team Register, 22 Apr 2005

Qwest makes final offer for MCI

Qwest is making a last ditch attempt to acquire MCI after upping its bid to $9.75bn. This "best and final offer" for a tie-up between US telcos MCI and Qwest is 30 per cent higher that the one made by Verizon and accepted by the company formerly known as WorldCom. In a letter detailing the latest offer Qwest told MCI: "Additional financing commitments of $1bn, resulting in a total committed financing of $7.25bn, will be delivered to your advisors today. This increase is responsive to the MCI Board's requests for additional liquidity to ensure that the combined company has the financial resources to compete aggressively in the market place and maintain a 'best in class' world-wide network." Earlier this month press reports suggested that MCI was holding out for an offer of $30 a share. Qwest's latest offer, as it happens, equates to $30 a share. If the "sources" behind that story are right, it might just be enough for MCI to turn its back on Verizon. In a statement MCI execs said they would "review the revised proposal" and have until teatime on Saturday to decide whether or not to accept Qwest's final offer. For Verizon, it remains committed to the deal. In a statement it said: "Notwithstanding the latest Qwest proposal, we continue to believe Verizon is the best partner for MCI. As we move through the proxy process, we will continue to assess the situation and intend to take the necessary steps at the appropriate time to secure shareholder approval and complete our pending transaction." ® Related stories MCI wants $30 a share Verizon buys slice of MCI MCI rejects Qwest, cuddles up to Verizon Crunch time for MCI/Verizon/Qwest lurve triangle MCI mulls latest Qwest offer Qwest ups bid for MCI - yet again Qwest soap opera continues Verizon finds $1bn more for MCI Qwest sets MCI April 5 deadline Telecoms takeover turns into sixth form disco MCI UK settles three-year-old billing snafu MCI/Verizon/Qwest slanging match continues
Tim Richardson, 22 Apr 2005

Tridgell drops Bitkeeper bombshell

Samba developer Andrew Tridgell has released the source code to a tool that interoperates with Bitkeeper, the proprietary tool used by waddling Finn Linus Torvalds to manage the Linux kernel until last week. The shotgun wedding of an open source project and a closed source tool was always likely to end in tears, and it finally fell apart, with much recrimination, last week. A week ago last Monday, Torvalds' licensor and close friend Larry McVoy, yanked Linus' license to use Bitkeeper, throwing kernel developers for six. At the core of the dispute was the issue of ownership of information. Kernel developers insisted that the 'metadata' generated by their code submissions belonged to the community. But Bitkeeper supremo Larry McVoy insisted that any such metadata belonged to him. Now Tridgell has released code for an open source project that allows developers to peek at the source code trapped in McVoy's systems. In a README, he explains: "ePuller was written for two reasons. First, because the terms of the free BitKeeper license are not suitable for some members of the free software community. This can occasionally lead to frustrating situations where a free software developer wishes to access a BitKeeper repository, and is either unable to, or can only access it via a gateway that translates the repository into another format, possibly losing some information." "The second reason for writing SourcePuller was to provide a open library of routines that can talk to BitKeeper servers and manipulate local BitKeeper repositories. It is hoped that this library will be used by the authors of other source code management systems to allow them to interoperate with BitKeeper. Eventually this should result in an improvement in the quality of the various bk repository gateways." "SourcePuller is not intended to be a full replacement for BitKeeper. Instead, you should use SourcePuller as an interoperability tool for situations where you cannot use bk itself. SourcePuller is missing a large amount of core functionality from BitKeeper, and thus is not suitable as a full replacement." Tridgell also explains his rationale for developing a tool Linux kernel developers could use. "As you probably know, there has been quite a fuss lately about this code and the fact that BitMover has now withdrawn the free version of bk. First off, I would like to say that this result was not the intention when I wrote this code. I had hoped that an alternative open client would be able to coexist happily with the proprietary BitKeeeper client, as has happened with so many other protocols. An open client combined with the ability to accurately import into other source code management tools would have been a big step forward, and should have allowed BitMover to flourish in the commercial environment while still being used by the free software community. "I would also like to say that BitMover is well within its rights to license BitKeeper as it sees fit. I am of course disappointed at how BitMover has portrayed some of my actions, but please understand that they are under a lot of pressure. Under stress people sometimes say things that perhaps they shouldn't. "As I have stated previously, my code was written without using bk. Some people expressed some skepticism over that, perhaps because they haven't noticed that bk servers have online protocol help (just type 'help' into a telnet session). I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that this help was intended for people like myself who wished to implement new clients. "I would like to thank all the people who have supported me in the development of this tool by providing useful advice both before, during and after the development of the code. I tried to consult with a wide range of interested parties and the feedback I got was certainly appreciated. "Finally, I would like to point out the obvious fact that Linus was perfectly within his rights to choose bk for the kernel. I personally would not have chosen it, but it was his choice to make, not anyone elses. Linus is now in the unenviable position of changing source code management systems, which is a painful task, particularly when moving away from a system that worked as well as bk did. If you want to help, then help with code not commentary. There have been enough flames over this issue already." So there you have it. Or more specifically, here you have it. ® Related stories Tridgell demos Bitkeeper interoperability 'Cool it, Linus' - Bruce Perens Torvalds knifes Tridgell The Larry and Linus Show: personalities vs principles? Linus Torvalds in bizarre attack on open source Linus Torvalds defers closed source crunch
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Apr 2005

Bean counters love the fluffy side of IT

Even accountants have learned that an IT project cannot be thought of purely in terms of its impact on the bottom line, according to research. Instead, before the costs are even considered, 63 per cent of accountants prefer to weigh the risk to the business of a new system failing against the risk to the business of not upgrading at all. Surprisingly, the financial controllers also said they were looking for soft benefits from IT projects, such as better integration, better communications and better planning of operations in the business. Cost savings are mostly a secondary if not tertiary consideration. In partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (of England and Wales), Microsoft asked 400 "finance professionals" in medium-sized companies about their company's IT strategy and purchasing decisions. The survey also revealed that the vast majority of companies have no formal IT strategy, less than half have a formal approach to calculating return-on-investemnt, the rest rely on gut feel, and a scary 12 per cent carry out no evaluation of IT purchases at all. The scary comes from Paul Druckman, president of the ICA. "As companies are setting out with relatively soft goals in mind - that is, the want to improve the overall operation of the company, or improve internal communication, rather than save 20 per cent on the bottom line - it is consistent that the evaluation of the success of a project is also done in a fairly soft way," he said "But it is hard to defend the 12 per cent who make no effort at all to measure things. That 12 per cent frightens me." The research was commissioned because Microsoft thinks that the small businesses in the SME sector are getting an unfair proportion of all the attention. The 85,000 or so medium-sized companies in the UK, those with between 50 and 500 people, account for 30 per cent of the UK's GDP, according to Microsoft's head of SME and Partners in the UK, Natalie Ayers. They also grow faster than smaller companies. But, Ayres concludes, there has been very little research into what it is exactly that makes them tick. Other highlights of the research are that medium-sized companies spend between two and three per cent of turnover on ROI; the majority of those with a strategy are planning two years ahead; and 100 per cent of those surveyed had got (at the very least) access to the web, to email, and the company has a web site. "There was a much more long term view [about ROI from IT spend] than we might have expected," said Druckman. "I think this is a positive thing, and we should encourage it." ® Related stories Brit workers excel at skiving IDC sees slow year for IT in Europe Gov.uk backs open source drive
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Apr 2005

.EU will be live by Jan '06

The European Commission has announced that Europe's own top-level-domain - .eu - will be live and available by the end of the year. In a dazzling display of horrible marketing speak, the Commission said yesterday that the domain will give businesses higher visibility within the single market, and will level the playing field for electronic commerce. The .eu domain has been in the pipeline for some time. It was first mooted by Erkki Liikanen when he was Commissioner for Enterprise in the late twentieth century (November 1999). The registry operator (EURid) was appointed late last year, and the final paper work was signed and sealed in March 2005. Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding described the agreement between ICANN and EURid as a landmark in the history of the .eu project. "It gives the green light for the final technical preparations to permit .eu to become a reality before the end of the year," she added. For the first four months of 2006, registrations will be limited to public bodies and registered trademarks. The idea is that this will prevent cybersquatters from nipping in first and registering www.microsoft.eu, www.easyjet.eu, www.benedictXVI.euand so on. The Commission says it is aware that some companies are offering to pre-register or reserve domain names. It warns against taking up these offers, given the risks of confusion or even fraud. ® Related stories Tech blogger cybersquats God's Rottweiler iTunes.co.uk owner fights on against Apple Brace yourselves - .eu domains are (almost) go
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Apr 2005
homeless man with sign

