27th > April > 2005 Archive

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Oracle wading into open source certification?

Oracle is considering certification of open source software in a move that could tread on the toes of one of Silicon Valley's brightest start-ups. Oracle president Charles Phillips yesterday revealed the company believes its next opportunity lies in testing the interdependencies between open source software that is freely downloaded and installed by enterprise customers on servers and systems. Phillips said Oracle has a greater role to play in the field of certification as its own application and database software becomes increasingly prevalent. While Phillips did not go into details of either the service or delivery dates, the company could be expected to certify open source with its own applications. Speaking at the Software 2005 conference in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday, Phillips told an audience of 1,000 chief executive officers: "[Customers] are bogged down by the dependencies between applications. Add a patch in Linux and five other things break. People ask: 'Why can't you tell me what the dependencies are?' "We are large enough now and in enough different areas to do something about it. We see that as the next opportunity." Phillips said. A move by Oracle into this sector could lead the database giant into competition with Spikesource, one of an emerging generation of start-ups specializing in testing and certification of open source software. Spikesource is something of a darling in Silicon Valley, having received the backing of Oracle's former president and chief operating officer Ray Lane, now general partner at venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Additionally, SpikeSource's chief executive is former Marimba co-founder, president and CEO Kim Polese, one of the IT industry's few female CEOs. SpikeSource's advisory board, meanwhile, reads like a who's who of open source, consisting of – among others - CollabNet founder and chief technology officer Brian Behlendorf, MySQL CEO Marten Mickos and IP law attorney Lawrence Rosen. SpikeSource plans to provide an integrated and tested stack based on 50 plus open source components including Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP), JBoss, Tomcat, Axis and Hibernate. The software will be certified, managed, supported and run on leading distributions, including SuSE 9.0, Red Hat 9, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora Core 3. Polese, also speaking at Software 2005, told The Register that she believes there is a large enough market for both companies because of the complexity of enterprise systems. Polese said: "Complexity will continue to grow. Each time a Fortune 50 company picks up a new component it creates a new integration challenge." Commenting on the prospect of competition between the two, the US president of services company Persistent Systems said he expected SpikeSource would likely be able to serve a broader market than Oracle, who would likely just focus on inter dependencies between open source applications and Oracle's own software. Ravi Krishnamurthy told The Register, Oracle would likely certify "big chunks" of tier-one software, while SpikeSource would certify rival customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software. ® Related stories Oracle wins Retek bidding war Oracle snaps up security firm IBM and Novell grease Linux development wheels
Gavin Clarke, 27 Apr 2005

Book giant feels wrath of Jobs

Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs has handed his biographer a publicity bonanza to on the eve of the publication of his latest book. Top science and tech publisher John Wiley says that Apple has pulled all Wiley titles from Apple's own retail stores in retaliation against a new biography of the billionaire fruitarian. Apple stores are telling customers that such popular titles as Mac for Dummies and Mac OS X Secrets are "out of stock". The book iCon (Steve Jobs : The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business), by Jeffrey Young and William Simon [ Amazon.com - publisher's page ] is a follow-up to Young's 1987 bio The Journey Is the Reward, and is scheduled for publication at the end of May. "It became increasingly clear that Apple was not happy with the publication of the book," a Wiley executive told the San Jose Mercury. Five years ago Jobs tried to persuade Random House CEO Peter Olson to try and kill Alan Deutschman's The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, and he succeeded in icing a feature in Vanity Fair (where Deutschman was a contributing editor) based on extracts from the book. More recently Apple has sued small web sites for leaking details of unreleased products, a move that if succesful, will ensure that no publisher large or small can discuss corporate strategy until the organization itself deems it can. Despite almost turning over a billion dollars year, the Hoboken, NJ-based company remains a family-owned firm, and is standing by its authors. iCon had shot up to No.144 in Amazon.com's sales rankings today. ® Related stories Jobs trying to block my book alleges author Apple founder Jobs joins IKEA Apple founder urges company to drop bullying lawsuits
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Apr 2005
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Mentec acquires Xdat Software

Mentec, the Irish-owned Microsoft Great Plains reseller, has bought a London-based accountancy software dealer, its second UK acquisition in recent months. Terms for the acquisition of Xdat Software Ltd were undisclosed, but the sum paid is thought to be around £750,000, according to ElectricNews.Net. Xdat is Microsoft's third biggest UK partner for Microsoft Great Plains, with 12 staff servicing around 100 customers in the south of England. It will trade as Sytation Ltd, the name of a Midlands-based Great Plains reseller which Mentec picked up last December. Work on integrating the two firms will begin immediately. Mentec says it is Europe's second biggest Great Plains reseller. Press release here. ® Related story Mentec buys British Great Plains reseller
Team Register, 27 Apr 2005
For Sale sign detail

TSG buys Yorks dealer

Technology Services Group Ltd (TSG) has bought another company, this time Agenda Business Systems, a Pegasus accounting software specialist based in Barnsley. The reseller group gains 150 small and medium-sized business customers, which it will seek to convert to its wider range of IT services. TSG now has 100 employees in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, Sheffield and Barnsley. This month TSG secured a £25m facility from Lloyds TSB Corporate to fund acquisitions. The Newcastle-headquartered firm has bought more than a dozen small resellers, mostly based in Scotland and the north of England. Press release here. ® Related stories TSG secures £25m facility for takeover trail ISG Webb sold for £17m TSG buys Leeds reseller TSG buys Scottish dealer Sage co-founder goes to Glasgow Sage founder buys Nordic Data
Team Register, 27 Apr 2005
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Dixons embarks on mega Euro expansion

Dixons has unveiled ambitious plans to expand its electrical retail operation on the Continent. The UK retailer is increase the number of its PC City superstores in France from seven to as many as 100 stores, it announced today. It is to enter two new markets with the opening of its first PC City store in Portugal. And it is to open two Electro World stores in Poland, a retail brand currently trading in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Market watchers say Dixons' expansion into Europe makes sense since the UK is facing tough trading conditions. In January the retailer said it "remains cautious" about the prospects for consumer expenditure in the UK as economic pressures hit high street spending. Dixons chief exec John Clare said today that the expansion of its international operation was an "important strategic move" that "underpins our leadership position in the European market". "Approaching one third of our sales are generated in stores outside of the UK and we have plans for further growth in all the countries where we now have a presence," he said. Two weeks ago Dixons announced it was considering expanding its electrical retailing empire to Russia and the Ukraine following the inking of a long-term co-operation deal with the Eldorado Group. The UK retailer has until 2011 to acquire the Russian consumer electronics retailing group for £1bn. ® Related stories Dixons looks to Russian Eldorado for growth Dixons mulls The Link sell-off Carphone trumpets telecoms success Festive sales boost Dixons
Tim Richardson, 27 Apr 2005
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World chip glut halved in Q1

The world's chip makers and their customers ate into their combined stockpile of semiconductors rather more than had been forecast in the first quarter, market watcher iSuppli said yesterday. The research firm described the excess chip chow down as "undeniably a positive development for the global chip industry". The researcher's preliminary figure for the value of unused chips in the electronics supply chain in Q1 2005 came to $500m, almost 36 per cent below its previous forecast of $780m. It's also less than half the value of Q4 2004's inventory of unused product, $1.03bn. Which is good news for the chip business, speeding the arrival of the point at which its customers begin boosting their orders again. Semiconductor inventory reduction is usually a slow process in the first three months of the year, as sales slow. Instead, sales have been above par, iSuppli said. Cutting back on chip output helped too. Chip vendors hold the bulk of the surplus, which swelled rapidly during Q3 2004 to $1.62bn, 95.3 per cent up on the previous quarter's total, $829m, itself well up on Q1 2004's $12m stockpile. Still, the outlook isn't certain, iSuppli admitted, citing reduced chip prices and "weak market conditions". The second quarter does not appear to be shaping up as a strong one for end-user demand, which will in turn limit product manufacturers' willingness to increase their spending on components, such as semiconductors. That's one reason why iSuppli is sticking to its earlier forecast of 6.1 per cent chip industry revenue growth in 2005, despite the greater-than-expected reduction in Q1 inventory. And it cautioned chip makers not to make the same mistake they made last year: ramping up production rapidly in response to high levels of anticipated demand - demand which then never materialised. ® Related stories Elpida declares first annual profit Freescale earnings grow post-restructure Intel rides mobile express to strong Q1 Memory woes color AMD's Q1 red TI meets lowered Q1 forecast TSMC, UMC Q1 sales slide Micron remakes a profit World chip glut 'over early Q2' Chip glut ebbs
Tony Smith, 27 Apr 2005
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Failing UK cyber defences need overhaul

