4th > May > 2005 Archive


Sun critic trades up on Wall Street

In a move likely to leave Scott McNealy choking on his cornflakes, Forbes.com has named Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich Wall St's number-one analyst. Milunovich, lovingly referred to as "The Loon" at El Reg, has been rated top stock picker in computers and peripherals scoring an excess return of nearly 30 per cent. The industry benchmark is 13 per cent, according to Forbes. Milunovich rose to prominence in the IT sector for saying in 2003 Sun Microsystems was in a "crisis" and sliding into irrelevance. Helpfully, he recommended a three-point plan of action to rescue the company. Among the measures, Milunovich suggested spinning out Java to either a specially created consortium or the open source community, and dumping the then upcoming Java Desktop System (JDS), which he said would not make money for Sun. While the jury is still out on JDS's impact on Sun's bottom line, the desktop has been welcomed in large volume markets like China. Milunovich also recommended that McNealy appoint a chief operating officer to take over day-to-day running. Last year McNealy did just that, naming former head of software Jonathan Schwartz as COO and president. Having sorted out Sun, Milunovich told Hewlett Packard it should either split into a consumer and a business company, or divide HP between digital imaging and computing. HP chose to remove CEO Carly Fiorina, instead. ® Related stories The Loon rides again with attack on Sun's comic value HP has one free port for Sun customers Sun's shares tumble, The Loon grumbles Sun back in the black just
Gavin Clarke, 04 May 2005

Online marketplace for computer contractors opens doors

A new UK service launches today which aims to make life easier for people offering IT services. The Resource Broker is an online business-to-business exchange: it is free to providers who can register their details, location and what their skills are. When another member creates a relevant new business opportunity they will be invited to tender for the business. Steve Christian, MD and founder the Resource Broker, told El Reg: “I’ve worked as a contractor and within corporates looking for staff - there’s a problem for both sides. This site is for contractors looking for work or for businesses looking for skills or looking to outsource some processes.” Christian said there is a ten per cent brokerage fee. All business opportunities have deadlines attached so suppliers and contractors know they are live leads. Check out the site here. ® Related stories One.Tel hoovers up RedNet for £5m Mystery bidder snaps up Commerce One patents RIP the online exchange
John Oates, 04 May 2005

Iona signs-up partner specialist

Iona Technologies has named a new vice president, someone versed in business process management (BPM), to drive partners around Iona's integration suite and Corba software. Robert Napolitano has been named vice president of corporate development by Iona, which hopes to capitalize on his experience in building relationships with software vendors IBM and Microsoft and systems integrators including Accenture. Napolitano is an executive with 20-years' experience in corporate development who, immediately prior to Iona, forged a global strategic alliance with IBM for BPM specialist Pegasystems. Napolitano was vice president for strategic alliances with Pegasystems. Napolitano's appointment signals an attempt by Iona to elevate its sales pitch and potentially open-up more avenues to market by working with larger platform and service providers on cross-marketing and sales deals. ® Related stories XML shows promise, but Sarbanes Oxley for IT security? Data appliances smarten up their act
Gavin Clarke, 04 May 2005
fingers pointing at man

OASIS to define SOA

A cross-industry, joint-customer effort at web services group OASIS designed to put some beef into the term Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) has hit an early snag. Some of the biggest names in enterprise computing, companies whose software is expected to provide the underpinnings of SOAs, are dragging their feet on joining a technical committee to establish a basic SOA reference model. A reference model is vital because the term SOA has come to be used in an increasing number of contexts with different - even conflicting - meanings, according to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards. "There is no industry standard for this," technical committee chairman Duane Nickull told El Reg. "It's an absolute necessity for people who are architects, for SOAs to have logical boundaries and components." The term SOA is the industry's latest buzzword, and considered an extension of web services by using XML-based interfaces to deliver services from loosely couple systems. Vendors often talk of putting specifications and standards in their middleware products to "enable" SOAs. The proposed reference model, already in early draft, will not be tied directly to any standards, technologies or other concrete implementations. The model is expected to define core items such as how to discover an SOA and check for availability. The model would help vendors build and define the various components that would be used by customers to build specific SOAs. The committee has seen strong early support from big IT users including Boeing, General Motors and credit card giant VISA International. This is arguably the strongest customer line-up for an industry effort since the launch of the Liberty Alliance Project to devise specifications for federated identity and single sign-in to web services. Industry participants include Adobe, NEC and Fujitsu. However, there is a yawning gap in membership from some of software's bigger hitters. Microsoft and Oracle have both signaled their intention to remain outside the group. Microsoft - currently a committee observer - said it would not become a fully fledged member, while an Oracle spokesperson said the company would "pay attention" to the group's work but called it "premature" to converge on a single reference architecture. "There are a number of ways to build service oriented applications using the basic principles of well-define contracts, loose coupling and meta discovery," Oracle's spokesperson said. Nickull noted Microsoft may not need to become directly involved, because the reference model was "very well aligned" with specifications in the company's WS- roadmap of specifications for web services. He speculated that Microsoft would probably only become involved in the work if: "They saw something that was in totally the wrong direction and [they] needed to save it." IBM and BEA Systems, whose products lead in application servers, portals and integration, applied to join the technical committee during the last two weeks, Nickull said. ® Related stories Rival web services specs destined for OASIS IBM CICS legacy at the heart of SOA BEA eases Java development OASIS open standards not open enough XML Tower of Babel - bring on UBL IBM throws weight behind BPEL
Gavin Clarke, 04 May 2005
graph up

IBM Lenovo gets new head

Lenovo has appointed a chief executive as it completes the buyout of IBM's PC business. Lenovo is the proud new owner of IBM’s PC business which has makes it the world’s third largest PC maker behind Dell and HP. The deal needed US government approval because Lenovo is part-owned by the Chinese government. Stephen Ward, Lenovo’s newly appointed chief executive, said the firm would have new products ready for release within weeks. Yuanquing Yang is taking over as chairman from Lenovo’s founder Lui Chaunzhi who stays on as a non-exec director. Ward takes over as CEO - he was previously general manager of IBM’s personal systems group. Robert Moffat and Henry Chow will sit on the Lenovo board as observers. Three additional board members will be appointed once the funding deal goes through. The company is raising $350m from private equity groups Texas Pacific, General Atlantic and Newbridge Capital. Lenovo paid $1.25bn for IBM’s PC business, $650m in cash and $600m in Lenovo shares. The firm claims one third of the domestic Chinese market. Lenovo will retain IBM's ThinkPad brand for notebook computers. Press release on IBM.com here. ® Related stories HP tops out in Asia Lenovo raises $350m for IBM PC takeover IBM Germany will be Lenovo from May
John Oates, 04 May 2005

Malaysia to fingerprint all new-born children

Malaysia’s National Registration Department is doubtful that it would be useful to fingerprint all babies born in the country. Malaysian police are proposing all new-borns should have their fingerprint and footprints taken before they leave hospital, according to the BBC. The National Registration Department is concerned that prints from such a young child will be unreliable for identifying the terrible toddlers. The NRD is “keeping an open mind” but is worried that such fingerprints will still be changing and so won’t be useful for identification, according to the Malaysian Star. Police believe software could allow for such changes in the prints. Malaysians are already required to give fingerprints at age 12 when they receive their “MyKad” ID card. Their prints are taken again when they are 18. Malaysia is aiming to have everyone over the age of 12 carrying a smart ID card by the end of the year. Civil liberties groups in the country have attacked the proposal as intimidating and likely to create a climate of fear. Newborn kids are already issued a “MyKid” - similar to an ID card but without fingerprints or photos. More details here. ® Related stories HP to build EU's biometric ID, terror database Not as guilty as he looks? The Met chief, Labour and ID cards General election debate misses purpose of ID cards
John Oates, 04 May 2005