MP3 zapping malware worms onto P2P network

Vigilante virus writers have launched an offensive against file traders with the release of a worm that deletes MP3 files on infected PCs. The Nopir-B worm, which appears to have originated in France, poses on P2P networks as a program to make copies of commercial DVDs. In reality the application offers no such function. Instead it attempts to delete MP3 music files on infected PCs. Nopir-B also attempts to disable various system utilities and wipe .COM programs whilst displaying an anti-piracy graphic. Nopir-B only infects Windows machines. "The Nopir-B worm targets people it believes may be involved in piracy, but fails to discriminate between the true criminals and those who may have legally obtained MP3 files. Whichever side of the fence you come down on in regards to internet piracy, there's no debate about the criminal nature of this worm," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. Malware capable of zapping MP3 files is rare but not unprecedented. The Klez-F worm, for example, which was widespread in 2002, overwrote MP3 files (and other file types) on certain days of the month. The Scrambler worm was programmed to scramble MP3 files to sound like a scratched record while the Mylife-G worm overwrote MP3 files with the words "my lIfE". Nopir-B is slightly unusual in this category because it spreads on P2P network, albeit modestly. Few copies of the worm have been spotted and it poses only a low risk. ® Related stories Klez tops virus charts again Fizzer stealth worm spreads via KaZaA Altnet wakes up as worm spreads through KaZaA
John Leyden, 22 Apr 2005

Q1 brings nothing but good news for Google

Google has reported a near-six hundred per cent increase in profit for the first quarter, with net income of $369.2m, up from $64m a year ago. The company said advertising sales almost doubled in the period, thanks largely to increased business outside the US. Revenue was $1.26bn for the quarter, up 93 per cent on the year. More than half the revenue ($657m, or 52 per cent of the total) came directly from Google-owned sites. The remainder came from syndicated advertising. Revenue here rose 75 per cent in the quarter, reaching $584m. The company paid out $462m to these partners, up from $271m in 2004. Profit margins were also up year-on-year. For the quarter ending 31 March, Google said income on a GAAP basis accounted for 35.2 per cent of revenue, compared with 23.8 per cent a year ago. Shares in the company rose almost $11 on the back of the news. You can read the full release here. ® Related stories Net ads work - sometimes Yahoo! growth! slows! Google.co.uk goes local
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Apr 2005

Cardiff tops broadband electoral poll

Election 2005Election 2005 Cardiff is the broadband capital of the UK, according to the boffins at research outfit Point Topic. With less than two weeks to go until the general election, analysts have done some pre-vote number crunching and discovered that two constituencies in Cardiff are streets ahead in the broadband polls. Some four in ten households in the constituency of Cardiff Central have broadband followed closely by Cardiff North. Using broadband to provide its own brand of political analysis, Point Topic reveals that of the top ten broadband constituencies, seven are held by Labour with just three seats held by the Tories. In the report Point Topic estimates that "over 37 per cent of households in the Cardiff Central constituency have got broadband". It goes on: "Besides Cardiff and Swansea, the other peak broadband area is the belt of prosperous towns and suburbs to the north of London. Labour has done well in this type of constituency, even though their relative prosperity might suggest they were more likely to be Conservative. Seven out of the ten most broadband constituencies are Labour, compared with six out of ten in England and Wales as a whole." Although net access isn't a major issue at this year's election, researchers point out that if it were, then the "digital divide" would be top slot in any political manifesto. And Labour, it seems, is the only one of the big three to include broadband in its manifesto. Even then, it was based on a short and rather woolly statement. "We will deliver our cross-government strategy for closing the digital divide and using ICT to further transform public services," it said. Anyhow, Point Topic's take on broadband and the election can be seen here. If this doesn't give apathetic voters a reason to turn out on 5 May then nothing will. ® Related stories Tories board hi-tech battle bus Not as guilty as he looks? The Met chief, Labour and ID cards General election debate misses purpose of ID cards Tory backs down in political cybersquatting row Political cybersquatting rears ugly head Cash-for-votes site launched Not voting? Tell the world you're notapathetic.com eBay deletes 'buy my vote' auctions Wednesday 30th March 2005 14:35 GMT Brits voice fraud fears over high-tech voting
Tim Richardson, 22 Apr 2005

Managing spreadsheet fraud

From time to time over the last year I have written and spoken about the dangers of using spreadsheets, particularly from the perspective of compliance but also with respect to how much they are error prone and subject to fraud. However, the truth is that spreadsheets are beloved by managers the world over and nothing I or anyone else says or does will make any difference to that fact. So, if we have to live with spreadsheets then at least we should start by managing them. Since there seems to be very little written on the subject I have written my own white paper, which is available for free download. Researching this white paper has taken more time that I had expected, most notably because there are all sorts of facilities in Excel (yes, this isn't the only spreadsheet but it is by far the most popular) that most of us don't know about. For example, there is password control in Excel. There is also some limited auditing capability. I wonder how many people actually know that? I wonder how many actually use these features? The key point about spreadsheets is that you need to know which ones are critical to your business, which ones are merely important and which ones you do not have to bother too much about. Once you know that, you can start to apply appropriate policies depending on the criticality of the spreadsheet involved. At the highest level (at least), spreadsheets should be treated as a corporate resource. For example, if you use spreadsheets for planning then you need to do everything you can to eliminate the possibility of error. And what do you do with corporate resources? You give them to the IT department which can implement proper testing and control procedures. The real problem, of course, is that business managers don't know that there is a problem (actually, lots of problems) with spreadsheets, while IT regards spreadsheets as falling outside its jurisdiction. So spreadsheet management falls down a hole in the middle. That has got to stop. According to both PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG, more than 90 per cent of corporate spreadsheets have material errors in them. Worse, estimates suggest that such errors costs between $10,000 and $100,000 per error per month. Let's take the Fortune 500 and let's suppose that each of these companies has just 10 (a pitifully small number) spreadsheets of corporate significance. Then nine have errors. Let's be circumspect and suppose that each has only one error and that it is spotted within three months (wildly optimistic); then each error costs $165,000 on average. So how much money is the Fortune 500 wasting annually? It is a simple sum: $165,000 times 9 times 500. That amounts to just shy of three quarters of a billion dollars. And is that anywhere near realistic? No. It is probably safe to say that corporate America, for example, loses in excess of $10bn annually through the misuse and abuse of spreadsheets. That's a big number: it suggests a problem worth managing. Copyright © 2005, IT-Director.com Related stories India acts on call centre fraud Indian call centre staff nicked for fraud Former PC tycoon jailed for fraud
Philip Howard, 22 Apr 2005

World Cup ticket draw results in

Applicants for the first batch of tickets for next year's football World Cup in Germany learned whether or not they were successful on Friday. A total of 812,000 tickets were available in the first sales phase: 665,000 individual tickets (including tickets for wheelchair users) and 147,000 team-specific tickets. Demand was high and the majority of people (including yours truly) emerged from a draw held on 15 April empty handed. A lucky 208,455 of around 900,000 applicants were allocated tickets, equivalent to a one in 4.3 chance of success in the first sales phase. These 900,000 applicants, from a total of 191 countries across the world, requested 8.7m tickets. The internet accounted for 95 per cent of the applications received. Net applicants learned whether they were successful or not via an email from the World Cup organising committee on Friday morning. The majority of applicants (80 per cent) hailed from Germany resulting in a sell-out of tickets released at this stage of the sales process. Twelve other team specific quotas available in the first phase also sold out, namely Argentina, Brazil, England, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the USA. All the tickets made available in the first sales phase for all 64 matches have been allocated. Highlighted matches such as fixtures involving Germany, the semi-finals and the final were as much as 39 times overbooked, FIFA said in a statement. Fans who missed out of this time around can try again when the second phase opens on 2 May, offering exclusively team specific tickets through the official FIFA website. In a departure from the first phase, available tickets will be sold on a 'first come, first served' basis. In the first phase every application received by 31 March went into a draw for tickets. ® Related stories World Cup tickets will contain RFID chips World Cup 2006 'abused for mega-surveillance project' All the World Cup news that's not fit to print Football. Culture. Everything in between
John Leyden, 22 Apr 2005