The UK's National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) needs more powers to enforce security best practices in order to safeguard the nation's critical systems against cyber-attack, according to a former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority. Lord Toby Harris of Haringey called for the appointment of a government cyber security czar and legislation to change the role of the NISCC from providing information security advice to setting and enforcing information security standards. "At present NISCC is set up to fail. Advice is not a guarantee of action," said Lord Harris. Lord Harris conceded that this stricter regulation regime would be more expensive to maintain. Ultimately taxpayers would have to pay for better security to critical systems such as those run by utilities, food distribution networks, banks and government itself. But inaction is not an option when even the "most secure systems appear to be vulnerable". Lord Harris said that since May 2002 71 Ministry of Defence systems had been "compromised by malicious programs". The Lovgate virus infected 4,000 MoD PCs and took four weeks to get rid of. More recently British Coast Guard systems were knocked over by the Sasser worm. "There is real and present danger not just from cyber delinquents but from cyber criminals and terrorists," he said. Lord Harris made his comments during a keynote address at the Infosecurity trade show in London on Tuesday. The independent peer's comments reignite a debate on regulation aired at February's RSA Conference. Lord Harris' reference to the risk of an "electronic 9/11" irked some delegates who reckon politicians often overstate risks in an effort to get their point across. Tighter security regulations need to apply to suppliers as well as users and Lord Harris's call for international co-operation on the enforcement of cyber crime standards are likely to flounder on US opposition to tighter government regulations. Until UK politicians take cyber crime more seriously few of his other ideas are likely to come to fruition. ® Related stories Big guns back UK IT security drive UK.gov deploys IT early warning system Taleban can't hack UK govt Regulate this
John Leyden, 27 Apr 2005

Amazon profits go down the Swanee

Online retailer Amazon saw its shares dip 2.5 per cent last night after posting disappointing results for the first quarter ended 31 March 2005. Despite upping sales by 24 per cent to $1.9bn Amazon's profits took a dip. Amazon benefitted from foreign exchange movements but with this stripped out it still increased sales by 22 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2004. Sales of electronics and general goods made up a quarter of total sales. But net income fell to $78m in the first quarter compared to $111m in the same period last year. The net income figure includes a $56m income tax payment. Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO, said the company was seeing heavy use of its Amazon Prime service which gives members unlimited two day delivery on eligible items for $79 a year. International sales from China, France, Germany, Japan and the UK were up 28 per cent to $875m. Looking forward Amazon predicts full year revenues in the range $8.175bn and $8.675bn, up 18 to 25 per cent compared with 2004. Amazon has pre-orders for 700,000 copies of the sixth Harry Potter book which is released in July. More details available on amazon.com here.® Related stories Book giant feels wrath of Jobs Amazon books deal with Marks & Sparks Amazon wins reprieve against Toysrus.com
John Oates, 27 Apr 2005

Egg shuffles top brass

Egg is restructuring its top management as part of plans to save the internet bank £12m a year. CFO David Doyle will quit the company on 16 May after less than two years as chief beancounter. He will be replaced by COO Mark Nancarrow while chief exec Paul Gratton will take responsibility for "Risk, Audit and Legal functions", as well as the overall strategy of the e-bank. As previously announced, executive vice chairman Mike Harris is also moving on, while non-exec director Jonathan Bloomer has just a week or so left to clear his desk before retiring from the board. Oh, and staff will also have to have a whip round for company secretary and chief legal officer, Marcus Ezekiel, who's also on the way out. He will be replaced by Sue Windridge, currently deputy company secretary Said Egg chief exec Paul Gratton: "We have been exercising strong control over our costs. This restructure aligns our senior management more closely with our strategy which is now fully focused on the core UK business." The shake-up at the top comes as Egg announced that Q1 operating profit for its core UK operation fell from £15.7m last year to £9.9m. At the same time revenues in the UK during the first three months of the year were up 4 per cent at £125m. ® Related stories Egg losses grow Egg finally flees France Egg losses soar on France debacle
Tim Richardson, 27 Apr 2005

Web scammers sell Indian PM's house to American

You'd imagine there is not a man, woman or child in Christendom who has not heard the classic - and likely apocryphal - tale of how enterprising Londoners sold the defunct old London Bridge to some enthusiastic Americans who thought they were buying Tower Bridge. Well, here's someone who must have been out playing golf when that particular yarn did the rounds stateside: John Hammond from Little Rock, Arkansas, who paid more than $800,000 for a nice little place in New Delhi which he spotted on the web, only to discover later he had "bought" the Indian prime minister's official residence. A suitably embarrassed Hammond told the Hindustani Times: "I run a consultancy firm in the US and was planning to open an office here. I was scouting the Net for a good property when I came across this website that had some very attractive offers listed. No. 7 Race Course Road was described as a 'huge, sprawling mansion in the heart of Lutyen's Delhi with 24x7 running water and electricity'. There were even pictures of the place and I liked it immediately. I got in touch with the so-called estate agents who promised to give me a good deal. What a deal it has turned out to be!" After months of negotiations, Hammond duly transferred the funds to a Cayman Islands bank account and thereafter received his title deeds. Only when he arrived in New Delhi and jumped into a cab to his new pad did the horrible truth begin to dawn on the hapless scammee. The Indian police admit Hammond and his money are unlikely to be reunited. An officer from the Special Investigation Team charged with probing the outrage said: "What can we do? The gang operates on an international scale and is most likely based outside India. The account in the Cayman Islands has already been closed and the money transferred. The banking laws there allow people to open accounts through local lawyers. In this case, the lawyer who handled the entire transaction says he received instructions over the phone and never met his principles. It's a complete dead-end." The flabbergasted copper added: "It helps if people aren't so gullible. Hammond is a successful businessman in his own country - why couldn't he have verified the antecedents of the property that had been put for sale? A call to any government office in India would have told him whose house he was really buying." ® Related stories Watch out, there be scammers about, warns watchdog How scammers run rings round eBay 419ers take Aussie financial advisor for AU$1m
Lester Haines, 27 Apr 2005
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Juniper takes two for improved application push

Juniper Networks splashed out $500m on two firms Tuesday as part of its long-term strategy of overtaking Cisco as the favoured networking infrastructure supplier to telcos and big corporates. Wide Area Network optimisation technology firm Peribit Networks and application front end firm Redline Networks will set Juniper back $337m and $132m respectively. Each acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and financed by a mixture of cash and stock. Both deals are geared towards making IP-based applications more secure and reliable, or Application Assurance, as Juniper calls it. "WAN optimisation and application front end technologies are key elements in addressing the performance and security issues associated with an increasingly distributed and mobile enterprise," Juniper said in a statement. Founded in early 2000, Peribit Networks develops WAN optimisation appliances. Its technology is designed to provide faster application performance, prioritised delivery and improved visibility of network and application performance. Redline Networks, also founded in early 2000, specialises in kit to boost the performance and scalability of web sites. The combined revenue of Peribit Networks and Redline Networks was approximately $40m in 2004. Juniper has been on something of a buying spree of late, buying internet telephony start-up Kagoor Networks late last month in addition to its latest purchases. Juniper expects to take a one to two cents hit to its earnings per share in the second half of 2005 because of these three acquisitions, which it predicts will boost its earnings next year. ® Related stories Juniper snaps up Kagoor Cisco and Fujitsu pool R&D for big routers, switches Cisco market share slipping Juniper buys Netscreen for $3.4 billion
John Leyden, 27 Apr 2005

World mobile phone sales slow

Worldwide mobile phone sales slowed during Q1 2005, with year-on-year growth dwindling to under ten per cent - the lowest rate in two years - market watcher Strategy Analytics (SA) said today. During the quarter, some 172m mobiles were shipped, mostly from the top three vendors, Nokia, Motorola and Samsung. That's well down on Q4 2004's total, 196.6m units, but no great surprise given the traditional strength of the Christmas sales season. But while Q4 2004's shipments were 23 per cent up on Q4 2003's total, Q1 2005's year-on-year growth was 9.5 per cent, from Q1 2004's 157m shipments. Each quarter's year-on-year growth has fallen since Q2 2004, SA's figures show, after Q1 2004's year-on-year growth of 44 per cent. SA said demand softened in all regions, especially in South America and Western Europe. However, upgrades to 3G handsets lifted demand in Japan and South Korea - but not enough to lift the global market as a whole. Market leader Nokia's share of the world handset business fell slightly sequentially, but was up year-on-year, as were all the other major vendors, with the notably exception of Siemens. Its share fell from 8.2 per cent in Q1 2004 to 5.4 per cent in Q1 2005. Sony Ericsson's share fell too, but only by a tenth of a percentage point. SA cited Sony Ericsson's "lacklustre" device line-up and Siemens' weakness in its European heartland as key reasons for these vendors' lack of success. LG saw the biggest year-on-year market share growth, thanks to strong North American sales. Of the majors, only Motorola and Samsung were able to make sequential market share gains, rising from 16.2 per cent in Q4 2004 to 16.7 per cent in Q1 2005 and 10.7 per cent to 14.2 per cent, respectively. SA maintained its October 2004 forecast of eight per cent growth in unit shipments for 2005, from 2004's 680.5m units to a predicted 735m handsets, and well down on 2004's increase of 31.6 per cent over 2003's total shipments. If that's the case, quarterly year-on-year growth rates have further to fall. ® Related stories Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down Smart phones make inroads in business Samsung sales, income slump Sony Ericsson slips on stockpiled handsets RIM edges into Q4 loss Sendo reports Ericsson to EC, Ericsson sues Sendo....
Tony Smith, 27 Apr 2005