Ericsson axes 250 US jobs

Ericsson is to axe 250 jobs in the US, the Swedish telecoms equipment giant announced today. The jobs are to disappear over the next six-nine months at its Mobile Systems CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) unit. The division's HQ in San Diego, California will then close. Ericsson is to "simplify its Mobile Systems CDMA unit [to] streamline its organization to maintain industry leading efficiency and productivity within its operations". In February Ericsson announced the closure of a factory in Nynashamn, Sweden with the loss of 463 jobs. The factory makes base stations for mobile phone networks. Ericsson has almost halved its workforce from a peak of over 100,000 in 2001.® Related stories Sony Ericsson slips on stockpiled handsets Ericsson hacker jailed for three years Jobs cuts at Ericsson
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005
arrow pointing up

Apple updates iMac, eMac lines

Apple has updated its iMac and eMac consumer and education-oriented desktops, improving specifications and bundling Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' too. The new iMacs bump the desktops' G5-class PowerPC CPUs clock speeds to 2GHz, with an entry-level unit clocked at 1.8GHz. Apple is now building Wi-Fi (aka AirPort Extreme) into the machines, along with Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate. Gigabit Ethernet is standar. All three standard configurations now ship with 512MB of 400MHz DDR SDRAM, expandable to 2GB. As before, the two lower-end models are built around 17in LCDs, while the high-end box has a 20in display, with resolutions of 1440 x 900 and 1680 x 1050, respectively. All three machines sport a 128MB, AGP 8x ATI Radeon 9600 graphics sub-systems. Expansion comes courtesy of three USB 2.0 ports and two 400Mbps FireWire connectors. The low-end box contains a 160GB Serial ATA hard drive; the higher-end machines ship with a 250GB Serial ATA unit. All three drives spin at 7200rpm. The top two machines sport 8x DVD+R dual-layer, DVD+RW, DVD-R/RW, CD-RW drives; the 1.8GHz machine offers only DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical storage. The three machines are available in the US right now for $1299, $1499 and $1799, respectively. They have not been announced in the UK at time of writing. The eMac update sees the two education all-in-ones upgraded from a 1.25GHz G4-class processor to a 1.42GHz version. The top-end model now ships with 512MB of 333MHz DDR rather than 256MB, though both units' hard drives have been upgraded from 40GB and 80GB, respectively to 80GB and 160GB. Apple upgraded the graphics from a Radeon 9200 to a 9600, doubling the video RAM to 64MB while it was at it. The lower-specced machine retains the old DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, but the top-of-the-range eMac gets the same 8x dual-layer DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R/RW, CD-RW 'SuperDrive' as the new iMacs. The two versions cost $799 and $999, respectively. Again, there's no word yet on UK availability. ® Related stories PC dealer sues Apple over Tiger Apple takes desktop G5 line to 2.7GHz Book giant feels wrath of Jobs Newspaper shows Mac OS X running on Intel box Apple's Big Virus Apple UK's Bullring store to open for Tiger
Tony Smith, 04 May 2005

Mobile email hits the road

Mobile communications means different things to different people, but some common meaning is starting to gather momentum. It used to be the case that when you asked employees if they had mobile access to email they would say yes if they had a modem on their laptop and dialed in to a central server from a hotel room. Hardly immediate and continuous, but at least access from outside the office. When we surveyed over 5700 Reg readers at the beginning of the year, 24 per cent said their mobile use of communications technologies was limited to email, with 47 per cent saying they could access most of their in-house applications while on the road. The reality for many will still mean remote access from a laptop over Wi-Fi, cellular and broadband in addition to the humble modem, but the rise in popularity of the two-way pager-PDA format of the BlackBerry has changed forever the way that mobile email is perceived. The immediacy of mobile email in a handheld instant-on device delivers an alert with a quick preview so that decisions can be taken at any time of the day, no matter where the user is traveling. This gained rapid acceptance in the privileged few able to make the investment decision from positions of authority, but broad adoption to everyone else in the organization brings with it a number of challenges. The upfront issue is cost, and the second related consideration is, are we making the right choice of platform? Cost of airtime is a major issue. When we asked 240 managers in companies across Europe responsible for or actively involved in their companies mobile telecoms contracts, we found that average spend per user is increasing rapidly and a major concern, but over half of them were unsure as to what upper limit should be set on the monthly connection fees for mobile data. Whilst in general the results showed they would set higher limits for senior managers, still 17 per cent expected a limit of 100 or more Euros for other professionals. Multiplied up, these notional limits might be high, but the main cause for concern is the lack of predictability. All-you-can-eat tariffs address this aspect, but the un-obscured high level of fixed cost might unnerve any finance manager and the IT manager too, when the other likely result will be in a rise in email volume and support calls. In reality, the variable costs of data traffic will, like voice, over time and with effective corporate policies establish a regular and predictable usage pattern. Choosing the right platform might seem like a simple option – it's BlackBerry right? Push email from the enterprise into the pocket with an all embracing solution encompassing the push service, device and mobile email software. A good fit for some, but not necessarily for all. Despite the reduction in alternatives from some consolidation among mobile email software vendors, there are a number of acceptable software solutions which 'push' email to a wide choice of mobile device platforms suitable for email. Choice of mobile device is an important consideration for users, but there are other considerations for the business – will the device be used only for email and voice communication or a platform for other types of mobile applications? No wonder over 55 per cent found determining which platform or device standard to adopt to be the largest challenge when considering broad mobile email access from phones or other handhelds. There's also how the mobile device integrates into the rest of the IT infrastructure. Many companies have made significant strategic investments in email servers, groupware products and other applications that will all benefit from the immediacy of access – no longer just remote dialup, but into the palm of the employee. They will be looking to extend the value of this investment, not replace it. For them the question is not so much whether broad access to mobile email is the ultimate solution, or just a step on the way. One thing's for sure, with over half of those surveyed expecting mobile email to become a standard facility offered to all or most mobile phone users, it's a step many will be contemplating. For a closer look at some of the considerations, read our report into Mobile Email Momentum. Copyright © 2005, Related stories Nokia 7710 smart phone Smart phones make inroads in business Mobile email consolidation kicks off
Rob Bamforth, 04 May 2005

Sirius jumps on podcast bandwagon

US Sirius Satellite Radio is latching onto the "podcasting" phenomenon, launching a daily four-hour show featuring podcast, self-published syndicated radio shows. The new show, broadcast every weekday from 13 May, will be hosted by Adam Curry, the former MTV deejay who helped create technological tools for podcasting. Curry - in conjunction with Ron Bloom - is developing a virtual podcast studio for Windows. A public beta release is expected soon. Adam Curry's PodShow will be broadcast on Sirius channel 148, a commercial talk-radio station. Curry already airs a radio show called Daily Source Code from Guildford, UK. The move by Sirius comes just days after Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting announced it will change its struggling talk station in San Francisco, KYCY-AM 1550, to an all-podcast format. ® Related stories Harvard Man in lesbian mix-up wants satire clearly labeled Spectrum-starved US prepares to feast Internet killed the short wave BBC Radio Star
Jan Libbenga, 04 May 2005

AT&T aims VoIP at business

AT&T is offering a bunch of Voice over Internet Protocol services to business customers. The network-based service is aimed at enterprise customers with remote locations and smaller businesses. The company is launching voice services immediately and will offer conferencing and messaging shortly. Startups like Skype and tech companies like AOL have been quick to embrace the technology. Skype claims 100m downloads of its software which allows Voip calls. AT&T’s service, branded DNA, will be rolled out to a limited number of customers in the next few months before a wider roll-out. There will be a choice of payment plans for the new service. Residential VoIP users in the US will grow from three million today to 27m by the end of 2009, IDC, the tech analyst firm, forecasts. AT&T says the service will follow standards and work with various IP phones including some models from Cisco and Polycomm. More here. ® Related stories AOL launches VoIP service US to embrace VoIP KPN to axe 1,750 jobs a year
John Oates, 04 May 2005

