28th > April > 2005 Archive

channel

Intel wants to mobilise the channel

ISSISS Intel has announced a new "Mobile Growth Initiative" in a bid to persuade its channel partners that selling mobile technology is the way forward. Anand Chandrasekher, vice president and director of Intel's sales and marketing group, unveiled the program to a crowd of around 600 distributors and resellers from across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and South America, at the ISS conference in Dublin. Chandrasekher said that the mobile sector is driving a fundamental shift in focus. He argued that the industry has reached the end of the MHz era and that the days of a new speed bump every quarter are gone. The new mantra is not mere performance, but price, and performance per Watt. Intel's mantra for the conference has certainly been about the opportunity for resellers in the mobile space. The programme was developed in response to channel demand, Intel said, for a "PC-like ecosystem for laptops". The aim is to enable common building blocks - hard drives, optical drives and LCD screens, for example, that can be interchangeable, standard across the industry. Intel said this should make it easier for the channel to build to local preferences, adding value at the platform level without having to worry about technology issues of dealing with any one particular supplier. It would also mean less stock would need to kept in warehouses, lowering costs. The initiative will also involve better technical support for the channel, from Intel. Regions will have their own super-support people they can call on with questions. Lastly Intel has promised more differentiated marketing propositions. When it launched Centrino back in 2003, there were only three configurations, which Intel now acknowledges probably made it hard for resellers to offer a unique proposition to their customers. However, when Sonoma launched, it had 25 schemes, and Intel promises Napa will have even more than Sonoma. "This will be much better for resellers to be able to configure their own brand," said Jim Noble, responsible for mobility in the Intel channel. "It really makes notebooks a huge opportunity for the channel". ® Related stories ATI top-end GPUs to win back 'channel leadership' Boston jumps on Opteron bandwagon ATI to update AMD, Intel chipsets 'in June'
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Apr 2005
graph up

Chips, Chris Barrie and land-speed records

ISSISS Chris Barrie fans will no doubt be amused to learn that the press room at this year's Intel Solutions Summit is housed in the Brittas Suite, which in its turn, is located in the Leisure centre. A coincidence altogether too marvelous not to be remarked upon. ISS is an annual get-together for Intel's favourite and most shiny (profitable) channel partners, where Intel outlines its plans for the next year, and the channel partners get to tell Intel what works, and what doesn't. Your Vulture Central representative is here to cover the keynote speeches, talk to some of the execs, and find out what is new and exciting in the world of chips and their various routes to market. But before we do that , we get to wander around Intel's Fab. Will we get to wear bunny suits, we wonder... After registering in the Brittas Empire...sorry Suite...the collection of European press is gathered up and bussed to Intel's Leixlip base. Here we are given a tour of Fab 24 - the only Fab outside the US making 300mm wafers, as we are glowingly told by every single Intel employee we encounter. We begin to suspect that this is either a source of genuine pride or that someone left an open bottle of solvents next to one of the air conditioners. On the tour we are given a crash course in the life of a silicon wafer. As we learn about he various tortures it is put through, we see some of the vastly expensive machines (around $50m a pop, some of this lithography kit) that do almost inexplicable things to silicon, so that it can do almost inexplicable things inside computers. "What does one of those go for these days?" asked one of the journalists, indicating a finished 300mm wafer. "About a million Euro," comes the reply from the less-than-over briefed Intel chap. Our "tour manager" does his best to downplay this remark, reminding us that it does depend on what is on the wafer. The hacks go into a huddle and immediately plot a smash and grab: "You strip and we'll grab the wafers" says one of the hacks to his colleague. We are foiled by our unwillingness to create this surely terrifying diversion, and troop along to the next window which is covered in dire warnings about a dirty corridor. These Intel types have obviously not been to Soho recently. Anyway, tour over, we head back to the conference centre. Next on the menu is Lunch, followed by keynote speeches from Anand Chandrasekher and Bill (Desktop) Siu. Sandwiched between the two, there is a surprise motivational speaker: Richard Noble, the man who drove Thrust 2, and was behind the Thrust Super Sonic Car (SSC). He'd been drafted in to explain that small companies can outwit bigger companies - as with his 15-man team on the Thrust SSC project that beat off the bigger teams to take the land speed record, and to go supersonic. An inspirational message for channel players, especially for those yet to buy their first Boxster. The excitement of the Thrust 2 land speed record, digging stones out of the Jordanian desert to test the SSC, the eeriness of a car powering towards a camera in absolute silence, followed by the vastly loud sound of the supersonic boom. The thrill of a Brit grabbing a world-first (See, we're almost channeling Mr. Brittas now). Jolly hockey sticks and ginger beer all round. It is all too much, and we find ourselves applauding like everyone else at the end of his presentation. Once we have recovered we over hear one deeply cynical delegate say to another: "Just as well Chandrasekher didn't have to follow that. From the supersonic car to the excitement of multicore processors...That'd be a hard sell." Quite. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 28 Apr 2005
channel

Firefox doubles market share as IE slips

As Microsoft unveiled details of a "more secure" desktop operating system this week, news emerged that the company's browser is losing business users because of - among other things - security. A survey of 168,000 surfers hitting business web sites has found Internet Explorer has lost nearly two percentage points of market share. IE's open source nemesis Firefox, meanwhile, doubled its presence. Janco Associates found IE had 83.7 per cent of the market for this month, down from 84.85 per cent, while Firefox grew from 4.23 per cent to 10.28 per cent. Janco believes Firefox could take 25 per cent market share in the next quarter. Separately, Infocraft reported the browser is approaching nearly 50m downloads, up from February's milestone figure of 25m, which was recorded 99 days after Firefox 1.0 became available last November. Janco's chief executive, Victor Janulaitis, said, "There's a lot of people who say: 'I'm tired of Microsoft. The one thing that has gotten us, is Microsoft knows about security defects, but it takes a long time to get it fixed'." According to vulnerability monitoring service Secunia, 19 out of an estimated 80 security advisories for IE 6.x currently remain "unpatched" compared to four from a total of 15 Firefox 1.x advisories. Secunia says warnings for IE range into the category "highly critical" while outstanding Firefox alerts are "less critical". Janulaitis cautioned that Firefox's reputation for security would likely be eroded as the browser becomes more widely used and hackers increase their attacks. ® Related stories Unholy trio menace Firefox Browser bugs sprout eternal IE7 details leak onto web
Gavin Clarke, 28 Apr 2005
cloud