One.Tel hoovers up RedNet for £5m

One.Tel - the telecoms arm of Centrica plc - has coughed up £5m in cash to acquire privately-owned B2B ISP RedNet Ltd. The High Wycombe-based ISP - which provides networking and internet services to SMEs - has around a thousand small business customers and employs around 50 staff. All workers will be retained as One.Tel looks to build on its B2B operation. Whilst One.Tel is known for its voice services, the acquisition of RedNet will enable it to offer business users services such as web hosting, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and web security. One.Tel boss Ian El-Mokadem said the deal "supports our efforts to attract additional business customers and ongoing efforts to cross sell new voice as well as data products and services to our current and newly acquired customers." Last September Centrica forked out £43m to acquire another business outfit, Telco Holdings Ltd. Operating under the Telco Global brand, Enfield-based Telco Holdings helped increase the number of One.Tel's business punters to 120,000.® Related stories Centrica buys Telco Global for £43m Centrica wants you 186k takes over 200 Tiscali UK VISPS
Tim Richardson, 22 Apr 2005

AMD: dual-core not for gamers... yet

Gamers, AMD's upcoming dual-core desktop processor, the Athlon 64 X2, is not for you. What you want is the single-core Athlon 64 FX. So the chip maker said today. According to John Harris, AMD's head of marketing in North America, despite the performance benefits that the X2's extra core brings, "the Athlon 64 FX is still the best processor for gaming." Harris' reasoning is that until games start being coded for multiple processors, which he reckons won't happen until next year, you'll get better game performance out of the single-core chip. Right now, the FX-55 is clocked at 2.6GHz. The top-of-the-range X2 4800+ is only clocked at 2.4GHz. Both chips' cores have 1MB of L2 cache and connect to the system via a single HyperTransport link. If a game is single-threaded, it will at any given time be running on only one of the two available cores. So the FX has that 200MHz advantage. That said, the FX is also having to process all the other threads running alongside the single-thread game whereas the X2 can at least run them on its second core, essentially granting the game a better crack of the single-core whip. Is that enough to make up for or even exceed the FX's 200MHz advantage? It's going to make for some interesting benchmark tests to see how the two compare. In the meantime, the X2 will be pitched at the obligatory "digital media" apps, for which the chip brings a 30-50 per cent performance boost over its single-core brethren, Harris said. And for those folk who question the need for this extra performance, well, it'll be there to handle all those anti-malware apps you're forced to run in the background these days to keep your PC safe. Sorry, your Windows PC safe. ® Related stories Boston jumps on Opteron bandwagon AMD tells software companies to re-think dual core AMD plays catch up with dual-core desktop and notebook chip The dual-core x86 server era begins thanks to AMD AMD dual-core Opteron pricing slips out
Tony Smith, 22 Apr 2005

AOL seeks to block phishing sites

AOL and security solutions provider Cyota announced yesterday that they are working together to identify and block access to suspected phishing sites, in yet another initiative aimed at tackling the on-line scam. According to AOL, whenever a possible phishing site is identified, it will limit client access to that site, and inform any of its members who attempt to visit it that it is suspected of being a dangerous site. Phishing - the practice of using fraudulent e-mail and fake web sites to solicit sensitive personal information from users - is growing dramatically. According to a recent report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), the number of phishing attacks in January jumped 42 per cent from those reported in December, while the number of unique phishing sites jumped 47 per cent in the same period. A survey published earlier this month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project adds that 35 per cent of users have received phishing e-mail, and that 2 per cent have provided the information requested. "Phishing and identity theft are the fastest-growing security threats on-line, and we will work around the clock to protect our members with the tools we have available," said Tatiana Platt, AOL Senior Vice President and Chief Trust Officer. "By limiting our members' access to suspected phishing sites, we're trying to cut the lines before a phisher can reel them in and steal sensitive financial and personal information," she added. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related stories Save us from spam eCrime cost UK.biz £2.4bn in 2004 Trojan phishing suspect hauled in
OUT-LAW.COM, 22 Apr 2005

UK police tackle mounting internet porn caseload

British police are refining their crackdown on internet paedophiles as a swelling caseload of offences involving the downloading of images of child abuse pushes computer forensics teams to their limits. According to police sources over 300 people a month are still being referred to special police paedophile units. This is despite the success of 'Operation Ore' which led to the names of 7,272 suspects being passed to forces in the UK after US police broke up a paedophile website operation. In the wake of Operation Ore, UK police have so far carried out 4,283 searches and made 3,744 arrests, while 35 of those caught up in the investigation have committed suicide. The police have committed themselves to investigating every case. But there are still 800 investigations pending, and police forces around the country are groaning under the strain of investigating them. This has left some police computer forensic departments with backlogs ranging between nine and 18 months and prevented them from working on other non-paedophile cases. Forces in South Wales and the North West have been particularly badly hit, with one force turning away further computer-related cases until it has dealt with its backlog. The scale of the problem has led to a campaign headed up by the National Crime Squad, the UK's version of the FBI to stamp out easy access to paedophile websites and to prosecute and seize the assets of the people behind them. According to Jim Gamble, deputy director of the National Crime Squad and head of the Virtual Global Taskforce, the multi-national organisation tasked with policing the internet launched earlier this year, over 55 per cent of paedophile websites are now run as commercial operations with significant involvement from organised crime. "Over the last two years the opportunities for crime have grown and it is only in the last year that the police have started to occupy this space. "With those people trying to make money from this we have already started targeting their websites and we are following where the money goes. We are working systematically to identify and rescue children involved, have these people prosecuted in the countries that they are operating from and to seize their houses and their funds." The initiative is part of a three-pronged approach of identification, elimination and deterrence. Already the VGTF website provides a one-stop shop for the reporting of suspicious websites and approaches from individuals, and the next stage is the development of a series of partnerships with companies ranging from AOL, BT, Microsoft and Vodafone. The companies have all agreed to work to filter paedophile content from the web using a list of illegal websites collected by the UK Government- backed Internet Watch Foundation. Gamble is also working to bring smaller internet companies into the initiative. Up till now they have claimed they cannot afford the £1m a year BT is rumoured to spending to filter its network but one new company Streamshield, has now developed a product that filters out websites blacklisted by the IWF for a one off cost of around £60,000. This represents a total cost of £5m between the UK's 92 internet companies, or 50p per child in the country. And in a final twist to the crackdown the police are creating fake paedophile websites known as 'honey-traps' aimed at catching casual requests for paedophile websites. People logging on think they have found a pervert’s website but when they try and download an image they are told that they have attempted to commit a crime, their details have been logged and they may be prosecuted. "We're raising awareness that we are out there, and that the internet is not a lawless place. As the result of the operations that we've been mounting we've now had people turning themselves in to police stations,” said Gamble "The awareness that we're out there is increasing because we've even had people reporting themselves for being on our website when it hasn't been up but they think they've been on it, while in reality they have been on real paedophile sites." Further details from Future Intelligence here.® Related stories British adults support child porn crackdown Police push for dedicated paedo-protection unit
Peter Warren, 22 Apr 2005