IBM offers to settle hard drive action class action

IBM has offered to settle a class action lawsuit brought against it by owners of Deskstar 75GXP hard drives. The suits against the company allege that Deskstar drive in question couldn't reliably store or retrieve data. They also accuse IBM of making "false and inaccurate statements and representations concerning the reliability of these hard disk drives". In the settlement notice, IBM continues to deny all the allegations against it: "IBM has vigorously denied, and continues to deny, all liability with respect to any and all of the causes of action, facts and claims alleged in the Action and the other similar actions, and denies that it has engaged in any wrongdoing." It is making the settlement offer, it says, after weighing the risks and potential costs of continuing to defend the suits. The saga began back in 2001, when Michael T. Granito, Jr. filed a class action lawsuit against the company. He outlined the problems he encountered in his official complaint: "Contrary to IBM representations, the Deskstar 75GXP is defectively designed and/or manufactured such that it is not a reliable HDD and fails to function properly. When the defect manifests by the sudden occurrence of a loud clicking or scratching noise, the Deskstar 75GXP stops operating and 'crashes.' The result of the crash is the irreversible and permanent loss of data and software programs installed on the Deskstar". Under the terms of the proffered deal, anyone who suffered a documented hard drive failure can put in a claim for $100 in compensation, slightly more than the $45 per drive offered to owners of misbehaving Fujitsu drives. Anyone who bought a qualifying drive that did not fail in the properly documented way can chose between 25 CD-ROMs or a 15 per cent discount certificate against a future IBM purchase. Generous souls. You qualify for the settlement if you bought a faulty Deskstar 75GXP hard drive in the US, either on its own or as part of a system between 15 March and the date of the settlement. Resellers and distributors do not qualify. The terms of the court order also require IBM to inform directly as many qualifying Deskstar 75GXP owners as possible, and to take out an advert in PC World, PC Magazine and USA Today that outlines the details of the settlement. If the settlement is deemed fair and given court approval - any objections to it must be filed with the court by 17 June 2005 - then all the pending actions against IBM will be dismissed. Customers have until 29 August 2005 to fill in and return the necessary claim forms, which are on the web here (pdf). ® Related stories Fujitsu HDD fiasco to end in $42.5m pay-out Deskstar 75GXP: the pain continues How to sue IBM in three easy steps
Lucy Sherriff, 04 May 2005

Ireland's first internet-only bank opens

RaboDirect, a subsidiary of the Dutch online bank Rabobank, launched Ireland's first completely online bank yesterday. The Dutch banking giant, which entered the Irish market in 1994 through an office in the Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC), made its mark on the Irish market when it bought ACC Bank in 2002. The bank will target Irish consumers with a purely internet bank, called RaboDirect.ie, which will initially offer a no-fee, no-charge deposit account with interest rates of three per cent - almost 10 times the standard rate, the bank said. There will be no minimum or maximum deposit and no penalties for early withdrawals. The bank will also offer Irish consumers the chance to invest in the managed funds market, with accounts with Robeco and Merrill Lynch that can be opened with around €100. Advertising itself as a "straight talking" bank, RaboDirect's customer care centre will be based in Charlemont Place in Dublin 2 with opening hours of from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. To make lodgements customers can transfer their funds from their primary bank account to their RaboDirect savings account. Likewise, to make a withdrawal, customers can electronically transfer funds from their RaboDirect account to any other Irish bank account. RaboDirect has also been quick to stress the security of its online banking offering. Online transactions with RaboDirect use a security system called the Digipass, which operates in such a way that the customer's online access code changes every 36 seconds. This type of system is in common usage worldwide but up until this point had not been available in Ireland, the bank said. In launching in Ireland the bank hopes to target what it calls "a clear gap between the financial products and services currently available and what the public want," said Greg McAweeney, general manager of RaboDirect, speaking at the launch. "As a virtual bank without the overheads of the more traditional bricks and mortar banks, we have many distinct advantages, which underpin our ability to consistently offer a higher rate without penalties, fees or charges. Our aim is to be the best buy by focusing on a competitive rate as well as being convenient, simple and transparent. In addition since we are not publicly quoted we are not shareholder driven and as a result all profits go into reserves, which in turn can be used to pay top level interest rates," McAweeney added. Rabobank, which has been in operation for 10 years, has 1.9m customers in the Netherlands and 36,000 people with combined savings of more than €900m in Belgium. Copyright © 2005, ENN Related stories Brits fall prey to phishing Trojan phishing suspect hauled in Cops warn of internet fraud
Deirdre McArdle, 04 May 2005

US reveals intellectual property blacklist

The US has published a blacklist of those of its trading partners that are most ineffective when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs). The "Special 301" report from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) fingers Ukraine as the worst offender. The report, published annually by the Office of the USTR, identifies those countries that deny adequate and effective protection for IPRs or deny fair and equitable market access for those that rely on intellectual property protection. It places countries into a hierarchy of categories, with the ranking of Priority Foreign Country reserved for the worst situations ? described by the USTR as "countries that fail to enter into good faith negotiations or make significant progress in bilateral or multilateral negotiations to provide adequate and effective protection of IPR". Such nations face the possible threat of trade sanctions. Currently, the Ukraine is the only country in the category, and is subject to sanctions valued at $75m. The second highest ranking is the Priority Watch List, followed by the Watch List. Countries are placed on these Lists when there are particular problems in that country with respect to IPR protection, enforcement, or market access for those relying on intellectual property. This year's report puts 14 US trading partners on the Priority Watch List: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela. Thirty-six trading partners have been placed on the Watch List, meriting bilateral attention to address the underlying IPR problems: Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belarus, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, European Union, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The report also announced the results of a special Out-of-Cycle Review of China's intellectual property regime, concluding that infringement levels remain unacceptably high throughout China, in spite of Beijing's efforts to reduce them. "This year, we are elevating China to the Priority Watch List for failure to effectively protect intellectual property rights and to meet its commitment to significantly reduce infringement levels, despite efforts by China's senior leadership to do so," said Acting US Trade Representative Peter Allgeier. "China must take action to address rampant piracy and counterfeiting, including increasing the number of criminal IPR cases and further opening its market to legitimate copyright and other goods." Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related stories Ex-Sun VP guns for IP violations Movie industry settles DVD chips case Congress moots mandatory DRM scheme
OUT-LAW.COM, 04 May 2005
For Sale sign detail

ASE factory blaze impact 'limited'

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering's Chungli chip packaging and testing plant caught fire on Sunday, but most of the company's customers, including Intel, ATI and Nvidia appear to suffered more inconvenience than harm. The fire broke out at the plant at 2pm, following what the company believes was a boiler explosion, ASE said this week. The fire was contained within two hours. Five ASE employees, one firefighter and two employees of outside contractors suffered minor injuries and received medical attention. The plant was not operational on the day of the fire. Fire and smoke damage extended beyond the second-floor start of the blaze, all of which will need clearing once the extent of the damage has been assessed and any investigation into the fire's cause has been completed. ASE said the Chungli plant accounts for ten per cent of its output, and any production shortfall arising from the fire would be picked up by the company's other facilities in the region. Among ASE's customers potentially affected by the incident are Intel, Nvidia, ATI and VIA. Sources from all four companies, cited by DigiTimes, claimed the impact would be "limited", largely because most of the work ASE does for them takes place in other plants. However, Bluetooth chip maker CSR this week said the fire may have destroyed up to ten days' worth of work, but again, packaging and testing of CSR products was also underway at other ASE facilities, which, presumably being suitably validated, will make production transfer relatively straightforward. CSR is insured against such losses. In ATI's case, Credit Suisse First Boston this week claimed the impact of the fire could be "material" as the blaze tightens an "already short" supply of flip-chip substrates. "The combination of tight supply and a four- to six-week substrate cycle time could disrupt ATI's high-end shipments through at least June," CSFB said, Forbes.com reports. "Based on 1.5m units per month affected at a $30-35 average selling price, ATI's substrates would impact up to $50m revenue per month." That said, the relative sizes of ATI's inventory and product held by ASE could mitigate the impact, CSFB noted. ® Related stories AMD cheers govt calls to end 'single-vendor' IT tenders AMD trims Sempron, Athlon 64 prices Intel prunes 'Centrino 2' prices World chip sales continue to rise Intel's Eastern focus prompts concern in English channel Intel snatches mobile graphics lead from ATI World chip glut halved in Q1
Tony Smith, 04 May 2005
homeless man with sign