Mobiles 'ring around the blue collar'

When it comes to using mobile phones in businesses, the phone wedged beneath the average worker's ear will be resting against a blue collar. A pan-European survey from mobile services provider O2 found that, in the UK, blue-collar workers will soon to overtake professional staff in their use of mobile services at work. Professionals are adopting the advancing technologies of mobile email and mobile data applications at a rapid rate, according to O2, but small businesses and blue-collar workers are upgrading even faster, as they aim to enhance their functionality and enabling themselves to spend more time in the field. Nearly 30 per cent of grey- and blue-collar workers are active in providing wireless access to business systems, such as service management, inventory and logistics. Another 20 per cent plan to become active sometime this year. "Historically, when people think about mobile data, they have thought about mobile email and corporate white-collar applications," said Helen Wylde, head of corporate marketing at O2. "Now with mobile data devices in the hands of plumbers, maintenance staff, engineers and craft workers, customer service can be moved from the call centres to the doorstep allowing workers in the field to have access to the most up to date information and services helping to provide an overall better service for customers." O2 found that over 30 per cent of companies had deployed specialised mobile devices for their blue-collar workers to use in the field, and about 20 per cent are planning significant wireless projects in 2005. Copyright © 2005, Related stories Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down Asia boosts Nokia earnings Smart phones make inroads in business
Startups.co.uk, 27 Apr 2005
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Grid computing meets data flow challenge

Scientists at CERN announced yesterday that eight major computing centres have managed to sustain an average continuous data flow of 600 megabytes per second for 10 days. It is a significant milestone for scientific grid computing. The total volume of data transmitted between CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research near Geneva, and seven sites in the US and Europe - amounting to 500 terabytes - would take about 250 years to download using a typical 512-kilobit per second household broadband connection. In basic terms, grid computing can be described as a network of computers and data storage systems, brought together to share computing power. Where a computer is not being used, or is using only a fraction of its power, the grid will allow that power to be used by someone else. The concept differs from the World Wide Web, which only enables communication through browsers, because it actually allows access to computer resources. It is also different from peer-to-peer computing, which enables file-sharing between two users, because it allows sharing of resources among many, not just two. The potential of computer grids is enormous and when the concept becomes mainstream it holds the promise of transforming the computer power available to the individual. At present, a computer user is restricted by the power of his own computer. When the grid comes on line there will be no restrictions: the cheapest, oldest model will have access to the computing resources of millions of other computers worldwide. Scientists at CERN are collaborating with scientists worldwide in the creation of what is hoped will be the world's largest computer grid, in order to analyse the massive volume of data that will be produced when CERN's latest and largest ever particle accelerator (known as the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC) becomes operational in 2007. The exercise completed yesterday was the second in a series of four service challenges designed to ramp up to the level of computing capacity, reliability and ease of use that will be required by the worldwide community of over 6000 scientists working on the LHC experiments. Other participants included Brookhaven National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the US, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Germany, CCIN2P3 in France, INFN-CNAF in Italy, SARA/NIKHEF in the Netherlands and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. "This service challenge is a key step on the way to managing the torrents of data anticipated from the LHC," said Jamie Shiers, manager of the service challenges at CERN. "When the LHC starts operating in 2007, it will be the most data-intensive physics instrument on the planet, producing more than 1500 megabytes of data every second for over a decade." Fermilab Computing Division head Vicky White welcomed the results of the service challenge. "High energy physicists have been transmitting large amounts of data around the world for years," she said. "But this has usually been in relatively brief bursts and between two sites. Sustaining such high rates of data for days on end to multiple sites is a breakthrough, and augurs well for achieving the ultimate goals of LHC computing." In fact the test exceeded expectations by sustaining roughly one-third of the ultimate data rate from the LHC, and reaching peak rates of over 800 megabytes per second. The next service challenge, due to start in the summer, will extend to many other computing centres and aim at a three-month period of stable operations. That challenge will allow many of the scientists involved to test their computing models for handling and analysing the data from the LHC experiments. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com Related stories Sun opens processor auction house Dutch turn town into supercomputer Globus Consortium takes grid computing to the office
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Apr 2005
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Security for the paranoid

CommentComment Paranoia is the key to success in the security world. Is it time to worry when other security professionals consider you too paranoid? "You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write F*** you right under your nose." --J. D. Salinger, American Novelist Something strange happened to me recently: a friend told me I was too paranoid when it comes to security. It was strange because he was the third person to tell me that in a couple weeks. Sure, I expect most people to call me paranoid, but these were all colleagues in the security industry. Is it time to worry when security professionals consider you too paranoid? Most of my internet traffic goes through at least three firewalls. Is that too paranoid? The first thing I did was try to understand the word paranoia. After checking a few dictionaries I found that it was a psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution, grandeur, or excessive distrust. What is a delusion? It's a false belief held despite evidence to the contrary. Are extreme security measures acting on false threats that don't really exist? Some consider some of my security strategies a bit extreme. I call it meticulous precaution. Sure, the threat might not be real. No one may ever actually want what you have on your PC. But does that really matter? Does the threat have to be real to warrant strong security? Sometimes I have a "Password Day" where I change every password I own on the same day, just in case someone might happen to have one of my passwords. I frequently change my passwords after traveling. Its not that I think someone is trying to hack me, but I also don't think someone is not trying to hack me. That's really not the point. There's no need to analyze the threat of every situation. Just practice strong security always and you should be okay. I frequently see people posting PGP signed e-mails to security mailing lists. It's not that these people are afraid of someone actually spoofing fake comments from them on the latest CGI flaw; they just make it a practice to sign every e-mail, no matter how trivial it might be. Sure, these people are signing e-mails when it's really not important, but I doubt they get caught not signing when it is important. If you always practice the best security, you never have to worry about mediocre security. I use very long passwords for everything, even with the lamest accounts I have. I require my kids to use at least 14 character passwords on our home network and I'm considering issuing them smart cards. No one else, not even my wife, knows my network password. I don't just throw out shredded documents; I spread the shredded bits into my garden to use as mulch. I don't do it because I think someone is going to go through my trash to reassemble bits of my research notes. I do it because it's good security. I try to run my own network the same way I tell my clients to. Is this prudent and sensible proactive security or is it mental illness? Do you need a threat to practice the defense? I used to tell my clients to set files in their web content directories to read only. Some thought this was too extreme and too much of a hassle, but then along came a worm named Code Red that failed on all the clients who followed my advice. I use a unique, secret email address for each sensitive online account I have. I have always done that. I guess this would look paranoid to most people, but when I get e-mails from my bank, I can check the address the e-mail address they used to see if they sent it to the secret address. Of all the changes Microsoft has made towards security in the last few years, the most notable in my opinion is that they now secure against threats that to many seem minor or that might not even exist. Is it insane and delusional for them to protect themselves from threats that haven't even been invented yet? Is it a senseless preoccupation to defend the inner layers rather than just focusing on hardening the outside? I keep my PC's turned around so I can tell if anyone has installed a hardware keylogger. I never check in luggage when I fly. I do my Internet browsing from a locked down VMWare box that has no rights on my network. I use terrafly.com to see what others might be able to see about my home. It takes five passwords to boot up my laptop and check my e-mail. One of those passwords is over 50 characters long. I also delete unused services on my servers. I block unused ports. And I install hotfixes the day Microsoft releases them. Henry Kissinger said that "Even a paranoid can have enemies." The fact is that we don't know all the current and future threats so we might as well treat everything as high security. I do, but then perhaps I'm just paranoid. Copyright © 2005, Mark Burnett is an independent researcher, consultant, and writer specializing in Windows security. He is the author of Hacking the Code: ASP.NET Web Application Security (Syngress), co-author of the best-selling book Stealing The Network: How to Own the Box (Syngress), and co-author of Maximum Windows 2000 Security (SAMS Publishing). He is a contributor and technical editor for Special Ops: Host and Network Security for Microsoft, UNIX, and Oracle. Mark speaks at various security conferences and has published articles in Windows IT Pro Magazine (formerly Windows & .NET Magazine), Redmond Magazine, Information Security, Windows Web Solutions, Security Administrator and various other print and online publications. Mark is a Microsoft Windows Server Most Valued Professional for Internet Information Services. Related stories Microsoft reveals hardware security plans Credit card firms push cybersecurity PC-cillin killed my PC
Mark Burnett, 27 Apr 2005