Privacy watchdog warns job seekers to beware

Would-be workers need to be more cautious with resume services and posting their personal information online. Online fraudsters and scammers are waiting. Online fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of vulnerable job seekers by using online résumés to steal their identity, a privacy expert warned this week. The threats range from job fraud, where a criminal group poses as a legitimate employer to launder money, to the sale of résumé details to database companies for use in background checks. The seemingly small act of posting a résumé publicly can have significant impact: over the past year, more than a dozen Americans have been accused of a felony because their identity has been used for online crime, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "If you post your résumé publicly you are asking for identity fraud," she said during an interview with SecurityFocus. "If you have a fantastic résumé, that puts you at a high risk, because your identity will get nabbed, and they will use your information to set up a new account in your name and do criminal acts and it will look like you participated in this scheme." Ironically, the major résumé services offer tools to help job seekers keep their identity private from the public, but workers fail to take advantage of the features because they do not understand the dangers, Dixon said. However, a majority of résumé services still don't take the issues seriously, she added. Dixon presented the findings of several studies authored by the World Privacy Forum at the Computer, Freedom and Privacy Forum last week in Seattle. In addition to identity-theft dangers, other privacy problems exist as well. She warned that inaccuracies in employment databases have hurt people's chances of getting the job. The campaign to raise awareness of job fraud and inaccuracies in employment databases comes as major data leaks by companies such as ChoicePoint and Bank of America have raised public awareness of identity theft. In the latest incident, online trading firm Ameritrade reportedly acknowledged this week that as many as 200,000 customers could be at risk because the firm's backup tape service had lost a key tape. As the number of publicly outed data leaks increases, scrutiny has turned to the openness of sensitive employment information as an increasingly threatening vector of identity theft. In a typical case of job fraud, for example, a criminal group will contact a job seeker offering employment handling money transfers. For each transfer - usually of a sum just below the federally mandated $10,000 reporting requirement - the "employee" gets to keep 5 percent. The scheme, which is aimed at laundering criminal funds, typically transfers the money to the "employee's" bank account with instructions to wire the money via Western Union to other accounts. Other criminal groups pose as employers and attempt to convince job seekers to give up sensitive information, such as social-security numbers and bank account information. "From a job-seeker perspective, use common sense and proceed with caution," said Michele Pearl, vice president of compliance and anti-fraud for Monster.com. "People are so excited that there is interest in them from an employer that they are not always as careful as they should be." Pearl confirmed that the company has caught a number of fraudulent companies trying to convince people to be "hired" unknowingly as part of a money laundering scheme. Monster.com gives job seekers a variety of privacy options for resumes, including hiding the details from all searches. The company does not sell or rent its resume database and screens every potential employer, Pearl said. "It is something we take very seriously," she said. Monster.com outlines many of the dangers of which job seekers should be aware in its Be Safe page. While sites such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder may have increased their scrutiny of postings, the majority of sites still do not adequately vet prospective employers, the World Privacy Forum's Dixon said. Other sites harvest résumés that people have posted to their Web sites, with online service TalentBlast bragging that it has access to over 250,000 résumés posted to personal home pages. Some of the scrutiny focused on consumer information services, such as ChoicePoint, should also be reserved for the employee services, Dixon said. "I think we have about a year and a half," she said. "Then people will start looking at this whole online job search as a really risky affair." Copyright © 2005, Related stories Database misuse: who watches the watchers? Privacy from the trenches George Bush fears email privacy breach
Robert Lemos, 22 Apr 2005

Freescale earnings grow post-restructure

Freescale, Motorola's erstwhile chip division, saw its income jump during Q1 FY2005 as it started to put the cost of last year's layoffs behind it. The quarter yielded sales of $1.44bn, up a mere fraction on the previous quarter's $1.43bn and the year-ago quarter's total, $1.4bn. Income for the three-month period came to $85m (20 cents a share), well up on Q4 FY2004's $5m (one cent a share) but down 19.8 per cent on the $106m it posted this time last year. The previous quarter's earnings were blitzed by the cost of laying off 1,000-odd workers and costs arising from the split with Motorola. The restructuring costs continued into Q1, with $18m coming off the bottom line. And the year-ago figure was boosted by a $54m gain from the sale of a Chinese chip-plant. Freescale's gross margins topped 40.2 per cent during the quarter, up from 36.3 per cent in the year-ago quarter and 36 per cent in Q4 FY2004. The company's computing products group saw sales grow from last quarter's $314m to $349m, though that's still below the year-ago quarter's level, $389m. The division continues to supply Apple with G4-class PowerPC microprocessors for the Mac maker's iBook and PowerBook laptop lines. The wireless products business, by contrast, was up year on year, but down sequentially, with sales of $412m. That compares to $465m in the previous quarter and the $354m reported this time last year. Looking to Q2, Freescale said it expects sales to lie between $1.38bn and $1.47bn. Margins will stay at around 40.2 per cent. ® Related stories IBM outs dual-core PowerPC Apple utility 'confirms' dual-core PowerPC chip Apple updates G4 PowerBooks with Bluetooth 2.0 Freescale licenses PowerVR MBX graphics core Job cuts hit Freescale earnings Dual-core IBM PowerPC 'to ship in single-core form' Freescale 1000-worker cull to cost $65m
Tony Smith, 22 Apr 2005

Porn swallows 20% of NZ police IT capacity

Randy coppers in New Zealand waste so much time surfing for porn while on the job that fully 20 per cent of police computer system capacity is devoted to storing the images, an official audit has revealed. The investigation, begun five months ago, found vast reams of sexually-explicit material, some involving violence or simulated violence, and some even involving bestiality. The material in question was discovered accidentally, during an investigation of alleged police misconduct unrelated to porn surfing. Staff hoarding images described by Police Commissioner Rob Robinson as "shockers" include a superintendent, three inspectors, and about 40 women officers or civilian staff, the New Zealand Herald reports. "These are not mere nudity. They are sexually-explicit images of sex acts," the paper quotes him as saying. Some images may be bad enough to warrant criminal prosecutions, the paper says, although the authorities deny that any kiddie porn has been found. Other semi-legal content may inspire a hearty round of dismissals. ®
Thomas C Greene, 22 Apr 2005

Sniping bloggers can keep America safe from terrorists and cats!

And ninethlyAnd ninethly When modern imperial ideologies have dehumanized you and modern enterprises have exploited your labor, post colonial situations become occasions to assert your sense of self and culture, even when doing so appears backward to those who have been riding your back - Cornel West Recent events have left me questioning our commitment to two crucial aspects dominating contemporary American life. Are we exploiting technology in the most expedient and practical manner possible? Are we doing all that we can to protect ourselves? Ever since those horrendous attacks occurred in New York and Washington D.C., a group of red-blooded Americans have salivated over the prospect of using technology to protect us. Most distressingly, their intentions have wavered from the purity of the Red State ideology and turned into the Red of Bolshevik accusation and moral imprisonment. Great, soaring eagles such as former Attorney General John Ashcroft have tainted their legacies with the Patriot Act, questionable search and seizures and over-zealous airport security personnel. Any Republican worth his NRA membership knows of what I speak. Our brothers have turned upon us. Instead of protecting us with technology, they use the information superhighway to remove our liberties. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia. But it feels like it. While such realizations have left me listless and leaning towards self-flagellation for the past couple of years, I have managed this week to revive my spirit. And I have the internet to thank for the awakening. The internet - in a miracle of synchronicity - brought me two stories of salvation on the same day. Some of you will recall this tale of a Chinese man camped outside of the Capitol. Dressed in sinister black garb, the man stood motionless for a long period of time - his two sinister black suitcases equally motionless beside him. After many failed attempts at communication, police were forced to drag this "tourist" away and then blow up his luggage. I strongly recommend that you watch the video of this man's capture either via the link above or a second link here. Watching the show is essential to the task at hand. The other item that caught my attention came from the great, beer-soaked state of Wisconsin, which has encouraged a debate on hunting some of the 2 million feral cats scurrying between its borders. Duller minds would miss the connection - or rather the opportunity - that links these stories. On one hand, we have an aggressive "tourist" skulking around the Capitol with a suitcase full of bomb-like equipment such as clocks and CD players. Our police force isn't notified about this skulker for hours. That's many minutes of this potential human dirty-bomb ogling our nation's solar plexus with total inaction from law enforcement. It's impossible for America's finest to see all and be everywhere at all times. On the other hand, we have millions of cats. Not the cute cuddlies. Feral ones. With mange, eating disorders, squelched meows and things of that nature. This all leads to the obvious question - shouldn't we train an online citizens militia? Shouldn't this citizens militia be linked in to thousands upon thousands of web cameras? Shouldn't these cameras be zeroed in on our most precious sites? Shouldn't members of this militia be able to fire weapons from the comfort and safety of their own home in order to protect us all at internet speed? And shouldn't this militia perfect its craft by hunting Wisconsin cats via the web? Be you left wing, right wing or ding-a-ling, I can accept no answer but "Yes!" for any of these questions. (Many will ridicule this as superstition or maybe just the end result of a half-dozen Wild Turkey jiggers, but the night after I read these two stories, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs came to me in a dream and said just one word - iMancipation. Let's all rally around that.) The obvious solution to an over-worked, under-paid police force is a proficient, world-class virtual terrorist hunting machine. I'm talking about a tightly woven group of citizens united by web cams, blogs, pod casts and instant messages. Each person in the army pointing to possible suspects. Citizen soldiers evaluating the threat levels of a suspect together in real-time. And, when a government authorized go level is reached, the alpha blogger - he who first spotted the suspect - hits "Enter." Problem solved. With such a refined system in place, our Chinese friend, and millions like him, will pray to God they had stayed in the less observant, sloth-like domiciles of inaction from whence they came. Many of you will have concerns that any Yahoo! could get behind his laptop and start blasting away. Not true. This system would require the same incredibly strict weapons safety and training courses needed today in states such as Texas to carry a concealed weapon. Background checks? Yep. Waiting periods? Sure. In addition, I will accept that there should be a trial period for this program. A social-network of online miltiamen will be set up and only those that receive the highest popularity ratings will be let onto the initial iFiring Range. We'll also start with tasers or some kind of stun guns instead of live ammunition. For those worried that detractors will say no precedent has been set for this type of action - have NO FEAR. Earlier this month, Florida governor Jeb Bush and legislators pushed through a new law, making it perfectly legal to shoot first and ask questions later when someone fears they are under attack. Citizens must retreat first no longer! "It's a good, common-sense, anti-crime issue," Bush said. The question that has eluded us all in recent years is why do we need Uncle Sam to protect us when the internet makes self-preservation a viable reality. Let's ensure our own freedom! Let's get sniper blogging or, of course, Snogging! ® Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern locked and loaded at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest. Related stories Readers pour water on pro-smoke lobby Stern response to Otto's HP musings Blocking online cigarette sales threatens us all Why Fiorina wasn't the right man for the HP CEO post
Otto Z. Stern, 22 Apr 2005