Spyware scumbags make $2bn a year

Spyware ­ invasive programs that generate pop-ups, hijack home pages, redirect searches and poison DNS files ­ generates an estimated $2bn in revenue a year1, according to a study by anti-spyware firm Webroot. It estimates the surreptitious spyware and adware market "may be approaching 25 per cent" of the already-established market of online advertising. As we've noted before, it's hard to square Webroot's $2n estimate with the observable size of adware market. Webroot's This calculation assumes a uniform distribution of spyware, among other statistical sins. Estimates on the damage caused by computer viruses are a notoriously inexact science. The same seems to apply to looking at the adware market. SpyAudit In the first quarter of 2005, 88 per cent of scans using Webroot's SpyAudit software found some form of unwanted program (Trojan, system monitor, cookie or adware) on consumer computers. The vast majority of corporate PCs (87 per cent) also harboured undesirable programs or cookies. Excluding cookies, more than 55 per cent of corporate PCs contained unwanted programs. Infested consumer PCs contained an average of 7.2 non-cookie infections. Cookies annoy some people but they are nowhere near as serious a problem as key=logging or Trojan horse programs. System monitor (key logger programs) were found in seven per cent of consumer and enterprise PCs scanned using Webroot's software, down from 19 per cent in Q4 2004. Trojan horse programs were found on 19 per cent of consumer PCs and seven per cent of enterprise PCs, unchanged from Q4 2004. Consumer sites 'riddled' with spyware Webroot's data comes from analysis of stats from Webroot's consumer and corporate SpyAudit tools and from online research culled by Phileas, Webroot's automated spyware research system. Contrary to the perceived wisdom that spyware comes only from a limited number of dodgy online porn and warez sites, Phileas identified 4,294 sites (with almost 90,000 pages) containing some form of spyware. Webroot's State of Spyware report names and shames the top ten most significant emerging spyware and adware threats based on detection, as well as potential impact. CoolWebSearch, an infamous piece of adware with over 100 different variants, was dubbed the top threat. GAIN and 180search Assistant were the next two most prevalent nuisances. ® 1 Webroot's figure for the value of the spyware market comes from multiplying the average number of pieces of adware per machines (4.38 - according to Webroot) times the number of active users on the net (290m - according to Nielsen Netratings) times the value of each adware installation per year ($2.25 - a figure derived Claria's filing that it made $90m a year from 40m "users"). Related links Webroot's State of Spyware report (registration required) Related stories Adware-infected PCs net slimeware firms $3 a pop Anti-spyware group collapses Drive-by Trojans exploit browser flaws
John Leyden, 04 May 2005

eBay customer sends menacing emails to top execs

A Romanian-born man has pleaded guilty to sending threatening emails to top execs at eBay. In emails sent to chief exec Meg Whitman and chairman Pierre Omidyar, Florin Horicianu, 37, said he would "haunt and hurt them and their families and that he would locate them anywhere". Horicianu sent the threatening emails following a dispute with the giant online auction site. He also sent emails demanding $800,000 from the company, reports AP. The US Attorney for the Northern District of California said the New York man yesterday pleaded guilty today to "two counts of transmitting threatening interstate communications to two eBay officials". He sent the emails from the Easy Internet Café in New York City in May last year. Horicianu is due to be sentenced in September and faces up to five years behind bars and a $250,000 fine. ® Related stories eBayer pleads guilty to 'anthrax' scare eBay's Whitman, Omidyar settle share spinning suit Web scammers sell Indian PM's house to American Investors unmoved by eBay results
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005

Edenbrook secures £1m VC funds

Software consultancy Edenbrook is getting a £1m investment from venture capitalists Elderstreet. Edenbrook will use the money to finance its growth plans, both organically and through acquisition. It is kicking off by buying Moliere, a Manchester-based consultancy which employs 41 people. Edenbrook names Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and SAP as core technology competencies. More here. ® Related stories Bono ditches Lara Croft Intel invests in E Ink Colourful US PC company calls it quits
John Oates, 04 May 2005
arrow pointing up

Licence models: time for change

CommentComment IT systems have developed with nearly unbelievable speed over the last twenty years - at least at a technological level. However, some factors have not kept pace and need to change. The way in which software is licensed demands root and branch alterations. The majority of the licensing models in use today date back two decades or more to a time when IT systems were, on the whole, pretty straightforward, relatively well understood and, more importantly, easy to calibrate and "measure". The licence models that now underpin the business of most independent software vendors (ISVs) reflect the IT infrastructure of past decades and ways of working that are now changing beyond recognition. In particular, the licences used to validate the use of commercial software assume that the IT systems on which the software will run is "fixed" in terms of its scale, and that the organisation utilising the software has relatively stable usage of the software. Today's IT is rapidly moving away from these core assumptions. This is particularly clear when one considers the impact that "virtualisation" technologies are having on basic IT flexibility. Virtual solutions for servers, storage and networking are now capable of providing levels of usage flexibility undreamed of just a few years ago, perhaps with the honourable exception of the mainframe platform. These virtualisation technologies and advances in the underlying hardware platforms (both server and storage) make it possible to scale systems rapidly in response to changing demands for service. However, current commercial software vendors usually require that the organisation possesses sufficient licences, scaled to cover peak demands, regardless of whether the peak demand lasts for only a few days or weeks. The fact that software licences usually account for the majority of the capitalised costs of a system may render this newfound infrastructure flexibility irrelevant, unless the licensing models change to reflect this elasticity. IT Infrastructure flexibility, without software licensing and charging flexibility, will deliver only a small fraction of the undoubted benefits available. There will still be organisations that wish to acquire the rights to run software using traditional licensing models and enterprise agreements. However, there is a need to supplement these with options that deliver licensing flexibility and / or licensing simplification. Some vendors have already started to address these issues. CA makes its entire mainframe software portfolio available on "flexible" terms, while Sun Microsystems offers some software stacks on "per employee per year" conditions. It is now time for ISVs, large and small, to offer new licence conditions that reflect the increasing need for flexibility in software usage. Without new software models, IT flexibility will be slow to deliver tangible business benefits, and ISVs will inhibit their own ability to grow licence revenues associated with new advances in IT infrastructure capabilities. It is interesting to note that the open source movement may, quite by chance, have kick-started the search for new licence models, as its supporters are concerned far more with generating revenues based on ongoing usage and support, frequently without a big upfront acquisition cost. We may be heading back towards the monthly usage fee model that existed on the first commercial computers of all - mainframes. Incidentally, the demands of flexible software licensing can be satisfied only where excellent software asset management is in place. Copyright © 2005, IT-Director.com Related stories Veritas preps secret weapon to ease licensing horror AMD tells software companies to re-think dual core Ingram Micro signs CA for software licensing gig
Tony Lock, 04 May 2005

IE-only sites 'useful as chocolate teapot'