A380 behemoth takes to the skies

Up to 50,000 people are reported to have lined the runway at Blagnac International Airport in Toulouse to watch this morning's first lift-off of the Airbus A380, which took to the skies at 8.29 GMT and landed safely almost four hours later. The monster twin-decker - nicely registered as F-WW0W - carried a crew of six and a "full set of flight-test instrumentation to record the thousands of parameters necessary to enable in-flight performance analysis". The maiden jaunt marks the start of up to 2,500 hours of proving flights on five test aircraft. Airbus had already carried out extensive ground-based testing of hydraulic and electrical systems before the flight, and test pilot Jacques Rosay told the BBC his team was "confident with what has been done up to today". He did, however, add: "But we still have some doubts. We have to be very careful during all the flight because, as you say, when you are looking at new things, something may happen." Accordingly, Rosay and his team were equipped with parachutes just in case the superjumbo decided not to play ball. The A380 was lifted from the ground by its four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines at a record-breaking weight of 421 tonnes (928,300 lbs). The behemoth is designed to carry up to 555 passengers up to 15,000 km (8,000 nm) in "an unparalleled level of comfort, with wider seats and aisles, open spaces for passengers to stretch their legs and access to lower-deck amenities". Total orders for the A380 currently stand at 139 aircraft spread across 13 customers - a healthy percentage of the 250 unit break-even figure previously estimated by Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard. However, it's not been all blue skies for the A380. Back in January, Airbus commercial director John Leahy dismissed a controversial €1.5bn overspend on the project thus: "That sounds quite a lot of money until you realise you are dealing with a programme which is about €11bn." In May last year, the planned deployment schedule suffered a knock-back when Virgin Airlines postponed delivery of the A380 until 2007 - a year later than planned. The company cited difficulties in kitting out the aircraft, and added that "delays in airports - particularly that of Los Angeles (LAX) - preparing to receive the enormous aircraft are partly behind the decision", as we reported at the time. Nonetheless, Europe has high hopes for the A380. At the roll-out ceremony in January, Jacques Chirac described it as the "crowning achievement of a human and industrial adventure", with Brit PM Tony Blair dubbing the beast "the most exciting new aircraft in the world, a symbol of economic strength and technical innovation". ® Related stories Airbus rolls out A380 A380 Airbus suffers Virgin knock-back Airbus behemoth faces the press
Lester Haines, 27 Apr 2005

Aspect-Oriented Analysis and Design at 30% off

Site offerSite offer Aspect-oriented programming (AOP) is a revolutionary new way to think about software engineering. AOP was introduced to address crosscutting concerns such as security, logging, persistence, debugging, tracing, distribution, performance monitoring, and exception handling in a more effective manner. Unlike conventional development techniques, which scatter the implementation of each concern into multiple classes, aspect-oriented programming localizes them. Aspect-oriented software development (AOSD) uses this approach to create a better modularity for functional and nonfunctional requirements, platform specifics, and more, allowing you to build more understandable systems that are easier to configure and extend to meet the evolving needs of stakeholders. Thanks to its great promise as an approach to simplifying the development of complex systems, many expert observers view AOSD as a worthwhile successor to the prevalent object-oriented paradigm. In this new book - Aspect-Oriented Analysis and Design, two AOSD experts apply theory to the practical realm of real-world development. They explain the different kinds of aspects, help the reader identify them, and provide guidance on successful design and implementation. The result is an applicable and easy-to-digest methodology for simplifying and optimizing the development of software systems. And don't forget that you can save up to 30% on thousands of other titles in the Reg Bookshop. Aspect-Oriented Analysis and Design RRP £35.99 - Reg price - £25.19 - Saving £10.80 (30%) Practical information on how to make the significant shift to AOSD Aspect-Oriented Software Development with Use Cases RRP £39.99 - Reg price - £27.99 - Saving £12.00 (30%) A refreshingly new approach toward improving use-case modeling by fortifying it with aspect orientation Aspect-Oriented Software Development RRP £45.99 - Reg price - £32.19 - Saving £13.80 (30%) If you're an experienced software engineer or architect, this foundation reference is all you need to start applying it in real-world systems C++ Common Knowledge RRP £21.99 - Reg price - £15.39 - Saving £6.60 (30%) What Every Professional C++ Programmer Needs to Know—Pared to Its Essentials So It Can Be Efficiently and Accurately Absorbed Rapid J2EE™ Development RRP £31.99 - Reg price - £22.39 - Saving £9.60 (30%) Learn to accelerate J2EE development, from design through testing and beyond Layer 2 VPN Architectures RRP £42.99 - Reg price - £30.09 - Saving £12.90 (30%) A complete guide to understanding, designing, and deploying Layer 2 VPN technologies and pseudowire emulation applications CMMI® SCAMPI Distilled RRP £28.99 - Reg price - £20.29 - Saving £8.70 (30%) Whether you're a manager, team leader, acquisition specialist, quality specialist, or appraiser, this book will help you use SCAMPI to achieve your real goals Brilliant Photoshop CS RRP £12.99 - Reg price - £9.09 - Saving £3.90 (30%) Spend less time reading and more time doing with a simple step-by-step approach to beginner and intermediate level tasks Brilliant Windows XP RRP £12.99 - Reg price - £9.09 - Saving £3.90 (30%) Master the Windows XP user interface, file management and Windows XP applications  Brilliant Office 2003 RRP £12.99 - Reg price - £9.09 - Saving £3.90 (30%) Highly visual, step-by-step guide to getting the most out of Office 2003 Brilliant Word 2003 RRP £12.99 - Reg price - £9.09 - Saving £3.90 (30%) What you need to know and how to do it Don’t forget your opportunity to review current and previous offers. The Reg Bestsellers Last week at The Reg Great new releases This week's book bag
Team Register, 27 Apr 2005

Interregnum makes three into one

Merchant bank Interregnum is merging two of its subsidiary companies with Red-M (Communications) Limited, creating a combined business which will be floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Interregnum Wireless Holdings Ltd, Cellular Design Services Ltd and Red-M (Communications) Limited will form a new company - Red-M Group Ltd. The intention is to float the business within the the next two months. Michael McTighe is chairman of Red-M, Karl Feilder is chief executive and Simon Saunders, formerly CEO of CDS, becomes chief technology officer. Red-M provides wireless security products and services, network design and implementation, customers include BAA and T-Mobile. The firm believes that the increasing complexity of the wireless market and the convergence of wireless phone and computer networks will increase demand for network security and management products. Apax Partners and Amadeus Group, which together with management are the main shareholders of Red-M, are also investing in the firm. ® Related stories Freescale earnings grow post-restructure WiPhishing hack risk warning Texas moves against public Wi-Fi porn .
John Oates, 27 Apr 2005
For Sale sign detail

Tiny.com ticked off by ad watchdog

Time Group Ltd - trading as tiny.com - has been told off by the advertising watchdog for running a misleading ad for its PCs. Someone from Merseyside complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after seeing an ad for a Power PC retailing at £699. He or she got the hump because the ad didn't make it clear that the deal included an "additional, compulsory delivery charge" of £39.99. The complainer was also a tad miffed that the ad - which boasted that tiny.com had 130 stores across the UK - didn't emphasise that the offer was not available in the stores, but could only be ordered over the phone or online. The ASA upheld both complaints. Yesterday, it was revealed that the number of complaints about dodgy adverts generated by the UK's computer and telecoms industry fell to 1,322 in 2004 from 1,579 the year before. Despite this, the UK's tech sector is still one of the biggest industry offenders, second only to the "leisure" market. ® Related stories Tech ad complaints fall 'Irresponsible' Wanadoo TV ad banned Telewest belted for 'spoof' mailshot Tiny transforms into e-business
Tim Richardson, 27 Apr 2005