Microsoft's Metro takes on Adobe

To the list of companies who overnight find themselves competing with Microsoft, you can add one more name: Adobe. Microsoft Longhorn operating system will now include a graphics feature called Metro that allows documents to be displayed and created across platforms. Sound familiar? Only Microsoft's tool seems designed to bridge the gap that exists between displaying the same unaltered document on PCs and mobile devices, as the XML-based Metro will display documents via Internet Explorer. That's a gap Adobe also appears ready to close through its $4.3bn acquisition of Macromedia, announced last week. Ovum senior analyst Bola Rotibi believes one outcome of Adobe's decision to buy Macromedia could be to make Adobe's PDF available on mobile devices. Metro, though, raises the stakes against Adobe and sends a message Microsoft is pitching Longhorn as a platform that serves the needs of "pervasive computing" - a term loosely defined as rich-client access to data from any desktop or mobile device using a variety of interfaces. Apparently recognizing that potential, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, said of Metro at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC): "You can create these documents on any platform and consume them on any device of your choosing." Microsoft is taking the added step of releasing the draft Metro specification on a Royalty Free (RF) basis. A RF license is a great way to seed the market, because it encourages early uptake by developers looking out for new APIs without fear of patent or license fee concerns. If a Gates' WinHEC demonstration of Metro is to be believed, users saving Microsoft Office applications and digital photos will automatically generate Metro documents with their files. These Metro files can then either be distributed to other users or sent for printing. Metro is apparently built on top of Longhorn's XML-based Avalon interface. Gates demonstrated a Metro document being printed using a Xerox printer featuring a Metro engine. Gates claimed the set-up could print between 40 per cent and 70 per cent faster than a conventional printer while retaining a high-quality feel to graphics. In related Longhorn news, Microsoft outlined the operating system's hardware requirements. Microsoft is recommending a "modern" CPU, 512Mb or RAM and Longhorn display driver capable graphics. Microsoft did not share details on what it defined as "modern". From experience, though, such recommendations are normally a basic minimum. Gates also announced general availability of the 64-bit editions of Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003.® Related stories Microsoft reveals hardware security plans 64 bit Windows ready to go Adobe and Macromedia: bad news for online tools
Gavin Clarke, 28 Apr 2005

Siemens to spin off loss-making phone unit

Siemens' troubled mobile phone business once again pulled down the group's quarterly income, making it "difficult to assess" the group's anticipated FY2005 income gain, CEO Klaus Kleinfeld admitted yesterday. The upshot: the handset unit will be formed into a separate operation, the better to sell or float it off. Reporting group financial performance for the three months to 31 March 2005, Siemens' second quarter, the company said its net income fell to €781m ($1bn) from €1.21bn ($1.6bn) a year ago, a fall of 35.5 per cent. Sales, by contrast, rose 4.3 per cent year on year to €18.6bn ($24.1bn). The mobile phone division lost €138m ($178.5m) during the quarter on the back of a 30 per cent year-on-year fall in sales, to €842m ($1.1bn). Siemens' communications products group, of which the handset unit is a part, lost €19m ($24.6m) as a whole. Kleinfeld said he will restructure the handset unit as a separate business, declaring he is "positive" he will find partners - buyers, in other words - for the unit. If he finds one, Siemens is "unlikely" to retain a majority share in the operation, Siemens' CFO, Heinz-Joachim Neubuerger, said. The restructure will take place in one to three months' time, Neubuerger added. Mobile phone sales are slowing around the world, a trend that's hitting Siemens particularly hard. Between Q1 2005 and Q1 2004, the company lost 2.8 percentage points of market share, to 5.4 per cent, according to Strategy Analytics numbers released yesterday. All other major vendors raised their market shares year on year. Siemens' phone unit has been the subject of sale speculation since late last year, though rumoured acquisition/merger partners, from China's Ningbo Bird to South Korea's LG, have subsequently stated they have no interest in the loss-making German business. Earlier this year, Kleinfeld, who took over the CEO's post in January, said he was considering either a sale or a spin-off of the mobile phone unit. Then, in March, the group said its strategy was to cut costs at the unit to bring it back to profitability. ® Related stories World mobile phone sales slow Smart phones boom - Symbian up, MS and Palm down Smart phones make inroads in business Siemens to cut phone biz costs by 1bn Siemens outsources IT - to itself Siemens readies digital TV, VoIP Wi-Fi handsets Siemens delays decision on handset biz fate LG rejects interest in Siemens mobile biz
Tony Smith, 28 Apr 2005

Pipex snaps up web host outfit

Pipex has shelled out £5.9m to acquire web host outfit Donhost Ltd as it looks to beef up its hosting operation. As part of the deal Pipex will be adding 92,000 customers and 120,000 domain names to its business - bringing the total number of domain name registrations for Pipex to more than one million. None of the eight jobs at the Doncaster-based internet business are under threat as part of the acquisition, with Donhost's staff continuing to run and look after punters. Boss Daniel Conlon will also remain with Pipex. Unaudited accounts for Donhost during 2004 reveal that that company generated revenue of £1.3m last year with pre-tax profits of £707,000. Last year Pipex acquired another web hosting operation - Host Europe - for £31.2m and also snapped up broadband outfit Nildram. Speaking today Pipex chairman Peter Dubens said: "Having completed the integration of Host Europe and Nildram over the last eight months, we are now well placed to further strengthen the hosting part of our portfolio with the acquisition of Donhost." ® Related stories Pipex reports magic year Nildram moves to head-off broadband hogs Pipex acquires Host Europe for £31m
Tim Richardson, 28 Apr 2005

Exploding toads baffle Germans

UpdatedUpdated German toad experts are baffled by an acute outbreak of exploding toad syndrome which has totalled hundreds of the amphibians since the beginning of the month. The former inhabitants of a Hamburg pond - now chillingly renamed the "pond of death" - spontaneously swelled to enormous proportions before going bang, in the process propelling their entrails for up to a metre. Hamburg nature protection society spokesman, Werner Smolnik, told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily: "It looks like a scene from a science-fiction movie. The bloated animals suffer for several minutes before they finally die." Janne Kloepper, a boffin at Hamburg-based Institute for Hygiene and the Environment, added: "It's absolutely strange. We have a really unique story here in Hamburg. This phenomenon really doesn't seem to have appeared anywhere before." She added that lab tests have ruled out a bacteriological or viral cause of the explosions, and have further shown the pond water to be normal. Tests for another possible agent - a fungus accidently introduced from South America* - have also proved negative. The authorities have moved swiftly to protect the public from the exploding toad menace. The pond is now closed and a biologist is on station every night between 2 and 3am, when toad explosions reach a peak. In Australia, meanwhile, we're certain that toadologists are awaiting with eager anticipation the identification of the cause of the exploding German toad. Oz currently hosts 100 million unwelcome cane toads and there's nothing the Aussies would like more than to see a landscape littered with the corpses of eviscerated, exploded toads. ® Update Mystery solved. We're obliged to those readers who sent us the breathless news that today's Der Spiegel says crows have been fingered as the culprits. Apparently the crow pecks a small hole in the toad to get at the liver. The toad begins to inflate itself - its normal defence mechanism - but because there is no separation between lung cavity and abdomen, the poor blighter keeps on expanding until it goes pop. That's the gist of it, at least. We're going to conclude by noting that if you tried to make this up, your friends would probably advise you to seek professional help. Bootnote I Ta very much to regular reader Rose Humphrey for the exploding toad alert. Bootnote II *We have no further information about the Latin American toad-detonating fungus. The mind boggles. Related stories Aussies deploy toad-blasting audio killing machine
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2005