LettersLetters This week you have mostly been getting upset about web designers and their occasional reluctance to design browser independent sites. The particular site that has you up in arms is a new IT brokerage site, which says it aims to put contractors in touch with contracts. All you need to do is register. Except that it turns out that you can't, unless you are using IE: I'm sure that the Resource Broker will provide a useful service. But, yet again I find a site that requires MS Internet Explorer. See here. I can't help feeling that, for a site that purports to offer services to the IT industry, this indicates a weak service, or at least a lazy approach to preparing the web site. IE is definitely not the only popular browser, and, considering the recent news about Firefox gaining market share and worries over IE security (groundless or not), I would think there are good reasons for making sure a site is compatible with many browsers. I can't think of any reason why the service described your article should require a web site that will only work with a particular browser. Even if IE were the browser of choice on all platforms, I'd wonder about what kind of content would require a particular browser. Tim Perhaps they need a consultant's help to write a browser-independent site. An excerpt from the front page, as seen through Firefox: Mozilla FireFox Users We are pleased to announce that The Resource Broker will soon support Mozilla FireFox. Kindly use Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later until the site is fully updated. ...and they're kind enough to point Mac users to the Apple site, to download IE. Oh, and there's *no way* to get past that front page to the rest of the site unless you're using IE. No "my browser hasn't been anointed by Microsoft, but I still want to help you make money from me" button. I tried it with both IE 5.5 (Mac) and Firefox with the UserAgent switched. Of course, if they hadn't commented-out the JavaScript function in the registration page that allows you to submit the details and move onto the next page, it might have been possible for new registrants to join up... They might have opened their doors, but they didn't remove the crowd barriers! Jon The resource broker isn't going to get much usage by anyone who isn't a Microsoft user as the site only supports IE5.5 and above. About as useful as a chocolate teapot!!! Ciaran 10% For doing almost nothing? He's having a laugh. Why pay 10% for someone who can't even get a website to work on a decent browser. My agent is cheaper and they take me out to lunch! Hamish What a tragedy. Your headline should read "Online marketplace for computer contractors closes doors". Unless you're stupid enough to use IE... If this organization is supposed to be representing the computer industry, how come you can only use the service with IE? Amateurs. Philip This is a site for technical people.......and they only support Microsoft IE? Quite laughable. How not to make an impression on technical resources to join. Kevin "We are pleased to announce that The Resource Broker will soon support Mozilla FireFox. Kindly use Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later until the site is fully updated." Now how pants is that? What kind of self respecting modern website is coded in such a way as to only support one browser ... nnngh! Alain Is this a shameless plug by The Register? I say this as there are already many sites (for example jobserve.com, ITjobboard.com, freelancers.net, noagenciesplease.com) claiming to link the contractor (me) and the contract/resource requirement, so how is this one different? Well I'll tell you, this one wants you to use IE. "Mozilla FireFox Users We are pleased to announce that The Resource Broker will soon support Mozilla FireFox. Kindly use Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later until the site is fully updated." Anyone who claims to be in touch with IT in any way should never let a site go live without full browser support. Especially if it is aimed at IT people... I only use IE to test a site in safe environment. Using it in the open web is like playing Russian roulette with one empty chamber, rather than all but one! Come on, these are just amateurs who bribed you with a couple pints aren't they. Jeremy John would like to make it known that he is no shill, and that it takes at least three pints for him to be persuaded of a story's merit. Update: Resource Broker has since contacted us and would like to make it known that their site is now fully compatible with Mozilla Firefox, and has been since two weeks from launch. eBay launched in Poland this week. But rather than loud fanfares of welcome for the online auctioneers, the Polish section of El Reg's readership counts itself particularly unimpressed: about ebay's entry in Poland, it was (is?) disastrous. For the first few days web page was almost inaccessible because of load. Then because of free registration process not requiring any "real life" confirmation thousands of fake/illegal/only for reputation auctions followed. Currently site lacks many important features we grew to use in other auction sites (aukcje24.pl swistak.pl allegro.pl). I hope they get better but it currently looks like they took "there in communist country they'll be glad to get any service, they do all their trading on flea-markets to this date" :) regards Tomasz NASA has again delayed the Shuttle's return to flight, saying that it needs to carry out further safety checks and tests. Fair enough, you might say, given that Shuttle was grounded after the loss of the Shuttle Columbia. But the shuttle programme has its critics too: I've seen NASA go from one extreme to the other. From the first John Glenn launch on a Atlas rocket that had failed more than it had worked, to a total halt in manned space flight, twice, on a system that was outdated the day of its first launch. NASA, as associated with the man in space initiative, has been treading water for over 25 years. Making something that was hamstrung by congress from the get-go better, but it has never met its original criteria; that being a inexpensive, reusable, and dependable manned craft; has never been met by the "shuttle", but has continually siphoned funds from any possible replacement. The death of less than 100 people over a period of over 55 years is more important than the death of a couple or few thousand in the Iraq War, or even the number of highway deaths in a year. It's even more sad when you take into account how the "engineers" and "astronauts" feel about it. GDoC Google got a few backs up with its proposed library indexing project. The French, in particular, have been critical. You are also less than impressed with some of Google's non-search exploits: Ooh ! Google are going to put some books online, sometime, maybe, real soon now. If it's as fast as the Gmail roll out, or as spiffy as Google maps, I won't be getting any more excited. In the meantime, the French actually have a non-vapourware, functioning, online National library thingy. Clearly anti-American though, it's nearly all in French. The bastards! It's at http://gallica.bnf.fr Angus Some of you didn't like the reference to the Library of Babel in our original piece: You said: "In The Library Of Babel Argentinean erudite Jorge Luis Borges proposed the idea of a boundless athenaeum, where man could find any book at will." What? That wasn't it at all. In the story the library consists of a collection of books representing every possible combination of characters within books of a certain size, apparently arranged randomly. Aside from being a fascinating illustration of some principles of combinatorics, the story dealt with the relationship between the author and the reader, like so many Borges tales. In this case, the author is essentially lacking, the books and the library thus are meaningless, leaving the readers (the librarians in the story) to supply the meaning themselves. In particular, a person in this world cannot find any book at will; he has to examine the books presented to him and decide whether they have meaning, in his language or anybody else's. The story also had some interesting insights on publishing aspects such as typographical errors. Instant location of particular books didn't enter in to it at all. Paul A mixed response to the not-for-profit plans of Ndiyo to use ultra-thin-clients to bridge the ol' digital divide: What a damn fine idea. About time thin clients really were thin clients. Single chip in a TV or Monitor? Superb plan! 10/100/1000Mbit to the home isn't too far in the future (relatively speaking) - we won't have PC's at home, we'll run apps centrally at our ISP's. For those who just email or surf (I'm thinking my parents fit quite nicely into that demographic) what's the point in sticking several hundred pounds worth of gear on a desk at home when you can spend under a hundred and do the same thing without the pain of the "there's a box on the screen says something about a hard drive - what should I do?" phone calls at 10 o'clock at night when the damn thing goes wrong. Vive la thin client! I'll keep a full PC myself, of course ... ahem ... Rob Hello, Call me long in the tooth, but isn't all this thin client stuff just harking back to the days of X terminals? Isn't this basically just re-inventing all that "old fashioned" stuff and adding a couple of whistles? Just why did X terminals fall out of favour anyway? After all, the requisite hardware/software for an X terminal can't amount to more than £70's worth these days. Yours, living in the past, Matthew Last week we reported on Swedish research that claimed moderate amounts of alcohol could actually improve, rather than impair brain function. Some of you roused yourselves from celebratory hangovers and managed to put fingers to keyboards to give us your tuppence's worth on this idea: Hi, Following on from your news story that booze makes you clever This is something I've known all along. According to the 'Survival of the fittest' theory, the most unfit, slowest, or otherwise incapacitated member of any group will be first to meet its maker in a life or death situation (as in the lions chasing gazelles documentary footage etc). Therefore it stands to reason that since Alcohol kills brain cells, it's the rubbish slow ones that die off first. Therefore, the more you drink, the cleverer you get (or so it seems at the time)! So there it is. Quid Pro Quo (or something) Now it all makes sense. Well I'm off now to do some serious drinking...er... I mean.. thinking! TaTa Andrew Last one, now. We had a cracking flame last week accusing our very own Lester Haines of racism, on the grounds that he'd used the word Cholo, we think. Or was it because he thought the company had named itself after an old game. We've never been 100 per cent sure. The story was prompted by the discovery of an IT outfit in Bristol calling itself Cholo Consultancy, and the amusement generated when the Urban dictionary revealed Cholo to be slang for a particular type of hispanic gang member. We just liked the mental image, OK? Well, this week Chaz from the Cholo Consultancy writes: No idea why your reader is so sure how we came to be named, I would have thought we'd have a better idea about that! Well, we loved the article ourselves. Sadly it's a bit more Nathan Barley-esque around here than Mexican wife-beating gangsters. You got that mofos? I don't wanna have t'come around there and open a can o' whoop-ass on y'all. Adios amigos! Chaz Splendid. And with that, we leave you, only to return on Friday with more of your musings. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 04 May 2005