EC honours European tech innovators

The three grand winners of this year's European Commission sponsored IST (Information Society Technologies) prize received their awards in Brussels yesterday. Two French firms, Let It Wave (for its image compression technology) and Praxim Mediavision (computer assisted surgical systems), along with Swedish firm Cypak (pin-on-card technology) emerged victorious and a handy €200,000 richer. British entries, as with recent Eurovision song contests, missed out on main prize. But unlike Jordan Babboo.com, FilmLight and Skinkers got a prize for making it into the last 20. The European IST Prize, now in its 11th year, recognises the best of European innovation in information and communication technologies. The Grand Prize Winners were selected from a total of 430 entries, largely submitted by start-ups, from a total of 29 European countries. The Prize is organised by Euro-CASE with the sponsorship and support of the Information Society Programme of the European Commission. Cypak1, which was founded in 1999 and employs 14 people, won recognition for its contactless smartcard with integrated PIN pad for secure verification over the internet. Let It Wave got the gong for CodecID, compression software that enables the storage of high-quality identity photos with as few as 500 bytes. The technology has applications in area such as ID cards, visas, access badges. Lastly, French firm Praxim Mediavision wowed the judges with its Surgetics Kneelogics Application. This is described as a "computer-assisted surgical system dedicated to the precise positioning of implants and grafts in knee surgery". Praxim Mediavision has grown to employ 55 people in its 10 years of operation. No overall winner was named so each of the three firms honoured gets to share the spotlight. "The three Grand Prize Winners are outstanding examples of European innovation," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding, who awarded the prizes Tuesday evening in a ceremony at the Belgian Palace of the Academies. "Projects like these show that Europe has a strong growth potential and can substantially enhance its competitiveness by investing in information and communication technologies". If all this has sparked your enthusiasm, the deadline for entries to the 2005/6 IST competition is 12 May. As in 2004/5, the entries next year will be evaluated by independent experts from 18 countries nominated by Euro-CASE and agreed by the European Commission. More details, and full information on the winners and other nominees, can be found at www.ist-prize.org. ® 1 Using RFID chips, sensors and advanced printing technology to print a circuit on cardboard, Cypak has also developed disposable pharmaceutical packaging. This has initially been put to use in medical trial as a way to accurately record (and if necessary remind) subjects when to take medicine. Cypak wants to extend this idea to developing simple, disposable computers made of cardboard. This may or may not come off but makes this Swedish company well worth keeping an eye on. EC names IST prizewinners Torvalds wins Economic Innovation Award BCS names Excellence in IT shortlist France lifts MS Imagine Cup MS launches third annual Imagine Cup
John Leyden, 27 Apr 2005

Dutch plans for iPod tax could kill MP3 industry

A Netherlands proposed tax on MP3 players could devastate sales of hard disk players, and set up international waves over copyright legislation. The tax is being proposed by the Stichting Thuiskopie foundation, and is set to become law in the Netherlands in a few short months unless the European Commission finds a reason to intervene. It is unlikely that will happen, as it has failed to come up with a policy for levy taxation so far. The idea of all levy based legislation is that some form of copyright collections agency collects tax by imposing a surcharge at the point of sale for any storage devices that could possibly be used to store pirated works. This certainly extends to the iPod which has up to 60 GB of storage, and which can store MP3 files. Because of the fact that the great bulk of iPods are used to store legitimate iTunes files which are Digital Rights Management (DRM) protected, this means that copyright is being purchased twice over for these devices if a levy is also paid. The charge will be levied against every MP3 player, and is effectively a tax on the MP3 format. Some efforts to place MP3 files under DRM protection will also mean that these will pay copyright twice over. Levies are an outmoded and unfair way of rewarding existing monopolies and are only ever put in place to keep ancient publishing copyright agencies in business. In almost every case the organization itself that carries out the collection is lavish and well funded, the proceeds are distributed only to large multinational music publishers, bolstering their revenues unfairly. It is little more than a club of companies that "have a right" to make money. If this legislation comes into play, the surcharge will be as much as €3.28 ($4.3) per gigabyte. This might put €180 ($235) to the price of a top end iPod. Already in Germany there is a levy on PC hard drives, that will soon become larger than the entire PC industry revenue if it is left in place. Within two years, as disk drive sizes move to terabyte class on notebooks, and petabyte levels on home DVRs, the tax will come to far outweigh not just the cost of the drive, but the cost of the device. Under this Netherlands law, if it were extended to the PC, the cost of 1,000 GB would be €3,280 ($4,300) and yet drives of this size will be delivered by 2007. The only way to bypass this law in the Netherlands might be to tweak iPods and other players to only accept alternative formats that are always protected by DRM, but that would mean that only iPod (with AAC) and Sony devices (with ATRAC) could have any sales and we're not sure that would satisfy the new law as we don't yet know how it is going to be worded. Or the Dutch could just become a nation without iPods. I wonder how happy that would make them? Copyright © 2005, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories French court bans DVD DRM Phone DRM: the most expensive royalty operation ever You're going to be taxed for music and love it!
Faultline, 27 Apr 2005

Sony's trading platform could change character of gaming

It is the world's worst secret that online games like Sony's EverQuest which use the Massively Multiplayer role playing format, generate enough black market revenues to power a small country. Players find notice boards and discussion groups, and sell characters with advanced abilities, or weapons or their accumulated game wealth for real money. Students have boasted they can earn a few thousand dollars a month creating characters for resale, to put themselves through college. Now Sony Online Entertainment is finally not so much endorsing the practice (it's always known it was there) as cashing in on it, with something called the Station Exchange, an official auction site for Sony games. The site is scheduled for launch in late June and it will be the official and secure way for EverQuest and similar subscribers to buy and sell the rights to use characters, items and coin in a player-to-player auction setting. We're not sure that Sony has thought this through. It says that it wants to establish a standard for online games sales, and if that's the case it realizes that all of the future broadband games platform games, such as Playstation games, could also use such a platform. And that market may be worth billions of dollars, but for now it is only targeting the Massively Multiplayer games that run mostly on PCs, and use Sony servers. There's also no reason why Sony should only use it for PlayStation games or games that it owns, once the Exchange is well understood. Sony cites industry analyst group DFC Intelligence, which estimates the online game industry was worth $1.9bn during 2003 on its way to $9.8bn by 2009. The secondary market may already be as high as $800m, says DFC. Sony doesn't say whether it will make any money out of the sale, although we are sure it must get at least its expenses paid. Sony certainly says that it will not sell any of the items or characters, but that may only be for now. In the end games may be written where you can start from scratch or buy your way in at a higher level to save the early learning rounds. Seeding such an exchange with some prime characters might be just what the market wants. All transactions will happen through Station Exchange servers run by Sony, so fraud should be virtually eliminated. Fraud is reported to be rampant in chat rooms where transactions happen now. Sony has a subscriber base of 800,000 active EverQuest, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies and PlanetSide accounts around the globe. Copyright © 2005, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here. Related stories Gamers get greater access to pizza Property tycoon buys fantasy island Whatever happened to the EverQuest auction suit?
Faultline, 27 Apr 2005
channel

Web attacks soar

Web server attacks and website defacements rose 36 per cent last year, according to an independent report. zone-h, the Estonian security firm best known for its defacement archive, recorded 392,545 web attacks globally in 2004, up from 251,000 in 2003. Mass defacements (322,188) were by far the largest category in 2004. More targeted cyber graffiti attacks numbered 70,357. zone-h also recorded 186 attacks on US governmental servers out of 3,918 attacks on government domains worldwide. Separately the security consultancy recorded 49 assaults on US military servers. zone-h estimates that 2,500 web servers are successfully hacked each day out of a total population of 45m servers. Roberto Preatoni, founder of zone-h, told El Reg that PHP bugs and SQL injection attacks were the most common tricks used by hackers in order to access to vulnerable systems. In previous years, zone-h noted whether Windows or *nix systems were likely to be attacked. Preatoni said such comparisons have become pointless because 70 per cent of attacks are based on exploiting application vulnerabilities, which often exist across different OS platforms. Preatoni said the increased population of web servers was largely responsible for the rise in the number of attacks zone-h noted last year. The increased complexity of software plays an important but lesser role, he said. zone-h speculates the number of attacks will skyrocket once VoiP/3G phones become commonplace even though such devilish exploits are yet to be developed. Cyber activists carrying out hacks for political purposes and (more commonly) attention seekers are among those who deface websites. But gangs competing among themselves cause the most amount of damage. "Some have even developed automatic tools to notify us on the defacement so they don't have to bother," Preatoni said. ® Related stories Security Report: Windows vs Linux South Pole 'cyberterrorist' hack wasn't the first Net survives mass-defacement contest Related links zone-h’s study
John Leyden, 27 Apr 2005
channel

Microsoft and EC agree to disagree

The European Commission has told Microsoft to stop dragging its feet over complying with last year's anti-trust judgement. The Commission can fine Microsoft as much as five per cent of its daily turnover for every day it is not compliant with the judgement. In March last year the EC found Microsoft guilty of abusing its monopoly position and ordered it to pay a €497m fine, offer a version of Windows without Media Player and open up its software APIs to rival firms. Steve Ballmer met the new Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes on Tuesday but he was told his company has not done enough to satisfy the EC. An EC spokesman told the BBC: "Ms Kroes said that the Commission expects the decision adopted in March 2004 to be complied with urgently and in full, and she added that unless this was the case that the Commission would be obliged to take formal steps to ensure compliance." The Competition Commission is still not convinced that Microsoft's MediaPlayer-free version of its software is "technically up to standard" or that Microsoft has done enough to open up its server software to rival companies. A Microsoft spokesperson told the Reg: "This meeting was part of the ongoing, open and constructive dialogue between the company and the European Commission. "® Related stories Software group joins EC's MS crusade $5m daily fine beckons for bad boy Microsoft MS loses Europe appeal, will ship WMP-free Windows version
John Oates, 27 Apr 2005