Empire Strikes Back is best SW film: official

The 1980 Star Wars outing The Empire Strikes Back has been voted best of the series in a poll of 40,000 UK film buffs carried out by magazine Empire. Han Solo secured top hero spot, while - surprise, surprise - Darth Vader was the readers' fave baddie. R2D2 was crowned top droid and Chewbacca can now prouly declare himself most-favoured alien. That The Empire Strikes Back topped the poll comes as no surprise to those who like their films with a bit of character development and plot. It beat Star Wars: A New Hope (aka Star Wars to anyone over 40) into second place. Further evidence of the superiority of the original trilogy comes with the news that Return Of The Jedi secured third spot on the podium. This, however, is as good as it gets. Lamentably, Empire readers then voted Revenge Of The Sith their fourth favourite - even though the bloody film hasn't been released yet. Quite how this works we have no idea.* Here are a few of the results. The full picture become clear in the latest issue of Empire, released tomorrow: Best film: The Empire Strikes Back Star Wars The Return of the Jedi Revenge of the Sith Attack of the Clones The Phantom Menace Top hero Han Solo Obi-Wan Luke Skywalker Top alien Chewbacca Jabba the Hutt Jawas Yoda Bootnote *Well, here's the official El Reg readers' explanation, as confirmed by our bulging email inbox. Take it away Steve Foster: This is based on the simple premise that Episodes I and II are so crap that RotS *is* currently better (in it's unseen form - ie fans would rather spend 2hrs doing nothing than watch I or II again). Once it's out of course, it may slip down the rankings... Yes indeed, time will tell... Related stories Romanian Jedi warm to El Reg Romanians open Jedi Academy Brighton tops UK Jedi league Jedi Knights achieve official recognition as a religion
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2005
channel

Intel snatches mobile graphics lead from ATI

Intel has overtaken ATI in the mobile graphics chip arena, and eaten into the specialist graphics chip makers' share of the market as a whole, Q1 figures from Jon Peddie Research (JPR) released this week reveal. ATI and Nvidia lost eight and nine percentage points of overall market share respectively during the first quarter, JPR said, compared with the year-ago quarter. ATI took 26.1 per cent of the market, which was also down from Q4 2004's 27.6 per cent share. Nvidia took 17.9 per cent, sequentially down from 18.6 per cent. Overall sales of graphics chips fell 4.9 per cent on Q1 2004 to 60.2 million units, also down 6.2 per cent on the previous quarter. Q1 is traditionally weak, with an across-the-board sales slide, but Intel's launch of its 915 mobile chipset - aka 'Alviso' - part of the second generation of Centrino, strengthened the chip giant's hand, with its overall market share rising 2.9 percentage points sequentially from 40.2 per cent to 43.1 per cent, although it was up just 0.6 per cent year on year. Intel took 50.8 per cent of the Q1 mobile space, as ATI's share continued to fall, this time from 42.9 per cent in Q4 2004 to 35.5 per cent. However, ATI retained its share of the desktop discrete market, taking 51.4 per cent of the mobile graphics chip market, down slightly on its Q4 2004 share of 51.9 per cent. Nvidia took 46.8 per cent of the market in Q1, up a tenth of a percentage point on the previous quarter. VIA saw its share of the full graphics chip market fall to 6.9 per cent from 7.3 per cent in the previous quarter. SiS' share fell from 5.7 per cent to 5.4 per cent. Matrox and XGI both saw their shares fall fractionally, to 0.33 per cent and 0.25 per cent, respectively. 3Dlabs quit the quarter with 0.02 per cent of the market, exactly what it had in Q4 2004. ® Related stories ATI top-end GPUs to win back 'channel leadership' ATI to update AMD, Intel chipsets 'in June' Nvidia ships nForce for Intel ATI to announce R520 'in June' ATI posts 'strong' Q2 sales gains Nvidia Q4 sales best yet - almost Intel, Nvidia were Q4's graphics chip winners Nvidia chisels away at ATI market share Q3 integrated graphics chip shipments soar
Tony Smith, 28 Apr 2005

Rumsfeld demands cash for 'bunker-busting' nuke

US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday asked Congress to agree $8.5m of funding for research into a ground-penetrating nuclear weapon which would address what Rumsfeld considers the growing problem of potential enemies burying vital installations deep underground. Last November, Congress pulled the plug on $27m earmarked for a study into the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator", Reuters reports. Rumsfeld was at pains to point out that Pentagon wants the cash purely for research - not to build an actual weapon. He said: "The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapons," adding: "It seems to me studying it [the RNEP] makes all the sense in the world." California Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, countered: "It is beyond me as to why you're proceeding with this program when the laws of physics won't allow a missile to be driven deeply enough to prevent deadly radioactive fallout from spewing into the air after a nuclear detonation." Rumsfeld reported that the Pentagon estimates 70 countries are currently constructing subterranean facilties beyond the reach of the US's nuclear arsenal. Quite how it arrived at this figure is unclear. ® Related stories Introducing the 'Matrix' laptop-triggered landmine Scientists slam US plasma weapon US Navy downs dummy ballistic missile
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2005

Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal

Shares in telecoms equipment outfit Marconi plummeted more than 40 per cent this morning after it confirmed it had not secured a slice of a major £10bn contract from BT. In a statement to the Stock Exchange Marconi announced it "has not been selected as preferred supplier for BT's next-generation 21st Century Network (21CN) project". "This is a disappointing outcome from a very competitive tender process," said Marconi chief exec Mike Parton. "Our products performed extremely well technically, but we have been unable to meet BT's commercial requirements." The failure to win a slice of the action sent shockwaves through the City. By El Reg's midmorning coffee break, shares in Marconi were down 207.5p (43 per cent) at 274.5p. Putting a brave face on things Marconi added that it would continue to supply equipment and services to BT under existing contracts it has with the UK's dominant fixed line telco. Earlier today BT named eight companies - whittled down from more than 300 across the globe - as its preferred suppliers for its 21CN project. The telco is investing £10bn over the next five years in the new network designed to deliver whizzy high-speed communications services. The eight companies are Fujitsu, Huawei, Alcatel, Cisco, Siemens, Lucent, Ciena and Ericsson. Said BT WHolesale boss Paul Reynolds: "21CN is a key infrastructure that will fuel the UK economy and provide a flexible way for consumers to use new services. The selection of the preferred suppliers is an incredibly important building block towards that vision. 21CN will also radically reduce BT's cost base, with identified savings of around one billion pounds a year." Last year BT announced plans to migrate its national phone network to an Internet Protocol (IP) platform. The move will take five years to complete and should produce savings of £1bn a year for the UK's dominant fixed line telco. The new multi-service IP-based network will carry both voice and data services and replace the UK's public switched telephone network (PSTN). 21CN will involve installing IP kit, called Multi Service Access Nodes (MSANs), in exchanges which are capable of carrying both voice and data traffic. The mass migration of customers onto the new network is set to begin in 2006 with the majority shunted across by 2008.® Shares in BT were up 1p (0.5 per cent) at 198p at the time of writing. ® Related stories BT's 21CN is 'exciting, radical and now' BT to trial fibre-to-the-home BT to save £1bn a year with IP network
Tim Richardson, 28 Apr 2005

UCLA demonstrates desktop nuclear fusion

Scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles have demonstrated desktop nuclear fusion by simply heating a lithium tantalate crystal soaked in deuterium gas. However, the technique produces far too few neutrons to be practical for commercial use, so it's sadly not a matter of free-power-for-everyone next week, New Scientist reports. Seth Putterman's UCLA team used previous research by James Brownridge at the State University of New York - which produced X-rays from lithium tantalate by heating the crystals in a dilute gas - as the basis for its experiment. When Brownridge turned up the heat on the lithium tantalate, the pyroelectric properties of the crystal created an electric field provoked by the migration of positive and negative charges to opposite ends of the crystal. As NS explains, the electric field "strips electrons from the gas molecules and accelerates them to huge energies. The electrons then collide with stationary nuclei in the crystal and generate X-rays." Putterman realised that the electric fields generated were sufficiently strong to spark nuclear fusion in deuterium - a "mind-boggling" 107 electronvolts as the excited boffin put it. The recipe for UCLA nuclear fusion is as follows: Bathe lithium tantalate in deuterium gas. Cool to -33°C. Heat to 7°C over three-and-a-half minutes. Wait for electric field to "accelerate deuterium nuclei over a distance of 1 centimetre to energies in excess of 100 kiloelectronvolts". Watch as nuclei then collide and fuse with deuterium nuclei that had "permeated the surface of the crystal lattice". And, if you get your recipe right, you should cook up "400 times more neutrons than found in background measurements". Sounds good, but this represents a few hundred neutrons per second - way short of the millions of neutrons a second you'd need for a commercial neutron generator. Accordingly, hopes for the technique are at present modest. Putterman says it might one day power microthrusters for miniature spacecraft, while Nigel Hawkes, a nuclear physicist at the UK's National Physical Laboratory, cautioned: “It’s too early to say where this might lead.” In the meantime, Putterman hopes to up the neutron yield by "operating at lower temperatures and by using an array of crystals". ® Related stories Scientists scan for nukes with space rays The truth about tritium 419ers crack cold fusion
Lester Haines, 28 Apr 2005
graph up

Fight fraud not ID theft

ID theft is a misnomer which is hurting the fight against fraud, according to encryption guru Bruce Schneier. Instead of talking about ID theft it's better to talk about fraud due to impersonation, he claimed. The crime exists because identifying information about a person is easy to steal and valuable once it is stolen. Schneier said that rather than focusing on making identity harder to steal it makes more sense to make information harder to use for criminal purposes. "The industry is going the wrong way in the US by worrying about keeping identity details secret. The focus should be on fraud. European countries, such as Holland [The Netherlands], are doing better than the US," he said. Schneier made his comments during a press conference at the Infosecurity Europe trade show in London on Tuesday. Identity and access management, along with the fight against spyware, were key themes of this year's show. Tim Pickard, area VP international marketing of RSA Security, said firms need to move from a network centric approach to security towards implementing technologies that defined how an individual was allowed to use systems. Half (50 out of 100) IT directors quizzed in an RSA-sponsored survey cited identity theft, poor internal IT security practices, lost and stolen passwords and unauthorised access to data as the security issues of concern. Each of these potential threats can be addressed from a cohesive identity management strategy but firms often fall into the trap of implementing a piecemeal approach that may prove to be more expensive in the long term, according to Pickard. RSA's survey found users tend to buy products on a tactical basis, rather than as part of a coherent strategy. Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents cited single sign-on as the most fully implemented element, with directory management second, web services third and strong authentication fourth. For 83 per cent of IT Directors, increased data security was viewed as a key driver for deploying an identity and access management solution, with 74 per cent citing regulatory compliance as an important goal. ® Related stories US regulators take action over ID theft ID theft is inescapable ID scheme will be a costly, dangerous failure, says LSE report Banks 'wasting millions' on two-factor authentication
John Leyden, 28 Apr 2005

Nintendo DS sales top 5m units

Nintendo has shipped well over 5 million DS handheld consoles around the globe, the company has claimed. The five-million mark was actually passed mid-March, the company said, just after the console's UK launch, during which it became the fastest-selling console in UK videogaming history. After an initial two-day rush yielded 87,000 sales, Nintendo went on to ship 200,000 DS handhelds in the UK. Nintendo said it was "on track" to meet its target and ship 5-6 million DS consoles during its current fiscal year, which ends 31 March 2006. By contrast, Sony is believed to have shipped over 2.5 million PlayStation Portables so far, 2.46 million in Q1 2005 alone. It shipped 4.4 million PSP titles in the quarter. The PSP is available in the US and Japan. It goes on sale in Europe on 1 September. Nintendo will understandably feel chuffed with its lead. But it's up against some stiff competition. Despite its European release delay, and missing its previous end-of-year shipment target - 3 million by 31 March 2005 - Sony said it expects to ship 12 million PSPs in the year to 31 March 2006. It hopes to ship a similar number of PS2s during the same period. ® Related stories Sony to ship PSP on 1 September - official Amazon puts back UK Sony PSP debut - again Sony PSP UK release slips to August? Sony sells 600,000 US PSPs in first week Nintendo DS sets UK console sales record Sony confirms Euro PSP slippage Friday 11 March is Euro Nintendo DS day Related reviews Nintendo DS handheld games console Sony PlayStation Portable PSP-1000
Tony Smith, 28 Apr 2005
graph up