BEA to triple in size

AnalysisAnalysis According to Alfred Chuang, chairman and CEO, BEA plans to triple in size over the next three or so years, going from a $1bn company to $3bn. For a well-established company this is an aggressive target; so why does he think it can be done? The simple maths are that BEA has about 10 per cent of the total application infrastructure market and intends to increase that share, but that is market is not growing at a rate that will provide the tripling effect. Chuang sees the real growth coming from a new market sector called service infrastructure. The prediction for this sector is that it will be twice the size of application infrastructure within three years; if BEA gets its 'rightful' share of this sector that will enable the tripling in size. Having set this simple corporate goal, what are BEA's plans to execute? They can be categorised as: An Architecture New and improved products and service A roadmap New marketing Increased selling Improved delivery capability The architecture is the vital part as it drives the rest. The key message from the architecture is that the industry is moving away from traditional Application Development to Composite Application creation - that is, from coding and compiling to composition and configuration. To do this requires a Service Infrastructure which is made up of: Message Services (Quicksilver) Composite data management (Liquid data) Security Services (Enterprise security) Process orchestration (Process) User Interaction (Portal) All of which exist already to a greater or lesser extent, but to enable the effective creation of composite applications requires an Integrated Composition Environment (ICE). An ICE is the equivalent of the integrated development environment(IDE) for application development, but it goes further as it is involved in the move into production, and the monitoring and control of the production environment, as well as the development phase. With Composite Applications the division between development and production is much more fluid because it needs to be able to change in time with the requirements of an agile enterprise. BEA will bring all the products in this space together under the codename 'Freeflow'. Expect to see announcements related to Freeflow starting in the summer and going through 2006. Obviously, this is closely related to the general industry hype around Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and BEA is increasing the consultancy and services to support SOA. One of the interesting initiatives in this area is an SOA Readiness Self Assessment, which can be taken free of charge on the BEA website. The assessment takes a holistic view of readiness by making it clear that technology is only a part of SOA and probably the easier area to make ready. BEA divides the readiness into six areas: Business Strategy and Process Architecture Building Blocks Projects and Applications Organisation and Governance Cost and Benefits This is a very good set of discussion areas; it shows that if SOA is going to be successfully deployed, putting a bit of software in is only a sixth or less of the effort. I have not talked about BEA's marketing or sales as these are being finalised but expect this to become more public in the summer. So will the company treble in size? There appears to be a credible strategy and we will just have to see if the tactics based on the strategy will actually deliver. Growing any company that quickly is a challenge, let alone one as big as BEA, but there is little doubt that it will grow significantly. I think that however successful it is, it will have a beneficial effect on the whole of this market area, as other big players react and respond. Copyright © 2005, IT-Analysis.com Related stories BEA signs UK public sector MoU 2005: huge turbulence in IT market Tough times for BEA
Peter Abrahams, 04 May 2005

Claranet closer to VIA buyout

Claranet has taken another step forward in its bid to acquire VIA NET.WORKS. The UK ISP has "executed definitive agreements for the sale of all the company's operations to Claranet" for $26.4m in cash. Claranet has also agreed to sub VIA with a loan of up to $7m to help the Europe and US-based business ISP carry on trading until the transaction is complete. Confirmation that the deal is proceeding follows the publication of a letter of intent between Claranet and VIA on April 11. VIA had sought urgent financial assistance after warning that it faced an "urgent liquidity problem". Claranet's $26.4m will buy it all of VIA's European and US businesses, including its brands VIA NET.WORKS, Amen and PSINet Europe. The deal also means that VIA "remains responsible for its corporate headquarters staff, other than those employees offered employment by Claranet, and all liabilities and expenses of the group". Indeed, staffing issues remain a problem after staff at VIA's web host Amen went on strike following news of the proposed acquisition. In an open letter to Claranet boss Charles Nasser, striking workers said they still hadn't had a face-to-face meeting to discuss their concerns about future employment and pleaded with him to open negotiations. A senior spokesman for Claranet said the company hoped to meet all VIA employees over the next couple of weeks, but was not in a position to comment further. He told us: "The deal has not gone through yet and don't have any operational control of the company." ® Related stories Claranet rejects 'cold feet' claims over VIA deal Backlog builds as Amen strike bites Amenworld workers strike over proposed VIA sale Claranet to buy VIA NET.WORKS
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005

SCL zooms around Silverstone

SCL, the Surbiton-based components distie, has added Silverstone cases to its vendor roster. Silverstone is from Taiwan and is best known for its aluminium alloy computer cases. It also makes power supplies, case fans and computer cases. SCL is Silverstone's second UK distie, joining CJC Computers on the starting block. ®
Team Register, 04 May 2005

Sony Everquest games exchange reviled

Sony's trading platform could change character of gaming A number of people have written into Faultline, pointing out the level of anger and frustration that has accompanied Sony's decision to open an asset exchange website for items that improve players' standing in its EverQuest massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Simply put, most players would prefer the idea that rather than promoting the idea of buying advanced characters, weapons and in-game treasure, Sony instead used its technology to block the practice. Many are accusing Sony of betraying the community, and using the exchange to simply make more money out of the players. At the moment there are many existing - some might say shady - trading exchanges that buy and sell characters without the permission of the game operator. These include IGE and Yantis. It must be understood that MMORPGs are not the same as Playstation platform games based on Sony hardware. Although they can now be played on PS2s, originally a PC was required to play EverQuest, along with a host of other, similar games. Players pay anything up to $20 a month and have to earn points by reaching certain levels and collecting items as they go. Most Far Eastern sites are thought to employ cheap labor working in concert to reach large amounts of treasure swiftly, working in their chosen roles, ganging up on loners and ruining the game for lots of other players. The more successful this is, the fewer places gamers can find to play genuinely among themselves. Already this trading practice has drawn estimated sales of $100m-$800m annually. These trades are in breach of most online games' End User License Agreements, but the servers are not set up with sufficient security to stop players registering, building up a character and handing it over to someone else. In the words of one astute gamer, "It really is disheartening to see 20 macro'd bots harvesting everything in an entire zone, dominating crafting resources on the server in order to manipulate the prices of items and always getting in the way of the rest of us." Effectively Sony is admitting that it can see now way out, except that by managing the sale of characters, it can ensure that no-one is subject to credit card or other fraud. Right now Sony is saying that it will not artificially create any characters for resale, but they have raised the suspicions of many players that they won't be able to tell if a character has been created by Sony or built up by a player, and that the purity of the game is altered by novices coming in at such an advanced and powerful state of play. From the business point of view anything that is learned in the highly critical area of MMORPGs can be transferred to the more generic world of Playstation games, and to a certain extent Sony uses one as an experimentation area for the other. Roleplaying games are not particularly popular with PS2 players, but the concept of acquiring strength and weapons throughout a game is more or less universal. A number of game producing executives have gone on file this week saying that this is one of the worst decisions in the history of gaming, describing it as the entertainment version of day trading. But then again none of them have made any suggestions about just how to block the activity. So far the Sony service is only for EverQuest 2 itself, when played on the PC, and it is a trial running on only some of the EverQuest servers, not all. Also last week we gave the impression that Sony might offer this service on games it doesn't own. By that we meant that if it does shift the concept from MMORPG to Playstation, on this platform it has virtual control of all the publishers that offer services on Playstation. We didn't mean that Sony would offer exchanges services to other MMORPG games without an agreement with the publisher. More likely it will share its results with other publishers in the hope that it might offer such a service with their approval. It would need to be integrated into their servers and that might only be achieved on a profit sharing basis with the game owner, which is pretty unlikely given the fact that they are Sony rivals. Insiders tell us that the real reason for Sony offering this service is to cut down on the 40 per cent plus of customer service calls that take up most of the helpdesk time on the subject of "scammed" character sales, where someone has pretended to sell a character and has just taken the money and not delivered or delivered less than was promised. The truth is that on the new exchange Sony won't even be able to set the prices on these characters, so the top-end $500 sales will still be there, and with the semi-official sanction placed on it by Sony, it may mean that many times more players come to think that the activity is OK. If Sony accompanies this move with a technical attack on the pirate exchanges (it is in its interest to do so) then perhaps the mercenary black market companies may disappear, which is the only blessing that players themselves can see right now. 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 Sony's trading platform could change character of gaming Gamers get greater access to pizza Property tycoon buys fantasy island
Faultline, 04 May 2005

Seagate 400GB Pushbutton Backup HDD

ReviewReview With hard drive capacities increasing at an exponential rate backing up your PC has become an increasingly difficult task. As far as capacities go, Hitachi is in the lead at the moment, thanks to its recently announced 500GB drive. The Seagate 400GB Pushbutton Backup external hard drive might not be able to back up the Hitachi monster drive, but it should be ample for most of us, writes Lars-Goran Nilsson.
Trusted Reviews, 04 May 2005