Guardian pulls ricin terror debunk from website

A Guardian story on "The ricin ring that never was" has been pulled from the newspaper's website, for what are said to be 'legal reasons'. The story, by Duncan Campbell (the investigative writer, not the Guardian journalist of the same name), analysed the collapse of the UK's 'ricin conspiracy' trial, and reported Porton Down evidence that had made it clear that claims of mass poisoning attacks had no basis. Campbell's story, which is still widely available on the web (including here), covered similar territory to George Smith's pieces at GlobalSecurity.org (here and here). Campbell and Smith were both involved in the preparation of the defence case in the ricin trial, and what they and the Porton evidence had to say was essentially that ricin is a one-on-one poison, not a weapon of mass destruction; that Kamel Bourgass' efforts to manufacture it were amateurish and had left no sign of having been successful; and that the distribution of ricin by smearing it on car door handles was not feasible, because it is not absorbed through the skin. Experiments undertaken by Porton Down had made this clear at the trial (subtext: no ricin terror campaign), but these tests did no more than support the generally known facts about ricin. The Guardian has not yet responded to a Register request for an explanation for the story's removal, but The Insider reports that it was told the article was "removed from the archive for legal reasons", and that a further request for clarification received the response: "The article was not removed because of any inaccuracy. It was to do with a PII certicate [sic] protecting the identity of Porton Down [government weapons laboratory] experts who appeared as witnesses in the trial." Campbell's piece had named a Porton scientist who had given evidence, but the names of Porton Down scientists are not a state secret. Or they weren't, anyway. A Public Interest Immunity Certificate is a relatively seldom-used legal mechanism for placing restrictions on evidence. According to the Crown Prosecution Service "the government now considers that where government documents or information are material to legal proceedings, PII will only arise if disclosure could cause real damage to a genuine public interest." If a PII did constitute the "legal reasons" it's difficult to see where the public interest in the action lies. The removal of the article does however mean that one of the very few correctives to widespread 'UK 911 poison terror scare' hysteria no longer exists in the mainstream press. Au contraire; the weekend after the end of the trial and the publication of the evidence, the Sunday Telegraph reported that we were/are faced with "chaos and panic in London's public transport system", and our security forces narrowly averted "our September 11, our Madrid. There is no doubt about it, if this had come off this would have been one of al-Qa'eda's biggest strikes", a "senior officer at Scotland Yard" told the paper. Having observed the trial and - one presumes - read and digested the Porton evidence the "senior officer at Scotland Yard" should surely have grasped that smearing ricin on the handles of the Heathrow Express was a complete non-starter. Security forces' 'discovery' of a 'map' of the train's route is meanwhile baffling; the train is non-stop, so either you're in it smearing away or you're not. But perhaps the terrorists intended to fling gobs of it at ventilation intakes as the train whistled by. As for those tests showing there was no chance of mass poisoning, Porton Down took ten grams of castor beans, ground them down and rinsed them with acetone in accordance with the Bourgass recipe found at the flat, then tested the result for toxicity in a cell culture assay (more details at GlobalSecurity.org). It found that the process had destroyed 90 per cent of the ricin contained in the beans. The Bourgass recipe called for five grams of beans; Porton concluded this would produce sufficient ricin to kill if injected, but would only be likely to cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain if eaten. According to claims made by Mohammed Meguerba, the informant currently detained by Algerian security, Bourgass intended to deliver the poison by smearing it on car door handles, while the Sunday Telegraph's latest version upgrades this to "hand rails and lavatories" on the Heathrow Express. Porton documents produced for the trial however state: "There is no reliable scientific evidence available... that suggests that ricin toxin can be absorbed across intact skin" and: "There is no evidence... that by dissolving the ricin toxin in the solvent DMSO (dimethyl sulphoxide) or lemon juice, this would produce a contact hazard." In summary, according to the Government's own research scientists ricin is ineffective as a poison that could be absorbed through the skin, not massively effective taken by mouth, but can have a lethal effect if injected, as happened in the case of Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian dissident assassinated in 1978. Whatever Bourgass may have believed, there is absolutely no justification for any security or government source to be claiming there was or is a danger of a 'British 911' from his direction. But a British PII? That's possibly another matter. ® Related stories: Clarke calls for ID cards after imagining huge poison terror ring Smile: you're under global surveillance Not as guilty as he looks? The Met chief, Labour and ID cards
John Lettice, 27 Apr 2005

Claranet rejects 'cold feet' claims over VIA deal

UK ISP Claranet has dismissed speculation that its bid to acquire cash-strapped VIA NET.WORKS "looks set to hit the rocks". Striking workers at VIA's Amen web hosting subsidiary issued a statement yesterday claiming that, according to their sources, "it seems Claranet have gotten cold feet" and that the deal "looks set to hit the rocks". Workers backed up their claim by saying that a deadline for Claranet to acquire VIA has been and gone without any agreement. Had Claranet wrapped up the deal by 23 April then it would have won a €500,000 discount on the purchase price. However, Claranet has rejected the claims insisting that the deal is still on. A senior spokesman at the UK ISP told The Register: "The deal is absolutely going ahead and we expect to sign shortly." Two weeks ago VIA - the business-focused telco in Europe and the US which faced an "urgent liquidity problem" - announced it had agreed to be rescued by Claranet for $27m. As part of the deal, Claranet coughed up a $3m deposit for exclusive negotiation rights with VIA until 30 April. The rescue deal angered workers at VIA's web hosting subsidiary, Amen, prompting them to walk out in protest. Although VIA has drafted in workers to cover the industrial action, a backlog of customer support issues is building. ® Related stories Backlog builds as Amen strike bites Amenworld workers strike over proposed VIA sale Claranet to buy VIA NET.WORKS
Tim Richardson, 27 Apr 2005

Spider attack chef saved by mobile phone snap

A Somerset chef who was bitten twice by a highly-venemous Brazilian spider was saved thanks to a snap he took of the beast on his mobile phone, the Times reports. Matthew Stevens, 23, disturbed the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria fera) which had stowed away in a crate of bananas and found its way to the Quantock Gateway pub in Bridgwater. The highly-aggressive arachnid - rated among the world's most poisonous - then apparently legged it and took cover under a dishcloth. Stevens takes up the story: "It was hiding in a cloth and when I squeezed the cloth it bit me. It was about as big as the palm of my hand. I went to try and pick it up and it bit me again. It landed in the freezer, which stunned it." Unaware that he had just been savaged by a monster which carries enough venom to dispatch 225 mice to the hereafter, Stevens then grabbed a quick pic on his mobe as a keepsake of the encounter. However, he was soon on his way to the local community hospital after his hand swelled "to the size of a balloon" and he began to suffer dizziness. Hospital staff had a shufti and sent Stevens on his way with a quick "go home and keep an eye on it". Soon after arriving, he collapsed, prompting his partner, Cara McSweeney, to call an ambulance which whisked the rapidly deteriorating chef to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton. Doctors put Stevens on a saline drip, but his condition continued to worsen. He recalled: "I thought I wasn’t going to make it. My chest was so tight I could hardly breathe. My blood pressure was going through the roof and my heart was beating so hard I could feel it hitting my chest. The doctors didn’t know what type of spider it was, but I’d got a picture of it on my phone and they sent it to Bristol Zoo to identify it." Stevens was discharged the next day after docs flushed the toxins out of his system with increased saline. Defra inspectors later found the spider in a state of "suspended animation" in the fridge. The Times notes that the Wandering Spider killed 14 people in Brazil between 1926 and 1996, although no-one has died since thanks to the successful development of an antidote. ® Bootnote The Guinness Book of Records lists the Brazilian Wandering Spider as the planet's most poisonous (venomous), although a quick trawl of the, ahem, web reveals that many pundits mark the highly unpleasant Sydney Funnel Web Spider for that particular accolade - possibly as a result of its extremely obstreperous attitude and fangs which are capable of biting through your fingernail. Nasty. Related stories Spiders inspire eight-legged Post-it notes Charlotte Church topless pic busts onto mobes Cop 'downloaded nude snaps' from suspect's mobile phone
Lester Haines, 27 Apr 2005