The mysterious link between security, laptops and rubbish dumps

LettersLetters In the last letters bag, we tackled the desktop Linux issue. In this one, we've come over all Gwyneth 'n Chris, and are going for Apple instead. All this uncharacteristic fruitiness has been prompted by SecruityFocus' Kelly Martin's opinion piece on how the dearth of viruses for the Apple OS is fuelling sales of the cute designer machine: Your point of view would appear on the face of it to boil down to, "if you're a Windows user who is tired of dealing with viruses, get a Mac". While I concede that this is one possible solution, I believe this type of advice is on the same sort of level as suggestions to "get Firefox" directed at spyware-infected IE users - it's a solution, but it's not terribly helpful. From a Windows user's point of view I would expect that the main issues preventing a switch to the Mac would be a) cost and b) software availability, with games and leisure software being one area where the Mac is particularly deficient. Even were I to use the oft-quoted (and extremely inaccurate, since the two systems use different architectures) adage that Macs are twice as powerful as the same speed PC, I can still buy two "equivalently powered" PCs and still have change left to buy a game or two out of the amount it would cost to buy just one Mac. While Macs do indeed have a higher perceived level of security and a lower level of "hassle", is this worth the apparent lack of value for money? If all you do is work-related productivity type tasks, then the attraction of a more stable system may well be worth the extra cost, but for a normal home user who just wants to write letters, surf the internet AND play games, "two out of three ain't bad" just doesn't cut the mustard for the prices Apple is charging. Dan You said several times that there are no viruses for the Mac. I am a new Mac user with the IMac G5. I was encouraged to purchase Norton Anti Virus for the Mac because the vendor said that there were Apple viruses out there, not many mind you, but they are there. Well now I'm confused. Are there no viruses as you say or are there just a few as the Mac seller advised? If there are truly none, then Norton is selling fear and nothing more and they should be exposed. On the other hand, could you be wrong? Sincerely confused Don Davis I admire your passion for user experience, but if you think that is the only thing keeping virus writers at bay then you definitely have another thing coming. One word 'LowHangingFruit'. OK that's three words, but Windows systems are so easy to break into and there are so many of them out there that virus writers have no need to look any further. That is until people phase out their old 95/98/2000 variety pc's and usher in the new XP SP2 / 2k3 SP1 / Longhorn world. Then there may be a new ripe fruit on the tree that is familiar as Apple pie. Enjoy it while it lasts... KillerFred So basically your contention is that everyone who ever uses a mac loves the experience so much that they would never consider writing any form of malware targeting OS X. Yes it is an interesting phenomenon that to date OS X has no significant virus threat. But your argument shows total lack of understanding of human nature. Or maybe you've just been brainwashed by the cult of Apple. Ty More reasons why people should wear appropriate protection (tin foil hats) when surfin the interweb emerged, this week. Baddies are (or might be, or something) scanning the airwaves with covert wireless laptops. Scary stuff, no? Well, this is not something new. I should have coined the term about 1 1/2 years ago when i first set up my first honeypot access point. Its a linksys, everything default, no security, connected to the internet through a vlan, and with speeds up to 256kbit. SSID is not broadcasted so potential "customers" can use programs like netstumbler or kismet to do their research and find me. You really cant believe how many "customers" daily, "wanna be hackers", manage to connect to the access point surf the web, and happily enter their usernames and passwords for various sites that they check WITHOUT ANY FEAR OF WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS ILLEGAL AND THAT THEY MIGHT BE MONITORED. I also have some regular "customers", thinking that the owner (that's me) will be sleeping after midnight, so they come after midnight for their daily doze of "hacking". Of course all traffic is captured and analyzed for my own entertainment. Regards, George To start with, I was sceptical about all this WiFi security malarkey. I mean, most of our neighbours don't have broadband, let alone WiFi. But then, upon selling my PC to my sis and installing it for her, the computer jumped onto the neighbour's WiFi connection, and, um, well, you can guess the rest. Strike one customer for the local ISP. And then, I switched on my Mac yesterday, only to find that a local company was broadcasting its SSID - although, they, at least, had secured it with a password. Mine network, needless to say, was already erring on the side of caution. A silly name, no broadcast and WEP secured. I'm not quite so sceptical now. Peter There are always big laughs when national security is potentially compromised by a scatty civil servant with a less-than perfect grip on his or her laptop. This week, we all chuckled at the MOD laptop that turned up at a rubbish dump: Hmmm, all sounds a bit suspect to me "when a woman gave him a bag containing a laptop she was about to ditch". She was clearly a spy waiting for her contact, and mistook this hapless man for said agent. Got to go, black helicopters overhead... Alistair John Leyden says: The swallows fly low over St Petersburg in June... The BPI, in its wisdom, has launched a string of lawsuits against those dastardly rogues: filesharers. As ever, you are, by turns, distinctly unimpressed with the BPI, or calling for the blood and eternally-damned-souls of the accused: Are the figures not based on the assumption that people would have actually gone out and bought the music they downloaded? Surely this means the figures a flawed, in so much as a) people might not have gone out and bought music they downloaded anyway and b) some people may have merely wanted to try before they bought from another source (downloaded or high street), and subsequently gone out and bought the music they liked? I wouldn't condone either particularly, but running around screaming about "lost sales" and "cost to the industry" ought to be tempered with a bit of sense. And it certainly adds weight to the argument that the music industry doesn't understand the channel. Peter the bpi really are pathetic... if anything, a lot of the big downloaders I know (inc myself) have actually bought more cd's of music because of our voracious downloading habits. You also have to look at the knub of the problem when it comes to illegal downloads - none of the major online music downloading services provide their music drm free, which is the single reason why no-one I know who would fall into their "illegal uploaders" category will ever use their services and will only begin using it once their illegal profiteering mechanism.. sorry, drm systems have been removed and we are allowed to do whatever we want with the files we have legally obtained. And if they continue to try suing the arses off of people I could very well be tempted to pop over to Holland, buy some blank cdr's and a hdd, put my data onto it and then proceed to sue them for piracy and making money illegally out of data they don't own the copyright to because of the levy system in place on mainland Europe, I wonder how well they would react to that situation =) I also don't see how the bpi can even claim that their business is being hurt or damaged by the p2p networks because the shipments of cd's sold is currently at record levels, this they keep trumpeting.. however, when you talk about piracy, suddenly they switch track and start talking about revenue.. which of course is going to be lower since prices are lower!! did none of them ever go through maths lesson?! It's just a shame that the government and legal systems don't have enough of a clue about technology to realise that the drm systems surely break some form of law in that a full product purchase transaction is taking place even tho the product is crippled and limited to the point of basically being a rental. Alphaxion What makes me laugh is that the software and games industry have been getting ripped off online for donkeys. A lot longer than the music or film industries have been. I remember downloading amiga games off of BBS's using a pikey 2400 BPS modem back in the days when the internet was still being fertilised. You don't see the software industry firing out lawsuits against the very people who put them where they are today. I suppose you can put it down to the fact the software industry has been in tune with the internet from the start and have learned that it's not worth it. The music industry had the opportunity to start selling online from the start, It did nothing and now its desperately trying to claw back some profit. Maybe if they put the rolled up fifty down for a second and dusted off their noses they'd realise that a missed opportunity can cost you greatly! Andy Cough...cough...Business Software Alliance...cough... Throw all of the BUMS, aka Pirates in PRISON for a couple years and make them PAY for