Billing snafu hits Bulldog

Bulldog has blamed a "hiccup with its billing system" for a delay in collecting subscription fees. Some punters of the broadband ISP had originally received an email informing them that their payment had been declined and failure to act could lead to an interruption of their service. Shortly after, Bulldog issued an email saying that the previous email had been sent in error and that broadband accounts would "not be put on hold". A third email sent last week explained: "For your information we are writing to let you know that there has been a delay in your April invoice being created. We do apologise for any inconvenience and hope to have an invoice to you for this period by mid May." A spokeswoman for the Cable & Wireless-owned ISP said a new billing process had experienced teething issues resulting in a "hiccup with the billing system". However, she explained that only a tiny number of customers - around 100 - were affected. Separately, a disgruntled customer has set up a forum - Bulldog Hell - for Bulldog customers to "voice their opinion publicly" about the service. A spokeswoman for Bulldog told us: "If people have issues then they should contact us direct or use the official bulldog forum." ® Related stories Bulldog to extend reach of unbundled broadband Bulldog service suffers 'performance issue' Coming months 'critical for LLU' Bulldog to resubmit BT complaint Carve up BT, says Energis boss
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005

BT buys Cisco reseller

BT has snapped up SkyNet Systems Limited (SkyNet), a leading Cisco-only dealer, to bolster its data networking services. The UK's monster telco refused to say how much it paid for the company but it's understood to be somewhere between £10m and £20m. No jobs will be lost as part of the acquisition. Based near Oxford, SkyNet provides "LAN solutions" particularly to the education, health, local government and media sectors. The reseller employs 59 people and for the year to the end of March generated turnover of £21.7m and an operating profit of £1.5m. In a statement, BT's Tom Craig said the deal is part of its strategy "to extend our capability and market coverage in key technologies such as IP telephony, wireless networking and security". The company is to be renamed BTSkyNet. ® Related stories BT completes Radianz buy-out Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal Marconi mulls bleak future following BT bombshell
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005

Bluetooth to evolve via UWB

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group - the body that controls the wireless connectivity standard - has formally chosen ultrawideband as the foundation for future versions of the technology. It comes as no great surprise. Over a year ago, at Intel Developer Forum, it was made clear that Bluetooth would ultimately establish itself as yet another connectivity protocol sitting on top of a UWB radio, much as USB and FireWire are already being adapted for wireless operation. UWB has always been seen as a rival wireless technology to Bluetooth, since both a designed to handle short-range data transfers. If you can do 400Mbps USB wirelessly, why use the slower Bluetooth specification. Because, as Intel Enterprise Group chief Pat Gelsinger said in February 2004, there are rather a lot of Bluetooth devices out there. "Millions and millions" of Bluetooth devices have shipped, he told The Register, "Over time, UWB could replace Bluetooth," he added, "but it's way, way off. Bluetooth has been shipping for five years and it will ship for five or ten more - it's a very successful technology." It's also something that works the world over, which is not true of UWB. In many parts of the world, the spectrum in which UWB operates is not open for anyone to use. Until its spectrum becomes another unlicensed band, UWB will find it hard to achieve the ubiquity that many of the protocols that sit on top of it have achieved. Today, Bluetooth is incompatible with UWB, which is why the BT-SIG wants future products to support both today's 2.4GHz wireless transmissions and UWB. "The ultimate goal is to work towards an architecture that allows devices to take advantage of UWB data rates for scenarios requiring that speed while maintaining backward compatibly with both existing Bluetooth devices on the market and future products not requiring the higher data rate," said BT-SIG executive director Michael Foley. But which UWB? Chip maker Freescale was quick to welcome the BT-SIG's decision, touting its Direct Sequence UWB (DS-UWB) technology as the ideal basis for the organisation's aims. But Intel has always been a strong member of the BT-SIG and it, along with other members, is backing the merged WiMedia Alliance/Multiband OFDM Alliance, which interestingly Microsoft joined last week. ® Related stories Porn, Dubai and Bluetooth phone hacking... No 'Toothing' please, we're British UWB tech groups combine forces UWB group dumps IEEE to speed wireless USB, 1394
Tony Smith, 04 May 2005

Yahoo! has minimal spyware, adware revs streams

This story has expired from The Register's archive. You can now find it at its original location on the Forbes.com website: http://forbes.com/markets/2005/05/04/0504automarketscan05.html?partner=theregister.
Forbes.com, 04 May 2005

UK computer boffins build sign language avatar

Computer scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have joined forces with animation specialists at Televirtual, and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) to create a signing avatar capable of translating written web pages into British sign language. Two signing experts from the RNID helped to translate the physicality of British sign Language into a set of symbols. These symbols have been further translated into computer code by UEA researchers, the BBC reports, which will prompt Guido to animate the appropriate gesture. Traditionally setting up a virtual signer means dressing actual people in body suits and recording the movements. This can take a significant amount of time. Using the Guido system, the whole animation process can be done on a PC. When you think of accessibility issues on the web, you are probably more likely to think of a blind or partially sighted person needing some kind of text-to-voice translation of a web page. However, Sue Moore, from Norwich charity Deaf Connexions, told the BBC that the package will make web sites more accessible to deaf people whose first language is sign language, but for whom written English is still inaccessible. Guido will be going live on the Deaf Connexions site today. In kinda related news, CEC Systems, the company behind the spoken search engine Speegle, has launched a spoken RSS service that will read out your chosen feeds, while you work on other things. Company founder Gordon Renton says that this is not an accessibility tool, but another way of accessing information. He sees it as something akin to having the radio on in the background and envisages brokers using it to track news instead of relying on news tickers. We're not entirely convinced, but you can check it out here. Let us know what you make of it. ® Related stories Public IT must be accessible: EC BT automates talking book production PLCs hit back at complaints on web accessibility
Lucy Sherriff, 04 May 2005

Teen eBay fraudster sentenced to 12 months

A teenager who conned eBay customers out of £45,000 has been sentenced to one year's detention today. Philip Shortman, now 18, of Chester Close, New Inn, Pontypool, South Wales, admitted 21 counts of obtaining property by deception in October of last year, and has asked that another 64 offences be taken into account. Cardiff Crown Court heard how Shortman received money for goods he did not have. He then spent the money on holidays, limousines, clothes and electronics. Over 13 months, Shortman defrauded more than 100 eBay customers. He advertised goods for sale on the site, then contacted the winning bidders and get them send him the money. He would then ignore or taunt people who called to get the products, telling one customer, "This is my business - I make people fools", the Manchester Evening News reports. Shortman became addicted to the con, saying they "gave him a buzz". He continued to commit frauds after his arrest. He was ordered to forfeit £615 - all the cash he had left - and to hand over goods bought with the fraudulently-obtained money. The court heard that since his arrest Shortman had married and become a father. Defending, Lawrence Jones said: "Since he has admitted his guilt, his life has changed. He has undergone a sea-change. "He is relishing fatherhood and looking forward to the responsibility of being married." ® Related stories Teen eBay fraudster pleads guilty to £45k scam eBayer pleads guilty to 'anthrax' scare eBay deletes 'buy my vote' auctions
Robin Lettice, 04 May 2005

Apple iPod grabs half of US Flash player market

Apple's iPod Shuffle took more than half of the US Flash-based music player market last month, retail market watcher NPD has said, by way of a report from Merrill Lynch. NPD's stats put the Shuffle's share of the retail arena on 58 per cent, up from 43 per cent in February. Apple already commands the hard drive-based player market with a 90 per cent share. More than 70 per cent of all legal song downloads in the US are sold by Apple's iTunes Music Store, the Merrill Lynch client report notes, according to MacNN. Merrill also said the iPod family has a 40 per cent share of the Japanese market, according to numbers supplied by Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer. The numbers Merrill quotes are broadly suggested by other MP3 player vendors' experiences during Q1. Creative, maker of the Zen Micro, for example, saw flat salesduring the quarter, compared to the last three months of 2004. It shipped 2m music players, both Flash- and HDD-based units. Apple, by contrast, shipped 5.3m in the same period, up 17.8 per cent on the Q4 2004's 4.5m. Apple sold its 350,000,000th song download last month. We project it to pass the 500m mark between now and the end of June. ® Related stories Creative income falls on iPod-minced margins Apple iTunes sales tally passes 350 million Griffin launches iVault to encase iPod Shuffle Matsushita readies iTunes-friendly music player Apple's iPod stokes MP3 player market 'boom' Related reviews Apple iPod Mini 6GB Apple iPod Shuffle
Tony Smith, 04 May 2005