Liebermann 'not a hoax', founders insist

Colourful computer company Liebermann, which last October announced it was to close, has posted a 42-page letter (PDF) detailing its bizarre attempt to carve a niche in the high-end PC market. Six months ago, Liebermann admitted it was "no longer in a position, from a financial standpoint, to continue doing business". The screed released today suggests it never was in such a position - it was, from the start, a "zero-budget business" unable to fulfil many of the orders it received, its founders admit. Yet they also claim it had a "proven profitable business model". Go figure. Maybe they shouldn't have put all this profit back into "more development, better designs, better customer support and better products". The hyperbole for which the company is justly infamous - it offered a "a completely overhauled version of Microsoft Windows XP Professional featuring groundbreaking performance", apparently - continues in today's open letter, which describes Liebermann as a "culture shock", a "revolution", "too dangerous" and the "most talked-about, loved and hated" PC company in the industry. The company continues to deny that it was a hoax operation, but when you spend more time making fantastic claims for future products, getting unavailable-to-the-public kit onto TV shows and the "covers of leading magazines", and dealing with major IT companies beating a path to their door (allegedly) than shipping products to paying punters, it seems near enough a prank as makes no odds. The company's two founders - "a young Hollywood filmmaker" and "a young business college graduate and part-time horse trainer" - certainly appear to have been more focused on establishing a presence than actually running a business. How could they, with no other employees, as they claim? Still, they say, these two - or is it just one; the document is ambiguous on this point - managed to put in place "multi-million dollar domestic and international distribution agreements for all its product line". Apparently. But what about the products? Certainly there were plenty on the company's web site. But with just two - or one? - persons working, where did they find the time to come up, as they claim, with umpteen notebook models; desktops; workstations; servers; media centres; PDAs; three-, four- and five-panel monitor rigs; super computers and so on? No wonder they couldn't fulfil all the orders they received - they were too busy coming up with all this stuff... No wonder they had, by their own admission, "yet to... manufacture and deliver the product sought after". Liebermann rounds off the document with dozens of emails allegedly from computer users around the world. Curiously, rather a large number of them are not from customers but from folk keen to wish the company well. Not a few express their "shock" and "devastation" on hearing the news the Liebermann is going out of business. From their tone, it's clear some of these folk are among those people who believed Liebermann was indeed a hoax. As we say, the gap between hoaxers and companies that tout fantastic products while admitting they may never be able to ship them is a narrow one. But then how many genuine IT firms can claim never to have done that themselves at some point? The IT industry's vapourware tally extends beyond the list of products that have actually shipped. And many items that did arrive did not offer all that they had promised. If Liebermann was not a hoax, as its founder(s) maintain, it certainly is/was an exaggerated, highly-stylised image of the industry as a whole. And, defunct, it's still making headlines. ® Related stories Colourful US PC company calls it quits PC maker puts P4 Extreme Edition into... notebooks
Tony Smith, 28 Apr 2005

VXer targets Romanian gypsy music

A mass-mailing virus designed to wipe Romanian gypsy music off PCs is spreading rapidly across the east European country. The virus, dubbed Antiman-A, uses a recent story about the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists - abducted by a little-known terrorist Iraqi group approximately a month ago - to trap curious punters. The subject line of the infected message is in Romanian and varies from: "Voteaza azi!" ("Vote today"), "Antivirus", "Antimanele" ("Against Gypsy music"), to "Cum a murit Papa?" ("How did the Pope die?"). The message body is also in Romanian, and typically tries to trick users into opening an infected attachment by encouraging them to tackle part in a "virtual poll" concerning the withdrawal of Romanian troops from Iraq or by posing as an anti-virus utility. Once executed, the malicious code erases all files which contain the names of well-known gypsy music singers. The electronic version of traditional gypsy music - dubbed manele - is increasingly popular in Romania but the genre also has its detractors who have praised the virus as a 'utilitarian' blessing. Apart from an apparent abhorrence of Gipsy music, the Auntiman-A author's musical tastes remain sadly unknown. Perhaps something like Marilyn Manson might ring the bell of your average VXer, but perhaps unpleasant Canadian pomp rock is closer to the mark. After all, everybody in the IT industry loves Rush - at least according to a recent poll. Back in Romania, meanwhile, anti-virus firm BitDefender CTO, Bogdan Dumitru, said: "The author of this piece of malware is most certainly a Romanian citizen, who has designed it in order to show his deep discontent with the ever increasing popularity of Gypsy music in Romania. Despite the fact that technically it is a very simple code, the virus is spreading at an amazing speed throughout Romania, due to the skilful social engineering tricks employed by its author." Vali The Blizzard, a popular Manele singer, told Ananova: "I don't believe this is a threat for us. On the contrary they are doing us a favour. This way our fans will have to buy the CDs and not take the music from the internet for free." ® Related stories MP3 zapping malware worms onto P2P network Canon Japan disses entire UK gypsy IT sector Goth sysadmins rage against Reg music machine
John Leyden, 28 Apr 2005

Wanadoo UK hits broadband high

Wanadoo UK has seen the number of broadband subscribers in the UK rocket over the last year as more and more people switch from dial-up to high-speed access. At the end of March 2004, Wanadoo UK had 192,000 broadband users. Today, parent company France Telecom revealed that its ISP now has a whopping 717,000 broadband users. While Wanadoo is making much of its broadband drive, today's figures also reveal that its overall subscriber base fell by more than 200,000 punters over the last 12 months. The UK ISP, formerly known as Freeserve, has seen total numbers fall from 2.6m at the end of March 2004 to 2.4m this year - a fall of 9 per cent. Despite this, Wanadoo UK remains upbeat about its performance. A spokeswoman for the company told The Register that the decline in narrowband numbers "was not a surprise" and that it was a "market trend experienced by all big ISPs". Asked to comment on the decline in overall numbers she said: "Our focus is on broadband and there is bound to be some fallout in narrowband figures." Overall, France Telecom reported a "strong growth in broadband" with its total European customer base up 74 per cent from 4.1m in Q1 04 to 7.2m at the end of March 2005. ® Related stories Wanadoo UK slips open silky VoIP kimono 'Irresponsible' Wanadoo TV ad banned Broadband growth buoys Wanadoo
Tim Richardson, 28 Apr 2005