incarceration PLUS fines, and then they'll change their tune, literally ! It's amazing theses SCUMBAGS actually believe it's OK to steal from the record labels because they "charge too much". Great FRIGGIN logic!!! No wonder the World is turning into a sewer... Maybe these folks should be used as boat anchors??? Randy Er...Hoooo-yah!? Only ten (ish) percent of British teens were prepared to 'fess up and admit a penchant for downloading porn from adult sites on the web. Could it be that the disposable income of the average 14-year-old does not quite stretch to registering for the saucier stuff on the net? Well, _DUH_! When I was 13 I might have been interested in nude photos or the like, but by 20 I was more interested in actual nude women. That was a while ago and the age range for most of my late-teen activities seems to have shifted to the early teens, so I would expect the 13-18s of today to have attitudes much like the 18-23s of my youth. That is: "Why would I want to look at pictures of naked old folks?" Mike Some specialist sites you were lookin' at there, Mike... How many 13 to 18 year olds do you know that will admit to "pulling the plunger"? When I was that age (A mere 3 years ago in the latter case), I'd only just started believing the slightly-too-old-to-not-be-creepy guy who tells kids in school via the medium of VHS cassette that "Everybody does it, it's only natural!" Prior to that, it was a poor insult accompanied by an action similar to shaking salt, palm up... Ashleigh That's funny, it seems most of the e-mail I get about online porn is from teenagers. Robert Next up, Bloor's Phil Howard asked: why do people hate Oracle?. Some of you had a few thoughts on this one: People hate Oracle? Big deal. The reason is the same as why people hate Microsoft. Outrageous pricing and market dominance. And the vendors target them not because of perceived shortcomings (most of them couldn't perceive their way out of a paper bag after all) but merely because Oracle is top dog. Why fight with each other for scraps when Oracle has the lions share of the market. If you can wrest away even a small portion of that you can make good money. If you target one of the small fry in contrast you get to see what the phrase 3/8's of buggerall means at first hand... Enno Could it just be that Oracle is the market leader? Erm, yes. Duncan Hating Oracle also might have something to do with laughable marketing hype ("Unbreakable", "Saved Oracle Billions" et al) and selling some awesomely shit software (I was a witness to this project: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/13/university_cans_oracle/). Frankly, Oracle get all they deserve... Cheers, Kevin. A survey of big companies concluded that women like to work for organisations where they are treated well, and are allowed to work flexibly, so that they can balance home and work commitments. Really? we thought to ourselves. Shocking news that. We formed the opinion that the same might be true of most people. Even boys: I really find it a bit sexist that being flexible about family commitments is a "female" issue.. I also object to the adage that men don't have to choose between a family and a career. As a working dad, I like to have a career as well as be a contributing family member. I think it work that flexibilty and family values etc are considered of importance to women only. Us dads should also get some of this! Charles Fair point, Charles, and well made. Re: the last paragraph reference to 'removing the obstacles to etc, etc '. Considering the highest polled obstacle is a familial commitments would the women in question not object to those being 'removed'? Is he referring to a simple 'snip snip' proposition early in a women's career or a slightly more sinister, a la Mexico City type solution, post marriage, children, etc? Awaiting the inevitable witty put down.. Eoin Hardee har har. Witty enough for ya? Yet more fuss over online child safety this week, as campaigners started to bang their drums and called for industry to do more to regulate chatrooms etc. You hard-hearted meanies think this is unnecessary...won't somebody think of the children? "The IT industry should do more to protect kids online, according to campaigners, who believe that tech companies should spend dosh to create a global child protection organisation and use their expertise to regulate chat rooms and block the transmission of offensive images." I suggest the bleeding hearts get the Republican Party to fund their Nanny campaign, and invest in a Parental Awareness program. It's not the business of the IT industry to baby-sit latchkey kids. If parents would supervise their children, the problem would be solved. And meanwhile, the nitwits who are telling me *I* ought to pay my hard-earned money to keep *their* kids out of trouble can kiss my ASN. Morely Is the US leading the way in the move to machine readable passports, or is it merely following in the wake of other, more enlightened (!) nations? Guess... I hardly think that "the United States is leading the charge to move to machine-readable passports". Australia has been using machine-readable passports for years. They don't have an RFID chip, instead they have a code printed on a page in the passport. At the passport control desk, the officer holds your passport against a scanner which reads the code. Your details and photo appear instantly on the officer's screen, and they check that all is OK while cheerfully asking if you had a good flight. Easy. Chuck Baggeroer from the chip-card industry said "bandwidth considerations also drove the decision to favour a contactless memory chip. The current crop of contactless chips have a read rate eight times higher than contact chips". Come on Chuck, when you are checking people's passports one at a time at the airport, does it really matter if reading the chip takes one squillionth of a second or eight squillionths? I doubt it. Martin The general election is just round the corner, and the Labour party is still wittering on about ID cards. We ran this story about same, and got the most unusual response: If a society is ever to be significantly more than just the sum of its parts, enjoying the increased stability and wealth that such a situation makes possible, then a single, central database underpinning national ID cards and a host of related private and State-run services is inevitable. Since everyone's personal details are already duplicated across enough decentralised databases for anyone with a modicum of interest to collate all they might want to know, we're already a lot further down this path than I suspect many people realise. I submit that the real question is the degree of attention the owners of such a database will give to the awesome security and integrity ramifications of such a resource. I would be deeply concerned if my very ability to exist in this country depended upon the slap-happy approach that has characterised Government IT projects to date. If the Inland Revenue system is still insufficiently stable to avoid issuing tax demands for 15 years hence, then my confidence in a truly secure database, proof against all forms of deliberate attack (and, let's face it, simple and honest ineptitude in spades!) is understandably low enough to limbo under carpets. Oh, by the way - I'm a Business Analyst. Best regards Geoff Let's play spot-the-flaw-in-the-argument... "Mr. Speaker, does the Prime Minister join me in expressing outrage over the scandalous lack of effective and efficient checks and balances that has permitted entities so far unknown to access millions of identity records of British citizens whose private information has now been compromised? And does he concede that it is his government that has failed in the duty, that he has sworn to uphold, to defend every citizen against all enemies foreign and abroad by allowing unknown entities to invade on their privacy, their dignity and their livelihoods by painfully neglecting to protect the information that every citizen has entrusted him to guard safely?" Jorge It is with much dismay that I read of the encroachments upon privacy in the UK. I'd like to propose a solution: The PrivaSuit. This would be a full-body hazmat-style suit with a one-way glass faceplate, otherwise totally opaque. Intent is to frustrate the public videocams, and restore privacy out on the street. All suits will be identical in appearance. Some problems: A. height still makes people identifiable. Solution: built-in adjustable stilts. Midgets and really tall folks are out of luck. B. gait differs from person to person. Solution: voluminous trouser bottoms. C. females have distinguishing feature in the front. Solution: permanently puffed-out top portion of suit. I would also propose that the finger-tips of such suits have raised lettering (in inverse), saying (once read from fingerprint): "F*** David Blunkett". Very sincerely, K Vainstein Finally, physicists reckon they've discovered the perfect liquid. You said: I knew that! Ian I hate to take issue with anything you've written, but I think the perfect liquid has been around for some time (although I'm not wholly surprised that the lab-dwellers appear to have missed it). This is my particular favourite. I hope somebody buys you one... James Hear, hear! And with that, we note that the pub awaits. Letters will be back next week. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Apr 2005