Unions hold powwow with Marconi over job fears

Union officials held "frank and constructive" discussions with troubled telecoms equipment maker Marconi this morning over the future of 10,000 jobs at the company. The hastily arranged meeting followed Marconi's announcement last week that it had failed to win a chunk of a £10bn telecoms project from BT. Shares in Marconi plunged 40 per cent on the news threatening the future of the company and the jobs of thousands of employees. Following today's meeting trade union Amicus said it plans to work with Marconi to "minimise headcount reductions, effect other financial savings and mitigate the consequences of the BT decision recognising the need to retain a highly skilled UK workforce". In a statement Amicus national officer Peter Skyte said: "We are disappointed with the lack of firm information leaving 4,000 UK employees and 10,000 employees worldwide touching the void without knowing whether the rope will be cut. "The company was unable to give us any firm details of the scale of job cuts and redundancies but expect to be able to do so within the next week." ® Related stories Marconi mulls bleak future following BT bombshell Job fears haunt Marconi Marconi savaged after failure to win BT 21CN deal
Tim Richardson, 04 May 2005

DataCore gets cheap and dirty with iSCSI SANs

Relatively cheap but sophisticated storage management tools continue to make their way down market thanks, in part, to renewed interest in the iSCSI protocol. The latest company trying to push this trend is DataCore Software, which has this week released Version 2.0 of its SANmelody software. This software basically lets a customer take two, standard one-way servers and use them to open up their SAN (storage area network) to high-end virtualization technology. The servers, running Windows and SANmelody, sit in front of a SAN and present an abstract view of the disks to servers. In this age of virtualization and heterogeneous management hype, the story here is pretty familiar. DataCore, however, does have a unique pitch - price. The base SANmelody software starts at just $1,000 and can serve up 8 virtualized disk drives to as many systems as a customer needs. DataCore has a higher-end, more expensive product called SANsymphony for connecting very large numbers of servers and storage systems together but thinks the features added to SANmelody will give most small- to medium-sized businesses all the management punch they require. One of the main new tools in Version 2.0 is something DataCore calls "virtual capacity." This technology will automatically free up more storage space for a database, for example, without demanding any hardware shutdowns. DataCore did provide this type of service in the past, but it was more complicated to set up. In the latest rev of the software, customers will find a wizard to guide them through the "virtual capacity" process. The second main addition to SANmelody is iSCSI failover. Here DataCore is trying to make the most of iSCSI technology by giving lower-end systems the type of redundancy you might expect with pricey Fibre Channel kit. "If you look at the high-end of the market, companies are using things like crossbars or clusters to pull this off, and that stuff is pretty complicated," said George Teixeira, the CEO at DataCore. "We use standard Ethernet connections between two servers to come up with a system that is comparable to anything out there." To go along with these additions, DataCore has also built in support for all of Microsoft's latest storage technology such as Volume Shadow Copy Service, iSCSI support in Windows Storage Server, Virtual Disk Services and hooks for Microsoft Clusters. DataCore went through a tough time a couple of years back when the large vendors were able to steal much the virtualization attention by announcing broad management platforms. The likes of EMC, IBM, Hitachi and Veritas all promised to manage a wide range of hardware from numerous vendors and to create the fabled "pools of disk" that could be controlled from a single console. Most of these products, however, never arrived as billed. The "heterogeneous" management software has ended up being rather "homogeneous." And the virtualization tools have been mediocre at best. The big vendors' failures and a heightened interest in virtualizing servers and storage systems has helped out the likes of DataCore in recent months, according to Teixeira. "We had some tough times in 2003 to be blunt," he said. "But SANmelody changed the market for us because it's easy to use and the price is low. It's what customers are looking for." DataCore, to be sure, doles out the same virtualization garble as every other vendor, promising a management heaven full of automation and abstracted disk. To its credit though, DataCore does at least place a heightened focus on keeping the price of its products down. You're not committing a huge chunk of a storage budget to get virtual here or making a long-term commitment to the proprietary. You're basically just buying a $1,000 virtualization server to free up more information to more clients. There's much more detailed pricing information on the SANmelody product available here. ® Related stories Cisco eyes the server with $250m Topspin buy IBM sells storage software to partner Cisco Wizards at Cisco find brain for storage switches HP and Falconstor team on fancy storage kit - report IBM's storage software owns all of EMC kit HP kills slow-selling marketing miracle
Ashlee Vance, 04 May 2005

HP prints up thousands of severance packages

Some things never change at HP, regardless of the highly-paid hood ornament listed as CEO. So we learned this week as word leaked out that close to 2,000 workers have taken voluntary severance packages and left the company. HP began offering the packages back on April 1 - the start of new CEO Mark Hurd's rule. Staffers in the US and Puerto Rico were given between five and 14 months of pay, depending on their length of employment at HP. Most of the employees who accepted the deals worked in the printing and imaging divisions in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Hurd is well acquainted with using severance packages as a long-term cost-cutting move. At NCR, "very senior people" were offered packages to leave en masse according to a former employee, while other managers were hit with massive pay cuts. "There was a huge exodus after that," the ex-NCR staffer told The Register. Hurd's predecessor Carly Fiorina was infamously known as the pinkslip princess for the countless waves of layoffs that took place during her time at HP. The moves at HP have already rattled people living in Boise, Idaho - the home to much of HP's printing work. "I am dreading this news," Sally Field, a worker at a child care business told The Idaho Statesman. "We have a lot of wonderful HP families." The paper said a number of the former HP staffers have already put their houses on the market. Local observers also noted that many of the employees were older people with families and not young, single staffers - making their loss of a job especially damaging. HP has yet to return our calls seeking comment. ® Related stories Sun critic trades up on Wall Street HP becomes EMC software reseller in $325m settlement NCR's Q1 goes the way of the Hurd Sniping bloggers can keep America safe from terrorists and cats!
Ashlee Vance, 04 May 2005

IBM to fix bad quarter by axing 13,000 jobs

IBM will carve up to 13,000 workers from its payrolls with European staffers taking the majority of the hit, the company announced today. The actual layoff range provided by IBM stretches between 10,000 and 13,000 workers, who will be axed via both voluntary and involuntary means. These actions will lead to IBM taking between a $1.3bn and $1.7bn charge in its second quarter. Are the layoffs a shock? Hardly. Analysts speculated about a five-digit firing ever since IBM posted lackluster first quarter results. IBM blamed weak mainframe and storage sales and slow sales in Europe for a significant earnings miss. Now, it seems, European workers will have to pay the price. "The actions will accelerate progress toward more globally integrated operations, while addressing profitability in slower-growth regions, primarily in Europe," IBM said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Later in the filing it added, "The majority of the overall workforce reductions are planned for Europe, and the company has initiated discussions of these changes with local consultation bodies." One could easily argue that IBM is being a bit rash with these moves. On the surface, it appears that Big Blue is firing a huge quantity of staffers just to please shareholders. Its mainframe and storage businesses have performed well over the last couple of years - so does one miss justify such a broad stroke? Last August, IBM bragged that it would hire 19,000 new staffers by the end of 2004. More than half that total is now being sent packing just four months into the new year. What dramatic change has taken place in IBM's business to warrant such a mood swing? IBM's rivals have not seen the same slowdown in overall IT spending or European weakness mentioned again and again by Big Blue. So, again, what gives? ® Related stories Sun erases fourth quarter profit with $1 billion charge Dell ready to go on India hiring binge IBM may fix slump by firing 10,000 - analyst IBM faces protests IBM finds misconduct, earnings abroad
Ashlee Vance, 04 May 2005