Creative Commons prez asks for some lurv

Creative Commons president Paula Le Dieu was in London last night to chair a panel debate on what Creative Commons licenses mean to the music industry. Judging from the views expressed by some senior music industry figures there is clearly a need for just such an explantory approach. Le Dieu explained that CC licenses aimed to do something that existing copyright is failing to do. She pointed to 12m pages of content on Yahoo, acceptance by 70 countries and the BBC’s use of a CC-type license for its archive as evidence of the strength of CC licenses. Although the evening narrowly avoided descending into stereotypical mud-slinging, Fran Nevrkla - ex-chairman of the British Phonographic Industry and representing the dinosaurs - did lower the tone by dismissing the importance of CC licensing, the culture it comes from and its relevance to the real world. Nevrkla continued to insist that CC licensing was the product of “learned professors living in rarified luxurious environment supported by public funds” and that promoting CC licenses as a business model was “nonsense”. He stuck to his guns despite the repeated, polite explanations from his neighbour Neil Leyton who runs his record label Fading Ways Records on just such a basis. He explained that part of the reason for choosing CC licenses was to allow the fans to copy and share music without being sued by over-active music industry lawyers. Emma Pike, director general of British Music Rights, took the unusual step of recomending musicians use Kazaa rather than a CC license. She also expressed concerns, shared by others in the audience, that Creative Commons does not do enough to warn artists what rights they are ceding by signing up to such a license. Damian Tambini, who heads up CC licensing in the UK, promised to look at this for the UK version of the website currently under development. ® Related stories Lessig launches Creative Commons for the UK Germany debuts Creative Commons Lawrence Lessig's birthday spam
John Oates, 28 Apr 2005
globalisation

Bell Micro sounds a profit

Bell Microproducts brought in revenues of $805m in the first quarter of 2005 ended 31 March, an increase of 22 per cent on last year. Net earnings for the period were $4.4m or $0.15 per share compared to $1.7m or $0.06 per share. Bell made 42 per cent of revenue in the US, 12 per cent in Latin America and 46 per cent in Europe. Revenues in North America grew 27 per cent, seven per cent in Latin America and 21 per cent in Europe. European growth was driven by the acquistion of OpenPSL in June. Gross profit margins fell slightly from 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2004 to 7.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2005. Bell expects margins in Europe and company-wide in future quarters. The firm kept pressure on expenses - operating expenses fell to 5.6 per cent of revenue compared to 6.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2004.® Related stories Bell swings into full year profit Bell Micro buys UK distie Bell Micro picks boss for Europe
John Oates, 28 Apr 2005
channel

Dell scores big Honeywell deal

Dell has signed a three-year deal with Honeywell to for managed services across the US. It follows a similar deal for Honeywell’s systems in Europe. Dell is providing desktop support for software and custom factory integration. The agreement covers 57,000 Honeywell systems all over the US and the move to Dell is already under way at several sites. Honeywell will lease Dell hardware through Dell Financial Services. Dell will also remove and refurbish or recycle old Honeywell hardware, and provide security and virus protection.® Related stories Rare Dell critics spotted circling over Austin Dell projects more revenue growth Dell grows Celtic fringe
John Oates, 28 Apr 2005

Nokia 7710 smart phone

ReviewReview More than two years after it was originally demo'd Nokia has finally got its 7710 media phone to market. Was it worth the wait? asks Ian Hughes. "Whoa, big fella!" were my exact words on opening the box (read: 'trunk') that the 7710 arrived in, swiftly followed by, "what is it?" The 7710 is a beast of a phone, but it has to be to accommodate the myriad bells, whistles and, let's face it, foghorns that Nokia has crammed into its latest smart phone. It weighs in at a pocket-busting 190g and sports dimensions to make a family car blush; you know almost immediately that you're holding something a bit different in your hand, sorry, hands. But, two hands is definitely the case here - one-handed operation is nigh-on impossible. Nokia even provides a cute little stand to rest it on, though it isn't very stable when you're charging the phone. If you're used to a regular-sized smart phone, like Nokia's 6600 or 6630, you might first wonder where the keypad is. There isn't one. Nokia has done this before, notably on the 7280 Fashion model. There the lack of a keypad was a gimmick; here, you'll soon appreciate the break from tradition and more PDA-like interface. This is definitely a PDA with a phone built in, rather than the other way round, and for once we have a manufacturer not apologising for it - both modes are equally functional. The screen is wide, touch-sensitive and as sharp as I've seen on a device of its type. It's a gamers dream - a word of warning: the casino set of games is horribly addictive. Start-up, however, was disappointingly slow and to be honest the processor seems a little sluggish. The whopping 90MB of RAM helps, though, and with an MMC expansion slot hidden inside, we can't see memory ever being an issue. The 7710 runs Symbian's Series 90 operating system, and third-party applications are widely available, but in my opinion hardly necessary with everything that comes preloaded. The To-Do, Calendar and Contacts apps are some of the best I've seen on a device like this. Nokia has also bundled a suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint document viewers, and synchronising with your desktop is a breeze, if a little slow, with PC Suite. Virtual Private Networking is possible for the advanced user, and both file and device management are clear and easy to use. The telephone function - I love the way it's listed separately - brings up a touch-screen dialler and this will probably be the first time you use the handy stowaway stylus. Simply tap in the number and hit call. Once you've figured out which end to speak into (it might take a while) you're in business. Call quality was excellent and despite its bulk the phone felt surprisingly comfortable to use. Mind you, the black leather case that came bundled will not see the light of day unless you want to be seen chatting into to your granny's purse. There's the de rigueur 1.3-megapixel camera and video functions and they're both more than adequate. The photo editing app is a welcome inclusion for those serious about their phone photography. However, I thought the video playback was decidedly average. As a general multimedia device, though, the 7710 performs well, even if it's only on a relatively basic level. There's Real Player installed as well as Nokia's own music player, though where this phone excels is in its FM radio capabilities. The Visual Radio application links you straight into a directory of radio stations which you select according to your local area. Then simply select the stations you want and store them in any of the 20 preset channels. The bundled headset is the HS-3, which is a superior piece of kit to the bog-standard ones usually found in Nokia boxes. Entering text into any application is achieved with the stylus and you have the choice of a size-selectable on-screen keyboard or the option of handwriting recognition. Once you've mastered it, entering text this way becomes a joy. The messaging suite has everything you could desire and configuring everything was probably the easiest I've found. The email was HTML-compatible which really brings the screen surprisingly low 65,000-colour screen to life, and multiple accounts are supported. The screen is also a real advantage when using the web browser, which really suffers from the lack of connection speed. Despite lacking 3G the 7710 is a heavyweight in the data division too. The GPRS connections I used were quick to connect with no dropouts. Bluetooth reliability is vastly better than previous smart phones I've tried. Verdict The 7710 is a positive early step by Nokia into a touch-screen interface smart phone and should appeal to anybody wanting a PDA with added phone features. Advanced users might be frustrated at its lack of speed, and a version with a faster processor and 3G would be a product to be reckoned with. Gamers will love it regardless. Review by Nokia 7710   Rating 80%   Pros Sharp, wide 65,000-colour screen; FM radio; PIM applications.   Cons Sumo-size and weight; design requires two handed usage most of the time; slow application speeds and no 3G.   Price Around £500 (unlocked); less if bought on network contract.   More info The Nokia 7710 site Related reviews Nokia 9300 Communicator HTC 'Magician' PocketPC phone Nokia 6670 smart phone Voq Pro smart phone HTC 'Blue Angel' Wi-Fi PocketPC phone Vodafone Blackberry 7100v Recent reviews MV Cubik GamePro small form-factor PC Sony DSC-T7 digital camera Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder Acer TravelMate 8100 'Sonoma' notebook
Pocket Lint, 28 Apr 2005
channel