Revamped Real music service aims at Napster

RealNetworks announced its anwer to Napster To Go yesterday, but with the twist that it plans to give away songs in exchange for advertising. The new incarnation of Rhapsody, Real's music download and subscription service, will provide punters with 25 songs a month free of charge. The catch - a business model not dissimilar from the original Napster's approach - is that the 'Rhapsody 25' version of Real's jukebox software is funded by advertising from Chrysler, Google and others, so there's an added inconvenience. Ironically, this free-songs-for-advertising is not so far from the way P2P pioneer Napster 1 worked, though of course back then none of the revenue received from advertisers made its way back to the artists whose songs were being shared. Real even went so far yesterday as to talk about music sharing, though of course Napster 2 has been saying the same thing since its launch. The original Rhapsody subscription service is now called 'Rhapsody Unlimited', and will continue to offer unlimited downloads for a monthly fee of $10, along with ten per cent off any one-off downloads they make, necessary if they're to burn the songs to CD or copy them to a portable music player - or because the tracks aren't licensed for sale by subscription. Alongside Rhapsody Unlimited, Real launched 'Rhapsody To Go', which makes use of Microsoft's latest DRM technology, 'Janus', to allow users to copy downloaded tracks to compatible portable music players as part of the subscription package, which costs $15 a month. Real was able to name just two compatible players: iRiver's H10 and Creative's Zen Micro. Most Windows Media Audio-compatible music players do not support Windows' latest DRM technology. The new service's naming and pricing pitch the company against Napster, which Real clearly sees as its chief rival. Not that it's forgotten the market leader, Apple, and company executives said this week that its Harmony DRM translation system is once again compatible with all of Apple's iPods. Expect a firmware update from the Mac maker any day now to disable it again, though it's not like Harmony is exactly herding iPod users from iTunes to Rhapsody, so far as we can tell. What all this will do for Real's finances remains to be seen. Certainly it hopes the advertising will cover the cost of giving away the free downloads - essentially by subsidising each 25-song-a-month subscription. If not, at least quite a few users may be persuaded into signing up for one or other of the premium packages. Sign up for Rhapsody To Go for a year - cost to you $180 - and buy an H10, and Real will send you $100. So it's already eating into its revenue. And how well punters put up with the 'do you want upgrade?' nagware over time is also uncertain. All three services are available to US consumers only. ® Related stories Napster users sharing passwords to save cash Congress moots mandatory DRM scheme Real sees revenues up, losses narrow Apple music store smacked with antitrust suit Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony Real '49c a song' promo pushes downloads to 3m Real anti-Apple poll swamped by pro-Apple posters Real halves music prices, widens loss Real to 'free' iPod from iTunes Music Store
Tony Smith, 27 Apr 2005

Nokia takes wraps off N Series phones

The Register may cover everything most sane people would ever want to know about technology, but for certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the rest: Nokia takes wraps off N Series phones including its 'iPod killer' Nokia today launched its first new series of phones in years. Aimed squarely the top-end gadget-loving/business user market, all handsets in the new N Series will sport music playing facilities, feature at least a two mega pixel camera and come with web browsing facilities, quite possibly from ace Norwegian company Opera. They will all be 3G compatible and run using the Series 60 Symbian-based interface. If the first three phones, the N70, N90 and N91 (pictured), are anything to go by they will also combine traditional Nokia designs with rather classy components. Next year N Series phones will almost certainly also be kited out with digital TV tuners. First to market is the N90, a classy 3G camera phone, which is slated for a summer launch. It will be followed later in the year by the N70 and N91. Read more about the phones on their individual posts. Nokia N70 3G phone It might be the least exciting of the trio of phones Nokia has unveiled today but that's only because the other two boast such innovative features. The N70 is in fact a good all round 3G/Edge handset in a small fairly smart upright style. It boast all the N Series core features, so is kitted out with music playing facilities, a two mega pixel camera with a 20x digital zoom and web browsing facilities. Running on Nokia's Series 60 platform it supports email, can open many file types and comes with an FM radio on board. It has two cameras so it can deliver 3G video calling, features an integrated speaker and has Bluetooth connectivity. The only fly in the ointment is that it uses the rather pesky cut down MMC card, which the last time we looked was only available up to a pathetic 64MB. Nokia N90 - camera phone with Carl Zeiss optics After seeing rivals Sony and Ericsson and Sharp steal a march in the camera phone market the N90 is Nokia's attempt to grab the high-end back. Its headline facility has to be its integrated two mega pixel camera which features apparently Carl Zeiss optics - a first for a Nokia phone. The handset itself is clamshell style with a rotating head like other Nokia and Sharp phones. Nokia has stacked the phone out with many photographic features so the N90 boasts a macro option, an autofocus, flash and a 20x digital zoom. The phone also grabs video too in MPEG4 and 3GP formats and has an 8x digital zoom. There's a second camera too so the phone can be used for person to person video calling. The 3G/Edge handset also features MP3 and AAC music players and has good quality speakers. It runs on Nokia's Series 60 platform and boasts a whole host of 'prosumer' facilities including email with attachments and a full HTML web browser. Battery life is up to 10 days in standby and 4.5hours talk time. It goes on sale in the summer. Nokia's N91 four gig hard disk music phone At a press conference last year Nokia acknowledged that it was working on a hard disk based music phone and here it is - the N91. Probably the most eagerly awaited of all the new Nokia N series handsets, the N91 trounces rival music phones not just in storage (it has a 4 Gigabyte hard disk on board) but also in terms of looks thanks to its elegant chocolate bar style design with music playing buttons that pull down to reveal the numeric keypad. The N91 boasts MP3 and AAC (though it isn't compatible with songs downloaded from the iTunes music store) playback, has a remote control in its accompanying earphones and features an FM tuner. Unlike any other phone it sports a 3.5mm headphone jack, so users can team up the handset with some seriously large cans if they fancy. Battery life is reasonable with the phone running for 12.5 hours as a music player, though this way short of the 30 hours offered by the Sony Ericsson W800. It is 7 hours standby and 3-4 hours talk time. The hard disk is also shock proof, Nokia staff have apparently been throwing them around to test this, and the company is saying that users can store up to 3000 tunes on the hard disk. The N91 will also play back AAC Plus files, which are used by European networks as over the air music downloads, and also has an audio out so you can hook it up to external speakers etc. The phone has loads of other facilities including a two mega pixel camera, web browser (made by Norwegians Opera? Nokia isn't saying), email, and, unusually for a phone of this size, integrated Wi-Fi. It runs the Series 60 interface and is compatible with both 3G and EDGE networks. From the spec sheet it looks like like Nokia has taken the music phone to the next dimension. Whether people start ditching their iPods and Walkmans in favour of their mobile though remains to be seen. Loads more of this stuff at Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny.
Tech Digest, 27 Apr 2005

PalmOne launches Treo 650 in UK

PalmOne has formally launched its latest smart phone in the UK, more than six months after the device's US debut and two months later than planned over here. The Treo 650 was to have shipped in the UK in Q1, according to comments made by company CEO Ed Colligan at the time of the US launch. Then, come February 2005, PalmOne UK announced network operator Orange had agreed to take the 650, but said the debut would not come until Q2. Anyway, the 650 is here now, with its higher-resolution 320 x 320, 65,000-colour screen, Bluetooth, removeable battery, 312MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor, 32MB of Flash memory (21MB available to the user), Palm OS 5.4 'Garnet', enhanced VGA digicam, and all the other improvements over the older Treo 600. There's still no support for PalmOne's Wi-Fi card, though comments made by senior PalmOne UK staff implied drivers would be made available at the handheld's launch. That was today, of course, but as yet no drivers have been posted on the Treo 650 support site so far as we can see. Then again, they also said the handheld would not support PalmOne's Wi-Fi card, so your guess is as good as ours. And theirs, it seems. They certainly couldn't give a good reason why the drivers can't be released. Meanwhile, the 650 has quad-band GSM/GPRS connectivity for voice and data. The handset's VersaMail email application now supports a single Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 ActiveSync account, along with a heap of IMAP and POP accounts. The UK 650 is pre-loaded with server settings for dozens of local ISPs and other email providers, some on the 650 itself, others on a bundled CD. Orange's own-branded version of the 650 will feature push-to-talk walkie-talkie functionality, along with extra software. Pricing was not announced. ® Buy the PalmOne Treo 650 today from The Register mobile store Related stories PalmOne Treo 650 Euro debut delayed to Q2 PalmOne Q2 sales soar Treo 650 delayed till February PalmOne launches Treo 650
Tony Smith, 27 Apr 2005