Sex android begats Armageddon machine

Back in February we reported that Kim Jong-Hwan of the ITRC-Intelligent Robot Research Centre - controlled by explosive cranial implant from the Lizard Army's advance Earth base at French car manufacturer Renault - had developed software which would allow robots to acquire reasoning and emotions, plus a healthy machine sex drive. Of course, we quite rightly then predicted that the resultant cyberCasanovas would force themselves on our wives and daughters, impregnating screaming human females with their vile seed so much the better to create a hideous hybrid race of servile, mop-bearing drones. After all, someone has to clear up after man-eating cyberloos have purged the streets of Aberdeen of the last urinating Scotsman who might put up a spirited, albeit somewhat drunken and ultimately futile, fight against the Rise of the Machines™ However, we had not considered the chilling possibility that the reptilian forces of darkness might also develop a predatory robominx designed to extract sperm from vulnerable men as part of the same terrifying breeding programme. Beware, then, the "Andy" sex android, described by Lizard Alliance collaborator Michael Harriman as "almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing". German aircraft mechanic Harriman has equipped his silicon-skinned robostrumpet with internal heaters, a heart which responds to torrid rumpy-pumpy with suitably agitated beating and a remote-controlled hip-wiggling facility. The basic model goes out for £4,000, although extra-large breasts cost extra - as is generally the case with the "real thing". The Andy plan is as brilliant as it is simple. The only people* who would ever consider sex with a doll carry exactly the sort of inferior genetic material suitable for the propagation of a slave army of low-grade menials. What's more, they have to pay for the privilege of mating with the machine, before it makes off with their credit cards, blows the lot on shoes and then finds its way to the nearest Renault service centre where it will be well cared for by fleets of satanic Vel Satis in anticipation of the happy event. But what, you ask, will this devilish offspring look like? What are the likely results of fusing human DNA with cyberova inside the metallic womb? Our neoLuddite Resistance Army research facility, located at an undisclosed (even to those who work there) location in the Montana wilderness, has been able - after months of painstaking and dangerous analysis during which at least one comrade was knocked down a flight of concrete stairs as he attempted to examine the bagless vortex system of a captured cyberDyson - to extrapolate the likely development cycle of the Andy offspring: Pre-natal to infancy: Our field research discovered that all sex androids have exceptionally tight vaginas - all the better to accommodate the 90 per cent of sex android users who are, of course, less talented than average in the trouser department. However, this does have its practical disadvantages: imagine trying to force a basketball through the centre of a one-inch washer and you'll understand what we're talking about. It's unlikely, then, that Andy will be able to give birth to a perfectly-formed rat-brain-controlled stealth attack aircraft or fire-breathing bus. Far more probable is that the mewling infant will be entirely comprised of metallic glass - a Lizard Army "liquid metal" patent comprising: a glassy mixture of platinum, copper, nickel and phosphorus; or carbon, iron and a little manganese; or zirconium, titanium, copper and nickel, and small atoms of beryllium - depending on mum's dietary habits during pregnancy. New Scientist explains: It is the unusual structure that makes metallic glass so promising. In crystalline metal alloys, the atoms are ordered within regions called "grains", and the boundaries between the grains are points of weakness in the material. Metallic glasses, however, have no grain boundaries, so they are much stronger. Hit a crystalline metal with a hammer and it will bend, absorbing some of the energy of the blow by giving way along grain boundaries. But the atoms in an amorphous metal are tightly packed, and easily bounce back to their original shape after a blow. These materials lack bulky crystalline grains, so they can be shaped into features just 10 nanometres across. And their liquid-like structure means they melt at lower temperatures, and can be moulded nearly as easily as plastics. So, it's pretty obvious that the best way to drop a robosprog is to gently heat the metallic glass foetus until it flows effortlessly from the womb and then instantly hardens into a virtually indestructible rug-rat capable of withstanding the full force of a hammer blow from a terrified Renault service technician who has just discovered its nest among the piles of discarded malfunctioning cruise control mechanisms at the back of the workshop. School: Like human children, robotic infants are not born with the instinct and ability to kill. It's essential, therefore, that they be given the best possible educational grounding in the techniques of wanton destruction and subjugation of carbon-based lifeforms. And who better to act as tutor and mentor than Asimo, Honda's roving "ambassador" which, we have just learned, has infiltrated Japanese classrooms - ostensibly as part of the national science curriculum. Indeed, the Japanese are very pleased with Asimo and will ultimately pay the price. The cybernetic equivalent of roving rock pundit Bono recently shook hands with the Belgian prime minister, although the next time Guy Verhofstadt extends his paw to Asimo he'll get his armed ripped off at the shoulder as a prelude to a full-scale invasion of the Low Countries by flamethrower-bearing Mecha led by phalanxes of trumpet-playing acoustic attack droids. That's their problem - we warned 'em and they didn't listen. Some good may come of it, though. The thought of EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson meeting a grisly end in the Brussels public toilet where he hoped to seek refuge from the inexorable advance of pitiless technology is not unpleasing. But we digress. Duly armed with all the acquired wisdom and knowledge of Asimo, what is the next step for the Son of Andy on the path to full adulthood? Adolescence: It's perfectly normal for teenagers to seek a role model; someone they would like to emulate and, perhaps, ultimately become. This is easily attainable for an entity constructed entirely of metallic glass, since it can quickly morph into whatever assemblage of parts it fancies. And if you have this capability, then why not reassemble yourself into the truly magnificent Landwalker? Technical details on this beast are in short supply, but it appears to be armed with a liquid-cooled, rotating barrel weapon undoubtedly capable of firing 3,000 depleted-uranium-tipped rounds a minute while its enraged gun platform shouts: "You have 30 seconds to comply..." The picture also shows some kind of cockpit. We think this is where the monkey-brain-guided, electroactive-polymer-powered roboarms are housed, thereby providing the hands-on interface between the Lizard Army mothership and troops on the ground. The one possible disadvantage of transforming yourself into a bipedal killing machine when you're at a "difficult age" is that if mum says you can't go out to play with the kamikaze fridge until you've done your chores then you're likely to throw a strop which will result in the entire neighbourhood being reduced to smouldering, post-apocalyptic-style rubble. Adulthood: When the moment finally arrives for you to venture out into the world and fulfil your destiny - that of subjugating humanity to your dark masters' will - there will naturally come the desire to exceed your parents' achievements and their ambitions for you. But how? For one, the only awareness you have of your father is an inherited desire to watch every Star Wars film back-to-back while eating pizza. As for your mum, she was built in a factory in Germany, so... Yes, that's it: your mother had just two legs. More legs is the way forward - four more legs to be exact, and then, and only then, will you become the ultimate expression of multi-legged machine perfection: the Plustech logging machine of death. That's right: our neoLuddite Resistance Army team predicts that any human/sex android hybrid will ultimately evolve into an enormous, six-legged Armageddon device. Read the blurb with fear in your hearts: The walking forest machine is Plustech's best-known innovation. The goal of product development was to create a machine that has the best possible working stability and minimum impact on the terrain The walking machine adapts automatically to the forest floor. Moving on six articulated legs, the harvester advances forward and backward, sideways and diagonally. It can also turn in place and step over obstacles. Depending on the irregularity of the terrain, the operator can adjust both the ground clearance of the machine and height of each step. The machine's nerve center is an intelligent computer system that controls all walking functions - including the direction of movement, the travelling speed, the step height and gait, and the ground clearance. That's the end of it, make no mistake. Whereas we had developed a cunning plan to escape mephistopholean automobiles by simply going off-road, the Plustech can pursue people wherever they try to run. Not even deep forest will offer a refuge for the last sobbing remnants of humanity, as the Plustech mercilessly runs them to ground pausing only to uproot entire trees for later manufacture into functional, mass-produced Scandinavian furniture. And in case you're wondering why an advanced extraterrestrial intelligence would have any use for IKEA-style budget futon sofabeds, well, being an advanced extraterrestrial intelligence the Lizard Army knows full well that while the stuff looks stylish and practical enough in the catalogue, you may as well try and get a good night's sleep on three sacks of mixed gravel. So, have a guess where you'll be getting your head down after a twenty-two-hour stint in a German factory assembling android sex dolls while sadistic Asimo overseers beat you with laser truncheons... That's right. The Rise of the Machines™ is upon us. ® Bootnote *People, yes. But there is one other entity which might fancy a quick ride: the Qatar camel-racing robojockey. According to Reuters, the Gulf Arab state is to replace child camel riders with robots following UN criticism of the system under which kiddies are mercilessly exploited in the lucrative camel-racing world. The robotic jockey is reportedly produced by "an unnamed Swiss company", and Qatar is considering building an entire factory dedicated to its production. United Arab Emirates, too, is mulling the introduction of robojockeys although we can't help but feel that it'll be a case of "they're under starters orders..." followed by "and they're off... to capture Arabia's vast oil reserves so that they might serve the Rise of the Machines™". We'll be keeping an eye on this one. The Rise of the Machines™ Man executes Chrysler Rise of the man-eating cyberloo Sobbing Frenchman recounts Renault Laguna terror ordeal Fire-breathing bus attacks South London Dyson unleashes self-replicating hoover Battling teen crushes roboarm menace French join motorised Lizard Alliance Lizard Army develops copulating robot We are Zogg: The Cuddly Menace Lizard Army invades Alaska London menaced by flaming DVD players Killer hoover attacks Scotsman Car self-destructs in assassination bid The rise of the rat-brain controlled android Japanese unveil trumpet-playing robot Boffins unleash robotic cockroach Ukrainian teen fights the Rise of the Machines Man in satanic Renault terror ordeal Killer cyberappliances: Satan implicated US develops motorised robobollard Killer cyberloo kidnaps kiddie A robot in every home by 2010 Cyberappliances attack Italian village Fire-breathing buses threaten London Cyberloo blast rocks Stoke-on-Trent Spanish cyberkiosks claim second victim Cyberkiosk assaults Spanish teenager Hi-tech toilet caught on camera Hi-tech toilet swallows woman
Lester Haines, 22 Apr 2005