HP inks Big Brother database contract

HP has won the £48.5m contract to provide technolgy for SIS II, the European-wide police system, and the Visa Information System. The company will work with Steria, Mummert in Germany and Primeshare in Luxembourg. The Schengen Information System is the world’s largest border and police information system. Upgrading is a precondition for lifting border controls between Schengen area countries and the accession countries which joined the community in May 2004. The Schengen area is made up of 15 members of the EC, which signed the agreements in 1985 and 1990, minus the UK and Ireland. When up and running in 2007, the so-called "Visa Information System" will be accessed by police and intelligence and security services in all member countries. VIS will give all countries access to all visa requests for Schengen area countries. It will deal with an estimated 20 million visa requests and 45 million requests to check such visas. SIS II will provide information on people and stolen vehicles, ID documents and banknotes. It will be able to store photos and fingerprints and possibly other identifying information. Lobbyists like Statewatch are concerned this may include biometric information. Statewatch also fears that SIS II will also include a database of protestors who could be prevented from travelling to areas of potential protest. There will also be a database of all third country nationals within the EC. HP will provide Integrity Superdome servers and HP OpenView software. The print giant is responsible for ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the project. ® Related stories HP hit with a Moody... Never Hurd of the new HP boss? 'What does HP do?' asks Europe's biggest dealer
John Oates, 28 Apr 2005

Gigabyte GA-8N-SLi Royal nForce 4 Intel mobo

ReviewReview It's finally arrived: the first retail Nvidia nForce4 SLi Intel Edition mobo. Considering this is Nvidia's first attempt at creating a chipset for Intel CPUs it's no mean feat to make it an SLi solution at the same time. Of course, Intel doesn't have a consumer-level SLi-capable chipset at the moment, though there are some rumours about it launching its own SLi-compatible solution shortly. But if this first board is anything to go by, Intel will be facing some stiff competition, writes Lars-Goran Nilsson.
Trusted Reviews, 28 Apr 2005

PM pops in to Carphone Warehouse

Election 2005Election 2005 PM Tony Blair and PM wannabe Gordon Brown popped in to The Carphone Warehouse today to present awards to key employees of the telecoms outfit. The visit to Carphone's West London call centre followed the launch of Labour's business manifesto in which the PM outlined plans to create and maintain the "right environment for enterprise and wealth creation". Speaking about the UK's role in the global economy, Blair said that China and India produce 125,000 computer science graduates every year - more than twice the whole of the EU's ouput. "In the 1980s, less than a tenth of the UK's manufacturing imports came from developing countries. Today it is almost 30 per cent, and in 20 years time it will be around 50 per cent. Clearly, we as a nation face a major challenge. "At the same time, technology and scientific advances are changing our world faster than ever before. Developments in IT, biotechnology, new fuels and nanotechnology are creating a new wave of innovation and opportunities for businesses large and small. "British businesses can rise to these challenges - competing successfully in an ever more competitive global economy," said Blair. But as The Carphone Warehouse attempted to use today's visit to plug the "entrepreneurial spirit nurtured throughout the company via attractive benefits packages, fun incentives and rewards", the event was somewhat overshadowed by a growing political row of the legality of the Iraq war. ® Related stories BCC wants business tax rates frozen Tories board hi-tech battle bus General election debate misses purpose of ID cards Tory backs down in political cybersquatting row Labour promises 'voluntary' compulsory ID card Clarke calls for ID cards after imagining huge poison terror ring
Tim Richardson, 28 Apr 2005
fingers pointing at man

Quantum crypto moves out of the lab

Quantum cryptography - long the stuff of cyberpunk novels and hi-tech spy stories - is leaving the laboratory and making its way into commercial markets. A briefing session at the UK's Department of Trade and Industry on Wednesday featured demonstrations of working quantum key exchange systems by QinetiQ, Toshiba Cambridge and US start-up MagiQ. Quantum cryptography allows two users on an optical fibre network to exchange secret keys. It takes advantage of the particle-like nature of light. In quantum cryptography, each bit of the key is encoded upon a single light particle (or ‘photon’). Intercepting this data randomly changes the polarisation of the light, irreversibly altering the data. Because of this quantum mechanics effect any attempt by an eavesdropper to determine a key corrupts the same key. Quantum cryptography systems discard these corrupt keys and only use codes that are known to be secure. These quantum keys, once exchanged, can be used in a one-time pad. Advances in quantum computers or the discovery of advanced mathematical algorithms might one day threaten conventional scrambling techniques but quantum cryptography, properly implemented, is immune from such attacks. Professor Andrew Briggs, head of Quantum Information Processing Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration at Oxford University, said that the UK had played a critical role in research into quantum cryptography. He urged the British government to do everything it can to make sure British companies profit from this pioneering work. "We've made a world leading contribution to the underlying science. Britain should also be at the forefront of developing applications." Professor Brian Collins, professor of information systems at Cranfield University, agreed. "The initiative is passing from scientist to system designers to exploit this technology. We ignore it at our peril; it may become the only show in town." Consultancy QIP, supported by the DTI, organised two seminars this week designed to promote understanding of the potential impacts of quantum cryptography to government officials, reps from the financial services and telecoms industry and the media. It provided a rare opportunity to see a range of systems at work. The event itself was well organised and mercifully free of the marketing hype that often comes with the introduction of new technology. Live and direct Toshiba Research Europe demoed a prototype system that applied quantum cryptography to the transmission of streaming video, an initiative that might one day open the door to ultra-secure video conferencing. The system allowed each frame of IP video, to be encrypted with a unique digital key, creating an unbreakable sequence of IP traffic. Toshiba Quantum Key Server produces up to 100 quantum keys per second. Toshiba’s team has already achieved a number of world firsts including the a new type of light emitting diode (LED) that fires out photons one at a time and an ultra-low noise single photon detector. US start-up MagiQ has already begun selling systems based on its technology in the UK. Staff from UK reseller NOW Wireless were on hand to show how their kit added an extra layer of security on VPNs. Once secure keys are exchanged, data can be encrypted using standard protocols. QintiQ demo-ed its free-space quantum cryptography system. Ultimately its approach might allow quantum keys to be exchange via satellite. Swiss firm ID Quantique, along with MagiQ, are the only companies selling quantum key distribution systems commercially. Target markets are governments and financial services. Quantum key exchange systems from MagiQ sell at between $70,000-$100,000, a small premium on conventional cryptographic systems. Although expense is not a factor several limitations with quantum cryptography remain. Hackers can't break codes protected by quantum crypto but they might be able to disrupt communications. Quantum cryptography is limited to use between two dedicated points, or perhaps around a star network. It can't be routed because this process would interfere with the exchange of keys. Stuart Brooklehurst, SVP at Visa International, pointed out that the absolute secrecy offered by quantum cryptography only referred to the transmission of data. "It’s not a total solution. Risks are at least as great in other parts of the system," he said. The big play for quantum crypto in financial services is for applications like data recovery and links between wholesale banks. Brooklehurst pointed out that systems have to go through expensive upgrades when protocols are upgraded. Quantum crypto, though initially more expensive, would provide the ultimate in investment protection. ® Related stories Quantum crypto edges closer Team demos first quantum crypto prototype machine Holy Grail of crypto to arrive in three years, say UK boffins Quantum Crypto It's in the fiber Quantum crypto comes to Blighty
John Leyden, 28 Apr 2005