BT puts footy online

BT is teaming up with Sportfive to stream video footage of the remaining World Cup qualifiers over the internet. Games which are not televised will be streamed instead. Users can choose a 250k or 500k stream for €9.95. Or you can download the game to keep for €6.95. Sportfive is a sports rights agency which claims to own the rights for the largest selection of European qualifying games. It is owned by RTL Group, Advent International and Goldman Sachs. The games will be available at www.qualifiers2006.com and promoted on affiliate sites. BT is also streaming the final of the Scottish Rugby premiership live from Murrayfield on Saturday. David Parry-Jones, sales director for BT Rich Media, told the Reg: "Sportfive owns about 70 per cent of the rights for European Football Associations. For areas where the games are not being broadcast they have the right to show games online. We are concentrating on ex-pat communities such as Europeans living in the US." ® Related stories Tech ad complaints fall BT gets the Bluephone blues Smug BT crows about broadband numbers
John Oates, 27 Apr 2005
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Apple takes desktop G5 line to 2.7GHz

Apple updated its Power Mac G5 line-up today, though the four machines' new specs were made public a day ahead of time by Amazon.com. It also knocked up to 21 per cent off the prices of select Cinema Displays. As expected the new line-up takes the dual-processor tower systems to 2.7GHz, with each chip running across a 1.35GHz frontside bus and sporting 512KB of L2 cache. Other two-way machines are clocked at 2.3GHz and 2GHz, with 1.15GHz and 1GHz FSBs, respectively. All three dualies ship with a base 512MB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM, expandable to 8GB on the top two machines, and 4GB on the 2GHz model. The 2.7 and 2.3GHz Macs each ship with a 250GB Serial ATA hard drives and three PCI-X slots. The 2GHz machine has a 160GB unit and three vanilla PCI slots. The lower specced machines ship with a 128MB ATI Radeon 9600 graphics card; the 2.7GHz version with a 256MB ATI Radeon 9650. All three ship with a dual-layer DVD-R/CD-RW 'SuperDrive', with a DVD-R speed of 16x. Apple is also offering a 1.8GHz single-CPU system, with 256MB of DDR 400, an 80GB Serial ATA drive, three PCI slots, an 8x single-layer DVD-R drive and with a 64MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics card. The low-end G5 ships for £999/$1499. The 2GHz, 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz dual-processor boxes cost £1349/$1999, £1699/$2499 and £1999/$2999, respectively. UK prices include VAT. Apple said they will all ship this week, with Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' pre-installed. The 2.7GHz G5 is capable of driving Apple's 2560 x 1600 30in Cinema HD display, priced at £2099/$2999. Apple today cut the prices of the 1680 x 1050 20in and 1920 x 1200 23in models to £549/$749 and £1049/$1499, respectively, savings of 21.5 per cent and 16 per cent. ® Related stories Newspaper shows Mac OS X running on Intel box Apple's Big Virus Apple posts Mac OS X 10.3.9 Apple financials rude with health Apple: Mac OS X 10.4 to ship 29 April Apple signs 'widescreen iBook' contract
Tony Smith, 27 Apr 2005

Yahoo! search gets personal

Yahoo is offering a beta version of its personal search engine, branded My Web. It updates Yahoo Search which launched late last year. The search engine will remember what you have previously searched for, allow you to store previous search results, annotate those results and send them on to other people. Users can save a copy of any web page and they can add their own notes to it. The search will integrate into Yahoo blog tools so users will be able to make pages public too. Julian Smith, online advertising analyst at Jupiter, said: "It's a nice step to a more personalised search. It will stop people leaving Yahoo to go to Google and so lower churn. It's got a nice community feel to it and we'll see more from search providers looking to win hearts and minds of their consumers." Smith said it was disappointing the service does not link to Yahoo's desktop search yet. Yahoo is also trumpeting its open APIs to encourage rapid development of new products using the service. See what you can find with the search engine here.® Related stories Yahoo! hands over dead man's email Yahoo! does a Google Yahoo! rebrands! Overture! You can't move for desktop searches out there
John Oates, 27 Apr 2005
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IT contractors cash in on earnings growth

IT contractors in the UK saw their earnings jump ten per cent last year following greater demand for their services. Thanks to an increase in spending from the public sector, as well as companies spending more on their IT projects, it seem IT workers are quids in, according to a survey of one thousand contractors by accountants JSA Services. It found that the average annualised contract value is now £56,540 compared with £49,882 a year ago, and that the average contract length has increased from 99 days to 109 days. JSA services chief exec Barry Roback reckons the increase is down to a growth in spending on IT by large companies following the Y2K slump, and a rapid increase in public spending in the last two years. "After the Millennium, many IT projects were put on hold," said Roback. "However, large companies could not afford to hold back on development for very long. Once one started to invest, the others had to restart their projects too, in case they lost their competitive edge." While rates for contractors now appear to be on the up, Roback warns that double-digit may not be sustainable. He reckons that the "public spending bonanza" is likely to tail off after the General Election and that new EU legislation could make it harder for contractors to secure long-term contracts. "It would be complacent to think that the future for IT contractors is entirely rosy, but there is no doubt that good times have returned, at least in the short-term," he said. ® Related stories UK tech jobs jump in Q4 IT contractors dream of fat futures Public sector snaps up IT pros Freelancers fret over tangle of EU red tape
Tim Richardson, 27 Apr 2005
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Veritas preps secret weapon to ease licensing horror

Veritas VisionVeritas Vision The licensing "nightmare" faced by some Veritas customers may lessened in the near future thanks to a new service and product pairing, The Register can exclusively reveal. Earlier this week at the Veritas Vision conference, Veritas CEO Gary Bloom faced off against a user base furious over software licensing issues. One customer publicly chastised Bloom during a question and answer session for making it so hard to keep track of Veritas software in a data center. Veritas is in the enviable position of having customers that own many of its products, but those customers are desperate for a tool that makes sure they are meeting legal, management and budget requirements with the software. Instead of delivering a concrete plan to help customers, Bloom sidestepped these licensing questions. "All I can give you today details-wise is a commitment to improve," Bloom said. Another Veritas executive was more forthcoming - albeit just a teeny bit more - during an interview with The Register. Mike Speiser, a vice president at Veritas, mentioned an upcoming product and services combination named Veritas License Manager but declined to provide too much detail about it at this time. "What has become very clear is that customers have issues working through cataloging the software," he said. "Frankly, it's hard to know what Veritas products you have deployed." "We are working on technology to make it easier for customers to find what they have deployed," he said, refusing to budge on any other details. When will Veritas License Manager arrive? What exactly will it look like? Who knows. The company has declined to provide many specifics. One source, however, did suggest that it will likely ship in the next of couple of years - a timeframe so loose that users will clearly have to be patient. Today, Veritas file system and volume manager customers already have a license manager utility (# /sbin/vxlicrep) that reports on the given Veritas software installed on a system, including information such as the product name, license type, OEM ID and CPU count. Veritas is likely working on a fancier version of this tool that would stretch across all its software product lines and present licensing information via a nice GUI. Ideally, the Veritas License Manager would also be able to search all the systems in a network and report back on the whole shebang instead of doing individual system reports. In addition, Veritas will likely offer a type of service that helps customers consolidate down the number of licenses they currently have. Some savvy Veritas users out there might be able to tell us the ins and outs of their licensing problems today and how they'd like Veritas to solve these issues. ® Related stories Veritas goes hetero with new NetBackup Veritas CEO stays silent on Symantec dreams Can compliance-challenged Veritas sell compliance?
Ashlee Vance, 27 Apr 2005
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Dell cuddles up to EMC's NAS gateway

The Dell and EMC love-in took a mushier turn this week as Dell agreed to resell an EMC network attached storage (NAS) gateway system. Dell will start shipping the NS500G box to customers later this year. The system sits at the low-end of EMC's NAS gateway line and fits in well with Dell's existing networked storage gear. Dell already sells a wide range of EMC's Clariion storage systems. "The Dell/EMC NS500G builds on the success of the Dell/EMC partnership and extends our storage portfolio to include enterprise-class NAS," said Darren Thomas, a vice president at Dell. Dell and EMC have been the tightest of storage allies over the past two years. The two companies are clearly extending their alliance in a bid to compete better against Network Appliance. Meanwhile, NetApp has been busy buddying up with IBM on a similar reselling agreement and forming closer software ties with Veritas to go up more effectively against EMC. The NS500G system is designed to sit in front of SANs (storage area networks) and feed information back to a wide range of systems. There's an element of dullness to the deal in that Dell has already been selling this EMC box to customers who ask for it. Now, Dell just plans to stick its blue label on the kit. "We believe that later this year Dell may start selling the NS500 (a complete solution, not just a gateway) version as well," Merrill Lynch said in a note on the agreement. ® Related stories India, China poised to feast on US IT complacency The dual-core x86 server era begins thanks to AMD Nicer bosses retain more (female) staff
Ashlee Vance, 27 Apr 2005