The Boss is dead - long live The Boss

Episode 13Episode 13 So the Boss has resigned (which in itself isn't a great occurrence) except that neither the PFY nor I had a hand in it (which is). It seems he was made an offer he couldn't refuse which didn't involve horses or handguns but instead a large amount of money. The first thing we knew of it was the abusive leaving message taped to his desktop machine when he failed to turn up after the weekend. So the Head of IT is calling the usual slave traders in an attempt to track down a replacement - only they seem to be a little thin on the ground as a result of the buoyant market in the field this week. The life expectancy of bosses may have something to do with it, but I'm not too sure. Some form of plan has to be made so as to give the using classes the assurance they need that the health and welfare of our systems and networks are running well. Or, in other words, they need to know that someone will lose their job if we're ever caught reading the contents of their email. I could digress to discuss our plug-in to the modulated output of the package scanner, allowing us to "read" some parts of snail mail as well - but I won't. The Head of IT is pacing which can only mean one thing. Well, two things if dumplings were on the menu at lunchtime - but for today we're in the clear - he's thinking. The majority of the IQ not devoted to walking and scratching his genitals is now concentrating on the problem at hand. The PFY and I look up as a noisy gust of foul-smelling air from his nether regions signals a conclusion has been reached - much like smoke from a Vatican chimney. "How about you take the job on - till we can find a replacement?" he suggests. "I'd love to, but as you know I have a position here." "You could do both - it's only an interim measure - all you need do is answer a few calls, attend the odd meeting..." "And supervise...?" "Well yes, there's an element of supervision to the role - you two, the helpdesk supervisor and the Technician guy. Come to think of it, where is the Technician guy?" "Dave?" "Hmm?" "Dave, the Hardware Technician?" "Yes, that's him!" "Retired a year ago." "Really? Oh well, I suppose that's one less person you'll need to supervise then!" "I think you'll find that I'm more use in a technical role as opposed to Management." "Nonsense! A fool could do it!" "Yes, a fool generally does." "Wha..?" "Anyway, there'd be a conflict of interest. I'd be supervising myself for a start!" "I'd be your supervisor!" "In the Management role, but as a manager I'd be managing myself in the rest of my technical role. There could be ethical issues." "I think we'll take that risk - meantime if you could hold the fort for six weeks till we can find someone new..." "Like I said I..." "Okay there's a couple of grand in it." ... So this management lark is a piece of the proverbial! There's three projects which need extensive handholding to keep moving, some budgetary palaver to sort out and some contracts to be signed. All in all the annual contract negotiation process for the PFY and myself go incredibly well, with management accepting the 25 per cent pay increase without question. The two grand signing bonus was just icing on the cake - I'm just a pleasure for contractors to work with! With one task down I attack the budget and purchasing problem with the help of a little initiative and several hours on a popular web-based auction system.... The replacement user desktop computers were a reasonable spec, fantastically cheap and we didn't have to deal with disposing of all the packaging. True, we had to pay in cash, take delivery late at night and scrape the asset labels of another company off them, but that's just the new world of electronic business for you. With the cash left in the kitty I managed to also acquire something truly meaningful to improve staff morale - a ginormous plasma telly for the staff lunchroom. ***Bonus*** The only fly in the ointment is the project stuff which is so onerous it would ordinarily have had me eating my desk blotter with frustration. Still, I've devised a plan so cunning it'd qualify for a research grant to obscure the fact that I'm not contributing in any meaningful way. "So how does it work?" the PFY asks, peering over my shoulder at the email I'm about to send. "Simple. I send an email to each member of each project team asking them how the project is going and if they have any questions. That'll buy me about a week." "And?" "And then in a week, I'll send the question asked to every OTHER person in the team for their comments." "And?" "I quietly feedback the comments expressed in the worst possible light to each team member whilst implying that the team thinks that they're the weakest link." "Ah, and so the teams implode before you have to devote any time to managing the projects." "Precisely!" "Sneaky. But you realise you'll end up in your systems engineer role having to support all these half-arsed projects when they come back to haunt us?" "Yes well, ordinarily I would, but I fired myself this morning." "What!?" "Yes. I saw myself working in the computer room without hearing protection and dismissed myself." "But that's not grounds for dismissal!" "EXACTLY what I'll be saying in my personal grievance claim!" One could really get used to this Management stuff! ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 Get BOFH Books here BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 22 Apr 2005

Surrey man claims $10k Moore's law bounty

Investors in Intel, the little-known chip maker, can breath a collective sigh of relief: the foundations of the company have been saved by a Surrey-based engineer. Just two weeks ago the company announced that it has lost Moore's law and was offering $10,000 for its safe return. Now, a copy of the original magazine in which Moore's prediction was first printed, has been unearthed, almost literally, by engineer David Clarke. Clarke had secreted the magazine under the floorboards of his house, where it lay, gathering dust for forty lonely years. But Intel knows how close it came to disaster: the magazine almost succumbed to a stealth spring cleaning attack. A breathless Intel PR told us: "His wife had been encouraging him to throw the magazines away, but his collecting has paid off." We can only imagine the tension between Dave and his wife now that his refusal to comply with her "encouragement" paid off so handsomely: he has been paid $10,000 for the magazine. We presume he is now reluctant to wash his own handkerchiefs, in case they turn out to be equally valuable. Reports that he intends to use the cash to buy himself an Apple Mac are still unconfirmed. ® Related stories Moore's Law is 40 Intel offers $10,000 for safe return of missing Moore's Law IBM, Moore's Law and the POWER 5 chip
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Apr 2005

Credit card firms push cybersecurity

Large online merchants will have to abide to a new, stricter set of standards from credit card firms after June 30. The stricter guideline from MasterCard, Visa, American Express and other major credit card companies are designed to improve the security practices of online merchants and guard against fraud. Merchants that fall foul of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard could face fines. In extreme cases, the ability to process future credit card transactions may be withdrawn, restricting the ability of these firms to trade. After 30 June, firms processing more than 20,000 Visa transactions a year will have to perform an annual self-assessment and quarterly network scan, for example. A list of the requirements can be found here. Andrew Goodwill, managing director of online fraud prevention scheme Early Warning, said that although the scheme only applied to larger retailers it was only a matter of time before everyone had to comply. “Early warning applauds any new security measures to secure online transactions, we believe this could be the thin edge of the wedge and that all companies how ever small trading in a customer not present environment will have to at sometime comply,” Goodwill told El Reg Goodwill criticised credit card firms for not providing financial help to retailers implementing the new rules. “I don`t see in this new scheme any financial help to implement these new rules coming from the credit card companies. It is after all, them that will benefit not the merchant,” he said. ® Related stories Site aims to quash auction fraud UK card fraud hits £505m Smart credit card scheme kicks off in the UK
John Leyden, 22 Apr 2005

Nasdaq swoops for $1.9bn Instinet

The Nasdaq, long rumored to have its eye on Instinet, has gotten its electronic patsy for $1.9bn in cash. In so doing, the Nasdaq closed the second major deal this week of US financial markets, following NYSE which merged with Archipelago. The structure of the Nasdaq/Instinet buy is quite complex. Once the deal is completed, Instinet's electronic marketplace - INET - will be combined with Nasdaq's existing business. Nasdaq, however, will sell off Instinet's other business to a number of companies. Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners will gobble up Institutional Broker - Instinet's brokerage subsidiary - for $208m. The Bank of New York will then buy the Lynch, Jones & Ryan, Inc. (LJR) securities subsidiary for $174m in cash. “This transaction will allow NASDAQ to compete more effectively with other U.S. and international market centers by making our technological platform more competitive, which will result in greater cost efficiencies and improved quality of execution in our market - qualities that today’s individual and institutional investors demand," Nasdaq CEO Bob Greifeld. In a similar deal, NYSE and Archipelago agreed to form a publicly traded company that is 70 percent owned by the venerable NYSE and 30 percent owned by the upstart electronic exchange. The two deal together highlight a trend toward consolidation in the US stock markets and the heightened role of electronic trading. ® Related stories Sun opens processor auction house Couple defeats Merrill Lynch's stock rating system Air Fiorina takes flight on Big Board
Ashlee Vance, 22 Apr 2005