HP to build EU's biometric ID, terror database

A consortium headed by Hewlett-Packard is to develop Europe's 'Big Brother' system for the European Commission. Along with Steria, Mummert in Germany and Primesphere in Luxembourg, HP is to produce a "high-quality technology model" for the second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS) II and the Visa Information System (VIS) - Europe's Justice and Home Affairs Committee envisages these two systems replacing a border control system (SIS I) with a far more pervasive one of surveillance, controls and information exchange. Although HP announced the signing of the contract today, the European Commission tells us the deal was actually struck late last year. We've no idea whether the latest version signifies some change in the contract, or merely that HP Belgium communicates with HP global via messages in bottles. Whatever... HP's announcement doesn't mention Big Brother, but does follow a mention of the Schengen treaty's aim to "allow free movement of persons in Europe" with... "SIS II, will provide information on wanted persons as well as stolen vehicles, ID documents and banknotes through a database accessed by national police authorities of all participating member states. Once it is fully functional in 2007, SIS II will be much more flexible than the current system and will also be able to store photographic images and fingerprints. In addition, the infrastructure of the new system will make it easier to adapt to future EU requirements." The storage of "images and fingerprints" relates to Justice and Home Affairs' plans for biometric passports, visas and residence permits, and for an EU standard for national ID cards. The EU has gone further than the basic ICAO and US requirement standard for biometric passports by including fingerprints, and also intends all visas to be biometric (which is where VIS comes in). Residence permits are also to be biometric, and with the ID card standard on the horizon, but not yet specified, the pan-European biometric ID system is taking shape. Add in various other bits of data sharing (vehicle databases, no-travel lists and a "restricted access terrorist database") and access (various European and national police and security services), and you've got SIS II, which HP is designing so it can grow in accordance with Justice and Home Affairs imaginative "future EU requirements." HP tells us the system will be fully functional in 2007, and reveals that the servers it will be supplying are the singularly inappropriately-named (they're going to the European Commission, for god's sake...) Integrity Superdome. Not an expression that springs automatically to mind at the mention of Brussels, surely... ® Related links: HP announcement Statewatch explains SIS II Statewatch on biometrics and EU here and here Security and interop issues cause EU biometric passport delays Finger, faceprints get green light for Europe's ID standard
John Lettice, 28 Apr 2005
channel

New York sues Intermix over spyware

New York Attorney General Eliot 'The Blitzer' Spitzer has launched a suit against Intermix Media, claiming the firm markets software that covertly installs "spyware" and "adware" on infected machines. The suit against Los Angeles-based Intermix is the largest to date involving programs that redirect web addresses, add toolbars and deliver pop-up ads. New York reckons Intermix is responsible for infecting million of home computers with nuisance programs and worse. The suit follows a six-month investigation in which the Attorney General's office found that Intermix had installed a wide range of advertising software on home computers without giving consumers proper notice. Intermix owns and operates a wide range of web sites, including mycoolscreen.com, cursorzone.com and flowgo.com, which advertised "free" software available for download, including screensavers, screen cursors and games. Along with these programs comes invasive ad-ware programs which allegedly get installed without the consent of consumers visiting these sites. Among these malign programs are KeenValue, which serves pop-up ads and IncrediFind, which redirects web addresses to Intermix's proprietary search engine. Other programs placed advertising "toolbars" on users' screens. The Attorney General documented at least ten separate web sites from which Intermix or its agents were downloading spyware, providing either no warning or other misleading disclosures. In this way, Intermix and its agents downloaded more than 3.7 million programs to New Yorkers alone, the Attorney General alleges. In addition, the programs omitted "un-install" applications, and even reinstalled themselves after being deleted. The Attorney General's suit seeks a permanent injunction against Intermix from secretly installing spyware, an accounting of all revenues made on these products, and payment of penalties. The lawsuit was drafted under New York's which prohibits false advertising and deceptive business practices, and New York's common law prohibitions against trespass. Negotiations with Intermix prior to the lawsuit failed to reach a settlement to New York has turned to the courts. Intermix is yet to comment on the case. Shares in Intermix fell 55 cents, or 11 per cent, in early trading American Stock Exchange following news of the suit, AP reports. ® Related stories Adware-infected PCs net slimeware firms $3 a pop Spitzer the Blitzer goes after music label payola Spam King dodges $20m big stick 'Spamford' Wallace agrees to stop spyware assault
John Leyden, 28 Apr 2005

IRS outs paper filers as 'minority'

The age of the luddite tax payer has passed with more than half of US punters sending in their returns via the internet for the first time. Close to 66m of the 120m returns filed so far arrived at the IRS electronically. That total of e-filed returns marks an 11 percent increase over last year's 59m electronic returns. The IRS is darn excited about the jump in electronic returns, saying federal workers are the happiest they've ever been due to the internet efficiency. "I’d like to thank IRS workers, tax professionals and tax volunteers for putting in long hours during the tax season," said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson. "Their hard work, coupled with the growth in electronic services, made this one of the best filing seasons we’ve ever seen.” Everson would later become even more enamored with the filing season, upping its rating from "best" to "strong and smooth." Then, he rightly outed paper filers as a type of backward, dying breed. “The IRS saw a strong, smooth filing season across the board,” Everson said. “The filing season results confirm what we’ve said all along. For the first time, more than half of all taxpayers filed electronically. Paper filers are now in the minority.” Close to 17m people filed their returns from a home computer, while another 46m returns came in from tax professionals. The number of e-filed and "minority" returns will go up in the coming months as laggards who requested extensions file their forms. So far, the IRS has paid out $181bn in refunds with the average refund coming to $2,144. ® Related stories No state regs, taxes for VoIP, FCC says The smart road that spies on you - but it doesn't really... IRS tries to tax outer space
Ashlee Vance, 28 Apr 2005